Transition & Bigger Picture Blogs

_TMK2643If you’ve been following along the Bigger Picture Blogs community for the last little while, you might have noticed the core members have been going through some serious challenges behind the scenes. While we have tried to offer our same level of creative inspiration, deep community support, and encouragement, sometimes life really does get in the way. Sometimes, it hits harder than you think.

From a series of miscarriages, to postpartum depression, to other mental and physical health issues all tumbling down on top of our regular commitment to our families and life responsibilities, we’ve been wading through a long period of intense difficulty.

We were brought together by a shared passion for finding the bigger picture in smaller moments, for looking beyond the mundane to find the sacred and profound, for being able to keep sight of what really matters to us and those we love. We love the community and bonds of sisterhood we have formed. We have found profound inspiration in the wide and diverse participants who have joined us on this journey, and we remain forever changed by the life lessons we’ve learned along the way.

In keeping with what we have learned, however, we know that in order to love others, we must first love ourselves. In order to support others and encourage them with grace and graciousness, we must first extend ourselves a little grace. With this in mind, it has become clear that, as much as we love Bigger Picture Blogs and all it has brought with it and as sad this decision makes us, we need to focus on helping our core members heal from the incredible grief, sadness, anxiety, and pain they are currently experiencing. To do so, we must, regrettably, bring our activities at Bigger Picture Blogs to a close. It has not been an easy decision, but it is a necessary one, and we know our community would not benefit from us simply “going through the motions.” We hope our community understands this and knows how much gratitude for everything they have shared with us.

As one of Bigger Picture Blogs’s core members, this decision will bring about some changes on my own blog as well. I am still passionate as ever about living life with intention, so that spirit will remain in my words, especially in my more serious posts. But I’ll be switching up my posting schedule a little bit, so I would be grateful if you don’t mind hanging around while I try some things out and see what works. I’m still one of the core members of Communal Global, so that won’t change, but most likely I’ll be separating out photos for that series and my Coffee Chats, which will fall on a different day starting next week.

I don’t expect that you’ll see much change in content, just some shifts in what happens when. If you’d like to share with me any opinions about which kinds of posts are your favorites and what you’d like to see more or less of, please do let me know!

Thank you for your understanding, and…please pardon our dust as we work our way through this season of change.

And thank you to all who have participated in Bigger Picture Blogs, and who have made it the vibrant, flourishing, supportive and engaged community it has been. We are ever grateful for you!

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New Territory

Via Joie De Vivre (I think - not actually sure about the original source because tumblr's horrible for tracking that.)

Via Joie De Vivre (I think. Not actually sure about the original source because tumblr’s horrible for tracking that. I’m not even convinced this is a precise quote from HH Dalai Lama.)

I came across this image pinned on Pinterest and felt instantly both happy and guilty. I felt happy because, ever since I was about 20 years old or so, I’ve made it my life’s goal to travel someplace new every year. For me, travel is an essential part of a life lived with intention: it exposes me to new sights, sounds, people, cultures…ways of thinking, ways of interacting, and ways of being, so I can be more intentional about my habits of thought and action, choosing which ones are worth keeping and which are worth sloughing away. I’m the kind of person who gravitates towards friends I admire because I love to learn from them. It’s my friends who help me be more generous, more kind, more complimentary, more willing to stand up for myself, more funny, more open, more creative, and more courageous than I would have been, if left to my own devices.

Travel does that for me too. While others might worship power, money, status, or prestige, I bow to the altars of Freedom and Experience. I choose an unfettered life in which I can continually explore and learn and grow. I chose a lifestyle that affords me opportunities to do so, even if it means being far from people we love and that I roam outside the box, fall off the corporate ladder, and don’t fit in anyone’s pigeonhole.

I couldn’t always afford travel, of course. The greatest irony, I discovered when I graduated from college and started working at a publishing company, is that the college life afforded plenty of time to travel, but no money. I started working and had plenty of money, but no time. Nevertheless, I made my resolution stick. By hook or by crook, I would see some place new every year. It didn’t have to be exotic and it didn’t have to be fancy, or even comfortable. Sure, flying off to Greece would be lovely, but there were plenty of things to explore in my vicinity.

