Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life, flood musings pt. 2 The Lessons

There is so much to be grateful for during this blessed Advent and Christmas season.

There are people I've grown closer to since the flood, people I knew but may not have known well, or perhaps I knew them well once but had lost touch over the years. Then they showed up, and kept showing up, these people I've learned to see in a new light because of the seemingly unending bounds of their generosity of time, funds and/or spirit. People who made me realize I had a lot to learn about giving and service to others. I am so grateful for the lessons they taught without even realizing it.

And there are some people I was once close to who all but disappeared from our lives since the first weekend in October. This a little harder to understand; I'm tempted to believe maybe not knowing what to do or say or how to help kept them at bay, I don't know. But I'm grateful for their lessons, too, the ones they taught without even realizing it.

So much has changed in the past 10 weeks, and is still changing. Our home looks like someone else's place. We are still settling in to the newness of it all. The last phase - siding replacement - was begun yesterday. So by this time next week, our home will look completely different on the outside as well.

What is to come...
Upgrades, every one. From the new appliances...

This new dishwasher...probably my favorite of all! 
to the new flooring....

The day we came home to this was!
And yes, it's all very, very good.

It's just also very, very different.

The rest of life did not stand still during this time. During the mix of it all, I turned a year older. So did my son.

Search the blog for my hummingbird cake recipe; it's the boy's favorite!
Fall ebbed into winter. One of my closest friends in the world moved, something I'm still processing has happened. Another announced that she and her spouse are separating and that she is also moving. These changes tear at my heartstrings; both lived a stone's throw from me and were frequent guests for coffee and kitchen table talk.

But there is also joy. A family member married his long-distance love after a three year courtship that involved traveling to another country, a lot of technology, and a hell of a lot of patience. I've been there; I can relate to this and feel overwhelming happiness that these two were able to make it happen. I'm thrilled for them and welcome both her and her child into the family. But for my own reasons, their story tears a little at my heartstrings, too.

Still I am grateful for the lessons all of these occurrences have taught over the past few weeks. The season of Advent is one of my favorites, and it's the perfect time of year to reflect. The flood's aftermath changed my home, my environment, my bank account, my daily routines and my thought processes. As life went on around me during the reconstruction, I changed, too. What seemed like chaos for weeks has now become an opportunity to rebuild, not only our home but my goals for myself and my little family. I can't tell you why, but I can tell you many ideas and ambitions I had before October have fallen by the wayside; they just don't seem important anymore.

The menagerie of photos adds just the right touch of familiarity! 
I think it will take a few more rounds of coffee and hours of kitchen table talk with friends both new and old to close out 2015 and come to terms with all of it's lessons. I think it will take a lot of quiet prayer, meditation and reflection during this Advent season for me to really let go of the old and be ready to focus on the new. I can't sum up why it is that I still feel a little lost, a little stranded, a little alone and 'not myself', but these feelings fade more and more with each passing day.

Outside of my window, birds are singing and the sun is making a glorious December appearance.

There is so, so much to be grateful for.

I wish you all a Blessed Advent and holiday season.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Life, Interrupted....Post Flood Musing, pt. one

There are moments I will never forget...

Going to sleep the night before to the gentle sound of rain.
Waking up to the police banging on our door a few hours later.
The sound of a rain that had become anything but gentle.
The water rising as I was informed we needed to evacuate our home.
The panic.
The sight of a neighbor's car completely submerged in water.
The long, wet ride in the back of a police car with my son, a few bags of clothes, and our terrified dog.
The cold, shaky feeling, once safely ensconced in the home of a friend, that I could not get dry, even after changing into dry clothes.

I know now that feeling is fear, subsiding.

A neighbor took this photo during the early morning evacuations...

Coming home was humbling. Seeing the devastation, the damage that forces beyond our control can wreak, makes one want to simply collapse into a heap on the floor and sob. And I thought about it, the first moment I stepped inside my front door after the flood...but I didn't. I didn't because there simply wasn't time. Like everyone else in the neighborhood, I was immediately thrown into the crux of aftermath, an aftermath in which no one knew, really, what to do, except that things needed to be done, and done fast.

