October 18, 2017

Little Chestnuts

  1. This past week it finally began feeling like autumn in Philadelphia. Ninety degree days replaced by 40 degree nights; damp, grey, and chilling or crystalline sunshine with crisp air. The feel of fall and my time being siphoned to moving house together account for the nature bits cropping up in recent yonis.
  2. The internet is helpful until it's not. How's that for profound? Trying to identify the husks used in Yoni # 31 was frustrating. The same photos, with the same URLs, were returned by searches for American chestnut, horse chestnut, and buckeye. So which is it? I'm still not certain if horse chestnuts and buckeyes are the same thing or different species altogether. Anyone know? The internet says both, that horse chestnut and buckeye are the same tree by different names and that they are two unique trees. Sadly, I am certain the husks I found are not from the rare American chestnut. I was really excited for them to be. The scientific name for the American chestnut is Castanea dentata. For those of you not intimate with the inner workings of my brain, it immediately goes to vagina dentata. You know my hunt for American chestnut husks is now official.
  3. Since I've taken us to the precipice of the slippery slope of irreverence with vagina dentata, I may as well share my pet names for the Year of Yoni project. First of all, given their smallish size and wool base, I imagine them as merit badges. Or badges of honor. I thought of each one as a vag badge - until I looked up "vag badge" on the internet. Ick. I hereby co-opt the term vag badge to mean recognition, respect, and reverence for the feminine creative power; body positivity; and a cheeky f*ck you to the repressiveness of our insidious patriarchal culture.
  4.  My other pet name for Year of Yoni is Bony Joanie Maroni and the Sacred Yoni. I could be mistaken, but the way I remember it is my mother made up this silly name for her sister Joan. Well, the Bony Joanie Maroni part of the name. In some ways Joan was the quintessential Victorian spinster aunt. In other ways she was quite adventuresome and feisty. I've adopted the pet title for my Magic of Myth course assignment this month to create my own myth. I'm not sure what the plot will be, but the title is just too damn fun to remain in the dark.

October 15, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 31

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

October 11, 2017

Moving (Again)

Back in this post I mentioned days filled to over-brimming. The reason being we bought a house in Philadelphia! Oddly, almost exactly a year to the day of selling our house in Ohio. Which was not the plan. We intended to make a serious effort in late winter or early spring, with an eye to purchase / move by May. But. Everyone else has their own plans and "things" conspired to make this happen NOW. And we truly believe it worked out for the best. The way it was supposed to.

The house is perfect for us (crazily enough, it ticked off every single desire on our list and does not possess any of the deal breakers or undesirables we listed). There's not a straight line in the place - it's about 100 years old - but it is well maintained, full of light (finally!!!!), and full of potential to make it our own once our finances recover from the closing.

With the rest of October to complete our move - a whopping 2 blocks away from our apartment - our days will remain full. And tiring. And dusty (wow, I forgot how much grit comes in to roost through open windows in the city). But for good cause. Celebratory cause. And when I look around at the dishevelment and disarray caused by packing I will try to practice the Think Small tenets: narrow focus, gestures to start the job at hand, small repetitive efforts. And deep breaths.

In the meantime, posts may continue to be a little off-schedule and spotty in this space. Just know things are churning behind the scenes. And photos of the new place are sure to crop up here once we begin to make it our own.

The image at the top has nothing to do with this post. It's a crappy phone photo of a super cool Pandorus sphinx moth spotted in the pedestrian tunnel under the train tracks at our local station. Approaching it, I thought it was a leaf caught on the rough surface of the wall. But the camo pattern made me do a stage worthy double-take. Watching the moth was really quite magical.

October 8, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 30

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

October 4, 2017

Think Small: Kaizen

Another thinking aloud post today. Thoughts not fully formed, but ripe for pondering and putting into practice. And so many synchronicities and convergences it's ridiculous; I'd say full circle, but that's not quite right. More like a joining and overlapping of ideas forming a trail, a curved trail, a trail that becomes a warm embrace. What the hell am I talking about, you ask? I'll attempt to explain.

As you know I've been exploring the concept of "small" through this Think Small series of posts. Some of the concepts I've touched upon, attempted to unravel and pursue, are influenced and supported by the content and contributions by my classmates in the year-long Squam Art Workshop Magic of Myth: End of the Quest. One classmate posted - a month ago? two months ago? - about a new to her magazine that she thought the group would enjoy, womankind, published in Australia.
image source: http://www.womankindmag.com/
Womankind looked right up my alley, but I didn't hold much hope for finding it on the newsstands in Philadelphia. I pretty much forgot about it. Until we were in North Carolina and went to the little, independent bookshop in town that I remembered as having a fantastic magazine section. Although, "magazine" sounds too tawdry, too pulpy and mass-market-y to describe the small room dedicated to periodicals. There. The Regulator had, and continues to have, a fantastic periodical selection. Art, literature, and cultural titles that are not stocked other places. New discoveries and adventures await in the little room just inside the front door.  And, wouldn't you know it, there on the shelf was one last remaining copy of womankind.

I started reading the wolf issue (#13) yesterday. The first news piece is a short article entitled The Secret to Motivation (which put me in mind of this post about momentum). The article relates the findings and practices of clinical psychologist Robert Maurer. It mentions his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life, which, as you might imagine, intrigues me. Making small efforts, rather than get discouraged by the enormity of the overwhelm, is partly what I was trying to get at in this post about gestures. Maurer credits the Japanese philosophy kaizen for this technique of his, to encourage clients to take small actions in order to establish new habits. Kaizen is defined in the article as continual improvement. "Instead of wild, sweeping, radical change, one aims for infinitesimally small improvements." (Adding to the embrace of overlapping ideas, I first heard of kaizen years and years and years ago from one of our friends we just visited in North Carolina.)

Maurer explains that our brains resist change. Which pretty much sucks when you want to change, know you need to change, say improve your health for instance.
While the rational, thinking brain (or cortex) may point out the benefits of squeezing in some physical movement each day, the midbrain (or amygdala) will prevent it from happening. You see, any shift in routine, or change, any new idea, or opportunity, will trigger fear in the midbrain. Every time you stray from your safe and familiar habits, the midbrain will do its utmost to put a stop to it. It's why we typically fail at changing our routine, instead continuing to do what we've always done, even if it makes us unhappy, unhealthy, or uninspired.
His advice for overcoming the fearful amygdala is kaizen. Taking teeny tiny steps to firmly establish new habits (which relates to this post). Rather than jump right into a workout regimen, dip your toe in for a month or a week, repeating the same tiny action every day. The add a second tiny action to extend this new habit, repeating those two tiny steps daily for a given period of time. Build up to a workout regimen slowly, ever so slowly, with small, repeated actions.
The technique can be used for whatever it is you wish to change in your life: each day you drink one sip less of coffee; draw a line on a page in an art book; write one word of a poem; sit at your piano and press a single note; learn one foreign word. When an action is so small it is laughable, the brain does not go into self-protective lockdown mode.
I'm not convinced I explained how discovering this article, in this magazine, about this topic fully integrates so many of the things I am thinking and doing and practicing lately, so just trust me. It is a warm embrace, many ideas and examples and synchronicities and practices encircled by this interpretation and implementation of kaizen.

October 3, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 29

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

September 30, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 28

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.