Everyday Matters Feed

They Followed Me Home...Honest!


There's a battle being pitched here in Virginia - Me vs. Stuff

Stuff is ahead by a long shot.

A really long shot, but I'm not giving up. 

I'm determined to clear some of this clutter out, and Phil keeps dropping stuff off at various thrift shops. Boxes and boxes and bags and bags of stuff. Three people live in this house, and stuff keeps following us home.

So, I keep sorting, tossing, boxing, bagging, and more. Even my art stuff, which is a history of everyshiny object that's caught my eye. I've worked really hard at narrowing down what I'm truly interested in, which is still quite a bit to be honest. That being said, how much paper do I truly need? How much washi tape (I really have a thing for washi tape!), how many art books on making stuff? 

I guess that some people might figure that all this downsizing and jettisoning of stuff is happening because I'm 65, and after all isn't that what old folks do? Downsize for their later years.

And, there might be some truth in that, but only a tiny bit. Memories of  clearing out my mom and dad's house still haunt me. Since both were depression babies, they really tended to hold onto stuff that should have been tossed years and years ago. Dad's dementia just added another layer to the mess. I would love to not repeat that mess.

Mostly, though, it's a wanting for things to be restful, for my house to be a haven and not a cluttered mess that constantly reminded me what needed to be cleared up, put away, etc.

Phil and I travel a lot, short distances mostly, but we've seen many a vacation home, hotel room, etc. And, so often, I'd enter and sigh in happiness. Clean lines, empty spaces on dressers where my eyes could rest. Nothing piled in corners. All of it makes me happy.

That's what I want...empty spaces to fill up something that I need. 

Along with this wanting of being able to simply rest easily, to like what I'm looking at, is a nagging feeling reminding me just how much money I've blown on stuff. Stuff that I'm now tossing and donating. I could sell it, but honestly, I just want it out, and I don't want much more coming in.

There's a heaviness that accompanies stuff.

These past several weekends, my daughter and I have been exploring all sorts of antique markets and design homes. We love it, just love it.

I've done so much imaginary spending and fake buying, your head would spin, probably both clockwise and counterclockwise. Maybe both at the same time.

Each market has its own signature; one is mostly restored furniture. Another might focus more on knick knack sorts of things. One is shabby chic; another gives off an edgy urban feel. 

Here's what I love - the inspiration. Color combinations, ways to repurpose things, and more. Dealers arrange their stuff into wonderful vignettes, and when one display catches my eye, makes me stop in my tracks, I stop and begin to analyze. 

What's making me go, "Ahhhhhhhhhh?" Is it repetition? a color combination? all the textures? 

I take photos to remember, print out the photos when I get home, and start jotting notes, because even though I'm certain I'll remember, I most probably won't. 

Most jaunts result in nothing coming home. Nothing. Because the little voices in my mind begin to nag.

Do you really want to have to dust that? Where are you going to store it? How soon before it ends up at the thrift shop? Do you want to pay to move it? Do you need another platter? You already have 4 or 5, and you're just buying them because your mom collected them and it makes you feel better.

And, we have a rule. If something comes into the house, something has to leave the house.

I do slip up every now and then. Those wonderfully quirky red stools/chairs above provide evidence of my all too human nature and the psychology of consumerism.

I could tell you that they are a late Christmas/birthday gift for Phil. I could also tell you that we've been looking for a chair that's going to relieve leg achiness from standing while cooking and baking. And, I did promptly toss a few large items out of the house.

But, honestly? 

They followed me home.


Quieting the Monkeys

Stitch Med 1

Have you ever seen the cartoon that shows a woman's mind vs. a man's? The one where the guy sits in front of the computer, just plodding away, just one tab open. On the other hand, the woman has a gazillion (former math teacher here) tabs open and seems to be actively engaged with each one. That's me. That's my mind.

Another way  of saying it, I've got a lot of mind monkeys, most of them doing some really odd things.

So, I've been looking for ways to close some of the tabs, to oust some of those darn monkeys.

Photography is one; slow stitching is another.

