A Confession and Realization

IMG_3133 I got stuck on Facebook the other day. Went on for my evening thirty minute window – to update and post my scheduled engagements and was blindsided by so much and so many. Every post was another distraction and none of it could wait. 90 minutes later I found myself in tears having read a beautiful, eloquent, thoughtful, viral letter a rape victim from Stanford CA had written. As tears streamed down my face it became clear that stepping away from that arena to evaluate my experience was paramount.

90 minutes of time – my most fleeting commodity.

While pondering the vortex that sucked all of my attention for an extended time-frame, my thoughts were the following:

The news that makes it to Facebook is horrific and shocking. Events are presented in an over sensationalized manner to be sure to get our notice. It worked! It happened to me. I read all about the swimmer sentenced to 3 months in county jail for a horrible rape for which he could have served up to 14 years in the state penitentiary. Then I read that letter - so thoughtful, well worded and POWERFUL.

Without an iota of desire to diminish the beauty of the victim’s response to an unimaginable experience, I really don’t need or want to know about the world’s atrocities.

Feeling compassion and heartbreak for this victim (as an example) takes energy. For me it requires a lot of energy. On Facebook there are no many things that grab and beg for my energy and attention I feel drained yet compelled to keep on reading and clicking. Commenting, donating and sharing.

What happened to our middle of the road, thoughtful, and thought provoking news sources? You know, the ones where journalism thrived and expanded. Where research and opposing sides were presented for equal consideration?

Allowing my tears to guide me away from the all-consuming distraction was super relieving.   My change in focus was quickly followed by the realization that I can choose not to make myself aware of events far beyond my circle of affect.

The desire to want this relief – of not knowing – was followed by a feeling of heartlessness.

Oh and to be heartless!

It is so far from what is me. I care, maybe too deeply, about humanity. The idea of choosing to not know, and not show support for, what is right and good left me feeling super sad and empty. Maybe even more sad and empty that the crime I read about made me feel.

Feeling super sad, heartless, and empty pushes me in the direction of self-judgment, self-doubt and even depression. These negative feelings of despair make me want a distraction (‘better check my social media’) and the cycle flows - in an ever-deepening downward spiral.

I’m hopping off the carousel. It’d be nice to be able to step on for an occasional spin to check in with the people and places that nourish and lead and let the world know what I am up to. Maybe one day soon I will master that – a clear, focused and undistracted visit to the land of too much information and compelled empathy.

This social experiment I call Limited Access is opening my eyes to so many lessons.IMG_3115

Planning Ahead

Anyone remember my post from last summer about spending a year in Ireland? Initially we were thinking of leaving in time for the girls to start school over there in the fall. I was super resistant to my hubby’s voice of reason suggesting that we stay stateside till the end of the year and bank as much as we can in those last three months of 2016. The more I have thought about it, the clearer it has become that this timing makes a whole lot more sense. My only worry is missing my sweet Auntie Ellie who will celebrate her 98th birthday this year. I’m hoping to get a visit in with her before we all go in time for Winter Solstice.

We will be based in our family cottage in Kinvara on the edge of The Burren about 15 miles south of the City of Galway. My mom and dad spent their summers there at the end of their teaching years and on into retirement. It is a humble and comfortable tiny three bedroom stone home with all the charm of an old-school Irish cottage. I’ll work in my dad’s studio and teach a couple workshops nearby. Stay tuned for that schedule as things fall into place.

Now to get our ducks in a row for making all of that happen. I’ll visit the Irish consulate in Boston in the next few weeks and figure out where to start.

I wonder if there is a run on exit visas and passports as Donald Trump marches ever closer to presidency? Yikes!

Recoil

File May 25, 12 06 27 PM On Saturday I embarked on a social experiment, that I am calling Limited Access.  The idea is to limit the time I spend online to two 30 minute blocks a day - morning and night.  In addition one day a week will be spent working online.  The first two days were challenging.  By Monday I was not using the second block of time at all and had decided that on Wednesdays I would spend my workday online.

Today is Wednesday.  I am happy finishing a blanket in my sewing room and have pushed my 'online' day to Friday.  This blog entry is eating up both of today's blocks.  Plans are coming together for doing most of my posting work off line - you know, write it down in a notebook with a pen!

Stepping back from my online presence has prompted an unexpected clarity to step further away from the light.  (In rereading this it seems as though my online presence is not being abandoned, but rather enhanced with intention.)  To that end, my intention is to reintroduce the role of mother, wife, friend into my weeks.  I am loving and really excited about my new-found sense of presence. Really jazzed about the idea of having a day off as fruit of my increased productivity with the time saved from building awareness of my online use.

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The idea of a focus nourishes me too ~

More on that in the days to come.

