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On Gratitude. On Faith. On Love.

10 May

Recently, I have been musing about the meaning of faith and the seeds of its growth: gratitude and love. This first public v-log has me wandering through how the writing of this blog and the journey it contains has given me an amazing gift. It’s a bit slow and reflective and I am not promising any entertaining value. But in the telling of it, I discuss treasure surprisingly discovered without a map. I don’t know if I will ever offer one of these again in the future; its personal. But this once felt right.

Be Well.

Following

10 Oct

On Sunday morning, September 11, 2016, I piloted myself to Yoga Goodness studio for practice with Cyndi Lee. As former owner of Om Yoga in New York City and a respected yoga teacher, Cyndi is kind and wise.  I hadn’t remembered that it was the 911 anniversary, but when the studio was unusually packed, the connection was suddenly made. That day joins us all in so many ways and memories from that time are difficult for everyone. Human empathy is called upon deeply in having lived it and care is needed in the recalling of it.

As we sat together for the beginning of class, Cyndi spoke of her memories, the fire, smoke. . . the ash.  Her studio was balanced on the border between a war zone and normal life. Rising from her voice were the faces of friends lost and a whole community devastated.  She paused to breathe more than once. “The next day we wondered whether to have practice, “ she said haltingly, “the air was so bad but people wanted to come, to bring everything to the mat. And so we did.”

A deep peace came in our moving together after an opening chorus of “om’s”, even in our sighs of effort and laughter at falling out of pose. But at the end, when Cyndi brought us back to our breath she said something that will stay with me forever. It’s when the puzzle pieces started to make sense.

Life passes quickly. Each moment fading to the next.

Take heed.

Opportunity arises and is quickly lost.

Don’t squander your life.

At that moment, one principle became quite evident. I had to stop pretending that “doing it all alone” was just fine. I had to stop lying to myself and to everybody else. While growing into my truest self, finding joy in life, and learning to manage daily the acceptance of “what is”, I could no longer deny my inner voice telling me a core truth:

I need an intimate loving connection. I’m as ready as I will ever be.

I want to find my person.

It somehow feels shameful, though. To look at all the “living out loud” I’ve done, all of the ways in which I have grown in the last six years and then, surrender to a desire , a small seed in the pocket that’s really rested there since the beginning. Its one I have denied, one I have bargained with, one that I have dissociated from, but nonetheless has remained. Life is most worth it with a significant person to share the journey.

Home is shared.

Home is the nest.

And nests generally are not filled with just one being.

Beloveds take many forms but connection on the soul level is required. I have become so sick of social media platitudes and memes…Love yourself and that’s all you need. Beloveds should be icing on the cake, complementary to one’s life. . . a condiment. Some might allow it’s perfectly okay to think of icing that way, but I’m here to tell you…..that’s absolute bullshit. Cake is better with icing, otherwise they would have never invented it.

I became expert at blaming myself for not being okay with what I thought was aloneness (something very different from isolation), and projecting the false self of “single independent woman – – super traveler” which comes with a T-shirt that says. “I don’t need you, just sayin’ (except to admire how fantastic my carefree life is on social media).” Right. That certainly brought me connection. Once, a date told me that he never would have thought I’d ever been married. “You just seem so carefree and wild”. i.e. open to a non-committal hook up.

Sigh, next.

I’d isolate myself, just to prove a point and white knuckle it all the way through, creating my own cloak of invisibility which dared anyone to see me in spite of it. That’s really smart, Ms. Self-Sabotage.

However, I do think it taught me discernment. Boundaries are in place with every relationship in my life. Compassion balances with self-respect. The beauty of solitude is that it’s so very healing. I do enjoy it now in a way I never could before facing it years ago. Some of my most joyous moments are sitting with journal and coffee or cheese and wine all alone at a beautiful restaurant or shop, sinking and sorting my own emotions. Real self and core gifts, given to me by the Universe were rediscovered in solitude. The writer, the artist, the dancer, the wise woman . . .if I had never learned to be my own best company, I would have missed the opportunity to discover and grow my strengths in order to give to others.

