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?

Finding Connection: What I learned in San Francisco

December 16th, 2014

This year is the first year I will be totally alone at Christmas. Because of circumstances, I will not spend time with either my daughter’s family or with my son.

In a way, it opens up the season as if a construct is changing the very shape of expectation. What Christmas will become to me in the future, I do not know. What is certain is that the present is engineering a new formulation of what is coming.

 

getting caught in the whirl wind

getting caught in the whirl wind

I overlook a stretch of space, of time and there are stepping stones ink- scratched on my calendar saying,’ in this place is a coffee with a friend, in this place is an appointment’. Having these scheduled events anchors the flow of days.

When I sit with others and hear their lives cycling unresolved issues, it causes me to examine my own. One day an image appeared. It is as if there were a pool of vomit on the floor in front of the refrigerator. As the dweller prepares meals and puts things away, he or she steps around the splatter of chaos. The smell becomes stronger and stronger and still, the dweller simply avoids the nasty thing. There is a mess of what could not be digested, processed and passed through in that life. Its presence causes greater and greater tension.

When I explained the metaphor one day to a friend she corrected me. “No,” she said, “we walk right through it because we don’t even register the presence of the mess.” I burst out in laughter at the picture.

But what if the decision was made to simply clean up? What things in my life do not work, what aspects are recycling negative outcomes? What emotional, spiritual, physical, financial messes am I stepping around?

 

love waits

When I returned from a conference in San Francisco, I concentrated on the physical. I painted scratched trim, I took all of the hidden treasures out of drawers, cupboards and closets. Most of the items taking up space were ridiculously old, dried up, never used or three or four partial bottles of the same fluids. So with joy I just threw the unnecessary out.

Next I have a hanging lamp I have owned for almost 10 years. I called a handy man and paid to have it hung.

It is such a pleasing thing to see how it shifts the energy when the environment becomes cleaner, more orderly and calmer. I had the area rug cleaned. Over 12 years ago I laid that in my livingroom and twice have taken it to the back yard to run water through it from my hose.

The carpet cleaner asked when I had had it cleaned professionally, because he said the black water was coming out of it for a long time, and the sand. Lots of sand fell though it (maybe it was time). I said, “Never.”

My computer housed thousands of files and pictures. With a mind to action, I ordered, labeled, put then into folders that my future self could discern. Then I dragged them off to Dropbox to be stored.

I thought about the possibilities, the almost touching filaments that could carry energy and bring prosperity into me. The facebook, twitter, linked in, red bubble, google plus should flow to one another. They could work together to fling information from site to site exciting the internet neurons. So I loaded 45 images into the red bubble account, selected products and started posting and reposting with links from one window to the other.

Loneliness has been leaving me feeling as if a cannon ball had blown my heart out. “And whose fault is that?” Yep. I was talking to myself again. So I started reaching out to friends and setting up coffee dates. On Mondays I now establish a schedule of events for the week. In the past I eye the calendar and just sigh myself deeper into my covers But now I have come to realize that like most other things in life, if I want friendships I need to maintain them.

 

neon

I think back to when I was just a discarded rag doll on the floor five years ago and how I got better and went to Chapters to sit. I was around people but not with people. How much deficit I have created from my attitude of marginality.

So if it something just stinking in life; if it is making more work ignoring it than it is dealing with it; if it is creating drama when the desire is for peace and laughter, then clean it up.

Today I hired a dating coach. At 70 years of age, I have finally learned I need help. There are things that are not working. There are things in my life that I don’t know how to do, how to solve, how to correct.

But one thing I learned from the conference organizers in San Francisco, is that those billionaires who I talked to there learned to ask for help. They hired life coaches, and tech workers, and personal trainers. And they did it when they were barely hanging on financially.

It isn’t weakness to bend down and clean things up. But maybe looking at a you tube video about the best way to go about it is a good idea.

If something is not working, make it work. Find somebody who knows how to make it work. Get rid of the old crap in life and the old drama. Stop hoarding and ignoring. And don’t worry about being bored. There will always be more smelly mess to deal with. No worries, there.

 

flow stab water thumb 3

Judith Orloff, Theodore Roosevelt and David Bowie

October 16th, 2014

The cave dweller, ego creature covered in the unkempt hair of despair has needed care. Sometimes I say, “I was raised by wolves,” because it is kinder to those who have to listen to me than for me to unload my story.

The most effective tool that has helped to deal with the squint- eyed dark dwelling drama beast,  was reading. I was drawn to it as if I intuited that books, narratives, biographies could show me a way out.

As a teenager, I stacked books against my chest and lengthened my arms so I could get them all home. Biographies of pioneer girls who had shown inordinate courage in the face of a hostile land; stories of great female role models like Marie Curie and Golda Meir fell into my out stretched hands. Sacagawea was perfect for a 6th grade girl living in the Columbia River Gorge. The history of Lewis and Clark surrounded us. I found role models that were focused, strong, reliable, dedicated to solving problems.

Golda Meir, Prime Minister, Israel

Golda Meir, Prime Minister, Israel

Who knows, in life, what is cause and what is effect? The books and I found one another.

