Friday, December 28, 2007

The Labyrinth Of The Muse ... Letting Art Lead The Way...



Last night I had a date with my Moleskine Watercolour Notebook...






And I thought and thought. I was thinking about all of the issues I have been writing about lately. Should I just do wearable art and nothing else and take forever to make one piece? It's not a matter of rushing so I can make money, it's a matter of stifling many other talents for the one. And suddenly it didn't seem right. They say, "It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind." I'd rather say, "It's an artist's responsibility to follow her Muse..."

I have changed the name of my etsy store many times. Changed it to be catchier, to highlight the wearable art I've been creating, expanded it to allow for items of a different sort, and kept going back and forth until finally I was so confused I had no clue what to do, so I shut the store down temporarily until after the New Year when I could begin to understand what it was I was supposed to do.

I felt led by the Muse down one lane around a corner and into the center where I was lost and could not find my way out. And then I realized that it was because I was still trying to listen to the outside world. People's expectations, do's and don'ts, wanting to make money but refusing to sell out and do things that were not important to me. I sat on the ground in the middle of the labyrinth and was very, very quiet, and suddenly I stood up and I heard it. A lyrical lute-like music, it was the notes of my art singing to me. It called to me and led me down each new corridor, and with each turn down a new path I realized yet another piece of art that I love, that I do, that is available to me, and I realized that I was trying to put myself in a box because I was excited about something I was doing that I really wanted to do. And I will still be making wearable art. But these pieces take a very long time to make as all the yarns must be handspun on spindles blending many fibers and then allowing time for the twist to set. And in the meantime I could be doing other things. And I wanted, in that moment, to paint. And I got out my Moleskine notebook (These are the only ones I use and they have several different types. They were used by Hemingway, Bruce Chatwin, Picasso and many more artists and writers through time. I adore them and always have one with me to sketch, make lists, doodle... The Moleskines, the watercolors and black pens were all I needed and I sat to work and simply lost myself in the overflowing joy of creation.).

I knit, I crochet, I do freeform in both, I weave, I do whimsical little paintings for joy and to discover something or work something through in my mind. I embroider, I embellish, I make wild little dolls, I make jewelry. How could I ever have imagined that I would do one thing and cut myself off from all that I loved. And because the wearable art pieces take so long to make, it will be a lovely thing to have smaller pieces to work on as I am spinning the yarn and sketching the piece that the wearable art will be while working on other items so that I can keep working and growing and fill my store with all kinds and sorts of items of different prices and make a more balanced store. I am very excited about this.

Last night the words came to me (I have been listening to the 4 c.d.'s of Rhonda Byrnes The Secret over and over and over again...) and I was thinking about how we are all energy, everything is energy, and each form of work I do is another kind of energy, and to cut off the flow of any of the kinds of energy that were part of me would be a terrible mistake. I needn't think too hard about it. When we think we become afraid and we freeze up. If we open our heart and let a piece of art flow into us and through us and draw us back out again and simply follow where it leads us, we will find our way out of the labyrinth, and find the true center of our being. I am an artist. I need not limit that to one artform. Each one will lead me down a new path so that I can find myself again.

And so it came to me, "If everything is energy, does my tea flow into me?" Again, this is somewhere between a rhetorical question and a Zen koan, because the answer is so much bigger than the simple question. Everything is energy, and my tea and my work and my life and my art flow into me and back out again in a constant round. To stop the flow in any direction is to stop a part of oneself, and this is not good, nor healthy, nor kind to yourself. It does not lead us in to the practice of maitri where we first find love for ourselves so that we have it to give to another. We cannot be compassionate to another unless we have found it first for ourselves. And we cannot create, whether art, life, our homes, the world around us, until we are truly in that state of grace.

Yes, my tea flows into me, and I into it, and we into the world around us, and it swirls back around and feeds and comforts us and from a full cup we give to the world around us. Opening up to all the venues of my art has been teaching me this.

My little paintings will be a nightly meditative exercises and I already know what I am painting tonight. I will share it and other portions of my work right here, and they will help me make manifest my work, my dreams, my aspirations in life.

Namaste. Let me pour you a cup of tea...

Maitri


Friday, December 21, 2007

Becoming Comfortable With Your Art, Your Process, Yourself...





In every piece of art that we create, we are allowing a piece of ourselves to escape from it's hiding place, and the world discovers something about us that they never knew before. This is harder than it sounds, and absolutely necessary.

Almost a week ago I wrote about working on Cecelia. I wrote about needing to undo the work that I had done on the tail. I then worked for the better part of this last week doing very intricate beading and crochet work for the face, and while babysitting my little 3 1/2 year old grandson today did another hour and a half's worth of work and then stopped cold. I had totally overdone the piece. I was horrified. I realized in that moment that I was trying to tell Cecelia's story and she needed to tell her own.

With a piece like this, the more you do to it, the more involved the design, the less "scope for the imagination," as Anne of Green Gables would have said, you allow the wearer of the piece to have, and that place of imagination is not only a gift, it is that space, that swinging bridge, between what the artist creates, what it means to her, and what the buyer/wearer needs inside herself when she wraps it around her and completes the cycle of bringing the work to fruition. I create the piece, but it truly becomes all that it was meant to be when it is wrapped around the new owner and she dreams it into reality, her reality. As an artist that is not my business. My job is to follow my instincts, allow the piece to lead me where it wants to go, and then get out of the way and let it fulfill the needs, wants, and dreams of the one it was meant for.

Today I had to look deep into the mirror of my inner artist's soul and discover why I was trying so hard to make this piece something so much more than it needed to be, as if I were trying to prove something to myself. And then I realized that I didn't need to prove a thing, I just needed to be, and to follow the process, follow my inner calling, listen to my own music. A good teaching coming from the Patron Saint of Music.

I realized, near midnight, when I took the dogs out on a last chilly walk before we soon head up to bed, that the excitement of finally beginning to create wearable art, something that I have been wanting and planning to do the last few years but could never seem to get started on, all of a sudden froze me because to do it right is to do it slowly, and I started the etsy store and it now sits empty because there's no way to turn these pieces out quickly, and I took the little bags down I'd made awhile back because they really didn't fit the tone of what I was hoping my work would project. This is very important to me. Good. That is one thing I have learned and said out loud. Now I have to decide if it's better to let a store sit empty and have only one or 2 pieces at a time, or to close the shop and just sell from my website. Even when I create big bags which are in their own way wearable art, or other pieces different than what I am doing now, they will still be long processes and I, like any other artist who wants to eat, hence make money, wants it to go faster! You can't rush the process. The art will arrive at the finish line when the time is right and not a moment sooner. Okay, I get it.

