Friday, September 24, 2010

A Tug of War or is it Divine?

Namaste, Boomers,

"The divine in me recognizes the divine in you." Namaste

I was passing a picture on my bookcase of my parents the other day and it a strange feeling came over me. I wanted to talk to my mother. I wanted to hear my father's laugh. And they were not around. My mother died in December of 2009. I missed her very much. My father died nine years ago.
I felt my inner child coming into my consciousness.
I wanted to tell my mother what was going on in my life; I wanted to talk about the publication of my book and I wanted to tell her that I was single and happy and not to worry about me. At that moment my grown up/adult woman met my inner child. It was a lovely moment, a moment without conflict or drama. It was just a moment of inner contentment.
I talked to a friend of my family today and he told me how proud my mother would be that I had arrived at this state in my life where joy met contentment.
I don't have to be at war with my inner child. My inner child is no threat to me even though I am an adult. It's okay to want to be near and close to my mother and father and to have them by my side again even though I am all grown up and taking good care of myself. I am well aware that any serious attempt to grow psychologically and spiritually involves some pain and sadness. As one of my tango friends wrote to me, "that's when stuff surfaces."
It's probably therapeutic to have some discourse with our inner child. The inner child can come out to play in the most unexpected moments, like dancing tango or practicing yoga or even in meditation when the mind is clear and allows emotions to rise to the surface. Of course, sometimes it can be frightening to experience my inner child take over my adult mind for several minutes. It can be disconcerting to our adult state. 'What are you doing to me, inner brat. I want to say, "Leave me alone. I'm find. I don't need you mucking up my present moment."
But my deep breath brings me peace and I let that inner child be and I find that I am no longer afraid of the emotional connection. I know it's okay to feel like I want to go back into the womb or to retreat to age of five when my mother was always there to help and comfort me. I let spontaneity reign free! I allow the inner child take over go with the emotional flow. I laugh and play and love freely.
I think my inner child helps me better understand my adult spontaneity and my creative impulses and allows me to rediscover the past clearly in terms of love rather than fear.
I was dancing tango the other night at a Wednesday milonga and my partner of the moment was telling me that my nose was cold, like a cat. I thought the remark was so playful and childlike and I made a meow sound during the tango. He laughed and I laughed. After the dance was over, he told me how nice it was to hear the meow sound and I put my hands over my face like a child would do in embarrassment and I thought how childlike I felt. The moment felt new and old at the same time. It reunited the child with the adult and my emotion, my joy, felt pure.
I often feel this kind of childlike freedom when I dance tango. It's reminds me of how I felt in therapy when my therapist told me that he wanted me to keep my inner child alive - he called it my inner pony - because that childlike energy was a part of my adult energy.
When I'm practicing yoga, I often feel like I'm flying high on a trapeze above the ground with pure joy without one iota of fear in my body and, without any mental resistance.
Tango and yoga are fearless experiences and effortless constructs for me. They somehow get near my inner child and touch the deepest part of my soul.
That's where my mother and father reside, too, in those deepest parts of my unconscious. When I bring that love and need into my conscious being it is a divine moment.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last Words Before Dying

Hi, Boomers,
I was reading an article in both the NY Times and LA Times about the Koch brothers. These are the infamous Koch brothers as written up, exposed, and pillaged in the recent article in The New Yorker Magazine. At the outset, let me make this perfectly clear: these men are not my favorite people, in fact, they may be my least favorite people in the world right now. They are trying to influence the political landscape with their very ultra conservative ideas and realign some of major issues of the day to suit their own self-agrandizment; i.e., to line their pockets with more money. Oh, did I mention they are in the oil business. And they are pouring millions of dollars into conservative think tanks, state legislatures, oil lobbyists, and groups who fund the tea party - those very angry white people who want to take back the government. Who took it away in the first place? It's still there and trying to function despite the juggernaut the Republican party has concocted to stay the course of nothingness.
Two things strucK me today that are so very wrong.
There is a proposition on the the California state ballet that abolishes our fairly long-standing emission control and clean air policy. The Koch brothers have given a million dollars to insure that this proposition will pass. And if this proposition passes it will set California back decades on its green path - a path that will provide new green industries and then, jobs. But since the Koch brothers don't believe in global warming, and since they only care for their own self-interest of amassing more oil money (gee whiz, they haven't made enough money in their oil business yet?) they have to try to destroy California's clean air agenda by throwing money at it. I would like to ask the Koch brothers how much is enough money for them. Oh, yeah, I know they give lots of money away to philanthropic endeavors, but all that charity doesn't mean much when their real agenda is much more sinister and destructive - that is, their agenda will impact the quality of our lives for generations to come and contribute to the destruction of our environment.
And, once again, here it comes - don't ask, don't tell - our military's hypocritical oath. Once upon a time in America, John McCain told its citizens that he was in favor of rescinding that very code, but today he is going to filibuster against rescinding despite the fact that the military is done, done, done with it. McCain wants more study on the subject. McCain wants to hear the sound of his own befuddled voice rattling in the senate for all eternity.
I am trying to stay in my yoga brain in spite of apparent and rampant and unfocused political fantasies. I'm trying not to despise people - call them misguided and not stupid; recognize that everyone has a point of view instead of rank self-interest. I'm trying. But people are motivated by fear and greed - as in Wall Street - and that has been the disposition of mankind since Adam and Eve. "I want that apple." "No, I want that apple." "I'm taking the first bite." "No, I'm taking a bite first, you selfish piece of shit." "But it's my right." "But I found it first."
The tea party people are living off fear and greed. No taxes because I don't want or need to think about anyone but myself. But let's leave my social security and medicare on the table, please. The Koch brothers are living off greed. McCain is living off hubris and fear and a missed opportunity to be honorable. Obviously for McCain, gay people aren't real people. The "gay" word is a label with nothing real behind it. I wonder if he bothered to study all the gays who spoke Arabic and helped our country in time of war, who fought side by side with "the others" in the military and were then dismissed from the service because they tired of hiding behind a misguided policy.
I was musing about what the last words would be out of the mouths of people who subsist on fear and greed. Let's say they are about to die and they have a chance to utter two words. What would they be?
More money
Got 'em
I'm right
They're wrong
No worth
They're lying
Why me?
Need money
Not true
Me first

What would your last two words be?
Mine would be

Love wins

Friday, September 17, 2010

Doing It Alone

Hi, Boomers,

Sometimes blogging is downright difficult. You'd think that someone with my verbal acuity would never be at a loss for words or for ideas. But lately, I've been mentally preoccupied with my new book. Shamelessly, I mention again: Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer.
When I began to write my book about turning 60 and all that it entailed, it seemed a way to keep my creative juices going. During the day, I grabbed and hour here and there to write something, and at night, I was a maniac writing way past my bedtime. My computer was my friend; my words were comforting and cathartic. Writing became my pacifier - a way to self-sooth my wounds and losses and to use my humor for good and not for evil.
The process of writing reminds me of rehearsing a play. I loved rehearsals because it was the creative engine that drove the creation of a character that was someone else, not like me, but possessed bits and pieces of me. Everything had to be real on stage, had to be believable. The rehearsal process was the most truthful way of creating a character. The subsequent performances on stage were pre-determined and set and they weren't as much fun as rehearsals.
Writing is like that but more so because writing is solitary. There is no community of writers or actors around. The "aloneness" factor creeps in to the process and quite literally engulfs the writer. I love it. I love that the silence is only broken by the sound of my fingers on the computer keys.
Writing my book encompassed about two years in my life. After the first year, Sixty, Sex, & Tango was at an literary agency. I signed with the agent for six months, but she was unable to find a publisher. I had no illusions that a publisher was going to snap up my book. I was an unknown entity; I was writing a memoir. I had no national or local platform. I spent another two months deciding what I was going to do with the book after my contract expired.
Those two months were a revelation. I stood outside myself and took a long look into my soul. Why did I write the book? What did I want from the book? What would happen if I just put the manuscript in the closet with all my other screenplays that were getting moldy? What would happen to me if I did publish the book? Scared of success? Scared of failure? Those are fairly universal fears.
I sat with the situation and didn't do anything. I didn't judge the situation. It was what it was at the time: I had a manuscript that maybe or maybe not wanted to be a book. It needed editing, more organizing, more honesty, less anger. How deeply did I want to explore? From today's vantage point, those two months of isolating thoughts seem a dream. As December ended and the second month turned into the beginning of a third month, I got more detached from the book and wouldn't even pick it up.
Then right after Hanukkah, without any thought or reasoning, I found myself looking for self-publishing houses. I remembered that a friend of mind used a particular self- publisher for her book and I liked the way her book was produced. So out of the blue one day, without thought or emotion, I went rummaging for her book to find the publisher and I called iUniverse. I spoke to a wonderful, honest man who was so kind he disarmed me. He was supposed to be a salesman and he was more like a shrink. We had a long conversation about my book and what I wanted to do with it. He didn't try to sell me on any package or push me. He just listened as I talked. And when I was finished, he said, "So what do you want to do?"
It felt so right to finally say, "I want to publish the book." It was a relief because I realized that I had finally allowed myself to take responsibility for publishing the book. I was hiding from making a decision because I was refusing to draw inside myself to engage my feelings. During that time of contemplation, I had spoken to no one about what I was feeling or how deeply I resented having to make a decision regarding the final outcome of the book.
My decision to publish happened just before the Christmas holiday. The new year was ahead and it felt good to have made a new year's decision prematurely. On new year's eve day, I got into my car and drove to San Diego to a tango festival and felt gratitude to be able to think with a clear head for the first time in months. Life was good and I was going to dance tango for the next three days. The new year started splendidly.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Took A Trip To The Moon

