Wednesday, December 30, 2009


2009. A year that broke my heart and healed my heart all at once. A year when my Mother's illness shook me to my core and made me look deep, uncomfortably deep, at things, behaviors and ideas that served me no longer. A year when love roared to the forefront and begged to be the guiding force from moment to precious moment. A year when finally, finally, I could ignore my sacrificial tendencies no longer and began to make amends to myself. A year that ingrained in my psyche forever what really matters and what really doesn't.

2009. A year when grace demanded its due and love swept everything clean.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Darkest Days

It is in these darkest days at the end of the year that light comes pouring in. Ideas, refined dreams, and thoughts of what it would take to be more happy. Like little flames of light, one after another, the visions and messages come. At the end of the year, there is only strength to write things down, to ruminate in the well-lit darkness on the flashes that lift my soul. The time is not yet here to act. The time is ripe for stillness. Deep listening. Awareness of the quickening of breath when a thought, a flash, is particularly bright.

In these, the darkest days, answers come, the sun is born, and hope is kindled anew.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Nostalgia

I'm not sure how this happened, but I am now old enough to be nostalgic. Upon arriving at my parent's house Christmas morning, I immediately asked my Dad, "Where is my Brady Bunch Christmas album?" I had to find it. So we trooped down to the basement and dug through musty boxes. Glory be, we found it. Along with a treasure trove of Christmas albums from the 1960's, the festive music of my youth that ushered Santa to my door.

In that musty box was also a tantalizing assortment of my Dad's music of choice, also from the 60's. Little vinyl 45's in the most gorgeous shades of red, green and cerulean blue. Held to the light they were color saturated jaw-droppers. We decided that one day this winter we're going to spend steeped in nostalgia. Naturally, my Dad still has his furniture-sized hi fi, with working needle, in the basement. I can't wait. Nothing beats a vinyl record. Or Marsha Brady crooning carols.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Light And Reflection

When the act of reflection takes place in the mind,
when we look at ourselves in the light of thought,
we discover that our life is embosomed in beauty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recovering Christmas

Looking out my window this morning, I see the neighbor's tree already pitched on the lawn. I imagine the effort it took to un-decorate it at first light; the holding the door open and tossing it from the top step, slightly too late for the garbage collector. A house with 4 children, but evidently, Christmas is done. For me, one driveway to the left, Christmas has barely begun.

Today, I allow myself to recover from the intensity of a retail job in holiday mode and the traditions of my family. Mine is a weary body filled beyond capacity with sugar and caffeine. Rest is needed, as is quiet contemplation. The true meaning of Christmas only comes to me when my heart and mind are still. So, today, I rest and let Christmas sweep softly in.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Love is the reason for the season.
To each of your hearts from mine~
I ask for your highest blessings
and I ask that you know the power of love intimately;
love for others and mostly, love for yourself.
It is the love for yourself that will create miracles.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sweetness Of Christmas

Today, for a short time, I live inside the sweetness of Christmas. White lights lit along my wall, a generous mug of rose petal tea and a plate of German Stollen define my morning. My Mother calls to ask if the bread is okay. She made it, of course, as she does every year. Over the phone, I hear we have the same Christmas music playing on the classical radio station. She is also eating Stollen. Her tea is Lady Grey. Yes, the bread is wonderful, as always, I say. She tells me how much she likes today's gift. Gift bag number 20 in the 24 day advent calendar I made for her this year contains a compact disc of pictures I have taken. Most of the pictures are of her and flowers. It is a document, of sorts, of her difficult journey. But today, right now, nothing is difficult. Today, sipping tea over the phone with my Mother, everything is sweet.

My Mother. 14 months into her journey through cancer and I am still eating her Christmas bread. Colon cancer that spread to her liver. Stage 4 upon discovery. And here she is. Here we are. Defying normal medical parameters with an amazing response to chemotherapy. She has wept and struggled and stubborned her way through offers of no hope and talk of hospice. Through bouts of poison every 3 weeks since January. She is still here because she has let herself be loved like she had never allowed before. 253 greeting cards (at last count) with well wishes, daily prayers, visits from German relatives, my father's endless devotion. And flowers.