And so we learned. We learned that water damage is minimized the faster you can get drywall and insulation out. So we learned to knock out dry wall and rip out soggy insulation. We learned that linoleum flooring comes up ever so easily when it's wet, and that after a few days, the sound of half a dozen drying fans running full speed becomes simple background noise. We learned that living in one room of the house because the others are uninhabitable or crammed full of salvaged furniture and other items is inconvenient, but entirely possible.

We also learned that letting go, a favorite catch phrase of our time, can create a sense of numbness when you are letting go of so much that it's just impossible to process. In the famed words of Scarlett O'Hara, flawed icon of Southern literature, "I can't think about this now. I'll think of it tomorrow."

When the wrecker came for my car, totaled in the flood, I couldn't think about it then. I couldn't think about it the next day, either, because there was too much to do. Later, when the wreckers came back, and took car after car from our parking lot, and then others came, helpers, offering food, clothing, assistance... I still couldn't think about it.

When my birthday came a couple of days later, I couldn't think about that either. As autumn, my favorite season, passed unnoticed in the weeks that followed, I ran on some kind of auto-pilot, because life, while interrupted, still needed to go on.

Being a single parent can be challenging any given day. But being a single parent during and following a natural disaster can demand you pull from reserves within you that you didn't even know you possessed, because no matter what you as a person are going through in those moments, it's up to you as a parent to hold the universe together for the one (or ones) for whom you are the north star, ever present, never faltering, a guiding light, always reassuring.

And that's exactly what keeps you together - that's where the great reserves of strength come from. That's what gets you through it all. If you are like me, you do exactly what Scarlett O'Hara said, you think about it later, 6 weeks later, when there is not so much to do, when the rain has finally stopped and the sun is shining and the reconstruction is almost completed.

And even though it was weeks ago, and you only lost material things, and you know it could have been a lot worse, you still feel like collapsing into a heap on the floor and sobbing.

But you don't. Instead, you take a deep breath, make another cup of coffee and marvel at the sight of the few remaining brilliant autumn leaves on the tree outside your window, how they glitter almost golden against the backdrop of white clouds and blue sky.

( be continued)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


The blog will be on indefinite hiatus due to our home being flooded in the weekend's Hurricane Joaquin. We lost the car and sustained significant damage to our lower level. Our state suffered catastrophic damage throughout many counties and there is still flooding occurring as more and more dams give way. We will begin reconstruction process of our home on Thursday but some people lost everything, some even lost their lives, so we are so grateful that we did not sustain more loss than we did. Thanks to all readers in advance for your patience and help support South Carolina during this time if you can!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Zen: Mothering and Intuition - Autumn Issue Coming Soon!

Mothering and Intuition - the theme of the Autumn issue of The Mother Magazine. 

Natural. Gentle. Beautiful. 

As always, I'm thrilled and beyond grateful to be associated with such an insightful and inspiring publication.

You can pre-order this issue either print or digitally by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday Walks: The Energy of a Place

Autumn is descending in the South.

And I can't seem to get enough time outside. Though I love our woods, it's always fun to explore new woods, and we had the chance a couple of weeks ago when we visited friends staying at a family estate in Edgefield County.

Natural places have an energy all their own. I instantly felt the energy of these woods. It was inviting, beckoning us in, and the deeper we went, the more I felt pulled to keep going.

We were miles away from the nearest neighbor, but we were far from alone. I always consider seeing a snake to be a good sign, and this guy was nice enough to pose before going about his merry way!

He might just become my new background photo on Facebook!
It wasn't just the critters, though. There was a sense, in these woods, that you were in the midst of multiple times simultaneously, as if you'd walked far away from the present and found yourself in the woods of your ancestors. Perhaps it's the Cherokee in me, but Southern woods always feel like home. And let me tell you, energy here was so strong it was almost palpable! Perhaps because this land has been essentially undisturbed for decades, even though remnants of when it was once worked and farmed long ago still remain, slowly being reclaimed by nature.

