Monday, June 28, 2010

Lost

Louise at Recover Your Joy talks this morning about being lost in the woods and it reminds me of David Wagoner's powerful poem "Lost" from the book "Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems" 
published by the University of Illinois Press in 1999.

A week ago I set off on my journey to pick up Missy.  It was a journey back to roots, to a place where I was lost.  And, as sometimes happens when one has lost their bearings, I had a mishap.  Fortunately a minor mishap that was put right by a mechanic's expertise, a transfer of dollars and insurance data.  Soon I was winding my way back to where the forest could find me again. I'm already starting to feel "found."

Lost
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reunion

Meet Missy.  She reminded me to "never say never."  She came into my life because my "almost mom" wanted a toy poodle.  I thought they were frou-frou dogs and I had no expectation of even liking the dog, let alone falling head over heels for her.  I know people are always highly biased about their dogs and children, but Missy truly is the sweetest, funniest, smartest dog I've ever met. 

When I left Arkansas, I thought I was saying good bye to her forever.  But, life changes and tomorrow I'm on my way to Tulsa to pick her up.  So, for the next week I'll be driving across country, changing life once again.  I'll keep you posted on the MIssy chronicles.

About the photo:  Missy is a really good dog ... but give her a stuffed toy and she focuses obsessively on its destruction.  Record time:  8.5 minutes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gratitude Sunday: Water Blessing

"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude." -Friedrich Nietzsche 

I try to live in gratitude but have decided to dedicate Sunday's blog post to acknowledging a new gratitude, some new gift that has come my way.

Maureen at Writing without Paper is one of the most eclectic and prolific "finders" I've ever met.  She is constantly introducing her readers to new artists, poets, musicians and people who are changing the world.  This week she introduced me to Annette Cantor and I fell in love with her music and angelic voice.

Cantor is offering a free Water Blessing at her website:  http://www.annettesings.com/music.html.  What a beautiful way to remind ourselves of our gratitude for one of our most precious gifts.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

See Food; Eat It

Thoughts prompted by the Awareness Jar:  Tuesday I was feeling powerful and centered.  On the way to my weekly mosaic class, I glanced over at the banana that was part of my lunch for the day.  It was just laying there on the car seat but I had a sudden impulse to eat it right then, while I was driving, even though I had just eaten cereal with a banana.  I was not hungry and hadn't thought about eating until I saw the banana.  Now I wonder what triggers those impulses which I call:  see food; eat it.

I am reading Geneen Roth's "Women Food and God, An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything" and thinking about food as a symbol for something I want, something I've always wanted but didn't get and don't know how to get but keep trying to get through food.  Food is the most interesting addiction since we can't "just say no."  We have to eat.  Our body gets hungry and wants food.  But when we eat outside that hunger it's symbolic and has come to symbolize a myriad of things ... most of our social activities involve some sort of sharing of food.  But, beyond physical hunger and social rituals, there is a type of "shadow eating" that tries to fill a space we can't see and don't understand.

 I got caught up in the mosaic class and didn't think about the banana impulse again until it was time for lunch.  I ate mine and was fine but some of the other women brought snacks to share and I found myself eating pretzels and peanuts ... which were great, of course, but I wasn't hungry and I wasn't eating with any awareness.  Some of it was the social thing but even more it was just seeing food and eating it in an autonomic response mode.  After all, I might never get peanuts and pretzels again. Why does this happen?

Obviously something in my past told me that if I didn't eat something as soon as it showed up, I might not get any later.  Something says "grab it before it gets away."  And, it's obviously not just be about food ... it probably includes love, friendship, and physical stuff.  I've often made decisions based on the assumption that if I didn't decide right this instant, the whatever-it-was would be gone.  As I write this I can actually feel the anxiety of losing out on something I want, not getting the shiny object calling to me, never again having the chance to have it.

