S0005_Lihue_Kauai

My word for the year 2015 was ‘declutter.’ I worked to minimize clutter – physical, mental and emotional – while making more space for who and what truly matters in my life at this time. I will continue this practice of simplifying, of minimizing noise and clutter in order to maximize my creativity and become more present, connecting to who I am at the core, instead of allowing my possessions to define me.

I have minimized the number of projects on which I’m working at this time. And yet, the projects are still there, still beckoning me forth, seductive in their command. Writing, yoga, music, and crafting do define me and always will. I have designed a schedule that allows me to maximize my time at work, at home with my family, and my time alone, used for creativity and exploration. I reshuffle, re-prioritize while wondering whether the current model expands or hinders my potential and the potential of my family dynamic.

Some days, the pieces that make up my identity are naturally, easily woven together; on other days, they pull apart at the seams until I tend to them again with pins, needles, thread, and soothing whispers. I remind myself to slow down, to let the pebbles scatter as they will. I can always pick them up later. What is in front of me now? Where should my focus be? How can I shift my priorities at a moment’s notice while maintaining balance? Then I remember to focus on the hug, to inhale, deeply savouring the scent of the head of silky soft chestnut hair that presses against my chest. I exhale into the softness and remember to listen to the subtle pleading sounds that are so easily missed when I go through my ‘to do’ list, checking off one item after another, feeling productive yet missing what is before me.

DSCN0507

I choose to linger. I choose to pull my arms around my sons and my husband into a tighter embrace. I choose to be present while trusting in the knowledge that creativity is borne from moments that challenge us to acquiesce completely. What is before me, right here and right now? What demands my attention? The dance of balance inevitably continues as I delicately tiptoe from one element to another, trying to stay grounded and reminding myself of my myriad roles. Will they still be here? Will they continue to transform me, or will I become a different person? I entertain the possibilities while remaining curious, retreating to my comfort zone of boundless daydreaming before gently, reluctantly, bringing myself back to the moment, adjusting my focus, amplifying the whisper-thin message: Presence. Presence. Presence. 

Not at my desk, not with my quill, and not really writing; while visiting a museum three months ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pretend to write in this cozy spot.

It had been a while since I wrote in my journal. I’m not referring to simply writing about what is new and exciting in my life at the given moment but about delving deeper, digging beneath the layers, stripping away the building blocks. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way is the type of exercise that can send many running for the hills. Yet, once we start, without weaving any drama around the exercise itself and the potential results, the experience can be surprisingly enjoyable and possibly even transforming.

In Paris Letters, Janice MacLeod shares her own experience with journalling as inspired by The Artist’s Way, leading to a big question and a resulting breakthrough. I’m not one for spoilers; to learn more about the breakthrough, you’ll have to read the book.

And so, without expectations or a specific agenda, I return to stream-of-consciousness journalling. The results surprise me as I read back. Some pages are filled with gratitude notes. On other days, the ramblings are banal and choppy. None of that matters. The practice itself is therapeutic, healing, meditative. More and more, I infuse my daily life with the same energy that accompanies me on the yoga mat at 5:30 in the morning. It comes without surprise to find that my hobbies in and of themselves undulate and weave, allowing me to stay curious while focusing my mind, connecting with my thoughts and watching the stories unfold. Knitting, journalling, lunchtime walks, and reading to Wanderlust Juniors have become to me another form of yoga, reminding me to keep just enough control to stay present, but at the same moment, reminding me to release into the experience, to allow someone else to hold the anchor and steer.

Journalling for analysis used to be my focus. My ego shaped my interpretation of the story. In as much as it can be highly enjoyable to analyze, to investigate the various points of view, and to deduce conclusions, these days, I prefer to experience by witnessing the story unfold. I cherish the reminder to let go of judgment, to allow myself to sit with my feelings, whatever they may be, to soften and keep going with the flow. I hear the voices of my teachers asking me, Where can you let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? The stories will continue to unfold, and I permit them to do just that.

What about you? Where can YOU let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? Do you have a regular journalling practice? I would love to read about your evolving experience with this exercise.

Are you enjoying this blog? Please share it with a friend. 

DSCN6679

My turn to share! Here are two articles I read and enjoyed last week:

This Column Will Change Your Life: Morning Pages 

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at how powerful Morning Pages proved, from day one, at calming anxieties, producing insights and resolving dilemmas. After all, the psychological benefits of externalising thoughts via journalling are well-established. And that bleary-eyed morning time has been shown to be associated with more creative thinking: with the brain’s inhibitory processes still weak, “A-ha!” moments come more readily.’

How to Get Better at Expressing Emotions

‘Emotional intelligence is a skill, and some people are better at recognizing and communicating emotions than others. Among the Big Five personality traits—openness, extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism—several studies have found that people high in extroversion tend to have higher emotional expressiveness, while people high in neuroticism tend to be less expressive.

Like other skills, the ability to communicate feelings can be strengthened through practice, and a big part of it is first recognizing the emotions you’re having, as well as what’s causing them.’

Guest post by Mr. Wanderlust

Several years ago, we wrote a post to explain the process behind our wooden creations. Since the recent unveiling of our Sea Turtle Collection, we have been pleased to welcome new clients to our website. In addition to our earlier post, we would like to walk you through the process of making each wooden turtle pendant.

We are pleased to donate 20% of the sale of each item from our Sea Turtle Collection to Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

I usually work in the evenings after my 9-5 job, karate lessons, clean-up at home, and the Wanderlust Juniors’ bedtime, so there is not much time left before I myself have to head to bed. Still, I make the most of every spare minute.

 

Day 1:

Once I know what design I want, I choose the wood. I have a variety of wood in my collection, in all shapes and sizes. While some of the lumber I use is already cut to a specific suitable thickness, other wood comes in logs or blocks that have to be sliced (or ripped) with a bandsaw to achieve a workable thickness. For this particular piece, I chose to use Yellowheart.

DSCN8651
So many choices! Black Limba; Cocobolo; Wenge; Purpleheart, and Yellowheart. All our wood is obtained from sustainable sources. For every item sold, a tree is planted. We believe in giving back to the earth more than we take away.

This piece of wood was larger than I needed it to be, so I cut it into a workable piece slightly bigger than the final piece. The remaining wood was reserved for another project. No waste here!

DSCN8655
Seven holes were drilled and then it’s off to the scroll saw.

The thin blades of the scroll saw reciprocate up and down. I guided the wood onto a very thin blade and maneuvered it around to cut out the design. The blade I use is very thin (0.008 inches thick) and can break easily if the wood is pushed too hard or too fast against it. For each of the holes, the blade has to be dismounted, looped through the hole and remounted onto the scroll saw. The cutting here takes time, as the walls between the cut segments are thin and can break if one is not careful.

DSCN8657d

Once the holes are cut out, the turtle shell starts to take place. Next, it’s time to glue on a backing and let it dry overnight.

DSCN8664

 

Day 2:

Once the backing is dry, I return to the scroll saw once more to cut the outside shape of the turtle.

DSCN8666

Next, I choose the inlay. Anything can be used as inlay, but I like to work with crushed stone, metal, glow-in-the-dark material, and crushed shell. For this pendant, I used crushed shell of different colours. I temporary blocked all the holes, leaving one exposed, and then carefully filled it with the inlay material. This process was repeated for the remaining holes, working one at a time. I then filled everything with a low-viscosity epoxy. Once the inlay is in, it’s time to let the inlay cure overnight.

DSCN8673d

 

Day 3:

Once the inlay is solid, it’s time for the next stage: sanding, sanding, sanding and more sanding. For this, I used a variety of files, sanding pads and power sanding tools. Starting with 80 or 150 grit (depending on the density of the wood) and working up to up to 1500 grit makes the pendant smoother and smoother as it takes the final shape.

DSCN8712d

In the middle of sanding at about 400 to 600 grit, I drilled the hole for the eye in which I placed the finding to which to attach the necklace chain or cord.

DSCN8721

Once the hole had been cut, I continued hand-sanding and shaping until the pendant was ready for the next step. Once satisfied with the sanding, I applied the first layer of natural oil onto the pendant. The oil slowly penetrates the wood and adds luster. I wiped off the excess after about an hour and left the rest to sit overnight.

DSCN8727

 

Days 4, 5, 6

Each day, I applied a coat of natural oils onto the surface and wiped the excess after letting it rest for at least an hour. This process is necessary to allow the oil to build up for a long and lasting shine. I need to wait about a day between layers, so this process adds time to the work. I do not coat my pendants with lacquers or any hard curing top-surface treatment because such treatments can wear off after the piece has been worn and handled. I like to keep the wood natural. I have noticed that the more I rub or handle the pendants coated with multiple layers of oil, the shinier they become over time.

DSCN8731d

Patience! The pieces are awaiting the next layer of oil.

 

Day 7

Almost ready!

After about four (oh yes!) layers of natural oil, the pendant was buffed using a high-speed linen buffing wheel.

DSCN8781

I added the hardware and took a few photos of the finished piece before adding it to our website

STC1028ax

So there you have it. This is how a piece of wood is turned into a beautiful pendant in one week. I hope I have answered any questions you might have about how each piece is created.

If you have additional questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading,

Mr. Wanderlust (Pawel)

 

 

 

seaturtle1

 

Welcome to a bonus edition of Dharma Wanderlust Musings, with Mr. Wanderlust himself. You often hear about me, but not directly from me. Mrs. Wanderlust has kindly allowed me to borrow this space to tell you in my own words about a new project about which we are very excited: Sea Turtle Conservancy Collection.

seaturtle3

When we launched the Dharma Wanderlust shop several years ago, the primary goal was always to use our craft to give back to and enrich the community in any way possible. For me, this is done through woodworking. We not only obtain our wood from sustainable sources but also ensure that a tree is planted for every item sold. With that, we give back more to the planet than we take, thus ensuring the continuity of the beautiful trees that are so vital for the health of the earth.

