Reconciliation

August 31st, 2015

What I am told by those who say they know, is that the first year of a new decade is a bit like a toddler just pushing up off of the floor and into a wobbling stance. The progress is hesitant, lacking confidence and more about adjusting to the new point of view than anything else.
The teachers say the first year of a new decade is a bit like the first pancake in the pan. It is basically a throw away.

 

speaking from the heart
It is in the place of being 41 or 51 or 61 that the individual goes, “Oh so this is how the new decade feels.”

Becoming acclimatized to 70 is, apparently, what last year was about.

That is not to say it was a throw away. I learned new technology; I learned new methods of meditation; I established new habits which serve me well.

 

growing into self

growing into self

However, I clearly see that I am in a period in my life of reconciliation which includes: reunion, fence mending, remedying, harmonizing, balancing and achieving peace.

All of the ferocity of my youthful and adolescent desires are still burning in me. However, my confidence in my abilities is at an all time high.
I know how it is I wish to be in the world. That image has never been more clearly reflecting in the preceding hours of my life.

I organized a family reunion and set the intention of ending the chasms that had grown in the clan. Part of those rifts were from left over stories; from connections that were forged in violence and addiction; from my defence mechanism of running away from the pain of connection.

 

head shot 4

In my 71st year, my remaining family who have not passed are closer to me than ever before. With joy, I watch them discover and connect with one another. Like tribes in a war zone the emotional diaspora sent groups fleeing. There is a stronger tie between us today.

As far as remedying goes, at this stage in my life I have come to understand from my reading; from my experiences; from my patterns that I am nothing more than a bundle of habits. To create another aspect of self, I see with clarity that the remedy is in watchfulness. Like any good author, I sit back and observe. What story will unfold? If “the character” moves forward with these particular sets of behaviors what is the inevitable outcome?

And so, I use mindfulness practice and watch myself. To reconstruct the ending, I need to teach myself new behaviors and new habits. In my 71st year, this will be my main “project.”

The inevitable outcome will be to harmonize my youthful, jagged and unskilled methods of reacting while keeping the goals and the heart felt yearnings in place.

 

fitting in

fitting in

The result for me, in this year of finding my feet is to allow fire. The result for me will be knowing how to rest peacefully at times and how to burn brightly at others. I am finally reconciled to my own nature. And I thank whatever miracle happened to keep me alive to experience this time of acceptance.
“Life teaches you how to live it if you live long enough,” Tony Bennett said.

Picking Threads

August 13th, 2015

I am systematically working on building new habits. Researchers have said that we are nothing more than a bundle of habits.

patterns

 

We believe ourselves to be this face, this body, this story, this history, this actor, this receiver, this age, this cohort, this tapestry of threads woven into our energy field. We believe ourselves to be conscious and operating from the Executive decision function section of the frontal lobe.

All brain studies point to this assumption as flawed.
We are in the thrall of habit mind. If 95% of what we are telling ourselves throughout the day is simply old drama that is recalculating and interpreting current data, then it is no real surprise that the movie, the plot we are enacting is the same story. However,  this time the narrative is in a different setting. We are the same being only this time wearing as a costume a slightly altered body.
Did I mention, I am systematically working on building new habits.

 
I have a notebook. I have set up a grid. I am checking off squares.
What this does is it releases me from the interpretive dance of what is or could or would or should or will or did happen. The Loie Fuller scarf dance of swooping justifications, lyrical rationalizations, slight of eye, feign of hand, performances of inner dialogue music that normally occur.
I either check off the square or I don’t.

20100815_260
I admire my ego self. It is so stalwart.

