HAPPY!

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It’s the choice I make minute by minute every day!

Despite troubles and woes and setbacks and challenges.

Despite all the bad jujus in the world.

Despite chronic pain and annoying infirmities.

Despite the loss of old friends…

cherished delusions…

and a few little dreams.

Despite mean people

and unspeakable acts of terror.

Despite floods and fires.

Despite EVERYTHING.

I, FINALLY,

(is it too late to be a late bloomer?)

came to realize (daaaaaa)

that I’m in charge of my own happiness.

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Despite some pretty intense nudgings toward more pious activities,

some very serious careers and responsibilities,

a long “nose to the grindstone” sort of a life…

pardon me, but these days,

I’m going for happy!

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Okay, let’s talk…

go get a cup of tea and hunker down.

Some of you have written me–

all concerned and sad that, after our glorious Summer Creativity Camps,

I decided to pass the torch forward for my Girlz With HeArt Project.

Not to worry.

We did a SPECTACULAR job for over five years!

It was a glorious experience! It was a miracle!

It changed my life and their lives and your lives through sharing their stories and shenanigans with you.

They inspired me and humbled me and broke my heart and filled it back up with pure love.

Their grit and grace.

Their resilience.

Their lively spunkiness and sass.

Their hopefulness in the face of so many heartaches…

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It was a totally intense, completely demanding, and incredibly rewarding experience!

But, as the old She Bear Kaitlin was emerging in my archetypal life,

I began to receive firm instructions from the universe:

learning to let go and let be,

learning to get still and pray,

learning to trust and give thanks.

AND to know when it was time

to pass the medicine wand on to eager, capable hands reaching up to carry it for the next exciting leg of the journey.

Powerful lessons.

Still processing.

Many of you were actively, hands-on, every-day, deep-in this program with me. THANK YOU.

Many of you cheered us on, gathered supplies, shared gifts, bought clothes, transported carloads of girlz. THANK YOU.

Many of you slipped an extra gift into the collection box on your way out and whispered “For the Girlz.” THANK YOU.

It was such an honor to share our beautiful, heart-breaking, magical, impossible vision with you.

We did it–together–against all odds, we touched the lives of so many young women and they touched our lives too.

THANK YOU. Each and every. All and then some.

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Some of you are worried because I’ve actively cut back my summer schedule to avoid the heat-stress illness that laid me low last summer

and you think that portends the end of The Cottage. No.

Actually, I’ve posted some new classes for July (check them out by clicking the Cottage Classes tab) and

I’m really excited about a new project I’m incubating that deepens and intensifies the way members of our little tribe can contribute our wisdom to others.

It’s called SAGE SISTERS: A Council of Conscious Eldership–more about it very soooooon!

Some of you have lamented that I’m not so available, accessible, or “out & about “as I once was.

True.  Fast nearing 70, I’m getting a little crotchety.

These days, I’m inclined to curl up in my home; reading, making art, working in clay, tending my garden, learning to relax instead of racing about on various exciting errands of intellect or passion. But it’s all good. It is time for that. It is the season for that. It is my new “normal.”

I’m sorry you can’t see it through my eyes.

All the changes and adjustments have been made after much introspection and prayer.

And a very grateful heart.

Each choice has been totally life-enhancing for me. Trust me.

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Sure, it’s been hard. I’m not gonna pretend otherwise.

I’ve been talking about it for months and months and months…

roll down through the past blog posts to see the many times I’ve spoken of my urgent need to slow down.

To breathe. To rest.

To dismantle my enormous life of over-commitment.

To ease back from too many responsibilities.

To learn to stop stoking a life-long tendency to over achieve.

I ain’t Super Woman (and I have no desire to be)

but you may not have noticed cuz (in the past!) my actions said otherwise.

Nope. It ain’t been easy.

I default to my old ways more that you can imagine.

Sometimes I still bite off more than I can chew…

but I’m learning to nibble, to savor, to take great pleasure in small bites.

I’m still not very good at it.

BUT I’m getting better. Little by little. One day at a time.

