deep power

I thank you, deep power
that works me ever more lightly
in ways I cannot make out.
The day’s labor grows simple now,
and like a holy face
held in my dark hands.

What deep power caused this to happen? A friend and fellow Diamond Approach student has a brain tumor. So suddenly this appeared. I saw him, practiced with him, lived with him on retreat, and a few weeks later he had a seizure. Now we don’t know how long he will live…

In Authentic Movement a few weeks ago, my body moved in such a way as to remind me of my friend. My deep sorrow at the loss of his life. And as I moved, I said metta for him:

May you be held in compassion
May your pain and sorrow be eased
May you be free

My body moved, blessing his brain, one open hand at my head extended to the world, the other hand holding my head in compassion and gentleness, breathing metta in and out.

I had the sense that I wanted to acknowledge his aliveness, his creativity, his brightness in the midst of this life-destroying tumor. How to hold both the reality of what is happening and the truth of his indestructible, beautiful being?

After moving in ritual prayer, in blessing, in metta, in walking meditation, I drew the central part of this collage. It looks like a spinal cord going up to his brain. It is full of not only dark, destructive tumor, but also life-giving color, possibility, and dark unknown.

There is no death. Life cannot die…Death is an end—the end of everything known. It is a fearful thing because we cling to the known. But life is. It is always here, even if for us it is the unknown…We must die to the known and enter the unknown.
Jeanne de Salzmann

The deep power of Being, moving in him ever more lightly, ever more difficult to recognize, but always there. Life is. In some ways, my friend’s days are simpler now—he must harness all his energy to meet this challenge, to feel/do what he must while he is here on this earth in this physical form. Life cannot die. Each day is holy, is lived, is loved, is held in the hands of life, of Being itself.

(Poem: Rainer Maria Rilke, I, 62; Quote: from The Reality of Being, by Jeanne de Salzmann)

living now

kitchen bounty

i’ve been so busy recently that i keep finding myself thinking over and over, i don’t have time…for talking to friends, to lie down and take a rest, to try a new recipe, to blog, to sit quietly with my man…but thinking about my life that way doesn’t help me to live in my life now. it’s a story that makes it hard to live now.

right now i can smell the onions i’m caramelizing in the crockpot–that’s a new fun kitchen adventure! right now, i notice my jaw is tight and i am sitting in my cozy nook with a heating pad, surrounded by books and projects and flowers. the christmas cactus has been blooming for about a week now and it’s gorgeous! dusk is falling. i sense myself here, embodied, here, right now. right now there is time. time is now.

and this weekend, being more aware of the moment, of now, i have enjoyed the kitchen bounty–the tomatoes i harvested green from the garden last month are ripening, i just picked the last of the chard out from under the snow, and there’s still lots of kale. i don’t have to do anything more right now. right now i am writing this and that is all i need to pay attention to. my fingers on the keypad, still tension in my jaw, my body settled, supported. here, now. here, now. herenowherenowhwerenowherenow. here now.

so, here’s what’s cooking in the crockpot: carmelized onions (just chop them up and put them in with some butter, salt, and pepper. mine have been cooking about 2.5 hours on high and they are getting there.). and i just threw some of that garden chard in, chopped up to finish cooking wtih the onions. i’m planning to make a tomato tart with the onion/chard on the bottom and slices of fresh tomatos with feta, perhaps cheese on the top. but that’s later. right now, i’m here, typing, munching on cheese curds and crackers.

where are you now? are you here? what is the texture of your here now?

bye now, katy

authentic movement

I’m taking an Authentic Movement class and really loving it. In the first class, we only moved for about 15 minutes. At first, I wasn’t sure. I felt shy, afraid that I would feel nothing, no impulse to move. Afraid that my movement would be boring if I didn’t decide to DO something interesting. But deciding, as I’ve done it in the past, while it can create movement and doing, doesn’t always feel authentic to me…

Authentic. What does this mean? It’s the Virtue of the type Three, Authenticity. True to who I am, to my own inner, core expression. In order to be true to this, I have to allow it to come through. I have to take time to sense it in some way.

Even though I have been engaging in sensing practice and can feel myself interiorly these days, I was afraid that these sensations would not lead to movement. Our teacher Barbara said that was fine. That my job was to be authentic to what my body wanted to express. That could look like lying down and not moving. That could be a small, “boring” movement, or anything at all. No rules, no shoulds, no ways I am supposed to move or not move! YIKES! I’m darn good at doing what I SHOULD do. What do I do with no shoulds?

