Thursday, April 29, 2010

Waiting for inspiration

k, so I'm still stuck on editing and beginning to believe it is a bigger concept and more about how people process. Even who we are.

Some of us process verbally and put it all out there to be sifted. And, for others, it evolves more slowly and internally, emerging more formed. There are probably combinations and we may switch off, but I have really begun to notice these two distinctions.

I also think much has to do with whether we are an extrovert or introvert.

In the creative process – whether it's art, nurture, ministry, writing or anything else – I don't believe those of us who do it one way, should expect that is THE way. Hum, sounds like a conversation on religion.

When I was younger, I was astounded by two depictions of the writing process. One person would sit alone at her desk for a very long time in silence and THEN the keyboard would explode. Another said she had to wait for inspiration. Heck, I was always on deadline, how can you wait for inspiration, I thought. Once I had my facts, I had no problem spewing, then later editing.

That was commerical writing, for me.

I've since matured, I hope, and write in a completely different way – at least for myself. I used to rely on an outline like a Bible or trusted road map. I still do, on occasion, when I am writing for somebody else and want to be sure to include all of the salient points.

Journaling, however, has taught me a very different process. One influenced by many years of yoga, meditation and worshiping in the Quaker way of silence. One of waiting, feeling, bodily imagining and seeing what emerges.

I seem to go to the place in myself that is unsettled, probably where the creative fire is burning. And sit with it a little. Sometimes not long at all. And I just feel it, swirling or welling up. Like a volcano pulsing, molding and then erupting onto the keyboard. Sometimes into the chalk in my hand and onto the page.

I've never thought about it this concretely before and, in doing so, seem to divest some of the magic.

Nevertheless, whatever has been welling up has done so for awhile and seems to come out somewhat constructed. Possibly edited. It's very much like when I feel led to give vocal ministry in my Quaker meeting (church). There was a very long time in my life when I never thought I'd be able to stand in a group and speak. It's still never easy, yet I am pushed to be the vehicle for a message. Not my message.

First there's a tightening of the heart as if it has been pierced by truth from somewhere. I usually try to push it back down with the inner critic saying, "No one wants to hear that." Or "That's your ego, not a true message."

If it dies out, it wasn't anything. If it keeps coming back and making my heart race, my palms sweat and my legs wobble, then I know I will soon be standing and speaking. Fortunately, Quakers have readily shared this discernment process and the first time I read a description that captured what I had felt, discovered comfortable affirmation.

I have also been told that to be really faithful is to stand and have no idea what you're saying. That has only rarely happened to me and, I suspect, is more the manner of a verbal processor.

Last summer, my 12-year-old whispered in my ear during worship that she thought she had a message to share. I said stick with it and if it doesn't go away, it's probably yours to give. I could see her nervousness and knew it was hers. I told her I'd stand with her and hold her hand if that helped. She went back and forth, the same thing I internalize, when I asked "will you regret it if you don't say it" and she replied "yes." So we stood and I must have trembled as much as she. I will never forget that wonderful day, nor the people who stopped her after worship with a silent hug or words of encouragement. This was not our regular meeting, but they knew this was special and her first vocal ministry.

So what if our messages, out in the public, are our vocal ministry? And what if some have been pushed through an internal editing factory already? Are they any less valid than those that have been tweaked externally?

• What is the current message my life speaks?
• How do I deliver it?
• What is my creative process?
• Have I molded it to the expectation of others or freed myself?
• Can I nurture others in that expression?

the tension


clear the

the place
in the


is there
for me?

shall I


have I

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Editing the truth

've been thinking a lot about editing lately. Probably as the result of the recent publishing conference I attended. And because I have been an editor and experienced bad editors – those who wish to replace the writer's voice with their own. I like to think of myself as a gentle editor with others, preserving the voice and only helping to let it shine more clearly. In a sense, I guess it was some of my early nurture work.

But what's really been on my heart was the young woman who argued in a workshop that she felt the poetry from her journal did not need editing and the room overwhelmingly said it always needs editing. I leaned over and whispered to her: "Don't listen."

We had a brief conversation after as I had wanted to raise the same issue, but was not so bold. Maybe because it didn't feel safe. When this young woman, on the first full day of the conference, asked someone where they felt something in their body, I knew we were heart people, not heads. Another time she talked of the importance of embodiment.

At the open-mic session, she did read and what she had written was so very clearly from her heart and not in need of any change, just another heart to listen.

