Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thoughts on turning 7 and a little Wishcasting for the upcoming year


If you ask Cowgirl, she will tell you I am now 7. She is a bright child, understands 500 is bigger than 100, a 1,000 is bigger than both but somehow in her mind she is 5 and I now have turned 7. Daddy (who by her logic should be 6) is 13. I guess it is his bald head. She cannot be convinced that I am older than Pa-Pa.

There is something wonderful about celebrating a birthday through your child's eyes. The grown ups are a little too tired to make much of a fuss (truth be told, I want a fuss, but there you have it) but Cowgirl will not let it die. She informed me on Monday she is in charge of the calendar this week at school and she told everyone my birthday was coming. She has been talking about what the fairies might do for me - a quandary to be sure since I am the fairies hand, eyes and feet ... so yes, I wrote myself a note from the fairies wishing me a happy birthday and slipped it into her mailbox this morning before she arrived downstairs for the celebratory birthday scones she had me buy yesterday at Whole Foods (woefully non-sconelike scones I might add.)

One thing I seem to be teaching my daughter is the concept of doing for yourself. We are big on Thank You notes in our house and I guess I must mention who gave her what more often than I realize. Today she has on her Jeannie Shirt (turtleneck lovingly appliqued with a horse by a dear friend) and she loves coming home and coloring in the pads Adeline gave her for her birthday. So I shouldn't be surprised when she repeatedly points and asks me "mommy, who gave you that necklace?" or "I like that shirt mommy, who gave you it?" And I find myself replying fairly often "well honey, mommy got that for herself."

I had a friend who would buy herself a bottle of champagne every year on her birthday, explaining she did not want to rely upon anyone else to celebrate her day. I guess I've been living that philosophy in my daily life, justifying if I don't do this for me, why should I expect others to? Still, birthdays have been a time when I have waited for others to remember me and I've been disappointed a lot over the years. Of course, I don't remind people it is coming up. I've equated remembering with caring and that has gotten me into trouble. For I will remember a significant date is coming up, but still fail to make the time to do something in time. I'm a scrambler-at-the-last minute type even though I've known for weeks. It has nothing to do with caring; we're just all way over-extended, short on down time for all the details.

So today I am adopting a "celebrate as we go" attitude and making this day what I want for myself. A day of play, dancing, responding to our whims and fancies and letting go of crazy expectations. Because 7 is a wonderful age to be especially with a 5 year old to lead the way.

(Okay, a necessary addendum because I sound like a horrible ingrate here ... I have received such amazingly thoughtful gifts from friends ... packages filled with pampering and crafting goodies from Leanne and Diana and the most creative photo homages from my Unravelling 365 Flickr pool crew who just rocked the day for me. And then this afternoon Cowgirl was making cards for her aunties and she came up to me with a card she made especially for my birthday: me holding kite. My kite of dreams. Indeed, I am so blessed by so many and I never never want it to seem that I've forgotten that.)

And because it is my day, I am choosing to make a wish for the coming year. I want this year to be a time of deeply, fully believing in myself, listening to my dreams and living fearlessly as I step forward to bring those dreams into reality. The two qualities I wish to bring into my life are Patience and Joy. I think if I can work on the first, the second will naturally arise.

Big wishes but hey, at 7 I am ready for some big girl gifts. And while I'm asking, I might as well throw in a wish for that 50 mm lens that seems to be dancing through my dreams lately.

Happy Birthday to us all ... because every day we can choose as a new beginning. ♥

(oh, and for those curious few ... just add a few decades onto 7 and you will have my true age.)




Sunday, October 25, 2009

Digging Out





Hello ... is anybody there? Pardon the muddle below ...

I feel a bit Rip Van Winklesque after this week of being ill, stuck at home and stuck indoors due to continual rainy, drizzly cold weather. I've made brief forays out of the bed, only to run back shrieking as the house is resembling Miss Havisham's mansion complete with a dark haired version of Estella. I'm not sure who I am in all this mess, but I'm hoping it is Pip.

