Time For Me To Go

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It’s time for me to go.

I’ve had an amazing time in Tucson. I’ve made many beautiful friends who I will cherish for my whole life. I’ve had many fine adventures. I’ve learned much, shared much, and received much love here.

I’ve loved my little desert oasis, my colorful little double-wide in Picture Rocks, my gardens, the amazing wildlife, the archaeology, the poetry, the stars!

I’ve loved you, my friends, who have shared so much with me and had so much fun with me, and given my life such joy!

But, it is time for me to go.

At first, I was super excited about the prospect of a life-changing move. Back to my soul’s home. In the mountains. In a tiny hamlet. In a smaller home. Nearer the sea.

Then, I found myself overwhelmed and scared. How was I going to uproot and leave my precious WildHeart Ranch and the amazing Creative Cottage behind? How was I (physically, emotionally, & psychologically) going to pack up an exuberant life-time of treasures and memories to build a new streamlined nest somewhere new?

There have been many moments when my fear of leaving has almost been bigger than my dream of moving on. I’ve wanted to cling to what I know & love. I’ve wanted the best of BOTH worlds. I’ve struggled and second-guessed and often found myself in tears.

But then I realized that this struggle is a vital part of the process. A butterfly has quite a battle breaking out of the chrysalis. A bird works hard to hatch out of an egg. And a soul takes a while to break free of old patterns.

Finally, I’ve come to this.

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It is time for me to go.

Life is an adventure. Change brings new gifts and insights. Daring to embrace challenges expands our capacity to grow and learn new things. Stretching increases flexibility. Seeing things with new eyes broadens perspective.

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I’ve had a few rough years…first with my own heart attack and then with my Beloved’s terminal illness. Both scared me, made me feel incredibly vulnerable, and reminded me about the ultimate fragility of life.

In lots of ways illness makes your life smaller, more precarious, much less adventurous, and a lot more precious.

But it also helps to refine and clarify what is important. And what is not.

It’s helped me to ask myself some deep, soul-searching questions and to work toward living more fully, more genuinely, more joyfully within the constraints of age and illness.

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I’ve been a worker bee all my life. I pour a tremendous amount of energy and attention into everyone I meet and everything I do. I have always been involved in a complex web of careers, causes, creations, and conversations. I burn the candle at both ends and often in the middle. I’m always fully engaged and entirely committed to all that I do.

But it is time to “get real” with the facts. I am entering a new phase. Needing to rest and recharge more frequently. Having to slow down and take better care of myself. Needing to eliminate so much of what I’ve accumulated. Wanting to savor more and stress less.

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It’s time for me to go.

The work I’ve been doing on my new home in Julian has been strenuous and demanding. There have been many unexpected delays and setbacks. There have been difficulties and distresses. But there have also been tremendous blessings and unexpected miracles too. My friends have graciously stepped forward to help me and I have been blessed by caring folk who have helped me resolve each momentous problem with professionalism and kindness.

Even when I am scared poop-less, I believe

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I know it is time for me to go.

Hard as it is. Exhausting as it is. Scary as it is.

It is time.

I’ve had many beautiful spiritual breakthroughs in this process and my soul is growing each day as my dream gets closer to becoming my new reality.

I’ve learned that…

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It’s been soooooo physically demanding that I’ve  found myself “running on empty” the last few weeks. Time-lines have had to be dramatically re-adjusted, expectations have had to be significantly pared down, and realities have had to replace hopes.

Plus, I’ve had to factor into the equation that I’m a frazzled, grumpy, broken-down old crone now and not the abundantly energetic, utterly optimistic, completely capable young hippie girl I once was who moved 25 times in her adult life.

But the hardest thing (by far!) is that I hadn’t properly realized how EMOTIONAL all this was going to be! I find myself weeping a whole lot. I can’t sleep for all the things racing around in my head. I have two dozen lists, none of which I can find when I need them. The stress and anxiety sometimes get the better of me. What I would give for a day of creative play at the Cottage with you all, laughing and talking, eating cookies and sipping tea, and just being in the wonderful circle of your loving companionship. Oooops, there I go, crying again.

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Soooo, thanks for being patient with me as I struggle through this awkward dance of transformation. Thanks for knowing that your kindness and encouragement mean so much to me. Thanks for knowing this is, perhaps, the hardest thing I’ve ever in my life done (and that’s saying quite a lot!) and I’m not doing it all that well. Thanks for loving me and supporting me and forgiving me and encouraging me anyhow.

More news as it unfolds…

Meanwhile, THANK YOU!

It is time for me to go.

Much Love From Kaitlin

(who is, with your help, singing her way up the very steep mountain toward her dreams)

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©Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

All images from Pinterest. No copyright infringement intended.

 

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

NEW YEAR, NEW LIFE!

