Burning the old year

Some things will never be the same…

Like mixed tapes for instance. They, whoever they are, can try to bring them back with their deep desire for nostalgia, but we all know how ridiculous they really are. You have to take the cassette out of its trendy little sony walkman or the vintage tape player that your mom pulled out from the back of her closet, and flip it over for five, maybe six more songs until you have to flip it again. Not to mention that the majority of the time it’s all the same artist you have to listen to unless say it’s a soundtrack or worse, “best of” mix. Then there’s fast-forwarding and rewinding if a song is one you love/hate. If you lived during the time period when cassettes or cd’s or even 8tracks were THE thing then you know how amazing Spotify or other music sources are. The amount of music available is astounding, if not overwhelming. I cannot even imagine being a passionate teenager fueled by music nowadays. I’d feel so overwhelmed by the vastness of choices. How could I ever really get to know an artist like I did Janet Jackson or the Cure when there are so many artists to listen to? Back in my day (read in a deep grandfather, “I told you so” voice) I spent all my money on music, pickles, grab bags, and candy. I was a strange kid. I’d ride my bicycle for miles to the record store (it was still called that then even though very few records were sold, if any.) and spend an hour or more trying to decide how to spend the ten dollars I had. The new R.E.M. tape? or new Maxwell blank tapes to make my friends mixes? or risk it all on a new to me artist like Dinosaur Jr? Life was simple. Less was all we had and we didn’t know any different. The cereal aisle at the grocery store was tiny, colored television was still amazing, and the world felt huge.

From the 1990’s Fast forward to 2018 I am thinking about the mixed tape now called a playlist that I would make for my friends to say goodbye to 2018 and the mix I would make to welcome the new year.

The first song that comes to mind when I think of 2018:

Goodbye Stranger. From there I will leave you the mix I put together that sums up how I feel about 2018 and the playlist for the start of 2019!

What song would best sum up 2018 for you? What song do you want to lead you into 2019? I am still looking/listening for my 2019 song.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year filled with whatever you need to feel your best.

While I’ve never ever been big on New Year’s resolutions or a “word” to guide me through the new year, this year I am making a list of things I want to focus on, call them resolutions or whatever you want to call them, I feel like I need the guidance more than ever this year. I need to make this a good year and I know I am responsible for trying my best to do so, starting with a list, however cliché it might be. Sometimes we get to a point in life (I am picturing my life as a GPS map with a pinpoint to where I am) where we need guidance. That’s where I am, standing here, list in hand, looking up to whoever is in control of my navigation system and saying “help me”. Guide me. Guide me through creating more structure in my days, through meditation, art, photography, eating better, shutting up more, listening, reading, being present, and however else you can guide me to get me out of this rut that I feel stuck in.

Everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that’s the only time everything will be okay.” - Michael Singer

from the untethered soul - which I am reading and loving. I plan on starting it over as soon as I finish the few chapters I have left.

In other news… In case you didn’t know, I do have a new workshop starting very, very soon.

I will post a new lesson each day for 30 days to get your inspired. Here’s to starting the new year off right! :) 30 days. 30 lessons. 30 minutes each day.

My past workshops are still available for another year, some at half price.

After this workshop I hope/plan to do a couple other new and fun things that I will share with you as soon as they are a little further in the works.

Burning the Old Year


Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,

transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

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fast or far

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” 
― African Proverb


first a long pause, as I think about that.

If you want to go fast, go alone.  

If you want to go far, go with others.  

I've always been on the side of going fast, mostly alone.  Not really by choice, at least I don't think it was.  I didn't deliberately decide to go it alone, I guess it just felt easier somehow, not to drag anyone along with me.  At least until I met my husband.  :) 

Makes me think of another quote...  "'let go, or be dragged" - zen proverb


so.  I guess if you are going to go far, with others, you shouldn't drag or let anyone drag you along?   This reminds me of when I was about 7 years old and taking my swimming test to pass to the next level.  The test was to tread water in the deep end of the pool for five minutes.  Two students went at the same time.  It was me and another girl, I don't remember her name, I just remember that she didn't tread water, she clung to me, while I tread water for both of us.  I was too shy to do or say anything, so I just fought to keep us both above water.  This seems to be a recurring lesson in my life.  

If you want to go far, go with others. 

Others.   Exactly how many is others?  


Growing up as an only child with young parents it was just us.  Rarely were there others. I had my family and a handful of close friends, but less was always more to me when it came to "others".   Now,  as India prepares to leave for college and Kevin and Jade decide on what project they are going to work on, and my teaching events are few and far between, I wonder, where are the others?   

