the dreaming pear

life {enchanted}

Nine/nine, write on time! [hah, sorry not sorry]

It gives me great pleasure to still be maintaining my pattern this year of a blog post once a month on each month day. I have so far posted on 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, and now 9/9! There is no other purpose to it than for my own interest and amazement and joy at meeting the challenge I have set myself.

It makes me happy!

Although it does feel a little strange to try to remember August now that we are more than a week into September, it has so far been a nice exercise to frame each month in my memory after it’s finished.

August was fantastic!

My amazing and inspirational parents, who are both in their early 70’s [I always lose count after each decade, sorry Mom and Dad!], celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August, which brought me tremendous joy for them and for our family.

I also continued my daily meditation progress without missing a day!

August meditation progress

August meditation progress

I enjoyed some quality lake time with family and friends more than once, which is always one of my summer highlights every year.

Gull Lake, Michigan

Gull Lake, Michigan

Most importantly for my artistic progress, I finally joined the Pen Dragons Calligraphy Guild, which has been a goal of mine since I moved back to Kalamazoo over 11 years ago! Slow progress, but I am celebrating a next step finally taken. I have for years harbored worries that my artistic skills are not good enough [for what or whom, I don’t know] or not worthy of developing, so I am taking this next step with some anxiety, but also with much excitement for the opportunity to dig deeper into an art form I have long loved and with the hope of further developing my skills and confidence as a calligrapher.

I am a Pen Dragon!

The wind in my sails [literally]

July!

I can remember well the disappointment of transitioning into adult responsibilities after college and no longer having a summer vacation. I’m happy to say that even though I am still working a full-time adult life, I have reclaimed the joys of summer.

This month did not disappoint!

A family canoe trip, a few sailing trips on our Hobie Tandem Island sailing kayak, an annual family reunion, and daily play in our glorious backyard have made July a true summer again.

Pine River, Michigan

Pine River, Michigan

My meditation has been progressing without any problems.

I occasionally wake up exhausted from a too short or restless night and give myself the break of meditating in bed on my back, in the yoga Corpse pose, which I find as restful as additional sleep. My preferred meditation pose is sitting on a cushion on the floor, in a half lotus position, with my hands on my knees. When the gong rings to signal the end of my five minutes (sometimes 10 on weekends) I do a few stretches to work out my lower back and neck. I’ve now also begun incorporating a couple of strength building exercises as well, which is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years, so it feels amazing to now have the space and motivation to begin.

Progress! Slow and gradual, but progress nonetheless.

July Meditation Progress

July Meditation Progress

I was reading an article this week that mentioned four or five ways to take care of oneself first in order to have the presence to take care of others, and I was elated to realize that I now do every one of the tools mentioned on a consistent basis! At this time last year I was only doing them in theory, but not in practice.

With the small successes I’ve had so far this year I’m beginning to get the confidence to take on some bigger things! More on that in the future…

In the meantime I’ve pulled out two small drawings that I did over 10 years ago, as inspiration to continue to work on my art as well as the rest of my personal growth. They’re now posted above my computer, and I gaze at them every day, incubating my creativity.

Jungle frog

Jungle frog

River baby

River baby

Life is good!

Let the wild [summer] rumpus start!

June was quite a month! Our Michigan spring was cold and wet, but I had quite a bit going on to distract me from it. And despite all of my projects and travels I still managed to meditate every day.

The daily meditation is feeling good, and feeling habitual by now. I don’t have much more than that to say about it anymore, at this halfway point in my 365 day project, which is an indication to me that now more than ever I need to stay vigilant so I can continue making meditation a true habit. Six months in, and I have successfully meditated for 182 of the 365 days in this year!

June Meditation Progress

June Meditation Progress

My June projects included a renewed interest in crafting and building things, (namely small Metal Earth models of the Millenium Falcon and the Eiffel Tower), installing my calligraphy light table in our spare bedroom, upgrading my desk space at my day job with a lamp and some art, which transformed my ability to stay focused and productive at work (imagine that!), and a super fun trip to Chicago for the annual conference of the National Association of Psychometrists, of which I am a member. Also plenty of time doing yard work and enjoying our new green spaces. I hope to write more about many of these things in the future, but for now I will stick to brief updates.