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I’m having a very sloooow start to the New Year, how about you? Can’t quite get myself into gear, still have a trillion things “to do” on my 2019 “must do” list, and I’m feeling decidedly torn between worlds as I race back and forth between our home in Tucson and our new home in Julian…but, slowly, slowly I’m beginning to embrace the new decade by making lots of excited plans for AFTER the BIG MOVE!

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 The BIG MOVE is absorbing every ounce of my attention and energy. Sometimes, I wake up not quite sure where I am, Tucson or Julian. I have a hundred lists scrawled on ragged bits of paper, the backs of hardware store receipts, and in odd pockets of my purse. I’m juggling lots of kind helpers and many busy professionals, delayed deliveries and unexpected setbacks.

My quiet, rural life is, for the next few weeks, totally up-ended and in complete chaos. I never get a chance to unpack my bag before having to grab it and race off again. I’ve lost my “day planner” at least a dozen times and my car keys seem to find the most unusual places to hide! Meals are hit & miss, sleep is illusive, and days race by without me being quite certain where they went. 

Thanks to my dear friends for reminding me that “chaos is creative” and sending me this quote, which I have taken to heart: “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”– Deepak Chopra

Our cozy home in Tucson is a war zone of boxes and disassembled life. It’s utter chaos but, by the tiniest of little steps, we are getting closer to the day we will FINALLY move to California and I must happy myself with that thought–even when I can’t find my other shoe, I’ve lost the dimensions of the new kitchen, or I’ve waited all day for a delivery that, alas, was “re-scheduled” without notifying me.

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“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”– Lao Tzu

I’m trying to remind myself that

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In many HUGE ways. Leaving our wonderful WildHeart Ranch after nearly two decades is the biggest part. Passing the Creative Cottage forward to the amazing artistic tribe that has loved it with me for nearly a decade is another. But leaving the loving circle of so many intense friendships I’ve made in Tucson is, perhaps, the hardest part of all.

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I’m excited by all the new horizons I am walking toward, thrilled to have a little smaller home to tend to, and I’ll be so pleased to be back in the green mountains, nearer the blue sea. But the transition is soooo challenging and I’m no “spring chick” anymore so the demanding physicality of moving takes a more intense toll than it used to.

But, it will be worth it. It will.

If I can just get through it!

And out the other side.

Home at last!

I have to keep whispering to myself that the huge risk, the intense work, the wishes and hopes, the dreams and prayers, will all be worth it when my beloved Albert is safely tucked in by the fire, reading and smiling. That’s what keeps me going when I’m tired and cranky, hungry and blue.

Daring is worth it. Dreaming is worth it. Doing is worth it!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”– Andre Gide

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Meanwhile, please forgive me for not answering all your kind calls and emails, for not being there for all the important events or cool activities, for being a lot more scatter-brained than usual (are you smiling at that?), and for not staying in the best of touch these days.

Please forgive me for being a little behind on the Cottage transition plan and the promised jumble sales. Please know that I love you and that we will, indeed, have a big transition party soon and the jumble sale tables will be overflowing with good stuff to share. And, please, keep us in your prayers as we navigate the perilous path from one home to another.

Thank you for all the thoughtful notes and encouraging emails, for all the offers of help and solace. Please know that despite a life-time of being less than easy on myself, I’m trying to remember to treat myself gently through all of this…to just take it one minute at a time…and to endlessly repeat this new mantra…

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But you also need to know that sometimes I’m scared to death. This whole adventure is HUGE for a 73 year old woman and an 82 year old man to undertake. Uprooting is never easy and so many things are completely out of our control. There is so much sorrow mixed with our hope of more joy. Leaving Tucson (WildHeart, The Creative Cottage, & so many wonderful friends) will be soooooo hard. But we must and so we will.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”– Steve Maraboli

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More news soon, “official” moving date scheduled for the first week of February (if the creeks don’t rise & we’re not plunged into another world war), and I hope you remember (even when you can’t see my silly, freckled face grin, that I am sending so much love and gratitude for your friendship.

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Happy, Happy New Year!

Please work, dare, dream your own new adventures!

Love Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Coasting On Empty

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Happy Holidays!

Just sittin’ down here “fer a spell” to catch you up on all my adventures amidst the hectic preparations for our BIG move from Tucson, Arizona to Julian, California. Whoooosh–what a process!

Everybody warned me about all the possible setbacks, delays, unexpected problems, and impossible deadlines I was likely to experience…but (Suzie Sunshine that I am!) I was waaaaay too excited to take heed. Trust me, over the last several weeks, we’ve experienced them all. And then some! Workmen, suppliers, unexpected but vitally important necessary repairs to the house. Snow! Mismatched paint. Electrical issues. Yikes!

But I’m learning (well, I’m trying to learn!) to

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I had this totally unrealistic idea (daaaaaa!) that we could spend Christmas in our new home. Poooof–what was I thinking? Our new timeline is that we’ll be able to move the first week of February and celebrate Valentine’s Day together, all tucked in and settled, in Julian. (And that’s IF every danged thing stays on track.)

