Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. Rumi

love

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dldldldlldldlldldl
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Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Your Very Own Flavor of Poetry



Photo found HERE


I keep forgetting that I'm more
more than this aging skin - these hips
these thighs, this belly growing thicker. More than these calloused feet
that always, always insist I walk faster, farther
in some other
direction. I keep forgetting that I'm more
than these scars
made by my own punishing hands - the ones you can see
the others that run invisible through veins and tired, bleeding inner parts
I keep forgetting that I'm more than the voices
that scream can't and never - right
and wrong
more than this mind that oozes indecision, this chest that squeezes
tight - that drops me hard in the shallow
and hollow of -
I don't know

I keep forgetting that I'm only a single breath
away from breaking free
from these bars I keep finding myself pressed beneath
a quiet prayer away from remembering again
that I was put here to spit it all out
as prettily or un-prettily as it was and
is

On this dark airless night
the strong rock inside begs to be
remembered
invites me to repeat this verse until moon
smiles her pretty half smile, until the winged one wakes me
with her new day kiss

You came here to hum the truth 
that comes in only your 
color
to sit inside the arms of a moment
to find breath in each drop of dark, to skip and sip and frolic 
with every fleeting firefly
of light

You came here to give oxygen to words
to spin every stain 
and splash 
into your very own flavor
of poetry

You came here to look into your own eyes and  whisper -   Beloved

You did not come here to please, to perform, to protect 
to be better or to be 
"liked"

You came here to feel 
the quake, the shake, the thirst - the love 
deep in your rooted center.  And, head bowed
arms spread in surrendered  hallelujah! - crawl 
skip 
fly 
tiptoe forward anyway
and no matter what

Yes
for this you came




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Brand New Soul Talk


"When I accept myself I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me."  Dr. Steve Maraboli



Those of you who have been reading me for a while, know that my dear friend, Alia, and I used to do something called "Soul Talks." These were uncensored, real conversations Alia and I happily had, recorded and shared. Originally, because Alia lived 8,300 miles away in Bali, Indonesia, these talks were done over Skype and we just shared the audio. Well, guess what? By some series of mysterious, grace-filled events, Alia now lives twenty minutes from my house. So, last week, with an owl hooting in the background, with the summertime breeze and trees and singing birds, we recorded our very first Soul Talk sitting side by side. Our very first Soul Talk where we are sharing the video form. Yikes. Though this is definitely a bit out of the comfort zone, I am stepping more and more in to this freedom space where I care more about sharing my voice than I fear criticism.

Hallelujah!


In this episode of Soul Talks, we discuss the crippling effects of self-judgment, fear of criticism, and how we're overcoming these obstacles to freedom.


P.S:  Alia and I are in the midst of creating a brand new something else that is going to be extra magically special. Stay tuned for the big sharing. Coming very soon.  :)





Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Crawling Out of Small Boxes

 
Photo found HERE


When asked what I do or how I'm doing
I have fewer and fewer words. I mean, how do I explain
between bites of corn on the cob and requests to pass the butter
that I've been shedding layers of stuff that never
fit, that I spend hours and days crawling out of the tight
of their tiny boxes, tossing breathless stories
written in handwriting I never recognized. How
do I explain that sometimes on a Tuesday afternoon, I sit still
and listen to trees, wind, rain - to that tender voice
that doesn't use words - until I join hands
with the scared one in my head
and ink trickles or spills. How do I explain that I care less
about getting things done and what I might look like from their
eyes and more about clearing a path
that finds the God in all of it. How do I
explain what I've been up to when what I've been up to is spinning
these shadows into something you and I can rest
inside, something that will help us remember 
our own astonishing light. So, rather than answering with an I'm fine
or listing off what I've accomplished lately, which seems
a lot more like nothing than something
I breathe a holy breath, look into your waiting eyes
and, with a smile that holds 
a heart full of something I'm just starting to recognize
I pass the butter.



