Saturday, October 31, 2015

Odd gifts and synchronicities

Keep your eyes open
as you wander down familiar streets; 
something unexpected might appear.
Our mother angel earth 
is always sending us new messages:
odd gifts and synchronicities 
to guide us through our days.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Every pumpkin has her tale

Even the pumpkin has her tale to tell --
of separation, of lost connections, 
and all those unkind cuts --
and yet it's only after and through those experiences
that the opportunity to fulfill her purpose comes;
the moments when her taste and beauty
are finally revealed...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The mystical forest of love

Come: set aside your anger and your fears,
and walk with me in the mystical forest of love.
Drink deep of the cool green light,
listen to the songs of the birds and frogs,
breathe the scent of winter on its way
and feel the crunch of leaves and needles
padding the solid ground beneath your feet.
Where you are is where you're meant to be:
lean into this, and breathe. 
Just breathe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Which do you prefer?

Which do you prefer?
To be outside looking in,

or to be inside looking out?
For balance, we need a little bit of both...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Listen to your heart

A woman at the gallery where I show my photographs used to say, "Amateurs borrow ideas; professionals steal them." The idea of copying another's art has always made me uncomfortable, but I'm beginning to learn that the struggle to recreate an appealing concept can teach me a lot, both about what I want to paint, and what techniques I can use to achieve my objectives.

This painting, for example, which I finished yesterday, was inspired by a piece of art I found in one of the slew of catalogs that tend to show up in our mailboxes around this time of year.  Does that mean it's not mine?  The thickened sections underneath are uniquely my own, but the mirage-like shimmer of it is what happened when I tried to duplicate the other artist's technique -- and I really like it, so much so that I've already used it to soften some of the other works I've done recently which seemed to have too much texture.

So, in the end, allowing myself to be inspired by another's work was not only a way to take an old canvas I no longer cared for and turn it into something I could really like, but it has allowed me to reclaim some other pieces whose compositions I liked but whose execution seemed to me to be flawed.

Moral of the story? Listen to your heart, don't be afraid to bend the rules a bit, and trust that everything has something to teach you.  At least -- that's what I'm thinking now.  Ask me again later!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Replenishing our energies

As the flower drops her petals 
and the maple liberates her leaves of flame,
the river slows to a trickle in the darkening year
and the bear and I crawl into our respective caves,
replenishing our energies to rise again like sap
in the spring to come.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Enlightenment in a pair of boots

This is just to let you know: moments of enlightenment, however brief, can come in strange packages.

We have spent this past year and a half moving. We decided in the spring of 2014, given that my husband had gone from unemployed to retired, that we really could no longer afford to continue living in our lovely waterfront home.

So we began looking for a house: something smaller, cheaper, closer to town, with a studio for me and a view for him.  After a year of looking, we were forced to realize that we weren't going to find everything in one house (kind of like you can't find everything you're looking for in one mate!) and we needed to compromise.

It turned out that we could have cheaper, closer, a studio, or a view; pick any three.  So we chose the first three and sacrificed the view.  Which is harder for my husband than for me, as it turns out -- but actually, hard for me as well: the artist in me misses seeing the water, the mountains, the shorebirds, the boats, the beach... But I thought I was doing a good job of compensating by essentially painting what I missed.  And I didn't realize I was missing something more than that; that my ego had taken a hit.

And then came these boots.  Taos (one of the few brands of shoes I can actually wear without orthotics) Pride, in midnight blue.  I found them online by accident while doing my annual search for a pair of comfortable winter boots (I live in boots for three out of four seasons, so I go through a pair every year), and I fell in love.  Ordered what looked like it would be my size; they came; they were gorgeous; and they were too small.  Looked for the next size up (very hard to find by this time), ordered them, and they arrived but it turns out they'd not only given me the wrong color (teal, instead of midnight blue) but also that teal was really a dull blotchy gray.

Bummer.  I was seriously disappointed.By this time I had purchased both a dress and a little cloth purse in midnight blue, and was very excited about this new and actually rather unlikely outfit for me.  So late last night found me searching frantically online for some other blue boot to serve in this boot's stead.