They are there. I know this.  They've always been there, I've just been quietly keeping busy, not in vain, but in an honest attempt to be present in the life I am in.  There are only so many hours in the day and many of mine are spent taking care of someone or something.  But I can feel the change coming, the time when I am going to need others to go any further is approaching. 

 It's knowing this that makes me feel like there's a piece of tracing paper protecting my heart. 

I suppose it's time for me to figure my life out again.  That's what I have been thinking about. 

In my ongoing, never-ending mission to downsize our stuff I was going through more "stuff" and found a faded newspaper clipping from when I graduated high school, the obligatory senior picture and a brief statement summarizing what I planned on doing with the rest of my life.  An art major with, a minor in environmental science.  oh yeah, I forgot about that part of me.  What happened to that part of me?  The me that made Greenpeace posters when I was in jr. high and put as many as I could afford to print all over my little town.  The me that spent hours climbing trees and exploring the acres of woods behind my house.  The me that loved being in nature almost as much as making art.    I wonder, had I studied environmental science and actually finished college, where/who would I be?   Probably working in an office, somewhere, dreaming about being an artist. 


Maybe that's my problem.  One of them.  Always dreaming about what I am not.   When I was a potter,  I wanted to be a painter.  Now a painter I want to be a potter again.   It's not really a problem, more of an internal restlessness.  And it's not like I can't be both.  Due to age, I've given up my dreams of being a professional dancer but still think about going to culinary school or studying under a master potter in Japan. I think of the artist, writer, and potter, Beatrice Wood, living to be 105 years with the last 25 years of her life being the most productive.  

"Do be true to yourself, whether it's bad doesn't matter. The important thing - you have to copy while you're studying. And culture is - each of us - is like one pearl added to another to make a chain. We each contribute to the other. And that's all right. But once you're on your own, do that which comes from within. And I feel this very strongly."   -Beatrice Wood



so let me summarize...

If you want to go fast, go alone.  it will be easier, but lonely. 

If you want to go far, go with others, but don't' drag or be dragged. 

Always be authentic and do what comes from within...

and keep dreaming.  always!  

Over the summer Kevin and Jade finished my clay studio!  Look at this transformation!  Pretty amazing!  It even has air conditioning, something our house does not have.  I am loving it so much and cannot wait to spend more time working there.  


How lovely are these croissants that my son made from scratch?  By far the best I've ever had!  All 24 were gone in less than a day.   I love that he loves to bake, who knows, maybe he'll go to culinary school and be a famous chef. a mama can dream.  ;)    The dishes are all ones I made and the matcha is my favorite.  You can get it here.  

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untying the knots

 I decided back in the early summer that I was going to take at least one photo, if not many photos a day and post them on my blog.  It was all a ploy to get me to show up to my blog more, to get back to a routine of sorts, a feeble attempt to reach out more, like I used to back in the good ol' days when blogging was the coolest thing yet, circa 2003, before FB monopolized the lives and minds of the majority. It worked for a few months and then... nothing.  Nothing at all.  I have zero photos on my camera card right now and not one ounce of desire to even pick my camera up in order to stock up.  Where did the drive/desire go?  It was so strong all the way up until the drought.  I don't know where it went, but for now it's gone.  But I still have this feeling of wanting to show up, without images,  I am left with words.  It's a whole lot easier to hide behind photos than it is words, I will tell you that.  I can take a photo and it can sort of let you in on how I am feeling, but there's that vague sense of translation that I love about a photo, what it feels like to me might not be what it feels like to you.  Words though, they're not always so vague. As the knots in my stomach tighten, I am going to try my best to carry on.  One word at a time.  

I honestly cannot remember that last time I wrote a blog post from my heart.  I know I have done a few here and there since I switched from typepad (a site designed pretty much for blogging) to a website (something that's suppose to be all fancy and professional).  Perhaps that was what put a halt to my blogging, at least it's an excuse I can drag along with me.  Another excuse is that I constantly relied on my other half to edit my posts, in case, God forbid, I put a comma where it shouldn't be, used hear instead of here, and all other grammatical errors that may spontaneously occur when my fingers start moving around the keyboard.  However, relying on anyone to do something that don't really want to do can be a real pain in the ass.  So. I am letting that excuse go, and saying screw it, hello grammatical errors!   You aren't really welcome here, but hey, that's what I get for not paying attention in english class.  Doodling and daydreaming was so much more interesting than prepositions, possessive pronouns, and dangling modifiers. Who really cares about this kind of stuff anyhow and what the hell is a dangling modifier?   I have no idea, but I feel it might make a great drawing.  Seriously though, in 7+ billion years from now, when the earth is no longer in orbit, NONE of this is going to mean a thing.  Think about that.  Heck in a 100 + years  will any of this mean anything. Where will all my stuff be?  In 100 + years all of our possessions will be someone else's possessions.  I like to think about that kind of stuff.  Who will posses all my books, cameras, knick-knacks?  (oh, those words.  knick-knacks gives me the Heebiejeebies)  I love to think about the items I have that were once someone else's.  The lives they witnessed.  What kind of pictures did my 450 Automatic Land Polaroid camera take before it ended up in my hands?  

