“Maybe writing can’t be taught, but editing can be taught—prayer, fasting and self-mutilation. Notions of the lousy can be taught. Ethics.” ~ Donald Bartheme, from The Paris Review

Reblogged from The Paris Review: (Click on link for full interview.)

“[T]he task is not so much to solve problems as to propose questions. To quote Karl Kraus, ‘A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.’ There’s also an element of reportage, the description of new situations or conditions, but that’s pretty much a matter of identifying them rather than talking about solutions. Baudelaire noticing that the boulevards of Paris were no longer a means of getting from here to there but had become more like theater lobbies, places to be, and writing about that. The search is for a question that will generate light and heat.

“All this has to do with a possible extension of means. Abstraction is a little heaven I can’t quite get to. How do you achieve, for example, “messy”? De Kooning can do ‘messy’ by making a charcoal stroke over paint and then smudging same with his talented thumb—in prose the same gesture tends to look like simple ineptitude. De Kooning has a whole vocabulary of bad behavior that enables him to set up the most fruitful kinds of contradictions. It frees him. I have trouble rendering breaking glass.”

~ Donald Barthelme, The Art of Fiction No. 66

“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.” ~ Rumi

lotus 

“Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.” ~ Rumi

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” ~ Rumi

I’ve been having really strange dreams again, probably due in part to my latest bout with insomnia. Most of these dreams have involved killing in some way, knives, and blood.

Dark-stormy-cloudsDelightful, n’est pas?

For example, one of the dreams involved a young girl who murdered her parents and younger brother. I had watched a program about this true story, and found it appalling as the girl was only 13 years old when she committed this crime with her 23-year-old boyfriend.

When she appeared in my dream, the girl was much younger, about 5, and she had killed a kitten and was storing it in a drawer. She had made a purple velvet pillow and placed the tiny body of the white kitten atop the pillow inside the drawer, which was spattered with blood stains. I was trying to explain to someone that psychopaths very often kill animals when they are children, and it can go unnoticed.

Freud would have a field day with that particular dream.

In another dream, I was speaking with a woman who had a head but no body. Her head was encased in glass. She was alive and articulate, but she had no torso, hence, no heart. I thought to myself in the dream: “How can she be alive with no heart?”

Wait, they get weirder.

This morning I forced myself to wake up as I knew that I was in the middle of a really terrible nightmare, which, thankfully, I do nt recall, and I was close enough to the edge of wakefulness to be able to force myself into an upright position. What I didn’t realize was that I screamed out loud when I woke up. Scared the bejeezus out of Corey.

But the worst one involved a concentration camp. It wasn’t a Nazi camp, but it was a camp in which the people arriving were separated into two groups. I realized that the guards were taking all of the women with long hair out of the main line and putting them into the line that went directly to the showers. I took a knife (that I just happened to be carrying), and began to saw off my hair in big chunks. I convinced a female guard to help me to cut off the rest of my hair before I got to the head of the queue.

I hate having these kinds of dreams. I wake up totally discombobulated with my heart racing, gasping for air. Not the best way to greet the day.

“Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent.” ~ Rumi

Metta Prayer Beads
Metta Prayer Beads

Speaking of greeting the day, I was reading a post on After the Gold Puppy a few days ago in which Reya was discussing manifestos, life affirmations, statements of purpose.  Throughout my own life, I have always had phrases and sayings that I repeat to myself silently. These affirmations or mantras have varied depending upon my need and/or at what point I found myself in life.

Metta prayers or meditations, which are derived from the Buddhist tradition, are focused on the translation of Metta (trans. Pali) as loving kindness or loving friendship. A Metta prayer allows the speaker to feel empathy for others and for all living things. Metta is unconditional love without attachment, without a desire to possess.

Metta prayers should be repeated often as a means of exercising positive mental qualities. The intention is to create a habit of mind that “allows us to soften into the deeper experiences of our lives, the chances to connect with all that is around and within us…. to live more fully. It allows spaciousness to develop in the mind allowing us to be less reactive, less stressed out, more calm in the face of challenges, losses, injustices (http://www.bemindful.org/metta.htm).

