Tuesday, May 29, 2007

interview me!

ok...this was fun. I've seen the "interview me!" title on several blog posts and when I finally figured out what it was all about, I asked Bella to interview me. Of course, it's a perfect excuse for navel gazing (like I needed an excuse--ha!). Thank you, Bella, for the great questions!

When did you get married? Was it a big wedding or an intimate affair? Did you go on a honeymoon? If not, what would your dream honeymoon be like?

Vinny and I will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary in October. We chose autumn because it is our favorite season. We got married on the North Shore of Lake Superior in a small outdoor chapel alongside a creek. It was a spiritual ceremony, but not religious; we wrote our own vows; and it was supposed to be a small wedding--only close family members and friends but wasn't because, you see, way back when, my grandpa's brother married my grandma's sister (no, nothing incestous--2 brothers married 2 sisters) and the size of our family doubled as a result. 2nd and 3rd cousins feel more like 1st cousins. If we invited so-and-so, then we couldn't leave out so-and-so...and that's how our wedding grew from just a few people to just over 70 people. Small, I guess you could say, by my family's standards.

I honestly have never seen the sky as blue as it was on our wedding day. I'm not kidding--it was in technicolor! Maybe it was just my nervousness or maybe it was the yellow and orange leaves of the turning trees but, I swear, I have never seen a sky so intensely blue as it was that day. Getting married within a circle in the woods surrounded by family was very important to me. Geesh, I'm getting all misty eyed just thinking about it! In some ways, our marriage was a painful time. Vinny and I got married just as my parents were getting divorced. But when I saw Vinny waiting for me at the end of the aisle (well actually it was winding trail), the whole world fell away. Everything but Vinny fell away. It was as though we were somehow in our own glass bubble. Everything and everyone else was there--yet it was only us. Really, honestly--it is the most incredible moment in my life. Maybe someday that will be rivaled by the birth of a child...but so far, standing in that circle of poplar and pine, holding Vinny's hands, was a moment really unlike any other. I believe deeply in strange occurrences of the universe. A cosmic shift? I don't know, but love is a powerful thing.

A couple weeks later we headed to Italy for our honeymoon. I know that sounds extravagant but, in reality, my parents gave us their frequent flyer miles as a wedding present and we used the meager amount of money from wedding gifts to fund our trip. At the time, I was finishing my Senior year as an undergrad and Vinny was in his first year of grad school. I was preparing for my Senior Exhibition for my art degree and we were, well...extremely busy. I'm glad we decided to go on a honey moon anyway. We went for a week and a half and didn't even have enough money to go inside most of the art museums. But we didn't care. We kept our travels simple and opted to spend our time mostly in Rome and Florence rather than tiring ourselves out with constant travel. We both fell in love with Rome in a way that we never expected. Our first night there we ate the best pizza I have ever tasted under a full moon with a street musician serenading us (it's not just in songs!). We tried every day to find the restaurant again--but we never did. There are so many details that I'm leaving out, but we believe that it was a moment of magic carved out of the universe especially for us. Some things are best savored only once--but, as for Rome, someday we will return.

Why did you go to India and how long did you stay?
When I was 6 years old I knew I had to go to India. At the time, I had a Hello Kitty journal and I remember once writing: "Dear Diary, if I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to India." That desire never left me and in my early 20’s I finally made it there with an empty backpack, an open-ended ticket and no real plan. In truth, I never knew why I needed to go there so badly, but I returned with an experience that has altered my life forever.

I ended up staying in India for 9 months. Before I came home, I used to wake up from dreams that I had gone home too soon and couldn't get back to India. I would wake up in a panic and only calm down when I saw with relief that I was still in India. However, I know I came home when I was supposed to because the day after my return I got very sick and ended up bedridden for nearly 2 months. It turns out, I got a very bad case of Hepatitis A. It is scary to think of what would have happened if I had not returned when I did.

Lately, I have been dreaming of India often. In my dreams I am always at the airport, about to board the plane--but, for some reason, am prevented from it. Usually it is because I lost my passport. The other night it was because I was trying to gather my bags, but I had lost a shoe. I think my dreams will tell me when the time is right for me to return. And I will--because India is my home away from home. It is where my heart lives. It is where I feel a part of me belongs.

