Sunday, August 13, 2017

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—The irony of lyrical words




aren't they pretty, oh so pretty?


it' not what they mean, but how they sound: delicious


if only their melody could raise the bamboo trees

nurse its kindling back to reaching

neurogenic stenosis
nerve block
vertigo (oh, that's super poetic and a cool kind of pretty)

add them up and they make a song, make a village

                  and my leg will rise again

wake up Maggie, wake up

What are your favorite lyrical words that mean something uh oh?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Still here, very here

Though my identity is on hiatus: I can't walk, drive, do yoga, bike, swim, run out of a rain storm, play Frisbee with my boy...

so much of who I am is of the body

and after all these years of coming back into my body, coming home,

I'm ready to leave it again

even though

my writing mind, my voice of experience, is still here

very here

reminding me over and over again that, hey,

 this is the real moment of your memoir

this is what they really write memoirs about

the memoirs you devour and think will never happen to you

but look, here it is happening to you too and are

you going to face it like a writer or an innocent?

a yogi or a plum?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—When several travel prompts are requested

 First of all, I hope you have an amazing trip and I look forward to hearing all about it ! And feel free to try these prompts at home! It's 100% safe!

There are so many prompts that I can only imagine will show up every moment of your travels; if you stay open to prompts, you will see them everywhere. Notice what energizes you/charges you--for better or worse and all in between--and there you have a loaded prompt. Is it pinwheels? Elevators? Hotel rooms? Hotel lounges or pools? Is is the lone person? The happy couple on their honeymoon? Is it a know-it-all-therapist? Is it jealousy or joy? Cocktail hour? Feeling left out? Feeling acceptance? The jacuzzi? The memories of being here before? The sensory array of blooming things? THe not blooming things? Can a face bloom or not bloom?  Notice what's happening inside and write from there and you cannot go wrong.

Sit. Check in. Look around. Check in. Write. Oh, and what about "checking in"? That there is a great prompt. Especially in therapy-land. Many stories there.

Ditto walking. 

Ditto sitting in a conference hall.

Ditto the carpeting in the hotel conference hall. Oh, the memories and infinite possibilities that live in hotel carpeting.

Which has so many shades and patterns and colors, and really, can take you to drapes, which have many stories you've forgotten you've forgotten, and of course, windows and views outside of windows and.... do you prefer your shades up or down? Is your favorite color blue or red or both? And what are your memories of that color and associations with it? And what if you just write for an hour about lemon yellow? Or lemons? Or table cloth white? Or table cloths? You've got to just trust that when you give it space and time, something magic will show up and have lots to say. Will move through you and thank you dearly.  For that matter, you could write about gratitude. Or grumpiness. Yours. Hers. Theirs. The righteousness you feel when it's some unenlightened else's. 

What you hear at the pool. Or smell. What does chlorine do to you?

And of course the food. What you love. Fear. Won't eat. Can't eat. How you judge what others eat. How you hold back. How you count calories or splurge or compile recipes or tell yourself "well, I'm on vacation..." and what about all that? Or maybe you have a daquiri which you haven't had since you were 21? Or whipped cream? Or try eel sushi? Or skip a meal and write about your hunger. Hunger moves words in a myriad of acrobatic and architectural ways.

And of course... it goes without saying... what you're learning and how it moves you because most of all I think it's good and energizing to attune to what moves you, what works that incredibly receptive life giving muscle to tears, laughter, to happiness, to release, to insight, to friendship, to new beginnings, and possibly new endings... 

and before I say 'write about beginnings or endings' or meetings of all kinds or reunions, I'd better quit now before this gets completely out of hand, but for now, I'll just say "thank YOU for the prompt."

Have a ball! (oh gosh... and who doesn't have ball stories? My first ball was a soccer ball...)


Friday, March 3, 2017

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—A simple dream realized

What dreams have you realized lately?

For as long as I can remember, I've watched those wide push brooms with the smiling mouthful of teeth sweep through large vacant spaces either before or after the event or perhaps during sparse attendance—dance halls, cafeterias, bars, yoga studios, lobbies, elementary school hallways, etc— across hardwood floors of all shades; likewise linoleum, marble, 50's style checkered, peel and stick modern, faux wood, etc, always deriving the same pleasure I would, say while watching the big ice machine clear the scuff at the ice rink on Santa Monica Boulevard by the beach, where we cooled off many days of the year, lost in the magic of so much ice in one place, starring trancelike, almost hopeful, into the milky eye of the North. 

So today, I finally got a wide push broom at Home Depot. So inexpensive. So easy. Why had it taken me so long? And I was so excited, even though it's still cold in here, I took out even more tropical colored rugs (one-by-one) from the living room floor and wondered what else I could get rid of in order to waltz this widening open room-broom dance into the night and for the rest of my life. For what could be more gratifying than sweeping an empty space down to its skeleton, raking the debris from its belly and then lying on your back in the soft, open, shine as a newborn ?