I was told there were burial mounds further across this meadow, and I wasn't surprised. In these woods, you could feel the presence of those who were here before you almost as if they were walking by your side.

And of course, there were mushrooms!!!

He was so teeny tiny!!!

They're getting bigger...

This guy took the cake - I think we could have camped out under him!
And of course, it pays to notice when you've entered the faery realm!

These woods held such a magic and mystery that I was mesmerized. I can't wait to go exploring in them again!

Today is my mother's birthday and we're off to celebrate as soon as work and school come to an end. Mid-week celebrations make the necessity of work more bearable, don't they? Happy trails to you, and I hope you can get out and explore some new woods soon!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Zen: The Temptation to Buy Clothes (and other items) We Don't Need

Last night I hosted a fall clothing swap at my home and was really pleased with the 'new' items I discovered among my friend's cast offs. It's always fun and I love that reusing and recycling clothing is also free and sustainable!

I used to thrill at the deals I could find shopping big chain stores. Armed with coupons and a keen eye, I could easily rack up deals that would make me feel...I don't know...successful in some weird way, because I'd scored a lot of new things really cheap. When you live and support another life on one income, it's a good feeling to get a deal, yes....but was I really getting deals on things we needed...or was I simply falling for the clever strategies of marketing directors?

Perhaps it was a little bit of both. However, I have since learned that there is a cost for cheap fashion. I may have been proud to completely outfit my son and myself for a season for less than $50, but somewhere, somehow, someone paid a price. The environment likely took a hit as well, because the industry of fast fashion - think stores who regularly sell high priced items for 50-75% or more off - is a major contributor to icky toxins in our environment, not to mention the poor working conditions some garment industry employees toil under.

Back in April, I featured a bit more about the high cost of cheap clothing in my post on Fashion Revolution Day. I've done experiments where I didn't shop for clothes for 6 months, didn't shop for anything for an entire month except food, and most of my readers know my love of thrifting and upcycling. However, it's the temptation to shop the chain stores that reels most of us in.They just make it so easy. Some even give us money to spend.

Having committed loosely to another round of not shopping for any non-food items for a month, I was able to resist the urge to use this coupon last week. Why? Here are 8 reasons I resisted the temptation to use this coupon:

1. I currently do not need any new clothes or other items.
2. My son currently does not need any new clothes or other items.
3. It is highly unlikely I'd have only spent $5 had I went in, and it would have been money spent on items we don't need.
4. I'm committed to making my wardrobe eco-friendly and sustainable, which means applying a less-is-more mentality and shopping brands like Spiritex, Globe Hope, and Sustainably Chic.
5. I also believe thrift shopping is more eco-friendly and sustainable and try to find what I need at my favorite local thrift shop before looking for new items.

But more importantly...

6. I currently do not need any new clothes or other items.
7. My son currently does not need any new clothes or other items.

And perhaps most importantly...

8. It is highly unlikely I'd have only spent $5 had I went in, and it would have been money spent on items we don't need.

Still, a small part of me felt I had wasted the coupon...after all, it was $5 to spend, and it's possible I could have found an item on the sale rack for myself, my son, or a holiday gift for someone that would have been in the $5 price range... which means that with the coupon it would have been basically free, whoo hoo!

But a deeper part of me knows that fast fashion does have a cost, somewhere, to someone.  So while I may visit these big chain stores from time to time when I actually need an item I can't find elsewhere, my personal goal is to avoid unnecessary purchases, no matter what the deal.

How about you, how do you resist the seemingly every-present push to purchase items, especially clothing, that you and your family don't really need? And what eco-friendly, sustainable brands do you support? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday Walk: Necessary Spontaneity

I am sure I've mentioned here before how much I embrace the notion of in, not so much.

This doesn't go with my free-spirited artist image, I know, but I'll be honest, I like plans. I like agendas and datebooks with things penciled in neatly. I like knowing where I'm going on what day and at what time and what I might expect when I get there. Plans, while subject to change on a dime, ground me and give me some sense of stability and security. I like looking at my calendar and seeing notes and times jotted down. I like knowing that on a particular day, I'll be doing this, that, and so on.

Sometimes, it's nice to shake it all up, however, with a bit of spontaneity. One of the most spontaneous people I know is my cousin Mike. When we attended his son's birthday party a few weeks back, he suggested - after the cake and ice cream festivities, that we ride up to Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls and take a hike.

Say what??? I had planned on attending the party then driving home through nearby Seneca, stopping at a book store and restaurant along the way. I hadn't planned on driving up to the mountains and hiking down a, that had not been on the agenda at all. And I wavered, still, even after he told me it was only a short drive from where we already were.

I had no good reason for hemming and hawing, but I did, thinking everything from "I'm not dressed appropriately" (I had on tank, long skirt, and my favorite Sanuks) to the fact that I'd all but broken my little toe tripping over my son's skateboard the day before, and my foot really hurt. But when my son heard the word tunnel he was over the moon with excitement about going.

So we all piled into cars and headed up...and had an absolutely amazing time. I'm so glad Mike suggested this and that I got over my hesitation and went along! Hiking around in the mountains feels like home to me - I spent most of my late teens and early twenties on a peak somewhere along the Blue Ridge every chance I got!

Scampering through the hills like a Mountain Goat...

Always on the lookout for 'shrooms!
Atop the tunnel! 

Yes it's another 'shroom pic. Bear with my addiction, please...

Descending in the mountains is often harder than ascending. We had to climb down to reach this fall, but it was worth it! 
Taking a well-earned rest!

Mike and I at the base of the fall!

Another 'epic' tree, to quote my son!
All in all, it was a beautiful day to be in the mountains and we had a great time visiting a new place. I've been trying for a while to practice being more spontaneous, what about you? Do you embrace spontaneity or plan out your days as I'm prone to do? I'm trying to find that balance between of just the right amount of spontaneity mixed with just the right amount of consistency. A big part of that is getting over myself when someone suggests a change of plans from what I had in mind!

You can't tell from this picture, but I had a serious case of hiking-induced jelly legs coming on! 
If you have never been to The Stumphouse Tunnel or Issaqueena Falls in Oconee County, then I highly recommend. The trail down to the falls is a little treacherous to navigate, (especially in a skirt and Sanuks!) but there is also a viewing platform and picnic area as well as a pond. The tunnel itself is a great walk through a real spooky tunnel, which the kids will love. Bring a lunch and a flashlight and have a great time!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Zen: Is YOLO Actually Bad Advice?

I was happily minding my own business on social media, trying to catch up with what everyone was doing, when the ad for this hoodie popped up on the right hand side of my screen...

Needless to say, my little hippie heart just went nuts. Gorgeous colors, fair trade and the purchase would also support animal welfare? It had all the stars and pluses usually necessary for me to spend beyond thrift-shop prices for an item of clothing. However, I resisted.

Why? Because my mother and my niece's birthdays are coming up, as well as my son's in a few months and then the Christmas holidays. That can easily all add up to quite a bit of spending, and I'm really trying to concentrate on the financial goals I set for myself earlier this year. In addition, I bought a nice hoodie back in spring, and I really don't need another. However, it was so lovely I sent the link to my sister with fingers crossed as my own birthday is just a few weeks away (hooray!)

How does any of this relate to YOLO, the fan-favorite acronym for the popular mantra, You Only Live Once? I happened to randomly mention how lovely the hoodie was to a friend later that day, and her response was, "Oh just go ahead and order it, it's only $30. You only live once, you know!"

This made me think of how often that I see YOLO as a hashtag on social media in reference to purchases, lavish trips, or often simply reckless behavior. While I am all for embracing the idea of living fully, is careless spending, constant traveling, or a predilection for extreme sports what constitutes a fully-lived life?

