Monday, July 29, 2013

Starting This New Day

"The mind turns. the thoughts churn. those old familiar tunes re-play themselves over and over in my stubborn head." Marcie Scudder

We begin each new day, each new activity, each attempt to love what is, with where we are. It may feel just like yesterday, but if we look close enough, it isn't precisely the same. That tune that sounds so familiar is slightly different.  I like to look out the window near my computer and meditate on who I am right at the beginning of a new day. This morning, it turns out I'm in hangover from the emotional overload of the weekend. I feel a bit like this:

If I'd paid attention, really paid attention to the tune in my head, I never would have decided to charge into a computer problem that seems to interfere with readers leaving comments. I only recently found out google+ might be the culprit, and I want to opt out, so of course I googled for directions on how to do that. Not such a good choice. I immediately came to this fork in the road. "I understand that deleting the service can't be undone and data I delete can't be restored." With a click of the button I can "remove selected services," but what am I removing? It's too early in the morning to make such a commitment. Today I'm not an armored knight. Actually I need a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, I definitely need more selected services and I haven't had breakfast.

It's easy enough to decide not to deal with google+ on an empty stomach and a too full head, and maybe one of you can find me on Facebook and tell me how to do it. For now,  I'm getting a glass of lemon water and a cheese stick so I can continue to write and get my sugar level up a bit. OK, I hear you. Maybe not a cheese stick.

My yoga teacher advises me to remember I'm not asking for perfection. I only need to make space in my body to listen. She suggests I breathe. I close my eyes and concentrate on my breath. Maybe I'll put myself in this mountain scene. This is a photo of hike into Lake Winnemucca I took last weekend. You could sit here for a bit while I breathe.

While I breathe, I focus on the in and out of my breath, and then the thought came that I should call an old friend and ask for her help. I thanked the thought and went back to focus on my breath. "Just this," a mantra I used in the past came next. "Just this moment. Just this step. Just this one thing." Yes. I thank the thought and go back to following my breath. Next in my mind I'm doing the sun salutation. After decades as a yoga student, I haven't practiced the asanas in months. In my mind as I go through the steps I am rusty, but the thought comes, "trust your muscle memory." Yes. It's where I need to be today. For today I need to trust just this. Trust just this breath. Trust just this feeling. Move from moment to moment, because as we all know, moment to moment is all we have anyway. Perhaps I should have continued to meditate longer, I wish I had, but for now it is a good starting place for my day.

So here I am. I've shown up for the day and I've made space for my body to listen and begin to pay attention, to play this new tune louder than the old static trying to take over but lower in volume now. "Trust just his moment."I choose this intention to take me into my day for now, knowing I may slip away, knowing I can come back, knowing I have muscle memory for this thought too.

Baruch ata prayers the last few nights have been simple ones. "Help!"Today I start with the prayer to trust myself to stay in the present moment. Please help me stay in the present moment, thanking my other thoughts for their opinions, but trusting where I need to be is with just this one thought, just this one moment, just this one step. It's not an easy practice. Help. Amen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creating Space to Grow

Last week I weeded shelves in my studio and spent the rest of the day unsentimentally clearing the debris left on the floor into giveaway and throwaway boxes. The bones of my shelves are labeled boxes are nicely and generously organized. Anything that can't be defined so I just might have a chance of finding it again is gone. I have created space to grow. I no longer need to push away mess to begin anew. I've framed and displayed some of my little ladies, and I'm ready to head in a new direction art wise.

I learn in my studio that overgrowth scares me. Being lost scares me, and simplifying and letting go help deal with those fears. It's a tidy process. I just ended the previous sentence by saying, "...but it's not so much like life." Then I began to wonder if it could hold the key to what's on my mind now. Can beliefs be so readily categorized and dealt with?

As I set my intention for the coming week, I acknowledge in my out of studio life, I am a bit lost, but a lot found. Just because I'm scared, doesn't mean I have to duck and cover. It doesn't mean I'm back at the beginning again. It doesn't mean anything but what I attach to it. You may not know what I'm talking about, but you can look inside and check out where in your life you are a bit lost and a lot found. That's just where I am. Old beliefs are seductive, but they aren't working. I am at a junction. I'm letting go of expectations for myself and am letting go of expecting others to change or not change, and for today, around this one issue that's thrown me, I'm going to try something just to get me going. I'm creating a bag for old beliefs I want to get rid of and one for beliefs worth saving.

