Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Fro(Zen) Moment

Sensuality is everywhere, if the mind is open to it. There is something so enticing about sensational contrast, in any context: an ice cube pulled languidly across hot skin, or the kiss of hot shower water on a winter chilled body. A sensual stroke that evolves into something more intense, or a tentative press of lips that blossoms into passion. Recently, in the midst of shoveling, sledding, there was a moment when the cold crept in beneath My hair, breathed its essence on My neck, raised gooseflesh, made Me shiver. I smiled, recalling some of the best times that has happened, and thanked the Universe for nerve endings.

A Metaphor for Progress

A man I know has magic in his hands. Perhaps it's not magic at all. Perhaps what he possesses, in reality, is simply knowledge of the body and how to read it. More than once he has taken a knotted muscle, the pain that radiates from it, and disarmed it through targeted pressure and precise manipulation. The process goes like this: palpate the skin through massage, and when you come to the muscle in question, the one that is clenched and balled up upon itself, press hard, relentlessly. You will know you have the right spot by the intense pain that emanates from it. Press and keep pressing, through the pain, through the tension, until the muscle unclenches, submits, surrenders. The moment of relief is without a doubt a moment of magic, well worth the ones that preceed it.The key to all this is that one must move through the pain, and in order to do so one must embrace it. The relief from the pain is its own ecstacy, but something also happens to the one who moves through it. There is a moment in the process of pressing in which the ache envelopes, and the promise of something more than relief flutters into focus. Release, perhaps. Release.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where I left off

Invisibility.... It seems I've been away awhile, longer than I realized. Looking back, it is clear that I chose the cloak of invisibility over these long months. My apologies to my friends and followers mired in this particular blog limbo in my absence. I have missed you all, and will do better, I promise. My lack of a dedicated headspace, a room of my own, has weakened my effectiveness and joy in so many other areas. Finally, here I am, a new day, new year, new President, new resolve. I have a lot to say and hopefully some time to say it. Welcome to 2009 and welcome, once again, to my space. Coffee is still brewing (not the same coffee, I promise, and bourbon aplenty, for those who'd rather), as are some new insights and adventures. I'm excited for the year already underway, and hopeful for the new administration, the future, and the possibilities embedded in the months to come.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Power of Invisibility

Today an old Helen Reddy song drifted out from the radio: “I Am Woman.” A song, no, more an anthem, of female strength and possibility, and the power of a movement built on that strength, that possibility. Today the song has become at worst a charicature, and at best an icon, an emblem. Either way, when I heard it, my heart leapt, and my mind embarked upon a journey back. This song has meaning for me, but not for the reasons one might think.

When my daughter started coming into her own just before her fifth birthday, that glimmer of self-actualization that comes with the promise of school, my husband burned a mix CD to play at her birthday party. My husband is notorious for this, the compiling of songs across genres, ages, to commemorate occasions. He has always done this, in the days of cassette recorders held close to a radio, before CDs, or the internet, before Kaaza and filesharing. He wrapped the CD in pink paper and bestowed it upon my daughter the week before her party. She loved it, and requested we play the CD ad nauseum, whenever music was appropriate, and even when it wasn’t. One of the songs on the CD was Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman.” I laughed the first time I heard it proclaim from the speakers of the stereo: “I am Woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…” the humor inherent in the juxtaposition of my chubby bud of a flower, her round cheeks, small hands, innocence, with the concept of womanhood. And intertwined with the humor was the promise, the possibility, of full-fledged splendor in that bud.

