Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No revision here

What is a day but a day filled with moments, several, hundreds, thousands.  Moments to feel and taste and experience and hide from and fight and revel in.  I wipe my desk with a cloth, a colorful cloth with flowers and circles, and seek my moment, to feel it and wonder if this is the moment where something comes to me to write.  And it does like the rising of the sun in the morning, to bask me in words and feeling and memory and desire of what could possibly be.  I move into it and sit and write to you and no one at the same time.  Because, really, it doesn't matter who I write to just as long as I write.  It doesn't even necessarily matter if I make sense or wrench truth from my soul or anything just as long as I pull and let go and see what needs to be seen. 

And so I write, whether halting or flowing, I write.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Giant's Hammering Nails

Miss Lily woke with sunlight in her eyes and rain drops on her fingertips.  Bladed grass grazed her temples and a lump of dirt lodged itself between her second and third rib on her backside.  She sputtered a moment with the rain filling her mouth as she tried to breath, and she rolled on to her side and coughed.  The grass was a light green, fresh and new with spring, and a small, black beetle scurried up one grass blade toward the sunlight that shimmered in the rain.  She coughed again and then breath came sweet and with ease and she wondered why she laid on this grass with the sun-rain coming down.

She last remembered her home, with the windows wide open where a rustling breeze had blown in and stirred her papers on her desk.  She had been writing a story for her sister who laid still in bed.  A story about a girl who had long yellow pigtails and ate butterflies with toothpicks and liked to call angels fart-mouths.  The little girl wore purple and brown with pink polka-dots and had a dog named Larry.

The rain stopped now and the sun shone brighter and more heat radiated from its rays.  She rolled on her back and closed her eyes.  For some reason she wasn't eager to rise, to find out why she laid on spring grass with beetles walking. 

Miss Mary, her sister, wore a frown and played no more.  No, Miss Mary didn't have a chance of coming home or laying on grass with beetles.  But Miss Lily could lay here for her and sing tiny songs like fairies and pretend she had wings and could fly.  Fly, fly, fly away from here.

"Miss Lily, where are you?"

She opened her eyes and laid still like a fallen stick.  She knew the voice that called her, a kind voice from an evil woman.  The woman who hurt Miss Mary and wanted to hurt her.  Is that why she laid here, out of the house, far into the woods in a hidden meadow?

"Lily!  You show yourself right now!"  The woman shrieked and screamed, guttural like a wild wolf.

Miss Lily shivered and curled into a ball like the rollie-pollies her and Miss Mary liked to find in the dirt.  I could be a rollie-pollie, she thought.  I could scamper away on all my legs and live in the dirt and be free.  Miss Mary would want me to be free.

"Rollie-Pollie, Rollie-Pollie, I am you, you are me, we are free.  Rollie-Pollie, Rollie-Pollie, I am you, you are me, we are free," she said under her breath with her lips against the ground, again and again.

The evil woman's footsteps came louder and louder like giant's hammering nails and then she stood above her with hands on hips and cheeks red from movement.

"Lily, where are you?"

Miss Lily stayed ever so quiet.  She held her breath and knew the woman would see her at any moment, had to, for she laid at her feet, inches from the woman's boots.

But she didn't see her. 

The woman left, huffy and puffy, with hands still on her hips, shaking her head and yelling.  Why hadn't she seen her?  She was right here, in the bright sun.

She stared at her own hands which weren't hands any longer.  Rollie-Pollie she was and would be and so she was free.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A little joy, a little love, and a light heart

Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing.  Where am I going?

I'm sure most of us do.  I don't receive an answer, one I can put in my back pocket and take to the bank.  I receive more of a shrug of the shoulders and a mmmmm feeling and then I move on with what's in front of me.  For some reason I'm somewhat satisfied with the shrug and mmmmm feeling, at least for most of my days, and then I have days where my life settles deep and hard down into my bones and it feels like I could suffocate if I breathed too much.  Is this it?  Is this where the train stopped and I got off because I don't remember agreeing to this.  Can I trade my ticket in for another one, maybe one with a bit more financial security and a lot more free time?  Do those type of tickets even exist?

