there was a ______

there was a girl who taught me to love the sky, except the lesson took a long time to catch, years after the girl was gone. i didn’t understand what she meant about loving the sky until i moved away and came back and looked at the same sky differently because i’d been living beneath another sky far away. i never miss that girl, but now i miss that sky every day.

there was a boy i was afraid to talk to. fear isn’t quite the right descriptor. (neither is boy.) but over a decade i talked to him only the few times i felt tequila brave or when he initiated the conversation. both coincided on monday night and our topics reached deep and wide, as if compressing years of conversations we never had.

there was a photo i found of me in the future, face washed out and brightened with light from within. i practice beaming love through my eyes and smile each day in order to become her.

there was a raccoon dumpster-diving when i took out my recyclables last night. when i stopped to watch her, she hopped toward me and started growling. i stamped my foot and told her “no!” because i don’t like being growled at by any person or animal. then two itty bitty baby raccoons (the smallest i’ve ever seen)  jumped from the dumpster and ran into the woods. i softened toward her growling the moment i understood she was protecting her children. i hope to soften toward the next person who growls at me while seeking to understand the reason for the growling.

there was a fox trotting across the yard last night. fox sightings add a full point to my rating for any day. i’ve taken to rating most things that happen during my days on a 10-point scale because i’m generous with point accrual and the rating helps me appreciate each aspect of my life more while highlighting the parts that most benefit from improvement.

there was a book of literature i tried rereading recently. i stopped on page five because life slips quickly through fast moving years and there are more books to be read in this lifetime than i’ll be able to finish before dying (even if i live to be 103) so i’ve decided i don’t have time for rereading dusty french classics.

there was a piece of art i transformed by layering my art on top after midnight when i couldn’t sleep. folk art, recycled art, trash art, mixed media collage….whatever you call it, i’m drawn to make it.

there was a girl (three, actually) i saw and heard play music and the music smoothed and enlivened my pulse. i wanted to tell her (all three) but i couldn’t think of words for my tongue to accompany the song in my heart that feels gratitude larger than words can contain…that’s what art is for.

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confessions of blood, birthdays, and art

confession: mosquitoes love me. i used to consume massive amounts of garlic pills in an attempt to become less alluring to mosquitoes. i can’t remember if they worked to prevent mosquito bites, but they tasted gross (even in capsule form) and i quit taking them. now i get bit. i scratch the bites until they bleed. then i pick the scabs because i’m gross. then i bleed on the sheets. that’s why i buy dark blue or wine colored sheets. problem solved.

confession: tonglen practice is fucking hard. if you’ve tried this form of daily meditation practice that asks one to hold the suffering with fierce compassion, you know you’re volunteering to do the thing we otherwise use sugar, sex, netflix, social media, books, video games, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sports, and neuroses to avoid feeling. sitting with the suffering, compassionately creating space for the suffering, allowing the suffering to be touched with attentive openness…fuck…yeah, that’s hard. is it worth it? is feeling the most vulnerable, painful part of humanity worth increasing one’s capacity for compassion? yes. i am training for kindness.

confession: i’ve known her for nearly two decades and every year i text her on june 19th to ask her, “is your birthday the 20th or 22nd?” every year she patiently reminds me that her birthday is june 20th and i wish her happy birthday eve and goodnight until the next day when i wish her happy birthday. today is her 40th birthday. today she is a married homeowning mother. when we met during our youthful ignorance we both would have guessed her present reality would more likely be my future than hers. life is tricky and tragic and perfectly surprising. i’m grateful she is the mother, wife, and homeowner. i’m grateful i am not. i’m grateful i will spend the weekend in her home with her wife and child to celebrate her 40th birthday, to celebrate her life that neither of us would have predicted, to honor our unified path as we traverse this mysterious process that is this long life.

confession: when i returned home after ten days’ traveling in brooklyn, maine, and connecticut, two letters from her were waiting for me. one of them included the most beautiful artwork i’ve seen this year. she drew it for me. she colored it for me. she made it specifically for me because she knew i would love it. she knows my taste. she gives me excellent gifts all year long and each offering opens my heart. i’m not sure she knows her talent for art. her humility bumps up against understatement of her gifts. the things that come naturally to us are the things we take most easily for granted. what comes naturally to you? please value your gifts. thank you for sharing your gifts. i value the goodness, generosity, and beauty you add to this world by being, doing, giving yourself.

