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April 2012

This Sunday, at The Picture House in Exeter:

The Laidley Worm



I'm still on my "online hiatus" this week, but wanted to pop in briefly to post the flyer above, for the premier of the new fairy tale film by the Chagford Filmmaking Group. We'll all be there (our daughter played the dragon in the film, and Howard's mum worked on costumes)...and perhaps we'll see some of you who live in the West Country at the premier too...?

I'll be back on this blog on Wednesday, May 2nd. In the meantime, a few quick recommendations, if you haven't come across these items already:

New Portrait of Janey Morris; Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell; "Dear Daughter" by Mur Lafferty; "Girls Who Read" by Mark Grist, and Axel, the thatcher's dog.

Tilly sends her regards.

Bluebells3 Click on the picture for a larger version, in which you can see the bluebells....

The path forward...

Winding path

I've been back in England for over a week now. Jet-lag has finally diminished, but my intense joy in being home in the Devon hills remains just as strong as ever -- so much so that even the chilly, changeable weather of recent days can't dull my spirits. I've returned to my old practice of beginning each morning in the woods behind the studio, with a notebook and a thermos of coffee close to hand and Tilly the Wonder Dog at my side. (The painting below, by my friend and village neighbor David Wyatt, captures such mornings perfectly...and I should mention that he has many lovely prints for sale, including this one, in his Etsy shop.)

The Word Wood copyright by David WyattSettling back into my studio, I've been taking blunt stock of the ways that six months of coping with crisis has impacted my working life -- taking a deep breath and facing all of those things that were pushed to the back burner while I was dealing with Scary Life Stuff instead. The length of my "To Do" list is a bit scary in itself, as such lists always are après-crisis -- which is of course precisely the time when, flummoxed by all that you've just been through, what you want is for life to be simple and calm (or else to lie on a hot beach somewhere in the Carribean)...not to have to face the dust and cobwebs covering the negelected life to which you are returning. But as someone who has re-built my life more than once (due to health problems in the past), I know that this small mountain of things I now have to do, although daunting, is actually a very good sign: it's the very last hurdle before normal life resumes. And that's a fine goal indeed.

At least my mountain is made up of largely interesting things: writing and editing work to catch up on, e-book rights and texts to sort out, art commissions to finish for people who have been very, very patient for far too long. I have an Etsy shop to stock up again, a great deal of backed-up correspondence to respond do, and some lovely new projects to plot and plan (which I will tell you more about in due time)...while also finding a proper work/life balance that can support fragile (but strengthening!) health and keep the Muse (and the pooch!) well fed.

I know many of you cope with the same things too: the balancing act that a creative life requires -- balancing work needs and health needs and family needs and the soul's contrary need for both community and solitude. Back around Christmas, I read an article suggesting that the very best gift that one can give to a writer or artist is the precious gift of time...and that's a lovely idea, but I think we also need to be able to give ourselves that gift. For many of us, that means saying shush to the voices (usually inner rather than outer) insisting that others deserve our time more than we do, and that only when everything else is done may we retreat from the world and plunge into our art. Yes, there are times in life when unstinting selflessness is required from each of us...but there are also times when self-fullness (to invent a term that's less loaded than "selfishness") is what is needed most: for our art, for our health (physical and mental), for our vital connection to the landscape around us...and even for those others (children, aging parents, etc.) who depend on us to stay strong and whole.

The crossroad

So here's the path forward for me right now: I am going to be self-full and take some needed time off. Not time off from work, mind you, but the opposite: time to dive deeply into work again -- by taking time off from my Online Life to focus on Life Unplugged. 

I'll be back to this blog in approximately two weeks, when I'm a feeling a bit more caught up again, more deeply rooted in the work rhythms of this new season. And when I come back, I'm eager to resume the discussions here that Life Stuff interrupted: more posts in the "Inspiring Women" series; more work-space profiles for the "On Your Desk" series; more sketches and rambles and reading recommendations; more photos of Life in a Devon village, and of a certain bouncy black canine Familiar....

