sweet summer gone

i stood on the balconey as
tiny drops of rain began to
fall from the sky
a welcome shock of cool as each raindrop
hit my skin

i stood there
asking mother nature to keep going
to let it all out
at the same time trying to convince the dog
that this rain was just like
walking into the lake
just like
when i rub ice cubes on his belly
that it felt good
he just stared at me from the doorway
unmoving with disbelief in his eyes

finally, a break from the oppressive heat
that the city had been cloaked in all day
like a heavy blanket
making us forget who we are and where we came from
erasing our memories and our manners
turning our minds to mush

the kind of heat that feels like
at any given moment
you could melt into the puddle on the sidewalk
the animals paralyzed
our cats lying on the coolest patches of wood floor
they can find
bellies up, legs in the air
secretly wishing that
they were hairless
and loved to swim
i’m sure

the kind of heat that has the dog panting
his buoyant energy completely drained
with no urge for the park or a run or to play
draped horizontally across our bed
fan blowing cool air
on his soft, caramel-colored face
he stayed up there most of the day

the kind of heat that has tempers flaring
humans turned into savages
almost foaming at the mouth
each man for himself
no kindness left to be found
the roads like battlefields
too hot to wear the armor
that will keep you
safe and sound

the breeze came in
during my last class of the day
as i taught
out of the window
i could see the dark clouds rolling in
and the trees swaying in the wind
the prelude to a storm

the last class was my best class of the day
maybe the best from the last few days
a student said after
“your class felt like it was just for me. it was exactly what i needed today
for my body and mind, thank you”
what joy my heart felt
as i looked into her eyes and
thanked her with as much gratitude
as has ever existed, ever

walking home,
the wind cutting through the thick air
i could breathe deeply and freely
the weight of the day
finally beginning to lift
people coming back into themselves
(me coming back into myself)
realizing that we are not alone
as if to illustrate this
in my heart further,
i share words with an older woman
about the relief we both feel
for the moving air

just before heading down our street
i looked up to catch
an enormous dark cloud
with a lightening show dancing inside
every now and then
a bolt of lighting escapes
and surprises me and thrills me

and now
here are the raindrops
to remind you
of everything you had
forgotten
and to return you to yourself

just a moment

tick tock
tick tock
goes the clock;
my heart
dances to the beat,
alive,

in my chest

i close my eyes
so that the rhthym of my heart

can plunge down,
into the soles of my feet;
i reach my arms up to the sky,
and my heart beat,
each drop of blood, of love, of breath,

flows to the tip of each finger

alive.
this is being alive.

i swan dive forward,
over the fold of my hips,
so that for a moment,
(just a moment)
i feel that i am soaring through the air

my body
like a water fall,
cascades over my legs (the mountain)
my hips (the cliff)

my fingers touch the earth,
and i know
that i am made of
earth salt love wind fire
and
the moon, the sun, the sky, the stars.

i am each in-breath,
each out-breath
and forever
embedded
in your heart

and you
in mine.

honesty is the toughest poetry

Truth: I have been trying to write this piece for weeks now.

I started it in a blur of inspiration and then other things pulled me away and I saved it in drafts, having returned to it every day, for the past five with an overwhelming feeling of stuck.

Just this moment, this very moment, has the creative spark begun to crackle.

Suddenly, the words are flowing and despite the fact that my love is talking to me, measuring my desk and my office, to see if it’s a enough space to put together a dining table for (Canadian) Thanksgiving which we are hosting in two days, I can’t stop writing.

Here is when my wave of inspiration washed over me:

I took my dog into the backyard (after asking him to wait while I finished editing this…oh no, just five more minutes, while I edit that…oh, buddy, can you hold on, and I promise in two minutes, we’ll go out); the raindrops had started to fall gently from the sky…a surprise to me, as I didn’t hear them through the open windows in the house.

Winston began to run back and forth in the yard…now, this isn’t a an unusual occurence…in fact, it happens most days. What makes this moment so different from any other is that the rain was coming down, harder now…and there he was running, back and forth, galloping even, in the rain.