So, sometimes that new place involved a flight overseas (my 25th birthday present to myself was a trip, all by myself, to Germany). Some years it was as exotic as South Carolina. Or it was a festival in the desert, like Burning Man. Or just a new city in my home state. And I’ve bunked on couches, camped in tents, shared rooms in hostels, and even spent nights sleeping in a car to make it possible.

When I came across that pin, I felt so happy because this one life goal has brought me so many experiences and a life that I already feel has been so enriched.

But I felt guilty too. Because this whole living life with intention thing is an ongoing process. I’ve flown halfway around the world and landed in the tropics on the other side, but that grand gesture doesn’t let me off the hook. Just because I did it once, doesn’t mean I get to be complacent. If I want to still learn and see and experience and grow, I can’t forget my life goal.

And this year, I almost had–might have entirely, if I hadn’t seen that quote. Since getting pregnant, I’ve lain low. We had talked about going to Bangkok for a shopping & eating expedition at our favorite shops and restaurants, but I mentally shoved it aside, feeling uncomfortable with too much exertion when I felt I should focus on the baby. This year we’re celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary not by jetting off like we did last year, but by staying at an uber-fancy resort right here in town. (Turns out, when you don’t have to pay for transcontinental flights, you can put that money towards some swank accommodations!) And maybe that’s okay. The Parent ‘Hood is definitely new territory for us–a whole new wealth of experience and learning that I can only begin to imagine.

Now that I’m thinking about it again, we’ll probably work in a day or weekend getaway to one of the little towns near us that we haven’t yet seen. I hear Chiang Dao is beautiful, and it’s only a few hours’ drive away. I do wonder though, whether a new place in life constitutes a new place for being and seeing. Maybe, as Proust has said, it’s about seeing things with new eyes more than it’s about just seeing new things period.

Either way, every now and again, it helps to get that reminder to stay open.

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A Haiku

Yesterday it rained
Only for half a minute
We cheered anyway.

For the month of April, Bigger Picture Blogs is celebrating with poetry! Join us with a sonnet, limerick, or rhyme and link it up at Bigger Picture Blogs!

Scenes From My Weekend

I spent the weekend at work in Chiang Rai.
There were quiet mornings before waking,
and hazy skies from seasonal burning.
Flowers for our kids graduating
and balloons.
I taught a workshop on self-esteem and ended it with
a showing of Brave, because our kids need to see more examples
of strong women in media.
But then I see these kids who succeed
despite challenges other children across the world can scarcely imagine
and I think there are plenty of strong women
right here.

::

That was my weekend. How was yours? Link it up at Bigger Picture Blogs!

Scenes From My Weekend

Fresh mango lassi on a day spent playing hooky
Writing again; fun surprises in store for the kids at SOLD
Baking turtle thumbprint cookies
at the hubby’s request for “awesome cookies”
using a handwritten recipe passed down from his mom.
Turtle thumbprint cookie results.

::

Here’s a few glimpses of my weekend. How was yours?
Show us – link it up at Bigger Picture Blogs!
And be sure to check out our special feature on the lovely Adrienne from My Memory Art!

 For the month of March, Bigger Picture Blogs is offering a fun project every Monday: Show us scenes from YOUR weekend! As we slowly turn from winter to spring, this month we’re celebrating the theme: Rejuvenate! Rejuvenate your heart, rejuvenate your soul – pick up your pen, your camera, and your spirit!

Scenes From My Weekend

Starting the morning with yoga,
Dot standing guard.
Followed with a cup of rooibos
And a late afternoon swim.
Dinner at a favorite restaurant
Fusion & cocktails – but no cocktails for me.
I had the roasted duck curry,
while Toby enjoyed oyster shooters
wrapped in salmon with a lemongrass-chili sauce.

That was my weekend, how was yours?
Show us and link it up at Bigger Picture Blogs!

For the month of March, Bigger Picture Blogs is offering a fun project every Monday: Show us scenes from YOUR weekend! As we slowly turn from winter to spring, this month we’re celebrating the theme: Rejuvenate! Rejuvenate your heart, rejuvenate your soul – pick up your pen, your camera, and your spirit!

Scenes From My Weekend

Fresh cut fruit & veggies
And summer pasta salad
with bell peppers, arugula, & parmesan
To enjoy poolside on a hot, hot day.
And when hot day turned to stormy night…

…a cup of rooibos tea and a book.

::

That was my weekend, how was yours?
Show us and link it up at Bigger Picture Blogs!

For the month of March, Bigger Picture Blogs is offering a fun project every Monday: Show us scenes from YOUR weekend! As we slowly turn from winter to spring, this month we’re celebrating the theme: Rejuvenate! Rejuvenate your heart, rejuvenate your soul – pick up your pen, your camera, and your spirit!

Books to Savor – {Steal Like An Artist}

Photo courtesy of Austin Kleon (steallikeanartist.com)

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Austin Kleon

Yesterday, I told you about how refreshed and inspired I felt for the new year and how I cleaned up house to prepare for all that creative flow. Well you know how that happened? I owe it all to this book.

I was in a bookstore in Bangkok, passing time until my flight, when I saw this book. I read the whole thing standing up in the bookstore while other unfortunate shoppers had to crane their necks around me to see the stacks better. I was enthralled. Kleon is just such a personable writer and his book is just full of stories and tips that speak to your inner-creative and whisper to her that it’s okay to come out.

The book initially started as a talk Kleon gave to a group of college students. The video of the talk went viral, so he sat down and put it in a really visual, fun to peruse book. Pages like this, I want to staple to my walls:

Photo courtesy of Austin Kleon (steallikeanartist.com)

Steal Like An Artist  is full of great tips to incorporate into your creative practice, it’s a fun, engaging read that makes you feel like the author is totally not an asshole (sadly, something that cannot be said about a large number of artists), and it really makes you just want to get out and do. This is a book I’ll hold on to, for use whenever I need a refreshing kick in the butt to either just write or to put myself out there more.

I might also possibly steal his music.

*     *     *

In other news: I’m hosting another Reading Circles Goes LIVE! event on January 31, 8 p.m. CST where a small group of book lovers can join me (via Google Hangout) reading & discussing a book to delve into how an author works his or her magic. It’s like a virtual Book Club – for writers! Full details on Bigger Picture Blogs’ website HERE. If you want to join in, be sure to RSVP and vote on which book you want to read!

Glimmer

Sunlight filters through the bedroom window, raining down like soft God kisses, tracing a golden outline along the edge of his russet-coffee curls, slipping over the contours of a sharp-angled jaw line, spreading like lover’s fingers over tanned, broad, shoulders and sloping down to narrow waist to catch the fold of white bed sheets over a masculine hip. His breath is an almost imperceptible gesture as he drifts from sleep to wake.

Awareness dawns. Slow, like the crawl of light into shadow, he shifts to face me, vestiges of dreams still clinging to his thick eyelashes, and to his soft lips, that late afternoon playground where old kisses linger like reluctant, yet satiated children called home to dinner.

This is the treasure moment. He opens his eyes and I see heavens and night skies in the glimmer of just-waking blues. If looks were words, this would be a passage I’d underline and transcribe for safekeeping. I am caught, and it’s like the feeling you have when everything has been stripped away, like the proverbial dream where you’re standing in front of an auditorium, giving a speech, and suddenly realize you’re naked. Except this time, the audience is not laughing; they’re gazing at me in awe and wonder – and I, simultaneously vulnerable and emboldened, think I might stand a little taller. It’s that kind of feeling.

This is the moment when he kisses me and means it. Not a quick peck. Not a ritual goodbye or goodnight. It’s a welcome to the day. It’s the burgeoning of love, like each morning is the first we’ve ever spent together, and here, in this fraction of a minute, there are only two of us in the whole world and we are protected, impermeable. There are a thousand ways to fall in love, but only one way to surrender – and that is: completely.

I surrender. In that glistening, golden moment, there is only surrender.

I always want it to last. But the day and the dog beckon, and, in a flash, it’s gone. I turn to my side and prepare for my own day while he is already out of bed and putting on clothes. I feel wistful for a bleary-eyed, heavy-headed moment, missing the thread of connection already.

I rise and exchange the slippers of melancholy for my solid, sturdy work boots and trudge out of the resurrection place, out to greet the day. I stop pining after glimmers and ghosts, knowing that the moment will return.

It will be back tomorrow.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

::

This piece was written for a Bigger Picture Blogs Writing Circle, where a group of writers convene online, respond to a prompt, and share their words to receive collective praise and constructive advice. If you would like to join in, we have new dates available in October. Check out the details and sign up HERE!

 

Shared as this week’s Bigger Picture Moment

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