Saturday, February 26, 2011

the man who washes lions

"the key to change...
is to let go of fear."
- rosanne cash

being stuck is a painful place to be. at least it is for me. i look around at all the things that normally inspire and motivate me. i reach. but still i sit immobile in my seat.  but what is it that glues me so tightly in place? i contemplate. i ruminate. i examine. i ignore. i disguise. no matter what i do, it's the same little bugger that it was when i first began.


fear is a lot like that lion in the bathtub. my job is to wash the lion. but i have to be present and aware enough not to get eaten in the process. in looking at that fear, i have to accept the danger that comes along with the job. it’s easy to become sidetracked by analyzing it.  holding onto it.  absorbing it into my personality.  taking it out and showing it to others like it was something of great value.  but any of these options is like letting the lion eat me.


the thing i have to remind myself to do is to simply look at it. go ahead and accept the feelings of fear.  but not cling to them like some useless life raft. if i can just be careful and mindful in washing the lion. just get on with it. then, whether my fear comes at me head on in broad daylight or creeps up on me sideways, i’ll be able to avoid getting lost in my own sad story and even, perhaps, let in some joy to lend balance and encourage hope.

move. else stagnate. get back to washing those lions...

“life is like riding a bicycle. 
to keep your balance you must keep moving.”
 - albert einstein 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

note to self: just breathe

“i am like a book, 
with pages that have stuck together 
for want of use: 
my mind needs unpacking 
and the truths stored within 
must be turned over 
from time to time, 
to be ready when 
occasion demands”
- seneca

i am stuck. feel as though i'm stuck in a crack beneath a big boulder and can't budge an inch.  i've tried all the usual tricks to get myself jump started. nothing.  it's not that the ideas are not there. more like that there are too many. all running around. bumping into each other. dancing just out of reach as i try to tack them down into cloth.

it's not that i don't have the resources. the raw materials. more that there may be too much to choose from. so much so that i am inundated by options.

it's just that i am feeling stuck. not just in my art. i feel myself isolating more and more and my social life and dating has become pretty non-existent. i am just struggling a lot with motivation right now. i feel lost. confused. i don't know what my purpose in life is, anymore.

i just have to keep going. keep moving. keep creating. keep practicing.  keep cleaning. keep sorting.

i found this passage in a book that i have no idea where it came from, but it seemed to speak volumes at this moment:

"don't beat yourself up for not knowing all the answers. 
you don't always have to know who you are. 
you don't have to have the big picture, 
or know where you're heading. 
sometimes it's enough just to know what you're going to do next."

 -  sophie kinsella, the undomestic goddess

the trouble being, of course, that sometimes i'm not even certain of what i'm going to do next.

step back.
                   slow down.
                                       look within.
                                                            find balance.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

fortune cookie wisdom wednesday

today's cookie fortune puts me in mind of one of my favorite ram dass sayings:

“It is important to expect nothing, 
to take every experience, 
including the negative ones, 
as merely steps on the path, 
and to proceed.”

with the most important line being the last one, "...and to proceed."  all too often, when i find myself succumbing to a negative attitude or thought, i find myself shutting down in response.  i think a lot of us do this. we become overwhelmed by the negative emotion and simple stop. everything.  for me, this means i stop communicating. stop putting things away. stop doing anything i don't absolutely have to do because of iron-clad commitments. i must not shut down, but must continue to tread down the path of my life and to look within for strength and wisdom.

looking...indeed, seeing...within, changes one's outer vision and the world becomes a gentler place.  this may not come without suffering. in fact, it is most certain that some form of suffering will be found along the trail. but, as ana├»s nin tells us, "there came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."  and we must look closely within to discover this time in our own personal cycles. however, the reward is freedom and authenticity. two very worthy rewards...