On top of - or perhaps because of - this enforced pause in my life, I am feeling utterly overwhelmed, frustrated, tired and defeated. Are you glad you joined me here? It just seems like my life has run into a log jam and I am not sure how to begin clearing the clutter. And clutter is the word du jour. In less than two months time we will be moving my mother cross country and into an apartment in a retirement facility near to our home. We have talked about this for years now; we've been planning, preparing and getting ourselves ready for this change. And yet ...

And yet the reality of it all has been settling upon my shoulders and I am feeling very wobbly with the weight of it all. The transfer of roles from daughter to caregiver/decision maker is not a graceful one, especially for me. I realized I have lived my entire life far FAR away from my family for various reasons, but a major one being a need to enforce healthy boundaries. I love my mother and we have a wonderful relationship, but the boundary between where she ends and I begin is a blurry one. I am not blaming her; it just is what it is. We were very close while I was growing up and that closeness gave me a great sense of being loved, nurtured and supported. It also led to confusion regarding my emotions, my sense of what is mine to deal with and what is not my responsibility. The biggest muddle has been determining what are my dreams, desires and beliefs versus what I have absorbed from her.

A huge stressor for me is clutter. I struggle with the daily onslaught of mail, household debris and the infinite number of objects Cowgirl seems to attract to her like a magnet grabbing paperclips. I try to recycle, reuse or give away but at some point, the pile is so high only the trash can will do. And I feel guilty about the waste. Well, that will be nothing compared to the Mount Everest of stuff that will be shipped out here and left for us to shift through. My husband just spent 4 days helping my mom clean out papers and boxes of stuff still packed from her move 4 years ago. At 84, she is just not able or willing to do very much now. I don't blame her and being so far away, we have to just deal with it on this end. But to say I am dreading the task is a gross understatement. In addition to guilt over waste, there will be a Whitman's sampler box of emotions pouring through me as I work through the debris of my life. That's what it will be and more: 60 years of my parents' life as a couple and then a family all saved in boxes, drawers, filing cabinets and more.

I am trying to put things into perspective and adjust my attitude to one of acceptance and perhaps hopefulness for a chance to heal, understand and put behind me some demons that have apparently been nesting inside my head for far too long. This too shall pass ... but let's be frank: it will be a bitch, no two ways about it.

So it's been a major pity party in my psyche ... my mind is filled with things I want to be doing and yet I am too tired and feeling grossly lacking in ability and inspiration. Yup, those gremlins who feast upon creative insecurities are like tourists belly up at the casino buffet. All You Can Eat. Stay All Day. For some silly reason, I have been feeling like I should be further along - whatever that means - in terms of my finding my style or vision when it comes to photography and then I look at various photo pools and rather than inspired, I feel despondent. This is something that means a lot to me. A LOT. I have found my way back to my passion for taking pictures, for capturing a moment of being in that small window of the picture frame, sharing my experience and my understanding of my life, my world. And yet I feel I have fallen down somewhere, lost my stride, lost my confidence. I rationally know each day is an opportunity to learn more and see more but I hear those gremlins taunting me "who are you kidding?"

I started this all off with Digging Out and it sure seems like I am wallowing here ... but for me part of my process is to truthfully name what it is that seeks to trip me up. Seeking guidance, I drew an Oracle card and received the message: Be Yourself. I drew an animal card and picked Ant, representing Patience and Trust. I am also reminded that yoga teaches there are common obstacles that arise on the path to Self Realization, and oh my, guess what they are? Disease, dullness, doubt, lack of enthusiasm, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from ground gained (also on this list is carelessness and sensuality.) I then read this and find some comfort in this description: Many obstacles are purposely put on the way for us to pass through. They are there to make us understand and express our own capacities. We all have that strength, but we don't seem to know it. We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities. (Swami Satchidananda)

So while I am tempted to lay down and give up, today I will pick up my camera and keep moving, keep trying. Oh, and I did clean out one bag of clutter from Cowgirl's room, put some laundry in, started dinner and yes, this week I will tackle the cleaning. And my sense of smell is slowly coming back and just in time as one of my etsy purchases arrived in the mail ... yes, 20 small bottles of delightfully rich, exotic, evocative perfumes. I vow to wear a new one every day. What do you gremlins have to say about that?!


