Which comes first?
For the longest time now, especially since I moved, I’ve been trying to handle unstructured time in a profitable way, and I think I’ve finally figured it out!
When I wake up, I usually have a good feeling. My bed is nice, my room is pretty, there are a couple of super cute cats to greet me, I’m alive again for another day, and so much awaits.
I putter around inviting the light in. I open the doors and the shades, leaving some just so, so the orchids don’t get burnt. I take a thyroid pill—still trying to discern whether that’s right, what it is, and how much, and does it really make the difference?
My home is expensive. It’s been fine while I’ve got money from the sale of my house, but without enough work, that supply is dwindling, this is what comes to my mind on these mornings. I’ve spent a lot of time creating a haven for myself, and I want to be here for awhile. But I am not sure how that’s going to work, and thus my dilemma. What do I do first?
I know the cats need to be fed, and even if I’m very hungry, taking the thyroid means I have to wait an hour. So, it’s all open after I do that, and thus my dilemma. Even getting dressed means making a choice, because it depends on what I’m going to do.
This should all be so simple as not to even merit discussion, or discourse, there’s only me here, I suppose, but then, there you are too. Which is why I write in this way. So I can consider things, and you might too.
The question I’ve been trying to answer is what’s most important. And that’s not easy to answer, because of course, you have to take into account what’s going on, and what’s required, other people, time schedules, etc. But the thing is, when I don’t have a regular schedule, I get all messed up, because apparently, I’m not that great at making the right choice about where I should start and what should come next. And I’m measuring how good I am at that by what’s resulting. I know, according to yogic philosophy, that’s not the measure, it’s always the process, the journey, what I’m experiencing and learning along the way. But I’m trying to achieve certain things, like being able to pay the rent and the bills, to advance creatively, to connect with more friends and family, both here at home where I now live, in LA of the sunny sunshine, and back at my old home in rainy Seattle, where there are so many beloveds about whom I care a lot.
The choices are many. I’m going to start grad school next week, and there’s a ton of understanding all the ins and outs of all the forms, the usernames and passwords, the organizing this, and the choosing that.
Then there’s the simple demands of what needs to be done here. Besides feeding the cats, I make sure the litter box is clean (although they go outside and barely use it except when I have to be gone for extended periods), making the bed, and tending all the many plants inside and out. I didn’t leave that behind after all. I have 3 outdoor spaces: a front porch, a back porch, and my rose garden down below. There are tons of plants friends that need so many different things: watering, of course, but also fertilizing, and bug removal- I know, yuck, right, but it’s just like giving your kid a bath, really – and moving because the sun changes its path and sometimes I don’t know that’s been necessary until someone’s leaves have gotten scorched in an afternoon while I was absent and then I feel bad. The rose garden I planted down below, and all the rest of the things I either moved around or added, like the hydrangea under the steps- perfect location because of the way the sun filters through- doesn’t get sufficient water from the sprinkler system, so I must make sure everything’s soaked. The temperatures have been in the 90’s and mostly high 90’s for weeks now, and if you miss watering, you’ll see disaster very shortly. So, there’s that.
And I like things to be clean. My daughter firmly believes that I’m kindof a pig, I think, just not aware of details like a refrigerator that could use a more thorough scrubbing, or the fact that my car needs to be washed, again. But she’s not a mother yet, and she hasn’t owned a home, so she doesn’t know the responsibilities I’ve taken on and had for years and years, and how tired you can get, and how, no matter how hard you try, there are only so many things you can accomplish in a day, and so many that seem to slip away repeatedly, either because they’re easy to forget or overlook, or because they’re somewhat out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Or they’re not easy, or they’re particularly time-consuming, or they’re just the kind you want to avoid, because they’re too hard, like repairing a fence gate, or hauling stuff away, or moving something that’s too heavy to do alone. Around here, I have less of that to deal with, and thank God, because I’ve needed a break from it for years. But certain aspects of that equal home to me, so I recreated them here, and I gladly do what’s there to be done, to enjoy what they offer, like the beauty of the mandevillea blossoms, that have just the right light, and the fragrance of the roses that are not getting too much light and heat. So, I’m not a piggy householder at all. I’m awake and aware and it can be overwhelming, just sayin’.
