Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hold the Vision, Trust the Process

In your action, you lose sight of the vision, you lose sight of your trust in the process, and you just bang around in a sense of futility. Hold the vision and trust that the Universe will acclimate to your vision. Hold the vision and trust the process.

Abraham-Hicks, Portland, OR, June 10, 1997

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why we should write

Lately I have been struggling with whether or not to bother writing on my blog. I see myself becoming just one of the thousands of bloggers that start off with the best intentions and just fade out over time, there must be a million of us out there by now. After all, I never really considered myself a writer and I would never describe myself as literary, however, I do enjoy writing. I also like to draw and paint and take photographs, but I tend not to make much time for these interests either. My partner, who is a psychotherapist, and somewhat of an expert on human behavior, sees my attitude towards my creative endeavors as a holding back and an unwillingness to share my creative gifts. I'm perplexed by this, I consider myself to be a giving and generous person, yet I'm willing to consider any explanation and understand that it may be myself that I am not generous with. I feel it is based on my insecurities of "not being good enough" but this explanation has been described to me as just a "mask". Still, I'm willing to consider anything.

I've been reading my, now ancient, copy of "The Artist's Way" lately and I see that I am best described by Julia Cameron as a "Shadow Artist", someone who typically surrounds themselves with artistic friends and coworkers but doesn't pursue their own creative talents for reasons of fear, rejection, or not being good her words;

Artists love other artists. Shadow artists are gravitating to their rightful tribe but cannot yet claim their birthright Very often audacity not talent makes one person an artist and another a shadow artist-hiding in the shadows afraid to step out and expose the dream to the light, fearful that it will disintegrate to the touch.

Then a few days ago I picked up another book at a local bookstore by Julia Cameron entitled "The Right to Write" and as the Universe would have it, I received an amazing and wonderful message, it was as if it was just waiting for me to find it.

She starts by asking the question, my question;
Why should we write?

We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to our higher and deeper level of inner guidance.
We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.
We should write, above all, because we are writers whether we call ourselves that or not.

Thank you Universe, for reminding me of the truth once again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dining out with kids: A Parent's Perspective

I’ve been thinking about all this “kids in restaurants” stuff that seems to create such a stir. I‘d like to add my two cents as a mother of two young children now ages 11 and 8, both of whom have been/being raised in Park Slope Brooklyn. I believe, if asked, most parents would agree that bringing a young child into an “adult” dining experience is pretty unpleasant for BOTH parent and child.

Most, if not all, of my experiences with bringing my children to better adult restaurants were predicated on one thing- an invitation from my in-laws. Some of these invitations were based on particular events, birthdays, anniversaries, and sometimes that’s just how they chose to visit with us. My husband and I always had a hard time saying no to the offer of being treated to delicious food that we didn’t have to prepare or clean up ourselves, in addition to the fact that my in-laws were not easy people to turn down. So there you have it, I found myself eating out with young children in “adult” restaurants more often then I’d like to admit. Guilty.

Here are some memories:

There’s nothing like the moment when my warm goat cheese salad has arrived, the wine is poured and I am simultaneously alerted to the fact that I need to bring my child to the restroom immediately, if not sooner. By the time I’ve returned all the other adults are enjoying their entrees and I still haven’t touched my salad, I scarf a bit of it down before it’s taken away to make room (on those small tables) for the other larger dishes.
I now settle in to the priority task at hand- to cut up my child’s food- partly to avoid any choking scenes, and partly so that once that’s done I can “relax” and eat. No sooner than I stick my fork into that delicious red snapper topped in tomato chutney, a glass of water spills and floods the table (someone forgot the sippy cups!). As the wait staff is being summoned, I’m guiding the stream of water off the table onto my own leg so that the kids aren’t getting soaked.
After that commotion has settled down, although I’ve barely touched my food, we’re ready for the dessert (at the insistence of Grandma). At that moment I have an inexcusable lapse in memory about the fact, that in better adult restaurants, the chocolate desserts will be too rich for small children, having not only plenty of white sugar, but packed with a good jolt of caffeine, Need I say more?