But constant solitude is not the answer. Contemplative living is for renunciates, for holy people who choose to live outside the world in Spirit. And as much as I am an extremely spiritual woman, I am not cut out to be a nun. Jesus for a boyfriend?…that’s just not going to work for me. It took me a long while to understand the two states of being though. Even though I don’t like it, single is okay. Alone is okay. But isolation is never okay, and that has caused this wound of loneliness. Isolation isn’t natural nor normal. And as an only child and grandchild without children, it took me years to figure out that its alright for me to want, to need people in my physical daily life. Not online. Not texting me or emailing me on my phone. In my physical tactile very real and messy life. I need eyes and hands and lips and arms and laughs and tears. I need trips to the grocery store. Someone else to drive. Neighborhood walks with the dog. Dinner at the table, not popcorn in bed after yoga with a movie on.

And there is that word “need”. . .the stumbling block to everything. Struggling with an urge to justify basic human needs is the hallmark of a giver. Having needs feels weak and wrong. I have to ask myself, out loud sometimes, “What do you need right now, honey?” And if it’s in my power and for the greatest good, like any solid parent, I try to deliver. There have been many times I’ve had to deny a need because in the long run, the price was more than what was in the box. In the early days, because I had been walking through a desert of disconnection for so long, the water offered me at the beginning was drunk in desperation. It’s poison ate away and hardened my heart, discouraging me to the point that I gave up the idea that finding the type of connection right for my soul was not only possible, but completely within my deserving. My inability to feel this fall wasn’t a scar. It was poisonous ice that too much pain and not enough faith does to a higher than average level emotional intelligence.

When Cyndi’s words resonated with my entire being, I understood something profound. I’d been following signs all along. The last five years were filled with magic because I LISTENED to what the Universe was telling me. I was in flow because I followed signs. I let go. Where they were taking me, I remained open to. And they never sent me the wrong way. It became clear to me then, that I needed to follow signs to find this connection, this person…whoever. That perhaps all this was preparation for that journey. And I had to get busy because the only signs I had were a directive from my yoga teacher, a film that started my journey: The Wizard of Oz, and a book suggestion from a dear friend back in 2012: Paul Coelho’s, The Alchemist.

So I am thinking of ending this road, perhaps start another.

I am not walking for one any longer.

I am walking with myself toward someone.

I stopped believing in my alone verdict when I saw the WalMart pillow. It made me realize that I had to soften my heart and start getting real. So its been months that I have read, and listened, wandered and wondered and collected parts of the puzzle. Today, though I had a message. Begin. That’s all I know. Begin. Because telling yourself that a journey like this is crazy and no one will believe you isn’t helping. Neither is eating popcorn in bed every night and seeing yourself as a spinster school marm in the bargain bin.  As a matter of fact, they tell me the more beautiful the story, the more darkness wishes to cover it.

So I thought, “Screw it. Get real. Tell it as you go and fuck that memoir somehow ‘requires emotional distance’. I’ve had enough emotional distance to last me a lifetime.”

I haven’t had any inner guidance on what to do with this blog, but weekly writing has been flowing to my colleagues. Message From Fred has taken off in a way that has replaced this message in a bottle. Right now, it serves two purposes:One,  I write weekly and its in an effort to serve others. Two, it keeps me tight in on my sweet spot. The spot that says, “Yes, you are right where you need to be”. It makes me a little nervous to say that this part of the story is over, for all stories are tied together in the course of a life. The frame of this puzzle was made here and whether or not anyone has had any lasting benefit from this body of work except for me doesn’t much matter. Its intention was to share my story. I ended up writing my way out of the greatest loss of my life. Now, it’s time to wrap it in a winding cloth and not let it define me.

The story of finding my person might be just as compelling, maybe. It might be the greatest love letter I ever write.

Right action, let go of outcome.

We’ll see.

La Prima Stazione

29 Apr

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So is it true

that love never quite fits

the soul’s need

nor

the body’s desire

nor

the heart’s yearning,

but  hangs

like the hope

in a

hand me down

for a limbo lost

child.

Rome doesn’t really

know anymore.

Maybe it’s just a

part of purgatory,

like a ghost child

waiting for the train,

in a phantom station

searching

for the hand

that just

let go.

Luce e Speranza

30 Mar

image

 

If there is just
enough light ahead,
hope blooms in the soul
like the narcissus
in spring
before the Sun,
His arms encircling
a golden
mirror…
You are my beloved…
my face..my body..my blood
my Self
Come…
we are one.

