Saturday, July 31, 2010

Susannah's August Break

Tomorrow begins Susannah's "August Break". It's a month of posting mostly photos. An opportunity to ease up on the keyboard and speak through the lens. Lots of ladies have joined the break. Even a few brave men. I'm going to do my best to post something to look at every day. Likely, I'll have something to say along the way.

Let the treasure hunt begin.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

i held a dream

Dreams are sometimes fulfilled in unexpected ways. Opportunities to claim the dream or live it even briefly are offered, perhaps, more often than we realize. What is required is that we be aware in the moment, that we pay attention. In that awareness and attention opportunities come to light. Action can be taken, and if it is, we taste nothing less than the elixir of our truest selves.

This morning, I held a dream.

It began with me passing a splash of orange on the side of the road as I drove to work. The splash registered in my brain as my favorite bird of summer, the baltimore oriole. 2 clicks down the road my instincts kicked in and I made a U-turn. I decided to get the bird off the road, place it in my car and  bury it in my garden after work. With traffic barreling past me, I bent to scoop the feathers and found, to my great surprise, the oriole was still alive.

It was limp and breathing and offered no resistance. I held it with reverence. I began a soft litany of love and prayers on behalf of this wounded bearer of juice and sunshine feathers, this singer of dulcet and tender tones. Time ceased to exist. It mattered not if I was late for anything. All that mattered was the exquisiteness of the sudden dream fulfilled, the dream of seeing a favorite bird so close and honoring its great beauty.

I tore a leaf from the ground and set the bird in its protective palm. It was the best chance I could give the oriole to recover from its trauma and lift itself skyward again.

It did not recover.

I found it, many hours later, expired on its side with the leaf beginning to curl around it.  I tore another leaf and used it as a shroud. I placed the orange bird, now covered in green, under long grasses and said my good byes.

I said thank you, as well. For in that sudden, morning awareness, a  brief and mutual gift occurred.

A never-to-be-forgotten dream came to life.

A passing was made more gentle.

And I drank deeply the elixir of my truest self.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Invite You To...

 get your Goddess on.

Twirl, baby, twirl.

{Dinner cruise, complete with disco ball and belly dancer~ Istanbul, spring 2010}

Monday, July 26, 2010

Help For The Cause

In my recent need to look behind me and ferret-out much of what has been holding me back, I was given lots of help. Most of the help came as a result of my simple (and sometimes pitiful) pleas to the Universe for assistance. I have found throughout the years, if my heart is sincere, the Universe responds quickly and clearly to my requests. The past while has been no exception. Nudges and directives came in perfect order. I acted on each one, and noticed the sun set a little more each day on those shadows of the past.

These words and actions have been particularly poignant and helpful to me:

The Mastery Of Love~ a practical guide to the art of relationship, by Don Miguel Ruiz

The words of Paulo Coelho, especially the sound-bites he throws out on his Facebook page.

Danielle Laporte's blog, White Hot Truth. Scrolling through the archives, I found some life-altering advice.

Cleaning. Like a mad woman.

Respecting and responding to the childhood images that kept popping into my brain, seemingly out of nowhere. Each image was a message of what needed attending in order to move forward.

Keeping my camera handy.

Driving down country roads, enjoying the hell out of the first ever CD player I've had in a car (shocking, but true) and loving the deep red security color. My mantra while driving: "thank me for this wonderful car!".

Doing my hyper-aware best to stay in each moment and noticing the smallest, happy things that come my way.

Crying so hard it scared the cats.

And yesterday, when  things seemed suddenly shiny, a friend with psychic gifts had me stand in front of my white cupboards to read my aura. Blue, surrounded by green, she said. Communication, truth and the heart. She said with a smile, "Your heart is about to burst open."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Little Griefs

If you are having a hard time with yourself, I understand. If you are cycling through the same, tired emotional responses to life and think you can't bear the turmoil or the shame for one more minute, I understand. If you make the decision to heave yourself out of the muck and things get worse, I mean worse than you could have imagined when all you wanted was serenity, take my hand. We can slump to the floor together, cry rivers of tears and swim  back to the surface as one. I understand.

