Tuesday, December 31, 2013

walking in familiar foot prints

I am saying goodbye to 2013 with gladness and looking to 2014 with such excitement and wonderment. I awake every morning fascinated to see what shows up by breakfast and then what unfolds as the day progresses.

I am no longer in Oswego, NY with the partner I had for three years. I am no longer surrounded by tie-dye, fabric, threads, and choking on no space to sit (except my sewing chair). For the past three weeks since being on my own I have had room to breathe, room to grow and expand, and just plain room to put my feet up and relax. I have no one but me to answer to. I sleep at night in peace and quiet. I stretch out in bed. I read as late as I want. It is freeing.

So, here I am beginning this new journey and shutting the door to the past one without looking back. I rarely even think of the life I had in Oswego. I am so focused on where I am going that looking back is not even tempting. I visualize my feet being placed in the footsteps I've already taken as I step forward into the Jill I've been waiting to become.

The time is now for me to show up authentically, spiritually, and lovingly. I feel my people calling me home, and when I think of life there in the mountains my eyes tear up. This time I'm going back so that I can finally do what I've been waiting lifetimes to do. Ah... it feels so right. I spread my wings easily and am able to soar unhindered.

What do I want in 2014? Peace. Harmony. Opulence. Luxury. Fun. Laughter. Being with my people. I have missed that most. For three years I have been without my tribe. I am used to being surrounded by many like-minded people, and here I've found less than a handful. As grateful as I am for them, I have longed for the spiritual connections I've had previously. I love the deep conversations about things I've rarely spoken of here, and now that I've made the break, I do nothing but speak of what I've missed. I listen to guided meditations. I do ceremony whenever possible. I feel the energy I used to take for granted and am now relearning how to use it like I used to.

I've reconnected with spiritual friends all over the continent. And, I feel my tribe coming back together. I feel the bonds growing, the love expanding, and the excitement building. There are several of us now wanting to work together. Right now the intentions and holding the space for this beautiful healing center have expanded. These beautiful beings from my past are coming forward and meeting me, encouraging me, and loving me. With just minutes before the new year begins I feel so very blessed. I feel so supported and unconditionally loved. I forgot how extraordinary that is. I'm walking in those foot prints I made long ago back to where I belong, and I know the struggles that I've gone through have put me in a place right now that serves me better than anything else ever could. Right now I step forward without looking back, and I say yes to what I'm walking towards. I run towards it because I've already waited long enough. It's there in the mountains waiting for me wondering just what it was that has taken me so long.

All the puzzle pieces have come together now, and it is time to begin anew.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

traveling "O" Magazine wall hanging

So, here I've sat most of the evening cruising the net, when I discover for the second day in a row a picture that I haven't seen since 11/11/08. I've seen it at least a dozen times in the last 24 hours. Hm... I grow a bit suspicious of that. I ask myself what does that mean to see something that has meaning to me? And, to see it numerous times after not seeing it for five years?

Here's the story. In 2003 I took a photo-transfer quilt class in Boulder, Colorado. The interesting thing was that every time I tried to copy my pictures onto fabric using the instructor's printer, the pictures came out in shades of browns and golds instead of the bright oranges, purples, and yellows they were originally. The fabric I brought with me was not going to work with the fabric photos now, so I skipped the rest of the class, took my fabric photos home and tossed them onto the top of a pile of fabrics on my floor in the studio.

Days if not weeks went by before I finally noticed that the photos were on top of African fabrics that matched them beautifully. I grabbed the pile off the floor and within hours had composed a wall hanging with all the "discolored" fabric photos and African fabrics. While looking at the almost completed top hanging on my design wall I realized that I had unknowingly placed the photos in a way that looked like an African woman. Hm...

The other thing about the wall hanging??? I had made it from "O" Magazine's pictures, so I could not sell it. I never made something that couldn't be sold, so why I chose copyrighted pictures is truly beyond me. I finally finished the piece in 2004, sewing my name and date, which ended up looking like 2009, into the quilt. A few months later I decide to get a divorce. For some reason that wall hanging went with me to my next destination -- Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

In 2008 I was given a gift certificate for a joint session with an intuitive and massage therapist. Megan Sisk told me during the session that I was to move back to Dallas area because I had unfinished business with my daughter. I said absolutely never would I move back to Texas. And, she also told me that Oprah figured into my life. She asked me if there was anything I knew of that connected me to Oprah in any way. The only thing I could think of was the quilt hanging on the wall in my studio, so I told her about that. She told me I needed to get it to Oprah. I told her I had already emailed people to no avail. No response whatsoever. I knew I couldn't sell the piece and I had offered it to Oprah as a gift.

