After an introspective year, and an especially introspective winter looking at my relationships and at my relationship with Flagstaff and with nature, I have come to the conclusion that I am happy. I made the conscious decision to let go of old responses and compromises and am experiencing presence and trust and love.
I appreciate my life and those who are in it.
I am also riding bicycles! Oh, riding is so much fun!
Last night I had a dream that I was visiting my mother and step-father. It was somewhere in New Jersey – where I grew up but not where I grew up. I was afraid to visit because I knew the house they lived in was haunted. When I arrived, I walked up a pathway through a glorious garden. When I opened the front door, I was greeted by a black cat, which I had to pass in order to step into the house. In my dream I thought, “This is an omen.”
I was afraid of the ghosts in the house, but I managed to train one of them. I told my parents the house was haunted, and proved it by telling Morris, the ghost I trained, to open and close the door, which he did. My parents told me I should stay even though the place was haunted. I said, “These ghosts are yours, not mine.” I had to leave.
I left the house and walked out beyond their garden and into the vast wasteland of highways and progress. New York City no longer interested me, and the roads were littered with beer cans and road kill. Plastic bags and papers blew around in the breeze.
When I awoke, I realized I let go of the ghosts. I was in a place where I felt absolutely safe, happy, and loved, and it was a place I chose to be. Outside the sun was rising and the air was fresh. Pine. Big blue sky. The entire day ahead of me, and all I had to do was notice.
Today it is snowing in Flagstaff. After a winter of very little snow, we have a snowstorm at the end of April. A snowstorm this time of year in the mountains is not unusual; a final shake up before the ease of warm months takes over.
I have not had a chance to write Born on a Thursday for two weeks now! Over the winter and early spring, I slowed way down, walking for hours every day through the pines with my canine companion, Stoney. It was exactly what I needed to do. Stoney’s leash was the gossamer thread that kept me from losing my way as I looked hard at my life.
A few weeks ago I found myself at the center of the labyrinth. Still point. A shedding of old skin. Decisions. Walking back toward the light, life gained momentum. Taking in experience, not much time to write.
Springtime in Flagstaff is much like coming out of the labyrinth. Suddenly the world stirs and people are ready to be out. It’s a relief that I am ready, too.
There is magic in perseverance, going with the flow, and following your dream. Little webs of ideas, small acts of kindness, and seeking and creating Beauty cast ripples out into the past, present, and future. Life is good.
Janet Echelman illustrates this magic in her TEDTalk below.
Had the house to myself today. I have not had many days to myself here – the house is usually full of children on weekdays, so, even if I have a day off of work, there is not much space for alone-ness or quiet unless I leave. Sometimes I just want to sleep in, or sit at the dining room table and write.
Solitude was a gift today. I painted! It was strange, because I haven’t been alone to paint in a long while. I could feel myself making silly faces while I concentrated on painting, integrating this last month of deep deep sadness, and listening to Marianne Faithful (which isn’t so happy either, but, with her commentary about the music, her addiction and her need for love – it felt right).
I laughed at my self-consciousness—I suspect I make faces while I work all the time, but it’s been so long since I got into the flow painting that I noticed it like it was new.
Right before I awoke this morning I had this dream:
A swanky cocktail party is entering full swing, when out of the corner of my eye, I see that our drunk hostess, who reminds me of a middle-aged Shelly Winters, has somehow shrunk herself and is standing at the edge of the kitchen sink. She is talking to no one in particular when she slips and falls. I run over to the sink, and fish her out from under a few inches of water and booze. I’m frantic. Someone keeps pestering me for my attention. Finally, I shout, “What!!?” Everyone is amazed – I just have to see! “They” (whoever they are) have made a clone of the perfect man, Dudley Do-Right, who is my husband. For a moment, I am dumbfounded – “they” even gave him a giant chin. Ugh. Why? I think of the perfect man, and he is not Dudley Do-Right. Why did I marry this man and why are there two of him now? The hostess! Her yellow maxi-dress is sticking to her limp body. I notice a shard of glass in her hand. I turn her over and see she has a gaping gash that has torn open the side of her waist. The glass! She is not bleeding, but the wound is half of her torso. I’m trying to push it closed, and before I know her fate, I wake up.
I was lying there for a bit. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t bleeding. And I wondered if she was still alive, and then I wondered whether or not the fall was an accident.
The 30-day Challenge for March is a continuation of the challenge for February. Keep on going.
Also, remember to be kind to yourself, have courage, and be open to the world.
The only reason that we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. – Pema Chodron
30-Day Challenge for March 2014
This month’s challenge is a practice that I have been doing on and off since last May. I can tell you that when my practice is consistent, transformation happens with ease. I also know that when things get moving in my life, I tend to get lax on the practices that make my days go a little more smoothly. So, I am bringing this one back into my life and am sharing it with you because it’s a lovely practice.