Chicago

Chicago

I’m feeling happy, calm, and centered as I head into July.

Blessed Beyond Measure

I am still on track with my 365 Days of Meditation, with only that one slip-up at the end of January!

May Meditation Progress

May Meditation Progress

I am especially proud of my May daily meditation success, since we had a busy month. Our families came to help us put a new roof on our house, with my amazing father managing the project and the rest of us supplying the labor. It took us three long weekends of work, but we did it!

Our new roof is beautiful, and now that I’ve had a week to recuperate from the final round of work on it, I’m feeling relaxed and energized again.

This is also our first summer in our new house, so it’s been exciting to see what grows in our backyard, as everything begins to bloom.

I’m feeling blessed and at peace.

So much gratitude!

New Roof! Backyard Bliss

New Roof! Backyard Bliss

Brevity for the sake of continuity

It’s getting late, so this meditation update will be a quick one. So far I have meditated every day this year except one! My current streak is 94 days.

April meditation progress

April meditation progress

Our new house is feeling more and more like home every day. April brought violets to our backyard, followed by an unexpected snowstorm, a week of the flu, and an opportunity to see Singing in the Rain again in the theater.

April violets

April violets

April snow

April snow

I am also coming closer to my goal of having space to create again, but for the moment I am content to enjoy previous creations. I had a photograph selected for Bronson’s annual Employee Art Exhibit, which is currently on display in the Bronson Hospital Medical Office Pavilion until June. It’s nice to see my work hanging in public again!

Patterns of engagement

I was intending to do all of my meditation progress posts at the beginning of each new month, but when I sat down to write my post for March on April 1, I noticed that I had done my intentions for the year post on January 1, my first update on February 2, and my next update on March 3. So to continue with the pattern I unwittingly created, I am choosing to do my March meditation update on April 4! I’m hoping to make it a true pattern every month.

March was successful!

I meditated every day in March, for at least 5 minutes, sometimes 10 on weekends when my morning timeline isn’t as strict. I also consistently added some yoga adaptations that help stretch out my lower back, which is often stiff in the mornings.

The best part of my meditation practice so far is that our dogs are now meditating with me!

My husband and I have two Australian Shepherds; one is a toy, one is a mini, and they bring me joy every day. Our mini aussie is a snuggler, and every time I sit down on the floor he runs to me and enthusiastically pushes himself headfirst into my arms, with his tail wagging excitedly. I always encourage this, because I love it, and at first when I sit down on my meditation cushions he runs up to me and we snuggle for a moment, often with our toy aussie laying next to me on his back (he’s a much more independent boyo than the mini) asking for belly rubs, which I always give happily.

As soon as I pick up my phone, set the meditation timer, settle into my half lotus meditation posture, and take my first deep breath, both dogs go off and curl up a few feet away from me, lying peacefully still for the duration of my meditation. When the gong rings to signal the end of the meditation time, I shift, and flex my wrists and hands, and our mini snuggler runs right back into my lap, licking my hands and asking to play while I do the rest of my stretches.

At first I found it remarkable that our dogs should seem so aware and mindful. The more I reflect on it, though, the more I see that they are much more in tune than I am to nuanced body language and energy, as this is their main form of communication, with each other and with me. It’s only natural that if I am embodying stillness and peace, they too will find rest in those moments. As soon as I am ready to move again, their energy picks up as well. Very in tune little beings they are.

I am happy to be successfully resonating mindfulness for them.

A few other moments of note in March: my husband and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary, which delights and amazes me all over again with each passing year we share; I baked bread again for the first time in many years, which I also find to be meditative and heart-ful; the tulips my husband bought for our kitchen window bloomed beautifully, even as it snowed outside on the last day of March; and I bought some seeds to begin our first plantlings in our new home.

May April bring even more growth from the stillness.

Snow Tulips

Snow Tulips

March Meditation Progress

March Meditation Progress

February Success!