Yesterday I noticed a big fat bubble bee checking out our 100 year old lilac in the end-of-day sunshine and thought about how it must be to stick your head into that bloom in all its glory. How would it be to be that bee?

Nectar

Sunshine

Intoxicating Fragrance

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Mindful - Limited Access

File May 22, 10 35 41 PM Today is my first full day of mindful internet and illuminated rectangle use. Yesterday I decided to work toward 30 minutes twice a day, a morning session and an evening session plus one full day a week of internet work.

What fun it is to really pay attention to my habits. I noticed being drawn to the drivel and opted for more meaningful enrichment. What a lovely day it was!

Findings

Spent three minutes reading news this morning while still horizontal and signed off until now.

Responded to texts from friends and initiated a couple to plan my summer schedule.

Checked my Analytics and saw that my Limited Access post blew up! It inspires me to imagine my path inspiring others to consume this commodity in a thoughtful and mindful manner.

Realized that 30 minute sessions morning and night might not be most productive for me.

Working on clarifying my plan for the rest of my week long social experiment

Most notably

My sense of relief stands – it excites me to have found lost time!

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I made amazing sugar free, dairy free chocolate. Some of you may know that I became macrobiotic in September 2014 due to an Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis several years earlier. More on that another time, for now just know that today’s batch was most notable to date!

Recipe coming soon.

We started the patio we have been dreaming up for the last couple years. Its going to be amazing! The door hearthstone we put in place today is the one my hubby grew up with – so cool.

Cleaned, Folded a mountain of laundry, sewed for a couple hours and generally felt super great not even thinking about anything happening online.

Day two of my social experiment to leave the interwebs behind for most of my day was a success. Looking forward to another wholesome day of creativity tomorrow.

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Limited Access

Today is May 21, 2016 File May 21, 11 19 41 PM

My 10 year old daughter won a tablet raising money for The American Heart Association. Her big brother has a cardio-myopathy so she is super motivated.

This device is the first for her. I was thinking about her screen-use and wondering about how best to limit it and I had an epiphany. I, like so many around me, am completely distracted from the here and now by the damn illuminated rectangle in my hand – it became clear that in order for me to feel right about limiting Lucy’s tablet use I needed to limit my own.

It started immediately.

 

The relief was immediate.

 

So here goes!

30 minutes twice a day on the illuminated screen, plus one day a week for work/sales.

It’s a social experiment I’ll be undertaking this week, I am calling it Limited Access:

So far I have spent a few focused intervals wondering how best to spend this super limited timeframe. What is most important to me?

Spent time writing in my journal with pen and ink, my favorite new drawing tool a Quill pen and india ink.  Fun to write with too cause you gotta keep dipping -  slowing  -   Thank you kindly for that inspiration Dan Blakeslee!

Dan playing at BINGO! Gallery earlier this year with some of his amazing artwork on the wall.

Enjoying the moment, spending more time with my kids and hubby – like really WITH them.  And checking OUT of all the spinning whirling craziness happening out there in cyber land.  Upon initial contemplation what I came up with as 'most important' is accountability.  So I’ll be using this platform keep myself accountable and to post my findings.

Stay tuned.

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Harmony with Nature

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I am by no means well versed in the world of Macrobiotics. Since September 1, 2014 my diet has been macrobiotic based and my health is in recovery. A week long cooking intensive at The Kushi Institute gave me a starting place and since then I have been preparing and eating macrobiotic food and working it in to my lifestyle. There is so much more to it than just what to eat and what not to eat. Lessons come everyday and I feel stronger and more independent as time passes. No more super expensive medication and all their side effects to treat Ulcerative Colitis. No more abdominal pain, GI bleeding, diarreah or uneasiness in public – no symptoms at all actually! No refined sugar, no dairy, no animal products other than very occasional seafood, no coffee, no burgers, no nightshades, ahhhh what else? Beer’s OK. This might sound super limiting and unappealing to many. Feeling healthy, whole, happy and knowing that my food choices encourage planetary balance works for me.

 

Other than breakfast, meals consist of 5 food items including Beans, Grain, Long Cooked Vegetable, Short Cooked Vegetable and some sort of Pickle. Soup is considered a must as well. As anyone with children and a social life in this culture can attest, this ideal is not always possible. I follow the rules until they don’t work in my lifestyle. I eat leftovers, in fact I actually MAKE leftovers cooking enough for three or four meals at a time. I use more coconut oil than I should and probably eat more seeds and nuts than any one person actually needs. I even use honey once in a while (and it is an animal product!).

