Category Archives: Uncategorized

Between Worlds – Shifting

I’ve a layover to occupy here at the Philadelphia airport.  My system in a bit of a shock as to how tremendously noisy it is here back in the States – volume on all things up to 11.  Dublin, even its bustling, modern, state-of-the-art airport, pales in comparison to the noise of my home country and I am deeply grateful for sound-cancelling technology and the escape route of this blog space on my little device to help pass the time here.  These and some guacamole and a spot of wine (oh, avocados, how I have missed them!).

I find it hard to believe a trip I have so longed for, a trip years in the making really, is actually done and dusted.  In a way, I feel I’ve been away forever and a day (and my family and dogs likely would agree) and yet, as good trips often do, it all went by too fast for my liking.  I found moments when I wished to split myself into many pieces so as to take it all in properly.  One bit might step back in to the shadows and draw and paint it all, quiet as a church mouse there in the corner, forgotten.  Another bit of me might not be so shy when the tunes begin and would dive in with full confidence.  Still another me might sit in coversation with the lads from the village, soaking up their vernacular and storied ways (while painterly me takes careful notes on just what tweed each particular waistcoat consists of).  There is simply too much to take in.

Sketcher me does get a few things at least begun on paper, early in the trip, between raindrops one day and bus schedules the next.  These I shall eventually finish and post, but for now, frustrated with the paper in my book, they rest, awaiting proper studio attention once I get home.

A brief sketch pencilled in at the historic General Post Office in Dublin. It’s eerie to walk the hallowed halls of a place in which freedom was so markedly striven for.  Valiently.

My journey to Blackrock, Louth, ever so charming and lovely is over far too soon for my liking and I must make my way west into unfamiliar territory.  Green, rural, beautiful.  Navigating buses, trains, and the like, I eventually make it into Listowel where friends old and new await my arrival.  I am to participate in the inaugural Listowel Visual Arts Week, not as a teacher this time, but as a student!  This is a welcome breather to me after a week of intense facillitation in New Mexico.  My first evening is spent enjoying a Pecha Kucha presentation by artists in town as instructors, as well as some locals who seem to represent the very depth of creativity to be found in Listowel and surrounds.

The presentation ends and I am shuttled off to a pub called John B. Keane’s which is the center of all things for the rest of my time in town.  John B. Keane was an author and playwright known for shaping the local flavor into the compelling stories they surely are, for those with ears to hear and I was captivated by the spirit of the place, as well as by the songs and tunes to be had there throughout the week.

Days shift into days and soon it is the weekend when I attend a workshop put on by my multi-talented friend Lillie Morris who hails from Augusta, Georgia.

Lillie works in mixed media and paper collage and the following two days result in a great deal of work by all involved.

The work I myself produce is very much in keeping with Lillie’s iconic style, and yet, my own voice shines through as well.  The sign of a good teacher I do believe.

These days are over before we know it and suddenly time feels crunched.  So much we want to accomplish and yet the week is flying by.  Lillie has been traveling to Listowel for many a long year and is greeted and treated like family there.  I am welcomed into this fold like a long lost cousin and our lovely hosts whisk us off to County Clare for a peek at the iconic Cliffs of Moher and perhaps a tune or two in Ennis.  We both, Lillie and I, are also on the prowl for a place to teach in future.  This may happen in tandem as our work might fit nicely together, but we are both open to any and all possibilities.  Time will tell.

Our trip to Clare begins auspicously with a blessing from a raven himself.  (Though likely he just wants a snack from the tourists on the ferry from Kerry to Clare.)

Either way, he is a handsome fella indeed.

Cliffs of Moher do not disappoint, though I could do with fewer fellow tourists along the way.  All seem to be taking full advantage of the weather, which we hear tell is the longest sunny/dry spell since the fateful summer of 1976.

