Monday, October 28, 2013

autumn jewels

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another - and ourselves”...
Jack Kornfield.
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”... John Waters
this autumn has been an especially colorful season on a few levels. the late excessive rains in colorado followed by an unseasonably hot indian summer has produced the most glorious red, gold, and orange foliage that i can remember since my arrival in colorado in 1989. each day in october i am still awestruck by the majesty these colors bring. 

along with this is new level of trust and perspective to which i have ascended with my vocation. i have run headlong into my own dissonance between how i want to feel and how i actually feel. i am still working on resurrecting some sense of balance around all this. 

today of fb, i received a note from a former neuro psychiatric resident that i have spent time with at the clinic. although he was working in a different department, we shared office space and many lunches and coffees. i must say i was gobsmacked by the tone and the purpose of his words.

Rod, I'm not exactly sure how to go about this, but I wanted to apologize for not informing you I wasn't going to be able to make the Rally. I'm not going to bother with the excuse for my absence, because it doesn't matter---I promised I'd be there and I didn't show. I also didn't bother to let you know either before or after the fact, and for that, I'm sorry. I thought about reaching out over the past year and came close a couple of times, but I was never quite able to muster the courage to do so. Even though I'm glad you reach out, I wish I had been the one. 

I've since left Chicago and moved on to my official internship at a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey. It's a different world out here on the east coast, that's for sure. My experience working at a psychiatric facility brings along with it many pros and cons. Regarding the latter, I find myself oftentimes discouraged with the complacency I see in the staff. The treatment of patients, at times, lacks the compassion and sense of humanity one needs in order to foster growth and help develop a sense of self-worth and agency in others. Anyway, I bring this up because I realized a huge part of the reason I even understand what it takes to connect with someone in the first place is from quietly observing you in my corner cubicle for 10 months. I've worked with several psychiatrists, psychologists and neuro psychologists who did not teach me as much as you did about how to treat patients. You do great work, and I never took the opportunity to tell you that before I left. I'm sorry for that, too.

 I'm assuming you read that last piece and started feeling a little uneasy. My guess is that you started to immediately minimize the hard work and long hours you put into giving your patients the best care possible, or perhaps you deflected it by attributing it to someone else. Don't. It bothered me you couldn't take a compliment--it always felt like you were depriving yourself of feeling good because you thought you didn't deserve it. Thanks for setting the bar so high, Rod. And thanks for the beats..... (click on beats to hear some sounds from my 80's alma mater laid down in 1988 by jonathan scrappy gilbert.

but more in keeping with my emotional state... here is a selection of arias by one of the best our world has ever known.    

Saturday, October 26, 2013

let the inspiration begin

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."
as i was carousing the various networking sites i travel among, i came across a remix of a cover version of rhythm of the night which rocked my world.  the cover was rendered by an english ensemble that call themselves bastille and the remix was done by an 18 year old dj/engineer with the moniker of mnek. i found it and i coveted it.

now i own a remix collection by bastille and will probably indulge further. please take a moment - take a sip of their sound- and let it soothe some of the savage of this life right out of your system. because today i have encountered a taste of  joy and a dash of sanity and i want to share it with as many folks as i can.

btw- don't miss track 6- dreams....

Friday, October 25, 2013

practicing mindfulness

It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now… with its aches and it pleasures… is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.
Ok, maybe it’s also important to have food, clothing, and a roof over our heads for many of us to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive. Let’s not let that small point take us away from the brilliance of this quote.

What’s so brilliant about it? For reason particularly driven by subtle messages from the media driven into our forming minds, we are a culture driven by a need for “more” in order to feel alive or happy. For other reasons we are also a culture driven to try and eradicate discomfort. Both of these messages are partly driven by business trying to make a buck and spending billions of dollars are marketing to drive this into our minds.
The price?

A constant feeling of dis-ease within us. We’re can’t be content with where we are in any particular moment because our minds are either trying to flee away from some discomfort or toward some comfort.

Pema Chodron is simply trying to remind us that aches and pleasures are part of the human experience. There may not be a catastrophe when a pain is there, it may just be part of being “fully alive.” There may not be a need to get the wheels anxiety or distress to be set in motion. Of course, if you are under extreme distress or have an inkling that something is off physically, it’s important to get it checked out by a medical professional.

