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dogs friendship generosity happiness Uncategorized

proud sponsor of puppy bowl!

two-dogs-playing-snow-motion-blur-breed-cairn-terrier-small-dog-mix-chihuahua-36335747.jpg

Honey Girl is proud to sponsor the second annual local puppy bowl!  You can see the action happening now: https://www.facebook.com/events/2019712311651171/

Drop by the Honey Girl Books and Gifts on-line store here to pick up a puppy-themed pillow in valentine flannel!* The pocket on the back is a perfect way to unplug from fake “friends” and reconnect with your loved ones.

Which hopefully include a dog.

 

***

p.s. Enter code “03” for 50% off any pillow until Valentine’s Day!

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Categories
creativity health humor meditation T'ai chi wisdom Zen philosophy

small business, big business

zen-sand-stone-garden-dirk-ercken_67019

–Thanks to Dirk Ercken for sharing the Zen sand stone garden above.

Business is on my mind these days. It is a very new and odd sensation for a French teacher. In fact, it appears that I am moving through a fascinating phase of life: doing three things simultaneously that would seem impossible to coexist.

  1. finishing up my academic career with a full-time load of teaching (bright and highly motivated) students and all that ensues (grading papers, office hours, helping people revise their writing, etc.)
  2. launching a small business—the Honey Girl Books and Gifts “Valentine’s Special” starts Jan. 31.  Enter code 03 for 50% off a special pillow today!

and most importantly,

3. studying Zen philosophy and practicing T’ai chi daily to deepen my health, serenity, and well-being.

The soft and comforting gifts I sew are, for me, a source of marvel and joy.

 

“Marvel and joy?” you might wonder. “It’s just a home décor item.”

“Maybe to you,” I’d say.

[And I would think: the process is fraught with wonder, when you work with a 90-year-old sewing machine inherited from your grandma.

Great-grandma's sewing machine

There’s that spiritual thing, first, as if you’re surrounded by a small but ever-present group of benevolent ghosts, helping you on. And second there’s a physical reason for the sense of joy (and relief!) I get from finishing projects, because my machine is broken in back. So I have to hold the motor pulley against the hand wheel with my right hand and steer the fabric through the machine with my left hand. I know it’s insane. But I love the new creativity I’ve been feeling for the past year and wonder if it’s not due in part to activating some other sector of the brain, as I’ve become more ambidextrous. One day I’ll get it fixed. But for now, sewing on that White Rotary is sometimes like a contact sport, navigating the fat pillows under the cast iron machine to sew the hems is my battle.

Until it’s won!  And it is won, night after night, despite all the mistakes and revising and redoing. And they are beautiful little creatures that almost seem alive to me; thus naming them makes sense. Last night I made “Happy” in Spring Yellow Plaid and “Love is sweet” in Hearts and snowflakes.   (images coming soon on the HGBG website)]

“OK, ok,” you might reply, if I dared to say all that out loud, “I get that. Sort of. But isn’t it just a set formula for those pillows? Don’t you get sick of making them?”

I would answer “no.”  And probably look away, because that’s personal too, you see.

So I would think to myself:  [Absolutely not! It’s a refreshing change for a long-time workaholic academic. After so many years reading other people’s words and regurgitating them into new patterns, sitting on a chair, it feels so good to move around!  And my mind feels very alive working with the inventory of fabrics I’ve built up. I made the Tranquility Pillow ordered by Catherine into an asymmetrical, Chinese-looking design that emphasizes the emptiness and mystery of the forest. This winter model has a tiny creek (“le petit ruisseau”) running quietly along the sides of the wood, instead of a broad river or waterfall, such as I’ve put on other Tranquility Pillows.”

But that makes me sound kind of crazy. Just saw Phantom ThreadPerfectionists unite! (as if that were possible).]

So that is why sewing pillows feels like a marvel and a joy.

Sewing is difficult and highly detailed. I frequently hurt my hands with pins and needles and sometime the sewing machine needle goes right through a finger, as it did last night. I am a passionate artisan more than an expert and love the sense of being a beginner and constantly refining my art.

Beginning. Maybe that’s why the things I make sometimes have the quality of an accident. As Alan Watts describes in The Way of Zen:

“this is not a masterful mimicry of the accidental, an assumed spontaneity in which the careful planning does not show. It lies at a much deeper and more genuine level, for what the culture of Taoism and Zen proposes is that one might become the kind of person, who, without intending it, is the source of marvelous accidents.” (28)

***

Back to small business and big business coming together.

The fact of starting a small business pushes all kinds of very practical and time-sensitive issues to the forefront of one’s consciousness. Mind is bombarded with urgent demands and can easily become overwhelmed, with thoughts such as, “There are so many details to manage!”  “This business costs lots of money. Will it be worth it?” “Will I get paid ok, or will my clients rip me off?” Such thoughts cause the shoulders to tighten, the jaw to clench, and a panicky feeling to rise from the belly.

On the other hand, the fact of studying Zen and practicing T’ai chi and meditation on a daily basis pushes the Body-Mind—located in the Tan tien two inches below the navel–into a more powerful focus. By keeping our thoughts there while meditating or doing the Form, the body naturally starts to hold the back straighter and makes the torso feel tight and strong like a spring. Yet shoulders are loose and comfortable. Vision shifts as well, so that interesting things appear everywhere, every single day, all the time.

Will my new-found and hard-wrought serenity withstand the ravages of greed and competition?

I think so.

A business is sometimes small. It simply is.

The big business is life!

And the art of living well.

Good day to you, reader!

Categories
generosity happiness

new life or new attitude? just be care-ful

routine-passion-fantaisie-creation

Hello and Happy New Year, readers!

