Today was great.
It was Henry Hollis' second birthday.
We both went to school. I had art centers because it is the week before spring break and the last week of the third nine weeks.
I picked up relay foods grocery. I made salad with grilled salmon.
Henry played and fed the chickens. He drove his new truck around.
I took his photograph.
We took a walk to try and see deer. I took more photos.
I realized that photography is also a medium I love.
I do not love the tech side. I don't usually love the editing, either but if it was edited for a story, I like that.
I've been gearing up to publish some photo essays on medium.com and also through blurb to sell on amazon.
But tonight things got fun. I want to publish images of sacred spaces. Also, wabi sabi, hygge, konmari, meditation, art making, musicians, dancers, laughter, jumping, surfing, kayaking, swimming, sleeping.
I am an experimental photographer.
I don't stage things, I just arrange myself.
I do tidy up but I also show the before, too. The real, the vulnerable, the honest.
Not quite photo journalism but mostly just slice of life storytelling seeking to capture moments of awe.
Every moment is a moment of awe.
Existence is awe. Life is awe. Now is awe.
Happy birthday Henry Hollis!
I love you outside of time.
Time isn't holding us.
Thursday morning, thunder and lightning greeted us for breakfast, shawn the sheep snuggle couch time, pay bills, make grocery lists, make party plans, laundry, tidy, internet time.
"What you seek is seeking you." -Rumi
Seek love. Seek joy. Seek open space. Seek adventure. Seek empty calendars.
Thursday will be my day for gratitude. I read a lot about happiness a few years back and I'm always seeking ways to boost it in my life and the lives around me. One proven way to make yourself happier is to express gratitude.
This week, I wrote a message to a clothing company based in LA called Everlane. They have a philosophy of radical transparancy. I saw something about that in Instagram and so I visited their site to read about it.
Basically, in a nut shell, they are an honest company. I respect that so much in our world so I told them so.
I am also learning more about capsule wardrobes and as I upgrade my current clothing or as it wears out, I hope to replace with mindful decisions about my next purchase. So, I let the Everlane folks know that, too.
Saying thank you isn't hard but behind the brands and companies are a whole lot of people. Human beings like you and me. Everyone that I know appreciates bring appreciated.
The magic is real. Everlane replied with a fabulous note saying that they would like to send me some clothing in response to my simple act of gratitude.
Another amazing thing that has happened from expressed gratitude is that I received an email from a local blog, RVANews, to write a piece about my konmari experience for the end of April as a freelance writer.
I like that word, freelance.
I like what is happening in my life. I like being honest and open and letting go.
I like saying thank you!
Bonnie and I are commiting to write thank you notes each week. I want to expand this into a participatory project soon.
So, Thursdays are admin and thank yous from now on.
It's early morning Wednesday. I'm still in bed, reading fascinating articles about brain science, spirituality, meditation and perceptions of reality before shower, coffee, morning routines and work.
It's coming up on Spring break and summer time and that means thinking about what could happen and what I would like to have happen during that free time.
Charleston, chapel hill, Charlotte, West Virginia, Austin, beach, Philly, lakes, rivers, oceans.
I just read an article about planning and the brain. I am a list making, non planner.
I like to think about, and make lists, for the fun ahead but the details of making the fun happen aren't concerning to me.
Go to the beach. That's all. An intention and a dream. Have I booked a beach house? Nope.
Is it foolish to leave so much open ended or is the non plan a way more mindful path through a life.
It has been overwhelming to me to have strict itineraries and plans set for me in the past. I thrive within open ended experiences. The open road is a dream for me.
We are planning a ladies southern roadtrip and I'm popping in for a little bit of it. Dollywood and Asheville river time but that's all I know and that is comforting to me.
I like to plan food the week of or day of a gathering or have a tradition of expectation like Memorial Day = Low country boil.
