Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Stillness of the Season

Well, here we are. Two days before Christmas. If you are anything like me, you are spinning around like a whirling dervish trying to finish shopping, wrapping presents, baking all those yummy things that you only make this time of year, and stuffing all of your crap in various closets or even appliances so that your visiting friends and family will not think you a total failure when it comes to housework. (You can hide a lot of crap in the washing machine.) It is the most wonderful time of the year.

When I read the Wishcasting question today, I was once again amazed at Wish Mistress Jamie Ridler's ability to ask just the right question at just the right time. Always deceptively simple, her questions always seem to get to the heart of the matter. Today she asks, "What do you wish for this holiday season?"

Stillness. I wish for stillness. I wish to stop rushing about trying to meet deadlines, clean the house, do the shopping and the cooking, trying to make those happy holiday memories come hell or high water - rush, rush, rush! Don't burn the cookies, don't forget the whipping cream, don't forget to pick something up for your great aunt Sarah who is making a surprise appearance this year, don't forget to finish that project so you can get paid so you can pay the mortgage next month, don't forget to take the time to look at Christmas lights with your kids . . . Enough already!

I wish to be still inside and out - to quiet my body and my fears and anxiety. I wish to be still and know, to be still and create space for the Divine, to be still and feel the energy of millions of souls celebrating all that is love and holiness. I wish to be still so that I can feel the magic of a child who believes in miracles. Be still.

Wishing you all a few moments of stillness during the craziness of the holidays.

Peace and love!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Free Spirit

We hear a lot about spirit this time of the year - the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving and such. Yet, how many of us take the time to think about our own spirit? Today, Wish-mistress Jamie Ridler asks us to reflect on our spirit by asking, "What is your spirit wishing for?"

Hmm. I have been mulling over this for a few hours, which tells me that I am woefully out of touch with my spirit. Finally, I just asked her, "What do you want?"

Here is her response:

I want to be set free.
I am tired of being kept like a prized possession
locked away in a box and taken out only on special occasions
when you reflect on who you used to be.

I wish to be released from the prison you've created for me.
I am tired of hiding so that you can pretend
that you are satisfied with what we used to have.
Don't you wonder what we could once again be?

I want you to open my cage and liberate me.
I want to howl at the moon and dance naked around a fire.
I want to be the fire and the music and the wind in the trees.
I wish for you to give me the freedom to let me be me.

Wow. What might happen if you let your spirit free? What does your spirit wish today?

Peace and goodness to you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wishing for a Winter Wonderland

It's the most wonderful time of the year, or at least we hope it will be. Somehow we seem to find ourselves overwhelmed with the busyness of the season. We rush around trying to get all the shopping and baking done, trying to make sure we fit in time for all of the in-laws and out-laws in the family, making the rounds to all of the holiday parties, sending Christmas cards to people we haven't seen in ten years and will probably never see again, and don't forget all the Christmas pageants and Christmas concerts. All too often we find ourselves relating a little too much to Ellen Griswold in Christmas Vacation when she states, "It's Christmas, Audrey. We're all in misery."

Today, Wishmistress Jamie Ridler asks us to make a winter wish.

My wish is rather simple. I wish to slow the hell down this winter. I wish to take the time to revel in every moment of this season with my Angelgirl. I wish to spend time honoring the traditions in my family that are important to me, and I wish to create new traditions with my daughter that have nothing to do with the over-commercialization and over-complication of a very simple holiday. I wish to remember and honor a "hooker hugging hippie" who valued love and compassion above all else and to teach my daughter to do the same. I wish to strip away all that holds no importance to me so that I can focus on all that does. I wish to rest in the silence of winter and prepare for rebirth in spring. I wish to avoid the chaos and craziness and revel in the peace of the season. I wish for a winter wonderland filled with the wonder of love and laughter.

How about you? What do you wish for this winter?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monday on my Mind - Through a Grandmother's Eyes

Whew! As we get back in the groove after our trip to the Northwest, I am so thankful that my Angelgirl has so many people who love her. She could do no wrong in the eyes of her grandmother and great grandmother this past week, and she literally glowed from all of their love. Watching Grandma Ole love on her grandbaby got me thinking about my own great-grandmother.

They broke the mold when they made Rubye Alice. We called her Ninnie, and she had two children, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren when she finally set off on her final adventure. She could drink and cuss like a sailor, but she loved gospel music and her Southern Baptist church. She had a glass eye and a small square hole in her chin that she swore she got when an Indian shot her with an arrow. She travelled from a small town in Texas to the far corners of the world, and she never backed down from a dare, even if it meant jumping off the high dive at the age of 75!

What I remember most about Ninnie, though, is her enormous capacity for love. She wall-papered her bedroom with newspaper clippings about her "babies" and every picture and letter those babies ever sent her. Layer upon layer of fingerpainting and crayon drawings covered those walls long after we had graduated from crayon. Anyone who ever visited Nin's house had to tour her gallery. They would also have to hear about her six great-granddaughters. It got to be a family joke. Anywhere she went, she would tell anyone who would listen, "I got six great-granddaughters, and they are the most beautiful great-granddaughters God ever gave anyone." She took the six of us to the movies once, and when we were in the bathroom, yes the bathroom, we could hear her telling every lady who walked in that she had brought her six great-granddaughters to the movies, and that we were the most beautiful great-granddaughters God ever gave anyone. When you're thirteen, you can be embarassed by that kind of love. Decades later, you crave it.

That kind of love is a special gift. Watching Angelgirl's grandmothers watch her, I remembered how my grandmother watched me. Through our grandmothers' eyes, we are perfect in our imperfections. We are beautiful and talented and unique. We aren't awkward or insecure or just an all out mess. We are divine and precious and loved.

