Looking back and thinking forward

Month: January, 2009

Hear the crowd roaring

Quote of the day

I will upset someone I love? A serious worry that is not easily exorcised or stared down because you never know how loved ones will respond to your creation. The best you can do is remind yourself that you're a good person with good intentions. You're trying to create unity, not discord. See the curtain call. See the people standing up. Hear the crowd roaring

Twyla Tharp on the "mighty demons" that "invade the launch of every project," in The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life.

Tharp describes four additional fears she experiences before embarking on a creative project:

  • People will laugh at me
  • Someone has done it before
  • I have nothing to say
  • Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind

This past weekend, a friend gave me Twyla Tharp's book as a gift for my most recent achievements, and I have been reading it voraciously, soaking in each word as if I have been waiting for a book like this for years. In just a few days, I have learned new ideas, gained fresh awareness, and my world view about creative expression is shifting. What a gift!

As I have been reading the book, Tharp's advice to hear the crowd roar, reminded me of a time back in 1996 when I completed the first chapter of my doctoral dissertation. Tom and I spent a month in Ithaca, New York, where he had a summer appointment as a visiting lecturer at Cornell University. We had been going out for a couple of years, and this was our first experience of living in the same apartment together. 


When I arrived in Ithaca from Buffalo, Tom had gone ahead to set up the apartment. He had organized a secluded space in a corner of the living room especially for me to write my dissertation. There was a table and chair with my tiny little old Apple computer facing a window, which looked out at a small wooded area. My books were piled neatly on the table by the computer and on the floor. It looked like a safe haven. In the mornings, Tom would go off to Cornell to teach and I would settle down in what I considered to be my version of Virginia Woolf's room of one's own. I allowed myself the time to read, think, and write. I felt embraced by Tom's love and caring through the space he had created specially for my work. I wrote and wrote. In the afternoons, he would return for lunch and then we would set out to play tennis, swim, take in a summer movie, or enjoy the restaurants Ithaca had to offer. Sometimes, we would drive around the lake and Tom would tell me stories of his summers past before we had met. It was heavenly. 

Quite early one morning, I completed the first chapter of my dissertation. I leaned back in my chair, stretched my arms out and up to the ceiling, and spontaneously jumped up to do yoga exercises. As I was reaching up ecstatically into the sun salutation I had a vivid image of a future time – walking up onto the stage on graduation day, approaching my advisor to receive the doctoral hood, and hearing family and friends applaud lovingly and supportively in the audience. The image was strong, real, tangible, palpable. I gasped with excitement feeling quite breathless with joy. 

Suddenly, within seconds of that elated feeling of accomplishment and pride, a shadow covered my eyes and the room became dark. I could see only half the room. My heart began pounding with fear and I almost had to crawl to the bathroom with my head bowed low as if trying to keep the shadow at bay. I climbed into a bath of warm water, breathless with droplets of sweat prickling my brow. The bath did not ease the palpitations or shadow across my eyes. So, after dressing, I walked half blind, carefully and slowly up the hill to a cafe full of people from the university and neighborhood close by. I slipped into a chair by a table in the corner sipping at a cup of coffee, closing my eyes and feeling the friendly buzz of strangers around me as they talked quietly to one another. Slowly, after a couple of hours, the darkness left my eyes, and my breathing returned to normal. I looked around and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

It would be a few years later before Bob the therapist would help me unpack that experience and understand the enormity of my anxiety attack. The self punishment, self admonishment for even daring to imagine a realization of my dreams. Indeed, unbeknownst to me, I had entered one of my most dangerous psychological territories of all. It would take me another ten years or so to process through this. Now, as I look back at that time of my life pieces of that incident become clearer still. For example, I often wondered why I chose to save myself that morning by finding a cafe full of strangers where I could feel safe. Now I know that from a very young age I learned to seek out the kindness of strangers for support and my emotional survival.  


