First we have to tune in–to slow down–to listen. If your life is anything like mine it is noisy even when it is quiet. I have young children and there is a wonderful constantness to this part of life. Even if I am not particularly busy, the moments, hours and days are very full and constantly noisy. It is hard to listen to the urges from my heart when there is so much pulling me to distraction–even if it is good distraction. And so we have to carve out some time from the noise.
This is the first in a series of posts to honor and celebrate the New Year.
I hope your holiday has been merry and bright. As I look back on my year, the word that comes to mind is ABUNDANT. 2014 was full of family, friends, my new book, new fabric collections, prayer flags for the Dalai Lama, this new website, teaching, speaking, and community.
To: all the parents of the earth on the day your kids start school in the fall
From: me…today on the day my kids went back to school
We dropped them off, my husband and I. We walked them into their loving classrooms. They were cool. They were fine. They were happy. They knew what to do. Our littlest one started Kindergarten without a hesitation, a misstep, a faltering or a look back. She was born ready for this day. Our oldest sauntered out to play like an old pro. Last year his teacher gave us the best compliment about our son. She said he is on his own form of Valium…that his calmness helps keep the other kids grounded. She said everything is no big deal for him. (I’m sure that is all true at school…but it is a different story at home.)
The kids start school tomorrow–so summer officially ends. I just now cried and hugged them on the floor. My daughter starts kindergarten (which is making me cry as I type) and she suggested that I go into her room tomorrow and find some stuffed animals to cuddle while they are in school. But then again, she also said, “Oh, it’s OK because you have so many emails to do and you need to be alone.” She’s actually right. My email inbox is jammed full…I have so many projects to finish and deadlines waiting, but I surrendered it all to summer for the last few weeks and it was good.
I almost read a whole book.
I had my first mammogram.
I tried to do a handstand on the beach. It is harder than it looks.
I fell down into a hole for a few weeks in June.
I stopped eating sugar, drinking coffee and eating chocolate to help myself climb out of that hole I fell into. Also, I took B Vitamins.
I turned 42.
I designed my next fabric line in my mind. I can’t wait to create it.
It rained once.
My first DVD came out. I watched it like 6 times.
I travelled home to the South with my family.
Kids do well when travelling.
Family love is big and beautiful.
There is nothing like cousins.
We led prayer flag workshops in Arizona and Alabama for our Happy Flag project in honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We got good press here.
My dad lives way too far away. It is precious time when I am with him.
My kids do not do well with boundless hours of summer stretching out before them.
My baby girl can swim…for real…like a dolphin-mermaid.
My son will undoubtedly grow up to design and engineer cool things.
He bought Fart Bombs this summer and enjoyed them very much.
My husband sleeps in our bed again after a year. (No, we weren’t fighting for a year…but he couldn’t sleep with the kids in there.)
It is really nice to sleep with my husband again.
We fought about money.
We bonded as our children’s behavior grew so bad deep in the summer that we holed up against their attacks by just laughing about it behind our closed door. We hid from them. We giggled.
He started planning our fall garden.
I did my once yearly deep cleaning of the whole house and it was good.
I surrendered all work and obligations to the rhythms of my children and our house:
laundry, Legos, homework, dolls, cleaning and cooking.
Wars erupted all over the planet.
Also, I read Harry Potter to my kids.
And my children’s feet grew–that part near the heel and below the ankle–
on each of them–it is so big–almost as big as mine.
We watched Master Chef and lots of other TV and movies together…a lot.
I ate my children. I breathed them in. I enjoyed them. They pissed me off.
They hurt my feelings. They loved me so much. ALL of the craziness happened.
And it was good.
They acted wild. They acted lovely.
They are beautiful.
So is my husband.
So was my summer.
My book about creativity, The Little Spark, comes out this fall and I couldn’t be more excited.
I made a lot of green smoothies with raw cacao.
Dates are a very good natural sweetener for cacao-avocado smoothies.
(I want a Ninja blender.)
My kids start school next week.
And as ever, my heart will break as they step into their classrooms and our cocoon is shattered again until winter break.
You’d think I wouldn’t miss them at all based on the way they acted this summer…
but a mother’s memory is short and faulty.
All we can see is the love underneath the boundary-testing and misbehavior.
All we see is beauty.
And it was a beautiful summer.
We all spent a lot of time together in the studio making things.
And then Robin Williams…
I had a pause today–a moment of quiet reflection–staring out the window…and I had some thoughts. On this day of Independence here in the US, I’m thinking a lot about freedom. Actually, I’m thinking about whether or not money buys us freedom. And I am feeling that it does. Certainly, it does. I know. But, at what price? What do we lose in the pursuit? Of course we must work and work hard…but at what?
I have said and I maintain that I have never bought into the “struggling artist” paradigm. (In fact, I feel that if I am struggling at anything then I am probably doing it wrong.) Yet when I compare myself to others, I very much feel the loser. On paper that is. In the realm of stuff. But not in the realm of the spirit and the soul. There I feel very rich indeed, and not even by comparison. I dare say, I feel free. There are many routes to that freedom. For me, this moment right here with the keyboard under my fingers is my goldmine. Or being with my kids as they turn cardboard boxes into homemade foosball games and other contraptions, or lost in making magic in studio, whether painting, or sewing, or just gathering sticks on a walk to turn into something later, as we did today.
My life is not leisurely, per se. There is no, or very little, sitting still. Not much leisure, rest, respite, travel, or even reading. Not much time for reveries by the open window. But my life is the reverie. I am usually making something, cleaning something, emailing someone back (usually too late) or trying desperately to teach my children to eat healthy snacks and not clobber each other. Yet, it is all the dream. I feel terribly, terribly lucky to occupy this exact very life. I love it, despite the toiling, the constantness. Because my life is a creative expression of the love that lives in my heart.
What we toil at matters. Where we put our love, energy and time matters, and it should feel good, although that isn’t always possible. Where I put my love, is where my life will go. So, I choose to go in the direction of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong…I so hope there is a pot of gold involved at some point of this rainbow, but there ain’t no use fretting over that too much. So I just keep showing up at work and play. I witness the beauty around me everyday and bathe in gratitude for the treasures I find in my family and in the world. Happy Independence day. I hope you have some freedom inside of you to follow your bliss, your passion, your Little Spark of creativity. If you don’t, go find it. It is there. Watch this video narrated by Alan Watts for some inspiration:
Oh, dear friends!
I am tremendously excited to share with you a most special project in honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to Birmingham, Alabama in October. Actually, I am rather stunned that we got the green light from the Birmingham Mayor’s office on Monday…but we did. To be honest, this project is so much bigger than me that I have no idea what it actually even is and I am curious to see how it will unfold.
So, I got a call about two months ago. It was Vivika De Negre from Interweave. I have always liked her when we’ve met at Market. She is lovely, warm and genuine. She said they’d like to produce a DVD of me doing some of my fabric collage and teaching design basics. She said they’d also film three segments for Quilting Arts TV on PBS on the same day. She said it would be filmed the week of March 24th…in a production studio…in Ohio. Solon, Ohio…just outside of Cleveland.