Tag: happiness


Gratitude meditation

I haven’t done this before, but I am following up with more specifics for the meditation mentioned in my other blog today. Although, now that I come to write it, I am having a hard time figuring out if this is a meditation or guided self-therapy. Most of my favorite meditations: tonglen, lecta divina, are much less chatty and visually oriented than this one was. Still, it helped. I will focus on the last stretch, when I had finally calmed down the howling worry and heartache. Imagine the hour and a half of gnashing of teeth that came before – just listening to it and trying not to fight it. Once I began to quiet a bit and could focus on the cure rather than enduring the despair, the path went something like this:

– I am grateful for my legs (I was inverted, with my legs above me in the air) that they have been holding me up for so long. They look thinner and stronger than they have in years – I am grateful for the chance to bring that appearance into how they manifest physically. I am grateful for my feet and for that in this moment, I can feel them.

– I am grateful for my hands, heavy though they feel, because they can make such beautiful art. I am grateful that they are also content to lie still for a few moments.

– I am grateful that I have this soft skin, and this body so eager for sensation. The fan blows over me and I see a wild array of color, which fills me with gratitude. While my vision is very blurry right now, I am grateful because the world is still recognizable despite the haze.

– I am grateful that I am breathing, even though it hurts, because without that there would be no life. Around all these difficulties, despite them, life can be so very wonderful. I am grateful for the rhythm that the lungs and heart create – it soothes me when I can quiet down enough to hear it.

– I am grateful that I can be this still and quiet and not fall asleep! I can listen deeply to the world, hearing sounds that normally would not come to me. The dog’s snoring brings me much comfort. Every time the meditation buzzer goes off, I know that another twelve minutes has passed, all the blood in my body has done the full circuit and change has occurred.

– I am grateful that I have this building in which to dwell. It may be gone tomorrow, but for now, I have this marvelous space soaring above me and the softness of the cushions below me.

– I am grateful for the people who have come here, admiring my work and the effort of my hands, even though they have not purchased anything. Having my words read, my art seen, the pots I have made handled, all provides sublime satisfaction.

– I am most grateful for the quiet that I have finally found within myself. Now that I think about it, i am also grateful for the howling, deadly despair that filled me this morning – it proves that I still care, that I have not surrendered completely, and that I still exist. Its ebbing away proves that I am getting better.

– I am grateful that even though I have been exhausted beyond measure today, I managed to write. The poems and prose are so terribly sad, but they helped to exorcize my depression. I am grateful that the flow of words, watching the ink flow from my pen in this wonderful sensual delight of writing, can soothe me to my bones.

I kept going, finding things wonderful and tiny to give thanks for: the softness of the pillow beneath my head, the sunlight streaming in through the windows, the hidden communion with the world that I feel when I just sit and listen to it go by.

Maybe this will help – for honestly right now, this kind of practice is the only thing keeping me going.

poem: one good day

A day of bliss.

Sleeping until well rested,
and awaking refreshed.
Miraculously, i accomplished everything
i needed to do.
Even better,
these hands formed loveliness
with clay.

My heart felt strong,
after days when i thought
it had broken beyond repair.

Joy over this grain of hope
bubbled out of me.

i sang rhymes
to grumpy cats
and watched my dog
run down the beach.

i rejoiced over the quietest moments.

Even arguing
with the phone company
did not leave me

One good day.

One good day
and i feel almost human;
the realization that i can come up
out of the darkness
for a quick breath of air
and a moment in sunshine
makes me giddy.

written 26 october 2011

A poem about hope.

pure and lasting,
flowing further
than this moment’s concerns,
going deeper
than covering this month’s bills.

that sings
with every atom,
that with or without us
all will be well.

If balances shift once,
they can return again.

Everything is possible;
all joy, available.

These things i know.

This hope i can see.

Now i simply must
coax it into me.

written 31 may 2010, typed 24 june 2010

poem: maine

10341766_10203024107595134_1258225265593047701_ni love this place –
the beaches,
the mountains made small from age,
all the glories
of the people that dwell here –
to the point it shocks me.

This type of bonding,
rooting down in a spot,
had not occurred before.

Other places where i lived,
i remained perpetually an outsider,
uncomfortable in space and skin.
True, i found nooks and moments,
buildings and parks,
that caught my heart.
They became escapes,
but here i have become comfortable.

i have moved through
difficult and disagreeable situations
to find peace.

Perhaps it was time
that i found a place to call home.

Maybe the stiff sea air
cracked my shell open.

Either way, i breathe in
and relax into this loveliness.

i belong here –
even if i feel like i am still stuck
on the outer edges –
i have found a refuge
among the rocks and trees and wind.

31 january 2013

poem: a love story

timchin_may2014_0056These fat little fingers
can make such lovely things.

My tiny, thick toes
keep my balance,
such as it its.

These legs walk
and they have worked so hard
kicking wheels and hiking trails.

My arms are pale,
covered in freckles and tattoos,
absolutely glorious
with strength.

My belly remains round
with longing for dreams
but within dwells
a core of steel,
a reservoir of resilience
i never expected
to find in myself.

These eyes may see the world
differently from anyone else,
but that has suited me well.

These ears have given me
the gift of music,
which all on is own,
made life worth living.

My voice.

Well, that keeps changing,
constantly growing and deepening,
a gift that i hope will not end
until the last breath
exhales from these blessed lungs.

This is a love story
to being alive
in this body
and in these times.

