Shazam and Sizzle warm up
Howdy and thanks so much for dropping by! I apologize for my cyber absence. I have been wandering in circles searching for the inspiration fairies and magic pixie dust, while tunneling into hidden passages of the psyche. 'ooooh, scary kids!' Translation?: I am busy preparing for a solo art show at the Salt Spring Gallery, opening apr 13-25. Check back for postings of the show or please drop by the Gallery on beautiful Salt spring island, BC.
Growing up, the youngest of the roving neighbourhood brood, I often felt desperate to keep up. At about age 5, before we moved from that old, two storey, looming drafty house with the pine green trim, I was embroiled in treacherous games with the big kids. Hide and Seek was one such game. I didn't play the usual 5 yr old brand of closing my own eyes, only half hidden by a bush, legs still obviously sticking out!
I played to win.
A long time ago, in a land far, far away, children were simply not supervised, coddled and duct-taped to couches, while holding techie gadgets that hadn't even been dreamed up yet. No, they balanced eggs on spoons while madly running about and tripped recklessly through muddy three legged races, saddled to their snotty nosed neighbour. Playing always happened outdoors.
The trees were our companions and play structures. Rather than sunscreen, we found shade.
In my 'hood, the other kids were older, taller, faster—I knew I was at a disadvantage. I realized one way to remain untouchable in this game, was not to go under, or in, or behind, but rather...UP.
And so I did.
When the time to hide arrived and we ran in opposite directions, I climbed the wood pile to the lean too, reached for the sloping garage roof, from where, a bit of another s t r e t c h and scramble, I could just make it to the porch of our very steep roof via an obliging oak tree.
I adored that view. I earned it. I owned it.
Lying flat on my soft belly so as not to be spotted, I would watch the tallest boys and smartest girls circle the houses and wander the back-lane, until they were far enough away, and I could scuttle down unseen, just enough time to find home-free, safe and sound! Victorious.
They never figured out how I did it and they hated that fact. And I never told. I felt like a puffed up colourful bird, chest out, confident and strong.
It makes me gulp in fear and wonder now, thinking about it. I am just back from a recent visit where I drove by that looming old house and I can tell you confidently, I wouldn't climb it today.
That childhood discovery of a bird's eye view taught me the simple joys of a breeze blowing through my messy hair and the hidden power of raising your perspective, changing your vantage point, heading UPward.
Hide and seek was my secret glee.
A lifelong love of hiking to vistas was cemented in that childhood game. To this day, when I feel stuck, stagnant, or drained I walk, drive or climb to higher ground, to lift and open my thinking, my energy, my horizon. IT seems to reconnect me with that young confidence we all have as small, yet mighty children. To remind me of what we can accomplish when we know no fear. I had no fear of what might happen during my crazy climbs because I was too young to understand or care. What a blissful state to realign with, imagining only possibility. Your eye only on the goal. The opportunity for wind in your hair and a tremendous sense of joy and pride.
May you find a worthy view and feel your own joy rising in this new year ahead. What's your childhood confident spot?
Have a yummy and surprising new year and don't forget to scare yourself!
S P A C I O U S N E S S.
Longing for a sense of spaciousness and less pressure, I haven't written in awhile - not for myself; not for work, blood, love nor money.
Sometimes not writing is a marker of avoidance, of myself, of my inner world, of things that need attention. This time it was a signal of another process. Exploring my living space in a new way, the space of living in my body and my outer home. Unknowingly, my deeper need and pursuit of spaciousness has launched my personal reorganizing renovation, divesting, recycling campaign.
My soul went on strike. Demands were simple: a little more breathing space amidst the daily visual noise. It was much easier to turn off the radio or the computer, than the constant visual demands of paper piles, undone tasks, and groceries that needed transforming into edible dishes. Although the demands were simple, the tasks to fulfill this deceptively simple request, were not. Emotionally overwhelming and physically demanding, the pressure had actually been accumulating my entire life in the growing inertia of nostalgia.
In keeping with the rising zeitgeist toward minimalism and the magical life changing decluttering a la Marie Kondo*, these phenomenons highlight and sharply contrast the sheer consumer madness afoot. For many a post war decade now, consumerism and excess has been growing, hitting a fever pitch through the 80's up until, well,.....now. Western capitalism and entitlement has created a gluttony of junk accumulation, an economic crisis several times over, based in north American debt load, and the rising obesity and sloth of inactivity, purchase power(nee rather, ease) and technology. These realities, although well known by society, are sadly potently anaesthetizing the public into somnolent numbness and apathy. 'Potently' I say, because this is how many corporations and advertisers design it to be. The need for clearing space is directly linked to consumer culture. IT counters the panicked sensation of drowning. IF you are like me this bombardment creates tension within.
