I read an article recently that recommended walking with bare feet. I’ve been dutifully trotting outside each morning while I wait for my coffee to brew and walking on the little gravel patch on the side of the house.
Back and forth. Bare legs. Bare arms. Bare feet.
The rocks are hard and cold on my tender feet. It hurts. I feel the nerves in my legs responding and muscles contracting. I feel where I am unstable and where I overcompensate. It’s fascinating and disturbing but answers some questions about my body. Doing this makes me feel very vulnerable. I become aware of things I need to change and of the temporal nature of life. It’s also making me feel stronger and more alive, day by day.
Last winter, I was leading writing workshops in a women’s homeless shelter. I was going through some papers recently and found this free write I did with the women using the prompt, “What I love about myself”. I wrote this on 1/9/15 and decided to post it because it feels good to read it. I like feeling good.
What I love about myself is my smile, so frequent and genuine.
I love the thunderous laughter that comes in waves and echoes in my children’s hearts.
Today’s randomly-chosen word is Artemisia as in the Warrior Queen and comes from The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. I really love that my finger landed on this name rather than a more mundane word because I love her story! In fact, I might weave her story into the play I’m writing with my daughter. This has been the biggest gift of the Bricolage Project thus far: Not only allowing me to stretch creatively but also helping me see how my gifts, interests, and the mysterious synchronicities in life are woven together, how they inform one another.
Today’s post is informed by writing this at 1:30 this morning:
I awakened from a dream. No, I was the dream. I awakened with blood between my legs but didn’t want to get up. I wanted to feel it there. This could be my last blood. It has been three months since my last. I want to cherish it. Put it in a cup. Paint with it. Feel its stickiness on my fingers. Smell it.
So I drifted back to sleep and began to hear their voices. The voice of my friend Courtnee talking about women who are losing their lives and having their fertility taken from them shortly after their first blood. She was like a wraith in my dream. Haunting but not unwelcome.
In my dream I go upstairs and encounter a woman who was coming out of our bathroom. I know her from work and she talks about how important it is that we talk about all of it as women—all of our bodily functions including our bleeding time. That we need to be acknowledged for our earthiness.
I know this is in response to him saying he thinks women should hide things like farts and burps, that’s it’s not “feminine”. Fuck that noise. I’m not interesting in hiding parts of myself.
I woke up again a few hours later with more blood pooled underneath me. Yes, I’m writing about this because it’s a beautiful part of my life and my heritage and I truly will miss it when it’s gone. Maybe it’s shameless. Maybe I don’t care.
Shame is pretty overrated.
When I ended up choosing the word Artemisia this morning and reading about her I thought about how it must have been for her, a warrior queen, to be commanding a ship. Her fierce heart but soft body with a moon cycle to deal with. Did she also wake up in a pool of blood? How did she handle it? I feel so connected to women and to the earth when I’m bleeding and, as my therapist pointed out this afternoon, it’s also a beautiful reminder of the gift of giving birth to two beautiful girls.
This piece is an assemblage that uses a page from a sketchbook that I created in Larry Calkins’ class at Pratt several years ago and some more recent items including a perfect crow feather I found while walking to therapy today and this morning’s fresh blood.
Today’s quote comes from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés from her audiobook Seeing in the Dark. I was listening to it in the quiet of the morning today and realized it contains the intention of this piece and the entire Bricolage Project quite well:
“For most artists, they do create out of angst but they don’t sit in the complaint and the condemnation. They create their way of out if they draw it, they paint it, they write it about it, they dance it, they sculpt it, they do any number of things to express what has happened…so that others will be protected and healed also. That is one of the greatest ideas that I know behind the creative force is that you use every disappointment…everything is used to create from. Taking all that is in shadow or the feelings that we don’t belong.
Of course we belong. Of course we can create out of darkness.”
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 patch 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.
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.
breaking with tradition. breaking up. breaking hearts. breaking old habits. break dancing. breakfast. breaking a pattern. give me a break. breaking.
Breaking is a delightful word for the creative process and for life in general. Whether it’s a relationship, a day, an outworn routine or something else, it’s good to impose a break from time to time and rethink what we’re doing. Giving space can make a huge difference in outcome. Even just the space of a breath can help us get centered and help us respond instead of react to life.
I’ve done a bit of breaking of late. I deleted my personal Facebook account a couple of days ago which is helping me really see how much my brain had become trained to think about life in relation to social media. In a few, short days, the context has changed and I’m already thinking differently. I can’t recommend this enough. It’s much more peaceful here.
Breaking away from him. Lovely gent but not the right fit. (Wow, is that getting easier!)
I’m also breaking away from what I’ve been doing for today’s bricolage. It’s a photo collage that I took during breakfast at Cafe Racer today. There was live music–at breakfast. People drinking at the bar, an old dog was lazing around and begging for food, and the walls were lined with bad art and sad clowns. Perfect for a rainy Sunday.
Today’s quote is from Marilyn Monroe. It’s a bit non-sequiter but I adore it so it stays:
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
Just ran across that quote but I feel like I could have written it. I’ll take ridiculous over boring any day.
What are you breaking away from or ready to break away from in your life?
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