What I’m really dealing with is, though, is: body or mind or heart?
I don’t lose weight easily. I don’t overeat either. I exercise constantly, daily, and do I lose weight? No. Not really. Am I fat? Not very. Am I comfortable? No. I resist aging and the facts of my particular anatomy, because I feel that to surrender is just not one of the options. I’ve got a lot of pain from various injuries, and I know that I must keep moving, but I have to careful about how much I push. And so I have the things that I know work: swimming, and yoga, and weights and walking. I haven’t returned to Pure Barre, although I bought a month unlimited, because that’s how I injured my knee and although it’s been months since I did that practice, it’s still an issue.
What I know is that I have to move. And if I don’t, then, around here, I can get static, especially if there’s no appointment, no session, no class, no demand. If I don’t move early enough, then somehow, I get stuck. For me, there’s this middle-of-the-day doldrum that comes creeping around, and if I’ve not moved, then I’ll get caught in it, and need to lie down, even though I never let myself, because I don’t feel I can afford that luxury.
Then there’s the fact that I’ve woken up another morning alone. I’m used to it, but a bit numb. It used to hurt. I used to miss particular people I’ve loved, and even the ones I’ve hated, and I used to feel ashamed, like there was something wrong with me, that I—as that one popular card, with the pixelated cartoon of the tearful woman on it, said – “forgot to get married.” How could I forget this essential choice of American life? How could I have prioritized mine so differently that my path has been full of twists and turns that don’t look in any way normal? How could I let the best men go, or, in one case, die? And somehow keep around the destructive, harmful ones much longer than I should have? How? This remains one of the biggest mysteries I still have to solve. Because according to Daniel Giamario, the esteemed shamanic astrologer I consulted with, partnership is one of the main tasks I’ve come to learn, that I came in with what I know, which is the pride of doing things myself, and proving my worth by not needing anyone. This time around, I’m supposed to find a way to do it with someone, and God only knows, I better not get hit by a car or something, because there’s probably less than half of my allotted time here left, and if I don’t find him soon, then I won’t have fulfilled that part of my purpose. And it’s not just my need to understand mutuality and cooperation. It’s to know love, of course. Which is why I get stymied in this area, too. I cannot seem to bring myself to the now accepted way of finding a partner. I can’t stomach the idea of “shopping for people.” That’s how I view online dating, no matter how normal it’s become. I still have this old-fashioned notion that you could actually encounter a person in person! How quaint! I know that. Since, obviously, that hasn’t happened yet, or when it has happened it hasn’t panned out—panned out! Like gold-mining, no? How bizarre that we say this. Anyway, I know this is something I either need to take some action about, or not, and I keep choosing or not, basically, and here we are. Well, there is one person I am hopeful about. But I’ve done what I can do, and we have to see what we shall see.
Which brings me to the last category. My mind. I love to read. And I’d do it so much more if I only could. It’s now become something of a guilty pleasure—reading! when it’s so basic and necessary, we need it, and yet, I only really do it before bed, when my eyeballs are falling out from fatigue and my retention factor is greatly reduced because what I really need to be doing is sleeping.
But even more than that, and that’s a big thing, because I’ve loved loved loved reading since I was 5-year-old, I love to write. And I’m writing this today, because I finally came, after much trial and error in this still rather new location for me, this new home, to the conclusion that THIS is the first thing I need to be doing in the morning no matter WHAT else the day may hold. I’ve known this before, that no matter that there were miles to drive to dress that set, or that I had rehearsals to prepare for when I was at the Academy, I wrote during those periods, and you know why? Because I had that schedule. I knew when I had to be where, and it allowed me to choose my time wisely, to plan, to leave enough of it, to sleep enough, and to get up early enough, to keep my eyes open and be open to the ideas about what I wanted to say. It’s been since those jobs ended, and the subbing has been almost non-existent, and the private sessions have been few and far between, and I’ve not quite known what to do to scare up the work I must find, because I need to create income, somehow, somehow, that I’ve not been writing. And it’s bad.
