Friday, December 21, 2012

The WHY of Your Inner Core

3:23 a.m.  words streaming through my brain.  trying to sleep.  words keep coming.  I'll remember them tomorrow.  no you won't.  get up.

I'm launching my new project … The Joy Weigh … your guide to More JOY/Less FAT … and I'm obsessing over it … that glorious, thrumming, state-of-flow obsessing.  It's a big project, a calling everything I have project, a can I really do this project.

Yesterday a conversation with a friend reminded me of something I hadn't thought of in a long time.  The summer before my fourth grade, I wanted to be an opera singer.  Keep in mind, I was a lonely only child living in the Kansas outback.  I had never seen an opera. I'm not even sure how I knew what one was, but I went around outside singing words I didn't understand at the top of my lungs to an audience I couldn't see.  I never knew why.

One of the activities on The JOY Weigh is creating a WHY Card … a simple list of why you are committed to something … written on an index card and placed where you will see it often.  I've been working on my WHY Card for this project and for my own journey on The JOY Weigh.  I had come up with all the standard reasons and thought that activity was done.

Then I remembered that little girl walking around the yard joyously singing an unknown song with made up words. For years as I remembered that scene, I just smiled in amusement. I thought it was just me being a kid. But, not long after the conversation with my friend, it suddenly flashed on me that, even then, I was trying to find my voice ... even when I didn't know what my song was or to whom I wanted to sing it. 

Now I know why. I know why I'm on this path. I know why I have to do this. It is my JOY ... It is my opera.  I know why I can never give up ... It would mean giving up a piece of myself. 

Regardless of which path you choose, which commitment you make, find the "why" of your inner core and it will pull you forward past the rocks and setbacks.  You will know that it is your soul calling. 


Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent eCourse

Today is the first day of Advent and my blog sister Louise Gallagher has launched a 4-week free Advent eCourse.  Louise is such a wise and generous spirit that I know this will be a centering and inspiring guide for this time of the year that is so filled with beauty, community, goodwill and celebration that sometimes we can be overwhelmed by it all.

May the season be joyful and "in spirit ing."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Joy Less Fat

They say that on December 21, 2012, the world will end.

That means when we all wake up on December 22, we will be in a new world, a new life, a rebirth of sorts.  

It's like people who have a major car wreck or health crisis where their life hangs in the balance.  When they survive the crisis, they realize they've been given a life extension … they are now living on borrowed time.  The general reaction to this experience seems to be a sense of awe at life, a re-dedication to living with meaning and purpose.

Perhaps that's what will happen to us collectively on the morning of December 22nd.  At least, it's a choice we could make, individually as well as collectively.  In that rebirth moment, each of us gets to choose what life we will live, who we will be, what purpose we will follow.  

The past month has been a transition period as I let go of some things and explored a myriad of possibilities … some outlandish, some hangovers from the past, some pale possibilities that did not excite me,  The word that kept coming back to me ... the maypole of this dance ... was:  JOY.  I know I want to live joy, collect joy, share joy, increase joy in the world.

Circling around this small word gave structure to my exploration and eventually led me back to myself and my life-long dance with Fat, which has been at once my master teacher and also a continuing joy drainer.  I am ultimately grateful for this issue that introduced itself to me in the first grade and has been my constant companion.  It may not be a very attractive Guide, but it is the one I was given and it has been a great teacher.  It prodded me into learning about health and nutrition at an early age.  It introduced a lonely, bookish child to the joys of her physical being ... running, walking, yoga, dance, hiking, kayaking, swimming and, of course, sex.  It led me into the hallowed halls of spirituality and psychology.  It prompted dozens of personal development experiences that gradually helped me understand who I am. 

I have wanted to write about this master teacher for many years.  Finally, it seems to be time.  Not only have I studied with this Master my entire life, I have also maintained a major weight loss for the past five years …years that simultaneously introduced me to a new master: Joy … which brought its own lessons.  I have gained deep life insight into both Fat and Joy and suddenly realized that if I could create "More Joy; Less Fat" in my own life, it could help others who also struggle with these issues. 

