I haven't been here in awhile and I return today to learn there is a "new post editor". I start to try it and then go back to the old. I am sometimes slow to change.
I've been posting on Facebook but somehow feel this is more my home, and I want to return to more intimacy in my posts, to more continuity for the reader and more knowing of who I am, more piecing together of my parts. Actually that began on Facebook when I took an amazing European trip in June. I posted there but I saw how there was no continuity for the reader. Any post of mine is lumped in with a variety of other posts, from people, wimp.com and politics. How does one focus and put together a more whole picture of what is being read? That is what is motivating me to share my FB post here today. I am working on a third book and to motivate myself to finish it, I am more widely sharing it.
Many of you know I’m working on a third book. My first book, Breast Strokes, was about my journey with cancer, but was really about how we meet what comes. I wrote Love Letters to My Daughters-in-Law to celebrate the richness of two women loving the same man, and how they come together to celebrate their similarities and differences. How do those two women create a nourishing relationship of their own?
This third book has been a challenge as I struggle to integrate a more thorough knowing of who I am in a world that I now understand is about much more than the individual I. I resonate to the words of Albert Einstein:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
This morning I am with these words from James Joyce, “Mr. Dufy lived a short distance from his body.” Those words anchor this third book as I come into the body to write about what I learned when I journeyed to the Everest region of Nepal. I was 43. Now I am 67. What have I learned? This is a teaser to tantalize you and motivate me.
As Albert Einstein also said, “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
I've been here at Live Journal since October, 2005. I started it to keep in touch with family and friends as I went through cancer treatment. Caringbridge didn't exist at the time. The word "blog" was completely new to me. The concept was puzzling. I don't pay because I'm giving content. Hmmmm! I don't know how many times my son explained it to me. I have come to understand.
Many friends left LJ when it was bought by the Russians but I understood the servers were still here. I was also hoping for a world of peace where such a change wouldn't be an issue, but things have changed. The servers have moved to Russia and their idea of censorship is different than ours, or at least different than ours was since this last election which is quickly changing everything.
I am surprised to feel how sad it is for me to consider leaving LJ but it seems a statement my conscience needs to make. I have now set up a Dreamwidth account though even there I realize how much has changed in me, for me. It asks for my interests - music, books, movies. I love books and maybe that's enough to say. Who am I now? Do I want to be categorized when I feel myself changing day to day, moment to moment?
I haven't felt the impulse to post here very often these days. Perhaps no one will even read this. What is the identity I want for Dreamwidth? What do I want to say?
I think of the names - Live Journal - when I began, I wanted to live. Live Journal - Live Journal - I said it both ways with the I both long and short. I still want that living, but now I am invited into a new way of thinking and expanding, Dream Width. Hmmm! Both are both founded by the same people so I start to feel excitement at the change in name, at a change in locale. Who knows how quickly I'll jump but I've opened the ground for planting and so here I may come.
The question now is do I go back through what is here and delete what doesn't seem worth transferring over to LJ. They would take the whole mess, almost twelve years worth but does that make sense, and do I feel like going back through what is here, and if not, and hmmmm. My sons want me to keep it all and I am stunned at why this feels like such a big deal. I guess it reinforces my huge disappointment in this election. Seeing the dismantling of what I believe in - clean air, water, schools for all, parks, nature, the environment, literacy, courtesy, care for all beings. I suppose that's why I haven't been posting here. I am in pain.
Where I live the sun is shining and the buds have popped out so the plum trees are waving white. We've had months of rain, record breaking rain and nobody complained because we are so grateful to be out of drought but yesterday I walked outside, and the kitties lay in the sun, and we all reveled in the feel of sunlight on skin and psyche. The night before I'd seen one of my cats seemingly worshipping at the unseen moon, a moon one day from full and obscured by clouds, and yet my cat seemed to know it was there and sat attentively looking up.
In this new-found freedom of breath, I take John O'Donahue's wonderful book, To Bless the Space Between Us, out onto the deck and open to this blessing. We are all artists on how we live. Let's not forget and let's inspire on the light inside as it reaches to meet the light that might seem to be outside but really there is only one Light.
For the Artist at The Start of Day
May morning be astir with the harvest of night; Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question, Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse That cut right through the surface to a source.
May this be a morning of innocent beginning, When the gift within you slips clear Of the sticky web of the personal With its hurt and its hauntings, And fixed fortress corners,
A morning when you become a pure vessel For what wants to ascend from silence,
May your imagination know The grace of perfect danger,
To reach beyond irritation, And the wheel of repetition,
Deep into the call of all The unfinished and unsolved
Until the veil of the unknown yields And something original begins To stir toward your senses And grow stronger in your heart In order to come to birth In a clean line of form, That claims from time A rhythm not yet heard, That calls space to A different shape.
