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I am a confessed bibliophile. I am sick. I am not allowed to enter Barnes & Noble or Half Priced Books without supervision.  I’ve established this in earlier posts.

What you may not know is that I am also a huge music lover. (I know, it’s astounding. Who’d have thunk it? Call Guinness). I have binders and binders of CDs. My 80 gig IPod is almost full. And I love all kinds and sorts of music – from Incubus to Chopin, from Alison Krauss to Death Cab for Cutie, from Pink Spiders to Korn, from Secret Garden to Bob Marley.

I can thank my father (mostly) for encouraging me to love and appreciate a wide swath of music. I can remember sitting beside him in one of the (many) second- or third-hand used station wagons we owned throughout my childhood, singing along to Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin, or playing alongside him as he worked in the basement and singing along with Gordon Lightfoot or Marty Robbins.

I have a deep emotional reaction to live music – I just cannot even sing along. I start to get that chokey, constricted feeling that comes when you’re going to cry. I just feel the music so deeply. I cry as I belt out my favorite songs in the car. There are songs that I cannot even listen closely to, because I am so moved, that the tears just start.

So, I thought I’d share an utter favorite or two! Enjoy!

Here’s my (current) favorite fun-dance-when-no-one’s-looking song:

MGMT Electric Feel (an awesome funkadelic-y kind of band)

 Gordon Lightfoot always, always makes me cry (but in that good cathartic way): Sit Down Young Stranger

This is another feel-good favorite. Picture me kicking back, drinking lemonade and feeling oh-so-sassy, listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Red House:

Enjoy your Friday everyone!!

 

I do this thing once in a while where I open up a book to a page without looking, or dial through my Ipod without looking, intending that the Universe will flash me a message of whatever I need to hear at that moment. (Sometimes I cheat — if I don’t like the first message, I’ll do it a few more times with different books).

I’ve been dealing with learning to let old habits and ways of thinking go, so that I can enjoy the life that’s spread out before me. So I can savor the banquet. This is what I paged to today:

Every moment is a new beginning for me. We all do a lot of vacillating between old ideas and new ways of thinking. I am patient with myself through this process. Beating myself up only keeps me stuck. It is better to build myself up instead. Anything I say or think is an affirmation. I become aware of my thoughts and my words. I may discover that a lot of them are very negative. I used to approach life through negative eyes. I would take an ordinary situation like a rainy day, and then say something such as, “Oh, what a terrible day.” It was not a terrible day; it was a wet day. Just a slight change in the way I look at an event can turn it around. I choose to look at life in a new, positive way. I enjoy new ways of thinking. (Louise Hay, Meditations to Heal Your Life)

Just this week, I was telling Dani that I finally realized that I needed to stop talking about leaving my “regular” job as having left it — I needed to start saying that I’d started my life’s work. When I focused on the leaving and the ending, I wasn’t looking forward or into the moment, but into the past. When I talked about the old job and called it my “real” job or my “regular” job, I was implying that there was something lacking in my new pursuit — when I don’t really feel that way.

So boys and girls, I think I am finally starting to ‘get it’ — to learn to ask for new eyes, instead of for new circumstances!

  

These gals look perky and sassy in their summer attire. This is not how I look.

  

Hot town, summer in the city 

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty 

Been down, isn’t it a pity 

Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city 

 

All around people looking half dead

Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head 

(John Sebastian) 

 

   

Zomigosh. It is so freaking hot. I have been barely capable of monosyllabic speech, much less able to string coherent sentences together.   

You know, I try to find the good in things. I try to look at the silver lining, see the cup half-full, see the silk purse and not the sow’s ear. Sometimes, though, I just hate stuff…like everyone else.   

This post is a tribute to the depth and breadth of my utter loathing of summer.   

I hate sweating.   

I hate the way the polyester in my bra seems to soak up all that sweat and just slide around, supporting nothing.   

I hate how my own legs stick to one another.   

I hate humidity.   

I hate not being able to do my own hair without my hands sticking to every bloody strand and bungling it all up for me.   

I hate that the instant I put foundation on, it starts sliding off my face.   

I hate how the heat saps my will to live (or to do anything, really).   

I hate going outside into the hellish sun beating down on me.   

I hate that the instant I walk into the sun, my super-fair skin starts to burn.   

I hate those creepy heat mirages.   

I hate how all the color leaches out of everything in the summer heat.   

I hate that heat rises (we live in a second story apartment with NO cross ventilation).   

I hate that central air conditioning is not standard in every habitable place.   

I hate, hate, hate being hot.   

I hate, hate, hate summer.   

(Whimper, whimper, whine, moan, cry).   

Okay! Done whining for the moment. I am going to nuzzle close to the Carter-era window unit the management company was kind enough to bring by yesterday and install. Even a brand-new unit wouldn’t be able to cool off our apartment to my satisfaction. I am just grateful that we have one – and that, Carter-era or not, it’s working very hard over there in the corner to cool it down in here.   

Sigh. Is it September yet???   

 

 

 

 

Hello there, outside world! I’ve been M.I.A. for awhile – I’ve been in the trenches, but in the best possible way! I’ve been engrossed with my newest pursuit – art. (I figured I’d share some of what I’ve been up to on here!)

 

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. (Ray Bradbury)

 

  

Last Thursday night, Jeremy arrived home to find the entire kitchen (and other parts of the apartment…) had been colonized by my forays into the artistic realm. I was blaring tango music (courtesy of Dani – thanks, by the way), wearing an intriguing new kerchief on my head to keep my hair out of the gesso, and having an absolutely fabulous time. 

     

He took one look around, smiled, and said, “I’m so glad to see you doing this babe.” It felt good to hear that, and I quickly rescued some of the stuff I was working on from the top of the stove, so that he could make us dinner.

 

 

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. (Scott Adams)

 

I was at it until three a.m. Happily, wholly engaged. Completely captured with experimentation and the joy of watching my ideas translated into form.

 

Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

 

I wandered through the house, scouting out things I could “repurpose” (translate: destroy) with impunity, and I tried things, without worrying how they would look or turn out. I just wanted to see what would happen when I went about it in different ways. It was freeing.

 

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. (Moshe Dayan)

I’ve been breaking out of my shell, and it feels good. It feels good to play, and to create. It feels good not to hear the voice inside that’s always chiding and scolding.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll gather up all my tools and toys and go to play across the street with Dani. It’s like an artist’s play date, and I can’t wait! Life is good – and I feel great.

 

 

Today, the blogosphere proliferates with odes to mothers. I’ve never been much of a joiner, or a follower of the pack, but I felt inspired to follow suit.

Mom,

Thank you for making clothes for my dolls,

For remembering that I like chocolate better than anything,

For supplying me with supper when I’m hungry and won’t ask.

~~~~~~

Thank you for the beautiful ivory quilt you were making for you, but gave to me when I told you how much I liked it (I truly wasn’t angling for it),

For ferrying me to Girl Scouts and CCD, to babysitting gigs and jobs, to friends’ houses,

For loving me anyway when I was thirteen and so angry with you and the world,

For worrying about whether I’m paying attention to the things that need attending.

~~~~~~~

Thank you for helping me to grow a compassionate heart,

For letting me know that it was okay to question everything,

For helping me question everything, even when it made you afraid for me.

~~~~~~~

Thank you for always believing in me, in my writing, in my spark,

For putting aside the common sense that comes so easily to you, and supporting my mad dreams anyway,

For letting me quit eating meat when I was ten and I begged and begged.

~~~~~~~~

Thank you for every little thing that you’ve ever done (I noticed),

For telling me you love me,

For making sure that no matter how things were going in our home, I knew I was loved and wanted,

For wearing holey shoes so that our growing feet could have new ones.

~~~~~~~~

Thank you for every night you spent pacing the floor with me, a colicky baby,

For watching me walk across the stage when I graduated college,

For not complaining (too much) when I pressed you into service helping me with the crafty parts of projects,

For finally acknowledging that my taste is not your taste (you hit the jackpot with the scarves on my last birthday – so glad you went with your gut, and bought for me “what you would never have bought for yourself.”)

~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for all the lunches you made for us, and the little notes and drawings you’d pop into them occasionally,

For making sure that we were fed, and clean, and healthy,

For reading to me, and imbuing me with a love of stories,

For listening to the drivel that I’d write when I was a teenager, and the papers I wrote in college.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for showing me that it is good to make things with your hands,

For giving me the knowledge that we create our own lives,

For letting me create mine, even when it didn’t seem to jive with what you’d hoped for me.

~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for your face – when I look in the mirror, I see me, and all the women who’ve come before me,

For drawing the lines we should not cross, and giving us deep moral natures,

For having philosophical discussions with me in the garage – winter or summer,

For surrendering and showing me how.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for showing up every day, even when you were tired, and boneweary, and wanted rest,

For flying to my defense when I faced Goliaths,

For calling me on all the things I thought I could get away with,

For being patient.

~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for every mistake that you made, and for the knowledge that I can make them, too,

For being brave, and fragile, and human,

For every hug,

For every treat on every holiday.

~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Mom, for everything.

Thank you for everything

Everything

Everything

You ever did.

I noticed.

 
 
 

The cover of my soul-art-book.

 

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. (Alan Alda)

Any creative venture is like an expedition into the unknown. You might designate a leader, and they might lob some direction at you, but you are the one navigating trackless jungles and jumping willingly into pits to discover whether they’re bottomless or not.

When I was in high school, I took every art class that they offered. I sensed, then, that there was something within me that wanted OUT, that wanted expression, that defied the words I was so comfortable with. When I got to college, I took art survey (history, essentially) instead. Somewhere along the way, I decided that to engage the part of myself which hungered for expression was dangerous. I retreated into safety, and into language – safe.

The first page.

Writing can be dangerous – but for me, facility with language always came so easily. I encouraged the logical-mental functions of it, and left others to explore the wildfires and sandstorms it could create. I kept it small, so that I could control it.

Lately, that hunger has been resurfacing. I almost couldn’t name it, I hadn’t let myself feel it in such a long time. Last night, I gathered around a table with other women who sought to enter the realm of juicy creativity. Our guide, Tracy, laid the tools for the journey out on the table and we slavered over them, eager to begin.

I jumped in – I played. I didn’t think too hard, I shut up the inner critic (for whom, nothing is ever good enough). God, I enjoyed myself. I felt giddy!

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. (Frederich Nietzsche)

I’ve been on a spiritual quest since before I had words to understand what it was I sought. And along the way, I’ve avoided my own dark heart. I’ve shunned my shadow, and I’ve spent an awful lot of time attempting to rub clean all the places I felt messy.

Second page -- a paper created by our guide Tracy.

I spent a lot of time, essentially, sterilizing myself. (Pardon me – I’m having a moment right now, letting that statement sink in. I don’t think I knew I felt that way until I wrote that just now, this minute).

Third Page.

I’ve spent so much time afraid of my own passion – passion can warm your bones, or burn you to cinders. That unpredictability? It just didn’t jive with my need to perfect everything. To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. (Joseph Chilton Pierce) I’ve written about my perfectionism on this blog. I’ve talked about how I know it’s slow death. I just think I forgot what I was allowing it to kill. Until last night. Until I played. Until I showed up, and let go, and just played.

Fourth Page

 

 

All the times I’d written a poem with true emotionality, I hid it. I don’t think I wanted anyone to know that I could be so out of control. That’s the other part of last night that was so important – the sharing. To sit in a circle, and to each draw out from ourselves some beautifully messy part of our souls, and put it down on paper, and share it with one another.

Fifth page.

I am so excited about this, you’d think I’d created the next Mona Lisa. Maybe not to anyone else’s eyes, but for me, this was monumental. This was the tip of the iceberg, and I’m diving deeper next time. I’m committing to it – to myself, to my creativity, to my wild and dark beating heart, to my murky emotions and my human frailty.

Sixth page

This morning, I took pictures of all the pages I’d created last night (I need to practice with the bloody camera. I really hate technology sometimes – I apologize for the cruddy quality of the pics). I decided to post them on here – to “finish” slaying the dragon by drawing it out of the darkness, and sharing it with the world. And, not caring what anyone thinks of it – only that I love it, and I feel impassioned and eager to finish this project and embark on the next expedition. To dip into my soul’s chaos, and give birth to whatever comes.

Seventh Page

Eighth page.

 

Back Cover.

 

 

I love Joy Harjo’s poetry. It speaks to something deep and female and primal inside me – a part of myself that I don’t allow expression often enough. I thought I’d share my favorite poem of hers – a poem that’s fueled a lot of thought for me each time I read it.

What are your horses?

She Had Some Horses

By Joy Harjo

She had some horses.

She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break.
She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

She had some horses.

She had horses with long, pointed breasts.
She had horses with full, brown thighs.
She had horses who laughed too much.
She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers’ arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their bodies shone and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
She had horses who cried in their beer.
She had horses who spit at male queens who made them afraid of themselves.
She had horses who said they weren’t afraid.
She had horses who lied.
She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, “horse.”
She had horses who called themselves, “spirit.” and kept their voices secret and to themselves.
She had horses who had no names.
She had horses who had books of names.

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.
She had horses who waited for destruction.
She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any savior.
She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her bed at night and prayed as they raped her.

She had some horses.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

 These were the same horses.

 

© 1983 Joy Harjo

 

 

Looking back on the fires that made me who I am today, I know now that the person who rose from the ashes of my most difficult times is far more interesting, joyful, brave, and honorable than the young woman who thought she knew what the world needed. (Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open)

I’ve spent time in the abyss. I’ve traveled dark paths that wound into the midnight-black and charred depths of my soul. And out of that, every time, I’ve soared…eventually.

I’ve always identified with the phoenix, even in childhood. I am entranced by reinvention. By the whole process of burning down to ash, and rising up again renewed and reshaped – in essence, similar, but wholly different.

I read Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open this week. So many of the things she talked about resonated, gave me that “me, too!” feeling of confirmation. I’ve been through several “breaking open” experiences and done my fair share of reinvention. Usually, when I tell people about my life, they counter back with, “And you’re how old again?” I’m an overachiever, what can I say?

When I was first going through the process of deciding whether or not to get divorced, I had the visceral feeling that life was slowly being pared away from me. That I was being laid bare, and that once everything that needed to had fallen away, I might be able to look at myself and see what I wanted to pull from the ashes.

It sucked. It was hard and I cried and cried and cried. I filled pages of journals. I wavered and I despaired. And then, I let go.

At the time, what I’d thought I was letting go of was a marriage that didn’t and wouldn’t work, but what I was really letting go of was my whole self. Looking back now, I can see that my divorce wasn’t really the catalyst for the breaking open, but sort of a by-product. Every particle of my being had been railing against being confined in the “Carolyn-suit” that I’d created and maintained and wore every day, all day long. I could not live an ingenuine life for one more moment.

Today, I’m actually grateful to my ex-husband. I’m grateful that we agreed (whenever or however we do this before we come to the human playground) to be this for one another. I wish that I had been able to look at him during all the turmoil and really see who he was, and remember that he was not only the body standing before me, but the soul who dwelled in it. Maybe I wasn’t meant to, then. I see him now, and I remember who he is. And whether he knows it or not, I’ve gotten some of the greatest gifts from that time that anyone could ever ask for.

I pray that each one of us stays awake as we fall. I pray that we choose to go into the abyss willingly and that our fall is cushioned by faith – faith that at the bottom we will be caught and taught and turned toward the light. I pray that we don’t waste precious energy feeling ashamed of our mistakes, or embarrassed by our flaws. (Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open)

I am more awake now, more aware. I still get caught in the everyday trials of being a human being, living a human life in a human world. I still get mad at Jeremy for leaving his socks in a ball when he tosses them in the hamper, and I still worry about whether we’ll have enough money to pay our bills. I still get annoyed by slow drivers and small inconveniences. Some days, it’s hard for me to let go of some of those things. Other days? They don’t even factor.

Today, I feel good about where I am, and who I’ve come to be. I am grateful for all of the trips into the abyss. How can I appreciate the blinding beauty of the light, unless I’ve dwelled in the darkest heart of the pit?

I am grateful that so much of what I’d built fell away, because I am standing here today, on the cusp of embracing my dreams and desires. Of finding out who I will be until the next conflagration burns away all the excess, and leaves me standing naked and whole and utterly, utterly changed.

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

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"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)