twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

An Intentional Hail Mary January 5, 2017

img_3269

Last year I managed to do something I once promised myself I wouldn’t do: I completely, utterly ignored my blog for nearly an entire year.

Sure, past years, about midway through, life got crazy and I skipped a month or three of blogging. But the last year has been so overwhelming and relentless that every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t puzzle out where the heck to even start.

Some of you friends know the health challenges my little family has faced this past year; all of these difficulties were enough to affect each of us so deeply that just making it through each day alive was a victory. And sadly I know that many, if fact all of us out there, face tremendous struggles daily. And often, privately.

In my own case, beyond physical frustrations and pain, much of the suffering I struggle with revolves around how life has seemed to pass me by. I am haunted by my inability to yet accomplish goals I’d pinned to the walls of my mind as a bright young thing. Now tattered, these plans flap in the winds of time. The days have flown with the winds. It seems the grind of life has ground on, but I don’t feel improved by any of my trials. Older, certainly; but not wiser.

Still, recognizing that inner work needs to be done is some kind of progress, right? At least I’m awake enough to see that I need that soul work to become the person I was born to be. To be a person who lives thoughtfully, with intention and gratitude. To make thoughtfulness the place in my mind I where I automatically start thinking. To banish negativity. Especially self-directed negativity. And as though to underline all that thinking, the universe appears to be throwing teachers in my path.

Recently I came across a lovely memoir called Never Broken, by Jewel, the singer. I haven’t finished it yet, however I find myself inhaling her words. Her early years, full of struggle and pitfalls, belie the strength and insight this woman has nurtured within herself: her journaling, poetry/songwriting, and creed have a thoughtfulness that is inspirational. In the afterword of her book, she lists things she did to help “retrain” her thoughts and behaviors and they are such wise simple things such as Spend time in silence, Establish a gratitude practice, Create a home for happiness, Embrace imperfection, to name a few. To some, these statements may seem like self-help retreads, however, when read within the context of her memoir, you see them in action. She actually lives her belief that inside each of us is a perfect soul that can never be broken, and that no matter what bad things happen to you, your soul is still there, untouched and waiting for you to reveal its strength and beauty. We just have to do the work to look inside.

And then, there is my personal guru and friend, Elizabeth Duvivier. She is an amazing soul, a wise woman, a gentle but spirited teacher. She is the creator of the legendary Squam Art Workshops (which will sadly come to an end after their fall retreat this year). I was personally introduced to her genius when I took an online workshop she was offering in 2014, called The Magic of Myth. Here we studied the ancient myth of Psyche and Eros, and then, using our newly found insights, we wrote myths of our own. This class touched me in a way I hadn’t expected, however. It not only inspired me to focus on my writing again, but further, it forced me to look deeper inside myself and find the themes that defined how I saw myself…how life’s journey had shaped me.

This year, I was lucky enough to take part in Elizabeth’s “Into the Mystic” retreat. I can’t possibly go into all the details here (though perhaps I will sometime), but I found myself awakening new areas of my psyche while there. Trying to see my self without judgment, was a practice I began to work on. And very difficult indeed for me.

And in 10 days, I am thrilled to say I’ll be taking Elizabeth’s new online year-long course, The Magic of Myth II–End of the Quest. (I believe there are still spots available–you might want to check it out) We’ll be working to go further inward, to “live from our source.” By doing so, I hope to learn to be able to see and feel more clearly why I’m here. This explanation barely scrapes a tiny line into the depth I suspect this course will have, however, as Elizabeth always says, you choose how deep you want to go.

And I say, hell. Time’s running out. Go long, go deep. It’s gonna be a Hail Mary pass sort of year…I can feel it.

 

Advertisements
 

Was it all just a dream…? June 13, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:04 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Squam Art Workshops, that is. (warning: picture-heavy post; not sure how the type will wrap, so, sorry in advance.)

The entire experience seemed to flow past me so very quickly that I was swept away in it all like a leaf in a stream, riding along, taking it all in until I was deposited at last on the shore.

Breathless. All of it.

I cried when I finally arrived, Elizabeth greeting every person with a hug (unless you were a hand-shaking sort of person); I cried a bit when I left.

I must be honest: I was rather scared of going to Squam alone. I wouldn’t know a soul there. Not face-to-face “know,” anyway. I’d have a roommate I’d never met before and stay in a cabin full of ten other women with one shower and 2 bathrooms. There would be nature. Like spiders and mosquitoes and mice. There would be designer/artist luminaries–people whose work I’d knitted or “queued,” or blogs I’ve read. But they’d be here…going through the dinner line with me.