Back to, 'AH!' Exhale. The pursuit of spaciousness. Did you notice your shoulders soften with the conscious breath? Fortunately, we can always choose to wake up from this robotic, ceaseless onslaught.
Other good news is there is also a rise of more conscious, ethical business, with eco friendly and fair trade emphasis fuelling their vision. Probably even within reach of your very own neighborhood.
With the popularity of the aforementioned*, ' life changing magic of Tidying up' and the meteoric rise of the minimalists*, something else is emerging.
There is clearly a broader yearning afoot. A yearning for spaciousness. Room to breathe. Room to stretch. To let go. Release. Lighten the psychic burden.
My spirit was feeling cramped, and while I value yoga, I needed a deeper stretch and room to expand that I couldn't yet access. Perhaps even deeper, clearing space is a vehicle to heal ourselves and clear the past . Perhaps most importantly clearing helps heal the planet we have so callously and blindly used as a garbage receptacle. Being mindful of new purchases, recycling, upcycling, giving away, sharing resources.
In dance, reference to the sacredness of movement and its power and healing in our lives to ground us-- dovetails effortlessly with the joy of an empty space to do so! Whether your personal medicine is an afternoon espresso, a yoga warrior pose or a titillating book, consider that stillness, space and beauty calm our far too frequently vexed spirit . We are then able to release tension. E x-p-a-n--d--i---n----g.
My writing had been bottling up. I've missed it. Felt guilt, pressure, confusion, ache and even despair and pointlessness—but through all of these incarnations I held the internal space to witness, observe and not react. Clearing the story; the 'shoulds', the confusion, until a deeper truth emerged. This Parallels the eerie hovering of the wildfire smoke and haze this summer blanketing most of BC; we were forced to be in it, powerless to impact it, and yet learned to be with it, until it lifted; simply awaking one morning to a new, clearer landscape.
Breathing easier, once again.
Sometimes taking a break from something important to you is not in fact avoidance, but rather reverence. Reverence for the space we seek, the refuge we require, the value we wish to add. The fervour of committed play.
I have made this the year for massive give aways and clearing of my space. It continues. No coincidence I am sure, hitting my half century mark. A new identity wishes to emerge, chafing at the old constraints, limitations and programming. I regret, I still have a long way to go and recognize it is a process, an ongoing process. IT is also fun to see positive contagion spread though, as your shift draws your whole family to the quest.
Visual clutter it seems, is a stressor which I never fully understood. I rationalized it as representative of a full life, creativity, stimulating, an active mind, a busy life. Perhaps I am simply not willing to be so torn to pieces anymore filling too many responsibilities. A chaotic desk top now feels overwhelming instead of creative. Confusing.
Yes, in truth, the patina of living is messy and wrinkled and leaves its stains and scratches. Entropy happens. Laws of nature need to be understood to avoid self reproach. But the practice of clearing is becoming a deep-seated need toward a deeper calm and ease, saving both time and energy. I am already breathing easier. And when I maintain consistent movement toward
it is freeing. Emancipation by simply, lightening the load. By taking this action, The gifts are plentiful in return. One can breathe easier. Spaciousness graciously allows the yielding, the surrender more readily. Clearing allows Personal pain, heavy density and stuckness to transform to inner power.
S p a c i o u s n e s s allows the essential to e m e r g e.
1. *The life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo, c 2014. (see also Books blog 'a brief affair', jan 2016)
2. *IF you are unfamiliar with them, check them out at, the minimalists for their blog and podcast, netflix documentary and several books. http://www.theminimalists.com/ two average American young guys simply deeply committed to a principle of less is more. Their work elegantly demonstrates the power and beauty of clarity, simplicity and living intentionally.
3. * Nia dance, a holistic approach to movement and wellness in your body, see also my blog, the genius of movement, june-2016, and look for classes in your area it's worldwide! FInd your joy and an ability to maintain a ready, aware and waiting (RAW -a NIA priniciple) openness to daily life.
Instructions for surviving M A R c h MaDnesS.
We are all UPSIDE DOWN. Gravity assures that we barely notice this.
I remember standing on a chair to review my drawing when I was eight years old, because my teacher told us ''to take a break, and to look at your work from a distance. Change perspective,” sage advise that should be followed, no matter what kind of work, to this day.
And I still love standing on chairs. MOST especially in staff meetings.
