Fresh Snow Christmas wonderland

Christmas ribbons my neighbours tied on my fence for me as a surprise.

The joy of living in a neighbourhood for over twenty years is reinforced after a fresh snowfall. Not only are we suddenly transmitted into a movie set from the 1930’s with the fluffing up, puffing up branches holding the voluptuous white but we are called to go outside and play in it.

blue snow

The adult version of play is to shovel the sidewalk, brush off the car and dig out short bull dozed entry ways and exits for the car.

I step out the door and feel an excitement to be able to stand in such a beautiful place. The old trees planted in the 1950’s were once all along the street but some have survived. Some stand arching over the sidewalk, framing the vanishing point of the end of the street five blocks away. It is an unadulterated exquisite moment.

down the street

I slide my yellow plastic shovel along the walk way to clear a path for the phantom visitors in my mind. Only the mail person usually comes to the house but it is almost time for my winter guests to appear in my bed and breakfast.

Being careful not to catch the shovel edge on the ridge seam in the cement, I move the new snow in one long swipe in front of three houses. And then I begin to clear what will be only this amount of time from the layers of snow. More will come. There is no sense of staying clear, being done. There is just the walking and rhythmic sweep of the shovel.

My neighbour comes out of his house and he begins to sweep off my car. We talk about the one legged crow sitting in the tree overhead that his wife keeps alive by feeding it. We talk about the widower pigeon that my neighbour has named but I can’t remember what exactly. I know the pigeon by his color, shape and markings.

My neighbour talks to the pigeon and to the crow and promises them food as soon as he is done. But he is having fun. He moves down the block clearing other people’s landholding sidewalks because his shovel is filling up. He leaves a mark revealing cement not twenty minutes from the time I have cleared the area.

Christmas ribbons my neighbours tied on my fence for me as a surprise.

When I go into the house, I feel good. The conversation was not begun. It began almost 20 years ago when we talked over the fence from spring to fall. It is on going, effortless.

When I next go out, I see the footprints of the pigeon spinning out from the circle of bird seed. And further down the one foot print from the crow by the pile of peanuts.

More snow is falling, and the trees are holding it close. It is Christmas.

When weather becomes the truth

Sometimes we live in our heads, or in our past, or are lost in a scripted narrative someone else has penned. But when each of us opens the door and the percussive wall of cold strikes the entire body, all of the accompanying orchestration of violin thoughts stops. There is only the skin taking the temperature.

 

extreme weather

The frozen patterns like faces press against the windows partially imprinted on the car. It isn’t until the extreme falls away after turning on the heater that I go back into the droning, circle patterned of flying thoughts.

Part of the pleasure of walking the icy sidewalk into the howling wind is the weather itself bringing me into the breathing moment. I hear my lungs at work. I see the air warming and steaming out of me. The cold is slapping me out of it. I am only this step, this foot, this warm boot, this creature moving on the ground.

And when I was in Peru and laid in the hammock, I ran sweat slipping my body surfaces like waterfalls on a sculptured hillside. The walk up the path would begin with the skittling thoughts but as I shoved myself against the moist, hot air I recognized that the trailing end of a narrative had melted and disappeared. With several more steps I would begin again but the line of thought dissolved even earlier on until I was released from any interest except my breath and the wall of opposition the tropics pushed against my progress. At times, I felt I was behind myself trying to catch up with the place my body had now moved into.

Extremes of weather hold some fundamental truth. There is only the body, the skin, the breath, the intention of movement and it leaves us free of the embroidered speculations in the mind. It stops us cold.

A Full Moon and Mortality

It is a time of sadness. I am sleeping deeply with the comfort of my habitual sadness blanket wrapping me alone. I am a mummy in my bed, the cold air cracking in my window strokes my face.

meditation on Christmas
The Ice full moon burns cold in the empty sky and next door my neighbours have colored lights strung on every branch in their yard. They are unafraid of child wonder excess in their unfenced territory.
I have a single ornament swinging from the hook meant to cradle newspapers. The gold star is all that I have left from what I threw out when I changed my life.
Under the fat moon the snow was blue, last night, and sequined. But I could not capture my reality with my camera as I stood there. It would not read whether I stood or crouched.
Reaching out. Not reaching out. All the same, my ego tells me. I am a vessel sink and the memories pass through me like water carried away somewhere I cannot know. The seven families that I have passed through are present at Christmas.

Just now, I lack the fire to excite myself. Teaching myself patience day by day, I sit meditation and feel into my thoughts like breath, like water passing in and through me.
I watch the desire for the perfect self appear and pass away.
And I listen to my ego chastising me for the errors that I insist upon repeating.
I wrestle with the desire not to wrestle with my thoughts and simply drop my eyes to feel so much grief for being human. The grief of yearning for more than I could possibly hold in my own two fists is singing to me.
The mind keeps making list maps to glory.

 
I watch and endure the waiting for the end of waiting. I think of the magnificent sparkler moments when I just burst into the light an ecstasy moment of love.
I am sitting waiting for passion to carry me out of this frozen time, to carry me above the rigidness of anger. I endure the invasions of barbarian thoughts destroying everything in their path.

We create the self. We go beyond the self
I work on myself learning how to accommodate the chaos of being alive in a body in this time, at this time, marked by the franking of my sex, my family, my culture, my identification.

The only untainted goal is to be between restless desires for a split moment and let the tears like water flow from me, flow through me to clarify my vision so that I maybe present when I am called upon to love.
I sit and watch the invasions of my barbarian thoughts and forgive myself for being merely and so magnificently human.

Gathering Data

He or she stands aside from society, in order to observe, in order to understand what the “game” is that is going on. A writer, an artist moves from the position of “in the game” and then “out of the game.”

There is a certain solitude that is both a gift and a curse. It is like watching people eating poi in a joy filled ceremony and thinking, “That looks delicious.” However, after tasting the culturally infused dish, the artist is reinforced in the separateness. Poi is tasteless, joyless, unsatisfying.

So making the decision to be at peace with not being at peace is vital. Disabusing oneself that the idea of being “in ” the circle, or “out” of the circle of inclusion is the answer is an important step.

Byron Katie in her systematic analysis of thoughts calls it “The Work”. The important moment is when a person stands facing another and in that moment knows clearly what it is the individual wants from that other person.

to see the small details

I frequently ask: What are my expectations for being in my society; what are my expectations for being a cultural anthropologist who simply observes the behavioural choices?

So the being able to see the down to earth, the actual, the spinning out of actions based on the story of a culture is central to an artist’s life.  There is a deep feeling of loneliness that all artist-observers experiences. But it is a necessary vantage point in order to create out of a disengaged truth.

the underpass

It is frequently the artist/seers who were most out of tune with their own culture who propelled the society forward. Matisse was vilified. His vision became the norm.

Artists/writers/seers move in and out of society. Their lives cycle from boredom, to risk and excitement. They come to trust the inner compass more fully as they mature.

One has to trust that the path is created by the step forward. And there are always those well lit places with flat land where the group gathers and shares their maps. There are those inspiration stops where the exchanging of ideas are vitally energizing.

Finally, the question of “Do I fit in?” becomes irrelevant. And the question, “Who am I now?” becomes the call to clarity. The relationship with self calls for the practice of compassion in movement, or in stillness. All is correct. Just observe and witness.

The “savings” account.

carrying shadowsI read in one of the many how to save your marriage books, while I was still hopeful, some interesting advice. (Obviously the methodology requires two so THAT didn’t work.) The coach-therapist suggested that the couple store up good feelings so that they could draw on them when it was necessary in times of stormy weather.
Coupled with my reading on discipline fatigue, I was thinking about designing a life strategy. As I did my daily five loads of laundry, hanging the purple sheet, I thought of how edgy and irritable I get when I stick to my check list, and work with a total focus on building new habits.
I kick like a four year old… “don’t want to”. The promise land of supportive habits is mapped out on my giant calendar check list pasted above my reading chair.
“But what happens when I am just plain tired of making myself do better, be better, push for bigger goals,” I thought as I hung the golden colored bed sheet.
It was then it hit me. I have a less than peaceful relationship with myself. There is tension between me, myself and I.