Choosing to go back to school has been a mixed bag of emotions for me. Because I tried it before and I didn’t get in. And it made me question whether or not I was “supposed” to. But I am driven to teach, and teaching yoga, while in my rare previous scenario of working for a state-funded college offered benefits and retirement and all that, that’s not usually how it goes. However, teaching actual school is different. And part of why I’m doing this is that I don’t want to land on my daughter’s doorstep sooner than later. I don’t want to be dependent on her at all if I don’t have to. There it is again—this need to do it myself. But seriously, I’ve got to give her all the space she needs to flourish for as long as humanly possible.
And so this choice is motivated by several factors. I have always wanted to make a difference. I just want to do it as a director. And because I don’t know how, I figure this is a way there. It’s a bit round-about, true, but why not work with kids? All my directing is academic anyway. And I love school—being there, working there, the whole thing. I do believe that my greatest contribution is to tell story. And helping kids find the ways to tell theirs is part of that.
AND this brings me back to the relief I am feeling this morning to have, at long last! arrived at what needs to come first. It’s not that my body isn’t important—but I’m going to jump in the pool at some time of day no matter what, and I’ll drag myself to yoga in the evening, even if I’m much better energized for it in the morning. As far as finding the man of my dreams, well, much as I know I’m supposed to take action and get on those sites and pursue something, I just have to honor my way, and work more on opening my heart than spending time online.
No, what I have to do, what I must do, every morning regardless of whatever else is going on, is to take care of my mind and WRITE. Because when I do, I feel real. I know I’m here. I have a chance to articulate my thoughts, and to connect the dots, to consider things, and to place them before others for their consideration.
I think I’ve known this for a long time now. But, as guilt and shame are the major areas of healing that I have to work on, as they are my biggest life lessons, I have forever and ever and ever, let them get in the way. I’ve felt that I must make sure to be practical, and get that money coming in steadily, that I’ve got to do certain things to ensure my success on all kinds of levels. But the truth is, unless I do this, none of that will happen. Because I won’t be connected with myself. And if I’m not connected here, with me, first thing in the morning, then it’s no wonder that the rest of the day can unravel so easily. It’s no surprise that I lose steam and momentum and energy. I need to be tapped into the creative self, or nothing else is even worth doing.
And so! School begins next week, the blessed scheduling factor will be there helping me to plan and I will be writing each day. It may not be long, like this—longer than anyone apparently has the patience to read, perhaps- but it will be steady. That’s what I’ve come to, thank goodness! And I know, in my soul, that that’s how I’m meant to proceed… that that’s how I’m meant to live.
©2012 Annette Romano
It’s so easy to fall into old patterns of self-abuse. By that I mostly mean not paying attention to the obvious signals my body is giving me. Because things are in a constant state of change, and I simply can’t assume that what goes for today will work tomorrow; it won’t. And it may take my entire life to undo the neglect of the early years and the abuse of the later ones—subtle, these: not blatant, not the kind that’s obvious and so more easily identified, and thus, overcome. No.
I practice an ancient form of healing, yoga, and then I don’t realize that, although it seems that things have worsened over time, they really haven’t, in fact, the opposite is true.
So, for example, I eat something, say, a nightshade, like potatoes, and garden all afternoon and find myself exhausted and sore. It’s not the physical activity, it’s trying to accomplish it when I’ve ingested what is, to my system, poison. Again, not clout- you- over- the- head- type thing. It’s subtle.
Poison for a person who can’t eat nightshades is slow. So, yoga being the practice of awareness, I learn what’s what by finding how I respond to certain things. The trick is to have enough space to discover them in some kind of isolation so as not to be confused.
So, I’ve been eating one thing at a time. I’ve been eating what I know I want. And what I’ve learned is that if I eat what I want, things are fine. If I eat just a bit of it, that is. If I think, oh, okay, that’s what’s on for now, and then continue to choose that for any extended period, I’m messed up. So, there’s no relying on any panaceas, any certainty. There’s only paying attention, and noticing the effects of any choice.
Unfortunately, the negative effect can be rather overwhelming. So, I can become lethargic and unproductive, but once I’m there, it’s hard to counteract until it’s done. So, I’m learning the art of paying attention and making choices but keeping amounts small and observing the results, and then listening again, and moving from there.
