Friday, December 7, 2012
Dearest friends, It's been such a wonderful year for Poem, Sweet Poem. I've really let the blog take me in many new, different and exciting directions. It appears I've been swept up in the written word/text/image which I didn't expect, but that's the way of creativity and expression I suppose. Bloggers/writers/artists/dreamers, you can relate in one way or another, right? Well, anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the ride! As for these next three weeks, I'm anticipating a very busy time with lots of plans, new projects and adventure. I'm signing off for now, but will see you with new spirit and energy in 2013. Much love and happy holidays! xoMegan
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
This was a Thanksgiving of firsts. It was my first spent in Northern California, without my family, and my first to greet turkey day in the great outdoors. In preparation for my experiment in independence, I read Michael Chabon’s essay in the latest issue of Bon Appetit. In “The Comforts of Not-Home,” he writes about his family’s Thanksgiving ritual of not cultivating any particular tradition and, instead, keeping things freshly unfamiliar, year after year.
My family tradition can be described in a word: cozy. We begin by watching Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving Special. The ancient VHS features Martha’s homemade holiday, in which she harvests cranberries knee-deep in a bog and roasts pheasants in her very own smokehouse. Inspired, we get to work in the kitchen. Although the menu never changes, our meal is enjoyed with an element of surprise. After all, homemade pecan pie only comes but once a year.
This year, as I embarked on a break with custom, I was inspired by Chabon’s narrative of celebrating change and building a tradition on non-tradition. Inspired, but also hesitant. What would Thanksgiving hold for me, without anticipating the taste of my Mother’s apple chestnut stuffing or my Grandmother’s thick and creamy turkey gravy?
I made a decision: if I was taking Chabon’s “comforts of not-home” approach, I would do so literally. First step: wake up in a tent on Thanksgiving morning. After a night of camping with friends in Point Reyes, it felt oddly festive rising with the sun to the sounds of wild critters. It was a morning of scents, not so much savory or sweet, but rather earthly and crisp. Aromatic Eucalyptus and Bay wafted through the air, as we waited quietly for a close-knit family of deer to cross the trail.
A Thanksgiving of firsts, I accepted an invitation to join a friend and her family that night for dinner. It was her first time hosting and my first as a guest. The meal was traditional but, of course, progressive for me. Tired and full, I skipped dessert and ate my first pumpkin pie of the season a day late. It wasn’t even from the leftovers. It was brand new.
Monday, November 19, 2012
It was arranged this way, it was in place when I got here. Then I show up, essentially a part of it. Not part of its make-up, its conception. More a part of how it meets the world. The two of us meet and, without speaking, it's as if something is said.
No utterance, no whole. But holy still. No words, no. Conversation silently. Me to you, you to me and then me and then. It's always about the me in here. No words but we aren't hungry anymore. We no longer feel the need to see to believe, hear to dream. Good night. No, good. Just good.
I don't need to eat, but will find something else to make me whole. The middle, right, the middle. The meeting, any place. You to me, bird to tree. It hums and shakes its wings, its heavily rain-drenched leaves. The bird sits and sings. The bird sits and sings.
Goodness, how arranged. The light plus the pavement wet and fine. I trusted you once, when you said something. You said, vast emptiness. You said, leaf on your sleeve. Notice, don't believe. I trust you now and then, the clouds. Coming at me. Me to you, you to mountain top. Arranged and no head.
At the end of the day, at the end of the day. We are here, we are not theory. We are around and circles like the dew. Once was rain now is when I kissed the petal. When I saw the rose and stuffy nose. I chopped the wood and not a single splinter. I hiked the trail and mountain top, foggy few.
Leaves of sleeves, leaf on, just leave me. Both here first, both arranged and born. I didn't come to make you, so leave the making, leave it left. I made myself a house made out of tree branches. I lived in it. The wood was there and fine but branches let me see. Wraparound porch of pine.
Monday, November 12, 2012
So much happens inside of the yoga studio. As a practicing yogi, I think I get the idea: I unroll my mat, sit in a comfortable cross legged position, gently touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth (slightly grazing the back of my two top front teeth), and engage in Ujjayi Pranayama (also know as: deep breathing). As the class begins to flow, we are a collective symphony. I stretch my limbs and move my body, holding poses for many, many rounds of breaths. Sometimes, we practice to the sound of rhythmic chanting. Other times, we are inspired to have fun and go wild, practicing to the pulses of a Lil' Wayne or Madonna top-40 hit (anything is possible).