As I observe our kids play in the sand on the beach in the summer, I remember how I used to frolic in the ocean waves as a child, watching fish and jellyfish float by. I would not want that beauty do disappear in the future. As I visit the seaside more and more with my family, I get influenced by what I see and am exposed to. Many of our recently created wooden items incorporate nautical elements or were influenced by water in one way or another.

seaturtle4

About 70% of our planet is water and we should try our best to keep it clean, not to over-exploit its resources and protect the creatures that live in the waters around the world, as we are all connected. We as humans might be at the top of the food chain but ultimately we rely on the tiniest phytoplankton and zooplankton at the bottom of the food chain for our ultimate survival as a species. Once the bottom falls out, there might be trouble ahead. We believe that all humans should become the shepherds of both land and sea and do what we can to keep Earth healthy and clean.

That’s why we are thrilled to be a cause-related partner of Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

For this partnership, we have created a special line of handmade sea turtle-themed items. For every sale of an item from the Sea Turtle collection, 20% will be donated directly to STC.

seaturtle6

We thank you in advance for your support.

ThisFall

 

This fall I want to colour in my fancy adult colouring book, creating a chaotic yet somehow comforting piece of art that no one else might ever appreciate but one that would speak for itself, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am the one who created it.

 

I want to let go and make art the way children make art, with complete abandon, and preferably while humming a silly tune to myself. My children will ask what song I’m singing, then likely join in.

 

I want to gather nature’s treasures – acorns, leaves, and twigs – and then glue them, tape them, plaster them all over my tiny writing corner currently covered in journals, colourful pencils, and yarn.

 

I want my fingers to move on their own while I decipher a new-to-me knitting pattern without ever thinking of it as complicated. Instead, I want to open my mind, open my heart, and allow the creativity that resides within me to flow right out of my fingertips, extending through the bamboo needles and weaving, weaving, weaving magic.

 

I want to knit. I want to knit many comfortable pieces that might never be worn but are created from my heart.

 

I want to work with colour. I want to fill my world with colour, never thinking about old favourite hues or seeking to narrow down what does and does not appeal to me or to someone else. One day, I might like blood orange; the next, I will be drawn to ocean blue. Then, I’ll spin them together into a swirl of emerald.

 

I want to give. I want to give more to my children, to my partner, to my parents.

 

I want to tour my favourite museum in the forest, admiring the new works on display, already perfect in their raw, unfinished form.

 

Nature wants, but is never wanting.

 

How about you? What do you want to do this fall? Please leave a comment.

DSCN6674

In childhood, I did my best to live by the rules, but I have been known to be bored easily and start to push boundaries. I continue to seek challenges, allowing myself to grow, to think outside the box. I’m learning to colour outside the lines, to bend the rules slightly without trying to hide my intentions from anyone but while reconnecting to an old favourite hobby. It’s a hobby that I buried away somewhere on a shelf far away in the library of my childhood.

When I was about five years old, there was a small bookstore on a plaza near our home. I would go into the store just to browse books, to walk between the aisles, look at the shelves and sniff inconspicuously at the scent of freshly printed ink on crisp paper that filled the shop. I lingered near the colouring book section, gingerly reaching for a new book that I had not seen before and flipping through the pages it contained. My fingers itched to return home with the book and sit at a table with my freshly sharpened pencils. The thrill of creating something new was overwhelming. Sometimes, my mom would buy a book for me, providing me with hours of inspiration as I ventured into my imagination with each new page on which I worked diligently. My mom, in turn, received the opportunity to enjoy a few quiet hours while getting some work done at home.

DSCN6679

Colouring books for adults have been trending as of late, with pictures containing finer, more intricate details. It turns out that children are not the only ones who are calmed by the activity. I chose to pick up such a book recently in order to allow myself an opportunity to connect with my children. While they sit at the kitchen table and colour, I do the same. Recently, on a rainy Sunday, my eldest and I sat together, each working on our own colouring page. I chose a beautiful mandala design and intuitively picked at the soft pastel colouring pencils, allowing myself to be guided toward the colours that I was to use. Instead of colouring certain shapes the way I normally would have, some 27 years ago, I chose to draw hearts inside the lines. I’m quietly starting to rebel while staying within the confines of my comfort zone, following the rules I intuitively set for myself.

In fact, simply colouring inside the lines allows us to focus on one task at a time, working with colour harmony. At other times, doing something slightly radical, venturing outside the familiar, is therapeutic. I might choose to continue doing things the traditional way, but I’m slowly giving myself permission to experiment with the limitless possibilities.

DSCN6685

What calming hobbies did you enjoy in childhood? Would you consider returning to them to try them through an adult’s perspective?