Monday, August 31, 2009

Something that moves me

For Best Shot Monday ... what could be sweeter than these two love birds engaged in a little PDA? A reminder to us all - it is that simple and that sweet.

A Few of My Favorite Things

I've been working my way through the list of 52 questions ... I think I'm into May? Anyway, the piece I am up to now asks: What is your current obsession? Which has had me thinking for some time now.

The following is a list of the things occupying my mind and absorbing oodles of my time (meaning my creativity in menu planning, cooking and housekeeping is suffering):

1) Art journaling. Of course, I love any excuse to buy more supplies (Dick Blick's loves me!) and beautiful magazines to cut up for collages. I completed my Unfolding Your Life mini book and I could see this being a great practice to do every 6 months or so, if only to mark the changes in my perspective.

2) Getting outside and photographing all the sunflowers that take over the landscape this time of year. One can never take too pictures of flowers, right? If nothing else, I can use the pictures in my art journal.

3) Photography in general. I am up to day 62 of the 365 day challenge of a self portrait a day. Obviously I am beginning to multitask as today's portrait is a combination of 2 projects: self portrait and guilty pleasure. Yes, I love HBO's True Blood.

4) Cooler weather = knitting! Have dusted off my circulars and am attempting a bag to felt (translation: knit large, sloppy, toss into washing machine and strink the hell out of it! Voila! Lovely objects people will ooh and ah over.) Perhaps this will be the year I get started early on some holiday gift items?

5) Writing writing writing! I signed up to write a poem a day for 30 days to email to another person. Hi poem partner Julee! I hope I am up for the haul.

6) 52Q project which falls under art journaling catagory. But I love it so much, it deserves its own line.

7) Rubber stamps. Examples of which can be seen in #5. Very soothing activity, unless you gouge yourself with the cutting tool!

8) Believe it or not, I am finding time to meditate. Again. Obviously, I need the reminder to stay present and mindful. I am reading and listening to talks on Buddhism and the teachings seem to be sinking in. Or perhaps, I am just ready and in greater need of the guidance.

What are you obsessed with these days? Please share; I'm sure I could do with a few more things on my plate!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Last Spring it had become apparent to me that I become "cut off" from so much that used to nourish my soul. To some degree, this was to be expected: we had moved farther outside of town; life with a preschooler was getting busier & busier; I work part time; and I'm just older and tire easily! I missed seeing friends, popping out for a movie or a coffee and a chat, but ... that's life, oh well.

Then I got involved in all these online courses and what blew me away were the strong connections being formed. Sure, it is easier when I can type something at 9 AM and someone can answer me from the comfort of their living room at 2 AM. Still, people were reaching out, supporting and encouraging me and it brought home the fact that I have seemingly "misplaced" my circle of friends closer to home.

So I have been taking the steps to put myself out there more. It is hard. I remember trying to connect with some moms in one of Cowgirl's gym classes and feeling rejected when they never called. And I am trying to promote my upcoming workshops, so yesterday I pulled out the phone and began calling people I was embarrassed to have neglected for so long. And of course they were gracious, understanding, happy to hear from me and so excited to hear what has been going on. Why did I wait so long?

I need to be forgiving of myself - it has been busy, I have been adjusting to changes that seem to roll faster and faster the older Cowgirl gets. And with absence was a realization of how much I cherish my friends, miss being part of a world larger than the circuit I walk the dog, and how pleasurable it is to fall into that circle of attention, support and care that friends provide. And I miss being a friend to them.

But I have also learned about my boundaries and my need to watch how I use my energy and to be able to say "no" when I need to. If I don't take care of myself, I cannot be a very good friend to others, never mind tending to my family. So perhaps I am ready to integrate this aspect back into my life with a better understanding of how to care for those relationships without sacrificing myself. It is a balancing act I struggle with - family, friends, self, teaching, creative time, Moose time - but I think I have a better handle on it now.

