Deconstructive Poetry

It seems easy enough to do this with writings from others (although I think blacking out books is almost sacrilegious). But this can be hard for us to do with our own words and thoughts.

Yet if we look at what it means to grow as a person, we must break down old ideas, beliefs, and limitations to create anew. Ideally we can hold confidence in our beliefs, but simultaneously explore if these long held beliefs have an expiration date. Are they fitting with our lives today, or are causing conflict ? Do they need to be re-examined ? Deconstructed and reconstructed ?

I created three pieces in one evening, and am hooked. I found a new free hobby to express my creativity. I wanted to share this with you, who knows what may arise when you allow the hidden creative artist a new form of canvas.

Can you begin exploring any thoughts you may have that are limiting your potential? What may need to be done to shift this to accommodate who you are today?

“Deconstruction is not meant to be a soft sighing for the future, but a way of deciding now and being impassioned in a moment.”

John D. Caputo

To explore erasure poetry:

Prelude to a Birthday

“It takes a long time to become young.”-Picasso

Today marks a one week countdown to my birthday.  Over the years, I’ve found many ways to bring in the year… going on a trip, having large combined parties, small dinners, taking off work, staying silent about it while working, attending concerts, spa time, family time, partner time, or friendship time. Despite the numerous ways to bring in my new year, all bring about moments of reflection.

How did I live the past year?  How do I want to live the next one?  Have I served others?  Have I served myself?  Where am I at with my goals with body, wealth, and mind?

But next week is the prelude to the big one.  I am turning 39, it seems a bit different.  A large number of my friends are in the midst of turning 40.   One particular friend noted how we should mark the year in a special way…she suggested we choose to engage in conquering 40 things we are afraid of or have putting off in life.  The list could include anything: holding a tarantula in your hand (her idea), going skydiving, nude beach, taking that dance class you have been longing for, or even wearing red lipstick. At end the year, we ideally should celebrate with one massive collective birthday party for ourselves.  It will be like a wedding we throw to marry the “us” we love!

I’ve decided to create a special facebook group for these friends from grade school, high school, grad school, and beyond.  I’m not sure how they will respond, or if people will opt out.  But this excites me.  I am hopeful that my friends will post their Top 40 lists, and we can serve as accountability partners.

As I look in the mirror, I notice several gray hairs growing by my right temple.  Signs of my decades are evident to those that stand close to me.  But juxtaposed to the grays is my notable young face.  I don’t see a 39-year-old, or feel that age.  Internally somehow I am still 15, but with more logic, experience, and guts.  With age, comes confidence and an increased desire to live fully in the present moment.  No regrets.

Birthdays do not have to be something we fear, or keep in silence.  It’s something we have the opportunity to embrace.  Another year on this earth.  How do I want to live the next one?

It’s an opportunity to start over.  It’s never too late to create anew.

If Picasso was right, and it takes a long time to become young, what does it mean to be young ?Words that come to mind for me are :

Carefree Flexible Laughter Play Joy

Silly Energy Dance Curious Present

Focused Naive Simplicity Create Forget

Faith/trust in the world No apologies

Why wouldn’t I want this as part of my life as an adult? Can we learn to be young again ? With each birthday that comes around, can I vow to have the essence of childhood in the forefront of my brain? It’s a mindfulness activity. Be present focused. It’s all we truly have.

As I write this, I await my weekly flamenco class.  The instructor informed us we will be having a dance recital this summer.  I shared this with my mother.  She offered to fly out from Philadelphia to see me dance.  It felt reminiscent of me being a 5th grade school production.  She was proud, and I am proud…of a dance recital at 39 as a beginner! What comedy, but what fun!

In 2017, I had spent conquering one item per month I was afraid of. One of them was taking a flamenco class. I have yet to create my list of 40. Will it be possible to attain to stretch myself so much in one year ?

What would your list include?  What’s keeping you from doing it?  Would you will be willing to share this list with others, for them to be your accountability partners?

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. “-Voltaire

An Affair with the Sun

The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light.Sara Ajna

Living in England for the past five years, sunshine has not been prevalent in my life. This is actually the lightest skin color I have ever been in the past 17 years. I had been lived a majority of my adult life in flip flop territories such as Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara county. Each British summer I am reminded how much I miss the sun. And so when the sun creeps out, I choose to have an affair with her.

This week, the weather here has been amazing. Each day, I somehow force my way to spend hidden moments (even at work)with her. A yoga class on the lawn, lunches outside, morning jogs on the track versus elliptical. I am finding reasons to squeeze in extra kisses from the sun, by taking non-mandatory car trips. Usually I will try to minimise any excess driving, but not when she is around.

Things are different with extended day light, warm weather, and a moonroof to allow the fresh breeze in. Somehow my 120mile round trip commute is no longer horrible. I can actually catch the sunrise over the English countryside. There are moments I wish I could take out my camera while going 80mph because the scenery is heartachingly beautiful. When I drove home after a 12 hour work day, I turned my neck to check if it was okay to switch lanes. I caught the sunset. My eyes wanted to linger there. What a gift!

Unlike an actual affair where one would try to avoid signs of being together, I want proof. A bite mark. Give me tan lines please. Leave with me the scent of you, a reminder to carry me through the rest of the weeks. You do exist. You do love me.

Everyone else’s demeanor has also shifted. We are wearing lighter clothes, and somehow our spirits have gotten lighter as well. Some of my clients that were depressed are noting a change in mood, due to more hours with my sun.

I don’t want this to end. She keeps teasing me. The weather predictions continues to rise fear in me that this must end. “Rain tomorrow. “My coworker warned me this earlier in the week. But the forecast keeps pushing the sun’s departure date further to the right. Each day I view as a gift.

I feel guilty sometimes when with her, I am a different person. I want to nap around her, because I feel comforted and safe. Productivity diminishes. What’s most important when she is in my atmosphere is her presence. She is my number one priority. I long to observe everything she touches by her existence: the vibrance of flowers, the return of the birds’ songs, and smiles on people’s faces.

I know when I lived in California and Hawaii, I took my sun for granted. She was loyal and faithful, everyday she shone. I barely told her how much I love her. But now she visits so sporadically, I try to express my love to her as much as possible. I stretch out our visitations. I find any moment with her pleasurable: either playing with the dogs, setting out laundry to hang, journaling, drawing, or just laying there with her shining on me.

As I walk in London today, I hear a fellow Londoner at the crosswalk say into his cellphone “It’s crazy what the sun does.” I concur.

My dogs also miss her. Generally when I get home, they are begging for food. Not yesterday, they wanted to go to our lawn. It wasn’t to go to the bathroom, it was simply to be in the sun’s presence again.

I don’t know how long you will be here this time. But each time you visit, I promise to appreciate you, relish in your kisses, and spend every available moment in your presence. Please stay.

Now I understand why in yoga we do sun salutations, to honor you.

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. “-Samuel Smiles

For your tanning pleasure…

A Sun Playlist

Here comes the sun: The Beatles (or Nina Simone version)

Let the sunshine in: Aquarius

May the longtime sun: Snatam Kaur

Blister in the sun:Violent Femmes

An island in the sun: Weezer

I wanna soak up the sun: Sheryl Crow

Another day of sun: La La Land Soundtrack

Walking on sunshine: Katrina & The Waves

Walking on the sun: Smashmouth

I’ll follow the sun: The Beatles

(Me and my sun last year)

till we meet again…

Kindness Cards

“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”-Paramahansa Yogananda

Today I offered a barista a positive quote. So many times I do this without thinking, it can become routine. It’s been over six years that this has been on and off part of my life. I forget that I should actually take the time to describe the purpose behind this, when handing out these pseudo business cards. The barista inquired , “What is this? Why do you do this?”

I answered, “it’s simply a positive quote, with a website with positive stories. I do it because I appreciate it, and to do something more than say thank you. I know people don’t always show thanks or can even be rude, but kindness is contagious.” She responded with offering back her appreciation for this act, and further inquired “is it a hobby? Is it just you?” Yes and yes.

When people inquire, when I hand out the cards, I momentarily get embarrassed. I am not quite sure why. I am simply offering gratitude, it’s a little more than the10-15% tip. But when I do this, it takes me out of the normal robotic responses i give to strangers . I feel briefly I am exposing part of myself. It’s a vulnerable side, who deeply values humanity and acts of generosity. I want to break down a wall and form a genuine connection in a quick amount of time with someone I may never see again. I want to leave people with something small and tangible to make them know they are special and appreciated. An inspirational quote and a quirky picture of my dogs may bring a smile for a short amount of time. Wouldn’t I rather want to do this than the status quo or be rude?

Being kind to others does not take much time. It’s brief and the effects can have the potential to be long lasting. But the act of stepping out of your comfort zone can take effort. It requires a little more of you to offer a stranger a smile or intentional out of the ordinary words of thanks.

I’ve offered these cards to everyone from baristas, to celebrities, the homeless, protestors, special operation active duty members , family members, airline stewardesses, tsa agents, Uber drivers, physicians, and fellow clinicians. It doesn’t matter what status we have, or how much money we make, we all don’t receive enough genuine thanks for all that we do.

In Buddhism, there is a meditation practice called metta or loving kindness. In it we express kind thoughts to ourselves, others, those we may feel indifferent to, those we have ill feelings towards, and all of the world. It can be quite a powerful exercise. Below I am posting a link to a practice from Jack Kornfield’s webpage. Try it out, and see how it lands on you.

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. “-Og Mandino

Sacred Journaling

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin

Writing in the first page of a journal has always been magical for me. It’s because the journal is full of possibilities. The pages are all blank, awaiting to be filled with dreams, goals, plans, and daydreams. Life has a fresh start. I can decide what the theme will be, what characters I plan to place in them, and what quotes I will choose to outline the interior pages.

I’ve journaled for over thirty years in some capacity, some years more than others. As I wrote in the last pages of my old journal last night, I was mindful of reflecting on how I ended this body of work. This particular one sustained me over a span of three months, visited several countries, and served me well. What were the last thoughts I had before starting new? Although I am simply documenting these internal emotions, I could choose the last lines to write.

What I chose to write about was these words I uttered to a client earlier that day: “the solution lies in your creativity.”

It’s been said that we are the creators and writers of our own stories. Instead of viewing ourselves as passive victims, where life is happening to us we can opt to be the premiere storyteller. We can be our own knight in shining armour.

Generally when I write in my journals, I give myself creative freedom. There is no censorship. But those first and last lines of a journal are sacred. It’s the beginning and the ending of the stories that captivate and stick with you.

New beginnings aren’t just meant for January 1st, the day after a fast, or the morning of a birthday…we have the potential and possibility to frequently create life anew.

Here are some lessons I’ve manifested over the years on how to keep a journal:

1. Invest in a journal that is beautiful. You deserve a quality journal that’s not going to disintegrate quickly due to its cheap nature. Your journal is a reflection of you. This has been a recent shift for me, and I frequently have people note the beauty of the journals. People will comment on how they are almost too beautiful to write in. But if our bodies are the sacred vessels of our souls, aren’t the journals the sacred vessels of our thoughts ?

2. Choose your journal wisely. Along with the piece of advice above, I notice that the style of my journal reflects the theme of what the contents may be. For example I noticed when a journal was filled with boats, this was the time I dated a sailor. Another time my journal had a sun with people holding hands around it, and this is when I was linked in with “fire tribe” in Hawaii. This was a community of fun people who got together frequently to poi spin or hula hoop with fire. It’s interesting to see the possibilities journals can bring, almost like vision boards.

3. Integrate quotes or inspirational lyrics throughout your journal to keep the theme present.

4. A journal is all encompassing. Verbally express your anger and sadness in here. The journal won’t talk back, but be sure it’s not only filled with these “negative” emotions. Know it’s also available for capturing your nighttime dreams you want to remember or potential goals. It can be a place we store our daily gratitude or somewhere to explore the beautiful moments of a wonderful day.

5. Keep writing in it! Be consistent. A journal, like plants, are not beneficial if they are not tended to.

We all utilize journals differently, so I will not mandate that all journals must possess the same contents. Simply keep these components in your awareness.

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind. “-Natalie Goldberg

Unexpected Pause

Today I had a scheduled appointment at the new American Embassy in London to renew my passport. As they encouraged, i allotted three hours for the appointment. I brought loads of reading and writing material. To my surprise, my wait for all the various internal stations and departments was only one hour. I had taken the entire day off work, but had no other looming plans. This never happens. Even weekends appear rushed. If I am going to the city for a yoga class, it’s precisely planned to not allow much free time. Everything is a hustle, but today I actually could stroll.

What a wonderful experience!

I opted for the slightly longer meandering paths because it luminated more beauty. I stopped to take pictures along the way. I lingered at a coffee shop, using my alter ego name versus my normal boring one with the barista. I had time to write, pause, and breath. What beauty there is in this! Why don’t I allow myself more time to stroll?

I realize there is always a rush. I would rather be late for meeting a friend, in order to squeeze in another errand than be early. Why can’t I give myself the pleasure of allowing space to arrive ?

I wasn’t always like this. I used to arrive early for meetings and appointments. But somewhere along the way I decided my time was too precious to wait for someone else. I began to feel there was not enough time to do loads of errands, my mind was simply too busy to slow down.

In reality, there is never going to be enough time. But we can make space: to slow down, notice what’s around our environment, and use the “extra time”to slowly inhale gratitude for the arrival. If there was additional time, we could even create an intention for our upcoming appointment or meeting. The act of creating an intention may actually deepen and enrich our experience.

Although today my additional space was unplanned, it was highly appreciated. I think it will gently serve to nudge me towards possibilities.

There is a reason the adage exists to “stop and smell the roses.” When we rush to the next thing, we miss all that lies among our paths. Sometimes when we reach our destination, we are disappointed due to expectations. Yet if we are appreciating all that we meet, the entire journey becomes enjoyable. Rushing doesn’t allow space for noticing.

I hope you can take the time to pause today.

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead;his eyes are closed.”-Albert Einstein

Creativity is the cure

I have been on/off sick for the past week, I believe it’s a sinus infection, blood comes out incessantly as I blow my nose. Irritation fills the nostrils and remains stagnant. There’s not enough time to meditate , jet lag , and back to work stressors. The solution should be to take it easy . Stay home and rest at all cost. But in being so wound up and feeling horrible , the solution lied in maintaining my Wednesday discipline…flamenco!

A two hour additional commute was added to my normal two hour work commute. 4 hours of transportation mid week will not stop you from engaging in something you remain passionate about. I could have taken a sick day today, but today flamenco was necessary. If I could only block out all other British commuters around me, I could stay zoned in and centered . This could work. And it did .

There is nothing like stomping your feet on the ground to a collective rhythm of a group. We were serving as our own percussion group, our own drum circle . New routine , new teacher, new students today. Minimal music played . All didn’t matter. What mattered was the soothing movements of the Andalucian dance. We were creating sound from our bodies and beauty in the flowing of our arms and fingers , alluring an imaginative audience to follow every movement.

The answer to much of life is in the act of creating. It’s the answer to …getting steam out of your system (perhaps even sickness), cathartic process of letting go of relationships, uncovering a hidden part of oneself, and sometimes it’s as if the divine flows through us.

Because I feel so drawn to creativity , I am curious about getting into the minds of artists of all backgrounds. I enjoy listening to podcasts that dissect artists, writers, and other creators creative process. They transform pain, ecstasy, and memories through art form. Sometimes it comes easily as if divine intervention entered their brain and into their hands or voice. Other times the process can be a struggle, as it may never reach the perfection they dreamed up.

I recently listened to the World Cafe podcast, in which Glen Hansard was interviewed. I was in awe and it seems the interviewer Talia Schlanger felt the same. Glen was a mesmerizing storyteller, and I couldn’t help but listen to the podcast several times. This Irish musician is most known for his performance in the acclaimed film Once. As his music was stripped down of the layers of production, I could hear the pure rawness of his voice and authentic nature. Isn’t this why we all like unplugged sessions with musicians? Off are the coats of armor we shield ourselves with in everyday life of defenses and superficial chatter, we are witnessing a peak into their true selves.

It’s not a surprise we fall in love with musicians: they are poets, musical geniuses, performers, and offering their exposed souls to the world. We long for this, as we may wish that we could only be so authentic. When someone is showing their vulnerability, their is unity in the pain. As Brene Brown says, ““Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

In the interview, Glen tells various stories through songs about hardships we all may face, including heartbreaks, courageous adventures, death of loved ones, and reflections of our imperfect parents. He ends the interview by saying the following quote:

“It doesn’t get easier, life doesn’t get easier. Life’s tough. You have to get up in the morning, put on your clothes, put water on your face, and face your day. It’s everyday, it’s everybody. There’s not one person on this planet that gets away with that. You have to give your life meaning. We’re all struggling, and you have to give the struggle some meaning. So in some way your songs are just an offering of admittance of the moral ambiguity of the world.”

Struggling and suffering are universal, but how can we embrace this along with our joys? Create and transform pain, sickness, anger, joy, and sentimentality to art. Celebrate and share the human experience.

For glimpses onto the podcast I was discussing see below, and also is a quick sample of some of Glen Hansard.