At times when life was challenging, I had my cupboard full of role models and I could imagine myself to be the teen aged girl reloading rifles in the besieged fort, increasing the morale of those around me until help would arrive. I was drawn to extraordinary female power of one sort or another. And it helped me survive all of the stories my ego creature could possibly hiss to me.

Lately, I noticed that the books I am reading, the documentaries I watch all seem to build an architectural form of a lesson.

 

Judith Orloff, psychiatrist, intuitive, author

Judith Orloff, psychiatrist, intuitive, author

Judith Orloff is a psychiatrist with unblemished medical credentials who is also psychic. She has “come out” and lets the world know that her intuitive powers are one of her tools. Her success as a writer, teacher, lecturer and a doctor are based on her ability to be authentic and straight forward.

I love it when she says she is suspicious of those who waft about in robes waving wands while sprinkling pixie dust. One does not need to be unbalanced or a showman to be intuitive. We all have it. The work in life is to maintain balance. Her books speak to me of how to grow the intuitive gifts I already have and at the same time maintain my love of calm, cleanliness, solitude and order.

Doris Kerns Goodwin’s beautifully written Bully Pulpit allowed me to be encouraged about my life. Theodore Roosevelt was very sickly as a boy but he decided to make himself strong. His father built a gym in the family home and Theodore worked assiduously on building himself up to radiant health. He read on average of a book a day because he was constantly curious and drawn to a path of self improvement. But it was not a harsh regime. He was just mesmerized by life and let his joy lead him. At one point, Goodwin explains that Theodore was undertaking a new disciple. I believe it was sword fighting. He was abysmally bad at it for years. He was wretched at it for years. And yet he kept going until he became skilled.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

I thought of how quickly I become discouraged and close the door if I do not immediately succeed at a new task. I am short changing my future self.

This evening I watched a documentary about David Bowie who was told in the 60’s that he was too quirky and outsider to ever have a career. The music and the idea that was so clear in his head drowned out the voices of those who criticized him. He had a sense of what he wanted to be, to say. In an interview, he said that the way he was that day was David Bowie, but he was moving toward becoming “myself.”

David Bowie

David Bowie

So the recent teachers have reiterated to me that those around you can feed back to you the limiting self concepts that they are locked within. They may say, “You can’t be psychic. It is too weird and you won’t be respected.” They perhaps will hold up the mirror of disability and illness to lock you into that model of yourself. The critics and the specialists and the keepers of the scrolls may chant to you that you are too unusual or out of step.

But the glory of these three people who are so different from one another is that they pursued the imprint of who they knew themselves to be. They stepped out and exposed the power of publicly becoming so strong in authenticity that they have inspired me.

The ego has weakened its negative hold on me when I surround myself with others who did not chose the victim path; the lesser, the safer and the more disasterous path. And, finally, if we are going to choose a life to enable us to fit in….why not fit in to our own bodies with health, fit into our own spirits by honoring the inspirations, fit into our own truth by taking the risk to stand up in our endowment. Let it shine out.

Believe in Yourself

Believe in Yourself

Life becomes less crowded when the ego is quiet and the voices feeding back a smaller life are stilled. There is only you, the joy that calls to you and the excitement of finding out who you are. Thank you Judith, Theodore and David!

Yielding to Autumn

August 28th, 2014

sky lifts

My teachers, my readings bang the rhythmic message, the beats of the restrictions of attachment. I see a hand grabbing a string pulled through to cut the flesh. I see a hand reaching to the wire fence of periphery which clearly defines the territory of now and this and what is known, sustaining injury as the plane of time and habit tilt.

At times I see myself as a moth trapped in a jar. The space inside has all that needs to sustain me. Nothing is missing for continuance of all that now is. And yet I fly into the glass trying to get beyond these limits.

It is strange that being human, riding in the body is a state of such conflict. The summer is fading. A few leaves on the giant Maple tree which stands sentinel outside my bedroom window have died back. They are shriveled beige paper.

I want change. I yearn for a more exciting life, a more stimulating life, a life filled with more opportunities to step into my power supported by my tribe.

And yet I mourn the season’s change. I mourn the end of the ease of bodies walking loose in the heat. I resist the shrouding of people, the winter entombing of my neighbours, the withdrawal into a time of low, colorless light.

bench 2

The conflict of the figures of desire and release step around one another like bodies in a Baroque dance. The struggle between keeping the smallness of the simple and expanding into a larger field of energy is an illusion. I know that whenever I get to either/or thinking I am trapped. I am in a blind alley. I took a wrong turn.

And so I desire change and grieve change. The work is to stop the Baroque dance and sit. If I can yield to that which is and that which is, I am no longer trapped by my circumstances or by my reactions to my circumstances.

I bend my head to autumn but in my heart there burns a summer ferocity that is looking for a way to shine. There is no either/or, no two dimensions. All is all. I make my way the best I can.

IMG_7025

And so I watch the flowers fade, the sun turned down, the clouds coming to hunker down over the valley graying out the sky. I am working at releasing my attachment to the unkept promises of summer, the hopes to find a way to a larger life.

I yield to Autumn.