Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is not just another collection of quotes, though that too. This is an epiphany for me. Tea, I see, is the one thing that has been a constant interest and daily practice for much of my life. When I was coming into my womanhood wave, I drank Celestial Seasonings teas, and saved the tins and the quotes and relished the reflection I found there. I went through a stage, rough on wallet and body, of over-indulgence in Snapple mango teas, packed with sugar and other things that were not tea. 

Still I drank hot tea and tisanes (a name for tea made from herbs and not from the tea plant Camellia sinensis), and brought a small plug in kettle when I moved to New York City to begin college. There my dear roommate, who had a passion about herbs and ethnobotany and all kinds of interesting things, and I explored many worlds, and drank lots of tea.

Tea has become my trademark, if I were to have one. When I reflect on "not knowing what I want to do when I grow up," and wonder what the materia of my alchemy is (thanks to Thomas Moore's A Life at Work), I reflect on my daily life and interests, and I come back again and again to tea. Yes, I study and want to study more of herbalism, tea ceremonies, brew times, wild herb gathering, tea cultivation, the economics of tea. 

What I hold onto is more simple - summer or winter, up or down, when I wake up I make tea. When I am sitting and reflecting, or wanting to make that space, I drink tea. When I gather with friends, or don't feel too well, or need a break, I make tea. It's probably the best addiction I have, and I'm feeling a new blog devoted to tea coming on. Although I appreciate writing this blog on "whatever comes up," I'm feeling a need to synthesize and integrate, and whenever I've done that in my post 1990 life (and sometimes before that), tea's been there. Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it take with you your all. ~Kahlil Gibran. And I bring tea, and the love that has always come with it for me.

Come oh come ye tea-thirsty restless ones - the kettle boils, bubbles and sings, musically ~Rabindranath Tagore 

There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea. ~ Gary Snyder

"Now you understand the Oriental passion for tea," said Japhy. "Remember that book I told you about the first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth is ecstasy. ~Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.  ~Thich Nat Hahn

Monday, September 20, 2010

Noisiest Passenger

My fate cannot be mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent, directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only its noisiest passenger.~Aldous Huxley

Thus far my blog has contained only select pieces of writing, very few actually, and many quotes and (public domain) poems that inspire me. It's time to branch out. I'm amazed at the shape of tree branches, because the shape of a tree is a direct manifestation of its life force nourishing itself - reaching up and out so that its collector parts, its leaves, can grab the sun and rain, and create a path for that nourishment to snake down to the roots. So branching out is not, for me, just a nice metaphor, but a reminder of what is most essential to truly living.

I have been pondering mediocrity and work a lot lately. I have worked in many kinds of nonprofit organizations for almost ten years, and I have learned a lot and hopefully created some little sparks of good service for others along the way. I have occasionally encountered inspiring effective leaders, but more rarely than my hunger asks. The path of a young nonprofit professional, generation X on the border of gen Y, not quite a digital native nor a geek, not quite a leader and definitely not a follower who works well with authority, challenges me when I take a step back and up. 

I see people around me doing so many different kinds of work. Here in Silver City, I see a lot of women at home, doing the work of there, and mothering and sometimes homeschooling. Among the amazing far and wide circle of my friends, I give thanks as I see my friends who are artists making their arts, be it touring with a band, selling crafts on Etsy, on Broadway, at the Wherehouse, in Vogue, on the big screen, in the tipi, on the little screen, on blogs, deep in the woods, in poetry collections, and screaming out to the night air, because yes people still HOWL, thank god. I see amazing chefs, and even taste some of their goods. Rollerderby queens, plant doctor PhDs, organizers, dancers, medicine makers, bricoleurs each one. I am fortunate to look around and see and reflect back idiosyncrasy. Yes "all the freaky people make the beauty of the world" - I believe this from the tips of my toes to the tips of my hairs, and I love it. 

Here's the slam edit of a piece I wrote a few years ago when I reflected on "doing it all," inspired by Ntozake Shange and the "stuff" from for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf

Wonder Woman
The modern classic doing business as you or me

she can barely disguise herself as wonder woman with a cog job
she can rise early and stay up, wringing the midnight oil hours of their juicy flow
she can daily grind social good, multiple arts, and a burning activist spark
she can amuse and confuse with confounding tangents of inquiry
she can constantly percolate a new idiosyncrasy
she can do it all with a foxy muse’s deep wet eyes and sinuous shape
she can do it all with a zip and not a wink of mortal quiet time

zippity hooray, she-ra rises today
all this she can, all this she can, all this she can
without stop; all this she can, all this she can,
without stop; all this she can,
without stop; all this she can,
without what? STOP!

A tremulous virus made a run of her, crown to sole
Sick, a circus tent, with skin stretched pole to pole
Ambitions hanging high from trapeze swings
Altruistic contortionist rolling around in circles
Imagination in unrest, stripping down to rhinestones to
Swan dive into a tin tub, she shivered
at the smoke-and-mirrors whirlwind of pursuits which
Left no room for her stuff
A fake-out which began way back when

Sitting in a puddle of imagination
A lil girlchild looked up and saw that someone would stay cuz
she can save the poor and do laundry
she can trudge through mud still swinging sexy
she can stand spine strong and still melt to his knee

This lil girlchild woke up from a dusty dream-path
And scrambled to look for alla her stuff
Elbow corners, navel alcoves, where mosquitoes hide behind the knees
Under the tongue, behind her pride,
And down there where she knew she had new lips to speak
She gave herself a real down-up-down
And found her stuff all there

Throw it off and roll it down
she can save the day
breathing in the mundane
To wonder
And wonder
And wonder
Curious about the worlds inside a woman’s tides
Supported, held and freed
she can
just be
A wonder under her skin and mediocrity? I too want to fly out of bed because I love what I do so much it doesn't feel like "work." I'm still a F-ing idealist, and still a pinko too, and I want to be of service, be creative, and do it all making enough moolah or other resources to not worry, be happy. I don't need to be a SCHWAH! beautiful person (all the time), and I'd never be the celebrity-designer type. No, I'm not looking to be rich or famous. Just looking to grow in what I do when I leave my house every morning. I'd like to not "put in time" - I'd like to put in my (endless!) energy into making things happen, things that enlargen, reflect and nourish the beauty path. 

And not only all that, but I'd also like that opportunity to be there, if not obvious then at least in a potential form that can be grabbed and embraced, for all those of us lucky enough not to spend our every waking moments wondering how we will eat, drink, stay warm or avoid violence. Most of all, I want to walk that path so that if my sons ever ask, I have something good to share with them.

My aqua vitae, my materia, is rich and complex like life itself. As is yours, if you're reading this. I will have to allow myself to become multi-dimensional (3 can be so limiting) if I will travel ceaselessly and make the most inviting sanctuary garden of a home, lead an ass-kicking name-taking community organization and run a tea house where everyone can just chill and mend, nurture and love and protect my sons constantly and support them thoroughly to be each his own beautiful independent self, allow myself to be diverted and present to what each moment brings and be available and focused to help life enter, leave and heal in this world. Both and is my only answer, and it is one, like the game Questions, that only continually breeds itself.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the amazing Kahlil Gibran

Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it take with you your all. 

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. 

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain? 

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully.

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  

I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams and desires.

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

Mother: the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.  

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. 
To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.