I'm not so sure.

My financial goals are important to me, and while no, $30 is not going to break the bank, it would be an unnecessary expense during a time that I'm trying to save. I'm often surprised to the point of bewilderment at how much money people spend on seemingly unnecessary items. Do we really need new clothes constantly? How many pairs of shoes can we honestly justify owning? Is this what propels us out of bed and into work every day, the acquisition of things? I don't know about you, but it certainly isn't what gets me up and going. (Check out The Story of Stuff and take a moment to consider how you spend your earnings. Personally I am all for working less and living more through living simply.)

And while I love to travel, I don't need to do it constantly or lavishly to feel I'm living fully; I equally love being at home, exploring the natural beauty of my own region, and attending local fairs and festivals. As far as anything extreme goes, well, I kind of shifted out of that mindset when I became a mother and solely responsible for the life I'd brought into the world. Still, I wonder how many people are prepared to spend, travel, and do somewhat crazy things because they are trying to follow our society's current YOLO mantra?

I don't know that it is inherently bad advice, but I do know that encouraging someone to spend money on something they really don't need because 'you only live once' is not really a practical suggestion. And while I'd be thrilled if my sister or parents took the bait and got me the hoodie for my birthday, I know I'll still be able to live fully if I never own that hoodie, climb Mount Everest, or attend Trapeze School.

What do you think? Has YOLO become a mantra that we now use to encourage fun-but-maybe-not-so-wise choices, or is it sage advice we should all heed? Love to hear your thoughts on this!

***Sunshine Daydream Hoodie video courtesy of The Animal Rescue Site Store. Every purchase supports the care and feeding of rescued animals. The Animal Rescue Site Store is part of The Greater Good, where your dollars help support everything from breast cancer research to the Rainforest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wednesday Walk: Leading by Example and Animal Haven of Asheville

Welcome to Wednesday Walks, a new feature on the blog that allows you a little peek into our world. 

A few years ago, a yoga teacher friend of mine showed me a new tattoo that she'd gotten on her wrist - a small line of script written in some elegant Asiatic language. "It means Lead by Example," she explained. 

It's powerful, this mantra, and there is nowhere I try harder to embody it than in parenting. As a single mother, I long ago grew tired of the continuous flow of rhetoric perpetrating that my son was destined to become a statistic because I was a woman raising him alone. I committed myself to being fully present as mother, reading all the guidebooks and articles on conscious and attachment parenting that I could get my hands on.

And yet, nothing has ever made more sense to me as a mother than the simple message of my friend's tattoo: Lead by example.

In late spring, I became vegan after years of being an on-again/off-again vegetarian. That's a story for another day, but my son, to my great delight, announced shortly afterwards that he wanted to become vegetarian. He had given this a lot of thought and decided it was better for the animals, himself, and for the environment. And 6 months later, he's holding steady, eating healthy, and loving his choice. He was keen, however, to visit an animal sanctuary - a place where farm animals were rescued from an unhappy fate and could live their lives in peace. I looked around and found Animal Haven of Asheville. Considering that I hardly need a reason to visit Asheville - a town I love so much that it's where a large portion of my book is set - I was more than happy to plan a trip. Then he surprised me by asking if, before we went, he and a friend could have a yard sale and donate a portion of the profits to help the animals.

I wanted to make a big fuss over this, but I didn't. Why not? Because over the years I have made giving back, which is very important to me, just seem natural - something we do because we are part of a family, neighborhood, or community. So we headed to the closets and gathered a hodge-podge of items for a rather spontaneous yard sale. The kids had no problem telling people that their mission was to raise money to help the animals of Animal Haven, and I was touched by the generosity of folks who stopped by the sale. Even if they didn't see anything that interested them, most still donated a few dollars to help the fundraiser. 

