4/24/15

4/21/15

dear blog,
i want you to know one thing: i miss you!
huge transitional time in my life, which occupies my concentration, attention, care and creativity.
i love you.
laure

4/6/15

4/3/15

3/24/15

just
move

3/20/15

3/17/15

dear blog,
i miss you!
me

3/6/15

3/3/15

3/1/15

who is bob dylan:

There is a tendency to judge Bob Dylan, first and foremost, by his musical output and not as an artist in the widest sense, which is what he truly is. Musician, painter, draughtsman, sculptor – these disciplines are not so far removed from each other, all requiring their own imaginative input, time and practice. That Dylan, this artistic live wire, is responsible for magnificent, intriguing iron sculptures should not be a shock at all, and on reflection they are entirely of a piece with what has come before. 
Growing up in Hibbing, in an area of Minnesota known as the ‘Iron Range‘, Bob Dylan was surrounded by the influence of industry during his childhood in the region: the hulking machinery and huge workforce going to and from the mines; the truckloads of taconite rock and rust-coloured haematite ore being driven down to the port. These are the kinds of images that would tattoo themselves on to an impressionable young mind – images of a world where raw materials and man-made objects were bound by the grass roots of production. The influence of iron and nature on Bob Dylan’s youth is also the juxtaposition contained within his Gates: the material of the structures and the division of landscape that they represent. These works allow you to see what lies behind them, while at the same time barring your path – although not with a sense of confinement, but as a signifier of a change of scenery, a doorway, a symbolic entry point to a new world. With their symbolic potential, the Gates reveal a reverence for the past, for industry and agriculture of the kind now being consigned to the past in our developed world. As opposed to the relentless march of technology, the artist’s faith is still in the soil and the hand and the tool.
“I’ve been around iron all my life ever since I was a kid. I was born and raised in iron ore country – where you could breathe it and smell it every day. And I’ve always worked with it in one form or another. Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference.”
~ Bob Dylan

2/27/15

Madonna returns to the cover of Rolling Stone today. Here are a few gems from the article on the subject of 
ageism:
"It's still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody, and talk shit. Because of their age. Only females, though. Not males. So in that respect we still live in a very sexist society. No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay. But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What's the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They're judging me by my age. I don't understand. I'm trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start." And to the suggestion that her awe-inspiring physique isn't exactly average, she retorts, "You know what? It could be the average some day! That's the thing. When I did my sex book, it wasn't the average, when I performed 'Like a Virgin' on the MTV Awards and my dress went up and my ass was showing, it was considered a total scandal. It was never the average, and now it's the average. When I did Truth or Dare and the cameras followed me around, it was not the average. So if I have to be the person who opens the door for women to believe and understand and embrace the idea that they can be sexual and look good and be as relevant in their fifties or their sixties or whatever as they were in their twenties, then so be it."

what is le catch:

Someone who is angry is someone who doesn't know how to handle their suffering. They are the first victim of their suffering, and you are actually the second victim. Once we can see this, compassion is born in our heart and anger evaporates. We don't want to punish them any more, but instead we want to say something or do something to help them suffer less.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

2/25/15

who is andrea baker:

