No, those aren't weirdly-colored taco chips, they are unfinished KNITTED KNOCKERS. I've written about them in the blog before (and I hope you will click on the link above and read about them). They are hand-knitted, soft cotton breast prostheses for women who have survived breast cancer. That's the current crop that I've knitted. They are "unfinished" because the final step is stuffing each one with polyester filling, at which point they look uncannily like breasts. However, I'm about to mail off this batch, and to save postage, I mail them un-stuffed. They'll get stuffed when they reach their Washington destination, and then each one will be mailed, free, to a woman who has requested it. I really love making these.
Because my schedule is so unpredictable right now, and because I am living in two places, I can't do any rug hooking or any of my usual creative pursuits, but I can grab my very small knitting bag (pictured on the upper right) and I can make a knocker anywhere. It's about all I can do. Because I've learned the pattern, these are stress-relieving no-brainer tiny projects and they make me feel great as I make them.
Helping me, and helping the recipient.
If you knit (or crochet--there's a crochet pattern for them also), please consider making some. The need is great.
I've been in caught in a maelstrom of activity: First spending time with my Woolies, then driving out of state to attend an amazing workshop, then home to officially close on the condo.
I am now a home owner. Gulp.
I've been packing like a crazy woman, loading up the car, and driving across the state and back several times. I'm completely immersed in the early stages of the mess of moving. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
First there was the Wooly Bully meeting the Friday before Martin Luther King weekend. Here are some shots of the rugs we've been working on:
Then on Saturday of Martin Luther King day weekend, I drove to Vermont to take a paste-paper journal workshop with Nancy Shepherd. It was not an good time for me to be doing this, given the messy transition I'm in, but I had signed up for it several months in advance--before I knew what the future held. More importantly, I had been wanting to take this workshop for about 20 years (seriously), after my friend Georg made many such journals and gave me several. Here is a photo of all the journals produced by the students over this three-day workshop:
Below are all the paste papers I made on the first day of the workshop. They are laid out on newspaper to dry.
I wish I'd had a chance to photograph everyone's papers, but I was only able to snap my own.
Here are the front covers of the journals I made, and their bindings:
I have to say I was thrilled beyond belief to learn how to do this. My only wish is that had the time now to practice with all the other papers I created. But that will have to wait until after I move and unpack--so the earliest that I'll be getting back to this will be summer. Phooey. Not only that, but I don't have room to store the new papers because I'm packing everything up; I had to store all of them in my hosts' house in Vermont.
This would be a good time to say a hearty thank-you to my two kind and talented hosts, Sadelle and Ann. Not only did they put me up (or more accurately, "put up with me" !!) but they went way above and beyond with great conversation and excellent home cooking. "Num num num," as Cookie Monster would say. And then there were the Sweetie-Pie Doggie, the Cat Who Must Be Obeyed, and the Shy Timid Kitty, who were really lovely. Thank you Sadelle and Ann for making this possible.
But wait, there's more...
Coming back from Vermont, I drove to the condo for a pre-purchase walk-through, then drove back to Boston. The following day I signed all the final papers to officially buy it. 24 hours later, I left Boston and drove back to the condo and stayed for two nights. Then back here for a couple of days, then out there again for two more nights. Taking stuff with me each trip...lots of packing, hauling, moving. I'm exhausted and feel like a ping-pong ball. I'm sure it will all be worth it, but this is not easy. Here are some views:
Oh, and in between all this, two wonderful signs somehow sneaked into this post. The first is my favorite sign from the women's march:
Next I saw this sign (below) in front of my friend Elizabeth's store, and promptly went online HERE and ordered my own copy to download.
That's my (current) story, and I'm sticking to it.
All I can say is, thank goodness for meditation.
I need a vacation.
Lovely snow over the weekend, but oh-so-cold. As I walked through my freezing kitchen this morning I spotted this guy out my back door. I'll be thinking of him as the Snow Buddha from now on. He reminded me to make the best of things, including the chaos I'll be experiencing for the next few months.
I doubt I can live up to his attitude. But I'll do my best.