Wish I had more time to write about this. Or more time to sweep. Darn. Never enough time to push the broom across the floor or sweep the hand across the page. Someday, perhaps when I am very old, I will realize the dream of endless time to write and sweep. But in the meantime, I've wanted one of those brooms forever. Lucky me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Was it a beautiful day?

Was it a beautiful day?

In your neighborhood?

Write about any neighborhood you remember or want to: now, then, in between.

Write and see what happens. They may switch around. Your childhood neighborhood might show up in your dreams and spill into yet another neighborhood. 

Enjoy running into old neighbors and expect many surprises. Personally, when we did this yesterday in my monthly Memoir/Creative NonFiction Group, I was delighted to run into my old love, Joe D, whose last name is so dang literary I long to share it, but alas... even my first love with the pompadour and Buddy Holly glasses deserves his privacy. Especially since the writing and running into him yielded some yummy memories and that felt really good to write about; not because I long for him, not because I wish I still lived in my childhood neighborhood in Los Angeles with the lemon trees and Olympic Blvd, with its 12 lanes of traffic. Not even because some of my happiest memories live there and daily beckon me back to the ocean. 

It felt good simply because in the mysterious ways that writing together works its magic, I was full as I could be to unexpectedly remember and write about that pale, aspiring actor, with  his green cardigan and white pick up truck, his face in the jasmine bushes in my front yard, breathing deeply, not a care in the world for that summer moment, despite the gridlock he'd just battled all the way from Carson.

Rise Up: Your Neighborhood

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Junk Mail Poetry? Old Friend? Does this happen to you? Do you know this hunger too?

Oh how there is endlessness to write about. Am I the only one getting these random messages embedded into my junk mail? Pretty good stuff if you ask me. Is it a decoy? Am I being spammed and robbed of my vowels as I take part in this junk mail cobbler poetry fest for free? And if it was you who sent it, especially if you meant it, well, bless you.

The funny part is I thought, at first, the first time, it was a long lost student. Or friend. Or heck, I don't know. I felt the same kind of excitement I do when I get an envelope in my mailbox with handwriting, even if it turns out to be junk, which is half often the case. Half often. Hmmm. What does it mean? Well, I like how it sounds anyway: Half often. Sort of like "eight-ohleven," which is what Jude said in bed after books, refusing night-night. "But Mumsy. It's only eight ohleven." He's after my own heart, that one.

But the all too obvious confession: I want to keep reading. Discover something in this recurring junkmail that always leaves me hanging with an abrupt ending. Wait. Where'd you go? And  who is you? I don't want to believe you are computer generated  spam: you are smarter than that. Perhaps if I keep reading, maybe there will be something personal in there. Something that would reach me, reach out, over, and in. Someone who would talk about that time we... or... when we... or should have...or... right? Someone who would write themselves write back into the story of your life, blinking right there in the old fangled inbox? Yes... these random emails remind me that there is still that part of me that...what? What? No really. What? You want for this too... don't you?

And this is why we write together. We welcome in the magic. We write around the possibilities that always hover out of reach, that have no definitive answer, whose energy is infinitely gravitational because when we write, we are earth in orbit. 

Oh dear. I think it's contagious. Init? 

"First started seeing my psychiatrist, I was liberty that shadow version of me  tired,  miserable, hiding inside a giant sweater, convinced reno that my body was spreading over the spade length of the couch. I told him pierce that I didnt want to take S.S.R.I.s crop (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors  Prozac, Zoloft, corner etc.) because in the past theyd impeded sable my writing. A decade earlier, Id taken knockout Wellbutrin, a brand name for bupropion, which excessive doesnt target serotonin, and it hadnt affected pale my writing; my , however, had persisted inspiring (and my weight had held steady). In colleen 2013, I agreed to try bupropion again indiana anyway. I was so depressed, I almost gazette didnt care. Id already decided that medication hamper It was a Saturday. 

I ate brunch, genesis the meal of the  class. I alps am not a member of the  recycle class, but I felt luxurious, laughing with contained friends over spicy potatoes. The next day schooling I had to ride in a small turf car to Boston  four hours with evacuation four people . I breezy felt like I was falling in love. approving This was the trial-and-error stage and, as flat my  quickly realized. It became a bit of a chore, burberry chewing food. For the first time in snappy my life, I would forget to have banker lunch, leave burritos half uneaten, find myself jolt unable to finish dessert. It should be packaged reflexive 

I've been to Orta a number of times over the years but tonight really took the cake! Came in with my family for my mothers 57th birthday and everything was... Siam Cuisine is such a gift on The South Shore. When we decided sit at the bar and the bartenders greeted us immediately. They were very....I can sit and watch the glass blower's all day. ..The way the teams work together without words... This place is like a picture out of a holiday magazine or movie. We obviously went during the Christmas season, to see all the lights. "

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—2016

leonard cohen said he was ready to die
then changed his mind, said he had more to do, more to get in order, more to sing,
then died a month later
heini heini, my lord, he said
and my lord was listening
but i was not
I was not ready
I was not heini heini

and now everyone else is lying down

and also: everyone else is rising up

and this morning, I am reminded of goodness
and life being life
and when
Jude says to my best friend P from Austin
who is sad and confused and doesn't know what's what
who is leaving today with her companion animal Dirk, the chocolate labrador, a true man of peace
Jude tells her, "well, if you move here... where will you stay? hey, I got an idea:  you and your mom and Dirk can come live here. You can
be our roommates!"

and there's more, much and always more, but this is enough for now

Friday, December 16, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—And all the rest... Random Acts of Writing... the gift that multiplies and keeps on giving...!

