Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. Rumi

love

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Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Off to Vermont!

...looks like i won't have a camera or laptop with me for this trip so i'm truly unplugging.

I'll be back here in a couple of weeks!

Sending love to you all,

Julia

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Moon


"Today will be joyous, for the beauty slamming against my face is unwilling to be ignored." Susan Mrosek 



....in the sky tonight

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tonight


Kickin' back with newly pedicured toes & a glass of red wine


Cleansing


The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse carries us on an incredible personal journey that will open our eyes to all that we are and all that we desire to be. We transform our consciousness and unlock purpose, meaning, and passion in our life.
Remember that book i mentioned in my last post, the one that i stumbled upon in the bookstore on Friday afternoon?  Well, this is it and, wow, let me tell you, it's been a good thing.  Not only do i love the idea of a consciousness cleanse but through this book i discovered Debbie Ford (who i had never heard of before).  On her website she shares some simple, beautiful, lovely meditations, prayers and affirmations. (For free)

Yesterday afternoon i listened to one of her meditations called "Latte Break," and one called "Internal Flame."  Last night when i couldn't sleep i listened to "Sweet Dreams Nighttime Meditation."  Her voice is incredibly soothing--listening to it feels like being gently cradled.  Anyway, just wanted to share the goodness.  Click here & you will be taken there.

It's been a quiet and lovely weekend around here.  It seems to have just taken on a theme of its own-- the garage clearing & house cleaning seemed to naturally lead to some internal cleansing and nurturing (yesterday afternoon i spent two whole hours at the spa!). 

I am heading to Vermont in a couple of days...my baby sister (who is now 30!) is getting married.  I get all teary-eyed every time i think that this little person who i held on my hip is getting married--i'm so happy that she found her love.  

I am mostly planning on unplugging, breaking away from the computer for a couple of weeks....it will be a full schedule and i want to soak up every bit of everything.   However, i just signed up for Susannah Conway's "August Break," so i plan on taking a little photo log of these last days of August...we'll see how that goes. 

Okay...i'm off.    :)



Friday, August 20, 2010

fearLESS Friday

Week 11

"Mediocrity in any area of your life is no longer an option because either your pain is too great or your desire for true happiness is too compelling.  You want more and you know you deserve more.  There is something you're not getting and you are ready to get it.  So today is a perfect day for you to take back your power from the outer world, turn inward, and embark on the journey of reconnecting with the spirit that moves you."     Debbie Ford



A little fearless decision making....

I've always had a hard time making decisions.  Especially seemingly small and insignificant decisions--like whether to have the shrimp or pasta off the menu or whether to stay home on a given night or go to bed early.  I've never wanted to decide between this and that, i've wanted this and that.  Choosing one thing means eliminating the other.

Today i was faced with a decision; i could go on a two day/two night canoe trip with my family and a few other families or i could not go. 

Going would have meant spending a couple of days with five other adults and six children, sleeping in a tent, peeing in the woods (which i really don't have a problem with), going to bed late, waking up early, potentially many middle-of-the-night-interruptions, but most likely lots of fun. 

Staying would mean quiet time.  Time.... to walk, write, read, take deep breaths, clean the house (without interruptions), prepare for our upcoming trip to Vermont (without interruptions), time to flow without an agenda, time to flow with the rhythm of me.  Quality sleep in my own comfortable bed.

Both were very lovely choices, how could i decide?  What was the "best" decision?  What does it even mean to be the "best" decision?  How do you separate the "should" thoughts with the what-do-i-really-need right-now deeper, heart-thoughts? 

Going would have made everyone else happy, they really wanted me to go.  And i had planned to go...

What i realized in the midst of trying too hard to decide is that i just really needed to stop and listen, stop and really ask myself what it is that i am needing.  Once i did this, i knew i couldn't go.  I knew that what i need most right now is some down time, some time to stare at the sky if that's what feels right, time to allow myself to flow from one thing to the next, to listen to what  is stirring deep down.  And i also know that what is best for me, what helps me to connect back with me, is ultimately was is best for those around me.  I know that it is not possible to give from a place of depletion.

