Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Early January was slow and dark, but wonderfully restorative for me.  When I shared that I was just hanging at home, napping, carbo-loading, watching cable, and avoiding occasions that required me to get out of my pj's, I was given many prescriptive suggestions for curing my friend-diagnosed SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  Drink coffee.  Don't drink coffee.  Nap.  Don't nap.  Try light therapy.  Do yoga.  Cry for one whole day. 

All well intended advice, but I was not looking for remedies because I was embracing my inertia.  I followed my body and mind where it wanted to go. Which was no where.  I did nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  I wrote Haiku.  Today . . . I began painting my Haiku.

hai·ku (ˈhīˌko͞o)  
                      Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, five; employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons.


January Offerings

We have been chasing
The dream of a perfect life
As if ours was not.

Only the wind knows
How to make the Earth rise up
To dance with the sky.

The Earth’s gravity
Is never too much, ever,
For the Moon to bear.

My soul is a magic lamp.
Genies disguised as poems
Appear when polished.

Depression, ennui,
acedia, feckless naps.
The dark days change me.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How Are You Evolving?

Since I quit working in a real job last summer, I've had time to do some quirky little things that are real time bandits . . . art, reading, genealogy research, and a new favorite . . . selling things online.  I sell some of my original art through a website and I dabble in some online auction sites.   Thank you, to those who have supported these efforts through your purchases.

Most of the things I sell are smaller items that I've found at tag sales, resale shops, or things that I purchased during a moment, or period, of impulsivity.  None of the things I sell are family heirlooms to me, but they could have been to someone.  They are things that I felt had good energy (undefinable, I know) or that seemed potentially precious.  

Like with many of my relationships that started off with a lusty connection, the bloom fades and annoyance replaces passion as I walk past items claiming precious real estate in my life.  It doesn't matter if said items are out for all to see or lurking in the dark of some closet or drawer - either way, they need to be dealt with. This is the merchandise I hawk online - flashy and seductive things, but mostly useless or downright burdens. 

Like all relationships, preparing for the end requires energy and positivity to bring the best possible outcome for all parties.  The work of separation can be time consuming.  I want to get out of an item what I put into it, so I expend strong energy to present my cast offs in the best possible way.   If I can get someone else to desire my cast off, I will be physically free . . .  of that one thing.  I purchased a photo box to take professional looking pictures.  Pictures where I am not refleced in the flash on the item being photographed.  Do no underestimate the power professional props, or of shadow and light, when casting off what you no longer want or need.

Even with good photos, a narrative is required in most instances.  My go to descriptions when selling items I knew I was purchasing to resell are easy and honest - "definitely needs a good cleaning, but I leave that up to the buyer"; or "has a crack that is hardly noticeable. however, use caution when handling"; or "can not speak to authenticity or realness of the piece"; or "see photos for accurate representation as to size and condition."  

When I sell something I thought I'd have a lifelong connection with, it's hard for me to stay positive, to hide my disappointment in the relationship.  I want to type - "when I saw this piece at the art fair in the winery vineyards, I was gobsmacked.  I imagined bringing it home to transform my life, my home, and my reputation as an art collector.  how disappointing that it could not, would not, maintain it's implied promise to fulfill my dreams.  this piece relied on the the free wine and the potter's charming wife to lure me in, to believe it was something that is not.  I hope that you will find a good and proper use for the unbalanced vase with clumsily etched trees on it."  

On some sites you only get fifty characters to describe the piece.  In lieu of the long emotional narrative, I say things that can not be proven as lies - "whimsical piece, can be used or displayed indoors or out."  Oh, and,  "there are no returns on this item."

After the item is listed, there is the constant trolling of the auction site to see how many people have viewed the item, how many are "watching" the item, and finally, how many bids have been made and for what amount.  I feel indignant when no one immediately bids on the piece.  How dare they use a responsible strategy to get a good deal, to discern whether or not to purchase at all?

I feel like a fool for falling for the vase so quickly and blindly two years ago in the vineyard.  Now, whoever buys it doesn't even have to experience the piece in that setting.  I bought that vase in less than five minutes, then tried to make it work in so many settings:  with flowers in it, too busy; displayed on it's own shelf, all the imperfections of scale and balance are too evident; on a closet shelf or in a storage box, it's not worth the space it occupies anymore. 

I endure the anxiety of not knowing if it will stay or go for next seven days after the auction begins. Finally, with five minutes left in the auction, there's a bid.  It's a good bid.  Then there are several more.  The piece sells for about 50 percent more than I paid for it two years ago.  Now the doubt floods in.  Did I sell to low?  Should I have kept it?  What if I just didn't give it a chance?  Is it too late to change my mind?  No, no, I did, and yes.  

As I move the vase to the "to be mailed" shelf, I am reminded that in all aspects of life, I evolve.  As I have evolved, I have had the opportunity to hold many different things - an idea, someone, some thing.  Like all other things in this world, I can not stop changing.  Sometimes I change and what I hold changes in ways that that are in tune and complimentary to me evolving.  It is known as good karma, mojo, or luck.  Realistically, this does not happen often.  From time to time I am compelled to let go of and separate from what I hold.

