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True love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Today I am thinking about water.
Throughout the rainy month of May we collected rain water in barrels for the flowers, vegetables, and ducks. Last summer I
just turned on the waterhose or sprinkler and went on about my air-conditioned business inside the house, usually forgetting I left the water running or that I even had flowers.
With the rain barrels I have to physically walk the water around the yard to give each plant a drink. Oddly, this seems like less of a chore than turning on the water hose. For one thing, it forces me to spend more time outside actually looking at the flowers and appreciating them. It’s certainly friendlier than shooting at them from a distance with the hose’s handheld nozzle like they’re zombies I’m trying to keep at bay.
With the watering can it’s all intimate. We get upclose and personal; we talk.
We have had little rain this month. The hot air is perfumed with sun-baked roses. The waterbarrels are empty. When El-D suggested we start getting water from the pond for the garden I looked at him like he’d grown two heads. Dude, that pond is WAY back there and our flowers and vegetables are WAY up here, and-and-AND we DO have running water!
But it made me stop to think….
What if we didn’t?
There are plenty of people who don’t.
Fortunately, I have people in my life who remind me on a regular basis to keep my over-priviledged head on straight, like my friend Amy, who is a teacher-from-the-heart. Every year her school does a “World Tour” during which each class studies a country. They make displays and put on performances to share what they learned. Her class studies Kenya every year. This year they watched a video about the life of a young Maasai boy. Her students are always struck by the fact that his mother and sisters have to walk every day to get water from the same water hole the animals use.
Today SoKaN joined a gang of 80 knittas and hookers to carry out a bombing assignment for the mafia.
That’s yarn bombing, of course, otherwise known as knit graffiti, a form of community street art. And the mafia is the Memphis Knit Mafia.
This means that as of today my work is officially on display at a museum. I’m pretty sure this makes me edgy and urban, yet sophisticated and classy, all at the same time (if only in my imagination).
I lead such an adventurous (fantasy) life, especially for someone who spends such a vast amount of leisure time reading, knitting, and putting on shadow puppet shows for her puppy.
People are so durn creative, so now I will present the work of the real artists…
Ladybugs and flowers and stripes and pink and pompoms! It’s so fluffy I could die.
Knitted hearts on a string! Be still my heart. I must learn to make these.
A super big THANK YOU to Christiana Leibovich for being the capo di tutti capi.
Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
I recently discovered Grace Brown’s Project Unbreakable. TIME magazine named her website one of the top 30 Tumblr blogs to follow. The video below provides you with some context.
…and that is the astonishing power of art – art can go through where other things can’t. You can’t have barriers because it breaks through your prejudices. It breaks through everything that you have as your mask that says, “I am this… I am that.” No. It breaks through those and it reaches somewhere where other things don’t. And in a world where attitudes are so difficult to change, we need a language that breaks through.
Please consider joining us….
Our Fancy Upcoming Events
SoKaN will be joining the Memphis Knit Mafia to yarn bomb the Brooks Museum of Art on Sunday, March 17 at 11:00 a.m. This project is in conjunction with the Angels & Tomboys: Girlhood in Nineteenth Century American Art exhibit.
If you’re not familiar with yarn bombing, you can check out this photo essay from Time Magazine by clicking HERE to learn more about this fine art. I am thrilled to pieces to be participating in this event. My new favorite thing to do is to talk loudly about this event in public places. I alternatively refer to it as ”my bombing assignment from the Mafia” or “my next exhibit at the art museum,” depending on whether I’m feeling dangerous or fancy. I do this, of course, because I’m actually just a gigantic nerd that gets giddy over knitting. But whatevs! I have my contribution to a bench complete and I’m currently working on a handrail. Wheee! There will be prize drawings, knitting lessons and food trucks on hand, so join us for the fun!
Also, we invite you to come see us on Saturday, March 23 support St. Jude at the Annual St. Jude Springfest at the Millington Civic Center, 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. There will be 13 Bluegrass/Gospel groups, food & craft vendors, McGruff the Crime Dog, a silent auction, games for the kids, Motorcycle Dice Run & much, much more.
Where We’ve Been
Signs on the left were crafted by Monkey See, Lexi Do. Some double as picture frames. Cute idea!
And of course SoKaN had our wares…
Last night a crowd of crazy cat ladies (and men) descended upon the Memphis Brooks Museum for the Internet Cat Video Festival.
While a DJ blasted tunes like The Siamese Cat Song and The Meow Mix Song, attendees prowled around the lobby in leopard print skirts and cat ear headbands. We purred happily over sparkly feline baubles as we lapped at our ”furballs” - a pink concoction involving rum, coconut milk, cranberry juice, and whip cream.
Then came the main attraction: internet cat videos.
Internet cat video aficionados (Yes, aficionados. I get to use my fancy words because we were at a museum) had already viewed many of these videos at home (or at work). But gathering together to watch these videos in a theatre packed with like-minded individuals lended the whole affair a certain je ne sai quoi in terms of public image. It was validating. High brow even!
It took me back to my belly dancing days on a Costa Rican mountain top when we danced to the beat of thunder pounding on the roof of our pagoda. (That is a true story I have always wanted to tell in an affected British accent at a cocktail party. It would make me sound so much more interesting than I actually am. Sadly, I have never been invited to said cocktail party to tell it. But that’s ok because I’m way too busy at home watching fancy internet cat videos to attend your silly cocktail parties anyway.) One day during my Costa Rica adventure, I sat in a room with 60 other belly dancer women and participated in a three minute laughing meditation. If you have never participated in a group laughing meditation, let me tell you, the first time is incredibly weird. You will be instructed to basically fake it ’til you make it. That’s right – just fake laugh nonstop with everyone else until the silliness of it all carries you into complete hysterics. It’s quite a catharsis really.
At any rate, sitting in the dark laughing for 15 minutes nonstop with crazy cat ladies was just like that but weirder and even more wonderful because there was no fake laughing involved. I watched grown men laugh until they cried over cat antics. And then I laughed until I cried. We all laughed and cried and it was this amazingly beautiful communal experience. It was!
And so I will leave you with a few of my favorite videos from the evening. For best results, make them big screen and gather a few friends (or strangers) to watch. Enjoy!
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Last year I rediscovered the joy of Christmas.
This year, Valentine’s Day will have a makeover. We will keep the love, but let’s expand it beyond the mere romantic, then add a lot of light, and hm….how about a tree?
Yes, a Valentine’s Day tree. It’s all about the love and light.
Shall we celebrate with yoga and tea and giving? Healthy hearts all around.
All donations for the class will go to Le Bonheur Foundation Heart Institute. If you can’t make it tonight, you can still give by clicking the blue link above or visiting lebonheur.org
If you are interested in joining us tonight, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org for directions.
A couple years ago, after a several year streak of holiday grumpiness, I decided to take charge of my own Christmas experience. Once I changed my approach to the holiday I found that it worked so much better for me than my old way of relating to the season.
My former approach could best be described as a frenzied scramble to meet the desires and expectations of others (or at least my perception of them) combined with my own unrealistic notions about what the season should be. You may even be familiar with the old routine — the frantic shopping for the “perfect gift” while simultaneously complaining about the commercialism and crowds of Christmas; the furtive listening to news
reports of people being trampled on Black Friday with a secret little twinge of schadenfreude; the excessive spending of money on gadgets and gifts too quickly forgotten; the overabundance of food, family, and friends at near-toxic levels.
Mixing and mingling with that off-note jingling was the most stressful time of the year in the life of an academic: the semester’s end. By December, college students are as high strung as the lights at the Rockefeller Center’s annual Christmas display. They come to your office shedding tears about their grades and their grandmothers — or worse, they sit and cry silently without telling you why at all. In class they band together and plead for another extra credit assignment, in spite of the fact you’ve told them repeatedly there will not be extra credit this semester. If you stick to your word and practice “tough love” you get creamed on student evaluations. You are an ogre and a curmudgeon and administration frowns. If you have a kind heart, extra credit makes double the work for you as you scramble to invent something for students to do at the last minute that is educational and relevant…and then scramble to grade it along with the mountain of grading you have for final projects and exams before the grades are due. After all that you’re still just as likely to get creamed on student evaluations.
It wasn’t exactly what I would call the most wonderful time of the year and definitely not the happiest season of all. Obviously, things needed to change.
So, I started working on me and my own inner Scrooge to align my deeper values with my behavior. This required a little soul-searching to work out exactly what my deeper values were. The process revealed a few changes I needed to make.
First off, the “perfect gift” ideal had to go. I had to break the shopping bag shackle to find more fulfilling experiences to share. This act alone opened up considerable space. Once I reduced the time spent in stores, and online shopping, I had more time and energy to think about and deal more productively with the end of the semester angst of my students. Freeing up that time also allowed me to pursue a much more relaxing pastime – knitting. The manual arts have a meditative, calming effect that work wonders on my disposition. I knitted in much-needed solitude and I knitted surrounded by knitwits and nutters (aka SoKaN), who provided a social support group, not to mention entertainment. Of course the manual arts also result in tangible and useable things – a happy byproduct.
I also came to the conclusion that I needed to give in ways that honored who I am at heart. On the gift-giving front, I admit, I have become a bit more selfish. For example, *I* wanted to take a holiday carriage ride in downtown Memphis, so I forced the parents to go with me for their “present.” But maybe Ayn Rand is right and there is virtue in selfishness. In the selfish spontaneity of this carriage ride adventure, a meaningful and memorable moment unfolded. We unintentionally wound up at the place my dad proposed to my mom and I heard this story for the first time. Of course, we are talking about Nanook the Barbarian and the Angry Russian here, so their story was couched more in terms of Archie Bunker comedy than romantic rhetoric. In fact the two did not agree upon what happened at all, which is no surprise really if you know them. Theirs was not quite a love story, but it was a story of a unique love, and a Christmas gift I’ll always treasure.
The most devastating blow to my inner Scrooge came last year when I refused to listen to media reports about Christmas mayhem in the community and decided to start expanding my own sense of community. One of my holiday highlights last year was wrapping presents at a local bookstore for contributions to Literacy Mid-South, a local nonprofit organization that helps increase the literacy rates of adult learners. There are 125,000 adults in Memphis who read below the third grade level. Literacy Mid-South and their volunteer tutors are helping reduce that number. I have served with them in the past, but time and logistics were a barrier to continued service, so I jumped at this chance to wrap presents for donations. I drug the Indentured Servant/Resident Teologist and Nanook along for the ride and it was a beautifully wonderful morning of do-gooding awesomeness spent surrounded by books! We were all up in other people’s present buying business, wrapping gifts for stranger’s grandkids, and drinking coffee. It was GREAT! Nanook told me to pick out a book for her present to me, so I scored a copy of Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, which mom wrapped so pretty that I couldn’t bear to open it on Christmas. It stayed wrapped for a whole year before the story called to unwrap it.
This year, I am all about Christmas…but that, dear readers, is a different post.
So how about you? Any stories of Christmas past – or Scrooge slapping you have to share?
Last month, in an unexpected twist of fate, I was offered the job of meeting 500 preschoolers in 45 days. To the uninitiated and in the abstract, meeting 500 preschoolers may seem an unmenacing task. At least that’s how it seemed to me when I was offered this job. Still, I would never have imagined myself working in this context. I accepted the position anyway thinking it would be a breeze. Ha! In the days that followed I came to liken the task to being trampled by a herd of wildebeest. As it turns out 500 preschoolers is a lot.
The fact is preschoolers are creepy people. They come to school clean and groomed, shirts tucked, shoes tied, hair wound in neat braids. Kinda cute even. Within 10 minutes they start to unravel showing hints of their true nature. Eventually they erupt into full-blown disarray with noodle-encrusted hair, milk-mustached upper lips, and booty fingers. In this state, their teachers would bring them to me and attempt to reclaim order by lining them up to sit in neat rows, and then telling them to behave and to wait quietly for their turns. That structure worked for only a few moments. The short legs dangling over the edge of too-large chairs would start kicking idly at the empty air causing the laces of their sneakered feet to lose all restraint and start dancing wildly. A few moments later, the preschoolers would simultaneously begin practicing their unique talents. There were the prize fighters who liked to throw punches at each other, the stuntmen jumping out of chairs and running into things, and the gymnasts who did Cirque de Soliel routines using the chairs as props in strange balancing acts.
Preschoolers ooze fluids. I’ve been cried on, sneezed on, and spit on. The spitting was not malicious, but rather with great enthusiasm. On one occasion a great potty frenzy swept the room, which ended badly and predictably with an “accident.” In the natural course of things, my third week on the job I caught the Preschool Crud, rendering me bed-ridden for 2 ½ days with a fever and sore throat.
The 45 days are over and phase one of the job is complete. This week I’ve jumped back into the fray for round two.
As a result of this whole weird experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that preschool teachers should be lauded with firemen and police officers as heroes in our nation’s workforce. I’m not kidding. Having seen these women in action, I can honestly say they are nothing short of amazing given the occupational hazards and with their grace under fire.
[Your partner] will make you see more about yourself than any navel gazing in solitude could ever reveal. And if the process isn’t completely horrifying and frustrating, then you’re just not doing it right.
We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.”
He sold a guitar to buy her engagement ring. He was going to give it to her on Christmas day, but he wound up proposing two weeks before because he couldn’t wait.
She was horrified by the thought of a public wedding because it would involve too many eyes looking at her all at once. Besides, who had money to waste on some stupid party? She wanted to elope. Eloping was perfectly fine by him. Their mothers were appalled by the very idea and pushed for a church wedding. Suddenly it was ok for the young couple to continue ”living in sin,” as the mothers called it, for many months longer if it meant they could plan the wedding. The mothers joined forces and just started planning the damn thing without the couple’s consent.
“Ok, whatever” the would-be bride said with an eye roll.
The day before the wedding, he got a new hairdo, trading in his 1980s rocker hair for a mullet.
The ceremony that took eight months for the mothers to plan lasted 14 minutes.
And time passed….the couple ate a lot of Totino’s pizza, they got a cat, they bought a house, they got a dog, he changed jobs, she went back to school, they argued, they made up, relatives died, relatives were born, he played guitar, they tried new foods, she graduated a few times, they took care of kids, he took classes, they lost touch with old friends, he studied Kung Fu, they went on vacations, they made new friends, they sold and bought cars, they took a lot of walks in the park, they reconnected with old friends, she took a job out of state, the cat died, the dog died, they watched movies, she got a new cat, they got a new dog, they sold a house, they bought a farm…
…and 18 years later, she still looks at him and thinks, “This is the problem I want to have.”
Ours is a little farm in the making. Bit by bit we’re unpacking, cleaning, rennovating, and planting.
I’m so grateful for all the help we’ve had. Work has never been so fun. Friday morning the doorbell rang unexpectedly at 8 a.m. - and the day began with women doing messy yardwork to the beat of thunder in a warm summer rain. It was the best Friday morning I can remember in almost forever.
Saturday friends and family came to warm and bless our new home with their presence. It was a wonderful day full of fun, smiles, and surprises. And now we have even more to plant! There were so many unexpected gifts.
Once everything is placed, planted, and photographed I will assault you with pictures. For now, here are a few scenes from the weekend’s festivities…
Lisa, Lisa, Dave and Dave warmed the farm with a few feathered friends…
Folks at the farmwarming party took it upon themselves to name the duckies: P. King is the fella in the water, P. Queen is the one standing across from him, head cocked at a jaunty angle. Kiki and Hiram are the brown feathered couple in the background.
Eventually, the place will be filled with Goaty Goodness — Beady Boop got me started with goat fence. Another friend is determined to give me a pig she can train in the name of science (as soon as we convince The Devil it’s a good idea…)
The Angry Russian spent the day installing tile in the cottage. Four friends fought over who would get to hire him next.
“You could totally start a business called Rent a Daddy“ one said.
“…or Pimp My Dad” said another.
I told them all they’d better back up off my dad — he has to finish my cottage first!
Mike found the Devil in the livingroom with his conservative grandmother, parents and aunt. “Here’s a little something for tonight….” he said with a sly smile and wink as he presented the Devil with a gift in a Victoria Secrets bag. It was a DVD of The Money Pit. So appropriate!
Thanks to everyone for making my home and weekend so happy!