Daily Archives: November 22, 2011

heART Exchange Art Swap

My swap partner received her art, so now I can really talk about it. I said a little the other day, but here’s the whole story. To recap, I started off thinking I would do a painting, but didn’t end up having enough time. This led to trying to figure out something to do with fabric left over from making a square for Kelly’s quilt.

What could I make?  To be honest, I’m not that crafty or artistic. I am a writer. I like to color and make collages, silly drawings, and hand-made cards, and I have a good eye, a sense of what works and is pleasing, but I’m not really that good at producing. However, I can sew. I don’t have a sewing machine right now, so it would have to be hand-stitched. I remembered seeing craft projects based on Tibetan Prayer Flags, so looked around on the internet to see what I could find. I found a really fun website, Future Craft Collective, that had a project they called “hope wish prayer flags.” Yes, this was it.

Traditionally, prayer flags are intended to generate peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom, and come in sets of five. The flags do not carry prayers to gods (as is commonly believed), but rather the prayers or mantras printed on the flags are blown by the wind and in this way they spread good will and compassion into all of space, providing benefit to all beings.

I didn’t have pinking sheers, so couldn’t make the fun edge, would have to stitch it.  The fabric is so beautiful, I wanted my swap partner to be able to see it on both sides, so I decided for each flag that I would stitch two pieces of fabric together. I sewed up three of the edges, flipped them right-side out, and ironed them. It was then that I noticed the way I had sewn the first two pieces of fabric together turned each flag into a pocket. This made me imagine all the things you could put inside: prayers, promises, wishes, worries, dreams, treasures, secrets.

And when I thought about what to write on the front of each flag-pocket, I decided to use the Metta Prayer as my inspiration, “metta” meaning lovingkindness. This is a Buddhist prayer that can be said for yourself, others, or even the planet. This has been a powerful practice for me in my own life. There are many versions, but in general, it goes something like this:

May I be peaceful.
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I awaken to the light of my true nature.
May I be free.

In the last two steps of the Metta Prayer, one would first imagine a specific person or a group, wishing these things for them, starting with “May you be peaceful.” And then in the final step of the practice, one wishes the same list of things for all beings.

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.

The final step of my heART project was to sew ribbon on each flag-pocket. In this way, you can tie a single ribbon and hang a single flag-pocket on the wall or on the knob of a drawer or dresser.

Or, you can tie the five of them together and hang them like more traditional prayer flags.

I imagined that my art swap partner could write or whisper her worries, wishes, prayers, promises, secrets, and dreams into these flag-pockets, put them under her pillow when she sleeps, or slip it into the pages of a sacred book, or hang one or all of them where she can see them and remember, or put precious treasures inside, like a shell from the beach or a rock found on a walk or the key to her heart, and some sort of magic will happen.

Her worries will disappear and she will be safe.

Her wishes will come true and she will be happy.

Her prayers will be answered and she will be well.

Her promises will be kept and she will be peaceful.

Her secrets will be kept and she will be free.

Her dreams will come true and she will awaken to the light of her true nature.

As I mentioned the other day, it was really nice to be working on a sweet, handmade art project for someone else in the days leading up to my birthday, and oddly, it felt like I was doing it for me too: pouring all this care and lovingkindness into a creation that I blessed and let go, sent into the universe to love someone else. I think this is at the heart (the heART) of why I am an artist: to learn to love and be myself, and then send that love into the world, hoping it lands with whoever needs it most.

The Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop is Coming to Fort Collins, Colorado!!!

I’ve talked about this a little, but now that registration is open, I can talk about it a lot! I admit that the whole thing started because I wanted Rachel W. Cole to come to Colorado for ME, and while that’s still true, this event has the potential to spread so much good to so many women, and I am so excited to be able to help it happen.

Here’s how Rachel introduces the Mini-Retreatshop:

What are you TRULY hungry for? Do you know?

