Observation as Meditation

Observaton as meditation

Opening my facebook timeline right now feels like a freight train barreling at me at full speed. I feel my body clench, tension building in my jaw, my neck, and on down into my shoulders, spine, and arms.

In times like these we need to make conscious efforts to breathe, to observe, to relax our bodies for our own health and well-being, both physical and mental.

I breathe in through my nose for a count of eight, hold it for a count of eight, and release it through my mouth for a count of eight. I’m not sure where I got the eight from, but it works for me. It draws my attention back into my body and I become conscious of all the ways in which I’m curled up on myself, holding both my fear and everyone else’s in the muscles of my neck and shoulders. I suspect I’m not the only one.

We have entered a time of great uncertainty with no idea of when the danger will have passed. It highlights both our interdependence on one another and the fact that tomorrow is promised to no one in ways that most of us don’t live with in our day-to-day reality. Pretending that this isn’t so only buries the fear down deep, and makes our bodies tense and curl in on ourselves again.

I’ve been practicing observation and awareness as meditation. Partly because I’m really bad (read not practiced enough) at the sitting still kind (hey maybe quarantine is a good time to practice that).

The leaves on my geranium on my kitchen sink are fuzzy.
There are tiny flowers popping up all over my yard, some of which my kids are bringing me.
Moss is coming back to life under my dogwood tree and it has the softest, most amazing texture.
One of my trees is putting out new leaves that look kind of like tiny green feathers as they emerge.

All of creation is emerging from a time of winter sleep just as we go into a time that feels very much like a winter sleep. But there is something to learn from nature in this. The tree turns within itself and waits.

We are not trees and we are not accustomed to a yearly routine of shedding things that seem so necessary in order to wait in stillness and silence for the right time to re-engage with life and re-emerge.

But while we are not trees we have been children. Everything in the future seems forever away when you are a child, and yet children cope with this reality by fully engaging in the moment. My boys are forever bringing me samples of nature, those tiny flowers popping out, acorns with their tiny caps, a moss-covered stone.

And it occurs to me that they are on to something.

So I hold a stone in my hand and feel its coolness and its weight in my palm.
I examine the scale-like texture of the acorn’s cap in contrast to the smooth skin of it’s seed. I stare at it in wonder that a tree lies coiled within this unremarkable and yet magical brown oval.
I water my houseplants and contribute to life and growing and all the things that seem to be put on hold right now, and yet are still happening all around us.

I calm my brain and do my best to inhabit each moment with an awareness that life at full-speed doesn’t always allow for.

And I breathe.

DIY Fiber Art

So I’ve seen some fabulous yarn wall hangings on Pinterest, and I developed a major fiber crush on the whole look. So when I found this tutorial I had to make my own.

I had the yarn already, but with only one skein of gray and a skein and a half of the thick cream wool, it wasn’t enough for any knitting projects.

I wound twenty long strands back and forth between my hands and then doubled them up to make these thick bundles. The small aqua bundles are ten strands each. I basically looped it over my thumbs and wound it to make big loops that I cut after I’d tied them to the branch. I did it this way because I didn’t have anything large enough to wind the yarn around and my hanging is a much larger scale than the one she made in the tutorial.

My branch is 37″ long, and the longest bundle of yarn is 26″ inches from the branch. I wound that one almost as long as I could reach, so that bundle was about 60″ or so when I wound it.

The embroidery hoop is 12″. I just wove some yarn back and forth, wrapping it several times around the hoop each time. Then I added the three pom-poms to fill it out. Here’s an easy tutorial for how to make them on your hand, or you can purchase a pom-pom maker.

The whole thing is hung on a 12″ dowel because I needed something long to sit on the metal hanger.

This gallery system can be found here.

The photo board is a frame I found at Turnip Green Creative Reuse, a fabulous resource for artists and creatives here in Nashville. I wrapped it in burlap strips and stapled them to the back. Then I zig-zagged jute twine, stapling it as well. I didn’t draw a pattern I just kept going until I liked what I had.