So today I am going to try to see myself through my grandmother's eyes. I can't think of a better way to start the week.

Today, take a moment to look in the mirror through your grandmother's eyes. What do you see?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday -Leaving on a Jet Plane

Every Wednesday, the ever-wise Jamie Ridler encourages us to stretch our wings by casting our wishes out into the universe. This week, she asks, "What do you wish to embrace?" Finding my answer to this question was quite a journey:

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go . . .or maybe not. We leave tomorrow for a nine day trip to visit the in-laws for Thanksgiving. My list of things to do before we leave keeps getting longer rather than shorter. Now, I am a seasoned traveller. I moved overseas when I was three years old. I travelled between various Latin American countries and the United States for twelve years. I did the Europe thing as a teenager, and I travelled back and forth between Texas and Alaska for years. This trip, however, is about to put me over the freaking edge.

I remember back in the 70's when travelling was quite glamorous. People got dressed up to fly on a plane. They fed you real food on real dishes with real silverware. The back of the plane, aka the smoking section, resembled a cocktail lounge rather than a plane. People stood around drinking cocktails and chain smoking and making new best friends.

Fast forward 30 years. Travelling is just a hassle. Forget the fact that you better pack your own food if you want to eat, but don't you dare try to bring your own beverage. You have to practically strip to get through the metal detectors. Forget about wearing your cute shoes because they are too hard to slip on and off to get through security. Oh, you also have practically unpack your carry-on to display any liquids you might have, and god forbid you should leave your laptop in its bag. You consider not taking a carry-on to avoid the hassle, but then you have to pay to check your bag. No wonder people are so surly by the time they get on the plane. Still, at the end of it all, you arrive at someplace new and exciting with adventures waiting.

With all of the hassle, a husband who hates to fly, and a surprisingly independent and spirited four year old, I'm almost tempted to just stay put. Now, instead of just packing a bag and jetting off in to the wild blue, I have to pack enough activities to occupy my two "children", I have to take the dog to the vet, get the mail held at the post office, arrange for someone to check on the house, empty the fridge of any potential science experiences, and on and on and on.

Travelling is a lot like life sometimes. When we are young and want change, it is exciting and glamorous and relatively easy. We dye our hair black, get a few piercings, buy some different clothes and totally change our identities. As we get older, changing and growing and transforming become more of a hassle. They involve a hell of a lot more baggage. Our friends who encouraged our younger transformations suddenly resemble a hostile TSA agent: "You can't do that, you can't wear that, please come with me . . ."

Still, the after all the hassle, we wind up someplace new and exciting with adventures awaiting.

So this week, I wish to embrace the often infuriating, always frustrating process of getting from here to there. I wish to embrace the journey with all of its messiness.

How 'bout you? What do you wish to embrace this week?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday on my mind - Fear and Loathing in the Pages

So, I've been kind of AWOL from blogging lately. I have all sorts of "legitimate" excuses - too much work, sick kid, blah, blah, blah.

The bottom line, however, is that I just haven't been able to face the page, or in this case the screen, in a while. I've been afraid of what I might say, what I might need to say. I blame it all on the Morning Pages.

I've been doing Morning Pages* religiously for a little over three months now. I've surprised myself with my dedication to the pages, but I truly love doing them. They are the one place I can be completely honest. That's part of the problem. The pages have forced me to become brutally honest with myself. There is no hiding from myself in the pages. I've had to face myself as I truly am - warts and all.

This has been a little uncomfortable sometimes. Facing my true self rather than the artificial mask I wear to fit into this carefully constructed suburban world has made me angry. I'm so angry with myself for letting Me be marginalized so that I could conform to a lifestyle that represents everything I loathe. I guess, at some point, I thought conforming would be easier. Maybe it has been, but I no longer recognize myself in the mirror. The sparkling green eyes I've always loved are dull, dead.

I feel like I've been "lost in a haunted wood" for the past five years. Now that I am finding my way out, I am really pissed off at myself. Getting myself out of this situation is going to be a lot harder than getting myself in to it. I have to, though. I'm tired of being afraid. I'm tired of being angry. After filling two notebooks with my fear and loathing, it is time to do as my granny used to say, "Shit or get off the pot." I can't fill another page without taking a step in a new direction. It doesn't have to be a big step, but it has to be a step. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

So, on my mind this Monday is - What can I do today to put Me back in the captain's seat of my life ship so that I can turn my ship to my true North?

I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know. In the meantime, check out this post from Patti Digh at 37 days.

What step do you need to take to align your life with your true North?

*The morning pages consist of three to four pages of stream of consciousness writing that are part of the creative recovery process outlined in The Artist's Way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just Say Yes!

Every Wednesday, I take time out to make a wish. Using the prompt so lovingly provided by Jamie Ridler, I cast my wish into the universe. This week, Jamie asks:

What do you wish to say "yes" to?

OK, so my first response is not all that profound - my size 6 jeans that have been hiding in the bottom of my closet for 5 years. However, my ass and my appetite are shouting a great big, "Oh hell no!" to that one, so I guess I'll have to think of something more sublime.

I wish to say "yes" to my muse. I've told her to go away so many times with lame excuses like "I'm too busy right now," or "I'm just not in the mood today." I've hidden from her because I am afraid of her power and her truth. I've even just flat out slammed the door in her face so I wouldn't have to come up with an excuse. I'm ashamed. I shouldn't have taken her for granted.

After being told "no" so many times, she hasn't come knocking in a while. I'm afraid she may be a bit fed up with me. So today, I say "Yes. Whenever you are ready to visit me again, the answer is yes." And so I wait patiently.

