07 February 2016

.day 33.

My time here seems to be flying by and I want to share it all with you. I want to blog more. I want to paint a detailed picture so you can feel the beauty of this place and the beauty that this experience is opening up inside of me. I keeping starting blog posts but they never evolve beyond a draft. I just can't find the right words. I 'm hesitant to give words to things. To cement this fluid process. I want to root myself into the questions/thoughts/ideas that are enveloping me right now. I hope to share more but for now I am finding myself sinking deeper and deeper into this beautiful moment, finding enrichment and clarity in my daily meditation and allowing myself to absorb all of the landscapes/conversations/sounds/smells/colors of this place.

03 February 2016

.the kindness of strangers.

It's the greatest gift of traveling, the kindness of strangers. This morning just as I was getting ready to crack an egg in the skillet my gas went out. My stove and water heater all run off of butane gas. It's a small tank and when you run out you just returned it to a grocery store or gas stations for a full one. The only problem was the closest gas station is about 8 blocks away and I don't think the gas companies do one-time deliveries. I tried to decide if I could carry the tank the 8 blocks to the gas station, no way. Then I realize that I could use my bike to carry the tank. I had just made it around the corner from my house with the empty tank balanced on my bike and I was already struggling. A man was standing in his doorway looking at me "it's going to be very difficult to make it" he started telling me in Portuguese I respond back in Spanish, "I don't have any other options" we started problem solving in our Portuguese/Spanish exchange. He helped me prop up the tank in an easier way and I was off, but even with that improvement I could barely make it down the street. He was still watching and told me to wait. He came back with this odd metal contraption on wheels that was wrapped with a water hose. It was a gas tank holder! I made it to the gas station and back to my house in less than 10 minutes! I told him I couldn't of done it without his help when I returned it. He said anytime you need more gas just ring my bell and you can borrow it. The kindness of strangers. 

His kindness was such a beautiful reminder for me to put myself out there, be vulnerable and open to accepting love and kindness as it is given to me, unconditionally.

01 February 2016

.day 30.

I've realized that my time here is to absorb - collect - be. I have so many questions and no answers. I just keep reminding myself to just be grateful for the questions and their answers will come in their own time. I'm a triple fire sign. I'm impulsive. I'm passionate. I'm social. This time here has been isolating in a really nourishing and challenging way. It's building a new awareness inside of me. On my bike ride the phrase "I reside here" came into my mind. I didn't know where it came from at first but then I realized all this time - space - solitude has made me realize how much I leap from myself. How much I reach - strive - outwards - away from myself. 

I reside here. 
A reminder to myself to stay home - right here - inside of myself.

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep and an idea, a design came into my mind that holds to essence of this truth. I'm going to sketch them out today on my commute to the studio. I'm excited to see how they evolve.

24 January 2016

.day 20.

That past few days I've felt a shift happening inside of myself. I started feeling anxious, I've been here 3 weeks now....what am I doing with my time? I'm wasting time. 3 weeks - I have these feelings like I want/need/have to change the way I make art/run my jewelry business - but how? My teacher has been so amazing to open my eyes in a new way, I look at jewelry differently now. I can't make the same pieces I was making before, but what do I want to make? I sat down yesterday and forced myself to sketch some ideas. I need to be sketching! I didn't like anything that I did. I started losing myself in these direct questions and expectations and sat with no answers for anything.