Along with the emotional support and guard of her well being, I have given my Mother flowers to help lift her heart. A fragrant bouquet held at each chemotherapy session, and barely a day without flowers in her home. It's working. The love and the prayers, the devotion and the flowers, combined with medical opinions and formulas, has reduced the liver tumors from 13 to 6. The tumors are currently inactive, much to the amazement of her oncology team.

I am not amazed. I understand this is what love does when it is given and received. Deeply given and deeply received. Healing, in one form or another, takes place. Not always is it the expected form. My Mother has a ways to go to be fully healed, but she has already come farther than most would have thought. Such is the power of love, a power so strong I am living inside the sweetness of Christmas today, eating my Mother's beloved bread.

{"I'm saving the advent bags to give back to you", she says, "so you can fill them again next year."}

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pass Your Knowledge On

Messages come from such unexpected places. Recently, an important one flashed before my eyes in the novel The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski. It is a story about devotion, betrayal and courage centering around the mute Edgar Sawtelle and his family of dog breeders in Northern Wisconsin. Since finishing the book, it has stayed with me. Overall, and in particular page 190. On that page, the author writes of an exchange of letters between 2 vastly different dog breeders, circa 1935. This is the paragraph that flashed and burned its message into my brain:

"I have the advantage of knowing," he wrote, "that long after I am gone my work will provide a foundation upon which future generations of dogs, breeders and trainers may build. Skill and talent alone are not enough. If these are bound up in you and you alone, and not in data and precisely recorded procedures, what will your efforts amount to? A few dogs- a few successes-then nothing. Only the briefest flash of light in the darkness."

Page 190, now heavily creased to mark its importance, has repeated itself elsewhere. Different words, different sources but the same message: if you have a talent, an ability, an innate gift you've been given or a skill you have honed, pass your knowledge on. Do not keep it to yourself. Do not be among the few or even the only one to benefit from what you know how to do with aplomb. Share what you do with others. Record, precisely, how you do what you do. Charge a fee or reap a commission or get paid in some manner if that is appropriate. Or share your knowledge on the simple hope that what you have to offer will make a difference to even one other soul and let that be reward enough.

I have been living this message, to some extent, since starting this blog in 2006. I have shared, on and off, encouragement and ideals on how to let go of what holds you back from living a life that is true to you, mostly based on my own trials and tribulations. But now, the message is telling me to expand. I am being asked to consider other skills and offerings I have. I am being asked to reach further, to leave the safety of the shadows and share more of what I know. One suggestion in the relentless message is to share my floral design skills, even just the basics, with an audience much larger than the few I sometimes teach at work. Another suggestion is to compile/write a book. Another is to share more of my intuitive mind for helping people to empower themselves. In other words, hold back less, give more. Do not be a brief flash in the dark, but rather, be the sun.

And if this message hits you square in the heart as it did me, just what do you know and what will you share?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Saw A Sign

Well, did you see it? The sign? (What sign, you ask?) The sign the Universe laid out just for you?The one that gave you direction on how to better your life? The one that answered your question? That sign.

You missed it? You missed the sign? Oh, for Pete's sake, really? And the Universe went to such trouble to give you such a good clue! Okay, then. Pay attention. More signs will come. No, no, you didn't miss your chance. Always, always, always the Universe will lead you to a better opportunity. Actually, it spends each and every day throwing out hints, big and small, to get you smack dab in the middle of goodness. If you're having a bad time, the hints and clues and signs the size of billboards will come at you more fast and furious. To get you the hell out of dodge and into a much sweeter spot.

So, pay better attention, will you? Nothing and nobody is served by your being in a less than savory situation. The Universe knows that happiness is contagious. It wants to get you happy. It's willing to tap dance naked in the street if it has to, to get you moving in a blissful direction.

Come on. Be honest. You wondered what that thing meant yesterday. You snapped your head around when someone mentioned in passing the very idea you've been cooking up in your brain. That bird sighting, that number coming up over and over, that name, that name, that name. They're all signs and you know it. Don't worry if you can't figure it out just yet. Just keep paying attention. The Universe likes a good, well-played-out story as much as you do. No giving away the ending in the preface. Notice the signs and follow along. The bread crumb trail of signs will walk you through a story meant just for you. A story where fear is conquered with confidence and love. A story that lifts you and gifts you with the life you deserve.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Along The Path To Betterment

When plans are made to invoke change and effort is expended to create the path that leads to change and your fridge is fully loaded with images of a more glorious version of yourself, beware. Turmoil cometh.

