Circles (June 10-24, 2018) / by Hayden Michelle

It has been quite a full past two weeks as we visited the beach and returned home.  There are more words than usual here, perhaps loosened up by the waves and the churning tide on our country's soil.  I am so grateful for being home, and for all the experiences we gained as a family and as a group.  May your week be spent in ways that fill you and make you feel connected to others...

("Very much in need of some levity this morning, my brush dipped repeatedly into these soothing-to-me shades, enjoying the lack of expectation for anything other than experimentation and calming. Wishing you all the balm of experiences that offer soothing today...")


("For as much as I love nature, brown has not often shown up in these circles. So, today I tentatively dove in, and encouraged my hand to paint a continuous line, no shape in mind (per usual). My curiosity peaked as I began to connect the rendered lines with a mere trace of water, watching the pigment release and flow into the newly created path. The transformation that happens with the introduction of water continues to fascinate me, and the delicacy in creating the finer connections brought relief after the initial decisiveness needed to start the original line. There is always interplay between our will, choice, and things out of our control that exist in our daily lives. It is nice when the lines of resistance can soften and release can happen, even if only for a moment...")


("This morning I am feeling gratitude for the gift of voice. The ability to verbally express what we feel in our hearts is easier said than done, but the growth that can result may be worth the risk. May we all experience the peace of release...")


("This morning my family begins a trek to the ocean, where we will join with fellow homeschooling families @redoaks_explorers to camp. It has been 7 years since our family has been to the ocean together, and I can’t begin to say how ready we are to sink in to this experience. While we are away for the week, I will paint circles at some point in the day, and likely will leave the words behind, making room for the precious moments spent welcoming in the light of dawn on the beach. I will be sending serenity and goodness to you all, and holding space for those that are in need... Have a lovely week! (I am unsure of WiFi availability, so posting may be erratic).")


("Back on the road for the final leg of our journey... the ocean awaits!  “Glee” is the word for the day :). Wishing you all a sense of exhilaration...")


("We arrived to our group campsite to find the long path and connecting fields to it completely submerged in water (ie. deep enough for the kids to later kayak in), and many of the sites in the woods with floating campfire rings and ponding water. Setting up tents quickly to beat the storm that was only slightly predicted, we sought shelter and watched the torrential rain that came. No picture-taking device was accessible, but I know the sight will remain etched into my mind... it was raining so hard that it almost appeared to be coming out of the ground as it shot back up into the air. We sought shelter across from a beautifully expansive tree with low branches that spread in every direction, framed by the rain in a most lovely composition. When the downpour and lightning finally subsided, we returned through the even more flooded area to assess those tents and belongings now underwater, and readjusted course. To say that it was not the most hospitable of welcomings would be an understatement, but it is interesting to see how quickly we acclimated to having to trek back and forth through this 2 feet deep swampiness every time we needed something from our cars (as unbeknownst to us, these were not drive-up sites). We most definitely will have some good story-telling material from this trip, and surely, it can only get better!")


("This morning we awoke to sound of crashing waves in the distance, and the early songs of birds welcoming in a fresh start to the day. Walking down to the beach during sunrise, we watched crabs scuttle across the sand and throw dirt out of their holes, collected remnants of shells washed up during the night, and took in the sounds of the water. Gratitude abounds for a new day, with hope for a much more peaceful following.")


("Flying a kite by the light of the moon happened to be enjoyed more by me than by my growing kids... a good reminder that you are never too old to enjoy things that brought wonder and joy as a child. Perhaps as adults, we need these experiences even more to fill us back up... Wishing you all simple pleasures where you can find them!")


("Investigating the beach at five this morning, we strained our eyes to take in the treasures brought in the night’s tide. As the light began to filter its way in through the darkness, I found myself drawn repeatedly to these tubules of green— succulent and translucent, yet substantial, and nearly aglow with their contained energy. Pondering the nutrient-dense food this plant must be for creatures in the sea, I was struck with how little I know of marine life, despite the nautical organic shapes that show up in much of my work. Although I enjoy learning and understanding about the teeming life which surrounds, I also enjoy the sense of not knowing, and merely connecting to the essence of these mysterious and abundant beings.")


