Monday, January 15, 2018

I'm a Wild, Faroe Island Pony!

Happy Monday and Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

I hope this crisp, cold day finds you well. At least it's crisp and cold here in Savannah. Oh we warmed up for a couple of days. It's the usual Southern song and dance. We have freezing weather and then, poof! It feels like spring. But we can never let our guard down because it's NOT spring and soon winter will return. In fact, they're calling for more snow in February. I'm not going to worry about. It's not February, yet, and I can't stop the weather.

Right now I'm cozied up to the radiator, a heated blanket draped over my shoulders, tea steeping and sifting through my first rounds of New Year's Plans. I get so excited about things, grab hold of a new idea and run with it until I collapse out of exhaustion. After the exhaustion fades (and the initial, hyper excitement), I'm able to take a good, focused look on the ideas and ask them what they really want from me. What they really have for me. Why they are really there. Ah, they are pleased and all that initial excitement it seems was falsely directed. Which is perfectly fine and I'm at peace with this revision process.

Do you have the same ideas visit you, year after year? Do you try to wrestle them into a mold of your own making or are you far wiser than I am? Do you let them be free, wild and running, dragging you along behind them, laughing, hair whipping in the wind? That's what I'm working on right now. Letting myself get dragged along until I can mount that wild, Faroe Island pony* and let it carry me all the way to the summit. The view is better there, I hear.

Here's to revisions and rewrites, new maps, overgrown paths and the best laid plans...

xo
Jen

*The Faroe Island pony is a hardy little creature, used for centuries for farm work and for herding sheep! When they aren't working, they are left to roam free in the wilds of the islands. 

Shaggy little thing, ain't he?

(Image found via Pinterest search)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

An Echo of Something I Once Knew

Back and forth. That's how I've felt for years. Write. Don't write. Write. Read. Make Art. Don't write. Forget about it. Make Music. Do it for yourself. Do it for others. Do it to make a statement. Do it to make a million bucks.

Answers are given if you're brave enough to ask the questions. Pathways are exposed if you look close enough. I've been sitting with a lot of questions these past few weeks. Just before Christmas and into the New Year.  The same questions I've asked again and again and again and this time, this time, I heard something.

Oh it wasn't a booming voice from heaven. It was more like an echo of something I once knew. Why now, though? Seriously. Why not the years and years of asking?

I believe the answer is in the asking. Now hold on before you run off. Think about how you ask for things. Some questions are asked meekly. Some, boldly. Some are more like demands and others are a beggar's pleading. I've done them all. Especially that whole sniveling, begging thing. Ugh.

This time I sat with the questions of writing and thinking and wondering and art and ...

... OK, here's where it gets bit weird ...

... I didn't ask at all.

I just sat. When you've spent your entire life asking the same questions it's time to STOP ASKING.  Even if, especially if, you haven't got the answers yet. Well, you just THINK you haven't gotten the answers yet. I'm going to tell you a secret: If you, like me, have always asked yourself the same questions about life - YOUR life - without feeling like you've received a concrete answer, YOU'RE WAITING FOR A FEELING AND NOT AN ACTUAL ANSWER. 

You already have the answers.

No really. If you didn't you would keep asking the same questions. You just haven't gotten the answers you want.

...

Let that sink in. I'll wait. It took me a minute to process.

...

Yoga teaches us to sit with thoughts until they feather away into the ether. Meditation teaches us to let the thought work itself around in our imaginations until it extracts an answer. Depth Psychology asks us to dig deep, to stop sitting on the surface, grab a shovel and go.

Yoga teaches us to be pliable, to stretch and bend and not break. Meditation teaches us to allow our minds to be stronger than the hounding of the outside world. Depth Psychology asks us to get dirty and mess things up.

You're going to get dirt under your nails.
You're going to uproot things.
You're going to kill insects and worms and small plants not yet established.
You're going to hit rocks and clay and sand.
You're probably going to sink up to your chin in a bunch of muck and gunk that you've got to pull out with your bare hands.

Then and only then will you get to the bedrock - that unshakable, unmovable layer of yourself that is YOU, the you you thought you've been waiting to discover but that has actually been there the whole time.