It’s true of the asana practice too. I attended a class last week in the evening, not my best practice time, but it was convenient on that particular day. This is a very good teacher, who combines challenges with love, and I like her a lot. But physically, it’s too demanding for my body, especially at that time of day. I also don’t prefer long practices. An hour and a half is too much for me. An hour would do just fine, or an hour and 15, if the last 15 is really spent resting.
Is it age? I hate to admit that it could be, because I somehow feel that yoga is a practice that I’ve earned and that I shouldn’t lose any part of it just because time is passing. But I must acknowledge that pushing myself into difficult postures when I’m obviously in a kind of a transition is not only not wise, it’s seriously detrimental, because what it equals is lost time. And I can’t afford to lose any more of that than I’ve already lost.
In these states of dis-ease, I don’t function optimally. I feel low, and then down on myself for not doing things, but I don’t have the energy and don’t feel I can. Literally. And there goes more hours of my life.
There’s this turning point I reached some time back where I suddenly got that any moment that passes is gone, forever. This sounds so trite and so obvious, but it’s one thing to say that and it’s another to really experience it.
And so I try to be careful about how I spend my time. When I get stuck in an automated phone system, I get angry. When I’m dealing with trying to get through to someone who can help me fix technology and get shuffled from one department to another and pretty soon the afternoon is eaten away, I get really frustrated. I don’t have that kind of time. If I spend it that way, I will get old and die without having accomplished what I came here for.
Oh, yes, I let myself feel good about all the things I’ve learned—and even delight in, such as creating a new rose garden out of a very tiny plot of dirt. Or experimenting with how to toast the almonds just so long and how small to grate the chocolate so that it will melt perfectly in the cherry gelato I’m making (for other people, since I’m not eating either of those things.) I find music I can play along with so that I really play, and don’t just fool around with, my harmonica. I decorate. I take the various small spaces that combine to make my home here, and I use different elements than I have in the past to see what constitutes aesthetic pleasure and beauty for me, and hopefully others, now.
But these are things I choose when they’re all I can do, in a way.
Because I have long felt, and I mean, for many years, that if I’m not a theatre artist, then I’m really not living my life. Which is why I got so depressed and felt so stuck in Seattle—there was no way to do what I wanted there. It was a completely closed system.
In fact, that city is particularly cruel. I look back on my gradual compliance with what is, there, and it’s even kindof shocking, when I admit the extent of it.
Like all kids, I started out innocent. I accepted myself, and I moved through life that way, just being available and having a certain naivete about everything. I just accepted that I was there, so life was for me. And through a strange combination of Catholic schools and economic and ethnic elitism, standards I had no idea were in place, much less in existence, and God only knows what else (I certainly don’t) I eventually came to understand—although I fought it for years – that the things that many people just take for granted, were not going to be mine without a mighty fight. I speak here mostly of work, but also the simplicity of relationship—that of meeting someone and the whole process that eventually culminates in marriage. I still haven’t ever managed to understand that one and probably never will. I feel lucky when I even have a decent conversation with a man who’s not an obvious criminal. But I digress.
If I can’t find a way to create story-telling, preferably as a director (although I would consider acting again if the opportunity should present itself) than I’m not living the life I was born to.
And even with writing—it’s like, I learn it, and especially lately, new ways that really work, and I can feel how it’s a viable alternative, and it does provide for a certain sense of satisfaction, because it demands true creativity, and it can lead me where I want to go—literally telling the story.
But all these things I do, because I can’t figure out how to do what I really want.
I have never known. I tend to hope others will invite me or that somehow it will come. And sometimes it does. But since I’m a chlld of the long-ago neglect of well-meaning parents, and the many years of abuse, at the hands of sociopaths and narcissists that pretended to be boyfriends, I have so much healing to do. I feel less than, unworthy, and I hope I can still work, but how can I expect to be acknowledged or approved of, chosen, when I don’t feel that way about myself? It’s not possible.
So, the work I have before me is this: using the moments I’m given while I still have some resources to live on, to become much, much more healthy and clear (and now that I understand this more fully, to just LIGHTEN UP about, oh, pretty much, everything!) to seek the appropriate collaborators in the right places where I will be able to do my true work, and to become sure about exactly what those stories are that I need to be telling.
