Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lost Words : Reward!

I don't know where my words are. It seems they've gone into hibernation since experiencing true winter weather. I do recognize that I have long periods where I almost can't contain the thoughts and words and feelings that want to flow out of me into the ear of whoever will listen. And then I fold into myself to recharge. Things are simmering in this head of mine. I'm reading more and listening to the world around me, but not finding the words yet.  

So what do I do when my words are missing? 

I'm growing sprouts (or is that sprouting sprouts?). 

Puzzling over puzzles.

Trying out new crochet projects.

Playing mad scientist with my juicer.
This one I call "The Hot Shot"

Well, there you have it. I've been staying in a lot recovering from a cold and apparently acting like a grandma (crocheting AND puzzles??).  If any of you see a big gang of words causing trouble and starting grammar wars, please send them back to me. I will crochet you a beanie as a reward!

And my beanie's are rather awesome...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bees Knees

How do Bees work? And do they have knees? Let's find out this week with our Podclub pick from...

Check back on friday to see what we thought and hopefully a few things we learned.

Friday, January 25, 2013

High Rise Stories

I love hearing stories. This American Life was the hook that grabbed me out of regular life and into the world of storytelling a few years ago. I don't know what I did before that.  Oh ya, I watched movies and read books (which I still do but now with a heavy dose of podcasts in that rotation). Not all who tell their stories are good at it. Some are flat our boring while others have lifted it to an art form all it's own. David Sedaris is clearly the Picasso of storytelling... or do you prefer Monet? Rembrant? Turner? Degas? Cassatt? Whichever you prefer, there are people out there who could sell ice to an Eskimo with the way they know how to turn a phrase. 

What came to mind as I listened to these specific stories about how we deceive ourselves and others was how easy it is. We concoct the most elaborate stories about things. It can start small but we know how to build and build on top of that first teensy deception until what we have is a sky high rise of a tale. And we take tours of the elaborate towers built by others. We gasp at the beauty and the magnificent architecture without realizing it's all smoke and mirrors.

Be deliberate with your words and know that the people within earshot might be taking what you say as truth. Be deliberate with your hearing and know that what you hear may not be factual. It may be a story beautifully told and you should fully appreciate it as such, but always find out for yourself.

I have no doubt you'll love what Jill has to say about this week's Podcast pick.  It feels good to be back into our regular weekly sharing of podcasts. If you'd like to join in it's pretty easy! Listen along and comment if you'd like to. 

If you want to listen to the podcast we chose this week, you can find it HERE.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

White Sage Smudging Ritual

I've never burned Sage in any sort of cleansing ritual before. Today I found two small bundles of White Sage had found their way into my shopping basket at the local natural market. I blame the "Face Melter" shot I had just downed at the juice counter. Cayenne makes one do brave things.  

My apartment is a place of peace for me no matter what is happening in my life or in the world at large. Since returning from my two week trip it's felt "off" though. It doesn't help that I'm sick with something that makes my nose run faster than the leaky faucet in my kitchen. I've wanted to try cleansing with Sage before but didn't know the proper way to go about it.

And I still dont...

After a quick search online for smudging advice I decided to just do what felt right for me. In the end, I think that's probably the most important thing in any meaningful ceremony or ritual.  What works for me may not feel right for you, but it might give you inspiration on how to get started.

Whether or not you believe in the power of such rituals, you can't deny the power of our thoughts and the outward actions that cement those thoughts in our daily lives.  You don't have to burn sage or say anything out loud. You could light a single candle and write down some of the positive things you want to bring into focus.

I'm still stuffed up and foggy headed but the peace has returned and the light smoky scent of White Sage reminds me of the power of my own positive thoughts. 

Do you have any special smudging ritual tips? Any favorite types of Sage? I'm open to advice for next time as I plan on making this a regular practice.

As the sun set, I brought out a candle and a beautiful shell I found on the beach. After setting these simple items on a small stool in front of my window, I lit the candle and touched the sage to the flame. It began to smoke lightly. I carried it through the rooms of my home saying out loud "This is a place of peace and love. No negativity or sickness are allowed here". I made sure to outline each doorway and window before setting the sage back on the shell to smolder out. I was quiet for a few minutes as I watched darkness fall outside. My windows were left slightly open so that all the negative energy would have a way to escape as I'm sure it did in the overwhelming presence of such focused positivity.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let Go and Live the Moment

"We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed or whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn't have any fresh air. There's no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience."

