The Summer We Waited

Waiting, c. Pamela Goode

Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow ~ T.S. Eliot

Am I going to fail my Zen test because I can’t love the shadow? I’m trying, really I am. I know good things will come, that fruition takes time, but . . . .  Good things come to he who waits is, I’m sorry, crap. Sitting around waiting never got anyone anywhere.  Good things come to those who DO.  But . . . do what? Where do you go when there’s nowhere to go?

I hate waiting. Of course this is a pointless comment — does anyone like waiting? Waiting eats our time, our patience, our resolve, our certainty, our energy. Waiting sucks, quite literally, and I am sucked out.

The spring seemed (was) rife with possibilities. I worked to schedule my time to accommodate them all, made lists and guides and proposals, gathered supplies and references, made contacts  and pursued leads. And then I moved on to take care of everything else — all the things that don’t wait while we’re waiting.

And it was good, but then . . . nothing.

Patience, patience, all good things take time. Deadlines pass. Excuses made. New deadlines created that will then pass and more waiting, more setting aside new chunks of more focused time to complete what you offered to committed to wanted to complete even though the game keeps changing. And the waiting gets a little less enchanting, a little less hopeful, a little less patient.

I fully believe that for change to occur, we must make the space for it. We must empty ourselves of pre-conceived ideas, old habits, tired ways, and the blindness born of always seeing things in the same fashion. But even being open to change isn’t enough — we have to empty the closets if we want change to stay for a while. But how long do you wait? How long to you wait and believe, with that damn shadow pulling out every sneaky trick in the book to become your new best friend? At what point will I morph from the being-who-welcomes-my-full-destiny to the-lady-with-so-much-time-that-she’s-making-macaroni-mosaics?

Too-abundant and so-rarely-productive surplus of time, I hate you. I want to love you, but I don’t. I want what I’ve worked for, and I want it now. Or even tomorrow, but I’ve had it up to here with this flapping in the breeze.

It’s a funny thing about waiting. Funny in that f***you sort of way. Because in the interim, time does what times does best: it changes us. Not the change we planned for hoped for made space for welcomed, but in some Other way, a way that’s a bit harder to pinpoint, speaking with a softer voice and holding out a very blurry map, but helping herself to my closet space nonetheless.

*This is not the post I meant to write, but this is the post that came out. I meant to point you toward my two newest blogs (that’s what too much time will get you): Wild Hair Adventures, a compilation of my travel essays and photographs (toddler stage), and Ormolulu, a blog to celebrate junking excursions (still quite an infant). Hope you like.


the world is topsy turvy on me now
and i am left to wonder
if my center is askew
or simply old
and hardened,
and seeing these new days with eyes
unable or unwilling
to adjust
from my accustomed way
of watching doing caring.
asking soft if i will need to (want to) (or be able to)
re-right (rewrite)
myself ,
or if the universe
will find her quiet balance
at last.
or maybe
we will both fly off our axes
the twinkly

I Can’t Believe I Ate the . . .

It’s cold. Not as cold as it is at my sister’s, with a wind chill in single digits and 49 mph gusts of other-people’s-trash, and not as cold as it is for friends in Edmonton, Alberta, due to hit -25 on Wednesday, and certainly not as cold as the -80 recorded in Alaska in 1971. We won’t even talk about Antarctica, because no one is intended to live in that sort of frozen perpetuity.  But I am cold, nonetheless, and it’s the sort of cold that triggers the hunched-shoulder-body-tensing daylong headaches. Unpleasant for me and a bitchiness-breeder that haunts my husband, but cured rather nicely by hot tea with honey, languid baths, and browsing wildflower catalogues. However, there’s one winter reflex that I find more difficult to control. Continue reading

Happy . . . Something

RascalIt’s my favorite season of the year, and I’m speechless. I used to carry on in December with a twinkly grin and a ready, “Merry Christmas!”, one of the few times of the year when I didn’t have to depend on faulty hearing to know what people were saying, because everyone was simply wishing you happiness, family, and sharing. Now, older certainly and wiser mostly, I just smile and nod. I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel good. Continue reading

Big Ole Polkie Dots

I’m smack mad in love with those big ole polkie dots. Mondo, I loved you with the black and whites, I loved you with the magentas and the toucan yellows, and I loved you with the little ball hats, but those polkies have my heart forever.

When I think of polka dots, I think of two things: little girls in first dresses, and Julia Roberts at the horse races, looking fabulous and screaming like a sailor. What these images have in common is deceptively simple: truth. The cool thing about children is that  children are ALWAYS who they are — and in this instance, so is the Pretty Woman. This is what we lose as we “grow up”, and Mondo wants to hand it back to us. I’m so ready!
Overwhelmingly, my friends say they love the dress, but couldn’t wear it. 1) Polka dots are for children. 2) Big polka dots are funny looking. 3) I’ll look fat.
1) Yes. 2) Yes.  3) Probably.  4) And I’m gonna feel damn good reconnecting with my inner child, giggling at the giant polkies, and, well, in this Age of McDonalds, doesn’t everything make me look fat?
In truth, very few people could pull off Mondo’s clothes. BUT his clothes have a spirit, a soul, and a philosophical point of view that we, as women, often desperately need, and that is that we need to get WAY past worrying what’s “appropriate”, what our color is, who’s saying we look trashy behind our backs, wear we shop, whose name is on our label, whether we’re too old or too top heavy to wear x, and give ourselves the freedom to let go and have a little fun from time to time. When I hit 40 and had a yearlong meltdown, I stopped caring what other people thought, and one of the ways I reminded myself of that on a daily basis was through my clothes. It was a HUGE awakening for me, and I love Mondo for saying “be who you are and have fun when you can, cause there’s a lot of bad stuff in the world.”
Viva la Big Ole Polkie!

The Power of Thought

I was sitting on the Duke quad quite a few years ago when a guy in a black trench coat walked up and sat down beside me. I recognized him from my Philosophy class, but we had never spoken and I didn’t know his name. He asked me out. Continue reading

Be Still

Stillness is not my forte. Unusually still and silent as a child, I’ve been wiggling my way through life since adulthood. But travel is a mind shift for me, and after days of battering by sea and air, my thoughts are quieting to something like stillness, and not a little bit of awe. Continue reading

A Very Unusual Day

Okay, so it’s Tuesday, and clearly a twofer is indicated. But I ask you, where does it end?

Last night my brother and I sat on the porch looking at stars. I was thrilled to pick out my first red star, Antares, which we easily identified with a handy app on his IPad. Way cool. Making my way around some rocking chairs to approach the railing, both feet caught on a large — very large — wooden door stop attached at an angle on the porch floor. Over I keeled, creating a perfect arc and landing on my face. Banged, scraped, egg-knotted, and bleeding lightly, I clamored up over a rocker and continued the star search, then crawled into bed and emailed Vernon about my starry night.

This morning I happened upon Emma Biggs’ fabulous blog . . . detailing a nearly identical fall, sadly with a great deal more damage than mine (heal quickly Emma!). Then an email from Vernon, startled that the very next communication in his morning queue after my star tale is a slideshow on stars and the Hubble telescope. I then check Facebook. Within my first eight status updates, two mention heading out to the garden, and two more mention picking up a car from the repair shop. Okay, this is getting fun. More fun for me than for Vernon, who is headed off for TWO dental appointments.

I take a long walk on the beach, mulling over whether to turn my eyes upward or toward the sand, composing a few humorous lines about jellyfish carcasses vs the danger of overhead seagulls.

On my way to the farm stand before lunch, I wonder about the tradition of intuitive naming in Native American and Buddhist traditions — at that moment the radio announcer utters the word “Buddhism.”

Back on the beach, I’m getting excited about my thoughts manifesting, and settle back in my chair with closed eyes to follow where my mind leads. I feel a heavy drop of “rain” splash on my right shoulder, and open my eyes to see that the “rain” is white. Okay, 55 years, and I’ve never once been shit on by a seagull, or any bird for that matter, and suddenly it happens less than an hour after I think it?

Now of course I’m wondering why I can’t manifest an art sale or commission . . . when my cell phone rings. It’s a writer out of Minnesota, and she wants to interview me for an article on artists in the SouthEast . . . .

I’m excited about tomorrow.

Oh, and by the way, the dog above is a freebie. I saw him on my beach walk and liked the way he sat on his private island in the sun. I haven’t found the other half of his story yet, but it won’t surprise me.

Promises to Keep

I am, these days, a poster child for depression: unwashed, unclothed, unkempt, unmotivated. But strangely not depressed. Well, maybe a little, but it’s more an easing, an inching, a cautious seepage toward the new, the unknown (and frankly unwanted).

Change in the New Year is, of course, so largely mythical. And yet sometimes change doesn’t need to be tangible to be real. The symbolism alone can be crippling.

I don’t do change well. I don’t go to bed well. I don’t get up well. Don’t like to get in the shower; don’t like to get out of the shower. I love life, but the segue between episodes can throw me into a dither.

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow./I learn by going where I have to go.” Theodore Roethke’s tenuous broachings became a mantra when I traveled through Greece alone for three weeks, knowing no one, not speaking the language. I was forty-two, coming out of a dark place in the midst of a charmed life, and those words have worked magic on me ever since.

And so you will find me at the start of every new year, poised for the weeks-long morning of pajamas, tea and fire, short of words but long on the silent questioning dance with whomever lives inside me.

And it will lead me along the long road home, toward those promises I keep . . . but slowly. Have patience.

And yet, as changes go, this year will bring some of the largest for me: the marriage of my firstborn, the college graduation and home-leaving of my baby, the declining health of my sole remaining parent, the impending cross-country move of my son, two very grand art achievements, the tearful closing of Ciel Gallery, an intense two-year labor of love, and decisions about my path from here. Pajamas and tea, indeed.

I recognize, of course, that change, even dreaded change, often brings unexpected blessings, and even less blessed changes help us evolve, most often for the better, kicking and screaming attendant. But evolution requires action, a meeting head-on and toe to toe with our hearts on our sleeves and our brains ready to verbalize and vocalize.  Backs straightened, eyes peeled, belts tightened, no shields. I like being a warrior, but I can get pretty whiny when the battle isn’t on my own terms.

But the promises I’ve made will rouse me, stumbling toward Saturday classes, weekend workshops, dinners and swim meets, deadlines, and the occasional requisite cleaning. Every smile will help me loosen the grip on the shield, step into the future, open the heart a bit more. But the goodbyes will never flow as easily as the tears, and I suppose that saline cleansing is part of the plan. So bring it on Life. Almost ready.

“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.”

Bears Do It

The house is de-frocked and the champagne chugged, with leftovers picked apart,  floors de-needled, the last family member waved off, and even the cat has lost interest in the sole remaining pile of boa-fluffed stockings. I celebrated the official end of this holiday season by wearing my pajamas until 4:00 and then, finally bra-ed and tee-shirted, curled into the Big Leather Sofa with my blankie for three hours of CSI Las Vegas. Hibernation Season is upon me.

If January is synonymous with Beginnings, why is it so cold, so drear, so wet, so gray, so solitary, so comfortless? The only reason I can imagine is that the universe conspires to bring us into ourselves to create an internal nest that will warm us, heal us, reinforce us for the year ahead.

I don’t see abundant evidence that the human race is so universally evolved as to view the new year as a time of introspection. Sure we make resolutions, but 90% seem to involve diet and exercise, and a look in any direction provides ample evidence that the healthy eating promise is rarely kept. On New Year’s Eve we’re all eager to ring in a new annum that “can’t be any worse than this year,” and yet we’ll almost certainly be aping the same refrain at the close of 2010. Hope springs eternal, and yet how do we actively intend to put away the old and bring forth the better?

Maybe in the case of new beginnings, we take action through inaction, by curling up like bears turning our bundled backs on the world we’ve known and diving within to seek new possibilities, new paths, new nuts, new berries. I can spend hours staring at a pattern in the carpet, the steam from my tea, or colored chunks of glass awaiting an adhesive. And oddly, it feels good, and it feels good in the same way that finally cleaning the house feels good, or throwing out half of an uneaten sugary candy bar. It feels healthy. And holy.

Here’s wishing you an extra layer of fleece, a log on the fire, and a week’s worth of stew in the crock pot. I’ll be dancing in the streets with the first spring thaw, but for a few more days, bring on the holy. I won’t be answering the phone.