 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

And Then I Could Breathe Again


Image by Serena Joyce
Here Comes The Sun


Instead of picking up a pen or a paintbrush
and getting down the ten thousand words/images
that were flooding my head, my heart, my lungs – my breath
I wiped coffee stains off the old kitchen table, fed 
the dog, the cat, the children
brushed the tangles out of my nine-year-old's hair while she screamed 
that I was hurting her,yelled at my twelve-year-old to hurry or 
we would be late – again, got entirely too pissed off 
at the slow driver in front of me, forgot to remember
to breathe.   Instead of emptying the overflowing 
pile of tangled shit that has been scratching and screaming
and gnawing and howling inside of me for days, weeks – decades
I scrubbed dried quinoa from the rice cooker, scoured 
the internet for the perfect paint color 
for my newly remodeled living room, folded two loads
of other people's clothes, unloaded the dishwasher, made coffee,
checked email ten times in ten minutes, called my sister, my mom, my friend
scanned Facebook update after Facebook update for some sort of –
inspiration? Instead of giving voice
to the thing inside me I was born to give voice to – I stared at the tiny freckle on my right foot and thought about how Hitler, before he murdered
millions, wanted to be an artist.  And then I thought 
of the quote about how - what you don't bring forth will kill you
and I wondered if I would ever, ever make anything of my life. Instead of 
making the ten millionth fucking excuse I sat my ass down 
on the soft swiveling chair in the room I created so I could create
and breathed a breath that reached all the way down to that tiny freckle
and wrote these words. 
Then I stepped outside into the sun's big arms
and danced



Monday, May 12, 2014

Who Fucking Cares?


JUST RIGHT, print available HERE


It's been over three weeks since I've written in this space but it kind of feels like forever. It seems the longer I go without writing/painting/sharing, the harder it is to sit down and begin.  The more time that goes by, the more the paralyzing mind resistance kicks in.  The more time that goes by, the bigger deal my mind makes of it all.

In Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art, he writes...

What does Resistance feel like?

First, unhappiness.  We feel like hell.  A low-grade misery pervades everything. We're bored, we're restless.  We can't get no satisfaction.  There's guilt but we can't put our finger on the source.  We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party.  We feel unloved and unlovable.  We're disgusted.  We hate our lives.  We hate ourselves.  

This morning I really didn't feel like getting out of bed.  I didn't feel like making lunches for my girls for the three millionth time.  I didn't feel like tackling the overflowing basket of clean clothes that's been sitting in the back room for three days.  I didn't feel like cleaning up the kitchen - again.  I didn't feel like going to the grocery store or thinking about what to have for dinner or taking a shower or searching through my closet for the one pair of pants that still fits.  I didn't feel like taking out my paints and making another mess on canvas. I didn't feel like going for a run even though I signed up to run a 5K with my nine-year-old, and that run is coming up in less than two weeks (and I'm in the worst shape of my entire life).  I didn't feel like thinking about what it is that I might do to make myself useful in this lifetime.  I didn't feel like thinking about what color (out of 10 million different choices of colors) to paint our newly remodeled dining room/living room. I didn't feel like thinking about the team mom (a single mother to three girls) for my daughter's soccer team who just found out she has bone cancer.

In a text message to a dear friend, I wrote:  

It's such a gorgeous day but I feel so dull inside.  

Despite a tremendous amount of resistance from my mind, I somehow managed to get myself in the car and drove to my favorite, pine-needled, mossy, fern growing, delicious smelling, wooded running trail. The sun was shining.  The birds were singing madly. While I ran (otherwise known as a barely-moving slow jog), I thought of all the things inside of me that are dying to get out. I thought about how lucky I am to be healthy and moving on this bright, beautiful morning. I silently scolded myself for having so much but (at times) appreciating so little.  I thought about how lucky the trees and creek and birds are to be blessed without a mind. I thought about how filled with joy painting used to be until my mind got involved. I thought about how, more than anything, I want to make myself useful in this world.  I thought about how, running on that trail, moving my body - even though it felt somewhat painful - it wasn't nearly as painful as the shit my mind throws at me every day. I thought about how sad it is that I often hold back my truth, my life force, my art and creativity, out of fear. Fear of saying too much or too little.  Fear of appearing dull or crass or stupid. Fear of what others may or may not think.

I thought about how critical/necessary - crucial - it is to show up for the sake of my own health and sanity.  

Just a few minutes ago, I came across the following words, written by the incredibly brave, honest writer, Anne Lamott...

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.

A reviewer may hate your style, or newspapers may neglect you, or 500 people may tell you that you are bitter, delusional and boring.

Let me ask you this: in the big juicy Zorba scheme of things, who fucking cares?

There was something about this who fucking cares part that really got my attention and reminded me (I seem to need CONSTANT reminders) that the release I get from expressing the truth, the release I get from showing up as ME, is worth far more than getting good reviews (or likes or comments or followers or sales, or whatever).  

