Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Quarters, crumpled receipts, and blackened croutons smoothly cascaded from the dust pan into a black garbage-lined bin. Clutter is the problem. Instinctively, I shook and interchanged the room’s two rugs, re-positioned an old camera and sprayed three pumps of a designer perfume. Before turning to leave, I made imaginary check marks over areas to be cleaned later.

I need to relax. With a laptop settled into my stomach I tethered one ankle around its mate, and allowed the morning's thoughts to wash over me.

Am I a “good enough” writer?  

Is my writing boring?

Does what I do matter?

You know, the usual super deep unanswerables. Deep in my thoughts, I felt an unease sweep over my body, when I replayed a comment from a customer at work.

“Finally. Your hair's getting longer. Much better. Women with short hair aren’t feminine.”

Until his comment I'd forgotten that I was a woman, and was unaware that femininity was something I could lose. But then again, I reminded myself, there will always be comments about what is and is not expected of a woman.

"A woman buying a house on her own?"

"A woman going on a road trip alone? You'll need someone to protect you."

"Shave your head? But, you're a woman!"

Yes, I am a woman. And yes, unfortunately, I care about what you think.

* * * * *

I am 360 days without a drink of alcohol. And, I realize today, Mother's Day, is a trigger for me. I know how important writing, gardening, or photography is when I feel shaky, as I do now, so writing it is. I think the mental challenge helps ground me. It forces me to mold the abstract into words, into paragraphs, that play into a story that (hopefully) ties into the bigger picture.

Over half my life ago my Mom used to sing to me. It wasn't very often, but when she did, I clung to each and every word. She'd sing You Are My Sunshine

In an almost whispery melody she'd sing a verse followed by the chorus, then a verse followed by the chorus. She sit on the edge of my bed and with her warm hand stroke my hair and sing.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." She'd pause, look at me and then continue.

"The other night dear, while I lay sleeping. I dreamt I held you in my arms. When I woke up, I'd mistaken. Then I hung my head and I cried."

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."

I thought about going to visit the cemetery today but I knew it'd depress me. So, instead I went for a drive. I stopped at a local nursery to pick flowers up for my yard and upon entering the store the Mother's Day buzz was all around me. A young woman's hand was held to her hip, while her other hand held the handle of a cart full of flowers. She waited for an answer from a woman who looked like an older version of herself. She didn't receive a response and I imagined her to be frustrated. I told myself that maybe it was better for me this way; my mom's and my relationship although non-existent, still could exist in whatever form my mind chose. So, with my imagination I painted a land for just the two of us...

(Today my Mom and I danced in the street. We kicked our feet up to our sides, watching to see who could be more silly. We sipped mochas at a coffeeshop and we giggled about love. I watched her eyes light up when she spotted a newborn baby. With our toes we etched hearts in the sand. When we parted I hugged her tight and told her that this was the best day, ever. She told me, "Me too. Say, why don't we do it again next year.")

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inspiration or Obligation...

Isn't it interesting how we take on other people's anxiety as our own? I had an experience recently where a friend planned on moving in with her boyfriend. She showed me a building where her cats were going to stay, separate from her boyfriend's house. I instantly felt negative about her move, as her cats were a big part of her life and their living outside was not something I thought she wanted. When I shared my concern with her she smiled and explained that I must have been picking up on her anxiety about the move. She explained it wasn't her boyfriend that was against the cats being in the house (he actually looked forward to their addition), it was that she was anxious about inhabiting his space.

We behave in ways that we believe will make other people feel better, but in doing so we jeopardize our own well-being. Taking action from a state of inspiration rather than from a place of obligation is makes all the difference between living an authentic versus insincere life.

Give only when it feels good to do so. 

If taking action feels good - do it - and if it doesn't, wait. The inspiration to act will come at just the time, at just the right moment. When you give when it feels inspiring to do so, you will flow seamlessly with the stream of life, or closer to do so anyway. It seems inspiration hasn't quite hit me yet, so I guess I'll take my own advice and wait...    

A Walk in the Woods

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Song Speaks...

Soon-to-be tomato
I've been waking up way too early lately and I like it. It's a time and space for me only. I don't have to answer to anyone, or be anything I don't want to be. I just get to be. It's a long, deep inhale and exhale where I oxygenate my soul.
My favorite and latest emergence.

Also, I've noticed songs playing in my head. Sometimes they are quiet and barely audible, and sometimes, like yesterday morning, a song will overtake me, make me to stop what I'm doing, and ask me to find the meaning it holds, which at that time was "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. After I wrote the lyrics on a white board, I took a step back and read them aloud. It was surprising how spot on they were with what I needed in that moment; reassurance.  
This morning's song was Salt-N-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex." Its rhythmic cadence transported me back in time to the backseat of my friend's mom's convertible. With the top down and wind blowing through my hair, I sang the risque lyrics at the top of my lungs, something I would have never been allowed to do in my parent's presence. This moment, unknown to me at the time, was a a pivotal one. I now see it as a step towards breaking protective cocoon of childhood and replacing it with the uncertainty of adolescence. And all that from a song.   

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gardening as Art...

Green, for now

There is such a delicacy to a garden when it's first planted. Cats, not only my three but the neighborhood felines as well, deposit their goods and uproot my tender seeds leaving them defenseless and lifeless.

The pea at right has made it past imminent danger and grips tightly to its metal post, and to my delight has upped its chances of survival, despite my youngest and most violent kitty lurking in the background.

At times any cat, mole, insect or crazed weather pattern overwhelms me to the point I consider fencing, netting, and/or insect repellent to keep my dear ones safe. But when I sit and look at my fear objectively I realize the problem has little to do with my garden and more to do with a desire to control the uncontrollable.

My garden also reflects an unconscious need for success, not that that's a bad thing, but when that need makes the experience stressful and the gardening  process takes on a less than enjoyable tone, I take notice.

Whether you're a parent raising a child, an artist painting a piece, or a creator envisioning a dream, any project at some point, to some degree takes on a life of its own between preparation, maintenance, and tending to. Its failure or success, despite what you may or may not do, is out of your hands. The balance between control and letting go is a fine one, but when you find it the art of living is at your fingertips.

Enjoy the view...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

If Only For a Moment..

The greatest thing we can do at any given moment is to let go. To let go and allow the things before us to be just as they are. To allow spilled milk to merely be a liquid on a surface, nothing more. If only for a moment, rip up your mental to-do list because this moment is not for learning or for doing or for planning, it is solely for you.  Sit back and breathe a deep breath in, and observe what's in front of you. Connect to who you are, and give yourself a break, if only for a moment, from the details of your life.

There is a deep satisfaction when you say to yourself: enough is enough, I choose to flow with the stream of life, and want to feel, if only for a moment, the exhilaration and freedom of allowing that stream to take me where it will. This moment isn't about what's right or wrong; it's about my knowing I'm doing the best that I can, and if only for this moment, may I accept it for what it is so that I may truly embody peace.   

Thursday, April 3, 2014

En Route...

As it sometimes happens, I was seated next to an especially chatty man on my flight from Seattle to Salt Lake City. At the end of the flight he leans over and asks me if he had talked my ear off. I shook my head no, even though technically he had, as I secretly enjoyed the craziness of his life story. For starters, I learned he was a Mormon missionary in Chile during a hostile political coup in 1972. He saw trucks full of dead bodies and even participated in a revolt. One of his daughters was kidnapped, while another daughter had beaten Lymphoma cancer and she, along with the rest of her siblings - four sisters and one brother - ran a marathon in Ireland which raised $26,000 to aid in fighting the disease. Once the plane landed and we parted ways, he turned to me and said, "You come visit me and my wife in southern Utah now! I know ya'd like her. She talks to trees and reads books just like you." We laughed and resumed our diverging destinations.

I'm currently in the middle of a three hour layover. A young woman with long iron curled hair, a buckskinleather jacket and high heels is sitting next to me. She is fumbling through her bag, uttering words of frustration in a manner and volume that suggests an invitation to curious enough onlookers to engage her in conversation. My hunch was confirmed when my simply looking in her direction was all the opening she needed in order to share the following unsolicited information with me. She explains how she failed to bring the correct charging cord, and that one of her nails, "which I just got done yesterday," chipped. I reply, "Wow. Sounds pretty rough?" in an attempt diffuse her razzed state. Instead, she pauses, fixes me with a curious, sideways look, not dissimilar from an excitedly attentive though unsure dog, and says, "Yeah, it's because of manicurist incompetence."