The Flight of Butterflies

The boys and I just watched this sweet documentary on Netflix about Fred and Norah Urquhart’s quest to find out where the monarchs were flying to. Theirs is such a sweet story of a lifetime of scientific discovery and the cinematography of the butterflies is so breathtakingly beautiful!Collages168

I’ve always wanted to go to the “secret” spot they go to hibernate. Just imagine millions of butterflies swirling around your head!  Oliver is determined to go too. He said, “we’ll catch fish at the river, so we can have some food to barbecue when we live there.” I love his little optimistic mind! I told him we’ll plant flowers butterflies like so they can come to us instead.

I painted these pieces a couple of months ago. I’m a monarch lover!

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There is nothing new under the sun

The theft of artistic expression is a common theme among artists. I’ve had conversations with many friends about what they think is and isn’t acceptable in the way of copying or plagiarism in art. One of my friends had to hire a lawyer to get someone to stop selling the exact same jewelry design. I’ve had a friend ask me what I was writing about for an article for a magazine, then miraculously write a piece with the same thesis and submit it to the same magazine, making me look like the copier. A unique friend of mine had a friend start dressing exactly like her, styling her hair in the same exact cut and color, and suddenly she no longer had a fun friend she simply had a lot in common with, but was looking in a mirror. And a florist friend creates some of the most original breathtaking floral arrangements, then gets copied by high profile artists, who then get the credit.

But the line is a blurred one, because we’ve all been living in the same world, with the same ancient poets and writers and painters. Try to create something entirely original and it’s impossible.  You’ve seen it before. Unless you lived under a rock your whole life and suddenly picked up a paintbrush there is no conceivable way you’d be able to create something new. I’ve copied the styles of my favorite artists countless times, trying to make it my own but loving a color scheme or a brush stroke that I saw worked well. And if Keats were alive and one of my friends today, I’d have a lot of explaining to do for my romanticism tendencies. Look at Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. You can hardly tell their paintings apart, and during their time there was a bit of a jealous rivalry going on. Edmund on the left, Arthur on the right:Desktop59

Some things you have to just let go of.  Copying is the highest form of compliment, they say.  With Flora Forager it’s almost been like a fun workshop we’ve all been playing around in online. Floral art is new and exciting and if someone else makes something similar to me then, great, we’re having fun with the same idea.

And some things are genuinely thought of at the same time. I wrote a book a couple years ago about moth fairies who weave magic carpets.  Come to find out, there’s already been a book written with the same premise! Some of my friends say that even if someone steals an idea, no two people can write it the same way. “No one can be just like me anyway,” as Pink sings on the radio. As much as I would like to think I am the only one who comes up with something, I am proven time and time again that that is impossible.

And the copiers are also an important cog in the creative wheel…if you want to stay relevant and growing, you’re going to have to come up with new ideas.  There’s no room for stagnant water in the creative life. You gain tantalizing ideas and new expression when the zeitgeist flood rushes in. Time to reinvent, try something new, and come up with a new idea. There is nothing new under the sun, but you can learn to keep a few eggs in your basket, secret from the world until publication. I’ve sort of learned that the hard way but I truly think the copiers are a part of life. I can be aggravated by an idea being stolen, or I can say…hey! I’ve got another idea! and move on. It’s not an easy thing, but frustration can be the spark that fuels the creative force. Eventually it will become obvious who’s shining with talent, and who’s glittering with fool’s gold.

This ache is ephemeral

The sun sets across the meadow. Colors all around me saturate and mellow. Shadows turn the murky, distilled purple of the sky. The tall grasses turn to spun gold.

I absorb them. An osmosis thick and syrupy, until my heart vibrates a minor key. The witching hour is the feeling of realizing your children are getting older, of seeing the first fall crocuses, the end of what was bright and full. The end of everlasting. The diluted days of summer simmer down to sweet elixirs in our memory…far, far, fading into nothing.

The sugary pink and pond green mosaic of waves through the lily pads make me want to say pretty words and think delicious thoughts. To make something beautiful, to make it last and last and last and last.To patent it, to press it, to potion it, to put it in a frame. A perfume to keep.

