Friday, June 30, 2006

truth, justice, and a little validation (or yes i saw the movie, but there are no spoilers in this post)

There are moments when your heart kind of swells in your chest and you feel little tears form behind your eyes. Something feels a little bit though everything might be right in the world. Right now. In this moment.

A moment like this happened for me today. The music swelled and once again, Superman saved the day.

I am a sucker for movies where the good guy really does stand for truth and justice and all that stuff. Where the good guy doesn't lie. Where the good guy says something along the lines of "Swell." Yes, I am a sucker for that.

I have to tell you that in high school, I knew a guy like this. Truth, justice, and "swell." And when I heard the music as the opening credits began, I thought about him a bit. When we were seniors, the show Lois & Clark was on TV. Do you remember it? Dean Cain and Terry Hatcher? The banter between them always made me smile. And this guy and I had a bit of that banter sometimes. I think I might have thought we were a bit like Lois and Clark or rather, wished that we were. And now he is off saving the world in his own way, standing for justice and all that stuff as he serves in the Army over the big ocean in the midst of some scariness I try not to think about. A "golly gee" Clark Kent of a guy turning into a Superman of sorts. Perfect. (Be safe my friend. Remember that you know how to fly.)

As I watched the movie though, I realized that what I really wanted back in high school was that moment when Superman shows Lois the world from his perspective. He invites her to change her perspective a bit. When I found someone who wanted to do this, well, it was all over for me. To challenge me to see things I never even looked at before knowing him, this is the gift my husband gives me, and he has the desire for me to do the same for him. And of course, the need to protect me from any that might harm me is a nice thing too. (Oh and the way he always gets me water each night before I go to bed; how it just appears there on my bedside table...I could go on...)

As the movie continued, I also noticed the theme of acceptance. Isn't this what we are ultimately searching for over and over? Validation. There is a scene in the movie that visually illustrates the opposite of this: rejection, prejudice, and brutality. This scene will haunt me for a while. Why is it that we want to destroy one another? Why don't we try to understand instead of harm? Naive questions, maybe, but I think it is true that we all seek validation. Why is it that we do not give it so easily? Or is it that people do not recognize it when it is offered to them?

At the beginning of the movie, when the characters are put in their first of many tense moments, I found myself sitting hunched forward in my seat, chewing on my lip, brow furrowed, and I had to laugh at myself. I turned to Jon and whispered, "I forgot that a Superman movie means lots of bad stuff happens so that Superman can save the day." He grabbed my hand and nodded.

This is life, yes? A lot of bad stuff has to happen. But, there is something to the idea that inviting someone to see your perspective, to walk in your shoes for a moment (or at least recognize that you walk or fly on your own path), to really see you as a person, well, this may be the way to save each other. To save ourselves. Validation is a powerful gift.

I know that I seek this in my own life. I look for ways to reassure myself that I am not alone. This is why there are so many books that line the shelves in my home. I am seeking a kinship with others; an understanding that the way I look at things, this way that seemed to invite a theme of loneliness in my life, is perhaps not as lonely as I thought. This is what I found by reading poetry. This is what I have found by coming here to this place and writing and reading and writing some more. This is what I have found through my journey with yoga. Perhaps, this is the new theme of my life. The understanding that I am not alone.

As the music swelled, my heart felt a bit lighter. Someone was coming along to save the day. We are not alone in our struggles, even on the days when it feels like we might be. We are here for each other.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

a poetry reading

this is an audio post - click to play

what i say {poetry thursday}

Ocean Creation

I find both my feet wondering when last I
noticed how it felt to stand and feel every toe.
Inhaling as instructed, with reaching arms
I seek the space that forms around my heart.
Navel toward the spine, the exhale begins

then my body folds in half, head toward knees.
Always a friend, gravity completes the journey
as hamstrings greet my jumbled thoughts.

“Find the pause, then the breath.”

Inhale, the heart leads as my body rises, all toes
connected, firmly grounded feet retain my balance.
Exhale, movement begins, hands slide down
my thighs, fingers wrap around my calves.
The invitation to hear the body is received;
I stay with my crown to the turning earth.
The struggle as I seek to find a pathway clear of clutter
and boxes piled high with all that I am not.

“Let go of judgment; find the breath.”

A crack in the top of my head, shame, fear,
doubt rush out to form an ocean on the earth below.
I close my eyes and find the breath,
permission to feel the space inside.
Oxygen moves stillness through the veins,
as energy pulsates from fingertips and toes.
Inhale, the heart opens and uprights my view;
exhale, the body settles as the mind finds the quiet.

“Feel the effects of the pose
on the body,
on the breath,
on the mind,
on the heart.”

This poem shares some of the phrases I use when I teach yoga. Over the last two weeks, I have tried to observe myself as I teach, noticing the phrases that pass my lips. This poem also shares what it feels like to have a moment in the midst of a pose, a moment when you realize yoga is about a lot more than just stretching the body. (And the post above is me reading this poem. I am still trying to figure out audioblogger but thought I would give it a try.)