That's not to say my online circle isn't firmly in place and being nourished daily by emails, blog reading and flickr comments and discussions. And as a reminder of how the two worlds do interconnect, Cowgirl and I went to collect the mail and were thrilled to find a fat enveloped addressed to "Mermaids!" sitting in the mailbox!

Inside was a treasure trove of goodies for scrapbooking sent to us with love from the Mermaid herself. Cowgirl loves - I mean loves in the way some women love buying new shoes - getting mail. And this was an extra special treat as I informed her this was from The Mermaid of our art videos. (This lead to a lengthy discussion of the relationship between the Fairies and Mermaids and how they know each other.) After spilling the contents of the envelope unto the floor, we immediately got to work making a necklace. It was a great way to end our day. (Thank you McCabe ... and I haven't forgotten about my video project! It is fermenting ...)

Go figure, right afterwards I got a phone call from another dear friend and even though I needed to clean up and get dinner on, I plop myself down and savored every morsel of our conversation.

How do you balance it all? What keeps you connected?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family Day (Letter For My Cowgirl)

Three Year Anniversary

What more can I say

That hasn’t already been said

About the privilege of

Loving you?

Three years ago

Our worlds came together -

Gliding, not colliding -

Planets slipping into orbit.

Yes, that gentle

That comfortable

That natural.

Each day watching you

Is like catching glimpses of myself

In a fun house mirror.

Some views, humorous in their mimicry of my quirks;

Others views making me winch

As I see my flaws magnified.

Thankfully, more often I find myself

In awe of your true essence

that has been apparent from the beginning.

Your strength, your determination,

Your forward facing attitude,

Giving me hope that you will be able

To move through the rough patches ahead –

The unknowns, the never-to-be-known

Pieces of yourself –

With peace and acceptance.

And always, I am humbled by

The trust, the faith and the love

you so willingly cede to me.

Those moments of grace when you reach your hand out,

without looking,

but never doubting,

you will find my hand waiting.

Arms lifted

Patiently for me

To scoop you up and hold you close,

Savoring the sensation of our two hearts

Face to face

Beating in unison.

Truly, what more can I say?

I am grateful every day for the gift

Of being your mother;

I bow down my head in honor

Of your spirit that inspires me to believe

In the power of Love to transform,

even when we are unaware of the need.

Three years ago

You latched onto me,

And our life began.

You, the key that opened my heart,

when I had not even known

there was a lock.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Good Day

Cowgirl has declared today to be a Good Day and so I thought I should share the secret recipe so that all can enjoy such bliss.

Recipe for a Good Day:
- Begin the morning with 2 hours cuddle time in bed with Cowgirl (a.k.a. Sleeping In.)
- Take Moosie on his morning walk in hoodie and sweatpants (it's that cold! Unheard of for August.)
- Linger over morning coffee and ponder the possibilities for an unscheduled day
- Make grilled cheese sandwiches and organic tomato basil soup for lunch and eat as a family (Moose included of course.)
- Spend day watching Cowgirl construct a parking structure out of legos for her cars and airplanes while working on Vision Kit (meaning: have piles of magazines and clip happily away anything that inspires or thrills you.)
- Do more art because there is still plenty of time!
- Take some pictures (read: permission to goof off and always, lots of jumping!)

Do not rush any portion of the process; bake until you are fully relaxed; enjoy at leisure.

Today I am grateful for having this munchkin by my side. An old friend recently traveled to Taiwan to meet the 6 week old baby who is/will be her adopted son. She has to leave him and wait for the court process to legally declare them a family and this will take months. I cannot fathom the heartache of meeting, holding, loving and then leaving your child. I am hugging Cowgirl extra tight in gratitude for us being together now. And in 2 days time, we will be celebrating the 3 year anniversary of our family coming together through adoption. It is hard to believe that much time has passed; my heart is still tender contemplating it all.