And then without much thought, I shrug and have the mmmmm feeling and move on with what's in front of me, somewhat content, with a little joy and a little love and a light heart. 

The outcomes of my life are not my main focus but the steps in between the outcomes are, where I show up on a daily basis and experience my life.  Regardless of monetary wealth or my ability to give myself all my "wants" I get exactly what I need at any given moment. 

Like last night, there is something sweet about popping popcorn and snuggling up on the couch with my boys and watching a movie, especially after a full day of being productive, taking care of life even though it didn't feel like it was taking care of me in the way I wanted.  My perception of what is can delude me at times into believing there's a conspiracy and it's all about me - I'm going to get the shaft and it will never get different.  I have found my delusions are never accurate. 

My delusions are filled with fear.  This fear manifests into various forms of destructive thought and action.  If I act upon deluded thoughts, I have the profound potential to completely change the overall structure and well-being of my entire existence and usually not for the best.

While doing some reading the other day I came across a quote, "pain is inevitable but suffering is not."  This tells me I will experience difficult and painful things in my life but the suffering because of it is optional.  I can choose how I want to respond to situations and difficulties today.  Difficult and painful situations are facts.  My suffering is an extension of delusion because suffering is not based on fact but a distorted form of it with various embellishments.  Suffering is not just feeling my feelings but a theatrical presentation of my feelings.

Take for example, the uncomfortable financial situation my family and I find ourselves in.  There's a part of me that wants to wallow in this, literally saturate myself with the unfairness of it all. 

Wallowing in my perceived unfairness, as if I'm so unique and better than others I should never experience anything uncomfortable or painful, doesn't get me anywhere.  I compound my difficulty by adding dramatic "woe is me" attitude to it.  By not wallowing in it, accepting it as a fact - yes, I have no money except for bills, food, and gas - I free myself from suffering.  This doesn't mean I won't have feelings - sadness, fear, anger, frustration, etc.  My suffering stems not from the feelings themselves but what I choose to do with the feelings when they come.

I begin by remembering where I'm at, physically in this moment.  I look at my hands before me and see where they lay and then I try to feel what they are feeling.  What are they touching?  What does that feel like against my fingertips, my palms?  Is it hot, cold, warm, smooth, textured?  This helps me to come back to my body.  My body is literally in this moment.  My mind, when emblazoned with fear, is not here.  It is in the future consumed with the fear of what's to come or what's not to come.

When I can feel what my body is doing right now I can bring my mind in alignment with my body.  Once my mind is here, I have to act quick because it wants to jump out ahead of me again and get lost in the future.  I ask myself basic questions.  Do I have shelter today?  Not tomorrow, only today.  Do I have food today?  Do I have gas in my car today?  What do I have in my life today?  Oh, well let's see, I have shelter, food, gas in my car, love in my life, friends and family, my house is warm, my telephone works.  Can I go out and buy new clothes?  No, but do I have clothes to wear?  Why yes, I do.

This helps me to be here in this moment and cultivate gratitude.  Do I want things to be different?  Sure I do.  But it's not different in this moment.  It is what it is and I have my basic needs met.  Are there things I can do to help my situation?  Sure, I have a list of things, and I'm working on them.  But in the meantime, while I work on things to help my situation, I practice staying with my body and having gratitude for this moment, that all my basic needs are met and I have love in my life today.

So I shrug my shoulders and have the mmmmm feeling and move on with what's in front of me, somewhat content, with a little joy and a little love and a light heart.

Monday, March 5, 2012

All with a little courtesy

Frequently, I hear my two small boys tell me all kinds of reasons why they need to punch each other or trip each other or take each others toys.  It's always the other one's fault and there was no discussing it because the other one should have known.  Mind reading is what I assume they are talking about.

I used to think similarly.  It was always your fault and if you loved me enough or liked me enough or even just knew me for more than three seconds you should know what I need, think, and feel.  I never communicated any of this with anyone because, obviously, it wasn't needed because you were a mind reader or at least you should be and if you weren't, there was something lacking in you, not me.

I've learned otherwise, gratefully.