Stitch Med 3

There's just something about it that calms me; the rhythmic in and out of the needle, the putting together of odd pieces to make something brand new. The squares are tiny, just 4" X 4", so technically, it should be a fairly quick project. Technically.

Because, you see, some of the above mentioned monkeys begin to chatter. If I don't listen, they chatter louder.

My stitching is crooked and not evenly sized of spaced.

I answer with a resounding, "Yep." 

The idea is that it shouldn't matte; this isn't the time to worry about stellar stitching or an amazing end product. 

It's time to get lost in the process, to just be.

But those damn monkeys just get louder, and I've been known to tear out the stitches that I'm not supposed to worry about, let alone tear out. 

Sometimes I manage it, manage to leave in all the wonderful wonkiness.

I wish those times were more frequent.

Stich Med 2

Most of the time, I grab a fabric that appeals and just begin. 

I'm not supposed to worry about all the bits and pieces going together, but sometimes I do.

This morning I read/wrote about letting go of expectations in my morning pages. Obviously, my letting go is a real work in process, because I do fuss at times. These tiny squares can take several days if I'm having a really tough time letting go. 

But this last square, "Evidence," was planned. The two background, the blue and the off white with brown stripes, came from Phil's shirts that could no longer be worn to the office. They'd been washed at least one too many times. So, I salvaged what I could. 

I liked the idea of creating a stitch meditation recycling these cast offs.

The green, and the pinkish circle, came from a gellli printing class many years ago. 

The black bit and the word, evidence, are the only "new" bits. 

Evidence can be defined as "remains" and "remnants." Discovering that tiny bit buried in my stash seemed to be a perfect find. It fits.

It feels good to be back doing this again.

It does seem to corral some of the monkeys, to close down some of the open tabs.

I'm working on quiet.

I'm working on stillness.

I'm working on letting go.

Never Ready, Never Done

Bowl on table

This morning, I listened to a "Love Letter" from Meghan Genge, cohost along with Jamie Ridler, of Love Letters, a series of 32 messages on creativity and more. I have to confess that I've gotten really picky about these free events, since way too many of them end up promoting what they have to sell more than anything else. Jamie is a different story...she generously shares so much good stuff.

Meghan's video chat drew me in immediately; her message one that I've heard many a time in one form or another. But, it never hurts to hear it again, to be reminded of what I know, but I too often forget. 

"You're never ready; you're never done."

I can be the master of excuses at putting creativity off. My mind has so many tabs open: photography, writing, slow stitch, mixed media. I can't begin to tell you how much I've created - in my mind that is. I wake during the night composing a blog entry, working out a photo, and more. Trouble is I'm way too good at finding reasons that I'm not ready. I need my dslr, not my phone. I need my "To Do List" to disappear, because what's on there is way too important and really should be done first, done before I sit down to create. I get in my own way. 

Never done. I do this one well. I love to learn, to research, to explore. As I finish up something, another idea pops into my too many tabs opened mind. It might be a "better" way to do what I've done. It might be something brand new. I'm not idea challenged, but when I sit down to write, the little gremlin, aka inner critic, whispers, "Really? Why bother?" and then gives me a laundry list of why I shouldn't bother, and oh, yeah, remember all that stuff you need to do? Like laundry?

Meghan's advice: Just begin. Just take one step. Then, take another. Yeah, I know this, but again, it's just good to hear it, to be reminded.

I've been working through a mindful photography course with Julie Fischer MeCarter, whose work never fails to inspire. One assignment this week asked us to take a meaningful object and photography it outside of its normal surroundings. I chose my mother's blue bowl, aka the "Cookie Bowl."

Bowl on path

Julie asked us to go with whatever popped into our heads, that it would be the right choice. 

And I thought, that cookie bowl is too big to be lugging around. Besides, it's too cold to go outside.

Sigh. That damn inner critic.

So, yesterday, I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and the most beautiful light outside my window. Out I went in a fuzzy blue art making stained bathrobe, my phone, a pair of slippers, and at the very last minute grabbed the bowl. 

Exiting through our back room door, I stopped dead. 

