Archive for now

Being Here Now

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I’m risking making space in my life for the present.

I was inspired by Debbie Kerr’s recent post about cleaning out her closet. I have a lot of stuff in my house right now. Much of it came from the homes of my mother and mother-in-law. Their extra belongings filled our extra space, as we eased their journeys into assisted living.

It’s time to begin digging out from under the clutter we accumulated.

My husband is working on an estate sale for his mom, and I’m slowly taking inventory of my own clutter, before I even deal with my mother’s.

Recently I gave some lovely pieces of clothing to a theatre costume shop. The gift included two gorgeous pairs of shoes that had been my grandmother’s, that I had worn occasionally and really loved. There was also a nice business suit that was just a bit too small for me. (It had been too small even when I bought it. Wishful thinking made me believe I’d lose five pounds.) All of it was beautiful, and all of it represented a part of my life that I had held onto longer than I needed to.

As I let go of those clothes, I heard myself telling the costumers that I hoped they’d be useful in a play, because they didn’t belong in my life. They were reminders of who I’m not anymore, and I’ve decided to be who I am now.

Let somebody else be who I used to be.

I realized that I was only able to let go of those things because I’ve started shifting my thinking, very slowly, toward an appreciation of the present.  The words “be here now” are the best advice I know of, as I seek to live peacefully within my changing emotional landscape.  I have so much to be grateful for, when I stop and pay attention to it all.

Letting the past be the past, and not burdening the future with my worries:  those are my risks for today.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

Risk. Regret. Realism.

By Guest Blogger, Andrea Lea-Kraus.

risk

1: Possibility of loss or injury : peril
2: The chance that an investment (as a stock or commodity) will lose value

regret:
1 a : To mourn the loss or death of
1 b : To miss very much
2 : To be very sorry for

realism:
1 : Concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary

Sometimes… when the concept-mosquitoes are swarming around the muggy, boggy swamp of my mind… 

I have to dip into the clear, cool, as-yet-untainted (by that sticky, humid, south Georgia-in-July, bulldog-with-a-bone mind), Merriam-Webster-well take on what words mean. Take it back to the basics. Detach a little. Relax the jaw.

Somehow, grabbing onto a definition helps things feel less personal when every thought in the swarm seems to itch for days, sometimes at an intensity level that sends me clawing awkwardly for that unreachable spot one inch to the right of the angel-bone – you know, the one on the tight-shoulder-side of life.

Words like shame, regret, disappointment, regret, never, too late, settle, dissatisfaction, regret, are fast-breeding parasites in the muddled mind; squatters in the high-rent district whose rights are illogically and ironically protected by universal law, who have only to show up to get a free meal and a place to stay.

How unfortunate and unfair that words like forgiveness, self-love, beauty, perfection, joy, good, have to be lassoed into one’s consciousness over and over, with never-ending dedication and a fool’s faith – like doing crunches every day to keep in touch with those abs we’ve heard are underneath – just to make a blip on one’s screen of awareness (I mean, how many crunches have you done without seeing any result? What does it take???).

So, several parasitic concepts are giving me the itch right now.

The double-edged blade of “risk” is neither friend nor foe, though we tend to sing the praises of the shiny side of the sword here (and rightly so – enough of that toothy, serrated side being worshipped out there), but I cannot help but see how the risks I have taken in my life have mostly led me down the painful path to regret. My mind is pretty clever sometimes, in the Cheshire Cat way that minds can be clever enough to lead one just out of earshot of one’s higher voice – one’s True Voice? – so intellectually I know that I can take this idea and spin it into a positive… but where does the spin begin and where does it end?

Once I start the new-age “think positive” spin, how do I decide what was first spun and what is just REAL?

I can say that all my risks worked out because we all got out alive and it could always be worse, but that’s not real – that’s not what I really feel. That’s a manufactured thought, designed by the Cheshire cat mind and the new wave of feel-good thinking which, by the way, I buy into 99%.

I keep being drawn back to the scene in Adam Sandler’s Spanglish where Tia Leone’s character is having a nervous breakdown in her big, black SUV with her mother standing by the window saying, “lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense.”

I usually only write or appear in any way when I have something figured out; when I have trekked past the mirage’s promise of quenching my thirst on the surface, and burrowed deeply enough into the earth’s bosom to slurp one sip of crystal clear truth, swirling it around on my parched palate, grateful and cleansed…

But that is not where they send my mail. I am thrilled to have a glimpse now and then and bring home my big fish tales to anyone who’ll listen, but I dwell too in this buggy swamp with the squatters and skeeters.

I am not sure what I am risking today. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually known what was at risk in the moment that I “took” it. There has always been an unfolding of joys or consequences I could not have seen around those corners. I’m not sure if it is “good” to share the negative feelings while they still feel negative. I’ve always gone with the if-you-don’t-have-something-nice-to-say dogmatic principle, so this is a new approach for me.

