Tag Archives: friends

Unwrapping Gratitude

18 May

 

 

 

Rain on the roof.
Sunday morning
always feels like unwrapping
gratitude
for the thought behind a gift.
Can one fall in love with
simply folding back paper,
uncurling ribbon,
lifting the lid?
What part of the heart
becomes coldquiet
and breathbone still
at loving the giving,
and the Giver
when the box only holds
more space?

 

On April 15, 2018 at 7:15 p.m., my neighborhood was hit by a F3 tornado.

I hid in the basement with my dog Clarence on the phone with my mother who prayed for us. It was the scariest two minutes of my life. The weeks after have been the most lonely of this journey. Having to learn how to deal with insurance and contractors and clean up while still working two jobs, has been emotionally hard. Many people helped me, though, in the first difficult week. 

I lost my roof and a lot of the exterior was damaged. Water came in and damaged plaster. The trees featured with the last few poems are now gone. I lost all the large old trees in my yard, including the holly which was the subject of one of my first poems featured here. I drug tree parts 12 hours a day, for five days, till the remainder was too big to move.. 

This house was built in 1924 and for the length of this blog I can say that I have been trying to avoid it.  It seems ironically funny that I felt like Dorothy at the beginning of this journey and now to be delivered firmly and resolutely home by a tornado is too much synchrony to ignore. 

What this means is that this first difficult journey is now truly over.

I’m healed. I’ve expanded and explored. I have become much much more than I ever was before.

I write . . . almost as much as I breathe. Art and Dance continue to unfold.  And yoga has made its way into trauma sensitive teaching. I hold deep gratefulness now for this time even though it was not my choice. 

In almost every way, my life is infinitely better than it was before. I’ve shed people, possessions, and parts of myself that no longer serve and filled it with what brings well being.

But there is one open spot. And perhaps rebuilding and remodeling this house once again, erasing much of what was before, will deliver me to a new point in the meadow. It’s been six and a half years. I blinked and it passed. Now that the wind has carried the scaffolding of the journey away, I am here standing at the threshold of home. 

I trust that I am being given what I need when I need it. That the lessons I am learning about my own house might bring what will fill that open spot. I am grateful for it all.

One day, I know I will be grateful for so much space.

It is Good

13 Aug

We will not let hate win

 

It is good.
It is good to see and to be seen.
It is good to hold and to be held.
It is good, this heart like a low long river
washing the soul clean to its raw lining
like the side of quivering fish.
It is good to feel the promise in cleanness,
in the sting of what was.
In every broken bit there is one conscious atom
beginning to pull toward the mending line.
It is good to cry, to wet the shoulder, the hand, the sleeve,
let it travel out to salt sea
where the elephantine roll of the darkdeep unknown
will toss it’s misted curl to the sky
and dissolve itself into stillness.
It is behind your eyes, this close fearlove
I kiss your cheek.
You kiss mine.
Both are wet with ocean.
And it is good.

This is for Anyone who has Ever Lost Someone

10 Aug

This is for anyone who has ever lost someone:

You do not own the leaving.
You share loss
because you are loved.
Loss
spreads it’s watery wake
like a quilt over a coffin.
Too little comfort over a container
of what
needs answering before it’s buried
to dissolve.
It’s not that people really tire
of your long grief,
a slow low dissonant hum of unraveling.
It’s that the fraying of this patchworked shroud between us
reveals edges of other coffins,
slowly decaying in the corners
of their own heart’s attic.
They’d rather not see.
They’d rather not feel.
You do not have to get over it.
Only wait for there to be
nothing left but holy dust
on the shrine of your soul.
One day a gentle wind
will shift ever softly
and be enough.

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.

Cosmic Cup

31 Mar

 

Wish

there was a way

to empty all the words

right down to the curve of the heart’s cup,

a way to let them pour without spotting,

without the fear of stain

on the ironed cloth of present being.

Cups are supposed to hold in curved kindness,

despite crazing of human heat,

despite bits of golden rim dissolving into the drink.

Nevertheless, purpose serves.

To empty and refill from a darkened kettle

steeping stars and nothingness,

a limber liquid

offering all, over and again.

Love and eternity

in each dark sip.

The Note I Wrote

3 Mar

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The Note I Wrote

 

“Spirited away by Latin poets.  Do not send ransom.”

For their ravishment has freed me

from a flat white ironed life,

crisp and starched,

where you once placed me

brim filled with the rapture of carmine fire

undrunk,

only to sit in silent sparkling

alongside the cold silver.

