Friday, November 30, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rainbow

Photo courtesy of David Charlesworth
(Click on it to see the image up close.)

A rainbow can only be formed by conditions present, brought forth by the sheer weight and substance of what came before, in the past present. But now, behold the rainbow.

Light breaking through clouds

Photo courtesy of David Charlesworth

Hologram


One day almost a year ago (October 21, 2006, which if you look closely you can see encoded in the drawing), I sat down with paper and colored pens and doodled out my thoughts, letting them go where they wanted to go. The result was a colorful mishmash of words and lines, statements of my state that day and perhaps a kind of hologram of my life, as it stood that day and reflecting all other days. I found this piece of art recently and looked at it again.

A few weeks ago, or maybe more than a month, I don't remember, I got out a blank watercolor page the size of a bookmark, picked up my paintbrush, and created a bookmark.

I thought to put them together and see how they look.

If you click on the image, you can enlarge it enough to read the words.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Removing the Veil

Removing the veil covering the dilemma is a topic I keep returning to, again and again. Perhaps it is because of my natural tendency toward "all or nothing" thinking. Now, before you accuse me (justified or not), let me admit right here and now: I am guilty! Yes, I see in black and white sometimes, forgetting about the colors. Sometimes, I see in colors and forget about the black and white. Both ways are all-or-nothing ways of seeing, or of not seeing the full spectrum, everything rather than just selected things, extreme things, while neglecting to see all else. The subtleties of life are such that we simply must remove our veils, the ones that blind us to what we are not seeing.

Okay, enough of an introduction. The dilemma is something we all face at one time or another. We think we have two options and that one must be discarded in favor of the other one. Neither option is desirable and yet we must deem one more undesirable than the other. But how often, I wonder, do we grab one of those "horns" because we cannot think of another thing to do? And how often do we end up disappointed because we chose one "bad" thing over another bad thing. Perhaps a different way of looking at the situation is in order here.

Very often, discussion of a matter leads people to a point where they decide, "We must decide!" And if the decision to decide is premature, then problems enter in. People feel misunderstood, cheated, betrayed, alienated, ignored, and any number of other uncomfortable states of being.

Discussion has its merits, without doubt, but it is dialogue that has the power to bring people into true communication with one another. It is dialogue that can cut through the negativity of all those things I just mentioned, being misunderstood, cheated, and so on.

I propose that next time you are faced with what looks like a dilemma, instead of choosing one unpleasant thing over another, try reframing the issue. Don't look at it as a dilemma but as an opportunity to add color, or to touch up with a dab of black, or of white, or even to blend the black and white into grey, or darken or lighten particular colors in your picture with either black or white to give them a different variation (brightness, for example) on the same hue.

This is all metaphor, of course, to represent the fact that life is like painting in that you can be highly creative with it. I am frustrated with some aspects of my life right now, am not getting the results that I have hoped for; but I haven't tried some things yet, and in no way will abandon creativity.

One of my biggest problems seems to be how to respond when a person doesn't behave as I think he or she should be behaving, as if my paltry wishes should or could dictate that person's behavior. Detaching from my own expectations is the beginning of allowing unfolding to occur as it should, as it must.

I will not give up hope that everything I desire is within my grasp, despite all obstacles and regardless of the dilemmas that crowd my imagination. That is the beauty of the imagination itself, the ability to shape and form it through seeing, until it finally begins to serve us in ways leading toward this eventual attainment of our our heart's desire, as individuals and as a community desirous of peace and harmony. It doesn't happen overnight; it is a gradual process; and while it isn't easy, it actually does ease tension once the barriers have been broken and real contact has been made.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bad art is okay!


I was messing around (literally) with paints the other day and created a really bad painting. Not wanting it to go to waste, I decided to butcher it a little and create a really bad collage! The centerpiece is not mine; it is a patch that I "patched" (actually glued) in. It says that I kitty bad kitties, and I do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It

It
is not personal,
it is common
knowledge;
and it is, too,
personal.
Is it uncommon
to experience the
extraordinarily
ordinary emotions
that we all know
far too well?
It knows that
not caring
means
not receiving.

I give it up,
again,
surrendering
all that,
the part of it,
that is outside
my control.

It is, and will be
forevermore,
in that space
that place
the untouchable.
Forgiven, but
who can forget?

It keeps coming back,
haunting, brooding.
Go away.
Okay.
Come back.
It is personal,
and yet it's not.

It is real,
and it is
real hands off
this time.
Palms up,
head down.

Squinting into
the distance,
with eyes closed.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Labyrinth of Petals


This is a watercolor painting of mine that is the inspiration for an ongoing story I have posted in another blog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You Are Not Your Body

I am the spirit and I have a body.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Secrets


It's really not a mystery. I have known "the secret" for quite some time now, but am just now watching the documentary film about it. Here are some notes I have been taking while watching.

Our job as humans is to hold on to the thoughts of what you want. Thoughts become things. See yourself living in abundance and you will attract things. The law of attraction is obedience. When you focus on what you want, with all of your intention, the law of attraction will give you what you want every time. It manifests the things you think about and is always working.

Focusing on what you don't want, what you're afraid of, causes exactly that to manifest. Whatever thoughts are predominant in your consciousness are the ones you attract.