I'm not sure what I am trusting right now. I have put together three brand new workshops for the fall calendar at the Yoga Center where I teach and last night I began to freak out about it. Yeah, those nasty gremlins made a house call! I found myself thinking "I don't have anything to teach! What was I thinking? People won't pay money for what I am offering." I guess I am trusting my inner fairies will show those gremlins to the door; I am trusting that fears, doubts and insecurities are a natural part of any new adventure and I must live through it, but not be crippled by it.

I am inspired by my Cowgirl who has been nothing but brave, loving and trusting in her life with us. From the first moment she grabbed onto me; from the first night when she fell asleep upon her daddy's chest, she has only looked forward to her future. She reminds me daily that life is only lived forward. No regrets, nothing held back. I love you my Xiao Miao, my little seedling. Happy day indeed!

Do share your favorite recipes for a Good Day :)

(Cowgirl using monster puppet to scare away my Blue Meanies)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Impossible to Describe and Best Shot

The theme around the house seems to be Illness. Cowgirl is still recovering from her sinus infection (although we do not see any signs of it slowing her down, merely the sounds of its presence) and now the husband has fallen prey to some mystery virus that was deemed a cold by the doctor (after a 2 1/2 hour wait in the after-hours clinic) but which has had my man on his back for 3 days now. (Well, husbands do Sick better than anyone in my opinion.)

So stick a white cap on me and call me Florence Nightingale. I've made soups, fetched drinks, checked thermometers, administered medicines and a cooling touch to fevered brows. Which is to say, I've had a lot of time to ponder my life and how I got here. Prominent in my mind is the coming 3 year anniversary of our becoming a family. It is hard for me to reconcile my life now with my life Before but I cannot imagine any other life than the one I'm living. And I am casting aside concerns about showing all of my Cowgirl to readers unknown because, well, you all just have to gaze upon this delightfulness of a person who rocks my world and my heart every day.

And lest you think I haven't had time to channel my inner Sylvia Path, another poem in honor of this week. What moments do you find impossible to describe? Give it a try ... you will be amazed at the effect upon your being by just reliving the moment through pen and paper.

Impossible to Describe (our family birthday)

One moment -

I was



Floating untethered to this world.

Then -

A soup bowl of nerves

A stew pot of doubt

Waiting to receive

Into untested arms


Your arrival was announced

Matter-of-factly –

“Here she is!”

The transfer made swiftly

With barely a squawk

From your surprised lips.

Tiny starfish hands

Gripped my shoulders and chest

As you velcroed yourself

Securely in place

Upon my being.

Dark eyes resisted my gaze.

The event too overwhelming

For anyone to easily take in.

To try and coax a smile from you

Would have been a denial

Of the vastness and

The solemnity

Of what was being birthed.

Those first few days

We all were trying to find

Land legs after being

At sea for lifetimes

Both long and short.

Impossible to describe

The moment when

On unsteady legs

You shuffled towards me

Our eyes held in an out-of-time trance.

Then, your soft puppy body -

Flesh of my heart -

Falling easily into mine

With a flash of a smile

As breathtaking as

The shadow of an eagle

Gliding across my landscape.

A bubble of laughter

Spilled from your lips -

The sound of the Universe

Coming into existence

And setting into orbit

The turning of my heart.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Treasure Chest and TGIF

Is it Friday? Vacation has me turned all around and I even tried to write June on a check the other day. I got to sleep in, so that means it is the end of my work week. Three luxurious days spread before me with already too much on my to-do list, so I flung it aside and we headed off to the zoo.

So I guess I am continuing to Trust myself. Or rather, I am choosing to trust myself/ my intuition in the hopes that if I keep doing so, eventually I will eventually "fake it 'til I make it." Lots of pots bubbling on my stove top and I need to believe I not only can do what I want - that I have the talent, the insight, the skills - but that I have the right to try. So I am trusting myself and my feet for stepping onto the path I seemingly stumbled across (sorry if this all sounds mysterious; details are still being worked out and I don't want to jinx myself!)