Wishing you nothing but goodness today and always.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday on my Mind - Two Dogs and The Artist's Way

In the introduction to The Artist's Way, the author warns that the journey will certainly involve highs and lows, and that the reader should expect explosive anger and grief and resistance. I read this. I believed it. Ijust didn't think she was talking about me. After all, she doesn't know me. How can she just assume that I will fall into the Pit of Despair?

Well, I have. All of this self-discovery and excavation is hard. It is exhausting, and it is damned frustrating. I've been in a pretty bleak place, but then yesterday an incredibly wise woman shared a story with me that I'd like to share:

A shaman told his apprentice, "I have two dogs fighting in me all the time. One is good and happy and peaceful. The other is evil and sad and destructive."

The apprentice asked his master, "Which one will win?"

The shaman replied, "Whichever one I feed."

This same wise woman, only moments before, had been reflecting on those times when we read something or we hear something and we know that it is for us - almost as if the universe has placed those words in front of us at just the right moment because they contain some truth that we need at exactly that moment. Well, when she told me that story, I had one of those moments. I felt like I'd been hit by a two by four.

Don't we all have these inner conflicts? Not necessarily the big Good vs. Evil, but maybe more subtle conflcits. We have one dog who is justifiably angry about injustices suffered fighting with a sweet puppy who just wants to let go of the anger and be happy. We have the confident, outgoing labrador battling it out with a submissive, fearful spaniel. We have the talented, creative genius fighting it out with the insecure, blocked artist-child. Though outside forces may have some impact, aren't we really the ones feeding the dogs?

Personally, I have way more than two dogs fighting in me right now, and they are being particularly vicious lately. I've been feeling a little battered and bruised, so I kind of withdrew for a while. Honestly, I was in danger of setting up permanent residence at my own pity party for one. (I don't believe in sending out invitations for those; no one really wants to come anyway.) Then, along come this story that smacks me upside the head. I have to face the fact that I'm the one feeding all of those damned dogs.

Today I decided that I need to feed a dog that has been in danger of starvation. I played on the swings at the playground like I used to when I was 6. Swinging higher and higher, watching my toes reach for the blue infinity, and feeling the wind hug my face brought me joy that only a 6 year old flying through the sky can feel. While it didn't necessarily end the fighting, I'm starting to see how I can give the dog I so desperately want to win a fighting chance.

So, are you mindful of the dog you are feeding? How do you feed the dog that you want to win?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wishing . . .

Every Wednesday, Jamie Ridler encourages us to cast our wishes out into the universe. This week she asks, "What do you wish to complete?"

Can you here my maniacal laughter? If I were to list all of the things I want to complete, I would spend the rest of the day completing that list. However, two items on that list stand out above the rest.

First of all, I want to complete a short story I've been writing in fits and spurts. I've been messing with it for a while, but I'm feeling a bit defeated by it. I seem to be quite good at writing snapshots; it's the big picture that gives me trouble. Anyway, I just want to finish it so I can move on to something else.

Now for the big one. I wish to have the courage to bring a rather important relationship in my life to completion. It is a relationship that does not nurture me, nor do I think it is nurturing the other person. I think we both feel stuck, but we stay because that is what people do. Because completing the relationship will be messy and painful. Because we are afraid. Because it will affect the one person we both love beyond words. So, I wish to have the strength to address this issue in the most compassionate and loving way possible. I think that is all I am prepared to say about this for now.

Wishing can be a dangerous thing, because sometimes you get what you wish for. What do you wish to complete today?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday - on My Mind- Be Mindful of your Foremothers

This Monday morning, my foremothers are occupying my mind. Specifically, I've been thinking about my great-grandmother. I was fortunate to have her in my life until I was 20. She was 95 years old when she passed away, and in the time I knew her, she did spend time doing nothing. However, this wasn't always the case.

When she married in her early twenties, she spent her days cooking three full meals a day for my great-grandfather and his eleven brothers who share-cropped with him. We're not talking bologna sandwiches; we're talking fried chicken and mashed potatoes with cream gravy. We're also talking about no indoor plumbing and no air conditioning in the West Texas heat. No microwaves, no prepared foods, no dishwashers, and no paper plates or paper napkins. Even when she had tuberculosis and was exiled to an outbuilding, she was still expected to have lunch on the table at noon. On top of this, she had to tend to the family garden if they were to have any vegetables to eat, care for the chickens, and do the weekly washing with a washboard. The thing is, I'm sure she thought she had it easy compared to her great-grandmother. After all, at least she had access to a market and a pump to get water out of the ground.

After my bout with the flu last week, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how much time we really have. Technology has added hours to our days. We no longer have to fetch the water and make the soap to wash the dishes. We just load them in a machine and push a button. Of course, now we have to spend hours working to pay for that machine, but still, we have it pretty good. Take a minute to imagine yourself as a pioneer woman settling on the great plains. I can't imagine that those women ever had a moment to themselves, a few minutes to indulge in nothingness.

Take a moment to imagine the hours Jane Austen must have spent writing the entire manuscript for Pride and Prejudice by hand. Every edit requiring a complete rewrite of the entire page. No cut and paste option. No ability to back up your work. I can just imagine a page or two getting ruined by a spilled cup of tea. Can you imagine the frustration?

I have to imagine that all the women who have come before us would think us very lucky indeed to have so much time. So today, I wish to be mindful of those women. I wish to honor them by being mindful of my time and by spending it wisely. How will you honor your foremothers today?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nothing is Easy

Over the past few years, I have discovered that whenever there is a particular life lesson that I need to learn, the universe responds with compassion by providing the ideal opportunity to learn that lesson. I've also learned that when you fail to take advantage of the opportunities the benevolent universe has offered you, she tends to bitch slap you. I know all of this, yet I still find myself getting slapped around from time to time.