I hadn’t figured on all the stress and heartache involved…I hadn’t properly factored in that I’m an old, broken-down crone with a smaller pool of energy and stamina than I once had. For sure, I hadn’t really thought about the zillions of flooring options out there. I hadn’t realized that everything about trying to get into a new house involves money, money, money, and time, time, time!

But, finally, I’ve begun to understand that

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I’ve been soooo blessed to have dear friends Allan, Arnie, and Mark doing most of the carpentry and painting. I’ve had many flashes of good fortune in the midst of terrible setbacks. The progress has been very slow but steady and strong. Our families have been amazingly enthusiastic and financially generous. There have been far more blessings than defeats.

We are determined, despite all the fears and fatigue, all the worries and setbacks, to bravely keep going, to realize our dream, and to make this HUGE leap of faith work!

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I’ll admit, several times, along the way, I’ve wondered what the heck I was thinking when I thought I could do this. Several times I’ve nearly given up hope that I could. A few times I’ve thought, “well maybe, we should just stay put here and not venture there” but always, at the end of the day, after a bath, when I’m in my p.j.s dreaming what it will be like to kayak on the lake or climb the piney woods trail, my spirits lift and my dreams come back into focus, and I forge on.

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Because our new home is smaller and cozier and I won’t have my own land around me to stretch out on, I’ve begun the very painful process of sifting through decades of “collections” (a nicer word than hoards!) and letting go of a thousand “things” (a kinder word than “stuff”)…but it’s tougher than I thought. Memories, stories, remembrances about each thing…”what if I might need this?”…maybe in my new home I’ll be able to finish this old project that I started years ago or read these zillion books I’ve collected…and how about all these rusty treasures that I LOVE?…these ponderings make “letting things go” even harder.*

But I just have to…

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(* P. S. I’ll be having a few BIG jumble sales at the Cottage in late January to help pass lots of my cool things forward to others who can use them and it makes me happy to think that many of my “treasures” will find happy new homes!)

I must admit, sometimes I get really, really scared. This is a HUGE life change! I’m going to miss all of you and the Cottage so much! I’m going to miss my magical WildHeart Ranch. But I’m learning, slowly, painfully,

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This whole experience is teaching me

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and reminding me that without risk there cannot be reward.

When I get frustrated that the timeline keeps getting hijacked by unexpected delays, I try to remember that

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and I congratulate myself on believing that

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(especially if it doesn’t kill you!)

For now, I am wishing you and yours so much love and happiness through what can be a challenging holiday time for many…I wish

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Albert and I are celebrating a very quiet, modest, private,  no-frills, home-body Christmas, our last at WildHeart, and though we can’t do our traditional parties, gifts, cards, gatherings, and all the usual fa-la-la that we are famous for, we are sending you our love and a small glowing ember of HOPE that you and yours are safe & warm & celebrating in your own merry ways.

More news soon…take good care of each other…be kinder than usual…be grateful…try not to get swept up in any seasonal frenzy, guilt, stress, or sadness… and remember that your friend Kaitlin is sending you love, light, and her heart-felt belief in dreams!

Happy Holidays!

With Love & Gratitude,

Kaitlin

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© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

NEW ADVENTURES!

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O my friends!

I’m so excited to report that I’ve made a HUGE, wonderful, scary, exciting leap of faith! In the New Year, my Love and I will be resettling our nest in the mountains of Julian, California. In a series of unexpected miracles and miraculous serendipity, we found a cozy little home there and have begun the loving process of fixing it up and making it our own.

This totally unexpected turn of events has completely re-inspired me, rekindled my spirit, and given me so much new hope because…

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We have been yearning to return to California to be nearer our families for some time now but, because Sweetheart was committed to his cancer treatments here for several years, we postponed thinking about it, knowing the timing  just wasn’t right.

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But when my dear husband Albert decided last month he was ready to stop his grueling chemo treatments, we knew it was time to re-imagine our lives and make some bold new decisions about how best to celebrate & enjoy what time we may still have together.

We found that…

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and so we did…dancing around the kitchen, talking (for the first time in years) about new paths, new dreams, new horizons…remembering that

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The fates, as they so often do, decided to step in and help us by surprising us with this unexpected opportunity in Julian and we LEAPT, mostly without a net,  because we KNEW this was the right place, the right time, and the right thing for us to do.

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The process has been a very exciting whirlwind, with one thing after another falling magically into place, as if destined. We’ve had blessing after blessing befall us as we embraced this new decision…allies and angels have stepped in and little miracles have happened, all of which makes us feel even more strongly that we are doing the right thing and are on a blessed path.

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Our families have been so incredibly generous and helpful. Our friends have been so encouraging in expressing their delight for us. An overwhelming sense of joy & hope has replaced the last several years of feeling fear and worry.

