Category Archives: heART Exchange

Instructions for Living a Life

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
~Mary Oliver

This morning, walking the dogs with Eric, I saw: a huge tree that’s been dead for a long time finally fell down (and it was big enough that it certainly went “boom” when it did), a dead beaver carcass, two white tailed deer, one whose tail wasn’t quite working so it might be hurt, one massive turtle still looking for a spot to lay her eggs walking like a tiny dinosaur through the grass by the creek between Wood Duck Pond and the McMurray Ponds (same exact date we saw her last year, so May 31st is now officially Turtle Day), two mini Herons, one of which looked more like a Penguin as he stood on a log fishing (turns out they are actually called a Black Crowned Night Heron), one large Blue Heron in flight over the river that later was heard squawking and flying in the other direction, and finally, a bicycle parade.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Black Crowned Night Heron

I received gifts: access to workshops with amazing women at the World Domination Summit in July (yoga with Marianne Elliott, Writing with Susannah Conway, Book Content Mapping with Cynthia Morris, and Identifying Superpowers with Andrea Scher…holy wow, such amazing women that I so adore, my head/heart might explode), my Kickstarter reward from Danielle Ate the Sandwich arrived, along with her new album, which is every bit as good as I knew it would be, and I found a heart-shaped rock on our walk.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

I gave gifts: some were shared words of wisdom and kindness, others were scholarships for Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project Practitioner level, and finally there was my heART exchange project, which I finally finished and mailed to Australia today. I plan to write a post about the process (I didn’t just make something, I learned stuff) once my swap partner receives it.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

heART exchange project sneak peek

Tribe: it’s Tribe week in my Unravelling ecourse with Susannah Conway, so I’ve been thinking a lot about that, how we can be a tribe of one even. I spent a little bit of time being a tribe of one, writing and eating lunch while waiting for a friend to arrive so we could be a tribe of two and have a long talk about perfection, art, boundaries, dogs and trust. Then, I spent part of the afternoon having another long talk with another good friend, drinking mango lemonade and eating a blue flower cookie as big as my head. I have amazing women in my life, in my tribe.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Yay Turkey, Split Pea Soup, Root Beer, and a notebook at Red Table.

I’ve had moments of being wholehearted, with myself and others in my tribe. These two quotes from Anne Lamott remind me how wonderful and difficult that is: “The love and good and the wild and the peace and creation that are you will reveal themselves, but it is harder when they have to catch up to you in roadrunner mode” and “We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” I am reminded to slow down, stop doing so much and be.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. This tshirt. I just bought it and a few others from Cafe Press, (on sale, plus an additional 35% off, I am my mother’s daughter and love a good deal). I love this shirt because it makes me smile and because it’s true.

2. Resting and Play. Sleeping in, napping, sitting in the backyard reading a book, long walks, yoga class, meditation, writing, thinking, making art, having conversations, staring at the trees, closing my eyes and breathing, even cleaning: all these things restore, renew, rejuvenate, give me energy and stillness, a sense of space. Instead of constantly counting the days, marking time, being acutely aware of the ticking of the clock, I can simply be present in my life, with myself, in a state of wholeness and enough.

3. Buds and Blooms. I am enjoying so much the explosion of green and blossom that Spring brings. I’ve even been enjoying the rain that’s feeding it, (*gasp* I know, right? Me, enjoy rain? Weird…). My yoga teacher gave me three new plants from her garden–salvia, feverfew, and phlox, (last year she gave me lilies and white irises)–so I was weeding my front flowerbed the other day, making room for them, in the rain, planting them in the mud, getting so dirty and wet, but loving it. I truly do have farming in my DNA. While I was working, I was amazed at all the life happening in that tiny patch of dirt, a short and thin strip of dirt between our driveway and the neighbor’s lawn, bugs and insects and even a fat little toad.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things with us. ~ Iris Murdoch

4. Amazing Women. I am lucky enough to have many of these directly in my life, in my community. But there are also so many others who I can look to for inspiration and support, online and in text. I am so lucky to live in a time when print and the internet are easily accessible to me. The richness, the brilliance and preciousness of books, blogs, websites, flickr and instagram, tweets, tv shows and films, ecourses and workshops. Artists, mentors, and healers who model what it means to live a wholehearted life.

5. Lazy, Unscheduled Time with Eric. During the academic year, we are both so busy, so it’s nice to have this time together, to be able to barbeque for lunch, go for long walks, take naps, hang out in the backyard for hours, talking and reading and making each other laugh. He really is my favorite.

6. HeART Exchange Art Swap Project. I did this the first round with the openhearted and talented Lindsay, and it felt like I didn’t just get a wonderful piece of art, but I gained a new friend. I wasn’t sure I’d do it again, but at the last minute, I decided to dive in. Before I got my art swap partner info, I had been planning to try to do a painting, following the techniques from Flora Bowley’s new book, Brave Intuitive Painting: let go. be bold. unfold. Well, I got my partner’s info…and she’s a painter who has taken an in person workshop with Flora! *gulp* I will not be painting for her. But, out of that surprise came an even better idea (I think), one that could be the start of a series of projects. I’ll share as soon as the swap has happened.