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

But from the moment I got into the shuttle at Manchester Airport, and serendipitously met one of my teachers, Kerry Lemon, I felt welcomed.

So, Kerry…I felt I knew her a wee bit already as she was a “guest speaker” via a video she made for Elizabeth’s online class, The Magic of Myth. And she was even more delightful in person. I felt like we had an instant connection, full of “right, me too!” moments, the entire way on that ride in. I couldn’t wait to take her class, since I love her art, and the ride into Squam made me even more excited. And also in that connection, I felt a bit calmer about my decision to go.

And silly me to worry about the cabin situation…I felt welcomed in that amazing cabin as a stumbled through the creaky door and met my roomies. Elizabeth and Forrest–so wise, those two–set up this cabin with half of us newbies/first-timers, and the other half, women who’d been there before (one, seven times, if I recall correctly) and helped us find our way. I began calling them our Squam sages. They knew how to rearrange the furniture so that we could all sit around the fire at the same time. They knew to bring lots of wine. They were fun, and friendly, and patient, and generous–and knew how to have a really good time. Really good…

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

The back porch...

The back porch…

The shower thing worked itself out just fine.

And my roommate was sweet, considerate, and all-around delightful.

There was nothing to worry about at all.

And all of it was as wonderful, or surpassed my expectations (I know we were warned not to have any pre-conceived notions, but that is nearly impossible, you know?). I loved my classes: Drawn Together, with Kerry, and Found Poetry, with amazing poet Sarah Sousa. Lovedlovedloved. Both teachers put so much thought and preparation into their classes. Both classes challenged me and nurtured me, and I went away from each feeling a bit more confident, and more inquisitive and thoughtful regarding my drawing and writing. Really inspired. (Both of them have wonderful blogposts about their own experiences at Squam–and a little picture of one of the things I made is in Sarah’s blog. Go look.)

I found myself sitting down at tables to have lunch with complete strangers, and very comfortable about it I might say, too. In fact, the day I asked to sit down with a woman who was sitting by herself, we found ourselves spontaneously joined by several other women, including knitting designer Amy Herzog (her website is in my blogroll, BTW), and she asked to join us!

So you knitters who are on Ravelry will also likely know some of these other names: Clara Parkes, Ysolda Teague, Kate Atherley, Gudrun Johnson, Thea Colman, Bristol Ivy, Ravelry’s own Jess and Casey with their adorable baby son, along with artists like Kerry Lemon, Ann Wood, and Colleen Attara, to name just a few. Not all were teaching; some were speaking, and some were there just to be there. I wanted to snap photos of them, but it seemed weird. It was hard not to fan-girl, though, let me tell you.

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators…plus a story about a skunk. 😉

And then there was the always welcoming “hostess,” Elizabeth Duvivier who floated through the dining hall sprinkling faery dust and sunshine and smiles on everyone.

Okay, at the risk “woo-woo”ing the whole experience, I just have to tell you what I told Elizabeth on the last day there…I felt all filled up inside. Like nurtured and recharged. She responded by telling me that it was because I found “my tribe.” She was right. No matter what our ages were, or where we’d travelled from to be there, we had a common link: we all were driven to explore and be creative, and most of all, encourage one another.

And now, even though the days spent at Squam seem rather like a dream now, I am even more focused on making every day creative.

I cannot wait to go back next year.

And now, a little of my photo album…

Check-in and everyone's in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

Check-in, and everyone’s in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

IMG_3088

IMG_3086

All the views were as spectacular as these...

All the views were as spectacular as these…

Kerry's class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone...

Kerry’s class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone…

We passed the journals through the class and everyone worked in everyone else’s journal for an interesting exercise in color and technique

An example of one of Kerry's own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

An example of one of Kerry’s own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse...

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse…

IMG_3098

And to the Art and Craft Fair

And to the Art and Craft Fair

My fav new bumper stickerMy fav new bumper sticker

 

Decisions, decisions. Again. May 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merono light

Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merino light

What to bring on a trip always gets me in a dither. Here’s one of the places in my life where being organized is key to not making my head explode. I admit it—I start a list of what to bring the moment I make the plane reservations. It’s a list that has a hallowed spot on the little table beside the “chair,” a pencil alwaysalways resting at the ready on top. Oh yes, and I check the weather at my destination twice daily using my Yahoo weather app. I love to be prepared.

