Category Archives: Thematic

Cults and Memories

The past, mothers, religion, improv, and relationships are coming up a lot lately in a mesh of memories and reminders. Relationships are challenging when you have depression and social anxiety. Flashes of memories or just the feelings from the past can sweep over you when triggered and your mind is confused but your body is set in the reaction to something years long gone.
My family was very religious, restrictive, and poor. Unlike some of my siblings, I did not do home schooling at any point. I attended private religious schools. However, I was expected to follow my parents rules of dress, behavior, music, work, speech, and life and not participate in most of what my fellows at school did. Simultaneously being told I needed to be more open and friendly because I was shy and felt isolated from others I was expected not to integrate or enjoy the things they did. My clothes were a source of mockery, along with my speech impediments and that I wasn’t allowed the entertainments those around me shared.

I am a reader. I always have been a reader. But my choice of books was highly restricted. I read everything I was allowed multiple times, even the encyclopedias and dictionaries. But once my options opened when I left their home, I realized that despite the apparent attempts at a good education I was woefully lacking in knowledge, experience, and variety. I began to read a wide variety of books and materials and continue that to this day.

Each incident at school was the start of a chain of emotional events and trouble I knew to expect. In many ways, the expectation was worse than the series of punishments. The schools had orders to use swats for any offence they felt worthy, which is broad and covers most things including failing to turn in homework I completed but didn’t give them. I would ace a test and go to receive my swats for not doing the homework to prepare for the test I aced. Walking dejectedly to the office I knew it was only the first because when I got home I would would get a lecture separately from each parent and swats again from one of them.

Rarely did I do anything truly deserving of punishment because I had a very clear understanding of the consequence and reward ratio. I felt I had a hard enough time without adding extra issues for limited reward. Of course, that means when I did choose to do something the punishment was fairly pointless because I knew what it would be and chose to act anyway. I had already determined the risk to reward ratio was in my favor.

The lives around me were like another world to me that I watched from a distance without relating or fully understanding. From the girl whos parents dropped of hundreds for her to go shopping in the mall alone after school or to take her friends out to the kids sharing the newest dance moves in the halls I could not participate. I was quiet, shy, and introverted and places like a shared locker room were a terrifying thought. Numerous times I opted to accept detention for changing in the nearby restroom rather than endure mockery and embarrassment in the locker room. I also had it drilled into me not to undress in front of others so a locker room was a problem.

Conversations were hard because we shared nothing in common other than classes and those were mostly boring and too easy so I didn’t really pay attention. At some point there was always the risk conversation would veer toward my mother and her cancer, which was not something I wanted to discuss. Religious people would imply either that they were praying which was obviously not working or that if she actually had faith she would not be sick. The added issue that she was a test patient because we couldn’t afford treatment much less any extras or luxuries. I absolutely was unwilling to discuss where the food on our table came from because that was a mockery I knew I could not handle. How do you feed 7-10 people on $20 a week, sometimes more, sometimes less? The poor ladies of the church had a list of stores that discarded usable food and mom had an agreement to collect discarded vegetables for the horse. We sorted through the horses vegetables to see what could go on the tale first.

Many times I remember sitting in a parking lot while my mother composed herself or cried in the one place no one could see. After a horrifyingly degrading day trying to meet the needs of the family or accepting charity she would go home to dad’s anger and screaming rants about anything and everything. She would go home to 2 children in constant medical car and her own terrifying medical care. She would go home to the holes in the floor and walls and the car held together by duct ape and wood. She would go home to watch me cower from dad’s anger and my brothers acting out. Failing that we would go to church, where we spent more evening than not to be told how we were all sinners and needed to give more, do more, be more, bring in more people, and earn a place. We went to the church where I was yet again alone and mocked and here knew the question of my families lack of faith and why they were poor and sick would come up. I knew there would be taunts and often physical confrontation. These happened at school but more consistently at the churches.

Each service I listened then as mom taught me I went home and studied. I read their books and teachings. These always led to questions that if I asked someone other than my parents resulted in something to the effect of me being a girl child that should learn my place and be silent and do as I was told. Years of memorization and reading led me to no other conclusion than the religion was a compounded grouping of modifications stolen from older teachings and chosen by various leaders in the worst periods of history to best control, dominate, and instill fear. It is a religion based on fear and control. It is a religion that teaches the only reason to be a good person is to avoid punishment not because it is right. Each test of the history I was taught led to the inescapable conclusion they had manipulated the teaching to show a lie and manipulate the views of the children they took into their care.

What I saw from the outside was a cult that manipulated participants to view the world through a filter and with careful blinders. They were trying for the isolation of those in the retreats but in the city so they could better raw more people.

My mother was a brilliant and strong woman trapped in a world that treated women as a lower level being. She did all the work for a doctorate but was denied the degree because she was a woman at a baptist college. She was a writer and a researcher by nature, a leader and communicator but denied the right to lead, teach, research, or speak freely. The man was the head of the household and the wife was expected to follow him, obey him, accept his behavior, and not question or attempt to teach men. With permission a woman could teach other women or children but that would be shut down if they questioned her teachings or behavior outside class. Children were under her rule but punishments were the prerogative of the man, as were the rules she was to teach. Girls were expected to be obedient, submissive, silent, and learn the proper behaviors of a good wife. I refused to learn any wifely duties at every step, only many years later learning some of them were fun skills when used for your own pleasure or business rather than in service to a master.
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Abecedarian Collection

This first one can also be seen on Writers digest in the forum https://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/abecedarian
Writing our Minds (A Poem in 27 Lines)
Abnormalities are the normal place for writers who
Began their path through experiences and stories.
Cars provide a private space to tell a story to yourself
Doing nothing but the composting of the writing process.
Eaters of experience we reach
Frankly for the reality of the world
Going inside our minds and stories to find the
Hero that can touch our heart and expand our world.
Indigo or blue we wonder as we debate our use of
Jargonistic phrases and obscure terms.
Kelp waves gently under the surface of the ocean like our stories.
Limbs on a tree reach for the sun and we see
Money and industry, life and lovers, history and future
Naively seeing the tree and all that happens under it like an
Orifice opening to show us glimpses of life with pains and
Paeans that ring out in our minds both loud and
Quiet in their passion.
Radicals and racists
Sadly showed their violence in those branches.
Tall in the night the tree remembers lovers sprawled
Under the sheltering canopy of leaves.
Vassals shared their meals under these branches.
Wind blew across teachers and students in the afternoon sun.
Xenophyles, we reach across the world through the leaves of a tree.
Yielding ourselves to the stories told in the wind and the bark we
Zone out of reality and into our pen.