Well, crap, it's morning rush hour and I live immediately off of one of Virginia's busiest roads. Not only are there thousands of commuters driving by, but the middle school busses passed by as well.

And, I was the crazy lady in her bathrobe making photos of a bowl. Well, if nothing else, I'd provide a bit of conversation for a lot of folks. 

Bowl in leaves

It's not pretty outside right now, not unless you happen to love brown. I happen not to, finding it a pretty depressing color. Looking around I spotted a grungy looking moose (dog toy), also brown. A few tennis balls, the toy car the twits drive, but not one thing I could see to do with the bowl.

I wanted my dslr (never ready!) but knew if I went back inside, I probably wouldn't come out. I knew I'd get some great shots if I laid flat on the ground...uhm, no. Not going to happen. Virginia's commuters and middle schoolers already had enough to talk about. Besides, that ground is cold!

Leaves. I had lots and lots of leaves. I also had a meandering stone path that would make for great leading lines. 

I went for both, and quickly at that. When I'm shivering, it's hard to get things focused the way I like.

In the end, despite the not readys, I ended up with some cool shots. I can only imagine what my mom would be thinking. You filled the cookie bowl with dead leaves? Girl, you need to see the doctor. 

I love this bowl; it holds memories more than leaves. 

I love my shots; I know what I'd like to try next (never done!), and it will involve lying on the ground and my big girl camera. 

I love how I learned to look at the bowl differently; placing it out of context does that.

I love the stories my photos tell.

I like that I did some thinking "outside the box." 

Most of all, I like that I didn't just write this in my head.



I'm sitting here, listening to the rain, a gentle rhythmic falling from the sky. Cool crisp air hints of autumn, but part of me still lingers in summer.

As I edit this photo, my mind plays out one of those tiny moments that seem like nothing on the surface but still manage to float through my memories nearly 50 years later.

We'd just moved, from one tiny town to another, and this new world around me proved rich for exploring. My sister and I roamed everywhere, for blocks and blocks. Tiny patches of wild flowers, ripe for the picking dotted the landscape. These I could gather, take home, and enjoy. Sheer magic, indeed, since at our last home, I'd learned several hard lessons about not doing the same with our neighbor's plantings!

I can picture that corner where Green Street met one end of Octorara Avenue, thick with weeds, trees, and these tiny flowers I'd never noticed before. Gravel bit into my knees, as I knelt down to investigate further, then begin to pick. 

Flash forward a bit, the scene shifting to my mother and I sitting on her bed, flowers everywhere and soft afternoon light coming through the sheers on her windows. She gently explains that the flowers are Bachelor's Buttons, a name that made no sense to this 7 year old. So, we talked.

We talked about what a bachelor was, a very strange concept initially because pretty much everyone I knew seemed to be married. With a bit of gently prodding on my mom's part, I realized that many of my uncles were the perfect example of bachelors, never married, probably never would be.

But then, more confusion ensued. As my mom explained that many bachelors wore flowers in the lapels of their suits, especially on important occasions, I began to protest. My seemingly almost always drunk unmarried uncles would not have been caught dead with a flower anywhere on them.

I don't remember how mom explained that one; mostly I just remember that tangle of utter confusion about this flower's name mixed with delight in the flower itself. 

It's such a tiny memory, a few random minutes of my childhood, of my mother. 

A few random minutes intertwined with love. 


The Gang of Three

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Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with soccer!. I just happen to like the photo, and it does have 3 kiddos in it!

Three ring circus.

Three blind mice.

Three French hens.

Three dog night.

Three little pigs.

Three ring circus.

And then...well, then, there's the "Gang of Three," which nearly drove me to be "three sheets to the wind."

First up: "Dyson," who happens to generally be a trustworthy soul. Not so much the other day. Dyson seemed to be in a royal snit.

We started out okay, although in retrospect, he didn't seem to be quite himself. I needed to get the darn house vacuumed though, and as I'm not likely to want to do it another day, I persisted.

One room down. The second down. And on to the middle floor we went, which is where Dyson just lost it. I'd tell you he blew his top, but truthfully, it was a front piece.

