Magic Wand Optional

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The Daily Prompt: A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

Does anyone write to become obscure? Certainly not in the I-want-to-be-published kind of way. Obscurity is earned by spending tormented hours hunched over journals made of parchment, struggling to get the thoughts to coalesce on paper. Obscurity is found work, not intentional.

Yet secretly all who journal or write for themselves, have the fantasy of their heart’s pourings being found and made into an art film, I suspect. Or maybe that’s my notion alone.

My mission with my writing and photography is to ‘Share the Magic.’ It’s not that my point of view is so fresh or that my word combinations are unique. It’s not that my photos are technically brilliant. It’s just that I write and that I take pictures and then I share.

At present two books are hovering in fieri; one on finding the magic in the every day and the other my quirky recounting of two trips to India. I am so enjoying the process that it becomes unthinkable at times to finish either one.

I am inspired to drop everything and go look for dragonflies or how the ripples on the lake catch the sun as I tweak and retweak the magic book. Diving back into India is like crawling into crisp cool sheets and leaning back onto a nest of comfy pillows; I am immediately transported to the dreamlike existence of the mother land.

These distractions do not necessarily speak to the eloquence with which I write, but more to the ideas I am choosing to foster and bring forth. I am in love with these projects.

It seems that neither category offered by our literary witch would suit my endeavors. Although paperback does not automatically denote fiction. Perhaps a popular paperback author could fit. After all it’s my intention to share the magic and why not to millions? If millions of people could stop for a moment and consider the beauty and enchantment that surrounds them every day, might they make different choices? I hope one day soon I’ll find out.

Read other’s responses to the prompt here.

Feeling Groovy

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I have not yet fallen into the groove of my life. You know, that comfortable, yet active, relaxed state. Leaning back into life, open and ready but not anxious. Available for the next moment by being present in this one.

I feel it must exist. I have friends who seem to be there, but then that’s my perception. I think I’ve even been there, dipped my toe in on occasion, only I just recognize it as somewhere I’ve been, I don’t catch it in the moment. Perhaps that’s by design. If I notice I’m in it, will that take me out of it? Yearning to recreate it, missing the present once again?

My imagined groove goes a little something like this:

I wake up smiling and refreshed at 5 am. I brew myself a cup of organic free-trade coffee, add a dash of organic cinnamon, raw sugar and organic half and half. I take mug, that I purchased from an extremely talented struggling potter, full of this morning brew, on the deck of my modest ocean front home, or the balcony of my 12th floor upper west side apartment in New York City. Of course I could be traveling, probably I am, so maybe it’s a chai on the rooftop of a 5 story walk up somewhere fabulous in India or a steaming cup of tea in a coffee shop in London. Whatever the case, I am armed with gentle caffeine and settled into a chair, facing east, with my journal and pen, ready to watch the sun rise and let go of thoughts that may be bouncing around creating havoc.

Then I go work out, because I love to, usually dance or some other high energy sweat-making movement. Come home, shower eat a breakfast of organic goat’s milk yogurt with organic granola and a banana from my own tree (why not?).

Refreshed, fed and ready to go, I am at my desk at 9 AM ready and waiting for inspiration to flow through me, which it always does. Sometimes I write, sometimes I edit photos or create photo cards, other times I make jewelry.

I stop for lunch. Something delicious, nutritious and organic, no doubt.

Ok, so this is my groove. The rest of the day just naturally unfolds into a glorious evening of meaningful conversations with great friends back on that deck or balcony. We talk about consciousness and ways to make the world a better place. We share what we’re working on creatively and our processes. We plan to go to gallery openings and take trips together. Maybe we’re drinking naturally decaffeinated organic tea grown since the 6th century, that someone has just brought back from their recent trip to China. Or perhaps a new Malbec from a friend in Argentina. Jazz plays in the background. It’s a band we know personally. Or maybe one of us is sitting quietly plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, creating on the spot.