So today, once again I remind myself that life is way, way too short (and precious) to hold back what's dying to get out - to hold back my ME-ness. Life is way too short to worry anymore about these damn jiggly thighs and too big tummy.  Life is way too short to care if they will think I'm too this or not enough of that - because, really (and I say this with lots of love, with hope of release)...

Who fucking Cares?






Friday, April 18, 2014

What I've Learned From the Dark



It seems we must be stripped
of the skin
of all we think beautiful
before we open to the kind of beauty
that can't go away
it seems sky must pour
and howl like it will never stop
before we notice the smile
of our own forever sun. It seems
we must hunt with starving
hungry eyes before we know
this belly is and has always been
full. It seems this wall
deep in the center must be hammered down
before we let soft, breathing hands
curl in around us.  Each drop
of dark carries
with it a candle of holy
light - with each miracle breath
we are invited to turn toward
the nearest whispering spark
and, like momma bird sheltering her baby – like a pebble
in stream's safe lap 
listen





*Image found HERE

Friday, April 4, 2014

Love's Strong Arms


Gorgeous image borrowed from here


Today, my only prayer is this: 
Please, pretty please
 let me meet 
each thing before me
with newborn eyes. Let me know
that every 
single 
bit of it
is divinity in disguise.

With an inhale 
that takes me all 
the way 
inside
I wrap around this soft bodied breather, pausing
to allow her to kiss
passionately back. Naked and ready 
I drop beneath layers of words and walls
passed plans that pull 
and steal 
the new. Inside the belly 
of this one and only now, I exhale 
all that is extra, sinking – sinking
until each swimming cell in me knows
that no one, that no thing 
outside of my own poetic skin 
can save me.  I fall until I find myself 
drenched and soaking 
in springs soft 
and sheltering.  Until – finally 
I come to rest inside 
the womb 
of the most quiet 
kind of quiet.  

Rooted in the center 
of this warm earth body
kind eyes invite me
to feast and swim
like an infant
in Love's strong arms –  to fall back laughing
to fall back knowing
it is safe.  It is safe to be

me.



Friday, March 14, 2014

Answers in the Forest




The bossy one who lives
inside my head 
keeps insisting I move faster, demands 
with brows squeezed tight that I march 
forward
to the next promising 
somewhere. But rather than turning up the speed
legs slow way down – eyes find and stay 
with tiny swelling buds, red 
flowering currant - solid ground. In this body moving slower 
the harried one loosens
her white knuckled grip 
and I can feel, finally 
the kiss of soft 
rain, tired parts waking
with each deepening 
breath. Inside 
the slow of this moment
I can hear them – forest birds 
whistling their song
in unison
It 
is nowhere but here.  
It is nowhere but 
here.

*Image found HERE

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Life Has Not Forgotten You




I wrote the below words last week when I was in the midst of some pretty deep sadness. Though, in this moment, much of that particular kind of sadness has lifted - I know this depth of feeling is something we all experience.  So, in the spirit of wanting to share the whole of it, here's where I've been lately. 
I hope that, in reading this, you feel less alone in whatever it is that you walk through.

*               *               *

I'm going through something right now that I don't understand. This something goes beyond the everyday challenges and hardness and loss and sadness that is (as much as joy and beauty and peace and love) part of this life we live.

This morning I read the below words and they too (like almost everything does these days) made me cry:  

I felt ashamed...for all that I was blessed with and how sad I still felt.  Andrea Scher

For all I was blessed with and how sad I still feel.  

I don't understand how I can have so much, be so fully, richly blessed, how my heart can be broken open by the beauty in a single dew drop, and yet feel - still - so sad.  

"What I want is to open up. I want to know what's inside me. I want everybody to open up. I'm like an imbecile with a can-opener in his hand, wondering where to begin - to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I'm sure of it. 
I know it because I feel so marvelous myself most of the time. And when I feel that way everybody seems marvelous...everybody and everything...even pebbles and pieces of cardboard...a match stick lying in the gutter...anything...a goat's beard, if you like. That's what I want to write about...and then we're all going to see clearly, see what a staggering, wonderful, beautiful world it is."  -Henry Miller
The above words just came to my inbox (again via Andrea Scher)....and, oh my gosh, how they string the chord of everything inside me.  How they point to the sadness, the longing - the pain that has been here since I was too young to write, wore pigtails, lived in that burnt-grassed-tarantula-frequented-army quarters yard in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. 
The pain that comes from wanting, wanting so much - to open, to open to it all - to open it all up. To connect deeply.  To serve.
To serve.
The hurt that comes from wanting this deeply but not knowing where to begin - not knowing (sometimes) how.
I do know that underneath the mess, the pain, the hard of it all - there is great beauty. And I know, too, that deep in the midst of great pain, there is beauty. And that letting myself feel SAD is part of opening to it ALL. I know this but I can't see it right now and somehow expressing this, sharing it with you, helps me to release some of the hard. Helps me to look up and in and out.  Helps me to inhale 
fully 
and call bullshit on all that this mind tries to trap me in. Plus, it's incredibly freeing and relieving (and becoming more and more urgently necessary) to tell the truth. 