And so, the next weekend, we all piled into my car and headed up to visit Animal Haven of Asheville and donate the monies raised by the yard sale. It's a most wonderful place, and if you are in or near the Asheville area, I highly recommend you stop by and spend some time there! 

The kids so enjoyed meeting some of the animals that their donation would be assisting! 

We all enjoyed the breathtaking scenery and the on-site thrift store. Profits from this thrift store go to support the animals, so we were happy to donate the leftover yard sale items to them as well. As an avid thrifter, I'm always excited when I find a new shop, and this one is really great. For a whopping $3, I scored an awesome handmade potholder, a vintage necklace, and a beautifully illustrated knitting book from the Country Diary series. 

And likely I'd have found more, but it was a lovely day in the mountains and I was more keen to be outside than in!

So all in all, this experience reminded me once again of the power we have, as parents, to shape our children's lives and perceptions by our own actions. No matter what words we may use, we are always leading by example - how we give back, what we tolerate, how we handle frustration, what we do with leisure time, and so on. My friend was dead-on when she chose Lead by Example as a gentle reminder to model in her life the yoga concepts she was teaching in her class, just as it reminds me to model the values and morals I want my son to learn. 

The people who make Animal Haven of Asheville happen are also leading by example. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable, they made us feel welcome and truly at home. We will definitely go back. If you'd like to learn more or even better, volunteer some time to help with projects or animal care, please visit the above link to view this website and this link to follow them on Facebook!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Hiatus

Thank you for stopping by! The blog is currently on hiatus for summer vacation. I'll be back with promised posts mid-to-late August. Until then, peruse and enjoy some older posts. As always, comments are welcomed!

Wishing you a peace-filled summer!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Hard Life Lessons from (or for?) an Elder Artist, pt. 2

***In order to protect the privacy of V the artist, no photos will be used in this series of blog posts***

In Hard Life Lessons from (or for?) an Elder Artist, pt.1, I introduced my readers to V the artist and her difficult situation.

It hasn't changed. The more I speak with V, the more I question the motives she uses in order to, in the catch phrase of our era, achieve her dream. Recently, she told me the story of receiving a phone call from a mega-celebrity after tracking down his mother in a California nursing home. He was polite, but not amused at this invasion of privacy and also not interested in taking ownership of V's artwork, which had been her primary focus...finding a celebrity who would take ownership of she and her late husband's life's work, create an exhibition space/gallery for it, and also fund the publication of a memoir book and possible movie/documentary about their lives.

Dispersing the work is not an option, nor is selling it. V wants her moment in the spotlight, the accolades she feels she deserves for spending a lifetime in front of a canvas, brush in hand. She's completely unwilling to yield here. I was initially so concerned about her quality of life and how to help her that I didn't see the truth behind the reason she contacted me.

She didn't want friendship, companionship, or someone to help her sort out things and find a better living situation. She wanted someone to help her track down private addresses of the rich and famous in hopes that she could achieve fame and wealth by grabbing onto their coattails. If they took an interest in the art, in other words, they would promote it, and her. And this was not a new idea. V and her late husband had been doing this for years; she has celebrity addresses going back at least a decade. 

As much as I want to help V, I can't get on board with this particular plan. Most artists I know accomplish what they work for by working for it - showing art at every opportunity, promoting themselves, doing whatever it takes to get their work visible to others, usually all while raising families and/or working part-time/full-time jobs. They are certainly not trying to skip all of the above steps and achieve greatness through a celebrity's name. And let's not forget the 5-figure price tags that clearly show V is not interested in common folk having her pieces; only the wealthy could afford these kind of prices for art, which has resulted in a lifetime of paintings and drawings stored in file cabinets and closets.

I have come to believe that art stored in closets and file cabinets because high price tags aren't being met is somehow wrong. Art is for everyone. Every home should contain pieces of original artwork. Art should be a part of everyday life, not something persons can only see in museums, high-ticket items available for purchase only to a select, elite few. 