5 ways to break the addiction to sadness
by andrea baker
I spent almost the entire month of December walking around feeling sorry for myself. I hate to admit that but it’s true. As soon as December hit, I began reminding others that I was going to be sad that month and asked them to be gentle with me. What hit me one morning, about three weeks into the month, was that I was choosing to be sad - like, actively - though not necessarily consciously choosing to be sad. Sadness is not my default setting, so it took great effort to create and sustain this emotion. Admittedly, I’d had some stressful and shitty things happen over the past few months. However, I realized within minutes of waking up that morning that I had been making a habit of being sad. I hadn’t just been reminding others that I was going to be sad that month, I had actually been reminding myself that I was supposed to be sad, too.
Here’s how it played out that morning - how a series of thoughts chain-linked to allow me to tune into the scripts that had been insidiously running through my brain: It was Sunday morning. The winter solstice. The script that is set to autoplay every year on that date reflects my love of sunshine, light, and summer… and my fear and loathing of the dark days. That one was already running when I woke up. Then I immediately hit the start button on the track that was freshly laid down Friday evening when I got a wound-opening and heart-lacerating message from someone who had once been a huge and lovely part of my life. Next, I began to gradually mix in the track in my head that had been reminding me that Christmas was just four days away and that I was not going to be spending it with my family.
I was sincerely convinced that all of this sadness was real. I was preparing to spend the morning under my covers journaling it all out and chronicling the heaviness of my heart. By the time I opened my blinds to see the sun shining, started the coffee, turned the lights on in my little Christmas tree, and made my way back to my room, I was smiling and singing Blondie’s Dreaming. It’s just what happened. Then the voices in my head got super irritated with me. They loudly and unequivocally reminded me that I wasn’t supposed to be smiling and singing. Obviously they won that round of the argument because I suddenly heard the gloomy triple track mix that I had been listening to earlier. It drowned out Debbie Harry, and I felt drained of energy. Unfortunately for the voices, they came in too heavy. I was suddenly too tired to write out my world is too much with me late and soon list of woes. Instead, I started flipping through my Instagram feed in search of suitable distraction. I locked on to a post about the solstice. Instead of focusing on the day’s lack of all that is light and bright, the post issued a reminder: “Be a leader with honor and integrity. Be bold. Be courageous. You want to breathe deeply. Ground and center yourself before taking action. Then you can move from your heart.” Then the author quoted Mandela and said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
What? Choose hope, not fear? Like, actually choose it? The trifecta of soul-sucking tracks in my head suddenly stopped. It seems so obvious now, but it was a completely revolutionary moment for me - a full-on legitimate miracle. In an instant, I realized how hard I had been working to prevent myself from choosing hope. Instead, I had been choosing to manufacture sadness and its evil cousins (loneliness, anxiety, fear, resentment, jealousy). It was exhausting. The second I read that quote, my head cleared and I felt settled and, yup, even happy. More myself. It’s like the auto-hypnosis I had been under suddenly broke.
I did end up journaling, but it wasn’t a macabre list of malcontent. Instead it turned into a record of counterpoint evidence as to why my sadness wasn’t real. It had been fabricated, and choosing it had become nothing more than a bad habit. To be clear, I knew I would miss my family during holiday season and I was sincerely hurt by the message I received Friday evening. And everyone knows that I am a full-on summer girl who can’t grasp how anyone could ever choose winter as their favorite season. So the sadness associated with those things was real. However, I had been giving it way too much power and energy, way too much space in my head. The things in my life for which I was (am) grateful far outweigh all of the other stuff. I know I have written these lists before (eventually I will know them all by heart), but here are a few of the things that helped me that day. These are things I recommend trying whenever you catch yourself making choices based on sadness (or fear, etc.) instead of hope:
GratitudeThe list of things for which I am grateful each and every week easily fills pages in my journal. So, do it! Write out the things (big and small, temporary and enduring) for which you are grateful.
MusicMusic always helps me. In addition to Blondie, Joel Thomas Hynes’ new song Livingstone and Lime was in regular rotation as I moved through my day today. If you combine music with dancing, it’s almost impossible to be sad.
ExerciseJust move. Do something: sweat, get the endorphins flowing.       Pick The Good PeopleI know there are a million inspirational quotes floating around cyberspace right now about not wasting time on the people who don’t treat you well but it sometimes takes a long time for that to sink in (especially when you are an optimist at heart and truly believe that love changes the world). I realized that day that I needed to let go of (like, truly let go of) someone who was no longer bringing positive energy to my life. It’s a hard thing for me to do.
Always Take The High RoadBe brave and kind, but know that taking the high road doesn’t always mean letting things pass unanswered. Sometimes the high road involves standing up for yourself. Sometimes it involves saying things to set the record straight.
If all of that fails, eat chocolate and watch Elf. That was going to be my Plan B that day.

2/21/15

bring your breath to life this march:

"There is a way of breathing
That is a shame and a suffocation
And there is another kind of breath, a love breath,
That opens you infinitely."
Rumi

The Living Breath with Margaret Townsend ... Bring your Breath to Life
Learn how to use your breath to access relaxation, vitality, present moment awareness, inner peace and outer harmony.