Wrong.  On so many levels.  And I understood that, but I couldn't stop looking: at this point I was demonstrating some pretty serious addictive behavior, not that I could actually see or control that.

MEANWHILE, back at the ranch -- we are now living in our new log cabin in the woods, the old house will close at the end of this coming week (yay), we have moved the last of our belongings -- the really nice ones, that were being used to stage the house, into the new house (I spent much of the day yesterday arranging them and trying to find a place for everything) -- AND our daughter moved back in with us 2 days ago. 

It turns out that our daughter has discovered Eckhart Tolle (hurray!) So, since I had finished the book I was reading and looking for something to reread, I picked up my own copy of Tolle's New Earth and began reading.

Funny thing about that.  This morning's Tolle passage was all about how caught up we can become in finding our identity in our possessions.  In the words of the immortal Sheldon from Big Bang, BAZINGA!  Or maybe OUCH.

In one of those flashes of insight we occasionally stumble into, I realized that my identity was all tangled up with our beautiful waterfront home.  And now that it's really gone, and we're trying to stuff all our "things" into this newer, smaller, less impressive log cabin, I was feeling ... I don't know... somehow... less. 

So yes, it was the artist in me that was attracted to the boots in the first place -- hey, they're really pretty!  And they're BLUE! How cool is that? But what was initially an attraction became an obsession because some part of me had decided I would feel... like a cooler person, if I wore those boots.  Wearing a cool pair of boots had become, without my realizing it, a way to make up for the loss of identity, as if people might see I still had "IT" (whatever IT is) even though I no longer had my pretty waterfront home.

It's embarrassing, really, to realize how far off track you can get, and how quick the ego is to see an opportunity to jump in and take over.

I'm not going to apologize to myself for this.  Or berate myself -- I'm human, after all.  But it was lovely, having discovered the root of this obsession, to go into meditation with that knowledge, and to reach inside myself and re-awaken that larger me that lies beneath that boot-kicking ego; to feel again (after what has seemed like months of struggling with my busy monkey mind) that space and buoyancy that fills my cells, my bones, my veins; that vast and more connected self that looks at little me and my longing for pretty boots and chuckles gently and pats me on the head.

We are so much more than our homes, our clothes, our boots, our jobs, our possessions, our talents, our families, our lives.  We are so much more.  And it's so incredibly easy to forget that. 

So I bless the occasional moment when enlightenment hits; when I finally stop looking outside myself, and look instead for the space INside myself, that vast expanse of soul, and breathe into it, rest in it, and feel the buoyancy of love and acceptance that lives there.  And now, at last, though I have to confess I'm still looking for a pair of boots, I can chuckle a little at the silliness of my obsessions.

Yup.  I'm still a work in progress.  And it's all good.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

It all depends

So much of what we experience is tied to perception.
Whether the glass is half empty, or half full,
whether God, or fate,  looms over us or hovers,
whether some individual's stance toward you
is threatening, or protecting --
or even related to you at any level --
so much of what we see depends
on what we've learned to believe...

Friday, October 23, 2015

This golden dance

You've waited a lifetime to perform this golden dance:
don't be afraid! 
Take all that sunshine you've absorbed:
convert it into energy,
cut loose, and drift in slow and silent ecstasy,
gliding gently on the current of the wind
to rest, and fade, and then slowly dissolve
back to the roots from which you were once born.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What peace there is

What peace there is, in finding time
for grazing, and for sleeping,
for going out into the field,
and coming back into the barn
for shelter, and for rest...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How many dawns?

