In which I ramble a bit

Today’s post being a post about poetry, friendship, and cat videos.

It’s all sort of connected, really. It’s been a weird sort of week with lots of things going on. I’m feeling joyful because last week I had a massive toothache, but I got the tooth pulled last Monday and it’s been getting steadily better all week. It’s amazing how much the absence of crushing pain makes one appreciate the normal state of affairs. I’m feeling grateful for a dentist who would work with me. Huzzah!

I’ve been experimenting with poetry. I’ve been writing lots of haiku, which you may know, and I’ve been trying adding some fiction elements to the form, partly as a way to experiment with plotting which feels like my writing kryptonite. I’ve committed to a story in haiku about a train journey. I add to it every day, and so far, so good. If I fail to figure out plot as I go the train will crash. It could happen, but the fact that I post it on a public page has helped me to face some of my demons. If you want to see where it’s going so far, you can check it out here.

I also had a grand time going to the cat video film festival. It was held at the Showbox theater, an enchanting Seattle venue full of faded glamour and elaborate chandeliers. It was also full of people who loved cat videos and we all had a great time. A nice blogger from the UW took my picture and that of my friend, and wrote up a fun article with links to some of the cat videos. The picture got into the slide show in the article. If you decide to take a peek,  I’m the one in the mohawk with the tiger cat ears and my friend is wearing a black kitty mask. It was a fantastic evening.

The film festival also got me thinking about poetry. I’ll lead you with me, and there we’ll stop. My favorite cat video of the night is one I hadn’t seen before. It’s called “Boots and Cats” and it’s an elaborate rhythm poem about two main things. I bet you can guess what they are… It’s amazing that something so simple has such an impact as poetry. I am still pondering it, and would recommend you view the video if you want to see something cool. It’s pretty nifty even if you don’t like either boots or cats.

The week was rich in experience although random in tone. I’m happy to make my own kaleidoscope out of the bits and pieces. What’s your kaleidoscope look like?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
273. Take a few moments to think about your week as a whole. What would you put on your highlights reel? What would you rather leave out? Did you discover anything new?

Leaps of faith

It hasn’t been the easiest week here. I started enthusiastically cleaning all the dust out of my apartment last week in an attempt to improve my allergies but apparently if you’re allergic to dust you shouldn’t do that without a mask. I didn’t know that, but my lungs did, and I kicked my asthma up quite a few notches. Thank heavens there’s treatment for that, and my lungs and I are resting on the couch and recovering. It’s been a bit of a scary week.

No one likes weeks like this, but you have to figure out ways to get through them–some version of stress happens to all of us on a regular basis. We scrape the car, the roof needs repairs, someone loses a job. Life happens and there doesn’t seem to be anyplace steady to walk. It can be difficult to function when stuff like this happens.

I have a variety of things I do. I always tell myself that things will get better because they have to. I have to believe this, and it seems that things always do improve. One of my close friends gave me a card which says “give thanks for the blessings which are already on their way”. I’ve got it up on my door so I see it every day. I remember this and live by it. I also listen to my friends in times like these. I may be standing in the middle of stormy seas with no lifeboat in sight, worrying about my health or other things going on, but they are standing on solid ground. They tell me that it will be okay. I believe them. It helps.

I’m a Zen girl, so I also have my meditation and other practices. The more things change, the more that is a constant in my life. I can meditate sitting still on the couch recovering from lung trauma. Lucky thing I am not a whirling dervish–they meditate in a spinning dance, and I haven’t got the air power for that right now, but I will. This too shall pass, and I’ll be back to dancing and regular stuff soon. And I’ll finish my cleaning with a mask on. Now I know.

I wasn’t sure whether to write my blog post on this or not. This is a blog about the pursuit of joy. I decided that I should because people sometimes think that joyful, positive people are in denial or that no stress enters our life. In general this is not at all true. It cannot be true. Stress happens. Life happens. It’s what you do with it that matters, and the people who have had the most stressful lives often end up with the most coping skills. It’s important to share them.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
253. What are you doing to deal with a stressful situation in your life? How can you make yourself feel a little better even in the middle of the turmoil? Remember this: It will get better. It has to.