 

 

Sanctuary

1 Feb

img_20170123_194339_383

Sometimes to sit
and let the ground of a holy place
be the lap
upon which comfort lies
will feed the masses yearning
cry beyond mere fish
and bread.
Go child
and breathe
atop the mountain,
or down to shelled shore;
walk to the cathedral,
lie by the grave,
bow at the temple door.
Let leafless limbs filled with
the last gasp of
resignation
call to the silent mosque.
Walk a pathless garden
seasoned by the dust of humility,
save your seeds into a pocket of resolve.
Seek that
which cannot be broken
that
which cannot be named
A heart in All
still beating,
A Heart withal
unclaimed.

What it Is

6 Jul
BW mock up of mixed media collage, Unamed. 24x18 June 2016.

BW mock up of mixed media collage, Unamed. 24×18 June 2016.

 

It’s been four years that I’ve been writing about this journey toward Self and most definitely this spring has been a spiral of endings and discoveries, wonder and disappointment. For months it’s been obvious, I’m in transition but to what I’ve no idea.

Should I sell the house my former husband and I bought and restored together?
Should I change jobs, change careers, change towns?

The only constant has been my mother, my dog, and a few close friends who are honestly in much different places than I. Almost everyone from my post divorce journey has moved on into their silver linings. I’m wondering if mine is here and perhaps I’m just not seeing it.

Last week, my role model Liz Gilbert announced her separation from the man she fell in love with at the end of her famed memoir, Eat. Pray. Love. I found out on Facebook, just exiting yoga class. And to be truthful, after reading her post and Jack Gilbert’s poem, I sat in the car and sobbed for an hour. All melodrama aside, it felt like someone had told me that the scientific community had just discovered that God doesn’t exist…they’d found it on some new MRI or something. It’s all in our heads and explained by chemicals, this idea of infinite unconditional love made human. There is no over the rainbow. Dorothy Gale didn’t go anywhere….she just had a bump on the head. We aren’t crossing over to anywhere.

It was Liz’s memoir and journey, the way she found her most authentic self and happiness, both inner and outer that told me I too could heal after the person I loved most on the planet disappeared. In December 2012, I put myself on an island and what I found at my lowest point was the inner voice, Beloved. The writer in me still lived and she has fueled every creative outlet which has unfurled in my life since. Writing, Art, Dance, Mindfulness.

But what I’ve learned is that the journey is not linear. That to eat, to pray, to love is nothing more than the cycle of living we should be practicing daily in moving forward. Ever present, ever mindful in the moment, but savoring each bit of air granted to us while we live from our most authentic selves.

For all the loneliness this way of life has been, it’s gift is a reminder that family and community is the core of being…not romance. Chatting with the 30 year old daughter of a fellow colleague today about the end of her most recent relationship, I told her, “If my two cents is worth one penny, you should focus on being with your girlfriends right now. Making lasting female friendships is what will sustain you throughout your life. If I had done that in my thirties rather than focus entirely on my romantic relationship, I wouldn’t be trying to find a community now.”

This isn’t to say that romantic love isn’t a worthy desire. After all, “the world must be peopled”. I believe this type of connection is a need. And one’s needs should be taken reverently and honored. To be intimate and physically touched, to be fully human and vulnerable with a beloved other is necessary. Walking without this is like being in the desert, trying desperately not to feel parched, or worse let it show. I often want to scold my friends who take their significant others for granted as if two arms and a warm soul are always available….they aren’t. Finding home is a lifelong journey, but it’s compass steers us toward connections to love and love comes from companions.

I’ve learned so much in four years. Much more than most of my young adulthood.

I’ve learned social and virtual media can rescue a person as much as isolate her. Silver hands never assuage for long.
I’ve learned that to really live can mean a simple icy lavender towel on the forehead during savasana just as much as feasting at 4 Leoni in Florence, a beautiful Italian waiter serving up Chianti and daring glances.

And I’ve learned that one never stops learning. Each day we eat, we pray, we love…we find ourselves in this recursive cycle of savoring what is and banishing the demons that whisper…this is ALL there is. Because lately, I’ve been feeling something missing, an absence of an innocence and playfulness at my core. For the first time in my life, I struggle with feeling way too grown up, feeling pushed to accept the existential realities in a long journey seemingly with no end but exit. It’s as if the expansiveness of my imagination has been emptied of intuitive air. I can’t seem to feel or believe that which I cannot see and this both saddens and scares the shit out of me. For childlike hope has always made me… well…Me.

If I lose something so essentially me, what have I discovered that now wants to squat in its place?

Ask any of my students and they will tell you of the faerie woman and her magical dog, of feathers and wands, tales of travel and synchronicity. They don’t see budding cynicism, self judgement, and loss of confidence taking root. They don’t see deep self doubt. What was all of this for? Have I really walked all this way only to find that I’m exactly where I started, just better able to sit with, dare I say it? The possibility that I might die before I fall in love again.