Just as Joy has many different meanings, Fat can be interpreted in many ways. It can be generalized to mean anything you need to make life healthy and worthwhile but too much of which can be damaging.  Too much Fat of any type can weigh you down, clog the arteries of your life, drain your energy, and interfere with movement.  We understand the role of Fat in our bodies, but sometimes we overlook the excess Fat that may show up as too much material stuff which can demand our constant attention, excess memories that keep us anchored to the past, excess judgments and opinions which block new ideas, or excess fears which narrow our comfort zone and prevent us from having new experiences.  When we  begin to focus on creating more Joy, we automatically begin to release excess Fat in all its many varieties.

The holidays are here and, for some of us, this time of the year is a mixed blessing.  We love the bright, shiny parts but the over-abundance of food and drink fills us with a sense of dread and powerlessness over the scale-creep that almost always happens during this period.  

If you believe that you will indeed wake up on December 22nd ... and, perhaps, be in a new world and want "More Joy; Less Fat" in your new life, send an email to jwycoff@me.com.  I'll let you know when the launch begins for this new, fun, creative, empowering approach to an old issue that some of us have carried around (literally) for way too long.

May your holiday season be pure joy,

joyce

About this image:  "A New Way of Seeing"

Perhaps if we had more eyes, we would see more clearly.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Question: What Do I Want?

This morning, art mentor Ariane Goodwin, asked the question I've been asking myself intensely over the past several weeks: What do I want?  

What do I want to do?  What life do I want to lead?  What is still undone?  Who do I want to serve?  Where do my talents and skills intersect with the world's needs and ills?

My art has been on hold, my life has been in suspended animation, my decision making has been put on sabbatical till I come up with an answer.  


Actually, I'm looking for more than "an" answer since I already have large sheets of Post-it paper hanging all over my hallway filled with answers.  I want an answer that makes me say "Eureka! That's it."  I want an answer that connects all the disparate parts of myself into a beacon of energy, imagination, purpose, and service.  I want an answer that lights up like the flood light that swept the night sky in front of our local theater as it scored the coup of being the first to show the movie "Lincoln" in our area.

And, then, there it was.  Sitting right in front of me as if it had been waiting for me to clear the fog so I could see it.

Years ago … so many years ago that it feels like a different life … I started a small newsletter called, "MindPlay."  Two forces intersected to bring this newsletter into being.  I was tired of having my writing proposals rejected … and, part of my job involved marketing a group of physicians.  I talked the group into buying a desktop publishing software package, which I used in my off hours to produce an 8-page newsletter where I could write about anything that interested me with no qualms about rejection letters.  Sort of an early, hard-copy blog as a matter of fact … one that went on for almost 8 years and took me places I'd never imagined.

Anyway, one of the early things I wrote about was an idea that came from someone else … the idea box.  The process was a way to evaluate ideas by putting them in a box (literally or figuratively) and to forget them for a time.  When you came back and opened the box and the idea was bigger and brighter, it was a keeper.  I've been doing this for years and generally find that when I open the box, most ideas have shriveled to dust.  But, this morning when I opened the box, one sprang out like a jack-in-the-box and shouted, "I've been in this box for 30 years … stop pushing me back down!"

OK.  OK.  I get it.  So, a "new/old" idea is now on my planning sheet.  It's not ready for prime time but I'm going to put it through its paces to see if it can hold up to the roller-coaster of implementation.

In the meantime I'm going to explore some of the questions Ariane poses in her message this morning.  If you don't have a great answer to the question:  "What do I want?", I highly recommend that you check out her post.

About this image:  "Pink Lizard"

Recently I met a new friend and, through a series of conversations, discovered that she has an amazing collection of gems and minerals.  She invited me to come photograph some and make art from them.  This carved piece is the first in a series.  It reminds me of how much I want interesting conversations with fascinating people.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Question at the Bottom of the Rabbit Hole

For the past several days, I've been exploring next steps … whether to go this way or that, while sitting in my comfortable home enjoying my comfortable life.

This morning I read about a life not so comfortable … a land where the per capita income is $4000 per year, where life expectancy for men is 48 and for women 52, where infant mortality is 300% higher than the US average, where unemployment is 85%, where only 30% of students graduate from high school and the teen suicide rate is 150 times greater than the US average.

And which third-world country is this?  

