Simplicity

Life is an extremely complex web of connections and layers and incredible things we will never understand completely...but it also has a beautiful simplicity to it - patterns and parallels, structure and alignment. It at times seems chaotic, but that lens can be shifted to see the order and experience the calm - and that is an incredible skill to practice.

We each tend to live life in the way that we view it - which for me is an interesting combination of a calm complexity. I can go with the flow and accept change into my life, but there is always so much going on, always more being added to the picture in both quantity and depth.

Sometimes I want to step back, relax, reflect, then do things differently.

I don't always end up allowing that desire to be fulfilled. 

But it is valuable to recognize it, and pull it back into attention from time to time - recognize my own patters, and start seeing them differently in me so they can also become different in the world around as well.

be the change you want to see in the world
— Mahatma Gandhi

It is simple, and it is true. We each are a microcosm of the universe - change within ourselves creates the potential for exponential change outwards beyond ourselves.

So, if I am going through life and recognize something I would like to change, I see it as in the interest of both me AND the totality of that around me to act upon that wish.

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In light of keeping simplicity in my life and moving forward with a better alignment to my truth..

I want to be more honest, open, and straightforward - no need for beating around the bush, worrying over my wording, or not speaking up out of fear of inadiquacy.

I believe that by speaking up, over time I will find my voice. I believe that as I express my ideas, more depth will be discovered. There is so much more value in the experience of trying than in the stagnancy of concern.

I want to connect ideas with action, and travel a path of growth. 

There are so many experiences to have in this world, and I want to step up to the challenge, embrace difference, and contribute to the disruption of the illusion that what has been is how it should be, or that what is easiest is whats best. 

Simplicity does not mean Easy.

and I am excited to see what comes next.

 Pocket Object Project -  Website ,  Instagram

Pocket Object Project - Website, Instagram

Thank you for following along with these 12 weeks of the Future is Female blog posts! I am so grateful for all the wonderful little and big things that have come out of this experience, and I believe much more lays ahead!

Please, feel free to contact me if you are interested in participating in the Pocket Object Project, as I plan to continue this after graduating (in exactly 1 month)!

With Love,

Madeline

The Future is Female (and male) and On Time

This week wraps up a nearly 4 month endeavor here called The Future is Female which kicked off with the new year and my new found focus on creating a future previously only dreamed of.  During this time I have been joined by many amazing female contributors, to whom I feel amazing gratitude.  We have acted as an accountability team and have all been empowered to write and publish our thoughts that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, even by each of us.  Each woman who has contributed their thoughts and images here has helped us all understand that there is magic and connection all around us.  A seemingly random group of women have found connection through me which just lights me right up!  

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These last two weeks have presented me with a particular challenge and a deep realization that I suck (or have sucked in the past) at time management.  Time is the trickster (last week’s theme).

For 13 weeks my post day has been Sundays - and as you might (or might not) know, I live on a remote mountainside with less than mediocre internet access.  In all these 13 weeks it has not happened once that my post was scheduled by the end of my workweek on Friday from my studio, where internet access is stellar (and I do my WORK).  

Every. Single. Week. I have rushed around on either Saturday or Sunday, (or both) scrambling to get my post up at my allotted time to set the stage for the rest of the week and my wonderful (patient and understanding) collaborators.  

Today the clear realization of this, and how this lack of forthright focus to tackle time management has haunted me as long as I can remember.  Today is a new day for me.  A straightforward, logical shift is all that is required to prioritize timeliness to the commitments I make.    This task is simple - AND this week’s theme is Simplicity.  I think I’m ready.

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In addition to this morning’s epiphany, The Future is Female has taught me that, while the future is certainly female for about 51% of the world’s population, there is another 49% who are excluded by the title I chose for our collaborative column.  Now, taken, I get that there is a super exciting and seemingly global shift happening from a place where men (and especially white men) have been allowed to lead the way for so much of our history.  I support this shift and plan to contribute to its momentum everyday.  It is, however, unfair to say that the future is purely female.  We all know that this is an impossibility.  What is possible and maybe more difficult than a simple exclusionary blanket statement is to take responsibility for the cultural conditioning of our male counterparts to act and be and be allowed to run the show.  As mothers, sisters, wives, and friends, let us encourage and allow our sons, brothers, husbands, and male friends to be in touch with emotions, able to cry, admit wrong-doing and error, find comfort in being primary childcare providers, earning less than their spouses and on and on and on.  Let us not expect to be cared for.  Let us challenge the myth of male/female gender roles to which we have grown accustomed.  Let us raise up our eloquent voices, teaching others to listen by our example, validating our thoughts, contributing to the new age of equality, understanding, acceptance, sharing and kindness.  Let us lead the way to a place where empathy and compassion are the norm.  Where bullying and misogyny are overcome with well heard and welcomed debate, clear and empowered voices speaking kind and unrelenting truth to any bullshit.  Let us not harbor, focus on, or promote divisive behavior.  Let us work toward a place where we are all able, happy, and allowed to be our best selves, sharing our gifts and nurturing each other.  It starts within.  Like my morning’s epiphany, this just doesn’t seem to be all that complicated.  Who’s in?

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The human experience is a trickster. It is a lens that distorts the Truth.

The human body and mind forces certain dispositions on the entity, turning experience into an interpretation of distortions.

It is like looking through a Pocket Object. The glass form is a transparency that cannot be seen alone without also including the reflections of its environment. What is seen also depends on the elements within the form itself, what makes up this object both on the exterior and interior.

Furthermore, each person who looks at the Pocket Object will experience something differently because of their individual make up – their physical abilities, interests, mood…the associations they will make based on previous experiences, and their relationship to the person, place, or form itself.

Humans see and are seen based on these things as well. It is part of the human experience – the way we move through life and form our reality.

This isn’t to say that the human experience isn’t valid. It is also a part of the truth…but there seems to be so much to gain by seeing the lens itself, understanding it is there - rather than believing the things we see and experience are the Ultimate Truth.

But tricksters are wise - they play tricks for a reason. 

I believe the human experience is something like a challenge, a code, or maybe like rules in a game...

We are all players in one way or another, constantly making moves that will impact the playing field for everyone else.

Not everyone has the same intentions within this game - some people are competitive, some just want to have a good time, some were forced to play but would rather be doing something else...but everyone is in the same boat with having the opportunity to respond to some things, and having to play according to certain rules of the game.

Sometimes it takes a while before the game of life starts to become more clear - tricks of the game are exposed, people give hints along the way, certain bridges have been crossed and won't have to be crossed again...

I went in two different directions on this blog post...I could probably get a lot deeper into them if I continued writing for hours...but I have three weeks until my thesis exhibition, so for now I will leave it with this!

I am curious to hear what your thoughts are...and what analogies you like to use in your life!

And just to throw it in here because I think analogies are a great way to recognize the tricksters of the human experience...

Within a big box of tomatoes, a few rotten ones have an overwhelming presence.

If no one sorts through the box to take those rotten ones out, the whole box will go bad quicker than before.

To save them, it takes a belief that something good will come out of the effort of sorting through the box.

Something very important to keep in mind as well...rotten tomatoes still make good compost.

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Lots of Love to You

I hope you find the wonderful things that exist in the day and the night.

~Madeline 

 

The Future is Fragile yet BRIGHT

Week 11- The Future is Female - Renewal, Revive, Rejuvenate

I normally write my entries on Friday evenings, but this week was different.  We were gifted a surprise last-minute opportunity to join two busloads of teenagers to March for Our Lives in Washington DC.  

 Railroad Street Youth Project early morning landing at March For Your Life in DC  photo credit: Huck Elling

Railroad Street Youth Project early morning landing at March For Your Life in DC  photo credit: Huck Elling

Lucy’s feet hurt before we started to delve into putting all the pieces in order to make this adventure happen.  Our dog sitting friends were not able to help us on a ‘right now’ call.  So, after making a whole lot of phone calls and being creative with our ideas getting our ducks in a row, we decided to skip 16 hours on a bus and opt for a more local event.  Violet, my 11 year old with a predisposition to being contentedly alone, the one who is not crazy about big crowds or loud noises was not having it.  Her usual ability to go with the flow was out the window and she pitched a fit - like literally a FIT!  Screaming and yelling about how she HAD to go to Washington DC!  She HAD to participate with the people speaking up against gun violence in our capital and be a part of the change the world needs.  While Chris and I were listening, we were concerned that if one of us took Violet while the other stayed home with dogs and Lucy, Violet might have a really hard time in the huge crowds predicted for the event.  The anxiety she exhibits might become overwhelming and things might really not be ok.  We talked to her about how it would be.  About the crowds and not being able to walk away from them.  We talked about the long hours of marching and yelling, about the noise levels and sore feet.  She was not only game, she was vehement.

