Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Wanderings

How about an Irish version of the "cups" song to start out your day? It sounds SO beautiful in Gaelic!

Save this article, because it has 101 ideas to add more creativity to your life! Perfect to get a fresh start when you're feeling like you are drained of creative thought. I've started the knitted hexagon quilt : )

Okay, I admit it, my go-to television show when it's late at night and I want to nom on ice cream is either something with Gordon Ramsey or Pawn Stars. You may now laugh at me! But I was so pleased with the way Rick Harris from Pawn Stars responded to this letter from a young boy with autism.

I feel like it's rare that I post a religious article, but this one was very important to me. After reading Romans chapter 14 in the women's study I attend, I am rejoicing that there is more freedom for diversity in the church, and this article elaborates on that. The next time you want to say "the Bible DEFINITELY says this", instead ask yourself, "is this MY interpretation of the Bible?" instead. Please read!

There are a ton of awesome articles here, including one that I love called 7 lessons for creatives from the life of J.R.R. Tolkien.

One artist asks herself, "What would Fugazi do?"whenever she is faced with a tough decision regarding her creative work. Check out how the example of a hard-core band is helping this author maintain her integrity!

Now that spring is here, the fresh fruits and vegetables are coming back, and farmer's markets are sooo close to starting again in our area! Here's why you should resist buying a peach in January.

If you followed Anton Checkov's list of eight things that cultured people do, that would be awesome. I am trying to weed out the "false diamonds" from my life, but it can be tricky sometimes.

The fat lady is still singing! Here are the reasons why classical music isn't dead yet!

Oh man... I would LOVE this knitted shawl which portrays the night sky with 350 stars as seen from the north pole! If you have the guts to knit it, here's the actual pattern.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Life is the Teacher

All right, ya'll... even though I've been more silent on this blog, more plans are brewing with my blog about education, Life is the Teacher. If you're interested in checking it out, please also like the new Facebook page I've created for it! On Facebook I'll be posting links of articles about education, fostering discussions, asking questions, sharing quotes, and spreading the word about alternative education methods. Hope you'll join!

This is what I hope to do as I study education!

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Moment: Memories of Snow Fading Fast

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Griffin and Sabine

Several years ago my good friend Heather asked me if I'd heard of a trilogy of books about two characters called Griffin and Sabine. I had never seen them before, but was instantly intrigued as I began to research them online. They seemed to be surrounded by an air of mystery. Are they art? Are they letters? What does the symbolism mean? And most of all... what happened at the end of the story? 

Shortly afterwards, while visiting Heather in Arkansas, I found the trilogy in a used-book store. It took me an hour to devour my way through the beautiful pages. I can easily say that the combined works make one of the most incredible, complex, imaginative stories I've ever known. It is a romance, a mystery, an exploration of love, a melding of nature's opposites, a fantasy world, a travel through history, an exploration of dreams, a hint of alchemy and Yeats, and a search for what it means to be complete. The words in the books flow like honey, creating the invisible characters of Griffin and Sabine through the course of their developing relationship in postcards, letters, dreams, symbols, imagery, and visions. 

The ending is deliberately open-ended. There are several tiny but very important details that affect how the reader might interpret the finale. As an optimist who finds connections and meaning in everything, I found satisfaction and a positive end to Griffin and Sabine's quest for each other. Someone who views the world through a darker lens may end up feeling confusion, uncertainty, or even dissatisfaction with the end. I believe that each person's individual interpretation of the fate of these two characters says something about the way they process reality. Is the glass half empty or half full? 

Then I found that an entire second trilogy had been written as a sequel to the first! The story was just as intricately beautiful, the characters equally complex as before. Many of my questions about the first trilogy were answered in the most satisfyingly fantastic way, yet I was still left with the air of mystery that first made me interested in Griffin and Sabine at the very beginning. 

Even more than reveling in the story itself, these books continue to help me come to terms with the fact  that I Cannot Explain Everything in Life. This is a big one for me. I like to know Things. I like to feel secure in having the Answers. Yet there are situations and circumstances that I've seen and experienced which I can't explain. There are personal stories here that I'm not ready to share, but briefly, let me say that "truth is indeed stranger than fiction". Some things are black and white. Others.... I'm not sure. For me, the practice of sitting patiently with mystery is aided by the engagement of the imagination. 