P.S. I just found the note I wrote to myself about this: “Uh-oh, she’s a painter. Would she really want my very first attempt at a Flora style painting, when she’s taken a workshop directly from her? Blergh…what to do now? Cross stitch?” So funny…

Bonus Joy: I can hardly believe it, but this is my 300th blog post! I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating–after so many years of writer’s block, this blog has been such a gift. Thank you, kind and gentle reader, for coming here to visit, to witness, to listen, to support me. You could never know how much I appreciate it. Big gratitude!

Something Good.

I woke up this morning knowing I had a few links for today’s post, but not sure what else I might include. I did some brainstorming when I was writing my morning pages, but nothing seemed to really spark. I worried this post would be sort of “bleh.”

And then I turned on my computer, checked my email and logged into facebook, and the Universe sent me so many good things I could share, so many, I had to stop reading my email, stop looking because the list was getting w a y too long. When this happens, I wonder why it is that I don’t trust it, how I could possibly have so little faith in the magic that happens if you invite it, if you show up and allow it to happen? Silly human…

“30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself”

I posted yesterday about a list from “Marc and Angel Hack Life” called “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.” Today, they posted this follow up, beginning with the quote “Remember today, for it is the beginning. Today marks the start of a brave new future.” I like the list, and I love that quote, because it’s a reminder that we can always make a fresh start, a new beginning.

Photo by Steven Depolo

“The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain

I am reading this book for my book club, and I can’t tell you yet if it will be good as a whole (I am only on page 22), but I am so far loving the language, especially the way the main character describes the feeling of meeting and getting to know the person she will love. For example, after their first kiss, she says “I couldn’t think about whether anyone had seen us. I couldn’t think about anything at all. His face was inches from mine, more charged and convincing and altogether awake than anything I’d ever seen.”

“The Man Who Dies With The Most Stuff” by Kristin Glenn

This is a guest post written for The Minimalists. There is one section that really resonated with me, verbalized why I have been attracted to the notion of a simple, minimalist life for the past 20 years.

With eyes wide, I realized my selfishness. For wanting, and wanting, and wanting. And never, ever, thinking about the impact that my want had on the rest of the world.

Generally, people turn to a minimalist lifestyle to make their day-to-day existence easier. To save money, to save time, to focus on what’s truly important. These reasons are admirable—they allow us to find meaning beyond our jeans and gadgets.

But my travels abroad turned me onto minimalism for a different reason. I slowly saw the impact of my consumption taking a toll on the environment, and on others. It became a personal thing. And I realized that minimalism isn’t just a lifestyle decision, but a chance to save humanity.

That’s a pretty bold statement: minimalism will save humanity. But over the following year, I became more convinced of the power that lifestyle choices have on changing the world.

My time abroad changed my perspective—not only on what it means to live with less, but to live. To live is to make choices, day in and day out.

“The Disintegration Loop” by William Basinski

From the user who posted the video to YouTube:

During the summer of 2001, Basinski set about transferring a series of 20-year-old tape loops he’d had in storage to a digital file format, and was startled when this act of preservation began to devour the tapes he was saving. As they played, flakes of magnetic material were scraped away by the reader head, wiping out portions of the music and changing the character and sound of the loops as they progressed, the recording process playing an inadvertent witness to the destruction of Basinski’s old music…the loops themselves are stunning, ethereal studies in sound so fluid that the listener scarcely registers the fact that it’s nothing but many hundreds of repetitions of a brief, simple loop that they’re hearing.

It really is like music from a dream, and the way it happened was some kind of tragic magic.

The Dream I Had Last Night

I had a dream last night that people where “evolving” into rosebushes. All of us in the dream knew it was coming, and wondering what our lives would be like as flowering plants. The alarm went off before I could find out, but I posted to my heART swap partner‘s dream art facebook page, and she (who works with dreams and dreamers) was able to give me the most wonderful interpretation. Lindsay said,

If it was my dream, I recognize unknown people as unknown parts of my own personality, evolving into rosebushes could mean that my shadow sides are transforming into beautiful flowers. With my feet planted in the ground, I know I have a deep connection with the earth, yet I know I am able to open my flowers and show my beauty to the world.

“Change for a Dollar” short film

This video is proof that it isn’t necessary to have a lot to give a lot. If you are like me and cry during Hallmark commercials, grab a few tissues and hit “play.”

This Quote

“We are so accustomed to disguising our true nature from others, that we end up disguising it from ourselves.” ~La Rochefoucauld

“A Father Who Creatively Captures His Kids (20 photos)”

These little girls and these pictures make me smile. If you need a pick-me-up, go view his Flickr photo stream, or go to their blog, “kristin and kayla: a photo journal of two sisters.” I’d share one here, but he’s a photographer and his work is copyrighted, but trust me, you won’t be sorry you looked. It’s a super duper, heaping, massive dose of cuteness.

