Passion and Purpose 

I suppose I should say that everyone should aspire to these goals and elevate to become aware of what drives them. 

But I don’t think like regular people. 

I prefer a less-travelled route, one with less declarations and more value. The generous infinity pool that my mind cannot at all conjure even in my wildest imaginings. It is the place where I don’t have any thoughts or input at all.  

This is really hard for most people to understand. They want to believe that they can steer the ship or at least stand at the helm and tie a tautline hitch that they can adjust on a whim. But life has a way of making unexpected waves and when the wind picks up, you better hold on…I don’t care how secure you think the line is.

The other day, I was so sure I was headed in the right direction. I was sure because I was making plans, scheduling appointments, executing on every item on my daily “To-Do” list and it resulted in a full scale panic attack. 

At times like these, I did one of the things I know to do: I called my mother. She was soothing and helpful even as I bawled my eyes out reeling in a despair I couldn’t name, feeling as though I’d been shoved into the ocean without a life preserver. She talked me down and I am grateful but it revealed more to me about how predictable I still am and how I really need to get out of my own way.

Hay Que Barrer (Translation: We Must Sweep):

Post Grief, you may think that you have everything under control. You are no longer a ball of raw emotions fighting against the current.  You float. You drift. But then when you reach land, you have to get to all of the ordinary things that you’d been neglecting done. You have to get up and cook, wash clothes, iron…and sweep. 

The very act of sweeping is not just therapeutic, but it is also a form of meditation because it doesn’t require any heavy thinking. Maybe you’ll look up from the floor and make a conscious decision to sweep in the left corner or underneath the sofa, but these are just momentary instructions to plan out where you’re going to sweep next. When you’re actually doing it, you really shouldn’t be thinking of anything at all. You’re just moving a broom back and forth (and no, you’re not cheating with a Roomba, okay?).

This time, I didn’t have to literally sweep my home.  What I had to do was figuratively sweep my “inner” home. I needed to gently brush against the floor of my heart chamber to clear out the cobwebs. 

Even though time has passed, I realize that I am still at the mercy of the universe and it’s plans.  Spiritually speaking, I realize that God has my back and graced me with Love but He is always giving me lessons in order to help me across the ocean and lead me to shore.  

I recently watched the Disney movie, Moana which mirrored what I was feeling. Moana may ask the ocean for help, but it doesn’t interfere unless she had attempted to do something herself. Like God, the ocean only helps those that…well, help themselves!

So why was I seemingly accomplishing SO MUCH, checking off every box and still feeling so lousy and weepy and disjointed and disillusioned and frustrated and all those dissonant feelings? 

One guess…

I was getting in my own way. All of this time spent on defining my passion and finding my purpose only served to leave me lost and cast adrift.

What I Learned Watching Swans:

Look at these Graceful creatures…Do you see them worried or freaking out about global warming? Are they exhaustively writing their congressmen and attending town hall meetings? Are they immersed in endless circular chatter with other more opinionated swans that goes nowhere? 


Nope. They are just swans out in the sun gliding along minding their own business. 

I may observe the reflection that they make on the water. Occasionally, they may honk. Yet, when I look at them, I admire their peace.

Until then, I have to stop trying to be a swan when I’m clearly a duck. I have to accept things just as they are and not plow forward in the hopes that it’ll lead me to really big words like, Passion! And, Purpose!  Because knowing me, I’ll just be so focused on these that I’ll miss the GIANT ICEBERG in front of me. 

And we all know even “unsinkable” ships sometimes succumb, but oh the treasures that rise to the surface…

Enjoy!

 

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How to Heal 

I’ve been refraining from writing in my blog lest I present myself as enamored with personal Tales of Woe. This blog should be a happy place, my safety zone, a place of Joy and Peace and Healing.

When I started this blog in 2005, I was unaware that it was a creative way of managing my stressful life.  It was an exciting, new method of recording my life experiences. I enjoyed the immediacy of communication and the right to freely publish  without restriction or fear of terminology I used or the political correctness of my words.

However, I was also unaware of how purposeful my blog had become.  It was not only a digital memory of life experiences, but it had transitioned into a way of encouraging my creativity. I was going to design the blog in my fashion, post when I felt like it, and express myself through my life’s journey.  It’s an amazing source of pleasure to know that I did this by myself in a small room surrounded by clutter and disarray.  

It also was the place where I could tap into my light to illuminate the world in which I lived.  Through reading my posts, I could witness my own shortcomings, failures, successes, events that helped to shape me. I could recognize my hand in manifesting the chaos that I surrounded myself in without judgment. 

But smack dab in the middle of all of that positive reinforcement and motivation, I was also inadvertently reinforcing some queer beliefs that lingered underneath the posts. They hung out in the shady cracks and crevices of a story I was telling. 

But that story no longer serves me.

I’m not a victim nor a child any longer. Oh sure, I have childlike qualities which are a permanent part of who I am, but I am in charge of my own destiny. 

May you come to discover the real true you. Remember, as long as your heart’s in the right place, you’ll never go wrong!

I left breadcrumbs so that I could find my way back as I traveled through the wood.  At my lowest point, I’d almost forgotten where they lay but cast aside my doubts when I spotted a cottage.  Lit from the inside with an appealing, warm light, I observed it from a distance. I was afraid that someone or something would open the door and chase me, but nothing did.  I waited a long time and drew nearer so that I could walk around and test my resolve.  To my surprise, I discovered that it was empty inside.  Hesitantly, I pushed the front door ajar and walked past the threshold. The cottage was sparsely decorated: a pale green rocking chair, a tiny end-table, a trunk and a cot.  The floor was littered with leaves and dirt–which I had a hand in tracking in–and a circular, woven rug lay just the foot of the rocking chair I sat in to rock myself to sleep.  I awoke to the sound of rain and felt a few drops on my forehead. The ceiling above me began to leak from other spots too, so I turned my torso to the left while still seated and saw a set of narrow cupboards against the far wall.  I got up and opened each cupboard one by one, finding a pail and some chipped red clay pots to capture the rain in the ceiling that cried.

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The Beast of 2016

The hardest thing to do is to be still and observe, given our limited concept of time.  How does one go in the in-between places, stay there and be truly quiet?  How do you get comfortable with yourself in a way that is genuine, learning to accept yourself just as you are?  How do you realize what’s true to you?  While it seems hard to define, identify and locate, it really isn’t.  Just hang out long enough and stay put and you will find it.  But standing there will seem excruciating.

If I can download an mp4, stream Netflix and get up-to-the-second live feed to events happening all around the world, why can’t I just be born enlightened?  Is there an app for this?  Well, no…at least not yet.

I have come to realize that I am analog.  It isn’t what I would’ve wanted from my particular plan of my own existence, but then again, I can’t see the whole picture. And while this year has been wrought with change from the The Presidential election to transitions in the workplace, and loss of my personal creative heroes;  I cannot deny that I am still here because I have something to contribute.

I didn’t always think this.  I wanted to believe that I am an some obsolete model destined to be taken under by the corrupted power structure.  It’s easier to go into the familiar patterns of the past and pretend that I am powerless and that the sky would fall and crush me in the process.  I was playing that familiar track from an old dream: the one where I’m taking a test and time seems to speed up and I never finish.  A dream that’s actually happened to me in my waking life but has now become a one-way ticket to Woe-Is-Me-ville.  This crutch-this excuse-is just a worn-out tool that I take out when I am feeling overwhelmed.

I want to be clear that this is just a myth; this is not as simplistic as it sounds. It’s a deliberate reaction and choice that I am making (albeit unbeknownst to my true self) whereby I always come out the loser.  This kind of negative thinking has become intrusive, a detriment to my well-being, a major player in the play of my life.  Worse, by continuing to use this outdated model, I have been causing my own suffering and limiting the possibilities that lie within me.  It’s like I am believing the rhetoric of my own campaign against my opponent: my self.

Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s a incentive to change.

I bought books and began The Quest to Discovery earnestly and with fervor.  I judged myself harshly when I slept or took a break or caved and had ice-cream.  I started to break out and refused to act on treating myself better.  Instead, I became stricter and harsher and buried myself in knowledge.   Then, feeling that this wasn’t enough as it was all about self-improvement, I started to dole out advice–no matter if you wanted it or not.  I was going to make you see the error of your ways.  I was going to be perfect and set the example for others. I was going to model myself after leaders and figure out how to respond. Do I join protests?  Do I fund initiatives for change?  Do I  give to charity?  Do I sign petitions?  What do I do?  I mean, I had to do something, didn’t I?

Then, I crashed.  I started to feel weak and sick all the time.  I got sick from all of the bad food I stuffed into my face while trying to solve the world’s problems.  Hesitant and resistant, I had to take a step back and address this monster (which I call by many names).  I had to do something.  If not, it would overtake me and swallow up any opportunity I had to grow.  It would strip me of my joy, my purpose, my peace.  So I did what all beginners do: I made a mistake.

Failure is part of the process because it allows you to experiment and explore.

In layman’s terms, it’s me squeezing into that “trendy” dress to try and make it fit or trying on a new, wretched shade of lipstick that isn’t me because the girl at the counter said it went with my skin tone.  I had failed.  I had failed. Failed, failed, failed.

F-A-I-L-E-D.

Once I shed light on it and called it what it was, I had to remove the shaming and labeling that comes with that.  I actually hear myself say things like, “You suck, MeMa” or “Why do you have to be such a dummy?”  I say terrible things to myself only reinforcing a negative view of me even though the only person in the room saying these things was…well…me.

No doubt this is a common struggle in a human being’s life.  No doubt there are countless others out there berating themselves and critiquing themselves in mirrors.  In my struggle to assess, understand, and become more aware, I was figuratively doing a tailspin toward a bumpy off-road in a golf cart. This method of managing change has been how I had always handled things: fight, act, and resist!  But to my surprise, none of these traditional game plans worked.

So what happens now?  The truth is I don’t know.  I’ve been occupied with doing nothing, nothing at all.  Doing nothing is actually something.  It is the act of being.  I gotta hand it to the plants and the animal kingdom for making that look so easy, I find that humans are not adept.  Apparently, not every monkey can do it.

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The Power of Doing Nothing

I’ll admit that this last Presidential election irritated me.  On Election night, I panicked and all of my fears during the primary were confirmed: Donald Trump had “won”.

I’ll also admit that all of my hopes and dreams about this country had been dashed long before then.  I didn’t like the mud-slinging that was going on because this type got ugly…really ugly.  It wasn’t about policy or plans but about threats and unprecedented hate-mongering.

My response seemed common.  I trolled the internet, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds.  Like many Americans, I began to fear and challenge the results thinking of the protests of the 60’s, hearing the rallying cry of so many of my friends who would be directly affected by this outcome.  I envisioned the madness of our world’s history: emboldened fascists and neo-Nazis marching on Washington brandishing high-powered assault rifles.  I read the articles about the alt-right movement breeding a new batch of Muslim-hating racists. I felt sick; I had bouts of interrupted sleep; I got angry; I wondered what to do. Surely, I had to do something…

Should I Take This Lying Down?

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my imagination.  I couldn’t escape the imagery that raced through my mind.  Trump represents everything that I am against: unethical behavior, racism, sexual-assault, lying, cheating, criminality, capitalism, self-absorption, reality TV, xenophobia, narcissism.  So, being the visual being that I am, I couldn’t help but picture this:received_10210611339256932

**My Darth Vader digital drawing on Trump Mail Art Event image by MOAN LISA

But even as my mind spiraled deeper and deeper into the dark, I remembered this iconic image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono staging their “Bed In” protest:

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That’s when I realized something.  Trump may become this nation’s next President, but there is one thing that he couldn’t do: get my permission.  He could be the worst leader in the free world, but he doesn’t hold my beliefs, thoughts, way of life, art, ideology hostage because these do not belong to anyone but me.  I belong in the world and my existence proves that.  I am here. I can choose to live my life and not be burdened by the things in this world (that I have no control of anyway).  I can choose to be happy and reject anyone who tries to be cruel, mean, and negative towards me.  I can try to challenge my beliefs to see if I can find common ground with others who, like me, don’t want to miss the important parts to a good life.  Let’s face it: my time on this earth is limited, but I myself am infinite.  Beliefs are only made manifest if the person consciously chooses to make them so.

Standing Still:

Truth time.  I began to observe what was making me feel upset about this election.  It seemed to stem from my trust in public information and how it’s transmitted.  I wanted to believe that I was a cog on the wheel of justice, the principles of freedom, the American Way that has been ingrained into my brain since childhood.  Further, social media and media’s pervasive nature made me feel a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) if I wasn’t kept up-to-the-second informed on the election, the results, the transition of power or given crucial information that I really believed could threaten my safety and livelihood. But by reading every blessed post, I kept introducing negativity and reinforcing my helplessness, taking ownership of concepts that didn’t originate from me nor defined my true nature in the little, tiny circle of life that I exist in.  I was blindly accepting plates overflowing with distraction and side-orders of disdain.

Why would I want to live out my time worried and frustrated and angry and bitter?  Well, quite frankly, I am addicted to it.  Living in a major city can take its toll on a person’s psyche.  So much stimulus can not only overwhelm the senses, but create false truths in the mind.  I’ve found it so tempting to fall into old, bad habits because I’ve spent a lot of my life working to establish a sense of routine.  And a lot of that routine was already out-of-balance not just due to my lifestyle, but the many poor, dysfunctional choices I’ve made.  I  created chaos because it seemed “normal” to me. Worse, I have grown impatient and long for instant gratification which only makes me nervous and upset when things don’t pan out or follow a predetermined pattern.

Trumping Trump:

Sometimes the best choice is not to choose.  I don’t have to play any politics.  I don’t have to engage.  I don’t have to watch the news.

So what can I do in the meantime (or, at least for four years)?  I can meditate.  I can write and create.  I can watch gentle ASMR videos on YouTube and Netflix’s Sarah & Duck episodes.  I can read, learn new stuff.  I can pet my dog.  I can eat better and exercise.  I can learn to listen and not to judge other people so much because, hey, they’re just like me with maybe a different set of circumstances and experiences.

Now, if I feel my strength waning or my resolve fading, I prefer to picture Trump like this:

trump_clown

 

Or, this…

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And so long as I live, I have the freedom to exist in this world just as I am.  And I live in a country that affords that right to all of its people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or creed.  But I’m aware that each citizen has a right to choose and I can only be responsible for my own actions…or inactions.

trump_viva-mexico

Leaving My Mark:

While searching for inspiration, my sister brought to my attention a Buddhist monk named, Hua Chi.  He has reportedly left his footprint indentations in the wood of a monastery having prayed in the same spot for twenty years!

Dedication to being the best person that I can be amidst disbelievers and the unconscious masses is all that I can do.  If other people are inspired by that, and feel compelled to follow in my footsteps (pun intended), then what an indelible mark that would leave behind!

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Life on a Boat

When the rudder is damaged and it feels as though you’re lost at sea, consider this: You still have the oars.

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Earth Madre White Prints

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People still don’t know that I was born an artist. I repressed the admission for so long worrying about being judged for this unworthy career path, that I think it surprises people to know that I haven’t stopped creating.

My current work is playing with white ink which evolved into these reverse-images of my original Earth Madre prints.

Now, I find myself committing to what I do best through illustration and cartoon, carvings and art prints.  The process is very intriguing and continues to surprise me. Often, the prints display nuances I’d never anticipated which are so refreshing! It naturally removes that urge to control outcome.

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The latter prints came out a bit globby but I think it’s because of the varying degrees of liquidity in the ink. I mixed black liquid ink with the solid white and added a little vinegar to the mixture. It made this silvery-grey colour that was interesting.  I also noticed that the white brought out more of the carved details which was nice.

Whatdya think?

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The End is The Beginning is The End is The Beginning…

So…2016 is here.  And, I am here. And, you are here.

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This is a big step, realizing just how magical and miraculous it is to be in the world. How did that sperm decide to fertilize that egg?  How many years did it take to create an idea in my parent’s minds that I was important enough of a soul to try and keep trying until they were successful?  Then, once born, how did I manage to survive? 

My mother always mentioned just how hard it was for her to get pregnant with me. I always felt flippant about it, it seemed like a fable, a story that she told so that she could feel valued and I could feel guilty. But no–I know that now. She wanted to express just how valid I was…a conscious decision that she was making to bring life into the world.  It is a feeling that I’d come to know only vaguely as I consciously rejected that role, opting for the life that I lead.

But what is this life that I lead? Well, it’s a lot of things that are not taught to you.  And that’s where I wanted to start.

Born Again:

When people say, ‘Things have a way of sorting themselves out’ they don’t realize that other people are just sorting it out for them so they can believe that.

No one sits you down and tells you that you are grown-up. You don’t have your mommy and daddy sign a Permission Slip for your life. When it just happens, as with a host of other life experiences,  you kind of just freak out…ah, Awareness.  Suddenly,  your life which you attributed to your parents is yours to do with as you wish. But, no one tells you how messy this is going to be nor how complex.

Then, two significant deaths happen.  Confusion. Relief. Fear. What does this mean? Now, three years after, I know.  I’ve lived it.

On this bright Sunday afternoon, I can say with certainty that there are a great many things that I’ve learned about myself.  There are some shades of life-goals but none are too pressing at the moment.

Is That All There Is?

Yes and No. And, maybe? Uh, I dunno. I think so. Definitely. Um…I guess.

There are always improvements that can be made, so long as they are relevant and you are willing.  But it’s always unfinished…until it’s not. 

It’s kind of like at a dinner party that’s going really really well and everyone has already served themselves seconds and the food is almost gone…but there is that one piece of pie left and those that are full keep going on and on about how they couldn’t even eat that last bite…of course they couldn’t, shouldn’t!…but they keep eyeing it. Are you honest enough with yourself? Will you take the last piece of pie but worry about it going to your hips or thinking about how many miles you’re going to jog to work it off?  Or, will you quickly snatch it before someone else and then quietly revel at the other’s misfortune, missing their opportunity to seize the last bite instead of you? Or, will you simply savor it knowing that you grabbed it because you wanted it and you are now enjoying it and that moment will happen for someone else…or not. You are eating it and it tastes good!  Or, even though you want it choose not to grab it, so that someone else can enjoy it? Or, will you, without a second-thought not even notice the last piece at all?

I’ll admit that I still will complain about how fattening it is, but will seize the opportunity and grab it, loving the taste and my good fortune at getting the last piece. That’s where I am right now. But this may change and improve over time. I don’t know. I’m undone. I’m a work-in-perpetual-progress.

Life has gotten blessedly slower. I’m happier now. I relish my days at home with my dog, Cher. I pay attention.  I like looking out my apartment windows to see nature. I pay particular attention to the squirrels and birds.

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Misery on Broadway:

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My sister, my mom and I wanted to see this play with Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalfe. I am so glad we went! Had a blast and got to take some really cool pics…

Star Wars Month:

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After a philosophical conversation with Yoda, I went back to the future to attend the renewal of Padme’s wedding vows to Anakin from the distant galactic future. It was awesome. 

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My sister won at a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors which resulted in a perfectly timed birthday celebration (a day before my 42nd birthday)! To up the ante, my sis bought us matching t-shirts. It was a great day!

Myzel’s Chocolate:

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I was privileged to meet the kind owner of Myzel’s Chocolate in NYC.  Her small place on W 55th Street is where I tried sugar plums for the first time and where I bought arguably THE GREATEST CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES IN THE WORLD!!!!! I am so going back there…

Blessings and Joy and Peace to you this New Year and Beyond!!! ♡

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