Archive for ‘Namaste’

Throw Me a Lifeline

November 3rd, 2009

Last weekend, a friend invited me for a belated birthday dinner and gave me a belated present–my very own life jacket! She was trying to help me get over my last traumatic kayak outing in which I tipped over, went under and struggled to get to shore, kayak in tow, in a life jacket that came up over my head and obscured my vision like an XL shell on an XS turtle. As a nonswimmer, it was right up there on the horror scale with The Perfect Storm. So now I have my own life jacket, and I might actually get back on the water again. But the real lifesaver for me has been friendship itself — a life preserver that has kept me afloat in the stormy times of my life and helped me tread water when I was becalmed, dull, confused or stuck in place. The friend who was thoughtful enough to help me get over my fear of water, the friend I meet for mutual creative inspiration every Tuesday night, the old friend who shares her life with me in long-distance calls, the friend who is my right hand man, my bookclub friends, my walking friend, my soul-sister friend, the friend who knows all my secrets, the friends at work who have become family, my blogger friends, the high school friends who pop up in my life when I least expect it, the friends who cycle in and out of my life and always leave me richer … my lifejacket friends.


October 21st, 2009

I have a hard time asking for help, because I don’t want to be a bother or cause an inconvenience. I’d rather do things for myself so that I don’t owe anyone or I’m not obligated. I don’t think I became independent by choice. First my dad skipped out on my brothers and me, and then my mother checked out, making sure we had everything we needed to survive except for compliments, physical affection or laughs. Soon after, I found a boyfriend who was like my parents in the sense that I was just an extra in his drama. Add to that his penchant for beating me like a drum, and I stopped expecting much. Hoping, always hoping, but too proud and at the same time, too unworthy, to ask for help or favors unless I scrupulously paid them back. This week I’ve been sick with some sort of trash flu. Along with praying that I would someday be able to breathe through both nostrils again, I obsessed about tall glasses of cold fresh-squeezed orange juice. When I was blowing my nose or using the neti pot, I had visions of that OJ in a tall skinny glass etched with leaves that I use for Champagne. It symbolized wellness, sunlight, health, Vitamin C and Vitamin Hope. So I had to ask a friend to go to the grocery for me. An ordinary favor, not out of her way, and yet how embarrassed I was to need help. Today I ran out of soup and had to turn to another friend. Why was it so hard to ask for help from my loyal, tenderhearted friends? I could ask my therapist about this, but it seems pretty simple: In the process of being frozen out by my family, I gradually froze over. Old habits that once protected us can end up turning into strait jackets. I don’t want that to happen to me, but I know it’s easier to recognize patterns than it is to break them. I’m going to make a start by simply being grateful when my friend drops off the soup, instead of trying to figure out the cost of a can of soup with tax added in and apologizing over and over for putting him to all this trouble. I’ll put my palms together, bow and say thank you. For teaching me to receive.

Hello, Sunday

September 27th, 2009

“Trippers and askers surround me.
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and
city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old
and new…
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.” Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself

Could any words be more relevant in this age? When we spend so much time cultivating our personae on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. When we’re inundated with more information more often than Whitman could have imagined. When our identities are so bound up in our possessions or the loss of them. Note to Myself: Read it, remember it, live it.

Hello, Sunday

September 13th, 2009

“Someday, any day, now, if we are faithful to attend, something will reach out to us, a figure in a painting, sunlight on a door, a place in a dream, and it will woo us toward change, offering us, as well, the energy to make the change. These are transforming and energizing symbols, graceful fugitives coming to us from the Center of Everything!”
(from ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE, Marv & Nancy Hiles)

I stumbled across Sacred Life Sunday on a couple of blogs, but I’m too lazy/disorganized to join the list. I’m trying, though, to dedicate Sundays to being a pause, a stop-time before Monday time commences, and to make a conscious attempt to carve a spot of sacred space out of the day, even if it’s just reading something that makes a sound like church bells in my mind, like the passage above.

Sweet Thursday

September 3rd, 2009

I love Thursdays so much more than Fridays because of the anticipation. The hardest part of the work week is done, the weekend is ahead and there’s a louche holiday feeling about Thursday night. This evening as a friend and I drove over the causeway to the island near my house for dinner, I could feel Friday coming in on the tide. The marsh grass was a vivid electric green, the boats at rest, the light a blessing on everything it touched. It was a special ordinary moment. Thank you, Thursday.

My D Cups Runneth Over

August 28th, 2009

Today was my yearly fear day when I have a mammogram. I don’t mind having my breasts flattened and arranged like spatchcocked pigeons–once you’ve delivered kids with no meds or had your ribs split open for some esoteric surgery, a mammogram is child’s play. What I hate and why I’m always late getting one is Waiting for the Results. For days in advance of the mammogram appointment, I become suddenly shy with my breasts, afraid to touch them in case I find something wrong, nervous about their well-being, wondering what’s happening in there. I’ve never had a problematic mammogram, but that doesn’t stop me spinning the worst-case scenario every time. Always before I’ve had to wait several days to get the Results, meaning I’m mentally veering back and forth the whole time wondering if silence means it’s good and they just slid me to the bottom of the pile because they’re busy with more pressing issues, or silence means it’s horrible and they’re trying to figure out how to break the news without me going all apeshit crazy on the phone. This time, my doctor sent me to a new clinic where — get this — they give you the results ON THE SPOT. If my news hadn’t been good, I might have wished for a few days of unknowing, but tonight I am incredibly appreciative of these healthy breasts that often seem too large and unruly for comfort or clothes cut for Kate Moss, and the expensive, underwired bras I bitch about having to buy them. I’ve done nothing to deserve this good luck, but my cups runneth over with gratitude tonight, and tomorrow I’ll be treating them to red lace.

Bless you, Patricia!

August 4th, 2009

Tonight I stopped at the supermarket at 8pm, trying to dash through and grab some things for dinner. I was running late, feeling frazzled, wishing I were already home and in my pajamas. So one bottle of wine, one bottle of sparkling water, one avocado, one tub of salsa, 2 baking potatoes, 2 cartons of Greek yogurt, 2 cartons of blueberries, 1 copy 0f Yoga Journal, 2 tomatoes and 1 jar of mustard later, I got in the the checkout line…and waited. And waited. And waited. Because the cashier, whose name tag told me she was Patricia, was taking her time and looking up a bunch of items and chatting with the customer ahead of me. And I was fuming inside. When it was finally my turn, “Good Times” by Chic started playing on the sound system and Patricia was dancing and punching the keys and bagging my stuff and dancing. And I started remembering the good times that song brought back, and I started dancing in place and Patricia laughed and I laughed and the tight-lipped guy with one item behind me almost, almost smiled. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I had a bunch of weird, expensive, unrelated stuff in my cart, that I was going to have a late dinner or that I’d had a day of family problems that were probably ultimately unsolvable by me. Patricia had a long drive ahead of her after she got off work, standing on her feet all day, and yet she was dancing. Could I do otherwise?

A Little Bliss

February 26th, 2009

Most days are a jumble of good, bad, indifferent–I stutter through, beginning something, putting it down, getting interrupted, growing bored, picking up another thread and losing it, starting and stalling and forgetting where I was going when I got sidetracked. And then there are days like today, when I worked hard but effortlessly, when I worked steadily but wasn’t drained, when I was actually able to finish things I started. A day of small but measurable accomplishments when I burned creative fuel all day but had something left over to kindle a fire tomorrow. When I saw a visiting friend out the door tonight and came in from the dark, I felt as if I were seeing my home with fresh eyes–the shelves of books, the turquoise chair, a green and black ceramic bowl, pink tulips from the supermarket–all transformed and glowing in the lamplight. Nothing had changed except the way I saw it, and nothing about my day was extraordinary except that I was momentarily able to step back and perceive its shape and texture and realize what a gift it had been.

Breathing Spaces

February 21st, 2009

I took this photo during a walk along the canal towpath in D.C. last fall. The water was so still and dark that I felt my soul shimmer in response. These magical places in nature are vanishing so quickly that I fear my grandchildren will be thirsty for spiritual H2O as they grow up. Every day when I drive to work I pass a pond that lies between an office building and a busy four-lane highway. I don’t know how it has escaped being filled in for more brick office fortresses, but somehow it survives–a tantalizing remnant of what this coast used to be. There’s usually a Great Blue Heron and a large white egret wading or simply standing in silent communion by the edge of the water. I look forward to it every day — it helps make the transition from home to work, work to home easier. I automatically slow down to see if the birds are there, and it puts all my stupid work worries in proper perspective. It’s like looking in one of those Easter egg dioramas and seeing a whole other miniature world inside. It’s a small hidden treasure in a landscape that has been developed in a deranged kind of way–because of course we all need another Comfort Inn or Taco Bell in our lives. As long as the pond survives, it gives me hope for the land, for the future, for the return of two birds to the same spot every morning. Fragile hopes for a big planet.

The Spirit of the Place

February 13th, 2009

My guardian Buddha has lost his nose as the result of being knocked over by winds or maybe the neighbor’s cat. I like him better this way–as if his spirit had been tested and tried. As if he had ended up in this raggedy, weedy garden bed and was making the best of it. As if he’d been around the block and had a hundred stories he could tell about what he’d seen. This is no pretty boy Buddha but one that has withstood a few freezing nights and too many unbearable southern August noons. A Buddha for someone who has been broke but not broken, someone’s who’s often lonely but not giving up on love, someone who has a hundred stories about what she’s seen.