Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Love Remembered

Write a lot, read deeply, listen well.    Natalie Goldberg
Photo taken by Kevin Moul     Taos, New Mexico

I used to do this thing called writing practice.  It was my love, really.  Something i learned from a brave, bold, wise woman named Natalie Goldberg.  A woman i studied with, three summers in a row, in Taos, New Mexico.

We sat crossed-legged on zafus; candles lit, notebooks in hand.  We sat and wrote and wrote and wrote. 

We sat in silence.  Then chose a prompt, set the timer for ten minutes and began.  The rules were not to edit, not to stop, to keep our hand moving--no matter what. 

We wrote about what we remembered, what we didn't remember. We wrote about our fathers, our mothers, our homes, our monkey minds.  What we would miss when we die. 

I remember the sounds of pens scratching paper, pages turning, chirping crickets and singing birds, car tires crunching gravel, deep sighs, barking dogs.  i remember my mind--how loud it was, how it wondered if i was a good enough writer, if i would ever be brave enough to read aloud.  I remember how close we were; knees brushing knees, elbows brushing elbows.  I remember my pounding heart and the rush i felt the first time i read aloud.  And i remember the brave voices that read their brave words and how they filled me and continue to fill me.

And will always be here tucked inside.

I can still smell the sage.  Still feel the presence of Taos Mountain.  Still see all of us in a line-walking slowly, in silence, toward the big white cross.  Still see the clouds all filled with light and dark.  Still hear the silence between the sound.  The faces.  The blue doors. The stories.  The way every bite of food was just fresh enough, just sweet enough--bursting with flavor and goodness.  The Pueblo.  The pink hollyhocks. The thunder.  The adobe.  The dancing.  The skipping.  The drumming.  The wind.  The sun.  The rain.  The rainbows.

I am fuller because i went there and wrote with her and them.  I am fuller because i put my pen to the page and didn't stop until the bell rang; over and over again.  I am fuller because i wrote even though monkey mind told me i wasn't good enough.  I am fuller because i floated, just me and my body, down the frigid Rio Grade.  I am fuller because i went and wrote and went again.  I am fuller because i was brave enough to give voice to what was inside.

Doing all of that opened my eyes to magic i had always known i needed to see and feel and hear.  And helped me remember that i am enough. 

All of it is tucked away, safe and sound.  All of it so very deeply and forever cherished.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Big Young Four O

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -Thoreau

It's amazing how many stories/pictures/emotions, etc...can be wrapped up in an age. 

And how you hear about these ages all your life and think you'll never be the one to turn that age.  You look at people with wrinkles and gray hair and think that it's only "them" who age, like you're somehow immune.  And i think we all have memories of "old" people telling us to savor every moment because before you know it...

Then, somehow, it happens.  One morning you find the random gray hair sticking straight out from the top of your head, all wiry and intrusive.  The wrinkles around your eyes start to appear, faintly at first, and then a little more defined.  Everything you put in your mouth decides to join your thighs.  Things crackle and pop when you stand up from a seated position.  You can't remember the last time someone asked for your I.D. 

And then... you turn forty.  Inside you're still twelve or twenty but now you have this age attached to you that doesn't seem to fit.  And you wonder where the time has gone.  And you start telling young people to savor their youth because before they know it...

If i believed all these stories and pictures of what it means to be forty, i might be pretty depressed today. 

Thankfully, i can see through them and know that it's really what I see that matters.

...and i choose to see youthfulness and energy (even while i'm pulling out the second third gray hair of the day). I choose to celebrate that i have had the honor of being on this sweet earth for 40 whole years....

What a beautiful gift that has been.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Remembering    Almost 40  

Sitting in Softness

it won't always be this way

shiny laughing sun
chirping birds
jasmine remembering
to bloom

where nothing isn't
and everything is

quiet hand
holding gently

a moment almost
almost gone

only Love
can hear

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Asking Questions

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

I've got the blahs this morning. 

The creative energy has been pretty nonexistent for a while.  which i've mostly been really okay with, but now i'm starting to wonder. 

Is this resistance that i just need to plow my way through?  Or i guess i don't have to plow, i could skip or sing or dance my way through.  Is this a fear thing or just a needing-to-step-back-and-take-a-break-thing? 

If it's fear, what am i afraid of?   Is it a fear of the unknown--what if i don't know what to paint or write?  Is it fear that if i pick up the paintbrush or start putting words on the page i'll create nothing but a big sloppy mess?  Is this a fear that i have nothing original to say--like, it's all out there being said already, what do i really have to add? 

As i wrote that last sentence, a nicer side of me said; That's silly, you know every single person is unique and has their very own voice and that all of those voices add their own special beauty to this world.

The teacher in me is so much gentler with other people than she is with me.  The teacher would say, creativity ebbs and flows, this is probably just a composting time, it'll come back and maybe when it does it will be that much richer.  Be gentle with yourself.

No real answers this morning.  Just a lot of questions.

On a positive note:  The sun is shining at the moment....i think i'll walk myself away from this laptop and go bask in its warmth for a while.  I bet i just might find some clarity there.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


That Love is all there is, Is all we know of Love.   Emily Dickinson

Sending love to you, dear readers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Words for Your Day

Don’t go anywhere. I beg you; The Moon you are looking for is inside you.   -Rumi

My sweet little one

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nothing in Particular

"When you have the courage to do what you must without fear of ramifications, there is a resolution far deeper than any you could impose on the painting.  There is an intelligence within you that is superior to any solution contrived by the mind.  If you dare follow the inner call without reservation, you are putting your trust in a reality that can never be captured by ideas or concepts.  This is the challenge of creative exploration." 
Michelle Cassou, (From her book, Life, Paint & Passion)

Whew.  I've been splashing around in paint this morning; squeezing out way "too" much paint, "too" many colors.  Setting the paintbrush aside and sinking my fingers into it--my whole hand--dabbing, spreading, color everywhere--all shades of blue and green, orange, white.  making a mess.  Trying to let go of the product, to be present and allowing.  Remembering to breathe, releasing on wanting it to be "good." 

I am left with nothing in particular; a piece of wood, colors all blended together now--a soft sea of greenish-blue.  Nothing to display or post. 

Just a heart full and calm.

Monday, February 8, 2010


"Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your backyard, if you but dig for them."    Russell H. Conwell

Oh, how i've been feeling this lately (see above quote).  Settling into where i am now.  Loving my little ones, my home, tiny new buds, little glimmers of sunshine, big bowls of homemade soup, down comforter, fresh yummy air, hot sudsy showers, candles and cuddling, the sound of rain, good books, blooming crocuses, little girl giggles.  Simple things. 

So much beauty and i don't even need to go in my backyard or dig.  Just open my eyes and see.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This Morning

I pull out my perfect ceramic mug, it feels just right in my hands. The coffee is making its brewing sounds, I breathe in the richness. 

People in Haiti are mourning the loss of loved ones. 

I pour just the right amount of cream in the bottom of the mug.  And two teaspoons of sugar.

Children have lost their moms
And their homes. 

I pour the steaming coffee; stir, pick up the mug and cradle the warmth in both hands. 

They are hungry and wanting

In the next room, my girls giggle.

I look out the kitchen window, notice two sweet birds sitting on the bare winter branch, the early morning light.  Breathe deeply. 

And say thank you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dear 2010,

Okay, listen.  I've about had it with this tangle of shit you've been so freely throwing at me these days.  Seriously, i have. 

Do you remember back, just last month, when i chose my word for the year?  Well, it just so happened that that word was EASE.  Remember?  Not TEASE, or DISease.  Not let's-see-how-difficult-we-can-make-it for her, or let's-play-dirty-sneaky-little-tricks on her (ha ha ha). 

But, EASE.  As in calm and flowing and effortless. 

Seriously, i know, there is much to be learned from struggle and opposition, suffering and contrasts and all that other bullshit, but COME ON!  I swear, i can see the gifts, really---i'm doing my best to GET THIS stuff you keep slamming in my face. 

But slow down.  i'm tired now and i just want to rest.  Can you allow for that?  Pretty Plllleeeeaase.  with sugar on top.  I'll even throw a cherry up there and some whip cream if you want.

And one more thing, do you mind if we start today?

Thank you for your consideration,

Julia M.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


"Whenever your perspective on something creates emotional pain, it's always because your perspective is still so narrow that you've yet to see all the good it will make possible." Author unknown

It's interesting how something that may initially seem wrong or bad or not good, often turns out to be a blessing, an opening, a gift.  I love the above quote.  It's such a comfort to think that everything is happening for our higher good, even when, in the moment, it may feel yucky and mucky and painful.  It's not easy to stay open and trusting when it feels like doors are being slammed shut in our faces or when everything feels hard and stuck, or like nothing is going right.  Especially when really big, seemingly tragic, things happen. 

But what if we could look down on ourselves, could somehow see the big picture of it all?   And could know, absolutely, that it's all happening FOR us, not To us.  And that it's all really very beautiful and lovely and just right?  And trust that we're being held and guided and loved every step of the way...

Sounds like freedom to me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ebbs and Flows

The rain is falling this morning, a light, drizzly kind of rain.  I'm at home in my warm house, old doggy sleeping beside me, a mug of hot tea, warm fleece.  All is soft and sweet and quiet.  All, that is, except for the noisy buzz of my mind.

I've been searching around this morning for someone else's words, words that would perfectly convey what it is i'm feeling at the moment.  I've been flipping through books and searching online looking for--i'm not quite sure what.

And then, in a moment, i became aware of some deeper part of me watching the fumbling-all-over-the-place part of me. 

And that deeper part of me told me to take a deep breath and pause, to slow down and settle in.  And then the deeper part told me that i have all the words i need, that i can look toward myself rather than away from myself. 

What i want to say has something to do with the ebb and flow of creativity and life in general.  It has something to do with settling into those ebbs and flows rather that resisting them or wishing them away. 

My mind loves to tell me what it thinks i should be doing--it really isn't okay with me taking a day to simply be without some "productive" agenda.  My mind thinks i should write neat little sentences and tie my thoughts together just perfectly.  My mind loves to tell me that i don't have the right words to convey what i'm feeling and that what is isn't really okay.  My mind is impatient and thinks it needs to "make" things happen rather than trust in the beautiful flow of life.

So, with only a little bit of time before i need to go pick up my little one, i will listen to that sweet and gentle part of myself.  That part that says; settle in, breathe deeply, quiet your mind, listening to the that you are just where you need to be in the ebb and flow of life.