Friday, July 31, 2009

Found My Voice

It was quite a shock when I discovered my affinity for shameless shower singing. I was in college, in the grand ole University of Georgia's Church Hall. There was something about the combination of new friends, uncovered confidence and bathroom acoustics that inspired my premier belt out.

I don't remember the day, I can't recall the melody, but as soon the first note flowed, I couldn't put a cork in it. It was simply the result of my towel wrap/shower flops/caddy experience. For a girl that was painfully shy in high school....For a girl that didn't talk to boys until she was well into her late teens... For a girl that had a hard time speaking up in history class without turning beet red.... Yes, it was a new tune.

While I have not the voice of the angel that often fill my earbuds, I sing. In the kitchen, as I'm dressing, when I'm home alone. I sing not because I have an audience-worthy voice. (I hold fast to the belief that I have not a musical bone in my body. My prodigy-pianist sister got my portion of talent.)

Don't get me wrong. I don't sing because I sound good. I sing because it is an outpouring. Because sometimes a girl's cup just overfloweth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And We've Come Full Circle

Conversation has a way of winding itself back around to beginnings. If you're anything like me, you get unparalleled satisfaction from such a sweetly bow-tied wrap up. What has been will be again. There's comfort in the cyclical motion of time.

A friend of mine jokes that when our musings land us on an already-visited topic, it's simply time to conclude the conversation with a "...And, we've come full circle," before putting the cap on it and moving on. 

We come back around, we tie things together, we put the stitches in the tapestry that binds life's disconnected pieces. 

My life has certainly seen a great deal of this turning back. When I left the coffee-soaked air of a favorite coffee shop in Athens, I moved on with a slightly-sad readiness to begin my "career." Now, I'm back behind the counter of a beloved coffee shop/fine eatery, and am loving the irony of this career move. What a treat it is to return to a place that combines my love for the community with my taste for quality espresso. Now, I've just got the experience of two years in the real hard-knocks world to round me out.

I'm endlessly fixed on the idea of gazing backwards as I move forwards. I revel in the thought that I am still who I was. That little girl with big dreams is me. I'm still here. Same interests, but with a different outlook. Same ideas, but with a bigger dose of courage. 

I cannot believe how thoroughly my childish interests have surfaced in my (dare I say?) adult life. "Cory's Story" magazine rebirthed in the pages of skirt!. Homemade menus and kitchen to table service for my sister's friends has turned into restaurant reality. "Cory and Co." hand-done cards are now the work of my Four Hats Press. (More to come with this I hope!)

I've come around again. And, I couldn't be gladder.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kindle My Heart

kin·dle (kndl)
1.a. To build or fuel (a fire).
   b. To set fire to; ignite.
2. To cause to glow; light up: 
3. To arouse (an emotion, for example) 
1. To catch fire; burst into flame.
2. To become bright; glow.
3. To become inflamed.
4. To be stirred up; rise.

There's just something about Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess that gets me every time. It could be the infectious imagination that it's main character has and shares with everyone she meets. It could be noncircumstancial hope that she will again see her father, even though he's gone off to fight in a horrible and dangerous war. But, mostly, I think it's the way that she treasures him, even when he's away. In the 1995 film version, my favorite scene shows Sara sitting on his lap, sniffing his lapel and tracing his clothing with her fingertips. When he asks her what she's doing, she says that she's learning him by heart. 

That resounds with me. 

Like Sara, I too hope to sit with my true Father, to know him and learn him by heart. My prayer is the same as the one below: To know that He is the one who kindles my heart. Real love cannot be awakened within me if He himself does not awaken it.

As the moon kindles the night 
As the wind kindles the fire 
As the rain fills every ocean 
And the Sun the Earth 
So your heart will kindle my heart 

Take my heart 
Take my heart 
Kindle it with your heart 
And my heart cannot be 
Kindled without you 
Your heart will kindle my heart

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Today's Wisdom

(I have my eye on this here print. Read more about its artist here)

I'm not the only one hot on the trail of our state's letterpressers. I stumbled upon this fellow, Jim Fahy, and his interview with Amos Kennedy of Gordo, AL. Read up, watch the video and enjoy the spunk of this South Alabama character.