Back and forth, back and fourth, and then, "Bam!" With a great show of force, Shark hurled his front rib cage cover across my dining room floor.

I paused, turned him off, put his cover back on him, thinking that maybe I had caught it on the edge of a door frame or something.

Nope. Within 10 seconds, off his cover flew again. Repeat several times just to be "sure."  Well, crap, Dyson meant business.

I pushed Dyson into a corner, then headed to the lowest level and grabbed Shark. Shark and I had not spent any quality time together lately, so I felt about leery, but darn it, I needed to get the house swept.

So, off we went. Shark seemed amiable enough at first, and we managed to do the dining room, when he just up and quit.

Oh, yeah. Now, I remembered. Shark never did like the long term haul. Short and sweet, maybe one room. He felt absolutely no need to exert himself. None. He simply turned himself off when he'd had enough.

Off into the corner he went to trade stories with Dyson.

Back downstairs I faced Dirt Devil. Dirt Devil had all his parts, and he ran like a champ during the long haul.


Well, Dirt Devil's problem was that he sucked because he didn't suck. He glided over the floor, failing to pick up anything. He simply could not be bothered.

At this point, a slew of words flew across the room, words not to be shared aloud since this happens to be a family friendly blog.

I emailed the love of my life, stating firmly that having three vacuum cleaners, none of which worked did not equal a good time no matter how you looked at it.

I reminded him that he had numerous reminders to take apart Dyson, clean him up, and get him ready to roll.

I reminded him that Shark frequently shut down, but I'd been assured that he (the love of my life) had also promised to investigate.

I reminded him why Dirt Devil sucked...or didn't.

I firmly stated that he (the love of my life) had better not tell me that he "forgot" since he remembered the dates and time of every hockey game played by Pittsburgh. Yep, I was at my finest.

I left the gang of three front and center so that they'd be the first thing he saw when he opened the door.

The love of my life....without a word being said...took Dyson apart to clean him. I think Dyson still might be apart, and that needs to be fixed.

He coaxed Shark into submission long enough to finish vacuuming the house at 11 P.M. that night.

He performed surgery on Dirt Devil, locating a ball point pen in his innards, removing it, and pronouncing him "good to go." I haven't investigated that either.

I plan to vacuum tomorrow. If you hear not so nice words coming out of Northern Virginia, you can safely assume I'm battling the "Gang of Three" yet once again.

And, I just might be working on becoming "three sheets to the wind!"

Monday, Monday


Outside my window, bare branches rest against a heavy gray sky, looking far more winter like than the first day of spring.

I am thinking that this budget bit is a load of crap and in now way compassionate. It seems to strike at those who need the help the most. No kid should be hungry, nor should any senior. Such tiny parts of the budget in the grand scheme of things. It breaks my heart.

I am thankful for what I have, and I'm struggling to keep that in the front of my mind and to not let worry overwhelm me. Yes, I'm thinking about myself here, the potential for horrible health care costs just when we need it the most. Who knows about social security....not an entitlement in my mind. I've paid into that baby for years and years and years. So many friends and relatives in the same boat. So, I pray for them, for us, and for everyone, really.


I am wearing jeans, an old school t-shirt, and a sweater to take off the chill. Cleaning clothes that I don't need to worry about as I delve into closets to de-clutter and sort. There's a pile of packages ready for Goodwill.

I am creating clean space to rest my eyes on. I love seeing this space come into being. And, of course, I'm creating these tiny stitch as meditation squares. They calm my monkey mind and make me happy. So much color and texture, and the in and out repetition of the hand stitching soothes my soul.


I am reading the New York Times and Washington Post to try to stay informed. I am not reading most of what flies across Facebook, no matter what the party. Fake news seems to be a mainstay of both sides, and it's all a lesson in patience and trying to figure out what's really happening. It's also enough to make my eyes cross.

I am hoping people can learn to think a bit more and not just react. To work for what's good for us as a country, not just what our particular party wants to happen. Mostly, I hope people can really begin to just be kind to one another. It doesn't cost much to do so, and the pay off is huge.