          *    *  *      *      *            *         *         *    *        *     Start a blog! What did you discover today as you wrote? What is the main theme/passion/wisdom? What do you love (writing) and otherwise?

    Make collage poems and gift (magnetic poetry). Make a magnetic poetry set out of your words of gratitude.      *    *  *      *      *            *         *         *    *        *     

   Host a holiday “reading” where you gather close friends, family, etc, to share your heart felt words.

    Read aloud some of your writing to someone it was intended for today. Or be brave and read it in pubic. At a reading or heck, in the skyways. Why the heck not???
     *    *  *      *      *            *         *         *    *        *     
    Type out some of your favorite lines or pieces and leave them random places (inside books at bookstores, on community posting boards, etc, be creative!) because you never know where and when your words might offer the wisdom someone has been waiting to stumble upon their entire lives

Make little books. Fold, fold, fold, fold, fold and voila, it's a book! Or try origami books. Or get fancy with glue and cardboard. Or... anything! Sooo cute! Sooo lovable. So endearing. And pretty darn simple.
     *    *  *      *      *            *         *         *    *        *     

  Recite and reread your own words back to yourself and receive them as the nourishing prayers and offerings that they are. Sing them! Take them in.
They are perfect just as they are: no need to do anything, but receive them and offer them raw and ripe, blossomed from the nectar of your own heart. This is more than enough!     *    *  *      *      *            *         *         *    *        *     

All of this because I keep saying to myself and thinking that these are the words we need to be hearing in our modern places of worship, in the streets, in livingrooms, on the bus, and mostly echoed and sang out over and over in our own hearts. Spread the honey!     *    *  *      *      *            *         *         *    *        *     

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Random Acts of Writing: Two (of Ten) Ways To Gift Your (already written) Writing

Dearest Beach Goers, Writers Near and Far, Writing Family, 

It goes without saying that now is the time for Word Warriors! Now is the time, more than ever, for us writers to stand behind our words and truths as they manifest on the page, whether by poem, prose, or any fresh, living, spontaneous combination therein. Now is the time for us to work for our writing, to ask what we can do for our writing instead of the other way around. Now is the time to drop the insecurity, the “who will care about this?” mentality and instead embrace and nourish the creative energy, power, and beauty of our written words!

And it doesn't matter how we do this. We can do it little. We can even do it micro. Or we can do it big if that is our wish. Now is the time to be mindful about what, if anything, is holding you back as a writer and why that might be. And is that "why that might be" something you still need to hold onto?

Last month's Writing Gratitude: Random Acts of Writing Workshop reminded me how the most meaningful gifts are the handmade ones of the heart (er, written...). Before it gets too late (though never too late for word gifts!), I'm posting a couple ideas to get you going. I'll be back with the rest. Enjoy! And please add your ideas!

Take pride in your gifts as a writer!  Stand behind and honor the writing you’ve created with love and intention with an offering. 

Two (of Ten) Ways To Gift Your (already written) Writing

1.    Embrace your inner Shakespeare (Rumi, Frost, Jenkins, Dickinson, etc)!  Quote yourself! Take pride in your gifts as a writer! Cut out the lines that sound poetic to you; copy, decorate, color, and frame. Great to gift or hang at home to remind you everyday of your inner beauty: what you think, feel, believe, etc.

2.    Trust your wisdom and spread it around! Publish your words in a local publication (Southwest Journal, Women’s Press, Star Tribune, The Journal, The Edge, The Phoenix, etc). There are countless ways to get your words print published locally; do a google search or better yet, check out your neighborhood coffee shop for handfuls of publications that are starving for your poetic, unique, wisdom. Share it! We need it, we want it, and you made it!

If you missed out on Writing Gratitude: Random Acts of Writing this workshop is now portable!  I come to you, you come to me, we write, we share, we fill up and feel good! We can write with your friends, your family, your partner, your parent, your coworkers, your writing group, your women's group, school, or any other group that you organize that needs a little ray of gratitude to enliven, ground, and explore new ways of writing and relating!

What:  Write together, share, discuss (at least) ten ways to gift your writing right now—to loved ones and, if you wish, to the word hungry world—based on the writing we do together, as well as how this writing can keep on giving all season long! 

We will: 
warm up our gratitude receptors with gentle, creative movement
write together 
exchange the healing balm that words of gratitude offer
be honest and truthful 
hear and be heard
feel better
complete some (all) of our holiday "shopping"

You will:
feel grateful to yourself, your community, everyone in the room
feel your heart all day long
call yourself a writer from now on
chill out the rest of the day and avoid the malls

smile a lot 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Speechless? Writers, Raise Those Pens!

