turning within to expand out

18 12 2009

i’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but i have not been posting the best of 09 posts for the last several days. i will be picking these posts up again on the 20th, in two more days.

i’ve been in a whirlwind of school finals, holiday things, work, and we are moving to another part of brooklyn on the 29th of this month. blah blah blah. i decided to trust that if i didn’t get to my blog and do every single one of the best 09 challenges that all my readers wouldn’t leave me and that i’d still be a decent human being.

i can get into the silly mental gymnastics competition of, “if i do x, i’ll be a better person.”

it’s a big trap, so i decided to just do what was in front of me taking care of all the things that simply could not wait, and accepting that there is only so much i can do in a day and that’s really ok.

instead of generating more and more energy to do it all, i have made small decisions each day to what needs to get done and then to rest.

it takes some trust to rest. the world goes on without us and we worry we will miss something, or not be on top of our game, or people will forget us and we will be out of the loop. it’s not easy to stop pushing pushing pushing, and to stop saying over and over how busy we are.

it’s so boring to hear that people are busy. it doesn’t really tell you anything specific about them or where they are at anyway. Mostly it just keeps people out.

so that’s where i’ve been. accepting my energetic limits and choosing other things besides being more wound up and stressed out.

when i’ve had a few minutes, i’ve chosen to lay down or go to yoga class or watch a netflix or look through my art books instead of post here.

i can feel my energy gathering again. i can feel the edges of my eyes softening again. i can feel the ease flowing in my veins and muscles. stressed out is not our natural state you know.

what i know about myself is that i don’t want to live life hard and hardened. i want to live it soft and relaxed. i don’t want to grasp and push.

the only way to do that is to choose stillness, not after the turbo-movement has stopped, but while it happening. choosing to stop in the midst of the motion. to extend care towards myself that has it’s own inherent wisdom and knowing of when and how to do that.

obligation and expectation often hijacks that inner knowing.

why do we often find ourselves pushing and extending beyond what feels right for us?

we have these extraordinary emotional compasses inside us that we override very often.

with the solstice approaching, it’s a perfect time to listen to our inner voice of guidance. and ya know what? it always comes in the form of a whisper.



11 12 2009

year in review 2009; the best place:

CEZANNE ROOM, at the metropolitan museum of art.

my best place for this year is a re-discovery. i went to see cezanne’s paintings after reading rilke’s letters on cezanne.

i hadn’t been in many years, and went alone, and have since been back four times in the course of a month.

there is no one who does apples and blues and bathers like cezanne. you stand in front of the painting and don’t know if you should lick it or press your cheek against it or just fall to your knees. in any case, it’s very difficult to keep your hands at your sides. There is a natural impulse to reach out and touch them.

in technical terms, cezanne’s paintings are associated with what is referred to as ‘the erotics of paint.’ i couldn’t agree more.

his paintings not only startle you with their sensuous texture, but his colors instantly cease all thought. there is really nothing to do but stare and let it wash over you, enter you.

cezanne was pressured by his wealthy father to become a lawyer. cezanne tried, but what he really wanted to do was draw, so he eventually dropped out of law school and ended up with all the other artists in Provence where the light is astounding. there, he found paint.

cezanne was known as, above all, a worker. he worked long long hours in his studio every day and kept at it. he was a pauper. his father, angry with him for leaving law, barely gave him any of his large fortune. you can see in the painting of the priest, who is cezanne’s uncle, how cezanne painted over and over and over the canvas to save money. the painting is thick and cracked with all the layers.

it’s still a wonder to me that we can go and view these paintings which are just hanging on the wall without glass or a rope in front of them. it is a thrill for me to stand before them and let myself be inspired and affected by them.

and the Met has devoted an entire room to him.

i took these photos with my iphone. scroll down and enjoy them. i hope you will take yourself over to the met to see them in person. they are beauty incarnate.

i think you will understand how color is unreasonable, and how painters can go insane.

album of the year 2009

10 12 2009

year in review 2009; album of the year:


i don’t remember how i came across this album. i am always surfing around on itunes hunting down the next soundtrack to my life.

or the next soundtrack to write by. or run in the woods, or ride the subway, or think.

music is essential for me to bring out my feelings and to move my feelings. ‘wait for me’ does just that. it moves me.

it’s ethereal and transportive and spiritual.

it softens the corners of my eyes and the edges of my mind, and when i look out and see the world, or think about things going on in my life that are confusing or are hurting me, or are beautiful and mysterious and powerful, this album’s musicality evokes the tender possibility of all things.

my best challenge of 2009

10 12 2009

2009 year in review: best challenge of the year.

what i learned from writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

1. that i am capable of producing more creative output than i think i am.