On a bad night, one where we had to wait a while for a table or food, the meltdowns started at the restaurant. We would leave the restaurant, crying kid(s) in tow, heads down to avert any eye contact, knocking into a few tables on our way to the exit. On a good night, we would leave the restaurant before the onset of the inevitable meltdown, but once home, we were faced with an eternally long evening. These were evenings in which our children seemed possessed and unrecognizable to us and we were lucky if any of us got much sleep.
These are just a few of my memories, there are more, but it suffices to say I stopped going to adult restaurants with my kids by the time my youngest could walk. It was clear that being cooped up in a chair for that length of time is hard on those little bodies, not to mention my nerves.
We are all the better for it, yeah we still go out occasionally, (to more appropriate restaurants) but we mostly save that for adult time out. We eat healthy meals at home, where we can hear each other talk about our days and the kids can get up from their seats when and if they need to, without bothering anyone else. Amen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Julie, Julia & Moi

I recently saw the movie Julie & Julia and was so inspired I went home and made the best bruschetta known to man (if I do say so myself), it was melt in your mouth delicious. I made a similar version to what I saw in the film except I added a few touches of my own, a dab of butter and some fresh parmesan cheese, it was crispy, juicy and bursting with flavor, all at the same time, truly a mouth watering delight. Still reeling from the film...a few days later I created an amazing dessert for my partner's birthday celebration. It was a rich creamy chocolate mousse topped with fresh whipped cream with just a hint of coconut, drizzled with a black cherry cognac sauce reduced down for a lovely sweet and slightly tart finish, all in all, quite delectable. I must admit, I find cooking (when the mood strikes me) so incredibly pleasurable. However, as most italians would agree, the pièce de résistance is when the recipients of my creations are overtly delighted and consume them with the gusto and love equal to that which went into them. That total experience is what I call a little "heaven on earth".

As for the movie, Meryl Streep gave a tremendous performance, watching her as Julia Child was so entertaining, she was just perfection. She had it down, the body language, the voice, all with the added warmth and humor that only Meryl Streep can add.

Other movie critics say it better than I. Here's a review by Kimberly Gadette which aptly expresses my thoughts about Meryl Streep's performance; seems no one can match her dual skill in both drama and comedy, often deftly blending the two. And with this role, rather than giving us a caricature of the famous cook, Streep embraces the woman's inner glow, expressing a childlike rapture that overtakes her face whether she's sampling Sole Meunière or caressing her husband's cheek. Even without the addition of shoe implants and cheated waistlines to create the illusion of Child's 6'2" height, Streep is a magnificent mirthful Amazon, effortlessly carrying the film to delicious pinnacles of delight.
She's found a marvelous complement in Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada). They work beautifully off of each other, a believable couple with a unique sizzle that's both sexy and endearing. Like chocolate and peanut butter, champagne and strawberries, or cookies and milk – they're fabulous alone, but put them together and wow, the combination is simply

Lastly, Stanley Tucci plays her adoring attentive husband flawlessly, in between all of these mouth-watery gustatory delights there is also a tenderhearted love story that brought tears to my eyes.

Less is More

Here is a great article on parenting by Tom Hodgkinson entitled "Idle parenting means happy children" "">">

In it, he writes about how less is really more when it comes to parenting. It includes his brilliant "Manifesto of the Idle Parent", which starts out with the following:

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
That should mean that they leave us alone, too
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals...

It is taking me years to learn this, but doing less and being more is not just important, it's vital. I know in my heart that there is so much truth to this. I see it all around me, everywhere I go, especially when it comes to kids, less is truly more.
The more involved parents get in their children's leisure time, the more anxious the child and the more harried the parent.