We have learned…

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This decision was made with pure love. And hope. And infinite faith.

Love for all we have shared & experienced in our over 16 years in Tucson. Love for all the friends we have made, all the wonderful adventures we have had here, and all the joy we have had being the stewards of our beloved WildHeart Ranch.

And, for me, most especially, the gratitude I feel for the amazing gift of sharing the Creative Cottage with you for nine years!

We’ve loved you all, we’ve loved our home, and we’ve loved Tucson but, now, it’s time to go “home” in ways both metaphorical and actual.

Don’t get me wrong, we know this HUGE life change isn’t going to be easy…we know

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We know uprooting and transplanting won’t be without significant challenges… but we also know that NOW is our time to do this and we are eager and excited (and scared and happy) to embark on this, perhaps our last, Big Adventure together.

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The process is underway in earnest. I have dashed back and forth to California several times so far. Work has begun on several big projects in our new home. Boxes are starting to get packed and new dreams are beginning to hatch.

It will take a couple of months for us to get moved to California and to sell WildHeart in Tucson, but our goal is to be completely settled into our new home together by Valentine’s Day!

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That is our goal. It is daunting…but doable.

We are leaping with joy & our full, happy, excited, wide-open hearts believing that

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We are so looking forward to being back in the green woods again, in the California mountains, in a tiny village, much nearer the sea, closer to old friends and, especially, to Albert’s beloved son Erik & family and my beloved sister Kim & family.

For me…

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and that is where my soul so longs to be.

My fondest hope is that the Creative Cottage will continue on as the amazing artistic clubhouse it has been, the oasis of creativity and friendship it has been, the place of healing and laughter and joy that it has been. I hope to work with those of you who have so graciously stepped forward with a desire to keep the Cottage going and who are  willing to take up the challenge of keeping the space the vibrant and exciting center of creative play that it has been.

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So stay tuned, much is in the works, I will keep you informed through this blog and newsy emails about the whole process. There will be several pop-up jumble sales coming up as we pare down our “stuff” to fit into our new, smaller footprint.

I hope there will be news to share about new, re-imagined classes for the New Year at the Cottage soon.

Keep the faith. Be of good cheer. Trust in miracles.

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The Creative Cottage will be hibernating for the month of December while I am knee-deep in the evolving process of making these exciting life changes, trying to stay in the moment, and working to make all the transitions graceful and heart-felt.

I am so much looking forward to sharing this magical journey with you!

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I send you joy & peace in this intense season of change…and

Love Love Love From Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

TRUSTING TRANSITIONS

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I’ve been thinking…deeply, quietly, pondering, musing, dreaming. This is my favorite season and I do a good deal of my personal cogitating and inward-looking during the respite of Autumn’s softening light. Time for counting my blessings, bringing in the harvest of my emotions, reminding myself that, no matter what my circumstances,

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It’s time to bring in the last roses before the first frost.

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But First: a happy update. My October adventure along California’s beautiful coastline with my beloved sister Kim was amazing! We talked and talked–laffed and laffed–cried and cried–played on the beach every day, read books, scribbled in our journals, ate at the Sea Shanty, and stayed in the most delightfully charming place in Cayucos, the Seaside Motel! We LOVED it!!!

My sister reminded me who I am, what my dreams are, and “from wench I came.” I’ve always thought of myself as a sort of orphan, but she reminded me I have a “family” in her & her extended tribe. And a place at the hearth of life beside her.

Sisters are a powerful thing! I’m so grateful for the magic of the beach trip and all she taught me while we were there. My sister  re-ignited my spark and lit new lamps of hope in my heart. Thank You Kim and family!

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So, go put the tea kettle on my friends, get us a yummy, warm-from-the-oven snack, curl up here in front of the fire, and let me tell you all about what I’ve been thinking…pondering, musing…

Since I returned from the sea, I’ve been letting in lots of things I didn’t have time (or mental/emotional space) for before I left. I’ve been “getting real” with lots of things that I had all but refused to think about in the three years of active care and cancer treatments for my Sweetheart. I’ve been letting in the love and concern, the caring and wisdom, the solace and thoughtful advice of those who love me. And, like the changing seasons, I’m changing too; letting go of some things and embracing others in new ways.

I’m even daring to embrace BIG NEW DREAMS, for the first time in years!

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A huge transition is coming. I can feel it rumbling under my feet and stirring in my heart, like a playful little breeze, skipping scarlet & golden leaves along the illuminated path ahead of us.

I’m not sure where it will take me or what it has in store for me. All I can do is trust.

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My husband Albert has made a brave, thoughtful decision to cease his grueling cancer treatments after a very long & dedicated effort (with the wonderful, compassionate care of Donald Brooks & Linda at AZ Oncology). He has chosen to step off the chemo treadmill in favor of a much enhanced, short-term, better “quality of life.” Far from being sad, this decision has really re-energized and re-inspired us to think about “what now?”

