Heart Stone Feathers

Word Nerd – Feather Finder – Heart Stone Hunter – Synchronicity Searcher Winging It While Lovingly Writing Through Life

Category: Stones

The Stone Path

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Last Monday, I was schlepping my bulging luggage from Penn Station in New York City to the Port Authority building located ten blocks away. It was the final sweaty stage of my weeklong journey to Atlanta (which actually involved a higher percentage of moisture loss via cleansing tears than it did putrid perspiration). For most people, that might not sound like a big deal, but for this small-town homebody whose last traveling adventure was to Kentucky in 2008, it was HUGE.

I’ve been meaning to blog about all the amazing things I learned at the inaugural Design Your Life Camp, but whenever I sit down to process everything and to journal my thoughts, I find myself staring off into space – sometimes with a little bit of spittle forming at the corners of my gaping mouth. The only conclusion I’ve reached is, to try to summarize the event into one blog post would be impossible. That…and I should keep my mouth closed when I’m thinking.

When people ask me to describe the experience, the one-word synopsis that does easily spill over my lips is “life-altering.” Even that seems like an inadequate definition though.

So why this blog post after having not checked in here for the last ninety days? Because it’s time to get back to my OWN page.

In the last year, I’ve not only completed three levels of the online VerbTribe writing course that forever changed my life for the better, but I’ve had seven pieces accepted for publication. A year ago, I never thought any of that would be possible.

It’s been a year of learning about process and product and finding a balance between the two. Not for one second do I think I’ve mastered anything, but I’m finally at peace with the path of my life. Maybe that’s because I’m now on a path of my own creation – one where I’m no longer embarrassed when I describe myself as a writer.

And that brings me to the stones in the photo above. As part of our goodie bag at camp, each camper received two unique rocks that I like to think are pertinent to where we are in our individual lives. I confess that my first two thoughts about the “let go of judgement” stone were (1) “Oh my God…they misspelled judgement!” (I subscribe to the judgment version) and (2) “Oh dear…it has a chip of paint missing!” [Insert “light bulb moment” here!]

I was home for two days before I even noticed that both rocks had a heart theme – one with a heart painted directly on it and the other heart-shaped. [Insert second “light bulb moment” here!] How does someone who professes to be a heart-stone hunter – so much so that it’s part of the title and tagline of her own blog – MISS such a thing???

What this says to me is I’m entering a much-needed period of refinement and refocusing. For too long I simply refused to acknowledge my desire to write. When I finally did, I reveled in being a part of the big picture – learning, experimenting, reaching out. Camp’s focus on creativity, courage, and community was a massive injection of “you got this” mojo juice.

And now I sit here asking myself, “What do you want to do with all of this?” The key words being “you” and “want.” What I know today is that I will (try to) not be judgmental about any decisions I make and I will (try to) love my life as it continues to unfold. For today, that’s good enough. In fact, it’s damn good…

The Balancing Act of Art (and Life)

“All I know for sure is that it took so long that I almost gave up several times. Not because I was doubtful of the possibility. Rather, I was certain of its possibility.” ~Michael Grab

Michael Grab at Work

I do not use the word “awestruck” lightly. In fact, if I was to rely on the most common definition which references having mixed emotions of both wonder and fear, it would be difficult for me to even think of other times in my life when that word would be applicable. All of that changed though when a dear friend of mine (thank you Ginny!) recently introduced me to the online world of Michael Grab, a self-professed Rock Balancer.

Instead of me trying to adequately describe just what it is that Michael does and how it is that he left me so awestruck, I implore you to PLEASE take three minutes and fifty-five seconds out of your busy life to watch firsthand the video below of his “work.” Fair warning though (especially for Type A personalities) – be patient and do NOT take your eyes off what he’s doing. I can honestly say that, the first time I watched this, I not only “saw” the second everything came together, but I literally “felt” it deep within. I was NOT expecting either. In a nanosecond, my shrunken heart that had been fearing a collapse almost burst from the soul-expanding wonder of witnessing something that seems to defy all possibility of existing. Enter…..awestruck.

Right about now, you’re probably sitting there – like I initially was – debating whether or not some “rock balancing guy” is worth an investment of the precious time that it will take you to view the video and/or to finish reading this blog post about him. Let me provide you with a little more insight about Michael before you make that critical decision.

One of his core beliefs about what he does is, “it’s all about presence in the moment. SLOW down. Become the balance.” If you do watch the video (or perhaps you already did – hooray for you!), you almost get a sense of time frozen, perhaps due to Michael’s intense – almost meditative – patience with the process. Patience that had me both breathless and squirming in my seat.

