Tuesday, March 29, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Old Moon Bells

From the first appearance of the waxing crescent, I count down the days until the full moon rises in all her shining glory. I hope for a windy evening so the clouds make flashing ruffles –dark and light—around her, while stars peek in and out. 

Then the days pass, and the full moon wanes, rising later and later each night.

During one of those nights last week, I couldn’t sleep. Outside the window the old moon shone, keeping me company through the dark hours. And bells inside of me rang as I realized the old moon has her glory, too. But it isn’t celebrated, it isn’t seen. We sleep, dreaming.

The old moon is the true queen of the night. She needs no adulation. I had the feeling of being held in the arms of something old, wise, and watchful. Something that could hold every part of me, whether deviled or winged, adventurer or mystic, lion or mouse.

What a comfort. What a liberation.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
Join us on April 12 when author Kevan J. Atteberry shares what makes him ring, resonate, and feel alive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

7:30 BELLS: The Secret of Change

For thousands of years bells have sounded not only for joyful events, but also as warnings. The faintest bell, the shortest ring is the true trigger of internal revolution.

I used to think that changing your life or your self involved colossal effort. Knock down the entire house of your life and build a new one. But who can do that? It’ so overwhelming that we just repaint the shutters blue and call it good.

Some, knowing that, suggests making small changes, one by one. Dust one piece of furniture every day and after two weeks it will become a habit. That can be useful, but it seems backwards to me.

For me, habits, behaviors, and ways of being in the world are paper chains. One thing links back to another and another, down and down, until the chain vanishes in the lunar unconscious. A lot of what is fundamental to us is built on things we have no conscious knowledge of. Minding my dreams for three years has taught me that.

Consider this quote from Carl Jung:

“The archetypes have this peculiarity in common with the atomic world, which is demonstrating before our eyes that the more deeply the investigator penetrates into the universe of microphysics the more devastating are the explosive forces he finds enchained there. That the greatest effects come from the smallest causes has become patently clear not only in physics but in the field of psychological research as well. How often in the critical moments of life everything hangs on what appears to be a mere nothing!” Carl Gustav Jung The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales (italics mine)

Minding my dreams has given me a glimpse of the secret of true change. Whatever I want to change I trace back down the chain as far as possible, then cut that link. All the others will tumble. This disrupts the entire chain of events that ends in some unwanted habit or way of being.

If the lights are dim in your house, you don’t need to knock the whole house down to fix it. Just follow the faulty wire—through the light fixture, into the ceiling, across the wall, along the studs, down and down to the sub basement until you behold the gremlin or root gleefully twisting the wire.

Get rid of it. Make peace with it. Sing to it. Do whatever is needed until light shines out in every room in your house. “A great effect,” a great change, “coming from the smallest cause.” You don’t have to deal with every link.

The monster or gremlin or root will certainly return—it’s used to being there. Gradually I become more tuned to the slightest dimming of the lights. That’s my warning bell and now I KNOW what to do. I stop the chain at its source.

As I pay attention, the gremlin grows weaker and weaker, takes over less often. You might find that you have to follow the chain farther back. Beyond the gremlin lurks something else, something you couldn’t see before because the gremlin blocked the view.

It is all forever unfolding, if you just listen for the faintest warning bell, just listen and watch. 

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
Join us on April 12 when author Kevan J. Atteberry shares what makes him ring, resonate, and feel alive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Cut Off the Branches That No Longer Ring

Sometimes what once made us feel radiantly alive—a friendship, a job, an idea, a project, a religion—doesn’t anymore. What once rang fades to a tolling dirge. Often I have trouble recognizing this, trouble letting die what needs to die. This had value once, I think. This rang, once. So I attempt CPR and try to force life back into it.

But if you don’t let die what needs to, there’s no room for something new to grow.

The question is, how do you learn to recognize when something’s time has come? When do you pick up the knife?

