Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heart to Heart





The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd 2002/Film 2008)

I can tell you this much: the world is a great big log thrown on the fires of love. (August)


A Summary:

"Sue Monk Kidd's ravishing debut novel has stolen the hearts of reviewers and readers alike with its strong, assured voice. Set in South Carolina in 1964, "The Secret Life of Bees" tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come." (google books)

A Bad Film Review:

Over the years, we've all seen too many anachronistic ''magic Negroes'' in movies like "Forrest Gump" and "The Green Mile". The saintly African-American matriarchy of "The Secret Life of Bees" may appear benign by comparison. Yet the film, set in the civil rights era, has a dated, musty piety that too often evokes the liberal message mongering of that time. The Secret Life of Bees is a lesson — or, rather, a whole series of them — we no longer need to learn. Of course, it's also a divine-sisterhood-defeats-all chick flick, and on that score there's no denying that its clichés are rousingly up to date. C (Owen Gleiberman is a film critic for EW)

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While still in tears over the heartwarming film, "The Secret Lives of Bees," I slipped over to my laptop to check a few reviews. I was most surprised when I read a negative review of the film. Owen Gleiberman's main bone of contention seems to be what he calls the portrayal of another magical negro; he awards the film a C grade. From what I understand, the critic's primary issue is that he cannot bear another movie that portrays helpless white people being saved by another magical black person. I think the person who wrote this review continues to have an issue with color, even though he says that we have learned this lesson enough; he argues that we don't need to learn about racial issues anymore.

I don't agree that the focus of the film was race. As a matter of fact, I didn't see the film in that light at all. I saw it as a women helping women story... a healing and empowering community support story. I appreciated the honest portrayal of the race issue and how relationships that did develop over the false color line were explained beautifully, for example when Queen Latifah said, "there is no perfect love" to explain why she loved Lilly's prejudiced mother. I honor this line as a strong and true statement. How many of us love others and find that we love through the flaws? We have family members and friends who fall short of perfect- as we do ourselves. Sometimes the most valued love is the most troubled love.

I understood that the story is about forgiveness and finding strength under difficult conditions. Owen writes that "The Secret Life of Bees" is a lesson...rather a whole series of lessons, we no longer need to learn." What is he talking about? We already know how to accept each other and love through our imperfections? We already understand how to get over our overly self-concerned limitation and reach out a helping hand to others? Goodness! Where is he living?

Regardless of how far we have come as a society, we still circle our covered-wagons and shoot at the unknown enemy when we feel threatened. If this statement were not true, we never would have been led into a war with Iraq. Does Gleiberman sincerely think we don't need the lesson that we must love and care for each other regardless of race or nationality ? -that we must accept each other as members of a common human family?

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About the black madona

As described in the book:

She was black as could be, twisted like driftwood from being out in the weather, her face a map of all the storms and journeys she'd been through. Her right arm was raised as if she was pointing the way, except her fingers were closed in a fist. It gave her a serious look, like she could straighten you out if necessary.


There are Black Madonnas found in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobaggo as well as other Caribbean islands. For a contemporary example, click on this recent painting by Puerto Rican artist, Elaine Soto, which is called Black Madonna of Hormigueros Puerto Rico with Milagros.


Above painting by Robert Lentz "The Mother of the Streets"
Exhibited at the Marian Library; July 6-August 27, 1993 University of Dayton


Robert Lentz sees in "the spirit and beauty of the icon the expression of a common ground between spirituality, justice and a love of creation." In addition, Mr. Lentz believes that the "painter must be in touch with the divine mystery for the painting to have soul."

***

I see the film, "The Secret Lives of Bees" as a much needed reminder to accept each other and look for love in difficult situations. Further, Queen Latifah's portrayal of August is a most inspirational example of this admirable human aspiration.

Thank you Carol from The Writer's Porch for mentioning this book and film in early February; you brought my attention back to a must read/see.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lighten Up


Hi friends, I'm on my marquesina with a dear wiggling bundle of puppy love.




I'd like you all to meet Mr. D'Arcy, our new puppy, which makes nine canine critters and one proud and annoyed cat, Miss Junie who share our casita en la montan (~) as.




Miss Junie was found abandoned at a gas station in Bayamon when she was a few weeks old. She is most comfortable sitting right where someone needs to work. Here, she has taken over the writing table.