Megan told me I was going through the wrong venue. I needed to contact Gayle King, Oprah's best friend. I remember being so relaxed from the massage that I think I might've agreed to anything at that point. I wasn't really so sure Megan was reading me very well because she said I was moving back to Texas. I already thought she was off her rocker.

Well, within the month I was headed back to Texas and living with my daughter. Before I left, however, my friend, Jamie, who was helping me move my studio belongings  into the U-Haul took down the quilt, and remembering Megan's advice she offered to package the quilt and take it to Fed-Ex right then and there. I found an address for Gayle King and off Jamie went with the package.

Fast forward to a little over five years later when I'm seeing a picture of African children's feet in a circle, a picture I hadn't seen since that day Jamie and I were in my studio. And, now I see it over and over and over.
I don't take this lightly. I really pay attention to what shows up in my life, and this picture has been in my face many times today. So, what does that mean? Well, for kicks I thought I'd just throw my story out into the internet world and see if anything shows up. I have never heard from anyone related even remotely to Oprah that the wall hanging has ever been received. As a matter of fact, I have forgotten all about it as my life has carried me through so many paths that Oprah has not even been a part of my waking hours -- until now.

So, there you have it. My name was quilted into the bottom right corner with a "2004" that looks like a "2009". If anyone knows the whereabouts of the quilt it would be fun to know what happened to it.

It's About Time

I'm sitting on the couch in the late afternoon amazed that the sun is still up and as high as it is. It's only been a week since days have grown longer, and it's  noticeable today. The drapes are closed so that we can see the movie on the big screen. Hunkered down on the couch with Johnny Depp in front of us. 

We took a little jaunt on foot to the village this afternoon collecting books and DVDs at the library to keep us company, to entertain us, and to expand us. It is and has been a time of growth and expansion. A time of reflection and adjusting course corrections. With every moment spent in stillness we're discovering meaning in the events that held our attention earlier this year. It's been a year of such enormous changes and re-arranges that it has both of us contemplating meanings and scrutinizing previous events in our lives. What we're discovering is connections with what we've been experiencing for years now.

I, for one, have been having "flash backs" to nine years ago when my life took a gigantic turn leading me to being single and moving to another town after being in the same place for 26 years. Those things that came into my life nine years ago have been inching their way into my life again. This time I see what transpired then comes back into play now with a lot of the same people and a few "new" ones. The players are coming together. The puzzle pieces are lining up, and the way is being made clear for us to return home.

I am living in the unknown, drinking it in like an elixir and enjoying the moments not questioning the questions others have and being sure that it is all unfolding beautifully without my knowledge of the how.

I do know the why of it all. It is time for this to happen. It's about time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

a day of grace

Christmas morning. Snow covers everything. Christmas lights hang from the curtain rod and the little metal tree drips with ornaments made of wood and white lights.

I read a Facebook post by someone I went to high school with. I also went to grade school with her, and I met her for lunch one day while I was still living in Texas. Her post today was very similar to our conversation a few years back. Today she wrote about her childhood Christmases and her Christmases as a young mother, and how deeply she missed those times. Our conversation a few years ago centered around how she missed her times in high school. (She works at that high school now and has for years.)

I can't even come close to wrapping my head around missing any part of high school and any previous Christmases. Apparently I don't look back. Maybe it's easy for me to burn bridges, leave things behind, and move on. I do so love a new adventure. I love basking in the feeling of new experiences. That to me is like opening presents Christmas morning. I can say that easily now even when it is Christmas morning, and I am house sitting for a friend in her home in a town where I've never lived. Just a couple of weeks ago I packed my things and moved again. I've been unpacking and re-deciding what stays with me on this new venture. I can easily sell and give away things I've made, clothes I've brought with me, and keepsakes... Well, I really don't have keepsakes.

I arrived in New York three years ago with two suitcases and a box. I have even less now. And, it feels good. There are no presents under a Christmas tree to unwrap, but there is an overflowing of gratitude and love for spending my day in this lovely home with my daughter and a beautiful loving being that looks just like a dog.

I want for nothing. My heart is full. I can feel where I'm headed, and I become overwhelmed with joy-filled tears. Nine years ago I took a drive to Snowmass, Colorado not knowing why. It was a trip that altered my life in every way. It was there that I discovered that it was necessary for me to get a divorce, sell my house that I had just built, and learn to fly. I thought I was supposed to get my pilot's license, but what I've learned instead was how to use my own wings and soar.

