I remember reading an interview by Mary Oliver who was talking about her writing Muse. She would be out walking in the woods and the Muse would suddenly strike; the words were floating in her head so quickly that she would have to run back as fast as she could and put them to paper before they flew out into the ethers and be lost forever. The story struck me when I read it because I had experienced the same thing from time to time. I would wonder, having missed chances to pay physical witness to the thoughts escaping my stream of consciousness that those precious baubles were lost forever. And, sometimes, they were. And sometimes, they would come back around because I was the one chosen to deliver that particular message, on that particular speck of time dust in this ever turning world we call our own. It is in the spirit of returning that I offer this.
If breaths make up moments and days make up weeks which eventually are all packaged up into a life, what gift have we made? What gift for ourselves, for our humanity, for our people? Have we left them with a gift of untold care and blessings? Or, have we played the game of “living” so well that people look upon us and mention the phrases, “Bless her heart”, “that’s so sad” or “she could have been something”?
As I sit here at 5:45 am on a chilly late May morning, woken by my Muse who I haven’t recognized in nearly a month, I am struck by this moment, among other seemingly mundane moments. A moment of the mountainscape revealing herself once again; of the seemingly endless bird sounds creating the soundtrack of their morning rapture and of my mind, words and heart coming together in a brief moment of recognition of the present moment. The “now” and the “before” and of futures not needing attention or worry. Just the breath and sounds and state of my heart. Just the warm mug of coffee and the cold glass table top beckoning my senses to step into another day filled with all things just as mundane, and yet, just as temporary, undulating and precious as a rain drop on parched earth.
If you are in a place of pain, I encourage you to turn and stare at it down “between” the eyes. Taking your “unseeing” physical eye and see it for what it is. Temporary. If you are confusion, take a deep cleansing breath and feel the movement produced by a sure, unconscious pattern that your body makes when it inhales and then lets it all go. If you are in a place of love and reverence, BE with it. Roll in it. Get dirty, muddy and blissful with it, allowing every ounce of it to make its mark on your skin.
Sitting with pain can be the easy part. It can be as natural and normal as first light. But, my friends, it is in the luscious, abundant good times that we can question our worthiness to the moment. Stop it. Don’t do it. Let it wash over you like a lover’s touch that has long been absent. Like the soft, caressed breeze of a new morning sky. Like the last gasp of your heart yearning for safety. For if we don’t acknowledge and wrap our arms around the beauty that Life HAS offered, why would it have any interest in returning to us once again?
If we are unwilling to acknowledge and bow to the unbidden gifts from our lives, we will be unable to encourage more of them. We will be numb to lightness and always look for the dark to return. Honestly, almost willing it to so that we can sit in our self righteous stupor and ask for more of the same.
Feel the enraptured spirit of Joy unbound, if only for the briefest of time. Now, after you have, think about this. What if we could transfer that moment into a day? What if we could recognize the light just a touch more than the dark? What if we finally decided to receive the gifts that we have longed for as long as we have been alive? Imagine what that would bring to the door. Recognition, acknowledgement, reverence, love and limitless light. And though we know it’s temporary, I can assure you it will return.
A few days ago, I was asked in jest whether I had been sleeping around because I sure was getting a lot of press and recognition for the gallery and myself. I rolled my shoulders back and responded with clarity and kindness and moved on with my day; but the comment struck deep and I finally realized that it was partly true.
Like many small business owners, for the past year I have had my hands all over mine. In early April of last year, as I stood alone in the gallery that encompassed my heart, I had to make a decision whether I was all done or all in. I worked, worried, loved and ensconced myself with the act of coming through this surreal time with a beautiful space that could welcome the weary eyed and bring light to their life; and for the most part I’ve been pretty successful.
As the jest drove me deeper toward introspection I decided to come up with a list of items that I have slinked around with, both day and night and I am finally ready to confess.
I slept with my Integrity; waking up each morning and checking to make sure I was standing deep within it. My own integrity, answering to my own standards and acting from a place of clarity.
I slept with my intentions to consider the angles and undercurrents; those misguided and needing reflection and repair.
I slept with my big dreams of a prosperous art business where the work that I created and those I represented were loved and supported.
I slept with my concerns and hopefully woke to discernment and direction for exactly how to work them to a place of calm decisiveness.
I slept with my husband and my dogs knowing when morning came I would feel comforted and blessed.
I slept with a clear conscious that I did my damn level best at every given opportunity and if I didn’t, I awoke with the full intent to be a better person than I was the day before.
I went to bed with the beautiful mantra that I am thankful for what I’ve been given but also for what I could give.
You see, I’ve been sleeping around like crazy and I do not feel one ounce of guilt or shame. I am imperfect, crookedly self critical and committed to taking responsibility to the life I am incredibly blessed to call my own.
So, dear one, I have been sleeping around the Universe and back again and the best part is, I’m still faithful and slap full of wild abandoned joy to my Life and my calling.