I've started reaching for/relying on these mindless loops of checking emails - did anyone write me?,  checking instagram - do people like my picture?, going to the grocery store - I should try a new recipe, not knowing what to do for the day...distracted and detached. Thus began the second wave of judgement, I am inside of a dream right now! I live in an adorable apartment in an magical town in Portugal, everything should be the best (and easy)! I wake up every morning grateful to be here but this was something moving deep inside of me. This trip is different in ways from other trips I've taken, it's been more meditative. I go out and explore the land here but I'm not on the move. I have made friends in town but I'm not trying to meet a lot of people or find the best spots in town. I spend a lot of quiet time with myself. I think all of this has allowed time and space to shift things, to feel the emerging of something. I came home from metalsmithing class last night and was planning on going to the local bar to meet people but I didn't want to go. I started feeling overwhelmed and lonely. I checked my email, instagram, blogs and made dinner. These mindless loops led me to Kyle Cease. He's part comedian/part motivational speaking, you might have seen this video go around the internet. He started this 100 day meditation challenge for himself. He meditates for around 2 hours everyday and then posts a video about what came up for him. I started watching the introduction video and totally connected to what he was saying, how we live in a world where we try to take care of/figure out things SO directly we end up getting in the way of amazing ideas. The more we relax - the more ideas come through. YES! I am pressured by time and after just enjoying my space here for the first 2 weeks (vacation/settling in phase) I've started to feel the pressure/expectation of time or lack of time and shifted my perspective from "enjoy" to "figure this out!" "where's that great idea?" "what's the detailed business plan?""why haven't you designed a new line to jewelry yet??" Such a powerful realization!! This journey here keeps reminding me to TRUST more and to be more KIND to myself. 

I started meditating today. I set an alarm for 20 minutes and went for it. I am challenging myself to meditate everyday for the rest of my time here to see what emerges. I also challenging myself to stop looking so directly at my anxieties and questions but instead to be more thoughtful with my time and fill it with things that fulfill me - to be present in this beautiful space. 

-bike rides
-taking pictures
-trying new Portuguese recipes
-collecting things at low tide 
-making weavings from found natural objects
-do yoga
-meet local artists
-try espresso and all the cafes
-practice Portuguese
-read books
-explore the Ria Formosa area
-and more!!

23 January 2016

.day 19.

I was missing my bike so much this morning. I ride my bike everyday at home - it's my transportation, my freedom and how I move energy. Then my landlord called this afternoon to tell me she had a bike for me to borrow. Bike dreams do come true! She dropped off the bike at 12:50pm with VERY flat tires. All the stores here are closed for lunch from 1-3pm so I had to wait 2 painstaking hours to get the tires pumped up. 3pm finally came and I headed out to my favorite spot, zooming (I mean it's a commuter bike with a basket...I'm not sure if it can zoom. ha ha!) past a group of very serious retired Brits dressed like they were on a guided safari adventure (this is a strange but common occurrence in my town), with a huge smile on my face. My 40 min walk to where the river meets the ocean is only a 10 minute ride so I looped back and decided to ride a bit more. I took the Ecovia - a bike path connecting the towns of the Algarve region for a little bit to see how the bike handled the muddy roads. Once I reached my planned turn around point I didn't want to turn around, I kept riding. I rode all the way to the next town over, Cabanas. It's a ghost town this time of year, most of the year. Some developers got too excited with hopes of a new surge in tourism to the Algarve region and slapped up complex after complex of cookie cutter condos with unnecessary barred windows. My new friend in town, she owns a used bookstore and gives me endless travel ideas/inspirations/temptations every time I visit her, told me that for the most part the stacks of condos stay empty except for a few families renting one for the Easter holiday. It's sad to see implusive/disconnected development in such a beautiful place. I kept on the bike path, I wanted to see the waterfront. I found Cabanas to have a nice little boardwalk. It's about 3 blocks long and has about 4 cafe/bars and a beautiful view of the docked fishing boats, a narrow sandy beach and a small marshy island.  Listen to this if you need to set the mood. The marshy coastline and fishing boats had such a strong New England vibe to them. I made me think of spring time on the coast, taking trips up to Portland, Maine to visit my friend, Abbi.

I think I could live so many places, I fall in love easily with landscapes. I love being surrounded by mountains so enormous if makes me feel dizzy, overwhelmed by the smells of sage and the warm desert hues, trips down winding muddy country roads, laying on the beach with towering dunes of Cape Cod or soaking up the salty air and relaxing cadence of the ocean lapping up on the beach. Maybe that's why it's so easy for me to move but there is something truly magical about New England, its can be wild or ridigly regal and sometimes both. I felt that same wild energy on the boardwalk of Cabanas as the sun was setting and the damp chill was setting in. I just wanted to sit at the cafe with a glass of wine and enjoy the view a little longer but I had to I forced myself to turn back before it was going to be dark. I'll be back.