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Mr. D'Arcy puppy comes to the door and pushes it open. Once inside, he explores a bit and then starts complaining, "I want out. Who made me come in?" He continues 'crying' until someone opens the door to let him out. It's like this over and over again; in then out, out then in! He's just like a toddler who has discovered that when he drops his spoon off the food tray, someone always retrieves it. "What a fun game," he thinks, "I made you move." He's a delightful, active sweet smelling cuddle. Who could ever abandon Mr. D'Arcy?



As far as our ill conceived animal rescue project goes, I can only say in the words of California's Governor, Arnold when he was referring to the budget crisis and getting a little literary inspiration from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, "When you don't know where you're going, every road takes you there." Where am I being taken with these expensive canine critters? I don't know but maybe it helps to take care of a few who need a home.

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I also love these determined volunteer tomatoes, which are growing at my in-laws casa along the entrance walk between bright fuchsia pink impatiens. Borders with vegetables and annual flowers make me smile non-stop even after a long day.



How delightful these tomatoes are!

For a light Sunday lunch, I had a few deep red tomato slices drizzled with olive oil on a plate of fresh green peppers and crunchy cucumbers. When I wrote "lighten up" I meant enough depressing muse work for now (Saturday's post) but I am beginning to see that I am thinking of physical connotations too. Some bloggers are writing about winter weight gain (willow) and loss of a stone (Jude in Crete- I love that expression! I think it's 14 pounds). These posts influenced me so maybe I meant something else, too. Okay. I admit that there is no excuse to put on winter weight in the Caribbean but it still happens! Ask any bear, winter hibernation is an instinct, even if it isn't technically cold.
photos...by my husband and daughter...


Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Private Conversation with my Muse

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* * * * *
Dialogue with a Muse; Writing Work

Vas is playing in the background…I’m already starting to feel bothered…breathe …breathe...
Lately, I’ve been noticing that some profound hurt is again in my background feeling…I’m connecting to others and their sadness too. This is what accompanies me into the shadow space where I encounter the muse…breathe…


Me holding the Mirror: Where are you…? I shift. I turn. I adjust…breathe... breathe… let go...

Muse: What is your request?

Me holding the Mirror: For now, I want to know how I can make progress on my writing work…I feel delayed... What is wrong with me?

Muse: Too many thoughts clutter…your hurt is too strong ….it’s even overwhelming me…I will tell you that your writing is connected to your mother. ..You have to let her go without letting the writing go…

Me holding the Mirror: What? How am I holding?

Muse: There was too much past bitterness…plus, by holding on to pain, you won’t get her back; you won’t be able to find her by holding on. The hurt you feel is opposite to this guilt and procrastination…it keeps you trapped. It won’t bring your mother any closer or further away. It’s just clutching up your creation space…open… open …everything is god…in …out …thought and work…everything.

Me holding the Mirror: Are you a man?

Muse: That is not important …think of me as you like…Eastwood? Okay…I am your father's pen. l listen to the mess inside; the hurt…you’re going on a plane…you think you will find your mother. She is not more there than here…You are afraid…again hurt …hurt so many things …

Me holding the Mirror: Help me to find the will to work…

Eastwood Muse: Just start...and then start again...and again…what else can be done? If you want to go somewhere you have to find the way there…once there…it is easy…as with all things…your spirit…it moves…some details have to be addressed…the writing is one…you have writing Karma… that plagiarism issue, don’t judge others. As I said you have issues…just forgive those who cheat…let it go…Just forgive because sometimes people are desperate….it can make them dishonorable. Be at peace with this issue. Accept that people are flawed but spirit is clear.

Yes, some have cheated and taken from you and such….through this life and others…just let it go… You are giving too much importance to it; judgment holds you, but not lightly.

Go forward to a joy space. Write from there. Write from your heart…like a wave that pushes up. Let a force like…gravity-in-reverse push up the wave of athou -your creativity-…there is much for you to do besides this writing …it all comes up with the wave…just go with it. Do as many things as you can…it will refresh you-not hold you back. You are using the hurt to hold yourself back …let it be there…hurt is part of your writing but too much…it starts and stops you from writing. It controls you. Just be at peace with your own process…breathe… let god come here… let god be with you …those hot emotions they have a space but are not more important than everything else…remember that…there is so much more …you don’t know what your work is yet…keep moving and accepting …all of that anxiety is just resistance in the field of change ...just breathe…

How delightful you are in your yoga group…I talk to you when you need to think of words…I wish you would learn some more French…I have some French things to say...do you know joyeux...joy? …I am part of that too…you block my joy…live in love and joy…

Make things clean, orderly and pretty; l/you will like that …deal with the hot ocean of pain…take a shower and keep working… it will be all right …get through this pain …you don’t have to do anything; it’s just there. Clear it by breathing … breathe …breathe…remember; that is all…remember…you are alive; you are love; all is well. Au revoir.

