the art of wisdom…

November 30, 2012

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the studio and table will be open tomorrow… and there is a place for you.

My dear friend and soulsister Suzanne Vinson will have her annual Holiday Open House tomorrow as part of the LGRA Ginter Park Art Show tomorrow (12/1).

Kindness Changes Everything Stickers (and prints) will be there as well as Be Brave and Kind prints too…along with so many other soulful, wise and pretty things.

I am kinda silly excited about these:

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I hope to stop by after 2pm some time, maybe we’ll see each other there. Here is all the info if you would like to meet Suzanne and take in the art of wisdom:

HOLIDAY OPEN STUDIO & LGRA Ginter Park Art Show

Saturday, December 1st

10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

3421 Hawthorne Avenue

Richmond, VA 23222

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all photos by Suzanne Vinson

 

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listening to the trees…

November 18, 2012

My dear friend Nicki Peasley guest posts for me today…I often lean forward when she speaks, just waiting for her wisdom and goodness. She holds space in a really tender way, you can read more of her soul magic here and here.

Listening to the Trees

 I have been hugging lots of trees lately.  In gratitude for their unconditional love for us crazy humans.  No matter how careless we are, the trees continue to offer us their beauty, inspiration (literally), solace from the rest of the world… their lives.

Trees have no ego.  While I sense their acceptance of human appreciation, they don’t expect it.  They don’t need it. They are here to watch over us.  Still and all powerful.  Yet so very vulnerable.

Before Hurricane Sandy came through, my kids and I went around our neighborhood hugging the trees, infusing them with our compassion and wishing them strength through the storm. And once again, even on the brink of what could have been their destruction, they offered us their compassion, their strength.  No fear, only this amazing sense of calm and acceptance for what is, what will be.

There are conversations among the trees.  And if we listen with open hearts, we can even hear them speaking softly to us.   This is what they tell me.

“Slow down. Take a moment to stop. Plant your feet in the earth.  Intermingle your roots with ours.  Extend your branches and feel yourself filling with the sun pouring in through your crown. Allow any leaves that are no longer serving you to fall to the ground. And hold loosely the leaves that still adorn your being.  For they too will fall in time.  Trust… and surrender. “

I carry the tree’s wisdom with me throughout my days.  I watch the world through the eyes of our wooded friends to see the endless human race and all of its dynamics.

The champion, leading the pack with easeful and brilliant stride; those determined to be the champion, passion in their eyes; the walkers, who just keep moving, unattached to any outcome; the cheering crowd, dancing and merrymaking on the sidewalks; the injured, defeated and hopeless… and those tender souls who care for them.

We have all played each of these roles at some time in our lives, perhaps even several at a time.    But unless we take time to stop (even the champion can stop for a moment) to honor the raw vulnerability of every human experience, we are missing out on the message of the trees.

I’ve had a cramp (to extend the metaphor) the last few months. And while it has loosened its grip on me, I am still not quite ready to start running again.  Often, I veer off the course entirely, finding myself in the woods… with the trees.

And then I return to the streets, to the activity of living.  The people run by me, toward their next achievement, their next accolade, the crowd cheering for them. And I notice the volume of my ego increasing.  “Get moving, girl.  You’ve got stuff to do. You’re wasting time.  Make your vision a reality.  This just being isn’t enough. Go. Go. Go.”

But I am quick to catch myself in this destructive pattern. And I am learning to find great contentment in being the tree. Appreciating each season of release, stillness, rebirth, and awakening.  Watching and acting with intention, without attachment to ego, and manifesting simple gestures born of Spirit.

At the beginning of the month, I started a Grow Gratitude movement at my youngest child’s school.  I experience gratitude as the purest and most profound way to connect to self and other.  To focus on what’s right in our lives and in our world, instead of what’s wrong. To appreciate others not for a gift but for being the gift.  To open ourselves up to all the little miracles of every moment.

And to see this understanding unfold at an elementary school is nothing short of magic.

Ms. Campbell’s Class, getting primed for a whole school Gratitude Gathering in which they use their voices and sign language to express the community’s collective appreciation.