In V's world, artists are a small, distinct group, placed high on pedestals, celebrated for their vision and interpretations of the world around us. But I don't live in that world, not anymore. I was headed there at one time, but then I realized it was a fast track to making my art less accessible to the people who really seemed to love it, who would value it in their homes and lives. It would result in my art being stored in file cabinets and closets, which is not what I want.

And so, from years of growing as an artist and a person, and my recent re-connection with V, Art is for Everyone was born. This Facebook page serves to promote the art of myself, and hopefully in time, others, not to make us famous or wealthy but to get our creations out of the studio and into the world. I'm very excited about seeing what happens, and hope you'll follow along!

And stay tuned for updates on V. She has now shifted her focus from celebrities to the top 200 American Art Collectors. I have more hope that this might bear fruit, though she recently told me she would die with all of her paintings before she'd split the collection up. I'm not sure even the most enthusiastic collector wants 50 paintings by the same artists. So we'll see how it goes...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ritual, Festival and Rhythm

Last weekend here in America, we celebrated Independence Day. I think it's a fair assumption to say that this is probably our biggest holiday of the year next to Christmas. What does this celebration look like? Fireworks, festivals, time with family and friends, good food, wearing lots of red, white and blue...

Boys and trucks...what is the fascination?

These celebrations tend to be the same across the country, and they don't really change much from year to year. I've attended the same small town festival each July 4th for as long as I can remember. In the past, I might have lauded this as an exceedingly dull way to spend a holiday, citing a need for adventure and questioning doing something again that I've already done once, or multiple times, before.

And as our annual trip to the Isle of Palms approaches, I'm reminded of a commercial I saw recently stating that 85% of Americans, when traveling, go to the same places they've been before. The commercial presented this as a negative, implying 85% of the population lack the gumption to try  someplace new. I'm inclined, however, to disagree with that logic.

I believe it's the ritual of attending a place that draws us back time and time again. For my son and I, our trip to IOP each August marks the end of our summer. It's a sacred, special time, and because we've visited there so often, has now become our home-away-from-home. Going there is a given; something we know we can rely on. And while we do travel to other places (a trip to Colonial Williamsburg is being tossed about at the moment!) I always budget an August week at IOP into our summer travel plans.

I'm sure I've used this pic on the blog before, but it's so sweet I can't resist using it again.
Ritual is rhythm, and rhythm is important. Whether the ritual is big - like a yearly sojourn to the coast - or small - like rising early for my morning yoga practice followed by coffee on the patio - it becomes a source of strength. In The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, Manfred Schimdt-Brabant states, "Nature determines the rhythmic forming of time sequences. Nature takes the human being through the seasons....for by rhythmically repeating an activity, one creates a kind of platform in the etheric element...and one day will be able to throw one's glance into the spiritual world from this place." In other words, "Rhythm is strength."

Festivals and festival/feast days often mark the seasons, too. Most of the festivals we attend locally are centered around spring, summer, autumn and the Christmas holidays, following the rhythms of nature and faith. But what I find more important are the small rituals we practice daily and/or weekly in the home, such as weekend bread baking...


Jewish Braided Challah Bread, my son's favorite!
...or seasonal rituals, such as summer corn-shucking parties...

Your resident blogger, preparing all that homegrown, organic corn for safekeeping...
Ritual is rhythm, and rhythm is strength. Just as we look to the sky for the first scurry of leaves that signal Autumn's chill will soon be in the air, we can look to our own daily, monthly and yearly rhythms to find the flow and balance within our family life. It sets the tone, and in an unpredictable world, gives a sense of safety and security.While monotony can become dull, rhythm, when understood, becomes an essential part of well-being in the home and daily life.

I'll be finishing up part two of the post Hard Lessons from (or for?) an Elder Artist sometime this week, and following up today's topic with a post titled The Rhythm - and yes, the Joy - of Housekeeping. Now it's time to go start on some Challah bread. Because we are primarily vegan, I can only make this when I've had a delivery of eggs from my friends who keep flocks of happy hens!