Tuesday, April 30, 2013

seeking graceland

Lest I forget (which indeed I am prone to doing in this twilight phase that is perimenopause) right off the bat I want to thank all who have passed on words of support and encouragement to me regarding my flight into freedom decision to quit my day job.  While I every fiber of my being knows it is the right choice at the right time, there still are some woefully old-fashioned gremlins of doubt and doom popping up.  I keep thinking of whack-a-mole (horrible game passing as amusement for children!) My fortune may be made in whack-a-gremlin which I am getting pretty good at these days.

I certainly floated through last week feeling stoned.  Must be the disorientation of life without frustration or apathy bearing down upon me.  Colleagues have confided in me that they too would leave - if only they could.  

If I had any doubts about my decision, that all changed on Friday when I received the shocking and unexpected news that a dear friend, a teacher, mentor and fairy godmother to Cowgirl had passed away.  She was only in her early sixties and had taught classes on nutrition, herbs, yoga, meditation and all things geared towards immaculate well-being. The loss to my community is immense; it is equivalent to hearing "Elvis has left the building."  That she passed on the evening of the full moon - THE full moon with lunar eclipse and all kinds of cosmic and personal upheavel/shifts -  makes total sense.  She would be the person to grab a seat on the bullet train into a new dimension, no question about it.

her spiritual name is Kadambari which means "Intoxicated with Love"
This was the first time Cowgirl met her fairy godmother and the love was instantaneous. My friend was not surprised "Oh, we knew each other before."  Indeed, we all had.

Her passing was a reminder not to put off doing those things that pique my curiosity and not to waste time squabbling with one's gremlins and internal nay-sayers.  I had a meeting scheduled with her to discuss ideas for classes I wanted to offer at her wellness center.  She had new programs coming up and I was thinking maybe now I would have the time to take them.  Well, there wasn't time.  

So her greatest gift to me may very well be this reminder to make time for that which matters and not squander my time and attention on matters that ultimately are inconsequential.  She could be frank and blunt at times and she often counseled "The opportunity is now and if you don't grab it, it will be gone."  This in reference to opportunities for inner work, growth, understanding and healing.  If she could say anything right now, I believe she would say "It's time to grow up."  Indeed, our planet, our societies need us all to grow up, take responsibility and take care of ourselves and each other.

I don't know if I am still in free fall or have landed on strange, new ground.  But I feel a certainty within that is rather shocking given my tendency to think and rethink and map out every little thing in an attempt to understand all the angles. As a friend said to me "You leapt, but you considered it very closely."  Indeed, I looked over that edge, calculating the distance between me and the ground for a long, long time.  

I  know in my heart that I am on my path and in addition to leaving my job, I've left behind second-guessing myself and my abilities.  That is something my sister/friend always pointed out to me: I did not understand my true light, my true gifts.  I still may not know how best to share myself, but I know what I have to offer. The breadcrumb trail is there and I have no qualms about following it to wherever it will lead me.  

Meanwhile, I am all aflutter as I finish up my last week (!) on the job and prepare for a big adventure my first day of freedom.  I am traveling to New Zealand to soak up the radiance of this wonder woman and as it now turns out, to heal and nurture my self.  For some reason, travel always provokes the desire to tie up loose ends, tackling tasks that I've blissfully ignored for months but which now seem oddly pressing.  My other travel  obsession centers upon packing; somehow it becomes imperative to bring the right shoes and jewelry and books (and coats and art supplies and knitting materials.)  Checking out my favorite linen pants to make sure they don't have butt wear (am I the only one who experiences this?  The bottoms of well-loved linen pants become a transparent gauze from what?  Butt friction?  Kundalini energy smoldering?)

As I look to support myself through all these changes, I am grateful for the tools I have gathered: painting, reiki, meditation, dear friends who I can trust to receive my words, hold space for the overflow of feelings and thoughts.  My family and the daily practices that root us - bedtime stories, cuddles, and whispers for sweet dreams. 

Music and poetry provide more voices counseling and reassuring me.   I keep hearing Paul Simon singing "Losing love is like a window on your heart ... everybody sees you're blown apart ... everybody sees the wind blow ..."

I'm bound for graceland and I promise to take pictures and share what I discover on the way.

Jai Bhagwan - victory to the light within us all. Go gently sister Moon ... we'll meet again ...  this I know with my whole heart.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

free fallin'

The leap has been made ...

and I'm trusting there will either be a net or soft ground to catch me ...



New beginning (beginning yet again) and allowing the wings of Santosha (contentment; embracing life as is) and Surrender (bowing to life) to carry me to deeper into new territory ...

All of which is to say: I am choosing to live MY life and I accept full responsibility for my choices, for that duty.


Now, the real fun (and play) begins!


Translation: On Monday I gave my 2 weeks notice to my job.  After 13 years (egads - that's the span of a child moving from Kindergarten through high school -  how did that happen?) it was well past time to move on. And moving, I am!


Friday, April 19, 2013

friday pause (now I SEE)

Finally got around to having my eyes examined (it's been about 13 years!)

I have glasses for reading now (along with glasses that I never wear for night driving) ... guess I am ready to really SEE things clearly ... 

in mid leap my friends.  trusting that net thingy to manifest. eyes and heart open. can't get these lyrics out of my head "It's my life, it's now or never ..."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the fantasy of before

Just the other week I was rocked by a massive A-ha courtesy of an A-ha maker extraordinaire, Brené Brown.  If you haven't done so already, do check out Dr. Brown's 2-part interview with Oprah on the show Super Soul Sunday.  What rocked me was the suggestion that the fear we experienced as a country after September 11 has been internalized and experienced individually in terms of feeling "not enough."  Not good enough, not safe enough, not capable enough.  And not enough to go around - scarcity thinking.

I have been sitting uncomfortably upon the fence of being in a job that does not fulfill me but which offers a modicum of financial security and certainty.  Of course, any sense of security is really smoke and mirrors as nothing is certain or constant or totally predictable.  But I've sat there for months years because I've been afraid.  Afraid there aren't any decent jobs out there, afraid no one will want me because my skill set is out-dated, afraid of what the future might hold and how the resources I will certainly be dipping into might be needed further down the road.  If I let myself go there (down the dark hallways of my mind) there are any number of bogeymen lying in wait for me.  

Rather than envisioning unimagined possibilities and adventures, my first thought when contemplating quitting my job is of a wasteland bereft of opportunity.  

Scarcity and fear.  I don't know of anyone who is free of those shackles.  In the wake of Boston, it is hard not to lock the doors, draw the blinds and be very still.  Make no waves, draw no attention to oneself and by all means, don't tempt fate, don't take chances. 

But isn't that the essence of life - taking chances?  I think about the millions of seemingly random acts, thoughts and decisions that resulted in my being married to my best friend for 25 years; being mother to my dragon warrior daughter;  friends with women who are my sisters, my tribe; and the random online links like bread crumb trails leading me to connect with teachers, mentors and friends all of whom have watered my soul and allowed the authentic me to emerge.  

I don't want be living my life in a tight ball of fear.  I don't see a finish line that I must cross to be safe and complete.  I most certainly do not want Cowgirl to grow up clinging to fear and scarcity because possibility and opportunity appear to be extinct.  The greatest gift I can give my girl is an example of choosing to believe in oneself, to believe in the goodness of Life and Love.  The world has always been a scary, dangerous and threatening place.  That is life.  It is a precious gift and one to be used, not tucked away bubble wrapped and locked inside a box.  

And now I laugh because everything I am saying here can be summed up by the movie "The Croods."  I don't want to be like the father Grug whose mission is to keep his family safe in their cave, even if that means spending 23 hours a day in darkness.  The message the loving father repeatedly shares with his children through stories and warnings is this: anything new is bad and being curious will get you killed. The end, go to sleep.

