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.

Emerge n Cy Room

Emergency is a word that has some poetry. It is lilting, it lifts and falls. It tells the tale of crisis, of system failure, or the sudden and unexpected facing of transitory mortality. Structures will fall. What we hold so tightly in our safe places, our hands, the firebox under the bed, the bank will inevitably fail us. Those we cradle in our arms will disappear as if they were never there.

Everything depends on everything and we have so much trouble understanding. The financial system, the corporate system, the structured systems of distraction and hypnosis are all threads of the same carpet. And it cannot always fly.

all things connect

Sometimes, because there is no satisfaction guaranteed, because there is no insurance against change, because we are so fragile on the earth, sometimes those things we most believe in, no longer believe in us.

They turn their backs on us, the promises of continuance and protection. They leave us alone, unprotected, in crises.

And it is in the finality of the “emergency room” of life that we finally “emerge.”

When we are stripped of the clothing of the myth of protection, we see who we are.

I have a sense at this time that it is important to focus on my emergence. It is vital that I see the ego oily con woman shell game that I have played.

So many I know are feeling like children left under dressed in a dark forest with winter coming on. There is a pervasive sense of anxiety, of unnamed distress.

I was born in 1944 and I remember the 1950’s with the enamel glaze of prosperity promises while some of us dug fall out shelters in our yard. I remember the 1960’s with the visions of people burning on a cross or on flame running through a ghetto while the TV commercials sang to us about fashion and cigarettes.

I remember the 1970’s when the time of deflated dreams and wounded men was marked by streamlined kitchen appliances.

The society’s surface has always had little coding about what was real. The cognitive disconnect was a habit we were used to like some strange music through our lives.

simple beauty heals

But never before has the dream vision of buying security been less available to us.

There is no someday soon croon being musak piped in. The distractions are short ineffective bursts. The disruption is happening.

The crisis is as clearly understood by some as the moment when the violin scraping begins in a movie.

It is time to get right with yourself. It is time to allow yourself to develop into a peaceful, calm source of energy.

Those who emerge will be the attendants in the emergency room.

 

 

September: Is it Sexy?

Sexy Summer

Sexy Summer

The onset of Summer always brings with it copious manifestations of optimism. Crocus, tulips, roses pushing out to the sky liven our hearts. However, the Latin meaning for the month of September is in no way “flash” or evocative.

It is the 7th months. It comes after the dog drooling days of August heat. Inevitably August was the month where we reacted like someone at a spa who had had a four hour massage. Our legs became rubberish. Our goal was just put something in the body to satisfy hunger and we practice the mantra, “Later. I will get to it later.” And then we have naps. We have naps at noon, or three o’clock or at six to prepare for a long night of sleep.

garden sculpture with pumpkins

garden sculpture with pumpkins

I wonder if we in our work and status focused society could institute a competition for August, Dog day naps. Maybe, then we would treasure them more fully.

The gardens go to ruin. The workout plan dissolves in the face of the continuous presence of heat and the arrival of family and guests. August is when we finally attain what the promise of summer brought to us: long slow days of not particularly anything happening.

And then we have the seventh month. I pasted my calendar on the wall this morning and filled in the dates that I have already made an appointment with myself.

My intention was to work out today… but so far I have only had time to workout what my intentions are for September.

The birds are not so noisy today. The black squirrels are manic in their attempts to bury walnut every where that is possible. My planters are dug up. I saw one trying to start a tree in my neighbours untended, over flowing ease troughs. They fly along the branch highways from roof to roof flicking their tails. Quick! Get Ready!

Tarot card image, the world 5 1/2 1 3/4 $10

Tarot card image, the world 5 1/2 1 3/4 $10

September does not bring the perfume and seduction of summer. One ponders more quietly the coming days. They form a rhythm. It is up to us to make the music.

 

Where Am I Now?

Life for me has been such an experience of making progress, lurching forward and then falling back into old habits of thinking and action. Trying to be patient with the process is like everything else: Sometimes quite easy and at other times just a condemnation to some caves of Hell volcanic spewing in a limitless black pit.
Today, it was cooler which always causes a rise in my optimism. When it is 30 + Celsius I am like a Newfoundland dog locked in a room with no AC. I become dispirited, lacking the urge to run. I can push my self for a while in the morning and then I am just laid flat sweating out of the side of my face.

Cloud give relief

Cloud give relief

Always, my mind wants me to prove that I have been working toward my goals. Not one goal, six goals or nine goals. Too much, too fast gives me a high.
It is cooler today and so I can feel that there is something possible between the two walls of night. I awake and my thoughts turn to my goals again.
And then, and then comes the questioning: What is it that I am not asking?

 

Questioning in a Circle
Like a small bore drill, what repetitions of digging into the hard wood knot of my life are going on? I want to bite into something. I want to see something become easy and reward me for the tenacity of holding on. I want to sink into this new place of keeping a grip, of holding out.
And so I ask: What is it that I am not asking? What is it that I am not seeing?
But, as always, as I walk my guests to their car, it is the mundane that calls me. It is the next thing that engages my taking action. I stand bare foot, bare faced in the garden and pull out weeds that have grown in the garden bed. I load the dishwasher. I strip the bed and begin the laundry.
I turn my mind away from the grandiose promises I have made to myself. Soothingly, I murmur, “Patience. Go back to intention, woman.”

What Path?
And as I piled up the weeds along the walk way, I pile up the yearning and the frustrations and the sense of being outside. I rip out the old stories of not deserving, of being somehow inherently wrong. I tear out the old, habitual feelings about who I am as I move through the world.
I am right here, standing with slightly earth colored bare feet on the ground. And this now, this now is who I am. The questions, ultimately, are irrelevant. The day is cool. Time will pass. And each breath fills me up. I trust that I am growing, that what I cannot see is moving toward me. The questions, ultimately, are irrelevant.

The Dragonfly on the lock

One day recently, I stepped out onto my bubble gum pink front steps and turned automatically in order to push the lock button. It rests at the centre of the keypad. As I distractedly moved my finger into place, I felt something soft and structural against my finger tip.
I looked to see that a dragonfly had rested across the pad.

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It laid and stayed. It’s body was spread diagonally, organically contrasting with the metal plate. Quickly, I pulled my hand away and stopped my mind. I came to. I focused. I zapped into my body. I astral returned from whatever graphic novel scenario I had been sketching taking me out of my life.
In that moment, I was absolute. I stood on the bubble gum pink stairs and felt the bottom of my feet the strength of my legs; my being, my physicality, my existence, my particularly manifested form.

I stood and looked at the dragonfly and it waited for me.
It waited for me to return from my deadened walk, blind eyed, drooling idiocy, color commentary method of seeing life as some kind of game. I stood on the step with my finger lifted in the air and I remembered how the dragonfly felt to my touch.
I have never touched a dragonfly before. I am over 70 and I have never touched a dragonfly before.

 

Relax into life

Relax into life

I wonder how many new experiences I am having each day that I am not having. Because I do not see them, I do not see me.
The dragonfly waited for me. It was patient. And then my mind pulled focus, the 1st camera assistant did her job. How clear. The detail of its structure, its beauty, the iridescent wings were so clear. And for a moment, I forgot to breathe.
So many things have been stuck, broken, inhabited by technological gremlins lately that I have become resigned to the no progress scenario.
I sit meditation, chant, let the darkness of recycling doubt move through me. I have not been insistent. I pray for patience, I pray for guidance, I pray for a sign daily.
Today, a dragon fly laid across my door lock and would not move.
When I looked up the significance I learned it is a sign of mental and emotional maturity.

All of the careful reformation of my mind, my body, my resetting of intention in the world has been guided by something outside of me. I have trusted that I would find a way to live with more grace in the world.

 

signs of love

signs of love

Today, a dragon fly laid across my door lock and it would not move until I received it.
I am grateful. Thank you, beautiful messenger.

