Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pic and a Poem #14

           we are here,
           great torchbearers
           of this lifetime
           born into the light
           of our inheritance,
           from a long line
           of sacred blood and spirit
           we carry that flame
           kindled in our hearts
           the fires of
           all the love,
           all the pain,
           the infinite
           joys and struggles
           what was done and
           what was left undone
           in the dark unknown
           of what might come
           raise your lantern,
           release all fear,
           guided by grace and angels
           step into what calls you, 
           the many behind you
           will not let you fall

    Today is Halloween and I already confronted fear as I showed up to write this. What I wrote yesterday was so well received that it caused me hesitation in writing today. In my mind I thought "What if that is the best? What if nothing more comes?". I drew myself back to my original intention, that this is a creative experiment, and I am simply trying to be an open channel and trusting that what emerges is what was needed on that day, in that moment, even if it is for myself alone.

As I relaxed into that it occurred to me that today is Halloween, the day where the veil between this world and the spirit world is thin, and this image popped into my head. I went and found the photo and the words came from there. These words are the very reminder I needed, to have faith in my journey and that everything is arriving on time, through a guidance beyond me and behind me. I am not alone.

I wish I had my own family tree of photographs to use here, but living in China, this idea of honoring ones ancestors is a prominent part of the culture, and this was part of a display at a museum of local architecture. The picture isn't perfect but it is what presented itself. Just like my poem suggests, I let go of fear and stepped into what called me. Creating by faith, trusting the flow.

Take some time on this Halloween to remember your ancestors, both those known and those unknown, in the end we are all one family, in it together. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pic and Poem #13


       make a pilgrimage,
       one that will truly
       change you

       not the one to the
       pretty place,
       the temple that has
       been well tended
       go past that one
       out into the wilds
       far beyond

       all the way to the
       lonely edge
       of shadow and decay,
       to the temple that echos
       of heartbreak and tears
       kneel there amidst
       the dirt and debris,
       sit beside despair,
       hold her in your arms
       like a mother holds
       her child

       utter the prayers
       that have waited,
       once forgotten,
       and in the holy
       emptiness be heard

I have shared before on my blog about my life long struggle with depression and anxiety. Today is gloomy and rainy here in Shanghai, and I woke today in a bit of a depressive mood, and it is alright. I have learned how to be with these waves that come through me, how to sit in visitation, knowing that they pass. Some days that comes easier than others, but I know I have grown most in my life by being willing to go there. I can not heal what I am not willing to be with. I know when I make the pilgrmage into these dark places with the light of faith and practice to guide me, the prayers I give to the emptiness are heard. That does not mean there is no more struggle, it simply means I am held in the journey of what is. We all have such struggles in one form or another and this poem is my offering to that.
 This picture was taken in Delhi, India.    

Pic and a Poem #12

be generous
in uplifting others,
nothing extraordinary
is of necessity
meet another
truly look at them 
and smile
a thing so simple
is enough
to put the sun back
in someones sky,
or breathe joy
into a lonely heart,
invisible no longer
see each face
not with judging eyes
but with the eyes of love,
give freely these
offerings of beholding,
blissful recognition
to see each other
through those eyes is
to see ourselves
and know we are divine
this love needs no language
it has no limits or borders
it comes to gently shake us,
to wake us up from the illusion
that we could be separate from each other
we belong to each other, truly
holding hands and hearts
walking this path called life
 This picture was taken on a tour I did to a tea plantation here in China. I wish I had a picture of myself smiling at her to accompany the photo of the beautiful smile she gave to me. We could not stop to chat with each other because of the language barrier, but her smile alone touched me deeply. China gets a lot of bad press in the world and some of it is valid. I just hope that we can always remember that people everywhere around the world are the same, people living, working, caring for families, seeking fulfillment, longing for connection. Namaste.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pic and a Poem #11

            rest here at the feet of the earth
              plant your own deep roots
                  find the will to stay
              the way is to meet stillness
           where do you have to get to anyway?
              what could be more important
            than listening to the rustle of  leaves
          or communing with a slow unfolding fern?
         the fern and the leaves know more about living
           than you can hope to discover somewhere
            out in the wide populous lonely world

             here you can live into the big space
              the one your soul longs to occupy
               the one beyond ideas and stories
             with no words like could or should

              rest here at the feet of the earth
                 plant your own deep roots
                 give yourself to the grace
              of what rises from within you
               these roots will give you wings
                              to fly

