~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Monday, October 31, 2011

now we rest

Now that all my 'friends' are finally out of their boxes . . . 

the rest of us can relax,

and curl up . . .

with a good book!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

dark as coffee

Her skin was dark as coffee. 
She sat across the way, 
smiling with a serene glow that seemed to emanate 
from somewhere unknown, 
and her graceful limbs were relaxed, calm. 
From one moment to the next, 
I see her shimmer--
black Madonna, 
Mesquite tree, 
old bark as dark as coffee. 
Some would say there is no glow, 
they see only rough, dry, scaly trunk, 
yet shift perception and 
see the light from within for it is always there, 
the energy of Life that permeates everything around us, 
each element portraying its own essence 
shining through large or small. 
the earth in Her feet, legs and torso, sturdy and obvious, 
the water She retains deep within that we can see by way 
of Her leafy green hair, slender to minimize evaporation, 
the fire in Her warm skin and limbs, 
the transformation of sunlight and Her vitality 
even in the hottest summer when She conserves resources, 
the air as She breathes and sways, 
Her movement a dance as She grows and fills the space around Her. 
Dark as coffee, she is chosen by the artist to create a tiny divine figure 
polished to a mahogany hue, 
the gentle curves become a woman, 
Her spirit shining through 
as the carver brings an image into form...Blessed Mother. 
She is holding the key to compassion 
that unlocks the door during the dark night of the soul. 
A dark night that may be a fleeting moment or a lifetime 
or are they one and the same? 
Who can know for sure within this illusory life we seem to live 
yet so much happens that we do not understand, 
our senses limit us within their reach and 
we can only guess through imagination and inner vision of Her Truth. 
Ebony and ivory, living side by side and peace formed 
through a symphony of rhythm and song 
that reaches beyond the limits of time and space. 
Our world orchestrated through our energies coming and going 
or pausing to listen when another is singing. 
Our world an incredible vibration of Life that soars and falls, 
flows and builds, transforms in immeasurable diversity. 
I am one and we are One. 
Feeling the sadness of unknown origin flow through me 
without getting stuck because I see it, 
I feel the sticky fingers like a tree frog wanting to cling 
to the sides of the twisted tree that grows to survive 
yet allowing it to jump away--not stay--and then its life resumes 
and the twisted limbs become beautiful in their shapes of survival 
rather than frightened into a quagmire into which they could have fallen. 
The tree frog, out of its natural element, 
flies through the air for a moment without wings 
and glories in his freedom to sit in the sun on the rock, 
transforming into a lizard, basking, glowing, 
while the Mesquite nearby rests, 
crossing Her arms in a posture of peace, 
gleaming with inner wisdom, 
sharing shade in outer compassion, 
Her bark as dark as coffee.
This was another writing prompt provided by Peggy Tabor Millin, ClarityWorks.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sedona and Grand Canyon

If you want to see more of our trip, there is a video HERE.
However, patience will be needed to allow the video to load;
I recommend the 'small' version.
The music is the incredible R. Carlos Nakai.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Revealing Self

I'm spending so much of my spare time these days writing, reading, and reading about writing that none of it is getting transferred to this blog. Whoops. I guess part of it is that I'm excited to finally have more spare time now that most of our big projects at the new house are completed. That said, I do also read my favorite blogs--the ones noted off to the left of this page--even going so far as to back up and read those entries I may have missed. Don't want to skip something important!

Now for what I've been up to since my last blog post...

I've joined the little local library's book club that meets once a month. Our first meeting was about "The Glass Castle," a memoir by Jeannette Walls. While several other women in the club disliked the book, unable to see past the child neglect, I thought it was a wonderful read even if the story was disturbing at times. I couldn't condemn Jeannette's mother because I connected with her; in fact, almost felt a kinship with her. But our discussion about this book was lively and thoroughly enjoyable. I was so pleased to have found this group. The next month's book was "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry. This one I had read shortly after it was released in paperback because a friend recommended it, and I loved it. I was shocked when not a single other person in the book club even liked it, let alone enjoyed it as much as I did. But I laughed and again the hour-long discussion passed quickly with everyone making comments. I look forward to our next meeting!

