Monday, November 24, 2014

It Has Been a Long Time







Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Life has been full of grief and gratitude, joy and the joy of challenges and some really hard work.We are getting ready to sell our home of 46 years and I'm looking forward to moving into a small cottage like place near the university. All this won't happen before this summer, so there's a long drum roll of activity until them and all sorts of opportunities to be courageous.

I have been loving Mary Oliver's new small book of poetic gems, "Blue Horses."
This poem stopped me.

If I Wanted a Boat

I would want a boat, if I wanted a
boat, that bounded hard on the waves,
that didn't know starboard from port
and wouldn't learn, that welcomed
dolphins and headed straight for the
whales, that, when rocks were close,
would slide in for a touch or two,
that wouldn't keep land in sight and
went fast, that leaped into the spray.
'What kind of life is it always to plan
and do, to promise and finish, to wish
for the near and the safe? Yes, by the
heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want
a boat I couldn't steer.

Baruch ata adonai...I say I love this poem, but what sings to me? Even for my new life I am planning and doing for the near and safe. Do I want a boat I couldn't steer, or do I merely want to want? And if what I want is what I say I want, then please help me go for it with joy and abandon knowing a safe  harbor is a good thing too. Amen

Monday, June 2, 2014

This is What is for Now


"Spiritual practice is about transformation, but it's also, and more importantly, about working with what is." Angel Kyodo Williams

In Memory of Suzanne
I won Suzanne at an art fair, won a lesson on bookmaking, won a friend who taught and supported me me and challenged me to believe in myself as much as she believed in me. She called herself The Paper Queen, she could do anything with paper, and she called me Bookie. Once following surgery, she brought me a a carton of papers that over the next few years and up to today is the basis of books, paintings, bookmarks and cards. Her patience with folding origami designs and little bitty books is legendary. The best way I can remember her is to to believe I have as much creative juice as she was sure I have. Suzanne was a loner, a person most comfortable in her studio which was actually her entire living space. I need a lot of alone time, but I'm most comfortable in the community of friends who know me. We clicked from the beginning. I'd reached out and she let me in. I am grateful.

This morning I made shrine for her: books she taught me to make, a thank you card made with one of her paste papers, a small book she made of green tea bag wrappers for my birthday, and I lit a candle.

In this time of ebb and flow, of the transition between life and death, of moving into my summer life in the mountains, of coming up to a very significant birthday, I've decided to pull back even more on blogging. Right now, I don't feel I have much to say, and I need to go back to more personal writing exercises and dig into myself. I want to be more personal than I feel I can be going to a wider audience through Facebook and online sites, and I want to blog only when I feel motivated. If you don't get me in your email box and you want to follow me, sign up to receive me through email. If you would like to stop seeing me in your email box, let me know. I thought you could unsubscribe by a simple click at the bottom, maybe you can, but I'm not seeing that. Let me know and I can do it from my end.

Thank you for reading me and thank you for your comments which always mean a great deal to me.

Baruch ata adonai...help me to be gentle and sweet with myself. Help me to let go with grace and gratitude. Amen











Monday, May 12, 2014

Welcoming Myself to This New Day


"Only a few things in life really matter, and those few things that do matter, matter immeasurably." Kent Kilbourne


In the past two weeks I've had three mini vacations away from home and at restaurants and theaters, at shops and hotels or private homes, I've been struck by the importance of how feeling welcome adds to my enjoyment of a show or a meal or conversation or even my perception of the hotel room before I get to it. This morning I'm thinking about the importance of welcoming myself to this day and how that can make the difference between me feeling energized and enthusiastic or slogging onward, because this morning I didn't welcome myself as an honored guest and then move on. First thing today I peeked into the Life Book 2014 lesson, felt overwhelmed, and right now I am trying hard to resist a downward spiral of not knowing what to do with myself of not wanting to take out art materials and start this new project.

So I start over. I do what I usually do each morning. I have a glass of hot lemon water and sit down to the computer for a five minute writing to learn what's on my mind in the most gentle way.  This  routine is important to me. I wake up, still more a part of my night than my day. This daily routine welcomes me gently, gives me time to enter quietly, time to smile at myself, time to say "hello dearie, I'm glad to see you again, how are you feeling, I'm glad you're here. Now please take a deep breath and just sit here for a few minutes." It makes such a difference to me. In those few minutes of restarting my day, of honoring myself with a decent welcome, of doing something immeasurably important to me, I've decided to delay the art project until later today or tomorrow and do something else I've been wanting to do: create very small works. And my world won't end if I don't do this week's class another day. Or not at all.