Lately, in all this reflection on self, I've come to see that I do best where there is an established routine, rituals of fun and lots of friends. Like summer camp and I flounder when I have open time and lots of un-fun tasks to complete.
I love an empty calendar.
Seek empty time. Don't fill it up. See what your heart says it wants there.
Go to the woods, take a different path, allow space for the unexpected.
Use what is already in your life to make happiness grow. It doesn't take much.
It is Monday night, its late, getting later. I am listening to my husband snoring and my baby coughing and I am determined to write tonight before I go listen to the noises of my family as I drift to sleep in a few.
Its chilly in this studio but comfy. I still have things to go through and there are things that don't have the right homes. The konmari process is still happening and I'm still loving it. I feel so different. i feel like every single thing she said in her book has rung true for me.
On Mondays I want to try and share a little bit of what is helping me to become more mindful in my day to day life. I have been working on building routines and rituals into the flow of my life so that I can find spaces to meditate throughout the day. I know that we miss out on stillness when we aren't able to keep up with the pace of life.
My kitchen is clean and tidy and so is every other shared space in this home. It is creating a sense of calm within that I have never known.
One of the new routines is grocvery pick up through Relay foods. It is literally on my way home, after school, at my school. I pulled up the car and talked to a lovely gal who handed me three big bags of groceries and I was off, headed home two minutes later. This new routine is going to change my world. If YOU want to try Relay Foods, use this link for a $30 coupon!!!
I will eventually share my routines as I finalize them and maybe even create a little downloadable list for others wanting to create some empty space as well.
Also on Mondays, I hope to have a lil' recap of the stuff that I have been reading, thinking about and wanting to share so this is that.
Today I fell into a rabbit hole of the internet, which I love to do, and followed a link posted about a design group, IDEO, coming up with joyful solutions for the things in our lives that are hard for us, like mondays. So, a team there created MonYAY! I am loving the whole project and prototypes. So fun and so inspiring.
I am curious to understand the design process and especially the process that David Kelley teaches and uses with folks to restore creative confidence. As a teacher, this is my heart. I think I found a kindred in this guy!
Something that I have decided over the past few weeks is to just simply contact the people, organizations, artists, companies, poets, writers, explorers and dreamers that have impacted me and just say thanks to them. Maybe even collaborate with them. I will do this in any way I can. I will write letters, I will tweet, I will email, I will fill out comment cards. You are going to get a thank you from me, yes sir.
Say it now. Do it now. Now is all.
Here are some of the cool people I've found in the world this week and have already shared my adoration or will be sharing it soon:
- Everlane/ Radical Transparancy
- Levi's/ Waterless
- MonYAYs + IDEO + David Kelley
- El Deafo
- No Regrets Parenting
- Green Air Diffusers
- Relay Foods
- Garden Grove Brewing Company
May all your Mondays be MonYAYs!
Bonnie has been my friend since the Fall of 2003. We both took Dr. Taylor's secondary methods in art education course at UGA in Athens. It was my first semester in graduate school and I felt so much that I was in the right place there.
Bonnie was then and is still always so perfectly put together. I remember thinking how much I admired her ability to be organized and prepared for class. I am not the greatest student. I am inconsistent. She is not. It is one of the things that I love about her and what I think drew me to her in the first place. She is consistent, loyal and steady as a teacher, a student and as a person.
Her lessons were always great. It's pretty amazing to train to teach alongside great people who push you to be better because they are doing their best. That's how it has been for me with Bonnie. She makes me want to do better and be better.
She is still teaching and making art. She works with the Mural Arts program in Philadelphia and makes fabulous printed things for the home through her company, Bonnie Kaye Studio.
Back at UGA in 2003, in the fine arts building mac lab, I passed around a note about a month or so into the semester, probably in October, asking who wanted to be in a girls club with me. Lots of girls wrote down their names and emails. So, I organized a little group of gal pals. We would eat sushi and drink. We sometimes would dance. We started to do potluck meals and plan weekend hangouts.
