Archive | July, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

26 Jul

PHEW!  I am tired today–work lately has been like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate family (I do hope you know what I’m talking about), running about, making sure that each item is ticked off just as more items come in their endless parade.  

And because I work in a hospital where urgent is a well defined flavor, where rushing is for a reason and not just for rushing, I get worried in these moments, that I’ll be caught like Lucy with a mouthful and shirtful of chocolates, checking and triple checking but also worrying that some important action has slipped by on the conveyor–

I realize I have to let go.  I have to know that I am doing my best, my absolute best to do all the things that must be done, that I’m using my hands for helping, that I’m using the right kind of gentle resolve needed to make sure that all the frightened and sad and tired (and sometimes angry) people are taken care of.  At least as far as it goes under my responsibility.  I want to focus on the people, and not on all the actions and forms to do, on those that need care who are more important than all the files and numbers in the world.

I’d be lying if I said that these files and numbers don’t threaten to engulf me from time to time.  But how hard I listen, like someone trying to piece out a tune in another room, for the voices of people within.  They are always there.  Beating hearts underneath it all.


24 Jul

When I was little, I would want to paint something beautiful, something with all the colors–ALL of them, and the result was supposed to be this shiny spectacular shimmering cornucopia that would make everybody go ooooooh. So I would get all the colors and put them on the paper and move my hands wildly with brushes just like artists on television, and then I’d step back–
–and find a very uninspiring grey-brown blob that wouldn’t make anybody go ooooooh at all.

Since then, I’ve learned my primary and secondary colors and grey-brown blobs happen hardly at all, but the image sticks. Sometimes we pour all our magic into something and what we get is just that–a blob. When I most fall into blobness is when I’m explaining my feelings about something, because revealing your feelings–that’s supposed to be revelation time right! I mean the other person is supposed to pat my hand when I’m done and say I know exactly what you mean and we’d laugh and cry a little and everything will be fine. More often I go through my statements of discomfort and anxiety and upsetness and love, the whole cookie, and the person just looks at me with a squinchy look and just doesn’t know what to do. Blob.

But thank goodness for those grey blobs, they’re not fun but they’re useful. They can come when making some sort of project, or throwing ideas around about work, or planning for the future. We can throw all our magic and sparkle in and what comes out isn’t what we expected, isn’t anything.

It tells us that we’re not looking at the space–that we’re moving like artists without noticing the colors, that we’re too attached to the end thing and not the thousand in between things that happen in the middle. Big grey blob says don’t go for the end, this is what you get when you do that, go for the moment, for the now, take a big breath and just experience the processes in things not expecting to go anywhere.

Then even your big grey blob will have a moment of rainbow.

Good Questions

23 Jul

I have found that some questions we need to ask and answer over and over again, once is not enough.  The questions include:

Who am I?

Where do I fit in?

What will I do when I grow up?

What kind of life do I want to have?

Why am I here?

What does life mean?

These questions come back over and over again (and I’m sure there are many others) no matter who you are, what you believe, your personality, job, whatever.  Some people shoo these thoughts away by the latest light entertainment, or grab handy pre-fab “answers” to these questions.

I don’t want to do those things.  I don’t want you to do those things either.  Sure we can do some anxiety quelling measure, but besides the fact that anxiety quelling often means being involved in unhealthy things, we’re missing out when we don’t meditate on these questions.  And they don’t go away, sure we might have some that fade while others come center stage, but there’s always a question or two waiting, like a friendly puppy to be picked up and played with.

These questions might create some anxiety, but they aren’t harmful, believe me!  They’re there because they are what being human is about.

Also, these questions don’t have simple answers.  The answers are silly, broad, jumbled, flash in the dark answers, answers that don’t have words to them yet but sensations, feelings, experience.

Follow these questions and the world will be a great place for you.  Answer them a thousand times if you must, each time a little bit differently, turn them around in your head like a pebble, feel their perambulations and sharp corners, hold their weight in your hand.

And you will know joy.  

The Follies of Self-Help

22 Jul

I do not believe in dumping an old life and wandering into the great unknown unless that old life is completely horrible.  

And I don’t believe keeping things the same is healthy either.

Let me explain.  There’s a TON of websites/books/tv shows/whatever that encourage you to dump everything and follow your dream.  Leave your corporate job!  Leave it all behind!  Do what you love and people will pay you for it!  Sounds like magic doesn’t it?

Dumping it all and leaving it all behind initially starts the wheel of fortune turning, and it can land anywhere.   There’s certain key times in life where this is a good thing, every young adult needs to do it at least once to get their own life, people in terrible situations need to do it to do it to escape, and there’s other times–due to grief and pain that it’s definitely warranted.  

But what of the rest of us?  The rest of us who have families and commitments and bills, who cannot swing from one vine to another on blind faith and nothing else, who have children who depend on us, who crave creativity and freedom but choose to limit that for a greater freedom later.  What of us.

We choose another way–we choose to grow from this place rather than uproot and replant. 

Uproot and replant is risky, therefore is best for the times in life where taking a risk gives a greater chance in making things better.  However, a lot of the self help places seem to think that taking a risk will magically give you the things they want, that the uprooting and moving is part of it.  Perhaps it was for them, but for many it’s not.

It’s not for the alcoholic who moves to a new city and starts drinking again instead of pursuing her art.  It’s not for the personal assistant who quits to write and ends up being a personal assistant again in six months.  It’s not for the mother who left it all behind to be a musician and then has to wait tables because kids are expensive and need more than hopes and dreams.