I am grateful for the friends in my life who support and encourage me and who put up with my current crazy hyped up state. You know who you are!

I am inspired by Madame Sark who is juicing me beyond juiciness with her writing prompts. Sorry if the poetry is getting old for you; I am just loving this format for exploring ideas. Believe it or not, I am not sharing all of them!

The Treasure Chest

Inside of me
Is a treasure chest.
A storehouse of gifts,
Talents, insights,

yet to be known,

never mind claimed.

This chest has rested

on the bottom of
shark infested waters,

covered in seaweed, shells, broken glass -
The debris of life lived thoughtlessly.

The lock has rusted shut,

and barnacles seal tight
the contents held within.

None-the-less, a voice challenges me
To bring this chest to the surface.
Bloodied fingers and
Broken nails
are assured
in any attempt
to pry
open a resistant lid.

I hesitate -
What if
for all my efforts,

I find only a paltry assortment

of common, worn or dull
rather than gold
rests inside?

What do I secretly hope to uncover?

A lance with which to challenge Doubt to a joust;
An open heart recycled from Sadness;
A camera that photographs only Love;

Poems celebrating friends
who have showered me with Hope and Laughter;
Songs that summon mermaids and cowgirls

to Joyful campfire sing-alongs;
Paints to brush into images
of Magic
for fairy folk and other friends;
Sequinned slippers that move feet

to dance through troubles with Grace and Ease;

A pen to re-write
the story of my life

starting with NOW.

or is it courage?
Compels me to continue.

Not to try would mean

Abandoning dreams
and yielding to
Greedy gremlins
who wish to hoard
all treasure
for themselves.

I rest my hands

upon the water soaked wood
and close my eyes.

Like a child making a wish
before blowing out

Birthday candles,
I pause,

allowing time
for my vision of
Hoped for treasures

to materialize into

Treasures already

Do tell ... what is in your treasure chest today?
(yes, that is Cowgirl riding a large Rooster who is wearing her hat on the Merry Go Round.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Bracelet (Loving Imperfectly)

Life demands
that I love

To hold onto notions
of how things should
Look, feel, behave
is to set myself up for
And a denial of
Who I am and
I am loving.

To love
I must show up
for each moment,
Open and ready
to let it all unfold
in its own rhythm and pace.

I judge not
the mismatched beaded
my daughter presents to me.
A gift of her attention
and time and

So too
I need to realize
my daughter
willingly accepts
my imperfect loving.
The burnt cookies,
the broken crayons,
the nonsensical sentences
in the rambling stories I create
on the fly for her.

All she asks for
is my attention.
My presence.
And my acceptance
of the emerging
Spirit that is
within her.

Loving Imperfectly
Merely asks
that we do
the best -
The Very Best -
that we can.

And then accept and
the messy
but always

Thoughts on Not Accepting Reality ...

Please tell me it's all a bad dream ... that the calendar is wrong and today is not a week after our vacation ... the vacation I dream about 51 weeks out of the year, that I pine for like a teenage girl pines for a Jonas brother (is that current? what is the 2009 equivalent of Davy Jones? My tastes ran towards George Harrison, but that's another topic). And I ask you: why does a week at work drag by while a week on vacation is over before I can wipe the sleep sand from my eyes?

Yes, I am having trouble decompressing from a lovely week in a magical place. The moment I walked into the Boathouse we rented, I thought to myself "When can I come back here on my own?" and plans for a future birthday celebration were hatched. And while that moment of inspiration still feels fresh in my mind, the reality is we are home, the bags unpacked, laundry done and Cowgirl has been to the doctor for a sinus infection she cultivated over the week away (no worries: she did not let such minor inconveniences like a runny nose and hacking cough affect her capacity for fun and high energy play.) Aside from the fact that we were away from work, why is it vacation feels so good and return to "normal" life feels so stifling?