In this Renewal Workshop, you will learn:
* how to become more mindful of "how" and "why" you breathe the way you do
* breathing techniques that will free your mind and relax your body
* the emotion/breath connection
* how facilitated breathwork is a powerful way to reduce stress/anxiety/mental overload

Saturday, March 7, 2015 
1:00 - 4:00 pm
$55
Full Day Renewal Special
Stretch Appeal ~ soft
11:30 - 12:30
$65
space is limited ~ reserve now:
2. 503-780 -4964 (text or call)

Margaret Townsend has been practicing as a certified breathwork facilitator since 1993 and is also a certified Hakomi body-centered psychotherapy practitioner. Her focus on body awareness grew through her work as a Shiatsu and Reiki practitioner and a teacher of dance, yoga and fitness for over 30 years. Margaret brings a wide range of experience to her individual and group sessions including her studies in Qi Gong, Nonviolent Communication and spiritual practices.

2/18/15

patti smith talks:

What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
"The thing that bothered me the most was when I had to return to the public eye in ’95 or ’96 when my husband died. We lived a very simple lifestyle in a more reclusive way in which he was king of our domain. I don’t drive, I didn’t have much of an income, and without him, I had to find a way of making a living. Besides working in a bookstore, the only thing I knew how to do was to make records—or to write poetry, which isn’t going to help put your kids through school. But when I started doing interviews, people kept saying “Well, you didn’t do anything in the 80s,” and I just want to get Elvis Presley’s gun out and shoot the television out of their soul. How could you say that? The conceit of people, to think that if they’re not reading about you in a newspaper or magazine, then you’re not doing anything. I’m not a celebrity, I’m a worker. I’ve always worked. I was working before people read anything about me, and the day they stopped reading about me, I was doing even more work. And the idea that if you’re a mother, you’re not doing anything—it’s the hardest job there is, being a mother or father requires great sacrifice, discipline, selflessness, and to think that we weren’t doing anything while we were raising a son or daughter is appalling. It makes me understand why some human beings question their worth if they’re not making a huge amount of money or aren’t famous, and that’s not right."
(painting by me)

2/17/15

You're an artist when you say you are. 
And you're a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.
~ Amanda Palmer
(photo: my sister's sheet ~ NYC)
The Sweetness of Dogs
by Mary Oliver
What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself
thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.

2/16/15

This is Bobbie Sue as a baby ...
I received this photo today from the mama that raised her until she was two years old, before she became my baby.
She died on September 2, 2014, just five months and 14 days ago.
I miss her so much that tears still stream at the thought that I will never see her again. We connected on such a deep, soulful level; now she shows up by dropping her framed photo after I touch the box that holds her ashes.
I still think I hear her running down the hall or waiting for me outside of my closed-door bathroom.
She was the most trusted friend I have ever had.
True Love.
An amazing experience!

