Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12: New food

December 12 New food. You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.



Not a new food, but a new restaurant.

I have several places I like to eat, though we don't eat out very often. My newest fave is "The Noodle House" in Asheville. Reasonable prices, fresh and interesting dishes, lots of choices without the ingredient that goes through rigor mortis first.

Sierra and I had a day in Asheville to ourselves recently. The Noodle House is a very small corner restaurant, snugged into a busy street. We blew in to an empty space, a warm haven from the cold and by the time we left it was packed with fellow travelers. The tofu is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the plum sauce is pure perfection and the soups warm you to the toes of your soul. Yum........




Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11: The best place

December 11 The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?





Malaprop's.

Malaprop's where I can get a real, ceramic mug of refillable, super-yummy coffee. Malaprop's where there are cozy corners to hide and read. Malaprop's where anti-Walmart stickers and other anti-establishment type posters abound. Malaprop's where the staff are as diverse as the customers, it's warm and inviting, they host many local authors (like Patti Digh!!) and I feel my spirit relax into the flow of books and conversation.

Yes, yes....Malaprop's is my favorite hide-out as of late.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10: Album of the year

December 10 Album of the year: What's rocking your world?




At first, I was thinking that I should pick something that was released this year....but then I realized the challenge is simply asking what rocked my world this year. So I go back to Bright Eyes. Again and again I listen to "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning". It inspires art and words and helps me deal with internal angst in ways nothing else can. Thank you Conor Oberst.

I feel understood,

Now I’m hunched over a typewriter
I guess you call that painting in a cave

I've found a kindred spirit,

I’ve been sleeping so strange at night
Side effects they don’t advertise
I’ve been sleeping so strange
With a head full of pesticide

and all my frustration with the world is captured oh, so, well.

But greed is a bottomless pit

And our freedom’s a joke
We’re just taking a piss
And the whole world must watch the sad comic display
If you’re still free start running away
Cause we’re coming for you!

Yes, even with James and U2 and Amy Steinberg and Tom Petty and David Bowie and Nirvana and even some Black Eyed Peas (and the list goes on and on)....I still find myself reaching for Bright Eyes most frequently. The last CD I got was at Christmas time, their new release for 2007 was Cassadega and I remember listening to it and thinking "Wow, Bright Eyes grew up". :)

There's still nothing quite like the folksy, haunting sound of Emmy Lou Harris backing up Conor;

We are nowhere, and it’s now
You took a ten-minute dream in the passengers seat
While the world it was flying by
I haven’t been gone very long
But it feels like a lifetime




Wednesday, December 09, 2009

December 9: Challenge.

December 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?





There are many things I could write about here, but I'm going to keep this simple and not delve into the difficult stuff....like how I'm still learning to let go of people who are willing to use me or my talents and not be honest or decent. How I tend to assume the best in people and believe their words even when their actions don't back up the words. But I won't....

Because a really fun thing that helped me grow so much as an artist this year is body painting. I've done several shoots now and helped put together a very successful body art show. I love creating art on the human canvas and as my confidence grows, so do my ideas and abilities.

Look out 2010! You are my year.....


December 8: Moment of peace

December 8 Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?


A moment of peace is a great way to describe how I get centered. Because I'm not the most peaceful person.....I thrive on energy, on movement and being busy and having several projects at once. Though peace can be found in the busyness as I've learned.

I find peace in my children's play, in the way they interact and find joy in their own lives. As the observer of their living and learning I find many moments of reflection and peace, a Zen state of mind and an awareness of my own connections in those moments.







I find peace in cozy bookstores corners, alone and with others. Quiet books and sips of coffee are a good place for peace to reside.




I find it in my drives to Asheville as I go up and over the mountains, in and out of sunshine and clouds, through memories and dreams.




I find peace in the documentation of life, in my writing, art and photography. I love to see life through different lenses and try to capture moods, ideas and moments. That is my practice, that is my constant and my moments of peace.

Monday, December 07, 2009

December 7: Blog find of the year

December 7 Blog find of the year: That gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

I can't really write about this without mentioning Patti Digh's 37 Days blog, even though I found it three years ago. I began my online relationship with her blog in '06, and spoke with her about death and the ongoing relationship of those who are no longer with us. In Forever Hold Your Penguin Dear she touched me deeply and I responded with my own blog about death and the dying process; On Living and Dying.

I don't have much time to keep up with blogs anymore. I love blogs and posting to my own but with work and other distractions I don't get to sit and read enough.

I'm going to give kudos to my friend Frank's blog, "Blog of the Zombie Princess" because he's funny and cynical (traits I admire) and smart and he has a really, really awesome family who are every bit as lovely as he and he's doing this damn December challenge with me. That's all. OH, and his blog is named after their ship which was harbored in N'awlins for some time. They understand the South and the Gulf and hurricane season and for that alone I have an affinity for them.

Correction: Ronnie's (Frank's witty and lovely wife) blog is "Blog of the Zombie Princess" and Frank's is "Singularity".

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December 6: Workshop or conference

December 6 Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?


Life is Good in Vancouver Washington, where I both attended and presented. I learn so much every time I get together with other unschoolers, not from the talks so much but from being present with the children and from discussions that flow around and through and over me.



My children continually help me learn how to stay present, stay connected even in the difficult moments. At conferences there is a lot of noise, fun and spontaneous ideas that swirl up. There are also overwhelmed people and negotiating and trying to simultaneously meet a variety of needs. It's not easy at times.



