Monday, December 28, 2009

REFLECTING & REAFFIRMING















I’m feeling kind of strange today. We had a lovely, long holiday weekend over Christmas. All I did, around the Christmas prep, was relax and spend time with Leslie and Elizabeth. Elizabeth and I did a great puzzle together, too. It was glorious. Here in the office, although it is very quiet (not many people here, and those who are seem really pooped), there is an air of anticipation. Merger angst, I think.

I feel as though I should be doing something with this quiet energy, creating something, somehow working with the quiet vibe to do art or something else active. I found myself fighting with this, because my muse is very quiet right now. Francine (my muse, or internal inspiration, who emerged visibly in my art, and so I've given her this name) is in there, I can feel her, but she’s quiet. How unusual for her … and for me.

I’m going to be revolutionary and make a conscious decision to “go with the flow”. Rather than rail against the vibe, I’m going to ride the bliss and do some personal reflecting.

As 2010 approaches, riding a wave of transformation and reformation, I ask myself the following questions: What am I releasing, and what am I embracing?

I found out just how sneaky stress can be when we were looking for a home to purchase. We had a difficult time finding something in this crazy market while juggling personal financial uncertainty. Couple that with a merger announcement at work (merger = possibility of job loss), and you’ve got yourself a reason to stress. And so I did. I experienced more of the thinning veil I referred to in a previous post (written some time ago). Probably experienced more thinning of the hair, as well. Even though I tried not to make an ass of myself, I’m not sure I didn’t. The good news is that it all turned out fine, and the people I got stressed with either didn’t notice or forgive me. We found a place to buy that works for us, things at work got more solid again, and I made a friend in the process. Someone I’ve known *before*. In this, I acknowledge my need for friends, and after a long period of releasing unhealthy relationships from the past, I am eager to shower new friends of the heart with all the love, support and encouragement I have!

At work, the merger has provided opportunities for my work to be visible on higher levels. Leading an implementation sub-team is very rewarding. Mergers do indeed imply a possibility for job loss, but they also imply great opportunity through change, as well. I’ve worked my tushy off, and will admit to having a significant emotional investment over how my hard work may or may not pay off in the end. I haven’t seen a raise in salary since starting here, and while that isn’t surprising given the economy, it sure would feel good. Unfortunately, the time taken up by this work prompted me to give up my place on the school PTA, which I’ve always enjoyed. That made me sad for a while, but it was time to let it go. In this, I acknowledge my competitiveness, ambition and drive, and I cast a web of healthy expectation over the efforts I’ve planted like seeds. May they grow to manifest healthy fruit in the new year!



tuesday 007


I launched my art site, which I’ve written about in volumes here. Doing so was a significant step for me. I plan to continue creating with great fervor, and am excited about it! There was a time in the not too distant past when my muse was completely absent! I’m glad she’s back, and with a vengeance! Over the new year, I want my art to be embraced by those who know me, and those who don’t know me.

Last, but certainly not least … I found myself quietly pondering my parents and siblings over the past holiday. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Facebook for changing their security settings so subtly no one noticed others can see all their pictures and even their wall if settings aren’t in place.

I know. I’m a voyeur. I just can’t help it.

Both of my brothers are younger than I, and I’m no longer on speaking terms with either of them (for various reasons). The youngest seems very happy with his family and in his new home. It’s like he was given another chance to make his life satisfying, which is something he never got growing up. There is a picture of my mother on his site, too. A recent one. I got no pleasure out of seeing how unhappy and unhealthy she looked, but at least she had someplace to go for Christmas. The other brother didn’t make the annual Christmas pilgrimage to Connecticut this year, and rather tried to find homesteading where he lives. This is a first for him, and he’s over 40 now. He didn’t post any photos of his holiday, so we are left guessing. Usually, when he’s got something going on, he shares. I hope he’s doing alright.

For my brother, Curtis, I wish continued happiness with his new family, and all the prosperity life has to offer. For my brother, Donald, I wish a softening of emotional defenses. I hope he lets someone in enough to make the family I know he desperately desires.

I’ve come to terms with putting these relationships aside. They do not fit for me any longer, aren’t healthy for me, and so I’ve let them go. I indulged myself over the holiday by peering into their world, but after trying for years to make it work, I don’t spend much time worrying about it any longer.

Let this be my greatest wish for 2010. I wish that the past remain in the past, and I support myself in the releasing of those burdens.

I think if I had to identify one thing that I’ve learned about who I am, it would be this: I am human. After spending the first half of my life over-achieving and paying the price for it, I want to relax and little and allow myself those human vulnerabilities. I mean, these are things that have always been there, but I denied them, ignored them. So, this year, I am going to embrace myself with all the vulnerabilities and wierdness that being me entails.

With this, I usher in a year of balance. I *expect* myself to pay more attention to the careful balance of my family, work and other activities. I *expect* myself to take better care of my body, bring my health back into balance, and to start by walking frequently. I also *expect* myself to consistently and outwardly demonstrate that balance to my family and friends, so they know I am thinking of them as much as I think of myself.

More than ever, I *expect* a prosperous and happy 2010!

And I wish you all the same.

So much love,

D~

Would you like to know me better?

Visit Donna L. Faber: Creating is Breathing and my FB Fan Page.

Visit my other blogs, When Isis Rises and Every Woman is a Witch.

Follow me on Twitter.

No, I’m not too full of myself! I just want to connect!

Monday, November 30, 2009

www.donnalouisefaber.com


Creating is breathing! Or at least it is to me! Visit my brand new art site at http://www.donnalouisefaber.com/. Purchase prints, cool stuff, and gallery quality prints. Browse the blog where I invite you along on the journey I took to get to each piece. This is something I've wanted to do since 2005, and while all things come in their own time, it so nice to be here at last!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: The Queen of Wands


~click on the picture to get a closer look~
Become a fan of my artwork on Facebook!
My Art website, Donna Louise Faber: Creating is Breathing, will be launched soon! Just in time for Christmas!
The Queen of Wands © November 28, 2009, pen & ink on Strathmore Bristol 100 pound vellum. The original is approximately 14" x 17" , and is cut out and mounted in layers.

I started this piece in late October and didn’t expect it to take over a month to complete. At that time I was on a roll, producing art quickly and with regularity. I was focused initially on a self-portrait of myself and my spirit guide, Gregor. I’ve always wanted to do a self-portrait, but never got around to it. Maybe it’s because I never knew myself fully until this point in my life. As the piece emerged, it looked like a strega (Italian witch) and her guardian, which was appropriate because I have past life memories and impressions all around these geographic and esoteric areas. In fact, when walking a path that included the Craft, the only documented facet of modern day witchcraft that resonated to me authentically was the old religion, Stregheria. Everything else seemed reinvented. That was long before meeting my spiritual mother. I was much younger, and I’ve written much about it.

Wands, (also called Rods or Sticks) are one of four minor arcana suits in a tarot deck. They are about spirit, or spirituality and intuition. The royals in this suit are about spiritual mastery and intuitiveness. Likewise, this Queen is highly intuitive, and is a catalyst for growth in others. If this Queen is in your life (in one form or another), or if you meet her and interact with her, you will grow. You will grow because of her or in spite of her. But, have no doubt … you will change and grow.

The key phrase for the Queen of Wands is I know myself. This Queen has walked the paths of both dark and light, selfishness and compassion, and made a conscious choice toward personal evolution. She knows who she is and accepts herself wholly and without illusion. She no longer needs to see her reflection in the eyes of others for personal definition, and is beyond looking to others for approval. However, she remembers the lessons of her past.

The dragon in this piece indicates the presence of the most primal spiritual energy in the Queen’s existence. Not spirituality that you read or write about and not the kind you go to lectures to learn. Dragons, in a spiritual context, represent the day-to-day spirituality which is intrinsically a part of our lives ... also known as little voice that speaks to us. Dragons are the supreme guardian, present even before Christianity defined angels, and the modern new age movement defined spirit guides. Before all this, there was the primal and ancient dragon, whose presence as guardian, mentor, and messenger kept us connected with our spiritual and emotional natures, the truest form of who we are as spiritual beings. Now, as the earth shifts on its spiritual axis, dragon guides re-emerge to awaken the sleepers (us).

I struggled with this piece for days, through the new moon in Scorpio, the Saturn/Pluto astrological thing, a wicked case of premenstrual syndrome and as work (my office job) ramped up intensely. Suddenly, my time and attention were pulled elsewhere, and I felt like I was navigating life under water for a week. The image of the witch and her dragon seemed blurry as they competed with one another for space on the page. I had the hardest time doing her face, too, and tried and failed more than once. I reached out to my family and artistic friends on the net, looking for guidance, and for a time, I considered scrapping the piece entirely. But no, I was too in love with the dragon, my beloved Gregor, even if the rest of the piece didn't work well. So, I reworked it intensely, cutting, redo-ing, resizing, and reshaping. Then, satisfied with my efforts and in a moment of defiance, I decided to let the piece birth itself for better or worse.
I woke up one morning and realized as much as this was a self-portrait, it was also a portrait of the Queen of Wands. Herein was the cathartic moment. It was still me, but it was She, as well. With this realization, I found the Queen's inspiration, and the muse began dancing. I'd like to say the composition and flow moved perfectly thereafter. But, it didn't. She still gave me a lot of grief in her birthing. Maybe she's just a difficult Queen to get along with, hm?
I present to you the the second in my series of Tarot Queens (which began with the Queen of Pentacles in September).
So much love,
D~

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EMERGING ART: More of the Queen of Wands

These dragon wings
beat a rhythm to my heart;
I feel so much around me,
I don't know where to start.
The Queen of Wands & Her Guardian ... emerging.

Today 002

Today 008

Sunday, November 1, 2009

EMERGING ART: The Queen of Wands

My panties are in a twist.

I've got a lot going on at work (finally!), stuff coming up for the PTA, family life to balance, the upstairs waiting to be cleaned ... and this piece of art calling me to task on a regular basis. I mean, I should be happy. When I'm bored, I'm miserable and prone to trouble. The other side of that coin is having too much to do. I'm not complaining. Well, I am a little ... but it feels good. Even if my panties are in a twist. It feels good.

This is what I'm working on right now, all whining aside. I originally called it "Donna & Gregor" and yes, it is a self-portrait of sorts. Then, I thought maybe "Strega & Guardian" made better sense. Then, the other day, first thing after awakening, I looked at it and realized it was "The Queen of Wands", which is all about spirit. The dragon, to me, is the ultimate symbol of spirit. This Queen's key words are "I know myself" which is also very much me. I do know myself. I have no illusions about who I am.

So, I present, for your consideration a work in progress called "The Queen of Wands".

Queen of Wands 001
~please click on the image for a better view~

Queen of Wands 003

Queen of Wands 004

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Rizu


Rizu © October 16, 2009 by Elizabeth Faber. The original is approximately 8" x 4" and done in Strathmore Bristol Smooth, hard stock paper, cut out and remounted. This imagine has been digitally enhanced. Rizu means Liz in Japanese.

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Bernadette Rides The Moon


Bernadette Rides The Moon © October 17, 2009 (New Moon in Libra) by Donna L. Faber. All rights reserved. The original is approximately 8" x 8", on Strathmore Bristol Smooth, done with pen & ink and Prismacolor markers. Then, it was cut out and digitally enhanced. This piece was done for a client who has achieved a new plateau of self-empowerment and wishes to commemorate it with a tattoo. She was drawn to the image of a woman riding the moon, but wanted something more personal to put on her shoulder permanently. This image reflects that client's desire (her name is Bernadette or Bernie to her friends), and has similar physical characteristics, as well, right down to the long red nails. She is riding a moon that looks just enough like a biker to be cool, not to mention personally appropriate. Also, while purple is Bernie's favorite color (which is why the moon is purple), I wanted the woman to truly *pop* from the picture. I believe the juxtaposition between heavy purples and flesh tone achieves that.

Here are photos of the piece emerging ...

bernadette emerging 001

bernadette emerging 004

bernadette emerging 004

Categorically, commissioned art can be a creative challenge because it puts a fence around my creative expression when typically I let it run free range. It was my challenge to attain the "essense" of what Bernadette wants to convey with this tattoo, understand where her head is at, and really get a "feel" for her as a woman at this point in her life. I achieved this with a couple of email messages, a few pictures, and one 15 minute phone call. Bernie is a great communicator, so I got a lot out of our conversation.

Those of you who know me, know that I have a personal relationship with the moon, and believe the Goddess resides there. When a woman comes into her own in any way, shape or form, she is, in fact, acknowledging and honoring the goddess within her. This image, the woman on the moon, is a more visual presentation of calling down the moon, acknowledging the goddess, or realizing our power within.

I hope this image is everything Bernie wants it to be.

With Love,
D~

Sunday, October 4, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Don't Tell Me To Stop



Don’t Tell Me To Stop © October 4, 2009 by Donna L. Faber, Full Moon in Aries. This piece is done on Strathmore Bristol Vellum, 100 lb. paper, with Prismacolor markers and Pips. The original is about 10” x 13”. It hasn't been scanned. It's been photographed.

Acknowledging the Muse Within

A woman’s heart is an ocean of secrets. This is something I know from experience. What you see on the outside, the way she looks or moves, the way she expresses herself, her barriers, restrictions or vices, work, hobby or daily routine never adequately represents the treasures hidden away within. Too frequently, we restrict ourselves in the expression our heart’s delight. What’s more, society doesn’t provide for or accept the many ways our hearts wish to express themselves either. Our rules are stringent and unforgiving. Our hands are tied and as a result so are the rest of us.

I rail against this, and hope that the change our world is undergoing, this spiritual shift, will transform this repression. I hope that through a spiritual awakening, all women will embrace who they are and share their gifts with the world without fear or hesitation.

There is something inside of me that resents this restriction intensely, and I know that if I ever let that part of me out of the bag completely, my life would never be the same.

I fall in love frequently. Some times I fall harder than others, but when I do, it’s just as genuine as the very first time it happened to me at 16 years old. Each love I experience seems perfect for the object of my desire; however, it’s not always permissible to express it. Instead, I try to the best of my ability to honor the divinity in everyone and hope that is enough.

Is it?

There is a woman inside of me that refuses to be stifled when it comes to love. She flat out refuses to be repressed. Love in its truest form must be as sensitive and empathic as it is reciprocal. But this lady is a love hammer that refuses to act contrary to her truest nature. Even though I know that love shouldn’t be used as a bludgeon, this archetypic female doesn’t know how to do it any other way.

This is Francine, and she is one of my greatest muses. Not to be confused with inspiration, which is something on the outside that gets my attention, a muse is the internal emotion that prompts me to create. Francine is the part of me that rails against repression, and so consequently, she is the dynamic force behind so much of my art and writing. She beats the inside of my psyche with her clenched fists, she runs rampant in my dreams, whispers in my ears, and reigns over my day dreams at work, home and on the bus. In the car with my family, if I drift away unhearing, Leslie asks, “Hello? Are you there?” It is Francine pulling me away from the here and now as she rattles the bars to the cage I’ve put her in and has me swooning in the arms of my latest obsession.

So, this piece is done to acknowledge my inner love hammer, Francine … that’s why I call it “Don’t Tell Me To Stop”.

Because she never will.

Friday, October 2, 2009

EMERGING ART: Don't Tell Me To Stop

Don’t Tell Me To Stop © October 2, 2009 By Donna L. Faber
Full Moon in Aries (almost)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Everyone has the right to be happy ...


Everyone has the right to be happy …
© September 29, 2009 by Elizabeth Faber

Sunday, September 27, 2009

EMERGING ART: This is what's up next ...

... let's see where it takes us.
Emerging Art
And a close up of detail...
Emerging Art: Untitled
Untitled © September 28, 2009 by Donna L. Faber. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: The Queen of Pentacles



Click on the picture to get a closer look.

The Queen of Pentacles © September 22, 2009 (Fall Equinox) by Donna L. Faber, is the first in a tarot card series (that I may or may not finish). It is done on Strathmore Bristol 300 Series Vellum with Staedler pigment liner pens, Prismacolor premiere markers, and good old fashioned Crayola Pip-Squeaks. She’s been cut out, assembled from three separate pieces, and will be mounted for framing.

This was a very inspired piece that came quickly and precisely through my pen, as though she was eager to emerge, as though she had something to prove. Perhaps she does.

The Queen of Pentacles is one of four minor arcana queens in a typical 72 card tarot desk used for divination. Each of the Queens has certain characteristics indicative of the suit they’re in. They can be, and often are, symbolic of a specific person when they appear in a reading. I’ve gotten in the habit of providing a narrative for new works of art, as each come from a personal place of intense inspiration. I’ll do the same for this piece. You’ll note that in ways this narrative may differ from the standard Queen of Pentacles description.

Who is the Queen of Pentacles?
The Queen of Pentacles is a mature woman who is pragmatic and appreciates the value of hard work. She may not be the Queen of a kingdom, but she is certainly the Queen of her family. She demonstrates a practical awareness that empowers her and others; shares her gifts abundantly, but uses discernment and savvy in their distribution. She has a keen, logical mind, goes about her work quietly, but in the stillness of her thoughts can solve the most confusing dilemmas. She always seeks a solution. Her meditation is found in the garden with her hands in the dirt surrounded by blooming flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, and busy bees. These sacred messengers are all part of nature’s bounty, synonymous with her bounty, all of which she is in tune with quite naturally. She also embodies the attributes of earth, and like earth, cannot and will not be moved unless she wills it. The Queen of Pentacles expresses her love through hard work and provision, and wants to share everything she has with her children, whom she loves very much. She has an appreciation for the finer things in life, but it is because she’s earned them, not because they were handed to her. She has purposefully instilled that value in her daughters.

Her smile is genuine, and when she willingly and genuinely bestows it upon you, or throws her head back in laughter, she is radiant. Like the light of a hundred suns, the Queen’s beauty emanates from deep within. This renders her quite breathtaking, although she is not what is typically considered beautiful. Beneath the softness and pliancy of mature skin are muscles and bones made of steel, hard and durable, forged from years of hard work, good food, and physical fitness. This strength and endurance serve her well now. As the world changes and economic times are increasingly tenuous, she knows she can count on her physical strength to carry her through. This is her quiet pride. She is not vain, but she is proud.

The Evolved Queen of Pentacles
The Queen of Pentacles has experienced dark nights of the spirit. She has stared the Dark Mother in the eyes; at times in terror, and in other times, acceptance. Her eyes, in fact, have seen great sorrow, but still retain their luster. Her personal pain is reformed but not forgotten, symbolized by a single dark tear on her cheek. She no longer punishes herself for short comings, and what was once anxiety no longer holds sway over the health of her emotional body. A radiating spiral on the other cheek acknowledges the magic inherent within her, the natural force she was once uncomfortable with, but now embraces. In the wisdom of maturity, this Queen forgave herself the sins heaped upon her (by herself and others) in order to claim her worthiness and happiness. She did not stop to ask anyone’s permission but her own.

This queen acknowledges and accepts all aspects of herself (although some aspects remain very private), leading to increasing realization of the multi-faceted Goddess within.

********************

She is your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister or friend.

Perhaps she is simply a special acquaintance.

In her practical, well groomed and well tailored way, she is a force to be reckoned with.

She is also a very inspired piece of art.

She is the Queen of Pentacles.

The muse dances and I must create.

Lei ha ispirato questo pezzo. Sono molto lieto che abbiamo incontrato. La ringrazio per la continua a ispirare me in tanti modi.

So much love,
D~

Saturday, September 19, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Kali Ma



Click on the image to get a closer look.

Kali Ma © September 19, 2009 by Donna L. Faber (all rights reserved) is part of my series on divinity. It is done on Strathmore Bristol 300 Series Vellum with Staedler pigment liner pens, Prismacolor premiere markers, and good old fashioned Crayola Pip-Squeaks borrowed from my daughter. She’s been cut out and will be mounted on a colorful background and then framed.

This piece has been waiting to emerge since before we moved out of our rental.

Kali, also known as Kalika, is a Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. Despite Her fierce appearance and the symbolic imagery provoked by the items She holds and surrounds Herself with (each of which has a specific meaning), Kali is considered a benevolent Mother Goddess whose greatest wish is to see her children freed from their delusions (the way we lie to ourselves). The manners in which She frees us be may the cause of some debate, as Her methods are often intense and shocking; it is Kali Ma’s blood red-rimmed eyes we see piercing the all-consuming blackness of our darkest hours. She can be perceived as terrifying or loving, which depends on our understanding of Her role in our lives. When we experience spiritual or emotional blockage and Durga, Saraswati, Shiva and Lord Krishna turn their backs on us, it is Kali who steps up to plate. In Her inimitable way, She blasts the blockage right out of our systems.

And yes, sometimes it is quite uncomfortable.

Remember, the Goddess takes many forms so that Her children may find one they can relate to.

The last few months have been crazy for my family and I. We’ve dealt with various bits of economic and real estate uncertainty, including merger related weirdness at work that had me spinning more than I thought. I finally feel like I’m settling down, feeling at home in the new place, and less threatened at work. Doing this piece was like a meditation to me, helping me get centered to better understand my priorities and where my focus should be. Kali Ma helped clear my emotional clutter.

È lo scopo del Kali nella nostra vita.

Don’t let Kali Ma scare you.

I hope you enjoy this piece.

Love,
D~

Monday, September 14, 2009

EMERGING ART: Kali Ma Almost Done!

It's almost done.

I'm going to let this sit overnight and look at it with new eyes in the morning. Then, after details, she gets cut out and mounted on a different color, textured paper. This piece has been inspired. I've felt most driven to get it done ... quickly. And when working on it, my mind is quiet, serene, and very focussed.
Kali Ma ~ Almost Done!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

EMERGING ART: Kali Ma Meditation

Kali's skin will eventually be blue, but I don't have the right colors here. It'll have to wait until tomorrow when I can get to the art store for some markers. I laughed realizing she looks like a witch doctor right now, but her hair will be very long and sticking out everywhere, not just on top. I've really enjoyed posting this in phases. I've never done this before, and it's been really fun.
More Kali Ma
Close up

EMERGING ART: A Little More Kali Ma

This piece has been like a meditation, keeping me in the now. When all the crazy pluto energy beckons me to the stratosphere, Kali Ma has me anchored firmly to the planet, in the hear and now, focused on family, home & hearth, and my art.

See an earlier iteration in the post below.
More Kali

Saturday, September 12, 2009

EMERGING ART: Kali Ma

I've had a portrait of Kali Ma trying to push it's way out of me since before we moved in the beginning of August. This weekend, swirling amidst all this crazy Pluto energy, She won't be denied. Here is a sneak piece ...
Emerging Art: Kali Detail
Emerging Art: Kali

Saturday, August 29, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Angels Tears in Color


Here is the colorized version of Elizabeth's "Angel Tears", which is black and white in the previous posting here.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Angel Tears


This is the latest piece of art by Liz, rendered in pencil on 70 pound drawing paper, on August 25, 2009.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Fabers Move Full Circle


Moving homes is a monumental test in relationship and family strength, endurance and flexibility. If your family is challenged in any of these areas, moving your residence will blow the lid off it, without a doubt. It doesn’t matter if you move across country, or across the county, it’s trying. We’ve done both. You would think the move across country would be harder. It sure is longer. In Connecticut, I packed everything (took 5 days to pack 3,000 square feet), a bunch of guys came and put it on a truck, and we paid someone to clean the house before we left. Then, we got on a plane, and we were off. Moving over the hill, from Belmont to Pacifica, was harder. We were left to clean the house we vacated, after packing and working full time had already had me tired and sore. We made several trips back and forth with the dogs in tow, in the heat, taking care of loose ends. Do I sound like I’m complaining? I don’t mean to. We’re on the back end of the process now, and things are looking much easier.

Our hunt for an owned residence began in February. We knew it would take some time as the market was and continues to be very soft. The first thing we did was get hung up on a townhouse on Galway in South San Francisco that was controlled by a slimy, icky real estate guy who wouldn’t give us the straight story on anything. Once we realized we were being manipulated, we moved on.

Leslie cast her net for the perfect agent.

If you’ve read any of my moving blogs over the last several years (and yes, there have been a few, as we’ve sold two houses and moved three times since 2006), you might be familiar with Leslie’s good real estate karma. She has a knack for finding the perfect agent at the perfect time. It worked when we sold our house on Vista Grande in 2000, our house on Sunnyside in 2006, and then we found Stacy leaving Connecticut. This time around, Leslie connected with an agent who had a treasure trove of experience and limitless patience. We would need the experience and patience. Elfie’s delightfully dry sense of humor, unflinching honesty and integrity were a bonus. Leslie’s karma worked this time, as well.

Leslie and Elfie worked hand in hand exploring many properties. Granted, we had our issues such as two dogs which meant a yard, and a need for storage, which meant a garage. Concurrently, we had our desires. We knew what we wanted.

We didn’t want to be strapped with an enormous mortgage. This put us into a specific cost category. First, we diddled around with short sales and foreclosures, which aren’t the big too-doo you might think they are. You can place an offer as many times as you want, but the banks take months to respond. If your move is on a timeline, you’re out of luck. We began with single family homes in San Bruno. The homes Leslie and Elfie looked at had surprises like trailers, literally, added on the back and poultry in the back yard, or unwarranted additions tucked into what looked like a single car garage. Very strange stuff. “I hope you like to get up early,” Elfie chuckled, eyeing a rooster. There wasn’t a house she and Leslie couldn’t get into, even if it meant stacking trash cans and scaling a fence (which she did, once). Yet, it felt like we were traveling with the same pack of investors who pushed us out of the ball game every single time. There was no winning. We placed three separate offers, and got shot down each time.

Next, we moved on to townhouses. We went back to Galway, interested in a different condo, but that didn’t work out. Then, it was about the little hobbit hovels in the hills of South City that were so entrenched in fog, there was green moss growing all over the roofing. It was so drippy up there, we thought it was raining.

Elfie was very intuitive, letting us lead when we needed to, giving us advice when it was appropriate, and listening to me whine when the pressure increased. She never pushed our will on us. She is a true gem, and I've come to adore her. Yet, like my job search in Connecticut over two years ago, what we thought we wanted was adjusted quite effectively by the housing market and plain old economics as our search progressed.

The race was on! Would we find a place before our lease was up in the crappy little rental we lived in? Unexpectedly, the interest rate began to rise, and our spending limit decreased, pushing us out of our housing category. After panicking a bit, Leslie kicked it into the next gear. Opening up a can of whoop-ass (which she is prone to doing in times of stress), and in a moment of inspired genius, Leslie found an internet loan provider that offered a better rate, and a higher spending limit, putting us back in the game. What a relief!

But still, we hadn’t found the right property.

What’s very strange about our real estate adventures is the way Leslie some how scopes out, in advance, the places where we’ll land. Like, the first place we look at is ironically the place we end up. It happened in Connecticut, in South City years ago, and in this instance, it happened in Pacifica. Leslie had always had her eye on the townhouses back in the valley. They weren’t exactly in the fog belt, got plenty of sun, but still benefited from the natural air conditioning living near the ocean. Also, it was very close to the pacific coast, so had a lovely beachside community feel. Leslie knew about these places back in the early 80’s when she drove for SamTrans. Her old friends Lee and Babe had a place there.

I never thought we would live there in a million years.

One Saturday morning, with Elfie in tow, and after looking at one incredibly depressing hobbit hovel, we found ourselves a townhouse put on the market by a private, motivated seller. Bingo! We visited the place in Pacifica just as the current occupants were leaving, and managed to get a walk through simply because we were there. This felt right, even more so because Elizabeth received a phone call from her bosom friend in Connecticut, while we were there.

A good sign.

Lo and behold, we placed an offer and it was accepted!

Now, for financing.

The good thing about internet lenders is that they aren’t bogged down by banking rules and corporate drivel and so can offer better rates insofar as they are able. The bad thing is that it’s like doing big business in a supermarket. You’re talking about financing one of the most important decisions of your life, and you’re dealing with a bunch of young adults in an office, who are working out of an anonymous file. No one seems to be truly close to your loan. Elfie and I spent three weeks straight, hand in hand, following, urging, and coaxing that loan through escrow. I forwarded the same paperwork two and three times because no one got it. We followed up three and four times a week, nicely, to make sure nothing had been forgotten. We ran into an insurance snafu because the title was filed incorrectly, and bent over backwards to make sure the loan papers were sent to the title company. When all was said and done, we encouraged it along successfully to the end, proving that two heads are better than one, and that two people can work together harmoniously even when the pressure is on.

Signing took only thirty minutes.

A day later, the place was ours.

I have to believe that moving day is the absolute longest and hardest day of the year, and a true test of relationships. Jeeze, what a job. And ours wasn't without it's moments.

I think the funniest moment was when we had the dogs in the van with the air conditioning on (key in the ignition) because there was so much going on in the house, and the little dog locked everything up with her paw. There was, of course, no other key in sight. So, Elizabeth and Leslie spent 20 minutes with a piece of cheese trying to get Daizy to step on the lock again. She did finally roll the automatic window down so Elizabeth could get her arm in. We didn't have to call Triple A that time. The most difficult moment was when the movers tried to charge us for the extra guy they brought. We thought he was a trainee or something. That was a tense moment that Leslie took strongly in hand and turned out in our favor.

Everything we had fit into a 30 foot with the exception of our lawn furniture and our plants. The truck had to leave, and it would've cost more than $500 of time and half to make another trip. What would we do?

We called in the calvary.

In a wonderful gesture of friendship, Anita and Will, our neighbors from Sunnyside Drive, came to the rescue with Will's pick up truck. They did this despite Anita being on the tail end of radiation therapy for breast cancer (her last treatment is this Monday!). Before we even made it to the house in Belmont, Will had the pick up loaded with our stuff. We've known them for eight years, but it feels like we've crossed the threshold from neighbors to true friends.

It wouldn’t be moving without the hard work and the lessons. Yet, the hidden gems you find in a process this intense are my favorite parts. Leslie and I have had some tense moments, highlighted by revelations about one another, how we act under stress at this particular point, what we expect and need from one another, and what it takes to get back to a peaceful place. Our next project will be putting the house together, of course, but more importantly, getting in tune with our physical health. Now that our transition is over, Leslie and I feel more able to focus on this important thing.

Elizabeth is (re)decorating her room, which is twice the size of the other, and digs the television she’s got now in there now. With generous help from who will remain an anonymous benefactor (big hugs there), she is redecorating her room so it better reflects her more mature self. She starts school in a few short weeks.

The dogs have adjusted nicely and are very happy about the giant sliding doors off the living room.

I’ve got a rekindled interested in real estate, as well, which was unexpected but is very exciting. I find myself longing for trusted partnership, rather than corporate uncertainty. I also find myself with a growing affection for Elfie, who I hope doesn't become a stranger, and who I'd like to call a friend.

The friendship we discovered with Anita and Will was heartwarming, as well. It isn't easy for us to ask for or accept help, so this was very significant.

We moved from South San Francisco to Connecticut in 2006, and here we are in our new place three years later almost to the day.

We’ve come full circle, and we plan to stay here for a while.

Not forever ... but definitely for a while.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

That which is unnoticed has the most power ...


The transparent butterfly comes from Central America and is found from Mexico to Panama. It is quite common in its zone, but it not easy to find because of its transparent wings, which is a natural camouflage mechanism.

Transparent Butterfly

A butterfly with transparent wings is rare and beautiful. As delicate as finely blown glass, the presence of this rare tropical gem is used by rain forest ecologists as an indication of high habitat quality and its demise alerts them of ecological change. Rivaling the refined beauty of a stained glass window, the translucent wings of the Glass wing butterfly shimmer in the sunlight like polished panes of turquoise, orange, green, and red.

Transparent Butterfly

All things beautiful do not have to be full of color to be noticed: in life, that which is unnoticed has the most power.
The author of this piece is unknown.
***********
A special thanks to my friend, Anita, for sending me email chain ... I bet symbolically this butterfly is chock full of special meaning! Photographs are by Jose Reynaldo da Fonseca. They've been traveling about the internet for some time now, so I don't feel too bad about publishing them here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

10 BLOCK RADIUS

Good day, bloggers!

I doubt I have to go into how much I love San Francisco ... if you know me, you know I really do! For the last few weeks I've managed to take a walk almost each day around 2 or 3 p.m. I have to share some of the photographs I've taken along the way. All of these little discoveries were found within a 10 block radius of where I work, and they truly tell a story ... Some sad, some interesting, some beautiful, some strange. I thought you might like it.

San Francisco Water Feature

An interesting water feature between Market and Mission Streets.

Abandoned Fiddle Case on market Street

An abandoned violin or fiddle case on Market Street.

Willy & Sassy on Market Street

Homeless pets on Market Street ... this is Willy and Sassy.

Wiggly Building Sculpture

Wiggly buildling sculptures near Front Street by the Embarcaderos.

Driftwood Horses

Driftwood horse sculpture on Market Street where I get my iced latte most days. Isn't that something? You should see it up close. And there's one more, too ...

Driftwood Horses


I didn't stop to see who the artist was, although there are a number of American artists who make horses out of driftwood. I can only imagine what kind of time and effort this takes. You'd have to see into the shape of every piece ... just spectacular!

Until we blog again ... Love,

D~

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Transformational Velocity

You must attend a Homa to truly appreciate one. Without knowledge of Vedic scripture or Hindu ritual, an intuitive person will simply know they are in the presence of a significant event. The preparation is extensive, the vibe is exquisite, and its lasting effects are unpredictably potent on all levels. This was the most intense and final day of my visit with Sri Karunamayi in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it has inspired an unusual stream of consciousness, even for me.

There is something in the air that speaks of transformational velocity, as well, a phrase I picked up from Robert Phoenix Astrology. Our existence is pregnant with transformation and the rate of change grows faster exponentially; however, for me, it was the Homa that put the big spin on it.

The Significance of Homas

A homa is a sacred fire ceremony in which various forms of the Divine are invoked in a sacred fire that has been kindled according to the guidelines in the Vedic scriptures. Certain special offerings are made into the fire while Sanskrit mantras are chanted. The combination of the powerful energy of the fire and the Sanskrit mantras creates extremely auspicious and purifying vibrations that are beneficial to all who attend the homa. The smoke that rises from a homa contains a powerful healing energy, and as it rises to the heavens it purifies the atmosphere, both physically and subtly, encouraging a peaceful environment and gentle weather. Even the damaging effects of natural catastrophes can be reduced through the performance of homas. The energetic vibrations that are invoked during a traditional Vedic fire ceremony represent the most powerful presence of the Divine on Earth. The element of fire is associated with the upward motion of the divine kundalini energy and is considered to be the most powerfully purifying element. Every kind of negative karma can be purified by the sacred homa fire, due to divine grace. Source

The Fire Goddess, Agni, is in the Homa fire. We feel Her more than see Her when She is coaxed from the flame with ritual offerings, but seeing Her is quite possible, as well. In early Hindu religion, Agni is a God, a male deity, whose extreme importance comes from the role of fire in sacrifices and rituals. He is the fire that consumes the offerings to the gods, and therefore he is the mediator between heaven and earth. In the Tibetan faith, Agni is a female goddess, a manifestation of the Goddess Tara, a form of the Great Mother, and universal shakti, who embodies the transformative element of fire in all its forms. When we feed Agni our desires, She transforms us. If our heart is open, this manifestation of the Divine Mother will work on our very cells, our karma, that which is written in our bones, to burn away karmic layer after layer.

When I look into the Homa fire, I see a dancing female figure, whose limbs and hair are alight with the creative fire of transmutation. In this photo of Amma’s Homa fire from her recent visit to Memphis, Tennesee, I actually see Agni, dancing there. Look at it closely. Wait. See.

Homa Fire, Memphis Tennessee


As I mentioned in a previous post on Amma’s visit, there is one devotee whose transformation is astounding. The last time I saw her, and I won’t mention names to protect privacy, she seemed frightened, terrified even, as she pushed and shoved her way to get as close to Mother as possible. I’ve seen her crying in corners during programs, her anguish a rupture of spirit that moved me. I’ve seen this in others, too. Her pain was just like my own. This devotee made a trip to India recently to be with Amma, and I’m wagering the trip changed her.

But how?

While I know so much of Amma’s transmutation abilities are unfathomable to us, I also believe it’s about worthiness. It was for me to a degree, and I see a reflection of my own transformation is this devotee’s eyes. When the Living Goddess takes an interest in us, our self-worth is lit with a tiny flame of recognition which gradually blossoms into a full bonfire, giving us courage to attempt more in our lives. We must take the first step toward the catalyst we should embrace to gain release, but it is Her love, Her faith in us as individuals, that gives us the courage to do so. Suddenly, as reflected back in Her eyes, we become worthy. Then, on an accelerated basis and because we’ve opened the door to our hearts, so much more karmic baggage is lifted from us. This is my limited understanding.

If this isn’t transformation velocity, I don’t know what is.

During the Homa, I experienced a moment of grief as karmic cables were snapped with finality. I had a spiritual sister once, when I was young and unawakened, and during this Homa, I wished she were there with me. The longing was poignant and unexpected because I’ve been so upset with her for so long. Objectively, I found this surprising but my feelings were more of the accelerated emotional acceptance I wrote about previously. I watch this individual’s transformation from the sidelines (via the internet because I still can’t tear myself away), and I am filled with warmth for her happiness and creativity. I missed her desperately at that moment in response to the cut ties, and then felt grieving set in followed finally by acceptance, all very quickly.

Transformational velocity.

I found myself yet again pondering the connectivity in all things, the mundane and esoteric, and that which keeps us all intrinsically linked and what it is that can finally break those ties once and for all. The phrase “as above, so below” took on greater meaning. I believe there are numerous explanations for any given thing. Just like there are numerous aspects of Devi, so that we may find one that suits us best. Indeed, there are universal truths, as well, but I believe when dealing with the subjectivity of the human experience, those universal truths are interpreted in a myriad of ways. Intent matters always.

My mind wanders further, and I find myself engaged in a conversation with my DragonGuide, Gregor. Learn more about Gregor and dragon symbolism here.

I wonder if suffering is part of the job for Amma? I know it is for Ammachi. I mean, She sits for up to 24 hours at a time, and bears a perpetual bruise on her face for all the hugging she does. Then, I worry. If Jesus gave his life on the cross to absolve us of our sins, then why are Amma and Ammachi here? Which one will be the sacrifice for us this time?

“You worry about things you can do nothing about,” Gregor rumbles in his deep, baritone voice.

I am in the car again driving down Highway 280, and Gregor is spinning pinwheels in the fog that lay gracefully over mountains to the left of us. I am reflecting, and he responds telepathically, which has become second nature to me. He rather enjoyed last weekend’s blistering heat, as much as I despised it, but is infinitely more fond of cloud cover and the way his gigantic, beating wings leave patterns behind him as he spins.

Amma is an incarnation of Saraswati, who has a special affinity for rivers and water. Then, at work recently, I was involved in doing an Earth Day mini-expo, and researched the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific. I mean, have you looked at that? If Amma is in rapport with the Earth, and she states Mother Earth is screaming with her burden, then what does it do to Her? Is part of Her reason for being here to bear the burden of our stupidity? Oh goodness, I don’t know if I can stand that.

“Mmmmm,” Gregor begins, “Ssssssshe knowsssss what Ssssshe is doing. The Great Mother would think it sssssilly that you dwell on this, child.”

He is right, of course, and he goes on.

“Yet Sssssshe asssssks you to throw up your hands to laugh out loud for nothing, and then laughssss outloud Herself. Mother tellsss you the ssssame stories again and again in the event even only one of you needsss to hear it just so to be inspired.”

Indeed. She will nod at me and shake her head, “yes, you are good” and “no, I will not leave you” as I approach her for individual blessings time after time. She is there for us one-on-one and globally. She is one aspect of many on earth, both hidden and visible, at this unique and accelerated time in our spiritual history.

Gregor is finished entertaining this stream of consciousness and retreats into the mountains, into the back of my head. My grandfather. My dragon.

I miss him immediately.

My visit with Amma and the Homa wrapped up with yet more animal symbolism, taking me back again to the card reading my friend Avia did for me. Squirrels followed me everywhere, reminding me to dig up those nuts I’ve put away for safe keeping. Then, I was poking around the book store and found a beautiful picture of Amma with a squirrel. As I was purchasing two (one for Avia, and one for myself), one of the guys behind the counter said, “Hey, you caught that, too, hm? I saw a black squirrel just over there,” he declared pointing outwardly.

There was also one curious duck, a water bird, which simply couldn’t stay away from the Homa fire, which I thought was interesting given the polarities involved. She was a mallard, and kept circling the fire to land on the roof top just above Amma, where she bobbed and weaved, peaking at the activity. I received interesting messages from that little girl, there. There were many, many bees about. Those sacred messengers took Amma’s message far and wide in their unstoppable way, some with wings that are physically too small to carry their body’s weight … yet they do. There was one very determined crow, as well, the symbolism for which followed me from home, where one very serious black, feathered messenger perched itself on the front fence to holler at me with determination. Maybe it was a raven. So many birds. Animal symbolism is the common thread in our lives if we pay attention, but animal symbolism in the presence of the Divine Mother takes on even greater significant assuredly.

Back to the now …

Yesterday, we were in Daly City still looking at houses in a very frustrating real estate market. Our real estate agent is exactly who we need at precisely this moment in time. She and my Leslie share a wonderful rapport, which makes sense given it was Leslie’s fathomless and innate real estate magic that drew her to us. The woman works from a large heart obviously, is very loyal to her clients, and has no intention of leaving us even though she’s investing huge amounts of time for what will be a minimal pay off. The Mercury Retrograde is making this a long process the chief ingredient of which is patience, clearly something Leslie and I are still working on in this life. Yet it doesn’t seem to bother this stalwart and long experienced woman. She is a strong, enduring Austrian, who hikes with 40 pounds of brick on her back to prepare for mountain climbing season. Her cell phone ring is a yodel. No lie. She’s made of stronger stuff than impatience.

I’m feeling that ping, as well, which tells me I’ve met this person before, in a life before this one, which hasn’t happened in some time.

As we were driving through Daly city, there beside the road and in the middle of a hill, was one very tall Great Blue Heron. It was completely out of place, and there was no body of water in the vicinity. I took a deep breath, feeling reassured, as the Great Blue Heron is a long standing and very familiar animal marker that even Leslie recognizes. It never, ever appears out of coincidence.

I mentioned seeing the bird to our mountain climbing, Austrian real estate agent, and she looked at me like I was bonkers.

Clearly not the superstitious type.

I’ll keep myself reigned in.

Ah well.

Transformational Velocity.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Dolly Momma Rides the Peace Train



"PEACE TRAIN" DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER CICCONE
WRITTEN BY CAT STEVENS AKA YUSAF ISLAM LYRICS

LYRICS
Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Something good's bound to come

For out on the edge of darkness
There runs the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train
Peace train's a holy roller
Everyone jump upon the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
This is the peace train

Get your bags together
Come bring your good friends too
Because it's getting nearer
Soon it will be with you
Come and join the living
It's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer
Soon it will all be true

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

I've been crying lately
Thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating?
Why can't we live in bliss?

For out on the edge of darkness
There rides the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

Come on, come on, come on the peace train...

Friday, May 15, 2009

DRAGON SYMBOLISM


My friend, Avia Venifica, of What's Your Sign and Tarot Teachings has posted a wonderful blog on dragon symbolism. She's also used my beloved Gregor as her graphic! I'm so thrilled.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Another Day in Paradise


Originally posted in Multiply on April 11, 2007 … revisiting Connecticut and Convalescent Home Memories. I guess I'm thinking about my grandmother for some reason.

We went to visit my grandmother yesterday at the Regency House in Wallingford. She’s been sick lately, an infection, so we were hoping she would be awake. It’s always scary for Elizabeth to see her great grandmother when Thelma isn’t well because her illness makes her more explicative than usual. Senility. Dementia. There are a couple words for it. Bottom line, she tends to loose touch with reality. Thelma yells for her mother (who is long gone), acts overly cautious about everything – loudly – and says her A B C’s a lot, a long standing habit that is a very much like a chant. Imagine this, “A B C D -- Hurry UP!” Once, she called out to her sister, Phyllis (also dead), and then looked up from her trance bewildered, and said, “I just said Phyllis,” as if she were bewildered by her own self. To Elizabeth, this strange behavior is frightening, and concerning, and means that her great grandmother is either really tired or getting sick. When Thelma is well, she and Elizabeth have somewhat of a relationship. They say hello, good-bye, Thelma asks about school, and when Elizabeth ventures closer to Thelma’s bed, Thelma watches her as closely as she can, despite being almost blind. Thelma rarely can remember the name, “Elizabeth”, and has referred to her as Betsy, Brigitte, or most common, “the girl”. Their blood connection is an amazing thing, reaching out over four generations between my daughter and my grandmother.

We walked through the front door of the Regency House and many of the patients were in the front room soaking up the warm sun through large windows. The room was toasty. There were octogenarians in wheel chairs, old Doris in the corner mumbling to herself (and who announced she would be following us around – she didn’t), Irish Peg, who has teeth that are brown and scary and much too big for her head and a rather disconcerting smile, and spouses that are there faithfully and regularly. Coco was there, all scrunched up crooked in her wheelchair, long hair and a face full of make up. We went by the nurse’s station and just as we were approaching Thelma’s room we heard a loud, barking, very German like command. It was Helga in a rowdy mood. Helga is a very nice German woman, who has a thick accent, and spends a lot of her time in her wheelchair sort of scooting around the A Wing. Once day she scooted into Thelma’s room when we were all watching television, and we got into a conversation about how she came to America by herself and stayed with her brother, whose wife was good to her. Today she seemed wound up tighter than spring, barking every once in a while as though she couldn’t hold it in. Leslie and I strolled by, “Hi, Helga, how are you?” And she yelled back, “HELLO!” and took my arm. I patted her hand, and she told me she liked me. “Thanks, Helga, I like you, too.” There is a patient there who was a weaver and her husband of over 60 years visits her almost every day. As we passed on by, this husband was in the hallway waving his hands over Helga’s head, grinning like a fool, getting a rise out of her, as the pool nurse dispensing pills said “Don’t egg her on,” disapprovingly. Helga kept grinding her teeth and wagging her finger at the man, which only proved to amuse him. Is this a rest home or grammar school, I wondered. The parallels are amazing.

Thelma’s door was closed – time for an “oil change” – so we hung out in the hallway. Before a moment passed, Suzie, another patient who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and is always in her chair, starting moaning loudly and reaching out for us. Suzie likes us, too. But, I mean, she can really get loud, and the whole hand outreaching thing is a lot like Frankenstein.

All this commotion was going on in a little hallway, and there we were in the middle of it. I can’t remember the last time we were there and everybody was so awake! I looked over at Elizabeth, who had her face crammed as deeply as she could into her video game, and I held my arms out. She came to me, put her head on my chest (she’s getting taller), and took a deep breath. The whole thing can be so taxing on a child. But she hangs in there.

What a trooper.

It’s just another day in paradise.

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Edward Cullen



Fully colorized portrait of Edward Cullen on medium weight drawing paper, completed and signed on May 1, 2009.

(c) May 1, 2009, by Elizabeth Faber ... All rights reserved.
And here is the black and white line drawing, before it was colored in.

Chibi Edward

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Chibi Liz, A Self-Portrait


This one is just too cute. My daughter did a chibi version of herself most recently as a self-portrait, and I can't resist sharing it. She's got her "Twilight" jacket on, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Amma 2009: Part 2


Inspiration

Friday evening, finished with work, I walked down Market Street with my bag and laptop slung over a shoulder. I was headed towards the Embarcadero BART Station. My theme song music of late is Alanis Morissette singing the James Michael Mix of “Crazy” by Seal. It’s on the soundtrack from “The Devil Wears Prada”, and it was blaring in my ears from an iPod. I walked briskly as the usual scenery of people flew on by, a colorful dichotomy that reeks suspiciously of the growing class divide in America. The homeless woman begging for change in front of the escalator, the one I’ve watched deteriorate over the last ten years is a testament to that; however, the child who’s been selling candy for two weeks is new. It’s easier to see this in the city, if you haven’t desensitized yourself to it.

It was a long week.

I pulled off an Earth Day Mini-Expo on Wednesday, fed 50 people pizza, chased around ridiculously busy principals asking for Admin Day donations for three days in a row, and had more than my usual share of intense one-on-one conversations with staff. Work is getting stressful, and people act differently under stress. Leslie and I also struggled with the offer we made on a townhouse, and the real estate agent we were working with who got greasier by the minute.

I was very tired.

As I walked, the strangest thing happened.

One moment I felt bogged down by the weight of the week, and then suddenly, I felt buoyant, as if a ray of sunlight straight from heaven shined down on me. I am so happy to be back in San Francisco, and I appreciate every moment of it. My job is great, and I am successful with it. My family is happy, and we are looking for a new home. It felt like anything was possible. It felt like absolute liberation from the weight of the world.

And then, I felt tired.

And again, I felt buoyant.

It went back and forth like this a number of times as I walked to my background music.

It started the night of Amma’s public program.

I was so happy to see Her, and consequently very focused on She and the personal issues I brought with me to think upon; my health, my creativity, and my spirituality. Leslie and Elizabeth were there, as well, getting their dose of divine love.

Amma opened her night time public program with a very intense Ganesha mantra. We hailed Ganesha as the remover of obstacles, and appealed to him asking for the removal of barriers to our efforts. Talk about personally appropriate. Amma hit it hard with Sanskrit acid rock that I felt from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. As Amma chanted, accompanied by Brett on his tom tom, the beat resonated heavily through my chest like a battering ram. I happened to be sitting right underneath an enormous speaker, as well.

Eyes closed in meditation, I began to unwind.

Ah.

My mind wandered back to the two years we spent in Connecticut. They were emotionally demanding, quite difficult really, and something I’ve only just come to terms with emotionally. Intellectually I was all over it, but emotionally? I’m very good in a crisis, but slow to absorb the fall out.

I felt a slow acceptance of the recent past made more expedient.

The lessons and the loss caused a crust of emotional protection, sister to grieving, which begin to soften and then dissipate, as well. This layer was followed by spiritual defenses requiring demolition. Those subtle barriers went up without my conscious knowledge and are consequently much harder to identify, never mind disassemble. Over time and with considerable work, I’ve gotten a handle on my emotional defenses, but the spiritual barricading surprises me.

My emotional and spiritual bodies are intrinsically linked as they are in everyone.

The evening went on, and I listened to Amma’s discourse. With it, she addressed the concerns lurking in my conscious and subconscious mind. The words meant for me hit the arrow right on the mark. There was no mistaking it.

I thought about my spirituality building up to this visit. How could I avoid it after spending time with other devotees whose commitment was enduring and unquestionable? Am I where I should be, I wondered. I grapple with the demands of my home life and spiritual progress I thought I should be making. I know my family is my priority, but I worry that I don’t meditate enough, and when will I ever give up meat? What does this commitment to my family mean to the rest of me?

Amma’s answer, given to the entire crowd, was succinct.

“Amma is here to inspire you,” she said. “You are already very spiritual. When it’s time, it will fully blossom.”

I took a deep breath as She stated by the time we are fifty we should be better focused on our spirituality, as well.

Amma does this in a most mysterious way. She doesn’t answer general questions in a formalized forum. As her visit approached, I spent time worrying about a certain topic, and in her public program, She addressed my concern practically to a “T”. I bet if you asked others in the audience, they would be astounded by the same thing. How does she do it? One might say She is the goddess, revered as Saraswati. At the very least, She is a holy person fully realized in Her divinity. If the goddess is within all of us, the only difference would be one’s ability to realize it through and through. I imagine there are universal laws at play, too, right? I feel that somewhere, there are dots waiting to be connected, and I’m convinced the true magic lies in the connection.

I find myself seeking a bridge between the esoteric and mundane, between my faith and what I know in my heart to be true. I realize these are answers I am most apt to discover when I am ready to focus more readily on my spirituality, but still the answer seems just outside my grasp.

And I’ve come full circle.

There are times when I can’t help but wonder.

Amma focused considerably on the energy transference that occurs through food, as well. She encouraged us to eat fresh food only and offered stories that support her view. More than once she asked the group to lift their arms up high and laugh out loud. She called it laughing yoga, and commented that we were all too serious. Being in a group of people that laughed about absolutely nothing worked it’s magic on me, breaking me out of my serious reverie, bringing me that much closer to true childlike surrender.

And it made Her laugh, as well, which was wonderful, so wonderful.

As always, I am inspired to truly understand the changes brought upon me by my spiritual mother. I feel a quiet and subtle internal realignment which spirals outward slowly from the vortex that was our time together, and I am inspired to view my entire self, including the shadow. I feel a gradual acceptance of the recent past, the lessons, the loss; as well as an emotional softening of resultant protection, sister to grieving, that is no longer necessary.

More than anything, I am reassured that I am right where I should be in my journey.

I am right here, right now.

And for now, that is enough.

Notes: The photograph above is copy written by the SMVA Trust and is a photo of Amma recently in Houston. View Part I of this installment here. The next installment, Part 3, is coming soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Spirit

My new found internet friend, Angela Starlight, at Enchanted Starlight Studio in Colorado, posted an art prompt that got me ta thinkin'. The prompt is SPIRIT. I've done so many pieces inspired by divinity and feminity, even celebrity, as I find so much of my inspiration from popculture. But I wonder... what piece speaks to the spirit in me?

In the very early 90's, when I was heavy into drawing female superheros, I started a vignette on a science fiction idea I've had since high school. I never got past three pages, but some of my favorite personal images come from that vignette.

This piece specifically speaks to the spirit in me. It's called "Rapture".

Rapture

This black and white piece was done in india ink on Bristol Strathmore Water Color Paper. It is unsigned and undated. The pentacle is a symbol that holds personal significance for me, and the feminine figure, always reaching upward toward divinity, is resonant of my spirit. The figure on that lady? Well, maybe I looked that way in my teens ... maybe. That was a long, long time ago.

There you go ... SPIRIT.
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