2/13/15

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon
by: Marc Chernoff
1. The average human life is relatively short.
We know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know. It's like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment. LIVE your life TODAY! Don't ignore death, but don't be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you're still alive. Be bold. Be courageous. Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.
2. You will only ever live the life you create for yourself.
Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can't decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don't be scared to switch paths or pave a new one when it makes sense. Remember, it's always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don't. Be productive and patient. And realize that patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in. This is your life, and it is made up entirely of your choices. May your actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end. And if life only teaches you one thing, let it be that taking a passionate leap is always worth it. Even if you have no idea where you're going to land, be brave enough to step up to the edge of the unknown, and listen to your heart.
3. Being busy does NOT mean being productive.
Busyness isn't a virtue, nor is it something to respect. Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time. We simply don't know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should. Being busy rarely equates to productivity these days. Just take a quick look around. Busy people outnumber productive people by a wide margin. Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They're heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their day planners are jammed to the brim with obligations. Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it's all an illusion. They're like hamsters running on a wheel. Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.
4. Some kind of failure always occurs before success.
Most mistakes are unavoidable. Learn to forgive yourself. It's not a problem to make them. It's only a problem if you never learn from them. If you're too afraid of failure, you can't possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. The solution to this problem is making friends with failure. You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us. Bottom line: Just because it's not happening now, doesn't mean it never will. Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.
5. Thinking and doing are two very different things.
Success never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it. You are what you do, not what you say you'll do. Knowledge is basically useless without action. Good things don't come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals. Ask yourself what's really important and then have the courage to build your life around your answer. And remember, if you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you'll likely be waiting the rest of your life.
6. You don't have to wait for an apology to forgive.
Life gets much easier when you learn to accept all the apologies you never got. The key is to be thankful for every experience - positive or negative. It's taking a step back and saying, "Thank you for the lesson." It's realizing that grudges from the past are a perfect waste of today's happiness, and that holding one is like letting unwanted company live rent free in your head. Forgiveness is a promise - one you want to keep. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. It has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.
7. Some people are simply the wrong match for you.
You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down. You shouldn't force connections with people who constantly make you feel less than amazing. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you're with them, for whatever reason, they're probably not close friend material. If they make you feel like you can't be yourself, or if they make you "less than" in any way, don't pursue a connection with them. If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with them or get a small hit of anxiety when you are reminded of them, listen to your intuition. There are so many "right people" for you, who energize you and inspire you to be your best self. It makes no sense to force it with people who are the wrong match for you.
8. It's not other people's job to love you; it's yours.
It's important to be nice to others, but it's even more important to be nice to yourself. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. So make sure you don't start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don't value you. Know your worth, even if they don't. Today, let someone love you just the way you are - as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as incomplete as you think you are. Yes, let someone love you despite all of this, and let that someone be YOU.
9. What you own is not who YOU are.
Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person. Most of us can make do with much less than we think we need. That's a valuable reminder, especially in a hugely consumer-driven culture that focuses more on material things than meaningful connections and experiences. You have to create your own culture. Don't watch TV, don't read every fashion magazine, and don't consume too much of the evening news. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you're worrying about Kim Kardashian or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You're giving your life away to marketing and media trickery, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and be a certain way. This is tragic, this kind of thinking. It's all just Hollywood brainwashing. What is real is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears. Too often we're told that we're not important, we're just peripheral to what is. "Get a degree, get a job, get a car, get a house, and keep on getting." And it's sad, because someday you'll wake up and realize you've been tricked. And all you'll want then is to reclaim your mind by getting it out of the hands of the brainwashers who want to turn you into a drone that buys everything that isn't needed to impress everyone that isn't important.
10. Everything changes, every second.
Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason. It won't always be obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it. What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow. You never know. Things change, often spontaneously. People and circumstances come and go. Life doesn't stop for anybody. It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day. It's likely happening to someone nearby right now. Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives. A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth. Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event. And these events are always happening. However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That's the one thing you can count on. So when life is good, enjoy it. Don't go looking for something better every second. Happiness never comes to those who don't appreciate what they have while they have it.
(painting by Joan Snyder)

