Monday, December 27, 2010

Hooray for a New Year!

How I mark the start of the New Year is with a new calendar. I take down the old one and take a few moments to look over each month and remember all that I did and who I met. As I sat with this year's calendar in my lap I realized it was such a rocky, trying year that I am so glad to say goodbye to. Here it is in recap in calendar form. I love calendars and am thinking of creatively making some... I think because I love the process of putting things in order. Or something like that.

:( spent a good amount of time waiting. Waiting for calls from resumes I sent in to schools for interviews. Waiting to get called to sub. And a good general wasting of time on the phone and by the phone talking to people who turn out to be...scum.. for lack of a better word. 
:( Working in a job that paid way less than I was worth, the job was worth, and way less hours than I should have had. The free time I did have was not enjoyed very well either to the fact that I felt guilty for not working more. A general time of chasing my tail. 

:( A pretty heart wrenching month for me. I had to put my sweet kitty Nutmeg down because of cancerous cells that where taking over her body. 
:) Spent some time with my family and friends.
:( More waiting for interviews and working as a sub and low paying job. Kind of just floating along. 

:) my birth month and time that has always led to rebirth and healing for me. That which it did especially by the help of two great friends who are married to each other. They helped me through a lot. 
:)Spring was coming and I could all most taste the promise of new beginnings of the heart, the soul and a career. I knew it was all so close. 
:) Discovered chicken wings and flan and margaritas go great together!

April: Ahhh.. Spring!
:/ A funky extremely quick friendship that came and went faster than I could say Happy Easter. 
:)But because of this person I learned so much about myself, my character, who I wanted to be, who I was, and that I am a beautiful being no matter what anyone said. 
:) Also I was beginning to discover my backyard, the Eastern Promenade again which was such a blessing. 
:) Experimenting with new spring plants in the dye pot. Forsythia, and rose-hips. 

May: True spring. 
:) Learning to celebrate the sweet times with friends and family again. I remember a particular barbq at my dad's that ended with marshmellows on children. 
:)One of my favorite moments/ days was the knitting trade show my boss took me too. I loved going and it really lifted my spirits. 
:)Two pretty huge monumental events happened this month as well. One of which I mentioned in my earlier post was meeting Peter Hagerty of Peace Fleece. It was his companies materials which I learned to spin with. My history with my love of fiber reaches further back to my childhood.
:) I met a really wonderful person, Pesh from Kurdistan. 

:)The beginning of a summer exploring Maine with someone who was new to so much. Sharing all my favorite spots and just meandering around town and on nature trails and down by the water was blissfull...even as I continued to apply for the retched jobs that never answered back. I had more strength and grace than I thought. 

:) Heart continued to expand. 
:)I made a career choice to try preschool again in order to just make more money. I could barely make my rent and other basic payments. My Father continued to be a great source of support and encouragement, as did all my family. At the end of the month I left the fiber gallery to work at a Montessori school. Kind of bittersweet, but it had to be done. I really wanted to feel more excited about this new venture but something deep inside me was telling me something else. 
:( Also, I spent a good part of the month battling the retched bed bugs
:( It took a huge toll on me emotionally. 
:) On July 4th as a sit on the side walk in my hometown of Bowdoinham at 9 in the morning, one 4 year old Lucy (my niece) informs me that "mommy has another baby in her belly. !!!!! Shannon is expecting her 3rd for this spring.

:) I spent 4 days as an instructor at a fiber retreat for adults in Washington Maine getting to know lovely people. It was amazing and I hope I can do it again next year. It was such a wonderful experience for me! So. Much. Fun!! 
:/ When I got back I started my new job at the school. But after a week, I soon realize why my gut was not as happy for me as all my friends and family. 

:) Enjoying as much of the last bits of warmth and sun as possible. 
:( However my anxiety starts to make an appearance in a new form. I start having a lot of trouble sleeping and I feel consumed in a way that I hadn't felt since I worked at Bowdoin College Children's Center. Lots of calls to my mom.  
:) Cadence Joan is born to my best friends! Such a blessing. 

:( Continued anxiety about work. 
:O Relationship tested by a car accident which brings us closer.
:) I start to become aggressive about finding other work. 
:) Have a great experience doing a natural dye demonstration at the Boothbay Botanical Gardens- demonstrating how to use natural dyes from plants to dye wool with wonderful women. 

