Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Giving Light to the Blur of Life

"It seems we run our lives like trains, speeding along a track laid down by others, going so fast that what we pass blurs on by....The truth is that blurring something is not the same as experiencing it." Mark Nepo

I've done a lot of wonderful things so far this year and we're off again for a few days. Yosemite National Park, three hours from our home, is a world apart. Though it's often packed with travelers, its beauty surpasses most of my desire that everyone else would stay just home. I've been going there since I was a kid and memories of being there as a child, then as a mother, and now again being there as a couple, we went there for a few days during our honeymoon, layer in my heart. Click on this site and imagine I'm living in this miracle for the next few days. http://www.terragalleria.com/photos/?keyword=yosemite-winter

Nevertheless...all those wonderful things come to be and pass quickly. I just closed my eyes and slowed down through the Palm Springs Film Festival, my aunt's ninetieth birthday party in Oregon, my trip to Mexico. I realize that when each event has passed, I move on to the next new thing and don't go back and savor each one again and again. Living in the present moment is an imperative in my life, yet looking back, living in the present moment can feel like being on a speeding train. I'm present with each experience each day, or that's my goal, and then the train moves on. And the years move on. Big fast blurrrrrrrrrrr!

I don't know how to resolve this conundrum. I love my life at home, the dailiness of it, the length of the days. I'm a curious person, and there is so much in this world to taste and smell and see, so much to experience. It isn't that I don't want to miss anything, and there's not much in my past I wish I hadn't done, and I know I'm not alone in this experience, and yet day by day and year by year the train speeds on. That's life: savor and move on. Hold out my tongue and taste the snow. Know I've been so very lucky.

Baruch ata adonai...thank you for health and stamina and the joy of experiencing so much of life. Thank you for the luck of my birth in a country and at a time when so much is possible. Thank you for giving me the gift of observing as I move along. Sometimes I think it must be quite okay not to be so much of a processor, and you've given me this gift along with so much else. I honor it. Thank you for friends and family and of course for Gracie. Amen

Monday, February 25, 2013

For Email Recipients of Morning Prayer Blog

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Shedding Light

"Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of tis lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don't forget when you leave why you came." Adlai E. Stevenson

I was thinking about quiet and serenity this morning. I just finished reading "A Creative Companion" by Sark, a book that has lived on my book shelf, barely touched, for twenty years. I purchased it at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite and tomorrow we're going to Yosemite for three days. Don't you love serendipitous moments! She has a quote by Frederick Frank where he says "A non-creative environment is one that constantly bombards us, overloads our switchboard with noise and vitriol.... Find a way of "inscape" of "centering,"the same environment becomes creative again."

Saturday and most of Sunday I turned off my computer and low and behold, blessed quiet and a slow down of incoming thoughts made me feel centered and quiet and creative inside. But when I turned it back on, I was like a savage who hadn't eaten for days. I've got to continue to work on this! I read messages and answered messages and then searched for blogs I hadn't read and then there was Facebook. Not much quiet after all that! Don't even think about centering on drawing with all that noise and clutter. All of which brought me to Adlai and the part of this quote I like,".... don't forget when you leave why you came." I'm pasting this to my computer and on my studio desk.

Why do we come to spend time painting or drawing or writing or reading or being alone or for that matter going to Facebook? I'm always quite clear about why I sit down to write first thing in the morning: to set the tone for my day and clean up my act if that's the way it seems to be going. I come to writing to find out who I am and if the me that shows up isn't someone I want to deal with, I find that out too. I'm not always so clear about why I sit down to draw. Is it to create something joyfully new or to prove I can't create what I want. Today when I start drawing, I'll ask the question: why have I come to do this today. It's a way of inscape.

Baruch ata adonai...thank you for this new thought, this new way of entering whatever I do. Today may I remember to ask myself why I've come to eat for example or to call a friend or to draw. I think If I know why I've come, I will be easier on myself and have more enjoyment in whatever I do. Amen

Friday, February 22, 2013

Turn on the Light

"I think the real artists are too busy with just being and growing and acting (on canvas or however) like themselves to worry about the end. The end will be what it will be. The object is intense living, fulfillment: the great happiness in creation." Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Just before Valentines's Day I drew some very spontaneous cards and put polka dots all over them. They were oozing with joy and so much fun to do. Yesterday when I complained to a friend who received one of these cards that I was starting a lot of stuff and not creating much of anything, she nearly spanked me. Now that I'm intense about creating a line of cards I can market, it isn't going so well.

