This is one of my favorite quotes from the remarkable Maya Angelou. She expressed so many ideas and notions of the heart with such raw eloquence and clarity. As one who has struggled with clouded filters in my life, this resonates deeply.
Live in authenticity—not to satisfy the expectations of others, nor the perceived expectations of anyone else. It also means resisting the impulse to change, cajole, alter—or otherwise attempt to “fix” another. Peacefully release and allow . . . others to walk their own divine paths. Easier said than done, right? Instead, you may simply choose a different reality. Fighting or feeling dismayed gives the recipient of that energy power. Taking a different path alleviates so much stress and pain.
It is such an essential lesson for productivity, sanity and happiness. And at the core of this awareness is mindfulness. Marsha Linehan, a noted American psychologist and author, created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) around this philosophy. It’s a powerful form of psychotherapy that actually combines behavioral science and brain theory with Buddhism tenets—acceptance, meditation and mindfulness.
In the spirit of our dear Dr. Angelou, who touched so many, we can all seek this state of inner peace and mindfulness—to communicate in truth—internally and externally. To believe in the veracity of what is. But we cannot if we are not clear— about who we are and how we feel. This, indeed, is the journey. In lieu of a mindfulness retreat or a series of therapy sessions with Dr. Linehan, here are a few ways to get a dose of this mindfulness practice:
- Focus on one thing at a time
Try giving up multitasking occasionally. It exacerbates stress and states of confusion. Handle one thing and one thing only—mindfully in the moment. Step away from the phone.
- Do what works
You do not always have to be right— make a statement, issue and edict, or win the war. Don’t cut off your nose despite your face. Think twice before you send that blazing email copying the president.
- Set achievable goals
Set aside the BHAGS for a while (the big, hairy, audacious goals – as a former boss used to call them). Focus on the attainable ones. Give yourself some wins!
- Nurture friends, connections, and support
Build a network. Connections are so important. They give you strength and a soft place to land when you run out of steam and your resources dwindle. YOU don’t have to be everything to everyone.
Keep moving. Reduce your physical vulnerability. You know about this one already.
- Be grateful
Find something to be grateful for every day. It multiplies (even at work).
There are more, but this is a great place to start. Until we understand exactly who we are and how we process stimuli, many of our reactions will be wildcards. This takes work, because so much of our communication is conducted on autopilot—hardwired and subconscious. There are no easy answers, but if we are mindful of our issues, we can begin asking better questions . . . What do you think?
“Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”
On Saturday, we honored the memory of Everett E. Gantz Jr. with a quiet, traditional Episcopal memorial service. After nearly 89 years on this earth, my father was still an enigma to many— and to me in many ways. Few truly knew the man behind the stoic, Midwestern-chiseled facade— and the charismatic artist/wife of more than 50 years. Thankfully, my dear sister Melissa gave a lovely, instructive “reflection” that filled gaps and hearts.
The loss is palpable—and beginning with my mother’s devastating stroke in January 2010, the grieving process has been a lingering one.
Plus, as a single, working mother of two growing boys, remembering to “put the oxygen mask on first” is a constant effort—and a daily focus of my mindfulness practice. However, I am certainly no role model for the “sandwich generation,” and I guarantee you that I still get tangled up in the roughage, as it were. Still, I have come to understand that the frustrating stubbornness and vitriol I have encountered on “both sides of the bun” often mask the poignant vulnerabilities that quite frequently melt my heart.
Mastin Kipp, one of my favorite daily inspirational mentors, says, “When you let go and admit it, accept that you have moments of being a mess, and you share that feeling at times with the rest of us, then you can step into a larger, freer life.”
So, with another Mother’s Day behind us and a new normal dawning, I have revisited something I wrote several years ago for my mom:
No need to give to feel anymore.
Her bare spirit shines — less the veneer.
Without speech, without talk
The essence of her soul.
Awareness without comprehension,
She looks at me finally – and actually sees.
Letting go of need.
Content to be.
Fights her wheeled prison.