Yes, indeed, the path to a better, more true-to-you life is slippery, unclear and sometimes painful. The level of pain depends on how far removed your dream life is from your present life. If the gap is large, lessons and opportunities will crop up to move your brain from its current way of approaching life ( the approach you say you're ready to ditch) to a more open, accepting and elevated one. The new approach, or new way of thinking, is what will lead you to the threshold of your wished-for change. You will likely arrive on that threshold feeling bruised, exhausted and weaker than expected. But, you will arrive.

Until you arrive at the moment when your old life dissolves and morphs into the glory you've imagined, do your best to be patient with yourself. Don't push the river, but do act on the nudges and shoves dictated by the Universe. Rest. Nest. Eat to the best of your ability. Do not give up.

Even if you feel like crap, know that positive change is occurring. Resistance will come from within and without. It means you're moving beyond the status quo that was your life. It means your brain is shifting to accept the life you know you deserve. Let the shift take as long as it naturally takes. Fame and acclaim and new levels of love feel ominous to your formerly small-minded self.

Learn what needs to be learned. Let go of what holds you back. Praise yourself for your fortitude and strength. Be patient. You will arrive.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Holiday Dazzle

I'm not much for jazzing up my home for the holidays. Sure, I have the lone Santa who sits on my kitchen table all year round and I've haphazardly strung white lights along 2 walls in my living room. Oh, and I bought a green amaryllis today. I think that counts. But no tree for me. No wreath on my door. One cassette tape of A Charlie Brown Christmas (for the Schroeder piano extravaganza) and one pair of black socks in the back of my drawer that sport a cartoon reindeer and the word 'Vixen' underneath. That about covers it.

With apologies to my Duetsch mother, I am decidedly un-American and un-German all at once. It's not that I don't appreciate a little holiday bling, but I prefer to visit it elsewhere and come home to holiday minimalism. Pine needles in the carpet and remnants of tinsel in the litter box I find unnecessary.

Lest you think I am the feminine scrooge, I give you holiday dazzle for this blog post. So much less to clean up, and easier than inviting all of you to my home for eggnog and a look at my Santa.
My best wishes to you for a sparkling season.

{Holiday dazzle courtesy of Buffalo's infamous Italian restaurant: Salvatore's Gawdy Gardens.}

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Word Was Responsibility

It has been a tumultuous time for me. I have been visited by anger and depression and confusion. I've known all along a lesson of great importance lie beneath the tension and tumult, but I could not grasp it, could not see it in full view. The lesson has been a ghost in my periphery, always present, yet incapable of being understood.

Until this morning.

This morning, sitting on the floor in a pool of weak December sun, I surrendered. In my surrender, the peripheral lesson stepped into the sunlight and into full view. It held a single cue card with one word etched in bold black. The word was responsibility.

That single word released me and drenched me in understanding all at once. I am a responsible person. But I have been directing my responsible tendencies down avenues that, in the end, do not serve me. I have allowed myself to become overly responsible, and overly invested in projects and things and organizations that return to me a mere fraction of the energy I put out. The result has left me feeling trapped and drained and far from fulfilled.

I am solely responsible for how I have been feeling. No one has insisted I give of myself to the extent I have. I simply have not known how to give any less.

Difficulty, I have found, is a wise and wonderful teacher. Feeling pushed beyond my limits always means the Universe has something better in mind for me than I have yet to imagine for myself. Difficulty is a code language for "get-there-faster", goodness awaits. And for me, the goodness whose time has come lies in re-directing my innate sense of responsibility towards my own tender heart. It lies, as well, in tending more carefully to the tender hearts of the people (and creatures) who grace my life.

A shift in responsibility is a process. Weaning and a rebuilding of my strength will take time. But the lesson is a ghost no more. I see clearly where to direct my care and my love. I see clearly how to begin.