However, next time you’re feeling physical or emotional pain, know that this is temporary and say to yourself, “maybe this is exactly what I need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” See if you can bring your attention to it with a sense of compassion and caring. Next time you are feeling pleasure, also know that this is temporary and part of being fully alive... reposted from monday's mindful quote

wow- what a very uncomfortable week this has been. i started feeling a sort of gurgling discomfort in my sinuses on monday and stayed in bed for 3 days with a fever and runny nose missing both my day job, but also cancelling on a catering gig which did leave a hole in my monthly budget.  when i spoke with my doctor's office, i was informed that they recommended that i let the infection run its course and would be offered antibiotics after 10 days or so. i felt betrayed by this news which is ironic because i rarely take any meds (, aspirin, cough syrup, cold pills other than my hiv and psych meds for any reason. however i have had a sinus infection a few times before and have found that to be something that i am susceptible to and very weakened by for some reason. back in the late 80's, my sinuses swelled onto the surface of my forehead giving me a cyclops sort of presentation that caused me to scream when i saw my reflection in the mirror. even that time, i didn't take medication, i used steam and vapo-rub for about 4 hours. luckily, the channelling of a lon chaney type creature vanished with not much residual affect other than that gorilla i saw in the mirror. 
anyway, a couple of years ago i had another infection and it went on ad nauseum. i couldn't shake the fever and the nose might as well have been training for a triathlon. the only relief came very late in the game in the form of amoxocillin. and this week i found myself wanting that same order and with the response from my caregivers that i didn't qualify, my sense of balance seemed to waft away like the scent of a freshly baked pie flows out of the kitchen. 
i had to pull myself up from my bootstraps and visit them in person and plead my case- with several sales pitches in tow. "i can't lay around for days doing nothing"- " i feel like i am being punished for being healthy" " i don't really want to use up a week's pto with a crappy fever and box of kleenex. somehow i got my way. 
what also became apparent was that the mercury-in-retrograde stage directions had been put into place. my car wouldn't start, my dishwasher ran some sort of leak, the order of snacks for my group didn't get placed, the meal i planned to pick up for another group didn't get handled because of the car. in spite of all these mishaps ( quite plentiful for one  day) were also met with an answer from my life which caused no real trauma other than to my sense of balance. the early groups survived with no doughnuts- the second group had no attendees so i disappointed no one directly- my friend loaned me a car for a week, and nothing seems damaged by water all over the floor. 
with all the blows to my plans for my life this week, there also has been a net that showed up to catch me from any imminent fall. in other words, i didn't crumble or suffer- other than in my own mind. actually my life protected me - even from me.

that's the good news. and it is good. the other side of the story is that i have not been on my best behavior nor in my best frame of mind. i have wallowed in a little pity, played a bit of the victim, been a bit gamey and childish,  and worked it more than i would like to admit.  being human is really damn humbling...

am offering 2 selections with today's post- 1 with homage to the mindful part of myself and the other with a nod to the diva that walks the catwalk inside my head with repetition.... mercury in retrograde leaves november 10- fingers crossed we make it without too much more destruction and re-creation..the title of this post is practicing mindfulness - the emphasis is on practicing.

Friday, October 18, 2013

october gypsy

Tiny Wisdom: The Beauty of Starting Over
“Celebrate endings, for they precede new beginnings.” -Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Yesterday I spent more than an hour writing something I intended to publish today—and then I lost it. Since I hadn’t slept much the night before, I wasn’t completely attentive and somehow, I must have closed out the Word document before I titled or saved it.

That same exhaustion made it somewhat difficult to communicate my thoughts clearly when writing. But I did—after an hour, I’d expressed everything I wanted to share. Then it was gone.

Initially, I considered rewriting the post, and trying to remember exactly what I’d written before. Then I decided that maybe the lesson was to let go and start anew.

In college, teachers and peers had to fight me to change even one word in my writing, let alone a full sentence. When they did get me to edit, I’d likely only change a small portion, without allowing that new train of thought to further shape the entire piece.

I was stubbornly attached to every first draft. After putting so much thought and effort into it, I was afraid that making changes would be like picking thread on a sweater—the whole thing would unravel and I would be left with nothing. I would essentially have to start over.

I eventually realized this tendency translated into my everyday life. Once I set a goal, I was afraid to revise it—even if it became clear that was no longer what I wanted—because I was afraid to start over.

Once I got into a new relationship, I was afraid to walk away from it—even if wasn’t healthy or satisfying—because I was afraid I’d have to start over.

Ironically, I wasted a lot of time clinging to things that had run their course simply to avoid feeling like I’d wasted time.