He says:

I don’t work. I live. I live everyday. And part of the living is interacting with this space. And that’s what I do. When you work…Work and employment I equate as being the same. But when you live, that’s just what you do. This production does not take away from my enjoyment of life. A lot of times people use work to indicate the use of physical labor for an output…as physics. Both of those things are done at the beck and call of someone else. I consider what I do more living because I interact with this space and things come out of it. I learn something every day. If you’re doing what you wanna do that ain’t work that’s life. Everybody should have a life not a job.

H yeah. I think I might pay ole Kennedy a visit myself 'fore too long.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pass it On

There are several reasons why I still occasionally mourn the loss of my editorial position at skirt!. I miss the advance copies of books, I miss the freebies to events, I miss the nation-wide community of staff. But, more than any of that, I miss the platform to talk about THINGS THAT MATTER.

During my year and a half in the job, I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of men and women with heart-breaking, joyous, inspiring tales to share.

I got to listen.
I got to learn.
I got to tell their stories.

I do, however, realize that doesn't necessarily have to cease. And thus, I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you about four charity events set to take place here in Birmingham in the coming weeks. I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with advocates of each group, and can say with full heart, these people are bravely speaking up for those that can't.

1. Birmingham Bombshells presents "A Picture of Health" on July 30th at the Redmont Hotel. (Click to enlarge graphic and read more event details.) This action-packed event will feature the oh-so-talented Angela Karen and her vintage pin-up photography. The cost of the ticket covers you for a swanky time on the Redmont Rooftop, complete with drinks, food, music and a photo session. Proceeds of the event go to benefit our local Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

2. Bedouins International presents a "Banquala" on August 1st at 6:30pm at Woodrow Hall. This group of firecrackers travel the world to document and communicate stories of those suffering silent. The Bedouins use high-quality media to create the tools to spread the word to those that can do something to help. When founder, Stephen DeVries, is not shooting extravagantly beautiful weddings, he's out and about advocating for the vision of this 501c3 that uses photography, video and music to speak volumes! I'm so grateful to have had the chance to work with Stephen at skirt! He's a real talent. But more so than that, he's got a BIG vision. Don't miss this event. More info here

3. The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) presents Alma Latina on August 13th at The Rare Martini in Lakeview. The event, taking place from 6-9pm, will feature a tequila tasting, salsa dance lessons and performances by Dancing with the Stars' Fabian Sanchez and a silent auction. Ole! The event celebrates HICA's tenth year as a statewide nonprofit that seeks to assist Latin immigrants gain access to healthcare, education, legal counsel and/or a place in our community. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit his

3. She Dances presents "Art Brings Hope" on September 25th at the Matt Jones Gallery, beginning at 6:3opm. Just a few weeks ago, I had the immense pleasure of visiting with Nedra, co-conspirator of this local nonprofit that seeks to bring awareness and assistance to domestic and international human trafficking. I was greatly looking forward to featuring her husband, (and founder of the organization), Jeremy Springer. Since I likely won't have the chance, allow me to say a few words about his vision. While living in California, Alabama-native, Jeremy had the chance to face the reality of injustice when he saw a young woman burst forth in dance on the street. After he learned that she had been a sex trade victim, he conjured the dream for She Dances with the aim to liberate other young women and girls up to dance in freedom. Read more about it here. Tickets ($50/ea) can be purchased online after July 28th or at the door. 

Please do read up on these noteworthy organizations and the courageous folks who head them up. There is redemption among us. Let's be a part of it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Letting My Grip Be Loose and My Words Be Few

I drove to Tuscaloosa yesterday--- just a leg in the journey towards learning all things letterpress. The director of the Book Arts program was kind enough to chew the fat with me over coffee, to give me a thorough tour of the classroom and equipment and to introduce me to students past and present. He showed me some incredible work completed as part of the program: one-of-a-kind pieces that marry together a diverse set of interests and talents. That's what Book Arts is all about. It's about converging interest in words, story, design and craftmanship. It's as hands on as you want to be in the process of writing, making paper, pressing each page, creating cover art work and book binding. It's the start-to-end process of having an idea and flushing it out. Oh, what a fine art it is!