When I decided to create one-of-a-kind pieces, and handspin designer yarns for every piece, I knew that each and every piece would be a long journey, but I was completely unprepared for the deep teachings involved. As soon as you start a piece you have taken the first steps on yet another shamanic journey, and the places you will go may be scary. Now I have to not only finish pulling out the tail and watching my beautiful yarn unravel, I have to completely undo the intricate crocheting and beading I have done to date on the face. I was numb with shock when I realized this, and then I heaved a big sigh of relief. Some part of me knew all along it wasn't right and I kept pushing on.

I suppose that is human nature, and all too often we push on and on and on to our own detriment. Taking apart all of the work I have done on the embellishment, and then redoing it, will be a very deep teaching, a very slow meditative process, an essential journey, and will make my work much better in the long run. I am grateful to have come to this place, even though it means a lot more work, and a good way to go yet to reach the finish line, but that's okay. Where am I going anyway? Everyone is always rushing, rushing, rushing. For some long time my motto has been, "How slow can you go?" It is something between a rhetorical question and a Zen koan, but it is what I need to learn. Every day I need to learn to go slower, and the piece that I am creating will reflect the deep relief in having allowed it to breathe and become at it's own pace. It will be felt by the person wearing it.

I have become comfortable, I think, now, with my work and my process, and I am even becoming comfortable with myself. Perhaps one has to go miles and miles further than they think they should so that they have to backtrack, slowly, counting all the unnecessary steps and seeing, really seeing, all the paths we erroneously followed along the way. Mistakes are good, they are how we learn. Once we truly understand that, we will have taken a great leap in growth. Cecelia will be a wonderful piece of work, and I will be a better artist for this journey.

Time is relative and art cannot be based on a quick buck. Every artist chooses how he or she will work and there is no one right way, there are many different ways, and our job is to find and follow what works for us. For me, going slowly and letting the fibers in my hands make music like the strings on a cello is the only way to go, to grow, to deepen as an artist. Deep, vibrant, resonant, lasting notes that hang in the air, those notes the cello produces. Once heard, they are not forgotten. Tomorrow I will finish the undoing and begin again, begin anew, and Cecelia will find her true face, and I will better see my own reflection in the mirror.

Sweet dreams to all of you who are still up. The dogs and I are going to bed.

Maitri

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Necklace That Had To Be Made ~ The Holy Hand...




"Holy Hand" necklace, made of citrine,
rose quartz, fresh water pearls, and old
tradewind beads from Nagaland in deep
yellow with old carved "Henna Hand"
from Indonesia...




For the last few days the hand has been haunting me. I used to make jewelry to sell, nearly 10 years ago, and had quite a large stash of antique and vintage beads and pieces to make jewelry with. I sold most of the ones with my bone pieces except for 2, and this old "Henna Hand" from Indonesia has been calling to me, louder and louder and louder so that last night I told my dear sister-friend Noreen that I HAD to make it and she said YOU SHOULD!

Well, what with trying to get Cecelia finished and having to rip out her whole tail and start over, and then having spent 3 hours on her nose for heaven's sakes, I really felt like I ought to be finishing Cecelia, which certainly I will do and soon, but this necklace was calling to me like a siren in the sea and when I finally put it on, after having to string it twice (I first strung it on silk bead cord which immediately broke.... sigh... that's a lot of beads. The necklace is 30" long, the hand itself, 2".) I felt this whoooosh of beautiful energy. Very powerful stones, very powerful imagery in the hand, and as all of my work is done with my hands, and I have a very large tattoo on the back of my right/writing hand to always remind me to use my writing for spiritual good, hand symbols are very holy to me. Here is a closeup of the bottom of the necklace with the details of the hand seen more closely...







It's funny, the things that draw us, and how they come at very specific times. I was telling Noreen last night that this has been a rather phenomenal time for me. First of all I have been doing this fiber project and that for the last 3 years and while I was happy with the outcome and sold a lot of them, nothing really clicked. I've sold on eBay and etsy and locally, but nothing ever hit me just right, gave me that "This is IT! This is what I'm supposed to be doing!" until I started making the Rainbow Serpents (And I now only call them serpents because people kind of recoil from the word *snake* and in my mind, the serpents I am creating are more mythical, spiritual creatures with very positive connotations...) and something magical happened when I did. In fact, a lot of magical things happened.

The work that I couldn't get going is going like wildfire. The first one sold before it was finished and the buyer was going to buy it sight unseen until I insisted she let me take pictures and let her SEE it first! (She still bought it after seeing pictures of it not quite finished! And then wrote a beautiful note for me to share here with readers about how she feels about the magical Beatrix!) Cecelia is almost finished now as well and I've already had 2 requests of interest about her but she is not yet sold. And while all of this was going on, my fiber studio, which looked like a hurricane blew through and I couldn't get into it is now all cleaned up and organized and I can get to everything and it is changing the whole face of my work and it is as if everything is going at warp speed (...even though an individual serpent takes weeks to make. The first one was 8' long and the new one is over 5' long, with many, many handspun yarns spun especially for the piece. As a yarn designer this is very exciting work.), and it's as if a domino effect is happening, which affirms what we all know -- when it's right, it's right. When you find your true vocation/avocation, everything falls in to place to make it so. You know what they say, "Do what you love and the money will follow." I really believe this is true.

And so today I return to the work of finishing Cecelia. And then the next serpent will begin to manifest. The revelation of the new being coming into the world is pure magic.

Find your work. Find the work that calls to you. Don't mind other people telling you that you are crazy or this or that will never sell. Go with your heart. If you follow your heart you will never go wrong. And it will unfold in it's right and perfect time.

I follow my heart, and I follow my hands, and they are holy...

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessings to All...

Maitri

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Artist Learns About Patience From A Pug... And the prophet, Kahlil Gibran...




Sampson, who thinks rushing is ridiculous...



