Monday, August 29, 2011


Just finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  Oh. Wow.  There are so many ways in which that book has profoundly changed my thought processes.  I'm not usually big on war stories, and wasn't exactly excited to start reading this book, but since I haven't once attended a meeting of the book club I joined in March, I figured I had better read the damn book.  I am so, so grateful that I did.

The timing for this was perfect, because my grandfather recently passed away and I couldn't help but see him scattered throughout the chapters of this book.  No, my grandfather was not an Olympic runner, nor was he held in a POW camp under unbelievably horrific conditions.  But he was a young man, far younger than myself now, who was sent to, and fought, in a war.  Who handled intricate, complicated machinery having no particular background or passion for such engineering.  Who learned how to be directly responsible for the preservation of life:  his own, as well as that of his peers and leaders.

And although there are a million different tangents that my mind wants to take when opening up this topic, what I really want to focus on, for now, is how to incorporate this whole new breadth of perception and strength that I feel after completing the book.  The raw sensation of being wholly present, of recognizing the power of actively listening to my own creative, living process.  As I have previously written, I have the tendency to rush through things; to feel inspired and then either try to get to the quick of the project, or shelve it indefinitely.  But the most frustrating part about this cycle is the feeling of powerlessness that remains for every project that ends up incomplete, untouched, or abandoned.  The inaction, or listlessness, is so subtle that I don't realize how often I put something off, or "forget" to follow through with an idea.

So one of the many, many lessons I have taken away from this book is to recognize the impact that my inaction makes in the grander view.  That the process is fueled by presence of mind, yes, but it is created through the labor of the body.  To remember that all the material we need is out there, it's just up to us to gather our own personal reserve.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fairy Bowers & Grandmums

Here's the magical part about mothers.  They come and stay with you for two weeks, push every. single. button. you have, make you work every last bit of restraint left in your body, and then they build the most beautiful fairy bower possible in your daughter's bedroom.

The magical part about mothers is that they have the chance to become grandmothers.

This isn't really a post about motherhood, or grandmotherhood for that matter.  This post is written to honor the transformative nature of play.  I'm talking about the freedom to be completely, absurdly, absolutely imperfect, and to love the hell out of it.  

I'm always frustrating myself with the need to present the finished object: some glorious completed project that is unmarred in construction.  The problem is that I am always shooting for the end game, and never bothering to invest in the steps that might take me there.  All dunks, no dribble (if that makes any sense in the sporting world, which I have a feeling it doesn't).  I'm impatient.  I'm hurried.  I want to rush through the boring parts, and get to the good stuff.  

Except, that good stuff never materializes without living through the process.  You can't create a beautiful object if you haven't invested in the construction of it.  And you can't gain any skills without engaging in the trial and error period.  Although I have learned this time and time again, and despite my best efforts to remember this lesson BEFORE I begin to ram my head into another creative wall, I can't seem to let go.  I can't let myself be a beginner.

Enter the fairy bower.  The idea of "perfect" is completely counter-intuitive to the idea of play.  It makes no sense to create a "finished" play space, or who would bother to use it?  The fairy bower itself is a living being, feeding off the quickly changing moods and story-lines of all who enter.  The light moves through it, casting patches of stories onto the bedroom wall, as does motion and color and pillows and blankets and doggies and special rocks.  And somewhere, it the midst of all that motion, I am learning how to be still.