Archives for February 2013

Expansion & Contraction

I look out of my office and see the grooves in the floor. I want to lie down. Allow the tops of my feet, thighs, stomach, breasts, my palms, my left cheek, my ear to rest on the boards that have been here since 1951. There is story to share.

Flooring needs to acclimate to its environment. It’s called acclimation. It prevents excessive expansion or contraction.
Expansion and contraction.knotted history
Expansion and contraction.
Wood floors expand and contract.
They need space to allow for movement.
They are alive.

I’ve stripped through many layers of polish and shine to come to the original tongue and groove wood panels that are at my foundation. I prefer a natural finish. I want my imperfections to shine as the sunlight streams in through the windows. A nick here, a scar there, knotted flaws. Blemishes contain story.

I can find story anywhere if I choose to see. Choose to pay attention. Choose to feel. Acclimate to the energy that has been left behind. A fingerprint left on a glass coffee table, the red lipstick that stains a favorite tea cup, the faint scent of Tide tumbling in the air as the drier runs. I can be still to feel the pitter-patter of children that grew up on these floors, feel their bumps and bruises, knees, shins, hearts scraped, scarred, broken and healed.

When we first moved into the house I felt the history. I wondered if one day I’d greet Bill in a bouffant do and white ruffled apron over a yellow fitted blouse and full skirt. The smell of his dinner warming in the O’Keefe and Merritt oven, some sort of a casserole baking with broccoli, tuna and Campbell’s cream-of-something soup. I’d greet him with a chilled Martini, three olives, little vermouth, ruby lips pursed, “How was your day honey?”

I’ve never made a casserole, but I do greet him with a kiss, smile and the question.

As I look out from my office, I see us grooved into the boards. We have, after nine years in our home, added to its history.

We’ve acclimated to the house. Like the wood floors did when they first settled in 1951, we settled ourselves in here, happy, in 2004. One day another couple will settle in after we’ve left. They’ll swirl themselves into our spirits and the spirits of those that have come before.

We are pieces of wood. We expand and contract.  We are boards in a floor, placed together, tongue and groove, to create a patchwork foundation.  We are story.

Moments

 

I saw the color of the earth reflecting off treeshugemoon

and sky and night.

The moon called out to me.

Sun was gone.

Day slept.

I sat wide-eyed.

My heart stopped singing.

Life is still.

It fills itself like a lung or balloon

with air or grief or joy or emptiness.

My self knew this

until the silence rose

like mist

from my chest.

I knew then

each moment mattered

until now.

 

 

 From my upcoming book, to be published soon.

Integration

see the light two catalina

Seeing The Light

Once you know you know. There’s no going back. You’ve opened your eyes and seen a certain kind of light. That’s it. Now you know it’s there. You can’t shield yourself even if you wear dark glasses. The light is there. You know it, the light knows it.  The light is there.

It started after my Dad died. I was 25. His death pushed me out of LA, through England, Whales and Ireland and then to Santa Barbara.

It was during my time in Santa Barbara that I started doing personal growth work. It was more my Mother’s choice than mine. I’d journey to LA on weekends to sit with a group, cross legged, hearts open, minds open, ears open and we’d take the dive into ourselves. For seventeen years I sat in this group learning about myself, diving in, fishing and digging and pulling, prodding, tearing, expanding, shrinking and expanding again, all the while, breathing. I was cultivating a practice and I didn’t even know it. I mean I knew it intellectually, our facilitators told us, but I wasn’t integrating this practice into my life.

Instead, the practice was shadowing me. She kept her distance. She would follow me back to Santa Barbara, take a seat a few bar stools over and observe as smoke circled above us. My tequila kept me distant and warm.

I didn’t fight against her but I also didn’t turn completely toward her either. Instead I let her trail behind me.

shadowself

Shadowing Myself

At 28 I was straddling two worlds, a world that was being built in awareness and one that was anchored in too many men and too many late nights and too many white lines.

I remember the day when those two worlds collided.

I was sitting on the curb outside of his house. He, M, was sitting next to me. I was crying.

“You’re a big fat liar!” I said. I knew he wasn’t a liar, he always told me the truth. I knew about most all of the other women he dated, I knew that I wasn’t someone he brought out in public, I knew we were an on-again-off-again-not-really-a-relationship-at-all relationship. I was just pissed about it.

“No I’m not”, he said. He was laughing at me.

“I’m in love with you and you don’t even care!” I said.

It was a few hours later that something hit me. BOOM. We were lying in bed after sex. I was jerked upright and I grabbed the sheet, pulled it to my chest and smiled.

“Oh My God!” I said.

“What?” he said. He sat up, moved a pillow behind him and leaned back against the wall. He turned to look at me. “What is it?”

Whenever I was with him, it was as if time stood still. I could escape my life and rent his for a while. I would go over to his one bedroom apartment on the second floor of the Victorian house and disappear.  I used to say, “I love how no one knows where I am right now except us.” We’d spend a day or two at most tripping around Santa Barbara, going from one bar to another.  Once we even drove up to the top of Gibralter where he surprised me with a picnic of champagne, grapes, cheese and crackers.  We made love, watched the sunset and drank our champagne. The light went on that afternoon, as the slid out of the room.  I breathed in and inhaled the sensations, reactions, moods, and feelings of the women who had been there before me. I had absorbed a little bit of Lisa, Wendy, Beverly, Karen, Missy, the hairdresser we called ‘Squishy’, the cocktail waitress, the girl that owned that restaurant, the crazy girl that jumped off the booze cruise for no apparent reason and the girl that was afraid of wind.Even the women I didn’t know about, they were there too and I drew them in and expanded.

“Oh my God! I’m going to be so over you one day.” I said. I was giddy with excitement. “I can stop beating myself up. I don’t even have to worry about how or why or when. It’s just going to happen. So in the meantime, why beat up on myself?” I took a deep breath in. I exhaled. “Wow, I feel so good. Like a weight has been lifted.”

“Gee thanks,” he said.

“No, thank you.” I said. I reached over, kissed his cheek, got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Now, looking back at that moment I realize it was about more than just us. That moment was about integration. That moment is the moment I turned toward my shadow.

We ARE Married 10 26 03-1Life unfolds.  We don’t have to work so hard. All we have to do is believe. I didn’t try and get over him, I just did. I didn’t try and integrate a practice into my life, I just did.  I didn’t try. I wanted, I desired, I believed, I received.

By the way, we are still great friends. He and his wife were at our wedding. To this day, I joke with him.

“You had your chance,” I say. And we laugh.

Trying Too Hard

 

I’ve tried too hard
only to watch
everything I’ve tried too hard for
fall apart.
Each brick I’ve tried too hardbrick wall
to lay just so
on the brick
Before it,
falls.
Topples to the ground
in a cloud of dust
which I then
try too hard to clean up
so as not to leave
evidence of my crime.

 

footprints in sandBut there is always evidence
a foot print left
in the soft sand
a wave can’t wash away
a streak of dirt on a window
an over-worked rag will smear
a dried leaf
dropped from a dying plant
left ignored in the corner
of a room.

 

I’ve tried too hard
to be right,
to hide my truth
clenched in my fist.
I watch her
push against
the bars
trying to wriggle
herself free
as she gulps
for air.

Until one day
I remember
to stopsoft focus
to listen
to open
and welcome
the whisper
before she
has to scream.

Now, when I look out and
watch others trying too hard,
I can see me.
My lens is more focused
and less accurate,
I know, it’s what,
an oxymoron,
like a hard pillow or
a tender arrow.

It’s true though,
I am more focused,
just softer.