Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Last week's prompt

This week's prompt is something I'll be coming back to in weeks to come, but because I missed last week (being away, feeding my senses in France), and because I just happen to have a poem that fits last week's (completely and totally optional) prompt of a Song of Myself, I thought I'd share the above with you. Not being able to find the file, and being too lazy to type it out again, I've scanned it from my notebook, and hope it's legible.

More Poetry Thursday posts - mostly on the topic of Synaesthesia, can be found (felt, tasted, heard, seen, smelt?) HERE


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Teaspoon Tuesday: House Plants

Deirdre at Teaspoon Tuesday asks a few questions about houseplants, and as I have begun over the past year or two to accumulate houseplants again, I thought I'd answer. The houseplant I can't kill (well, not without first propogating a replacement from it, at least) is a Jade plant (money tree). The one that sits on my kitchen windowsill is 3rd generation, and about 9 years old - or is it 12? It's old, anyway. And I like the way its branches twist and turn. The plant I'm proudest of is my jasmine. It didn't flower this year, but it flourished, and flourished, and flourished. This is the 3rd jasmine I've had, and the only one to survive beyond a year. It's about 2 1/2 feet tall, and ready for more support, as there are new shoots heading off towards the front door. It sits in my hallway, and makes me very happy. There's a wierd cactus that looks like a spiky hand with 23 fingers on the kitchen windowsill, and that flowers at unpredictable times - orange trumpet-shaped flowers that are a real delight to behold, and there's a flaming Katy (looking a little sad at the moment. I'm not sure she'll see the winter out). And, of course, the new yellow orchid that is making me smile, smile, smile. Once upon a time, I had greenery in every room, and I allowed a lot of plants to die during a time when I had enough to do keeping myself and the people in my life fed and warm. Now, the reappearance of plants around my house is, to me, a sign of health. A sign of life.

Thanks for asking, Deirdre, and for your bright post.

Labels: , ,

(not) Lost in France!

Labels: ,

True Balance - Second Chakra

It's time to post some thoughts about the 2nd Chakra experience, and what's struck me through reading the Balanced Vitality Chapter of True Balance. I don't have a plan for this post, but suspect (again) that it may be long. Forgive me, but I just want to see what's important in this for me - and I know there is much.

First, allow me to share my SoulCollage card which relates to my 2nd Chakra. When I make these cards, I operate very intuitively, selecting images that call me without knowing quite why, very often. My Leopard companion speaks to me of living completely at home within your skin, of being at home in the environment, and enjoying everything the senses have to offer. Look at the beauty! Imagine the texture of that coat! And picture the sensuous, lithe, swaying walk of such a beautiful creature! After I had created this card, I realised that, of course, there are colours associated with the chakras. Notice the presence of Orange tones? That's the colour of the 2nd Chakra. (HERE'S what I wrote about it on my SoulFragments Blog)

I'll admit straight off that reading this chapter could have caused an emotional rollercoaster in me, and, being aware of this, I simply chose at first to ignore the aspects of the material that were going to make me uncomfortable, and to concentrate on what I really was enjoying and could relate to without discomfort. BUT... But, but... I have come back to the other stuff, and have found it really useful, in fact to consider it and have learnt some very valuable things. (Need I say the bits I was tempted to leave out were those relating to sexuality and romance? -- I'll come back to it at the end of the post, as it was only this morning that a long session with my journal helped me to clarify some very fundamental aspects of this issue for me)

But, first, the idea that the Second or Sacral Chakra is where our vitality, our experience of the joy of being alive, resides - this I wanted to look at, and this I felt was entirely appropriate during this time, as my sister and I were away to France for 5 days last week(see the small slideshow of my photos here), and if the senses are fed anywhere, if we can experience the joy of being alive anywhere, I would defy you to find a place better than the South of France! We chose a time of perfect weather (purely luck!). - Not too hot, not windy, no rain, but the occasional fluffy cloud to provide shade. Just right for strolling, and swimming. Hot enough to feel we were on a holiday, but not so hot to make it impossible to enjoy ourselves. Perfect! And in the course of those few days, these are (some of the) ways in which my senses were fed:

Vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see
Sunset over the Mediterranean
Mountains of grey and blue shades
Market stalls of vegetables, flowers, fabrics
Little village streets, green-shuttered houses, red-tiled roofs,
Geraniums, bouganvillea, flower-baskets
Beautiful buildings in Montpelier - even McDonalds!
apple-orchards, little gardens, fig-trees, fruit, vegetables
......... everywhere the eye turned.... beauty

Voices of children as they headed to school
French accents everywhere.... Oooh la la!
The lapping of the sea... oh, the lapping of the sea
Listening to Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell CD's as we drove
Swallows returning home, their high-pitched chipping

Oh... everything. Tomatoes. Yes, Simply tomatoes.
Onion, garlic, ham,
cheese, cheese, cheese
peach nectar
the perfect Chorizo pizza
A roast chicken with couscous and simple salad.
A fizzy drink made with blood-orange. Not over-sweet. mmm
Coffee. Ah. Cafe-au-lait. Aaaah.
Did I mention the tomatoes?

Bare feet on cool tile floors
warm sand
slipping into, swimming, in the cool silk water of the Med. Oooooh.
breaking open fresh crusty bread (covers all 5 senses, in fact)

wine - along the road, where the tractors passed carrying grapes - wine
figs that have fallen
rose perfume
salt from the sea

.................In short, five days of sensory overload, of pleasure, of relaxation, of the company of someone I love, of giggling, and laughter, and sheer wet-your-pants skitting. Five days of sleep when the mood strikes, and wake when your body says "enough", of no schedule and easily finding pleasant things to do. Music to suit the mood, time to read two books (long awaited - the Secret Life of Bees - YES, YES, YES!, and Eat, Pray, Love - Good, but somehow a disappointment. Too much hype?) Five days to restore the spirit, and to let the Second Chakra know that I am here on Planet Earth and experiencing it.

So, I didn't have to think a lot about this, I just felt I was doing it. Letting my sensual self have everything she wanted, appreciating it all. And it was good.


But let me comment a little on some of what's in the book. I scribbled on the margins as I read, and my first scribbled comment was that depression is the antithesis of experiencing a healthy second chakra. In depression, it is impossible, or at least very difficult to experience the joy of being alive. This just really came home to me very forcefully.

I also noticed that my recent urge to go back to a Tai-chi class (I haven't done it yet, but could in the coming weeks) would be very supportive of the 2nd chakra - and possibly all of them, being that it gets a flow going.

Creativity, inventiveness: I think I know when I'm writing, for instance, and feeling "hot" that the power is in the belly, fire in the belly. I know the emptiness too - the feeling there's nothing there. I recognise 2nd chakra as the souce of creativity. I was really glad when I listed the things I would love to create in my life to find that YES, I do have passion and enthusiasm for them.

There was so much in this chapter... I cannot relate all my margin comments. It rings true for me. I can recognise times in my life when I've been well-balanced, and unbalanced here, and the area I really felt was so scary to look at was the last thing I'm going to comment on:


When it came to the area of Romance and Sexuality, I wanted to just skip over all that, because, being celibate, well - It doesn't really apply. It will only make me sad to be looking at that, feeling the absence, feeling the gap, being aware of what's missing in my life. But the topic was there, and I came to it in my Morning Pages Journal today. I know I am a sexual being, whether or not I'm in a sexual relationship. I am aware of my sexuality. I am a woman. And here's the thing: ---- if I don't allow that I have a sexual nature, then it will become repressed, warped, not healthy. I don't have to be expressing it in reality (in a relationship) to be expressing my self as a sexual person. It's in how I am, and I don't have to be ashamed of being a person with a sexual side to me. Ah. It feels better simply to say that. And the sky didn't fall down. And I didn't get struck by lightning!