As my breathing becomes oceanic, I picture myself fathoms below sea-level, imagining -- no, believing -- I can take myself anywhere and withstand any discomfort, simply by relying on my breath. I sweat, I move faster, I find my body more limber. I twist, I fold, I back bend, I go upside down. I lose my balance, my mind drifts, I think about what's for dinner. I remember why I was sad when I woke up that morning. I look forward to my next vacation. We come down to our mats and cool down, letting our bodies slowly melt into the earth. We offer thanks, dedicate our practice to a loved one in need, we set intentions.
I often feel hesitant going into class, given how vulnerable and naked the practice of yoga can often make me feel. Why open myself up to feelings of stress, self-loathing, or, even worse, memories from the past? I've often felt anxious in certain poses that physically turn my back to the world (child's pose or pigeon pose, where we hide our faces into the earth). As if lost in a dark woods, I'm fearful of what's behind me.
In moments of frustration, I've felt tension only to discover I'm grinding my teeth or looking around the room. I compare myself to others. I wonder why the teacher is making us do my least favorite poses. I look at the clock. I'm disjointed when my mat slides around. I'm jolted when my sweat prevents me from doing certain poses that require a steady hand on a shin or a sturdy wrap and bind. I try to hold myself up, and I find myself slipping.
Well there it is. That is life. How do we react when this daily problem occurs: we try to hold ourselves up but we are confronted with conflict? We try, we see others doing it better, but no: we are spiraling, slipping, losing. Yoga is a physical practice, but yoga is also your life. The majority of the time, I feel safe on my yoga mat. Even if I'm exhausted or having a bad day, I can retreat to a passive pose and let the guidance of my teacher lend me comfort and strength. Where is this action in life? Where is this safety?
I don't have all the answers, but I noticed something recently. It is true: I have never left a yoga class unfulfilled. I've never left feeling anything but elated, healthy, happy, free, confident, on-top-of-the-world. Thoughtful, too. Like I said earlier, it hasn't always been that way going into a yoga class. It's often like pulling teeth, dragging myself to a 90 minute yoga class. Remember the nakedness? The vulnerability? And yet...
For two years, I've found myself hooked onto an early morning yoga class. Before work, before traffic, before the commute, before interacting with the day. Waking up early can be a challenge (especially with a late night prior, creating less hours of sleep than I would prefer) but in general it's the promise of yoga that gets me out of bed. No kicking and screaming, just a soft float. It's the walk into the studio, the "checking in" at the front desk, the knocking off of my shoes, the filling up of my bottle bottle with cold, nourishing water. It's my teacher's ear-to-ear grin, smiling as she greets me at the door. It's the promise that no matter what happens today, I am loved because I love this practice.
That is also life, right? We are loved because we love.
So much happens in a yoga studio. The class, the breathing, the mats, the music, the teacher. It's what happens outside of the studio that puts us to the test. Can I practice a calm and silent nature in times of conflict? Can I sit in traffic with as much ease as when I sit on my mat, meditating for a whole 5 minutes. The whole 5 minutes often feel like a lifetime. In yogi terms, it is. It's yogi's choice how we chose to live it.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Once I came from a different city. It was more then when I was new. Now I am something like old. Older is more like it. More than the other. Not so much gray hair, gentle eyes. A knack for telling stories. I am not as young as before. That's it. We were never talking about me, though, were we? It was my relation to the city. Very different than just me. Very much a relationship.
I am inside this city. I go to its parks, its buildings, and its museums. I eat at its restaurants, shop at its stores, and I read books at its libraries. Those that know me know that's a lie. The last part. The books I borrow are given to me. When was the last time? A healthy exchange. Read the pages, but particularly the words on them. Communicate. You can read the pages, but really it's all about the words. Inside is luxurious.
There's really just something about the rows of homes. Your feet on the bathroom floor. Who made this place their home? Who said, one day, I come and go from here. I have my fights in here. I close the door in here. I make delicious food here. In this kitchen, I take a soul and fill it. I take a knife to my food and make tears fall from my eyes. I close my door to here.
We leave here and it's forever. We wake up and lost the day before. The day before that is long gone, too. Don't even get me started on last week. What the hell was that all about? My foot is in this city. I crunch leaves how you eat food. Swallowing the season, I am forgetful. What's it all about? Suddenly every day is a Monday. I will catch up never. Every city is different, yet they are all the same. The same for days. All the same.
Some cities have naked trees, others have leaves. Palm trees. I feel sand under my toes, like the crunch of leaves without the sound. Same memory. My skin is softer now. Unlike under the fall and winter. I am dry like the desert. Then and now, but not today. You touch my face and find it the same as before. No, you are wrong. It's still a different city.
Every age, I am here. If here is the present, then believe the last thing I said. Who couldn't? Be here. Be present. Be those things and don't believe me, that's fine too. You are likely older, wiser. Your hand is like my memory. Of long lines and withering. Waiting for the fall. Some might say you are the naked tree. Some might say you are of winter. Here, you are listening. Here, you are with me. Giving shade from the sun. With me. Here, and young.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
A crowd. Staring over heights of high. A crowd. Instead I yearn for simplicity.
The brewer of a good batch. Instead bubbles, of bath. I yearn for a cup in my hand. I yearn for. Where is the good man.
The good flock. Birds and wall. The wall, a sky. Back to the ocean instead of the city. The storm. The city thunder.
Hearing it, below the staircase winding. I yearn for chores. Household tidy. Cleaning up, out, down, out, around. My face is clean. My shower is used. I put my foot inside the boot. It was empty. I feared a spider. Or two. I fear for it, and it's getting stomped by me.
I am a meal. Instead of a person, I ate the last. I am the grain, the fat, the protein, the. Boil me, like water. Fry me, like I did. The last time. The last. A person is like food. Warm it up, break it down.
Simple place is for sitting. We used to go in the corner. We used to stare at the wall. Flock of birds. Flock of four corners, a house, four walls. A corner meets in the middle. I am in the middle of. A flock of birds. Some call me the leader. I look behind and see nothing. They who followed went away.
It took time, instead of thought. It takes time, like mist falling down. A water-pour onto the highway, onto the bay. It moves slowly, instead of go, go go. Instead of simplicity, I yearn for hunger. Being full. I sat in this place. I sat me down. It took time, oh. A flock of birds. The flew. The last, and the last one, also following.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
You are given a bunch of pink hydrangeas. Listen close now. A bunch is not a lot. A bunch is a bunch in flower terms. Speaking florally, this is a measurement. The clean content of language in a word. Hold the bunch. Like a bride, like a flower girl. Hold the bunch because you want to feel beautiful. You want to smell the beauty from your hand.
Different, say, than miles. Miles of errands we run on the daily. Hourly tasks, broken down into minutes. One minute I think of what I must do. The next minute I think of what I must do, must do. Listen close to miles of inside chatter. Inner child.
Start over. You are given a bunch of hydrangeas. They are for you, but considering thought, a thought considered, you might scatter them. Let the wind carry the petals, taking them away. You might scatter them into the wind. Suddenly, the city is drifting.
It yells out to you, come back to the city, city girl. Don't let the mountains raise you, don't let the tree hug you. Try not to live inside the trunk. You know, in the area they carved out for you? Try not to live inside that spot.
Outside you don't have to make bunches of things. It's already done for you. Landscapes arranged. Flowers together. Even the sky is painted. At night there are stars. During the day there is a jet-stream. Farther away, there are clouds. Farther from the city, there are only clouds.
Sit here, anyway. Sit here and write a poem, the poem you thought you saw. With words, and line breaks, and there is even a line that rhymes. Two minutes, or three. You think a thought. You think the next thought: I will try to think less, though. Think less about what I have to do. Think less, making lists. Think more, thinking more. Two minutes, or three. The table is square and the chair is holding me. I am sitting in this chair and it is holding me.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Forget Spring cleaning. Sometimes it feels like every month is a time for cleansing. It could be as frequent as every week for me. Naturally, when I say cleansing, I don't mean "cut out sugar" or "juice cleanse" or "gluten free for a week." I'm into all of that too, but this isn't a food and health related exercise. This is more of a cleanse o' soul, cleanse o' mind-frame, cleanse o' paradigm. A re-centering of sorts. Is that the word? Alright, scrap "cleansing." Centering. Let's get our "center" on for a minute.