It has taken until just now to recognize I've been here before. How could it take so long? It's such a familiar spot. I've been acting like someone who's stuck. I need to start acting more like my joyful creative self who is having fun and willing to have no idea where I'm going. I definitely need to lighten up, put on some great music, dance a little, start with a big stack of card stock and abandon myself. I've learned this lesson over and over. Why do I need to start off by getting stuck in trying-too-hard-land again? Because that seems to be my process. If I don't create with joy, I grind my gears. Back to polka dots.

Baruch ata adonai...what a wonderful way to start the day. I've looked in the mirror and understood once again the reason I thought I was stuck. I have a couple of ideas of how to start in a new way, and it's only seven AM. Thanks for leading me to the light. Amen

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shine Some Light on Those What-ifs

"Your desire is your prayer. Picture the fulfillment of your desire now and feel its reality and you will experience the joy of the unanswered prayer." Dr. Joseph Murphy

I think I've used this quote before. It's taped to my computer and it's taped the desk where I draw. I believe in this quote, and yet today, I know I've got a lot of what-if thinking between me and believing the possibility of attaining my desire. Maybe I don't want it enough, yet. Maybe I've got to wade through the swamp grass first. What if someone presented it to me on a golden platter? Would I say a hearty "YES!"or would I ask to think about it for awhile?

I close my eyes and picture Denise laughing and working and being the great hostess in her shared studio near her home outside Boston. It is my takeaway dream from Mexico. But how can I have a rented studio when I have no income stream? How can I have a studio when I can work in my small studio at home, the one that is the walk way between the kitchen and the garden, the one where I can't leave anything out, the one where I have to rearrange the shelves when I shift projects. What would I be saying about myself if I had a studio outside my home? What pressure would I feel to produce so I could cover expenses? What if I didn't like my partners? What if I let it sit there all alone for days on end? Do I really need someplace to go to draw, to paint, to create anything at all? Isn't right here at home in my home studio however limited the best place for now?

Wow! I've pretty well nailed the wet blanket all over that dream! So, that seems to be the first step in dreaming this dream! Now that I've got that out of my system, and I hope it's all out, what if I started picturing the fulfillment of my desire and felt its reality, even felt and pictured the cards I'm developing all finished and sales taking off...but wait. I'm feeling little buds of winglets already. I've never really thought about this dream much before right now. What if I did picture where I wanted it to be and who would be there? Maybe my wings would start flapping away.

Baruch ata adonai...do I want this enough to make it happen or am I just being grandiose? Well, before I talk to you more about it, I want to make sure I really want this. I just better make sure, because I can feel the seductive pull of its reality as I sit here. I'm so glad you are here around me. I imagine you covering your mouth to hide your chuckle. Have a good day. Amen

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Try on the Light of Self-Acceptance

"Everything in the universe wants to be loved and accepted. Our personal work is to find the love and acceptance within ourselves." Shakti Gawain, Living in the Light

Well, isn't that the truth. I'm guessing you've been working on this your entire life. Because we are all unfolding and growing and facing new challenges and changes brought on by growing older and older and older, we have the opportunity to check the truth of Shaki's quote all our lives. While still in bed this morning I could see in my mind's eye where Living in the Light, once lived on my book shelf. The book is no longer there, but I've put in the newsletter tab a link to the revised edition of this book which you can read online.

So how much loving yourself are you doing? And how much accepting? There's the kind of accepting that starts off like this," I've always been like this and I'll never ever change." OR, "He/she's always been like that and will never change." Not so fast. How about the kind of acceptance where you say, "Today this is how I'm feeling." Then step beside yourself and say, "I'm going to ask you again tomorrow and see if it's still true because from my point of view, you're being unfair to yourself." Check in with yourself every day first thing before your judgmental self has gotten a foothold. See what happens.

There are many parts of ourselves we're not too fond of from time to time, and sometimes we're especially hard on ourselves. How about letting that little lonely unloved self speak to you, and then listen. Is it asking,"Why don't you love me?" Does it need some love and encouragement to take the next step away from fear and into the light?