A “what now” considerably  constrained by his illness, my aversion to the heat, the constantly changing chaotic dynamic of world politics, the cruel dispensation of various dark stars who, apparently, are in love with going retrograde, and our ever tightening purse strings which make options fewer and fewer. We’re both dedicated to a “what now” that’s all about love and trust and steady good cheer. Together.

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The time has come. Changes are afoot.

Time to shift our balance, hunker down, live out however many days there are ahead of us with love and grace.

Together.

Not sure exactly what that’s going to look like. Or how it’s going to work out.  Or where it’s going to take us. Or when, precisely, it’s going to happen.

All I can do is trust.

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It’s been a hard, hard, HARD up-hill climb for both of us these last several years. Between my takotsubo heart attack and Albert’s multiple myeloma.  Through trials and tribulations. Through sorrows and joys. Through years of energetic commitment to our passions, causes, responsibilities, and obligations. We’ve braved it ALL, together. Mostly holding hands. True friends. Comrades. Loving companions. Partners. NO MATTER WHAT! 

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But now it’s time for peace and calm and rest. These last few seasons of our lives, we want nothing more than a new nest, a peaceful roost in the trees, a cozy fire in the wood stove, a good book, and our faithful old dog Gus beside us.  We’re ready to release most of our “material world” stuff, jettison our old, ill-fitting  roles & responsibilities,  and strike out on a new path with re-inspired energy and enthusiasm for whatever moments we have left.

We’ve decided to…

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and look for somewhere softer, sweeter, less demanding of our energies. A place where we can write, read, create, and just BE for however long we have. Together.

Our philosophy?

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So, stay tuned.

Big, Happy, Good News is Coming!

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Catch every sunset that you can!

With Love and Trust In Transitions,

Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

AUTUMN AT LAST!

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O my gosh! It’s been such a long while since I’ve had a free moment to write to you and let you know how I am and what’s up with me. Thanks for your patience and love! It was a danged bumpy summer for me, with some big setbacks, unexpected derailments, and serious muddles–but, the good news is…I’m back! I’m a little dented and dinged, exhausted and frayed, but so happy it is finally Autumn! Can I hear an “AMEN”!

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I finally feel released from the great oppression that is Tucson’s summer heat! It’s time to reconvene Cottage fun, spread my wings in new creative pursuits, and have some magical adventures. I’ve a big gathering basket full of new classes and artist date ideas for you, I’ve got a handful of exciting art commissions to work on, and, guess what, I’m finally going to have a tiny vacation from all the stresses and woes in my life!

The sunflowers are blooming…

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and the nights are cool enough to resume listening to music under the stars again at my favorite venue La Cocina!

I have a load of Fall vegetables and herbs to plant, a new tire for my trusty old red bicycle named Gladys (after my favorite Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley), my friend Zizz and I are planning to resume our sunset saunters (and gabfests!), and Pimm and I are going to spend more time hiking and foraging about on Mount Lemmon to get a real taste of autumn weather & color!

But, best of all, it’s finally time for a little trip with my amazing sister in California!

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We’re on our way for a week of off-season frolic in a quiet little beach town along the central California coast.

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Our bags are packed with art supplies, new journals, twinkle lights and mermaid themed decorations for our room, and seven blissful days of walking the shoreline, romping in the waves, and giggling ourselves crazy! Two sea loving sisters, no waiting!

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I’ll take lots of pictures and tell you all about it when I return…meanwhile, please, please, please hurry and sign up for lots of classes, visit the Girlz With HeART tab above to see the very inspiring work of the young women I mentor, and come along on some of the fun Creativity Chix adventures we’ll share this Autumn.

Remember:

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and please do your part to hold grace, love, and kindness in your heart in these crazy times!

Happy Autumn At Last!!!!

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Love and good tidings,

Kaitlin

Images gratefully shared from Pinterest.

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Learning To Breathe

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I’d like to take Italian lessons and learn how to weld. I’d like to build a meandering stone wall (a la Andy Goldsworthy) and live in a tiny cabin on the edge of a musical creek. I’d like to walk the Camino de Santiago like my friend Maria or make art journals as beautiful and meaningful as my friend Anne’s. I’d like to tango like my friend Heather and zip line through a Costa Rican rain forest.

But, this summer, I’m busy. I’m learning to breathe.

Learning to pause. Learning to savor. Learning to BE.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

It’s like meditation. How hard could it be to just sit with an empty mind? Very hard, as it turns out, danged near impossible it seems for people like me who are always thinking, feeling, dreaming, creating.

But here’s the key…

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There are soooo many distractions, obligations, siren calls, and relentless assaults on our personal peace. There are a million things to do and see and get done. But this long, hot, endless Tucson summer, I am just trying to learn to breathe.

