Monday, November 29, 2010

Kooky Space

Advent has begun. I find myself in a kooky space - in a place of expansion and community AND in a time when I am called to simply Be. There's my word again, BE... BEE... The bee is a long-time symbol of accomplishing the impossible. How does one wait in the darkness and shine in the heavens... simultaneously?

I'm called to be in community and I'm called to be in contemplation. I'm called to shine and I long to sit in the darkness - waiting in the shadows - percolating - ripening in the womb. Yes, Advent carries a theme of birthing. Does not the fetus ripen within the womb? Did not Mary say, "Yes" and then wait? We wait. I wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fetish Focus

DiLoPi writing prompt #9 - Write about a fetish, totem, "blankie" or other centering object that you have a) owned and revered at one time or 2) currently own and revere or 3) that your character owns and reveres or 4) that you wish you owned and revered.

Earlier this morning I was writing about being infused with thoughts or images that pass our way. We don't necessarily know they've even entered our consciousness until they pop out somewhere down the road. Continuing my journaling, I ultimately found myself answering the above writing prompt that recently showed up in my mailbox. Here is what I mused:

Starting my day with news and distractions, doesn't work for me. If I first open up my e-mail, then I'm off down a rabbit trail that often takes me away from a life-giving focus. Even though good stuff abounds - if the computer is my first default - I'm off on the circuitous trail that beckons and pulls. The flashing images are seductive. My iPad and iPod lie next to me and my MacBook is just across the room. Oh my, have they become my fetish?

Oh, the seductiveness of this technology. I curl up in bed seeking warmth and comfort. The devices call to me and promise excitement, community, new information - even devotions. I meet my friends there. My sister - fellow bloggers - the characters in Grey's Anatomy. Christine brings morning greetings and DiLoPi offers writing prompts.

When I'm lonely and bored or wanting to distract myself, I reach for a little piece of technology. I decide it's time to work or create, possibly both together. So, I turn on that glowing screen. For a moment, I choose to pass the beckoning e-mail, but... I know it's there. Just one peek? Perhaps a quick look? I tell myself. And... once I succumb, I've lost my own momentum. A force other than I has taken over and I'm off down the rabbit trail. Minutes turn into hours and ultimately a day. Frustrated with my lack of accomplishment, I turn for the comfort of more surfing. Perhaps just a blog site or two? Maybe a stop by the forum at SCS?

Will I be satisfied? It's a crap shoot - especially when I reach without forethought. I stuff another URL into my brain like stale cookies I can't even taste. I know this, and still I'm like a zombie drawn to fresh blood. The blink of the light. The push of a button. Just one more taste...

My fetish? I've vowed to turn let it go or at least I'm taking back control. I'll choose to curl up with a book instead of my iPad. No e-mail before meditation or morning pages. No infusion without first checking in with there I am! The news can wait 30 more minutes. I'm learning to block the path of the rabbit trail with timers, boundaries & mindfulness. Finding where technology nourishes me rather than allowing it to become obsession. That's often the problem with a "good" or favorite thing. We manage to manipulate it and cross the line into over-indulgence until it turns into something we don't love quite so much. Hmmmm... Gotta stop now and see what my iDictionary says about fetish :)

fetish: any object eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect or devotion

snowy pictures from 2008 - although I'm looking out the window in WallaWalla where it's snowing right now.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Retreat, Relax, Respond TODAY!!!

Registration for the Online Advent Retreat ends tomorrow!

Birthing the Holy: An Online Creative Journey through Advent and Christmas
November 28, 2010 - January 9, 2011
Program fee of $125 includes weekly reflections and daily emails by Christine Paintner on six themes of the creative journey, plus 10 songs by River's Voice, guided movement prayer videos by Betsey Beckman and her storydance of the Annunciation, and guided SoulCollage® experiences with Kayce Stevens Hughlett.

What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be Mothers of God.
-Meister Eckhart (15th century German mystic)

Each of us is called to participate in bringing God to birth in the world. We each hear our own annunciations and invitations to enflesh the sacred creative call of our hearts in service to others. The seasons of Advent and Christmas invite us into a profound reflection on this invitation and the movement toward birthing as well as offer us archetypal themes that call us to take our creativity seriously.

Do you long to make the seasons of Advent and Christmas a more meaningful time of prayer and reflection?

Do you want to make space to listen to your deepest call in this season of birthing?

Join me along with some very special guest teachers, musicians, dancers, and artists, for a six-week creative online journey into the heart of the Advent and Christmas seasons. Through movement, music, visual expression, poetry, and prayer you will be guided in reflection on six themes of the creative journey. Make a commitment to a retreat in everyday life and let this winter be a journey of transformation. Begin the New Year from a place of deep reflection and intention.

