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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Stories


Moon on a Wire
Our Stories                                              
The human experience
Wrapped like blankets
       around our hearts
Spiraling
         -sometimes out of control
Over-lapping
Blending
Gradually connecting
A centrifugal force
A springboard to
              deeper relationships
Sometimes ragged
Sometimes unfinished
A portal to the past 
   or to healing
      or to humor.
A portal to friendship.
Woven together
     Tangled
Marking the passing of time
A perfect circle
Full circle
And the story goes on
Nancy A. Erisman
June 2004


Photo by Nancy A. Erisman ©2011
 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Telling Stories

AKA Online Treats & Blog Introductions
AKA Every Post Tells a Story

I have been thinking about the power of story a lot recently.  This is not necessarily new to me, but it does seem to be very prevalent in my thoughts these days.  My focus on story began many, many years ago through conversations with dear friends and the gift of this book.  Crow and Weasel weaves a story of friendship and growth and journey.  It contains one of my now favorite quotes:
Did I just see...?
“I would ask you to remember only this
one thing,” said Badger.
“The stories people tell have a way of
taking care of them.  If stories come to
you, care for them.  And learn to give
them away where they are needed. 
Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.  That is why we put these stories in each other’s memory. 
This is how people care for themselves. 
One day you will be good storytellers. 
Never forget these obligations.”
-Barry Lopez
Crow and Weasel 

Through my love of reading and conversation, I absorb and/or share my own stories frequently.  Lately I seem to be bumping into story everywhere I go.  Of course there is Jude and her students telling stories with cloth and words in the comments section and on their own blogs.  ("Hi everyone!")  Just this week, emails were sent to me with links to an interesting life story or presentations by a large variety of storytellers.  NPR keeps me informed or entertained with art, book or music, daily news and life stories.  I am remembering an audio version of The Story Catcher by Jen Lee that I have listened to numerous times over the past few years.  Jen has the gift of stringing words together like a long-lost string of pearls, a family heirloom simple in its presentation, but with a story full and round and beautifully deep.  I have been enjoying the stories on some of my favorite blogs (this post is quickly turning into a list of those most frequented places!)  like, this one where Leslie shares her art, garden, grandchildren and amazing dog.  Every time I look at Atticus, I melt into those eyes!  There is Andrea who writes of her life in a variety of creative endeavours, including motherhood to two adorable boys.  Her stories of mothering her son through some very difficult health issues speaks to me as a mother and helps keep humanity alive on the sometimes anonymous Internet and society in 2011.  It is funny that the anonymous Internet can also be a window to stories in your own family as I read the blogs of my sister and my niece.  There are the stories of Deb, which pop off the screen with powerful color and life force that I am often uncomfortable expressing myself.  She shares her life in poetry, photographs,  art and projects that shout joy even through life's harder moments.  She reminds me to look for the positive.  Karen inspires the positive too, with her amazing photography, her message comes through loud and clear.  She inspired me to make a Mighty Life List and to include things that seem far out of reach or hold little possibility that I would actually be brave enough to do them.  It is good to stretch.  There is Brene Brown who shares her story and those of so many more.  Stories of pain, healing and empowerment that sometimes we avoid, but that need telling.  Those kind of stories aren't easy to tell, but she does so brilliantly.  There is the power of story and cloth  in healing for children, where ideas of texture and therapy go hand in hand.  Now, I have come across another blog that intrigues me with the combination of art and story and healing. 
I am loving the way story can currently be shared.  There is of course, the old ways which I fully support.  The verbal storytelling or the sharing through the hand-crafted, lovingly made.   But there are the new ways too, the mixed media of storytelling, through video, audio, photography, art, or music all combined in different variations and viewed or heard in their own ways.  One of the storytellers I enjoy in this regard is Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  She is a writer, artist, video maker and a gatherer of people.  She creates in a way that is inclusive, either literally or through inspiration.  Amy is fun.  It's good to have fun in your life.
Alas, I would be remiss if I did not mention the story encapsulated in snippets and quips of abbreviated language and photos in the world of social connection known as Facebook, where we can stay tuned into the daily lives of our families and friends with instant updates.  The conversations that occur remind me of the back-and-forth banter of, what is known now as 'face time', that took place years ago when life was closer and slower.

