Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Did It!

Yay! I read in a poetry reading last night! I was very nervous.  I feel like I did a good job, though.  I got compliments.  It was funny, some people told me I seemed really relaxed, like I had done it before but during the first two poems, it felt so surreal. I wasn't sure the words were really coming out.  After that, I felt better and by the time I read the last one I was comfy and wanted to read more.  I'm so glad I got out and did this.  It was a huge and necessary boost in my self-esteem.  The fact that I dragged myself up in front of those people, then shared some personal writings, was so brave for me.  Then having people tell me they liked what I wrote, that was amazing.  It's hard to know what other people will relate to till you give them the chance.  This is yet another reason I love Ypsilanti.  There were no cool poetry groups in Wixom (where I used to live).  The people who came are such a wonderful group.  I love listening to the other poets.  I'm always amazed- wow! how did she think of that?  And the way some people use language is surprising and exciting.  It's inspiring and makes me want to work more at writing and think even further outside the box.  It's great to be in an inspiring environment that's friendly and supportive.  I have big gratitude to this group, to Beezy's for letting us read there, and especially to Theresa who organizes it.  I encourage everyone to get out and share your writing.  I guess that's what we're all doing here.  So another big thank you to anyone who reads my blog! 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Poetry Reading Tonight!

Hi everyone! First I have to ask you to excuse my blog for morphing lately.  It may continue to morph till I really love how it looks.  Anyone who has tips for personalizing or knows of sites to find templates and things at, please share.  But that's not why I'm writing today. 
I'm going to be reading at a poetry reading tonight!  I've known about it for a couple months and was really nervous for a while.  I'm just excited now.  I've never done anything like this.  The most public I get with my writing is here on my blog.  I have to say this outlet has given me a bit more confidence as a writer and also given me a very different approach.  I've started really working at writing lately in ways I had not considered before.  I edit things sometimes, (yes, that's a big deal to me), and they're better for it.  I used to call a poem done once I ran out of words.  Now I know I can often come back to a piece and find more to add or remove things that don't fit.  I'm also slowly learning to write when I decide to, not only when inspiration hits- because if I coax it a bit, I tend to have more to work with.  I compulsively write down every little thing that strolls across my brain because I know that if I let it get away, fewer things will come.  It just occurred to me to wonder how I know the difference between the errant thoughts that stumble around in there and the things that want to be written down.  It seems to come in a different voice.  How do you experience this?  How do you see yourself growing or changing as a writer, or in any other endeavor in your life?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Much is Too Much?

I've admitted before that I've spent most of my life ignoring the news and political information.  This could be considered willful ignorance, (okay, it is), but it's also self-preservation.  I'm empathic and sometimes find just being in a store uncomfortable.  Too many emotions flying around.  It's stressful!  When it comes to politics, I find it utterly overwhelming.  There is so much involved!  History and governmental structure, finance, it's all one big ball of yuck.

But something in me has awoken.  I have found this urge to know.  I want to know the truth about what governments do- especially my own.  I'm not going to find the answers on FOX news, so one night I googled: What is really going on?  I found some sites that could be called conspiracy news. I have believed government to be corrupt for a long time.  It's kind of obvious if you pay attention, or, apparently, even if you don't.  I find myself fascinated now by the things people dig up and expose.  I learned about the legal meaning of the word "person" and how that is applied in the UK.  I looked it up in my OED and found that the origin makes sense in relation to what I learned.

  I decided to look around because I finally wondered why life seems so out of balance. Even in this "rich" country, we all work so hard and have so little time to think.  It feels purposeful to me.  If we have to work very hard, and still have bills to worry over, dinners to make, houses to clean, etc... when will we stop and look around?  Who would notice if the government was heavily influenced run by big corporations?  Who would complain when our freedoms are taken away bit by bit?  We're all too busy with the day-to-day.  We've been raised (in America) to be concerned with and focused on our own lives.  The problem I have with that right now is that in my own life, I feel stifled.  I crave more time to devote to my spiritual growth.  That kind of growth and healing is not encouraged here.  Sure I could go to church every Sunday and feel better about what I did all week, but that type of spirituality doesn't fit my life or my heart.  I want to pose deep questions to myself and find the answers that are true for me.  I want to let go of some of this materialism and realize what's important.  I want to "put down all the pressures and feel how I really feel". (Ani DiFranco from Half Assed).  There is so much out there working so hard to distract me from myself.  So maybe it's this pull that causes us to become narcissistic.  We know that our own growth and emotional state should be more important to us.  We know that we should have easier access to how we feel, rather than wondering and wandering. 