 

written in the courtyard of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence Italy. Sunset…..today.

 

El Camino Real

21 Oct

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Have you ever been walking,

walking

so dry

in a desert of self-devotion,

wandering

in the hot morning,

under a sun

which lies like a searing ochre blanket,

a low sky of loneliness,

and wondered

how it rose to glare upon

your burnt parched heart,

still a purple veined heaving

beneath a tight

veneer of crust and air dried scar?

Have you ever sat

in a sunny spring café

watching,

watching the slow dancing love of youth

at a corner table

covered in white cloth and wine

wondering,

wondering how you slowly became

the widow of Desire,

bereaved of your limbs and legs

and the thrust of belly to bones

with an aching emptiness

between your thighs

like an open grave

awaiting the last pulsing gasp

of Passion?

Have you ever watched the door

of your beloved’s eye

close

behind a wooden stare,

locking the soul out of a space

into which you once reclined

like a sleeping child,

arms askance,

leg lifted to one side,

a little lovely dreaming Krishna

among stars of unconsciousness?

Or have you always found

a hungry smile,

a beautiful lip,

a curving side

to taste,

as if a tree from

the garden called Love

was ever dripping

outside your door,

twig-full of tender

wet globes

bruise ready under

thin skin,

their trembling sweetness

seconds from bursting

in an endless cycle

of ripening to

pluck,

devour,

belch,

begin again?

The wise ones say

one cannot know how sweet water can be

unless he has tasted the sand

of absence,

walked in dry drifts

through the desert of his longing

until his cracked mouth

has found her face

full of smiling tears,

ready to offer

the first sips

of Paradise.

Pilgrim,

carino mio,

the heavy cup

of my heart holds life

you have not earned

the tongue

to taste,

or the mouth,

to drink.

This blessed hell,

a camino real

you have not

yet the feet

to trod.

Sparks

19 Feb

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Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. ― Samuel Johnson

Sometimes while looking at this period of my life, I realize how special and significant it truly is. Perhaps is it forming something of great value to me, and to others. I’m conscious enough to realize that this enormous amount of personal time has been given to me for a reason. And one day, I will see all the connections that have lead to whatever future is created. Before embarking on the 21 Days of Love I didn’t realize how many people really follow me, and try on my life for size in their imaginations. My intern at school revealed one teary morning how much she and her friends look up to me…that they want to be me. And in a mix of fear and compassion I told her two things: It scares me to be a walking example because I’m human. I make mistakes. Because I care…I want others to be their most genuine selves…not me. But then, I thought about my own view of this journey. As a witness, at times it isn’t from the end with all the abundance. First lesson in loving myself more. . . check.

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Starting the love quest was easy. I had a list of activities and high hopes that each one might provide some insight on loving in a culture which seemingly only validates romantic love. Higher love, companionate love, self love or compassion seem to be considered second best in our society, what one is left to embrace when “real love” just doesn’t seem to work out. Embracing “Big Love” becomes a consolation prize which often evokes other’s empathy. This can be annoying to have to love them through. Seriously people, I’m not a nun just because most of my love at present is outside the eros box. So I set out to learn something, in spite of this prevailing assumption and to show others that an attitude of “making the best of the situation” shouldn’t be the spirit in which one should celebrate love at all. We need a bigger understanding in this culture. We need to be more open. We need more expansive hearts.

A social media post for each day of love was my primary focus and I decided early on to let whatever sign or activity which presented itself be the point of love for the day. That seemed to work well. But from there that’s when the plans slowly started to unravel and reform into some of the biggest lessons about love I’ve learned to date.

One of the first activities, attending the Latin Salsa Dance Party at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, was a repeat performance from two years ago. A fabulous Cuban band, Tiempo Libre, preceded it, and early in the evening I began to reflect. That event two years ago was the beginning of the adventure portion of this journey and essentially, my first “assignment” for this blog. Two years later, dancing up at the stage and then, with one of the lead singers shows just how far I’ve traveled. At the salsa party, I noticed others dancing together, not just couples. Women moving with other women, proud Latino men in a line posturing, moving in rhythm with each other and affirming each other’s prowess and skill. What a difference from two years before. I now notice the power of sexuality as a human thing, something which can be expressed outside the cultural norm of “relationship”. For though the music was spicy, sensually freeing and passionately rich, there was no barrier or judgment in moving with it whether in couple, in group or alone. Our culture as a whole needs more touching, more passion, more kissing. It seems we only feel able to be in our bodies with one another under specific moral and social conditions. And to me, this has lead most into sexual expectation at any physical contact. We need to lose that. Most don’t realize how much they actually need touch and expression of physical love every day until they lose their “partner”. How many dysfunctional relationships of all sorts could end if we knew that others were there to literally hold our hands, stroke our cheeks, and rub our shoulders beyond the constructs society defines.