It could be genetic going back to the days when people had to eat whatever they found whenever they found it.  But, some how, I think it's probably based on more current beliefs.  Most of our deep-seated beliefs are instilled in us by our parents, our circumstances and the other adults around us before we reach the age of consciousness (somewhere between 4 and 6).  In some ways, we are two people ... that inner self that is actually a reflection of those adult voices ... and the self we develop consciously as we grow and mature.  No matter how mature we become, we are always dealing with that subconscious inner self ... what many call the ego.  Because those beliefs formed before we had consciousness and often even language, it's very difficult to recognize them and even harder to change them.

However, it really doesn't even matter how these beliefs got into my psyche;  I can look at them now (in a moment of awareness) and realize how false they are.  I have access to an unending supply of wonderful things to eat.  If I don't eat something today, it will be available tomorrow.  And, the Universe is abundant in its offerings.  If I miss out on something today, something else, perhaps even better will show up tomorrow.  And, if it's about love, I can offer myself the unconditional love and support that I might have missed in my early life.

Intellectually I know that but obviously some part of me still operates on a three-year old level of fear, abandonment and lack.  Roth says that awareness is the key and states:
"With awareness (the ability to know what you are feeling) and presence (the ability to inhabit a feeling while sensing that which is bigger than the feeling), it is possible to be with what you believe will destroy you without being destroyed."  She goes on to say, "All any feeling wants is to be welcomed with tenderness.  It wants room to unfold.  It wants to relax and tell its story.
So, tell me a story.  I'm listening.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Awareness Jar

I am 64, have an MBA and ran my own business for several years.  I've published 5 books, been happily married and maintained deep, long-term friendships.  On paper I'm a normal, reasonably intelligent, sane person.

But, yesterday I was bested by a bag of cookies.  Before you get the wrong idea, this wasn't Pepperidge Farm's Milanos, Girl Scouts' Thin Mints or even something from the local deli.  This was a bag of Yogurt Stars I had bought for my granddaughters because I knew I wouldn't eat them ... but then forgot to give them to them when they were here.  These are about a 1.5 out of 10 on the cookie-goodness scale.  But I ate them anyway ... all of them ... in about three rounds ... and it wasn't a mini-bag.  Once or twice I had enough awareness to ask "why?" but not enough to stop. 

Toward the end, it was the same-old refrain of "might as well eat the rest so I can go back to being perfect." For ten or fifteen minutes ... maybe.  But this particular dive into the mediocre prompted a deeper look (why does it always come after the damage is done?).  I've got a new housemate and she has different eating habits than I do and likes to have some things around that I don't resist well ... or at all.  So, I've heard myself asking her to hide them.  I didn't like what I was hearing.  I sound like a baby with no control.  Actually, it's more like a baby with no awareness ... or like a teenager refusing awareness.

Anyway, I've decided that it's time to focus on awareness ... awareness of what I'm trying to block or avoid feeling ... awareness of why I'm stuffing myself with really awful sugar when if I wanted a truly lovely dessert, I could just have it.

So, today I went to Costco and bought 23,254 calories worth of candy ... colorfully wrapped Lindt balls, Almond Roca and minis (you know ... Snickers, Baby Ruths, etc.) ... and a large glass jar to hold it all.  I'm calling it my Awareness Jar (see attached picture).  I wanted it to be as beautiful and appealing as possible ... and everything in it is way better than Yogurt Stars.

When I want sweetness, my Awareness Jar is there but my promise to myself is that I will delve into my emotional and spiritual awareness to find out why I'm wanting it ... BEFORE indulging myself.  After all, there's nothing in that jar that I need for physical sustenance and I know there's nothing in there that is even good for me.  If I have a cookie moment and eat the whole thing, it will make me very sick ... and add a minimum of 7 pounds (at 3500 calories per pound) to my body ... to say nothing of what it would do to my blood sugar.

It's an experiment and I'll let you know how it goes.  If I eat the whole thing, I'll post a picture of my chipmunk face.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dreaming a New Dream

Louise at Recover Your Joy tells a story of Brent, a former resident of the homeless shelter where she works. Brent is a success story, living independently, working, helping others.  One of the changes that happened in his life was that he began to dream again ... to make plans ... to want to "give back."  That desire energized his transformation.