Nine years later I know I'm heading back to that area. This time I know why. This time I'm ready to be that person I need to be to grant my own wishes. I am that being, that lovely shade of light that beams across the night sky to the west, to the Continental Divide where it mingles with the light that's already there just waiting for my physical body to show up so that I can do the work that I came here to do. Finally my physicalness has caught up with my vibrational energy body. Finally. I've taken many twists and turns since that trip nine years ago. I've developed many relationships, experimented with how to be in this world, and stripped away many, many layers of masks that have accumulated through the decades.

I'm still not done. It's a life long task uncovering my authenticity, but with every layer of excavation I enjoy the process even more. I live in this world, but I don't adhere to its traditions. I make up my own because they feel good to me at that moment. So today I will be fixing pizza with my daughter. The dog already got his rope and bone, and later there will be movies while curled up on the couch snuggled under a blanket together. To me this is bliss. I am in a beautiful home and can feel the presence of my dear sweet friend in her crystals, rocks, plants and Grateful Dead posters. She is with us in spirit as we enjoy our Christmas moments.

My stomach is growling. I hear my daughter in the kitchen, and the dog is circling his bed. It's time to stop writing and get on with this glorious day of grace, beauty, and great love.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It is Done!

I watched this video this morning and realized how much of what Abraham is voicing is exactly why I am on the path I'm on right now. I can look back at all the twists and turns my life has taken and see the resonating vibrations that attracted to me exactly what I was putting out. And so it is right now.

For the past three years especially I have been immersed in the physical world depriving myself of the experiences in the spiritual realm that I had so enjoyed for years previously. I chose that path for a reason -- to truly and deeply know beyond a shadow of a doubt what I really wanted in my life and how I wanted to be right now. That decision catapulted me out of a relationship, a town, a house, and a way of living that I had embraced for three years. That decision spit me out so quickly that right now when I look back on the people and situations that arose I am amazed at how brilliantly, succinctly, and serendipitously it has all played out. This is another reason why I know that I am following my heart right now. My soul is blossoming. I feel connected so clearly that I have opened up to the world that I had left behind years ago. This time though I'm showing up with more clarity and more maturity to not only accept who I am, but also to be so willing to be that person, that magnificent being.

I feel the universe bending to my desires. I hear the applause of angelic beings hip-hip-hooraying that I have finally agreed to participate fully and lovingly. I am spreading my wings that have been encapsulated in the cocoon of my own making, and it draws to me the exact conditions that I so desire. I am engulfed in deep love and gratitude to all who have made this transition possible. My wish has been granted, and I know it is done.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Being Home

I awoke this morning, grabbed my computer and a hot cup of coffee, pulled the drapes back, and situated myself on the couch. When I activated my computer, this song began to play. It stopped me in my tracks. Before going to sleep last night I put on a Native American Chant Mix that lasts about an hour. I was hoping to hear this song, but my computer battery died. Instead of plugging in my computer I decided to roll over and go to sleep.

So when starting my computer this morning, this song began to play before I even logged in. It was the very next song on the mix. I listen to it now while I'm typing, and it is moving me to tears.

You see, seven years ago I showed up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado without any idea of why I landed there instead of Aspen/Snowmass where I really wanted to be. In my mailbox one Sunday was the Steamboat newspaper that had a large picture and article about a shaman who had also just moved to town. I didn't know what a shaman was then, but I knew that I couldn't get rid of the article or picture of him. I put it on my table where I could see it from just about anywhere in my apartment. I knew I knew him. There was a connection that I couldn't place, but I felt it anyway. So I made an appointment to see him. Within weeks of that meeting I began to work in his office. He opened up a world to me that I did not know existed, and for the past five years since leaving Steamboat, I haven't lived in that world -- until now.

That world he introduced me to has come back full force, full throttle, bigger, better, more magnificent, and truly ripe with many possibilities. I did not know how much I missed it. Instead, for five years I got to play someone else. I got to try on personalities to see how they fit. There were many parts of those personalities I liked a lot. I had some fabulous times, met tremendous people, made extraordinary friendships, and laughed excessively. What I've learned though, is that all of that is not enough.

In 2004 the visions of Aspen began. They stopped for five years, and now they're back. I saw myself living there, working there, thriving there, being the light that I am there. What I discovered was that I needed to go on a five-year excursion of other experiences to be able to show back up with an authentically open heart and pure love. I had to experience a lot of what wasn't me to be able to excavate the real me.