Metta meditations are usually harmonic in patterns and sounds, for example, pairs of words, or phrases of the same length:

Mind clear and alert

Body fit and strong

However, an individual who wishes to employ the Metta can adapt any of the existing prayers as needed. Here is an example of a Metta Bhavana, which encourages us to give Metta to ourselves so that we can be better able to offer loving kindness to others:

May all beings be free.
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be happy
May all beings awaken to the light
of their True nature
May all beings be free

The following is a selection taken from the Metta Sutta, Universal Love Prayer (adapted by G. R. Lewis):

May all beings everywhere,  
Seen and unseen,  
Dwelling far off or nearby,  
Being or waiting to become:  
May all be filled with lasting joy.  
 
Let no one deceive another,  
Let no one anywhere despise another,  
Let no one out of anger or resentment  
Wish suffering on anyone at all.  

“Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more—more unseen forms become manifest to him.” ~ Rumi

The Metta must first be directed towards the self. Only by learning to nurture ourselves can we offer love to others that is based on integrity and truth. The purpose of the Metta is to become more open and aware in our love towards the self.

Botswana agate prayer beads
Botswana Agate Prayer Beads

Metta is then directed towards someone for whom we feel gratitude and respect, such as a teacher or mentor. This person is known as a “benefactor.” Next, the metta is directed towards a friend or family member. By making these connections with people we respect and love, it becomes easier to move on to the next step, which is to direct the Metta towards someone neutral; this may be a hard step as it is not always possible to identify a person to whom we feel true neutrality, but consider all of the people who are in and out of your life on a daily basis with whom you do not interact directly: the mail carrier or the barista at Starbucks, for example.

Finally, the Metta is directed towards those for whom we may not necessarily feel loving kindness, someone with whom we have experienced conflict, fear, or who we have been unwilling to forgive. After praying for all of these individuals, direct the Metta towards all sentient beings (taken from “Facets of Metta” by Sharon Salzberg).

The Metta prayers can be recited with or without prayer beads. These beads can be made of stones, agates, crystals, and can be anything from simple wooden beads on a string to carved jade beads on silk string.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”~ Rumi

Here is the Metta that I have composed for myself:

I am content
I am calm

May I be safe
May I be strong

Loving kindness and
Peace will come to me
Clear mind and strong body
will set me free

Loving friendship
from sister moon
and earth mother 
will strengthen my heart
for the trials I suffer

And I will face each day
with hope and joy
and truth in my soul
anew.

 

flower2

 

More later. Peace.

“The Promise,” Tracy Chapman

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

AWARD--Honest_Weblog_Award

Me? Seriously? You Shouldn’t Have But I’m Glad That You Did

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

This is a little late in coming, but I would like to thank Zirgar for bestowing upon me the Honest Weblog Award. I have been told by several people that one of the better qualities of my writing is its honesty; I know that I do write from my heart, which is not always a good thing, I realize, but it is my way of being true to myself. So many thanks Z and all of the other wonderful regular readers who stop by here to read and sometimes comment.

Chesapeake Bay
End of the Day, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

As we all know, no award comes without a few strings, and the Honest Weblog Award is no exception. Here are the rules: 

  1. You must brag about the award.
  2. You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to that blogger.
  3. You must choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
  4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Weblog Award.
  5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

Then pass along the award with the above instructions.

Top Seven

So here are the blogs to which I have chosen to pass along the Honest Weblog Award. The blogs are listed in no particular order, and their content is as varied as their owners. I try to visit these blogs daily or as often as possible, and my interest in each of them is evidenced by the fact that you can find them listed under the different categories of blogrolls to the left of my site.

  1. White Orchid: This blog is written by one of my dear online friends, Maureen, who lives in Australia. Maureen’s blog covers a wide range of topics—family, friends, work, Australian politics, and much more. Maureen has a very loyal group of followers, and she is diligent about responding to comments and e-mails.
  2. Supersense: Written by Bruce M. Hood, the Director of the  Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol in England. Bruce recently published Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable, an incredible book that I found immensely enjoyable and informative (I promise that I’ll get around to posting my review soon). Part of what makes Bruce’s blog so interesting is the comment section: His regulars are a diverse bunch with very strong opinions.
  3. Floridana Alaskiana v2.5: This blog is written by Janson Jones, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. If you appreciate fine photography, then you definitely need to visit this blog. Janson, who recently celebrated the birth of his daughter Aurelia, fills his posts with beautiful images of landscapes, wildlife, and people. He also comments occasionally on political issues in which he is interested.
  4. Islamorada Florida by JJ
    Islamorada, Florida by Janson Jones
  5. My Sweetest Downfall: This pseudonymous blog is beautifully written by a woman with incredible wit and enough sarcasm to keep me entertained. She doesn’t post daily, but the content of her posts makes up for the wait between. I think that what I probably enjoy most about JaneyLynn’s blog is that I can totally relate to it, to the craziness of her life, and to her occasional funks.
  6. Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezins: Zirgar, who presented me with this award, describes his blog as “a place to vent and find catharsis.” Very left of center, Z takes on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the whole Fox circus, as well as most far-right politicians and politicos. Be warned, he doesn’t censor himself, so if you are offended easily, then this isn’t the blog for you. That being said, I greatly enjoy his rants and screeds on closed-minded racists and bigots, as well as the regulars who comment on his posts. Very glad I found this particular blog, and many thanks again Zirgar for remembering me.
  7. Leaving Lilac Sky: Another pseudonymous blog written by a very talented poet. I have been following this writer’s blog for almost a year now. As with most poets, she has her dry spells, and then she goes into periods in which she is incredibly prolific, turning out a poem a day. A confessional poet, her poems deal with heart-rending emotions, but at the same time, she celebrates life.
  8. Willpen’s World: This is another blog that I have been following regularly since I began blogging last year. Another kindred political spirit, WP is not afraid to voice her opinions about the state of affairs in this country. Worth noting: Several of the blogs that I now read regularly I found through the comments section of WP’s blog.

A few honorable mentions: November Fifth (intelligent, articulate, and a college-level English prof), Really . . . Really . . . Seriously (music and movies), David Bridger (writer with a lot to say about writing, life, and lots of other things). There are a few other blogs that I read as much as possible, but these are the highlights.

Ten Honest Things About Myself

  1. I am hypersensitive, although I try very hard not to be. Just how sensitive I am depends upon the state of my life, which means that currently, I can tear up upon hearing a song or watcing a commercial.
  2. I believe in reincarnation. I know that this is not logical (Bruce), but it is something that I have felt very strongly about since I was very young. No, I was not Marie Antoinette, but my affinity for and knowledge of things that I don’t have a logical reason for knowing has to come from somewhere.
  3. I was a daddy’s girl. As an only child, I was spoiled, and my dad labeled me as a “Want-Whiney” when I was a little girl. If I am to be completely honest, the label still applies. 

    Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay
    Catamaran on the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
  4. I love to wear boots, long skirts and sweaters. I should probably live in a cooler climate as this is how I would clad myself everyday if I had somewhere to be.
  5. My biggest personal regret is not going for my doctorate in English.
  6. I am a collector: books, stuffed bears, boots, office supplies, and watches probably being the top five.
  7. I don’t do things half way. It’s either all in or nothing.
  8. I have become too much of a recluse in the past two years, and I really need to get out of the house more.
  9. I love words. I love to find new quotes by writers I have been reading for years. I love to find new writers. I love to put words together and push them around until I have created something of which I can be proud.
  10. I love the man who has been the biggest part of my life for the past 10 years unconditionally and completely, and my children are my joy. Never try to come between me and my family.

Okay, a couple of other tidbits: I am not afraid of spiders, but am terrified of snakes and centipedes. I love the colors red, black and purple. I really enjoy nature: backyard birding, mountains, waterfalls, and sunrises and sunsets. I am very insecure about the way that I look. I do not have tons of friends, rather, a select few. I love them and miss them every single day, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for one of my friends.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” ~ Lionel Hampton

So, gentle reader, this ends my conferring of the Honest Weblog Award upon some of my favorite online sites. I hope that you take the time to visit a few of these worthwhile and diverse sites.

More later. Peace.