New Year

I was lucky enough to fly back to the US this year for Christmas and New Years.  I have only missed 1 Christmas away from my family in Wyoming, and am realizing more each year how much of a priority it is for me to be home over the holidays.  As I seem to have a new family member every year, I don’t want to miss out on catching these days of seeing their constant growth, change and discovery.

My days at home are few and precious, and with seeing these amazing changes in my family, along with having visits with inspiring friends, I can’t help but make a list of resolutions for 2015.

The other night I had dinner with my dear friends, and fellow artists Eric and Maria Wimmer.  Maria, who is a prolific blogger, recently posted her list of new years resolutions, which you can read here.  It seems only fitting that since I talked with Maria and Eric late into the night about new projects, upcoming shows and promises for the new year, that I should do the same.

That being said, here is my list for 2015:

1) Keep in touch.  With the loss of internet in my studio last fall, I fell into a silence.  Yes, I was also doing my best of staying in the present moment, but I realize how important keeping in touch is for my friends and family living far away.  So I promise to keep up on emailing as well as blog posting.

2) Complete all my projects.  Especially collaborations with friends, and push them as far as they can go.  This includes a collaborative sketchbook project, a series of articles on Istanbul Hans, a published book of travel sketches and 3 solo shows!

3) Keep up with my Turkish.  Its easy to get lazy about this one.  Even though I am living in Turkey, I am often surrounded by English speaking friends and too often succumb to the comfort of my native tongue.  This year I will continue with my private lessons, try out duolingo.com, which just added Turkish, perhaps take a month long intensive course, and just speak more often.

4) Continue with my consistent art making process, push forward with more discipline and diligence, even in those times when it is difficult to make anything.

5) Don’t loose the dedication to my yoga practice, keep connecting to that inner child and have the natural confidence that comes with letting go of our expectations from the world…just like Captain America here.

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Pleasant Valley

Now, remembering California…

My excursion last fall was unplanned to say the least, so when I ended up at a yoga retreat tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, I was less than surprised.  At this point, I was just putting one foot in front of the other, my direction lead only by intuition.

I traveled for 12 straight hours from the coast to the mountains, first by bus, then bus again, then train, and at last a car.  I have to say, my experiences thus far of traveling by bus in the United States have not been the most pleasant, but as a traveller you learn to put on your head phones, prop up your feet and ignore the crazy banter from the man sitting two seats back and focus on the next destination.  I switched buses and stations, waited for departures and ate trail mix while sketching and reading.  The day slipped by as I sat in various seats with friendly or unfriendly neighbors, but I just stared out onto the passing landscape with my sunglasses gently slipping down my nose.

drawing

I had enjoyed the train ride into Sacramento, but after arriving found myself sitting in sweltering heat on the steps of the train station, hoping desperately that my ride would recognize me as the girl from Wyoming or Colorado, or somewhere around there…a girl who was traveling in California without direction, and who wanted to come stay at the yoga retreat for a time.  After reading The New Yorker, finishing my trail mix and watching the sun slowly slip behind the glaring skyscrapers of Sacramento, I spotted her…my wonderful, sweet host, standing by the Starbucks, with large dark sunglasses, and a hand-written sign reading, Gabrielle.

Pleasant Valley Sanctuary was more to me than a resting place, it was solitude and silence, nights of laughter, mornings of peace, long conversations in the afternoon and endless cups of tea accompanied by wonderful books.  As part of the intern experience, I absorbed as much as I could about meditation, yoga theory and concepts of spirituality.

This is a part of the country where the energy is different, people look you directly in the eye, you can feel the sincerity and trust in their voices.  You can go swimming in the river in late October before driving into the nearby town and meeting people with names like Distance and Starlight Compost at the laundromat.  I left Pleasant Valley on a bus heading towards San Francisco, wishing I could stay longer but knowing I had do move on…I was filled with the bliss of a child.

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