I am hearing traffic make its way along Old Keene Mill Road, and the voices of students walking home. A few birds chatter noisily, and Mr. Crow scolds us all.

Around the house, floors wait to be mopped, laundry piles up, and boxes wait to be carted away. The twits' toys can be found almost anywhere, including robotic monkeys and Native American projects. Crayons, glue, felt, and more give evidence that creativity happened, and that makes me smile. Other things wait for their assigned spots as I continue this de-cluttering project.


One of my favorite things, homemade nut roll, whispers, "Come eat me," from the kitchen. I don't think it has to worry; I've already put a healthy dent into it!

A few plans for this week:

 - more decluttering and sorting

 - a start to spring cleaning

 - editing photos

 - creating and sending snail mail

 - stitch meditations each day

 - grocery shopping and more


Happy Spring!!!

Finding Beauty in the Season of Brown

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I'm looking at brown - brown tree limbs, brown leaves dangling and then letting go to drift slowly down to carpet the grass. The same grass bare of leaves just a few days ago. Only the sky differs, and it's gray and heavy with another bout of rain.

A hint of green lingers on the grass but will disappear all too quickly.

I'm not fond of this season; I just want to curl up under flannel sheets with a steaming cup of coffee by my side and just read. Mostly, I inhale books that provide mindless entertainment, the type that I send tumbling to the floor when I fall asleep and roll over. The type that when I pick them up, it doesn't matter if I find the "right" spot, because I won't miss much if I don't. Somehow, they're soothing at this time of year.

Right now, those flannel sheets tumble in the dryer, shedding lint like a dog leaving a trail of fur. I love these sheets, soft and rich to the touch, and ready to cocoon me in layers of warmth. But, being new, they take what seems like forever to dry.

Downstairs, traces of last night's homemade turkey soup linger. Each time I wander into the kitchen, the aroma teases my nose and taste buds. I know I can grab another bowl for lunch, and I just might do that. It's more than a bowl of soup; it's all the love that Phil put into this past summer's herbs, the slow and steady mincing of fresh veggies, and the patient wait for it all to blend into something wonderful. Good things really do come to those that wait.

Last Friday, the infamous "Black Friday" that will find me anywhere but a mall, we went a wandering in Virginia's wine country. A Facebook write up intrigued me, inviting me to "walk off my wobble" by climbing a small hill, grabbing a ticket to prove I'd made it to the top, trotting back, and then claiming a house made truffle. I can assure you that the truffle was well worth my climb!

And, I have to fess up, that Phil and I had avoided this winery for the longest time, visiting several others in the area instead. For some reason, its write up had me thinking that it leaned toward the snobby side. (We've inadvertently landed at some of those!), and blue jean clad me wanted to be able to relax...and to afford some wine! 868 Estate Vineyards...doesn't that name sound snobby?...pleasantly surprised us. It has an onsite restaurant to be explore later, but also tons of picnic tables for casual (and inexpensive!) fun, and just a great friendly air about it. The "868" turns out to be the elevation of where their new tasting room will be built, and where we had to climb to claim our truffle. So, a good lesson learned: First impressions aren't always spot on.

I'm meandering here, but then so are my thoughts. Some of them are working on convincing me that it might be a good idea to get at least one set of my physical therapy exercises done. Other thoughts, and rather louder thoughts, take great pleasure in reminding me that I'm going to hurt when I'm done. And, then the first thoughts come back and chortle, "No pain, no gain!" So, at some point, I'll great my teeth and get them done.

Okay, self, it's time to wrap this up. The dryer's buzzing impatiently. Floors desperately need vacuuming and mopping or both.

And those damn exercises need to be done.

He Sang to Me

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Just 7 days ago found us on the road to Pennsylvania and to my dad.

Dad's beat the averages several times; most patients admitted to a dementia ward live about 18 months. Dad's well past that, and although the mental decline grows rapidly, he's a strong old man and a force to be reckoned with when he doesn't feel like complying. Having blood drawn or his fingernails cut invoke his wrath, but so does simply getting out of bed some mornings. The nurses and aides learned to read his moods years ago, and they know when to let him just be.