Perhaps you are hungry to express your creativity? Maybe you are hungry for the courage to follow a calling? Or to turn down the volume on your inner critic? Or to know you are enough? Maybe you’re simply hungry for carbs or, more generally, to feel at peace with food? Perhaps your hunger is for a job that pays you what you’re worth? Or it may well be for intimacy the satisfies your body, mind, and spirit?

Join me for this inspiring and transformative 3-hour Mini-Retreatshop to explore how you, as women, can feed your truest hungers and in turn live your fullest life.

Rachel says of herself:

I’m a certified life coach, retreat hostess, instigator of ease, and hunger-satisfier. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve spent years steeped in the vibrant Bay Area food community while earning my MA in Holistic Health Education. I’m on a mission to guide women towards understanding and feeding their truest hungers. I have nearly 10 years of experience planning and hosting meaningful events on a range of topics and for groups both big and small. Through all my varied endeavors, I strive to be an inspiration for each of us to feast on our lives.

Read more about the “The Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop Tour” and register for the Fort Collins, Colorado date: February 19th, 12:30-3:30 pm.

Three Truths and One Wish

Truth: Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food. I am guilty of shoveling it in so fast I barely taste it, eating so much that I don’t feel anything but numb–but that’s not what it’s about. It is about being grateful for what you’ve been given, for what you have, saying thank you. Instead of being greedy or grasping or hoarding, honor your good luck and then let it go, share it, give it away. As for what you keep, love it and use it. Say thank you.

Try something like this before you eat your big meal on Thanksgiving Day, “Blessings on our food and all that made it possible: the rain, the sun, the people who grew it, brought it here and prepared it,” (from Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth).  Here’s another nice one, a modification of something from the Anglican Church of Canada, “For food in a world where many walk in hunger. For friends in a world where many walk alone. For faith in a world where many walk in fear. We give thanks.” Or, here’s one I’ve heard at Buddhist meditation retreats, “We receive this food in gratitude to all beings who have helped to bring it to our table, and vow to respond in turn to those in need with wisdom and compassion.” Say Grace. Or, if that doesn’t feel right for you, at least say “thank you.”

Truth: Christmas isn’t just about the presents. This is difficult to see right now, what with all the advertising about Black Friday. And yet, most of us don’t really need anymore stuff, as kindly and lovingly as it might be offered. As for the gifts we give, we need to question our motives, more insistently and often than we do. Is the gift a substitute for our time, our kindness, our presence, our open-heart? Am I trying to earn love and appreciation? And why now, exactly? Because I think I am supposed to?

Instead of Black Friday and shopping and the list of everything we think we are supposed to do, think about this: “Here’s to a refrigerator full of food. Here’s to the electricity that runs that refrigerator. Here’s to clean water being a flick of the faucet away. Here’s to going to bed tonight with a roof over my head (and without the fear of a bomb crashing through it). Here’s to the knowledge that when I dial 911 an ambulance will come get me, not a man with a wheelbarrow…And here’s to remembering those of us who aren’t so lucky. And to do our part to share our good fortune in whatever ways we can,” (from “The Thanksgiving Project – Giving Thanks for the Big Things” by Josh Martin).

You know what my favorite thing about Christmas was as a kid? It wasn’t the presents, even though it felt like they were really important. It was turning the tree lights on when it was dark outside and turning off all the other lights, and putting on Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” album, and cuddling with my mom on the couch. Not the presents. Not even close.

Truth: This is the season of rest, gratitude, generosity, love, and joy. It is supposed to be simple, although we have complicated it with all of our expectations and demands. This year, instead: Do less, love more. Buy less, give more. Bark less, wag more. Stop doing so much and just be. Read Courtney Putnam’s latest blog post, “Doing and Being.” It will help.

I wish for all beings a season of abundance and appreciation–not the kind you can buy at the store or order online, but rather real, honest, and open-hearted.

  • What are you wishing for this season?