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The Year of Meeting Lizards

Or how to slough off the past and be (more) fearless

Hint: One toe at a time. The tail will grow back.

In the past year, I have met more than a dozen lizards in different forms and phases of their lives. I have never encountered as many lizards as I have in the past 12 months. I wouldn’t have noted it if the first handful of lizard sightings were not intriguing. I am certain there are messages for me to learn from the lizards.

#1: Long, black, and semi-floating on a friend’s pool surface. High summer. Hot like today. I was on a mini-retreat to figure out what to do with my life and career post-pandemic and mid-freak out about my husband’s illness. Feet in the pool, journal in hand, sunscreen blocking the most pernicious sun rays, I leaped out when I saw what looked like a snake. Let’s say that it stopped my retreat’s calming focus and agitated me into a form of action. I still journaled my heart out and returned to the pool for a second day, but not with as much vim and vigor.

#2: One day later, I was walking with my husband around the block and noticed a small, grey dead lizard on the path leading to our home. Weird. I noted the doubling.

#3: A few days later, walking out to get the mail from our home, a short friendly lizard greets me at the door. Alive. It appeared to be speaking to me. It no longer seemed to be coincidental. There is symbolism here, attempting to bash me over the head. I did next what I love, researched lizard lore, and found that lizards represent dreams and shedding what doesn’t serve you any longer. Hmm. Food for thought.

#4-10: Lizards were everywhere, like the law of attraction; I would see them here or there by the porch, near the garage, or on my walk to the office. My family noticed them, too, and we discussed them like they were favorite pets during our dinnertime conversations. In the hustle and bustle of trying to run a middle school and get a proper diagnosis for my husband, I let the lizard messages slip away. And yet, I didn’t know what I know now; I was shedding my perceived reality for a new one.

#11: The bright orange lizard shocked me when it shimmied out of our garage almost a year later. I felt the sonic boom of a reminder. Had you shed all that you needed? Dual graduations of middle and high school sons appeared on the horizon. Daunted a bit but also excited about the move forward. The next phase holds new potential and opportunities for us– for me.

#12: One morning, almost one year after noticing the first lizard, I got out of the mini-SUV from the trip to and from college orientation and almost stepped on another dead lizard. I wondered if I had killed it when I backed into the spot. I knew I was reluctant, not wanting to loosen the next layer of skin, that of a parent giving over her child to adulthood.

#13: I give you a baker’s dozen in lizards. I am not sure it is the final lizard, but it is the one with the most meaning. In my new role as an advisor at school, two seventh graders rushed by me to save a very tiny baby lizard this week. They gently picked it up with their bare hands and carried it to a nearby flower bed to set it free. The students saved it from certain death: a new life, a new dream to be born.

I wonder, what messages or symbols have you read in the world?

random thoughts

That was the River– This is the Sea

These things you keep, you’d better throw them away.

from This is the Sea, The Waterboys (Michael Scott)

I can’t get this song out of my mind. It is a lovely, haunting melody by The Waterboys from their third album. I listened to it on repeat back in college (in the dark ages, aka the 80s). How fitting that it is running through my head as we delivered our eldest boy to college this week. I have so much to process. I was ill-prepared for the intense heartbreak when he turned to walk away from us toward his future. Left alone in the parking lot by the car, the emotional pain was physical. Holding my breath, I realized that there was no calling him back. To be sure, he will come back, but everything has changed. Mike Scott was right: This is the sea.

I returned home to an ocean of supportive friends, each having said goodbye to a child or two and survived. They shared their infinite wisdom with me and buoyed my spirit; I am grateful for their words. We are better together and built for connection.

How are you tending to your connections? Who will help you navigate the wild, blue sea of this life?


Son with Father @ Saint Mary’s Cross, Moraga, CA
random thoughts

Immaculate

The Annunciation, Simone Martini

I spent a bit of time pondering the life of the Virgin Mary today. Looking up at the crescent moon this evening, it felt like I was looking at a desert moon, one that may have hung up in the night sky for the Mother of G_d. What does it mean to be free of sin and bear the Divine? To watch the Divine be sacrificed and ascend? What does it mean for one’s own ascension? What must it have felt like to watch your love (the heart that lives outside your body) die before your eyes?

Death and birth are both difficult and shocking. It is almost winter. Things die to make way for new life. Is that our purpose?

random thoughts

What Do You Seek?

What you seek is seeking you.

I have been attracted to this quote attributed to the 13th century Persian Sufi poet Rumi since my 20s. It makes a lot of sense since I am a medievalist at heart. But I’m a lot older now and feeling impatient at the transitions I face in life.

But what is it that I seek? And what do you seek? Is it comfort, love, money, or status? The meaning of life, your purpose? All I know is that the paradox of the quote has me all tangled up in a loop because if you seek it and it seeks you- it’s like the prophecy in Harry Potter: neither one can live while the other survives. The resistance of opposites feels like an infinite loop.

I do have a mystic’s inclination, but at the end of the day, I want to feel like I can get grounded and not experience the infinity wrapped up in the spell of Rumi’s words. I would like to connect with what I seek. It’s time to create a new affirmation: I already have what I seek within me.

10 seconds to Zen, creative thinking, daily draw, Poetry

10 Seconds to Zen (post 5)

Rhapsodomancy (in honor of National Poetry Month)

Go. Go now to your bookshelf (do you have one in your home or office? I sure hope so.).  Quickly glance at your books of poetry or literature, and pick the first one you find (no more than 5 seconds) Close your eyes (6).  Open the book to a random page (7). Open your eyes, and wherever they focus, read (8,9,10).  What hits you?  What word or phrase stuck with you?  Was there some magic or message for you?  Just this act alone can bring a sense of peace very quickly.  In 10 seconds. You might want to take more seconds, but the initial action to change the moment, the first ten seconds is the most important. You can change how you feel with ten seconds of effort.  Evolving your mindset gets easier with practice.

This practice of randomly picking a poetic passage and finding meaning is called: Rhapsodomancy. Besides being an awesome word, it was once a great poetry reading series run by a favorite writer of mine, Wendy Ortiz. Rhapsodomancy captures two of my loves: poetry and random magic.  I practice this kind of whimsical divination often; it is great for curing the blues.

Today’s 10 seconds–from the book I selected off my work shelf…

The Great Religions (by Hafiz)

the

Great religions are the

Ships,

Poets the life

Boats.

Every sane person I know has jumped

Overboard.

That is good for business

Isn’t it

Hafiz?

If you have never tried rhapsodomancy, try it today. It might just give you a little weekend peace!

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10 Seconds to Zen (post 4)

Bubbles, just bubbles

Peace will find you as you blow all the stale air out of your lungs. I have found no quicker way to a smile on my face then when I am blowing bubbles. It only takes 10 seconds.

10 seconds to Zen, daily draw

10 Seconds to Zen (post 2):

Peace in an ordinary world

caffeine-coffee-cup-641038

Take a long slow inhale counting to four as you breathe in, stop. Now hold it for a count of three at the top, and then slowly let it out– three, two, one. Done.

It has been ten seconds, check and see if you have slightly more head space. In these few seconds you have made the way for a little moment of peace. Even better if you did this with your eyes closed, because then, when you open them again, you might see something new in your ordinary world: the bright green leaf on the rose bush outside your window; the way the cement smells just after the drizzle begins; the flicker of fairy lights atop your mantle, and the fire place is crackling and warm. Breathe and observe. Ahhh. That feels better.

Peace finds me when I delight in the ordinary.

When I am particularly peevish, this is my favorite ten seconds to zen: sipping on Relaxer tea (by Tiesta), fireplace on (it’s a switch on one, so it doesn’t take long to start) ambient scene on the smartv (search via YouTube), staring out the window to a little white rose bush. Dreamtime commences.

What is something ordinary that you can notice that will provide you with a moment of peace today?

creative thinking, daily draw, random thoughts

10 Seconds to Zen…

Ginger, Tumeric Tea

Peace finds us if we prepare the way for it.

Peace, or a sense of calm/Zen had always eluded me as a child and younger adult. I used to think finding it was going to be outside my skill set– reserved for the wiser, more patient folks. I always had hope though– and that may be why I never gave up the quest. Hope, I am told, is a very human trait (emotion?), and I believe hope is what allows us to be creative problem solvers. Without hope what is the point of moving forward? Hope is futuristic and revolutionary. Hope, creativity, and skill is what drives innovation forward. Hope is not fluffy as some might suggest. It is downright necessary, and the stuff of radical positivity– it is the superhero battling entropy.

However, I digress. Back to the original topic: Peace. It IS possible to find a sense of peace or Zen (whatever you wish to call it) if you train yourself to be accustomed to it. You don’t have to be a Buddhist. You don’t have to spend all day meditating or doing yoga. All you need is a dash of childish wonder, and the willingness to begin a routine. I am no yogi nor master teacher, but I have found some calm in this ferociously beautiful and sometimes crazy chaotic world. I would like to share how I got there with you in an upcoming series of posts.

I believe all you really need is 10 seconds and regular practice. What your grandmother told you may be right after all, “Count to ten before you say anything you regret.” Great sage advice. In our hyper fast paced world, 10 seconds is a long time. I wonder when we will begin to divide time into nanoseconds. I am fairly certain it’s possible. Because all things are possible.

Today, I found peace in the ten seconds it took me to breathe in the sweet aroma of the fresh brewed pot of my ginger, turmeric tea while sitting quietly watching the date palms sway in the spring breeze.  What peace will you find in your 10 seconds?

random thoughts

It’s that time of year, when…

IMG_1395.jpg

I realize that I am happy.  The weather bobs and dips like a fisher’s boat along with the tide.  Aromas glide in through the cracked window, warm and cozy: onion, sage and spice. It is a crazy time of year for me (work), but I still attempt to stop and focus on what moves me: waning light, sounds that crackle in the crisp morning air, the delight of roasting acorn squash with butter and brown sugar.  Join me in this moment of reverie.

random thoughts

The Pleasures of Summer

Mocha Latte @ThePeachCafe

Starbuck’s “The Pink Drink”


Colors are part of the fabric of who I am. Ask anyone and they will tell you I have a plethora of special gel ink purple pens in assorted nib sizes, my office is painted a lux Caribbean blue, and I wear jewel tones as often as I can.   That said, I truly enjoy colorful drinks as well. These two images are from the beginning of my summer adventures.  The mocha did not disappoint, but the “pink drink”, alas, was far too sweet.