On the playground making gratitude chains (to wrap around the cafeteria) and gratitude bracelets. What is making your heart sing in this moment?

A lucky ladybug joining the Lovefest.

“Fox Rocks,” hidden around the school.  When you find one, express your gratitude to another and pass it on… (these rocks had been soaking up the wisdom of the trees forever… and agreed to leave the woods to spread some love among the humans)

For faculty and staff, a message attached to a love stone. (Suzanne Vinson’s amazing art work)

Love leads us to beautiful places when we allow it to.  And on that journey, we are wise to stop every now and then to hug a tree and listen to the message it has for us.  Then, when we are ready to start running again in that crazy human race, it will be with joy and ease and Heaven in our feet.

A meditation to do with your children on Thanksgiving Day…which is really any and every day.

*

Close your eyes or look down.  You may place your hands on your heart or rest them on your legs.  Take a slow deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth so that a very soft sound is made.  Picture yourself surrounded by beautiful light.  As you breathe in, inhale the light and feel your body filling with it.   And as you breathe out, exhale all the yucky stuff that has taken up space in you—any pain, any anger, any worries.. let them all go in your breath. So that you feel completely at peace in your body, in your mind, in your heart, and in your spirit.

Now imagine yourself in a safe and happy place.  Maybe you are on beach, in the forest, in a cozy room, on a mountaintop.  Sit comfortably in your special place and feel the peace it offers you.  Now, as if you are watching a movie that is your life…

See all the places that bring you joy (your home, your school, the swimming pool, the beach…) What places make you smile?

Now see the things that bring you joy (pizza, your bike, your computer, your favorite stuffed animal…)  What things make you smile?

Now see all the experiences that you have enjoyed in your life (vacations, soccer games, birthday parties, holidays…) What experiences make you smile?

Now, most importantly see all the people you are grateful for (your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends, your teacher, your coach…) Who makes you smile?

Allow that smile to show on your face and feel the gratitude that is bursting out of your heart.  Offer the sign for thank you.  Give yourself a hug.  And slowly, open your eyes.  May you hold this feeling of peace and gratitude in your hearts always.

*

Nicki Peasley is a student of life and a teacher of love.  In the past, she developed curricula and worked (played and learned and told stories) with elementary and middle school youth.  Now, she is living in the question of what’s next.  Perhaps just being human is more than enough.

“Be brave, be brave, be brave…” she whispered to herself as she put on her helmet. Lucy was (and still is) learning to ride her bike. She said the little mantra over and over and added a “You can do this” as she climbed on the seat.

I didn’t really know that bravery was calling me this year, until it did. Every situation around me was asking me to step into, or hunt it down or take one step closer.

…and I started whispering my little mantra to myself each time I was faced with some thing big or even something small that felt big… “Be brave and kind, it’s all you have to do, be brave and kind.”

maybe being brave is saying the words that are hard to speak, or to say nothing at all…

maybe being brave is making the next move, when it feels like there may not be any left…

maybe being brave is trusting you are enough…

maybe being brave is holding on, holding hope just a little tighter or by your last finger grip…

maybe being brave is believing what you hope is true, stepping boldly into joy…

Whatever it is, I know we are not meant to be brave alone, even though we face our worlds on our own. I remember years ago when I was very, very pregnant and our family was going through a very hard time. Depression had fallen over our house (for Jorge) and in the way where everything sort of fell apart , everything I knew over the years was looming suddenly became so clear.

While we were finding our way through, my dear friend Heather offered to give me a massage therapy session. During the session, at a point of finally being relaxed after holding so much, I closed my eyes and this very clear picture came into my mind like a giant movie screen.

I was walking up a huge hill, each step taking all my energy, at one weary moment I turned around, and a massive group of people were behind me, rows and rows, as far as the eye could see… holding hands, locked together like an army. It was a walk of bravery ahead, but even in all the darkness, the kindness was behind me.