It’s human nature to get attached when we’ve invested a lot of time in something. But an investment is only as valuable as its return—meaning we owe it to ourselves to recognize when we can get a better one by wiping the slate clean and starting over.

Letting go can feel like a loss. That’s because it is. But every loss paves the way for a gain, if we’re willing to receive it. Every time we let something go, we open ourselves up to something better.

what an incredible couple of weeks we have come through. it seems almost like a strange 20th century fiction pulp fiction novel with has given us a peek into the absurd and not the actual events of a 21st century advanced government body. i repeatedly found myself these last few weeks in a state of frozen stun due to the carnival-like quality of rhetoric that was emanating from our capital city. i still don't think i have recovered from the shock that the shut down rolled out. and i wonder what subterfuge was (and is) transpiring while the main stage was occupied by the house of representatives marionettes. 

i am also mesmerized at how this national theatre of the freaks has mirrored in my daily life with an eerie intensity. it is almost as if my interpretation of my role and my activities has deconstructed and i am now looking at my life with new eyes and shaping my impression with new hands. with this new vision i realize i have have been daily interfacing with a multi-headed hydra of malcontents that routinely create a droning drama which feels just like an old record player needle skipping on a scratched vinyl 45. what used to present as an opportunity to problem solve has now taken on a new complexion of a child's face whincing as it endures the repetition of a whining car alarm in the distance. 

another remodel in my life comes via my vocation. i love working with clients still although some of my idiosyncrasies have changed there as well. i am increasingly developing a sense of boundary and becoming less willing to be beckoned at any call. i often find myself walking through the hallway and encountering 5 to 10 questions or inquiries. sadly, at this juncture, i am unable to remember all those soundbites and it often causes me to forget things. so on a daily basis i am setting myself up to err. this is not a pleasant way to practice care giving. of course, i struggle with the appropriateness of having boundaries. but that's a spiritual practice that will probably last my lifetime. 

i have somehow come to view my living situation with a different lens as well. it has occurred to me that i have an option of renting my townhouse out and finding a new place to dwell. this has always been an option, i had just never considered it until this month. and in the considering, i have felt the load i carry daily lighten just a bit. making the effort to actually make the above change is another story. the option, however, resembles a small window opened to let a cool breeze in on a muggy afternoon. 

i have felt myself change my view on so many aspects of my world during this october 2013. i had a solitary "moment" of panic which caused me to want to toss the whole game table over letting the cards, the chips, and the drinks fly all over. instead, i have clenched tightly, almost playing lifeless, recoiling my emotions and recoiling my laissez faire energy output. and with that clenching, a fresh path using these new perspectives is being carved. i can't be sure how this will finally feel, but i am inspired by the vagabond nature of it all. my october 2013 is all about this primal journey my inner gypsy has awakened to begin travelling. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

the art of making art

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You're able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.” 

the words above are really wonderful. they represent an idea which seems so progressed, so advanced, and so worth achieving. however that idea seems so far away at times, too. i have yet to live with my heart open consistently. i manage it at times. i feel good during those times. i also slide back to living a smaller life rife with emotional reactions, gut impulse, and intricate tribal type war dances that signal messages to the universe. 

these latter mentioned times are not my proudest moments. if i were to compare them to paint on a palette, those moments would be the darker hues, violets, deep reds, black blues, black greens and browns- shame, blame, denial, and fear all becoming like leg irons creating shadow and drama. as i metaphorically capture my life with brush in the current time, i may very well be using the blacker tones. strangely, i seem almost stuck in a spiral of these dark hues- almost drawn to them- even when i want nothing more than to blast bright yellow or pink on the canvas. 

hockney sketch of he and picasso

none-the-less my agenda is to learn to be different. to be open, to be curious, to work with fear, and to not shut down first. big hopes for a small town boy. i paint and i throw away. and i paint and i paint over. i paint  and i set aside. and just as david hockney suggested about the work of picasso- it is all the same connected piece of work- just like a japanese paper scroll- that rustles, and twitches, and has its own life while it is viewed as a whole.

This is one way in which Hockney has maintained a close, posthumous relationship with Picasso. Early on, the Spaniard’s abrupt changes of style had licensed Hockney to do the same. One of the aspects of both artists that confuses commentators is their stylistic shape-shifting. Lesser artists, Hockney wrote in 1976, can get trapped in a way of working. Picasso didn’t let that happen, he had the courage to say, “I’ll quit this!”

