Heart of the Universe

Oh Heart,

Can you take me there?

To the still; to the quiet.

To the place that speaks the silence.

To the soul that reaches for strength.

Through the wisps and whispers of the leaves.

Oh Heart,

Can you take me there?

To the edge of the forest.

With the valley languidly in view.

Through the tall stalks of bamboo.

To the center of my heart.

Oh Heart,

Return me to you.

Through the softening and the ease

Through the rocks and hills and soil.

To the place that knows me best.

To the Heart of the Universe.

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Being of Service

The world is full of possibilities to be “of service”.  Just open up the newspaper or your newsfeed and one story after another will make you want to open up your heart…….and your checkbook.  During this very difficult period that we, as a collective society are traversing, I have spent a lot of time wandering around the creases and folds of my being, searching for answers.  More succinctly, searching for “my” answers.  In attempting to answer those questions, I have come up with the following conclusion…….it’s different for everyone. So, with that in mind, I am listing a few thoughts that might help someone else find out best where there answer might reside.

Flattery could get you nowhere. Being approached for a “service” opportunity does not necessarily mean it will be appreciated.  Check in with your “heart of hearts” and see if the opportunity speaks directly to you.  If it does, go for it!  Don’t let anything get in your way of helping, assisting and generally getting your hands dirty.  It’s good for the soul, your own sense of self respect and someone else’s mission.  However, if the opportunity doesn’t resonate deep within you, gently decline and walk away.  I can assure you there will be more requests where that came from.

Hitching a ride on the “Guilt Train.”  If you have a sneaky feeling that someone is attempting to guilt you into doing something for the “greater good”, they probably are.  Don’t make any sudden movements.  Breathe deep, realize what is happening and find an opportunity to give that doesn’t involve making yourself feel bad to make someone else feel better.

Servitude is NOT being of Service.  Getting a little distance from a situation, even if it’s been a mess and blown up in your face as well as all over your clothes, will give you the insight that you just may have been used.  And it’s ok.  Any loving, giving, kind hearted person has been there.  Some situations hurt more than others – usually because we were unable or unwilling to see the wolf in sheeps clothing.  The take away from these types of situations is this – at least you did something.  Yes, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted but it turned out the way YOU needed it to.  We are given the lesson until we learn the lesson.

If you have to make yourself smaller in order to give – it ain’t giving. The feeling that the situation or person that you’re giving to is just so much more important than you are is mostly a smoke screen.  There ARE important venues and values that are very worthy of your efforts – but they shouldn’t be making you to feel small.  Healthy giving opportunities raise everyone up, not just the recipient.  If you are feeling like a “minion”, yeah you guessed it, you’re probably being perceived as one.

“Give, but give until it hurts.”  Mother Teresa.  Giving, even in the most purely authentic ways, can damage the giver.  It is wise for each one of us to check-in with ourselves, getting very quiet, and realize what are limits are.  You may need to take a break from being a “giver.” And it’s ok.  That break may last years.  And it’s ok.  I can assure you, there will be many opportunities to give of yourself. Time and time again.  The act of giving is best served in Joy – not in obligation.

Include yourself.  There may be long stretches of time that giving to others is just not an option.  We all have a right and a responsibility to handle our own lives.  Sometimes, that means a period of self reflection is warranted before any additional “outflow” can occur.  If the well dries up, the possibility of water doesn’t exist.  Fill-up your own soul, whatever non-malicious way that means for you, before you go trying to fill someone else’s heart. Giving while in a state of resentment, lack or anything less than whole heartedness isn’t just unwise, it’s a crime against oneself. Perhaps you may want to look at it this way; if you take the time to truly give to yourself, you are not the only recipient of your graciousness.  Everyone you touch, talk with, work for or love will be the beneficiary of that grace.  You will not be able to contain it.  It will seep out of your pores and encompass those that you hold most dear.

And then, you will be ready to give again.