We humans are so drawn to the light --
and all too quick to run from the dark.
How many dawns must we admire 
before we finally understand that we need both?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

With a watchful eye

It's amazing what we can achieve
with a little determination and focus;
with a watchful eye, ever present, ever aware;
with a readiness to spring forward 
when the time is right.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Natural empathy

What if, when the island said to the sea,
"I'm feeling so alone, surrounded by the sea," the sea replied,
"I'm feeling that way, too, surrounded by all this land. 
Let's snuggle together: I'll pat your shore,
and you can provide a place for me to rest..."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Embrace the larger picture


It's easy to get focused -- and then to feel we're drowning --
in the close-in details of our lives.
The broader our perspective, and the more we take the long view,
the easier it is to look beyond our tasks and tribulations
to the beauty that surrounds us, 
to see the larger picture that inspires and encourages us 
to reach out and embrace the world beyond our petty cares.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Give voice to the song

Who were you born to become?
Where is the light you brought to the world?
What is the gift that you have carried
within you since your birth,
and when will you give voice to the song
that longs to express itself through you?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Late bloomers

Late October now, and still my dahlias
bless my garden with their huge extravagant blooms.
What is it about late-bloomers,
that makes us flower with such exuberance
when all around us seems to be growing dark;
when by all rights we should be drooping,
circling back into earth?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hunger vs. Wonder

What if, instead of following the obvious path,
you took time to explore the hidden things that beckon?
What if, instead of working to assuage those constant hungers,
you listened instead for the allure of curiosity,
and followed the tantalizing fragrance of wonder?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An invitation to trust

Though the path itself is clearly marked,
we can't be sure what awaits us at the end:
the future is often shrouded in thick fog.
The time has come to trust: to step out in faith,
and -- if nothing else -- to enjoy 
the textures and the colors that light our way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Anticipate the moon

When creativity takes a hike, don't curse the dark:
Imagine you've stepped out onto my porch:
settle into your favorite chair, relax, 
and look out over the sea.
Rest now, and anticipate the moon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lighting the path

Do not be afraid to glow when surrounded by darkness:
your determination to share the brightness of being
may light the path for others yet unknown.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

No doesn't always mean no

It was a hot sticky summer night in my grandmother's 4th floor walkup in Hoboken.  All the windows were open, so we could hear the neighbors arguing, the kids playing down in the street below, and the ships bellowing in the harbor a few blocks away.

I had just turned 8, and my very special birthday present would be happening the next day: a trip across the water to Radio City Music Hall to see a performance by Fess Parker, star of my very favorite TV show, Davy Crockett. The thought of possibly acquiring my very own coonskin cap, just like Davy's, had me too excited to sleep, so even though my parents had tucked me into my uncle's old bed, that lay just beyond the curtain from the living room where they would sleep, I kept popping up to ask: what time would we leave?  Could we buy the hat beFORE the show? How long did they think the tail would be?

And finally my poor parents, desperately trying to cool down and sleep in the relentless heat, told me that if I bothered them ONE MORE TIME they would not take me to the show.  By this time I knew my mom could be fierce, so I tried really really hard to go to sleep.  But then one more question popped into my brain, one that I just could NOT got to sleep without having answered, and so I poked my head out of the curtain one last time to ask -- and she followed through on her threat.

I never got to see Davy Crockett; never got my coonskin cap; and for years afterward the sense of hurt and betrayal from that incident haunted me.

So this morning, when I read in Liz Gilbert's wonderful book about creativity and fear that "No doesn't always have to mean No," I heard a voice saying, "Yes it does," and I was instantly taken back to that 8-year-old's disappointment.  But then another word caught my eye, in Gilbert's next sentence, and that word was persistence -- which took me, as words can sometimes do, to another key point in my life history.

You see, when I first met the man who has now been my husband for over 31 years, it was clear he was attracted to me, and I was, like, totally -- NO!  I'd been married before, for one thing, and it had ended very badly so I was pretty much off men.  But the few who had managed to sneak under my guard were all very much like my first husband: tall, slim, long-legged, dark-haired, smooth-skinned, articulate, intensely creative and very spiritual.

And this guy, whose first words to me were "Hi, I'm Christian, but in name only (heh, heh, heh)!" was under 6 ft. tall, a bear of a guy with huge pecs and shoulders, short legs, kinky light brown hair and a full beard -- and it was clear that none of those last three adjectives applied.  So I was WAY far beyond no, well into the zone where hell freezes over.