He hates rain.

He hates anything that comes from above; raindrops, water over his head when I give him a bath and of course, those unfortunate one-of moments, when a treat bag falls off the top of the fridge and hits him in the head.

But rain…he despises rain; it can take ten minutes (to half an hour) to convince him to get off of the front porch, when it’s raining out. No amount of coaxing with treats and a giant umbrella can get him moving.

So there he was, running back and forth, in the rain—and I can almost feel him smiling in the dark, as he danced around—and I hear this sound and I realize it’s me, laughing, loudly, as I watch this expression of pure joy and movement and breath and glee.

I am laughing.

The sound of me laughing, out loud, into the night air and around me I can feel the trees and the plants and the moon basking in this sound.

And it reminded me of this sign I saw once, not long ago, written in the grass between two highways.

It said:

HONESTY IS THE BEST POETRY.

My heart just about burst open and I wanted to find the person who put it together and hug them for all eternity. Because, let’s be honest…telling the truth is hard.

Sometimes, telling the truth is so hard that we even hide it from ourselves.

In my moment of laughter, when I could feel everything around me respond to the sound that was moving out of my body, I recognized how little I have heard myself laugh, for I don’t know how long

I could see the truth of myself and how laughter and relaxing and taking it slow are all things that seemed to have dropped off of my radar.

I could feel (although this I already know this to be true) how our bodies become storage containers for our secrets; we shove our truths down, collecting them in our hips or gathering them as tension around our necks; we build a wall of busy around us, making more time for everything else and less time for the things (and people) that really matter to the most.

And because busy is loud and crass (and sometimes, makes us feel really important), it’s easy to believe that busy is telling us the truth.

We’re busy, so that’s good, right?

Confession: I’ve been living in a busy bubble for some time now. Nothing makes me feel happier (and safer) then looking at my jam-packed schedule, full of teaching opportunities and workshops and hours upon hours of editing, add in time to practice yoga and time to write and time to keep the house clean and time for all those little odds and ends that somehow appear…and suddenly, time is gone (snap!) just like that.

And lately, I’ve been more of a yes-woman than a no-woman.

Some days, I wake up at 4:45 in the morning and don’t crawl into bed until eleven or twelve at night; with all the talk about Fifty Shades of Grey, you would think that maybe it would keep me awake—alas, I’ve been trying to read the book for weeks but can’t stay awake for a longer than a paragraph or two (and even then I’m convinced I’m reading the same thing over and over again).

I’m not sure if it’s the world around me that has picked up in speed or if it’s just me and my recent big-mug-of-earl-grey-tea-a-day habit (okay, maybe two) that keeps me vibrating at a rapid pace.

I am moving fast and I am busy…and in the midst of this frenzy, I have disconnected from the world around me.

I have allowed my truths to pile up, unexamined and abandoned, blocking the corners of my heart, keeping me from actually feeling anything.

I can teach a class and spread love and stack precious, beautiful bones and encourage breath and hold space; but when it comes to my own love and my own bones and my own breath and my own heart, it’s like we are strangers, passing each other in the night; while I can find compassion and truth in the context of a class, once I leave that sacred space, my mind starts spinning in circles.

So, what is the truth of my busy?

Yes, everything has to get done—and I love, love that I get to do so many of the things that I love to do…but what’s up with the speed?

Why I am so busy being busy that I leave my love and my friends and my family and myself as the last things on my to-do list?

Part of living a life that allows you to exist within your passion is that you get to include everything you love within it.

HONESTY IS THE BEST POETRY.

Being busy is good; allowing busy to become the thing that distracts you from everything else, however, not so good.

If I am honest with myself, I can see that my busy has become a distraction from the troubles in my heart; in my relationships, in how I relate to the world.

Busy has become my defense against difficult feelings that are hidden, deep down inside, that are now pushing their way to the surface.

Busy is my safety net, allowing me to distance myself from the people I love most, living so lightly within these relationships that my feet are barely on the ground.

Busy has taken over, tucking me under her wing, keeping me safe until I am ready to face myself again.

Busy has done her very best, to hide the truth of exhaustion that has settled into my soul.

If I keep moving, the world keeps moving.

Truth: I don’t know what happens if I stop moving.

Hey, honesty—I see you; truth…I see you too.

I see you and I acknowledge you and I know that it’s time to slow down.

Maybe even to the point of stillness…yes, definitely to the point of stillness…so that I can tune into your melody and listen, truly listen, to the messages you have for me.

I know that the beating of my heart in my chest is asking me to stop and listen.

what if

What if instead of continuing to distract yourself from writing, you actually just started typing, before you could even stop to think.

What if instead of the ‘busy’ and the ‘piles of stuff’ that you have covered yourself with, like paper walls of a paper castle, you showed your face and bared your heart and spoke your mind.

What if when you pushed up into wheel, you felt the front of your body spring open as if strings of a corset were cut and you could suddenly breathe.

What if you just let things be as they are instead of hoping or wishing or thinking that they could be different.

What if you just gave it all up and surrendered to love.

What would that feel like.

Heart exploding. Tears releasing. Relief seeping into your bones.

What if you could truly, madly, deeply be who you are instead of who you think you should be.

What would happen then.

Everything.

Everything would happen then.

a feminist awakens.

A few days ago, my feminism was shaken out of the closet.

I didn’t realize that she had locked herself in there…and to be honest, I’m not sure when it was that she retreated.

Somehow, over the course of the past several years, she had crammed herself in there, fire, power, intelligence and all.

Sure, she rumbled, from time to time and if I listened carefully, I could hear the doorknob rattle.

The wind, I thought.

It’s just the wind and so I continued, moving through life.

At some point, as my life began to move down a path that I hadn’t expected, she must have settled…it may have been around the time the word “feminism” disappeared from our everyday language.

Instead, the mantra became: we are one. You and I are no different from one another—and we are all one.

I do believe this; I believe that we are all connected and intertwined and that our very existence depends on one another.

But, I can believe this and still allow my feminism to dance around the room, kicking up her heels, so relieved to be free of that f*cking closet.

An old box of saved art and English projects from grade school tells me that my feminism has been a part of me since the beginning of time.

She started to exercise her voice through school projects, writing about rape and a woman’s right to choose; humanism was woven into her backbone, an essential part of her strength and so she also spoke about People Who Made A Difference, like Martin Luther King and Rose Parks.

As I grew older, I would sing along, passionately, to Ani di Franco, while secretly wishing that I had been alive back when civil rights and women’s rights and human rights were all the rage and people were angry and alive and doing everything that they possibly could to change the world.

A time when we were all connected in our desire to make the world a better place and where peace and love were an essential part of our toolbox (the long hair and bell-bottoms added to this enchanted dream.)

Throughout university, I worked a crisis line for a rape crisis centre, listening and offering love and compassion to the scared and troubled women that would call in, late at night.

Women were my cause and I was a believer in the power of everything feminist.

“Feminism: I myself have never to be able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat…”

~ Rebecca West

My mother, certainly, was one of my strongest role models.

Both she and my grandmother were independent and creative—the kind of women that would do, rather than just talk about doing

My parents divorced when I was five and my brother was two and although we remained close with my father, visiting him every other weekend, splitting up the holidays and for a few weeks in the summer, my mother was it; she was the boss. Although later in life, she and my father would reconcile (that is a story for another time), while we were growing up, she was the leader of our pack.

My mother worked full time, as a flight attendant, which to me, was magical.

I can remember sitting in the bathroom, watching her transform from my mother (dressed in her favorite Levi’s blue jeans—always men’s, because her legs were so long) into a beautiful Flight Attendant, dressed sharply, precisely, with each hair in place.

