Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gracie Garp....

While residing at the most beloved of my homes: 320 22nd Street-Santa Monica, my dear, dear friend, Turtle (Richard Turley) who has known me since my nursing days with Justin, called to my attention that being with me was like being with both Gracie Allen and Garp.  **The androgynous aspect is duly noted.  Thus was born my 'other name'--Gracie Garp.

For those who know me, this is probably a very apt description of what might be termed my zany humor and Garpesque antics....

One Thanksgiving, unbeknownst to Turtle, I had a brass plaque made and engraved.  When he arrived, there was the brass plaque mounted on the front door. It read: The Gracie Garp Estate.  Other than confusing the mailperson, it was there to announce the entry into another realm of experiencing the unexplored interior landscapes of whomever crossed the threshold.

And experience, we all did.  Heretofore, elements of any individuals sense of themselves, was able to be pushed past the envelope that they or anyone else had sealed them into.  Those aspects of 'self' that were buried or unexplored were welcome to make a showing within the walls of the estate.  It was a free for all, except for any acts of violence, that allowed for complete and authentic expression of, or just trying on for size, those attributes that wanted an avenue to stretch and explore. What may have been disallowed on 'the outside' world, became welcomed fodder for heart and soul perusal of the 'explorer.'

The estate plaque has traveled with me to many different abodes but wherever it hung, there was the invitation to be yourself...all of yourself...without editing or stifling that which was safely hiding under any veneer of inauthenticity that one felt compelled to maintain.

Gracie Garp has served me well.  I, myself, am beckoned to proceed (sometimes with reckless abandon),  down the vestibules of my inner life to see what has been hidden that wants to come out and play.  And, so it is, always an open invitation to visit the estate...come prepared for 'not knowing' or needing to know, what will come to the light of day or night.  The door is most often unlocked, so just let yourself in.

Gracie Garp

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zen Koan....

"Quick, without thinking: What was your original face before your parents were born?"
                                                                                                                 --Zen Koan

The first time I heard this particular koan, I was struck by the profundity that my original face is actually a total mystery of my original essence.

Furthermore, we are said to also have 'an original voice'...the voice and thoughts; before we are conditioned to blithely repeat and say all that we were told to think or believe in. That original face and voice (story) held without judgmental self consciousness, is something I want to be curious about.  Dismantling all that was innocently taken on is worthy of my attention.

Who am I without 'this face'; this 'story'?

One of my favorite Buddhist practices is referred to as : Touch and Go.  Utilizing the ability to let thoughts come and go without clinging to them as absolute truth....I can use the thought but rest in my heart; the innocence of the heart. An Indian sage, Nisargadatta, said, "The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

I am, myself, a Storyteller.  Stories are not devoid of value.  As a writer, I have come to respect their evocative power.  At best, they replace a deluded cultural narrative or a mis-leading fantasy with a tale of compassion.  Dropping below my story, I can be ushered back to the Mystery of the here and now: when chopping wood, just chop; when washing dishes, just wash.  This may sound is.

Ah, the challenge of not judging my stories or getting too caught up in deconstructing my 'original face', is practicing the mindfullness to question what I have so fiercely clung to as fully representative of my essence, before investing so heavily in a purported solidness that proceeds the danger of becoming a 'fundamentalist.'  Fundamentally, I can fill the bowl with all manner of concretized thoughts and behaviors but I can choose to 'empty' the bowl and allow for a freshness (even for a moment) of 'not knowing; not having to know.

I can almost bring a sense of playfulness to noticing how often I will fill my bowl today and the practice of emptying the bowl...when filling, just fill; when emptying just empty.

Gracie Garp

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Warning....

The Colorado State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, and fishers to take extra precautions and keep alert for bears this time of year.

They advise that people wear noise producing devices such as bells on their clothing to alert but not startle the bears unexpectedly.  They also advise you to carry pepper spray in case of an encounter with a bear.

It is also a good idea to watch for fresh signs of bear activity.  People should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings.  Black bear droppings are smaller and contain berries and possibly squirrel fur.  Grizzly bear droppings have little 'bells' in them and smell like 'pepper.'