The question I pose to you now, though, is how much is too much?  One of the reasons I haven't been blogging as much of late is that I know some people don't want to hear about conspiracy theories and I don't blame them.  I spent so much of my life avoiding this type of information.  Now I find I'm occasionally immersed in it but I hesitate to talk to anyone about it because I know it can be depressing.  And it's depressing for me, too, but I feel like I should know, to some extent, what's going on.  Is our government really sending special agents to train terrorists to attack Iran?  I hope not.  These types of things pop up all over when you watch international news.  I'm a little shocked but not as surprised as I wish. 

I believe in being the change I want to see in the world.  How much do I really have to know in order to make my life, and therefore the world, a more peaceful, loving place?  Are we better off when we know less, being un-fettered and un-biased?  Is this information making it harder to feel peaceful?  I have to answer that and the truth is I'm not sure yet.  It certainly makes me feel a more urgent need for peace and balance!  It makes me long for Big Magic.

If only I could go to the leaders of Israel and Palestine, look deeply into their eyes, and love them so completely that they fill with love and forgiveness.  I know it sounds crazy but imagine with me!  If I could be giant, looking down on the world and just say, "Now, now.  Put those weapons away and stop fighting.  It's time to go home for dinner."  and "Oh, those people don't have food.  Hey! All you with more than you need, it's time to send some to these people because this is not fair."  Ok, ok.  I know this is beyond simplification and I probably won't get to be a giant, but do you get the drift?  I know so many people insist that "Life isn't fair!", but each time they say that, they reinforce that lack of balance.  It's consensus reality again.  If you believe it, it will be. 

I believe in peace.  I believe in balance.  I believe in justice.  I believe in Love.  I believe that each of us is all we need.  I believe that we have the answers.  I believe we can make change.  I believe it's not as complicated as we are told.  I believe we can make it fair.  What do you believe?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's Not Different