It's true, when it comes to my work, I am a perfectionist. I have no compunctions about ripping something out and starting over, including taking the yarns apart that I am designing, and beginning again. I used to feel a little anxious about this because since I began making wearable art I've had people wanting to buy the pieces before they were finished (This is happening again with Cecelia, leading me to think I might close my etsy shop which is currently empty because I can't seem to get things in there before they sell...). If this happens, I will move the Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio to my main Dragonfly Cottage website where it will still retain it's own url and simply have it's own page there.

In any case, yesterday I did Cecelia's face. I knew it wasn't finished but the basics are there. Then I worked all day long on a very elaborate freeform design on the tail. (This is on top of the piece you've seen.) Wellsir, I got finished, took one look at it, and began ripping it out and one of the spindles of the yellowish yarn with a dozen fibers in it started coming apart as I did. Henry, the grey parrot, looked horrified, but Sampson looked up, shrugged his shoulders, and went back to sleep, as you see above. Coco, the Garment Inspector, whom you saw in the last entry, arched one eye at me and said, "It's not finished until it's finished. There's no rushing art." So I shrugged and worked for hours carefully undoing the intricate design I'd worked all day doing. I'll still have to take most of the day finishing the undoing and redoing the doing! But I will feell much better about it.

No, you can't rush art. Art lives. It needs to find form. It comes from the center of our beings and is made manifest almost in spite of us. These are holy pieces that I am honored to be allowed to create, and truly, that's the way I see it. It reminds me of the Kahlil Gibran chapter from The Prophet that always makes me cry, that I read aloud to my children, that guided me as a mother, and that I gave to my own daughter when she was pregnant with my grandson. It is from a chapter called, On Children... It spoke to me as a mother, it speaks to me as an artist.



On Children...


And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children." And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.



May Sarton once said that she didn't write novels to tell people something, but to answer a question for herself. Perhaps I am seeking answers as I birth these works of art, and I am blessed in the knowledge that I am being taught more than I ever expected.

So today I will continue to work on Cecelia, and she will be ready when she is ready...

Maitri

Monday, December 10, 2007

Intuitive Improvisational Art... Cecelia Takes The Lead...



It all started so simply. I was making a Rainbow Serpent named Cecelia. I got this far and ran out of yarn so had to put her back on Anastasia (My vintage dressform...) while I spun up another large spindle of the Turquoise yarn, a blend of wools and Cotswold curls. She was coming along quite nicely...








As I was spinning the big spindle of the turquoise blend I was *told* (by the Muse...) that I needed a lighter, brighter, sparkly edge. It took 2 weeks to spin 3 spindles of this yarn because there are 12 fibers in this yarn and I had to lay it out about 3 feet at a time, layer all the elements, spin, and start over again. So finally I had all the yarn I needed to finish all but the face and I was ready to start in again. Here's the yarn, ready to go...










I was anxious to start but my Garment Inspector, Coco, had to check over the work finished so far to make certain there were no embarrassing errors. She's very particular and hard to please.... sigh... There's no being a slacker with Coco in the studio.









I was really tickled to get started. With the piece so far laid out with the spindles around it to picture what the new edge would look like, pleased with the colors and how the piece was unfolding, I was ready to go...









But... the Muse had other ideas... I crocheted the rest of the turquoise yarn around the unfinished part of that edge, wove in the edges, and picked up the first of the spindles of the yellow blend, sparkly yarn, and all of a sudden -----






Click on the above picture to get a larger view...



--- the new yarn started finding it's way around the black center of the serpent! I was absolutely startled! I had no idea at all that this was where the yarn wanted to go, and I am loving it. I wish you could really see how sparkly it is, and this piece is really heavy. Heavy in a comfortable, comforting way. This serpent will most definitely protect you and keep you grounded.

So once again, art has it's way with me. I think it will be done by the end of the week, but I'm whispering that. I really do want to get it up in the shop before it turns into a full length cloak...


....... sssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh .......


Maitri, sneaking out, crochet hook in hand, not looking back over shoulder...


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Living In Your Studio vs. Working From Home ~ Finding The Holy Fires Within You...


(An expanded, much updated version of an earlier entry...)



"In reality the main purpose of life is to raise everything that is profane to the level of the holy... When you walk across the fields with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things and all animals, the sparks of their soul come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you."

~ Martin Buber ~






The corner in which I spend most of my time is like getting into
the cockpit of an airplane to get to my computer with work all
around me. I have always worked this way. I think it
makes me feel secure, and it sure is handy!




When I was a young mother in a family of five, I was lucky to have a space I shared in a room with my husband that was part my office and part his music room, where his grand piano and all of his other musical equipment resided. Eventually as we moved hither and yon I got my own office space and I couldn't have been happier, a little room of my own. And finally, I was middle aged, my children grown and off into their own lives, and divorced, and I looked around at my little cottage and said, "Holy Moses, this is all mine!" And that began the transition from working at home to living in my studio. My work, my books, all of the various elements of my fiber work spread out all over the place, and, with the exception of my tiny galley sized kitchen, downstairs bath the size of a postage stamp, and bedroom and bath upstairs (...and my rolltop desk and two spinning wheels found a home in my bedroom!) every other area of Dragonfly Cottage became Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio and my personal space, meaning what was left over after what the 5 parrots and 4 dogs took up, is my living space. It is the size of a light bulb comparatively speaking, but I'm not complaining. I quite like it this way!





The cubby holes and bins full of fiber with a few of my
spindles and whatnots that are less that 2 feet to my left...






And on the table to my left are spindles full of yarn just spun...



Most of my large collection of hand-spindles are in old tin coffeepots and teapots and flower vases and the like in my hallway, that connect the front door to the main (and only) real room downstairs. The wall on the other side (The spindle cabinet is very narrow!) is hung with skeins of yarn and some art. Below you see the whole length of the hall down to the front door, and the little doorway into the kitchen.







And of course you need some guidance from time to time, and it's nice to have help...





Of course when I asked about helping, Moe was at least polite
and didn't say anything, but Sampson gave me the raspberries...
Good help is so hard to find these days...



Down from my cockpit area there is the mid-section which houses Anastasia, my vintage dressform in front of vintage bookshelves and makeshift cabinets, topped with African violets in old teapots and kettles, not to mention the tropical hibiscus that would have died in this cold weather but is blooming in December in this cozy little cottage. I furnished my items from junk stores, flea markets, consignment shops, things given to me from friends, and even amazing dumpster diving finds. In the end, I love this place so very dearly because it reflects so truly who I really am.