2/11/15

“Back then, everyone was kissing in the streets,” recalls Hans Mauli of his image of a couple embracing along the Seine. The 77-year-old Swiss-born photographer came upon the pair—possibly students, judging from the workbook at her side—close to the Sorbonne and the Boulevard St-Michel. “I leaned over the stone wall and held the camera in my outstretched hands,” says Mauli, who shot only one frame of the young lovers. Known for his black-and-white photography, he rarely used color film due to the expense. “I didn’t have much money at the time, so I often kept unprocessed film for years,” Mauli says. Though he knew he had taken a good shot, he didn’t print it until some 35 years later. Mauli, who now lives in St. Helena, California, still believes Paris is a city that inspires romance (“Everything is beautiful—the light, the architecture, the river”), but he isn’t sure there are as many displays of public passion these days: “So many people are looking at their smartphones instead of looking at each other.”
Pema Chodron on four ways to hold our minds steady and hearts open when facing difficult people or circumstances:
"The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful. If we take this instruction to heart and begin to use it, we will probably find that it is not so easy. Before we know it, someone has provoked us, and either directly or indirectly, we’ve caused harm. Therefore, when our intention is sincere but the going gets rough, must of us could use some help. We could use some fundamental instruction on how to lighten up and turn around our well-established habits of striking out and blaming. The four methods for holding our seat provide just such support for developing the patience to stay open to what’s happening instead of acting on automatic pilot. These four methods are:
  1. not setting up the target for the arrow,
  2. connecting with the heart,
  3. seeing obstacles as teachers, and
  4. regarding all that occurs as a dream.
First, if we have not set up the target, it cannot be hit by an arrow. This is to say that each time we retaliate with aggressive words and actions, we are strengthening the habit of anger. As long as we do this, without doubt, plenty of arrows will come our way. We will become increasingly irritated by the reactions of others. However, each time we are provoked, we are given a chance to do something different. We can strengthen old habits by setting up the target or we can weaken them by holding our seat. Each time we sit still with the restlessness and heat of anger we are tamed and strengthened. This is instruction on cultivating the root of happiness. Each time we act on the anger or suppress it, we escalate our aggression; we become more and more like a walking target. Then, as the years go by, almost everything makes us mad. This is the key to understanding, at a completely real and personal level, how we sow the seeds of suffering. So this is the first method: remember that we set up the target and only we can take it down. Understand that if we hold our seat when we want to retaliate—even if it’s only briefly—we are starting to dissolve a pattern of aggression that will continue to hurt us and others forever if we let it.
Second is the instruction for connecting with the heart. In times of anger, we can contact the kindness and compassion that we already have. When someone who is insane starts to harm us, we can easily understand that she doesn’t know what she is doing. There is the possibility of contacting our heart and feeling sadness that she is out of control and is harming herself by hurting others. There is the possibility that even though we feel fear, we do not feel hatred or anger. Instead we might feel inspired to help this person if we can. Actually, a lunatic is far less crazy than a sane person who harms us, for that so-called sane person has the potential to realize that in acting aggressively he is sowing seeds of his own confusion and dissatisfaction. His present aggression is strengthening future, more intense habits of aggression. He is creating his own soap opera. This kind of life is painful and lonely. The one who harms us is under the influence of patterns that could continue to produce suffering forever. So this is the second method: connect with the heart. Remember that the one who harms us does not need to be provoked further and neither do we. Recognize that, just like us, millions are burning with the fire of aggression. We can sit with the intensity of the anger and let its energy humble us and make us more compassionate.
Third is the instruction on seeing difficulties as teachers. If there is no teacher around to give us direct personal guidance on how to stop causing harm, never fear! Life itself will provide opportunities for learning how to hold our seat. Without the inconsiderate neighbor, where will we find the chance to practice patience? Without the office bully, how could we ever get the chance to know the energy of anger so intimately that it loses its destructive power? The teacher is always with us. The teacher is always showing us precisely where we are—encouraging us not to speak and act in the same old neurotic ways, encouraging us also not to repress or dissociate, encouraging us not to sow the seeds of suffering. So with this person who is scaring us or insulting us, do we retaliate as we have one hundred thousand times before, or do we start to get smart and finally hold our seat? Right at the point when we are about to blow our top or withdraw into oblivion, we can remember this: we are warriors-in-training being taught how to sit with edginess and discomfort. We are being challenged to remain and to relax where we are. The problem with following these or any instructions is that we have a tendency to be too serious and rigid. We get tense and uptight about trying to relax and be patient.
This is where the fourth instruction comes in: it is helpful to think about the person who is angry, the anger itself, and the object of that anger as being like a dream. We can regard our life as a movie in which we are temporarily the leading player. Rather than making it so important, we can reflect on the essencelessness of our current situation. We can slow down and ask ourselves: “Who is this monolithic me that has been so offended? And who is this other person who can trigger me like this? What is this praise and blame that hooks me like a fish, that catches me like a mouse in a trap? How is it that these circumstances have the power to propel me like a Ping-Pong ball from hope to fear, from happiness to misery?” This big-deal struggle, this big-deal self, and this big-deal other could all be lightened up considerably. Contemplate these outer circumstances, as well as these emotions, as well as this huge sense of me, as passing and essenceless, like a memory, like a movie, like a dream. When we awaken from sleep we know that the enemies in our dreams are an illusion. That realization cuts through panic and fear. When we find ourselves captured by aggression, we can remember this: there is no basis for striking out or for repressing. There is no basis for hatred or shame. We can at least begin to question our assumptions. Could it be that whether we are awake or asleep, we are simply moving from one dreamlike state to another?
These four methods for turning anger around and for learning a little patience come to us from the Kadampa masters of eleventh-century Tibet. These instructions have provided encouragement for fledgling bodhisattvas in the past, and they are just as useful in the present. These same Kadampa masters advised that we not procrastinate. They urged us to use these instructions immediately—on this very day in this very situation—and not say to ourselves, “I will try this in the future when I have a bit more time.”