I've reached a stage in life when dreams usually aren't expected and don't make up the main focus of most conversations.  Most conversations of those of us of a "certain age" are about the state of our bodies, the foibles of our government, the lives of our children and grandchildren, the weather and the "good old days."  No wonder we run out of steam.

Right now I'm in a waiting zone ... waiting to move into a new house, waiting to figure out "what's next?"  There are many possibilities on my "what's next?" list but none of them call loudly enough to make me move in its direction.  Most of them are related to things I've done before.  They would be a stretch but they don't excite me to action.  I've been wondering if I'm just out of gas, just winding down, if I should just sit in the sun and purr like a cat.

But maybe I've just lost my dream.  It's tricky at this stage of life ... most of us have done a lot, accomplished a lot of dreams, paid our dues, done our time, fulfilled our obligations.  The message of our culture is that it's time to retire, take it easy, rest, enjoy the fruits of our labors.  We don't get a lot of encouragement to talk about our dreams, the new territories we have left to explore, what we want to do with the rest of our time, what we still have left to contribute.

Part of me wants to purr like a cat in the sun and part wants to climb new mountains and see new vistas.  An important part of me wants to dream a new dream.  One that will pull me into new territory, expand my understanding of myself and the world around me, and give back some of the abundance I've been given.

As the year heads for its half-way point, I've been trying to write a new intention.  It's been difficult to find something that really calls to me.  This morning, with the help of Brent and Louise, I've realized that what I need to find first is a new dream.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Finding Perfection in the Oil Spill

I live on a lake.  It's a small lake ... about 7 miles long.  Last weekend was a v-boat festival and the village and lake were filled with sleek, powerful boats.  Boaters would start at one end of the lake, rev their engines and zoom to the other end where there was nothing to do but zoom back again.  It's primarily a family lake and the sound of children laughing as they bounce along on floating toys carries across the water.

I drive a car.  It's a small car and I think nothing about driving the hour to Fresno to shop, buying stuff I need and lots of stuff I just want and, too often, stuff I didn't even know I wanted till I saw it.

I live in a house.  It's a small house but when I'm cold, I turn up the thermostat and when it's dark, or even dim, I flip a switch.

I carry my groceries home in plastic bags even though I try to remember to bring my own, I give my granddaughters crayons, wear glasses to help me see, walk on carpet, apply hand lotion liberally, water my garden with a hose and then sit on patio furniture to watch it grow reaching for a cool drink in a plastic glass.  I wash my hair with shampoo, talk on a telephone, work on a computer, put tires on my car and hire people to cart away all the stuff I no longer want.

In other words, I swim in a sea of oil ... as do we all.  The gulf oil spill is a tragedy regardless of whether it was caused by negligence or was simply a freak accident.  The magnitude of this event is still unknown and it is almost impossible to think about it in terms of "perfection."  And, yet, there may be a deep perfection that bubbles to the surface along with the oil that already covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Instead of considering BP, or the oil industry in general, as the bad guy in this scenario, perhaps we will finally start to look at how each of us have created the environment where this type of catastrophic potential exists in order to feed our addiction to cheap energy and throw-away goods.  Perhaps, years from now, we will look back on April 20, 2010, as the day we started to get serious about how we can sustainably use the resources our planet so generously offers us.

That would be a form of perfection.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Married to Amazement













Mary Oliver in "When Death Comes," writes:

When it's over, I want to say:  all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.



What would it mean to be married to amazement?

Monday, June 14, 2010

When New Quits Working

I've run out of new.  This morning I woke up to an internal state that did not match the bright, crisp world outside my window.  Something's out of kilter, hollowed out and brown around the edges.  Nothing's wrong ... as a matter of fact, things are incredibly right.  And yet, something's missing and I think it's the lure of "new."  For three and a half years, I've had a feast of new ... new places, new relationships, new projects, new experiences ... all rushing by in a torrent of distraction.  Now things are settling down ... as I wanted them to ... and I can't count on "new" anymore.