In my palm above is pictured a lump of blue jean fibers, ready for its next step of the papermaking process. 

I hold it loosely. 

The theme of my recent days has been to do just that. I've been chasing down experts in the printing field for months. Making calls, reading forums, visiting with those that know and are willing to share. I've been here, there and everywhere on the search for my own entree in to the art. And while I'm on the hot pursuit of knowledge and experience, I do it all with some trepidation. 

I read this in my journal, as written just a few weeks ago:

The letterpress idea is still jazzing me up, though I'm confronted with my inadequacies every time I try to design something. I'm such a dive-in, learn-later kind of girl. But, I desperately long to be careful, more fastidious, more thoughtful on the front end. I want to learn how to do this the right way. Proverbs 19:2 says, "Desire without knowledge is not good. How much more will hasty feet miss the way!"

So, I am learning patience. I am thankful for the rungs of the ladder that have allowed me to make the climb to this point. I have built a castle in the sky. Now, I pray for the tools I need to build the staircase up to it. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Begin Again

Every moment is today.
For me.
For you.
 Fly fancy free.
Each moment is permission.
To reinvent.
To leap.
To go. 
To reach down deep 
into your pocket,
and hold your ambitions
in the palm
of your hands.

(Illustration courtesy of Penelope Dullaghan. She's my *favorite* illustrator. See more here.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Uncultured Palate

As promised, The New Wine Drinker's take on two fine wines...

I'm not going to feign a pretentious wine-o review. I know little to nothing about the stuff, save that I took my first real taste of it during church communion just two years ago. Yes, I have memory of going towards the cup, fully expecting grape juice. What resulted was a mouthful of a much spiky-er substance that left me shocked and chin-dribbling all the way back to my chair.

Despite my inexperience, I will hereby attempt to give an honest-to-goodness statement about the following two Argentine wines. If nothing else, you may get a laugh from the alcoholic education of Cory Bordonaro. 

Picture this.... gathered round the table with brie, crusty bread, jazz music, wine and friends. If you're going to do it, do it right, no?

1. Bodega Uno Malbec/Bonarda Blend (2008)

This wine is a 60% Malbec, 40% Bonarda blend. The latter is derived from Italian grapes, whereas the first is French in origin. I learned that a wine that combines more than one type of wine is called a blend, rather than a varietal. I also read up on tannins -- those components of a wine that cause the dry, puckery feeling. There were definitely some of those boogers in this full-bodied blend. 

As instructed by my more-knowledgeable counterpart, Ryan, I first took in a noseful of the wine. The first sip was a swirl/smell/swallow combination, followed by a slower, more aerated slurppy sip. 

Ryan's conclusion: "Sweet entry, mellow delivery, not real bitter." 
My conclusion: "Hm....a smidge sweet, pretty mild. Hey, Mickey, he likes it!"

2. Parados Malbec (2008)

This wine was described by as rich with "wild berries and black currant." To be quite frank, I didn't get that. Call my palate uncultured, if you must. Because this wine is varietal, it had a stronger denser taste. 

Ryan's conclusion: "Initial buttery texture, smoky in the back of my throat, grapey finish."
My conclusion: "If the Malbec/Bonarda is the cashmere of wines, this Parados Malbec is the wool sweater." 

Cheers, and may you soon have the chance to enjoy your own slow sip of Argentine wine with friends!

Learn to Like Wine in '09

You've heard me drone on about my rhyming yearly mottos. Yes, I've made mention of the plan to "Get a Date in '08." Did I do what I set out to do? In so many words... sure. I like to let my 'yes' be 'yes' .... or at least my 'yes' be 'uh, yeah, sure.' 

So, I've said a few words about this year's ambition to "Design in '09." Things are coming along right nicely with this dream, as detailed on this here blogspot o mine.

