Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Child's Play

Quinn's art journaling entry ( age 3)
Anytime you want to be reminded of absolute freedom, just invite a small child over. It is remarkable how playful and unconcerned with the logic of time they are.
Lately, I have been trying to tap into my granddaughter Quinn’s sense of time and her obsession with play. Prior to this, I found myself getting frustrated with her inability to focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes. I would ask her if she wanted to draw, and then 5 minutes after I got out all the materials she would want to do something else. Instead of me, the know it all adult, managing her time or directing her day; I began simply following her lead and directive. There’s a whole lot of wisdom in her time management and her expression of play. For her, play is serious business. When allowed to flow in and out of what interests her -- and this seems to change often -- she is learning invaluable lessons about herself and the worlds she inhabits.

When taking this wisdom into my own experience (sans child) I find that by moving through the day with a sense of playfulness and allowing my day to unfold based on what is truly interesting to me- ideas come more freely -- a sense of discovery comes from following your own intuition about what is needed in any daily task. Once I started following an inner directive, I learned that I do my best “work” when I allow myself relief time, break it up time, for me that usually means focusing on one thing for around 30 minutes to an hour then getting up to do something opposite of that activity. I find that when I go back to the previous task I have more clarity and a fresh look at it. Now, to some linear thinking folks, that looks like chaos, or procrastination, or undisciplined. But, it is how my body, mind,& spirit likes to roll. Truth is, I get just as much done as the next person. The key is to find your own rhythm, syntax, and play-work balance and trust it.

The rest is child’s play.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I was in the kitchen, baking banana cupcakes and preparing food for a family meal. The thought, I have learned how to be happy in this world, floated above the usual static in my brain and perhaps because the computer was close by -- I posted it on Facebook. I was surprised at the reaction, several people wanted to know why and how.
I feel that turning 60 has been a turning point for me. Somehow the magic number 60 released me from some very old and worn out thoughts. Thoughts like – am I smart enough, thin enough and good enough don’t seem to have as tight a grasp on me anymore. I feel free(r) – free from the male gaze, free from my mother’s expectations, and finally free from my own judging mind. I realize this freedom has not come by easily. I’ve done a lot of homework to get this point.
So, here are my top 3 mantras in pursuit of personal freedom. The glorious result is being happy in this world no matter what it brings forth.

·      Show up. Pay Attention. Tell the Truth. Don’t worry about the outcome

·      Learning the art of loving what is. Not what you wish it to be.

·      Be a Loving Witness. Don’t try to fix it for others. LISTEN, LOVE , & SUPPORT. It’s not your job to fix it….really it isn’t. Release yourself from the burden of other people’s pain and suffering. That’s their job. Be a loving witness is all you have to do.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Fondle & Release

The concept of letting go is slowly creeping into the every day vernacular of the 21st century. It is a natural response to the over stressed, over scheduled and consumer driven society we live in. If you aren’t familiar with the song Let It Go from the recent Disney film, Frozen, then you are definitely not a parent or grandparent of a youngster under the age of 12. What I love about the song, besides the fact that my adorable 3-year-old grandchild can belt out the tune verbatim, is that it is teaching a very important practice.

A more spiritual equivalent -- detachment, also expressed as non-attachment, is a state in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and thus attains a heightened perspective. Many world religions have doctrines that teach this idea of letting go, including Zen Buddhism, which speaks specifically to non-attachment of our thoughts. Certainly most world religions support the concept of detaching from worldly possessions and ideas.

While I am not about to become a monk and retreat from my life, I am interested in the idea of detachment. In the secular world, letting go is a concept that teaches us that holding on too tightly to anything can result in an inability to grow and change. Even holding on to physical objects can thwart our ability to leave space for something more relevant and useful. This past month I helped an old friend liquidate a storage unit “stuffed with stuff” from the Mesa, AZ home she had lived in for over 30 years. She had retired from teaching at ASU and had decided to move to Bali, Indonesia. It was certainly over due as she had been paying on this storage unit for over 10 years, mostly because every time she thought about what to do with it, she would crawl into the world of denial and write the check for yet another month. When she finally decided that the storage unit and all her beloved objects were not going to magically disappear or arrive at her doorstep she made a decision to let them go -- but not without a struggle. I witnessed the stages of grief as she begrudgingly let go of “her life in AZ” one agonizing step at a time.  For me it was a valuable lesson on how and why we hang on to things that no longer serve us –the physical and the metaphysical.

You may not think of letting go as being related to creativity or art but I assure you it is inexorably connected to artful living. Julie Burstein’s Ted Talk articulates many aspects of how letting go is essential to the creative process.

At the LA Art Book fair, this past weekend, my friend Kate said to me, “ fondle and release” as I lusted after a particularly beautiful book that I neither needed nor could afford.  This expression is my new mantra. I would put it on a t-shirt and wear it every day but it could get me in some trouble, if you know what I mean…