Here you’ll find musings on the necessity of solitude, re-thinking perspectives, new paradigms for relationship and intimacy, living creatively, guidance for hard times, questions about what’s essential and some of my own poetry. May you pause long enough to listen and so recognize your own heart-wisdom and beauty in these reflections. Enjoy!
Image: Marc Chagall
Ring the bells! Do a dance! Joy Harjo, a national treasure, has become the first
Native American to serve as our nation’s official poet.
I’m overjoyed by this news! I can think of no one who’s mo better to be appointed to the position of poet laureate at these times than Joy Harjo. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is a renaissance woman: poet, visual artist, dancer and saxophone player. She’s a formidable voice for justice for the First People of this land, the earth, and all beings. An ambassador of healing and transformation, Harjo uses poetry to connect and form bridges.
The essential task of the U.S. poet laureate is to endeavor “to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” That’s the point. Or the least of it. Because for Harjo, poetry constitutes nothing less than “an immense conversation of the soul.”
Firmly rooted in heart-wisdom, Harjo’s poetry is fiercely compassionate, loving and provocative. She writes with a clarity that encourages while calling us to account at the same time. She does so skillfully, with a borderless imagination.
As poet laureate Harjo wants to “…bring the contribution of poetry of the tribal nations to the forefront and include it in the discussion of poetry…This country is in need of deep healing. We’re in a transformational moment in national history and earth history, so whichever way we move is going to absolutely define us.”
Here’s a wee taste of her work:
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (excerpt)
I am the holy being of my mother’s prayer and my father’s song
—Norman Patrick Brown, Dineh Poet and Speaker
- SET CONFLICT RESOLUTION GROUND RULES:Recognize whose lands these are on which we stand.
Ask the deer, turtle, and the crane.
Make sure the spirits of these lands are respected and treated with goodwill.
The land is a being who remembers everything.
You will have to answer to your children, and their children, and theirs—
The red shimmer of remembering will compel you up the night to walk the perimeter of truth for understanding.
As I brushed my hair over the hotel sink to get ready I heard:
By listening we will understand who we are in this holy realm of words.
Do not parade, pleased with yourself.
You must speak in the language of justice.
By Joy Harjo from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings
Give yourself a gift….read, talk about and share her poems. You can learn more here: http://joyharjo.com/
* “Crazy Brave” is the title of Harjo’s memoir.
Terms of Endearment: Lucky, Luckster, Luckers, Lil’ Man,
Baby Boy, Demander, Stinker, Littlest One, and finally, Beloved.
A memory: Thanksgiving weekend 2004, Bend, Oregon. It’s six months after I happened upon this wee pup running down the road. We’re sleeping on a futon I’ve dragged to the living room for quick access to the door. He’s got diarrhea and is vomiting every two hours.
Who knew this would be the first indication of life-long inflammatory gut issues? He also had frequent urinary tract infections. In 2009, Baby Boy was diagnosed with compressed discs. He was subject to flare-ups in his gut, back and urinary tract his whole sweet life, making differential diagnosis difficult. He’d suddenly hunch up in pain, running around trying to bite anything he could get his jaws on.
Lucky had laser and acupuncture treatments, among other things. My role as pain manager grew, as did the apothecary I had on hand at all times. I’d try to discern what combo of meds to administer, and when to vamoos to the emergency room for the big guns.
By the time he died, he’d become sensitive to new environments, so we couldn’t travel. He couldn’t see or hear well or pee on his own (I learned to express his bladder). He had moderate dementia and other neurological issues that affected his gait (he walked like a drunken sailor). He no longer registered signals he needed to go poop. (Got it?)
I have 33 insurance claims for 2009 – 2017 alone for emergency treatment (pre-2009 claims from a different company are lost). He was seen by the vet, God knows how many times, for dietary indiscretions.
Example: While I briefly had my back turned, Lucky broke into a zippered suitcase to get at dark chocolate covered espresso beans that were sealed in their original package. Not only did he eat most of my treat, he cracked a tooth in the process, which I only learned of when I paid the bill for his annual dental cleaning. An expensive procedure, not counting the cost of the visit to the emergency room.
This is not an exhaustive account of the Luckster’s difficulties, but I trust you get the picture. Now, it would be a grievous oversight if I didn’t tell you that through it all, he was a super-trooper. That he was sweet, mischievous, smart, loving, friendly and affectionate. He was a magnet for people young and old, sick and well. He’d “lay paw on,” as my Mama likes to say, and the healing would commence.
Lucky drew community to him from the beginning. I’d meet folks who’d met the Luckster through his god-parents or other friends, who’d say, Oh, so your Lucky’s mom! He got around, a regular community dog. I realized early on was everyone was Lucky’s favorite. His gregarious greetings were a source of delight; we all felt special to him. Even so, I must say the Littlest One adored his Auntie.
It’s been nothing if not a privilege. My life with this 12 pound wonder-pooch was one of challenge and tremendous joy. He was a true teacher, companion and a muse par excellence. My world revolved around him for a blessed 15 years and three months.
Lucky was the most demanding, humble and innocent guru I’ve ever known, and I, his faithful adherent. He continues teaching, even now. In the coming months, I’ll share what I’ve learned from him the about the nature of devotion, non-attachment, equanimity, freedom, joy and impermanence, not-knowing, and of course, love.
In the meantime, I’d like you to know this: after Lucky lost the use his back legs, we had one last stellar weekend together. His Auntie Janice and I cuddled with him on the sofa the night before he died and watched My Neighbor Totoro, one of his favorites. During a sweet, earthy ritual at home, he scarfed down hamburger, a previous dietary no-no. Surrounded by immediate family and god-parents, this sweet Beloved died peacefully in my arms, just shy of 16 years old, on May 19th at 2:40 PM.
But just a second before that moment, Lucky’s final gift before that last injection went down this way: as a Zen Master upon his or her deathbed speaks one final poem, our beloved Luckster wagged his tail. Vigorously.
Avec amour, always, Krayna
Image: This is the back of a 2.5 x 2.5 “Tiny T-Art Book” I made from teabags.
Title: Lucky, Nose for Truth. A Biography. A pure muse he was, and remains.
Are they not having a ball? They have no argument
with reality, and in fact, dance joyfully amid the transience of things.
Things come, things go. Can you say “hello” and “goodbye” to what arises in your life with your whole heart? If not, hope and fear dominate the mind and close off rich possibilities. If you are more open to the truth of impermanence, you know an openness that is full of beauty and love. Harmonizing with the fact that everything comes and goes is a gateway to freedom. Contemplating this recently brought to mind Herman Hesse’s poem, “Stages.” This is an excerpt:
“Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces…
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.”
I have an image I use when I find I’m hoping for something better or fearing what may come: I imagine my beloveds, my body, my travel plans, my beliefs (it could be anything) as a Tibetan sand painting. Those vibrant colors and the awesome design that took so much time and energy to create are exquisite!
When the painting is done, poof! It’s blown away by those who created it into the realm of the infinite. This is big-sky mind, which teaches us to love and hold everything loosely. Nothing to cling to, nothing to reject. What’s left? The dance. So, what if you begin, or continue, to embrace what arises in this dream-like, floating world wholeheartedly, without grasping or rejection? The music goes on, with or without us. Now that is something to relax into!