Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vanilla: I Wrote a Letter to Myself

Dear Reader,

I wanted to give you an update on the state of Mean People Who Suck.

They still do.

BUT, the good news is, it is not the buzzing bee in my bonnet tonight. In fact, tonight there are no bees in my bonnet.

You see, I committed two, count 'em...TWO, radical acts of self-care today.

#1: I did not read the Mean Person's criticism about me again.

I could have. It's sitting there in my inbox, taunting me. But I am bigger than some unhappy person's mean email full of yuck.

In fact, there have even been small moments when I have felt compassion for this person. They must be in a whole lotta hurt to be so mean. I mean, they learned this behavior somewhere, right? Parents, friends, spouses, unhappy turns in life...

#2: I wrote myself a letter.

Yup, I did. Because I wanted to hear certain things regarding this situation and the folks I expected or wanted to hear them from weren't bringing it. So I brought it myself.

I wrote a letter to myself saying all the nice, supportive things I wanted to hear.

Here's the kinda crazy bit: it worked.

I felt better. Still do.

Also helped that I awoke to this quote from my second favorite Maya (that would be Angelou) in my inbox today:

"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."

I remain, bruised but not squished,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vanilla: Hafiz to the Rescue!

I opened my book, The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz, like a school girl flipping open a book and reading the page where her finger lands, hoping for a message...exactly like that, as a matter of fact. Looking for some love from my man Hafiz.

And of course, he delivered:

They Call to You to Sing

Stones are longing for what you know.

If they had the graceful movements
Of your feet and tongue,

They would not stop laughing
Between their ecstatic dance steps and unbroken praise.

Your heart beats inside a sacred drum,
Its skin is tanned and stretched -
Our skin is alive and stretched -
With the wild molecules of His Wondrous Existence.

Your mind and eyes are an immense silk cloth
Upon which all your thoughts and movements paint.

Your soul once sat on an easel on my knee.
For ages I have been sketching you
With myriad shapes of sounds and light;

Now awake, dear pilgrim,
With your thousand swaying arms
That need to caress the Sky.

Now awake with your love for the Friend and the Creation,
Help this Old Tavern Sweeper, Hafiz,
To celebrate.

No more enemies from this golden view -
All who have entered this holy mountain cave
Have dropped their shields and swords.

We all cook together around a fire
Our yearning music builds.

We share our tools and instruments and plates;
We are companions on this earth

As the sun and planets are in the sky.
We are all sentries at our sacred humble posts.

The stones and stars envy the movements
Of your legs and tongue
And call to you to sing on their behalf.

The atoms in your cells and limbs are full of wonderful talents;
They dance in the Hidden Choir I conduct.

Don’t sleep tonight, dear pilgrim,
So I can lead you on my white mare to His Summer House.

This love you now have of the Truth
Will never forsake you.

Your joys and sufferings on this arduous path
Are lifting your worn veil like a rising stage curtain

And will surely reveal your Magnificent Self
So that you can guide this world like Hafiz

In the Hidden Choir
God and His friends will forever

Vinegar: Bitter, Bitter Vinegar

Dear Reader

I feel yucky right now. Someone out in the world is discontented and I am the lightening rod for this discontent. Ugh. Blech. Yuck.

Logical Me knows this person is just a mean, horrible, evil person unhappy within themselves - and that this tirade is not all about me. I may play the smallest, teensiest part in it, but really, it's all about this person's own feelings of inadequacy.

Illogical Me just feels really bad.

I feel bad that this person is being mean to me. I feel bad that I am letting this person be mean to me. I feel bad that I am carrying this person's meany bobeeny attitude around with me.

I also feel bad because I was already kind of doubting myself in this area, and now that this pit bull of an unhappy person has decided to bite my ass and hold on I am questioning my right to be in the neighborhood at all, so to speak. There was a time when I felt like I belonged in whatever neighborhood I was in. I didn't doubt myself so much.

Me no likey.

So, as the aspiring enlightened sentient being that I am, I am trying to just sit with this uncomfortable, sad, feeling so that I can let it pass. Like a tornado black cloud on an otherwise beautiful day.

But it's really difficult.

I leave you with two thoughts: 1) Remember, you can always be more kind. 2) Mean people suck.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Poet Friend's New Book!

A Place to Fall Into: Poems

A wonderful poet friend of mine has a new book out - A Place to Fall Into by
Jo-Ann Birch is full of gorgeous poems. She is an absorbing poet with a wonderful sense of humor and the gift of total honesty - both qualities I greatly admire.

I love to listen to Jo-Ann read her work, she has a rich voice and distinctive rhythm, which I can hear so clearly in her written work.

She is also one of the featured poets at this year's In Celebration of the Muse and one of the reasons why I am honored to be a part of this amazing event I have been fortunate enough to attend - and be inspired by - for several years.

I hope you will support an extremely talented local poet by ordering her book...and look for my name in the acknowledgements! ;-)


Friday, February 11, 2011

Vanishing Vanilla: Being Honest

Something is troubling me, Dear Reader.

I received a jury summons a few months ago, and sent in for a postponement. Then I got my second jury summons and figured it would go as it usually does - call in Monday, be told to call back. Call in Tuesday, be told to call back. Call in Wednesday - be dismissed.

Well, long story short, it hasn't gone that way. And here I am, a week later, still in the loop.

But that is not what is troubling me.

What troubles me is that, when I mention jury duty, everyone tells me how to "get out of it." What magic word I can say that will convince the judge or the attorneys that I am nuts, or biased, or not able to give a person a fair hearing.

Now, I work in the area of education, a place where we are supposed to educate the youth - mold them into mature, responsible citizens.

Did you catch that last word, citizens?

How are we doing that if everyone is trying to tell me creative (and some, frankly dishonest) ways to get out of my civic duty? How am I modeling civic responsibility?

Sure, this is a serious case, with serious ramifications, and it will likely take a long time. Time I am sure would be easier spent in my regular job, taking care of my work responsibilities in the manner in which I am accustomed. But is that a valid excuse?

Heaven/God/Fate/Whomever forbid that I myself, or a family member, ever has to sit in front of a jury, but if they do I would rather it be a jury of 12 folks like me - educated, honest, caring, good citizens than just people who were "too stupid to get out of jury duty."

I have been struggling with this for days now - how it seems we all think sitting on a jury has to be the worst way to spend our time. When in reality, this is one of the rights we fight for, one of the tenants of our community that we supposedly honor - the right to a fair and open hearing by a jury of our peers.

I understand the system is flawed - truly, I do. But why give up the little power we have because it is inconvenient? Is this the lesson we want to teach? That it is worth fighting for - this flawed system of ours - but only if it is not inconvenient?

Do I want the message I send to my students to be: "If something inconveniences you, even if it is for the greater good, come up with a good lie to get out of it"?

Because, frankly, I think they have learned that one already.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's flip this _____ !

Dear Reader

This idea of "enough" has got me all riled up. I keep thinking about it. What I have enough of and what I don't have enough of. You know the drill.

So yesterday, as I drove to jury duty and thought of all the things I needed to get done, and what could I get done in there, and how was I going to plan for the substitute and get to the 3 hour meeting I had last night and grab something to eat or maybe a coffee would help my headache since I seem to have a mild case of the flu, and when would I be able to help with my daughter's science project that is due today and I didn't manage to get in any yoga or meditation and I need to get cash for the babysitter....I decided to FLIP THIS BITCH. (Forgive my language, but really, this concept of time and the lack thereof is just that for me - a bitch!)

Just flip it up! What if I have been going about this completely the wrong way.

I am sure you are familiar with the idea that we attract what we believe. If everyday I am telling myself there is not enough time for me to get everything done then, theoretically, I am creating that reality. Not only that, but by stressing about a perceived lack of time then I am choosing to live in a state of stress - rather than grace. Right?

So I began to tell myself, there is enough time. There IS enough time. There IS enough time.

When I finally got out of jury duty, half an hour after the meeting had already started, and got on the freeway realizing I was heading in the bad direction for traffic I told myself, "There is enough time, there is enough time" and lo and behold - it kinda worked.


I managed to get to the meeting in one piece - even after stopping at the school to leave some stuff our for my sub (since I'll be back at jury duty later this morning) and pick up something I needed for the meeting.

There is enough time.

I got home, was able to help with the project [there is enough time] and read a book to the son [there is enough time] before passing into a deep, sound and still sleep [there is enough time].

And this morning, as the time suck swirl began to gain momentum in my head. Stop. Write the post.

There is enough time.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Still Not Enough?

Dear Reader

There is a particular walk I take in a near-by neighborhood. I always enjoy the walk - the houses are gorgeous, perched along the cliffs with an amazing, unobstructed view of the Monterey Bay. I especially love the flowers blossoming and have, on more than one occasion, literally stopped to smell the roses.

Today it felt like spring. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom, their sweet scent floating by from time to time. The birds - so many new voices! - singing to each other and the sun and the blue sky. (Apologies to you living practically anywhere else in the US right now. It's February and it's probably 70 outside as I write.) Just gorgeous! Invigorating!

I love to look at the houses, too. Many different styles perched there on the cliffside - modern, traditional, french provincial, english garden estate...there's even one that looks like a series of monastic cells - with incredible views. I love the smaller, Spanish-style ones with small gardens hidden by low walls, the sound of fountains teasing me as I walk by.

Today I was admiring the reflection of the clouds in the floor to ceiling windows of an older, but well-maintained, house. This house is on a corner lot and has about 5 immense windows looking out across the street to the sea and the mountains across the bay. As I turned the corner I saw the big white sign with basic black text stating the owners' intent to redevelop the property. Not just remodel - in this case the plans are to demolish this perfectly fine house, probably 2500 SF, and build a two-story home, complete with basement and garage, coming in at over 3500 SF.

Now, I don't know anything about these folks, maybe they have a really big family with 5 or 6 school-aged kids who will be running around, and they need 6 bedrooms and 6 or 7 bathrooms. A playroom. A big kitchen. A three car garage.

But, I bet they don't. This is probably a vacation home - as many of the houses in this neighborhood have turned into over the years. Big shiny SUVs in the driveway on long weekends with license plate holders from the Central Valley.

I know I shouldn't judge, and I am responding solely out of pre-concieved notion-ville, but really. Isn't the 3000 SF older house with the killer views enough? You have to make it BIGGER? And TWO stories? and a BASEMENT? For what? all your STUFF?

Yeah, you're right. Maybe if I had, or had grown up with, money like that I would have a different take on how people spend it.

But I like to believe I would buy the small house with the hidden garden and the big backyard. And take the extra millions burning a hole in my brain pocket and work less, travel more and share the wealth.

But that's just me.

Still working on my first million,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vanilla: More Real Vanilla Flavah!!!

Dear Reader,

I am so excited!!!

I have been invited to read on KUSP's The Poetry Show on Sunday, February 27 from 9-10 pm!

This is a really great opportunity and extremely serendipitious.

About 8 years ago my high school boyfriend was murdered, which I heard about on the evening news. I ended up writing about him, and for some reason I boldly submitted the piece to another program on the same station. The piece was accepted and I recorded it for the air. The wonderful woman who produced the show encouraged me to continue to write - and share my work.

I owe her no small debt of gratitude for her encouragement and kind words - she really gave me the confidence to begin to put myself out there. Even though I have written poetry since I was 9 or 10 it took me until I was well into my 30s to even consider sharing my work with anyone - let alone strangers.

Funny, since public reading is now one of my most favorite things to do! The Terror! The Anxiety! The Sweaty Palms! The High!

I totally get off on it.

So, for these reasons, among others, I am SUPER excited to be a part of The Poetry Show and hope that you will listen - either live or to the podcast.

Live and on air,