Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Chaos

Perhaps presciently, Ann-Christine chose the theme of CHAOS for this week’s Photo Challenge even before the pandemic was declared.  

What an interesting word – indeed, an interesting concept. I suspect that only human beings, with their big brains and their social biology, even experience chaos. I imagine chaos to be attributed to a situation that evokes a kind of fear, but on a more complex level than a fear for one’s basic survival. 

Social chaos, for example.

Probably most of us have experienced the confusing disorder of emotions and associations that might be described as social chaos. Where do I fit in? How do I connect? Do my feelings mesh with anyone else’s? These thoughts can be quite unsettling to me, but I don’t imagine spiders or starfish or blue jays dealing with that kind of survival anxiety.

Some humans believe that we have a superior gift for bringing order out of chaos. I look at homeowners blowing those untidy leaves off of their driveway in the fall, and I wonder if they imagine they are making the world more orderly while forgetting that our suburban consumption creates chaotic waste in much greater proportions.  

 

If chaos provokes a kind of fear or discomfort, then each of us probably has a different threshold of tolerance for it. And each of us can probably reset that threshold with a bit of work. How comfortable can you become with disorder, ambiguity, or uncertainty? I have to admit that I found parenting to be a great exercise in adaptation to chaos. There were plenty of times that I wasn’t in control of the situation, but I survived, and I certainly learned a lot…and I actually enjoyed it. 

There is plenty to learn in the present climate of global chaos in the human family. There are certainly many questions with unknown answers. There is confusion and ambiguity and anxiety about how we fit together, how we feel, and how we ought to act. And this is going on at a very high level of cognitive function. It is a situation that is created in our big brains. 

At the same time, in the world outside our big brains, Nature is functioning as usual. Organisms emerge, populations respond, life and death dance together in fascinating rhythm. I find this incredibly peaceful, a perfect antidote to chaos. Breathing in the assurance of Nature’s presence, I am strengthened for the work of being a human. It’s not easy work. We have a lot of responsibility. But the first responsibility is being aware of who we are as a species. May we be humble. May we be kind to every being on the Tree of Life. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Reflections

“Use reflective surfaces to create an artistic echo of a scene…” 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…why is it I blog at all?
I started this blog when I began my 50th year of life. That was in August of 2011. I had just moved to Wisconsin to live with Steve. I was widowed three and a half years. I had a lot to process and a lot to learn.

I am now facing another transition: leaving Wisconsin and Steve to live in Oregon, closer to three of my four adult children, my  mother, and my three siblings. I have a lot to process and a lot to learn.

I learn by reflecting on what I’ve seen.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

I am making this cross-country move because I have learned again what I always knew to be my Truth: that I belong most importantly in my Family – my family of origin and the family that my late husband and I loved into being. 

 

“Art is not a reflection of reality, it is the reality of a reflection.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Writing in this blog, storing photographs and memories, was a way to plant the seeds of realization. In my words and pictures, I remind myself who I truly am and see who I am becoming.

“There is one art of which man should be master, the art of reflection.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All my artistic echoes have origins in my mother and repercussions in my children. Being so distant from their heartbeats just doesn’t make sense. I need to hear the rhythm of our art, our lives, in order to keep dancing. 

“What we do now echoes in eternity.”
― Marcus Aurelius


May the love we create in our family be reflected in the world. I believe we all have the responsibility and the capability to make this a more loving, peaceful, beautiful place.

Thank you, Miriam, for hosting this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  

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

640px-Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_023

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.”

BambergApocalypse06LargeInitialE

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. 

P1040599

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

075

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

Advent Day #23 – Peace

Peace On Earth

It is Day #23 in the December countdown.  Today’s gift is Peace.  Ahh, peace.  Take a deep breath.  Relax the muscles around your skull; feel  your ears and eyebrows pull backward; close your eyes and roll your head. Do you feel a sense of well-being?  Julian of Norwich claims that God himself spoke these often quoted words to her, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”  Do you believe that’s true?  Do you believe that’s possible?  I do, although I don’t always act as though I do. I forget.

Wikipedia uses these phrases to define peace:  “safety, welfare, prosperity, security, fortune,  friendliness… a relationship between any people characterized by respect, justice and goodwill… calm, serenity, a meditative approach”.  Where does peace come from?  Buddha, the Dalai Lama and many others will tell you that peace comes from within, not without.

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” – Black Elk

But perhaps, there are things outside of you that will remind you of the peace which dwells within you.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

Do you feel peace in your mind and body and soul all at once?  Do you descend into peace from your head down?

“I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” – Helen Keller

I suppose each of us must find his/her own journey into peace.  Anxieties and conflicts are particular and personal.  Facing each one head on is not a passive task.  Making peace is not for the weak of heart.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  Is God about making peace?  Is making peace the work of the Universe?  Is it perhaps that joyful effort that gives life meaning?

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

If we can make peace between ourselves and God, ourselves and Nature, can we then make peace between ourselves and others?

“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” – Thich Nhat Hahn

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” – Mother Theresa

Steve constantly reminds me that in every situation, especially in those that cause anxiety and conflict to arise, I have 3 choices.  I can hide/run away.  I can try to change the situation.  I can change myself.  The first option doesn’t exactly make peace; it simply avoids confrontation.  You can hide away all day long and still feel the fear of whatever it is that scared you.  So, why do I often employ that choice?  Because I lack courage and I’m lazy.  I sometimes pick that choice first to give me time to screw up my will and motivation.  I don’t want to get stuck there, though.

Trying to change the situation requires engagement.  Making peace with hunger, poverty, sickness, and distress this way requires an understanding of  causes and effects on all different levels.  It requires negotiation, and it requires cooperation.  You don’t always get all that is required to change a situation.  Not all situations can be changed.  Death is the big one that comes to mind here.  You can’t hide or run away from it, and you can’t change the situation so that you don’t have to experience it.  Now what?

Change yourself.  Sometimes the only way to make peace with something is to change your thinking, your belief, your approach, your attachment, your aversion, your ignorance or some other aspect of yourself.  “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” is the simplistic way to say it.  If you’d “rather fight than switch” (old cigarette commercial – pop philosophy at its finest), then you have chosen to fight, not to make peace.  Our egos make it really tough to change ourselves.  Sometimes we’d rather fight, sometimes we’d rather die, sometimes we’d rather do anything than change ourselves.  You have to ask yourself very seriously what your ultimate goal is to get past this one.  Is your goal to keep your ego intact or is your goal to make peace?   I’ve come across a lot of phrases that address this ego dilemma: “take up your cross”, “turn the other cheek”, “deny yourself”, “die to self”.  I think that dogma is probably more an ego thing than a peace thing.   If you can’t let go of your religious beliefs in the interest of peace, then your religion is more about yourself than it is about God, in my humble opinion.   I love the part of the movie “Gandhi” where he counsels a Hindu man who is distraught at having murdered a Muslim child.  “Raise a Muslim child and make sure you raise him as a Muslim, not as a Hindu. This is the only way you can purge your sins.”  This is true wisdom about peace.

Give peace a chance. It requires your will, it requires your strength, and it requires you to lay aside will & strength.  I am looking forward to enjoying the peace that my family and I have created.  We are still creating it, and will be our whole lives long.