Friday, February 27, 2009

Purnam Adah, Purnam Idam (This is Perfect, That is Perfect)

This is for Elle, who's been reading, and grieving, and asking lots of questions.

Ecclesiastes Collage*

The madness of folly
More bitter than death
Who is like the wise man
As you do not know the path

“Look! This is something new!”
It was here already, long ago
No remembrance of men of old
Not remembered by those who follow.

Since no man knows the future
Who can tell him what is to come?
A chasing after the wind
There’s nothing new under the sun

Eat your food with gladness
Pleases the eye to see the sun
What has been will be again
What has been done, be done.

A Collage is a poem composed of lines taken from a different text or texts. These lines were drawn verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes in NIV Bible.

P.S. (Mostly for Bridge) If you were caught by yesterday's dramatic post, so was I. D did call. Things are as okay as they can be for now. Pray that they will be dramatically better. I am.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What the #$@%?

Lately my life has been absolutely perfect and completely fucked up at the same time. Which makes for a very confusing experience. I'm constantly flipping the metaphoric coin and waiting to see which side comes up. But it really doesn't matter, because it's just going to flip again, and then the other side will show.

And if I don't want to deal with that, I simply wait and it flips itself back. Really.

Sometimes I flip, sometimes I just stand back and watch the flipping happen for me. Depends on if I want to enjoy the illusion of being in control, or if I want to just be detached. Sorry, I'm feeling bitter today.

I saw an amazing book when I was browsing through Borders earlier. (See what I mean? What kind of life is bad that includes browsing through the bookstore as part of the day's activities?)

I think the title was A Stroke of Insight and the author's last name might have been Taylor, but I didn't write that down and it's already gone from my cluttered mind. What remains, however, is the point of the book. Dr. Taylor was already an accomplished Neuroanatomist, deeply involved in studying the brain, when she suffered a disabling stroke at the age of 37. Her brother's lifelong struggle with schizophrenia had led her into brain research and an active involvement in the Mental Illness Movement that included serving on the National Board of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness).

So a completely debilitating stroke that robs the ability to walk, talk, move, and more is a bad thing, right? Turns out, not so much. Turns out that Dr. Taylor thinks it's the best thing that ever could have happened to her. Because of her extensive training and background, she was able to experience the effects on her cognition from the inside, and she was able to completely recover her lost function.

And now, write the story so that others can learn from her insights.

Who would think that a tragedy would be a blessing? Or maybe I should ask that same question in riddle form: When is a tragedy truly a tragedy?

Answer: When you don't do the work to transform it into something wonderful.

Thus, the connection to my own life.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I've been doing a lot of functional writing lately. Which is to say, writing that serves the explicit purpose of being my job. Which is to say non-fiction. Which isn't to say that writing which doesn't connect to my job isn't functional.

Because it is.

All writing serves the purpose of connecting us - with others, with creativity, with the self. Sometimes I think the writing without "purpose" is the most important of all.

Reminds me of a quote I used to have posted in my classroom. "Writing should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within." I think that's it. I think it's Kafka. Feel free to check me.

Good writing to you all!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Family Yoga

My family sometimes does yoga together. Last weekend we bustled to our favorite studio for a family class. The owner asked us to pose for an ad, and I thought you'd like to see us in action.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Isn't It Beautiful?

Gong music is supposed to be utterly confusing to the thinking mind in its unpredictability, and thus wholly soothing. I wish you deep breaths and relaxation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


As time goes by, I find myself becoming healthier and healthier. My yoga practice grows more consistent. I am transforming my diet. Soda is right out. So are candy bars. I seek out fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I haven’t eaten beef or other red meat for years.

Except yesterday.

I had half of a pastrami dip for lunch.

I do believe that – if we checked – pastrami is technically beef. Sigh.

I knew that. However, my body expressed a craving. I distinctly heard it ask me, “Hey, how ‘bout pastrami for lunch today?”

“What?” I was taken aback.

“Yeah,” My craving gathered force. “There’s that fast food place around the corner from work. Let’s check that out.”

Thus, the afternoon found me sitting in my sunlit car, a half a hunk of dripping sandwich clutched in my fist, the waxy yellow wrap spread across my legs as a makeshift table.

I contemplated the salty, greasy, hot, thin pink slices before me. Slathered with bright yellow mustard and paired with crisp green pickles, I held not just a sandwich, but art in my hand. I thought about the poor cows who had given their lives, probably in cruel and horrible ways so that I could have this food. I thought about the chemicals and additives processed into this meat. I wondered if this indigestible mass would linger in my innards for months.

I admitted how undeniably delicious it was.

Yesterday morning I had spent a good 15 minutes online, admiring gorgeous photos of fresh vegan vegetable dishes.

Nevertheless, here I was, enjoying every drippy, juicy bite and embracing my inner carnivore. In fact, what grossed me out more than anything was the gummy white roll the sandwich was on. I wished that I had asked for whole wheat, or at least rye. I wound up taking the nutrition-drained bread off and throwing it away.

Then I picked up each warm pink sliver with my fingers and devoured them.

(written 1-15-08)

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Rainy Morning At Home

Fiona's brilliant at reminding me how much I love poetry. This one is so perfect for this day of pouring rain that I've lifted it from her blog here:


Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.

Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over. Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.

Would I live my life over again?
Make the same unforgivable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance. Yes.

Raymond Carver

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Sixth Photo from the Sixth Folder on my Ancient Computer

A blog friend "tagged" me on her blog and asked me to post this photo. Normally, I'm not big on following directions, but what the heck.

Here's the story behind it - just for you, Elle.

My husband S accompanied our younger daughter on her class field trip celebrating the end of 1st grade. It was a hot June day, over 100 degrees, but they walked more than a mile from the school to the park and then back. S was with her every step of the way.

Hence, the floppy hat and sunblock. Water was the biggest commodity of the day.

I was there as support, setting up the picnic tables, running to the store for last minute drinks and cookies. (I was smart enough to bring my car!)

The kids had a great time. What's heat when you can be out of class and running around with all your friends? The teacher even got drenched with ice water by the rowdy dads!

The best thing about S and me as parents is how much we are there for our daughters. When something is going on at school, we arrange our schedules so that we both attend. It's one of our top priorities.

I'm glad he was the one who did the walking!!

...And Now Breathe...

We began our yoga practice yesterday with this simple exercise. Simple, but beautifully effective. Just like yoga.

Come sitting in a comfortable cross-legged pose. You may also choose to align yourself comfortably in a chair, hips even, thighs relaxed, feet on the floor, spine tall and torso lifted but relaxed.

Take a moment and remember a time that really upset you. Not the most horrible upset of your life, but a moment recently when you lost your cool and later regretted it. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being horrific, how upsetting was it?

Now raise your dominant hand in front of you at eye level. Curl your fingers into a fist and stick up your thumb, like you're hitchhiking from the universe.

As you remember the feelings of upset, gaze gently at your thumbnail. Let it become a small movie screen. Onto it, project the incident in your mind. Remember the sights, the sounds, the sensations. Hear the dialogue.

Slowly, waft your thumb around in a figure eight before your eyes. Track your thumbnail movie with your eyes as it moves around. Breathe calmly.

After a few minutes, relax and let your hand drop onto your thigh. Re-rate the incident on a scale of 1-10.

Do you find that you feel calmer and less upset?

This worked like magic for everybody in our class. Seems like a handy thing to remember as we cope with day-to-day life.

And now breathe.