Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Which I Finish Reading A Book
I read SoulCollage by Sheena B Frost to get a better idea of what I am going to be creating over the next few . . . well, weeks, months, possibly years. I sent out an email to everyone I know who lives nearby asking them to please not toss out any magazines or catalogues with the promise that I would recycle anything I use. I am already gathering some curious images. I am prepared to take my time but to also experience some inspiration and insight along the way. Which is to say, the book has excited me about the idea of creating SoulCollages. What is a SoulCollage? It is a collage, 5” x 8”, created on a matte board. The cards are divided into specific types—one source card and four suits (committee, council, companion, and council). The names for the committee cards do not connect for me. I know what they mean symbolically and appreciate their significance. I will probably work within these names for a while but I have a feeling that I will want/need to change these as I build my own cards. And that is one of the other things I like about this idea. Frost encourages the reader to be flexible, to make changes, to listen to and trust your intuition. Everything about the cards is like that. Although you are encouraged to make specific cards, you are never told to create them in a special order. And even then, you are not forced to conform to every card suggestion. The only exception to this is the Source card. It is different from the other cards in every respect and is different for different people. For Christians, the Source card is a symbolic representation of God. This could result in a Trinitarian image pieced together or be an iconic one of Christ resurrected and/or crucified. For Jewish and Muslim artists this card will have no anthropomorphic images. For Buddhists, it may be an image of the Buddha or a Bodhi tree or even a lotus. For me the image came in a dream in which I was touching . . . well, I won’t say more. I was surprised when I woke up by the clarity of my dream and three days later I made the connection of the symbolism behind the dream. I sketched out the dream moment onto a piece of paper and tucked it into the envelope in which I am storing my various magazine and catalogue finds. When I first got the book, however, I was disappointed that most of the card images are black and white. For instance, this lovely card (http://www.soulcollage.com/images/cards/143.jpg) is only offered in black and white. Not all of the cards are merely in black and white. There is a section of color plates in the book and odds are the book in full color might be intimidating for the less artistically confident. Then I realized that I could use these black and white images not only as inspiration but as a sort of meditation before actually working on my own cards. I could color in a card as I prepare myself for the inspired work ahead of me. I like that idea very much and whether Frost intended it or not I think it is an idea others could use. I did find some of the redundancy, however, annoying. There were occasional cross-references sprinkled throughout the book (see image on such and such a page or this will be explained/discussed in chapter so and so) but that is not bothersome. What irked me were the suggestions that are repeated throughout the book. Offering ideas on how things can be done differently is great. But by the third time this same thing is suggested I felt talked down to, as if I were either too dumb or forgetful to remember that this idea had ever been suggested before. It is ironic because this is a book on collaging and, because of this redundancy, it made me feel as though the book were pieced together and poorly edited. I don’t mind that the book was pieced together. I would have liked someone to go through and point out the redundancy, choose a place where it is most insightful and/or surprising and then go back to delete the others. Poor editing aside, the idea behind this book is inspired and I would happily recommend it to anyone who is interested in this sort of thing. Once I have begun making my own cards, I will probably refer back to the book to see what other ideas for their use I have overlooked. I may do that a few times but eventually the book as a resource will no longer be necessary. Then I will give the book away. To whom? I can’t even guess right now. But after working with creating these collage cards and tapping into my intuition I’m sure my intuition will tell me where to send the book next. After all, I already have several ideas for cards brewing and waiting to be born.

Friday, August 24, 2007

In Which I Feel Better But Apathetic One of the good things about being sick is I get away from the internet. One of the bad things is that, when I feel better, I return to it. When I return, I inevitably feel the futility of it. Virtual
1. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name: the virtual extinction of the buffalo. 2. Existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Used in literary criticism of a text.
The truth is, I am seeing how people are using internet communication in lieu of actually talking with me, hearing the nuances in my voice, the inflections in my tone. And even a telephone call cannot replace sitting across a table with a cup of coffee and talking, not only hearing but seeing the other person there. To touch another person not only with words, which are merely abstractions of abstractions, but with a look, a spoken word, a hand, a hug, a smile. These things are lost and my dislike for and distrust of what we have become . . . what I am becoming. Cyberphobia
an irrational fear and dislike of electronic and Internet communications and technology
I reach out to people I love in glib emails and pithy comments and realize that if this is how I am sharing my love then it is not our relationship that suffers but me. I am devaluating myself and my feelings for other people by sharing it in a manner the does not equal my intention, my feeling, and definitely does not reflect the estimation I have for them. I want more and I believe that the people I love want more so why is it we settle so often for less? If we can settle for this in our platonic relationships then why stop there? I can communicate with my children via text messages for free! I can forward them amusing or even provocative emails. That should suffice. They don’t need more from me. And of course there is intimacy. I mean, why bother building a meaningful and passionate relationship with one person when I can have superficial and easy relationships with anyone and everyone? Obviously, I could eventually work my way into all the pleasures of cyber-sex, touching only myself and my keyboard. I am not there yet but then, twenty years ago, I would have never imagined not taking the time to truly write someone personally and allowing a blog or mass email to speak for me. I have allowed myself to become impersonal, even with people I claim matter to me. And, ironically, I am writing this for my blog . . . pouring out my disappointment and despair in the typical manner . . . abstractions of abstractions for someone to read and maybe leave some inane comment about how much my words mean to them and let them think that maybe they know me a little when the truth is . . . they have never seen me smile or heard me laugh or anything that I think matters. I am doing what I hate because that is now what is expected, to do more is above and beyond, so thoughtful, so surprising. But only because that is not how we do it anymore. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m archaic. Maybe it is time for me to realize that this is all that matters. Maybe blogs and emails are all anyone can handle of human reality any more. The rest is a luxury that will go the way of so many other extinct animals that no longer have a place in this world. I certainly don't feel like I fit into this world wide web. Aries Horoscope for week of August 23, 2007 You've been putting out and putting out and putting out, Aries. Good work! I'm impressed with the blend of high-minded generosity and ego-boosting self-expression you've synergized. Now, however, it's time to make a transition. You need to start taking in and taking in and taking in. Your radiance needs to be fed by other radiances. Congratulate yourself for how aggressive you've been, then cultivate an equally robust receptivity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In Which I Am Not 100% Not that I was 100%, what with the vertigo and all, but I am definitely not well. Last night I was feeling dizzier than usual. I honestly thought it was because I'd had one too many drinks. (Oddly, I like to drink because even though drinking makes me a little tipsy/dizzy, whatever dizziness I feel I then attribute it to the alcohol. I "feel" better because I can convince myself that the vertigo is merely the alcohol talking.) When we went to sleep it started to hit. I felt cold. I put my pants back on. I still felt cold. I grabbed the blanket. And then the fever. Hit. Hard. No wonder I was feeling dizzy. My body knew something was coming. When the fever broke I finally got up and took my temperature. 100.2 So I am guessing I hit 101, based on how I felt huddled under the blanket, and I am still feeling the residual effects. Weak. Slightly feverish (99 or thereabouts) and needing to lie down and stay there. Which is what I will do for the rest of the day. Starting now. This week August 20 through August 26 You may find it difficult to make progress on Tuesday, as a number of obstacles rise up before you. The best way to deal with this is to not fight it. If you try too hard to push your way through, you may make matters worse. Just go with the flow, even if it means taking an unexpected detour. Getting bad tempered isn't the answer. The Sun moves into Virgo on Thursday, where it joins Mercury, highlighting your health and work zone. This is a good time to gather information and find out the facts.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Which I Celebrate a Quarter of a Decade

Twenty five years ago, a mother was born. My darling daughter, Rei, was born at 7:47pm on this date in 1982. It is now going on 4pm so I was probably sweating and panting and in a tremendous amount of discomfort after ten days of intermittent labor. (Long story. Don't ask!)

By some miracle, this child survived my parenting. Not only that, but she grew up into this amazingly artistic creature who knows how to express herself visually. Through her artwork I have seen testimony to her emotions, her experiences. Similar to my proflic journaling and occasional writings, she finds ways to express her anger, frustration, joy, and bliss through her images.

And she has not only had to suffer having me for a mother but also being the solo sibling of twin brothers. I can only imagine what that must be like for her and yet she is close with her brothers and, when I die, I will do so knowing confidently that these three people love one another.

Almost as much as I love them. My life has been not only enriched by having them share it with me but it has forced me to be grounded and more careful with myself. In other words, through loving them and being loved by them I learned to love myself.

There is no greater gift.

But today is my daughter's day. With all her passion and self-efacing humor, she has managed to do the one thing I most hoped she would--she has become her own person. She has her own style. She dares to ask questions. And she knows how to say NO.

What's more, she knows what she wants and is committed to doing the work required to get her there. And it is hard work. The energy she puts into her webcomic is amazing. (See the link to the right of this post.) The quality of her work is superior to most of what can be found online. And this is not a mother boasting about her daughter. I tell people all the time about how well she draws. Eventually, I send them to her deviantart website and when they see her work they inevitably say, "Wow! She's good." I don't know why it surprises them. I don't think I come off as the type of person who sugarcoats things or who pretends life is all sweetness and light. In fact, my daughter and I have had our struggles, as is inevitable with mothers and daughters.
But none of that matters because, event when we are at our mutually most vicious, we love one another and are able to communicate that love to one another. So, in honor of today being the day that my daughter helped me give birth to my newest and best self . . . thank you Rei, (aka Shira) for coming to me. I can't wait to see what you do with yourself and your life in the next 25 years.







Sunday, August 19, 2007

In Which I Finish a Book(let) Quick Tips for Balanced Living is a compilation of short essays published by Yoga International. The essays are very quick reads and run the gamut of covering such topics as meditation, pranayama, asanas, netti pots, and more. Most of the essays have an epigraphic quotation and are written by a different person. There is no background or contact information offered for the various writers of these essays. I suppose this is just as well. Although I would assume that each of these essays is written by a professional, I am not sure I would recommend this book to anyone. That is costs $9.95 is ridiculous. (That I got mine for free is not so ridiculous.) What I found especially disturbing is that contraindications for some of the suggestions were not mentioned nor offered. For instance, bhastrika is recommended as a way to “boost your energy.” Who wouldn’t want to do that, especially in the midst of enervating summer? And yet, not once did I read that people with high blood pressure and/or heart disease should avoid this practice completely. The writer merely suggests that such people—along with women who are pregnant or menstruating, people with ulcers, et al—may want to avoid doing this pranam. My mother would call this collection “yoga light,” meaning that there is just enough information to make you think you learned something but not enough to really be useful or challenging. I would not recommend it to anyone I didn’t know very well and whose health wasn’t assured. Better to read an issue of Yoga Journal; it’s cheaper, has pretty pictures, gives background information on almost every contributing writer, and includes warnings for any asana or pranam explored within its pages.