I came away from the six-book-long tale with a renewed sense of the absolute wonder of the world. Life is more colorful day by day, if we can only see the magic everywhere, in the mundane and the mysterious. Love is possible... more than possible, it is the only way to salvation and redemption and wholeness. The eternal balance of good and evil, dark and light, yin and yang, male and female, sea and land, fire and water, death and life... all these things are part of the Great Story. 

...I dropped a monstrous conch on my foot. I howled with pain, and a tree ahead of us exploded with blue and yellow macaws. My father, who could see that I didn't know whether to attend to my toe or the feathered fireworks, laughed and whispered, "Pain and beauty, our constant bedfellows." Young as I was, I understood. ~ Sabine feet took me to Paolo Uccello's 'George and the Dragon'. Do you know it? I'd been standing in front of it for a while, my mind like a vacuum, when I had one of those moments of profoundly shocking insight. There was my life laid out before me: I charge around on a toy white horse, lance in hand, wearing funny shining armor that wouldn't protect me from a cigarette lighter, let alone a dragon's breath. I attack these pet dragons, in order to release beautiful maidens who will, I assume, reward me. They, however, are utterly indifferent. They don't care to be released, and I've been fooling myself with a fake sense of purpose. Like George, my back is turned to an infinite sky filled with violent spirals of silver clouds. ~ Griffin

You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened. You do not dismiss a muse at whim. ~ Sabine

I love you unconditionally. Do you hear me, Griffin? Do you see that I cherish you beyond question, that you have nothing to prove to me? You are making your journey to secure yourself. I am already tethered to your side. If you can love yourself as I love you there will be no dislocation- you will be whole. ~ Sabine

Picture from one of the books, copyright Nick Bantock

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This Moment: Where She Always Gravitates

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~ Amanda

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Wanderings

Here is a varied selection of articles that I've found on my excursions around the web! I hope you enjoy them, or at least find them thought-provoking. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section, whether you agree or disagree. Today's links are all about children and parenting!

The most important milestones for toddlers and children to achieve are...

Speaking of bullying, do you agree with "societally sanctioned parental bullying"?

Age-appropriate chores for children. Because everyone in our house gets to do chores!

Sleepunders Instead of Sleepovers: parents, please don't let this become the new thing. Every kid needs the chance to have a fun sleepover. Warning: profanity.

Your life is over when you have kids. "My life is over. MY life is over." A big, hearty yes!

Meanwhile, this little girl is 21 months old and making motherhood quite interesting.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

As Spring Approaches, I Retreat

Another season is approaching. 

Last time I wrote in this blog, I shared that I was having some minor back surgery, and that I would be out for a little while. Much to my joy, the process of surgery, recuperation, and healing, was mostly done in about two weeks. The first few days were awful; after that, discomfort and exhaustion from a round of intense medication. But ten days later I was almost back to normal. I could type again just fine.

But the leave of absence brought something I had been lacking: inner quiet.

My mind never stops. Even when I sit still, the inner highways of thought are full of rush hour traffic. Quite a bit of it comes out into written word, whether through a letter, a blog post, Facebook, or jotted down for later. Words come out in conversation, yes, but I had been spending a lot of time plugged in to online conversations as well. More written word.

When that is taken away, my mind slows back down. Not fully... but maybe to a main street stop-and-go sort of flow instead of the seven lane highway. 

Introspection naturally takes over. There was more mulling, less releasing. 

Then, when I could write and express again, it came in the form of face to face interactions. And in the pages of my journals. And private letters and postcards. 

The silence is turning me shy, I think.

Even the most outspoken woman needs a time of retreat. 

I walk outside in the greening morning, my daughter dancing in spring ecstasy, and I am content to ponder my thoughts, while knowing that they do not need to be shared with the world. I can enjoy the moment. I can live right in the here and now. 

I can think and be at peace with not sharing it with others.

I can think and be at peace with not knowing what others think.

Yes, my spoken words stammer much more than what flows from my fingers or pen. 

But that too is part of learning how to live more slowly with intentionality, to allow myself the freedom to not say anything, or to speak the truth, knowing that my tongue will stumble but hoping that words spoken in love will ring right.

And that's what I wanted for myself this year, right? My One Word is Deeper. To learn how to live more deeply, to inhale calm and breathe out peace. Perfect lessons for this time of dancing the intricate steps of motherhood to a little one. 

Not that I myself am perfect. At all. 

But a little shyness never hurt.