Friday, December 31, 2010

The Requisite New Year Post

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.
~Anaïs Nin

I borrowed the above quote from my friend Connie and of course from Anais Nin. It really speaks to me this year. I keep thinking I need to take stock of the year, and make plans for the next, and I just can't. Or, I already have; all through the year.
I realize that no amount of blank pages in the new year will change anything in my past. Perspective can change the past though. I can either look back and hurl 2010 out on its back-side, or I can walk humbly each day, one foot in front of the other and thank 2010 for all its hard lessons.
If I put so much pressure on January 1 to be my answer to all things that ailed me in 2010, then how will I feel when I flub for the first time? Which, in my life, will be about 15 minutes after I wake up on January 1. I am fallible. I am human. I say things, do things, don't do will take me no time at all to write something on my blank page that I wish I could erase. There is no eraser. And, if there were an eraser, the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind shows me I don't really want an eraser.
I know of someone who wishes very much there was an eraser for all the horrible things she has done and said, and worst of all written and shared, because someone has shared them publicly. I have thought a lot about her terrible situation, and been so happy that there isn't an accounting of all I have said and done for anyone to see. That said, there actually is a public accounting. It is the character we have that people see. No matter how much we try and veil our actions and thoughts, they show up on our face and in our eyes. So, as I look forward to 2011, I know it's really not a blank page. There is already so much written on my face. It is my prayer that throughout this next year, and all the rest of my life I would write love over and over.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Choosing to backtrack

I needed to get gas on my way home tonight. I like to buy the cheapest gas. At $3 something a gallon, cheap is desirable. There's a cheap station a few blocks in the opposite direction from the way I'd go home, and there's another station almost directly on a possible path home. For some reason, I chose the station in the direct path. Seems reasonable, right?
Here's the thing: the direct path isn't the most direct path. It's just one that doesn't entail any backtracking. It does entail going into the heart of downtown, and navigating through several lights, and lots of traffic. The other station, the one out of my way, is just one right on red away, and then right onto the freeway after I've gassed up. It's really quite simple.
So, why am I even talking about this? Because I wondered, as I was traveling through town at a snail's pace, why I hadn't just gone a few blocks out of my way, to the easier station?
And then, as I am wont to do, I wondered how often I push forward, when perhaps a little backtracking is in order? How often do I get mired in what seems like a straightforward position only to wish I'd gone back, or held back?
Why is there such a stigma, (at least to me) on going backwards? Why is it a bad thing? Why always the pressure to be moving forward?
Perhaps what we sometimes need to hear is, it's okay to backtrack a little. Maybe there are places in our life where with one step back we'll actually move forward a lot more efficiently. I probably would have saved myself 10 minutes had I backtracked to the gas station away from home. Where in my life can I save something as valuable as time by taking a step back?
That's my question for today.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Continuing thoughts on seeing the good

I've been pondering the events of a recent yoga class. There were two women in the front row I'd never seen before. Their behavior was so bad, for a moment, I was transported back to Junior High. Never did I think I would hear a grown women mouthing back to a teacher, "but I wasn't the one who was talking," petulant and defiant, when she was asked to move by the teacher. Mind you, this yoga is quiet, no talking, (certainly no moaning or chanting) and really, no whining. I guess she didn't get the memo.
That said, I was extra peeved when the woman moved across the room and stepped on my towel, where in one hour I would be putting my face. I don't care if you think you are the bees knees, keep your dirty germ boat feet off my towel. It's not that difficult. And the final straw was when I went looking for my boots after class, and discovered she had dropped her stinky, sweaty/wet mat right on top of them. It wasn't personal. It was just more of her inconsiderate behavior.
I was so disgusted, I was tempted to go on a jag about how awful people are. Then I thought about how many people were in the class. Out of about 25 people, only a handful were terrible. As I said in my last post, if we look for the good, we will find it. While I think it's very important to look for the good in people; in this case, I had to stretch it out, and look for the good in the group. It was reassuring to remind myself most of the people next to me in yoga are lovely. Most of our classes pass without incident. Most of the time, I am met with a smile, and a heart felt "how are you?" I love my yoga family. Instead of dwelling on how awful this particular woman's behavior was, and feeling pessimistic about society, I'll reflect on the wonderful people that come and share their (positive) energy.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Finding what You are Looking For

I was on a mission. The truth of a person's character became very important to me. I had at my fingertips this person's own words, shared in supposed anonymity.
It was important to me on one hand to vilify this person, and on another hand, it was important to only deal in the truth, and on the third hand, it was important to me to embrace the possibility this person was actually a very nice likable person. (Who knew I had 3 hands!)
Here's what I found. No one is all good, or all bad. Duh, right?
As I waded through the dialogue, I grew to like this person, and to have compassion on her situation. Isn't that crazy? I set out to prove to myself her character is shady, and instead wanted to give her a hug and tell her it would get better. And the third hand is the reason why. I did find terrible things about this person. My suspicions were confirmed. But, I left myself open to the possibility of her goodness, and I found that too.
Last night at yoga, someone mentioned to me that he needed to stop caring so much about what other people do that irritates him. Here here. I need more of that too. How does the saying go? When I point a finger at someone else there are three pointing back at me. I do believe we need to assess people, and not put ourselves in harm's way. Outside of that, we need to see the goodness in people. Even if they've wronged us, be it a minor irritation or a betrayal, they are not all bad. So, I think if we approach people, looking for their goodness, we will find it. And how much more beautiful the world is when instead of reacting in irritation, we bask in goodness.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


This morning, I woke with a thought in my head to do something I knew in my heart would be rash and ill advised. I knew from a conversation last night, that I ought to wait, and see; but in the early dawn hours when thoughts are more heart and less logic, I thought I could not.
I spent my morning wrestling with this thought. Then came the email alerting me to a new posting of another blog I just yesterday subscribed to. The title: Still Waiting. The words caused my heart to palpitate a little more quickly. I read the blog, and tried to settle into the place of active inactivity. The place of waiting in peace. I thought perhaps it was a message meant just for me.
Then, my phone rang. I had an unexpected conversation with an old friend. The message wasn't just wait; but contrived to make what I so dearly want to do somewhat of a mute point. So, now, I have the message about waiting, and I have the message that what I want to do, I ought not.
And finally, a guilty pleasure, Dr. Who continued the dialogue in my mind. Not the should I wait dialogue, but the synchronicity dialogue. I flicked on the DVD while I ate lunch in hopes of distracting myself. Watching the last episode of the last season, the Doctor refers to his companion as the girl who waited. And like a string of pearls, each thought hugged the next and brought me full circle.
I'm still fighting with whether or not I can or will wait. I'm still struggling with my heart and my head. My goal is to wait in peace.
But I'm marveling at the way God speaks, and laughing that even an episode of Dr Who spoke an affirmation to me about which direction to go. And, I'm still waiting, with open arms and an open heart. And while I wait, I'm grateful that answers come from magical places, and we are expanded in waiting. As a pregnant woman expands and gives birth, waiting sometimes gives birth to life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

single-mindedness is not always best

I've been trying to download some music from my computer onto my iPhone for months now. Every time I try, the syncing process gets to a certain point, and then the iTunes program freezes. On a side note, my computer is a dinosaur, and we are entering an ice age here. I have been so single-minded in my attempt to upload some songs onto my phone, that when the prompt box came up telling me the computer detected a camera, would I like to download the pictures, I found it an irritation, and always hastily closed the box.
Then, something, who knows what, happened. I had to do a system restore on the phone. Something went seriously wrong in my attempt this time. My phone just showed a picture of a usb cord and that was all it would do. I had to drive to the Apple store in the mall, (I detest the mall), and have a hipster kid restore my phone to its original settings. "What does this mean?" I ask the Mac Pro. Everything is going to be wiped, he says. Gone. Pictures, text messages, everything. I nearly cried. There were a few photos that were irreplaceable to me.
I looked around the store in a daze. I coveted the shiny new computers that would have let me upload songs to my phone without this heartache.
As I shared what had happened with a friend, she encouraged me that my photos must be backed up on my computer; and then it hit me. What had been a nuisance to me, would you like to download those photos now, would have saved me my precious photos. If in my haste to get to the thing I wanted at that moment, I had taken a moment to preserve the thing that was even more special to me, I would not have lost it all. Which begs the question: How often do we find the important things in life just an irritation, and quickly shut them down? It's an obvious analogy, isn't it? Yet it hit me like a ton of bricks. There was a simple directive to me, which had I just taken a moment to process, would have saved me some grief. Moreover, I still could have tried to do the thing I really wanted to do. What simple but very important directives am I hastily shutting down, in my impatience to get to the thing I want in that moment? What am I sacrificing in my haste and single-mindedness?
I ruin my whole analogy by sharing this little tid-bit, but, well, who cares, you get my point, right? All was not lost. When I had the courage to plug my phone into the computer again, (at a time when I could shoot down to the Mac store should I need to), I discovered something. I was just plugging the phone in to experiment with downloading the one picture I'd taken in the aftermath. This time, when I saw the prompt asking me what to do, I said by all means, download and save the pictures, and quickly. Then, I found to my surprise that when I synced the phone to the computer again, I got my pictures back. And my text messages. Everything. Phew. Needless to say, I immediately saved the photos in a file on my computer, (that I actually knew how to get to). The other moral of this story is that I am not a computer nerd. Even if I put on a pair of skinny jeans I'm going to look and be lost in a Mac store.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Spring Fever in Autumn