 

But this event also re-framed the next week in a peculiar way. Within days everything unraveled. The wine and chocolate tasting I’d planned was cancelled and trying to create one for my friends didn’t work. Quickly then, I knew I shouldn’t rely on re-envisioning the traditional Valentine.

I’ve always wanted to indulge myself by having my hands and feet hennaed like an Indian bride. Images of Krishna and Radha within swirls of lotus flowers trailing my arms and feet seemed the perfect way to externally proclaim the love I have for my highest self. But plans with all three artists I contacted fell through, one after the next, the last calling to say no henna was to be found in Lynchburg anywhere. To order it, would place arrival after Valentine’s Day.  Expectations at every turn were being shown to the door.

While I did attend Sonnets and Chocolates, another repeat performance of two years ago, it was only due to the grace of Endstation’s director Geoff Kerschner, who I taught many years ago. The fundraiser sold out three hours before I purchased a ticket. However, he was able to find me one seat at a table with some folks from the arts community where I teach. Many of them I already knew from teaching their children. And to be sure there were some lovely romantic touches to the evening, like when I was finally able to have my favorite Shakespearean actor recite Sonnet 29 to me. Sure, I bought the chocolate and the sonnet as a donation, and I asked for him specifically  to deliver it. But looking into another human’s eyes while he beautifully recited such profound words was beyond self-love. Knowing that I had done this, he relayed how much he appreciated being part of the moment and gave me a heartfelt hug. How simple and how beautiful it is to be human to one another on a holiday honoring love, yet one which ironically excludes a lot of people.

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I think that night, it really started to hit me. First, love does not go according to plan. It takes its own path, like a stream in spring, the thaw takes the path of most allowing and then it wears it’s way into the landscape of life. Little by little it makes its mark.  At every rock in the way of my plans, love took a turn to show me its versatility, its expansiveness, its connection to others in a million different ways rather than solely self-directed. Sure, we all need to love ourselves first, to let that be the beginning path where we let love flow. But then, to grow the stream, others must be there to create the infinite complexities with which we come into union.

During the last week before Valentine’s Day, I found a moving TED talk by Hannah Brencher, founder of The World Needs More Love Letters

 

In teaching Romeo and Juliet, I wanted my students to think about more than just heady romantic love and its possible tragic ends. Loving other people as she once was loved delivered her into her destiny and out of depression and isolation. When she spoke of her beginning love letters, I knew EXACTLY what she meant. “In the days when they were necessary. . .”, she said. I think back to two years ago, how absolutely necessary it was for me to travel somewhere experience it, take photos…write. And now what rich experiences I have, deep wisdom, and more connection which enables me to follow my purpose.

I’m not going to lie, the last week was hard. I almost gave up. For about two hours on the Thursday before Valentine’s Day from 4 to 6a.m. I lay in bed and stared at that empty space beside me…and it hurt. I missed someone . . .down into my bones. And I cried, a lot. But then, I went to work and allowed. My students had written love letters to strangers and one of my struggling writers brought in his late assignment. He had chosen to write to one of my mentors who had recently lost her husband in a sudden heart attack. His note moved me to tears.

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And I realized that we all have our days needing extra love…some more than others. But that’s what we are here for…to do that. To be that extra love for each other outside of the love we hold for ourselves. And when we start working toward that type of conscious loving and genuineness, the more we grow the heart of the Universe.