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So the four of us huddled around the kitchen table and painted protest signs, we packed snacks and Violet and I hopped in the car and drove 40 minutes (with signs drying on the back seat) to the gathering spot for our adventure.  We got on the bus with 88 other people - mostly teenagers - and drove all night into Washington DC.  The trip was well-organized by the notable Railroad Street Youth Project based in Great Barrington.  A group with a more than amazing history, founded by teenagers back about 20 years ago.  We marched as a clan - we got right up front and center and could see the stage easily.  We got to hear the voices of so many eloquent and affected people - live and in person.  Tears streamed.  Hope bubbled.  Unity was tangible.  Violet rocked the whole day in her new converse she got from her big brother for her birthday.  She wore them so she could bring him along with her.  

We arrived home by 2 am having spent more than 24 hours surrounded by our future.  What hope has been restored to me!  What a powerful and clear-minded crew leading the way.  In the biggest tragedies, there seem to be the strongest blessings.  If losing so many beautiful young people to gun violence results in the change we are seeing they have not died in vain.  Their friends and siblings have been empowered and are speaking up with a unified and unrelenting voice.  People who have been directly affected by school shootings were joined with those living with urban gun violence whose PTSD shouldn't include the word "post" as it is never-ending.   All the speakers of the day were teenagers and younger.  Each shared powerful eloquent messages of their dire and clear call to end the craziness, stop the unregulated availability of weapons of mass destruction.  All that power and passion and real-life experience of untimely and unwarranted great loss brought tangible unity and fellowship.  Partnering the affluence of the community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, FL with the inner city youth speaking on their daily level of fear and frequent loss brought the groups together with one clear voice for change.  Governmental change - Yes Please!

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Stop the silence and end gun violence.

We got up late today.  Even after all the travel and the lack of sleep I am feeling revived, renewed and rejuvenated by the whole experience.  We are blessed to have young visionaries speaking truth to power.  Support them.  Their young, fearless, eloquent and powerful voices are making the changes they are vehemently demanding.  Follow them on social media and contribute in any way needed.

Hey Hey Ho Ho The NRA has got to GO! 

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Not Always Seen, but still can be known

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This glass piece is part of a 13 week project from two years ago. After 13 weeks, with 4 simple steps before the larger object (a microscope/kaleidoscope) was complete, the whole piece smashed on the floor. This component was separate at the time, and therefore did not break along with the rest. After a few months of it sitting around, I decided to put a loop on it and wear it as a pendent. Now, I often wear it daily – it is a beautiful little reminder of impermanence, progression, and of disasters that within have the potential for future benefits. This pendent has become a conversation piece on many occasions, and it’s story has allowed me to rediscover its meaning and purpose time and time again.

Like the many weeks of work, plans and love put into the overall project, life can seem like it is playing out it’s purpose through the ‘main body of work’…but it might be something else, a component, or a side effect of the engagements…

For the past 22 years, I have developed many components that create my self.

There have been times when I’ve crashed and burned, and times that have been incredible beyond belief. At this moment, I am sensing a personal shift into the Feminine, and I am excited for the changes and discoveries it will bring.

I want to connect with Mother and experience Sisterhood. I want to learn from the Female Strength and Wisdom that Beautifies and Supports this world. 

In my Future, I will create and embrace opportunities for self-improvement, and allow myself to at times (not forever I suppose) live in (or at least experience) my personal realm…I think up until now there have been restrictions on that possibility…

What I mean – I want to fall asleep when I am tired and wake with the end of sleepiness. I want to explore and create for the sake of creating, imagining, and seeing the beauty and magic of the world. I want to express myself whole heartedly. I want to be my full authentic self.

I think what I need in order for that to occur, first, is to complete school. Maybe it isn’t even about school itself, it is about the work within school – I need to complete my projects. 

I am almost there. That is what I am working on. Right now, I am moving forwards, not always as quickly as I my ideal, but always moving towards the Future that I envision

As I progress, I aim to embrace that which comes my way – in my Female Future I will stand strong, connect dots, see beauty, and create with love.

 When I opened my eyes, a hawk flew in within 10 feet - Photo by Serge

When I opened my eyes, a hawk flew in within 10 feet - Photo by Serge

Until Next Week <3

Madeline Stewart

My Future (and Past) is Female

Week 10 - The Future is Female - Our Female Future

Who are we kidding, the future cannot be simply female.  The future can be kind, inclusive, accepting, thoughtful, and non-violent.  Humans could all recognize that we are playing on one team with one sacred planet to support us.  Does this sort of harmonious prophecy conjure attributes that our culture sees as being female?

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It is clear to me that just saying that the Future is Female excludes half the global population, half the awesome out there.  I am an inclusionist, an entrepreneur, an activist and a feminist.  I envision a future where women and men are actually equal in every aspect of culture, where humans are aware of our power, where we respect and live in balance with nature.

Being a female accidental environmental entrepreneur beginning at the age of 21, without any planning or formal business education I just did it.  I followed the bouncing ball leading me down the path of growing a business at a whirlwind pace.  Two years in I had 40 employees and no business plan.  During that time of huge growth all sorts of exciting things happened.  In 1991 I was named the small business person of the year by the SBA in the state of NY.  In 1995 was invited to attend the Social Venture Network’s annual conference and speak about my zero-waste business, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ben and Jerry, Eileen Fisher, Tom and Kate Chappell, Ram Dass, and Jennifer Barclay.  My business was featured on national television, in countless glossy magazines and in internationally recognized news papers.  No one had seen anything like what I was doing.  Environmentalism was in its infancy and I was leading the way  with textile waste recycling.

A month after attending the SVN conference the shit hit the proverbial fan in May 1995.  

My two and a half year old son (who had had failure to thrive since 6 months, who had been hospitalized twice with pneumonia, who had already had 6 sets of chest x-rays and was in the doctor’s office so often that it was nuts) was  diagnosed with Cardio-Myopathy and Pulmonary Hypertension and given 18 months to live. (It was actually a huge relief as all along the way, my parenting was questioned.  How often do you offer him food? etc.)  At the beginning of that week we met the a new doctor (who was actually a Nurse Practitioner) in our new town for what I thought would be a well child visit.  That morning I thought he had a bad cold, maybe another bout of pneumonia.  We were prescribed ANOTHER antibiotic and asked to return two days later with his dad.  That terrible day we were met with a gurney at the door of the ER of three hospitals and before the end of the second day we checked into the ICU ward at Childrens Hospital in Boston.  Later that same day, the bank I worked with called all my business loans and line of credit.  It was Mother’s Day.

I was reeling.  

My son’s father and I were not together after a tumultuous 4 year relationship.  He banked at the same institution for his business but had no ramifications based on our son’s uninsured health issues.  It was a really hard time.  One night as I sat on my front porch drinking my 2 daily beers and smoking my 2 daily cigarettes a clear message came to me.  I wiped my tears and decided with unwavering clarity that I was not going over the edge of the abyss to plunge to the depths of depression and desperation. I was not going to become a crazy person who could not hold it together.  I was going to walk from the edge of that cliff with clarity.  I was determined to be the best parent I could be.  I was going to be strong, clear and powerful.  I knew that my intention carried great power.  

The storm lifted.  

My footing was found with the help of contacts made at The Social Venture Network who helped reinstate my loans with the same banking institution that had nearly crippled me in a time of strife.  The slope where I landed was slippery but I was able to keep from sliding down, yet not able to climb back to where my  business had been.  I lost several weeks of production time and several key employees.  My focus was on my son, being sure every healer who might be helpful was seen, being sure he had the prescribed 10 doses of meds everyday and living a good life with him -  for today.  

 the first day of kindergarten

the first day of kindergarten

Looking back, it was clearly unfair.  Why had MY parenting been questioned and not his absent father? Why had the bank called my loans and not those of his father?  We were both in good financial standing.  Was it because I am a woman? A mother? I never pursued the bank to find the answer to that question.  At the time, my focus was on my son which was so much more important to me than dickering with a bank who nearly squelched my livelihood.  I could not take in the negativity associated with the level of anger I would feel with my focus on this gender disparity.  

 photo credit: Lindy Smith, 1996

photo credit: Lindy Smith, 1996

The manufacturing company I had founded producing recycled clothing, home furnishings and accessories limped along for several years, and worked hard to regain the momentum lost following the diagnosis and consequent 60 day halt of production.  

In 1998 Crispina (the company) had relocated to The Berkshires from Dutchess County NY and was in full swing supplying 350 customers among them Crate and Barrel, The J.Peterman Company, Espirit and Fiorucci.  In early 1999 J. Peterman, our biggest customer filed bankruptcy owing nearly $30,000.  This blow presented another unforeseen difficult period with ramifications deeper and longer lasting than imagined.

Crispina the company was limping along again.  During this time other, better planned, more professionally run companies had come into the marketplace making similar items confusing customers.  Products with my aesthetic that had once been completely unique were popping up all over the place.  Increased demand was making materials more expensive, and harder to find in volume.  Suppliers were going out of business and consolidating adding yet another complexity to production.  

In 2003 a crazy lady attended a studio sale in our, rented production facility.  She claimed to have twisted her ankle while descending the stairs.  Although she walked to her car without help, she later sued, and cost me ownership of my 16 year old company.  

The company was taken over by a business mentor who ran it in partnership with me for 5 years before retiring and gifting the company she had created from my business back to me.  

I am not sure how this tangent got started.  This week our theme is our Female Future and what has come to mind is the really difficult female past I have lived.  It is apparent now that many of the places I stumbled would have been different had I been male.  Motherhood kept my focus away from driving my business to the level of success I am working toward.  All that experience, all those bumps along my path have taught me many lessons that inform who I am today.

Channeling my power and intention to allow my son’s special heart to support him has helped guide him along the path of the living.  The fact that he lives everyday with a diagnosis that’s most common ‘symptom’ is ‘sudden death’ makes all who know and love him live in the moment of today.  Today is beautiful as he is among us, sharing his magic, turning 26 in November.  Tomorrow, the future, it is all unknown.  I can hope that it leans in to harmony, equality among all people, kindness, and environmental respect.  Is that female?  Not really.  Just different than where the world is today with the predominance of backward thinking power-mongering male heads of state and all that that sort of leadership manifests.  I know that my future is full of financial freedom.  It is full of methodically organized well thought through creative empowerment, environmental stewardship, healthy food, and acknowledging that human power is wholly underestimated by most.  Let’s Rock This Beautiful Life We Share - today is the day.  The time is now.

 color samples for the cover of the 2019 Dolphin Studio Calendar

color samples for the cover of the 2019 Dolphin Studio Calendar

Thanks for following along.  Oh and be an organ donor.  The ‘cure’ for the super rare and formally undocumented diagnosis of my son is a heart/lung transplant.  He'll be 26 in November.

 

 

 

Step by Step

I returned home this week for the last Spring Break of my Undergraduate career.

I had a plan for this week - to work on the Pocket Object Project Documentary video, teach flameworking classes, and take some time to recover in preparation for the final stretch of this semester leading up to my Thesis Exhibition, and Graduation.

This hasn't gone exactly as planned...

Due to a series of obstacles, I haven't been able to work on the actual "work" parts of my plan - yet. These will begin today, Thursday - but up until this point, since I haven't been able to get that work done, I've had the pleasure of relaxing, and doing the things I otherwise want to do with my time right now.

I feel like the past few days have painted a beautiful image of how I would like to live my life - supporting my health, happiness, growth and connections.

Some of the ways this week has assisted in self-care...

Starting seeds for the upcoming season, cooking delicious food, spending time with family, enjoying the craziness and beauty of the snow, reestablishing a strengthening routine, pulling out the sewing machine to introduce more ways of going waste-free for the future, and sleeping, dancing, and laughing sufficiently <3

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So far in my life it has been a real challenge to balance my school/work schedule with all these wonderful components of my version of a happy healthy life. Thankfully, I am seeing improvement year by year, sometimes day by day, step by step. 

Two days ago, I was going through boxes of things I've saved over the years and found some "I AM" poems and " Me 5 years from now" idea sheets from fourth and fifth grade. They were amusing, and showed me how I viewed myself at the time, and what I thought the future might hold. I was so...well, different.

I've changed so much, and I am so happy with the changes that have come about.

As I continue into my post-graduate life, I am setting intentions to continue these positive trends for a more balanced life.

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I am finding the things that bring me the most joy, and thus allow me to put the most joy back into the world in a productive and fulfilling manner. I'm learning how to say no when that denial or restriction leads to a better future, and learning how to say yes even when it produces discomfort or fear in the short term.

I'm so excited for the next step of this journey - thanks for following!

With Love

Madeline