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Archive for March 2012

photo essay . Seven Skies

Two weeks ago I took my kids to our family farm for Spring Break, and I spent some intentional time away from my project schedule. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, so it felt like a special treat. During the week I was experimenting with the Hipstamatic iPhone app. And I was experimenting with gazing at the skies for no good reason. Put the two together and it makes for these seven skies.

I’ve been trying to incorporate that same sky gazing into my routine back at home and work. Are you taking time to gaze today?

The Things We Do Here

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Here, we walk on gravel roads and listen to the sound of our own feet crunching in search of adventure. We choose the most colorful stones to carry with us.

Here, we pick the plantings of our grandmothers and give them new prominence. We find wildflowers both delicate and steely. They journey from dusty fingers to sun-chased bottles as we honor them. Each has a smell, even if only the scent of our own attention.

Here, we hold a roly poly in our hands and wait. We wait for it to find enough comfort to unwind itself and explore the vastness of skin and palm and wrist. Its tiny feet tickle our flesh as we deliver it to the next blade of grass.

Here, we play with sticks. They are swords and staffs and wands armed for magic.

Here, we build fires to roast our hotdogs, baking our laughter into a fine buffet. We scream and blow our blackened marshmallows when they find themselves ablaze. We giggle and sigh with relief as they melt into the chocolate.

Here, we count the spots on ladybugs to discern if they are random or patterned. We wonder why some are missing their spots. Maybe they’re too old or too young.

Here, we pull the inaugural dandelion of the season — the first of many treasures released to bear more.

Here, we build things out of scrap wooden blocks — out of nothing, really. They are leftovers with windows and stories.

Here, we find Orion’s belt, gazing at the stars, and wish for parting clouds to reveal his prey. We are sure there is no twinkle as bright as this dark sky.

Here, we play our games and watch our movies as consolation prizes when outside has become too dark or too sweaty to dispatch its trophies.

Here, we hold hands, comparing sizes. We grab hold of ourselves in years gone by and in years to come. “I’m growing up,” we declare.

Here, we get back to there gingerly. We see there in different windswept light, through the lenses of simplicity sweetened with laughter and time well-spent. Here, we do nothing. And everything.

The Sky

It’s been a while since I looked at the sky. For no good reason. I follow the demands of my little ones quite often as they direct my attention to the moon or a star or a jet stream, but I have to admit that I don’t often ascertain the same wonder they seem to glean. No, my gaze is sometimes more of a momentary patronage of their whims while my brain is centered on my own passing fancies. I guess that’s how it goes with the seemingly constant multi-tasking that calls itself motherhood.

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Yesterday afternoon I looked at this sky. On purpose. For no OTHER purpose but to see it. My children were using it as a time-keeping device for how long we could stay outside — until the sun went down. But, I was just looking. Just looking to see it change and glow from a peaceful seat. Just looking to let it impress me, which it rarely fails to do when I’m paying attention.

On Friday the kids and I came to the farm to spend the week of Spring Break. It’s a place where the main rule has become, “everyone does what they want to do.” And while being the mommy requires me to keep that in reason, still we try to adhere to the spirit of the rule as closely as possible. We’ve all been looking forward to it for a long time — since our visit here for Thanksgiving really, when we had the idea to spend this week here. It’s been my pleasure to plan moments and days in this place away from our routine, and somehow the moments become cause for celebration.

The word “respite” is defined as an interval of relief. It’s the word that has risen in my thinking as I’ve been approaching this week on holiday. I’ve felt the need recently for a respite and when I arrived at the farm I realized that I’ve been relying on this week to provide it.

A respite.
From demands.
From schedules.
From keeping time.
From routine.
From stresses.
From creative exercises.
From information.
From availability.
From the pull of being in touch.
From the push of deadlines.

I found myself reducing my expectations for any “work” I wanted to do this week, communicating to clients transparently that I would be out of town. I found myself eliminating my own overestimation of what I might accomplish — a rare occurrence for my brain which is a champion overestimator when it comes to organizing “free time”. I found myself searching my bookshelves for more books to read and skimming past the design titles for more fiction options. And, of course, I found myself wanting to soak up my babies, just to enjoy their presence and their laughter and their funny stories. I get that a lot from them, but I’ve been looking forward to a time when it wasn’t encumbered by schedules and reading homework and my own need to do the dishes or put the toys away.

Yes, I have a lot of expectations about this week at the farm. The funny thing is; those expectations aren’t based on what I’m doing. They’re really based on what I’m NOT doing — my own willingness to stop. To sit. To listen. To laugh. To gaze at the sky.

field trip . Chapel Light

A few weeks ago I took a field trip to the MSU Campus again. I’ve already shared the early blooming magnolia varieties that inspired me, but I also enjoyed a visit to the Chapel of Memories. The building is a campus landmark built from the bricks of the Old Main Dormitory that burned many, many years ago. I’ve always loved the quiet of that place and courtyard adjacent to it. With this trip, what captured me was the light and color displayed in the structure. Enjoy.

Joseph Kony

I didn’t know who he was either. Until I saw this video this morning. Once I met him, I knew his name needed to be shared. Joseph Kony is listed as #1 on the list of world’s worst war criminals by the International Criminal Court. He was the first indicted at the organization’s inception. The mission of this video is to make him known. To bring him to justice and to thereby save (or bring justice for) the more than 30,000 children he has stolen from their homes.

No, it isn’t my normal post of inspiring design or coveted products. But it is inspiring, nonetheless.

“The better world we want is coming. It’s just waiting for us to stop at nothing.”

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