Just thought you should know---

Gracie Garp

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Missy Semicolon....

Although I am fully cognizant and deeply compassionate about the extinction of whales, sea turtles, etc., I am, as a writer, distressed about the disappearing act of Missy Semicolon....

In general the semi-colon (;) functions as a weak period or as a strong comma. As a weak period the semi-colon corresponds to a fading pause and full stop in speech similar to but perhaps not quite as final as that represented by a period.  As a strong comma the semi-colon corresponds to a rising or sustained pause in speech possibly longer or slightly more definitive than that represented by a comma.

All that to say, I have noticed when reading today's media prints: newspapers and magazines;  the semicolon has been ousted for the likes of a dash (-) when, clearly, the 'sassier' of colons (the semicolon) would warrant her proper place in punctuation by being admitted into the sentence's structure.

I suspect the culprit of this phenomenon has something to do with the distinction and nuance of a 'fading pause' or the 'rising or sustained' speech that accompanies the proverbial usage of such a semicolon.  There is too much 'speed' in today's pace to warrant one's mindful attention to pauses and rising or sustaining speech. The beauty of speaking with 'right attention' has all but been lost among the rush of hurriedly babbling , thrusting one's communication, at another, with careless tempo's and cadences.

I, for one, immensely enjoy the lilting tones of word and sentence construction. I don't consciously think of this when speaking, as it comes somewhat naturally to someone like myself, who listens for the melody in communication.  I notice some people bark and some people sing when speaking...I think Shakespeare is a 'singer'; much like my beloved writer: Leonard Cohen.  George Bush barks and Obama sings....Walter Cronkite; a singer.  Rush Limbaugh; a barker. At the risk of sounding political: most
Democrats sing and most Republicans bark. who'da thunk?

I digress and implore you to be more mindful of your speaking style, writing style and correct punctuation....I do not convey this with a bark but sorely miss the literary song of Missy Semicolon.

Gracie Garp

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Second Arrow.....

There is a buddhistic concept (and there are many) that works with the notion of self-compassion.  One of my favorites is that of the Second Arrow.  It goes like this: one finds one's self with an experience that renders their sense of acting harmlessly towards one's self or others, in tatters.  Something that I may have said or done,  or being on the  receiving end of one of the poison darts from life, that causes me great sorrow and shatters my delusional  hope:  that I have arrived at a place where I or others can be spared of any type of suffering.

That 'first arrow' may be described as any event whereby I have sustained a great and grievous  situation; an event that threatens to take me down or pin me to the wall of questioning my own basic goodness. The first 'hit' is painful enough but then I add the 'Second Arrow' of adding to the pain with my own self recrimination or condemnation and increase  the pain tenfold.  I habitually and mindlessly fortify the original pain, with an added bull's-eye that clearly marks me as basically bad...reprehensible through and through.

I am learning, albeit very slowly, that I can instead bring a sort of' tender-hearted mercy of attention' to myself and my actions; to mindfully re-think the benefits of carrying around guilt or shame as any kind of attribute that would carry me down the road of canceling out any sense of dignity or nobility that I 'originally possess'....

My transgressions, of which there are many, is notable purely for its sake of a possibility to transform that which could destroy myself or others, into an opportunity for healing versus further destruction. If the Wise Heart can consciously pull out that 'second arrow' and bleed from only the 'first arrow', I stand to gain a gentler approach to anyone or any situation, without adding to the original pain.  The 'first hit' is hopefully painful enough to capture my attention to stop me in my tracks and change course.

Of late, I have become enthralled with my Second Arrows.  They are the matriarchs of possibilities. I am peeling myself off the dart board, getting out of range of the target practice arenas but, still, the slings and arrows of life will find me...the thud of the second arrow 'to the heart' will not find, so easily, a host for self-prescribed self-loathing  Second arrows can be the friends, the teachers for my learning more deeply, self-compassion. As quickly as I send the Second Arrow, there follows an opportunity to dislodge it and as swiftly as the first arrow was sent, I am getting more adept at pulling out that which I send to multiply  my pain and, hopefully, that which I add to other's suffering.