Let 2018 be a year of discovery, not routine. Even if nothing else changes, you yourself can change how you perceive things and–most importantly–how you perceive yourself. If each of us did a caring act toward our world and our fellow humans, each day, think of all the good that might result.

News update on the December outreach campaign of HGBG to the caring professions!  As of today, four free “Tranquility Pillows” (value $150 each) have been delivered to the following people: 1) to Jaime, an elementary school teacher in Texas; 2) to Sarah, a middle school teacher in North Carolina; 3) to Maddie, a nurse in Washington state; and 4) to Leo, a high school teacher in Wisconsin.  It will be interesting to hear back from them later, on how the pillow soothes the spirits of their students, patients, or themselves, after a hard day’s work in those demanding fields.

Our hat’s off to all those people who devote their lives to a caring profession in 2018. Thank you.

Categories
children generosity happiness wisdom Zen philosophy

an irregular economical oddity at work!

 

Hello readers!

It is an elementary truth of capitalism that you must make people pay for what you sell. Yet there is something irresistible about generosity!  As Harvard University economist Stephen Marglin writes:

Love is a very special commodity,

An irregular economical oddity.

Bread, when you take, there’s less on the shelf.

Love, when you make it, it grows of itself.*

***

Honey Girl Books and Gifts wants to help spread love and fellow-feeling! Thus our offer, which is good until 12/25/17 this year, and will be good again each year in the week before Christmas:  to honor and assist people in the caring professions, each year in the week before Christmas we will give away Tranquility Pillows  ($150 value) to all K-12 teachers and counselors, nurses, fire or police officers who request one. Contact juliawsea@gmail.com with your request.  Thank you for your service to humanity; we could not survive without you!

***

* Stephen A. Marglin, The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 18.

 

Categories
creativity dogs happiness memory

hgbg launch! soft and comforting gifts await you

Puppy Honey Girl

Hello!  My name is puppy Honey Girl and I am the inspiration behind “Honey Girl Books and Gifts,” a small, sustainable business created by my owner, to offer soft and comforting products to the world. “Heirlooms that soothe the spirit.”

Please visit my new website. Order now for pre-Christmas delivery!  https://www.honeygirlbooks.com/

Thank you!

Peace and Love to all,

HG & Julia

Categories
dogs memory

dull day with headache, made better by a dog

Just so you realize I don’t feel great all the time. The meditation and T’ai chi this morning did help, though it seems like that was a long time ago now.

Luckily there’s Honey Girl to keep me warm during this cold winter evening while I grade papers and balance books.  Here she is posing with the labels for my new line of Honey Girl and Books pillows and narrative quilts, and a new purchase, Mercer Mayer’s book, The Queen Always Wanted to Dance.

This well-loved copy, bought via Abebooks.com, is particularly wonderful because it comes from a small-town library in Georgia and still has the cards in its pocket where young readers signed their names to check it out. Seeing the typewritten words on the cards and the childish scrawls beneath gave me a pang. That reminder of how things used to be in the analog world of my childhood, reminds us of what we have lost in the rush to do everything online.

Honey Girl and me on a cold night.jpg

Categories
creativity humor wisdom Zen philosophy

a sale, a pillow, an event! and a break

Even pacifists like success and today was a big first for me: I sold the first Original Honey Girl Pillow, in what I hope will be a long line of Honey Girl Pillows!  Each will have its own special vintage feel and Zen vibe. This one’s name is Blueberry. Just had to celebrate a little!

It is not coincidental that, just before remembering to celebrate with you, I was reading my students’ papers about money in French literature. (All my classes in this my final year of elite college teaching are about money. It’s my gift to the world.)

This blog, despite its ethereal air, is part of a larger project that will begin in just 220 days, when I emerge from the cocoon of college teaching and begin running a small business. Through the creation of Honey Girl Books and Gifts and the ongoing “Write YOUR Story” workshops I plan to teach for adults and kids, I hope to contribute to what sounds like an exciting–if widely scattered–alternative economy here in the USA.

It’s not so terribly “alternative” as that, maybe, although I do hope to pay the seamstresses well, and to hire young artists looking for a break. But by creating comforting narrative quilts for individual clients or families, fun Zen pillows for college kids, and the adorable Honey Girl for anyone, my secret hope is to lure people away from digitalia. The future book line will aim for that too. I hope to help people learn to appreciate old-fashioned ways of production, and time-honored means of communicating through cotton, paper, satin, and flannel.

Be real. Together. Be real together. Be real, together. Be, real together!

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m taking a few days off now.

 

 

Categories
memory nature wisdom

windy windy windy skies

dramatic-clouds-photo2-lIt is very windy tonight! The wind blew open my attic window and flooded the tiny room with good cool air smelling of the earth, of wet leaves, wood smoke, and change.

When the wind blows high like tonight, I think of the poem posted below. I was a little girl when I got it, on the back of a postcard from a counselor at Camp Robinswold. Robinswold is on Hood Canal, Washington, which if you don’t know it, is on the Olympic Peninsula. It is a place of huge ferns and shaggy fir trees dripping with moss, a real-live Rain Forest. So in my mind, French style and folklore, lush natural resources, and friendship go together.

This exuberant poem inspires with the colors of blue and white, the movement up into the air, and the soft touch. I don’t know who wrote it, but now it can be yours too.

Windy  windy windy skies

deep blue fallen over my eyes.

The clouds so white

as the sun is bright

The sea is so blue in place

as the wind blows in your face

The birds so loud & clear

as if you feel a soft

hand in the air.

Anon., ca. 1970, Robinswold, WA

 

Windy skies postcard Pomme de reinette