Walking in the World

Perspectives

Pussy Project

Three weeks on and the Women’s March is still reverberating in my psyche. The world has changed, and so have I – my task has been to figure out what that means and how I want to move forward in this crazy world. As is my custom, I’ve used my knitting needles to quiet me enough to be able to hear and make sense of my own thoughts

The protest was a game changer for me, though I don’t think that protesting publicly is necessarily my calling in life. Will I do it again? Absolutely, but with care and discernment. Being in a crowd of that size was exciting and powerful, but it exacted a deep energetic toll from me. I have been grateful for the opportunity to take some time and space to unpack the experience slowly and carefully.

Inviting my needles to punctuate my inner dialogue, I designed and made a pair of socks, knitting them to tell the story of my initiation into activism. I ordered wool to match my pink pussy hat, then added green cuffs and toes to symbolize the rooting and growth of activism. The speckled heels coordinate with a friend’s socks, and remind me of the need to collaborate and build community. The pattern I used is named after Hermione of Harry Potter fame – a modern day hero(ine) who both acknowledges and embodies her magical soul. I can now clothe myself with courage when I need to step out of my comfort zone.

With those socks finished, I turned back to the mini hats I made and wore around my neck when I marched in London on January 21st. Seven hats symbolized seven women who could not join in the march in person. Their presence on my garland supported and encouraged me, and allowed me to include them in the global community of protesters. Let me tell you how that idea was born…

Looking at the Women’s March in London Facebook page the week before the march, I happened to see a sweet post by a woman who wished the marchers well, but who couldn’t attend in person. Spontaneously, I offered to take her name with me, an offer she gladly accepted. At the same time, a few other women asked me to walk in their names as well. So, I did what I do… I got out my knitting needles, enlisted a knitterly friend, and we made a miniature pussy hat for each woman. We then crocheted them all together, interspersed with hearts from my 60th birthday art project, thus anchoring those women into the fabric of my life. For that day, we walked together in spirit, with our arms around each other as we joined with the MILLIONS of others marching in cities around the world. We walked as one!

Today I cut up that garland so that I can mail each hat to the woman it represents.  And my new facebook friend? Antonia and I have stayed in touch. An experienced and heart-full protester, she’s given me incredible advice and support before and after the march, and shared some of her poetry with me, along with permission to share it here:

 The Women’s March
by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

A big shout out to all those who rose today
Marching for democracy, for political honesty,
They who, in solidarity, get in fascists’ way
By demanding greater fairness and equality,
Taking to streets and tweets to have their say,
No one should suffer violence, exile, shame
For their gender, faith, love, ability, culture,
Place of beginning, that’s all a blaming game,
While my body stops me from being with you there
Another still conveys me, she holds my name
Written in her pocket, merged with the hope in me,
As you raise your chants and feet again, again, again,
We walk beside you, though our footfalls you won’t see,
Side by side together, folk and cities we can’t name
Linked this day and after, to help deal with what may be
Thousands next to thousands, so many now awake,
No time to be demure now, time to write our herstory
For dignity, survival and for our shared future’s sake.

13 Feb 2017

Behind the Scenes

We were out early Tuesday morning, before any sunlight made its way into the churchyard in Rayleigh. Cold, but appropriately wintry. Despite the chill, it was nice to take a bit of a detour so we could walk through the familiar old churchyard. For the first time this year, I was really aware of the light that morning. By the time I woke up, the sky was already beginning to lighten. The earth is stirring… as am I.

We’ve accomplished a long-time dream this week and launched the Labyrinthos Blog – a site specifically focused on the incredible labyrinth-themed information, photos and archive items that that cross our desks here in Labyrinthos HQ. We’ve been working long hours in our back-to-back desk chairs, clicking on our keyboards, cursing at our frustrations, but generally enjoying the experience of seeing some plans come together. In addition to my work on the Labyrinthos Blog website, Jeff is giving the official Labyrinthos website a complete overhaul, which is, of course, a painstakingly tedious task. It feels vitally important to be bringing our online presence into line with modern technology. We have so many wonderful things in our tiny little office that we want to share!

