Friday, September 30, 2011

Lingering lunches.
Random wafts of conversation.
Streams of light in an English tea room.
Fresh air and motorists.
These little moments may seem pedestrian but that's the beauty of it to me.
Today I will discover a bit more of what it is like to simply "be" in Gidea Park (Romford).
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I wish you were here.
There's a low rumble of the organ;
The hum of tourists off in the distance.
Here, I am nestled in a corner of the prayer chapel at St. Paul's Cathedral ...
Feeling the cold stone pillar on one side
And warm wood to the other,
I'm cushioned in a respectful silence.
It is peaceful here.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Gentle spirits. Vibrant spirits. Generous spirits. When they all combine, I have to say that the celebrations are sweet!  Truly, my life doesn't hold enough of these.  I'm used to the work side of life, but I'm not used to doing much more than coming up for air until the end of a project.

Thinking through the few number of days we spent together, it's surprising how much room there was for celebrations with each other.  We worked hard. We had tea. We celebrated our project, each other and even  birthdays. No one was a taskmaster. We breathed, laughed, shared, collaborated, overcame, and built together.

I could go on and on about the people involved ... and I find it hard to accurately express what my heart has felt ... but it was quite amazing to me.  The pace, the productivity, the peace, the people.  To see it culminate together and be part of it all is a rather overwhelming honor.

This is part of what I need to bring back with me when I go home.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Abandoned Spaces ... KEEP OUT

I woke this morning thinking about the different direction Imogen's song has taken (spoken word, garden perspective personified, gathering into anger) with an overwhelming realization ... that's what happened to me!

Imagining a personified garden being confused when people dwindled, frustrated by its own efforts going nowhere, wondering why all the good things it once knew were so far away, not able to see the "keep out" signs someone else placed on its walls ... I saw the same struggle in myself with the "married years" (and even still struggling deeply with some of the effects).

Tears came then.
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recording for Immi

Today was extra special ... not only did we hear an update on "heapsong3" from Immi, but we recorded some things as well! I guess technically, one can say that my recording hiatus is over.  I have one line ("I'm forbidden.") in the midst of many lines, plus screaming, groaning, vowels, hushes and whispers with the group.  HA!  It will be interesting to see what is used in the piece!

Of course, like many things, it is being filmed.  Of course, I'd always rather be behind a camera than in front of it unless there's a good reason.  This?  It's a good reason, but still rather uncomfortable ... especially since there is NO chance to even try and improve one's appearance when sweaty and dirty in the midst of garden restoration!

If you'd like to share in some of the real time experience, I took a few video clips with my tiny camera (not quality - just good memories):

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Saturday, September 24, 2011


We were challenged in one “circle time” (when the group gathers in a circle to learn and discuss) to recall something we noticed … but not just on the surface.  Noticing to the point of thinking or studying or delving into some aspect of it deeper.

I didn’t share with the group at the time because the conversations seemed to spiral into plans of the day … but what I was thinking about was the patterns in nature.  Just earlier, I was contemplating the balanced growth of the trees we were clearing and cleaning with branches sprouting opposite in one way and then the next pair up at 90 degrees. As I sat there, I thought about the thin-leafed swirls in a flowering plant, the thorns on some of the vines, the buds of the berries, the patterns of leaves, even the interesting elements of the weeds we pulled … all different, all very patterned, and all with specific purposes. 

It made me wonder if we could learn from them.  What makes the tree strong?  Could it be applied to life principles?  How about the need for protection?  What do the swirls do?  Are some things in existence simply for the joy of aesthetics? I’m sure all is valid … but I have a sneaking suspicion that if we could know every reason for every element, there would be a purpose to it that goes beyond beauty.

But before my thoughts ramble too long, I should also try and remember a few other “noticings.” One was a personal shift today.  Until this afternoon, I felt a little like I didn’t have much to offer other than my help (not that it isn’t significant, but I’m not an expert in permaculture, etc.).  Then, this afternoon as we split up into design teams to generate some ideas for the structure to protect the garden plantings, I started to have ideas.
IDEAS! It felt good to have ideas – ones that were not in context of job or family or personal goals.  Every team was strong and had good ideas.  But contributing to a design team that ended up receiving the most stones (votes) was truly exciting.  HOWEVER – I don’t say that in a way to make it sound like we did anything extra special.  Truly, some designs were so similar that they could have been easily merged.  And each design has great strengths that we may find to be more relevant as the actual project starts.  BUT – coming from a relatively dry place (or so it seems to me sometimes), I felt a little like those who dream again.  I started to feel alive!  IDEAS! Good ideas. They make me smile.

But before I wrap it up completely, there’s one other significant “noticing” that plays into the picture.  As we worked in the days and hours before, it was quite an unusual feeling to be away from normal life (i.e. rushing from one thing to the next, in front of computers, in meetings, in cars, always over capacity).  Even the sound of spades and forks and rakes in the dirt was like meditation.  Birds calling in the forests, male deer calling in the fields, branches and stems brushing together, footsteps in the dirt … all brought an organic peace that quietly seemed to reassure my soul without me even knowing it.  It’s a lovely feeling.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Alan meditating (I assumed) on site.
While the day was huge … my first work day, meeting (and kissing) the English and those from many other counties, sitting by Imogen, and just being around so many life-giving people … the overriding thought of the day was that of being vessels.

Alan, a practicing Buddhist from the San Francisco Bay area, was sharing about how he viewed relationships as being vessels for one another … and in one context, vessels that could hold the hurt and help the other heal.  In one case, a friend shared something that was too much for him to hold, and what made an impression upon me is that he recognized it, communicated that capacity to her, and was able to gracefully support her within clear boundaries.

Maybe that sounds like a bunch of words, but for me it’s quite significant.  I’ve had a challenge with boundaries.  And people close to me have challenges as well (some with running over boundaries and others with over extending their own).

I like thinking of boundaries as vessels, actually.  There’s a capacity, a limit, a boundary within a vessel.  It’s clear how much a vessel can hold.  It’s usually not clear to me how much I can hold.  I feel like I never do enough.  Others say I do too much.  And when I do recognize that I am overwhelmed, I feel guilty.  I think I’m going to challenge myself to carve out my vessel.  But not just to know it well, I want to know its purpose.  I want those kinds of limits that promote a healthy perspective that feeds my own spirit, soul and body as well.  One that isn’t overwhelmed, one that can give, one that can hold, and one that can heal.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Dream Again

Karsten holds the "pub spoon" (not sure
what it's really called - but it's what you
get when you place your order for food
up at the bar and then they come find
the spoon at the table when your
food is ready).
Tonight I met my first friends from the Garden Angels team after I got to the hotel and joined them for supper (my first English Pub – The Ship).  There were four countries around the table: Sovakia (Andrea), England (Karsten - via Germany), Scotland (Colin) and the USA (Alan - California and, of course, Me - Oklahoma).

Karsten works for Clear Village and is the project manager of the whole garden project.  I was asking about the work they do, and the answers I received started making me think!

What do you do when you go into a place that has lost hope?  Help its people dream again.

What is the key? Trust. 

When they still can’t dream, what do you do?  Have them share their stories … memories about neighbors, children, their own childhood, relatives, etc.  And as I listened to him describe how it has worked, it seems that through the very simple action of sharing stories their dreams were jump started again.

Trust … Dream … Stories … Dreams.  I see the connections.  And I know there is much more to glean when I have time to dig beneath the surface and meditate on some of these things.  But I see the power of these two things:  Stories and Trust. 

It makes me want two things:  1) to experience this for myself; and 2) to bring this to others.  Of course, I see it so easily in light of Girl Scouts.  As we move forward, it’s almost as a sluggish giant that has forgotten how to dream.  But when we hear those stories about Girl Scouting, we are revived.  We dream again.  And trust? WOW. It’s huge.  And after years of constant change (even in my short time on staff), I can see how the trust factor is essential to dreams being unleashed once again. 

Simple. Powerful.

Stories + Trust = Dreams

Monday, September 05, 2011

Celebrating 19 Means 20 Has Launched

Today he is REALLY 19 ... well, in all actuality, he has completed 19 years on this planet and is STARTING 20! It's hard to believe the little guy who surprised me into motherhood is an adult, much less a father as well!

I say surprised because babies weren't being pursued as a goal on the horizon. There was an expectation of 3-5 years of marriage first.  I experienced a little over a year of marriage.  Then ... MOTHER FOREVER.  Some of the journey so far has been amazing, some excruciating, some entertaining, some exhausting, and all of it an adventure one way or another!

So in light of life and change and miracles ... here's to more!  Happy Birthday, Jeremy!!!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Imogen Adventures

For the primary benefit of my dad who got a little update from Facebook (but I haven't been very diligent to chronicle everything) ... here's a recap of my Imogen Heap Adventures so far:

Andy (left) is the designer doing the digital CD artwork. During a video stream (daily during the project), they highlighted one of mine (shown above).  It didn't make it into the top selection out of the thousands of submissions, but it (and I) DID get mentioned in the broadcast!

However ... eight (YES - 8!) of my images made it into Andy's favorites for the CD artwork.

Most proudly, one of my images made it on the first inside page of the CD art ... and was very significant because of the "Welcome In A Heartbeat" lyrics because Aiden (my GRANDSON - yes, GRANDSON) was born then.

I'm in the credits! ... but not just for photos, for VIDEOS!

During another livestream, Imogen talked about seeing a clip of a sunflower swaying in the breeze and how it reminded her of her mother (a favorite photo of her smiling in a field of sunflowers).  Guess who had the only sunflower video?  ME! She described a concept for the video involving a sunflower video projected on her back ... but another video of several yellow wildflowers flowers was also submitted, which is the one easiest to pick out in the final video.  I think the one below is mine with the grasses mostly reflecting in reverse on her face.  ANYWAY, even though it's hard to tell, I know they chose both video clips that I shared (which is a surprise since I don't have any good video equipment)!  How do I know?  I received a check!  YAY!

And I KNOW this is mine ... it's a time lapse sunset on Mount Scott.

Next project ... I have two images chosen!  No live broadcasts to boast about, but having more images chosen was AWESOME.  There were no video submissions or sound submission, so the opportunities were smaller.  VERY happy to have TWO chosen!  Mine above is the branch/ornament/people behind the bubble. And below is the party scene superimposed on the trees. Of course, being in the credits again is superb!

So there's the recap ... other than I was invited to Imogen Heap's house (near London) for the first launch party.  I ALMOST went.  But I just couldn't justify it with the impact on family.  So, I've got a standing invite to join her at a concert of my choice - tickets and backstage access and a little time together.  WOOHOO!  My favorite thing, however, is getting a personal thank you from Imogen mailed to me.  TRULY love those special things.

How slow do you want the fire to burn?

  Just a little over a year ago, I had an urge to set up my special writing place. One person I wanted to tell was my aunt because I had bee...