Romance..... Now, that's one I thought would make me really sad to consider. Romance. Oh, the nostalgia-fest I could have fallen into. But there were questions in the book that I chose to consider. What would constitute a romantic relationship for me? What would I want in a relationship? And I finally allowed myself to write out what I do want in a man. And it comes down, very simply to wanting a man who has a healthy second chakra himself - someone who is not looking to me, not looking to sexual experience alone, to give him a sense of being alive. I want only to be with someone who knows where to find pleasure in the world without me. And someone who wouldn't feel threatened by my needing to experience the world alone at times myself.

Considering this question, coming to these conclusions, was very important for me. I'm glad I took the challenge of the chapter, and (finally) considered all of this. Perhaps there is much more for me to realise, but for now, I feel I gained a great deal from the second chapter.

Finally ----- my SoulCollage card representing Mermaid Spirit ------- a perfect representation of 2nd Chakra balance to me. I especially love the freedom, the evident sensuality of this image, and the reminder it now gives me of swimming in the Mediterranean!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

In Drumcliffe Churchyard - Yeats' Resting Place

Poetry Thursday participants have shared poems of W.B. Yeats from time to time. There is one of my favourites posted this week at Jen's Page. I visited Yeats' grave last week, and thought you might like a chance to pay your respects, so here are some of the pictures I took.

The famous epitaph reads:

..................Cast a cold eye

...............On Life on Death

...............Horseman, pass by

Labels: ,

Poetry Thursday. Another Self

Poetry Thursday this week offers us the chance to be someone else. I'm not sure I agree with the assumption that poetry should always speak of the poet's personal experience and life. - Much poetry is written out of a persona which the poet adopts, even if it is prompted by some personal experience. A poem (is this a hobby-horse of mine? Did I say something similar when we wrote about Confessional Poetry?) can be authentic without necessarily being TRUE. One of my favourite quotes from Natalie Goldberg is "You are not your poem". I hold to this.

My offering this week, however, comes out of another life entirely. I have a fascination with Van Gogh - his work, his writings, his life. But I don't imagine he would have been an easy man to live with! Sien - who was model for these two paintings, did live with him, and the poem is my reflection on how that might have been.

..........SIEN’S LAMENT

.............That impossible man
.............goes out, and I am hoping
.............there will be a little ham,
.............some coffee, soft bread
.............for the few guilders
.............that came in the post.

.............His haul, when he returns,
.............dumped triumphantly
.............on the kitchen table:
.............tubes of ochre, cobalt
.............and Prussian blue,
.............Naples yellow,
.............terra sienna, ultramarine,
.............a roll of canvas.

.............From the corner baby’s cry rises,
.............and I wail Vincent,
.............who can eat a painting?

There will be other Poetry Thursday offerings HERE

If you would like to pay your respects at W.B. Yeats' grave, I've posted pictures from a recent visit HERE

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

True Balance - First Chakra Experience

I have been jotting down notes as they struck me during the past couple of weeks of aspects of my life that I think display First Chakra activity. The book makes it clear that you can expect to be off-balance in this area if you have had major life changes, or if we have lost something that provides us with a sense of belonging or safety our foundation will be upset. I know that while I am working towards rebuilding, I have not completely rebuilt my foundation since the end of my marriage, and I now realise that it is really important that I begin with first chakra. I can go off on "head-stuff", and I'm realising now that I need to really value the basic things I've been doing to look after myself, and build on them. This is going to be a long post, so don't feel bad if you don't read it all. I'm writing it for myself more than anything!

Firstly, I'd like to share the SoulCollage card that represents my First Chakra. I have a strong affinity with Salamander, and feel the energy is very basic, very instinctive, very much about survival.