Baruch ata adonai...what a journey life is and how much easier it is during the light of day, during the season where light starts early and leaves late. Yesterday I checked out pricing of cards, and today I feel like a big load has been lifted. What in the world was I afraid about? Well, it's gone now. I'm glad I shed some light on that. Amen

Email readers: If you receive my morning prayer blog by email, click on the title. On my computer it is in blue. So click on the title of this post, Try on the Light of Self-Acceptance, and it will bring you to my blog. There you will find a place to comment which is quite an easy process, a list of books that inspire me, and if you click on the Newsletter section, you'll find a list of things that don't fit in the blog. Give it a try. Barbara

Monday, February 18, 2013

May I Have the Courage to Share My Light

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love.
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
John O'Donohue

Last night at six in the evening it was still light out, and this seemed like a miracle to me. This morning there is sunshine. It's only mid February and minute by minute the days are expanding and the trees continue to blossom even more noticeably since last week. Soon, daffodils. The earth awakens from a long sleep and creation is on the upswing. Every year as I emerge from winter into the light, I feel as if I'm seeing it all for the first time.

Yesterday we went to the mountains to watch our grandchildren ski, and it was a glorious day of sunshine and observing children overcome fear and resistance as they sped down the hill and came to an abrupt stop just a few feet from me. They were delighted with themselves. There is a freedom and openness that accompanies light. We expand, believe in ourselves.

For several years I've been drawing cards I send to friends. For at least a year I've wanted to learn how to get them copied commercially in a way that makes them affordable and retains the energy of the original. I don't know how to do this and as I read the stanza from the John O'Donohue poem, I realized I've been postponing a dream, because I have a whole set of what-if fears in place. If you have experience in this area, please share it with me. There must be someplace online that does a bang up job. For today, I think I'll take a big step of courage and bring them to Kinkos as a place to start.

Baruch ata adonai...I don't know just what I came here for. Maybe I will never know. Maybe I need to assume each thing I do is what I was put here to do. May I have the courage to live a life of bravery and gutsiness. Thank you for the blessing of renewed health. May I have the courage to fearlessly share my light with others and to assure my "what-ifs" that I will protect them from their worst fears. Amen

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let Your Little Light Shine

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity....Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."  Melody Beattie

"Mental sunshine will cause the flowers of peace, happiness, and prosperity to grow upon the face of the Earth. Be a creator of mental sunshine." Graffiti on a wall in Berkeley, California

The best gift I gave myself this week was to turn my mind toward being grateful. I'm grateful a lot, but when I was reeling from not feeling well in Mexico, when I felt stuck in a state of ennui, I made the move. It was effortless, and you don't have to do anything to improve your outlook either except to thank people in your life. Yes, even your dog counts. Good things have been happening all week and yesterday I won a drawing for a hand quilted Valentine wall hanging. You can say, "no thanks" to lots of things. I do it every day. No thanks to those people who require me to say hello a second time when they call and then seem surprised I'm on the phone and pronounce my name wrong. No thanks to confusion, no thanks to negativity, my own or that of others. Saying yes to yourself starts with recognizing others. Thanking them for what they do for you. Soon you'll be thanking yourself too. This miracle is so simple it's hard to credit it for the change you'll feel. Your situation in life might not change, but you will feel better, more at ease within yourself.

Please tell me your story. Read the stories in the Newsletter tab on my blog. Read the comments left this week. Not too many, but you could change that. Tell me how gratitude has unlocked fullness for you this week.

Baruch ata adonai...I am feeling much better physically. I am thankful for the people in my life who have helped me this week: excellent body workers, healers who have taken care of me for years, artists who willingly share their talents, a friend who brought me a special book last night, another who thanked me for listening to her. I've gone from feeling sorry for myself to feeling creative, strong, and peaceful. Yahooooo adonai, yahooo! Amen

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Gratitude Experiment

"It is easy to thank God for life when things are going well. But life is much bigger than we give it credit for, and much of the time it's harder than we would like. It's a package deal, though." Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow

A year and a half ago, a friend and I agreed to send each other three brief statements of gratitude each day. I've written about this before, and today I want to encourage you to do the same thing. Do it with a friend, or do it in the comment section of each day's morning prayer blog, or please do it both ways. Check the Newsletter tab in my blog too. It is my intention to fill it with your stories and make it a source for learning so we all incorporate more gratitude in our lives.