2/10/15

“What if we never ‘get over’ certain deaths, or our childhoods? What if the idea that we should have by now, or will, is a great palace lie? What if we’re not supposed to? What if it takes a life time…?”
~ Anne Lamott

what is grief:

I am a scholar of grief, I know her well and I continue to learn from her. Yes there are the Five Stages of Loss and Grief, brilliantly defined by author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, but sometimes, even when you embrace and bravely endure these five stages, you're never fully out of her grip, there is not an end point where one can confirm they have completed these stages and are now grief-free, or they are; it's so very personal. I am soothed by literature and stories that allow grief to be part of someone's DNA, which is how grief feels to me. Today I am grateful for Alison Nappi's ideas about grief, she says:
"The truth is there are losses you never get over. They break you to pieces and you can never go back to the original shape you once were, and so you will grieve your own death with that of your beloved lost.
Your grief is your love turned inside out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds. Grief teaches us about who we are, and any attempt to crush it, to bury it with the body is an act of vengeance against your own nature. Instead of pretending we are okay, take the time to wail, to weep, to scream, to wander the woods day after day holding hands with sadness, loving it into remission so it doesn’t turn cold inside of us, gripping us intermittently in the icy fingers of depression. That’s not what grief is meant to do. Grief has a way of showing you just how deep your aliveness goes. It’s a dagger shoved down your throat, its handle bulging like an Adam’s apple protruding from your neck, edges pressed against both lungs, creating a long, slow bleed in your chest that rolls down the edges of your life, and you get to handle that any way you want. If you have been sitting on old grief from your childhood, your failed relationships, the loss of a family pet, and any other losses you were unable to fully honor in the past, this left-over grief will also come through the broken damn. Let it. As John Green says, 'Grief does not change you ... It reveals you.' And herein lies the gift that cannot die. It changes the course of your life forever. If you allow yourself the chance to feel it for as long as you need to — even if it is for the rest of your life — you will be guided by it. You will become someone it would have been impossible for you to be, and in this way your losses will live on, in you."
(painting by Autumn Ann)

2/9/15

On Saturday we were a group of sixteen interesting women. 
We came together to learn about Astrology + Love from master teacher and astrologer Carol Ferris. 
It was a fascinating renewal and I have been thinking a lot about it since ... 
Carol asked each of us to read a quote, poem or story about love by way of introduction. 
Here are a few of these gems:

"Return to Innocence" 
That's not the beginning of the end.
That's the return to yourself.
Love - Devotion - Feeling - Emotion
Love - Devotion - Feeling - Emotion
Don't be afraid to be weak!
Don't be to proud to be strong!
Just look into your heart, my friend,
That will be the return to yourself,
The return to innocence.
If you want, then start to laugh.
If you must, then start to cry.
Be yourself don't hide,
Just believe in destiny.
Don't care what people say,
Just follow your own way.
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence.
Enigma

Osho quote:  "A woman who loves herself takes the first step towards real love."

"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold."
Zelda Fitzgerald

"If You Forget Me" 
If you forget me
I want you to know one thing.
You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon,
at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me. 
Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little. 
If suddenly you forget me do not look for me, 
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life,
and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots,
remember that on that day, at that hour,
I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land.
But if each day, each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine.
~ Pablo Neruda

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
Brene Brown

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
~ Maya Angelou

"The Nearness That Is All" 
Love's what Shakespeare never
   said by saying, "You have 
   bereft me of all words, lady."
Love is the man who siphoned 
   phlegm from his ill wife's throat
   three times a day for seven 
   years.
      Love's what the Arabs 
   mean when they bless those
   with children: "May God keep them 
   for you."
         Or why a mother
   whispers to her suckling, "May you 
   bury me."
            Love's how the ten-year
   widow speaks of her buried
   husband in the present tense.
Love lets the man with one leg 
   and seven children envy no man
   living and none dead.
                  Love 
   leaves no one alone but, oh,
   lonely, lonelier, loneliest
   at midnight in another country.
Love is jealousy's mother
   and father.
            Love's how death
   creates a different nearness
   but kills nothing.
                  Love 
   makes lovers rise from each
   loving wanting more.
                        Love 
   says impossibility's possible
   always.
            Love saddens glad 
   days for no bad reason.
Love gladdens sad days
   for no good reason.
                           Love 
   mocks equivalence.
                           Love is.
Samuel Hazo