I have found regardless of how much fault is yours, I have my own which is where my responsibility lies, the only thing I can truly change, and you are not a mind reader because neither am I.  If I want you to know my needs, thoughts, and feelings, I have to communicate them to you.  Imagine.

Another thing I've learned, which is extremely beneficial, is it is helpful if I communicate with courtesy.  I have a much easier time of it.

For example, both children come to me with alligator tears and loud explanations on why it's brothers fault.  I listen and then ask simple questions.  They don't like my simple questions because they want to tell me their sad stories with all the right dramatics and convince me of their unfortunate lot in life.  I'm more about getting the facts of the situation and setting the emotions to the side for the moment.  Emotions are important - they need to be felt and known, but they can also be misleading, primarily because they are personal to the person feeling them, they are bias by nature.  Emotions will never give me the full picture.  I need the facts, to be informed, how else can I make an informed decision?

The boys do give me the facts, haltingly of course, because they already know what they've done and know the truth.  They just don't want to see it because they want what they want.  And then we talk about what could have been done differently, mostly communicating with one another with courtesy, of course.  I remind them they are learning and they'll get it, it just takes practice.  I even admit I am still learning, practicing how to "play well with others" because sometimes I don't want to.  Because, sometimes, I just want what I want too.  We smile and laugh about it and move on, practicing our new tools we picked up which we'll set down later to pick up again.

For me to communicate with others, especially with courtesy, I have to set aside what I "want" and be willing to listen, to weigh and consider, to respect the interchange of two people having a discussion.  I have to be honest with myself, which is a whole other topic for another day, and know what I need not just what I want.  I've learned I don't have the right to be mad when someone doesn't accommodate my request, if I've made one.  Their answer is only information after all.  I always have other choices to look at, a plan B to implement.  Where I can get stuck is in not wanting to look at my other choices because the other choices are uncomfortable or scary and it would be easier if the other person would just change or do it differently, so I wouldn't have to.

I figured out several years ago, gratefully with the help of some good friends, I had nothing to lose by trying new communication skills, so I tried them, and low and behold they worked.  I used to try and convince others of my plans for their lives or how they needed to present themselves to me in my life, and I always had a heck of a time with it.  I wanted good relationships with others, to be understood, to be listened to, to be loved by someone I loved, to be honored.  I rarely, if ever, received such blessings.  And why would I?  I wasn't willing to give the same back.  I really didn't want to understand anyone else, but I sure wanted them to understand me.  I really didn't want to listen to someone else or to honor them, but I sure wanted what I obviously couldn't give.

And love?  Did I ever really love anyone?

I did to the extent that I could, but I could never move deeper or stick with it because I was too busy squeezing the life out of it with my death grip because I was certain they would leave me for some reason or another.

My answer was the opposite of what my fear told me.

I needed to give what I so desperately wanted, and I needed to give it without demand.  And the first person I had to begin with was me.  I had to honor myself, to love myself - truly love myself - and then I could give something worth giving.  A paradox of sorts and one where there is a fine line between self-respect and self-indulgence and yet the answer is there if I'm honest.  Honesty is not an easy word or an easy concept to live by, but it's real and it's worth it.

If I create an environment within myself where I can grow and love and be myself, I can take that out into the world and give it to others.  I can communicate with courtesy because I'm not consumed with fear: fear of what you think of me, fear of what might happen, fear of never being loved, fear of being inadequate, fear of being unlovable.  To grow and love and be myself requires me to be honest with myself, to know myself as I am and be accepting of that and be willing to move toward what I could and can always be.

My boys still battle things out sometimes but in the middle I've heard them work it out, communicate with courtesy, mend their own damage, and move on with one another with laughter and joy.  Their ability to communicate with each other began with me communicating with them which began with someone communicating with me, all with a little courtesy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Early Morning Willingness

Early morning willingness has never been my strong suit, unless of course I was still up from the night before.  Since I don't do a lot of all-nighters anymore, the only other early morning is the one where I wake from a deep sleep and consciously choose to get out of bed.  Sometimes those mornings are challenging.  I want to stay warm.  I want to sleep.  I want it to be sunny out but it's dark instead.  I want... I don't know what I want but it's definitely not getting out of bed before 8 a.m.   

