Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Mantra

Happy 2016 everyone!
I decided to take some time away from the old blog to just be in the world and enjoy. And now I'm back with the first Monday mantra of the new year. Usually around the new year, I get all excited about the new possibilities. It feels good to shed an old year and jump into a new one. I set goals for myself. I reflect on the old year and how I can continue to move along the path. And then something terrible happens. About a week into the new year I start to get blue. I start to look around me and see that not much has changed. I start to slip in the commitments that I've made for myself. I start to feel like maybe this new year is as full of potential as I thought. If any of you know what that feels like, then this mantra is for you. Here it is:

Everything is okay

That's it. Short, sweet, and to the point. 
I have had this mantra on repeat in my head since the 2016 came a'knockin'. It has helped me to keep my expectations of the new year in check. It has helped me to shake the blues around those expectations. And, most importantly, it has reminded me that everything really is okay. I have all of my needs met. I have people who love me. That is enough and it is good.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Finding Inspiration with a Heavy Heart

 Something to keep in mind...:

This morning I had every intention of writing up a lovely Friday inspiration post about an article I recently read in the New Yorker. The article, written by Jhumpa Lahiri, talks about her journey to learn Italian, and how learning the language opened up a new world for her. It was light, it was sweet, it was insightful.

I am not writing that post today because, before I could do so, I was called into a meeting. I walked into a not well lit room where students and teachers were listening to the Vice-Rector of our campus give some disturbing news. A student was kidnapped and murdered. We all need to be careful. We all need to be mindful. And we all need to take care of ourselves and each other.

I cannot imagine getting that call, that call that your child is dead. The word is so final. There is no possibility left in it. And yet, after this meeting, we are expected to go on: to class, to labs, to holiday travels. How do we continue to find inspiration in moments like this where our blood has run just slightly colder?

Everyone has their theories as to why this happened. We arm ourselves with them; they help us feel safe. But the reality is that sometimes these things just happen. Maybe you could have been more guarded with your information, maybe you could have made sure to take a buddy along, and maybe you could have skipped that late night concert, and maybe trouble still would have befallen you. Living in fear is not living.

In moments like this, after I have taken a moment to feel for those affected, especially the parents, I try to remember that there is still life to live. That there is still ground under my feet, breath in my lungs, and possibility in my path. A life was taken, but how many more lives came into the world? We know when we enter into this earthly realm that at some point we will have to leave it. Knowing that demands that we get every drop of life out that we can, whatever that looks like for us.

I am sad that this student is gone. I am sad that so many people lose there lives everyday because of violence and ugliness. And I can only pray that those people were able to enjoy the lives that they did have. I can only pray that those people did not suffer too much in death. And I can only pray that the rest of us, with the time that we are granted, will use it well.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wednesday Art Moment

(c) Jimmy Nelson

The first time I met a Mayan person, I thought I was dreaming. I had been taught that Mayans didn't exist anymore. And yet, here was this person, with a language and a culture, that I thought only existed in textbooks. I have since had the pleasure of communing with other indigenous peoples (Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Black Hmong, Red Dzao, Long Neck Karen). Each time unique, jarring, and mind opening. So, I am fascinated by Jimmy Nelson's photos from his book Before They Pass Away. The photos are a love song to the cultures of our ancestors, that unfortunately are dying away. Thankfully, we have this beautiful record to hold onto, even though it is indeed bittersweet.

(c) Jimmy Nelson
The photographs are highly stylized, verging on high fashion. This makes them visually stunning, striking. Nelson has received some criticism for the representations in the photos, with people saying that they do not represent reality. While I can see that argument (I am sure that people do not walk around in full face paint and adornment everyday, indigenous or no), I see these photos as a vision of the indigenous groups through the lens of the divine, which makes for stunning art.

To get the book, click here.
For more information on Nelson's travels and the people featured in his photos, click here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Mantra

I grew up in the A.M.E. Zion church. While I have long since stopped identifying myself as a Christian, those old Negro spirituals remain a source of comfort. There is something about their simplicity that gives them a depth, a wholeness, that let's them pierce through the layers of pain or doubt and bring me back to a sense of possibility. There is one chorus in particular that has been on my mind of late. It simply goes:

I am going to trust in the Lord
I am going to trust in the Lord
I am going to trust in the Lord
til I die
I am going to trust in the Lord
I am going to trust in the Lord
I am going to trust in the Lord
til I die

Today's Monday mantra comes from this chorus. It is:

I allow and trust

I allow and trust that things will get better. I allow and I trust that my needs will be met. I allow and I trust that my blessing is coming. I allow and I trust that the seeds that I have planted will bear fruit.
There comes a point in time where we have to stop "doing" and begin "allowing". Where we have to pay attention to what is happening around us, join the flow, and trust that God/Jehovah/Allah/the Universe/our own two feet will lead us in the right direction. 

I will end this with a rendition of We've Come This Far by Faith/I Will Trust in the Lord. Let the energy of this sweep you up and motivate you to keep on your path. 

Namaste and Happy Monday!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Inspiration

All this week, BuzzFeed has been running stories about mental health, in something they are calling Mental Health Week. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I found this initiative to be inspiring and informative.

As with most things connected to BuzzFeed, you have to take the good with the bad. I found the profiles of people discussing anxiety, depression, medication, and suicide to be spot on in their candor. There are other profiles, as well, discussing PTSD, how couples deal with mental illness, and ADHD.  Overall, BuzzFeed is putting a face to many disorders that, unfortunately, are often mocked more than they are understood. They also did a spot on self care, which I would like to showcase as this Friday's Inspiration.

As we approach the holiday season, it is easy to fall into patterns of stress that can possibly lead to mental breakdowns. Whether you have a mental illness or not, the practice of self-care is a tool that we should all have at our disposal. My personal self care practices involve visual art, yoga, meditation, and writing. These are things that I can always go to when I have a flair up. While none of these things are cures for anxiety or depression, they are coping mechanisms that help me find my way back to functional and sometimes even to happiness.

What self-care practices do you have?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesdsay Art Moment

It's Wednesday! Time to look at pretty things to inspire the soul. This Wednesday art moment is all about the talented jewelry artist Marcie Abney Carroll. I first found her work when I was starting out in seed beads and looking for inspiration. I absolutely loved the intricacy and depth in her beaded pieces.

(c) Marcia Abney Carroll Spanish Lace

(c) Marcia Abney Carroll
It's been a joy to watch her work evolve over the years. She now mostly works with metals and stones, producing some beautiful pieces.

(c) Marcie Abney Carroll La Paz Series
(c) Marcie Abney Carroll

 What I love most about her work is that there is a story behind every piece. She is as much a poet and as she is a jewelry artist.

Here are her words on making jewelry that may not sell (click here for the full post):
I feel like a paperback at the library.
Stuck in those little spinning merry-go-round shelves while the real books get jackets and bookends and, well...dusted.
I feel dusty and my head hurts from spinning. 
Keep writing, I say to myself...
You may be a paperback, but they're lightweight and easy to carry,
and isn't that what you want to be anyway?
Oh, and also, the hardcovers don't get to be you, until they've sold a million copies...

Check out more Marcie Abney Carroll at her blog La Bella Joya or on her pinterest 
And you can buy her work here.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Monday Mantra

This past week has been a rough one. It has me questioning a lot of things. Mostly I wonder what makes us humans feel that killing other humans is the answer. Or worse, that killing other humans is simply something to do. It is easy to fall into fear when thinking about all of the violence happening around the world right now. And for a moment, I did. I was hurt, I was afraid, I was saddened, and I was bit angry as well. But I came back to meditation, I came back to my breath, and I came back to the reality that there is still kindness in the world. So, for this Monday's mantra, I would like to share the two affirmations that got me through the week:

Everything is gonna be alright

There is still kindness

 These two mantras allowed me to see past the gruesomeness of the headlines and recognize that the world hasn't actually gone mad. So, in the spirit of that idea, I end this with one of my favorite "everything is gonna be alright" jams: Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.

Namaste and have a great week!