So, anyhow.  long intro. no photos. no in house editor.  no excuses.  Here I am. 

Where to begin.  So what should I write about? I had all these ideas earlier... now.... silence.  Some mornings while I am in the woods, walking my dog, I have the best ideas.  I've written best selling children's books,  Oscar winning screenplays, and really interesting blog posts... all on my walk, but as soon as I get home the ideas vanish.  poof. gone. 

I feel like I just got all my scrabble pieces and they are all blank. All seven of them.  Nothing to go on here, just little blank squares of wood, having to come up with my own letters to form words that form sentences that come from somewhere in my mind.  Meanwhile, I try to abstain from chewing off all my fingernails while I think about that.  

I feel like as soon as I start writing it's going to be a flood of words, all pouring out of me like the levee broke.  All the words, thoughts, feelings from the past however many years it's been since I've been blogging are going to spill out all at once, creating a big mess that needs cleaned up.  Oh well.  Word flood or bust.  In all honesty, I feel like I need to write in order to purge my thoughts.  I have been holding them captive for so long now that I feel like they are becoming toxic to my mind and body.  I will talk more about that as I purge.  

If you know me you know that it's been over two years now since my family and I moved back to Virginia.  We had to move out of Virginia a year before because my husband's job moved to Connecticut, where he was offered the same job.  At the same time he was also offered a from Apple in Cupertino, as well as another job from some shitty company in Pittsburgh.  Although we didn't want to move from our idyllic country home that we had just moved in to the year before, we didn't see any other option. While the idea of moving to California sounded amazing and life changing we were cowards.  Feeling a bit like two small town kids, terrified of being forced to grow up in a big city,  not to mention schlepping all our stuff and knick-knacks across the continent with our children and pets.  With our tails between our legs we took the easiest route to our future and moved to Pittsburgh, closer to where we grew up and where our families live.   For a whole year we made the best of it, we really did, even if it felt like everything was flipped upside down for that time.   Fast forward, we finally found a way to move back to our house in Virginia and we did.  This is where I tell you "you can't go back home again".  Everything changes, with or without you.  Sometimes, I like to think about my grandma coming back to life, wondering what she would think about how things have changed so much since she was alive, and yet some things are still the same.  I think she would be happy to know wheel of fortune is still on... it is, right?    

Moving back here was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  A lot!  I thought all our friends here would have missed us more than they did (expectations suck the life from everything), I thought I would be happier somehow, I thought life would be easier, I thought wrong.  It's not that it's horrible, it's not that our friends are great, it's not that we aren't trying to make life wonderful, it's just that it's not the same as it was.  I am not the same, my children aren't the same, the whole experience, along with time changed us.  My children are older and getting older by the second, approaching college, growing into adults. We got a dog. We didn't have health insurance. Our cat died.  My son's hedgehog died. My closest friend dumped me. I started having strange health issues.  My parent's wanted a divorce. My Father -in -law died.  Everything felt less than. I don't know how else to explain it. 

It's funny how you find yourself missing the things you used to hate, or at least you thought you hated. 