I sit here right now on the couch watching the cars pull up. It's Christmastime in the neighborhood and relatives and friends are making their way to the neighbors' houses. I sit alone... No, that's not true. I sit here with a room full of magnificent beings who clothe me in pure love, and I can't help but have tears spill out of my eyes. I am overflowing with gratitude and excitement. I do not have a plan. I have a knowing. I have a tremendous feeling of going back home, being in a place that has made room for me. I feel this so strongly that I cannot express in words what I know to be true.

I sit here and breathe in the love surrounding me and filling me, and I wish that for all. This is home, this love. It is everything.

Oh, and the Native American Chant with which I stared this post? My shaman played it almost daily in the office. He certainly played it during our shamanic journeys. That music takes me back to a place within where I have always felt at peace and always considered to be home.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Every morning I awake to a soft environment, one that places me at ease. It's uncluttered and feminine. I breathe  with such ease and welcome in the morning air knowing that I don't know what is next. I am very familiar with the unknown now. I've made it my friend. It's kind and gentle with me right now, but I do feel the known creeping in. Directives are amping up, and clarity forms. Ah... Either way, I'm okay. Here's what I do know -- What lies ahead is magnificent. It is what I've been waiting lifetimes for. I feel it. I revel in it. I bask in it. My breath calms. My heart beats softly, and smiles come easily.

I have watched today unfold as one beautiful experience after another appeared. Kindness and compassion have been the rule of the day. I have been moved to tears by the absolute generosity of those I haven't even met yet. My heart has blossomed. I have learned to love all, the sadness, the dissipating anger, and most of all, the infinite amount of love and light that have been pouring into my home in quantities that I've never experienced before.

I have learned that there is no need to worry about anything. I have learned to let go of the cliff and jump, to drop my hands from the steering wheel and allow Source to take over. Because of these lessons my life is a series of unfurling miracles. I. Am. Touched. Deeply.

For now, I am out of words to express my deepest gratitude for all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Moving Forward by Going Back Where I Belong

Back in 1970 my life took a slight turn. I heard John Denver's music and never remained the same. It was certainly not popular to be a John Denver fan, much less a Texan who moved to Colorado four years later because of him and his love of the state. My dream had been to live in Aspen. I thought that dream had fallen by the wayside, but lo and behold all these years later I find it to be alive and well in my heart.

I've been to Aspen several times. The first one in 1975. Every time life would become too much for me, I'd head to Aspen. As a wife and mother I ventured there several times to get closer to what felt good to me. I've been to John's house. I've been to his Windstar Foundation more times than I could count. I've been up close and personal with his jet at the Aspen airport, but what I didn't count on was the relationship I would have with him after his death.

In 2004 I had what has since been known to me as an incredible spiritual awakening, and it was John Denver-inspired. I learned that he was almost constantly with me providing me information of what I needed to do next. I had just built a magnificent dream home, and I was readying myself to move out of it after just a year of being there. I was ending a 27 1/2 year marriage, and I was training to become a pilot. And the desire to move to Aspen amped up tremendously. I tried for two years to get myself situated in that town but with no luck. Instead in an instant my life plan changed to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a town where I knew two people and been to just two times. I never felt it was home, but the situation opened up and I slid into town. I remember looking in my rearview mirror on my way down my driveway the day I was moving to Steamboat. I was crying and said, "You better know what you're doing because Steamboat's not Aspen." A snake slithered across the drive, and I slammed on my brakes to keep from hitting it when I heard: "I will lead you to people who will bring you closer to me."

The first person I met in Steamboat was a shaman who showed up in town the same time I did. We both looked at each other and asked at the same time, "What are you doing here?" Neither one of us knew. Within weeks I was managing his office. After working with him and his wife for several months, his wife, Sarah, and I were waiting for him to finish for the evening. She asked me my story about my own spiritual awakening. I told her how it unfolded with all the myriad John Denver inclusions. She asked me if I'd told her husband. I said no. She let me know it was imperative for me to share the story when he came out of his treatment room.

So, I did. I told him all, and I watched his face grow pale. I saw him back up to the front desk and hold onto the counter. When I finished, he looked straight at me and said, "John and I were really good friends, brothers in previous lives."

Through Rob I got to know a John Denver I wouldn't have known otherwise. We began working in Aspen several days a week, and I met more and more of John's friends. I listened to story after story of him. I got to know the stories behind the songs, how they were written and when.