You draw the community you are in to you.

The mind is shaping the very thing that is being perceived. You can cook a man's dinner with electricity; you can also cook the man. Nobody understands electricity, but we all use it.

An affirmative thought is much more powerful than a negative thought; this has been proven scientifically. There is a time delay; all of your thoughts don't come true instantly. The time delay serves you, allows you to think about what you want and to make a new choice.

Whatever is in your life right now, you have attracted.

The "fun begins" when you monitor your thoughts. Our feelings let us know what it is we are thinking. The emotions are a gift because they let us know what we are attracting. When you celebrate the good feelings, you draw those to you.

Our feelings are a feedback mechanism to us, about whether we are on track or not. Whatever you are thinking and feeling today is creating your future. You "get" what you are feeling about, not so much what you are thinking about.

You can begin to feel healthy and prosperous, feel the love that is around you, even if it's not there.

Your thoughts and your feelings create your life. Whatever thought has done in your life, it can be undone, through a shift in your awareness. Once you begin to understand, and truly master your thoughts and feelings, that's how you see that you create your own reality. That's where your power is; you are a deliberate creator of your universe.

Life should be and will be absolutely phenomenal when you start using the secret. "Your wish is my command," says the Genie, says the Universe.

The Creative Process

1. Ask. The universe responds to your thoughts. What do you really want? You might start by saying "I'm so happy and grateful now that ..." then explain how you want your life to be, in every area. It's really as easy as just placing your order with the universe.

2. Believe. Believe that it's already yours. The universe will begin to rearrange itself to make it happen for you. You don't need to know how it's going to come about, only that it will. It will be shown to you; you will attract the way.

We get frustrated and disappointed when we don't see the things we've requested. We become doubtful, then more disappointed. Recognize that feeling and replace it with unwavering faith.

3. Receive. Feel the way you'll feel when it arrives; feel it now. You put yourself in the frequency of what you're wanting when you feel good. Power comes from a combination of knowing something intellectually and feeling it, too. When you turn the fantasy into a fact, you're in the position to build bigger and better fantasies. Think about what will help you generate the feelings of having it now, then remember those feelings.

You might just wake up and it's there, it has manifested. Or you might be inspired with some idea of an action to take. The universe likes speed; don't delay, don't second guess. Don't doubt.

When the intuitive nudge is there, act. That's your job and that's all you have to do. You've got to pay attention to what you are attracted to. It literally moves into physical reality with and through you, by law.

How long will it take? There is no rule book. It is a matter of you being in alignment with the universe itself. The universe does everything it does with zero effort. You provide the feelings of having it now; it will respond.

Your Present Circumstances = Your Current Reality

When you want to change your circumstances, you must first change your thinking. You expect debt, and it continues to be there. You aren't your current state of affairs; that's who you were, the residual effects of the past.

Right now, you can begin to turn your life around by doing two or three things.

Gratitude

List what you are grateful for; it shifts your thinking. Appreciation attracts support. Whatever we think about and thank about, we bring about. Feel the feelings of gratitude about what you already have in your life.

Visualize

Visualize in order to materialize. If you've been there in the mind, you'll go there in the body. Dwell upon the end result; it's the feeling that creates the attraction. Put yourself in the feeling place of really being in the situation you want to create. Feel the joy, the happiness. That inner seeing is an open doorway through which the universe expressess....

The "how" will show up out of commitment to the "what." And the hows are the domain of the universe. Magic and miracles happen when you turn it over to the universe. You want to feel good about the whole process.

Integrating Visualization and Gratitude

Make a habit of using the law of attraction. Decide what you want; believe you can have it; believe you deserve it. Close your eyes and visualize already having it, feeling those feelings. Come out of that, and think about what you're already grateful for in your life. Then, go into your day and release it to the universe.

When you have inspired thought, you have to trust it and you have to act on it. Intend what you want. When you focus on lack and scarcity, you'll attract more of that; focus on abundance to create more abundance.

Do you treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you? Fill yourself up to fullness so you can overflow in giving. With a healthy respect and love for yourself, you will love others. In relationships, focus on what you appreciate about the other person; focus on acknowledging his or her strengths.

You're the only one who can be in charge of your joy, your bliss; it all lies within you. The mind is the biggest factor in the healing arts. Our bodies are constantly changing; stress degrades the body; remove it, and the body heals itself. You become what you think about.

Thoughts and emotions determine the physical substance of your body. People give energy to what they want and what they don't want. We "fight" against what we don't want (cancer, drugs, terrorism, etc.). Anger about a situation adds energy to it; this creates resistance. "What you resist persists," says Carl Jung. "Anti" movements create more of what we don't want, so focus instead on creating what you do want: trust, love, living in abundance, and so forth. If you're anti-something, be pro- its opposite (war/peace, poverty/abundance, etc.). Notice what you don't want, for contrast, but focus on what you want.

It's good to be informed, but you don't have to be inundated. The voice and vision on the inside should be louder than the opinions on the outside; this is a sign that you have mastered your life. Energy flows where attention goes; shift your attention toward what you want.