Learning to suffer, with dignity and grace, I can quell the fears of slaying my own heart, abandoning my own basic goodness, revel in the imperfection of being a skilled archer of self-imposed suffering and fill my quiver with less Second Arrows.

Gracie Garp

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hmmm, my neighborhood has just been given notice 'urging' us to be ready for a 'possible' evacuation due to the fires (and high winds) surrounding the foothills of Boulder.

What to take?  I realized there were actually very few 'priceless' items that I would want to keep safe.
For those of you who know that I have some wonderful art and furniture, when it came down to it, they mattered very little.

What did matter:
Favorite photos of Justin and Taylor
My art supplies
My writing journal
Assorted papers for i.d.
Emergency money
All things related to Taylor's Wedding on Oct. 16th
A few books
Cell phone and charger
Tax information--Uncle Sam may or may not excuse me for estimated and 2010 tax payments
All of Justin's birthday letters written to me over the years
Asthma inhaler
My pillow
My favorite black leather boots
Lightweight Buddha Sculpture
Phone list of friends, family and clients
Necessary clothing

It is quite something to notice how much I can walk away from...very freeing in it's own right.
My ideas for 'letting go of my familiar shores' has a deeper meaning for me since I last posted something about that on my last blog entry. Venturing out to live somewhere (other than Boulder) which I have been contemplating of late, really feels significantly apt right now.

And, so, I will leave before dark, go to Carelli's and eat copious amounts of pasta  (way east of Broadway Avenue) and watch and wait to see how this all unfolds.

Gracie Garp

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Losing Sight of the Shore....

I have heard it said:  "One cannot discover new oceans unless one has the courage to lose sight of the shore"
Had I known how terrified (or cowardly) I would feel after allowing myself to actually lose sight of the shore, I highly doubt I would have been so fervently asking for 'deep change' in my life; had I reckoned with the possibility that my whole world and mind would turn upside down.
I had not thought of, nor intended, to begin my voyage to new oceans in an environmental hell realm...I thrive in beauty and esthetic balance. For me, my new residence has neither.  Rather, the walls and furniture close in on me and although I do have some exquisite antiques and fine art...they now are suitably placed and feel like ghosts of the past...they used to reflect back to me a sense of creative solace. Now, with a felt sense of wherever I rest my eyes, everything I see looks tacky, dumpy and even funerary!!!  Something is dying inside of me since I moved in. This house is not big enough for two Ego's--one of them will have to's hoping it is my Large Ego and not the necessary smaller ego.
This home is a far cry from the coziness of the Bilbo Hut. I wake up each morning and feel like I have been whisked away to The Purgatory Home for the Wayward.  Maybe this deep change needed to first begin with this amount of disequilibration. It has become apparent that the misery I am  experiencing, is in realizing I 'have' become Wayward!  The material and interior of the house has become a 'mirror' for my plight. This home has been my first step in 'losing sight of the shore.'From where I lay my head at night, I look upon 'things' that no longer hold my adoration.  Well, adoring 'things' is a sure way to get lovingly/lifesavingly slapped up the side the head by the Muses of "Wake Up-Your Soul-Boat is Sinking!!"  Since I have not yet learned to walk on water, I am going to have to settle for the much needed ordinary mode of water transportation: dog-paddling through the under currents of the familiar me now becoming a stranger. In my further search of what really matters to me, I find the need to ask myself: 'What am I willing to risk, lose or sacrifice to find out?'
I have clung so desperately to 'my shore' of having a particular style and esthetic to my home or life; to stave off looking at the current persona that I have tried to project that 'all is well, all is peaceful with my soul.'  This particular move has seemed to just rip off any mask I was wearing from the moment I arrived.  Now, tender, vulnerable and exposed, I sense another pivotal spiritual crossroads is at hand for me. I find myself clearly half way in, with no going back--the shoreline is barely visible at this moment in time.
And so it is, I have set sail and have been 'invited' to loosen all the moorings that I have counted on thus far in my life...Some evenings there is a full moon in sight but there are those moonless evenings, where although I need to make this voyage solo, I am guided by the stars; reminded that there is another shore awaiting my arrival....

Gracie Garp