Following are the notes I wrote during the couple of weeks. I realised that there is much going on that relates to the urge to balance the First Chakra, whether or not I was conscious that that was what I was doing. This really comforts and affirms me, as I feel it means that there is an instinct towards health operating, urging me to do things that support my First Chakra. Did anyone else find this?

Notes on the First Chakra experience

When I started reading the chapter relating to the Root or First Chakra last week, ( or was it even before I’d begun reading?) I became aware that I was doing things that do support the connection with earth, that make me feel grounded and connected to the world. – I found myself dancing in the living-room or kitchen a few times. Usually, I can play music, and sit knitting or reading, but well… I just had to get up and dance.

Food – I’ve been cooking a lot of beans and lentils, earthy food, and making up great bowls of green salad. One thing I started to do lately was, instead of buying a plastic carton of cut herbs at the supermarket, buy a pot of growing herbs, and sit it on the kitchen windowsill. My salads contain fresh-picked basil, parsley, or mint, and even if the pot only lasts a couple of weeks, it costs the same, and gives me the sense of having the real, living plant in my food. I’ve been making smoothies in the mornings, with lots of fresh fruit. Mmmm.

This week, vitally, really importantly for my first chakra – I finally moved on a long-delayed project, and organized a painter to come in and paint my whole house. This is necessary to simply freshen the living-space up, but more importantly, to help clear the stale energy left behind from before my marriage ended. Since first Chakra is the foundation, having a comfortable living-space is very important, and the timing is perfect. I’m clearing and cleaning, and creating a space that will be a foundation for the life I want to be living.

There have been other little things. I was going to the bottle-bank, and I realised that recycling, looking after the environment is First Chakra activity. It’s grounding, it’s connecting to earth. When I bring my kitchen scraps out to my worm-compost bin, and admire the activity turning waste into compost, I get a great feeling. It’s connection. Its grounding.

One of the suggested activities for creating a sound foundation is to introduce live things into your home. I’ve mentioned the herb plants I’ve started to buy, but I also splurged on a beautiful yellow orchid – which came in a pot the very colour I will be putting on my walls in most rooms .

Then, there are ways to awaken and balance the first chakra involving looking after the body – soothing the skin, working on the feet and legs… I began to use a body-lotion again, after simply getting lazy about it for a couple of months. It feels so good to look after myself like this. I have problems with my feet, which I think tells me a lot. They need to be looked after, to form a solid foundation for me, to help me to be “fully grounded and present in life.”

Another remedy for balancing that I find myself applying in my life is using my calendar and diary. When I don’t use them, I don’t know where I’m meant to be, I have a nagging sense that I’m forgetting things, or missing events. When I write plans into them, and consult them, I can arrange my life easily and use up less energy – as getting my schedule mixed up is really exhausting!

Finally, the book speaks about taking responsibility for ourselves as being necessary to balance the first chakra. I was very proud of myself when I went last week to arrange my own health cover! Grown-up at last!

..................................................................................That’s a lot of First Chakra activity.

...................................................................................And there’s MORE:

When I went and got measured for a new bra, I realised that because I usually shop in chain-stores, which only stock certain sizes, I’ve been wearing bras that aren’t my proper fitting for years. And the difference that a correctly-sized bra makes to how I feel is amazing. When I said this to a friend, she said – “Well yes, They don’t call them foundation–garments for nothing!” – and I noticed the word. More First-Chakra self-care, I think!

And I went and had a manicure, which involved having lovely oil massaged into my hands and forearms – being skin-care, this is a First-Chakra self-care activity, surely, too!


This is probably NOT how I'd intended to post about the book. I'm not really responding here to the questions asked in the book, the self-reflection exercises. It's not that I don't want to, but I was just so taken with the widespread prevalence in my life of 1st chakra-related activity, that's what I wanted to post about. I have posted this before 15th because I'm going to be away (again!) for another week or two, but I'll be reading the second chapter. It will be very interesting to see does it hit me in the same way! And I'm fascinated to see what everyone else has to say about their experience. Chapter 2 here we come!

