Archives for the month of: August, 2015

It’s morning, and the start of a new work week. I have my coffee, and I sip it contentedly contemplating the good night’s rest behind me, the work day ahead, and the reassuring joy knowing that my traveling partner will return from afar sometime today – although I won’t see him, myself, until tomorrow it feels good to know he will soon be near.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Love is not ‘forever’, generally; it is, only as long as it is, at which point it discontinues being. Some loves are brutally slaughtered by the will or disregard of participants. Some loves fade due to lack of investment or involvement. Some loves linger, maintained and managed, nurtured and valued, until all those doing that loving have passed on from the living to the dead – and a love like that may seem infinite, because all those touched by it recognize something remarkable and it lingers in their recollection. So…not quite infinite, certainly no more infinite than the yearnings that keep the desire for love ever in our attention, and at the top of so many to do lists. I am rambling on about love, although my thoughts were elsewhere, infinity-wise, until my traveling partner pinged me a cheery good morning; hearing from him, of course my thoughts are of love. 🙂

Raindrops on a rose named

Raindrops on a rose named “X-rated”.

I am sipping my coffee and thinking about life’s infinite journey; each day a new experience, each moment my own to engage, to enjoy, to savor, and I am offered a seemingly infinite series of such days, one after the after, each new… It’s not forever, though. My time is now, and will be until…yeah. Death. We are mortal. Life feels continuous. The journey itself seems strangely timeless in some moments, as though it does quite literally go on ‘forever’. Day after day. Moment upon moment. Thoughts. Emotions. Experiences. Dreams. Then, one day, I won’t wake up for another. Approximately infinite, because while my journey continues along a seemingly endless timeline of moments, at some point I, myself, am finite. I sip my coffee, still feeling quite content. Questions of ‘what then?’ don’t distress me; I am here, now. Perhaps there is something, perhaps there is nothing, in either case I am here, now, living my life and generally that’s enough. I haven’t learned all there is to know, yet. I haven’t found my way to the wisest possible perspective, yet. I haven’t mastered the practices upon which I build my contentment in life. I haven’t run out of ideas for paintings – nor exhausted the nearly endless supply of inspiration that fuels that creative work. I haven’t answered all the questions – or even figured out all the best questions to ask. I have not made an intimate sustainable connection with all the worthy beings with whom I might do so in one lifetime. I have not mastered love, Love, and loving – nor have I mastered The Art of Being. There is plenty to do, to experience, and to achieve in this one mortal lifetime – and how magical that there is no rush? Each moment its own, worthy of being savored… Each day unique, worthy of being explored… Each love, each lover, entirely individual and quite special, and worthy of being cherished – however things end. Aren’t we each many beginnings and endings, as beings?

Timeless questions; their greatest value is in the asking.

Timeless questions. Random thoughts. A series of moments.

I’m just saying. It’s a journey – the journey is the destination, and there’s more than enough time to take it moment by moment, awake, aware, alive; we reach the conclusion soon enough without hurrying. Being in this moment, now, and only this one, tends to slow the clock just a bit…or…approximately, seemingly so. I enjoy living most when I let ‘urgency’ fall by the wayside; nothing is more urgent than living my life well, and enjoying each moment I can, and learning something of value from those less enjoyable moments along the way.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

So…this morning I sip my coffee, listening to the trickle of the aquarium, and the hushed sounds of the start of commuter traffic on a busy street somewhat near by, and watching the sky turn from night to day outside my patio door. I am unconcerned with other moments than this one, now. It’s a nice enough moment, as moments go, and somewhat uneventful. A moment on a Monday morning, worthy of being, but not in any way spectacular…letting even such a moment slip away unappreciated, unnoticed, un-lived would shorten my mortal journey in some subtle way…perhaps that’s the point I’m really getting at this morning; now is infinite. Well. Approximately infinite. 🙂

Look deeper. What matters most?

Look deeper. What matters most?