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

practice love. be generous. be rewarded.

i wish i had a heart to send to each and every one of you who commented and entered into this unscheduled drawing.  however, even without them, you are all winners! i was touched by the stories shared, not only in the comments section, but in backchannel emails from those that just wanted to share them.  debi mazar once said: "a hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people." you are all heroes in my book!

i took all of your names and put them in the choosing jar...

closed my eyes, felt around, and selected a slip of paper...

and here is what i found when i opened my eyes again...

debi from the pacific northwest! you are the winner of the woven heart cloth!

here's what debi wrote in her comment:

"Mornin Joe! Thank you for coming over to my place for a visit, and your comment on my Tango Cat! She's further along right now and if I ever get a break from homework I'll finish her and post it on my lonely blog. I have so much to say on there... and it's been so neglected."

"It's funny, on Valentines Day I decided to smile and greet anyone I made eye contact with on the college campus. Wow, I was absolutely AMAZED at the result! So many people struck up a brief conversation with me. One girl looked so happy and radiant when she went on to class and she must have turned around half a dozen times to tell me how much she enjoyed talking to me. It was the same result several times as the day went on. It felt so good that I've been doing it all week. There are a LOT of lonely, sad students on campus with me. Sometimes it's just too easy to plow through your day going from one thing to the next, and you miss so much by not taking the time to connect to the people around you. Anyway, I hope I win your birthday is the 23rd! It would make a lovely birthday present!"

what a wonderful experience, debi!  i have found similar experiences when i've just smiled at people, too.  it's amazing, isn't it? i think it is all too frequently for any of us to plow through your days, not being present, and missing life that is right there before our eyes! it's amazing how we tap into our compassionate heart when we just decide to be present and acknowledge those around us in a respect full and loving manner!

debi, you have a big heart and a depth of soul! and now you have my woven heart small cloth!  happy birthday!!  i'll drop you an email so you can send me your mailing address and i'll get it in the mail immediately!

for the rest of you, gentle readers, you are indeed amazing people and i am honored to have "met" you.


Monday, February 21, 2011

random acts of lunacy

it's almost midnight on sunday night...and the practice love. be generous. give away is about to end. i've been enjoying all the wonderful comments and stories and look forward to seeing who will win my little woven heart cloth!

it's been rather insane around these parts. the snows are bearing down on us again, and i've been picking up shifts at work like a mad man since so many have been out sick or on vacation.

i'm feeling a little like that poor donkey these days. a bit overworked...but can't really complain, seeing as how i can say "no" as easily as the next guy...

in the spirit of this insanity, i've picked up a double tomorrow and am headed for bed to prepare for those 16 hours of caregiving, so i will be announcing the winner tomorrow night.

yup...unfortunately so...but i'm fairly certain y'all can handle holding out for just a few more hours to see who won, can't ya?

right. i'm off to slumberland and to dream tranquil fiber dreams....


Friday, February 18, 2011

one world one heart 2001 winner!

this year's one world one heart blogger event was an amazing journey! i joined in a little late, but not too late that i didn't get a chance to visit each and every participating blog. i didn't sleep much...and did nothing else for five days...but, hey, i got to visit them all! even had time to poke through them and get to see what everyone was doing. and let me tell you, there are some amazingly talented people out there! i feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to participate and to meet so many wonderful people and i truly look forward to getting to know many of them much better through our blogs!

but, as  peter s. beagle once said, “heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. a quest may not simply be abandoned; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever; a happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.” but this story has come to its end. it's know the end of something great is coming, but you want to hold on, just for one more second...just so it can hurt a little more... but every ending is also a beginning, or so it's said. this event is more ways than one. but there are many new friendships beginning... so hurt though it might, there is good in it, too.

amongst these good things are the feelings of the winner of sky flower:

drum roll please

and the winner is: 

i have to say, wanda had an interesting strategy to win...she wrote:

"wowsers! what an awesome blog full of such talent!
thanks for a peek into your world. 
i licked everyone of your pieces so no one else would touch them. 
LOL also love your furry creatures. 
thanks for being a part of OWOH and love your fabulous prize! "

i gotta tell ya...apparently it worked! good thing she didn't want my critters...i don't know if they'd have taken kindly to some stranger licking them!  i guess i should have licked her orange-haired dotti doll while i was over at her wonderful blog ( and maybe i might have won it, too! (sigh) well, next time i know what to do...

so, wanda, be sure to check your inbox for an email from me asking for your mailing info and sky flower will be on its way to your door first thing monday morning! i hope you enjoy it as much as i enjoyed creating it!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

grumpy kitty is back

piper is doing much better, albeit his grumpy side hasn't improved. we took a little trip this afternoon to the vet before i headed into work. i don't know if it was the thought of getting a shot or two, or if he was just growing weary of being grumpy, but he started to come out of it when we got back home. the vet couldn't find anything wrong and suggested that maybe he was depressed or unsettled by some change in the household. the only thing i could think of was a change in litter brands...but he's never been a picky i dunno. i'm just glad he's feeling better. i'm thinking it had more to do with all of the warm wishes and love flying on wings of grace to him by all of you (and a little help from the cloth therapy). thank you so very much!!


practice love. be generous.

sasha dichter wrote on her blog the other day about rebooting valentine's day as generosity day, asking for it to be "one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying “yes.” let’s make the day about love, action and human connection – because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly." she talks about how we can do this by setting the "goal to spend valentine’s day being more generous, giving more money, sharing of yourself, being of service. all acts of generosity, small and big alike, count. but you have to say "yes" to everything that’s asked of you, all day long! it’s about creating more generosity in the world, and becoming a more open person along the way."

i've been thinking about this today as i've gone about my day's routines. remembering to be more generous. opening doors. sharing what i have with others as i encounter them. leaving generous tips. baking a huge pile of heart shaped cookies for my neighbors. gifting quilts to those who are in need of their warmth and love. donating clothes and food to local charities.

this has brought such warmth and joy to those around me and in my community. to my heart as well. i'm quite certain that this will be a continued tradition in my home. i would be honored to hear about any of your experiences inspired by these thoughts today! or, in honor of this week being national random acts of kindness week, of your experiences inspired by these thoughts throughout this week! that's it. no giant hoops to jump through. just share one of your experiences of generosity in the comment section of this post!

as my last act of generosity this week, i will be drawing a name at random from all comments made to this post between now and sunday, february 20, 2011, relating your act of generosity or random act of kindness and will be awarding that person with a special woven heart small cloth (measuring 6" X 7"). this small cloth sports a freehand heart woven from strips of cotton fabrics up-cycled and repurposed from my wardrobe, embellished with a heart applique cut from a scrap of vintage quilting cotton, all hand stitched to a vintage woven cotton napkin backing cloth. this heart-felt small cloth can be used by itself to adorn your wall, counter top, journal cover...or could be repurposed and incorporated into one of your own creations!

i will announce the winner next monday, february 21st. be sure to include your email address or to check back on monday so that i may send you your gift! if i have been unable to contact you and have not heard from you by the 23rd, i will draw another name, so stay tuned!

now, go out and be generous! spread love and kindness where ever you go!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

a little fabric therapy

there seems to be a lot of this going around. colds. flu's. general blech.  poor piper, the cat with the golden pipes, seems to have been visited by something icky and unpleasant. i can't quite place it. he doesn't have any definable symptoms that i can see. just a general "look" about him. he's hanging out in dark rooms. sleeping more than usual. has a "fuzzy" look about his face. isn't purring or meowing in his usual way.  i called the vet. he wasn't sure either...wanted to run a bunch of tests that i can ill-afford with no real direction or promises...

i remembered how well jude's fabric therapy worked for was, so am giving it a try...

i'm going to have to wait out the weekend either way, and keep a close eye on him. hopefully, it will pass and he will feel himself once again soon. meanwhile, i'm planning lots of naps with him cuddled gently in my arms. keep him warm. keep him relaxed. keep him loved. poor little guy...

your thoughts are greatly appreciated for his well-being...


Friday, February 11, 2011

cold, grey winter days

yes, another cold, grey winter day has dawned in montana. big surprise! ha!

while there is no new snow falling from the grey sky, there is a tremendous amount of drifting snow finding its way into unexpected nooks and crannies where it probably ought not to be...  fortunately, the wind is blowing in warmer air, so there is hope yet to see the earth again!

it's wonderful, whatever the weather, to have a day off today. it's been several days since my last one. so much to do and see. spending time working on my piece for jude's boro workshop. surfing through the amazing blogs of so many talented artists participating in one world one heart. squeaking in a little housekeeping here and there. and unexpectedly finding a little pile of scraps whispering and dreaming. where did these come from?

i can't quite make out their tiny little voices just yet. there are so many all whispering at once! think i'll go snuggle with the saint and her demanding cat for a while and see if i can untangle their cacophony. ah. a wonderful way to wind down the week...

 EDIT: several hours later...

their tiny little voices whispered tales of warmer days and trailing summers...and so wove themselves into this toasty little habitat:

and just in time for the weaver to head off to dreamland...  perhaps to dream of who might visit this warm little corner of cloth? perhaps a cozy kitty? a panoplied elephant? or maybe just a plump little bumblebee? i don't know...i can't quite make out the whispers over the sleeping saint's snores! i guess we'll just have to wait and see...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

~one world one heart 2011~ blog event & giveaway

hello and welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere! i am a mixed media artist currently focusing on re-purposing fabrics and fibers. i have been a blogger and podcaster for several years, though this particular blog is fairly new. started just last december to mark my new journey into this particular medium. i live with my slobbery saint bernard, sachi, her fat n' lazy cat, piper, and his scoundrel of a mutt, nicky, here in billings, montana.  i lead a creative and contemplative life here and wouldn't change it for the world. being in a rather secluded area of the states, i enjoy meeting new people online and love exploring others' blogs. seeing what they are creating. sharing ideas. thoughts. views.

i found this, the fifth and final one world one heart 2011 blog event, while stumbling around in debra's blog and am pleased to have done so in the nick of time to join in on this wonderfully exciting event! one world one heart was started as a way for bloggers worldwide to get to know each other over the past several years. there are a lot of amazing bloggers/artists participating and i am eagerly looking forward to getting to know them better. many thanks to lisa for organizing this amazing event!

sky flower

i am offering a door prize just for visiting my blog as part of the one world one heart event. it is a tall cloth i created last month as part of a workshop i've been involved in by jude hill. it is composed of re-purposed and re-cycled cottons and silks and measures approximately 8" X 16".  the top half is woven strips of cotton and silk fabrics culled from my wardrobe and a few fragments from my quilting activities. the tree is a product of my experimenting with my mother's die cutter last christmas. the moon is from a delicate vintage cotton lawn hanky, as is the tiny blue "sky flower" in the snow bank. all have been kantha stitched and quilted to a backing cloth of indian cotton. there are tabs across the top so you can tie it to a nice twig or rod for hanging.  it is entitled sky flower and has many stories to whisper quietly into your ear.

you do not have to be a part of this event to win. all you need to do is leave a comment on this post below and include your email address so i can contact you should you win. i will pick a winner from a hat (or large bowl, or barrel...depending upon what is required to hold all the names) at midnight on february 17th and will announce it here on my blog, as well as email the winner.

it has been a joy having you stop by and i hope you poke around and see what i've been up to. if you find yourself intrigued, i hope to see you again and again! i also look forward to exploring your blog and getting to know you! meanwhile, be sure to head on over to lisa's wonderful blog, as she is our magnificent host for this event! you can click on the links to the other bloggers participating with their own door prizes while there or by clicking here.


wooly weaving

i hope we don't get to the point
where we have to have the cat stop
chasing the mouse to teach him
glassblowing and basket weaving.
-joseph barbera

actually, i think jude has already taught him basket weaving and glassblowing. and it is wonderful!! ha!

