Friday, September 23, 2005

gama

several weeks ago i wrote this for gama in honor of his love and support for fellow writers. i bring it out today to wish blessings on him and his family, and on everyone in rita's path. may blessings of peace and safety be with you now...

i've heard it said
when a butterfly flutters his wings
in China
a breeze is felt in the Western world

if a butterfly's delicate wing
can touch a life
and that one worlds away
how much more so
have we the power
to touch another's life

use it wisely
photo by permission graham jeffrey

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

strength and trust

"when energy leaves you in any way except in strength and trust, it cannot bring back to you anything but pain and discomfort. an authentically empowered human being, therefore, is a human being that does not release its energy except in love and trust."

several days ago i received these words written by gary zukav, and i have read this small paragraph again and again. i continue to read it several times a day. these words are changing me at an elemental level.

this has become the framework for observing my own choices and actions.

holding up the concept of "trust" next to something i am about to say or do gives me enlightened contemplation. am i doing this in strength? am i doing this in trust? i search for words to describe how poignant and piercing this is for me.

this has become a beautiful practice...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

my studies

i feel a sense of responsibility to maintan a continuous thread of conversation on this site rather than jump from topic to topic, and yet my purpose is to reflect what is happening within and around me. in my life there are usually several conversations (various reflections) occurring at one time, and disparate topics may show up in my writing here.

i am currently studying and writing about relationship with body image and relationship with food, and this is becoming a big work. i had hoped it would be simply a healthy-sized magazine article but unfortunately it seems to be a book (sometimes we don't get to choose). its task is intimidating, even overwhelming, but i remind myself a book is created one word at a time just like a poem. more than discussing carbs and fat grams, exercise and recipes, this is a study in the psychology of personal relationship with food and how one experiences her own self. the work is becoming quite spiritual.

while i have never been significantly overweight (i am now two pounds under what my doctor claims is my ideal weight but i had previously gained 15 pounds), my relationship with food has been a bit disordered for as long as i can remember. perhaps much of the american population has disordered eating. i have been attentive to what happens within me and i am now responsible for writing what i have learned. (poetry would be more fun...)

one element i am uncovering is a need for stimulation. i began observing it in my relationship with food but have discovered it to be persistent throughout life, crossing disciplines. one of my most important practices has been to observe the intention behind my eating (true hunger, exhaustion, boredom, frustration, etcetera). when i initially started amending my eating habits (i pursue a holistic practice), i began chewing sugarfree gum or sucking on sugarfree candy to satisfy the desire to have something in my mouth. i realized rather than addressing what was underlying my constant need to eat something, i was merely substituting something that would not contribute to weight. my next step was to address this tendency to reach for stimulation. this became my work. our american society pulsates with constant stimulation, be it in caffeines and chocolates, spirits and entertainment, branding and advertisements, or many other forms. this need for stimulation has created a bloated society and one with little satisfaction. i am discovering a rich spiritual experience in sitting in the desire to be stimulated. i have begun to believe answers lie in the longing, not in the fulfillment of the desire. and in my exploration of my own eating habits i am discovering my own answers. the size of this post doesn't even touch that of an introduction to my work, but writing "in here" and looking at this reflection of my own self moves my work forward. i hope my attempt to be brief is not creating a confusing message.

i have much to do.

photography by graham jeffrey

Thursday, September 08, 2005

life as a mirror


i have from time to time been complimented (even by complete strangers) on my ability to park a car precisely and to do so in impossibly small spaces. while i can attest to its being a matter of geometry, its accomplishment is clearly a result of knowing how to manipulate a machine through the skillful use of mirrors (i had a good teacher).

more astonishing to me is someone who performs surgery using mirrors or images on a screen to view the patient. how can one execute such meticulous maneuvers by watching a reflection instead of viewing the organ being repaired or removed? astounding...

our experience with life is something akin to that.

our work is to discover our own selves and our means to do it is through the use of our mirrors. everything in life is a mirror.

everything…is…a…mirror.

i remember not so long ago in my beginning lessons leading to this understanding when someone said, “you are able to see only that which is within you.” and my response to her was “but what i see most clearly is the beauty in others.”

“exactly,” she replied, “and the beauty you see is the beauty in you.” it was the beginning of my discovering life as a mirror.

of course, i learned the converse is equally true, in the things that annoy me and irritate me in others also being reflections of something inside me.

recently i listened to a friend’s rebuke against men, anger even, in defense of women. surprisingly, i found his words to give a keen description of himself in ways he did not seem to see. i thought then how deeply life is a mirror. my discussion, of course, is not about my friends and their ability or inability to see themselves in their own descriptions. my witnessing this exchange is my cause to look closely into my own descriptions and to pay close attention to those things that create a strong reaction in me.

these paragraphs are but an introduction to the work i am doing.

my absence from posting here during the past few days is not indication of inactivity but rather is a reflection of my work being too much to capture in sound bites. i work hard to tease apart what i am feeling and thinking and then devote myself to being able to capture it in words. sometimes it takes a little while...

i have so much more to continue on this…

photography by ron porter

Monday, September 05, 2005

happy labor day

i have never celebrated labor day...

every year i have the day off as a holiday and sometimes there have been cookouts or picnics, but i have never actually "celebrated" labor day...

i have thought of this as an undistinguished holiday. i have not explored the labor movement. i have not appreciated labor laws. i have not considered my personal learning and growing through my own progress through labor...

so today i take a moment to celebrate labor day and give honor to every position i ever held, even those i may not talk about today and those i don't care to list on my resume. every job i ever held has contributed to the person i am today...in fact, every job i interviewed for and was denied...has contributed to the person i am today. what a lovely thing now to take time to give tribute to my own work history...

