Fluffy grass, San Francisco, Spring 2007.
I’m late on reporting… But as I mentioned in my last post, on April 21st I went to a meditation retreat organized by the Spirit Rock meditation center. This was a very special day filled with poetry, music, meditation and a special guest, the extraordinary Alice Walker. The day included periods of discussion, sitting and walking meditation, as well as a time of celebration through music and dance. I especially loved the walking meditation. It was quite the heavenly vision to see everyone walking in a meditative state across the green fields. In retrospect, I wish I had cut my meditation short to snap a couple of photos of the peaceful “walkers”… However, I was too busy exploring the delicious feeling of stepping slowly into the fluffy and moist grass… (Something I actually repeated this weekend, as you can see above.)
Meeting Alice was such a treat. She is a writer, poet, activist and a woman! What else do you need? She wrote several books, essays, poems and even children’s books. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel, The Color Purple, which was made into a film seen all over the world, now a Broadway musical also. Alice shared her experience as a social visionary and activist. You can tell by looking at her that she is one strong woman. She has participated in the Human and Civil Rights movement in the South, the Hands Off Cuba Movement, the Women’s Movement, The Native American and Indigenous Rights Movement, the Free South Africa Movement, the Environmental and Animal Rights Movement, and the Peace Movement. When asked how she keeps up with the hardship and sorrows of her activist life (which included being arrested at times), plus her writing and everything else… She said: “I just do what I do. This is my life.” How inspiring!
I was also so moved by her compassion for other human beings and by how she does make “her part” of the work, you know what I mean? If we all were more like Alice Walker (and Frida and Maryam!), our world would certainly be more balanced. She also read some of her poems, which are amazing and insightful. I especially loved an unpublished poem named “I was born to hold a cat.” In this fabulous poem she described how she loved to hold a cat as a child. How that made her happy and fulfilled. Then, the poem takes us through her life and all the things she accomplished, the fights she fought, the places she’d been to and the people she met… Up to the moment when a cat showed up in her kitchen and in her life again. She fed the cat a saucer of soy milk :) and held him promptly. Immediately then, she remembered and realized once again, what she was born to do. She figured she’d done so much over the years… But that she had forgotten that her life purpose was simply to hold a cat all along. She was born to hold a cat! Ahhh…. I loved this one! It reminded of a guru I met in India: Amma. Amma was born to hug and she does just that for a living. She is known as the “Hugging Mama”! :D (That is another story for an other post…) Anyhow… As a writer, Alice made me think that if we open up through our writing, art, etc, and allow our poetry to deepen our understanding of the truth and reality around us; we can find new meaning in our lives. I want that: To do what I’m supposed to do without wondering if it is possible. Just do it.
Finally, Alice talked about how to cope with suffering and stay open-hearted in the difficult times we currently live in. Her recommendation was that we should always carry a medicine bundle with us (like our ancestors used to…), wherever we go, for our strength. A medicine bundle is anything that makes you smile and reminds you of your true self and your values. I absolutely love that concept! As a gypsy girl, I know that no matter how small my luggage is, there are certain things I must take with me to make me feel at home (inside). Those irreplaceable little items bring me inner peace, joyfulness and love wherever I am: that old hoodie, that song, that tea bag, that photo… You can carry your bundle of joy wherever you go. Isn’t that comforting?
So many yummy concepts to explore… And to meditate on…
What were you born to do? What is so delicious that you just can’t live without experiencing it?
And what is in your bundle of joy?
Now… Onto journaling about the Dalai Lama’s public talk, so I can share it with you too!
Inspired by her “Master Cleanse” journal, I decided to do a cleanse too. (And write about it.) Today was my first day on it! I’m not doing the lemonade diet (Master Cleanse) though, because it seemed a bit too advanced for this 1st time experiment with detox. So I’m doing something different which I’ll share in detail (in case you’re interested in trying). You’ll see. I’ll post on that tomorrow.
Ah! My goodness! So much to catch up on…
Here is Alice Walker’s latest book: We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness.
Archive for April, 2007
I have one free ticket for the Dalai Lama’s public talk today at the Bill Graham auditorium in San Francisco at 2:30 pm. He will be speaking about “How to make Positive Change”. I realize this is a very late notice… But you have 2 hours to say yes! :D
If you’re interested, please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you don’t hear from me immediately, it is because the ticket is no longer available.
All roses, Berkeley, Spring 2007.
Thank you for your sweet notes regarding Petit. It was very comforting to have this space to pay tribute and share his cuteness with you. Despite the sadness of losing such a special little friend, and the fact that my server was having problems last week, there were also several wonderful and spontaneous moments that I’d love to share here.
The same day I found out about Petit, I received a package in the mail with a stunning pair of pearl earrings from Nomadic Creations. Stacie’s work is 100% Gypsy Girl style. It’s tribal, worldly and magically blends gentleness with great power. I feel a huge connection to her and her art. So it was a VERY pleasant surprise, when Stacie told me she had made this gorgeous pair of pearl earrings especially for me! Even more so, because this gift was given to me with the intent of reminding me to hold onto my dreams, like the oyster holds onto the uncomfortable debris during the pearl making process (as I described in my post a couple of weeks ago). I’m sure you all know, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing something from the deepest corner of your heart and having someone respond to it in such an honest and beautiful way. Stacie’s thoughtfulness, generosity and support reminded me of the qualities I want to bring into my art and my creative business. I never want to lose sight of that. If I make any art in this life, it will only be worthwhile, if it can also inspire, bring hope and happiness to those who experience it. Stacie absolutely does the trick with her amazing jewelry and her open heart. Thank you, Stacie! ~ I will treasure this gift with much love ~
Then, I discovered last minute that Mary Oliver (Yes! One of my favorite poets) was in San Francisco giving a talk at the City Arts Lectures program. I called to register immediately, but by the time I did, the event had already been sold out. Without thinking twice though, I knew what I had to do because I knew that I was going to see her no matter what. So I headed to the theater (45 minutes in advance) in hopes of finding someone selling an extra ticket. When I got there, I found a line of about 20 other hopeful fellas… I waited and waited… But the situation didn’t look good until the final moment, when the sweetest lady showed up out of nowhere and offered me a ticket. Better, the ticket was for the best seat in the house. I sat on the first roll, right in front of Mary.
Gasp for air…Ah…
It was a truly magical night. I had never heard Mary Oliver in person before, but many times since I first discovered her poetry, I had imagined how it might feel to listen to her in person. And she is exactly how I envisioned it: simple, soft spoken and humorous. Truly incredible, guys! She described herself as a country girl… She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and later moved to New York City, where she claims, “I was very careful never to take an interesting job.” Good advice, no?
Seventy one years old (darling) Mary Oliver read for about 1 hour and then answered questions for another 30 minutes. She read a wide variety of poems, some new and some of my old favorites too, like “I found a dead fox”, “Wild Geese” and “The Summer Day”. I was wishing for “The Journey” too, which she didn’t read, but I was okay with that, since I got to hear a bunch of poems I had never heard of before… And on that note, I have not bought her latest book yet: Thirst. Have you? Based on what she read that night and what she indicated during the q&a session, this new book is quite different from her previous work. It seems to be a collection of poems tracing her experience of grief, the loss of her partner and her discovery of faith. She also read a couple of poems about her beloved dog “Pursie”, which brought tears to my eyes.
Lastly, she was asked how to develop the same intuition and observation of nature that fuels her poetry with emotion and life. Her answer was simply: “Pay attention”. She said that if you stare at something long enough, you’ll sure learn how interesting that thing is and you will develop a thorough appreciation for it. She also reminded the audience that you don’t need to go out in the fields to learn about nature. Hopefully, wherever you are, there will be a sky, a moon, a breeze and a patch of grass… You just need to remember to look at it now and then. Hmmm… I was completely inspired by her honest beauty, her clear answers and her grace (she left the stage blowing kisses to the audience… How sweet is that?). I can’t wait for the next opportunity to see and listen to Mary Oliver again. For now… I’m buying Thirst asap and drinking it all in.
By the way, I’ve missed you guys! It feels like ages since I poured my heart out here in the blog world. Sorry about the server let down last week… Hopefully it won’t happen again anytime soon. In the next couple of days I shall post again and tell you about my experience at the Spirit Rock mediation retreat over the weekend and a talk with Alice Walkers (author of The Color Purple).