1000 Lives in 100 Words.

This project is really cool. The author of the project describes it this way “1000 Lives In 100 Words is here to remind us that our lives are important. It’s here to remind us that it’s not the years in your life; it’s the life in your years. Because we’ll all end up as 100 words someday. So let’s make each one count.” The first one, as I look at it this morning, is written by Nicole, who says:

Your direction in life doesn’t matter. What matters is staying true to your self. Do this, and the direction takes care of itself. New roads appear, the right people appear, books fall off the shelf for you and the right lessons show up. Art and spirituality run on parallel tracks. They go hand in hand, and when they run at the same pace synchronicity happens. My art is writing and my real work is finding joy in everyday things; things taken for granted or overlooked. From flying squirrels to paper airplanes, nothing is out of the realm of my pen.

Color me inspired.


Fortune in my Cookie.

Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself.” I immediately taped it to my computer screen.

Superhero Jr. Dancing the Nutcracker

Andrea Scher, of Superhero Journal, posted this video of her son Ben yesterday, dancing along with a performance of the Nutcracker. This kind of honesty and joy is my holiday wish, for all of us.

Nutcracker Ben from andrea scher on Vimeo.

  • Anything you want to add to the list this week?

Something Good

It’s Monday, so here’s a list of things that are good:

heART Exchange

This is such a great project, and the gift you make and receive seem to keep on giving, and giving, sending out ripples of joy, waves of love. If you are an artist, you need to watch this website and get in on the next art swap.

Cyber Giving Monday

I first heard about this from 365 Give. I love having even more opportunities to make a positive impact on the existence of another being, so I am in. This morning, in honor of my dear friend Kelly, who was an avid gardener, I donated a “Gardener’s Basket: This basket represents everything a family will need to start a sustainable farm – tree seedlings, rabbits to generate organic manure, chickens to eat pests and a hive of bees to pollinate crops and increase yields” through one of my favorite charities, Heifer International.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – Dell Big Crow Holiday Gift Project

I can’t say enough about how great this project is. Recently ABC News and Diane Sawyer did a Special 20/20 Edition on Pine Ridge called, “Hidden America: Children of the Plains.” I dare you to watch even just the first ten minutes and not want to email Christine or Julie immediately for names of tribe members to send gifts to. If I had the money, the first ten minutes of the episode would have had me rounding up supplies and a crew of people who knew how to do stuff to go down there and fix peoples’ houses, and then I’d start scholarship funds for every kid, make repairs to the schools, make sure every kid has enough to eat, every day. But I don’t have that kind of money, so I need you to help, starting with this one project. It is not right that in a country where, even with the poor economy, so many have so much and these people have so little. You can say what you want about grown ups, but no child ever did anything to deserve to grow up in such poverty.

Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

This book has been a real help to me.  For example, “When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself — that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control,” (82-83).

Morgan Spurlock’s New Project, “The Failure Club.”

I first read about this project on A Year of Living Wisely. Here’s an article about the project, “Morgan Spurlock Launches ‘Failure Club’.” In the trailer for the show, “Welcome to Failure Club,” he says “We’ve all been told for so long in our lives the things we should be doing that most of us don’t ever do the things that we want to be doing. And the minute you break down that one little piece that’s holding you back, your whole outlook on the world will change.” Amen!

The Moth: True Stories Told Live

We listen to this on satellite radio, but there are also some stories you can listen to online. I love this show almost as much as I love This American Life.

Cardboard People

Since this week’s list has been more serious, maybe even a bit preachy, here’s something fun. Anton Tang, a talented artist and blogger from Singapore, photographs plastic “cardboard people” in everyday settings and environments.

heART Exchange Art Project Arrived!

I’ve blogged about this before: I took part in an art swap, the Global heART Exchange.  Today, I received my art piece from Lindsay in the mail, all the way from Belgium. She describes herself on her blog as a “Mixed Media Artist, Photographer, Writer, and Dream Worker.”  Here’s the postcard she made to send with her painting:

I am exactly twice Lindsay’s age and we live more than 5000 miles apart (8100 kilometers), but when I read the “about” page on her blog, I notice how much we have in common. We both love “Nature.. nature.. nature!” and adore cats and rabbits, watching the stars, lying in the grass, summer evenings, birds singing, the water, spirituality, meditation, yoga, and the potential of dreams.

We also both like “inspiring people, people who are kind, people who truly dare to live their lives.”  I believe that both of us are those kind of people: inspiring, kind, and daring to live our lives.

What’s amazing to me is that she couldn’t have known the color of my art studio, and yet the mixed media painting she made matches it perfectly.  Here’s a picture of it, sitting on the corner of my writing desk, where I spend so many long and happy hours.

It’s almost 1 am in Belgium, and I suspect Lindsay is sleeping.  I am sending her love and gratitude, and wishing her the sweetest of dreams.  I will keep her painting on my desk, and when I took at it, I will remember that I am loved, and wish her the same.