Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Apropos of school shootings, homelessness, and other social illnesses

"Not fixing what's broken--that's a conscious and deliberate choice. It's a choice to be cruel."

Carol Zoref, Barren Island

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Failed Starts

Eighteen or maybe twenty
small pots on the hearth
The brown of the dirt
the same as the shadows
on this cloudy February day
Failed starts, she said
and I did not ask
if onions or herbs
flowers or food
For it should not matter
what doesn't work
in our lives
And yet more often
a life is defined
by the claims
that don't pan out
the investments
in love
that don't ripen
that don't yield
the hoped-for return
than it is
by the sweet successes

Friday, February 16, 2018

Changing my schedule, changing my conditioning

As I move towards working less (I work now about half-time), I've bumping up against some very old conditioning: do your homework before you play. This was a rule in my house growing up. We came home, got a snack, and settled in to our homework (and chores) and then if there was time left over, we could play or read or do whatever we liked. I was a kid who enjoyed learning and who enjoyed studying so this was not a hardship for me. And it served me well with my parents, with my teachers, with my professors in college. It also has served me well in my various careers and is undoubtedly a big part of the success I've had.

But now it's a habit that doesn't serve me so well. It shows up in the driving need to complete any and all paid work before I can paint. So I spend my mornings and early afternoons "in the office" and then have no creative energy left. In fact, my best studio time is early morning when I'm freshest. This is something I've been trying to change for years, and this is the year I intend to break that old conditioning and create a new conditioning that serves me better.

With the help of my great life coach, I'm starting a new schedule in which I have play time between 9 and 11:30 every weekday morning. I can do anything I want except paid work during that time. I'm excited about this possibility, of increasing my comfort with free time, and seeing what can arise in the studio.

What old conditioning are you considering letting go of?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Aligning my life further with spaciousness

In developing my spaciousness practice last year, I started with just putting some space between items in my day. When I came back from running errands, I'd take my time settling in to the next task on my list. When I finished a work project, I'd take a break instead of just moving on to the next. It took a while to really embrace this change as I am very efficient by nature, and I had to get over the idea that I was wasting time.

The next thing I tackled was saying yes to too many activities. I live alone and work at home and I'm reluctant to forego opportunities to connect with friends and acquaintances. A second complication is that my friends have very busy lives so we tend to make plans several weeks in advance, but that doesn't always mesh well with my freelance work, which comes in erratic batches. I can have a ton of work for 2-4 weeks and then nothing much for a month. So I needed to keep things looser, ask for flexibility, and not plan too much.

Now I'm looking for ways to expand the spaciousness. My challenges now are to lower my expectations of myself (I'm a productivity junkie) and get comfortable with free time. Those of you who are already comfortable with free time are probably laughing, but for me it's going to be a big shift. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What I'm asking myself these days

I've written before about Grid Diary, an app that encourages daily reflection. What's cool about it is the ability to change the questions and to easily share them by email. I've been sharing them for a couple of years with two good friends. It's lovely to have my day witnessed like that.

These are the questions I'm responding to every night now:

What gave me satisfaction?
What gave me peace?
What gave me pleasure?
What gave me joy?
What gave me connection?

These are the things that I want to focus on in my day so I watch for something to report.

What questions would you answer?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

First poem of the year

The first brave blossoms
have dabbed their pinkness
on the fingers of an old cherry
although January has just
reached the half-way mark
and the big-bodied plane trees
in the park
slumber on
last year's leaves
moldering beneath them
on their way back to Source

An ancient chinese hazel
is waking up too
tiny chartreuse fronds
uncurling along its arms

I walked up to the park
for the miles
and got a tiny taste
of spring
for my trouble.