Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Silliness

Here's something frivolous and fun in honor of Halloween:

Try your past life analysis here.

Here's mine:

Your past life diagnosis:

I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.You were born somewhere in the territory of modern France around the year 1800. Your profession was that of a seaman, dealer, businessman or broker.

Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
Bohemian personality, mysterious, highly gifted, capable to understand ancient books. With a magician's abilities, you could have been a servant of dark forces.

The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
Your task is to learn, to love and to trust the universe. You are bound to think, study, reflect, and to develop inner wisdom.

Do you remember now?

To learn?
To love?
To learn to trust the universe?

Nope, doesn't ring a bell.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2007

On the Bookshelf Where?

When I sent my first book out on the query-mobile, one of the common reasons for rejection was they wouldn't know how to present it to editors. The genre wasn't cut and dry enough. Not quite science fiction, not quite literary fiction, not quite suspense or spiritual or speculative. It is not quite any of these and mostly all of them.

The problem is, I write about what interests me and I can't separate life into such neat categories.

I love exploring both science and spirituality...

they are inseperable to me.

My books will always have an element of both because I love that they are two different languages speaking the same truths:

"Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves." -Nagarjuna, second-century Buddhist philosopher

"An elementary particle is not an independently existing, unanalyzable entity. It is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach outward to other things."
-H.P. Stapp, twentieth-century physicist

Monday, October 22, 2007

Imagine Nation

This is a garden path in the middle of a non-distinct, medium sized town. Once you step under the archway, you'll notice a subtle light shift from silver to gold. You'll hear rustling in the leaves that couldn't be heard from the gravel path just steps before. You'll feel giddy, like a child again and skip--not walk--further into the woods via the almost-hidden stone stairs to your right. There will be laughter in the wind, and you will stop and strain to find the direction. Fairy dust will begin to fall like stage glitter from the trees and your heart will swell with a sudden love for the life pulsing and swooning around you.

It was just a thought. No longer than the deep breath of fresh morning air I inhaled before I took this picture this weekend.

Imagination, something necessary in the creative world-- is it a blessing or a curse? Or both?

I'm trying this "fear of flying" course online and one of the things they say is "keep your imagination in check." This is a big problem for me (and I'm assuming a lot of others) because once the plane hits turbulence, I can't stop myself from finishing the flight off in my mind with a nose dive and a ball of flames.

I say "can't" but I know I can. I just haven't learned how to yet.

So--any suggestions, all you creative types, on putting the reigns on your imagination?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Remind me Again

In honor of one of the most...ahem...challenging weeks of my life, I feel like sharing some words from Kahlil Gibran:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Wise man.

It's funny that sorrow comes from so many different avenues--anxiety, grief, depression, guilt, fear, loss, loneliness, anger.

But, joy seems to be complete in itself.

Reasons for its being are unnecessary.

It needs no excuse to wiggle and shimmer,

dance and jiggle,

laugh silently while

beaming at you from the center of the room,

sometimes in the form of

a toddler...

or two.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Toltec Wisdom Book

It's been a long time since I've fallen in love with a book. Well, okay, not THAT long. I finally bought the Four Agreements last night (thanks, Christian for putting it on my must-read list a year ago. Do I know how to procrastinate or what?) And the first twenty pages were so jarring for me that I had to put it down and sit in stunned silence-- in amazement, really. It was that simple kind of amazement like experiencing deja vu, or meeting a stranger that feels like your best friend.

Even before getting into the agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz tells a story--a fable, a truth...whatever you want to call it. Within this story were nestled tiny gems, hidden treasures of raw truths. Actually, for me they were nods to things that I have come to believe through different paths, that's the only reason I use the word "truth." It is such an objective word, changing like the seasons, different for every one and every situation. These things that I have accepted as truths, I also accept they may not be truths to others and in a few years they may not even be truths to me. For now, though...they are:

From science I came to believe that everything is light. That light and love and god are all labels for the same thing. I couldn't tell you how I came to believe this. I've tried to backtrack, jump back across the synaptic bridges, dig through dusty neurons, but I only get more lost. Memory is funny this way. The years of details don't stick in my mind, only the conclusions. From Ruiz's introduction:

"And he came to the conclusion that human perception is merely light perceiving light."

From studying photography I have come to believe that our reality is only a reflection of the true nature of things. There was a point in my life when I became obsessed with this idea of reflections and I would watch the world all day in mirrors or surfaces of water or car windows, photographing life only in these reflections because I felt like it was a glimpse into some cosmic joke. How would we know if what we considered to be "reality" only existed as a reflection on the universe's windshield? We wouldn't. His statement on this:

"He also saw that matter is a mirror--everything is a mirror that reflects light and creates images of that light."

Also, I've tried on different belief systems because I do think its important to believe in something. Something bigger and greater and more infinite than this flash of existence on a cold blue rock. The one thing that I could never shake was the feeling that we don't have a choice, that we are limited in our understanding and beliefs by the structure of our physical mind, by the symbols it needs to communicate. Simply, we believe what we are told is the truth, and the more that "truth" is repeated, the stronger our faith in it as "truth." His statement on this:

"Language is the code for understanding and communication between humans. Every letter, every word in each language is an agreement." AND
"The only way to store information is by agreement."

I haven't even got into the four agreements yet and already I have to agree...this is one amazing little book.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Flash Fright

Some day I will find a way to prove I’m not crazy. It’s here again. The anniversary of…that night. I don’t want to think about it, dream about it or relive it but IT lives through me and so I cannot stop it.

It was All Hollow’s Eve six years ago. When I shut my eyes I can still smell the salty air, see the creamy moon—beautiful, swollen and glowing like a pregnant woman—and feel the fluttering in my chest as I take the dare and climb the lighthouse stairs alone.

The first thing I noticed that night as I stepped through the doorway was the chill--a dry-ice kind of cold that made me shiver so hard, I swear I could hear my bones clinking. Despite this, I moved slowly to the foot of the stairs, looked up into their spiraling underbelly, and swept my flash light over the few steps I could see. I was shocked to see my own breath on such a balmy night. I moved forward anyway. My first mistake.

Climbing higher and higher, one step at a time, up the spine of this man made creature, I steadied myself with one hand on the rough brick wall. The flash light shook in my other hand. My heart was beating so fiercely, I could hear it in my ears, even above the crashing waves outside. I began to question why I had been so sure there was nothing to fear. Why I had been so eager to prove I was the brave one. My legs began to ache with fatigue and stress. As I took the next curve, light fell on my shoulders. I collapsed against the wall with a start. When I could breathe again, I let myself lean forward and look up. Of course, I had just gotten high enough to see the moonlight coming in the top window, right? Of course. I shook my head and continued.

Finally reaching the top, I froze.

Amidst the decaying floorboards sat a lone carved pumpkin. Its grin flickered eerily, as someone had placed a candle in its gutted belly. It was a feeble glow in the moonlight. That is…at first.

I began to relax as I realized that only my friends could have done this. They had set me up for some Halloween practical joke.

I planned on waving to them from the window but as I approached the pumpkin, the fire within jumped. Crackled. Whooooshed. The slanted eyes and toothy grin were set ablaze.

The hairs on my arms stood up. I began backing up slowly toward the stairs, keeping my eye on the burning jack o lantern. That was my second mistake.

As I stared into its eyes, pictures poured into my head, images of death—burned, twisted metal hugging a tree; a woman with a blue, bloated face; open wounds still smoking from gunshots; thousands of them flooded in until--in some distant place--I heard my own screams matching those of the people dying in my head.

They say they found me like this. Sitting on the floor, screaming. They say there was no jack o lantern and no fire. Only the people who have looked into my eyes since then on All Hallow’s Eve know the truth. Most of them were nurses on the psych ward. I say were, because no one will tell me what happened to them. I feel the fire rising in me again. The restraints are tight this year. I’ve ask them to bring me water.

She enters my room with a clear, plastic pitcher and a distracted smile. I return the smile, only it’s not me. I am being silenced within.

Some people never learn.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Imposter Muse

I recently found my writing muse laying on the side of Creative Road, apparently suffering from exhaustion and (possibly a bit of dementia), her delicate wings soaked in baby drool; glassy eyed and trying to curl into a tight little ball. So, I've sent her packing to one of those trendy muse rehab numbers and am working on the acrylic painting I mentioned.

Here's a piece of it. It's not finished, and I'm not going to share the whole thing because I'm just not that cruel. I realize retinas are important to most people. But, I am enjoying this new release, and besides being relaxing, it has an added bonus of satisfying this wierd craving I've had for color in my life lately.

My mother is a painter. My brother is a graphic artist. My daughter is an exceptionally talented artist without even really having an interest in it. In fact, her painting just won 2nd place at the state fair.

Me--I'm definitely a writer.

But having fun at the moment pretending to be an artist.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Half-full Meme

I've decided to take part in Christian's Meme about being a glass half-full or half-empty type. Mainly because he brings up a good point about how quickly our thoughts and opinions change. Especially about ourselves.

Think about it--what opinion do you have of yourself right now? At this moment? Do you feel like an optimist? A failure? A bad parent? A bad writer? Out of shape? Depressed? My point is, we all label ourselves. We have a running commentary in our head of who were are at the moment. The problem is--if it's negative, that also reflects who you are to the world. It shapes other's opinions about you. After all, who knows you better than you, right? If you don't like yourself, than what's a stranger to think? And once others believe it, that will solidify the belief for you. Vicious cycle. Anyway...
I like these questions because they make me think about the positive:

1. What was your biggest challenge this past week? Resisting the urge to make chocolate chip pumpkin cookies, because I know I would eat the whole batch and null and void the hard work I've been doing at the gym.

2. What was your biggest accomplishment this past week? I decided to try painting with acrylics and even though my first attempt looks like someone threw up the primary colors on my canvas, it was a much needed new adventure in creativity.

3. What was the most exciting thing that happened in your life this past week? Can't think of one giant thing, so here's a few small but happy things: talked to my best friend from high school, took some gorgeous shots of the boys in the evening light, got to eat at my favorite downtown restaurant without children in tow, found my Kahlil Gibran books, which I haven't seen since we moved three years ago. It was a good week.

4. What one thing made you the happiest this past week? On Sunday, we took the boys to a place called Reynolda Gardens. It is just that--a garden, and I have been there many times before to shoot bridal portraits. But, for the first time in a long time, with a slight chill in the air, beauty took my breath away. The gardens are full of rows and rows of rose bushes, fountains, winding paths, archways, grape covered vines, and more types and colors of flowers than I would even care to guess at. But, the best part was a heavy dew covered it all, so the early morning sunlight set the whole scene ablaze. Truly brilliant.

Anyone else up for sharing?