:'( Have a bit of an emotional break down and realize it is definitely due to stress about work and decide I can't allow anything or anyone to do that to me. Even myself. 
:) I take a leap and apply for a new job even though it made me nervous to do so. This time I got a call back. And a 2nd, and 3rd and 4th. All for the same job. 
:) Pesh comes to Thanksgiving at my mom's. A great feeling to celebrate a holiday with someone when it is their first time celebrating that holiday. 

:)I spend the month celebrating Christmas by soothing myself with Christmas music. 
:) I learn more about the Islam faith. 
:) Spend Christmas with Pesh whose first time it was to celebrate Christmas. I also end the month by giving my notice as a preschool teacher to put my degrees to work with a great non profit company. SO SO SO SOOOOOO Happy and excited about this new chapter in my life. 
:) Lots of lessons learned through this experience. We all need to recognize what we are worth and live accordingly. 

Now I sit here pondering over my small list New Year's resolutions. Create a simpler life and schedule to  unplug, cook, create, walk. Forming a plan for each of those things. 

That's it. I've wrapped up my year and I'm so ready to say goodbye to it and start a whole new one, fresh, with so much love, light, and hope in my life. 

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Week of Connections.

A few weeks ago my life started to take an interesting turn. A turn towards inspiration, productively, new friendships and just the kind of turn that I knew I was headed for. It finally started to happen. Let me explain.

 I am someone who believes in the power of positive thinking, the kind of thinking that if you put it out there in the universe, if you want it bad enough, no matter how impossible something feels, it will happen.... Or something like what you imagined.

With in 1 week I experienced a continuos flow of meeting new people, making new friends, having meetings, friends sending me information, and a general running into situations, all of which involved sheep, education, textiles, the Maine economy of past and present, and places very.far.away.

Though I keep my life very full of activity- side note here- my mother calls this kind of living, "Burning the candle at both ends." "I can't help it!" I say. Ok side note over- I keep my life full and because I do, I don't always make room for processing. For sorting my thoughts. For making a plan on what to do next. However, I'm learning I must do this if I have any hope of getting to where I know I belong, or where I long to be. More soon....

Also, the photo is from a day when my fiber life seemed to come full circle. The week I speak of was the one before Memorial Day Weekend. The man in this photo is Peter Haggerty, the founder of Peace Fleece 10 years ago I learned to spin with a drop spindle made in Turkey and with wool a mixture of which was from the Middle East, Russia and Maine which I got from Peace Fleece. As I met and watched Peter Haggerty shear a sheep outside the store I work at I became so filled with emotion that when the time came for me to actually speak to him, I couldn't for several minutes in fear of bursting into tears. But after listening to him and my boss talk, I was able to relax and tell him just how much what he does mean to me and how it helped change my life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dyeing with daffodils, carrot greens, and lichen

I have involved myself in so much over these past few weeks that I almost feel like a new person. Which is perfect timing as it's spring and every spring nearly as long as I can remember, something happens to me where I feel reborn. Reborn in the sense that my whole creative side and spirit becomes rejuvenated and inspired with completely new concepts which start to sprout out of me.

Now that I have more than enough enamle pots, old spoons, a siv and an endless supply of aluminum sulfate, I've delved into natural dyeing at home. I also believe I've surpassed my fear of being unsafe with chemicals when I realized and quite decided just not to use any to dye with except for alum. For instance, many natural dye recipes call for iron, tin, copper, or some such mineral. Knowing this would alter the color (because of the natural occuring pigment in the mineral) I didn't want it to interfer with what I might find from a plant where I have no idea what color would come out of it. Once I decided that last bit, it's made my natural dye endevours so much easier and fun to approach.

This first picture near the top is spun wool that I dyed with the daffodil stems. The picture here to the left is a single spun wool from Maine Island raised sheep that I dyed with carrot greens. So- last week I started with two new plants. Daffodil stems and carrot greens. Both were so much fun. Both I boiled down in seperate pots and then strained. The daffodil stems smelled slightly like sweet grass. the carrot greens smelled like bitter greens. I mordanted the wool in alum and then simmered the two seperate skeins in their two seperate baths of daffodil dye and carrot green dye. The daffodil stems gave a slight warm parchment. The carrot greens gave a light lemon yellow. I was so pleased. I had no way of knowing if any color would emerge or not so to see the change, I got tingles in my fingertips and on the top of my head. That's when I know I'm onto something that is bringing me complete and utter joy. This week I will repeat the daffodils, this time with the whole flowers as they began to wilt the other day. I may dye the whole skein again, but I'm not sure. Though I'm a purest, it would be so easy just to throw this tiny skein back into the pot and really add to it.

