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  • OWY's Limitless Project: Shannon (Leigh) Thomas

    It's strange to be introducing myself in the context of this project where I've been introducing everyone else, but here goes...  I'm generally a creative person.  A lot of my creativity these days is spent running OWY - my partner Brian oversees the operation and the more analytical aspects of the business while I manage the marketing, outreach and creative direction.  I love being able to use my creativity in my work, but it is not enough.  I am also artistic and crafty in a variety of ways (drawing, beading, fiber arts) and for the past few years I've settled back down with my first love: Poetry.  Opposite of what I write for this blog, most of the poetry I write is totally for me.  I vigilantly notice and self correct if I catch myself trying to impress, be clever or get noticed.  I don't write for others.  This allows writing poetry to be part of the relationship I'm having with myself and the world around me; it's a conversation - literally how I make sense of things, and come to understand what I know and think about myelf, others, the world, the body I inhabit, and the life I am living.  The personal value this work has for me is limitless!

    Like Mallory's work, mine is very strongly influenced by yoga.  More specifically my poetry is often rooted not in yoga itself but in exploring and understanding having a body/being in a body - understanding that develops as a result of a yoga practice.  I am strongly interested in the cross-over between spirituality, social justice and being alive -- my poetry often straddles these concepts.  I also write short little meaning driven poems that I share on Instagram (@vitalwild), I am intersperseing a few of these IG poems between a selection of deeper work.                    -Shannon Leigh

    Pledge of Allegiance 

    I do not pledge allegiance to the bottom line 
    of the Corporate State of America,
    or to the laws of a nation
    upon which corporate rights stand:
    By law--Always grow, 
    human needs invisible,
    with grotesque abundance 
    and freedom from consequence 
    for the One Percent.

    I pledge allegiance to wholeness of self 
    and the spanning everything I Am,
    and to the Earth,
    to which I belong:
    One Being, within god,
    with liberty and justice
    for all in me.

    "Pledge of Allegiance" is one of those very rare poems (for me) that came to me in its entirity out of nowhere, like it downloaded into my brain from the universe.


    on top of a waterfall--
    bright blue algae, warm smooth stone--
    I slip.  Going down for sure —
    I become body without bones,
    and slide like water over the fall.

    In the shallow pool at the bottom:  
    A miracle.  99.9% unhurt,
    I nurse a tiny cut.  My chin
    gave in to a sharp edge
    flowing over the top shelf.

    I look up in a mirror
    and remember the hidden scar.
    Each time, for a moment
    I’m water.

    Hours deep in the mountains— Red rock.
    Ancient Utah sun and blue--
    Warm mineral water from the hot spring
    tumbles over a ledge and pools.

    "Surrender" is one of my most recent poems.  One of the personal themes of my summer has been surrender.  I'm not doing very well with embodying surrender, but this poem came out of considering the moments in my life when I have truly surrendered.  Turns out, as this poem shows, things often go better when I find surender.

    6:00 PM, July 7 and July 21  

    Sirens came earlier, now 
    helicopters weave a pattern
    searching for the body
    (or the person)
    still unnamed.

    Lakefront-neighborhood close
    the news moves fast,
    even as we’re pushed back
    from access to the lake.

    We wait--
    everyone does --
    to hear.

    Local lore -- we know 
    the wait will end.
    Within days,
    if no person is found
    a body will float.

    At our house we sit 
    and eat -- summer grill.
    Silent thanks:
    We’re all at the table.

    Helicopter blades 
    thump back around.

    We talk in low voices,
    we remember our dreams.

    For most of you who live local, "6:00 PM July 7 & 21" needs no introduction, it came out of feeling the quiet that settled over our lakefront neighborhood on these tragic evenings this summer.  For those of you who don't live locally, both of these missing persons drowned at our local beach when they got caught in structural currents off the pier during a strong ENE wind.  
    Plants Teach Posture 
    (Among other things)

    ki: animate it.  as in: Look at that flower.  Ki is radiant. 
    kin: animate plural it.  as in:  Look at those flowers.  Kin are radiant.
    as defined by Robin Wall Kimmerer

    Bloodroot shows me 
    how to pull my shoulders back, 
    shine from the heart out and hold.
    At first, I don’t know kin is teaching me 
    how to be in my body.

    Then the Sunflowers start.
    Before the weight of their fertility
    pulls them to face gravity,
    they lift their chins to the sun.
    I imitate and align. 
    Truth in my physical structure:
    My spine, a stem assuming posture.

    I start looking everywhere:
    Who else has something to say?
    I stop learning their names 
    and start observing their ways 
    how they stand and where they grow,
    what they do and what they know.

    Bee Balm, long friend, Monarda Fistulosa,
    Breathe spicy red-violet and take a look closer.
    Sink to the center where your feet meet ground.
    Radiate up and out, as if you wear a crown.

    Imitate.  Align to arrow-like spine.
    I reach out of the tall grass. 
    I grow toward divine.

    I love plants and this poem came out of a shift in my thinking.  I've always been sort of a "learning naturalist", with nature journals and plant id books, etc.  This way of looking was interesting, but ultimately too objective.  Around the time I was having the realization I describe in this poem, I started to feel the plants as beings and recognize them as individuals.  I started to understand "plant language" which came out of and applied back to my understanding of body.  

    Spring Green 
    seeps up from the ground first.
    Green grass, growing up past
    last year’s brown.
    Willow leaves from pussy willows,
    silky grey to vital yellow,
    verdant undergrowth between.
    At last, sap sucked up to the tips by sun
    swells, and the forest top flares green.

    Sap rises same as this in me.

    "Spring Green" doesn't really feel relevant to this time of year, but I wanted to share it for local interest.  It won 3rd prize in the Huron Library poetry competition this past spring!

    Shannon's OWY Schedule

    9:0 - 10:15 AM  Inner Core  (Huron)
    10:30 - 11:15 Gentle Yoga (Huron)
    4:30 - 5:45 Inner Core (Sandusky)
    10:00 - 11:15 AM  Yoga Flow (Sandusky) 
    9:00 - 10:15 PM  Yoga Flow (Huron)

    Other Limitless Project Posts:
    Keelie Suzann - Painting/drawing
    Brian Henderson - Painting/drawing
    Larry Smith - Poetry
    Kara Myers - Painting/drawing
    Patricia Hecker - Stained Glass
    Mallory Saunders - Painging / Collage / Beads
    Erin Percy - Photography
    Andrea Petersen - Fiber Arts