And it all comes down to me, I’m clear on that. I just have to keep in mind all I know, but assume nothing, and do my best to proceed with optimism and courage, practicing, practicing, practicing…
©2012 Annette Romano
An anthropologist proposed a game to children in a tribe. He put a basket full of fruits near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first would win the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”. In the Xhosa culture, UBUNTU means: “I am because we are.”
It’s an exquisite morning. Yesterday was the first day of spring!
The people in Seattle kept asking me before I left, “Aren’t you going to miss the seasons?” And the thing is, I would, if I was going to have to! But the changing of the season is felt and oh, I do feel it. It’s not just the buds on the big tree outside my front window, which was rattling with a few shriveled brown, curled things when I came, that fell and crunched when you stepped on them, and then, when they were done, that tree was as bare a skeleton as any in the Northwest.
It’s not just that the mockingbirds are so boisterously proclaiming it, with every fancy new riff that pours out of their tiny throats.
Or the “ant-colony” out back, where I saw a circle of hard-hatted construction workers circle up yesterday morning before their day’s work converting the Tujunga Wash into a walking/biking path, for what looked like a good pep talk and a stretch. (I wanted to go out and offer my services, because it looked pretty pitiful, that part, but it was also very brief of course! And I didn’t have time to get out of my nightie.)
It’s the awakening—and that’s what spring is all about, isn’t it? awakening - of possibility in my heart, because this is the first morning that I get to go do what I came here for! And that’s direct.
It’s so perfect that these students are just the age of the students that I left. I love that time period in life, early 20’s, all eager, and hopeful, and searching, and driven. And I LOVE an arts school, because it’s got passion roaring through the halls like the waves of the ocean: huge, elemental, natural, necessary.
Yesterday as I prepared for my first day with the play I was assigned, called, of all things, Magic Time- I love that! - it felt like cranking up the gears of old machinery. Carefully now! Don’t push that part, it needs oil, and that, that piece almost broke some time back, but we’ve replaced it, work that part in now, gently, and start turning, mindfully, and use your concentration and strength, and ah! there she goes, heaving to life again, slowly, and then with more steam, until, surely, after many hours, Wa La!!
Preparing a new promptbook, which required me to call upon all of my resources of memory and creativity, with help from my old pals Louis Catron, Ann Bogart, and Bill Ball, and especially Leslie Swackhamer, but even more importantly, the me that I was for one shining year! was invigorating and a little tiring at the same time.
But I’ve learned to apply what it is I tell my yoga students, and what I will tell these new ones today: You must be kind to yourself. That unholy criticism doesn’t work. Nurture, practice, and love yourself. With the yoga, it’s the only way to find the pose, the mantra, the pranayama. With theatre, it’s the only way you’re going to be able to glean what the playwright intended, find how you can interpret that and bring the story to life, and create what you’ll offer, your gift, your light, to your audience, who’ll come to listen, to learn, and to grow.
©2012 Annette Romano
Interesting thing about renaissance. It’s FUN. Granted, there are scary moments on the roller coaster of realization, but for the most part, it’s fun, because the ups and downs and turn-arounds keep on revealing more. The present moment truly IS where it all happens, and the job is to get anything out of the way that prevents you from being able to be truly there.
The dust settles a bit and now I can turn my attention from what I need to make the home comfortable, to what I need to re-join the group of souls I walked away from so long ago. There’s a certain, self-imposed pressure to create and an uncertainty about how.
But it’s a large landscape and a huge vista—plenty of choice. I don’t feel intimidated by those who’ve gone before me, and I don’t care that there are those on the path who’ve been on earth half as long as I have. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is this connecting belief in the importance of expression.
The practicalities of everyday life can take over if one isn’t careful, and for someone slightly ocd, like me, it’s pretty treacherous when the continual adaptation to a new environment threatens to eclipse the reason I’m in the environment in the first place.
Modern life requires a steep learning curve that has had me tackling many things, some of which I just don’t want to know! I don’t want to know where the stud is in the wall in order to screw in the dang thingie to hold the shelf in place! I don’t want to be the one putting the new back on the mirror or assembling the bed frame or ANY of that garbage!!