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varieties of delight

tiny delights: sometimes microscopic…or almost. sometimes requiring a flip of a negative into a positive. for example, finding a nymph deer tick crawling up your arm and squishing it before it attaches for twenty-four hours undetected and gives you lyme disease. finding lost keys in the first place you look. stopping angry words from spewing while pms hormonal and he says something stupid and you roll with it instead of bowling him over.

small delights: the butterfly landing next to you, giving you a nice long flirtatious look reminding you of a stripper working her moves for the five dollars in your hand when you walk up to stage two after she has taken her top off. also, unexpected girl scout cookies delivered with your check at the local joint. wildlife sightings anytime and anywhere. even roadkill counts when it is a humongous porcupine. canceled plans that mean you get to stay home in bed with a book.

large delights: great food, sex, and sleep. as one gets older, stylish-looking comfortable shoes. as one gets lots older, comfortable shoes regardless of style points or ugliness. vacation. a new car.

giant delights: getting a clear cancer-free scan five years later. celebrating others’ happiness–weddings, pregnancies, starting a company, publishing a book, sobriety anniversaries, dumping a deadbeat partner. doing (or feeling) the thing you’ve avoided your whole life because of fear and discovering fear won’t kill you afterall. practicing that thing into mastery.

more tiny delights: flowers growing in cracks in the sidewalk. funny bumper stickers. kid jokes. uplifting graffiti.

more small delights: keeping houseplants alive. petting someone else’s friendly puppy. rainbow sightings. making someone laugh.

more large delights: epiphanies in therapy. understanding oneself or another. forgiving yourself or another.

more giant delights: accepting exactly what is as it is. (also known as peace.) letting go. moving forward. loving more.

i wish you delights of all varieties everyday.

pro tips: actively seeking out delight increases opportunities for delight. sharing your delight with others multiplies delight.

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multi-topic confessions

confession of gossip: i had lunch with a long-time ex-boy-best-friend a couple weeks ago. in my missing of him i had forgotten that he gossips. sitting across from him for two hours listening to him dish details about mutual acquaintances that i didn’t want to know, i realized i would never miss him again.

confession of boob smashing: i had my second mammogram yesterday (after putting it off an extra year because OUCH). after the torture concluded, the radiologist invited me to look at my 3-D scan. yeah, i know i’m a weirdo, but my mammogram scans made my boobs look sexy. also, my lymph nodes remind me of perfect little cough drops. i would totally suck on a hottie’s lymph nodes if i could access them (and *ahem* were into that kind of thing).

confession of trivia: do you know which states make-up the tri-state area? i didn’t know for sure until i looked it up and then the answer is trickier than one might think…because there is no official answer and unofficially the tri-state area includes parts of four states because it isn’t about states. (spoiler alert:  the tri-state area refers to the greater nyc metropolitan area.)

confession of handwritten letters: if i could write letters in the shower or in my sleep or while driving, you’d receive more handwritten letters. in my waking non-showering non-driving hours my time is occupied with other things, not more important things, but other things, and i’m sorry for that because the letters i write to you in my head while showering, driving, and sleeping are filled with love and gratitude and quieter private confessions that would increase intimacy between us.

confession of youth fiction: sometimes i read youth fiction to accumulate more inputs in order to rewrite my own childhood. because why not? childhood is ancient history and memory is faulty and unreliable and the brain is elastic and manipulatable so i might as well make up an entirely new childhood to remember-on-repeat that would result in the more secure, more peaceful, more trusting person i could have been if i’d had a different childhood. but here’s the kicker—most of the youth fiction i read has a bullying theme that makes me wish i had been nicer to other kids in my actual childhood. i wasn’t a bully but as an introvert, i didn’t actively befriend the lonely freaks who were bullied when i could have. i was an isolating abused freak on the inside who was passing for “normal” on the outside and therefore i was never bullied at school (only at home). i could have befriended the ones who were bullied at school. i could have stepped between a bully and a freak during the tauntings. i could have beat the crap out of any bully because i knew how to fight and how to take a beating, but i didn’t and every youth fiction book i read makes me wish i would have.

confession of wildlife: in texas, i recognize all the wildlife. in pennslyvania, i have no idea what some of these critters are. the northeast is a different country, y’all…and i love it.

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a rainy day love letter

it has been raining in philadelphia for four days. i love the rain. i love the clouds that hide the sun so that it doesn’t wake me with its rising at 5:34am. i love staying in bed until the latest possible moment, stretching diagonally across a king size mattress unable to touch any edge. i love getting up, heating water for tea, playing merle haggard to get my first tears of the day flowing because merle’s voice is the kind of beautiful that washes my heart open with tears. i love putting my sweatshirt on inside-out because it is equally soft on both sides. i love painting my toes silver and singing david bowie with each stroke of silver on each toe because if david bowie were a color he’d be this silver toenail polish. i love shortcut ways to say i love you. i love saying your name as a way of saying i love you. i love allowing myself one guiltless can of generic diet soda a day. i love the poems that i could never write and never need to because someone else has written them. i love the poems that only i can write each night. i love that i almost send these poems to you but decide to save them for myself…at least for now, until i’m ready or you are. i love loving you more each day. i love buying presents for your birthday or for any day. i love writing love letters that arrive on the days you need them most. i love pink heart-shaped post-it notes.  i love the unknown more than i fear it. i seek the unknown each day to discover something new to instantly love or learn to love. i love that when i dream disturbing or frightening vignettes featuring my father that i get to wake up and remind myself again that he has died, he is gone, and his death liberates me to love him more gently. i love reading books that inspire me to better writing. i love that writing poetry improves my dancing. i love that every art medium informs every other art we make. i love watching badass chicks wielding swords (watch into the badlands). i love driving to maine and eating wild blueberries in acadia national park. i love weddings in brooklyn botanic garden. i love riding the train home from the city after midnight. i love throwing out the box of stuff your ex-girlfriend left behind so that you don’t have to. i love cheering you through tough times and championing your strength through challenges. i love flirting with you. i love teasing you. i love mocking you. i love when you flirt, tease, and mock me. i love lightening the heavy and brightening the dark. i love making things easier for you. i love telling you the truth even when truth-telling feels big and scary. i love doing the most good for the most people over the longest term. i love meeting you here with all the love i can give. i love receiving your love, your time, your words. i love that each day we have another opportunity to do our best. some days our best is better. some days our best is worse. but i know your heart. i know you are always doing your best and your best is always good enough, no matter what i say when i’m feeling hurt or angry or small or scared. i love you exactly as you are. thank you for being you, being here, breathing with me.

