Friday, September 30, 2011

Touching Life and Deeply Alive~Buddhist Quote

"Only in the present moment can we touch life and be deeply alive." 
~Thich Nhat Hanh

This is the quote for September
in my Thich Nhat Hanh calendar
and on this last day of the month, I'm sharing it with you.

I've been rereading (and listening to) Eckhart Tolle's
'The Power of Now' 
and the exquisite truth to this touching life and being deeply alive quote
is sometimes very hard to grasp.

We spend an inordinate amount of precious time in our lives in the past and the future,
in some way always focused on some conversation, slight, or fun or unhappy experience long since passed.
Or else we linger, dwelling in positive or negative anticipation of some future event.
I even find myself having future conversations in my head,
words I have yet to speak with someone (usually when I'm angry).

I've always wondered why certain childhood memories are so powerful
and why I so strongly feel the need to be with them again through mind or travel.
As I do more meditation and TRY to spend more time in the powerful present moment,
(they don't call it a Practice for nothing)
I think I've realized that those childhood memories are so commanding
exactly because, at that time, I was so alive with the present.
Nothing else mattered but that moment, that beauty, that light-filled meadow
because I was so deeply in the present moment with no other worries.
As adults with so many responsibilities and commitments, vows, pledges and promises,
we learn to function constantly in a multi-tasking frame of mind,
always concerned with what we've done, said or must do.

Meditation allows us, even if just for a few brief moments during the day,
to be free from the overwhelming, manic, monkey-mind that constantly plagues us.
Just for a few minutes today, while you're sitting (or standing- anytime, anywhere),
stop the chatter of what happened or what's to come
and focus on your breath.

"In, I am breathing in...
Out, I am breathing out."

Tomorrow, give the breath just a few more moments of precious time-free time.
Keep extending it just a little longer.
Or do it a few more times.

And watch what happens to your body, your surroundings, the people you come in contact with.
Make this very moment as powerful as your greatest memory.
Like a child,
touching life and deeply alive.

~Photo from Pinterest~

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Six Continents at Musee d'Orsay~ Missing Paris Day

This photo, taken along the esplanade next to the Musee d'Orsay, 
shows six allegorical statues created for the 1878 l'Exposition Universelle (Paris' third World's Fair).
They are known as The Six Continents. 

The first one, closest to us, is l'Europe
sculpted by Alexandre Schoenewerk. 

The next is Alexandre Falguiere's l'Asie.
Then Eugene Delaplanche's l'Afrique.
Ernest Eugene Hiolle's l'Amerique du Nord.
Aime Millet's l'Amerique du Sud.
And Mathurin Moreau's l'Oceania (Australia).

It's difficult to fully see each of them and their stories here
but by clicking on the continent's names above, you can see them close up and straight on. 

I love the painter's color palette on Europe's left (not seen here)
and the elephant behind Asia, the cornucopia held by Africa, the American Indian-look of North America,
and the kangaroo next to Australia. 

According to the Musee d'Orsay's website,
the statues were originally created for the Trocadero Palace at the Exposition
and had been lying in the Nantes public dump since 1963.
The Musee d'Orsay exchanged a Sisley painting for them 
which went to the Musee des Beaux Arts de Nantes. 

Imagine these beauties, representing our world continents,
lying in a city dump! How does that happen?
Someone had to go to great effort to get them there. 
Oh, the geniuses of the world! 

Museo de Orsay
62, rue de Lille
75343 Paris Cedex 07

(Photograph copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rouge pour ma Grandmere~Missing Paris Day

(Montmartre window)

Red was my grandmother's favorite color... 

(Paris produce market)

...especially this deep, sweet, gorgeous red. 
She wore dark red lipstick on her plump, naturally maroon lips, 
planted red geraniums and wore red scarves.

A couple of years ago I had a dream about her.
She was trying to tell me something but I couldn't hear her.
She became more and more agitated,
had to make me understand because 'some people are coming'.

A short time later I called my aunt.
She'd had a similar dream.
Called my sister.
Same dream. 

(Montmartre cafe table)

Whatever the message was,
it was never received.
After the dream, I drove by the old house
and noticed a pink construction permit posted outside.
Was she trying to tell us she'd stashed a load of cash in the wall
and wanted us to know before the new owners found it?

I've been in touch with them.
They never said a word. 

Or was she just calling to say
Je t'aime?

(Tomorrow would have been her 97th birthday!
Bon Anniversaire, Grandma!) 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ticket to Write

I've been back this week at Colonyhouse, 
the Oregon Writers Colony Retreat in Rockaway Beach where I go a couple of times a year.
Here Life takes a back seat and writing, center stage. 

Last year, my writing partner sent some of my Colonyhouse photos to the OWC board 
who decided to use one for their website. 
Instead of payment, I opted for a few free writer's weeks 
in exchange for the use of the photo below.

And we've been typing away this week 
with a few breaks for beach and lake walks.

A couple of blocks away, I found the perfect bench for resting, 
meditating on the tides and general all 'round enjoyment. 

And no visit to Colonyhouse would be complete 
without a trip into nearby Manzanita
(where I like to spend the afternoon writing at the
window counter of the Manzanita News and Espresso Cafe).

The storefront got a new face lift
(and mural--though I miss the bright red benches)

My mother loved Manzanita's beach and long stretch of quaintness.
I think it reminded her of Pt. Reyes in California
as it does me. 

An afternoon topped off
by a gorgeous drive back to the cabin.

A few wild elk along the bay.

One last evening before rushing back home,
to its cares and worries
that have nothing to do with my characters
and everything to do with Life. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writing the Life Poetic~ Teaser Tuesdays

Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry [Book]                  

Hosted by MizB at shouldbereading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

Today's selection is from Sage Cohen's "Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry".

"A few years ago, I spent the month of January at a cabin in the country where my only source of heat was a wood stove named The Duchess. The Duchess taught me much about my craft. I discovered that writing can be a kind of catalytic converter: I feed it the raw material of my life, which it transforms into a brilliant light, a useful and enduring heat. What once may have been painful and difficult is just as nourishing as what brought me joy and ease, because to feel anything at all, to be moved to happiness or sorrow, is the thrill of being alive. Emotion is a clean-burning fuel. I propose that you stay out  of  its way and let it take you wherever you are intended to go. Give it all away, and watch those diamonds glow brighter with exposure." (p.155)

AND, on the opposite page is a quote from Annie Dillard that I'd love to share as well: 

"One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now...Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes." 

Both powerful, timely, what I need to hear. Wishing you a great week. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Escargot de Chartier~ Missing Paris Day

Happy Holiday Weekend everyone! 
Hoping the fruits of your labor are ripe, abundant and luscious
(and covered with parsley, garlic and butter. Lots and lots of butter)! 

(From Chartier Restaurant,
7, rue du Faubourg Montmartre
9th Arrondissement,
75009 Paris

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)