a shoe store clerk, i fitted people for shoes and sold them laces and socks. i delivered the washington post (as an adult) and learned how to start my workday at 4 a.m.. i waited tables and began the practice of patience (and the customer is always right). i cleaned a bank and a clinic during the night while the buildings were closed and discovered the significance of positions that receive little honor. i was a computer operator for the bank and then a teller and became humbled by my clients’ deep appreciation for kindness. i sold avon when i was young and then tupperware when i was just a little bit older and developed wonderful customer service skills during those sales years. i went through training to sell cars but i quit before my first day (the organization was a hugely sexist organization and it was not for me). i have been a secretary for brokerage and accounting firms, where i developed professional strength and business acumen. I have conducted several hundred seminars across the united states and the united kingdom and found the work that inspires me most. I have taught writing, have had a couple of articles published, and am now in a book manuscript, which has become the love of my life. And, of course, i honor the depth of experience from my years of raising children and managing a home.

having work to do is one of our greatest gifts and one of our best teachers. but i have learned what you do is not who you are, whether you are proud of what you do or whether you are ashamed. what you do is simply what you do. what you learn from it becomes who you are.

today i honor and give tribute to the jobs i have held, the bosses i have had
(pleasant and otherwise), and the companies who have employed me.

and i wish you a happy labor day.

photo posted with the permission of artist and friend ron porter

home offered in katrina's wake

it is a little bit scary...

interrupting my peaceful routine and opening my home to someone displaced by the hurricane...

accepting the responsibility of providing for another...

making this commitment...

but after deep thought and consideration, i have listed my humble home as available to share with someone in need...

it is not so difficult a choice, though...

for what is it all about, really, if it isn't about lending a hand...

photo posted with the permission of artist graham jeffrey

Sunday, September 04, 2005

lilacs in bloom

her lilacs are in new bloom...

she returned home from hospital tests and found her lilacs in bloom. now that's a funny thing, she thought, as autumn now settles in and her lilacs have always only bloomed in spring...

then she was told it looks as though the first diagnosis was incorrect. and the second diagnosis too. she may not have the cancer they told her that she has. the x-ray and the mri may not have been correct (or not interpreted correctly) and she may not be in the stage they said that she was in...

this may be a second chance to become fully present in the life of someone i love...

there are a few more tests awaiting results, but we all are cautiously optimistic, very much so. because the cancer may not be there...

and her lilacs are in bloom...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

touch the heart of the one in need next to you

if you can't do the good you want to do
at least do the good that you can

i can't be in louisiana, or mississippi too
can't help the people there
and though i'm offering to take in someone who lost a home
i don't know if they will let me
'cause i don't really have the room
and even if i did
i would have to petition my friends for funds
for me to feed and clothe another
(i know my friends; this they would do)
i feel helpless as i look for ways to give a hand
to the part of you and me now hurting and in desperate need

i was out early this morning
for my daily fitness walk
when upon my return i saw a homeless man
i often see him in the distance
across the street or down an alley
and i thought to myself
if i can't be in louisiana or mississippi too
then at least i can touch the heart
of the one in need next to me
so i lingered on his side of the street
didn't cross until he passed me by
i dislodged my music from my ears
i stopped to say hello

he is gaunt and drawn
with most of his teeth now gone
to some he looks quite like a drunkard
or perhaps a mental kind
(but i know better)
i stopped to say hello
his face brightened
he said hello too
what a beautiful day, i offered
it's gorgeous, he replied
and such low humidity too!
i smiled back at him
and then he said to me
kindly, like a father
...he...said...
all this walking that you do
this exercise for you
is making you fit
and you are looking really good

i had never known he had noticed me
much less, that he had cared
his compliment
humbled me
he made my day
and as i walked away
i began to cry

photography by graham jeffery

Thursday, September 01, 2005

conscious choices

we talk about business and family and hopes and dreams and love and life. we talk about how hard it is. we talk about how wonderful it is. he offers his opinion (which i want). he gives his support (which i love). he has proven i cannot say anything stupid enough or do anything terrible enough to lessen his esteem of me, that his appreciation of me and affection for me are secure. he is usually the first to cheer my accomplishments and the first to check on me if he thinks i am in difficulty. he has become a definition of friendship. he is astonishingly strong. he is incredibly smart. he is extraordinarily perceptive. he is gentle and kind. i do not see him often but every time is as though there has been no interruption. he is a treasured friend of several years.

he wants to be with me. he knows the heart of me more than most, and he knows i would love to be held. he would like to be one to do so, if only for a while. he wants to hold me and he wants to touch me and he wants to make love to me.

i would love to lie in the arms of another, to be touched and explored and enjoyed. i love to give pleasure and become another’s satisfaction and fulfillment. i adore sexual connection and the depth of sharing it brings. i love passion. but he is committed to another. and i realize how invalidating being with him would be for me.

there is a part of me that is flattered, a part of me that is stirred, even a part that is tempted. but no moments of lonesomeness or sexual frustration provide for allowing what this would do to me. far more than pleasure for me would be the devastation of being with someone who is not my own, someone who would lie with me only to get up and leave me to go home to the one who belongs to him, and my solitude would then become my loneliness. his life is with another and his commitment is there.

sexual experience is precious to me, and is to be treasured and cherished, not to be rushed or grabbed or stolen in brief moments and bits of time. and not to be had to the diminishing of another. any sexual sharing with me weakens his own relationship even if she were never to know of it. this is not compatible with my spirit no matter how much i love to be or want to be or even need to be touched. and it would not serve me.

this is not about being right and wrong or even good and bad. it is about what serves him best and what serves me best. and it is about making choices that protect my heart and my emotions. my choice is for sexual experience to be in the shelter of an exclusive relationship. even if it means going to bed at night alone.

photography by graham jeffery