Being around other unschoolers helps me examine things more deeply, go beyond the surface and not rely on the tools I learned growing up. At Life is Good I got to listen to my nephew (who has chosen school) speak for the first time publicly. As the person who first encouraged my sis to look beyond school it warmed my heart to hear him share his journey as an unschooler. I learned more about him as a young man choosing his path, sharing his ideas.



I learn from watching the teens interact, share their stories and talk about their parents. I learn from the parents sharing their fears and talk about their children. I learn about myself and the depths to which I can grow as a parent. I love being around groups of unschoolers for these and many other reasons.

I also learn that I get overwhelmed easily at these events, that I sometimes try too hard and don't know when to hide. I am reminded that connecting to my own needs is important too....and that my children need me more than the rest of the world ever could. :)

Life IS good!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

December 4: Book


December 4 Book. What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?


Last year, I was sitting outside of Malaprops waiting for friends. It was post-Live and Learn conference and we were hanging out with people, wandering Asheville and having fun. I sat in front, pondering some deep things about life and relationships and other unmentionable things when I looked straight into the front window of the book store.

There it was. Patti Digh's "Life is a Verb" on display right up front. The cover was artful and everything I thought it would be. I had read her lovely blog for a while and knew there was a book coming, but something about the timing and seeing it there in front of me was like a very loud message to my heart.

I sat in front of Malaprops and started to cry. It was bringing up all these feelings about my own writing and having ignored too many dreams for too long. It was a wake-up call before I even opened a page.

Later, Patti came to our ARGH gathering at Roan Mountain in March and I finally bought the book. It's full of wisdom and inspiration, art and colorful, heartfelt stories. After her reading and signing at Roan mountain I came home and blogged about things it stirred up.

I've purchased copies for two of my sisters and one for a stranger. I don't know who that stranger is and I'll probably never know....I just asked the folks at Malaprops to give it to the next person who asked about her book. I hope they love it as much as I do.:) I've got more copies to give away, it's just that kind of book.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December 3: Article



December 3
Article. What's an article that you read that blew you away? That you shared with all your friends. That you Delicious'd and reference throughout the year.

Not one article, but several by the same person. Peter Gray is quite brilliant if you ask me (and come to think of it, you DID) and he's written so many great articles now, I don't even know which one I love the most. His blog, Freedom to Learn is even close to the name of one of my other blogs.

Seven Sins of Our System of Forced Education is one of the top, but go check them all out. He's a psychologist and truly interested in how children learn naturally and the importance of play, topics near and dear to my own heart.

Speaking of which, I've been posting my old articles written for Connections Ezine over at my Learning in Freedom blog.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

December 2: Restaurant moment

It started with noise and running amuck on the streets...shadowy memories following us under the streetlight's glare.




And ended at Mid-City grill in warmth of kindred spirits, happy children and an endless stream of food.



~~December 2 Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?~~

There was a night of visiting friends in September. The Traaseth's had come up from Georgia and we met up with lots of other friends down at First Friday in Johnson City. After traipsing around downtown, laughing, talking, wandering in and out of art and music, some of us headed for Mid-City grill.

This is a late-night place. An artsy, eclectic gathering place that opens at 11pm and stays open all night. They have a casual, yet inspirational menu; things like deconstructed veggie burgers, handmade fries and ample flavors of cheesecake.

There were three families in all (Traaseth, Bowman and Allen), eight children and six adults that expanded over two tables. I remember laughing so hard my gut ached. When they brought the $3.50 plate of fries we all just about keeled over. It was a dinner plate (large one at that) mounded high with fries. Enough for, oh, about FIVE people.

What is joy? A group of people who have bonded together like family. Children who adore each other and sit at a table of mounded, late-night fries, smiling at one another's humor and helping each other when challenges arise. Joy you say? Crass jokes and smart-ass comments, off-beat humor and intimate stories. Food shared and discussed, plans made and re-made. Friends like family....eating cheesecake at midnight.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Best of '09: Dec. 1st

Ren, posing with Richard Kind at "Night of 100 Stars" in the famous Beverly Hills Hotel.


I signed up for Gwen Bell's "The Best of 2009" challenge today. I'll be picking and choosing which prompts I want to answer...we'll see how many ways I can summarize 2009 before it's over. :)

Today's prompt: December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

Without a doubt it was my trip to Hollywood on Oscar weekend in February! Not that it was all glamorous and fun but there were so many cool things that came of it and great memories we brought home. I wrote about some if it over at my Learning in Freedom blog so I'm not going to write about it again. Just go check out "My Big Fat Hollywood Weekend" post if you care.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday poetry


Stanley Kunitz is one of my favorite poets. This one really hit home tonight.


The Layers

By Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written,
I am not done with my changes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Full Moon




Dreaming of feathers and flight,
238,857 miles beneath
cratered satellite,
laying open night's cloak,
revealing every leaf
spinning in tree
visions,
as she pulls back
and inward
and through
to dance
before the winter-trance.

Dreaming of flight and feathers,
so many miles beneath
Peary's eternal light.
Sleep dreams colliding with
awake dreams
as waxing breaks through to full.
Full of awakening to your pain,
full of awakening to your voice,
the full cycling round
and round
again
to new.

*Computer art rendered by Sierra Allen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet "Wild and Precious"

Inspired by the same train of thought that caused me to write the last post, I created "wild and precious"...she's still in process.

Speaking of process sometimes I forget to document it. To me, art is all about process rather than outcome. It's about getting lost in the process, about experimenting with process and not holding onto what you think a piece should be.