You can’t imagine the cranial chaos that ensues for me when Captain Romance suggests a spur of the moment overnighter. I used to be spontaneous. I used to be able to throw a few things (usually all black), makeup, some not-sensible shoes, and some fabulous earrings into a weekender and flit out the door. I blame motherhood.

After Bug was born I learned that if I wasn’t prepared for all diapering/clothing/hunger/thirst/boredom/stuffed animal emergencies and had diapers & wipes/a complete second outfit/cheerios/water/crayons, paper, chunky picture books/blue puppy and “beanie baby of the day” in my backpack, I would pay, and pay dearly for my foolish forgetfulness. Even if you don’t have a kid, you’ve probably seen the parent in the restaurant/plane who didn’t prep for this and the sad consequences that occur. And unfortunately everyone in the vicinity has to suffer share in the experience. But I’ve gone off on a tangent, as usual. Sorry.

As a knitter, this crazy “what to bring” list takes on a whole new dimension. I will confess to having some 600+ items in my Ravelry queue. But in my own defense, my queue consists of what I’d love to knit, not necessarily what I will absolutely knit. I tend to “fave” lots of projects because they’re lovely or helpful, and if I put those pieces I’d really like to knit in that favorites list, I’d never remember which ones they were.

Anyway, since I’m headed off to Squam (!!!), I must decide what to bring. It must be the sort of thing that can be knitted during lots of conversation(no lace), something that can be started and stopped easily (again, no lace), but not something that requires I drag lots of yarn along, like all the cardigans currently in my WIPs (works in progress). This narrows the field considerably to the following items: plainish shawls, mitts, socks, scarves.

Well, let’s knock the scarves right off the list to begin with. Scarves—unless they’re knit from something bulkyish—just bore me out of my brains. Well, except for that “mini mania” scarf. That’s one I’m dying to make…but I think not for “in public knitting.” I’d screw it up!

Can't wait to play with this!

Can’t wait to play with this!

So after scrolling through the list and going through the prodigious stash, I’ve decided to do these two things: Quill, a lovely shawl that’s a huge chunk of garter in the center—practically perfect for knitting and chatting. But a wise knitter knows to bring a spare project, just in case: using this amazing knitting algorithm idea by Statnerd on Ravelry, and this lovely basic arm warmers/mitts pattern from Fairieisle on Ravelry, I’m gonna attempt (attempt, mind you) a planned pooling project with this gorgeous Miss Babs Yummy “Cleopatra.” I’ll have to play with a swatch, first, but it’ll be a fun experiment, and perhaps if I’m lucky, there will be some “planned pooling” experts at Squam.

 

It’s Glittery! April 30, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 10:21 am
Tags: , , , , ,
This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don't need to return it to redeem it!

This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don’t need to return it to redeem it!

Wow! Would you look at the beautiful certificate I got in the mail yesterday from Elizabeth and Forrest?! I will treasure it forever!!

It’s so special!! Pictures just don’t do it justice—it’s hand painted and glittered, and look: my name is on it! Joy! and smiles! and so much gratitude. And peace. So much peace. The fact that I was able to communicate my feelings and have them understood brings me personally so much peace and joy.

I am so filled with gratitude right now for all of you, my dear friends. Thank you one and all for your kind words and encouragement. The little girl deep inside feels very nurtured right now. Thank you.

Edited to add: I just found out that this lovely piece of art was created by Forrest! He is so very talented—you should see some of his beautiful photography, too! Oh, I am so excited to soon be able to spend time with so many dear and creative people at Squam!

See the sweet card, too?! Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

See the sweet card, too?!
Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

 

Here goes… April 2, 2015

My entry, "the epiphany box"

My entry, “the epiphany box”

