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March Practice and Process: “Ground”

In creating our new project, Bellwether (an art series and album due winter 2016) we’ve decided to share what we’re doing each month before it’s released.
We’re calling these posts “practice and process“.

They will detail the spiritual/life practice we’re doing,
give a look at our in-process art that we’re creating in response,
and then include a whole host of resources and activities! (like the new desktop wallpaper, book/music/movie lists, recipes, explorations for kids, etc. This is so as an entire family we can engage in this year’s exploration of “belief” we’re calling Bellwether. 

MARCH Theme: GROUND

We are approaching this March theme in lots of ways: asking “what grounds you?”, actually digging in the dirt AND metaphorically digging in the dirt, finding foundations, and setting ground work.

Practice:

This month we are

  1. Reading then gardening! We’ll be setting aside a specific time for reading spiritual writings right before heading out to work in the garden. As a whole family we’ll be reading from the psalms, from poetry, children’s books, or any host of passages we find resonate with us. We’ll pair this with gardening in hopes to dig our hands into the Spring season.
  2. For our Table Alter this month we’ll be setting up little pots and planting seeds – we’ll water and watch the slow progression of growth, again hitting on the death and resurrection truths we find in the world around us.

Process:

Betony hopes to hit some finish lines on art projects she’s been working on so she can set the “ground” work for this new series. Tim has a tour in the Chicago area he’ll be recovering from in the beginning of March.

The other process is going to be exploring this big idea: there seems to be spiritual archetypes that happen all over our favorite stories. In movies, books, all sorts of art, you’ll find baptism scenes, out-to-the-desert scenarios, resurrection pictures… Betony and I are looking in to these universals to better inform our own belief.

Resources for “GROUND”:

MARCH Dates to Take Note of:

March 13th – Daylight Savings
March 14th – Pi Day – You can’t go wrong with this recipe.
March 17th – Saint Patrick’s Day – Irish mix to listen to, yummy pub food to make, and a touch of poetry
March 21st – World Poetry Day – Here’s one to get you started
March 25th – Good Friday
March 27th – Easter

Local: Greeley, CO events:

March 19th – Poudre River Friends of the Library Spring Used Book Sale
March 21st – Seed Swap and Garden Talk – Riverside Library – 6:00 pm
March 22nd – Perilous Plants – 12pm at the Farr Library – Botanist Dr. Kathy Keeler

Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

RESOURCES/EXPLORATIONS:

We are planning on getting Chickens next week!
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The girls and Betony have been hard at work building them an enclosure and a chicken coop.
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(A painting of Bet’s from a few years back that seems appropriate, obviously she has been dreaming about them for a while)
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We discovered a parcel of land adjacent to our yard that we thought belonged to the city actually belongs to us. We are going to turn it into a secret garden of sorts – after we dig up all the sumac and poison ivy and weeds – the labor of clearing this neglected land will be part of our spiritual practice for the month.

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Betony is finally ready to start the groundwork on my new series of paintings. She has been playing around with monochromatic under paintings (as explored through the Book of Job)

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MAKE:

Bet might just have to start making some of these hanging chairs for our back porch to lounge in.

Start the seeds we ordered from rareseeds.com (it is also time to plant peas out in the garden already!)
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READING LISTS:

The Little Gardener and Wild by Emily Hughes (LOVE her illustrations)
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The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (haven’t read it yet, but have had it recommended by several people we trust)
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The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
by Du Base Hayward (really loved this one as a kid)
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ART:

Play drawing with Opaque markers on brown eggs

Bet is also enjoying these rubber cement resist died eggs and rubber band wrapped ones. Definitely on her list to try this year.
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ADVENTURE:

Go on lots of bike rides and explorations along the Poudre river trail

We are not going to tell you quite yet what we have planned for this giant box of keys, but we’ll give you a hint that it is something in the category of this epic city-wide adventure we facilitated a few years ago…

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Find some greenhouses to visits

TECHNOLOGY:

A friend recommended this online reading ap, we thought it would make a fun Easter-month game, especially for Harriet (4) – Reading Eggs Game
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LISTEN:

On the first spring rain, listen to this mix.
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March Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

I love March because it is the first month where spring really reveals itself. The old idiom“In like a lion, out like a lamb” always seems so true. This month’s desktop is a gradual transition from the brown of winter to the first bits of green.
For more inspiration for this month – listen to this Irish playlist, make this hearty dinner,  and read this little poem.

Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, go take a look at my newest Silkscreen Print and Tim’s gorgeous song that goes with it.

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen. (Personally I like the flower as my lock screen and the colors as my home screen)

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:
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February Balm: Practice and Process Part 2

PRACTICE:

As we are making our way through February, Betony and I have been staying true to practicing the two things we put forward at the beginning of the month:
Praying for people each night as a family
and
Exploring where our family can do service work (especially looking in to “Turn Around Bikes” in Greeley).