The hard times and the annoyances are little griefs that were never expressed and never healed. These little griefs became emotional wounds that infected our minds and bodies. They play themselves out over and over again, trying to get our attention, trying to make us aware of just where our boundaries were shattered and love was denied. We need to set things right. And only we, ourselves to ourselves, can heal the wounds that have kept us overly cautious and afraid.

In our quest to heal those little griefs, our skin might feel flayed. We might feel criticized on all fronts, unable to relate to even our most trusted allies. We may seek solace in the nothing-but-honest-and-wholly-perfect company of cats or dogs or nature at large. We must find ways to safely express our love while we work through the task of remembering those 2 or 3 events from so long ago that  have dictated our responses in the decades since. We must give ourselves permission to grieve the lost child or the abandonment or the rejection or the humiliation. We must feel the loss and the sorrow without shame, we must give ourselves the love, now, that was denied at the time. That love, that self-acceptance will help us burst to the other side and claim ourselves.

It is a messy process, that reclamation. It takes time and patience. It takes determination to witness the neuroses of one's own mind and respond with compassion. Self-judgment will rise again and again. Giving up will seem  the best option. I understand. But seek, instead, those pockets of safety; the dogs and the cats, those novels, the knitting, the games and mind-relaxing crafts. Moving our bodies, as well, will help release the grief stuck in our muscles and cells. Dance, run, stretch, spin.

Do not give up.

Do not give in.

We have spent our lives giving in to the lie of not being enough. We ARE enough and only we, ourselves to ourselves, can declare that and live that from this day forward. Or tomorrow forward. Or whatever day we allow ourselves to pass beyond the grief and begin the sacred task of respecting and loving our beautiful and wholly-perfect selves.

{Blue and Creamsicle; two of my outlets for solace and love.}

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Love For Creamsicle

chin up, sweet cream

investigating the lens

snuggled with brother blue

lots and lots and lots of pets

could they be any cuter?

we're all good

Over at the SPCA No Kill Adoption Center in the Eastern Hills mall, there's a sign-up sheet for a rapidly growing club. It's the  Blue-Skidoo Fan Club. It seems our baby Blue has blossomed and his emerging personality is charming the socks off more than a few humans, most notably the lovely lady in charge, Stephanie. She and Blue are no less than smitten with each other and it was she who received the very first honor of having Blue roll over to show his belly for petting. I saw the belly roll with my own eyes, heard his purr and his sweet, little voice  and even had the pleasure of holding Blue myself. With his cross-eyed good looks and expanding sense of trust, Blue is headed for rock-star status.

Yesterday, when I visited the boys, my focus was on Creamsicle. He is making wonderful progress, in my opinion. He did not try to hide under Blue's chin when I reached in to pet him, but instead, kept his own chin up and his ears alert. I stroked him for a long time, paying special attention to his face. And after awhile, he purred for me. That little gift made my day.

The boys are getting such good care from Stephanie and her lady volunteers. The opportunity to visit them regularly and help to socialize them has been a balm for my soul. It will be a bittersweet day when they find a permanent home. 

In the meantime, please stop in to see the boys and let them know they're loved. (Chances are you'll run into my friend, Elaine, who stops in to help with socializing). Sign up to be a member of the Blue-Skidoo Fan Club. And if you are able, please consider bringing a donation of wet or dry cat food, clumping cat litter, paper towels, cleaning supplies or old fashioned cash. There's even a green and yellow fund raising recycle bin just outside the mall doors for your old magazines, catalogs and newspapers. When the bin is full the adoption center receives money in exchange. Clear your clutter and help the cats. (The Smithsonian mags swimming in the bin are mine...)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Real Work

{ Yes, I say, yes, I say, yes!}

"The real work of this life is not
what we do every day from nine to five.

The real work is to disidentify from self-images
that were formed a lifetime ago,
and from which we still construct our daily lives.