Well, I’ve done them regardless of how I feel about it, and have a particular sense of satisfaction now when I look around. Those used to be the kinds of things I only did when there wasn’t enough work, and I was restless, so I started looking for ways to be creative. Now to the real work. That sounds pretentious, but it isn’t meant to. It’s all real work. I just mean my real work.
Bill Ball writes in “A Sense of Direction” that belief is an essential component of the theatre experience. The more the actors believe, the more the audience believes and the more the audience believes, the more the actors believe. It feeds upon itself and creates what he calls a “self-hypnosis of belief, a rapture of belief, an orgy of belief.” We create something and feel alive and enthusiastic because our beliefs have been awakened and renewed.
Yoga has taught me to be with whatever is as fully as possible. (And of course, many paths advocate this- I sometimes refer to it as “Byron Katy-ing”. :) ) This is not always easy because, especially in transition, so much is unknown, that it’s tempting to want to run backwards or re-create the known in order not to freak out.
Continuing the practice off the mat much more than on it at this point in time, has proved immeasurably valuable. Yes, it’s amazing to be teaching 16 classes a week, to be stating my beliefs again and again, allowing them to find their own language through me, without premeditation, and to lift others and bring them along.
However, it’s truly magical to be my own student, and allow what I’ve learned and what I have come to believe is true – that if we remain present enough, we will recognize that, without a doubt, we’re creating our own reality - to guide me moment-to-moment as I make my way in my new life.
It has a lovely familiar feel to it, like the voice of an old friend, or the kiss of a true love.
©2012 Annette Romano
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.
I woke up thinking, “The trick is wanting what you have.”
What do I have?
Well, from that initial standpoint: a comfortable bed, with all that that entails—sheets, pillows, blankets; two happy, purring kitties, in a room that’s spacious, with windows that provide light, and a view of the mountains out of one of them, and of a swimming pool (never planned on that one!) out of another.
Elsewhere in the house, there are plenty of things: useful things, educational ones, necessities, and then those that are decorative—I was going to say, merely decorative, but there’s no “mere” about it. I need beauty to live. So, I appreciate the colors of the art on the walls and of the furniture, of the orchids growing on the tabletops and windowsills.
But in the larger sense of that thought, it, of course, goes beyond things. I’ve got enough to eat, food, enough to wear, clothing, and as they say, a roof over my head, shelter.
Who could ask for anything more?
What about wanting what you do?
Ok. What do I do?
I sleep, rise, let the kitties out, let the sunshine in, and I write. I water the plants, inside and out, the mandevillea, the hibiscus, the begonia, the geranium, the gardenia, and all the succulents whose names I don’t yet know, and the roses. I feed the cats, and I make breakfast for me.
I consider the day: do I need to drive down to the location and dress the set? Do I need to go to the yoga studio and work at the desk? I read reviews of plays, so I can decide which plays to read. I study directing, and plan the production of the script I want to put up. I look at all the details of applying for this Master’s in Teaching that will bring me more of what I hope to do.
I clean, and cook, and swim, and practice mantra while I do. I meet with my hummingbird buddy and hope he likes the fuschia I got for him.
Then, we come to wanting who you are.
I am the embodiment of God. I’m deep and confused, steady and clear, content and concerned, happy and sad. I’m a woman, a thinker, writer, director, actor, teacher, singer, yogi, swimmer, piano and harmonica and future accordion player. I’m a baker of cookies and maker of gelato. I’m a gardener. I’m a book-, theatre-, and movie-lover. I’m a mother. A daughter. A sister. An aunt. A friend.
I have so much more than can be mentioned. Because of course, all of these areas overlap. I have the home I lived in in Seattle—no, I don’t “own” it anymore, but it exists in my mind, as I knew it, and the surrounding garden, and the neighbors, and all my friends there, and my students, and the work I did. Some would say, the past is the past, but I think memory is an essential part of our humanity.
And I have my new home, this sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, in all its beauty and squalor. I have the things I’ve learned that I can apply here to create more of the life I want.
