Friday, January 30, 2015

Madison Children's Museum and the Creative Life {Favorite Finds Friday}


Some places just have it – and the Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) is one of them.  Last week my 30 toes and I had the delight of spending an afternoon discovering, playing and creating at this gem.  If you have read my {favorite finds} before you know that I am a lover of Wisconsin and this find was just further affirmation of that love.


Located just off the Capital Mall in the heart of Madison, MCM is three floors of pure magic designed for ages birth to 12; although I would offer that birth and older would be more appropriate, as they truly hold something for everyone.   The space is not huge, but takes full advantage of its urban home.  With six exhibit areas it provides opportunities for exploration and discovery through play, art, hands-on activities, history and exposure to the natural world; fulfilling its mission to: connect children with their families, their community and the world beyond through discovery learning and creative play. 

This is the kind of place that encapsulates the nature of discovery, teaching not only the direct lessons to be found within its walls but the principles of living with exploratory eyes in the world at large. 


My journey back to my artist-self has been discovered in part along with the process of learning and integrating the ideals that I want to instill in my children.  I want them to see a world of creative possibility, not necessarily to create artists of them but to teach the value of imagination and discovery in any of their pursuits.  I want them to experience life as an adventure, to value small adventures as well as big ones and to value who they are.  


Near the end of last year I began reading Lisa Congdon’s book Art Inc.  One of her early tenants is the idea that in order to make authentic work one must make work according to one’s own values.

Make work according to your values................................light bulb moment!

I had to ask myself, what are my values?

I was relieved and happy to discover that this was actually an easy question to answer.  And my realization answered another long standing question, one that I have grappled with since becoming a parent.  How to reconcile my decision to be a stay-at-home parent against my need for creative expression and professionalism?????????


I have traversed my mental globe in trying to sort this out, but nothing prior to the question of values has ever made it so clear. I knew almost instantly that I have two core values: I am an artist and I believe, at this time in the development of my family, choosing to be stay-at-home parent is important.   DONE!

And what came of this?  The very simple recognition that these two values are absolutely inclusive of each other.   And therefore I can live a creative lifestyle that integrates the exploration and making of my own work and an exploration of the world alongside my 30 creative and curious toes.


DONE!  Personal angst subsided, career choices simplified, extraneous commitments released, developing creative path fully embraced. 

Simple?  Yes I suppose, I never would have thought that one of my strongest emotional struggles could have been resolved in such a straightforward manner.  Although it was a resolution a long time in coming, it seemed to arrive suddenly, and when it did I was free. 

Thank you.


And now enter Madison Children’s Museum, a place that facilitates just the kind of exploration I value, that I want to share with and provide for my curious, growing children.  It is in such a place that I find the full integration of this creative life.  The experience and the journey. 


It is not just within the walls of a place that we make discovery, but on our journey to those walls, a stop to take photographs, the view of a frozen lake, our walk along the city sidewalk, the coffee shop at the end of the day, our conversations about all of it and the inspiration to write these words. 


With gratitude,
Joanna




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

pace

Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home ~ M. Basho




Pace:
noun
Consistent and continuous speed in walking running or moving



Rather than a resolution, which I have long been dedicated to, I have set out to traverse this year with a mere word, a theme I suppose or an awareness.  Last year my theme was a phrase and it centered around mindful creative exploration; and I believe it kept me focused in making some courageous choices in the arena of my career/creative path. 



Pace

It is like stillness – seeing beyond the hustle – seeing through closed or blinded eyes to the path that invites slow movement, consistent movement, real natural movement or pause.  Pace, the flow from movement to pause, and from pause to movement, everything in between.



Pace

This year I have set out to pace myself, to move forward or stay still with intention.  I made big changes in my work life during the second part of last year, changes focused on setting free the need to be constantly occupied, a decades long habit of filling every crevice of my time with something.  



Pace

I wanted to learn the value of now.  Mindfulness.  And I wanted to learn the value of me without appropriating it from task or title…


Pace

I finally mustered the courage to do what I had long known to be necessary; to give it all up, to start at zero, to learn to choose with intention rather than need; clamoring need generated by a clamoring urge to prove myself.

I had known this as truth somewhere in the recesses of my mind for years; but scared to death, of what I may find on the other side, I had not been able to let go.



Pace

And then finally I started, and at last one by one it all started to go.  And as each thing fell away I felt myself begin to grapple for new things to fill the crevices, and for the first time I was able to resist.

And where I had believed there would be empty holes, I began to find more of me, and I began to feel full.




Pace

So this year I have set out to pace myself. To maintain the commitment to not being over committed.  To be present, alert, mindful, intentional in what I choose to do.

I want to be part of the process, alert to discover the creative potential in each day.


It is like stillness – seeing beyond the hustle – seeing through closed or blinded eyes to the path that invites slow movement, consistent movement, real natural movement or pause.  Pace, the flow from movement to pause, and from pause to movement, everything in between.


With gratitude,
Joanna




Friday, January 23, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment}

. . . . . . . . .
Joining in, 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. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .
 
 
Thank you for the inspiration SouleMama


With gratitude,
Joanna

Friday, January 16, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment}

. . . . . . . . .
Joining in, 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. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .


Thank you for the inspiration SouleMama
with gratitude,
Joanna

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

brilliance



It is cold here now, the snow is staying this time and I have begun to feel restless

I find myself longing for an other

place

temperature

scenery

activity

but it takes brilliance to remind me that there is brilliance where I am, in sudden glimpses, moments revealed by nature that lift the shroud of perspective

brilliance is brilliant no matter where you are, and beauty is beauty...found in common places, so close we sometimes miss it, so sudden it can not be avoided

with gratitude,
Joanna

Monday, January 12, 2015

the oaks

I have been stalking these tree stumps for a couple of months now, but this is the first time I have shared them here.


In late fall, when there were still remnants of green in our world and the temperatures were tolerable, I took notice of a collection of Oak trees being taken down.  Of course my first reaction was one of disgust; the removal of trees, in a place with relatively so few, always elicits harsh judgment from me before any other reaction.  


The Oaks stood closely adjacent to a road that I travel often and so almost daily I was witness to the progress of their removal.  I began on a regular basis stopping to record this progress with my camera.  Upon my first stop I discovered that many of them, the largest ones in particular, were rotten at their core and so I suppose it was out of precaution that they were chosen for removal.  


But still I could not help the feeling that there was something unnatural in their demise.  They, without the privilege of falling when they could no longer stand, to return slowly and quietly to the ground which grew them; were chopped and chipped and driven away.  I suppose there is a kind of tree hugger in me; I who grew up in the land of the Spotted Owl and those who camped in limbs to protect them.  


I stopped to see the Oaks again this morning. Now they are wrapped in snow, some of them almost completely buried.  They call me now, recording them has become a kind of creative spur for me.  Their beauty now is in how they speak beyond their own existence; of nature and process, beauty, man, time and memory. The spicy, sweet smell of their flesh triggers youthful memories of living in a forest, of things loved and lost and that will ever walk with me.  


I have come to think of myself as, a Midwest girl in my heart, but a mountain girl in my bones.  Hearts change and grow, they can adjust, they fall and are rescued, they gain perspective.  But bones, they are constant, they are called back always to the land that formed them, bones are like fish in water, roots in the ground, they can breathe only for so long in a foreign land.

With gratitude,
Joanna

Friday, January 9, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment}

. . . . . . . . .
Joining in, 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. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .


Thank you for the inspiration Soulemama

With gratitude,
Joanna