Monday, January 31, 2011

Which way the wind blows (matters)

Which way the wind blows (matters) (December, 2010)

The sky is. The sun is. The clouds are. I am. 
But what I see...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hope is a colour

Hope is a colour, 2010

When words flee
There's nothing to do but wait
They'll come home when they're hungry for expression.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Between the Creeping and Descending

between the creeping and descending, 2005
There is still air here to breathe.
Breathe in. Cradle the air inside. Breathe out. Send it away with thanks for what it gave.
(Don't look up)
(Don't look down)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Encroaching? Receding? It's all perspective...isn't it?

These two photos are from a subset of my California series, and are fairly reflective of my general state of double-truth and uncertainty. That's the best my words can do tonight.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Training for grace (a new Workout post)

My workouts have become a strange, full-body conversation with myself. I like to start with a hug.

I am teacher, learner and observer, simultaneously and in turn, all of us enjoying each others' company as we move and challenge this body, which is ourselves, in baby-steps towards increased resiliency and longevity. I am also body, feeling the animal satisfaction of using my strength, becoming stronger and more supple. My body leads the movement, telling me what stretch it needs, when it needs to run, when it's time to really push and when it's time to ease and stick to subtle movements.

I like to play a little with myself, dare myself to do something hard and laugh with myself when I fall over. I encourage myself, often out loud, "why don't you try..." and "look how strong you are!" I let myself be impressed by progress the way I am for everyone else. I love my trying hard self. Simultaneously, I feel that love fill me with acceptance the way I once thought a lover's love should fill you. A lover's love can never find all the hidden places, but this love, from myself, enters cracks and crevices in my soul that I didn't know were rent.

At some point in the workout I might look myself in the eye, in the mirror, and ask, how are you? When the corners of my eyes soften with loving recognition I see myself there, beyond the pupils, and I meet my emotional need as it rises with love, sympathy, compassion and acceptance. I coax myself back from the brink of self-pity with soothing tones evolving into encouraging words that help me climb out of the gaping space of longing for what I know not. I decide to let the part of me that wants to wallow be loosened, cajoled since there is nothing to be done about it anyway. I wait, and find that I really mean it, for now. I smile at myself, massage my cheeks, put gentle pressure on my eyes and forehead. I rub my neck and loosen the hair at the back of my skull. I remind myself, you ROCK! Well, I love you, anyway. And I matter.

I know I can again bend to shoulder the burden that is mine, only mine, while I train for the strength to bear it with more grace.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blogging when my words desert me

Beyond Lies, from my California series 2005

Dismal, from my California series, 2005

Today is a day to remind me
why some people choose what I have rejected.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Around the Bend

(Around the Bend, from my Grand Bending Series of photos 2004)

Everything really can turn on a dime. Laughter and lightness becomes anger and storm on the turn of a word, a look, a misstep. 

What is around that bend? More path? A bear? A cliff? My heart's desire? 

The only sure thing is that something is there, and I can't see it from here. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Change the World Bug

(okay, if you're one of those who really likes my work sometimes but mostly finds me a bit irritating, you should probably stop right now, because the only reason I'm publishing this is so that those of you who love me and like peeking into my brain can indulge your voyeurism in the following ramble)

Why do I want to change the world? It's nothing but an angst-creating, unsettling, demanding pain in the neck sometimes.

So why? Because people are still unkind to one another. To say the least. And it's not getting us anywhere to let that keep happening. That starts to scratch it.

You see, it bugs me. Day and night. I can't seem to just settle into life and let it happen and shrug and think, well, what can I do anyway? It really does drive me to distraction that our leaders are so ridiculous and our priorities so skewed that we can't seem to begin the untangling without bickering about who holds what part of the string. The illusion of self interest that we all indulge to our undoing.

I can't just leave it.

I tried really hard. I did pull it off for awhile. What changed? Why did I become decreasingly able to tow the status quo? Why did this bug hit me and not the girl in the cubicle next door? SHE's earning six figures right now, thank you, and you should see her gorgeous house. I'm struggling to be taken seriously in a whole new field and job, in non-profit at a non-profit salary, while my husband looks for work. It's hardly fair.

And can I change the world? Probably not. I'm starting late and not nearly as talented as I'd hoped to be. Nor as skilled as I'd like to be. (yes, my loves, thank you. I know. I rock. It's just, you know, I have very, very high standards).

