Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Words to Live By

What Matters Most

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me whom you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

........ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What the heck are we doing here¿?

"What if the moments of the greatest wounding in your life were also places where the Divine crossed your path and the unquenchable dream of your life was born?"

There is nothing that drives the human mind more than what is called an incomplete gestalt--an unmet need for closure of some kind. Imagine seeing a pad of paper lying near you with nothing drawn on the page but an incomplete circle. Imagine hearing just this much of the song: "Somewhere over the.."

Dawna Markova says in her book "I Will not Die an Unlived Life" under "Let our wounds become our teachers": if your purpose is only about you, it has no branches. If it is only about the rest of the world, it has no roots. Learning that the moment when our essential needs were not met in some very basic way, holds the possibility to unfold our gifts. Wouldn't it be a good joke if the worst that has happened to us holds the possibility of bringing the best in us to the world?"

Its always easy to look back twenty years or more, and say "Ahhh yes, this situation turned me in this direction and look how well that turned out", or "if this or that had not happened I would not have done such and such". But I believe it's not how well our life turns out, or even what direction we are moving but rather, what is our purpose? Do we even have one other than to exist day to day? putting one foot in front of the other. Surviving one ordeal after another. Going to our jobs, tending to the daily routines that we all have. This is not to say we all have mundane existences, but is it fair to say that the job of life becomes mundane when it offers no purpose, or passion that ultimately leads to some greater purpose other than to exist?

Or perhaps I am just trying to find some greater purpose for my own existence than just "existing", as a mother, as an artist, as a person who has many interests and passions that I love to explore? What do I contribute to the world? What am I giving back? How are my choices, and actions either contributing or contaminating the global perspective of the universe? Or do my actions and thoughts, collectively, culminate in some greater good? Is it even important? Who judges us? Or do we judge ourselves?

Maybe I am just a worry-wart who also happens to be a bit of a hedonist but wants to do the right thing all the time, someone who believes that existing for the sake of existing is not enough. Life is full of fun and beautiful things to enjoy so why go through life feeling bad? and doing things that make us feel bad are not fun! They take the fun OUT of life for me.

Once a free-bird always a free-bird. Seeking my purpose? Where am I going and what do I want to accomplish - or give back - to the world? Is being a good mother enough? What about my art? Does it have a purpose? Does it even
need a purpose? I exist - I create - therefore I am?

Its not my job to tell other people what they should or should not be responsible for, but I do believe that it should be required of each individual by themselves...not anyone look within, discover what truly has meaning in your life and pursue it with passion.

I have thought many times that perhaps "my purpose" should be guided to help others, because I am a mother to a child with a disability and a sister to a child with a disability. I have been "touched" by this ability to be compassionate and involved without feeling like a victim but also to be an activator, one who could motivate others. But as a Reiki healer and massage therapist, even though I am able to use this to help others, I found working with the disabled too close to home. It is all just a little too overwhelming. But as an artist, I find my passion and solace. Art is a creative act, not necessarily requiring any compassion and in fact it is a totally selfish pleasure. I derive so much peace in the creative activity of making things that the challenge is to create something that also tells a story, makes a point, or in a subtle way, targets a feeling in someone that words would not do. Thus allowing the art to be a catalyst for change. Its a
challenge only because that part of it is guided by intent, rather than intuition, and as a free-spirited, intuitive artist, one resists creating "on purpose", which is why I chose early on not to become a commercial artist. I believe creating
art for "sales" or "market driven art" is not conducive to intuitive creativity. But I believe it is possible to have a motive
for your art creations, or purpose if you will, as the driving force behind what you create therefore allowing that force to direct your outcome.

To be more goal oriented, in other words,to have an underlying agenda for my art, just as I seek to find more purpose in my own life is not required, but to me it is important. Is it necessary that my creations, whether it be paintings or sculptures, support some common "community" interest? I'm not sure, and I'm not sure how my own ideas will manifest in the future, but it is my intention, or, my current vision in the making. Making a difference somehow, for a cause, is a goal and a challenge that I believe I am up to. Being a victim and waiting for life to happen to me has never been in my vocabulary and I will not allow myself to do less than what I know I am capable of. Dream big! Believe in impossibilities!

Hopefully, by posting my intention to pursue this goal as the next chapter of my artistic journey, I can set something in motion. Surely nothing happens without action or intention. Inertia has been trying to creep into me for the past several months, but I resist with every day's intention to move, walk, write and think. I am familiar with this from past times in my life, we resist change, we resist doing things that we know are often challenging and difficult because they are in an unknown field of energy. But just intending our new goals, is enough to drive out the indecision, the doubts and start "doing"....

Keeping on!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

On Family, Principles and the United States

"Everyone in such a hurry-going somewhere too fast.
Life passes by in a blur. Did you even notice the
beautiful painting God's angels placed in the sky
over there by the Moon? for us to ponder?
if only for a fleeting moment. Nature waits for
no one.

If only we would
take the time to notice"

"A Letter to my kids"
This letter was originally written on 10/01/01, not too long after the 911 disaster in New York and seven months after the passing of my Father. I was living in Upstate NY at the time, and the subject of patriotism was on the lips of almost every person I saw. It occurred to me that I had never really thought much about affirming my patriotism in writing, but I knew I had very deep seated feelings about it, so decided to write this letter to my two youngest children in California. Somehow it got buried in my file of various writings, only to be uncovered recently and revised. After reading it I felt it was still somewhat timely and have decided to post it. Feel free to comment.