Ennis as well is lovely beyond belief and we enjoy tunes with friends of Lillie’s from over the years, tucked away in a local pub called Michael Fawl’s.  Unlike the mic’d up splendor of the session for the masses up the street, ours is in the back room, keeping ourselves to ourselves and it is indeed lovely in pacing, tune selection and over all company.

Ennis is, alas, merely an overnight adventure but we take in what we can, finding history and color and music along the way.

We even manage to meet a man who, along with his lovely wife Natasha run a retreat space geared toward artists so we head off to take a look.  It seems promising and we plan to keep in touch.

Soon we board our ferry back to Kerry and arriving on its shores feels like coming home.

Though to be fair, the shores of Clare are spectacular as well.

Home we go to Hannie’s House.  A place that is truly a step back into time and family.

A place where turf is still harvested and burned as fuel on cooler nights…

There is nothing like the smell of peat on the breeze to welcome one home to the cottage, is there not?

Listowel continues to open its arms our way, with new-to-me paths being introduced by Dan, Mike, Lillie, Diane, Noreen, Sean, Michelle et al.  I marvel at it all.

One day we drive just outside of town to a smaller seaside town called Ballybunion.  Along the way are many very Irish things to see.  Thatched cottages, turf being footed to dry, and a number of cows.

After lunch we head for the beach as I am keen to swim.

The day is filled with the collection of many sensory impressions- colors, light, stories ancient and recent, and of course, as much time as possible bobbing in the waves.  My Selkie nature shines through a bit on this day to be sure.

Alas the next day sees the end of time in Listowel and I once again traverse this green country to line up nearer to where I began this Irish adventure, Dublin.  Goodbyes are sad but I have a feeling I’ll be back quite soon.  And of course Lillie and I will soon be in our own version of Brigadoon at the Swannanoa Gathering sooner than later.  I am deeply grateful for my new friendships and inspirations found in Listowel.

Swords sees me tucked into a little hotel, up the street from a nice castle.

And just like that the trip is over.  My flight from Philly to Cincy is near to boarding so I shall post this now…… But know there is always more to share soon..

With deep gratitude.

 

 

 

Tessering

“It was the morning after the night before….”  ~Ciaran Carson

Miraculously, I find myself landed in Ireland somehow, having traversed time and space, desert, mountains, oceans along the way.  Last week the Taos-based workshop was in full final-days mode. Marathon days featuring visits to the buffalo on sacred Taos Pueblo land, aha moments of drawings well crafted, friendships solidified over laughter and late night story-telling and wine.  And work.  So much gorgeous work.  For me this means the gifts of facilitation and teaching kinds of work, for my workshop participants, it was painting, drawing and finding ways to craft color into images to make them sing sketch of work.  It was rich, delicious work, beautiful work. We called it play.

I could wax poetically about it all but instead I’ll merely share some imagery from the journey to Taos to now.  And on further along into magical lands of more art and music.  Brew a cup of tea and have a look…

So much of the west burns this summer. I wonder and worry over the health and safety of my workshop friends. But alas, we were blessed with a brief dying down of winds and even a couple of rainy days later in the week. Much needed, much celebrated.

 

 

I’m greeted upon arrival by the welcome of dear ones in Albuquerque. So caring and nourishing and generous. And on up into the Sangre de Christo mountains to Taos. It is good to land. See old friends. Rest. The calm before the storm of busy-ness.
There is even some time to see new places and sketch them in my book before the demands of teaching ensue.
The Taos light stops me in my tracks at every turn.

Words of The Wise Ones help set the tone day to day as we work. We jot them into our traveling journals next to inspired drawings.

Often we are given the great honor of visiting our friend Harold’s gorgeous herd of semi-wild buffalo. They are spectacular beasts and we enjoy making their acquaintance early on two different mornings.
Capturing the textures and colors of this place allow us to sink into its intricacies.

Most demos by yours truly are done on larger formatted paper for visibility, but occasionally my poor forgotten book receives a bit of love in the form of color.