 

 

Stones in the Road

As I was wandering around in the ethers between the dream world and reality this morning, I caught a glimpse of a photo I had taken while I was in New Mexico staying at Ghost Ranch this past January. The image was of a beautifully calm, snow covered space with boulders haphazardly laid out, not by man, but by the hand that created them.

Over the course of a few hours, I realized that the symbolism of that photo was very much speaking to what I am working through at this very moment. I have wide open vistas behind and before me. Without complete trust of my intuition, skills and wisdom, I tend to plant obstacles in my way. Sometimes these obstacles are due to not trusting my own voice, sometimes a longing to have someone along for the ride even if they make it way more bumpy than it needs to be and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a fear of prosperity.

The fear of prosperity – although crazy as it sounds – can be a limiting factor when it comes to an abundant life filled with grace. We can hold off prosperity for a number of different reasons. I am going to list mine so that it not only becomes clear to me but may touch on something you have inside as well.

1. I don’t deserve prosperity. For me, I don’t go to the place that I’m not good enough as a person. I go to the place where I haven’t worked hard enough, long enough. My work isn’t evolved enough……..enough, enough, enough. All of those beliefs, once taken in and set to root can be MORE than enough to stall the engine of a tank!! When we, as creative, aware individuals are placing our best foot forward everyday, we are worthy of the grace that comes from our process.

2. I can’t be trusted with my own prosperity. I was raised by parents who had the ability to spend their way through next months mortgage payment. They bought big, shiny Cadillacs and yet had very little money in which to do it. I realized through my childhood and into my 20’s that I, too, could not be trusted with money. I had no plan, no budget and very little reality for what the consequences were to my actions. At 29, I divorced my comfortable yet agonizing life and set foot into the real world. Since that time, I have proven to myself that not only can I be trusted with prosperity, I can celebrate those around who are creating abundance and prosperity as well.

3. Some company is better than no company. Oh, how we all want to belong, be loved and generally be included. A wonderful gift of this life is to be part of other peoples lives and truly be able to create rich, intimate friendships. However, some folks just aren’t meant to have a hand in your prosperity. Sometimes, it’s best to do it alone or limit the hands that have the power to form and control your path. One trusted friend is worth 1,000 intentions.

4. What if I can’t create anything beautiful anymore? This is just fear based, monkey mind bull shit. If I am creating from an authentic space within myself, for myself, whatever I create will be a representation of my essence. Agreeing to this fixed consideration is probably the biggest obstacle to creativity that I am aware of. A place of scarcity that few artists can ever come back from once they decide their best work is behind them.

5. My intuition, wisdom and experience isn’t deep enough. Holy Hell!! Just writing this makes me want to bust out laughing! I’m not always right, or perfect or the most experienced person in the world – but nobody, and I mean nobody, knows me better than I know myself. Anyone who makes you question your own deep knowledge of yourself deserves the swift kick out the door that you are just dying to give them. Emotional terrorists and bullies will prey on those who constantly question or doubt themselves. When you’re dealing with one of those, if you are awake and aware, you just feel it in your gut. When you do – Stop, Drop everything and RUN like the wind away from them.

This whole, painfully beautiful, poignant life is just waiting for us to discover it. There will be always be obstacles that can get in our way, some meant to slow us down, some transplanted from others and some that we dug with our very own shovel. The magic trick is to simply recognize who, what, where, when and how they got there; acknowledge their existence and then to take time to decide whether they are worthy of our time and consideration or if it’s just simply time to release them as yesterdays foibles.

Be gentle with yourself and you will attract others that will be gentle with you as well ❤️

Fumbling toward the Light

I couldn’t sleep.  Between dead ass drooling REM sleep, I woke up almost every hour, slightly confused about what planet I was on and wondering why my eyes were wide open.  It started feeling like I was missing something; something important that I just couldn’t quite reach.  Did I miss paying a bill?  Did I forget to return a call?  So, realizing that my window of opportunity for slumbering was past, I got up, made a cup of coffee and checked my phone.