Allowing the art to take on a life of it's own frees you from certain disappointment. The images in my head never come out the way I imagine. More importantly, they are living things...beings that help me learn more about what Zen really means. In that spirit, I share today's process:




She began on a 16x20 sheet of 140# watercolor paper. I now remember why I detest 140# paper and long for that luscious 300# instead. After sketching the basic outline I started filling her in with Rembrandt pastel chalks. U2 is playing;

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk away
Into the night
And through the rain
Into the half-light
And through the flame



Detailing with the chalks...bringing in shadow and darkness to bring out the light.

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day


Next is a layer of watercolor to fill in the background colors. I discover that most of the Grumbacher watercolors that belonged to my great-grandmother are completely dried in the tube. I set them aside for cutting open later. I feel a pang of grief for the reminder of her story having been finished.

To let it go! And so fade away
To let it go!
And so fade away
I'm wide awake
I'm wide awake
Wide awake
I'm not sleeping, oh no



Then it's the repeated layering of Neopastels, chalks, pencils and watercolor. I'm also remembering why I adore Rembrandt pastels once again....the pastels my mother purchased for me in high school. Yes, they're over 20 years old and work brilliantly. Another pang of remembrance for another human I miss.

If you should ask then maybe they'd
Tell you what I would say
True colors fly in blue and black
Blue silken sky and burning flag
Colors crash, collide in blood shot eyes



She's finished for today. Walking away is so hard. 140# paper can only handle so much manipulation and water before it's overworked though. Once it's dry I can layer more color and detail in.

This desparation
Dislocation
Separation
Condemnation
Revelation
In temptation
Isolation
Desolation




Detail shot of today's finished work. I feel free...a weight lifted. That's what happens when art and words get out. I wonder what happens to people who have art and words and don't get them out. I think I would lose something vital to my existence. This post belies the true process. Because it's filled with tea breaks, fixing food for children, watching someone play a video game, becoming frustrated with color and walking away, going outside to walk the garden briefly and sigh at the mess it's become. Our processes are uniquely our own. A single post can not contain the truth of it all or the multiple songs that played in my art room and in my mind.

Find your process...be with it, whatever it is. In the color and words I find release.

To let it go, oh No
And so fade away
I'm wide awake



Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition” ~~ Graham Greene

Wild and precious....


A one-way ticket to the grave. That's what we all have. I wrote about it at one of my unschooling lists and then the thought really settled in. Parents of younger children often worry about college, worry about what their children are learning, worry, worry. I understand those heartstrings being pulled so tight you want everything to be perfect for your child. I do.

But I no longer relate to the worry. I no longer understand why college matters so much to some people or judging someone on the kind of job they choose to hold. I don't care if my child makes good money or chooses to drive or not. We've got a one-way pass to the grave people. A pass that can be re-called at any time. In the words of Mary Oliver; "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

One wild and precious life. One planet filled with people who don't think like me, places I've never seen or imagined and enough mysteries to keep me enchanted for always. There are miseries we like to look away from, starving children and wars and genocide that render such a helpless feeling. Right here under my feet there is earth to till and above me stars to inspire awe. There are children who need parents and trees that need saving. There is more here than we can take in. And people are worried about college?

The product-driven society in which we live causes people to look for end results. One must graduate with good grades, get into a worthy college and then the carrots just keep being dangled from there. People are looking for measured "success", for those marks that mean you're better than someone else. It's all a big mess of competition with no real end in sight. But the end is there even though it's not about success or grades or that "good" job. The end is death.

Parents worry about college, they worry about grades, they worry about what they're child is learning...forgetting all the while that in the life they've spawned they've also spawned a death. The end result of your parenting is death. The end result of your child's ambitions, of your own is the grave. That's it.

The great part is that realizing this can be incredibly freeing. If death is the final result of all your efforts, of your child's efforts, then why not do the things you truly find exhilarating? Why waste your time worrying about things that don't matter in the bigger scheme? Why choose worry when your wild and precious life is being used up?

It isn't that college is a less worthy choice, it very well may be a choice that is best for someone. The point is that we choose what matters most and with such a wild and wonderful world available, every one of us should be choosing things that make us content, that make us feel whole and inspired. Every one of us should hold that pass to the grave in front of our hearts and minds as the impetus for no-fear. There is but one end result for all of us. But between the time you get handed that pass and the time it is re-called, there are many possibilities....many paths, many outcomes, many stories waiting for us to create them.

For parents, that in-between time can be spent building rich connections with the world around us. As our children travel with us, we can be inspired so they can see what inspired people act like. We can focus on respectful,healthy relationships and being curious about the very community in which we choose to live.

We can choose every single day to approach this gift with awe, to approach ourselves and our own lives with interest. Our children can see what passionate, interesting people look like. I want to fill up my days with good memories, great conversations, laughter, hand-holding, questions and cuddles. Not worry about some imagined future. There is no time for that. My pass might expire at any time and baby, I've got stories to create! How are you using your "one wild and precious life"?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The road not taken



I stand over the stove, as clouds of cream swirl their way through spicy Tazo Chai. Beige, tan, cumulus cloud of cream wends it's way into drink, echoing the spiraling ribbon of thoughts meandering through my just-awake mind.

A black-capped chickadee delights in the newly-filled bird feeder just out the morning window. Tea and birds, one constant in this life. Loving where you've landed doesn't mean you stop questioning, stop pondering the forks in the road not taken. We change our lives in seemingly benign choices, like making tea.

People live or die and thousands of lives are indelibly altered based on decisions about where to drive today, when to have sex, who to discuss these things with and whether to buy that pair of BCBG shoes. It's always those tiniest of choices that hindsight allows you to see as pivotal moments.