Hi, Boomers,
I've been busy it seems. I started a new writing project. Not a book but a monologue on a theme that is to be part of the Jewish Women's Theater group salon readings for this coming year. This particular theme is: "Jewish Women Do Men." I've got plenty of material, but I have been wrestling with the format. I'm used to writing in a book format. I have to think "monologue." I'm under a seven to ten minute time limit - mostly like five minutes but I'm trying to stretch it. The fun part is that I will be doing it as a reading. But for some reason I'm stalling now. It's not that I have writer's block because I can yenta with the best of them. I think I keep getting interrupted by the clatter in my brain. I need to go away and write.
And I will tomorrow. I'm going to Las Vegas to be with my family over the Jewish new year. L'Shana Tova. Happy New Year to all my Jewish peeps. I think I've really been excited about being together with my family, having dinner and seeing the grandkids run around and play and take care of the new babies - Jude and Penelope. Bliss for me.
And last weekend over Labor Day I attended the Denver Tango Festival. There are two in Denver - Memorial Day and Labor Day. I'm still breathless about it all. The dancing was sublime. I had a wonderful experience. And yes, I was selling some copies of my book, Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer, and every last one was sold by the second day. I also brought a bunch of advertising 4x6 cards and they were quickly gone. What really astounded me was that most of the people who bought my book were men, even men much younger than 60! I'm wondering if I got the demographic wrong. Men scooped the book up and asked lots of questions and laughed out loud at my chapter headings and were full of enthusiasm about the project. Husbands were trying to entice their wives to look at the book but they weren't exactly that interested. Although I must say that the young girls who are my friends gave the book to their mothers and those women loved it. Anyway, it was all so much fun and exciting and I'm still a little on the moon about it.
Speaking of being on the moon, my beloved Jungian therapist retired at the end of August. I put a call in to him a week ago and wished him well. Mike, my therapist, changed my life. He had a profound influence on my psyche and on my spiritual journey. He's all over my book. In fact, he gave me the courage to write it, but he didn't know that because I didn't even know it until I began to write my memoir and Mike came pouring out.
Mike called me today to officially say good-bye even though I hadn't seen him in 2 years. We were kindred spirits - the same age, the same sensibilities, the same humor and wit and love for all kinds of things we found in common.
"What's in store for your retirement?" I asked Mike.
"I'm going to explore my two million year old man inside of me and then maybe go to the moon," he responded with a lilt in his voice. "Then I might get a place in Washington in the middle of nowhere and contemplate."
I knew Mike was deadly serious about his plan. There really is a two million year old man inside of Mike. I wish I could stick around to get to know him better.
"I want to find a place, too, to go to contemplate," I said.
"It can be inside or it can be outside, Joan."
"I know that, Mike, because you taught me that I would always carried my sense of Self with me wherever I decided to venture."
"That's right, Joan. You carry yourself and that inner pony that sometimes acts up. Don't ever lose that pony."
I promised Mike I wouldn't perfectly tame my inner pony because then life wouldn't have as much joy and be as much fun.
Maybe I'll get to go to the moon some day, too. And maybe Mike will be a fellow traveler.