Today is a good day to be engaged in the moment, and living life beautifully. Today is a good day to move forward on my journey. Today is a good day to be reassured that however many minutes of my journey I may share with others, the journey I make is, itself, entirely my own. Today is a good day to choose, to question, and to walk on.  Today is a good day to live without waiting for the right set of circumstances.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

It’s after noon. I am making another cup of coffee; it’s a process that will go much faster once I actually turn on the stove to heat the water. 🙂 I have a  headache, and a feeling of bone-deep fatigue that has crept over me since I woke some 5 hours ago.

Generally speaking, the errands setting up the new week are already behind me; I could just stop now, and relax if I choose, without any ill consequence being obviously predictable. Even the grocery shopping for the upcoming week, based on a definite shift in nutritional and calorie content, is completed – at least I think it is, from the vantage point of here, now, and not hungry. There are still things on my ‘to do list’ – but there always are. These days that’s generally a weekly versus daily list, and I pluck things from the list parked on Sunday’s calendar all week long. Figuring out how I use my time, idealized for my own needs living alone, is an ongoing process.

Healthier options include growing my own food to nourish my body and spirit, both.

Healthier options include growing some of my own food to nourish my body and spirit, both.

Figuring out food is an ongoing process too. I like to eat well, and have impulse control issues; it’s not an ideal combination for my longer term health and fitness. As a treat tonight, and to use the remainder of an open box of pasta, I plan to have a simple meal of pasta tossed with Greek seasoning, cubes of fresh goat cheddar, and delicious ripe grape tomatoes and zucchini from my garden. The pantry is stocked with healthy things. The ingredients on hand do not easily support recipes for rich calorie-laden sweets. The ‘fruit bowl’ on the counter has just enough fruit to consume during the week, and durable veggies like onions, sweet potatoes, and not-yet-ripe avocados. Any attempt to over-indulge in sweets, desserts, or calorie-rich exotic meals will be thwarted by the lack of suitable ingredients on hand. 🙂 Additional effort as time-delay works well for me, and is a favored form of ‘positive self-sabotage’; if I have to go to the store for a bunch of stuff to make something ‘special’, I’m pretty likely to default to healthier options as I think it through during the ‘planning stage’.

Time spent in tending the patio garden means fresh herbs for cooking, and a fresh perspective on the day.

Time spent in tending the patio garden means fresh herbs for cooking, and a fresh perspective on the day.

These are pretty mundane sorts of observations, I know. The weekend winds down finding me feeling discontent with the outcome of a number of details, and rather than sink deeper into an irritable funk, I figured I’d just talk through some of the things that are going pretty well. 😉

The headache finds me listening to much quieter music this afternoon. It is another way I am treating myself well, after a very late and somewhat disappointing night. The coffee helps with the headache, and I take time to review my self-care checklist and get on track with practices that I know support my day-to-day feeling of wellness and contentment: writing and meditation are the two big ones in this moment.

I am ever the beginner, practicing the simple practices.

I am ever the beginner, practicing the simple practices.

It is often the case if I am feeling discontent, disconnected, or dissatisfied, it is meditation that helps most, and most quickly. There’s some amusement in that for me; as little as 2 and a half years ago I would have said that meditation ‘doesn’t work for me’ and that ‘I’ve tried that’. I could not have been more mistaken. I was completely overlooking the varied sorts and styles of meditation that exist, and that they do not all achieve the same end, or function in the same way. I didn’t understand the nature of practicing the practices, or that meditation is a practice, not a task to complete with a goal of ‘mastery’ to achieve success. I held on to the understanding of meditation as a noun, and I was not yet acquainted with the understanding that it is most certainly very much a verb.

