Inspiration Productivity

A Summer of Abundance and Growth

September 25, 2015

Paintings by Ursala Hudson

Waves of monsoons resulted in a lush, thriving summer that offered abundance in all areas of our family’s life. I like a state of constant movement — analyzing, brainstorming, and producing. I generally try not to think about how much is getting done because otherwise I get anxiety that I’m not creating enough. Therefore, it wasn’t immediately obvious if we’d even accomplished much over the past three months, but as I began listing the projects that Drie and I completed, I finally felt like I could take a deep breath and relax. Here is the recap of the projects we worked on this summer.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Paintings & Collages

I started the summer by returning to my oil painting, but oil painting requires patience and rotating through paintings while the others dry, and sometimes I just want instantaneous results! So I turned to painting in acrylics and making collages. It was so refreshing, and I just might keep it up until my little girls are bigger and I get larger chunks of time at my easel.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Ghost Rabbits dress-up 

Drie has collected quite the stockpile of amazing vintage garments over the last year, and it completely fills her entire guest room. One of our favorite past-times with two of our best friends, Betsy and Emilie, is over-dressing for parties and events. Emilie and Betsy (sisters) were both in town this summer, so Drie jumped at the opportunity to have a dress-up party, even though we had nowhere to go. The four of us rummaged through Drie’s racks and shelves and took photos for her blog that accompanies her vintage Etsy store, Ghost Rabbits. It was a little hard to part with the pieces I modeled, but I’ve scored some other beauties off of her in the months since. See the Ghost Rabbits blog post for more photos.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Charter school touring

I’ve been working on opening a K-12 charter school with a group of parents here in Pagosa, and this summer we were able to travel around Colorado and New Mexico, visiting innovative schools to gain inspiration before we wrote our own academic model into the charter application. The above photo is from a Montessori farm school in Española, New Mexico, that centers its curriculum around growing food.

Charter schools are public schools that do not discriminate nor charge tuition, and they are exempt from many of the state regulations that conventional public schools must follow. Our school won’t be opening until the fall of 2017, because the charter application takes about a year to write, and then the school takes about a year to open, but our group is right on track! Follow our adventures on the Pagosa Charter School Initiative’s blog by clicking here.

This charter school project has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve experienced in my life, mostly because it’s showed me that the first step in a creative project is usually the toughest: committing. And then, as long as you have a work plan, you have a pretty strong chance of succeeding.

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Aerial

Drie has been doing aerial training for a few years now, picking it up at Cirque School LA. When she returned to Pagosa last winter she had assumed she’d be sacrificing certain luxuries by moving here, including an aerial community, but almost immediately found out that she wasn’t going to have to give up on the silks after all. Her friend Sariah, whom she took her yoga teacher training from, offers non-formal aerial training at her gym where Drie also takes yoga classes.

Aerial is a fun, unique, and graceful way to stay in shape, and I’m just a tad bit envious at Drie’s strength and commitment to it. Drie is innately dedicated to caring for her body and mind in ways that express her individuality and femininity, and this summer of rekindling her love for the silks is just the beginning of what’s to come.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Art with the daughter

One of my fondest memories growing up in this little town I [still] live in was submitting my artwork into the county fair each August. At our county fair you can enter one item in every category of their display competition, but since this was Amelie’s first year, we focused on making one quality piece of work. She carved an Easy-to-Cut “suicide” block print with my guidance, and I only directly helped with the printing. When we saw the blue ribbon hanging from the frame after judging, we were both pretty proud.

We also did quite a few other art projects this summer, mostly creating huge messes of tiny cut-up paper, and a couple collaborative paintings. Read more about painting in acrylics with children here.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Folk festival 

This year my long-time buddy and graphic design colleague, Jacque, invited me to take photos for Folk West at the Four Corners Folk Festival. I haven’t taken full advantage of this local music festival in the past, but this year I had a back-stage full-access pass, with late-night shows and all meals included, and I fell completely in love. I went wherever, whenever I pleased, and heard the bands play from as close to the stage as was possible. The late-night performances were my favorite because of the small audiences and less formal set lists. The above photo is the fiddle player from the Oh Hello’s, who had all the young girls in the crowd swooning. I sure hope I get invited back next year!

vintage dress restoration

Vintage restoration

On her road trips Drie finds all sorts of delectable treasures, but oftentimes they have been discarded due to damage. The price makes them hard to pass up, so Drie takes them home and works her magic, restoring them to their previous glory. Restoration is time and research intensive, but always a rewarding experience. The amazing dress above was completely tea-stained before Drie spent a couple days giving the dress tender-loving baths and drying it in the shade. Other restored items are mixed in with her other treasures in her vintage store.