In 2008 I thought my time in Colorado was over. I thought my time with my shaman and John Denver was through. I was wrong. I have recently -- very recently -- been "given notice" to get myself back to Aspen. After years of no signs of John, he's been with me pretty darn consistently now. This time I'm relaxing into the journey because I've already been through so much with following my guidance, and I have never been steered wrong. Every single time I've followed my heart I've been greatly rewarded. Each experience has been extraordinary. This time though I know it's what I've been waiting lifetimes for. This is the show of my life. I'm not sure what it's to look like, but I'm game for the thrill of it all. I know it will be a thrill because I feel it, and I trust the information that's coming to me. I am stepping forward with a touch of fear, but also with happiness in anticipation. Watching the above video made me remember all the times I've flown over Aspen and surrounding mountains. It brought back to me the wonderful memories of how those private flights altered who I was. And now I'm going back an even better version of myself because I'm ready to show up authentically and more sure of who I am. The five-year detour has been a journey of my lifetime, and I am incredibly grateful.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Letting Go

I just read this on my FB page: "Let go of your past and your past will let go of you."

Let Go has been my mantra for a while now. I don't hold onto things. I have revamped, reshaped, redesigned my life over and over and over. And, I am doing it again. Every day. Every moment. The more I read and study and meditate, the more I realize the importance of letting go, giving up the illusion of having control. I call it white knuckling life, holding on with a death grip as if my anxiety over the outcome of something will really change a thing. It never has.

So now I sit in tranquility in peaceful surroundings with beautiful beings and I breathe easily. I was taught years ago to live my life in ease and grace, and I feel I have slowly put that on the back burner for the last few years. I am uncovering the layers I've wrapped myself in and now discovering the space and inclination to spread my wings with love.

I want to say that I'm starting over, but that would be incorrect. I'm returning to who I really am. I'm living my life with wings unfurled and reuniting with some of my greatest teachers. I'm not going back as much as moving forward with greater maturity and deeper calmness. I think of those who journeyed with me in my Steamboat Springs, Colorado days, it seems that they are the ones who truly knew me most authentically because I created with them a space of growth in my own spirituality. The magnitude of layers that I cut through back then was only the beginning. I took what I had learned and experienced in my spiritual growth and set foot on soils that weren't so open to what I knew myself to be. I allowed my environment to mold me instead of the other way around because I was scared. Scared of the unknown. Scared of not fitting in. Scared of being "found out."

Well, I'm outing myself now so that being scared of that is no longer possible. I am a spiritual being that happens to be experiencing humanness. When I feel into who I really am there is no being scared. There is no need. There is only the known, and that is love, love beyond words and imagining. I have packed my bags again to set out on the next leg of my journey called life. I am unencumbered and full of peace. That's not to say that scared moments don't creep in, because they do. This time however, peace is at the ready. I just breathe it in and remember who I am. The details fall away. The happiness factor revs up, because as I look back on all that has unfolded so far I can't help but relax in the momentum that propels me forward. The people that have showed up in my life and the assistance they have given are beyond my wildest imagination. I let go of being in control, and let the doors open. I allowed the Universe to bend for me. I am grateful beyond words. This next step, whatever it is, I will take with a smile on my face.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Making whimsy

 My Facebook page is filled with posts on the incredible energies surrounding the planet right now, and I don't know about anyone else, but I sure am feeling it. I've thought about jumping out of my skin or losing my mind, and maybe I've done a little of both, but what I've recently added to the mix is making whimsy for walls. I love seeing the progression my creativity is taking me. This is the first one and it has the most fabric in it, meaning that I've made the tree and the person almost totally out of fabric. I've dolled up her hair with embroidery floss that was tie-dyed by my partner, Dan. As a matter of fact all the fabrics on the front of this piece are from his own creative mastery of  tie-dye magic.

Here's a picture of my second attempt. I got a little more cocky with the fabric markers and less into the fabric. I've been doing a bit of doodling lately to calm the crazies that show up every now and then. It's very meditative for me to sit with pen in hand and doodle the hours away. My breathing slows dramatically and I feel better in no time. Making my dresses is a much speedier process with a serger that goes faster than an Andretti on a race track. So, for now I'm tip toeing through the Sharpie marker world and seeing what shows up. 