Volunteering

So we met with Liz Young and her intern of Turn Around Bikes last week just asking, “What all do you guys need this year?” Since Betony and I have experience with putting on big events and art shows we volunteered for the “Turn Around Bikes” fundraiser committee. Be looking for a that event come July! It should be an incredible time of biking, live music, food, and Weldwerks Brewing Company will hopefully be involved.

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We also decided to do a special for the next two weeks on our site: 100% of proceeds of sales of this print go to support Turnaround Bikes!
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PROCESS

I’ve been performing a new song this year that has really good energy when I sing it for people. I’ve been ending sets with it. “There is a Balm in Gilead” is a song about deep hope and it feels like a proclamation every time I sing it. It felt right that we would record this song in February and release it with this theme being lived out… More to come on that in a couple days!

Betony put up some versions of this incredible poster last week on Facebook. (True to Giants & Pilgrims projects, it coincides with the song.) You all voted and chose this version! It will be up for sale alongside the song in a couple days as well!
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Some folks that helped make “There is a Balm in Gilead” happen (Charla Bultman, Brian Claxton, and sound engineer/ producer David Wilton):

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My friend Jeff Cook and I released a teaching/song meditation for Lent called Observance.lent

FURTHER EXPLORING “BALM”

We read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” out loud as a family this month. There are so many beautiful and interesting spiritual archetypes in this book: baptism, desert, resurrection, etc. The whole of the book explores LOVE as an act of giving and sacrifice that shapes someone for the better.

Betony has also been reading “Home Grown” and “Man’s Search for Meaning”. She is highly recommending them for me as well!

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This month I helped friend and Giants & Pilgrims band member Mary Claxton do a songwriting intensive, while Betony designed a set for Frontier Academy Elementary’s performance of Aladdin and volunteered to help with a art show fundraiser at our pre-school (check out those Lorax trees)!

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The family took a trip to see the orchids at Denver’s Botanic Gardens.


And we had lots of fun with Valentine’s shenanigans:

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And, speaking of “Balm”, I have been batching my newest set of colognes, beard oils, and aftershaves!IMG_5129

That’s all for now! March is going to be all about “Ground” so be watching for that soon!

A Work of Art for Lent

Tim Coons writing:

I teamed up with Jeff Cook, the pastor of Atlas Church in Greeley, CO, for this project. (Atlas is a wonderful community we started with a group of friends and we’re all still connected to this day.)

We’re calling this Atlas Observance: beauty for the spiritual season. Basically, Jeff wrote and performed this six minute teaching piece about Ash Wednesday and Lent and I scored it so it leads into our new Giants & Pilgrims’ song “Empty”.

We hope it holds spiritual resonance for all types of travelers and fellow observers of this season.

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February Practice and Process: “Balm”

(image is from a Chinese cloisonné painting factory we visited in China 2008)

In creating our new project, Bellwether (an art series and album due winter 2016) we’ve decided to share what we’re doing each month before it’s released.
We’re calling these posts “practice and process“.

They will detail the spiritual/life practice we’re doing,
give a look at our in-process art that we’re creating in response,
and then include a whole host of resources and activities! (like the new desktop wallpaper, book/music/movie lists, recipes, explorations for kids, etc. This is so as a entire family we can engage in this year’s exploration of “belief” we’re calling Bellwether. 

FEBRUARY Theme: BALM

February is in the heart of winter, close to the edge of a hope for spring. And with Valentine’s Day sitting in the month we’ve often treated February as a time to put into words the way we feel about the ones we deeply love. It’s a way to warm up the cold. We’ve chosen our theme of “balm” with some of these lines drawn.

Practice:

The very definition of balm is “something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect.”

This month we are

  1. exploring what service looks like for our family. We want to start being restorative in an intentional way. For us that looks like partnering with a local charity called “Turn Around Bikes”. They restore donated bikes and give them to people in need. Honestly, since having children we’ve had a hard time being consistent and feeling effective when it comes to giving of ourselves in this kind of way. We’re open to getting better at service. Furthermore, it’s our hope to instill a great sense of compassion in our children. This is at least a first step.
  2. For our second spiritual/life practice we’re setting up a table altar like we did last month. This time before dinner we’ll be praying for people in need of “balm” or some extra love and care. Then on Mondays we’ll be writing and mailing postcards, sending that love out in words.

Here is a really cool free printable postcard designed by our friend Kyle Steed, if you’re needing a great design:

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Process:

Tim is working on recording a song called “There is a Balm in Gilead” this month while I’m gathering ideas and paper tidbits for the overall series.