Truth:  I don't know what the next step is but I'm doing my best to stay open, moment by moment - to listen deeply. 

Truth:  Sometimes I feel full of love and clarity and purpose and sometimes my heart fills split open with sadness or grief or confusion. Often, in a single day - a single moment, even - I swing back and forth and back again with this full range of it all.

Truth:  I'm seeing more deeply that there is room for it ALL...that all of it is part of what it means to be a divine spirit living in a human body, in a messy, imperfect, beautiful human world.

Truth:  When I let my heart be split open with deep sadness, it opens me up to deep love.
Great, big, all-encompassing, deep, true, L O V E.  

Truth:  I am not linear. Life is not linear.  

Truth:  I've been baking bread from scratch lately.  Adding yeast to water, letting it sit, watching it rise, touching and rolling and baking - adding butter.  Then savoring every warm bite.  There is something in this process that is deep and true and necessary for me right now.

Truth:  This opening, waking up, is not about trying to get rid of any of it (sadness included). It's not about making myself or any of it wrong.  It's about wrapping arms around all of it. Even the hard stuff.  Maybe especially the hard stuff.

Thank you for listening.  
And thank you ahead of time for seeing through my pain to the beauty that's here (that is there in you too) - just on the other side.  
Words can't possibly convey how much this means.  How much this feels like true love to me.  
I want to leave you with some words (written by Rainer Maria Rilke).  The resonance of these words makes me need to lie down.

"‎Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

So you mustn’t be frightened, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall."  Rilke 



Life has not forgotten you (or me).  It holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.


*Photo found HERE


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Her Howl



I didn't know 
I could let it pour, softly – fiercely 
without thought
of whether it will be liked 
or understood. I always thought safe 
meant sheltering it, filtering out the too
watering down the color 
when what I really wanted most –
what I really want 
most 
is to let it spill like this relentless
Oregon rain. Which reminds 
me of that day she sat, head to sky
and howled with wild abandon 
and how that howl contained 
all the loss and love 
her little dog heart
could hold
for the beloved woman
who would never breathe again. If only 
I could release the ugly and pretty 
of it with a single lamenting
celebratory howl
without concern for anything 
other than letting truth
be truth
letting me - finally
be me


*Image found HERE

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Don't Know What This Poem Is About




After school on a Thursday as I open 
the fridge to get her a snack
she tells me that Mrs. Belle's husband died - cancer
again.  As tears spill I think about 
how she's shown up
in that classroom every day since September
teaching sixth graders about character development
and plot, how she cracked
the kids up with her funny stories
and quirky ways.  Never once
mentioning that the one
she loved best would soon
be gone. And this reminds me of my high school 
friend, the one with the four kids who is only 44, the one who should be
playing with her toddler instead of losing 
her hair.  That evening, before I tuck her in, I weep 
all over again when she shows me
the card she made with the quote
about how, when the sun goes down
the stars come out. I'm not sure 
if I'm weeping about what she lost
or what they may lose or 
how beautiful it is that they keep showing up bare 
and laughing even though the lights 
have been turned out. Or about how damn wise
my daughter is at eleven. Or maybe it's the reminder
that none of it stays. That night I fall asleep
thinking about how we need dark
to see the stars, wondering 
how much longer 
and closer my embraces might be 
if I stop assuming there will be
a tomorrow



*Photo found HERE

Friday, February 14, 2014

Breaking Open Structure


“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”  Rumi




I'm taking a deep breath as I show up here this morning. There is so much I want to say and share and this mind of my mine wants to structure it somehow, it wants to make a plan and place it inside something neat and digestible.  But here's the thing this deeper place in me wants  - it wants so much to let it all tumble out, however it feels like tumbling.

Years ago, when I was at a writing retreat with amazing woman and author/artist, Natalie Goldberg, she said something that stuck and keeps sticking, something I repeat inside my head continuously.  What she said as we entered the room with chairs all lined up in neat little rows was, BREAK OPEN STRUCTURE. Our five days of writing time together began with moving those chairs out of their straight obedient little rows and scattering them in a way that felt spacious and free.

If there is one thing this soul of mine has been saying, whispering - screaming at me for as long as I can remember, it is this:  LET YOURSELF BE FREE. Break the fuck open structure!

Years ago, while having a discussion about intelligence and all the unique ways it shows up in people, a friend who knew me well, said to me, You are smart in a very non-linear way.  You know how some things just stick, how certain things just have that special kind of zing?  Well, there was something about him saying this to me that's felt important and I think I'm only just now, almost twenty years later, getting the why of this.

I've spent pretty much all of my life resisting the very things that make me uniquely me - thinking I needed to be more like this or less like that.  I've thought I needed to be more organized and structured, for example - less sensitive, more knowing of things that I "should" know. I've yelled at and belittled myself over the fact that I pretty much suck at remembering names and dates, that I don't know things most people seem to know. Resisting these things about myself have blocked me from truly allowing me to be me. The me who remembers feelings more than facts, the me who eats corn on the cob, not in neat, little rows but scattered and all over the place, the me who feels everything intensely, the me who wants to dive in to the depths of people and stay and stay there.

The reason I bring this up, is because I see that so much of the suffering in this world is people (and by people I mean we, us - me) resisting themselves - people thinking they aren't enough of this, too much of that, continuously comparing and judging and deciding they come up short. Containing what they have decided is shameful or wrong about themselves, their lives, their stories. Rather than wrapping arms around what makes us unique, and therefore brilliant in a way only we/you/me can be, we press down and push away.

In other words, as Rumi speaks to above, we put up barriers to love - to our own truer than true, beautiful selves. And oh - how painful this is.

These last few months have been intensely painful for me and I come here now feeling like I'm on the other side of some of the pain. I'm in a kind of clear open meadow where I can see some things I wasn't seeing when I was deep in the thick of the shit.  The shit that was telling me how I should be, what I should be doing, what my life should look at almost the age of 44.  There was so much shit being tossed at me from the crazy lady in my head (as author Cheryl Strayed likes to say), I blocked the love from getting in - or out.

And it took my breath away.

A couple weeks ago when I was deep in the thick of that shit, I had a nudge to get Cheryl Strayed's book, Wild.  At the time, the crazy lady in my head was being so harshly judgmental about what I should be doing, telling me all the ways I should be productive with my time, I could hardly allow myself the time and space to just sit down and read it.

But one gloriously sunny and uncharacteristically warm day, I took that gem of a book with me to the top of a big hill, planted myself in the sunshine, and read and read and read.  I read as if my life depended on it.

As I read, something started to fill and fill and something else - something heavy and stuck - started to fall away.

As I read, a soft, gentle, tender hand-on-my-shoulder voice said,  just let yourself be, sweetheart. This is your next step - to just let yourself BE - to meet yourself right where you are - crazy lady and all.  To
not judge any of it.

The minute I let myself be, whew...I could breathe again. I could hear the singing birds.  I could stand in the center of the IS-ness of that moment without making any of it wrong, without pushing a single bit of it away.

And in that place of not pushing any of it away, I could hear a voice in me that told me exactly what to do next - and that next had nothing to do with trying to be productive in that way we humans think we should be. And everything to do with loving myself more, listening to myself more, quieting my mind more, sitting and feeling that nameless something that sits deep in the center of me more. It had everything to do with allowing that hand-on-my-shoulder voice to lead me to my next true step. It had everything to do with allowing myself to BREATHE again.

What is clearer than has ever been clear is that I can't hear the voice that matters, I can't know true next steps, if I'm tangled in fear. Being tangled in fear, pushing myself to do, do, do, doesn't lead to "success" and productivity, it leads to pain and paralysis. When I give myself permission to feel what I feel, to break open structure, to be who I am, to do that thing that feels gentle and loving (even when it doesn't look the least bit productive), something takes my hand and leads me gently forward, forward toward love - forward toward the only kind of productive and linear I want ever to be.

*              *               *

Happy Love Day to you, beautiful people.  I'm so deeply grateful we're here together.