Archive | February, 2014

the others…

28 Feb


Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”  — Timothy Leary

When I came across this quote a few days ago, something about it struck me and caused the words to linger with me through my days.   More and more I find myself taking chances on conversations, and while connections are not always made, I’m often glad I made the effort to stay open.   I am also amazed by how often the normal moment  blossoms into something wholly (holy) unexpected.  There are some excellent folks showing up.  Life brings these moments to our doorstep to experience the real – BEing there and allowing unfolds happenings of connectedness.

Blessings on your heads – all my stranger friends – my others.


it is a shame

22 Feb

in a heap

The sidewalk opens up,

you wouldn’t believe,

in the most pedestrian of moments;

a swirling confusion

with a gravity all its own

pulls on me as I am

trying to be a human,

forcing myself out of the bedroom,

imagining as if all of this is real.

When I buy into

this body, I am

winking and nudging

unwilling partners – and blushing

from the effort.

My rush for acceptance has me

shuffling off to buffalo

into the orchestra pit,

landing on the violin player

who is Asian,

and svelte,

and oh, so condescending.

Get off, I imagine.

I can’t hide enough

to feel any better –

(the reel still plays within),

but what else are we

to do when

longing stirs

– stuff it down?

That makes me hungry

for dark, espresso cake.

Should I seek a dark corner to nurse

the shame it brings to try?

Am I to step up and play it all out?

I am naked in the park –

a soft and sad animal,

toenails unpainted,

goose pimply and white fleshed –

walk by me with mild

disgust, you.

Yet years of trying to move with

the padded safety gear of

saying scripted words,

doing rote and right motions,

hiding silly mind twists behind a polite smile –

all this does me in

as well –

that is a

calloused clawing crawl

into every night’s dark pit.

I am tired of this divide

I am tired of desire and

splatting falls.

I yearn to be the perfect package

of gleaming rightness.

Who feels the sting of not being that?

Who longs and loathes?

Who stares for hours

into space,

trying to see

the finish line?

radical perfection

21 Feb

No need to take your shoes off for

the temple in my head for

you cannot sully

what I see:

the in and the out,

the hard and the soft,

the clean and the dirty –

who sees the distinction?

Answer that question !

Who sits on the cusp between

this and that,

seeing a difference?

Seems once I see that

line judge,

up on her high chair,

the boundaries

disassemble into their

blurred perfection;

every orb is one whole thing,

no dark side of my moon.

my deadbeat dad

21 Feb


he stumpled upon

the gardens sprung –

whole universes

spilling out.

He watched them grow

from his high spot

until he fell asleep.

When he awoke,

there was a dream

that he almost remembered

that seemed to say,

HE was the one

who made it all this way;

even though, he had found it

already cooking along.

Then HE

told it, this world,

have at it, you kids and

HE hid away all of the keys.

Then HE threw up some

plastic that mimicked the truth

and buried it

below the dust.

HE paid for a book

in which HE was the star,

wooed the corrupt

(taped to view later);

HE paid off the guard, and

confused nimble spirits


HE got him a numbers’ guy,

taught him some Ponzi and

together they

printed some sums

on downed trees.

They took the cash down and

passed it around

for all the slippery bros.

They fingered some puppets

and boom boxed some tunes, and

Punch and Judy’ed us all in the gut.

Oh dad, you’re not my dad.

Mother ought lock

you in the closet.

We’re feeling so sad.

But cry not for  long, for the secret is close –

and the tree has both riddle and salve.

We were only playing

at sleep, but we missed the alarm, and

the dream was so real, we were lost.

my attendance policy

13 Feb

be here

Your attendance in this class counts for 10% of your final grade:  but some may say, showing up accounts for all of it.

You don’t have to be clever.  You don’t have to do anything but show up.

All the posturing, the scripting, the worry, the judgement, the hierarchal shuffling in your head right now – poppycock = what will flow naturally through you when you just show up fully present is beyond your perceived capabilities – and you cannot prepare ahead for it.

