Fungal Bouquets

20160628_113414I just returned from several days of camping in the hills of Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburg.  Each year from the time my children were 2 and 4 years old until they got through high school I met up with 3 other women friends and our 10 children to go “Chick Camping”.  We travel to places within 2 hours of home for the first few years and then as one friend moved out East we traveled a further distance each year to meet up more centrally to all of us.  So, much fun.  So many memories.  But as my children are now 21 and 23 (and as are the others, moving on into adulthood), we had not camped together in a few years.  Until this past weekend.  This time just the four “moms” went.

On day one of our adventure we set out on a 7-mile hike through the woods in the heat and humidity. As my friend Kate stopped to take yet another picture of unusual fungi she remarked something to the effect of “how interesting that there are so many (beautiful) ways for things to decay.”20160626_122243

I am turning the page to a new chapter of my life. I am bringing some long standing parts of my life to a close over the next couple of months (if plans continue on the path I envision).  I know it is time.  Yet, it can be hard sometimes not to look back and yearn for what once was.  Camping with kids (like life in general) had both it’s joys and it’s challenges.

This is currently a time of great change for many on this planet (and for the planet herself).  I think it can be helpful to see the Fungal Bouquets as a symbol and a reminder that what “used to be”, can be “food” for something new and beautiful.  Decay?  I prefer to think of it as New Growth.

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Please Don’t Listen To Me

(This was written a few days after the Orlando nightclub shootings and not posted until now.  I was still feeling a bit like my words just weren’t adequate for the situation at the time.  Not sure if they are now, but do feel called to share this)

Don’t Listen. To me.  Especially this week when there are so many other voices making noise.  Making noise about guns, noise about hatred, noise about religious beliefs, noise about sexuality, noise about safety, noise about protection, noise about government leaders, noise about laws, noise about politicians, noise, noise, noise….

Why?  Because, my words, no matter how they are written or spoken are going to divide us.  You will either agree or disagree and I probably won’t change that.  Or you may not even understand me at all.  My words are written in my first and pretty much only language (American English) that only a segment of the people of the world can read and comprehend.  And even if English is your first language, you may still mis-understand the intent I hope to convey.  So, I won’t.  Try.  To Convey Thoughts or Ideas. Now.  When we need most to be reminded of our Oneness.  And words just won’t can’t do that.

A few years ago I was a visiting teaching artist for several weeks to one of Chicago area’s “alternative schools”.  When I took the “gig” I really didn’t know what that meant exactly: “alternative”.  Well this was a school for middle school aged children (young adults) who had been “kicked out” of regular public school for “mis-behaviour”.   I was told going into the position that I could not use “gang affiliated colors”.  What were those?  Well, black, red, grey, silver, blue, yellow, green, and on and on.  How do you do art projects without the three primaries and black, I ask?  Well, I had them dyeing yarns and weaving with pastel shades and got very creative in resolving this issue.  At the same time I was working with a 2nd grade class in a suburban elementary school and we were learning about “symbols” and creating art that “symbolized” who we were.  Soccer balls, baseball bats, flowers, rainbows all played into their imagery.  Words, symbols, colors, flags, songs, manifestos, all defining who we are individually and collectively in our small groups.  All very important at separating us.  What is important to utilize when working to unite us?

I want to believe that if there were no words, if there were no language you could feel my intent.  I want to be like our bright sun as it came out from hiding behind the cloud or the tree.  I will share my Light.  I will share my Vibration.  I will share my Love.  Please see the Brightness.  Please feel the Tingle.  Please embrace the Warmth.  But please don’t listen, there is nothing here to hear.  Please just FEEL IT.  2014-01-06 16.02.08

Keep the Line Open

Tonight as I ventured out to my Hot Tub Time Machine I caught sight of the sliver of a waxing new moon, just a couple of days old.  It looked like “God’s fingernail”.  My first thought was that it is just enough to scratch “it” off.  What?  Anything left that still needs to go.

As I soak in my tub my Guides tell me to “just relax.  You’ve earned it.  Climbing the mountain was hard work.  There will be days of white water rapids ahead in this river, so enjoy the warm spring fed pool at the top of this ride.”  I then ask my Guides if there is anything I should do.  They tell me, “just be available.  Keep your LINE OPEN.  If we call, PICK UP THE PHONE!”  Ha Ha.  My Guides have such a good sense of humor!

Mountain Top

Mountain Top
My view on a camping trip to Shenandoah National Park circa 2007.