This week, I also brought poetry into an everyday moment when I read a poem at the end of class this evening. After the students rest in savasana, they come back to a seated position and I share something with them. A meditation, blessing, chant, "words of wisdom," a poem. Tonight I read "Threading the Needle" from Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By by Leza Lowitz. This poet is a writer and yoga teacher who shares images of asana poses, moments in her life, how yoga affects the mind and soul through the poems in this book. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

pop art? {self portrait challenge}


me reflected in the side of the experience music project building, which is itself, a huge piece of pop art in seattle.

thought i would at least participate for one week this month...
click over to other SPC participants here.

an atypical post

i just want to release this out into the universe.

i am freaking out about money. there it is said.

please go about your day. breathing and laughing and all that fun stuff. i just had to put that out there.

we are going to an event that we cannot afford to attend. at all. (sorry, but that is true.) i do not know how to explain something like this. so i go into more debt. my mother is trying to be supportive yet wake-me-up at the same time on this (since she is here visiting). she is being very generous and giving us miles for the plane tickets because they would have cost us over $1400.00. i kept avoiding buying them because i had no idea how we would afford them.
i know. it should be easier to explain this. but it isn't. it should be easier to say no. it should be easier to stop spending money we don't have. it should be easier. but it isn't. not even a little bit. although we are making some wiser choices, we still are not decreasing the debt. just not adding to it. our garage door broke earlier this month. we had to buy an entire new door for the garage. how could i say, "well, we can't come to this weekend now because we had to buy a new garage door?"
please know i am not really asking for advice here (thanks anyway). i already know that i should have simply explained we could not afford to attend and not worry about what was said or thought about me. but that is not easy. (and no, this is not meant to hurt anyone's feelings...but i had to put this out there into the universe in the hopes that my heart would be lightened and some answers might come my way through the energy of releasing it.) hence the tiny type. i mean, i do not even want people to read this. i hate money issues.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

senses. beach at port townsend with mom.

see fantastic creatures

hear the gulls

smell the circle of life

taste the salt in the air

touch the texture

{and know}
and know love

Thursday, June 22, 2006

here we go

Music, loud enough to feel the beat in my chest. Boom ba boom-ba. Boom ba boom-ba.
Marc Broussard.

two, three, four.

As I dance around the house, ipod nano tucked into the band of my yoga pants (okay, the truth is it is tucked into the side of my hanes boy shorts), my own private concert, snapping my fingers to the beat, I have no inhibition. None. I pass the guest room where my husband glances up from the laundry he is folding, an amused look on his face (which has more to do with my having fun while he keeps the laundry going in anticipation of my mother's arrival tomorrow). A tornado could pass through our neighborhood and I probably wouldn't even notice.

here we go.

This is my favorite part. I have to clap now...and the singing begins. Arms above my head. Millie looks on from her spot in the middle of the hallway.

you don't know nothin' about me...

Summer heat is here, windows are open. Do the neighbors think I am crazy? In pain? I don't care. Toe. Heel. Toe. Heel. Pass the mirror in the hallway and decide not to look. Why bring judgment in now? I feel the beat in my soul...nothing will stop me.

take me home...

When I finished listening to this song for the fourth time in a row tonight, dancing to each encore, I thought about the conversation my friend Heather and I had earlier this week. The one about dancing. I started ballet at four, so dancing has been a part of my life for 26 years. A long time. As I child, I spent hours in the basement "practicing," which really meant having my own private dance concerts. From Tchaikovsky to Phil Collins to Madonna to (yes, you guessed it) Kenny Rogers, my body would move to the beat of the music. Twirling, tapping, waltzing (sans-partner). I would pretend Baryshnikov had come to take me away to be a dancer on Broadway in New York (has anyone else seen the PBS special Baryshnikov on Broadway? My dad taped it for me in the 80s, and I probably watched it 1000 times). Sometimes Prince Charming would come to twirl me in circles. Other days I was a back-up dancer finding my inner Solid Gold dancer.

Through all of this play, I learned to feel the music. And yoga has brought this to an even deeper level. It isn't just about feeling the music, it is about feeling my body. Feeling myself. Letting it out through movement.

My mind also turned to
Jamie's day in May and Meg's post from March. Two different perspectives. The love of dancing and the desire to want to love to dance.

Heather reminded me that not everyone feels as comfortable dancing as I do. I mean, I will sometimes bust out into a time step in Target. And Jon will twirl me around on the sidewalk and I don't even care if other people think we are odd. I sing in the car, sometimes even when I meet people for the first time. And I dance in my seat. A lot. Dancing (and the occasional karaoke moment) are such a part of who I am that I don't even think about it as odd.

Thinking about all of this has become a
theme lately. And I am wondering if dancing may be yet another avenue toward healing. Another way to find yourself...

Do you think you might want to feel the music? Feel your body? Find yourself as you let it out through movement?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

my least favorite of them all {poetry thursday}

There are several words that make me cringe. I do mean cringe. But there is one, one that I dislike above all others. (Now, I am not including words that are derogatory or extremely offensive. Those are in their own category that is beyond and to the side of this one.) There are also words I love. Adore. Words that make me feel light and happy. Words that bring joy to my heart. And words that are simply fun. This poem uses some of these words. The ones I do not hate. And this poem takes you on a trip around the one word that is my least favorite of them all. The one that could be in the title. Can you guess what it is?

The word that must not be spoken

At the widow’s peak, gravity pulls the
droplet toward the crease between chaotic eyebrows.
Fingers dance by memory, though the mind is engrossed by the
droplet as it travels to the indentation at the left of the nose.
A faithful assistant, the ears seek distraction for the mind,
finding the “click-click-click-click,” side to side with no intermission.
The next inhalation diverts attention to a tickle, as the
droplet dives into the left nostril and dangles with prudence.

Exhale. The mind suspended with hope and dread, awaiting the
next intake of breath. Will it plummet to a gratifying demise?

As though in cahoots with the crescendo, “drip,” the
droplet plunges into a pool atop a sharp ivory landing.