I have the lessons I learned from the way I did things before, and what I know now not to do, and what I’d like to do more of, such as go to sleep a little earlier; be kind and patient with the cats - and with the neighbors - and with my friends; drink less wine and more water; discern whether someone can hear what I’m telling them; not listen to liars… having listened to them, trust again.
I stay with how I feel instead of run. It’s wildly uncomfortable. But what other choice is there? I’ve learned that if I don’t, it will only persevere. I listen to what my habit compels me to eat, and I consider whether it’s necessary. I consider my options before I proceed, sometimes a little too long, yes, but I’m practicing breathing, so it’s worth it. I’m observing. I’m weighing choices, I’m making them, and I’m proceeding, either a tentative step at a time or by a prodigious leap.
Is it enough?
Wanting what I have, and what I do, and who I am would mean that I must be ok with all the things that I don’t have, and I’m not doing, and that I am not.
Am I ok?
Well, truthfully, no, not entirely. There are plenty of things I see and would like, like a new car, because mine is definitely on the downhill slide, and a new painting to replace one I’m no longer enamored with and in fact, haven’t been, for years. I go through swimsuits like crazy, and right now would like more summer dresses, and (it pretty much goes without saying—are all women like this?) more shoes.
But I don’t need any of this, not desperately anyway.
I’d like to have more energy to cook more inventively and put to use the many cookbooks that I have that I’ve used, but not exhausted certainly, not by a long shot. I’d like to play more music and sing more often – and with and for other people, since it’s fun, and I do it well.
I want to teach. It’s a gift to do that. I love it, and am meant to do it.
I need to go to the beach more, and out to the theatre, and even movies.
I’d like to act again, if the circumstances are right. It would be fun to make commercials again, if I don’t have to suffer to accomplish that.
And write, of course—to speak using the new tools I’ve got, and tell the stories only I can tell.
But mostly, I want to direct, because it’s the single thing I’m best at, and I know I’m meant to do it, and it’s just a question of how.
Oh, I’d like to be skinnier (always), stronger (especially my hands), and more beautiful. I’d like it if my body would ignore the passage of time and retain some of what I used to be like. I wish I was the sort that knew just the right thing to say, and said it at the time, instead of thinking of it later, when it’s too late, and doesn’t matter anymore. And I’d like to be more productive, in just about every respect. Better read, more accomplished, making a larger contribution and a bigger difference.
In the perfect scenario? Is there such a thing?
I’d have enough income from being a successful director, creating superlative theatre to share everything I have with others.
I’d spend my days immersed in the art of storytelling, and still have time to swim, garden, cook, read, practice yoga, play the piano, and pet the cats.
I’d be my own true love’s own true love, and move through time in connection with him, and with space between us, so that who we are is our best selves, for ourselves, one another, and everyone we come in contact with.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for, envision, create. Starting right here, right now, with all I’ve got, and everything I do, and all that I am.
Yes!! I am grateful for another wonderful day.
©2012 Annette Romano
He looked so ordinary, but what an extraordinary human being.
For the past few days, I’ve been feeling worried, and somewhat anxious and fearful. Holidays have always been loaded for me, what with family difficulties of every stripe, and my longings for “perfection.” Mother’s Day is no exception.
My first Mother’s Day, my daughter was about a month and a half old, having made her first appearance on April Fool’s Day. She was born on Stephen Gaskin’s farm in Tennessee, in Summertown, near Lawrenceburg, outside Nashville. The previous summer, there was one night I will never forget.
"Come on! Come out here! It’s fantastic! It’s pouring like crazy!"
It was a hot night in July, and we were in love. Marc was tall, with a sweet, handsome face, and a long, blond ponytail, and at the moment, dripping wet. We stood in our big backyard outside our rental house in North Carolina, and there was a sudden summer thunderstorm thundering right, and I mean right, over our heads. We were on windowpane, and being outside directly below the forked lightning felt like the perfect thing to do. The whole place kept lighting up completely and you could see the lightning like the filaments inside a bulb, magnified many times, so that they looked like mercurial rivers, pulsing and unpredictable above us. There was that sense of suspension and anticipation in the pause after one of the forks would snake across the blackness, and then the thunder would pound on our eardrums, shake the ground, and rattle our whole beings. And the rain just cavalcaded over us, all the while, like it does in the south.