So this week, by accident, I find myself at a friend’s place in Charlottesville while she vacations. I’m alone, relatively, as per usual and trying to decide what to let go of and what to cling to. In yoga class this morning and in outdoor practice at the IX Art Park last night, glimpses of who I used to be flooded my mind, the best of what I was before my husband and I parted. And let me pause here to change the story of his leaving, because I have learned that I too was walking away many months before he made real the gulf that already existed between us. I see now clearly how I was beginning to grow, to want more out of life than taking care of him and everyone else too, everyone but me. But I refuse to believe that nothing lasts, that we move in and out of love with many others until our last song. The eight years tops theory of partnership, I don’t WANT to believe in. People do die together, eating, praying, loving, …….living in the myriad ways people in committed connection do. Giving goes both ways. It isn’t a one way street.

There’s no judgement on my part for those who grow in and out of long term commitment numerous times. Their worlds are created from the outside in, each new union an entirely new world made from the shift of gravity which brings a new celestial body nearer in orbit. Unknowingly, I have lived through that. But like gravity, I believe in something else that crosses time. Something else that is quantifiable yet not yet proven. I cling to it. Call me naive…but don’t we all believe in that? Furthermore, shouldn’t we?

So is there yet enough magic in me to recreate my world inside out…over and over…each moment, each day, each year?

And while one day I may find a beloved once again, right now I sit with what is.

Each day I sit,

to eat,
to pray,
to love those dear to me.
To cherish my mother and my dog, my friends both near and far.
To try not to focus on their eventual passing or the path my life has taken. But to look forward from a place of hope. It’s hard. It’s created in each breath.

This week, I’m on the mat every morning, swimming in the afternoon, eating out, having my skin and hair pampered, sleeping in the softest bed on the planet. I have three days left here in this nest. And I’m listening for the whispers of what used to be in me.

The priestess, the faerie, the lover.
The poet, the painter, the dancer.

Gravity is peeling back this skin to allow emerging new again..as before. But did I fly too close? Am I watching my faith fall into the sea, a tangle of wax and feather flotsam.

I’ve no idea.

It is what it is…or is it?

Retrograde

20 Jan

20160110_141939

 

“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…”

“They don’t find it,” I answered.

“And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”

“Of course,” I answered.

And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

A bowl of Thai soup steams beneath me on a Sunday afternoon after dance. My companion is seated opposite me, someone I’m trying to “be” with. I have a strong emotional connection to him, the depth of which is not reciprocated. Quickly, I am learning with every moment spent, simply being present and enjoying “the now” is quite different from love, even companionate love. I thought I could do it…the just enjoying what “is” when someone isn’t willing or ready for a deeper connection. I’m realizing, though, looking into that soup that there are no rules about relationships. No should, no shouldn’ts. Only behaviors and situations that do or do not fit a person. And the behaviors that have evolved between this person and I in the last four months are more detrimental to my well- being than healing.

“I’m thinking about ending my blog”, I say tentatively. “I don’t do the alone thing by choice anymore; I want my life to be different. . . .it’s already different. I’ve changed.”

“Why end it?” he says. “Just stop posting.”

“But I can’t. That’s like just stopping texting someone without saying a goodbye.”

I don’t reply further, but what I am thinking is  “That just means you’re too chicken shit to say. ‘Gee, I find I don’t really want to communicate with you anymore, or I don’t really have anything left to say.’ So you wimp out and say nothing, thinking to yourself, ‘Maybe someday I’ll want to talk to that person again…maybe he or she will be different. Maybe I’ll need something from him or her. No need to shut a door and create bad feelings. Just let it just ‘be’.”

But it eventually ends doesn’t it? Unless it’s Mercury Retrograde when everybody goes back to something or someone they forgot to say goodbye to. The planet turns back and doubts rise as to whether it’s still standing just inside the open back door, expectant and smiling. Why end something when there is still some basic goodness there?

I stare into my soup, and it suddenly becomes clear to me. And hours later, sitting and listening to music with him unable to show or express what I really feel, all of the dynamic became clear. His constant checking in for a loitering loose hope is the height of selfishness.

The open end.

The open relationship.

The freedom to love whomever, whenever . . .and be grateful they might be happy with someone else and sometimes you, too. Because you “love” them unconditionally.

The “its all LOVE, really, non attachment” bullshit.

It’s fucking selfishness.

Yes, I said fuck on my blog. I ought to have said it more often just as punctuation.

Fuck. There. I said it again.

“I want the person I’m with to feel completely free…. I want to be totally 100% present with everyone I’m with and embrace the moment for what it is fully, but not be entangled.” What this actually means is “I need your attention to boost my ego, as well as many others to do so as well, so I’ll untie our connection every time and let it lie, hoping you will stay there…hoping.”

Selfishness.

And yes, we all trawl for stroking to some degree. But I don’t think many people are really so conscious about how the other person in the equation feels about always filling the net.

We all make excuses about why other people don’t fit us. But honestly the true reasons lie within ourselves. It’s not them…it’s never them.

It’s really us.

