Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rural Wisconsin {Favorite Finds Friday}





I love driving through rural Wisconsin.  Always it feels fresh, and ripe for the discovery of some possibly brief but enticing new thing; always it feels familiar and comfortable and close to home.

Today I made the one-hour long drive from our home in far northern Illinois to Jefferson, Wisconsin.  Rather than taking our usual interstate route I opted for the alternate; the patchwork of state highways that registered only three minutes slower on my gps.  I could surely spare three minutes for a journey through the land rather than past it.

As I drove, 30toes playing Mother May I from their seats behind me, I began to notice how familiar the route felt, even upon entering the portion I had never traveled.  Certainly this is due to the character of the landscape itself; a patchwork, like the roads that cross it, of fields and farms and always distant tree lines.  It is a gently undulating expanse framed on all sides by an open horizon.  Surely I have seen this view before.  Surely I have loved it before, and felt its familiar comfort and promise. 

I spent the rest of the day attempting to keep my attention on this familiar newness and wondering what else was to be found in it.   

This is the affirmation of the everyday; the brilliant rhythm of the familiar that repeats and repeats again.  I am reminded that always I return to nature for the answer, for the inspiration, for the reason.  Always I look to the land when I am seeking; not to take me away, but to bring me home. 


With gratitude,
Joanna


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

37 {for my mother who gave me poetry for Christmas}



When I was 37 I rediscovered poetry; that was yesterday, it is today.  37 means nothing to me, I feel as though I could be seven or seventeen, eyes open, looking up for an answer, a direction, an affirmation.  And in that looking I find upon me the tasks and responsibilities of adulthood, of parenthood, of the idea of being almost 40.  

Who is this person who longs from the other side of the wall to lay on the floor and play, but does not know how - who does not remember ever knowing - but longs.  Who is this person who seeks affirmation to be what I wish to discover - why?

If only the being and the longing would come into one.  Then I would be an adult blessed with the childlike rather than a child clamoring to juggle the mature realm.

I will be 38 next week and reading poetry has made me feel giddy, like I have been at play; like I am waiting, fully dressed, to be released into a wild and wondrous snow storm with no expectation of when I must return - maybe there is hope for me yet!

 


With gratitude,

Joanna

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

a few photos {connection}

I thought last week was going to be about space.  About feeling or reflecting on the space I gave myself to make a difficult decision. But it wasn't; not exactly.  

What rose from that pause, was not the space itself, but connection. The connection to within that comes from accepting that space is necessary and that our limitations exist whether we accept them or not.  

It was a connection to understanding, again, that this world is greater than me and its answers or understandings are not to be found in the fodder of my own thoughts, but through a willingness to let go and feel small and look out the window and allow my soul to be saved over and over again by looking into my child's eyes.





December 16


There were many stunning experiences during our four weeks on the road this summer, but the one most impactful was how small I felt in the face of all the millennia we crossed, marked in the land, the grandeur and the expanse. I was relieved to feel small, relieved from the worries of my own mind, overcome by all that is so much greater; the land, the experience of it, the experience of my family, the grace of that opportunity. I sat down briefly with a pencil this afternoon to wonder what I would notice; the ever constant humming of the fish tank; and the ever constant chatter of my own mind, loose of that smallness and largely consumed by the minutiae, adrift in the internal churning. There are times when we must look within, but there are times that we must look out and allow ourselves to be reminded of all that is greater and joyous.  



December 15


This package of delight arrived in my mailbox last night, my handmade Inner Compass ring by @innercompassdesigns, this was a kind of year end gift to myself, a reminder and an affirmation.  And even though they are so different, it was instantly a perfect companion to my grandmother's WWII Navy ring which brings me strength and comfort. Thank you Deb for the lovely and inspiring package, the hand lettered quote brought me to tears, this is beauty indeed! "Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike" {John Muir}



December 12


There is something in this boy's face that speaks eternity to me. Something that reassures me, that reaches into me; that has since he was an infant. Long before he could do anything but look at me with his deep eyes and need me desperately to keep him alive, this thing in him helped keep my soul alive.





With gratitude,

Joanna

Monday, December 12, 2016

a few photos from the past few weeks {perspective}

A little more than three weeks ago I decided I would start posting a photo a day on Instagram.  This is not a new idea, but neither have I started an official photo a day project with any guidelines or projected outcomes.  I am not particularly good with daily rituals, they generally come to feel burdensome, and inevitably I miss, a day or several, and when my streak is broken the perceived failure typically wards me off from returning. This holds true for creative projects, self-care projects and weekly house cleaning intentions.  It is some kind of self-defeatism that is decidedly unhelpful. However, I think that the structure of a project can sometimes overshadow the intention of a project and we can become focused on the achievement and loose the experience.  So this is not a project, but something I have just decided to do. Originally I thought I would share my weekly collection here, every Saturday, with some reflection or review.  I haven't started that yet.  I don't know if I will.  But I have found some value in my daily photos and that is something that I would like to share.  

Because my photos are accompanied by words it has become almost in equal, a daily writing exercise, not by intention, but by default. I sketch in words, rather than images in pencil and paper, it is the characters of the letters; they are how I process and understand.  One of the things I find interesting about writing is the ability of our own words to speak back to us. Perhaps our words can speak better to us than any intended audience, particularly over time.  They reflect our feelings; they remind us of understands, that have sometimes faded; sometimes they are embarrassing; sometimes enlightening; but always they are a window back to ourselves; they are perspective.

My daily photos have shown me the character of my days, I have tried to choose images that reflect some aspect of my day; my thoughts or activities, and as I look back over them I can see how varied my daily experiences actually are, how quickly the weather changes, how diligently time passes.  They help me look quietly when my mind wants to move fast, faster than my days, which are moving quite fast enough. 

They are tiny reminders, reflections and rebirths; here are a few of my favorites. 




November 17:

Sometimes dreaming about being someplace else is the best way to remember what you have right here...





November 18:

I spent the late afternoon cleaning up my garden, readying it for winter and sneaking out a late and final harvest of zesty greens. Winter in the Midwest is more than a season, it is the coming of a new lifestyle. In truth I have come to dread the approach of winter, not for its beginning but for its conclusion; that each year comes to feel so long overdue. Winter does not end here, it merely creeps away, slowly displaced by the life that was lain dormant by its presence. And we will enter the world again as well. Those moments seem a long way off today as I indulge in the final bounty of this seasons life. And I am reminded of the cycle and that is where the awe lives.



November 19:

These guys are my little brother's but I look up to them so much; they are kind, passionate lovers of life. Last month I had the chance to spend nearly a week with them in Door County, Wisconsin...I will treasure that always.





November 25:

I was out today for Flood the Streets with Art and feeding my soul



November 3:

My baby turned 7 today, she smiled ALL day and my heart is full to the brim!





December 4:

First Snow!




December 4:


This old man has been my companion and confidant for thirteen years, he came into my life just when I needed him and I am still thankful every day...




December 7:

I get a homesickness this time of year, a longing; for the air and the trees and the deer in my mother's yard, for the damp ground that sounds crisp and feels soft underfoot, for the damp air that envelopes and chills and smells of sweet pine. It's a dull ache in my bones that would be, that have been chilled by that damp air, longing to be quenched by that familiar mist.




December 8:

It is her face I miss, the wrinkles that meant time and glory and yes, pain. It is her hands I miss and their soft, soft touch, their ridges and groves that held and made and clenched and caressed. It is her voice I miss and the assurance it carried. It is her presence I miss and the intimacy of being that it revealed. Today my grandmother would be one hundred and one years old; she loved the redwoods, she called them the big trees




December 9:

I think there are times I look so hard for perspective there is no chance I will see it, no chance its subtle presence will be noticed, heard. What happens to wonder, to curiosity? What happens to awe? What happens to seeing? When do we learn to look; over and through and right past everything that is all around us, settling in on only what we wish was and wasn't there? If only we would stop looking we would find all of life to be so breathtaking...





December 10:

The in-between is a place we must learn to dwell, for mere moments if we are lucky; but often it is longer, stranger. And if we are patient it is the dawn we find on the other side, the dawn of new experience, new understanding; the morning of acceptance...




December 11:

My great-grandmother's thread box



With gratitude,

Joanna