{The image and mixed media heart (so fitting for my post) are the property of a talented woman I do not know, but admire greatly. Her name is Stephanie Lee. Click HERE to visit her world.}

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

First Snow

Dear First Snowfall,

Thank you for your clean slate, your blank canvas, your permission to begin fresh. I have spent the past 4 days releasing stress, stepping back from the edge, aligning myself with my inner truth. Today, with your clean consent, I can sparkle again. I can kick up your white fluff as I walk more serenely down the path of my choosing. There's love down that path, you know. And I suspect alot of beauty, as well. Adventure, for sure. And bliss of a nature I have yet to imagine. It's a fresh world ahead, First Snowfall. Crisp and warm all at once.

{Thank you beautiful ladies for your encouraging, lovely comments while I was half way to crazy. Each of your souls sparkles with joy. How lucky am I?}

edit: little did I know, the snow lasted for only one day and the lack of stress, the same. :(

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Half Way To Crazy

I'm half way to crazy. I'm hoping not to slide the whole way. With a foot each in 2 worlds, my stability is currently questionable. Sometimes I can laugh about it. Sometimes I'm just a mess. New territories, new directions can cause backlash and a re-visitation of worn-out self preservation tactics. My irrational dark side is having a field day. The Gypsy King is having to employ his well-honed skills of patience, understanding and human psychology. He is handling everything quite well. I, on the other hand, exhaust myself.

Forward movement, releasing the past and staying in the moment simultaneously is a challenge for me. Often, I go 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Often, I forget who I am and how to help myself.

But eventually, there is a pause in the jagged, hyperventilating pulse of dark thoughts in my brain. In that pause the grace of God whispers practical wisdom. "Go wash your dishes. Water your plants. Unfurl your dusty yoga mat." No earth shattering revelations, just gentle clues of how to calm myself down and make room for the happiness of sanity once more.

So, I will continue to face forward. I will spend time on my kitchen floor, staring at my humming, white picture journal~ the dreams I intend to make manifest. And I will play in my brain the words of the Gypsy King, as said to me last night~ "Just live right now in the happiness that some one loves you. Everything will come in its right time."

{Images from my refrigerator picture journal: a tarot card 10 of cups to invoke lasting contentment, joy in simplicity and happy family life. A flower arranging room in my home, ala Martha Stewart, to practice the art of floral design beyond my day job and just for me.}

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Days Of Gratitude~ 2

Grateful for:

*the people who are no longer a part of my life, the ones who have come and gone. each one gave me lessons and opportunities to better myself. each one gave me the option, through pleasant or unpleasant means, to build my strength and slowly grasp the concept of compassion. i am where i am today, inside and out, because of the spark, the glory or the pain gifted to me by those who came and went in a moment, a year, a decade or more.

*the people who have supported me mentally and emotionally during the times i have not been able to offer support to myself. the ones who have offered up great kindnesses and perhaps, unknowingly, convinced my soul to stay.

*the people who have shown me, through tenderness, laughter and faith, it is safe to love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Days Of Gratitude~ 1

Grateful For:

the courage to love.

the courage to risk.

the strength to let go.

{The days of gratitude are inspired by my colorful blogging friend, Curious Girl.}

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A New Direction

Here's what we're going to do. You and me. We're going to invoke a new direction in our lives. We're going to make some overdue changes. Even if we think we don't have a clue as to what to do or where to go next. Let's be honest, things aren't working out like they used to. Circumstances have become uncomfortable. Our usual routines leave us depleted. We are not as happy as we could be, should be, deserve to be. So let's figure this out. One picture at a time.

Step one: clear off your refrigerator door. Or your bedroom closet door. Or some big surface you faithfully stare at every single day.

Step two: think. Day dream. Pay ridiculously close attention to things and places and people and ideas that make your heart skip a beat. I don't care how far-fetched these thoughts are. I care even less if your devil-brain tells you "it ain't never gonna happen, so stop wasting time even thinking of it". We are on a mission to get us some glory in this life. Devil brain be damned.

Step three: find, make or print out pictures of those far-fetched dreams and ideas. Search high and low, if you must. Ruin magazines. Run the ink on your printer bone dry. Resurrect photos from that musty box. Beg, borrow, steal. Just get your hands on the best possible images of your dream-in-the-making.