But we rarely ever tell them why or let them go because we rarely look inward enough to find the real reason inside our own psyches.

I often think closing doors are necessary. It keeps out the cold. It lessens the darkness of absence. It shrinks the feeling that somehow you’ve abandoned yourself by leaving it open indefinitely, waiting to see if a light is coming down the path. Sometimes, giving up hope is the most healing thing you can do for yourself.

So many people seem to have embraced this idea of “the casual relationship”. Not casual dating, which is entirely different. That’s when you spend time with someone, getting to know them in order to figure out whether you want a relationship with them. But a casual relationship? I don’t get it. How do you have a relationship with someone that doesn’t move into emotional attachment? It’s a normal healthy biological thing to attach to someone when you are emotionally intimate and have loving feelings. Babies are built to do it automatically. It’s not neurotic to want to be in an intimate connection with one person and vice versa after a process of sharing and spending time. It doesn’t mean you will never dis-attach, but it does mean that you don’t just ebb in and out like the tide in different lagoons. Being able to drift in and out of connection with someone, even to the point of having intimate physical relations without attaching to them emotionally beyond the moment and to do this indefinitely doesn’t make you some sort of guru…some sort of spiritually enlightened consciousness . What it makes you is a selfish being who has very little love for him or herself. And you can’t truly love someone if you are like that. Love is of the soul and it’s sacred. This goes beyond “religion”.

And selfish people are hard to love. So little love…real love …comes out of them.

Love is not just caring or presence or ephemeral connection meted out in compartmentalized hours. It isn’t just smelling the rose and then walking into another garden to smell the violets, too. Love does have conditions. They are called personal boundaries because loving oneself must come first and it creates the conditions. After all, the rose has its desires, too.

Love doesn’t mean staying with someone who can only give when they choose or under certain optimal instances. Unconditional love for someone doesn’t include losing your dignity. It doesn’t mean ceasing to give to the self in order to serve that portion to others to the point where there is nothing left. Love is abiding, deep and fueled by the abundance of love one has from within. When people have very little self love, they cannot afford to attach to someone, because a requirement of loving attachment is deep giving, often… and without really desiring to do so sometimes. Of course a conscious partner is mindful that he or she cannot take indefinitely, that a beloved’s selfless giving is draining and the mutual and reciprocal nature of love seeks to give back always. It is a dance…not a fucking piggy back ride.

So the casual drifter, the “being in the moment” presence, that doesn’t really require much. It may be  “progressive” and “hip”, but it’s a signal to me that there isn’t much in there to be given. It’s a signal that the type of love I seek, love which mirrors the Divine, doesn’t much dwell there. Now, its lack of presence in a person isn’t good nor bad…it just is. And if I have to be sad about figuring that out…so be it. But at least, I know it when I don’t see it.

And I’ll admit to my own selfishness. I’m not a saint, by any means. This blog space is like someone you go back to, time and again. The “hey, I’ve been thinking about you text” that comes after three months of silence when the last thing you sent was a smiley face. And if one looks at the body of this work as a unified whole, it actually wouldn’t be a fully accurate depiction of my life in the last four years. Is it a fault that I never take time to write in this way about the many happy moments I’ve had? Maybe it is. Do I feel guilty that I’ve gotten lazy and drop my low moments here while savoring my high ones for the telling at lunchtime chats and for my friends and students? Probably. Which is why I hesitate to let others I actually know read these posts. Is it a fault that when I find myself alone and needing an ear, I turn here, to the back door of the house, imagining there is someone standing there with an understanding look and a “There, there. Don’t worry. It’s all going to turn out wonderfully; you’ll see”. Maybe there is something to learn from the casual relationship, the one you only go to when you have little to spend and know you’ll get a discount. And perhaps this is showing me a personal fault on which I need to place my own consciousness.

Real writing and real creativity takes commitment. And maybe that is what I need to find and muster rather than a relationship right now. What really am I committed to?

Do I want to be a published writer? I have no idea. I don’t dream of accolade or money.

Do I want to be an exhibited artist; yes…probably.

Do I want to learn flamenco dancing and perform? Yes, know so.

Do I want a different job, one that inspires me again? Yes, but I have no idea what that might be and I have no funds to buy the hoop that would qualify me to pursue it.

But looking at the soup tells me, maybe deeply loving others is about learning as many ways as possible to show it, starting with myself first. Some soup is not better the second time. Some soup…only I can appreciate.

I have a discarded book of Durer prints and a half finished art piece at present.

I have a DVD, a beloved friend with a guitar, and red nailed flamenco shoes.

I have this blog, and a heart full of words…and you, standing in the back door for whom I do have deep gratitude. Even if you are imaginary.

I promise.

When it is time to say goodbye. . .we’ll both know it.

Or maybe we’ll just stay.

And dance.

 

 

 

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. 🙂

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