I am super excited about Marilyn's Poem Road. Please go on over and visit her blog devoted to this idea and share ideas and brainstorm ways to make Poem Road a reality.
And then head on over to
Poetry Thursday and link to more poetry.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

notes on a quiet tuesday in the midst of a noisy moment

we are watching the movie munich. it is intense. and currently it is very, very loud. i mean, like i am there. phew, jonny just turned down the volume. he knows me. i do not want to be up to my ears in gunfire like this. i feel it in my bones and will potentially dream about it. hmmmm. eric bana. i like him; he is interesting. this movie is sad and confusing. but i am always intrigued by a peek into the human psyche. into the reasons why we do what we do and the idea that everyone has a story.

jon's father was here for the weekend. a whirlwind of a weekend. to celebrate father's day and just be here with us. it was delightful to see the two of them connect. and listen to him tell his stories. so many stories. it was fun. and we have three days of a family-free house until my mom comes on friday. a busy, busy summer. but good to have family come and visit us in our little corner of the world. and good to have the quiet in between the visits. i can find my head again and take a breath.

thank you all for your kind comments about my little story about rebecca louise. she has been living in my mind and heart since she came alive for me in the middle of the night on sunday. you will see her again, because she won't have it any other way.

tonight, jon came to my yoga class. i love teaching that class (even when there are only two students like there were tonight) because i have a student who comes every single week (she has not missed a tuesday since she began in january), and she is feeling her body and moving in ways that are inspiring. yoga is giving her a glimpse inside herself.

then later a dear friend and i were talking about the idea of dancing and movement and feeling comfortable with the body and comfortable in social situations. how it is all connected. as we look deeper inside, we begin to see.

but we are afraid. we spend so much of our lives building up fears, often without even knowing it. and then one day we realize we want to let go. and we spend the rest of the time cracking open to let the fears slip out into the night.

it is all connected. munich. stories. yoga. movement. all connected.

Monday, June 19, 2006

late night travels {sunday scribblings}

Rebecca Louise Paulson set out for school each morning wearing bright red knee socks, black mary janes with a half-inch heel, various brightly colored jumpers (indigo on Mondays, Tuesdays were fern green, sunshine yellow on Wednesdays, Thursdays saw a geranium red that complimented her socks, and Fridays, Fridays brought her most favorite of all: purple with green polka dots), and a white button-down oxford (turtlenecks in winter). Every day she carried her pumpkin orange backpack filled with her lunch in a brown paper sack, two sharpened #2 pencils, three paperclips, one humongous rubber band and one tiny one, a little spiral notebook, her lucky pink hair ribbon, and various books, depending on the day. (Just between you and me, in the super secret pocket inside the zippered pouch in the bottom of her pack, folded up in one of her mother’s handkerchiefs, was a small white rock with black stripes that she had found near the creek on her grandparents’ farm the day her brother died. During the week, she looked at it four times a day: when she placed it in the pocket in the morning, at lunch time when she removed the brown paper bag, right before she began her walk home, and lastly when she reached in and pulled out the handkerchief in anticipation of tucking it under her pillow in the evening; on Tuesdays, she also checked on the rock after art class because she had to leave her backpack in the hallway outside the art room door.

Her pace was a quick one because it was Monday and she wanted to get to school before it began, right when the library opened. It was there that she would say hello to Mrs. Harrison the librarian as Rebecca stood on tiptoes to place her books on the front desk of the library, right above the sign that said “returns.” Mrs. Harrison said the same thing every Monday, “Good morning Rebecca. How did you sleep since last I saw you?” “Delightfully,” was the response Rebecca always gave her. “Where do you want to go this week?” would be Mrs. Harrison’s next question. And each Monday, Rebecca would tell her.

You see, the day Rebecca’s teacher took her class to the school library and Mrs. Harrison explained how they could each check out three books at a time and keep them for up to two weeks, then bring the books back and check out more, was the day that brought the night that Rebecca’s dreams began. Rebecca had first checked out a book about a cricket playing music in a subway station in New York. When it was time for Rebecca to go to bed, she had reached into her backpack and pulled out the handkerchief and the library book, stepped up the three steps of the stool she used to climb into her tall, black, wrought-iron bed, pulled back the pink quilt her great-grandmother had made her the year she was born, placed the handkerchief under her pillow, climbed under the covers, settled back against the pillows, and she had begun to read. After she turned out her light, she dreamt she and her brother were in that subway station having a conversation with that cricket and boarding the subway to go to Carnegie Hall where her brother would be playing the violin.

Next, Rebecca checked out a book about a spider who could spell words in her web and was best friends with a pig. That night she dreamt that she and her brother befriended this spider and taught her to spell the words on Rebecca’s spelling list. Then in history class, she had to write a report about a state she had never visited. She checked out books about Alaska and began to read one that night when she climbed into bed. After she turned out her light and drifted to sleep, Rebecca dreamt that she and her brother were in a canoe when a humpback whale lifted its tail up out of the ocean and splashed them with water. Later, when they rowed back to shore, her brother had stepped out of the canoe, reached down, and picked up a rock and handed it to her. “So you won’t forget,” he said as he curled her fingers around that rock.

The next morning, Rebecca woke up with her hand in a tight fist around the handkerchief beneath her pillow. And as she lay there staring out the window across from her bed, she realized she could take her brother to places he would never see, except on these journeys of the night. Her quest began. Each Monday she would explain to Mrs. Harrison that she wanted to visit someplace new in the world. She wanted to read all about far-off places like Egypt and Brazil and Antarctica and Kenya and Maine. Sometimes she wanted to read about the present day experience in these places. Other visits she would request books about the history of different corners of the world. And each night, Rebecca would climb into her bed and read until her eyes became weary. Then came the best part: her dreams. When she was cocooned in her bed, sleeping on her side with legs bent and feet crossed, and her breathing became steady and even, her brother would appear tall and strong. He would turn to her, take a deep breath, and say, “isn’t this place incredible?” Together they would climb mountains, stare down a panther, sit in a tree talking to an orangutan, eat honey and peanut butter sandwiches sitting on a log near the Mediterranean Sea, marvel at dancers in the middle of a street fair in Rome, and sing along with pirates adrift in the Indian Ocean.

Some mornings, Rebecca would wake up with her fingers curled around the handkerchief that held her rock. When she did, she would open up her notebook, and she would slowly and carefully write down the name of the place she and her brother had visited in her dream. When she was old enough, she was going to travel to the place she had dreamt about and find the exact spot where they had stood when her brother had pressed the rock into her hand at the end of that night’s adventure. When she was old enough, she was going to take her pumpkin orange backpack and a canteen of water and the money she would make from working in the ice cream shop across the street from the school and she would travel to all the places in her notebook. She was certain that each rock would be there. But that would be years from now, and until then, she had a plan. She was going to check out three more books today and hold on tight for the next adventure.

