Since I wrote last, summer has settled onto our laps. Peach juice drips down our chins while listening to bees dance in the oregano blossoms. We weather another round of horror in the US. Somehow, we live in the conflicting feelings of grief and sadness while marveling how the marigolds mirror the sun.
Summer is a time of listening.
The garden takes my attention, gives me a tick bite or two to worry over, and fills my senses with lily-perfumed afternoons. My ears are tuned to the chomping jaws of the deer who love the hostas and begonias so very much. I taught for a week at the International Women’s Writing Guild at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Then, I traveled to work with my teacher Joy making books and ritual. Now, I am preparing for Backyard Art Camp, for more books and more ritual. Camp meets in less than three weeks in my backyard in Great Barrington.
At the pace of summer, time slows so listening happens more
Summer allows me time to meet people in person whom I otherwise know online. I get to wander under tree-lined paths with friends talking about where we’ve come in the year since we were last together. I soak up the brilliance of the new ideas burning in their hearts. With time for listening I am inspired, even now, when there is so much difficult in the world.
My friend Alison talked about her work, about how we must “be contagious,” which, to me, as an instigator of daily creative practice, is about the best thing I heard all year.
I aim to be contagious. I think of my work infecting you with a desire to do your own. This is the lifeblood of Rising Forth.
The 100 Day Project concluded in early July too.
This was a keen experiment for me in daily practice. I committed to making a small painting of a tree every single day for 100 days in my journal. Yes, I already show up in my journal daily, what’s the big deal?
It was a big deal for me, on an increasing level, to tune in to one aspect of my environment every day. I learned more about trees during those 100 days, read poems and books about trees, and simply stood in wonder at the shapes trees take on the earth, standing so resolutely wherever they root. They weather years of time, and still, trees exude unique beauty.
Listening to trees took the shape of 100 small paintings
which I posted on my Instagram feed. I heard people say, “I am intrigued by the 100 Day Project, but I have no idea what to do for 100 days.” This made me curious about how to support listening to our own attention. In February 2020, I will offer a self-guided class for people who want to listen to what is calling for their attention for 100 days. Stay tuned.
I also listened to my friend Wendy, who has studied with me online in the Powder Keg Writing Workshops for Women, about how important these posts are to her and to others. There is something rather stunning about this, like I should not get so grand about my work. But if I didn’t see and know the difference daily creative practice makes in the lives of so many humans, I would not be able to accept this compliment with thanks to the deliverer. ♥
Listening to music in the Berkshires
This weekend, Jonathan and I heard two different singing duos, women who are social change makers. Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow of Emma’s Revolution played at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and MaMuse played over in Beacon, New York. Both of these groups sing about light and the earth and water and people and peace. They each ask and answer hard questions with fervent devotion through song.
“Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.”
The Way In
from Rounding the Human Corners Coffeehouse Press 2008
It is a joy to join with women like this, to know that we are each making the change we hope to see in the world. Yes, there are thousands of fires to put out in this world, thousands of pains to ease, thousands upon thousands of hearts to mend, millions of stories as yet untold.
But the beginning begins to make a difference.
You tell your story, you tell it somewhere where someone else can hear it, (a letter sent to a friend? Your story recorded for Story Corps? You decide to join a writing group at your library and start to read your work aloud?)
and you immediately set another voice free.
Because we know that “if she can, then I can.”
My friend Jan Philips always says that, and I know it more than ever. If my beloved poetry mentor Myra Shapiro can have a poem published in the New Yorker in mid-July, then maybe I can have something published this year. If my dear mate Sara Nolan can have a piece in the Family section of the New York Times this past week, then maybe I can too. If Pat and Sandy can sing for peace with the Dalai Lama, then maybe the work I do in Armenia will continue to root goodness for women in that country.
We don’t know until we get moving.
“Chance favors those in motion.”
-James H. Austin
Summer is a time for motion. We witness small seeds taking root. We see the ways children grow so clearly in the summer when coats are shed, and belly buttons appear. How tall they are!
These kids/sunflowers/ideas/grantproposals/recipes/paintings/poems/toddlers/morningglories/fruittrees/sandcastles/marketingvisions/booktours/shesheds have taken root!
Whatever sense there is to be made on this Sunday afternoon, I hope that what you find here feeds you. Let me know in the comments that you’ve stopped in. Leave me a sentence or two about the motion you notice in your life this summer.
There are three open seats for Backyard Art Camp. If that calls you, go here for details.
This fall, I will teach a free book arts class at the Mason Public Library on Saturday, September 23. Go here to register.
I plan to return to Armenia in October. If you want to stay up to date with the New Illuminations artist residency in Gyumri, Armenia, please join this mailing list which is solely for that project.
Then, Sunday, December 1, Advent Dark Journal will meet again with in-person, online, & email options available.
Until then, find me in under the oak, looking up.
PS Listening to Myra read her poem is so dear.
PPS Here is the song I keep singing from MaMuse.
PPPS Here is the song I love love love from Emma’s Revolution.