So, what am I doing up at 5 a.m., fully clothed, with the car warming up outside?  The truth is it's yoga.

Yoga?  Give me a break.  Why should I have early morning willingness for that?

Some days I wonder and yet, really if I think hard and am honest with myself, it's because yoga is spiritual breath to me, the movement, the exertion, the surrender, the breath, the release and with it I learn about me, about who and how I want to be in my life.

My instructor the other day mentioned yoga was 110% effort and 110% letting go.  The effort lies in the posture and the letting go lies in the savasana.  The idea of letting go is not new to me and has been a part of my life for a long time but as I was laying in savasana when she mentioned this, I cried and my body released even more.  It was a truth I needed to hear again in a different way.

The same is for my life, the balance between effort and letting go.  I put myself out there.  I show up with my effort and when my effort is no longer needed I let go.  The challenge is knowing when I need to let go.  Now a number of years ago, I never let go.  I kept applying my effort to everything, trying to force solutions and outcomes because I didn't know what to let go of.

Actually, I didn't know I could let go.

There were many days where I would feel confused and baffled at why things weren't working out in my life or wonder why things were so hard.  I wasted a lot of energy and time exerting effort when I needed to let go and rest, let things be, without judgment, to observe.

The time in my past, where I wielded effort like a bulldozer, as if I could bulldoze through my life and get the results I wanted based off the belief that 24/7 effort equaled freedom, peace, and happiness, was a misconception and an unreasonable demand without validity.  By wielding such a destructive machine, I compromised my own value and worth, which resulted in over consumption or complete deprivation, whether it be with food, sex, money, material possessions, social engagements, and so on.  I would have brief moments where I felt like I had arrived that everything would be fine now from this point on and then the consequences of my over consumption or my complete deprivation would kick in and I would slip-slide in my life and wonder why me and why couldn't I just be happy.

I had no conception of balance, the yin and yang of life, that me as I am is a complete package and there is no part of me that deserves or needs to be ignored and if I play the coin of discarding a part of me, I will lose and lose big.  There in lies the letting go part.  I can't exude 110% effort when needed if I never have 110% letting go.

I may be able to fake my way through for a while but eventually the consequences of ignoring the core part of me that needs to let go will surface.  I will begin to lag behind, create physical symptoms, ulcers, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, sleeplessness, weight gain, along with emotional out bursts, grumpiness, increased selfishness, resentment, disinterest, sarcasm, judgment, and let's not forget mental obstacles, forgetting my keys, my purse, what someone said, even really being able to listen to another individual, and spiritually I lose connection with all things, with goodness, with grace, with compassion, with understanding.  My life takes on only a means of getting to an end and never an ease and flexibility of experiencing what is before me and enjoying it.

A simple reality, I will never see or experience this moment again.

Why would I want to spend this moment trying to get to the end of it?  To get my answer, to know I won the game or got the big job or my kids survived their high school years?  That's what happens when I'm stuck in 24/7 effort.  I am not really here.  I'm in outcome overdrive, calculating my next move and what else needs to be done.  Letting go helps me be here, to have patience when I need to wait, to show kindness when the grocery store line is going too slow and I'm running late, to know I will be okay even if things don't  turn out the way I want them to, to love my children even if they don't make the "right" choices, to have compassion instead of judgment and criticism, to have joy even when I don't have the money to buy it.  Letting go helps me see what I'm responsible for and what I'm not responsible for.  Letting go gives me the here and now to see what is before me, to experience it, to honor it, to revel in the absolute miracle of being alive.

My early morning willingness is generated by activities in my life which fulfill me and complete me.  No wonder I'm awake at 5 a.m. and consciously choosing to get out of bed to go to yoga with nay near a complaint.  Yoga fulfills and completes me and gives me an amazing opportunity, time and time again, to practice 110% effort and 110% letting go.  I practice in there and then I come out here and I practice with you and me and my kids, with my life.  I feel better.  I laugh more.  I observe without judgment.  I'm well, healthy, and of sound mind.

I can't say 110% effort and 110% letting go are easy propositions neither is yoga but both are rejuvenating and healing.  The results I get, whether I'm practicing yoga or a balance of effort and letting go in my life, are amazing, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Why would I not have early morning willingness?