Pruning is an art that has to be practiced, like any other art. Often the guiding principle is to open the tree up to as much light as possible. I once read something helpful, I don’t recall where: “Cut off the branch that has no singing left in it.”

Translating this into my own symbolic life language, I’d say this: Hold the knife with care. Give thanks to what once sustained you but no longer does. Then, with intention and respect, cut off the branch that has no ringing left in it. Let it die. Let yourself mourn. And then walk on.

New branches will grow. New buds will bloom. New bells will rise and ring, because you’ve purposefully shaped your life to let in new light.

Spring bursts from winter. 

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
Join us on April 12 when author Kevan J. Atteberry shares what makes him ring, resonate, and feel alive.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hearing the Bells: 7:30 BELLS Guest Post by Elizabeth Rose Stanton

I'm happy to share this guest post by author illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton. And no doubt about it, she is an AMAZING artist!

For years I didn’t think I was meant to be an artist. Looking back on it I knew in my heart I wanted to be one but didn’t, for one reason or another, take it seriously.

I should have known, though, the first time I heard those bells go off. I distinctly remember the moment. I don’t remember exactly how old I was . . . maybe twelve? I was alone in my room, it was late and I was supposed to be asleep. I had a pencil, a pad of lined paper, and a photograph of something I wanted to capture. Then it happened. Without being entirely conscious of it, I had broken down an image to an abstraction, and reassembled it into ART! It was exhilarating and powerful. Bells and whistles went off!

I heard those bells, loud and clear that night, and I felt them . . . but I didn’t heed them. I didn’t know exactly what to do with my newfound superpower. I suppose it was because I didn’t have a frame of reference at the time. I suppose, too, it was because I grew up in a household that, while otherwise encouraging, didn’t value the notion of a professional life devoted to art.

But over the years those bells kept ringing, sometimes intermittently, sometimes faintly, as I wandered down one life path after another. I became an architect (lots of drawing, right?), I had kids (!!), and I dabbled in design and arts administration (getting closer . . .). Finally, in what was truly a clear-as-a-bell moment (and, indeed, it felt like it happened in a moment) I found myself an illustrator AND an author. Those bells were ringing so loud I couldn’t ignore them any longer!

Looking back a lifetime, I wish I’d had the wherewithal to realize how powerful that first moment, long ago, really was—and to fully understand what it meant. I wish I’d pursued my art more directly. But I’ve come to appreciate all the life experiences I have had and have come to know that every one of them has, in fact, been leading me straight to where I am now.

My bells are ringing loud and clear, once again.

So when your bells go ringing, be sure and pay attention!

Thanks for having me, Dia!

Elizabeth Rose Stanton began her grownup life as an architect; then segued over to arts administration and design after starting a family a long time ago. Now she builds picture books, and is having a blast!

Her first book, HENNY (Simon & Schuster), was named a best picture book by the New York Public Library (Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2014), was a Kids’ Indie Next List pick, and was a finalist for the Prix Jeunesse des Libraires du Quebec. Her picture book PEDDLES (Simon & Schuster), was just released (January 2016), and she has recently begun work on her third picture book for Simon & Schuster, BUB, due out in early 2018.

Elizabeth lives in Seattle with her husband and three Scottish Fold cats.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
Join us on April 12 when author Kevan J. Atteberry shares what makes him ring, resonate, and feel alive.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spring Bells! Announcing 7:30 BELLS Guest Post Lineup.

I'm so pleased to share the "Spring Bells," 
7:30 BELLS Guest Post Bloggers for this season.
Find their posts on the second Tuesday of each month.

March 8
Author and Illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton
creator of the beautiful and heart-warming picture books
Peddles and Henny

April 12
Kevan Atteberry has been drawing
 since he was "knee-high to a crayon." He's an illustrator and author
 of books such as Bunnies!!! and Halloween Hustle.

May 10
Author of nine novels for young people,
Mitali Perkins invites readers to her "virtual fire escape," 
to read and chat about life between cultures.