I was 24 years old and had been in a serious relationship for a year and a half and so, I needed girlfriends in Georgia. I found them.
The girls club mostly ended with graduations, jobs, relocations and just normal people moving on but a few of us remain connected and in close contact still.
Bonnie and I are together several times each year. We have been on trips together, to weddings of friends, she peeked in the windows of our house before we officially bought it. She came down to Richmond just a few weeks after Henry was born. We have partied, laughed, cried, talked into the night. My sister even lived with her in Brooklyn for a while back in 2008 and they became fast friends. We have become friends with each others friends.
Bonnie is a true beauty, a talented designer and artist. And her tenacity for loving is unmatched. She has shown me that marriage can be what you want it to be. She has shown me so much loyalty and given so much time and energy into keeping our friendship what it is.
I can be myself with her. She can be herself with me.
I could write so much more about our shared history but I am mostly excited about the possibilities in our shared future. Ladies road trips, visits to Philly, creative collaborations, mutual southern love, cooking, laughing and sharing life.
She and her husband, Benji, are heading down this weekend for a little visit and I can't even wait to start laughing until my face hurts.
Its Wednesday night and its not too, too late. We watched one of the last episodes of Carnivale but then HH woke up and needed some help getting back to sleep. It's started to lose traction with us a few episodes ago but we are this far in, we may as well see how it all ends. I was disappointed to see there was season three on Amazon Prime. That's when I know I need to just stop watching.
Wednesday is going to be tales of travels and exploration. It will be stories of explorers. I am drawn to explorers, researchers and those who seek wisdom, knowledge, understanding and people who try new stuff.
I just clicked on a link to "Earth Porn" and realized that I have seen so little of this Earth but my heart wants more sometimes. I want to know places, the smells of them and the tastes of them. I want to explore and see and tell about it all.
I also have a pull to stay put, a root system that I have built and put down for a long time now. I feel very grounded these days, way more than I used to. I used to feel homesick all the time for nowhere. I didn't know what or where I was looking for.
I chalked it up to my Dad being adopted and for the mystery of that. Although much of this was revealed a few years back in a beautiful story of reconnection for my Dad and his half sisters and brothers. We still don't know who his biological father is.
During this discovery of his long lost family in 2009, I also found myself in love with Richmond, falling more and more in love with my now husband and moving back toward a return to teaching art to kids.
Since then, I have been truly in love with Richmond, Virginia.
I cannot think of one other place that would be the place for me to be. I would make my life other places, sure, but not if I don't have to. I am very happy here.
This is my place.
So, Wednesday may turn itself into a love affair with Richmond rather than a love affair with the rest of the places in the World. Hopefully, a little bit of both.
When I imagine the perfect life for me right now it is pretty much what I'm already doing. Add in an RV for summer road trips with my boys and maybe some books finished and out in the world and I can't imagine anything better.
I imagine a lot of time together and time alone. Free time, empty space on the calendar. For adventures, for the unexpected, for the whim.
Tonight I made a grid of my weekly schedule, blocked into categories of activities. I estimated the time spent sleeping, eating, driving, showering, cooking, doing dishes, running errands, watching TV, exercising, caring for the baby and on and on.
The konmari goal is to continue to remove the things in my time that are taking up space and in their place, more openness. More free time and blank spaces on that calendar for the things that truly bring me joy and life.
Time with my family, outside, time making art, teaching art, dancing, singing, playing music, listening to music, yoga, cooking, entertaining, being on the water, laughing, reading, writing.
I don't enjoy running errands and although tidying is actually almost enjoyable now, I have not, in the past, enjoyed cleaning up my house. So, those areas are getting slashed. I don't mind weekend trips but I really like to be in Richmond, at home.
In the future I can't quite imagine clearly, there is a tropical island waiting for me. I feel it with my whole self and I always have. Richmond isn't finished with me and I'm not through yet, either.
