December 22, 2010

a little stop

stop and snap, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

i love this image of the little one and me from earlier this year-taken with shoes and socks in hand. the little sign on the street called out to me as a reminder of what we all should do every once in awhile. i am posting it as a placeholder today to mark this next week in which I plan to stop and be present with family and friends and enjoy the holiday season. i will be back in a week or so. i wish you happy holidays and much peace and love in the start of 2011. xo

December 13, 2010

reflection: feeling light

feeling light, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

light....come to me.

reflection: cozy play days

DSC_0607-1, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

so many of these types of days this past year. this was taken late last winter and is the same type of scene here today. brrrr.....went outside and fell down twice within two minutes from the layer of ice under the snow. back in the house now in our cozy wear.

December 10, 2010

february reflection: the beach in winter time

the past few years we have had the joy of going to the beach in february. I love bundling up in the cold and heading out for a brisk walk or bike ride along the empty shoreline. I find visiting places that mean something to you in different seasons deepens your connection to that space greatly.when you can witness it in stillness, in bustle, with varying elements in motion, a part of your spirit begins to take up residence there.

December 8, 2010

december reflections: mug love

mug love, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

this picture and sentiment expressed in january, rings as true today:
the moment when I wake up and pick out my mug for my coffee is one of my favorites of the day. I return to them in the afternoon and evening for tea. I treasure each mug for its individual shape, colors, the way it feels in my hands.

December 6, 2010

december reflections: stepping out

both of these images were taken back in january, though they just as easily could have been taken today. they mark a time when I was just beginning to step out of a dark place of physical pain and begin the healing process, using the camera as my vehicle in the journey. the ground looks the same outside and the downward view on my rug looks just the same but the internal horizon has expanded since those days and for that I am so grateful.

i have decided to spend the rest of december here reflecting on this past year, bringing forth images taken throughout the year, maybe with thoughts posted, maybe not. I am disheartened by the frenetic pace of the material world and its dischord with the stillness of the natural world at this time of year. I am hoping that some time of reflection and sifting through the memories accumulated from this past year will draw me closer to the true spirit of the season.

December 2, 2010



micro landscape

Just about a year and a half ago I was searching online for images of unfurling ferns as I was awaiting spring and I came across the blog of two friends living in Maine, Kate and Iris, which carries that very name, unfurlingferns. I was immediately enchanted by their dialogue through images and have returned regularly to their site in order to see what their latest theme and corresponding images are. I find it to be a beautiful way to communicate and maintain connection with a friend and to go beyond words. I was able to get in touch with Kate and Iris and ask them about their process for their postings and below you will see what they shared (the images I have posted are examples from their site, though I dont know how to duplicate their cute postcards with their initials for you to see, so please go to their site to have the full experience for yourself).

kindle me


K:The way it generally works is that we trade 'hostessing' each post -- if I'm the hostess I find a photo I'd like to post, then title it and send it as a draft to Iris. She can then either respond to the image, the title or both. It's a creative way of challenging each other and ourselves. Sometimes I send a little note of apology along with the draft because I feel the post is rather far down a random road in my brain, but those are often the most interesting replies. When I get a draft from her, I either know immediately that I already have a photo that fits, or I take a little while (or a long while sometimes) to hunt around my life for a worthy reply. It's a very instinctual and loose process for me... Iris? What about you?

I:You got it, Kate. That's how I think of it also. Hostess, instigator, throwing-down-the-gauntlet, it's all the same. Very intuitive. And I find that the times that I spend "overthinking" my reply get me nowhere. I usually have to just let go and let an image come forth, either from my photo library or from the world around me. It's a great exercise in being in the moment and out of my head...I write poetry as well and unfurlingferns feels like an extension of the same creative stream that I find when writing. It's not exactly on purpose, which is what I like about it.


Thank you Iris and Kate for sharing with us. I look forward to continuing to witness your dialogue through images and captions. It is a real treat to view, especially on a cold winter's day.

oops, how could I forget to ask, why the name unfurling ferns? its my penchant for them that led me there in the first place!

November 30, 2010

reflection: from california to the new york islands

on thanksgiving morning during the macy's parade a float went by that had arlo guthrie and sarah lee guthrie on it singing woody's famous song This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land. My little one ran across the room and picked up her copy of the children's book that carries the words to that beautiful song and stood in front of the television with it open like this, silent and serious and filled with pride. It was a really beautiful, touching moment to witness. amidst of all of the glitz of the parade and the holidays in general she attached herself to the simplest message out there, "this land was made for you and me".

