About The Girl

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California, United States
Not-so-silent observations that splinter my conversations. Harnessing the steady flow of random thoughts and musings that continuously interrupt my daily conversations. Paired here with my artwork and photographs from recent adventures. Non sequitur (pronounced \ˈnän-ˈse-kwə-tər\)- a response which, due to its apparent lack of meaning relative to its context, seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

INSPIRED AND HUMBLED


"The dew seemed to sparkle more brightly on the green leaves; the air to rustle among them with a sweeter music; and the sky itself to look more blue and bright. Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts, exercise, even over the appearance of external objects."

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

What an incredible day! Crisp autumn sunshine. Change is upon us. The ending of the show is, as anticipated, bittersweet.

However I am feeling tremendously uplifted this evening. Grateful to have been introduced to such an incredibly inspiring community of artists, parents and children. Celebrating with cast and crew at the Strike Dinner for Junior Theatre's Oliver! has left an indelible mark on our family. Fagin's speech as he received the cast's Rose award for most inspiring member captured the essence of the evening. With a genuine smile and in a gentle voice he replied that he too felt truly inspired by everyone there. Such grace and modesty...Stories of the boy cast as Oliver who had felt too shy to audition for other shows and had crewed instead. Only to be cast as Oliver on his second show. These kids have been blessed to discover what truly resonates within them, a talent and community that support thems and makes them hum... and in some cases, sing!
What an amazing, uplifting evening!

I felt buoyed by the sheer talent of the cast, mingled with a sense of awe at their camaraderie, modesty and genuine sincerity. I am inspired and reassured by these young men and women who will become our future leaders. I am grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful, welcoming community.

Inspired and humbled.

What might my life look like if I dared to openly take the risks these kids have taken? If I dared to go after even the long shots, mingle with those who might seem above and beyond my own place or status, sing out loud with passion in in public instead of behind closed doors? And offer thanks and gratitude and humility lavishly? What might happen?

"Joy and grief were mingled in the cup; but there were no bitter tears: for even grief itself arose so softened, and clothed in such sweet and tender recollections, that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all character of pain."

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist


Monday, November 2, 2009

THANKFUL FOR NOVEMBER


"Happiness is not having what you want, but WANTING what you have."

Rabbi Hyman Schachtel

November has arrived! In many American households this is the time to begin crafting the Christmas List. Clearly identifying what we DON'T have, but want. Instead in our family the arrival of November means that we spend a bit of extra time taking notice of what we DO have.

We began our Gratitude Bowl tradition a few years ago. Unlike so many other traditions that have come and gone, this one stuck. It's something we all look forward to. An excuse to slow down each day and to take note of all that we have. And then a chance to share these thankful thoughts with those we love.

I think you might enjoy this little experiment as well...Here's how it works.

We leave a dish with a stack of scrap paper, a pencil and if you'd like, a sign reminding you and informing any guests of the tradition. "Gratitude Bowl - what can you be thankful for?"

Throughout the day, any time I notice the dish and at meals, I stop to write down something or someone I am grateful for. At first, in the early days of November, I feel rusty and out of practice. In fact there are sometimes even days when it feels that my items to be grateful for are rather generic!

At other times, especially later in the month, I find myself joyously tossing multiple notes into the dish. Perhaps in recognition of something that just happened. Gratitude begins to flow the more I recognize and acknowledge it.

I enjoy watching my daughter thoughtfully write out her own notes and sometimes stealthily tuck one into the dish during the day. I feel so blessed to be encouraging this flow of abundant outlook. We are so often focused on what we lack, whatever is missing or absent. This is an opportunity to create a mosaic of grateful thoughts over days, a month of blessings and heartwarming reminders. Gratitude nurtures that part of us that knows we are all connected, whole, enough.

On Thanksgiving Day everyone who joins us is invited to participate in contributing to the Gratitude Bowl. Throughout our meal we pull papers from the dish and read aloud the notes that have captured our gratitude throughout the month.

Everyone leaves with a feeling of deep appreciation. Touched by the sharing of good things, happy thoughts, thoughtful deeds, and the abundance that graces our lives. The residue of gratitude lasts far beyond the end of the month.

I invite you to experiment. Let me know how it goes. Create your own variation on this theme and I hope you'll share your stories and perhaps a few of your favorite grateful notes here.

Today I am truly grateful for this tradition and for the opportunity to share how blessedly abundant our lives truly are. I am grateful for the love and support that I feel in my life. I am grateful for this delicious fresh-from-the-farmer's market salad! I am grateful for unexpected emails from loved ones far across the world. I am grateful for crisp autumn days. I am grateful to know that I am missed. I am grateful for clean, pressed sheets on my well-made bed. I am grateful to be tucking in early with a good book. Today, my bowl is overflowing with gratitude.

I wish you each joy, gratitude and contentment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BURNING YES


"It is not until you have a burning YES inside of you about what is truly important that you can
pleasantly,
smilingly,
cheerfully,
say NO to all of that which is urgent, but not truly important.

Our deepest guilt comes from doing the opposite, implicitly saying no to the truly important and yes, yes, yes to the urgent that is NOT important. The more we are free from non-necessities, the more we are free to do the more meaningful actions of our lives."

Stephen Covey, Everyday Greatness

This message is resonating with me today. Just the other day I was approached by a parent who in the simple process of listing her daily activities unwittingly set off a chorus of internal voices within me.

This woman's resume of career achievements and volunteering prowess in combination with her children's extracurricular activities left my head spinning. A tiny, little competitive urge within me began to say..."you could do that too...you should be doing that too..."

But this time that little voice quickly went away. In its place came a strong, resounding, almost booming "that is not how I thrive."