The beauty of the secret is that there is more than enough to go around, for everyone. The lack and limitation we imagine is a lie; living in fear breeds stinginess; those thoughts of fear and lack become experience. A mind that is aware of its own infinite nature experiences more of what is out there (love, joy, creativity, etc.) in abundance, with focus. Opening up our vision to see all that is around us dissipates what we view as "lack."

You have to get hungry, be intentional, want what it is you set your heart and mind upon. Recognize, bless, and praise the beautiful things around you. Don't spend your energy complaining about the things that aren't working. Embrace everything that you want so you can get more of it.

Everything is energy. We can get distracted by the body, which just holds the spirit. We are one way the universe is becoming conscious of itself.

Are the results of your life what you really want? Are they worthy of you? Victimization is real, yet so what. What do you choose now? You hold the pen, and the outcome to your story is what you choose. The law will begin to respond to your intentions. The power that's in you is greater than the power that's in the world. Every single "I'm not" you utter is a creation. "Whether you think you can or you can't, either way you are right," says Henry Ford. We are unlimited.

Your purpose is what you say it is; your mission is the mission you give yourself. Put yourself in a state of joy. Following your bliss becomes contagious. The Last Frontier is not space but mind. See yourself with the good that you desire.

The more you understand the secret, the more you'll use it. You deserve to be happy; you were born to add value to this world. You can be the best that you can be. All previous moments have prepared you for this moment. Nobody can dance your dance; who you are and what you do begins now. Your right thinking will guide and direct you, feed and clothe you, if you let it. Feel good.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tough Times

I've been posting in another blog these past few days, feeling some weight and seeking release from it.

A Map of the Journey

Thanks to Alton for sharing this:

The practicioner dwells in stability and freedom. If you can keep your mind here and now with all attention, there is stability. That means our mind is not going to the past, it is not going to the future, so there is stability.

As your mind settles in this very here and now, pay attention to whatever is happening in your body or mind and you have stability and freedom. Because when you are paying total attention there is no thought.

Thought is a prison you are in. When we don't think we pay full attention. There is no greed in the mind because there is no thought. Greed is actually a thought. Without thought can you make yourself greedy? Just try it. Without thinking about a story, a person, a situation we cannot become greedy. So greed accompanies with a thought.

Also without thinking you cannot become angry. Right here and now there is nothing to be greedy about, nothing to be angry about. So this is freedom, no greed, no anger, just full attention. The mind is free from delusion and absentmindedness. We must be diligent today. To wait until tomorrow is too late.

From the cover of A Map of the Journey by u jotika

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Working through Grief

Still trying to work through the grief of this tragedy in Virginia, heart heavy with condolences and love for the people personally touched by the horrific crimes perpetrated on Monday.

The boy perpetrator (whose soul is now out of body and in the world of spirit) who stole life and liberty from innocent victims, sending their families and friends into spiraling grief and untold agony, was in a way a scapegoat, a sponge that had become saturated with so many of society's ills - the greedy materialism, the arrogance of the privileged, hedonism, narcissism, and more.

He believes he went out in a blaze of martyred glory, a victim of torture and heartbreak. Yet look at all the hearts he broke, grieving parents, children, siblings, spouses, friends.... He created a living nightmare for so many people, especially those touched personally by what he did.

The thing is, we all share some of his symptoms, feelings of neglect and being victims of the cruelty of others. Who hasn't felt those things to some degree? The way people work with the injustices in their lives can determine their mental health.

Let me rephrase that: How I work with the injustices in my own life will determine my mental health. We are only as ill as that which we create.

Feed your soul with spirituality, Christ-consciousness, whatever you choose to call that nourishment we all crave and need, and you write a life story that has meaning. You author a valuable life worth noticing.

This boy wanted desperately to be noticed. He wanted someone to say, "Hey. I like you, dude." He apparently wasn't able to say this to himself, though. Where are his parents now, and how are they processing this tragedy....

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Personality Disorder

Here is an article about soldiers losing their benefits due to spurious diagnoses. How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits , by Joshua Kors

This brings many things to mind, including a fairly recent (within the last year) conversation I had with a psychiatrist who works primarily with veterans, about how many people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) actually had suffered childhood traumas in addition to any trauma suffered while on duty in the military. This is not to diminish the significance of anything that has been suffered in combat but just to say that problems might have started even earlier than the military experience.

In any case, to be denied benefits for injuries sustained while on active military duty is grossly unfair.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Reply to Walt

In response to a recent posting, "Sadness," my dear friend Walt wrote:

I don't understand how one person's actions can determine another's mental health. Its like "you made me do it" all over again.

Thank you for these thoughts, Walt. One person's actions can never determine another's mental health, although those actions can influence it. Ultimately, mental health is up to the individual.

Childhood and other influences have a definite impact on who you are, or who I am, the person you or I have become. What any one of us chooses to do comes from inside, not from the outside, and not because of what someone else did or didn't do. Good deeds or bad ones, it doesn't matter. Nobody "makes" you do anything, unless of course it is by coercion, which is something different.

Today

Here I am with my mother!

This picture was taken on Monday afternoon, when I stopped by my mother's house on the way to a town north of there, to attend a dinner hosted by a fraternal organization I joined in college. My friend who died, Lisa, was a member of this same organization. Seeing Lisa's picture on the wall of the lodge that day, one face among a composite of other faces, taken in 1980, brought those days back to life, if only momentarily.

