White on Black

 

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Feather on Block Island State Beach: Photo by Noelle

I am enthralled with bits of light. The hunger for the right sort of light, is at the heart of my interest in black and white photography. It’s an odd feeling, that moment, when the piece you are working with suddenly strikes this perfect balance of white on black. As if a piece of me suddenly solidifies out of the ether, into this very potent now, that didn’t exist before.

Possibly it didn’t exist.

Maybe we are all manifesting ourselves, moment to moment, by what we create and connect with in our lives. Versions of ourselves no different than photography filters. Each choice, each passion, each belief, steadily constructing this moment’s version of ourselves, that could change with the next decision.

It’s said that the distance between molecules is so great within us, that we are really made up of more nothing than something. That at a subatomic level what we think we are is ether, nothingness, vast empty landscapes of potentiality waiting to erupt into existence. Dynamic vapors each of us, winking into existence over and over again at such high speeds, we appear like something out of nothing.

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Visit From My Old, Atlantic Friend: Photo by Noelle

In photography, I can pull out light and deepen shadows, dramatically altering the quality of an image. I can tweak the shades of gray and imbue a scene with opalescent highlights.

I can do this in character and perspective, too. Change who I am, drawing out more of one quality over another. I need only change my mind, make a new decision, intend something I have never intended so powerfully before.

These days I lean toward more light, less darkness, but it’s there – my shadow side. She is, in every sense an old, if not often deluded friend. But her delusions about how the world works, have just become the backdrop for seeing my way into more profound truths. My darker side is not an aberration, but part of my artistry.  A necessary depth in the dimensional me I come to learn anew each day.  She lurks in the dark spots of the wave, the dense parts of mountainsides, the vanishing portion of a blade of grass. My shadow is what sets the stage for my light.

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

It’s clear there is always some focal point or object at the heart of my search in each image. Yet, it can only come by its contrast to structures around it that are darker. The contrast of white on black, shows me something I came to see.

Look at any of these images and the sea of darkness far outweighs the light. In fact, at a qualitative level, the intensity of the light is in direct proportion to the amount of darkness that surrounds it. The greater the sea of darkness the more intense the bits of light.

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Old Harbor, Block Island, RI: Photo by Noelle

Dark matter in the Universe, in a sense, seems to work this way, too. We can’t see it with any known measuring scale or technique because it interacts with nothing known to us. We know it exits however, by it’s gravitational pull on the objects we do see. It is the force that surrounds the things illuminated to us.

I feel this inside of me more and more each day. The more I turn into what disturbs me, darkens my doorway, makes me want to pull away from myself, only accents how powerfully light the other parts of me are. They go hand and hand, this white on black.

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Wildflowers in a dark wood: Photo by Noelle

All of this is really to say we don’t understand darkness.

We don’t appreciate its value, weight and importance in understanding what we deeply wish to see. That each goes hand and hand with the other. We have such fear of pain and suffering we can’t perceive what part darkness plays in our lives, inside our psyche or in how things are unfolding all around us. We break things down into good or bad, right or wrong, but this really robs us of a larger context and meaning to the people, places and things we interact with.

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Wild on the trail, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

I look upon the shadows cast by these mountain trail wildflowers. They are of the flowers, of course, and yet they have a beauty unto themselves that changes throughout the day, as the sun moves across a boundless sky. The beauty of the flowers is bolder against the dark shadows that dance around them all day long. Even more delicious, the darkness of the shadow can only be experienced by the white sand that rests beneath the shadows themselves. White on black, black on white.

When I look at how my own goodness has come to me, or maybe its better to say floated to the surface and shown itself, it’s on its arrival in my darkest moments. It’s weight and quality are not understood exclusively alone, but by how I perceived the darkness around these pieces of luminescence within me. Or how it seems the darkness itself refracts back to me a light, I could’ve only seen by the very darkness I dreaded to face inside of myself.

I look at the image below, and feel a deep sense of peace as the light of small leaves rises out of the dark forest floor. I understand the balance I feel inside myself, as the image finds it’s right balance of white on black.

So much of me is light petals on dark, earthy mulch.

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In a wood near Allenspark, CO: Photo by Noelle

 

If you enjoyed this piece, I would be honored if you checked out my book, Into Your Meditation available by clicking on this link or the one on the upper right  hand sided of this post.

Kaleidoscope: A Divine View of Ourselves

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Image from Devianart.com

Today, I send into your meditation a Kaleidoscope.