When I say attendance and class participation count for 10% of the grade, I add that showing up to class is not just coming to class.  The people who need to hear this might not get it and the people who show up, show up; they don’t need the reminder.  But I say this now to you anyway:  show up.

I know how hard it can be.  There are some places for me that are harder to show up than others.  I do understand.  There are some places an old movie reel of ideas starts playing on the screen inside my head – I have a hard time being where I am.  There are places where  I want to script what is going to occur; I want to control the environment; I want to figure out how to fit in, feel comfortable, get past the discomfort.  I want to check out because I am scared and scarred.  I waver between the idea  that this discomfort is telling me to get the hell out of dodge for my own good – or that this discomfort is asking me to stay and do some work – some clearing – some good ol’ purging,  so I can then walk away without the white noise roaring.

One interesting aspect of the class room is meeting other students.  You may find the other students by asking yourself:

Who shows up when I show up?

Show up – look around, see who else is there.  Not many at times.  On your subway ride, glance about – who is present?  At the coffee shop, in the book store, on the playground, in this class – who is present with you?

This is such a vibrant practice for me.  When we show up, it becomes clear who the others are.  You may not appear to have much in common,  as you are different ages, have different bodies and varied interests, but if you are both present, there are magic micro moments – wordless even – of eyes seeing and acknowledging that you are both HERE:   it happens!

It is becoming even clearer lately with all the devices that people have that enable them to check out on who is here and who is not.  The texters, the posters, the internet phone surfers:  it doesn’t mean they are never present, but often you can see how truly unique you are showing up while everyone else is here but somewhere else.  How brightly you stand out – and I see you from the front of the classroom where I am taking roll. 🙂

Also at times, it seems as if to not check out is creepy.  Hang on, it is okay.  Eden says to me, why are you standing there grinning – you look creepy – but at times I am present and happy and happiness leaks out of me.  In days like these, that is obviously strange.  I try to wear all black and blend in – and look cool, but my joy is bursting out of my coat seams, shooting up my spine, twinkling from my eyes.

You can use this 10% to help pull your overall grade up.  It makes for an easy A – just  for showing up!

does love ever sleep?

12 Feb

“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.”
― John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Love sleeps and love awakens, or love is there all the time while we sleep and awaken.  All love is the same love but sometimes love is in the form of a cat, a person, a place; love makes us grow beyond the perimeters of our skin cells into the extension of all seen and unseen, dense or light,  out beyond all ideas of this and that, as strong at its farthest edges as it is in the core.  Does it have any edges?

I am no expert on Astrology – but I like the larger scale clockiness of it.  I like the zooming out to measure time and seasons from the far out dials of the planets.  To the modern scientific mind, the whole thing is lunacy – superstition, poppycock.  But there is something in the rhythm and patterns that has always resonated at a deeper level within this girl, even when she belonged to the religion of her childhood that called this ancient pattern recognition a pseudo-science, and an evil one at that, yet I could not stop the patterns from clicking in my deeper awareness.  I could see the overlay of overt and subtle traits within everyone I knew, everyone I met.  The suns and moons of people I knew formed a pattern that I could recognize before I even studied a thing.  And there is a recurrent synch for me – probably because I put attention there, of overlapping birthdays in my life.    I could bore you with the details, but I won’t.  Just a few days ago, I discovered another of these overlaps – all they do is point for me – tell me to pay attention.

My interest in this area was my hidden vice for years as I saw it, but when Richard Tarnas was on the very “respectable” (wink wink) NPR show, Diane Rehm, I perked up.  The author of the most widely used Intro to Western Philosophy book used in colleges was on NPR talking about Astrology.  I bought his book, Cosmos and Psyche and came out of the closet.  The regular world did not catch on to this turning of the tides, so I felt a bit chagrined with my outing at times.

I inhabit another world entirely now, a world parallel yet invisible to mainstream concerns.   I am not one to share my interest or knowledge randomly in the world.  It is enough that something speaks to me.