Last Monday after my water and writing and sitting and listening routine, I decided not to go to a yoga class but rather do it later in the week. I felt so liberated. Last Monday and Tuesday I was in a flow of activity and productivity I know I wouldn't have been if I hadn't taken a few minutes to allow my heart and body figure out what I needed to do rather than my head. I trust this part of me to know the way when my head is busy busting barriers and making too much noise. I've been actively trying not to try. You can click onto this link and read more about this here.  This link brings you to the brilliant brainpickings.com. Always interesting and thought provoking. It will seriously sidetrack you if you start your day here.

Baruch ata adonai....I am so grateful to be in this stage of my life when I have the time and presence to listen to myself, to be gentle with myself, to honor and welcome myself to this new day. Amen


Monday, May 5, 2014

The Good Girl/Good Woman Continuum

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very very good,
and when she was bad, she was horrid. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow





I love Monday morning. It's the day I get do write my blog for my heart and start a new Life Book 2014 project for my creative part which I can hardly wait to start. Monday is the day I set aside for myself. Just minutes ago I did a brief meditation and my good girl was in a big snit about needing to go to yoga and she was trying to shame the rest of me. You should go, she said, you've got to go, she added, how can you do the rest of what you want to do if you fail to take care of your body? She has no middle ground. She can make life so unpleasant for me. I'm not sure it's a place of good intentions she's speaking from. She reminds me of a teeny tiny mother, a little girl who doesn't know how to mother at all, but who has all the words and the idea that she knows perfectly well what's right and wrong and what I should should should do. She can be one bitchy piece of certitude.

While I was doing the meditation, my little lady above, the one with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead, tapped me on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. Though she is very strong in her sense of joy and delight in life, she's a bit afraid of the good girl. I never doubt her intentions for me are right on. Not like that good girl who is so prissy. She told me I can really go to yoga on  Wednesday, which I always do, and on Thursday which I never do. And, she said, she's sure I would love one of the Thursday morning classes. So I sit here in my bathrobe smiling. I may stay in my bathrobe for a good long time this morning, right up until the time I get into my paint clothes. I may not even wash my face or brush my teeth. I am feeling so good. My good girl is in retreat.

I've been drawing little ladies for a long time. I've always thought they represent the best part of me. They are joyful, fun and undemanding. They just have a good time. After watching the delight of my four year old granddaughter as she celebrated her birthday this weekend, I think my little ladies are four at heart.

So here I am. Not going to yoga. Getting to do art. And write. And read the newspaper. And feel very very good about myself. I'm not punishing myself by making myself do something I don't want to do this morning and I've found a way to take care of my body on Thursday. That little lady is a very good woman!

I've been thinking and talking a lot the past week about the good girl/good woman continuum. The good girl is drilled into us from the earliest times. With nursery rhymes even. I remember there was a little girl who had a little curl being said to me when I was very young and knowing with all of my little girl heart they only said it when I was being a bad girl in their eyes. The little girl doesn't have it all wrong, though her delivery stinks. Every good woman knows the good girl still lives in side her, only now, she lets her know she can't be in charge unless she's inclined to be a fun loving joyful even devilish little lady.

Baruch ata adonai.... this morning, I am a good woman, a woman who knows what's really important for me this day, a woman who helps me make a way to do what I need to do to feel good and strong and able to lift my heart and to feel and hear the goodness of this day becoming known to me.  Amen

Monday, April 21, 2014

Living with Diminshed Urgency

Only a few things in life really matter, and those few things that do matter, matter immeasurably. Kent Kilbourne

"I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise."
Dawna Markova




Most of last week I spent doing stuff that was important at the moment but not what recharges and refreshes me.  For a few days I was on a tight time table to get things done and there was a price I didn't count on paying. My five minute first-thing-in-the morning writings were superficial and unsatisfying. There was no time to write my blog which often helps me know who I am that day. My sleep was worse than usual, there was no time to do art and these are the things that matter immeasurably to me.  At this point in my life, I've completed most of my life tasks and now I live in a way I haven't before: meandering rather than being purpose driven. I can't go back. Through writing and playing with colors and media I've learned to open myself to myself. I am continually grateful I have the luxury of diminished urgency.

