Thursday, March 30, 2017

April Wellness Challenge :: #letshydrate


Hello! It has been a while since we have done a wellness challenge, so let's remedy that now! I propose we spend the month hydrating. Water consumption is difficult even for people who love it. And if you are not a fan, it is even a bigger challenge. 

We will spend the month sharing ideas, tricks, tips and resources to encourage and support each other in our quest for hydration. 

This challenge happens in my FB group Mama Scout Laboratory for Creative Living. You can join here.  See you in the bathroom queue!

poetry jam ---> last call, y'all



Last night, as we pulled into our driveway after a 12 hour day of co-ops, capture the flag, play rehearsal and birthday shopping, we caught glimpse of our fox. He was sitting in the backyard, illuminated by the back porch light looking perfect. Reddish brown, alert, fluffed out in the cool air. We caught eyes and then he sauntered off. He is a constant around here. In the spring and summer, he strolls through our yard each day at around the same time (he has a route and schedule). We have missed him the last few winter months, but it looks like the wheel has turned and he is back.

April is national poetry month and its return each spring is something I anticipate. We read poetry all year round, but the idea of a month devoted to it seems luxurious. To make the month easier for me (and you) I created Poetry Jam, a simple and direct lab. Each day for the entire month, poet jammers receive a poem, essay, or project. I want you to be able to lay in bed, check your email and read something gorgeous, poignant, empowering and even passionately angering each morning. I love collecting the poems as I slowly build my own familiarity with poets, new and old.

I hope you will join us and give this little practice a try.

Poetry Jam starts in a 2 days (the welcome letter goes out tomorrow).

You can join here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

is being online hampering your creative expression?

The NYT Magazine's On Technology essay by Jenna Wortham this week speaks to much of what I (and I suspect my friends) have been thinking about lately. How can wide freedom of creativity and connectedness happen online? And in what ways does the very fact of it being online limit the conversation?





“The internet should be a place with no rules, and freedom, but it’s not,” PiƱero said. “There is a certain pressure to conform to certain aesthetics.” It was something I had noticed myself. Each social-media platform tends to reward certain behaviors and styles of posting, all in the interest of building fans and followers who are invested in the performance of a persona (maybe even more so than the Geppetto-like person orchestrating it all). Instagram is a place for intimate-seeming photos, Twitter for clever quips and collaborative memes. Facebook demands an unmitigated rawness that can be terrifying at times. With all, the works are often made to fit the platform, not the other way around.


read the article here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

{idea} minivan movie house



We spend a lot of time in the car. Driving from class to class, often 30-60 minutes in each direction. I don't mind because we have a very comfortable, safe car, I love watching the scenery change through the seasons and my kids are involved in some unique and amazing activities.

Many homeschool parents love the time they spend in the car with their kids and use it as time to chat. We do that, but to be honest, it is really hard for me to concentrate on the road and converse with three kids at the same time. Listening to music is good, but there tends to be too much DJ'ing and lively discussion over each song and which is next.

We have a DVD player that came installed in our car, something I never thought I would embrace. We use it to watch movies on our 20+ hour trips up and down the eastern seaboard (CT -> FL -> CT) but have tended not to use it in day to day life too much.

I recently did a time audit with Merrick Weaver as part of her online class "Leadership of Homemaking." From it, I decided to reclaim our time on the road and created the:

Minivan Movie House. 

On trips over 30 minutes on the interstate the movie house is open. We watch all the documentaries, foreign and classic films that I think are an internal part of a well rounded education but might not make it on to the roster for family movie night. We watch films that directly connect with the classes they are taking or nascent individual interests. The films are calm, sometimes deeply moving, and allow me to drive safely. The upside is that I get to listen too, which I enjoy.

Some recent favorites:

The Hobart Shakespeareans
Dancing Across Borders
The Tempest
various Basil Rathbone's  Sherlock Holmes films
Resolved
The Eagle Huntress
Vitus
Our Little Sister
Boy & the World
The complete Daria and Dilbert series
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
Monkey Kingdom
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet 
Monsieur Huglot's Holiday
Frontrunners
The French Chef with Julia Child
any American Experience 

How do you reclaim time spent in the car? Share in the comments or drop me a line.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

{teen book club} The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of Nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that the there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. 

A. Frank, 1944

The Unborn by Anselm Keifer, 2001. 

Some of us got to discuss this work (which is huge, metal, and looks like a family tree made of bone and tiny sewn clothes) at our monthly art tour. It provided a powerful connection to Frank's diary and asked the horrific question, "What do we lose when we persecute? Who is unborn because of hatred, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny...


One of the things we have missed the most in our relocation from Florida to Connecticut is our book club (and writers' workshop). After searching for one, we decided to create our own. A few weeks ago,  we had our first meeting. Nine t(w)eens and I met in a coffee shop and discussed Anne Frank's diary.

We talked about our initial reactions to the book, what we liked, what confused us, what was surprising and what frustrated us. We wondered what Anne's reaction would have been to the publication of her diary. We tracked her maturation over the years she was hidden. We marveled at the descriptions of food and birthday gifts. And we (I, especially) thought about her deeply problematic relationship with her mother.

The most compelling part of our discussion was when we put ourselves in the shoes of the people who helped hide the families. I expected everyone to step and proclaim that they too would have been a hero and against all odds, would have sheltered refugees. But, truthfully, we all wondered if we really would. Would we put our own families safety at risk? Would we help in other ways? Would we even fully understand what was going on around us? How brave would we be?  I wonder if that level of honesty has to do with our current political environment? We are living in a riotous time of socio-political upset. A time of heightened nationalism, the closing of borders and rampant scapegoating and hateful rhetoric. Many had personal connections, involvement, and opinions of the themes of the book.

I appreciated discussing the book and its issues with such smart, well read and individually minded teens. Next month, 1984 by George Orwell. I am looking forward to expanding my mind with this group!

Do you have a book club for kids or teens? Leave a comment or drop me a line - I would love to pick your brain and share resources.






Sunday, January 15, 2017

Story Well



 
Story Well is a month long, online exploration of the stories that shape(d) us. Through daily emails we will write from memory and create fiction, we will do impromptu art making (nothing to buy ahead of time!), we will share books and poems and ideas to nourish and aggravate our souls, we will bear witness to each other and we will reconnect with the our radical, story sharing selves.

Throughout February we will consider:

     The stories we were told - think of it as your own book of myths + legends

     The stories we create from our experiences - an on going atlas of your life's adventures

     The stories we are writing (and consuming) right now. 


By dipping into the story well, we can:

- Become better listeners to those around us, we can stop fighting with facts, positions and maneuvering and get back to the radical power of story and human connection.

- Gain agency to our own story. This is ongoing work. It never ends. When we stop being present to the work of cultivating our own tales, outside cultural influences creep in and co-opt them, Their stories easily web your stories. It is nearly parasitic ----->
  
- We expand our capability for empathy and greater understanding of the complexity of the human condition.

Since I read the book Writing a Women's Life by Carolyn Heilbrun in college, I knew that we understand the world as much through stories as anything else. She writes:

"What matters is that lives do not serve as models; only stories do. And it is a hard thing to make up stories to live by. We can only retell and live by the stories we have heard or read. We live our lives through texts. The may be read, or chanted, or experienced electronically, or come to us, like the murmuring of our mothers, telling us what conventions demand. Whatever their form or medium, these stories have formed us all; they are what we must use to make new fictions, new narratives."

I hope you will join us in individuating your own narrative.

Join here.

xo,
Amy
 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

story well :: circle up now


In just a few weeks, a brand new lab will begin! Story Well is an updated version of the Book About Me labs I have been running for the past several years. 

The content is all new and builds nicely on previous sessions (although if you have not taken a lab before you are starting at just the right place!). 

We will spend the month recovering the stories that shaped our socio-political world views, thinking about being lost (and learning to create maps out), writing both from our own life and other's memories, and so much more. 

There will be giveaways, great book recommendations, and guest posts from some of the wisest women I know. 

The time to sign up is now! And I am inviting each participant to being a friend! Just leave their name and email in the comments section when you check out and they are in too! 

And we will be donating 10% of the sales to V-Day a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls! Your art will benefit your own soul, your family, and the wider community!

Let's write a new world this winter! Together!

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