I take a deep breath. There is work to do today. I take a deep breath. This is where I am at the present moment. I need to make space in my body now. I need to box up and let go what doesn't serve now. I need to re-pattern myself. I need to return to my heart center and give my brain a break.

Baruch ata adonai...everything I'm doing supports and opens me to trust myself. May I be patient and generous with myself and others as I clear and allow myself space to grow. Amen

Monday, July 15, 2013

One, Two, Three, Jump.

"I love a broad margin to my life." Thoreau

In the past, I've written of the need for less dense paragraphs and wider margins in my life. Then I'm either ensnarled within the sticky but compelling dark inner workings of my psyche or in an effort not to think about that, doing much too much in the outer world. After being in neutral the past few weeks, doing not too much of anything at the cabin and most recently having my family up for a super weekend of kayaking, rock climbing and eating, a wonderful expanse of time devoted to watching my grandchildren stretch themselves in the mountains, I'm ready to pick up the bits of me that gave me so much pleasure during the winter.

Today I feel a gnawing inside. I've enjoyed almost continual reading the past few weeks and now I'm tired of being immersed in the lives of others; I feel that enjoyment turning into avoidance of what I need to get back to. Painting is hard work for me, until it turns the corner into total pleasure and discovery. Today I need to get back to the challenge part of painting so I can reclaim the wonderful aha of the passage from toil to delight which is a turn in the bend, of course, just before feeling lost and then found again. Today the need to start is far greater than the need to go to the bookstore and find a lovely saga of 650 pages that will put me on the couch for a marathon of page turning.

I feel about this big today. About as big as my tiny three year old granddaughter talking with my labradoodle, Gracie. There I am, and there is my easel looming in front of me, much much bigger than I.

I wanted to show you how I'm looking in my various "Our Lady of Possibilities" guises, but then I remembered before I post any of my original work, I'm going to learn how to watermark. I'll learn that today!

Baruch ata adonai...starting up again offers the blessings of challenge and acceptance, of tending to my soul and tending to the bits of me that start yammering and stamping their feet and demanding attention, just like any seven year old. May I be gentle with myself. Amen

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Settling into Neutral

Most mornings I am out in my kayak or on the trail before water skiers shatter the silence and roil the water, before bundled up fishermen hunkered on bench seats troll for a limit of trout, before the light glints the graceful arc of a fly fisherman's line. Just to sight the eagle sitting on a tree top, or furry merganser babies following their mother single file or a pair of talkative geese with a gosling or two brings me intense meditative pleasure. Cabin days are slow and meandering: lots of reading, eating, lots of sitting on the deck doing what could pass for nothing. It is just this solitude, just this lassitude that isn't boredom or weariness, that brings me to neutral, to being who I am when I'm not an artist, not a mother, not a wife, not a grandmother, not a friend, not a striver, not challenging myself, not thinking, not looking to be all I can be.

For ten days I've let myself be and pushed back thoughts that I should be doing something else. It is taking a lot faith in myself to just be, to let hours while away without anything to show for them except books read, meals planned and eaten, conversations with friends. I believe I will begin to paint, to draw, to decide if I want to pursue my card making again, and yet this doing nothing much, this tolerating a long inner silence, a lack of pushing myself, a lack of a story to tell myself, that feels right, that feels like what I must trust.

Now I'm home for a few days and am challenging myself to maintain faith in my decision to let myself be. There is so much to do at home. There is my easel and paints. There is an appointment at a boutique to make and keep. There are piles of wash. There are cards sitting in stores that I should check on, and yet, these are perfect summer days. The suffocating summer heat of the valley seems over for now. I've loved allowing myself to read for hours which I haven't done all year and have just broken out another mystery and a book group selection. When we return to the mountains Thursday, the scene will be very different. My children and grandchildren and their friends will be coming for the weekend. I'll love being a mother, a grandmother, love sharing the joys of nature with my busy grandchildren, and I'll be looking within myself to see how I'm doing.

Baruch ata adonai...hold my hand as I test the difference between drifting aimlessly, fearful I'll tip into ennui, and just being. I don't know much about just being. I know about planning and being purposeful and doing. Yes. Yes, I hear you. Just trust. Just be. Amen