I wonder often about where choices might lead, might have led. I wonder about the people we chose not to be with for whatever reasons existed in the past and whether the fork in the path might again diverge upon today. Whether the best choice of the past is the best choice still. I tend to stay with things longer than is helpful. This much I know. Yet it takes a friend to point it out again.

I wonder too, about whether forgiveness means healing. People told me so. I don't know that I believe it. There's a release for certain. But some wounds are deep and forgiveness is simply letting go, it doesn't stop the scar from forming. Scars are a form of healing but there it is, with you for life. Different and raised up, something you don't erase.

How many times have I chosen the less messy path, the safe path? As if there really is a safe path in this life.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Old stuff

I wrote the following essay in fall of 2006. I didn't feel capable of sharing it then but here it is....three years later. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Dad called this week. I haven’t talked to him in a very long time. Can’t bring myself to call for some reason. I listen to the message, thinking it would be nice to chat with him, but I just don’t want to…there is some resistance within.

Driving to work today, feeling a bit down already about money issues and relationship issues and just general life stuff, a Nickelback song comes on. It’s called “Photograph” and it takes me back into my past in a very real way. This line especially:

“Every memory of looking out the back door
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It's hard to say it,
time to say it
Goodbye goodbye
Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for “


And I realized what the resistance is. Talking to Dad is a reminder of what I don’t have anymore. A reminder that everything in life I trusted as a child, is pretty much gone. The beliefs that were ingrained in me…gone. My mother….gone. Having family nearby at all times….gone. The house I lived in through high school was sold last month, my Dad and Stepmom are living in their RV and traveling. The anchor of a hometown and family is floating about, more of an idea than a reality for me.

The song was playing and I started thinking back to high school and the goodbyes I said before it was time. Kathy, Bill, Dennis, Eric…names of those that died my very strange senior year. Kathy was only an aquaintance, but her face has stayed with me, longer than many of my friends. She was murdered one night, taken from the parking lot of our school. Stacey and I were hanging out and drove right past school that very night…oblivious to the unfolding events. Kathy never got to live many of the dreams I have. She never had children of her own, never got to graduate or move away from home. She remains an image to me, of a pretty girl down the hall, putting on her brown leather jacket after school, smiling to everyone and speaking softly. Life became fragile that year. We felt adrift and alone, a band of prisoners that nobody really understood. School does that to people. Kathy’s death drove the message home.

I think about her every so often, like when that song plays on the radio. She is the symbol of “goodbye” for me, the symbol of how fleeting life is and the unknown events that play out in each of our dramas. I believe there is a place in each of us that desires the kind of security we can never have in this journey. A place that wants to know something is sure. But nothing is. The only constant is change. All that we know today, may be different tomorrow and will most definitely be different if we live long enough.

We will lose people we love. We will have goodbyes that need to be said. How well or how poorly we navigate these changes is the only thing we have control over. Letting go is an art form. I’m still learning to perfect it. Apparently I’m not doing as well as I thought…since talking to my Dad brings up resistance that is hard to understand. I have a good relationship with him. He is kind and supportive. It’s not like I have a good reason to avoid him. I think I’m just avoiding anything that reminds me of loss right now, anything that makes me feel more fragile than I already do.

Markus and I have dealt with some pretty big goodbyes, even in our relationship. I feel like so many things have happened that I’ve learned to ignore some of my emotions. Stuff them down, turn them off. Pretend I don’t care when I really do. I know it’s temporary and tomorrow I might feel differently. But for right now, I just need to feel sad for the past I can never have again. I need to open my heart to all the Kathy’s of the world that never got a chance, I need to connect with the positive parts of my life that will never be again.
I need to grieve.

I’ve been missing my Mom more every year. It’s supposed to get better, but it doesn’t. There are questions I need to ask her, so many ideas and thoughts I have to process on my own. Her own writings that I seek to interpret and understand. So many pieces of the puzzle that made me understand her better, and so many that I can’t fill in. I thought there would be more time. There’s never enough of that.

Loss is a powerful issue to face in this life. No matter who we are, or what status we hold, there is one guarantee…that we will face loss at some point. The grief that ensues can rend us powerless, gripped in emotions that are nearly impossible to define and physical pain that grips so tightly it feels as though it will suffocate. Coping isn’t on the horizon, yet cope we must. For we will face this again most likely, and again, and again. Growing old doesn’t scare me. Saying goodbye more is the thing I fear. I’ve already said goodbye more than I ever wanted to…but it will continue. Knowing that it’s part of birth and rebirth, part of the cycle we all entered at conception, does not help assuage my sadness. It just is.

I feel like I’m losing parts of myself, through the goodbyes. I had places that were sacred to me I can no longer access, people I loved I can no longer access, (sometimes I still want to reach for the phone to call my Mom) and events that will never be again. We all have those hollow places, those unreachable bits. I carve my space within that grief in order to feel more deeply. The sadness allows me to feel more joy…to feel MORE. In feeling more, I am more fully alive. So I grieve, I rage, I cry, I laugh and shout and I keep living, filling the hollow parts with more life.

I’ve tempered my passions all too often, for the sake of conformity, for the sake of not looking too crazy. To hell with it. I’m not going to worry about other people’s sensibilities (or lack thereof), that’s their issue. I am Ren. I am strong and weak and passionate and angry and deliriously joyful. I make big messes and colorful places. I am too quick to speak and slow to listen, but I’m pretty sure I love more deeply than most. I cry for the past sometimes, and even for the future, but I live for the moment. I’m pretty sure I’ll die disorganized, but definitely not unfulfilled.