Yesterday I didn't have too many people in my life but here's how sharing gratitude went. First there was Gracie. We exchanged licks. Well, figuratively. Then my husband. No licks but a kiss and a thank you being in my life. I thanked my Pilates teacher for her close attention to details that make my workout more valuable to me. I wrote to a dear friend I haven't heard from in awhile and received a lovely email filled with love in return. Hours later I went to my film club which is always fun. In the course of a conversation with one friend, I said thank you. I wonder if she heard it or wondered why I said it. I was just so thankful to be having the conversation with her, I blurted it out. Another friend and I had a very intimate sharing amidst the din of many other conversations about health and the need to have friends who are our health advocates. We both felt enriched by it.

This morning I woke up and decided I need to continue practicing gratitude for the rest of the week, and I hope you will too. It's easy to do for one day, but the point is to incorporate it so that it isn't something we must remember to do but something we eagerly anticipate doing to fill our well and the wells of others too.

Baruch ata adonai...I eagerly look forward to this day. Waking up again today with gratitude on my mind has me anticipating a wonderful day. It's just a word, but within the word are layers of feelings and intentions and untold gifts. Thank you for your presence in my life. Amen

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gratitude Lights Up Our Lives

"Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you. They are all your teachers, each doing just the right things to help you learn perfect patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion." Jack Kornfield, Buddha's Little Instruction Book"

How can I ignore a word like gratitude when it pops up in my still sleepy mind first thing in the morning? I was thinking of the day a few weeks ago when I challenged myself to remember to say thank you three times to see how that might change my outlook on my day. And, big surprise, it did. I started off with Gracie, my labradoodle. I'm always grateful for her first-thing-in-the-morning in my face enthusiasm. Whether I feel great or not, whether I'm needy or not, she still is so happy to show her joy in seeing me.

What if today, just for one day, I imagined every person in the world is enlightened, each person I meet can help me on my way, and what if I imagined the very thing they need to continue sharing their light is my gratitude. What if I smiled a thank you. What if I said how glad I am to see them. What if I reached out to someone I haven't heard from in awhile and thanked for being in my life. Would that count? I'm making up the rules, and I say, "yes. I will do that.

Would you be willing to try this too and let me know how it works for you?

Baurch ata adonai...I am so grateful to feel better today. Yesterday I did the three things I said I would and each little thing I did felt like a mountain I'd successfully climbed. Today, different challenges, but I'm not far enough away from doing nothing to take anything for granted. Thank you for being my embracing safe haven as I step into each day. Amen

Monday, February 11, 2013

Giving up Lethargy

"So in your days, when feeling narrow and needing to broaden, when feeling less and needing to deepen, put down what seems certain and reach for what seems clear. Know you are a sun rising and falling along a tenuous horizon, like all the suns before you, strung between forces that both enlarge and shrink your sense of life. It is a beautifully difficult set of tensions that only those blessed to be alive can experience." Mark Nepo, Finding Inner Courage

During the past week of laying low, of healing from changes in time, culture, health, sore ribs and a sense of missing something I so looked forward to, I felt lethargy set in. Though I was better in every way, it was hard to channel enthusiasm, to set up a new art endeavor, to get my mind and body moving. I felt like I was hauling a great weight, but that's only in my mind. Yesterday we visited our son and grandchildren and the demands of three children seven and under are immediate, urgent and fun. I think I'm closer to taking charge of my life.

This morning it seems clear I must go for a walk, start a new art project and find something for dinner I'll enjoy cooking. I need to rise up and know I'm blessed to be alive and experience living again.

Baruch ata adonai...I feel as though I'm being reborn, as though there is something I need to know that isn't quite formed enough for me to hold on to. I think I'm coming back to best self. I hope so. Amen

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Shift that Makes Us Whole

"We often look but don't see until something shifts how we experience the world. Then, the basic habit of our understanding is altered; shattered or expanded, broken apart or open, turned upside down or reduced to the beginning. We call this a paradigm shift. We dread and yet need these unexpected moments to return us to the hidden wholeness in which all things are connected. " Mark Nepo, As Far As the Heart Can See

I've always loved the way travel forces a paradigm shift. When I'm adrift in an unknown language, unfamiliar customs and trying to figure out how to do something basic like find a bathroom, I'm teetering on my own ability to change the way I understand the world. When I'm in a world that forces me to make changes, I am freed of any conception that the way I understand the world makes any difference at all, and in that moment I have been changed in a fundamental way that can't be unchanged, and I'm more whole within myself.