I have finally gotten some clarity on how my three websites/blogs can work together. Up to now, I have subscribed to a my-blog-my-rules philosophy, and have put authentic expression above clarity for my readers- a writing style that has been incredibly rewarding for me, but perhaps a little confusing to search engines and some readers. In my head, however, I’ve been been playing with new ideas for organizing and presenting my eclectic interests and passions – and I finally have a plan! Walking in the World will continue to showcase daily (quotidien) life, discussing whatever I find as I explore the world around me. Sometimes that will be my local community, the stuff of the Backyard Pilgrim, and other times it will give you an inside look at the amazing places we go as part of our labyrinth work. Eclectic, spontaneous, spiritual in an earthy and grounded sort of way. Footprints, pilgrimages, and hand-knitted socks. I want to show you my ‘Quotiediens’ as well as my ‘Cathedral Moments,’ and introduce you to the amazing people I meet along the way. I’m not even going to try to post every day, but I promise you some good stories, told from the heart and hopefully some good companionship.

My other website, Ariadne’s Thread, has been patiently waiting in the background for the past two years while I’ve focused on Walking in the World, but Ariadne’s stirring restlessly now, and I’m sensing a major change for that blog. I’m not going to give away the surprise, but watch this space in the coming weeks!

All three blogs/sites will have different email notification lists, so please have a good browse and sign up for the posts that you want to receive. Naturally I hope you’ll opt for all three – of course I do! But whatever you choose, thanks for joining me on the Path.

09 Feb 2017

Tribal Voice 2

My original post was hacked but they can’t silence me! My wonderful web host has determined that there is no malware anywhere on my site and helped me tighten my security. Apologies to those who are receiving this post by email for a second time.

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This pretty much sums up how I’m feeling today, 24 hours after The March.

I will admit it wasn’t an easy thing for me to do; I’m an introvert and usually try to avoid crowds at all costs. But there comes a time when it is necessary to put aside personal comfort and preference and dive into the world. That day was yesterday. And something pretty amazing happened, personally as well as collectively. I found my tribe.

I have community all around me in my daily life, both in my local village and online, so it’s not just that. Yesterday I belonged. I blended in with a larger whole, without ever losing my own identity or voice. Most of you would never suspect how often I feel like I don’t quite fit in, don’t quite belong, how I’m never sure if who I am is enough. Yesterday, marching through London amongst that great sea of humanity, I came home to roost within my own being.

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Today, as I consider how best to move forward after the exhilaration of yesterday, I have a new freedom, a freedom to speak what I feel from where I am right now. Oh, believe me, there were people who were more protest-savvy than me, people who were wittier and more articulate than I will ever be. But no one else can speak for me, no one else comes from quite my experience or perspective. My voice is my own, and it can sing in concert with the vast sea of people who are working to make the world a better place.

Photo credit: Emma Lynne Anderson

This morning I wrote letters to the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, things I’ve never done before. And then I compiled a list of Trump affiliated businesses to boycott. Starting out as I mean to go on!

(Not all the photos on this post are mine. There are so many going around on social media, that I grabbed a few without knowing who to credit. Thank you to the many marchers who shared their images and enthusiasm!)

04 Feb 2017

Roaring into 2017

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There is a lot of pink in Labyrinthos HQ this week. And black, too. In solidarity with the many who protest the Trump inauguration, I’m dressed head to toe in black today, and have blacked out our television and news feeds during the ceremonies in Washington. It feels kind of petty, but I needed to do it anyway. But my pink knitting? That’s another matter entirely.

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Along with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, I’ll be marching in support of human rights and fundamental decency tomorrow. I’ve been knitting pink pussy hats to wear and share, and am taking that small act one step further by knitting a series of mini hats to carry on behalf of others who would march if only they could. My mother who died 37 years ago (and definitely wouldn’t appreciate the world situation now), friends who don’t have local marches to join, and a total stranger I met online who won’t be marching in London because of health issues. She is a veteran of numerous past protest marches, and has been a great support as I’ve prepared to walk out of my comfort zone this week.