Where did we get this antiquated belief that suffering, martyrdom and self sacrifice is the way to a fulfilled life? No doubt religion has a major stake in propagating this widely held belief. But even for the rest of us, the ones that have moved away from traditional beliefs and rejected any former notion held by our ancestors that the only way to get anywhere is through a sweat and tears approach, it's difficult to shake. It's as if it's still lurking around somewhere in our psyches, and over time breeds resentment and wreaks havoc with our physical and psychological health.
Why is it that most (if not all) of my artist friends, whether it's writers, painters, or musicians seem to live the "starving life"? Is it because deep in our hearts we still believe that creating art and expressing ourselves is too pleasurable to earn us a comfortable living? Or is it bigger than that? Does our society as a whole buy into the suit and tie world of money jugglers and CEOs so much that we continue to reward them financially no matter how adversely they effect our society our economy and our environment? Frankly, I think we are stuck in a quagmire that not only undermines our deep intuitive beliefs but does nothing to enhance the lives of our children.
I could go on about this, but today I will go with the "less is more" approach and just say that doing less seems like a beautiful entree into finding our way back to things that really matter.

Here are some of my favorite lines from Tom Hodgkinson's article:
"Paradoxically, the idle parent is a responsible parent because at the heart of idle parenting is a respect for the child, a trust in another human being."

"...No, there is no room for martyrs in the world of the idle parent. Our happiness comes first. And that is the right way round. As a cab driver said to me the other day: "My kids are happy because we're happy." Do not suffer. Enjoy your life."

I really enjoy reading Tom Hodgkinson's column entitled "Idle Parenting" in the, check it out, maybe you will too.

Today's Quote from Neale Donald Walsh

"...perfectionism is the enemy of creation."
John Updike said that, and he was right. He understood
that nothing stops the forward march of any creative
endeavor like the need to do it absolutely perfectly.
And who is to judge what is 'perfect' anyway? What I
have judged full of flaws so many others have called
terrific. Maybe the definition of Perfection is something
that actually gets done.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Empty Nest

About a week ago, a pretty light brown bird (a friend of mine thought it might be a Mockingbird) made her nest on our fire escape. I can see it from where I sit while at my computer. Like most nests, it is made of small brown twigs loosely put together in concentric circles and in it lay two, seemly perfect, small brilliant white eggs. I felt honored she picked our fire escape in which to give birth to new life.
A few days later, while sitting at my computer, I heard a loud noise which sounded like something heavy was dropped and then very large wings flapping, when I looked out I saw a large black bird hanging on the side of that very fire escape struggling to get her beak into the unprotected nest. Before I could move, I saw her lift her head and right inside her beak was one of those perfect white eggs. She held her head up- like a perfect picture, the contrast of the bright white egg against her raven blue-black gleaming head was striking, she looked enormous compared to the egg she held between her long black beak and in an instant she turned her head and flew off with it, just like was gone.
A few minutes later, the mother arrived back to the nest only to find one remaining egg. She circled the nest a few times, bobbing her head in a bit, before sitting down to brood. I felt sad, a thief had kidnapped one of her precious eggs, even worse, feasted on it.

It brought up so many feelings for me, besides being the mother of two children, I also had two miscarriages, which I deeply mourned. I felt that familiar feeling creeping up in me, the feeling of mourning the loss of what might have been.

Everyday after that I watched the Mama bird sit on her solitary egg, now less frequently leaving to forage for food. Three more days passed and still she sat diligently waiting, brooding.
I started to become obsessed with the impending event, every day feeling more like an expectant parent myself, starting to anticipate the excitement of new life.

Upon awakening today I noticed some other bird flying around the fire escape. I quickly opened the blinds and there it was... an empty nest. I then saw Mama bird land, look around, circle the nest, and when it finally seemed to register that her last egg had been stolen, she flew off, this time for good. I stood there horrified at first, and when it all sank in, I cried.

In my opinion, the birth of a new life is, without question, the closest thing to heaven we have here on earth. There is something so awesome, so powerful and so deeply moving about giving birth to new life, it is certainly one of the more miraculous things we humans ever get to experience and witness.

So I have to ask myself today; What is the deeper message in this for me?
Is it about life, loss, endings, missed opportunities, the ruthlessness of nature?
Only a moment passes before I realize it's impossible NOT to see it...after all, the empty nest is now sitting right outside my window.


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