It is Tuesday afternoon and I just straightened up my classroom after we watched Jack and the Beanstalk. The kids love those plays when they are here. I have been thinking of taking Henry Hollis to an Eric Carle play but maybe its too much for a two year old. We'll see. He sho' does loves him some shows on the TV so I know he can pay attention for extended times.
Anyhow, its Tuesday and on Tuesday, I am going to be talking teaching each weekish.
I have had a website during my time at Holton where I documented my inspiration, shared lessons, photos, projects, contests and anything else Holton art room related. I also keep some of the children's art online at artsonia.com where parents can purchase items as a fundraiser for our program.
My goal over the next few weeks is to move the content, at least some of it, over here and to also create some yearbooks of my teaching for use by other art teachers and educators.
As it is with all areas of my life, I am in search of a more mindful way to approach my own practices as an educator. I think that I am a pretty good teacher, I certainly love what I do. I think that my school is a great place. I love the community. I teach with great colleagues. The children are delightful, for the most part.
***Now it is 8:30pm and I have meditated. I decided to try to get it in on my work days too, I just have to do it just like naptime. Go meditate as soon as he is asleep and I am free for a while.
Back to teaching:
I believe in what I do. I am living my dream.
I see myself now as a teacher-artist-researcher-poet-musician-friend- home cook-mom-wife-human being type.
So, I am moving all operations over here. No more thinking about a million little websites. I love social media, I'll keep that up the way I always had.
I see this site as part of my art. My artist and life journal. Not a blog. Can we change the word blog?
So, my life as art is my teaching life, too.
Canoe Studio will be the teaching arm of my existence online and it will be where i post events and workshops for my students at Holton and new workshops yet to be thought of! I'm excited!
Do Good Art Workshops
We make art that makes the world a better place. We make art that celebrates life. We make art in the moment, about the moment. We make art that decays, and disappears. We create art in the wind.
Who is this version of myself? Emerging like a mofo.
This weekend has been so wonderful. It is sunny outside, Sunday afternoon. I have tidied the house, except for the kitchen, I am getting laundry done, my to-do list is getting smaller. I had time to meditate today. I am excited for a work week beginning tomorrow.
My friend, Erin has been here since Wednesday night. I miss seeing her in my day to day life very much. My son has attached himself to her. I am also very attached. We had such a good visit. We ate at Cielito Lindo, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Richmond. Erin and I used to go there at least once a week when we lived just up the street as neighbors.
They know us there, its like our Cheers.
We had dinner at friends and then a potluck dinner at our house. I am a potluck gal. I love trying other people's food and seeing what the meal will turn out to be is a surprise. I love having good people in my home. Last night, I had a friend say that you could tell that my soup was made with love, and it was!
We spent Saturday morning taking trash out of Reedy Creek, another neighborhood spot that we frequented with our dogs. When Rick and I met, he lived a block or so from Forest Hill Park and we would walk up and down Reedy Creek with Emma June and let her run around where the lake is now. It had been totally overgrown and we really loved it down there. It felt like the secret garden or going back in time.
I love it there still. South of the James in Richmond is a great place to live, especially for river folk. Erin kayaked every day she was here and we all remembered our friend, John Wilburn.
It was chilly yesterday so I decided to make a Kale, white bean, sausage and butternut squash soup that I have made several times before and then try a new recipe for a casserole. I found a Broccoli and Rice dish that looked easy enough and it turned out to be a big hit with the friends. Lots of folks asked for a recipe and so, here it is:
One of the projects that I am excited to begin, post-konmari, is my notecard recipe potluck cookbook project. Basically, I want to collect handwritten recipes from all sorts of people, (friends, family, musicians, artists, writers, actors, great thinkers) and then make some of them and document the process a bit and when I have enough to make a book, I will create a photo book that will be downloadable as an e-book or printed through Blurb.com and amazon and maybe eventually published elsewhere.