In and out. Innnnn…and….outtttttt.  Deeply in…deeply out. Calm and steady. Slow and conscious. The sacred act of breathing.

So simple and so hard.

And by slowing down to breathe I have discovered so much about myself.

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I have given myself the gift of time not scripted by work or obligations, not constrained by chores or the demands of living in a broken world. 

Time to enjoy working on several big juicy art projects, writing a new collection of poetry, returning to the lost art of writing long handwritten letters to dear ones (in your mailbox soon Mariah).

Time to read scads of fantastic books. Time to watch oodles of good movies from the Pima Public Library’s wonderful Kanopy service. Time to sort, organize, and release tons of “stuff.”

I’ve been spending many fine hours with my Sweetheart, moments made so much sweeter and more poignant as our mortality looms larger.

I have definitely turned off the blare of media and bad news, the spew of drama and discontent, and decided to consciously embrace the theory that life is more about attitude than circumstance.

I have decided to be happy. Even though…the world is falling apart, the summer heat is exhausting, the car needed unexpected, costly repairs, and I somehow sprained my right wrist.

I have decided to be grateful…even though I’m worried about how to keep the Cottage afloat and the curved-bill thrashers have mocked every effort to keep the tomatoes safe on the vine, and , did I mention, I sprained my right wrist?

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That means not feeding myself all the toxic spew of politics, not lamenting what I wish I had or used to be able to do or all the places it is clear I will never see (goodbye dreams of New Zealand, Borneo, and returning to Ireland).

I’ve learned as an old crone, made fragile from a long life of very hard work, blighted by Lyme Disease and a heart attack, seriously limited now in my once robust physical stamina, that for everything there is a season and this season for me is about restoration and re-enchanting my life with creativity, friends, and the small, beautiful moments that I might have missed if I hadn’t slowed down enough to savor them.

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I’m officially out of the drama business. I have given up most of my ambition, striving, achieving, and exhaustive running in circles in favor of just being compassionate, kind, and genuinely loving. It’s a full-time job NOT ranting about politics, crying over the woes of the world, feeling hopeless and defeated by the daily outrages against reason, civil discourse, and human decency.  But I have firmly come to believe that…

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So, hard as it is, I am working to simplify and deepen my life.

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Like my dear friend Sandi in Santee, I believe part of my spiritual practice is trying to be a radiant, loving, thoughtful, creative woman, working with my hands and my heart in the small, sacred tendings of garden and loved ones.

As the world cranks itself up into one frenzy after another, one crisis and then three more, I am trying to learn to just content myself with living a simpler life, gradually paring back my human footprint on the delicate ecology of the planet.

I am working on opening my heart in these hard times when the heart can get so bruised and battered that it almost feels safer to close it off, board it up, and not feel all the sadness and woe.

Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t easy. It doesn’t come naturally to me not to work, work, workgive, give, give…but the task of elders, it seems to me, is to have time to share, stories to tell, wisdom to exchange, experience to count on. Eldership requires a long, hard look at what is, not what was, what might be, or what we might want it to be.

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And part of loving this new phase of my life is that it gives me time for immense gratitude. For friends like 96 year old Mari who continues to read and think and write and be fully present in the world through her own sense of gratitude for each moment of her well-lived life. For books and music and the fellowship of the Cottage tribe. For my raggedy little shack in the desert where there is fresh food and clean sheets and a little dog named Gus who adds joy to every day. For my dear sister Kim and the magical time we are finally able to share after decades apart. For the sunrise through the clouds, the call of the hawk on the high thermals, the laughter of children. For soooo much more.

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So please, take a moment, right THIS moment, to breathe…to be grateful…to give yourself a break. Stop waiting for things to get better, the stars to properly align, the lottery ticket to pay off…stop comparing yourself to what you don’t have and start making an inventory of what you do have. Stop waiting for someone else, something else to make you happy…

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Know that I am a fellow wayfarer on this rocky road with you and that at the Creative Cottage I offer you a cool drink from my canteen, a safe rest from the world’s tragedies, and a place to prop open your heart to receive the immeasurable blessings of friendship and respite.

Come play…

One deep breath at a time,

Love, Kaitlin

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© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Practicing Peace

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Summer in Tucson, Arizona is my least favorite season. I am NOT a hot weather person. An Irish lass by heritage, a redwood forest hippie by inclination, 82 degrees would be my ideal summer high temperature…preferably by a body of water (I love oceans best but a creek will do)…under a canopy of trees (redwoods are the best but I’ll take big, old oaks too)…in my daydreams I live in a hut by a river or in a shack by the sea–never, ever under a saguaro.

But here I am. And here I must be. And it’s up to me to make the best of it.

There will be no vacation this year. No trip to the beach. No jaunt up to the Sierras to see my sister. No respite. I’m stuck. Two more months of “too hot for humans” in Tucson.

