Love is Really ALL There is

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I knew it…then I forgot it. Then I knew it again…only to forget it when life got complicated. Which it always seems to do.

Long ago I heard and read and was told that the opposite of Love is Fear, not hate. We cannot love when we are in fear.

One by one I unmasked my fears through the long and arduous process of writing a memoir. I described the traumas of my early life. Yet at the end I proposed them a blessing. Then finally, in my fifties, I was able to experience the blessing in the wound. And to say that “Betrayal is sacred when the heart can encompass the whole.”

Sacred Betrayal

By then I had traveled full circle, north, south, east and west, chronicling, delving, seeking answers. The answers came about through the act of writing, another word for delving. If you are me.

IMG_0263And now, nearly at the end of Part Two, the follow up memoir, I can say that Love is Really All There Is.

You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. 

The word love is bandied around a lot, that single precious word a stand-in for different degrees and types of love. Perhaps we know what we mean more specifically when we mention opening the heart. For now, even if we don’t know it, we are talking about the subtle energy body. Something that is usually sensed or felt more than seen. But if we know it’s there we can visualize the heart chakra. This is what has opened. So we can feel more. And through feeling more, know more.

IMG_0952We feel the heart opening when we are in love, but lately I have been feeling a new and different openness through grief. When my ex-husband Michael suddenly became incapacitated six weeks ago, my sorrow was enough to wipe out all the residual, hard-to-let-go-of, resentments I had been clinging to. In the blink of an eye I saw them for what they were, disappointments of the personality, having nothing to do with our relationship on a soul level.

This is the truth that has come home to me as I have watched his mind and body get weaker. It matters little now who was right and who was wrong, or who misled who. Yet while I grieve that we are losing him, I find there is also space for rejoicing. Rejoicing that we knew one another, had a son together, and many years of happiness. These are the memories I am filled with now. Now that my heart has opened again…

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Pillar of Light

PillarWhen it happens that you are a painter with unsold canvases stacked against the walls of your studio and now you have to move, you do the sensible thing and put them in storage because they aren’t doing anyone any good, least of all you. Better these space hogging works of yours should be kept out of sight, yet safe and ready to be pulled out from the darkness whenever you might need them again.

But did I need them again? Once created, view by me over and over again, slides dutifully taken should I ever think to approach a gallery, what was their purpose?

Still, in and out of storage they go, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, under lock and key sandwiched between neighboring compartments filled with a multitude of unknown paraphernalia belonging to others who are also hanging onto things they have no room for at home. But this is New York, and rent for storage, like everything else, goes up every year. So you decide to bring them home again, whether you have the space or not.

Years go by and you are no longer painting, but these are icons of your past, a colorful archive of people and dreams that once haunted you and drove you to such distraction that you had to paint them or die. The dreams changed, the faces too, but the paintings lived on, a record of past struggles. A testament to your triumph over adversity simply because you were able to create a beautiful picture of whatever emotions you were going through, usually comprised of tortuous bliss in its various guises. Heaven and Hell and back again in glorious extremes of color.

Your mind still remembers the sadness of disappointment and betrayal, but the pictures, even when they were sad, spoke of harmony. They may have portrayed a havoc of emotions, yet the world came out balanced. They transformed chaos into line and color. Shapes and forms on the canvas that represented feelings and thoughts you no longer had to keep buried inside because you had no words for them.

You knew this was your very own treasure, whether or not the world saw or cared. The world went about its business, and you went about yours, which eventually meant going back to school in order to learn how to write. You would write the story of the paintings, how they came about and why. Because even though the creation of them represented a mere ten years or so of your life, the backstory felt ancient.

The day you came home with your brand new MFA and saw the paintings stacked against an entire wall of the living room, the smaller ones stacked on top of the larger ones all the way up to the ceiling, you knew enough was enough. It was time to take the canvases off the stretchers and roll them up to save space. Chuck the smaller rolls into the back of the big closet, the larger ones could go in the basement.

It took hours and hours to remove a multitude of staples. Then sweep up them up into a pile of metal in order to make way for the painted sheets of canvas, now freed from the bondage of wooden stretchers. You lay them out on the floor, the largest ones first, and take one last look before rolling them up one by one. The stretchers, meanwhile, have been put out on the pavement, stacks and stacks of wooden rectangles and squares leaning against the iron railings, and are quickly snatched up by an artist from Staten Island who happened to be driving by your house at the time.

Another ten years or so go by, during which time you finish your book and publish it, and call it The Nancy Who Drew. It has a subtitle too, The Memoir That Solved a Mystery, because it was through the writing of it that you discovered what you were on about all those years of painting pictures.

