this here giraffe

when i was little, i was at the zoo (probably in chicago) with my grandfather. on the walk from the parking lot to the entrance, he asked what my favorite animal is. i somehow hadn’t thought about it before. on the fly i said the giraffe is my favorite. it has remained so (perhaps because i am so fiercely loyal), although there are many animals that capture my affection. dolphins, cats of all kinds, seals, sea lions, walruses, horses…i could go on. and on. i love all the animals, maybe that’s why i hadn’ t chosen a favorite before that moment. i didn’t know i needed to.

i bought a set of medicine cards a year or so ago. in it are a few blanks where you can name an animal of your  choice. of course i chose giraffe for one of them.

as it turns out, giraffes symbolize grace. one source says it is divine in origin and represents the indispensable  gift for development, improvement, and expansion of one’s character. the ability to rise above the negative events of time.

did my little 4-year old self intuit this? the giraffe just suits me. perfectly.

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change is the most fascinating of all phenomena

did a late summer cleaning.

always start with the surface. sweeping all the dust out from under my bed reminds me how dirty the air is living so close to the BQE. although, all 7 apartments where i’ve lived in NYC have gotten really dirty really quickly. the air here is dirty.

i came across an “autobiography” that i wrote in my Life Stories class senior year at Elon. my immediate reaction was, not much has changed. how could that be? so much has changed. my voice has definitely changed drastically for starters. my friends have changed, my circle has changed. in some ways nothing has changed at all. how can that be?

the most gradual change rests in the deepest depths. the karmic lessons. maybe that’s why the only lasting change must come from within. in some ways i feel like i’m still inside of the cocoon. no matter how deep i go, there’s always another layer to peel. i feel love, joy, and gratitude for the friends who have been/are present on the journey.

from a writing prompt, what i want:

what i want…i want to be happy.

i want a job i love.

i want enthusiasm and energy.

i want to never lose my mind.

i want a perfect boy.

i want to give,

to contribute,

somehow make a difference.

i want my dreams to never end.

i want to be tan

and i want to be healthy.

i want to conquer.

i want to read more books.

i want my parents to be happy.

i want to think about others.

i want to live in Spain.

i want to travel.

i want to go to South America.

i want the earth to be clean.

the craziness to end,

the suburbs to explode.

i want to make art,

and i want to make money.

i want to learn how to blow glass.

i want to use public transportation.

i want the days to be warm and sunny.

i want to see frogs fall from the sky.

i want to eat good food.

i want to not lose touch with my friends.

reality.

maybe someday kids,

a dog,

and a cat.

i want to play.

i want to feel,

want to be,

want to want.

i want to be successful,

good things for other people.

i want to see the leaves change in the fall.

i want to swim in the Mediterranean.

i want a Picasso original.

i want to meet someone i love.

i want to run through a field

of wildflowers

and tumble down

a grassy knoll.

i want others to have good thoughts of me.

i want to look at the stars

through a telescope.

may 2001.

ordinary delightfulness

cleaning up tonight i found a list of ordinary delightfulness from last fall:

puffy clouds

the smell of rain before a storm

rainbows

mochi for breakfast

lounging with a lover

stringed quartet

homemade pancakes

making chocolate chip cookies with my mom

striped socks

socks with stars

socks that climb all the way up to my knees

glittery goodness in the sky

hello moon.

hello magic wand.

the smell of lilies, white or baby pink, roses, gardenias

running into an old but not forgotten friend

a big hug, both giving and receiving

laughing so hard my cheeks hurt

realizing something wonderful has come full circle

exchanging a smile with a stranger

coloring eggs

dancing

the smell of freshly cut grass

reading kurt vonnegut

reading an amazing poem for the first time

finding an umbrella corpse after a rain storm

a pot of brown rice cooked perfectly

the express train pulling up just as i make it to the bottom of the stairs

hearing a story of ordinary magic

freshly laundered linens

candles

a handwritten letter in my mailbox

a dog wagging its happy tail

kittens!

hearing foreign languages on my way to the train stop

falling in love with new york all over again

the smell of fresh pine

camping in a tent under a million stars

finding a beautiful rock on a hike

dolphins

sharing a sunset

witnessing the power of people coming together

a cup of hot chocolate when the first cold front of the season rolls in

having an epiphany

snuggles from a cat

hearing the laughter of children….

i can definitely expand this list, but at least now i can recycle the paper that was sitting around my room.

 

love

caught a thread of two friends exchanging philosophy on love and faith over the weekend. one an athiest, the other a feeling poet. it got me thinking about these two intangible parts of my life, love and faith.

i never really think about faith, although i do have it somewhere tucked inside. faith in what, i’m not exactly sure. sometimes i have faith in humanity, other times it seems lost. i have faith in my self. i have faith in my friends  and family. i have faith things will work out the way they’re supposed to. i think faith is more important than a belief. beliefs change. when they become fixed, they become rigid, thus creating rigidity in the person who holds them. beliefs create attachment.

if by definition faith is a complete trust or if it is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, then the only thing for which i can have faith is the order of the universe and my self. although hasn’t order in the universe been proven by human observation for thousands of years? we see spirals and seasons, the sun rises and sets everyday. that’s order. but do i need faith for that? the sun will rise even if i don’t.

there’s another definition of faith as in one’s sincerity of intentions, keeping one’s promises. i think i could be described as faithful by that definition. loyalty is another definition that suits me.

i think of it more as trust. trusting the process. trust doesn’t have to be firm. it shifts and bends. maybe strong could replace firm. if faith were defined as a strong flexible belief, i could jump on board.

it seems if love is infinite with varying degrees constantly changing like everything else, why wouldn’t faith be the same way? it can grow and diminish. loving unconditionally is not the same as loving blindly. the word trust seems more open. maybe unconditional trust is faith?

i was in search of a quote last night when i came across this one by eric fromm, german philosopher.

“To have faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, the readiness even to accept pain and disappointment. Whoever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of life cannot have faith; whoever shuts himself off in a system of defense, where distance and possession are his means of security, makes himself a prisoner. To be loved, and to love, need courage, the courage to judge certain values as of ultimate concern – and to take the jump and to stake everything on these values.”

I’ve learned that courage is movement in the presence of fear. i’ve been called courageous even when i didn’t feel courageous. i do think faith and love take courage. trust takes courage. vulnerability is required. at times uncomfortable or uncertain. it tests and challenges. or is it that it is tested and challenged? maybe both.

just because someone says “i love you” doesn’t mean i feel loved, whether that person is speaking the truth or not. i can have more faith and confidence in the way someone feels about me by the way they interact with me.

a boyfriend once gave me the example of a mechanic and his wife. for valentine’s day, the mechanic took the wife’s car and tuned it up, changed the oil, vacuumed it out. he showed his love for his wife by maintaining her car. she wanted flowers and chocolate. to her it may have seemed that he was showing love for the car instead of her. but to him, he showed his love for her by using his skills to fix something she uses. not what i would want either, but that was how he expressed love. and maybe that would be nice too, but not for valentine’s day! valentine’s day is a stupid holiday, i wouldn’t want chocolate. flowers are nice, but flowers are nice any time. the point is: needs for giving and receiving love vary from person to person. how do you find someone who matches?

i do think it’s important to let people know how you feel, but if your words and actions don’t match, what meaning does it have?

love really is an act of faith or trust. we can love all day long, but people don’t always love us back. or maybe they love us back, but their capacity for love doesn’t match ours. or maybe one loves unconditionally and the other isn’t there yet. tomorrow i could wake up to find the person i love doesn’t love me anymore. or that he loves me, but the timing is off. or maybe i love him, but we’re not in the same place emotionally. or maybe we have different goals. the most wonderful thing about there being only one of us here is that there is enough love to go around, it just takes different forms.

i once asked my teacher how he and his wife stayed married so long.  30 years or so. (many people in their circle have married and divorced several times.) his response was endearing. “because i love her.” possibly one of the sweetest things i’ve heard. ever. about love and relationships. i have no idea what kind of challenges they’ve faced, and i suppose i don’t want to. not now. maybe someday.

right now i’ll just focus on loving myself.

word.

i came across these words written on a picture frame from a writing class i took late last year:

love. love. love.

kindness.

compassion.

understanding.

<3.

empathy.

joy.

laughter.

giggles.

my cheeks hurt.

embrace.

trust.

integrity.

collaboration.

hugs.

connection.

vibration.

<3.

community.

mindful meditation.

silent.

listen.

body.

mind.

spirit.

chakras.

veins.

meridians.

auras.

breathe.

peace.

ki.

<3.

language.

images.

courage.

mystery.

unknown.

invisible.

gracious.

grateful.

gratitude.

cohesive.

wonder.

blessing.

presence.

inspire.

dream.

family.

friends.

animals.

rocks.

trees.

unconditional.

three years in new york

i realized the other day that if i had moved northwest to seattle (my first choice) in 2009 instead of NY, it would have been a supportive direction.  i don’t know what my life would be like, but i wouldn’t trade what i’ve got, where i am, or the amazing transformation i experienced for anything.   i’m happy to be in NY.  if i hadn’t moved here, i would have missed out on great lectures, trips to the connecticut woods, the retreat upstate, to name a few.  it’s been an amazing ride.  i would have missed out on all the magic that happened.  it was meant to be, for sure.

i’ve been here nearly 3 years now.  i have a great apartment (just need my cat living with me again).  it is such a warm and comfortable feeling to not be moving.  i’ve connected with amazing new friends.  i’ve learned more than i ever could have imagined about myself and life.  my work situation isn’t steady, but it never has been.  who knows what the future holds.  i’m optimistic.  for me, it seems like having a place to be still is a great start.

i’ll do my best to not ever move in a non-supportive direction again, that’s for sure.  if i have no choice and it’s a far distance, i’ll be mindful.

matrimonial mystery

marriage.  someone asked me recently if i want to get married.  (it wasn’t a proposal, that’s actually never happened.)  i’m not sure.  have i abandoned the idea, or am i just delaying it?  perhaps if i met someone i’d like to marry, i would.  maybe if i even had a boyfriend, it would be realistic to spend time thinking about it.  right now, i’m still enjoying my space, and  new york is a great place to be single.  so what’s the rush?  the idea of settling with someone just to settle is unappealing to me.  someone who shares my dreams, or at least a couple of major ones, would be suitable.  and then there’s the 6 musts he would have to meet.

for the longest time i always said i didn’t want to have kids.  i definitely had zero interest in giving birth.  then there was a moment at the end of a road trip several years ago when i thought, just for a second, how nice it would be to take some kids on trips and show them the world.  i still had no interest in giving birth.  then just about a year ago i thought i definitely would like to have kids and maybe giving birth would be pretty spectacular.  (one thing is absolutely certain, i have no interest in lugging a stroller up and down flights of stairs in manhattan.  i don’t know how those women do it.)  of course marriage isn’t necessary to have kids, but i think i would like to have both maybe.   and a lifestyle based on macrobiotic principles for all of us.

i think i’ll find happiness and love no matter what.  i’ll have a garden, friends, a le creuset cookware set, a couple of cats, and lots of books and plants.