Slamm’d: A 25 Second Poem on my I-Phone in Transit

Untitled

Real e-STATE
men
Carving culture into
Wasteland
Condos condos twined and twinned again
and a-GAIN
Serious sameness breeds and bleeds
“Safety” from the
Rundown and outs

*This is one of my first poems in a long longity long while. I was on the #20 bus, in front of the abandoned Waldorf on Hastings, and I felt it leap out of my fingers into my notes on the I-phone. Frustration!

Posted in Pens Uninterrupted: Workshopping Scribbles and Such, Societies, Pieties | Leave a comment

Spirit Gardening–(Here I AM–again)

swirlhead

The compulsion to explain my absence–yet again!!– is upon me like the rash pimpling and prickling my rear end. I will “tell-all” at a later date perhaps, just not in this post. I have many a started and stopped postlette hanging about in my drafts. Months of them, in fact. Tremendous, terrible layers of hostile and disappointed ogres, stacked one atop the other, huffing, puffing, and grumbling. They are trapped in muffled congress, surrounded by seemingly disheartened, disinterested wolves (and all sorts of other dis and non-dis creatures they do not even know about); needless to say, they are afraid to move about, despite the lethargy of the wolves, lest the hunters awaken from their stupor and gobble up the plump ogres instantaneously.

So instead of feasting upon the festering,fabled characters, join me here, in this moment, for a skip and hop through the stubborn keyboard forest. Twirl festively with me in the ankle-deep puddles of possibility–let’s frolic about together for a change of pace. I reserve the right to celebrate this “in the moment” nowness of getting out of bed and the house to an actual destination and event.

I am currently in a delightful land called “Suite Genius”. It is a spacious studio on 3rd Avenue, between Pine and Burrard Streets in my mountainous, oceanous hometown of Vancouver. I say hometown, because it is my chosen one. It is my writer self that brought me here. As a result, it is where my best work has crawled out from beneath and nestled down into the winter’s moss and ferns, under trees so large they seem enchanted. It is here, where the ancient mountains call my eyes up, up and away, even on my worst of days. Without moving, I can travel into a wild world filled with songed stories, whistled by the wind, and the many wooded animals.

It is my place of deep downing, and nearly drowning. It is a place of a medicated psychiatric overnight surrounded by hospital bedded inmates, tagged and cordoned off. It is a place of discharge-ing into the fresh aired start agains. It is a place where raindrops and tear drops are one in the same–where I am gray and green, dead and alive. It is a place of alchemy and swirling wounds and healing leap-frog games. It is a place of youth reborn, again and again–where my little self can dig down in the dirt and revel in the mucky fear and freedom. It is a place to un-cocoon, where the winter body can unfurl into its butterfly mind, it’s ever present spirit, winged across the universe. It is a place tenacious and deep,steeped in a mysterious, unknowing wisdom.

I am surrounded by light and high ceilings. I am connected to earth through this raw wood table, a felled tree that holds up my laptop. I am joined together with 12 other writers for an all-day writing retreat in the city, and it feels utterly sparkly.

I do not know what I am going to write all day and I certainly do not expect brilliance to spring forth from my ruddy and unkempt fingernails. That is quite fine. It is a stupendous event, monumental in truth, that I am even here–that I did not excuse myself for a second time from such a gathering. It is a triumph that I did not, for the millionth time, climb beneath my quilted guilt. I did not succumb to the worst of the incessant whines and wails inside my brain box: “Why aren’t you writing, you lazzzzy little fraud? You’re not a writer, you’re not creative, mother fucker! You’re a sssssimpering little liar(this side of me is like the proverbial snake in the grass).

This brain, despite what it may seem, is usually not so malevolent sounding. “Evil” maniacs cackling “Mwah ha ha!!” and triangling their fingers into diabolical steeples tend to dance about in midnight circles. This type of darkness is comically over the top. More often than not, the chatter is like the dullest, most monotonous university professor/priest/pastor/public speaker type that can be fathomed.

But today, for this time, there are other sounds that kindly embrace all possible viewpoints and gently ask the nattering voices to help out and/or quiet down, as it is time for reflective collection.

Thank you for the time, thank you for the consideration, thank you for seeing eyes that really see, thank you for wading through the weeds and carefully extricating their roots, thank you.

Posted in All You Need is Love, Love, Body Blissed, Body Cursed: A Trek Through Loss and Gain and Loss and Gain, Eco Freakery Geekery, Pens keyboards notebooks everywhere: Writer's Write about Writing, Relation Ships, Sink or Float, Societies, Pieties, Work Schmerk: Volunteering, Schooling, Job-ing, Calling | Leave a comment

In Absence

There is something very beautiful about disappearing into the clouds– camouflaged well enough to allow you to move through life seeing more than most and being seen less by many.