I was at a party this weekend and had two different conversations with two different people about narcissism.  We talked about the way people will talk endlessly about themselves with no interest in anything else and think they're having a conversation.  (The con part of that word means with).  Then there are the folks who refuse to see beyond their own noses.  You may have a friend who has an annoying habit or destructive behavior.  When you bring it to their attention, they fight you in a self-righteous way or walk away, ending the friendship, sometimes returning after a month or two as if nothing ever happened.   There is a level of non-reality present in these types of actions.  I have to admit to having talked a lot about myself when I was younger.  At times I didn't know what else to talk about because me was all I knew.  I've also been guilty of looking for some link from whatever conversation I was a part of to my own experience.  I think that's natural, too, but it showed me that I wasn't really seeing the speaker.  They weren't asking for my experience with whatever it was, they were sharing theirs.  It's easy to go through life seeing only as far as our own noses.  After all, we experience life as ourselves and that's our frame of reference for everything.  But if you've ever sat with someone who really sees you, someone who is totally present with you and what you're saying, you will know that there is no greater gift than presence with another.  I've spent nights with friends when we were focused on my life and where it's going.  This was not a narcissistic time, it was a time when I was in need of guidance or advice and my friends saw that and had a lot to offer.  They shared stories of their similar experiences and thoughts on what I wasn't seeing.  The thing we forget when we're so focused on me is that we don't have the whole picture.  True objectivity is impossible but we have to strive to attain some willingness to see ourselves and the world through the eyes of others.  Or to understand the points of view that oppose ours.  If we can't see the whole picture and the reasons people are disagreeing, we don't have all the facts.  We can only see that the "other side" is different.  That becomes a basis for everything.  Different is a lie that breeds fear and hate.  Yes, we are all different and thank Goddess and God for that!   It would be a dreary world indeed if we all loved to write and had one daughter and two cats and dreams of saving the world.  It would be a sad place to live if there was nothing to disagree on.  But when will we learn to do our disagreeing with respect?  When will we all step out of ourselves and into real life?  If a conservative, republican fundamentalist meets a liberal, democratic atheist, odds are they won't have much to talk about.  You would think.  But lets take a step back.  Lets look at these people from a different angle.  Let's imagine that they are both fathers of pre-teen girls, they both work as engineers, they both love to watch hockey and play poker.  They both love having cook-outs with family and friends.  They both hope to travel to Ireland one day.  Are they still so different?  Now these men might have something to talk about.  And that's the thing about narcissism and judgment.  When your world is very small, it's easy to believe that your way is the only way simply because it's all you are comfortable with. It's easy to fool yourself into believing you do nothing wrong.  When you allow yourself to be the center of everything, some things are going to fly out of orbit and you'll have no knowledge of those things.  If you don't look up from your own life, you won't see how much there is out there to experience and learn.  None of us has it all figured out.  If someone had all the answers, the world would be a different place.  Clearly not a single person has the power or the knowledge necessary to bring balance to this world.  So what would happen if we started to listen, I mean really listen to one another?  What could we do if we stopped fighting, stopped looking for the "different", and started agreeing on anything.  Can we agree that a large percentage of people would like all wars to end?  Can we agree that it's not ok to allow people to starve?  Can we agree that domestic violence is NOT ok?  Can we agree to protect one another and stand up for what's right?  Can we agree that what's different is what makes beauty and what's the same is what holds us together?  Can we say that whatever we are told we're fighting for is not worth the lives lost to the fight?  Can we agree to re-evaluate our priorities?  Can we agree that we all want to be seen and feel loved?  Can we agree to stop hating, stop fearing that which is outside of ourselves?  Can we agree to start loving what is inside ourselves?  It might be a lot easier to love ourselves if the whole world wasn't so busy telling us what's wrong with who we are.  We're too fat, too frivolous, too gay, too honest, too intelligent, too pretty, too ugly, too funky, too adamant, too lazy, too busy, too serious, too sure of ourselves, too insecure, too human.  Seeing everything as other-than is like an insidious mental illness.  It's our need to make sure we're "in the right" and somehow better-than.  What prize do we think awaits us for being right?  Will we feel good at the end of our lives knowing we kept all that seemed to be different at bay?  Will we be glad that we never let anything new in?  Will we feel big knowing how small we've made others feel?  Will we want to sit and listen to our own stories when others have heard them all and tire of them?  Will we learn to forgive and to be open?  How have you been narcissistic?  Where is the line between self-exploration and narcissism?  Does your self-reflection help others?  Are you willing to admit when you've been wrong?  Where is the path to 'different is good'?  Will you sit with someone and really listen, become transparent for them so their story comes out whole?  Will you feel the gift in that?    

Monday, July 5, 2010

Relay for Life

  I love my town!  I recently moved to Ypsilanti MI and will write more about my great city in the future.  I live near a park where a lot of local events are held so we get to listen to the music all summer.  A few weeks ago, the Relay for Life came to the park.  I love this event!  If your life hasn't been touched by cancer in some way, you're very fortunate. This is a beautiful fund-raiser that is very community-based.  There was such great music and such a wonderful energy in the park that day!  I watched them into the night, battling fatigue and mosquitoes, walking still when I went to sleep.  I was very moved and went inside and wrote this poem:

Just Before Midnight

  Amid the song of a soulful night bird
and the scent of a damp, happy willow
across the sound of the Huron gliding by
     I watch

On a path encircling the park
surrounded by luminaria
    they walk

They walk for their family,
their friends, themselves
for memory and the chance of anticipation,
for dreams cut short and those made possible

The path beneath their feet,
on any other day  like any other path
is, for this time, a sacred space of healing and unity
it's a circle of community
of shared grief and triumph
of support and understanding
of true empathy

This walk is for warriors
these are people who live life up-close
and with eyes wide open
because they know how fleeting a gift this is
and how graciously given

These are warriors of grace and vulnerability
who know what it means to love ferociously
the strength that takes, and that which it gives
They have come here through moments
of intense contemplation, through new
rearranged priorities, with changed
worldviews, and open hearts

They bring colorful tents and coolers
are served midnight pizza
have music to move them along
but my favorite is the laughter-
that audible evidence of joy
shared one to another

These warriors come here as
humanity at its best
they come to do for others
to raise awareness and give voice to the silent
to celebrate life, having learned what that really means

They come with faith in themselves
and in one another
because they know they can make a difference
and they do.

*Added 6/16/10- If you know anyone who takes part in the Relay for Life, please feel free to copy this poem and share it with them.  It's a small thank you from me to everyone who participates in this great event.