Sunday, November 22, 2015

A tree dies whispering the secrets of breath.

I wrote this in my meditation journal early 11.21.15. Looking back it's quite prophetic. “

"Breath, in each, is the force that gives way to gratitude and grace and the reminder to come home from wherein’ you were and wherever you are going. Stay with that intimate gift of life and love that gives and receives endlessly while we carry on. Breath is home. Spaces between breaths are the soft, quiet divine silence that we return to and come from." 

Yesterday, a huge tree limb covered my car, then knocked out my electricity leaving a live-hot wire sparking in the front walk way, and me without heat or light for sixteen hours.

Today I watched a beautiful tree sawed down to a stump like that in the book “The Giving Tree.” One of my favorite books from childhood, but now as an adult and mother it is a sad and heavy realist view of parenthood or care-taking and how often most people take that which they are given for granted still finding the audacity to beg the question: “What else can you spare?”

I’ve never been that way. Never. Maybe it’s because I read that book nightly for years or maybe some of us just end up landing here on this planet with a give mentality instead of a take persona. I’m strangely uncomfortable asking for help, or taking nearly anything. I have more guilt than should be humanly possible, and my aversion to owing anyone anything is categorically unhealthy.  This I know, yet still, I continue in this awkward exchange of let me give but give me nothing. It’s rather unfair but I’m working on it.

On giving, and receiving and the approaching of Thanksgiving, I ponder our natural state of taking so many things for granted in such a blessed and abundant world. Sure, there is terror and hate and anger and mistreatment and lies and judgments and hypocrisy. Of course there is, most people take so much for granted that the mentality is so self-driven and we lost sight of our fellow humans and began to create others as threats. Threats to our comfort, success, popularity, love, etc.

I have been alone quite a lot lately. A weird thing has happened in that I notice my breath a lot more than lately. Not just because I can see it in the bitter cold or because it smells like coffee. I mean I am deeply aware of breath. Breath and life.

I ask you to consider taking five minutes maybe in the bath, shower, at your desk, on a walk or laying safely and warm with your children. Make yourself aware of the life force in constant symphony with you. Pay attention to the length and the depth of each breath you take and how in doing so you can be reminded of your own presence and all the millions of amazing filaments of light and energy that must do their part in the miracle of keeping you alive able to sit there observing this little secret.

There is an old saying: “Life doesn’t come with a handbook.”

Oh I beg to differ. Perhaps we want Ikea-like instructions or a booklet with clear directives given any and every possible scenario that may arise? I know I would have like a mentor and constant youtube tutorial for the early days and months of motherhood with a newborn.
I am starting to believe that we indeed DO have a handbook. A comprehensive answer to all that is and will be and was…and how to handle them. Ready?

Breathe IN. Breathe OUT.

That’s it. It seems impossible to be that simple, but I think it is.
Breathing is what constitutes the beginning, end, danger, or fear of our lives as we know them.  Breathing is our gage…it quickens in fear and shock or sadness, and slows with relaxation, but we notice not unless in one of those states?

I think the manual of life is to follow the instructions of your breathe. Keep going, stay rhythmic, and before giving (air) or taking (air) to sustain, we must pause and be still.

Go back to noticing your inhalations and exhalations and you’ll feel and hear that your lungs naturally stop at the base of an exhalation and also still right before beginning a new intake. That to me, is great advice.

We are in constant states of giving and taking, but first before either act we must be present, pause, still ourselves and continue. That simple way might very well be the best instruction guidebook you have. It is within you. It has always been with you, working for you, never fighting you or blaming or asking for recognition.

I breathe in life and exhale life. If I’m lucky, I’ll learn better how to slow down, pause to notice that the spaces in between breaths is the sacred, silent witnessing space of all existence.

Everything that is started from the vast nothingness, and so too does the transitions of life pass through such stages of stillness and empty. It is not a lack, or absence of breath, to me, it is the calm, the quiet and the cure for all things and feelings to still oneself, take pause and begin again…over and over in big ways and small.