The flaw in this scenario? When do I get to eat too much of the wrong thing? Where do I fit in Orange is the New Black? Where’s the struggle that make success sweet?

Truthfully I would be totally okay with this groove. I don’t need to create struggle anymore.  I know enough people who do and they don’t age well. They don’t see that they have a choice. Struggling is a choice. Suffering is truly optional – a state of mind. It’s in their perception. A wise teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai once said something like, “Wanting things to be different than they are is our only problem.”  Acceptance of anything is the key. You cannot change something you refuse to accept, it doesn’t exist.

And so, I accept that I need to move, write, be creative and tromp through wildlife to snap photos. I also accept that I’m in my groove more often than not. I have sipped excellent coffee from ocean front decks, high rise balconies in New York, Chai on rooftops in India and tea in coffee shops in London. I write. I move. I create. I have done all of these things.

It is in those moments that I feel disconnected and outside that I need only remember that this too is part of my groove. It is the recognition of the present moment that is indeed the groove.

[Photo: The magnificent city of Udaipur, India.]

Super Powers for Sale

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In our ever-evolving world it’s no longer necessary to be born with your super powers; they can be purchased and even financed. Once acquired it is difficult to let them go. Fortunately upgrades are usually available.

So what’s always within arms reach?

The romantic side of me wants to tell you it’s my camera I can’t live without. The ego side of me wants you to believe I have a yoga mat slung over my shoulder every waking moment. Sadly, I believe the truth of it might be a bit more mundane, pedestrian.

My super powers are in my phone. There, I said it, but before you judge (those of you that aren’t woefully nodding in agreement) allow me to elaborate.

I, like so many, rarely use my phone for actual conversations anymore, succumbing to the efficiency of the text. I am also fortunate enough to work in a pseudo-retail environment where I have ample human contact on a daily basis. And it’s a yoga studio, so it is 99.999% pleasant and uplifting.

Instead, I use my phone for other communicative conveyances. I take copious photos – it is much more comfortable in my pocket than let’s say my digital SLR with its telephoto lens. I blog – it’s true – the whole time I was in India in February I would recount the day’s events on my tiny little screen, squinting, backspacing and correcting auto-correct, just to get the memories down. It wasn’t ideal, but it was efficient and a lot more portable than my laptop.

I manage a few Facebook pages. Phone. Check.

I schedule events and clients. Phone. Check.

I have to-do lists, too many. Phone. Check.

I have passwords that need managing. When did this become a thing? Phone. Check.

I don’t wear a watch. Phone. Check.

I don’t have an alarm clock. Dogs, first, but when away…Phone. Check.

But like all super powers I too have my kryptonite: no wifi. After my brain empties completely and I stare blankly at the lovely person who meant no disrespect upon informing of such, I take a deep breath and look around. I have learned to use Notes or Evernote and pre-blog my musings, thereby pacifying my need to connect in that moment. Or, I meander wherever I am and snap photos. See? Magic. Powers restored.

I suppose if I were a recluse I could live without my phone. Or use it, you know, as a phone. But if Dorothy had never left Kansas she wouldn’t have needed those sparkly red shoes either. And neither one of us would have any stories to tell.

So, back on the road, finding every day enchantments to photograph and write about, I bring along my little digital world. But don’t worry, it’s all backed up to the cloud, so should I *gasp* lose it I won’t lose it. My super power, that is.

Writing Prompt: Object Lesson. Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

[Photo: Sunrise in Long Island, Bahamas with my iPhone 5S – Super]

 

Shiny Thing Syndrome

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I am a master procrastinator. Not proud, just practical. I don’t know that it’s that I really want to put things off, it’s just that I have so many things I could or should be working on that I shut down. I stare into space, usually my magical backyard, and wait for the priority to float to the top. Often it’s a nap, so I work on that first.

But, yesterday I took a little road trip from Procrastination to Distraction. Having spent the entire morning in Completion I felt no guilt about this. Especially since I was beckoned to move farther along the path of avoidance by the delicate warbling of a feathered friend.

