Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My earnest 11-year-old self

Among the many things I found in culling all my stuff was the following set of New Year's resolutions written on December 31, 1958. I had just turned 11. Already into fixing myself. Makes me very sad for that child in me. 

Curiously, it's written on the back of a blank check for a company my father had owned several years before. I must have liked the green paper and the size.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Poem #139

I have a new relationship
Not with a man
Or a cat
But with my stuff
Like many of my old relationships
It was excessive
Out of control
And yes, I'll say it
More books than I could read
More clothes than I could wear
My past of sad memories
A weight in the basement

I've never been a hoarder, mind you
I've pitched and purged with glee
But then bought more
I never took the time
To home what I had
To find that place for everything
And now I have

I have a new relationship
with my stuff
Not just tidy
But peaceful

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Love this quote

With the word "creative" we stand under a mystery. And from time to time that mystery, as if it were a sun, sends down upon one head or another, a sudden shaft of light -- by grace, one feels, rather than deserving, for it always is something given, free, unsought, unexpected.
Pamela Travers

Thursday, April 23, 2015

bikes and childhood

I got pretty depressed yesterday reading about the ocean. The dying off of sardines, which will be devastating for lots of other species, the dying dolphins with radiated lungs from Fukashima, the starving seal pups. I needed the gratitude of the beautiful spring day we were having and so I walked down to my studio and back. The air was cool and I passed lilacs and other fragrant flowers, the trees were leafing out, and I could step briefly into joy and gratitude.

About three blocks from my house, 4th-graders from the school one street over were practicing bike safety. They were helmeted and lined up on bikes and learning to signal, turn, stop safely in the street. There was a lot of joy in their faces. They were as glad to be outside as I was. And I thought about how these kids are having what we think of as a normal childhood and I wondered if they will be the last generation to have this kind of early stability. And I was glad they were so in the moment and not having the kind of adult thoughts I was having.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A follow-up on KonMarie tidying up

Some of you know I've been using Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in which she encourages us to go through everything we love from the perspective of joy. Does this item spark joy? Because 1/2  to 2/3 of what we have doesn't, we get rid of it and end up with a much more spacious home with plenty of room for everything to get stored.

I have 16 shelves for books, 5 of them are now free for something else. I had a jammed closet and dresser and trunk of clothing. They're now about 1/2 full. I had a two drawer filing cabinet of papers. Only one drawer has papers now and it's half-full. I got rid of 2 big bags of clothing, 9 bags of books, and so far 9 books of miscellaneous whatever. When I repapered my bathroom and kitchen shelves and drawers in February, I sorted things out but not from joy and I now I'm going back through them with a the joy litmus test.

Of course, there's the basement storage unit and the studio left to do, but my place feels amazing and since everything has a spacious space to live in, it's so easy to put things away. Her book is also a lot of fun.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A nice reminder

I started a new journal recently and I found this on the fly leaf. I hadn't read the whole thing in a long time although all of it is familiar to me. Enjoy!

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata".[

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poem #100

We sat outside
even thought the chill was strong
Ordered guacamole
and hot corn tortillas

The woman, small, round
formed a ball of masa
from a huge bowl
then placed it in a wooden contraption
two heavy pieces to close
The tortilla she placed
on the hot iron wheel
was perfect
It took a few minutes
to make each one
She kept a practiced eye on the wheel
turning the yellow discs
putting them on a plate
forming a ball of masa
putting it in the contraption
closing the wooden arms
leaning her weight on them
over and over
Eight hours? More?
What does she think about
this tortilla woman?
does her back ache?
do her feet hurt?
All of us white people she smiles at
the money to buy the expensive meals

We left a big tip
Hoping she would get some of it

Sunday, April 12, 2015

90 wants

At the first Money Course weekend workshop in February, author Jack Canfield was one of the presenters. I've never been a big Chicken Soup for the Soul fan. A bit too sentimental for this aging recovering cynic. But he was a dynamic presenter with a lot of good ideas and I decided to get and read his book, Success Principles

One of his exercises has struck me as an intriguing challenge: writing a list of 90 wants. Thirty things you want to have, thirty things you want to do, thirty things you want to be. And then he helps you move toward them. He also encourages us to make the list in a fairly short period of time. dave ellis in his work also encourages a lot of wanting so that you are clear about what's important to you. So I'm going to take this on. 

What 90 things would make your list? 

Friday, April 10, 2015

A quote that resonates with me

Of all the ways to avoid living, perfect discipline is the most admired. 
--James Richardson

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Poem #102

I have too much stuff
I can see it as I sit here
Stacks here and there
Some temporary
Some just careless 
No time, no energy
To straighten and rehome
I don't seem to see
The clutter at night
It is what it is
But with the fresh eye
Of morning
I want the room clear
Spacious, open
Just like I want my day

Monday, April 6, 2015

Prayers for Rose

Last Sunday I spoke at an AA meeting. On the last Sunday of the month, they ask an old-timer in the program to come and tell their story. After 25 years, I know I qualify as an old-timer but it's still a little odd to think of myself that way. So I went and I told some of my story: how drinking took over my life, leaving me next to nothing; how I found the way out through AA and writing and painting, how magical I find the program and how that magic is available to all of us. 

After the meeting, a young woman came up to me. Her name was Rose and her boyfriend had just left her because she was drinking again. She'd been coming to AA for three years, at one time had 70 days, but now was drinking most days. We talked a long time, I agreed to sponsor her, we made plans to talk on the phone. 

Monday morning she texted me her number, asked what time she could call me. And I haven't heard from him since. My heart breaks for her and it takes me back to those days, weeks, months, years, when I couldn't stop. I was lucky to find AA, to keep going back, to let alcohol go. I'm holding Rose in my heart. If you pray, please send one up for her too.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gearing up to be amazon-free in April

The Money Course asks us to be conscious spenders. In fact, the first big assignment is to look at our spending for the last year in detail, month by month. Where does it all go? The other members of my small group talked about how daunting this task is and I could agree. It was for me last year. This year I already know where my big expenditures are (beyond fixed costs of rent, etc.).

One of the biggest sinkholes for me is amazon. And if we spend at different levels of maturity, I'm a toddler on amazon. I want it and I want it now. Getting Prime with free delivery has just exacerbated that for me. So in a bold move, I am making April an amazon-free month. No purchases. None. 

My plan is to keep track of what I want, what my urges are, and how much I would have spent. This will give me some good information about what's going on and to connect with my impulses and override them. When one of the members of the small group heard this, she committed to joining me. Anybody else game to play? 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Poem #83

I left the door to the patio
open during meditation
55 degrees this morning
after a blessedly rainy night

The fresh air
damp and cool
washes over me
As I follow my breath
damp and cool
as it washes into me

It's Saturday 
and two long freights
go by
just south of Division
Everybody loves the sound 
of a train in the distance 
I breathe its low throaty whistle
let it wash over me
In its wake
the whoosh of traffic
the jangle of chimes in the wind
the small persistent crunch
of Sammy at his bowl

The sounds of the moment
This precious moment