Blackbird

5 Feb

Down the dim hallway toward the dance studio I trod, a chubby six year old in black leotard and tights. At the time, I had no consciousness of my body other than a vague unease. There were foods I wasn’t allowed to eat. There were clothes that didn’t fit. There were rules. My mother’s hovering and persistent directive, “Suck in your stomach”, taught me that something was not right about my body. Being “me” was not okay, in a body that was not right and which certainly didn’t belong to me but to her. At six years old, I understood these precepts intuitively, under the landscape of my growing mind. Over the years that followed to self-consciousness, rejection of the body as it was, through each stage, was the norm. My mother obviously despised her own physicality and attempting to control my body was a way to control and calm feelings about her own body- hatred.

But I was only six. I was just. . . . me.

Miss Mona’s School of Dance was a long respected dance establishment in Roanoke and every Thursday at 6 pm I’d put on my black leotard, black tights and those small leather slippers that weren’t the shoes I’d read about in the library book from school, the red ones with the laces and hard toes like small hard cups wrapped in satin. I would gaze at the portraits of the ballerinas in the plate glass window at Miss Mona’s, their long arms and long legs lifted in grace and arching white. Tiny pointed pink feet, ankles bound in ribbons, short flowing dresses or fluffy sparkling tutus. The curve of their thighs in arabesque were like the edges of a taught bow, their arms like giant wings trailing dark feathers of space like ravens against the deep summer sky. Ballerinas were “big girls”, 12 maybe 13. It seemed to me then that becoming a ballerina was what happened when one grew up and in some instinctive way I suppose it came to symbolize a right of passage. The becoming of a woman meant donning hard toed shoes and launching into open flight.

I can remember the piano at Miss Mona’s like a hundred hammers on bells, the clanging refrain as I walked across a smooth wooden dance floor toward a small group of girls. Lyrical line after line of “Meet Me in St Louis. . .Louis” was the only unifying cadence within the wild clackety clacks, squeals and laughter from the room hidden from view of the barre. Behind the blue accordion partition, staccato smacks peppered with laughter rolled over the quiet of the ballet room. That day I stood in barre class with other tinier girls, their leotards bunching at their little bums, tights folding in creases at their knees. So small their ballet clothes lay about them like skin on a baby elephant. But mine were tight…stretched, like a seal’s skin ready to burst.

I didn’t know. I was just. . . .me.

But Miss Mona, the ginger haired matriarch of the barre awakened me. She stood, leaning heavily on her cane as she eyed me from the sideline. “You are too big to be a ballerina. We need to talk about tap class for you.” Listening to the girls next door, the class I eventually attended rather than ballet, I can’t recall feeling anything. No sadness or disappointment. I accepted the judgment of adults as Truth. It just was.

Too big to be a ballerina.

Too big.

When Miss Mona died in 2006, my mother gave me her obituary from the newspaper and I carried it in my wallet for nearly three years for no other reason, but that I just couldn’t bring myself to remove it.

I loved her.
I hated her.
This woman who was the mistress of the barre, of sublime body perfection.

This woman who owned the secrets of flight.

They say the body has its own tale to tell. That memories begin to store in our very cells from before we are born. Muscle and cell memory, the body is a complex consciousness all its own. It operates beyond our control in tandem with the environment without much need for a pilot. And in over many years, I have worked to own this frame of mine, to claim it, to come to love it, to treat it with compassion. This journey in part has been about transforming the outer strength I built early on into inner strength of mind and spirit. And so it is no surprise to me that inner expression, which first began in the written voice of Beloved, moved into art and now finally into dance. As I look back, many times in which I connected to music, I danced into my higher self. No one dancing with me…. a joyful moving meditative prayer to the Universe.

During Lenten traveling this past spring, I stumbled upon a unique dance group in Charlottesville. The 5Rhythms method created by Gabrielle Roth offers expression and healing, spiritual enlightenment and oneness through free form dance. Conscious dancers move to patterns of music designed in “waves”, each one making a unique musical narrative arch. The invitation for the dancer is to move in the body’s unique voice to express the inner drama. It allows the body to tell its story and to be “seen” and from that revealing to be “heard”. But heard by the conscious self. The narrative is experienced as a separate voice. What story is my body telling, this alien thing my consciousness rides around in? That question has been pressing me. . .hard. In yoga class, every posture which opens the heart or my hips has been intensely uncomfortable in more ways than the physical. I’m very fit, but my flexibility has reached a limit. I rise daily feeling like a living rug burn. The muscles refuse to listen, so I decided I had to learn to hear them instead. I have to learn how to listen to my own body’s story. And it has volumes to tell.