Spring ought to begin taking some lessons from Autumn. Don't get me wrong; I love Spring. Flowers blooming, spring rains, the weather warming up and the earth is about to be abuzz with activity after a long winter's slumber are all lovely things. People get antsy to get out, and supposedly, love is in the air.
Autumn is when I really fall in love though. With my self, that is. Not my ego self, but my Self self. The one who is in need of grace every moment of the day. The one who can't keep one thought without another clamoring for attention. Every activity takes on new life. A cup of tea in the fall is more than just tea, it's a ritual. The light is different, as I gaze out the window, the sun has begun a different dance. She skirts around the earth a little more lightly.
What is it about a chill in the air, a different light and Autumn smells that totally changes my psyche? The world seems like such a beautiful place and I am seated at her table in the fall. Is the Harvest symbolism so ingrained in my psyche that Autumn represents harvesting all that the universe has conspired to teach me throughout the year? Is it that I'm collecting gratefully each thought like a cherry tomato perfectly ripe and bursting with flavor? Are my branches heavy with the fruit of observation and realization?
All I know is, life is beautiful, and when I greet Autumn warmly at the door, I usher in my perfectly ripe self. Don't worry, I don't think I've arrived. I'll slumber through the winter and start all over again next year. Next Autumn, I will be surprised anew at this love affair, and sit in wonder at the fullness of life.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Typewriters and jumbled thoughts

This morning, I read something that made me laugh. It also sent my thoughts churning about something I've already been giving a bit of thought to. I'm reading Writing Down the Bones, a little handbook of creative writing, if you will. The author's intro suggests different mediums for writing, and the possible implications for each. Perhaps a small handy notebook while being convenient will also limit your thoughts. Writing outside the margins on lined paper will perhaps give you freedom. And then, the typewriter. That thing in a museum, that will make your "block black letters reveal a little something else about yourself."
And then, she mentions the "Macintosh." Not the Mac. It is at this point I realize I have just entered a time capsule. She dreams about using a computer, where there is a thing called "wrap-around" and you don't have to hear the ding of the typewriter. Does one get used to the ding of a typewriter? I wouldn't know.
It's all very surreal to me, as this morning's news announced the possibility that the Postal Service will be increasing the price of a stamp by another 2 cents. Soon, a stamp will be 50 cents. Half a dollar. Equivalent to the price of a gallon of gas 30 or 40 years ago. I remember when I used to write letters to my friends and family. I would gather my note paper, and carefully write out my thoughts, as there is no delete button with pen on paper. Now, I know I'm not the first person to wax poetic about this, but I'd send my letter, and then wait. Sometimes only days, sometimes weeks.
I think about what information I brought to a letter. I wasn't writing the Great American Novel, so the letters would contain high-lights of my goings on; just enough information to keep the friendship informed.
Now, we can communicate with 5 different people in 5 minutes. The landscape has very obviously changed entirely. Now, instead of buying a book of stamps for however much they will be, we pay for internet service. Now, instead of addressing a letter, Dear so and so, we share what's on our mind in a newsfeed, or we twitter or tumblr. We both share too much and too carefully craft a persona on line; the me we wish people to see.
I think of all of this in conjunction with writing. A writer needs to practice writing daily. It is not usually, unless you are JK Rowling, something that one just does. Just as an artist sketches, a writer must write just to write, with no real direction. So, I wonder what kind of impact this instant communication has on writers, and readers as well. I can spend hours on the computer following blog trails, and come away feeling like I was really enriched, or as if I'd wasted quality time. I can also sit down and bang out an email full of stories I otherwise may have not communicated via the written word. I wonder if the emails are actually good training for the writer in me, or if they stunt my creativity. I also wonder if our soundbites of information makes us antsy and perpetually moving, when maybe what we need to do is sit and be. Just be.
I obviously do not have the answers today. I know I will be thinking on these things, all the while being grateful there wasn't a single ding in the writing of this blog post, oh, with the exception of the ding of my i-phone informing me I'd just received an email.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Half Moon Pose