I never know which dad I'll find; I do know, with certainty that it won't be the one I grew up or the one I knew even 10-15 years ago. I enter through Wallingford's doors just hoping that he'll acknowledge my presence. During many visits, he's simply sat in his chair, not making eye contact, not saying a word, even when spoken to. Other visits, he's slept through, so I just sit vigil for a bit and then leave.

This was a "good" visit. I found him wide awake, a twinkle in his eye, and full of things to say. His voice is weaker now, and so soft, that we have to lean forward to begin to figure out what he's saying. Most of the time, it's sheer and utter nonsense, random babblings of a mind that's gone missing.

He talked, talked, and talked some more. At times, he was back during the time of WWII and on a naval carrier. Other times, he'd gone dancing and looking for girls. He proudly informed me that he never had trouble finding a girl since he could dance so well. And, when they got tired of dancing, they'd go walking and do "other things." Usually at this point, I'd try to distract him, because it's definitely uncomfortable to hear those exploits from your dad!

He informed Phil that he had some lovely daughters back in Parkesburg and invited him to come home with him and pick one out. Phil assured him he'd do so, and then turned and grinned at me.

Dad then turned to me, and softly said that the best thing he'd ever done was to marry me, and I knew that he thought I was my mother, so I sat up a bit straighter and really tried to hear what he was saying. In all his years since the stroke that accelerated his dementia and landed him in Wallingford, he's very rarely mentioned my mother.

And, then, he began to croon songs to me, mostly nonsensical words, but I rarely heard Dad sing while growing up, and I never heard him sing to my mother.

Did he sing to her while he courted her? I'll never know for sure, but I think he must have.

His voice shifted a bit, a subtle change, and as I listened I heard, "I love you, I love you, I love you."

I don't know what look was on my face; it must have been a mixture of sheer and utter disbelief mixed with happiness.

Dad was definitely a product of his times; he never said, "I love you" aloud. I knew I was loved, well and truly loved, but the words never got said, on his end anyway. Even well after I grew up, when I'd kiss him, he'd nod his head, and say, "mmm...hmmm."

I wish I had thought to record him, but I was so completely caught up in the moment, I just sat, smiled, and told him that I loved him back.

He'll never know the gifts he gave me last Friday...being present to me, his voice and non stop chatter, his talking of my mother. But, most of all, those words.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," he sang, complete with a few blown kisses my way.

Oh, Dad, I love you, too. Somewhere in the deep nooks and crannies of a mind gone astray, I hope you know that.

I love you.

Do You Remember?


I love snail mail, the making, sending, and receiving of it. Not much else that appears in my mailbox makes me smile the way snail mail does, and certainly not the bills. The junk mail, at least, has the possibility of ending up in my journals as "art."

I also think that life's simple moments make the absolutely best memories.

So, a few weeks ago, I conned convinced my most awesome sister, Denise, to participate in a project where we would snail mail each other memories from our childhood or more (much more) recent past. The snail mail could be note cards, letters, post cards, whatever fit the moment. We'd do it when we could, no specific timetable. I wanted this to be workable, or as we say, the most "awful fun."

A few days ago, I received the card you see above. Denise wrote, " Do you remember peeking inside the trunk of the cherry tree near the kitchen? A mama bird would build a nest in a hollow spot in the tree trunk each year. We would wait for her to fly away and then run to steal a peek of her babies."

And, yep, that long forgotten memory came flooding back. We've each sent two now, and I wish I'd thought to document and share them here before.

I first sent her a postcard of Chincoteague, reminding her of the time where we swore to my dad that we'd be sure to take the rental key with us, since he'd not be around to let us into the house. You can see where this is going, right? We left it behind, and when we got back, sure enough, Dad was gone, and we'd locked ourselves out. No way on God's good earth were we going to wait for him to return and suffer his laughter. So, we broke in, all the while laughing like loons and hoping no one would see and report our efforts. Long story short, I tumbled through a window we'd prodded open, fell onto the kitchen floor, and could not stop laughing to let her inside. We kept that secret from Dad for YEARS until my husband blew it wide open in casual conversation, which immediately ceased while Dad raised his eyebrows and just gave us the "LOOK."