I am a nature girl, always have been. I have said many times that the things I miss most living in Shanghai are my family, my friends and the forest. I find the forest to be magical and healing. When I am in nature I feel renewed and reconnected to myself.  Even if I can't get out into pure nature, just feeling my feet on the ground helps me regain my center.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pic and a Poem # 10

     simplicity is
     spacious and pure,
     ruthlessly peel back
     all these layers of life,
     keep what is true
     release what is false,
     distill it down to it's
     bare essence,
     the bones of being,
     empty each moment
     to the bottom
     of it's deep well, 
     chisel experience
     down to small pebbles
     that you drop in
     marked with the question
     "who am i?"
     seek the answer
     at the center of stillness
     formless and wordless,
     the simplicity of what
     is known and not learned,
     bring it back,
     paint it on the walls of
     your life,
     wisdom comes in few words
This one came as a total stream of consciousness, and I have left it as is.
I do know that I have been contemplating simplicity a lot lately. Craving it in my life.
Would love to hear how you think about simplicity.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pic and a Poem # 9

      this world is shocking
       in her capacity to be     
       limitlessly beautiful
      all her manifestations
        perfectly designed

    with breathtaking intensity
      she shows you her heart
             on her sleeve,
      holding nothing back
     letting every stroke fall to
              the canvass
   without the slightest hesitation

        even a city street
       ringing with chaos
        and painted with
       collisions of color
     is such grace to behold

       the lines and curves
       of wires and wheels
        are the geometry
       for the movement
              of life

    like blood through veins
      waves on the ocean
            her rhythm
             the pulse
      and drum beat dance
         of the universe

    anywhere you might be
   she is trying to show you
    the wonder of existence,
  the miracles large and small
   that she lays out before you

if you don't see beauty in front of you
try looking again with different sight
          and when you see it
   there will be no more denying
  the magnificence that you live in
     showing you the beauty
              that you are


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pic and a Poem #8

                        there is a city of light 
                           deep within you
                        the way to get there
                        is to get lost
                        lost from any identity
                        lost from all attachment
                        returning to the simple 
                        state of being and presence
                        in a moment,
                        this very moment
                        you are already there
   I will confess, this one had to struggle to get through as I am a bit off balance energetically and emotionally today. The words speak to this state. At the heart of this experiment is my quest to create by faith , to be vulnerable and to make an offering no matter what shows up. So today I got the very challenge that I asked for. For now I am off to my cushion, to consider these words, it is needed. xos for today.                            

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pic and a Poem #7

let's go to our attics and basements
haul out all our old baggage and the
dusty relics we have stored away
these things we said we never wanted
to look at, touch, or visit again

i will open all my bags and boxes,
hold up all my forgotten pieces,
i will show them to you,
will you show me yours?

not so we can wallow in what they once were,
not to revisit their brokenness
or linger in the neglect that they have endured
but to perform an alchemy
as children who know
that magic and miracles happen
all around us
if we believe in them
if we believe in ourselves

these things will be made beautiful
we will hold them close to know
their very essence
we will shape them with
our hands and hearts
into royal robes and jeweled crowns

lets put them on and
run barefoot through the back door
straight to the field of long grass and sunshine
where we will play and dance
skip and run
and let our laughter swell and echo
all the way to heaven and back

