Praying through Lent 8: (James 5: 7-11)

Praying through Lent 7: (Habakkuk 2:1-3)

A Lenten adventure

Two things inspire me today: yesterday's adventures -- including both the photography and the exposure to new art -- and the book our parish priest has recommended for us to share during Lent (which starts tomorrow, by the way -- are you doing anything for Fat Tuesday?)

The book, by Rachel Hackenberg, is entitled Writing to God: 40 days of Praying with my Pen, and it's set up so that each day there's a poem, a Bible reading, and an invitation to prayer.  Tomorrow I will begin walking through Lent with it, and creating some conscious collages to walk with me.  Maybe I'll even write my prayers on them?

No guarantees you'll want to come along with me on this journey, but I've decided this will be my discipline for Lent.  It's always an adventure, but I'm thinking this time could be really fun...

Take yourself on an art date!

I woke up empty this morning.  I did all the usual stuff -- coffee, reading, even a nice long meditation (though I confess I spent much of the time musing on the various elements of last night's concluding episode of Downton Abbey!)

But when I sat down at the computer, I couldn't find an image I wanted to post, and I couldn't create one, either.  So I decided it was time to get out of the house.  Fortunately no one needed my car today, so I took myself to beautiful Port Townsend -- always a great pick-me-up. 

I drove by what looked like an intriguing art store, thinking I might stop there on the way back out of town, but after a block or two I decided to go back and check it out; it was fabulous, and huge; filled with everything an aching artist could ever want to try or play with.  So I bought a book about collage (not for the technique, but for all the inspiring examples) and a 6 x 12 artist panel to play with.

Next I stopped at the boat yard and found this heart-stoppingly beautiful hull in the process of being overhauled.  These colors are unretouched; aren't they absolutely GORGEOUS?  I'll be playing with this theme for a few days, I suspect...  I also visited a couple of favorite clothing stores and a gallery, and then headed home feeling just full of color and light; it was just the break I needed on a gray winter day!

I came home to find a reminder that there are two play contests running right now for 10 minute plays, so I've decided to try my hand at playwriting again, just for the heck of it.  That's how much my tank is overflowing from this little excursion!

So the lesson for today is this: if you're feeling a little empty and jaded, follow Julia Cameron's advice in the Artist's Way: take yourself on an art date -- you'll be glad you did!

Critic vs. judge

I know this should be perfectly obvious, but this morning in Trust the Process I have been reading about the difference between your inner critic and your judge.

The critic is that invaluable voice that's always speaking during the creative process: Try this.  What about this?  No, those proportions are off.  Hmm, don't like that color so much.  What if?  The critic is cooperating with us, working with us to arrive at a more satisfying product.

The judge, however, is always undermining: Oh, God, what were you thinking to try THAT?  This sucks.  You really have no clue how to do this, do you?  This is so amateurish. You'll never amount to anything...

I wonder if those of us who run into difficulties distinguishing between those two voices internally might also have trouble distinguishing between them externally as well?  Or maybe it's just that in certain areas where we are feeling particularly sensitive and insecure the distinction between the two voices gets muddied?

I had an experience this week where something I wrote was challenged and rewritten, and some part of me got very huffy and felt judged.  So I sat with that feeling a bit, did my best to see what part of me was feeling so sensitive, and then found another stronger, calmer, more rational voice to speak on her behalf. 

When the response came, it was so eminently reasonable that my rational voice was able to explain it to the huffy part, and all those fight or flight feelings completely subsided -- no, more than subsided.  Washed away, with this purifying sense of absolute clarity and wonder, as if angels had come along and lifted me right out of that ugly net of judgement and blame.  You know that net -- the one that has a way of spreading to encompass not just you but everyone around you?

And so, in the end, what had felt like judgment became joy; an opportunity for self-examination and release.  And now, as I read over what I've just written, I see it's been influenced, not just by what I've been reading in Trust the Process, but by the other book I'm reading right now, A Fatal Grace, the second in a series of mysteries by Canadian author Louise Penny. 