When I was a child I dreamed of being the finest ballerina who ever danced the world stages. My mother gave me that dream, created that image in my brain with bedtime stories about how I would one day dance at Covent Garden and she would sit high up in the VIP box watching me curtsey graciously while receiving bouquets of roses for my accomplishments. Indeed, it was she, who first taught me to hear the crowd roar

In the end I did not choose ballet as my vehicle of self expression, although I still do enjoy dancing so much. But I am grateful for Ilene's gift of Twyla Tharp's insights and practical guide to encourage my creative habits. It is right up there with Bob the therapist's farewell gift to me – Martha Graham's keep the channel open. It is no coincidence that I had the good fortune to receive these words of wisdom from famous dancers to inspire me to find my voice. 

For, it was through dance in the very beginning of my life that I learned to dream: to … See the curtain call. See the people standing up. Hear the crowd roaring

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Friendship in the real

Complexity is me

Quote of the day

… women’s desire is not relational, it’s narcissistic” — it is dominated by the yearnings of “self-love,” by the wish to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need. New York Times Magazine, What is female Desire? January 25, 2009


Hurrah! It is the Year of the Ox. And, yes indeed, that is my sign. 

And yet, as I read up about the qualities and attributes of the year-of-the-ox kind of person, it simply does not jibe with being a Gemini

So, I say, bring it on! I am an Ox and a Gemini!

Happy New Year, to all who celebrate!

In sickness and in health

Ada and I have been sick. 

Photo 2

I caught a cold. 
Ada had teeth extracted. 
We have been taking care of one another. 
She sits on me and purrs. 
I administer pain killers, anti-biotic, and soft foods. 
Every now and again we sit still and stare at each other. 
Love radiates between us. 
This morning we are both much better. 
She is back to playing with her toy mice. 
I am sniffling much less.

Photo 4

I wonder, how does anyone survive without Ada?

Becoming a woman

Quote of the day

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you: 
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. 
It's had tacks in it, 
And splinters, 
And boards torn up, 
And places with no carpet on the floor— 
But all the time 
I'se been a-climbin' on, 
And reachin' landin's, 
And turnin' corners, 
And sometimes goin' in the dark 
Where there ain't been no light. 
So, boy, don't you turn back. 
Don't you set down on the steps. 
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard. 
Don't you fall now— 
For I'se still goin', honey, 
I'se still climbin', 
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes

Waking up this morning earlier than usual. I do not know what I had been dreaming, but as I lay in bed, for some reason I found myself thinking about the poem by Langston Hughes (above). Many years ago, a dear friend of mine read it aloud at a staff meeting, dedicating it to me, and I have kept it close by ever since. 

So many life experiences confirmed or solidified misconceptions or perceptions that I had developed as a child, translating or interpreting other people's views and experiences for my own. Now, as I enter my sixtieth year, and think about writing a chapter in the new book I am editing: Perspectives in Gender for Early Childhood, I am trying to summarize what I know, or, rather, what is my reality, about how I became a woman. 

For me, becoming a woman has been hard work. And, believe me, it is not over yet! For, aging seems to change and challenge my understanding, expectations, and ideas about what it means to be a woman day by day, sometimes moment by moment. Developing my gender identity has been complex, including relationships with the significant men in my childhood, as well as watching and learning from my mother and sisters as I was growing up – later, being influenced by teachers and peers, the media, and, finally, from reading feminist literature.

At this stage, I am just not sure what I feel about what being a woman means for me. Beauty and sexuality are so defined by the myths and stereotypes of society and the media, that I am never sure where I fit in, if I fit in, how to fit in. A few years ago, a young friend taught me, in the most direct and honest way possible, how to accept my age. "You've had your chance!" she exclaimed. And so, I have been trying to work towards beauty in wisdom, or the maturity of inner beauty – aging like a fine wine – whatever all of that means!  

Of course, none of this will matter when I am dead! But, in the mean time I feel very much alive and kicking, and I think that being a woman means being sexy and wise, vibrant and compassionate, intelligent and strong, emotional and insightful, observant and accepting, assertive and direct, spunky and vocal, inclusive and considerate, fearful and wistful, reflective and withdrawn, weepy and courageous, feisty and fearless, in-confidence and out of confidence, humorous and morose, elegant and gracious, mussed up and wild, raucous and loud, young and old, lively and tired … all things and everything … but, mostly … true to oneself.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Apple addiction

The morning after

Quote of the day:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more. Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. Barack Hussein Obama, January 20, 2009

Being in a storm of wonderfulness


Quote of the day

It feels like being in a storm of wonderfulness. Life partner

I awoke this morning with a feeling of pure joy and exhilaration – like being bathed in light after years of living in the dark. 

And, yet, at another level, there is pain. For, even as I rejoice, I remember past injustices and abuses, and realize just how many sacrifices were made to arrive at this moment – this great day. It is almost exhausting to acknowledge the quantities of courage and determination that were needed to make it all happen, and will be necessary to continue in the struggle for peace and social justice.

I intend to hold onto the tsunami of inspiration and hope, though, just as I felt it the very first time I heard Barack Obama speak. It has been a long time a-coming, and I am surely going to need it again and again when the road becomes hard and steep, and darkness tries to rock and roll, and drag me down.

Indeed, there is no turning back. We will never be the same again. And just for now, I am going to allow myself to weep with pure joy and exhilaration. 

Congratulations to each and every one of us on this, our Inauguration Day of President Barack Obama.

Allowing dreams to soar …

Quote of the day

What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives – from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry – an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels. Barack Obama, 10:00 a.m. today


The Angel of Freedom that was on back-order, arrived yesterday with the inscription: Allowing dreams to soar. What an unexpected surprise. And how fitting that she arrived the same day as my new Bling Inauguration pin:


Oh Happy Day!

Blog on … and on … and on …

Quote of the day

In her Exchange article, "The Spirit of Adult Play" Bonnie Neugebauer observes that many must relearn the joys of playfulness. To do so, she suggests, they must be willing to spend freely, to squander, to waste (if you will), to be extravagant with their:

Time — Play must exist in a context of timelessness. The process is valued beyond the outcome of the play, so it must be possible to continue the experience across blocks of time, even across days and weeks. The play must find its own end, just as it found its own beginning….

Sense of Self — Play requires that one forget oneself. If self-conscious about their play, about how others will view either their play or the products of their play, children and adults are crippled. Their play is distorted by other consciousness.

Sense of Order — Play demands a certain amount of chaos. There must be room for using things and doing things in new ways. Play equipment and space must be flexible to meet the changing needs of the players. There must be storage for uncompleted play, and respect for unfinished spaces. Players require a degree of uncertainty and support for taking risks. Play is nurtured when there is no labeling of wrong and right. 

Joy — Play without enjoyment is just plain hard work. Players need to laugh, and boast, and practice. There are many choices to be made, and each is a challenge. Play brings out the best in each of us. [From CCIE]

(I wonder, early this morning as I read this: is blogging a form of adult playfulness?)

I have been reading past posts on my blog, and I must say I have learned a lot about the process of my own self-alteration these past couple of years. In each post I recognized the feelings and experiences of those times I wrote about, and was amazed to see how awareness, understanding, and, subsequently, alteration took one tiny step after another, often with regressions along the way. However, as I read the thread and noticed the incremental changes, I felt a stirring within, and became filled with renewed hope and appreciation for the work I am constantly, relentlessly doing on myself. Indeed, I realized, I am saving my life!

For example, back in January, 2007 I wrote about a dream I had when I said to a Tarot Card reader: 

Trying to please my mother was like having a stone around my heart.

As I read that early this morning, I realized it has taken me all of two years to dislodge that very stone from around my heart, and toss it away – and I noticed that part of the process continued in July 2007, when I was able to consider kicking the habit - which really began with awareness from my dream in January, and continued while hiking up by Hadrian's Wall earlier that same July. You see? A thread … of healing. I connected it all to the way I am physically shedding pounds of weight from my body these past six months. Lightening my heart as more and more I discover with joy that I no longer have to please my mother. It was a useless task anyway, for it was simply impossible to accomplish! But, more than that. I no longer feel that need gnawing at my soul. The need that I try to fill with unnecessary food. Hunger for acknowledgment is being replaced with learning how to enjoy life and loving.
  • Blog on I must
  • I want to blog on, for this is the way I discover … uncover my Self
  • I love to blog on. 
  • For I need to record things, speak, see, and understand them with a witness
A year ago at Mining Nuggets: When I was 25:

Engendering gender


Quote of the day

Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives. Viktor Frankl (From CCIE)

Where do I begin to think about how I developed my identity as a woman? Well, I guess I have to think about it. For I have been contracted to edit a book about gender and early childhood, and the time has arrived for my contribution: an introduction and a chapter. Those of you who know my previous work will not be surprised to hear that my chapter will be an exploration of how one's feelings and experiences about becoming a woman (or a man, depending on who is reading it) affect teacher interactions with children in classrooms, specifically related to gender identity. Quite naturally, I have been thinking about this topic quite a bit of late. I have not written much about gender identity though – not in my private journal, nor on this blog. It is a subject that causes me not a small amount of discomfort. For, it is directly related to my own feelings of self-worth, self-perception, notions about my sexuality, and fears of intimacy. Indeed, it exposes me to my deepest shadows and vulnerabilities. For it is at the very core of my being. The foundation of who I am and how I interact with the world – personally and professionally. My gender identity affects my entire world view, and is directly related to feelings of empowerment or powerlessness. 

For example, most recently I have been participating in some very important meetings. Early on, I realized that surrounded by scholarly older-than-me type men, I immediately felt like an eight year old child, and became intimidated to the point of paralyzed silence. Indeed, I felt like an idiot, and was terrified to voice any opinion. After the first meeting, I shared these realizations with female colleagues, who, although expressed dissimilar feelings, were most understanding and accepting of mine. At the following meetings, with awareness of my emotional issues attuned and available, I was able to overcome my discomfort and, thus, participate, making contributions that were professional and productive.

I became a feminist late in my life. Only about sixteen years ago – the latter third of my life. In fact, I wrote about that back in April, 2007. The patriarchal system was deeply ingrained in me and I still have to work very hard at shedding those insidious and destructive beliefs. Lately, as I finally allow myself to open up to love, I notice all kinds of complicated and complex feelings. For example, how my self worth was always tied up in looking pretty, or being attractive or sexy – whatever all these things mean. In other words, a dominant male view was the one I sought out or felt was all important and meaningful. I tried to match my self worth against all of those preconceived notions, and always found myself lacking – never taking myself seriously. The belief that I must constantly sacrifice my Self for a "Him" was honorable and all consuming. 

Finding my voice and changing my understanding of reality is relatively new for me. Only in the last five to seven years actually. Most of the time I feel like a fledgling with shaky legs and flimsy, wet wings trembling and anxious to fly. There are moments when I do, indeed, fly accompanied by a song, which is strong, firm and real. And, I must admit it is exciting for me to realize that right after such flights, I fall much less often, into my ancient abyss of childhood shame and guilt.

Perhaps now I will have the courage to explore this topic further. It is strange how I always seem to consider giving up blogging right before I approach confronting the uncomfortable. I think some might call that: resistance?

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Good luck!



Four years ago I started blogging, and now I wonder if I will continue. For, I am able to stay connected quite well with my Internet buddies through Twitter and Facebook. If connection is the main reason for blogging, that is. I have long since given up writing for others to read, especially as I am noticing fewer and fewer readers stopping as the days go by. Indeed, I have been turning to private journaling these past months – writing thoughts, feelings, dreams, ideas, opinions, and experiences in a little notebook that I was given a couple of years ago. I am talking about writing by hand. Like long ago when I was very young. 

This year, I am certainly entering a new era – my sixties. I feel the shift. It rumbles deep within me and separates me from my past in profound ways. Psychological changes and self alteration in my personal and professional life is happening faster than I can write about it lately. Old paradigms, like ancient walls, are crumbling around me exposing realities and truths that I can no longer ignore or deny. I am wide awake, even as I sleep. And, sometimes, for no apparent reason, I suddenly laugh aloud joyfully. Am I free at last?

Indeed, on this my fourth blogging-aversary I wonder about continuing blogging …

Two years ago at Mining Nuggets: Delurk and say you did!