Monday, December 29, 2014

the art of attention

i experience a lot of resistance.  it's that complex but often oversimplified phenomena that looks something like this: i want/need to ______; but i'm going to do everything else that is possible to do on this good green earth of ours and in this good green head of mine to avoid ______.  resistance pops up for me on a pretty regular basis.  i have resistance to doing my work.  i have resistance to exercising and eating nourishing food.  i have resistance to personal accounting and records-keeping. i have resistance to housekeeping.  sometimes i have resistance to taking a shower.

i even experience resistance with activities i love:  yoga, creating, writing, walking with my dogs, cooking, gardening, spending time with friends.  some days it feels like i am resistant to life.  

i have done a good deal of work in the past year becoming more aware of when i am experiencing resistance.  more work is needed to increase my understanding and to start breaking through it in meaningful ways.  this year my friend and master yoga teacher cyndi lee will be helping me address my resistance to yoga through discussions that we will publish in a collaborative series of blog posts.  

i wanted my word for 2015 to reflect my movement through resistance, to be a little anchor for me during this year. what is the opposite of resistance?  how would the antidote to resistance be described in one word?  i went through discipline (too rigid), practice (all i could hear was my mom nagging me to sit down at the piano and do my scales), action (made me want to take a nap), focus (feels like a work word), many renditions of "go with the flow" like fluidity, water, river (these began feeling way too loose than what i'm looking for).  by the way, if you are interested in a peek into my own special brand of resistance, the one i employ hundreds of time throughout the day, reread this paragraph.  it just happens to be overthinking.

sunday at 2:30am, i lay awake with an unusual touch of insomnia.  i wanted to read but didn't want to turn the light on and really didn't want to leave the warm bed.  so i grabbed my kindle. you guys, i even have resistance to my kindle.  good books that are stored on there have been neglected.  i've since abandoned my trial period of electronic reading and returned to the paper book, but i admit that it comes in handy at times like this.  

i turned on my device and navigated my way to the last bookmark i placed back in april:  chapter sixteen of karen maezen miller's hand wash cold.  chapter sixteen is about consistently showing up every day to do the work of our lives, attending to the details and maintenance of our ordinary lives.  

it is about attention.

hello word.

hello 2015.

"attention is the most concrete expression of love.
what we pay attention to thrives.
what we do not pay attention to withers and dies.
what will you pay attention to today?"
-karen maezen miller, hand wash cold: care instructions for an ordinary life

Friday, December 26, 2014

be the soul

a few of my favorite words magically strung together by rumi are, "wherever you stand, be the soul of that place."

this is my fifth year of collecting (the now ubiquitous) foot self-portraits.  this simple practice really does serve a purpose for me.  when i stop what i am doing to document where i am at that moment, my presence and awareness and groundedness intensifies.  the end-of-year collection is also a lovely lookback at some of the places i've stood and some of the moments i want to remember.

twenty-fourteen was made of color, flowers, farm markets, making, forests, new friends, books, dogs, yoga, and tiny adventures.

i'm happy i was here to experience, to be, the soul of it all.

more of the same please in 2015.  and these feet, they need to touch sand washed by the ocean called pacific.  they long to stand upon the motherland and be the soul with her sunsets and her tide pools and her fog and her wildflowers.  there is a clear call to be with my own history.

see previous years here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

sunday grace

though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light.
i have loved the stars too fondly
to ever be fearful of the night.
~sarah williams, the old astronomer

on this winter solstice, wishing you just enough darkness to see the stars
and perfect light to illuminate your beautiful life.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

sunday grace

"stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery.
be a warrior for love."
-cheryl strayed, tiny beautiful things

it's 6:30 on sunday morning.  already today i have been led to the edge of judgement and preachiness by a barista who had the annoying ability to be boop-boop-be-doo adorable (cue twirling pinkie in cheek and babydoll eyes looking coyly to an unseen object in the upper left corner of the room) and completely dismissive at the same time.

my impulse was to lay her out, tell her what was what in the big girl world of you-are-being-paid-to-exercise-that-thing-called-customer-service and you cannot treat customers (or fellow human beings) like this, in a way that i feel frighteningly entitled to do.  i wanted so badly to teach her a lesson she would never forget.

this is my automatic pilot when situations are uncomfortable for me:  to wield my sardonic i-know-better weapon, fully loaded with words that will pierce you, hot and quick.

instead, recognizing that the stunned moment we experience in the face of unexpected rudeness is the moment of choice rather than the moment to rally the troops, i take a breath and choose to let it go.  i feel the wash of empathy for all the experiences she will have that will repeatedly nudge her to do the work of her life and relief that this is not my responsibility or privilege.

thank you for the practice, adorable barista.  thank you for the lesson i will never forget.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

a week in color {№16}

honestly, it's been a few weeks of color capturing, but still.    i'm loving all the green and gold with flashes of pink that are happening in my life.

my friend jessica collected and sent me some beautiful guinea feathers from her father's farm in texas. they were promptly placed in kwan yin's winter crown.

i love when shops veer away from those bright red plasticvelvet bows, which i have never understood, and toward beauty.  christmas doesn't have to be red and green.

speaking of veering:  my market had peonies the other day.  it was totally environmentally irresponsible of me, because they had to have traveled all the way from the southern hemisphere, but i could not help myself.

i am totally addicted to european hot sipping chocolate (think rich hot cocoa with a near-pudding consistency).  i made my own the other day, infused the cream with cardamom, and it turned out quite lovely.

even though my wrapping paper collection is rivaling the mason jars as the primary evidence in my involuntary commitment hearing, we decided to use up all those old new york times arts sections to wrap christmas gifts this year.  tied up with a simple gold curling ribbon.

the influence of saturday night fever on my early artistic eye is showing; it's all being painted gold.

stay gold loves.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

sunday grace

bedecking the house is my favorite part of december.  when i was a child, we would pick out a tree and dad would pull down the christmas decorations from the rafters in the garage during the week of my birthday.  it always felt like these activities were meant especially for me.  when we were finished i was overwhelmed by the beauty of the house and there were stirrings of things to come when i would wonder, why can't the house always be this festive?

it's no wonder i feel spiritually connected to illumination and the scent of the forest.

over here the tree is up and lit and holds one hundred vintage shiny brites.  kwan yin has been goldened and festooned with balsam fir and stars and bells and feathers.  there are tiny christmas altars scattered about.  the spirit and lightness is incredibly grounding.

there is deep gratitude for this sense of comfort and warmth and ease.  that there is no need for vigilance or over-preparing or making things busy brings unparalleled permission to rest with both eyes shut.  i am once again reminded that beauty and faith exist in the everyday, in the ordinary.

grace softly scents the entire house.

"grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them
through all eternity and never come up empty.  it's when you finally realize that the other shoe isn't going to drop, ever."

-shauna niequist, bittersweet:  thoughts on change, grace and learning the hard way