Michael is so much more though than rocks, balance, and patience. In his February 5th, 2013 blog post (entitled “Following the Heart’s Intuition”), he begins with a meme quote (author unknown to him, but I believe it to be Lawrence Pearsall Jacks) that he saw on Facebook and that stated, “The person who is a master in the art of living makes little distinction between their work and their play. Their labor and their leisure, their mind and their body……They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence and grace in whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing. To them, they are always doing both.” In his own words, he goes on to say that, “I can’t emphasize enough the value of following your own sacred intuition…those deep down feelings and spiritual excitements. By doing this I have learned to relax in the face of uncertainty, to exist in the moment more easily and thoroughly. Balancing rocks teaches many disciplines. The balance pictured here (photo below) took about an hour, maybe two, to realize. All I know for sure is that it took so long that I almost gave up several times. Not because I was doubtful of the possibility. Rather, I was certain of its possibility.”

Michael Grab's Rock Tower

And that – THAT – is why I felt I had to share Michael and his work/art with the world, in whatever way I could. Not because he and I both have a love affair with the artist nature of stones, but because of his unyielding belief that art is possible in even the most unlikeliest of forms.

This is a guy who literally immerses himself in his work. He also not only realizes – but accepts – the fleeting nature of all that we create. As a writer, I personally can learn a lot from a young man like that.

When he talks about “find[ing] a zero point or silence within [him]self,” I imagine how that translates into my own need to sit patiently at my desk while I find my own starting/balance point to begin constructing the (hopefully) rock-solid foundation of my next piece. When he discusses how “…rocks collaborate into an extremely complex system of balance. One piece slightly adjusted by fractions of a millimeter will yield collapse…,” I realize how every word I write ties into the next one and how my editing has the power to build the piece stronger, as well as to cause its destruction. “Slow down. Become the balance.” There really is no other way, is there?

I hope that you or someone you know – someone who is perhaps struggling with believing in the possibility of their own art and/or in finding the balance of that art within the context of the rest of their life – finds some inspiration in the magic that Michael creates. For additional motivation, be sure to check out his website, especially his portfolio that depicts some of his amazing “towers.” As for his “bridges” and “spheres” – oh my! You just have to see them for yourself. The good news is, you can also buy prints of his work.

One final note…..if you’re interested and if you can spare nine more minutes and fifteen seconds, I would highly recommend that you watch this other video. As the camera used for filming it is suspended directly from Michael’s head, it will let you experience the amazing process directly from his point of view. Art from yet another glorious angle…..

A Light Stone

Small Stone #4

Difficult Stones To Cast

My small stones for yesterday and today….

Some days, it can be so difficult to get up and move:

Small Stone #2

Other days, it can be even more difficult to watch loved ones in your life move:

Small Stone #3

Small Stones Preserved In Ink

“….a sun-soaked bed, draped with a furry duvet of solar panel cats…..”

That was the “small stone” I submitted yesterday for the first day of the month-long Mindful Writing Challenge 2013. Small stones? Writing? Oh yeah – THAT’S the type of challenge I want to be a part of! And no – it’s not too late for you to also be a part of it.

Described as “a simple observational writing tool…you don’t have to be a writer to write [small stones] – you just need to find a few minutes a day to pause and really pay attention to something (anything) and then write it down as accurately as you can. [It’s] a very simple way of engaging with the world around you, in all its richness and complexity and beauty…[It] will help you to acknowledge the ugly things (the slugs in the compost pile) as well as the pretty ones (a blackbird’s twirling song).” My apologies to slug lovers – I’m just quoting here.

Previously known as the River of Stones, you can learn more about the Mindful Writing Challenge and writing small stones by visiting the Writing Our Way Home website. For more insight and inspiration, treat yourself to reading How To Write Your Way Home, a free 64-page e-book.

Once you’re feeling a little more grounded about the concept of writing small stones, be brave (heck – fake it if need be) and create one of your own. Make some ripples in the writing world by then casting it out onto the Writing Our Way Home blog, your own blog/website, Facebook, or twitter (using #smallstone).

As a lover and collector of stones, I’d be overjoyed if you’d like to share your small stones here with me. Simply add them as a comment to any of my posts. Together we can craft a meandering stone wall of words.

If you’d prefer to keep your small stones close to your heart and in a special place for your own private viewing, perhaps you can carry a small pocket-sized notebook or a solitary index card to serve as a canvas to carve out your miniature masterpieces. By the end of the month, you’ll literally have a stone bouquet that will never wither or need watering.

Whatever you do, have fun searching for your daily small stone. Simply sit still, breathe, and begin to notice what comes into your line of focus. A sight. A sound. A smell. A sensation. Preserve it in ink, whisper it to the wind, and then savor the echo of the small touchstone you’ve just created.

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