A few days after this dye bath, I boiled up some lichen my mother had given me over the summer that I had kept in a bag in my kitchen cupboard. It was time. After I boiled the dryed lichen and bark and twigs, I got a lovely rootbeer brown color. When lichen is coiling, it smells sweet and woodsy and even more so when the fiber is dried. I love the smell. I strained it, saved it in a pot for two days (beacuse I was lazy and had other things to do.) But then I got it out again and this time threw in several fiber types but this time in roving form. Pictures will appear soon.

As a colorist all my life, I have always been completely seduced my bright and bold colors, but, with these subtle, gentle shades, I have seen and felt such a loveiness in them that I just adore. Where once I may have said about the daffodil stems, "oh nothing happened- it's so bla." I see SOMETHING. That something is important to me. It's like I'm finding out a secret out about these plants that maybe no one else knew....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ebb & FLow of Life

The following comes from a link my mother passed onto me this morning and I found that not only did it speak to me but it reminded me of what I talked about in my pervious post. It comes from the website:

If Sameness is a Demand We Make.
When I lived in Hawaii, if the temperature dropped to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, we felt we had been hit with serious winter. In California, 41 degrees was enough to cause complaints. Here in Canada those temperatures are considered balmy when they occur in January and we celebrate the warm weather!

It is all relative to what we consider normal. Deviations from the norm are either something we resist or welcome. What determines our reaction is how much our “norm” includes the possibility of change, surprise, unexpected occurrences. In Calgary we know that the Chinook winds will surely come and raise the temperatures dramatically a few times every winter. We count on that change to be part of our “norm.”

If sameness is a demand we make of our partner, our job, our children, our friends, our world, then we are going to be seriously challenged when the inevitable happens. People grow; they evolve; change their minds, rethink their politics, get new jobs, move to different cities. They find new friends, gain or lose weight, take up yoga while we sit in front of the TV. If we feel a loss or a threat from their growth, it is time to expand our sense of what “normal” is.

As the song says “Everything must Change. Nothing stays the same.” The temporariness of form or experience is something we can rely upon, absolutely. It is in the variations of weather, the ups and downs of relationships, the shift from toddler to teen, the necessity of learning new skills, that keeps us in harmony with the nature of things. A kind of non resisting ability to let things flow is a high awareness and a healthy way to live. Knowing that change will surely come, we are more likely to treasure the moment and celebrate it now."

--Rev. Carol Carnes

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Heart Mending

If you know me well, you know I am not with out emotion. Everything I experience weather I choose to participate or not, I have an emotional reaction to it. Emotions are what color our lives. They bring ebb and flow. They bring in the new and get rid of the old. They help guide us. To have none or to always make decisions based on logic can rob us of truly living. Truly loving. Even the emotions that bring pain, sadness and sorrow, just like tears, they too have a very special job of clearling out what is not needed in our lives anymore. I've been meditating on this last thought over the last few days as I tried to sort out the reasons someone close to me decided to leave my life. I had spent so much time anticipating this that when it finally happened, it still shocked and hurt. But as my week came to an end and a new one was beginning I could feel the weight of a choice I had to make. I could choose to continue to wonder about something I would never know, which would only bring me mroe sadness or... I could do something else. Live my life.

It took a while on Monday, but I eventually realized what I needed to do. While on my morning walk Monday morning I took the route to the East End Beach. It was low tide and I walked slowly along trying to spot the clear shapes almost hidden in the sparkle of the sand. As I knelt down to pick up my first piece, a rather stout dog trotted over to me and head butted me in my left hip. I didn't fall over but thought it was rather funny and it made me smile. Which was a nice change. It was also hard not to be hopeful in the kind of day where it was nearly 50 degrees at 8:00 in the morning. The sun made everything look brand new. And hopeful.
That same evening I did something I had been meaning to since the summer. I learned the Tango. And it was fabulous. Every other Monday at the North Star Cafe here in Portland, there are Tango lessons offered for $5 and then a live band plays. I danced with several partners and with each dance, it felt more and more natural... to be having such a simple and elegant conversation with a stranger that was solely based on the trust of movement and sinking together into the sound of the music. Completely Beautiful.
I am so thankful to myself that I got out of the house, away from my sadness and made myself try something new and kind of freightening. It was empowering, I plan on going back and learning more, and not only was it a fantastic start to my week, but really a new chapter for my life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spun Hand Dyed Silk with a Navajo Ply