The Bus to Work

Around 6 am I leave my room and catch a
Bus rattling and jerking its passengers to their jobs and homes.
Casual observers see people bored and irritated
Deep in their own spaces, phones, needs, and fears.
Examination shows otherwise.
Friendships are made on the bus.
Groups share space each day of their lives.
Haphazard groupings linked by shared routs.
Individuals that know the daily habits and patterns of the others.
Just as they know idiosyncrasies and dreams of their bus rout companions.
Kindness to strangers vies with the need for distance in confined space.
Languid tourists join the groups in passing and roll luggage down the aisle.
Mild mannered introverts read or watch the city pass.
Noisy extroverts converse across the aisle and over the seats.
Obvious homeless clutch their possession and warily watch
People passing too close for their comfort.
Quickly passing stops keep the flow of conversation new and fresh.
Respect for personal space varies by need as the bus fills.
Strangers stand shoulder to shoulder and smile awkwardly.
Tense individuals try for isolated seats and physical barriers.
Unnecessary anger surges when paranoia threatens.
Very patient strangers step in to sooth or eject ruffled emotions.
Wide gaps of experience and lives interact in a tourist city bus.
Xylocarp smells waft from lotions, lunches, drinks, and grocery bags.
Yes, the bus is a microcosm of society interacting and living together.
Zonal interactions confined to a movable space within society.
2019
Analysis
Becomes
Cultural
Dissonance.
Empty
Fabricated
Geoeconomics
Hurl
Intoxicating
Justifications.
Kneejerk
Lies
Manipulating
Nakedly
Opportunistic
People
Quickly
Retelling
Stories.
Tenuous
Unrelenting
Victimization
Worsens
Xenophobic
Yearning
Zealots.

Tea at 1024 Nuuanu

Teacups all around me in rows, in stacks, and in random groups. Cups, saucers, teapots of all sizes teeter and sit. Music, not exactly quiet but that feels quiet and helps mask the sounds of others around me. I feel alone in a small teashop waiting for slow steep tea and an afternoon teatray.
Flowers, hats, and patterned teacups surround me in a soothing comfort like Alice falling gently down the rabbit hole. Some are tied to their saucers to keep them together, like they might run away or leap off the shelf. One set is a saucer and small teapot with no cup. It reminds me of the women with saucers of tea in historic novels rather than cups of tea because it cooled quickly with no unmannerly blowing. An orange pot pops out at the eye in front of a jar of shells. A tray of blue and yellow teabags perches behind a music stand, slightly masking a set of tiny tins. Clear glass teapots rise in an acceding row on an old sewing machine. On the top shelf one pot perches precariously on the handle of another.
I ordered the vegetarian afternoon tea. An adorable tea timer with three sand clocks to determine strength arrives right before a fresh salad in a teacup. After that, hte tray of bite sized bits lands in front of me and each piece is new flavor. Each thing was excellent and perfectly balanced with the others. The rich, creamy chocolate in a thick layer on a chocolate brownie is two bites of chocolate bliss. Perfectly spiced jackfruit in a fresh wrap is a bright tasting bite of pleasure countered by one of the 2 tiny scones with clotted cream.
Because I came late, the lavender scone is slightly stiff but the flavor is good and the cream softens it. The tray is set perfectly to alternate one savory to one sweet until done. Music, mostly instrumental opera soothes the experience. Friendly staff tries hard to keep up with the busy flow of people that enter and settle in for a long tea. I watch them setting up a tea party and greeting guests both planned and unplanned as I enjoy my tea.
Creamy kimchee bites are a surprise for a tea tray but are a fine counter to the sweet bites. It is creamy and flavorful but gentle and sits well. Each piece on the tray is two to three bites and all quite different from each other.
A creepy antique porcelain doll in a crochet dress looks down on my table. Soft fuzzy, sheep like chairs cushion me. Beaming little girls look wide eyed at all the cups, pots, hats, and accessories. A flash of bright blue eucalyptus stands tall on the top shelf.
My host was unwilling to serve inferior tea and recommended I alter my selection because upon review they had a bad batch of my first choice. Their attention to detail is part of the experience. You choose your cup and a hat and sit inside or out to have tea alone or with companions. They don’t intrude but are there to keep things flowing. When I finished my tea she refilled it with more water to re-steep the leaves.

A tall wicker dress form stands elegant by the eucalyptus, reaching for the ceiling. Butterfly wings hide in the next room. Tall silver candlesticks hold large pillars of white on the top shelf I see through the window into the next room.
The sweet clotted cream flavor lingers soothing my pallet as I take in my surroundings. A precariously tilted tray of stacked cups, saucers, and pots stand secure beside a running girl in blue. Glints of glass and silver sparkle around me. I can almost hear the dormouse in the large blue and white teapot. My red pot is as round as the queen’s skirts beside my sleek white cup with swirls like the white queen twirling and swishing away. One tiny tea set stands on a tiny cake stand that would hold a mini cupcake.
The berry cheesecake bowl like a tiny trifle and the storybook chocolate brownie square that is half creamy rich chocolate sit in my memory and taste buds as a girl in her pink hat counts teapots in the throne like window seat. I sit and enjoy a second pot of tea to settle my snacks and sweets.

At the back of the restaurant a door opens to a very Victorian hall comprising the passage to the restrooms, the stairwell, the entry to the kitchens, the doorway to the courtyard seating, and a couple work areas in the back. In the bathroom, tiny tiles sit under your feet as you stand at the old, low sinks that are from another time.This place is a quiet retreat from modern reality with soothing tea, foods, and simple environment.

https://www.teaat1024.net/

Balance of Justice

As with every other thing that has come up recently in need of evaluation, meditation, consideration, action, or writing I find everything I read this week is tending toward justice, balance, and how relationships fare within. The recuring theme has been one of the need and requirement for balance for there to be justice and the imposition of justice. News has stories on the topic. Public demonstrations demand justice and a more balanced approach to issues. One book talks about a created entity enforcing justice but failing to head the balance and the destruction it causes. Another focuses on a god that renders justice when no other justice is availible or done and that requires a balance in his judgments. Another talked briefly about the historical divine female justice. As I meditate and try to settle my mind and emotions to know what to speak and how to act in the strugles in my own life I find myself wanting justice. Balance has always been a prime goal in my life but I fear I have of late lost that balance and cannot clearly see what balance would be justice.
What is justice in a relationship? It justice what we want in a relationship? Without it accountability is questioned and trust is eroded when there is need for it. Balance becomes a critical part of the equation when you are talking personal level issues. But no portion of our life is lived in a vacume and each impacts not only each other but our emotions, thoughts, and ability to deal with the others. Stress with friends and stress at work make home life more difficult. Add in that home life may be seperate from the relationship issues and there is another layer of question. Can you evaluate the balance of justice when you are in the middle of the maelstrom?

I speak of living alone, far from any frineds and from my husband but in truth I rent a room sharing an apartment with four other women. I am never really alone. My space is a room that shares walls with my neighbors. My work is a desk open to all and with a camera on me at all times. My volunteer hours are spent across the window from the supervisor. I travel the city on a crowded bus. I meditate in a group. I write in a group. I swim on beached full of locals and tourists. I game in a group. I share my kitchen and every space I live in with strangers. The distance often feels greater because so many strangers are always so close to hand. No one close to me is close to me. If I returned today to Texas this would not improve however. I would have space but I would have no more close companions. Family is a distant thing without my mother and marriage is a strange uncertainty hovering above an ocean we have yet to cross.
When you give up everything in your life to move to a new and uncertain life you act on a choice to accept uncertainty and lonliness for at least a time. When you do so in a relationship but find yourself alone anyway it is a difference of gradiation. How many times do you let someone hurt you before you step away? Do you let them prove they can change if they make it clear they are opposed to people changing and don’t believe people can change? How do balance and justice affect the situation? When fear has stalked you for years it becomes the overriding sense of the world. Every action is tinged with the fear that it will be the one to cost you something critical from job or home to friend or husband. Sometimes you fight to protect those things even though they are already lost because you can’t accept the loss of another thing.