November 27, 2010

seeds of gratitude

seeds of gratitude, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

you see the seeds in the light? they are seeds of gratitude coming your way. pass them on. (pic taken on Thanksgiving morning while walking through the field at the end of the road, a beautiful day)

November 22, 2010

reflection: saying grace

lucky, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

in honor of this week of thanksgiving I wanted to shine light on what I am grateful for and the ways in which I feel lucky, as I imagine so many others are doing as well. the theme of the soul collage and yoga workshop I attended here in asheville yesterday was gratitude, which set the stage perfectly for taking time to reflect on the bounty in our lives. there have been some tough challenges in this past year, but here is a starter list of what i am grateful for today, a hodgepodge of things great and small, random and obvious:

1)my health- never before have i been so acutely aware of what a gift this is, each and every day.

2)the curve of the driveway leading up to my cabin- i fell in love with it the first time I came to look at the place and i love the way it welcomes me home upon each return.

3)living in a place where the four seasons of the year are distinctly marked- the anticipation of rituals that take place connect me with the cycles of life.

4)the opportunity to rediscover the world through the eyes of a two and a half year old- this past week she has been singing to me "he's got the whole world in his hands" repeatedly, though she changes the words to things like "he's got all the hula hoops in his hands" or "all of the scissors in his hands", whatever she is appreciating in that moment.

5)the wonderful care that family and friends provide for our daughter now and then so that my husband and I can have moments to ourselves free of worry, in order to reflect and connect.

6)the incredible blogosphere that i discovered this past year. how i can jump from one lily pad to another and discover so much beauty, insight, and creativity with just a few clicks.

7)the resilience of the human spirit and the trust in the cycles of our psyches that comes with getting older.

8)the way that our family is what we each define for ourselves and that it can transcend blood and marriage (and additional thanks that my family is filled with adventure seekers!).

9)the clients I have had in the past year through Mountain BizWorks. their trust in me to share their dreams and their fears. the chance to sit with them at a time of change and unknowing.

10)the path that led me to creating this space, revelry and grace, and the joy that comes in wondering where it will lead me and who I will connect with along the way.

I would really like to hear something(s) you are grateful for this season. if you are reading please feel free to share with us. happy thanksgiving to you!

a close up

wish paz luz be, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

creation: first batch

creations: first batch, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

here is my first batch of pottery. i had such a wonderful time imprinting each of the words into the clay and the little chicken and rooster imprints came from some small handcarved wood blocks my mom passed on to me a long time ago. lots of fun.

November 21, 2010

November 19, 2010

reflection: little vignettes of play

playtime at grandys, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

so much of my time is spent trying to combat the messes that collect around the house. being in my mom's home for a stretch of time this past week allowed me to let go of the urge to clean up and to see the areas of mess for what they truly are- signs of play, imagination, discovery, fun. i know i will miss these sweet messes one day and all of the little characters and plots that inhabit them.

November 18, 2010

reflection: snapshots

snapshots, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

the next few entries will be photo snapshots from a beautiful fall week in the triangle- filled with creative time in the studio, walks in the woods, explorations of unique haunts in this area, and time with family. heading back to the mountains today, grateful for this time in which all four realms were entered- a time filled with opportunities for restoration, reflection, creation, and connection.

November 17, 2010

connection: breakfast at scratch

scratch, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

cafe au lait, a macchiato, potato onion egg tortilla, and a chocolate and sea salt pastry at scratch in durham, nc. an exceptional treat and wonderful time with my father.

November 15, 2010

reflection: holding space

give light, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

i am giving myself a little bit of space for emotions to rise and release at the moment. i will be back soon- maybe a day or two, maybe a week. for now, I have posted this image as a way to honor the creation of light-filled space that we all owe ourselves from time to time- space for the healing process to gather breath and momentum.

November 10, 2010

creation and connection: meet angelique

I have just finished up a pottery class with angelique tassistro and was so impressed by her, and her unique sense of style, that I wanted to feature her here. I asked her to look at her life and work through the four lenses of restoration, reflection, creation, and connection. If you are in the Asheville area this weekend make sure to stop by her studio and meet her yourself during the River District Studio Stroll. In addition to her remarkable collection, she will be serving up PBRs and cupcakes.


R&G: how does your work restore you?
This is a hard question for me, I’m not sure if my work restores me as much as it completes me. It is the way I express myself and with out it I feel not myself. Clay work in a way is “needy”, having it in my life gives me a deep focus.