(if you have traveled this far with me today, thank you. and if you have time to settle in for some more, head over to sunday scribblings and read other adventures about "beds.")

Sunday, June 18, 2006

dear dad

so i didn't get you a father's day present.
i do not usually remember father's day and mother's day in time to send presents and cards.
and i know that i conveniently forgot father's day for a few years in the 90s.
but today, i remember.

and i wanted you to know that i am glad you are my father.
and it is only in the last year that i had the realization that this day, every year, must be hard for you because your father passed away when you were younger than i am now. and i guess because i think of him as my grandfather, the man i will never have the chance to meet, the man with a voice i will never hear, the man with hands i will never hold, i simply did not think of him as your father. but then, when grandma died, i began to understand. every day, in some way, you must miss him. and every year, on this day, you are reminded.

i am glad you are in my life.

this is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us. getting ready to leave for the notre dame/florida state game in 1993. i miss moments like this. but we grow up and relationships shift, for many reasons. but i am glad that this moment was captured to remind me of the time before i was too grown up, before things shifted.

and i am glad that in the last couple of years they have shifted again. and we both have remembered.

happy father's day, dad.

love you,

Thursday, June 15, 2006

a talking tree {poetry thursday}

i am new to this poetry "thing," reading and writing it. and this is wonderful. yet it is with trepidation i share my own work here. i am taking the baby steps in understanding how to write poetry. lynn has shared some writing exercises with me (that she learned in a poetry workshop with Gary Short) to encourage me to put the pen to paper and find the poet inside. this poem was written from one of these exercises. write a poem in which a noun speaks.

What the Tree Says
after David Swanger

The tree says, "I am a canopy of color and shade
with limbs that reach with each breath. For centuries,
I have stretched my way into the answer. You do not remember
the day you sat below me, predictable as the sun,
pondering as you do now. Though your face is different,

your soul's question is the same.
The wind whispers answers, but the lightning bugs
inside your head are too busy to hear. My roots send
the invitation. The choice to listen for the question
and seek an answer. But I fear,

you will struggle for space and breath,
as a baby bird cracking open in its shell.
This I know because I once sat below the tallest
in this grove; my ego hurried and vast, not knowing
there was a question. The day arrives,

roots appear. Your turn to offer shade and beauty.
Pushing through the decades with each dropping leaf,
clarity finds room to see the question
and the quiet to hear the answer.
How to love. Let go."

Click on over to Poetry Thursday to see what other poetry readers and writers are up to today.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

something unstoppable

I am editing (in bed...because I work from home...and I can...and it is chilly today and I like being under the covers) and listening to my new nano. Paul Simon is singing the songs from his new album. I close my eyes and pretend for a moment that he is sitting on a chair with his guitar, right here in my room, singing:

If you leap awake
In the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second
You can't remember where you are
Just open your window
And follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain
Where we counted every falling star

I have been listening to these words since I heard him sing them on the Academy Awards in 2003. Then I bought this soundtrack. And during the first 40 or so times I listened to these next words, I cried.

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you

Something about this heart feels grief, hope, joy at the same time.

And then Paul begins a new tune, one I am just beginning to feel in my soul. These words...

Once upon a time there was an ocean
But now it's a mountain range
Something unstoppable set into motion
Nothing is different, but everything's changed

My head bobs to the beat. I feel my shoulders begin to sway from side. Left. Center. Right. Center. Feeling the beat in my heart. My hips begin to move. I sit up away from the pillows piled high behind me. I ask him to start the song again. My fingers begin to snap with the rhythm. My hands rise above my head. Snap. Sway. Snap. Sway. I breathe deeply. Something unstoppable. Snap. Sway. Hips move. Head moves, side to side. Snap. I do not even realize, but I have started to add sound. I do not know the words so I sing to the beat. I feel chills as he surprises me with these lines.

I figure that once upon a time I was an ocean
But now I'm a mountain range
Something unstoppable set into motion
Nothing is different, but everything's changed

And the first tear falls. How did he know? I close my eyes and fold my body forward. Still swaying from side to side. Left. Center. Right. Center. My head comes to the covers of the bed. I take a breath. Something unstoppable. Breathe. Sway. Left. Center. Right. Center. Breathe.

Nothing is different. I am me. Sitting here. Working. Breathing. A woman, daughter, wife, lover, friend. Feeling my body's rhythm through music. Feeling my beat as I breathe. I love words, singing, lilies of the valley, blue, twirly skirts, the touch of my husband, and peanut butter on bananas. I wear the same favorite pair of pajama pants to bed, have the same best friend, still love to watch reruns of MASH.

Something unstoppable set into motion. Life. This is the part you cannot anticipate. Life happens. It just moves forward. All the time. With every breath, second, sigh, laugh, tear. Life moves you forward.

Everything's changed. My heart has been broken. Though I thought I knew pain, I thought I knew, on a day in April in 2005, life handed me something else. And the echo of this moment will reverberate through me forever. I can be laying in savasana at the end of a yoga practice far away from all I know. And I can drift into that place of calm and quiet. For a moment I forget I know this pain and nothing is different. But the mind knows what the heart wants to forget, and I am forced to remember. The tears fall. But then today. These words, a different reminder. Through the pain, through the momentum of living in my life, I have found myself.

Something unstoppable set into motion. My shoulders sway from side to side. My arms lift above me. Snap. Sway. Left. Center. Right. Center. Hips move to the left then right. As the rhythm finds me, the words twirl into my heart.

Thank you Paul.