But by the same token has the fear colored your judgment of things so you cannot make a balanced judgment? Stess wears you down and damages your health. After a while you are tired, sore, sick, and afraid all the time and reaching out of it alone becomes a Herculean effort that becomes almost sisepheyan. Doing so alone, without even friends is something I would not wish on anyone. I am not the type to wish ill on others anyway as that is against my sense of balance and peace. I have for some years now striven to live in the balanced and clear understanding of Buddhism. Though I did not entirely give up my Child of the Trickster place it took some time to understand that the same balance is required for both. It is not contraditory to be a pacifist that will fight to protect what is right in the same way as it is not contraditory to stand with the chaotic trickster and be a voice of peace and balance from them. The trickster has always served the good of humanity and balance over the rules and other gods. Knowing yourself and touching the divine spirit it part of the path. But what of justice and depression?
The idea of depression on either path has always been a problem for me. For a long time it made me more depressed because I was sure it was wrong to be depressed and be on this path. But at some point in my meditations I realized that it just is. It isn’t right or wrong or something to do with me but it is just depression. Depression can be a physical thing that needs addressing. Which I have, admittidly not had checked. It can also be a response to stimuli and this will abate when the stimuli does. In truth both external and internal, they are both stimuli and can be addressed not as a personal flaw and internal identification but rather as a state that must be acknowledged and seen for what it actually is not for the excess impacts it causes.
So too, justice is not my choice and action. I have no control of those things. I can act with equinamity and balance and maintain justice in myself but I cannot control others and their impacts on the world. I can see their impact on me and what is my response but I cannot change their action. I can choose to exclude them from my sphere of influence and I can withdraw my trust from them but I cannot make them act as if my path is theirs. But can we have a relationship with those of a drastically different path? In some cases yes. and in others less so.

remembering that enlightenment is a moment to moment thing and not a permenant state of being helps. I am not striving to be in the perfect state, I am balancing myself in this moment. I am aware of now and of life and am striving to reach the state of peace and calm acceptance I remember from what feels like a great distance. It is the point I have for reference at this time. It seems like so long ago I moved off my path and lost that balance but that I still know the feeling tells me it is not out of reach. But also it tells me that depression is a moment to moment thing as well. I do not need to be confused by the drastically different feelings or thoughts that come across me because all things are moment to moment. We do not live in tomorow or yesterday, in this evening or morning but we live in now. If I can accept that at this moment tears threaten to spill and accept in another moment that rage consumes me then I can accept those moments I am at peace just the same. Why does it seem harder to accept the reality of those moments and allow them to be without analysis and disruption? Is there something in all of us that rejects that or is it the fear and depression? I think it is a lot of things wrapped into our ego trying to maintain control however destructive the path it pushes us onto.

Connection

It seems every time I write lately what I write about comes up in what I read the next day and what I read about comes up in the talks at meditation. Not the topic and action that I start on, the deeper parts.
Today I wrote about a moment that changed everything. The story meandered through the past and the memories of my husband and moments of impact.

It ended with a thought about his calm acceptance of what everyone sees as my sudden decisions. I was trying at one point to explain how they aren’t really sudden even if they are. After leaving the Lanai to catch the bus home I went back to reading.

The chapter I read was The Third Thing. It talks about this very topic. That when you are torn between two things you need a third thing. Two things is not a choice. But a third will come and balance things out, offering the way forward. It appears sudden but it is the culmination of the process that the two things created.

my first meditation session with this group they talked about dealing with intense emotions and sadness. I cried on the way there and going to sleep for several nights before.
The next time we talked about what is and the whole talk meshed into what I read the days before. I had been reading Writing Down the Bones. The idea of using writing meditation as a path to not following the thoughts and emotions when sitting meshed interestingly into the talk about sitting.
The last thing I read before one session was that a well that dashes about cannot draw water. We cannot do happiness, it flows through us in our stillness. I was a few minutes late and sat in stillness with the group. She talked about ending suffering and sharing love. We talked about enlightenment being a moment to moment thing not a permanent state. The balance of mind, and the four keys. She talked about the calm acceptance of what comes that you feel in enlightenment.
Saturday we sat on the ridge through the day. I was at a crossroads in my mind and emotional state. I had one of those two choices that need a third way. I didn’t realize that is what I needed. But in stillness I found a moment of peace and acceptance of what is. it didn’t change the situation but it let me see what is and reach a new possibility.

I went to the meditation Sunday lonely and sad but more at peace. Leaving , when she hurried over, obviously she had somewhere to be she was putting off, to give me a flower it struck a light in me. I’m not alone even if I have no close connection here. We are all one and connected. It is enough.

I don’t know what now but I do know I will be here for it.

Just writing

Chill air from the AC feels like it is cooling my bones in my bare arms. The odd wavering drone of the long flat ceiling mounted unit above my head can be felt in my head where the pressure from the back of my neck is trying to produce a migraine. The first thing I do on arrival is reach
up and lift the vent to direct more of the air away from my desk. I didn’t move to Hawaii to be cold. Pulling on my hoodie the soft fuzzy interior brushes my arms lightly with a silky softness that doesn’t really match the heavy grey exterior. Staying on track when writing has been a challenge so I have started using the Shut Up and Write group as a place to do writing exercises and practice just writing or specific skills in writing. Some of them I post here, some of them I don’t. My primary goal write now is to write, and when that isn’t happening, to draw. I practice tones, descriptions, PoV, and styles. I practice topics, timing, speed, focus, freeform, and themes.
I get the exercises from writing magazines, talking to writers, reading books about writing or comments from writers, a few came from online. Some are hugely helpful, some just keep me writing. I am once again
building a collection of scenes and moments, thoughts and characters, lines and stories that are swirling in the back of my head trying to become a coherent story. Like Sir Pratchett talked about it is still like standing on a mountain looking across a valley and seeing only the highest peaks as you slowly lower the clouds and reveal more and more spots until the whole valley is cleared and coherent. I have a sense of it but it isn’t clear to my coherent mind yet.
The light in this room is adequate but dimmer than it seems. When you enter from good light you see the off tinted dingy feeling light that lends the old white walls a greater age than they have. Highlights in grey and tan increase this rather than combat the sense of tired efficiency. A quiet competence fills the space but radios and videos play here and there, competing for attention from a group that each has different interest and taste. A mix of rushed immediacy, detail specific, and relaxed tolerance pervades the workspace with a tension born of loose structure blending with OCD details. A need for a constant inflow of cash means an urgency touches everything and errors are a risk so the tolerance may be natural but it is pressed back out of necessity.
Doing more, being more places, being around more people, seeing more things – all of this feeds my writing. When I hide in a hole and see no one I can’t write. Writing for me is visceral in a way that requires experience and sensation. The feel of the sun as I walked down the hill from my car to the office at the garden was a pure experience that inspired a myriad of sensations and thoughts, memories and questions. Watching the people swarm at the intersections in Waikiki with their chattering noise and bright colors like
plumage of birds on display inspires amusement, observation, stories, loneliness, comfort, anxiety, and memories. The birds diving out of the tree for bugs in quick short swoops reminds me of the kittens learning to hunt and the bees moving between flowers. Each thing is a host of trains and streams of consciousness that arise from the scent, the sound, the colors, the pattern, the words, and
the moment.

