Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Whimsy

I have rejoiced in the delicious weather over the course of the past week. Why does it seem that these moments of warmth precede a renew vigor of winter's long embrace?

In the days leading up to this looming storm (a blizzard warning? Really??) I have enjoyed an afternoon playing disc golf (my first game ever, and coming in at +33 on 10 holes, I think you professionals should be _very_ afraid) and another meandering and shooting on the archery trails at Ritter Springs. I had a pic-nic with Patrick, a park visit with Nanette, and enjoyed my downtown area on foot. I wore t-shirts and rolled the windows down. I sipped coffee on the back porch in the sun. I began dreaming of river trails, floating destinations, and campsite location choices.

Now, however, there is constant buzz of chatter and almost giddy speculation surrounding me from people knowingly relating information about storm warnings, protecting pipes, stocking up on supplies, and prepping for possible power outages. There are tales of the last ice storm, folks who are flippant and confident no storm will come, others who are spouting dire predictions, and a select few who are feeling joyful about a return to winter revelry. I find myself feeling both a little concerned at what might happen with another ice storm induced power outage (we are now living in an all electric home rather than a farmstead with wood heat and propane!) and bummed about the loss of gorgeous sunny days that offered all the enticements of a lovely spring.

Since Patrick is well on his way to a new semester overseas, it seems somehow fitting to settle into the house for a few days of winter weather lock-down. Perhaps it is needful that we have time to savor our family bonds, re-evaluate our goals for winter, and relax into the protection offered by modern comforts like filtered water and central heat. So, after work I am off to pick up a few supplies before we make dinner together, fill the containers with back-up water, and break out the extra blankets, flashlights, candles, and lighters. Board games, art supplies, and bookshelves, here we come!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Home is Where I Lay My Paintbrush

Not long ago I was writing about my move to Cedar Lane. Most of you know that four months after moveing there, I made another, unexpected, move back into the downtown Springfield area. It has been an interesting period! In fact, I have written and deleted several potential posts in the past month simply because there was so much turmoil and change going on on from day to day that I was never sure which things I really wanted to convey.


Now I am beginning to feel settled in our new home and sorting out what my life may look like in 2011. There is a new job on the horizon, plenty of art taking place in the new studio space, and a budding business doing freelance writing and editing. The girls are loving the new space as well, and have set some new goals of their own.

As I was painting the other night, I realized that despite the upheavals of the past year, we are all thriving and getting really clear on what it is we wish to create as a part of our life experience. My home is my smile, my kind heart, my creative and passionate approach to life: my house is really only a vessel to hold the evidence of who I am (the place I lay my paintbrush) and a safe place to rest my body as my spirit dreams and soars.

For the rest of this contemplative winter season I plan to listen to those deep murmerings of my inner muse, savor the friends and family who make my life life feel rich and opulent, and allow my new vision to unfold. And, for a few more weeks, to laugh and love and adventure with Patrick before he jumps aboard a new ship in February.

I wish you all a cheerful start to a new year: the best one yet!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn Reverie

Here at Cedar Lane, the ever shifting colors of autumn, the constant flutter of leaves gliding down, and the scent of burning leaf litter and branches are companions as we work around the property. We re-located the fire-pit to the back stretch of yard, to better view the moon rising as we enjoy the company of excellent friends and the occasional drum circle. We are nearly finished with converting the caretaker's house from a messy, abandoned storage area into a beautiful creative space for Bliss Studios. The pool has been officially closed, and the plants and bulbs which need shelter for the winter months have found new homes inside the house.

Even on the career front things are shifting into a new routine. Sherri and I finished Live Your Intentions last week, sent out the book proposal to our favorite publishing companies shortly thereafter, and celebrated the wonderful news that our Huffington Post article was accepted. Now, we are settling into the pleasant and busy work of writing articles and growing our fan base and marketing plan. We know big changes are ahead, as we begin teaching workshops, traveling to promote and share our vision, and hopefully, establish a partnership with one of our publishers of choice. We are preparing to appear on Unity FM in December, and participating in a number of marketing affiliate partnerships in the coming weeks before our official book launch date of December 10th.

More positive, but transformational news came this past weekend when my daughter returned home from a long stay with her father. As she settles back into our family routine, it feels as of life here, as busy as it seems, is winding down for the last dance of fall and the slow curve of winter.

Perhaps I am a little sentimental, but while I watch my girls play outside, enjoying a gorgeous afternoon, i am aware that there are storm clouds building, and from my place at the window, every minute feels like a moment waiting to be savored; a last glimpse of green, tinged with pumpkin scented treasure, before the holiday rush and cold, steel gray of winter skies begin to edge in.

So, coffee in hand, I am going to wander out to my favorite bench, let the leaves drift down like so many vibrant blessings, and take a few deep breaths as I contemplate the content for another article and send autumn infused thoughts across the ocean to the heart of a man I won't see again until winter has a full grip on the Ozarks and these fall nostalgias are a distant memory.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Writer's Bliss

As I sit here in my room at Cedar Lane, editing and writing ACTfirmations for Live Your Intentions, I realized that I can think of no place I'd rather be than right here, in this moment, doing exactly what I am doing. I like to think I have learned to cultivate these experiences, but to be honest, it has been a very difficult week. One of those collections of days, circumstances, and states of mind that left me doubting everything, down to the very core of my being. And yet, as stormy chaos always seems to prepare the way for deep peace and powerful change in my life, I find myself more sure of myself, more certain about my talents, and with greater clarity and vision for the future than I have had for a long time.

So, I will drink my steamy Yerbe Mate, tapping away the autumn afternoon on my humble laptop, smiling my grateful awareness to the water fountain gurgling gracefully in the corner and the squirrels at play in the treetops outside my window. I can't say what tomorrow holds; who, if anyone, will take interest our book; or how the next few months will unfold to ease the current sensation of fiscal crisis. I can, however, breathe deep right here, right now, and savor the joy of creativity and the certainty that somehow, doing what I am passionate about will call forth it's own reward!

Namaste :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Journey to Cedar Lane

Imagine a curving, paved, private drive lined with mature Cedar trees. At the foot of the hill, a circle drive leads you to a two-story, stone house; the two-car, stone garage; a small caretaker's studio; and back up around the tree lined lane.

Standing on the sidewalk in front of the house, you can look to your right and see a broken stone wall, an area where a fountain and gardens at one time dwelled, and a path that leads to a charming (and wee bit creepy) spring house. Further on there is an outdoor BBQ oven and large stone table fit for banqueting (or sacrificing virgins, lol!) There is a lovely, fresh spring flowing out of the rocky hillside, and gathering in a moss-filled pool before trickling down the property in the expanse between the firepit-focused gathering area (next the house) and the wooded spring path.

If you look to your left instead, you will be graced with a view of the 10 ft swimming pool and surrounding patio and walkways, lovingly re-landscaped by my friend Robin and her tireless mother. Behind the house, there is a huge yard filled with grassy hills and mature trees, which fade into the woods and hillside in the distance. A perfect space for hammocks, archery practice, or meandering meditation.

The house itself, while outdated and in need of continued TLC, is sturdy and in good repair. Full of charming space, the views from the dining room and bedrooms are breathtaking, and the overall feel here is of deep roots, safe haven, and peace.

I moved into Cedar Lane a few weeks ago, taking the universe up on a unique opportunity to room with a good friend in this lovely, magical place. Every morning I wake grateful and amazed that this is my home. I have never felt more centered in any physical place other than the Buffalo River valley.

You will hear me speak about transformation on a regular basis. It seems like the theme for my life has been a radical variety of transformation, and indeed, looking back, every few years my life has shifted to become a nearly unrecognizable (typically vastly improved) version of it's previous self. Though the changes are good, they can be exhausting. While I love knowing that whatever challenges and opportunities come my way I am willing and able to meet them, I find myself becoming aware that growth can be gentle, and seeking graceful shifts rather than world shattering change.

It is time to sink into the healing space offered by Cedar Lane and get to know the brave and expansive woman I have become over the past many moons. I feel ready to examine my goals, dreams, and vision for the future. This move to Cedar Lane marks a new beginning for me, and I cherish the love, power, peace, and potential for vibrant life that I am experiencing as Summer smiles her warm greeting at Autumn's colorful entrance.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

River Song

From the time I was very young I drew comfort and inspiration from the rivers and woods of the Ozarks region of NW Arkansas and SW Missouri. One of my earliest memories is of a particular float trip with my parents on the Buffalo river. Caught in a swift current, the canoe flipped and my father caught me, mid-river, as the canoe and my mother careened off downstream. Making a swift decision, he tossed me to shore, where a stranger caught me, then half-swam half-surrendered so the current could sweep him out to rescue first my mom then the wayward canoe. It was an exercise in trust which may still be a profound part of who I am today and my willingness to assume the best of people (i.e. my father who did not let us drown and that stranger who tenderly cared for me rather than perpetrating all the lewd and evil acts my mother had warned me of when it came to strangers.)

From that time forward, the Buffalo River, and beautiful lands and tributaries surounding her, were a source of entertainment, education, solace, and adventure. During difficult times I would often disappear for hours at a time to my favorite limb, which looped out and suspended me halfway between the sky and the creek below. I would gather unique rocks in pockets and bows of trees. I would grind the soft ones into poweder for various colored "paint." I would 'track' animals through the woods, climb bluffs, explore quartz crystal encrusted caverns, and imagine what it would be like to survive out there on my own.

It was not always rainbows and butterflies. I encountered critters on occasion, including a skunk from which I escaped but my dog did not (leaving her banned for several days to the wood shed,) and a bear which gave me little more than a curious glance then ambled on it's way leaving me quaking and in awe. I also found myself atop a crumbling stone wall which collapsed and left me inches away from a fall to almost ceratin death. But the river herself sang a song my young heart knew how to answer and even though I scarce recognized it at the time, she helped to shape and mold my curiosity, creativity, and courage in ways I would need often on the challenging path ahead.

Somewhere in my teen/early adult years I lost touch with the magic of life, including those childhood safehavens. For numerous reasons, the years began to slip by with only occasional, brief time spent outdoors anywhere other than the park or zoo; no camping, hiking, canoeing, or spelunking. I feel some regret at not having shared these experiences with my children when they were younger, but I am comforted to know that they are beginning to develop their own relationship with the river, even now.

In 2008, my family began to change dramatically. Divorce, children moving in new directions, and all the changes that came with learning to be independant forced me to evaluate what the important elements of my life are and what the shape of my future was going to be. One of the changes I needed to make was to recover my connection with the river, the land, and my own deep roots. Another was to begin traveling to the places I have long ached to see, many of which contain natural splendor all their own.

I dived in by taking a trip to Moab, Utah to hike with Daniel Nahmod (an incredible new thought musician) during his "Water" retreat (mildly ironic in the desert...but the canyons were, of course, carved by water and thus inspired some incredible songs about surrender among other topics.) A few months later I took a road trip to St. Louis with my son and his girlfriend for a concert (and the birthing of brilliant comic strip about hobo zombies, which Braden will be writing, um...any day now. I'm certain of it.) Add to that a wild, five state tour which landed me in places like the quirky, artsy Yellow Springs, OH; a Blues Festival on the river where my 5 year old daughter revealed her spooky ability to channel Janis Joplin while dancing; and yielded my first visit to the fabulous establishment that is Trader Joes (cue divine chorus.)

I also began to canoe, hike, and camp again...usually along the Buffalo river. She remembered me, of course, and we began to exchange things: my tears and stories for her soothing embrace and clarity inducing energy. My labor (picking up trash, assisting people along the way) for her offerings of unique stones and artistic inspiration. My blood and sweat for heart palipatating views, healing breezes, and the re-discovery of my amazing strength. My life song for her acient one.

Now, having become reacquainted during these healing visits, I plan to continue not only exploring the trails and rapids of my home river, but to trace and discover the beauty and adventure offered (by extraordinary places near and far) to those of us willing to take chances, brave challenges, listen deeply, and sweat whenever necessary. The reward? Peace. Joy. Fresh air. Nice calves.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Surprised my Dr. with 23 lbs lost :)

I am back home from my surgical adventure! All is well so far, and if it continues to go that way, I will begin round two as planned. It feels good to be reclaiming my body and my health...powerful. I am already scoping out the best hikes(both locally and around the Buffalo River) to begin adding into my calendar for late winter early spring ;-) Easy to moderate at first. Any suggestions?

I did want to say that my Dr was surprised and congratulatory about my weight loss (23 lbs officially on their records.) She did not ask how, but since my surgical check up is in six weeks (about the time I will be finishing R2) I suspect there will be questions forthcoming!

I hope you are all having an incredibly delightful holiday week!