As we're still getting acquainted with this New Year I challenge you to uncover what questions you've been asking yourself for years, perhaps, like me, decades. Then, I challenge you to sit with them and let them grow and blossom and lead you to the spot in the forest. There's a shaft of sunlight shining there, Dear Heart. And there's a shovel.

Start digging.

xo 
Jen
______________________________________

Photos taken at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina October 2017

Monday, January 8, 2018

A rather frozen start

The ice and snow are melting but there are still little patchwork spots of white in backyards and rooftops. It's been a strange start to a new year but a magical one. I've been holed up at home except for the two days I was able to get to work and, of course, there had to be the slap of a relapse.

The good thing about being confined to the sofa is I can think and plan for the upcoming year. My biggest challenge is not planning too much; you know, trying to conquer the world by August. I have a nasty habit of trying to cram all my plans and goals into a workable plan between January and July. Very industrious of me but not practical. Still, it's fun to see what's sprouting in my winter garden.

Before the New Year and the snow and the Fibro/M.E. relapse I was able to finish two new stitching patterns. These are much larger than anything I've attempted before and they are proving a bit cumbersome with my usual, normal sized embroidery hoops. Still, I enjoy the challenge of sewing them and figuring out the color scheme along the way.




Now I'm beside the radiator, draped in a heated blanket listening to the ice drip off the roof in tiny rivers. The sun is shining but there's rain in the forecast starting tomorrow. That could explain the aches and pains that crept up on me overnight. Ah well, that's why we have the heated blanket, right?

Here's to also spending some time culling those plans I mulled over the past few days and bringing some semblance of order to them. Most importantly, however, is the hope that I'm able to really hone in on what needs to be done and sift it away from what I wish I could do. Clarity, that's my wish for you today. Clarity of purpose and of vision.

Here's to a splendid New Year!

xo
Jen

Friday, January 5, 2018

Winter Wonderland

As humans we get used to things. Predictability we crave. Knowledge before hand is preferred. I'll admit to being one of the worst. "But what if I miss out?" "What if I don't KNOW?" "What will happen?"

But sometimes, the wonder is in the waking.

To wake to snow is always magic. In Savannah, a city known for balmy summer's spent by the sea, beneath bearded oaks or in cafes to avoid the 100*F heat index, it's a true wonder.

History tells it's been almost thirty years since The Hostess City has seen this much snow. To be here, after only three years, to see it. To wander in it.

Humbling, pure joy.

First came the ice, in pellets that bounced about the courtyard and gathered in gutters and in leaf beds.

I decided the best place to be was by the radiator with cup of tea and a stack of books. I'm off anyway Wednesdays; the snow was kind to afford me that courtesy. The stress of wondering takes away the pleasure of hibernating.


My husband rode his bike into work. It's only a mile and a half. I was up with him, brewing the first of many cups of coconut Oolong. About two hours into the morning, a text urged me, "Go look outside."

While I sat stitching, the sleet turned to flurries and I - having to find a dry coat and dry gloves after my earlier foray into the frozen stuff - stuffed my double socked feet into my Wellies and wandered to the end of the lane. 

The snow was drifting and I was delighted. The oranges and kumquats and drip over our neighbor's fence were already showing icicles.

It was just a dusting, though, so back to warmth I went.

And then...

Obligatory Palm-Trees-in-the-Snow Shot

That's my husband's coat. I seriously need to up my snow-gear game!
Look over my shoulder, to the right. Those are kumquats, kids!

We took out a ruler and it read "1 1/2 inches" 
For a city that usually sits at 50* on a "cold" day, THAT is tremendous!

Sure, I could have built a bigger snowman, but this little Hippie Savannah Snowman 
seemed to best embody the quirk of our freak, southern snow storm.

Jon came home early, walking because biking was too dangerous. The parks he passed were draped in snow. The city was clothed in angel dust and everyone you met was smiling. Everyone was out in it! Dogs and kids and people clutching cups of coffee. Snowballs stuck to gloved fingers and metal sheds without melting. We lumbered about then whooshed back to warmth while the cats admonished us from the sofa, "Ain't no WAY we want any part of THAT!"

Disclaimer: Hilde, the cat in the front, didn't want anything to do with the snow.
Mina, on the other hand, wandered out in it and scampered about for a while.
She does have extra toes. We assumed they served as built in mittens.