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Lemmie tell ya this: watching people die for a living (hospice nursing),

watching people create in order to re-enchant their souls (The Cottage),

mentoring young souls to soar and dream and leap into their lives (The Girlz With HeART)

taught me that life is too precious and fleeting and magical to get stolen by the petty b.s. of daily life.

Drama (and her ugly twin sister melo-drama) are wickedly bad habits I’m determined to leave behind.

I wanna be HAPPY

but it’s a full time job pushing off the joy-killers and the hate-spewers.

I wanna be HAPPY

NOT when everything is in perfect balance and I live in the pages of Bella Grace.

NOT after I put the needs of everyone else in the whole world in front of my own.

NOT when the dishes are done, the laundry is folded, and the dust bunnies are vanquished.

NOW!

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So this blog post is all about choosing happiness. Consciously. Daily. Against all odds.

Not to say my heart doesn’t break over the Orlando massacre, the Flint water poisonings, the endless wars waged in the name of peace.

Not to say that I have opted out of caring or being compassionate or contibuting a thousand tiny acts of good in my life. No.

But, as an elder now, I see how predictably people as hyper-sensitive, as super empathetic, as easily outraged by injustice as I am

are swept under, are devoured and spit out by the world if we don’t embrace self-nurturing behaviors.

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So this is what I choose. Happy.

NOT blind, sugar-coated, candy-land obliviousness to the sorrows of the world.

NOT unfeeling, unthinking, self-serving, mean, self-centered arrogance or worse. No.

Just happy, grateful, honored to be alive, thrilled to have you as my friends and allies on the journey. Happy.

Happy. With the tiny moments–

the hummingbird bathing merrily under the spray from my pre-dawn garden watering,

the good book that inspires a shiver of awe that we have writers who so perfectly capture life,

the beautiful butterscotch and burgundy sunset through monsoon clouds.

Happy and blessed that I have the wonderful pleasure of spending these last years of my life with my beloved life companion Albert

who makes me smile everyday…daring me on to new challenges

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and greater joy!

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“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” George Bernard Shaw

I want to be HAPPY

like these wonderful mentors who have struggled with much, been defeated by much, and endured much

but who chose to be happy.

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Ready to party... former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Happy like children who find joy in the moment.

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Happy that I have such amazing, goofy, dear friends to share the adventure with.

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Just plain old, every day, heart splitting Happy!

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We can’t cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. –Joseph Campbell

So if you want me, listen for the laughter…

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and watch for the delight!

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And I double dog DARE YOU to click on this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRMOMjCoR58

and dance and laugh and cry and BE HAPPY!

Much Love and Big Dollops of Happiness (with sprinkles on top!)

Kaitlin

(They don’t call me the Mistress of Merriment for nuthin’!)

© Kaitlin Meadows, 2016 All Rights Reserved

Images thanks to Pinterest

CREATIVITY CAMP ROCKS!

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O My Gosh!

It’s been a joy-filled, crazy-fun, totally exhilarating & completely exhausting,

“virtual” camping adventure with my Girlz With HeART!

What a hectic, beautiful, fun, creative BLAST the Girlz have had at our Fifth Annual Creativity Camps–

six different sessions with 10 girlz each!

Camp Mariquita (that’s “Ladybug” in Spanish!)

has been a magical, imaginary gypsy caravan,

with tent forts, sleepin’ bags on the floor, and nature-filled three day creativity activities.

Convened at the gracious homes of the 4 Core Grand Mamas 

(THANK YOU Elisa, Connie, Katrin, & Dell!)

who have kept this “impossible” wild, crazy, joyous riot of a dream of mine afloat…

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My goal has been to provide a magical time of pure pleasure and shared GIRL POWER

for these young women, 7 to 12, who have had a rough ride

in foster care, group homes, transitional situations, and family crisis.

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They built blanket forts to sleep in little clusters to read to each other, tell stories, and feel safe…

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They did art making that enhanced their sense of esteem…

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and they built their own forts

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from recycled cardboard.

They wrote poems and sang songs

and became their own “super heroes”…

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There were scavenger hunts…

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and campfires…

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and pure JOY!

It’s been such a heart-filling experience!

The Girlz had such fun thanks to all the loving support of so many!