I'm very excited to start these participatory projects that I know I should be doing as an artist.
If you would like to participate in the first edition of the notecard recipe potluck cookbook, please submit your notecard recipe either through mail (PO Box coming soon!) or on instagram with #notecardrecipepotluckcookbook and any notes we need to know to make the dish. I really love recipes with a story or a memory attached and it's gotta be in your handwriting. The human element is huge. Please include your name and contact info so that I can let you know when the book is ready!
So, I am getting myself together today. Its Thursday afternoon, naptime. The nap today is running long, which is great. The sun is shining through the windows in the den. The dogs are sleeping around me on the floor and I am staring at a pile of crumpled papers that are heading into the trash. I was listening to shovels and rope again then sturgill simpson came on next, which made me smile.
I am finding nooks and crannies of time to do the things that I need to make time for. I need a routine for my bills, mailing, emails, projects to happen in. I need my own little life planning period of the day, like at school and camp. I need behind the scenes time. So, since Thursday is my first day home after my part time working life, I will handle my business at this time each week. Today was probably the hardest it'll be because I had to force myself into the groove of admin.
I worked at VCU for four years as the Administrative Director and it was very difficult for me to fit myself into that role. I was constantly seeking projects outside of my job description to try and keep myself satiated with inspiration. The first week I was on the job, I had to close my office door and cry as quietly as I could. I had left North Carolina, a beautiful light filled classroom in a middle school in downtown Raleigh that I had just started teaching at to come and live my dream at the University level. Obviously now I am so glad that my life morphed itself into what it is now but at that moment, realizing what an Administrative Director really was, I was utterly sad.
Paperwork has been my nemesis. I am the worst at diligent and routine checks on the financial situation of my world. It's the life stressor that I feel/ fear the most. Luckily, I am married to a very diligent and routine man who balances out my inconsistencies. We do have some issues about it and konmari is definitely helping.
When I started the konmari process two months ago, I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled about the papers rule she expounded. Throw them away! Only keep the ones you have to deal with or keep indefinitely. Make these accessible and all located in one spot. Simplify, streamline and discard.
In recent months, Rick and I have both eliminated our iPhone contracts with Verizon and just this week, we also cancelled fios through verizon and are switching to another provider. It feels so good to let go of this abusive relationship with a company that I didn't feel wanted to help me. Truth is, we don't need internet. We don't need phones. We don't need tv shows. It helps us to be an active part of the culture, which I like but I don't need it. Its good to keep that perspective on all the things. Its a want, not a need.
Convenience and technology at our fingertips has created in many of us an ache for the immediate and when things are moving slowly we lose our minds. Standing in line is so hard for me that I wonder if I have a major problem with stillness. So, I contemplate these things now. I am seeking a slower pace. I am seeking less distraction. I am seeking a more simple way. I am seeking balance.
I saw a piece on a morning TV show, it think, a few years ago, with a woman who lost her husband in 2009 in a sudden biking accident and she found herself unprepared to deal with this loss, administratively first. So, she made a website for all of us to get our collective shit together. She wanted to use her misfortune and loss in a constructive way and a positive way. So, each Thursday, until it is done, I will diligently work through the checklist available on the website.
I am also working to create our weekly/ monthly grocery lists through relay foods, a Richmond based company with pick up grocery service. My new pal and fellow Kiss Me James member, Rachel, has started working with them and I think that this will be a great resource in my crusade for fresh, local food every day for the students in our schools. If you click this link and order your own foodstuffs, we both get $30 off our order!
Coming up after the checklist completion, my capsule wardrobe and a capsule toydrobe for Henry Hollis, not quite 2 year old.
Simplify! Simplify! Simplify! - Thoreau
One more thing to mention, I have started meditating a few times a week for about 10 to 15 minutes a day. Here are the links for the guided meditations that I have been using:
Mindfulness Meditation based on the work of Dr. John Kabat- Zinn