Give, be still in yourself, take, be still in yourself, give, pause, take, pause….
So simple it feels too complicated to understand.
But I’ll try for the sake of growing, gaining knowledge and giving back.

****In honor of the Big Bradford Pear Tree that is no more. ****



"Shimmer with a smile. Life is hard, bloom anyway."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Holding to Hope: Responsibility vs. Reactions.

It's 10:00am , November 16th, 2015. An elementary school not a mile away from my house and my three kids (in a different school in the same district)  just got evacuated due to a bomb-threat (that I'm hoping was some sick prank.) I've been moody and sullen since Friday morning, so too, has most of our world. People on social media fighting about who is more "patriotic" or "media coverage and the selective choice to show Paris vs. Kenya." Or "the controlling powers set up of this violence."

Most of us don't know what to help, or heal or make a dent in such a messy large-scale situation. The thing is...we are all scared. We are all hurt and angry that such loss can happen for what? A belief, shock, power? We are sad to feel unsafe and uncertain of anything.

That is understandable, but there is a choice here. The privileges we all (in first world countries) have today are because of hard-fought wars and pain-staking loss. We have the right to say, think and  feel what we want without persecution. This is a blessing, but also a responsibility.

Hearts need to mend in the making of peace.
Energetic solidarity of hope, compassion and the will to see love prevail is potent.
More judgments, more fingers pointing and more violence is reactionary, and less temporary than you may think.

Love each other now.
Put the past in the wakes of yesterday.
Hold hands.
Hug your children.
Lend a hand to your neighbor without invitation to do so.
Brainstorm ways to teach tolerance and the bravery of believing in betterment.
Fight the force of fear that pushes you to pass the toxic thoughts forward in frenzy.

The darkness is only as strong as the absence of lights that turn or get sucked in.
Light your heart.
Light your compassion.
Light your loving kindness to beget and build and bring illumination instead of ignorance.

Have your feelings, allow your hurt, shock and anger, but with love and strength,
Transform instead of transfer
what could become more of the same.
Hope for peaceful ways to eradicate the lowly lost souls of blind difference and disdain.

Hold tight to your beliefs in good.
Hang on with whole heart to the greater collective of loving power.
Heighten the awareness and absolutely necessary mood of support and sustained compassion.
Our children, your grandchildren, your beautiful world of loving, sunrise and sunsets
Needs to be seen by those we've brought into this world.
Seen by eyes of youth and wonder, and safe from barbarity and boiling points.

Laugh if you need to, claim these words are "silly" and "stupid."
No label or name is offensive if in your heart you participate in promise and possibilities instead of power and pain. I ask you, what is lost, what is embarrassing, what is weak in
Standing together, chest out,  hearts open, hands intertwined?
With our children and generations to grow as witness, hold dear the blessings we have had, can have and will create by building from the broken.

For breaking more spirit and each other or stomping all over the sacred beauty and commonality of what times like these bring to surface, we then, are playing into,
 not out of,  the same malice.

I am not against war, lawful persecution, punishment or even fighting. So perhaps that will piss a different set of people off, but I am so very painfully aware right now that we need more love, acceptance, and agreement with each other in a time when reacting with hate, blind rage and hurtful divisive words and actions feels natural. I know we have a stake in humanity, one soul at a time...but the point is, one starts and encourages another with the exact same inertia as the darkness sweeps over masses.

We all have in us the power to protect, preserve and promote humanity and heart conscious actions. We do. You do. I do. I choose tolerance, compassion and a loving power that pushes the need to be "right" or "revenge" or ridicule away to make space for solutions that push us together to stand up and at least add some light to the sea of darkness and rage. It may not be quantifiable, or measurable or something you can brag about at a cocktail party, but I assure you, it makes a difference. You make a difference, and spreading love and compassion vs hate and anger can change so much.