I decided to take this class to explore more with my body, but I didn’t realize until I took it that it was perfect for this unknown exploration that has been up for the last few months around death and mystery and lack of control…what happens if I’m not in control of my life, of my movement?

So, I chose a corner and found that I needed to sit down. Standing felt too exposed and too active. I sat and sensed. I felt my bubbly, life-force energy and jiggled my body every once in awhile to meet the bubbly pulsations. But I felt very, very still and interior. I lay down, I shifted, rolled a bit…Barbara later said that during this time I looked like a rock, a still mountain, something organic and contained and full. I felt this, too, and I wondered if I would feel more impulse to move. Where would it come from? Would it be related to the bubbly sensations or the groundedness?

I started to notice an impulse to move differently—to reach out an arm strongly. To flow my arms. At one point, I saw a movement of my right arm and took that as an impulse to move it like that. It felt good to move that way. When my ring tapped on the floor during a movement, I liked the sound and felt like making it in rhythm a few times. My movement ended up expanding through my chest and arms, opening up a bit, with more dynamism coming out of the stillness. But I still stayed pretty close to the floor.

Who was moving? I don’t know, but I know I wasn’t “doing” it for show—to be a good dancer, a good mover, balanced, coordinated, whatever. I was sincerely trying to follow my own body’s wisdom about what she wanted to do. That included a lot of still sensing. I was encouraged to notice some impulses that I didn’t know where came from and to follow them.

In the classes I’ve been to since this first one, each time I feel more able to trust myself and the movement that flows through me. It’s a different kind of sensing than I’m used to and it’s very exciting to follow and trust whatever arises—fast, slow, still, flowing, staccato, anything…it is an opening to the unknown within me.

This from our last class as I spent a good amount of time in contact with the wall:

not i
substance flowing melting molding shape-shifting
face wall body arm hand wall
one substance
solid moving receiving meeting holding reciprocating
not i

mystery–life and death

i’ve heard about the cycles of life and death so much that it doesn’t usually mean much to me.yes, things die and things get born and of course they’re related, but  what does this really mean? what does it mean to me?

now it’s spring and new life is coming in. i’m loving all the different greens. i’m thrilled to see plants that i planted coming up again, flowers, life bursting forth from the brown  earth. my sister’s new baby is one year old this week, a niece-in-law is two, new physical movement is coming to life in me, my relationship with dave continues to grow and deepen, and friendships grow richer…

and this spring i’m really aware of the death that’s here too. in the last month, 4 people in my acquaintance-circle dying, 3 more diagnosed with scary diseases, the death of my dear old doggy, my boss’s dog, my singing partner amy’s dog, and my brother gone missing again into his drug habit…the list seems to be never-ending. and it is, isn’t it? there will always be death…and life…

somehow the two are inexplicably tied together. contemplating this brings up a real sense of the unknown, the mystery, and with that a sense of no control. no control of whether these friends live or die, of whether i live or die…touching into the mystery in both the death and the new life. the mystery means letting go of familiar ways of knowing, of understanding, of being–of not knowing what else is here. accepting that i don’t know how life will be or even is.

Osho says: “Look for the mysterious in life. Wherever you look – in the white clouds, in the stars in the night, in the flowers, in a flowing river – wherever you look, look for the mystery. And whenever you find that a mystery is there, meditate on it. Meditation means: dissolve yourself before that mystery, annihilate yourself before that mystery, disperse yourself before that mystery. Be no more, and let the mystery be so total that you are absorbed in it. And suddenly a new door opens, a new perception is achieved.”

the mystery of new life springing from the earth, from humans, from poetry, music, art–i am open to this mystery. this has also been very true for me in my body exploration–i’ve had to let go of what i thought i knew about myself to enter into a deeper knowing, a more intimate listening and sensing. and it has been amazing and wonderful. it’s easier when  the mysterious is full of obvious beauty and wonder… how to be open to the mysteriousness of death, of loss, of grief, of fear? my mind immediately wants to make sense of it in some way, which is why i suppose i’m writing this…

right now, what i know is the preciousness of life. right now as i sit in my sweet cocoon of a room, with the rain and verdant green outside my window, as i email a friend, as i walk in my gardens feeling the earth under my barefeet, as i sing to a dying woman, as i speak with a dear one, as i hold my fiance’s hand…this life we live is such a gift. i’m sure there’s more for me to take in during this time of birth and death, but now, this is what I am most aware of—my gratitude for this moment of this life i am in.

as my unitarian pastors would say at the end of a sermon, “may it be so, blessed be, and amen.”

