Lauren McLean Iuppa Ayer

Poet | Artist | Optimist

Category: Practice

Revenue and Reach

#DareToExcel Challenge – 10:

Define one specific experiment for growth and change for this month in revenue or reach.

This experiment can be related to the one small project. But this time I ask you to frame the experiment in these terms, If I did X, then would Y result? 

For instance:
If I wrote and published relevant content every week, would I feel better and reach # more people?

If I reached out to 3 people this month for possible connection or collaboration, would one of them lead to an exciting new venture? 

If my business focused less on _____ and more on ______, would this lead to more customers? 

If I wrote poetry with no imagery for a month, would I discover another way to write poems? (Okay, that last one was not related to reach or revenue, but I include its ilk as an option.)

My answer:

If I worked on one unfinished quilt daily, would I be able to give myself a little more financial breathing room by selling the finished quilts?

Quilting PandemonionAlthough my time this month has run too short to actually implement this experiment, I will begin next month:

  • Stitching daily
  • Posting finished quilts for sale to Facebook and this site
  • Anything that doesn’t sell will be held for sale at one or more of our local holiday craft fairs

Ideally I will make enough to skim a little money to spend on needles and thread.

Shift

Something has been shifting out here in the snowy southwest, and it all started with a picture. This picture, actually…

Dreaming

 

… a young girl asleep in the back seat of the family car with her best friend Smokey Bear, dreaming the beauty of a world to come. The first photo in a series that will grow to at least 365 images deep. Perhaps more.

But actually it started with this post from fellow Quester Marisa Goudy: How a 365 Photo Project Makes You a Better Writer.

I’d done a 365 project before, starting Koru365 in December 2010, when my dissatisfaction with working in corporate tech was reaching its crescendo. At that time I had already begun to plan my escape, but needed something to both inspire and anchor me during the transition. And it did. So I  already knew that a 365 project could change a life. And since I had been longing for a little positive change again lately, when I read her second article, The 365 Project as a Creative Process, on my friend Saundra Goldman’s wonderful site, Creative Mix, I knew it was time to give a new 365 project a go–posting a daily photo from my life and work to my Facebook page.

Only 13 days in I am already feeling a shift. So far my photos have revealed dreams, distractions, the artistic lines of words on paper, major blocks to creativity, the beauty of what’s outside my windows, and more. The process has returned my attention to the world I inhabit and what truly matters, as I consider what I want this chronicle to reveal about my life this time next year.

And it has done something else. As promised, it has gotten me writing consistently again–a feat supported by a second very simple 365 project I’m doing with two friends, in which we share one sentence we’ve written that day with each other. Knowing that they are waiting, that they are also writing, makes me want to share something beautiful with them. And so every morning for the last five days, I have written either a poem (sometimes more than one) and/or a page or two in a novel that I started but didn’t finish this past November.

One sentence, one photo doesn’t seem like much, and maybe that’s why it works. Because it is so simple, almost stupidly simple, to complete, we complete it. And sometimes we do more. Sometimes a lot more. But even if we don’t, over time, these small bricks, stacked one on top of the other, combine to build something extraordinary–a castle, a bridge, a cathedral. A body of work. A life.

What will your bricks build this year?

 

Meditations on Spring: Gardening as Practice

The main window in my casita looks out into the garden I share with my friend Kristin who lives in the larger house. Just in front of me, the apple tree’s garnet buds are beginning to unfold into blossoms the color of seashells. Along the far wall, the peach tree looks like a heavy pink cloud in a grey, New Mexico sky.

Spring is strange here–most days feel like it’s already summer, most nights, like the dead of February. Some days it’s 70. Some days it snows. The flowers in the garden–crocus and hyacinth–don’t seem to care. Spring is spring and the new season cannot be unborn.