If I listen to the news, follow the chatter of the masses, believe the Grugs of the world, I can convince myself the world now is more dangerous and uncertain than ever before. But I know there has never been a golden age when life was safe or simple. There never was a time "before" fear.  Fear is a part of being alive.  It serves a useful purpose but it isn't real.  It is a projection into the future of one possibility, but one among many.  Among the other possibilities are our hopes, dreams, and aspirations. 

Fear also signals an important threshold is about to be crossed.  Once through, there is no going back.  Transitions are inherently dangerous, but almost always transformative. Trying to stay safe is impossible and it forestalls any possibility of growth. By trying to shelter my girl, I send her the message  that she is not capable or equipped to navigate life.  That she must hide and stay behind a line of safety that is like a chalk mark upon the pavement. Don't be too curious. Don't dare.  Stay small, stay safe.

Except complete safety and certainty do not exist and life has a way of washing out our chalk marks, leaving us naked and exposed.  Sitting on the fence is another form of exposure.  From my vantage point I can see where I want to go and I can see how I have been living behind that fence, in confinement.  The only thing I can do is jump off on the side of uncertainty which is also the side where real living takes place.

Feet in the air ... I'm in mid-jump.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

how i get sh*t done

Most of the time, I am too painfully aware of all the to-do "things to remember" lists cluttering notebooks, spilling over post-it notes stuck to post-it notes.  I embrace being   "multi-passionate" which means I have lots of ideas and projects in various stages of incompleteness.

Occasionally, I do pull the lens wide and take in all that has manifested in the course of a season or year and I admit, I am pretty good at getting shit done.

This past winter I knit: a sweater for Cowgirl, 4 pairs of wrist warmers, a cowl and a shawl.  I stamped and sewed 20 (?) sets of prayer flags and got out close to a hundred holiday cards (that I designed myself and had made into a postcard).  More recently, I've sewn letter satchels (3) and some embroidered lavender sachets.  I'm learning embroider right now and have another piece waiting for me to start.  

I finished up a 365 photo a-day project last December and am participating in a new 30 day group.  And - almost forgot! - I ran 2 e-courses, was a contributor to another course while managing to blog at least once a week (while also contributing a few pieces to other sites.)

I don't mean to toot my own horn; rather, I want to point out that my normal soundtrack is why can't I get anything done?

The Husband (who never reads this blog and has little idea of what transpires between breakfast and dinner) might agree.  Or rather, he would plead why can't you get control over the clutter?!

unusual scene in that the kitchen island is oddly clear - not the norm!


Yes, well ... clutter, chaos, big bang and voilá: creation!  (Some might say voilá: shit done!)

i ordered this album a year ago and then it sat empty. when the boxes of polaroids became so unwieldy that i could not close the drawer where I had stashed them all (our of sight, out of mind), i knew it was time to tackle this project.


So here's my secret strategy for completing things: I begin and then, I just do them.

I know, sorry.  No slick trick, no self-hypnosis, no magic mantra or organizational voodoo secret.  If I want to get something done, I finally decide to begin and I roll up my sleeves and do it.

Okay, here is a little something you may not have figured out yet: not doing things takes up an enormous amount of energy.  More accurately, it can be an energy drain.  When there is something nipping at the edges of my awareness, disregarding it takes energy.  So does making up excuses or beating myself up with negative talk.  Now, starting after some avoidance takes an equally enormous energy surge, but here's the payoff: once I push past the inertia, the energy that had gone to not-doing is now available to help me do the work.  And magically, when I finish a project, there is a surge of new energy rushing in to fill the vacuum.  I complete the task with more energy than when I started! 

The other thing that has happened since I've become aware of this energy exchange is that it frees me up from guilt and anxiety.  Somehow I just know - from experience and paying attention - that I will dive in or cycle back to whatever projects await my tending in right time. I know, that sounds a bit zen - right action, right intention. But that is how it feels. When I follow my energy (what calls to me, what would feed me or free me energetically) I fully commit to what I am doing and no longer need to look over my shoulder at the pile waiting for me.  I've come to understand I have cycles and rhythms and I trust I will move through whatever it is I need to do to experience growth and stay connected creatively with life. 