My dad used to be afraid to drive across bridges.  He started having panic attacks when he was about my age.  I remember thinking "what's the big deal, just calm down".   Ha!  Yeah, now I know differently.  You can't "just calm down" from anxiety, it's not that easy.  Obviously, there are millions of videos, books, pills to try and help you to calm down, but reality is... it's not that easy.  Ever since I was a child I worried a lot about everything, but mostly I worried daily about our house burning down, and about my parents dying.  Those two things, in addition to many other minor worries, scared me into praying every single night, even though my family wasn't religious.  Sometimes when I wake in the middle of the night and have irrational fears I say the same prayer I made up as a child to clam myself down.  But I never thought I would have anxiety, despite my worries I always felt like my life was calm and under control and that I could handle things as they came.  Then I choked.  Literally, I choked on my own spit while chewing on a ginger chew.   Just writing that out made my whole body go cold.  If you've ever choked on anything or almost drowned, you know how scary and awful it feels.   I "recovered" and no big deal...wasn't how I felt.  From there I started having Laryngospasms, where you feel like you are choking on air.  I also had and still have pain under my right rib cage.  I went to many doctors, had all the allergy tests, had a $500+ pulmonary function test, had a camera shoved up my nose by an arrogant ENT that acted like I was wasting his time, and had a panic attack in the Dr. office with no concern from the Dr. at all.  I felt like I was dying and kind of wanted to at that moment.  Then another Doctor finally diagnosed me with GERD and told me to take some toxic purple antacid pill for 4 months to reduce the acid in my stomach.  Um.  NO!  I am not taking that.  I eat a vegan diet.  I exercise daily. I quit drinking coffee. I quit eating nightshades. I stopped drinking wine. I quit eating garlic and spicy foods.   I quit everything that potentially could make me feel like I might have another tickle in my throat that would cause a laryngospasms.  I don't know if any of those things helped, but  while I still have other symptoms, I haven't had a spasm in a while.  knock on wood.  But I still can't stop thinking about it.  Every night at dinner I worry I might choke.  I feel the anxiety seeping in as I set the table.  I can even feel the anxiety wrapping around my family at times, as they look at me, trying to carefully swallow every bite.  Sometimes it's with me the whole day.  What if.  What if.  What if.  I just want to roll into a ball and cry myself to sleep until it goes away.  Not that easy.   Maybe I should just start smoking and eating microwave food and cussing all the time... this life of eating farro and kale, drinking green tea, and minding my manners isn't doing wonders for me. :) 

To keep things even more interesting, my daughter has a pilonidal cyst that developed when she did crew, two weeks ago it flared up into an infection.  Last week she passed out in our kitchen.  THANK GOD I was home.  I had just gotten home from walking our dog, she had just woken up and come downstairs.  What if. What if. What if.   As I was making her tea and toast she said she felt a lot of pain and felt weird.  I hugged her and she passed out in my arms.  I called 911 and tried to call my husband (over and over and over again with no avail) but he was in a meeting and didn't have his phone. Typical. My daughter and I then took a first class ride in the ambulance to the ER, where they lanced it and we were sent home with more anxiety.  Meanwhile life carries on.  We meet again with the pediatric surgeon, for the third time, in two weeks to talk again about surgery.  

My art life seems to have taken a back seat or all of this.  I don't really even know what I want to do.  Pottery?  Paint?  Teach?  I tried to ask my son's magic 8 ball, but the letters have worn off and I couldn't make out what it said...no matter how violently I shook it.  I now have a pretty nice pottery studio to make pots in, and there are even boxes of clay patiently waiting for me, but I don't feel inspired.  I have new paints to try out, I have a commission to work on, and I need to make an income to help pay our bills and keep us from going back into debt.   I know it could be so much worse.  I know that.  I know that very well.  I have been in darker places in my life.  But I feel so frustrated with myself, with everything.  So. In efforts to make things feel better, because really, I know that's all it all is... feelings.   Good/Bad feelings.   How we feel effects so much, if not everything... so I am working on my feelings. Mostly trying to neutralize them if anything else.  I know for me happiness is just keeping busy doing things I love, but right now I don't know what those things are.   I have started a meditation practice.  I have meditated in the past, but only during yoga.  I  am using the Insight Timer app, which is so amazing.  If you have read all of this and take away just one thing with you today...let it be this app.  First of all, it's free.  FREE, like "hey, I want to help you out... no strings attached" FREE!  Kind of like how I feel the medical world should be...instead of take this drug, and this drug, and this drug and this test and this test, it might not help you...actually it will make you feel worse, but GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY!  I digress.  The app is such a gift.  Thank you Insight Timer!  Every day I have been trying to do at least one meditation if not more.  I am on day 20.  It's helping little by little.  It calms me more than CALM.  I also have my little vial of Rescue Remedy nearby when I feel more out of control... I don't know if it really helps or it's placebo, but it helps, as well as these vitamin B pills.  I also love essential oils in my diffuser to chill me out a bit.  Other than that... I get outside for a long walk each morning with my Moni Bear, I try to make some art everyday, even if not inspired, and I hug my children for as long as they'll let me. 

Now that I got all that out of the way... I'll be back with more words and maybe even some photos and who knows what.   Until then here are some soothing mixes.   

...and what's a blog post with a Mary Oliver poem or quote?  Particularly my favorite Mary Oliver poem,

Wild Geese.  

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Misty Mawn Comments