The heart-breaking fact is that it's a neglected corner of our own country and probably not the only place where poverty, disease and hopelessness run rampant in this golden land of opportunity.  In this time when we are spending six BILLION dollars trying to decide who will lead arguably the world's most powerful country, we seem powerless to help our least fortunate.

Every year, energy, ideas and venture capital flow like a river toward new products and services, new video games, new technologies … and what a beautiful, productive river it is as it irrigates the fields of commerce that provide us with the stuff we need (and want), jobs and ever new opportunities.  

The question is … how might we use this powerful cycle of commerce to bring new life, new energy, new hope to the places within our own borders that have become life destroying deserts of poverty?  

I know that we are a generous, caring people.  If there were a hungry child sitting on our front porch, almost any of us would take that child in and comfort and feed it.  The problem is that we don't actually see the hungry children, and when we hear about them, in spite of our best intentions, we don't know what to do.  The problems seem too overwhelming to be solved.

Maybe this is where creativity comes in, and maybe the question should be: "What am I willing to do?"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Extreme Forgiveness

A friend of mine has a rather odd passion for reading obituaries, but every once in a while she turns up a gem.  

Her latest find was Eric Lomax who died this month at age 93.  Lomax was a British Army officer who was captured and tortured by the Japanese during  the fall of Singapore in 1942.  Savagely beaten, water boarded and forced with thousands of others to build the infamous Burma-to-Siam railroad, featured in the 1957 film "The Bridge on the River Kwai," Lomax deliberately avoided all things Japanese and went more than 45 years without speaking to a Japanese person, embodying a common POW attitude of "don't forget, don't forgive."  

However, late in his life after suffering post-traumatic stress for decades, Lomax decided to find the man who had been his principal interrogator during his imprisonment.  He wound up finding Takashi Nagase, who had published his own memoir of shame and regret and financed a Buddhist temple at the bridge to atone for his actions during the war.  Nagase's story prompted a meeting between the two elderly enemies on the bridge where they had engaged fifty years earlier.  

After their meeting, Lomax wrote Nagase a letter assuring him of his total forgiveness and Nagase said, "I think I can die safely now."   The meeting between the two was filmed for a television documentary, "Enemy, My Friend?"  Lomax later wrote a memoir titled "The Railway Man," which is now being made into a movie, starring Colin Firth.

Extreme forgiveness.  How does one forgive the most unimaginable cruelty?  What is that first step of letting go of that pain and anger?  And, if Eric Lomax can forgive the man who tortured him, can those of us who carry such minor, everyday wrongs, not do likewise?  

And, a question that has always confounded me … is it necessary for the other person to apologize before forgiveness can be granted?  Perhaps it's a two-step process … I can let go of anger and hurt … but, before there is that slate-cleaning moment, the other person has to express sorrow and request forgiveness.  Then there is reconciliation.

About this image:  Crack in the World

Perhaps the first step in forgiveness and reconciliation is that both hearts have to crack open.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

At Home Clarity Retreat - Day 2

This past weekend I attended a Bioneers Conference which set all my molecules spinning.  

They've actually been coming unglued for awhile prompted by different threads that seem to be weaving a new pattern … perhaps a whole new cloth.  Some of the threads:  Samuel Jackson's video, "Wake the F**K Up!" which I know he made just for me, a visit with my granddaughter and all the thoughts about what her world will be like, John Lennon's birthday (he would have been 72), and a Mary Oliver poem that repeats in my head:  "One day you finally knew what you had to do … and began."  And began!

The conference speakers bombarded my senses with urgency and a powerful call:  it's time … do something … wake-up … step-up!

I'm good at beginnings and there were a dozen or more possibilities spinning through my mind as I left the conference.  So I decided I needed a time out … a retreat … a clarity retreat.  I needed a "forty days in the desert" experience … however, I didn't have the time or wherewithal to do 40 days, so I decided to do 40 hours at home in Arroyo Grande … and to keep the wheels of day-to-day life moving, I would spread the 40 hours over 10 days.

To make sure that I stay focused, I eliminated as much external diversion as possible, no reading, movies and, during the designated hours, no internet, telephone, email, Facebook, and so on.  I even eliminated food as a diversion by making a huge pot of rice and vegetables which will be my staple for the 10 days of the retreat.  I also lined my hallway walls with large Post-it sheets and assembled various colors and sizes of small Post-it notes and colored markers.  And, to stay in balance at least somewhat, I'm committing to walk at least two hours a day.  Nothing like walking to allow space for clarity to play.

