SPIRIT never dies …

Recently, my parent’s best friend, Leslie, passed away from cancer. Shortly before she passed, my mom and I were talking about how her body may be gone, yet her spirit will always be around; how it’s harder for the living to cope with death than it is for those who know they are going to die … maybe because they know that they aren’t truly dying. I don’t know and hope not to for a long while actually. Leslie was definitely at peace with her approaching death, and she planned the most amazingly intimate, heartfelt and fun memorial service. She wanted all to celebrate life and the continuation of her spirit. And she did so by throwing herself a damn good party. Good music, a poem reading, a song sung by her daughter-in-law, reading of cards that loved ones sent her, reciting some of Leslie’s last words she specifically and consciously spoke for this moment, a fantastic slideshow of photographs (many older ones, which were so fun to see! Who doesn’t love an old photo?!), and even my parents and her cousin dancing the Lindy at the end … and this was all part of the memorial service. When she told my mom she had to dance at the memorial service, my mom thought she was kidding (and crazy)! That was no joke … Leslie wanted everyone to be joyous and celebrate, so they danced after shedding a whole lot of tears. There is always happiness behind the sadness …

You all know those little laminated cards they give out at funerals/memorials? Of course you do. When I read Leslie’s, it took me back to my conversation with my mom and to what I truly believe about our spirits. I am not an organized religion follower, however, I am a spiritual person who believes there is something higher and more powerful than our human bodies …

Do not stand at my grave
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush;
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

Has someone in your life passed, and shortly after you see a bird at your window that you’ve never seen before? Or you come across a gift they gave you that you’d forgotten you had? These aren’t coincidences. They are signs that their spirit is with you and wants to say hi ;)

Leslie’s son, Chris, sweetly shared that his mom was an angel, and that she’s been on loan for a while. So, now her haloed spirit will be flying all over the place guiding us humans along our path … or maybe simply just to say hi …

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2-dimensional WALL …

Some of you know this about me because you’ve followed my blog from the beginning or you’ve [luckily] known me for a long time … I love steel. I’m not even really sure why I’m so drawn to this material, but I AM. Is it its strength/power, its variation in color, its ability to change and morph itself (through environmental exposures of course), its simple natural beauty … ? I’ve never thought that much about it until I started writing this post. I just get excited about steel and accept our OBVIOUS connection. Maybe I was a welder in my past life :)

I used steel in one of my furniture creations (My Baby) and used it to make a hanging presentation board in college. I also rusted the board … not so naturally though, as I had only a few days for the rust to take effect! Pretty sure I remember the container of chemicals had a skull and crossbones on it. Yeah, I wasn’t so aware back then of how I could contribute to poisoning our earth. But, I do gotta say, it came out pretty damn cool! ;)

This is the extent of my working-with-steel knowledge (at least in this life), yet I still love it. So, I’m sure you can guess that I got all warm and fuzzy when I saw these Richard Serra steel walls embedded in the ground at Storm King. (And yes, I took more pictures of these simple sculptural walls than anything else there!).

Connecting to steel may seem really fucking weird to most of you, but regardless … notice the thing(s) you connect to in this world (maybe birds, roses, trees, frogs … could be anything!). No need to question it or figure out why, just notice and feel. It’s pretty neat.

LAY of the land …

So this totally happened while hiking on Monday at Teatown Nature Preserve. Came upon a painted turtle along the trail sitting on top of some freshly dug dirt. Was a bit thrown off at first, like hmmmm, what’s she doing here? Is she ok? Should we take her back to the water? … OH SHIT, she’s laying eggs!!!!! Like right now!!!!! This is amazing!!!!! So we stood there and watched her squeeze out 8 eggs (maybe more before we got there) and then watched her bury the eggs to her liking and then watched her walk away like nothing happened.  Just another day in the life of a turtle. Pretty sure I was way more fascinated by this miracle of life than she was. In my head, it sounded a little something like this … OMG is this really happening right now? Am I really witnessing this? This is CRAAAAZZY! I feel like these babies are partly mine now. How does she fit all those eggs inside her small body? Will they be ok? Maybe I should take them and bury them at home to ensure that they live. I want to come back when they hatch [counting number of days]. What is the mom going to do when she’s done burying them? This is so magical and cool as shit. OMG OMG OMFG.

Of course I did a little turtle research on the way home. The mom can lay up to 11 eggs within the 4-6″ deep hole she dug with her hind legs (the ladies do all the work). The incubation period is 72 days, so these quarter-sized babies should hatch mid-August. Yes, they seriously come out the size of a quarter. I get so giddy when I think of that!!!! [insert visual of me squealing and fast-paced tiny clapping and jumping up and down … I know you’re with me on that, so don’t even pretend]. And then these little babies instinctively make their way directly to the water to live happily ever after (obviously!).

OMG OMG OMFG.

nARTure …

As promised, here are a few more photos from my hike with the loud mouth frogs. Went hiking on Saturday to a different location and heard more frogs singing in the distance. Made me smile like a crazy person again :)

So the bottom right photo above is what I’ve designated as my natural meditation chair. I’ve hiked here twice so far and both times I’ve planted my booty on that rock and leaned against the tree, closed my eyes and soaked up the sounds of nature. Crinkling leaves, birds chirping, branches cracking, my breath inhaling and exhaling, planes flying (yeah, so that one wasn’t ideal, but I do like living near civilization, so it’s bound to creep up on me while meditating in the woods ;) ). I bet some dog has pee’d on that rock …

listen. to. THIS. 

Those are frogs. For. Fuckin’. Reals.