It can be very bouncy being an inhabitant of the mind.
dig like a thick legged chicken,
and confess your regrets to the
dance like a s h o o t i n g star,
stare into the deep brown eyes of a cow, see all sentient beings for their struggle and sweetness.
Drop kick judgement to the next stratosphere,
(the curb ain't near far enough )
Blow some b u b b l e s---
Stare at the best painting you can find for hours.
Let it come alive for you. Imagine painting it.
Unplug from everything. EVERYTHING!
Scream into the wind—wearing a dramatic scarf and goggles, so you appear as a cartoon character with it blowing lyrically behind you.
Spend the night sleeping in the forest, listen to how alive it is. Scare yourself silly. Speak with the owls, frogs and racoons.
W A I T.
Be patient. Be still. Breathe slowly.
Allow an animal to nap on you until they move. Cherish the tenderness, the trust. The bond.
Swallow the great beauty of blossoms like the last visual f feast you will ever see.
Be useful out there but don't stress yourself out doing it.
Be kind to others, (it's a given) and see how this showers you with multiple rewards, namely, entrance to nowhere when you die but maybe a clever or well meaning epitaph. No, Let's just be kind because it's good to be, no other reason required.
If you are edgy, restless, irritable, dry and tired under winter's itchy coat; still waiting for ice to melt, a north wind to stop slapping insults at you, W A I T.
This too shall pass. Until then, moisturize.
And when the blossoms do arrive, you too will be blessed with the wakening world, once again, the primordial wisdom, tireless intelligence of nature, the reverent resilience that offers us hope, over and over, and over again.
(and we need hope now more than ever!)
Be the best version of you. Even if you have no understanding of why, what difference it makes, and how many other people seem to do it all better, faster, smarter, it doesn't matter, because they are still not you. And cannot be.
And we need all the birds to sing.
We need everyone's voice, if we are going to make this planet better. AND, that goes doubly if you are a woman, a child, a minority, one-legged, deaf, schizophrenic, labelled and categorized in any external and offensive way, too fat, edgy, alternative, grumpy, gay, freakish, electric blue, old, poor, disempowered, hairy or sin ugly, just share your song.
I think we must.
And together, we will find spring. We will come back to life. We will re awaken together.
Our blossoming will be magnificent.
The last day of February rolls out.
Chilly. Clear. Familiar.
Patches of snow. Patches of dirt. A quiet, bored energy prevails.
Dullness. Ordinariness. A day easily forgotten as so many other unremarkable days blur into one another.
But what of it?
The stars remain behind the clouds. Life stirs deep in the soil unseen by the naked eye. Velocity and time continue their kinky relationship. Nothing is truly more or less dull in this day, than what we so easily celebrate as the glory of a summer month.
February merely demands more of us, by offering less.
It prompts us to remain curious about the journey. Poised for the shoe to drop. Tensions of a waning winter build. In prairie cold places, this is also known as cabin fever build up.
It is a stark offering. Tired bare branches reach long, sinewy fingers; intricate silhouettes of their winter bones against the fleshy sky.
Oh, I do long for the warmth of sun on my cheek. My eyes yearn now for the pop of spring blossoms, like cotton candy for the retina. To unburden oneself from the weight of wool jackets.... the sheer lightness of being wearing one's own skin again!
Yet, February is the anchor that holds us steadfast to winter moments. An undervalued stillness. A quiet that regenerates us. IT serves to both prepare and amplify our joyful bursting forth into a different kind of feverish pitch-----
Perhaps February is an unsung hero that showcases so beautifully the power of patience. Stillness.
Mining the dream.
It is the bare bones of winter which gifts us the distinct and delicate birthing of spring.
Wherever you go, there you are.
I met my shadow self again in the most unlikely of places. A triangle of deep grey luxurious bamboo lycra.
'What, what, now?... ' You say.
For me it's more, “Ack!” a la Bill the Cat!
The lovely Couture Designer, Genevieve, instructs us on the first day of a 5 weekend workshop to create our own garment.
Her prompts include--”hold the fabric,
go with the flow,
feel the bias,
feel the energy—f l o w with it...”
Sounds simple enough.
But, after my 1st pin is secured in the mannequin, I find I am on a frozen ice jam more than the relaxed river of silk I imagined. The fabric tangles in my fingers as my mind tangles competing thoughts.
First I willfully force the direction and the shape of material- -the fabric resists.
It's an epic power struggle already.
And there I am, observing myself mocked by this unassuming triangle of cloth.