Imagine you have picked up a beautiful kaleidoscope off the shelf in a lovely, out of the way shop you stumble upon, down an unexpected alley. The shop is full of all sorts of curiosities and beautiful trinkets, games and pieces of art. You have been wondering the shop for a few minutes, enjoying touching and admiring many things when you come upon the kaleidoscope.

There’s something of the unexpected in a kaleidoscope. You never know what patterns and beauty you will see within. Thus, you follow your impulse and pick it up. You are surprised at how substantial it feels in your hand. Clearly very well made of a porcelain-like material, with these intricate designs and writing that appear similar to Sumatran script down its sides. The rims are made of gold and you find yourself even more entranced than a moment ago.

You place the kaleidoscope to your eye and peer in. As with all kaleidoscopes the objects that create the patterns within are made of rich colored glass, but there are also beads of gold and silver that seem to refract light into the glass. When you turn and face the sunlight streaming through the shop windows the colors explode in every direction, bringing to life the most amazing patterns. Each turn of the scope gives ever greater delight. It’s as if you can feel the colored patterns seeping into your body through your eyes. Whatever the price, you decide you must have it. You can’t help feeling there is something truly magical about this kaleidoscope and an immense good fortune for having found your way to this shop. You want to look into it again and again.

And there is, of course, something magical about it. This kaleidoscope is your human life and the viewer is your spirit gazing through it.

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Image from Devianart.com

Your life was chosen from a myriad of options in the divine shop of human existence. Your life was an intentional decision and there was such delight and sense of wonder and eagerness to see what patterns this life you are living would create. Feel the power in that. There were an infinite number of choices, and your spirit chose your life to experience itself through. Not random, not accidental and not the last trinket on the shelf some unlucky spirit got stuck with. No one is a lump of coal in some spirit’s Christmas stocking. Everything about your life was a magical moment of conscious decision and creation, entered into with pure joy and awe.

Pay close attention now and let us see something even more powerful and unique about this kaleidoscope. It’s size is of your design. The number of colors within it, your choice. The number of times it’s turned and the pattern allowed to change, your decision. Each of us are sovereign beings with complete freewill. The limitations we experience are of our own choosing. The level of diversity, depth, color, range, complexity of our nature is something we build and create daily.

It’s important to understand there are no wrong choices. No matter what we think of the events of our life or the changes we’re experiencing our highest self is always delighted with the patterns of our nature. It peers into us only with the eyes of love and wonder, and as such it can see nothing else. It does not see the person you harmed or the person who harmed you the way you see them. It does not interpret your losses or successes or those of your enemy the way you interpret them. It does not see the unexpected, as unexpected, or the confusing as confusing. It sees into your life with immense clarity and vision that envelopes all of who you are and all of whom and what everything else is, simultaneously. It sees the beauty and grace in all things.

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Image from Devianart.com

There is never disappointment in our beingness or even a hair’s breath of regret in the choice to live through us. All those feelings of discord are only our level of disengagement with that love offered freely and without restraint or limitation.

Your higher self is an infinite being. It can live an entire lifetime gazing enthralled at one particular pattern that never changes, reveling in the patterns beauty. It can spend ten thousand lifetimes, turning the scope again and again, seeing millions of configurations if it so chooses. Nothing is ever lost to it. Nothing is squandered, diminished or thought less of for being the pattern it is. It knows only delight, excitement, wonder at what it sees in the pattern it is witnessing now, for no matter how far down a hole we may think we are, it knows completely our potential to climb out. It waits with delicious anticipation for us to take our next step toward love, in each and every moment. It will wait a minute, it will wait ten thousand lifetimes with the same anticipation. It’s infinite. Only love and potentiality matter to it, not time.

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Image from goosart.com

This life you are living is a kaleidoscope. You are choosing the limitations of the tube, the color of the glass, the aperture of the spy hole… all of it. Even more fascinating, at no time, does your spirit rail against the limitation of the tube, either. For the tubes limitations are what allow the formations of patterns. They are chosen limits, until one decides to change the limits for something smaller or broader, depending on what serves us. Spirit can’t look into vastness and experience an individuality. It must confine itself for a time in a human life that has distinct edges, created by our beliefs and perceptions. We may decide to change a belief and expand our point of view or our way of being, but we chose to be inside this tube for a time. And in that choice we are playing with the limitations we set to ourselves to build our kaleidoscope. We wanted something we could look through and that decision gave us this very unique and specific life.