Step four: get theses images of your future glory up on the big surface of your choice.( Make that 2 surfaces for me~ fridge door and bedroom closet door.) Arrange your images in such a manner you cannot help but smile~big and wide~ every single time you pass them by. If you don't smile and your heart doesn't flutter, get better pictures. Or dream bigger dreams. This is no time to be thinking small.

Step five: visualize, visualize, visualize. Visualize some more. Look at your dream journal every time you walk in that room. Smile and say out loud, "YES!". Do this over and over and over and over.

Step six: watch for the signs that start throwing themselves in your path that lead you one increment closer to your dreams. Feel your gut twist anew as directions and paths and impulses begin begging you to follow. Jot down the incoming strokes of sheer genius that tumble into your brain (spontaneously!) about what you can do next for yourself to further your cause.

Step seven: act on all signs and impulses and strokes of sheer genius. Act, act, ACT. All the while, keep visualizing. Get up off the ground when you land on your face. Do not be too proud to ask for help. Tolerate no bullshit. Keep smiling.

Step eight: do not believe your dreams for a more glorious life can come true. KNOW your dreams can come true. To know is more powerful than to believe. To believe leaves room for doubt. And there is no doubt, you and me, we deserve the most glorious life.

{What's on my fridge? Why, an 8x10 picture of the Gypsy King of Babylon and me in Istanbul, of course! }

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple Things~ November 16th

From a metaphysical point of view, the more complicated an approach or a doctrine is, the lower its vibration and the less light of truth it imparts. The more complicated we choose to make our lives the more unhappy we are and the more we tend to complain. Our jam-packed schedules, our televisions blaring with bad news and desperate people clawing at the spotlight, our closets and drawers and basements overflowing with crap we don't even remember we have do nothing but lower our vibrations and contribute to our round-robin illnesses. If we want to be happy, as most of us say we do, we need to choose a more light approach to our lives. We need to choose to be more simple.

We need not worry our lives will become dull should we make more room for simplicity. True glamour is uncomplicated, true love is straight forward, and nothing is less complicated than fun. We need to have more fun. We are so blasted serious and self-absorbed, we are ruining our lives and our planet. We need to shut off the electronic world more often and play with our kids and our pets. We need to ride the rides and howl at the moon and not give a fling what anyone thinks. We need to play at whatever makes us lose time and flash our teeth to the world.

Simple things, simple ways, and simple, glorious love will bring lightness back to our hearts. Let's release the crap, let's learn to play, let's choose to live in our truth.

Simple Things is brought to you by the warm and lovely Christina of Soul Aperture fame. Click HERE for a list of other bloggers offering their views on simplicity. Thank you, Christina, for the opportunity to play along with your cuteness.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Simmering In The Swell

I am swollen; with emotion, with love, with a mind roving at 83 miles per hour. I am thinking of letting myself burst. Not yet. Not yet. Maybe soon.

I have spent so much time, God, so much time holding myself back, keeping my dream-soaked soul in a box. The reasons are commonplace. The excuses, boring and tinged with wisps of apathy. There have been too many small thoughts of what I would lose, not what I would gain should I dare to polish my essence and shine it three hundred sixty degrees.

But now, I am swollen. Because of a man, a how-did-this-happen choice of a man. He is pulling my soul out of its box and daring me to examine the facets, the gifts I have not yet revealed to even myself. I am in the throes of teenage crush giddiness, yet I am calm and assured as a woman in love for forty years.

I am in new territory and I am happy to be here. Let me be clear, I asked to be here. Ripe with possibility, courageous enough to let go of what is in order to embrace the glorious, yet-to-be-known. I am simmering in the swell. I am preparing myself to burst the box. I am acquainting myself with my own brand of shine.

{p.s. I have heard from the Gypsy King twice since he had to leave. He is well and I have been a giddy fool each time I've heard his voice.}

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

new face

i have learned not to worry about love,
but to honor its coming with all my heart.
to examine the dark mysteries of the blood
with headless heed and swirl,
to know the rush of feelings
swift and flowing as water.

the source appears to be some
inexhaustible spring within our
twin and triple selves;
the new face i turn up to you
no one else on earth has ever seen.

alice walker

Monday, November 09, 2009

Berlin Wall~ 20 Years Gone

Three and a half years ago, I went to Berlin. To this day, it remains my favorite city. On this 20th anniversary of the peaceful collapse of injustice, I remember standing in front of the wall-turned-outdoor-art-gallery. I remember how that changed me. I remember my soul woke up in Berlin.

May, 2006~
"Berlin is changing me. I am not yet clear as to how, but I trust it will be revealed as the days and weeks progress. Perhaps it has to do with being in a city once devastated and divided, that is now reinventing itself in earnest. It is a city of contrast: East Berlin is the stark masculine, West Berlin is the lush feminine. With the artificial barrier between the yin and yang removed, the city is a metaphor for all aspects of humanity seeking balance. It is not easy. It requires intense work, as seen in the massive construction surging in East Berlin. And it takes time.

The seat of knowledge and power is surely in the East-again, the masculine energy- as witnessed by the mind-blowing museums and the House of Parliament. The breath of creativity and welcoming is in the West- the feminine energy- as witnessed by the trees, the retail display art and the plethora of sidewalk cafes. Each end has so much to offer and each is necessary for wholeness, just as each human being requires both aspects within themselves to be whole and sane and divinely functional."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cucumbers, Sliced Thick

I now eat cucumbers for breakfast, peeled and sliced thick. This simple, fibrous act keeps my heart and mind with the Gypsy King. I ate them every morning while in Istanbul. Because it was a new morning offering to my palette, it has stuck in my brain as a pleasant practice and makes it easy to feel his Gypsy presence while I crunch. But long before I ate cucumbers for breakfast, I was and am able to feel his essence from six thousand miles away.

From almost the beginning of our correspondence, I could feel when he was thinking of me. When my third eye feels like a thumb is pressing down on it, he is there, directing his thoughts towards me. Do not doubt me. I have tested this over and over again. The first test came unexpectedly and suddenly.

It was the first February we were getting to know each other. We were engaged in an email volley when he sent a message saying, "Mam, I have to go now. I just received word I have to take my team west. I don't know if or when I'll be back. I want you to know it has been an honor to talk with you. You've made me very happy". Having no prior experience with men in active military duty, men in the midst of a war zone, I was stunned. I remember saying, "what do you mean?" over and over. How could our conversations simply be done? I had flung open my door after work each day, thrown my goods on the floor and snapped on my computer in eager anticipation of finding him waiting for me online. How could it be done, just like that?

He left. If he was able, he would try to send me an email letting me know he was okay. For days I waited for that email. I was shocked at how frightened I was to never hear from him again. One evening, (how many days after he left I do not recall), I was making my dinner at 7 o'clock. With sauce pot in my hand, I knelt on the floor and started to sob. Not knowing what happened to him was breaking my heart. But in the middle of a sob, my third eye was pressed. I dropped the pot and ran to my computer. And there, one minute before I pushed the 'start' button, an email had arrived from the Gypsy King. He was alive and tired and his team was intact. He missed me. I cried again.

Time and space do not exist. Not to the heart of a human. For close to 3 years, with my forehead buzzing, I have known when this force-of-a-man has been thinking of me. He has thought of me alot. Now he is leaving again. I don't know where. The military keeps its secrets. So, I'm stocking up on prayers and cucumbers and facing east, third eye exposed for radar. I will think of the time I stood on the Istanbul ferry, my cheek to his chest, his coat and arms around me, and I will wait for the pressure to come.

{Ferry to the islands, Istanbul, October 2009}

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Go Forth

Today, I am forty five. Today, at last, I give myself permission to be happy. Today, I decide to spread my arms wide, muscles stretched, and welcome the second half of my life. With gusto. No whining about wrinkles and sags, no counting the greys underneath the dye, no looking back. And no regrets.

Today, I shed habits that never served, but stayed too long. Today, I embrace the courage to be the woman I was afraid to be for 44 years. The one who feels no need to apologize for her shine. Or her decisions. Or the rewards for years of hard work.

Even as I held a freshly run over squirrel in my arms this morning, soothing him in his death throes and resting his little body in a nest of fallen leaves, I could feel life beginning. My life. The second I-choose-to-make-glorious half of a life well lived.

Go forth, I tell myself. Trust. Act. Fly.