Baruch ata adonai...thank you for creating in me the ability to be curious and adventurous in my life. As I get older, I'm often less willing to challenge the way I see the world and especially the possibilities I see for myself. I don't need or want to have my world turned upside down, but if it happens, please hold my hand and remind me I have everything it takes to move on. Amen

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gifts of Healing

When I'm ill, I learn patience. Once I dance around the thought that one day I might not get better, then I remember it takes time to heal. In Mexico, I experienced a trifecta of bodily woe, and day by day I'm getting better, and I'm enjoying doing things I haven't taken time to do in awhile: read a book for hours at a time, slow down, sit in my garden and enjoy the sunshine. I'm also observing, not for the first time, how much will power it takes to resume habits that sustain me. After a week of squeezing prayer writing into snatched moments of time, I'm finally up and writing first thing in the morning. It takes practice to restart even good habits. Same thing with exercise. After a break, it always takes me days and days to get back to a pace that sustains me.

Baruch ata adonai...thank you for bringing me to health again. I will enjoy the next few days of not being quite well enough to give up reading books and sitting in the sunshine! And why give those up at all. I must incorporate these in my daily life and give up something else, like checking email quite so often! You are with me like a beating heart and I am grateful. Amen

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fainting Got My Attention

January was a whirlwind of travel: the Palm Springs Film Festival, my aunt's 90th birthday celebration, painting in Mexico. Each part was wonderful and taken all together, each only separated by days, it was way too much for me. Until I was brought up short at the mask museum, I had forgotten about my energy body.

Years ago when I practiced Aikido I was very aware of energy fields around me and could feel the integration and collision of my energy with that of others. One day I walked into a rock museum in Mt. Shasta and turned around and walked out. The energy of the place was overwhelming and toxic for me. By the time I sat in the mask museum, I'd forgotten about that phase of my life and was no longer attentive to the impact of energy.

Hundreds of masks lined the walls of each small room. The owner proudly described how he collected them over the years and how each had been in a ceremony. Each had lots of spiritual energy built into it. I wasn't there for long before I was very uncomfortable. I'd had a fairly debilitating cold all week, but that was improving, and then sitting listening to a speaker talk about folk culture, I fainted.

It could have been dehydration, the warm room, the elevation, the dry air, some sort of a heart event. It took me days to realize I had been totally inattentive to myself. I'd made all my plans way ahead of time, so when each event occurred, I just opened the folder, took out the plane tickets and followed the plan I'd set in motion months before. Lots of motion. Lots of getting on and off planes in different states and climates. Lots of being totally unaware of the impact on me.

Baruch ata adonai...I am so relieved to be home: home in my house and home in my body. I will give myself lots of white margins. I will bring back into my life more awareness, intention and grounding. Thank you for keeping me safe and for putting in my path an event which brought my attention back to the fundamentals of my well being. Amen

Friday, February 1, 2013

Forget About Taking Things Personally

"When you refuse to take things personally, you avoid many upsets in your life. Your feelings of anger, jealousy--and even your sadness--will simply disappear if you don't take things personally." The Four Assumptions Cards

Oh this is so easy to say, and while I'm typing this I'm thinking of all the pain taking things personally has caused in my life. I think some people are only too happy to share their pain all over us and expect us to do something for them or feel less than if we can't create a cure. As for me, taking care of my own life is really all I can handle, and I do much better if I remember that. I make a fatal assumption if I assume I can understand what's going on in the inside of the people in my life, especially those closest to me.

On the healing front, after a crisis yesterday, dehydration, I think I'm turning the corner on this cold. And just in time. I hope I can get some painting done and then hit the streets in this gorgeous place.

Baruch ata adonai...I am so grateful for the women on this trip. They have been a great support and have had dehydrating drinks, homeopathics, kind words, to help me as I heal. Others have had health crises also. We are here for each other. What a gift. Thank you. Amen