What do you love most about living where you live now?
I love it that I look out my writing room window towards endless acres of forest. I look out the kitchen window and see the Minneapolis skyline. I know I've said this before...but we truly have the best of both worlds here with an equal combination of city and nature. I'm not sure I would have adjusted very well to the city without having such a huge park across the street. Now we are spoiled. I spend more time in the woods now than I did when I lived in northern middle-of-nowhere Minnesota. I love walking the woods with my wolfie. And I love all the good restaurants, bookstores, and interesting people of the city!

What are you top 5 favorite movies?
  1. Herald and Maude--and old favorite. Herald inspired me to learn to play the banjo in my early 20's. I have since forgotten everything I learned.
  2. The Journey of Natty Gahn--A girl and her wolf hop freight trains. How could I not love this movie?!
  3. Gorillas in the Mist--I used to want go to Africa and study gorillas like Dian Fossey. Well, actually, I still do. ;)
  4. Coffee and Cigarettes--short, strange vignettes in black and white. I especially like the conversation between the two old men on the rooftop.
  5. Capote--I'm a sucker for movies about writers and artists.
You have a day off and you're not spending it on your thesis. How will you spend the day?
This feels like a somewhat theoretical question since I am beginning to wonder if I will ever be done with my thesis. Someday though...I will finish it and, when that day comes, I will truly have a day off. With nothing nagging me at the back of my mind to get done, I would get up when I felt like it, maybe around 8 (or 9 or 10), drink a cup of espresso, and take the dogs for a nice loooooooooooong walk. Then I would come home, take my journal and a fresh cup of coffee outside, and write until my heart's content. After that I'd take a wonderfully long, hot bath, make a light lunch of fruit and cheese and bread and I would spend the rest of the day simply lounging in my hammock in the back yard with my dogs sleeping in the grass next to me with a tall glass of iced tea with fresh mint and a good book. No interruptions--just books and dogs and good food, long walks, bubble baths, little naps, and nice weather. Yes, this is definitely my idea of heaven.

Want me to interview you?
  • Leave a comment saying interview me
  • I will then email you five questions - I get to pick the questions
  • Update your blog with the answers to those questions
  • Include this information and offer to interview someone else in the same post
  • When others comment and asked to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: "Simple"

It's been a long time since I've participated in Sunday Scribblings but, believe me, it is not because I haven't wanted to. Actually, I have a yellow post-it stuck to my monitor with words like "rooted" and "second chance" written on it--but time sneaks away from me and, before I know it, the initial inspiration gets lost in a barrage of unrelated occurrences until, finally, my thoughts pile so high that I can't remember where I wanted to begin. Ether thoughts. Poof! They disappear before I am able to make sense of them, let alone write them down. I'm sure that this is a common phenomenon for many bloggers. I doubt that I am alone.

Tonight I took my first step towards simplicity by visiting my Bloglines account and hitting the "Mark All Read" button. Let's face it: I've fallen irreparably behind in my blog reading. This fact has been dogging me for several months, but now I can breath a sigh of relief in having taken my first step towards simplifying my life. Creating clean slates are not usually so easy. I know, I cheated. But it was sort of liberating all at the same time.

Lately I've been finding myself daydreaming about organized closets and drawers and shelves. My mind drifts over and over again to the built-in cabinets in the breakfast nook of my parent's old house. "The nook" was where my mom kept all of her linens and napkins, fancy silverware, and an extra set of dishes. That little room was the epitome of organization. Never was there a single thing out of place--and that also went for the rest of the house too. I do not have such grand expectations for that level of orderliness--but, I admit, I've caught myself in daydreams about perfectly folded napkins and imaginings of what my life would look like if it were organized into trendy labeled boxes. Of course, I know that inside those boxes my life would still be just as messy as ever. The linen napkins (if I actually had any) would still be unnecessary clutter that I would be better off getting rid of.