Post Script: Thank you to each of the lovely ladies who sent me such beautiful wishes in the comment section. I appreciate your time and great kindnesses. Peace to each one of your hearts.

Monday, November 02, 2009


It's hard to stay grounded and present in each moment when you miss some one so much. My energy is low. My emotions are high. We talk every day. But still. My feet are not on the ground since coming home from Istanbul.

Here's my solution~ focus on art. I love art. I need art. Art makes me happy. I need to happily make art and use it to rejoin the present. Luckily, my favorite collage artist, Misty Mawn, has offered an online painting/collage class and I am now among her few and eager students. The class is about painting in layers. How appropriate. Because any worthwhile experience will reveal layers of itself the more it is examined and digested. So I will learn to paint layers as I continue to peel Turkish ones back.

Guess what? It's Monday and I'm inspired by layers.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Slits Cut For Eyes

I did not expect to feel this way. I thought the art and architecture of mosques would intrigue me and demand ample room in my photographic catalogue of Istanbul. They did not. There was no lack of opportunity, as Turkey is mostly Muslim and, like Catholic churches in Buffalo, they can be found on seemingly every corner. For 2 weeks I passed mosques everywhere I went. Despite the domes and the arches, only 6 pictures resulted.

I did not expect to feel this way, but this is what I felt. It was the women I passed on every road and in every store that kept me from seeing the beauty of the mosques. It was the women in colorful silk head scarves and long trench coats, perhaps. It was the women shrouded in black with slits exposing their eyes, definitely. I could not see the beauty of the mosque with so much beauty covered up. So much beauty restrained and restricted. Subjugated? Denied?

I know nothing of the world of Islam and its edicts, its proclamations, its reasons. As an American woman not affiliated with any particular religion by choice, with strong feminist leanings, with countless inner struggles to live a truly free life, I witnessed groups of shrouded women led by 1 or 2 men dressed comfortably in short sleeves and sneakers, and felt...what? Anger? Hatred? Clench-fisted injustice? No. Nothing so strong and absolute. I felt, or thought I felt, the voiceless sorrows of souls who are, by choice or by chance, denied the opportunity to know themselves in all their unfettered glory. The essence and the aura of feminine beauty, (so tempting and ruinous to the untempered masculine?), needs sunlight and starlight to breathe.

Yes, of course, there are many unshrouded women in this world, in America, who are bound by invisible chains, who live subservient lives, who can't for the life of them call up their own cloaked spirits into the light of day. The women on the streets of Istanbul represent all women; the modern, the moderate, the extreme. Most of them, most of us, barely know how to breathe. But I could not, in that short span of time, come to peace with slits cut for eyes. The mosques had to be passed by.

Post Script/Nov. 2nd: I found this article today; not on purpose. It happened to appear on yahoo! just as I clicked on the site.

It seems my western, feminist mind is incorrect. It seems many Islamist women wear the head scarves(hijab) and the more extreme full veil with slit(niqab) of their own volition. They do not wear it as an edict of their husbands or fathers, but because their God advises them to. Their God advises modesty, as well as not tempting unrelated men with their beauty. So they cover up as a means of being closer to their God and deflecting the would-be advances of strange men.

Really, are men such animals that they do not have any self control when passing a woman by? Is every waking moment sexually driven? I find that hard to swallow. During my Istanbul adventure, I had to cool the Gypsy King down when groups of shrouded women passed. The mere sight of them riled him up, and he attempted to explain the reasons. I did not understand him at the time because to me, the black robes could only represent female suppression. I see that I am wrong. And yes, dumbfounded.

In Iraq, bombs are carried under those robes and set off in public markets. In Iraq, men in black drag wreak havoc. In Iraq, the people with extreme views of Islam have brought that country to its knees with their murderous ways in the name of their God. As an officer in the Iraqi military, the Gypsy King has seen it all.

From my American cocoon, this has been and continues to be alot to take in.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Yes, there will be more of adventures by the sea.
Yes, there will be more of the Gypsy King.

I like that little word, "yes".
So much more freeing than "no".

Say it with me now. Let yourself go.
Take a leap you could not,
would not dare to yesterday.


{Photo: jeans district by the grand bazaar, istanbul. october 2009.}