We have a fixed sense of who we are, our personalities in particular, largely because we’ve created – through our beliefs – the limitations we live within. It is an illusion though to see them as fixed. We can make them so, if that serves us, but if the confines we’ve found ourselves living in have become constricted, boring, dull, diminished, dark, negative, self-limiting, imprisoning, than truly we need but turn the glass tube. Make a decision to change. Make a decision to imagine ourselves as something new, and the tube begins to turn. The colored glass and metallic balls begin to tumble and who we are shifts into a new pattern.

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Image from Pinterest.com

Do not let your old stories of who you are define who you can be. Disengage from other’s points of view of who they think you are, and ask yourself if that is who you wish to be? Allow yourself to imagine that any configuration of you, that no longer serves you can be let go, freed up, re-designed into something else. As Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” You are pure energy, in a constant state of flux and evolution. Know the limitlessness of that!

As you sit today, see if you can feel the porcelain tube with it’s magical script etched down its sides turning just a little and then allow yourself to open to whatever comes next.

If you enjoyed this piece, I would be honored if you checked out my book, either at the Amazon link below or the Lulu link at the upper right hand. Many blessings to you…

Reflection on Water

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Reflection on Water. Vancouver, BC by Lionel Phillippe


A softness opens within me
Mirrored deftly by a wind that
Envelopes my skirt and
Lifts a hair off my brow

The more I let go
The subtler I become
Welcomed joyously as a child
Dashes to the surf

No resistance to the careful way
Spirt rearranges my soul
Look how pliable and
Permeable I am!

I grow upwards a great seaweed forest
Blooming beneath summer waves
So porous that light – refracts
Passing through and pooling in my hands
Dhyana Mudra

Laughter reverberates off every wall
Yet a warm dark nothingness is plain and
So deep it can’t be touched
Love ever present

I skid across its quiet, mysterious surface
A reflection, a flicker
A precious nugget of time
A single tick on an infinite clock

See my light dance
Wave to wind
Wind to wave
I am this for only a second

Time passes, I grow softer still
Till one day I am so gentled
I slip back into the deep
A shaft of light
Embraced fully, richly
By a more loving tide

Traveling Monk Wind

Painting by Albert Bierstradt

Painting by Albert Bierstradt

Clouds hang thick and brooding above me, as I stand on the deck. The rain comes and goes at its own bidding, with thunder rolling across the rooftops with little punch. The sun sets over the hogbacks, barely visible between the heavy cloud cover and a thin stretch of blue that holds to the mountains as if it were snow. Lightning flashes and a spindly thread of electricity that whips outward toward the fading sun calls a passing goodnight.

It’s the air that has brought me to the railing, leaning out just a bit to catch it moving along the house. Over the past two years a love affair with wind has been brewing and percolating within me. I feel as if she comes to my house for visits. Sometimes a loud and rambunctious toddler, rattling my crib for attention, while at other times, so soft it’s as if she were a lover. Tonight she is the cloaked traveler asking for a night’s stay and a stable for her pony. There is something mysterious in the night air and a feeling of intensity and anticipation, all the while holding a gentleness as she moves by. I decide I shall call her the Traveling Monk Wind and turn my face more fully into her presence. I feel the air moving past the cells in my body pulling the skies electricity deep into me. There is an alchemy in this moment that hasn’t escaped me.

The rain returns, but the wind does not abate. Things seem more silent, though the sky flashes and the clouds rumble. I really should go to bed, I tell myself, but I linger and then, linger still.

Painting by Albert Beirstradt

Painting by Albert Beirstradt

Lock of Hair

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Flying Buddha & Buddhist Monk: Pinterest

I teach a meditation where you actually intend to think. It’s fairly simple. Once relaxed in a seated position you intentionally recall as many memories from your life as you possibly can. You hold none for more than a second or two, just enough to know what you’re remembering, then you drop it and look for another. One of the purposes of the meditation is to demonstrate there is no thought that can’t be pulled up and dropped just as quickly. That many thoughts, which at one time, had immense emotional charge to them can be picked up and put down as easily as thoughts that have no immediate effect on you at all.

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I practice this meditation often, especially when I find myself giving thoughts more power than they likely deserve. I was engaged in the meditation several months ago when the memory of a shopkeeper I’d worked for in the late seventies came to mind. I hadn’t thought of her in decades and the sudden recall of her brought a wonderful warmth to me. I’ve found things that still possess an emotional charge are always worth exploring. They are magic jars I stumble upon in the back of my mind that possess some understanding about myself. I never stumble onto them unless what they have to give is exactly what I am looking for in that moment. It was obvious her memory struck a cord and so I spent more time thinking of her when the meditation was complete.