After this conference, I am struggling with the book(s) I want to publish as they include some of my journal entries, which I feel were written from my heart in the moment and, often, wisdom from the Source (God, Spirit ... whatever word speaks to you). When I re-read them, I have no urge to mess with them. The introduction and explanatory sections I have edited many times, but not the journal entries. They come from somewhere bigger than myself and arrived when I was in a very still and prayerful place. I'm sure they won't speak to everyone and maybe not many. But that isn't the point. Trusting in what feels like a gift is – to me.

Several new books announced or previewed at this conference were the journals of Quakers no longer with us. And, I can't imagine the actual journal entries of someone like Elias Hicks, for instance, being changed today. Maybe footnoted or explanation added, but not altered. I could be wrong.

So why is there another standard for those now journaling? I am not talking about event recording, but soul discovery and writing our hearts.

When we edit our hearts, we stray farther from the truth.

• What happens when I don't edit myself?
• ... When I trust my openness and truth that arise?
• What glimpses has that trust provided?
• What have I lost when I didn't trust?
• How do I "put it out there" even in the face of misunderstanding?

It was a

so very

that I
had no
idea of

An initial
over time,

It took

to arrive
at the

that I
did not,
could not,
do alone

It's not
the shiny,

but it is
a gem

So, how
do I
share it
with others?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meyham and foolishness

ver have fun and not realize you really are working?

Twice a week, most weeks, I schlepp to the pool at 5:45 a.m. for a water class. Gets my day off to a very energetic start. We'd had a very loyal teacher for the past year and, suddenly to us, she was replaced. So, of course that day, I was grumbly.

I've since changed my tune. This morning as I was entering the locker room, I heard them singing Tequila in the pool. Sounded like a BIG party. It was. But once I jumped in, grabbed a noodle and did the moves, yeowoooosah. She was really working our cores. No one minded.

Lotsa karaoke happening as we twisted, splashed and yanked our bodies all over the pool. I even said to her she had a way of making us think we're playing when, in reality, she was whipping our cores into shape. She just smiled and said, "If it's not going to be fun, I don't want to be here."

Later, this morning, I watched a video about students at Wilmington College who have been identified as leader-scholars and are claiming a larger Quaker presence on that campus. It was entitled "Meyham and Foolishness" and began with this small group cutting up. Not the stuffy Quakers that might come to mind. The end settled into showing the depth and emotion of their companionship and collective journey. But they've had a lot of fun along the way.

That's what I want. More fun along the journey. Fortunately, my children often call me to that place and not always willingly.

Last week's very intense spiritual writing conference was softened and enjoyable because of several humorous forays. The deep connections can also be joyful, I often need reminding.

I hadn't banked on so many business sessions and academic discussions. There were exceptions, like being overjoyed at the crayons and paper spread across the tables of a workshop. I saw many tense at the props. The person next to me and I dove right in as blissful kids.

In the midst of many writers, I could see that as an artist, I was on a different page. A very non-intellectual page.

Thankfully, the pockets that flew in a different sphere, or the young adults who had just published a very living book stoked my creative fire. A bleak picture of the traditional good-old-publishing network was shattered by the enthusiasm, challenge and adaptation to new media of the younger generation. They worked hard and played hard – a great model.

This girl just wants to have fun ... as often as possible.

• Where is the playfulness in my life?
• Do I enjoy or seek it out with others?
• What's a time when I approached something serious with humor, joy or lightheartedness?
• What difference did that make?
• Do I model it for others or need permission?



to the
of creativity

I want
a playful

I am

the kind
that kicks off
her shoes
even if the
is too cold

instead of
to wade
in the

Monday, April 26, 2010

The grounded gypsy

have a new friend who, as I write and, perhaps, you read this, is on her way back to British Columbia from Indiana. She's either on a bus or train, I'm not sure. Neither was she when we parted from the writing conference yesterday.

She cobbled her way to the conference by ferry, sleeper train and fortuitous ride on the fly. Her plans to drive with someone fell through last minute. Somehow, I know that didn't faze her.

I told her she was a gypsy and she didn't argue. She has an untethered, ethereal quality about her, which drew me to her.

My life seems anything but ethereal and untethered most of the time. Kids, appointments, schedules, projects, etc.