Her body knows now
To bridge the chasm.
There between this Scylla and Charybdis.
And yet he still clings.
Denies to suppress — but never go home.
Letting go of control.
But the seizures defy
The years and the secrets
He insists to know why.
Anger. Passion. Pain.
A stone cold wall.
What a loss — so far.
Tear us apart and we fall.
Oh, to let love . . .
So, letting go.
Join us next week when we thaw. . .
I am excited and honored to participate in a Holiday Customer Art Show at Stoney’s Wine Lounge. It’s a festive way to sip luscious wines from around the globe, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts crafted by eclectic and surprising artists from around the corner — and savor delicious jazz with friends in a cozy neighborhood atmosphere. What could be better?
I will be including some of my favorite jewelry creations. Here are a few examples—incorporating copper, abalone, quartz amethyst, brass, silver plate, gold wire, and other semi-precious gemstones. Prices range from $35 – $150.
Friday, Dec. 13
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Stoney’s Wine Lounge
6038 Oram St.
Dallas, TX 75206
And here’s a little back story.
Diana, Stoney and I have an interesting history. Our paths have continued to cross since I first met Diana when she was as my seventh grade French teacher at Hockaday.
Mademoiselle Dill at the time, she may have been one the absolute “coolest” teachers on the planet. She and Patty Edwards, my speech and debate coach in high school, would both hold that title. “Ms. Dill” would weave in French pop-culture references and even sing to us – Francoise Hardy’s Tous les Garcons. Formidable!
And there’s more . . . Stoney and I both landed at the Dallas Museum of Art simultaneously in the late 1980s. I was arranging fabulous fetes for the Associates and President Circle-level members and his band played at those receptions. Then, when I happened to be planning my own wedding at the time, I asked Stone to play. So, there you have it . . . some saucy synchronicity—since single, however.
So, stop by on Friday or Saturday at Stoney’s. Shop, saunter or sip. Cheers. xo
CONTACT ME ANY TIME!
It’s difficult to believe my mom left this earth one year ago today–after a long struggle with the aftermath of devastating stroke. No matter how difficult the journey, life is never really the same after your mother has left your world. Remembering you today, Mom. Once again, here is the poem you asked that we read at your funeral . . . and another from me. Love, e.
When Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted
By Rudyard Kipling
When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!
Transition comes always in motion.
Summer and fall down again.
The cycle repeating so certain,
Who am I less the chagrin?
Fractured yet still—unbroken.
So this is together as one,
For it is all not forgotten.
I go forward in faith alone.
The newness of year’s end beckons
To lead my discoveries of soul.
Joy finally—that place so vulnerable
Peace on purpose—so whole.
I’m not sure how to rest anymore.
In this place of where I prepare
What I see is now just a wisp
Of a memory on gossamer air.
I will follow the lead of my truest heart
Unfold what is next without fear.
Not a nod to the doubts of others.
Only for what is genuine and clear.
He was a mirror to my deepest ache.
Unconscious, I acquiesced.
Releasing all that, myself I cherish.
Through salted tears, I am blessed.
Remembering . . . there is time to heal.
Now, here I am—flawed and free.
Truth – such the journey uncommon.
Facing lesson’s ubiquity.
Steer no more. Press, push or pull.
In heart-fragile release Divine.
Spinning rhythms of delight fantastic.
Let that glitter starlight shine.
You’ve heard the familiar adage, “the devil is in the details.” Well, last week, I experienced quite the opposite—the yin to that yang—as so often occurs with such idioms. Truth is, I discovered the Divine in the details. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Art @ Mo—a rejuvenating week combining spirituality and fellowship with a healthy helping of creative nourishment—all served up in the midst of the most idyllic scenery Texas has to offer. It was a confluence beyond compare. How fortunate I was to spend five days of serenity and regeneration in the cradle of the majestic Texas Hill Country outside of San Antonio.
I have been to Mo Ranch more times than I can count— with and without my boys, but this year was a completely different experience. I allowed myself to focus completely and unapologetically on the art of jewelry making, and I’m not just talking about stringing some purple beads and tying a knot (which I have been known to do and to enjoy). This was the real deal, the artisan craft, and I never knew how liberating and captivating such a pursuit could be.
It involved intense study of the painstaking steps and discipline required to make metal jewelry from concept to creation—using fine materials, such as copper, agate, abalone, amethyst, and the like. In addition to producing some wonderful pieces under the tutelage of master jeweler Jean Cofer, I learned some lessons that have given me insight and even a sense of peace and enlightenment in my life as a whole. This brings me to—the pickle.
Pickle is the solution used during jewelry construction to clean away the oxides, imperfections, and discolorations that occur during the prep and soldering process. (I will describe this in greater detail in a moment.) It’s kind of a noxious brew of hydrochloric acid and water heated in crock pot or “cauldron.” It’ll take your skin right off, but damn, it makes gorgeous jewelry!!
As neophytes, needless to say, we mostly treated the pickle with great respect. Even using the wrong implement, such as aluminum tweezers, could cause a chemical reaction and contaminate it instantly. We were careful to use wooden dowels or copper tweezers. One brazen classmate threw an old door knob or something in the pickle one day, and the cloud of foul, sulfur-smelling gas that enveloped the room required our immediate evacuation. Jewelry-making is not for the timid! Of course, sometimes you may decide you want the earthy patina that only contaminated pickle can deliver. Then, it’s more about the art than the science.
I’ve always wanted to learn to solder — the process of joining metal using an alloy designed to melt at a temperature lower than the metal base. Both pieces must be heated simultaneously until the solder melts. Upon cooling, the solder solidifies to form a firm, lasting joint. The levels of solder are termed extra easy, easy, medium. and hard—depending on their melting points. Typically, they are used in reverse progression on a given piece. It gets pretty complicated.
Then, you actually use a gas blowtorch that you ignite with a bang and flourish on top of a brick. (That’s pretty fun.) You can use a small piece of screen perched atop a six-inch-tall, three-legged stand to perform what’s called a “sweat” solder. And boy, it’s hot. I find soldering truly a mystical, hypnotic process as you wave the glowing torch in back and fort and in a rotating motion over your work — waiting for the glisten of the shiny silver alloy to “pop” and ooze. Thinking of that Scottish play, “Bubble, bubble toil and trouble . . . ” kind of an everyday alchemy.
You heat your carefully wrought jewel one step at a time—avoiding over-heating and/or complete incineration but cajoling and coaxing in carefully and gingerly to “flow.” Jean, our wonderful teacher demonstrated how to almost caress the piece of jewelry with the flame and “fluff it” just enough to achieve the desired response at the appropriate moment. The irony is that the pendant, ring or bracelet turns the blackest black, literally soot-encrusted and then seems to almost undulate with rainbow waves of color rolling and rippling across the once-shiny surface. Magic.
In addition to the mesmerizing beauty of it all, the process struck me as such a basic metaphor for life’s challenges—the reality of going through the most intense heat, pain and darkness to transform into a beautiful, bright work of art. Even the terms to describe the different types of solder fit the analogy – sometimes it’s “easy,” even “extra easy” to stay “in flow,” and sometimes it’s pretty “hard,” and we get stuck. So, we start all over again.
The key learning for me was that every step is essential. No skipping this or that to speed up the process for us impatient, big-picture types. Trust the process. Hmmm . . . Seems I’ve heard that one before. This was the spiritual gateway for me –where I was able to leave behind all the “recent character-building” experiences of my Dallas life and find a renewed sense of feeling centered and at peace. The Zen of soldering, indeed. Each step is a piece of the puzzle.
Like “flux” – the substance you must always use in soldering to facilitate the flow and the bond. Now, that is poetry right there. It’s all about the steps and sequencing. Very instructive stuff on my latest enlightenment journey.
Plus, I walked away with treasures I am proud to own and wear—along with memories of laughter and song. Win-win-win.
Next up: Annealing and Praying . . . don’t you love it?