Night fell and brought more enchantment. The full moon just two days gone, lit glittering silver and we crunched our way six blocks to the park. My cloak dragged the ground and billowed, Snape-like, as the wind caught and played and chilled, reminding us of the dangers of frostbite.

A friend mentioned that picture would make a great dark-metal album cover.

Perhaps I have a change of career coming this year?

Streetlights were orbs and branches woven from glass. Steam rose from the drains and our noses froze without a breeze.

It's was still cold on Thursday and I didn't go to work. The lane was frozen solid and our neighborhood streets are shaded. I slid to the nearest stop sign in boots and decided I'd rather take my chances with more tea and I thankfully work for wonderful people who'd rather their employees remain safe than risk life and limb to show up to work on an ice-ridden morning.

Wednesday and Thursday looked a lot like this, an ideal for sure, and one I'm working on daily:

Some of you know I sew. I do hand embroidery and make patchwork. I did a 100 Days of Stitching project on my Instagram that ended in December and I'm excited to start some new designs and see where the New Year leads in that regard.

There's a novel and a short story sitting on my hard drive. They'll get edits soon, after they simmer a bit and I'm satisfied that I'm far enough removed from them I can edit objectively.

For now, I'm going to dream, sketch and stitch, and wonder where my other characters got off to. I'm pretty sure they're lost out there, somewhere, in the snow.



Stay warm, Dear Readers!
Cheers.

xo





The uncurtained light fanned from the windows. It was barely dark, and at the turning of the year; the starved and wintry landscape lay under snow, like a beggar dying in a kingly gown. Dark and silence and the soft oblivion of snow, the pure and primal earth: as if with her wavering candle, [she] began the world.
                         ~ Greer Ilene Gilman, 
                             Moonwise





Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year! - IWSG January 2018

Good morning and Happy New Year!

Today is the first gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group for 2018. Welcome! If you're new to the IWSG, check out the website HERE and also pay a visit to our fearless leader Captain Alex HERE.

Our fabulous co-hosts for January are: Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria. Make sure to pay them a visit and thank them for a job well done :)

* * * * *

Well, hello there! Honestly, I didn't expect to be back here this soon. In fact, I wasn't sure if I'd be back at all. But a funny thing happened during my little hiatus. I relaxed and rebooted. I reflected and made peace with a lot of things, mainly myself. I found my rooting and I'm content to let that take time.

Perhaps that's the most important lesson I learned during the holidays. TIME isn't our enemy. Time is a friend, a dear friend, who keeps us in check and urges us forward. Time whispers of passing minutes and asks us to take stock of our ideas. Time wants us to make progress but also understands that we can't do everything all at once. Time wants us to understand that we have just as much of it as everyone else has, but our journey through time is all our own.


I have two auto-immune disorders that make it hard for me to commit to a really hard schedule. I have to tread gently, pick my barefoot way among thorns and brambles all the while looking for herbs for the gathering. I have to be selective in how I spend my off time (I still work a part-time job). My hands itch for pen and ink, for fabric and needles, for clay and glaze. Sometimes, however, I have to resign myself to the sofa or the courtyard chairs. Am I as far along on my journey as I'd like to be? No. But I'm OK with that. I had a good, hard look at my goals and dreams and feel nothing but peace for the coming year.

And one of those goals and dreams is this blog. I've been blogging for 10 years now. This blog has morphed and changed along with me. It's stopped and restarted more times than I can remember. Some of you are still here through all the upheaval and I THANK YOU. I started this blog to connect with the world and somewhere in the shuffle I lost sight of that connection. Too much is piped at us through the great sludge of Social Media and I let it worm it's way into my humble garden. 


So here I am, brand new year with a brand new header and a not-so-brand-new initiative. I want to share my art as well as my thoughts. I want to hear from YOU, Dear Reader, and connect through the stories that enlighten us. I won't make any promises for rigid posting schedules. I won't even promise what will be posted when. If you're interested in content, I've updated my Weekly Posting page and my little WELCOME blurb on the side bar.

All in all, I'm happy to be back and I'm happy to see YOU here :) I wish you all a wonderful 2018. Now let's go forth and make some fresh footprints in the untrod snow of a fresh, new year. 

Here's to Wonder,


On Sabbatical...

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