But the pictures, what of them now? The rolls have been squashed together so long in the closet that they have become flattened out. You figure the ones banished to the basement are probably full of mildew by now. And suddenly you can’t bear to think of them neglected down there, left to suffer any more humiliation than they already have. So up they come, back into the warmth and light of your apartment, and this time they are rolled up into one giant roll. During this process you don’t notice any mildew, but damage has been done. Paint has cracked. The floor where you laid them out flat is covered in tiny flecks of color. Their condition cannot be described as anything other than poor, but there’s no use grieving over it now. Just secure the roll with some twine and maneuver the cumbersome thing into the corner behind the door.

A few more years drift by, during which time you write the rest of the memoir, volume two which actually addresses your life as a painter. And one day you happen to look behind the door at the roll of canvas tied with string and think my god—it looks like a pillar! It’s certainly thick enough, and almost as tall as you are. So you think about pillars then, and how they hold things up that would fall down otherwise.

Many more curious thoughts spring to mind having to do with pillars, but this must be all for now. Suffice it to say that thirty years after painting the pictures, what has come to matter most about them is the light they contain, now hidden and out of sight, yet there all the same. For the light is what I went for originally. Searching for my inner light through the darkness of outer reality. Within the pillar you will find my song.

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Programmed For Memoir

lotusI write memoir. For some reason I came into this life equipped only to write personal stories. Whenever I have attempted to make something up it doesn’t hold. It never sounds right. The truth is, despite a rabid imagination, I am not successful in making up stories or fictional characters and fictional situations that might apply to these fictional characters. Far too often I create fictional scenarios for my own life, but these don’t seem to transfer to a character with a name other than mine.

When I want to tell a story, I seem unable to stray from my personal life and the real situations I have experienced. My mind gravitates only to the actual people I have known, the actual situations I have been involved in, as if I am ceaselessly ready to dissect them and ferret out new meanings or deeper meanings.

Perhaps if I had started writing at a younger age—I was in my late forties when I began to take writing seriously—things might have been different. Because by my forties I had become totally fascinated by my own life story and its development. (What happened? How did I get to be the way that I was? …and so on.)

But here’s the odd thing. Whenever I DO try to make up a story, create a different character, speculate on a possible situation and its outcome, my “voice” completely changes. I start talking to myself in pigeon English! Most peculiar. I call it pigeon English, but it’s really the kind of English spoken by someone new to the language. Someone who knows the words on a rudimentary basis and slings sentences together in the most indelicate way. At least hat is how it starts out in the beginning. After a while I come back to myself and rewrite and revise until I recognize my own voice again. But these fictional stories never really come out right. Not like when I write from the personal “I” or the first person.

divine-blueprintSo I began thinking about what this might mean, as it happened again just the other day. And not for the first time did I come up with the idea that I have been programmed to write memoir. Now I don’t mean that someone else programmed me—I programmed myself. Or rather, I have been programmed by my soul. It’s in my blueprint. It’s part of my path.

Over the years I have realized that when I stray from my path there are consequences, and they are unpleasant, causing guilt, unhappiness and remorse. (For how else is one to learn?)

Who, then, is this other, foreign-sounding voice coming through me that wants to make up a story? Well, it cannot be other than myself in a different guise. She, this other me, appears as a different persona. A woman who seems younger and less worldly than I, who is new to the English language. Her voice, though, is startling in its honesty. She has not had my years of conditioning and thus gets straight to the point.

Here is the most recent example. I was ruminating on how my ex-husband thought I was “crazy.” Or had periodic episodes of craziness. Why he thought that is a story for another time. Now obviously this would fall under the category of personal story, personal history. But it is not my current subject matter. It is not something that would go into my current memoir-in-progress, Book Two of The Nancy Who Drew. And yet, because I cannot help myself from putting everything I think or do into the context of story, a title sprang to my lips: Me No Be Crazy. Right away it struck me that the way I was expressing the idea or feeling—was crazy! But for the first time I began pondering why my thoughts went in the direction of this sort of pigeon English, and that seemed a positive outcome. And that was when the idea started to form that not only is my soul programmed for the personal story written in the first person, but if I should stray from this format, the power of speech will not be taken away from me, but it will be skewered into another form, unrecognizable from the way I normally talk or write, because I am only supposed to be writing a particular story, one that ended before I met my last husband. (And the “crazy” episodes occurred.)

Now, you may think Me No Be Crazy is a marvelous title, and I should pursue it. But let me tell you that this has happened before, and if I go with that voice I will soon become lost. The “craziness” lurks beneath the surface. It is never far from me. It is comprised of disordered thoughts, of confused emotions. I dare not give it power.

Instead, I will stick to the program, the one outlined through direct communication from my guides. A story that is almost complete, and going through the revision process. (Me no be crazy indeed…)

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Time Traveler

moon starsI keep forgetting I’m a Time Traveler. Forgetting that we’re all traveling through Time at various rates and speeds, willingly or unwillingly, sometimes in an orderly fashion, other times pell-mell. But traveling all the same. Never standing still (in time), never motionless (in time), always moving, moving, moving.

I know we live in Time, have calendars, seasons, birthdays. I see images of living beings captured in the Past and brought forward into the Present. I see the ravages of time. I see the passing of time. I see and I know, and yet I still keep forgetting.

Death and illness still come as a surprise! Like, how can this be? Like it was never meant to be this way…

These days people generally live longer than they ever have. Death used to swoop down, indiscriminately carrying off young and old, rich and poor. When did old age and death become strange and weird? I know when we leave the body we are only leaving behind a shell that has outgrown its use. But what I know and what I feel can often seem like two different things.

That is why I am taking another look at this watercolor I did back in 1990 of moons and stars and a shooting star. Stepping up into a greater reality. The heavens. The universe… To remind myself of a broader, more expansive view. Then, when I look down again, I see that death is only a transformation into another form (of life, of energy, of being).

And if, as some have said, time has speeded up, or seems to have speeded up of late, our hearts can only beat one beat at a time. So I shall put my focus on that too. Because no matter how fast or slow we are all traveling, as long as we can stay in the rhythm of the heart, and trust the heart, beat by beat, we’ll be alright ~

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Apples and Oranges

apples in a bowlI have wanted to blog about so many things in the last few months—and ended up discarding the ideas before they were even halfway developed. It happens that way sometimes. Like thinking, oh well, this isn’t important enough to share. It isn’t “blog-worthy.” But anything can be blog-worthy! All that matters is at least a smidgeon of passion from the blogger – and the reader will pick up on it.

Yes, we’re always hearing follow your passion, follow your passion—but for those of us who require an audience—we also need to infuse our expression, whatever it is—with passione! (That is “passion” in Italian; it sounds even more passionate when you say it with an Italian accent.)

Eni's OrangesMeanwhile, let’s talk about apples and oranges. These are small watercolors from my (9×12) sketchbook. But there is a richness here. A feeling of plentitude. A sense of yes, there is enough. The apples fill up the bowl. The oranges are stacked up on the plate. It was soothing to draw and paint round things. I did the apples first. What happened was I bought too many. This time of year you can buy them in large quantities relatively cheaply, and you won’t miss a few if you set them out in a bowl to paint. The bowl has been set out for years, though only for decoration.

blue bowlIt is a bowl I inherited from my mother. I remember it from earliest childhood. It was always on the coffee table. She used it as an ashtray. Underneath the apples is a hand-painted picture of a train chugging through the countryside.

The bowl represents the past. The apples are the present. The current harvest. The ripeness of now. The apples are sweet. The memory is sweet.

The oranges are something else again. They belonged to someone else. (And yet I made them mine, didn’t I…) In the end I had to work from a photo as the owner of the oranges started to eat them. But it didn’t matter, as by then I had them down.

Apples and oranges have yet another meaning to me. When we were small, my older sister (who is now gone) said to me, “What is the difference between an apple and an orange?”

When I said I didn’t know, she said, “They’re both red except the orange.”

She had tricked me. And I loved it.

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Coffee Pocket

coffee pocketThat’s right—coffee pocket, not packet, though I’m sure coffee packets exist. Probably in motel rooms, or certain hotel rooms, alongside whatever they’re offering that will allow you to heat up some water. But this is about coffee pockets. I never made my very own coffee pocket before yesterday, and this one needs work, but it does the trick, namely, to hold my coffee container or travel mug in place while inside my bag.

I’ve always appreciated those bags and backpacks with outside pockets large enough for my travel mug. But as this bag I bought last winter didn’t have one, my mug kept gravitating to a lying down position. Which was alright really, as the lid was capable of being screwed on tightly and there were no leaks. But I kept thinking how much better it would be if there was a pocket, you know, in which to insert it so it would stand upright.

You see, when there are so many seemingly unsolvable problems in the world, or even in our own lives, it can be beneficial to focus on a little thing that you can improve. So yesterday I finally did it. I made the pocket for my travel mug and this morning took it out for a trial run. It worked! I guess the next thing to do would be to figure out how to mass produce these handy pockets, assuming of course, that there are other women out there who carry travel mugs in their bags without coffee pockets.

Or maybe not. Probably better to get back to my real work, which is writing a memoir about how I freed myself from the past. This may sound strange, but I didn’t know until recently that that was what it was about. That’s the thing about writing your experiences down; you often aren’t aware of the big picture until you write about all those little pictures your memory bank is still carting around. (Memory pockets!)

One final word about coffee. I don’t have to go out for it. I am currently working from home, in a small office at the rear of my apartment, right behind the kitchen (in the old days it was the maid’s room) where I can make as much coffee as I please. But I like to get dressed up in the morning and join the crowds heading off to work or to school, so that I can have that bit of adrenalin feeling I am heading off to do important things too.

And one final word about pockets. It’s about power. About knowing, in however small a way, that I can make things better/easier/more efficient or whatever, without having to rely on someone else to do it for me. When my son was little I used to make extra pockets for him inside his jackets, and pockets in his pajamas… It’s a Wendy thing. What can I say… Except that the coffee I went out for this morning is all gone and it’s time to get back to work.

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One with the Weather

When I had a television I used to watch Chanel One’s “Weather On The Ones.” And now, on this last day of muggy New York weather, (we are promised it will be cooler and drier by the morning) I have set a goal to be ONE with it. Hot and humid is my least favorite kind of weather. It saps my energy, makes me feel heavy and lethargic. Five minutes after taking a cool shower it’s like I never had one at all.

I’ve heard (in certain esoteric circles) that our thoughts affect the weather. That violent storms are rooted in our own thoughts of violence. That thoughts are things. The expression “thought-forms” means when we have a thought in our head, whatever it is, it takes on a form that can then influence the thoughts of others—near or far. We are all picking each other up all the time whether we know it or not. All these thoughts drifting around the atmosphere, colliding with one another. It’s why we’re always reminded to be positive, so we will attract more positive energies.

This summer of 2014 in New York has been one of the easiest to bear that I can remember. Today won’t be difficult either, as I know relief is in store by tomorrow. But I’m trying to stop myself from longing for the future, even if it is only tomorrow. As soon as the summer began I started thinking as I do every summer, oh geez, I can’t wait till fall! But this year I said wait a minute—why don’t you wish your life away while you’re at it. Be Here Now. And all that.

So you could say I was focusing on my mental process. Meanwhile, I am living in a physical body that reacts to weather. My hair frizzes up. The moisture in the air that curls my hair, swelling each strand and increasing the overall volume, also seems to increase the volume of my body. Regardless of how I look, and even if it is only my perception, I feel fat when it’s humid. Heat expands things, cold contracts. We know this. So it’s no wonder I long for the crispness of fall when I will feel frisky again.

But today, instead of thinking of my bodily response to humidity as a negative, I’m wondering if maybe it hasn’t been a good thing all along. Because I remember seeing this French philosopher being interviewed on television (when I had a television) whose hair caught my attention. As I was listening to what he was saying, I observed the way his hair moved. His hair was longish and wavy, and just as expressive as he was. I can’t remember his words now, only the way his hair moved. How it framed his face, how its personality perfectly expressed the personality and energy of the man. The interviewer, another man, had the short-cropped, combed and sprayed hair you see on most TV anchors. Hair that is always in place, just-so. Hair that never moves. And here was this philosopher, this thinker, with wild untamed—real hair. Hair with personality.

So, just for today, I am going to rejoice in the fact that I am susceptible to changes in the weather. Because, if we live in a world of vibrations then weather is a vibration too. And I respond! I’m a living being, responding to the vibration of heat and moisture in the atmosphere around me. And in case you’re thinking what a fuss I’m making over hair, there’s currently a low-flying helicopter over my neighborhood, back and forth, back and forth, making a lot of noise. I tried to look out the window, but I have window guards which prevent me from sticking my head (of frizzy hair) out. All I could see were the tops of trees and the clouds. Pardon me for being a little jumpy about noisy things flying overhead, but next week is the anniversary of a horrible day, and afterwards the skies over Brooklyn were swarming with all manner of noisy planes and helicopters, setting teeth on edge and making us even more jumpy.

Anniversaries bring back memories. Memories, whatever they are, are also vibrations. It is what it is. Be Here Now. Let It Be. Go With The Flow. See, mastering my unwillingness to face certain kinds of weather may seem a small thing, but it’s all about allowing. Being ONE with what is. And stopping being angry over what is. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to effect change, because I do. I just want to go about it in such a way as to bring in a higher vibration, not add to the anger and fear that’s already present.

Thank you for listening ~ Namaste ~

 

 

 

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