“Unconditional Joy” is the title of the workshop I presented at the NH Sate Council on the Arts this past weekend. At a lovely lakeside camp artists, teachers, administrators gathered for the 2013 Statewide Arts Education Conference. It has been MANY, far too many years since I have attended this conference, and darn it….I missed my peeps! Thanks to Catherine O’Brien and Frumie Selchen for keeping this annual gathering alive, and so vital to supporting the health of arts and education in the state of NH. In the workshop “Unconditional Joy” we explored what joy means to us, how we encourage and discourage joy in ourselves and others. With two paper weaving projects we explored community, personal stories and how to invite more joy into our lives. We closed our workshop with one of my favorite poems by Rumi: “After all these years, the sun never says to the earth “you owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that, it lights up the whole sky.” I attempt to live with this kind of love, this kind of joy. But like all humans, I am imperfect and get off course. In an attempt to strive towards a better understanding of this lesson of unconditional love and joy, I began a project this summer that is rooted in gratitude. Using small plastic screen flags that are usually found on lobster pot buoys, I am stitching an “Alphabet of Gratitude”. As each letter is completed, I have begun to spell words. I often travel with the letters and invite others to spell something. I’m continually amazed by the words that show up. I am stitching letter O right now, and am excited to see what words will grow from adding a new vowel! Paralleling this “Alphabet of Gratitude” work is a new community art project called “Love Letters”. Working with individuals or groups of all sizes I invite people to draw the first letter of something/someone they love. On the reverse side they fill in the blank: ____is for_____. As the letters accumulate, a word or string of words is formed. Look what sentence appeared at a recent arts festival in Newtown, CT! I am interested in traveling far and wide with this project. Please let me know if you are interested in inviting me to your community to raise up some “Love Letters”! And finally, please be sure to check out both my blogs: “Woven Voices:Messages from the Heart” and “Macomber Looms and Me”. Both blogs have more info and more photos about current projects.