If you're interested in joining in with the group reading True Balance by Sonia Choquette, go to Melba's blog HERE to see what's happening, and come along! Join in!

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 11, 2006

One Deep Breath - Tanka

This week's suggestion from One Deep Breath is that we try our hand at Tanka - which is like Haiku, but gets an extra two lines, and conveys some emotion. I've been absent from my blog for a few days, away to my neice's wedding, and today, bringing my son to start his third year at college. So here's the immediate response:

We cross the country,
carrying your student gear,
I leave you safely there.
My journey home is quiet,
still feel your kiss on my cheek.

There will be more Tanka to explore HERE

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

One Deep Breath - Solitude.

This week's prompt from One Deep Breath is apt, given that in the past two weeks, I've been spending a lot of time alone - cocooning. I am lucky in being comfortable in my own company (and strictly speaking, since Trixie is with me, I am seldom, indeed, truly alone). Normally, I share only one Haiku, but today, three have emerged, so forgive my indulgence in offering them all to you:

Now I am alone
no-one else drinks from my cup.
My tea has gone cold.

......This is my own space rooms, my floors, my own walls, own voice speaking

She sits here with my,
my silent shadow-sister.
Her hand touches mine.

There will be more Haiku on the theme HERE

Labels: ,

Monday, September 04, 2006

True Balance

A couple of weeks ago, the amazingly creative and colourful Melba at Be Alive, Believe, Be You announced that she was going to start reading True Balance - A Commonsense Guide for Renewing your Spirit, by Sonia Choquette, and invited anyone who was interested to join her. The book looked interesting to me, so I straight away ordered a copy online, without even being sure about joining a group to read it, I just wanted to read it for myself anyway. When it arrived, I glanced through it, but in the meantime, had become more attracted to the idea of working through the book in a group, like we did with the Artist's Way earlier on this year. So, there is a group, and there is a schedule for reading chapters (one every 2 weeks, which is nicely manageable for most people, I'd imagine!), and posting something on our blogs about it. .... Go to Melba's blog for all the information if you feel you'd like to join in.

Each chapter concentrates on one of the Chakras, so we'll have seven of those, but before we begin that, Melba suggested, and I think it's a good idea, that we give some thought to What does True Balance mean to me? What does it look like? My artwork leaves a lot to be desired, but I enjoyed playing with crayons, and it does portray the energy of my idea of true balance, so here it is:

I spent some time writing in my journal ... (Hey! I just noticed a similarity between that picture and the illustration on the cover of the book! I hadn't realised I was doing that!) ... this morning, on what True Balance means to me. Here's the outcome:

True balance is living in a way in which all the parts of Me - body, mind, spirit - operate in alignment, and move fluidly from one state of being, one activity, to another. It's not a fixed, static state. It's a process, not a goal, to me. We are in a constant state of movement and growth, and so true balance is a dynamic state in which we shift to accommodayte changes to re-balance, re-align our entire being when new elements are introduced, or one part becomes temporarily more or less active, the others respond in support of that or to adjust.

In a Truly Balanced state, movement is the key. Being able to move, and energy is necessary to movement, and energy needs to flow, and in order to flow it needs a path that is clear and un-blocked, and that's the purpose of seeking to achieve true balance really - to unblock the energy paths, to clarify the chakras (which are, after all, energy centres), to make space around them, to allow them to operate at optimum level.

The truly balanced life is hard to define, but you know it when you feel it, when the bits seem to fit together, when there is a sense of flow - from work to play, from family, to friends, to alone-time; when things are easy to do, and the present is where we feel ourselves to be more than the past or the future. When we're not having to Think too much; when we just know and trust our intuitive ideas; when the Universe itself always seems to be saying YES with affirmations, confirmations, synchronicity, serendipitous events... that's a time when I might feel Truly Balanced.

