Friday, May 26, 2017

Reaching. Stretching.

Somehow, some way, along my life's journey i began telling myself a narrative that isn't true ... that i'm not creative or artistic .. and for many years, I also told myself I can't write. Sure, I played the piano. I rationalized that it was classical piano ... "anyone can read notes", yet I continued to pursue playing the piano, and even got a presidential scholarship in college to study under concert pianist Ruth Slenczynska. My gut knew it wasn't just about reading notes and playing notes ... then again, isn't anything in life so much more than what it appears to be on the surface? I would listen to jazz musicians and others who could just sit down at a piano without notes, improvising, creating music ... I would wish I could do the same. I honestly don't remember if I drew as a kid .... as an adult I could only draw stick people :). In the past week I have made a commitment .. a new stretch/reach goal for myself ... to challenge myself in creative ways .. to activate brain cells on the other side of my brain that have probably been dormant :). I have signed up for a Beginner's Observational Drawing class. It begins in a week and a half and I am super excited! The other day, I attempted to draw my pup Ishka.

It was an attempt of using 'grids' and drawing from a photo of Ishka on the dining room table. I thought i would post this photo and have an online documentation of my journey in developing my drawing skills :).

I am attempting to change the narrative that has been occurring in my head for longer than I can remember ... that I am not creative. I also used to tell myself I couldn't write. Fortunately, I have freed myself of that inaccurate narrative. I do believe I can write now ... in fact, writing is what has been a life jacket for me in my own personal healing journey.

So I am excited for this new creative journey ... of learning to draw; of learning to see the world in a whole new way ... to notice shades, tones, colors, light ... to explore new perspectives.

I may periodically post drawings as I embark on this journey. It will be a fun way for me to look back on this journey years from now :).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pausing


Pausing

Why pause?
To breathe.
To break patterns.
To create space for what is to be.
To let go of attachments, expectations.
To Be in the moment. Just as it is.
To honor the beauty and the pain of what exists in the moment.
To embrace and accept, without judgment.

Why pause?
To allow myself time to return to Center.
To allow myself time to see and notice the light that burns inside of me ...
inside all of us.
To walk the Earth.
To look up to the Sky.
To re-ignite the Fire inside of me.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spirit. Fire. Joy.

Legacy ... Play ... pure, utter joy.
I believe Ahnung brought baby Legacy into our lives. Legacy also brought the puppy and playfulness out of Ahnung. Maybe Ahnung wanted me to have a reminder (after she had crossed over into the spirit world) to not take life too seriously. To laugh. Play. Live in the moment.

Legacy and Ahnung were bonded in a very deep and unique way. I continue to feel Ahnung's spirit living on through Legacy.

So one of reach/stretch goals for this coming week is to notice each day, in whatever way, feels right, 3 things:

1. Ahnung - notice how the spirit of Ahnung is around me; moves through me. Is there any object, a song, a person, a spirit, an animal, an idea, a Way that touches me in the Ahnung Way. Just notice it. Then let it go.

2. Ishkode (means 'fire' in ojibwe) - notice the fire burning inside of me; notice when it ignites ... notice when I feel alive. Stay with it. If only for a moment. Acknowledge the fire; thank the fire; create space for the fire inside of me to ignite, to fizzle, or whatever course the fire needs to take.

3. Legacy - create time and space every day to feel joy; to play; to be a kid again. Live in the moment.

Ishkode (aka Ishka) ... my fire!

Ishka ... in her hyena, let's play mode with Legacy!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Slowing down. Stories. Spaces.

I had a busy morning yesterday with work calls. I was tired from lack of sleep and by mid day I wanted to lay down for a short nap. Yet something inside of me kept saying, just get outside Marilou. Walk. Take your nature walk. Bring your camera ... stroll. pause. be ... don't worry about steps, miles, exercise. I allowed my mind to daydream. The name and image of Mrs. Jensen popped up in my head. She was one of my favorite teachers in elementary school in Thailand. I fell in love with C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when she would read that story to our class every afternoon. I remembered an exercise she also has us do. She would have all these different photos on 8.5 by 11 laminated sheets .. she would spread them out on a table ... pick a photo that calls to you. Write a story.

As i strolled in the woods i intentionally slowed down and listened. I would often close my eyes and just listen to the songs of the birds, the cardinals, the pecking on tree branches by woodpeckers. I heard an owl. I was looking out into the water and saw the head of a turtle. I felt like he was looking at me, looking at him. He slowly swam towards a branch floating and crawled up ... stopped. And there he stayed. There i stayed too as I soaked in the peaceful, slow, quiet, healing energy of the turtle; I noticed his reflection in the water and asked him if it was okay for me to take a photo. I bring my camera with me to capture moments in nature. I am a visitor and a guest in this world, and in the woods I am in the land and home and space of wildlife and trees and rocks ... I ask permission. Yeah, sounds crazy, but I do. I am grateful yesterday for the gift of the turtle, the does, the downy woodpecker, the trees, the geese, the ducks, the robins, the water ... I am grateful to my elementary school teacher Mrs. Jensen who planted a seed so very early in my life to explore the ever changing story and landscape in every image and to allow my mind to wander and to write stories ....








Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Soul food

This past weekend I took a nature walk ... again, not counting steps, worrying about how far I was going, number of steps or miles ... just noticing, observing, listening. Amazing how nature can be such nourishing soul food. And I found myself watching this one goose .... the word JOY kept coming to mind.

I find myself trying to listen more deeply to what calls to my spirit, my soul ... what makes me feel alive? what nourishes my mind, my body, my spirit, my heart ... what challenges me?

One of my favorites poems is Mary Oliver's The Summer Day ...


The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver


The last lines of her poem, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? is a question I reflect on quite frequently.



It seems the more i open my mind and my heart .. the more I can slow down, pause, be still ... the more I am able to notice I am both nothing and everything ... the more I can experience moments of letting go and accepting life, and myself, exactly where I am at .....

We accept the graceful falling
Of mountain cherry blossoms,
But it is much harder for us
To all away from our own
Attachment to the world

Zen.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Paths


Last Sunday I took a nature hike and brought my camera with me. My partner and I began what we are calling, at least for now, our stretch goals. We are on week 4. Every Saturday evening we come up with what our stretch goals are for the coming week. We have daily goals, and then we have goals for the week. We write our goals on a white board and place the white board where we can see it every day ... a reminder to us of what we have committed to 'stretching' for the week.

This past week, one of my stretch goals was to get outside for a nature hike with my camera. I have been great about going out for with either a walk or a run every day. For this walk, I'm not tracking anything ... doesn't matter how many miles or how many steps. Just walking. Noticing. Observing. Listening. Loved it!! I found myself thinking about paths, about how our lives are our intertwined in so many paths; how we often walk paths without noticing; how we go through life unaware, worrying about tomorrow or yesterday ... how we do everything but live in the present moment. My daily meditation practice reminds me and gives me the opportunity to practice staying in the moment, noticing my breath, observing thoughts and emotions that have mastered the art of hijacking my being. I practice accepting whatever comes ... without judgment (yup, that is much easier said than done at times!) ...... then letting it go.



I noticed in my walk how I became more aware of my surroundings ... noticing the birds, wondering about life below the ground, of the stories that go way beyond what my eyes could see, of life everywhere, of miracles. I found myself acutely aware of what a small piece I am of this miraculous universe, and how many miracles are all around us, if we can simply allow ourselves to listen, to see (not just with our physical eyes), to notice ...

I found myself myself embracing wonder, curiosity in a way that fed my soul ... like a young kid experiencing life, asking questions.

Amazing what a simple nature walk can do.

Namaste.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Missy

My sweet Missy is once again struggling with low platelets. Her platelets are dangerously low and she is at risk for spontaneous bleeding. We have begun prednisone to suppress her immune system and hopefully get her platelets back up. Her vet thinks there is a good chance she has immune mediated thrombocytopenia. I need to keep her quiet and still ... as my vet said, wrap her in pillows.

Missy is fortunately feeling like her usual self. She isn't showing any symptoms and for that I am grateful. Thank you Ahnung for watching over your sister. My prayer is for Missy to continue feeling good. I am going to bring her back to the vet on Friday to get her platelets checked. She will have been on prednisone for almost 5 days. Hopefully her platelets will have gone up a little. I would like to know where they are at before we go into the weekend.

I have been reflecting on how Missy came to me ... how she was sent to me by Shen whom I lost suddenly and without much preparation to spleen cancer ... how she opened up the door to the world of 'fostering' and animal welfare in Minnesota ... how she walked me down a new path I would never have imagined ... how my life is what it is today.

Ahnung and Missy (2009)
I have had a lot of emotions come up ...  worry, fear, anxiety. In my morning meditations I find myself encouraging myself to find that calm center and to embrace all that life brings my way. I have found myself returning to the grief and the fear and the pain when I lost my first dog Splat; when I lost Shen and Shadow to cancer within 7 months of each other; when I first heard the news Ahnung had cancer and when the earth would shake and crack beneath me for almost 2 years as we walker her final walk together.

What I realized this morning is that Missy, like Ahnung, is 'sick' .... at least that is what lab tests and diagnostics are showing ... she, however, doesn't know she is sick and she is acting and feeling like her normal self. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for how great she feels. I am grateful I find myself having to try to calm her down so she doesn't bruise or bleed spontaneously.

Sweet Ahnung, please continue to watch over your sister. Wrap her in a blanket of love, light and healing. And wrap me too and give me the strength and courage to simply Be present for Missy .... to not worry about tomorrow, or what could be ... to simply Be here with her today.

Missy, Mister, Legacy and Ahnung (2011)