It was truly remarkable and if I close my eyes, I can just barely imagine the faint smell of her perfume.

She was a single mother who worked full time, traveling the world…and she still found time to cook and bake and redecorate our rooms to surprise us and make heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day. She always found the time to hold us and love us and tell us that the world was ours, we had only to find the courage to dream our dreams and go after them.

The relationship that she and I shared differed hugely from the one she had with my brother—in the sweetest way, he was a mamma’s boy and I, a daddy’s girl —yet our bond, a bond only a mother and daughter can share, was as strong as iron.

From a young age, she both inspired and terrified me—she pushed me, harder than my brother, to get better grades, to do better at school, so that I would have more choices in my life…so that I would own my own life.

She spoke to me, constantly, of the importance of being independent, of working that much harder because I was woman and of making my own money—and that, even when I fell in love, I should keep a part of myself that was just for me.

(To get lost, so completely in someone else, had caused her a heartbreak I can never understand and I think that she was trying to prepare me for my eventual heartaches and love loss.)

I come from a long line of strong, independent, beautiful, smart, funny, loyal and fiercely loving women.

Although none of them are around anymore, I carry their flame within my heart; I am every part of them as much as they are every part of me.

And somehow, at some point, I lay my sword labeled, ‘I am a feminist down’ and walked silently away.

But now, she is out of the closet.

For good.

And boy, is she angry.

Although in the country that I live in our politicians haven’t (yet) decided to claim women’s bodies and choices as their own, making a woman’s right to choose a thing of the past and a large part of a twisted political strategy, I am infuriated to witness this elsewhere in the world.

We must get angry.

We must get so angry that we are speaking up and speaking out.

We must allow that tickle in our throats—our voices!— to bellow, full throttle into the world. And we must do this, as one.

As human beings…all of us.

Because, as I realized later in life, it wasn’t only my mother that was a feminist.

My father, too, from the day I was born, stood in my corner, championing my causes (and still does, to this day).

He, to my surprise, is a feminist too.

*The article was adapted from the original, on elephant journal.

mood indigo

there is this place that i continue
to return to,
again and again.

it ebbs and it flows,
and sometimes it’s gentle
like the water lapping
onto the shore asking the sand and rocks to join
in the dance of the sea.

other times, it’s a tidal wave
so big, so strong,
that i’m certain
that the push of the wave and the pull of the tide
are in it together,
hoping to claim their next prize
for the underwater world
(that surely exists.)

moments that bring me back to here and now
seem far and few between
and part of me tires of the search
for a place to rest
my achy body and weary mind.

the other part is my warrior
and she is the one that
brings me back up onto my feet
lifting all ten of my toes and
rooting them the earth.

she is the one that holds space
so that sadness can exist in love,
and with love.

she is the one, i’m sure,
that tells my dog
when to lick my face
and wrap his paws around me
holding me
in his dog embrace.

love comes in many forms and shapes
and sometimes,
she is disguised and i don’t recognize
that it’s her standing
right in front of me,
with those soft, kind, strong eyes,
staring back at me.

i am beginning to understand
that this isn’t
something for the faint of heart;
there will be times
when the skies are clear
and times when the skies are gray,
this is life.

this is my life.

i am my warrior
and i wish that i could take my heart
from my chest and crack her open,
for you.

then,
you would see,
you would know, for sure,
that everything written within her walls
each word, memory, idea, thought, feeling,
that everything
everything,
is written with love.

aparigraha

Give fully,
Without restraint;
Without holding back,
Without hiding yourself from the world.

Open your heart,
And let the song flow out;
Even when the sky darkens,
And the melody becomes blue,
You are always
Always
Surrounded by love.

So, give and receive.
And ask yourself,
At the end of each day,
As you prepare yourself for slumber:

How deeply did I love, today?

And,

How fully was I able to let go?

Wait.
Listen carefully—
It may take some time for your heart
To find the truth.
And whatever the response,
Hold yourself with compassion
And know that
Tomorrow is another day.