Tuesday, February 9, 2016


My word of the year is attend. Meaning to be present, engaged, and to do the work. I am using this word in daily life but most importantly in my creative work. It means painting regularly, writing in new ways, blogging less and coaching more, and always leaning in towards the hard and uncomfortable work. Attending to it. 

I am organic with my word and let it recede and shift with time. I am not tied to the yearly schedule although undoubtedly influenced by it. 

Have you picked a word for the year/month/week/just today yet? 

In exchange for a word, you might use an animal or shape or even color - some sort of metaphor or outside guiding influence can serve as a touchstone as you move through your days. 

Please share here or in the FB group.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Book About Me ----> last call

Through list making, memory mining, visual map making and attentive looking, we will clear the path back to who we are, noticing how we have changed and plotting who we want to be. 

A Book About Me  is one of the most powerful labs I lead. There is not a session where tears are not shed, a deep connection with another is made and some disturbing and delightful moments of personal awakening reverberate through the group. It is a safe place and if fully (or even partially) engaged in, can help you change course or tack back to where you drifted from.

For 6 weeks, I will be in your mailbox nearly everyday. Sharing some stories from my life and asking you some questions about yours. I will also challenge or dare you to try a few new things to loosen your mind to your tale. It is all creative and can be as deep or carousal-fun as you want.  Each weekend, our special contributor, Melanie Levy, will be sharing wisdom from her herbal kitchen to support you more. You will leave the lab with a messy journalling practice and an ability to connect with plant medicine - both will help you heal and nurture yourself and your family.

This lab is a permission slip. A permission to think and write about who you are, from the minutia to the grand. You can write in scribbles, lists or poetry. There is no form - just the thin thread from you to the page. We are messy in this lab and real and diverse. This is not art journalling or linear story telling. We are constantly spiraling in and out of memory, story and experience. 

Last summer, I wrote about my lost skin biopsy. "Placed in a jar of rheumy liquid, floating like a little island. A little island sliced from my face and send on a grand tour of self-discovery. A few weeks later the doctor calls to tell me to come back; she has to talk to me. My skin island was lost. It took off and no one had heard from it. It feels like a transgression, like a robbery of self. I wonder way too much about where this little biological bit of me ended up."

The snapshots of thoughts and tales we will record in our journals or audio files feels akin to these little islands (although not so gruesome, well, maybe...). We will deconstruct our story in pieces and begin to see them in anew in their extrication. 

This is the deadline to register.

If you want to be a part of the crucible and the tribe, you can read more here

Sunday, December 27, 2015

well, that's that.

I hope your Christmas was great! Maybe some of you are still celebrating it? Some might have a let down or sense of sadness now that it is all over. For me, the days after Christmas and especially January are my favorite time of year. I love the fresh feeling my house has when I take down the ornaments and tree. A new year feels e x p a n s i v e and full of possibility. It is also typically a month full of the best weather in Florida, so we can hike midday and sit in the yard for hours without getting eaten by mosquitos. 

Our Christmas was hot and filled with turkey, bingo, coloring books, records, games and a new ping pong table. We are so fortunate and look forward to spending the upcoming year playing with all our goodies. 

I will be spending the next week camping on an island in a river, looking for alligators and manatees, thinking up my word(s) of the year, and preparing for what I anticipate to be a jam up session of BAM. Each year is a bit different with some new prompts, a new guest contributor and fresh ideas/perspectives and this year promises to be one of the best ever. 

We are going to be: talking about how to realistically incorporate herbal medicines into your life, searching out origin stories, learning new time management techniques and maybe even drawing some comics. 

It will be chaotic and expansive and unlike any other lab you have taken. 

If you want to read more, you can check it out here.

Monday, December 21, 2015

{review} A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

I love reading because sometimes you come across a book, story or poem that perfectly communicates something you know or feel deep down inside. Truman Capote's short story A Christmas Memory did just that for me. I have known about it, but for some reason have never read it. What was I waiting for? My children and I were charmed by the character Buddy, a young boy living with his elderly cousin, and his preparations for Christmas. Although they don't have much, they seem to have everything that really matters. I don't want to give too much away - but the story is both heart warming and heart breaking and such a sweet reminder of all the ways we can make our own magic at this time of year.

Capotes writer's eye focuses on small and sensual details; his rhythm and frequent, chatty asides make the story roll off the page with ease. It is absorbing and a provides a perfect evening's read in front of a fire.

A little taste from the book:

On decorating the tree they just cut down and hauled back home in a baby carriage a long ways:

"A trunk in the attic contains: a shoebox of ermine tails (off the opera cape of a curious lady who once rented a room in the house), coils of frazzled tinsel gone gold with age, one silver star, a brief rope of dilapidated, undoubtedly dangerous candy-like light bulbs. Excellent decorations, as far as they go, which isn't far enough: my friend wants our tree to blaze "like a Baptist window," droop with weighty snows of ornament. But we can't afford the made-in-japan splendors at the five-and-dime. So we do what we have always done: sit for days at the kitchen table with scissors and crayons and stacks of colored paper. I make sketches and my friend cuts them out: lots of cats, fish too (because they're easy to draw), some apples, some watermelons, a few winged angels devised from saved-up sheets of Hershey-bar tin foil. We use safety pins to attach these creations to the tree; as a final touch, we sprinkle the branches with shredded cotton (picked in August for this purpose). My friend, surveying the effect, clasps her hands together. "No honest, Buddy. Doesn't it look good enough to eat?" "

( I have the edition illustrated by Beth Peck and the watercolors are lovely!)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

{BAM} how it works (and a crazy promotion)

I am busy working on goodies for the next session of Book About Me. I love sending mail and it has become a hallmark of my labs. The tangible becomes a thread that connects us all across time and space.

I wanted to drop in to let you know something about BAM. Something I think is important and another distinguishing component of Mama Scout labs. I strive to make the content as EASY to access as possible. There are no videos to watch of me waxing about story or memoir (you will have to come to a live retreat for that!), no downloadable workbooks, no projects that are prescriptively taught to you, no forums or platforms that ask you to choose yet another password; there is none of that. I am not against classes like that  - but as a participant of so many labs myself, I have noticed a sharp decrease in my involvement with the material as the content delivery became more polished and technical. It does not work for me or my lifestyle.

So, I am doing it different. And I think it works really well.

Everyday, for 6 weeks,  you will receive the lab in an email that you can read immediately (no downloading or clicking through). My goal is that the content is easily available to you as you check you phone in the morning before you get out of bed or when you are in the bathroom (:)) You can even read it waiting in car line at school.

If you carry your smart phone, a journal and pen - you are good. You can read the essay and prompts, think about them all day, write when you have a chance and in as simple or elaborate way as you want. If you have a chance at lunch or when your kids are in bed, check into the FB group to see what is cracking for other labbers. If you do just this, I promise that by the end of the 6 weeks you will have a new outlook, a deeper appreciation for your story (and those around you), and hopefully the beginnings of a creative practice that you can carry with you.

BAM is intense and serious and content heavy. BUT I have made every attempt to remove the barriers that might make sticking with it hard.

Sign up here

Now until Christmas Eve, you can invite a friend for free. Just add their name, address, and email in the comments and they are in. This offer allows you to gift yourself and a friend with an experience that will start 2016 off with a intense reckoning with your life and your story. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

{copy work} The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night at the least sound 
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, December 14, 2015

{art} collabs with olders

For Christmas I asked each of my kids if they would paint a collaborative painting with me. This is tricky territory because I have trained myself over the years to let them paint with little direction and normally can not imagine laying paint on their artwork. 

But this was different. We thought of it as an experiment and I love the results. We picked poems by  Dickinson, Wordsworth and Berry to work into each piece. I suggested that they paint an animal or scene that reflected their interests and personality and they sketched in the design. My help was more with painting backgrounds and adding touches here and there. 

I love what they (we) made and now have a great poetry corner in our eating space. I am sharing here because it feels like such a good connecting and creative project to do this time of year. It was the perfect present and I think we will incorporate this approach more often. 


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