Pic and a Poem # 6

   why run away from serenity
  when she is sitting here calling
  for you to come rest in her arms?
  why bite these hooks of insanity
   when you could simply open
  and swim in the ocean of freedom?
 why do you rush around town
  knocking on all these doors 
   in search of contentment
 when he is sitting at your table
   right under your own roof?
   why do you pace and paw
  in a cage you built yourself
     when the passage out
 is to become soft like surrender?
 why all this questing and searching
        looking high and low
 this forever calling out for something
           that seems lost
      when you can find it
   forever in your own heart?
       come lie down here
       give yourself to rest
    cup your weary head in
     your own loving hand
     close your eyes upon all
            this struggle
      the inner eye will see
        to bring you home
 This one showed up today and I know it is a message for me. If you read it and it is also a message for you, take it into your heart and find time to rest, to retreat. Namaste.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pic and a Poem #5

    every day is a birth day,
    as long as we wake to another
    dawn with breath in our bodies
    we are called to offer
    our light to the world
     each one is unique
     each one is needed
     we are the constellation
     of sacred design
     don't doubt that the universe
     has a perfect space for you
     even now it is holding out its open hand
     inviting you to take your place
     in this dazzling light show
     this cosmic song and dance
     this is not about trying,
     proving or perfecting
     this is about being
     this is about faith
     this is closing your eyes and
     leaping out into
     the dark void,
     knowing that leap
     is the only way
     to true life  

     every day is a birth day
     a chance to get things right
     a chance to get things wrong
     no matter

     there is no unworthy experience
     and love is real
     let it come
     let it go 
    delight in all that is
     and shine 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pic and a Poem #4

I am a boat traveling
wave riding
soul questing
freedom chaser

Some other love junkies
 journey with me
we travel without
charts or maps,
not a compass or scope
to guide us

We close our eyes
 huddle close
 sailing by faith,
through the stormiest seas

When the wind gets whipping
and the waves crash down
we sing our song of love

Om namo away we go
with tears and joyful laughter

It might seem crazy
to go this way
and this much we have been told

We are in the boat
the way is sure and
we are never alone

For the acharyas. Always in the boat.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pic and a Poem #3

                                                           the tangled jungle of life
may require a lion nature
called to charge forward
with sharp claws, bared teeth,
weapons drawn and ready,
prepared to do what is needed
drawing blood
bite and claw of battle
ferocious action
will and brave heart.

that is one way

i can get lost there
finding a fight in the mere
shifting of shadows
battling the wind or
the cycles of night and day themselves

lions also know
when to get quiet,
to sit back
in powerful, fierce stillness,
in the face of oncoming arrows
or penetrating darkness
drawing back claws
unbaring teeth
no need to rise up roaring
in an attempt to hold
on to illusions of protection

to cease action
is another action

paws sunk into firm ground
the bedrock of being
claiming one’s territory
turn in the direction of
the light

in a stance of courageous surrender
or prepared for righteous battle
skilled and precise

witnessing the approach
of what will be
opening to what is

this potent presence can
turn daggers into rooted trees
and curses into unexpected gifts

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pic and a Poem #2

 A world of green and bright bird songs
     fills me with the word holy
     sacred temple of the wild
   I am in awe of your beauty  
           I belong to you

        When I am lost
         I sit on the soil
        with my trouble           
           my despair
      I cast my teary gaze
        up to your blessed

        Looking at you
         I find myself
           all of us
         in the world
     remembering comes
         a soft breeze
      or a bolt of clarity
       set into the open
      becoming arrives

Today I wrote this, and then I thought, this being a total experiment for me I might add notes about how I am feeling about it, challenges and triumphs that I might face. Right now I wonder, will I be able to sustain it, and for how long? I wonder if I will be able to successfully detach from the need for views, likes, external approval. Can I make some real shift around my tendency toward fearful strictness and perfectionism? It is an inquiry, and today I succeeded in presenting an offering from my heart.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pic and a Poem #1

                                                   Go out to the waters edge
                                                          ready your net
                                                          close your eyes
                                                            inner vision
                                                        draw in ocean air
                                                         lungs like waves
                                                           rise and fall
                                                       a world at your feet
                                                     forming and changing
                                                               the pulse
                                                        flow of creation
                                                            around you
                                                            within you
                                                    cast your net fearlessly
                                                       free yourself at last


      Just to clarify, the pictures I post may be from today or from the many hundreds of photos I have taken and have not shared, this one was taken a year ago in Phuket, Thailand. The poems will be written in the moment and my intention is to leave them raw and unpolished. I want to honor whatever words come to me in the moment, organically, spontaneously. My objective is not perfection or reaching a standard, it is merely to create.