Have you heard me mention, however, my latent desire* to "Learn to Like Wine in '09?" If not, you heard it here now. My curiosity has been fermenting. It's time for a taste!

My first foray will be into the realm of Argentine wine. As a novice (and a die-hard lover of flavorful adjectives), I choose to take my first sips of these dark red wines simply on account of them being described by some as "rick, dark and juicy." I plan to begin my investigation with a little Malbec, which I read here, is the "backbone of the Argentine wine industry."

In my research (a la Wikipedia, a self-affirmed valuable information resource), I found that Argentina is the world's 5th largest leading wine producer. Though it had a history of focusing on quantity rather than quality, the tides have somewhat recently been changing due to increase in exportation. Before the 90's rolled around, Argentines consumed 90% of the wine that they produced. Nowadays, there is a lot more sharing, and for that reason, the quality has improved by leaps and bounds. Because the vineyards down there aren't susceptible to a lot of the bugs and fungi that affect other areas, Argentina is able to cultivate grapes without (or with small amounts of) pesticides. And you know what that means....Organic wines!

Alright, enough talk, right? Tonight, dear reader, I'll uncork two varieties and record my honest-to-goodness-I-don't-know-a-darn-thing-about-this opinions here. Check back for a full report.

*Due to unforeseeable circumstances, the skirt! sponsored wine tasting scheduled for tonight was, in fact, cancelled. My sincerest apologies to any who were planning to attend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finding My Resolve

She's not just some precious lady in a cute dress. She's a woman with a mission to accomplish and a statement to make. She is the one behind The Uniform Project -- a year long commitment to dress up news about a worthy charitable cause. For 365 days, she has devoted herself to wearing the same dress, jazzing it up with different homemade accessories. In doing so, she hopes to make a fashion statement about sustainable wardrobes, about creativity and about education in India.

For me, a girl who lived and died by the six-week-no-repeat-policy, this is quite revolutionary. But, I love the philosophy of her day-to-day creative process. Check out the gallery of outfits this girl has rocked since she began in May. I venture to say,  we all might be a bit more inventive with our looks if our choices were likewise limited.  

All that to say, I admire her sense of style.
I admire her heart for children. 
I admire her artful take on life.
But, more than anything, I admire her stick-to-it-ness.

It's been half a year since I spilled this guilty confession about my own lack of resolve. Hitherto that time, I was a spouter-off of ideas with little drive to see them to completion. That was then. This is now. 

I'm a changed woman, I tell you. 

Thanks to this guy, who says: 

Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something, 

I'm encouraged. I may have the ideas, but He supplies the ambition. That's good news. I'm also reminded of the wise words of Mr. Longfellow, who advises both to "labor and to wait." It pays to revisit the promises of my past, the products of other's resolutions, the sage words of those that have come before me and the truth that is unchanging. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Glad Game

Things to be glad about on this rainy Monday morning:

This "learning to live with less" journal by Mary Carlomagno. It's an apropos guide for encouraging my own "diet of stuff."

Window-sill Farmer's Market peaches.

Unexpected flowers.

A tidy workspace.

Surprise cupcakes.

Yes, it's set to be a prosperous and successful week. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

1001 Journals

I'd been awaiting the Netflix arrival of 1000 Journals for months... When it came in all its red-enveloped glory a couple of nights ago, I could hardly contain my delight.

The story tracks one man on his experiment of sending 1000 blank journals out into the world. He marked each book with instructions to fill the pages, register it on the website for tracking purposes and pass it along. Over several years, each book traversed the map, spending time in the hands of an extremely diverse group of artists, poets, people. 

They didn't all make it back to their originator. But the ones that did contained such dynamic and heartbreaking stories of honest human life. The pages created community between disconnected souls. 

Break me off a piece of that! 

I clicked over to and signed up to take part in the spin-off project. Here's hoping that I can get my own hands on one of these beautiful collections to leave a smudge of my own life in the beautiful mess.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Flesh on the Bones of My Dreams

It's deep cleaning day. It's go-over-to-that-huge-pile-of-shasta-in-the-corner-and-deal-with-it day. I'm purging, I'm filing, I'm (for the first time), facing the fact that the job I've known for the past year and a half could well be a memory. 