Probably for the first time in my life I left that conversation with a feeling of satisfaction and confidence. It is true that I could do more. I could sign up for and volunteer for more. The change for me has been realizing the cost of such seemingly small decisions.

I enjoy spearheading, conquering, coordinating and rallying. I am learning how to enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing that I have enough and do enough. The pleasure of allowing someone else the opportunity to sign up and be in charge. Feeling the spirit of being a member of the team but not the captain or the one in charge. I have let go of needing to do and be all of this and that.

A few months ago I sat down and wrote out a list of the priorities in my life. The people and activities that I want to give my best to. These drive my choices and have become my short list of Burning YESes. I look forward to reviewing my list, revising and adjusting. These too may shift and change with time.

An unexpected clarity comes with knowing where my heart, intention and focus lie. A blissful reward for the burden that at times arrives with saying no.
No.
Even when I feel the passion, enjoy the activity or agree with the cause.
No. Not now.
Even when I feel a certain sense of urgency to complete, answer, respond or react immediately.
No.
Because while I come from a place of abundance and limitless possibility I believe that I THRIVE when I am able to focus my attention and my energy on my Burning Yeses. I thrive within my very own graceful pace. And my pace and my list may look completely different from yours or anyone else's. And that's enough.

One word can change everything. Now when I meet someone who has signed up for everything and wants to convince me to sign up too, I don't feel pressured. When I listen to the laundry list of activities, boards, organizations and committees that a colleague or friend is a part of I no longer feel like an unnecessary eagerness to compete. For the first time in a long time I feel confident and reassured.

I am thriving. We are thriving. I am grateful. That is more than enough.

Namaste. I bow to the light in each of us. I recognize the gift that is each choice that we make. Each choice that allows us an opportunity to thrive in the true knowledge of our own path. A path that serves us and allows us to thrive.

What helps you to thrive?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

INHALE


Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.


Simple enough.


How we breath is how we live.


The coordinated functioning of our nervous and respiratory systems. Prompted by our environment, our mood, our reactions...this subtle, at times subconscious, act directly influences our energy.


Our shallow, irregular breaths lack the capacity to adequately fuel our organs. Running on fumes blood flow to our organs decreases, compromising digestion and concentration and increasing anxiety levels.


Breath mirrors our response. Stop. Notice. When we gain awareness our breath becomes an instructional tool for living.


When we learn to breath mindfully, deep, intoxicating, delicious inhales and exhales, we suddenly have the power and prana (energy) to live and experience fully.


Today I am enjoying the feeling of my breath when I laugh. The slow, satisfaction as my belly expands with vital air on the inhale. The cathartic wringing of a thorough exhale.


Describe your breath in this moment. Are these words you want to describe your life?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ANONYMOUS




"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." --Dr. Seuss




My daughter's class recently held their presidential elections. This could easily have become just another popularity contest. But my daughter's teacher had what I consider to be a stroke of genius...

Each interested candidate wrote their "speech" out on a piece of paper. The teacher then read each aloud to the class. Anonymously. The children put their heads down and listened to the words, the ideas. Rather than projecting an image of the president onto a fellow classmate or drawing conclusions based upon looks, past experiences or preconceived assumptions. How liberating to be free of all of the clutter associated with appearances and labels and identities! Just to listen to the words in that very moment. And for the candidates to be free to speak them - without the tethers of party, class, gender or color.

My daughter wrote from the heart. Her authenticity rang clear in her words. Even when someone else spoke them.

What might happen if we conducted all of our elections in such a way? Who might have been elected? Who might not have been?

Definitely makes me rather curious! What do you think?
Hint: We would definitely have had a female president by now!




Thursday, October 15, 2009

SECOND TRY


Eat, Pray, Love...Leave?


I picked up this book the first time almost a year ago. Quite frankly I didn't make it past Italy...
everyone raved about it. Perhaps my expectations were simply too high?
Am I missing something?


I felt horribly frustrated by the main character. Alright, she wasn't feeling satisfied or fulfilled in her life. But I felt that she was terribly selfish!
Fecklessly fleeing her marriage, her responsibilities...I'm somehow always reminded of the person left behind holding everything together. Call it empathy. Call it pity. Call it jealousy?


Once again I'm certain this reflects more on my own personality. She does get to leave all responsibility behind and tour around the globe staying in lovely places without a care except where to fetch her next espresso, pastry or pizza.


Don't get me wrong. I believe in dharma, true happiness and recreational travel. I also happen to believe in commitment, responsibility and discipline. There is effort involved in reaching a point of effortlessness. Right?


So I'm giving the book a second try. I don't want to give up prematurely. After all everyone else LOVED it! Especially India which I haven't yet arrived at. Am I just a horrible scrooge for not adoring this book?!


Did Eat, Pray, Love resonate with you? Am I a completely insensitive idiot for not getting it?


Have you ever encountered a book that everyone else adored that just didn't feel right to you?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

REFLECTIONS


"As the book finishes I go as slow as I can. I don't want to leave this book's world." ~Jill Robinson

Delicious reads...

I have recently had a few. And then I've also encountered books that, dare I admit, I've put down or simply left unfinished. Perhaps someday I'll pick them up again. When the time is right.

One recent favorite is a work translated from Spanish. I can only imagine the rich, poetic language of the original layered upon the story. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, reminds us that each piece we read has a distinct way of finding us precisely when we need it most.

"The art of reading is slowly dying...it's an intimate ritual...a book is a mirror that offers us only what we carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day."
The words we read are perceived through our own unique filter, adding our own spin to the story and reflecting the contours of our heart.

What was the last book you read that awakened these feelings in you? What did the mirror reflect? Did you like what you saw?


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

SWEET OR SOUR


My daughter introduced me to a new game yesterday. Are you ready to play?