This is a meditation practice that can be done in as little as ten minutes. You will need – a place where you won’t be disturbed, a writing utensil, and a notebook or journal. Have your writing tools close by.
To begin, bring your self into a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through the nostrils while allowing the belly to expand, and on the exhale, allow the belly to move back toward the spine. Then, say to yourself,“Who am I? What do I want for my life? What do I want for my life today?” At first, you may get a few images or have a few thoughts that answer these questions. Just notice them, and then let go. It is a meditation, so continue to breathe and focus on the breath, without thinking about the answers.
Set a timer for five minutes. Meditate for five minutes.
When you are done meditating, get your pen and notebook immediately, and write, Who am I? What do I want for my life? What do I want for my life today? at the top of your page. Set your timer for 5 minutes and write whatever comes to you as quickly as you can.
Let this be playful! I have found that the responses to the questions become an exploration about how I view myself, what I want in my life, and how I would like my day to go. Since the answers are quick – 5 minutes is not a lot of time to think much, it is all first response – they are honest. Also, the quick responses don’t give you a chance to wallow in what isn’t working in your life, so more often than not, you wind up with a flash visualization for what a great day would be like.
By doing this meditation and writing, you set into motion an intention for your day, and for your life. Don’t think too much about what you wrote, just put the words down and get on with your day. At the end of the day, review what you wrote. Note how your day went compared to your written desires.
You may begin to find that you begin to effortlessly take the actions needed to steer your day (and life) toward your written desires and dreams.
Of course you can do the meditation and the writing for longer – up to 20 minutes a piece. At least try it for a minimum of five minutes each and see where it leads.
Good luck! I’d love to hear how it goes – feel free to share in the comments.
I dreamed I was in a band last night. It’s been almost ten years since I’ve been on stage. I miss it sometimes a lot. I like group creative projects – I often need something larger than myself to continue, to finish work, and the group is more than “just me”. The dynamic is exhilarating, usually fun, sometimes frustrating – rarely boring. Though I haven’t been making music, I have been in a collaborative project for months now, and it is informing my solitary work in a good way (I’m painting again), and I am waking up with the desire to create almost over all else.
In my dream, Paul Kostabi (Youth Gone Mad, White Zombie, Psychotica, Damn Kids) was on guitar. I don’t know the other members – I think Francis DiDonato (Youth Gone Mad, Direct Action, Apple) was on guitar, too. In my waking life, I was in bands with both Paul and Francis for a large part of my music career, they are incredible musicians – real artists.
The place we were playing was small. The stage and the walls were painted matte black. It was an old man’s bar recently taken over by hipsters. Afternoon light from outside was coming in through the open door and front window while we did sound check.
The show was last minute, or maybe I arrived last minute. Before the show, I was in a hotel on an elevator with my sister Kerry and we were talking on the phone with my mother. We promised to visit her. I was planning on driving out to see her after the show.
While the stage was being set up, I went for a walk doing my vocal exercises in the street. I was wearing a white linen shirt and jeans. I walked to a bar on the Lower East Side and put my makeup on. Fushia blusher on my cheeks and eyelids and black eyeliner. My hair was cropped to about three inches all around my head. It was kind of dirty, so it was easy to dishevel and shape. (This was truly a last-minute gig, normally I am all about getting dressed up for a show).
Three women in the bar were watching me put makeup on. They were dressed like flappers, with bob cuts and feathered headbands, cigarette holders and sequined dresses. When I was ready to leave, they got on their hands and knees and crawled on the worn astroturf carpeting out of the bar and fell into a heap on the sidewalk, their skirts flipping up to their waists as they kicked their feet and laughed. I had to climb over them to get out the door.
It was five minutes til showtime and I couldn’t find a cab – so I started to run back to the club, while singing scales. Everything was pale grey, six lanes of Houston Street took forever to cross. Once I was on the sidewalk again, the buildings pulsated, like they were breathing, and they swayed in the breeze. I knew I was dreaming, so I relaxed and walked.
When I got back to the gig, everything was exactly as I had left it, except for the light coming in through the door and the window – it had shifted from late afternoon white to twilight blue. Neon red, blue and white reflected from above a wall of booze onto the polished bar. The open door aired the place out slightly, the atmosphere thickening toward the back of the room.
Sound check was still going on. I did some toe touches and stretched my arms and legs. I climbed onstage to check my monitors. My boyfriend (who is a former boyfriend in real life) followed me to tell me he googled my mother’s town and that no way was it an hour and a half drive. More like four hours.
I looked at him, shrugged, and turned toward the mic. Stay in the moment. Music happens in the moment.
I woke up. My alarm had been going off for about an hour.
My real boyfriend texted me: Love my tea.
I opened my shades. Snowflakes. Pine tree tops. Sun.
A completely different life.
This video by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra looks like so much freakin’ fun.