again, i'm having so much fun in her advanced boro workshop. she knows how to lead one down a familiar road and present you with something entirely new and different. you never think that you've already been there before. for long. any time you start to think that you can rest on your laurels, as it were, you find her tossing whatif's in your path and you learn something again.

i've been weaving for years. weaving wool yarns. weaving rag strips. tabby weaving. twining. salish weaving. knotted rya weaving. i have looms. big looms. little looms. gargantuan looms. so you'd think that there wouldn't be much for her to get me to think about when we entered this segment of the workshop. naturally, she still had a few tricks up her sleeve and needled me out of the comfortable rut i'd worn and into a new direction!

having spent much of my time weaving rugs of one sort or another, i hadn't really thought about weaving a piece of fabric from fabric strips. you'd think i would have. it's what we've been doing on a foundation. but to fashion a loom. or to re-purpose an old loom for a new technique? then use it to weave fabric strips into a new piece of whole fabric? not a rug. not a tapestry. but a piece of fabric? ha! push. push. push. get out of that box!!!

i purchased these balls of pendleton selvages on ebay many years ago with the thought to weave them into a rustic rag rug. life had other ideas at the time and they were safely stored away with many other fragments to await more halcyon days...  i came across them the other day while rummaging through one of my caches of treasures and had the idea that, using jude's technique, i could weave them into a wonderfully shaggy wool scarf instead of a stiff and trod upon rug. they were delighted with the possibility, so i quickly got to work warping the loom (one i made way back in the 80's, sans the heddles and harnesses). i warped it with only the thought of creating some form of repetition, but not any particular pattern in mind, and then set to weaving the wefts. i really love the tumbling "T" pattern that is forming and the shaggy nature of the cloth created by the wefts of the selvages.

i'm stabilizing the weave as i go with a neutral variegated quilting thread by yli, but have plans (ha! i ought to know better than to plan...we'll see what truly happens) to use wool or pearl cotton to stitch again. lending new color and texture while further stabilizing the weave. i had thought to felt it a bit...but am thinking most likely not since i really love the shaggy quality of the piece as it is.

so...this old dog is once again delighting in learning yet another new trick!!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

fortune cookie wisdom wednesday

just thought i'd share my good fortune with you all! i can't think of a nicer bunch of people i'd rather share it with. i'm sure whomever it is who grants cookie fortunes wouldn't mind!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

being vulnerable

“to love at all is to be vulnerable. 
love anything, and your heart will certainly 
be wrung and possibly broken.
if you want to make sure of keeping it intact, 
you must give your heart to no one, 
not even to an animal. 
wrap it carefully round with hobbies 
and little luxuries; 
avoid all entanglements; 
lock it up safe in the casket 
or coffin of your selfishness. 
but in that casket- 
safe, dark, motionless, airless--
it will change. 
it will not be broken; 
it will become unbreakable, 
-c. s. lewis

i have been thinking on this passage from one of c. s. lewis' books while stitching on my boro heart. i can think of no better truth than this when it comes to loving. to living.  at times, i have done this, and know from whence he speaks. that casket is warm. soft. protected. but is also stifling. fosters death. one should not be found in a casket until after one has left this mortal world behind.

this boro heart reflects my own heart quite nicely. true, there are a lot of breaks and cracks. some still to be mended and re-attached. but still growing. loving. living.  beneath this shattered heart is another. whole. unbroken heart.

still vulnerable. eternally vulnerable. ready to be placed in the hands of one who would cherish and nurture it. it is only wrapped in the tattered and embroidered robes of the heart broken by others.

this heart has much farther to go before it will become the jewel it is destined to be. but for now, it will rest and infuse my home with its warmth and life. whispering quietly to my soul. filling the soft and reticent nights with its soothing tones. i would believe anything you tell me, so long as it is whispered...