Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain

This post is a repeat. Happy Halloween!

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Samhain, pronounced “sow-in,” is Irish Gaelic for “the summer’s end” and represents the death of the summer sun god Lugh.  Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic and Wiccan New Year.  It marks the end of the harvest.

Samhain is considered a time to eliminate weaknesses.  It is now customary to write one’s weaknesses on a piece of paper and then to burn the pieces of paper.  It is also a time to plant the seeds of new projects, to allow them to germinate over the winter, and to end old projects.

If you catch a falling leaf on Samhain before it touches the ground, it will bring you good luck and health for the coming winter.

Halloween originates from the ancient Celts celebrations and is based on their “Feast of Samhain.”

To learn more about Samhain and other Celtic festivals, visit here and here.


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A Year of Mindfulness-Listen Like a Sponge

Namaste dear readers. I apologize for not being present these past few weeks. After my last post on 10/5/12, I dove head first into intensive art show preparations. When I am in that mode my commitment to blogging often falls to the side. That is what happened here. My mindfulness practice was focusing on creating art. And, quite frankly, I am not very skilled at multi-tasking any more. When I direct most of my energy to a specific project, it stays there.

So, let’s begin again and pick up where I left off. Our last mindfulness practice focused on the wind. This week we are asked to practice listening.

This Week’s Practice: Listen Like A Sponge

Oh I do enjoy this practice, especially when our lives can be dominated by technology, especially mobile phones & iPads.

With this practice, we are asked to listen to other people as if we are sponges, soaking up whatever the other person has to say. This means to not just give someone your full attention when they speak. It also means that you not form any responses in your mind until a response is requested or needed.

Uh oh, that means keeping your mind quiet when someone is talking to you. Something that does not come naturally to most of us.

Seriously, how often does your mind wander when someone else is talking to you? Be honest. You might be thinking about the speaker’s hair cut, the clothes they’re wearing, or how you wish they’d speak faster because you need to get home.

And with mobile phones and iPads, how often do you find yourself twiddling around with either device when someone is talking to you? Are you really giving them your full attention if you’re also reading your email?

Listening like a sponge is also known as “absorptive listening.” You have to make the mind and body still.

It is quite normal for most of us to “check out” when someone else is talking. Observe yourself when someone talks to you. How many times does your mind drift? Make a mental note of it. Then try to catch yourself when your mind drifts and bring your thoughts back to the speaker. You can be aware of your own thoughts but try not to be disturbed by them and let them take over.

Consider as well how you feel when someone is listening to you like a sponge. How does it feel to be witnessed by someone else?

This week, listen when someone is talking to you. Truly listen. Absorb their words like a sponge. Give them your undivided attention.

Reflection: We shall practice listening so attentively that we are able to hear what the other is saying-and also what is left unsaid. We know that by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in others. -Buddhist recitation for invoking compassion


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New Art Friday: Raining Cats and Dogs…Ornimals and an Art Show

I’m happy to share with you today my newest Ornimal ornaments-two new cats and two new dogs.

Before Features are Painted

I use sculptor’s grade polymer clay to create my Ornimal ornaments. Each piece is sculpted one at a time over a glass base. After the clay has been cured (hardened) in a clay dedicated oven, I apply a thin wash of brown acrylic paint over the piece to accent the texture.

I call this the piggy-ghost phase because many of these pieces look like piggies in this first phase. The ghosty part is because the eyes haven’t been painted. The Ornimals really don’t come to life until the all features are added.

Here is what this new group looked like after the wash of paint and before the features were added.

Cat and Dog Ornimals
Acrylic wash
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

And here is how they look after the features are painted on the clay.

New Cat Ornimals

Tuxedo Cat with Mohawk
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Orange Tiger Cat with Striped Hat
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

New Dog Ornimals

Golden Lab with Cap
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Chihuahua with Top Hat
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

And here is the whole brood. Who says cats and dogs can’t live together?

New Cat and Dog Ornimals
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

These new Ornimals are 2 3/8″ in diameter (60mm) and approximately 3″ tall.

Art Show This Month

These new Ornimals will be joining me at my first holiday show of the season. You’re all invited to come to the Merrimack Valley Artisans 23rd Annual Art Show & Sale on October 20-21, in Chelmsford, MA. Admission is $3.00. You’ll also have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win select pieces of artwork donated by the artists, including this special Ornimal:

When Pigs Fly…
Amy Crawley (2012)

Merrimack Valley Artisans
23rd Annual Art Show & Sale
October 20-21, 2012

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a great weekend!


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A Year of Mindfulness-The Wind

Can you believe we are now entering the last quarter of the year? Welcome October! In another several weeks we will have completed our mindfulness practices and finished Dr. Bays’ book. Remember how awkward this all felt back in January? Okay, some of it still feels awkward. Know that you are making progress.

Last week, we were asked to become more aware of things we might be overlooking, such as sounds, colors, smells. Those things we typically don’t pay attention to because we are focused on one singular event or task in front of us. How did you do with this practice? Did you notice a bell that chimes almost every morning just before 8am? (There is a private school not too far from our home. A bell rings in the morning and we can hear it if we listen hard enough.)

How about a dog barking in the distance? Or a train whistle? With the cooler weather I’m also becoming more aware of the smell of fires burning in fireplaces. And you?

This Week’s Practice-Become Aware of the Wind

Now you might think this week’s practice is rather obvious. Of course I’m aware of the wind, you say. I feel it blow across my skin when I go on a walk. And you are correct. That is one form of this practice.

But what about the less obvious occurrences of feeling the movement of air? In this week’s practice, we are asked to become aware of the movement air, from the obvious, such as the wind, to the subtle, such as the breath.

There are several ways we experience “wind”-by feeling its touch, by feeling a change in temperature, by seeing it move other things, and by hearing it move through other things.

All of these experiences represent change-change in what we see (leaves moving), change in what we feel (cool skin), change in what we hear (a howling sound.) So you could say when you become aware of the wind or air, you are becoming aware of change.

As with many of these practices, this week we are once again called to pay deeper attention to actions in our daily lives. Instead of moving through life on auto-pilot, this mindfulness practice asks us to be present, to notice, and to embrace change.

This week, we are asked to become aware of wind or movement of air. Notice your breathing and how it changes in various situations. Notice temperature changes and how your skin reacts before you feel air move across your skin. Can you feel the air as it moves around you when you walk? How about when you blow on a hot beverage or sniff?

Want a real challenge? Sit quietly and try to become aware of your breath at the nostrils. Can you feel the subtle change on the skin just above your lips? Are you becoming aware of the subtle changes that make up the fabric of life?

Reflection: All things are embraced. Within the universal mind. Told by the cool wind. This morning. -Yamada Mumon

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