So this afternoon/evening consisted of some good, quality, necessary house cleaning/clearing, a trip to the local shelter to donate bags and more bags of clothing that have been cluttering our garage for weeks now, a trip to the local book stores to sell some books (that have been cluttering the garage for weeks now), a trip to the library to return some long-overdue books.  All of this to do stuff was followed by some very nice BEing time; a lovely dinner out, a walk by the river, some reading of a very inspiring book that i stumbled upon in the book store and had to buy, a glass of wine, some staring at a seriously gorgeous sky.  And now home, cozy on the couch, pj's on--writing.   Aside from the occasional snore from the dog, it's so quiet.

It's all felt so freeing and just right.  My mind has slowed way down--i feel my heart breathing in the fresh, spacious air.

It's so often the case that i just DO without slowing down long enough to notice that all the DOing is zapping my energy, throwing me off center, making me cranky, putting distance between me and ME, sucking me into that yucky, all-too-familiar suffering place. 

I know that the only way to stay connected to that sweet, spacious place, is to pause long enough to listen, to ask for guidance, to stop doing out of habit & conditioning and other people's ideas of what's right.  And to open wide and wider to that beautiful, spacious place that always knows just what I need.

I'm so glad i listened today.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Catching My Breath


"Life is short and we have not too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Oh, be swift to love. Make haste to be kind."   Henri Frederic Amiel




Ahhhh...big sighs over here.  There have been few moments these last several days to sit and catch my breath and i'm realizing, now that i have a brief moment, it would serve me well to turn the computer off and simply be with the quiet and maybe get to bed early. 

So, for now, i'll just leave you with the above quote...i'm realizing more and more that what's really really important is kindness & love.  I hope that in this moment, in whatever moment you are in, your heart is full of both and that you are finding ways to spread that goodness around.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stirrings


Bliss

Oh, sweet moment
I inhale
every part of you
Black, looming clouds
tiny buds
and full blooms
I open wide
my Self to you
I laugh out loud
open my mouth
to the rain
I am full
and overflowing, spilling
out to you.
Finally I See
The space
that knows
no end
I bow to you, sweet moment
Again and again
And again


 
Yesterday afternoon i had a moment of such sweetness. It's been hot hot hot here the last several days and because we have the gift of having a river right here in our little town, my family & i sunblocked up, grabbed some rafts and floated the afternoon away. We bought the girls their own little floats, ones they could actually lie down on (pillow & all) & roped their little raft onto our bigger one. The sun was blazing but with the coolness of the water and the slight breeze, it was just right.

At one point, when we pulled off on a little beach to snack & swim, i let my body fall all the way into the water, flipped over on my back & just let the current carry me. I didn't have to do a thing but lie there. It was such giddy freedom to let go like that, to completely allow my body be carried downstream. And with my ears submerged in the water, it was the quietest kind of quiet.

At one point, there was quite a distance between me and my family's little rafts & i got the slightest bit panicked but then i just flipped over on my back and let go again.

The above poem is one i wrote a while ago--it rose to the surface as i was submerged in that flowing, healing coolness.

Life is so very precious--the reminders have been all around me lately.

A person very dear to me just learned that her nephew took his own life--he was only 25. Right about this time last year, my husband's cousin ended his own life.

I've been following the story of a woman who was in a plane crash a couple of years ago and nearly lost her life but survived. She is the mother to four children, has been through more pain than i can imagine but her spirit still soars. She started blogging prior to her accident and continues to do so.  I just stopped by her blog and learned that it's been two years today since that plane crash--she has written a beautiful post and has dedicated this day, August 16th, as a day to celebrate life.  You can watch her heartbreaking & incredibly inspiring video here: 

I'm saying a lot here because there is a lot stirring in me...deep, aching sadness for those that don't feel loved enough to live, beautifully inspired by someone who can be an amazing mom/wife & be totally full of love--despite being severely burned, despite extreme pain.  And overflowing gratitude for the many many blessings that surround me.

I so want to spread joy while i'm living on this earth. I so want to savor the preciousness of this life. I so want each & every person on this earth to feel their worth, to feel loved. 

I want to let go of the things that don't really matter and bow to the things that do--again and again and again.

Sending my love to you, dear readers.  May you travel happily downstream today.  May you let go and let go again of all that no longer serves you/that holds you back/that keeps you small.  May you inhale every single sweet moment.  And may you feel fully & deeply loved. 

Please know that you are precious.