I soak my beans and grains before cooking, I use a pressure cooker, gas stove, organic foods, I use ume plums, dried daikon, shitake mushrooms, dried lotus root, oh and sea vegetables, lots of sea vegetables. I make miso soup and it is nurturing. I eat lots of greens.07.26.15.collage

Having been at this a little while I am starting to come up with some darn good recipes. In all honesty, it is questionable if people accustomed to eating the traditional American diet would think my recipes are GREAT but I sure do. I’ll post one here every now and again. Stay tuned and let me know if you are dealing with a diagnosis that is kicking your ass. Not sure if macrobiotics is for you, but I can tell you a lot of healing goes on at The Kushi Institute. Never thought it would be the answer I have found it to be! Yay Me!

macrobiotics

noun, ( used with a singular verb)

a philosophically oriented program incorporating elements from several ancient cultures and emphasizing harmony with nature, especially through adherence to a diet consisting primarily of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and moderate amounts of seafood and fruit.

Its a Sign

Do you people read horoscopes? I remember scrolls we used to buy at the supermarket in a little plastic tube a different color each month kinda mezuzah-like. The scroll - a long list of daily vague assertions and destiny of love interests held by a future based on birth sign. They were all so similar, one month to the next, one sign or another.

We can celebrate! Along with food quality and environmental awareness horoscopes seem to have undergone a rebirth of sorts since my teenage years. Look at what I’m seeing as I am madly planning, organizing, researching, tidying, and plotting our year in Ireland. Here is my favorite: http://www.chronogram.com/hudsonvalley/sagitarius-for-july/Content?oid=2316411

 And another really good one: http://freewillastrology.com/horoscopes/sagittarius.html

Thanks to Eric Francis Coppolino Rob Brezsny, this month, more than ever, I’m feeling like I am on the right track, definitely counting my lucky stars.

Where do you find your favorite birth sign based predictions?

Clear Goals and Hard Work

Got back from my Irish adventure planning and hit the ground running with a refreshed essence of understanding clear goals requiring hard work.

Shire City Sessions stage building was a wonderful collaboration on Saturday as I was rubbing the jetlag from the corners on my eyes. Sunday and today were filled with some of the most amazing women in the studio at my Potholder Rug Workshop here at Shire City Sanctuary. Tomorrow there are meetings and interviews to promote Shire City Sessions and Oh Boy I feel like I need a vacation (yes! I did just get back from one.)

My creative goal is to turn my stock of materials into awesome fresh marketable product for the last three sales events on my 2015 calendar – you know Straw into Gold! Mark your calendars now and make a plan to come see me at NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck NY on October 17 and 18 2015, Hudson Valley Exchange’s Basilica Farm and Flea in Hudson on Thanksgiving weekend and/or our very own Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy December 11-13. At the end of this year I will take a break from making using recycled textiles. There will be fresh new work in the future but if you love what I make and have wanted something special to warm your heart or home, don’t miss out. This will be the end of an era.

Ok now back to cutting stencils for The Dolphin Studio’s 2016 calendar and maybe even squeezing in a short run of art posters for our first Shire City Session kicking off one week from today with The Lucky 5 Band and U.S. Elevator 5-9pm at Shire City Sanctuary. Food Trucks, Craft Beer and GREAT music – FREE

Good thing I love running.

On my run this morning what I thought was a leaf, fluttered to the ground in front of me. I reached out my hand and found a butterfly wing. Feels right – a beautiful metamorphosis is in the making. Funny the reminders we are literally handed along the way.

 

07.13.15.1Have you had a reminder to stay on your path lately? Leave a comment and share your story.

Slowing It Down

used clothing alchemy picnic blanket by crispina ffrench made from recycled corduroys

This weekend I will be selling all manner of Used Clothing Alchemy at the Hudson River Exchange Summer Market ~ From what I hear this is one not to be missed! I am really excited to have the opportunity to share my picnic blankets, summer clothing collection and all natural yoga mats in this beautiful outdoor setting right along the majestic Hudson River! For directions and hours you can check out their website at http://hudsonriverexchange.com. With all these picnic blankets coming together in the studio, I am planning a few picnics sprinkled throughout the summer. A hot sunny beach on Cape Cod, Inside Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow and The Lawn at Tanglewood are definite. Where is your favorite picnic destination?

Oh, I can just imagine the warm sun on my face now!

Summer Vacation - Being Present

Add Joy, reduce disappointmentIt is summer vacation and my younger two kids have just finished second and third grade. (Our oldest is 22 and living the good life in Boston as he works for the summer before returning to Berklee this fall.) My husband and I are both self employed so we are going to work alternative schedules for the summer to save money and spend more time with our kids. My challenge will be to be present to The Littles when spending time together rather than finding ways to entertain them while I work.

This first week we are sharing a sitter/entertainer with our good friends who also have two little girls similarly aged. We plan to fill days with summer fun, from wading in the brook catching critters to a day at the town beach and maybe a couple of kid-oriented local museum trips. Here’s to a summer full of fun and adventure with time to get things done and add joy!

What are you planning for the summer to add joy on your path?