However, the past five days at a rather intense spiritual writing conference allowed space and time for detaching and freedom. To the point that, about halfway through, I had to ask what day, specifically, it was. I didn't have to know or, really, even care. Meals were provided (including all sorts of gluten-free goodies like brownies, cookies and muffins I usually must bypass), a schedule was available, I had a comfy bed at a nearby 17-room Victorian house and there were beautiful grounds to traverse anytime. A paradise of sorts.

A paradise for hard work and harder lessons, which would never have occurred in my normal life.

The work of finding clarity for the next step of my life by examining the experience of others, searching my soul, seeing a plethora of possibilities, winnowing that list and settling in to what truly fits me right now. It's only with a day of perspective that I can begin to unearth some direction. There's so much swimming inside my body and mind that needs to calm, dissipate or be expelled. For me, it's not a mental process, but more of a bodily one. There was a lot of talk at the conference of embodiment. I know I physically take things in, so this spoke very deeply to me. Now, I need to unload and only keep what is mine.

A tough challenge.

So while I might prefer to be ethereal and untethered as I have been, I must ground myself to incorporate the conference experience within the context of my daily life. Another opportunity to balance the inner and outer worlds. I find the only way to do that is to take a periodic break from the grind, truly detach, then come back refreshed and, hopefully, in a different place.

I think my new friend has figured out how to live that inner-outer balance with regularity. She's a wonderful model of the grounded gypsy.

• When do I detach and untether myself?
• What happens when I do?
• How does that shape my life as a result?
• What is my inner-outer balance and how do I tend it when it becomes lopsided?
• Is there someone in my life that can be my model or guide?

Push, push, push
rush, rush rush

get this done
and that

write it down,
mark it off

it feels so

as if I'm at the
mercy of some
sinister plan

that will eat
me alive


I step

take a
time out


turn that
machine off

and myself
back on

ahhhh ...
so much better

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gentler than a ladder

I am just shepherding a group of curious kids down from the meeting-house attic. They had begged to see what I had once described as an amazing space. They could not, did not, wait for me and had someone else let them up. I hear their feet overhead and see that it is a concern to others, so I stop what I am doing (one of about three after-worship tasks) and race to the bottom of the pull-down stairs, carefully climb them to see the kids have pulled out a straw hat and cane and are doing a dance routine. Cute, but inappropriate.

I tell them they should have waited for me and that this is a tour, not playtime and convince them to descend. Funny, the frivolity ends at the top of the steep steps and I carefully guide them down. Once down, I am chatting with a number of people crammed into the small space at the bottom of the steps. I – almost unconsciously – begin to fold the ladder back. What happens next doesn't really register: the stairs unfold themselves and head toward me. There's nowhere to move, so I duck. But, darn, they crack me on the head anyway. I am immediately stunned, yet don't fall over or black out. No blood. I stumble out of the small space as tears flood my cheeks. What the heck just happened?

I am carefully tended to; luckily one of the bystanders is a nurse.

I MIGHT INTERPRET IT differently than it if were real life as it was.

The kids are up high playing, unwilling to wait for me to escort them. There is audible concerned expressed below and I feel compelled to bring them down to safety and as I do, I get hurt, stopped in my tracks.

Was I interfering? Why did I feel such a burden of care (perhaps because I had told them about the attic)? Why were some adults upset and others willing to facilitate the adventure?

There really seems to be a spiritual element and message here. I mean, after all, we' are talking about the attic of a church/meeting house. They kids ascend and descend. For a time, they are dancing above the adults and afraid to climb back down to what the adults view as safety and the kids see as boring and breaking their adventure.

I also see that the ladder literally exerted too much pressure on me, much like how I have let so many commitments in my life lately dictate its shape with very little room for me. And, recently, almost no room for a regular spiritual practice.


A friend at the pool who heard this story asked if I really believed God made that ladder hit me, because I joked that God seems to speak to me through car crashes and accidents. I said no, it's just that I don't seem to listen to the whispers to slow down and things escalate until something almost catastrophic happens to really get my attention. She also said she'd read a good suggestion that instead of writing something like prayer or meditation time into her planner, she writes simply God.

That's much harder to ignore and gentler than a ladder as a reminder.

• To what in my life am I not listening?
• Is there an escalating pattern before I do?
• Do/can I make regular time for prayer/meditation/to be with God/Spirit?
• What happens when I do?
• What happens when I don't?

Can you do this?
And this? What about this?

An automatic
Sure, sure, sure.

How did I get trapped
into this pattern?

For too long
I have staked
my identity on it.

The pleaser,
the one
counts on.

How is
it serving
my ego?

How is it
to the rest of me?

The fault
does not
lie with those

but with me

Friday, April 16, 2010

Painting my heart in the moment

t's finally here. The day, a time and payoff for which I have been waiting and working for so very long. As I write, I am watching each and every page of my artwork – all 118 pages (winnowed from many more choices, only to be pared down again) – hum through my printer and out the shoot.

I tenderly admire each, as if a child, and place them on the pile while another births itself through the printer. They seem to come back to life after sitting in a frame or dusty pile in my studio. They took on another life, when I periodically would line them up to photograph them. They continue to speak to and teach me.

It gives me such joy. And, I knew it would. It's almost indescribable and there has been so much in the way and obstacles to surmount. I can see them with perspective, in departure from when they were originally rendered. And, now, I can view them in comparison to each other, newer work and even fmy very first water color (which still speaks deeply to me), side by side and witness how I have grown, not just artistically, but spiritually and as myself.

Color and energy are the constant. But in later pieces, I see more subtlety. Maybe maturity and then I spy the fire-engine red blob that so speaks to me of being a three-year old I know I just did it a few weeks ago. I think I am recognizing and responding to many of the aspects of myself.

It's like flashes of my life, not events, but how I felt and who I was. A true gift. And, I like, really like what I see. Unlike when I flip through old photos. Those speak of what some machine captured that usually didn't feel as I did. Someone else, someone distant. Not me. The art is me, my soul.

There are the sticky-wicket times, when the world appeared bleak or I was hibernating. Yet also a large proportion showing an open heart, embracing the world. Images reflecting on unexpected gifts, tastes of the Universe, its goodness and oneness. Recorded times when I felt like goddess or running around in my birthday suit like a toddler. Many of interior spaces, water and periods of deep contemplation and reflection. So much that flashes through to me as an echo of what I have learned. In a way so different than my written words in journals.

I seem to paint what I feel and emote. Which, to me, if far more valuable and trueer than what I see with only my eyes. I paint my heart in the moment.

• What records my growth and maturity over the years?
• Do I take the time to sift through and reflect?
• What do I see?
• How does that make me feel?
• How do I capture my heart in the moment?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Up the kite string

Lily's been wanting to be with me lately – like really close and snuggly. Just us. So, she set her alarm for 6:15 am, a half hour early, and crept into my bed. Tad was up at 6, so it was just the two of us. I had forgotten how wonderful that can be. So much melts away. She has always had a loud bark, which, often, makes me forget how young she is. The snuggling reminded me that she still does need and want my care and touch.

We both fell back to sleep. Later, she asked if I felt her medicine. I thought a minute and said, yes.

Ever since I've discovered I have fibromyalgia, she has physically comforted me in particularly bad spells. Either I haven't had as many lately or I haven't remembered to ask. So much of parenting happens in a blur that special nuances and rituals get lost. Even forgotten. I am so glad to be reminded that she is my medicine. Wild thing that she can be, she has a really big heart.

I have always loved the book,
Where the Wild Things Are, and get a lump in my throat when I watch the movie because Lily is Max and every kid who feels alone, different or isolated ... until he finds a kindred spirit. As Carol, the wild thing, and Max are medicine for each other, Lily and I do the same. I have that relationship, though differently, with each of my daughters.

What intrigues me most about Lily is show different we are. Autumn I know like the back of my hand, which has its pluses (I totally understand her) and minuses (because I do, I often pay more attention to Lily and her wildness). I am learning that Lily and I are mirrors for each other. I teach her about discipline, dedication and respect and she reminds me to be fierce and playful. Sometimes together. Some day, I want to write a book called
Letting my Lily out.

I had an interesting dream several years ago about being attached to what seemed like a kite string and looking up to see where it went. When I did, I saw Lily boosting herself up and waving for me to follow. She is fearless. It was as if she knew the grand adventure of climbing into the mystery and had no qualms about starting.

I'd put my child-development books away and hadn't thought much about them until a month or so ago, when Lily's behavior perplexed me. Then I read a really revealing article from the Waldorf School on the development of nine-year-olds and how it is such a pivotal time as they move away from the comfort and safety of childhood and familial closeness to gaining a sense of singleness, isolation and identity. The whispers of individuation. I feel that on the opposite end of the spectrum as I grow beyond middle age and into new, uncharted and wild territory.

Guess I will always be following her up the kite string. Thank heavens I have a trusted, though sometimes feisty, guide!

• What are my children or the children I know teaching me about myself?
• Is there anything in their development, fears or anxieties with which I can identify?
• Is there anything in their fearlessness and enthusiasm that I should reclaim?
• Who is my medicine? To whom am I medicine?
• What's up my kite string?

I've been

at the
that I
noticed the
the string
looped around
my wrist
so as not to
get lost
for me,
not to
get lost
the tugging
made me
notice and
look up
up to
into the
with a
smile and
wild wave,
begging me
to follow
I did

Monday, April 12, 2010

The hand of One

saw the sparkle well before I saw the what-looked-about-like-a-second-grade girl float onto the bus steps. The early-morning sun caught her jelly shoes just right, transforming her into a fairy princess ascending her coach. The way she danced up to the vehicle as the sun glowed orb-like around her let me know the shoes were new and her present pride and joy. They were magick.

Minutes later, I watched mystical little bubbles, as if something ethereal and effervescent coursed through them, encircle my arms after they cut from midair into the wet surface during my lap swim. They were there as I initiated the workout, easily stroking end to end. And still, as my heart beat faster and faster and I pushed myself mid workout. And, yet again, as I slowed and cooled. They never left me. Magick.

Yesterday, Autumn pointed that word out to me in a title at a bookstore: magick she said is different from magic and what our beloved nine-year-old friend Caleb says he practices. He's always listened to trees, chanted, come from another place and lived like no one else I know. Magick.

I don't know what the actual definition is, but I believe it has a lot to do with mysticism, belief, trust, faith, awareness and openness. Those times when the veil between physical and other worlds thins.

Perhaps it's always there, we just have to be in the right frame to experience or notice it.

I wonder why I was privy this morning. Possibly because I had spent all of the previous afternoon and evening digging in my garden, planting lettuce and spinach cuttings and 11 trees alongside Autumn. I was happily dirty and grounded. Or maybe that it was Sunday and I had deeply entered worship to that place that's almost sleep, but not quite. Where I feel loved, cared for, nurtured and totally safe. Entranced, yet still aware of my surroundings, though they don't distract me. Where I can feel only love. Nothing more, nothing less.

Conceivably the ineffable lunch I'd had Friday with spiritual friends sorting out some difficulties, peppered with laughter, tears and extremely open hearts. Spirit took the extra chair. Or Saturday's dinner lovingly prepared by my sister of choice and all she required was my presence, not a thing more.

As I recount these imagined reasons, I see what gifts I have been given just since Friday. Deep gifts. Precious gifts. Unconditional gifts. All from One hand through others open to be used.

I think that's the same hand that parts the veil, on occasion, just so we know what lay beyond.

• When have I experienced the veil parting?
• What, exactly, did I experience?
• What prepared me or preceded it?
• What kind of space does that create in me?
• Am I able to merge even a piece of it into myself?

golden morning

glowing girl
swirls onto the bus

bubbles boost
my swim,
armoring me
with love
and energy

forcing me
to examine
all of the recent

of the open

and the hand
of ONE

thank you

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A hard heart

ow do you let go?

Of all of it: resentment, responsibility you feel isn't yours, old attachments, draining commitments, feeling let down?

Just as I feel I am making progress, something, usually external, crops up and I feel I am back at square one. Except I don't usually know that for awhile. And I blame the external for an internal struggle.

Thank God, I have a very wise shamanic healer/counselor. He reminded me yesterday of several things:

#1 Responsibility is the ability to respond.

#2 Choices are not black and white; there is a rainbow of color.

#3 Unmet needs often color how we respond to others.

#4 The creative life requires discipline.

Being able to respond implies a choice, that the answer does not have to be automatic, other- or self-damaging. It reminds me of wisdom I re-learned last fall and must remind myself of again: "IF I can't do it with love, don't do it." This week a school mother called and asked if I'd be on the PTO board. It was easy to reply with an immediate no, yet I felt I had to explain why. I did, however, stick with my no. Much harder when it's someone with whom I have a close relationship.

My gut reaction is always to say yes ... no matter what. I like the idea of a constellation and varying degrees of choices. I adore color, so why not start making colorful choices, not just the dreary black-and-white yes or no. This puts a whole new spin on the feeling-compelled-to-say yes mindset.

How many times have I been upset with someone else, when it was really something within myself I didn't like or had not tended to. Very, very often. I have been paying more attention to my inner children, but still forget, at times, until they grow whiny and get my attention via some thing or one external. No one else will met my needs for me. That's my job.

Trying to carve out time between duties, responsibilities and obligations for a creative life does not a creative life make. Setting aside that time to write and paint, then working the others around it is a truer plan. I get fed, release that constant energy pushing me forward and can then take care of others and other things. I also believe that if I don't respect that as well as my boundaries, neither will others.

Maybe it's less letting go and more re-prioritizing to be my authentic self, the one who rages to create, yet also respond lovingly to others.

• What in my life do I need to grasp less tightly or completely let go?
• What effect is that tightness and inflexibility having on me and my relationships?
• Can I creatively see more colorful, perhaps more Spirit-led, choices?
• Are there things I should re-arrange or re-prioritize?
• What are my inner children/deep needs seeking right now?

a hard
heart is

and not a
place to
live for

it's easy
to pin that
on others

when, in
it's within

what can
I give

that I
have been

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In the cover of darkness

How come in the darkness of night, everything seems so ominous? I awake at 3 a.m. (I used to more often and am grateful it's not so frequent) and
everything, I mean everything, weighs so heavily on my mind. I think I had had a very heavy dream, which woke me ... although I don't recall it.

This morning all of that worry seems like a mere shadow ... the one under my eyes. However, at the time, it seemed disastrous and anxiety-inducing. Not a nice place to be when sleep should be rejuvenating.

What is it, exactly, that kicks into gear in my mind (primarily) and body at that hour to instill such panic? Is it connected to whatever I had been dreaming? Is the sense of isolation and loneliness when no one else is awake the culprit? Is it hormones and aging? I've read that as we get older, our sleep gets less and worse. I used to be such a fantastic sleeper. My head would hit the pillow and I would be sacked out til light and fully rested. Ready to tackle anything.

This morning, I drug myself out of bed shortly before the alarm at 5:25 a.m. and headed to the gym. I was shocked, and not pleasantly, when our longstanding instructor had been replaced. And, perhaps because of my 3 a.m. mindset, not very generous in spirit and a bit grumbly. Until I started to pay attention and found she was, indeed, a terrific instructor and taught an amazing workout. My body is still basking in the afterglow. I also suspect my change of attitude happened as the sun rose, absorbing the darkness.

know I adore the light: warm sunshine, reflections on the water, sunset and rise. But, early evening as the sun blurs to orangish-red has always been my favorite time of day. When the daylight hours have been rewarding and there's the promise of more to come with evening. That darkness looms close. That liminal, transitional time.

I was re-introduced [because I tend to forget important lessons] last fall to the idea of spiritual darkness being a productive and transformational space. Much like hibernation when things are happening beneath the surface, under the cover of dark. I had not thought it it quite in that light before -- as a positive and necessary place. As a Quaker, we're always talking about being in the light as if darkness is the evil antithesis. Quite frankly, I've probably felt more in the dark than in the light in my adult lifetime. And it was affirming to know that it's ok. I think I have been striving for that illusive enlightenment or nirvana where everything is placid and nothing should matter. I have never achieved that and am not sure I ever will. I feel like my heart's too big. It picks up so much, perhaps more than it can hold. I guess I don't know how to release all of that and still be me.

A friend at the pool this morning told me a neat trick to use at night. "Think of your thoughts as clouds," she said. And I quickly added "and let them pass." "Well, no," she said, " try to go to the spaces between the clouds."

Wow – what a concept. Perhaps that's the liminal place between light and dark and the balance.

Think I'll try it the next time I'm awake at 3 a.m. or, maybe, even in a daytime meditation.

• How do I settle my mind when it becomes anxious?
• What are my triggers?
• Where's my balance of living in light and dark?
• Have I been able to safely navigate the darkness?
• What are those spaces between for me?

bolt awake
in total

nothing to
my mind,

so it
into overdrive

wielding havoc
on my body

how do I
flip that

can I begin
to think of
and night

as necessary

and quit

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mosaic of the cosmos

I had a message last week in worship:

There is no bigger picture,
just a series of smaller ones.
Like mosaic pieces that,
together, form one –
a creation of beauty.

It's been haunting me all week. At the time it was an ah-ha moment about me continually whining for a clear path and to know/see everything ahead or at once.

Later in the day, during a clearness committee* for a dear friend whose position of six years is ending, I recognized that she embodies living faithfully and comfortable with one piece at a time. Her piece.

I have joked the past couple of years that if Spirit had showed me my path ahead of time, I would have never moved. It would have looked too hard and rocky. But that would have been my myopia and lack of trust. For the journey has been unlike anything I could have fathomed or chosen. I am learning it it not a joke, but reality. In our humanness, we are stuck on control, which is, essentially, the opposite of trust.

I am progressing in accepting my one small piece at a time. I don't think I could digest any more. Tucked into that acceptance is trust and a wonderfully new knowledge that it will be more than all right, it will be authentically me and wonderful and richer than anything I could even comprehend.

It's really the lesson of living in the present, taking my one piece and really living into it. Not debating what will come next or what happened previously. But just being with it as fully as I can.

Last week's revelation makes me see that if we all learn that (some already know this and others, like me, are figuring it out), this mosaic that we are building is truly a glorious thing. More so when we can trust to do just our part – and do it with love and joy and enthusiasm – and no more. A work in progress for which only the master artist has the whole picture.

* Quakers may call a clearness committee for discerning anything central in their life from marriage and congregation membership to spiritual struggles and career changes, etc. It's a wonderful corporate tool.

• Have there been times when I could accept the one piece of my path and trust?
• How was that different from the times I struggled to maintain control?
• Have I figured out the balance of trust, yet doing what's required of me ... not just waiting for something to happen, even if it means patiently waiting?
• What's it like when I glimpse someone else's piece or even mine?
• Can I begin to see the oneness and connection in our universe?

Often, I have
selfishly held on
to this one
piece, unaware
that if I use
it well ...

use it to the
best of my
ability and
gifts, as
others are,

truly amazing

is being created

and I am one,
joyful, loving
part of the
grand mosaic

of the cosmos

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Shedding the mask(s)

've been pondering the idea of how an introvert lives in community.

This forming theory was tested with a group trip to a lodge over spring break. Don't get me wrong, it was a wonderful time and experience. Shared cooking, laughing, no worries about kids because there was always another parent around.

One of my fondest moments was in the kitchen preparing a dinner, and cooking stirs my soul (no pun intended), while someone I had just met did all of the hard-core chopping. And another gave periodic massages! It freed me to do the creative thing and my faithful chopper said she was happy for the job. I felt I really got to know her as she wielded the knife, creating a meditative staccato, and I merely concocted the fruits of her labor.

I only strayed away once on a solitary walk, but did some contemplative work, often interrupted as I sat near the fire ring, not very far from the cabin. Yet it was often a welcome break as people were genuinely interested in what I was doing. It was thoughtful and caring. Perhaps because it seemed I was the only one doing "work."

In between laughs and stories, there was some intimate sharing.

It was the right amount of time: three nights and four days. I returned home physically wiped out, however. Everyone else in my family was buoyed by the trip.

Why is that? On some level, it's frustrating. But I have learned that my introversion (ok, I am just over the introvert line in Myers-Briggs profiling and can do the extrovert-thing quite well) is so finely linked to my energy levels and how I feed myself.

Summer is one of those times with kids home 24/7 that zaps me. Also countless snow days and long holidays with continual family visiting. All joyful events and occasions, but a painful physical reality for me.

It's the silence and being with myself in that space that balances all of the rough-and-tumble of group dynamics. Yet in the vortex of the contagious activity, I forget to take that time.

Sometimes I wonder if it's a mask I wear in groups that tires me. I often think I have dropped my masks for the most part. [Someone recently said to me about myself that "what you see is what you get" and that is how I intend to live.] Perhaps, I haven't entirely.

What is that remaining mask? One that doesn't want to disappoint, create waves, leave the circle? Or one that has always drawn its identity as the helper (my enneagram type) and can't quite be shed that even if it would free me?

Takes a lot of energy to wear that particular facade.

• How does my introversion/extroversion work in community?
• How have I learned to balance that with my personal needs?
• Am I aware of how that affects others as well as their own dynamic or similar struggle?
• What masks do I continue to wear? Especially in community?
• Which ones can I put down?

It's so effortless
and automatic
that I don't even
see it happening

that "on" switch,
getting the
mask off
the shelf

It's worked so
well in the past,
I am
reluctant to
pack it

What if I could?