The hero of Penny's books is a police inspector named Gamache, a wise and thoughtful man whose advice to his underlings is always about not jumping to conclusions, being willing to admit you are wrong; that you don't know the answer -- and always to listen.  Gamache, Penny says, "was the best of them, the smartest and bravest and strongest because he was willing to go into his own head alone, and open all the doors there, and enter all the dark rooms.  And make friends with what he found there.  And he went into the dark, hidden rooms in the minds of others.  The minds of killers.  And he faced down whatever monsters came at him." 

The books are marvelously written, with a gentle dusting of faith, poetry, and art, including (in this one) an artist whose every painting is inspired by those wonderful lines from Leonard Cohen -- "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."

How can we not be inspired by an author who encourages us to face our demons?  I can't wait to read the next book in the series...

Trusting the creative process

The truly lovely -- although perhaps distracting -- thing about being a photographer in the midst of creative turbulence (what on earth shall I do next?) is that nature keeps providing images that require little or no artistic endeavor to be satisfying.

I shot this one from my living room window on a snowy day; you can see reflections of the snowy bank on the opposite side of the house mingling with the birds and water I was actually shooting.  And doesn't the log itself look like some sort of giant fish?

It seems to me to be a reminder that we need to learn to trust that whatever spirit it is that we were born to manifest will shine through us even when we don't feel we're contributing much to the process.  Shaun McNiff, in Trust the Process, has some wonderful thoughts to share for times of creative frustration:

In my painting studios I constantly see people going through extended periods when nothing seems right.  It can be excruciating, like being forsaken in torment.  But I have learned that there is always a purpose working its way through the difficulties.  Invariably, the blockage generates a new dimension of expression if we can stay with the process.  I try to let the bad days go while accepting their place in my expression.  The creative process knows the way, and I have to trust that it will take me and my environment where we need to go.

...Giving up is also part of the process.  Surrendering. Quitting the chase. There comes a time when I have to accept the inevitable and let go.

...Even after our most successful creations there is the challenge of the next one.  We don't realize how the most successful artists may suffer more than we realize in relation to expectations about what will come next.  They might fear that the gift is gone, that the muse has deserted them, that the inspiration will not be there when they return to the studio.  They are typically never satisfied with yesterday's success.

...As you practice the creative process in any discipline, try to remember that disappointments are inevitable.  They are major elements of the process which somehow contribute to the overall energetics of creative expression.  There has to be an interplay between highs and lows if we are to access the most transformative chemistry of creation.

Dancing in the flow

I'm reading still in Trust the Process; trying to get a handle on the importance of approaching work as a child might approach it -- with an adventurous, exploratory spirit; open, not too caught up in the details, more dancing in the flow.  And I'm thinking -- since I referred to Joyce Wycoff's blog yesterday -- that her poem describes this beautifully, and better than I could explain in prose:

Life Purpose
The child walks 
toward passion
as naturally 
as she reaches toward 
a bright toy.
Wherever she looks, 
a world of joy beckons.
No thought of “should”
 or “ought” enters her head.
She just points herself 
in the direction of 
the bright beloved
and puts one foot 
in front of the other,
Moving, totally focused.
She doesn’t stop
to ask for it.
She doesn’t worry about
whether or not
it’s the right it.
She doesn’t stop to 
consider the possible responses.
She feels no fear;
she hears only
the siren call
of her one true joy.
Oh, that I felt
that clarity,
that ability
to feel passion
For every cloud 
and dust mote,
every shiny bauble
and every glittering face,
Rather than searching
high and low
for that one
right calling
That one
all-fulfilling wish,
that one bright island,
when life is a sea 
of perfect possibilities.