Saturday, November 27th is the last day to register!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can You Plan Destiny?

My last post ended with the words, "I'm off to plan my destiny." Can one really plan their own destiny? I truly love the idea of letting go and allowing surprise to happen. I am also discovering that my nature actually enjoys some discipline in the process of going with the flow. Impossible? Well, consider this: a river has banks; the oceans have shores; showers have stalls. Even where water is concerned there are some boundaries.

For the last couple of weeks (since attending the fabulous DiLoPi workshop), I have created a lovely rhythm for my days. In the past, I've typically awakened without alarm, structured my schedule around "official" appointments and hoped I would accomplish all of the other things I wanted to do during the time in between. What I found was there was never much (if any) time to work on my passions. In other words, going with the flow allowed my dreams to get washed down the drain or at least soaked to the bone. The rhythm I established looked something like this:

Morning pages
Book writing
Get ready for work
"Official" Meetings
Creative work
Family time
Read & Rest

What I found was there was almost always time for everything and then some. By setting both specific times to do things and holding to the boundaries, my satisfaction level, as well as my productivity, went way up! So, why am I talking about this in past tense? Because Sunday, I failed to set up the boundaries and decided to go with the flow. Big mistake!! I made it through my first two items beautifully and then frittered away the rest of the day. I ended up feeling like a slug and just a pinch of salt could dissolve all of the goodwill I'd been developing toward myself for the last several weeks. Geez Louise, it's so easy to slip into old patterns! And, once I'm aware of what I'm doing, it's possible to dry myself off and jump back in the flow.

Planning my destiny? How about if I start by planning one moment at a time? I'll let you know how that goes.

So... what are you planning today?

photos ©Ireland, 2009

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is God a Giant Ouija Board?

What are the questions I'm most curious about these days? Well, they're probably the things I'm curious about a significant portion of the time. Career. Time. Money. Relationship. God. Not always in that order. Is this for me? Am I on the right path? Was that a good decision? Did I do a caring thing? Am I ok? Oh my, it feels like I'm 10 years old again and playing with a Ouija board.

Ouija boards and Magic 8-Balls - maybe they do hold all the answers. Will I be rich? Absolutely. Will I be famous? You bet. Does God exist? Ask again. Oh boy, do we ever get past that fascination with wanting the answers? By asking questions do we treat the Universe/Higher Power/God like a giant Ouija board? Asking for an answer and anticipating the answer we want to hear. Manipulating the planchette and acting like we're not. Pretending we've let go of control when, in fact, there is no way we'll take our last finger out of the game.

What might it take to release and let go? What is our role in the grand plan? I remember a friend telling me a story I'll never forget. She had a college roommate who had a big exam coming up and didn't even study, then wondered why she failed the exam even though she'd prayed really hard. Is God our Magic 8-Ball? Are the answers right in front of us? Again, what's our role? I know if I sit around and eat chocolate all day I'm going to get fat. Do I know if I work really hard it will pay off? It depends on how I define "pay off". If I already have the answer planned then I may be disappointed, but if I let go of the Ouija board then I might be delightfully surprised by what happens.

What are your burning questions today? Do you need a speedy answer or are you willing to wait for the surprise? Will you study for your exam, sit back and eat chocolates or jump in the game?

Life coach Martha Beck says, "Listening to that mystical frequency, while staying safely grounded in logical and pragmatic action, is the key to planning the path of your best destiny."

I invite you to ponder that today. Me? I'm off to plan my destiny :-)

photos from St. Catherine's Monastery ©2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Riding the Wave of Breath

Before daybreak and slightly bleary-eyed from my night's sleep, I enter my studio. Touching match to wick, the soft glow of candlelight enters the room and morning shadows dance across the walls. Tenderly I curl myself into a comfortable cross-legged position, close my eyes ever so slightly and offer myself to this new day.

Inhale. Exhale. I ride the wave of my breath. As I meditate, there are moments where my curiosity stirs and I wonder from where this tranquility comes. I sit in silence and follow my breath. In. Out. One. Two. Three. Four. My body settles into a gentle rhythm. With the inhale, I hear the sound of wind through aspens. On the exhale, a storm is brewing in the midwest. My thoughts float by like gentle clouds on a summer day. Grounded. Breathing. Simple. I am tranquil. Again, I wonder how I got to this place until even that thought drifts on by. In. Out. One. Two. Three. Four.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sometimes you take my breath away...

There are moments in life that simply take my breath away. It’s hard to know where they begin or how I arrive at the place I am called, but in those moments, I know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. A power greater than I has brought me to that place. Some of the moments are so subtle they would be easy to dismiss. It’s similar to that feeling when the phone rings and you know who’s on the line before you pick up the phone.