Sometimes my own photography leaves much to be desired so let's just have a little closer look at these two to see what kind of shenanigans they're up to.
I have no idea what's going on. I just sit down on the floor or loveseat with my little pieces of fabric, thread, and markers and just let the process begin. I don't have preconceived ideas. I just know that I need to slow down, breathe, and let it happen. Whenever I get my head involved - my wacky thoughts - it muddles the process and I usually don't like what I've done.  These two little creatures just tickle me. That's all I have to say about them -- except that I'm glad they showed up. They make me smile.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Wine

 We have a friend who has given us homemade wine since I've lived here. It's the only wine that I can drink without having any side effects whatsoever. When I drink it, I savor the fruits (or flower petals) that it was made from. I know the extent that my friend has gone through to make his wines because now I've been working on my own (with great assistance and guidance from him -- thank you, Ron!)

This morning when we stopped by to pick up some racking equipment from him, he walked out the front door with two plates of egg sandwiches and a bean and squash mixture that made me think I'd died and gone to heaven. We sat out on his front porch and ate to our hearts' content.
Here he is on his front porch on Father's Day. I was not handy with a camera this morning because I was too busy eating.
But first, before we had breakfast on his front porch, we picked strawberries. In Central New York there are strawberry fields all over the place to pick and pick and pick. So, we do.

And then after the picking, is the stemming and the washing, as I'm doing in the background of this picture. Dan's the photog extraordinaire and I'm the stemmer at the helm. In our household we can't just do something without documenting it, so here are some more pictures of the strawberries freshly washed and ready to be smashed and loaded into the ale pail.
But, before we go to the mixing in the ale pail you must view the strawberries as they were all lined up waiting for their transformation...
Sixteen and a half pounds of strawberry goodness ready for the next phase.

See all those little bubbles in there? It's the yeast going crazy. It popped the lid off the pail twice! So, now it's time to put it in a carboy and let it sit for six weeks. My babysitting days are over then. Well, at least until the blackberries come in...

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Heart CNY

It's official. I heart it here. And, here being Central New York which encompasses so much more than the town in which I live. Right now the sun's shining, the breeze is blowing lightly. The strawberries are ready for picking. Birds are singing, and bees are humming. It truly is my most favorite time in this area. It helps me to forget the brutal months of staying indoors I just endured.

We have a deck on the back of the house where I love to sit outside and enjoy my morning coffee. This morning I actually took a book outside thinking I'd read and sip, but how could I when a squirrel came over to try and bite into Dan's brick bread? You know, the kind where the yeast is dead. The squirrel grabbed the chunk with both his paws. I saw him struggle to sink his teeth into it, but he gave up and ran to the garden for a strawberry instead. Much softer.
This garden is the first one I've planted since 2005. I inspect my little plantation while sitting on the deck with my coffee and watch the robins scavenge for worms, and yes of course, the squirrels picking the strawberries. It's the best "TV" watching ever. In the evenings I come home from wherever it is that Dan and I have scampered off too, and I hand water the garden because it's comforting. I can feel my heartbeat lower, and my breathing go deeper. Whatever cares I had before entering my little patch of earthly heaven are absolutely gone while I watch over my squash unfurl its leaves, and my sweet peas climb up their little fence.

You can see the corn shooting from the ground. I just planted Mammoth Sunflower seeds in a row to the north of the corn. There's also coriander, turnips, broccoli, beans, cilantro, carrots, and small basil near the crop of beans. On the far side of the garden near the "squirrel ski jump" I planted lettuce, turnips, radishes, chives, and onions.
We've already made several salads with the likes of them. There is nothing like going out to my garden, picking salad fixings with the seeds I planted weeks ago, and serving them up on the table outside. Ah...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Legacy Worth Remembering

I’m home alone in the kitchen with the oven on and sipping my second cup of coffee while reading a book I picked up at the library yesterday -- Crazy in the Kitchen by Louise DeSalvo. While in the library I hurriedly grabbed several books without really reading the covers and not once glancing at the first pages like I normally do because my partner, Dan, was downstairs waiting for me. Of all the books I checked out, that one I thought was going to be the one for Dan because I just knew it must be written by a famous TV chef with loads of Italian recipes inside.

 It was not at all that kind of book. Instead it is a memoir of sorts about a woman’s discovery of her family’s past and how it has shaped her into who she was at the time of the writing. It is a very hard read for me. Sometimes I read through tears. I even had to stop reading so I could coin my own sentences to make sense of my own family history and why I am today who I am.