I used bulldog clips (and will replace the mini clothespins with bulldog clips as soon as my new box arrives) to put up some art prints, and added coffee filter flowers made from this tutorial, and some pom-poms.

Folks, I might need an intervention. I can’t stop making pom-poms and coffee filter flowers.

And the third and final piece. I needed something narrower for this space and I remembered these two frames. Once upon I time I did professional photography and I was making a photo wall for a client. The frame company sent me these two without glass and backing, so I called and they sent me completes replacement frames. I liked these but I never knew what to do with them.

That was seven years ago. They are a rare exemption from my if I-don’t-use-it-in-a-year, it goes rule. I just knew I’d find a use for them.

I had some leftover hardware cloth outside, also about seven years old. I stapled it the back of the frames and connected the frames with a wide grosgrain ribbon.

I then covered all the staples and edges of the hardware cloth with wide masking tape, several layers thick so they wouldn’t mark the wall.

The “H” is just gray yarn woven around to fill the chosen squares up with yarn. I did use a yarn needle to make things easier but you could wrap the end of the yarn with a bit of masking tape too.

The heart is made up of coffee filters. I twisted each one and inserted it through each square. I poked all of them through until I got the desired design, then I trimmed off most of what was poking through the back  and applied masking tape to the stubs to keep them together. Then fluffed the filters and I was ready to hang!

I added a tight length of jute twine to hang the top picture from the gallery system, and used a single command picture strip on the bottom of the lower frame to stablise it and keep both pieces level.

Beauty in the Daily: my big organization reveal

Office MakeoverI’ve lately discovered that beauty and order are necessary for my sanity. And like so many out there, it was so hard to keep my house in any kind of order, I’d clean up, and the junk would return seemingly out of no where! So I’ve been following the KonMari method as described in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I haven’t been doing it long enough yet to declare that it absolutely works but with all the areas I’ve hit so far, the clutter hasn’t come back!

And what’s more, I’ve been able to actually find systems that work to maintain things the way I want them, so nothing gets that far behind.

I’m not going to try to duplicate the book, because I’d rather tell you about what I did to make my office and mud room beautiful, but I do have some reflections on the sorts of systems we need that actually work and flow with our lives for another post coming soon, my children willing and the creek don’t rise and all that 😉

I built my first pipe shelf for my office project! I bought 1/2 inch flanges, 12 inch long “nipples,” and end caps, and screwed them into the wall. Then I added a 4-foot long shelf, in this case, I bought a 1×10 select pine board, because it looked like the 1×12 wasn’t going to sit flat on my pipes. Flanges got screwed into a stud on one side and with four heavy duty anchors on the other (dang stud wasn’t in the right spot and I had to have balance!).

The numbered files are just Ikea’s Flyt files, ordered from Amazon, because no Ikea near me, sniff sniff! I added the big black vinyl numbers for a bit of differentiation and because I thought it looked cool in a similar pin.

The white organizer behind my computer was a church rummage sale find.

I made the wire photo display and mason jar organizer this week as well. They are 2 foot long craft boards (pre cut in the lumber section), also select pine. 1×4 for the photo display and 1×6 for the mason jar organizer.

The display is just eye hooks screwed in and strung with picture hanging wire, the mason jar organizer, well, that deserves it’s own post because several tutorials I found left out key info.The two photo boards are hung with the large command strips for pictures. They say they hold 16 pounds, I put 2 on each picture board just to be sure. The mason jar organizer is hung with screws and anchors.

I stained all the boards and the shelf with a tea and vinegar method, I’ve got pics and will write about that as well (I’m racking up the list for future posts today, aren’t I?) but it’s way cool and totally non-toxic!


This is the opposite side of the office with all my Jamberry work now beautifully stowed on the built in book shelves.

And since this post is long already, I’ll do a picture only laundry room tour and if there are questions, well, I can always write another post 😉



I wanted a something happy to focus on when doing laundry :-)

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