Can’t tackle any big projects. Can’t spend too much time outdoors. Can’t abide the heat and the glare. Can’t take another moment of the pathetic high crimes & felonies of our politicians. Can’t. It’s too much! It could drive a woman CRAZEE!

So, my “homework” for this sizzling season is Practicing Peace.

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Not “visualizing” peace or “praying” for peace, but actually WORKING toward BEING peace.

Slowing down. Appreciating. Taking in. Breathing out.

Neither creating nor participating in drama.

Reading. Writing. Sewing. Staring off into space.

Re-grouping. Replenishing.

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Observing the antics of two fledgling Great Horned Owls born in a high crook of our huge Grandfather Mesquite.

Blessed to see the delicate unfolding of the fleeting, one day blossoming, ceres cacti.

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Sitting on the front porch with my Sweetheart to watch the sunset after a monsoon storm.

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What I am beginning to understand is, these days, 

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My days of scurrying around, trying to juggle 15 balls in the air (while whistling the entire score of Evita) are over. It’s time to let soooo much go…to make choices that promote my personal peace…

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Eliminating as many old, worn-out obligations and “have to’s” as I can has helped me enter a wonderful new phase in my life. It gives me so many more opportunities to be tuned in to the amazing moments of ordinary life.

I was deeply inspired by one of my favorite mentors, Asia from One Willow Apothecaries in a recent blog post in which she wrote about choosing peace.

You can choose peace, even when everything in the world is telling you that you must push, strive, change, transform, end it all, or begin something new.

You can choose peace, even if that means upsetting the expectations of others.
 
You can choose peace and still change your life from the inside out. In fact, sometimes peace is the path to transformation itself.
 
You can choose peace and still be blessed with an abundance of creativity, love, nourishment and magic— it’ll just arrive differently. Less like an asteroid, and more like a white votive, glowing steady in a hallowed alcove.

So whenever a new opportunity or invitation comes up ask yourself: Will this increase my sense of well-being? Does this support me in nourishing my overall existence? Will this help me cultivate peace?”

It’s amazing, if you make the conscious decision to step off the roller coaster, jump off the carousel, and not feel so compelled to do do do, buy buy buy, go go go, worry worry worry, your life gradually starts filling with peace.

One day at a time.

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And remember, my life ain’t easy. It’s complicated. There’s much going on. It’s not as though I don’t still have a huge number of responsibilities and chores. Keeping my tiny art studio and classes afloat, tending to the needs of my very ill husband, being a writer and an artist and a social justice activist, maintaining our small oasis at WildHeart Ranch to be a vibrant sanctuary for critters and plants…there’s plenty to do but…

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That’s what I’m doing this summer–what about you?

Here’s my prayer…

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what’s yours?

Let’s you and I meet, out beyond the heat and hate, out under the big oak, by the side of the singing creek. Let’s take a picnic and spend all day playing, laughing, talking, and dreaming…

Together, let’s always

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Love And Peace From Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

IN THE STUDIO, HIBERNATING

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Summer in the Southwest is like winter in the East. Time to hibernate.

Summer in the Southwest is a great time to stay indoors, out of the heat, “in the studio,” spending long, happy hours puttering, playing, and creating.

The above picture is not really my studio of course–but the one I dream of. A cute little gypsy wagon, a boho vardo, a magical retreat down a winding green path, snuggled in the deep, cool woods.

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It’s a place entirely set aside for JOY!

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A place where my books and paints and projects can be left out & messy because

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and play is sacred work for an artist. 

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Of course, in my dreams, it has fabulous storage options,

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and innovative ways to store all my loot.

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It would have infinite wall space, a record player (I LOVE records!),

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and, definitely, a cozy day bed where I could relax with the kitties between creative outbursts.

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In my magical creative space, there would be all the tools I’ve ever dreamed of

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and a huge, high wall I could hang big canvases while I worked on them.

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While we’re dreaming, my studio would have all the light and air and space I needed to feel inspired…

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plus a colorful little lounge where I could sit with my friends, sipping intoxicating beverages and laughing all day.

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In my perfect studio, I’d make raw, powerful, evocative work like Freda

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because, after all,  it’s all about the ART…

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So, picture me in my fantastic imaginary perfect studio, spending the whole long, hot, glaring summer ensconced; dabbling, dancing, reading, & painting in a creative chaos of joy…

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because, after all,

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But, for now, I find my art making space where I can–sometimes at the Creative Cottage, sometimes in my converted garage studio, The Vortex, and sometimes just on the kitchen table. The important thing I’ve learned is

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So, please come join me, in your fancy studio or on the kitchen table,

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Because, really, summer in the Southwest is for hibernating!

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Love and Happy Creating,

Kaitlin

(Hibernating)

© Copyright, Kaitlin meadows. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

A Healing Hiatus

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Thank you for waiting for me. For sending cards and leaving messages, for bringing food and extending well wishes through the ether. Thank you for holding my place in your heart and trusting that I would be back just as soon as I possibly could.