Just down from Anastasia are Henry and Solomon, my African Grey Parrot, and Blue Crown Conure, whose cages face out to the back patio and the 4 French doors...





When it comes to it, Henry is really the Alpha Male in the house,
calls all the dogs by names, taunts them, blows them kisses, and
generally spends a good bit of the day on my shoulder when he's
not playing on top of his cage or with Solomon...





And behind Henry and Sol's cages are my garden and
cook books (I do both food and garden writing, as well
as cooking and gardening.), more plants, hanging vines,
looms, artwork, and one of my favorite vintage mirrors.
There are looms all over the walls here, and what with
all the plants and birds it starts to look like an Amazon
Jungle in here, if you don't count the pugs everywhere.
Last time I checked there were few pugs in the jungle!





The other three parrots and more plants on the end of the room that
opens out onto the patio. See, I told you, fiber, books, animals, plants ~
not one inch of spare space.





There is simply no room for a Christmas tree in here, which is why I'm making a Christmas wreath for inside and I will have a real Christmas tree with outdoor lights filled with treats for the wild birds on the patio so I can enjoy the lights and they can enjoy their festive tree. The tree will be planted in a big barrel and while it won't root, it will be kept watered and alive in the cold air for some time. I once had a tree live inside until February and then a couple of months longer planted on the patio -- it even started growing baby pine cones -- and when it finally died come late spring I filled the pot with morning glory seeds and all autumn long it was a morning glory tree just about until it was time to get a new tree! The Christmas tree that lasted a year! I like the idea of sharing my tree with the wildlings, and soon will be melting suet to dip a lot of pinecones in that I've collected outside on my nature walks, and roll them and them cover them with birdseed and let them dry. These among other natural treats will be the tree's ornaments.

Today I cut a long length of wisteria vine that badly needing pruning, and wound it around and bound it and it is hanging above me here at my computer from my ceiling fan. I will cut fresh pine greens outside to fill the wreath, have little ornaments, handmade and tiny colorful balls, and when the greens die I will save the wisteria wreath base and bring it out each Christmas. I love the idea of that. I hope to get a bunch of tiny twinkly lights wound round it before I stick the greens in, and I hope to hang it over my little kitchen windows that face the street. Here it is drying and hardening off above me now...





I bop my head on it every time I stand up, but it's light and
I love the fresh aroma of the wisteria vine just cut. There's
a lot of nature indoors, as well as out, here...






Babs gives a disapproving look at the hanging
thing
and kind of gives it a "Bah, Humbug!" but I know
she'll get into the Christmas spirit when she see's
it all decorated and hung with doggie treats (instead
of candy canes) that the boys and girls will get on
Christmas morning...






Coco's main job is to look cute, lay on my feet and keep them
warm both under my little computer desk here as well as under
the covers at night. I used to wear socks to bed at night. Now I
wear a pug...




Finally, there is the upstairs fiber room which until recently you couldn't even walk into which all began a couple of Christmases back when in early December I fell down the stairs, broke both feet, was in 2 casts for 6 months, and couldn't make it up the stairs for 8 months. Everyone who came to help me - And God Bless Them! -- kind of tossed everything in there that they didn't know what to do with and finally you couldn't even walk into the room. My dear friend Jeff brought his helper Vanessa last week and finally got in there and got it organized for me and I shall be forever grateful. Now I can get to the fiber, yarn, loom, and work table. And, uhm, to say I've got a little fiber and yarn might be the understatement of the century. Here then is the final workspace, which leaves very little house left over! The pictures will go around the room...





Just as you walk into the room, on the right there are cabinets
that I organized some time back before "The Fall," filling the
drawers with small bags full of dyed wool, as well as dyed
Cotswold curls, Mohair curls, and other spinning and
weaving supplies (See below...).











Rounding the corner to the long wall these bins are floor to ceiling,
wall to wall, and 2 rows out, filled with fiber waiting to be cleaned,
cleaned fiber waiting to be dyed, dyed fiber waiting to be spun, and
all kinds of yarns...





On the opposite wall is my big Harrisville tapestry loom which I
warped and barely started weaving just a day or two before I broke
my feet. Coco looks dubiously at the whole operation, but I'm
anxious to get back to it...




So this is the whole of my little dwelling, far more studio than home, and yet home all the same, and I really love it here. It's very cozy and homey and doggy and bird-y and creativity brews in every direction imaginable with growing things all around and just outside the patio doors where we also seem to feed all the birds on this side of town with seven bird feeders, things keep pretty lively.

Tonight I will finish spinning the third spindle of yarn for the outer edge of Cecelia, and tomorrow will begin to crochet the turquoise edging and start on the face. Babs doesn't approve and thinks I should be in bed or something but I assure her that spinning and fiber work are very peaceful work to me, and very healing, and if she'll let me kiss her nose I'll give her a treat. She smiles a puggy grin then, and off we go...

Maitri


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Spinning The Earth, Healing The Heart ~ Elemental Art...




Several types of wool (Sheep); Silk, and Silk Noil (Silk Moths);
Ingeo (From Corn); Basket of spindles of yarn already spun ~
Spindles (Wood, Trees, Of the Earth)...



I have been spinning, this past week, the last yarn to finish the edge of Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, which I wrote about in the entry just below. I have also been very sick this week so the work has gone slow, and slower still because there are so many elements in this yarn that I'm spinning.

Different rovings (the processed wools) not only provide different colors, but different textures. The super silky ingeo made from corn slides through your fingers and gives the yarn a silky feel as does the silk, while the silk noils add texture and a kind of springy quality to the yarn. The spinning has gone slowly because of the way I layer all of the different elements and prepare them for spinning. There are 10 different fibers in this one yarn, and 3 of them are man-made, Angelina, a very irridescent fiber that makes the yarn sparkle. I seldom use it, but this edge was meant to be celestial in feel, otherworldly, like musical notes floating up into the air and out into the atmosphere as we know it, and beyond. There are 3 different colors of Angelina in this yarn. Similar, yet different colors. It is a very lively yarn, and if it takes awhile because of all of these different fibers, then so it will. And I will be spinning 3 spindles full of this yarn because the last yarn I spun, on the 5" wooden spindle, wasn't enough to go all around the last edge. I spun another spindle full of that yarn (You can see it in an entry below, the turquoise blend with Cotswold curls, very thick yarn.) as soon as I used what I had, and then set in on this new yarn.