I sat down to write about the notion of simplification. Instead, my thoughts keep veering towards what lies beneath our need for simplification in the first place. For some reason, the words "simple" and "organized" keep getting cross-wired in my brain. I am aware of the fact that the simplest (and significantly happier) times of my life were also the times that I had the least possessions. In this way, my life became organized, even in all of its randomness. Life was simple.

And, with this, my thoughts shift away from my childhood memories of folded linens and towards the contents of the backpack that I carried with me through India and Nepal. Once, in Kathmandu, I laid out each individual item on my bed, weighed its necessity for my journey, and decided what to keep and what to get rid of. I was so pleased with the results that I even drew a picture of it. Simplicity perfected.

I think that this is how Thoreau felt when he word-sketched the image of the day he cleaned his cabin on Walden Pond. It is an image that has always stuck with me. I am in love with the simplicity of being able to remove the contents of your house, give it a good clean, and then put it back together--all in one fell swoop. I went so far as to find my own small shack in the woods, with no water or electricity. I carried everything I needed in on my back. I cooked my food on an open fire. I bathed in nearby lake. Life was simple. As it was when I traveled abroad, as it was when I hopped freight trains, or rode my bike cross-country, or lived out of the back of my truck with my old dog Japhy (named after Japhy Ryder from my favorite Jack Kerouac book, The Darhma Bums).

Maybe it was the crispness of those linens that sent me off towards the unconventional life that I ended up living. I never liked the formalities of my parent's house. God forbid, I should ever have a formal dining room of my own. Never mind that I now live in a regular house in a regular neighborhood with a regular overabundance of stuff. Like many, I daydream of shedding the excess weight of accumulation.

If I were to pack my life up to fit in a backpack once again, what would I bring with me? And, stretching these musings out even further, where would I go?

What would I bring?
  • my big, fat journal
  • the accordion moleskine (the one that I never use because I don't take the time to doodle, but want to)
  • 1 pair of jeans (the new, very comfortable ones that I just bought yesterday)
  • 3 books (because 1 is never enough--I haven't decided which ones)
  • a box of colored pencils, a tin of watercolors, and some paint brushes
  • a pen
  • 1 nalgene water bottle (because I drink a lot of water)
  • insulated coffee cup (because I love my hot coffee or tea)
  • 1 flannel
  • 1 wool sweater (better than North Face any day)
  • rain jacket and pants
  • a couple changes of socks and underwear
  • sleeping bag
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • my stretchy black yoga pants
  • little Buddha statue (the one that has traveled with me everywhere for good luck)
  • my dogs (for sure)
Where would I go?
Oh, this is the hard part. I don't know...but I see myself heading for the Canadian Rockies. I imagine deep greens of pine forests, the thin air of the mountains, and plenty of solititude to write, hike, contemplate, and draw.

And if I were to draw a conclusion from my babblings...I would have to say that to simplify is to put things into perspective. To simplify, is to live deliberately. As ol' Thoreau used to say:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Find more simplicity here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

brief musings before work.

I only have half an hour before I have to leave for work, but I have so much to say. It has been a week of long hours of physcially demanding work in the heat, the cold, the rain. It has also been a week of art-making, puppy love, and contemplation. I have barely had a minute to myself, my head hurts, my body's tired--but, still, I feel like I am exactly where I'm supposed to be right now. I have still not gotten used to this feeling. I am afraid that it is going to slip away before I make sense of it.

My life feels transitional right now. I wrote about that feeling last year. And I wrote about it the year before that as well. Looking back, I am amazed by the subtle and not so subtle changes that have occurred in my life in just these past 2 years.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what I want my life to look like. I like the way it looks right now, but I feel that this is only the beginning. I've been thinking a lot about my "Mondo Beyondo Dream." I learned this term from Kristine, and seeing her make her Mondo Beyondo dream become a reality has been a source of endless inspiration for me. So I've been asking myself: What is my Mondo Beyondo dream?