I don’t want to turn this blog into a political platform, but 2016 has taken the world in some directions that alarm me, and (like many) I am using my annual winter hibernation to think about how I want to respond, and how I want to walk forward into 2017 and beyond. I started by looking for a word, as I do most years. I worked with Susannah Conway‘s (free) workbook, exploring my thoughts and feelings until finally one word knocked all the other contenders out of the arena. I wanted something sweet and hopeful, I really did,. Something nice to counteract the hatred that seems to be boiling in the air. I narrowed my choice down to two words, cultivation and creativity. Great words. Super words. But under my skin, I was itching, and those words didn’t even begin to address my discomfort. Mrs Nice just can’t take this any more! I heard myself start to mutter and moan, and what I really wanted was to roar with indignation and despair. Actually, not just roar, but ROAR!

And there I met my word for the year. It scares me. Challenges me. Inspires me. Time to step up and out of my comfort zone. Whatever that means. This week it means showing up for the Women’s March on London.

And I have some great adventures ahead of me this year…

 

20 Jan 2017

Threading the Maze

xmascard16

December is flying by, and we have been out and about, travelling to Spain and Italy to both broaden our research and deepen our connections with friends and fellow labyrinth enthusiasts. But despite being physically out in the world, I am feeling particularly quiet and pulled-in this year. 2016 has been a year of extremes – great travel and deep pilgrimage has woven through alarming world events. My quiet soul is struggling to make sense of it all, and putting words into blogs has been an overwhelming challenge.

I have never felt so uncertain, so lost in the maze of conflict and confusion. And yet…. I feel gifted by unexpected opportunities and privileges. There are horrible atrocities taking place on our planet, but at the same time my world is filled with sparks of light that set my heart ablaze.

We will close the Labyrinthos HQ office tomorrow, as is our custom – from Solstice to New Year, we allow ourselves to snuggle in by the fire, eat good food, watch movies, talk over memories and come up with new plans and ideas.

Let’s welcome 2017 together, taking one step at a time into whatever comes next. Labyrinthos will introduce a new face to its online presence, and I’ll be catching you up on some of our 2016 adventures here on Walking in the World.

May we find new ways of spreading joy and love this holiday season!

Photo above is an old Christmas card from the Netherlands, part of our extensive collection of labyrinthine ephemera.

20 Dec 2016

Lest We Forget

thundersley_remembrance

At the end of this difficult week, we are remembering our war heroes and the difficult times that led up to their becoming heroes. We are thinking of ultimate sacrifices and life-changing injuries. We are thinking of broken societies past and present, and looking into our own hearts for courage and a moral compass. And as we remember the past, we should be asking ourselves hard questions about the future. Britain does not shirk from remembering, weaving ritual and tradition into the fabric of modern life.

I was at the pub with the Bitter Knitters on Wednesday evening and happened to notice this memorial above the fireplace.

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When I looked more closely, I found family:

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I’ve told you a bit about the story of Bert Louis Saward in an earlier post, and I’ll say more next spring when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death at Flanders. As I stood in silence at our Thundersley village service this morning, I found myself thinking of Bert, wondering who he might have become and how the Sawards of today might have been different had he lived. Remembrance is as personal as it is collective.

When you go home
tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
we gave our today.

poppy

Thundersley’s memorial is new this year; thank you to the committee who made it happen!

Photo by Martin Hayhurst(Photo © Martin Hayhurst)

 

13 Nov 2016

Pantsuit Nation

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I’m with Her! I had tears in my eyes when I marked my ballot and voted for an immensely qualified woman for president of the United States. I did that way back in September, the day my overseas ballot arrived in my inbox, and since then the election (as everyone knows) has really heated up. It was nearly unbearable until last Wednesday when a friend added me to the secret Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation – back then there were less than 200,000 members and that seemed immense, but this morning, the total is over two and half million and still growing. The stories and images posted in that group this week have been overwhelmingly positive and poignant, and have gone a long way toward restoring some of my faith in humanity.