I have a couple of shoe boxes full of photos and other memorabilia from days gone by. At the memorial service, I had told one of Lisa's sisters that I would send her some photos. So, there I was two days ago sitting on the bed with all these old memories flooding back, looking through those shoe boxes. I found the pictures I was looking for, and sent them as promised, along with a letter.

It's amazing what the death of a close friend will do. Even though Lisa and I had been out of touch for many years, I feel no less close to her today than I ever did. She touched my life in special ways; nobody else could have filled her shoes.

Well, another thing has come to mind this morning. It was inspired by a phone conversation with my brother last night. He is retired from the military and mentioned a present controversy related to treatment of soldiers returning from combat and how some are being denied proper treatment because of previously existing "personality disorders." The thing is, these alleged disorders were never identified before; they are just coming to "light" now, when the soldier is seeking treatment. I need to find out more about this.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

In Loving Memory

Today I attended a memorial service for my friend, Lisa Jo Miller McCollough. How sad it was to learn the circumstances of her death, so young. Lisa was 47 years old and I regret that she and I didn't keep in touch over the years. We had a "falling out" many years ago, and just never spoke to each other again after that. I held no grudges against her, but at the same time didn't make the effort to mend what had been broken in our friendship. One of the points the minister made in his message today is how Lisa was "broken." It's true, she had chosen a self-destructive path and it led to her eventual death, of cirrhosis of the liver. I wonder whether it would have made a difference if I had made the effort to contact her. I had no idea about her suffering, but if anyone had told me things had gotten as bad as they did, I surely would have called her.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sadness

This posting is about friendship. I lost two friends this week, one through death and the other through a choice made, although not mine.

I learned from my best friend today that a mutual friend of ours from college died of unknown causes. My friend learned of it through an e-mail sent to her at work; the father of the friend who died was a professional colleague. The funeral is this Sunday.

As for the other friend I lost, I feel an equal amount of grief because the reason the friendship ended makes no sense at all. The result is that I feel horribly misunderstood, and suspect she might feel the same way. At the heart of the conflict that led to the demise of the friendship is a personal decision I made, one that my ex-friend disagreed with. I did what I had to do and it makes no sense that someone who truly loves me and wants what is best in my life would object to that. But she did. She wrote me an e-mail saying her mental health was being affected by our friendship; in other words, being my friend was becoming a threat to her state of well being. Realizing that a person has to do what s/he has to do, I accepted her decision. But isn't it ironic that what killed the friendship (her decision) is the very thing she couldn't accept in me, the fact that I did what I had to do. It's all a matter of conscience. It is also ironic that what appears to be her weakness (something in me that brought out something unhealthy in her) is what is breaking up the friendship. She is one of the strongest people I know, and this is what attracted me to her in the first place: her strength. I still love her and wish her well; I also hope one day she comes to accept me for who I am and stand by me once more as a friend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Opposites Attract Redemption

I am trying to figure out what that is, the meaning of the word redemption. When you lose stature in someone's eyes, someone who you care about, someone whose opinion matters to you, the need to be redeemed emerges. Somehow, you need to explain yourself (to the person, in particular, but also to the audience in general) in such a way that the person knows that you are who you are and not the projection of you shown on the screen of his or her consciousness.

I am peopled.
You're all inside of me;
one soul,
with many
companions.
Good company,
we're all in it.
Standing so close,
I see you're more
like me
than I had realized.
If you don't want me
so close,
make me go away.
Close your eyes,
or shoo me with
your hands.
Push.
Will my heart
away from yours;
and when it breaks
wide open
from loneliness,
we both can
fall in, together
or separate.
Don't be afraid.
I don't want to
hurt you.
I just want you
to understand
that I hurt
like you
do.
I do.
Pushing away
is only an
opposite.

If my vulnerability is unattractive (it is repulsive), this is only because you see yourself in it, too. You're not all pretty either; our shit stinks, if not equally at least equivalently.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"An artist who is not working is a miserable creature, and the best way to cure that misery is to work. We do not have to work a lot. We do not have to work a long time, but we do need to work. The itch to make something is an itch that only making something will scratch. It doesn't need to be a good something - although it often is - it just needs to be something: a paragraph of prose, a rough sketch for a later painting, a stanza of poetry, the first verse of a song. In order to work freely, we must be willing to work badly, and once we are, we are often able to do good work indeed."

Julia Cameron, from The Sound of Paper

Monday, March 05, 2007



I'm not finished with this yet but wanted to capture this work in progress, a watercolor painting I am working on!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Next Right Thing

William C. Moyers wrote: "I am honored that you mentioned my book in your blog. But more than that, your appreciation for the decisions I had to make relative to doing the next right thing for the sake of my own recovery, affirms that others also know how difficult and necessary such choices are for those of us trying to find our way on the journey. Regards,William"

That is so true! Difficult and necessary. This book will be a great help to many people in that it clearly demonstrates how healing occurs only when we are "strong at the broken places" (Ernest Hemingway).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I've been listening to my blissed out friend Alton again. He inspires me because he is Alton, and I love him. Alton has actually quite mysteriously become my "cyberdad." (How did that happen, I wonder.) I have also been in touch with my other blissed out friend Shayne, who always helps me cut through the considerable fog of life, straight to what matters. If either of you guys are reading this today, I tip my imaginary tiara to you, with a wink, of course.