Something occurred to me this week. Almost all of the materials I use are of the earth (... with the exception of the Angelina and other similar manmade fibers which I seldom use, lovely though they are...), even the tools I use, my spindles, and the crochet hooks I wrote about in an entry down further, the Gulliver Hooks made by Noreen Crone-Findlay, are hand-carved out of wood. I have a great many spoolknitters and other tools made by Noreen and her husband Jim, and the earthy feel of the wood feels so right in my hands. I live with many animals, there are plants everywhere, I like the feel of the soil in my hands in the garden, I love to collect things in Nature, and suddenly I realized that my art is of the earth, and it was a very deep thing to me.

Imagine the wool, coming from several different types of sheep, who have stood out in the rain, the sun, brambles caught in their wooly hair (we call this vegetable matter (VM), and it will still be found in cleaned and dyed fibers and needs to be picked out as I spin with a tweezers I keep nearby). Even the sheep, once shorn, send pieces of nature to the spinner to keep her grounded and connected to the earth.

Spindle-spinning is the most ancient form of spinning, long before there were wheels. I love spinning wheels, but I am more comfortable with a spindle in my hand, and when a spinner spins, she connects back and back and back through centuries of spinning women who came before her. It is a long lineage, spinners through the ages, and has an ancient feel that brings reverence and a bit of awe every time you watch piles of fiber around you becoming yarn.





This gorgeous spindle was
made by Gabe Jaramillo, and
among my favorite spindles...

Click on the picture above to
see a much bigger, clearer
picture of the yarn/spindle.



So spinning I go, and when I spin I dream, I think deeply about my life and all of the myriad pieces, which can leave one feeling jangled and pulled in too many directions. There is something very special about the fiber arts in that whether you are spinning, knitting, crocheting, weaving or other crafts, you are taking many different elements and making them all of a piece, you are weaving your life together again, as it were, and it is very peaceful and soothing. I have had a rollercoaster emotional life, and finally, truly settling into the fiber arts, has been one of the healthiest things I have ever done. We have the ability to heal ourselves if we truly immerse ourselves in our art. Art heals the heart.

Using the materials of the earth to spin the fiber to make wearable art also infuses it with an earthy, grounded feel, and this is good. The pieces themselves are heavy, comfortably so. I hand-spin very thick yarns so once crocheted around the edges, after making the core of the snake it settles in on your body as if protecting you. These pieces just have a wonderful feel to them. I received the wonderful affirmation from Mary, who bought the first Rainbow Serpent, and she affirmed this and it gave me the courage to continue on, following my intuitive leanings. Hopefully Cecelia will be up in the etsy shop by the end of this week.

I am having fun sharing my process with you along the way. There is so much else I want to share here, but with the holidays upon us, and the work that I do is slow and takes much time, I really need to concentrate on making as many things as I can. After Cecelia I am going to make the first Goddess Bag, made on an old antique basket loom. I have my own twist on the thing (I made one on this loom last year for my son's partner for Christmas.) and want to get some of these bags up for Christmas as well. The wearable art takes so long to make that I need smaller projects along the way so that I can get the 50% donation to MAPR section filled up.





19th Century Antique Basket Loom found in a very old barn at an
estate auction. Strings were so old they fell apart in my hands as I
was removing them. I will be making the Goddess Bags on this loom...



ALSO NOTE: I have redone my etsy shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio's "Wearable Art For The Spirit." As you know, 10% of all proceeds in the shop go to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue, and with the smaller items, $25 and under, 50% of the proceeds goes to MAPR. I am working on little amulet bags as well to add to these smaller items in the shop. I want to create as much income as I can for MAPR, and making small items gives me a break here and there from the big works. There are little Treasure Bags and Mini-Medicine Bags now. I just added a new one. There are 4 items in the store now but it will be filling up FAST!

The holidays are upon us. Take care of yourselves, be well, be gentle and loving and kind and feel it flowing back to you. 'Tis the season of love. May it fill your life and days...

Maitri


Monday, November 26, 2007

Wearable Art For The Spirit ... or ... Led By Rainbow Serpents Into The Holy Land Of Fiber...




Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, in process,
nearing completion. Click on image for a
larger, more detailed image...




First of all, I want to clarify something. When I say led by spirit I am referring to the deep inner knowing, the still small voice within, the intuitive artist's spirit, the one that, if we listen to it very closely, we will be led to do the work, and lead the life, that we were meant to lead.

I have always been an Intuitive Artist. I have never followed a pattern in my life. I have tried, but my mind doesn't work that way, my hands refuse, in fact, I am as surprised as anyone what something ends up being, but I trust the process. One other thing... when I refer to "Serpents" I refer to beautiful, powerful, deeply spiritual creatures. Yes, they follow the teachings of the Snake as Totem, but I am learning that they are more than that, and more than that I cannot say, because I am just learning about it as I go. The Dreamtime, as I wrote about a few entries back, comes from the Aboriginal People of Australia. I too live in my own Dreamtime, and all of my work is created there.

Some time back I read a quote that has stuck with me for years and I'm sorry to say I don't remember the author, but the quote was, "Trust the process, it's larger than you." Indeed it is.

Some of this I have said before, but I will repeat it so that I can give a more cohesive account of what has been happening to me. One day I sat piddling and fiddling around, working with my tools, spinning fiber just because and what I ended up making was a little snake, less than a foot long. I named her Cassandra and she lay on my computer keyboard looking up at me, much to my delight. For some time I had her in my etsy shop but my tiny 3 1/2 year old grandson was just in love with her so I pulled her from the shop and gave her to him. Even he holds her reverently and he whispered to me today, "I will take very good care of her." He is an extraordinary child and seems to feel and know things other children his age don't. She belongs with him. For me, she was the vehicle that led me into the work I was meant to do.

I have been a fiber artist for decades. I knit, weave, spin, and do all manner of things, and just this year started to crochet. I have begun to call my work Freeform, because that is the popular term of the day, but freeform for me is a very different thing than what is thought of as Freeform today. I would call what I do intuitive work because I have a feeling, I start absolutely clueless about what I am going to make. And something very strange has happened to me of late... my whole process with my work has turned inside out and upside down.

