Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12: New food

December 12 New food. You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.

Not a new food, but a new restaurant.

I have several places I like to eat, though we don't eat out very often. My newest fave is "The Noodle House" in Asheville. Reasonable prices, fresh and interesting dishes, lots of choices without the ingredient that goes through rigor mortis first.

Sierra and I had a day in Asheville to ourselves recently. The Noodle House is a very small corner restaurant, snugged into a busy street. We blew in to an empty space, a warm haven from the cold and by the time we left it was packed with fellow travelers. The tofu is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the plum sauce is pure perfection and the soups warm you to the toes of your soul. Yum........

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11: The best place

December 11 The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?


Malaprop's where I can get a real, ceramic mug of refillable, super-yummy coffee. Malaprop's where there are cozy corners to hide and read. Malaprop's where anti-Walmart stickers and other anti-establishment type posters abound. Malaprop's where the staff are as diverse as the customers, it's warm and inviting, they host many local authors (like Patti Digh!!) and I feel my spirit relax into the flow of books and conversation.

Yes, yes....Malaprop's is my favorite hide-out as of late.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10: Album of the year

December 10 Album of the year: What's rocking your world?

At first, I was thinking that I should pick something that was released this year....but then I realized the challenge is simply asking what rocked my world this year. So I go back to Bright Eyes. Again and again I listen to "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning". It inspires art and words and helps me deal with internal angst in ways nothing else can. Thank you Conor Oberst.

I feel understood,

Now I’m hunched over a typewriter
I guess you call that painting in a cave

I've found a kindred spirit,

I’ve been sleeping so strange at night
Side effects they don’t advertise
I’ve been sleeping so strange
With a head full of pesticide

and all my frustration with the world is captured oh, so, well.

But greed is a bottomless pit

And our freedom’s a joke
We’re just taking a piss
And the whole world must watch the sad comic display
If you’re still free start running away
Cause we’re coming for you!

Yes, even with James and U2 and Amy Steinberg and Tom Petty and David Bowie and Nirvana and even some Black Eyed Peas (and the list goes on and on)....I still find myself reaching for Bright Eyes most frequently. The last CD I got was at Christmas time, their new release for 2007 was Cassadega and I remember listening to it and thinking "Wow, Bright Eyes grew up". :)

There's still nothing quite like the folksy, haunting sound of Emmy Lou Harris backing up Conor;

We are nowhere, and it’s now
You took a ten-minute dream in the passengers seat
While the world it was flying by
I haven’t been gone very long
But it feels like a lifetime

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

December 9: Challenge.

December 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

There are many things I could write about here, but I'm going to keep this simple and not delve into the difficult how I'm still learning to let go of people who are willing to use me or my talents and not be honest or decent. How I tend to assume the best in people and believe their words even when their actions don't back up the words. But I won't....

Because a really fun thing that helped me grow so much as an artist this year is body painting. I've done several shoots now and helped put together a very successful body art show. I love creating art on the human canvas and as my confidence grows, so do my ideas and abilities.

Look out 2010! You are my year.....

December 8: Moment of peace

December 8 Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

A moment of peace is a great way to describe how I get centered. Because I'm not the most peaceful person.....I thrive on energy, on movement and being busy and having several projects at once. Though peace can be found in the busyness as I've learned.

I find peace in my children's play, in the way they interact and find joy in their own lives. As the observer of their living and learning I find many moments of reflection and peace, a Zen state of mind and an awareness of my own connections in those moments.

I find peace in cozy bookstores corners, alone and with others. Quiet books and sips of coffee are a good place for peace to reside.

I find it in my drives to Asheville as I go up and over the mountains, in and out of sunshine and clouds, through memories and dreams.

I find peace in the documentation of life, in my writing, art and photography. I love to see life through different lenses and try to capture moods, ideas and moments. That is my practice, that is my constant and my moments of peace.

Monday, December 07, 2009

December 7: Blog find of the year

December 7 Blog find of the year: That gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

I can't really write about this without mentioning Patti Digh's 37 Days blog, even though I found it three years ago. I began my online relationship with her blog in '06, and spoke with her about death and the ongoing relationship of those who are no longer with us. In Forever Hold Your Penguin Dear she touched me deeply and I responded with my own blog about death and the dying process; On Living and Dying.

I don't have much time to keep up with blogs anymore. I love blogs and posting to my own but with work and other distractions I don't get to sit and read enough.

I'm going to give kudos to my friend Frank's blog, "Blog of the Zombie Princess" because he's funny and cynical (traits I admire) and smart and he has a really, really awesome family who are every bit as lovely as he and he's doing this damn December challenge with me. That's all. OH, and his blog is named after their ship which was harbored in N'awlins for some time. They understand the South and the Gulf and hurricane season and for that alone I have an affinity for them.

Correction: Ronnie's (Frank's witty and lovely wife) blog is "Blog of the Zombie Princess" and Frank's is "Singularity".

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December 6: Workshop or conference

December 6 Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

Life is Good in Vancouver Washington, where I both attended and presented. I learn so much every time I get together with other unschoolers, not from the talks so much but from being present with the children and from discussions that flow around and through and over me.

My children continually help me learn how to stay present, stay connected even in the difficult moments. At conferences there is a lot of noise, fun and spontaneous ideas that swirl up. There are also overwhelmed people and negotiating and trying to simultaneously meet a variety of needs. It's not easy at times.

Being around other unschoolers helps me examine things more deeply, go beyond the surface and not rely on the tools I learned growing up. At Life is Good I got to listen to my nephew (who has chosen school) speak for the first time publicly. As the person who first encouraged my sis to look beyond school it warmed my heart to hear him share his journey as an unschooler. I learned more about him as a young man choosing his path, sharing his ideas.

I learn from watching the teens interact, share their stories and talk about their parents. I learn from the parents sharing their fears and talk about their children. I learn about myself and the depths to which I can grow as a parent. I love being around groups of unschoolers for these and many other reasons.

I also learn that I get overwhelmed easily at these events, that I sometimes try too hard and don't know when to hide. I am reminded that connecting to my own needs is important too....and that my children need me more than the rest of the world ever could. :)

Life IS good!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

December 4: Book

December 4 Book. What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

Last year, I was sitting outside of Malaprops waiting for friends. It was post-Live and Learn conference and we were hanging out with people, wandering Asheville and having fun. I sat in front, pondering some deep things about life and relationships and other unmentionable things when I looked straight into the front window of the book store.

There it was. Patti Digh's "Life is a Verb" on display right up front. The cover was artful and everything I thought it would be. I had read her lovely blog for a while and knew there was a book coming, but something about the timing and seeing it there in front of me was like a very loud message to my heart.

I sat in front of Malaprops and started to cry. It was bringing up all these feelings about my own writing and having ignored too many dreams for too long. It was a wake-up call before I even opened a page.

Later, Patti came to our ARGH gathering at Roan Mountain in March and I finally bought the book. It's full of wisdom and inspiration, art and colorful, heartfelt stories. After her reading and signing at Roan mountain I came home and blogged about things it stirred up.

I've purchased copies for two of my sisters and one for a stranger. I don't know who that stranger is and I'll probably never know....I just asked the folks at Malaprops to give it to the next person who asked about her book. I hope they love it as much as I do.:) I've got more copies to give away, it's just that kind of book.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December 3: Article

December 3
Article. What's an article that you read that blew you away? That you shared with all your friends. That you Delicious'd and reference throughout the year.

Not one article, but several by the same person. Peter Gray is quite brilliant if you ask me (and come to think of it, you DID) and he's written so many great articles now, I don't even know which one I love the most. His blog, Freedom to Learn is even close to the name of one of my other blogs.

Seven Sins of Our System of Forced Education is one of the top, but go check them all out. He's a psychologist and truly interested in how children learn naturally and the importance of play, topics near and dear to my own heart.

Speaking of which, I've been posting my old articles written for Connections Ezine over at my Learning in Freedom blog.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

December 2: Restaurant moment

It started with noise and running amuck on the streets...shadowy memories following us under the streetlight's glare.

And ended at Mid-City grill in warmth of kindred spirits, happy children and an endless stream of food.

~~December 2 Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?~~

There was a night of visiting friends in September. The Traaseth's had come up from Georgia and we met up with lots of other friends down at First Friday in Johnson City. After traipsing around downtown, laughing, talking, wandering in and out of art and music, some of us headed for Mid-City grill.

This is a late-night place. An artsy, eclectic gathering place that opens at 11pm and stays open all night. They have a casual, yet inspirational menu; things like deconstructed veggie burgers, handmade fries and ample flavors of cheesecake.

There were three families in all (Traaseth, Bowman and Allen), eight children and six adults that expanded over two tables. I remember laughing so hard my gut ached. When they brought the $3.50 plate of fries we all just about keeled over. It was a dinner plate (large one at that) mounded high with fries. Enough for, oh, about FIVE people.

What is joy? A group of people who have bonded together like family. Children who adore each other and sit at a table of mounded, late-night fries, smiling at one another's humor and helping each other when challenges arise. Joy you say? Crass jokes and smart-ass comments, off-beat humor and intimate stories. Food shared and discussed, plans made and re-made. Friends like family....eating cheesecake at midnight.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Best of '09: Dec. 1st

Ren, posing with Richard Kind at "Night of 100 Stars" in the famous Beverly Hills Hotel.

I signed up for Gwen Bell's "The Best of 2009" challenge today. I'll be picking and choosing which prompts I want to answer...we'll see how many ways I can summarize 2009 before it's over. :)

Today's prompt: December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

Without a doubt it was my trip to Hollywood on Oscar weekend in February! Not that it was all glamorous and fun but there were so many cool things that came of it and great memories we brought home. I wrote about some if it over at my Learning in Freedom blog so I'm not going to write about it again. Just go check out "My Big Fat Hollywood Weekend" post if you care.