reflecting on the seasons for future growth

Gardening

Growing food at 7,000 feet above sea level is really fucking hard. In some climates you can just throw seeds around and pretty soon there’s stuff growing everywhere, but there’s only about 3 months of a growing season here in Pagosa. We have all four seasons, drought, the intense sun, and the wildlife that all require extra measures to be taken. Last year I managed to get a pretty abundant garden going before the deer ate 2/3 of it by mid-July. It was pretty heart-breaking. So, this year my dad helped me build a hoop-house. We clamped plastic to the ends, and put a shade cloth over the top, and not only has it kept the animals out, but nothing got fried by the sun! The shade cloth lets in most of the rain too, so I really only watered while my seedlings were coming up. Next spring I’m going to put plastic over the top to prolong my growing season by a couple months, but I’m not quite ready to water through the winter yet, so the shade cloth will be coming down any day now.

Stone Currents projects

This blog has been one of our largest projects this summer, as anticipated at the start-up. Drie and I were experiencing a minor disconnect, with her living *gasp* eight minutes away, and the babies napping seemingly all day long. Our blog projects and adventures force us to stay in contact and encourage us to create cool stuff both together and individually. Here were the summer projects we previously blogged about:

With the goal of inspiring our readers to reflect on periods of creativity, I plan to do more seasonal project recaps in the future. This sort of compilation of achievements is a great method to bring awareness to areas you neglect while simultaneously honoring your accomplishments. It can be a motivating and a mindful way to enter new phases with updated goals and a clearer vision. What have you produced recently?

Art & Creativity

Make It: Collage Postcards

September 21, 2015

Collaged postcards

Collages aren’t just for celebrity montages in high school— now there are numerous new emerging artists that make a living by collage-making alone. The collage process is a fun way to express your creative self, and anyone can do it.

Collage is the combination of pieces of diverse materials and media, such as newspaper, magazines, package labels, fabric, paint and photographs, thrown into one composition. The term itself derives from the French “coller,” meaning “glue.” It was coined by art buddies, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, at the beginning of the 20th century, when collage became a distinct part of modern art.

Collaged postcards are a fun and fast way to be creative and send a gift.  Here are some inspiring links for collage inspiration: one, two, three, four.

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Use recycled cardboard as a base (old cereal boxes and cracker boxes, etc). Cut out postcard-size pieces at least 3-1/2 inches high by 5 inches long, and no more than 4-1/4 inches high by 6 inches long by 0.016 inches thick.

Choose and cut out your inspiration with scissors or an X-Acto knife. Old magazines and books from the thrift store are inexpensive and inspiring, and you can usually find vintage science books, old Time Magazine books, and National Geographic for a few quarters. Bits of candy wrappers, ticket stubs, Japanese papers, and discarded artwork are all great materials too.

Use a glue stick or rubber cement to paste everything together on the outside of the cardboard, leaving the bare brown side to write on.

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Once your masterpiece is pasted together you can laminate it with Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets, leaving about 1/4 inch of the laminant hanging over the edges, cutting the four corners off to leave eight 45 degree angles, and then folding the laminant over to the blank side of the postcard.  You can also protect the cover of the postcard by painting a thin layer of Elmer’s School Glue to your art with an old paintbrush. It dries clear with a matte finish.

Fin!

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Adventure Meditations

Monthly Adventure: The River Pride

September 18, 2015

Pagosa Walks

As we set out on this month’s adventure, we were a little apprehensive about just how adventurous our expedition would be. We had plans to visit a waterfall, but we were getting a late start and it was pretty far away for an almost-empty tank of gas. Instead, we decided to explore the river area nearby, which turned out to be much less exciting than we’d hoped, although still beautiful. At one point we attempted to wade to an island in the middle of the river for a picnic. However, with each cold, barefooted step with babies and bags strapped to us, that the island looked increasingly more distant, hot, and rocky; we agreed to turn back.

Wade in the water

weeds

After walking aimlessly in various directions, we finally tried trespassing through someone’s backyard in the direction of some shade, and found a nice spot by the river to set out our lunches. We ate with only a few tears and a bit of uncontrollable laughter, then prepared to head back home, ready to admit adventurous defeat — and that was when the real adventure began.

Pagosa Picnic

Momma and Baby

Baby cry

The adventure of an 18-year friendship is certainly one of the most educational, stimulating, emotionally tiresome, and rewarding journeys. Over Drie and I’s relationship there have been numerous trials that have allowed us the face the real shit, squash it, and continue on stronger, as companions and individuals

In junior high Drie and I had a rather heated fight concerning the size of a black bear. While we were riding our bikes, a semi truck passed us that featured on its side a huge photo of a bear laying on a bed. I said that the bear would have broken the bed, because bears weigh at least 1000 lbs. Drie scoffed at my idiocy, claiming that black bears weigh no more than 300 lbs. We were so irritated by each other’s inability to accept our own claims that we both rode back to our homes alone. At school the next day, the encyclopedia settled matters for us. Black bears generally weigh between 300 and 600 lbs. Google now settles many similar arguments for us before we get too riled up, thank the lord.

In high school I began experimenting with marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, and at first I was fine with Drie’s decision to remain straight-edge. But then I began getting uncomfortable with her sobriety in the middle of my paranoid trips. My new favorite topic to explore was reality and the effects of drugs, but she couldn’t contribute to the conversation, so I tried to guilt-trip her into trying weed. She refused, therefore I told her that we had to break it off. We weren’t friends for three years. It wasn’t easy going from seeing each other 365 days out of the year to avoiding eye contact in a high school of 400 kids. Yet, by graduation I had enough humbling trips to realize how sucky of a friend I’d been, and we started back where we’d left off.

There have been a couple other major fights in the midst of knowing each other, but it had been several years since our last one. Our uneventful adventure-day broke the drought. I was about to lose my first and only dog to some unknown swollen-belly disease, and Drie was in denial that he could die at only 8 years-old. He was there to witness much of the growth, partying and broken hearts of our 20s, and neither of us were emotionally prepared to let our quiet parter-in-crime leave us so soon — but Drie and I handle our emotions differently, which is hard to remember with death on the horizon. I get a fierce need to debate philosophical beliefs of justice, and Drie goes to a place of anxious positivity, both methods that allow us to escape the reality of things, but aren’t exactly related, nor enjoyable to combine together. I wanted to complain about disease, conventional treatments, and talk about the end of Hank, my dog, but Drie wanted me to shut up and not admit defeat. Our brief 4-minute argument of burning tears and racing hearts ended with Drie walking home while I was left to fold up the excruciatingly heavy picnic blanket all alone (which was really just the size & weight of a twin sheet, but how could she?!). We didn’t speak for a week.

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I think what helped pull us out of those river-side grudges was that we both realized that 1) my dog wasn’t going to have a just nor positive end, and 2) that we needed to swallow our pride and allow one another to process life in different ways. In some relationships you simply need to go through the unreasonable blinded fits to remind both parties what it takes to continue on, and step it up. Not only do you need to allow room for different beliefs and ways of communicating, but you also need to be able to change the ways in which you suck at being a friend.

No one wants to face their sucky, prideful self, but sometimes you find yourself on an uneventful adventure and things start getting rocky, and you don’t want to admit it, but you chose the wrong path… and you decide that you’ll continue the adventure, but somewhere a little more rad.

Body & Mind Inspiration

Yoga Teacher Training with Baby Wyatt

September 15, 2015

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Last month I was able to complete the extremely rewarding experience of becoming a certified yoga teacher, which I didn’t anticipate happening until my baby boy, Wyatt Grey, was much older and able to spend more time without me. However, by following my passions, and the fruition of a new friendship, I was able to finish my first yoga teacher training with Baby Wyatt on the yoga mat next to me. This is my story about the fostering of positive relationships and intentions, and how dreams can come true when you least expect it.

How I Fell In Love with Yoga

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been active and into fitness, constantly exploring my outdoor environment, climbing trees, riding horses, skiing, and doing sit-ups and pull-ups just to test my strength. In junior high I went to a few yoga classes at a gym with my mom and I was immediately hooked; I loved the slow-paced workout that pushed me physically and challenged my balance and flexibility, all while clearing my head. I started working at that gym during the summers, making healthy food and drinks at the snack bar and signing people up for memberships, and I got free classes. I had just started running cross country, and doing yoga right after a run is the perfect paring. My tight runner legs stretched instantly, and I felt energized, beautiful and whole for the rest of the day. I felt the internal power, strength and light within. When I moved to L.A. I continued attending new and exciting yoga classes to relax from the hustle and bustle of the city and feel better about myself and the world.