What place(s) captivate you? What's your favorite view?


In other events, I started reading Lily Stockman's blog again, she always inspires me. She doesn't post there anymore but reading her posts again feels like reading old letters from a friend. Today is the first FULL moon of 2016, full moon in leo. What a way to start the year! I am dreaming about taking a bus/ferry ride over to Morocco (it's only 5 hours away), one of the great suggestions from my bookstore friend. Speaking of books, I'm traveling to Faro 3x a week for my metalsmith class which means a lot of time on the train. I found A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley at the bookstore, a book I seen a few times but never picked up. I just started it, it's a story of a family farming in the Iowa which feels strange looking out the train window to see the ocean, salt marshes, and orchard after orchard of orange trees. I also just heard about this guy and his 100 days of self connection, such an interesting thought! I'm curious to watch more of his videos.

22 January 2016

.day 18.

If you follow my instagram, @aeodesigns you've probably noticed a lot of posting around the topic of slowing down in my lifestyle and process of making jewelry. I'm actually not even making jewelry right now. l know I came into this experience saying "I don't know what it will hold but I'm down for whatever comes"...EXCEPT I assumed I would be making jewelry, of course. After meeting with my teacher and showing him my work to which he reply, "It's nice - very rustic and simple. You can make any kind of jewelry you want. I know people like rustic things but in my studio every piece is finished professionally." I thought that sounds good to me, I can always be more professional. The next day I started my first exercise, I was to make a perfect square, rectangle and triangle each out of one piece of wire. It took me 3 attempts to make an ok square and 4 hours to make all 3 shapes. The exercise brought up so much for me!! I left the studio feeling overwhelmed and drained. 

Art is my meditation. It has been one of my greatest teachers - it challenges me - pushes me inside myself to see an honest reflection of my shadows and my light. 

In that first studio session I had this domino of emotions within those 4 hours, first seeking validation from my teacher then finding frustration in how my time was directed and then a whole lot of self-judgement. I spent most of the actual class time trying to be the best student - seeking that validation of skill from him. It wasn't until the class was over that I took time to step back and think about the class - how did it feel? what did I learned? - I starting feeling frustrated I just spent 4 hours and X amount of money learning how to make a square, rectangle and triangle. For what? I've been doing metal work since 2009! I shouldn't be spending my time here on such a simple exercise. Then I realized that I was doing that exercise because I didn't know how to do it. It seems obvious to say that but it was the truth. I've taken a handful of metalsmith classes in Seattle and Chicago but honestly most of my learning has been in the studio by myself just trying things. I am a creative and one of my greatest abilities is to improvise.  I think because of my life choices and experiences I have had to practice this, a lot. Improvising comes naturally to me now, so I use it. I rely on it. I practice it. Improvisation is in my art. I decide what I want to make and figure out how to do that with my limited skill set. I can always get to the destination I want so I don't focus on finding/adding new skills. This was a big a-ha! for me. I became overwhelmed with self-judgment of being 31 (almost 32) and realizing that it's hard for me to invest in things. I start things - I pick things up and set them down. I started counting how many different jobs I've had in my life, it's a BIG number. I've picked apples, worked as a barista, walked dogs, caught babies in a birth center, created a community garden at a health center, taught sex ed, been a hostess at a fine dining restaurant, facilitate a maternal health task force in subsaharan Africa...the only thing to do when you get this deep into self-judgment is called someone that loves you. I called my Mom. She told me to feel the change - all these beautiful vibrant life experiences have brought me to this moment. Where do I want to go from here? I realized I just needed to change my perspective, not to judge but to appreciate that something is shifting inside of me. I think I'm ready to focus - to invest - to be open to diving deeper into something.

19 January 2016

.words to live by.

“Hidden doubts and fears build walls around you.
When you humbly acknowledge,
allow yourself to be aware of,
your doubts and your fears,
the walls come down.
You are open and vulnerable.
You are imperfect.
You are lovable.
Your vulnerability, not your light,
is your most attractive quality.
All people give off light.
Vulnerable people also let light in.”
~Paul Williams