I am here to tell you, and myself, that we can move ahead without taking those risks–the growing from this place, the making art even though we have kids and dayjobs and whatever else, the having that passion despite our circumstances, in fact of having these circumstances fuel our passions even more.  

I want people to open up the idea of happiness, to crack that egg open wide and know that it is not putting ourselves in the ideal situation.  Happiness has nothing to do with that–we are not orchids that need to be set in greenhouses to thrive.  We are weeds, marvelous beautiful weeds, that grow out of ruins and wreckages and dry offices and broken relationships and grey days and retail and the rest.   And it’s all part of it, it’s all our fuel.

So stop waiting.  Don’t give up.  Keep going.  Grow from this place.   


19 Jul

Lightning is out tonight. (Probably not the best idea to be on my computer, but no harm Portland thunderstorms are extremely mild as far as those things go.) Today was extremely exhausting with office stuff. Office stuff! Who ever knew that office things would be so tiring! I mean I’m not digging ditches, but after a day of filling out forms and all the endless mounds of paperwork, my brain is a green jelly.

Though the way the weather has been, so sticky, I have just been in a lethargic dream where everything moves like peanut butter, moving slowly, endlessly slowly. Lost in dreams and landscapes, feeling out of the loop, but not minding it. Restless and dreamy.

Yes, things will change here–this humidity is where seeds sprout. I know it.

Yarn Freewrite

18 Jul

String, knots, wound from nailhead to nailhead, all posted in a block of wood.  A totem to the disorganization in all of us.  It looks like those puzzles in kids books that look like wound up poles, everything moving from point a to point b and back again.  

Cats like yarn, and can make a mess of it.  The cleanness of a pair of knitting needles.  The clang they make when struck together.  A basket of wool.  Lambs.  Sheep.  Through the Looking glass.

Yarn sitting in balls like fruit in a basket.  The knot necklaces my sister and I would make out of bits of yarn, until the knots tied around themselves and collapsed.

Images.  Pictures.  The drawings of things.  This is a thing and that is a thing and the world is full of things.  Items to be picked up and used.  People brought down by things.  Swimmers weighted down by the stuff they accumulate and hold onto.

A piece of yarn from my finger to yours.  Messages transmit there.  Telegraphed.  Thoughts and feelings and random happenings, and yes we are blessed yes we are blessed yes we are blessed

Let things move freely.


17 Jul

Lately I’ve been full of inertia. Maybe it’s been the heat. Maybe it’s that I’ve just been tired. Maybe it’s just the way the cards are turning. I dunno, but I haven’t felt like doing anything at all. Really, I could spend a whole day just staring out the window quite happily. So I’m going to make a list of inertia breakers, and see what comes up!

1. Freewrite
2. Let the inertia take me, I can’t stay shut down forever.
3. Clean, clean everything.
4. Read (I really haven’t read much lately.)
5. Watch a fun little documentary.
6. Sleep–maybe I’m just overtired.
7. Meditate/do yoga.
8. Just make something, anything, it can be bad
9. Visit a new place.
10. Listen to fun music.

Well, I’ll try some of these things and let you know how it goes.


16 Jul

One word I don’t like is “unacceptable.”   Keep in mind I’m not some rebel that minds if some things are against the rules, or unwise, or inappropriate, those words are fine.  Unacceptable is a word that implies that someone is being very judgmental while trying to sound official.  In a way it’s a power play.  

The problem with unacceptable is if I think about it, I come to the question who cannot accept this action and why?  Sometimes there’s many good reasons, but I still wish they’d use a different word.  Yes, giving children grenades for Christmas is unacceptable, but it’s better described as dangerous.  Swearing in a place of worship some people find unacceptable, but I’d say offensive would be a better way of putting it.  

Maybe I dislike how unacceptable goes into hyperbole–most people use it saying something like higher taxes would be unacceptable, when in reality, they’d be unpopular, and definitely unpleasant, but if taxes were raised, people would accept it, perhaps with some grumbling.  (I’m not advocating raising taxes, I’m just using this as an example.)


12 Jul

Goodness gracious! Today I got zonked full-out at work–have you ever had this moment where it was like “I cannot take one tiny iota of more information in any single form never ever ever ever!” That’s where I was! It’s not a very nice feeling overall, though it’s not terrible either–it’s sort of like the brain has too many ideas buzzing around at once, and it’s impossible to follow them at all. Maybe it’s inspired, but it also feels like–just NO MORE INFORMATION. Honestly I couldn’t have handled someone’s name on a post-it.

Summer Camp

10 Jul

I think there should be summer camp for adults.  I don’t mean a “retreat” or a “seminar” or a getaway or all the things adults do instead of going to camp.  I think there should be 5 days in some cabin with people you don’t know that well, crafts and archery and baseball and band and canoeing.  Singalongs of course and campfires and all the things that go with camp.  

The summer camp I went to as a child, I still remember the cabins, where on the top bunk I saw layers and layers of things kids had carved over the years.  The bridges over the creek and how they had names (though I only remember the “thunder bridge”)  Crayfish and the peculiar scent that everything had.  How there was always one kid that was scared all the time and another that never knew when to quit.  

We aren’t so different from the kids we were back then, the only difference–being adults–is the egos are bigger really.  I