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I made it through the time leading up to and the week marking the 3rd anniversary of my Beloved leaving this place. One thinks "time heals all wounds," but not always. I was deeply fortunate that we found each other in this world. He and I both knew the depth of this blessing, no matter the challenges physical and brain body might inflict upon us. So, this week, this day, this moment, I again feel I am rising "up from a broke-open heart." This is my life now. Though some moments some days some weeks feel impossibly painful, to have loved and to continue to love this man, Mike, has always been and is worth every moment.

 

While going through the slow descent into the week of his death, I finished the prayer flag "Strength and Resilience." There were many instances when I felt utterly scoured out empty of any sense of what these words mean. It can be agonizing to make these flags at times because, invariably that is what happens. I am cleansed of former perceptions of the prayers/words/titles. Yet, while feeling raw inside and out, I continue to show up at the table and at the sewing machine. Sometimes in tears. Sometimes completely unable to utter a word. It is then that the title becomes a mantra and a true prayer. When I have nothing else to give. And it is through this emptying that the deeper and truer meaning of the prayer can flow into me, carrying in its wake, gratitude.

 

During the week of the anniversary, I began in earnest the prayer flag "Presence." So how could I but stay as present as possible even in the throws of despair? This is what I did, to the best of my ability. And this weekend, as I begin my accent up from my broke-open heart, I shall begin to "paint with threads."

Strength and Resilience


Since my last post, I've driven to Minnesota and back to Oregon, driven to Iowa and then flown back to Oregon, finished the commissioned prayer flag, "Compassion," re-pieced then finished the prayer flag, "Strength and Resilience," participated in my first Open Studios Tour, gotten another commission for a prayer flag (working on that one), and have in the midst of it all got a nasty spider bite that eroded a sizeable circle of skin on my forearm before remembering the properties of honey and applied a honey patch. I'm going to stop that run-on sentence right there. You get the idea. Busy.

 

Busy is good; and busy is challenging. We all know this one too. In terms of my work though, it is also a challenge because busy-ness makes the monkey-brain in my head begin to think racing around and jumping on the furniture of my thoughts is a requirement. in reality, it is especially important in times of busy-ness that I need to have a practice in place of quieting myself, bodily and mindfully. November marks many things, it is my birth month, it holds the anniversary of my Love's choice to leave earth, and it was the month (one year before my Love died) that I began the disciplined practice of meditation. It is a full and rich time in which my brain and body feels deeply many conflicting emotions. 

 

The current prayer flag I am working on, fittingly, comes with the intention/title, "Presence."

 

 





When I moved to Oregon thirty years ago, I'd never heard of a "nurse tree." At first I mistakenly called "nurse logs" by the name. The photo above is a nurse log. (A nurse tree is a larger tree that shelters smaller trees from elements) 


I was driving to the coast last week and saw a number of nurse logs (I like "nurse stump" myself. I tend to be a bit literal) and realized all those years ago when I first encountered them, I had fallen in love with the depth of compassion they represent. When I myself became pregnant a few years later, I could relate the sacrifices a woman's body makes to nurture a fetus then an infant, then a child to the unconditional compassion these nurses of the forest provide seeds, then sprouts then saplings.

 

Compassion is all around. On the same trip to the beach, as I contemplated the nurse logs, A man emerged from the brush nearby with a florescent vest and garbage bag. His truck was nice but plain. No name of any ditch-cleaning company. The man appeared to simply be alongside the road, cleaning up garbage. Tending to the beauty of the path taken by hundreds of people daily and thousands on weekends. Stewards of the earth exemplify compassion too. 

 

May that man, may those trees, those logs and stumps, feel the blessings of the beauty they create. And may their sacrifices be returned to them in multiples.


Woke up struggling this morning. Got out my emotional and spiritual toolbox. Did the work. Then showed-up in the studio. As I worked on this new commission, it occured to me, 'compassion' is what I need today. When I wake in a funk, I can so naturally push and shove and whip myself into shape, into feeling better. As if that ever works. A few weeks ago I started trauma therapy. My first session, I had a vision. The vision was compassion. And it reached back over three decades to a moment of utter despair and there drew out the seed of compassion planted by another long ago vision that saved my life. God Universe Spirit Source is good, and knows how to make a lotus bloom. And today G.U.S.S. taught me a bit about that. 

 

Enjoy the progression of the day in the photos below (ready to be pinned and sewn):























And now, a poem for the Artist Warriors

 

Title: Good to know

 

Wandering is part of the artist’s life

And so too is sometimes being lost.

              Knowing this doesn’t make it easier to feel lost.

              It’s just good to know.

It’s only in the desert where

The miracle of mirages happen.

              Remembering this doesn’t make dry times easier.

              It’s just good to know.

The deepest holes in the earth

Reveal our most precious gems.

              Realizing this doesn’t make the digging easier.

              It’s just good to know.

Warriors are born in wars, where

Bonds between humans are broken or forged.

              Seeing this doesn’t make fighting battles easier.

              It’s just good to know.

And it is in wandering lost that one finds

The road never before known to human-kind.

              Believing this doesn’t make life easier.

              It’s just good to know.