As I've continued reading books on writing, following are a few of the remarks that stood out for me.
"Description begins in the writer's imagination, but should finish in the reader's." 
Stephen King in "On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft" is a proponent for leaving out most of the specifics of a character's appearance. This does seem to be a delicate balancing act, although also a subjective topic. I have read quite a lot of King's books (like most of his readers, my favorite is "The Stand") and enjoyed them at the time, but I have eclectic taste when it comes to fiction so I have also enjoyed works where the author painted a very clear and concise picture of the major characters. I'm not sure where my own descriptions will fall.
"If you jump back and forth from deep inside a character's head to a far-distant overview of the action, then back in close . . . The smoothness of your narrative will be compromised. One way around this is to start chapters with the more distant narrative you want to include, then move in closer into the character's mind and stay there." 
I appreciated all the comments on viewpoint in "Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint" by Nancy Kress, especially about third person as that seems to be the viewpoint I prefer, both for reading and in my own writing. I now have lots of ideas and exercises that may help improve my manuscript once I begin the self-editing process.
"Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art . . . " 
Wow, this one struck a nerve. Actually, Ray Bradbury in "Zen in the Art of Writing" had all my nerves humming!
"What do you think of the world? You, the prism, measure the light of the world; it burns through your mind to throw a different spectroscopic reading onto white paper than anyone else anywhere can throw."
Quite inspiring, yes? I may have to print that quote out in BIG letters and tack it to the wall in front of my computer. "Zen" is a fabulous little book.
"The project I'm preparing will have personal relevance . . . . It will be a process of self-discovery. I can't imagine spending a year or more on a novel and not emerging from it with greater self-awareness than when I began. That way, even if the project doesn't attract a publisher, my time has been well spent."
Perfect. These words written by David Morrell in "Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing" were like a bonfire blazing in the night, leading me to my Self. The manuscript I'm working on began as something fun; now I can clearly see how it can be more. All the ideas that have been flooding my heart and soul since I set the manuscript aside have become a tidal wave; I am enjoying the rush, the excitement renewed, and I will sort out everything as I go along.
"People, events, or our own negative thought patterns can threaten our faith and drive it underground unless we remain aware and alert. Protecting our faith in ourselves requires vigilance in the present moment because that is where faith exists. If we stand on faith and project into the future, we move from faith to hope, from attention in the present to expectation for the future."
I will be turning to Peggy Tabor Millin's book "Women, Writing, and Soul-Making" repeatedly, I am sure. Her words touched me on many levels, and I know that I will resonate with the spirit of her messages each time I open her book.
"When we reveal ourselves through our writing and do not turn away, we connect with the reader and impact lives."
This statement by Millin reminded me of Bradbury's "self-consciousness is the enemy." Even when blogging, I find that the posts that seem to touch readers the most are ones where I had completely stepped aside from controlling what I was writing.

Lastly, has anyone ever read Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" who didn't like it? I cannot imagine that is possible. What a gem. I had to give up putting tabs on phrases that grabbed me because the edge of the book was becoming a mess!

However, I did want to comment on her chapter titled 'We Are Not the Poem.' So many times, I have wondered if someone reading my journals from my 20's and 30's might think I was certifiable, destined for the loony bin, suicidal, delusional, or had lived an awful life. Even this past week, I wrote two very different writing practice entries; one from a writing prompt of Millin's called 'a golden curl' and the other a stream of consciousness flow called 'illusion of safety.' Every writing expresses a unique moment of sensation or emotion. Goldberg says:
"They were my thoughts and my hand and the space and the emotions at that time of writing. Watch yourself. Every minute we change. It is a great opportunity. At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin fresh. That is how writing is. Instead of freezing us, it frees us."
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