Friday, February 26, 2010

The World Needs Love

(la versione italiana e` in fondo alla pagina)
We all need it, in one way or another. Pray for it, chant Om Namah Shivaya (listen to Krishna Das chant it here, practice the Metta meditation, do it your own way, and your heart will be filled, maybe even from unexpected sources. And when your heart is overflowing with love, send it out to the farthest reaches of the universe. It can only do good. It won't run out and it doesn't hurt, well maybe just a teensy bit, but it's a good hurt....
Il mondo ha bisogno di amore. Tutti ne abbiamo bisogno, in un modo o nell'altro.
Prega per riceverlo, canta Om Namah Shivaya (ascoltalo cantato da Krishna Das qui), fai pratica di Metta, o fallo a modo tuo, e il cuore ti si riempira`, forse anche da fonti inaspettate. E quando ti sentirai il cuore straripare, con il pensiero manda l'amore negli angoli piu` lontani dell'universo. Puo` solo fare del bene. Non si esaurira` mai e non fa male, beh forse solo un po', ma e` un male che fa bene....  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Artful Journey

I just returned from An Artful Journey retreat at the Presentation Center in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains.
Reentry to planet Earth was harsh. I realized as I rode through the city streets that I was tightly clutching the fabric of my jacket lying on the seat beside me. Not a good sign.
At the retreat I took Nina (as in Carolina...) Bagley's class. I've read her blog for 4 years and thought I had an idea of who she was, but it turns out I did not really. She is the warm, poetic, sensitive, emotional person who comes across in her writing, and an excellent teacher, of course, but she is also very down to earth and very real. Someone with whom I feel I can be my quirky, not always sweet self. The words engraved into the silver portion of the bracelet of hers that I bought, "I have waited until now to walk with you amongst these towering trees", may prove to be prophetic for me, as I have come to the realization that without a doubt I am not "a city girl". I must go find some trees amongst which to live, the sooner the better. Whidbey Island comes to mind, or somewhere else around Seattle.

In addition to the Presentation Center itself and to Nina's teaching and personal skills, the experience of being in community with more than one hundred women of all ages, from all parts of the United States, as well as from other countries, and with whom I have in common a desire to create, proved to be a very healing one, something I am looking forward to repeating. I do not know about other art retreats, since this is my first, but  if you have a desire to attend one, I can highly recommend An Artful Journey. There's another one coming up in July... just so you know....
We had a lot of "lightbulb moments" during class, and that is why Nina is holding up a drawing of one.

A few more photos of the Presentation Center, where even the trees were adorned with jewels.

My unfinished pieces made with items (the butterfly and the blue heart) from my father's "stash" from the seventies, when he made jewelry as a hobby, a pendant I made years ago, and the word "ricordi" scanned from a page in my mother's handwriting and embedded in resin. I really enjoyed making those resin charms and intend to make more. And now, back to earth... 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

From wistful to light-hearted

Wistful: 1. characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.
2. pensive, especially in a melancholy way. 3. musingly sad.

When someone you were in love with as a teenager in another country finds you forty years later on Facebook, and you communicate, and check out each other's pages, photos and friends, it is strange and slightly absurd. It feels as if there are four of you, the two you once were and the two you now are, and yet it somehow plucks at your heart strings in a sad and tender way.

This was the mood I was in as I left work, under skies that were getting ominously grey, to go to a "talk-experience" by John Friend, the founder of Anusara yoga and a sort of yoga superstar. I had just heard of him recently and since he was in town I was curious to see what he was about. The bus did not show so I walked on streets I do not normally use, and the farther I went the more everything seemed alien. I got in my stranger in a strange land mood. By the time I arrived at the location of the event I was deep in conversation with my inner bitch. It was early so I had to wait around and everything started to irritate me, including snippets of conversation I overheard. I almost felt like walking out, but I am very happy I didn't.

It turns out that John Friend, who seems to be a yoga teacher, spiritual seeker, poet, performer, inspirational speaker, and a totally natural and unassuming human being as well, decided about a week ago that since this was the night of the waning moon, as well as Mahashivaratri, the annual celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati/Shakti,  he would add a performance to the talk-experience. And that he did. As he and a scholar of tantric studies? Sanskrit? from U.C. Berkeley took turns narrating (the scholar also sang portions of the narration in Hindi), dancers, three of them beautiful women with illuminated hoops, reenacted the story of Shiva and Parvati/Shakti, while we the audience sat under dimmed lights, bathed in a shower of pin pricks of green sparkles covering us, the ceiling and walls, all to the music of a guitar, tablas and a flute. Shakti, sinous and sensual in a red harem girl dress, danced wildly around Shiva, a muscular 6'4"god, with dreadlocks to his rear, his leopard-print-loin-cloth-clad body tinged in blue. There was also Cupid, a shorter, body builder type, dressed in red shorts, white moon boots and large pink wings. It sounds insane, maybe tacky, but it wasn't. It was perfect. 
Then we chanted OM Namah Shivaya (I bow to the goodness in everything or Om and salutations to that which I am capable of becoming) first silently holding loved ones, ourselves and the entire universe in our hearts, then for three minutes out loud, but softly and everyone in his or her own time, so that the resulting effect in the darkened auditorium was like the sound of hundreds of butterfly wings flapping at once.

At the end bags were passed around and we each pulled out a little gift.

Inside, a mirror, where we could see our own divine reflection. 
And just like that the wistful, grey, alienated stranger in a strange land felt as light as a butterfly. 

Thank you John Friend. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

This blog is pining away

I decided I had to write something here because it's been almost 3 weeks since I posted anything, and if I let too much time go by I'll get all self conscious about it and not want to write, and so forth and so on.
I think of this blog as the journal where mostly I record stuff I do, with photographs. That's so I don't have to write in the mixed media journal in which I mostly drew, painted and glued and did not like to write in, and in which I suddenly stopped doing anything at all.
The last thing I did in that journal was this double spread.
I had watched in rapture as Teesha Moore demonstrated this technique, then ran out and bought more supplies - surprised that there even were any supplies I might still need - made the freaky creatures above, never did all the doodles and writing I had intended to do on the pages, and that was it. It was the beginning of November and I haven't picked up a paint brush or a pair of scissors since. I worry myself sometimes. After that I completed an online altered photo class (or was it two?), threw myself headlong into books and retreats on Christian mystics and yoga philosophy, and now just scribble illegible summaries of my dreams in a notebook, with an occasional line about an important event or emotional state.

My work table with all my expensive tubes of paints, stencil supplies, jars and jars of gel medium, pens, pencils, oil sticks, rubber stamps, and who knows what, sits in the hallway, with what was left of its work surface now hidden by four tall stacks of books that I intend to read. Every time I walk by they whisper to me, "fickle, fickle squanderer of money, you couldn't live without us and now where are we? collecting dust, that's where...".

I could think about the jewelry-making supplies I have that could last several lifetimes, and that live in the same room with an armoire full of yarn, needles, and knitting books, not far from quite a collection of essential oils and aromatherapy books; and I could think about the dried up jars of ceramic glazes in the basement, that keep a cabinet full of silk dyeing supplies company, but I won't. It would just be too disturbing.

I know I am not alone in this. I know there are others out there like me. From their blogs I have glimpsed their world of passions found and forgotten, of stashes gathered and abandoned. Do you feel guilty too?

Since my intention for this on-line journal is that it be a photographic and written record of the stuff I do, this is what I have been up to since the retreat at the San Damiano Center a month ago. Two weekends ago I participated in a three day webcast conference held at The Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M, entitled Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate, more or less on the lines of the retreat at San Damiano, and last weekend I attended the Yoga Journal Conference here in San Francisco. A little side note here. I don't actually do yoga. I signed up for the conference a few months ago, when I had every intention of "really getting into yoga", but then not being able to because some kind of stuff is going on with the nerves coming from my cervical vertebrae, and maybe carpal tunnel and whatever. Fortunately 5 of the 6 classes I signed up for were mostly lecture and chanting, so I was still able to move at the end of the weekend! In any case, both events were pretty much mind blowing, but I have no photos of either.
I do, however, have a couple of photos of this mellow, sunny Sunday, when the rain finally let up, the skies were blue and the blossoms pink.