And this is the part where I wish I had more time to write. There is so much that I want to record with words. Why the desire to do this? Why do some of us feel such a deep need to write or paint or do whatever we do to record our lives, our thoughts, our place in time and space? I've always felt a great need to write about the daily-ness of my life--both inwardly and outwardly. When I neglect to do this, I start feeling my world spinning slightly out of control. When I am unable to write or paint or express myself in meaningful ways, it becomes difficult to process my day to day experiences.

It feels good to be sitting here right now--even if only for a few minutes. Anu is asleep in the cool grass outside, the puppy is asleep in his bed next to my chair. My little cat is asleep, pressed up against my back. My old cat is asleep at my feet. These places of containment--this is what it is that I am always searching for.

Lately I've been wanting to write about the weather--the way the heat and humidity feels on my skin when I work outside, the way I come home so dirty that I need to take a shower, and how good it feels to cool my dry skin and sore muscles with peppermint lotion. I want to write about the way it feels to work in a garden shop when it rains and how it feels when a cool, wet breeze comes in through the front door and leaves through the back door; the way it makes the paper lanterns that hang from the old wooden ceiling rustle and bump; the way the sky deepens into dark bruised blue and is punctuated by lightening and sirens. I want to write about the old man from New York. I want to write about the way my puppy comes looking for me when he wakes up with such sleepy eyes that it absolutely melts me. I want to write about painting a mural on the bookstore window at night with only the glow of street lamps to illuminate my progress. I want to write about the small crowds that gathered to watch me on the sidewalk, while the store cats gathered along the window to watch me from the inside. As a painter, I used to be completely unnerved by people watching me paint. I've come a long way in the past year. I want to write about how exhausted my body and mind feel when I finally crawl into bed long after midnight and about how I try so desperately to read before falling asleep, but never make it beyond a page or two....and then sleep deeply.

Mostly I just want to record a little bit of myself so that these words can remember who I am right now. Because, these days, I am happy. There is a small bird jumping from branch to branch in the chestnut tree outside my writing room window. And I am happy.

I trust words to remember this time--even if I am likely to forget.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

kindergarten graduations...

This weekend we went to my niece's kindergarten graduation. Little did I know that I should have brought a box of Kleenex with me(oy!). They put on an end of the year concert and, well, let me just say that my auntie-heart was nearly BURSTING with love. Both my niece and nephew started Montessori school at the age of 2--and, while not many people celebrate the completion of kindergarten, I'm tellin' ya: a good (worthwhile and meaningful) education is worth celebrating. But hey, they celebrate half birthdays too--what can I say?!

I spent the entire first half of the program in tears. I am so proud of my niece, Ara, for who she has already become in her short 6 years of existence on this earth. I don't know what happened...but she walked out onto the stage with all of those other kids and I was just absolutely overtaken by such a huge bout of love that I didn't know what to do with it! My sister was sitting in the seat in front of me; I tapped her on the shoulder and, with big tears blurring my eyes, whispered: "Oh my god! I love her so much and she's not even mine!"

One of the biggest reasons that we moved to this city was to be closer to my niece and nephew while they are still young--and, every day, I am thankful for that decision. Sometimes V. tells me with a funny smile that I am totally over-emotional. I prefer to think that I love deeply. Sometimes that love scares me. I mean, my god, it reaches into my very core! How does that happen? When does love like that begin? Filaments of emotion strung so deeply that there could never be an end. This kind of love--it is such a strange and mysterious thing.

My niece, Ara.

And some more photos from the evening:

Preethy--the Montessori's founder and school principle--
such a beautiful woman, both inside and out.

Madame Montessori,
You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have to struggle, we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering. ~Mahatma Gandhi, 1943

You should have seen the boy in the black bibs sing!
Oh, I've never smiled so hard in my life!

world peace please.
If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart. ~Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

The power of song.

Ara reciting a quote by John Lennon (flawlessly!). :)
All we are saying is give peace a chance. Imagine all of the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one. ~John Lennon.

There is something to be said for the innocence of childhood. To love so purely, to sing and dance and laugh with such abandonment--perhaps it is the young ones who are the true teachers of the world.

They were all so beautiful--each and every one of them.

I love you, Ara.

Friday, May 18, 2007

brief musing.