Florian hired me for her haute couture dress shop on High Ridge Road when I was sixteen. I was a dirt-under-the-nails tomboy, the daughter of a farm-raised mother with seven children, mostly boys. There was not much attention given to the feminine in my house. Most days my mother was buried under five feet of laundry waiting to be washed and three pounds of spaghetti looking for a pot of boiling water for dinner. To me, Florian was a pink flamingo in my chicken coop life. I knew nothing of high heels or the right baubles for the right occasion, as she’d say. Working for Florian was an education in all things womanly.
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“Don’t slouch, dear. You look more like a sloth than the lovely young woman you are. Stand up and hold your gaze level with anyone’s eyes. Just do it softly, not as if your gunning them down. Think, I see into you, not through you”, she’d school me as she stood in her Evan Piccone suit. I often felt I was in training to be a film star, as there was something a bit larger than life about her. “Never be afraid to look at people or have an opinion. Your ideas are just as interesting and deep and delicious as the next person. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, you should make a life out of using it well.”

Florian taught me to tuck my blouses into my panty hose to avoid shirt wrinkles beneath my skirt. She’d pass on her dress shop wisdom as we worked to set up displays, “You can tell a well-made blouse at a glance by the buttons. If they match the color or the fabric of the blouse, it is likely a more expensive shirt”. A great tip when quickly perusing the Goodwill racks, I’ve found. She had a way of buttoning up a shirt on its hanger that seemed almost Zen to me. She never rushed, even when we were busy. She really enjoyed the clothes she sold and relished their quality. Her focused way of moving through life utterly captivated me.
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Growing up with six siblings everything we did seemed rushed and everything we owned looked a decade old within a month of its purchase. Florian cared for things that would be intimately connected to her body as a gardener might tend her roses. When I think back on how fascinated I was by her style I realize she was my first Zen master. I had to slow down and breathe to keep up with her. She taught me to think of myself with reverence and care. That what touched my body should feel good to me and make me feel good about myself.
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I’d watch her walk down the center of the shop, moving with the grace of a swan, her arm aloft lazily, as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. I’d mimic her stance in the employee bathroom as I practiced different ways of seeing myself, other than the poor, awkward teenager I’d always thought I was.

“A little blush to the chin, nose and forehead make for a more natural appearance”, she’d note, as she applied her makeup meticulously. “Makeup is meant to enhance your beauty, not mask it.” She offered me her compact once and I practiced applying foundation. Another time I laid the eyebrow pencil too heavily and she called me Groucho Marx for a week. I wasn’t simply fond of her, I loved her and how beautiful she made me feel about myself. She had no children and I was as feral as a cat when I first came to work with her. When I look at the timing of our meeting I realize it was as perfect as one of her cashmere sweaters.
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Women flocked to her dress shop to partake not only of her clothes but her special joie de vivre. My home life, post my parent’s divorce, was a rocky place to be. Florian provided me a stable and very feminine haven that I would allow few other adults, at that time, to give me.

“Spend your money on classic pieces”, she’d advise as she held a pencil thin skirt in front of her before the mirror. “They’ll last a long time and you can get away with cheap trendy stuff thrown in for flare and style.” When the shop was slow she’d pick out an outfit and have me try it on. It was the supreme game of dress up. I don’t think I was comfortable being a girl most of the time. I spent more time acting like a boy, so to this tutelage I arrived like a fat sponge. I took everything she’d give me. Though, in looking back, I see now what I wanted more than anything was her confidence as much as her panache. She commanded a room even when that room was teeming with people who had demands.
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I looked her up on the internet after these musings, but only found her obit. A wave of nostalgia mixed with sadness rolled over me; like the passing of a great silver screen icon of old. Not very old, just my silver screen old.

We often think of meditation as escaping our thinking and separating our spirit from our human history. I have never found much richness in that. For me, meditation has taught me not to fear my thoughts or anything in my life. Not to be afraid to let my story rise and fall like flotsam on the ocean, for inside my thoughts are many of the stories I am using to create myself. Some of these stories serve me, while others do not. Meditation allows me to discern what to let go of and what to keep. Florian is a story that serves me, I think, as I lazily tuck a lock of hair behind my ear.