Words and Pictures

  My family and I recently had a vacation in Japan. We all had a wonderful time and it was another visually stunning journey. I took hundreds of photos. In my adult life I have been a bit of a dabbler, and I took several courses in photography in my late twenties and early thirties, and although I never completed those studies, I still love photography as a creative outlet. I find when I get behind my camera I really open my eyes, I see things more deeply, I notice subtleties and delicate nuances, the light and dark of things, the beauty of the large and the minute. I attune to symmetry, color, pattern, as well as the feeling, the emotion of things and people. I think I start seeing from a soul level when I use my lens. I am not a highly gifted or well trained photographic artist, but I delight in what I capture and value what I create. I have been pondering how to further use my photography in some way in my creative life.

On the plane returning to China I watched a movie called "Words and Pictures". It was not the best movie I have ever seen, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. The movie's central plot is built around two characters, one of them a male high school English teacher, the other a female Art teacher. Each is convinced that their chosen form of creative expression is superior to the other and so they begin a war between their classes, a battle between words and pictures. In the end it becomes clear that both words and pictures are evocative, powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking, joy inducing and ultimately so essentially human that we need them both. There is also a particular scene in the movie that points out the way music can touch into deep feelings and emotions in a way that other means can not, and I personally feel that dance does this as well. All of these forms we call the arts are really the soul expression of humanity, we would be lost without them.

When I got home I was reflecting on this and my desire to be even more creative, to create without so much considering and over thinking. I want to find avenues for daily expression without worrying about what other people will think of it or if they will value it. I am feeling like if I open the doors to a more varied and less cautious relationship with what I am putting out, the more my energy will become free flowing, and the more access I will have to my creative source, to my spiritual self. Kurt Vonnegut said, "Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

Besides photography, a form I used to invest enormous energy in, is poetry. In fact poetry is one of the first things I was recognized for at school. I remember in second grade, as part of a study unit on Japan (my, how things come full circle), being assigned the task of writing a haiku. When the teacher came to my desk and handed it back to me I saw it was marked ++, the best you could get, and a gold star sticker bonus. I remember her smiling at me and telling me what a good job I had done. This moment figures so crucial to me that, although I don't remember the teacher's name, I still remember my haiku.

                                            The Moth
                                      the moth in the dark
                                   flutters like the lost dew drops
                                      and then goes away

So it occurs to me that it would be interesting to take this idea of words and pictures and start my own personal creative inquiry around my use of both these forms. I will begin trying to post a picture and corresponding poem to this blog each day. I don't want to get too strict or rigid with myself though either, so that it is an intention with lots of breathing room and wiggle space. I will use this as an additional component to the work I am doing around self empowerment and letting go of the need for external validation or specific outcomes in my work.

This concept of doing actions without attachment to outcome is at the heart of true yoga practice, which is the central pillar of my life. In The Bhagavad Gita,  Krisha says to Arjuna, " You have a right to your actions, but never to your actions' fruits. Act for the actions sake. And do not be attached to inaction. Self possessed, resolute, act without any thought of results, open to success or failure. This equanimity is yoga."

Indeed, to simply open to the creative intelligence that lives in each of us is an astounding proposition, and if each of us started a curious and playful endeavor into our particular creative pathways, whatever they may be, without the dependence on external validation, it would be nothing less than revolutionary, evolutionary!

Do something that feels like art to you, that thing that makes you feel whole, engaged, alive, and do it. "Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  I would love to hear about your creative experiments as well!!