We have this pose in Bikram Yoga called the Half Moon Pose. (Ardha Chandrasana) It comes early on in the series. The name is derived from the posture itself, to lean your body in such a way as to look like a half moon. (Duh, right.)
I have had quite a journey with this particular posture. It seemed at one point in time that I had the best half moon, until I realized I was doing it wrong. Now, it's so so. I've had to recalibrate it so many times. Before it was the best, (which it never really was), it was the worst. Seriously, the worst. I began the yoga with a damaged body. I'd jammed my back so many times, I didn't realize I was completely crooked. So, I'd do this posture completely out of alignment. I'd just fold right in half. Hips here, arms there. I was so proud of myself, until I realized, I was the one folding in half. Over and over the teachers say don't fold in half.
Here's where I'm going with all this. The dialogue can be confusing. And it makes me wonder how it applies in life. See, when new students come, they hear lean to the right, and they lean to the right; arms projecting forward, because that's our bodies' natural inclination. Somewhere in the dialogue, the teacher says your body is to look as if it could slip between two panes of glass. But then, to guide the new students who are hunching forward, the teacher says something that seems contradictory, if you are already slipping between two panes; the teacher says to lean back. The problem is, the ones who are meant to hear that don't, and still stand in this weird awkward hunched forward position. On the other hand, there's a whole group who think the direction is for them and wind up in some weird sideways back-bend. Very few hear the instruction to be able to slip between two panes of glass, or if they hear it, leave it at that.
And so I wonder, how often do we follow something, an inclination, an instruction, hearing what is meant for someone else, and wind up in some weird back bend that was never meant to be? Seems like life is like this one single posture. It's a series of recalibration and paradigm shifts. I guess the important thing is to listen and to translate what is important to disregard, and what is important to apply.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

nearly a year...

It doesn't matter that it's been nearly a year since I've written in this blog, as I'm the only one who currently reads it. I am making myself sit and write, as I can't seem to do anything else. As I go through the motions of the day, I sometimes find myself reflecting on how another blogger wrote about a similar thing, and how much more glamorous it seemed in words. I don't think putting into words is going to make dumping the last of my very large bag of frozen beans into a steamer pot just to get rid of them any more glamorous than it already isn't.
I find myself hungry all the time, and I realize, it isn't really a hunger for food. (Though I try very hard to ingest all manner of food and the like to quell said hunger.) Wanting very much to maintain my current pant size for financial as well as vanity reasons, I shove baby carrots in my mouth like a form of second breath.
This has got to stop.
I've been job hunting for far too long, and at times find myself completely paralyzed and unable to read another job posting. I need to revise my resume, but that same hunk of cotton in my head that falsely tells me I'm hungry also tells me I can't. Yesterday, my cousin posted a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." She prompted me to revisit the quote as I begged for motivation to scrub toilets and showers. My response was that I had read the quote earlier, and it inspired me to write a book, go to England to work on a movie and the like.
Now, if I could only apply it to resume tinkering, job scavenging and perhaps just writing a blog post let alone a novel; perhaps then I could do the rest of the things I think I cannot do.
Like, make a difference in the world. Oh yes, big leap here. My said hunger above is not a hunger for food, or even for romantic love; it's a hunger for Love. God love. I don't just mean a warm fuzzy feeling that He loves me; I mean something infinitely greater. I mean His Love that touches all. Sometimes I get frustrated with the amount of navel gazing that goes on in my life, and I perceive to go on in the lives of those around me. Of course we get frustrated in our lives. Sometimes our careers crash and burn, or never get going, the laundry never seems to get done, s/he just doesn't understand me; all things that make you go hmmmm. What if the whole world stopped, and collectively all 6,808,700,000 of us (Wikipedia, 2010) decided to just wallow in our pain and frustration? I kind of instantly saw an image of hell in my mind. What if half that number stopped and held the hand of the other half? It's still kind of a frightening picture to me, because even though it's nice to stop and hold some body's hand, there'd still be 6,808,700,000 people sitting around holding hands.
Where am I going with all this. To be honest, I don't really know. I suppose I am looking for balance. There's always going to be people who honestly need someone to walk with them through a difficult time, whether it be an entire country like Haiti needing help to rebuild after tragedy, or one very old woman alone at a retirement home. My soul hungers to both feed and be fed. Sometimes I really do need someone to hold my hand, even if the hand holding takes the form of a good long laugh at a bar. Other times, I want to be the hand holder; but I think here's where the real hunger lies; I want to hold some body's hand far away, outside my circle of comfort. If His love reaches very nook and cranny of the universe, then I want to be a part of that. I'm not sure how or what that will look like. I suspect it may be related to Dostoevsky's remark "beauty will save the world." Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's nobel lecture in literature begins to make heads or tails of the thoughts whirling in my head. In truth there is beauty, in truth falshoods are exposed. When falsehoods are exposed, they begin to lose their power.
When I see the beauty around me, I am not tricked into falsely believing the lie that the world is ugly. There are ugly things in the world, things we must expose to the truth. The Truth is, His love will save us. Sometimes it will be expressed in the soft light of breaking dawn. Other times it will be expressed in a late night vigil by a hospital bed. Feast on His love seems to be the answer, now where to pull up a chair?