In my evolving, I know a have some effect on the evolution of others and theirs on me.  Like the vase's evolution, for instance.  It began as a deposit of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.  That globby mixture was harvested, refined, and sold to a potter.  The potter's hands shaped clay into a vessel and etched trees and birds onto it, then he sold it to me.  In owning it, I hoped it would invoke peace and beauty in my home and life.

Tomorrow, the vase gets shipped to "spendmonky34" somewhere in California to be, as she puts it, "smashed into smitherenes" and grouted around the new hot tub.   How are you evolving?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


combining form      primitive; original; earliest 

Today things got real . . . or thrown back . . . or mindful . . .  or whatever you want to call it when you have a moment when you remember how to begin again.  A conversation early in the day had me pseudo quoting Kathleen Norris, Thomas Merton, Parker Palmer, Mark Nepo, Mary Oliver, and Anne Lamott (yes, I've been reading her again) as a single theological philosopher.  

"You know," I told a Mr. J, my companion, "contemporary gurus remind us that we, the addicted, dispirited, or ego laden; have to let go of what we think we are, what we think we know and control, so we can reach rock bottom and begin to create our real self."  Mr. J took a mocking posture of attention and stared me in the eye, quickly raising an eyebrow as if to say, "go on."  So I did.  

"And we have to do that repetitively until we learn to be in a constant state of letting go and re-creating.  We must work to evolve to become our most primitive and original self over and over and over again."  Now it was my turn to sit up straight and raise my eyebrow to him.  "You look confused," I offer him after a long moment, my way of letting him know I didn't really expect an answer.

"No, not confused yet," he said as he slowly shook and nodded his head simultaneously.  "I find it takes me a few hours or days to let some things sink in enough to be confused," he confessed.  The next, that is the last, minutes of our conversation were his sputtering attempts to begin sentences laced with silence.  "So then . . . you mean . . . do you? . . . ah well . . . how should I? . . . .hmm."  I was a calm presence who answered and encouraged him with a pleasant smile accompanied by a lean in, an expectant look, or neutral face.  Finally, we hit upon mirrored facial expressions that communicated our time together was done for now.  As we parted he said, "this is good.  I mean, it's gonna be good."  Then we agreed to meet again in two weeks to pick up where we left off.  (But we rarely do.)

As I closed the door behind him, my own realness - or whatever I called it at that moment - thwacked me upside my head .  What I said to Mr. J was true, but I I felt like a bit of a poser handing out great insight or advice when I know I have two things in my life, right now, that I wrangle with daily to control.  I refuse to let myself touch, let alone hit, that rock bottom I was selling just a few moments ago.  

I knew just what to do to evolve me back to my more primitive self.  I got out a few arts and crafts supplies and made myself an UR, or Universal Receptacle.  AKA, a God Box.  I then took two small pieces of paper, wrote a word that represents each of the things I have not been able to let go, and placed those papers in the box.  (It seemed greedy to burden the Universe with all my issues at once.  I recommend no more than one or two burdens per person at a time.)  I metaphorically gave my burdens over to the Universe via the Universal Receptacle, then I moved the UR to a prominent, yet not too visible, location in my home.

I feel lighter, less burdened.  Occasionally I take a quick glance at the UR to see if it has moved or changed in any way.  (It hasn't.)  In time, I expect the Universe to send a clear and specific message to me about these two matters - seriously, I do . I am open to  this communication coming in the form of a call, a text, a burn in the shape of the Blessed Mary on my toast, or my long-suffering in a committee meeting.  My challenge for the days, maybe years, ahead is to stay open to any communication the Universe sends, to listen with all my senses.  I have heard that only sometimes the answers to our most urgent dilemmas actually arrive as a text, a call, or a meeting agenda.  In other instances, the Universe sends answers through the breathing of our breath, the stars reflected in our eyes, and moans of our soft, supple bodies . . .  hitting rock bottom.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Possibly Teachable

They mistake the pointing finger for the moon.
They are idle dreamers lost in form and sensation.
                                        ~ from the "Song of Enlightenment"

Another year passed, another opportunity for a large-scale, communally celebrated re-set . . . if one chooses to engage re-setting in such public ways.  For me, instead, I have followed my yearning for a few days of near isolation to process the past twelve months.

Looking back, honestly, is a somewhat new practice for me.  About five years ago I started in earnest to try to take a peek back every night as I examined my day - what did I like about the day, what did I dislike?  when was I showing caring and empathy, when did others show me caring and empathy? when did I feel most connected to life, when did I feel most disconnected?  At the end of the year, or any time I feel it is necessary, I try to isolate myself for a few days and think of these questions as they apply to a whole year, not just a day.

That is what I have been doing these past few days.  I will show mercy and spare you all the details of angst, anxiety, sadness, anger and fear that have been a part of the examination.  And to be fair, I will then also omit the moments of bliss and peace that showed up as well.

To summarize, what I discovered is something that spiritual teachers have been warning us about for ions - I have been staring at my finger, rather than the moon it is pointing to.  I like to believe that I have not stared at only my finger the whole year, that I saw the moon clearly more than once.  But, I can not be sure of that.

Now that I have spent these days looking at my life, myself, in a bare-naked way, I have a plan to begin this next span of time, 2015.  I will begin this year with what Anne Lamott defines as a "great prayer."  This great prayer is my my honest look at myself - degraded and isolated, swimming in the consequences of my best thinking and actions of 2014.  Anne would say that at this moment I am possibly teachable.

Amen.  That is all.