Last Friday I complained that I was a little stressed about trying to find fifteen minutes to dedicate to doing nothing. I had decided to join The Next Chapter, an online book club hosted by the brilliant Jamie Ridler, and I was already stressed about the first ingredient of The Joy Diet - Nothing. I'm self-employed so I can set my own schedule. I do have deadlines and such, but I do have quite a bit of flexibility. Yet I was still a little overwhelmed by the thought of taking a mere fifteen minutes for myself. After all, the world might just stop spinning if I stop tending to everything. The ever wise Lawendula tried to point me in the right direction with this post, but I didn't listen. After all, I had Important Things to do.

The universe responded with all her love by bitch-slapping me with the flu. Turns out, I had loads of time to do nothing. Five days to do nothing but lounge around in my pajamas in my bedroom, quarantined from the world. Surprisingly, the world did not crumble down around me. The things that absolutely had to get done somehow got done. It turns out that when you're sick as a dog, you become much more efficient. A fever addled brain refuses to waste time that could be spent dreaming those lovely delirious fever dreams. It really doesn't care about anyone's Facebook status or who got eliminated on Top Chef. It just wants to sleep.

I learned so much from my week of nothing, though not necessarily the things I would have thought. First of all, I learned that I have so much more time than I think I have. I waste too much time doing things that aren't really helping me. Five minutes here and there add up to hours that could be spent more joyfully. Secondly, I learned a valuable lesson about prioritizing the things that are really important to me. When you only feel human for a few moments at a time, you quickly learn what is really important and what can be put off until later. Most importantly, I learned that I really have no more excuses. I have the time. I know what is important to me. There is no reason not to act accordingly. There is no excuse for not taking my creativity more seriously. There is no excuse for not taking better care of myself. There is no excuse for not taking every opportunity to laugh and play with my daughter. There is no excuse for not taking the time to simply enjoy life. That's so simple, isn't it? Yet it is so hard for so many of us.

Here's hoping that we all find it easier to find the joy in life as we add the next ingredient to the recipe.

Wishing you all nothing but goodness.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where's the Joy?

Today is the start of a new book for the Next Chapter Book Club, an online book club hosted by the brilliant Jamie Ridler. The book selection for this go-round is The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.

As I was writing my morning pages this morning, this question kept knocking around in the back of my mind. To get it to quiet down, I am going to ask you: What has happened to us as a society that we instruction manuals on how to be happy? How did we manage to get so lost and disconnected?

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty happy, positive person. After all, I've devoured The Art of Happiness. Yet here I am, knowing that I need to read this book. It isn't that I don't know what to do to protect my mental health; it's that I seem to put myself on the back burner. Don't we do that too often? Especially as women and wives and mothers and caretakers. Every one else comes first. All our other obligations come first. Take five minutes for myself - are you crazy? I don't even get to go to the bathroom by myself!

Maybe it isn't that we need an instruction manual; maybe it's just that we need a reminder to cherish ourselves. Maybe we just need to remind ourselves that we deserve to treat ourselves to a diet of pure joy. Whatever it is, I am looking forward to this journey.

Perhaps it is divine providence that the assignment this week is NOTHING. The next five days of my life are going to be absolutely insane. I have a crazy amount of work due, I'm going out of town for a training, and the list could go on and on. The idea of doing nothing for 15 minutes a day sounds wonderful, but stresses me out a little too. I'm going to accept this synchronicity as the Universe telling me to slow the hell down. I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stretching Big!

Every week, Jamie Ridler poses a simple question. At first glance the question may seem simple; however, as you let it stew a bit you find yourself lovingly cursing Jamie for making you examine your life more closely than you may want to. This week's simple question:

How do you wish to stretch?

Hmm. I wish to stretch BIG! I wish to stretch to fulfill my full potential. I wish to stretch and grow to fit into the person I'm intended be. I wish to stretch into infinite possibility and endless opportunities. I wish to stop hiding behind excuses, logic, and reasoning so that I can stretch into intuition, wisdom, and love. I wish to stretch into my Bad Ass Wild Woman and out of But Maybe, to stretch and grow without thinking or rationalizing because it is what we are all meant to do, and to constantly stretch upward and outward towards all the beauty and love that this world holds. Now, SSSTTTRRRETTTCCHH! You'll feel better if you do.

Wishing you nothing but goodness. May the wishes of your heart come true.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Bad Ass Wild Woman

After writing Wednesday's post, I cruised on over to visit Blisschick's blog and had to laugh at the "coincidence" that she was interviewing someone about their inner Wild Woman. I hadn't ever named my impulsive intuition before, but as I was wishcasting Wednesday, she named herself: Bad Ass Wild Woman.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After all, I have the "Eccentricity Revolution for Wild Women" poster set as my wallpaper. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes to associate intuition with the Wild Woman. When I think of Wild Woman, I think of primal, animal instincts. Knowing without words. Knowing without having to think or analyze. Just knowing and acting on that knowledge.

But why Bad Ass? Because I need her to be. I need her to be a Bad Ass because, frankly, I don't listen to her very well. I need her to be willing to kick me in the ass when I'm being a pain in hers. I need for her to push me when I'm too afraid to jump. She's a Bad Ass because I am not. I rationalize and make excuses and over-analyze everything. I carefully weigh every possible repercussion of every possible decision. She just does it because she knows the eventual outcome will be the one possibility I overlooked. She knows that if I just listen to her, no matter what the outcome, we will be able to handle it together.