What will you do when the world goes to seed? When all of your hopes and dreams have been nudged into reality; when all of your fears are finally laid to rest.
Will you dwell within the confines of this world or will you be elevated to the space between? The space between your breath and your heart; To the moment inserted where the before and after dance; To the place where the pause is more urgent than the forging.
I can look back on my life and know that I have not honored this most sacred of places. I have allowed the “what’s next” drug of choice to encapsulate my well traveled bones and push me swiftly to run past my accomplishments and head long toward another goal, another challenge, another learning curve.
As a creator, I soulfully know that “a creator must create.” But what if, as a collective, we shifted our perspective on what that actually means. What if creating space meant that we saw it as our angelic obligation to allow ourselves to breathe between the finish line of one race and the start of another. What if we imagined a flow of still points that encompassed our lives as much as our ladders of success. What if, my lovely ones, we took it within ourselves as a form of our highest good to believe that everyone is doing the very best they can and that the “very best” shifts moment to moment and from inhale to exhale.
With suspicion running rampant like a tornado across Kansas, there needs to be a time where all goes quiet. A place where a breath can simply be a breath; a step forward is a loving act of kindness and judgment is left behind in the trash barrel of things no longer required.
I simply must believe that this world exists. For without it, we are doomed to frolic in our co-misery of this life and relegate light, breath and space to the confines of illusion.
Be kind. Think the best of those around you and when you look in the mirror and see the person shining back at you, tell them once and then again toward eternity……
I see you, I believe in you and I fucking adore you ❤️
This vintage, yet timeless song by Buffalo Springfield keeps playing in my head…… “Something strange is happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear; there’s a man with a gun over there; telling me I got to beware…….”
With the electric ride that we called 2020, most of us breathed a deep, purifying sense of relief when it came to a close. With eyes bleary, weary and wild, we were able to crawl through the tattered passage way of that shared experience into a new year with the hope of a 5 year old on Christmas morning that the package we were about to unwrap was destined to fulfill all of our wishes and dreams.
But, Life doesn’t have a way of working out like our fantasies and, taken with an occasional glass of Prosecco, that’s ok. There will always be events outside of our control, that being the one truth that we can always hang our hat on. We are temporary beings of stardust and water; attached indelibly to the deep sky, the ocean and the earth.
But, what about those things that we can control? With a year stock full of electric slides, roller coasters, dark tunnels and disease, our reactive “buttons” are on ALL of the time. Collectively and individually we are dancing around the next drama, the next disappointment, the next wildfire. And so it seems many of us have taken this blistering and turned it outward. From holding tight through a pandemic we have gotten used to the drama. Waiting for the next stupid quote to flame about, the next riot for justice or another cause that needs “causing”, we have collectively gotten “juiced” by it all. And, my friends, we are close to being broken.
Our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits look like a prize fighter after the 15th round of shared brutality.
And what are we doing with all of this pain? Some of us are lashing out within our sphere of family and friends; making others wrong to deflect the intense pain, loneliness and dysfunction they feel within. Others are inflicting the pain inward, always wondering what they could have done better to be better. And some of the magical folk are simply holding the Light, quietly and sometimes secretly, breathing through the impulse to react and instead giving space and time between so as to respond with kindness and compassion.
I am not here to tell you what to do, all I am here to say is this; Kindness is a religion I can support. If we are truly, as a community, to get through to the light we need to occasionally drop the butter knife we hold to each others heart and just be kind. For a breath, for a moment, for an hour or a day. Each step along the way will help with the transition away from our new shared habit of sparks and flares of fire toward a resting state of love, thoughtfulness and caring for each other.
I was young and at the beginning of what was to be a nearly 30 year career as a Massage Therapist. I had been seeing a lovely German woman for quite sometime when, during one session she told me of an experience that she had while living and working as a bank teller in Germany during the height of World War II.
At the time of her story she was young as well. Perhaps in her mid 20’s and feeling the freedom that came along with being out on her own for the first time. She was unmarried, employed and feeling like her life was just beginning.
When she spoke about that time it was with a mix of joy and anxiety. She lived about two miles from one of the largest concentration camps and the talk was uneasy around town about what the German army was doing out there. She told me that everyone in town received a pamphlet. It explained to the fine, hardworking German people exactly what they needed to know. The concentration camps were for anyone who committed a crime. Anyone, including the native population could be sent there. She went on to say that if, upon being found guilty, you would be taken to the camp for a period of time to “concentrate” on your transgressions and then be released back into civilized society once you made reparations for those crimes.
Nothing was said about the thickened, sooty sky; the trains with disused, dirty humans packed in like over proved bread. It was all very simply put to them and they chose to believe it. They actually wanted to believe it. Each needing desperately to hold onto some semblance of normalcy in a increasingly dangerous and debris filled world.