I just put the top on a box that contained each of the 14 issues that I penned into print. I just closed up the folder containing the letter I received on January 22, 2008, welcoming me to the team. I'm hanging up the skirts that several lucky men have donned. 

It was a good ride, but I'm up for whatever's next. Anne Lamott says that "courage is fear that has said its prayers." 

I'll be on my knees before I'll be on my feet. Surely soon after, I'll be ready to lift off with something new, ready to put flesh on the bones of new dreams.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Prayer for the Journey

O Christ, do not give me tasks to equal my powers,
but give me powers to equal my tasks,
for I want to be stretched by doing things too great for me.
I want to grow through the greatness of my tasks, 
but I shall need your help for the growing.
-E.Stanley Jones

I would be lying to tell you I've slept soundly the last few nights. Each morning (despite the hour I've retired), I've woken early with loud and speeding thoughts. My eyes have opened, refusing to close back and allow for my mind to hit the snooze. It's never worked that way for me. I'm still the girl who would stay up for hours at night, thinking about space and my place in an unfathomable universe. My thoughts....those buggers have always had the power to overcome my rest.

But, mark my words. I will rise each morning when those thoughts come knocking at my slumber. I will go straight into His presence. You heard it here. I will not let worry or anxiety drive my next steps. I will brew my morning cup, I will find my seat in the sunroom, I will open up the Good Book and let His honey pour out over my hungry heart. 

I will pray to not be in a hurry to leave his presence. I will pray to let my mind's workings cease, and let His Words speak. For this is the most productive thing I can do. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Serenity Now

The Lord is my pace setter...I shall not rush
He makes me stop for quiet intervals
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility
My cup of joyous energy overflows
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house forever. 
(A version of the Twenty-Third Psalm from Japan)

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Great Perhaps

It's definitely crossed my mind over the past few months, as my industry has seen enough casualties to rival the Civil War. I always knew that nothing was guaranteed for me. And, yesterday, at 9am, it came to a head, and I received the news that our office was being shut down. It didn't come as a complete shock. I've been thinking of, praying about, preparing for this for a while now. 

While I don't know what's ahead for me, I wholeheartedly trust the Lord. 

The wonderful thing is that He has been planting dreaming seeds in me for a long time. I have ideas, I have desires. I have courage and friends who support and encourage me to take hold of this extravagant life to which I'm being beckoned. I trust the Lord. I will be fine.

No, I take that back. I will be better. 

I covet your prayers. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just Fine Being Refined

These words from Martha Zimmerman (of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World) were a needed reminder this morning: 

"The diamond ring I wear on my left hand didn't just happen. Before John and I picked it out of the jeweler's window, someone mounted it in a setting of gold. Before that, someone else saw promise in a lumpy, milky stone and chiseled facets to release the beauty locked inside. Before that, a worker found that rock deep inside a mountain. And multimillennia before that moment, a trillion pounds of rock, pressure, and steam worked together to compress ordinary carbon into a shape and substance we call a diamond. 

It takes a process to get a product." 

The same is true for us, as believers, as human beings. Let us rest in knowing that we are not being left alone to wander through this world. The craftsman hand of our Maker is close by, guiding and rebuking us into purity.

Several years ago, I worked at a little camp in the mountains of North Carolina. I learned from everyone and everything... jewelry class not excluded. 

The metal working class was one of my wisest instructors. Each piece of jewelry that campers painstakingly created was pounded out from metal before being tossed into a bucket of sharp objects. The bucket was plugged then in and jarred, allowing for the sharp objects to rub away at the metal's imperfections. It was a loud, messy ordeal. There was a wait before each creator was reunited with its creation.

It's the same for you and me. We are the jewelry, this life the bucket of sharp objects. We are the impure, the bucket is our process. We are the work of someone's hands, He is our sanctification.