Be content with my small corner and all that. Got it. Meditated on it. Accept it in principle. Not satisfied.

Maybe I won't make an impact. Am I okay with that? If I die without ever feeling that my life significantly contributed to humanity's sanity, beyond my corner, will I feel as though I've failed life? Maybe.

I can't help but grieve the waste of my years of fear-based, habitual behaviour, ignorant decision making, failure to reach for love, failure to appreciate love, resentment, waiting, doing-what's-in-front-without-looking-around. Years when I didn't pay nearly enough attention to any of the right things, and paid far to much attention to things that didn't matter.

I can never have those years back, just take their learning forward. Once these aspects of myself became apparent and intolerable to me, I began to work on weeding them out. I am far, far, from finished. A decade into my practice, my fear doesn't rule me. I see it now, even when I can't control all my behaviours that it drives. I know my fear and it's just part of who I am. I know my courage, too. Neither of them are in charge. I am.

But even so, at this point, will I really be willing to do what it takes to make a meaningful impact? I'm busy now, with kids and all that. I'm kind of tired. Wearing down. Changing the world is demanding and I'm not the only one at stake anymore. I keep thinking, when the kids are a bit older...but is that just false consolation for settling in? Has my potential passed its shelf life?

I can hope that my best work is before me, that I can be part of spreading compassionate pragmatism, or sanity, or whatever. An individual in a stadium seat can be, in a moment, part of a wave.

I'd rather start a wave than be swept up, yet swept up I am.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Words fail

At times like this
I wish I could draw
Paint, sketch, make a picture
To help the words, the poor, tired words
Who think they can explain what can never be explained in

(photo shot in Grand Bend, Ontario, part of the Grand Bending series of photos I took in 2004)

Rating Monogamy

(Dear Diary...)

Yesterday a new friend asked me, quite boldly I thought, whether I am satisfied with monogamy. Not those words, but essentially, that.

I've recognized for a long time that there is something about me that invites this level of immediate over-intimacy, so I tend to forgive impertinence and try to answer the questions I'm posed fairly. I dutifully tried to explain, in the fumbling way I have when I haven't thought about something in a long time, the idea that exclusivity is an essential ingredient that permits the level of trust required to deepen one's knowledge of another, and allow that other to deepen their knowledge of you. That this lifetime process requires a commitment to partner up on life, no matter what comes. But I didn't say, out loud, the rest of the story. Isn't it strange? What I didn't say, as if it didn't have legitimacy, was this: I am in love with my husband.

I never was one to believe in "in love," which is the primary source of my reticence to bring it up as a topic of conversation with someone I hardly know. My first husband was my best friend and I thought that was ideal - I loved him very much, though in the end we weren't good for each other. But I would never have described myself as "in love." I was often attracted to other people.

After that relationship ended and I was ready to pay attention again, I turned around and found myself slave to a man I didn't even know well enough to trust. There was something about how he looked at me that felt like soul's nectar, even before we were dating. My stomach lurched when he smiled at me like I was already his. His hand on my skin felt warmer than anyone's hand should feel, an accidental touch electrifying and drawing my attention to him as a male creature. The first time he kissed me felt like the first time I'd ever been kissed, (and it was far from that). The first time we had sex felt like the sex I'd been trying to have all along. The last time we had sex was the best sex I've ever had.  It is, every time. Really. I mean, why have sex if it's not great? What I'm saying is that I feel about him like nothing I've ever experienced before. I don't really notice anyone else anymore, from a sexual standpoint. I don't say that to people because they never believe me, but I can only share my experience. It's like I've locked onto this man, and he is sex for me.

He still just has to look at me to melt me. Maybe more, now, because our intimacy is becoming so much safer and more confident over time. I feel a surge of affection whenever I look at him, even when I'm really mad at him. He inspires me to be better, so he'll feel the same way (I believe he does). He grounds me. Who could have thought I would find this? Not me. I had no idea

Why would I fuck around with that, for something as banal as sex without trust? I wouldn't, in a million years, for a billion dollars.

So yes, I am satisfied with monogamy. In fact, I'd say it far exceeds my expectations.

(musical accompaniment from Sarah McLaughlin)

(I echo @artemisretreats sentiment earlier today: I wish I could be as eloquent in person as I am in writing. I'm also #grateful for the chance to think this through again.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mini Bad Mom post

My heart is racing. My breath is ragged. My eyes are filled with tears and my jaw is clenched. I just screamed at my family. Why is that the only thing that anyone listens to?

