Monday, May 22, 2017

A poem about disappearing pots

On my January walks
bright Talavera plant pots
graced one end of the
Baja ceramics lot on Burnside
I promised myself
one, maybe two
when spring came,
imagining their blues and yellows
on my front porch
welcoming me home

Then March came
and the pots were gone
Every single one

On the second to the last day of April
I walked over to Burnside
spoke to the slacker on duty
--ignoring the oxymoron
He'd no idea what I was talking about

Had I dreamed them
to get me through the winter grays?

They're online, of course
But I wanted a live array
Dozens to touch before choosing
The one, maybe two
for my front porch

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The best question I'm asking myself

I was on retreat recently with women friends and as usual we talked about anything and everything. One of the members was headed out to find a quiet spot and make a difficult work-related phone call. I encouraged her, spur of the moment, to do whatever would increase her peace of mind. And in that moment, it struck me that that was the best question I could ask myself with every decision: Is this going to increase my peace of mind?

Is eating this going to increase my peace of mind?
Is accepting this invitation going to increase my peace of mind?
Is taking on this work project going to increase my peace of mind?
How can I handle this situation in a way that increases my peace of mind?

This is a valuable shift for me from "what do I want." Sometimes I do need to discern what I want before I can ask myself about peace of mind, but using this as a barometer for choice is proving so helpful for me.

How might asking this question ease your life?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My April poetry project

April is national poetry month and I decided this year to write 30 poems in April. I wanted to commit to writing a poem a day but I'm not rigid about that anymore and some days I wrote two or three. But it was a most satisfying experience.

I've learned to go into such a project with very low expectations, letting the doing of it be enough. So I don't commit to writing 30 great poems, just 30 poems. Here is one written at the beach.

I walked up the long gravel road
where rape is occuring six days a week
The entrance was gated
but I found my way around
and climbed the hill to an intersection
Some of the violence is old
the bones heaped high
branches akimbo
Higher up the wounded earth
is still soft, brown, raw

We hear the trucks in the house
if the windows are open
A low rumble
as they climb up empty
and come back down laden
with the toppled trees

I ache for the displaced
fox, coyote, bobcat
bird, mouse, beetle
I do not know who else
owns the land
but its inhabitants
were not offered a fair price

I apologize for my un-kind
but it seems as nothing
in the havoc we have wrought

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Poems and projects in general

I'm somebody who loves projects. Call me crazy but I like setting goals and achieving them. I like completion and checklists. I find this kind of structure really helpful for two things in my life: things I don't want to do and things I do want to do.

If I can make something I don't want to do into a project, like my taxes, I'm more likely to just get it done. I can break it into discrete tasks, make a checklist, and keep moving. This also works for some of my shoulds: floss more, stretch more, get to bed earlier. If I can commit to doing it each day for a month or two and see the visible results on a graph, I can form the habit.

Why would I need a project for things I want to do? Because some of the things I want to do, I never get around to. I think about them. I talk about them, but I don't seem to do them. Now I'm not going to make a project otu of a one-time thing, like calling an old friend. But I might make a project of calling an old friend every week. I might make a project of sending a thank-you card to someone I appreciate every day for two weeks. I might make a project of painting much more regularly. What a project helps add for me is a way to measure my fulfillment on my intention.

What might make a good project in your life?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The filter of application

I wrote some weeks ago about my epiphany around curiosity vs. judgment. How if we can stay in the former, we can stay out of the latter. I read a variation on this recently, a technique called a "filter of application." That rather than see things through the filter of judgment (good/bad, stupid/brilliant), that we can see everything through a filter of application: How can I use this to get what I want, to get where I want to go?

I'm finding this particularly useful when I listen to other people talk about what they're doing and how they're doing it. I used to just listen politely. I was interested in them, especially if they were close to me, and how they were doing, but I wasn't listening for what I could learn, for what I could use. Now I'm seeing opportunities for learning everywhere, and it's helping me give up the stance that I have to figure it all out for myself. 




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My idea of fun doesn't have to be everybody else's idea of fun

I did another proprioceptive writing session this month with my good friend Sue and out of it came an amazing revelation to me. I've always been annoyed when people tell me that I need to have more fun. This started when I was a kid. My mother would tell me to go out and have fun with the other kids. But what they were doing was never very fun for me, never very interesting. I was much happier reading, writing stories, forcing my sisters to be students in my make-believe classroom.

And as the years have gone by, I have continued to not find what most other people think of as fun as, well, fun. I'm bored lying on a beach or by the pool. I was bored sitting around drinking even though I was an alcoholic. Drinking or getting stoned wasn't fun. It just felt tedious. Parties with small talk weren't fun.

I now understand why. Fun for me is being engaged and stimulated. I like learning things. That's fun. I like exploring ideas. That's fun. I like acquiring new skills. I like deep conversations that are about solving problems. I like workshops and creative retreats.

I was a serious kid (with a great sense of humor) and I'm a serious adult (with that same sense of humor), and I'm finally okay with that. What a relief!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Self-medicating with busyness

In talking with my coach this week, I had a big insight. I've always sort of known that I'm addicted to overworking. I like feeling productive (it's a reliable positive feeling for me) and I like being needed by my clients and doing them a good service with my editing and coaching. It's a win/win.

But over the years as my interests have broadened out, especially in the creative direction of writing and painting, this overworking habit is not serving me so well because I'm just trying to cram more in and feeling more and more stressed about it. I've set up blog commitments and writing commitments and painting commitments and work commitments and social commitments that leave me pretty ragged.

And what I saw Monday was not only is overworking a well-entrenched habit, it is a form of self-medicating. And oddly, a kind of preemptive self-medicating. I overwork not only to get the good feelings of productivity and being useful. I overwork to prevent boredom, restlessness, and any other uncomfortable feelings. In a way, this isn't a bad thing. I don't want to be bored or restless or sad or unhappy. But at the same time, I don't let those feelings come up and move through me. I'm numbing them out with work and commitments.

I don't think I'm the only one who does this, the only one who's nervous about downtime and what might show up. I do know that I don't want to be self-medicating in any way. I want to be fully in my life however that appears. So change is needed.