Through all the goodness
and all the grief,
i have arrived at this moment
to find myself joyous
and filled with laughter.

2 june 2014

and still another poem: perhaps i should say

Perhaps i should sayi ask again
that i regret this time
spent on words and story,
but i cannot.

This is my deepest joy,
even if it’s useless,
even if no one cares
but me.

This paper is my truest friend.
This ink and the sharp tip of the pen
rip through all my hesitation
and every layer of protection
and open my soul to God.

In this state,
the lines flow through me
more than they are of me,
and i find peace.

13 april 2014


When I was sullen and depressed as a preteen and teenager, no doubt dripping with hormonal melodrama, my mother used to tell me stories about when I was a baby. In the hospital after I was born, I spent a lot of my time in the nursery with the other babies.  In the tale, every time the nurses brought me to my mother, they were full of praises.  “All the other babies in the nursery were howling, impatient and crying, but she was so quiet and kept smiling at us.”  Then my mother would follow up with a story about the son of her friend, probably about seven years older than I am, who crept in to my room when I was supposed to be sleeping – I was about six months old – to find me awake.  When he looked over into the crib, apparently I burbled and cooed, and he ran back to our mothers saying, “She smiled! She was so happy! And for a moment I was in the world of a baby!”

“You were always smiling when you were a baby.”  She would dismiss whatever sorrow had come over me, “You were always so happy.  So how can you claim to be miserable now!”  She seemed convinced that being happy once mean that you were immune to any sorrow.

All these years removed, I remember that I was indeed miserable as a teenager and I stayed that way for a long time.  It has only been in the past few years that I’ve really been able to make progress against long-standing depression.  I’ve already posted about this miracle, but today became something special.

af_easter2014_0043This afternoon, I took my dog hiking through the woods.  As I filled up on sunshine and delight, I kept remembering the happy baby in those stories. For a little while – within the forest filled with broken trees, those coming back to life, newborn saplings, and a lot of mud, I could not stop smiling.  With each step I thought about the things going on in my life, good and bad, and none of it could unseat my joy. This was not a high-energy, effervescent mood, but a strong, blissful peace that felt natural and deep.  It washed over me as welcome and bright as the sunshine.  For a little while, I wondered if I was returning to the baseline state that smiling baby enjoyed.

Then I came home from the hike (and the wonderful Easter dinner afterward at a friend’s house), and realized I had run out of fuel oil, I exhausted myself loading a kiln, tried to balance my checkbook to have the numbers laugh in my face, and washed what seemed like an endless series of dishes in no fewer than three different sessions at the sink.  As I write, stress and worry coexist with this deep happiness – which sounds surreal, but it is the reality of this moment.  The joy remains.  The sense of powerlessness remains.  Gratitude and the worry dance with each other.  Even now, as I put things up on Craig’s list to sell, realizing how tight my finances really are and could continue to be, I am a smiling fool.  I am awash in thanksgivings.

After all, I got to hike through the woods today with my dog – I had a wonderful dinner with friends – I an finding it easy to smile – and there is always the chance that things will change.

Jars with lids

IMG_0074 (I began this on April 15th, but was interrupted by asthma and wretchedness.  Here I am posting it five days later…)

This morning, I gave one of my most talented students her first lesson on making jars with lids (examples made by my hands, freshly out of the glaze kiln, are to the left.)

As I predicted this morning while I was preparing to come out to the studio, she did a fantastic job.  After watching my two demos, she threw two lovely little jars with matching lids all on her own.

As I made the jars under her watchful eye, I kept realizing how amazing it is that this is even possible.  Blame Cosmos,  but I’ve been thinking a lot about atoms and particles and how wildly cool this world we live in is. The magnificence of existence cannot be overstated. How fantastic is it that we can make something so solid and stable out of mud?  Just add the pressure of my hands, the speed of the wheel, the heat of the kiln, and voila.  The sensual movement of the clay within my fingers feels like a miracle – I am continually amazed that we humans can do such marvels.IMG_0072 Even more, that I can make such loveliness.

Lately, I have been doing some whining.  Those within earshot have heard too much about woes and worries.  Not to mention my vexations.  What I am certain I never get across to anyone with enough clarity – most of all to myself – is that this life is so blessedly fantastic. I rejoice at being born so that I can live through these times. We enjoy a world full of wonders. Realizing that no matter how desperate or vulnerable I feel, or how terrible any situation seems to the individual or the world at large, everything can change in the blink of an eye. We can make loveliness out of mud.  Love – sometimes just as simple the love for what we are doing – can transform any moment.

It all brings me such hope and happiness. As that clay spins between my palms, nothing else matters.  The future and the past both cease to exist, there is just the clay becoming something new, something fantastic that it never expected it could be.

Feeling that clay take form between my hands and then witnessing those skills manifest themselves in my student left me joyous.  In the face of that, what chance did my worry and fear have?


Good mornings

bare angelJust a quick note, completely delaying the blog that was going to go out today.

I woke up feeling almost 40% human this morning. My nebulizer and inhalers seem to be doing some good. The sun is shining, I can hear birds. My animals had all curled up with me during the night and I finally figured out why some pages of my website were messed up.

So, I am getting ready to start my day, thankful beyond words for feeling somewhat better and having the sense that things are possible.  Even if those things are just teaching and making art for one more day.  My dreams were full of pottery and stories.

I just have to meet my enthusiasm with some common sense and not wear myself down.