Edgar Degas

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I spent the morning visiting an old acquaintance

Saw his familiar expressions and heard his stories

Captured in the madness and mastery of brushstroke

 

Peeking behind the wings at the ballet

I saw nervous dancers feet beneath tulle skirts

Rehearsing with anticipation moments before the curtain

 

Listened to a café singer in Paris while

Sipping an espresso from a dimly lit corner

Her melodies floating over the smoky room with ease

 

Caught a glimpse of a woman bathing

In a symphony of limbs and abandonment

From an oval-shaped tub and the illusion of water

 

Yet, the mystery of art lies not with technique

But the reminder that when it encounters faith

Ghosts from the past become remarkably opaque

Grandma Jean

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Grandmothers are special people. My Grandma Jean was a wise friend, reliable confidant, engaging storyteller, vocal cheerleader, expert baker, tradition keeper, hard worker, savvy shopper, warm hugger, fierce protector, and more. I am grateful to have been her granddaughter and for her friendship and love.

Since her passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about our time together and the small, thoughtful ways she made everyday special. A crystal donkey dish filled with Hershey Kisses set out for me and my sisters, warm grandmother hugs and favorite story books, getting tucked in at night with kisses and the scent of fresh laundry, shopping for shoes, and long talks while baking oatmeal raisin cookies and burning a few, on purpose, for grandpa. I never want to forget those memories, or her.

“You won’t. I know a little about that. When you lose someone they take a bigger place in your heart, not a smaller one. Every day it grows because you don’t stop loving them” (The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani, page 78).

2012 Reflections

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Two thousand and twelve, the year the world ended. Okay, not really. However, the past year has been full of life changes, joy, loss, adventure, uncertainty, fear, accomplishment and love. A cross-country move with my husband and kitty cat, making new friends, completing yoga teacher training, job and soul-searching, personal reflection, writing, starting a blog, art-making, volunteer work and the passing of my dear Grandma Jean are a few personal milestones from 2012. And in a way, the world has ended for me since 2013 is the birth of new dreams.

I don’t typically set New Year’s resolutions. However, in yoga teacher training, we read  The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodron. Her writing is bursting with insight, but there was one passage in particular that I found inspiring and am re-reading as my resolution and meditation for 2013.

“The Navajo teach their children that every morning when the sun comes up, it’s a brand new sun. It’s born each morning, it lives for the duration of one day, and in the evening it passes on, never to return again. As soon as the children are old enough to understand, the adults take them out at dawn and they say, ‘The sun has only one day. You must live this day in a good way, so that the sun won’t have wasted precious time.’ Acknowledging the preciousness of each day is a good way to live, a good way to reconnect with our basic joy” ( p. 33).

Do you set resolutions? What are you meditating upon as we end 2012 and move into the New Year? As always, with love and gratitude to you for reading.

Stella the Meditating Kitty Cat

Seated meditation is challenging. It requires patience, commitment, forgiveness, curiosity, observation and stillness. I think that the art of meditation will forever elude me. Yet, daily I try to observe my thoughts, focus on my breath, and find space and sometimes solace in the practice. Reading about meditation and the enlightenment of the great ones offers encouragement. Still, even the slightest mastery of meditation seems far beyond reach and sometimes, even trying feels futile. That is why I am grateful to have found my meditation guru and teacher in the most unlikely (or likely) of creatures, my kitty cat, Stella.

Stella sits with me as I meditate, breathing steadily while snuggled in my lap. She watches, listens and waits. Time passes, I grow anxious, she sits. I shift and move my aching body, she sits. Emotions wax and wane, sadness and joy pass through me, she sits. It is not a new or novel idea – just sit. However, through Stella’s example, the practice becomes more tangible and promising.

I believe animals can teach us many lessons, if we are open to their wisdom and love. I would love to hear, what lessons have you learned from animals?