I'm still making my way through When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (third time). Last night I was struck by this passage about how we suck the life out of our experiences by trying to control them. Take some time to think about this today. What are some of your most precious memories? Did they come from a carefully planned out and controlled approach or were they spontaneous and full of wonder, surprise and magic? 

Have you experienced any magical moments lately? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Three Kinds of Deception

It's been a few weeks since we've had our Podclub fun. After busy holidays and wrangling the new year into submission, we can now continue with the little things that bring us more joy than should be allowed for free.  Just Jill and I have been missing our official weekly meeting of the ears.

What better way to start off than with my favorite Podcast: This American Life?! The answer is, there is no better way. So here it is....Listen now and report back this Friday!  

A story of self-deception, a story about deceiving others, and a story about accidental deception. And how one type of deception can easily turn into another

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hermit the Blog

The new year began outside my comfort zone. I planned it that way and I'm so glad that I did. You see, I am a Hermit. I love my home. I love the safety of my daily habits. You might call me less than social. I can spend days on my own and feel just fine about it and yet I know that the really enriching times in life don't usually happen solo. I know it, but I rarely make myself do things outside what I consider comfortable and safe for me.

For two weeks I was with family up in the freezing north pole.  Okay okay not the north pole technically...Washington State felt like it had inched up a bit since I lived there. Maybe Canada lost weight? So there I was, cold and out of my element. I spent time in four different homes with four different families (yes Jill I consider you and your kitties a family) and their very different ways of doing things. I did my best to embrace each day and it's various activities and challenges and I found that the days flew by because I was having so much fun! 

I learned a lot about what I'm capable of and what life holds for me when I take a break from my regular Hermatic existence. I had more wonderful conversations that I can count. I ran into old friends and extended family. Relationships were strengthened and wonderful memories were made. If I'd stayed home, I would have been just fine but none of this could have happened if I had. 

So now you know the truth. I'm a Hermit and I'm not ashamed of it! However, I will be making sure to venture out of my shell more often. If I don't, I'll be missing out on special moments like these:

Junie B. and Me

Little Dancers

Just Jill and Just Me Actually
Back together at last!

My talented sister, Leah a.ka. Soft Spiral

Stacy, my wonderful and amazing sister (in law)
and her little Juniper. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Window Seat

I had a strange experience on my flight leaving L.A. two weeks ago. I sat looking out as we climbed above the clouds. My usual methods of distraction remained tucked under the seat in front of me as I soaked in the sight of mountains becoming mole-hills and lakes reduced to puddles below.  My heart overflowed with how beautiful and simple it all was way up there.  I had been pondering how to work through some difficult things going on in my world. Things that seemed just too hard, too big for me to figure out and work through.  And I thought to myself, it doesn't have to be so big, so hard.

Perspective is an amazing tool. We can learn to see what is really happening without the shading of the stories we tell ourselves. What is the big picture? What are the facts? If I can reduce situations down to just the bare bones truth, often I learn that my own personal mountains have been minimized as if I've climbed to a safe altitude.

The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. 

It's now safe to move about the cabin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moving The Air Around

and half of learning to play is learning what not to play
                   and she's learning the spaces she leaves have their own things to say
and she's trying to sing just enough so that the air around her moves
and make music like mercy that gives what it is and has nothing to prove
she crawls out on a limb and begins to build her home
and it's enough just to look around and to know that she's not alone

-Ani DiFranco

Last night the wind rattled my window mercilessly.  I fought for sleep even as it whistled through the cracks and into my mind. When I was a child in this little town, the wind would uproot trees in the night. We'd wake to a terrorized landscape of tangled roots and strewn garbage. If I could take a picture of my thoughts, they would surely look the same today. 

But I'm not a little girl anymore. I know that the wind creates space for new growth. The gusts that are the fiercest, the ones that are the hardest to withstand, are the ones that take the old with them when they go leaving only new ground.

What will I plant when this windstorm dies down?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Permission To Fail

Prints by Dutson

One of my New Year's Intentions is to fail more. What? Fail? (gasp...the horrors).  

Yes, I need to fail. So many times I refuse to even try something new because of that fear of failure. What if I royally mess up in front of people I respect? What if I'm not good at it? What if? Well, so far this has meant a life of carefully choosing only those things I am fairly certain I can do well. 

My sister-in law is going back to school. She was nervous, of course. We sat drinking tea discussing the first day of class and for once I realized that I couldn't just give the usual pep talk "You'll be great! I'm sure you'll make lots of friends and get good grades and have a blast!". Isn't this what we do for each other? We don't give room to fail and so many of us don't even begin. I looked her in the eye and just said "There's a good chance you won't finish. We can't rule out the possibility that you could fail at this. But does that mean it's not worth trying?". The truth is that no matter what the outcome, we will all be proud of her and love her.  

The light bulb moment was when I realized I don't offer this permission to myself. 

This year I want to be brave like my sister-in-law. I want to do something that gives me butterflies in  my stomach. I have to know that the more things I try to do, the more failures I'll rack up. I want to be proud of the failures.  They show that I'm living a life unafraid of what others might think of me, and more importantly, what I might think of myself.

Let's all give ourselves permission to fail. We can look at the failures as proof of a life well lived. We can hold them up like trophies and say "Look! I did something I was scared to do!". 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And Through The Woods

Days like this are few. You know the ones...the memory of these days stick when so many others fall away. Before today, I had met my Grandma only once as a young child. It's been over 25 years since that Easter and I wasn't quite sure what I would find.

An old house met me with a "Beware of Dog" sign in the window. My Grandma has no pets. 

We sat on "the davenport" and took pictures together and talked like we'd never been apart. I examined her face for glimpses of my own but mostly saw myself in her tenacity and straightforward manner. 

Standing on the upright piano, a photo of her as a young girl looked out at us with eyes that didn't know yet the struggle she would eventually face. Grandma asked if I played the piano. She used to give lessons and I caught myself wishing I had been one of her students. I pecked out a song I remember from my short lived lesson. "Would you like to hear me play?" she asked. Grandma's hands are gnarled and broken, stiff with age and arthritis. She wears a neck brace all day long and spends most of the time in bed. How could she play this old piano?

Waltzes. She loves walzes and her favorite song to play is "For Eloise" as it's labeled in her songbook. Her perfectly self painted fingers moved across the keys as if they knew not what time had done to them. 

And now I know my Grandma. I can't change the way things happened. I can't wish away the years of misunderstanding and hard feelings. None of it was up to me. But now it is. Now I can say I sat with my Grandma as she played and laughed and cursed a stray B Flat. I rummaged through her yarn and took a few skeins mostly just so I could say "Oh yes, I made this with yarn my Grandma Shirley gave me".  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Room For Healing

"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."

-Pema Chodron

Here I am at the start again. Every year a new beginning for the world. We all resolve to do better, be better, make huge changes. This year we will work on ourselves and by next year everything will be so different. We cling to the hope that this year, this year we will find happiness and leave the darkness behind us forever. How many days does it take for it all to fall apart again? Or is it mere hours? 

Last year I found a book that changed the way I approach these thoughts of wanting permanent change. So much energy goes into wanting things to be other than they are and so much suffering comes from the wanting. Slowly the words of Pema Chodron seeped in as I read her book When Things Fall Apart. I read through it twice over the course of 2012 and yesterday I started at the beginning again. New portions are showing more depth to me this time around. The section above resonated with me especially as I look ahead to a year full of .... full of what? I can't know. You can't know. All we can do is make room in our hearts and minds for all of it. The pain, the wonderment, the joy, the failure: it's all coming and we can't control anything but our own reaction, or non-reaction, to it all. 

What if we make room for every day as it comes? What if every day was an opportunity to start fresh?

Can we make every day New Year's Day?

(And yes, I realize I asked why we can't make Christmas Day every day and this does mean we have to combine holidays and make every day Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Two holidays are better than one right?)