Movement

January 5, 2010

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is…more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life and in change there is power. ~Alan Cohen

I have given notice at work, and will be leaving full-time employment at the end of March. I will work a couple of part-time months at a library system, then retire. This will give me more time to build and market my new consulting business, as well as attend to soul time.

If you’re interested in the growth and development of libraries and nonprofits, you can check out my Web site here and my business blog here. Go ahead–critique and comment!

During this period I will be vigilant about keeping my new business activity separate from salaried work time. Mindfulness will be especially important for me in the upcoming months, so that I am fully present in whichever sphere I am working. But I am starting to feel the energy and power of movement!

Will 2010 mean change in your life? What adventures await you?


Engage

December 19, 2008

How long will you keep pounding on an open door, begging for someone to open it? ~Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya

What a great reminder that (as my friend Shirley used to say) “I have everything I need to be happy here and now.” Don’t we all sometimes just want to be rescued? How tempting it can be to be the damsel in distress, the victim, waiting for the white knight (read: lover, father, boss, president, savior) to come along. It is seductive to feel absolved of responsibility for our own lives. But in the process we are turning our power (and our joy) over to others.

How much more satisfying to engage in our lives, be mindful, celebrate all that is–the universe in its infinite wisdom; our friends, relations, and coworkers who are who they are; our life situation, which is no doubt perfect for the lessons we need to learn. Who are we, after all, to question the design of goddess/nature/god/spirit/life?

Yesterday I had a moment of profound gratitude for life, for breath, for the world just as it is. Today, I bow to the mystery and to you. Namaste.


Woundedness

September 18, 2008

Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you. ~Rumi

There are things in this life that hurt! The challenge of the wounded, I think, is in not identifying with woundedness, in being more than that. But when we avoid or repress the woundedness, we don’t heal properly. Recently, old repressed pain has been bubbling to the surface for me (see also these references to heartbreakthroughs). An image came to me this week of a wounded bird, trapped and panicky, in need of soothing. I want to open my heart and let the grief and pain pass through and away, but it is difficult work.

When I considered the image of the bird, two things came to mind: a ring I have worn for years, and a collection of spirit stones my friend Elaine made for me a long time ago. The ring came from the Southwest Indian Foundation and has a prominent thunderbird motif. The spirit stones Elaine chose for me, and the characteristics they represent, were the following: Otter-laughter; Spider-creativity; Bee-organization; Loon-solitude, singing; and Thunderbird-spirituality. Some Native Americans believed that the water animals were healers, the land animals protectors, and the air and sky creatures embodied spirituality and wisdom. I like the idea of protecting (bandaging) myself with creativity, and of healing with laughter (and perhaps solitude and singing, too)!

I have resisted the thunderbird, though. In fact, when the ring came in the mail, I was disappointed, since the catalog image was a ring with tiny pueblos in relief. On my ring, little sections of pueblos flank a large central bird. I knew each piece was hand-crafted and so a unique design, but I expected the ring to look more like the photo. I even asked if there was any possibility of exchanging it, but received no reply. Now I think it might have been meant for me. Perhaps my life journey is moving from wounded bird to powerful thunderbird, eh? For now, I’ll do my best to keep my gaze on the bandaged place where the light enters.


Just Do It

September 15, 2008

The way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives. ~Annie Dillard

After two days of moping around the house and playing computer games, I am sick of myself! Today I will practice yoga, mindfulness meditation, and writing. I am trying to come up with a sign for my office with the sentiment, “Just Do It!” only using different words, so I am not reminded of an advertising slogan. I endlessly read about my passions–mindfulness, soulwork, writing, exercise, simplifying, poetry, yoga, creativity, meditation–rather than practicing them! It is (past) time to move from learning to doing, from watching to engaging.

Here it is appropriate to recall the famous lines that were probably from a translation of Faust by John Anster (more here), but were attributed to Goethe by Scottish mountaineer W. H. Murray, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

How do you move from intention to action? Hey, send me your suggestions for wording for my sign…


A Hand Up

April 25, 2008

What do we live for, if it is not to make life a little less difficult for each other?  ~George Eliot

I am writing less, working more, and handing power over to stress these days, in spite of the beautiful greening and flowering of spring. Stop. Breathe. Rest. Pay attention. I have to remind myself. It is easy to get far removed from creative impulse, to forget to listen to inner wisdom, in this world so full of distractions.

Last night my friends made me laugh in spite of myself. Eliot’s quote makes me think of a bad poem I once wrote with an ending something like: “Why would we be here/if not to offer a hand up/still reaching with the other?”