(The first song mentioned above is "Father and Daughter." The second, "Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean." Both can be found on his new CD. iTunes. It's a beautiful thing.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

home and grounded

i spent the weekend away from phones, cell phones, laptops, email, blogging, television, and responsibilities. it was a breath of fresh air. literally as we were tucked away in the woods in oregon. i am still a tiny bit under the weather though i think the fresh air and hot springs did help my ailing bits. i am trying to learn this lesson of doing enough. not doing everything. hmmm. it is not easy.
and even though i have been home for 24 hours, i am not quite in the swing of everything. but wanted to just share that my weekend retreat was incredible. my sangha, the group of people who made it through these two years and were able to attend the retreat, is amazing. these people have opened my mind and heart. i am blessed to know them. and my teacher has such a way with words and ritual and invites us to stretch in ways (literally, spiritually, emotionally, personally) we didn't plan on stretching. i spent time thinking about some things that have really pushed me. and recognizing some incredible gifts i have received over the last two years (and over my life).
one of these is this. during this two year yoga teacher training intensive, i have become grounded in my body. even though my self-esteem is still low when it comes to how i look, i no longer think about it all the time, just some of the time. i have confidence in the ways that my body can move. and i move my body whenever i want, however i want. i feel the strength of my hips and thighs, even if i wish that they were smaller. i feel my body. i feel it. i stand in front of people and feel strong and capable. this is new. and this is huge. an unexpected gift in the midst of this training. i move my body and i do not think about how i look as i move. i simply know i am moving the way i was meant to move. and maybe, just maybe, i can begin to see this as beautiful.

Friday, June 09, 2006

answers (part two) and a little gratitude

A few more answers to the questions you asked last weekend.

michelle asked: Who are your favorite poets and/or writers?
Well, I love William Stafford. And the funny things is, a few months ago I hadn't even heard of him. Now, reading his words continually takes my breath away. If I could only read one writer/poet for the rest of my life it would be him. (And as I listen to the song “Virginia Woolf” for about the thirtieth time today, if I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, it would be this one. Of course, that was not your question…)
I also enjoy May Sarton, Natalie Goldberg, Barbara Kingsolver, Joanne Harris, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris…so many. I have a serious, deep relationship with books and the people who write them, and I am going to write more about this soon.

la vie en rose asked: If you could have tea with 5 poets (living or dead) who would they be?
William Stafford, Marge Piercy, Robert Frost, Hafiz, and May Sarton
(but that is just for today's tea. tomorrow i want to invite Dorothy Parker, Carl Sandburg, Ursula LeGuin, Rumi, and Pablo Neruda.)

Cate asked: Because we all love words so much, I feel like we focus a lot on reading and writing. In a different vein, which visual artists (not sure if that's the right word) inspire you the most? Do you prefer abstract art, photography, sculpture, fabric art, etc?

I am drawn to many different kinds of art. Most of all, I am drawn to the beauty of the world around us and to stories.

Some artists I have loved for years now:
Georgia O’Keefe
Leroy Neiman
Ken Jenkins
Brian Andreas

Some more recent favs:
Nina Bagley
Christine Miller
Misty Mawn
Lynne Perrella
Laini Taylor
(and how the list goes on and on)

This had made me think about putting a list of links to artist's sites on my sidebar. I will do that soon.

Cate also asked: And maybe you've posted about this and I missed it, but how did you meet your husband?
Jon and I both worked at a boarding school back in Indiana. I was a dorm counselor there and he taught physics. My good friend Josh (who was my neighbor across the hall) insisted we have a “game night” and invite Jon and some other colleagues over. We did. Jon and I were partners at Trivial Pursuit and cracked each other up in our super-nervous geeky ways. Then two weeks later I invited him on a date because he was simply too shy to ask me. When he gave me a gift (the book Winter’s Tale) for our first month anniversary (and I hadn’t even remembered or thought to get him anything), I knew he was going to stick around for a little while.

(Susannah dear, your answer is coming. It is a work in progress at the moment.)

A little gratitude:

My grandpa is doing better. Thank you all for your kind words and wishes for him. Earlier this week we had some really scary moments after his surgery. His body did not react well to the anesthesia and we thought we were going to lose him. This forced me to really have some clarity about the realization that we cannot control when another person passes away. Another reminder about how the death of someone else is not about us. Our reaction to it is all about us though. But, he is doing better. Even well enough to call me on my birthday and sing happy birthday to me. He hasn't missed one yet.

Even though I was sick, sick, sick on my birthday, Jon made the day extra special for me. He came home to fix me my favorite lunch (grilled cheese and tomato soup), and he baked me a cake (and even bought a big 3 and a big 0 to put on the cake. seeing that lit 3-0 almost put me over the edge though. hee, hee). He also gave me an iPod nano, using the birthday money my father had given him. As you may recall, his parents gave him an iPod for his birthday and he fought with it for almost the entire Memorial Day weekend. After it started working, he fell in love with it. He didn't want me to miss out on the fun. I love it!

I am feeling a little I will be going to the last weekend of my yoga training (the two-year program). Not sure how I could miss it really; it is like graduation. We are going on a retreat to Breitenbush Hot Springs. Hoping the sauna and hot springs might knock some more of this stuff from my body and help get rid of my wheezing. Though I may spend each yoga practice in savasana.

And I have lived for 30 years. And this feels good, good, good. Thank you for your happy birthday comments and emails! I can't wait to see what happens next...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

under the weather {poetry thursday}

This week’s (completely and totally optional idea) over at Poetry Thursday sounded intriguing. I wish I would have actually left the house this week so I could have had the opportunity to eavesdrop. As I have mentioned before, when I am out in the world, I like to listen in for a glimpse of someone’s story. Who they are. Why people are happy, sad, silly, angry, perplexed, or throwing their head back with laughter. Even though I may not see them again, it gives me a tiny moment to peek into their world. However, this week, I have been sick. In bed, still in my pajamas, not leaving the house sick. And today is not any different.