When the gremlins arrive, get outside for some Inspiration ♥




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It Figures

Cowgirl offering her sick mama some love ♥




The husband left on Saturday for a 5 day trip and I woke up that morning with the start of a cold. Had to take Cowgirl with me to Chinese class and to my yoga class which involved packing similar to a jungle expedition. We're talking organization skills up the wazoo and my brain was beginning a long, slow melt down. Then I lost my voice. For 3 days. Didn't faze Cowgirl in the least and she kept talking and asking questions and generally relishing the sound of her voice dominating every conversation. Oh, and the only conversations I have had for the past 5 days have been with her as I am sticking close to my bed and Moose is not much of a conversationalist.

And if all that doesn't warrant a pity party, let's add that I am on week 2 of Unravelling: Exploring the Senses and yes, this week is all about smell and the only thing I can smell right now is the Vick's vapor rub slathered onto my chest. Oh, and in the Creative Goddess course we are working with the energy of the throat chakra. Honest. Not that I have the energy to do anything except prop my novel upon my belly and read until I drift off into a NyQuil induced coma. (Can they make those measuring cups any harder to read? I mean, I'm already delirious with sinus congestion and then trying to read the dosage on the cups is insane.) Although rest is limited as I am driving Cowgirl into school, then picking her up; walking the dog; martial class to take her to; dinners to be made or purchased; and school lunches to be packed. All karmic payback for the holiday when my poor mother was sick in bed and we (my dad and brother and I) insisted she still make us the holiday meal. I am so sorry mom. I had no idea.

I do take it as a good sign that I am thinking about all the things I want to be doing ... pictures to take, art projects to start and finish. And there is the sobering thought that Halloween is only 10 days away and I still have to figure out Cowgirl's costume and she is insistent upon going out as Hong Kong Phooey. Really. We gotta get her working on her Scatman Crothers impersonation.

So until my senses return, here is some visual inspiration from my first week of exploring Sight. Focus was upon color and shapes and I really got into looking for hearts. It was great to get my eyes looking in a new way and my poor nose is eager for her chance. Sigh. Soon dear snoze, soon.

can you see my poor red snout?










Oh, and a little advice to anyone on decongestants: it is not a good idea to surf Etsy while under the influence. Let's just say, I'm not sure what will be arriving in the mail and there are several unfamiliar order confirmation emails in my inbox. Er, ahem, Paypal ... what is my limit?

Friday, October 16, 2009

A long winter

I know, I know, Winter is still a ways away, but with unseasonably cold weather here it feels like December. Plus it has been gray, rainy and just plain dreary. Not that I mind staying inside with a fire going, a good book to read and plenty of tea and cocoa in the pantry but matters get more complicated with a 5 year old who only has High Speed and Off buttons.

So here is a glimpse into what is a mommy's last defense: dancing!


video


This day I am trusting in my reserves of creativity to keep us active and engaged for the coming months. I am grateful for great music, like Dan Zanes, which has gotten me singing even while stuck in traffic on the way to work. He just puts me in a good mood. And no matter how grumpy I may be, hearing a little voice from the backseat wailing "all around the kitchen cock a doodle doodle doo!" brings an immediate smile to my face.

And inspired? Well I've embarked upon Unravelling Further: Exploring the Senses and it promises to be a juicy, exciting, stimulating, engaging, feast for all my senses. My camera is out and snapping away and my hope is to expand my vision when it comes to photography and hone my personal view.

I would love to know: what do you do when the weather forces you inside?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The camera never lies ...