May it be its own force field And dwell uniquely Between the heart and the light
To surprise the hungry eye By how deftly it fits About its secret loss.
Last night the word of the day in my Toastmasters club was Ataraxia, which means “a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety”. Ataraxia is tranquility. It sounds so exotic, that word, and I read on Wikipedia the word is a Greek term and was used to describe the ideal mental state for sending troops into battle. Hmmm! I’m making this my word for today. Ataraxia.
My intention is to be tranquil, serene and open to meet what comes and in that I sing because I’m reading that chanting raises my vibration, so I’m singing, chanting and humming Ataraxia in a multitude of ways.
May this day empty and fill, fill and empty with interaction, connection, communication, empathy, receptivity, grace, love, understanding and flow!
Yesterday I participated in a sensory awareness workshop at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Though I wanted to arrive calm, I came agitated with the political news. What I noticed first was that my breathing was shallow, cautious, held. Then, I saw how limited my vision. My eyes weren’t drawn outside to look at the waves in the bay and the Golden Gate bridge. My focus was on the ache in my heart. I began to allow the breath to move in and out, to expand in its path of entering and exiting. How far could it enter, and how far could my personal exhalation reach out into the world?
In that, just that, breathing with more clarity and notice, fear began to release. Curiosity began to nuzzle inside and out. I settled into myself, this being that appears to be a separate individual, and yet is part of and interdependent with the environment and the world. The fear that had pulled me into a frightened, tight, and rigid ball, released. As I expanded out to become more aware of my environment, the muscles around my eyes relaxed and my vision expanded. Oh, there is a wider world to see and perceive and play with and interact with. Oh! This is fun. This is play! I walked and my hips began to sway.
I became more and more aware of the environment as part of me, of myself as part of the environment. I don’t end with my skin. Breath doesn't begin with the end of my nose or the opening of my mouth. Air is moving in and out everywhere. I am a process, breath and energy moving in and out. What is true of me is true of countries, of boundaries. Our vision expands when we are free to move in and out, to move freely and easily with the possibility of touching more deeply, more deeply ourselves and more deeply and completely, others. This is our guide. Touch. Breath. Air. Shared.
In that, giving and receiving are one. There is enough.
At the break in the workshop, each of us went outside and wandered individually around Fort Mason. I was surprised to feel so full and content that I didn't need anything. Though it was lunchtime, I didn't need food or flowers. I walked without temptation through the bookstore. I was pumped on exchange. I walked and absorbed. A woman was singing folk songs. A child was going up and down some steps. Though I wore wool, a young man strolled by in a pair of shorts. I looked at the water, listened to and watched gulls, and saw a huge container ship bringing in goods. The water flows in and out with the tides. Air is shared, and I expanded and released in being part of the energy and environment of Fort Mason, San Francisco, California, and the world. Each of us is one with a wider world and no one person is going to change that. Individually and collectively, we are one with a sky filled with stars, a luxurious harvest of more than we may see and absorb, and yet it is there when we open more fully to breath and the unity in connection, trust and touch.
And now a comment on trust. What is it to trust, to bring the breath in more fully to every crevice, hidden and not? What is it then to bring the depths of where that breath has now touched out into the world, swooshing and seasoning the air with a heart filled with love? Try it! It's free!
Yesterday my son and I enjoyed Hakone Gardens in Saratoga. I find the serenity of Japanese gardens soothing. Right now, the maple trees are bare, their slender outlines drawing patterns on the sky. The camellias are blooming; the waterfall is flowing. What a treat it is to sit on a bench in a quiet garden, well, not completely quiet as the gift shop is being redone and there is the sound of wood being cut which activates the knowing that sawdust falls in piles to the ground.
My son pointed out that the view from the decks is like the view from our home. We have native oaks and a redwood tree. In front of our house, a Japanese garden rises in the softness of winter light. Our maple trees are bare, gentle in mobilizing new buds and leaves.
Right now, many of us are pulled outside by the pounding and screeching of news, both factual and otherwise. I believe sometimes we need to pause and look at what is right here. For me, as I write this, it is early morning and the sky is coming to light. My insides feel rosy with absorption as I continue to digest food from The Bywater, a restaurant visit to New Orleans. In this moment, I am content with time to reflect. It is Saturday, and according to the Chinese calendar, it is a new year, the year of the rooster, the sign of dawn and awakening.
Meditating this morning, I found myself focused on a round green light shining through my partially closed eyes. I realized it was the light of my computer informing me it was fully charged, but somehow what I saw and felt was that it was a star. A star. I thought of how what I perceive as a star in the sky might be a galaxy or a herd of galaxies. I thought of how my computer connects me to galaxies of knowledge and people. My circuits flow with thanks.