("As I paint while driving (spouse) along the highway to return home (which is an interesting challenge on these bumpy curvy roads), my mind is preoccupied with shapes of specimens found along sandy shores, remnants of living beings pulled forth from the ocean‘s depths. Having seen and touched variations of live branches and brightly colored coral as well as those fossilized, my thoughts return to coral fragments we have discovered on our hillsides in Kentucky. Basic research reveals that the age of this KY coral is hundreds of million of years old, which is difficult to comprehend... even more so is imagining our land being under ocean water. It leaves me pondering the profound experience of being alive during a mere moment in a long progression of time, mindful yet again of the imprint we have the opportunity to leave...")


("Aware of the privilege of going away, I am even more keenly aware of the privilege of returning to a home. As I urged my body out of the bed at dawn this morning, feeling the exhaustion that comes only when an arduous journey is over, I sunk my soles into the grass on the hills with our ecstatic doggie in tow. My feet, unfamiliar with the constraints of shoes after a week of walking barefoot through swampy water, blistering pavement, and the variants of cool and hot sand, felt a happy familiarity of connecting with ground so densely covered in vegetation. As I began the descent to the bottomland, my eyes adjusted to a small swatch of colors peeking between the clouds. Realizing a rainbow loomed behind, I bolted back to get my phone, hoping it would still be there upon return.

It was, and not only began to widen its arc as the clouds parted, but revealed the pale replica of a second shadowing rainbow. Mesmerized by the changing intensity as we walked, following it through to the other end which had become visible, I felt such gratitude for this simple gift that would have been missed had I stayed in the bed I so did not want to leave. As I returned home to set up paints in my favorite spot on the front porch, rain began to fall from the sky that had filled with clouds in ten minute’s time... as I glanced between the trees through the rain, I realized a third rainbow had emerged with the rising sun, and once again, ran into my house to retrieve my camera, not dreaming that yet another would appear. Today I wish you the delight of rainbows when you least expect them...")


("I do not have words or imagery that can begin to touch the devastating nightmare being lived by immigrant children and parents who have had this basic sacred human right severed... we have much work to do in connecting to compassion and basic decency and dignity.")


("The title of this circle must be the most understated yet— I am referring to our country’s leadership and our widely varying reactions/actions in response to the ravaging trauma that immigrant families are experiencing. It is overwhelming, knowing full well that the impact of this severance and ensuing treatment will last for the rest of their lives, rippling out in all directions— reunited, or not. This is far more profound than being merely a political issue... at its foundation, it is an issue of basic human rights. Every one of us can use the privilege of voice to speak out for these children and families who risked their very lives to seek our help. Let us each empower ourselves and join the momentum that is active and find ways to call for change that will bring humanity, healing, and true refuge for those so desperately in need.")


("I remember being taught not to fear the dark as a child... offered as soothing reassurance to calm fears of the unknown. I was reflecting on this while walking the beach at night, feeling the vastness of the ocean and its crashing waves, aware of the fear creeping up while walking so close to its edge. As I breathed into the anxiety, I felt my body relax and my eyes adjust to subtle beauty not seen in daylight... the highlights of the cresting waves, the faint glow of the night sky contrasted against the dark water. I tuned more deeply into the sounds of the night, and felt the texture of the now cool sand on my feet. In one sense, my mother was right— there is an expansive space and stillness in the dark of night that allows us just to be.

And yet there is another kind of darkness, experienced in every corner of the world... a deeper darkness which is painfully real. As my body repeatedly trekked through the swampy water in pitch black to our wooded campsite, I was starkly aware of the fact that I had flashlight in hand, and that no bright lights would shine into my face on the other side, with people behind them that would take my children away from me. This small experience of challenge (which existed purely because of privilege and opportunity that have nothing to do with deserving) made me continually imagine the fear of the dark that comes from crossing rivers in silence with no light to guide the way, meeting untold danger— no dry tent waiting on the other side and certainly no beach walks the next morning... not even the space to process what is happening with those in the same experience. I felt awkward writing/painting about our camp-out as “challenge” in the midst of such concurring violation, and my mama friend and I were discussing this dilema—how to give ourselves permission to connect to the joy and love and challenge in our lives and not be consumed by guilt. The best we could come up with is to remain mindful of what we do have, make room to feel what is happening in the darkness, and use these experiences to replenish our spirits so that we can mobilize to help those in need while living our lives the best we can...")