I hover my pen over a square saying, “Well I did walk around in the mall. That is exercise.” The creativity is admirable. The translation is not unlike that on Babble Fish. In one field I put the words and in the other a strange, otherworldly version appears. Breathing is exercise. Napping is physical. Sitting and reading about exercise is working toward my goals. Shopping for an exercise outfit is focus on that desired outcome. Right. Right? Right!
How I untangle the threads is with alertness. I have set up my reticular activation system to recognize successes. I have checked off doing weight for three days in a row because I do not have a vague goal of “exercise”. My goals are specific habits which I am entraining: yoga, weight lifting, and walking for no purpose.
Walking for no purpose gets rid of the “automatic out,” that ego tries to create. Mowing the lawn is walking. But it is not walking unleashed from a secondary goal. I cannot ingrain a habit without the recognition of the very habit which I am constructing.
That way lies madness. Or strange babblefish translations of ego talk.
I could be “burning calories” by eating with an incredibly heavy fork that I need to place 500 yards away and run back and forth to take that satisfying chomp of food.
All I have done is entrain eating.
Oh, the ego monster is sooo tricky.
For now, I am happy with my list. I am pleased when I put down a check mark and I stay in a place wherein I know who I will effortlessly be after a three month focus on building those particular habits.
Because, it ain’t magic. It ain’t a tragedy. It ain’t a heroic struggle to climb out of an awakening volcanic cone to the tiny pin light of the surface.
I am just a bundle of habits.
Did you follow my thread?

Limitless Compassion

August 1st, 2015

The “controllers of the matrix” want us to believe that if we speak out for a slaughtered lion we have no voice left to speak out for abused children; if we fund cancer research there is no money left for aids research; if we raise our voices to end death penalties for homosexuality we become too hoarse to speak up to defend those who are imprisoned for shining the light of truth across the internet.

My desire is for all of us, each of us to step away from this concept of scarcity and competition. It is exactly what the prison keepers want of us.

It silences us. It turns us against one another when one speaks out for a cause.

awakening
What I do know is that when compassion is awaken in the heart, it is not small and limited. When empathy is unleashed in the soul, it is not restricted. Those who awake, those who sign petitions and give money and pay attention are now fully alive.

It is those sudden understandings that make us effective in the world. We now have the understanding that we can and must protect animals, both wild and domestic. We now are cognizant that we are capable of putting a sheltering arm around people chosen to die for their life styles, their courageous acts, their attempts to speak truth. We shelter others by signing petitions and sharing information with others.

We are now fully aware that all who are weak need us. The children dying of hunger; the women trapped in cement factories; the old cast aside with no medical care and the homeless are all capable of lighting us up with the desire to change the world.
Do not turn against another when you see that person is being made more humane by feeling deeply the call to be more kind in the world. Let us celebrate one another.
There is no scarcity of compassion. Do not believe the controllers.

Negative Space

July 22nd, 2015

During my morning meditation, it came to me how so much of my existence has been about “available” space. I fit into the places between, at the edges. When I move through a crowd, it has been my habit to squeeze into openings successfully avoiding touching, or pushing against anyone.

 
As I sat in another absolutely abysmal presentation recently, I felt words building up in my mouth moving from my mind to my throat and clamped so that they fell castrated onto my tongue.

“No, No, No,” my head was saying. There is no content. There is no stimulating new information. Yet all sat quietly as if something were going on. As if there were life in the room.

 
I envisioned a hard shelled bug that stays small in order not to be seen, not to be in danger. Self discipline has been my method of growth.
Occupying negative space, hiding in plain sight, gagging on my own thoughts, apologetically moving through only those corridors of available space creates entropy. My fear of discovery, of chastisement, of punishment, of being found out. Found out in the open. Found.

 
Lady bug
Lady bug
fly to the sky
Your wings are the fire
with the songs of desire.

 
The child in me. The child in me wants to be disruptive,
spectacular. I want to climb all over the boundaries as if they were not restrictions but rather structures for challenging myself.
Perthaps, there is nothing to fear in just making space for everything I am.

july 19 12

Perhaps there is no essential flaw but only space and sky and passion.

Heat and Healing

July 20th, 2015

The sauna of sitting meditation in the heat is an experience I have run away from this past week. Watching myself cycle into and out of practices and habits is fascinating for me. How long does it take to move desire into destiny?

Recent Self

Recent Self

I went to a beautiful family reunion the weekend before last and met those who were simply children the last time we interacted. They were the nieces and nephew of my ex-husband. I was 22 and a university student. I was filled with knowledge and certainty. I was focused, hard working, finishing two degrees in under four years handily.

