Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Archimedes supposedly yelled, "Eureka!" while lying in a tub of water and happening upon the principle of buoyancy.  Eureka!  Just like that, he understood why things float.  Even things that seem solid and grounded are often floating, unobservable to the naked eye.  The earth's crust.  Icebergs.  Happy women. Yes, sometimes I am floating, even when no one is aware. The ten percent of me you see is the tip of the iceberg deceptively looking like the whole kit-n-caboodle, while the other ninety percent of me is below the surface.  Happiness is bubbling up from deep inside me, detectable only, maybe, in the curl of my lips. I sometimes find myself bobbing in a whole wide warm ocean of happiness and in danger of floating completely away. 

Like Archimedes, I have hit upon the laws that govern my personal buoyancy: when I can forget myself, or what I think of as "self"--a body and a brain, the tip of the iceberg.  When I can let go of the demands of my physical body and stem the constant chatter of my brain which insists on looking in at me from the outside and judging, worrying, planning.  When I am completely and utterly in the present, only in *this* excrutiatingly perfect moment.  As cliche as that sounds, as many times as I have read it and thought about it, it is only when I experience it that I begin to grasp the concept of "be here now."  I can intellectualize it, but I can only fully understand the phenomenon at a cellular level when my head shuts down and my soul takes over.  At that time, I'm no longer Ego, that chattering monkey on my back, that constant observer, commentator, judge.  I am not thinking at all.  I am not Julie.  I am not a mother, lover, programmer, runner.  My thighs are not fat, my wallet is not thin, I am not too much or too little of anything.  I am just joy.  I am an experience.  And it is only afterwards, when I am reflecting on why I felt so content, floating, peaceful, buoyant, that I get it.  I understand what was going on.  Eureka. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

a visit home

This weekend I traveled to the wide spot in the road called Otwell where much of my family lives, and where I lived for many of my kid years. Every Sunday, for a hundred years or so, I occupied a pew at the Otwell United Methodist church, sitting next to my beloved grandma Taylor.  I spent what sometimes felt like endless hours staring at the stained glass window in the picture above. The sermon would get boring, I would get twitchy, my grandma would give me half a stick of juicy fruit gum and something to draw on. Sometimes I would fall asleep against her, and sometimes I would just look at the window. It became as familiar to me, in every detail, as the cracks in my bedroom wall. I especially loved the colors of the sky and rocks and water. My adult brand of spirituality was sending out shoots and roots, even then. There were certain hymns, too, that echoed the picture in the window and spoke deeply to me.

This is my father's world, I rest me in the thought,
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hands the wonders wrought.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;
Then sings my sooooooul...........

I would really belt out these parts, no doubt entertaining every person around me with my seven year old gusto.  I can still hear my grandmother singing them next to me, or singing them quietly as she worked at home. I didn't yet wrestle with the idea of god as a father rather than a mother, god as a man up in the sky versus god as...everything.  I understood why we were singing about rocks and trees and mountain grandeur because I loved the outdoors.  I am still happiest when I'm in a woods or sitting on the side of a mountain or high up in a fire tower looking out over the rolling hills.  As an adult, I've thought many times, that *this* is where I feel closest to whatever spirit dust or star stuff we are made of.  Our childhood, for the most part, was spent in the outdoors, on a very loose tether. Lots of freedom, running wild like dirty, little, barefoot animals. Even reading, which I loved, was done mostly outdoors, under a tree on a blanket spread on the ground, on a porch swing, or on one of my grandmas red metal porch chairs that I could make gently, meditatively bounce.

In any case, I could believe in a god who created the grasses of the field and the birds of the sky, the water and the rocks and the wind.  I could relate to those songs and understand the feeling of god whispering to me through the leaves of the trees. Even at a young age, though, I got really stuck on the idea of a wrathful god who killed babies and sent plagues and destined people to burn in hell for all eternity for some screw up here or there. What kid wanted to think about a god who wanted people to kill a lamb in sacrifice, much less one's kid?  Yuck.  The stained-glass version of Jesus gently carrying the baby lamb and enjoying the slippery feeling of bare feet on mossy rocks seemed more likely.

As an adult, I have been told that I cannot pick and choose the parts I like in a religious belief, and toss the rest. And yet I see no compelling reason why I shouldn't listen to my heart when it comes to what seems loving and Christlike or Buddhalike or Mohammed-like.  Why I shouldn't accept the parts that are echoed in the beauty and sense of all of the natural world--not all things fair, but all things in balance-- and reject the things that seem hateful and dark. I've never found a convincing reason why I cannot embrace the gentle (albeit overly caucasion) Jesus in the window,  and still reject the dogma and ritual and judgment and hellfire.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

down dog

This photo is not me.  I don't know what I look like in down dog, although I spend a good portion of my life in this position.  I know that when I'm in yoga class I try to really listen, take the small adjustments to heart, and work at externally rotating this and internally rotating that to get the most out of each posture.  And when I'm doing my practice at home, I try to stay aware of all of these things, try to turn on the inner teacher voice and not just buzz through a practice on auto pilot. The times I am most tuned in are the times I feel the most calm and powerful.  Yes, calm--little miss story-writing, future-tripping, worry-warting, kid-stressing, job-freaking me.  And powerful.  Love the powerful part, too.

Just in the past two months--after faithfully practicing in class once a week for over two years, and practicing at home once or twice a week for much longer than that--a few things clicked into place for me in a big way.  Wow.  It's amazing when that happens.  When you get so deep into something that years later you realize that it all goes so much *deeper*, that you will always, ALWAYS, be learning something.  It's that way with anything we truly commit to, right?  Whatever we commit to--art, running, relationships, yoga--it all goes so much deeper.  How exciting that I will continue to make new discoveries, that I will see bulbs light up and hear those cosmic clicks in my head or in my heart or my body five years from now, and ten years from now, and when I'm 80. I love the thought of spending the rest of my life fully expecting and experiencing those little epiphanies. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I just want to remind you that you are enough, just as you are.  There is no need to change anything about yourself to impress me.  These skins we cover ourselves in--distractions that are not truly part of our nature or our core selves--these skins are not opaque enough to hide behind other than to the casual observer.  You may be mollified by the fact that there are lots of casual observers who will only see you at skin deep.  Will only, ever, perhaps by choice, see you at that shallow level.  But make no mistake, I am not a casual observer.  When I look at you, it's more like listening.  It's more like feeling, processing, breathing you in.  Behind what we make ourselves out to be, behind the script we memorize and recite aloud, even to ourselves, even when no one else can hear and it doesn't matter, is the shining light of the person we really are, the person that someone, somewhere, sometime is destined to love deeply, unconditionally, and always.  I think about these things, when I'm feeling like I'm faking some part of myself to build myself up or just to get through.  Not faking so much as...trying too hard?  Not trusting that *I* am enough?  Not loving myself enough? I think about this and ask myself, will my true love see beyond my exterior and recognize me?   

Friday, January 18, 2013

making space: friday

Last night I furiously cleaned the kitchen because I have some women friends coming over and I know that women notice things like clean kitchens.  I actually love a clean kitchen, but during the work week I really have to let go of a lot of my expectations in that regard.  I try to keep up on the dishes and sort of swab the decks, but stuff builds up on the counters, in the cabinets, on every available surface.  Paperwork, boxes of cereal which don't make it back into the pantry, piles of fruit that are left out so that we will remember to eat them, bags of split peas and rice and other bulk items that don't have a good place to go.  So it is mostly clean (please keep this in mind if you eat at my house) but things just get very junked up, and I prefer things to look clean and clear.  I like, in general, an open expanse of counter space, table space, surfaces gleaming without clutter.  Not that we don't have plenty of it around, but I would prefer no small items cluttering up surfaces. My mother is a collector of small items, and her house is beautiful, but I simply can't deal with too many things on surfaces.

So I cleaned and I scrubbed--stove, counters, around the sink.  I removed clutter from the cabinets, appropriately storing them or throwing out.  I then attacked the things that were just sitting around on the floor.  The bread machine, for instance.  I use it very occasionally.  I want it easily available in the hopes of using it more, but I don't think it needs to sit in the floor.  To make cabinet space for it, I had to do a major clearing out and re-organizing of stuff.  I just dug in and did it, and I managed to get the bread machine (not a small item) into the cabinet.  This, I felt, was a truly major feat of making space.  Before I went to bed last night, I took one more look at the kitchen.  It was gleaming and quite a bit more clutter free.  This made me so happy that I am re-inspired to keep going with this goal of getting rid of something every day.  The internal work continues as well.  Things are churning and changing beneath the calm surface.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

making space: the days that followed

I ran into LH the other night and felt terrible guilt about starting a blog challenge--with the best of intentions--and then not doing even as well as those who took up my challenge!  But I am letting that go.  I am staying true to the challenge in my heart.  The thinking about my Sankalpa, rolling it around in my heart and my mind and giving it fertile ground upon which to grow.  Nurturing the idea that I am all I need to be, I have all I need, there are just aspects of the all that need to be brought into  full fruition.  I am still getting rid of actual physical stuff, too.  I am keeping this short for now, because  once again, life calls, and I am off for a run with BRB Tanya, over our lunch hour.   More later.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

making space: day something

I am losing track of the days on this blogging and space making experience, although trying to stay consciously aware, each and every day, of my Sankalpa, my promise to myself, and I think things are going well in that regard.  For the past couple of days I have been tempted, verily I say, TEMPTED to my limits by all the catalogs that have appeared in my mail box.  I am actually in the process of trying to get some of these catalogs canceled, because I can see all the same things online.  I didn't ask for any of them in the first place!  While they do make good bathtub reading material, the bottom line is that they make me want stuff I don't need, and I know good and well that desire=suffering.  Sometimes, though, I try to look through them with the thought that I probably already own something similar, and if I tried, I could probably go into my closet and pull together an outfit much like the one I am coveting.  Or the old standby thought, "I could make that."  That way it stirs creativity more than desire.  Or so I tell myself.  Creativity is good, and something I definitely don't make enough space for these days.  Suffice it to say that though I have been tempted, I have not purchased.