Teddy Bear: In Memoriam

This collage is a celebration of the life that Teddy and I spent together, as well as an honoring of his passing and acknowledgement of the many blessings and lessons that continue to unfold from sharing my life with him.

The pictures show what a member of the family he was—he is seen with both of the boys, with my parents, with Dave, with me, and on his own. It felt right to put images joined with words of me holding Teddy next to pictures of me and Dave—they are my two loves and I am lucky to have shared my life thus far with both of them. There are also scraps of bandanas pasted in—he would come home wearing them after being groomed—he’s wearing the same blue one in the pic with his dog tag.

The pastel drawing in the middle of the collage is something I drew about 3 weeks before his passing when he was bleeding from a wound he had scratched open and I just wanted to take care of him, but there wasn’t much I could do. It depicts me, with my coursing life force energy and body of compassion encircling him with love, care, concern, attention, compassion. In the end, I couldn’t save him—he was old and his death came inevitably, but this drawing attempts to show how much I wanted to give him the care and love that I could, to save him from suffering.

His passing has opened up new spaces for me—open, unknown space—time that in the past I spent taking care of him. The unknown, fertile darkness.

  • Questions. What is becoming ready to be born from this loss? Life force—what life force expression will now be freer to express, to experience?
  • New Type Seven Energy. Possibility, newness, options, freedom, choice, freedom to explore, to express, to experience. A lightness, a joy ready to arise.
  • Freedom from responsibility to Teddy. I loved him—I wanted to care for him and I felt constrained, restricted. Compassion, growth, newness, unknowness.
  • More Time. Now more attention can be turned inward to my experience, to the newness, the unknown that wants to arise in me—allowing that.
  • Owning more of myself. His warm, alive, soft, sweet body and spirit are gone. His earthly form, his physical shape of love. His embodiment of my inner child—happy, free, alive in the moment, awake, joyful, fresh.

It’s my turn now—to live my life, to embody and be this life force energy. Teddy isn’t here to live it for me. My turn to step up to the plate, to experience joy, freedom, to be alive!

One morning after his death, I sat on my little couch and cried and prayed this metta prayer:

May you be held in compassion
May your pain and sorrow be eased
May you be free

I told Teddy that we’d done our best to help him, and that now I would turn this metta toward myself, that he didn’t need to hang around and help me learn compassion and ease. I wanted him to be free…I promised I would reach out for support to Dave and friends, that I would miss him, but I’d be OK. I told him he’s welcome to stay around, but he doesn’t need to in order to help me. I want him to be free.

It’s time to take care of myself the way I took care of Teddy—with love, with compassion, with understanding, with kindness and gentleness and softness, without judgment. Time to turn the loving Two gaze of concern to myself. Teddy—the guardian of my Being—I need to be my own guardian of Being now and to take his lead to remember how. Tolle says: “Love is a deep empathy with the other’s Beingness.” We recognize our Being in the Being of another. We love the Creator through the creature. This was certainly true with Teddy Bear. Time to nurture and take care of my physical body, my needs, to own the body awareness and practices that I am doing as part of who I am… Now I have time.

Ways that I will take on the guardianship of my own Being that I learned from Teddy Bear—I will:

  • Allow my needs to guide me
  • Rest
  • Stroke, touch, massage myself
  • Stretch
  • Play
  • BE
  • Do body inquiry

As Rumi so beautifully penned, I feel grateful for Teddy Bear’s presence in my life, that “Together, we talk and laugh, incredulous, That we are so lucky as to be alive, At the same time, you and I.” And I miss his physical presence terribly, as Merwin says: “Your absence has gone through me, Like thread through a needle, Everything I do is stitched with its color.”

Practice Loving Kindness

Practice Loving Kindness

After completing my “practice-makes-perfect” motto collage, I realized I wanted to look for a turn-around. Even with the inner meaning of perfect = whole = complete, I felt that actually changing the words of what I am practicing is important. So, I started playing with changing the motto:

  • Practice makes perfect
  • Practice uncovers wholeness
  • Practices uncover wholeness
  • Practices welcome wholeness
  • Practices invite wholeness
  • Devotion to unfolding
  • Devotional practice
  • Practice devotion
  • Devotional life
  • Devotional living
  • Mindful living
  • Living mindfully
  • Mindful devotion
  • Practice Loving Kindness

As I landed on “Practice Loving Kindness,” I realized how related this is to the themes in my life these days. I am struggling with owning younger, more vulnerable parts of myself that I have split off in order to be “capable, competent Katy”—

  • the side of me that was impressionable, open, sweet, connected, innocent
  • the side that was full of energy, gusto, aliveness, joy, bounce, and verv.

This has affected very much how I tend to live in the world, not making enough time for rest, for play, for ease, for gentleness, for wildness…And how I am with the boys, especially the younger one, Evan. Because of my own disowned parts, I don’t have as much compassion for the parts of him that are like the young, wild, energetic me.

So, this collage turned out to be a tribute, an honoring of these young and vulnerable parts of myself—parts of me that are still here, but haven’t gotten as much air time. It includes photos of me on both sides, and moves from younger me to more adult me as you move toward the center. This collage reminds me that it is the practice of loving and being kind to these parts of myself that allows them to be in balance, joining in friendship, allowing me to be more embodied, more whole, more “perfect.”

The whole collage is in the shape of a heart with wings. I love this image—which for me symbolizes that the practice of loving and being kind is freeing—it opens the way for the heart to fly, for the body to be a prayer, for the mind to be open, not caged in self-images…

As Janne Eller-Isaacs, my Unitarian-Universalist minister said in a sermon: we want to be open to the invitation that life extends to each and every one of us to become more fully and responsibly human. I can’t be fully human without embracing both of these sides of myself. As I embrace, allow, and honor these parts of myself, I will be more loving and kinder not only with myself, but with others, which has to have a loving effect on the whole world!

my body home

i’m playing around these days with pastels. i signed up for the creative every day challenge, which isn’t so hard, if you consider all the ways we are creative during a day, but i wanted to push my envelope and try new ways. pastels are new. they’re fun, but i am still learning how to use them and what they’re good for…

i created this one while recovering at the journey inn on the theme of home and how a bit part of what i am learning in my life is how to allow my body to be my home. to do this has meant allowing compassion, loving kindness for myself. not judging my body, but listening to her, valuing and appreciating her.

how is your body your home? what do you do to create home in your body? how do you define home?

practice makes perfect?

i was encouraged to consider what my motto was in the Certified Vision Board Counselor course i’m taking and i found that this has been the motto of my life…but what does perfect mean?

in the past, practicing was mostly about fixing myself. i wasn’t good enough—i needed to practice to get better. i still do that, but i’m not defining my perfection based on outer ideals as much. i still want to improve, to be a better person, to gain and refine skills, but it’s more of a sense of perfection being wholeness.

i want to be a whole person and there are areas in my life that are in need of healing. in those areas, i practice to uncover the wholeness, the completeness, the perfection that is there, waiting to be revealed, inhabited, learned…it’s not based on someone else’s perfect body or skills, but on my life, my body, my innate perfection, allowing that to be uncovered, to arise, to unfold as Katy.

integrity = the state or quality of being that is complete (and unbroken). practice makes whole, practice uncovers integrity.

so, here’s my collage that explored this theme–the top border got a bit cut off because my printer isn’t quite wide enough…

i’m working on another collage now that is the turn-around for this motto: practice loving kindness. i’ll post it, too, once it’s done.

i’d be interested in what you are practicing…and what perfect means to you…

how do you play?

i’m reminded again of the need for play in my life. i get so serious and intent on working my practice, doing a good job at what i take on, that i forget the nourishment of and need for play and downtime.

my collages are definitely one form of play, and dancing…how do you play? i’d love to compile a list of suggestions! it sounds funny, but i’m so used to not-playing that i need to find a vocabulary for what play means, a list of things to look at and choose from when i can’t think of a thing except my list of things to do…

thanks for your exploration! i’ll post what i learn on facebook here, too…

walking the labyrinth for Haiti

my friend Rae posted on her blog this great idea to intentionally walk our prayers for the people of Haiti, in addition to giving what financial aid we can. she is calling on labyrinth walkers to join forces this weekend. we’re going on Diamond Approach retreat this weekend and if the labyrinth at the retreat center can be walked through the snow, i’m going to do that.

here’s a photo of the small labyrinth garden i started late this past summer, inspired by my friend steve carlson’s. i walked it most mornings until the snow fell. i look forward to seeing how it grows in this summer.