Living the questions

My blogsister Joyce has a way of wandering down the same paths I travel, and after writing yesterday's post I found this quote in a post of hers a couple of days back. 
It's from Rainer Maria Rilke, and is a perfect response to yesterday's concerns -- as well as a reminder to slow down a bit as we start moving into Lent...
"I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear friend, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books written in a very foreign tongue. 
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  
Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
On a related note -- I received official confirmation today that the bishop for whom I worked when I was the communications director for this diocese has been suspended from ministry for 10 years “as a result of allegations of facts that would constitute one or more breaches of Standards of Conduct.”  Though I knew the news was coming, I find I am deeply saddened -- not just for him, or his family, or the church, or any individuals his actions may have harmed -- but also (quite selfishly) because I thought at the time that that was the job I had been born to do, and I was terribly sad to leave it.  So reading of his suspension takes me back into that space -- both the memory of the sense of completion I felt while doing the work and the memory of the frustration and helplessness I felt when things began to go awry. 

It was the one job I've ever had which perfectly matched my skills, education, experience and inclination. Choosing to leave was one of the hardest things I've done -- and I felt awash in a sense of failure for years afterward.  But in talking with my husband about this -- he has a similar experience in his own working past -- he pointed out that had it not been for my departure, I might never have had the chance to live in the islands and raise my children there; might never have found my voice as a singer and actress, might never have become a photographer, might never have come to know and love Centering Prayer, Cynthia Bourgeault and Lynn Bauman... and all of you, and my blogsisters.

So much of what gives my life value and meaning now came into my life as a result of that loss, just as my beloved husband and daughters could only come into my life after the loss of my first marriage.  Maybe it's time to let go of the idea that there was something I was born to do; that I ought to have figured out what that is and be doing it.  Perhaps it was never about what we were born to do but about what we get to do? Or maybe it's just that this is not a time in my life when I'm meant to be giving back, but simply to accept and receive?

I guess those are the questions I'm living today...

Lent is on its way

Life is slowly drifting back to normal after last week's complexities.  I'm not quite back on a normal sleep schedule, but our daughter is home, I no longer have rehearsals every night (though there will be three performances again this weekend), all the cars are out of the shop, there's no talk to prepare for, my print has been mailed off to the Women's Works 2012 exhibit in Illinois,  and Valentine's Day is over.

Which means my meditation time this morning was much less distracted, though not quite as calm and serene as this photo.  And while some part of me breathes in that calm with great delight and a sense of relief, another part of me is clamoring -- so NOW what will you do "with your one wild and precious life?"

I love that that question of Mary Oliver's has a way of echoing through us, sending ripples of anticipation, awareness of possibility into our bones.  But some days I wish it didn't leave me with this sense of "not enough;" of not being enough, or doing enough; of not becoming what I'm meant to become.

This might just be the natural aftermath of all that crazy busy-ness of last week.  But I know how much I enjoyed giving that workshop (maybe I'll see if I can create a you-tube of it; it was really fun!) and encouraging people's creativity.  It was wonderful to watch the audience get excited about possibilities: I'd love to do more of that.  But I'm not interested in giving "How-to" presentations -- I don't consider myself a Photoshop expert, and I can't quite see myself in a classroom full of people with laptops.

Gestation time; that liminal space between what was and what's to come.  It hits every year about this time, a sure sign that Lent is on its way.  You'd think, after all these years, I'd have learned to trust that something will bloom on the other side....

What you really love

These balloons drifted up onto our beach a few days ago, and though I suspect they were from a child's birthday party, they seem an appropriate greeting for a Valentine's Day post.

I get that Valentine's Day is supposed to be an exciting opportunity to express love for our dear ones, but so often this image seems closer to the truth -- our inflated dreams of love so often wither with time and the pressure of reality.

Perhaps that's because the day becomes -- like Christmas -- all tangled up with expectations for what we hope to get rather than what we long to give?  I hesitate to go down that road, though, because it seems more like an accusation designed to make us feel guilty for longing.

Perhaps instead we should look behind the longing: what is it we really wish for?  What is that pull to completion that propels our hunger for love?  While looking for thoughts on love yesterday, I found this lovely Rumi quote that seems to cut to the heart of this tension:

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull
of what you really love.

So that's something to dream about today as you find yourself surrounded by thoughts of pink, and sweets, and hearts and flowers -- what is it you really love?