I was able to successfully put my missed meditation day at the end of January behind me, and I have continued to meditate daily ever since! February is my first completed month of meditation, and I’m feeling the pleasure and gratitude of a partial goal realized.

I have learned that it’s best for me to meditate as soon as I get up in the morning, since that is the easiest time of day for me to control my routine and develop a daily habit. I also enjoy the sense of additional calm it gives me going into each day.

I’ve started with just five minutes of meditation at a time, but my hope is to gradually increase the duration. I’ve been trying out ten minutes on weekends, when my schedule isn’t as rushed, and I’ve also added in a few yoga poses now and then.

My ideal is to do both meditation and yoga every day, so I’m pleased that I’ve started adding in a little yoga, but I’m still only planning to track the meditation this year. One goal at a time works best for me.

Small steps.

With the additional clarity I’ve gained from my meditation exploration I’ve also had the headspace to attempt to bring more vegetables into my daily food habits, and to think more about my plans for my art. Nothing concrete yet, but I am donating one of my framed photographs to the silent auction at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Hooley for Healing at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, on Saturday, March 16 at 12 pm. The photographs are of the Downhill House ruins at Mussenden Temple on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland, matted and framed by The Framemaker in Kalamazoo.

Downhill House, Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland

Downhill House, Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland

All in all, despite some extreme weather and two bouts with viruses, February wrapped up quite nicely. I’m grateful and looking forward to March!

February Meditation Progress.png

365 Days of Meditation

February is beginning, and I am now one month in to my 365 Days of Meditation project.

I’m uncomfortable with New Year’s resolutions, because my track record of following through on goals is anything but consistent. I also have a tendency to dream big, with many lofty goals, all of which I want to see completed immediately, or yesterday. This year, to help myself tame those tendencies and create consistency I decided to focus on one small goal, with a single measurable step I can take every day: meditation.

I know the value of meditation in my own life and desire to make it a daily habit for myself. My hope is that by engaging in that one, small success every day I will also have the motivation to work toward my other goals as well, but the only goal I am holding myself accountable to is daily meditation.

To increase my accountability I plan to share my progress along the way. The Calm app that I use for meditation has a tracking calendar that shows a visual representation of daily progress and the current number of meditation days in a row. Before I started this project on January 1st my longest streak was 5 days. My plan was to meditate every day this year, to see a full bubble on every day of the calendar and see a 365 day streak at the end of the year.

I have already failed.

I successfully meditated every day of January, until the last. On January 31st I forgot to meditate. When I woke up February 1st and realized I hadn’t meditated the day before a wave of disappointment washed over me. My dream of perfection for the year was no longer possible.

I breathed in, I breathed out, I got out my meditation cushion, sat down, and started up the timer again.

In a way it was a relief to know that I don’t have to strive for perfection any more, that one missed day here or there will be ok, as long as I don’t let it keep me from sitting down again the next day, and the next day, and the next.

Today I meditated.

I’m going to make it a good day.

365 Meditation Progress January 2019.png

New year, new home, new intentions for engagement

Happy New Year, and Happy January!

I have taken a break from my creative endeavors since closing my studio in the Park Trades Center three (!) years ago. It has been a time of growth in other areas of my life, and I am tremendously excited for the new beginnings that have arisen as a result.

I am in a new physical space now, a new home. We are just beginning to settle in, and a new year seems like perfect timing for growing a new creative space as well. To begin that process I am setting an intention for myself this year to be present and engaged every day.

The immediate result of that intention is a renewed focus on meditation. I am currently using the free version of the Calm meditation app for the meditation timer and to keep myself accountable. It has a calendar that updates after each session, and I used it again today for the first time in a while.

It has been 219 days since my last meditation.

I love the practice and meditate regularly in theory, but I have not been disciplined in practice. My intention for this year is a 365 day meditation project.

Day 1, success.

My hope is that a renewed sense of presence and engagement in all areas of my life will gradually follow.

Just breathe.

adventures in marmalade

It's been quite a while since I got my new website up and running and began playing around with my new branding as The Dreaming Pear.

I've been spending most of my time working my day job at The People's Food Co-op of Kalamazoo, which is what pays my bills and also teaches me so much every day about wellness, about excellence in customer service, about positivity in communication, and about compassionate business skills, among many other useful things!