Finally on Friday, I did something that really mattered. I got to be Nana. I picked up Charlie after school and  and we went to the arcade, to the bookstore, to the yogurt shop, found a small outpost of San Francisco's Exploratorium where we explored magnets and iron filings and how each ear functions separately from the other depending on the input. He's close to seven and holding hands when we cross the street isn't what he wants to do, so we held fingers. Each time we crossed we figured out how to make different fingers hold on to each other. The next day I watched my almost nine year old granddaughter become a fearless soccer goalie and immersed myself in appreciation of my other granddaughter as she navigated playground equipment both fearlessly and with an awareness of what is safe for her four year old self to do and what isn't.

Today I when I woke up I wrote and painted and went for a walk with a friend. I enjoyed some homemade soup for lunch. I took a shower around noon and went out to do some errands. Today I put a spell on myself and did only things that satisfy and refresh me. If you could see me now, you would see me pounding my chest and dancing up and down. Well, not actually. I'd like to see myself doing that too.

I think these pictures I completed yesterday afternoon reflect a letting go of too much busyness.




Baruch ata adonai....Help me to remember what is important to me and what isn't. Help me to tell myself and others I can't do some things even if I want to because it isn't good for me. May I have the courage to be attentive to the steps I take. Amen



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hope and Capability



Today I honor fusion and confusion
beginning again
trusting what has passed.

Today I honor hope and capability,
embrace forward movement.
I'm only on the five thousandth try
with five more to go.

Today I honor brokenness 
and tolerance of change
as just another
life variation
not a road block
not a rude heave ho
off the path.

Today I honor wearing myself out
before I remember to stay
in the here and now.
I balance hope and
my current capabilities,
my life in this
present moment. 

I am a month and six days into my morning five minute writing challenge. Now I'm not skipping any days because I forget to write. Now I feel incomplete if I don't sit down first thing in the morning and begin the day with finding out who I am before the day shaped by the calendar or art challenges convinces me I'm someone else. I've been writing for years. I've done this before. I hope I don't stop this time.

Do you know "The Humans of New York" blog? Brandon Stanton spoke in my home town last week and reminded me yet again that it takes a lot of work to be as good as your ambitions. And he's only 30. And darling. And his book is a best seller. And he's been at it for four years. And in those four years he went from not owning a camera to taking pictures every waking moment to the point he has taken hundreds of thousands photos and humbled himself and worked along until he honed his craft to wonderful captures of life. 

Baruch ata adonai...I am aware I am not hard on myself now as I paint or draw or challenge myself to use new art materials. Sometimes my work disappoints me, but I'm aware that I've done the best I can do at the time, and that everyone goes through this crablike progression of moving onward while seeming to stagger backwards and lurch sideways as long as they continue taking one step after another. I do not doubt the rest of me is watching my progress to see if I can make it work in other parts of my life. Thank you for being with me on this journey. Amen









Monday, March 31, 2014

Upon Awakening




Upon Awakening

Listen
this spring morning
to dew drops
sunshine
blossoms opening
noise on the freeway.

Listen
for back stories
echoes of relationships
loops between words
how I'm changed
by friendships

It takes a little while
when I awake
to invite myself to this
new day
to reassign labels
I gave myself yesterday.

I'm feeling a bit anxious...
breathe, stretch
say good morning
wait for the dance to begin
trust my muscles
know the steps.

I haven't written poetry for a long time. This is the fruit of one of my early morning five minute writings...not born exactly this way, but the framework was there when I wrote intuitively without an idea of where I was headed. Several times lately, when I've realized I can't get places with my thinking brain, I've found my way when I trusted my muscle memory, built over time, to get me there. It's such an interesting experience.

Baruch ata adonai...The past two weeks I've burst with creative energy or felt dry dry dry, and I've been acutely aware they are only cycles. If I wait, I will bloom and I will fade. I'll feel indolent and then suddenly awake with possibilities. I ebb and flow with inner tides. Now I know I am at peace.  Amen