Monday, September 24, 2012

A Non-Expert's Top Ten Guide to Centering

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!

6. Go see a show. Something live, displaying creativity. Bluegrass, choral, poetry, theater, art, fashion. Walk around the galleries by yourself. You may not have studied art history, but like the poetry from the English Renaissance, you cannot not help but feel something. Go home and try it yourself.

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. 

Staying put for a while. If I get antsy, I always have the bike, the road, and, yes, the saltwater sandals.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Desert to Dreams

Morning and far from home. In a house, but not a home and, yet, the furniture asked me to stay. The warm smells from the kitchen say "eat" and be full.

But then, there are these feet and what are they if not takers of me? What do they do when they do not move? Massage them, sure, OK, in fact, yes, please do. Wrap them in hot towels and rub them with lavender oil. Sometimes my toe nails are orange. Sometimes they are too long. But not my legs, not so much. I've always been small.

Learned to eat vegetables and fruit too late. Is that why I am only 5'3. At the DMV, the clerk asked if all my physical traits are the same. I didn't want him to know that, yes, since I was 16 I have maybe gained weight and when I wear green my eyes are the same color. On paper they are brown. On paper they are wider. When I have to think, they get big.

If I'm not home and I'm not in the house that isn't my home, I am away. On vacation to the desert or other summer flings. I will try the food of the town and think it's the best. I will look at every stranger and feel comforted by their strangeness. In their face, I feel familiar. As for the tourists, I am one of them until I stay longer than 10 days. As of yet, I am still one of them. Pointing, making flashes, watching the people who live here. I am validated by their otherness. Oh, this town.

I am full before the harvest, like a seed pod waiting to empty. My earth will be nourished by my memory of trips before this one and the next. My home no longer the earth because it is another planet. It can't be reached on foot and our atmosphere is pure. As for now, there is no way to come or go. Somehow I came from there, but I don't know how.

There is proof I had a home, there is evidence of bringing up, there are clues that point to my childhood. Most of these things are locked away in safety, around the corner from the street I grew up on. No one has the key. Other things, other proofs, I wear on me. I show the outside world that some objects have meaning. They are from the past so, don't worry, I'm not materialistic.

And I drink loads and loads of tea.

I look through other people's windows and can't see a thing. I think I make out a scene: a mother, a father, there are children and, of course, they are small. It might be dinner because everything is candlelit. It's a different era, without electricity. Their shades are drawn so the house might be empty and this is all in my mind. The house has been passed down for generations.

This is the wallpaper painted on the child's wall. Like a rotating light, the horses gallop until the child falls asleep. The horses gallop in slow motion. In real life, these processions of horses really exist. They go back to the stable at night, but I am asleep by then. I am still dreaming they are free.

This is the dream I wear on my face when I wake up late at night. It was a nightmare, but it looked nothing like a horse of night. I camped alone in the woods for the first time and, like I guessed, I felt threatened by a something. Or someone threatening but really a movie memory. I saw too many movies, watched too many shows.


Inside this house, I saw nothing real and became imaginative. The landscape outside was a playground of sorts. I planted nothing, but softened the dirt anyway. I pretended to nourish the roots, watering them. I believed I made them grow from nothing. I watched them become this landscape, believing it was me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

All Beings

Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Universal peace mantra for a quiet Monday night. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dream Poems

Last night, I had an amazing dream where I was put to the test. I had to remember a specific type of poem, inspired by text/image work. So, in this dream, I had to answer a question and luckily I nailed it! I don't remember the question, but the answer was something like this: it's when a line of poetry (a text) is inspired by two photographs (an image). Although it may not appear so, within the realm of this dream, the stakes were high. It reminded me of when I write poems in my dreams and, during the dream, try so hard to remember what I've written, knowing very well that soon I will wake up. Sadly, I never remember these dream poems. I usually wake up thinking, WOW, I'm a pretty good poet in my dreams. Ah, in my dreams...

All of a sudden, lounging by a pool that is really the ocean. The beach is not made of sand, but millions of skin-soft pebbles. We could really be in the South of France with rocks like these. But my passport is out of hand. My currency is lost.

It's cold where we are, so we wear fleece and wool on this beach. It's how it always is watching a sunset in San Francisco. It's how is always is setting the tone. With a bit of footwork we are home. We are watching a television show of our lives, we live on a island. We crossed not a single body of water to get there.

There was once a wish to live inside the dollhouse of my childhood. Of course, I made the perfect home. Everything was miniature, and just the way I wanted it. Everything was seen from the outside, looking in.

Sitting in a chair, there is notsuch thing as feeling left out or on the margins. The alarm inside your body goes off before the one on your phone. Grandfather clock was stolen and you forget what time it is. Is someone else here, or am I alone? Is it daytime yet, or are we supposed to be awake together in this night. Now there is a we. There are two of us squeezed inside this chair. Six arms.

Now it makes sense, love spell. I took this like a potion, through an inhale, in the bath. There were candles, bubble foam, and a glass of cold water. Always a glass of cold water so as not to overheat. Swimming underwater, I am suddenly breathing. I used to play mermaid. I used to have a dollhouse. Now I am a mermaid and where I live, this apartment, is not quite a house.

Back to breathing, back to sand. I found my passport. It's in the drawer of my desk, along with my checkbook, stamps, movie rental membership card, and college ID. There is no work today, or in this dream, there is no land. My currency, my feet. When I woke up this morning, I remembered no lines of the poem, or on its face. A young, a youthful, chime of words, this work. There were images, I remember. I believe there was an image I could not muster. I tried to not forget what I saw, and, or why, how I tried to understand.