Archive for August, 2010

Perceiving The Gift

August 25, 2010

During the last few weeks I’ve been tackling problem areas in my home. Over years of living in this same space, things have accumulated, at times weighing heavily upon my daily existance.  These cluttered areas seemed to reflect a part of myself  that was hardly admirable, but possibly deserving of a little compassion. And HELP… This entailed an uncomfortable swallowing of pride. When I finally managed to gulp that down, I called in E.

E is small in stature and mighty in purposeful energy.  She also enjoys organizing other people’s stuff. Yes… She has helped me before and we’ve come to an understanding of sorts. Humor is good. And hugs. And high protein smoothies are very helpful for getting started. Yesterday we were faced with the third and most challenging area – for me the most problematical of areas: my study. My study is a smallish elongated space a short hallway and bathroom away from my bedroom. Most of the space is occupied by a large computer desk with numerous cubbies and drawers.  A cubby is a very handy place for tucking things temporarily. They come in various shapes and sizes, and mine were all full. One of the things unearthed was the set-up instructions for my first computer – hit by lightning in the year 2001. The drawers were a touch less embarrassing. Perhaps… These were evidence of a writing career – of sorts. Poems written, printed, and stashed, unfinished manuscripts, rejection letters for manuscripts (finished?), and a quantity of floppy discs. Remember floppy discs? Some of these were made on the word processor that preceded my doomed computer. The drawer on the top to my right was and is my neatest drawer. Nothing but paper. Pure potential. I am proud of that drawer. Gulp… Next came the filing cabinet with its two deep drawers. At the back a few files were actually upright. Photographs of the youthful dancer… Sorted by year and place! But before we got to those, the piles of assorted this and that must be lifted out – and SORTED – before FILING. In the filing cabinet were also colorful filing sleeves, bought for the purpose several years back. E was delighted.

Yesterday was as painful as it was productive. By the time my angel of a helper had departed, leaving me well on my way to order, I was faint with hunger and far too exhausted to see that something good had been accomplished. For one thing, though quantities of stuff was shredded and thrown out, it still seemed to me that too much Leiflife still filled the drawers of the filing cabinet. Even filed, I felt a lingering embarrassment at all that evidence of profuse creativity. I succumbed to my weariness knowing that there was much culling still to accomplish.

However, this morning I managed to forget about further tackling. I sat at my desk and opened my laptop with only a touch of trepidation. It had been at T-9 computers having stuff from the old desktop transferred by the twinkle-eyed Mr. T. I checked email briefly, then took Music and Star for their long walk of the day.  Upon returning, I found and perceived the gift. Upon the screen of my newly laden laptop, an image unfolded – and another – and then another. All of the images from My Pictures had been set up as screen saver. One after one, the muchness of Leiflife – so bemoaned the night before – streamed past. The drawings, paintings, sculptures and illustrations were interspersed with family photographs. Children, grandchildren, siblings appeared and vanished only to yield up Paris in all her glory. A friend’s dear face made way for a sunlit magnolia; light-filled visage was replaced by another. I stood there, imobilized by what I was seeing, feeling, knowing; this was my life. I watched as the black and white image of a young dancing Leif led into a full color Leif of two or three years ago – dancing before her father’s murals – hand of woman merging with wing of bird. Here, in front of my eyes, was a whole different version of accumulation. Again, there was so much stuff. How could the tiny computer hold it all – and manage it all so well. How could one’s perception be changed so easily. Like a miracle, my exhausted and apologetic stance of yesterday had faded away to reveal an amazing gladness for  my  life. So many years – so much experience – so much living and sharing and expressing… There was bound to be clutter and debris. And yet…  Perhaps there is much more to celebrate  then to denigrate. I am sure there is…

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Monday Moment

August 23, 2010

I find myself in a moment of pure energy. Since waking this morning, all things seem relevant and possible. Even the taste of my slightly over-ripe banana was a revelation – delicious beyond expressing. How grateful I was to slowly partake! And my large cup of hot milky coffee topped with foam and cinnamon was surely heaven sent. I savored that moment which led to the next and on to the next. On some days pleasure is ripe for the claiming. The simplest of occupations bring joy. Walking the dogs in the sun drenched park, I paused in a large patch of shade to sing a silly song about generous trees and the breeze that flowed over water and found us there. My dog, Music, is always appreciative of my spontaneous singing. He sat to listen, cocking his head and letting his old dog bones enjoy the moment. Star was not so content; she pulled us onward her nose to the ground. Thankfully, the breeze came too.

I drove from the park to T-9 Computers. Mr T had my desktop all clean and ready for its next moment. I told him I’d gotten too old for desktops – for climbing beneath the desk with a flashlight in hand and too many wires to re-attach. I was ready for simpler ways. He looked at me with his inimicable twinkle and suggested a headlamp. Could I make an adventure of the process? A joke? A little flirting? Not sure, but again I was in this moment, delighted with our rapport. He went on to tell me that I should consider selling my art online. I queried, “Do you mean a website?” He said, “Either that or ebay.” He went on to tell me of untapped possibilities. Perhaps he could show me…  Show me? The arrival of another customer allowed my easy departure. But I left there infected.  In a good way… I had lived those moments fully – whatever the next moment brought.

I am home now – perched on the edge of my chair – blogging to share my ongoing Monday moment. Ahhhhhhh…

Paris and Other Destinations

August 21, 2010

Over a week since my last blog. So much living going on. And in between, the pondering. Pondering the possibility of Paris. It would be my seventh trip to the city of light, but I find that Paris has become an automatic destination. Just the name of that magical place can trigger an immediate and intimate awareness of myself on those streets, in those parks, on a bridge looking out on the Seine. Where else would I go? So the pondering, and in years past, the eventual acting to make it possible. Booking the tickets… Finding the right hotel… (Each time I have gone to a different hotel for a moderate shift in perspective.)

It has been just over a year since my last trip to Paris. It is natural to have those stirrings again – to feel that delicate and persistant pull. But how much of this has become habitual, based upon that long ago initial journey when a brief romance with a reverent and debonair Frenchman set the tone for subsequent journies to the city, though from then on my experiences were those of a solitary romantic, and at times were tinged by a loneliness not admitted to others. Even so, It was always worthwhile: the going and the being. I have seemed to have an ongoing love affair with the city, and our relationship has moved between rapturous and harmonious exchanges to those awful periods when no amount of love or longing could bridge the gap between Paris and me.

Just before my last journey to Paris in June of 2009 I completed a novel in which I called upon all my knowlege of the city and my experiences there over several years. Paris is the setting for three quarters of the book. A trauma suffered by the young heroine leads to a year in Paris – Paris at its most magical, romantic, and welcoming. Granted a year in the city, Lily, who is a gifted dancer, finds healing and fulfillment, and in the writing of the novel, Leif probably found the same and – by so doing – let go of Paris as her major destination. That last journey seemed almost redundant. There… I admit it. The love affair may have run its course. No wonder I found myself reluctant to book those tickets.

But I have booked tickets to New York City. I shall go for the Walter Anderson Legacy Exhibit at the Luise Ross Gallery – opening in September. I shall see my drawings hanging along with my father’s paintings, my sister’s paintings, and the paintings and drawings of my niece and nephew. My soul has no great investment in this journey, but some journies take a while to reveal there larger reasons. And all destinations prepare the way for other destinations.

Symbolic Gesture

August 13, 2010

For weeks I have felt that my hair was obscuring my vision, adding weight and distraction to a life that longs for freedom and simplicity. A heavy bob that swings forward on one’s cheeks – however stylish and admired by others – can become a liability. Perhaps liability is too strong a word. Perhaps I was simply ready for a change. And yesterday I was finally brave enough to manifest the inner willingness. Alleluia!

My hairdresser was totally in sync. His marvelous hands took flight in an instant. Fluttering, soaring, diving and darting, his fingers blurred as his scissors unveiled a visage I’d almost forgotton. My goodness; the woman actually has bones beneath her aging skin. Well… Perhaps she is not so old. Remove the curtain and the eyes begin to dance, the cheekbones lift, reflect the winged flight around her head. Involuntarily, the corners of my mouth tilt upward. How is it that the eyelids cease to droop as the soul becomes more visible through the eyes? At last, my ears unveiled, the effect of lifting free is nearly complete. I find it difficult to linger in the chair for the finishing touches that every hair salon is determined to accomplish. I secretly squirm to go forth. Rejuvenated to the age of three or four, I know I don’t need product in my hair or further styling with the hairdryer when my hair is dry. The lively feathers atop my head have a life of their own. They speak to me of liberation and a whole new dance.

September?

August 7, 2010

Lately, I have it bad: the August blahs. No breaking through the oppressive end of summer heat. It is the dregs – the air almost used up, and what is left is loaded with unrelieved moisture. The heat index has been over a hundred for days. Add to that frequent reactive hot flashes and this woman longs to flee to cooler regions.

But planning an escape takes energy, and mine is flat, sucked out by my attempts to live where I am – dragging myself through the sweltering days – brief but necessary dog walks and essential outings in the car. Yes, I have air-conditioning and, physically, it brings relief but, psychologically, oppression follows me wherever I go. I feel that nothing will revive me save the coming of September. Sweet September… Not that September is much cooler than August in this area. The South is slow to greet the fall. Summer tends to cling with sticky determination. The remnants of her stale and humid breath persist, even as the crimson leaves of the Virginia Creeper are  bravely letting go. For me, the smallest signs: a waft of cool dry air, a glimpse of deep blue sky, even the name of the month – three lovely syllables to roll off the tongue – bring hope, allowing the heart to stir expectantly.

But now is now, and August has just begun its sultry dance. Thoughts of attending the New York show attempt to penetrate the mugginess with little effect. Even a fleeting fantasy of flying from New York to Paris simply to breathe that glorious September air again seems swallowed up by the murky present.

Yet, is it really? This isn’t the first time that this hazy yet persistant plan has surfaced. Might it be possible to trust the wisdom behind the plan and act accordingly? Can I embrace blind faith just long enough to book a flight? And will this action free me from the August blahs.