Meditation Series – part 5: development of a practice.

Meditation practice is a staged development, that flows and fluctuates with our inner self.
You first focus on awareness, focus, the positioning of the body, and calming the mind. You are developing the receptivity to seeing inside and the peace to sit in calm awareness and quiet.

Next, you will reach the stage of introversion where you can view your self, your emotions, your fears, your doubts, memories, and internal connections. These can be re framed in a different perspective of the same, to change your response. The act of acknowledging these things changes them. Simply having the receptivity to see them as they are and not as you want or fear to see them, changes how they affect you. You practice letting them go in meditation and you will see the root of them.

Next, is the subconscious states that are the true beginning of meditation. This is where you begin to truly touch the subconscious mind, the energy, and the knowledge. This is where you move toward the goals of self-realization, transcendence, enlightenment, and bliss.
You start your practice in non-threatening, quiet, controlled settings to develop the foundation that allows you to delve into other forms of meditation and to take those you do to new levels and methods. You will be distracted, you will think of other things, you will have that annoying itch, you will want something to listen to. The practice of silence (even if it is only one of the forms you use) will help you learn to let them go. Experience them, acknowledge them, but do not dwell on them, fight them, or have emotions about them. That is why you start with a focus, whether it is a physical thing like the flame, a word, a thought like compassion, or an action like breathing.

We have through this series used a lot of terms and names you may not know offhand but you will find as you research that many forms of meditation have multiple names. Partially this is because the same form may come from multiple cultures and thus the names and even translations may vary. Also, we continue to develop new names as branches continue and branch again into new varieties of the same basic form.
Open monitoring for instance is a term I only heard recently because there are so many other names for the same thing. This is the silent observation forms where you are simply present and fully aware and immersed in the moment and what is. Most mindfulness meditations will fall into this type. Another example of this is Shikantaza from Japan. it is, like many in this group, a Zen based meditation.
Focused attention is another one but it is both fairly obvious and little different than the term I have used throughout, focused. Just like it sounds, these forms focus on something. The focus can be words, sounds, breath, an object, a point, or a body. You will also see this referred to as concentrative meditation. Mantra meditations such as transcendental meditation can be very helpful for focusing and clearing the mind. The specific mantras vary by form and culture and the tones tend to have very long histories and purpose. Those in the TM practice came out of the Vedic traditions.

There are some, like Vipessana (or in Tibetan rather than Sanskrit
lhagthong) that use aspects of both forms. Samatha is a form that also does but it is often today a paired form with Vipessana and you develop both together. The very long history of these forms leaves a lot of room for research and discussion about how they combine or don’t. “According to Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path.”” The early roots are Theravada but it ended in the 10th century and was revived in the 18th. The idea of open observation is to see all without interpretation, expectation, editing, self, or bias. You are seeing physical phenomenah such as breathing without engaging with it. It is not you, it simply is.
Vipassanā jhanas are stages describing the development of samatha. The four vipassanā jhanas are: one – explore the body/mind connection, nonduality; discover three characteristics. See these points in the presence of vitakka and vicara. two – in which the practice feels effortless, Vitaka and vicara disappear. three – piti/joy disappears leaving only happiness (sukha) and concentration. four – purity of mindfulness due to equanimity, leads to direct knowledge. Comfort disappears in seeing the dissolution of all phenomena. All phenomenon is seen as unstable, transient, and disenchanting. The desire of freedom.
Other methods that combine forms often combine an empty or open meditation with another form. Some examples are shambhala, loving-kindness, open awareness, analytic, mindfulness, dzogchen, and stabilizing. Chakra meditations probably fall in this group also.

Several forms use prayer bead such as those found in Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism.
Taoist meditations were heavilly influenced by Buddhism and like many of the others we discussed have a very long history. Ding is the concentrative form. It is also called intent concentration or perfect observation. Guan or observe is to obtain unity with the Dao. Cun is is a visualization tequnique to be present and increase longevity. Inward training of the qi through breathing tequnices are another form. The sit and forget form from the 3rd century is an empty form. Internal martial arts or neijia include qigong, neidan, taijiquan. The related meditation forms are quigong, zuochan, nd taijiqan.

Many faiths have forms that combine prayer and meditation such as the Catholic rosary. Judais, Bahai, and Islam each have a combination form that falls in this group.
Chakra meditation could take a post of their own and are something you should look into if you choose to practice meditation regularly. they are often incorporated into meditation practices and used with other types of meditation.

Meditation series part 4: Active meditation

Active Meditation is recommended for those with some experience with passive meditation. However, it can feel easier to those that have trouble with the extended passive meditations sessions. It will be effective on its own but a time of passive meditation should be combined with it for best results.
Quoting one source “Once the ego mind has quieted down after passive meditation, and you then shift into an active form of meditation, this is where you can truly harness the power of meditation for creating inner transformation and charging up with new energy.”

The first example many people will think of is the use of meditative yoga or walking. Other actions and work activities can be meditative: think of raking a zen garden. Any task you can drop into a meditative state while doing is appropriate.
All meditation trains your attention but active meditation can be a great help to those that have trouble with long periods of sitting or quiet. Although it is recommended as a later stage if it is needed to help train your mind, it is the right time.

Active meditations are used to develop a connection between mind and body, drawing your attention to breathing and making use of the adaptive network of the brain. As in passive meditation, active meditation will have distractions. Simply acknowledge them in general terms and let them pass. Do not try to make them go away or identify them, just let them go and focus on your breathing. This practice is one of the stages of developing full awareness and connection to all parts of the body and feeling every part of it.

The 4 types of meditative yoga are pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Research and try different yoga forms and activities when you are learning.

In active meditation, you are using some of the same principles as in a mindfulness meditation. Here it is with intent to engage all your senses in the focus. This is often aided in early stages by having an actual physical focus such as a sound, a flame, a bowl of water, something you can physically interact with and engage the senses to help train yourself. This is one of many reasons active meditation is not step one, but a physical focus can be used in active meditation.

Walking meditations: think of the Christian practices like James Way in Spain. Many people walk to clear their head or relieve stress. Time to walk at lunch can change the work day. At many jobs or schools I have used lunch as a time for some type of meditation to keep stress down. In Zen, walking meditation is called kinhin and is combined with extensive sitting meditation.

I prefer to do walking meditation outside but it can be done in an office or other room. You know meditation mazes, paths, and other things designed to focus you but you usually just walk, pause, breath, and be a part of only walking. Two forms are done. One is a clearing and open form that is less focus than empty. The one we are discussing here is clearing the mind by focusing on walking. Do not go on autopilot, that is why it helps during work. For 10 minutes be actively aware of the steps and breathing and nothing else.

Start by being aware of the major components of walking: the lifting of a foot; then the standing and slow movement of that foot forward; then the foot lands on the floor, feel it; feel the weight shift off that foot and how the foot begins to lift. Different forms focus on breathing, the movement itself, the sounds you cause, or other parts of the walking.
Work meditations include gardening or cleaning. Think of monks and the work they do. Working at a garden I hear many people talk about gardening and although they may or may not intend it that way, they use it as meditation. The practice is very similar to walking.

Art meditations: think of the zen doodles or free-form painting. Other activities include flower arranging (Ikebana), calligraphy (Shodō), and archery (Kyūdō). Really, you have no limitations in art meditation and the details vary. This is definitely one I recommend. Art is a release anyway so it’s a perfect outlet. I do free form sewing sometimes also and you can research this and try activities for years without exhausting the options. Some are open or empty mind to allow the art to express. Others are focused like the walking.
Dancing: think of Dhikr in Sufism, trance meditations, Mevlevi Dervish and Sama. I love dance meditation. Although I have not done it recently, it was my primary form for a long time. When I would dance, I was alone even in a crowd. The only thing that existed was dancing. Fully immersed in dance you find a completely different place of meditation than walking or working. My choice is the free form dance with music that you just do as it feels.

Exercise meditation can be any form of exercise but most the recognizable will be yoga or tai chi. Tai chi is also the first option most think of regarding martial meditation. This is another section that could be a series of books to itself do I recommend research and trying them. Even if you plan to practice alone, taking a class can really help you. You want to learn the forms enough that you are not thinking about them. You want to be able to meditate.
Again with meditative there are many forms that include both open and focused. Empty mind forms often use yoga. Focused forms are often guided or use equipment like weights, blocks, straps, muscle focus, or music. Your form must be right both for safety and to be most effective. Take the time and training to perfect your form and work up gradually from repeating a couple of perfect forms to more. Yoga, for instance is good for you and the learning time is stress relief itself.
As with all meditation, find what works for you and in your path. Research, experience, and think of you in the activities. The important point is a consistent and continuous practice that you do every day. A combination of types can give you a way to do that. In some jobs I did yoga at lunch and sitting forms at night. Other places I walked at lunch or meditated on the beach before work and did a water meditation after. What I need changes, what is available changes, time availability changes. It will grow easier to make time but start by working we within your schedule and altering it as little as possible. You are building a practice and it will develop.

Meditations Series part 3 – Short sessions and tea

Short sessions and mindfulness practices to help build your meditation skills. They are not a full practice in themselves but are a useful and helpful addition to life.
Quoting an article from Science News: “Zeidan likens the brief training the participants received to a kind of mental calisthenics that prepared their minds for cognitive activity.
“The simple process of focusing on the breath in a relaxed manner, in a way that teaches you to regulate your emotions by raising one’s awareness of mental processes as they’re happening is like working out a bicep, but you are doing it to your brain. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to release sensory events that would easily distract, whether it is your own thoughts or an external noise, in an emotion-regulating fashion. This can lead to better, more efficient performance on the intended task.””
There are a lot of brief exercises that can be done anywhere that are tools to help you learn the process and to help you with stress management.
One is Anchoring. Stop, breath, and feel your feet (remove shoes if you can.) Just feel whatever sensations they are feeling, feel them completely and move up through your lower body. This can be done sitting ,standing, walking, or riding.
Another is the many forms of simple breathing exercises that can help you with your breathing during longer meditation sessions. Some of them you count, some you just feel the breath. Most involve slowing the breathing to breath deep and even. One even uses a simple motion to focus you…run a finger slowly along the sides of the fingers on your other hand. Starting with the thumb, you breath in as you go up and out as you go down. If you pause to do this with both hands you have a decent moment of meditation that is small and contained enough to do in most offices.
One breathing exercise/mindfulness exercise came from a medical journal recommending it to doctors in a busy hospital. It uses a doorway because that is a natural passage from one metal space into another. Pause before opening the door. Stop walking, reach for the handle, close your eyes and take 1-3 deep breaths before you open the door.
Tea is my preferred choice to stop to focus and center. The practice of stopping for a few breaths to focus just on those breaths and clearing the mind and emotions can help settle you, prepare you, and maintain your self and peace. Pause before entering a room and be present and aware, breath and feel the door handle you are touching or the feeling of your feet on the ground. But, let’s be more specific, how do I use tea as a meditative practice?
A tea meditation starts when you enter the room or space you will prepare the tea. You slow down and do each thing with intent, mindfulness, and quiet. Think about the traditional tea ceremonies. This is the same idea. The full ritual continues through finishing the tea and cleaning up after. When you are busy at work, you may only have time to do it in 2 parts, one making the tea and for the first couple swallows, and again when you drink the last swallow and stop to clean the cup rather than just setting it aside. It can often be very worth it to stop and have a full cup of tea (or coffee if you can prepare it and have the same experience.)
The basis of most tea rituals is that you be aware that this moment is totally and completely unique, and will never come again as it is right now, you drink your tea with complete awareness and appreciation of the moment. It is a balance if internal and external. You are fully present and aware of the moment, of a guest if you have one, and of the ritual of preparing and drinking the tea. That is all you are doing and all you are focused on. For most ritual forms the process begins well before you heat water, as you prepare for tea, then boil the water, then steep the tea, pour the tea, breath the tea, taste the tea, and clean the cup and pot.
After preparation, pause. Be thankful and breath in the steam. consider the tea and how you came to have the tea and the moment to savor the tea. breathe until you are quiet and calm.  Drink the tea in small savoring sips, being mindful of the motions involved, the feel of the steam, the feel of the hot tea, the taste, the smell, every part of the experience. You are becoming a part of this experience only and for a brief time leaving all other parts of life aside. You are fully committing to this moment and knowing it is one moment and will not occur again and has not occurred before.
Both of these – tea and short sessions, are areas that you can find a lot of information on and I recommend you do. the short sessions especially are very personal, so try it until you find the ones for you.

Meditation series – part 2: Focus and Stillness

We started with some basic types and categories because, face it, most people…well Americans I know at least, need to categorize things to understand it. So lets dig into some of these and how they overlap. Because focused meditation is often recommended as a first place to work we will start there. Specifically lets look at the overlap between focused and open eye meditations and how they can help you develop your meditation practice. I love the forms of meditation that once you are confident in them you use in active and public places because they teach you peace within the chaos rather than your mind and body learning there is a place for peace and a place for chaos. The combination can be very helpful. A quiet space for meditation is highly recommended for your primary meditation space.
Visual meditation techniques like candle meditation are a great contemplative practice. They can help you develop the focus and ability to sit quietly and let go, so they are a good starting form for many people. They are so commonly used that there is a candle meditation in the Wii Fit Plus program. I have used a variety of candle meditations, including the Wii fit one that is an interesting start to someone with an inability to sit still and quiet for long periods. It is a great way to practice stillness since it measures motion by you sitting on the balance board. Lets look into the basics of a candle meditation.
Start by preparing the space. The preparation for a deep meditation is very important for most people and is in many forms we have learned from history.  For a deep meditation or a longer session the preparation helps ease you into it and is preparing you as much as it is preparing your space. It also allows you to control the environment and ensure limited distractions. You will want dim lighting, quiet, a place to sit quietly and comfortably upright, and space to set the candle approximately 2 feet in front of you. Keep some distance to protect your eyes from strain. Set the candle at eye level. Try to ensure there are no drafts. Drafts can distract you and they can flicker the flame. Some people use small LED, lights, or use some other focus in the same type of meditation. That may not be a candle meditation but it can be very similar. Water is a good example and can be done either in water or with a bowl of water as a focus.
Start with your eyes closed, focusing on your breathing. When your breath is calm, even, and you are ready, open your eyes and focus just above the wick. This is another stage of preparation and moving into the meditative state. Your breath is your focus here in most forms of meditation that do this. Breath deep and steady but don’t think of your breath as wrong or in need of correction. Just feel it, be a part of your breathing. You are slowing it but not fixing it.
Most forms have you go as long as possible between blinks and not rubbing your eyes. As you stare, allow the flame to occupy your mind and let any other thoughts or feelings pass. Again, do not correct or chastise yourself just let them pass. You are acknowledging their presence and letting them go by focusing on the flame, not discarding them or disapproving. The flame, water, or other focus is simply the object of attention and the space your in. This is a good early form of meditation precisely because of that focus point that helps train your mind to let things go. This is a way to learn the clearness of mind, the focused mind, the stillness of body and mind, and the quiet spirit you are working for in meditation. Whatever your end goals or preferred forms you are working towards, these can help you build toward that.
Some people do more visualization of breathing in the light or being surrounded by the light, but a simple meditation simply clears and focuses the mind. As you focus long term without variation your mind and optic nerves are able to relax and stop fully processing the surrounding input. You are aware of them but they are not active unless you acknowledge them. It is an odd sensation of both being unaffected by and any not processing things around you but being also more sensitive to them. It will become familiar and comfortable, a place you want to be and a being you want to be.
When you are done, if you need, cup your hands over your eyes, without touching them, and let them rest. Do not press on them or rub them. they may water or have after-impressions. Simply breath and still yourself until you are ready. The intense focus can tire them and the candle light can tire them so give them time to rest.
The variations of this are vast and many both modern and ancient are hugely effective. One of my favorites is often done with objects of nature like leaf. The focus in on the details of that leaf, becoming aware of it in every possible way from sight to smell. Another is focus on you body or a specific part of it.
Most physical training regimes from weight lifting to martial arts will teach you to focus on the muscles you are working in each form. This is a more intense version of that. I first learned of it in a sci fi book, Dune but later was shown an old form of it in I think a qigong class.  You focus intently on specific muscles or parts. I have been shown 3 basic forms. One moved through the whole body one muscle at a time, including all the tiny ones you never notice. Another focused on one part at a time like a finger or hand and intensely focused on that part to feel and be a part of and aware of every aspect. Like the leaf, you are aware of the skin, muscles, lines, bones, nerves, circulation…all of it. The third was the form used in some active meditations of focusing in an activity like tai chi on the muscles and energy of the activity. In this last you focus on them and you increase the work of specific muscles in an activity and increase their resistance to magnify the load and work they are doing.
(note that the image is not mine and I am uncertain of the source, if you know please let me know.)

Meditation Series – part 1: Intro

Some time ago I did a lesson on meditation for a multi part series. Recently I decided to update it for posting here in a parallel series to my ongoing Bug restoration. This will develop and dig deeper into each section but starts with an overview of the class as I wrote it.
Meditation is something used to some extent by most paths, practices, by many religions, and many people outside of religion. I am going to briefly cover what types of meditations are used and describe some of them. I will have a more detailed descriptions of a few, especially those I personally use or have received instruction in. If you know more about any of them, please share, none of us know everything about all of them or even any of them. This is a foundation and general information designed only to fuel imagination, interest, and understanding to prompt further research and experimentation. Meditation is intensely personal for many people and should be understood in that context. Also, it is an incredibly old practice with a lot of varied research attached both for and against. There is a lot of history and cultural relevance to the many forms of meditation. My personal forms are a blend from the cultures that have impacted my life, just as my blood is blended and my path is blended, they are very specific to where I am and what I am doing.
A complete meditation practice will combine active and passive forms. How often you should do it is discussed in every practice but it relies on your ability to know when you need it and your dedication to a consistent practice. You are best able to know the state of your self. frequent and regular is best, but do not berate or punish yourself for your available time and focus. It is something that develops itself with use. Consider short but frequent sessions interspersed with fewer long sessions that allow you to fully immerse in the experience. you will find more time for it when you are doing it regularly. Be consistent but be open to life and self, doing otherwise is counter to the very process.
So what are the types of meditation?
Note, that there is some overlap between the categories I list here and this is not exhaustive but most others will still fall within one of these. These are broad and cross lines so they are only a starting point.
Eye open meditation. 
These include gazing (including candle) and most active meditations. A common one you may recognize is zentangle.
Active meditation.
These include walking, Tai chi, yoga, work, gardening, repetitive action, swimming, art, doodle, writing, chanting, dance, martial. When considering the mental state these also include guided, sound, chant, and other focused and directed forms of meditation. This section is pretty self explanatory and you can see how these will overlap into other categories.
Focused attention. 
These include sound, manta, zazen, Loving Kindness, Chakra, Kundalini, Pranayama, some forms of Qigong, guided, spiritual, Primordial Sound, tea, visualization, mandala, Heart Rhythm, and chant. You may know gong or bowl meditation, or guided meditations, but most people will recognize the chant meditation form. Many awareness exercises and mindfulness exercises fall into this category.
Open Meditation.
observation of thought or function of self, mindfulness, Vipassana, some types of Taoist, Heart Rhythm, and Yoga Nidra. This can be a hard one to pin down in the mind of many people but is actually widely used on a small scale. Most types, if not all, will also fall into another category.
Blank or effortless.
Self-Enquiry (“I am” meditation) of Ramana Maharishi; Dzogchen; Mahamudra; some forms of Taoist, some advanced forms of Raja Yoga, Choiceless Awareness, and Pure Being. Probably the clearest way to describe this is the open becoming one with the true nature and true being. There is a focus on the true nature but you are not focused, you are open. It is not empty mind meditation but it can sound like it at times. Some people include empty mind in this category and make the distinction on the deeper levels of understanding.
Note.
I do not personally recommend the forms of meditation that use mind-altering substances. The practice is to develop your awareness, your self, your connection, your peace, your focus. The use of mind-altering substances in other practices or trances has a long history and purpose but in this case of regular practice to develop and clear yourself it is not in my observation conducive to the purpose you are working toward. There are descriptions of those methods available elsewhere if you are interested, I will not be discussing them here.
So, what is the base difference in some of these forms of meditation and why would you choose them?
Think of the focused forms that have you focusing on a specific thing, be it a word, idea, breath, action, object, whatever, they are a form of concentration and focus development. They calm the mind by focusing all processing on a single thing. All sensation is focused on one thing. All emotions are focused on one thing. It is openness through a calm developed out of repetition and attunement. A sound will resonate in your body and mind. A light will fill your mind as you look at it and feel it. A word will fill your consciousness through your focus. Each of these allows you to develop the empty mind, the focus, and the peace by allowing you to learn how to let sensations and thoughts pass unhindered and without impact. The mantra stills the normal discourse of the mind and resonates in you. You are detaching from the external world through focus on something like a mandala. Art is used in many focused meditations and active meditations.
Mindfulness, empty mind, Vipassana, and observational meditations are different in that they are not focused. they are open and observing everything that occurs. they observe and release all thoughts, sensations, emotions, and responses. They are for many a development from the focused forms. You are being present in yourself and in the awareness of what is happening in yourself. Some medical practices teach these forms for pain management. Zen and empty mind are emptying your mind and sensation. You are not so much being aware of these things as letting them go. You are working to have the state of emptiness and openness not impinged on by thoughts, sensations, emotions, actions, not by anything internal or external. Vipassana does focus on breath but not in the same ways that the more focused forms do. It is a focus in order to empty. A distinction not clear without feeling it. You are, in these forms, detaching both from the external world and from your response and judgments of things. You let thoughts and sensations go without judgment or response, and clear your mind by not focusing or judging. They often start focusing on breathing to reach the state of empty calm.
Active meditations can be focused, blank, open, and may be done either eyes open or closed. Active meditation first bring to mind such things as walking, yoga, tai chi, dance, or other full body activities but they can be painting, drawing, writing, washing, cleaning, and any number of other things. If you have trouble with the stillness of some types of meditation, active meditation may give you a place to start but it is usually recommended as a later stage not a starting point. It is a later step to draw your whole being into the process in a new way. It is very important o stay focused and clear and not be drawn away by your body, surroundings, or the activity. An active meditation can be a good start in many ways but it can be hard to work on the completeness of the experience using these forms.

Imagination

Growing up we did stories and limericks and word games a lot. One of my favorites was when we were in the car, mom would have me make a story using the names of the street signs in the order we passed them. The names could be anything, they just had to be those names in that order. Think about the names of streets you see. They are people’s names, cities, things, landmarks, historical references, colors, anything someone thought of. I still do it in my head sometimes and it is still amusing.

I was the kin of kid that saw a large puddle with a big rock and a leaf and for a moment, sometimes more, it was much more. In my imagination the image was me looking down on a sea with a large rock and a boat or a turtle or something floating in it. Often it was the world of tiny people rather than an image of what it would be larger. My imagination would carry me, ever so briefly, away to another place, somewhere I would rather be.

Today, walking in to work, I realized that I still do it. Just for the briefest of moments. It is something easily ignored or not noticed in the many thoughts and images that fleet through my mind. But I work hard at being in the moment and present, at being aware of my thoughts and responses. It surprised me a little to see that I hadn’t really noticed that I still do that brief escape and image. Those small things still make me happy and give me a brief moment of beauty because I still see the magic in them that I did as a child. I hope I never lose that wonder in the world around me, because it is beautiful and it is amazing. Even those little things, like how a leaf lands or where the water pooled.

Goodbye to My Father

Today I am talking a break from showing my photography or paintings, jewelry or woodworking. Saturday past was my father’s funeral. I was unable to prepare something or speak then so I am working on this now. I needed to see everyone, walk in my parents home, touch their lives, dig through the pictures and memories with the family; I needed to process.

When mom died, I knew what I felt. We were close, she was my support, my friend, my mother. We had talked about it and worked through it before. After, I couldn’t deal with my family. Mom told me before that she thought I would have that problem and that it was okay. Now dad, how do you respond to his death.

Our family lost my sister first of the immediate family. That hit dad hard. Mom wanted family together but understood in all the strong personalities, different beliefs, and everything else our family was often best in smaller groups. Dad felt all that was part of being a family, family should be together good and bad, loving or fighting, happy or sad. Janet was distant as long as I can remember. Dad hated that. They couldn’t be in the same room together without fighting for long but that wasn’t the point; she is is daughter, his first, the one he worried about every day. I think of the relationship my oldest niece has with her mother, even now that Janet is gone and I think of dad. The same sense of family is family, you love them, you honor them, you want to be with them under any circumstances even when they make you so mad you can’t speak. Allora shows the best of her grandfather.

Next was mom. You can’t say that hit dad hard; it broke him. How could it not? My youngest brother, Paul, said in the service that he didn’t want to make the day about mom but you can’t talk about dad without talking about mom. You hear that and think…they did everything together. But that doesn’t even touch the reality of it. Dad told me that mom was the foundation of him, his life, our family, everything. He honestly felt he was nothing without her. He loved her with every part of himself. He loved all of us kids whole hardheartedly, like his oldest, Janet, his kids were part of himself. But his wife was the core.

I have heard countless people ask each other who they would have married if not their spouse or what would they have done. Asking dad that was pointless. He had no other thought. He made the decision and asked until she agreed. She said no several times. I understand that part, I may have made a mistake earlier but I couldn’t have chosen anyone but my husband. I can’t even picture or seriously consider the thought of life without him. So I understand that dad passed some things on to us.

Jon, my oldest brother said that we are realizing now as we get older how much we learned from dad. He’s right. I always knew my art, my woodworking, my willingness to drop and go when I felt it needed, and my willingness to try anything came from dad. But I see his love, his heart, his strength, and his unbending individuality also. Mom added a whole other dimension to all those with one of the strongest personalities and wills anyone has met. Like dad, I will try to fix anything from a motorcycle or car to a desk, from the wiring of a house to a sick cat, from a strangled office to a friendship. He was willing to try so he was usually successful…at least to a functional point. He could build with intricate amazing art and strength unmatched and then he would turn around and fix mom’s headlight on the Cadillac with a 2 x 6 board.

Friendship was a recurring theme in the service. Dad was a friend for life. It didn’t matter whether he agreed with you. It didn’t matter what anyone thought about you. It didn’t matter what you wanted. Once he was your friend, he was your friend. I many times saw him cry because something happened in a friends life…a friend that hadn’t spoken to him or let him in their life for years. It didn’t matter, they were his friend. He felt for them and wanted to help. Dad always wanted to help. He always did what he felt was right. No-one ever agreed with him. He never fit in. But he did what he felt was right anyway.

He was hard, harsh, loud, brash, stubborn, unbending, but he was passionate, loving, loyal, honest, strong, hardworking, creative, intelligent, and open. Dad never hid anything – not what he owned, what he felt, what he said, what he did. He was honest whatever the cost. I watched them build several companies from nothing. They worked hard and held not just themselves but anyone that worked on their site to a level of integrity and honor that kept many crews off their jobs. But they were so honest, they were hurt when their clients were not. They lost everything to churches that took them and it broke their hearts as much as their lives. We would go back to having nothing but more than that they felt those churches had betrayed everything a church should stand for. Dad worked every day, worked hard, and did his best to make his work result in something that was a part of someones life not just a structure.

I worked on decks with him, I designed decks with him. I worked on metal buildings with him, designed them, drew them, worked on the site with him. I work on churches with him. When mom started cancer treatments I wasn’t in school yet so I went often with dad to work. I learned to draw, to design, to listen, to feel the needs, to understand the function, to work, to carry wood, to stack materials right, to find the people that knew the things you needed. Dad drove across town coffee pot to coffee pot stopping at jobs he had finished years ago, at suppliers, at friends, at engineers, at stores, at print shops. He would talk to anyone, and everyone was treated the same. He expected people to be honest like him even though he would say otherwise. Some of those people remained friends until the end. Dad stopped at the churches especially often.

At the service Mark Thrift said that he understood dad because he tried to understand him. He and my parents were close most of my life and that mutual understanding and trust was the core of that. He was right, you had to want to understand dad, he didn’t come easy. He made no effort to bend to your expectations. He was who he was, take it or leave it. Push him away and he would just pack and go. You couldn’t change him and you couldn’t push him but you could touch his heart and you could earn his loyalty. His heart was always open. Most people heard his loud brash mouth or saw his gruff ways and left it at that. But that meant they never actually saw dad. His passion, artistry, strength, honesty, loyalty, love, intelligence, and family were the parts they should have seen. Ignore his piles of stuff, his hothead reactions, his harsh exterior…just don’t push him.

He left his mark on all of us. We have good traits and bad from both parents and we are proud of that. I see those same traits in my nieces and nephews. They can also be proud of that. I want them to know their grandparents loved them, wanted them to be able to stand tall and proud to do what they felt they should. Dad and mom both would tell them they came from strong blood, passionate blood, creative blood, hardworking blood, with a wanderlust, a core of loyalty, and a heart worth being proud of. Take those strengths, add those from your other families and be who you are. That is what your grandparents wanted. They hoped you would agree with them but they taught us to make our own decisions, to stand solid, to work hard, and to never back down. They taught us to be honest to a fault, loyal through anything, passionate in relationships and life, and creative in whatever you do. Embrace your strengths and know when to ask someone else for information or help. Mom always said it was better to say you would find out than give a wrong answer. Dad always directed them to mom. I hope you all find a partner as loyal as dad and as supportive as mom, as honest as them both, as passionate and as hardworking as them both. Embrace who you are and what you came from. Accept the good with the bad and know that both give you strength. Our family has hurt each other and reacts strongly but we always love each other and we are always there for each other in the end. Dad and mom have left their legacy in all of us and all of you, know that can help you through anything

When

I miss my mother.

I hear her voice

When I spread a project

When I lose my keys

When my strength needs support

When my floors need cleaning

When the cat jumps on the counter

When the store is crowded

I want to talk to her

When I climb the ruins or the mountain

When I stand alone

When my work is published

When my husband is amazing

When that dress is perfect

When that storm blows in

I want to lay on her bed and talk for hours

When I need to be alone

When I don’t know what to do

When my hairs turn grey

When my vacation was something special

When the world is not my home

When the stories flow

I want to send her pictures

When I walk through the garden

When I travel the world

When my garden actually grows

When my project works

When the museum has a show

When the world is worth showing off

I see her face

When I need her strength

When I need her smile

When my life takes a turn

When my peace is hard to hold

When that bitterness rises

When that joy in life is there

I miss my mother

When I wake up

When I drive

When my day is done

When my friends are hard to find

When that little bit is just not enough

When the table is set

-Bethany Jordan

Metal Gear Solid 3 Oil Paintings

Eve
Eve

SAMSUNG

 

 

If you have played Metal Gear Solid III you know her name is not Eve, but you never get her actual name. This painting was done based on the Abstract art in the manual that comes with the game not the actual character. My husband has played through this game to get every badge and recommended this pair of paintings. This is a stretched canvas, oil painting.

Eve is on Etsy here.

 

 

The other is of Snake:

Snake is on Etsy here.

Snake
Snake
Cliff Dwelling
Cliff Dwelling
Unnamed as of yet
Unnamed as of yet

 

 

 

 

Cliff Dwelling
Cliff Dwelling

First, a painting. this is one of my favorites, a watercolor done based on the cliff dwellings I visited last year.

 

there is also a home project, mostly done. A shoji screen for the pantry we built recently. We still are changing one wall and have not done the door frames yet. I really like how the metal sheets came out in the center and on the frame above. This project completely changed about 4 times before getting this far.

 

 

The other is a painting developed when I was in Florida. Researching the older cultures in Mexico and Central America I designed this, using correct designs and architecture but mixed my own way.

 

I need to get my good camera working, this one is taking very pale images.

 

SAMSUNGSAMSUNG

Cat Tree
Cat Tree

Happy Friday everyone,

A bit of a varied collection this week:

First, the coupon code OCTOBER is still effective on my Etsy store though the lowered pricing has ended.

Wormy Wood I am considering for a project
Wormy Wood I am considering for a project

We have been trying to finish projects around the house this week and next so I have one of those to show.

Wormy Wood, other side
Wormy Wood, other side

It is a cat tree built into the corner using a favorite branch of a couple of the cats. There is a small red shelf midway up for them to play on. I left short branches for them to grab and hang from since they love that.

Also there are several drawings from my notebook. These are pencil.

Chinese Style
Chinese Style
Sketch
Sketch
Furniture Sketches
Furniture Sketches

Steampunk Sewing Kit

This piece is one of them I am working on right now, I am in process of more than one, something I am trying not to do. In my Steampunk game, there are item cards you can find, some are useful in-game, others are simply treasure. This one, could go either way frankly, but will probably have a limited use. The drawing is not quite done, but I am uncertain what direction I want to go to finish it. I remember seeing my friend’s grandmother wear a wrist piece for sewing that had several things on it. I have seen other ideas like that, some actually were used and some are expansions for the Steampunk theme. Which is this? I am not sure, but it also has a bit of armor to it being a hard leather gauntlet.

Gauntlet Sewing Kit
Gauntlet Sewing Kit

There are a couple of details I need to correct or smooth on the piece, but the foundation is there and it is mostly complete. I drew quite a bit of it sitting outside for lunch – pleasant but bad lighting for computer use.

Sari

Sari
This is one of my favorites so far, but partially because I just love sari

Today’s Picture was drawn from an image at DressRepublic.com
The pattern is a little different, but recognizable. I love Sari, I was going to make my wedding dress out of the material but went with leather instead. Some of my roommates in Hawaii had beautiful Sari and we would get dressed up in them and I would go to temple with them sometimes for dinner and to watch the dancing. I loved it, they are gorgeous, comfortable, flattering, and incredible materials. I have collected some images from the correct period Sari and want to include them in my Steampunk game. Besides, they are great practice in how material moves and hangs with the types of materials used and the draping.

Below is the Original I drew from.

This is this is the original photo I drew from.
This is this is the original photo I drew from.

Art Styles for Steampunk Game

Working with my Wacom today I found myself doing a whole new style of art. For one thing, I have to learn portraits and people if I am going to do the art for the game. As such, I did several stages of a test male in a Victorian suit and cravat. First image done on my Wacom First image done on my WacomI have an art style in mind that is somewhere between a slightly cartoonized old photograph and an old sketch. It requires either being able to draw all the right tones in sepia or drawing it all in color and making it sepia, so far I prefer the result of the second. I am beginning to remember more of the material recreation drawing I learned in college taking design. In the Interior design portion of my program we had a couple of classes that required exact recreations of a variety of design and construction materials using colored pencils. The Wacom is a perfect medium for a quicker version of this method. It is a good skill for this project although it can be very time consuming and I am out of practice. Cloaked Woman done on WacomI am uncertain what my final art style will be, as I work, I find I like the images in color for the people. I may combine art styles and use different ones in different parts of the game if they blend together. I have been drawing in Photoshop. I tried GIMP but it doesn’t work right with my Wacom and I am not yet clear how to fix the problem. These are drawn only except for the one I made a sepia version of.