Yesterday my son requested he would like to see more personal reports on Facebook and less political rants. In that light, I share that I like to view my personal history as one of assimilation. I fully claim my small percentage of Neanderthal ancestry. In addition I claim my integration of East and West. My study of sensory awareness comes from Germany. My first teacher of sensory awareness, Charlotte Selver, had to leave Germany because she was Jewish, and Hitler in his insatiable need to rise to power by creating and denouncing an “other” was out to destroy diversity. My study of Buddhism comes from Asia. For me, Buddhism is an invitation to enter a land and world of same-same, and that allows me, at times, to disengage from a society driven by consumerism and the need to compare. I understand the word “great” has no meaning. Neither does the word “huge”.
That brings me back to Hakone Gardens and the sawing of wood to renew a gift shop. My intention these days is to allow the wood of my upbringing to spread apart like sawdust to protect and nourish a wider root system that is then reflected in a wider branch system and through that to the spreading and sharing of gifts. My intention is to spread myself more openly and in that to more openly connect.
Today my branches may be bare but I hear the sound of the rooster and other birds as they call the leaves to emerge from the trees, bringing the abundance of spring, summer, and fall to this planet we share. With gratitude, I bow and sip coffee, tea and chocolate milk. I love this world, all of it, and I give thanks for this pounding and chain-sawing that opens us to more awareness of nourishing more parts of ourselves with tenderness, love, generosity and care.
There is much to consider these days. I see those for whom I care connecting in a new awareness of being awake, of wanting to walk for and proclaim their support of true values, values of love, compassion, connection and care. Today I am with this poem by Hafiz. Does it make a difference how we weave and wave the light that comes from and enters our lives? I believe it does.
With That Moon Language
Everyone you see, you say to them “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud: Otherwise, Someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, This great pull in us To connect.
Why not become the one Who lives with a full moon in each eye That is always saying,
With that sweet moon Language,
What every other eye in this world Is dying to Hear.
It's the last day of 2016, a day of retreat for me, a day of renewal as dark becomes light, and light becomes dark.
I am with this poem by Charles Simic written in 1938. I plan this year to more clearly reveal the star charts written on my inner walls.
Go inside a stone That would be my way. Let somebody else become a dove Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth. I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle: No one knows how to answer it. Yet within, it must be cool and quiet Even though a cow steps on it full weight, Even though a child throws it in a river, The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed To the river bottom Where the fishes come to knock on it And listen.
I have seen sparks fly out When two stones are rubbed. So perhaps it is not dark inside after all; Perhaps there is a moon shining From somewhere, as though behind a hill— Just enough light to make out The strange writings, the star charts On the inner walls.
This comes from Writer’s Almanac today: It was on this day in 1890 that federal troops killed almost 300 Lakota men, women, and children in the massacre at Wounded Knee. One of the survivors was Black Elk, the famous medicine man, who was 27 years old at the time of the massacre. He wrote: “I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, - you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead."
Oh, these words strike bone in my heart. Terrible things have happened over the years. It is time to repair the sacred hoop, to replant the sacred tree and come together, each one of us knowing and nourishing the seeds of connection within and without.
This morning I am with these words of Rainer Maria Rilke:
“Ah, not to be cut off, not through the slightest partition shut out from the law of the stars. The inner - what is it? if not the intensified sky, hurled through with birds and deep with the winds of homecoming.”
Some of us have been shaken by the changes in this last year, but if they can change one way, they can change another. It’s time to repair the hoop, to honor the center, and water, replenish and trust the deep sky that blooms joy, love and homecoming in the spinning web within.
Time seems to have slowed. It passes very slowly in the hospital and maybe I’ve changed pace. We woke early this morning and rose and I read a bit and picked up and still I have all the time in the world.
I’m with these words from Thich Nhat Hanh from his book At Home in the World.
The chapter is called Lotus Tea.
“Years ago in Vietnam, people used to go out onto a lotus pond with a small boat to put some tea leaves into an open lotus flower. The flower would close in the evening and perfume the tea during the night. Then, in the peace of early morning, when the dew was still glistening on the large lotus leaves, they would return in the boat with their friends to collect the tea. On the boat, they would take everything they needed to make delicious, fragrant tea: fresh water, a stove to heat it, teacups, and a teapot. Then in the beautiful early light of dawn, they would prepare the tea right there, enjoying the morning and drinking tea in the lotus pond. Nowadays we may have a lotus pond, but we do not seem to have time to stop and look at it, let alone to enjoy it by making tea and drinking it in that way.”
Since I read those words, I find myself pausing and imagining tea leaves resting in the night, soaking up the fragrance of the lotus flower. I pause now and inhale the scent, and in that both day and night lengthen in strength and wing the capillaries mirrored in my lungs.