 

Patterns

Patterns

And I met my husband at Western. Through him, I connected with his family.
The family reunion was important to me. First of all, I really fell in love with those kids. They were so different from one another but so full of life and imagination.
At the reunion, I watched my daughter and her husband make the connection to their cousins. I watched the nephew and nieces meet and fall in love with my grandchildren.
It makes me feel better about the world to know that these little girls from my daughter’s family have people in the world who are substantially present in their lives.
I was raised in a situation that was bleak and the connecting of family members was not a source of security or pleasure in the least.
What I have observed is forgiveness. What I have observed is that the desire to be loved, to be with those who share a history in life with you, to be with those that you have set the intention to love no matter what, operates successfully in the world.
I am thankful for the experience of setting up the reconnection.
There comes a time when sitting alone and “working” on myself is not the quickest path to growth. There comes a time when stepping out into the world and risking love is the more powerful path.

Is there a place between?

June 18th, 2015

I am sitting on the deck which rests as part of the house yet is surrounded by not house. The gardens spread to my right, before me and on my left. Birds are in their offices high in the trees communicating in the wind to one another that which I cannot understand.

 

Ego Mind says there is something and emptiness.

Ego Mind says there is something and emptiness.

It has been very hot in this semi-desert of the Okanagan and for days my roses evoked my pity. Their petals drooped. New buds were so stunned by the heat that they did not form the perfect roundness they were programmed to achieve.

 

Roses richness viewed from my deck

Roses richness viewed from my deck

Today, however, I sit in the wind which shimmies the leaves on the fifty year old Maple tree over head. It waves grape vines and hanging Nasturtium leaves up and down and then back and forth in some rhythmic choreography that encompasses the entire yard.
The sky is overcast and then in momentary breaks when the clouds are pushed aside the heat of sun blasts down.

The clouds swim in an ocean of wind

The clouds swim in an ocean of wind

The idea that the day is trying to get started, that I am trying to get started that this time in my life, my year, my summer is a time between is such a seductive idea.
However, in the reality of each moment there is no hiatius. It is all all. The times when the wind is calm and the sun burns my shoulders as if some one with fire hands were touching me is This time. The moments when the sun is tucked behind dark clouds, when the wind speaks seductively of rain or change is This time.
The idea of waiting comes from a place of delusion. It is formed by a society that resides in the concepts of competition and scarcity.

“One day my prince will come. One day I won’t have to go to the dentist; pay my taxes; have the roof repaired; have the unexpected lesson show up,” the theme song sirens to us.
I have to laugh because at precisely that moment, at precisely the end of the last sentence a hornet came to hover above my hands.
As the weather changes from moment to moment, I sit here thinking about how each now is never a time in between. It is just this. This gray. This wind. This hot sun. This breath.
The problem with waiting is the waiting becomes everything. It expands to fill up everything that the mind refuses to see. The problem with waiting is it becomes the dark place we reject. Only when the mind can attach to “excitement”, “reward”, “winning” is there something. The rest becomes void. The entirety of life becomes a place between except for brief openings.
The work of the mind is to recognize that everything is. The work of the trained thinker is to see how glorious it is to sit in wind, in rain, in hot sun and just say “It is.”

 

The rose creates beauty from al

The rose creates beauty from all

There is such joy and peace in working to the goal of knowing there is no place between. Let’s Get the Party Started! Why wait! Now is now.

Summer Bright

June 8th, 2015

The thing about summer is I always wait for it during all the long, gray preceding months and then one day while I am bending over the spring flowers, putting in new seeds and weeding the snake like vines slithering between the strawberries, it hits.

 

bare foot gardening

Living in the Okanagan means that it hits at 38 degrees celsius. Living in the Okanagan means it explodes through the windows after days of over cast semi-light and flirtatious temperatures. “Hi, there,” the day says, with its 20 degrees followed by a manic wind storm, bolting off the sky with dark clouds and monsoons.

It toys and coys and ploys with us, the weather. And then it blasts us stupid. It was 42 on my deck today. I spent most of it with my face turned side ways on my bed, dog sweating from my tongue. I think I either slept or hallucinated for a good two hours. There is an entirely separate brain wave patterning for that heat zapped coma.

 

Turning the fan on is just an annoyance because that entails readjusting the stream over several hours.

The first night of heat I did not get to sleep until 3 am. The fan was always off target. It was too high and passed innocuously over my bed. Then it was cooling the space under my bed doing nothing more than making aesthetic choreographies with dust motes.