This winding road is all just to mention – Venus went direct last week or gosh, more than that now.  From the later part of December to the end of January was a wonderful month plus for examining love, luxury, pleasure, as Venus appeared to go backwards in the sky.  A time for laying low and exploring what gives pleasure.

For a good while now, I’ve been asking, “What brings me joy down to my toes and up to my crown?”   Do I know the answer to this question?   I am in recovery from a swirling, vacant selflessness disorder.     In answering this question, I found myself creating a symbolic alter to recognize these discoveries and to relish and welcome what I would like to encounter more of in my life.  What fun I have had!

venus magic

This post will out me.  I guess I’m okay with that.

I’m having a sort of fun that takes me back to preschool – I pull up a chair to the play dough station; I get my hands dirty; I lose hours in creating without a thought of the end result.  Not art, but play.

I use my hands and scissors and rubber cement glue and and old box from the earth fare store to dream up my life anew.

Here is my alter to Venus, full of symbolic notations to my self along the way to honor the things that please me to no end.  There are rocks and feathers, symbols and mysteries, love notes and chopsticks, a peace sign and a world globe, rice and a battery, a surging heart and a sunrise, poetry and seeds, mandalas and  textured bark, a glimmering eye for humor, poetry, a screwdriver and a hammer, notes to remind me of who I am, and some silver coins.

The pretend worlds we created on the playground as children are closer to the true flow and power source of humans than the mature, mundane, mechanical march deemed adult and respectable.   If we dream it, it can come 🙂  I’m not dreaming of dead baseball players, though.  I am dreaming my own colorful version of life, moment by moment, while my now is perfect just the way it is.  I’m just left of the swings, watching the vortex above the spinning merry-go-round,  if you want to join me.

parenting my own delinquency

7 Feb


I am thinking about Achilles today.  What if I had the story wrong?  What if an Achilles’ heel does not point to a spot of weakness but instead a spot of strength?  How could one see it like this when the Achilles heel is what caused Achilles’ death?  I am thinking today that  Achilles’ humanity might have lain in his unprotected spot, even if it took him out.  I don’t have much to support this view, I readily admit, from his tale anyway.  If Achilles were my lover, I would kiss that tender heel everyday!

What is weakness?  What is strength?  These questions play in my mind this morning as I make breakfast for Eden because she is amazed that I am  capable of making a quick and tasty omelet for her.  She thinks that I am hopeless in the kitchen.  The weakness I’m wondering about is not my cooking ability, but rather my willingness to accept her youthful teasing me for lack of skill.   Isn’t the life journey funny?  We can go from strong to weak and from weak to strong at the flip of an invisible switch.

Eden has taken over much of the cooking in the past few years, in ever growing amounts.  She finds recipes that I would shake me head at saying, “too much trouble,” and goes to it with abandon.  Last night, she fried dough in coconut oil to make “from scratch” cannoli shells.  The whole house has a sweet smokey smell; one of my pans looks forever altered.  No matter; I cheer her on from another room.  Her slate clean of experience  stands in contrast to my many years that lead me to ever increasing simplicity.  Food is sustenance anymore, not a hobby.

Part of her transition into “cook” has been in jabbing at my own cooking skills.  Tis true, I’m not the greatest cook anymore; I think I’ve hung up that apron of identity.  As she explores her own interest and talent, she pushes off against me to define herself.  I am still quite capable, but she likes to make fun of my recent fails of substituting ingredients to stave off trips to the store, resulting in less than pleasing dishes.  I bow out; I relish my slippery identity and story that gives me an internal grin as I allow her free reign in the kitchen, even if it comes with a comparison to me.  There is not pride here in letting her know about all the years I did know my way around a kitchen.  Have at it, girl.  🙂

I don’t mind being the butt of the joke here, but for years, my lack of ownership and slipperiness of identity seemed a huge fault.