Each day, I'm drawing a card from the Voyager Tarot deck.  Yesterday … Day 1 … I drew the Two of Worlds which states:  Winter Reflection.  The moon, winter, pond, and night represent rest and reflection.  In this time of physical relaxation and mental contemplation, you crystalize your feelings and plans, as symbolized by the snow -- crystalized water.

I only managed 3 hours yesterday but I deeply explored one of the possibilities that had presented itself.  I like the idea a lot but a major flaw surfaced so I'm not sure whether or not it will survive.

This morning I woke up with a fresh idea that demands my attention as well as some new sheets in the hallway.

The Tarot card for today is the Ace of Wants:  Illumination -- a vision, a revelation, a flash of insight.  The hand means you have touched upon a truth.  You have seen beyond the surface reality.  

That seems like a good beginning for this day of clarity seeking.

About this image:  Follow Your Own Path

The main player in this image is a rooster I met years ago in Boca de Tomatlan, Mexico.  He shows up regularly and I know he's just telling me ... over and over again ... "Wake Up!"

More Info:

If you don't know about Bioneers, check them out … many people call their conference the "all natural anti-depressant."  http://www.bioneers.org/  Their mission is to "inspire a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations."

If you missed Samuel Jackson's video, here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og35U0d6WKY

Friday, October 12, 2012

Timing and Happenstance

Last night at the San Luis Obispo Camera Club, Bill Bouton told us an amazing story of timing and happenstance, with the underlying moral of:  Be Prepared!

A few weeks ago Bill bought himself a very expensive new camera lens and went out to see how it worked.  He tried one place but nothing of great interest showed up so …
… happenstance … he decided to go to Avila Bay, where he saw a bunch of pelicans diving.  He parked his car and took his camera to see what was happening and it turned out that a humpback whale was feeding at a "bait ball" at Port San Luis.  Bill took five shots and returned home, where he shared the photos with a friend, and … 
… happenstance … she posted the photos on a local area blog, and … 
… happenstance … the photos showed up on Yahoo News Front page … and then went viral.    
Soon Bill was getting calls from around the world … major newspapers, television, blogs … everyone wanted to use his photos … especially the one below, featuring the girl "in the little black number."  By the time it was over, his Flickr images had registered almost a million views.


Bill's moral about being prepared came because he was not prepared for the avalanche of calls he received and didn't know how to charge for the use of his images.  "If I had known how to charge, I probably could have made $20,000 in those few days,"  he stated.  "As it was, I paid for my new lens," he concluded with a grin.

It's hard to be prepared for lightning … but sometimes it happens.  Where could it happen in your life ... and how might you be prepared?

More of Bill Bouton's images can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/billbouton/


Friday, October 5, 2012

Clarity

I am sitting at tunnel viewpoint in Yosemite looking at the view that never tires, watching the bus load of Japanese tourists with their cameras, marveling at this place that speaks its universal language of peace, beauty and permanence.

It reminds me of the opening lines of David Wagoner's powerful poem "Lost."




Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here.

Here.  That's what I felt as I drove through the big trees and glimpsed the morning mist  hanging in the valleys.  Here. In my life, on my path.  Clarity replaced the turmoil that had been roiling my spirit.  Here.  Wherever I am is called Here.  I am not lost. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bullets and Beanie Babies

Last night I listened as a wounded Iraqi veteran talked in halted, nervous tones of his struggles with anger, of his lost jobs because he could no longer do simple math, of his efforts to put into art the things that he could not put into words.

He talked about the soldier's pack he carried … filled with bullets and Beanie Babies … and two cans of Coke ... because I like Coke.  Beanie Babies to make friends with the children during the day. Bullets for the middle of the night or early morning ... when people were deepest in their sleep and would be least likely to resist.  Beanie Babies for the children … bullets for their resisting parents.

He talked to a room full of students who sat sanding plaster casts of their smooth, innocent faces … faces untouched by the veteran's world … and answered questions about bronze and glass and why.

What have we done?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WakeUp Dreamers: Anthem

One of those songs that made us dreamers ...

We had dreams when the night was youngWe were believers when the night was youngWe could change the world, stop the warNever seen nothing like this beforeBut that was back when the night was young




We headed straight south in a sundown lightOn highway sixty one through the delta nightWe shared the back roads with card sharks and griftersTent show evangelists and Luke the Drifter
What is lost? What is missing?What's been gone way too long?
We had dreams when the night was youngWe were believers when the night was youngWe could change the world, stop the warNever seen nothing like this beforeBut that was back when the night was young
Sign reads 'God Bless America', guns and ammoI'm not sure that's what it meansSign reads 'Repent, the end is near'I'm not sure that's what we need
Get your heart beating in the right directionThat's when you make a real connection
We had dreams when the night was youngWe were believers when the night was youngWe could change the world, stop the warNever seen nothing like this beforeBut that was back when the night was young
Now Andy Warhol's in the hotel lobbyHe's waiting for the late night museBut she won't be back before morningShe's gone downtown to hear some blues
Like the sun rising out of the seaIt's how you embrace the mystery
We had dreams when the night was youngWe were believers when the night was youngWe could change the world stop the warNever seen nothing like this beforeBut that was back when the night was young
We had dreams when the night was youngWe were believers when the night was youngWe could change the world stop the warNever seen nothing like this before
 But that was way back when the night was young

Sunday, September 30, 2012

They're Rioting in Africa ...


"They’re rioting in Africa, There’s strife in Iran
What Nature doesn’t do to us will be done by our Fellow Man*"


Many life-times ago, in a land far-far away, known as the early 60's,  folk singers made us feel as if we could change the world.  

Half a century later, many, if not most, of us no longer believe.

Recent conversations with smart, positive, engaged and enlightened friends have shown me the depth of the dark shadow that hangs over us.  One friend facing new grandmotherhood, worries about the state of the world her new grandchild will face.  I remember those same feelings as my granddaughter entered the world three days after 9/11.  Another believes there are forces of evil conspiring to control the world.  And, every day, it starts to sound less crazy as the activities of shadow organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are brought into the light.**

THEY ARE RIGHT ...
  • Yes, there is a trash pile in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas.
  • Yes, there are billionaires and corporations willing to pour obscene amounts of money into controlling our democratic processes.
  • Yes, there are tribal hatreds that go back thousands of years that could rip holes in our gauzy fabric of peace.
  • Yes, stuff is being done to our food supply that we neither understand completely nor can comprehend its future effects.
  • Yes, the climate is changing and much of it can be related to our gluttonous cry, "More, please … NOW!"
  • Yes, hatred and exclusion seem to be increasingly part of our great religions.
  • Yes, our education system is broken and the people with answers are locked in old thought.
HOWEVER … 
  • When we focus on the shadow, we miss the light.
  • When we stop believing, we give away our power.
  • When we take a pill to go to sleep (whether it's Ambien, food, alcohol or television), we no longer dream.
  • When we accept lies, greed, dishonesty and pre-digested pablum, we enable the shadow.
  • When we forget the great challenges our ancestors faced and survived, we feel weak.
  • When we ignore the great gifts of life, we accept death.
  • When we give up, our children, grandchildren and their futures are lost.
A great many of us are entering the era of retirement.  Can we afford to make that a time of retreat?  

We started out on this journey as young idealists who wanted the world to be a better place.  A lot of hard blows came our way:  Martin, Bobby and John … Vietnam … as well as all the little dents of normal living.  Surely, we gained some wisdom along the way.  Wisdom that could be poured lovingly and wisely like warm molasses onto our wounded world.

Rumi says "the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. don’t go back to sleep."

The world needs us … don't go back to sleep.  Samuel Jackson in a recent political video says, "Wake the Fuck Up!"  Good advice even beyond the world of politics.  

If every one of us who once believed that we could help make the world a better place, began again to add our voices, our talents, our intelligence, our wisdom, and our open hearts to the forces of good, truth and beauty, maybe ... just maybe ... we would accomplish some of the great things we dreamed about in our youth. 

 And, maybe that could be the legacy of our generation.  I'm signing up to this call.  I am ready to Wake the Fuck Up!

* from Merry Little Minuet, it came straight from the “Hungry i” cafĂ© in San Francisco, a “mecca” of folk music in the late 1950’s. Performed by the Kingston Trio, it was song-writer Sheldon Harnick’s tribute to the troubles and tensions of the world.



About this Image:  Both/And Call

This is an ancient and universal symbol of balance and the interaction of light and shadow.  Within the darkness is a seed of light; within light is a seed of darkness.  Words remind us that it is our actions that bring forth the seeds of new realities.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Found Art Life

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp entered an art piece titled, "Fountain" into the Society of Independent Artists show.   The piece was a common urinal that Duchamp had purchased from a local hardware store.  The show committee insisted that Fountain was not art, and rejected it from the show causing an uproar amongst the Dadaists, and leading to Duchamp's resignation from the board of the Independent Artists.

Perhaps, most importantly, Duchamp's "Fountain" left us with the question of "what is art?" … a question with a thousand answers and little consensus.

Duchamp's urinal was an early example of "found art" -- finding beauty, meaning or inspiration from ordinary things, often things left behind or discarded after serving a previous use.  Found art has become a favorite media for sculptors, jewelry makers and even photographers and painters.  

I was never into found art so I walked through most of my life scorning junk stores, garage sales and places where discarded and used up items go to die.  I've moved so often that carting around a bunch of stuff that had no immediate use wasn't very practical.  That began to change when I realized I could take pictures of interesting stuff and not actually have to pack it on my back from place to place.  

But, when I began to do mosaics, photographs were no longer enough … I needed the physical stuff and everything started calling to me … broken plates, old light fixtures, rusty gizmos whose purpose I will never know.  Now I have a garage full of stuff and it's creeping into nooks and crannies everywhere.

Opening up to looking beyond the surface of something is an interesting experience.  Suddenly, everything looks different … everything has potential … everything matters.  Things begin to speak … calling me to play with them … suggesting new combinations … morphing and inspiring.

This morning it occurred to me that life is found art.  Stuff comes to us … some rusty and bent … some shiny and bright … and it's our choice as to whether we weave it into the tapestry of our lives … or toss it away … or even walk past it not recognizing its potential.  A great deal of the found art of our lives comes from people: family, friends, the quick sales interaction in a department store,  a fragment of conversation heard while walking down the street.  

When we begin to notice these fleeting moments … not as something immediately practical designed to serve us … but rather, as bits of bright glass and rusty parts that help us create a new work of art … our lives … we start to accept our role as artist … creator … of this experience called life.  Each work of art is unique and special, made up from what comes our way, what we notice along the way, what we find that inspires us and brings meaning into our lives.

About this image:  Brick Wall, Pearl Street Mall, Boulder

This found art wall reminds me that we can create art anywhere.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Scientific Method and Love: A Fable

Recently love knocked on the door and said, "Surprise! I'm back!"

While shocked and delighted to see my old friend, I was just a little wary.  I wanted to ask, "Where have you been?" and "Why did you go away?" and "Are you here to stay?"  But, I knew this slippery creature would only wriggle out of answering.  No pinning him down on a black and white chart, no cornering him in the square box of logic and reason.  

So I invited him in to tea and in a conversation that hopped from Einstein's Dreams to varieties of bamboo, from the Big Bang to the universal theory of toenail cells and from small towns to big art, a new thought was born.  All things being connected, love and science are not frenemies but soul mates on the same spiraling dance toward the universal.  

"It's all about the scientific method," my chipper friend offered.

When I asked, "How's that?" he only grinned, grabbed his hat and called, "Later gator."

Curious, but now forced to fall back on my old resources, I headed to Wikipedia and read:
"The chief characteristic which distinguishes a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false."
"Great!" I thought.  And how is one supposed to confirm or challenge something as misty as smoke … as ephemeral as this thing called love?   A dream offered a metaphorical way in … I saw a thousand tiny doors opening in my heart and through each door breathed an invitation, "Come … explore … share."  Following the trail of that metaphor, I created the following hypothesis … the starting point of "letting reality speak for itself" …

In the beginning, when two hearts connect, hundreds of tiny doors open allowing energy to flow back and forth.  A conversation of sight and sound is born, sometimes opening more doors as stories reveal shared connections, sometimes closing doors when the energy isn't strong enough to leap the gap from the doors of one heart to the doors of the other.   
As more doors open and the flow of energy brightens, touch flips a switch and a thousand more doors open and the flow of energetic connection becomes a two-way stream with the strength to carry hopes and dreams, secrets and fears.  Love strolls in and asks, "Shall we dance?" 
Sometimes we accept and more doors open as taste and smell amp up the conversation creating a bright, nourishing glow called "being in love."  Sometimes boulders in the stream divert the flow and it loses the strength to carry the energy both ways and doors begin to close, the stream slows, weakens and may even become a dry creek bed nourishing nothing. The connecting energy of love disappears.   
In the bright afternoon of the conversation, shadows often appear at one of the doors, pulling it closed and then charging around trying to shut the others in a fear-filled scramble of self-protection.  As the doors on one side shut, energy is lost, the conversation stutters.  Love gets stuck sitting on the bank and two hearts break.   
Unless … the stream is strong enough and it has been carefully cleared of rocks and boulders.   
Unless ... the conversation of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell has woven a tapestry of intimacy with golden threads of stories, laughter, shared values, hopes and dreams, acceptance of secrets and fears … a tapestry of safety and unconditional embrace that can be wrapped around the shadow.   
When that happens, love smiles and says, "until death parts us."

Later, my hoppy friend returned and asked, "Is there more tea?  With mint this time, please."

I told him my hypothesis and asked, "Is this how it works?"

He said, in his maddeningly mysterious way, "I guess you just have to try it out.  Have the conversation.  Remove the rocks and boulders.  Weave the tapestry.  See if it holds."

I just shook my head and passed the cookies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life Turns

In an eye blink … 
     On a dime … 
           In a heartbeat … 

Life turns a corner and you're in a new land and the moment before is gone.  Only the new present remains calling for awareness, engagement, respect.

Sometimes we recognize those turns the moment we make them … other times they slip in under our gaze, unnoticed and unseen until later when we wonder what happened and trace the new reality back to a word said at the right (or wrong) time, a decision to walk a new direction, or a choice as simple as wearing a bright color.  Sometimes they add up like grains of sand on a pile until one grain lands and everything shifts and reforms itself.

It's a process that continually fascinates me as I watch life shift … sometimes dramatically after a period of seemingly little change.  It makes me realize that everything is in constant flux even when it seems the same.  And, every moment deserves appreciation and notice … for in the next instance it could be ... will be ... gone.

About this image  Life Turns

This image came as I contemplated the ever-shifting, ever-changing nature of life. Starting with a road that wound through an aspen forest near Maroon Bells in Colorado which then called in an experimental image of lights on a ship cruising to Mexico.  These images seem to recognize their own connections that i can't see consciously but when I let them play, they seem to find their own way.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ginny's Garden

Over the past couple of years, I've met many artists and it's always fun and awe-inspiring to see their creativity in action.  Along the way, however, I've met four who seem to fall into a different category … one that I've been calling "extreme creatives" … people whose creativity is an unstoppable flood that gets channeled into their environment.  One well-known example is Watts Towers, created by one man, Simon Rodia over 34 years.  The artists I've met … all women … are not famous but they are each remarkable.

Last weekend, I visited Ginny Mancuso in Atascadero and saw her Enchanted Forest, an ever-changing work of art where Ginny wields a concrete-mixer the way most artists handle a brush.  She has created free form concrete stumps, walls, fountains and fantasy environments on the blank canvas of land she purchased in the 70s.  In this art-filled world, there is also an outdoor bathtub … not so unusual other than the fact that this one is fully functional and in a setting so inviting she could charge a fee that I would gladly pay for the privilege of bathing in that sanctuary.  

There's also an open air toilet … fully functional, an outdoor sleeping room, several outdoor sitting areas, tea party alcoves and a few dining areas.  After building her house, her contractor asked her why she bothered with the house and she replied that she needed some place to keep her stuff.

Everywhere you look, there are words, color, sparkle, fairies, dragons, and magic.  After visiting with Ginny and being invited to come back at night when it lights up (an offer I will definitely accept), I made a piece of art from her art garden.  I'll share that and just a couple of photos from her garden with the hope that they inspires you as much as they did me.