But he was -- and here's that word -- persistent.  Not in a creepy way: he wasn't a stalker, he wasn't pushy, he never tried to overpower me, but he was consistently present in a way that was impossible to ignore -- and eventually I came to realize that his brand of respectful, constant appreciation was exactly what I needed to recover from the wounds of my first marriage. Once having allowed myself to open a bit to those constant beams of affection I eventually realized I could relax around him in a way I'd never been able to elsewhere, and that sense of being fully myself and fully appreciated became a kind of healing magic, to which I've been addicted ever since.

My point is -- sometimes no DOESN'T mean no -- even for me.  And now, after spending my younger years nursing the hurt from the Davy Crockett incident, and then spending my child-rearing years thinking my mom probably did the right thing (even though I found it hard to put it into practice with my own kids), I realize that though it's possible that without consistent consequences children never learn discipline, it's also true that sometimes, when a no eventually converts into a yes, it's a sign of love, and of openness, and of presence. 

What I learned, from that early no, was not to buck the system; that rejection was rejection and unalterable -- in fact, I learned, remembering the pain of that early no, to watch for early signs of rejection and walk away before the real no could come, so it wouldn't hurt so much.  What my children learned, from watching me struggle to be flexible around consequences, was that sometimes no could become yes, and that I loved them enough to allow that to happen.  Not all the time. But often enough to give them hope -- and confidence.  Because they were occasionally rewarded for persistence, because, occasionally, I loved them enough and cared enough to change my mind, they learned, like my husband, the potential value of persistence.  It's a good thing.

It took me a lot longer than it took my girls to learn that lesson, to learn that no doesn't always mean no.  And for me that learning has come, not at the knee of my parents, but at the knee of the universe. As a result of the infinite kindness of fate and circumstances, because years of experience have taught me the truth of that old adage about one door slams and another door opens, I, too, now understand that no doesn't always mean no.  Sometimes it means not now, or not yet, or not in this way, or not with that person, or simply -- wait for it!  It -- whatever it may be -- may come in some unexpected guise, stocky and bearded when you were expecting lean and lantern-jawed, but it will almost always prove to be more than you ever could have asked or imagined -- and definitely worth the wait.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Perception and projection

What do you see, when you look at this today?
A ship on a lonely journey, dreading the storm that looms?
Or a moment of peaceful solitude, 
steaming ahead to your chosen destination, 
reveling in the calm of the empty sea?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Common Ground

You and I may be different shapes and colors,
but surely, together, we can find some common ground.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The persistent influence of love


As the gentle, but insistent, pleasure of the river
carves its path, ever deeper, through the mountains,
so, too, the tender but persistent influence of love
will wear down the rough edges of the world.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In Rumi's Field

Meet me there, in Rumi's field,
in the golden light of afternoon:
let's stroll barefoot through the soft grass, holding hands,
and find a way to talk about our differences
while noticing how strokes of dark and light
illuminate and modulate the landscape that surrounds us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Glow with anticipation

Remember the days 
when the sun rose, 
and we glowed with anticipation?

Monday, October 5, 2015

When passion starts to ebb...

Sometimes, when the passion
just doesn't seem to be there,
adding some subtle boundaries can help.
Some fires burn all the brighter
when contained...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Become the moon

Don't be afraid of the dark that lies ahead:
think of it as your chance to become the moon.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Take a stand

Though we long for a quiet place,
a shelter from the storm,
a chance to sit in quiet contemplation,
there will be times when we have no choice
but to step outside and take a stand
for justice, or truth or simply what we know 
just has to change.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The work of winter

As we begin again, this annual cycle,
of losing light, and losing leaves,
it's time again for stillness and reflection --
on what was lost, and what we hope to gain
as darkness closes in, and chill pervades.
What will be the work of the winter to come,
the work that keeps us occupied and warm,
that fuels creative fires and brightens life
in the absence of the sun?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rage and Gratitude

Fury's never a comfortable emotion.
But if it can be expressed -- in whatever way 
is safest, best, and most effective for you -- 
it can be converted into fuel for gratitude.
How will you manage that conversion,
that metanoia of the heart,
next time you're ablaze with rage?