 

I identify with this response to heat

I identify with this response to heat

My friend and I decided to go for a walk at 5 pm because surely by all that is rational it would have cooled down by then. The cement buildings and sidewalks were just beginning to off gas stored up heat. It was rather like being dropped onto an Urban barbeque. I turned to her as she said, “Maybe we could just walk up a few blocks to a coffee shop?” Her forehead was a glistening water fall of sweat. Her eyes looked a bit dazed and she was leaning to the right away from the building’s blast as she walked.

The day that I decide I can’t take it any more is when I turn on the Paddle Wheel sound of the wall shaker air conditioner. The room throbs a bit but if I turn my body just right, a cool stream of air blows the sweat off of me into the room somewhere. That is a good feeling. It is the season I have so longed for.

 

Georgia O Keefe Rose1

And then the beauty of blossoms begins again.

To Learn by Going Where We Have to Go.

April 20th, 2015

The crows have built a magnificent nest in the long arms high up in my Maple tree. They have instinct, skill and whatever evolutionary magic is on their side.

As I struggle with the sticks of new skills, the structure I am building called “marketing” and “presence” is so much less compact and architectural. At times, I feel as if my head empties out. I learn how to record on Garage Band, change the file to an MP4, load it into IMovie and then… and then…

The next time I attempt it, my voice has so much reverb I am an opera diva soloist. The track sounds like I have a 500 pound barrel body with words careening off of intestines and ribs.

What also fell out of my head or perhaps is just not aligned electronically is the method of paying my PST for my art work. Then there is getting insurance on my art hanging in a local bnb. So far it is two days and multiple phone calls.

I think to myself that it must be some Zen Koan life. When I am dealing with electronics or institutional authority, I must first fall to my knees in humility and work through waves of frustration. Eventually, it will work. Eventually, I will learn it.

Maybe, one day the path will arise to meet my feet instead of being hidden in dense under brush.

What I have been learning is how to market my work. The first task is to allow people to see what I have created. So my store on the Redbubble site found at http://www.redbubble.com/people/covitch is being featured on my facebook page, on twitter, on linked in and every time I go out for a walk, I wear the leggins.

 

My Maple tree in winter wrapped around my legs

My Maple tree in winter wrapped around my legs

At the present time, I have a list of nine things that I am trying to learn. They are in a scrawled and numbered column on my neon orange index card.

I look like the crow when it sits watching me from its perch. I have my head to the side, blinking my eyes black with ignorance. I can feel the sharp beak of curiosity trying to figure out the way in, the way out, the best way to grasp that shining bit of knowledge and fly away. I can take it back to my nest of a mind where I now “own it.”

It is a process. It is all process.

Mike Leigh explores Mr. Turner

February 22nd, 2015

Mr. Turner is a brilliant movie in that it does through the director’s choices exactly what Turner did in his painting. In traditional movies, there is a steady through line. In biographies the trajectory of the primary character’s life forms a structure and the audience follows the plot to the end of the movie.

 

sky lifts

The movie that I saw tonight presented fragmented stories framed separately from one another much as if we were walking through the Royal Academy’s yearly exhibition. These side scenarios are framed with importance.

Turner stands on a boat deck and a harsh faced woman refuses to interact with the man standing next to her. Her extremely broad, flat face is angry and she pulls away from him.

Turner sits sketching in a drawing room and one sister is singing. Another sister who is silly and exuberant flies into the room. They have an exchange. A deformed, unnaturally small man gets angry after a flirtatious song and storms out of the room.
In an earlier scene, the artist sings a song with a young rich, plain woman at the pianoforte. There is an exchange that is suggestive that there is more between them, a past acquaintance, a shared experience of life which the movie audience is not privy to.

We have the feeling that there is a completeness in the unfolding of that thread of others’ lives that is running past Turner’s as he sits and sketches or stands and observes.The use of extras to create scenarios which have begun at some point in time and intersect with the narrative of Turner’s life give unique substance to what would be just background fill with another director at the helm.

In a reversal of the practice of dramatic construction, story after story is revealed in mere minutes of film. Yet Turner’s story is not focused on a linear telling of either the artist’s biography or an exploration of his experience of finding his artistic voice. Each additional bit of information is given in a short exchange. But there is no effort to have a flow.

Even the aspects of his life that are revealed are created as framed, expressionistic moments. His guilt about his daughter’s death shows only in his reddened hands twisted behind his back in a grotesque grasping. His black coat and stooped shape blends into the black of his wife and daughter’s clothing so that the visual emphasis is greater.