Always I leave a small token of love, thanks and admiration for the cultural force that was our dear Mabel Dodge Luhan. This time I have an empty pocket as I merely took a student to do a quick grave rubbing. So I opt to give her my blotting cloth from class, richly coated with paint.

 

Oh these ladies of the canyon. How we laugh! We are sisters in creation. Laughter is a form of creation.

Beauty at every turn.

Fechin’s workspace. I’m called to paint.
In my departing days of packing up and shifting gears, rains come. Ireland seems to be quietly whispering, “It’s time.”
Goodbyes are sad. Some feeling more permanent than others as the shifting sands of time craft change even at Mabel’s. But I have a soul home in Taos. I’ll return soon.
A brief dip into reality as its called, via the airport, and the returning of my small, dusty but trusty desert chariot. I board the planes as necessary and sleep my way across the Atlantic. Awakening to find myself here on the emerald isle.
Dear friends from here and home together make my arrival and transition an easy one. The village of Blackrock, Louth is charm itself. I’m suddenly in outerwear defense with a bit of rain, my skin and soul drinking in the freshness after a week or more in the high desert.

Teacher-self gives into artist-self in spite of post-workshop and transatlantic exhaustion. The colors here are so very different. Vivid in their own way.

We beachcomb by day, catching up by night, with errands thrown in to the mix as well. My Blackrock based friends are due for their own transatlantic trek back to the states and it is time for me to make my way to Listowel….

There is so much more to tell. About my day in Dublin at a museum, and yet another traversing this green country  to find myself here. About arriving Listowel and immediately attending a Pecha Kucha event and a local music session immediately following. But for now I hear an accordion and can smell peat on the air. I must step back into the present.

More soon….

 

 

Heart-full-ness

Winter finally arrived in our fair river valley in the form of a harsh and deadly freeze which assaulted most of the eastern half of this country over the holiday season.

Occasionally, I’d glance at the temperature gauge in our car and see a number hovering around or below zero.  With the biting wind, it often seemed colder.

Our three dogs were not keen on going outside to do any amount of business, especially the smallest of them who found herself at the veterinarian with a nasty bout of colitis which may or may not have been related to cold weather issues and, ahem, business or lack thereof.

And yet, we soldiered through.  Fortunately for the human beans in this pack of ours, we could don coats and boots and we did manage to spend some time outside, in spite of the deadly temperatures.  And it was lovely indeed.

“We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day… even every winter day. I am sensible that I am imbibing health when I open my mouth to the wind. Staying in the house breeds a sort of insanity always.”  ~H.D. Thoreau  (via Brainpickings)

One particularly brisk day I attended a winter plant walk to see what we could see.  I learned a lot, procured some mushroom tonic which I believe helped me shake a head cold, and met a new friend as well.

Oh to have an alpaca coat in this cold clime!  We had a lovely conversation and I was whispered many alpaca secrets that morning.

Eventually, we were treated to a bit of a thaw, as we are wont to do here in Ohio being neither North nor South.  It is nice to breathe cool air instead of gasping at the cold.

This winter has been so very different from the last.  I look back at last winter’s blog posts and feel the fragility and desperation of a self barely holding on, riddled with illness – in both body and spirit – and a palpable malaise in front of which only the act of writing could keep me.

This winter, today, now, things are lighter.  I approach this harsh world with a new foundation forged of the groundedness which yoga practice, healthy eating and the like have afforded me.  I am deeply grateful.  The other day at in meditation class we learned that the idea of mindfulness, which everyone goes on about in this day and age, is actually a bit of a mistranslation from East to West. That a more fitting way to put the notion is that of heartfulness. 

I found this idea quite captivating and found myself ruminating upon it long after our hour together as a group.  What if, when we begin the spinning sensation of uncontrollable thinking – “good” or “bad” (light or shadow) – we might just go and curl up in our heartspace for a bit?  The space where kindness dwells.  The space where we are beyond judgement.  We are so very hard on ourselves, aren’t we?  When we think dark thoughts, or lose our patience or don’t live up to some constant standard we hold ourselves to.  What if we could just let these human tendencies come, and quietly, without judgement, let them go?  With a full heart.

This notion is not a new one, I am sure.  I am not one for labels or for following one particular tradition or spiritual path.  But this idea of heartfulness over mindfulness really makes sense to me.  And it’s nice for things to make sense now and again, isn’t it?

There is much brewing here in the studio, amidst all of the bothers of the day to day, and the workings of the day job.  Following the lead of my friend Kevin Necessary (amazing illustrator and official cartoonist at our local WCPO) I did something quite out of character the other day and downloaded a digital drawing application on my phone called Procreate Pocket. Kevin had posted some lovely digital drawings and I was interested to see if I might be able to do something of my own with this new tool.

And so I am something of an old dog learning a few new tricks.

It feels nice to use the phone as a tool, versus feeling used up by the phone and all of its trappings.  I’ve curbed my social media use in recent days, being more conscious of whether I am using it, or it is using me.

I’ve ordered some clayboard panels which should be in next week to expand a small painting of mine into a triptych of sorts – a special commission for some kind patrons who happen to like cows.

I’ve said yes to a low-paying illustration job in the hope that the exercise alone will be worth the effort.

I’ve recommitted to not only keeping up with the flute playing so near and dear to my heart, but learning a few tunes on the concertina which I spend so much time around anyway at the shop.  (So far, I have a polka, a bit of a waltz, and half of a jig.  and maybe a bit of that old hornpipe I tried to learn a few summers ago)  I am so fortunate to have access to these beautiful instruments.  I might as well learn to play one.

With the dawning of a new year, thoughts turn to re-centering in the things which mean the most to us.  My word for 2018 is T R U S T.  I like having a word to ponder and work with, versus a long list of resolutions.  I’m learning to trust my own intuition more and more.  A real gift of this stage of one’s life.

Tomorrow the hub and I head west for a couple of days by the ocean in between our busy work schedules.  Like a landlocked mermaid, I can already taste the salt air and am deeply looking forward to hearing the waves crashing.

“Dance upon the shore; What need have you to care for wind or water’s roar?”  ~W. B. Yeats

Keep an eye out in the usual posty places (IG , Twitter) for drawings and musings as we travel.  Wishing you the brightest of New Year’s offerings.  May it be all we hope it can be.  And more than we could ever have dreamed of.

 

 

This is Love

 

It is the day before the complex holiday we call Thanksgiving here in this country.  A holiday fraught with colonial baggage of things we must eventually confront as a nation if we are to move forward.  A holiday also fraught with the tradition of meal-time “discussions” in the realm of religion and politics, which if NPR is any indication, are to be dreaded.

That all said and acknowledged and considered, it is also one of my favorite days of the year.  Aside from a few years when we traveled with our daughter for Irish Dancing competitions, I have inherited the keeping of this day from my Grandma Kelley.  I even have the old roasting pan for the turkey.

We don’t make a huge fuss over things.  We here in our house cover the turkey, gravy, cookies and pies.  And the sides and sundries come from the rest of the family.  My niece Riley is bringing Thanksgiving bingo which warms my heart. (and some friends and foods as well!)

The kids are beginning their orbit home.  One has laundry going and is binge watching the Great British Bake Off.  We discuss the importance of a rue in a decent gravy….. (and yes, onions)

There is still enough dog hair floating around on the floor to knit up yet another dog and so there is still work to be done.  But we are on target.  It always has a way of coming together.

The pie crusts are resting, the whipped cream is crafted and the cookies are baked….

All of this is wrapped in love and gratitude.

We live in tumultuous times.  But we also are hopefully surrounded by people we love.  May this season bring gifts of gratitude and nourishment as we navigate the future.

Love and gratitude to you all.

This Is Love, by George Harrison….

Vicious words drift away from their meanings
And the sun melts the chill from our lives
Helping us all to remember what we came here for
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
Little things that will change you forever
May appear from out of the blue
Making fools of everybody who don’t understand
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love, this is love
This is love, this is la la la la love
Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
This is love
This is la la la la love
Songwriters: George Harrison / Jeff Lynne
This Is Love lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

 

Still point between journeys

Found a fortune in my backpack upon return from NM. It was from a take out meal I had in my hotel room at the Super 8, wrecked from heat exhaustion after exploring the Chaco Canyon area. It reads ‘a much needed vacation will allow you to unwind.’ Perhaps this is true.

Seems I have only been home for a day or two from New Mexico, but alas, it’s been far longer.  Long enough to get dragged back into the day-to-day, with day-job-work to attend to, family to connect with,  but I find myself on the eve of my favorite part of the season.  That part of the year in which I take ‘off’ from work, and yet, from which often my deepest idea-gatherings and thought-craftings dwell.  It seems a bit upside-down, doesn’t it?

Tomorrow before dawn we fly to visit our first born who is spending a magical summer out in Colorado on a musical fellowship.  I am excited to get back to a mountainous climate and to see our kid with my own eyes to make sure he’s all good.  4 years of conservatory can take it out of a fella and I’m his mama.   Enough said, I suppose.  This is not a usual jaunt for us in summer and it feels quite decadent.  We are excited and debating what to pack….

If time and inspiration allow, I will share some of our Rocky Mountain adventure here on the blog, but closely following this quick trip is my annual trek down the rabbit hole/ off to Brigadoon that is the Swannanoa Gathering.  Every year this week of music is exactly what it needs to be.  I’m out of practice but excited to see old friends and make new ones.  All of us sharing a love of Irish Music.  So we shall see, and I place no pressure on myself.

This last trek to Taos has me all shifted inside.  Not as game on the pressures that make me ‘work’.  Allowing things just to be instead of pushing them along.

“You can’t push the river.” ~Eunice Proust (via Terry Pratchett)

Just allowing.

Today, this allowing comes in the form of a cup of tea and some knitting to sit with this afternoon under a clouded-gray sky.  Seems like a total waste of time and yet, here I am.

I came across an amazing Rilke quote over on twitter the other day and I think it sums up my life’s work beautifully…

“I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.”  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Amen.

The other day I did some painting – finally – and it felt really good.  And now I am left with a small pile of not-good paintings lying around.  I find it really fascinating that the visual arts are such that our practicing leaves visible evidence in the world.  Often evidence we might not want others to see or share.  This isn’t the case in most other art forms.  When I practice tunes on my flute, I play them, maybe get a little better at playing the tune and move on – with no slime trail left behind.  This is something we visual artists must grapple with.  Even Georgia O’Keeffe had stretcher frames in her workshop off of which she had sliced undesirable paintings to be recycled or destroyed.  I love her moxie.

And, !ya esta!.  Sharing a cup of tea, and a quote that has me thinking big thoughts in the course of this, the latest of my gypsy summers.  I love being on the road.  It causes me to question everything and then to return home with eyes wide open to the beauty of it all and my gratitude for both the journey and the coming home.

 

 

Storming

There is a strange light in the sky and thunder in the distance.  It’s storm season here in Ohio, which is annual and to be expected.

But there is so much more storming to be witnessed.  I hear the news; –  local, national, global, and it is storming.  And it all makes me so sad.  I am at once lulled by the beauty of spring blooms not yet burned by frost, and also rooting for children not yet brought down in Syria by poison gases.  It is heartbreaking.

I look and look and look for things to cling to.  That the world is not yet lost.

Here are two things which brought me solace on this stormy day:

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/04/signs-of-spring/522003/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-photo-040517

and

Aldous Huxley on the Transcendent Power of Music and Why It Sings to Our Souls

Let us cling to beauty on stormy days.

On Youthful Imagination

A number of years back, one of my dearest friends discovered a little light growing inside of her, someone we all were excited to meet.  Someone who at the time we called Orby –  for he embodied that ‘little orb of light’ that we,  especially his delighted parents, could feel among us as a presence already.   There were not only adults awaiting Orby’s arrival here in this world, but a number of young kids, who adored the parents-to-be and wanted to create something special to welcome their new little friend to this wild earthly existence.

So, as one does, we gathered everyone’s ideas.  We knew that monsters can be the bane of a young person’s existence, at least at first. This group of youngsters wanted Orby to feel safe and loved and to know that not all strange creatures were out to get ya.

As the artist in this particular community, I collected the children’s ideas of monsters in the form of drawings from them.  Some of the kids were older, some mere toddlers, so the monsters ranged in complexity.  But they all told a story, and they all had heart.

Some were bagpipes, which had been feared, but without reason.

Others, haunted the high hill tops and deep valleys of far-flung mountainous terrains.

And still others could be found deep at sea, or perhaps outer space.  Teaching us of worlds away from our own.  For what else are monsters for, if not to inform us of the unknown; worlds outside of our own imaginings?

Orby was born, given an earthly name of Elliot, which suits him beautifully.  And soon, he was drawing his own early doodles, as was his young sister Alice Willow just a few years later.

Their beautiful, crafty mama translated a number of their early drawings into little embroidered keepsakes to keep on the wall in their home and they are lovely in their sweetness and simplicity.

I asked her to snap these lovelies, as well as to take some updated snapshots of the Orby quilted flora and fauna in support of an up and coming embroidery class to be held again at my favorite fibery haunt these days, Fibergé.

The drawings of children are so telling – of what they are feeling, seeing, experiencing beyond the bounds of language which eludes the most adult among us, yes?  With most kids, if we are paying attention as parents or teachers or aunties or care-givers, there is that first magical drawing which actually has a name.  The one in which the child says, “that is the moon.”  or “that, is a pig.” or “that is a feather.” for the very first time.  These are magical moments when the drawn image is tied to an idea.  And if you are an educator or merely a parent fascinated by the stages of youthful development, you know the importance of this jump between what happens inside a young mind, and how that young mind ties it to the outside world through a drawing.

I was in Fibergé the other day picking up a new skirt I commissioned from her collection of AMAZING fabrics (more on that soon hopefully on the blog!!) and we were talking of what might make a nice theme for our next embroidery-class partnership.  I love teaching there and was keen to do so again.  We got to talking about Mother’s Day and how fun it might be to do something along those lines and we came up with the idea to follow the lead of the kids, much as I had done with the Orby quilt years ago.

As a busy working mama running her own business, Lysha of Fibergé-fame has amazing kids who take it in stride to spend time doodling or playing when mama is with a customer or a vendor.  And Lysha pays attention to the evidence of these times with the love only a working mama or papa can have.

I kidnapped a few of these sweet drawings (with permission, of course!) to interpret into samples for the upcoming class this May 6th.

I had a ball and they came together beautifully!

If you are local to the Cincinnati area, do consider joining us for this upcoming class.  Beginners are welcome as we will be covering the basics, of course.  As you can see by Kristin’s sweet hoops above, simple can be absolutely stunning with a simple chain stitch!  But I can also fill you in on how I approached the rest of the monsters in Orby’s quilt and send you home with some ideas for such.

Or perhaps you just want to come in to create a gift for mama, or grandmama (Dad’s? Don’t think you can’t wield a needle?  Do check out the work of Mr. Finch!).  Either way, consider joining us for a workshop at Fibergé on May 6.

I look forward to seeing you there!  In the meantime, stay tuned to this space.  travel season is beginning…….

 

Resist

Been hard to concentrate round here, what with ‘political whiplash’ as one friend put it.  But drawings get done in between staying informed and active.  Our friends in Hamstertown are ready to welcome new friends from away who have traveled far and long and have worked so hard to make the journey to a new life.

Meanwhile, this tweet gave me a chuckle, and is quite how I feel about working just now.  But I work anyway.

What comes next?

As I have mentioned, little snippets of Hamilton just seem to hit the nail on the head when it comes to recent political events here in this divided country of  ours.

“…You were mine to subdue
Well, even despite our estrangement, I’ve got
A small query for you:

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead
?

You’re on your own
Awesome. Wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?

Oceans rise
Empires fall

It’s much harder when it’s all your call….”

Yesterday here in this fair Queen City of Cincinnati, Ohio, we marched.  I must remind my more conservative readers (if you are even still with me here) that this river town is not an ‘elite coastal city’ which some claim are the only places in which  marching and peaceful protesting are happening.  We are an average blue city amidst the VERY red state of Ohio.  And like many cities around the world we marched en masse in the thousands.  It was remarkable and emboldening.

And here is why we marched.

(if anyone knows the source of this meme, please let me know so I can link to it. And if you are unfamiliar with what this image is referring to,  here’s a brief start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images)

We marched because this election was so much more than Democracy gone awry for our ‘side’.  Shear human decency was pulled through the proverbial ringer this past election season and we did not come out of it the better for our efforts.  Many were shocked.  But some of us saw it coming down the pike.  And now here we are.

It’s important to have water to drink at a march because it can go on for hours. This sticker was designed by my friend Kim Rae Taylor and you can get yours in t-shirt form here
From the Scottish TV pages. Sometimes the very best commentary comes from across the pond!

We are, it would seem, in a very strange ‘interactive virtual reality project’.  And so we marched.  On the shoulders of giants.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

– Maya Angelou

Protesters crafted clever signage to carry along the route.

Saw this version on Twitter, but many like it here in our own march
This sign was posted on Brene Brown’s Instagram feed and as a card carrying introvert who loathes crowd energy, I for one couldn’t agree more.
My step-mama Sue, an activist and extremely politically engaged at all times, is an inspiration to follow.
This amazing design has been doing the rounds and I saw it on a number of protest signs.  Far as I know, this is the source… http://ladieswhodesign.com/
I sincerely hope JK Rowling knows she has inspired a new generation of activists. Harry Potter is so relevant. It makes my heart happy.
And the other side of the Harry Potter inspired protest swag.
Even the little’s had something to say. The other side of this sign had this child’s scribbles in marker. Her parents translated her scribbles for all to read and understand.
My friend Julie Persons got Claudia involved too.  Will you look at that tiny hat!?  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/adventuresofclaudia

This day was billed as a day for ‘Women’s Marches’ all around the world.  But, as the protesters did chant, “Women’s rights are human rights.”  The day was more than just for or about women.  We were protesting everything the Trump administration stands for.  Black Lives Matter activists were present and marching in solidarity, as were those standing up for the rights of Muslims here in our community, and the rights of those with disabilities.  Those who are worried for the future of public education under the person nominated for Education Secretary were there as well with their concerns and signs. Entire families were present.  My own included three generations.  There were tiny babies and the elderly in wheel chairs or with canes.  We all helped each other along the cobblestones of Over The Rhine.  It was beautiful.

“The thing about “snowflakes” is this: They are beautiful and unique, but in large numbers become an unstoppable avalanche that will bury you.”

~George Takei

We marched this day to build one another up for what will be four years of chipping away at the rights of many, in favor of lining the pockets of those already too rich for normal people to even conceive.

A t-shirt design I did awhile back for the beautiful song above by my dear friend Kim Taylor. (yes, another brilliantly talented friend called Kim Taylor.  I adore them both!)

