Ghost Ranch

It’s my private mountain, God told me if I painted it often enough I could have it.

Dear Georgia,

I have been thinking about the wisdom of the phrase “keep coming back”, which I think is the message of your quote above. A sense of endurance and vision, without any guarantees but some kind of heart wisdom pulsing the truth. (Keep going.) Keep showing up. Keep on.

(You made that mountain yours by painting it)

When I was a little girl my father bought a mountain, which was auspiciously named Peter Mountain (my father’s name). He must have thought that mountain was destined for him too. And indeed it was. My father was like you. (artist capable of magic)

I’m realizing that doing anything in my life takes some kind of intention. I don’t even really have to believe that it is possible, I just have to know that I want to do it and why and then just keep coming back to that whenever I stray. When I was 22 I decided to do a semester abroad in Paris in the Spring. As soon as I decided and started looking at my options I found that I could go to Greece in the Spring, or Paris in the Fall, or Nice in the Spring, or Rome in the Summer. I considered each option and maybe I would have had a wonderful time going to any of these places, but I knew that I had a date with Paris in the Spring. So it became my kind of mantra: Paris in the Spring, Paris in the Spring, Paris in the Spring…

I see my husband doing the same thing now with our upcoming trip to Croatia, which is really his trip to Croatia that I am lucky enough to be a part of. His very cells are singing Croatia in September, Croatia in September…

Intention is important to my meditation practice lately. I sit down to rest, feel my body, relax my mind and pretty soon I am writing my next blog post, or finally making that point to my husband, or worrying over something that happened at work. My teachers in the Shambhala tradition tell me that’s ok. That is what our minds are trained to do (sort things out, find patterns, avoid danger) and all I have to do is realize I’ve strayed and come back…with gentleness, like training a puppy/come back to my intention. It’s not always easy but it is simple.

You are my mountain now, Georgia. If I conjure you often enough, will I be able to live you for a day? What will be the parts of you that become me? (flesh become flesh) (bread into fishes)









Recently, I posted Marilyn’s New Year’s Resolutions for 1956. While looking at her list, I was reminded of the aspirations I made for 2012. I realize now that it really takes time (and maybe I am an extra slow mover) to do things. When I told my meditation instructor about my aspirations for 2012 at the start of the year, she said “Maybe you should pick one”. I looked at her crestfallen and set out to prove her wrong with all my accomplishing.

In January of 2012, I created a list of goals that looked like this:
(I decided to take it easy on myself by aspiring to first drafts instead of final products)

1. Create first draft of four rooms.
2. Write first draft of children’s book
3. Write business proposal for Red Bowl (a take-out alternative)
4. Go on retreat
5. Do a free-standing handstand in yoga class
6. Go to India
7. Visit Family
8. Write rough draft of short story
9. Write a song for Ella
10. Hold a porch dinner party
11. Submit a post to Tiny Buddha
12. Finish Painting
13. Get CA drivers license
14. Change last name
15. Ride a bike

Here’s what I did:
1. Create first draft of four rooms.
4. Go on retreat
7. Visit Family
13. Get CA drivers license
14. Change last name
15. Ride a bike

And I am so grateful that I was able to do those six things.

I was not able to bust into the scene of creative writing handstanders, but I spent beautiful time with my family and said a tender sad goodbye to my father. I rode a bike through a rainstorm on retreat in Arizona and I started writing this blog. Now in 2013, I am realizing that for the first time in many years I might not make a list of goals. I think I am ok to keep doing what I am doing. I was talking with my friend Alicia today about how revolutionary it is to be content with what is happening, not trying to be somewhere else. At the same time, I am grateful for the January 2012 Alice who inspired to so many things. It seems I can’t experience one without the other…the trying or the letting go.

I heard Pema Chodron share this Hopi prophecy at a retreat a few years ago.

Here is a river, flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid;
willing to cling to the shore.
They are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know, that the river has its destination.
The elders say, ‘Let go of the shore.
Push our way into the middle and keep our heads above water.’
They also say, ‘See who is there with you and celebrate.’
At this time in history, the time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves.
Banish the word struggle from your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration;
for we are the ones we have been waiting for.

Lastly, I want to share gratitude for the people who shared their hearts with me this year. Thank you to my family, friends and teachers for being fellows on the journey. Thank you to those who call out and those who answer.

The Buddhist & The Showgirl

This week has been a mish mosh of thoughts about art/celebrity, impermanence and health as well as this question about how to get started and how to write about a creative process.

In my questioning, I looked to True Perception, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s book on Dharma Art for guidance. I was completely surprised (and pleased) to stumble upon Marilyn Monroe’s name on page seven. Here is what Trungpa has to say about Marilyn and the art process:

“If you want to become an artist and you want to have the best of everything, you can’t just have it. You have to start by paying attention to reality. You need to learn to eat properly, to cook properly, to clean your house or your room, to work with your clothes. You need to work with your basic reality. Then you go beyond that, and you begin to have something much more substantial. And beyond that, you actually begin to produce a master artistic world altogether. That is the same as in my tradition of Kagyu Buddhism. It is long and arduous; you can’t become suddenly good at something. Of course, it is possible that overnight you come up with a good gadget, a good idea; the next day you patent that and begin to manufacture it, and suddenly you become a multimillionaire. That could happen. But we do not regard that as a true way of doing things. We are bypassing a lot of training, discipline, and reality. And often, when people produce a good work of art in that way and make a lot of money suddenly, they end up committing suicide, dead. Just like Marilyn Monroe.”

Although Trungpa is simplifying the events of her life and death, I think there is value here. Trungpa is encouraging us to have a grounded experience of life, which can serve as a platform for launching into the imaginative, vulnerable and shifting experience of creating art. He goes on to say:

“We have to be honest, real, and very earthy, and we need to really appreciate things as they are. They are so beautiful and wonderful already, but in order to appreciate that, it takes time and discipline – so much discipline.”

As I seek to understand Marilyn through research, I see that she did not have that grounded kind of platform to launch herself from (and crash back down to sometimes). A platform made up of everyday experiences, friends that you can show all your sides to, and building a trust in oneself. When I think about the why of this project and particularly why Marilyn Monroe, I think that maybe she has appeared in my consciousness because she has things to teach me. And maybe this is her first lesson to me, by way of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: Do the dishes. Appreciate things as they are. Value the friendships you have. Allow the quiet.

I did more cooking and cleaning than usual this week, by the way.