As with all blessings, there are curses. I wonder when people bump me on the street or walk directly at me like I’m not there if I am not–they can’t see me because I’m not real. Is my energy level so low that my vibrations can only create a dissipated cloud of mist that can be readily drifted through? Can I be so easily breathed in and exhaled?

IMG_0485

To be solid, though, is an illusion. We are in constant motion, even as we imagine ourselves to be in one place.

Posted in Relation Ships, Sink or Float | Leave a comment

For Crying Out Loud: The Rebel Weep

babycry

mancry

womancry

As I sat in 1 of 8 La-Z-Boy recliners, I heard light laughter from across the room. Only a moment or 2 later, I felt the inhalation of breath, the sensation of which I am so familiar; the borderline of cry.

Within moments, the woman in the chair was sobbing. I do not know about what, as in our acupuncture sessions we whisper our troubles to our caregiver, and she carefully pokes the needled treatment into our skin. It is a vulnerable position, prone in chairs, pinned down, with possibly up to 7 strangers encircling the room around you.

We all lay still, blanketed and as quiet as possible. I am usually quite alert as I do not relax or rest well, in public or private places. I was already vibrating with the sound of the woman who snores during every session. And then the tears began, directly across from me.

At first, I felt my body further tighten. The sound startled me, and my organs, muscles, skin reacted, rejecting the sound, not wishing to hear or feel it. Without thought, I, of all people, pulled back from the sound of someone else’s sorrow.

I say I, of all people, because I have and will continue to be overcome by veritable tsunamis. I will quietly mist, I will explode into torrential storms. I know this, because after 41 years of life, nothing and no one has been able to undo my sensitivity and shame me into tearlessness. When I am in pain, I cry. I will also cry in great joy, but I am more familiar with the other side.

My gut reaction, my tension arose, but the fear, the wish to get away disappeared. I found myself welling up, and though she could not hear me I quietly said, “I am sorry for your sorrow.” I imagined myself hugging her. I felt our connection.

It reminded me of a few moments where I overcame my awkward desire to disconnect from a situation, because I didn’t know what to do for someone in evident sadness.

I had just finished a job interview and was waiting for the bus. A woman came up to stand at the stop, under the shelter. She was turned a little away from me. She could not contain herself. She was weeping. I stood stiffly for a moment. “What do I do? What can I do?” I had that same instinct to get away from her, to let her cry privately so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. But whose discomfort was I really considering?

I decided that I would say something. Short and simple. “Are you o.k.?”

She didn’t speak English very well, but she managed to say that she was alright (quite evidently not the case, but as we have been taught, it doesn’t matter what the truth may be, we must buck up and put on that “brave” front if only in words). She continued to sob.I felt like I had to do more. I didn’t want to disrespect her and invade her space, but something compelled me to put my hand on her shoulder. I could feel her tense up a bit as her shoulder arched,and she pulled away, just a bit. But she didn’t say anything and she didn’t slap my hand away, so we stood there awkwardly, 2 women, 2 humans huddled at a bus stop–strangers connected in her despair. I wanted her to have that space. I wanted her to feel safe, even for a moment, to let go. And I could feel her relax as her breathing calmed.

In this culture, we consider deep feeling problematic. As the author, Miriam Greenspan explains so well, we are emotion phobic. We see sadness as weak at best and pathological at worst. We reject people in pain in a multitude of ways. And in whatever way we have rejected them, we inevitably add to their hurt. How this hurt manifests is as varied as snow flakes.

But I say, to weep openly is an act of bravery.

To refuse to contain the pain is a rebel’s cry in our society.

If we cried more, we’d hurt less.

Posted in All You Need is Love, Love, Body Blissed, Body Cursed: A Trek Through Loss and Gain and Loss and Gain, Relation Ships, Sink or Float, Societies, Pieties | 3 Comments

The Curious Case of “Just Be Yourself-itis”

beyourselfWhat does this “Just Be Yourself?” Business Mean to You?

Is this not the case of the “Easier said’s than done’s?”

No matter how many times we say it, there is plenty of evidence that we aren’t being “it”. There is something in the deep, but we barely skim the surface. Maybe just enough to ripple “it” but rarely to create waves and rock boats. And when we do start creating a topsy turvy circumstance by being true, it is surprisingly quick to see the disavowal of this self others once said you should be.

Rippling-Water300_POTDsizedWhat and who we are is lost beneath our social reflections. Those with the greatest tenacity and the proper “work ethic”will stay in perpetual motion, treading water vigorously for years on end until they die and sink like stones; others become stone, graven images of themselves. Neither are really alive. Neither are self.

We bob about in badly patched up life boats, full of hot air (mixing metaphors, better stirred than shaken).  Keep us separate from ourselves and those we define as “the other.”For when we are divided within, inevitably, we we will feel separation all around us.

It is an intellectual concept, rather than a lived experience. Practicality rules over passion.  Most people in this society do not live for passion. They live for the weekend, dread Mondays, the oft repeated TGIF’s, and shop ’til they drop’s. And on and on it goes. There are no gadgets, pair of Jimmy Choo’s, pounds of chocolate or vacation hot spots that wouldn’t pale terribly in comparison to an experience of love in the now. No matter where you are, who you are, what you are.

And believe me, if we all laid down this business of so called “living” and really had and did only what we were called to do, our world would be a much different place than the one we inhabit. Would it not be kinder, gentler, slower? By this, I don’t mean “be better than”; I mean, just be.

I know, this just seems to be crazy talk. I understand. I don’t live this way. I am in fear, in anxiety, in tension over all of this, “Who am I, and what the hell am I doing here?”

But answers are really only more questions. It is the snake chasing its own tail

Marilyn Monroe

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn Monroe

Ralph Waldo Emerson“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted in All You Need is Love, Love, Societies, Pieties, Work Schmerk: Volunteering, Schooling, Job-ing, Calling | Leave a comment

Dove Ad Low Down: A Critical Look at “Beauty” Branding

Before I launch into my version/interpretation of this recent Dove ad, I would like to give props to Jazzylittledrops on Tumblr and her take. She is one of the reasons that I’m writing my own (which will heavily borrow from hers with a twist of Leanna-ness added in).

My second shout out is to a grumpy, finger stomping commenter on Upworthy in response to the heading “Controversy Over Dove ad”. Some of your “insightful” rants propelled me onto my own blog, so thank you for informing me that the only reason I wouldn’t like this ad is because I’m insecure and ugly and don’t want anyone else to feel good about themselves. And while that does sound a lot like me, Scott somebody-or-other, I would also like to suggest that my objections go beyond my hideousness into the recesses of this thing I like to call my brain. This thing called a brain is a device I use to critically analyze things before speaking rashly on them; not something that is done with any regularity on comment boards, home of the hyper-angry and grammatically stunted. I am hardly one to click clack on and on about this, as I too suffer reactionitis from time to time–thusly it is a touch hypocritical of me to pick on you, internet Scott.

I digress.

In case you have been living in a social media cave, you can watch this ad here and now.

I will say, my first reaction to this video was, “It’s true, we are far too critical of ourselves. Others generally do see us in a better light than we see ourselves.” But then another part of my brain said, “Hey, hold up–stop the touching music for a minute. What do you mean by “better” light?”

What struck me first were the absences–this ad doesn’t represent a swath of women. These are attractive women, as defined by our societal parameters(they don’t feel they are attractive, you may not think they are–but arguably, they meet the “beauty” criteria). So what about those women who resemble the drawings the forensic artist made based on the descriptions the women gave of themselves? How are they supposed to feel when they see their faces on the screen staring back at them? Are they to then feel they are lacking in some way?

What else is missing?
1. Overweight women
2. Women with disabilities
3. Elderly women (let’s hope by the time we are elders, we aren’t still caught up in our physical imagery–the world needs more real faces)
4.Women with evident scars or birth differences (I say this rather than defect, because that implies a problem where there wouldn’t be one if it weren’t imposed onto the person–the same could be said of the word disability)
5. Women who aren’t Caucasian are present, but they speak very little. This absence of voice is a significant part of the media culture–a long enduring trend that seems to continue unabated and barely challenged in the West.

I could go on, but you get the picture..

So we have a woman who thinks her face is fat (bad) whose face is actually thought to be thin (good). Blue eyes are ideal. Check. Nice smile, meaning the correct teeth to lip proportion. Check. Unnoticeable/minimized wrinkles, freckles, spots (super good). Check. (This was probably achieved via usage of Dove products, so go get them quickly).

What it comes down to, the lowdown and the nitty with the gritty of it all–our obsession with the eye of the beholder. A beauty that pertains only to the physical shell that we rely so heavily upon to make impressions. We waste energy in endless pursuit of the “right” look. This is not to say that the physical, the aesthetic have no value, but the supremacy, the dominance of this physical beauty ideal is disproportionate to our overall worth as beings. We need to change the conversation; we need to take the kind of dollars sucked into these campaigns and feed them into projects that build a holistic circle-one that celebrates the capacity of beauty possessed in mind, in spirit, in kind deed, in intelligence, in heart. I know that marketers that sell, companies that produce, and consumers that crave solution to their ills by rubbing creams upon them wouldn’t leap up and down at the suggestion. I get the economic constraints, but our confused approach to money is a whole other diatribe.

For now, let us pause, and let us understand that we are all more than we can imagine, in all of our capacities. We must settle into our heart of hearts, listen, follow our inner guide and know that happiness is far deeper than skin, and beauty is so much bigger than looks. It is not only to be viewed through the eye of a needle, but to be known as the expanse of the sky and all that is beneath it. You may hear these messages, but you do not need to heed them as an all-encompassing truth. Hold the gift of your whole self in reverence, and be grateful. This, my friends, is a challenge for all of us, not only as women, but as a species in general as we are the only ones who fret about improving and changing our appearance beyond what is natural(imagine any other beast so preoccupied with such a pursuit). There is nothing more lovely than the imperfection of nature, with which we are one.

oneness-b

Posted in All You Need is Love, Love, Body Blissed, Body Cursed: A Trek Through Loss and Gain and Loss and Gain, Societies, Pieties | Leave a comment

The Regimen of Daily Poetics–The Grit, The Glory

*(It should be noted, right here, right now, that there has been another cavernous hole torn in the space and time continuum in regard to my participation in the blogosphere. Not having my own laptop anymore makes for a convenient excuse to avoid the tip tap type writerly ways).

This brings to mind the subject at hand.

Daily practice.

And lifetime mastery.

What comes first the grit (nose to the grindstone) or the glory (inspiration)? Is there a formula true for you but different for me?

As one from the school of “lazy” pens, I am conveniently inclined to think that scheduling creativity is, at times, counter-intuitive. I am quite in agreement that anything you love requires dedication, commitment, and work, but the degree to which we are inclined to favor and praise one and diminish the other rankles me.

But, where do you draw the line? Can such a line ever be drawn in the sand between these two, as if they can be divided from one another?

But it isn’t divorce or even separation that I am suggesting.

Advice is given by many renowned writers from the more well-known like Stephen King to Margaret Atwood, to the lesser known by the general public, but highly revered in the writer’s world, such as Natalie Goldberg or Betsy Warland.

Much of this advice is marvelous; I have applied it and then torn it back like sodden band-aids when it has no longer suited me, whether this be to my benefit or not.

But let us get to the heart of the matter–this ever present argument of perspiration vs. inspiration. I have heard this over and over again. It is a mantra so many live by, writer or not. This protestant work ethic approach slathered onto everything like butter to toast. The problem being, not all of life is toast. You would not butter your beets.

In other words, I’m not convinced that the formula is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration. I think too much credit is given to brute force, to deadlines and timelines. I think the go go go of our society reflects our culturally created values and not some inherent reality. We worship at the feet of production and output. We bow down to the masses of material results that we can see and name. Anything we produce, we name, and anything we name, we produce.

If I might use Mr. King as an example. He is a writing machine. There is no doubt about his workhorse approach. He recommends treating writing as he believes it ought to be–a job. You have your desk, your “pencil in your time” and you stick to it. Clearly, this method has worked remarkably well for him. He is well-monied and well-known. He has a mind full of worlds, as frightening as they may be, that he must share or be stuck with, and what kind of strange torment would that be? These worlds fascinate others and drag money from their pockets and, by percentage, line his very own pockets. So, he seems to be the picture perfect example of this formula. A role model for all of us flim-flammy, flaky artists who hold onto lofty notions of divine inspiration as our guides but really never get anything out there. While I confess, I am not a King fan, he is definitely meant to be a writer, called to do so–but what makes him prolific is not the same thing as what inspires him. Because, the truth is, anyone can write, but is everyone going to be exceptional?

Perhaps a sports analogy may put a different spin on it.Let us talk of the Michael Jordans or the Wayne Gretzkys of the world. No one will argue that they weren’t hard workers, but beyond that…wouldn’t most agree that there was something inspired about them? That something beyond our understanding came through them when in their element? There are just athletes, writers, singers, teachers, anyone, who simply have that “it” that others who do the same thing don’t have with such consistency, no matter how hard they work or how much they produce.

And yet we dismiss the 10% unknowable and unnameable. And coming from a lover of words, this is a tough one; but ultimately, language gets in the way. We get in the way of our own flow by tagging labels upon it. We think that if we study it rigorously enough, that we can imitate this “it” and have it for ourselves. But, I don’t think that’s how it works. “It” is not property; you cannot keep it. You, in fact, must get out of its way and allow it to move through you.

Ultimately I know the difference–I sense, I feel, I am struck by, consumed by, led by, dragged by inspiration when it comes to me. I do not have a choice when those moments arrive. It is beyond me. It’s not about me. And it will simply not be regulated by a clock. It is not to say that picking a time of day and a place will prevent this from happening–it may welcome it, open one up to it, but that is the thing about muse. She won’t come when you wish, she won’t come if you wish–and so we can see, it won’t come to everyone in the same measure.
skyhigh

Posted in All You Need is Love, Love, Pens keyboards notebooks everywhere: Writer's Write about Writing, Work Schmerk: Volunteering, Schooling, Job-ing, Calling | Leave a comment