Monday, March 17, 2014

Clip, Weed, Mulch, Paint, Community

In the early nineties, this park was a parking lot. The neighbors got together and pushed for common green space. The city argued that they couldn't maintain the parks they already had, so the neighbors said, "We'll do it." The city approved. Volunteers broke the concrete, and planted the trees.

Almost twenty years later, the neighbors still keep their promise. With the help of UC Berkeley volunteers, we clipped back bushes. We pulled every weed we could see. We picked up trash. We spread mulch over the clear soil. We removed and painted over graffiti throughout the whole neighborhood. I am so grateful for all the work that came before me to create this wonderful place, and now for the opportunity to contribute.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Crafting a Vision

What do I want my life to hold in the coming year?

I craved reflection and creativity in setting my intentions for the new year. I made some concrete goals about specific outcomes in my life, but my intuition still wanted to explore. My feminine essence desired to create something beautiful without so many boundaries.

A friend introduced me to the practice of vision boarding, which involves filling your heart with a question, scanning through creative materials, and collaging together the things that speak to you.

I got out my craft supplies and poked around the East Bay Creative Reuse Depot for some new additions. I recruited my partner to join in. We ended up sharing a board with our intentions around our partnership joining the seam.

Sometimes there was a reason I could identify for picking certain photos or words, other times the precise reason wasn't clear - I was just drawn to it. I stumbled upon a photo of a little girl that I had to clip out of a magazine. I don't know what she represents, but I felt that she has something to share with me, if not simply her sweet little smile. Apparently, the delight of creating the board will equal the delight in reflecting upon it at the year's end to revel in the synchronicity of life.

Our vision board hangs in our bedroom. Unlike my list of goals, our beautiful collage compels my attention. I love to look at my vision. My heart lingers over the collage every morning. Two thousand and fourteen looks so beautiful.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Flower and Decompose

I worked in my garden all weekend. Soaked with rain and sun, perennials grew tall and clover blanketed the ground. I braced for the heft of my task, so a mentor reminded me, "Gardening is all about life and death. If you can't face death, get out of the garden." Over the last three days, I became the agent of this cycle. I pulled out the roots of some plants and gently covered the roots of others. I pruned back the branches of some plants and trellised the branches of others. Clearing space of some life created space and nourishment for other life to grow. I thanked each plant for the role it played. May we all flower and decompose. Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sharing Our Stories

Inspired by the Free Little Library movement, I decided to build one for my block. Well, technically I didn't build the library, but rather, I served as its community contractor. Evan supplied and cut the wood. Peter assembled all the pieces. Casa de Paz gifted the two-by-four post, and Mariposa Groove shared extra chicken coop shingles. My landlord provided the paint, and my partner and neighbors operated some power tools. Even with all of this support, our "little" project took seven months to complete. Never underestimate carpentry.

As I was finally putting up the masterpiece in front of our house, my neighbors were nervous for me. They saw all the work that went into the library and wanted me to be ready for vandalism. I took a deep breath and handed the little library over to the community. I hung up some simple instructions: This is your library. Please take a book or leave a book. I started the collection with five books. For the past six months, the library has emptied and filled each week with little help from me. It amazes me every time. At times the library is so full, the books must be stacked on top of one another. More than once I've noticed that the library looked disorganized on my way out of the house, but by the time I return home someone had already straightened up the books. "Another visit from the library fairies," I think to myself.

One afternoon I was checking out the selection, when a man passed by. He carried a giant trash bag over his shoulder filled with cans and bottles that he was collecting in the neighborhood. He asked me, "Anything good in there today?" He went on to tell me about the John Grisham book that he found recently. He said, "I couldn't put it down. I stayed up so late night after night to finish it." I laughed having that same experience so often. "That's when you know you've got a good one," I replied. I've borrowed some good books from the little free library, but the connections that it gives me with my community feels most important. Living in the same neighborhood, we don't always see one another, but the movement of books lets me know that we are all here, sharing our stories.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax Day. You did it!

Tax day is filled with anxiety. Leah and I thought that we could infuse the process with a little more love. We dressed in bright colors, and went to the post office. Along with our taxes, we brought strawberries and muffins. We congratulated everyone who walked in for completing their forms, and provided nourishment to others that were still trying to finish in time. I like to think that everyone received a least a little refund in the form of a snack. Congratulations. You did it!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Good Morning Greens

Every morning, Scott and I make green smoothies. While getting ready for the day, we cut in and out of the process like a dance. I strain the kefir grains, while Scott gets dressed. Scott cracks the ice tray, while I wash my face. I rinse spinach, while Scott adds the flax seeds.  I pour our green breakfast into glasses, while he puts things away. At the end, we clink our cups and look into each others eyes. To a great day!

As requested, the green smoothie ingredients:
1 cup plain kefir (or yogurt)
1 banana
1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
1 heaping tbsp raw cacao powder
1 heaping tbsp Vitamineral Green Powder
1 tbsp flax seeds
2 cups spinach
4-5 ice cubes (4 if I add them, 5 if Scott adds them)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Birch Tree

My grandmother had a single birch tree in the middle of her backyard. The only one of its kind in our neighborhood. The birch was a small, slender tree compared to the towering oaks and maples. It leaned to the East as if it was reaching out for something. In traveling back to her home country, I finally understood the single, slender tree. White bark lined the way to her childhood home. Birch forests peppered the surrounding moors. My Oma was reaching for home.