Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Serenity

“You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind.” — Henry David Thoreau

Six months ago, I began taking yoga classes at a local instructor’s farm. I’d only done one yoga class before in my life, so I was an apprehensive beginner. The instructor and most of the students in this group were of retirement age, however, so the pace was slow and stately. I started going once a week, then twice, as many times as classes were offered there. I began to realize my intention for serenity, a less fearful and anxious state of mind about my body and my future.

During the six months of class, I was also transitioning out of a relationship that I’d been in for the past 10 years. That relationship had begun eight months after I was widowed. My “Monkey Mind” thoughts were often on my insecurities: my aging, appearance, losses, desires, loneliness.  

In times of uncertainty, I find myself reverting to the role of the achiever. I begin to compare myself to others and try for perfection, just like I did as a student. I look for the A+ that will define and validate me. This is not a place to take refuge, however. It is a place of internal stress. Letting go of that role and allowing myself to see myself with acceptance and love brings me closer to serenity. I believe that serenity will manifest as good health and inner beauty. Yoga integrates the awareness of breath, movement, mind. Practicing with intention is transformative. Accepting change with serenity is a very beneficial skill for life, as life is always changing. 

My instructor put his farm up for sale last week. He and his wife have been there 40 years. I’m not sure how many more classes he will teach, but this morning, I purchased another ten. I intend to keep practicing. And I intend to make big changes in my life soon, too. Still, I believe I can find Serenity, when I am open to it, in every circumstance. That is the position of tadasana, mountain pose. Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to find Serenity. 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Details

I’m with Jen. I love Nature in intimate detail. So much beauty! You have to slow down to find treasures under a leaf…

monarch

…or on top of a flower.

 ladybug

When you take your time to look at details, you can change perspective and admire Nature from different angles.

ladybug from below

Awareness leads to appreciation. The world is fascinatingly intricate and beautiful.

lichen

Soon appreciation becomes an attitude. You see everything for its intrinsic beauty. weightless 5Eventually, this attitude of wonder and respect gets converted to action.

May we all act peacefully and do no harm. Vivid

Details

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

There’s a jazzy Jim Henson Sesame Street song about this…

That’s the first thing that popped into my head. ‘Near’ and ‘far’ are opposite concepts.  Concrete things are rarely exact opposites.  More often, their differences are about contrast and juxtaposition.  Here are some examples:

sculpture and poet 

MKE flower industry

growth piercing

Amazement

green stream

This complex world is full of interesting differences. My hope is that these contrasts become areas for exploration and awe, not areas for fear and hatred.  You know what I mean? 

Peace, friends. 🙂

Opposites

BE inspired … BE creative … BE peace … BE

The second issue of The ‘B’ Zine is out!  This is a collaboration of The Bardo Group (which considers me a contributing writer) and Beguine Again.  The theme for this month is “Preparation”.  I invite you to check it out, enjoy it, reblog it, and be part of the movement.  Peace!

THE B Zine, December, Vol.1, Issue 2 – Table of Contents with Links

THE B ZINE

BE inspired … BE creative … BE peace … BE

Volume 1, Issue 2

a publication of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group

This Month our Theme is

Preparation

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THIS SEASON in the Christian Church is Advent,  a time of spiritual preparation for birth of the Christ spirit in the hearts of human kind.

If you are not Christian, you might use this time and these practices as preparation for the birth of your highest Self as represented by the founder or a saint of your own religion or as an awakening to the Essential Spirit within. If you are atheist, you might see this time as preparation for the birth of the very best You.  Inspiration and suggested spiritual practice are gifted to us by Terri Stewart, Priscilla Galasso, JD Gore, and Rev. Tandi Roberts.

In this issue  we also look back with Corina Ravenscraft at November and its gifts of Gratitude and Rememberence as we cross the threshold into December.  Corina’s second feature is a celebration of December.

Jamie Dedes reviews Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Material by John Kilick and Myra Schneider.  Working with this book might be a good way for you to kick-start the fast-approaching New Year. We have poetry from Jamie,  Joseph Hetch, Terri Stewart and Myra Schneider and a sampling of Naomi Baltuck’s singular photo stories, both inspired and inspirational.

Other features include a reflections on: an Ethiopian coffe ceremony with Karen Fayeth; life and isolation with Joseph Hesch, World AIDS day with Tracy Dougherty; the presence God with Liliana Negoi; and an artful medition by the Rev. Tendi Roberts.

You will find team and guest bios HERE along with links to their work and/or websites.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Features/Preparation

Slowly We Go, Terri Stewart

Prepare Ye – The Way and the Wilderness, Priscilla Galasso

Preparation, Frank Watson

Preparation Ritual, Tandi Roberts

I Knew Advent, JD Gore

Features/General Interest

For the Love of a Good Cuppa, Karen Fayeth

Lifting Stones, Lilliana Negoi

World AIDS Day, Tracy Daugherty

Rememberance and Forgiveness, Corina Ravenscraft

Seasonal Cheer, Corina Ravenscraft

Swann in the City, Joseph Hesch

Book Reviews

Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, Jamie Dedes

Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Experience, Jamie Dedes

Poetry

Finding Silence, Myra Schneider

Beneath the Surface, Joseph Hesch

You Just Missed it, Joseph Hesch

The Leaves Still Fall, Joseph Hesch

The Republic of Innocence, Jamie Dedes

Winter Is Here, I Know, Jamie Dedes

Photo Stories

Embracing the ‘M’ Word, Naomi Baltuck

The Many Degrees of Spooky, Naomi Baltuck

Virgins No More, Naomi Baltuck

It’s Never Too Late, Naomi Baltuck

Art

Light from Darkenss, Becky Withington

Illustrations:

Header: Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerardvan Honhorst (1622)
Above: Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, Murillo (1655)
Below: A page from an 11th-century Gospel of Matthew (1:18-21) with Matthew 1:21, (35) providing the origin of the name “Jesus.”

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100 Thousand Poets for Change

As a core team member of The Bardo Group, I have been invited, encouraged, challenged to participate in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event.  For more information about this event, and to be stirred and prodded in you own artistic lethargy, click here

I yearn to be a poet, an artist, a musician.  I often find a piece that seems so right, so seemingly effortless, so fitting that I think it can’t be hard to craft a work like that…it simply lays over its theme like a glove.  Not so.  Listening to music on my way to work yesterday, I heard a poet’s frustration: “I don’t know why I spend my time / Writing songs I can’t believe / With words that tear and strain to rhyme.” (Paul Simon: Kathy’s Song.)

I feel this theme of Peace and Justice coursing through my life, my thoughts, my work, my hopes, and I wonder how hard it would be to write a poem about it.  I talked to a young man half my age who has studied forensic justice and just interviewed for a position as a mentor, a parole partner, someone who will help perpetrators and victims get together and talk, face to face.  I thought it was a great idea, for both parties, for all parties.  Here’s my attempt to let that idea percolate:

Let’s Face It

Behind the veil, the dirty shroud, the black burka, the white Klan sheet,

the knit ski mask, the heavy gas mask, the transparent oxygen mask, the impenetrable death mask,

the dense fur, the redwood bark, the shiny scales, the matted feathers,

the protective shield, the official badge, the repeated slogan,

the coarse beard, the perfect make-up,

the injections, the implants,

the scars, the screen

 

There is a face, a viable being.

 

When eyes recognize

kin and skin, then peace begins.

Face to face is the starting place.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

Room….and room enough.  How do you make space in your life, for yourself, for your dreams, for another person? 

Scholar & Poet

How do you create warmth and comfort and interest? 

room dining

Is that just about outer atmosphere, or is the inner condition of your soul the place from which an invitation to abide emanates? 

renewal 2

Isn’t that what “room” is all about?  A place to abide, be it contained or uncontained. 

room tent

And what is abiding?  To me, it’s more than living…it’s living in peace. 

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I want to abide — in my house, in my work, in my life, in the world — in peace. 

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© 2014, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved