Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whose are you?

Reader, as you pause here, take a deep breathe in. Close your eyes, and make friends with the darkness that will provide the veiling for your image to slowly emerge. Project yourself into that space….
No! You are thinking too hard. Just pause. Are you trying to rush ahead?
Where is the real you? Have you found him/her yet today? Have you acknowledged yourself? Where has the time gone?
There’s an image, albeit fuzzy, it is streaming in at different angles. You are going to have to fine-tune it a bit. Add one splash of color and define the lines a bit. Okay, easy now, turn the knobs of your inner perception, and step into yourself. Ahh…there you are. There you are.

There you are on your first day of school, proudly clutching those crayons and waiting as a whole new terrain unfolds just for your exploration.
There you are, discovering that you were pregnant. There is that moment where your body evoked such an otherness a forgotten language of unity emerges.
There you are, watching a young life thrive and flourish even as a mass of maleficent cells rise up in rebellion and chew away at her youth.
This gift of self-knowing tethers you to something much larger than yourself. The effort of being human is really no effort at all if it is reduced down to survival. But there you are, see yourself? You live amidst the irony of always becoming something new, always adapting and changing, and yet, somehow maintaining coherent sense of you; you stay the same. What nourishes you? What feeds you?
Identity can be a powerful experience if you pay homage to it more often. But the who am I question ultimately does not satisfy. Or if it does, only briefly, before a new hunger presents itself, perpetuating a search for the larger question.
Whose are you?
To whom do you belong?

Where do you belong?
I ask you to pause here again, conjuring up images in your mind. The real and the fantasy. The memory of people or places that are tangible and those that are perhaps unphysical.

Whose are you?
As we began the harried Holiday season, may you feel grounded, capable of caring for yourself with ease and joy...but also connected...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What makes me happy

I have noticed that a lot of people lately are moving around deflated with a lot of fear. There is plenty to be anxious about: people are gloomy about the economy, not having a secure job, and thus worried about their financial security, whether in the form of our emaciated retirement accounts or in the rising cost of milk and eggs; people are aflux with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and all the terrorism and violence that is present here in our own backyards; we think about the timing of life developments such as when to get married, buy a house, have children, (and not necessarily in that order!) and we scurry about talking about the rise of obesity in children and are constantly worried about the connection between our size and whether we’ll be accepted or not. Thank God the election is over or we’d worry about that!

There are a few things that are making me really happy right now that I wanted to share with you….
1) I have had several great cups of coffee lately. Coffee so good it rivals a glass of zin for me. The bitter liquid at once reviving and consuming. Yum. There is a reason why Starbucks gave free coffee on election day.

2) Many friends have babies, and spending time talking to them about their children or getting to watch before my very eyes their development is inspiring. Way not ready to have children of my own, I sit in awe and declare that motherhood is the most difficult job in the world.

3) Talking with strangers. I’ve struck up many conversations this month with people I don’t know at all. At a random bookclub I attended, in the airports, at the cooking class I took. There is something about risking rejection or judgment by opening up a conversation with people you don’t know and may never interact with again. In many ways, you release your own little ego and have the opportunity to make it up as you go along. It isn’t all about you. There is a natural dance that occurs that hopefully will lead to your improvement. New perspectives should be shaping, and talking with a stranger, well, it is the conversation that you are meant to have right there and then. Listen to the content of that talk, and I believe the lesson that your soul is most in need of will emerge
4) Taking pictures. I find that stopping and noticing something beautiful is extremely gratifying. I see and smell and interact as much as possible. In many ways, pausing, the act of stopping and seeing something, truly visioning it and taking it in, is my form of meditation. Choiceless awareness. I snap it, and feel honored to participate in the bigger rhythm of life. Here is a picture of a bush in a conservatory I stumbled upon this past weekend.

5) Little unexpected blessing. This past weekend, it was carebears gummy chews (thanks Katie!). Paying less than 30 on a tank of gas. I “whoa-hooed” in the parking lot and had a few weird looks. A phone call from a friend right when I needed it. I found a pair of socks that I haven’t worn in months and was delighted at their softness. WOW! This is where I see the hand of God in my life.

I think it is very important to name out loud the unique way our lives reveal moments where happiness is just waiting to be claimed.
If you read this blog, please comment: what has brought you joy in the past 24 hours?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where have I been?

Far from positive that the nonexistent multitude who perhaps keep track of my blog may be wondering where I have been, perhaps considering that I have fallen out of step with my habit of self reflection. No worries, I just want to say that I have been traveling a lot this month and am in the process of writing a book. It is more romantic than it sounds, people! It’s part of my list of nanowrimo and the book is nothing near cohesive. One thing it is getting me to do it proliferate in random places: coffee shops, airport terminals, moving vehicles, and on lunch breaks. I am sort of a journal, topic writer and this process of creating scenes and characters is proving daunting. Hang in there through the end of November, through which I have to produce 50,000 words, and I promise you a little more substantial posting…

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Task #26

Buy Flowers for some one else

I never really got onto the fresh flower train. I know as a woman, I am supposed to swoon over the color, the smell, the pulsation of romance that they emit. There was season where an engorged Lily was appreciated. But I clung to the symbolism more than the actual experience of them: Peace enfolded with vibrant fertility (or so I was informed). When a woman in my circle, whether an office colleague, neighbor or family member received one, my alarm button always fired. Not only would I question their value (wouldn’t you prefer something more practical, like a pair of shoes?) but I questioned their signification. When a person gets flowers, something was abnormal, either in a special, celebratory way, or a grieving, coping manner. Flowers signified, they meant something, they pointed to other things…I found it all an analytical distraction.

And I was completely missing the point.

It was I who was sinning in my denial of the power of flowers to just be what they are, do what they do, live as they live. My incapacity to enjoy their brief, punctuated presence was a little depressing. First off, flowers don’t need my projection of meaning on them to bolster their significance. They don’t require worth in the form of “this one means hope, clarity,” or “this bouquet offers a sense of solidarity in times of sorrow.” I must resist the urge the attempt to rationalize all of creation! Flowers can just be pretty. In fact, they have done some research indicating that for people that enjoy flowers, cultivating a garden or having them around in times of stress has similar healing benefits of prayer. Second (and I can’t stop myself from going all rational and metaphorical here) flowers have a way of reminding us to be focused on the here and now, the present moment. No two flowers are alike, and this points to our human lives as well, smacking us in the heart to remind ourselves that our lives are only temporary and we must seek pleasure right now. Not before it’s too late, but after it’s too early.

Luckily, when receiving collaboration on the creation of this list, my friends called me out on my snobbery. The task today was to buy fresh flowers for someone else.

I had the impulse at 5 am in the morning, and for abut 80 minutes, attempted to rationalize my way out it. My mind said things like: “She wouldn’t like them,” “She said she didn’t want to make a fuss, so why are you?” “What if you get the wrong kind?” “Wouldn’t she want some organic soap instead?” When walking into the market, my mind again battled the habit of patronizing this ritual. I almost got a potted plant, for in my valuation, at least they live a while and omit oxygen into the universe. My practicality threatened to ruin the whole task.

The beauty of this list is that is provides me a reason, a guideline, an anchor, to which I can cling when doubt or habit retreats my growth.

I bought the flowers because when I woke up, I wanted to. I wanted to celebrate her life, her light, the manner in which she uplifted me, our friendship, the honorable way she serves as a wife and a new mother, the hardworking spirit she imbues every task in front of her. I wanted to bring her pleasure knowing that it would not last.

This past year I asked a man, when was the last time he had given any one fresh flowers. Well over the age of 30 and seasoned in a longterm relationship, he informed me that he never had. My heart grieved a bit upon hearing this, signaling a hibernation of some sort in his spirit. My hope is when I am asked I can always say “recently….” For my list, I extend a grateful heart!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A conversation about lasting relationships

“It will come, it will come.” I am left to wonder what it actually entails. But I somehow trust that the it is good, desirable. A soft piece of caramel conglomerating in the very back of my mouth, its residue distinctively extensive.

I picked through that soggy potato salad, blurting, “but can two people start a relationship today and have it last that long?”

No beat skipped here. “If both people have the RIGHT values, of course,” she says with firmness.

Is she convincing herself? Or me? Is there something about convincing me that will strengthed her own resolve.

“You know, you have to just stick with it.” I find myself biting my tongue and twirling the rejected salad, which really isn’t a salad at all, around, around. “It takes work. Compromise.”

But how much? How much? I begin to form the question our loud to her, married “19 years” when the other matron extrapolates, “but it is often about not having everything now. It means going without sometimes.”

She got me there. I want everything now, and my hunger scares me. My desire for purposeful professional life, for intellectual stimulation, for a place in a family, for a hoe with roots, for “inner peace” and “adventure” both on the same day. I am overwhelmed by the want.

But know a lot about not having everything now.

Don’t you?

Isn’t that what life is about? Creating more of the things you desire, and striking a balance with coping with those unattained.

And don’t we all value relationships?

About Me

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PhD in clinical psychology. Single. Pushing 30. Suffering Whiplash from the Roaming 20s...Who am I? What do I want? Where do I belong? Welcome to my self-induced treatment, a testament that we can all be a little crazy in our search for significance.