R&G:what do you do to restore yourself so that you don't experience burn out?
For me it’s about constantly being aware of the balance (or the lack of) in my life. Clay is so time consuming and can be all encompassing, it is very easy for me to lose myself in my work. Days, weeks and even years can fly by without any thought to the other things in life. Setting a work schedule and forcing myself to do other activities I enjoy helps me create balance. I find I am not only more productive but my work is stronger and I feel happier. After years of telling my self “I will only work like this until this show is done or this deadline is meet”. I realized there will always be another show, two more applications and yet another deadline. I had to create a firm rule for myself...I find creating balance is much more difficult that creating art.


R&G: When you reflect on your journey, what moments stick out as turning points?
Moving to Asheville (from Atlanta) was a huge turning point for me. I had no doubt I was moving to work with clay but really had no idea of the details. I had a studio offered to me but had to relearn the process. It’s so different from being in school. There are so many things we take for granted. Having a studio to work in sounded amazing but I quickly realized that I no longer had access to that amazing studio with endless supplies and generous people willing to feed you information. It took me a good year to get my bearings again. I spent two days throwing cylinders and cutting them in half to see how thick they were. It’s what we did in my very first pottery class. I think I mentally had to start over to remember all I had learned.

R&G: what mistakes have you made that you would want other creative types to know about so they can prevent them?

Art can be a career and a successful one at that. Just because one decides to take art as a career does not mean you have to work three jobs and sacrifice things that are important in life.

R&G: what has surprised you?
The amazing support I have received from my friends, family & the community.

R&G: where are you headed?
I’m not sure. Art will always be apart of my life but I do feel the need to help people in a way I’m not doing now. I have toyed with the idea of being a life coach for emerging artistic individuals seeking creative jobs but am not sure how to do it. I think I would be good at it and it would be very rewarding.


R&G:think about your creative process, what steps do you have to take in order to be able to generate a new idea/line of work/etc...?
I try to just let things happen naturally, not just with clay but also with life. The best way to explain it is by using an example: I make flower scalloped dinner plates, I still make them and love them. One day I decided it would be cool if they hung on the wall so that they can be used for decoration when they are not being eaten off, then after that worked out I decided I should make three different sizes, connect them and add some wire. It never occurred to me that I was making a new line of work, but it happened and now I make functional flower dinner plates and decorative wall flowers.

R&G think about your most creative moments- what are the factors at play?
Traveling is a huge passion of mine. I am such a visual person, seeing new places stimulates my mind. I always return to the studio with fresh ideas and lots of energy.

R&G: does your creativity show up for you when you want it to or does it visit on its own schedule?
My most creative moments often come in the form of problem solving. I always strive to make things better than before, so things just seem to evolve into something new. It is a struggle to be creative on demand but I just try to be gentle on myself. I don’t have to recreate the wheel everyday, some days it is perfectly acceptable to just make sure it goes around and around. … meaning busy work is still work. A clay studio has many things to do that require zero creativity.

R&G think about how you are connecting to the world around you.
who is inspiring you?

Recently I have gotten slightly obsessed with business and find myself reading success stories of young entrepreneurs. Tony Hsieh is pretty high on my list currently, what he did with Zappos is super cool. Not just how successful it is as a business, but the model itself, and how employees are treated. I love that by empowering employees they want to be & do better.

R&G do you reach out for help? for ideas? where? how often?
OMG… I ask for help daily. My friends and family are amazing and endlessly come to help. If not painting numbers on tiles, creating a post card or some other computer hick up I’m having then it’s making cupcakes for a studio stroll. With out my “support” gang I’m not sure I would have a strength to push through the hard times. I am so grateful for the people in my life.

thanks angelique. i will post some photos soon of what she helped me to create in her class. i will say, it isn't as easy as it looks! can't wait for the next class though.

November 8, 2010

restoration and reflection: full circle

full circle, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

standing on the other side of the one year feels good. the edges soften when a full year stands between you and a painful memory. however, it was harder than I thought it would be to return there. i got tripped up by flashes of physical pain and emotional quivers. the trees on the island are so distinctive in shape, so beautiful really, and on day one of the trip it was grey and chilly and the trees were haunting me, driving me crazy actually- very hard to describe it and it was not something I was prepared for. When my husband wheeled me out of the hospital last year I instantly looked to those trees for some sort of reminder of the natural world I love-and yet in that pain their shapes etched themselves into my psyche and somehow the memories of the pain hid in their leaves.