This evening, the indigo bunting is what takes my breath away.


Just Write It!

April 17, 2008

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.  ~Erica Jong

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

More writers on writing (there’s an earlier post by that title). Today I broke down and bought a Moleskine notebook at Barnes & Noble. I’m a bit ashamed to admit I have been lusting after one since I read this post at Put Things Off.

I want to write, to be drunk on writing, to be a writer (and NOT a writer-who-doesn’t-write). This blog is the closest I’ve come in years to having a consistent writing practice. Maybe I’ve been avoiding the dark places or the scary blank page or my own power. But, as with many situations in life, the best solution is to act with courage. To write.

so much depends
upon

a black Moleskine
journal

lined, with back
pocket

beside the blue
notecards.


Power & Love

April 14, 2008

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of my personal hot buttons is feeling powerless, ineffectual. This is one of those things I have known for some time intellectually, but I know now on a deeper level. It is time to claim my own personal power, regardless of any external conditions in which I find myself. I have been operating with the old (and now useless) behavior patterns of self-protection from my childhood, afraid of my own power.

I don’t believe that I’m alone in my ambivalence about claiming my own power, especially among women. Power is considered a dirty word by so many! What does it mean to claim my own power? I think it means equanimity in the winds of change, with the willingness to yield and bend when that is called for. I think it means standing up for justice (actively loving) when that is needed. Its foundation is a feeling that I have a right to take up space, that I belong in the universe–fundamentally, a love and sense of justice that include (even) me!

What is your relationship with power?


Vitality, Beauty, Community

March 19, 2008

The three components of human happiness are vitality, beauty, and a sheltering sense of community. We always start by relying on ourselves and looking for these three things in power, order, and fellowship as the world understands them. Failing to find them there, we eventually seek them in the only way that makes sense–in Being, which transforms, fulfills and brings us to new life.  ~Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, Zen and Us

I am so happy to find the source of this idea! For years, I have had it written down as “vitality, beauty, and a sheltering sense of community, rather than power, order, and fellowship,” without attribution. As I was rereading Dürckheim last night, there it was!

I love this book. Originally published in West Germany in 1961, it discusses what Zen has to offer the rational West. Dürckheim emphasizes that Zen is Being, is experience, and experience only. He says, “This doctrine is not a philosophical theory of being, and has nothing to do with metaphysical inquiry, but expresses an inner experience–the experience of Being, which we ourselves are, in our true nature.” I thought of Bill’s wonderful haiku in response to a recent post: reading about Zen, grasping it intellectually, is not Zen.

Anyway, the notion of “vitality, beauty, and a sheltering sense of community” as components of happiness seems right to me, and also the idea that they are often sought, but not to be found in the usual power, order, and fellowship that society offers. What do you think?


New Ideas

February 7, 2008

I can’t understand why people are frightened by new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.  ~John Cage

Without changing our patterns of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems that we created with our current patterns of thought.  ~Einstein

Sam and I watched Michael Moore’s “Sicko” last night. After he has shamed us in the U.S. for our refusal to offer universal health care, and shown us the secure (and healthier) people in Britain, France, and Canada, Moore asks, “Who are we?” Good question.

We need some new ideas. But beyond that, we need to reconnect to the values of democracy, and yes, true Christianity (not the mockery some have made it, in which doublespeak is rampant). Jesus was all about giving to those less fortunate and not amassing wealth. What has happened to the concept of raising all boats, of pulling together for the common good?

I am sick at heart from the cynicism, the greed, and the lack of real statesmanship that I see in the political arena at all levels. Selfishness and ambition has replaced leadership and public service it seems. And our system is constructed to support that. What decent person with genuine concern for all seeks public office anymore? I believe a will to power should disqualify a candidate! How do we reverse this tide?


Power

October 7, 2007

When one does not know how to convince, one oppresses; in all power relations among governors and governed, as ability declines, usurpation increases.  ~Madame de Stael

The question is, on a national/world and on a personal/workplace level: How do we assist those in power in gaining ability–or failing that, how do we make sure that those who gain power are skillful? My observation is that most of the powerful people who lack skill also lack humility, have little self-awareness of the need to develop.

So it seems our most important task must be advancing those who do have ability, somehow renewing the respect for learning and wisdom, supporting those who lead and reach, even if they should fail. We need leaders with vision and courage, not just a will to power. And we need to give them room to be human beings, tolerating the imperfections we all have. Which is worse: Clinton and a little sexual misconduct, or Bush and the slaughtering of thousands of innocents?