On my messenger app, there were a few unread messages.  They came in while I was sleeping, searching for what I was missing while dreaming.  In the dream I was at a trade show, looking for my art and my husband, but all I could find was mechanical equipment.  Nothing at all that pertained to me.  I was trying to make myself fit in, to align with someone or something.  But it wasn’t working.  I was moving toward anxiety and worry – I couldn’t find my phone to call my husband and I was just about to move into full blown panic……….when I woke.

What in the hell was I searching for???  As the coffee was brewing, I read the messages that had been waiting for me.  Of the four messages, two of them were funny animal videos and two of them wrapped around my heart and held me close.  The first one was an article, sent by my incredible art studio mate, Cathryn Cooper, entitled “New Neuroscience reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make you Happy, written by Eric Barker.  I will tell you right now, it is definitely worth the read. You can find it at http://www.theladders.com.  The second message was from a very sweet friend who relayed a moment of her day when she and her boss were talking about the possibility that some people are truly angels and the conversation made her think of me.  Heart squeezed…….tears alight.

Both of these messages woke me up in different ways with a profound sense of gratitude.  You see, I bet we can all focus on what isn’t working in our world.  What doesn’t quite fit, what we don’t have, what we can’t do, who doesn’t like us……the negative world can just be endless.  I get so focused on daily, weekly and damn it, life long achievements, I don’t usually take time to see the wake and the ripples behind me.  So this is the crux of the matter for me and what I was so doggedly searching for last night……………..

Just Be the Light

There are times and situations in my life where my light wasn’t shining bright enough for someone else.  Or my light was covered by my own dark moments. Or someone misconstrued my intentions – or I reached out and shone my light on the wrong situations, the wrong people, through a desperate need to belong in places I didn’t need to belong!  For that, and so many other times, I am truly sorry.  I am a beautifully imperfect, flawed, messy individual.  However, my attempts to shine my light have also been noticed, appreciated and in ways that I am forever grateful, given back to me.  That’s the message – just simply be the Light.  Be the Light for the person in front of you, for yourself, for your art, for the world.  This does not preclude dark moments – that is part of this tattered beauty of  reality.  But to be a part of the light, any tiny amount, brings us up out of the darkness.

Today is another day, another opportunity, another chance to Be the Light.  May it be so.

A Feast for the Spirit

A Feast for the Spirit

There are times in everyone’s life where an experience may not live up to all that we wanted it to be and yet, with enough distance and perspective, it is exactly what we needed. There have been so many unexpected events that have occurred during this trip – too many to bore you with – but I wanted to share an incredible event that I could have never imagined possible.

If you don’t know, the type of ceramic work that I create is based on the time honored traditions of the Pueblo Indians. Specifically, Maria Martinez of the San Ildefonso Pueblo. Her rich black, burnished surfaces of hand built work continues to inspire and entrance me. To be able to view her work in person while in Santa Fe is like breathing in the past and feeling the love and passion for the work wash over me and into the future.

I, along with my husband, students and staff from Ghost Ranch, attended Feast Day at San Ildefonso on the last day of our trip. It is a time to honor all the gifts that have been given to the tribe throughout the year and is celebrated with tribal dances, music, singing and, well, feasting. It has been said that if you are invited into one of the homes to join in their offerings you must not refuse; to decline such an invitation would be incredibly rude. To my utter astonishment and delight, through my pottery mentor, Clarence Cruz, we were invited into the Martinez home to share in their bounty of green Chile stew, red Chile stew, enchiladas, prune pie, fresh baked bread from the Orno and, and, and……….

As I entered the home, to say that I was humbled and awestruck would be a GINORMOUS understatement. I sat there, transfixed as I, along with Clarence, Rikki and my husband were led to a table and served. My first thought, I should be serving them! I should be telling them what a profound influence their Grandmother had on me as a person and an artist. I wanted to shout out from the rooftop how grateful I was to be allowed in their home to share this precious, precious moment with them. And yet, as I sat there, I physically restrained my enthusiasm and muted it into reverence for the food and the company. I thanked them nothing short of twenty times all the while having a silly, girl like grin on my face and wondering if they could see me bursting inside with gratitude and excitement.

It wasn’t until later that day, while I was sitting in front of the Labyrinth at the ranch and relaying the story to one of the students that I began to cry. Weeping for the chance to be a part of such a special moment, to be able to present with it, to embrace it.

My life has forever been changed by my time at Ghost Ranch and the opportunities that I have received and been able to experience. All of the other stuff that happens along the way is simply just transitory, temporary and nothing to hold on to.

This moment…………well, that was worth the price of admission.

Stardust and Light

A couple of nights ago, I was fortunate enough to see the New Mexico night sky as I had never witnessed it before. A night when the sky, with barely a Moon in sight, was full of stardust. It was as if a giant bowl was turned toward earth and all of the planets and stars were spilling luminescence over everything they touched.

I went to a place on the ranch where I could safely lay down, look up and become shrouded in the metamorphic deep, dark, brilliant space of the never ending night sky. Have you ever seen something so beautiful, so ethereal and touched by the divine, that it physically caused pain within your body? Such a gift from a governing heart.

As I walked dreamily to bed, filled with all things of inky lushness, I decided I wanted to wake early to see the transition from night to dawn. I will tell you right now, it was worth the brevity of my sleep and dreams.

From moment to moment I was chasing the fading of the night and the birth of the morning, hoping for just one more moment of magnificence to carry my spirit into another day. One more chance to inhale the ending and look toward the beginning.

Wondering around since this event, I have been trying to figure out the lesson, looking for the message in all of this. There must be something I could retrieve from such beauty, such transition, so routine for the natural world and yet so transformative for me. And then, without warning, it became clear: everything must end and yet, with the sadness of this, there is this undeniable eagerness for another beginning. Another chance to love, to create, to be present in my life for the transitions that are coming to us all.

No matter where I go from here, I go there taking these memories of stardust and light with me. Without the light of the moon, the stars can shine. With the Sun comes another chance for us to shine.

Ode to Joy

For each person in our lives, there seems to be an emotional “meter”. A certain amount of emotion that we can expend for one another. When we feel tapped out or drained, usually it’s due to over giving, while not holding enough in the container to feed and support ourselves.

I have this vision that each emotion is a tiny little seedling. With the exchange of support between two people, the sprout grows; tended and cultivated it can result into a blessing of a harvest, the basket always full, always multiplying . A solo dance with the life giving force headed in only one direction creates depletion and the meter runs low. At some point, that blessed tank hits empty. Good luck attempting to manufacture anymore. The seedling dries up, curling into itself and gently blowing away like the last puffs of smoke from a busted muffler. Unless balance is restored, the relationship is doomed to end up in the trash bin of misery and discontent. The capacity for love, understanding, acknowledgment, compassion and kindness are seeds of fortune just as stark in contrast to the seeds of discontent, judgment, violence, hatred and greed.

An Native American elder explained to his grandson that we all have a dark wolf and a light wolf living within us. When the grandson asked which will one will win the battle, the Grandfather replied, “the one you feed.” So it is with our emotional and spiritual lives. We will always be challenged by others as well as our dark side; to be less than we are, to fall into judgment, to take more than we give. To be conscious of our ways marks the delineation point between our reactionary dark side and the light of awareness. Whether are thoughts and actions are from being fully awake or sleepwalking, we are making a choice with every touch, every turn, every word, every deed.

Allowing others to find freedom, even if it means we lose them; allowing yourself to find joy in your everyday life is no small feat. Yes, it’s scary…….but the lighter your touch, the more gentle your grip on the steering wheel, the more freedom we give ourselves to just breathe, the more room there will be for Joy ❤️