Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Now-one little word for 2013

Isn't that what it is really all about?  Now? Serenity, mindfulness, practice... maybe what I really want to explore is NOW. Living in the moment, not projecting, not regretting but really being present in the present.
So "now" is my word of the year for 2013.
2012 was a stress-filled year, so I'm realizing more and more that dealing with stress is really about dealing with my response to it. There will always be stress, always be problems, people I don't agree with. Really, they aren't the problem- ever. It's my response to things that are different from my norm that creates a lot of the stress.
I'm looking forward to seeing where trying to live in the the now takes me. I was reminded that I bought a necklace last year with that word stamped in it. I hope I wear it a lot and carry it's reminder with me even when it's not around my neck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I realize that one thing I do practice fairly regularly is prayer. One thing I'd like to add to my prayer life is more listening.

Pray was our lenten theme Sunday. Jeff Street does worship is such deeply meaningful and tangible ways. I'm always touched and I've learned to skip make-up when there. I cry it all away from the tenderness of it all. Individuals shared prayers that have been important parts of their lives.
The symbol of our sustenance in the desert theme has been a walking stick to which has been attached words of sustenance of the congregation. 
Every week there are more added from those left at the alter the previous week. 

This week bells were added as a symbol of God's hearing our prayers.

And there was an opportunity to take a bell and or light a candle as a prayer.
I did both. I put my bell in the little middle compartment between the front seats of my car. I like it there. When I stop, it rolls and rings and triggers a quick prayer for something or someone, or perhaps just to listen.

 The stick this week

Another prayer habit I have had for more than 20 years is to meet with other women over breakfast and share our concerns and joys and lift up those of others in prayer. We also send cards to those we know of who could use a word of hope, encouragement, wellness, or joy.

We each put a prayer concern on a card and take one of another's to pray for all week.

I'm celebrating the joy of a well practiced act with great meaning for my life.
What are you practicing today?
Is it something that brings joy to you and others?

This poem was a part of our worship and a reminder of my need to listen.

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Mary Oliver 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shrines and Icons

First my apologies to the matchbox shrine artist to the left- I closed the window before uploading the link-now I can't find it. :(

Since part of my goal in the year in pursuit of practice is more art- I'm leading a workshop March 11th at Jeff Street on making shrines or icons with the theme "Witness". Our Lenten theme is Sustenance in the Desert and one Sunday we will be sharing about those who have been a source of sustenance for us and these shrines will be a part of that service. Don't we just do the coolest things at church?  So I decided to write a post with ideas that folks could come visit for ideas in preparation for this event.

Here is a brief definition from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of SHRINE

a : a case, box, or receptacle; especially : one in which sacred relics (as the bones of a saint) are depositedb : a place in which devotion is paid to a saint or deity :sanctuaryc : a niche containing a religious image
: a receptacle (as a tomb) for the dead
 3: a place or object hallowed by its associations

****Artistic ability in NOT needed to make a great tribute about someone who's sustained you. You can cut words from a magazine, include a photo, or trinket, ticket stub or receipt-anything that reminds you of what made that person so important. I will show you ways to incorporate those into a simple icon.

Here is my matchbook shrine

Ollie was a friend who came to Women's Prayer Breakfast with me for 20 years. She died a few years ago at 93 or 94. She was a wise, faithful, knowledgable woman who's faith inspired me. She was a 40+ year breast cancer survivor who loved Billy Collins' poetry and gave me an extra copy of Picnic Lightening. She read aloud from it and other works of poetry from time to time. I have a recording of one reading that is a super sweet memory.

For this matchbox, I painted the box pink, glued a metal word, shrunken book cover, little wax thread pink ribbon, added a cross sticker and stamped the word pray on a tiny jeweler's tag which I attached with a tiny brad. The sleeve is covered in paper and I had some baby bracelet beads that I strung with her name.
Again, a little glue, paper, paint - came together easily.

We can do something so simple as ironing words and pictures or drawings between waxed paper hearts. Beautifully effective! I can see a whole string of these beauties hanging as a lovely tribute.

Can you tell who the tribute below represents?
Here is my waxed paper shrine hanging on my back door.

Here is a closer, clearer view.

A bit more detail

This was simple to put together. I printed out an image of a gift given to me by this person, glued it onto a background cut out in the shape of a house, stamped the words "inspire" and Hope" which I will bring, cut out part of a sticker and added that along with another piece of paper with the definition of the word "cherish". This person used to collect fortune cookie fortunes so I included part of one. I scraped some bits of crayon onto the waxed paper avoiding the house so it wouldn't smear it. I sandwiched all of it between two sheets of waxed paper and ironed on a low setting with no water in the iron. Cut out the heart shape and I sewed around the edge with some waxed thread and added a charm at the bottom.

Here is a shrine that is for sale but I put it in as an example of how elaborate you could chose to be.

A simple cardboard shrine is lovely!

Another thought would be to bring a photo of the person, we will make a construction paper or fun foam frame that you can embellish with words or items.