So last time I was here I posted a snippet of a VIP (Very Important Project) I’d sunk my teeth into. I didn’t mean to be a tease or anything, I just didn’t want to reveal anything until it was finished and winging its way to the contest I was entering. And believe me, this project took up nearly every moment since I first showed you. Everything–well nearly everything–in my life got sidelined. It was exhilarating to be so immeshed in a thing so creative. It’s been ages since I felt that way. In a nutshell, the contest challenge was to take an old Squam Art Workshop tote and repurpose it into…well something else. The prize is a scholarship to any 2015 or 2016 session of Squam the winner chooses. How could I resist the challenge? And though the concept/idea of what I wanted to express was quite clear in my mind, for the better part of the last couple of months I’ve been experimenting with exactly how to turn it into art. The only thing I knew was that I’d be cutting apart and embroidering the tote for a cover of some sort. At first I thought I’d make a lovely handcrafted journal and fill it with writing and drawings. I set out at once to teach myself to make a book with an exposed coptic stitch spine. Ha. Easier said than done. Plus, I kept wanting to incorporate three dimensional items into the journal, and wasn’t able to figure out how to do that and make it work the way I wanted. The only answer was to toss my control freak self out the window and, as Elsa would say, “Let it go.What I came up with was this: the epiphany box. Here’s the idea: Everything you need is within you: the moment I read the sentiment on the tote, the idea for my entry was clear. I wanted to illustrate how, after taking Elizabeth Duvivier’s (the creator/founder of Squam and all around amazing goddess-woman) “The Magic of Myth” course last spring, I realized that the way I wanted to live my life was inside me all along. I wanted to show how my heart had opened I was inspired to listen and jump back onto my creative path. IMG_2675Holding that memory, I took a deep breath and began to reconstruct the lovely tote into a suitcase which would represent the beginning of that journey–the epiphany I had a year ago. To more deeply illustrate “Everything you need is within you,” I hand-embroidered and reverse appliqued the poppy so that it reveals itself from behind a “window” in the linen. It scatters its seeds (antique French glass beads), planting ideas and spreading its joy wherever its seeds land. I then applied the hand-embroidered piece to the case which I’d painted with scenes of poppy fields all around the sides and on the back. I sewed seven giant “poppy seeds” of black felt and placed them inside the bottom of the case; tucked within each felt seed I placed a little glass bottle to represent a gift or skill that I feel I possess or have reclaimed.

The little bottles that'll go inside the felt "poppy seeds."

The little bottles that’ll go inside the felt “poppy seeds.”

Examples of a few bottles--"Writer," "Fiber Addict," and  "Jeweler."

Examples of a few bottles–“Writer,” “Fiber Addict,” and “Jeweler.”

The "Lover" bottle next to a  filled "poppy seed."

The “Lover” bottle next to a filled “poppy seed.”

Beneath the poppy seeds in the bottom of the box I put a drawing of where my heart felt stuck before The Magic of Myth class. The drawing I made inside the top lid illustrates the release of creativity and love I felt bursting back into my world during the class, much like the poppy’s release of seeds.

The drawings...I'm so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

The drawings…I’m so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

Even though I love to write more than just about anything, the exercise of drawing again filled me with a mixture of thrill and terror. Could I still draw? Would I be able to draw what I saw in my mind’s eye? You be the judge if it’s effective, but I ended up happy with the result. What I found was that the process of drawing was so exhilarating that all I wanted to do for nearly a week was draw. Sigh.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

The box is on its way to Rhode Island now for judging and I can’t wait to find out the verdict. But I feel, in my own heart, with the reconnection I’ve made with drawing and embroidery, I’ve already won something, you know? What do you think? I’d love to hear…

IMG_2671

 

Mea Culpa March 13, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:38 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Darling friends!

Where does the time go? My last post was exactly 4 months ago. Exactly.

I love to visit on my blog, so why haven’t I done so in 4 long months? I guess the only reason I can point to is life–life in general. It’s been a tough winter for nearly every single dear personal friend and family member, so I know you understand. Illness, work, weather, it all sort of conspired to keep me from sitting and writing to let you all know what was up.

Lots of custom rosary work kept my hands busy, as well as nursing us through some awful mystery cold that we passed around. Heck, I think even the cats got sick. I made a record number of pots of chicken soup and many many little dumplings. It was the strangest cold, for if I’d overdo anything–tidying, cooking, errand-running–I’d feel like I’d gotten run over by a truck, and then would have to spend the next day in bed. Crazy. I barely had the energy to pick up any knitting. By the time we were all well, there was so much catching up to do I almost didn’t know where to start. I literally had to make a cup of Earl Grey and sit and make a list.

One of the things high on that list of “to do’s” was this…

To Be Explained...

To Be Explained…

It will be my entry for a “scholarship” to Squam Art Workshops–yes, I’m soooo excited I’m finally going to go to Squam this June! Are any of you going? I’d love to know if you were going. I will be explaining and showing you all more of what this little thing will be in my next post.

Until then, Happy Friday. Great to see you again.goingtosquam

 

 

 
%d bloggers like this: