Thursday, December 31, 2009

Laughter is Eternity if Joy is Real

Happy New Year!!!

Enjoy the Blue Moon.... but...
Be safe.
Be healthy.
Avoid the drunken maniacs 
(especially if you're one yourself) 
and stay off the road.

Now.... get the party started!

You've just gotta get up 
and dance for this one!

"laughter is eternity if joy is real"
"you don't know how beautiful you are"
"get on your boots!"
~Get On Your Boots, U2

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shuffle & Deal

As 1975 faded into the USA’s bicentennial year 1976, I recall thinking that the next significant year to come along would be the century’s turn into 2000. I couldn’t fathom it really. It was 24 years away, I was only 15 years old, and my life’s future was a vague, scary thing at the time. Allow me to give you a little mathematical aging perspective: My Mother was the same age then that I am now; My Grandmother was younger (by ten years) than my Mom is now; All of my nephews are now older than I was then. Ironically, I have once again reached an age wherein, if one of my friends were to become pregnant, I’d say, “Oh no… you poor thing! How did that happen? What are you going to do?!” I’ve once again reached an age where I roll my eyes and say, “Aw geez… Mommmmmmmm!” I just don’t get sent to my room for it any more.

1976. It was a time before cell phones, personal computers, iPods, cds and dvds, Wii and Xbox. It was before cable TV - in fact, there were only about 5 TV channels and you changed them by getting up, walking across the room, and turning a dial. It was way before any threat of a Y2k computer panic was even thought of. Aids was unheard of. Pot was cheap. The only synthetic clothing was made of polyester and no one under 30 would be caught dead in it. The only synthetic music was the occasional moog rift (groovy, man). Viet Nam vets were young, unappreciated and misunderstood with some still trying to find their way home (now they‘re accountants and lawyers and part of the fast driving BMW & Lexii herd). Fast food was still a novelty. Microwaves were just a scientific experiment. TV dinners were foil wrapped, full meal concoctions that took 45 minutes to cook in the oven, and were only utilized when the folks headed out to dinner. My piano lessons were $2.00 a week for a half hour lesson. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a perfect time - there was plenty of unease all over the world. Everything was changing and changing fast… faster than anyone could figure things out... yet, most of us wouldn’t have believed a look into 2009 if we‘d had the opportunity to do so, 2009 would have looked like cheesy sci-fi. I don’t recall hearing anyone say they were bored (but then, in my household, those words would earn you extra chores). It wasn’t an innocent time by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t ever recall feeling overly stimulated by a flood of information (as I do now). News came from the daily paper or the 6 o’clock news on one of the three major TV stations (ABC, CBS, or NBC). Any further information required lugging around an encyclopedia (usually at least 5 years out of date, more likely 10-15) or a dictionary.

Now here we are at the end of the first decade in the 21st Century. The year 2000 and the Y2k anxieties are distant past. I’m far from the scared, semi-innocent 15 year old dreading my future and watching the clock turn as I listen to Chicago perform on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve. I’m a (mostly) self-assured 48 year old waiting, with a modicum of anticipation, to see what happens next. I worry, on a basic level at least, about some things - I worry about the future that’s being left to the children in my family; I worry that, with the overabundance of gadgets and information available to them, they won’t get to experience a true innocence of childhood; I worry that we’re destroying so much natural beauty (whether by design or by flaw); I worry that people don’t slow down enough to appreciate their lives; I worry that the seemingly prevalent anger in the world will finally overwhelm the gentler, more thoughtful, more sensible side of humanity; that we‘ll either self-destruct or be reduced to a primitive, survival mode species. But those are worries that I keep at bay, tucked away for those o’dark o’clock sleepless times when I shake my head at myself for fretting over the uncontrollable.

So, here we are. Twenty-ten is just a shuffle away and I won‘t even try to guess at what the cards hold. I have enough hours of tunes on my iPod to carry me days into the next decade without a single tune being repeated. I have meals prepared and frozen that I can nuke in a matter of minutes, should I get hungry. I have DVDs and 300 channels to watch on TV with ease of pushing a button. I have a computer that connects me to pals and family and information all over the globe. It’s a good time to be alive and middle-aged. It’s a fascinating time. It’s a time that is flying by with amazing (and sometimes alarming) velocity. It’s a time when, to borrow from ol’ Chuckie Dickens, we are at our best and at our worst.

Still, I firmly believe that it is a time to celebrate. It is a time to not only look forward, but to look forward to. It is a time that we humans are informed enough and aware enough that we ought to be at our best… if we’d only relax. It’s a time, in my own life, when I understand the grip of mortality - if the USA is still around to celebrate her tricentennial, I won’t be around to raise a glass to her- and I'm okay with that. Everything is flying by so fast. I swear I can feel the earth spin as I watch the stars at night. As much as I want it all to slow down, I know it won’t. It’ll only go faster, and I’ll be reading back on this (gods willing) as we dangle on the edge of 2020. I wonder what my 58 year old self will think of my 48 year old self. Hopefully I’ll be able to look at my grayer, more wrinkled image in the mirror and say, “You’re alright girl. You’re alright.”

It’s a time to celebrate. We’ll never be here again. And so... 

Happy New Year! 
Happy New Decade! 
I wish you happiness and peace.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Endeavor

Because I don't have nearly enough to do, I'm starting a new project. I've just launched a new blog site: The Renaissance Ranch. This will give people a chance to send me their art, poetry, rubber stamp projects, digital fun, etc. There are a lot of creative people out there (and I even know some of 'em) who need a forum. I'll do ongoing calls for Mail Art and Poetry, but if you've got anything you want to send me to post, send it along. Either mail it to me, or email it to me (if you need either address, holler). 

Let's start 2010 with some fun! Come join me at The Renaissance Ranch!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Worth Repeating

I posted the following a year ago. I did use all ten precepts throughout the year... so it still stands. Therefore, I thought I would re-run it. Keep these things with you on the ride through 2010. Now... where are those pastries?!

Here we are at the last few days of 2008. It's been quite a ride, all things considered. Welcome again to the Church of the Wayward Gypsy. What have "we" learned? I'll try to delineate a year's worth of experience in the few words that I can fit on a 10-point list: Ten Things to Take With You on the Ride Through 2009. In no particular order (except that this is how they've dribbled through my mind):
  • Never mind that the word kindness is a noun - it is an action, and requires action. No one was ever accused of being kind who sat in a corner doing nothing.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Time does not heal all wounds. Nature does. Surrounding oneself with natural beauty reminds one that everything shares an interconnectedness and that sometimes the big heavy stuff (while seeming to require a mental forklift on our individual parts) is but a grain of sand in the grand schema. That doesn't mean that we or our lives are in any way insignificant - keep in mind that a single grain of sand can change everything (ever get one caught in your eye?).
  • Laughter is a requirement, particularly the ability to use it while looking in the mirror.
  • Significant events in life will happen if you're ready or not. Keep these emergency supplies handy: observation, openness, at least one good friend (with two good ears), inventiveness and/or creativity, sense of humor, water, and chocolate.
  • Love, while a useful tool, is not a possession. Give it away. The one who dies with the emptiest toolbox wins.
  • Music is as essential to survival as food is. It can change an attitude. It can fix a mood. It just plain feels good to belt out a familiar tune, or dance (even if it's alone in the living room), or close your eyes and escape to whatever desert island awaits (I hear Bob Marley and I don't care how cold it is - I'm puttin' on a Hawaiian shirt!). And so, as the man sang, "Lively up yourself. Don't be no drag."
  • Physical Fitness, Mental Fitness, and Spiritual Fitness are a triad and require strength on all three sides. Therefore - on a daily "nutritional" basis - Eat Well; Learn something (feed your head); Meditate (dream, pray, whatever you want to call it, so long as you take time to nurture your spirit). Get daily exercise: Walk (get outside!); Think (outside the box will give you the best workout); Experience (give your heart a very long leash, remembering the words of Rilke: no feeling is final).
  • Connect with Pure Innocence, whether it's a child or an animal. Seeing the world through unblemished, unjaded, non-judgmental, unconditionally loving eyes is a joyful thing. If you don't have a child or a pet, visit one - generally speaking, good parents and good pet owners are happy to share.
  • Sometimes the person you need most in your life is (still) a stranger. Sometimes the person they most need is YOU. Say hello (with a smile, dammit!) to people you don't know.
  • There's no rewind, there's no fast forward, there is no pause. There is only Play or Stop. Take care to keep it on Play - you're needed more than you know. (Oh, and there are no subtitles either, so speak up!)
There you have it. Let's meet back here this time next year... see where the journey has taken us...? I'll bring the bean, you bring the pastries.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beautiful, Beautiful Boy

Happy Birthday Homer!

Today is my nephew Homer's 33rd birthday. (It's hardest for me to believe that 33 years have gone by since I was 15 years old.) Family bias aside, I don't know when I've been prouder of an individual. Homer is one of the finest men I know. He's got that wicked sense of humor that I appreciate in any individual, he's sensitive (unless the 'Bucs are playing, in which case, find someone else to take your bleeding carcass to the hospital), kind, loving and considerate. Either Athena is a very tough woman, or he really is a wonderful husband (or both). Evidence shows that he's a fantastic father to his two children. Most importantly, although he's a responsible adult, he's never lost that sense of child's play. He's also got those handsome Black Clan blue eyes, but that's just window dressing. He's one of the beautiful people of the world.

I've always found it amusing that he went from serving his country in the Marine Corps to working for Disney World. Then again... it almost makes sense. His favorite job with Disney was serving on the Dream Team. He got to wander around all day picking people at random and awarding them various Disney gifts and perks. He was always thrilled at making someone's day.

My biggest regret is that we live 2,559 miles apart... he's the kind of person you really want to spend time with. So's his wife. So are his kids. And I do believe that the measure of a man is the people he chooses to surround himself with.