Having accepted his invitation to the concert, I slipped out my back door and stealthily sought him out with my camera. He sat on a lower branch and was so into his own story, beak aloft, eyes closed, that I was able to get right under him to take his photo. Perhaps that was his plan all along.

I watched him for some time, his throat vibrating as he pontificated on the state of the weather and pesticides; lack of worms and suitable mates. On occasion his tone would change, becoming more conversational, understanding, softer. His passion was clear.

In order to reach a broader audience he would hop to the next higher branch, then the next higher tree.  Satisfied he had conveyed his feelings appropriately or dismayed his calls had gone into the ether unheard, he flew away.

I thanked him, hopped back into my mental convertible and headed back to Procrastination. A little sad to leave Distraction, the land of shiny things and birdsong, I lingered for just a moment to see if something else would catch my eye, extending my stay. Not today. My mission complete, I turned the old rag top around glancing back only once  at the sparkling raindrops on the honeysuckle. A mirage, I told myself as I pressed the accelerator in the direction of home.

Today’s writing prompt: Now? Later! prompted me to dust off an older blog, shine it up a bit and repurpose it for this challenge.

Now? Later? We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

Losing Myself

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I don’t believe in wrong turns. I don’t believe in coincidences. And I certainly don’t believe in mistakes.

I do believe that everything we have done in the past; each choice we have made has brought us to exactly where we are right now. This gives us a tremendous amount of power. Everything we decide to do now, however we choose to react to our current set of circumstances, is creating our future. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, you can’t blame anyone or anything else for anything. Which is really just more good news. You are empowered, not a victim.

Life is experiential. While we may not be able to control our every move – realistically we’re controlling nothing – we can control our reaction. This makes getting lost and taking wrong turns a part of the adventure of life.

Some of the best experiences come out of wrong turns. I have found secret pockets of wonder inside the woods when I went left instead of right. I found a quaint, mostly unmarked coffee shop when I got lost in Savannah. I made a new friend while sitting at the wrong subway station waiting for the next train.

I have also felt frightened when I found myself in a neighborhood that was known for its active gangs and drug deals. Nothing happened, I drove right through, stopped at stop lights, no one hassled me. I learned something about myself that day, about where I place my power.

Getting lost has become my hobby. I am a wandering explorer. No amount of reading about other’s experiences can replace stumbling upon an elephant outside my hotel in Udaipur, India or finding a fuzzy baby swan in a nearby lake. Yet reading about other’s adventures always uplifts me.

Serendipity is everywhere, we just have to perceive it as such. The most inconvenient event can yield the most life affirming results. Many times I have found myself in a situation that I could never have planned yet everything aligned perfectly as if it was meant to be. Because, I believe it was. This happens with great regularity.

No matter how much I try to schedule and organize my life, it’s all those spaces in between, all the distractions, all the wrong turns, that provide the richest experiences. It is choosing to look for the gifts in everything, the messages, the prompts, that creates the adventure for me.

And so I let go, I follow my inner compass and lose myself in this big, beautiful enchanted world.

From today’s WordPress writing prompt: Wrong Turns. When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us all about it.

Writing Spaces

 

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When I first read the topic for today’s ‘postaday’ my mind instantly went to the right corner of my living room sofa, where the perfect mold of me awaits patiently each day. On the table to my right, an ebony wood Buddha holding a chunk of amethyst is overseeing my efforts, quietly cheering me on, as Buddhas are known to do. Surrounding him are my mug of steaming hot joe, a camera – I never know when I’ll be called outside by the sound of a cardinal or mocking bird for a photo shoot – and one of million journals. To my left one or two of four bite sized doggies snores softly.

A French door leading to the back patio swings in the gentle morning breeze as the sun reflects off the glass bouncing back into the living room. Occasionally the breeze brings with it the rich smell of the earth, still damp from the previous day’s storms. My painted toenails peek above my laptop screen. Somewhere nearby the coffee maker makes clicking sounds. The light and energy are good here.