For those who like thinking ahead and mulling things over,
ideas of things to bring, but not required, I will have a bunch of materials:

magazine words that describe your "sustainer" if you cut them out ahead of time (magazines will be there)
photo or drawing of the person
any ephemera you have that connects you to that person or event (i.e. maps, ticket stubs, etc)
any item that has meaning to you that you want to include
any alphabet letters, beads, etc from your creative stash (remember those baby bracelet letter beads?)
Perhaps, a letter or note from them or you to them
ribbon or trim
Possible containers:
empty matchboxes ( I have may two of these)
 cereal box
small shoe box or shoebox lid
altoid or other candy/gum tin (I'll have some of these)
part of an egg carton ( I'll bring one)

There will be plenty of supplies on hand- so come with an idea or desire only and everything else will be there for you to create something.
Just come!

PS-I love serendipity, on my walk I found a shrine! How crazy is that? Marilyn Monroe on an old tin top. It was in the first alley I turned down.

Some online resources are:

Mirkwood Designs -for templates- I'll bring some of these
Another matchbook site -matchbook shrines- a personal favorite

Friday, February 24, 2012

The practice of Lent

To be honest, I've never been one to sacrifice something for Lent or, since I'm not Catholic, to eat fish on Fridays. Probably, for me Lent has been more about devotionals or reflection and sometimes, sadly, it has been nothing at all. This year it seems a perfect time to incorporate "practice" into the Lenten season.

So, I'm still thinking about what it will be, perhaps a journal or photo journal, perhaps a word a day.... but the thinking about it is always the beginning of a practice. Today, I am emptying to prepare for the journey.

What are you doing this Lenten season?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leo Babauta on Practice

I read Leo's blog, Zen Habits, fairly regularly and have found it inspiring. One thing I like about Leo's blog is that it has no advertisements, is reader supported, uncopywrited, worker-owned, and hand-made. Fabulous!  Zen Habits has been an encouragement to slow down my life a bit and really be present in the moment. He has a nice article on Practice that I just read and a link in it to Ali Edwards' musings on practice as well. I had read Ali's before, but it was nice to revisit. A reminder that my artistic pursuits need a little practice as well.

I can pack a lot into a day and have let art slide a bit while I got to absorb a little of other aspects of my life, but I'm ready now to put art back into the practice cycle. I have been doing my photo a day, for the last 15 days.

I'm going to do some art with those soon. I'm still working out the inability to upload directly to the computer so it requires more effort like printing (remember doing that?) photos and scanning to upload. I feel like I'm in the dark ages and hoping Canon and Apple catch up soon.

Along the lines of Leo's list of practices, a fellow dental hygienist shared with me a little nugget she took away from a continuing education course once- "Only touch it once". I have adopted that in many ways and it has lead to a real peace and order to my daily living. I could create chaos dropping stuff here and there and never being able to find what I was looking for.  I was spending incredible amounts of time looking for things. Dealing with whatever I touch all the way to where I really want it to be is fabulous!  Mail, especially. It is sorted, shredded, recycled and dealt with immediately when I get home. I do still have a small stack of things to go up or down the stairs occasionally but that, too has some order to it.

Practice has a lot of payoffs.
And because I'm a visual person- here's a little sidewalk art I did yesterday.
My wish for you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's an art form..

Practice, that is. I've tried not to take on too many new ones all at once though that would be more my style. To go wild with new goals and throw them all out in a day or two.

I am still taking a photo a day. Practicing with my new camera. And even when it isn't with me, I use my phone to have something to document the day.

This was my first day's photo. Holy Moly! This is the little Baby Jesus that is in front of the rectory in the neighborhood.  The Holy Family sit atop a knoll and one has to climb over a wrought iron railing to get this grand view, thank goodness for small children, who like me might have been horrified or at the least, perplexed, to see Baby Jesus in a half-eaten manger secured from thieves by a wire across the neck and ankles! Surely there is a better way, Father ____, (whoever you are).

I discovered Thursday, that to my delight, Baby Jesus lights up! I was in too much of a hurry to get a shot before work, but promised myself a photo op on Friday. Drat- a day late! Baby Jesus had been returned to where ever he lives during the rest of the year. Hummm...something to look forward to.

I still cannot upload photos from the camera, which is a real shame because you are missing some good ones! I may experiment with using Jim's computer and see what happens there.

This is my winterscape for the piece in the dining room.  I change it every season or whim. I knew Richey, who helped me decide last year that I needed somethings with height on that chest, would appreciate the blue theme- her favorite color. She detests green, which is one of MY favorite colors.

And this is a not-so flattering photo of some of my bridge pals at our 1st Thursday of the month game this week. These women are important to me- I've played cards and more importantly shared life with them over 20 years.

I'm enjoying shooting a little more and recording a bit of daily life-sometimes surprising, often routine, always interesting.

One of my other practices is drinking water as soon as I get up, which I am doing daily-I'm so pleased! And I've been trying in general to drink more water. We are mostly made up of water so I needed to be hydrating more. Not to mention that my caffeine consumption in the morning doesn't help and is very dehydrating.
This is a habit that I'm taking to though I have to admit, I do find water a little boring so I am focusing on the benefits.
Practice has its rewards. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year, all!
I've started doing a little towards practicing already. I got a camera for Christmas and hope to practice with it daily. I took my picture of the day. Unfortunately my new camera doesn't talk to my computer yet, you'd think I'd have looked at that but they should come out with updated software in the near future. But I also took one with my phone, too, and will upload when I get my computer back tomorrow.
I'm practicing drinking more water and trying to start my day with a glass of that before coffee. I have terrible dry eye problems and water can't do anything but help that!
We will see how these two practices go. I love the bizarreness of my photo today can't wait to show it to you!