Sisters at the Well

In 1997 when I visited Rome, I had a transformative, informative experience. In the center of one section of town there was a stone well. It was at the heart of the neighbourhood. And it was here that the women came together to work the stains, dust and dirt out of their family’s garments. It was here that women used the narrative woven by wagging tongues which maintained civil order. Women warned one another what would happen should the undisciplined urges be followed. A tongue lashing was not trivial.
Gossip is a powerful manner of structuring mores and habits which are the foundation of any society. The cultural threads that make the fabric of society were woven, mended and attended while the women worked together on their laundry.
Side by side, they rewarded or castigated certain forms of behavior. While a woman repeatedly rinsed, and twisted her husband’s clothes, she could hear what would happen if she dared to indulge the secret flirtation she felt toward another man.

The heart of the sisterhood, the public laundry.

The heart of the sisterhood, the public laundry.

Alliances were formed. Problems were worked out. Questions could be asked and answered by those with more life experience. The repetitive actions of the hands, arms and backs were strenuous and soothing. There was a place where connection was customary and expected.
Today, we have lost the power of the women at the well. All too frequently the closest we get to one another is via text or sitting without speaking next to another in a coffee shop.
Or it is an artificially arranged, special occasion when women plan a networking meeting for some pre determined goal. But the habit of the women meeting at the river or at the public laundry allowed for the comfort of contact in a way we no longer experience today.

 

women meeting at the river

women meeting at the river

Women do better in all aspects of their lives when they are in contact with other women. The terms ‘connectivity’ and ‘social capital’ are used in sociological studies which show the benefit of women having frequent, anticipated interaction with other women. These women are healthier. They live longer. They are more cheerful. They are more likely to discover alternative methods of solving problems and thus thrive more easily. They meet challenges with a more relaxed, creative mind because they know they can seek advice.
And last of all, they are more light spirited. Because who doesn’t like to tell outrageous stories while doing repetitive, necessary daily drudgery!!

And, lasty, when society is mirrored back to us from advertising and media, women feel overwhelmed with choices, confused about the very manner of being a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend and a sister. The background anxiety is like the sound of violins in a scary movie.

How do I fit in? Where is my place in the world? Who am I as a woman?

The old, restricted cultural choices are rapidly disappearing; however, women still need their sisters to mirror back to them who they are to be in the changing world. We need to work it out at the well, or the river. We need support and advice.
I think society is much the poorer since the central meeting place for women is no longer a feature of daily life. But thank goodness, we no longer have to do laundry by hand. In addition, we have made progress by allowing greater choice and freedom in discovering what it means to move into the world as a woman. And for that I am deeply appreciative.

I just wish there were some middle ground upon which women could meet face to face in order to bond and prosper. Meeting at the well is no longer for the purpose of restricting our choices and locking us into a place in society. Now it would be an occasion to discuss and expand our individual version of who we wish to be. The companionship, advice, feedback and habitual contact is still necessary, however the world changes.

 

Birds singing in Snow

I have been dealing with the pervasive, invasive panting existence of the “real” world. Getting the old, stained, stuck, peeling of paint, putty loosening windows to continue functioning reached the end of the story recently.
“How much longer can you live with this frustrating, compromising scare-city mindset situation?”
Well, for the windows, basically 24 years. I re-puttied the panes of glass with a kitchen knife, cleaned as far up the glass as my hand would reach, and struggled the warped inner layer open during the 41 Celsius heat summers for 24 years.

 

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I kept waiting for more money to come in; for just the right time; for my struggle scenario to stop because that would be the time to put an end to it.

In my Firestarter’s women’s group I asked my friends, “Should I get new windows. Is it time?”

They said,” yes” and so I did.

The grimy, chipped, leaking air windows with caught spiders between the inner and outer layers are now gone.

The Home Hardware crew put in a new fan over the stove and ended up having to pay additional money to get electricity to it. The extra cost triggered the old ‘dying in the alleyway of exposure and hunger’ fear.

Thinking about spring and getting the car out for longer trips, sent me to the mechanic for an oil change. It ended up being $1,400. The battery was gone and the steering thing a ma jiggy was mal functioning.

Then I broke a front tooth on soft toast.