Another person I've been thinking about and trying to summon is Joe.

Whoever you are reading this, I appreciate you being here and hope you find something of value in what I am about to say.

Here is what Alton sent today, "the four questions," asked by Katie Byron. First off, my radar ears of skepticism perk up here because by claiming only four questions she is dismissing many others and making assumptions that might not be true. Yet her questions concern truth.

Here they are:

1.) Is it true?
2.) Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3.) How do you react when you believe that thought?
4.) Who would you be without the thought?
My gut reaction to question #1 is:

How the hell do I know?
I do know, however, that truth arrives (at times) with clarity obscured.

I have lately been engrossed in a fascinating memoir, Broken, by William Cope Moyers. And by odd coincidence, he and I have a number of connecting points. One of them is that we were born the same year, less than two months apart, in the same city. Another is that his oldest son was born on my eighteen-year-old nephew's birthday, and was given the same name as my nephew's uncle. But the main connection I feel with the author of this book, however, is that I sense in him the same familiar deep-down longing I have always felt, which is to be understood, and to understand.

On one level, I tell myself: "You don't need to show anybody anything, nor do you need to explain yourself. True friends don't need your demonstrations of worthiness." Yet what a contradiction that is! Life is all about showing, and explaining, demonstrating, and the like.

And it's also about success and failure. Consider this: Could it be that failure to understand the true meaning of success, in an individual and a collective sense, is failure to grasp the meaning of life?

Back to the book I mentioned, in part of it the author describes how his boss at work responded to his news that he needed to leave his position in order to move on to something different. Although Moyers had received clear direction about the path he should take, the lack of support from significant people in his life (including his father) had an impact. He wanted his boss to say, "That's a courageous decision. I am proud of you." But instead, he received discouragement and disappointment. (Likewise, his father later confessed to him that he thought his son had gone nuts.) He knew on a deep soul level that his decision was the right one, though. It would have been nice to have the blessing of these significant people in his life, but he knew what he had to do, despite all objections.

There is no good reason to vilify people we care about. What purpose does it serve, except to bring shame?

"When we become aware of our needs, anger gives way to life-serving feelings." Those words were written by Marshall B. Rosenberg, in Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Time and again, I refer back to this book when facing difficult life issues.

I will admit I am angry, at certain friends and at myself.

Yet what it comes down to, according to Rosenberg, is that we come closer to getting our needs met when we empathize with those who have offended us and express our needs and feelings nakedly, even though we place ourselves in positions of intense vulnerability when we do so. (I think of what Moyers has shared in his memoir.) In other words, Rosenberg is suggesting authenticity.

If we create an atomosphere of hostility and mistrust, we can only expect negative responses. In other words, trust must be present in order for there to be understanding.

Rosenberg goes on to say: "It is a rare human being who can maintain focus on our needs when we are expressing them through images of their [other people's] wrongness." I am not that rare being. The only thing we win by telling people what is wrong with them is the "success" in using these judgments to intimidate them into doing what we want them to do, or what we think they should be doing instead of what they are actually doing. If a person changes his behavior because he feels frightened, guilty, or ashamed, that is not a gain (win) but a loss. In other words, my needs are not met when someone only wants to avoid my wrath.

Breathe deeply, Rosenberg advises. Do not blame. Do not punish. Identify the thoughts that are making you angry. (Injustice is often at the heart.) Harsh judgments are tragic expressions of unmet needs.

Some of these needs are for inclusion, equality, respect, connection. The idea, according to Rosenberg, is to transform anger into needs and need-connected feelings. Before one person can truly connect with another, however, s/he must be able to empathize with that person, authentically.

Back to the four questions, can you absolutely know that it's true? And how do you react when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tribute to Patience

Please join me in sending out good vibes and energy to Paul, my dear friend who has been dealing with the inevitable loss of his beloved kitty companion of fourteen years, Patience. (Click on her name to read Paul's tribute.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007




I've been revisiting the details of the assault I described on January 25th , and have added a few amended thoughts about it, and will probably continue doing so throughout this process, which might be long. That situation is still unfolding and it is becoming clear that what should have been a simple investigation of a crime has turned into something completely different. Honest mistakes are one thing, but deliberately covering them up is something else. I hope with the time, trouble, and considerable expense going into correcting this situation, that in the end, sanity and justice will prevail.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Labyrinth


This is a photo of an outdoor labyrinth on the campus of one of the community colleges here. Walking a labyrinth is an experience that reminds me of how "in the moment" life needs to be, in order to be lived well. It always comes back around to that, every time.

Friday, February 16, 2007


"It started out as paradise. Then, as now, the garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things. The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe. It's part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food. It's a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses; it's about winning, about providing society with superior things, and about proving that you have taste and good values and you work hard. And what a wonderful relief every so often to know who the enemy is - because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth and growth and beauty and danger and triumph - and then everything dies anyway, right? But you just keep doing it. What a great metaphor! I love this so much!"