I don't want to keep rushing around but I'm not sure I know how to respond without the drama of new pushing me onward.  Right now I am becalmed with no winds of change blowing me toward something.  For the next three weeks, until the house closes and the moving mayhem begins, there is little that needs to be done.  My work project is finished and there's no place I need to go.  I feel antsy, like I should be doing something, making something happen, getting on with things, filling the pipeline, making a plan.

But, part of me is resisting.  Nothing calls to me enough to overcome the lethargy so I'm stuck in this strange, antsy/lethargic state.  Which is probably right where I need to be.  It's probably a signal to go within and find out what's going on.  All of these uncomfortable feelings most likely are resistance and I'm just yearning for more new to distract me.

Diane at Contemplative Photography often seems to be on a parallel path and this morning she included a quote in her blog from Byron Brown's Soul without Shame: 
"Awareness brings a definite quality to your experience: when it is available in an unrestricted way, your mind has a lightness, a clarity, and a cool freshness, almost like the air on a crisp fall day. Things appear bright and new as if you were seeing and hearing them for the first time."
Maybe it isn't "new" that's stopped working.  Maybe it's me that has stopped seeing and hearing things as they are ... fresh and new every day.  Maybe this time is about stopping and bringing awareness to my experience, in an unrestricted way.
Awareness. 
One bird singing along Twitter Alley

Awareness. 
Heart sadness under an avalanche of Jolly Ranchers

Awareness. 
Reflection pool lost in a theme park of distraction

Awareness. 
Child's butterfly kiss in the midst of morning madness

Awareness.
Rainbow arc above the car pool lane

Awareness. 
Overflowing with possibility, offering no promises.

Awareness.
About the image:  Finding Center.  My granddaughter Reyna exploring the phosphorescence exhibit at the Children's Museum in Oakhurst. CA.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The BTGF Pact

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be?...
As we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others."
 -- Marianne Williamson, "A Return to Love"
That's one of those quotes that's easy to say "right!" to and then go on as if it weren't true at all.  At least it is for me.  I have a deep-seated fear of being big, too big, so big that I don't fit in, that I am alone.  I came by it honestly.  My mother, wanting to make sure I wasn't spoiled, often warned me about getting "too big for my britches," being a "queen bee," and the hazards of "book learning" over common sense.  She was very careful not to compliment me so that it didn't go to my head.  At least I assume that she was being careful ... maybe she just didn't see anything to compliment.  More likely it was her own fear of inadequacy which covered her own fear of being powerful, so powerful she would be left alone.  And I feared being too big, too smart, too powerful, too successful and losing her love and being alone.

So now when compliments do come in, I dismiss them as just people being kind and wanting to make me feel good.  They can't possibly be "true."  Diane in her blog Contemplative Photographer calls them the "yes, buts."  Yes, but ... my art doesn't count since no one's buying it.  Yes, but ... my writing doesn't count because it's non-fiction.  Yes, but ... my spiritual life doesn't count because I don't meditate every day.  Yes, but ... I'm not powerful because I'm not in charge of anyone or anything.  I could go on but I'm even boring myself.

I reread Marianne's statement with a nervous laugh:  We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"  I'm not sure I could even say those words without feeling like a fraud.  But, how would I feel if my friends made that statement?  I'd think, "Right on!  You go, girl!"  I'd be happy that they had finally recognized their brilliance ... and I would truly feel inspired to recognize mine.

Maybe we should all make a pact ... call it the BTGF (Brilliant, Talented, Gorgeous and Fabulous) Pact ... if all of us started living up to our full selves, just think what power we'd spread in the world.  Think about it.

About the image:  This thrift store mannequin in Lafayette, CO, called to me and this morning she showed up as the Blue Lady (after a lot of photoshop makeup).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Should We Set Intentions?