2. routine is the chief gateway to get anything creative done.

3. getting up at 5.30 every morning starts the night before.

4.being lonely and afraid has it’s own surprising rewards like bravery and poignancy.

5. life moves very quickly and i want to minimize my regrets on my death-bed about what i wanted to do and experience in my life but didn’t for all the usual hollow reasons.

6. being cheered on by people online through twitter that you have never met brought me a feeling of connection and support that is the best part of humanity.

7. setting a goal that is slightly outside my known level of attainment is a good stretch for my skin and my heart/mind, and then accomplishing that goal through daily commitment brings an inner sense of pride and confidence.

8. that the hours of pre-dawn darkness to light is some of the most beautiful, powerful atmosphere i have been in.

9. that having a ritual, like making tea, lighting a candle and offering my work on behalf of all beings made things easier somehow.

10. that monday, when i begin another round of 2,000 words a day until the end of january, that i have a frame of reference for what feels overwhelming. i can do this, i tell myself. i have done it before. and what an abiding joy self-comfort is.

Moment of Peace

8 12 2009

day 8 of 2009 year in review; moment of peace.

my moments of peace have to do with sitting quietly on my couch and petting my dog, or sitting outside and being present with the beauty of nature.

any time i can be still and quiet, is a moment of peace for me.

the following poem by mary oliver, my favorite poet, hits a moment of peace just right.

i hope it affects you as much as it has me over the years and that it lingers with you.

“You do not have to be good.

you do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and i will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.”

WILD GEESE, by Mary Oliver

blog finds of the year

7 12 2009

day 7 of year in review; some blog gems i found this year.

what’s incredible for me is that across vast space, the internet has aided us in finding each other, and connecting deeply.

for all the critics out there who say the internet is decreasing real human relations, i disagree. i have met people that i would otherwise never have known from blogs and twitter and consider them close to my heart. many i have had the warm joy of meeting face to face after meeting them on their blogs.

there are stories of people falling in love online. under the milky way.

here are some of my favorite blogs that i found in 2009;

for the mother lode of social media and sheer energetic power, and where it all began for me and continues for me; danielle laporte @ whitehottruth.com

for expansive exciting social media ideas–i actually don’t totally understand WHAT she does it’s so broad– a finger in every pie with soul; gwen bell @ gwenbell.com

for the moments when i am feeling heavy and in a bad mood, and need a silly laugh out loud hit; danon sascoa @ insatiablehost.blogspot.com

for inspiration about the creative life; diane solis @ dmsolis.blogspot.com

for the sheer beauty of living; tea and cookies @ teaandcookies.blogspot.com

for balls-to-the-wall with sheer vulnerability kind of blogging; penelope trunk @ blog.penelopetrunk.com

and some up-and-comers;

video tutorial services; karen yaeger @ openskyvideo.com

the journey of writing and self-discovery;  angela kelsey @ graciespeaks.com

yoga, knitting, buddhism, general sass and fabulosity; becca grossman @ beccafaithyoga.com

christian wiman’s ambition and survival

4 12 2009

year in review 2009, best book:

Ambition and Survial: Becoming a Poet by Christian Wiman (editor of Poetry Magazine) is my pick for the book that really affected me this year.

I was given a copy of the essay The Limit by Christian Wiman in my workshop at Sarah Lawrence by my teacher, Joanne Beard (author of the award-winning, Boys Of My Youth), during workshop to read, and was so blown away by it, that i bought his whole book.

it’s a book of essays about “homelessness and unbelief and ends with an essay on rootedness and faith, begins with health being taken for granted, ends with it being taken away.” (from wiman’s preface)

i’ll give you 2 quotes that are profound to me, both taken from his essay The Limit.

to be a writer is to betray the facts. it’s one of the more ruthless things about being a writer, finally, in that to cast an experience into words is in some way to lose the reality of the experience itself, to sacrifice the fact of it to whatever imaginative pattern one’s wound requires.”

and if you are drawn in and want to go further;

“and yet i’ve come to believe, and in rare moments can almost feel, that like an illness some vestige of which the body keeps to protect itself, pain may be its own reprieve; that the violence that is latent within us may be, if never altogether dispelled or tamed, at least acknowledged, defined, and perhaps by dint of the love we feel for our lives, for the people in them and for our work, rendered into an energy that need not be inflicted on others or ourselves, an energy we may even be able to use; and that for those of us who have gone to war with our own minds there is yet hope for what Freud called ‘normal unhappiness,’ wherein we might remember the dead without being haunted by them, give to our lives a coherence that is not ‘closure,’ and learn to live with our memories, our families, and ourselves amid a truce that is not peace.”