The real work is to allow ourselves

to be who we already are,
and to have what we already have.
The real work is to be passionate,

be holy, be wild, be irreverent,
to laugh and cry until you

awaken the sleeping spirits,
until the ground of your being cleaves
and the universe comes flooding in."

~Geneen Roth
in Appetites: On the Search for True Nourishment

I found this quote today over at Lisa's land of renegade.
  The timing, for me, could not have been more perfect.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a necessary time

i am finding it takes a certain amount of courage to clean the slate. the back-of-the-drawer-discoveries, combined with the in-plain-sight-what-the-hell-do-i-still-need-that-for realizations require backbone to keep inertia and confusion at bay. momentum can so easily get bogged down in sentimentality.

but progress is being made.

the old clothes dryer is gone (unexpectedly), and a new one tumbles in its place. the old car is gone (expectedly and requiring the most muster of courage) and a much newer one sits in the driveway, in front of the garage, not in it, so i can peek at it out the window. the table linen drawers have been reduced to one, the vintage suitcases with some one else's initials wait outside the door for removal, the manuals for things i no longer own are recycled.

the process continues.

part of me feels woozy. part of me feels the light beginning to pour forth from the cracks in the fortress of second-hand clutter. and part of me is hyper aware of the correlation between the things I am removing physically and the thoughts i keep cluttered in my brain that no longer serve me. they must be put to the curb as well, or the clean slate i strive for will not stay clean for long.

it is a vulnerable time.

it is a necessary time.

it is a time and a quest for full blown trust in myself.

{photo: the last wash of my now former car.}

Thursday, July 15, 2010

finding the current reflection

in the heat and the clutter and the where-did-they-come-from fleas, a new life is being forged. the old life, the inertia, the sorry-i'm-too-exhausted-to-participate-but-thanks-for-asking response is being vacuumed up, put to the curb and traded in for better.

what lies behind and under the leftovers of former dreams and unfulfilled efforts? what, more precisely who, am i without the totes of vintage hats, grateful dead bootlegs, art supplies, years of smithsonian magazines, and reams of torn-out, unused recipes stuffed in a drawer? who am i if i step aside from the unconscious clutter and attachment to mementos of all my former selves? who am i in the midst of a pared down, second-hand free, keep only things that reflect my current state of being environment? i plan to find out.

with high hopes and enthusiasm, i am lightening my load. ruthlessness is now the path to my true inner nourishment, my understanding of what-in-the-hell has meaning to me at this stage of my life.

the garbage men will hate me in the morning, the car salesman will be my new best friend tomorrow night, the salvation army will love me next week. i have felt somewhat lost. i am purging to be found.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Blue And Cream Revolution

quality alone time

just look at that face!

door opened, litter box removed, head for safety

reaching in for petting, creamsicle so scared!

blue and creamsicle, relaxed and sleepy after heavy petting

i am in the midst of nothing short of an inner revolution. words have failed me to express the depth and the challenges of my forward movement. my skin feels thin. my world, held in place by decades of thought and will, is being reshaped. a new world requires new thoughts, new attitudes, new eyes unfettered by fear. control must be surrendered in some areas, taken back in others. nourishment is crucial. joy is crucial. sacredness must be rediscovered.

while i side-step forward to god-knows-what, blue and creamsicle are with me. we are all adjusting at a slow pace, but we will each find our permanent home. they are me and i am them, orbiting together, doing our collective best as life expands and changes.

yesterday, at the adoption center, when i reached to the back of the cage to pet the boys, creamsicle cringed. i was told he would hiss at me, but all he did was try to disappear under blue's chin. i began with blue and stroked his face and rubbed his nose and held my hand over the raw spots on his skin to add some healing vibes. blue accepted my touch. slowly, i rested the heal of my hand on blue and began to rub creamsicle's head. he let me. i rubbed his ears and nose. i traced circles on his forehead, quietly chanting, "creamsicle loves to be petted". he visibly relaxed and allowed full-handed pets down his body. i stroked him and chanted for a long time. progress was made. more will come.

the boys are here to remind me of the tenderness and determination with which i must attend to my own needs. if you have followed their story, they are reminding you of the same. patience and love have been, are and will be in order~ for revolution, for freedom from fear, for cream and blue, for me and you.

{ If you're in the Buffalo, NY area, please stop in to the SPCA No Kill Adoption Center at Eastern Hills mall and help the boys become socialized. The sooner they lose their fear of people, the sooner they'll find a home.}

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Here At The End Of Some Things

It is a strange and awkward task to dismantle the home of some one still living. The nest and representation of half of my Oma's life has begun to be distributed between garbage bags and boxes.

The ever-present cluster of rubber bands on the kitchen door handle, the lifetime supply of dixie cups, the 27 tubes and plastic bottles of various hand creams (one dating back to the 1970's in the form of Jean Nate), the scraps and scraps and scraps of wrapping paper, they all went into garbage bags.

The stacks of Christmas tea towels, the 17 oven mitts (some with tags still attached), the pumpkin candles, the skeins and skeins and skeins of yarn, they all went into boxes.

The photographs that exploded out of drawers and nooks in every room were contained, in totes, in one area. The gallery-worthy hand knit tablecloths and embroidery were slung over hangers in another. A few of the garden gnomes, who lived for years in my Oma's backyard and of late found themselves suffocating  in  musty boxes, made their way into the back of my car and will resurrect their kitsch by my door.

It is strange and awkward here at the end of some things, the end of an era of an immigrant's life. There is much more to sort, there is much more to toss, there is much more to handle with love and regard as we unravel the nest left empty by a mind in need of more care.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Joy Project~ fur love

It's the summer of my joy project and there's no surprise, cats are on the project list. I stopped in to see Blue and Creamsicle the other day at the adoption center. I brought some on-sale wet cat food and paper towels. I intended to stay a short time; a few pets, a quick hello, off I go. Except there were 3 week old ill kittens being fostered by the volunteer on duty (their mother had been killed by a dog), and the cat room was filled with activity (I had to break up a disagreement) and well ,you know, that Blue and Cream pair must be fawned over and fed their dinner, and back to the kittens who got handed to me after their individual feedings for some love and burping and it was hard to take pictures, one handed, of their squirmy little selves and before I knew it, my short stay was not so short.

But I haven't felt such joy in a long time.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

SPCA No Kill Adoption Center

miss ashley

Blue and Creamsicle are in very good company. Make that adorable company. I want you to see some of the faces of the cats at the SPCA No Kill Adoption Center at Eastern Hills mall in Clarence, NY. Along with our boys of color, I want each and every cat to be adopted. Most especially, the older ones.

I want to tell you about Miss Ashley. She has been with Sue, the cat whisperer, at the shelter for  5 years. 5 years! She was adopted once, but returned 3 weeks later because she hid under a bed the whole time. Let me tell you, Miss Ashely is soft as silk and happily allowed me to pet her. All she needs is someone with a big heart and patience enough to let her be who she is. I saw for myself she is lovable and sweet.

Miss Ashley is a bhodisatva, a compassionate being here to assist the brave and willing in becoming their best possible self. She is a teacher,  a way-shower. I recognize her because I, myself, have adopted a bhodisatva cat auspiciously named, Buddha. Animals, such as Miss Ashley and my Buddha, make humans more human. They clearly demonstrate through their tender and special needs where we as individuals need to love ourselves more. They offer us the opportunity to see ourselves mirrored in their actions and reactions. They offer us the option  to learn loving kindness towards them and accept them as they are, so we are then capable of showing the same to ourselves. I guarantee you Miss Ashely is cheaper than  therapy.

Please consider adopting an older cat. Please consider adopting Blue and Creamsicle, or Miss Ashley or any of the hard-to-resist cats at the SPCA No Kill Center. If you can't adopt at this time, please consider visiting the center and dropping off a donation of paper towels or Purina dry cat food or canned cat food or bleach or old towels or laundry detergent or lemon-scented pine sol. If you don't live in Buffalo, NY, please consider dropping off any of these needed items at the shelter nearest you.

p.s. Thank you to all the sweet souls who have visited with Creamsicle and Blue...