I love to spin, and as I use hand-spindles only I create one-of-a-kind "Art Yarns" which I sold for sometime, but finally, though I loved the spinning, it became less and less satisfying to me. I was happy with the yarn and people were buying it, but I was creating it as a thing to sell rather than as an item that arose out of a spiritual journey, and frankly, I am a woman artist who must be led by spirit, purpose, and deeper meaning to be satisfied with the outcome of my work. My work is infused with prayer, spirit, and dreams. I meditate while I spin, while I do all the work, using several different techniques to create a piece like the one above, and so now I begin to spin and I know that it will lead me into a piece of art, wearable art, all made of my own handspun yarn, except, in some cases, the embellishments. So the yarn leads the way.

Next, that tiny snake that my little grandson has led me into the realization that the snake had come into my life as a totem animal, and it is so powerful I knew that I would be creating them, but I knew not how, or why, I just knew I was supposed to. As I began to spin the yarn for the piece that became Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime, I was transfixed, watching the yarn lead me into the serpent that would grow to 8 feet long before I even began to circle round and round with one handspun yarn after the other, breathing slowly, meditatively, allowing it all to unfold, thinking several times that I was finished only to get that inner knowing that I needed to keep going. Little did I know, at that time, that I had begun a journey that would change my life, and lead me to the work I believe I was meant to do, after decades of doing a little of this, a little of that, and never having a strong focus on any one particular thing. And the pieces I am making are very heavy. When I put Cecelia on today to see how she felt I was surprised by the weight, but it feels good, grounding, holy, as if her very presence changed me, and the work goes even deeper than that.

The fact that Beatrix was sold before she was even finished led me to believe that I was on the right track, and just this evening I received an e-mail from someone interested in Cecelia. She asked me the price. I cannot yet say, because she is not finished, but the right pricing structure has come to me as well, after long and careful thought. And the exact price cannot manifest for this piece until the piece is finished. And it will be finished in it's own time, not mine.

You saw in an earlier entry the large spindle full of the turquoisey silky blend of yarn with a rainbow assortment of Cotswold curls that I spun for the new piece, long before I knew her name (This, too, was interesting, because I knew instantly that the first serpent's name was Beatrix. It was such a joyful process that I was floating nearly off the ground as I made her, and much to my surprise, as I was finishing her, I found out that the name Beatrix means Joy!). Well, with this new piece I didn't know a name and oddly it didn't seem important. The work unfolded, the yarn was spun, I began to work and still, no name. I got nearly as far as what you see above and her name, during a meditation, was revealed to me. Cecelia. I had no idea why, I didn't choose it, it just came to me, so I did some research and much to my surprise, St. Cecelia is The Patron Saint of Music. I don't just love music, my family are almost, to a person, all musicians. Music fills my little cottage and I am often spinning to something classical, or to Native American Flute Music, or something of that sort.

But even more than that, something rather jolted me last night. I had come to the end of the lovely turquoise blend yarn and still had perhaps a quarter of the piece to go, much to my chagrin. That was to be the outermost color/yarn before I began the embellishment for the face and down the center of the serpent's back. I started in immediately spinning more, the roving and Cotswold curls still all around me, and in the middle of spinning I was, again, in a place that felt nearly mystical. I kept looking at the piece and it was almost glowing, I had that knowing, the calling of the still small voice within. There had to be one more yarn spun for yet another outer layer of color, lighter and brighter, and for a very particular reason.

St. Cecelia was not only The Patron Saint Of Music, she was blind. As I was meditating on the serpent in my lap I saw it. The core of this large heavy serpent, now just over 5 feet long, was black, representing, to me, St. Cecelia's blindness. As the circles of color move outward they go from dark to light, as if the celestial music of the heavens brought Cecelia to a place where she could see, in a way that most of us never do, in fact, as a dear friend wrote to me tonight about the piece, in the way of a visionary. I was almost shaken by the labyrinthine path the making of this serpent had taken me down. I lay the work aside, walked the dogs, and fell asleep. Once again, the piece was so much more than I could have imagined.

When I was creating Beatrix a dear woman said, "You have created The Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime." I knew the piece was special, but not just how special she was, and Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, has solidified this for me. Creating art that is spiritual in nature, that comes from the depths of meditation, prayer, silence, and that process that is larger than me, well, it's an awesome, amazing journey. It is the work of the soul. Frankly, I am simply shocked. And I know now that it is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Tonight I took everything out of my etsy shop. I will be making and selling these new pieces, but if it keeps going like this they will be sold before they ever reach the shop! And if this is the case I will sell them from my own website. I believe they end up with who they are supposed to be with, and this was affirmed by Mary's very dear note below. I am on my way to a place I cannot imagine, and it is a wonderful place, the Holy Land Of Fiber.

As a woman deeply involved with animals, a Franciscan at heart, living amongst many animal companions, it seems a natural turn to have taken. I am excited to see what the pieces ahead will reveal and where they will take me. For now, I have finished spinning, today, the rest of the yarn I need to finish the turquoise layer of the serpent, and I will let the twist set on the spindle while I spin, for the next couple of days, two large spindles of the outermost layer. Apparently Cecelia has much to teach me yet.

As I have said, I thought several times that Beatrix was finished and I had to keep telling Mary, "She's just not finished yet," because Beatrix kept leading me forward into new colors, new lessons, down new roads. I followed them in reverence. I should have known better when I thought to myself this past Friday that I could finish Cecelia over the weekend and have her up in the shop by Monday. Her name had not even been revealed to me! And when I ran out of yarn last night so that I had to spin more, I knew that she wanted me to slow down, that there was more to learn, to see, to do, and so I shall comply. I do believe she will be done this week. I feel that that is true, but then, I guess that's up to Cecelia, and not to me...

Maitri, going up to bed, into the Dreamtime...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Thank You to the lovely new owner of "Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime..."







I want to send out a warm hug and a thank you to Mary, who wrote a note which truly touched me, and for which I am deeply grateful. She purchased Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime.







You can see her in entries further down, both being made and finished, and she is meant to be worn as a long scarf, or coiled around the neck as above, or even as a household protector used in many and various ways. She is Freeform Fiber Art, 8' long, and was a joy to make. Beatrix, her name, means joy.