To my other nephews who will likely be reading this and not trying too hard to suppress a "hey, what about me?!" Your day is coming. I'm proud of everyone in my family. We've all been through some harsh stuff, and we've all come out of it shinier and better.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of you and all of yours

A Very Merry Christmas!!!

I know so many of you are going through troubled times 
and my wish for you this year is ease.
May your path(s) bring you to a peaceful meadow soon. 
My thoughts and love are with you and I am in your corner... always. 
Anything within my power to do, I'll do.

Lots of love and hugs all 'round!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Real Life

I've been pondering a'much lately. It's the time of the year that I do that. It's not because the year is coming to and end, but more due to the deepening, seemingly ever-present darkness. I actually like it. It's as if my mind has opportunity to go into... well, not hibernation exactly... I actually feel more alive. I think the dark, much like being blind, triggers my other senses. It opens me up somehow. As it is, I've been too busy with various art projects to do much writing and I've missed it! As threatened in my last post, I did put up a Christmas tree  (my spark in the dark) for the first time in years. It's fake, but it is pretty. I've been enjoying the twinkly lights and glittery ornaments. Staring at them is a meditative thing.

"For all of a sudden when I saw those lights, I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It's funny how a person can be so busy living that they forget this is it. This is my life."
~Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

It's true. I've been busy living. Busy living a wonderful slice of my life. And it's amazed me how speedily I've come to take the serendipity I'm swimmin' in for granted. I don't want to, and essentially, I don't really... it's actually difficult for me to forget, given my propensity toward waiting for shoes to drop. So, the other day I sat myself down (yes, in front of the Christmas tree), let my eyes wander over the pretties, and gave myself a good internal talking to. And realized (again) that I am who I am and it's all I'll ever be. All I can give back in any circumstance is the best Who that I can be. That's my real life. That's the life I'm living.

The following is my little early Christmas gift to you. I have no words to describe what this little girl makes me feel... words like "awe" and "wonder" come to mind and immediately fall short. This clip moves me to tears and gives me great hope.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Knock Knock

"Who's there?" You ask.


"Cantor who?" You query.

Can't organize my thoughts.



While my artistic Muses seem to be running rampant lately, my writing Muse appears to be gone on holiday. My head is too crowded to come up with something cogently philosophical and witty to say. So, I apologize for my recent blog hiatus. 

Hey, here's an idea. Give me some topics. Share your favorite quotes with me. G'head... push me into the water. Dare ya! Or, maybe you're just as happy to have one less thing to read... *smirk*

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Betides the Present of the Past

It's a glorious morning. Sugar-candy frost coats all the bare tree limbs and blades of grass, the snow-covered mountains glitter like crooked teeth as the sun tries to break through the heavy fog. Here we are in the crisp, cold days of December... and I'm in a holiday mood. Yes, me. No one is writing this for me... still Barb here. And no, I haven't been in the 'nog... yet. Crazy and contradictory as it sounds, for the first time in nearly a decade, I feel like putting up a Christmas tree, hauling out my Christmas sheet music and plunking away at the piano, making and wrapping fun little gifties for folks I love.

No, I haven't turned religious. Rest assured, I'm still the irreverent polyathiest I've been all along. It's just that... well... I feel... uh... I feel... festive, dangit! I know some of it stems from my current feelings of well being, amorous euphoria, and all around jois de vivre.

I think much of it has come from reconnecting with people from my past that I had considered long gone. Some are people that I somehow made an impression on 25-30+ years ago. Back when I felt that I was anything but impressive. It's just weird. I've had people "friend" me on facebook and say, "Oh, I remember you... you were the one who...(insert something positive here)" or "It's nice to be in contact with you, I always wanted to get to know you better." Really? Seriously? Even when I loathed myself enough that I tried to run as far away from myself as I could get? Even when I felt completely worthless? What was it I gave to anyone back then? What good could have possibly come from all that negative energy? When I look through my backwards glancing telescope I don't see the girl they saw. All I see is a sad girl lost in turmoil, raw suppressed feelings, anger and sadness. I'm not looking for answers and definitely not looking for compliments. It's just a bit of a marvel to me. While I always hoped for something better, I wish I had been able to actually enjoy those years more. I wish I had been more relaxed about... everything. I would have been dynamic.

Sure, I feel more than worthy to be anyone's friend these days. I like what's become of that girl. Thirty years later, I see myself as a caring, loving, funny, fun, creative, and intelligent individual. I'm not perfect, nowhere near it, but I sort of laud my flaws (or at least just give them a wry nod) rather than castigate myself for them.

What's my point here? I wish I knew. It seems to come back to my idea that one never knows how or when one is going to impact another person's life. We can't see into other people's memories to find what impressions might or might not have been made. Being a part of someone else's memory and being made privy to it, well... it's like opening a gift. Sure, sometimes it's a Pandora's box of rather startling, slightly discordant, and fairly surreal bits of things, but still a gift.... kind of like getting eulogized before you're too deaf to hear it.

Yeah. A gift. Sort of puts me in a festive mood.