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Archive for January, 2015

Superpowers and Junior High Crushes

The privilege of a lifetime is being who your are.  Joseph Campbell

Being a superhero is a lot of fun!  Chris Hemsworth

I was angry as I sat on the plane, frustrated and angry in Detroit two weeks ago.  And my husband was getting the brunt of it.   Text upon text, with displaced pissed-off-ness flowing through my fingertips, I provided him with updates.  There we were buckled into our seats, ready for an on-time takeoff at eight pm and our pilot, the one person truly essential for this on-time takeoff, had decided to no-show.  “This is inexcusable!” I sent off to my husband.  “He’s probably at home watching the Golden Globes,” I added as an afterthought.  And that’s exactly where I wanted to be on that Sunday night, at home watching the Golden Globes.  I love the Golden Globes — the red carpet fashion, the chance to celebrate the finest in the previous year’s television and movie shows, the excitement of seeing who is going to end up on that stage with the Golden Globe in their hands.  This year, however, I didn’t even care that much about the fashion or the majority of the evening’s presentation.  I just wanted to be home in time to see Michael Keaton.  You see, I have a crush on Michael Keaton.  I do!  And when a gal has a junior high-type- blushing-and-swooning-crush on Michael Keaton, she’s extra-fidgety when she’s stuck on a plane that is grounded in Detroit due to a pilot who is nowhere to be found.

It’s not the young Michael Keaton, the Batman from the early nineties with his superpowers intact and his sexy lips and his full head of hair that I’m swooning over these days, though I think there was a time back then when I did love this younger version of the actor and the Batman that he played.  How could I not have fallen for both Michael Keaton-Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer-Cat Woman as they desperately tried to figure out man-woman-relationships in a game of cat and mouse power struggles?  I’m sure I had crushes on them both as they dove into their depths and pulled out something fabulous and raw and over-the-edge.  This is a different version of Michael Keaton, however, an older gray-haired balding version, that I’m finding myself giddily thinking about as I lean against the Junior High locker in my mind.  It’s the Birdman version, the aging-actor-who-once-played-a-superhero-trying-to-make-a-comeback version that has caught the attention of my pitter-pattering heart.

I hadn’t thought about Michael Keaton in years, not until I saw a trailer for his recent movie Birdman last summer.  And sure, there is the character he portrays, the aging actor who once played a superhero and is trying to make a comeback, that drew me in.  But I don’t think it was the character I fell in love with as I watched this preview-scene unfold before me on the big screen in a theater in Boulder, Colorado, the scene where Michael’s character for some reason is walking in the midst of a mighty crowd in New York City’s Time’s Square in nothing more than his underpants, no, not walking, prancing, with his chest held high and a swing in his arms and a look of “What the heck, I’m going to go for it!”; I fell in love with Michael, the actor who could play that role in his underpants with an overload of quirky charisma and heart.  To me, that is superpower material.  Vulnerable brave superpower material.  It’s not the Wonder Woman and Superman costumes, the incredible powers that seem to emanate from comic book heroes with unerring ease that turn me on.  It’s the way that we embrace ourselves in our full humanity and find that place of authenticity, even when caught outside in nothing more than our underpants, that feels heroic to me.  And there was Michael Keaton, with body and face not as young and super-hero handsome as used to be, up on the big screen practically naked giving a scene all that he had and creating a character who, in all his quirkiness, was striving to live full-out.

And isn’t living full-out what we all are striving for?  As appealing as it might seem to be comic book-glossy-superhero-perfect, don’t we all want to march through Times Square in our realness, to reach inside of ourselves in those locked outside-in-our-underpants-moments and find an inner ounce or two of dignity and integrity and inspiration?  That’s what I tell myself at least.  And on that Sunday evening of the Golden Globes, I had the opportunity to test my mettle.  By the time a new pilot arrived on the scene, I had made peace with my situation, pushing the send button on probably my twentieth text to my husband before taking off for Marquette.  “New pilot just arrived.  Be home at midnight.”  And it was smooth sailing up there in the sky over Michigan and smooth touchdown in Marquette and smooth pick up as my bags were the first off the conveyer belt.  Anger was no where in sight as I, under a sky of crystal clear stars in four-degree air, drove out of the parking lot and headed down the connector road to County Road 553.  Anger was nowhere in sight as my car started pulling to the right, as it started pulling really hard to the right, as I stopped in a plowed pull-off at the junction of 553.  So there I was a little before midnight, under the starry cold sky with a tire as flat as flat could be.  There I was, calling a husband who was fast asleep by now and not hearing a thing; there I was with a cell phone that had just completely gone dead after an evening of all those texts.  There I was, metaphorically-speaking caught in Time’s Square in my underpants, with no comic book superpowers within my very human grasp and no skill at all in changing a very flat tire.