One of those moments found me yesterday. It was a gorgeous day here in Seattle. The heavy rains lifted and the skies turned cornflower blue without a cloud to be seen. My body craved to be out in the fresh air and fortunately my schedule allowed the space to be. One of my favorite kind of walks is what I call destination walking. It’s particularly helpful when I feel like I have a lot to do, because it gives me both a break and I accomplish something. This morning I ventured to the bank while listening to a conference call. Multi-tasking at its best ☺.

With ten dollars in my pocket for coffee, I exited the bank and took my normal right turn toward Tully’s, but something inside winked at me and said – Let’s go somewhere different today. Doing a 180 degree turn, I headed back down the street and came to a shop I rarely frequent. The barista was smiling, the coffee delicious. While waiting for my latte, I glanced around the cafĂ© noticing the wonderful trinkets, artisan cards and fuchsia tutu pulled over a t-shirt. With little money in my pocket, I resisted the urge to fully browse until a glittering display of necklaces caught my eye.

Coffee in hand, I turned to make my exit, but couldn’t resist the pull to take just a peek. Each necklace was like a little story on a chain. The first (and only) one into my hand contained the single word BE encased in a golden sparkly bubble. Next to the bubble were two other charms – a bee and a flower. This is the moment my breath caught. Here on one simple chain were the three lasting symbols from my Egyptian pilgrimage – word, flower, bee. The necklace was made just for me.

What’s a girl to do? No money – no real need for another necklace. They’re just things on a chain, right? So, I headed out the door back into the sunshine, sipped my latte and tried to memorize the designer’s name until I got home. Peeking at her wonderful website, my heart stopped again when I realized maybe that necklace was made JUST FOR ME, because there wasn’t another one like it on her site. Well, you have to know the rest of the story, because the picture here has given it away. The necklace is now mine and I will wear it as a proud reminder (one that came in loud and clear while on pilgrimage). It is time to BEEEEEEEEE… and all that entails for Me!!

So… I’d love to know what are your moments of simple or sublime synchronicity and serendipity? When you hear a tug that says turn around or do something different, do you listen? Who knows? You could be missing out on something made Just for You!!

photos taken 11.11.10 © lucy

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fondling a Story

Oohhh, baby, have things been stirring for me since attending "Walking into Fire." I'm moving from playing with this idea of being a writer into seeing what it feels like to live into it. My morning routine has shifted and I've added meditation into my practice and have revived my relationship with morning pages. It's like picking back up with a long lost friend - there's no lag in the conversation and topics bounce all over the place.

I'm resisting the urge to censor and refine my words here, because this is not the place for my "polished" work. Here is where I move one step up from morning pages and meet the discipline (& fear) of putting something out into the world. I'm also doing it without much thought (really?)WAAAYYY to whether or not anyone reads - even though I've noticed my reader comments are down. Oh those pesky little voices that keep us from moving forward, huh?

During the retreat on Saturday we were asked the question "What is my story as writer" in line with having a FALSE investment. This reminded me of a phrase used in Steering by Starlight called "story fondlers" referring to people who hang onto stories that keep them stuck and not moving forward. This morning I thought I'd share my personal response. It is so like my life (not surprising), because there are bits of truth woven in with a whole lot of you've-got-to-be-kidding-me!!

Writers are brilliant and know what they're going to say before they ever start writing. They understand their plot and characters and the work comes easily to them. All it takes is setting aside the time and their story will come out with little need for revision and filling in the blanks. Their stories come out rich and developed and ready for copy editing. The words flow like water and the structure falls into place without blood, sweat and tears. They send their manuscript off to be received by every publishing house they submit to.

Well, that's my story and I'm NOT sticking to it - except of course that writers ARE brilliant!! In the meantime, I'll continue to tweak my schedule, listen to my gut and WRITE!!

So, my dear friends. What's the story you fondle that keeps you from living your brilliant life?

"Steppin' out" - © lucy 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Brain Washed - part deux

As I look at the list of things I’d like to remember, there is a theme that runs through my memory beginning with the sun on my skin and ending with the weight of heartache. Warmth is the word that comes to mind…and Sensual.

I am a sensual being. I cannot live – truly live – (nor would I care too) without the memory of my senses – the sun on my skin, the hot breath of my old Golden Retriever, the cozy comfort of a warm bed when the nip of winter pricks at my nose.

I am a being who loves to spread her arms – her angel’s wings – wide open, embracing and welcoming adventure and creativity. Near the top of my list is my trilogy of pilgrimages – Paris, Ireland, Egypt. Each came wrapped in its own shimmering tissue paper, waiting to unfold with unique footsteps along my path.