At the beginning of the year, I put the following intention out into the world:
I am committed to, by December 31, 2010, living in California in a beautiful, peaceful place with lovely outdoor living space. From my new home I can see the ocean and there are incredible, big trees around me.  I have a perfect place to do art, play music, meditate and exercise.  I am actively involved with helping people create their own spiritual realities and all of us are part of the change in consciousness, the tipping point, that will eradicate violence and restore the planet to health.  By my side in this joyous venture is my new playmate, lover, best friend and spiritual partner.
Since it is now approaching the middle of the year, I thought it would be a good time to explore what has happened since setting that intention.   What has manifested itself and does it fit the intention?  I have studied a lot about intention since then, learned a few things and opened up new areas of confusion and wonderings.  The original intention included three major pieces: a new place to live, new work, a new life partner.  Since this could get long, I'm only going to talk about the new place to live this morning.

The new place to live was the most specific and probably the piece with the most energy.  I knew I wanted to return to California but I wasn't sure where or even how to choose a "where."  I was determined to wait until something led me to the place.  The choices that I had in mind were Coronado, where one of my best friends lives, Santa Barbara, where I had spent 25 great years, Arcadia, where a kind and generous friend had offered me a mother-in-law flat, or the Sierra foothills, which I had fallen in love with and is relatively close to my step-daughter and granddaughters.  Abundant pros and cons existed for each but only Coronado and Santa Barbara had the  ocean views that appeared in the intention.

I weighed the pros and cons, dithering about expenses, waffling about "where" until an invitation to participate in a video project about a new high school took me back to the foothills ... in mid-March ... in spring.  And, as I drove through the foothills, once again absorbing that incredible, sun-filled green into my cells, I swore I'd never miss another Sierra foothills spring.  The decision about "where" was made in an instant.

So, the question is ... did the intention work?  The house I'm in escrow on is a lovely, peaceful and affordable place with an abundance of outdoor living space.  But it does not have a view of the ocean.  Considering that when I set the intention, I was living in a tiny house in Colorado with no outdoor living space, I think this part of the intention is a direct hit.

However, what this process has made me wonder about is how important the specifics are and whether it might actually be more the feeling that creates the desired reality.  The feeling that I wanted more than anything was peace and serenity and this is what I feel in the foothills much more than the other, also incredibly beautiful, places. That feeling was more important than the specifics of the ocean view.

Another thread that weaves through this question about intention is what we want and what we need.  Almost everyone has experienced loss or pain, something we definitely didn't want, only to find out (generally years later) that it took us to a new place, to a new understanding of ourselves or the world, a new appreciation of life, a new gratitude for what is.  It seems like, in most cases, while we still would never have asked for the loss or pain, we also wouldn't give up the place that it took us to.  What we didn't want gave us what we needed.

So should we even be setting intentions?  Are we smart enough to intend what we truly need?
  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That Bolting Feeling

"Never under-estimate the inclination to bolt."
  -- Pema Chodron
Geneen Roth in her book, Women Food and God ... An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything," offers us this quote after telling us one of her stories.  She was at a ten-day silent retreat in Joshua Tree National Park (in the middle of the desert, close to nowhere).  It was day two and she was in a phone booth trying to arrange for a helicopter to pick her up.  She was bolting.  Leaving what she had committed to, leaving herself.  Fleeing from the fear of meeting herself.

While Geneen's focus is on compulsive eating, she says there are many ways to bolt ... walking out the door, trying to hire a helicopter, multi-tasking to avoid focusing on what's truly important, staying overly busy to avoid thinking about what might be causing pain or actually feeling our feelings. 

I've had that bolting feeling many times in my life, sometimes I've given in to it, sometimes I've managed to work my way through it.  Years ago I got caught mid-bolt by a very wise woman who managed to gently help me see what I was doing.  Since then, I've begun to recognize the pattern a little earlier ... the "very logical" reasons why I shouldn't have to do whatever it is in front of me or approaching around the corner ... the turning to something new to distract myself ... the disappearing from others and from myself.

I can feel the low rumble of a bolt coming on.  Something is scaring me

(Just to prove the point to myself ... after writing the above sentence, I jumped up, washed a glass, went to the bathroom, checked a date in my journal and then thought ... uh oh, I'm doing it ... leaving myself in mid-sentence.)

What is it that's scaring me?  Although I haven't recognized it till now, I probably went into full-on bolt mode three and a half years ago when Richard died.  I fled grief and the fear of the unknowns of life alone and headed for a safe haven.  Since then, life has been a series of mini-bolts and now I've hit the end of the cycle.  I'm where I want to be, doing what I want to do.  But, still I have this bolting feeling rising within.  It's like I'm in the middle of Geneen's desert and there is no helicopter that will rescue me.  I'm going to have to live with myself, create a life, find my way ... find my own peace.  I'm going to have to stay put and be vulnerable to the pain and fear of living my life without the oh-so-familiar distractions I've depended upon before.

I'm going to have to give up bolting and settle down and meet myself.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Dance of Passion

Few of us can do more than a small handful of things well and with the proper passion, so don't spread yourself too thin if you can help it.  Jalaluddin Rumi said, "A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home."          -- John Geirachfocus
 This morning I intended to write about passion and its gravitational force.  It was prompted by watching the kids this weekend and one student in particular whose favorite movie is "Little Miss Sunshine."  It turns out that the movie was filmed in Ventura at a hotel just down the road from the one we were staying in.  We had a full schedule and a deadline time for returning but on Sunday morning I found out that the whole group was going to go to the Little Miss Sunshine hotel before leaving for home.  To my surprise, since I thought our scheduled was clearly fixed, one person's passion redirected the entire group. 

It was more than "just passion" though.  It was passion expressed. The student made it clear that she really wanted to go see the place where her favorite movie was filmed and her passion was contagious.  Passion is like that.  It pulls us into its jet stream and sets off a vibration within us that makes us respond to the source of the energy.  Passion changes the course of the world just as it changed the course of our weekend plans.

As I was looking for a quote about passion, however, I found the one above and it made me realize that passion truly is more than a "half-love."  It is a singularity, a laser focused, whole-hearted engagement with one thing.  The student above didn't have a list of her top ten movies, she had one great love and she could tell the story and the intimate details of it in a way that swept everyone into the desire to experience not only the location of the movie but her passion for it.

There is much written about intentions and the power of attraction.  Perhaps it all boils down to recognizing our passion and having the courage to express it, to put it out into the world and allow its power to pull action toward it.  But passion is also a dance requiring exquisite balance between self-fulfillment and obsession.  On one-side honoring the great love that is at the center of our being and opens us up to the joy and beauty of the world ... and on the other, a tunnel-visioned obsession that narrows the world and our connection to everything outside our passion.

Viva la dance!

About the image:  Passion Emerging

Monday, June 7, 2010

Locked in Time

Tomorrow this project that changed my life ends.  After a four-hour drive, I will drop off three teenagers and be done.  My part of the video project about Minarets High School is finished and tomorrow morning I will wake-up to a clean slate.  Nothing due.  No to do list. No loose ends to tie together.

I can feel the force of the vacuum pulling me back into doing.  There are several possibilities ... things I want to do, creative projects that could be fun and possibly even financially rewarding.  But, I'm trying to resist, trying  to leave a space just to be, trying to leave time open and free to find its own direction.

I don't know how long I'll manage to stay in this weightless (or is it wait-less) state ...

... That was yesterday and a case of blogus interruptus.  While the students were off making their movie, I made art and was a little surprised when this image showed up.  It's a little grim.  I didn't know what it was trying to tell me so I posted the more approachable "Be Wild" image of yesterday.  Now I feel drawn back to the idea of being locked in time, which of course we all are.  But the face in the image has such big eyes ... somber eyes, wise eyes.  Eyes that see the world through a rather haphazard window.  But are they the eyes of a prisoner?

Everything in the image is ancient ... the Roman numerals, the cave painted horses, the face itself which comes from an ancient piece of art at a friend's house.  Perhaps just the thought of being locked in time is an ancient way of thinking.  Perhaps time is an illusion, a dream I can choose to direct in my own way.  Perhaps the image is truly in prison looking out at time ... free time.

Perhaps the image is saying, "I'm locked in time but you are on the outside ... free."  Perhaps this is a reminder to not lock myself into a new project that imprisons my time. 

Perhaps it's just a reminder to truly savor this moment as I sit on my deck listening to the birds sing and the keys on my laptop click away as I have this conversation with time, with an image, with myself, with you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Be Wild!