I was talking with some friends about the current prayer flag I am working on and about a post on FB. The wording of just what it is that I do came up and so I clarified that I "free-style machine stitch" the flags on my sewing machine. There was some question as to whether I used an embroidery machine. Nope. It's a simple little machine. Then one of the women showed us some of her quilts and the question came up asking whether she had quilted them. She answered, "no, I don't have a free-style stitching machine." I let it go.

 

I feel compelled however to clear this up more publicly because I get these comments and questions alot about what kind of fabulous machine allows me to "paint with thread." Here it is, I use the simple sewing machine shown in the photo above. It only has straight and a few zigzag options for seams and hems. That's all. 

 

Every sewing machine has the option to free-style stitch. All you have to do is lower the feeder feet (so you move the fabric through yourself) and attach a darning foot which allows more flexibility in movement. It cost $200 fifteen years ago. Now you know my secret.

 


 

I don't know if I blogged about this before. I don't think so, so here I go.

 

Over 20 years ago, it became apparent to me that at the end of a year, some word or idea would seem to be recurring. I took it at that time and since to mean that this was to be somehow incorporated into the upcoming year as some sort or other “theme” to my life. I wish I’d kept a clear list of all the themes throughout the years. It may have enlightened me a bit as I look back. But, that didn’t happen. I DO recall the first theme was “Anya.” 1996 was the year of “Anya.”

 

These themes are not all fun and pretty. 1996 was the year I separated from my first husband, cut off all contact with birth family members (for almost two years) and started a relationship with an abusive man. But it also was the year I learned how to rock climb and began mountaineering training, got over (for the most part) my fear of heights and spiders (I discovered they were both related to loss of control, something rock climbing helped me process), began an apprenticeship in mannequin restoration, and found I could be a single mom

 

Somewhere in the decades, “Exuberance,” showed up. That was a wild year, I can tell you that. In short, every word/theme has blessings and challenges. Like most all of life. Last year was the year of “Flying.” I’ve never had so many opportunities or resources to travel as last year. So many gifts in that, and many challenges. The year my Beloved left this world, the theme had been “Prosperity.” That word downloaded in my brain one day before he disappeared for three weeks. It was a challenging theme for a challenging year. During that year however, I also was presented with my first gallery show dates. I found a painting and life mentor among other blessings amid heartbreak. I also first learned to love fiercely tenderly that year and with open hands.

 

So, how does it work for me? Well, here’s the usual scenario: come December, I tend to feel reflective in gratitude about the year. Noting what all played out and where the theme of that year took me. I thank God, the Universe and Everything for the challenges and lessons learned as well as the more easily identifiable blessings. Then I pray with open hands, mind and heart asking for a theme for the coming year. Sometime during the month of December, a word begins showing up and downloading in my brain from time to time. Eventually I notice and sense that this is “the word.”

 

When “the word,” downloads, generally there are two responses. An initial relief that trust in God, the Universe and Everything really does work, again. And the second is “REALLY?” and “Are YOU SURE? ‘Cause, I can’t see how …” Basically, I wrestle with the gift. In the end, invariably, I am certain God the Universe and Everything must have a good laugh over my seeming need to question the sense in whatever word was chosen. But invariably I come to my senses and acquiesce to the Divine powers that be. Then I wait and mostly begin moving forward, leaning into where this new word takes me.

 

So, this year’s word, which has actually been knocking at my consciousness’ door for about 6 months and finally it got in, is “Writing.” Ta da! Here we are and here we go…!


I have three beautiful sisters, all younger than me. The youngest happens to be one of the best stained glass painters in the U.S. This, and she also dresses fabulously, mostly from thrift and vintage shops. I recently had the joy of traveling with her (and my mom) to Barcelona and throughout Italy. In that experience, I was challenged to the point of learning some wonderful lessons. The one coming to mind today is from something my sister said, "Every day is an event!" She said this when we were talking about how often she changes clothes in any given day and how impressed I was and am that I too am now unafraid of dressing as fabulously (or outrageously) or plainly as I like, depending all on just one thing: me.  

 

So, "the Holidays" are upon us, and for some, they do infact feel heaped upon our shoulders. Whether memories of past traumas -- or present stressors or emotions or trauma, "The Holidays" can be very challenging. But I think of my own trauma around this time (today is a very important anniversary of a sad sad day that changed everything for my little family) and realize, really, it's like any other day. The fact of "The Holidays," really only changes things if I put different expectations on these days than any other -- other people's expectations, cultural, societal, extended family expectations, Halmark, Irving Berlin's expectations... If I find the quiet place in me that deals with anniversaries of traumas and events all throughout the year (as anyone who's loved one ended their life does), I see that this time, this day is indeed an event equal to them all. 

 

It takes the swollenness out of "The Holidays," for me to think about it this way. Today I just walk through it as I do every day. And if it feels right to put on a snappy outfit and shock our small community, I might do that. Or I may just want to spend the day wrapped in the snuggly coat Mike bought me on our last hiking trip to Central Oregon. Losing him and our life as it was, continues to feel heavy every day, "The Holidays" or not. Everyday is an Event. But I do have a choice about how I will dress myself for the occasion. Metaphorically as well as literally. Just like every other day.