Of Note, Thoughts on Solitude by Musician Andrew Bird

I heard this phrase today about finding ourselves in solitude by musician Andrew Bird on the Meditative Story podcast:

“When we go to a place where we can actually hear ourselves, we hear what is speaking to us, what is around us. And if we can hear it, then we can make it sing.”

As someone who thinks best when I am by my lonesome, this resonates. How are you finding time in this unusual season to listen to yourself?

New In the Shop: Art Prints by Lily Uoka Studios

I’m excited to introduce the work of Lily Uoka (short for Uokalania) in the Gather online shop. Lily lives and was raised in the Berkeley/Oakland area of California and though she was creative all her life, she only came to painting in her late twenties when a boring cubicle job pushed her towards a more creative outlet. It was then that she purchased her first paints and paintbrushes. Her mixed media art has a tropical, beachy feel and combines dried flowers, collage, paints, and gold leaf. Not only does she carefully select which blooms she will press to later use in her art, but she also mashes up different flowers to create pigment which also finds its way into her pieces.

I discovered Lily on instagram and approached her about having some of her prints in the shop. I love the multi-dimensional aspects of her pieces, the focus on women and flowers, as well as her color palette.

Since Lily is relatively new to selling her work and in selling it to stores I hope you will consider supporting this venture by purchasing one of the prints from the Gather shop below.

Interior Inspiration: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

I want to curl up in any of these beautifully designed spaces by Portland, Oregon based interior design firm Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. All their spaces are elegant, simple and cozy. You can follow Jessica Helgerson Interior Design on instagram and see more work at her studio’s website here.

In addition to stunning home interiors, the firm also creates gorgeous commercial interior spaces as well. They curate an art gallery in the front of their studio offices called Front of House which invites collaborations from artists to create site specific pieces to display within the space such as this one by artist Saree Silverman and the studio heads up The One Percent Project an initiative to inspire Portland, Oregon based businesses to donate 1% (or more) of their profits to non-profits dedicated to issues related to homelessness. So inspiring, on all levels.

Photography via: Aaron Leitz, Matthew Williams, Jeremy Bitterman & JHInteriorDesign

These Days

These days I’m often thinking in the back of my head: “what’s working, what’s not”? I’m also leaning into a lot of grace for myself and the world around me. I’ve learned that when my daughter isn’t in school (virtual or in-person – though we are squarely in the virtual camp) that it is somewhat fruitless to expect myself to be fully present to my business, to my own needs. One can’t be all things to all people after all. Energy is a precious commodity and one that I have learned over time is best expended in the ways it is flowing, which this summer and the many months at home before that, means being more present in my daily life and less to everything else. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. This intense season will pass, I am sure of it. Though it feels really uncomfortable to be in the muck to my knees, I know that I have to walk through it to get to the other side. 

All around me the world feels like it is cracking wide open and revealing deep fissures all the way to its core. It’s overwhelming. It’s intense. Seeing so many people making such wildly different moral decisions in the face of so much change is also disconcerting. It can have the effect of feeling intensely disillusioned and sad. And at the same time, so many people are experiencing such deep pain, trauma and change. And so, what can I do but focus inward, to try to create a calm and stable home for my daughter, for my family, for myself, so that we can be more present, more available, more able to respond to the many crises around us. So that we can give ourselves when needed, so that we can fight for what feels imperative and crucial and necessary and broken around us.

So, all this to say, I am definitely dropping the ball. I am definitely not responding to emails quickly (or at all), I am behind on everything, things are falling through those cracks that are emerging but also I am holding on through that imperfection. I am watching the world fall away below my feet, and yet strangely and at the same time I feel grounded, the world is currently a dichotomy of itself. I feel empowered and resigned, I feel both tired and curious to consider something new. It’s all a swirling miasma of feeling, of processing, of pausing to wait and see where the chips fall but also just putting one foot in front of the other to move forward, even if at a snail’s pace.

I am currently sitting in a room at the back of my house that serves as both our dining area and a place to curl up and read. In it there is a folded up exercise bike, a cat that is snoozing at my feet, a ficus that has seen better days, jars full of plants being propagated in my windowsills, walls that are half painted white and half painted another color. This is my new workstation as my daughter works on the computer nearby practicing Spanish on duolingo. I try to carve out time to do something, to do anything, but with the limited time that I have (we try to limit her tech time too) it feels fruitless to pore into anything in a major way. And yet, I still am, just differently.

And now it is her daily “tech time” where for an hour and a half she texts her friends, watches a show, plays a video game. The house is blissfully quiet, there is no one demanding my attention. The most obvious thing is to dedicate myself to this, into work, into making that coveted progress, and yet, I have learned that the most valuable thing to do during this time is to be still, to read, to meditate, to just be, because otherwise, when would I? When could I?

So I leave you with this, a half-finished essay. Some thoughts that may not be fully strung together but thoughts nonetheless. I know many of you out there are feeling the same. I think it’s going to be okay but also it’s deeply not okay. We can get through this together but alone, if we just hold on and let go at the same time.