So when Suzanne and I started to dream of what we wanted our soulsisterhood to be, we both knew Be Brave and Kind would be part of what we wanted in the world (I wrote about it here first). …and yet it feels more like part of our dream is that this art would bring people together like the rows, like hands locked together.

Just yesterday, I reached out to a few people I love, people that have walked the hill and people that have stood behind me, people that know what it is to be brave and kind, people that are claiming it everyday whether we succeed or not… I asked them to be part of this project by collecting each face in a picture.

Suzanne and I would love it if you would join us in making rows and rows of pictures…we would love it of you took a picture with the Be Brave and Kind print and send it to patience@kindessgirl.com so we can add it to the next row and watch it grow.

There are quite a few choices of prints and stickers you can buy here. Prints and stickers of all sizes.

But even if the print is not something for you right now but you would like to be part of this collective heart and art, send us a picture with the words Be Brave and Kind written on a piece of paper or your hand, or any other creative way you can think of. We would love for you to be part of this either way.

In the next few days, I will be giving clues as to where we hid a 5×5 sticker and just a couple tiny stickers around RVA. (because sometimes you just gotta hunt for that bravery!)

today’s hint: there is one sweet little sticker in the top copy of  The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo at the Broad Street Barnes & Noble on Libbie Ave. on page 243.

And today we offer  one 5×5 Be Brave and Kind Print to one lucky winner,  just tell us one high and one low in your day today in the comments and you will be entered. We will announce the winner tomorrow night by 11pm.

Be Brave and Kind, it’s all we have to do…

ETA:

Beth from Savour, you are our winner! What a lovely blog you have too! (winner picked by a random.org)

The strawberry field opened this weekend…strawberry fields forever. My soul took a deep breath after the long winter. It’s picking season which means I got to see the Marlboro man and feel the wind and sun on my face while I picked nature’s candy with people I love.

I came home to find this goodness (above) on my front porch. A while ago I reached out to my dear friend, artist and soulsister Suzanne Vinson to ask if she would consider collaborating with me on a project. I don’t exactly remember where or how we met, but I admired her art from a far for quite some time. Besides the obvious wisdom, there is a gentle strength about everything that passes through her hands…and a kind energy.

We traded e-mails and I eventually found my way to her dreamy studio one evening at the table…a place where she holds creativity circles,  celebrations, and gatherings of soul care. I loved it, I loved her. Months later we sat on my green couch and talked until I was late for school pick-up and never even got a chance to pour the coffee and slice the yummy bread she brought. This is how you know you just met a soulsister.

I’m not so good at collaborating. I have lots of ideas but am busy and frazzled. I told Suzanne I wanted to make a sticker with those words I hold so close, the three words that pretty much guide my life…Kindness Changes Everything. I didn’t know if she would want to share her art with me or this project, I wasn’t sure I would have the money to fund it,  but I thought it was worth throwing out there. I knew though that we both held this way of being in the world tight, and that more than anything, we want to be part of a force sharing art, kindness and love in meaningful ways.

In just days she (in all her magic) returned this lovely art and just another week later, the stickers were sitting next to my daisies on my table. I could barely stand it because when art, kindness and sticky-ness collide, all you can think of is littering the city with goodness and power, the power of the kindness…and all the other soulsisters (and brothers) that may come upon the release of the joy of your heart…and that you had a chance to start it all with a friend, well, it’s so, so good.

So here’s the deal friends:

1. You can buy 5 stickers for $3 and we’ll send you 5 more to pass on, share, do something kind! That’s really 10 stickers for $3 (plus shipping) over at the Silver Tree Art store on Etsy. Click here.

2. All of the money will go into a SoulSister Kindness Jar to be used for future kindness missions (more about that later).

3. If you order stickers and happen to leave them some where public, or part of a kindness mission or even in your own space, send us a picture to patience@kindnessgirl.com or upload them to the Silver Tree Art Facebook page so we can watch kindness move and travel.

With so much love,

Suzanne and Patience

(can I just tell you I am dying to leave them on every light post in RVA?! except I feel bad about the kindness vandalism, well… just a little)