Dharma (the path) — reverb11, day 8

I’m behind, but here is yesterday’s prompt:

Wandering can be good for the over-focused creative. How did you wander well this year?

And for context, here is the blog that I’m responding to:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/december-8–reverb11—dharma-the-path/

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

On my way to a museum in the Twin Cities, I found myself on a bridge in a neighborhood park and discovered a spiderweb museum. It was one of the most fascinating sites I’ve ever encountered. Some of the webs looked like they had been there for years, collecting artifacts along the way. Leaves, moths, and other relics of the “once living” variety were immortalized and perfectly preserved in the spun threads of the 8-legged critters who once inhabited that bridge. I was so captivated that I lingered on that bridge for quite some time, staring at these vestiges of the past. A storm was approaching, and a mist gradually turned into a downpour. But somewhere along the way, I captured this creature in an image that I titled “Last Flight.” Oh, and I did finally make it to the “official” museum, although I had to spend a little time at a retirement home waiting for the rain to subside.

Moth preserved in "Last Flight"

Last Flight

Tranquilo (calm)–reverb11, day 8

Still keeping up with the rever11 challenge:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/december-8–reverb11—tranquilo-calm/ 

Today’s prompt:

Sometimes the most beautiful, memorable moments are also the quietest. What quiet, beautiful moment do you recall?

In the days leading up to Mom’s passing, when she was developing symptoms of sepsis, I was feeling anxious due to being pulled in a million different directions. The most stressful thing was that one of the nurses was giving me a hard time about my decisions concerning Mom’s care, even though we all knew it was in Mom’s best interest. I felt as though I was having to take care of so many people, not just Mom, and it was exhausting. I’m not usually an overly anxious sort of person (or maybe I’m just in denial), so I had to seek out some alternative methods of addressing the turmoil that I was experiencing.

Soon after reading the riot act to this particular nurse, I felt even worse because I don’t like being harsh with people. I didn’t have time to work out that day, but I had about 10 minutes of free time when I stopped by the soup kitchen to drop off some stuff. So I ran up and down a stairwell that few people know about at that church. That helped with the adrenaline, but it didn’t calm me down completely. A little later that day, I had another short break, and I went over to the zen garden outside of the place where I go to yoga. I didn’t have a quiet spot at home because of all the people around, so this garden provided me with the sanctuary that I couldn’t have in my own backyard. I sat and meditated, listening to the chimes blowing in the wind, and centering myself so that I could return home in a better frame of mind. Because this is Texas, it’s not just your regular ol’ run-of-the-mill zen garden. It’s the biggest, zen-iest garden imaginable. I still love it there, although I now can experience tranquility in my own garden. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to surround myself with the silent beauty of this sacred space.

zen garden
There is something amazing about communing with nature. I love it and feel so alive and connected to the universe when I hear the sound of the breeze rustling through the trees, the fresh air around me, and the sun shining down. Add the fragrance of flowers and herbs in bloom, and it’s heavenly.

Quietness is something that I cherish…it’s not just something I thrive on but something I absolutely crave and need. I’m thankful for the solitude of the zen garden when I needed it, and I’m thankful for all the moments of stillness that keep me grounded.

Guru (Teacher): Reverb11, Day 4

With this entry, I’ll be caught up! (At least for a while…)

For those who are just now joining in, I’m trying to get in the habit of blogging regularly by reflecting on the daily questions posted on this blog:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/december-4–reverb11—guru-teacher/ 

December 4th’s prompt is:

What was the most important lesson you learned about yourself in 2011? Was it a sudden epiphany or a gradual realization?

I honestly don’t know how to answer this one. I’ve learned that it’s possible to rediscover parts of myself that seemed to have been lost forever. And parts of myself that have been there all along without my awareness. And that I still have a lot to learn.

Seasons change

Reflecting on 2011, Day 3

Prompted by: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/december-3–reverb11—anicca-change/ 

What did you let go of this year? Whom did you let go?

Might be easier to ask what I did not let go of this year. And in response to what I hold onto, I still cling to the belief that love is the answer. Wait a minute, what was the question?