When I was younger and not feeling well, I used to read Shel Silverstein’s book The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. Do you know that one? I haven’t read it in years, but I pulled it off of my bookshelf this morning. When I did, I saw Where the Sidewalk Ends on the shelf next to it, which reminded me of Silverstein’s poem “Sick.” So I looked that one up. Check it out here. I wish, like Peggy Ann’s symptoms, that this sore throat, sinus pressure, gasping for air a bit because I am wheezing was all an act to get out of something. It isn’t an act though, and I am feeling quite grumpy, so “Mr. Grumpledump’s Song” also seems to fit my mood.

However, because Thursdays have become one of my favorite days since my journey into poetry began, and because I had originally planned to write something inspired by seeing the movie Il Postino (stay tuned, I will still share these thoughts at some point), I will leave you with this gorgeous poem by Hafiz and Daniel Ladinsky.

In A Tree House
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.
Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming a new galaxy
Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.
A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend’s gratuity will come –
O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.
From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.
Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.
He is conducting the affairs
Of the whole universe
While throwing wild parties
In a tree house – on a limb
In your heart.
– Hafiz, version by Daniel Ladinsky
from the book The Subject Tonight Is Love
shared with permission
Enjoy your weekly stroll into the world of poetry...I am going back to bed but will take my laptop so I can blog in bed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

answers (part one)

Thank you all for your questions from Saturday’s post. I have answered several here, and I will answer the rest yet this week. This was lots of fun!

C. Delia asked: do you have any specific adventures, accomplishments, or silly bits of ephemera that you hope to experience before 40 comes along?
Hmmm…am I allowed to admit that this question is the first time I really thought about the fact that I will be 10 years away from 40 soon? Have to take a minute for that one (long pause)…
Okay, I would love to travel—to Europe, Africa, and India. I would love to record a CD of chants (in Sanskrit and in English and maybe even learn some Native American chants as well). I do want to finish a book or two or three and send them off into the world. I would love to build forts with blankets and spend the day under them with my husband and a pile of books and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I hope to begin to make pillows and maybe even quilts eventually with my new sewing machine. I should have it figured out before 40 right? I hope to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I also want to tell the people I love that I love them and why. Over and over again. I would love to swim with the humpback whales but I imagine that one will not happen. Maybe I can at least see them a few more times in Alaska and Hawaii. This question does invite me to want to write an actual list though...things I would actually cross off.

DebR asked: If you could travel to any time in the past—your own past, the recent past, or the ancient past...any time at all!—and spend one day there just as an observer, no one could see you or interact with you, but you could see and hear everything going on around you, when and where would you go? What would you want to see?
This one is hard for me. I keep coming to the idea of watching Jesus after they put the boulder in front of the cave. Watching him to see what happened. That may seem cliché to some, but really, I want to know if what some people are “fighting” about really happened. I would also like to see the pyramids being built or life on the plains when the American Indians were the only people in this country or watch Chagall paint or listen to the Beatles sing live. I would also really want to be in the room with “the founding fathers” when they figured out that second amendment thing.

These two are similar, but I am going to answer each of them because my answers are slightly different based on the subtle differences in the questions.

Marilyn asked: How about this...if you could spend one day being any previous age, what age would you be and how would you spend your day?
I would be the age I was when this picture was taken. I want to be right there helping my mom plant flowers. And I think this was the day when we went to the playground at Marshall School and flew my purple octopus kite. And a family friend encouraged me to be brave enough to slide down the slide (with him helping me). This was conquering a big fear for me; as a little girl, I was afraid of almost all equipment at the playground. But I this day I let a little of that go. If I sit quietly, I can still hear my giggles.

Alexandra asked: You have to live one day over from your past. Which will it be and what will you do differently?
I would live this exact day two years ago. I had the flu. That is not the part I would really want to live over. But this was the last full day I spent with my grandmother. I just wish I would have paid attention to every single moment. She spent part of the day talking with me about her childhood and members of her family. She shared many things I had not known. But I was sick so I wasn’t taking it all in as much as maybe I would have on another day. So, if I had to do it over again, I would journal about the entire experience right away and maybe even ask her if I could write some of it down. I would touch her face and hold her hand. And I would take a nap next to her and cuddle up with her one more time. I thank the universe for the gift of that day though. As I explained in
this post, if I hadn’t gotten sick, I wouldn’t have gotten to spend tomorrow two years ago with her (so this meant I got to see her on my birthday).
On a much lighter note. I would also want to go back to a moment my senior year in high school when I was standing outside Beason Hall (the senior-only “hangout” at my boarding school) looking up in my friend’s face, and he was saying, “don’t look at me like that,” after he had just told me that he was in love with me (oh but never fear he was also dating my good friend’s sister at the time). In that moment, I realized that women do have a bit of magical power when it comes to men. If I had to do it again, I would have kissed him. In a big way. Though I wonder how different my life might have been. Not necessarily with him, so much as my own journey. This one will always just stay a wish, even if the genie comes along and tells me I could go back.