So much gratitude!

I value my experiences at the co-op, and I also value the opportunity to simultaneously and slowly build up my art and massage studio into a thriving business that will eventually sustain me full-time.

Eventually is a long way off, however, and my blog posts will most likely be few and far between for a while, as I only have the energy to write these days when I feel super inspired by something amazing.

This weekend I found that inspiration, and it fits in nicely with one of my intended future topics for my blog: Things I'm Loving!

There are so many things in this incredible world that inspire me, and I thought it would be fun to occasionally share some of them with you in addition to writing about my art- and massage-related journeys.

I hope you enjoy this little view into my current winter inspirations!

Wintersweet: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home  by Tammy Donroe Inman

Wintersweet: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home by Tammy Donroe Inman

I am loving this cold, somewhat snowy Michigan winter, and I have been wanting to do some baking. Without knowing I was looking for it I found this jewel of a winter dessert cookbook on Friday at Bookbug, one of Kalamazoo's terrific local independent bookstores:

Wintersweet: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home by Tammy Donroe Inman

A quick flip through the pages sold me immediately. Everything about this cookbook is beautiful, including the author's philosophy about the importance of eating locally-available, as-fresh-as-possible, in-season produce and supporting local farms. Equally as important, every single recipe is something I would love to eat, and I got excited about spending the rest of the winter trying out as many delicious new desserts as I can.

Citrus season is in full swing in the US, so while citrus may not be local here in Michigan, it's as fresh as we can get it. At the suggestion of one of my coworkers I flipped through the citrus chapter to find something I could easily make without buying any new kitchen equipment or staple ingredients.

First up: Orange Kumquat Marmalade!

Thanks to the wonderful fresh organic produce at the co-op, I purchased the blood oranges, lemon, and kumquats before I left work on Saturday, and yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen delightedly slicing citrus half-moons and watching a boiling pot of citrus-y sugar water.

{I know I'm not supposed to watch the pot, but I couldn't help myself since this was my first attempt at marmalade and I had no idea what to expect!}

Before I figured out I needed to take the lid off!

Before I figured out I needed to take the lid off!

It was touch-and-go for a while, since I wasn't sure whether or not to put the lid on the pot, which boiled over, leaving a caramel-y citrus mess burned onto the stovetop. It took about an hour longer to cook down than the recipe said it should, and I was afraid I was going to end up with something hard and inedible after it cooled. {In hindsight I'm guessing no lid is best.}

Thankfully, marmalade seems to be somewhat foolproof, and with such a great recipe to follow my first attempt turned out amazing!

I love the ruby red hue from the blood oranges.

I love the ruby red hue from the blood oranges.

This morning I spread my new marmalade on buttered toast for breakfast and enjoyed a heavenly minute or two savoring it while eating it as fast as possible because it was so freaking delicious!

dreaming big

Whew! It's been quite a year!

At this time last year I was just beginning my recovery from a frightening experience with anxiety and depression.

A life instinct somewhere inside me urged me to pick up the phone and call my closest family and friends for support. Out of my self-induced loneliness I built a loving support network of family, friends, and professionals to guide me back to health.

Right before my brain chemistry and emotional confidence wavered last summer I had taken the huge step of signing the lease for a studio space for my fledgling art and massage business. I was so proud of myself!

And yet also terrified.

Creating a space for myself to create and simply be was like second nature for me.

Inviting people I had never met before into my space was foreign and frightening. Baring my vision and my soul to strangers left me feeling more exposed than I had ever felt before.

And more empowered.

It was and still is an incredible feeling to express myself so completely and be affirmed in my self-expression.

I've been open for several Art Hops now in the Park Trades Center Mezzanine Studio, and I love it! I am only in my studio on Mondays and for Art Hops, so my space and my work are evolving and progressing slowly, but slow is good for me.

I am now in the process of redeveloping my brand concept and my website, and I am very excited with the results so far!

I invite you to explore my website and get to know me and my work and my dream. Maybe I'll see you at an Art Hop some day soon!