One thing I know about myself is I swing from needing structure and routine to the opposite extreme of craving spontaneity and surprise. What a vacation allows is a chance to set in place a very simple, dare I say elegant, daily routine punctuated by splashes of play and adventure. On vacation, we pared away all the inessentials - television, mail, telephones - and focused upon basics. Every morning we lounged around in pajamas, Cowgirl held enthralled by the antics of Sponge Bob Square Pants while adults sipped coffee and gazed upon the loveliness of our pond-side view. No newspaper, no hurry, the only decision to be made: which beach and when?

Our nighttime routine was equally inspiring: cleaning off the day's beachy grime in the outdoor shower (a luxury I knew and loved as a child when I spent summers at our beach house - yes, I was and am very privileged and I appreciate every morsel of goodness I was offered by my family); dinner to be prepped (it had to be simple: we had only basic pots and pans and 4 plates, 4 bowls and 4 mugs); cocktails to be poured and plastic picnic table to set for our meal on the porch. After dinner some card games, music playing through the laptop (okay, we didn't totally rough it - but no internet connection - gasp!) or maybe a quick spin on the pond in the rowboat or kayaks? Which shall it be?

Since we were in one room, the sleeper bed would be pulled out around 8 p.m. and Cowgirl's makeshift camp bed (couch cushions and air pad) set up. We might watch one show together, all piled into our big bed and then stories were read, Cowgirl put to sleep and we adults snuggled in for some leisurely grown up reading in bed. I rarely made it past 9:30; exhaustion from so much fun and the gentle rhythms of Cowgirl's phlegmy breathing dragged me down into Dreamland rather quickly.

The early morning sun and sounds of birds and something scampering over our rooftop (one morning I did see a coyote run by!) usually woke us early, and so our days went by in a hypnotic rhythm echoing the pulse of the nearby sea. We have souvenirs from the week to inspire us for the coming year: new beach stones to be painted, shells collected, post cards written on like a dairy and photographs taken to document all the yumminess. But what I hope to maintain after that week is a commitment to such simplicity in my life. I tend towards clutter of all kinds and our culture encourages this habit. I desperately want to believe I can stick to my resolve to mindfully choose how to spend my time, not slipping into easy routines of television watching or compulsively grasping for the telephone to fill an empty moment. If nothing else, I hope to keep some moments refreshingly empty. And baring that, use time to create, to write, to play and to listen more attentively to whatever my child has to tell me. She usually has the best ideas on how to fully live each moment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ocean Dancers

Ecstatically dancing
Along the ocean’s edge
Lowtide but still
Powerful waves crash into unprepared ankles and shins.
Water numbingly cold,
and paradoxically
Igniting the senses with its intensity,
Forcing us to wake up no matter if we want to
Or not.

We stand our ground upon the sandy shore
While wave upon frothy wave smashes into us.
Celebrating the energy of the ocean
By leaping up to great each wave.
Bubbles of laughter escaping our blue tinged lips
As the waves lap higher and higher upon our bodies.

Summer time at its best.

Each year we have made the migration back
To this beach
My mer-child and I.
Giddy with excitement in the days
Leading up to our arrival.
Fingering stones and shells from adventures past
In preparation for our next journey.

Today it is all
Exactly as it should be.
Sea spray upon our faces,
The strong pull of the waves
Trying to tug us back into the sea.
But we stand firm, hand in hand
Knowing that even if we fall,
The other is there to pull us up.

Another waves lashes seaweed and stones at us.
I flinch from the pain
But it is immediately erased
As I look down upon the wild eyed, grinning face
Of my caramel-skinned
Native beauty.

Each wave
Brings us into this moment.
And this moment.
And this.
Each wave
Consecrating our
Tightly clasped hands.
Blessing us with

Landlocked Mermaids Free at Last!

After a grueling day of traveling (5 hour unexpected layover due to bad weather in Boston, extending our trip from 4 ½ to 10 hours; getting in after midnight with a very tired child into a crazy busy city; a quick puke before she went to bed – yeah THAT kind of travel) we made it.