Following the breath

I have so much I want to share this week, and so little energy to share it. The world is in bloom here in Seattle, and the gardens are full of flowers. Fragrant blossoms line the streets, and everything is the emerald green which gives our city its nickname. The birds are enjoying the weather, and I have been enjoying watching them. This week I admired a nest of starlings on one of my walks, sighted among the vines covering an old marquee. I also observed a dazzling white pigeon with grey spots performing his mating dance–spinning around, puffing out his chest, and fanning his tail feathers to try to seduce the ladies. They were not impressed. The goslings down by Lake Union are going through an awkward stage as their feathers go from fluffy baby down to adult sleekness. Soon they’ll look just like their parents.

While I’ve been enjoying the birds and blossoms, I’ve also been having lots of allergies, and something has kicked my asthma into high gear. It’s hard to breathe right now, and thus hard to be inspired. The very definition of “inspiration” is about breathing. This too shall pass, and I’m sure I’ll be feeling better soon.

My current distress reminds me how important my lungs are to me, how often I take them for granted when I’m feeling fine. I always appreciate my health more after a cold, newly aware of how great it feels not to be sick. I appreciate my knees more now that I have lost a lot of weight and no longer eat sugar–I can take stairs without hobbling, and that is a gift I have not forgotten. It no longer hurts just to walk down the street. I have much to be grateful for even as I am not feeling my best. It is good to have these moments of contrast to highlight the many wonderful aspects of my life. My vision is clear, and my fingers are nimble as I type these words. My bed is soft, and I had a nice dinner with a dear friend. Soon I will be feeling better, and I will appreciate the opportunity to breathe deeply once more. What more could I ask for?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
245. Take a moment to appreciate some of the things in your life that you may be taking for granted. Take a second moment to appreciate all the people who make your life the wonder that it is. If you can, take a few deep breaths, and be inspired by the magic of your lungs.

Ready, set, play!

This week has been so full of writing and random goodness that I didn’t even realize the week had ended until I looked up and it was Monday. Temporal shifts like this can sometimes happen like this when you’re doing freelance work. I’m going to create another one right here and add Monday on to the end of last week so you get your weekly blog installment.

It’s important to appreciate all the random moments that come about. Collage them into your memory. Write about them on Facebook. Make yourself a journal. Tell a few blog readers. Whatever you do, appreciate the heck out of them and the universe is likely to send more your way.

I’ve had all sorts of work and fun in the last few weeks, but one of my most entertaining afternoons was spent creating collages with a close friend. We’ve been visiting art museums as a way to take the day off every week but it was time to get hands on. We grabbed some of the free magazines that are distributed around town and set to work with scissors and glue sticks.

There was no plan–we clipped images that appealed to us and eventually started arranging them on background pieces of paper until we finally started gluing things down. I gave a giraffe the space needle for a hat, and after that I could not resist finding some other fabulous headpieces for the animals I had cut out of the magazines. Everything developed from there. My friend ended up with a woman emerging from an egg and all sorts of movement of creatures throughout colorful space. Both creations were lovely and we didn’t need special training or expensive materials. Free magazines, glue sticks, scissors–I know we’ll have to do it again. We were even able to use some of the magazines we had ready for recycling. Good for the environment, great for the soul.

What other opportunities are lurking about for some creative play? I know I mean to find out, and I’ll have fun doing it. There is nothing to lose, and now I have some new artwork to decorate my fridge or office space. My inner child appreciates me hanging her creation up where I can see it as I work. I’m very glad to have her around.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
242. Have an art date with your inner child and a few friends. This is about fun, so don’t worry about making something perfect. Play with the materials and display what you’ve made.

Hallmark, heroes, and huzzah

Today is Mother’s Day. I think of my mother, who is no longer alive, and I miss her. I think of my sisters and cousins who are mothers, and I honor them. I think of my friends who are moms, and I appreciate them. Mothers are heroes, women who work hard to nurture children and to raise the next generation. They don’t get enough credit, and they should be appreciated every day for the incredibly important work they do, often while doing other work to bring income to their families. I’m sure they appreciate this special day—this greeting card holiday—but I think we need to appreciate them all the time and be grateful for what they have given and continue to give.

I also think of the village. The greater culture tells us that it “takes a village to raise a child” and I think this is true. It takes more than just your mom to do the mothering that we all need. Just as I believe that gender is a sliding scale and we all have masculine and feminine aspects to our personalities, I also believe that many of us nurture each other the way mothers nurture their children. I’m not trying to steal the thunder from this Hallmark holiday—mothers raising actual children deserve all the praise they get on this and any other day of the year. I’m simply appreciating the fact that we all have a role to play in helping to raise each other.

I’ve grown—and grown up—so much due to the counsel and loving guidance of friends. When I’m sick, I have people who check on me and offer me soup. Friends taught me to cook. Friends taught me to drive. Friends continue to teach me to love and value myself as I walk about this world. I value the “mothering” that they have brought to my life. I try to nurture others in kind, believing I have much to give without raising children of my own. I never wanted to raise children, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the village that continually educates and empowers those around me. Thank you to all of my many mothers. Though my own mother has passed away, she has left her mark, and you continue to make yours. I appreciate you all, every day.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
241. This year as you celebrate Mother’s Day, take a moment to appreciate all the loving energy coming to you from the many people in your life. Who are some of the people adding nurturing energy to your life?

Merry and bright

I went to a holiday party last night, and it reminded me about the many good aspects of this time of year. Of course, there was the buffet full of lots of great food prepared by the party guests. That’s yummy and all, but the best part of the buffet was all the little kindnesses it contained. This was a party for our Toastmasters club, and there are lots of us with food issues. We have some vegetarians, some vegans, and even a few members who are gluten-free. There was lots for everyone to eat because the party guests went out of their way to bring food that would be suitable for everyone. It was very sweet.

We had twenty-seven people there, and it’s great to be somewhere surrounded by so many people whose company that you enjoy that you don’t get to talk to as many people as you would have liked to. I’ve been at other parties where I had to force myself to make small talk and had to check the time quite a bit. I feel lucky to know such marvelous people.

The best part of the party was the white elephant game. If you don’t know this one, I’m going to tell you how to play. Everyone brings a wrapped white elephant gift, which is usually something they don’t want and want to give away. Sometimes it’s something tacky, sometimes something lovely that’s been in a person’s home for too long. Then each person at the party draws a number. Number one picks a wrapped gift. Number two can pick a wrapped gift or steal what number one has. The person who is stolen from can then do the same. You can’t steal an item directly back, and once an item is stolen twice it’s safe from further theft. The game is great fun, and I’ll never forget the Santa made out of coconuts that made the rounds last night. I expect to see him back next year. I can hardly wait.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

210. Pay attention at the next holiday party you attend. What makes it so much fun (or so dreadful)? Also, consider adding the white elephant game to your next shindig. It’s a great way to laugh with friends, and everyone leaves with a present (whether they want to or not!)

Mixing it up

Special Note: My blog is veering from its usual format for a few days as I take time to attend the Emerald City Hoedown, a three day celebration of country music and dancing. I’m going to be really busy dancing and socializing—it’s like a mini-vacation right here in Seattle. Yay! Pigeons will return to its usual format on Tuesday, April 29th. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the change of pace.

I don’t read very many blogs, although I am busily at work creating my own. There are many reasons for this, chief among them that I’m too busy doing other things. The world is too marvelous a place to spend all one’s time staring at a computer screen. While I’m off dancing, I thought I’d share with you some of the blogs I do find particularly wonderful.

Today I’d like to recommend Winter in Asheville. It’s written by my best friend, Laurel Winter, who is an excellent writer and artist. Her blog features some of her lovely artwork and photos as well as joyful essays on what she’s doing with her time. It’s a fun and uplifting read. Best of all, Laurie includes an ongoing list of things to do instead of reading blogs. Enjoy this excerpt here, and follow the link to the rest!

How the cello acquired me  (from Winter in Asheville by Laurel Winter)

What a week it has been since last I posted. Humming & sparkly & chocolaty good. GeeWhizBang & all that. I’d take it apart & give you all the details, but then it might stop working. (Who am I kidding? That’s just an excuse to give you the highlights & get on to the rest of the beauty of the here & now.)  Continued at  http://laurelwinter.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-cello-acquired-me.html

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about Quizno’s, dentists and sheep. Stay tuned!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

88. Read the rest of the blog post above, and maybe enjoy some others. Did you ever play a musical instrument? Tell someone that story.