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bricolage project day 19 [be]

Today’s randomly-chosen word is be and comes from The Quantum and the Lotus by Matthieu Ricard & Trinh Xuan Thuan.  It’s a fascinating exploration of the intersection of Western science and Buddhist philosophy.   I cannot more highly recommend this book.  Turns out, I’m in good company:

The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives. —His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Conversations on the nature of life and what it means to be–to exist–are keenly interesting to me.  I personally often find that the world around me shifts somewhat dramatically depending on what I’m focusing on which enhances studies of this type.  The Bricolage Project, with its ephemeral nature, has led me to a greater awareness of my state of being on any given day.  Not surprisingly, when I was out with my friend the other night, he began telling me about his meditation practice, Vipassana.  The word means to “see things as they really are” and the practice is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.  My friend recounted his time of going on a ten-day silent meditation retreat at a local meditation center and told me I would “rock Vipassana” because I have a way of seeing and experiencing things as they are that seems to align with the practice.  As he described spending several days focusing on his nose and upper lip, I found myself thinking of my upper lip and how I love it kissed or sucked on.  Then I looked at my friend’s lip and noticed that he has a kind of beard/soul pMannings Manhattanatch thing but not a mustache.  Then I would switch back to just being aware of the surface area of the lip and noticing my awareness there rather than a vision of it in mind.

Then I took a sip of my Manhattan.

Here’s the thing:  I am a very embodied creature.  I like sex.  I am lusty.  I love the smell of dirt.  I’ve had two babies.  I am a creature of the earth.   Yes, I am certainly the awareness that is poured into this form but they are one, not separate.  I find many spiritual traditions problematic in their rejection of the immanent aspect of life in favor of the transcendent.  To be is to live the embodied life, to feel, to play, to express, not just to notice.  I learned that as a new mother trying to learn how to meditate and walk a spiritual path as a householder.  I was a nursing mother who had to tend to my baby’s needs.  Such is the way of living the embodied life.  Even now, taking ten days off to go on a retreat is not something I can do as a single mother.  My child needs me to be here caring for her.  Motherhood taught me a lot about surrender.  To be is to surrender to the flow of the river of life.  It’s uncontainable and will pull you under and have its way with you.  As Laozi says:

Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.

I once took a Jungian class called The Divine Feminine.  One of the readings, The Unknown She:  Eight Faces of the Emerging Consciousness, penned by our professor, Hilary Hart, is a book of interviews with various modern-day mystics including a woman named Jackie who she quotes as saying:

Listening is an essential aspect of the feminine.  It refers to a dynamic receptivity to the life going on around us, an awareness of our own interconnectedness, and our responsibility to be open to what comes to us.

Feeling into, being with, listening in to the whispers of the world and not trying to make sense of it as much as just allowing it to unfold and flow–that’s what that kind of listening means to me.  Ms. Hart bluntly told me, “It isn’t your job to save the world.  It’s your job to be the power you are in the world.”

I think I’m finally getting a sense of what that means, of what it means to be.  Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.

Note:  The poem I’m reading on the video up there is Darest Thou Now O Soul from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  It’s the poem from the joy! post the other day.  I wasn’t done with it.

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bricolage project day 11 [her]

The word of the day is her randomly chosen from Rob Brezny‘s book Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia.  Oh, how I wish I had the energy tonight to delve into her but alas, it has been a full day.  I will say that I was at a poetry reading tonight at Columbia City Gallery.  My friend, Daemond Arrindell was reading his soulful, permission-giving poetry which moved me to tears.  The woman sitting next to me–a woman I had just met–looked at me tenderly and put her hand quietly on my arm.   I cannot think of a more fitting example of what I think of when when I think of the word her.  Compassion.  Love.  Kindness.  Gentleness.  Ferocity.

Also, when I think of her I think of being a mother and how hard it can be to be both a mother an artist.  As I type this, my daughter keeps chatting with me and and my ex is texting me pictures to show her.  I could say no.  I could hole myself up but in truth, it’s just part of the experience.  My life and my art are often inseparable and, at least in this moment, I’m okay with that.   Apparently, other mothers have faced this.  Austin Kleon wrote a post sharing a bunch of books on art and mothering.  How fabulous!


Today’s quote is from Osho:

All the great artists of the world slowly slowly start growing a quality of feminineness, grace, elegance, exquisiteness. A certain flavor of softness, relaxedness, calmness and quietness surrounds them. They are no longer feverish. What I am teaching here is really to turn the whole world feminine.


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bricolage project day 7 [finding]

your he(art) is ready.

Today’s randomly-chosen word is finding from Awakening the Heroes Within by Carol S. Pearson.  I continue to be intrigued with the words that are coming each day.  I open the book to a random page and point to a word without looking.  Twice, I’ve pointed to a blank page but otherwise, these are the words I’m getting.  The words thus far have been nameless, girlhood, alone, perceived, whimsical, beginnings, and now finding.  Fascinating bits of randomness given the nature of my art and life.


Today’s rule for the art piece is:  No frame.  The frame has been dissolved by the rain falling in my lovely city today and has been replaced by openness,  possibility, and poetry.

rain falling softly

like a lover whispering

“stay right here with me”

Today’s quote is actually a stanza from a poem that I was reading this morning.  The poem is “Ocean Lady” from The Poetry of Pablo Neruda.  I chose it because it stopped me.  Each word is like a little found treasure at the beach that I keep turning over in my heart to see the way time has etched itself on the surface.

Remember: you carry the bird’s heart
in its cage: the debate of wings and song,
so many violins, soaring and flashing.
Gather, gather for me, the sounds and jewels,
until wrapped in air and fire, we voyage
accompanied by the congress of pure harmonies
to morning’s waterfall of shimmering ingots.
And may our love palpitate like a fish in the cold.

Perhaps this catches in my heart because it speaks to the tension I feel related to domestication and my heart’s deep longing for freedom and an embrace of the wild.  The way we have been domesticated doesn’t work for me.  I don’t have tidy hair or any sort of desire to appear respectable or professional to others.  I embrace authenticity and admire it in others.   I don’t aspire to live in the woods but I do have Neruda’s “debate of wings and song” happening at present.

Yesterday, I was introduced to the writing of Jeriah Bowser and his Wildist perspective.  I found his piece Weeds in the Holy Garden: A Wildest Review of the Laudato Si’ to echo many of my own current thoughts about the very real problems we face on this planet and the way that transcendent belief systems are serving to calcify these problems.  My desire to find harmony with life is often thwarted by the degree to which our world becomes increasingly controlled and carved up.  As Mr. Bowser says, “…there is the daily reality of resistance to domestication.”

There’s a teaching story about how a mouse in a cage can wiggle through the bars if it stops eating the cheese.  The question is:  What will it find on the other side of the bars?

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bricolage project day 6 [beginnings]


Today’s randomly chosen word, beginnings, comes from the achingly beautiful book,    Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.  I got the book for my daughter and ended up reading it.  I’m so glad I did.  It’s the kind of story that takes your heart out, squeezes it hard, heals it, and hands it back to you.  I cannot more highly recommend it.  On the cover of the book, it says, “If you’re lost, you might need to swim against the tide.”  Wow, can I relate to that sentiment!  The past many years of being a single mother, going to school, and making my way through the thicket of relationships, healing from childhood trauma, and losing my mother have made me feel very lost at times.  Clarity comes in fits and spurts and often through art and writing.

The art today is 3-D.  Except for the chalk, everything is three dimensional so I can see the shadow.  After viewing the gorgeous Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse a couple of weeks ago, I have been pondering the nature of shadow and light a bit more both within and without. Today’s quote, from Leonardo da Vinci speaks to this:

The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.

That quote echoes what I have felt for a long time about shadow–long before I ever read Carl Jung‘s work–that we are animated by shadow.  You learn that when you sketch.  You feel it in your body when you allow it.  Despite this knowing, I still carry so much judgement at times, especially towards myself.  Judgement and the fears that come along with it can totally paralyze me in moving forwards at times so I’ve been mindfully moving through it.  One of the ways I’ve done that is listening to Tara Brach‘s podcasts of late.  She’s a wonderful teacher with a calm presence that I appreciate.  The most recent one I listened to is Letting Go of Judgement in which she quotes Rainier Marie Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet:

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

Finding the helpless parts of myself that want love is taking a lot of courage and fortitude.  Listening to Ms. Brach’s encouragement to be present with what she calls “aversive judgement” and to look for the layers of vulnerability underneath it makes me realize that this layer is a conditioned response that has been trying to help me.  She says, “It’s not our fault that we’re judging.  It’s really deep in our evolutionary history to sense that something is wrong.”  She calls it a “survival fear” that “mobilizes us for war”.  This idea that we create an “other” that we need to defend against as a layer of programming–of armor–that we can mindfully learn to take off really resonates for me.  I long to love the parts of myself and life that have been hidden underneath that armor.

The armor is too heavy and makes it hard to breathe and swim.  I’ve been living with the intention to swim against that evolutionary tide and into a place that is more loving, a place that comes from higher mind.  It takes consciousness.  It takes an awareness of life as both three dimensional (shadow.  immanence.) and ethereal (light.  transcendence.)  In his notebooks, da Vinci says, “The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.”  So, too, with life.

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an eternal ellipses

she waits with
an eternal ellipses
like still water after a storm

Animus lunges forward toward
her stillness –ready

ready to receive his
turgid embrace

delicious Divine dance
tantric transmutation

they merge
exhaling whispered longing
circling back
to their unknown, unspoken joy

she waits with
an eternal ellipses
like still water after a storm

One of three poems written in response to art for the Poet’s Favorite Tour at the 2014 Seattle Erotic Art Festival