My Bad Ass Wild Woman is needing some love because I have shut her out for far too long. I'm gonna go spend some time with her doing something wildly impulsive. How do you spend time with your BAWW? How do you honor her?

Peace and Goodness to you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Learning to really listen

Once again, Jamie over at Jamie Ridler Studios has asked a question that seems to hit a little too close to home. Today's question leaves me feeling like I've been punched in the gut - a good sign that I need to listen to my answer.

Today's question: What do I want to learn?

I want to learn to really listen to myself. I am smarter and wiser than I am usually willing to admit. I have a very wise inner voice that would lead me if I would only let her. She was there to warn me before I got myself into any number of damaging relationships. Instead of listening to her, I listened to the "But maybe . . ." voice.

I used to think that the But Maybe was my hopeful, optimistic voice, but I am learning that she is my self-sabotaging voice. She convinces me to make choices that I know will end in heartache. When my Bad Ass Wise Woman self says, "This is a bad idea, period," little old But Maybe pipes in, "But maybe it will be the most wonderful experience of your life. Maybe you can change him. Maybe you can learn to be happy with this situation. Maybe this will be enough." When I listen to But Maybe, I find myself in pain that takes years to heal.

On the rare occasions that I listen to Bad Ass Wise Woman, I find myself in the most amazing places, in the most fulfilling relationships, and in the midst of that peace that passes understanding. I'm afraid that I have ignored her into silence these past few years. So, I want to learn how to bring her back, to honor her, and most of all to listen to her and heed her wisdom.

What do you wish to learn today?

Monday, September 7, 2009

My first story

I rummaged through my old trunk this weekend. Somehow, through dozens of moves across oceans and continents, I have managed to hold on to this trunk and its contents for over 20 years. It has somehow survived several planned and a couple of unplanned purgings of my personal possessions. I have gone through the contents of this trunk dozens of times in the last decade, so I was quite surprised to discover something in it that had somehow escaped my notice for the past few decades. It was this:

A short story I must have written when I was around 7 or 8 years old. As I read it, I was struck by how bold I must have been at that age to sit down and create a story. How bold that little girl was to place it somewhere for safekeeping for all of these years. What happened to that boldness? When did she stop creating? When did she lose her confidence?

OK, to be completely honest, the plot was lacking a bit, but there was a discernible climax, and the opening was pretty dramatic. Some of the writing was even quite descriptive and evocative. I found myself wishing I could hug my younger self. I want to encourage and nurture her. I want to tell her that she shows true promise. I wish I could help her find people who would encourage her to pursue her dreams, and I wish I could protect her from the criticism from without and within that will silence her for thirty years. Most of all, I wish to borrow some of her boldness.

I wish I could tell her that she does have something worth saying, stories worth sharing with the world no matter how much she believes she might not. I wish I could tell her that she is unique and fascinating and has a quirky way of looking at the world that is worth sharing. I want to tell her to hold on to that boldness no matter what.

I want to tell her thank-you for sharing some of that boldness with me. I will keep her in my heart and my mind, and I will bring forth her boldness whenever the whispers of self-doubt grow into screams. I honor her by showing up on the page, even when I don't want to - especially when I don't want to.

What words of wisdom or encouragement would you pass on to your younger artist? How do you honor her?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I wish to begin . . .

Well, Jamie Ridler has stumped me again with todays wish prompt. These questions seem so easy, so simple, but they really require a bit of introspection and self-examination. I'm still not sure what my answer will be, but here it goes.

What do you wish to begin?

I wish to begin creating more space in my life for me and my writing. I wish to begin protecting myself and my space from would-be invaders. I wish to begin honoring my craft and my creative spirit, and in order to do so, I wish to begin creating a sacred physical space for my work. I wish to begin creating a space in my home that is mine, a small corner where I can find rest and refuge, safety and silence, tenderness and time. I wish to begin taking myself seriously as a writer and to claim that title with no hesitation or doubt. I wish to begin now.

May all your wishes come true, today and always.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Identity

For the week two of the Artist's Way, Miss*R asks a great question:

What object represents your own sense of identity?

I've been mulling this over for several days. I don't know why this has been so hard for me. Perhaps it is because I feel like I've lost a bit of my identity over the past few years. I got a little lost for a while. As I slowly try to excavate my authentic self, I am constantly struggling to find my way from who I once was, who I have recently been, and who I really am to who I want to be.

Finally, this morning an object popped into my head that I feel comfortable saying represents my sense of identity:

A suitcase.
Always waiting for the next adventure.
The contents ever changing to suit the situation.
Sometimes knocked around a bit in the process.
Sometimes ending up in unexpected places.
Sometimes forgotten in the back of the closet,
but always ready to go.

I am a traveler. I love moving and traveling to new places. I always have. Having moved and traveled constantly for the first three and a half decades of my life, I'm not sure I know how to stay put. Traveling presents a unique opportunity for us to be honest and authentic in a way that is not possible when we are surrounded by people we know. Traveling provides the ultimate learning experience; through learning about other cultures and places, we learn so much about ourselves - our preconceptions, our prejudices, our values. It also requires no small degree of flexibility and creativity. Perhaps my lack of travel for the past few years has contributed to my "identity crisis" this week. I'm going to go dust off my suitcase and show her some love.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank you

After reading so many wonderful wishcasts, I thought this song is something we should all sing a little more often. I think it is totally appropriate, and maybe even necessary, to thank ourselves for giving us the permission to show up and be ourselves. Thanks to all you wonderful wishcasters for your warm wishes and your inspiration. Enjoy!