In one scene as he is leaving his housekeeper and sometimes sexual partner, she helps him on with his coat. The next scene is of his arrival at his seaside residence. His landlady and sexual partner is removing his coat.

 

the romance of desolation draws the broken to it

the romance of desolation draws the broken to it

So for those who are looking for the typical bio picture, you will not find it in Mr. Turner. Mike Leigh has given us much more than the running of the usual dramatic curve through the movie. He has given us a sense of the age with framed up scenes. Expect the unusual. The portrait of emotions, the sense of the man and the age is the subject but the technique is unexpected, like the depiction of a ship on the seas. It is all there but the viewer has to do some work.

How do you reform the mindscape?

February 17th, 2015

Sloping

sunlight shoulder season

 

neurons are like pipes acting as conduits.

neurons are like pipes acting as conduits.

My discovery of books such as SWITCH and REWIRE always delights me. The experience reminds me of times when I have a sharp bit of tooth somewhere in my mouth and use a dentist’s mirror and a flashlight to see what is “going on”. Only it is my brain function, my mind set that I am trying to get an angle on and to cast a light on when I study books that explain the process of creating my mental landscape.

Something I read recently in the book Autobiography of a Yogi which I found in an on line bibliography of 12 spiritual books you should have read, really delivered a message.

The statement was that, essentially, our relationships with our bodies is a DNA type of Karma hangover from past lifetimes. So when we make a positive step forward, the good news is the change in habit behavior is inculcated into our very DNA which then carries on with us in the next lifetimes.

So the good news is, nothing learned and conquered is ever lost.

The bad news is we have strong habit memory from past lives as well as from this lifetime to address when we are ready to change into a more loving relationship with our own bodies and spirits. Lay onto that the belief that Buddhists and Taoists hold that family history also leaves a DNA karma habit on us in addition and it becomes clear why it can be such a struggle to shift.

 

 

photograph shows the possibilities of flow

photograph shows the possibilities of flow

No wonder when I simply decide I wish to move into a new territory of growth it takes such intention and will. I am trying to move out of what is to create what is more fully.

In REWIRE, Richard O’Connor made a statement which illuminated some dark mind cave space for me. He mentions countless studies where-by mindfulness practice can cause changes to the very structure of the brain. However, he states, mindfulness practice only allows us to see what thoughts we have and gives us the ability to not react to what is arising. The difficulty lies with the past experience informing the present dynamic. In order to think thoughts about being more powerful, creative, healthier, dynamic we need to build in those experiences. So for a while, we tread out onto thin ice and it feels risky.

For example, My mind will only allow me to think that I can pay down my debt slowly, with care and self sacrifice. My processes can take me out onto the new surface of knowing I can have my debt paid, my future secure and my financial struggle at an end. But at first it is thin ice because that “story” is not in my experience. I have not seen this in my parent’s lives, nor in mine.

O’Connor points to research that shows that it takes three months to rebuild, rewire the brain and it is through establishing new habits. The habits will have to be intentional, conscious efforts toward ease of selection. The steps are 1. Make a public commitment. 2. Recognize every step of your growth 3. When you slip get up and climb again.

All habits have a physical existence in the structure of the brain. O’Connor cheers the reader up by pointing to studies that show will power can increase will power. We become more proficient at heavy lifting.

 

2014-02-17 09.47.54

We are basically strangers to ourselves. We have a strong tendency to make unfamiliar things fit into our pre-programed assumptions about the world, or our stories. My reading leads me to believe these assumptive stories are laid down under the age of seven years of age. We are constantly dodging paradigms, narratives, scripts, schemata, mind sets and life traps.

Another statement that he made and I responded to strongly is how we need to learn the value of trying without succeeding. We can encourage growth by cheerleading our attempts at things that we know for sure will not work out at first, will be difficult, or stepping into the unknown.

We all know people who took that first step onto what looked like very thin, brittle ice and succeeded in walking out of a mediocre life. We all know people who changed their assumptions about what world they exist within.

For me, it is encouraging to see that mindscape can be redesigned. I am all for mindscape architecture which can be a build out from a risky, thin ice place on the path. Think of all those you know of from history, from people around you who have succeeded by failing. Building new conduits changes the brain which changes the thoughts which changes the results. Isn’t that wonderful to think about?