For the last nine months or so, I have been focusing my time on spinning yarn (and spells, I am the Stitch Witch, you know!) I took up spinning yarn as a way to meditate, relax and create in a new way. For me spinning is somewhat of a metaphor for uniting the past and the future to create the NOW. When I hand-spin yarn at the wheel I pull out bits of fiber (this to me represents material from the PAST which includes the creation, the nutrition, the experiences, the skills, knowledge, talents and qualities inherit in the fiber and in life) . I then add energy to that fiber through the treadling and spinning of the wheel to draw in the twist. The fiber goes from being loose, weak and ephemeral to being strong and functional. It moves from the draft (the NOW) unto the bobbin as a “potential” (the FUTURE). What it is to become is still just a dream. It is complete in the now and yet holds the possibility of becoming something so much greater through the art of knitting, crochet or weaving. Spinning keeps me focused and in the moment. I also like to put forth prayers (spells) as I spin. Yesterday I reflected on this question….
As we enter 2018 I wonder “why can’t we all just get along?” as Rodney King asked back in 1992, it still seems to be as relevant a question as ever. The Republicans and Democrats becoming so extreme on both ends of the spectrum hold no hope of finding middle ground. The #metoo movement has left men and women wondering if they can ever find the trust needed to heal the wounds of past abuses. Even in my everyday relationships I’ve experienced disharmony when there is a lack of listening in a spirit of cooperation and a teamwork approach.
And so yesterday I spun a spell. Lavender, like the pink and blue of divine feminine and masculine coming together in Divine Unity. Like bi-partisan red and blue joining forces to become purple. Like a soft fine merino wool coiled around a strong core of cotton. Soft and strong coming together to make something much more functional, beautiful and lasting. When I spin with a core I let one of the “singles” ply loosely around the other. For this yarn I also added in coils (the bumps in the yarn where the coil is “bundled”) which took advantage of the thick/thin wool single that I had spun previously. The core cotton single was a yarn from my stash.
Exactly two years ago I was traveling Europe through Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. On November 16, 2014 I went through the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum). It was an enlightening experience. The permanent exhibit space is laid out in a chronological path through time from the 1930’s to 1950’s with a focus on the 1940-45 years during WWII and the Netherlands occupation by Nazi Germany. From the Museum Website: “The Resistance is not about heroes and villains, but ordinary people who found themselves in a time of scarcity and oppression (with) dilemmas and had to make choices.”
The displays are made up of everyday artifacts from the daily lives of the Dutch people during that time. The exhibit lays out a story of difficult choices that had to be made in the face of fear of retaliation, hunger and scarcity, and societal pressure. I walked into the Museum believing I would be one who would resist Nazism at all costs. I walked through the exhibit with a realization and a new understanding of what that would truly cost an individual. I was also surprised to find that many of the same issues facing society in the 1930’s could describe the current climate we are still experiencing. Issues regarding the separation of church and state, issues of racism, issues of severe economic differences between the haves/have-nots. Issues of what it means to be patriotic. Issues of what certain choices can mean in the long story of history. How decisions to resist, adapt, ignore or collaborate all play out over time when faced with policies that oppress any segment of society; be that a certain race, religious faith, gender or even a free press.
One of the displays struck a particular chord with me, as a textile artist. It showed the simple everyday embroideries of Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh of the Hague. She refused to give money to the Winter Help fund until the queen returned to the Netherlands. Because of her refusal she was imprisoned for three months. During her time in prison the SS guards gave her their socks to mend. She played ignorant and sewed them shut! In reality this was her form of further resistance to the Nazi cause. She later embroidered imagery from her time in prison onto these textile pieces (I call them artwork!) that are on display in the museum.
I found that reminiscing about my experience at the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) to be very cathartic today, one week following our 2016 Presidential Election. This past week the media has been filled with many differing opinions on how America will move forward following this contentious campaign season. Many questions are being brought to light. I return to my experience of walking through that museum, being offered choices and questions along the path (through time): Faced with different situations would you Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute? You may think you know the answers, but when faced with pressure to Adapt by your family and friends and even the leadership of your country, it can be difficult to hold your ground for what you truly believe is Right. You may find that in the face of severe hunger your Will is broken. You may find that is seems more loving and unifying to Collaborate with others who hold a very different View of what they would like to see their world look like. You could find that to get what you want or Need, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the Persecution of others. Or worse, you could find you are the instigator of that abuse somehow justifying it as a means to the end you would like.
This is a wake up call for me as I step into each day going forward, to be aware that my individual choices have an effect on my community and country as a Collective. I intend to take off my blinders to the plight and ideas of those who may not share my vision. To realize what I can do as I am faced with tough choices. To ask myself the tough questions: Am I ignoring the oppression of a segment of our society, and making light of it? Am I looking to find answers that work for all of us, or just for myself? Am I adapting to the new normal because it seems to be the peaceful thing to do, despite the concern that it could be causing others pain? These are the questions and many more that I (and All of US) will be faced with in the coming days and years. I know from walking through the Resistance Exhibit they are difficult questions to answer in the moments we are faced with them. These are difficult decisions to make. It is always easier to say in hind-site what should have been done. It is also easier to say in advance what you think you would do walking into a situation, than what you would actually do faced with the real consequences of your decisions.
One thing I know I will continue to do is use my Voice. My Voice comes in many different Forms. I will use my Words, speaking and writing freely as my U.S. Rights as a citizen allow. I will use my Dollars, as very often speaking with the wallet is one of the most effective methods of communication. And I will primarily use my Talents and Actions (they speak louder than words!)to speak up when I see something harmful and/or hateful to others. I encourage you who would like to hold on to the good in the world and continue to make it better for All to also use your voices and your dollars and especially your talents to call out and continue to shine the light on situations that do not resonate with that vision. Make your daily actions and choices speak to the vision of the world you want to see. We are all an aspect of the Great Creator, what we envision is the first step to what we create here. We can not turn a blind eye to what we see as abusive, mean, selfish, divisive, or inhumane on an individual level or as a collective. We can not “be ignorant”, but just like Maria Schuh’s example we can all “pretend ignorance” (or use other methods) to resist wrong doing, and use A Stitch In Time (to) Save.
Please Note:I personally do not define resistance as a way to obstruct or protest any actions or ideas of the new administration just for the sake of hatred of “the other side”. It is a method of standing up for the protection and against the persecution of the Rights of All others (no “sides”). I do not equate the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President to the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. I am only making observations and pointing out a way of assessing personally how I choose to move forward as a citizen. History (and herstory) is only as helpful as what you learn from it. Other than that, I tend not to look backward (unless I am reminiscing about a lovely European vacation), but aim to go forward doing my best to create a society that protects the Rights and Freedoms for ALL.
It didn’t take long for the message to come tonight. I stepped my toes into the “Hot Tub Time Machine” with my heart filled with love and gratitude for all my family, friends, guides, supporters, students and well any-one who has helped me get to this point in my life. I feel like I have been running a marathon the last several weeks and I’ve made it to not so much of a finish line, but to a transition line. Deep exhale~
But, I digress, back to the message: Well, I said my prayers of thanks to the heavens as my body sunk into the warm waters. Tonight is the Harvest Full Moon and as suggested by this forecast, I decided I should follow the advise of #6 and channel my “inner mermaid”. I felt so filled with thanks that I had this thought that “I am the chosen One”. There can be no other explanation as to why everything has fallen into place so synchronistically the last few weeks. I’ve experienced things like the rain stopping or holding off until just the second I get the tent up for camping, or the car unloaded. Time even seemed to stop in order for my daughter and me to get the U-Haul unloaded and back by closing time for her move into a new apartment a couple of weeks ago. There has been so much to do. And yet, it has all gotten done. And with relative ease. I must be “special” if the clouds are parting and time is stopping for me. Right?
Ha ha, my Guides laugh. Yes, and no. The truth is “you are all the chosen One”. Some just realize it sooner than others. Others use their “free will” to delay the awareness of it. Well, I don’t think I am at the arrowhead on this realization. But, I am not on the tail end either. I hope you hear this message too and join me in gratitude for being “chosen”. There are greater things in store for all of us. Tonight’s Pisces Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse Hold The Key To Letting Go & Moving On. Join me in letting go, filled with gratitude for what has brought us to this Now. Join me in Celebration. Join me in Moving ON~~~It is Time we all realize that WE are ALL the Chosen ONE!
Here it is the end of summer. Labor Day here in the United States. As I reflect back over the last 3 months I can say I spent a lot of time in both avoidance and a Void Dance. I believe it is ok to spend time in either, the important thing is to know which place you are in.
Avoidance:The act of avoiding something.
A Void Dance:Time spent in the quiet space between the “stuff” of life.
I have recently decided to relocate my business and my art studio after many years in the same location. It means sorting, clearing, organizing and packing the “stuff” of my life. I have spent much of the time between other work obligations this summer doing just that. Sorting. Cleaning. Organizing. Packing. At times I’ve been doing it to avoid doing other things I’d rather not be doing and sometimes I am doing other things just to avoid doing the difficult work of deciding what to “do” with the stuff. But either way, it’s been a therapeutic process.
As an artist you learn to appreciate the voids or negative space. It’s not always the matter that matters. (a good thing to remind myself of, as I purge and de-clutter)
The voids are where the fertile earth feeds the roots. The voids are where the flames lick and spit between the burning logs. The voids are where the oxygen is. The voids are what make the beauty of the antique lace. The voids are what lets the soft breeze come through the screen door. The voids are the blue sky between the clouds. The voids are where the damp sand squeezes up between your toes on the beach. The voids are where you run your fingers through soft hair. The voids are where the sun peaks through the branches of the tree canopy. And the voids are where and when we dance.
I hope as you enjoy your last days of this summer you find time to Dance in the Void. It is this space and time between the stuff of life that is important. It is different than avoidance. It is this fertile space that feeds our creativity and our souls. It feeds what matters.
Ooh, Summer. With all your distractions. Some Good. Some Challenging. Where have I been? In avoidance? Or, in A Void Dance? Probably a little of both. (more on that later).
But today I am in the midst of one of life’s little challenges. Dealing with the illness of an aging pet. Our Dog showed up in early 2002 as a young pup. She was found by a neighborhood friend just running along the side of a Chicago city street. No collar, skinny, sun-faded fur. She was about 2 months old. That put her birthdate at about 1-1-2002. She was adorable, but what would she turn into? We had no idea of her breed or origins. Could she be a menacing, agitated fighting dog in a few months? She sure seemed sweet.
You see, the summer and autumn of 2001 were particularly challenging for our family. We lost our first dog, Molly to illness at 11 years that July. I learned much from my relationship with Molly. She was supposed to be our “practice child” to see if my husband and I were ready for parenthood. But, I mostly learned from her that you can struggle with the personalily of someone in your life and still really love and miss them when they are gone. This was an important lesson for me at that time. She was a “high-strung” border collie/belgian sheepdog mix who liked to bark (a lot) and as we got her a few years before having our children, she always seemed a bit jealous when they came along. Not really the “family pet”. Then a few weeks after we said a sad good-bye to our Molly my husband’s grandmother passed away. And in August the death of my father-in-law was a huge blow to our family. Followed of course, by the event of September 11th of that year that rocked the reality of the entire nation. Yes 2001 was a tough year for many (most) of us.
So then that following spring, some brightness and joy bounced into our life. Was I ready for another puppy? My kids ages 7 & 9 at the time were ready. They named her Lucky aftera story they had read about a stray dog, but we were truly the lucky ones. She has been the ideal dog (well if you don’t mind a lot of shedding fur). She is calm, patient, great with the kids and topped out at 40 pounds, just like we like! She has been lucky several times over the years too. Once, when she was young she bounded out of our back gate as my son left it open just a moment too long. She ran into the street and bounced off the bumper of a passing car. She was stunned, but nothing more. And she never did that again! And 2 1/2 years ago at the end of 2013 we noticed a change in her behavior. She quit jumping up on the bed, and seemed a bit off. This again came at a very difficult time for us, just 2 weeks after we lost my mother-in-law to cancer. A trip to the vet and an x-ray revealed a tumor on her spleen. We were willing to do whatever we could for our Lucky. We had the tumor removed, all 5+ pounds of it! (a stitch in time saved!!!) And she recovered to be as active as she had always been.
I realized today that at 14 1/2 years, sleeping next to my side of the bed, and under my feet everyday, I have spent more of my “life minutes” with her, than with any other being. Probably more than with my husband of almost 29 years. And now the last couple of weeks she has been struggling to walk up and down our stairs. She is just not “herself”. We went to the Vet a few days ago and they gave her an anti-infammatory that seemed to improve her movement, but she has been “up and down” every day this week. I can’t tell which direction this is going. And at her age, I’m not sure what to do. So, I’ve been bringing her into my work studio the last couple of days with me. I want to spend as much time as possible with this sweet baby, and I want to watch how she is feeling. This morning she was in the backseat, trying to lay down for the ride. As I turned on the radio this song came on the radio. I believe she was singing it to me.
The following is a hypothetical letter. I wrote it myself as though my sister has written it to me 26 years from now on my birthday. I wrote it as an exercise for a Circle of transitioning Women led by Circle Tender, Susan Lucci that I am a part of. The assignment was to imagine a celebration near the end of your life and ask some of the guests to speak on your behalf about your life and how you fulfilled your “Life’s Desires”. In light of the issues our world is facing in the NOW this was very therapeutic for me. Here is the hypothetical letter from my sister:
Happy Birthday Pam! Can you believe that you are 80 years old and I am just a couple of weeks from being 79? Who would have thought this is how the world would be in 2042? Oh yeah, you would have! You always believed and you were right, that the world and the humans living here would begin to transform and shift when we were in our early 50’s. That we could overcome the issues of poverty and climate change during our lifetime. I always loved calling you on the phone, (remember those crazy old devices necessary to communicate?) and hearing about the books you were reading about the Unity Consciousness and our Higher Selves. And that ET’s are Us!
Yes, I remember when you were younger that you would get frustrated and discouraged that you weren’t sure how to bring your value and implement your desires in the world. And you were disappointed that your work didn’t really support yourself. That you always had to rely on your husband’s income for the survival of your family. But remember, that was back when we had the old money and banking system. You were one of the few who believed we could find a better way to “survive”. Oh yeah, not survive, but THRIVE and flourish. And that abundance was a “basic right” that All Humans were born to on our planet Earth. And you were correct. Just see how fast that concept came to be accepted and implemented? And your energy, faith, and creative vision were a part of our collective ascension into this new flourishing life for ALL. You helped others SEE that this was possible. You helped me see it, even though it meant I had to transform my own business and livelihood away from helping people file their annual income tax returns. (And pay the taxes! Oh, remember how horrible it was for people to have to do that every year?) The fact that there are so few people suffering and “in need” now, and that we no longer pay for WAR and military expenses as a nation has really made it so much easier for people. And I much preferred helping people decide what to do with their abundance and decide how to best share their wealth and “pay it forward” as they used to say!
Oh, and remember that summer evening under the stars when our children were young and we were sitting around the bonfire in my backyard? The kids were running around in the dark playing on their “walkie-talkie radios” (Talk about old-time communications!) You pretended to talk to them like an alien from “Planet Micro-Brew”. A few years later micro-breweries were everywhere! And then a few years after that the Earth made peaceful and mutually beneficial contact with Advanced Life out in the Universe. It was like you could SEE it that night looking out at the far away stars above our fire. You also had a way of looking into the Flames of the Fire for “Life’s Answers”, too.
I thank you so much for being my older sister, my friend, guide, mentor and visionary. You’ve always been there when I’ve needed you. It’s so nice now to be psychically connected so that we don’t need to worry about the phone to communicate anymore. Now, whenever we need to we can hear, feel and KNOW how much the Other One cares and loves us. Even when we are apart. Oh yeah, there is no such thing as “apart”. We are each our individual spark of the Unity that is Life. Thank you for making the Soul Contract to be the spark that guided me into this life with you in it. As you Know, I love you.
Your Sister, B~
Note: I went searching in my gift card pile for the perfect card to imagine having this letter written on and I found this. The artwork is by Helena Nelson-Reed. The Synchronicity of this card’s message goes beyond “perfect” to DIVINE!
Oh, Dear. I may really be just about to step into “it” today. But, here I go. I intended this blog to be an honest insight into where I am in my head and heart. And the last few weeks have led me to questioning our collective and personal “shame”. So, what is it? Why do we have it? Does it still serve us? If not, how to we rise above it?
So, how did I get here? Well, the last few weeks I have started a new piece for the She Said/He Said exhibit coming up a the Groshek Gallery in Chicago. I had an inspiration to do a Tree of Knowledge/Adam & Eve/ Paradise piece. It has caused me to explore my memories of my childhood Sunday school lessons regarding the origin story (myth?). April has also been a month of reflecting on a turning point in my own relationships. I don’t want this to get too “long and involved” but, I do want to share enough detail that this makes sense. So, I’ll do my best.
So the story of Adam and Eve for me is about “shame”. We learn shame very young and, I believe usually from our parents. (Confession: I’m a parent, I know I’ve fallen into my shadow and used shaming to attempt to solicit the behavior I desire from my kids).
Last Saturday I went to see comedian, Jen Kirkman where I bought her new book, I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself. As I was listening to the Prince soundtrack and waiting for her to come on-stage I started reading the introduction to her book. She starts out with “Ugh, my parents are going to read this.” (I know what she means!) She then goes on to quote another of my favorite funny people, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul). He once said that people should make their art, whatever it is, “as though their parents were dead”. And why is that? I think it is because we worry about “shame”. Not that we will cause our parent’s to be embarrassed by our work; but that they, our first source of “shame” will bring on that bad feeling within us again. (Please Note: I love my parents and don’t wish to cause them any embarrassment here or elsewhere nor do I wish they were dead, but when I stated I might “step in it” this is it. I just believe that we must rise above this concern for feeling shamed in order to “grow up and evolve”.
And how appropriate that only a few days after the death of the musician Prince while listening to his “Pussy Control” I was reading this book introduction and ruminating on “shame”. Prince was a successful artist who by all outward appearances, rose above a concern for self-shame. In fact by many recent reflections on his life his ability to be his true self and express his true artistry is greatly admired (and envied) by his fans and others. And that is my point I guess. Can we really do our best most creative work if we are in a place of shame? And can we really bring to the world the healing and solutions needed if we are not creating from our highest, best self?
Well, I have gone on here for a bit, and while I have a lot more rolling around in my head and heart regarding the story of Eden, I think I will continue on another day. You see the story of the Garden of Eden includes another figure, Adam’s first “wife”, Lilith. And she takes me on another “thread”. So, rather than try to cover too much “ground”, you will have to wait for “that stitch in time” and for the rest of this story. In the meantime consider the role of “shame” in your life. Is it holding you back from being the highest, true-ist expression of your “self”. What would you do if you didn’t fear (the feeling of) shame?