The deceptive simplicity of this act, draping fabric, allows me the clarity to see the four deadly horsemen of my inner apocalypse.
Clinging, controlling, comparing and complicating everything!
Suddenly, a new fifth horseman gallops towards the posse-- self criticism.
Perhaps you have encountered such bandits yourself?
The antidote to their poisoning effect?
Chill. Relax. Flow. Allow. Yield. Trust thyself.
Effort without tension.
(This time, side step the dung left by the horsemen.)
When I do relax, forget my agenda and let my limbs and instincts weave together with the sensual flow of fabric (rather than my signature overthinking) the fabric and I both soften, like intimate dance partners and begin to trust one another. Together we begin to mold a dress form.
The sun is out and glints even brighter against the mirror of my inner reflections. Humbling lessons can step on our well shod feet in the most surprising encounters. Observing oneself in our own learning curves illuminates our deeply help patterns—unless we are able to hold beginners mind, without ego.
Not generally my strength.
Once I allowed the process, the process allowed for my inner flow and easily dissolved all the clinging and controlling into a refreshing drink of creativity; and time flew.
To visit the sublime couture designs of Ms. Genevieve herself,
visit her website at: http://www.genevievegrahamclothing.com/ A revelation in hand sewn originals.
So many paths to brilliance.
Undim your light.
A Brief Affair
The permission to sleep. The permission to rest. Delicious.
And what better way to curl up and slow down, then with a book. A wandering, wondering, wild tour of unknown territory; down the rabbit hole of wooly imaginings. Or deft learning.
Books are intimacies we explore, relationships we dive into, with a clear beginning, middle and end. A good book is like a great friend or love affair. One is always happy to see them and it's almost always equally hard to say good bye.
Bittersweet partings catch your breath.
At times constant companions, some you crack the cover and never put down again; others you flip through and push aside with disdain. Occasionally, you may even go through a stack at your bedside; on hand for a brief dalliance at your whim, unaffected if you are reading other tomes.
Some reread books many times.
Some never finish them.... Abandoned. Heartbroken. A cold shudder shimmies through you at the thought of unread pages.
The beginning, like a worthy courtship.
A flirtation catches your eye. A flashy cover perhaps. Alliteration, or a metaphor, you simply cannot resist. Curiousity builds, a mysterious attraction..." Why this story? Why not the one with the clever booksleeve? The promise of an exciting plot? " No, no, it's definitely the quiet, plain bookish one in the corner that appeals most.
Then comes the excitement of the first date!
Your thoughts preoccupied all day by the object of your affection, waiting anxiously for that bewitching hour to gently touch for the first time. Fingertips barely skim the smooth surface. The deep inhale for the smell of your new book. The first clean page turn. Shudders.
And, like many love affairs, the ending comes all too quickly.
The writing was on the wall, you could feel the relationship thinning out through your fingers, lopsided, top heavy, the foundation eroded.
Reflecting back, perhaps it was about the time you spilled tomato juice on it's pages, unable to forgive your carelessness; or the flashing, dynamic prose, once such a vibrant challenge to decipher, until it cruelly pointed out your stupidity. It's unpredictable nature left you ragged and tense.
Perhaps there was a crisis when they realized you were reading other books as well, and they weren't into your lending library lifestyle.
Regardless, however they end, closing a beloved book is a heartache.
Sensing the end is nigh results in sadness, stalling, avoidance.....
There is a mourning period. Forlorn regret, it is over. Even deep sorrow.
Weeks go by before one can even think of fondling another. Leafing through cheap paperbacks, a mere distraction. The wounds, the papercuts, the stains, torn pages, missing passages....what was it all about? You try and reread a chapter or two only to discover,
“I don't remember that! Or, I skipped this section it was too upsetting....”
When you are really lucky, there comes along an epic book, so beguiling, it holds you enraptured.
And yet, one can never regret the mis-education that some book folly brings. It makes you the avid, discerning reader you are today. Still passionate, still curious, longing for more learning.
No one ever forgets their favourite reads. Imprinted timelessly like fossils in our soul.
The end of each year part of my 'ring in the new' ritual is collecting a bevy of titles that thrill me.
What will you be reading this new year? What reading did you celebrate in 2016?
.....and by my bedside waiting patiently for me:
Beyond Words: what animals think and feel Carl Safina
Fearless Arianna Huffington
My Life on the Road Gloria Steinem
Sapiens: a brief history of humankind Yuval Noah Harari
Sublime, expansive, juicy, vexing reading to you all, in 2017! Happy New Year!!