Jillian, Candace, Janella, and Meritta were past graduates from the program who acted as camp counselors…

and Brandi, Connie, Tammy, and Leslie were the merry pranksters who came up with endless piles of food and drink.

Nancy S. donated a TON of brand-new clothing for the Girlz to treasure and Denise brought musical instruments for their delight…

Anne L. & Nancy G. donated so generously to make the fabulous field trips possible!

And I so need to thank my Beloved Albert for all his love and encouragement!

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It has been a grand time of esteem building, buddy bonding, scavenger hunts,

journaling workshops, nature walks, art play, and so much more.

They got to go to the Desert Museum on cool mornings when the park first opens

to spend some magical time with the caring staff behind the scenes.

They have been enjoying swim days at local community pools,

visiting the Children’s Museum, and learning to make art journals.

We’ve been having an amazing time and thank you all for your kind support over the years:

art supplies, clothing donations, encouragement.

I’m utterly pooped but have a huge grin on my face!

I’m so grateful to have all of you you in my life and in the lives of these amazing young women.

I feel so blessed to have been able to be do this work for the last five years!

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All particularly bittersweet for me as this is my last month leading Girlz With HeART…

it has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life!

Almost 70 now with some significant health issues, I find I just can’t keep up anymore.

The costs for insurance, transportation, supplies, and resources have tripled over the 5 and half years I’ve been offering the project.

Most of my original GrandMamas have had to pull back due to  health issues or financial challenges of their own.

Arizona’s broken child protective & advocacy agencies have tied my hands in a million ways and continue to put huge obstacles in the path of my program.

 My own rapidly declining personal and physical energies have also informed this very difficult decision.

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But not to worry,

I have been training a half dozen stalwart advocates to carry on the work within their own agencies and spheres of influence

and I have seen to it that ALL the young women in my program will be absorbed by other very worthy groups in town.

It has been such a pleasure to be a part of this work and to throw my whole heart into it.

These are our future leaders, dreamers, and achievers!

So Much Love & Gratitude To You and To Them 

From Momma Mariquita

“One thing’s for sure… If any one of us unleashes our creativity, our world will split open. We’ll find unprecedented ways of solving problems and expressing our souls, and our lives will be forever changed.”     Martha Beck

 THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

I’ll be taking a little break this next week…

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 © Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

P. S. Sooo many cool ideas from http://www.bravegirlsclub.com

and Pinterest!

FRIDA KAHLO’S BIRTHDAY PARTY!

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Come Celebrate Frida at The Creative Cottage!

(Image from Artdecadence@etsy.com)

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that yes it’s true I’m here and I’m just as strange as you.” Frida Kahlo

As many of you know, I’ve been fascinated by Frida Kahlo for years.

She was a woman of immense courage who dealt openly & stylishly with devastating health issues.

“Feet, what do I need them for If I have wings to fly.Frida

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(Frida’s prosthetic leg)

She had a complicated personal life, many tormented love affairs, and a world of critics who thought her art too intimate, too revealing.

“Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.” Frida

She cherished her heritage by wearing her native costumes.

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She adored animals and they were constant companions in her life.

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She made a shrine of her life.

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Frida was wild, untamed, and utterly willing to be herself.

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(photograph by Nickolas Muray)

When I find myself grumbling about some imagined setback in my own life,

I think of all Frida struggled with.

When I have doubts about my own art-making,

I think of Frida’s brave urgency to create–

even when a canvas had to be hung from pulleys over her bed!

“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.” Frida

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Frida painting with a Huichol admirer.

She spilled her soul out in her journals…

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and lived a colorful, art-full life, despite all odds to the contrary.

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(Frida’s home at Casa Azul & her kitchen)

Frida inspires me every day!

Come celebrate this Saturday, June 11, 9 to Noon–our annual Frida Kahlo’s Birthday Bash & Potluck!

Come enjoy some Frida related art projects and the fun of celebrating Frida together! Bring something to share and a happy heart!

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(this beautiful image from Andrea Matus who has many exquisite Frida pictures!)

“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.” Frida

Love and Happy Frida’s birthday!

Kaitlin

Mistress of Merriment

With thanks to Pinterest for images!

© Kaitlin Meadows, 2016. All rights Reserved.