The Body a Tree

The body a tree,
God a wind.
When He moves me
like this, like this,

angels bump heads with each other
gathering beneath my cheeks,

holding their wine barrels,
catching the brilliant tear,
pearl rain.

Love, a tree.  
When it moves us like this,
How can our soul's limbs not touch?

Hafiz -- A Year with Hafiz

Door to the Divine

Where is the Door?

Where is the door to God?
In the sound of a barking dog.

In the ring of a hammer, 
in a drop of rain, 
in the face of everyone,
everyone I see.

Where is the door 
to the divine tavern? 
Yes, in all we can behold.

-- Hafiz, A Year with Hafiz

Collective visions

This first photo is the headshot of me that's posted in the lobby of the theater for our production of Clare Booth Luce's delicious 30's play, The Women, which opened last night to a full house and much acclaim.  (I have to say -- we were REALLY funny!)

Clearly some massive airbrushing has occurred, because the second photo is a far more accurate rendition of what my skin looked like to me in the mirror, just before I began removing my makeup.  Ugh -- no WONDER my husband hates seeing me in makeup!  And I can't imagine how my friends were able to sit across from me at the Pub after the show and chat normally -- what was I THINKING to go out in public looking like that!

And now I realize this must be a continuation of yesterday's post, about being seen for who we are.  From the way they talked with me -- so open and easy -- I'd have to guess my friends have no attachment to my external appearance: they were interacting with the person that lies beneath the makeup and the skin.  Which is lovely, and very endearing.

On a probably unrelated note (although perhaps it will become clearer as I write!) my reading in Trust the Process this morning has brought me to a chapter on Vision.  Which is, of course, all about what we see, or are capable of seeing...  And there were two passages I particularly wanted to share with you here:

"In my experience there has rarely been an absolute determination that "I should have done this rather than that" because whatever I have done shapes what I am at this particular point in time.  I might regret something I did in the past, but some form of life is inevitably born from it, something that would not otherwise exist.  This is the way of  creation."

and this..."God leads through the process of creation.  A force catches my attention, and I listen to what attracts me.  The vision is what calls, what touches us. It is an ongoing movement, a process.  It moves through us.  In order to receive the vision, we learn how to sit, watch, and receive.  It wants to be known...

The vision is a sense of what can be, and the visionary has a confidence that it will happen together with a willingness to commit everything to the idea.  Visions are a sense of possibility and never rigid scripts.  They grow from a person's longing and interactions with the world.  The person who serves the vision always lives for something other than the self.  Whenever personal gains are paramount, the vision withers."

I was trying to explain this to the young woman who partners me in my scene last night.  She was anxious, because there were some last minute changes preparing for the show (she got a new costume for the final scene, and someone had left the hot rollers on all night so they burned out, and  she had to create her hairstyle with a borrowed curling iron) and it threw her energy levels off.  I told her we were just channels for this entertainment that is being put on through us, and to just relax and let the scene happen through her.

Thinking about it now, maybe the play itself is a vision, a collective vision, born of Luce's writing, and Steven's directing, and Barbara's costumes, the theater's desire to entertain, and all of our delight in acting.  In such cases getting tangled in our personal desires for acclaim can only get in the way of the ultimate goal: we are a team, supporting one another, each willing to step in and cover for the other in the event of forgotten lines or missed cues.

Which is the heart of the joy I find when I do theater: it's that sense of community and support.  You don't get a lot of that working alone as an artist in a studio...

PS: A friend just sent me a marvelous quote that's so relevant to today's topic:

"When I speak about playing our role within a design, what I'm talking about is finding a way to walk in harmony with the events of the day, knowing that these occurrences--all of them, no matter what they are--are not meant to oppose you, but to compose you. That is, not to tear you apart, but to put you together.

-- from Neale Donald Walsch

Internal and external critics

My husband was in charge of setting up the computer/ projector connection for my photography talk the other night.  And as we were driving in he was giving me tips about engaging the audience, which I found rather amusing.

And then, after the show was over, he complimented me on my performance, clearly indicating that he was surprised it went so well.

All of which is odd, because I have been giving sermons and presentations to groups since I was in my 20's, did it extensively in my last job, and did it for almost every class session while I was enrolled in Antioch's graduate program in Organizational Dynamics last year.  Which means I've been doing increasingly more of this for almost 40 years -- and yet he was surprised to discover that I do it well.

How is it that you can be married to someone and not know what their gifts are?

Ah well -- we haven't actually worked together in the same organization since shortly after we married, so I suppose he just never gets to see that side of me... although he did watch me give that presentation at Seattle U last year... 

It's curious, that there is this longing in each of us to be seen, to be visible, to be heard, to be appreciated. And of course we artistic types seem to have that longing in spades.  And if I am somewhat invisible at home, perhaps that's what drives me to get involved in plays like the one that's opening tonight.  Some part of me is anxious -- two of my dearest humans, who are also very strong theater critics, will be coming tonight.  But another part of me trusts that if I do well they will see and appreciate that.  And any criticism will be constructive -- and helpful; they know and love me too much to let me get away with anything less than the best.

What does any of this have to do with this picture?  Perhaps it's just that the picture, like my talk the other night, feels... right.  It may not be perfect, but I like knowing I can look at it and say it was good: I did the best I could given what I know and what I had to work with.  And in the end, if my own internal critic is pleased, whatever the rest of the world has to say will not devastate me, but only offer me new ways to grow.  And that's a very nice place to be.

A little peace and calm

Last night I gave a talk to our local camera club about my artistic adventures in the world of photography.  One of the slides in my powerpoint deck showed the sorts of images I used to do, and one displayed more contemporary images.

So that was in my head this morning when I found myself with a half hour to spend between physical therapy and my weekly Thursday morning coffee date.  It was raining lightly, but I had brought my camera into town with me, just in case, so I headed down to the Waterfront Park shared dock -- where I've taken MANY MANY pictures over the ten years I've lived on this island.

I was partly doing that to kill time.  But partly, also, because I've been so frustrated trying to explore and tackle something new.  I thought perhaps if I went back to the familiar it would at least feed my soul (being around the waterfront always does that).  And I had learned, developing the presentation, that all my work seems to feed on what went before: maybe I needed to stop advancing and just retreat for a while.

This is one of the results.  Is it informed in any way by the time that has elapsed since I last shot boats at the waterfront?  I don't think so.  But it IS a lovely calm photo.  Perhaps that's all I need right now; a little peace and calm...

Grab the brass ring

These are two of the magnificent bronze doors that open into our state capital building in Olympia.  To me they symbolize the magnificence of my friend's new career as a legislative aid and serve as a fitting tribute to all the exciting changes in her life.

I suspect there are doors opening everywhere for all of us, much of the time.  Just because they're not always quite this spectacular, that doesn't mean there isn't a wonderful new opportunity waiting on the other side.  But it's not enough to admire the doors: you really need to grab that brass ring and pull...

But that's all I have time to say today; gotta run.  I'm giving a presentation at the camera club tonight AND it's final dress rehearsal before our play opens, so I'm doing my best to be in two places at once. Without LITERALLY breaking a leg!

You have to be there

I spent much of this morning experimenting, but it's not yet going where I want it to; still much too close to realism.  I think I'm avoiding something -- probably avoiding picking up a paintbrush -- but life is too crazy right now to throw all my eggs into this particular basket.

So it was lovely to get this in the mail today from Jan Phillips (I'm now on her mailing list, having attended her workshop last week).  She had gone to hear Mary Oliver speak at Seattle U (a talk I missed because I was in rehearsal) and apparently Mary Oliver spoke of the Muse, saying, "The voice is working in us all the time. You have to be there when you have promised."

This reminded Jan of the W.H. Murray piece about the Scottish Expedition to Mt. Everest which she shared with us at the workshop:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamt would have come their way."

I can think of any number of stories in my life and the lives of my family where this has proven to be true.  But for now I think I'll just say, I'm too busy to commit -- which means I've somehow gotten over-committed.  But this, too, shall pass -- and then... well, I can't wait to see what happens next!