January asked: What in your life gives you your greatest sense of peace?
I love the moment at the end of a yoga class when the students come out of
savasana. They come to a seated position, and I invite them to find their breath again and then to find the space they have created in their body with the awareness of their breath. Then I share a meditation, a chant, a poem, a thought that comes to me as we breathe. The moment right before we say namaste together, that moment gives me great peace.
I also love listening to music. Laying with my head on my husband’s chest listening to him breathe. And the moment in the morning when Millie, our golden, will sometimes climb up onto the bed and put her head on my foot.

bb: How did you begin your relationship with yoga?
I had an opportunity to take some training in yoga back when I lived in Indiana. It was part of my experience working at the boarding school (you might be catching on to the fact that I went to boarding school, then a year out of college I went back and worked at that same boarding school). A yoga teacher from the Boston area was brought in and I had about 60 hours of training with her over a year or so. I started teaching classes at the school. My only experience has really been in viniyoga, so when I knew we were moving out here, I found a teacher who connected me with my teacher who practices viniyoga. And as soon as we arrived, I began the two year teaching training intensive I am finishing up this weekend. (To learn a little more about how yoga has affected me and my philosophy about yoga, visit my “in-progress”

gk girl: What’s your favorite jello color?
I like green. I also really love it when someone layers the red and green together around the holidays. Yum. (since I am sick today, this actually sounds quite good to me right now.)

megg: If I was to have you over for four courses of your very FAVORITE foods and because we were eating together there were no calories or consequences, what would those courses be?
First course: Brie with a cranberry jam and fruit and carmelized walnuts and fresh bread.
Second: A caprese salad with balsamic vinegar and oil dribbled over the top.
Third: Sushi. Wild salmon is my most favorite of all.
Fourth: Mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge sauce.
I hope we have hours to consume this, and I can’t wait for the good conversation and wine that would of course come with this meal right? And when we get done with the ice cream, can we start over with the first course?

Monday, June 05, 2006

on a monday {sunday scribblings}

I am a bit under the weather and don't really feel in the mood for a trip to the past and my earliest memory. However, inspired by Alexandra's post, I have decided to share this today.

When my parents divorced when I was a freshmen in college, I went to therapy. And I stayed in therapy throughout my four years of college. When my therapist asked me to talk about my earliest memories involving my parents, a not-so-delightful memory came to mind immediately. I greatly appreciate that there are people who come to this page who know my parents, and I won't share all the details here out of respect. At the same time, this is about my journey, not about blame. After a conversation over the weekend, I have realized that I have moved through more of my feelings about my parents' divorce and relationship than I thought. I also honor that this is my memory. The other people there would remember this differently. This is how it goes; this is what memory is.

I am three or four and we are sitting at the kitchen table. We always sat in the same seats. My father across from me, my mother to my right. Always the same. When Matthew was born, he sat to my left. We never changed this seating arrangement, ever, the entire time they were together. On this afternoon, after the meal begins, there is an argument about asparagus not being clean. I remember watching them like a tennis match. The yelling. The plate of asparagus ends up getting thrown over my head smashed against the wall behind me. (No one was physically hurt.) My father storms out of the room, the garage door opens, and I hear the car backing into the driveway. My mother cries. She and I pack a suitcase. I remember her saying, "go get seven pairs of underwear." We head toward South Carolina to my grandparents house. About 30 miles down the road, the car begins to make noise and we turn around and go back home. I am sure there is more to the memory, and there are pieces I have chosen not to share. But this is it. A quick understanding by a young child watching the argument develop back and forth. This is how it is to be. An understanding.

This is one piece of an early memory. Other pieces include:

My father reading to me at night. As I get a little older, we begin to take turns reading chapters from The Little House on the Prairie series. I remember the night I tried to use phonics to sound out mosquito.

My mother teaching me to bake chocolate chip cookies. During one of these afternoons, she receives a phone call and I stand on my "kitchen stool" and proceed to eat quite a bit of cookie dough. She doesn't get mad, just laughed.

I remember them each holding this big, red, plastic apple as we would work on me turning my head to look at things because my left eye did not turn to the left. I honor the way they both supported me when they realized my left eye was not "normal." The way they took me to wonderful doctors and never invited me to feel differently, in fact they insisted I was not different. (I wrote more about this here.)

I honor the memories surrounding school and the way they both taught me that reading and writing and thinking outside the box were all important tools to my growth. I have memories about these ideas from the time I started preschool at three.

When I was in therapy, I learned that I had been given a beautiful gift. My memory was that overall, my childhood was a good one. Even though my parents' marriage had its challenges and they would eventually go through an ugly divorce, I knew I was loved. A blessing in the midst of a bit of hell.

Now, I navigate the waters of an adult relationship with my parents. After challenges and miscommunication and hurt feelings on all sides, I am able to separate my relationship with each of them and honor that we all do the best we can.

My father was always "larger than life" to me. When my grandmother died last year, after my mother called to tell me, the first person I called was my father. I just wanted to hear my daddy's voice. And even though she was my mother's mother and they hadn't particularly liked one another, my father cried with me on the phone. Throughout my journey across the country to the funeral and the few days I was there, he checked in with me to see that I was okay. I glimpsed a side of him I hadn't really known. He had lost his father and the grandmother he was close to when he was younger than I am now, and his brother died of cancer in 2002. He knew this journey of grief. I just never knew he would be the one to give me support during those initial days of shock and deep pain. Writing here has given me a new dimension to my relationship with my father that has been an unexpected gift. He is able to see a side of me that I didn't share with many people over these last (almost) thirty years.

My mother and I can have some incredible conversations that have given me insight into her journey. In the last year, I have had this somewhat obvious realization that as children, we were once all attached to our mothers. Literally. This has given me some space to realize why mother-child relationships can have so many layers. She was my age when I was born. This blows my mind a bit. And I recognize that she had hopes and dreams for herself that probably did not involve my brother and me. Just as I am on a journey that does not currently include children, she was once looking at life just like I do now. I am blessed to have moments when my mother and I can talk and she gets it.

As I navigate the waters of an adult relationship with my parents, I am reminded that I am blessed. All the memories, twists and turns on my path, have brought me here to this moment. Something wonderful is afoot in my life. A change that I cannot quite articulate yet. I would not be here without all that I have seen, heard, lived. This is where I am meant to be. So I invite a letting go of any guilt from all sides. Take a breath. And live in your life. We are all in the place we are meant to be. We just have to recognize that.

Link to other bloggers earliest memories

Saturday, June 03, 2006

a few little odds and ends

In the comments from my last post, Sky wrote, "letting go of your need to control judgments can sometimes free you in significant ways." Oh my this is huge. Yes. This is it. I keep reading this aloud so it will sink into me. Really sink in. Thank you. The control piece is a big part of my journey. I don't want someone not to like me; I just want them to know I am doing the best I can even if they don't like what I am doing. But I have to own the parts that are about me, and let go of the parts that are about them. I am going to continue to let this one twirl around in my mind and reflect on the issue of control in my life.

This morning, my grandfather fell and broke his hip. Shit. All I can say about this is shit. He has been without my grandmother for a little over a year and has been adjusting to being alone and this happens. And I can only imagine how alone he feels. He fell in the garage. In his neighborhood in South Carolina, most people have a carport so the garage does not have a door. He had his keys in his hand and kept setting off the car alarm panic button; turning it off, then on again, and so on. Some young man he has never met, living three streets over, kept hearing it. He decided to jump in the car and investigate. And he found my dear grandpa in pain on the floor of the garage. Bless his soul from the hair on his head to his toes. Thank you sir, whomever you are. (Gramps has surgery in the morning. Hopefully all will go well and he will be home in a few weeks, self-sufficient again. But life is unpredictable. I take a breath and do what I can from here. And I also admit that somehow this brings up my sadness about missing my grandmother and how she is supposed to be here. Silly...maybe even selfish. But true.)

I was on the phone with a dear friend this morning and my husband motioned me to come outside. In our little sideyard a foxglove is blooming! Last summer, a friend gave me some "extra" plants from her garden. And now a foxglove is blooming. This is amazing. I was just telling Letha that I love foxgloves. Hee, hee. Now I have one. Wondrous.

And I am off to Portland this afternoon for a girls night with some friends. I cannot wait. The blessing of laughter and poetry reading and good food and silliness in the midst of all of it.

Finally, I would like to "borrow" an idea from Michelle. I spill of myself here quite a bit and sometimes wonder, "do these people who stop by have anything they wish they knew about me?" Do questions come to mind as you visit my corner of the world? If so, leave them in the comments and I will answer them when I get back from my quick trip down to Portland. From the serious to the truly silly...I will answer them.

Friday, June 02, 2006

quiet, sleepy thoughts

oh i am sleepy this morning. another quiet, self-reflective friday. a little melancholy mixed with happiness mixed with not enough sleep because of excitement that turns into a little reflecting pool.

i cannot believe i will be 30 next wednesday. in my day-to-day life i do not usually talk about my birthday; i don't tell people about it. and to be honest, my birthdays have never been all that super special. not that they have been awful...just not all that exciting (though my parents did throw me a decadent 14th birthday party - a surprise with 6 friends from school. though one friend, of course, told me about it; i always acted like i did not know. it was delightfully fun and at a club my parents belonged to so we had to dress up and all that fun stuff. kind of wish for one of those parties again. the surprise feels so you thought no one really understood that all you ever want is a little party just for you. but then they do). but something about coming to this space and writing from my heart invites me to talk about it. i mean, i am turning 30. i know i am "young" but 30 is that age that seemed so very old 15 years ago. 30. i am excited as i have this image of waving good-bye to my twenties. bye bye crazy decade, bye bye. i am ready to own my body, my skin, my truth, the knowledge within me, and i feel like my thirties will bring me more of that (as will the decades after that of course). yet i cannot believe i will be 30. i also cannot believe that this will be the second birthday where my grandmother will not call to ask the magic question, "do you feel older today?"

i am wrestling with something. the idea that when you need to move away from something in your life, for reasons that are personal, and you want to act with integrity, there are sometimes things that you do not share. you do not want to hurt another person if you do not have to. who wants to hurt another person? you understand that the decision is about you, and even though it may affect others, it is a decision you need to make for yourself. yet, the other person/people will not understand. this is the way of it, right? the cycle of human communication and relationship. i am referring to a specific instance and just a pattern in my life all at the same time.

as i approach this new decade and the idea that i want to live in my life, really live in it, i am trying to become "the observer of myself." watching what i do and examining it. trying to let go of self-judgement and seeing it all for what it is. and what it is, is me. a person with feelings, emotions, a heart, a soul. a person doing the best i can. a person trying to notice the patterns and learn from them. and one pattern is that i can give of myself so much that i forget who i am. i can get sucked into a relationship, a job, a friendship where i am a support system for someone and that person sees me as a support system and thinks "liz is so strong" and doesn't see that i need support too. i do not believe this is an intentional response, it just happens. and i think sometimes the other person feels like "oh good! someone to help me with my challenges, someone to listen, someone to care about what i think and need and want."

i respect that people have these needs because i have these needs as well. but i am not strong enough to hold it all up. to listen and brainstorm but not hear, "how are you?" to drop everything when i am needed but not have anyone to talk to in my moments of need. to give all of my good ideas away (well, this one made me laugh out loud. there are always more good ideas, but hopefully you understand what i mean). and because of this pattern, when i feel like the pattern is starting again, when people hurts my feelings and i try to tell them in a gentle way to help them see it and not invite defensiveness, but people brush me off for whatever reason, i begin to back away. i know this pattern because i know myself.

see, the thing is, i am the one who lets this pattern happen. it is me. and i realize that i can't always back away. i need to try to set the boundaries. step up to that challenge even though it can be hard. i need to sit in the quiet i always invite others to sit in, and really listen to my heart and what it needs and wants. i need to realize that the reaction another has is about that person; my reaction is about me. and i also need to realize that not every relationship that develops this pattern has to say in this pattern.

i struggle with figuring out how to tell someone how i am feeling because my experience has been that people do not want to know. they take it through their filters and make it whatever they want. the defensiveness and confusion sets in, even if what you have to share is small and is your truth. it is interesting. i wish we could let our open hearts guide us without bruising one another. i wish we could listen to other people's needs and hear them for what they are. i wish i could do some things over again.

but all i can do is face the next chapter with my open heart and do the best i can. because really, that is what we all try to do.