Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Everything Is Borrowed (The Streets)

Can it seriously be a week since I last posted? - what's up with that?!?

I plead the too-busy-for-words defense - I've said a bazillion times that I lead a very deadline-driven life. Much as I'm trying to scrape some responsibilities/obligations off my proverbial plate, it's just not happening right now... in some cases because I haven't trained/found successors for the jobs I'm attempting to leave - I must get more serious if I want to do things differently...

And I do... but I'm not following through as much as I should (nutrition, exercise, time management, friendships, etc.) - one of my favorite quotes: "insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results". I could go on about all the things I've done (and am continuing to do) wrong - instead I will just say, "own it, Susan!"... then snap out of crazy mode and make it happen...

At the urging of a friend (thanks, F!), I've finally s*bscribed to NPR's Song of the Day, which led me to today's blog post-title tune - it's a bit long for a mantra... but maybe a credo... or an affirmation... or a gospel?... :-)

More on the group/song here - enjoy... and take it to heart...

P.S. SMM here, here, here, here, here and here - whew!

SONG: Everything Is Borrowed by The Streets (YouTube video with lyrics here)...

So much of what delights and troubles you
Happens on a surface
You take for ground.
Your mind thinks your life alone,
Your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor,
Yet it seems that a little below your heart
There houses in you an unknown self
Who prefers the patterns of the dark
And is not persuaded by the eye's affection
Or caught by the flash of thought.

It is a self that enjoys contemplative patience
With all your unfolding expression,
Is never drawn to break into light
Though you entangle yourself in unworthiness
And misjudge what you do and who you are.

It presides within like an evening freedom
That will often see you enchanted by twilight
Without ever recognizing the falling night,
It resembles the under-earth of your visible life:
All you do and say and think is fostered
Deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.

It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
That is not ruffled by disappointment;
It presides in a deeper current of time
Free from the force of cause and sequence
That otherwise shapes your life.

Were it to break forth into day,
Its dark light might quench your mind,
For it knows how your primeval heart
Sisters every cell of your life
To all your known mind would avoid,

Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
Offering you only discrete glimpses
Of how you construct your life.

At times, it will lead you strangely,
Magnetized by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.

It works most resolutely at night
As the poet who draws your dreams,
Creating for you many secret doors,
Decorated with pictures of your hunger;

It has the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to wholesome ease.

QUOTE(S): "Don't be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of." ~ Charles Richards

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." ~ Fr. Alfred D'Souza

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Surrender Dorothy (Cris Williamson)

It's been pretty whirlwind since I last posted - we presented a lovely concert Satuday night for Valentine's Day, with tables (rather than our rows of chairs), candles, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and amazing music. My husband, who has not attended in the four years I've been doing this, came... and stayed... and loved - we went (still on an adrenalin high) with the musicians and a few others friends, to the traditional post-show diner afterwards (Athenian omelet - yum!).

Sunday night found me at a house concert... and the week's been full of deadlines and overwhelmedness and stress (oh, my!) - I did take time out to meet up with my Falcon Ridge friend Mosh, who flies down from the Boston area each February to visit his parents in their condo in Delray Beach. We had a delicious and entertaining dinner (I adore his parents as well), well worth the one-hour drive each way - now I'm back to reality, still dealing with a multitude of obligations, in addition to clearing out clutter to donate to my church's Rummage Sale this weekend...

We sent my mom roses for Valentine's Day, which really lifted her spirits, since she's been dealing with an iron deficiency, having to go to the lab every other day for IV supplements - two steps forward, one back...

My internet was down for a few hours yesterday, reminding me that, despite my attempts, there are many things in life I can't control - I was overdue for a relate, relax, release lesson...

P.S. SMM here and here - it's trains, baby... :-)

This wonderful DailyOm appeared in my e-mail a few days ago - off to find a box now!


There are times when our minds become too full. Our to-do lists, worries, plans, and dreams may be so crowded together in our heads that we don’t have room to think. We may believe that we are somehow taking care of our desires and concerns by keeping them at the forefront of our minds. In maintaining our mental hold on every detail, however, we may actually delay the realization of our dreams and the resolution of our worries because we won’t let them go. At times such as these, we may want to use a surrender box.

A surrender box allows us to let go of our worries and desires so the universe can take care of them for us. We write down what we want or need to happen and then place the note into a box. By writing and placing our thoughts in the box, we are taking action and letting the universe know we need help and are willing to surrender our feelings. We give ourselves permission to not concern ourselves with that problem any longer and trust that the universe is taking care of it. You may even want to decorate your box and place it in a special place. Your surrender box is a sacred container for your worries. Not only do you free up space in your mind by letting go of our worries and desires and dropping them into your surrender box, but you are giving your burden over to a higher power. Once we drop our worries and desires into the surrender box, we free our minds so we can be fully present in each moment.

Surrendering our worries and concerns and placing them in the hands of the universe doesn’t mean that we’ve given up or have been defeated. Instead, we are releasing the realization of our desires and the resolution of our worries and no longer concerning ourselves with their outcomes. It’s always fun to go back and pull the slips of paper out of the box once your requests have been granted. And it’s amazing how quickly problems go away and dreams come true when we finally let go and allow a higher power to help us.

SONG: Surrender Dorothy by Cris Williamson (can't seem to find the lyrics, but scroll down to track 10 for a song sample)

BOOK: Surrender, Dorothy by Meg Wolitzer

POEM: Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

QUOTE: "If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it." ~ Toni Morrison

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two Hearts (Bruce Springsteen)

Dedicated to The One I Love - thanks, honey (he calls me sweetie) for hanging in there with me all these many years... :-)

P.S. SMM...

P.P.S. Check out Google's logo for today... :-)

February 6, 2009
The Dance of Intimacy
Coming Back to Center in a Relationship

Anyone in a long-term relationship knows that the dance of intimacy involves coming together and moving apart. Early in a relationship, intense periods of closeness are important in order to establish the ground of a new union. Just as a sapling needs a lot more attention than a full-grown tree, budding relationships demand time and attention if they are to fully take root. Once they become more established, the individuals in the union begin to turn their attention outward again, to the other parts of their lives that matter, such as work, family, and friendships. This is natural and healthy. Yet, if a long-term relationship is to last, turning towards one another recurrently, with the same curiosity, attention, and nurturance of earlier times, is essential.

In a busy and demanding world full of obligations and opportunities, we sometimes lose track of our primary relationships, thinking they will tend to themselves. We may have the best intentions when we think about how nice it would be to surprise our partner with a gift or establish a weekly date night. Yet somehow, life gets in the way. We may think that our love is strong enough to survive without attention. Yet even mature trees need water and care if they are to thrive.

One of the best ways to nourish a relationship is through communication. If you feel that a distance has grown between you and your partner, you may be able to bridge the gap by sharing how you feel. Do your best to avoid blame and regret. Focus instead on the positive, which is the fact that you want to grow closer together. Sometimes, just acknowledging that there is distance between you has the effect of bringing the relationship into balance. In other cases, more intense effort and attention may be required. You may want to set aside time to talk and come up with solutions together. Remember to have compassion for each other. You’re in the same boat together and trying to maintain the right balance of space and togetherness to keep your relationship healthy and thriving. Express faith and confidence in each other, and enjoy the slow dance of intimacy that can resume between the two of you.

Two Hearts by Bruce Springsteen

Four Letter Word: Invented Correspondence from the Edge of Modern Romance by Joshua Knelman, Rosalind Porter (editors)

POEM: LXXXIX by Pablo Neruda

When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me once more:
I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.
I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you
to sniff the sea's aroma that we loved together,
to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.

I want what I love to continue to live,
and you whom I love and sang above everything else
to continue to flourish, full-flowered:

so that you can reach everything my love directs you to,
so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,
so that everything can learn the reason for my song.

QUOTE: "Love is the way messengers from the mystery tell us things." ~ Rumi

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Ocean of My Heart (Jennings and Keller)

Dedicated to myself (featuring a song written by my dear friend Laurie... who just happens to be playing my concert series this Saturday night... :-)

I've been working very hard on my Word of the Year vow to take care of myself - every day is far from perfect, but I've made progress and I'm becoming the person I want to be. Thanks, heart... lungs... legs... arms... spirit... brain... etc. for hanging in there with me - it will be worth it, I promise...

SONG: The Ocean of My Heart by Jennings and Keller (lyrics unavailable, but you can listen here...)

BOOK: The Answer is Simple...Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit! by Sonia Choquette

POEM: Love after Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come

when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

QUOTE: "Love is love. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love." ~ Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Heart (Lucy Kaplansky)

I'm feeling uncharacteristically out of words this week - lots of deadlines/chores/To-Do's to attend to... and never enough time in which to accomplish...

For now, a Valentine's Day dedication will have to suffice - for my three amazing children-turned-adults... <3

P.S. SMM here and here...

Somehow we must see
through the shimmering cloth
of daily life, its painted,
evasive facings of what to eat,
to wear? Which work
matters? Is a bird more
or less than a man?


There have been people
who helped the world. Named
or not named. They weren't interested
in what might matter,
doubled over as they were
with compassion. Laden
branches, bright rivers.


When a bulb burns out
we just change it--
it's not the bulb we love;
it's the light.

QUOTE: "The heart is not simply suspended in a body but in a culture, a place, a time." ~ Mimi Guarneri

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keep Me in Your Heart (Warren Zevon)

This morning was the funeral and interment of my friend M's mom Phyllis - I of course needed to be there, for myself as well as for the family. My daughter Sarah met up with me, as did our friend R (who introduced me to M about 14 years ago) - my husband and son both had to work, and my other son is away at college 4 hours away, or else they would have been there too...

There are few things more helpless than witnessing another family's grief - we paid our respects before everything started, and then stayed for a lovely service - the highlight for me was when the minister asked if anyone had anything to say... and K (M's daughter) got up to share. She spoke of her grandmother's love of, and aptitude for, crafts... and asked how many people in the room had in their possession anything Phyllis had made - over 90% raised their hands (heartwarming)... and it made me vow that the Santa she gifted to our family many years ago will hold a prominent place of honor for years to come...

Much love to M - may she be surrounded by the love and support of her family and friends during this most difficult time... and beyond...


On Star Maker Machine this week, the theme is 1989... although, since Saturday is Valentine's Day, there was a last-ditch possibility of changing it to Hearts... which was quickly squashed - I figured I could issue myself the Hearts challenge here instead... and, in a two-for-the-price-of-one anarchic/conciliatory move at SMM, all my 1989 songs will include Love in the title (ha!)...

P.S. SMM...

SONG: Keep Me in Your Heart by Warren Zevon

BOOK: Feathers Brush My Heart: True Stories of Mothers Connecting with Their Daughters After Death by Sinclair Browning

POEM: A Rescue by John Updike

Today I wrote some words that will see print.
Maybe they will last "forever," in that
someone will read them, their ink making
a light scratch on his mind, or hers.
I think back with greater satisfaction

upon a yellow bird--a goldfinch?--
that had flown into the garden shed
and could not get out,
battering its wings on the deceptive light
of the dusty, warped-shut window.

Without much reflection, for once, I stepped
to where its panicked heart
was making commotion, the flared wings drumming,
and with clumsy soft hands
pinned it against a pane,
held loosely cupped
this agitated essence of the air,
and through the open door released it,
like a self-flung ball,
to all that lovely perishing outdoors.

QUOTE: "Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains." ~ Kahlil Gibran

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today (Smashing Pumpkins)

February 5, 2009
As Blessed As You Want to Be
The Power Of Staying Positive

Our thoughts are not simply ethereal pieces of information that enter our minds and then disappear. The words and ideas that we think can shape our lives and drive us toward success and happiness or failure and distress. How you think and feel can have a profound effect on your ability to recognize opportunity, how well you perform, and the outcome of the goals that you’ve set for yourself. When you maintain an optimistic outlook and make an effort to harbor only positive thoughts, you begin to create the circumstances conducive to you achieving what you desire. You feel in control and few of life’s challenges seem truly overwhelming because it is in your nature to expect a positive conclusion. An optimistic mind is also an honest one. Staying positive does not mean that you ignore difficulties or disregard limitations. Instead, it means spending time focusing only on the thoughts that are conducive to your well-being and progress.

Positive thinking dramatically increases your chances of success in any endeavor. When you’re sure that you are worthy and that achievement is within your grasp, you start to relax and look for solutions rather than dwelling on problems. You are more likely to imagine positive situations or outcomes and disregard the thoughts related to giving up, failure, or roadblocks. What the mind expects, it finds. If you anticipate joy, good health, happiness, and accomplishment, then you will experience each one. Thinking positively may sound like a simple shift in attention – and it is – but it is a mind-set that must be developed. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, try immediately replacing it with a constructive or optimistic one. With persistence, you can condition your mind to judge fleeting, self-defeating thoughts as inconsequential and dismiss them.

It is within your power to become as happy, content, or successful as you make up your mind to be. Staying positive may not have an immediate effect on your situation, but it will likely have a profound and instantaneous effect on your mood and the quality of your experiences. In order for positive thinking to change your life, it must become your predominant mind-set. Once you are committed to embracing positive thinking, you’ll start believing that everything that you want is within your grasp.


My friend Melanie noticed (and dropped me an e-mail about) the new Day 1 logo on the right sidebar of my blog - my response to her:

"Rather than beating myself up (Day One... again... sigh), I'm going to start being grateful for the opportunity (Day One... again... yay!) to do it differently - I love the mindset of gift as opposed to guilt - switching gears now...

It all came about (long story short) through re-discovering a book, Life is a Verb (which I mentioned on my blog this past week) - I ordered a copy for myself and my mom... and will most definitely be gifting it to all my friends over the course of the next few months. '37 days to wake up, be mindful and live intentionally' - Day 1... again... bring it on... :-) "

P.S. M's mom Phyllis passed away Wednesday afternoon - please join me in continued intentions of love and support for her family during this most difficult time. Also sending skyward thoughts for my mom Connie's health, my daughter Sarah's inner strength, my sister Mari's new home purchase, my contractor's son Joey battling cancer, Reba's peace of mind, JF's tinnitus, KC's relationship, LC's recovery and, as Joni says, "you know, there may be more"...

P.P.S. SMM here and here...

Today by Smashing Pumpkins

Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation by Mike Robbins, Richard Carlson (foreword)

POEM: Notice by Steve Kowit

This evening, the sturdy Levi's
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end
in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don't know,
but there it was: a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into his street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed, you who read this,
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart,
& kiss the earth & be joyful,
& make much of your time,
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe it will happen,
you too will one day be gone,
I, whose Levi's ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

QUOTE: "The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget." ~ Arundhati Roy

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Lost on Jeopardy (Weird Al Yankovic)

I'm taking a bit of a break from the weariness of the world (which will still be here tomorrow) to celebrate the joyfulness - three really amazing things have happened/are happening and I had to honor them...

First of all, I finally took the online Jeopardy test - my friend Judi told me about it at book club the other night, and there was one more evening left to try out. For as long as I can remember, I've watched the challenging game show and tested my wits against the three nightly contestants - I always remember to phrase my answer in the form of a question, even in the informality of my family room... and, considering I don't have that pesky eye-hand-coordination buzzer to contend with, I do a respectable job of appearing knowledgable. I'm not claiming to be that smart but I have a font of useless information cluttering up my brain - every once in a while it comes in handy, such that, whoever is in the room usually says with enthusiastic awe, "you really should try out to be on the show!".

So.. as soon as I got home from book club, I registered and read the rules... and logged on the following evening 20 minutes beforehand to test out my Flash player, get settled, etc. Thirty seconds before the test was scheduled to begin (8 PM Pacific, 11 PM Eastern), the familiar Jeopardy theme song began... as did my stomach butterflies - they tell you in advance to pay attention to the category, you do not have to follow the in-the-form-of-a-question format and you have 15 seconds to type in your answer, at which point you can hit Enter or allow the test to capture whatever you've managed to type thus far.

It was fun, in that weird, stressful, time-limited kinda way - some felt like no-brainers (who wrote the Oz books? - jackpot!)... a few others were above my level of comprehension (something about x, y, domain, function?!?). A few I totally blanked on, and most I tried to at least submit *something* - you quickly find out that 15 seconds feels like no time at all to process much less enter trivia, and I tried to allow my intuition to take over (don't second-guess) and not get discouraged if I didn't know something (which could have affected my answers following). They say that they will not disclose your score, one way or the other and that they will notify you if chosen - the next step would be an in-person tryout in the city of your choice (Miami, in my case). Out of 50 questions, I actually think I got more than half right - wish me luck (oh, to be able to meet Alex Trebek is one of my heart's desires!).

Secondly, Boyhowdy at Cover Lay Down has been suffering from inner ear problems for a few months and, in his words, "last week, in a spate of concern about losing a week of posting to my continuing tinnitus, I asked a few of my favorite folkbloggers to donate 'a fave coversong or two, and a short write-up to accompany it'. The plan was to collect coverfolk from bloggers I trust, on the likely chance that I could not blog as my best self for a while, and have it ready to share with you as a celebration of my blogging peers and influences." - I was one of the people he asked to submit a guest blog (!). Big honor (major understatement) - part 1 can be found here...

Thirdly (be still, my heart!), I will be leaving the house shortly for the Dar Williams concert at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale - we've organized quite a contingent of South Florida folks and I've been promoting the show like crazy. It's at a local rock club and we may end up standing all evening - we're troopers and she's worth it (win/win!).

I Lost on Jeopardy by Weird Al Yancovic (a parody of the song Jeopardy by the Greg Kihn Band)

Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs by Ken Jennings

POEM: Follow Your Bliss by Joseph Campbell

The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,
Only our eyes are not open to it.
Awe is what moves us forward.

Live from your own center.
The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today the planet is the only proper "in group."
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
The spirit is the bouquet of nature.

Sanctify the place you are in.
Follow your bliss. . . .

QUOTE: "Life must be aromatic." ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

Monday, February 2, 2009

This Fleeting Moment (Tom Dundee)

My dear friend M has been sitting vigil with her mom today - I know I used this same picture over at Star Maker Machine last week, but it suits here as well. All my candles (purple and otherwise) remain burning for M, Phyllis and their entire family for the strength to accept the next step in their journey - sending love along with the light...


In an update/follow-up on my mom, the following is a distilled-down synopsis of Mari's report to me (in which I've added some editorial comments) from Mom's visit with Dr. E (the new pulmonologist) last Wednesday afternoon - we were able to get questions to the doctor in advance, and it appears many of the items we were concerned with are now *finally* being addressed. Lots of hope and optimism in the air (and not just politically-speaking!) - we now feel pro-active rather than reactive...

Love the new doctor!

We can do OTC Zantac or Pepcid for the burping which, it turns out is quite common - can't believe Dr. C (past pulmonologist) was so nonchalant about it...

Mom is now on the steroids again, which helped tremendously last go-around (but which Dr. C would not prescribe again) - side effects include osteoporosis, thin skin/bruising, higher blood sugar and/or weight gain, but these are risks Mom is absolutely willing to take. Dr. E wants her to see how she's feeling after about a month of the steroids.

If better, we need to look into respiration therapy again (the machines where mom "exercises" with oxygen). When your muscles are out of shape, they use more oxygen. Dr. E stressed that it is important for mom to stay active as best that she can. (Dr. C seemed content to allow mom to vegetate on her corner of the couch, naysaying further respiratory therapy)...

Dr. E really does NOT see any signs of COPD (different from pulmonary fibrosis) from the Chest X-Ray etc. She raised mom's oxygen to Level 6 - can't believe she's been struggling at Level 4 these last few months, when this could have been an option.

BP was 100/70 - so that's good news.

There is lots of fibrosis in the chest x-ray - lung capacity is now at 50%. Imperative that mom should stay away from sick people.

The Connie Circle (the e-mail distribution list I set up with mom's neighbors, my sister and my daughter) is thriving - so great to get regular reports from the home front...

I myself am breathing easier - less worry, more calm...

P.S SMM here and here...

POEM: Otherwise by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.

All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

QUOTE: "Enjoy every sandwich." ~ Warren Zevon