Who knew I was a woman craving warmth? Is that what passion evokes in me? Heat? The feel of the desert air upon my Pacific Northwest skin. The allure of Parisian cafes and language dripping in romance. The warmth of a pint of Guinness sipped from a frothy mug in a cozy tavern surrounded by laughter and friends.

Heat draws me forth and pushes me outside myself. It beckons me toward the core of my being which is hot as fire. A shimmering star. Fully me – laughing and shining. Can warmth get any broader than that?

Heat draws me forth and pushes me out. The blood rising in my chest and pumping at rapid speed through my veins while standing in the open door of an airplane at 10,000 feet. “Do or die,” my heart says. I feel the breeze on my skin, whoosh of air rushing at the speed which keeps an airplane afloat. My senses expand and it’s time to trust. “Bend like a banana,” says my hunkie angel and the blood rushes from my face as we free-fall in the autumn air. All senses are alert. The arms of God are holding me now. The taste of fear has left my mouth. The whoosh is all I hear. My skin is brushed with evening sunlight and my eyes take in the Washington panorama with rapid-speed slow motion. I am a sensual woman.

What of the other things on my list? Humidity and heartache. Sand and sea. Parenting and pendulum. My list is made of senses and experiences, not necessarily people and places. Hmmmm. I am not a collector of things – not a material girl as Madonna might suggest. I love experience. I love heat. I am not afraid to walk into fire. These are the things I can write about, because I have been present to them. I’ve shown up for my life – not always, for sure – but perhaps that is why the experiences are so important to remember. Perhaps that is my legacy. I want them written down, because I don’t want to forget. That was the prompt after all, wasn’t it? Your memory will be erased in 5 minutes. So, if I remember…

the sun on my skin then I will always know what it is to be warm. If I remember the kiss of my husband, the hugs of my children and my sister’s unconditional love, then they will be with me always. To remember the Sinai desert is to speak of clarity and timelessness. Paris offers rhythm and independence. Ireland teaches me what it is to heal. The ineffable moments speak of a power greater than I – shall I call this God, Universe, or something more?

Curry’s breath and Aslan’s purr show me the wisdom of being in the moment and the power to simply Be. Knowing my truth lets me rest in that being, if only for nana-seconds that speak of an all-knowing One. The drop of the skydive shows me that fear can be faced and turned into exhilarating joy and power. The ocean on my skin, sand in my toes and Bermuda blue offer tranquility and calm with just a touch of unsurety.

Humidity in Oklahoma, mosquito bites and climbing Mt. Sinai, all share a measure of pain, but without that pain I would not be who I am today. And, speaking of pain comes with the reality of childbirth and the heartache of parenting – the arrest of a child, the separation from a soul mate.

My coffers are full and the pendulum swings from joy to sorrow and back again. Light turns to darkness. Fear turns to self-love. The senses wrap me in life. If this is what I could remember, it would be enough – more than enough.

So, have you made your own list yet? Quick... your memory will be erased in five minutes, what will you choose to remember?

soulcollage cards ©ksh

Brain Washed

Yesterday while attending a brilliant writing retreat, we were given a prompt by the charming Patti Digh that went something like this: In five minutes your brain will be erased, what do you want to remember? As you might imagine an interesting flow opened up. As I sat down this morning, I didn’t particularly intend to share my list, however, it seems important for me (not necessarily you – sorry, dear reader, but I am writing for me). My inner muse says, “Write this down and capture it again.” So here goes, remember this, lucy:

Sun on my skin; the kiss of my husband; hugs of my children; the Sinai Desert; Paris; Ireland; God; ineffable moments; Curry’s breath; Aslan’s purr; knowing my truth; feeling the love of God; the drop of the skydive; the ocean on my skin; sand in my toes; Bermuda blue; humidity in Oklahoma; Egyptian mosquito bites; climbing Sinai; my children being born; the heartache of arrest & addiction; jammy days and Gilmore girls; Soltura Island; the Big Dipper; falling stars; freedom; strength in my body; the love of being seen; bees in the desert; satisfaction of a job well-done; comfort of a cozy bed; that my parents loved me; my sister’s unconditional love; seeing and being seen; the smell of rosemary; the weight of heartache; the swing of the pendulum

Undoubtedly there are things I’ve missed or left out - we had only five minutes, you know? Nonetheless, as I expanded further on these thoughts in another free write, my finishing words became:

If this is what I could remember, it would be enough… more than enough.

Your turn… In five minutes your brain will be erased, what do you want to remember? What would be enough?