If we all believed one person's light is pointless and it's futile, whom then, can we blame when it all goes dark?

Flamethrowers: I light my heart for humanity and hope. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why you are such a contradiction, and precisely why I love that about you.

I ching:
Was meditating and saw the number “41” picked up the I ching book and went to that page. There I found this little beauty:

“The way to illumination appears dark.
The way that advances appears to retreat.
The way that is easy appears to be hard.
The highest virtue appears empty.
The purest goodness appears soiled.
The most profound creativity appears fallow.
The strongest power appears weak.
The most genuine appears unreal.
The greatest space has no comets.
The greatest talent matures slowly
The greatest voice can’t be heard.
The greatest image can’t be seen. "

Nothing is lost and everything is lost. I know enough now, I truly do, regardless of how people see me, I know. Life is a powerful training session that is a blink of a  universal eye. It is the bubble growing and popping off the lips of a sweaty, chubby-cheeked child. It is the fleeting suspicion that so many of us worry about and it counts. All of it.

Not in the score-card Heaven-Hell way. Not in the comparisons of “Johnny went to Harvard” or “Jane is making boatloads in finance and her husband stays home.” No…the superficiality of those things has a way of giving measure or meaning to things when we can’t find either in ourselves, in our own evaluations of love and life and the amorphous question of where and why and how.

It counts. What you do, what you undo and how you make people feel.
It counts. What you build or destroy.
It counts. Who you lend help to and who you deny.
It counts. How you care about your thoughts and if you don’t care about them at all.
It counts. How you take part in the community of humanity or how you deject it as a separateness in inferiority or superiority.

It all counts, but least we not recognize that the beautiful contradictions count too.They are the universal reminders that absolutism is silly and impossible to ever prove, follow or own.

The contradictions tell us that there is not a mutual exclusivity. Jesus, Mohammed , Moses, Gandhi, Rumi, and Mother Teresa saw that…so did the witches that got burned and berated for tapping into the communal energies that are about. So too, did the Grinch, Tom Sawyer, Bridget Jones, Henry Miller, Van Gough, and the Shepard in “The Alchemist” tap into contradictions or for a more palatable term: "Paradox." But truly....I'm talking about CHANGING who you are and what you think at any point in time and NOT being considered a "Sell out" "Contradiction" or "Lost Soul." You, and all that makes you kind of contradict past, present or future self is just fluidity and growth.

Nearly every artist, poet and genius writer you can name off the top of your head. Have you noticed that? Have you noticed what calls to your deepest self is NOT the most perfect mom of five with a six pack, big boobs and a half-empty message about health and balance. Nor can you truly jump with joie de vivre reading the sullen dark and hardened bitterness of someone who has lost faith in all fellow men and every intuition. They are all provocative and such limited examples of the vastness that populates internet and books shelves and TV shows…

I ask you to notice the quiet ones.
I ask you to witness those people laughing and smiling despite miserable living conditions (mentally or physically). 
I ask you to focus on the passivity of those who don’t need to be winning or to be the boss or showing how special, how big, one-upping and in the top percent they are.
I ask you to look inside yourself and change only the things you can….you.
I ask you to serve as an example of the strength and bravery it takes to be truthful, in the good times and bad and still hold yourself clear enough to keep from judging too harsh that you would be offended at their return in a different set of life circumstances.

I ask you to consider contradictions as something bigger than it’s rather derogatory meaning, and see them more as the TRUTH of what it is to be human and fallible and trying either very hard or very little, they appear in both scenario.

The contradictions are the BEAUTY.  Contradictions within ourselves and our lives or those we love is change, and considerations of different thoughts when new information is presented. That' least I think....evolution. Contradictions make us human and real and should be seen with compassion, not judgment. They are relative. They are the small crack in a window pane that shows the illuminated dust on the floor or the gleam in someone’s eye.

I love this quote on friendship...change, contradiction and acceptance.

If you so choose to contemplate it all, and also plant the little seed of understanding, compassion and love in a limitless, accepting way….

Read this again:

"The way to illumination appears dark.
The way that advances appears to retreat.
The way that is easy appears to be hard.
The highest virtue appears empty.
The purest goodness appears soiled.
The most profound creativity appears fallow.
The strongest power appears weak.
The most genuine appears unreal.
The greatest space has no comets.
The greatest talent matures slowly
The greatest voice can’t be heard.
The greatest image can’t be seen."

"Shimmer with a smile. Life is hard, bloom anyway."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Same Painting, Different day. Anger and the silver linings in the art of life.

Same painting, different day. Angry lightens, and darkness is part of the art. 

"Does this seem angry?" that's what I asked a couple friends at midnight over text a couple days ago. I laugh at myself often, and strangely in the moment of my overly dramatic emotions. 

I can only describe my last weeks as a washing cycle of emotions and surprises and physical labor and disappointment and the ultimate reconciling of how alone one can truly feel. 

I couldn't write, so I pulled out a canvas...and started to make a black hole because it felt like I was stuck in one....the image on the left is what happened, before my tears were so heavy and prolific that I had to stop.

 I needed to hold tight for a bit and recognize myself in what was actually a qualified (by me) dramatic, sad, confusing, desolate reckoning of the pains of divorce, loneliness, lack of family, friends, overlooked betrayals, forced beginnings and endings and the ramifications of all of it in the quiet silent moments in between "keeping busy" and "moving forward" in spite of the undercurrent around me of disapproval and judgment

Only the next day, did I realize it looked like an eyeball!  There were red angel wings, or a sea urchin? Who's funny now, but I loved that there was still a little silver (teal) lining and lavender calm. I worked with that the next day to complete it. Process it all. And so I did. Just like that, emotions had passed by, and clarity NOT denial settled in. 

After a particularly sad meditation, I felt like looking up the number "11" in my Tao sayings book. So I did, and upon reading that page, I wrote the following in a few minutes, and rarely do I like writing in books, but It felt like a release. 

“There is a sacred darkness within my being.
It holds no opinion, asks not for answers.
It needs no validation, seeks no approval.

It has no envy for light,
It IS light because being the vast emptiness
It can become and is. Always.

There is a sacred darkness within me
That has all the light in the universe
And all the universe has it.
Unformed, unshaped, fertile and fluid

Energy to create something, anything and BE that.
Whilst still remaining where it is.
Everything, and everywhere in all, as all is with it."

So there's that. 
As for today, on this gloomy, rainy, wind-blowing dark day, I'm burrowed in to beam out hope, love and understanding in my novel, in my freelance work, and some pretty exciting paintings I've been conceptualizing. 

I guess the point is that anger is serving a purpose. Sometimes it is to show you a lesson, or teach you about perspective and accountability. When "Old man Pissed-off" brings you to tears next time....write it out, draw, dance, paint, something to get it out that does NOT effect or impact anyone else. 

See what happens. Laugh if you make your own "sea urchin" variation of expression, then pick up your shattered pieces and make a mosaic piece of survival to wear on your life-suit. I did. 

Love, love love, and scary paintings. 



"Shimmer with a smile. Life is hard, bloom anyway."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Possibility Disco and John O'Dono (O'Donohue): Part 1: Simultaneity

Part 1: Simultaneity- A look at circles and spirals from a genius Ex-Priest, philosopher, poet:

(Part 2: "Simultaneous endings and beginnings in my 2015. "Part 3: "Hope Happens when you least expect it.")

I was listening to the words of John O’Dono (Yes, I’m on friendly terms with him.) and as he got to the portion of simultaneity, it struck a chord within me. He believes in circles and the rotundness of life. How time may not be at all linear but rather constant beginnings and endings.

In that context his words danced into comparison of music and death and analogies that seem to work in revolutions or orbits of each other. To paraphrase how I received his message is that  darkness and light, fear and boldness, silence and sound are all siblings or in relation to each other on a deep level of co-existence and balance.

I love the beauty in circles and the infinite. I love the swirls of Van Gough and DNA spirals,  shells and tree rings, Einstein’s theory on energy and even the way my incence smoke resists piercing the air in straight lines, but in curves and spheres and waves of spinning around itself like the planets and stars and all that finds itself in constant vibration and churning of sorts. 

Take a listen of this Video of John O'donohue at Oxford: (40. 08) He speaks on "Simultaneity" and time, and spirals.

Creativity is when the sound comes out of the silence, and beauty and truth can spin and swirl to make new what might have already existed, but with a new perspective. It is the unique twist or turn or light shed, that makes us all valuable artists, from which anyone and all of us can learn so much.

Simultaneity can bring on visions of sci-fi movies, or quantam physics and the whole parallel universe idea. Instead I think of simplicity. Simple existence of multiple things at once in varying stages. We are perfectly accepting of the concept in other forms. My three children grow up in the same environment with extremely similar genes, but at varying stages of life. A tree bears leaf and fruit from the same source at varying stages, survivial rates and so on. I know it seems too simple, but what if it is that simple?

Measurement is made of time passing. Measurement is taken by amounts of liters or ounces filling a holder. Measurement is used to determine the distance from one place to another. These very necessary boundaries hold within them universal ways for us as a collective to interpret all kinds of stuff.

What if we started all over again? The wheel, the naming of that big fire ball in the sky rising and the deepness of that absence of light? Could measurements of all things come in different forms than passing time, or what have you? I think so. I can’t be sure…but why not?

I wrote the quote below (with the original image provided by my VERY Irish friend, Maggie Larson) about my life being a centrifuge. I hadn't even heard of John O'dono, but I'd (rather painfully) come to this conclusion of circles and recycles of life on my own.

So why then do things have a definite end and a beginning that WE, the lowly (not fully capable of understanding nor discovering and labeling ideas with science that can absorb the vastness)  humans who are created by a source we can’t quite prove, living in a universe we can’t quite explain thouroughly, we who posses these many ranges of feelings and emotions, we who haven’t a grip on controlling, we who cannot always make sense and who is often crippled by the whole point that we are here….yes, why then are we so determined to make definite explanations? Seems pretty arrogant or self-indulgent to me.

I like how John O’dono explains his belief of the “Kingdom of Simultaneity” in this excerpt:

He states:
“Time is usually a linear kind of time, moment day, week, and so on. Another level of time, where time is a complete circle, where everything that has happened, and is happening and is yet to happen are somehow all-together within the one embrace. Maybe that’s what the idea of “eternal” means.  That there is no division or separation anymore, and that maybe everything really is as one.  And I think maybe that is what the dead experience and those not yet born. Maybe that is where they live?”

I have none of the answers. I have hunches, I have strange hypothesies and enlightened moments of clarity, and then my three- year old poops on the floor, or my ten year old screams because of some YouTube video. And I’m living here now in this (also spinning) mini-universe of my mini-circus. And I accept that John O’Dono, and all the beauty and wonder to be considered, is also existing in my seemingly inconsequential smaller life of children’s laughter, a young girl understanding letters and words that turn to reading, while a young tween is in the raging stages of becoming.

Beauty is all around us. It’s in absolutely everything with surprise and delights of the fresh dew to the dry, thirsty ground, or the worm rising just in time for the swallow to grasp it as the dolphin gives birth and a tree sprouts to begin its germination and exhalation of life to give us air. It’s all simultaneous and so intricately braided together that we ( I) have found myself in awe again.

I am not classically religious, nor do I define myself by my ever-changing ideas ( see post on "Contradiction" ) of all of it to one specific group. I believe in love. I believe serving lovingly and giving love truly is the deepest beauty possible.

"Shimmer with a smile. Life is hard, bloom anyway."