Friday, August 13, 2010

fearLESS Friday with Suzanne Wright

Week 10

A few weeks ago my friend Suzanne & i met for some appetizers/drinks and reconnecting time.  It had been several months since we had seen one another and we had some catching up to do.  We talked about art & about why trying to be "good" at art/creativity so often is what paralyzes us & holds us back. 

We shared stories about moments when we've felt the most peace and what we might do to create a little more heaven-ish-ness here on earth.  I told her a little bit about fearLESS Friday & the inspiration behind it.  It was a very sweet evening.

A few days later, i received the below email from Suzanne...it totally made me smile.  I'm so happy you tossed everything aside & took that plunge, Suzanne.  Thank you for sharing the beauty of that sacred moment with us.

*          *          *


Dear Julia,

This happened today so I had to write it up for you:

Braced for a long day of work, my schedule dense with clients, I pushed the red button on the answering machine. Two cancellations! In a row! This would be the day I finally follow that isolated trail I discovered when I was walking my dog, Bear, a few months back. I switched out my Birkenstocks for the funny-looking camo-print Keds sneakers, even though they looked ridiculous with my paisley knit work dress. At the trailhead, I placed a hand on the fuzzy bark of a redwood that reached so high I knew it could talk to heaven. I asked it to help me ground quickly, because this would be a short break.

I followed the trail as it wound to an increasingly isolated area, the sounds of the children playing growing softer and more distant. To my right beyond the bushes I heard a splash so small it sounded like my imagination. I ducked under a fence and followed a narrow trail that opened to reveal a deep green slow-moving stream. The path lead me, hopeful and yet disbelieving, to an open rocky beach. In all the thirteen years I have lived here, I have longed for a quiet spot to rest beside moving water. The wide Willamette could not nurture a quiet spirit as little hidden green jewel of water could.

The water eased past the beach, and as I neared, I noticed a shallow rocky ledge just a foot beneath the surface that dropped into a deeper green. I kicked off my Keds and walked onto the submerged ledge to receive my blessing.

As I looked into that inviting water, knowing what it would feel like to be immersed in the coolness on this hot day, a sign blazed in my brain like a well-lit billboard on a dark highway. Fearless Friday! Julia’s words teased me to taking a plunge back into myself, my old way of life, when skinny-dipping was just something I did every day during a break or after work in the high Sierra Mountains in summers past.

After a quick check in all directions, my pretty paisley dress was in a heap by the shore with all kinds of city-dweller under things. I lunged in with a kid-happy grin and paddled around, realizing that I didn’t have a towel, and would have to air dry on the shore, hoping no one would come this way, and not really caring about it anyway.

One quick plunge, one fearless action, one baptism in joy, one return trip to self.

On the walk out, I placed my hand on the fuzzy bark of the tall cedar, and patted it with a “thank you,” and a grin of a secret shared.

Fearless Friday. Thanks Julia

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Embrace


Here's my latest creation:

***This scan did not pick up the shimmery-ness.  In real life this little guy looks like he is outlined in a shiny golden light--especially when the real sun hits him--same with the painted sun.

Embrace

This word feels very significant to me right now.

I want so much to embrace it all; each cuddling up moment with my little ones, the soft sweetness of their skin, their little hands that are still tiny enough to fit inside mine, each giggle & question asked.   Each breath of cool morning air, all the health & abundance that surrounds.  The sunshiny sky.  The warm presence of my husband.  The body that i have--the one that sees and hears and walks and talks and knows what i need if i slow down enough to listen.

It's not always easy to embrace what is right before me.  Very often i'm so busy trying to be that i forget to simply be.  I get so focused on trying to do more & trying to do better, i forget to notice all that i am doing.

 I am focusing on embracing the gifts of this very moment, the ones that are right before my seeing eyes; the moss covered oak trees, the coolness coming through the open window, the wind chimes playing their music, the calm of this quiet house.  I can see these gifts very clearly when i  look up and around and inside and slow down enough to breathe them in.

In this moment, i very much embrace it all.  I think this sweet elephant does too.

What are you embracing today?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Feeling Held


"Nothing heals us like letting people know our scariest parts: When people listen to you cry and lament, and look at you with love, it's like they are holding the baby of you."   Anne Lamott


My precious little ones
5 years ago, sisters meet for the very first time


Oh, sweet people.  I had to jump on here this morning & let you know how held & loved i felt with your comments on my last post...such warmth & sweetness. 