In the spirit of all this burgeoning green, I’d like to share a post I wrote last year for The Liberated Life Project, an enlightening and empowering blog written by friend Maia Duerr. It’s called Gardening as Practice. With spring finally here and Easter tomorrow, it seems the perfect practice to resurrect, or begin anew, practices that feed our souls. Happy spring. Happy Easter. Enjoy.

Gardening as Practice

Gardening is my passion. It brings me joy and peace, a meditative practice, challenges and heartaches, a tangible way to help make a difference in the world.

Gardening is a sensory experience. It pulls you out of yourself and into the bigger picture. It teaches you about interdependence, about the cycles of life, and about the transitory nature of all things. Here is how the garden speaks to me, but it doesn’t matter whether you have a 300 square foot vegetable plot or a single African violet on a windowsill. Any one or all of these steps can work for you.

  1. Start with your eyes. Eat your breakfast or enjoy your afternoon tea looking out into your garden. Eat slowly, giving your mind time to settle into that green space. The longer you sit, the more you will notice – a newly forming flower bud, a suspect spot or curl of leaf, a lizard hiding under a branch, a bumble bee, the beginnings of a patch of weeds. Do nothing. Make no mental lists. Just notice the space and the details, small and large, within it.
  2. Walk outside. Chances are, after completing step one, you won’t be able to resist. The garden will call you to join it. But don’t succumb to the urge to get to work right away. Spend a moment just being with it. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Take in the lush green scent or sharp dryness. Notice the top notes – a blooming rose, the scent of warm herbs. Run your fingers across them if you like, taking their scent onto your skin. Notice then, the bottom notes – the smell of earth, warm flagstone, your compost pile. Embrace the rot. It is what keeps the cycle alive.
  3. Move in close and touch the leaves. Turn them over to see if anyone is hiding there. Feel the texture of flower petals, of rough bark, of fuzzy leaves. Reach down into the dirt without your gloves. Notice if it’s warm or cool. Dry or moist. Your fingers will tell you what it needs. Listen and give to each plant what it asks for, one at a time.
  4. When the work is done, sit and listen – to the breeze in the leaves, the buzz of the bees, the birds in the trees. Witness all the aliveness that surrounds you, both visible and hidden. Feel it pulsing through you, becoming part of you, to help ground you through your day.
  5. If you have herbs or other edibles in your garden, take a tiny taste of one small leaf – sorrel or romaine, rosemary or mint. Let it fill your mouth with its wild green, making that garden a part of what creates you every day.

It doesn’t matter if you have 5 minutes or three hours. If your garden is large and your time short, pick one corner, one plant, one flower. It doesn’t even matter if you have no garden at all. Pick a houseplant to look at, really look at. Sink your fingers into its pot. Feel its roots grow and grow with them. Or visit a friend’s garden, a park, the woods. Look more closely at the weed-riddled median in the center of your road.

And speaking of weeds, please do not consider them a foe to be vanquished, but rather a teacher to be respected. When I lived in San Francisco, I had a huge garden with a view of the ocean. It was beautiful, but completely overrun with Cape oxalis, one of San Francisco’s most invasive and persistent weeds. Everyone told me to put down weed barrier or spray herbicides, whatever it took to get rid of it all. But for me, that carpet of green was beautiful and getting down on my knees with my hands in the dirt to clear a vegetable patch one small oxalis bulb at a time really helped me feel connected to my garden – the plants and the soil, the water and the sky. It got me out there every morning to check on the progress of each squash seedling making sure they hadn’t been overrun. And those weeds kept me there, noticing things I would never have seen had I blanketed the dirt with plastic and set automatic sprinklers.

What’s most important in the garden is whatever gets you outside. Beyond that, it’s just being there that matters, whether pulling weeds, tilling soil, planting seeds, or simply enjoying the flowers. All help to ground you in the earth and the world and connect you to something bigger, putting all that bad news on the television, your child’s ear infection, or the politics at work into clearer perspective.

Outside, things grow. They live and die. The sun shines, or it rains. It doesn’t matter. The garden is there, and so are we.

 

Gardening as Practice

Gardening is my passion. It brings me joy and peace, a meditative practice, challenges and heartaches, and a tangible way to help make a difference in the world.

Gardening is a sensory experience. It pulls you out of yourself and into the bigger picture. It teaches you about interdependence, about the cycles of life, and about the transitory nature of all things.

Here is how the garden speaks to me, but it doesn’t matter whether you have a 300 square foot vegetable plot or a single African violet on a windowsill. Any one or all of these steps can work for you:

1.  Start with your eyes.
Eat your breakfast or enjoy your afternoon tea looking out into your garden. Eat slowly, giving your mind time to settle into that green space. The longer you sit, the more you will notice – a newly forming flower bud, a suspect spot or curl of leaf, a lizard hiding under a branch, a bumble bee, the beginnings of a patch of weeds. Do nothing. Make no mental lists. Just notice the space and the details, small and large, within it.

2.  Walk outside.
Chances are, after completing step one, you won’t be able to resist. The garden will call you to join it. But don’t succumb to the urge to get to work right away. Spend a moment just being with it. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Take in the lush green scent or sharp dryness. Notice the top notes – a blooming rose, the scent of warm herbs. Run your fingers across them if you like, taking their scent onto your skin. Notice then, the bottom notes – the smell of earth, warm flagstone, your compost pile. Embrace the rot. It is what keeps the cycle alive.

3.  Move in close and touch the leaves.
Turn them over to see if anyone is hiding there. Feel the texture of flower petals, of rough bark, of fuzzy leaves. Reach down into the dirt without your gloves. Notice if it’s warm or cool. Dry or moist. Your fingers will tell you what it needs. Listen and give to each plant what it asks for, one at a time.

4.  When the work is done, sit and listen – to the breeze in the leaves, the buzz of the bees, the birds in the trees. 
Witness all the aliveness that surrounds you, both visible and hidden. Feel it pulsing through you, becoming part of you, to help ground you through your day.

5.  If you have herbs or other edibles in your garden, take a tiny taste of one small leaf. 
Sorrell or romaine, rosemary or mint… Let it fill your mouth with its wild green, making that garden a part of what creates you every day.

_______________

It doesn’t matter if you have 5 minutes or three hours. If your garden is large and your time short, pick one corner, one plant, one flower. It doesn’t even matter if you have no garden at all. 

Pick a houseplant to look at, really look at. Sink your fingers into its pot. Feel its roots grow and grow with them. Or visit a friend’s garden, a park, the woods. Look more closely at the weed-riddled median in the center of your road.

And speaking of weeds, please do not consider them a foe to be vanquished, but rather a teacher to be respected. 

When I lived in San Francisco, I had a huge garden with a view of the ocean. It was beautiful, but completely overrun with Cape oxalis, one of San Francisco’s most invasive and persistent weeds. Everyone told me to put down weed barrier or spray herbicides, whatever it took to get rid of it all.

But for me, that carpet of green was beautiful and getting down on my knees with my hands in the dirt to clear a vegetable patch one small oxalis bulb at a time really helped me feel connected to my garden – the plants and the soil, the water and sky. It got me out there every morning to check on the progress of each squash seedling making sure they hadn’t been overrun. And those weeds kept me there, noticing things I would never have seen had I blanketed the dirt with plastic and set automatic sprinklers.

What’s most important in the garden is whatever gets you outside. Beyond that, it’s just being there that matters, whether pulling weeds, tilling soil, planting seeds, or simply enjoying the flowers. All help to ground you in the earth and the world and connect you to something bigger, putting all that bad news on the television, your child’s ear infection, or the politics at work into clearer perspective.

Outside things grow. They live and die. The sun shines, or it rains. It doesn’t matter. The garden is there, and so are we.
This post first appeared on The Liberated Life Project–an enlightening and empowering blog written by friend Maia Duerr–as part of a series of “how to” posts on spiritual/contemplative practices. You can learn more about the series and how to develop a practice of your own here.