It’s been a long, hard, difficult journey. There have been many days I was not sure I could find my way back to you at all. There were nights that I thought it might be best to just quietly disappear without a word or a trace.

But, slowly, painfully, I have climbed back up toward the light and I am grateful that you have been waiting for me here. Thank you.

The tale is too complicated to share. Suffice to say, it involved a couple of weeks of near-death pneumonia for my Sweetheart (plus several weeks of painfully slow recovery), some unexpected emotional tumult for me in the wake of my Mom’s death, a few challenging complications with my own health and heart, several  catastrophic breakdowns of mechanical things, the loss of some dear friends to death, and the abrupt realization that my tank was empty and my battery was dead.

Thich Nhat Hanh has been one of my most trusted spiritual advisors for many years and these words seemed to leap out at me and lend me permission to take a break…

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And so I did. I hunkered down. I climbed deeply back into the recesses of my spirit cave. I stopped talking and doing and being so I could hear my soul whispering sternly to me.

I’d lost my way a bit. I’d been so absorbed in my mate’s cancer and care for the last two+  years that I sort of forgot about me and my own needs. I was deeply sad in many ways for which I had no words. My life seemed an endless round of chores and stressors, emergencies and setbacks, heartache and fatigue.

It was time to…

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A million things combined to make an immediate and prolonged hiatus mandatory for my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

I desperately needed to heed this good advice:

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Of course, I couldn’t do it in the seething midst of the daily crisis of my husband’s pneumonia or between the tumultuous emotional waves of sadness in coming to terms with the fact that my mother died without ever really knowing me. I couldn’t do it with all the chores piling up and the very hard setback of not being able to go visit my beloved sister Kim in the Sierras this Spring.

But something deep within me let me know that what I had to do was get off the roller coaster for a minute, pull into myself, breathe, pray, meditate, make some big changes, and regroup.

In the pause, I began to remember that…

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It wasn’t easy. I’m nothing if not an over-achiever and it’s always been my worst fear to let anyone down or not to be able to help others who need me. But this was clearly a moment where I needed to put on my own oxygen mask first and I did,  gulping for air, as the fragile airship of my life dangerously spiraled toward exhaustion.

There were whole weeks when I did not leave the house for anything but Albert’s medical treatments. There were days when I could do nothing but breathe and pray. I did not read emails or respond to phone calls. I lost track of the world. All I could do was try to re-calibrate my compass and re-sole my emotional hiking boots.

Healing came slowly but I learned soooo much along the way.

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It took some time.

It wasn’t easy.

Often it felt danged near impossible.

But I persisted. I dug in. I refused to let myself be pulled under, drowned in the mire of stress that surrounded me. The storms continued to rage around me. The hits just kept coming. Every time I thought I might make it to the life raft, another wave crashed over me. My heart started acting up–stuttering and stopping, kicking and bucking. I had to let many things go. I had decline many kind invitations and abandon many dreams. All I could do was hold on tight and TRUST.

Gradually, gradually, Albert’s condition improved, things got fixed, my health started to improve, and I was finally able to let my Mom go with no resentment or regret.

I’m happy to report, the storm has broken and I can see the brilliant blue sky and feel the dazzling golden sun again. I’m finally strong enough to climb out of my cave and back into the Cottage to spend time with you, my faithful tribe, my sweet circle of merry creatives.

We got some good news this week–my husband’s chemo treatments are working better & holding the disease at bay a bit longer, I’ve been commissioned to create several exciting pieces of art for various wonderful patrons, my dear pal Anne and I have been sorting, cleaning, and reorganizing the Cottage, and in my garden, the tomatoes are abundant and ripening. It is time to rejoin the universe after a healing hiatus, reminding myself that…

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So, THANK YOU for waiting for me and saving space in your life for continuing fun and art-making at the Creative Cottage!

We’ll be convening at the Cottage beginning next Saturday to celebrate Summer Solstice and to continue our mission to play, laugh, and create together–to uplift and support each other–to go deeper, stretch ourselves, and enrich our creative practice together. We’ll share stories of our journeys and celebrate our epiphanies together. We’ll enrich and enlarge our loving tribe, as we each heal in our own ways together. I’ll be excited to be back!

Come join me for the fun…

I’ll be the one with the happy, rested, willing heart wide open and welcoming at the door of the Cottage, beckoning you inside, where the mischief and merriment live.

Check out the summer classes, call or email to confirm space, and come play!

I’ve missed you!

With Endless Love and Gratitude from Kaitlin

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P. S. This poem helped transform a compulsive “worrier” like me into someone who now takes it one day, one hour, one minute at a time–all the while singing.

“I Worried”

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Who’s up for Less Worry & More Fun???

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© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows