Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Divine Present - Taste of the Past

MMMMummmmmmwanmmmmummynummy. I truly suck at living in the moment. Voice over of the self-help guru that lives in the cave that is my head . . . "so recall a time when you were good at it, what worked for you". Okay, so I suck at being a self-help guru too, cuz isn't that a question that begs you to be in the PAST? Whatever. This started out to be a simple bowing down at the altar of my mother's cookie bars, back to it.

It didn't occur to me until about a year ago to figure out how to recreate the cookie bars of my childhood. The ones we just CRAVED and you couldn't walk by the pan without slicing just a sliver. They are just the recipe for the tollhouse cookies off the chocolate chip bag, but instead of cookies, you put the dough in the pan, sprinkle the chips on TOP and coat the whole mess with some kind of brown sugar meringue concoction that gets brown and melts in your mouth in a sugary haze mixed with the salty, underbaked squish of the cookie part with the chips just being so darn chippy! Good lord. (Excuse me while I take another bite).

The intro course for my on-hiatus Masters was on time.  I loved exploring the idea of time as just that - a conceptual framework that we constructed on top of the natural world and the limited ways in which we experience her wonders. I can just barely grasp this. Barely being generous. Closest I come is when that bite of cookie bar connects me entirely to the present moment of sensual experience and to that same moment of my child self all at once. Mmmmm. Just one more little sliver.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Confessions of A Virgo Control Freak

I have 13,852 photographs in iPhoto at the moment. Some I've uploaded to Flickr. A bunch I have sitting in various files on my desktop 'in transit' between iPhoto's own private Idaho file format, Photoshop, and the rest of the world. And then there is my thumb drive. 16 gig of what amounts to a big box of pictures in the hall that you throw stuff in every time you walk by. Faced with little mountains of laundry, piles of tax information, two clients awaiting some sort of coherent response from me and even an expectant and hopeful assortment of art supplies, chubby toddler arms raised in the air, "up? up?", what do I do? What any self-respecting Virgo Control Freak would do. Spend seven hours organizing my pictures.

Is it just a little sick how good that makes me feel? Haven't put a DENT in it mind you, but I key worded a year's worth, categorized and de-duplicated the mess on my thumbdrive and backed up my iPhoto library to my external hard drive. And unearthed a few of my favorites in the process.
"Dear Mr./Ms. IRS agent. I couldn't file my taxes this year due to procrastination. But here is a lovely shot of some beans I took at a farmer's market in Washington last summer. Feel free to count them."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Journaling The InBetween Step 2

I was awakened this morning by a rumbling anxiety in 'my tumbly', as Pooh would say. One I know all too well. Thankfully, a quiet voice in my head said, "you know what to do, you can write your way through this". . . to someplace inbetween.

I pay attention to what the fear is about. Making money. The process and pressure of finding 'real' work. Searches, applications, marketing, interviews, proposals, rejection, NETWORKING, bleah. It definitely feels like the masculine voice nagging at me. I start on that side of my journal. Let it unfurl and flap around a bit...
"There has to be something other than the 'old way' doesn't there? Of course there is, but I don't know if I am capable of following the 'new way' to any kind of success..." I circle around to shedding the fear relationship with money. No good is coming of that in the world! Next question. "So what might it look like to 'grab the tiger by the tail' and pull toward me the work that will give me all that I need?" I write in an inward spiral and arrive at my feminine voice. It's relationships stupid, and what is right in front of you. Okay, so I talked nicer to myself, but that is the gist of it. My feminine voice is tired of my bouts with self doubt. "So what is right in front of me?"

I switch to the feminine side of my journal. Turns out I have about 18 amazing opportunities and relationships right in front of me. Where they will lead, I am excited to see. I just hope I don't have to fill out an application.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Moments of Madness: She & Him

First in the Moments of Madness series. Remember Zooey Deschanel singing in the shower on Elf? What an amazing voice! She is now part of a duo She & Him. Here her retro resonant tone rubs up against decidedly dark visuals in this video of "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here".

Tell me what you think!

Monday, February 16, 2009

And the winner is...

Marilyn! She officially wins the StoryKeeper and signed copy of Christina Baldwin's "StoryCatcher". Congratulations Marilyn, and thank you for sharing your story.

I feel like the true winner. Everyone who showed up so beautifully put honey in my heart. The contest is over, but the storyspace is still open. See the post below and peruse the heart-full comments, then tell us your story. Who put honey in your heart?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two Love Doves Stuck in a Tree

In my last post I invited you to tell a story about who put honey in your heart. I'm ready to tell a bit of mine.

The purest, sweetest honey in my heart comes from what I heard called by a woman eulogizing her mother today, the "silent grace passed from mother to daughter". I know now that I am grown up that not every girl is able to get this from her own mother. And now that I'm grown up I understand that this honeypot of the 'sacred feminine' is not only bottomless, but is also without sides. It doesn't have to come from your own mother. This honey just seeps out to fill any available container. Any available container.

I am blessed with a mother so abundantly full of rich, sticky, honey that those who need some seem to find her. They are my 'adopted' sisters and brothers all over the world. Michelle, and Marianne and Hafsat to name just a few. And most remarkably, I can see the honey flowing into and through my own daughter as it shows up in such interesting and awe inspiring ways. I am most struck today by the ways in which she gives back to me the best in myself.

This photograph is of one of the valentines she gave to my husband and me. With her permission I am sharing it with you. I didn't ask her what it meant to her, the poem she wrote. Yet.

Two love doves stuck in a tree,
if one were to fall out all would be lost.

What it brings up in me has a few layers, I think. The first responds to whatever fear she may be expressing. Mama bears protect their cubs, right? "Oh sweetie, nothing to worry about. Daddy and I will always be together." A promise I strive for, and believe to be true (but avoid overtly making nonetheless). And then I am thunderstruck by the powerful beauty and truth-for-me inviting exploration expressed so simply by a child of eleven. My child. My child, the artist. 

Part of  my truth. If one falls out of the tree, out of love, out of life perhaps, all that you know is lost. Everything is changed by it. 

Stuck in a tree. I was reading in the Oct 2008 issue of The Sun, an article by David Grossman about the stuckness of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. He is able to truly empathize with the humanity and love-centeredness of the people, the families, on each side. What I found to be tragic is the difficulty he witnesses in changing the minds of the people, who are used to the stuckness. People who know how to function in war, and know who they are as misunderstood, oppressed, occupied and people who are used to living with the kind of fear every day I will probably never need to face, even for a minute. Two love doves. Two groups of people who know great love. Stuck in a tree.

If one falls out, of being stuck in the tree. Instead of lost, what else might there be?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day Giveaway - From my Heart to Yours

My heart is so full today, I decided to give something away! Of course it couldn't be just any something. I woke up feeling really blessed for the wisdom of Christina Baldwin, writer, teacher, caller of circles and storycatcher most extraordinary. While I haven't seen her in years, I carry her voice in my head on days when I am present enough to listen. One of the books she has written is a guide for who I try to be in this world. Storycatcher, Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story.

She weaves into the beginning of the book threads of a story about visiting her grandparents in the summers with her family. Bee keepers. Honey makers. And how these experiences and the words, beliefs and ideas of her people gave her a sense of herself in the world. Marked her belongingness maybe. Christina invites us to tell us our story. 

"Who put honey in your heart?
Let's start there.
Tell me that story."

So leave a comment with a bit of your story. Who put honey in your heart? Late Sunday I will select one of you and send you a signed copy of Christina's book and this StoryKeeper journal from my Red Collection in my Etsy shop. Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Confused as Me? Subscribing to Blogs.

I'll admit it. Being on the cutting edge of technology used to be a big part of my identity. Pridefullness even. I'm now old and seriously behind. WHAT is a subscription feed, I ask? What is RSS? HUH?

Watch a short Video on how this works. Once you figure it out, you can subscribe to Stolen Moments Cafe with the little buttons in the right column. Then just bookmark you reader and return to it regularly to see what's new!

Convergence: A Statement of Purpose

"Get people to follow your blog!" This is the convergence of many voices in my head. It SOUNDS like my shameless marketing voice when I say it out loud. But that voice isn't enough to pull me to action, it's a really small part of who I am. I KNOW I want people to show up here.  But why? So I do what I know how to do, teach others to do. Sit down to write a purpose statement for this Blog.

It's something like these three things. Use my creative talents to showcase the talents and voice of amazing women everywhere. Be a container to connect all of my many voices. Invite co-journers on the path. Three things.  Pretty big things. But like mountains, trees and sky, they are really one thing. 

So this will be my guide. I  have plans, but can't wait to see what simply shows up. Video interviews with amazing women; showcases of artistic talent; how-to instructions on making things, and thinking things; connections to cool stuff all over the world. A convergence of stolen moments. 

Wanna Play? I know we'll have a great time!

Choose Follow This Blog in the right column. Learn more about following first? Read this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Freedom & Responsibility: Lessons From My Dad

Happy Birthday Dad. You've graced this world for 67 years with your handsome and suave attitude and devil may care good looks and I've been doing a little thinking about what I carry with me from watching you live your life.  I'm wrestling with what feel like polar opposites in my life and trying to bring them into balance, come to terms with them, live rightly and joyfully in between Freedom & Responsibility. I think we all are.  I believe it is a lesson our adolescent country is trying mightily to learn in time. Maybe if I get better at it I can help.

When you were seventeen your wild teenage abandon was cut short in an instant. With a pregnant girlfriend you chose responsibility, got married, got a real job - too soon.  Did it feel like a choice? By all accounts I've heard you stepped into your new identity without bitterness or self pity, rather with determination and that sly glint in your eye fully intact. Maybe the freedoms you gained were more rewarding than those you gave up. Moving out of your fathers house, if only a block away. Maybe the responsibilities for this wife and my infant sister gave you purpose and a quiet pride.

For the next seventeen years you climbed the expected ladder and increasingly chafed at the demands of The Man. When I was nine, and just waking up for the first time, I watched you set yourself free. And it burned an image into the core of who I am. Your mantra became to earn enough to "chase women and hunt ducks" (you'll forgive me the slight editing of your words for political correctness' sake). And I never knew you again to put on a monkey suit, participate in a performance appraisal or make nice with management. Never again would you answer to The Man. But you answered to us.

You picked me up from school when I was sick. You did our laundry and replaced the belt on our thousand year old lawn mower one hundred times as I handed you the tools like a surgeon, "wrench . . .&!%#$". You drove an oil truck, fighting off freezing weather and ferocious dogs, in trade for the fuel that heated our house. You drove years of busloads of kids along the rutted roads of our town. You stocked grocery shelves in the dead of night. You built a wildly successful business out of nothing and practically had to give it away. And you hunted a lot of ducks. And you laughed your ass off a good deal of the time. Were you happy? I was. 

It's not a red corvette, but I hope it's enough.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Journaling The InBetween Step 1

I started using my own InBetween journal today. I always find it easier to start with questions. So what are the questions I am sitting in, seeking clarity and guidance on? And where to begin in the journal?

With a LITTLE hesitation I pick up a fine point permanent marker.  I tell myself "you have thoughts, which you cannot erase, so why not write them in ink?" I open the journal and it naturally falls open to the fold in the center between the two journal sides. Of course! Start at the center and work your way out and back around in a circle to the InBetween on the other side.  Perfect. Having just returned from a two day retreat with my Ya Yas, I borrow the form, and create questions, from the Path of Balance layout we created from Angeles Arriens' incredible Tarot Handbook.  

We did this layout together with the intent to guide and inspire our conversation about where the world is right now, the opportunities and challenges that occur with President Obama seated, and where we fit in. We were both stunned silent and laughed aloud as each card fell into place, perfectly revealing the story we knew to be true from our unique view. Our homework, to make sense of it for ourselves and come back together in 5 weeks to plan 'what next?'.

My questions. What does it mean to use my communication skills to invite and embrace the opportunities to contribute and find joy in the change this new day makes possible? What does it mean to hold my relationships differently and fully, as the ground, reducing my frustration and opening up the floodgates of what I have to offer? Other questions arise on either side, the feminine and masculine, the voices from which I will explore the paradoxes I know I must come to terms with.

Freedom & Responsibility.
Individual & Collective.

I begin a conversation with many sides, with myself.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Equal Parts Inspiration & Experimentation

Having been completely inspired by the new book on handmade books called (wait for it)..."500 Handmade Books", I set out to experiment with various binding techniques and see what showed up in my hands.

At this same time President Obama takes office and my on-line conversations with fellow Inauguration Watchers turned to the wicked paradox of Hope and it's shadow Despair (Fear, Overwhelm...). Amazing author, activist, friend Meg Wheatley published a provocative paper just before the election, calling us to cast hope aside and instead live in the place beyond hope & fear. A place I've come to call the InBetween. And this journal - with more than two sides - was born. A container to hold our realities of two sides and write, sketch and doodle our way to a place beyond, and between. Meg gave me permission to use her article as I wished.

I wish to share some with you here....

"Perhaps in preparation for this time, I’ve spent years learning from those who have endured periods of darkness and destruction: Europeans who lived through WW II, Holocaust survivors, freedom fighters in South Africa, and those in the Third World who persevere through unending years of horror and loss. Their stories and wisdom describe a different place from which to do our work—the place beyond hope and fear.

Those of us raised in Western culture have a noteworthy relationship with hope. We can’t envision life without it. Hope of accomplishing is one of our primary motivators, what moves us into action. Hell, according to Dante, is the place devoid of hope; he told Christians condemned there to, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter herein.” The Hebrew prophets warned that without vision, the people perish. We’ve been taught to hope for a better world as the first step in creating one. Our bright visions bring the future into focus and cause it to be. We set a clear strategy, make a plan, and work hard. As long as we maintain our intention and work hard enough, our endeavors will create positive change. And we carefully and strategically choose to do only those things that will yield positive outcomes. How could our lives be meaningful, how could we do our work, if we had no hope that we’d succeed?

Here’s the problem with hope. It never enters a room without fear at its side. Hope and fear are intimate and ever-present companions. If I hope to accomplish something, I’m also afraid I’ll fail. And when confronted with the truth of failure, such as we are now, we become depressed and overwhelmed. Rather than inspiring and motivating us, hope becomes a weight made heavy with the fear of failure.
So we have to abandon hope, all of us, and learn how to enter the place “beyond hope and fear.”