Meanwhile, in starting to pack yesterday I had to roll up one of the small rugs to make room for boxes. This is a tiny rug I hooked a long, long time ago. I haven't measured it in ages but I'm guessing it's something like 2.5 feet by 18". That's probably way off, but you get the idea--it's small. It's also a long-time favorite of mine. This is just a partial view of it. When I was making it, I was lucky enough to know and live relatively near to Pat Merikallio, a fabulously talented colorist, artist, and rug maker. She now lives on the West Coast, but she was kind enough to help me with the color planning and I am a forever fan of her color instincts and all her rugs. Thank you, Pat!
But alas, just look at the binding. Yikes. I confess I've known for awhile that it was disintegrating and have been too lazy to address it. Once I get myself moved I will make it a priority. I may even have some of the original wool.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that adjusting my attitude and "fixing things" are common themes for me. I was just reading this quote from Jack Kornfield about meditation, which has implications for both these themes: "Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it's not like you're going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened."
Which I certainly am not. Maybe someday?
The exhibit is active and on the move. "Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana" has traveled widely and still has far to go.
On February 4th, the exhibit is opening from 2-4 pm at the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge Township, NJ.
To see previous posts on these rugs, including photographs and commentary on each, click HERE.
2016 was a very tough year. No matter which "side" you were on in the brutal election season, it was tough on all of us. The results of the election devastated and terrified me, and many others, on behalf of the future of our people and our planet.
But I cannot move forward or act effectively if I continue to live in this place of devastation and terror.
So, my word for 2017 is: ACCEPTANCE.
Now before those of you who share my political views take umbrage, please bear in mind that "ACCEPTANCE" DOES NOT IMPLY "APPROVAL" or "AGREEMENT." But if we are to take right action on any situation, we must first see the situation clearly as it is. In other words, a gray sky is gray, even if we would prefer it to be blue. The traffic jam we are caught in is indeed a traffic jam, no matter how much we'd prefer to be speeding down the highway. Do we have to like it? No. Agree with it? NO. But in order to deal with it, we have to accept that it is what is happening in this moment. That's where we are.
So, now what?
I've been pondering this and looking for good resources on acceptance. Tara Brach's books, like True Refuge, are on my reading list. I am observing how consistently people confuse Acceptance with Agreement. They are NOT the same. Acting from a place of denial or blind rage produces terrible results, and is one consequence of not being willing to face things "as they are" in order to choose the best possible action.
I know whereof I speak. I've just spent the entire last month refusing to accept the way things are in my life. With predictably ineffective and poor results. It's time to face reality.
I hasten to add that I have a l-o-n-g way to go to achieve any sort of acceptance, but I plan to be focusing on it. 2017 is going to be a challenging year for me, not just because of the election results but because I am relocating after many years in one place. I need to remember what one good friend was saying to herself yesterday: "Stay in the now. Stay in the now. Stay in the fucking NOW." (She was talking about her acceptance of her own temporary medical issue, but it applies 100% to me as well.) Anyone who knows me and has been around me lately knows how far away I am from achieving the wisdom and peace that acceptance can bring.
The Buddhists have the best perspective on this, and here are some short online pieces that I have found useful. You do not have to be Buddhist to appreciate these thoughts:
1. Support yourself through the learning process
2. See things for what they really are
3. Take things less personally
4. Don’t confuse acceptance with a statement of preference
5. Get used to the way things actually are
6. See acceptance as the ability to relax around things
7. See acceptance as something you do for yourself
8. Recognise that something good comes out of acceptance
9. See challenges as part of a story that is cool in some ways
10. Recognise that flaws belong to the nature of things
11. See flaws as the price for an overall package you can accept
12. Imagine how much worse some things could have been
13. Start to laugh at things more often
14. Practise detachment from thoughts
15. Practise simple contentment with the present moment
16. Remember that nothing lasts forever
I'll be focusing on Acceptance this year, which means I hope to be clearer and more effective at seeing when things need to change (and when they don't), and how best to act to change them. My meditation practice will help, and I hope my friends will feel free to remind me of this focus when I lose it.
“Sometimes you just have to regret things and move on.”
― Charlaine Harris
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society