We are happily ensconced in our getaway Boat House rental. It IS a renovated Boat House right next to a pier that leads picturesquely out into a pond. Sailboats and Boston whalers floating out upon waters tranquil except for the jumping fish and the swan couple that share the waters. It is magical, lovely, quaint … and damp! A minor thing (except when you want dry towels or swimsuits) and we are adaptable people.

We settled quickly into our vacation routine. Dinner on the screened-in porch, listening to the birds and the wind and the water; early bedtime as we are all in one room - Cowgirl stubbornly resisting sleep even though she has been going nonstop all day. She has a bit of a cold, but that hasn’t slowed her down, except to blow her nose. The hubby and I read in bed and how luxurious to have read a book in 2 days! (Alice Hoffman’s The Third Angel – beautifully written and totally engaging.) Morning comes early with the sun screaming in the sliding glass door. We fold up the bed and Cowgirl begins her glut of television shows: Mickey Mouse, Oso, anything PBS and her favorite, Sponge Bob Square pants. A month’s worth of t.v. watching packed into each day. Yeah, we are on vacation.

After a leisurely morning’s breakfast we head out for some exploring, biding our time until Beach time. We brave our way through masses of bodies to find our spot on the sand where we dump our booty of collected beach toys from summers past into a heap for Cowgirl to play. And play we do and then rest until it is time to stagger back to the car and home to clean up and contemplate dinner.

Our first night we ran out to a Chinese restaurant and the way the staff were fawning all over Cowgirl, you would have thought they never see Chinese children here. Each person trying to talk to her in Mandarin, and she parroting what little I’ve learned in 3 semesters of Saturday morning Chinese classes. I have to laugh when she proudly counts to ten and they look so amazed, thinking she remembers her native tongue (she probably knew Cantonese), never suspecting this freckled woman is her tutor!

After dinner we hit the first of many wonderful ice cream establishments here on the Cape. After the Chinese restaurant experience, we were surprised to see another family of 3 daughters adopted from China and an Asian family. So much for Cowgirl’s unique status.

And so each day merges into the next. To post this, I have to climb the many steps from the Boat house to the main house and sit on a top step for reception. Oh the trials of vacation!

Wish you – and you, and you – were here!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Traveling Dream Chair

Vacation has begun ... rough journey, but we are here and we are relaxing and enjoying the time to just be.

Yes, I managed a new poem ... am seeing some favorite themes/words/phrases cropping up again and again ...

My Traveling Dream Chair

Safely Floating,
I rest comfortably upon
cushions stuffed with dried leaves and flowers and downy feathers,
while the smell of lavender and jasmine and cedar and pine
Lulls my senses into reverie.

My dream chair carries me to the shores
of my heart’s unspoken longings.
There I feel the sting of sea spray upon my cheeks
and feel the warmth of
sun light drying the salt upon my skin.

I close my eyes to better hear
the cry of hawks and owls and peacocks,
wolves and elk and elephants
Calling me to venture deeper into the exotic and the wild.

I explore, knowing the safety and security
and comfort of my chair
await me at journey’s end when

I can collapsed back into cushions
Soft as the fuzz of my dog’s furry ruff,
smooth like the skin of my daughter’s cheek.
If I am cold, my chair surrounds me with warm.
If I am warm, it soothes me with the cool of my mother’s hands.

I bury my hands down beneath its cushions
where I find the treasures of previous journeys stored:
Pebbles and shells and the bones of an impossibly small bird;
postcards from times past and treasured found,
Reminders of the Art and Magic that can arise from human hands.

I float in my dream chair and rest.
I know from experience I must wait
Alert, to hear
the voice of my heart’s true self,
the Self that knows
fear and doubt only exist when we believe ourselves
to be too small.
But even the smallest bird
Can travel great distances.

Tenderly, I hold my bird bones, like auguries,
In open hands
And direct
my dream chair
to its next destination.