I always thought I’d really love to teach yoga. During my cross country years in high school I was never an excellent runner because I didn’t have the passion to push myself to my full potential. However, my team loved me and I was always sent to the state finals, not for running, but for my positive energy. I was the motivational coach that massaged everyones calves on bus and cheered them on during their race. This positive energy has continued within me for the last decade, coaching others informally about positivity and gratitude. I knew that yoga would be a wonderful way I could continue to share and broaden my light with others, as well as share my passion for strength, flexibility, and balance.

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My Life and Teacher Training Aligning

While yoga teacher training was always something I really wanted to do, it seemed more like an idea for the future. The time and money never lined up, so I continued to take classes and grow my home practice. I kept doing yoga throughout my pregnancy and started back up as soon as I was physically able after Wyatt was born, sometimes incorporating him into my practice.

When I moved back to my hometown I met an incredible woman that made many of my dreams align. Sariah had moved to our small mountain town with her family while I was living in California, so when I returned home I was surprised to find and meet a soul that shared so many of the same passions. Sariah is a dancer, yoga teacher, a Crossfit coach, and she also happened to have silks in the Crossfit training gym. The minute I found out that she had silks to play on, I was there. I was so happy to have aerial back in my life.  I had been doing aerial training at Cirque School L.A., but when I moved back to Pagosa I thought that those aerial days where behind me until I could afford to get my own equipment and train at home.

I started going to Sariah’s yoga class on Sundays with Wyatt and then we would play on the silks after. I soon got to know Sariah even more and felt so blessed to have her in my life. At the start of summer she told me that she wanted to teach a yoga teacher training course. I immediately told her I was in. I was probably the first one to sign up, and a few months down the road, Sariah’s first yoga teacher training began. Class was held at her private yoga studio, SE School of Movement, nestled away in the mountains at her house.

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The Experience

There were four of us in the class, plus Wyatt.  I apprehensively asked Sariah if it was alright to bring Wyatt, since that would be the only way I’d be able to attend the training. Without hesitation she said yes, sure that it would benefit everyone.  So, Wyatt Grey and I spent a whole week together doing poses, meditating, studying, breathing, and playing. It was a wonderful adventure, both in the studio and at home doing “homework”. We all practiced teaching each other, studying anatomy, learning acro yoga, going on fun nature walks, and teaching yoga on the paddle boards.

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Yoga Teacher Training with a Baby

The whole class warmed up to Wyatt fast. The rest of our new little yogi community would take turns holding him and entertaining him when I wasn’t able to. When Wyatt had to sleep I put him down and he would sleep on the floor, cuddled up during class. I also got to practice teaching with Wyatt, showing the rest of the class how I incorporate him into my practice. Yoga teacher training was great with Wyatt and it will be cool to tell him later in life that he finished his first teacher training at 7 months!

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Whats next

My Love and I are on the road for a month collecting new vintage for Ghost Rabbits, tattooing, and seeing family and friends.  I plan to organize a few yoga flow classes that I want to teach and practice with everyone while we’re on the road. Eventually, I will do donation-based classes at home in Pagosa and on the road.  I also want to do a yoga-with-baby class and blog post series soon— stay tuned, it will be fun!

Body & Mind Little Souls

Home Rhythms

September 8, 2015

Healthy Home Rhythms

We are creatures of rhythm. From the moment we are born we are ruled by the rhythm of the seasons, the tides, the days, the heart. Sometimes it feels right to just wing it and take life as it comes, but the practice of living life in rhythmic waves helps reduce stress, provides security, promotes productivity, and supports a tidy, cozy home.

I already had a sense that some sort of daily structure would make me more present-minded, but I lacked the training to create a functional daily routine. Then, this summer I took Kerry Ingram’s online Healthy Home Rhythms course, which offered the perfect amount of guidance to create a framework for my family’s days. Different from typical routines, home rhythms are effective because they are balanced energetically, diverse, and flexible.

After completing all the activities in Kerry’s course and seeing it positively affect my life, I began researching home rhythms more to better understand their effectiveness (nerd alert). Kerry has a background in early Waldorf education, so it wasn’t surprising that all of the sources I found online related to home rhythms were based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies about human development. Here’s the rundown:

Home Rhythms

Why Rhythm

Children and adults alike handle changes best if its expected and occurs amidst a familiar routine. Predictable routines allow children to feel safe and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives; as this sense of mastery is strengthened, they can tackle larger changes. Rhythms are not strict, they simply act as a compass. They are an intentional flow to your days and weeks, and if the rhythm is broken for a spontaneous event, the routine acts as a baseline to comfortably return to the direction and continuous productivity of the day.

In-breath, Out-breath

Rhythm is different than a routine or schedule. Adhering to a rhythm involves being mindful of the breath: breathing in the day and out the day. When intervals of energy exertion are not broken up with at least brief periods of turning inward, it oftentimes results in physical and mental exhaustion. The inhales are times of calmness and reflection, and the exhales are times of interaction with the outside world. For example, you may share an intimate breakfast (inhale), then go outside for a hike (exhale), then come inside to wash hands and clean up (inhale), followed by emptying your email inbox while the kids entertain themselves (exhale).

Daily and Weekly Rhythms

Daily rhythms offer flexible guidelines for greater mindfulness during each activity, which is vital when it comes to offering your children quality time, or a clear head for sinking into creative projects. Children also feel a sense of ease when they know what activities they can expect throughout the day.

Weekly rhythms provide structure for making and balancing time to commit to various aspects of your life. Furthermore, the repetition of the same weekly activities promotes excitement and appreciation for what makes each day of the week special.

Seasonal Rhythm

Family traditions that mark the seasons are a great way to celebrate the change that can be anticipated within the home rhythm. Young children thrive on anticipation of special days, and traditions offer a concrete way to interact with the cycles of the otherwise abstract calendar year. To help foster the excitement and appreciation of mother nature’s rhythm take lots of walks outside to the same places throughout the year and plan holidays and traditions together. Try to celebrate each season with at least one tradition.

Transitions

For both adults and children, allowing sufficient transition time reduces stress for everyone involved. Bedtime, cleanup, coming to the dinner table, or getting out the door don’t have to be times of high-energy and potential trouble. Think through all the steps that need to happen between activities and do them in the same order every time. Your children will begin to memorize the rhythm, and you will begin to realize how long it actually takes to transition. Usually the cause of perpetual lateness is the lack of allocated time for transitioning between activities.

Home Rhythms

Our Summer Rhythm

Daily Routine

  • Mom-time (usually starts at 5:30am): yoga or meditation, tea, work
  • Kids wake up, wash up & get dressed
  • Make breakfast & prep for dinner (if necessary) while kids play by themselves or help cook
  • Breakfast (alternates between pancakes or french toast, smoothie with hot cereal, and eggs with toast)
  • Home care while children join in or not
  • Baby nap & project: art, gardening, music, etcetera
  • Lunch & clean up
  • Errands, or free play while I catch up on emails
  • Baby nap & project: art, gardening, music, etcetera
  • Dinner & clean up
  • Bedtime routine: bath, stories, gratitude, song
  • Sleep

Weekly Routine

Each day I allocate a chunk of time in the morning to work alongside my children, a chunk of time to take care of the house, and I stick to a weekly cycle of dinner themes to make meal planning easier. My eldest daughter knows that tacos will likely be the dinner the evening after Stir Fry Night, so she eats her veggies and rice willingly as she anticipates the next evening. She also likes knowing that on Family Day she gets to help roll out crust for quiche.

Weekly Waldorf rhythms for children include watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, gardening, bread-making, and festival preparations. As a creative and a mother, my weekly rhythm involves art-making (painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, usually done alongside my daughter), baking, gardening, and playing music. I also rotate my “work” time during the mornings between graphic work, art, blogging, and social media, but I didn’t share that on our schedule below. Now that Amelie has started school, our rhythm will be changing, but here’s how it’s been for the past month:

  • Monday: Art, Floors, Stir fry
  • Tuesday: Garden,Groceries, Mexican
  • Wednesday: Walk with Grandpa Bill, Laundry, Leftovers
  • Thursday: Art, Bathrooms, Italian
  • Friday: Music, Floors, Meat & veggies
  • Saturday: Family time, Bedrooms & Studio, Quiche & salad
  • Sunday: Baking, Laundry, Crock pot roast

I would highly suggest taking Kerry’s Healthy Home Rhythms course because it offers an easy-to-follow step-by-step approach to creating your own system. She provides beautiful seasonal rhythm and meal planning wheels designed by illustrator Kathryn Cole that are refreshing, unique approaches to weekly schedules.  I’m a big advocate for print materials that incite joy in you so that you’re more likely to continue using your products. Poorly designed materials create subconscious feelings of unease and distress.

Does your family have a routine or home rhythm? If so, how has it affected your life? What are some tips that could make a family rhythm stronger and more effective?

Home Rhythms

** Note: This post was a self-directed review and summary of home rhythms, inspired by Kerry Ingram’s online course, and supported by additional research into the Waldorf method of using rhythmic routines in the classroom. All opinions are genuine and solely my own.

Inspiration

Superhighway Brief #004:
Morning routines & the moon

September 4, 2015

Becoming a Morning Person