She spoke to me of this while she was in her late 70’s and pondering what she, one small, simple, unadorned German civilian could have done about this. It wasn’t until the camps were liberated that the truth of what was happening came rushing forth like a flash flood in a hot, dry canyon bed. By that time, she had left the country and found safety in this beautiful country of ours. She lived a long, healthy life and while I lost touch with her years ago, I continue to honor her memory and her story as one of the most profound things anyone has ever shared with me.
On this day, and the last few that have passed, I am reminded once again how the public, even our fine Republic of the Free, can find it’s way to overlooking horror for safety; turning our heads from violence for the sake of certainty and letting children run amok in war paint and horns and all the while saying everything is fine.
We are all waging this war in different ways, most of them at odds with one another. My plea for kindness will be unwavering and my determination to stay present with gratitude in my heart for everyday will never be finished.
I just thought this was a story worth remembering.
One day, when my daughter was around 8, we sent her off to clean her own room without assistance from us. For 30 minutes we heard crying and yowling from behind her closed door. For 30 minutes we resisted the temptation to open up that door and either give her harsh words as a parent or break down ourselves and help her.
Finally, everything got very, very quiet. Bob and I looked at one another, thinking for a brief moment, that she had cried herself to sleep. All of a sudden, as if from another Universe, came these words……
“IT’S TOO MUCH STUFF FOR JUST ONE PERSON!!!!”
We looked at one another and absolutely fell to the floor laughing! Indeed it was. It was too much stuff. Way too much. The tension was broken and we went back into her room to sooth her, all the while laughing and giggling which ultimately caused her to lighten up as well.
I am reflecting back on that moment in our lives because I am in the place of having to handle too much stuff for just one person. My life has grown and changed. I have accepted new roles and thrown myself into my very own gallery and art. It’s a wonderful, chaotic, let the dogs out kind of Life. But I am realizing with all of this comes the hard won decisions of what must go. What no longer serves me, my husband or my evolution.
I had a thought this morning that if I honor myself, I am honoring everyone else. I need to give myself the grace that I am constantly begging everyone else to have for themselves.
All at once, I know what I need to do, where I need to be and who I want to be doing it with.
I move forward, knowing in my heart, that I will disappoint others with my decisions but heeding the inner call of my own Life in which I can honor those around me by taking ownership of my very own pile of stuff that had become too much for just one person.
I have been having a conversation with this beautiful Deity for almost 2 years now. I would occasionally drive to one of my favorite locations in Asheville where I first laid eyes on him just to see if he was still there. Always, still there. Always, ever peaceful. Always, patiently waiting.
I couldn’t “pull the trigger.” Chastising myself with the internal conversation that “it’s too expensive; I really shouldn’t; it’s a luxury I don’t need”; and yet the feeling that there was somehow a deeper connection continued to return.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday, this Statue, this gentle, humble beauty instantly came into my mind. Bobs resistance to the piece was the same as mine. Must be practical, pragmatic, sensible. Blah.Blah.Blah.
And so, with much ado about nonsense, we made our way to the location that had been his home for countless dusty days . My heart truly beating insensibly in my chest; hoping beyond hope that he was still there. Still waiting with the benevolence you could only imagine in your most peaceful dreams.
To my delight and relief there he was; still standing amid the clutter; careless of placement. Hiding in plain sight of a million other things and still, oh very still, singing to my heart.
As I picked him up to lay him on the cart I was surprised to find what I initially thought was a cement statue turned out to be one of hand carved wood. Internally delighted and with a smile stretched across the whole of my soul, we wheeled him up to the counter along with a cement stand for him to reside on, happily paying the price and quickly making our way to the car.
Onward to home, I placed him by the covered entry against a backdrop of stone and wood thinking he looked rustic but lovely. However, as I was making the final adjustments to his stand I decided to get a duster to gently remove what I thought was just a slight layer of the fine stuff. And then, I realized that the fine layer had a bit more heft to it. So, out came the wet cloths soaked only in water and more was revealed; and my eyes sparkled wide open and tears started brimming from the corners.
As I was bathing him, he in turn, was blessing me. A reverence in that moment overtook me and I was flooded with gratitude for the beauty lying beneath all of that dirt and debris and for the intuition all along that I was the intended recipient of the love offered from a long, lost time; it was I that needed what this moment of service could create. The kindness and compassion of that simple act of washing away the dirt and care from him also began washing it away within me. That is the gift, the true gift that has been given me. The reminder that we all, everyone one of us, needs the care and tending of our own souls, in our own way, to make this a Life worth showing up for.
It can take so little time to mindfully wash away the dust of a day poorly minded or a year creating inertia that could rival the concrete monoliths that we hold dear. A little kindness, a little water and the presence to know what we need in this very moment.
I present below the Before and After Photos taken without filters to share the treasure revealed. May the beauty of whoever or whatever you hold dear and sacred seep through and bless you always ❤️