It was beautiful one night

It was beautiful,
it was so beautiful one night
we all began to expect God would speak

from the waves
reaching toward the millet fields.

from the mouths of the hanging sky
ornaments crooning in light's infinite codes,

from the glances of children and plants
and hills playing with effulgent life.

It was beautiful,
it was so beautiful one night
we all began to expect God would speak.

 -- Hafiz, A Year with Hafiz

Drawing from life

This is a photo I took of a piece of art that hangs in the new apartment my friend will be moving into today.  I've been looking at it off and on all week: I'm very drawn to it, and I've been trying (on the one hand) to see what I can learn from it about what kinds of composition I find pleasing, and, on the other hand, despairing (don't artists do despair well?) of ever having the ability to come up with ideas like this one.

But this morning I had a wee revelation, as I continue reading Trust the Process.  And it's a revelation that has SO much to say about the spiritual life... So here's the deal: I don't have to come up with it alone. I am not separate from the world.  Anything I create is essentially the result of an encounter between me and not-me; together the world and I can become a boundless font of creativity.    It is the interaction between us that generates beauty.  I don't have to generate the messages; I only get to offer my own translation of the messages that are already there.

I've been thinking there is this sharp dividing line between photo-realism -- the work I've been doing for my past 20 years as a photographer -- and abstract art, the work that's beginning to emerge in me over the last two years.  And I've been quick to assume that abstract art has to come from some sort of well of creativity inside me -- a well that frequently runs dry.

But look at this piece: Couldn't it have been inspired by something as simple as watching a moonrise through a window?  I am surrounded by a world of constantly evolving compositions: the interior of my home provides a steady framework for the ever-shifting colors, shapes and textures of the world outside my home.  Isn't that also true of my soul and mind -- that the interior becomes a sort of processing framework for the varieties of experience that are taking place outside the boundaries of my body? Couldn't the interaction of the two serve as an infinite source of inspiration? 

My younger daughter is spending this month working on her senior project, doing camera obscura photos in the rooms and homes of her friends.  This involves blocking off the windows of a room and allowing the outside world to project into the room through a pinhole onto the walls, and I find the results utterly appealing.  (With her permission I hope to show one of her images here at some point).

How could I, watching the evolution of her project, not have realized how important -- and potentially creative --- that interaction is between what goes on inside our relatively stable internal structures and the ever-evolving world outside us?

Well, duh!

I just had a flashback to a college art class assignment: we were asked to find a flower and draw it.  I ran out of time and drew one out of my brain and memory.  I wasn't particularly pleased with the results, and neither was the teacher -- who realized immediately that I wasn't working from life.  I don't remember his exact words (it was, after all, 40-something years ago) but he said the drawing had no life in it.

I can't believe it took me 40 years to figure out that he didn't mean I wasn't creative enough; he just meant I wasn't drawing from life.  And I mean that in both senses of the word: as artists, and as spiritual beings, we are meant to draw sustenance from life itself -- not just our own lives.  The cup of our creativity -- which can so quickly become an empty cup if we rely solely upon ourselves -- is filled and fed by the world and spirit that is all around us; we only need to be open to it, aware of what's happening outside our own little windows, willing to see our lives and beings as a stage on and through which the glorious dance of the universe can be uniquely performed and presented.


Ogres under the bridge

Gentle One,
I have too much to do today,
tasks and deadlines swarming,
wave after wave of demands,
and under every bridge the ogres
of people's fears and expectations.
The monster of my failure lurks.

Loving One,
give me grace to step outside of this illusion.
To see through the smoke and mirrors
of pressure and anxiety.
To get out of other people's fairy tales.
Let me see only what is real,
what matters, what heals.
Let me fall in love with you on the elevator.

Present One,
may my only desire today
be to be lovingly present in you,
to seek and to live your delight,
to do one thing at a time,
with attentiveness and grace.
May I walk gently with you
through this pleading and anxious world
with courage and healing in my heart.

Peaceful One,
the stones and arrows approach-
and on your face
a little smile.

-- Thanks to Bill Harper, who shared this poem by Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes, who blogs daily at

Which way is up?

