A Year of Listening: to What?

This is my year of listening. On Mondays I post a quotation from my collection, words that resonated the first time I heard them, and which continue to resonate. That is a plan for listening which I share with others. I also have personal listening that is about discovery. What am I hearing?

I started listening to Ted Talks as I work in the studio. I am listening to understand the size, structure, and energy of these presentations. I also get to think about topics that would not necessarily come across my radar.

I am listening to trusted voices. Good words come from folks dear to me, good and familiar books, and from those who share my path, if even for a short time. I also hear my own voice, sometimes more clearly through my visual art.

The best thing I am hearing is God’s laughter. Several years ago, I told my sister that I wanted a complex answer to a simple question. This was not a whim, not a clever sound bite, but rather a deep desire, a prayer. I listen and I hear complexity. How do I like this? God is laughing and I am dancing.



A Year of Listening, Week 6

Find out who you are and do it on purpose. –Dolly Parton


A Year of Listening, Week 4

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The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself. –Ursala K. LeQuin

A Bowl of Providence

Providence.  Not Rhode Island.

Divine Providence. I had not intellectually encountered the concept until my friend Susan shared ideas from her seminary training about 15 years ago.  And I periodically ruminate on them.  This week I heard them in my pastor’s sermon.

I am preparing food for a church council supper this evening.  I could find a recipe and go to the store for ingredients.  I choose to open the doors of pantry and refrigerator to see what is there.  I begin to create.  Fresh vegetables from the garden, rice cooked with curry, a can of pinto beans.  The flavors are melding in a big bowl in the refrigerator.

I will call the dish “A Bowl of Providence.”. I learned to cook this way from my maternal grandmother, known to the world as Miz Alice.  She too was a part of my providence.


What are you doing with your providence?  Have you even looked to see what is there?

Affirmation: A little Salt

Recently I had three craftsmen in my home installing a new heating / air conditioning unit. Their comments on the amount of visible fabric generated conversation about craftsmanship, the joy of problem solving with mind and hands working in concert. In a few moments we affirmed each others’ vocations.

Many years ago, an employer told me I was worth my weight in salt. I retain her quick remark, made in the midst of some hectic retail work, as a page turner on days when I doubt what I am doing. I appreciate that this was not a compliment, but an evaluation. Most days, she preferred gold; she made jewelry. But when there is cooking to be done, a little salt is often desired.

Who has smiled over your work space? Who has described your worth? What do you do with the affirmations?

Prepare: making a new tool to add ease to my work

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Step 1: Assemble 2″ insulation sheet cut to size, batting, mid weight cotton fabric, poster board, utility tape

Step 2:  Glue poster board to one flat side of the insulation and let dry. Layer fabric, batting, and insulation with poster board up. Wrap fabric around the sheet of insulation and tape into place.

Step 3: Ta dah! This happy textile artist has a light weight print / paint board for table runners, scarves, and clerical stoles.  Actually, I have two.  If the weather cooperates, I will be practicing with these this weekend.

Three words 2012

I believe in the power of words.  Each year I choose three words to shape and focus my time, space, and energy.  They usually arrive in my brain sometime between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  I am grateful when they appear early, because I can roll them around and get comfortable with them.

Last year these words arrived: trust, invent, and nurture.  I have come a great distance with trust and nurture.  They have been invaluable for leaving old structures and evolving new relationships.  It was pleasurable to spend time with practices that were once central to my daily life.  I welcomed these old friends back.

Invent was chosen because it seemed like the more intellectual side of creativity.  I love revelling in the intuitive.  Invent triggers visions of research and controlled experimentation.  Invent was a choice beyond comfort towards a new balance.  I believe I need more time with this word.

How do you use words to shape your life?  Do you make resolutions?  What three words will help you in 2013?

A Short Distance Correctly

I collect quotations.  They are tucked into books, into drawers, into baskets.  Some are neatly assembled in a small notebook.  And some roll around in my head, waiting to be recalled.  On certain days those head rollers push into my routine and demand attention.

Today two quotations have pushed their way into fabric calculations and food preparation.  The first is from Edward Albee, collected in my college days.  “Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way to come back a short distance correctly.”  It has always reminded me of my childhood chore of bringing in the cows for evening milking.  Today it applies to family relationships.  And always, it informs my creative process.

The other quotation is from the poet Adrienne Rich; a copy of it is framed on my bedroom dresser.  “We must use what we have to invent what we desire.”  Today I am not thinking so much of my tangible possessions (Except when I was chopping left over turkey.) as those items I carry in my metaphorical backpack.  Creativity, humor, inventiveness, faith, craftsmanship, wordsmithing, passion.

Those are probably good things to be carrying as I work myself round to coming back that short distance correctly.  I am hoping that the end point and my desire are the same, and that I will recognize it as such.

What good words are informing your day?  What are you inventing?

Start, Finish, and Make

I do not like the word deadline.  I do not read nonfiction books from the beginning.  I am in essence a maker and I favor neither the starting nor the finish point.  I like the exploration that comes in the middle.

I am planning the next 6 months of studio work, during which I will make many items.  As I schedule commitments into the calendar, I have started with the finish points, many of which have been determined by exterior circumstances.  Yes, that was the easy part.

I need to know what the starting point looks like.  Is it a sketch, a shopping list, a contract?  My inner voice strongly suggests I choose and get moving.  I would like to choose well.

What do your starting and finishing points look like?  Do you also prefer the making in the middle?

Enough: Time

I attended a small business seminar last week.  One of the presenters began his workshop with two questions: what is you biggest challenge and what is your greatest aspiration?  The most common answer to the first question was enough time.

I have been thinking about that answer all week, accompanied by the old adage of “make hay while the sun shines.”  We had exceptional warm days and bad weather is coming up the coast.  I have been cleaning and rearranging the garage.  Today I mowed the yard for hopefully the last time this year.  I have structured my 24 /7 to make good use of the weather.  Storm Sandy has added a sense of urgency.

I have not felt short of time, because I have had clear goals and a flexible focus.  I would like to bring that to more of my weeks.  What makes you satisfied with the use of your time?