Sometimes I just want to sit with a cloves and some rum, forgetting what it feels like to sorrow…sometimes I meditate instead. White sage or cloves? Which smoke will help more at the moment? Drifting smoke seems to wend it’s way between worlds, giving me a chance to feel spirit. Whatever form it is, matters not. Tonight I sit with Enya and kids, unable to fulfill the part that wants heavy metal and a run in the dark. Instead, I kiss a sweaty forehead, and listen to the shouts of angry siblings.

I curse the fact that I can’t sit here and write, uninterrupted and thank the universe for hearts that still beat. At least they’re alive to be pissed at each other.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

More too much...



I was sitting here just now, listening to Pandora while sorting and trying to make sense of which clutter is important (none of it, not really) and which is willing to take a journey with someone else now. This 10,000 Maniacs song is playing and it relates so well to my last post I looked up the lyrics. Here's my favorite line:

~Spare me? dont spare me anything troubling.
Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and you worries.
Speak to me and let our words build a shelter from the storm.
Lastly, let me know what I can mend.
Theres more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see.
Trust is what Im offering if you trouble me.~

Sweet darkness, shared with a caring soul is better salve than sweet words with little meaning because someone feared "negative energy".  Shared fears, shared weaknesses and dark parts are a humbling and enlightening experience. It's very different than "negative". I guess it's all how we frame it....growing and learning through the tears or letting it stop us dead in our tracks and give us excuses to not be joyful, to quit pursuing that which we love.

Troubles are part of life. Sharing them is part of friendship. Moving forward in spite of the difficulties is true strength.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Too much sugar


There are those who seethe light and joy at all times.
They, who are truly afraid.
More afraid than most.
Because they can't look darkness in the eye.
They can't admit it's pulsing right under their skin.

Yin-yang, dark-light, beautiful-ugly.
The yin-yang of me beats in my chest in my heart
and soul right down to my toes.
It is darkness and light.
How can one truly see light if they refuse the dark?
If they refuse the wholeness of themselves?
wholeness
whole
holeness
hole
One little "w" changes it all. Wholeness-darkness.
Can not refuse the ugly.
It allows that pulse, embraces it, loves beauty in dark
points of light, rays of light, shadows in sunshine

You, who are human, you who are afraid, who yearn, who dream, who feel unfulfilled and relentless and aching at times. You, who feel joy and angst and longing and desire and peace. You, who are whole...
don't be afraid of the angst and longing and desire and peace,
be afraid to ignore any of it.

Feel sad for those who seem to dwell only in light,
for they are only denying self,
denying whole,
denying connection
creating dishonesty.

Be bold, be truthful
the closer we are to honesty,
the deeper it cuts
Be bold, be honest
your voice is needed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunrise decomposed

Strange dreams made me restless last night. I awoke in the dark, unable to sleep. Did some a Kundalini meditation which made me feel better but no more capable of sleep. Mind racing, I finally recognize the futility and decide to take advantage of a sunrise for once.





The house was quiet at 6:30am...the most subtle wash of light beginning to creep in as I padded upstairs to make tea. I slip outside unnoticed and alone. Sitting on the front porch I heard the low moan of a passing train. It's a sad sound that gypsy siren, metal on metal screeching through the rumbling, reaching 1.5 miles down Old Embreeville road to my waking ears.





Crickets kept the rhythm as a mourning dove poured her heart out. The whole world seems to gently unfold in the early hours, noises becoming more intense along with the spreading light. Warm tea pushed back the morning damp and cool. I raised my mug in silent cheer to passing cars-fellow travelers- hoping they were driving to something they enjoy. Something nourishing to the spirit.





There was a fine mist rising up from the field across the street. As I sat and pondered my current state of being I wondered where the road map went. Adults seemed to know exactly what was right or wrong when I was a child. They seemed to have all the answers for everyone. I've chosen a life for which I was given no map. I'm facing changes I don't have a clue how to navigate and it's really ok. Sometimes I just want to be handed the directions though.





I look down at my scarred feet and silently thank them for carrying me so many places, thank them for bringing me to the place I am now.





The light slowly filled up the morning sky and began spilling into my windows, warm and welcome taking away the edge of a restless night. Suma got his breakfast early, my cat the color of sunsets. He greets the day with much less intellect; human=canned food, sunshine=nap, life. is. good.




I sit wrapped up in my thoughts about children growing up and art and how a morning unfolds with all it's promises. I realize that I write in my head, I search for better words and descriptions to help me clarify what swirls around in muddy ripples. Without sitting down to put words to paper (or computer) it doesn't make me a better writer. It does make me a more interesting thinker I suppose.

"Now I'm hunched over a typewriter I guess you call that paintin' in
a cave
And there's a word I can't remember and a feeling I cannot escape"


Within those thoughts I recognize why I really write. I have to. Because it helps me think, it helps me understand myself, it helps me focus that muddy swirl. It doesn't matter if the words are worthy or if anyone else relates to them. They are for me and my journey. I need the words and the exercise of honing them. I need to pour out the words that tease and taunt me, that keep me from sleep. They must need me too because they are a constant.

"And now my ashtray's overflowing I'm still staring at a clean white page Oh and morning's at my window she is sending me to bed again"


Memories of a different time and place, of a restaurant in Pensacola with pita bread and baba ganoush come rushing in. I hear the words spoken so often "today is a new day". Sunrise is renewal, rebirth, new beginnings. It is sunrise whenever we choose to start new, to give ourselves permission to be in this moment without the baggage of perceived failures or mistakes of the past.

Today IS a new day, with all it's potential for beauty. Maybe I can be more like my cat and simply enjoy that sliver of sunshine because it's there.