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As I said yesterday, I’m favouring dresses and leggings these days (after years of wearing jeans and sweaters), but today I’m wearing a makeshift pantsuit and a homemade I Voted sticker to stand in symbolic soldarity with my candidate and her community. As an added protest, we’ll be eating tacos for dinner tonight – take that, Mr. Trump! I stand in support of the diversity that has already made America great.

And my thanks go to the Overseas Vote initiative that has done so much to make voting both possible and straightforward for expats like me!

overseas_vote_foundation

08 Nov 2016

My Inner Gudrun

gudrun_sjoden

After a morning of immersion into the artistry of the medieval world at the V&A on Saturday, Jeff and I re-entered modern London and went our separate ways for the afternoon. I have recently been taking a new interest in the fashion world, carefully considering the way I show up in the world. Where do I conform, comfortably or not? Where do I rebel? Who do I want to be when I grow up? Because we work from home and most of our ventures out into the world are of a casual nature (and because I’m always cold), I tend to wear a standard uniform of jeans and sweaters. I think I clean up pretty well, but I don’t show up with the character and verve that I admire in others. I’m lucky enough to be living into old(er) age, so I’m thinking I might as well show up in colour!

gudrun_sjoden2

This all started when I was walking through Covent Garden with a friend last year and stumbled onto a colourful storefront that drew me like a magnet. Gudrun Sjoden. We went in and tried on a few things, but I was overwhelmed by the character and choice. And then the same thing happened in Stockholm in September. Same store, same experience, different country. The moment I crossed the threshold, I knew it was Gudrun. Again, I tried things on, but couldn’t decide… so I came home and studied my Gudrun catalogues carefully.

gudrun_catalogue

I looked at women wherever I went, and I experimented with my existing wardrobe. Biding my time, I designated Saturday afternoon as my style pilgrimage. I went back to Gudrun’s Covent Garden store alone, tried on piles of clothes in varying styles and colours (to the point of exhaustion), squinted at my reflection with what I hoped was a lovingly critical eye. For hours. I probably drove the saleswomen nuts…. but in the end I had a good sense of my Gudrun profile, and I bought a couple of pieces that feel both edgy and perfectly right for me. For once, I didn’t settle, didn’t listen to anyone… I chose.

Gudrun has taught me some things: 1) it’s ok to be true to ourselves, even when we’re past 60. Or maybe especially when we’re past 60! One of her models has long grey hair… 2) Style can be playful and fun; 3) I can wear dresses and leggings; 4) it’s fun to show up in the world; 5) I really look best in darker clothes with colourful accessories; 6) I look best in clothes with a little shaping (who knew?); 7) I like my colour and style to be a bit coordinated, with an elegantly funky undertone; 8) I don’t like frills and ruffles; 8) layering is a life-altering experience.

Although my body has some sags and bumps, it tells my story. It’s a good strong body and I have a creative spirit who wants to play with colour and style, now more than ever!

07 Nov 2016

Collision of My Worlds

leadenhall_market

I went into in London to take a textiles class yesterday, and lingered well into the evening for dinner and an after-dark wander back to Fenchurch Street. Most impressive was peeking into the deserted Leadenhall Market which was the setting for the original Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter movie. Equally fun, though, was stopping to look at the advertising on the bus stops:

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Apparently London is not only open, but it also really loves San Francisco:

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And there you have my life in a nutshell: London, San Francisco, growing up in the 60’s, and a bit of literary fantasy.

16 Oct 2016

Vanessa atalanta

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Summer is drawing to a close so we won’t be seeing many more of these little beauties this year, but we’ve found this Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) huddled outside our office window several times lately, just out of camera shot. Today, though, Jeff caught her flying into the garden and snapped a quick photo when she landed in the ivy. Their flashy colouring makes them easy to spot and fun to see.

Some Red Admirals do hibernate, so I am harbouring the hope that she will survive the winter in some protected place.  Butterflies in general are symbols of transformation, and unexpected sightings like this draw my attention inwards as I check in with myself about where I am in my own ongoing cycle of transformation. Seeing Vanessa this week reminds me of the importance of sharing the colors and joy of my creations with the world.

What does she say to you?

 

27 Sep 2016

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