What would you do for 2 hours today if you knew you had permission to be wild?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Making Art

After almost four months of not making art, I'm now obsessed with it.  I'm sitting in an empty classroom on the Brooks Institute (photography school) campus while 12 freshmen and sophomore students are having the time of their lives shooting their stories on three different sets.  It's a photographer's wonderland ... colors, shapes, faces, juxtapositions and I've had a great time shooting images and the kids. 

And now I'm playing.  Layering things together to see what shows up, tweaking, adding, subtracting, and experiencing the delight that happens when something surprising shows up.  This is a chair and shadow superimposed on an image of a paint spill.

Life is good ... very good.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Outside In

"All that we are not stares back at what we are."
  -- W. H. Auden

I'm not sure why this quote struck me so this morning.  Perhaps it's the thought that what I'm not is every bit as real as what I am.  It's part of me even though it has not taken form as me.  Maybe it's just because it makes me feel like the center of the Universe, the center of a vast web of connection.  Maybe it's the thought that everything that lies outside me is actually interested in me ... as interested in me as I am in it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Us, Them and Peace


Maureen at Writing without Paper suggested an article by Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B titled, "The Price of Peace."  In it, he suggests that each one of us has contributed to the universal lack of peace and suggested that one way we create this "peace-less" world is by our "us-them" thinking.  As long as there is a "them" separate from "us," we will not have peace.  He states,
"... if we face the fact that we are one, that “they” are “us”, that the face of the enemy is our own face, then we will have reached the first basis for peace."
He suggests that one way to get beyond this divisive mindset is to identify with whomever we consider "they."  He explains an approach he tried, "... at the beginning of Lent one year, I found a photograph of some people who for me are “they’. That picture became my Lenten pin-up. I looked at it every day: “they” became “us”. So I suggest you think of something very creative that will bring home to you the fact that we are one: pick your “theys” and identify with them in some way or other.

I was thinking about this a few years ago when I wrote the poem, "The Lonely Me" which you can read in the extended post if you want.  It is a struggle to let go of our thoughts of "they" but if we begin to see our commonalities instead of our differences, maybe we could take a step toward the peaceful world that all of us really want.



Finding Perfection in the Oil Spill

I live on a lake.  It's a small lake ... about 7 miles long.  Last weekend was a v-boat festival and the village and lake were filled with sleek, powerful boats.  Boaters would start at one end of the lake, rev their engines and zoom to the other end where there was nothing to do but zoom back again.  It's primarily a family lake and the sound of children laughing as they bounce along on floating toys carries across the water.

I drive a car.  It's a small car and I think nothing about driving the hour to Fresno to shop, buying stuff I need and lots of stuff I just want and, too often, stuff I didn't even know I wanted till I saw it.

I live in a house.  It's a small house but when I'm cold, I turn up the thermostat and when it's dark, or even dim, I flip a switch.

I carry my groceries home in plastic bags even though I try to remember to bring my own, I give my granddaughters crayons, wear glasses to help me see, walk on carpet, apply hand lotion liberally, water my garden with a hose and then sit on patio furniture to watch it grow reaching for a cool drink in a plastic glass.  I wash my hair with shampoo, talk on a telephone, work on a computer, put tires on my car and hire people to cart away all the stuff I no longer want.

In other words, I swim in a sea of oil ... as do we all.  The gulf oil spill is a tragedy regardless of whether it was caused by negligence or was simply a freak accident.  The magnitude of this event is still unknown and it is almost impossible to think about it in terms of "perfection."  And, yet, there may be a deep perfection that bubbles to the surface along with the oil that already covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Instead of considering BP, or the oil industry in general, as the bad guy in this scenario, perhaps we will finally start to look at how each of us have created the environment where this type of catastrophic potential exists in order to feed our addiction to cheap energy and throw-away goods.  Perhaps, years from now, we will look back on April 20, 2010, as the day we started to get serious about how we can sustainably use the resources our planet so generously offers us.

That would be a form of perfection.