But the stars were as bright and as close as could be and my two coats were toasty warm and the taxi filled with passengers, the very last car leaving the airport, was easy to flag down, and that taxi driver was kind enough to call another taxi and this new taxi driver loaned me his cell phone and my friends Amber and Raja who live nearby just happened to be awake and happy to help out, and there you have it.  Things have a way of unfolding with perfectly-imperfect-perfection in our very human realm under that wide sky of stars when we listen to our soft and sometimes shaky inner superpower voices that say flag down that taxi when your tire is flat or hold your head high when you’re caught in Time’s Square in nothing more than your underpants.  The next morning, I googled the Golden Globes and found a You-tube of Michael Keaton’s acceptance speech for Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Film.  It is a beautiful speech, not comic book glossy at all.  It is authentic and heartfelt and when he shares the traits of his best friend, who he reveals is his son, he cries.  It is a vulnerable “underpants moment” as raw and beautiful as can be and I loved him even more for it.

 

 

 

 

 

Savoring

Most men (people) pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.  Sean Kieregaard

Savory: mouth-watering; something savory is full of flavor, delicious and tasty — usually something that has been cooked.

On New Year’s Day, one of my friends mentioned that her word for the year was “rest”.  And that got me thinking.  What was my word for the year?  I knew it immediately.  My word was “savor”.  I want to savor!  I want to savor the foods that I eat, and the friends that I connect with and the ever-changing action in my own backyard.  I want to savor the moments, take my foot off the gas pedal every now and then to pause and breathe and say out loud, “That was good.  That was a gift.”  I’m doing that right now, pausing and breathing and remembering how fun it was last week to celebrate Epiphany with my writing group, beloved women I have known and written with for years.  It has become a tradition to gather at Christine and Jon’s house on a day near the Epiphany, to share a meal of pasta with pesto and salad with Christine’s special dressing and a cake, usually chocolate, and dark and rich and baked by Genean.  It has become a tradition to feast on the foods and the stories from our holidays, to write for a while, and then, as the afternoon light begins to dwindle, to bring out the candles, one for each of us, and to walk from door to door around this European-syle home singing “We three kings . . .” as best we can and changing the chalk numeral written across the top of the doorway to this new year in a tradition blessing the house that Christine has brought over from Europe and we all have embraced.

It feels good to push the save button, to bring that Epiphany afternoon more deeply into my bones in this present moment now a week later.  It feels good to remember how good it felt at Christine’s when we claimed thirty minutes, thirty spacious minutes, thirty savory minutes, for our writing practice.  I always traipse up the wooden stairs to the cozy office with the red couch and the wall of bookcases and the Tibetan art and the photos of family and friends and the treasures carefully-placed throughout.  I always sprawl out on the couch with my journal on my lap and my pen in my hand and a willingness to just let it rip, to let whatever wants to flow from my heart and my head to make its way onto the page.  And that’s what I did last week.  I savored the time in the red room, the time with pen in hand, savored what I wrote in its savory roughness about other recent savory times.  And so, here they are, my savory rough poems, written with a happy heart and a desire on that Epiphany day to relax and breathe and appreciate what the moments have to offer:

 

Winter Moon Poem

I want to tell you that you can hear happiness

that in the middle of the night

you can hear the moon singing when you wake up to pee

that you can hear the moon’s shadows spread across snow

as you look out the window.

They sound gentle, soft, coo to you

as you gaze down at the backyard feeder

as you hear the quiet

and the dark shadows of something

moving in the snow.

Is it a bunny, you wonder

or something larger

a racoon perhaps

and now your husband has waked up too

and you both are watching the song in the silence

and it is not a raccoon song at all.

It is a fox song stretching out long in a swishing tail.

It is a song of two foxes

leaping and creeping across the full moon snow

and it doesn’t matter

if your daytime hearing isn’t what it used to be

the nighttime song your heart is hearing

is in tip-top shape.

 

Christmas in Idaho

I want to tell you about Christmas in Idaho

about the crispness in the air

the clumps of wet snow that fell on Christmas Eve

that Christmas Day was my favorite ever

that my cousin in Maine took it upon herself to knit

stockings for the two daughter-in-laws and for two-and-a-half-year-old Viren

stockings knit from our Grammie Emma’s pattern

the same pattern my mother used when she knit stockings

for her kids’ spouses and her grandkids

and Diana added bells and she stuffed treasures in Viren’s stocking

a small wooden heart-shaped box and she tucked

in the box a tiny cedar heart and a tiny wooden comb

with a panda carved on its spine —

and there were other things too,in this hand-knit stocking

a rubber ducky wearing goggles and snorkel, a stuffed giraffe

and I want to tell you that the front-end loader and the cement mixer from Santa

the garbage truck from Grandma and Grandpa Cam were hits

but that little wooden box with its little wooden comb and its little cedar heart

was the biggest hit of all

and Viren carried his little wooden heart from room to room

placed it on the seat of the front-end loader, plopped it in the back

of the garbage truck with the recyclables, pressed it close to his chest

and to us all he said out loud on Christmas Day

“My little heart smiles.”

 

 

Lighting the Tree on Epiphany

Lighting the Tree on Epiphany

 

Writjng Group Savoring Epiphany Meal

Writjng Group Savoring Epiphany Meal

 

Viren on Christmas Day Hike: 2014

Viren on Christmas Day Hike: 2014

Better and Better Feeling . . .

You can’t use up creativity.  The more  you use the more you have.  Maya Angelou

You were, are, and are becoming an unfolding and unending story!

It was an uplifting moment, reading the excerpt from my 2015 We’Moon calendar aloud to my husband Cam on New Year’s Eve.  In Chinese Astrology, we both were born under the sign of the sheep and it is our turn again in this twelve year cycle to be highlighted in 2015: the Year of the Sheep.  It all sounded good to me, a year that values intimacy, family, close friendships, a year for all of us, no matter what our sign, to develop our wild hearts and to express our creative sides with gusto, a year for art, creativity and cultivation of beauty to take center stage.  How can my artistic juices not bubble up into a fountain of happiness when I read such words?!?  But it was the part of the essay speaking directly to us sheep people that had me jumping up and down with glee while at the same time heaving a great sigh of release.  “The best part of a sheep’s life is when she is an elder.”

While visiting our two sons, their wives, our two-and-a-half-year-old grandson Viren in Idaho over the Christmas holiday, our youngest son mentioned to me that he was no longer a spring chicken.  And if he, at age thirty-two, is thinking of himself as something older than a spring chicken, I wonder “in Chicken Terms” what does that make me, his mother, who is rounding the corner to age fifty-nine in a week?  Actually, I don’t want to go there — to the chicken place, that is, to the old non-laying hen place.  In my deepest core, I believe that energy is ageless, that when we allow it to stream through us freely, when we, as instructed to do during the Year of the Sheep, express our creative sides wildly, we exude radiance and we feel vibrant, happy and, yes, ageless.  I believe this.  And yet, I admit that my mind does creep into the chicken place sometimes, into the coop with the old hens, the wrinkled flock in the non-laying back alley coop, and I feel a flash of fear.  Those old gals are never going to be on the cover of the chicken’s version of Glamour Magazine again, never going to attract the young roosters or lay the prized eggs.  It’s chicken AARP and a nursing home coop for them.

I don’t stay there for long, in the chicken pen with the dear old gals.  It’s not hard to coax my mind back into my vibrant creative life.  And yet, I welcome the words in my We’Moon essay, that the best part of a sheep’s life is when she is an elder.  Hallelujah!  What if it can be that way for all of us?  What if the best part of our lives, no matter what our age, is yet to come?  What if there are new feel-great possibilities opening up for us ALWAYS, whether we’re in the bloom of our youth or in the sweetness of our later old hen and rooster years?  What if we really believe this?

On the snowy Saturday after Christmas, my son, daughter-in-law, and I drove my husband to the airport in Spokane, Washington for his return flight to Michigan.  Although an hour-and-a-half away from Moscow, Idaho, Spokane seems to have the best flight schedules for us on these frequent trips out west to visit our kids and I’ve come to enjoy the few hours I spend downtown each time I travel to Idaho.  In fact, it has become my ritual to shop at the Spokane Lululemon yoga store across from the Main Street Mall and then to walk the four or five blocks along Main Street to Boots, a coffee shop with the most incredible vegan food.  This particular Saturday, I was feeling quite Spokane-savvy as I directed my son, who has only been downtown once, to what I considered a great place for him to park by my wonderful coffee-house find.  Still feeling as though I was the one who knew the city best an hour later, I was a bit surprised when our son suggested that we walk along the river before dropping his dad off at the airport.  The river?  I knew that Spokane had grown up along the banks of a wide river and I knew that there was green space along these banks, somewhere — out of town, I thought.  I had no clue, in all of these stopovers in Spokane, in the one-hundred degree heat of last summer and in the glory of full-color fall, on days when I would have welcomed a walk and a river and a waterfall, that this was all less than a block away from that Lululemon that I so frequently had visited.  I was flummoxed as we stood there on this Saturday above not one, but two powerful waterfalls, as we traipsed in the snow along a path that traces the whole length of the city and beyond.  How could I have missed this treasure?  What else lies hidden to us behind a downtown mall or behind some other blinder?  My Spokane stopovers will be richer now that this treasure has risen into my awareness.

That’s what I’m going for as I open to my birthday this next week, as I welcome this new year.   I’m going for the steady stream — a river even — of treasures just waiting for me to discover them.  And who says the stream has to run slower as we boldly go forth into our elder years?  There was power in those falls, momentum plunging itself forward, and I felt it that afternoon in Spokane.  I’m going for that momentum, not cooping myself up, but instead, as suggested in this We’Moon excerpt, expressing my creative side wildly, taking the words to heart, right into my wild heart, that the best is yet to come.

 

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