Mary, the lovely woman who purchased her before she was even finished, wrote a thank you note to me and said I could share it, since it was going to go in my etsy shop but she bought it before it could so there was no way to leave feedback and let people see the work. Mary said I could share what she wrote, so with many gracious thanks, I share with you what she wrote to me...



Dear Maitri,

Thank you so much for sending Beatrix. She is more beautiful than I could have imagined. Her photos didn’t do her justice! She is truly a work of art, and I am honored to have her in my home. You so obviously infused her with love and warmth.

She is a true totem, and radiates happiness. I get a warm feeling every time I touch her. Thank you for allowing me the honor of having her in my home, and I look forward to your next piece! Much love and gratitude,


Mike and Mary



I was deeply touched by the kind note. I thank Mary and Mike for giving Beatrix a good home, for supporting my work, and for their gracious thank you note. For an artist, who works, as all artists do, in a vacuum, the affirmation means more than than I can say. I am humbled, grateful and delighted past measure.

Maitri

Friday, November 23, 2007

An Intuitive Artist Watches Her Work Shapeshift In Her Hands (A Photo Essay!)...



What is Shapeshifting?

It has a fabulous and wonderful mystique, and is also an extremely subtle and well hidden art. It is about “thinking yourself” into another place. You take everything that “shows” you to the everyday world with you. You are not there through your own mind-abilities. Or you can ask another Being if you can share their shape - if they agree, you go with them. You share your consciousness with them and they with you. You might do this because you need the wisdom of the Being with whom you travel, they may be able to help you find answers to questions.

From the website: Celtic Shamanism






This serpent was meant to be called Bettina Ballerina as I
wrote about in the last entry. She was having none of it.
The name was not the proper name for her and certainly
was not representative of the lessons she had come to teach
me. She came to teach me the lessons of shapeshifting and
being open to change, which is part of the snake's energy.
She has not yet revealed her true name to me, but we have
already taken many twists and turns and followed unknown
roads into new places in my psyche. She is my newest
teacher, and has not yet revealed
her name to me...






The beautiful blend of red, orange and
pink Coopworth wools with dyed Cotswold
locks that was meant to be the outside edge
and will now be at least 3 layers in from the
outside...






Her face without embellishment
which comes after the body is
finished. She started at 4' long
and is now 5' long with quite a
way to go...






One of the next yarns that will be added.

And...
in the way of this type of work, another multi-
colored handspun yarn I spun a few weeks ago
has already inserted itself ahead of the yarn
shown above... It happened right in the middle
of writing this piece. When I work I go back and
forth between writing and fiber art and somewhere
between-the-whiles yet another change took place...
My work is spirit-led and I allow my self to be led,
to let the spirits guide me. One never really knows
what will come next. I am wide open to the intuitive
voice within.






This is an absolutely gorgeous yarn with a base of
seagreen supersoft Corriedale wool and many, many,
colors of different types of wool locks and bits of silk.
There is a lot of silk noil and bits of silk in this piece.





As I have now put the above spindle beside and am working in another multi-colored handspun, as I wrote above, I will leave you here. The next time you see this luscious creature she will be up in my etsy shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio, under Talismanic Wearable Art, with pictures of her here, completed.

I hope you all had a beautiful, warm, loving Thanks-giving with those near and dear. I have just come in from a very cold but vibrant walk with the dogs, and it looks like hundreds of birds outside at the 7 feeders, but who can count and it doesn't matter. My heart is so wide open just now...

Warmest Regards and Deepest Blessings to All,

Maitri


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning, Painting With Fiber, Magical Crochet Hooks...




Handspun Yarns on Spindles, Fiber, Dyed Cotswold Curls and
the beginning of another Magical Serpent, Bettina, begun with
Coopworth wool and colorful silk noils throughout.



I have been spinning up a storm since Beatrix went in the mail to her new owner. Making her was a magical experience and I was delighted for her to find such a good home.

As I am now spinning and letting the twist set on the spindles and then working right off of the spindles, a totally new approach for me, I am spinning like crazy so I have a number of new yarns to work with. I have spindles lined up and am trying many new techniques getting wilder and wilder with the yarn and I am having so much fun, as well as enjoying the meditative nature of the spinning itself. It is very soothing and healing in this time of tremendous change in my life.

And then there's the Freeform Crochet. It is such an amazing process to me. I learned to knit when I was young, I learned to weave as an adult. I have done embroidery and all kinds of needlework, but for some reason, until this last year, I have not crocheted. And heavens! I didn't know what I was missing.

Once I make the basic object, picking up the crochet hook and using many different colors, textures, and types of yarn is like painting on a canvas, I am painting with fiber, the crochet hook, my brush. And I have used a number of different types of crochet hooks, but the large, whimsical, magical Gulliver Hooks by Noreen and Jim Crone-Findlay are pretty much all that I use now, except when I need a small thin one to
pull in the ends as I'm finishing. If you look below you will see them. I used the sunflower, the daisy (to the far left) and mostly the Lady Gnome, my favorite hook of all, to make Beatrix. As I am using my own handspun for my projects and the yarn is all different sizes, this wonderful array of hooks lets me always have the "right brush," to paint with.





The magical Gulliver Crochet Hooks made by
Noreen and Jim Crone-Findlay. They are truly
a dream to work with, like holding a magic
wand in your hand as you crochet...




Creative work is so amazing. As I was working on Beatrix my mind was jumping 2 serpents ahead. The body of Bettina is made and now the embellishing with freeforming with many yarns and many crochet hooks begins, as well as adding vintage items like beads and buttons and whatever she feels like she needs in the moment. And I already have the yarn spun and am ready to make the next snake.

When I was finishing Beatrix and put up the entry before the final entry with her finished, someone wrote to me and said that Beatrix reminded her of the Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent of The Dreamtime, and that is very much what these serpents have come to mean to me. They are no longer simply snakes because they were always meant to be whimsical, other-worldly, have the power of totemic creatures, and yes, they are spiritual. When I spin, when I do my fiber art, I meditate, I pray, I weave blessings into the piece for the new owner. That's what fiber art is to me, it is holy.