I let go of myself. My mother, literally as I watched her ashes dancing in the wind and spiritually as I sensed her soul moving on to another realm. My preconceived notions of what life is supposed to look like at the age of 36. Many years ago, I decided that if I wasn’t married and pregnant by the age of 35, I wouldn’t give birth at all. But I have let go of that arbitrary limitation as well. Even more, I’ve let go of the restrictive, societally controlling concept of what a family…or my life…is supposed to look like…or that anyone has the “right” answer.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is pushing down the wall that separates the self from the “other” and reminds us that we are all connected. This isn’t East Berlin. I’m not quite there yet, but hey, I have a few more weeks before the end of the year.

Community

Day 2 of 2011 in Review

Where have you discovered community in 2011? What are the defining characteristics and essential qualities of your tribe?

This prompt was posted here:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/december-2—reverb11—sangha-community/

In a tent built by a homeless couple when they asked, “Would you like to see where we live?”
Marching in protest around the state capital and in the nation’s capital.
In the spaces between my fingers as a child clutched my hand.
Sitting in my mother’s room, surrounded by loved ones as she transitioned out of this world.
Listening to a friend perform a song she composed.
Listening to a friend read from a book he wrote.
Singing. Dancing. Eating. Walking. Smiling. Hugging. Laughing. Crying. Listening. Speaking. With friends and new acquaintances.
Looking into the eyes of someone I’d just met and declaring, “My liberation depends on your liberation.”
Driving in my car catching up with a dear young friend after not seeing her for two weeks.
Standing in the kitchen at the church where I grew up, thanking old friends for a meaningful afternoon.
Exploring the neighborhood with a couple of canines.
Online. Offline.

My tribe is carbon-based. Guess that’s pretty essential. Perhaps.

2011 in review

I’ve decided to start a blog. Time will tell whether I’m disciplined enough to keep up with it, especially considering that I’m two days behind on the catalyst for this entry.

So…a couple of days ago, I encountered a blog that challenged folks to write daily in response to a prompt. For more info, see here:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/december-1—reverb11—palabra-word/

Day 1: Encapsulate your 2011 in one word. Why that word? What would you like your word to be for 2012? Why?

My response:

2011 = liminal

That’s a big word. Here’s what webster.com says:

Definition of LIMINAL

          1:  of or relating to a sensory threshold
          2:  barely perceptible
          3:  of, relating to, or being an intermediate state,
                phase, or condition
            : in-between, transitional
              <in the liminal state between life and death
              — Deborah Jowitt>
Origin of LIMINAL

          Latin limin-, limen threshold; First Known Use: 1884

Liminal is the in-between, the not-quite-there but can’t-turn-back. It’s suspension and suspense. It’s standing at the altar but not yet husband-and-wife (or husband-and-husband or wife-and-wife). It’s pregnant, the cocoon waiting to become a butterfly, the seed germinating, the visible air of an exhale on a cold winter day. It’s me typing this blog but not yet clicking “publish.”

This year was a journey in liminality for me. I knew that Mom’s life was coming to an end, and every day felt like a step closer to the inevitable while waiting on hold. It was a time of preparation, reflection, expectation, meditation, rumination.

But it was also a time of action. I had to make major decisions about Mom’s care. And then three months after her passing, I learned that I had to finish my Ph.D. dissertation a lot quicker than I had anticipated. So I moved forward, put my nose to the grindstone, and wrapped up the unfinished business that had been lingering for far too long.

As a result, I’ll be entering this next year in a completely different place than where I was 12 months ago. Last year at this time, I didn’t know what to expect. Guess that’s always the case in many ways, but I certainly couldn’t have foreseen things playing out the way they did. Tying up loose ends has opened up the space and freedom for me to do some exploration this next year, starting with some significant travels.

So where am I headed?

2012 = Transformation

That sounds a lot like 2011 on the surface, but it’s definitely different. 2011 was reactive. Waiting to see what would happen and then responding. Trying to avoid having to make decisions unless absolutely necessary. Hoping that things would just “work out” without me having to own my power in the process and then scrambling to do what needed to be done.

This next year, I commit to being more intentional, proactive, conscious, aware, and thoughtful. I don’t want to run so fast that I don’t savor the journey, but I don’t want to hold back so much that I find myself with diminishing options. It’s a fine balance, one that will require being fully present in the moment and living fearlessly but not recklessly. It’s going to be a lot of fun!