Thursday, February 26, 2009

"stuffed up"

My dear, dear, dear friend Kate suggested a book to me a few months ago and yesterday I was determined to find it. For some reason, probably my aging mind, the title had drifted from memory. I text her on a whim and asked her for the title.

"The Artist's Way."

I felt a rush of life through my bones. It's been a while since I have felt connected to my artistic self. Not to say that I have not been active as an artist, because I feel as though I have. I have been creative and I have been taking time to write and perform. I've felt the buzz of lyric and melody on my tongue and in my head, so much so that words and melodies are once again arriving at the same time. It's a bit of a spiritual moment when it occurs--where I feel as though something bigger than me is traveling through me and taking shape in the form of song. It is good. It is powerful. I feel very fortunate when it unfolds like so. But it's becoming more rare in the last two years and by admitting this, I'm hoping I am taking a step in the right direction.

I think it comes down to the fact that I don't feel as though I have connected or nurtured the full artist within me. I have been so wrapped up with life and doing things that I have lost touch with just allowing myself to be. I don't feel as though I'm being as "alive" as I should be.

Ahhh...this is kind of complex.

See...being alive means being aware...being open. Being open, being aware, being connected to everything around me. Open, aware and connected to what day of the week it is. Open, aware and connected to the words and the feelings of all those around me. Open, aware and connected to the life, the mysteries, the beauty that unfolds around me. I recall a moment I had a while back where I felt so rooted in my life that I had full trust in myself. I trusted I was exactly where I was meant to be, doing exactly what I was meant to be doing, and going in the direction I trusted I should be going. While in this place, the feeling of being alive flooded me. Flooded me in the way that when I felt sunshine hit my face, I was so aware of the warmth it had on my skin and in my bones that the moment felt like a vibrant jolt of electricity rushing through me so much so that I wept over the simple notion of existing. It was a moment and it occurred because of how open I was to it taking place. I remember knowing that I was open to the world around me, I was mindful of it, and I was in love with it. I remember driving down the street and thinking about lyrics I had just wrote about a blind man walking three shepherds...and I was thinking of these very specific lyrics, I drove past a man walking three german shepherds holding a red-tipped, white stick.

I felt connected. I felt open. I felt aware. I trusted who I was, where I was, and where I was going.

I think in order to nurture the artist within, I must trust the artist within me. I must honor and value being open to the world around me. I crave it. I need it. My survival depends on it.

After Kate text me the title of the book she called.

After we gleefully responded to each other's voice, I thought she said, "I'm stuffed up again."

I responded about how everyone seems to be "stuffed up" these it must be the season, how it must be something in the air.

Kate said, "or something in the water."

I quickly responded that I really don't think the water is affecting people's sinuses.

She cut me off, "did you hear what I said?"

I hadn't.

I wasn't being open. I wasn't aware. I wasn't connecting.

It hit me.

Kate wasn't stuffed up. I was. And I'll be damned if I continue to be.

Open up. Be aware. Connect.

And trust. Trust. Trust.

"i just want to feel today, feel today, feel today...I just want to feel something today."
--Ingrid Michaelson

Saturday, February 14, 2009

a day of love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Seventy-six years ago my mother was born, and if you know her, you understand why it is so fitting that my mother was born on a day that celebrates LOVE.

I think, rather I know, she has the biggest, most kind, most loving, most unconditional heart around. I have said in the past that I have Gandhi for a parent--most people would agree that that's not much of an exaggeration.

She has given birth to 11 children, raised us, helped to raise at least 10 of her 37 grandchildren, and on top of that, she took in and cared for both of her aging parents when they were too weak to do so themselves. AND, on top of that, she helped deliver thousands of healthy babies through the organization she founded 33 years ago. ( I should mention that during the years when medicine was about the patient and not the insurance company, she even took and cared for battered pregnant women in our home.

If it sounds like I'm bragging,I am. She is a rare commodity in this world, and celebrating her on a blog is one small way to spread the good word on this good woman.

I met my mother (this is a love story, right?) 32 years ago. I was the last of 11 children, and they joke that I was named Maura because my Aunt came in and told her, "Alright Michele, NO MORA CHILDREN!"

There are so, so, so many stories of love that exist between my mother and I. Needless to say, it would be impossible to capture them all in a blog. From her undying support of my dreams from the time I was 8 and stepped on stage, to her commitment to be by my side through all my health hiccups and nightmares, to her unconditional acceptance of my sexuality despite the huge generational and religious gap...her love and dedication is an unyielding force that has helped me through some of the darkest, most unsettling times in my life.

As I find myself going through some rough patches these days, I think I have to take a moment and consider this woman in my life. She has raised me to have such high expectations of myself, to not settle for anything less than what I know is right in my heart, to give people the chance to grow, to love when it seems most difficult to love, and to forgive when it seems impossible to forgive.

She is my Saint, my Valentine of sorts, and I am so grateful that I know and can witness her human force in this world.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Happy Birthday, Mom.