But, I really don’t know who that is. Here’s what I do know. Like Louise DeSalvo the women in my family were abused verbally, sexually, and physically on my mother’s side. I don’t know much about my father’s side, and what little I do know about my mother’s is mostly violence, betrayal, and worthlessness. I had no idea how much of that I carried until a few years ago. I thought I had skipped the abuse that women in my family had experienced. I hadn’t been raped or beaten. I had a father who adored me, but I also have no memories until I was five and very few until I was in 6th grade.

Here’s what else I know: I was raised in an environment where it was okay for my brothers to belittle, disrespect, and treat a girl as worthless. And then there was my father who put me on a pedestal. I was raised in the south by a father who was around marginally because his job was to work to provide for his family. He did his job, and when he was at home he poured himself a drink before anything else. He put his head in a book or a newspaper crossword puzzle more than having a conversation. My father wanted to escape, and he taught me well. I read incessantly. I feel naked if there’s not a pile of books beside my bed. My father was a genius, a valedictorian in his high school class who won a four-year scholarship to Notre Dame, but only got to complete a few semesters before being drafted and heading into the midst of WWII.

My father never spoke a word of his time in the army. He wouldn’t eat chocolate because it was in his k-rations. He had his wool uniform, a German rifle with bayonet and Nazi flag with a bullet hole in it, a purple heart, his honorable discharge papers, and a book about his battalion. They were all out in the garage hidden away until my mother decided to clear out the clutter.

I really don’t know much about my parents’ past. I don’t know much about their parents’ lives. I did find out that my mother was an “oops” child and her siblings were many years older than her, but still young enough for her brother to abuse her, her Methodist minister father and his brothers to violently, verbally, emotionally, sexually, and physically abuse her and her sister. I know that her father had raped her older sister, but when my aunt was to testify against her father in court, she had already been removed from the county by the family. The father, my grandfather, went about his preaching and torturing instead of going to jail.

My mother ran away as a teenager, changed her name, and married thinking she would escape her father. That plan failed. He found her and beat her and took her back home. At one point he even tried to run her over with her car when she tried to escape his grasp. She told me how she rolled her body stiff as a sausage under the car so that the wheels wouldn’t hit her. I was a teenager in my bedroom doing my algebra at my desk, my mother on the floor with her legs curled up to her chin when she told me this story. She told me more like those as if she were telling me about a movie she’d just seen on TV.

I was raised by a very strong, courageous woman who had no self-worth. She could fight any hidden dragon for her children, but wouldn’t lift a hand to defend herself. This, she taught me well.

I have a daughter, a very strong, courageous woman who has been handed down a legacy of women struggling with their own self-worth. I hate that. I despise that. I feel it in me erupting like spewing lava, hot and intense. It is a black, dirty and sometimes horrifying darkness that I have buried deep within that is no longer willing to stay put, and unfortunately I have taught her well.

We live many states away from each other, but after talking to her on the phone yesterday and hearing what she’s been struggling with, I realized again how similar our journeys are still. When I think of her I feel this enormous strength build up in me to do whatever it takes to break the cycle we women have been perpetuating. When I was 21 years old, I dove easily into a marriage where the husband’s happiness was everything. It wasn’t until decades into the marriage that I was asked what I wanted, what would make me happy. I was stumped. I had never once asked myself that, and the person asking that time was my builder wondering if I wanted ceramic tile or granite for a kitchen backsplash. It altered my thinking so much that eventually I could no longer stay in a marriage where I didn’t matter.

Even though I’ve been on my own for years now, I still feel like an infant in the world. I still imagine and re-imagine how to configure myself, my thoughts, and how I show up. I find myself going deep into the muck, where the thoughts are so shitty that I can’t even speak. I feel the generations of self-loathing spiral up and out, and after each infiltration into the darkness I emerge quite a bit cleaner and clearer. But the muck is expensive. It costs a lot to carry such venom within. It’s so heavy I become immobile. I retreat so I don’t infect anyone else. And, finally when I emerge I feel as if I’m a phoenix rising out of the ashes.

I had just emerged from one of those times the day I called my daughter, returning her call. She, too, had had similar experiences. I trust that hers are lighter than mine because she’s who she is, because she’s more in tuned, more conscious, and more flexible. But, mostly I believe that because I want to. I have to. The thought of my daughter going through what I put myself through is almost more than I can handle. The tiger within me stretches to heights high enough to destroy anything that keeps her from being her magnificent self.

However, yesterday she admitted (as she has before – she is this smart!) that her difficulties lie within herself. Oh, fuck it to hell… Our problems, the women’s legacy of self-unworthiness, is a fuckin’ inside job. It’s not about money, colleagues, work, relationships with others, where we live, or anything but how we think. She said that she’d told her fiancĂ© that she wanted to leave, go somewhere else, but she couldn’t leave those who count on her. And besides, she’d be taking her problems with her because everything she was struggling with was in her thoughts, not in any situation.