... but I am having a hard time accepting some of its truths. I knew Cowgirl had been getting heavier, but when did my baby turn into a little girl?

Cowgirl at age 3

Cowgirl at age 4

Cowgirl at age 5

And why is three years looking a lot rougher on me?

Monday, October 12, 2009

goddess of small things



In various forums this question keeps coming up for me: what am I the goddess of? I've been stumped. Uncertainty? Change? Transformation? Self Discovery?

Pondering this question, the phrase The Goddess of Small Things popped into my mind. Yeah, a play on the novel title but after an initial chuckle over my tendency to appropriate things, it settled on me and seems right. I am seeking to find magic in the details; heck, I am seeking to notice the details! In my style statement, I came up as a Cherished Creative and I think cherishing is central to my nature and my outlook. I want to savor and cherish every juicy bit life hands to me. The world seems busier and busier and I am rebelling by trying to slow down, feeling okay with telling people no, I need time and space for myself and for family time and then let myself really be here now. (see? I am the goddess of appropriation!)

So details details and more details. Driving home today from school, Cowgirl and I were listening to one of the cds that is probably permanently fused into the player, Dan Zanes "NightTime" which is going on its third year, along with a kids yoga cd called Happy, and more recently, the sound track from Slumdog Millionaire filling out regular rotation. As mind numbing as this is, I hope to never forget this detail from our life. Or how Cowgirl wraps a towel around her head and speaks in a high voice imitating her Grandmother. She then hides behind her dad and drops the towel, popping out to surprise me as if I really believed my MIL had been visiting just moments ago.

I want to remember our nature walks when every stick, stone and piece of scat is scrutinized. Or how Cowgirl hands me things found on the street, informing me it is my clue, as if we were part of Scooby Doo's gang on the trail of a mystery.




And I never want to forget a magical afternoon sharing yoga and art making with a group of girls - my first workshop for Cowgirl Warrior Artists! On a whim I decided to add this workshop to my yoga center's fall calendar. I had been thinking I should have offered another adult class instead; that I probably would find working with the kids too overwhelming and exhausting. Not at all! I was amazed by how smoothly the afternoon went; how fabulously inspired these girls were and how engaging and enjoyable art making in a group can be. I think we miss out not having regular times for sewing, knitting or painting circles. Granted, that's pretty much all girls and women had back in "the old days" but certainly important bonding, growth and maybe even a little subversive activity does place nurtured in a safe circle of support and mutual interest.




So my cowgirls did yoga, collaged, painted rocks and we closed by dancing ... yes, to Dan Zanes. And the detail I want to remember? Besides the joy on their faces, the ease of their laughter and pleasure in just being kids? I want to remember their inspired feet and these rockin' cowgirl boots. So maybe I am the Goddess of Cowgirls? 'Cos all these memories are making me want to kick up my heels and run off yelling Ya HOO!




Yes, power and beauty in small things. That's what I'm into these days.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Transformation




This week's project on the Goddess Creativity ecourse is about transformation and specifically letting go of what holds me back from living my dreams. (Okay, this is my spin on the assignment.) I've known it is all about attitude, choosing happiness, choosing in this moment to relish the gifts and opportunities present rather than wallowing in fear, doubt or worries. So how fitting I receive this email from the Universe this week:

Tell you what, Lisa: If you can get happy right now, in spite of any
problems, challenges, and circumstances that now seem to taunt you, I'll take
care of those problems, challenges, and circumstances, as well as "ever-after."

Agh-hmm... Please, do the math, take the bait, and never look back.

The Universe


I am finding something has been shifting for me ... an easing up of the worries, a settling into the pleasure of pure play and creating and a slight, ever so slight, opening up of space and time for me to do the things I love. I was reflecting upon my life in the past month and that perspective allowed me to see that while I may feel there is never enough time or energy to "do it all," indeed I do pack a lot of living into my days. I tend not to give myself enough credit.