What does that even mean? Well, since I'm not an expert, it can mean whatever I want it to mean and the same goes for you. Achieving a state of mindfulness, returning to your emotional roots, remembering who you really are. So much gets in the way of where we are going, especially where we have been. I'm not knocking the past, but, in order to move ahead, I often have to remove the emphasis from "what happened" to "where I've been taken" - up to now. Centering is simple. Or, rather, it's in the simplicity where I find myself most centered. Here's my guide. My non-expert's guide.
1. Find the fog. Go for long walks in the thickness of morning. Early enough that you feel ahead. Late enough to grab coffee on the way back home.
2. Don't pass it by. If you see something different on the street, stop for a minute. Be curious about what people are doing.
3. Follow written instructions and use your hands to make something beautiful. If it tastes good, it's even better.
4. Get lost in something warm, like a cozy sweater that might be a little too big. Write a letter to a friend. Maybe an old friend or a past love. No one says you have to send it.
5. Bike to work. Even if the commute will take 2x the amount of time it would take if you drove or took public transportation. Everything looks different from here, at this height and angle. Wear a helmet!
7. Accept an invitation to a party. You may only know the host and you might not have a date. Going solo is a great way to face your fears in an engaging environment. Talk to a stranger, even if you don't initiate. Accept an invitation to say hello and the rest will follow.
8. Clear your surfaces. This isn't just about dusting. Go through the piles that have accumulated. Yes, your books are dusty, but really, they just need to breathe, like you and me.
9. Take a long drive and stop many times along the way (not just for the bathroom). Get out of the car, checking out the view. Auto pilot is a real threat. Of course, it's something to utilize in certain circumstance, but not when there's beauty right in front of you.
10. Take a silly picture of yourself. Make a funny face, capturing the pureness of being with yourself. You might feel goofy and like a child again. Such fun to tap into that, though. We spend so much time being serious. Laugh at yourself, feeling safe in your very own sense of humor. No one is watching or judging. It's all you.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
On Sunday, I went on a 30 mile bike ride, wearing only saltwater sandals. On Fell street, a fellow biker told me I was brave going with the open-toed shoe option. I disagreed, offering a new adjective to describe my footwear: stupid, actually. As he bolted off into the fog, he let me off the hook, deciding the words are synonymous. Brave, stupid. I suppose we need a little bit of both in all of us to get the risky job done.
Two days later, my feet feel great -- strong and well-traveled. Kind of like me. On the long ride to Larkspur (via the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and the Tiburon Peninsula), I couldn't help but meditate on how good it felt to "fly" out of the city like that. Then, I realized, I've been "flying" out of the city all summer. Not on my bike, but mostly in cars and planes. I might need to ease off of my carbon footprint for a while (sandal shaped, of course), and while I do, I will look back on all of the amazing journeys I've been on.
The best way to start the summer is with a sister weekend in Palm Spring with Heather. Since there's no chance of getting a tan in SF between May and September, I venture elsewhere for the sunshine.
Russian River weekend with my girls. We had kayaks and a dock. What else does one need for waterfront living? Oh, yes, we had books. And we stumbled upon a Rodeo. We let the river take us where we needed to be.
LA on July 4th to see Beach House in concert (I skipped the fireworks, too!). Fun family time in sunny LA, and lots of couch time preparing for the next big thing...
Celebrating love and friendship in the city of lights. No words, just sun-kissed smiling faces.
Napa Valley for pool-time, wine, and yoga! More tanning (out of the city, naturally).
Backpacking in Desolation Wilderness! It's such a dream to camp alongside an alpine lake, swimming and hiking all day. Magical escape...
Last trip of the summer (I think, although, there are still a few days to squeeze something in) was Santa Fe (most pics from that one in my last post). Hiking in the Pecos Wilderness, soaking in tubs at 10,000 waves and eating more than one plate of Enchiladas. Such sweetness to cherish.