Went for a short stroll in the woods Tuesday and was welcomed by this sound. I was infatuated (duh) and soooooo excited (duh again). For those of you who don’t know about my frog thang, do a little searchy search for “frogs” at the bottom of this page to get yourself in the loop! However, regardless of whether you really like frogs or not, you must agree that this natural “welcome spring” frog song is pretty bad ass! I stood by the water listening for a bit, then walked for about an hour, then listened some more with a wide-ass grin on my face, then was almost late to work ;)

The frogs deserve to have this post all to themselves, so I will share more photos and words about this day in a follow up post. Stay tuned …

And have yourselves a frogtastic day!!!

doesn’t LEAP year just sound JOYOUS ?

Another Omega creation that I’m kind of in love (or should I say “joy”) with. Hope you find joy in looking at it too :)

Happy Year of Leaps! OMG, frogs leap … leap frog … bet you didn’t see that coming …

my CREATIVE REBIRTH story (with pictures) …

So how’s about I share my whole creative rebirth story with you?! First off, I mentioned that I lived at a retreat center for 2 months (read that story here for those of you who may not be in the loop). As you know this is where the official rebirth took place. I’m making this sound so serious, like some spirit came down and magically turned me into a creative being again (immaculate creativity, say whaaat?!) … well, Omega is a pretty spiritual place so maybe that’s EXACTLY what happened!

For a bunch of months before quitting my job, I was having a lot of pain in my wrists and hands. I know you’re thinking carpal tunnel, oh NO! Exactly … NO, that wasn’t what was happening here. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I could feel it was something more, something deeper and more intense. It would get really bad at work and I’d have to shake out my hands a lot or get up and walk around. The feeling made me super anxious and uncomfortable throughout my entire body. I get this same feeling when I’m on mobile devices for too long and it makes me want to scream sometimes. Yeah, that’s my cue to Put. It. Down.

From my life coach, I learned that your arms and hands are directly connected to your heart. And at Omega, this kept coming up for me in the first few weeks. My heart was kinda shut down, so it was really starting to make sense why my hands hurt so bad when I did things that did not follow my true heart’s passion. This is when it also started clicking for me that doing something creative with my hands would make my heart feel good and help to open it up. So there’s this reciprocal action: I work on opening my heart … I will be more creative. I work on being more creative … my heart opens up. Well, this sounded like a beautiful plan! Win win!

Of course, Omega got this concept like forever ago, hence why they have art classes and an amazing “Art Hut” (it literally is a little hut for art) for all the staff to utilize!!! Picture a small building where every wall is covered in arts and crafts supplies from floor to ceiling, everything from beads to markers to magazines to paint to feathers to fabric to coloring books to googly eyes (yes, I said googly eyes) and, shit, I couldn’t even remember it all if I tried. And tools such as sewing machine, easels, hammers, paper cutter, etc etc etc. If you could only have seen my face as I entered this small heavenly space, my eyes opened real wide, my jaw dropped and my heart started racing (see, that’s why the word heart has the word art in it. Duhhh.). It was the most amazing sight ever. I instantly realized that I need one of these spaces in my future.

Once I came down from my artgasm, I had no clue what to make! So, I started with learning how to knit. My grandma had taught me to crochet when I was little, but I had never knit before. The gal that oversaw the art hut taught me how to do just that. To be honest, I didn’t like it that much and was quite frustrated at first. I stuck with it though as I knew it could get easier, and it did. However, it still never really felt right for me so I haven’t continued knitting since I left Omega. Maybe another time in my life, I’ll pick it up again.

I then took a class on calligraphy. I’ve always loved hand-writing, so this was perfect for me. And, it truly was perfection. I learned techniques and fun ways to use calligraphy markers.

I became pretty obsessed with calligraphy markers and returned to the art hut to draw and write with them fairly regularly. I made bookmarks for friends and doodled my heart out.

I also took a bamboo brush ink class. It was very free flowing, and I actually let loose a little bit. Remember, I come from a design background of producing very detailed, technical drawings, and being loose wasn’t necessarily my thing. The extra fun part about this class was that my friend Sara was visiting me for the weekend and she got to enjoy the class with me! Then, we went to my friend Stacey’s African dance class afterward. Speaking of not being loose … I’m not much of a dancer, but her class was super fun regardless of whether or not I actually got it ;). Artsy day for us gals.

I made this book …

I made this cool paper booklet out of one sheet of scrapbook paper. That’s right, ONE sheet …

Now, let me tell you about Mr. Alan Leon. Alan was the artist-in-residence for most of the time that I was at Omega. He taught the art classes and had wonderful creative energy and talent. I attribute a lot of my creative rebirth to his presence. The importance of creativity in my life really hit me at his calligraphy class. I LOVED it, like seriously LOVED it. So, he brought this new art form to my attention (new to me, of course!) and it was something I thoroughly enjoyed and was naturally good at. Go me! Alan is an inspiration in art and life :)

I hope to be as inspirational in just being me. This blog is one avenue and I know many more will be uncovered as I continue my journey. Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride!

Live. Love. Create. 

this l’il dude is livin’ PURA VIDA …

Costa Rican frog.jpg

Yes, yes, I’m posting another frog pic. I bet you are all growing to love them as much as me, you’re just not ready to embrace it yet ;)

So, my mom was watching this nature show the other day, and they were in Costa Rica searching for lots of different frogs, when I remembered that I met this colorful beauty while I was there last April. That trip was definitely a turning point for all of these positive changes in my life, and I am eternally grateful …

Thank you red-eyed tree frog.

Thank you Costa Rica.

Thank you Jenna.

Thank you Danny and Jordan.

Oh Al, you are so WITTY …

” The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen. “

. Albert Einstein .