One morning, I walked into my bedroom to find my soon-to-be five-year-old jumping joyfully in the center of our king-sized bed. She was achieving admirable height, the boxspring emitting a generous creak with each indentation of her feet in the bedspread. As she jumped she sang the lyrics of the Helen Reddy song, or her version at least. I leaned against the doorframe and listened. As she bounded up to the chorus I heard her proclaim, “I am STRONG, I am INVISIBLE, I am WOMAAAAN!” It took all my strength to suppress a laugh that seemed to begin at my toes and move up through my body, gathering momentum as it climbed. INVISIBLE. With the pure, unadulterated conviction of a five-year-old, my daughter had changed the meaning of strength for women everywhere. Rather than laugh, I walked to the bed and held my arms out, and she jumped into them. Later, at the park, I watched her on the swings. The word pulsed in my head in time with the rhythmic squeak of the heavy metal swingset. InVISible. InVISible.
It’s not self-evident, but there is strength in that word. There has always been strength in it, although I had never realized it. All my life I feared my invisibility. All my life I have worked hard to be seen, to be valued, to be recognized. At times when I have not been granted this validation, I have acted out, subtly perhaps, in socially acceptable ways, but still. I am not alone. Women as a people have done the same, gone to great lengths to equalize the recognition, the visibility, between women and men. And successful women have become hardened in the process, steeled by their own resolve. InVINCible.

But then I think about the power of invisibility. The success of an equality that is so understood, so embedded in societal norms it is invisible. Or the invisibility of a well-placed microphone, a fly on the wall, an infiltrator within a movement. A clandestine effort, or an effort no longer needed, because the goal has been achieved, fully and without question. In these ways, invisibility is more a success, and stronger, than invincibility. Perhaps my daughter is correct in her unwitting assumption. There is wisdom in her alternative hearing of this anthem, her childlike sense of it. Perhaps, by the time she blossoms into womanhood, the anthem of her childhood, as she understood it then, will ring true for women everywhere.

I no longer fear my invisibility. I embrace it, combined as it is with my strength. I am strong, and when I am invisible, I am so with purpose, intent, and the power inherent in flying under the radar. Watch out, world, for what you can’t see can change you just as effectively as that which hulks before your eyes. Perhaps even moreso.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

I've been thinking lately about where I've been, where I'm going, what my options are. It's been an amazing path so far. Here's to the rest of the journey.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

There is one mirror in my house in which I always seem to look my best. It is the mirror into which I peer to brush my teeth before bed, in my red nightgown, my eye makeup off, my dark hair spilling down upon my shoulders. Maybe it’s the alabaster lighting from the overhead fixture, or the swirled terracotta shower curtain and buttered toffee walls that enhance my skin tone, make my hazel eyes smoulder and shine. Maybe it’s simply that my world weary eyes are less critical than at other times of day. Maybe it is that my perception is colored not by paint or fabric but by the fulfillment of a day complete, children fed and resting, nothing left to do but climb into my blessed bed. For whatever reason, it never fails. I am always able, as if by magic, to see my own beauty in this mirror. I am grateful for it, this opportunity to see myself as I would like to be, if not always as I am.

There are people in my life who are like this mirror, reflecting my soul, my attributes. At times these mirrors have been men, but not always. Some have been the closest of female friends. Others, more fleeting companions, have provided glimpses of who I am capable of being, mere glimmers of possibility amidst the flawed reflection of right now. Certain others were soul mates, if there is such a thing.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Richard from Texas in Eat, Pray, Love says of soul mates: “…a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you will ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake …. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave….”

I think it is important to avail one’s self in life of these people, these mirrors, in order to gain a fuller sense of our selves. These mirrors allow us moments of comfort and insight, a chance to take stock of who we are and are capable of being, a chance to see our liquid beauty in reflection, apart from ourselves, then finally, hopefully, recognize it as our own. We should take stock of these rare individuals when we are graced with them, and value their function in our lives. We should view them as precious, and treasure them. They may not stay, but they will offer valuable perspective while they are in our midst, no so much by their own vision, but by their allowance of our own.

Everyone needs a mirror, one in which they can love the reflection they see. We each deserve this luxury, necessity. The secret is, though, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe the secret is not the mirror at all, but who we are when we gaze into it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The beginning of a new year, clean slate, uncharted territory. Perspective is key.