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today you are alive

i practiced dying yesterday, twice. first, on a plane flight with turbulence more turbulent than i’ve previously experienced. later, nearly falling down the stairs backward which would have smashed my skull on the cement landing. the plane touched down safely. i regained balance and prevented my fall. yesterday was not my day to die, only a day of practice.

during the plane’s turbulence, i closed my eyes and meditated on death. i took a mental inventory to check for anything unsaid or undone in case my moments for saying and doing had expired. i considered everyone i love and everything i love doing. because i’ve learned to expect unexpected tragedies, i hug my loved ones goodbye and say “i love you” at every parting, insuring that the last words i’ve spoken to everyone i carry in my heart are loving. i checked to see if i have forgiven everyone and everything that needs forgiving. i found that i have released all past grievances and grudges. i’ve healed old hurts and crystallized lessons in compassion that accompany healing. i’ve danced and skinny dipped every time the moon, desire, and opportunity inspired me. i’ve surfed all four oceans. i’ve snowboarded mountains, hiked forests, cuddled babies, and learned to pray in ways that make sense to me: sex, silence, breath, poetry.

an hour after exiting the turbulent flight with safe landing, i lost my balance and fell backward from the top of three flights of stairs. startled by the empty space beneath my feet and air whooshing past my ears, i threw my body forward at the waist and caught myself before gravity took me all the way down. in that split second i flashed relief that i had already completed a death meditation that day. i knew i was ready to die. my life is already complete.

yesterday was not my day to die, only to practice.

i am determined to begin each new day with infinite possibilities to create more love, more living, more practice for the dying that will come for us all. next time you have a quiet moment (now is as good as any), please close your eyes and inventory your checklist for anything unsaid or undone because today is the perfect day to say and do what your heart asks of you. today you are alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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confessions of dragons circling infinity

confession: i used to be one of those people who wrote lists of things to do every few days and completed most things while moving a few items from a nearly finished list to a newly revised list, never doing the few things that transferred from old list to new list until after a number of weeks and three times as many lists later i admitted to myself that i wasn’t going to do the few things or the time for doing them had passed and having not done them in time, doing them in the future was irrelevant. i still write lists but items rarely get transferred to a new list more than once. if i’m gonna procrastinate doing something to the point of waiting until the task becomes irrelevant, then i’m not gonna waste my list space with its entry. i make shorter lists now and everything gets done because i want to do everything i write down.

confession: i’ve designed my life around having to do very few things i don’t want to. because i don’t like doing much, i simplify my life each year by creating more time for doing nothing. doing nothing usually consists of walking next to the river in the woods for hours or lying in bed reading a book. yesterday’s doing nothing included a drive to the ocean to collect seashells in the dark with starlight shimmering off waves.

confession: four and a half months into 2017, i’m making a new year’s resolution to drive to the ocean more often.

confession: i forgot to keep my 8-day-old tattoo out of the ocean last night, but because the ocean and i having a healing pact, i’ve decided its water will heal instead of infect this magical tattoo.

confession: i met a woman in the elevator today who befriended me between the third floor and the basement and reached out to hug me as the doors opened for me to exit. she is my first stranger-to-friend instant hug i’ve received in philadelphia.

confession: i take qigong from a tiny jewish woman in her 80’s. her teacher in china died a couple months ago at the age of 109. my teacher tells us throughout class (we are only three students), “gather the earth. gather the sky. fill your heart. give your love to each other.” she knows her qigong and she’s teaching me more than qigong. she’s teaching me to move into the great unknowable mystery where i disappear and the whole universe awaits without waiting. she’s teaching me qigong that dances like ancient dragons circling infinity inside timelessly groovy tunes.

confession: i make wishes as i skip rocks and toss shells into the ocean. last night i frisbee-flung the largest shells into the farthest waves while standing at the tip of a fishing jetty and i wished for your peaceful happiness. right now i’m wishing for you to soften into the tender center of your heart to receive the gentlest peace and most spacious joy with this deep breath i’m breathing with you.

confession: i had only two things on my to do list today. i finished them before noon. i’ve been meandering within my nothingness between spurts of working all afternoon. i’m feeling slick and slippery inside my juicy luscious life.

 

 

 

 

 

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