Thursday, April 29, 2010

Music of the Spheres or Songs in D(ee) Minor

Music hath  charms  to soothe a  savage breast, (and yes, that quote is right. I researched it. "head nodding emphatically"). And it must be admitted that sometimes I do feel a bit savage.  When I was a kid (waaaaay back when) the music of the time was The Mommas and The Papas, America, Abba, the Supremes, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight, and Gawd bless her, Aretha Franklin.  Then it changed, and suddenly it was BoyzIIMen and Soul II Soul (and what was up with all the II’s I don’t know), but it was music that had rhythm and soul, a little bit of romance, ( and a little more sex).  Then it changed again and it was Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Black Sabbath (and yes, I’m mixing genres, but don’t kill me- I’m getting ready to make a point here.)

For every memory  I have, there is a sound- a song which just hearing it, makes me remember a time, and place, sometimes even a smell that brings up memories and shocks me into realizing just how far I’ve come. But while my memories revolve around music, I still find thattoo  often I don’t dance to the beat of my own drum.  I encompass a generation of changing music and changing ideals- and I realized that most of the music I like is some of the saddest, angriest music of my generation. In musical language, I am a minor lover (not like that, perverts!)  I like songs in the minor key- think wistful, wailing, keening, songs or broad power ballads. I like Enya, Riverdance, wailing Indian sitars, Gladys and “The Midnight Train to Georgia”, and rock anthems all at the same time, because somehow they touch me. As if I’m the instrument being played by the music, some songs reach inside me and pluck a chord. But usually, not always, but usually- it’s a sad chord. I’d like to think I’m not a one note wonder, but I wonder if “Another Sad Love Song” (Toni Braxton, folks- before your time, I know) is all I’ll ever be able to play.  

So, I figured I’d try channeling a little bit of that melancholy into a love song for an lonely black girl. Writing songs, poetry, prose- anything set to music is a good way to psychoanalyze yourself. You have to force yourself to get into a rhythm and you never know what will come out of your pen or your mouth. But whatever comes, will be your song, the song of yourself (to plagiarize..ahem, [ paraphrase] Walt Whitman).
Try your hand today at writing the music of your heart. Then, more importantly, share it with someone you love. Whatever comes out, I’m sure, will be music to their ears.

So, I wrote this song on a sad, rainy day, and believe it or not, did not use a rhyming dictionary.
I just followed my thoughts, around and around and around aaaand they came out here.
Still in a minor key, but that’s where my head was at.
Imagine, if you will, Celine Dion or Sarah Mclachlan singing this timeless classic....
or just read the poem and leave it at that.
Maestro, if you please....

Time and Silence

If I loved you like the burning sun, would you run from my harsh gaze?

If I loved you like a stormy day, would you stand out in the rain?

Can I love you like an ocean wave, drowning in the undertow?

Guess I’ll love in time and silence, and I’ll never let you know

Could you love me like the starlight, bathe me in your crystal glow?

Could you love me like the desert, stretching on forever more?

Could you love like time is nothing, say your love will never die?

Will you love me like the dawning, pure and new with each sunrise?

I could say my love is perfect, but you ‘d know that that’s a lie

I could say my love is peaceful, but my heart shifts like the tide

I could wish my love were simple, but it’s willful and unclear

And though it breaks my heart to pieces, still the remnants I hold dear

If you loved me for a moment, though it’s all you had to give

I would love you for a lifetime, though your heart I’d never win

I still love you like a river, flowing to an end unknown

I still love you like a flower, like a bud that has not bloomed

I still love you like a memory, haunting wherever I go

I love you still in time and silence, and I’ll never let you know

Sunday, April 25, 2010

10 Things I Hate About You or DIY: 10 Things I Love About Me

Saw a promo for a new show on the Style network- What I Hate About Me- and my first thought was, if that ain't a sure fire prescription for depression and self fulfilling prophecy, I don't know what is. Let me get this straight- the premise is people will  go on a television show to talk about what they hate about themselves? But then I thought about it- and realized that the concept isn't such a bad idea- especially once I saw the execution. Guests on this show don't just have a pity party. They're encouraged to change the things they don't like in a positive way- to make real, lasting life changes. While I'm still not sure it makes for prime time television, I do think that anything that helps you get out of a groove and into making healthy changes in your life can't be all that bad. ( and the truth is, we all like seeing someone who's a hot mess be transformed, don't we? [Ok- so we really  like seeing  the hot mess just as much as the transformation. One thing I hate about me- sometimes I can be so petty! Oh, well- something to work on.])

So let's experiment- what are the things you hate about yourself? And more importantly how can you change? And don't forget the corollary- what are the things you love about yourself? And how can you celebrate them more? 

[as always, I'll be the guinea pig-so here goes]

10 Things I Hate About Me 
(okay, it's really only 5- but, work with me here)

1. I'm really judgmental. But, I can work on being more empathic.
What I really want is for people to do the right thing. But the right thing for me is not always the right thing for others. My new bywords? Practice Tolerance.

2. I'm really self conscious. But,I can learn to speak up more. What I have to say has just as much value as what any one else has to say. And more important, only I can say what's really on my mind. 

3.I'm really stubborn about change. But, I can learn to look forward to change. Generally, it's not too bad and sometimes it's really fun. I just need to make sure I'm putting myself into positive situations- not reckless ones. 

4. I don't take great care of myself. But, I can do better- especially once I realize that my friends and family want me to be around for a long time. Taking care of myself isn't only important to me, but to them. 

5. I can be really introverted. But, I can make an effort to be more involved. Surprisingly, people actually want to see me and hear from me. I can make an effort to make more connections ( and selfishly, some connections can be really useful.)

10 Things I Love About Me
1. I'm very maternal- It makes me happy to take care of people and people appreciate being taken care of.

2. I'm really funny- even if it's only inside my own head. I can make myself laugh and that feels pretty good.

3. I'm smarter than I look- and being able to surprise people with some esoteric wisdom every now  and  again is pretty cool.

4. I may not be pretty, but I'm pretty strong- knowing that I'm strong physically and (sometimes)  mentally gives me the courage to try new things. Pretty is as pretty does- but inner strength will take you  pretty far. ( how's that for reiteration?)

5. I'm a good listener-which sometimes means I have a wet shoulder from people who need a willing ear, but it feels good to be there when people need you. 

Okay- that's just a start. I will finish the list eventually- (so smooth your feathers, those of you who don't like inconsistency). But more important- do your own list. It can be pretty revealing to see what  good things you acknowledge about yourself and what you know you need to change. Just looking inward is a good place to start- but remember not to stop there. Write the list, fix the list, then keep going till your pros outweigh  your cons. Be the best, do the best  that you can do from minute to minute- that's all that's asked.
One thing I love about you- You're the only you in the whole world. Keep on being you.

Self-love seems so often unrequited.*  
~Anthony Powell

*I heart you! 
   and me too!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Name is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die or DIY:Bucket List- 5 Things To Do Before You Die

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." 
Come on! Is that the greatest line ever or what!? But seriously, if someone told you to prepare to die- you know, without the whole threat of immediate death- what would you do? What would you do that you haven't done till now, because "after all, tomorrow is another day!" (never did like Gone with the Wind- aaaand I can already feel the hate mail.)  What would you do if you knew exactly how many tomorrows you had left?
It's hard to think about something that concrete when for most of us, death is pretty abstract. If it hasn't happened to someone we know or love, death can feel pretty distant. Think about it- what would it take to make sure that you were completely satisfied with the life you had lived, the direction you had taken? All most people ever really want is to be happy- but since most of us don't know how to make our way to happy, we settle for being content and just gliding through life- like driving aimlessly along a country road until you crash into an embankment that says Road Ends Here. We're always surprised when it comes like death isn't an inevitability for all of us. Perhaps we're not just woefully ignorant, but willfully ignorant. We don't want to see the end coming, though it happens every day. 
If I had to say,  I think that my Bucket list would be pretty short. All I've ever really wanted was to have a meaningful job- something I was passionate about. A family that I can love and take care of. To travel and see new things. To have something of my own. Right now I'm thinking about maybe, one day, running a bookstore- having healthy, happy kids running through the aisles, along with fat happy pets, and a fat (well, not  too fat)  happy husband. To talk about books, stories, the world with the people who come in through my doors. One day. But one day is closer than it looks- one day closer to death with the things I want to achieve undone. Today is the day to dream, to plan and to execute- to get off the pot, as it were.  So here's my Bucket List- and I hope you make one too. Not only make one but achieve everything on it, and then start again. Do it all. Live it all. Just do it. 

Dee's Bucket List
1. Learn to dance-  the waltz, the tango, salsa- whatever. 

2. Go horseback riding on the beach- like on the cover of a romance-
      preferably with a guy with ripped abs in a poet shirt open to his navel. (grrrowl!)

3. Write a book- on anything. Just finish one

4. Travel to every continent at least once. Preferably more than once. (and buy lots of tacky souvenirs.)

5. See an opera.  (Not the Gotterdamerung- too much Wagner isn't good for you.)

6. Read my poetry on stage -without collapsing in a puddle of sweat. 

7. Adopt-even if I'm sure I'll suck as a mother (though I have a pretty good role model. Hi Mom!)

8. Sing once in public- again, without melting into a puddle of sweat.  
(I do a pretty good Tina Turner- "polite snickers in the background"-    ok, fine, maybe Nina Simone?)

9.Buy a motorcycle- or at least drive one on my own. 

10. Start my own business- and get some good advice so I don't run it into the ground. 

11. Learn to shoot a gun- and hope like hell I'll never have to use one. But at least I'll know how.

12. Fall in love at least once more- and this time really pay attention,   
 instead of just drifting around in a  rose colored fog. Those memories might be all I have one day. 
  (okay- maybe more than once- if at first you  don't succeed and all that.)

13.  Wear an itty bitsy teenie weenie bikini- but not yellow or polka dot. (Polka dots make me gag)

14. Go to a really great party- I mean a New York at midnight on New Years party,  
a Mardi Gras or Carnivale in Brazil type party- a   party and don't stop till three days later party. (and it goes without saying, be the life of the aforementioned party. Body shots anyone? )

15. Write a love letter- and get one in return. 

That's a pretty good start don't you think? Sometimes all it takes is to have a dream and  before you know it,  your dream starts coming true. I'll let you know how the list goes. Wish me luck.

“Somebody should tell us, 
right at the start of our lives, 
that we are dying.
 Then we might live life to the limit, 
every minute of every day. 
Do it! I say. 
Whatever you want to do, do it now! 
There are only so many tomorrows.”
 Pope Paul VI

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Five Rules For Life or DIY: CHALLENGE!

I recently found a cool website called The idea is that people from all walks of life post the five rules they think are most important for living a fulfilled life. You can agree or disagree with each set and there's a new set every week sent in by readers. And, of course, you can submit your own rules. Rules are posted at the discretion of the siteowner- which means if, as he says "I (we) like it." So I decided to take the challenge- and I hope you will too. If you're living a fulfilled life, and you've got some wisdom to share- or even if you don't, (who knows- you're probably way more insightful than some "wisemen")- try it out. Well then, I hereby present my

Five Rules for Life
1. Keep onnnn moving. (keep on moving, don't stop, no- Soul II Soul, folks. great song)
Despite the despair I sometimes feel, I know that as long as I keep moving physically, mentally, spiritually- I have a chance for something good to come to me... as long as I'm moving to meet it.
If I fall by the side of the road - no matter if it's a few feet or miles from my goal, then I've lost the race. I don't have many great attributes, but I know from experience that I can endure. If I just keep moving, I can win.

2."Keep Watching the Skies!" (Thing From Another World- for sci fi fans)
Keep your head up- literally and figuratively. I have found that every time I walked through life with my head down watching my feet, I have missed something beautiful and meaningful. But when I walked with my head high, even if I was depressed, even if my eyes were filled with tears (sometimes especially) -without fail, something magical would come into my sight, be it a friend, nature or simply something I had seen before and never noticed. This morning I woke up and wasn't really sure I wanted to be here. I walked to work with my head down and just as I reached the gates, I looked up and saw someone waiting for me at the gate with a smile and a hello that I knew was just for me. Sometimes I have simply looked up and seen a drop of dew in a flower, or a butterfly that shouldn't have been out in the cold and knew that I was meant to see it- that no-one else would see that same sight. Life is filled with tiny miracles and the more I see, the more there is to be seen.

3. Keep learning and wondering- the more we know the less we understand- and that's a good thing. It leaves room for Mystery (yes, with a capital M) to come back into our lives. In this day and age when we can get (mis)information in an instant,but usually can't understand all of it or even absorb it because there's so much- it's good to keep learning and to realize how much there still is to learn. Not facts but simply that the world is bigger, stranger and more wonder-full than we know and that we have not come to the edge of our world because there is still so much more beyond. Believe it or not- but Here There (still) Be Dragons.

4. Keep loving- love till it hurts-and be glad that you can feel.
 "I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, 
then there is no hurt, 
but only more love." 
Mother Teresa
Love is a many splendored thing- it can also be a right b****. And it's necessary- in whatever form you find it, or make it. Without it, like water in the desert, we dry up inside. While I've been hurt by love in the past, I have gotten better in time. Better at knowing who and how and what I love. More empathic for those who don't have it and more determined to find my own. 

5. Keep laughing- finding joy and creating joy is important in a world where it seems there is less and less. Joy should be a fountain burbling  (burbling- I like that word ;>) in all of us. Research says that laughing, smiling, even when we don't feel like it  can  help us to feel like it. Smiling in a mirror, laughing yoga (look it up- it's really interesting), the instinctive return smile of a baby to a smiling adult- we know that it works to enhance our moods and our lives. Snicker, chuckle, guffaw- what have you- just laugh, cause Lord knows, the world is inherently funny. (Just look at us!)

So there you have it- my Five Rules for Living- not the Ten Commandments or any knowledge handed down from on high- but simply my own observations when it comes to the brief moment in time we call life. Test them out or write your own and remember  that
"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules."
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Turn on, Tune in, Drop out or DIY: Zen and the Art of Self Maintenance

It occurred to me recently..-er, um, scratch that. I've used that opening a bit much recently. How to start? Ok, how about-two monks walk into a bar...ummm, nooo. Totally un PC.  "Deep breath."
Ok-let's try this.

I don't know where my head's been at recently. I've been battered by thoughts both disturbing and enlightening and it's all because I've been thinking about my future....and my past. One of my favorite Zen sayings is
  "watching unruly thoughts come and go is the essence of meditation." 
(Have no idea who said it or if I quoted it right. Let's just go with it.)  
Well lately, unruly thoughts have been coming at  me left and right, and completely swamping me in their wake. They revolve around "where am I going?" , and "where have I been?", some "what's the point?" and lot's of "I can't handle this!!!"    And when it got to the point when I found myself thinking, "It would be so nice not to have to think sooo much" or "Sometimes I just wish I wasn'", I decided to step back from the edge and find a way to save myself. 

I worry about the future..a lot.  I worry about the past and the mistakes I've made. I worry that my wants are selfish, that I don't have enough ambition, that I'm not loving enough, and will never find a love of my own. I dream restless dreams and wake up tired and glum. My thoughts are a terrible, weighty burden and quite frankly, I've grown sick of them. So how to turn on, tune in and drop out?  Take a page from a Zen master (not me)- and feel the Ohm.

Rule #1- There are no rules     
(but if you insist)

1. Be still- "We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see." Being still is so hard... and so worth it. We constantly feel that we have to move at the speed the world is moving. We don't - if you stop and sit, the world will keep spinning- and believe it or not, you won't fly off. 

2. It's okay to doubt- "Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening; small doubt, small awakening, no doubt, no awakening." It's okay to question- the world and yourself. Just don't disappoint yourself by insisting on an answer. 

3. Know what you're looking for- "Only the crystal-clear question yields a transparent answer." If your thoughts are cloudy, your life will be messy. Don't confuse the issue- I'm lonely doesn't mean you're worthless- it means you're lonely. Ask the real question and again- don't look for the world to answer.  That's your job. 

4. You have the privilege (not right- note) of  feeling bad- "Do not permit the events of your daily life to bind you, but never withdraw yourself from them." Don't fake the funk. If you feel bad, feel bad. And don't let people cheer you up if you're not ready. Don't be a secret martyr. Get it out in the open.  Then get over it- because, conversely-  you have the privilege of feeling good. (And let's face it- generally, that feels  a lot better.) 

5. You're not in charge- and that's a good thing!  -"If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are."  If you figure out your life's path in an instantaneous flash of explication (look it up) that's great. If you don't,  the planet will not explode. You'll just keep going until you do- or until you realize that sometimes it's simply enough to be on the path, never mind where the end of said path is. 

In those moments when you want to scream, to cry or to die- you have to realize that the maelstrom is not all there is. That life can be a burden, but that you can put it down sometimes and take a breath. That sometimes all there is to life is that one breath, and the next and the next. You can do it- you can breath, and walk, putting one foot in front of the other, putting all distracting thoughts aside for one moment, and in that moment lies eternity. Don't think----breath... and live. 

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.
 the Buddha

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Presto Chango, Now You See Me, Now You Don't or DIY: Unmasking the Superhero Within

I occurred to me recently that it's not easy being green... or just being me.  Especially when I don't always know what being me means. I play so many roles- and I do mean play, because none of them really feel like they're me. They're easy masks to slip on- even when I don't want to...maybe especially when I don't want to. It's gotten to the point that I can't tell what my honest response to a situation is.  My mommy role is easy to play- I learned from the best after all! (Hi, Mom!)  It's easy to give advice, clean up after people, and when my knees are feeling stiff, it's easy to be cross with eager beavers and whippersnappers. (Don't know what those are? Then maybe I really am just that old. "Sigh")
It's easy to be a flirt, especially when I just don't care how someone will respond. (There's a lesson to be learned in that somewhere, I know.)   It's easy to be the nice friend who doesn't mind being the butt of a joke. (Wouldn't want to let the lion out of the closet and scare anyone, would we? Would we?) It's easy to be  the professional and hide behind a desk, a laptop or a cup of coffee.

It's easy to be separate- to observe through the eyes of the mask.  That's why superheroes wear them after all. It's easier to play a well defined role than to have to make decisions and react on our own or be responsible for the decisions we refuse to make.  But I'm tired of masks slipping across my face without my permission. (Sounds creepy, doesn't it?) Perhaps, the only role I'm truly fit to play is my real one- the one that is scared, and unsure, but deep inside, ambitious and dreaming. I need to know that my thoughts are my own, and aren't filtered through the eyes of whatever mask I'm wearing at that moment. I need to know that my principles, my philosophies and most deeply held beliefs aren't interchangeable-fluid maybe, but not will o' the wisps flying from here to there. I need to know that I am not a stereotype, not a silhouette, not 2-D- but a fully fleshed out, often troubled, often wicked, but sometimes strong heroine all on my own (sorta like Mae West, but, you know, not.) 
[Don't know who Mae West is? Sigh. Don't worry about it.]

I don't have to play a role-but I have often chosen to do so, simply to make life easier and less stressful, for others as well as myself. But life really isn't about easier, is it? So let's go for the gusto, and accept the challenge. Let's be who we really are- in each moment, and thought. 
I am  not a leopard- I can change my spots, spread my wings, and spread my message.  I am not a profile, a stat or a number. I can change my programming, change my voice,change my life and be my own hero with a mask or without. And even if my responses to what life throws at me next are just what those closest to me "knew" they  were going to be, at least I'll know that  this time they were authentic.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.  ~Kurt Vonnegut

This is me in my dreams-maybe soon in reality too. Like it? 
Make your own superhero at and join the League!

Sistine by ~psalm16 on deviantART


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