 

This piece was inspired by an exercise sponsored by blogger, Holistic Wayfarer on memories of our past that can be found at https://holisticwayfarer.com/2016/03/31/bonjour-texas-summer-1966/

Some wonderful pieces worth a read, I promise. 

Double-U Trifecta

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


I stand in the parking lot and let the wind and snow penetrate my clothes. I think of standing at bus stops as a kid waiting on the bus for school or trudging home from after-school jobs because my mother forgot to pick me up. She wasn’t mean, just a little ADD and most certainly not on time for a single event in her life. She’d always say, “There you are!” as if she’d been looking for me a good while or naturally expected me to arrive out of thin air.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


It’s occurred to me, of late, that my problems as they relate to the notion of waiting really do stem from this. Years of waiting for my mother to be ready to leave or to show up. I’m not blaming her now. Just aware where this whole crazy waiting bus got started.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


Christianity, as a rule, teaches a lot of waiting, too. Waiting to be worthy for things, waiting on God’s good graces to slide your way. Not knocking the Christians either. Like my mother who got her “waiting” from somewhere else, then passed it on to me, the Christians have been passing it along, too. The rolling wave of work hard, worthiness and waiting. A ‘Double-U” trifecta that forms the worst sort of box. Always feeling like you have to prove yourself somehow. Push more, demonstrate more, work harder, than wait for that tipping scale when your worthiness reaches some magical goodness quotient and all that you strive for will arrive.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


As I stand and feel the snow beginning to cover my lashes it occurs to me I shall let this wind take these old notions out to sea. They no longer serve me. The whip has cracked long enough at my back. The old beggar woman inside of me is finally turning to dust on this gale. How absolutely lovely to know that. Really know it down deep somewhere near my solar plexus. Like a winter sun suddenly pulsating into a white wind.

Now… ah, now, to live it.

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

Hungry to be Ptolemy

Copyright: Tartu Observatory Virtual Museum

Copyright: Tartu Observatory Virtual Museum

I stand in my driveway for a few minutes each morning looking out at the night sky. On my iPad is an app, Star Walk that I can put up to the sky and it will identify each constellation. I have loved staring at the stars but have never really known what the various night forms are, and so have taken to trying to find them. I marvel at their names, Ophiuchus, Serpens Caput, Centaurus, Bootes, Corona Borealis, and Hercules. So much magic and myth in each name. The map above is of the sky as I saw it this morning: Scorpius, Lupus, Sagittarius, and Corona Australis. “Look who watched over my home this night”, I think to myself.

zenandpi.com

zenandpi.com

This is how our ancestors saw the night sky. A cast of characters galloping across the firmament each night. Each one part of a larger story, part of a mystical journey each of us could partake, if we chose. Or we could look upon the third brightest star in the Northern hemisphere, Arcturus glimmering in the night sky and know from that brilliant light erupts Bootes, the Plowman, first cataloged by Ptolemy in the 2nd Century. There isn’t just stars floating up there, but histories and stories and ancient mariners or philosophers charting unknown lands.

Richard D. Serros: www.serrosstudios.com

Richard D. Serros: http://www.serrosstudios.com

With all our technological advances and our hunger to know as much as we can, I often think we’ve lost a little of the mystery and wonder at the world and skies around us. We’ve forgotten to tell stories about the curious things we find in plain sight. We’ve lost touch a bit with the magic that looking upon a night sky to see peacocks and lovely, floating maidens can elicit.
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We focus so keenly on the day ahead, we forget all around us is beauty and mystery that could alter our entire day if we would pause only briefly to look up and know a king’s crown or a great hero of old hangs gracefully there.
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sagittarius-constellation

Our lives are not ground to salt by our labors. We lose the luster and vibrancy in living when we won’t take our eyes off our labors to see the marvels that exist effortlessly around us. Life dulls under the weight of brooding instead of delight in something extraordinary as a single crocus pushing up through snow or the wonder that comes from gazing upon Betelgeuse in Orion’s belt. When we release the need to stare at our troubles and turn our gaze upon the beauty that simply awaits our notice life becomes so much easier to bear, so much easier to awaken to each day, so much more fun to really live.
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Birthdays and Fire Monkeys