I meditate a lot. I don’t have a commitment to fancy guided meditations, or very particular structured routines dependent on a unique seating arrangement or location. I don’t follow a set specific approach trademarked by one learned elder or another. I haven’t learned a foreign language to describe what I am doing or to receive profound teachings from an expert from afar. I don’t travel to a studio to meditate with a group, or spend any money on my meditation practice. I have not actually “progressed” beyond that simplest of meditations focused on breath, for my day-to-day anytime-I-need-it meditation. It’s that simple, honestly, and that effective – it is enough [for me]. Being present, seated comfortably, focused on my breath, just being, and allowing myself to become still within is so simple…it only requires practice, and also some practice, and perhaps beyond that a bit of an investment in practicing… It sounds so simple, as verbs go, ‘to meditate’… My mind wanders. I come back to my breath. Thoughts crowd in, and feelings build around them. I come back to my breath. I find myself fidgeting sometimes, like a child, I bring my focus back to my breath. At some point…there is no more struggle, and I simply am. It does require practice. It sounds ‘easier’ than it ‘is’…but it isn’t manual labor, and any frustration is itself simply another feeling coming up, and I return to my breath when it does. Does this all sound very ‘pointless’ or repetitive? That’s okay, too. It gets me what I need; stillness, and a calm within that builds emotional resilience over time, and slowly teaches me perspective while it somehow insulates my reactive nervous system from the effect of small things going awry. “Meditation works for me.” This is what I mean by that (if that’s vague or annoying grammatically, please imagine I have drawn a red arrow back to the start of the paragraph). 🙂

Few things are more annoying that a venue filled with people on their phones while an artist is performing; I took this picture before the performance began, and decided to put my phone away and just be there, in the moment.

I took this picture before the performance began, then decided to put my phone away and be fully present in the moment.

I am tired and short on sleep today. The concert, itself, was a bit disappointing and I chose to leave before the band I went to see even played; I was in too much pain to wait through the tedium as the opening act continued to recycle tired beats for yet another hour (3 hours was enough). By midnight, it was no longer worth the time or discomfort to remain at the venue as it became progressively more crowded, and stifling hot on top of my own pain. Disappointed? Sure. Annoyed, mostly. If there had been adequate expectation setting in the advertising that the headliner would not go on stage until after midnight I’d have planned accordingly and gone much later.  Worse, the opening act spent the last hour repeatedly playing what sounded like the end of his set, and behaving as though he was wrapping things up…then continuing. That was actually having an emotional effect on many of the people around me, as well; no one was there to see the opening act, and we were all eager to see the headliner. Still, it was an evening out, and that was itself an adventure that was generally quite positive and fun. Tales for another time, perhaps.

Building contentment over a coffee in the garden.

Building contentment over a coffee in the garden.

The simplest practices that sustain and nurture me are often the ones I am most keenly aware of when I miss a step; this morning, waking with some eager enthusiasm for the day, I rushed off on errands without taking time for meditation, for writing, or even for a second cup of coffee. I’ve felt vaguely irritated and rushed ever since. There’s a lesson there, and it’s time to catch up – and slow down. 🙂






I slept deeply through the night, evening sleeping in far later than is typical for me. I woke to that light-hearted chiming of the ‘don’t forget to take your meds’ alarm that goes off ‘well past when I am likely to be awake’. 🙂 I woke to tangled hair that sticks up in the most ludicrous way – on just one side – and the scent of rain on the breezes. It rained last night – it didn’t just rain, the thunderstorm woke me around 2:30 am, but not with nearby thunder – it was too distant for that. I didn’t wake to flashes of bright white-hot lightening scorching the sky for an instant. I didn’t wake to the sounds of other humans waking to the storm. I woke to the music.

I generally don’t associate music – melodic sounds of hang drum, particularly – with rain storms. I do love the sounds and scents of rain, but it is easy enough to hear that they are their own thing, and not to be confused with some other sounds, particularly melodies on metal. I woke because I could hear the sound of actual music…very like the sounds of hang drum. Even after waking, the lovely melody was audible – and amateur. This was no professional playing something recognizable, or structured – it was improvised, and a little random, although sweet and charming, like someone trying something new. I got up to discover the source of the music…had I perhaps left the stereo on very quietly, and some long forgotten recording of a friend or stranger turned up on a playlist, finally waking me? In the living room, I could hear the rain more clearly, and through the patio door I could see it coming down, and see the occasional flash of distant lightning. I could still hear the music – I scanned the lawn and pool area half expecting to see that some festival had crept near, and to realize I was not actually awake at all, but only dreaming. I could still hear the music…as I turned I realized…I recognized the source. I was indeed listening to melodic percussion on metal; the storm driving raindrops onto the metal cover over the chimney pipe, and the one above the vent from the bathroom fan, too – how is it that I hear this here, and never before, in other places, I wonder?

I open the patio door the let the apartment fill with the scent of rain freshened air, and take a seat on love seat to hear more of this unexpected concert, enjoying the whimsy and unexpected delight of having an apartment that plays its own music for me when it rains. The world is quiet for a time, no audible traffic, and only the sound of breezes, and built-in “rain drum”, melodic and wonderful, keeping time in the wee hours. Shortly afterward, the rain slowed, and the music stopped. I returned to bed, and to sleep, to dream of love and lovers.

I woke slowly much later, uncertain that I wanted to be awake at all…unsure why I was seemingly so committed to sleeping in, then remembering the late night ahead…torn between sleeping and waking, I linger too long on the wondering about it, and found myself decided by default; I am awake. That’s okay. Coffee sounds good, by this point, and I am already wondering if I might have heard from my traveling partner…

After the rain, the morning breeze carries the scent of roses to me while I write.

“Kiss n Tell” blooming, coffee on the patio, and thoughts of love… I enjoy the moment.

Today is a good day to enjoy unexpected delights in an accepting way, and be reminded that this fleeting lifetime is filled with wonders. It’s up to me to choose to enjoy them, more often than I choose to be annoyed by something else. 🙂

I am grooving to a Petey Pablo track, waiting for water to boil, and thinking how very reasonable that there is rain in the forecast; my traveling partner is out-of-town for a few days, and it seems reasonable to me that the very skies would have an emotional meltdown over the lack of his good company. I’m okay, because he’s merely traveling, and love has no proximity requirement, or expiration date. The moody cloudy threat-of-rain skies seem mildly appropriate, is all – or at least, entirely understandable. 🙂

I woke in the middle of my dreams, which isn’t my favorite experience. They seemed ‘relevant’ and potentially ‘insightful’ or ‘eye-opening’, but once my eyes did actually open they dissipated too quickly for further consideration…there were people…saying things…with emotional subtext…somewhere. Dreams are rarely urgently worthy of my attention, although it took me a lifetime to recognize that the headgames my conscious mind sometimes plays with me (to my detriment and disadvantage) are not off limits to my sleeping consciousness, and my demons dance regardless; it doesn’t necessarily give them significance, or meaning that is useful.

My coffee is very nearly perfect this morning – and tempting, although too hot to drink. The cup is too hot to hold comfortably…I found that out the hard way. The coffee is too hot to drink, and the tempting cloud of whipped cream I topped it with as a treat this morning tempts me overmuch – my tongue and the roof of my mouth paid the price. Lesson learned? Well…maybe. I’m still a primate, doing my best, and in the mornings my decision-making is at its daily ‘quality low point’ until my brain is really fully awake. I give myself the courtesy of refraining from self-deprecatory hassling or mockery – I don’t need it from me, really, I already know my fingertips are a bit sore from trying to hold that cup, and my mouth is already scorched from trying to sip too-hot-coffee. I think I’m good there, no further berating needed. lol

A paragraph later, and some fun dancing to Gangnam Style – I love how random my morning playlist is – my coffee is finally sipping temperature. I dance across the living room, coffee in hand, headed for the open patio blinds to watch the dawn…my neighbors probably think I’m mad. I don’t find value in self-consciousness or shame being a part of my daily experience – certainly, even being over 50, and not ‘dancer fit’ at all, I am disinclined to give one moment to whether a woman my age/weight ‘should’ be dancing where people can see me. That’s such obvious bullshit it was urgently necessary to put it aside as soon as I woke to the understanding that it is indeed bullshit. Dancing feels good. A quick exploration of dance styles and fads over the many decades of humanity will reveal that some of it is definitely more about how that must feel than what it looks like. 🙂

A favorite Crystal Method track turns up – and I turn it up; I’m excited to see them live on Saturday. There’s definitely that moment considering the concert when a feeling of self-consciousness does arise; I feel it most when I consider how much younger ‘everyone else’ may be, how more easily they may move, how beautiful and sexy youth is… Youth, I remind myself gently, is very much its own thing, with its own fears and doubts. Nothing to be concerned about for me – over 50? I have a lifetime of experience and perspective, and I am having my own experience. For me, it’s sort of the point of that favorite track in the first place.

Detail from "Emotion and Reason" 2012

Letting emotion lead on life’s journey may not be ideal…

What if everything were suddenly quite different? What if my traveling partner didn’t make it back? What if I woke up utterly unable to dance because my arthritis had become so severe that my spine wouldn’t move at all? I live alone now; what if I have a stroke and there’s no one here to help me? What if my resources run out before my life time does? “What if” is some nasty stuff – it quickly becomes anxiety if I give it a chance to grab onto something I can’t shake off. I’ve learned something sort of interesting about the emotional ‘what if’ scenarios, though; if I go ahead and allow myself to consider the extreme fully, frankly, and in a truly practical way – without the emotions that so urgently want to have their say being the focus of attention, it usually becomes quite obviously both fictitious – like so much of what my mind offers up – and manageable if it played out in real life along the most likely trajectory. For example…what if my traveling partner didn’t make it back? I would grieve, no doubt there, I would grieve a long while. The fear of grief and grieving is what drives the anxiety, but the fear isn’t even real fear – it’s a projection of an emotional reaction to a situation that has not happened. So, I comfortably set the fear aside, along with the recognition that I would grieve. Then I take a look at what life would be without my traveling partner, and come up with… living. Outside the fear of grief, there’s little to cause stress…I would live my life, working, paying bills, painting, writing, gardening, investing in other aspects of my social life, eventually (most likely) cultivating another satisfying adult romantic sexual relationship with a worthy partner… Nothing could ever change what my traveling partner and I have shared so far, and that would always be mine, and part of my experience. “What if” scenarios tend to be this way, for me, explored they are harmless – but there’s the rather practical matter of refusing to allow the fear of my emotions to become the fear of my potential imagined circumstances.

"Emotion and Reason" lit differently - how we view emotions, and how we use reason, make a difference.

How I view emotions, and how I use reason, makes a difference in my experience.

Isn’t it strange that emotions can be so scary? It seems odd when I think about it; they have no more substance than my thoughts, although they are a more commanding experience in the moment. I find that my reactions and attention reliable turn toward my emotions first and more attentively, than to my reason. I try to be mindful of that, because they are also quite intense, and not particularly tied to ‘reality’. Emotions are often driven by assumptions, expectations – or something I ate, or the ebb and flow of my hormones, or…nothing I can directly observe or be certain of. Sometimes they are more similar to the experience of taking a mind-altering substance than they are to ‘reality’ in any real sense. They are most certainly not to be trusted in life’s driver’s seat for long.

Perspective matters. "Emotion and Reason" acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow 2012

Perspective matters.
“Emotion and Reason” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow 2012

Today is a good day to breathe, to feel, and to be mindful of the content of my thoughts; they have only the substance I give them. Today is a good day to be present, to be okay right now, and to walk on – fear has trouble keeping up when I do. Today is a good day for love, and for living. Today is a good day to notice how very small the world actually is, and how little distance matters to love.

Starting the day thinking of love - it's a very good start.

Starting the day thinking of love – it’s a very good start.

I am sipping my coffee after a very good night’s sleep, and waking with relative ease to the sound of the alarm. I am in pain this morning, and so stiff that I’m more than a little grateful that my bed doesn’t rest on the floor – how would I get up? Sometime after the shower that eases some of the stiffness, and the yoga that moves that process along, and the meditation that insulates my nervous system and emotions from the battering the world may (or may not) deliver later, I am sipping my coffee and letting my mind coast…

Humble beginnings; the herbs in my garden have the power to change an entire meal.

Humble beginnings; the herbs in my garden have the power to change an entire meal.

I find myself considering how often the movies deliver to us a Hero (or more rarely a Heroine) who is somehow ‘The One’ – the only being in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and a dash of good fortune and great sidekicks. They rarely seem aware they are The One. It takes persuasion, convincing, sometimes even force to get them to understand that ‘everything’ depends on them. Heroes are humble like that. At some point in any good tale, the Hero has some sort of awakening moment, at which point he (or she) recognizes ‘the truth of it’ and goes forth to save the day – with some luck, and the help of their trusty sidekicks. Most of us have a sidekick or two in life, someone – a friend, a family member, a work buddy, a lover – who is reliably ‘there for us’ when we need emotional support. Most often, we (and by we I mean ‘me’) don’t seem aware that we’re the hero of the story…that we are, in our own narrative, The One. So far so good in hero territory, I suppose…only…where’s that moment of awakening, when we each take on the world – or at least our own circumstances – and solve the puzzle, master the challenge, clear the hurdle, or conquer our foe? There’s a metaphor here, but there is also something very directly real and true in it. We do well to be our own heroes, and to embrace our opportunity to be The One in our own experience.

Remember Keanu Reeves, in The Matrix, that moment where he begins to do his virtual training in the matrix, learning to fight, to fly, all that? When did you last take your own education so seriously that you plugged into a machine and just went for it – for hours, or days, or years if it takes that? (It’s those damned verbs, again!) How much time do you put into becoming the person you most want to be, investing  your will in that endeavor with mindful deliberately chosen actions? I know I could do more, myself, and within the thoughts I find the questions that light the way along the path ahead.

Be ‘The One’. Be ‘The One’? What does that even mean, really? I hear it, and I feel a certain implicit understanding of the thing…but that’s hardly enough to manifest a change, is it? Being ‘The One’ in my own narrative, the hero of my own experience, implies that I value myself as worthy – even in my humblest bumbling and fumbling and inept moments, even as I learn things I didn’t know previously, even as I swing and miss, even as I try – when I meant to do. Being ‘The One’ in my own story means trusting the hero to save the day – all the while aware that I am my own hero, and saving the day clearly means there will be verbs involved, and as in any exciting hero’s tale, I will likely get it wrong once or twice, bring my world to the brink of disaster perhaps, but always finding my way at the last minute. Or something very like that.

Isn’t it okay to grow and learn and change? Isn’t incremental change over time part of the process of healing and growth? How much more easily will I make progress if I am seeing myself as the hero of the story – and actively investing in my further growth, trusting that the journey will take me where I most need to go, and accepting my missteps along with my great triumphs as being part of the experience all along? Yes, it is okay – totally okay. I know the truth of it, even as I struggle sometimes with the reality of how many damned verbs really are involved, and how relentlessly continuous the journey can sometimes feel. Being ‘The One’ has immense power to heal and transform and bring change…but there’s rarely a great prophet around to tell us who we are when we most need to hear it – making us, once again, ‘The One’ – the one with the message to the woman in the mirror.

A beautiful sunset, a cherished experience.

A beautiful sunset, a cherished experience.

I enjoyed last evening in the company of a friend. The conversation went a lot of places, and as with some friends more than others, the conversation was fairly ‘deep’. I woke this morning from dreams filled with reminders of things said, feeling inspired, and experiencing a deeper understanding of what being ‘The One’ in my own experience may require of me in will, and in action. I’m not likely to save New York City from disaster…or to save the world from alien invaders…but I very easily could be ‘The One’ who saves the day – my day – probably from me. 🙂

I take a moment, sipping my coffee, to appreciate how many times friends become sidekicks when I most need one, and how often sidekicks turn out to be great prophets revealing that particular truth I most need to hear. Today is a good day to be grateful for the connections I share with people – we are each so very human, each having our own experience – each the hero of our own adventure story – it’s quite wonderful when we connect, overlap, share the moment – and save the world.