Me Holding the Mirror: Thank you …I will not just hope…I will accept and move …even with the pain…. merci beaucoup.
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Friends, I am a bit surprise about the words my "Eastwood Muse" said...feel free to comment...I used a Dr. Progroff journaling technique here from the book At A Journal Workshop... which was suggested by Kim of Creating Space. I thought I would just play a bit ... maybe I was demander son chemin (asking for directions). I had no idea I would feel so much raw pain...where did that come from?

Here is some more creative puzzlement...the Vas music and this complex Indian music video story...

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Painting: The Mirror, Sir Frank Francis Bernard Dicksee

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Best Blog Thinker Award



Thank you Linda from Psyche Connections for passing on the Best Blog Thinker Award to Oasis. The award's creator, B. J. Roan, writes that:

"This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It’s a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”

I appreciate the sentiment of this award and would like to pass it on to these 5 erudite bloggers...



Mark at The Red Beech Tree for his poetic prose;
Maithri The Soaring Impulse for his skillful combination of head and heart;
Mama Shujaa for her intellectual optimism;
French Fancy for her determination in the cause of education;
Carol at The Writer's Porch for her love of books and lovely expression.

Please display this well deserved award on your blog's sidebar and pass it on in the usual manner. Congratulations!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Emotional Content; I was just about to rant!










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I was just about to rant and then I thought it better to have a conversation. My own gentle atmosphere has been riled up enough but we must talk.

I went to a professional function last week where the speaker took the position that emotions must not be considered when determining the truth... you could use the big T (universal application) or the little t (verifiable). Ask me why did that bother me?

A conversation between two

19th century women

liberally interrupted by anachronistic references...

Friend: Dear, you seem upset? What's on your mind?

Me: I'm disturbed that some "educated" professionals are still committed to reasoning through dry facts when trying to test knowledge...to determine the "ultimate truth."

Friend: Why would that bother you? People all have different opinions...

Me: Yes, I know this. Recently, we have begun incorporating emotional intelligence into our thinking. And you know that art is a medium that expresses feeling. So many things. Plus, in our time, women are called hysterics because they express too much emotion. Maybe they disagree with a decision that is made by their husband but their passion is seen as an indication of their weakened mental state. You see?

Friend: I know of the hysteria diagnoses...but certainly you don't think that will return?

Me: No, I'm thinking of the way we understand in life. If we omit the heart where will our insights lead?

Friend: Yes, but that is impossible. No one can function on a purely rational level because all humans have feeling.

Me: Yes, but the argument is to omit that quality and test for truth dispassionately. I think this argument has some validity but it's like the finger pointing to the moon...truth is not all verifiable...I don't accept that premise.








"All instruction is but a finger pointing to the moon; and those whose gaze is fixed upon the pointer will never see beyond. Even let him catch sight of the moon, and still he cannot see its beauty." Adhyatama Upanishads

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Me: Why are we going back to this type of reasoning? We must include the heart even within our logical reflections...where will this type of dry thought lead us?

Friend: Dear, if you are talking and questioning then we are fine. Everyone won't be convinced.

photo -painting A Friendly Call William Merritt Chase

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rediscovering an Artist's "Way"

It's a windy day in the mountains of Puerto Rico, a good day to have fresh thoughts about new beginnings. I've been thinking about art. When I first realized that I could make something pleasing to my eye that spoke about what I saw, I was about six years old. The strong desire to experience life through art has never left me since that early time. It delighted me that I could share my creation with the world. My discovery of art was facilitated by my French grandmother, Alice; she was the first artistic person I knew. She would let me skip my nap and sit at her table gluing glitter, painting and drawing. I felt special to sit at her usually off-limits (!)table.

One day, she disappeared and we never heard from her for seventeen years. Her own childhood was marred by absence and abandonment. She spent a number of years in a Boston state home because her mother was hospitalized for a mental condition. After Grandma left, I didn't know if she was still alive. I was a child. I didn't know that sometimes adults have arguments that they don't resolve. Her absence was like an empty windy space. I seemed to looked for her, though not consciously, as I walked in the fields. She was in my thoughts as I collected seed pods and branches. I'd bring my finds into my upstairs bedroom and paint them red, orange, and yellow; finishing off with a liberal sprinkle of glitter. What would Grandma Alice think of this?