But I also saw myself lying on my belly, propped on my elbows with my iPhone wedged between my hands, recounting the day’s events while in India. At a Starbucks on that same device in London as I waited out a spate of rain. I saw myself reaching into my purse for that flat little notebook I bought in a museum, that receives the freshest ideas that I may or may not act upon later. I saw myself sitting on my yoga mat in the middle of class begging that perfect sentence to stay somewhere within reach as I simultaneously tried to let go of everything.

My writing space is fluid, portable. It is my mind, my imagination. It’s between the ears and beyond my vision. It starts with a ping brought on by a word, a sight, a muse, then I just follow it. My writing space is everywhere. I couldn’t write of travel, insights, enchantment and experiences if I stayed in one place. My preferred typing space, however,  is in that light filled living room surrounded by four little dogs, the sound of birds singing in my backyard and the hum of the refrigerator in the next room.

But then, I haven’t had the opportunity to lift the lid of my laptop at a café in France yet.

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Hairs the Difference

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I always wanted great hair. In high school there was a whole subset of girls who had this thick, luscious hair. Every time they’d tilt their heads or turn around, it was in slow motion. Boys would stop whatever they were doing, drop their jaws, then drop their algebra book down in front of their jeans.

I was not one of this subset. Oh, how I longed to be.

I tried. I had a shag in fourth grade, the Dorothy Hamill wedge in 7th, a perm in 11th so that I could look just like Julie Christie in Heaven Can Wait. I spent entire summers marinating in Sun-In to lighten the mousey blondish brown my hair had become. I frosted it – remember that? – pulling strands through little holes in an attractive plastic cap. If there was a way to process my hair, I did it.

In my late 20s my hair began to turn gray – I was expecting it, DNA being what it is, but I wasn’t ready for it. I dyed my hair red, brown, almost black, blond, platinum blond, golden blond. Keeping up with it was messy and expensive. But it felt necessary.

Then one day, in my late thirties, I stopped. My mother, who had held onto her youth with various shades of red from Miss Clairol, had decided to stop dying her hair. What came in what pure white. It was beautiful. So naturally I was curious what my hair was up to under the layers of golden blond.

I decided to let it go, see what nature had in store for me. My hair was shoulder length. I could see the new color coming in at the roots if I pressed my hair down, separating my part. I did this periodically over the next two years and several haircuts until I realized what I was looking at was my hair, just the way it was supposed to be. Somehow I missed the whole growing out thing, the dye that was in my hair simply had nothing left to hang onto and so it all faded seamlessly.

The number one question new acquaintances sheepishly ask me? Is that your natural hair color? My own hairdresser told me to tell everyone she did it. It’s this great color of white that works well with my fair skin and blue eyes.

But it was more than a great color, an easy transition; it was a release.

I remember when I decided to stop painting my nails. It was equal parts laziness and wanting to be more natural. Not too long after that I let go of eye shadow, then came the hair, then I stopped wearing so much jewelry. I have been slowly stripping away adornment and camouflage over the past decade or so. I’ve come out. As myself. I feel clear and seen and understood.

I remember a friend in college who swore no one would ever see her without her make-up and hair done. NO ONE. And I just thought, “How exhausting.”

The realization that I could just be who I was came slowly and I’m still working on it. This challenge has shown me where I still have some work to do. And by work I mean letting go. There’s no need to add anything, I’ve been doing that my whole life. This is about revealing, allowing bits of light to break through. Taking it back to basics. We all start out pretty perfect, the rest is just window dressing.

“I used to have straw-colored hair. Horses loved it.” – Jarod Kintz

21 Day Body Love Challenge – Happy Feet

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“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran

I love my feet.

As I look at my bare feet I see evidence of a life lived outdoors. Currently I have two faint thin stripes that indicate where my flip flops should be, my toes are a happy pink, my heels rough and hard despite many pedicures and there are two tiny pale ovals on each foot at the base of third and fourth toes. These elicit some of the best memories.

As a child, I was a fish. Ocean, lake, river, creek, bathtub or pool, water was my habitat. Once in, good luck getting me out. That 10 minute break each hour at the public swimming pool to allow adults time to swim was probably designed because of me. I just didn’t see the point of leaving the water. I did summersaults, handstands, walked on my hands, kick turns, cannonballs, dove, jumped, splashed and, on occasion, swam. While completing these amazing feats of agility I often scraped my feet on the rough floor of the pool – they weren’t so smooth back then – removing the first layer of skin on the joints of my toes and on the tops of my feet. And because I never got out of the water, I’d do it over and over and over again. Then come back the next day and continue the process. It never hurt, not even a little.

A bit older, but none the wiser, I was wading in a freezing cold creek in Virginia sans shoes, of course. My foot slipped on a mossy rock and landed on a broken bottle. It didn’t hurt, my feet were numb, but I knew something was amiss. I limp-walked my way over to my mom without ever looking at my foot, blindly leaving a trail of blood along the way. As I presented her with my foot and the question, “Is there something in it?” she gasped then quickly recovered pretending it wasn’t a big deal, but we should probably have someone look at it. Like a doctor. In a hospital. A steamy hot older man, probably 16 or 17, was summoned and I was whisked away like a princess in a fairy tale to my pumpkin that resembled a Pontiac LaMans a little too closely. All aglow I lay down in the back seat with my foot elevated as I waved so long to my handsome prince. Today, I am now the proud owner of a thick scar on the bottom of my right foot which always produces concern, then questions during reflexology.

The take-away was not to exercise caution when in nature with unbound feet, but rather; being rescued by handsome prince was everything Disney had promised.

My toes have always been long and thin, even when the rest of me was anything but. And I love them for that. They have been shoved in many pointy shoes with heels high and low, set aloft on ridiculous platforms, allowed to wiggle huddled in clogs and pressed against the sides of running shoes, but they are happiest when they are free. In general my feet have resisted captivity since I was very young, preferring instead to endure the occasional bee sting and extra tetanus booster.

My feet have taken me all the way around Central Park in New York. They’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and down past the twin towers, both when they were there and they were not. They’ve walked through deserts and streets in India, played in the crystal clear water of Jamaica and the Virgin Islands and walked along the Thames in London. They’ve been barefoot on the beaches of Rhode Island, Cape Cod, Long Island, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, nearly the entire coastline of Florida and much of California.

There’s almost nowhere these feet won’t go and for that I love them. I love their courage and tenacity. I love their ability to tip toe, walk and even run. I love how they love to dance. And I love that they hit the floor every morning awaiting instructions, ready to go wherever I ask them to.

Thank you, feet, you’re the best.

And it’s not just my feet that are awesome. It’s yours too. A full one quarter of all the bones in the body are in the feet and ankles. 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Feet provide the body with support. If you’ve ever hurt your foot you know it can throw the entire body off kilter. Hips out of alignment, back pain, even headaches can befall the owner of unhappy feet.

Energetically the feet are related to the root chakra; our home of security and stability, our foundation. Makes sense.

Feet  even play a role in history and religion. Recently Pope Francis shocked the world by washing the feet of inmates at a juvenile detention center. It is a great show of humility and service to wash another’s feet. In the yoga tradition, kissing or touching the feet of the guru symbolizes bowing, not necessarily to the physical guru in front of you, but rather the guru within.

Today, honor your feet. Massage them, get a pedicure, thank them. Stick them in the sand or mud or on a plush carpet of soft grass or a real plush carpet. Appreciate them and all they’ve been through with you and because of you.

Your feet are always there for you, ready and waiting to carry you forward. Where will they take you today?

“I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

Make Love, Not Gossip

path IMG_3984Today on Facebook I read a post that deflated me. It wasn’t sad, no animals were harmed and it wasn’t full of needless expletives. But it spoke of an epidemic of ignorance of who we truly are that is so pervasive in our society that I had to respond to it. Only I didn’t. Not directly. Instead I posted my thoughts about it on my own newsfeed without identifying the source or any details.

I wanted to respond but I knew it would only expand the negativity, poking the bear, rather than disarming the situation or change anything for the better.

The short of it is this: There was a video of a celebrity doing something  positive, but because this celebrity is controversial all the remarks on this person’s post were derogatory and downright mean. They were personally attacking someone they didn’t even know personally.

It may be fun and even feel a little powerful, if you can recruit others in a gossip fest, but in the end it is waste of precious life force. Making it the most harmful and hurtful to the ones gossiping.

Not that I haven’t done this. Hasn’t everyone? What I believe we’re doing is recognizing our perceived failings in another and directing our self-loathing outward as if that will rid us of it. At our lowest points, we draw conclusions and make assumptions about others all in the service of our own fragile egos, trying to elevate our self-esteem by pointing out the shortcomings of another. They are the mirror for our fear that we are not enough.

What if every time we caught ourselves in a verbal eye roll, or hissing like a snake on our keyboards or phone, we just stopped? What if we directed all that venom at ourselves? Because that’s what we’re really doing. That celebrity will feel none of that acrimony, yet those sending daggers feel EVERY bit of it.

We have the option and the power to  transmute that energy into something beautiful and real. Re-channel it. Do some art. Write in your journal. Take a walk in nature. Breathe. Look at the sky.

What would happen, do you think, if all the news media began reporting on charitable organizations and those being helped? What if celebrity magazines only photographed and spotlighted companies and individuals, and yes, celebrities making a difference in their city, town or country? What if the newspaper was full of stories about people helping other people, kittens and dogs being rescued or rescuing, or illustrations on the power of love?

Idealistic? Of course. Unrealistic? No.

I don’t think we are here to tear each other down – even from a distance – in order to lift ourselves up. It doesn’t work. We are meant to uplift one another, to make things better for each other. There is a quote, or prayer, really, by Marianne Williamson that I have always loved, “Help me remember that my job is to love the world back to health.”

How our choices and words might be so different if that were our job description.

Future Self

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It was sometime during the afternoon yesterday that I met my future self. Not the perfect, slim, wrinkle-free, jet-setting, rich one of my over-fertile imagination. I met the settled, comfortable in her own skin, deep smile lined, glowing with a secret, one. I much prefer her. She’s the type of person I’d like to have coffee with. She was in a word: Enchanting.

She told me a million magical things in the nanosecond she was before me. It was all familiar. I already knew it all, I had simply forgotten.

I had forgotten that the weight of the world does not depend on the tiny little decisions I make every day. That my path was strong, that I knew the way and it was okay to deviate and explore because all roads led back to that path. That I am beautiful beyond measure, not because my eyes are blue, not because I have expensive shoes but because in spite of those things there’s a radiance that, if I let it out, cannot be articulated or seen, only felt.

She reminded me that all people are made of energy so we are each the same. At times we take the energy of another; at times we give our energy to those in need and when we meet someone we resonate with on the same frequency we are shown our own magnificence and we are duty bound to recognize it. To deny one’s gifts depletes one’s energy. Embrace that which makes you shine.

Above all she reminded me to stop struggling. Allow the pendulum to rest. Bask in just being. Allow the world to enchant me. If I wait patiently a dragonfly will land on my dress, the wind will blow.

And finally she shared her deepest, fiercest, unconditional love for me, for where I am, for who I am and for who I would become. She reminded me that she is me. That without love for myself, unconditional love, it is impossible to love another unconditionally. It can be no other way.

To recall her, what she looked like, would be a struggle, but her light was undeniable. My light. She was probably somewhere in her mid to late seventies. I was. But it was not her age or any identifiable features she wanted to share with me. Her message clear.

All I have to do to get there, is be here.