Today's image is from the convention center in Anaheim, CA; our message is from that great philosopher, Barry White:

Which way is up?
Which way is up, what's goin' down?
I just don't know, no
I don't know, I don't know
C'mon turn around
Which way is up, what's goin' down?

The world is moving much too fast
Enjoy the good things and make them last
Each day there's something new to learn
Everyday is a new way for what you learn

I've gotta make money, I've got to live
I'm not complainin', that's just the way it is
A ball and chain around my neck
The more I dig out, the deeper I get

Which way is up, what's goin' down?
I just don't know, no
C'mon turn around, people

Which way is up, what's goin' down?
I just don't know, no
C'mon turn around

Got a whole new outlook on life itself
I'm gonna make it, won't settle for nothin' else
It's up to me to achieve it
And I know I will 'coz I believe it

The more I know, the more I'll grow
Knowledge is key and I wanna flow
This ball and chain is comin' off my neck
I'm gonna pick this ball and chain
I'm gonna put it in check

Which way is up, what's goin' down?
I just don't know, no
C'mon turn around, help me

Which way is up, which way is up?
Which way is up? That way
Which way is up?

Which way?
Which way?

Which way? That way
Which way? That way
Which way? That way

A day in the life...

We live on a one-lane road, and there's a new house going in between us and the entrance.  We received notice that the road would be blocked from 8:30 am on yesterday with a concrete pour, so at 7:30 I moved the car to a parking space past the pour, parking close to a fence so other neighbors and two friends who would be visiting later that morning would have room to park.

At 8:45 I walked down to the car, planning to head to my Pilates class, but unbeknownst to me there was a bolt sticking out of the fence, and it caught the edge of my front bumper.  I was backing slowly, being careful to avoid the fence, when all of a sudden the whole front of my Honda popped up and off.  Fortunately the cement trucks hadn't arrived yet, so I drove the car -- fenders flopping over the speed bumps -- back to the house.  My husband was able to get everything back into position but all the plastic clips were broken, so we duct-taped the car together and called the insurance company; no Pilates for me!

The day was broken up throughout with visits from friends (to pick up a photo for an auction and to order another photo), calls to the insurance company and the body shop, a visit to the body shop, calls to our daughter to see when she might be home with a spare car, a visit to the physical therapist, and, at the end of the day, a makeup training session for the play that opens next weekend.

When I arrived the assistant director mentioned that the director was hoping I'd take pictures of the session, but I didn't have my camera with me,  so I made do with my iphone.  The results were less than spectacular, but they did manage to capture the event; this one was my favorite. 

It was quite amazing to see the transformation of the various women who were willing to attempt the techniques that were being demonstrated for us.  But more amazing to me was how relatively calm I was able to be earlier in the day, faced with the mess I'd made of our car and the inevitable monetary damages that ensued.  I felt embarrassed and apologetic, of course, but I didn't feel shaky and worthless, the way I used to feel when things like this happened (the last time was in 1998 when I accidentally backed into my husband's car, slightly denting his rear fender; I was devastated!)

I'd like to think it's my meditation practice that helps me stay sane through all the complications -- and inevitable challenges -- that can occasionally arise.  But maybe it's just age and experience; certainly I'm not ALWAYS this calm. 

But yesterday I was looking through God is at Eye Level by Jan Phillips -- a much underlined and highlighted copy that has pretty much been my photographic bible for the last 15 years or so.  And the first highlighted sentence is an exercise: "Take a picture of something that makes you feel calm."  I suspect I may never have gotten past that first instruction -- it seems like all the pictures I take -- the ones I really love, at least -- have a way of making me feel calm; I think that's what people like about my work. 

Clearly that one sentence resonated -- and tomorrow I get to go hear Jan Phillips give a workshop.  I wonder what new wonderfulness she'll have to share!  Mostly, I'm just hoping the duct tape will hold the car together until Monday, when it's scheduled to be fixed...

One regret

One regret, dear world,
that I am determined not to have
when I am lying on my deathbed
is that I did not kiss you enough.

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