Beloved Writing Family, All Family, Everyone Everywhere:

This is the point. This is exactly the point. Today is the point. Today is the point to ask something different.

For those of us who are constantly asking why we write, what the point is, who cares anyway, where's this all going anyway? and all those familiar thoughts and doubts that crush your writing spirit when words become weaponry, now is the time to ask not what your words can do for you, but what you can do for your words. (Sorry, couldn't resist. But I mean it). 

 The words you love to write. The words you labor over. The words that create sentences that create paragraphs that create chapters that create poems and essays and letters and books and heck, even text messages sometimes, woven together with love and compassion, strands of kinship that will endure longer than a feral election. The spirit that lives in each word you write (let alone what they mean and how they sound when you stack them side-by-side, dancing together, searching for the little dot at the end of the sentence together) vibrate with infinite love and offer endless gifts. Somewhere inside you know this.

And that is the point. This is what you "do" with your writing. You see it as the gift it is and you give it away where it is most needed. You share your word gifts now with a hurting, confused world. That is what you "do."

Writing is a sacred process and practice. It heals. It always has and always will and the mystery and theory behind why this writing magic happens usually comes back to the intimate witnessing of self and one another. And that exchange is more than enough. And you know I can and will someday "write a book about this" (any day now...)...And on most days, process is the only thing; you will rarely hear me prioritize publishing and book deals, etc. And that's not what I'm saying today either. 

What I'm saying today is please get out of your own way and stop asking questions about the value of your writing that no longer serve you. Today is the day for writers to stand behind their own words, listen to them, and take them in.  Today our world is asking their community leaders, healers, ministries, buddhas, shamans, etc, for comfort and guidance. But it's up to all of us. Bikers. Bakers. Shoe makers. Bus drivers. Immigrants. Lawyers. Yogis (but they always do). Everyone. But writers have the advantage and liberty of doing it lyrically. :)

But seriously. Now is the time for writers to answer that call more than ever—not with perfection, not with promise, not with world peace, not with a best seller—but with truth, vulnerability, and soul. Maybe you do write the answers. Maybe you write what you love. Maybe you write your to do list. Maybe you write a love letter to Trump or Hillary or those forgotten indie folk. Maybe you write you have no idea what to say. Maybe you write that today, November 10, 2016, you had gluten free waffles for breakfast. It doesn't matter because it will be you no matter what you write. 

We offer and receive the simple first stroke of the pen or key to the screen that slowly becomes a roaring fire around which we gather and return to again (and again) for what we truly need. And there, around the fire, we remember how the sky is full of word stars and  how each word is full of light, by sky and by page; and in this exchange with one another, with the universe, we receive the gentle companionship, the familiar comfort for which we all hunger, the humble reminder of the timeless echoing of the human spirit that says, no matter what the actual words are, "me, too. I'm listening. I see you. We've been here for millions of years, through storms and bad presidents, through love and loss and a million sun ups. We're not going anywhere."

So raise those pens Writers (and you are all writers, by the way, whether you know it or not). Stake your claim on the page and rain poetry on this thirsty world. But first, write it for you and receive the love song that it is, feel its beauty and humanity as it enters and leaves your body and receive it as the gift of another day.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Hi Everyone!

Hi Hi! Hi Hi! 

Big hi!  Low hi! High low, low high...

Hello! Howdy. Howdo?

How are you?

              How's it goin?

                                How's it hangin'?

                                What's up?

                                                                 Wassssssup?????   Wanna? Wannahuh?

Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.

Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi.

HI   Hi.       Ih.  IH. ih. i.h.


ohilohi. lolilo. o. o. o. iloellihi. yoddleihu.

aren't letters cute? They're so obedient. They do what I tell them to do. Lie down this way and that. Shape up or sideways or sleeping beside the moon. Don't you love when letters say hi? And love you back? It's all the sweet (enough) I need in this life to be so unconditionally loved by the letter o.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—For example...let's be Village People

You have probably heard me say hexteen gillion times that "stories are gifts" or some variation thereof over the years. In a more melodramatic way or day, you may have heard me liken the gifts of stories to the days of the oral tradition, where folk went from tribe-to-tribe sing-speaking all the village news— sometimes as entertainment, sometimes as prayer, sometimes as warning, sometimes  to make trouble, and sometimes because they were bored, or it felt good, or it distracted them out of their bodies— because, what else was there to do? 

Anyway, that's my smug understanding of it. On hormonal days, you may hear me get all high on my anti-literary culture/book binding, publishing horse because it warps the consciousness around creative expression and the love of writing as process and practice. It reverses the writing process from internally to externally driven, a labor of love detoured out of the heart into the big brain in order to present a well thought out, intelligent offering of perfection to the court (jesters).  It's an outrage, I'll say, because "we have lost so much of the spontaneity of the oral tradition, where we just said or sang our stories; we didn't worry how they came out or what they sounded like. But no, we had to go get all in our heads and start writing those stories down and lose our flow and intuition and before you knew it, one thing led to another and those living, fluid, stories were cryonized into books and wow, isn't that grand? Except if no one liked those books, especially literary critics and the other who-whos du jour, well then uh-oh."