But this ache is ephemeral, as all the best things are. And I am standing alone in the dark, in a field covered in lace orbs and starlit webs, bowing with the weight of their own reach.

And I bow, too.

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Flora Forager News

Want to know what’s been happening this week? Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 4.41.55 PM

*Flora Forager, a seasonal journal collected from nature, finally launched!  It skyrocketed to the top of the Amazon best seller list in Flowers, and number 2 in Journal Writing. It is currently 1,000 overall, which is actually really great! My editor let me know that they are ordering more books for Christmas, meaning there will be 25,000 copies in print. With an original goal of 10,000 in a year, that’s a big deal. My agent said, “I hope you know howremarkable that is.”

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*I landed a book deal for two more books with Sasquatch! The Art of Flora Forager and Metamorphosis…more on that in the coming months! I’m still waiting (impatiently) for someone to snatch up my floral bird book, but I did complete it and my agent has sent it off into the world! (I’ve been learning about rejection in the midst of success…haha.)

*I did a takeover of Country Living’s Instagram, am about to have a giveaway with Floret, shot a segment for a new NBC show, and sent off print samples to Anthropologie!

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*Best of all, I’ve gotten to see everyone’s reaction to my journal. From friends texting excited pictures of the journal coming in the mail, to my Facebook “moms” posting images, to comments on Instagram, to emails asking for more more more journals! It’s been so overwhelming and beautiful. I couldn’t even get out of bed on launch day because I was so nervous, then couldn’t fall asleep that night from excitement!

*I couldn’t pull myself together to plan a big launch party, so I had a tiny one with my three boys. We had cookies and lit sparklers. They love the journal, especially Oliver. I hope it’s something they are able to cherish until they’re old and gray.

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Octopus

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 9.38.53 AMTangled in inky shallows
a slave to mossy tides
pulling, stretching, sallow
The moon becomes a guide

snap!

a myriad of suckers break free
the blue crashes from below
To duck toward danger is key
legs pull up like a bow

release!

toward depth
toward beauty
toward the unknown

from stagnant
from stuck
from temporary home

radiating symmetry
in clouds of tiny lights
tentacles form a tree
feel, absorb, delight

In freedom

Le Petit Prince

I just watched the trailer for The Little Prince.
MY HEART! August 5th cannot come soon enough. Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 8.54.15 AMCLICK HERE to watch it!

I love the juxtaposition they’re creating between a rigid, scheduled life without any chance… and one of adventure. I’ve been feeling the need to remember childhood lately, to create room for creativity and running in flower fields and soaring on the wings of I-don’t-have-a-plan. Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 9.11.36 AMThere’s plenty of responsibility as an adult, and I’m finding it’s ok to let go of unessential things that hold me back from freedom.

“Goodbye,” said the fox.  “And here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential in life is invisible to the eye.Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 8.55.11 AM

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Tupac, the modern prophet

I was listening to some Tupac Shakur songs today and started crying for how much truth their poetry holds for our current world, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. I love Tupac’s desire for brotherhood with blacks and police in these songs and his desire to end suffering and poverty for his people (ie the ghetto). His references to war and the problems with leadership in our country remind me of biblical prophets who spoke of justice while their kingdoms were in turmoil (Isaiah) and while their brothers were hurting them (Jeremiah).  And his hope for a home for people who have no paradise here on earth is like a vision of Zion. In fact, he likens the trap of drugs for black kids to a new kind of slavery, much like God’s people in Egypt. The lines in Thugz Mansion makes me want to say, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Six months before Tupac’s untimely death, he said in an interview, “I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I’m going to spark the brain that will change the world.”

The following are lyrics that sparked my brain, and I hope they do yours, too.

“I see no changes. Wake up in the morning and I ask myself,
“Is life worth living? Should I blast myself?”
I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black.
My stomach hurts, so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch.
Cops give a damn about a negro? Pull the trigger, kill a nigga, he’s a hero.”

“I got love for my brother, but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other. We gotta start makin’ changes.
Learn to see me as a brother ‘stead of 2 distant strangers.
And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?”

“And although it seems heaven sent,
we ain’t ready to see a black President.
It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact…
the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks.
But some things will never change.” Tupac, Changes

“Can’t a brother get a little peace?
There’s war on the streets and the war in the Middle East.
Instead of war on poverty,
they got a war on drugs so the police can bother me.” Tupac, Changes

“Will I survive all the fights and the darkness?
Trouble sparks, they tell me home is where the heart is, dear departed
I shed tattooed tears and couldn’t sleep good
for multiple years, witness peers catch gunshots
Nobody cares, seen the politicians ban us
They’d rather see us locked in chains, please explain
why they can’t stand us, is there a way for me to change?
Or am I just a victim of things I did to maintain?
I need a place to rest my head
with the little bit of homeboys that remains, cause all the rest dead
Is there a spot for us to roll, if you find it
I’ll be right behind ya, show me and I’ll go
How can I be peaceful? I’m comin from the bottom
Watch my daddy scream peace while the other man shot him
I need a house that’s full of love when I need to escape
the deadly places slingin drugs, in thug’s mansion”

“Dear momma don’t cry, your baby boy’s doin good
Tell the homies I’m in heaven and they ain’t got hoods
Seen a show with Marvin Gaye last night, it had me shook
Drippin peppermint Schnapps, with Jackie Wilson, and Sam Cooke
Then some lady named Billie Holiday
Sang sittin there kickin it with Malcolm, ’til the day came
Little LaTasha sho’ grown
Tell the lady in the liquorstore that she’s forgiven, so come home
Maybe in time you’ll understand only God can save us
When Miles Davis cuttin lose with the band
Just think of all the people that you knew in the past
that passed on, they in heaven, found peace at last
Picture a place that they exist, together
There has to be a place better than this, in heaven
So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin
Remember this face, save me a place, in thug’s mansion” Tupac, Thugz Mansion

“God isn’t finished with me yet
I feel his hand on my brain
When I write rhymes I go blind and let the Lord do his thing…
Before we find world peace
We gotta find peace and end the war in the streets.” Tupac, Ghetto Gospel

This last quote was said in an interview six months before his death, when asked about religion (paraphrased for profanity and clarity.)

“We don’t part the red sea, but we walk through the hood without getting shot. We don’t turn water into wine, but we turn dope heads into [productive] citizens of society. We turn words into money.  What greater gift can there be? I believe God blesses those who hustle. If the churches gave half of the money they [make] and gave it back to the community we’d be alright. If they gave half the buildings they use to praise God and gave it to [people] who need God, we’d be alright.”

The gold words on the tiny plaque glistened up at me.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.56.55 PM

“Live your dreams
with eyes wide open.”

I was sitting on a bench in the middle of the forest, helping Finn catch pokemon, while Oliver played in the river. I’d been crying. I had a fun filled weekend with the Kindreds who I love so dearly…but was feeling an intense introversion I could not shake. I’m heading into a new season of trying to listen to who I am, alone. I need to to create space outside of Flora Forager, and to be able to be present with family. It’s hard to make changes and take flight, but that’s what I need to do in order to be healthy and “live my dreams, eyes wide open.” I’ve decided to take a break from the writing group and Kindred Magazine.

I asked the boys to come up with spirit names for the summer. Oliver came up with Magmatron.  Then he picked Oakwood for a middle name.  Finn smiled really big when I told him I thought he should be Eagle or Glacier, but decided he didn’t want a name.  When I asked the boys what my name was they both said it should be a flower.  Then Oliver said, “Poppy!” and Finn agreed. Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.57.14 PM

Poppies remind me a little of butterflies with their three stages of beauty.  The fuzzy bud, the frothy flower, and the silver seed pod. I felt like perhaps it was a sign for me to allow myself change.  I put one of my coral poppies behind my ear and imagined what my future life would look like for me to live as a poppy. I feel like the seeds inside the dying pod are about to take flight and find somewhere new to grow and bloom. I am silvery and a bit sorrowful, but though it may take a season, bright petals will come.