Just last night I attended a musical birthday celebration and in the wings we whispered about the success of the marches around the world, while simultaneously lamenting the changes already affecting those most vulnerable in our community.  One friend, a physician, works with many immigrants and desperately poor folks on the fringe who are frightened to even show identification to their medical caregivers under this new administration.  Her office is mostly federally funded.  They may not even be present to give care if the promised cuts come along.  Another friend, recipient of an FHA loan to purchase her home was emailed that very day of an increase in her mortgage of $150 per month.  With a swish of a pen stroke, Trump signed away Obama’s 1/2% tax break, meaning many families will have to scramble just to pay for their homes now.  $150 is a ton of money for a working family.  But what would Mr. Trump know of such troubles as a billionaire, eh?  Sadly, many folks who voted him into office will get a similar email.  I wonder if they can make ends meet.

Which leads me to my original question.  What comes next? Marches are all well and good and definitely were a shot of desperately needed hope for many of us who lean toward the progressive end of the spectrum.  But they are not enough.  We have a lot of work to do.  I will not say that marches don’t make change.  I believe they do.  And so does Rebecca Solnit.  I recently read her book Hope in the Dark and in it she makes a case for the fact that even the smallest acts of protest can go on to have lives of their own and spark other action elsewhere which we may never witness.  Yesterday’s protests may possibly not yield the large benefits we all envision until generations from now, but we mustn’t sit back and wait and see.  There are things we can do here and now – ways we can ride this wave of rebellion.

There are concrete things we can do to stay engaged in this protest and not lose steam. More info here

Local government is where seeds of change begin to unfurl and grow and so we can begin there.  We must also stay on our national and state level representatives to remind them we are watching their every political move.  Post cards, phone calls.  Conversations with our neighbors.  We must continue to rise up as one voice in defense of the defenseless.

“Rise up
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s got to rise up
Tell your sister that she’s got to rise up.”

~Lin Manuel Miranda

And through all of this, we artists must continue to find balance amidst this chaos in order to tend to our own quiet work, equally as powerful in making change as all the political actions.  In recent days, two of my past Taos Workshop participants told me that taking my sketch journaling class had literally changed their lives.  I don’t share this here to brag or even to market the class, but rather to marvel.  To remind myself how important the work is.  To remind myself, and you dear readers, how crucial our individual voices are in this tumultuous time.  Even if they feel small or quiet.

“I also wanted to write to let you know, ( months after the fact) how your workshop in Taos last summer transformed my life. At the risk of sounding corny, it lifted me out of the cocoon that I had been hiding in for so long. After coming back from Taos, my sense of adventure and joy was restored. I’ve got to tell you how major this is especially for a girl who struggles with depression and anxiety. You are making a difference. You certainly made a difference in mine. Your workshop is so reinvigorating and life giving to the soul. Friends and family have even taken notice of how I’ve taken flight after the workshop. It fed the starving creative in me which is who I am in my deep core. Fast forward four months, I finally quit the job I hated and decided to go back to school full time to pursue my dream of becoming a web designer and user experience guru. Butterfly effect much?”

~2016 Taos class participant.  <3  quote used here with permission.

So go forth and doodle.  go forth and write your poems of love and rage.  go forth and run for local office.  go forth and get to know that Trump loving neighbor or family member, and if they are open to it, (and you can stomach it) engage them in conversation.  go forth and build this great nation (who is still, “young scrappy and hungry” compared to most of the rest of the world) with liberty and justice for all.  

With Gratitude. In spite of many things

An old poem caught my eye as I did a big studio clean in recent days.  Poets have a way of shaping words around the world as we must face it.  For this, and many other things, I am deeply grateful.  Happy Christmas to all of you.  May your new year be merry and bright.

With love,

Amy

Thanks

Listen

with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water thanking it

standing by the windows looking out

in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging

after funerals we are saying thank you

after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators

remembering wars and the police at the door

and the beatings on the stairs we are saying thank you

in the banks we are saying thank you

in the faces of the officials and the rich

and of all who will never change

we go on saying thank you

with the animals dying around us

taking our feelings we are saying thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minures

of our lives we are saying thank you

with the words going out like cells of a brain

with the cities growing over us

we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

thank you we are saying and waving

dark though it is

W.S. MERWIN