Three weeks ago my furnace stopped starting or started stopping. I tried to plug in an electric heater and an entire wall of plug ins stopped working. I spend days flipping switches on the panels.

My internet began habitually dropping out. So I went on Youtube to watch what for me is someone speaking Urdu. You go here, you click this, then you go here, and set this up.

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“Stop,” I want to yell. I could feel myself like Alice in Wonderland shrinking after taking the smallerizing pill. I literally felt like a confused child unable to reach the doorknob.

It was time to seek help. I got the window replaced by a Home Hardware crew. A new actually functioning fan went over the stove. My car can now travel without the steering suddenly becoming possessed. I have a newly constructed front tooth.

I called my neighbour who is a certified furnace magician. He came over, looked at the metal sculpture with surgical concentration. He then removed the front panels which always causes me to gasp in wonder. And did something to make it come on again.

So now after almost three weeks I have heat.

The physical world, keeps butting up against my urge to be a floating mote creature.

In a few minutes, another friend is coming by to see what entities have possessed my internet.

Today, I am feeling more optimistic. But it has been a land of torpor alternating with turmoil lately.

So maintaining those things around me: the car, the furnace, the windows, the internet is vital. The problem I now sit here facing is that I do not know what else needs on going preventative care? It does not even register in my field.

 

Becoming an adult

Becoming an adult

But that is a good place to be, right? Coming to a point of wanting to know what I have not known is growth.

Sitting in a house with heat is like taking an anti-depressant.

A life has so many moving parts. And there is so much to learn. I am grateful for those who have skills that I lack and help me to keep my racing car on the road. The pit crew is so necessary.

I did my receipts and took them to the accountant. I told her that I could see exactly where I had messed up in my choices.

I was so proud.

“I think I am becoming an adult,” I told her.

Vicious Toast and Weak Sunshine

I am turning a corner; shifting gears; flipping a leaf, a finger; snarling at my own snarling; stepping up; pushing the inertia; daring to hope; planting the seeds; tired of the tired; yearning for change. It is the cusp, the edge, the definitive line dot dot dot tear along here, the boundary of a new country, reality, dimension, brane of existence.

Weak sun whispers promises

Weak sun whispers promises

The breath in for so many days has not connected to vibrancy. It has been about clearing, clearing, clearing. It is like an existential Japanese movie wherein the sand just keeps flooding in. The sand of gritty thoughts. The best I could hope for was stillness.
Every day I would begin again and the wind would rise around 10 am and bring more sand. Clogging up the works. Obscuring the vision. Choking off the fresh air expanding sweep of possibilities.
But today, there is weak sun outside. It teases and seduces. It touches the black trees and if one looks closely cups the budding baby leaves.
I have done well are refusing to walk down the alleyway’s dark back of thought structured buildings and stayed on the sunny side of the street. I walked there even in the rain, the atmospheric gray down to the ankles of winter. I stayed there knowing that there would be sun on my back eventually.

 

where am I
On Thursday I broke a front tooth on a piece of toast. My first thought was it isn’t even darkly baked toast. I removed the fragment and looked at it in my hand.
Because of my training, I took my thoughts immediately to the sunny side and said, “You have all of your teeth. You can still chew. It isn’t big. It isn’t painful.” I continued on with the plotting of possibly disastrous alternatives. But a piece of me had fallen off.
The drama queen voice played its dialogue. “What do you expect. You have lived a long time. You will fall apart. Things will fail.” I could feel the ego witch searching around for other things to add to the list. This would be a great time to list every single fall from the perfection of a new born body. Oh, she wanted to go there. She was pulling hard at me the ego witch.

Reaching

Reaching

And then I decided. “It is fine. The dentist will repair your tooth. You will continue to write your book. You will continue to eat well, sleep well, draw opportunities to you. And one thing I can damn well guarantee you, you will grow. Because, “my beautiful Empress parent said to me, “because I got this.”
And then I just looked out the window at the weak first attempts at Spring and shut up.

Dealing with Stress at Christmas

Since November 6th my life has held many changes and surprises for me. So often we walk along a clearly marked path. There is a rhythm, a predictability to the days. It can become boring, comfortable, unchallenging. Sleep walking through the routine, one feels less than human.

I left Kelowna on November 6th to fly to Calgary and from there to the Netherlands. The clouds were layered over Amsterdam like puffy cartoon crop fields of whiteness. The consistent distance, size and even distribution made the vista outside the plane window appear as a cartoon depiction of a fantasy land.

netherlands skyAfter a brief stop, I was on the plane hop to Leeds.

The journey to Leeds left me puzzled standing on a sidewalk trying to find where I could find a bus to York and discover the whereabouts of my airbnb “home”. I did not understand the UK money so when I bought something, I simply put my money on the shelf of my flattened hand. I was frequently lost and disorientated. Having stumbled about York for two days, the next step was to go by train to London across recumbent open land that at times looked remarkably like Washington State except for the structures of the heritage stone buildings.

Stone city of York my mother's relatives.

Stone city of York my mother’s relatives.

 

Wandering around London for two days gave way to hopping the Train to Paris. Again, I did not understand the money. And by now I was used to the feeling of being lost and disoriented. The Paris Attacks occurred on the very street where my apartment was. I saw wounded. I heard death and machine guns. I walked next to pools of blood the next day. I used all of the skill I had as a meditator to keep myself centered.

From Paris, I hopped a plane to Zagreb and then to Dubrovnik where I was again unfamiliar with currency, the lay of the land and in addition, I was surrounded by people who did not speak English. When I arrived in Dubrovnik it was the day of lighting lanterns along the streets to commemorate the victims from Vukovar and Škabrnja on 18 November…

Lanterns to remember those killed. War. Remembrance. Grief.

Lanterns to remember those killed. War. Remembrance. Grief.

The ancient city of Dubrovnik, Croatia

The ancient city of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Once I returned home, I was tired and my body allowed the entry of  a virus. Lowered resistence lead to ten days in bed, miserable nights and dizziness from an inner ear infection.

As soon as I began to feel better, I got a call to report to the hospital for my colonoscopy  with laproscopic surgery. Every five years I must drink 4 liters of what I think is one of the most foul liquids I have ever experienced, go without food and go through the cutting out of suspicious bits. It is what has prevented a recurrence and kept me alive for 18 years after a very established cancer.

I crawled home, lay in bed and thought about all of the changes, challenges, instances of loss of control, the shifting time zones, the lack of sleep that had flashed through my life in the last 47 days.

Sometimes it makes me think of a kaleidoscope. There is a clear, reflected pattern that the eye grows accustomed to. One is accustomed to the sharp definition of shape. The comforting selections of colors mirrored back at one another.

And then, you want to shake it up. You are bored and feel stuck. I set out to walk in my ancestors footsteps in York and in Dubrovnik and I learned about war and invasions. I learned about slaughter, resistance, bodies stacked blocking the gates of towns.

My family’s roots were in war torn stone built fortresses. And then in Paris, I saw the modern war being waged based on ideology and religion and wounded hearts.

Blood on the Paris street of the murdered.

Blood on the Paris street of the murdered.

 

I watched myself rise to challenges that I had set and anticipated and also to even greater challenges I could never expect. When I returned home, I was irritated with myself for allowing myself to fall ill. I was disappointed with myself for once again becoming depressed over Christmas. I was curious about my fearful approach to the cancer screening and the surgeon told me it is PSTD. The body that has gone through a long illness with cancer reacts. She said it is basically imprinted trauma.

And I thought about the imprinted trauma of war that has passed through my DNA from York and from the Balkans.

My dreams and goals are to get beyond the programming. But, I am only human. And sometimes the explosions of too many challenges in a short period of time will just cause grief, sadness, and shutting down.

I can see that I have a long way to go before I can forgive myself for simply being human.

There is always more to learn. When I get greater distance, I will see more clearly what the lessons were over the last 47 days. It will be like stepping back and looking at a mural. Oh! I will say. That is what was being drawn for me.

Reconciliation

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.