Another Travelin' Song ~Bright Eyes
Well I'm changing all my strings
I'm gonna write another travelin' song about all the billion highways and the cities at the break of dawn I guess the best that I can do now is to pretend
that I've done nothing wrong
and to dream about a train that's gonna take me back
where I belong



Well now the ocean speaks and spits and I can hear it
from the interstate
and I'm screamin' at my brother
on a cellphone
he is far away
And I'm saying nothing in the past or future ever will feel like today until we're parking in an alley
just hoping that our shit is safe

So I go back and forth forever All my thoughts they come in pairs Oh I will, I won't, I doubt, I don't, I'm not surprised but I never feel quite prepared

Now I'm hunched over a typewriter I guess you call that paintin' in a cave
And there's a word I can't remember and a feeling
I cannot escape

And now my ashtray's overflowing I'm still staring at a clean white page Oh and morning's at my window she is sending me to bed again
Well I dream the dark on the horizon I dream the desert where the dead lay down
I dream a prostituted child touching an old man
in a fast food crown
Oh yeah, I dreamt this ship was sinkin'
there was people screaming all around

And I awoke to my alarm clock
it was a pop song it was playin' loud


So I will find my fears and face them or I will cower like a dog I will kick and scream or kneel and plead I'll fight like hell to hide that I've given up

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Earth and air




I've been pondering my earth and air traits that seem in opposition to each other at times....the incredibly strong appetite for exploring and doing and seeing everything and knowing everyone, balanced with the need for staying put and growing things and going within. The grounded earth energy with the airy wind energy. It seems crazy to have so much of both going on. But there they are.

It leads one to pursue such things as gardening, beekeeping and cooking..things that take time and roots and being still. Then there's art and fashion and makeup, things that take time and swirling here and there and movement. Head in the clouds, feet on the ground. But sometimes it's hard to figure out where to be and how much of the appetite to fulfill. Because the desires want to take me places that could destroy some of the other things that matter too.

So I drive with the windows of my truck down, wind blowing through and through, wondering what the view is like at 4500 feet. But instead of finding out, I drive home to people I love and leave the view for another day perhaps. I blast the music loud and wonder what it would be like to ignore responsiblity and societal taboo and just give in to the whims of the moment. I drive in the dark with the wind and wonder about these things.

I often blame the fact that I was born as a Taurus on the cusp of Gemini. Earth and wind. Venus and Mercury. Persistent and materialistic, imaginative and impulsive. How to tame the desires that one spirit can contain? Should we even try? I have no answers. Some nights when the truck windows are rolled down, the dark and the wind seem to call me down the road. Down the road to I-don't-know-where, or outside-over-there. The music and the dark and the wind....always tugging at my wild-child heart.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Where I'm from

I am from diamond willow, Pledge and an El Camino. I am from dresses with hidden pockets, Dippity-Do and "meetings".

I am from the orange and brown house on Farewell street that held the red striped couch, clean, warm, smelling of home cooked food.

I am from the spider plants, marigolds and a small yellow bird, strawberries, roses and smiling Mum in the sunflower house.

I am from Bidwells and Porters, strong women who divorced and ran hat shops before women did such things, an Auntie I'm named after, farmers, truckers, hard working hands and re-using everything because it was useful.

I am from the chaos of many people and noisy hub-bub of voices spilling late at night over whoosh of kerosene, creak of cabin floors and crackle of woodstove.

From "life isn't fair" and "do it right the first time" and singing "Tell Me the Story of Jesus", (hymn #1 because it was our favorite).

I am from a cultish group that calls themselves "the friends" and "the truth". A community filled with friendship and untruth.

I'm from the land of the midnight sun, the hushed magic of Busby Island, hot cocoa time at Wasilla convention, lefsa and gingerbread with lemon sauce.

From the Uncle Danny who threw hard snowballs at cars when he was a boy and cracked my Grandpas windshield, the Dad who jumped out of a jeep to try and avoid trouble but got into more and the Mum who fell in love with my Dad when she was 16.

I am from stories. Stories of all these people I am part of, stories of the past and the future, stories of truth and fantasy. I am from "Koala Lou I Do Love You" the night my mother told it in public and dedicated it to me, from "Goodnight Moon", "Where The Wild Things Are" and "Robbie" stories made up by my Grame, recorded on cassette tapes and shipped from Seattle.

I am from boxes all jumbled with photos and memories, dusty hummels, shells and bones from Busby Island, a quilt of my mother's clothing created after she died which stays near me every night and a ball my Grandma Sally sewed for me as a baby. They hold more than you would know when you see the worn surfaces, more than I can tell in a lifetime.


Zenmomma posted her own "Where I'm from" which inspired this post. The original idea for this meme was inspired by a poem, you can learn more about it here. I did a couple slight tweaks, because I could.:)



Monday, July 06, 2009

Yellow bird

There's a Bright Eyes song that rattles around my brain some days; "did you forget your yellow bird?" asks Conner. I never forgot mine.

It was my birthday, I believe it was my 6th. Only my Mum could confirm that fact and she's gone now, so I'll never know for sure. There were two boys from down the street who came. Boys I'd played with many times before. I didn't know they had cruel hearts but I found out that day.

We were playing outside mostly, it was a warm day for May 19th in Alaska. I came around the corner to the front of the house and there were all my friends in a circle around something. The two boys were kicking it delightfully. It was a small, yellow bird. I started screaming in terror. They were kicking a small, helpless creature and I was horrified. I remember yelling for them to stop, I felt helpless and alone. Like those dreams where you try to run but your feet don't work. They wouldn't stop and I didn't know how to make them.

My mother heard my screams and came running to the window. Her stern voice stopped them instantly but it was too late. I remember her sending them home, disgusted with their behavior. We scooped up the little bird and amidst my tears she gently led me to the backyard where we buried it under the stairs.

I don't know if I ever quit crying for that helpless creature, facing the brutality of boys that had probably faced it themselves. I carry that yellow bird with me today and the need to protect other such vulnerable creatures. There was a robin once too, that Mum made me take back to the place we found it. A baby that had fallen out of it's nest most likely.

I've always loved birds. They've always found me too. I've rescued many a bird since then, my most recent was last week. It was a yellow bird. I thought it was trying to get my attention away from a nest at first, acting hurt and hopping away. As I moved towards it (with the goal of finding the nest for observation) it became obvious that it really couldn't fly.

Knowing the neighbor cats would get it in a heartbeat, I scooped it up and made a temporary home for it in a tall bin. We fed it the customary black oil sunflower seeds that the goldfinches seem to love at our feeder and kept it dry and safe long enough to see if it would survive.

The idea was to transport it down to a wildlife rehab center, but each day that I checked on him he seemed better. I came to believe he was a fledgling that just needed a bit more time to gain strength. Time that the cats would not have given. Each day I got close enough to upset him so he'd try to fly, making sure he got exercise.

On the fifth day, he flew out the open garage door and into a tree. My yellow bird was gone, just like that. He stayed nearby most of that day, flying from tree to tree as if to show me how well he was doing. I wonder which of the goldfinches at my feeder he might be now.

There are no pictures of this bird, or the one that died when I was a small child. I don't believe there is any mystical connection, but it felt good to save a yellow bird for some reason.


"We are nowhere and it's now"
by Bright Eyes

If you hate the taste of wine
Why do you drink it till you're blind?
And if you swear that there's no truth and who cares
How come you say it like you're right?
Why are you scared to dream of God
When it's salvation that you want?
You see stars that are clear have been dead for years
But the idea just lives on...

In our wheels that roll around
As we move over the ground
And all day it seems we've been in between
A past and future town

We are nowhere and it's now
We are nowhere and it's now

And like a ten minute dream in the passenger's seat
While the world was flying by
I haven't been gone very long
But it feels like a lifetime

I've been sleeping so strange at night
Side effects they don't advertise
I've been sleeping so strange
With a head full of pesticide

I've got no plans and too much time
I feel too restless to unwind
I'm always lost in thought as I walk a block
To my favorite neon sign

Where the waitress looks concerned
But she never says a word
Just turns the jukebox on and we hum along
And I smile back at her

And my friend comes after work
When the features start to blur
She says these bars are filled with things that kill
By now you probably should have learned

Did you forget that yellow bird?
But how could you forget your yellow bird?
She took a small silver wreath and pinned it onto me
She said this one will bring you love
And I don't know if it's true
But I keep it for good luck

Friday, June 19, 2009

Serious artists....






Robert Genn sends out weekly emails about all things related to art and the art process. I especially loved today's gem and thought of several friends who might enjoy this as much as I did. The above drawings are by Sierra, who hasn't learned to compare herself to "serious artists" yet takes her art seriously.:)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Serious artist

June 19, 2009

Dear Ren,

I'm out here on a rocky Donegal foreland. Below, on
the beach, one of those smart-looking black-and-white
Irish farm dogs is running loose. With no master in sight,
the dog has a tennis ball she tosses in the air, chases and
sometimes catches. Hit or miss, each attempt is announced
with a joyful bark. She's telling me something: "Come on, Bob,
loosen up. Put joy into that stuff. Get a life. Don't take yourself
so seriously."

Everyone has heard of the "serious artist." The term
has a lot of different meanings. To a person who paints
only on Sundays, one who paints every day might be one.
An artist whose work is difficult to understand may consider
those who paint understandable things "not serious." On the
other hand, realistic artists sometimes consider modernists
to be only wanking the public and therefore not serious. Some
think serious artists are those who deal with serious subject
matter--poverty, war, politics, injustice, etc. Except for a bit
of irony once in a while, these folks don't generally think humour
has its place in art. You may know of artists who take themselves
so seriously they become significant hazards at dinner parties.

Hey, it's okay to be serious about honing technique,
learning the ropes and trying to understand the muse.

When I was younger and much more idealistic, I used
to worry I was not serious enough. In my studies,
I eventually got around to the critic Bernard Berenson
and was relieved by his idea that art ought to be life-enhancing
and not life-deprecating. I figured it was okay to please, both
myself and others. Anger and angst were just fine for anyone else.

Further, I've always thought that in an ideal state
people should do only what they love--perhaps an
impossible, hedonistic position. I'm sticking to it.
The pursuit of personal joy is serious business.

To experience joy one has to consider play. The British
writer G.K. Chesterton said, "Children's play is the most
serious thing." Unfortunately, age and accumulated wisdom
tend to interfere with play. It's a human condition. Or is it?

That dog down there is seriously immature, but she has
a wisdom that is worth looking into.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "We have an infinite number of reasons to be happy,
and a serious responsibility not to be serious."
(Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)

Esoterica: "God," said Voltaire, "is a comedian playing to
an audience too afraid to laugh." Obviously, some folks think
all this seriousness is a byproduct of a great cosmic joke.
And these little stretchy things--these canvases and the
stuff we mark them up with--are truncated playgrounds
of the human soul. In the end, it is we who can become the
master jokers. "It is not necessary for the public to know
whether I'm joking or whether I'm serious," said Salvador Dali,
"just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Stirring speech

This was posted by a friend at one of my local homeschooling lists. I'm re-posting it here in it's entirety, because I think it's that important.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


**Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class
of 2009 University of Portland , May 3rd, 2009.
Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur,
visionary environmental activist, and author of
many books, most recentlyBlessed Unrest:
How the Largest Movement in the World
Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming.
He was presented withan honorary doctorate of
humane letters by University president Father
Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., when he delivered this speech.


"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a
simple short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate,
lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." Boy, no pressure there.

But let's begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are
going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth
at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of
decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation - but not one
peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that
statement.

Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the
programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to
have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil,
or air, and don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the
thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship
earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on
one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no
need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food - but
all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive,
and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you
what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING.
The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school.
It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that
unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the
deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time
required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do
what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after
you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer
is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening
on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data.

But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the
lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse.
What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to
confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some
semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne
Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those
who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world." There could be no better description.

Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action
is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses,
companies, refugee camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and
organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate
change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation,
human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever
seen.

Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it
strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works
behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows
the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning
to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in
force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople,
rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk,
engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned
mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street
musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the
writer David James Duncan would say,the Creator, the One who loves us
all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the
Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true.
Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it
resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild,
recover, re-imagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you
had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their
bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the
profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the
evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of
strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific
eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create
a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did
not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on
behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown -
Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood - and their goal was
ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in
the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had
done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with
incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as
liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were
told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for
the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help
people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct
or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every
day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools,
social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of
companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their
strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in
history.

The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What
do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life
creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no
better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of
abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of
abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising
failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this:
we are the only species on this planet without full employment.
Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to
destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it.
You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't print life to
bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the
future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic
product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing
the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the
future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and
the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit
people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to
get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago,
and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally
you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses,
Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are
inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become
two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which
are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other
microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400
billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of
atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one
septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros
after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more
processes than there are stars in the universe - exactly what Charles
Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each
living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of
self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the
stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop
for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on
simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore
it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who
is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully
not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are
conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you
to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate
wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came
out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course.
The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic,
delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come
out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the
multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a
thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and
beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things
and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are
graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever
bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They
didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact
that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons
you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most
unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer.
Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful.
This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it."


"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." Joseph Campbell

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Post-Argh reflections



We had our spring gathering called "ARGH" (autodidactic radical gathering of homeschoolers) up at Roan Mountain earlier this month. One of the highlights was having author Patti Digh come do a book signing and reading during the gathering. She was most inspirational. Having loved her blog for a long time, it was a real treat to finally meet her and purchase her book "Life is a Verb".

For anyone that hasn't enjoyed her unique perspective and wisdom, check out her 37 days blog. You'll be glad you did. Be sure to purchase a copy of "Life is a Verb" too....it's worth far more than the pricetag!

The "polished sphere" is referring to Dorodango balls, something I am now fascinated with. She brought one to show us and I can't quit thinking about these amazing works of art.
I was sifting through all my thoughts after returning home and wrote the following, inspired by Patti and her book:


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




I sit here on my bed, orange cat purring before me, trying to ignore piles of laundry, papers with scrawled notes about returning the leased van and a stack of books falling loosely next to purring cat.

I am digesting my weekend in the mountains with friends, processing conversations, observations, mediations......that stuff we call growth. The need to analyze my behaviors,my judgments and reactions to life causes chatter in the brain. Chatter that is only pacified with pen and paper. I read the introduction from "Life is a Verb" in which Patti--wise sage that she is--urges us to write in the margins, reminding that "one longs to say something".

This purring cat before me, a denizen of my bed and basement, shares the same fate as I; a creature destined for finality, the grave. A creature living and dying at once, just as we all are.
Sharing that connection with him as a being marching forward to that final fate, makes me appreciate his silken fur even more. It helps me notice more clearly the joy he takes in the comfort of a bed and a human minion sitting nearby.

I decide that the purring cat curled up next to my stack of books with "Life is a Verb" on top is the simple image that captures all my thoughts at the moment. I pick up my camera, closing in on cat and book in order to block out laundry mess and scrawled papers, in order to show the pretty parts I want others to see.

Then it hits me, this is exctly where my pondering has brought me, to a place where I realize I must fully embrace the "silt" Patti talked about this weekend. Embrace it, cherish it, be comfortable with it's presence and be willing to share it.

The lense pulls back and there is the laundry again, the scrawled notes, the silt of life that is mine. All mine.

I've kept it out too often, pushing others back, not expressing my love fully, not investing enough. If life is a verb, then it's a messy one. I want to freeze-frame all of it. See it for the beautiful mess it is.

Some sit on the proverbial mountain top, pointing fingers, swathed in judgment, cloaking themselves in the illusion of perfection. But the mess of life demands that we expose the chinks if we are to fully experience all that IS.

We risk losing out on meaningful connections with our fellow travelers if perfection is what we seek, if being right matters more than simply BEing.

The sunshine today and my orange, purring cat remind me that the mundane is truly exquisite. There is nothing ordinary about this day. In the living and the dying at once, we hold an ethereal connection to all that was and all that ever will be. Sending out ripples of our existence into the vast, never sure of where they go or who may be affected.

The next 37 minutes, 37 hours or 37 days hold the possibility of embracing that perfect imperfection. The mud and silt of our lives may someday become a polished sphere, capable
of great reflection.

I want to open myself more to fully being vulnerable. I want to paint and draw and dance and talk and share and cry and ask and yell and whisper and create with utter abandon. Because life IS a verb, and so am I.