Go ahead and dance your ass off. You know you want to.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My wish for today

Today's question from Jamie Ridler has really made me stop and think. Normally I just read the question and write the first thing that comes to mind. I try not to overthink or analyze my response. When I read today's question, however, my mind was completely silent. I've taken a little time to let the question stew a bit, and I am still not sure if I have a response. I guess we'll see.

What do you wish to acknowledge yourself for?

I suppose I wish to acknowledge myself for taking myself seriously for the first time in far too long. I wish to thank myself for putting me on my list of priorities. I wish to acknowledge myself for realizing that I need to take the time to take care of myself, to honor who I am. When I do, I am more grounded, more steady, more at peace. Although I am sure I could come up with a few more things to acknowledge about myself, I feel that I need to acknowledge this and put it out there so that I don't forget how important I am to myself, so that I don't get lost again.

Wishing you a happy Wednesday. Honor yourself today.

My Imaginary Lives

So in theory, I should be almost through with Week One in the Artist's Way. One of the tasks for this week asks this question:

If you had five other lives to lead, what you you do in each of them?

I would be a fire dancer and rejoice in all that is elemental. Spinning ecstatically, feeling the heat pierce the darkness, moving to the rhythm of the earth.

I would be a nomad and travel the earth. Constantly learning and continually seeking the universal truths.

I would be a musician and lose my individuality by joining in a communal birthing of a symphony conceived a hundred years ago.

I would be a chef and create food from the heart that feeds the heart and provides the sustenance needed to change the world.

I would be a pilot and soar above the earth, lost in an endless blue and gray sky, flying with the gods.

What would you do in your five imaginary lives?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Greatest Man I Know

I was so lucky to spend some time this past weekend with the greatest man I know. I don't spend near enough time with him, but every time I do see him, I come away awed and inspired and questioning. For a man who just turned 84 years old, he is so incredibly perky and spry and funny and passionate and sparkly.

Like anyone who has reached that age, he has been through his share of grief and loss. He is a member of that Greatest Generation who fought to save the world. He was a waist gunner and radio operator on a B-24 bomber, and like so many others, he was shot down over Germany.He likes to say that he got spend the last eleven months of the war recovering from his wounds as a guest of Herr Hitler. He still doesn't talk about that very much.

He lost his first wife to cancer when he still had two children at home and had to work full-time to pay for her medical care. More than thirty years later, he lost his second wife to alzheimers. As she started to show signs of the disease, he fought his family, her family, and the doctors to keep her home with him. He once again became a prisoner, this time voluntarily. He gave up his freedom to spend every moment caring for her for more than three years until she finally found her peace in her own bed with him by her side.

After everything he's been through, he is still one of the spunkiest people I know. He just threw himself a birthday party for all his friends and family. He travels and plays golf and is very politically active. He loves to laugh and tell jokes and go shopping. He embraces life and is genuinely happy despite everything he's been through.

What is it about him that has enabled him to still find joy in life despite all he's been through? And why do other people who seem to get lost in bitterness? Blisschick discussed this recently here, and I often find myself asking some of the same questions. Why do some people choose bliss while others choose misery? Do the misery lovers even realize that they've made a choice? Do they know that they even have a choice?

I know I don't always choose wisely. However, even when I am my grumpiest, crankiest, most unfit-for-human-companionship self, I do realize that I have a choice. All I have to do is look at my grandpa, the greatest man I know, and realize that I can choose happiness. Who reminds you to be happy?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


After my last post, I started pondering a certain irony: the very thing that made me feel safest as a child also makes me feel the most insecure as a writer. The books that gave me comfort created a rather vicious inner critic. After reading so many wonderful books by gifted storytellers and wordsmiths, my critic loves to tell me that I will never be able to master my craft. She loves to say that calling myself a writer is an insult to those writers I admire most. She really is quite heartless, isn't she?

I suppose the universe enjoys irony. Doesn't it often seem that the very thing we love and cherish the most has the most power to destroy or paralyze us? Hmm. Must ponder this some more.

Safely along the Artist's Way

Remember how much I love synchronicity? Well, the universe has been working overtime, it seems, to help me out along my way. Over the past month, I kept hearing and reading about this book, The Artist's Way. The church I've been visiting has a group just finishing the book, it has popped up in my cyber-browsing repeatedly, and it just seems to be everywhere I look. From experience, I know that when the universe speaks to me, I'd better listen so she doesn't have to clobber me over the head. So, I checked out the book from the library and set it in my TBR stack. Then I happened upon a group of bloggers getting ready to work their way through it together. Needless to say, I opened the book right away and got to work before the universe, in her infinite compassion, sent copies of The Artist's Way raining down upon my head.

So, this is week one. I have been doing my 3 Morning Pages of stream-of-consciousness type writing for three days now. I love doing this first thing in the morning, which is strange because I am so not a morning person. I feel like starting the day by acknowledging and paying attention to my craft helps me take myself more seriously as a writer.

Anyway, this week is about recovering a sense of safety. When I was growing up, we moved around quite a bit. Not just move from one part of town to another, though we did that also, but moving from one country and culture to another. I was shy and insecure, and always had a hard time making friends. From a very early age, I took refuge in my books. No matter where we were or what sort of chaos was swirling through the household, I could always escape to the world created in whatever book I was reading. It was my private hiding space that I could carry with me wherever I went. Even when in a situation where I couldn't read, I could still imagine myself back into the hiding space of whatever book I was reading.

Books are still my safety blanket. There are books on my bookshelf that I will probably never read again, but I keep them because they provided a safe space for me during various tempestuous periods in my life. Seeing them reminds me of how far I've come. There are books that I can open and reread a million times and still lose mysef in that hiding space. That hiding space is what led me to writing. That safe place that lies on the edge of reality.