"My Thoughts on Family, Principles and the United States"

I think all of this talk of peace and allegiance to the country and to each other (i.e. meaning total strangers) does no one any good unless it is also extended to our closest neighbors, our brothers and sisters and to our children and parents who also have pain and suffering. For the core of this country was built on the strength of the family and community bonding.

My grandparents came to this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs, their two hands and the principles embedded within them from their parents, and they succeeded in helping to the best of their ability, to build one of the greatest countries in the world, because they believed to the core, that this WAS the greatest country in the world. A country they were willing to die for, to become a citizen of, and they did not object to flying the American Flag proudly or saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the country, under God, indivisible, as did my generation every morning in school before we did anything else. Giving thanks for our country and freedoms was not such a bad thing to do. Showing gratitude opens the door for more grace I believe. Maybe our country could use more of that these days.

I have witnessed the decline of patriotism in this country for many years and often wondered where it would lead. Apparently, to a generation of children who have not been taught what they have. To a generation of youngsters and people who have simply known NO other way of life, and tend to take it all for granted, through no fault of their own, and many who have no relatives who had to fight for their freedom.

Many of our grandfathers died in the mines while building this country, like my own grandfather, or in work camps, but they did so because they wanted a better life for their children and grandchildren than what they had in their countries, and willingly gave their life's blood to build this country. During World War II their sons fought by the thousands and died or came home wounded, to protect our freedom, so their children would have a better life than they had. Then there was Korea, and Viet Nam. Each in the name of "freedom". Every parent in America wants a better life for their children than they have but it does not work unless they also teach the children how precious their easily inherited freedoms are. Then there is the debate about what constitutes a "better life".

Those who came here before us did not have electric toasters, televisions and computers and John Deere Tractors. They built this country with savage skills and bare energy, brute force and the basic elements of this Earth. What they did have was more valuable than electric appliances and computers, what they brought with them was what makes America so untouchable.

It was their internal courage and strength of character and simple faith, belief in themselves, their creativity, and hope for a greater tomorrow; something that cannot be bought, it cannot be bartered, and it cannot be rubbed off from your friends. If you have it, it is because you have learned or inherited it from your parents and their parents or you learned it from truly believing in your SELF and never giving up on your dreams. If you do NOT have these basic strengths of character, you have either not been taught it or you have forgotten it.

True character and belief in oneself cannot be won or earned by fighting more wars, being hostile to our perceived enemies and through more killing. Character is built by being true to his or her highest principles and beliefs at all times. Are these values that are still looked up to in this country or put down?

I believe, like my parents believed, that one must be willing to give him or herself totally in submission to your core belief's whatever they are, and not be afraid of being swallowed up in that submission. By doing so you may be giving to others, but you are also giving to yourself. When you stand for your beliefs you make a stand for all in the name of that belief. Good can only come of it in the end. Too many people just don't know what they believe, and constantly look outside themselves for validation.

We all fight internal wars each and every day. How we choose to fight and how we choose to BE is the important thing. The man or woman should be equal to or greater than the battle or the battle will win. How does one fight the emotional battle? You can't. You will always loose because the emotional battle is within and WITH your SELF. Sometimes, dealing with emotional battles can only be won by being alone. It is then, you learn to confront and know the self, understand the weaknesses and forgive them. You also learn your strengths. You are judged by no one, and you have only yourself to live up to. That can be a very enlightening experience or it can be a frightening experience. Some of us need that from time to time to regain inner strength, balance and courage; things which we may have temporarily forgotten.

We must be willing to die for our beliefs (not literally) but that they SO become who we are-and we become them (our principles and beliefs) that no one can take them away from us. What dies in us are the false beliefs.

If we believe in freedom and truth, dignity and honesty, charity and good will-all these things become part of who we are, our inner nature, and we become one with these values as we practice them. When we know ourselves, its not so easy for others to convince us otherwise.

Why is there so much contradiction in the world today? because many people in this country do not really know who they are and what they stand for. They seem to need someone or some THING to tell them how they should feel and think (people like the news media or advertisements on TV and tabloid magazines). They have forgotten what it feels like to
have a tear roll down their cheek as they say the Pledge of Allegiance and watch the flag as it flies proudly against the sky, remembering a deceased parent who died and fought in the War, or to sing the words of "America the Beautiful". In other words, to really feel a connection to "our" country, the land which represents our freedom to really be all that we can be. A free country founded on honest values by people who were not perfect but who had a vision of perfection, designed so each person could could have the freedome to obtain their highest goals without interference from the Government and to live without fear of other countries attack on us. A nation undivided in that mission. A beautiful country that I personally travelled back and forth over many times, felt the earth, walked on Glaciers in Alaska, pitched stones in the waters of Lake Superior, wandered the beaches of California and Florida, and froze in the snow of Upstate New York. Is it possible to live here your entire life and know how much human blood has been shed on our soil in the name of justice, freedom, truth and love and NOT feel connected? I think not.

I am saddened to think now, that our way of life as we know it, no matter how many wars we get involved in, cannot be protected just by loving our country and being a loyal and good citizen. Our liberties - justly won, for a nation that has flourished because of its freedom, is now at risk of losing those liberties for the sake of security and the beliefs of a very negative element in our country at this time. A great man once said that "a country that is so willing to give up its liberties to gain security deserves neither"....This makes one think twice about what is happening today. We must always be mindful of just what it is that we are yielding TO. Never become so complacent that we lose our ability to see the truth no matter how cleverly it is disguised.

Lovingly and proudly a third generation American.