Anne Lamott, in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott, with Yours Truly (Rose)

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Mark, whose blog I enjoy reading, commented on an image I posted a few days ago, of a watercolor painting in black and white. (Thank you, by the way.) It must be said here that art is my personal savior, and I really can't imagine what life would be like without it. (The word lackluster comes to mind.) Soon, when it is finished, I will post an image of what I am currently working on, a watercolor(ful) painting for my daughter. It was intended as a Valentine, but ... well, other things have prevented me from finishing it, but we're almost there. As I was saying, art saves me; and when I am creating art, unseen helpers guide the way of my hand, holding its paintbrush, its pen, its charcoal, or whatever it is holding.... Do you ever experience that? (Image above courtesy of Miriam's Milestones.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

More about David ...

I was just sitting here and thinking of how this person on the other side of the world has influenced my life. We might not ever meet in person, but this guy deserves a lot of credit. Out of the goodness of his heart, he volunteered to coordinate an art project I was involved in last year. He never received any financial compensation for the hours and hours of labor he put into this project, yet I wonder if he realizes the value of what he did. I hope so! David, you are an inspiration. Here is one of his paintings.

Friday, February 09, 2007

One of the people who I have met online, David, has reminded me of some good things I did in the past. (Never mind the bad stuff, which is better off forgotten anyway.) Here is an image of a watercolor painting I did several years ago, for my father's close friend, Walter. He never received it in his lifetime, although I painted it while he was still alive; but I got the chance to give it to his son Zane this past year. He told me he is going to frame the painting and hang it on his wall. Thanks, Walter, Joan, Zane, and Holly, for so many memories. I will always love you.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It is often said that if the end justifies the means, those "means" are pretty much irrelevant. But if the following sentence is true, then the separation of the two makes the point pretty much moot.

"As the means cannot be separated from the desired ends, nonviolence cannot be separated from peace, for it is the value system and dynamic that makes peace possible." (From an article, "If We Listen Well," by By Edward Guinan.)
And what is peace if not an absence of its opposite? I cannot help but think of what James Hillman writes about peace in his book, A Terrible Love of War.

"I will not march for peace, nor will I pray for it, because it falsifies all it touches. It is a cover-up, a curse. Peace is simply a bad word…. The dictionary’s definition, an exemplary of denial, fails the word, peace. Written by scholars in tranquility, the definition fixates and perpetuates the denial. If peace is merely an absence of, a freedom from, it is both an emptiness and a
repression. A psychologist must ask how is the emptiness filled, since nature abhors a vacuum; and how does the repressed return, since it must?"
Do we really want peace at any cost, as long as it's peace?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gifts

I had another dream this morning.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Change

Today, I unfolded the three chairs and placed them in another room, in a different environment, under different circumstances. Thank you, Mark, for the inspiration to do this. Your most recent comment in my blog led me to want to share more, if you are interested. (We can talk about it in the group.)

Gregory Bateson once said,

"All changes can be understood as the effort to maintain some constancy and all constancy as maintained through change."
(From Steps to an Ecology of Mind, page 381)

Sunday, January 28, 2007



Thanks to Mark and Andrew, for your comments a few days ago. Yes, we are taking care of it!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An event occurred two nights ago and I am wondering how it might be connected to the dream I had on Monday morning. Somehow, it helps me connect dots between the various confusing points of interest in what happened, which was this:

My husband was assaulted by two of our neighbors, apparently a father and his teenage son. I was in the house at the time and am still learning of the details, bit by bit. There were no witnesses other than family members of the attackers. A woman, presumably the man's wife (but this is still unknown), saw and participated in what happened. It was three against one.

What started the conflict was the woman speeding down our alley and swerving toward my husband, who was standing in our driveway, as she sped past. He has a high-powered flashlight and pointed it at her car, to get the license plate number so he could call and report her. Following her was another vehicle, a truck, driven by the man; he was also speeding and again, my husband shined the light on his vehicle, too.

When the man got to his driveway, two doors down from us, he got out of the vehicle and came walking toward our house. My husband meanwhile had begun walking toward the man's house. They faced each other in the alley between our houses. My husband had his cell phone in hand and was about to call the police to make the report. The man began cursing him for shining the flashlight on them. More words were exchanged and he came at my husband with his fist.

By that time, a teenage male had come out of the house and joined his father in the assault. My husband was hit at least three times, hard, in the face and on the side of the head. To stop him, my husband pulled his gun (carried legally), telling him to back off, which the man did. As he was lying there in the alley, still reeling from the beating, the woman attempted to steal his cell phone which had fallen onto the ground. My husband pointed his gun at her and ordered her to drop it, which she did. After that, he called the police and they came out.

Meanwhile, I was in the house preparing to settle in and do my schoolwork. The dogs were in the back yard. My husband walked in the front door, came into the room where I was sitting, and asked me to bring the dogs in. I looked at him and saw his face bleeding. It looked like he had been attacked by a dog, or hit by a car. I had no idea of what had just happened.

I went out the front door to the porch, where he was standing with our next-door neighbor. After going back in the house to put on something I could wear outside, I returned to find both my husband and the next-door neighbor (our friend) spread eagle against the back of one of our cars, being searched.

Since a gun was involved and details of what happened as yet unknown, the police were treating them like criminals. At one point, one of the policemen demanded to come into our house so they could search for the gun. I wouldn't let them, believing they were overstepping boundaries, not only of law but of decency, too. After all, we weren't criminals and didn't deserve that kind of treatment. After some time, they gained access to the house to get what they were looking for (they gave it back later); but the way they wanted to go about it at first was humiliating and unfair.

What the police didn't know then was that my husband had spared these people's lives! He would have been completely within his rights to shoot in self-defense. It is to his credit (and a mercy to all of us) that he didn't allow himself to pull the trigger in the heat of the moment of being severely beaten.

An ambulance arrived and paramedics got to work. Fortunately, the injuries weren't severe enough for him to have to go to the hospital; although he was urged to go, he chose not to. [01.31.07 Amendment: I wrote this before realizing his injuries were indeed more serious than we realized. He was disoriented that day and wasn't able to articulate that he had sustained a head injury; he should have been transported to the hospital right away for treatment.]

The story told by the other family is quite different from the story my husband told to the police, so it was determined that each party would be issued citations for disorderly conduct and let a judge determine the outcome in court.

Race is involved here, too. My husband is Arab American and the other family is African American. We sensed racism in the behavior of at least one of the policemen, too, who kept spitting on our property and acting very unprofessional and arrogant.

As it stands now, after consulting with some other people within the police department, my husband is planning to sue this family.

[02.21.07. Once again, I must amend this. The lawsuit is not against the family, as I first thought; it is against the city. The incident with the neighbor is a different issue from the investigation of the crime. But the prosecutor who has the authority to get the charge dropped is twisting things so that it looks like the issue is between neighbor and neighbor. That is not the issue. The police did not accurately depict what happened and my husband had to hire a lawyer simply to force the police to do their job in an orderly way rather than the way they did it, which resulted in an honest citizen accused of being "disorderly" now having to defend himself and to bring to justice those who have disrespected his civil rights. It will be heard by a judge next month.]

I now wonder how and if justice will actually be served. It would be good to work it out between us but the animosity is too great. I suspect the family is poor, and suing them might serve one purpose; but it also might plunge them deeper into poverty, thus making their situation worse.

Additionally, this family keeps three mean dogs chained up in the backyard. I mentioned this to one of the policemen and he urged us to call animal control. To me, the dogs represent a way of life for them and I wonder what has happened in these people's past to make them so hostile and aggressive, and to keep dogs like that, in that way.

I feel afraid now, like we have to watch our backs. Yet as upsetting as this whole ordeal has been, it also clarifies our roles not only in the family but in society as well. My husband was cooperative with the police, despite their harsh treatment of him, especially at first. (Once his side of the story started coming out, they behaved with more civility.)

I also think about how we co-create our lives with the Universe. Each person played a role in bringing the scene to reality. It confirms that what we focus upon becomes reality, it comes to pass.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I described a dream I had this morning, here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Literature on the run



With only fifteen minutes to spare here, I wanted to say a few words. Love is a complicated but necessary ingredient in a person's life. It is not easy to love, especially when one has been wounded by it.

Kahlil Gibran writes:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep,
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden
among his pinions may wound you.
Only in love can a wound hurt so deeply, or as Neil Young sings, "only love can break your heart." But if it's true love that is sought, one must seek also to endure the sacred pain with dignity and to trust that it is for a purpose, and that it shall pass (or at least ebb and flow) and give way once more to the ecstacy that alerted you in the first place that you are in love.

I am committed to a heap o' studying today, with a test and homework assignment due tomorrow morning! Wish me luck, please.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One of my friends, Paul, commented some days ago about my posting on January 10th. He asked whether I had been reading Conversations with God. I wasn't aware it was a book, too. Another friend of mine saw the movie and has been urging me to watch it. Here is a link to the trailer.

The dialogue Paul was referring to came to me that morning. I wrote it down in my journal, then typed and posted it here. I have no idea where these dialogues come from, but when they crash into my consciousness I listen. (For another one, please click here and scroll down to the entry for May 23rd.)

"Where there is love, there is no effort." Amma
We hear so many voices in the course of any given day, whether these voices are within ourselves or outside of us. One of the concepts I've been reading about in my coursework is that of the multiple "alternative identities that constitute our self-talk." (Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions, 7th ed., by Corey, Corey, and Callanan.) What especially struck me is this. The authors discuss the theories of Paul Pedersen, who asserts:

"Each person has a thousand or more alternative roles or identities that are collected over a lifetime from various sources."
It immediately reminded me of Joseph Campbell, who said:

"Follow your bliss and you will be aided by a thousand helping hands."
That phrase, follow your bliss, has become somewhat of a cliché, and yet if you say it slowly, letting it sink in, new meaning surfaces. Try it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Taking a Walk


This is one of my favorite pictures! Back in the 1950's, roving photographers used to go around downtown streets, taking random pictures of people then offering the photos for sale. This one is of my father and his mother, taken in Fort Worth, Texas. I am not sure of the exact date, but it must have been in the early part of that decade. The two of them were shopping for a wedding ring for Dad's fiance, his first wife who (along with their infant son) would later be killed in an automobile accident. He met and married my mother a few years after that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Poor Pitiful Pearl


Since I'm back in school and can't possibly keep up with everybody who I'd like to talk to online, but I love getting feedback from people and staying in touch, keeping the blog updated seems to be the best method of communication outside my regular personal correspondence. I am grateful for you, coming here to read what I have to say.