A week ago, as a part of the 21 Days of Love, I attended my first conscious dance session. Feeling quite uneasy, I entered the Fry Spring Beach Club in Charlottesville and immediately tensed from the interior cold. The heat is low in preparation for ninety minutes of constant movement. Reluctantly, I peeled off layer upon layer, like the years that have passed since the days of Miss Mona’s studio. I felt shy, intensely awkward. . .for the first time in many years. However, stepping out into the low lights, I became quickly aware of the sacred safety of this environment. All come here to engage in healing or enlightenment. It isn’t a competition or a show. One can remain alone or engage with others; there is total freedom from judgment. The invitation is to connect to the rhythms of the musical wave, and let the body sing.

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Standing, arms folded against the cold on the edge of the great ballroom floor, my first moves were spontaneous: the positions.

First …slide to second. Third, my favorite…and then a slide out to fourth.

Not brave enough for fifth yet and feeling pretentious, I began simple stretches and to slide a bit. But, a surprise ronde de jambe became the introduction to the next ninety minutes. One must be barefoot for grounding, and by the time I left the studio, I had danced blood blisters onto the bottoms of my toes. From the outside, an onlooker might think we had all taken mind altering drugs and were moving through whatever state of consciousness a psychotropic substance had awakened. (Basically, a bunch of “New Agey” white folk flailing about in semi rhythmic abandon.) But, my body voice is passionate and emotive, despite its intense fear of turning inward and completely letting go in front of absolute strangers. I found a bent bow within me that came absolutely and powerfully unstrung, so much so that I injured a leg muscle pretty severely. Balance, I learned has more than one meaning in this case. The musical pieces, which comprised the beginning of the first wave, elicited a wall of palpable energy from me. Brick on brick, a perimeter of stone was laid around my raw self and then at the wave’s height, behind it, I became bare to the core.

My unique personal narrative erupted into verse and refrain, singing as easy as breathing. My mind cannot structure it; I struggle now to find words to even describe. Sense memory returns to the ballet room, the movements somehow executed effortlessly in my current physical state. For now, I am tall and lean. . .strong. But the body also remembers other pages …

of curiosity…

of ambiguity…

of love…

of sex…

of joy…

of grief and loss

of the Infinite.

Dancing what I never knew existed within me, one song pushed forth scratching and clawing into the air in rhythmic anger like a tigress. Lost within another pulsing refrain my wrists twined, wrapped in memories of a lost love. A waltz took me into a ballroom many years ago where I learned to trust enough to let a beloved lead. At the denouement of another song, my shoulders reversed to cover my heart, chin brushing the bareness of my shoulders, as if I held myself in my own arms. At one point I was a tightrope walker, balancing the invisible wire of change. And I wanted to leap from it and soar. The desire for balance evaporated in the furnace of inner fire. . .only in movement could the enormity of my emotion be set free.

A story doesn’t makes it path known until the soles meet the smoothness of the floor, but then the frame bends and fluctuates like the pines in the winter wind. A whole memoir of the body is sorted into tales and in the telling, an awareness comes of being lit inward like a tiny candle. We live inside our rational consciousness for so long, seeing our bodies separate from our self concepts. The reflective surface of culture encourages us to tell ourselves a body “truth”, but the authentic story within is already there. And this body, which is tinier than our souls must be carried by it, so we must come to love it, this instrument of our earthly being.

This type of dancing reduces me to my most surrendered point…the point of birth…the point of fear ..the point of allowing…the point of joy…the oneness that is at heart of all. It is the fullest expression of intimacy with the higher self that I have found. I understand Rumi so much more now, his whirling and whirling into oneness of the Divine.

I left the session spent, an exorcism of the past danced out in a dimly lit ballroom in the dark cold of a winter January night. And next week I will return, to turn and turn again in the telling of a tale I have yet to hear, and from which  to hopefully gain more insight.

21 Days of Love

2 Feb
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At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service. –Fred Rogers

Habits, they say, can be either established or broken in a mere 21 days. In the light of my last post, and in trying to ease back into post holiday “normality”, a thought arrived during the early morning removal of my Christmas decorations.

“Uh oh.. Valentine’s Day”.

But before I could even let the swell form a wave, I suddenly had an epiphany:

Why don’t I celebrate Love?