Friday, February 10, 2012


Chopper is a funny cat, an alien really.  He comes from else where with an extra long tail that fluffs wide when it's cold.

At night, he pokes his bony paws into our chests and licks our fingers and palms.  Skin samples, we found.  That's what he was licking off our fingers and palms.  He sends them up through his tail that sticks straight up like an antenna, transmits to the mother ship.  He watches us with dark eyes, not evil, not contriving at all, just sweet and kind, luring us in to pet him, to cradle him with love as he licks our fingers and palms.

Silly cat, I say.

My husband laughs and tells me he glimpsed the mother ship the other night, when he stood out on the rotting, wood deck, as he looked up at the stars.  There it was above our home, half invisible but there nonetheless, hovering, collecting Chopper's samples.  We don't feel angry by it or deceived.  We find it funny, though we don't know what they do with all our saliva-stained samples.

Chopper went missing once, for two weeks.

We looked everywhere, wandered up and down the streets with "Missing Kitty" fliers under our arms.  We cried, or at least I did, and called his name.  And then one morning, after we had already accepted the fact that he was gone, I woke to a loud meow outside my window.  At first, I thought it was just me dreaming a dream of Chopper talking to me like he used to, so I fell back asleep but was woken shortly by another meow.

I gathered my sleepy limbs and managed to the backdoor and who stood under the window but Chopper himself, all skinny and sad looking.  I brought him into the house and cuddled with him in bed.  His hair felt dirty and oily, not soft and smooth, and he wouldn't stop licking and meowing and rubbing against me so eager to get his love he had missed for two weeks.

We figured the mother ship took him for a while.  I'm sure he stood up for us humans down here, and they didn't stand for his subordinate behavior and fired him.

His still an alien, jobless now, but that's okay.  We like him all the same.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


You sat there with wild hair and inquisitive eyes, head tilted down, just enough to intrigue me, pull me in, and you said something sweet, which flowed over me like sun-warmed water.  I smiled, of course, and crossed my stocking-dressed legs and followed your eyes from the tip of my boot to the edge of  my thigh and knew I had you as you had me. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Bird Takes Flight

I had a moment in yoga class today, lying on my mat, sweating profusely after having just done one set of cobra pose and the instructor wanted us to do another, where I felt she was simply asking too much of me.  Deep down bubbled an overwhelming tangle of emotions and with each movement, even my breath, it created an earthquake ready to explode.  I gathered my strength and willingness, cried a little and then surrendered to the pose and to the possibilities it presented to me.  It wasn't the pose or my instructor I was finding difficulty with.  It was my own feelings, my own powerlessness, my own life. 

Each pose I entered into, every inhale, every exhale, I moved through a murky, muddy rumbling of emotion, and I wondered if I should just lay down in savasana and give up, throw the towel in.  It's way too hard my head yelled loudly.  I knew from my own experience there was freedom to be had if I was willing to keep moving forward, not in a state of perfection, but in a state of willingness and open-mindedness.

The last few years, since the recession hit and took names, there have been many a time where the only relief I could find from what was happening was to climb a mountain and literally shove the feelings up and out with every hiking-boot step.  I would bawl and sniffle, bawl and sniffle, and climb higher and then find a place to set my weary bones and relief would spread over me like a bird opening its wings for the first time.

Yoga, this morning, was just that, a means to find freedom from the fettering of my life, of the constraints I place on what could possibly happen and how it's going to happen, when, ultimately, I do not know the happenings of a second from now or more.  At the end of class, I laid in savasana and reveled in the feeling of my body and the emptiness of mind and knew with complete certainty I could venture out into my day, meet with who I needed to meet with, and communicate with them openly and honestly and be at peace with whatever the outcome was. 

Freedom is attainable and refreshing.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

This is Serious Business

Seriousness.  I once heard a man suggest our minds tell us our lives are more serious than they really are and the unfortunate thing being, we believe it.  I smiled and nodded my head because I related and understood and even though intellectually I can tell myself this truth and even convince myself it is worthy of my time to be mindful of, I forget and get bogged down in the seriousness of me.

