Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I am listening to a dharma talk given by Tara Brach.  She tells a story of a young man who, after a heart transplant, begins to use new words, crave new foods, and listen to new music.  He even dreams of a crash.  He is lost in the hospital, trying to find the chapel, late to meet the wife of the man who gave him this heart, this new life.   The wife knows that her husband's heart is near, and so she waits 30 minutes past the meeting time, and will keep waiting until the young man arives.  She is a physician and usually has a scientific skepticism, but she is absolutely certain that her husbands heart is in the hospital and on the way.   And so she waits, and the young man gets to meet the woman who married his new hears when it was in another man's chest.  The young man learns that his new cravings are the cravings of her husband, and the wife learns that her husband's love and passion is still very much alive.

I had to pause.
The overwhelming word was this:  (to me, but I share with you)
"If you are not loving the experience of being alive, stop what you are doing, and move in the direction of your bliss!  There is absolutely nothing worth losing the love of life for!"

I was potting plant clippings, taking time to reconnect with mud, taking time to get out of my head and into my hands.

And then this story knocked me right into the absolutely stunning space of surrender.  Out of the head, into the bliss.

Oh, my lovely friends, what makes you come alive?  What makes you live?

I love you.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Modern mode blogging

I can't believe I came here without a notebook. Even with the urge to write, I'm still happy that I didn't bring my laptop. It has a way of pulling me into manage-and-control-life mode, and I'm here for the opposite of that. But really? I packed nothing to write with?
Ah, except my smart phone. My how times have changed.
It has built in dictation that is mostly functional. It might be fun to experiment with. It might be also be choppy and difficult and weird.
I'm at a casino. I'm here to spend time with my mom and grandfather, and to enjoy life away from normal life. As I'm wandering around the lobby of this odd, odd place, I do wish i had a journal. A keyboard would do. Something familiar. Something that I don't need to think about, that let's me set down words effortlessly.
I've been watching my mother and grandfather with those kind of eyes that search and explore. I'm watching the strange and common strangers, hearing them with stranger's ears. Noticing the rhythms of the many kinds of employees and business men and the many kinds of travelers. Noticing the lack of common dress or common manner. And I want a paper and pen. I wonder what on earth happened that I don't have a them. I want to tell stories about the strangers and now I'm one-finger typing about myself on a smartphone.

The evening people have a different vibe than the day timers, and I'm over it already. I don't really play dress up and I'm not here for lust of money or sex or power. I don't give a shit about being cool. So I'll meditate say my prayers and send my love to all my loved ones and fall asleep before my 90 year grandfather even gets back to the room. Tomorrow I'll try a writing exercise with this blogging application, and I'll find a notebook.

I want get in the habit of writing regularly before I spend six weeks in Thailand. It's so odd that I even say that. Never before these last two highly transitional years did I ever consider writing a habit. It just was. I carried a small journal with me everywhere I went, and never stopped writing things down.
Now I have this smartphone and I may sacrifice it to the river gods and ask for my writing habits back. The sacrifice would be metaphorical, of course, because I am too hippy to throw a phone in the river. But I might kill the smartphone gently on Craigslist and I won't miss how it grabs so much attention.
First we'll try this blogging from the phone business, though.
Want to help, friend? Send me a topic. Something about this casino trip that you want to know about. Then I'll be writing for us both.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

oxen free 2

I feel a little alien when people sneer at "that hippy love shit."  Of course I am trying to tune in to what is good!  Of course I want to unlearn patterns that hurt me or other people and of course I want to learn to be a force for peace.  What else should I do with this life?  Gather an Ikea Gallery of a home?  Collect all things Apple and have more facebook friends?  What on earth would I live my life for but to cultivate this "hippy love shit?"  I don't care if it's hip, but, I must admit, it's lonely when you frown.

I wish I could cover our cynicism with glue and glitter.
 I wish I could plant a magnolia in our resignation.  
I feel the pull of the quick-fix-or-forget-it,
but then I can't forget it.
It calls me like a dirty-knee child,
can't you hear it?

Olly Olly Oxen Free.  Come out, come out wherever you are.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

oxen free

blessed are the peace makers

your light shines me brighter
your fire burns me hotter
your love calls mine
"olly olly oxen free! come out come out wherever you are!"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's YOUR voice say?

How many disclaimers does it take to get a girl to talk?  How much fear does she have to sift through?  When does she stop apologizing?

My morning's fresh facebook meme was from Arundhati Roy.  "There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard."

These days I have very little patience for those who are unwilling to look at their position of privilege.   Nothing sparks my Kali tongue like an older white, middle class man telling me what's "best" for me.  Even if he "means well."  While I do appreciate that in I've learned to keep my mouth closed while my heart and tongue burn, I have to wonder if that's really "best."  It certainly works for the old white dudes when I stay quiet.  I do believe in peace and kindness, but I do not believe that restraint is always the best response to anger.  Especially when it comes to oppression.

That being said, I can't help but note that I am white.  Also, I'm young, healthy, decent looking, have tended toward romantic partners of the opposite sex, and was raised Catholic (which is not as proper American as being Protestant, but still more Christian and "acceptable" than all of the other options.)  When I get  down and out, I get a LOT of support.  Of course, a trust fund or an Ivy League legacy would be super helpful, but I work with what I got- plenty of friends and strangers who are willing to lend a hand. Would I get so much help if I weren't a young, thin, white chic with a Christian upbringing and a boyfriend?

Or, the flip side.  What if I wasn't raised in a working class community by a working class family?  What if I weren't poor most of my life? What if I weren't brought up by Catholic parents, with swarms of cousins around me at all times.  What if I were brought up wealthy and Protestant? Would I have learned be so damn loud about what I need?  Or would I be stuck in a Protestant straight jacket, stifled by the cultural heritage of status quo?

If you are not asking what life would be like if you were not you, for heaven's sake please start.  For a better world, start! 

Actually perhaps the question isn't "What would it be like if I weren't me?"  No, actually, the question is "What's it like to be you?"

It's excruciating!   I am SO afraid of hurting someone by bumping into their pain.  So, for fear of making things worse, under the spell of age-old guilt, how many times have I just stepped around and over and completely ignored someone else's pain?  Or, oh, I hate to even say it; what if I have been hurting you without knowing it.  What if I've been ignorant?

Seeing as we've made room in our culture for the idea that every sinner is a saint, perhaps we can all admit our ignorance.  I'd love to hear more people say "I can be an ignorant, fucking privileged asshole.  Help."  And then, "What's it like to be you?"

Here.  I'll start. 

"Hi.  I'm Diane.  I want to be a real writer, and I want to be a real peace-maker, but holy fuck I'm scared.  I can be an ignorant, privileged asshole!  And I've been super hurt by ignorant, privileged assholes.  So I get real quiet sometimes.  Other times I make a whole lot of useless noise to cover up all the fear and anger.  But really, I just need help with this.  What do you think?  What's it like to be you?"

What will it take, you think, before we ALL feel free to tell our truth? 
What the hell is Truth if it isn't free for us all?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

life living

I woke up this morning and thought,
"I belong to the living."

I peaked out the window.  Across the graveyard, the sun was beginning a grand show.  First morning waking up in my bed in ten or so days.  I couldn't remember.  I made my way toward the coffee.

By the time I got to the kitchen, five shuffled steps away, I forgot why I was there.  
I belong to the living. The words filled my kitchen like sunlight.  I most certainly do.  Oh, that's incredible.

I always loved that Joni Mitch line.  "I want to shine at the sun.  I want to belong to the living."  For many years, deep down, I believed that I belonged to the broken.  I belonged to those who were not quite as shiny and alive.

I started writing a blog, this blog, in January 2010.  It was the dead middle of some dark years, and I was attempting to blast through some loud inner-perfectionism by showing my writing.  My friend Tanya encouraged me every single time I posted something.  I was thinking of my broken years and of her brightness in my life  and of my recovery when I forgot the coffee, basking in how good it is to be so Diane these days.

Tanya passed away on the 18th.  I found out in the morning of the 19th.   I gave a bunch of flowers to the Gingko tree that lives across the street from my bedroom window, at the edge of the graveyard.  I burned incense there and I prayed for her.  She loved that hippie stuff.   On the 20th I took off for 10 days in the woods, which felt appropriate.  I went with my boyfriend, who doesn't know Tanya but really reminds me of her.  On one of our walks he pointed to a plant and said, "that's mullein." I said, "like for lungs mullein?" "Exactly.  There're lots of uses for this plant."  Tanya could and would do that, point to a plant and let you know it's long list of uses, if you cared to know.  Learning about all things earth is heaven for this urban/suburban-raised, Sagitarius hippie-want-a-be.  It was comforting that he is like her in that.  Familiarity certainly helps grief grieve, but also it made her passions occur as immortal.  So I had ten days in nature, thinking about life and Goddesses and community and love and death and friendship and passion.  And living.  Yesterday we came home and I went to her memorial.

And this morning I woke up in my bed.  In a room across from a graveyard and a Gingko tree.  The flowers are still at the Gingko.  I added rose petals from her memorial service.

I feel so unmistakably alive.  I feel sad.  I feel excited.  I feel loved.  I feel...whole.  
I feel like I need coffee.  

I thought of Tanya's travel mug with the sticker "Give me coffee and no one gets hurt."  It was on the table where I sat with several of her other work friends, my friends, our friends, my former co-workers yesterday.  Her husband had put out random belongings that were very much part of who she was.  "Relics."  Her poems were printed out and scattered on table as well.  And stencils and little colorful stickers, very Tanya.  We laughed when her husband brought up the love of coffee and pointed out the mug.  She made us all laugh, that one.

The laughter had a timeless quality.  I hadn't seen half of these wonderful people in years.  I was amazed at how relieving it felt, and how much love I felt.  The laughter felt familiar, and like it never actually stopped.  Just paused.

Funny.  These are former co-workers. People who I haven't seen or really thought of in a while.  And it felt so good to be with them.  I was a little taken aback by something... I realized actually really love them.

That's one thing that I do quite well, one thing I love about being Diane.  I love.   And sometimes it hurts.  Often it hurts.  Sometimes it feels vulnerable, or embarrassing even, and I hide somewhere safe.  Sometimes I hide in that safe place a long, long time.  Mostly, though, I love and love and love.

I got back in bed with the coffee and a book called "The Rebirth of the Goddess."  I purchased it last night, after reading a chapter and balling my eyes out.  We said the Lords prayer at her memorial yesterday, followed by a prayer to the Goddess.  Several hours later, I find myself crying with grief and with gratitude.  She was a gift in my life.  I stayed in bed a while.  It felt like the perfect thing to do, a little Goddess excavation while thinking of Tanya on Easter Morning.

I hadn't seen Tanya in years until I saw her in the hospital.  When I started this blog, we had kept in touch quite regularly via the internet, but I hadn't seen her face or heard her laugh in at least two years.  The past couple weeks, I think of how many times Tanya or I said "We really should get together.  I miss you."  But we didn't get together.  

It makes me want to gather you all in my home.  Tomorrow.  By five.

I wrote a poem of sorts the day that I found out that Tanya was not going to continue treating her cancer, and that she didn't have long to live.  I sat down, compelled to write, on a cold stone bench in my little city, crying in broad day light, writing with a small purple "Miffy" marker.  I'm going to post it below. I'm not going to edit it.  I'm not going to edit this post much, either, because i'll never get it perfect and i need to live on.  What Tanya taught me (taught many of us) so well was to LIVE, dammit.  My goodness, she LIVED.  The fact that she is not alive today really punctuates the dammit.  It hurts.  And I'm awake.  When I started this blog, it was a "fuck you" to perfectionism and a "Hell yes" to the unique view that makes me me.  Tanya really was my biggest support.  She even told me that she started her own blog because mine inspired her.  To a girl who wants to belong to the living, that is certainly something.

Over the years, as I grew and grew, I removed most of the postings from this blog.  I've changed so much.  I've healed.  I woke up this morning with the astounding realization that living does not occur, as it did for most of my life, as something I will do some day.   The women who, like Tanya, paid attention, who heard my pain and my excitement and my joy, and said simple things like, "you're doing it, love," they were my midwives.  We midwife the living in each other.  We birth our stories and our light.
It's Easter Sunday.  I am reborn.  We are all reborn.  It's about damn time I let this living life boil over in words and song again.

On the day that I found out that you were dying
I went into a quick haze of fix-it,
called a friend who loves you too and left a message,
     planned a visit in my head,
     made mental note to ask my church to pray for you and your family,
     thought about your kids,
Then found myself in the doorway, crying.

I stepped outside, where there was no haze
Just the brightest sun I've ever seen on a February day
The colors of the little college town were louder and
they played with the day.
I saw a young woman with Green hair and loved her
and i thought that you would love her, too
An urgency swept over me  
to live and live and live
and I walked off, in a daze-antidote

I spend so much time dreaming that this level of awake feels like day-glo
quiet, and screaming
and almost too real to be real

and it felt like a gift
and i knew it was a gift
and you are a gift
and i am a gift

I fell to the nearest bench to write down my praise

I could only find this purple marker in my bag.
It feels perfectly playful
like you, beautiful.

I can feel the wish at the edges
the desire to have my impending prayer matter.
                  "Don't go!"

But I've learned that it isn't up to you or me.

So, I'll say "My friend...

just in case this is goodbye
please know
that you are pure gift
that you teach me to love more 
that you leave me loving stronger, brighter, 
and with more urgency

as well as softer, kinder, and with more faith.

And if it really is goodbye
then I say 'goodbye for now'
and until then i will miss you

And of course, Thank you, Beautiful friend."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

River watchers, rice farmers, soft-skinned fishermen

they met us on the porches, smiles and hands and hugs
they tied their good wishes to our wrists with strings,
loved with their eyes.  baffled, we understood.

children ran, wide eyed and terrified
"be good or white people will eat you."
so they fled, and laughter spread

the village spilling over languages
known and unknown
the houses could not contain--
was it their curiosity or mine?
they stood right in the middle of the road
they talked and laughed and looked 

when did i go home?

i can't get anything to feel the same 
i do the next right thing, then the next right thing
on my wrist i wear dirty string

Go-getters, hard-handed blue-collars, academic types

when do we really get to go home?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

funny enough, I think creating a blog made me stop writing.

I have a new sense of my boundaries now.  Turns out I don't really want you all to know.  Turns out I'd rather fill up journals with songs and poems and give my friends clear instructions to burn them when I'm gone.  Finally, something I can be consciously selfish about without feeling any pangs of guilt.

I'm going to slowly take all of this off of the internet.  I'll still share with you, maybe, if you ask me to.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

sabbath rain

I woke up to rain, and my first thought was "I'll take it."

It's okay that my sheets are on the line.  It's okay that they've been there for three days.  It's okay that they are now wet again.

And it's okay that I can't keep up.  It's okay if I never catch up.

The sun porch is messy.  The rain is perfect.  So is my morning cup of tea.  The shimmering song is ancient, gentle and unrelenting.  The moment is fresh and poised.  Today I will let the rain be a comfort.  I'll let it wash my silly reasons into the meaninglessness and all-meaning silence.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

someone somewhere

She made a pretty penny in real estate.
but never did fall in love.
She had a certain taste for fixer-uppers,
for sledge hammers and roller brushes
perfecting and moving on.