I was really glad to have identified what True Balance feels like to me. It's today's definition, but it fits for me. I've read the first chapter too, and answered the questions. Some people will answer them in a seperate journal, some on-screen and some in the book. There's plenty of space in the book, so that' s where I'm going to be answering them. I've been noticing things that I can connect to First Chakra energy, and will do a post on that next week.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Scribbling..... Fortune Cookie

I know what they are, because they turn up in movies, don’t they? There was one where someone put an engagement ring inside a fortune cookie, I think. So I know what they are, but they don’t offer them in Irish Chinese restaurants. I don’t know why. Maybe they’re a peculiarly American-Chinese thing. Or maybe the Chinese people who came here had enough to be doing without worrying about where to source Fortune-Cookies, and they knew the Irish wouldn’t kick up a fuss about getting a little cookie at the end of a meal, but I’d never actually had one until very recently. They turned up at an up-market restaurant, and we were all tickled pink with that, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what my fortune said.
The one I remember having, the one that felt like the first real fortune cookie I’d had came to me on my last night in America. This family – these wonderful people who have taken me into their hearts, their home, their lives – bring me to share a meal at their favourite Chinese restaurant, and we have sticky dumplings (potstickers? ribstickers?), soup, all kinds of good things swing by on the Lazy Susan. We share. We enjoy being together, and I still cannot believe I am here, after three weeks, meeting so many wonderful people, traveling, through three states (well, bits of them!), and back again, to my friends, my newly-adopted American family. I don’t just feel like part of the family, I feel like part of their community. A teacher comes by the table to congratulate the daughter who’s just graduated from High School. The waiter calls me the “sister”. I’m so pleased! I belong here. When we go back to their home, there will be a few hours sleep before a very early-morning trip to the airport. Diana insists there will be no cab. She’s driving me, and we will have the quiet of San Francisco early morning to get there.
But before that, as the meal ends, there are the fortune-cookies. Ah. The tradition. Let’s see. And we each take our cookie. Mother, Father, Aunt, two daughters, and me. We check out our little slips of paper. There are words about love, and memories. There are words about friendship. There are words about trust and truth. My words… I’d like to say I remember them exactly, but I don’t. Yet I carry the sense of them with me. It was something like “When you have found something in your heart, it can never be lost”. If that’s not what the fortune-cookie really said, it’s what it really meant to me. I carry them in my heart.

Find more Sunday Scribbling posts here

Labels: ,

Friday, September 01, 2006

Poetry Thursday. Carrying a Poem Around

How about a poem about a poem about carrying a poem around? Stay with me. I think I can explain. There's a Billy Collins poem called Japan, (read and hear it at the link) about having a Haiku with him throughout a day. It's beautiful. Delicate. In the same way as he speaks of repeating the Haiku, I can come again to lines of this poem, or read it over and over. It's the poem I thought of first when I saw this week's Poetry Thursday prompt. And then, I remembered that I'd used the idea from that poem to write a poem last year, and I called that poem After reading Billy Collins' "Japan". It was prompted by hearing a dear friend speak about what she does when she is learning a passage from Sacred Scripture. She carries it with her, and if she's standing in a queue, or waiting somewhere, she takes it out and reads it. I was very moved by this idea. Of not becoming impatient, of not using the time to complain or get involved in trivia, but to feed the soul. I think this is also what we do when we carry a poem about. We feed the soul. [The word Baha in the poem means Glory]

After reading Billy Collins’ Japan
(for Val )

He talks of carrying three lines,
room to room throughout his day,
pondering bells and moths
and temples,
telling the lines to his mirror,
to his dog,
fingering the seventeen syllables,
each like a bead,
a prayer to roll on his tongue.
Through to the night,
he carries it.

You tell me of the Glory-words
you carry by your heart:
In your car – Bahá;
on your way to the shop;
stowed in your handbag
with lipstick and mobile phone – Bahá;
picked up and sipped
in moments through your day –
Bahá, Bahá,

There are more Poetry Thursday entries HERE

Labels: ,