Each day in some way during the 21 days before Valentine ’s Day there has to be another way of seeing this, ways to show myself and others love in its many intricate facets. No need to dread it…more over…I need to go out and meet it head on. There is something there I need to learn, so I might as well dive in. Call it a “Love Pilgrimage” if you will, but I have discovered now that if I re-frame the prevailing culture or environment in which I live into a more positive experience, then I can become part of the narrative more easily. And I can give and receive more mindfully. Simply…I want to be happier in a culture that tells me I need to be miserable or cynical on certain holidays because of what “is” in my life.

So this year, I am celebrating Valentine’s Day by loving myself deeply and by exploring ways in which I can love others outside the cultural paradigm. Each day since January 26, I have been posting to social media a poem, quote, or song and pictures focusing around one facet of the enormous complexity of Love, this great emotion at the heart of the Universe. By engaging in activities which may connect me more to the power of my own heart, I hope to cultivate a daily habit of positive conscious loving in all its nuances and to carry that energy forward into 2015.

My students and I are inevitably reading Romeo and Juliet, Cold Mountain, and examining the cultural assumptions implicit in romantic love in literature. Pacing guides just so happened to have placed them now. And ideas for personal experiences came easily and are already underway, the stories I’ll share in the days ahead.

It isn’t all about candy and flowers …but it is all about the heart.

I started by putting back half of my Christmas decor…light is light. 🙂

Resolution

3 Nov

 

Stories start in all sorts of places. Where they begin often tells the reader of what to expect as they progress. Castles often lead to dragons, country estates to deeds of deepest love (or of hate), and ambiguously presented settings usually lead to equally as ambiguous characters and plot, leaving a reader with an ambiguous feeling of disappointment. That’s one of the worst kinds. — Rebecca McKinsey

 

While they take a test

on the five points

of the plot arch,

I ponder.

How will this story

walk itself up

such a precipitous path?

 

Two black and white dogs

precede

a woman and a man,

in exposition.

Their round laughter

rings the trees

in gold leaf

turning.

 

The setting unfolds,

the russet red blanket

of Indian summer

curls against the cold

to bare Autumn’s toes.

Over dusty stones

strewn upon

a deeply creased

earthen path,

come complications,

a jumble of

remnant rock

and snaring root,

or ghost and bone of those before

who have met their end.

 

Clasped hands,

a fulcrum steady

as a long stick of oak

foreshadows

the coming climactic view

of  two lovers,

framed in darkening

cobalt blue

against carpets of

crimson cloud

hammocking

a rising moon.

 

The flat of his forearm

presses the small of her back,

her soft elbow winds round

his nodding neck.

 

This denouement of

summer’s wishing,

is a cut paper portrait

on the wall of day’s end,

unframed.

 

Only a sentence left

to resolve

what’s left.

The end,

of this fall.

 

 

“Resolution” was written on September 3, 2014

First Class

2 Nov

elon

Life is a succesion of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

— Helen Keller

 

“Do something for me..”

he heard again her whisper,

a sunrise request

resting on the inward curl

of his ear,

her breath a memory

of a pulsing pearl

upon his temple.

 

First morning

pours through

a September window.

He pauses there

to sip from a warm cup.

Its humid cloud echoing

her half dreaming murmur

toward an ear now

prickling with

the effervescence

of young laughter

and the crisp

flip of papers.

 

“When they are quiet”,

she sighed,

“fly to me”.

His eyes half closed,

palm cradling the phone,

as if leaning left

could bring

the remnant ghost

of her mouth back

under the dark hollow

of his ear.

 

Row upon row,

he surveys cultivated lines

of earnest eyes

all lowered to look,

at tasks like parti colored

plastic flags

marking toward the race’s end.

 

Out through crossed panes,

the eastern edge of grass

along the brick walk

turns a mist shadowed corner

toward

two hundred miles

of tar top,

over mountain

to a tiny courtyard

where

a window lies open,

a frame for

another house

of bent heads over books,

nodding in morning birdsong.

 

She pauses,

like a grey clad cardinal,

her hand grazing

the rough casement

freckled stone,

sun warmed

and sure

as the curve

of a five fingered wing

nesting inside

his own pocket.

 

“First Class” was written  August 26, 2014

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