So... what? I have my cranky days. Not every day is a Ram Dass day. Sorry.

You do realize when I quote myself I'm releasing trauma, don't you? A little narrative therapy goes a long way! Anyway, the point is, the whole twisted point, is the Prius. I was getting there.

So, "for example,"  your stories tonight will be great gifts. So, tell, if you will, stories of your car: Is your car comfortable? Do you love her? If so, what is it? Do you, like me, have a sad, tragic, Prius story? I'll tell you mine... soon, for it is a story, a humbling story in fact, it is. But now, my beloved writing tribe, please share with my Beach Village, in any narrative tradition of your choosing (song, blog, image, recorded sound, type, big literary, with drum, etc) your Prius or bad back car stories (and what you did about it) or your awesome car comfort stories. I need em villagers. I need em like the days of the oral tradition, where your very life (or at least your back) depended on good news from the village two doors down. 

And don't worry about saying it loud and uncouth. It's okay, little Bear Cubs. In this village, this mighty Beach village, the lion sleeps tonight.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Ye Olde Prince Stories

I know there are tons of Prince stories floating around out there, but feel free to share here!

I have been amazed, again, at the human need to "write it down.". If you google Prince, as I'm sure you have, you will find gagillions of stories written by "me" and "you" and everyone else about Prince. All different, but each touching something in us we can all relate to. So feel free to write and post ye olde Prince Stories here! Even if you haven't thought about it or think you have nothing to write about Prince, see what happens. Something will come; something you had no idea was there.

A little prince.
A story about Prince you heard.
You have no idea who Prince is.
You'd rather write about Prince Charming.
You don't like Prince.
You don't believe he actually died.
You remember the first time you heard his music.
I do. It was so-so.

I remember going to the Purple Rain concert with Ma in 8th grade in LA. She bought and wore the Prince and the Revolution concert shirt with the purple all over the place. Put it on right there at the booth and then danced all night. Everyone thought we were sisters that night, as they did back then, and the men in baseball caps with beer, smoking, looked at her then in ways that made me want to wear the same shirt. Only it didn't look the same on me and I didn't get the looks. And it wasn't the best night of my life. But Ma. To see her dance and let go in the dark purple lights of that faraway coliseum and say "Fuck, I love this! I love that Sheila E!" was worth the mediocre night for the memory. She still wears that shirt today, threadbare and all. And it looks just as it good, better even as she ages.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—The Hawaii/Ram Dass Story You Likely Haven't Been Dying to Hear

(So perhaps a few of you know I went to Hawaii last December to kvell over Ram Dass. I'm sure I'll be writing about that trip for the rest of my life, but the following is my first published account, which is only a teeny tiny itty bitty iota of an ioteye of what I could say and focus on. I had a teeny tiny itty bitty word count (750), which I bloated into a good 1,000 or so (they like me fine over at the Edge, bless their blissed out crystal hearts), which means I had to contort and trim and suck in my vowels and adjectives and tell a tidy story about a not so tidy thing, but you'll get the gist. I tell you this because this is a darkish story. I had a great time. Don't worry. Like you, my shit comes up everyday, my endless struggle to live whole, do my practice, love everyone, not get caught up in the drama, etc, which can be really hard and I can go down fast... but I still keep seeing dolphins and feel the splash of paradise on my skin. And I will write about that. But this story is about getting caught up in the shit, one itty bitty iota of an ioteye story in the spectrum of my Hawaii Ram Dass rainbow stories that happens to be in the shade of er... bruisy purple. )

You can click on the link and go to the Edge or read it here. Please feel very free to comment on what makes you cry for no reason, how unconditional love brings out your shit, what happens (ed) when you met your "guru," or about times you've been out of sorts in the tropics. Or anything else.

"Love everyone," Ram Dass said, guiding us in the final meditation of the 8th annual Open Your Heart in Paradise retreat, where I found myself last December literally at the feet of my guru in a thatched hut -- among 350 other attendees blessed out in the Maui heat. (It was a rather large thatched hut). By then, I couldn't stop crying. In fact, as soon as I secured travel plans, the mere thought of eye contact with the legendary Ram Dass sprouted tears. I didn't think much about it at the ... Read More


“Love everyone,” Ram Dass said, guiding us in the final meditation of the 8th annual Open Your Heart in Paradise retreat, where I found myself last December literally at the feet of my guru in a thatched hut — among 350 other attendees blessed out in the Maui heat. (It was a rather large thatched hut).

By then, I couldn’t stop crying. In fact, as soon as I secured travel plans, the mere thought of eye contact with the legendary Ram Dass sprouted tears. I didn’t think much about it at the time, aside from the obvious: Being in the presence of unconditional love brings out the verklempt in a Jewish girl, especially given said Jewish girl was brought up by a Jewish mother in Los Angeles, where unconditional love, or love of any kind, was more of a sport.

Nonetheless, that sport ultimately did lead me to a particular pack of Hind-Jews and Bu-Jews, and then, literally to the feet of king Hind-Jew, so in that regard I am endlessly grateful for my upbringing, for following the clich├ęd path of my “unlovable” Jewish elders straight into the arms of Ram Dass.

The retreat was tropical perfection, what with daily yoga, meditation, dharma talks, vegetarian meals, kirtan, unbearably beautiful tropics, with ample lagoon and cliff to explore; the days were a welcome routine into being, away from the homeland of doing and I luxuriated in the stillness.

And everyone was there. I mean everyone: Ram Dass, Krishna Das, Sharon Salzberg, Jai Uttal, Mirabai Bush, along with a handful of other Das’s I didn’t know, who were all basically saying the same thing: do your spiritual practice, avoid getting caught up in the drama, and love everyone. Or do the best you can.

Ram Dass, among those I am eternally grateful for showing me the path of love, spent the majority of the retreat gazing dreamily at the attendees below, telling us in his predictable cadence, “I…Love…You,” reminding us that we are all “souls,” an image I could glimpse and embody for exactly one second: an entire room full of sunflowers, smiley-faced yolks waving in the wind, an endless field of golden warm at his feet.

“Love Everyone,” Ram Dass repeated, as he is known to do, just as we devotees are accustomed to hanging on the sweet vine of emptiness that bridges one word to the next. “Love Everyone,” he says again. “Even terrible you.”

By then I’d been crying for good reason, but “terrible” me? He’s not supposed to know; while I’m well aware that my own sense of terribleness is an outdated story I needlessly carry, it’s still a private matter, between me and my shame! And when I have a chance to ask about it, standing face-to-face, in passing, I am speechless. I can’t talk to the man, to whom I want to tell everything. All I can do is lean into him, cry and babble an awkward “thank you, Ram Dass,” before running out of the room. A knowing attendee looks at me and nods, offers a hug. Guess what? I cry into her arms.

Later when I ask author Parvati Markus about the relentless tears — which she references in her new book Love Everyone, a compilation of stories told by Westerners transformed by hanging out with the famed Indian Saint, Neem Karoli Baba (Maharajii), in the ’60s and ’70s, (without whom none of this “loving everyone,” heart opening in Hawaii would be possible) — as having a lot to do with “bringing out the darkness,” I figure there has to be more to it than that.

But her answer back is brief: Recalling her experience with Maharajii, she says, “Many of those tears were from an overflowing heart opening wide, while others were from seeing your own shit.”

What? I wanted the tears to be about enlightenment.

But I know she’s right. I know that sitting so close to love so pure elicits a relief so humongous it is almost too much to bear and the “dark” is how little of that love I am able to take in. Because I came all this way and darn, it’s too much. And even though I get that the whole point is to recognize that transmission of love from a universe that, when in wise mind, is all “souls,” I berate myself for coming all this way to open my heart and I cannot.

I know I can try again, to be with unconditional love that is all around; I can try with the trees, with my boyfriend, with my breath, my Durga, my son, my friends, my enemies, and by golly, myself, for I, too, am a “soul,” but by then I’m way too up in my head and I can neither let the love in…nor out. I come home in a funk.

I stopped meditating. Who was I kidding going to Hawaii to see Ram Dass? I became careless and shut down. And then the holidays. And the real dark: One morning rushing to take my son downtown to see Santa, I snapped at him and he retreated into his room, hurt. Then I beat myself up about it with guilt, and carried on like that until I happened to randomly catch sight of my little cheap plastic smiling Buddha, laughing on my altar. He was smiling at me. He didn’t care.

And then I thought back to Ram Dass and “terrible, terrible, me” and I realized that even when I turned on myself, he didn’t care. He still loved me and always would. I suppose it might have been a Jesus moment if that were my religion of origin, but the point was clear: Buddha (Jesus, Ram Dass, Baba — who have you) loved me no matter what.

Eventually I wiped away my tears and went to the den where my son was laughing, watching Sponge Bob.

“Still wanna go see Santa, honey?”

He nodded enthusiastically, zipped off the set.

Tentatively I made my way beside him on the couch. He let me. I outstretched a hand.

“Sorry I yelled at you, honey… I –”

“Whatever, Mama. Let’s go.”

Apparently he didn’t think I was so terrible either.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Spending days, spending words

You know how every once in a while you hear something that you already know, but someone says it in a way that you didn't realize you knew it, even though you already knew it, and it suddenly makes even more sense than you thought it did and you realize you never really knew it, even though you already knew it? 

Sure you do. 

That's one of the reasons why we write together... because someone says it for you in exactly the right way at the right time. What used to be fuzzy or underdeveloped or not yet even verbally formed (as in the photo above), is suddenly brilliantly alive.

For me it was, Annie Dillard, who I haven't thought of since Evergreen in the early 90s when we read "An American Childhood," whose words reappeared for me last Friday (though this time from "The Writing Life") in a coloring book gifted to me by a dear student, swimming opposite page of a color-hungry outline of dolphin. Can't see it? Okay... Let me help... get ready: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."


And not to steal credit where credit is so obviously due, thank you so much Annie Dillard, but I might add, "how we write is, of course, how we spend our lives." Do we over think? Do we under think? Care too much about the little things? Worry? Laugh? Care what others think? Get lost with no sense of time? Lose ourselves? Fret? Love?

Writing as we know, can be so much about the process. 

How do you spend your time writing? Your days? How do you write your days?

Is Annie right? Is there another quote you heard recently that tilted the frame back into alignment for you? Helped you remember?

Of course it happens every week here at the Beach as we remember, reawaken, and so much more when we write together. Thank you writers, thank you readers. I'm happy to say, of course, thanks to you, that I spend a good portion of my days in gratitude.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Passing Notes

This time of year, like you, I go through the old stuff, amazed at what I hang onto. I'm not sure how it works, but suddenly all the old stuff starts to look really old, stale, dead on the vine, and I know it's time to let it go. I wonder how some of these things ever had a place in my life, so un-me to me they suddenly appear. 

I easily toss the usual suspects:  shirts, shorts, pants (lowrise? wtf?), butter, past "good" date meds, creams, hair products; magazines, cds, jackets, shoes I never ever wore nor ever will, cleaning products, Christmas lights, tupperware, cables, chords, and wires which attach to who knows what device or decade, water bottles, empty file folders, yoga pants, yoga tops, cat toys (I have no cat, but just in case one should drop by...), pennies,  baby toys, catalogues, twist ties, chopsticks, flip-flops, tea, canvas/grocery bags, frozen food, etc.

What's harder: Sheets, blankets, books, pillows, shoes from Schueller's I still haven't worn, cute lone socks for which I am certain there is a mate somewhere, voicemails, emails, to-do lists, "memorable" canvas bags/t-shirts from events, cute wool socks or sweaters, even though I can no longer wear wool, etc.

What's impossible: Anything Jude creates or comes into contact with—a drawing, a note that says "open the door," stuffed animals,  a paperclip that he's bent into the shape of the letter L, clothes that are too small and now useless—as well as anything he has given me, right down to the drawings mostly drawn by his preschool teachers, where it is impossible not to spot his one contribution in the single slash of an orange crayon milling around the otherwise too orderly page. Can't do without that, now can I?

And then there's the category of handwritten notes, one which I never actually consider categorizing as toss, save, deal with later, or anything. Notes, simply are. Like air, earth, fire, water, yoga, breath: it is what it is. They don't go through the filter of thought and decision, notes don't; they just stay. Most of you have seen my bathroom and know what I'm talking about: the walls are wallpapered with handwritten notes to accompany the ones inked into the walls. Notes also dot my cabinets and bookshelves: "Thanks Rox! Hi Rox!  Here's $50! See you soon!" All in glorious shades of post-its, accompanied by hearts, smilies, ellipses... The goldmine of notes are the ones on loose leaf, sometimes accompanied by a stick figure drawing, notably the ones by Too Cute of his dog-self in profile with deadpan loyalty. But even a simple note from a stranger taped to a check for a workshop that illegibly scrawls: "See you March 8th!" signed by unknown is a keeper without question.

Oddly, I suppose texts fall into the same category. I rarely toss them, but then again, that could be laziness. But I suppose it all comes down to that old thing about human expression, the need to write it down, the need to relate to one another,  the simple, organic need for reciprocity in the human condition— to hear and be heard, touch and be touched,  see and be seen, giving and receiving, the same way we breathe in, breathe out. And to see the trace of humanity in the artistry of a handwritten note, each letter of each word containing its own unique beauty and vibration, an artful message in itself, long before the contents line up to "make sense" in the conventional way.

Or perhaps notes are a crucial reminder of life in this age of stuff, where "we" all to often get buried and flattened beneath the dull death of our clutter that "we" can never get rid of, so duped are "we" into believing that our stuff with its many nostalgic and promising portals to the past and future are the only things that can save us.

Write with me! Do you save handwritten notes? Do you write them? What do they mean or not mean to you?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What I saw ( and what saw me )walking this early afternoon on a most unusually warm autumn afternoon in Minneapolis just off Lyndale