I’m going to say that I’m risking looking at my shit realistically and owning the fact that I feel, at times, like I could drown in a sea of regret. Like I am on damage control. Like I’ll do the best with where I got myself but I followed that damn disappearing, hallucinated Cheshire cat so far off course that I have given up on finding my way back… like I can never risk again because I am frozen by the cold reality of how long and empty the hall of life can feel and how far an echo can travel. Like I need to mourn some losses (is mourning a task one can ever complete?).

Maybe I’m risking a different kind of honesty.

My life is so good and I have so much to be joyful about in the NOW – but I am apparently never quite finished punishing myself for my past mistakes, so I have to rip myself out of the moment (don’t worry, I know it’s wrong and I am already punishing myself for this, too). That’s not the sort of thing you admit on a blog! This is a place for higher thinking and self-development, answers and solutions, steps forward and progress!

The best I can say is that Mercury is retrograde and I am, too.

This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay Blog Project which has now concluded.

 Andi Lea-Kraus is a yoga teacher, personal trainer, writer , and all-around artist who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not teaching, training, writing, painting, taking photos, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks. Andi’s plans for the future include finding her way to the musical theatre stage. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website here.

As Is

By guest blogger, Andrea Lea

Last night I had a gentle aha moment… usually they slam into me and I am juiced and invigorated by the energy of them, but this was different. It kind of slid in like mud under a closed door. I was feeling resistant to it and defeated by it – it felt like an impossibility for me. It was too obvious. I should have mastered this already. One of those teachings that we’ve all heard so many times that we are numb to its power (at least I was).

No matter how hard you push, you will not move forward until you accept yourself HERE in the moment of NOW.

Oh no. Wait, wait, wait… Really?

I have no shortage of ideas or enthusiasm – ever. I am gloriously tapped in to Grace and am able to channel wisdom and universal love and non-judgment for everybody else. I will risk saying that I am an inspiration to many around me, and it is no risk saying that I am completely sincere in all my efforts. But I have placed such conditions on my love for myself that I can never ever feel safe there.

I am so harsh – mean, even. I am racked with a guilt that is a near-tangible, very conscious part of my every day life. Guilt is not God-energy. Guilt overrides joy and blocks flow. I put myself down and belittle my own efforts before they’ve been made. I shoot down my ideas and place them under the category of “Excellent and Profitable Idea for Someone More Capable and Valid than YOU.” I have frozen myself – paralyzed my progress – with the kind of pressure you see rich white parents in the movies put on their kids to move in a certain direction or else.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a miserable person. I’m just stuck. This week a dear friend who is stuck in a different way reached out to me and I told him to try to picture himself where he wanted to be. We talked about some of those details and I said to him, “For me, this requires no imagination. That is who you already are. That is how I see you.” It was very powerful for him to hear that. My love for this friend is unconditional. When he achieves what he is striving for in life, I will not love him any more or less than I do right now. My love for him is as constant as time. I will be happy for him. But he is right now the person I love.

I have a beautiful life, one for which I am limitlessly grateful. I have the most amazing and resilient family. My daughter is such a gracious teacher for me, and so beautiful look at and soft to hold. My dad is a present and loving parent and grandparent who moves quietly beyond the usual parameters of those titles with joy and non-judgment. My boyfriend is a true love; supportive and creative in thought and action, shares my core beliefs, and remains completely calm when I am stormy (a miracle in itself, I tell you), and is my most fun playmate ever. My home is warm and open and comfortable, full of kids and dogs and friends and family. My cupboard is full and there’s always something delicious on the stove.

I am surrounded with so much love. But right now, I need to learn to love myself in this moment. There are so many things I want to do… but I cannot withhold love and acceptance until they are all done… Until I’m perfect!

Today I am going to risk calling in some help. I am going to borrow the love and the vision my dear ones hold for me, and start seeing myself and loving myself the way they love me. They know my imperfections, and they place no conditions. I am going to do my best to do unto myself the way I do unto others: that means no judging, only encouraging and loving. Sometimes moving forward means standing still and accepting not only what the moment of now brings, but also accepting yourself, warts and all, in that moment, right where you are on your path.

Holler if you hear me…

Andrea Lea is a writer who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not painting, taking photos, writing, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks.

This post was originally posted RiskADay.com.

Poetry and the Olympics: History, Then and Now

Back at the beginning of this series, I talked about the history of the relationship between the arts and the Olympics.  In fact, it was learning about this that inspired me to write the series in the first place.  And recently, I was forwarded a great link by a loyal reader to even more details about the period during the modern Olympics when the arts were included in the competition.  It details several winners of medals in the Arts portion of the games, including one man, Alfred Hajos, who also won two medals for Hungary in swimming, and the only woman to ever win a gold medal in Olympic Arts.  She was a Finnish poet, and her name was Aale Tynni.

Again, the link for learning more and seeing examples of the winning work is here.  Feel free to go there now and enjoy!

PS  Wasn’t that a great USA v USA match in Beach Volleyball between Misty May-Treanor /Kerri Walsh and Jen Kessy /April Ross?  Talk about making history!