Where is your hiding place? What makes you feel safe amidst the chaos?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

We've been knocked out of commission around here for the past 5 or 6 days thanks to the virus du jour, but I think everyone is finally on the mend. Sooooo, it is back to writing. Today, Jamie asks a great question:

Who is the 'you' you wish to be?

I wish to be brave and fearless in pursuing my truth and my creativity. I wish to be wild and spontaneous and joyful. I wish to be strong and compassionate and peaceful. I wish to write, dance, and play with honesty and authenticity. I wish to find peace, and in peace I wish to find joy and truth.

It's not too much to wish.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I love the way the universe responds to the searching of our true hearts. Synchronicity, coincidence, whatever you call it, it is pretty darn cool. After my reflection on wishing yesterday, I read these words by the incomparable Pattie Digh:

We don't often allow ourselves to be surprised as adults.
Our unwillingness or inability to be wowed is exactly the
problem - we equate being surprised with being unprepared
and naive.
(from Life is a Verb)

The universe is so loving and compassionate! When you embark on a spiritual (and sometimes even a physical) journey, guides and teachers seem to start popping up to give you exactly the help you need at exactly the right time. Here I was pondering why it is that we lose our sense of wonder when I read Patti's explanation. A great big huge thank you to the universe for leading me to Patti and all the other teachers and dreamers I have found and all of those I've yet to encounter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Every Wednesday, Jamie Ridler encourages us to wish big. Wishing is a skill I think we often lose as adults. Children have no problem wishing, and they wish BIG. Kids don’t wish for a better job or a better body; they wish for castles and dragons and rockets to the moon. When we grow up, we start analyzing our wishes and we stop wishing for the magical, impractical, and joyous. At least I did. I’m ready for a change, though. I want to wish BIG, so here is the wishcast for today and my BIG wish:


I wish to open the door to all that is magical and mysterious. I wish to open the door for my younger self to express wonder in the little things: the road runner running through the yard, the shape of a lone cloud floating across the sky, the flowers that keep blooming despite withering heat and unending drought. I wish to believe in the magical with the faith and determination of a child, and I wish to close the door on my own cynicism.

I'm Back

I’m back from a long blogging sabbatical. While this blog is still fairly new, I’ve not been happy with the direction I was taking in my writing. I haven’t felt as though the writing really reflected who I am or what I am about. After a great deal of reflection and self-investigation, I’m back and ready to write. I look forward to moving toward writing more authentically and intentionally. I’m excited to see where this blogging journey will take me, and of course, I am wishing for nothing but goodness.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Peaks and Valleys

"Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug." At least according to an old country song. I have always loved that line. Today I realized that sometimes you are both.

Today was filled with peaks and valleys.

LOW: Getting up two and a half hours earlier than normal to get some work done a project with a looming deadline only to be joined by my daughter five minutes after pouring my first cup of coffee. So much for working.

HIGH: Realizing that I have lost 4 pounds this week - Woo-hoo!

LOWEST POINT OF THE DAY: Standing in the parking lot of the grocery store while Angelgirl is screaming inside the minivan while I try to explain through frustrated tears to the very kind customer service representative from my bank that the bank had absolutely no business changing my PIN because I can't seem to remember it and she needs to change my PIN back to the same one I have used for 20 years. The old PIN is a good PIN. There is a reason I haven't changed it in 20 years. I can remeber it!

HIGH: Finally being able to use my debit card for the first time in 2 weeks

LOW: Keeping a cranky child who has been awake an extra 2 and 1/2 hours awake even later than normal because of a tornado warning.

HIGH: Not getting hit by a tornado.


Watching Angelgirl on her first merry-go-round ride.

That smile makes everything better. Life is still good.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Perfect Day

We are having such a great day. Angelgirl has been dying to play in a pool, so we went to the grocery store to pick one out. We looked at all the different options and discussed the pros and cons of each different model. Angelgirl finally picked out her perfect pool and bought it all by herself.

We have taken up residence outside - Angelgirl in the pool and me underneath the shade tree. Giggles and splashes fill the back yard. The laughter is only interrupted by cries of,"Mommy, watch me! Mommy, look at this!"

Even the dog is content.

Who would have thought that this would be my perfect day? I'm not drinking margaritas on the beach, sailing in the Caribbean, or climbing a mountain. Nevertheless, I am blissfully happy. Listening to the love of my life lose herself in joy lightens my soul. She reminds me how important it is to live in the moment. She urges me to forget the tasks yet to be done and the mistakes of the past and find joy in this utterly perfect moment.

Life is good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walking with my Angel

Every morning we take our beagle for a walk. For a while, Angelgirl was riding her bike while the dog and I walked. The last few days, however, she has decided to take her baby for a walk in her toy stroller. It is a little bittersweet for me. It seems like I should still be pushing her in the stroller, but I digress.

Now I love my Angelgirl. I love everything about her. I love that she notices every squirrel, rabbit, and ant while we walk. I love that she notices which flowers have bloomed since our last walk. I love that she stops to let every single roly-poly pass in front of her so she won't accidentally run over him. I love that taking a quick walk around the block with Angelgirl means planning on being gone for at least 45 minutes while my poor dog nearly chokes himself from trying to keep us moving. Most of all, I love that I can take the time to let her explore her world without having to rush her. Life is good.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Teeter-Totter - In Memoriam

The weather has been unseasonably cool (or at least not so hot that you want to put ice in your bra) for this past week, so we have been getting out and exploring some new parks. Parks have definitely changed since I was a kid. Some changes are good. After all, I will never lament the demise of the metal slide. As a kid, nothing sucked worse than seeing that tall, shiny slide mocking you, daring you to climb the ladder and expose the back of your legs to third degree burns for the thrill of fastest descent known to man.

Still, today's parks are nothing like the parks of my childhood. For one thing, there is all that infernal plastic. Everything is plastic, even the faux wood playscapes. I miss the parks that allowed us to get hurt and learn a thing or two. One of the things I miss the most, though, is the teeter-totter. When did the Safety Gods decide to ban teeter-totters? and more importantly, why?

So here is my ode to the teeter-totter - in memoriam

The Teeter-Totter

See Saw, Marjorie Daw,
we sang and giggled and laughed.
Up and down, and up and down
as the days of our childhood slipped past.

We would take turns holding the other to the sky
and tell all the secrets of the day,
then it was up and down, and up and down
'till all too quickly our youth flew away.

Remember lifting your feet so you landed hard
and your partner nearly bumped off her seat?
Up and down, and up and down,
now it's your turn. Try to stand on your feet.

Where did it go? Why did it leave?
Our playmate, our childhood, our youth?
With all the ups and downs and ups and downs,
about life, the teeter-totter taught us the truth.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Best Mother's Day Present

I confess - I used to be one of those TV-Nazi moms. We had strict limits about what, when, and how much TV Angelgirl could view. I've loosened up quite a bit over the past month or so. I'm still pretty particular about what channels she can watch, but she has been given a lot more choice about watching TV. What does this have to do with Mother's Day?

Well, yesterday while I was getting ready to take Angelgirl on an outing, she decided to watch a little Dora. After the episode was over, she came running into the bathroom saying, "Mommy, I want to make you a Mother's Day present all by myself." I was surprised and touched. After all, we hadn't really talked about Mother's Day that much. I told her to wait just a second and I would help her get some supplies out. She ran off. (She pretty much runs everywhere these days.) I finished brushing my teeth and was putting my contacts in when I hear, "Help! I can't reach the crayons."

I come out of the bathroom to see Angelgirl climbing on top of the table to reach the crayons in the middle. She was being so independent that I just let her do her thing and went back to get dressed, all the while listening for any cries for help. About 10 minutes later, she came running to me with this picture:

"It's your Mother's Day present and I made it all by myself." Of course, being the overly emotional person I am, I started to cry. I was so touched because she had taken great pains to do it all herself. Now, my husband could have taken her to buy me a present, or she could have made one of those infernal "projects" at preschool, but neither would have meant half as much to me as this sweet, sweet gesture. This was all Angelgirl. She decided what she wanted to do, and she did it all on her own. Now I know that the suggestion probably came from Dora, but still . . . . How good to have a daughter who is genuinely sweet.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stop and Smell the Daffodils

There are so many things that I am enjoying now that I get to spend all day with Angelgirl. Of course, sleeping in is pretty high on the list, as is not having to rush her out the door in the morning. However, the thing I'm enjoying most is just watching her set her own agenda.

Most days, she wants to start off the day by making a list of things that we are going to do. We started doing this back during Spring Break when I was working on a huge project. I found that if I have to work, she handles it much better if it is on the list somewhere. Anyway, we make a list with pictures and checkboxes of things we are going to do. She loves being able to check things off the list.

I also love that she can do an activity until she is ready to do something else. Angelgirl is quite a bit like both her parents and can become completely absorbed in an activity. She can play with her Little People for hours - seriously - without getting bored or anything. In fact, she becomes quite irritated if we interrupt her game. I love watching and listening to her play when she is so completely immersed in her imaginary world.

I also love that we can take time to really observe the world around us. Angelgirl has taken a great interest in our daffodils that are blooming a little late. Everyday, she has to go and check on them and see how they are growing and which ones are blooming. I am so happy that she has the time to just observe nature in action. It brings me joy and reminds me that we should all slow down and smell the daffodils a little more often.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tending her Garden

On Earth Day, Angelgirl decided to take care of her own bit of earth by watering her flowers and the grass with her little tea pot.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Is there anything better than the unadulterated joy of a child?

Angelgirl and I just took the dog for a walk. She was riding her little bike with training wheels and getting a little tired. As we started to descend a hill, she had an epiphany. She realized that if she peddled really fast, she could take her feet off of the peddles and just coast down the rest of the hill. I will always kick myself for not having a camera to capture the moment.

The look of joy on her face, the giggle, the "Wheeeeeee! Wooo-hooo!" . . . talk about goodness.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's a Maria! A Lesson from my Daughter

We've been quite busy for the past week. The grandparents came to visit for Angelgirl's birthday, which turned into a week-long celebration. Why not? You only turn 4 once.

One of our most fun escapades of the week was a trip to a nearby wild-life ranch/safari type thing. We drove through the grounds and saw lots of animals, including Angelgirl's favorite - a giraffe.

She had a great time looking at all of the different animals and throwing food out of the window to them. This park is kind enough to provide a bag of feed with the price of admission, much to Angelgirl's delight.

We came across several of these lovely creatures:

Angelgirl kept saying, "Her name is Maria. Her name is Maria." We all thought it was funny that she was naming this particular animal but none of the others. We tried to explain that we thought it was an emu, but she kept saying, "No. Her name is Maria." Being the ever-wise mother who knows that you cannot win an argument with my sweet angel, I agreed, "Her name is Maria."

About ten minutes later, we were looking through the guidebook and came across a picture very similar to the one above with the caption:

Native Land: South America
Weight: 60-70 pounds
Height: 3-4 feet
Incubation Period: 32 days

Somehow Angelgirl had turned "Rhea" into "Maria" in her sweet little head, but she still knew what she was talking about. She amazes me. I look forward to learning so much more from her.