Next time you're out and about, anywhere, greet everyone you pass. If they respond in a pleasant, kind or generally positive way, they're "sweet." If they ignore you, seem grumpy or annoyed by your disturbance, they're "sour."


Are you surprised by the response?


Now flip the mirror on yourself. Do you tend to be sweet or sour?


Doesn't it feel great when some one's sweet?!...


*Side notes:

This is NOT about judging others or their reactions. Rather about reflecting on our own tendencies.

Actual game was played by giggling, giddy school age children dangling out backseat windows while driving through their neighborhood. Perhaps we passed you.


BEING KINDNESS


"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." - Scott Adams

A dear friend posted this quote on her blog, Life Without Novacaine, recently. http://lifewithoutnovacaine.blogspot.com/2009/10/acts-of-kindness-random-i-think-not.html
Wow it has returned to me over and over again during the last few days. Haunting, in a positive way!
Sometimes in our busy-ness it takes the large acts to really get our attention. The little subtle details of our ordinary interactions, especially with those in our close inner circle, often get missed. But what about each of the little, subtle kindnesses that we extend to one another over a given day?


Slow down.
Scale back.
Create a cushion of space around us.
All of these encourage gratitude to blossom and nurture us and others to continue to let the kindness flow. No matter how small the trickle. These are the ways in which we begin to NOTICE kindness in its many forms.
Kindness breeds kindness, certainly. Showing our gratitude is the water that nourishes kindness.


Sometimes the act of kindness is in the BEING and not in the DOING.


Consistently offering yourself, simply with connection, love, understanding, reaching out on a regular basis or giving a hug. BEING consistently present for those we love and care about means creating a relationship that is based on our simple EVERYDAY presence. Not waiting until the birthdays, holidays, life's big events or when we need something to make ourselves known as friends. This can be a challenge in our filled-to-the-brim lifestyles!


Have you ever had an initial urge to help, reach out to someone, offer a hand, kindness in some form...but then something inside convinced you not to?


What was an occasion when a small act of kindness was all it took to make your day?


What are some of the ways we can BE kind to those we value, rather than DO?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

JUST RIGHT


Remember we are each of us exactly where we need to be - complete, whole and enough, just as we are...



This was my daily FaceBook post a few days ago. I received such an overwhelmingly positive response, that I thought it worth revisiting.


How do we value ourselves? In today's culture how do we assess or personal worth?


It really does make such a difference when we slow down long enough to remind ourselves that we are enough, just as we are. Overflowing with divine abundance.


And just as we move with intention and clarity as we practice on our mats we are capable of choosing to move mindfully through our lives grounded in a place of love, faith and limitless abundance!


Each of us IS this!


Each of us deserves to feel safe in this sense of self-worth, no one more than the other for we are all one. All belonging to the greater whole, perfectly who and where we need to be in each moment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

FEARLESS AND SATISFYING


Imagine what it would feel like to make a commitment to yourself...from this moment on to take only full, deep, satisfying breathes and to approach each moment in the same way with open fearlessness.


What might happen?

Friday, October 2, 2009

WHOLE LIFE


"Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." -from the History of Love


This resonated with me today. What a delicious image.


When we take inventory it's interesting to learn what's truly precious and important to us.


Who or what in our lives would we invest more time diving into and completely immersing ourselves in?


Are these people and things in your life receiving the best you have to offer?


How would your life look differently if you devoted your WHOLE LIFE to answering these questions? Mmmmm, now those are the rich details that make life worth living!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

LOVE LETTERS


I sent a letter this afternoon. By post. Snail mail. I had honestly forgotten how much I enjoy the simplest little details. I adore old-fashioned letters.


Carefully penning my words without spell check or the opportunity to delete and re-write. Selecting a curling cursive or a clean, printed handwriting.


The smells of fresh ink and newly printed stationary.
The textures of smooth pen between fingers and slight roughness of paper under hand.


The act of sealing the envelope, licking the gluey strip (such a distinct taste) and affixing a stamp. The character of stamps can communicate so much!


I walked the letter out to my mailbox. Positioned it carefully in the outgoing holders.


Throughout the evening as I came and went through my front door I found such pleasure in seeing that bright missive resting beneath the mailbox. Off to share birthday wishes and love to a dearly beloved sister. Such joy in sending that out into the world. Knowing someone will receive it very soon.


Our neighborhood mailman will collect it tomorrow. Until then I am enjoying its presence. I wonder how many hands will touch it before it's final destination? So unlike our impersonal, electronic communications. Lacking so many of these precious and sensory details.


When was the last time you wrote a letter? Who will you write your next letter to? Do you recall the last letter you received?





Wednesday, September 30, 2009

KEEP MOVING


“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”–Walt Disney


In yoga, and in Buddhism for that matter, we tend to spend a great deal of time focusing on staying put and learning to be still. This is a valuable tool, especially in our frenetic world. Even our yoga has gained in speed!


For me yoga is an opportunity to slow down and honor my own, individual, internal pace. What do I mean by this? I'm the girl next to you in Vinyasa class who is 1 pace behind everyone else.


It's not that I'm in my own world. I'm not feeling rebellious against the instructor. I enjoy being able to complete each of my inhales and exhales - completely. If we're honest, we spend much of our daily lives "keeping up." In yoga, this is unnecessary. The practice is for the individual and non-competitive. So I take my time...


Some would say that if I come to an organized group class, that it is respectful to stay with the pace and cueing of the instructor and the group. Otherwise, what's the point? It's a distraction to others that I'm not "keeping up." I would agree if we were describing a choreographed line dance. But we're not. This is yoga. It might look lovely to have everyone completely synchronized together. That's not the objective here.


How does it feel?


