Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Just Figured Out Why I Love Art

When I was a teenager, heaven for me was 2 hours with a girlfriend flipping through posters, prints, graphics, art, celebrity pics, and landscapes at the PRINTS PLUS store at the mall.

Oh to buy a poster and have it framed was to take home a piece of heaven!

My mom used to wonder what I was looking for in those images so jumbled, mass produced, and commercializde.

How could we spend so long fli-fli-flipping image after image?

I know how now! We were waiting for our bodies to say yes to an image. It feels so good when that happens. When you connect to an image like I did to this one above on the left.

One time at PRINTS PLUS, I got a Herb Ritts picture of a cute guy in button flys. Another time, Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing. But it wasn't all about boys for me. I remember feeling so sophisticated the day I bought Monet's Waterlilys, and so sexy the day I picked up Lord Leighton's Flaming June.

By the time I found Chagall and Gustav Klimt, PRINTS PLUS has gone - as had my teen years, but I felt the same way (physically in my body) when I fell in love with those artists, as I did the day I stood coveting Annie Leibovitz' Lennon Ono Rolling Stone cover-turned-poster.

And now I see… all that flipping through racks of images was a meditation of sorts. I was waiting and preparing myself to be in the moment. To be in my body.

I think standing in PRINTS PLUS in 1987 with Sue Philson, flipping through a jumble of art is probably the only time in my teen years I allowed myself to be connected with my only true compass, my body. No wonder I never wanted to leave. PRINTS PLUS was the only place it was really safe for me to tune into my self, listening and connecting with my body authentically and without judgement.

I was searching for an image that enabled ME to see MYSELF…

Oh look, here I am now…

My friend Jessica Hanff introduced me to this amazing artist named Richard Stine. (Both images on this post are his and there are about 100 more I would like to copy/paste here!)

I just spent the last hour flipping through his images on a website called Image Kind and I was transported back to the Meriden Square circa 1987.

It's nice to know all that flipping had a pretty spiritual purpose. Who knew a PRINTS PLUS could have been so holy.

Want to take a spin through Stine's amazing collection? Find it at

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Some nights…

Some nights I want to write long passages.

Some nights I want to detail my decisions and open a hole for the world to crawl into my madness.

Some nights it feels okay to connect, to reach out, to be my imperfect self.

Some nights, after the crimson shades turn black, I feel a gentle openness and I think:
"Maybe everything does make sense after all."

Tonight, however, is not one of those nights.

Tonight is a night where words can’t fill in the hole in my heart.
Tonight imperfection is not a good enough answer.
Tonight the blackness feels more suffocating than gentle.

And to be honest, I’m really not sure why.

I’d be more okay with the ambiguity if I could sleep in a darkened room somewhere in a little anonymous B&B in Darwin or Cairns.
I’d be more okay with the ambiguity if time didn’t seem to be moving so fast.
I’d be more okay with the ambiguity if it didn’t suck so damn much.

Nights like this I understand why Americans watch so much reality tv.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hello, Angela? This is God Calling.

Have I ever told you the first thing God said to me? I was in Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the mid-to-late 90s. I should note that the 90s corresponded quite nicely with my 20s and my 20s were a pretty painful time for me. Sex was the closest I could come to love and on that particular day I had just fucked some fairly random guy so I was feeling good but I was also running late for a hair appointment.

It was the day I was supposed to get my "skunk stripe" (the streak of hair in the front of my head that's a different color - now it's purple but at the time I first got it was blonde). Anyway, I was running late so I stopped at a pay phone (No cell phones then, I know, I'm old.) to call and say I'd be late for my appointment.

"Sorry, we won't be able to see you if you aren't on time."

I thought they were kidding! What? I'm 10 minutes late and my appointment is canceled? After all, I called. That was the right thing to do. People were late all the time, why was I different? I wished I hadn't called and was sure if I had just shown up they would have fit me in. I shared this with the girl at the shop to no avail.

I was pissed at the shop and even more so, at myself. I'd left the cozy bed of whats-his-name and it would be too weird to go back and I couldn't even get my damn skunk stripe. What was I supposed to do?!

At the time I was new to A Course in Miracles and a crazy idea popped in my head.... pray. And so I did. For a couple hours I walked the streets of Scotland decrying the base-injustice of a canceled hair appointment. Poisonous thoughts filled my head, but I cracked a teeny tiny window of my heart open.

Dear God, I release the woman who canceled my appointment and I love her. I am willing to see it another way.

And there is was... the voice of God. In my right ear. As clear as a bell.


Yep, those were the very first words God ever said to me. "It's not always about you." I laughed at the snarkiness of it all. A calm came over me. Somehow, in that moment, I knew it was true.

Susan Hyatt's recent talk about text messages from God reminded me of that story this week. I am pretty sure if I had a cell phone back then, God would have texted this to me that day. Through the years since, that small phrase has been the source of so much comfort for me.

Today, I had another one of those "It's not always about you" moments. Years ago I shared a kiss with a ridiculously handsome man. The man was 15 years my senior and he was not exactly my boss, but let's just say he was in a position of authority in relation to me. (Why yes, I did have Daddy issues, why do you ask?)

At least how I remember it now, he invited me to dinner at his house one night and that's when the "kiss" occurred. After the kiss, he asked me to stay over, but I had another plan. I desperately wanted to spend the night, but I calculated if I played hard to get and went home, he'd for sure want to see me again.

As desperate as I was to stay and enjoy the night. I was even more desperate for control. It was all games, manipulation, and bullshit. That particular prison is how spent most of my 20s actually – EXHAUSTING!

But my plan didn't work. Despite my working "The Rules," he blew me off. I was sad and mad about this primarily for 2 reasons… 1) because I genuinely loved our friendship and missed him; and 2) because my game didn’t work and I wished I had played it differently.

Okay, let me be really honest. After weeks of torturing myself over how I played the game and over the loss of a friend, I boiled it all down to this: I clearly just wasn’t pretty, funny, or cool enough for him to waste his time with.

Since that night back in 1994, we haven't spoken, until a couple weeks ago (I LOVE YOU MARK ZUCKERBERG) and today we met for breakfast.

This time I brought God with me. It was great to see him. We always had so much to talk about. This guy is just one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. Before the breakfast was over he got serious.

"There is something I want to clear up," he started. "I guess it's my guilt/shame admission... That night when we were at my little bungalow. I've been carrying around a lot of guilt for how I handled that. You were so young and considering my position, I knew it wasn't right. Then when you reached out to me after, I didn't respond because I was so ashamed and of course ignoring you only made it worse. I handled that all wrong. I wish I had been more mature. I'm sorry."

Oh the pain of this particular loss had long since subsided, but it was so sweet to hear this apology/explanation. For years I had made it all about me and never bothered to look at it from his perspective. I was so sure it was about me, that I never considered the age or power differential or anything going on in his life as a possible reason for the end of whatever it was we had.

Of course, I accepted the apology, thanked him for his honesty, and was overwhelmed with gratitude.

As I drove home, the tears started flowing. How many times had I abused myself physically, verbally and emotionally for things that literally had nothing to do with me? How many times have I jumped into a cess pool of someone else's business insisting it was my own? How many times have I rejected myself in my search for someone else's love or approval.

The message is the same as it was that summer-day in Scotland:

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What's Awesome about Teen Angst

I should be doing something else right now. I just got off a conference call and I’m moving into my next task for the day. I took one, deep meditative breath and it hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks falling on my head and I don’t want to work. I want to write. I want to stew. I want to hold myself in my own arms for a few moments.

I just got smacked upside the head with one of my biggest personal epiphanies, literally out of no where. All the nasty arguing and eye rolling I did with teachers in high school and college (not to mention my mom), is not evidence I was a terrible kid that needed to grow up. I can feel myself now, rolling my eyes at Mr. Germanese or huffing in disgust at Carl Gudienus, and even as I feel that, I can see the huffing and eye rolling was a manifestation of a deep longing for information.

I was so unsatisfied for so long. I couldn’t really verbalize it, I just felt put upon by the universe and all the people in it. I was… unhappy. I wanted more but I was so unclear and unspecific about what I wanted BECAUSE…. I had no role models!

I had no way to picture what I wanted so it was just a deep, unabiding frustration. Like soaking in a stew of discontent. Arguing, bitching and whining – inelegant as it was - was the only way I could think of at the time to express my desire to be taken under someone's wing and shown the magic and miracles of the universe.

Like a toddler unable to "user her words", I threw tantrums and flailed my arms – trying desperately to explain something outside of my linguistic capabilities. I think it was the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss who pointed out -- there is no word for 'art' in Navajo-culture because for Indians everything is art and that the Chinese don't have a word for “no” because “perhaps” is as far as they will go.

Like a Chinaman stuck in a land of NOs, I had no words to describe my frustration or loss. I only had a vague hope someone could explain what was going on. Why did I want more? Why did I feel so small and incapable? What were the rules of this strange land? And more over, why the hell didn’t anyone else acknowledge how weird everything was?

In some ways I had culture shock due to some internalized knowing I needed to know more. And yet I was in a world where I couldn’t’ access it. Books helped. As did one teacher who gave me a glimmer of hope that this "more" I was looking for was out there. Still it was out of reach.

No one gave me what I wanted. No one outstretched their hand and said here… let me show you. Maybe I never met anyone that “knew” how to find what I was looking for. More probably my frustrations shut them out of sharing the lesson. And yet, I see now, I did the best I could. Oh how I want to grab that girl and give her such a huge hug – she tried SO hard. How could no one have heard? I mean, it was an IMPRESSIVE showing made by this inner longing.

You know who took my hand in the end? Me. There really wasn’t anyone else and so I’ve grabbed my own hand, I’ve become my own mentor but my tough love for myself hasn’t always been very loving. For instance, it never occurred to me to love those eye rolls and nasty comments until today. It never struck me that without them, I couldn’t have created a road from my sleepy traditional home town to this mecca of possibility, wonder, love and compassion.

Freedom – total freedom – comes from seeing yourself for who you are, letting go of the need to fix anything, and opening your arms to the journey knowing total safety is yours for the asking. That’s what I’d tell my angsty-teen-self.

Keep rolling your eyes baby girl because that is – believe it or not – the path to your truth and freedom.