This morning as I transitioned out of sleep I heard that Voice that whispers to me before my head gets cluttered with the thoughts of the day.  (I am not a person who likes to jump out of bed at the sound of an alarm. I linger and listen. I get my best guidance in this liminal space.)  The Voice said, “We are so pleased, Pam. You made it over the mountain top.”

What do  I see from the mountain top?  I expect to see a beautiful fertile valley below, but it’s still “early in the day” and the fog is hiding the view.  So, I will linger here for a while.  I will wait for the path ahead to clear. I will enjoy the beauty as it gradually appears through the mist.  I know the trek ahead will become so much easier. I have made it over the Mountain Top!  Thank you, Guides for helping me get here and for celebrating my arrival.  I couldn’t have done it without You.

 

 

Flight

Well, I knew this day was coming.  My baby robins left the nest this week.  Today it is suddenly very quiet in my studio.  I did not realize how frequently I heard the babies chirp, chirp as Mom and Dad Robin flew in with a meal.  I found great joy in seeing the reaction of people as they walked down the street and noticed them so close to the sidewalk.  One evening a family watched for several minutes asking each other if they were “real”, and yes, “I think I saw one blink!”.  And  I found it facinating just how many people walked by oblivious to the miracle of nature just inches from their face, because they were too busy on their phone to notice.  On Monday the four little robins had gotten so big they barely fit in the nest and I knew the time was near.  I also could tell that Mom and Dad Robin knew it too.  They became pretty aggressive at “dive bombing” anyone who came too near or lingered for too long.  I was not in my studio when they took their first flights.  But I don’t believe the Mother Robin pushes them out of the nest.  No, they spent many days stretching and testing their wings.  They just finally got too big for the nest and had no other option but to fly.

I too am feeling a little like that.  Like my current nest doesn’t quite fit anymore.  So, what to do?  I just keep testing and spreading my wings.  When the time is right, I have faith,  I will be ready to FLY!  Enjoy this little video on my Facebook Page of my babies the day before they left me.  See it HERE.

And, I urge you to slow down, stop and enjoy the miracles of nature just inches from your face everyday.  It puts things in perspective and teaches lessons about life you just can’t learn on your computer and phone screens.  For a great way to learn how to do that I recommend my friend Sallie Wolf‘s book, “The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound, a birder’s journal”.  It has great lessons for watching, documenting and enjoying birds and the natural world around you.  Perfect for children (and adults!).

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The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound, by Sallie Wolf

 

 

 

A Case For Pillow Talk

20160511_094018In his heart he said: 
     I love her so very much

In his head he said: 
     I hope she loves me too.

From his mouth he said: 
     Can we eat dinner early tomorrow? 
     I have an evening meeting.

And then he fell asleep.
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In her heart she said: 
     I will love and care for him forever.

In her head she said: 
     I hope he will always care for me.

From her mouth she said: 
     Early dinner tomorrow?  Sure!

And then she fell asleep.

A Case For Pillow Talk
©2016 Pamela Penney

 

Inspired by a recent Broadly article, Mark My Words: The Subversive History of Women Using Thread as Ink, I transformed a couple of vintage pillow cases I acquired from my grandmother.  I am pretty sure she did the decorative stitching with the rick rack trim.  I created this piece for the group exhibit, “She Said | He Said” which opened this weekend at the new Groshek Art Gallery in Chicago.  After 30 plus years of sleeping with my husband I can attest to the fact that what comes out of the mouth is rarely the “important stuff”.  I thought the use of grandma’s pillow cases was perfect for this sentiment.  My grandparent’s were married over 70 years.  I wonder sometimes about their “pillow talk” over all of those years.
I also coincidently came across a New Yorker article from a 1996 interview with the Obama’s.  I found it sweet that our current President once said this about his wife, Michelle…..“but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”

Tonight, before I “fall asleep” I think I’ll try to express something more important than what is planned for tomorrow, or what happened today.  I will  share from my heart, even if I can’t find the right words….

Grandma Lilas and Great Aunt Beryl

(Throw Back Thursday)

This morning as I was breakfasting on my “Facebook-feed” I was graced with a picture of my grandpa’s brother, Harold and his wife, Beryl.  My dad’s cousin’s wife (got that?) posted how she still missed her mother-in-law who had passed on 12 years ago today.  Wow, how time flies!  Yes, my great Aunt Beryl was one of those “Elders” during my childhood that was just someone you thought would always be there.  She lived just a mile down the road, next to the home my great-grandparents had lived in and just a quarter-mile from my grandparents.  I grew up in a rural area close to many of my extended family.

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So as tomorrow is Earth Day 2016 I reflect on the strong female farm wives that I was influenced by during my childhood.  Women like Beryl and my grandma Lilas lived with their hands in our Mother Earth.  They were both women with amazing flowers beds and vegetable gardens.  They got their hands dirty, but always while wearing a dress (and apron!)  So, that brings me to the point of this story.  I went to the farm “auction sale” for the estate of my Uncle Harold and Aunt Beryl where they sold off tools, furniture and other household items to liquidate the property shortly after Harold passed away.  And I was struck by one thing in particular.  My Aunt Beryl had a large “tin” container with all of the hang tags from the garments that she had purchased.  They included sometimes a note with a description of the item, a receipt perhaps and always the extra buttons or matching yarns required to repair the item, should it be needed.  Yes, I too sometimes keep these items for garments I purchase.  But, never in this organized a manner.  And frankly things I buy don’t come with these items as frequently as they used to.  And to my ultimate point, we now live in a “throw away” society.  Most people purchase items never intending to repair them.  They are either just not that “special” or worth that much of an “investment” of our time.  That just wasn’t the way it was for our grandparent’s generation. I believe that we must return (throw back – everyday) to these habits of our Elders in order to heal and save our Mother Earth.  There is an on-line effort to raise awareness of the “True Cost” of the First World’s Garment Industry (check out the True Cost documentary film if you haven’t already!).  Recent efforts like the  #30wears campaign and the Eco-Age Green Carpet Challenge are starting to raise awareness in the (Fast) Fashion industry and changes are starting to be made.  And I intend to use A Stitch In Time Saves as a platform for Fashion Reform as well.  And most of all, I intend to break grandma’s sock darning egg out of the shadow box and start using it again!  What do you plan to do to change the cost of fashion to us and to our planet?  Please comment below with your #30wears, your #mindfulmending or your #StitchInTimeSaves.

Vernal Equinox ~ Balance

The balance between light and dark.  The day is equal to the night.  In less than a couple of hours the sun will be centered over the earth’s equator creating perfect mid-line balance.  I had a vision today of myself on a trapeze flying through the air, swinging from one extreme to the other.  I do that.  Usually, I am fluctuating back and forth from my doubts  over to faith and optimism with glimpses of Truth beyond my understanding, rarely pausing for long anywhere in the middle.

About a year ago I read a very enlightening book, The Gene Keys: Unlocking the Higher Purpose Hidden in Your DNA, by Richard Rudd.  As part of the book you have the opportunity to go to www.genekeysgoldenpath.com and get your own personal Hologenetic Profile.  This unique set of “keys” unlock the mystery of your “path”.  My path starts with my Life Work of gene key 63.  In the shadow aspect this key shows up as Doubt.  I often feel the pull of my logical brain, bringing me back to the dark places of doubt.  Doubt of others, doubt of myself, doubt of the Universe.  But when I can let that go and push my trapeze out into the vast middle space toward the unknown I find the Gift of this key:  Inquiry.  “Inquiry is about remaining open without finding a definitive answer to life”.  The more a person can inquire more deeply and openly, the more apt one is to uncover something more complex, something new and something that will push one forward to a new level of understanding.  And when I let the momentum of my trapeze swing from Doubt on through Inquiry to take me to the highest vibration of this key I reach the Siddhi of Truth.  Yet, somehow in the great paradox that is the human condition, the Truth is found within the Doubt and my surrender to it.

So, tonight as we move through the transition from Winter into Spring, as the Sun is ever so momentarily balanced over our equator, I surrender to my doubts (Dark) and then I push off into the unknown territory of further questioning and inquiry, reaching for more truth (and Light).  Balance in nature is not stationary, it is an allowing of movements back and forth sometimes big, sometimes small, always moving, only momentarily in the center points or on the extremes.  I let go of my extremes with faith, I do not hold on.  I also do not get stuck hanging in the middle.  I swing knowing that I will swing closer to the Truth with the momentum of joy and with the acceptance and trust that wherever I am in the arc of my flight, it is just exactly where I am supposed to be.  Striving for Balance.  Yin and Yang.  Light and Dark.  Equi~Nox.  

En~joy the Swing into Spring!  

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