Personally, I ENJOY my yoga. I savour each pose. I taste each long, juicy breath. I truly feel the deep connection between body and breath in motion. The synchronization comes with the unification of my breath to my movement. Each movement begins with a breath and ends with the last of the breath. This creates a symbiotic, moving meditation, as individual and unique as each person in the room.


As an instructor it brings me great joy to watch someone flow on their own through class. Mind you, it's respectful to remain within the same series of poses and not off doing inversions while the rest of the class is in a standing balance series. I agree that can be disruptive and at times even unsafe.


We come together to practice to unite our energies and to honor our diversity and our uniqueness. Just as we know that each pose is uniquely our own. My warrior II (virabhadrasana II) is not a mirror image of anyone else's. So why would I expect my breath and timing to be? The opportunity is for each of us to find our own pace and our own pose.


Seasoned instructors act as guides, offering a thoughtful class sequence, a consistent cueing pace, a thoughtfully arranged play list and perhaps a few calculated, authentic assists that will all combine to immerse a yogi deep into their own practice. Only the yogi will be able to truly feel, listen to and guide their own body, breath and spirit where they need to go.


Are we getting to where we need to go?


I started this post with a quote that says, to summarize Walt Disney's words, "keep moving."


Our stillness, our personal pace, our preferences and our routine, can create a cocoon of comfort protecting us from the opportunity to evolve. The chance to experience delicious discomfort.


Fear is in the driver's seat.


For me this arrives in the form of inversions. I have my practiced few inverted poses that I feel I have mastered. I am confident in them. Comfortable. It's good to know what we're good at...but when I am faced with practicing the others I might choose to be the independent individual. Rather than experiment, maybe even fall, I will just do the poses I know. This is all about me for a change so that's my prerogative, right? Exactly. Tell myself a story so that it feels acceptable to stay put...but in this case, I need to keep moving.


Keep Moving!


I am encouraging myself to practice what feels uncomfortable. To perceive my world through a lens of non-attachment. I am becoming liberated from my habits and routines, explore the poses and paces and even instructors who are outside of my comfort zone. I am letting go of both my successes and my failures. I stay put and present long enough to know that I am capable. And then I will simply keep moving and keep growing. And, yes, I am enjoying myself along the way.


When in your life have you stay put when you could have kept moving? How do you know when it's time to get moving again?



Sunday, September 27, 2009

LOVE!




It's absolutely true. LOVE! makes anything and everything possible...

What I've only just begun to realize is that LOVE! doesn't need to originate from someone or something else. LOVE! doesn't require an active recipient. LOVE! exists. Period.

And like the words and thoughts that reside within each of us, LOVE! lives on inside of us. Our most powerful form of LOVE! originates within ourselves and for ourselves.

Perhaps teetering upon the edge of this knowledge enabled me to take a leap of faith. To send my words out into the world in the form of a blog. For before I would have feared that perhaps no one else would LOVE! my words.

There is also a rumor that most blogs have an audience of ONE. But the simple fact that you or I LOVE! enough to write, paint, photograph or produce anything and put it out there into the world...THIS is enough.

Our LOVE! alone makes the act and the product valid. Our simple joy of creation. No recipient or reciprocation expected. Like sending radio waves far out into the heavens...uncertain they will ever cross paths with something or someone that may experience them (and would they have a form of the sense of hearing even if they did?!).
Merely a pleasant surprise if the act or product does in fact resonate with another. Create a connection. Open a door for a conversation. Or perhaps empower someone else with the knowledge that they too are capable of doing the same.
"Love sought is good, but given unsought is better." Twelfth Night, 3. 1
THANK YOU! I am so grateful for each of your comments. This Blog was just nominated for the LOVE! This Site Award on Divine Caroline!
Now YOU can VOTE for my blog. Click on the LOVE! This Site Award Badge. It's just to the right of this post and below my Profile picture. Then you can VOTE for this blog.

I am so grateful for your willingness to share in this journey with me, to read along, to comment when you feel it. And thank you for VOTING for what you LOVE!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

THE FINEST BALM







"Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love."

Jane Austen

Have you yet to navigate the murky waters of love as it contemplates friendship? Is it simply shocking satire to court the idea? And if not, at what point does the act turn from tortuous displeasure (think rubbing alcohol directly applied on the wound) to soothing "balm"?

The emotional shifts to rational yet clings to the possibility of an enduring, loyal relationship. That tenuous space in between offers us a mirror with which to view ourselves more clearly.

Precarious as the jagged edge may feel, an elegance exists here. A silent sanctuary created in the absence of breath and hope but pregnant with the realization that nonetheless life and love endure.

We lack nothing.

Everything is falling apart and then back together even better than we ever could have imagined.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A FLEXIBLE FAITH


“When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe in one of two things: There will be earth upon which to stand, or you will be given wings."






When all else fails, what remains?

Faith is a powerful tool. In times of challenge, weakness, darkness our faith acts like a compass, guiding us in our choices and lending us a much-needed sense of direction and purpose.

However if we begin to cherish our faith to the exclusion of all else, we risk isolating ourselves from the glorious diversity that surrounds us. As soon as our beliefs begin to limit our ability to openly hear others, a shift occurs. The system that once acted to our advantage instead becomes a burden, an obstacle preventing us from connecting, evolving and actively participating. We stunt ourselves when we presume to know. And in turn, we stop listening. Our assumptions fortify barriers. Shielding us against new information which threatens to alter our entrenched beliefs.

Truly listening means there is a part of us willing to offer itself to the possibility. The potential that something we hear might change us. That there is still more for us to learn.

What would our daily conversations feel like if we were to approach each interaction with this precious possibility? A promise to listen openly and intently. To allow that which we hear to somehow create momentum. To drop our shields. To experience the act of communication in that very moment...with a shocking uncertainty of what might result.
Willing to let the words and emotions break upon us like a wave. The word's power equal to that of water. Constantly shifts the grains of sand upon the shore. But the shore nevertheless remains.

Next time you listen, create space for the words. Truly allow for the possibility. And notice...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

WELCOMING TRUTH




Honest. Authentic. Genuine. True. Satya.

How many times throughout our day do we adjust the truth to serve our purpose, to protect our self or others, or to please?
"When you try to protect people by not telling them the truth, you multiply their suffering."

When we openly, willingly share the truth we create space for our relationships to grow and thrive. When we alter the truth or leave out essential details we build obstacles for ourselves and others to overcome.

Truth expedites results and actions. As if we've dropped a stone into a pristine pool of water. The ripples immediately follow. It's definitely smoother to swallow our truths.

We may tell ourselves convincing stories...that our lack of truth is simply in an effort to protect those we love or to avoid conflict and unnecessary discomfort.

Each time we fail to communicate our truths, we succeed in breeding distrust. We may even begin to forget how to trust ourselves.

It's ever-so-easily done...a quick and harmless agreement to an engagement or commitment. "I'd rather be easy about it!" "I don't want to be a hassle."

We may notice an immediate sense of remorse for what we have agreed to. We feel a sudden urge to rescind our words. A squirming within us to undo what we have spoken or to develop a ploy to excuse ourselves from the commitment.

In these moments we create suffering for ourselves and others. Our short-term solution suddenly binds us to a long-term problem.

As Eckhart Tolle acknowledges, if we do not come to each moment with acceptance, enjoyment or enthusiasm then we bring only pain with us.
What a gift! The freedom that is offered when truth is encouraged and reciprocated.

Are you willing extend an open invitation for truth? To share in giving and willingly receive the same?

What might rise to the surface buoyed by such an authentic offering?




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Graceful Pace











I dream of rocking chairs side-by-side on a wide wrap around porch. A sun that lingers lazily in the sky allowing us time to truly savour the remains of the day.
A place where our senses have grown accustomed to the incessant sounds of nature - running water, chirping insects, gentle breeze, rustling trees - rather than the disruptive tweets and reminders of technology. A delightful chorus interrupted only by long periods of absolute, deepest silence...
Are you daring enough to sit quietly without the shield of your words? What might blossom from the fertile soil of our silence?

The scale is simultaneously grand and humbling. A broad sky packed with stars. Endless fields. Massive rock formations that appear like bones exposed from beneath the earth's skin.

The details are marvelous. Textures of rough bark and revealed wood. Petal-softness, tender underfoot. Nape of peduncle...

I crave this change of scenery. The opportunity to be reintroduced to a graceful pace. When simplicity marvels extravagance. Slowness, stillness, like the tortoise, conquers.

Is it necessary to evacuate in order to create this sense of space, of time, of plenitude and scale?
Can I feel humble and filled with grace when surrounded by our hectic pace? I answer with a resounding yes! We make our own peace. We choose our own pace. Wherever we are...

Will you join me? Where, when how do you find your pace of grace?








Tuesday, September 22, 2009

JUICY


Ripe with possibility...


I spent this summer in search of pluots. I exhausted every farmer's market and roadside stand. In search of that perfectly irresistible combination. A delightful mingling of textures, flavors, sensations - plump yet firm, sweet yet tart, crisp yet subtly soft.
Biting into one of summer's jewels embodies the tastes, smells and sounds of all things summer.
Bursting. Overflowing. Mouth watering.


Time is fleeting...


Yet today is the first day of autumn. The pluots have come and gone. I am in search of something seasonal and ripe. Something to sink my teeth into. But how to tell when life's fruits are truly ready for me to enjoy them? Timing is everything.


My grandfather once demonstrated to me the art of determining if the persimmons on his tree were ripe to perfection. Simply put, it's all about the touch. He gently raised his index finger and touched the sweet, softness of skin along his cheek, just before the jaw bone.
This is a place of tenderest skin without the skeletal structure of bone or muscle beneath. A delicate and unrecognized indentation on the topography of facial features that render us distinct. Have you ever touched that softest of places upon your own face? Or have you dared to feel that ripeness in another?


Seasonal...


I choose to harvest the fruits from my every experience. I relish the juiciness of life's pleasures. Extracting the essence from every moment. Savouring each distinct flavor, taste, sound, aroma. Noticing the delicious discomfort that surges through me as one season fades and another blossoms.


Where do you find the juicy, flavorful bits of life? What awakens this unbounded liveliness within you? What stirs for you this eagerness that NOW is the time...or the knowing that stillness and patience will bring that which time has perfected?






Sunday, August 30, 2009

GIGGLES




"Little Miss Giggles has lost her giggle..."

I have a soft spot for children's literature. It's concise, filled with whimsical illustrations and often ends with a delightful message.
Why is it that as adults we tend to drag everything out?
Unlike most writing for adults, juvenile literature has been carefully boiled down to only the necessary essence. Anticipation is a powerful device when used sparingly. As adults we are tempted to over-complicate everything.

Keep it simple!

I wish there was a children's book editor who would glance at the story of my life. I could use a bit of rewriting. There are too many confusing plot twists and right about now we're sorely lacking in happy endings. Our audience is becoming restless.
Can I demand a rewrite?

So many examples of satisfying characters and playful story lines exist. The Mr. Putter and Tabby series or anything written by Cynthia Rylant offers amiable characters, playful spins on ordinary situations and little life lessons. Or take the Little Miss series...always ready with a happy ending of some sort. Babar and Madeline offer extraordinarily detailed artwork combined with imaginative stories. Our well-worn editions of Babar and Zephir and Madeline and the Gypsies continue to be read and reread again and again.

Miserable Miss Giggles still hasn't found her giggle.

In the end, dear Mr. Happy cleverly presents Miss Giggles with an empty box, containing one medium-sized giggle. When her beloved friend claims that giggles are invisible, Miss Giggles replies that that's a preposterous idea! And then Miss Giggles proceeds to GIGGLE.

Anyone have an empty box handy?
The life of a bedtime story character is so simply satisfying!

What are a few of your favorite bedtime stories? Do they mirror your life?
May all beings be allowed to find great happiness, peace and sweet dreams.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

JAY WALKING

I use the cross walk. I always diligently press the button. I patiently await the changing of the signal.

Have you ever wondered if the walk button actually does anything or is simply there for placebo effect, to persuade us that we have some level of control over the situation?

When the signal tells me it's time, I move purposefully on my path. I obey. No time to stroll.
Paying close attention to what I'm being told, as the signal shifts to the red hand, I begin to hustle hurriedly across. Red hand. White person. Why is the person green?
"The captain has turned off the fasten seat belts sign. You are now free to move about the cabin." Is it truly freedom if someone else is in charge of determining when you receive it?

Am I the only one who feels they often simply forget to turn the darn thing off?!

I live my life in a similar fashion. I wait for opportunities to present themselves. Then I respond. Methodical. Orderly. Planned. I am patient.

What happens when I desperately want to get somewhere and the universe hasn't yet changed the signal?

I feel an urgency to move away from where I am right now. Anywhere but stay here. This is no longer a delightful discomfort. This is an excruciating urge.


There are others I know who confidently chart a course across streets, between cars, darting through the gaps in traffic. Moving is a chronic state for them.

Are they choosing to deliberately cut corners and to break the rules or simply to follow an inner voice?


Rather than wait for the signal these brave (or foolish) pedestrians take control of their fate and charge forth. Convinced they are able to determine when the timing is right for them. Signals are meant for other people. The ones incapable of determining when it's appropriate on their own.

Is there fearlessness or courage in jay walking?

The signals, rules and cross walks were designed to keep us safe, to keep things orderly, to allow traffic to continue to flow. This system serves the community. What happens to the individuals' rights?

Does this habit reflect the way in which we live our lives? I stand still, quietly waiting for life to tell me when the time is right. Waiting. Deliberately. Emblematic of my path to date. Others spring forth and seize the moments and opportunities as they observe them. Pouncing with a ferocity for life. A zeal. A hoot-spa!

Would it serve me to become comfortable with jay walking? Or is there value in staying put where I am with my discomfort? Who will send the signal to let me know which is the appropriate choice?

What about you? Do you jay walk through life? Or are you practiced at staying put?

DUTY, COURAGE AND POSSIBILITY


I have a guilty pleasure. I treasure the time when I curl up under the covers with my daughter and we read bedtime stories together.
Storybooks filled with elaborate, colorful pictures illustrating a black-and-white world; good and evil, handsome and ugly, young and old, rich and poor...and always HAPPY ENDINGS.


Last night, this quote spoke to me:


"Duty means doing the things your heart may well regret." The Princess and the Pauper


Is this true? When we have an obligation do we necessarily pay dowry with regrets? I consider my duties as a parent, teacher, friend. These roles come loaded with responsibilities and sometimes tether my expectations. When I am honest I hold no regrets. At times, I do, however, forget to properly align my expectations with my current reality.


"Courage is the key that opens every door." The Princess and the Pauper


I absolutely believe that this is true. Wisdom and bravery combine to make courage. Courage breeds possibility. Creates openings. Clears the space for all good things happen. What would you do if you were fearless?


May our courage open the door to possibilities far beyond what we ever could have hoped.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

HOPE REMAINS













"Hope" is the thing with feathers-/that perches in the soul-/And sings the tune without the words-/And never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

It won't go away. My natural instinct appears to be to hope. It stubbornly tags alongside me.

Decades ago I received a copy of Dickinson's collected poems. My heart aches with the truth of her words.


Hope obstinately sits beneath my window. I've shut it tightly. Drawn the blinds. Nonetheless I can hear its faint but continuous song. My sycophant embellishing each irrelevant detail to hope's advantage.

Hope lingers. Loitering within my dreams. Slow to leave but ever-so-quick to return. Softly nurtured in my sleep.

Hope's delicate whisper of wing to wind never ceases. Would it be wiser to hope for nothing?

I am not yet brave enough to let hope leave me completely. In silence. Alone.
Perhaps the wisdom truly comes with hoping for everything, yet admitting that we know not when it will arrive.

CHANGING MY TUNE

Organ music tends to drag me down. On a glorious morning in Balboa Park I welcome the din of leaf blowers over that of the organ.


Organs make grave companions.

I have always fervently believed that organs are best left to accompany church choirs, dastardly villains, wax museum monsters and Vincent Price. Not necessarily in that order.

Organs lack versatility.

The deep, resonant tones of the organ tug me into a somber state. Its heavy, melancholy notes sap the very life and vital energy from around me creating a funereal mood.

Changing my tune.

This evening I witnessed a joyous, "thrashing" of the Spreckels Organ. Our musician played with an enthusiasm he credited to his fourteen-year-old self. Dennis James has played the organ alongside silent films at Spreckels for over 2 decades. This man is unquestionably, contagiously passionate about what he does. So much so that his zeal sustained him during 77 continuous minutes of pairing his delightful music to Buster Keaton's silent film, The Cameraman.

Uncontrollable laughter.


I cannot remember the last time I laughed so continuously, so raucously. I felt compelled to stop laughing myself only so that I could enjoy the guffaws and fabulous belly laughter that surrounded me. Here is a hero I truly want to rally behind - a clumsy-yet-amiable human, imperfect and yet perfectly loveable. It almost feels like voyeurism, watching Buster become instantly enamored with Sally, his open admiration and their awkward first date on a Sunday stroll.

Elicits delightful emotions.

I credit Mr. James' sheer delight for warming my heart to the organ's tunes. This man is obviously living his dharma. Together with an audience of several thousand, my emotions rose and fell on cue with Mr. James' precise coaxing.

Resonant Laughter

There is something extraordinarily therapeutic about laughing out loud, uncontrollably at times, in a large crowd. The vibrations of unrestrained laughter resonated within us, surrounding us with positive energy, similar to the chanting of om as the sounds harmonize and become one with everything. I have a colleague, Santosh, who guides a Laughter Yoga workshop (http://www.yogasantosh.com/). Unexpectedly, I believe that I experienced a sampling of the transformational power of this form of yoga tonight.

What is it about the silent film that awakens our inner emotional dialogue?

Silent films embrace simplicity, minimalism. The message is pure and uncomplicated. Transparent. Genuine. It's true that at times the scenes are slightly exaggerated to illustrate the story in the absence of dialogue. But I felt no lack, no shortage, nothing missing from this evening's performance. Only abundant humor and high spirits. Instead it was absolutely perfect. Timeless.

Once again, contrast.

Such stark contrast to the presently noisy, muddy and complex productions created by Hollywood. Usually I would bemoan the crowd's laughter as distracting, a hindrance to hearing all of the dense dialogue necessary to explain the subtle details of the plot.


Charmed.

Not tonight. Here the audience's reactions became the dialogue, a supporting role to the events unfolding on-screen. The laughter mingled with the live organ music to create a spontaneous symphony chronicling our response to the plights and pleasures of our hero and his quest to woo and win the girl. Relying on the audience to truly, openly feel. I left charmed by the experience. I find myself eager to allow the simplicity of laughter and silent movies to infiltrate the rest of my world.

May sheer, authentic joy reverberate throughout your life like an uncontrollable, belly laugh.

In order to illustrate the evening's tone I feel it necessary to share a sample of laughter and organ music mingling. ENJOY!

video

video

To learn more about the Spreckels Organ, upcoming events and how to support silent movie night, please visit, http://www.sosorgan.com/.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

DETAILS








I am a recovering runner.
I would rush and hustle and hurry with a fierce pace, everywhere. Miles would pass in a sort of hazy blur. My sole concern was to push farther, go faster.
In my haste I missed all of these lovely details. The subtleties, like the first signs of the changing seasons, would go unnoticed.

I am grateful for the power of slowness. Now I appreciate meandering. I savour soaking up the details. Noticing. Listening.
What do you notice when you slow down?

UGLINESS


The rain fell gently.
Enormous drops, timed as though the sky were opening. Shedding heavy tears. Pregnant with the weight of accumulated emotion.
On a balmy, summer night, accompanied by intermittent showers, I watched eagerly as the tale of Shakespeare's Cyrano de Bergerac unfolded before me at The Old Globe's outdoor theatre.
There is something truly magical about entertainment of any form outdoors, under the stars. Perfect timing! Could it be the stray moth fluttering across the stage lights or the unexpected tickle of a raindrop?

While most of us lack Cyrano's blaring protuberance, we each travel with what we believe to be our own unlovable aspects of ourselves. These facets may be less immediately visible than Cyrano's extraordinary nose, but they present equally treacherous obstacles between us and the achievement of our authentic happiness.

I watched as Cyrano confidently conquered his adversaries with his delightful combination of wit and words. All the while, he hid his talents behind the mask of what he believed to be the idyllic, handsome figure. Cyrano repackaged himself.

I was reminded that each of us feels a secret longing for acceptance and love. Someone who will love even those parts of ourselves that we view to be glaring imperfections, unlovable features that we struggle to live and accept ourselves. We ache for the day when someone is willing to love us because of our humanness and beyond even our own expectations.

Granting Wishes

For a time we find ourselves frivolously tossing coins and wishes into fountains - reckless of what we ask for and how it might be granted. If we're fortunate, there will come a time when we find a genuine wish, our heart's true desire that requires a patient, thoughtful, focused gesture. Let us honor the intrinsic beauty cradled precariously within this hope.

"...have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time--beautiful?"E. M. Forster, A Room With A View

Tact and fear have a habit of tightening the reins on the natural strength and beauty of our emotions.

"Through the whirlwind which your eyes stir up inside me. But now, in this blessed darkness, I feel I am speaking to you for the first time."- Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 3

Blessed darkness may take the form of lengthy emails. A format in which a trusting heart blossoms with the latent force of conversations yet unopened. Oh, the possibilities that lie restless and awake as darkness descends upon the park! In the silent stillness I feel a rising tide, filled with all the words left unspoken, now gushing forth, aching to flow freely upon your eager ears.

"You're a genuinely good man. There aren't many of you left."- Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 2
May we each find peace, happiness and love - abundant and true. I have faith that this too will all work out even better than we ever could have imagined.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

TRADITIONS




"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."


Gustav Mahler

Our family history is filled with quirky superstitions and time honored traditions.
Sometimes it feels like ashes are all that's left. And here I sit, foolishly pumping the bellows trying to restart a pile of cold, dead ash.
One person doesn't make a tradition. These are the makings of communities and families. Nostalgia infuses our memories with warm thoughts of traditions long lost.
What Makes Tradition?

What qualifies something as a tradition? Is it years, generations or multiple family members recollecting and reproducing the same event over time with a story? What makes a tradition distinct from other regular occurrences or routine habits? There is something unusual and playful about our family traditions. Typically, these traditions have been passed down among several generations and their origins are no longer traceable. A verbal retelling of the explanation is all that remains. Holidays especially tend to have family traditions intertwined among the festivities.

Highway Pieway:

The act of stirring one's ice cream together to create a malleable soft-serve-like consistency. Then patiently smoothing, digging and texturing to create roads and geographies. We would draw out the experience of dessert, carefully molding a unique frozen landscape.
Two Sides
Strangely, many of them were passed down by my father's side...Do the Irish tend to have more prevalent traditions than the Germans? Might some traditions verge on behaving like genetically recessive traits? Some families simply nurture more traditions, passing them along, over time helping them to grow and thrive.
Harmless Tradition or Superstition?

Bayberry Candle:
A bayberry candle burned to the socket means health in the family and wealth in the pocket. In our daily lives tradition verged on superstition. When does tradition become obligation? I would fear to forget to light a bayberry candle on Christmas Eve. I would be too concerned that the result might be a year of poor health, little wealth and general bad luck.

Please Pass the Salt:

A salt shaker must be set down on the table, rather than passed hand-to-hand. Am I willing to pass the salt shaker directly, hand-to-hand? I'd rather go through a lengthy explanation of this unusual family tradition of unknown origin. Otherwise, who knows what misfortunes might ensue?

Shedding Tradition

At what point does tradition no longer serve us? How do we determine this? Is a tradition something of value to preserve or simply a means of spreading ashes across the generations? When does the tradition enrich the experience? When we lost my father I found myself clinging to memories and traditions. As time passes, some of this naturally falls away. Hopefully we willingly shed that which is unnecessary and no longer authentic for our family.

Kindling Traditions

My daughter and I have begun a few of our own traditions. Thanks to a lovely dinner a few years back at a dear friend's home (The Boyle's), we now include Family Peace at the end of our pre-meal grace.

On lazy mornings we always enjoy playing the Under-the-Covers game.

We still enjoy Highway Pieway. Only our variation is with non-dairy ice cream and frozen yogurt. Yogurt Escape is our recent favorite!

Natural Selection

Some traditions fade over time. Others we adapt and redefine to fit our changing lives. I only sincerely hope that I am present enough to judge when it is time to let go and shed the traditions and routines that no longer serve us.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Einstein

This is a wonderful quote as it has many facets to it. Here, I am introducing it to elaborate that I truly believe that we are all a bit insane, especially families. We create roles for one another. Ultimately we often practice the same scenes over and over again, all the while expecting a different outcome. These are the traditions it would best serve us to leave behind and shed.

There is a fine balance between diligent practice and foolish perseverance. If we are willing to listen and to learn, evolution will help us to identify the flame worth preserving.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HAPPY ENDINGS







I'm absolutely positive that I'm not the first one to note the contradiction inherent in happy ending. It's an oxymoron, of the truest kind. And if we examine the phrase, we find that it’s false advertising. After all, most happy endings are in fact, bright, new beginnings.

We're all familiar with the way it plays out. Just as the gorgeous bouquet of cut flowers he hands you will eventually wilt. It predictably begins...

Once upon a time...

After much fuss, somewhere near the end, a tragic, rather gruesome finish deservedly comes for the wicked stepmother, evil queen or terrifying, dog-killing lunatic.

What is Cruella Da Ville? A cougar of the fiercest kind?!

I rather doubt if any of them were still alive to comment, that they would describe their endings as happy. No, somehow that doesn't seem to be a line these villains would easily deliver.

Instead, the happy refers to the bright, new beginnings and unlimited possibilities that the future holds in store for our heroes and heroines. Now that the other ending has conveniently disposed of their adversaries, our champions can happily move on.

What happens when there is no evil antihero?

These days the story lines have slowly blurred, disintegrated. Our protagonist lacks her rapscallion counterpart. Without the contrast of her evildoer's dire fate, our heroine's happy ending appears woefully bleak.

Contrast

Our courageous woman must single-handedly survive both fates. Alone she must create the desired contrast that enables us as an audience and her as our central character, to truly appreciate the happy ending. She must weather the expected demise of something or someone she desires. This sense of loss then creates the opening for what is to come. On cue, just when we fear that all is lost, a happy new beginning occurs.

Yin yang.

In order for the happy to exist, the end must also simultaneously exist. Therefore, it would be redundant to quip happy beginnings.

Timing

If we could only depend upon a timely happy ending. The arrival of a convenient solution within the hour, just as our patience was lapsing and our faith seemed challenged. Next Stop Wonderland.

Like karma we know only that the opposite of our condition exists, somewhere, possibly just beyond the horizon, or possibly as far off as in a whole other lifetime.

Hopeless Romantic

My favorite cinematic happy endings tend to offer contrast paired with a solidly happy ending. While a favorite, The English Patient is a bit too tragic for words. Disney movies almost always offer a clearly happy beginning to the end. There is no remaining doubt or uncertainty. From Snow White to The Parent Trap to Enchanted the unhappy endings lead to joyous beginnings. One of my all-time favorites, A Room with a View, offers slightly less clear-cut distinctions between good and evil, but a nonetheless tragic-turned-delightful ending. While Shakespeare focused on the endings all around for Romeo and Juliet, Cyrano and Much Ado About Nothing provide a slightly more cheerful outlook at the finale.

Wishing you all sweet dreams and happy endings that lead quickly to even happier beginnings.

Monday, August 17, 2009

THRIVING








Light. Pure and magical. Captures the intrinsic transparency and radiant energy in all things.
May the dark, heavy veil that weighs upon you be lifted. May you feel a joyous lightness surge throughout you, transforming endings to beginnings.
What once appeared lifeless and hollow now resurrected, thriving.