I am so tired that I can barely think, but it just dawned on me that I haven't even picked up my journal in an entire week. That's just not right.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

stress relief.

ok...I promise I won't post photos of the puppy every day--but maybe not. I mean, really, how could I not share moments like these? This photo was taken about a half an hour ago, but don't let him fool you. He is now awake and chewing on my slippers! (and the rug and the cat and the table and...)

Anyway, it's been another eventful evening. You know that "new" car we got? Well, it was a dud and we had to bring it back. Why do these things always happen after you drive it off of the lot??? Well a whole bunch of stress later and we've decided to upgrade to a newer car with a lot less miles, a longer warranty, and (the best part)--the same payment!

I'd go into the details, but I think it would bore you to tears. We almost got royally screwed but all that matters is that, in the end, Vinny and I ended up getting a practically brand-new car for the same monthly payments as the original car that was older and already had a lot of miles on it. This is a good example of the way that problems are sometimes blessings in disguise. Now all I need to do is incorporate this way of thinking into a few other areas of my life!

Needless to say, Louis was VERY happy to see us after having his schedule rearranged. Geesh! I swear, he is the sweetest, most sensitive little puppy I have ever met. Not to mention, no matter how much stress my day involves, he is always the perfect cure. Definitely. I am just trying to soak in as much of his puppiness as possible. Did you know that he has DOUBLED in size in just the past few days?! We should have named him "Dandelion" or "Zucchini" or "Miracle Grow" or something. I mean, seriously... it is truly amazing.

I just want to say thank you for all of your really wonderful comments on my last post. I appreciate them--beyond words.

Monday, May 14, 2007

i promised myself i wouldn't write about my thesis anymore, but this is where my life is at right now.

I am frustrated with myself today. I had the day off and it turned out to be a perfectly warm "summer" day. My husband also had the day off and, get this, we FINALLY got a new (well, new used) car!!! I should be excited (and I am), but I spent most of the day being frustrated and stressed out because the whole car shopping and purchasing thing took pretty much the entire day. Rather then enjoying the fact that we were in the process of getting something that I've wanted for a very long time, the only thing I could think about was the time I was losing out on to work on my thesis. Yes, I ruined a perfectly wonderful day because of the endlessness of this project. I only get ONE day a week to really work on it and the past THREE WEEKS I have not gotten to do so because my (very scarce) time has been interrupted and interrupted and interrupted.

I sort of feel like just sitting down in a heap and crying because I'm sick of every last detail in my life revolving around this THING that I am not accomplishing. I look out the window and see our shiny black automobile glowing in the light of the street lamp and it restores a little of my happiness. But then I get cranky again because I know that I won't really get to drive it much anyway. I work and then I feel like I should be at home trying to write. I can't tell you how much I crave freedom in my life right now. Even just a little.

But this is why I'm glad we finally got another car. Despite my frustrations in not getting any work done today, this car is what will afford me certain freedoms that I have not had in way too long...like TIME ALONE. Working more has made me realize just how important it is that I have some breathing space--even if only an hour here or there. I want to be able to do something on my own schedule and I don't want to have to explain when, where, and why in order to do it.

Really, when it comes down to it, I think I might just be a little bit mad at myself for ruining what could have been a good day. Vinny is happy that he found a car that he likes. I am happy that we are in complete agreement. I am also happy that I can actually go somewhere without having to spend half of the day walking, riding my bike, or taking the bus to do so.

It's just that I'm starting to think that my thesis is never going to get done and it is beginning to drain the joy out of everything!

Complaints aside, there is a deep part of me that is amazed by the things that have come about through the Finding Water experience. You see, 12 weeks ago I started thinking about the way I wanted my life to be. I started making lists and writing out my desires. Then I started putting my energy into materializing those things. And in the last 3 months I have:
  1. started making more money (through an altered work situation).
  2. got a puppy (the one I have been waiting two years for!).
  3. got a car (something we've wanted but have been inconveniently living without for the past year).
There are only 2 more things on my list right now--but for some reason "finish my thesis" has never consciously become a part of that list. In my Morning Pages I have written about my desire to finish my thesis EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since I started Finding Water. Actually, it is the topic of nearly every page. I truly believe that if I want something, I can make it happen. So why can't I make my thesis happen? Did I lose belief in myself? Have I ever truly believe in myself when it came to this project?

At this point, what's one more lost day? This "not producing" is wearing me thin and brittle. So here's the deal: Tomorrow I'm going to take my big dog and my little dog for a ride in our shiny new ride before work. I'll open the sunroof and the windows and I'm going to just drive and drive and breath deep. And right now? Despite the late hour, I'm going to stay up and work on my thesis. The day is not completely lost yet. There are enough things in my life right now to make me happy. I am tired of my thesis getting in the way.

Friday, May 11, 2007

night time in the city under a deep blue sky with purple clouds.

Tonight I sat under a sky of dark delphinium blue pinpricked with bright glowing stars and traveling lavender clouds. These days I spend a lot of time sitting out on the front steps with the pup--both day and night. I have never spent much time there, but because little Louis came home from the shelter with a virus, we've had to keep the dogs separated--at least until he's better. And I'm learning new things under these conditions. Little things. It's much darker in the front yard and looks towards only woods--there, in the woods, where night truly comes alive: the frogs, the wind, the strange shadows. My small world turns to velvet and dew drops. An owl announces his place on a broken tree limb. Leaves rustle. The puppy sighs. To the north, a not-so-far-away siren splits the air.

And I realize now how much I have missed the night. Later, once the puppy falls asleep in the crook of the couch, I go out again--this time with my wolfie. We walk down dark streets and it is a long time before we turn back for home.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

notes on a wednesday

These days, every time I write something new for my blog I feel as though I am writing on luxuriously stolen time. I just came home from work at the garden shop where it was hot and busy. I'm a little sunburned and whole lot tired, but I feel good. The puppy is sound asleep in the next room and Vinny will be back home with a pizza from the neighborhood pizza joint any minute. At the moment I am even enjoying a beer. When was the last time I had one of those? So long that I don't even remember--but, my god, it tastes good!

I thought I had something more interesting to say, but maybe not. Mostly I just wanted to revel in the experience of feeling good and hopefully pass it on to you.


Monday, May 07, 2007


Ok, I've just returned from very lovely visits at Leah's and Elizabeth's blogs and saw that they did the Finding Water Divining Rod from page 243-244. I know that I invited everyone to spend some time with this one, but I hadn't actually sat down to answer the questions one by one. I wrote abstractly about my thoughts both in my journal and in a couple of blog posts.
There's something to be said for formulating your thoughts into language. I believe that it is a deeper form of understanding.

So here it is:

Have you reorganized your living space?
Yes! Oh my gosh, I hadn't really realized that I had done this during our Finding Water adventure, but I rearranged almost the ENTIRE house! It started with rearranging my writing room. The fresh perspective has been good for me.

Have you thrown anything away?
I hauled several big garbage bags from the basement (which is also the space that acts as my art studio). I got pretty haphazard and overzealous in my mess-making this past winter while doing artwork for the bookstore. It felt good to get it cleaned up. I even mopped the floors and reorganized some of the shelves! But, oh my...I have SO MUCH MORE TO DO! I have declared the basement to be one of my summer projects. My studio space deserves to be so much more than it is!

Has your color sense shifted?
I find myself really attracted to blue and green these days. I am normally a warm color palette sort of girl...so blues and greens are a whole new world for me. Rather watery, wouldn't ya say?

Has your relationship to music shifted?
Um...I named my puppy after Louis Armstrong. And oh-so-long ago I named my old black cat after Cat Steven's song "Moonshadow." I have always had a deep love of music, but a few years ago it sort of fell out of my life. I don't know exactly when or how it happened, but it has returned in full force. A couple of months ago I even moved the stereo into my writing room. The sound is so much better than these stupid computer speakers. I love it!

Do you find yourself being more plainspoken?
Like Elizabeth, I've been trying to not say sorry so often out of habit. Having started 2 new jobs in the past year I found myself saying "sorry" a lot--usually because I was learning something new and felt stupid for not already magically knowing how to do everything. But then I kept hearing myself say it all the time and started to get annoyed with myself.

Also, both of my jobs are very laid back and allow for many conversational opportunities. Finding Water has helped me to be more myself--and my jobs have been conducive to putting what I've learned into action.

Have there been any shifts in your intimate relationship?
Yes--my relationship with my husband just keeps getting better and better. Through Finding Water I've started thinking in new ways and, as a result, Vinny and I have found that our dreams and talents work well together. In some ways we are very different--but we compliment each other well. Business-wise and relationship-wise, this has been good for both of us. It is fun to be working together once again.

Have you experienced any difference in your energy?
Yes! Working outside at the garden shop has done wonders for me. At first I was going to say that this had nothing to do with the Finding Water journey. But then I remembered what I kept writing over and over in the first couple of weeks: I wanted a new work situation! And I got it--immediately. Sun, fresh air, and lots of exercise has done wonders for my energy level, not to mention my outlook!

Have you experienced any weight gain or loss?
Well, barely. At the beginning of Finding Water I got really serious about losing some weight. I lost 5 pounds, but then sort of fell off the wagon, so to speak. I feel like I'm in good physical condition. I am strong and happy. But I could definitely lose another 10-15 pounds. I lost my sense of discipline when I started back at the garden shop. I have, however, continued to eat much healthier--and that in itself counts for a lot.

Have you relinquished--or seriously thought about relinquishing--any other "bad" habit?
Err-ummm, no. Does attempting to quiet my inner critic count?

Are you conscious of having more choices in your daily life?
Oh my gosh--YES!!! I feel like I am starting over with EVERYTHING! Even though my past has contained many eccentrically wild adventures, I always thought my life would turn out in certain ways, that I was headed in a particular direction. It turns out that my life path is something of a forest--with experiences leading in many directions. I will always have my core desires--but I am starting to appreciate all of the surprise opportunities I am finding along the way.

Has your relationship to a Higher Power altered?
To be honest, I got a little sick of the "God" talk. I'm sorry if this offends anyone because that is not my intention at all. Everyone talks about God differently--and I guess you could say that Julia's language felt a bit weird to me. It's not that I don't believe in a Higher Power, but the title, "God," is sometimes awkward for me (blame it on Catholic school). I don't have a word for this Incredible Thing that Connects us--and I don't feel the need for one. Nonetheless, I have appreciated the spiritual aspect of the book. My life feels more balanced because of it. As I wrote about in my last post, I especially am drawn to the thought of how my talents can be of service to others. That alone makes me feel connected in a way that I didn't before.

Are you more comfortable with your spirituality?
Yes. I sense it even in the trees.

What other changes do I envision for my future?
Through this Finding Water journey I have been reminded that the things I most desire will find their way into my life if I just believe in myself and put my energy into it. I remember now: "Oh yeah! ANYTHING is possible!" I feel it happening right now. My life is opening up in all of the ways I was hoping it would. This amazes me beyond words.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

{Checking In} Week 11 of Finding Water

Oh, to be sitting here right now typing feels like such a luxury. I know I probably sound like the crazy dog-lady (and, it's true, I am), but my world has been totally consumed by the new four-legged bundle of piss and joy that has entered our lives. I am completely love-struck. I am smitten for all 15 pounds of fur that follows me around everywhere that I go. Needless to say, even making coffee has become difficult. I mean, if he's sleeping I don't want to wake him up with the loud sound of the coffee grinder. And if he's awake then, well, I'm usually occupied. It hasn't even been a week and, already, he has me wrapped around his little puppy finger.

At the moment Daddy-O (aka Vinny) has relieved me from my duties and has replaced me on the couch where the two of them are curled up together and sleeping. There was never a more luscious site.

Oh yeah...but this is supposed to be my Finding Water check-in isn't it! Sorry. I fear that every word out of my mouth (or my fingertips) is going to be about dogs. It is ALL I have been thinking about lately!

I set out on Week 11 with great intentions of being a DISCIPLINED WRITER. Things started out well. I sat down at the computer every day and was actually accomplishing something. But then Louis the puppy happened and my self-discipline went straight down the tubes. I look forward to someday NOT being a student (if I can even call myself a student) and being able to live my life with just a little less guilt. Or maybe that guilt has already been too deeply ingrained into my brain. Maybe there's no going back. But, I'll tell you, I am sorely tired of always (ALWAYS!) having something hanging over my head. Thesis, thesis, thesis. I know--you must be tired of me writing about it. The thing is that I just can't seem to get it out of my thoughts until I get it out of the way. So why haven't I finished the damn thing yet you're wondering? Well, let's not even bother going there today. The important thing is that--despite my beautiful, time-consuming puppy--I still feel the need to move forward and finish this thing.

I feel torn between hanging out with this chapter, "Week 11: Uncovering a Sense of Discipline," for another week, and moving on so that I can finish the book with the group. I feel like there are some things that I could gain from doing that I haven't yet had time to do. I still want to spend some time with the Divining Rods including the one on page 233-234: considering some of the ways in which my writing (and my art) can be of service to others. Finishing my thesis has been about ME, ME, ME. I'm sick of doing things for me.

Ever since starting the Finding Water journey, I've been using a fortune from a fortune cookie as my bookmark. It reads:
"Use your talents.
That's what they are intended for."

Over the course of the past 11 weeks I have noticed a transformation in my approach to art and writing. Before, I spent a lot of energy trying to perfect my work (both in writing and painting). I wanted to do well in my endeavors. It was also important to me that I be able to express or convey my thoughts and emotions in a way that the world outside of myself could understand. These things are still important to me, but asking myself how my work can be of service to others makes me think of things in a whole new way. Let's face it, the world can be a very selfish place. But I am so tired of always thinking about me. And I'm tired of people who are so consumed with "succeeding" in life that it is the only thing they think about. Sure, I want to succeed--but more importantly, I want to do something that changes the world for the better. If even in some tiny, small way.

I know, I know...I'm starting to sound rather idealistic, aren't I.

Well, the thing is that I keep seeing artwork and reading books that CHANGE ME FOR THE BETTER. And I won't lie: This puppy has had a profound effect in softening the rough edges of my heart. He makes me want to do less for myself and more for others. I want my art and my writing to make others feel the gigantic potential for love that is within each of us. The world can be so endlessly discouraging at times. But then there are those tiny moments that, for one reason or another, we are able to tap into the something-larger-than-us and feel an absolute connection, a seemlessness between our Self and the universe. Even if it only lasts a nano-second--it is enough. I am grateful for the things that make me feel that way. And I've been feeling that way a lot lately. It makes me care less and less about the funky issues attached to the ego, and a lot more about the world outside of my brambling little brain.

This week:
  • I only did my morning pages 3 out of 7 days.
  • I took an extra long walk with wolfie yesterday. It was cloudy, windy and dusk, and it felt good to spend some quality alone time with my "old dog."
  • I didn't go on an artist's date (Instead I spent time with visiting family--my grandparents and my mom came down for the weekend).
The rest of the week was swallowed up by puppy and work. I wasn't disciplined this week in any of the usual ways (although getting up with a puppy a half a dozen times a night to potty IS its own sort of discipline!), but I know that I need to get back to things. I need to train little Louis to give me time to write. He's getting spoiled, but there is something good coming out of all this--and that is a sense of purposefulness. I am learning purposefulness from a puppy. Oh, the universe works in strange ways!


And on a sidenote:
Please forgive me that I've been absent from your blogs. I think about so many of you all of the time! I will return to reading and commenting soon. In the meantime, just know that I am sending supportive energy your way--whatever your current endeavor may be!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Meet Louis

Finally....finally, we found our baby puppy. He came home with us from the shelter yesterday--and I will never be the same again. He's three-quarters Chesapeake, a quarter Lab, and all love. He's 8 weeks old, pees a lot, and loves to be snuggled.

We named him Louis. As in Louis Armstrong--because he falls asleep the second he hears his voice.

I'm in heaven.

And absolutely in love.

Can you blame me?