When Grandma Alice returned, I was living another life in another state. The Grandma of my childhood never returned.

* * * * * *






Consider ...

*ZEN*


As I continued to draw whatever came into my field of vision, it became ever clearer that seeing/drawing was indeed a Way, in the Oriental sense of the word. The tea ceremony, Noh dance, aikido, judo (do in Japanese means "Way," while in Chinese the word for Way is Tao) are all such Ways: lifelong disciplines that lead you to where you really live, that liberate you form the programmed prejudices of your time and the pretensions of the little Me, to reveal the truth that is your own Truth.

Seeing/drawing...it is my Way of meditation.


Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing ; Meditation in Action

by Frederick Franck

And this...


*Art Validates Life*

I have said before that creativity is a spiritual issue. Any progress is made by leaps of faith, some small and some large. At first, we may want faith to take the first dance class, the first step toward learning a new medium. Later, we may want the faith and the funds for further classes, seminars, a larger work space, a year's sabbatical. Later still, we may conceive an idea for a book, an artist' collective gallery space. As each idea comes to us, we must in good faith clear away our inner barriers to acting on it and then, on an outer level, take the concrete steps necessary to trigger our synchronous good.
What dream are you discounting as impossible given your resources? What payoff are you getting for remaining stuck at this point in your expansion?

The Artist Way by Julia Cameron

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*Discovering the Artist in Women*


I thank you all...


While blogging, I have had the good fortune to meet and experience many incredible artists who not only display their art in progress, new and old, but also have shared their hearts through their own struggles and successes with the creative process. I want to honor Dianne at Intuitive Painting, Kim at Creating Space, Mary Ann at Blue Sky Dreaming. And the designer/painter creators, Lala Ema at My Castle in Spain and Susan at 29 Black Street; the writer, painter, photographer, Sarah Laurence at her blog of the same name and the painter creator Sukipoet. And though I don't know if Julie at tangobaby is a painter, I do know that she creates with every breath of her being so she must be on this list. All of these women are inspirational because they embrace their creative nature. No, not just embrace, but celebrate creativity in every aspect of their lives. I thank you, creative women, for your inspirational example of how to fully live life. You have reminded me to engage life with passion; I love you all for this gift.

If you would like to nominate any of these blogs for the blog of the day award; simply, click on the icon, which is located on the sidebar, and make your recommendation. (You will need the blog's URL.)

Painting: Windswept John William Waterhouse

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Airing Dirty Laundry

Oasis Feature: Re-post Self-disclosure and Honesty

How do you react when someone "over" shares?

Though I no longer live in the country, I think this post invites relevant introspection about our sharing boundaries.(click to read original post with comments)
 
Yes, it's true, I have lots of it! Seriously...at least three bags in the bedroom. See, it's been raining on the weekends and I wash all of my dirty clothes outside in the sun. Why? Yes, I have had modern conveniences but whenever they break, I take a break from the 21st century. Washing clothes outside reminds me of women washing by the river; I feel connected to the past and linked to an unbroken chain of peasant womanhood. Of course, women still wash clothes outside by a water source in many countries. (And, yes, it seems to be gender specific.) I look at this washing as my karma yoga, for all of you (sparse!) yogi bloggers out there. I kind of imagine myself out in another country, say India, next to the spiritually renown and polluted Ganges or in Peru, next to the Parana infested mystical water of the Amazon. Or on a Caribbean island, Antigua say, where author Jamaica Kincaid describes her childhood as she was growing up in the 1950's and I see her mother's pile of bleaching stones. I also see myself: There I am washing, and lifting the wet clothes. I swat them at the stones, breaking the clinging mud from its hold on the once lovely soft fabric. Rinse in the cool flowing water. I carefully spread the white clothes on the pile of bleaching rocks and allow the sun to bear down into the fabric until it is white again. If you do feel inspired to wash clothes outside and do your bit to save the planet, you should keep the weather report close at hand! Still, I'm not talking about that kind of dirty laundry.

I'm talking about the kind of secrets that people are not suppose to say unless there is a significant degree of real intimacy in the relationship. I was trying to come up with a list of socially taboo subjects...

  • physical and mental disabilities

  • same-sex gender preferences

  • terminated pregnancies

  • a murder in the family

  • financial problems

  • unmarried parents

  • bodily functions

  • criminal record
I know these are not all of the potentially "forbidden" subjects, but I think the above list is enough. Notice when someone begins to reveal something personal from the above list there can be a kind of moral physical retraction and the accompanying emotional feeling, 'Oh no, over-share! Make-it-stop. We want to know secrets and we don't want to know secrets. Why else would we avidly read about celebrities infidelities, and other domestic and personal indiscretions? Why would office gossip be so popular? Maybe we just don't want direct contact with those who tell their own secrets? What makes something wrong to share? How did we make these rules?

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I've been thinking about this disclosure issue because some of you know that my mother was murdered. Whenever, I share this fact, it's a risk. Some people just want to run from this sort of bare fact. I've noticed the same concern addressed in other confessional modes. Consider, the Twelve-step Program which is designed to help people confront the desire to deny and soften the truth by beginning every testimonial with, "Hello, I'm (insert name here) and I'm an (insert condition here)." Why would people judge you when you tell them the biographical detail of your life? I've read many autobiographies and several of the classics which are titled, Confessions. (Rousseau, Leo Tolstoy and St. Augustine.) I've noticed that what was private has changed over time.(The three "Confessions are from the more recent past and go back to the 1600's) Also, I have worked for a number of years in counselor type positions (military, prison, and college). From these various experiences, I can assure you of what you must already know, people are not really so different. Everyone has secrets. My own dear grandmother would not talk about her missing father. I don't know if he was really 'killed in the war.' Were her parents really married? Did she feel shame? I would like to know. I'm sure you also have some family secrets you would like to know. Many of our questions remain unanswered, either they are buried in silence or buried underground. We just have to accept the fact that we will never know. It's a secret.
We assert or reveal who we are or what our values are through 
personal sharing.
In our time, I think we should pave the way of connecting by honestly (and without pressure)sharing our own life experience. And if someone shares with us through our everyday interaction or through the blogosphere, I think we should say (or at least think) in a nod to the sixties:
 
Let it all hang out!
Right on, baby!

You tell it like it is!

We should let those brave people who risk self-disclosure know that what they have shared has been honorably received. We should embrace them in an accepting atmosphere. I say this because recently, I've read some confessions in blogland and the commenter(s) seem to be frightened away. Sigh. I wonder why? I think our lack of response is interpreted as society's voice echoing the familiar warning:
Don't go airing your dirty laundry out in public.
Here's a quirky little video, I thought you might enjoy. Also, it makes me think of my mom's positive vision. I see her on her motorcycle. (Like other trail blazing women of her day, she was a proud trophy carrying member of the Motor Maids, Inc.) This is for you, "Mama Sue."




More about my clean laundry:
If you would like to know more about my mother's story, click on the highlighted links. Also, there is a documentary film that is being made by Brian Alexander about the life and death of my mother and her partner, Christine, just click here.

 photo credit

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meet Puerto Rico's El Yunque Rain Forest


























El Yunque Rainforest


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jude of Clariad in Crete has tagged me to share a photo from the sixth folder and the sixth picture. She has a friendly corner in Greece that must be visited! I only have four folders and I'm short on original work...so... I had to alter the rules a bit to participate in this tag. I'm just beginning to explore the intersection between photography and computers though to be honest, I have been interested in photography all of my life. I studied an intensive course at the Athenaeum . (If you clicked the former historical information link, I'm just teasing you. I attended this Athenaeum School of the Arts in La Jolla, California-a very modest accomplishment, I assure you.) :-)


Maybe I will break through the rest of my digital resistance and update my knowledge. Through many wonderful encounters with highly creative bloggers, I've been inspired and discovered how to add more zest to life. Now I want to paint, sing, and shoot off my Cannon! (Of course all within the context of blogging and sharing experiences.)

I've decided to share this Puerto Rico Free High Resolution Photo link, in case someone would like to print out an 8x10 or 11x15 high quality scenic image of Puerto Rico.

Here are the rules:


1. Pick the 6th photo from your 6th folder


2. Tell a story around it (Do you think my Athenaeum story qualifies...?)


3. Pass it on to 6 others
I would like to tag....

Linda S. Soucha who features Psyche Connections


Blogger friends, I know it takes time to do these tags but I wanted to send some attention your way. Also, there are so many others that I could have selected but if you seemed too busy with tags and such, I tried to give you a break. If you want to do the tag and I overlooked you, please accept my appologies, and participate with confidence. Send me an email and I certainly will add a link to you! (As a general principle, feel free to break any of the arbritrary rules above.)

Don't forget to tell whoever you tag and link to their blog.
May your heart be consciously connected to life.