Old shorts have a story too!

If you have read this far, thank you.  If you are wondering what was the point to this story... and you feel confused... me too!  I guess it is my way of throwing a lasso around so many ideas, sources, and interesting folks and placing them in a corral so they can be easily found in the future. Don't you wonder what people like about the sites they post in their 'blogroll'?  I do.  I wonder about the story.  Now if I ever get to creating my list of frequented blogs here at pomegranate trail, you will know the background story!  This is my way of sharing with my friends, family and online community.  It is written pondering.  Questions, comments and conversation welcomed!
If you travel to explore some of the many links I've included...
enjoy yourself
share with others
and come back to see me soon!
-Nancy

All photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2011 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Now, Then & Back Again


I’m sitting tonight with some stitching and silence,
except the familiar voices coming from my trusty laptop.
For as I sew hearts with threads of varied colors,
I am listening to old recordings of my mother and Nana 
chatting about family history.
Both are no longer here to share in the day-to-day events in my life.
Both are missed dearly.
I am sewing, stitching...present in the moment.
I pop in on my computer to switch to the next recording, check a stitch video or post a comment in my newly embraced community.  Then I relax…settle in, cloth in hand.
And I am back in the early 1980’s listening to a mother and daughter reviewing, discovering and sharing lives intertwined.  The quality is a bit fuzzy, but I listen with fine-tuned ears to the familiar banter of my family.  I recognize our history and our family culture. I smile as my mom references the recent birth of my son.  I pause and reflect on myself as a mother and grandmother...my daughter, my sister and her daughters...my dear friend and her mother, daughters and granddaughter...all in a long chain, a big circle of women.
Connected over time...
Listening, I hold my breath as mother and daughter try, almost in vain, 
to recall some small detail in their past.  
 I laugh out loud at the sound of their laughter and my grandmother’s occasional swear word. 
I am held captive by their excited voices trying to talk over one another
or as they complete one another’s sentences.
I embrace family phrases and sentiment and humor.  I hear common values, traits and interests, for I share more than just our three generations with these two women. 
I share an eternity with them.  And I wallow in a sense of place. 
Happy Mother’s Day
to all of the important women, both now and then.

My Aunt, my Nana and my Mom - 1941
My sister and I share some laughs with our Nana
My sister and I sit for a photo with our mom

All photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

When Things Line Up


All photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2011

Don't you love it when things fall into place all by themselves?  Don’t you love to celebrate the serendipitous quality of life?! While looking through fabrics for Jude Hill's Whispering Hearts class in April, I found an old pillowcase from well over 20 years ago.  The case itself is even older as it had once belonged to a great aunt.  It is bright yellowing white, softer than it has a right to be and it holds a familiar scent that has remained unchanged all of these years.  I embroidered the moon and stars when my daughter was very young and she slept with this soft comfort for many, many years of her childhood.  Since I was focused on hearts, I spent a moment remembering and then tucked the pillowcase away again.  I began to see hearts everywhere.
On bread tags

On the back of cars



Extra threads from my mother's sewing box

A co-workers hand









Now, May has brought me once again to a class with Jude: Whispering Sun Moon and Stars.  And I think once again of that old soft cotton case, embracing its sudden reappearance.  I just may use it in the very near future!



Sunday, May 1, 2011

This is a Test!



Photo by Nancy A. Erisman ©2011

This is a test. If it were an actual post, I would have something amazing or important or inspiring or at least interesting to share. But, right now all I can say is I am here. I am here after thinking about being here for a very long time. I have written a thousand witty 'about me' blurbs or posts in my head over the past many months (dare I say years!) However, today I finally just dove in with no water wings on and no real plan, which is kind of the way I like it, so it seems. Maybe I will accept this as a lesson on the evolution of a blog as I have tried to do with other things I create. After claiming my blog name and setting up the basic format (for now), I reflected on how moving through the process was much like moving through life. There were starts and stops, frustrations and sighs of contentment. There were moments of getting lost and then somehow finding my way again, all to end up here for the first time and feeling quite a bit happy and a little nervous. Oh well, I guess this is the way of trying new things. I will continue on with this endeavor because I really do like the creative expression aspect and the challenge. I have so much I would like to share. I hope you’ll join me in the adventure and the conversation.