I have a quiz over three chapters in my family therapy textbook and have thus been reading and taking notes for most of today. The "fun" (if you can call it that) thing about taking notes for a psychology course is that there are endless ways of relating the material to current life issues, and these have been finding their way into my notes. Five minutes ago, I jumped up from the couch and headed toward my computer, eager to share an insight that came up.

I took a walk this afternoon, a short one around the neighborhood. Just as I was approaching a particular house, I remembered a character of mine, a little black girl named Pearl. She was the leading lady (child star) in a story I began writing for National Novel Writing Month, a few years ago. Alas, I never finished that story, but Pearl has stayed with me. In fact, I think she is me, in many ways.

The name was inspired by a doll my mother bought for me when I was a child, Poor Pitiful Pearl, who I loved very much. As an adult, however, I came to view Pearl as a symbol for sadness. I questioned my mother's intentions, wondering why she had given me (of all things) a sad doll. What was she thinking? Was Pearl some kind of role model for me? A kind of mild resentment settled in. What kind of a mother....

Well, it wasn't until later that it occurred to me that Pearl was not necessarily sad; instead, she was poor. Disadvantaged. So, her "sadness" (as I saw it) had roots in poverty. And looking at a picture of the doll today, I see she wasn't as sad as I had imagined her to be. She is just homely, and is actually smiling, just a little. I began to see Poor Pitiful Pearl more realistically, and in a new light.

Anyway, as I was approaching this house during my walk, I thought of not only the character Pearl, but before that even, I thought of the physical pearl, and the process of making one. It involves an irritant; a pearl would not exist if not for a bit of debris irritating the oyster in which it is created.

Coming out of the irritating condition of poverty is a process, too. I waved cheerily to the man sitting on the porch of that house, a house I knew had a handicapped occupant who rarely leaves the house because of her paraplegia. I had also talked to other occupants of the house (the caregivers change) and had come to learn that she has ... well, "problems," related to her condition.

Anyway, all of this together -- a child in my consciousness, Pearl; the pearl, created by the oyster; and Poor Pitiful Pearl -- is what brought me to the computer tonight.

Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thank You

Yes, I am talking to you. Thank you for reading my blog. This morning (and it is still morning, but just barely), I was thinking about what matters. Does it matter, for example, that the time on my clock is 11:53? That today is Wednesday?

"Everything is significant, not just the few somethings that we allow ourselves to see when we are blinded by our own ambition." Julia Cameron, in The Sound of Paper
Who is to say what is a "little" thing, and if God is in the details (some say it's the devil), who else is there with her?

Echoes of places resound inside my incandescent self.

"Think of yourself as an incandescent power, illuminated and perhaps forever talked to by God and his messengers."
Brenda Ueland, as quoted by Julia Cameron, in The Sound of Paper
The discernment to filter negative images out of our imaginations is a skill needed for developing discernment in other matters. After all, we imagine the images, don't we? In our imaginations.

Why does it have to be "God and his messengers," for example. Why not "God and her messengers"?

God's incandescence transcends the limitations of gender. People can be stern and rigid, or neurotic and clingy. But not God, oh no.

How do you know that?
I'll repeat myself. God's incandescence transcends the limitations of gender.

Tell me something I don't already know.
Okay. You misunderstand your friend.

No, I don't.
You sure as hell do. Allow things to unfold as they will and stop trying to control them!

I'm too much of a control freak to let go.
Then you'll never understand what this is all about.

But how do I let go?
Just release the energy that is keeping you locked into your limited way of viewing things.

I asked you how.
Be still and listen, and when you are ready say yes.

Is yes a magic word?
Only if you mean it.

But I want to mean it. Is that good enough?
Well, I guess you could try faking it until you make it.

I don't want to do that. It's such a cliché.
You'd rather cling stubbornly to your controlling nature?

Yes.
Why are you pouting?

I don't mean to be.
Well, you are and it looks as childish as you are behaving.

Is there something wrong with childishness?
In an adult, yes.

What gives you the authority to say that?
I just know.

How do you know?
I did what I'm advising you do; I let go.

You mean you released control?
Yes. Paradoxically, that is the way to claim authority, perhaps the only way. In a real sense, that is.

Now wait a minute. First I was going to say that you never really answered my question, how do you know, and I want to ask you again, even if I can already hear your answer. And then you go and throw in that bit about some "real sense," as if there is an unreal sense to contend with, too. Is there?
This is getting complicated now. First, to your comment, "I can already hear your answer," I return to you: What is it? Next, reality and unreality are concepts that will forever be argued on earth. Nobody can prove or disprove either, so these are not much use squabbling or even just conversing about, a waste of breath and precious time.

Okay. You asked what is it, the answer I can already hear. I figured you'd say, again, "I just know." Right?
Wrong.

Then what is it?
I already told you.

You told me that you released control, whatever that means, but you never said how this gives you authority.
It's the yes.

The yes?
Yes, the yes. Say yes and it is yours.

It? What it? Do you mean authority?
What do you think? Be still and listen for the answer. You know what it is already.