This is a small skein of Navajo plied hand dyed silk I took off the wheel last night. It is my new favorite thing to spin (actually to ply). Now that I've gotten the hang of spinning silk, which isn't so tricky especially from a cap pr square, it's quite delightful to spin. Now what to do with it... I'm picturing a small knitted change purse with a metal clasp...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Morning walk.

This morning I decided to buck up and take a walk. I check the temp, bundled up, got my favorite station ready on pandora (Jaymay), and my camera. It was wonderful to be out and move through the air!

I'm committing myself to doing this everday. Now I have to because I just put it out there. I walked down Eastern Prom, around the gazebo, down the hill, not having any destination in mind- just that I knew I wanted to walk for at least 30 minutes. As my face started to burn with the bitter cold as I walked further down the hill, I reached the bottom, turned the corner and... warmth.... or my face becoming numb. Either way, it felt great. Walking into the sun between the tracks and the water. My pace picked up and I was off. While listening to Jaymay, the Weepies, Ingrid Michaelsen. Thoughts started to filter in and out of my mind for what my day would be and further plans for my life. I reached the trail path that leads back up to my apartment. Several stone stairs. I ran up all of them, hurting slightly in my thighs and not breathing as heavily as I thought I would or at least as much as I would have if I walked up the stairs. I stood for a moment at the iron gate breathing and stretching my hips. I looked down the steps where I had just run up and was surprised what I had just done. Realizing also that when life looked a bit bleak, I just had to grab it and tackle it.

It's amazing what happens when we linger a little too long at a cross roads. If we linger too long in the negitive space of our own hearts and minds, it will manifest into a hardship. If we look at it from the other end of failing is not an option for me, it becomes success.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Encouargement is sometimes the best medicine. The best motivation. Thank goodness for friends and family and loved ones who support and believe in us. Because sometimes life gets to be just a bit too tricky which then can quickly snowball into great hardship if we ride along the negitive thought process. We really need each other in our lives to help lift us up when we are surrounded in our own overwhelming thoughts.

As my younger sister has always told me and of which I need to remember everyday:
Do not breath life into something you do not want.

Simple, really.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

iphone posting please.

Ok, Here I am. Trying to figure out (please, please, please. Work. Please!) (Please!) I would love to be able post from my iphone. As this is- believe it or not, my sweet iphone is also my computer. With all it's free apps and limits glory- I do make do. Sort of. For now. But I am now trying and wishing that I could post images from my iphone library to the blog. Possible?? Anyone? Anyone?

So, while I figure that all out, let me say I have been very absent from posting. Like 4 months about. Many things have been going on such as new projects, old projects completed, obsessions being fed, for example learning about sheep breeds and early childhood education in the Reggio Emilia Philosohy.

Just yesterday as I was exploring where this philosophy has reached, I came across a very thought provoking, and moving article from the University of Nedbraska, Lincoln extention.

As I spend time thinking about, planning and applying for Art Teacher positions, I come back to this concept. Not as the idea being something seperate, but as a vital piece that helps in making my creatively educational career more complete. I am reminded to think outside of the box as I think of and come across institutions to which I apply for a teaching post. I'm reminded of being an assistant preschool teacher at the Bowdoin College Children's Center. After hearing a women speak of an approach and philosophy that had been created and carried out more than 50 years before in Italy, I was overcome with excited emotion, including hope and excitement because it completely co-insided with what I had been doing this preschoolers. Giving them materials, stepping back and letting them do what they would while observing, using their investigations as teaching moments and intervening when problems arose. Which became less and less when children were able to discover for themselves how things worked and they weren't told how to play. Now, I understand there may seem like a big gap here. I am leaving a lot of other information out. But here I am only recaping some highlights on one aspect of what I was discovering with these children. After hearing the presentation of the Reggio Emilia Approach, I was finally given validation for the activities I would do with the preschoolers. I also created an art space that was "open" all through the day along with all other spaces in our classroom. Through observations of the children and what they explored, so much was learned on the part of the teacher. I will blog more on this in the very near future.