Denise replied with memories of running and jumping along a pile of rocks that created a jetty in Rehoboth. I never could understand why this activity caused my mother to have near heart attacks, until a few years ago when I stood and looked at that jetty, wondering where in the hell my mind was all those times! We had absolutely no fear back then, and we did it as often as we could.

I then sent Denise a card reminiscing about the time that Mama Cat and her daughter, Katie, each had a litter of 6 kittens withing days of each other. Two mamas with 12 babies between them. My mother wept, and even my dad's face blanched. Another sister proudly told everyone that we had a "real cat house in our garage."

And, now, I've got another memory ready to be dropped off at the post office, and in a few days, when I think she's gotten it, I'll reveal its contents here, because I don't want to ruin her surprise.

I love the idea of all of this - the memories surfacing and being shared, the cards that brighten our mail boxes, and the thought that after a period of time, we'll each have a wonderful bundle of memories, for us, and for our kids after we've gone, not that either of us plans on making our departure any time soon!

As we say, it's just the most "awful fun!"


Holding Space for Others

Red thread

Laundry tumbles in my dryer; towels wait to be folded and stashed in the linen closet.

Paper, glue, fabrics, pens, and other assorted art make stuff hides my studio floor. More stacks of it play the "Leaning Tower of Pisa" act on my tables.

Meat needs to be repackaged into smaller portions and frozen for later use.

But in the midst of all of this mess, this entering back into reality, I'm playing with photos, catching up a bit on Facebook posts, and just figuring out how to move through my day without losing the magic of these past few days.

In between the busy-ness of today, I've flipped through most Facebook posts, just trying to get a sense of what's been happening out on the interwebs, but now and then, something begs to be read more carefully. Barbara Techel's "On Being a Space Keeper" was one of those. Barbara writes so beautifully about holding space for others, letting them "discover and uncover what is right for them." I smiled as I read and re-read her words; she's managed to capture what I've been living for the last several days, the last several weeks, really.

We need our safe spaces, the people that listen to us, encourage us, and help us to believe our creativity needs to come into being. They don't judge, tell us we need to be doing something differently, let us figure things out on our own, gently offering help if asked. You can read a bit more here.

I spent the last 5 days with an amazing group of women, gathered in Maryland's mountains at Lesley Riley's Red Thread Retreat. We talked, laughed, drank wine, ate amazing meals, and created art books with Nina Bagley. At the beginning of the retreat, Lesley put one rule into place, "No talk of politics." I can't begin to describe the relief when that negative energy disappeared.

Workshops ran from 9 to 5, more or less. We broke for amazing lunches, wonderful nourishing food delivered to the main house. At any time, people wandered off to walk in the woods or along the river, gather leaves, or just be alone for a few moments. Nina encouraged us to take chances, to explore new techniques and methods. If you forgot a supply, you just asked. Someone was bound to have it and offer it freely.

And, here's the big deal: we all got along; no alpha leaders emerged. We simply helped each other on the journey, encouraging, offering help if needed...holding space for each other.

Evenings brought wine, beer, snacks, and lively discussions. More amazing food appeared at dinner, and we took turns cleaning up. No one needed to create a schedule; we simply got it done. A few of us wandered off to get massages.

And, now, I sit typing, trying to put it all into words, and pretty much failing. So few people truly hold space for each other. We seem to have tumbled into a mad world of too much anger, too much judging. I'm tired of political rants from both parties, of rude and uncivil people trying to cram their beliefs down my throat and/or making each political candidate to be the devil come back to life. I avoid it as much as I can, but it's pretty damn hard to miss all of it. If we all just held space for each other, could you imagine the change?

As Barbara writes, "Holding space, sitting in silence with my soul, praying for peace for our world, that energy then moves out into our troubled world."

Please, go read what Barbara wrote. Sit with it for awhile, think about at least one person you could "hold space" for and then do it.

Really, truly, go do it.

It's wonderful. I know it, because I lived it.

Thank you, Lesley, Barbara, and all my Red Thread friends,  for everything.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.