but that ocean. to walk with a pregnant friend alongside that ocean, to hoop and practice yoga by that ocean, to chase my daughter alongside that ocean, and to be revisited by the dolphins of that ocean- this is where the real healing took place. to know that 12 full moons have pulled its tide and carried so many cares far and wide since then- it's effect on the heart similar to its effect on shards of glass.

yes, it is true. a rebirth comes with the closing of that first year, whatever that "first year" is- i have heard this from friends who have left marriages, faced tragedies, and come out of their own darkness in numerous ways. new memories are created and while the painful moments are still there, they are seen in a more gentle light, with a softer gaze. oh, how we all look better in that softer, gentler light.

beach elf

beach elf, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

November 2, 2010

reflection: one year later

reflection: one year later, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

tomorrow we leave for our annual trip to the beach with dear old friends. it's a time we look forward to every year and yet this year i go in with a bit of apprehension and a need for reflection and fortitude. it was on this trip last year that i wound up in the hospital with meningitis- the very experience that led me to the long healing process that then led to the creation of this space.

as I go into this trip I am reflecting upon what steps I have taken towards self-care in the past year and the love and support of others that have helped to ease the burdens. i am calling upon the open arms of compassion, presence, patience, gratitude, and faith to carry me through these days.

what i struggle to abandon are the etched memories of the physical pain and of the day to day life that exists in a hospital setting- the 24 hour sounds, the sterility, the endless waiting. I am also battling the persistent fear of allowing myself to get too run down or unconsciously "set the stage" for such a calamity to recur. any sign of drastic fatigue or the slightest illness sends me into a tizzy.

what lies within an anniversary can fill us with such pleasure or such pain. we can instantly transpire ourselves back into that defining moment- whether it is the marking of a birth or a death (either physical or metaphorical), a celebration, or a tragedy. a certain irrationality exists since the actual occasion is not recurring in our present space and yet the emotions that rise are as real as anything else around us.

and so all I can do is breathe and hold dear what is here. today. and offer a huge thank you to any of you reading this who have offered your hand to me on this path of recovery- you know who you are, near and far. as i stand oceanside this week i will be sending waves of gratitude your way.

(the dolphin above swam alongside my father, husband, and I the day after I was released from the hospital. earlier that day a beautiful deer had come to the window of the house we were staying in- both messengers indeed.)

November 1, 2010

reflection: "it's nice"

We didn't have a name for my daughter to call my father, although I just assumed it would be grandpa. instead, she has come to name him "papa walter" on her own. this name comes from the fact that he does look rather similar to his dog "walter" and he is walter's papa. who would have thought.

when he was here visiting a few months back my daughter asked papa walter what was on his face. Instead of responding with "its a moustache" he stated "it's niiiiiiiice" while he stroked his finger above his upper lip. It's a trait that he has managed to pull off rather well over the decades, I must admit.

This picture of my own grandpa, his two sons, and their three signature moustaches resurfaced today for me and all I could say upon first glance was.... "niiiiiiice."

October 29, 2010

connection: MEND

Pictures taken by my sister molly milroy during her photo shoot for the MEND program of Invisible Children. bravery and beauty embodied. molly, that includes you too.

October 27, 2010

reflection: presence and patience

little tree, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

A couple of months back while attempting tree pose in a yoga class, I worked to steady my trunk so that I could bring my two arms together to meet overhead. It was a day in which I really needed a break from the trials of parenting, the increase in speed of my days, and the burdening weight of recent emotional upheaval. as i steadied myself I felt two key guiding principles rise within: presence and patience. I extended and raised my right branch in honor of presence and my left in honor of patience and when the two met I felt a surge of stability and freedom at the same time.

Amidst the whirl of my days I repeat these words like a mantra and realize that they challenge me at every turn. I wish to claim them both, encourage them to burrow deep within, and yet so often they chuckle to themselves just out of reach. its okay. i will keep reaching. and grounding. and reaching.

October 25, 2010

creativity and connection

art, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

This marks the wrap up a week's worth of images from LEAF festival. I started the week with a posting of the LOVE side of this artist's van and I wanted to close out with this one because I am finding that I happiest when I am in the center of a LOVE and ART sandwich- two of the world's most powerful forces. The artist who created these visual delights I am finding myself longing for more time to create, and connect with other creative souls, and am greatly looking forward to the new creative space in the basement that we are slowly making headway on. will be posting progress images soon.

p.s. the other artists from LEAF I want to acknowledge in this connection post are Lisa Vetter and Paul Siefart of The Art Farm, located outside Fort Wayne, Indiana. Their work and generous, creative spirits inspired me greatly. And as serendipity would have it, I found myself in their neck of the woods last week and though they weren't there, the bartender who served me at a local haunt was wearing one of their custom pieces and the guy sitting next to me at the bar rents their old place. i love our small world.

October 22, 2010

connection: missing you

happy, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

a little virtual postcard to my little one while I am on a work trip in Indiana. this was taken last weekend as we did one of many laps around the lake. the site of her happy in sunlight makes my heart swell.

October 20, 2010

reflections: impermanence

reflections: impermanence, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

gathering from all directions
to celebrate
to commune
to simplify and reconnect
impermanent villages
of tents
and firelights
of harmonies carried over water and mist rising
commonality so natural so fleeting
so freeing

October 19, 2010

hoop it up

polka hoop, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

good fun and great exercise. i love hooping and the challenge of linking little tricks and turns together. i am trying to make a little time for a few minutes of hooping each day. thanks to wonderful sarah for making me my hoop.

October 18, 2010

finding LOVE at LEAF

LOVE, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

a period of restoration, reflection, creation, and connection all rolled into one- that's what happens at the all-encompassing LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) every spring and fall. I will be rolling out images from this magically creative arts and music extravaganza throughout the week, in an attempt to carry a bit of the magic with me through my more ordinary days.

October 14, 2010

reflection: year of the handstand

handstand, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

Two months ago I participated in a yoga workshop with Mado that was dedicated to working on handstands. One of my personal goals for this year has been to work on kicking up into a handstand. Note that the goal is to do the working on, not necessarily achieving, the perfect handstand. This subtle shift in the semantics of the goal setting is actually what I think the key is to making me stick with it.

Last winter I wrote to my fellow unravellers about the fear that resides in my inability to kick up and how it trips me up emotionally. I feel so heavy and weak and as if what is holding me back is not physical strength but is rather emotional weight that I can't release, no matter how hard I try. So to sign up for a whole workshop in which I face this fear felt, well, rather daunting. What the workshop offered me was a whole bunch more tools to use to work up to kicking up, some tricks to meanwhile enjoy the benefits of a handstand without the fear rising, and the gift that comes when you share your fears with others who carry the same.

So 2010 has become the year of the handstand for me. and maybe it will be next year too. this process encompasses so much more than just being a yoga pose on which I am working. whether being supported by a bathroom doorway, walking my feet up the logs of our cabin, or being free to fall by the oceanside expanse of sand, I am showing up. over and over. and as the strength builds I feel the emotional weight slowly releasing and the effort giving way to a sense of ease. effort into ease. i like the sound of that. and I remind myself that the only way,in all of our journeys, is to keep showing up.

PS. I will return next week after LEAF with photos and tales from this wonderful multi-cultural arts and music festival just down the road.

October 12, 2010

restoration: a quick jaunt down country roads

yesterday my father, daughter and I travelled up to hot springs for a morning hike along Big Laurel Creek on the way to pick up husband and dear friend from three days of backpacking. on the way back home we stopped in marshall for a bite to eat and a quick look around. these images are from a storefront on the main street of this small mountain town- a splash of color and charm in an otherwise all brick block. i am grateful for the little journey-just under an hour away and yet just enough unfamiliarity to recharge the travelling spirit. A simple monday morning journey down nearby country roads can work wonders, i highly recommend it.

October 10, 2010

restoration: the call of the woods

in hiding, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

i feel it so strongly today, a longing to walk off into the woods and hide. i come by it naturally, my father told my husband recently that he is currently resisting the same urge. this morning i was surrounded by dear friends at a brunch gathering, folks I cherish and crave time with, and yet today the weight of their gazes was too much for me to hold. my little one felt it too. she wanted to go home and once we returned she wandered straight back into the woods (can you spot her? she is with her beloved kitty). her new found refuge. she too comes by it naturally.

October 8, 2010

creation and connection: opening a new door

for years I have been wishing to open the door into the world of clay. during each studio stroll in the river arts district I admire the potters in their creative spaces and long to get my hands dirty. I finally began my first pottery class last week with Angelique Tassistro of Fly Coop Studios and I am happy to say that the process has enveloped me just as I imagined it would. and yet I find myself so distracted by all of the charming, personal touches in her studio calling to be photographed that I easily lose track of my task at hand. more will hopefully come about Angelique and her own journey in a future post-though I think her chalkboard just about says it all- this is a woman who leaps, loves, creates, and inspires, and keeps turning good thoughts into good things ....stay tuned.