I realize that when i hold something back i am typically judging it as not good. So instead of looking at it and accepting it and releasing it out into the world, i hold it in and the yuckiness just gets bigger.  I'm realizing more and more that telling the truth really does set me free. It just feels good.

Thank you for listening and holding the baby of me.  I really believe that what we do for each other, we do for ourselves.  And what we do for ourselves, we do for each other.

Below are some words by Pema Chödrön from her amazing & comforting book When Things Fall Apart, she says it so well.


"It starts with being willing to have a compassionate relationship with the parts of ourselves that we feel are not worthy of existing on the planet. If we are willing through meditation to be mindful not only of what feels comfortable, but also of what pain feels like, if we even aspire to stay awake and open to what we're feeling, to recognize and acknowledge it as best we can in each moment, then something begins to change."   Pema Chödrön

and some more:

The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes. "   ~Pema Chödrön

Friday, August 6, 2010

fearLESS Friday

Week 9

 Photo taken by Kevin Moul         Taos, New Mexico (one of my favorite places on earth)

...a little fearless truth telling.

I have to admit i've been losing my steam for this blog lately.

A fellow blogging friend (who i have not yet met in person but feel like i know deep down) & i were conversing the other day (via email) about the ups and downs and the all-over-the-place-ness of blogging, and this is what she said:

"I thought about letting the blog go a few times because I get confused and wonder what I am doing. I mean is it worth it? Does anybody care? What am I doing?"

These same words could have come out of my mouth.  I've had this blog for almost 3 years and have thought about all of this a lot. I realize that ultimately it's got to feed me (or the actual person who is doing the blogging).   As with anything i choose to spend my time doing, i want it to be energizing rather than draining.

It's a sensitive thing, and not always an easy thing, to put your words/pictures/art out there for anyone to see; open to comment or criticism, or, (very often in my case) silence. 

And then there is the comparison stuff that comes up and can be very yucky and painful...why do they have so many more readers than me? Why can someone else write about what kind of body products they use and receive 48 comments? Oh, look at their art...i could never do that.

And on and on.

As with anything that begins to bring up emotions that don't feel so good, i like to look closely.  What's really going on here?  Where is this yuckiness coming from? 

And here are my thoughts so far.  I know that one of the things i value deeply is connection.  This has always been the case for me.  In college, i was the one up into the wee hours of the morning--still talking, still trying to figure out and understand the deep questions of life, wanting to know what you (as in whomever i might be talking to) feel and care about, way deep down.  I never wanted a conversation to end.  I guess this blog has been my way of having a very long conversation.

Another reason i started blogging is that it feels good to honor my words/art by getting them out of notebooks and closets and put them in published form--that feels very satisfying.  And it keeps me writing and thinking creatively. 

But here's the thing-- these things could be accomplished by doing a blog  just for me, not opening it to the public.  But i chose to open it up for anyone to read, and i know i did that because i value connection so much. 

And, right in this moment, as i write this, i'm realizing how many connections i have made; beautiful, deep, sweet, full-of-soul-connections, with so many who have happened to stumble upon my blog (and i theres). These connections may not come in the form of the comments i've been craving, or having a huge following, but in the form of deep, intimate & connecting friendships.

It's funny how we so often look passed what's right in front of us.

Hmmmm...so my little ones are up and want breakfast now, and since this is fearLESS Friday and since this is my blog and since there are no rules here, i'm not going to tie this up in a neat little bow.  I feel like i've been upset and frustrated lately with this blog because i didn't feel that connectedness that i was craving but i haven't been looking quite closely enough.   Writing this has helped me to look and release and be honest.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Journey

Lots of voices shouting over here. Plenty of bad advice. Fear scattered all over the place. Feeling the old tug of doubt. Wondering what on earth i'm doing with my life. (Career wise)  Feeling like i'm not enough. Like i'm not doing enough.

Frustrations. Impatience.  Wanting.  Resisting.  Reaching---- for clarity.  And peace.

Knowing it will come. 

My little ones have gone to their aunt's for a couple of days. 

Tomorrow i will stop doing.  I will lie in the hammock and stare at the trees and sky.  I will listen to the bird sounds.  I will breathe big, deep breaths.   And try to find the humor in these crazy ups & downs.  And my mind will get a little quieter.

And i will feel better.  I'm sure.

It's a comfort to know that Mary Oliver understood.


The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.