I listened to her words like I have all her life – the wise old soul that she has always been – and the tiger within me laid back down. There was nothing “out there” to vanquish. By changing how we thought, by seeking peace within, we’d change our world. I already knew this, and she knew I already knew this, but hearing it again from a soul that I have infinite love for opened my heart even more. It’s not the stories of our pasts that make us who we are; it’s how we perceive those circumstances and allow them to form our beliefs and behavior.

What the stories have done for me is soften me about my feelings for my mother and my grandmother. I truly believe they did the best they could with what that had at the time. And what they had was pretty darn piss poor when it came to model examples of standing up for themselves. I don’t have to leave that as a legacy or even acknowledge it as what they’ve left for me. I too can change my perception and truly see them as they were – strong, beautiful women courageous in some of the toughest circumstances who not only survived, but they thrived. They loved. They created families who loved and respected them. They made a mark worthy of remembrance, because every single time they were knocked down they got back up. Every. Single. Time.

Now, that’s a legacy worth remembering.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I've discovered over and over again that I love sewing, stitching, quilting, fabric, and threads of all kinds so very much that I can't stick to one thing. I am destined to zigzag my way through the accumulation of beads, bangles, yarns, fibers, silks, cottons, knits, and wools and eventually come out of the heap better for the journey.

I'm "friends" on Facebook with a lot of fiber artists, seamstresses, and quilters who pretty much stick to either only making jackets, or certain kinds of garments or brooches, little purses... well, you get the idea. I look at their websites, their Etsy stores, and their Facebook pages and wonder how they do it. How do they keep making just one kind of garment or quilt or whatever?????? Not me. I am an explorer that travels from one continent to another without ever leaving home. You can't go anywhere that I've been in our house that doesn't trail tie-dyed threads or snippets of fabrics. I go from making purses to pillows to quilts to wall hangings to fabric jewelry to the latest -- voila! Fabric portrait!

 This is a gift I made for a dear friend who's birthday is today. He's published several books, and the writing to the left of his face is from the chapter that I was reading while working on this.

 Dan tie-dyed the embroidery floss that I used to seed-stitch his hair, and embellish the rest of his face. Dan also tie-dyed some of the fabrics, including the background piece and the binding on the edges.
The entire piece is done by hand except for machine sewing the binding on the front of it. I used a small colored photograph in a projector that blew up the image on the wall. Usually I work from black and white photos due to better determination of the values of the shading in the pictures, but this time I threw caution to the wind and sailed forward with the color depiction. I made it to my destination safely anyway.

(Also, I just finished reading a book that Ron loaned me about an exploration of Antarctica back in 1915 that has me on a roll with these exploration metaphors. Sorry... Great read though!)

So, what will I do next? Oh, something I'm just now finishing...
I've bound the edges of it, but still want to do more embellishments on it, so not ready to call it a done deal yet.
I'll keep you posted as the adventure continues...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Storytelling with Fabric

I've been a writer as soon as I could put words together, and my first sewing was done when I was seven. I haven't stopped doing either since. This time, however, I've added a bit of a twist. My stories are now "written" with fabric and thread. I've been reading and perusing a lot of children's books and am so enamored with their illustrations. Chris Rauscha is one of my favorite illustrators. Even though I'm looking at paper when reading these books, I can't help but see the illustrations in fabric. When I view artwork in galleries and exhibits I envision my favorites done in fabrics. I see the world in fabrics, as fabrics, and enhanced with threads. The threads create the personalities. Stitches give the elephant the eye in which to see his emotion. With thread stitched into the goose's body his feathers are formed, and he becomes mobile.
Stitch a bit of thread in fabrics shaped like rabbits and suddenly you get a vision of playfulness and friendly conversation on the top of a van and on the back of an elephant.
How regal is he hanging with the elephant!
He looks like he's ready to leap to his friend on the elephant.

The Traveling Circus still in progress...

I'm doing an online class teaching how to make your own creatures come to life with a sampling of my own patterns and techniques on making them uniquely yours. Check it out here. I'm putting together videos and tutorials to make creating creatures not only fun but easy to understand. And, if you love the tie-dye effect, let me know. I'm putting together bags of tie-dyed scraps and embroidery floss for sale, thanks to my fabulous partner, Dan Leo. Gotta keep him busy!