I wasted 45 minutes on much more reasonable, loving approaches that only seemed to encourage them to grander heights of irrationality to keep my attention. More and more I find myself thinking, I should just lose it, scream and freak out at them now, and save myself the trouble instead of waiting until they have worn away my patience to the point where I’m scraped dry and bleeding inside and I just can’t take another second of it. 

I don't want to be a person who screams at other people. 

I choke it back. And try again. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shard in my mind

Hate and love, growing exponentially. Awareness and awakening, in such narrow slices as to often prove dangerous, mostly completely misunderstood and met with unreasonable hope and expectations.

Everything is part of the story. Everything is part of the truth, even that we'd rather turn from or think can be banished by the light. That's what makes it so hard to say: this is wrong, universally, we all agree. This is right. Because we are all right, and friends, we are all wrong. Always. Why waste our energy fighting semantics rather than putting our puzzle together? It drives me to distraction, it really does.

What is my life in all of that? It's tempting to say nothing but there is something in me that knows it's everything. That I am the most important person alive, that my choices every moment tip the cosmic balance. And then I look around at every other person, the ones my brain categorizes and dismisses (loser, housewife, old lady, clerk, homeless guy, business guy, bitch, beautiful girl) and I know: the same is true for each of them. They have no idea. I have no idea, really.

When a glass breaks, no matter how well we clean up, a shard will eventually stick in someone's foot. Why that shard? How did it escape the dustpan and the vacuum and the careful inspection of the floor? It escaped, and it found the foot we tried so hard to keep it from, the one it had been meant for all along. It escaped, and by random chance, on this day, a footstep discovered it. God put it there to punish the stepper. The stepper willed it to be there by thinking negative thoughts. The Universe provided the pain of the shard as an opportunity for enlightenment. A shard of glass got into a foot for no reason at all. Why? Why? Why?

Why are we spending our time on this attempt to pick and choose, label and understand, use and exploit? We are so far from true understanding as to be laughable, after so many generations of our species. What can I possibly do in the face of all of this.

Never enough.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Next Installment - Will we really change our lives? pt. 2

(If you missed part 1, here)

Is it possible that I have become so detached from my current life that I would leave it?

Not my family, my husband and kids. Only for them would I stay, actually. There's no doing anything without them.

But this life. Does it have to look like this? Do we have to participate so fully in creating and reinforcing systems that are clearly wrong-headed and generated from an utterly hopeless illusion of self-interest which is ultimately inescapable in each of us? What did I just say, anyway? Who is this person?

A calling. What's a calling?

My mother-in-law told me, over Christmas, how one of the nuns at her high school called each girl into the office, individually, attempting to convince them that they had a calling to the sisterhood. When my mother-in-law politely said that she'd rather not, that she wanted to have a family, the nun told her that she would pray for her vocation. My mother-in-law politely declined. If I have a calling, I want it to come from me, she said.

Am I called to a middle class lifestyle?

Am I called to dust my small corner and smile, content with my lot?

I worked to get here, and here I am. It looks much the same from this point on the hill as it did from the bottom. I was wrong about what I thought I'd see from here. I'm just more sure, I can pick out details that once all looked like scenery.

Every day I face it, my ingratitude. Each night I choose one thing in my life that I'm grateful for to focus on before bed. It's made me very ashamed. This life should be good enough. I should be satisfied to do what is needed to keep this life going, just as it is, as long as humanly possible, because it is just that good.

Yet the urge is strong. Not to drop out, as my husband likes to put it, but to drop in. Drop back into the world by dropping out of this placid, rarefied, perfect life to try to actually experience. Whatever that means. Do we become hobos? Join a commune? What options are there, exactly, for people who want to try another way of living? Is there a handbook?

What do we really need? What is a happy life? What do we most want to maximize and minimize, and are we even trying? Are we living by rote, doing what's done, choosing for lack of choice in front of our noses? Do we ever even think about it? We're in a place where these questions need some attention.

I'm reminded of my little girl self, cowering in my nook in the woods while others were playing the game (read here). I'm hiding out in my perceived safe place (but is it, really, a sustainable safety?), writing a little from back here and hoping we can hang to what we have through the next set of challenges.

The game is rigged, and there are lots of carnivores out there.