Wearable art of a whimsical nature is where my future lies with my fiber art. After years I have finally figured that out and I have several much bigger projects in mind, but as I just started my store on etsy, and Beatrix, meant to go in the store, was bought sight unseen before she was even finished (...which I was very grateful for and delighted about!), I have too few items in my store so I am working working working to produce more magical wonders to fill the shop. I will soon be making large Goddess bags as well, and yes they will be freeform, and I can't wait to get started. My mind stretches even further to Goddessy, flowing freeform wearable art for plus size women like myself, as it is so hard to find this type of item if you are anything above a large/extra large at best. I think all women are Goddesses in their own right, with all of the mysteries of womanhood, the wonder, our awesome womanly bodies, and to that end to create powerful totemic, spirit pieces that can make a woman celebrate all that she is, that is my dream, as I sit with spindle or crochet hook in hand.

So I spin, I crochet, I do many other crafts to finish a piece, from embroidery to sewing to weaving to many other things, I am always working in the Dreamtime, dreaming possibilities into realities. How blessed I feel to be doing this work.

In the weeks ahead you will see Bettina materialize. What a wonder she already is!

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Maitri, about to pick up a spindle and begin spinning again...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is There A Pug Or Three In The House? And, Living The Wabi Sabi Life...


From left to right: Sampson, Babs & Coco,
and Maitri with her lopsided Bell's Palsy,
Wabi Sabi smile in the back!



Truly, I think it was all Molly's fault. She is the one who, with her wonderful husband Chad, said, as they left after bringing my first rescue pug from Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue, "Pugs are like potato chips, you can't have just one..." Ahem. Apparently not. And I am usually very careful not to show pictures of my Bell's Palsy lopsided face that started the wabi sabi of it all as Niecy Nash from one of my favorite shows, Clean House, might say, which I was blessed with in June 1995, but it's hard not to giggle with 3 pugs in your lap. And blessed by Bell's Palsy, you betcha!

Now, it's not that I like to look lopsided, but I'm a sort of lopsided, cattywompus person to begin with, and after having three babies and gaining weight, my last vestige of pride, what everyone always called "My beautiful smile," had gone all funny, as well as my eye and pretty much everything on the left side of my face, well, after the pain, after the shock, after a year and more, I realized that it was with me for good, and I kind of shrugged and went on. It taught me a wonderful lesson, it taught me compassion.

Bell's Palsy was the beginning of my learning the true meaning of maitri, the Buddhist teaching of loving kindness and compassion, that you must first have it for yourself before you can give it to another. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would always be lopsided, but life goes on and so did I. In fact it moved me to dedicate myself, my life, and my work to maitri, and ten years after I got Bell's, I got divorced, and I went straight to the courthouse and applied for a legal name change. Maitri is now my legal name, and I changed it to have a reminder all of the days of my life to continue the practice of maitri in every single moment. It, like meditation, is a practice. We forget, and then we remember, and it goes on like that. We keep practicing. It's hard to forget when you've taken it as your name. Which leads me back to the pugs...

Let me start by saying that I have had, loved, and felt closer to animals since childhood than I have to other people, and animal welfare and animal advocacy are the most heartfelt causes that I support, and I walk my talk. For several years I ran a non-profit shelter for disabled parrots and other domestic birds that were unwanted. Today I live with 5 parrots, 4 beta fish, one dog, and three pugs. You have to understand that pugs are not dogs, not really. They'd be the first to tell you so! And while I have loved all of my dogs dearly, most especially my big lab-doby mix, Moses, whom we adopted from the Humane Society at 3 months and who is now twelve years old, there is just something special about pugs that you can't deny. They are the first dogs I have ever had that have turned me into the kind of parent you run from when you see coming, as they flash out 78 pictures of the new baby. I blush, but it's true.

And I am now running kind of an Old Folks Home For Pugs. No, there won't be any more, not now, but trust me, 3 pugs are more fun and more trouble than a barrel of monkeys! Leave it to the woman with the lopsided face to fall in love with 3 funny-faced little creatures. And fall in love I have. I am, in fact, smitten.

Babs is 12 and deaf as a door. She will sleep any old where as long as it's on the bed with me. Coco is 11, hard of hearing, and sleeps under the covers all the way down to my feet, as I was told she would, but it's a bit startling, I mean, you wonder how she can breathe down there? And Sampson is the youngster of the group, being somewhere between 7 and 8, and sleeps next to me with his head on the other pillow. He's my Velcro-Pug. They told me he had Abandonment Issues. I said, that's okay, so do I. Babs came in August, Sampson in September, and Coco just yesterday, the November Newcomer. I'd say that Moe is the Alpha dog, but he is so laid back, as they all are, that I think he's just confused.





Moe says, "You're kidding, right?"



What I figured, after walking with Moe and the first two pugs for awhile, was that I could handle one more, 2 on each side, and it would be a more balanced walk, so in came Coco who needed a home and we are a downright spectacle walking down the side of the street. People's mouths drop open. My biggest fear is that we will cause a 15 car pile-up because people just stop and stare. And they shout things out, anything from "That's so cute," to "LADY, how do you DO that???" which is what I hear more that anything. And people just can't help but want to look at the pugs. Moe is a sweetheart and will be the great love of my lifetime, but the pugs, well, they're funny, and adorable, and charming. Right now Sampson and Coco are snoring. Moe and Babs are asleep as well. And don't tell me your sorry tales about having a spouse or partner that snores. Try sleeping with 3 pugs that do. Now that is something to write home about.

In 1995, just three days after Bell's Palsy changed my life, I learned about the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi. Wabi Sabi is the imperfect-perfect. It comes out of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and is about compassion, and about the reality of life, and that there is perfection in imperfection. All of my work became, in that moment, about wabi sabi, and maitri. And so it shall be.

So with sleeping snoring pugs around me, and a grey parrot named Henry (Now there's the Alpha male of the house!) on my shoulder where he spends much of the day, I will head into the kitchen and make my protein shake and latte. And I will watch the outside birds at the 7 feeders on the patio (my other flock!) and enjoy this beautiful, crisp, cool Sunday morning, and I will thank God for this beautiful day and all of my many blessings, and I will look at my funny faced dogs with my own funny face, and we shall have a splendid day.

Maitri, the five parrots, the four beta fish, the one dog, the three pugs, and I'm quite certain there's a partridge in a pear tree here somewhere....