In our world, stepping up to the plate in an overt way is honored.  I understand the value of overt, forthright power, but my flow has always been a bit different.  In part, I may be this way because I found myself born into a family with lots of activity by the time I got there, the youngest of three, loved dearly but a bit of an afterthought.  I fit into an already established group versus altering the family dynamics much myself.  I have always enjoyed watching…

(No, I’m not Chauncy Gardner:)


Surprisingly, once I  had a job in sales.  I was supposed to go to college campuses and convince professors to select the textbooks that my company had published amidst a large stack of competitors.  I listened and learned about sales techniques and steps for “Closing” people, but this process just never fit my flow.  I went and met with the professors, but I found myself asking questions and listening instead of closing.  Even though I still made sales, the premise of trying to influence another in this way would have always caused me discomfort – to make myself into something so foreign made my stomach rumble.  In the process, I came to understand the role of professor and decided to get into teaching instead.

What I am trying to say is that, at that point, my inability to SELL felt like a flaw.  Every time I met with a professor and I was so far off script, sitting and listening and engaging in real conversation often unrelated entirely to my purpose there, I felt deeply flawed as a human.

I have memories of people picking up on what I think may be a sensitivity to others and scoffing at me.  One lunch sticks out in my mind  where I waited for a conversation to organically finish before I asked for the salt to be passed, which resulted in a woman saying how weak it was to not ask for what you want.  She couldn’t believe that I did not interrupt the conversation.  I was in my 20’s and her observation of me in what she perceived to be a lack of self-confidence left me feeling exposed and worthless.

From these callings out, I sometimes tried to do the flip in behavior.  I came on strong, I voiced my opinion with insensitivity, I didn’t hold doors for people as I had places to be, haha, but that never felt true.  I often didn’t want to voice my opinion; I usually could see the other side just as easily.  I wanted to hold doors because that felt true to me.  To wait for natural breaks in conversation is organic to me.

I also take a moment here, internally, to recognize how my lack of agenda and flexibility made me vulnerable to the unhealthy dynamics in my marriage.  I had trouble seeing the motivations of another person who not only had strong intentions for himself, but worked diligently to convince and steer me in directions he wished  for me to go, as well, that did not match my internal compass.

What a gift my life has been!  I can look at how this weakness did give me an Achilles’ heel.  I was given the gift of a marriage with a person that would force me to step up to the plate in a sense and say, “No, I may be easy-going, but I do still get to steer my own ship.  Amen.”

There is a shadow aspect that needs examining, here.  Finding the strength here means understanding where this sensitivity is appropriate and where I need to speak out and say, NO!

When I was proceeding through my dark night of the soul, one place I ventured was a Thich Nhat Hahn Meditation group that met in the basement of a Baptist Church.  My very first visit, I noticed a person coming in late, going to great lengths to make sure that the door made no sound at all upon her entry.  She slowly held the knob and turned it at a snail’s pace to not allow the slight click to sound as the door shut fully.

The click from the door may not have been heard, but one click that did occur was the sound of a light being turned on above my head.

There was value in the time she took to enter without disturbing others.    I recognized her sensitivity to the experience of others in meditation, and thus could see this value in myself.  She mirrored the beauty of a sensitivity that I possessed as well, and her gesture allowed me to see it in myself.

I am sensitive to others, I am strong in this, yet I can also choose when and where I am sensitive; I can choose with whom I wish to spend my time and donate my listening heart.  I can understand the strength and weakness in the same quality.

I kiss and bless my own heel, my best feature, for sure:)

“If you try to avoid or remove the awkward quality, it will pursue you. The only effective way to still its unease is to transfigure it, to let it become something creative and positive that contributes to who you are.
Nietzche said that one of the best days in his life was the day when he rebaptized all his negative qualities as his best qualities. Rather than banishing what is at first glimpse unwelcome, you bring it home to unity with your life…..One of your sacred duties is to exercise kindness toward them. In a sense, you are called to be a loving parent to your delinquent qualiites” 
― John O’Donohue

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