Thank you all for taking the journey with me through the long, rough months of the winter just passed. I look forward to sharing a wildly creative spring and summer with all of you in the Mythic Arts community -- and 'til then, to quote Jane Yolen (as I so often do): "Touch magic, and pass it on."

The bluebells are blooming. It's the season for magic.

The first of the bluebells

Tilly and the bluebells

Now, what about you? Where does your path lead...?

Welcome to Bordertown trpb


Welcome to Bordertown is out in paperback today, with a spiffy new cover, and a spiffy new website. Please check out the site, and the Bordertown video below (if you haven't seen it already), and enter the "Bring a Friend to Bordertown" contest for a signed copy of the book and other cool swag from the Elflands. Ellen, Holly, and team have done a fabulous job with it all. I hope you'll join us on the Border.

And okay, we're talking elves on motorcycles here...but here's why the Bordertown series is so important to all of us who have worked on it over the years (as well as being a whole lot of fun): These are stories about kids who find their way through the dark with the help of art, music, and the "magic" of community and friendship. And there are kids out there who need these kind of tales. Please help us to get the book into their hands by spreading the word.


Tilly among the daffodils

Tilly and I are off now for the long holiday weekend; I'll be back in the office (and back online) on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to spending time with family and friends, working in the garden, and getting my Eostre copyright by Danielle Barlowpainting studio up and running again (at long last). Wherever you are and whatever you're doing to celebrate the Easter/Eostre/Passover/Spring holiday, I hope the weekend is a peaceful and magical one.

To the right is my favorite image for this time of year: "Eostre" by my friend and village neighbor Danielle Barlow. (There are prints for sale in her Esty shop...along with many other beautiful, magical paintings.) The painting below is my own version of Eostre, titled "Mother Nature." (Click on the image for a clearer version of the painting.) I hope to have prints of her soon.

Eostre is an Anglo-Saxon mother goddess of the spring, associated with the growing light of the season, holy water in the form of morning dew, hares (her totem, from which we get the Easter Bunny), and new-laid eggs (symbol of fertility). Ceremonies dedicated to Eostre celebrate this season as a time of rebirth, renewal, and sacred transition: from winter to spring, from dark to light, from periods of our lives that have come to an end to those that are just beginning.

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."   - William Shakespeare

Mother Nature, copyright by Terri Windling

Tilly in the daffodils April 2012Photos: Tilly among the wild daffodils in the woods behind the studio.

To be graced by resilience and joy


"I believe in cultivating opposite, but complementary views of life, and I believe in meeting life's challenges with contradictory strategies. I believe in reckoning with the ultimate meaninglessness of our existence, even as we fall in love with the miracle of being alive. I believe in working passionately to make our lives count while never losing sight of our insignificance. I believe in caring deeply and being beyond caring. It is by encompassing these opposites, by being involved and vulnerable, but simultaneously transcendent and detached, that our lives are graced by resilience and joy." - Fritz Williams

It's a paradoxical philosophy and state of mind, but one that encompasses the Tricksterish mystery of life, maintaining balance, hózhǫ́, attention, and grace, no matter what life and art throw at us.

Dartmoor pony

By "attention," I mean shushing the inner clamour of voices from the past, and shushing the chorus of one's fears and desires for the future, in order to fully live in, appreciate, and take honest stock of the present. Every spiritual tradition speaks of this....which is so simple to say, and so darn hard to remember to do. In this springtime of fresh chances and new beginnings, I vow this morning to keep shushing those voices, and to pay more attention as each day unfolds: in my life, in my work, and in my engagement with the rhythms and cycles of the land that I live in.

"This is the first, wildest, and wisest thing I know, that the soul exists, and that it is built entirely out of attention." - Mary Oliver

Dartmoor stone wallPhotographs above: A wild Dartmoor pony strays into a field. And Howard pays attention to Tilly.