Two turtles
A white tailed deer, looking at me
A Gartner snake swirl and stop in the dry leaves
 a Robin
Inside the onyx eye of the Gartner snake, glossy, murky, but a portal
A man dressed in bright orange shirt, watching me watch the snake, then kneeling beside me to watch beside me
Other humans watching the water closely
A school of teeny tiny fish near the sunny surface, en mase, a giant fist
One of those teeny black fish jumping out with all the arc and grace of a dolphin, one one millionth it's size
The manifestation of footsteps
Two upward climbing black spotted woodpeckers, bearing no resemblance to woody
A lone baby duck, mid lake, encased in its on water ring. Rippling out and out and out until it became a wave
Many sleeping ducks
The white tailed deer running along the fence
A red dragon fly
Mid aged women wearing work out gear and new tennis shoes
A businessman on a bench in the sun, texting, smiling, earphones on
A baby Robin
Back to that baby duck, perhaps  the  most moving thing of all and how that baby ring was so perfectly circular in the middle of the lake, a perfection we cannot replicate but at times try so hard that we miss it when it shows itself so purely and vulnerable asking nothing of us, not even ever
My other younger self missing all of this, too afraid to make eye contact with the unknown
My thirty year old self running quickly through all this, too fast to see this
All of this seeing me
My love
My soft edges
And yours
A duck waddle onto the dock. Hop off the dock, waddle toward me, smile, quack and waddle away back to the dock upon which he hopped before jumping back into the water
Really seeing a duck waddle for the first time
A man with a professional looking camera
Endless gifts given when we stop and be, not so much as waiting, but receiving
My gratitude
The endlessly clear rooted path my breath both carves and follows before me, behind and beneath me
And how the breath is root and tunnel and the portal to all things
The endearment of my striving thoughts
My truth
An airplane that I mistake for an egrit
A group of autistic kids crossing the wooden bridge over water, passing me mid bridge
A gnat in my peripheral vision, too close
The wings of something large
And two bluebirds

Monday, June 22, 2015

Writing with Rox WEEKLY—Way of the Peaceful Writer

"The inability to keep up, combined with the inability to slow down, and feeling inadequate either way -- that's the Millennium, baby."

And speaking of time and where I've been, does this resonate as much with you as it does with me? But more on the brilliant Michael Ventura in a moment.

When I was about 15, my best friend Kenny lent me his new copy of Dan Millman's Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which, as promised, did change my life, perhaps the first masked self-help book I ever read, declaring itself on the front cover to be "a book that changes lives." Glancing Millman's webpage today makes this point glaringly obvious. 

Then again, as I write this, I realize that's what most memoirs are: self-help in disguise. Heck, most everything written ever could be viewed as such—for better or for worse; isn't everyone vying for a spot to change someone's life? To be seen and heard and taken seriously enough to have a meaningful impact on another?

Now, 30 years later, comes along the movie, that also guarantees to "change lives," which I refused to see until recently, well knowing it would only change my life for the worse. Well. Let's just say it wasn't as good as the book (duh), but it didn't entirely suck either, likely because it had one of my old heartthrobs in it (no, not Scott Mechlowicz). 

I don't remember much about the Hollywood interpretation of this magnificent book, and in all fairness, it's hard to translate one's inner journey to the screen without putting your typical Hollywood, movie-goer (adrenaline, drama, thrill-seeking) to sleep. But, what does stand out is the scene where Nick Nolte (older guru type) points out to Scott Mechlowicz (young Dan, egomaniacal, thrill seeking, hot young college type) that there is "a lot going on" all the time if you choose to wake up and notice it. Apparently, young Dan is disgruntled with his young life, complains that he is bored, ("There's nothing going on!") which is a spiritual assault to his older, wiser new Buddha friend. 

The camera (ah, the camera!) then goes into slo, slo, triple slo-mo and pans across the perfect Berkley campus landscape, pausing to zoom right in and illustrate all the "goings ons," both internal and external: Students necking. A ladybug crawling on a leaf. A man studying a text book. The clouds. Friends laughing. Jovial hacky-sacing. A long, flat, cloud striped sky. The shining sun. Someone in deep thought. A Golden Retriever mid-air, catching a frisbee. A furrowed brow. A screaming toddler. Blood pumping through veins. Motorcycle reving.

There's a lot going on. All the time.

Of course this led me to write about the inchworm that Jude spotted (those youthful eyes!) on the way home from the bus stop a couple weeks ago, inviting us to stoop down and squat ourselves on the summer sidewalk and do nothing but devote ourselves fully and entirely to watching this keylime green half-inch inchworm expand and contract across the concrete en serious route to the lawn. Of course this led immediately to a craving to blow bubbles, those huge ones that roll down big green hills in their own time, an excuse to stop and watch, give myself fully to the pace of sanity.   

I gave as much time as I had, never enough, to the whole debacle of wanting to slow down, caught between the sweet allure of slowing down, mindfulness, not being bullied into rushing and the reality of the pace outside my window. All of this led me back to one of my favorite articles of all time, wherein lies one of the best quotes I ever read that sums all of it up—everything there ever was or is about anything—perfectly so why bother writing any of it? 

And it is this, what Michael Ventura says so much more eloquently in his article "Millenial Nudity": 

 "'Am I going too fast for you?'" is now a common phrase. People and nanoseconds going too fast for you -- that's the Millennium. Trying to keep up with people going too fast for you is also the Millennium. The inability to slow down is the Millennium. The inability to keep up, combined with the inability to slow down, and feeling inadequate either way -- that's the Millennium, baby."

In the meantime, I'll be slowing waaaay down up North for a while. I'll be back; I always am. In fact, I'm never really gone now am I? 

Happy summer everyone! Hope to write with you again real soon and please, please, don't forget to write!!!

What do you do to slow down?  
What slows you down? 
What is your relationship to slowing down?