“When you stop doing something it doesn’t mean you are rejecting the previous work,” says Hockney. “That’s the mistake; it’s not rejecting it, it’s saying, ‘I have exploited it enough now and I wish to take a look at another corner.’” That was a lesson for Hockney in his thirties, and one he is still drawing on. The spectacular landscapes in his current Royal Academy exhibition are the latest of such changes of tack – and, I believe, a stunningly rich one.... reprinted from a David Hockney interview at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

that's life

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” 

in what seems just a month or so, my world has shifted.i am facing a new direction although i have one foot facing one way and the other foot facing another. i can't really explain the entirety of this shift, but it has girth. there certainly is a pattern-ish feel to it. i had roguishly made an effort to ask for something more in my world and was shot down numbly and almost robot-like. it felt impersonal and without connection. immediately,  i visited disappointment and then had a turn with let-down, but planned to move on through to "okay" -until something unexpected happened. the rhetoric and the technique used to deliver the shut-down left a familiar and very sour and stagnant stench that has attached itself to my mind (this is how ptsd can appear in my world). it is so very hard to see experience beyond that stink and have turned with the hopes of fresher air. 
and i find myself right now with each foot facing a different direction- quite a pickle- wanting to move forward but i have to make both feet turn in the same direction before i can move anywhere. now i am just stuck. part of me wants to make a change towards breathe-ability, while the other is really pissed that i have to make a change at all.
now this is not an unfamiliar place for me at all. it is very much my nature to instinctively hunker myself into a position which causes me to feel disadvantaged. i actually can feel the familiarity as a sightless person may understand braille- uber sensory. also aligned with my primal patterns is a tendency to cut my losses, vacate the premises, and try my damnedest to not look back. somehow i have always not only possessed this ability but i have been blessed enough to have had the where-with-all to begin again on several occasions. just like the song says- i have been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a king.

as i walk this turn on the spiral of my life, i find myself at least more aware of my path. the pull of my instinct is embedded and strong. this cellular memory has kept me alive and safe throughout all the fails of my past. it would be foolish to deny its integral aspect of my soul. a shift though, is my resistance to bang the integral drum by fleeing.
i am opting to work on keeping my heart open and creating space for something good (and decidedly different) to come into play. i have witnessed what i might consider signs that this may be a very good decision for me. these tickles of hope just may scratch this veneer that has protected me this half century, and it might bring a new option for my story.   i am also afraid- very afraid that i will have to endure the same feelings i always run from as they infiltrate my soul with the intensity of a tsunami. the emotional part of me swears that these feelings will destroy me. the more adult part knows very well that i have already survived - countless times.

i guess life is checking me and it's time for me to consider my next move. maybe that move is not to move just yet. but let me catch up to my life instead of my life being ahead of me so often.

i included 2 musical selections today. one for my past and one for my future.

Monday, October 7, 2013

color me other people

as the seasons change, there has been a change in my fashion perspective too. lately there have been so many color choices in men's clothing and i seem to have been bitten by the pantone bug. it started with a pair of shoes- blue suede oxfords by kenneth cole. of course most of my wardrobe over the last few years has been in the brown, gray, black genre so a pair of navy blue shoes needed a good match to make sense. 

 next i found myself walking out of nieman marcus last call with 2 pair of trousers by james jeans- one cinnamon one green. this next purchase followed a green, blue, and white striped shirt from nordstrom with a similarly striped tank to layer beneath. i then found a pair of tan oxfords with red soles and gray oxfords with yellow soles. suddenly i zipped to macy's to get a butter and white colored buffalo plaid shirt, an orange zip cardigan from saks off 5th, an orange and a blue sweater- both by izod, a couple of gray overshirts, lime green tank, a hot pink tee, an orange tee, and a vivid yellow tee.

this may represent a manic-fueled shopping period, and it may represent another coming out. i don't really know. i do know that i love clothes, i hate shopping, but have gotten pretty damn good at it. now the second layer of coming out is finding the right places and ways to infuse this new aspect of my wardrobe and my lifestyle. i have become a homebody over the last few years which provides very little reason to don color.

as i have rearranged my closet to make room for the new additions and have put together a healthy bag of donations to the dayshelter for homeless hiv positive folks, i realize that although i have added hangers full of color, when i put it on and think about leaving the house, it somehow feels like the clothes belong to other people.

maybe somewhere down deep besides being who i am, i am other people too.