When I am bogged I am consumed and with it the essence of my life fades from this moment because I am no longer here.  How can I be here when I have serious things to think about or do?  How can I feel the sun on my cheek or the touch of my 6 year old's hands holding mine, when I'm seriously contemplating the state of the nation or the unfortunate state of my finances?  How can I have gratitude for what is in my life when I am seriously consumed with what isn't?

My seriousness is a very serious matter.

The serious situation or thought literally sucks my insides inward to a never-ending, spinning black hole.  I'm cranky, grumpy, and short-tempered.  I have little patience for those around me and my tolerance is non-existent.  I usually push through this because I seriously have to get something done or figure something out or fix something.  I become tired and hungry, which fuels my inability to play well with others.

At this point, I'm seriously screwed.  Now I have more serious situations or thoughts to contemplate or figure out because the driver in front of me just flipped me off because I wouldn't stop tailgating them and my children are acting up because I just don't have time to play or read or talk to them and my friend is disgruntled with me because I wouldn't stop talking about that one really serious matter that I just needed to fillet myself with one more time.

I mean, seriously?  You'd think I'd forgotten how to have fun or go with the flow or laugh.

But the truth is I have forgotten.

My seriousness kidnaps me from this moment and places me in my future because my seriousness is all about what's going to happen or the "what if" scenarios my mind creates.  I have forgotten where my hands are and that I need to be with them.  I need stay here in this moment and experience it for what it is and for where it's at and make changes as I move through it not before I get there. 

My seriousness comes from my overwhelming need to secure the outcomes of my life so I can feel safe, so I can feel I have succeeded.  I'm so consumed with securing my future I miss out on securing my present by being in it, by feeling it, by laughing, by going with the flow, by cultivating gratitude for what is here instead of focusing on what isn't.

My solution is a serious one... not to take myself so damn seriously.  Simple, right?  Simplicity doesn't always imply easy execution, though.

I remember I had a dear friend of mine who went for a drive, took a corner a bit too fast, and rolled the car.  She didn't survive.  I arrived at the hospital 5 minutes after she died, devastated I couldn't see her before her last breath.  I held her husband in my arms and we cried.  It hit home to me I only have this moment and nothing else, regardless of what my day planner says.

My mind convinces me I can be so serious in my life I can take it for granted, that I will always have tomorrow to do those things I never get done today.  My mind lies to me.  What I have is this moment.  How am I experiencing it?

A moment in my life consists of witnessing those around me and feeling honored by it, to enjoy where I'm at today even if I can't buy those $100 boots that would look so good with that one skirt I have.  It's about doing what needs to be done but not believing what I do is the entirety of me.  I have feelings to feel and aromas to smell and textures to touch and sounds to hear and things to see and tastes to appreciate.  There are people in my life to love and cherish, to be available to.  There are dreams to spin with action and fears to face with courage.  There is me to take care of, to feed well, to exercise with, to rest adequately.  There are strawberries to eat and mountains to climb and motorcycles to ride and camp fires to build.

To be where ever I'm at and to be conscious of it, to be in the moment moves me from just doing my life to being in my life, which is what I want today.  For me to be, I have to not take myself so seriously, take life as it comes, and enjoy the ride. And believe me, it's been one heck of a ride so far.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This is where I begin

The beginning has to begin somewhere and this is where it will begin for me, on a cold winter night with little light to expose the brilliance of the evening and more than enough snow to create a lake if the weather turned right.  The children are in the backyard with our small dog, playing, hopping, digging in the snow, crowding each other with their ideas of play.  I sit here and contemplate the few moments before this and know I am stepping forward, though the stability of my step falters and it feels like I'm stepping on air.

There are no guarantees in this world even though I may periodically demand them and even with a compelling demand I will not receive.  I have my effort to put forth and the outcome of my effort will never be held by me.  I battle against this, wanting to control my outcome, play the chess pieces just right, direct the show to my liking, the show being my life and yet what I get is the opportunity to participate in it and witness it.  I do not get to control the results of it.

Today is one of many surrenders to what is, which seems to open me to the possibilities of what could be, so this is where I begin.