Basically, she is always dissatisfied and reaching for more. I make a plan… and the vast stretch of the day with undulating hours like some ocean or desert spreads before me. I am both overwhelmed and bored..
“What I need,” I advised myself, “what I need is more treasure in my treasure chest of good feelings.”
Bingo, bazat. There it is. That could help my primary relationship.
Instead of only allowing myself a beggar’s hoard of joyous moments, what if I went after them with intention in order to help out when I was just so done.

Saving positive moments

Saving positive moments

“But not just indulgences, “I remind myself. “You need to stick to the habit building plan.

I stood back and looked at the purple, golden, yellow and hot pink sheets waving on the line. Beautiful. So simply beautiful. I start with that image. I start now.

Summer no beach

So arrest me, already. I went to the beach which is a 20 minute walk away one time this summer and I almost immediately regretted it.
The water was churned up by the flopping of bodies. The sand was searing. Mating rituals involving the showing of skin, the flexing of arms, the tossing of hair were enacted everywhere.

 

no beach

no beach

Mothers hobbled by little wagons, backpacks, carry bags were limping either toward or away from the radiant heated beach trying to set up what looked amazingly like a nomad’s village of plastic toys.
The only element that I found uplifting were the line of toddlers marking the tide line. They were intent on learning. Physics of dropping objects, trajectories, weight, force fascinated them. They are trying to understand the rules on the planet. They are intent, absorbed and innocent.
I thought about reading my ever present book; however, the sound of radios, family members screaming to one another important messages just created too much background static.
I sat for a while on the benches next to others wearing hats, long sleeved shirts who looked like the very beach toys that were so laboriously lugged to the water. Only we were all a little deflated. We were slightly hunched over in the 38 degree Celsius heat magnified by the sand and water.
I could barely hear my imprinting ego say, “But this is fun.”
“Oh just shut-up,” I thought.
I gathered my book, towel and sweated my way back to the car.
I have learned physics. There is no way I am going to seduce a mate to appear while posing in my bathing suit. And I just want to read my book.

Paris Attacks: after witnessing terrorism on my street

This is my experience: I grew up when the Korean War was going to destroy the world.
I grew up through the years when the cold war would “end all life on earth”. I was shown films of nuclear bombs and trained to crouch beneath my desk turtled at the word trigger of “flash” which the teacher would randomly yell.

 

Old City Dubrovnik

I sat at the high school lunch room table as the Cuban missile crises occurred and we dry mouthed our sandwiches as nuclear death was 15 minutes away. The enemy missile ships were in place and the missiles lifted on target. Our port city was a major target we had been informed.

To sit at the table and watch people killing others during the Viet Nam war  was my experience. We ate horror with our dinners nightly.

I watched the 9/11 towers collapse and people curl around the TV screens which broadcast the message of end days.

As long as I have been alive there has been a vicious enemy created fear. As long as I have been alive there has been a current of edgy doom energy flowing.

What I can say because of this life is that the real fear we all face is that of our own death. What I know is that the media, the politicians broadcast that we have no hope. The message is and has reoccured that end days are here.

How different is that from the groups of people who have gone to stand on a tall mountain because the Rapture is upon us? How different is that than the belief in Medieval times that others hold the devil’s energy in their hearts?

If we could but just understand that there is no avoiding death, there is no avoiding the knowledge of the fragility of life, we would stop allowing the flow of fear to take us hostage.

In these times the single question is: How do we live?

Do we allow ourselves to be manipulated? Or do we know with certainty that we hold power in life.
We can be the conduit to intensify fear, or we can refuse to grab onto that current. We can ground ourselves knowing that there will be death but right now we are fully alive.

performance

Our job is to be present in our own lives. Our job is to drop the masks, the defence mechanisms, the armour, the need to protect and we must walk into the world meeting others with compassion.

I have lived through the end of so many worlds.

 

And when the cult runs to the mountain top to avoid “the wrath”, I refuse to join.

There is a prayer that says, “I will fear no evil.” At this time in my life, I know there is no evil. There are only people who have had their hearts destroyed.

Let us choose to not be among their number.
Cherie Hanson

Negative Space

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

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?

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.