So today I am taking my transformation arrow, loaded with prayer slips of all that I want to release to the goddess/Universe and will gift it back to the earth. I am excited to really feel the layers being dropped as I move into the life I want to be living. This weekend I will teach my first kids art camp and rather than nervous, I am excited and relaxed about the day. I know I cannot control what will come up, so I am just preparing myself for the adventure. This, my friends, is not my usual way of operating. And it feels good!



A bit of a hodge podge here ... but I also wanted to share Cowgirl's pictures from her birthday party. Sometimes I am brilliant. I gave her a disposable camera and she ran around her party taking pictures. When I got them back, I was so impressed by her array of images. She really took a nice variety of shots that captured a day at the pumpkin patch.

A personal favorite: her view of her daddy. With his head chopped off I can't help but think she is visually cutting out his mouth and his words.




This is was hands down the happening spot: the baby chick house. Yes, after handling all those fluffy chicks, the kids then came out for snacks and cake. Ummm ... germy goodness!


At the last minute, I splurged on doggy themed party items. It was money well spent when I saw this ...


And for any of you having gone through Unravelling ecourses, you can imagine my pride when a feet and shadow shot was captured!


All my pictures from the party were of the kids. It was such a gorgeous day, I am happy she got this shot. Somehow the tilted perspective seems appropriate.



A final portrait of the photographer herself. Yes, I am one proud momma!




I am grateful for the gifts of creativity that both my daughter and myself are exploring; I am inspired by her images to keep on going; I am trusting the Universe to take care of the small stuff and leave me time for the juicy good bits.

Phew ... a marathon of topics! Off to bury my stick. What adventures does your weekend have in store for you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where my head is these days ....



... swirling around and around in a vortex of ideas, activities, chores, to do lists and changes a-plenty. No words ... just images for now.




Glimpses from my day that keep me chuggin' along this crazy track called life. What keeps you movin' and groovin' and in love?



Friday, October 2, 2009

My Guru (and TGIF)


When the student is ready,

The teacher will come.

My guru stands

just a growth spurt under

42 inches short


Each afternoon

our lessons take place

The classroom – the sidewalk

Her teaching tool – a bike

Strapping on her helmet

a samurai of the spider-girl clan

my sensei

Begins


Suburban mother’s Sublime

not quite terror

but apprehension

mingled with awe

as I watch my child

Legs pumping

Pedals spinning

Bike flying

farther and farther

away from me

Pigtails

tiny prayer flags

sending Blessings

streaming

back to me

in the wake

of her flight


She is my personal

koan

mind-stopper

her actions requiring me to

drop the folly

of rational thought

forcing me into

the realm of

intuition

tutoring me in the wisdom

that is only accessible

by the heart


Eternally my baby

reminding me

of a newly hatched fledgling

feathers still damp

movements wobbly

plowing forward

Unaware

or unconcerned

of the dangers that lie ahead

You exemplify the truth

that nothing stands still

least of all ourselves

and Change is

present in every moment


I watch in wonderment

of your Courage

bravely rushing forth

to greet your future

and welcoming

the exhilaration of challenge

I recognize I cannot linger

in the past

or else I will be left

far behind

and life

cannot be lived from the safety

of a front porch

but by greeting it

head up

head on


Try as I might

to hold onto these moments

these feelings

shining pebbles of

Aliveness

the waves of life

sweep in and wash

everything away

in preparation for new

Offerings

Gifts

Inspirations


You move farther and farther

ahead

never glancing

back

but modeling a profound level of

Trust

that I am always running behind you

and present

To witness the triumphs -

a masterful negotiation of that sidewalk bump -

and quick

to clean up the spills

administer the kisses

to boo-booed knees or shins

my hand at the ready

to support you

through challenging

terrain


You show me

Life is fragile

We teeter our way through

balance always delicate

and even with training wheels

we still can fall

so we must continue

to practice

and practice some more

Accepting the falls

Believing

risks taken

will be outweighed

by the magnificence

of our flight