Saturday, December 29, 2007

Healing Art Dolls (and other inspirations)

Over at our 14 secrets group a few of us are falling victim to the ice and really hurting ourselves! So Lore got the idea for a healing doll swap! Excellent idea.

So here are some links and ideas to consider when you create your healing art doll:

Pamela Hastings does transformative art doll workshops and has a great book on the subject. I really liked this book and not just because I have a chapter in it.

Barb Kobe has a lot of information on her website for healing art dolls. Lots of inspiration.

Want to read more? Please visit the 14 Secrets Blogspot.

And now for some other inspiration:

Hungryghosts*r*us always has some interesting links and ideas.

Have you visited Inspire Me Thursday lately? A new challenge every Thursday and check out their links page. Fantastic links!

And Illustration Friday has an illustration challenge ever Friday.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Prospero's Guide to a Happy Life

I hope we are all having fun! I know the season can be difficult for all kinds of reasons, so I like to watch Prospero, one of the Bergamasco Boys. He teaches me so much about living in this moment and having fun every day, even when there are holiday pressures and expectations.

Every morning he gets up and throws him self on the ground, greeting mother earth as best he can. Then we all pile into the car and drive up to the Prospect High Head trail starts. Lately we've had snow and ice on the trail and that adds such delight to Prospero's greeting the ground. He loves to get the sparkles worked right into his dreadlocks. While Bruzzi (the other Bergamasco Boy) worries about whether I brought enough treats and whether the ice might not be too cold for his feet, Prospero races around, grabbing sticks to distract Bruzzi with, always trying to engage him to play and be happy. What a delight! So this is my Holiday Wish for you, that you might find some very simple joys like Prospero's this season and in the new year, and that you might share them with others!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Links and Inspiration

Collage by Lani

As the days in December seem to speed up, and as all the advertising on the radio, tv, newspaper, and even my inbox becomes more intense(buy this now, right away, quick, your last chance, are you sure you have gotten everything for everyone on your list, why not get this just for you, you deserve it), and of course as we all become more tense and as blood pressure rises - I feel the need to oppose, to say whoa, stop, let's just light a candle and breathe. I'm going to dig out "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens and read it next to our wood burning stove, with the candles lit. Maybe I'll bake cookies, maybe plumb pudding, meanwhile I have some links and inspiration here for all of us!

14 Secrets Blogspot has some delightful material, stress reducing ideas from Gioia and poetry from Carol.

Hungryghosts*r*us also has some lovely treasure.

Do you want to inspire your daily drawing habit? Try these links:

Inspiring daily drawings by Elizabeth Perry.

Danny Gregory says "All I Really Need To Know I Learned From Drawing." He has a lot of great articles on his website, another one being "book binding 101" and he has a great links list.

Inspiring travel art journaling. Beautiful things here.

Do you know Krisoferstrom's drawings? What fun!

Then for a shot of simplicity and frugality don't forget:
You will find an article on de-cluttering the mind and gift suggestions from readers that will help us improve our lives, that don't cost a whole lot ($20-under gifts would be good, but $10-under is even better).

Is time management an issue for you this season? Here's a free eBook:

Binaural sounds can help you focus, help you reduce stress, help you live a happier life, and much more. And Holosync has a free demo for you.

Do you like story telling? Here are two NPR links for you. Delightful!
NPR's Story Corps

And NPR's This I believe:

And finally, do you know Learning Strategies? They are offering a very sweet package of guided meditations live, a kind of Tele-class with six different teachers on six different days, and a brand new book from Marci Shimoff, Happy For No Reason, all for $28. I know this sounds like an advertisement but you know I would have bought the book by itself and now there's all these guided meditations to go with it! Care to join me?
* * *

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Creative Commons

Collage by Lani
Do you know the Creative Commons? Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." Personally I really like the whole creative commons approach, taking into account that ideas are like living things that can and should grow and change and be improved on.

It's like the old common land in the center of a village where you could take your sheep to feed them on the common grass. I like that image. I would love to be a part of such sharing, so from now on any material here will be part of the village grazing land, the Creative Commons. If you want to borrow some sheep or ideas or images, just give me credit AND let me know what these ideas do for you, where they take you.

So here's an example. Gioia sent the 14 Secrets folks an email full of great relaxation techniques. I take them and add images for a zine or slide show on our blog. You look at it, get some ideas and try them out too, perhaps with a group of people. You might put them on index cards, add images to the other side, making sure that images make you smile, and create a little endorphin activity in your brain!
Like art seeds being spread, ideas can be shared generously.

Edward's poppies.

Relaxation Techniques and Ideas from Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC
Take a Pause: (about ten seconds)

* Identify anything that is presently annoying you.

* Tell yourself, "I don't have to become too tense over this."

* Take two easy deep breaths (counting from 1 to 4 as you
inhale and exhale).

* Ease any tense spot quickly, to the best of your ability.

* Stretch and resume your activity.


Maida, B.J. (n.d.) Short Relaxation Exercises handout, McLean, VA:
Family Counseling Center

For more of these exercises please visit 14 Secrets Blogspot.

Adela sent in this Creative Commons search link where you can find Creative Commons-licensed media that you can legally share for free.

And for some sweet creative commons music here's a holiday gift from Creative Commons and Magnatune.

Create a stress free mood with the Magnatune Christmas Compilation, featuring over 60 minutes of the most timeless and classic carols of the season, by ten of Magnatune’s best-selling artists.

Magnatune is a forward-thinking record label and online music store that offers music for sale in every genre. Magnatune is leading the fair trade music movement, splitting profits equally with artists and letting artists retain the copyright to their own work.

Get the free holiday music here.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thoughts from my In-box

I got the most thought provoking emails in my in-box the past few days. From Tricycle I got a Joseph Goldstein quote:
It is essential that our understanding be translated into practice, not with an idealistic vision that we suddenly will become totally loving and compassionate, but with a willingness to be just who we are and to start from there. Then our practice is grounded in the reality of our experience, rather than based on some expectation of how we should be.
- Joseph Goldstein
The quote went on a bit but that piece jumped out at me. Don't we usually focus on our idealistic vision and then struggle to get there, never quite making, always a little disappointed in ourselves? I like this idea of starting with what you have and who you are. Sometimes we are so caught up in the idealistic vision we may not even know what we have or who we are.

And then there was this Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Nipun Menta:
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back -- it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined.
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Good image, dancing to Mozart, no clutching or clinging, just lightness of touch and living in the moment. (Good music helps.)

And if you click on a link to learn more about Nipun Menta this is what you find:
A time comes when life's invitation to explode into the stillness of a new dimension becomes irresistable. You close your eyes, jump head-first into the abyss of the unknown and voila! You land safely in the cradle of the inner-net.

My life is an attempt to bring smiles in the world and silence in my heart. I want to live simply, love purely, and give fearlessly. That's me, Nipun Mehta.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Discussion of the 9th Secret

collage by Lani

Over at the 14 Secrets Blogspot, we are discussing the 9th secret. Here's my explanation for the secret plus Danny Gregory's ideas about creating time for drawing, which of course you could use to create time for your own art making of all kinds.

I created this secret "Create Time" based on two ideas. One idea is that we never have enough time. You know the mantra, "oh, I'm so busy, I can't even think..." or "if only I had the time." The pace of life seems to be getting quite overwhelming, and it's much easier to be too busy than it is actually to create time for yourself. The second idea or discovery was that time seems to expand when you are in the artistic moment, when you are in "flow." It can be 20 minutes or an hour and 20 minutes, if you are in that artistic "flow" experience it feels as though you are literally creating time. At the end of the experience you can have a real feeling of having been to a magic, life-giving well, completely restored, and refreshed.

“But I don’t have time to draw...”
Draw lunch as you eat it : 1 drawing
Draw the news as you watch it: 4 drawings
Skip 1 sitcom: 3 drawings
Skip 1 basketball game: 11 drawings
Overtime: 2 drawings
Draw in the locker room at the gym: 2 drawings
Draw the coffeemaker while you wait for the coffee to perk: 1 drawing
Draw in line at the supermarket: 1 drawing
Stay up an extra 10 minutes: 1 drawing
Get up 10 minutes early: 1 drawing
Draw during commercials: 6 drawings per hour
Draw every time you smoke a cigarette: 1 drawing
Draw till the waiter brings dessert: 1 drawing
Draw in the tub: 1-2 (waterproof) drawings
Draw on the phone: 2 drawings
Draw during a pedicure: 2 drawings
Draw in the doctor’s/ dentist’s/ therapist’s waiting room: 1 drawing
Draw at the red light: 1 drawing
Get to work early, stay in the car: 1 drawing
Take the bus: 2 drawings
Draw while waiting for spouse to get ready: 2 drawings
Draw what you’re cooking while it cooks: 1 drawing
Draw on the john: 1 drawing

From a free downloadable PDF found on Danny Gregory's blog.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How I came to believe I was a hungry ghost.

This story is true, and it happened long ago and far away. As a child growing up in Taiwan, being called a ghost or demon was an everyday occurrence, for a kid with blond hair and pale eyes. It was a part of the life, heat, and color of my home. I didn't pay much attention to it until the day I came to believe it. (The rest of the story is here.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What matters most at the end of the day?

Hungry ghost collage by Lani.

I got some emails from Adela lately which were thought provoking and had great links to explore. I suspect that Adela is worried that the shallows of my soul may be greater than the depths. So in order to create a better balance, she sends me great things! Also she doesn't know why I like positive psychology. So I told her I'd try to put it in a blog.

One thing she sent was this interesting observation from Michael Neill's blog.
"...the true value of self-esteem is not in how good we feel about ourselves, but in what that good feeling allows us to do in the world."

Adela played with the thought a bit added this:
"Carried forward, the true value of feeling good is not that it's move comfortable, physiologically, but in what the pleasanter physiological state enables us to contribute to those whose lives we currently touch...and widen the circle."

And of course she may not know this but that is EXACTLY what I like about studying positive psychology. You get to read about and play with all of these endorphin releasing ideas, I turn them into art based exercises and release even more endorphins, and I can feel good, more comfortable, more connected to my inner artist, and just all around happier which of course enables me to contribute more to the lives or those who know me (hopefully).

Image:Okanagan Family Portrait.JPg From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In “Keepers of the Earth” the concluding chapter from Roszak, Gomes, and Kanner’s Ecopsychology; Restoring the earth, healing the mind,Okanagan author and educator, Jeannette Armstrong, describes the Okanagan language as being a language of connections which uses syllables to animate descriptions of activity. These syllables are combined to develop meanings that are close to what might constitute a noun or a verb in English, but livelier, more subtle and dependent on context, a language of connections. (A language of connections... I love that!)

It's not just the language that is about connections, everything is viewed in terms of connections. The emotional aspect of the self, or “heart” is thought of as the part with which we link to other beings around us. It is through the heart that we are able to bond and form attachments. Jeannette says that we stay connected to each other, our land, and all things by our hearts, that emotion or feeling is the capacity whereby community and land become part of us. This connection is a priority for Okanagan wholeness and well-being. She says the Okanagan criterion for leadership is that the individual with the widest circle of connection, with the greatest heart, able to bond easily with each other, the land, and all things. She sees the creative spirit and the arts as a celebration and affirmation of this connectedness.

When I read Jeannette’s words, it feels like receiving an amazing gift. While paying close attention to language differences, Okanagan descriptive syllables and English nouns and verbs, suddenly I find myself seeing my own culture, that one that is so fond of deconstruction, disconnection, and dissociation, from an Okanagan perspective. This view of mainstream North American culture is from a place outside but close enough to make sense, to resonate as true. In stepping right outside of our world view and looking through the eyes of the other, we can create a greater spaciousness for ourselves. In this spaciousness we can find knew meaning and possibilities, we can experiment, and we find hope.

There is so much in our mainstream North American culture which separates us from each other, which cuts us off from the land and teaches us that we are completely and utterly alone, and this isolation creates despair and loneliness. Our culture teaches us that the only way to assuage this loneliness and despair is to consume something to forget ourselves; another pill, drug, or opportunity for further debt. Adela sent me the article "Is Our Worship of Consumerism and Technology Making Us Depressed?" By Bruce E. Levine, Chelsea Green Publishing

In this article Levine imagines what Buddha, Spinoza and Jesus might have to say about our sorrows. He also reminds us of Eric Fromm's final work, To Have or to Be? (1976), in which Fromm contrasts the depressing impact of a modern consumer culture built on the having mode (greed, acquisition, possession, aggressiveness, control, deception, and alienation from one's authentic self, others, and the natural world) versus the joyful being mode (the act of loving, sharing, and discovering, and being authentic and connected to one's self, others, and the natural world).

Thank you Adela, that's exactly what we need, more Okanagan connections and more of Fromm's "joyful being" mode. To have or to be? Oh, please, please, please may I be??? I can't wait to revisit Fromm and for my first dip into his ideas, I can follow the link Adela kindly provided.

One last thing Adela sent was links to the hysterically funny Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. Do you know Rev. Billy, a character developed by performance artist Bill Talen?

You can read all about him and his activities on his website and also read about him on the Art Heals website.

So what is it that really matters most at the end of the day? Dr. Ira Byock (authority in pallieative care), has made a study of just this. As a man is being wheeled into transplant surgery or a woman is facing chemotherapy for the third time, what is on his or her mind? Byock says that it is always something to do with the people they love that occupies their minds. Always.

He says the specter of death reveals our relationships to be our most precious possessions. Having met people in his office, emergency rooms, or hospice programs, he has noticed that there is often a deep regret over things they wish they had said before a family member or friend died. They can’t change what happened, but "without fail their regrets have fueled a healthy resolve to say what needs to be said before it’s too late – to clear away hurt feelings, to connect in profound ways with the people who mean the most to them."

How can we do that? Byock says that there are four simple phrases which may help, "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you." These simple phrases "offer a powerful way to mend even our most troubled relationships and to nurture our cherished connections to the people we love. There is a transformative potential in saying the four things." You can read more of Byock's work here and here.

So in a further attempt to move from the shallows of my soul to greater depths, to move from the despair of the modern consumer to the "joyful being" mode of the creator and collaborator and community builder I have joined jaihn in creating a blog of the hungry ghosts where all this and more can be poured over. Curious? Come have a look!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An art challenge!

Collage with eBay tintype by Lani

In honor of yesterday, Buy Nothing Day, I vow to buy less stuff, and if I must buy stuff I hope it will be consciously, making as light a footprint on our poor planet as possible. From now on, when I acquire some art supplies or eBay treasure. I will alter it immediately so that it can help me move from the realm of Acquisitive Addictions and to uncover the joy of Creative Contentments. This is partially jaihn's instigation and nearly all her language.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Do you know Storypeople?

Lore sent this one (Storypeople will send you Brian Andreas' wise words and images every day if you want).

Here's the Story of the Day:
Successful Holiday
Rules for a successful holiday: 1. Get together with the family 2. Relive old times 3. Get out before it blows

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More Links and Inspiration on this US Thanksgiving.

Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.
--Pueblo Blessing

Though my soul may set in darkness,
It will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night.
--Sarah Williams

It's Thanksgiving in the States, and tomorrow is the start of the wild, crazy, consumerist, give-me-all-your-money-right-now nightmare that used to be my favorite time of year! I'm looking for ways to take it back, to recreate generosity, joy, and light in the season. So be warned, blogging may contain gingerbread and plumb pudding recipes!

(And remember tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day!)

I was poking around on jaihn's bookshelf (an EXTREMELY cool thing to do) and found John Lane's "The Spirit of Silence: Making Space for Creativity." Intrigued by the title, I went to Amazon and took a look inside. The table of contents lists chapters like Spiritual Space, Staying Quietly in One's Room (the creative use of silence), The Enemies of Silence (this chapter talks about the exaggerated importance of money and the myth of consumption among other things), Tools for Re-enchantment (The art of the commonplace), Just Live Right (about living in the midst of turmoil)

So I read what Resurgence writer Ian Skelly had to say about The Spirit of Silence.

What Lane argues for, rightly, is the restoration of a deep-seated sense of wellbeing. We should live in the moment rather than through it to take stock of what the moment holds. He suggests as a starting point “ the observation of sunlight on a blade of grass, the sight of a beetle crawling across a leaf; the worship of the day’s most commonplace events” . Beautiful images mirroring Blake’s precise advice to see “ a world in a grain of sand…eternity in an hour”, for it is there.

Lovely! I want to order this book right now, but in honor of buy nothing day I'll restrain myself.

From Resurgence I went to Care2 because they had 14 ways to refresh your life based on John Lane's "Spirit of Silence."

Refreshing Your Life - 14 Ways

"Many of us enjoy leisure, comfort and affluence, but have yet to find a way of discovering a life characterized by deep-seated well-being. Instead our lives are often marked by a void at their centers."

So here are their 14 SIMPLE SOLUTIONS to refresh your life:

1. Pay more attention to The Art of the Commonplace.

2. Give yourself more time for Creativity.

3. Don't forget to entertain Gratitude and Praise.

4. Explore the Healing Power of Nature.

5. Rediscover the Importance of Relationship.

6. Live in the Moment.

7. Spend time Looking for the Beautiful.

8. Consider the benefit's of the Meditative Approach.

9. Learn about Negative Capability (This is Keat's idea about being in uncertainty, Mystery, doubt "without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.") first hand.

10. Treat everything and everyone in your life with Reverence.

11. Don't forget the value of Seeing.

12. Explore the comfort of Simplicity.

13. Explore your world by Walking.

14. Celebrate the Virtues of Silence and Solitude.

From there I went over to New Dream and took a look at their Kids & Commercialism section. They have a lot of free inspiring downloads for parents (and really they are for anyone but I guess parents have the most stressful time during season.) New Dream is all about reducing stress and increasing personal fulfillment.

Here are some of their very lovely, generous, non-commercial gift ideas:

1: The makings for hand puppets: Brown lunch bags (or wild colored socks), googly eyes, stray buttons, scissors, markers, etc.

2: Box of dress up clothes: Old dresses, high heel shoes, cowboy boots, collared shorts, and millions of other fun outfit ideas can all be found at thrift or second-hand stores have great selections. (Here we have Frenchy's. I'd give kids a gift certificate for a trip to Frenchy's. Did this with a nephew, and it is a blast!)

3: Jewelry kit: All you need is string, beads, and metal clasps.

4: Upside-Down Day: Let kids set the day’s agenda (with parental supervision). Take off your watch, wear pajamas under your coat to the movies, eat dessert for breakfast, the list is endless when kid’s creativity is in control.

5: Homemade Bird Feeder Kit: Give your kids a big box of edible decorations (peanut butter, seeds, fruit, nuts, etc.) and some string and jars that they can use to build their own birdfeeders for the yard or balcony.

6: Teach a child to knit: Granted, you yourself must first know the tricks of the trade, but buying needles and yarn and spending the time to teach it can be a great way to spend time together and save on buying a scarf for the winter.

7: Write and illustrate a story with the child as the main character.

8: Booklet of your favorite memories: Write or type up your favorite memories of/with someone and lay it out in a book or on a page.

9: Personalized cookbook: This is a great way to pass along some of your favorite dishes, especially during a time of year when family gatherings mean lots of good meals.

10: Set up a monthly lunch date or phone call: Perfect for elderly friends or relatives.

11: Monthly care basket: Works really well for those who spend most of the year in separate places. Over the holidays send them their first basket of muffins or banana bread for January, and then each month of the year send something new to go with the theme of that month.

12: Gift of art: For grandparents, a framed picture drawn by a grandchild is the perfect present.

13: Make your own cards and send them to relatives and good friends.

14: Make your own calendar using cut-out pictures, photos, and/or drawings.

15: Special activities with a significant other--a candlelit dinner, massage, or outdoor activity.

16: A monthly lunch date with an elderly relative or friend.

17: Gift certificates: Dinner and a movie, a home-cooked meal, a car wash, a day of babysitting, etc.

18: Reconnect with someone: Call an estranged friend or write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a few years.

19: Shovel snow for a someone, even if you remain anonymous, it will make their holiday season.

20: A jigsaw puzzle for the whole family.

21: Set up a family tournament in your favorite card game whether it is Gin Rummy, Hearts, Spades, War, Go Fish, Twenty-One, Speed, Spit, Uno, etc.

22: Tickets to a favorite cultural or sporting event

23: A family hike, game of capture the flag, tag, or hide-and-go-seek.

24: Buy renewable energy credits: Credits help offset the environmental costs of our energy needs by funding renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, elsewhere on the grid.

25: Take a friend off of junk mail lists: Generate automatic forms with your recipient’s name and address at Do Not Junk site to reduce unwanted mail by 50 percent. Present the forms in stamped, addressed envelopes ready to sign and mail.

26: Assemble a Turn the Tide gift basket with compact fluorescent light bulbs, forms for getting rid of junk mail, delicious recipes and a note about how the recipients can log on to and see exactly how much of a positive impact they're having on the environment.

27: Buy a potted Christmas tree and replant after the holidays. (You can also have a tree planted elsewhere in someone's honor through American Forests.)

28: Instead of new wrapping paper, reuse old paper—the Sunday comics section, old maps, decorated brown grocery bags, or a colorful piece of material.

29: Alternative Gifts International offers a wide array of global gifts that can be given in the name of your friend or relative. Their partner organizations include 33 projects such as Fuel Efficient Stoves in El Salvador, Conquering Tuberculosis in North Korea, Literacy Training in Senegal, Land Mine Awareness in Vietnam or Organic Gardening in Belize. Contact Alternative Gifts at 1-800-842-2243, P.O Box 2267, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356. Free catalog from or

30: Give a donation to a local cause such as a soup kitchen, a shelter for battered women, a local environment group, etc. Call local churches, synagogues, and charitable organizations for ideas.

31: Give a friend a membership to a non-profit organization. allows you to donate online to thousands of charities.

32: Re-gift: Although many times the idea is misconstrued to be taken as a way to get rid of your junk, when done right it can serve as a great way to save your money, and the earth’s resources. When you re-gift, it makes it possible for that lonely blue sweater that you always try on, but that never looks quite right to become your friends second-date-brings-out-her-blue-eyes sweater.

33: Share a love of reading: Give away the last great book you bought and enjoyed to someone who shares your taste.

34: Shop thrift stores in your area or online: This serves as a large scale version of re-gifting where the options are endless. You’ll be amazed at what folks are giving away free or selling for almost nothing.

35: Cookie Swaps: Everyone loves cookies, but who really enjoys the giant, goopy mess of mixing a gazillion different kinds? Instead, bake in bulk and share. Invite a group of 6 friends over who each make six dozen of the same kind of cookie, and each can go home with a dozen of each kind.

36: Name Drawing: Instead of making or buying gifts for all your nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, half-brothers, etc. try a name drawing. Place the names of everyone in a hat and have each person pick a person to give or send a gift to (If someone isn’t there you can pick a name on their behalf). This saves everyone the time, effort, and money of trying to find presents for everyone in the family and instead allows you to focus on doing/making/getting something for just one person.

37: Secret Gifter: To throw a little twist into the Name Drawing you can make it secretive and do lots of little things or give lots of small gifts to your person for a week and then on the last day, with the last gift, you reveal your identity. The secret name drawing is great for groups of friends or family that you see on a regular basis and who live in your area.

38: Dutch Auction: In the Dutch auction everyone shows up with one wrapped gift. You lay all the presents out on the table and then pick numbers from a hat. Number 1 starts by picking a present to open. Once everyone sees what is inside it is Number 2’s turn. Number 2 can either steal the present from Number 1 or pick to open a present from the table. If they take Number 1’s gift, then Number 1 gets to pick from the table again. This goes on with each successive person getting the option to either pick from the table or steal any of the already opened gifts. For example, Number 9 can take the presents of Numbers 1-8 or can pick a new one. There is one final rule. A present can only be stolen once, so once Number 6 takes Number 4’s present, nobody that goes after Number 6 can steal Number 6’s present.

39: Alternative gift fairs offer a chance to channel some of your holiday gift dollars to good causes, while sharing a little goodwill with others in your community. If, however, you missed the fair in your area, don’t despair. Online options abound.

Isn't that great?

Finally Lore reminded my of Sarah Fishborn's blog. Lots of lovely ideas and things to look at there. She even has free downloads from old children's books.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Links and Inspiration

Collage by Lani

My buddy jaihn sent me this wonderful link to an amazing bookbinder/paper maker, Joanne Kaar. She's got such inspiring images and ideas for everyone, but I loved all of the Taiwan images. Simple stone carvings of Puli! Do take a look.

And do you know Granny D? (HBO did a documentary which youtube has clips from) There's no moss growing on Granny D. And she certainly doesn't believe that grannies can be seen but not heard! The things she has to say...

This showed up in my inbox today:

The Greatest Danger Before You, Granny D
In the end -- and it will end -- your life will seem to have sped by like a fleeting dream. Much of your story will be the age-old but ever joyful human experience: romance, family, satisfying work, and happy completion. I wish you a great fountain of successes. You will also be provided with all the failures and tragedies necessary to deepen and widen your soul -- sufficient, I hope, to make you wise and forgiving of all human frailties. I pray that these necessary troubles will never long crush your optimism nor your love for this magical life.
The greatest danger before you is this: you live in an age when people would package and standardize your life for you -- steal it from you and sell it back to you at a price. That price is very high.
You have already been selected for this program. You have its credit cards and designer labels already expensively around you. In the months ahead, you will find yourselves working long hours, too exhausted for community life or even good friendships -- too compromised to take a stand against the abuses of the system you serve. A great treadmill has been devised for you, and its operators do not care much if it wears you out or kills you. A system is in place to steal your life from you, if you will let it. Don't let it.
Read, study, meditate and think for yourself. Let your most serious education now commence, if it has not already done so. Refine and hold your own values, and pay the high price necessary to live those values. Decide what is important to you, and hold your ground against all temptations and tortures. From the pink granite of your own values, build a fortress against the world's ethical compromises, or you will soon be among those dead of eye who stand next to you in elevators but who are not alive. Don't let them steal your life. This is the only warning you will receive.
--Granny D
“We have a duty to look after each other. If we lose control of our government, then we lose our ability to disperse justice and human kindness. Our first priority today, then, is to defeat utterly those forces of greed and corruption that have come between us and our self-governance.”

-- Doris “Granny D.” Haddock

My Artella buddy, Glenda Miles, sent me the link for a new SuziBluTube video.

So watch the video with your Muse, have some tea and sparkles, and then figure out how to grow up to be like Granny D! Make sure to be seen and heard today! Why not?

Between cod pieces and clean-up...

Collage by Lani.
So I've been a little quiet here between the clean up after the non-hurricane Noel, the Prospect Players new production, Death in Character, and my little ebay adventures in greed and covetousness. The Prospect Players are working on a little comedic mystery involving a theatrical troupe. The biggest challenges for me (so far) were creating my lovely Henry the V codpieces. Wikipedia defines codpiece this way (thank you jaihn): A codpiece (Middle English codpece = cod 'bag, scrotum' + pece 'piece') is a flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of men's trousers to provide a covering for the genitals. It was held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. It was an important item of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries. Nice, eh? So first I tried a soft, plush bag/pouch thing.

But Henry the V was a pretty waring kind of guy, more likely to have a metallic covering. So here's codpiece 2. Then there was ebay. Whew. I fell in love with a little Burmese puppet and learned all about bidding wars and greed. I'm sure it's very bad for the character. Any way this happy little fellow will be popping up in various places, I have no doubt!
Then there's the art work that can be created with some things found on ebay...
Collage by Lani. (What a face, eh?)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We are still here...

photos by Edward

We just went through a non-hurricane called Noel which was worse in strength and damage than our Hurricane Juan which was bad!

So this is Michael's fishing stage before Noel and then again after...

Our morning walks are quite a challenge with new rocks and missing paths. And of course we carry plastic bags to pick up all the plastic bottles and junk that was left on the high water mark. What a lot of bottles! (I'm giving up bottled water, just using a Swiss metal bottle from Ideal Bite and refill as needed.)
More pictures here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No witch was actually harmed in the making of this slide show...

The witches fingers that appear in this slide show were actually short bread cookies from Brenda and Peter Hammond. They brought them over last night and they are now long gone... and they were really good!

Also the slide show used some background papers and images from Lisa Dozier of Digital of Scrapbook Artisan Guild, Katie Pertiet of and Christine G. of Clever Crow Design Studio. Christine is very generous with her freebies! And the link for Christine came from jaihn's blog so make sure you visit Truly Spacious for more Halloween fun!

Jan Bartlett sent me an ecard from Jaquie Lawson and I had to laugh out loud when I saw it. If you have cats and if they love to find and "play" with mice, this is the card for you!

You can preview her collection here.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things that go bump in the night...

Digital collage by Lani with text from a free download quote challenge by Pattie Knox of

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us. -Scottish prayer

Monday, October 22, 2007

Links and inspiration

Collage by Lani for a 14 Secrets tip-in.

So here are my newest finds gleaned while looking for answers to questions and exploring this virtual world!

Do you know Daniel Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness"? Here he is giving a 20 minute lecture on natural happiness vs. synthetic happiness, or happiness that comes from some external source vs. the happiness we can create ourselves. We are more able to create our own happiness than we think!

The Health Benefits of Altruism - How Giving Back is Good For You.

Green, sustainable choices for the shopping addicted!

Treasure Chest of Healing Stories from the Healing Story Allaince.

For a visually enjoyable explanation of Zen click here!

On her blog, Superhero Journal, Andrea Scher asked this question:
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
She has over 90 wonderful answers from all her readers.
When she read through these, several things came to mind:

"I'm not going to say What are you waiting for? or If not you, then who? or What's stopping you?

Unless of course, you'd like me to.

What I will say are a few things that struck me as I contemplated your comments this week:

There is nothing wrong with you if you don't realize these dreams.
You are still good.
You are still perfect.
You are still your superhero self.

The things that scare us are often what bring us the most joy."

Do you know "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds?

Do you know George Burns' "101 Healing Stories: Using Metaphors in Therapy?"

Or his "101 Healing Stories for Kids and Teens: Using Metaphors in Therapy?"

So what WOULD you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Simple pleasures to brighten your day...

Collaged image from Paperbag Studios

Simple Pleasures to Brighten Your Day from Zen Habits, a very interesting blog.

Every Thursday is Happiness Day on Zen Habits, so the Thursday blog is always something which will promote happiness.

A simple thing that Leo Babauta (the author of the blog) likes to do to make his days more pleasant is to find those little, ordinary pleasures and sprinkle them throughout his day.

So in the morning, he might have a cup of coffee, and sip it slowly to enjoy it fully while watching the sun come up, and marveling at the world in pastel hues.

For breakfast, he might put berries on his cereal, savoring each one, closing his eyes. These are all little things that don’t cost much, but they are deeply satisfying. He thought a list of simple pleasures that might spark ideas from readers. So here are a few of Leo Babauta's simple pleasures.

1. Berries.
2. Walking barefoot in grass.
3. Listening to good music in the car.
4. Taking a long, relaxing shower.
5. Coffee.
6. A good novel.
7. Popcorn and an old movie on DVD.
8. The smell of fresh-cut grass.
9. Watching the sunrise.
10. Walking on the beach.
11. Yoga or stretching or meditation.
12. Snuggling in bed with your partner.
13. Watching the sunset.
14. Hugging your child tightly.
15. Good wine.
16. Dark chocolate.
17. Dancing like you’re crazy.
18. A long conversation with a good friend.
19. Being lazy on a Sunday.
20. Waking to a clean house.
21. An uncluttered room.
22. Singing in the shower, loudly.
23. Dancing in the rain and stomping in puddles.
24. Watching your child play.
25. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
26. Helping someone in need.
27. Making someone smile.
28. A nature hike.
29. Watching the stars.
30. Making a sandcastle.
31. Floating in the water.
32. Taking an afternoon nap.
33. Serving your spouse a surprise breakfast in bed.
34. Watching your children on Christmas morning.
35. Looking up at clouds.
36. Watching the ocean.
37. Getting a massage.
38. Iced green tea.
39. Taking a hot bath.
40. Blowing bubbles.
41. A gentle breeze.
42. The smell of a new Moleskine notebook.
43. A fresh snow.
44. Swinging on a swing.
45. Watching animals in nature.
46. Staying up all night talking.
47. Having a picnic.
48. Swimming at night.

What would your simple pleasures be?

Southern Illinois University

"What is Important is Invisible" by Tim Liddy. (Paraphrasing the Little Prince "L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.")

Reflecting on another resilience and puppet-making workshop, and what a delightful group of students and professors! Carol Lark, Patricia "Gussie" Klorer, and Shelly Goebl-Parker were wonderfully welcoming. I got a tour of the campus and saw the library's collection of Louis Sullivan's architectural bits and pieces including an old elevator, learned about the art work of Tim Liddy, and found this wonderful bead store. Carol Lark took lots photos of the paper puppets that emerged from the workshop as well as well a wonderful pot luck dinner so here's the slide show.

If you want to read a student perspective see Kelly's blog.
For more of Carol Lark's photographs click here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"How to fall in love with the Earth again" happiness challenge!

Collages by Lani with Gioia's photos and some of Lani's in Wales.

Try this:
Find an area of earth that is without noticeable human intervention. This could be in a forest, in a corner of a park or urban garden. Create a gift for the earth, something beautiful, made by you with what ever you find at hand. Stones, sticks, grasses, moss... Make art or a fairy dwelling or a shrine or altar. This exercise works really well if you are a child, a child-at-heart, or you are accompanied by a child! Have fun.

For more blogs featuring environmental posts please see jaihn's blog which is FULL of inspiration today and Blog Action Day!

Friday, October 12, 2007


On my way to a talk and workshop at Southern Illinois University, I enjoy reflecting on the ideas of one of my favorite teachers.

True happiness comes from a sense
of peace and contentment,
which in turn must be achieved
through the cultivation of altruism,
of love and compassion...

Dalai Lama

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Video Blogging about Art Journaling!!!

This came from Nicole Brandstrup.

I ... thought the concept of video blogging was kinda cool. I enjoy seeing people's artistic processes. Now the star, Suzi blue, is a bit eccentric, but the concept and art is wonderful to view. She did have something on their about paper people, I could not get it to open. When I found this site I thought of the both of you. so here it is

I had to go check this out and I loved it. I love SuziBlueTube! And she's not all that eccentric, she's just North Jersey! What fun! She also has a blogspot and a website and a secret plan to get us following our bliss as boldly as possible. And how bad could that be? (Thank you Nicole!)

Trick or Treat; Digital Fun

Collage by Lani using scanned cabinet card, Obsidian Dawn's Photoshop brushes,
Katie Pertiet's "Halloween What Nots" at Designer Digitals, and Jess Gordon's freebie digital curled paper. What fun!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Puppets and storytelling

Liz Hartz, one of the 230 attendees at the BATA Symposium asked me about the story with which I generally start my (smaller) puppet making workshops. It's a Mohigan story from a Joseph Brushac collection. Liz asked if I could send her the story, so I did but thought I'd post it here as well. Joe Brushac has collected quite a few stories that are very inspiring and this one comes from a Mohigan story teller.

I generally introduce puppet-making with my story teller puppet who tells the story while 3 volunteer group participants act it out.
Sweet Orr the storyteller puppet.

The princess with her little puppet.

So here's the story:
Once upon a time there was a beautiful Mohigan princess who lived in a village by a river. What she liked to do most in the world was play in the woods and make dolls and puppets. One day she was playing (and there's always props when you tell a story this way) with a little puppet when along came a wise old woman, a magical wise old woman. They talked and became good friends. When it was time to part the little princess became quite sad. The wise old woman told her not to worry, that if she was ever in trouble, she could whisper to her little puppet and the wise old woman would hear her. And so they parted, vowing to stay friends forever.
The wise woman who has a few tricks up her sleeve.

The little princess went back to her village and the next day was a big feast day. Now the whole audience can be tribe members and we can all be eating our really wonderful feast. (Here I encourage group participation.) Then the smells of this feast waft through the forest where a monster lives. So the monster sneaks up to the edge of the forest and looks around. Yummy. He decides he wants to take someone home for dinner.
The monster and side kick which appears at the end of the story.

Now all puppets have special gifts and the monster was no exception. His special gift was this: when he sang everything fell asleep! So he opened his mouth really wide and the villagers all fell asleep. Then he went around and smelled everyone to see who he would take home with him. (The monster can actually go around and sniff everyone - kids love this) After smelling all the villagers he choses the princess of course. And then he takes her to his cave in the forest while she's still asleep and puts her under some deer skin, thinking he needs some greens with diner. So he goes out into the forest looking for greens.

The princess wakes up and finds herself in a difficult spot(you can ask the audience if they remember what she can do if she's ever in trouble)! Our princess remembers to whisper to her little puppet and magically the wise old woman appears. Yes, indeed, the wise woman agrees that the princess is in a really bad place so she says they must put the little puppet under the deer skins and mumble some magical words over it (mumble mumble) and then the puppet looks just like the princess. The real princess is a little worried about leaving her puppet but the wise old woman reminds her that she can make new ones as soon as she's safe in her village again. So off through the woods they go.

Then the monster comes back and discovers the puppet, which looks like the princess but sure doesn't smell right. And he goes out into the woods again and starts to track them by smell. The wise old woman has a few tricks up her sleeve though. She takes out a rock and throws it on the ground and mumbles more magic and it becomes a mountain range. But the monster smells his way right over the mountains. Then she takes out a branch and throws it on the ground and mumbles more magic and it becomes the densest forest anyone had ever seen. But the monster follows them right through that forest by their scent.

Now if someone follows you by your scent what can you do to throw them off your track? (I ask the participants and there will be lots of ideas and someone will always have the right one about water) So the wise old woman and the little princess come to the river's edge and the wise old woman pulls out a toy boat and mumbles magic words over it and it becomes a big boat and they sail down the river to the safety of the princess's village.

The Mohigan story ends here but I like to resolve things for the monster as well. So one day the princess is playing in the woods with a new puppet and along comes the monster. They have a conversation, and he confesses that he's so monstrous because he never had any friends. He never got socialized or learned about consequences (kids like it when you give the monster some of the problems they face) so it makes him a little monstrous. The little princess has just the thing for him! She teaches him to make puppets and dolls and the wise old woman comes along and they all play together happily ever after.

It seems like a really good way to introduce puppet making and various idea like "all puppets have special gifts" and "the most interesting stories have a problem that can get a little worse but then gets resolved by the characters' special gifts" and that "puppets don't have to do everything themselves," that working together with a wise elder can be a good thing.

Here are some links for paper puppets, shadow puppets, and narratives and folktales:
Lani's Paper Puppet People zine
"Owly Shadow Puppets - Lesson Plan
Professor D. L. Ashliman from the University of Pittsburgh has an amazing collection of stories, a wonderful resource.

And finally here's a slide show of pictures from the BATA symposium. These are paper puppets and the BATA altered book pages all interspersed. Thanks to Ellen, Gretchen, and Jennifer Schwartz Wright.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Peace Making ... Please

Using Obsidian Dawn brushes ~ thank you jaihn and of course generous Stephanie!

My friend Adela sent me this:

"for peace, joy and delight to prevail we each must first decide
it is no longer our obligation to dislike, oppose, despise, destroy
or teach any other sentient being a "lesson"."

This seems quite perfect to me, but not that easy. I've learned to constantly look for what I dislike, oppose, despise as well as who needs what "lesson" right now. But after my trip to Ohio, hearing and seeing evidence of political distress, fear, and polarization, I'm feeling a longing for peace-making. I'm weary of looking for what I oppose, dislike, or even despise.

So here's a quote that come into my inbox today from
If we want to be safe, we have to build safety. What do we build to be safe? Not a fortress, not bombs or airplanes...
Safety can be built with your way of looking, your way of smiling, with your way of walking. It can build confidence. Show the other person that you are truly not harmful, that he is safe in your presence, in the way you think, the way you breathe, smile, and walk. Everything you do is peaceful. So by expressing your peace, your compassion, the other person feels very safe. And when the other person feels safe, you are safe. Safety is not an individual matter.
A country cannot be safe if it doesn't do something to help other countries feel safe, too. We cannot just think of our own safety — because safety is not an individual matter. We have to think of the safety of other groups of people, of other nations, too. If the United States wants to have safety, then they have to take care of the safety of the people of other nations. If Great Britain wants safety, then people there have to think of the safety of other groups of people.
from — Thich Nhat Hanh in Friends on the Path: Living Spiritual Communities

I am so weary of things divided and torn apart, I'm going to make an effort to stand with those I might normally oppose, with those who are angry or fearful, with those who suffer, whether they are in Burma, the United States or right here in Nova Scotia. May all beings find peace, joy, and delight in their lives and on this planet.