"Love Hurts"
~ Nazareth

"Love After Love"
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott

"Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human."
Erich Fromm

"Ode 314"
Those who don't feel this Love
pulling them like a river,
those who don't drink dawn
like a cup of spring water
or take in sunset like supper,
those who don't want to change,
 let them sleep.
 This Love is beyond the study of theology,
that old trickery and hypocrisy.
If you want to improve your mind that way,
 sleep on.
 I've given up on my brain.
I've torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.
 If you're not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words
around you,
 and sleep.
~ Rumi

"Love is just a four-letter word."
Bob Dylan

2/6/15

2/4/15

1/30/15

what is non-violence:

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks on the subject of non-violence. Dr. King, as Gandhi before him, had advocated non-violent protest -- but believed it was not enough merely to be non-violent. For King, there was a higher standard, and that was that you must love the person that harms you. In the following excerpt, King was speaking in 1961 to white liberals from the "Fellowship of the Concerned" at their annual meeting. He knew that many among them objected to student "sit-ins" and "freedom rides" and preferred a more gradual approach -- in part because of the savage beatings being inflicted on them -- and that his task was to persuade these veteran white liberals to see the student movement as a natural outgrowth of their own work and his own teachings: 
"Those who adhere to or follow this philosophy [of non-violence] must follow a consistent principle of non-injury. They must consistently refuse to inflict injury upon another. Sometimes you will read the literature of the student movement and see that, as they are getting ready for the sit-in or stand-in, they will read something like this, 'If you are hit do not hit back, if you are cursed do not curse back.' This is the whole idea, that the individual who is en­gaged in a nonviolent struggle must never inflict injury upon another. Now this has an external aspect and it has an internal one. From the external point of view it means that the individuals involved must avoid external physical violence. So they don't have guns, they don't retaliate with physical violence. If they are hit in the process, they avoid external physical violence at every point. But it also means that they avoid inter­nal violence of spirit. This is why the love ethic stands so high in the student movement. We have a great deal of talk about love and non-vio­lence in this whole thrust. 
When the students talk about love, certainly they are not talking about emotional bosh, they are not talking about merely a sentimental outpouring; they're talking something much deeper, and I always have to stop and try to define the meaning of love in this context. The Greek language comes to our aid in trying to deal with this. There are three words in the Greek language for love; one is the word eros. This is a beautiful type of love, it is an aesthetic love. Plato talks about it a great deal in his Dialogue, the yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine. It has come to us to be a sort of romantic love, and so in a sense we have read about it and experienced it. We've read about it in all the beauties of literature. I guess in a sense Edgar Allan Poe was talking about eros when he talked about his beautiful Annabelle Lee, with the love sur­rounded by the halo of eternity. In a sense Shakespeare was talking about eros when he said 'Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove; O'no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken, it is the star to every wandering bark.' (You know, I remember that because I used to quote it to this little lady when we were courting; that's eros.) The Greek lan­guage talks about philia which was another level of love. It is an intimate affection between personal friends, it is a reciprocal love. On this level you love because you are loved. It is friendship.
Then the Greek language comes out with another word which is called the agape. Agape is more than romantic love, agape is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive, good will to all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theo­logians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. So that when one rises to love on this level, he loves men not be­cause he likes them, not because their ways appeal to him, but he loves every man because God loves him. And he rises to the point of loving the person who does an evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said 'love your enemies.' 
I'm very happy that he didn't say like your enemies, because it is pretty difficult to like some people. Like is sentimental, and it is pretty diffi­cult to like someone bombing your home; it is pretty difficult to like somebody threatening your children; it is difficult to like congressmen who spend all of their time trying to defeat civil rights. But Jesus says love them, and love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemp­tive, creative, good will for all men. And it is this idea, it is this whole ethic of love which is the idea standing at the basis of the student movement."