Resources for “Balm”:

FEBRUARY Dates to Take Note of:

February 7th – Superbowl 50 (with the *ahem*, Denver Broncos! Bake these, I promise you won’t regret it.)
February 8th – Chinese New Year (year of the monkey!) – We love to celebrate by ordering Chinese takeout and reliving our China trip 🙂
February 9th – Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday – we love to listen to this sweet mix curated by Starbucks
February 10th – Ash Wednesday
February 14th – Valentine’s Day
February 15th – President’s Day
February 17th –  Random Acts of Kindness Day
February 28th – The Oscars

Local: Greeley, CO events:

February 5th (and up through the end of the month) – Soundscape a group art show at the Atlas Theater that pairs music and art (right up our alley don’t you think?)
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February 27th – Tim and Charla are opening for the lead singer of Everclear at the MOXI theater!
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Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

EXPLORATIONS:

Here in Greeley, CO we have had just buckets and buckets of snow. We haven’t seen the ground since December 1st. I don’t even remember what it looks like. During winters like this, I think the best possible plan of action is to find a warm tropical greenhouse to visit. Usually we make a trip to the Butterfly pavilion. This year, I am thinking we are going to visit the Orchid Showcase (Jan. 8-Feb 22) at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
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Participate in Turnaround bikes workshops this month and other service related activities.

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Make a visit to the Cranford Cove to get a new selection of looseleaf teas to enjoy this month.

Speaking of tea, the girls and I are planning a lovely Valentine’s tea party with lots of tiny delicacies, fancy china, and, of course, hats and dresses.
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ART:

Spend some time digging into Picasso’s works and share with the girls.
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Their are some really fun art activities in this book.
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Make all sorts of homemade valentines

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READING lists:

Here are some of the kid’s books I have on reserve at the library this month. I was looking for books that deal with Compassion. I would love to hear your recommendations if you have any.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton, The Lion and the Mouse,  and A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee

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I am also reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane out loud to Lucy. It is an absolute favorite of ours. The themes are nested in kindness and compassion and the journey of self-discovery. It’s a good one for adults too.
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Mary Oliver poetry books – these are ABSOLUTELY balm to my soul.
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As a little personal “balm” against the dreariness of February, I love to order my garden seeds. (my favorite is Baker Heirloom Seeds – just reading their catalog is therapeutic)
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LISTEN:

Oxygen by Willy Mason. The video is only ok, but the song is so good.

This Great Valentines Mix curated by Personal Practice

A New Song and a Silk-Screen Poster!

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In response to our January theme of “Clearing” we have created a fully produced, beautiful song for you called “Empty”. You can listen below (and feel free to share it with folks!):

Using the lyrics from the song, Betony has designed a limited edition of 50 silk-screened posters. With silver ink on heavyweight, forest- green paper, it will be an impressive and framable 12×16 print.

Because of the silk-screen process we are only taking orders until February 7th! If you’d like one you can order it now by clicking right here (it’ll take you to our store).

About Bellwether and Our January Theme

At the beginning of the year Betony and I announced we’re working on a new project. Titled Bellwether, it will be an album and art series that explores belief (to be released November 2016).

Instead of just keeping the creative process to ourselves, we’re making it a bit more open; hoping to explore belief each month in ways that contribute and form the project being released.

So every month we’re doing a Practice & Process, choosing a spiritual practice and, in response, sharing the creative process.

For January our theme is Clearing and we wrote all about the Practice we took on (you can see some crazy pictures of our house-clearing too!)

Our plan is to continue releasing songs and posters throughout the calendar year- an ongoing process to these practices. Keep watching for more as the months progress!

Announcing the Giants & Pilgrims’ New Art & Music Project: Bellwether

So it’s time for announcements and proclamations.

For each Giants & Pilgrims’ project we choose a theme and explore that theme with art & music. Last year we released Becoming, about the constant process of growing up. The year before that was Almanac No. 1 and the art & music was centered in the realm of family and proven love.

Where are Betony and my hopes and dreams taking Giants & Pilgrims for 2016? What will fuel the works of art & music?

Here’s what we hope to explore this year, in depth:

Belief.

What do Betony and I believe as individuals? As a married couple? What do we really cling to? What do we want to pass on to our children? What do we hold as important and utmost in our lives? The thing behind the thing behind the thing? What are the values and vision and world views that truly shape where we head as a family? What are the words we put towards the big questions of God, metaphysics, doctrine, discovery, and experience?

And this is just a starting place of the questions!

We’re calling the project Bellwether. It’s actually an old shepherding term. A bellwether is a sheep that is a little more aggressive, a little more obnoxious and hungry. (It’s known to get out of pens for food).

And so a bell is placed on it. This not only helps the shepherd know where the sheep is, but it also helps the sheep. As the bell wether wanders for greener pastures, the rest of the sheep follow to new fields of grass.

Betony and I are looking for bells to follow. We’re asking questions. We are hungry and we hope to find great fields this 2016.

We’ll be creating towards an end project to be released this fall/winter, but we plan to share the process as well. Each month Betony and I are choosing a theme that will be our centering of exploration and practice. We will dig in to this Bellwether theme to as the year progresses. January’s Bellwether theme is “clearing” – see our full exploration of that theme here tomorrow.