seerseekersayersage.blogspot.com

seerseekersayersage.blogspot.com

Being my birthday, I decided to reflect today on what I wish this year to be for me. What I’d like to open up more in my life and what seeds I’d like to plant and see come to fruition? Earlier this week we celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey. This is the Chinese year whose focus is about letting go, shaking things up a bit and transformation. It bodes of possible chaos, tumultuous turn arounds and the need to go with the flow more than anything else. I suspect for many of us we’re thinking, “Wasn’t that the last five years?”
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One of the key notes for the year is letting go of things you’ve held onto for too long. There’s that part of my mind that wants to rise up with, “Ugh more personal work. More changing things and less having fun.” But I thought, “How often have I cleaned out my closets and gone to the Salvation Army with all that I’ve collected and felt that awesome feeling of release? How wonderful it’s been to come back home and see all that space now available for something new. How much more lies within me I could jettison for that delicious feeling of release. That wonder at what new might come in.”
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Maybe that’s the trick of this year. The monkey antics we need to embrace. Instead of feeling daunted by work, see ourselves as wild chimps tossing things out of our tree. Swinging from vines and laughing uproariously at what we thought was so important. Maybe the story is not one of chaos and turmoil, but stepping into the wild dance that is unfathomable and letting ourselves go with it.
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So this is my Fire Monkey Chant for today and all the year long:

Bring me storms and bring me rain
Bring me flash floods that wash away my dams
Bring me turmoil that exposes my tenderness
Bring me chaos that shows me my stillness
Bring unexpected turns that I fly around, a monkey girl on her tree
Bring me exposure that I might laugh at what I did not see
Bring me whip cream pies in the face and slips on banana peels
Bring me surprises that I might remember this is all such a wondrous farce
Bring me chimps, macaques and marmosets, sniggering giddily at my flaws
Bring it all down on me until I cannot help but laugh.
Bring me so much that I laugh and laugh until my belly hurts.
Bring me storms and bring me rain.
Bring me flash floods that wash away my dams.
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Bring me the Red Fire Monkey Year that I am left at the end, completely changed, for this is what I wish for my birthday this year. The chance at an adventure that leaves me empty and entirely new.

Peace of Snow

Bird Eagle Snowfall

Bird Eagle Snowfall


The silence pulls me and I offer no resistance. The flakes swirl past the window and I could fall forward, Alice down the rabbit hole. I was born in winter. My name conjures up winter, my colors are winter, my very nose smells the scent of it a month before it arrives. Everything about it fuels my engines and releases me from a thousand worries. I cannot explain it. Winter heals me. Snow invigorates everything I love within myself.
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I sit watching the snow fall now, thick and dense. The world of human chaos comes down with it. The streets empty and the store fronts close. Mother Nature calls all to home, soup to the stove and a fire burning steadily into the night.

miradna.com

miradna.com

This is the peace of snow.

A Hole in Me Pocket

Clement Park at dusk: Photo by Noelle

Clement Park at dusk: Photo by Noelle

I most certainly have a hole in me pocket. Every day I am full of time, but before I know it half of it is gone out a hole in me pocket. I stitch the blasted thing up, but the next afternoon I find myself in the same straits. Too much to do and not enough time to do it in. For someone who praises peace and breathing room this damn hole is most bothersome indeed.

It seems no small irony that all of our technological advances were intended to give us time and yet I feel more robbed by them every day. I was reading an article about the Greek isle of Ikaria. The New York Times dubbed it the place where people forget to die. They have an extraordinary number of octogenarians. They say their lifestyle hasn’t changed in a hundred years. They walk everywhere and garden. They remain connected to their faith and dine on fresh food and good wine. They never hurry. They sit in the sun without sunblock. They laugh a lot. This story plays itself out in Okinawa, Japan, too. People bike and carry their own groceries, and eat fresh food each day. They stay connected to their passions and talents. They breathe slower and speak less of troubles.

Autumn Leaf: Photo by Noelle

Autumn Leaf: Photo by Noelle

John Muir wrote in 1912, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” I wonder how such a man as this was not the most guiding force in our country’s evolution? How did we get money and busyness confused with the acquisition of peace and contentment?

There is a deep lesson here I don’t want to forget. Something that moves me about laughter and sitting in the sun. How much do I really need to get done everyday? Who is cracking this whip? What would happen if I planted something and sang to it, rather than worried about what was on my schedule? What would happen if I consciously found ways to step outside the machine?

I feel I might find others and there would be wine with some good cheese, time spent gazing at the horizon, all enjoyed after a lovely, scenic bike ride. I think this might be true. I think there are others like me wanting to feel dirt on the bottom of their feet.

Bike trail, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle

Bike trail, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle