In September 2019, I decided I would dedicate the last week of each month to a home-based retreat to give myself time and space, sans interruption, for a deep dive into creative endeavors. I paint and make books, write, walk, read, ponder and nap (the latter I learned from Lucky, who perfected the art). Mostly, it’s a time of experimentation and surprises.
You can enjoy musings I’ve already shared on the necessity of solitude, perspectives on relationship and intimacy, the creative impulse, questions about what’s essential, and some other stuff. In these reflections, may you find your own heart-wisdom and beauty mirrored back to you.
With love, Krayna
Image: Marc Chagall
Here’s the full quote: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” (Jamie Anderson)
This is a very popular idea. Reading it, it sorta seems like the way it is. And it’s true, the epicenter of grief is really love. But whatever makes us think grief could stop the giving of love?
Lucky, my beloved canine companion, died 109 days ago as I write this. Five weeks after he passed, Freya, an elder dog, came to live with me for six weeks. People wondered if it would be hard for me to love, let alone foster Freya because of grief. In fact, nothing was further from the truth. I could barely wait to love on her. And there’s 17 year old Annie, a pooch who needs a home for nine days in November. I await her arrival with eager, open arms.
My love for Lucky is the same love I showered on Freya, the same love I’ll share with Annie, the same love that I feel for the 10,000 things, meaning people, trees, cats, garter snakes, sunbeams, rivers. In the years following my father’s death, a divorce, a cross country move and other significant changes, I questioned my assumptions about loss, grief and love.
Here’s what I learned: love is a lavish spendthrift. Amid tears, a lumpy throat, and that ache we all know when sorrow is a visitor, love goes on loving, giving itself without reservation. Love doesn’t withhold itself. That only happens in the narrative that it can’t be given because we’re bereft.
It’s taken time and sensitivity for me to adjust to the new reality of life without the Luckster, just as it did with the loss of my father and ex-husband. Fair enough. But the idea that grief is love with nowhere to go turns out to be just that – an idea.
At the center of grief is love that is not contained in a body. At the center of grief is love with everywhere to go.
Avec amour, always, Krayna
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
This four minute film starring Seth Godin is about the attribute that makes the whole of creative life and engagement possible: curiosity. In it, Godin says:
‘A fundamentalist is a person
who considers whether a fact
is acceptable to their faith
before they explore it.‘
When you listen, don’t assume Godin is addressing someone else; he’s speaking directly to you and me. We all have the potential to contract around what is different or unwanted. And we have the antidote within us…
Curiosity, whichg reflects a spacious quality of awareness. It serves as an antidote for the mind’s tendency to go on lockdown around the unfamiliar. It takes us on the hero or heroine’s journey, bringing us into contact with the new, free to engage with others who don’t think or feel like we do.
Consider how curiosity fertilizes the imagination, enlivens conversation, promotes relationship with aspects of self and others that are lesser known, strange or unusual. Consider curiosity’s opposite: indifference, judgement, apathy. I imagine life without this inborn quality to be colorless and barren life.
Many folks are schooled to tame, ignore or fear this most excellent human resource. Thankfully, this quality can’t be destroyed. As an ember in a fire, it can be banked, yes, though with air and attention, our natural curious state of mind flares back to life.
Ask yourself: What are you curious or open-minded about and where do you tend to close down? What would it be like to bring a curious attitude toward the latter?
May you walk in beauty, joy and curiosity!
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.