I am thinking this is some kind of universal law of energy.  I could be wrong, it could just be me, but I challenge you to test out my hypothesis and see for yourself what happens. At the very least, you will have made headway in some project and will be justified in taking a well-earn break.  But maybe, just maybe, you will find yourself getting shit done! 

And you know, the best gardens  (which is what creative action feels like to me) thrive on soil fortified with loads of manure. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Which girl?

We had a lovely taste of Spring last weekend.  I say "taste" because there is a chance of snow mixed with rain for tonight's forecast!  So we are snuggled back inside once again.

But last weekend, it was glorious.

The Husband tackled our many rose bushes pruning away last year's growth.  It amazes me that so much is cut back and yet by season's end the bushes will again look wild and unruly as they bust out of their beds.  For me, pruning is difficult; I tend to hang on, not believing new growth is always so inevitable.  But then I look at my girl and see how she keeps pushing past boundaries and growing in ways I find I shake my head to perceive. 

For example, our morning routine has been for me to read the "silly stories" (the comics) to her during breakfast.  One morning she grabbed the page and started reading out loud to me and the Husband the strips with less text.  Just this past week, she read the page to herself and passed it over to me when she was finished.  New growth and goodbye morning ritual!

This past weekend, Cowgirl spent the entire time outdoors searching for birds.  I first noticed her sitting quietly on the patio.  Just sitting. Very still.  Behavior unusual for a child born in the year of the Monkey.  She had her disposable camera in hand and was waiting patiently for a bird to appear at the feeder.  I couldn't resist: I grabbed my camera and we sat together, back to back, in the warm sunshine listening to the chatter of the robins, a distant chirp of some cardinals and the twittering of many juncos.  They flew back and forth past us, heading from feeder to feeder, never pausing long enough for a good picture - which didn't deter Cowgirl from taking lots of pictures!

Later, I watched my girl streaking across the lawn, heading for the neighbor's yard in search of the cardinal couple.  It seemed like she flew like a chickadee herself - pigtails streaming out behind her, camera clutched in her hands, barefoot and free.  She was a girl with a mission, diving into her world and all the treasures it has to offer.  She seemed so independent of me and her father and I had glimpse of our future when adventures would entice her even further afield and away from our watchful gaze.

I see my girl and I my heart swells with admiration and wonder for this gift we have been given.  I know she is what inspires me to dig deep and recover my wild, free, expansive self.  I like to believe I am brave because of her; my love for her and my hopes and wishes for her propel me into action, push me to step out of my comfort zone and lean into the fear that mask dreams and ambitions.  It is a thin veil and increasingly I am daring  to grab a corner and tug.  

My daughter has inspired me to take control of my life, reconnecting with the aspirations I held as a girl. I see her and I remember who I was and who I was excited to become.  But that isn't the full story.  As I move through a deepening relationship with myself, I am wondering which girl inspires me more:  My daughter? Or the girl I still carry deep within memory and heart?

This month I've been participating in Liz Lamoreux's Water Your Soul offering which centers around the practice of daily meditation before a mirror.  It is a humbling, frightening, and powerful practice.  Many days it is all I can do to be kind towards the face that meets me.  Those lines that echo my father's stir up some pretty negative dialogue.  The tired eyes reproach me for neglecting myself but they also stir up compassion for all that they have witnessed and survived.  Softening towards ourselves is something Liz repeatedly reminds us to practice.  Welcoming the me that I am involves remembering the little girl me I once was. 

Today I looked in the mirror and I saw the young girl I was/still am peeking out from these older eyes.  I felt great love and compassion for that girl, a tenderness for the fears she too quickly embodied and in that moment, I offered her acknowledgment, comfort and gratitude.  And then something rather marvelous happened:  as I reached out to her, I understood she has been quietly exhorting me to  be brave and dare to grab hold of my dreams.  I realize she has held onto the whispered truths of my heart and she has guarded my hopes and desires.  She is with me always, reminding me I am the one to carry us forward and into light, into action.

While I have been holding back out of fear, she has been the one holding tight to hope and possibility.  

Isn't that amazing?  I have two girls reminding me to run wild and free, to run with arms wide open into a future that I co-create with this crazy partner called life.

I've been planting many seeds for future projects in my community and online, pushing to put myself out there as a teacher, as an artist, as a space-holder for others to reconnect with their inner guide to their heart's dreams.  It is both daunting and exhilarating to see signs of growth sprouting.  Still too early to say what will flourish ... so for now, I am playing the gardener, tending my home soil.  ♥

Friday, April 5, 2013

* my friday pause *

Dusting off the polaroid SX-70, getting back into the habit ...

What are you re-discovering this season?
 xo Lis, Cowgirl & Moose

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

it's all about practice (and never being perfect!)

I swear the first warm day and I am bustin' out of the stall like a young colt ready for wider pastures!

Are you feeling this energy surge?  

Even though I have learned from this wise woman the value of cycles of hibernation and rest balanced with action and engagement, I was beginning to feel like a neglected houseplant deprived of sunlight and water.  Wilted on the edges, roots tenuously hanging on to crusty dirt.  Winter is my knitting/sewing/needlework season.  I think the repetitive actions mesh with the more meditative mood of the season.  It's like I am marking time one stitch at a time.  A colorful mantra of "I am ... I am ... I am  ..."  

But there comes a point when I shake off the trance and look around, wondering "what happened?"  Few photographs and even fewer paintings emerge when I'm in my cocoon. Little writing except for the bits I squeeze out here.  Some effort towards letters and cards - my mission to keep the postal system afloat still high up on my list -  but also somewhat neglected.

I could feel dismay at all that seems to have lapsed from my life, but I've learned it is part of the cycle.  In yoga one lesson is that there will be loss of ground gained, setbacks, illness or injury.  It is all part of the process, part of life.  It's as if the challenge of starting anew infuses new and powerful energy into the process.  I feel excited to be embarking on new projects  which, in truth, are old projects revisited.  It is always about practice for me and I have to keep in mind that what matters is not the specifics of the practice, but the process of committing; choosing to show up and doing so with alert eyes, ears and heart. 

part of my 30 day photo challenge - day six: 2:30 pm

I've been revisiting blogs I've loved in the past and adding new ones to a list of "spaces that nourish and inspire me."  I am pretty old fashioned and have never used a reader (not even sure what it means or does!) so my process is hunt and peck and remember blog addresses (thank goodness my laptop remembers!) I am flexing my techy muscles and may just learn some new skills to streamline my system!  But I like browsing the stacks the library and tend to do the same on line.  Anyway, I am visiting those writers and photographers who get my juices flowing.  I am feeling the words loosening in this Spring thaw.

I've joined a 30 day photo course with Catherine Just and am remembering how much I love the pauses that such a practice invites into my day.  A daily photo practice also sharpens my eye, helping me to polish and improve skills that have gotten flabby.  Rather than despair, I am enjoying this creative workout. I think that is the key for me: enjoying the experience of exercising my creative muscles and feeling strength and ease returning as I work.

day three: 2:45 pm

Work, which is really play ... which is really healing and the experiencing of knowing myself whole, happy and alive.

day two: 11:30 am

What is awakening for you this Spring?  Let's tend to our gardens together, finding community and support in sharing our practices. I'll water your plot of ground should you need a little break; I trust you will help me tend to my overrun bed of wildflowers and flowering weeds.  

day five: 5:30 pm

I share a few more thoughts on the transformative experience of creativity here on  Jess Greene's space Seek Your Course.  Do drop by and say "Hi!" And if you are needing to strengthen your techy muscles, Jess has created a whole slew of programs to support creatives utilizing free applications such as Evernote and Trello to help us organize the chaos that creative inspiration invokes.  I'm signed up and excited for these tools!