We jokingly referred to ourselves as “the white trash on the corner” with our old house that had porches on 3 sides, and a slightly overgrown yard, and the need for a new paint job. In the lightning, it looked like an early 20th century work of art.
Marc had grabbed another beer and stashed it in the side pocket of his overalls, and we stood in the rain, drinking Stroh’s out of cans. We’d just learned, for sure, that we were pregnant. He was thrilled, and I was terrified. But standing out in the rain was so good. All that fear and worry about the future was melted away in the much larger drama of the storm.
Marc took ahold of my hand, and said, “We can either swim upstream like crazy, or climb in the boat and just take the ride.” I trusted him and the rest is history, as they say.
Many years later, I was betrayed on Mother’s Day. Not by Marc. And that’s a whole other story…. but what I meant to touch on is the way our bodies— and this seems true to me, even in light of the fact that our cells are continuously regenerating to the extent that we find ourselves entirely physically new every 7 years or whatever it is — store our memories for as long as we live. That is, unless we determine to let these things go, and make the conscious effort to do so, take the necessary steps, and cleanse our minds and hearts and all the rest of it.
The year cycles around, as do all the smaller increments of time that comprise it. And our energy courses through the prana vayus of our beings from the moment of our conception to the moment when we leave our form, whenever it may be. In between, the heart beats, the glands secrete, the systems hum along together. To me, the most crucial element of this cycling is the breath. And it’s also the primary tool for moving the energy through and out when we need to dislodge an experience that it’s time to let go of.
I found myself caught up in various emotional states surrounding this Mother’s Day, because of having been a mother for 30 years now, so much time and experience, so many memories, good and bad, so much life gone by and still going on. And what I discovered is that I have NOT been breathing, for the past few days, anyway. Not fully, not well. I’ve been scared of what life holds for me now that I’ve changed everything, and worried about what I’ve left behind, or in the case of Tessa, who has left me— in a good way! But she’s grown and flown and happy as anything.
And what is there for me to be afraid of, really? Nothing! It’s all just one breath at a time, no matter what happens. My only choice in any given moment is to honor the depth and the rhythm of the God-given breath, and just let it come to me, come… and then go just as easily… over and over again, kindof like the memories do, free to visit my mind and float away again, kindof like the emotions can if you don’t hang on to them.
I had a GREAT Mother’s Day yesterday, from the early long, luxurious phone call from Tessa, to brunch at the 94th Aero Squadron, to a glorious sunshiny hike in Fryman Canyon, to a performance of Terra Nova at the Academy, with my friends and surrogate family.
And this beautiful Monday morning, I am breathing soundly once again.
Perfect for Waking UP.
Having wrested myself from the clutches of my sodden (cold wet dark dark dark) hometown, it’s an amazing thing to wake up each day not knowing how I’ll do what I’ll do, but feeling the joy of discovering that. I’ve had nightmares and fantastic visions both.
Last night I dreamed about being with an old friend, who I spoke with yesterday after so many years. He and I were in this place that was rotting- there was literally mold growing on things. We had to re-learn these songs from a musical to perform, and they were hard to remember, the show was long and very complex. There was a man there to help us, but I don’t know who he was.
Somehow in this process, my cats were kittens again. But in the case of one of them, I knew that the grown cat he’d been, had been with me already, and I had lost him. I set about looking and felt quite driven to find him, because for most of the time, I hadn’t even realized he was gone. When I finally did, he was emaciated and discolored and sick, but I was so relieved, that I just held him and cried. And I determined that I would save his life and that I would not lose him again.
We knew that it was time to get out of that place and the man that was there to help had this getaway vehicle for us, but while we were trying to go, there was this old derelict man throwing smoke bombs all over the place, so it was difficult to see. But we got in the car (or whatever it was, I’d never seen a vehicle quite like it) and got away.
Perfect symbolism: finding an old friend, working hard together to re-learn old skills, having to get out of a decrepit environment in a vehicle that I don’t recognize, having help, nurturing new life, but saving an old love, and despite the obscured vision, managing to escape, and become free again.
What a gift the dreaming mind is! I am, once again, humbly grateful.
©2012 Annette Romano