The Name of the Moon

The Moon and I

share a name

I tend to forget this name

that speaks of my essence

but the Moon,

in her fullness,

wakes me with whisperlight

to remind me

of who we are

and how we are related

I am the Moon

and the name of the Moon is in me

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First Shadows

I met your First Shadow

in the morning

as I lied draped

in the lingering softness of dreamscapes

 

Thoughts laid to rest and

My body half asleep

My sleeping mind awoke

for one fat second

 

One fat second of a fleeting moment

that seemed to last forever

 

Your first shadow moves before you

Moves before you in space

Moves before you move

 

The first shadow

moves the secret intention of the soul

Projecting perfect clarity

 

And we move through the world

like the faint echo

whispering behind

the First Shadow

 

The First Shadow

seen through closed eyes

The First Shadow

seen with the sleeping mind

 

Righteous Contemplations of an Atheist

Religion. It is so powerful and awakens such passion. Wars are fought, families are torn apart, friendships are forged or severed. We are so fiercely attached to our beliefs. Not just religions beliefs but all beliefs, even the beliefs we don’t even know we have.

Some of our beliefs we form consciously but most of them are formed unconsciously without us even knowing it. Those beliefs, more or less, control our lives. Our beliefs control how we feel and how we feel strongly influences what we think. What we think controls our decisions and actions.

What we think, therefore, is one of the few things we can change.

When we change what we think it overpowers both our actions and our feelings. It is only through thought that we are able to change, to develop, and ultimately to grow. Without conscious thought, without controlling our thoughts, we are little more than dandelion seeds blowing in the wind. We may land in good places or we may not. We may be fruitful or we may not. We may grow into something beautiful or we may not.

The key is to slow down between feeling and acting. If we can insert some thoughtfulness between feeling and acting then we can have more control, more choice, more intentional direction.

How do we slow down our reaction time? I suppose we have to want it.

We have to have the feeling of desire to slow down. That feeling of desire to slow down will be in direct competition with other feelings that elicit immediate reactions. When our desire to slow down, think before we act, be conscious of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, grows greater than our impulsive feelings; when our desire to change for the better grows greater than our desire to feel right or justified, then we’ll have the space to examine those competing feelings. We’ll have the space to choose one of those feelings. We’ll have the option to choose to think and to grow, or to emote and react.

If sin is, as Father Thomas Keating put it, “the unwillingness to change,” then choosing thought before emotion is the only righteous way to live.

Grandma

My grandma died 17 years ago today, 2 weeks before my 17th birthday. It was the loneliest birthday of my life.

The halfway point between time I’ve shared with her on this planet and time I haven’t has just passed. Yet she is ever present in my life and my conversations.

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I never got to see her stand like this. She was paralyzed by a stroke 7 or 8 years before I was born. I remember her talking about how she missed the days when she danced Hula so gracefully; when she would run, skip, and jump everywhere, even just to check the mailbox.

She was a renown beauty, a hula dancer and a radio actress. She started an all-harmonica band in East Hawaii. Before her arranged marriage she wrote letters to men in Japan, who fell in love with her because her handwriting was so beautiful (a concept I still don’t fully comprehend but couldn’t even begin to grasp until I watched the movie “Hero”). She was a dedicated, supportive, and accepting mother. She was a hard-working sales person who did well only because she believed in what she sold and cared about the people she sold it to. She was kind and compassionate. She would spend an entire day or two preparing a single meal for rambunctious grandchildren on their birthdays and special occasions. She was full of passion.

My heart aches with love for my grandma, Mary Kishiye Terazono Okura.

How to Be a Woman

I was recently asked to share my thoughts on an article entitled “50 Ways to Be a Woman.” I thought it was horrible.

The list says things like #30 “Do not validate your self worth around a man…” yet here is a list with strict guidelines that say we are more or less of a woman if we do or do not do these things that other people will judge our worth by. It perpetuates the misogynistic point of view that we should shape ourselves in a way to gain others’ approval. Example: #22 “Cultivate yourself as an interesting person and develop a personality that is unique to yourself.” This is so contrived and centered around what others think of us. People are greater than their habits, information, experience, etc. The culmination of all that we are IS interesting. People should never be limited to to live within a box of standards. Part of what makes people beautiful is that we are all different. We all have the capacity to change over time, to change our habits, traits, grooming, clothing style, color preferences, careers, attitudes, etc. and STILL be beautiful the way we are.

# 36 “Find your bliss. Life is too short to be unhappy and an unhappy woman is very unattractive.” #36 would have been fine without the last phrase. The last phrase communicates that the main motivation for any woman to live happily is so that she can be attractive to others (presumably the same men we are told not to validate our self worth around).

Amy’s opinion on Ways to be a Woman (or Man): Identify as one.

I think Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” conveys the feel of a woman embracing herself. How to be a phenomenal woman (or man): love yourself; love life.

Pretend Your Way From Cynicism to Hope

This morning I was listening to “Pretend” by Nat King Cole. I’ve listened to this song countless times as I’ve owned a “Nat King Cole Greatest Hits” CD since I was 14 years old. This song has always conjured images of unhappy 1950s housewives drinking Coca-Cola with real cocaine and setting the foundation for a long line of suburban women straining endlessly to present their idea of perfection while popping pills and masking their emotions. Though I was fairly certain that the song was not written with this intention, it left me with the vague impression that it was one of absurd irony. Cynical? Perhaps. Today, however, I heard it with a new mind.

“Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue
It isn’t very hard to do
And you’ll find happiness without an end
Whenever you pretend….

“Remember anyone can dream
And nothing’s bad as it may seem
The little things you haven’t got
Could be a lot if you pretend”

Perhaps the societal pendulum swung away from pretending and into expressing. We are a very vocal people. We complain, we fight, we talk about the ways we’ve been wronged or offended, and whether we are aware of it or not, we choose to be victims of our circumstances.

This year I’ve seen what appears to be a commitment to misery and failure in a few lives around me. I’ve endured persistent bouts of it myself. I have been relearning for the umpteenth time in life, that our greatest limitations are within us. This is true for most of our problems. Without our commitment to misery, failure, anger, rejection, incompetence, (insert the feeling associated with your current biggest problem here) all we have is a situation. The struggle is within. We create the drama that’s in our lives.

The age-old saying “fake it ’til you make it” applies to happiness. Though I don’t have the science to substantiate my claim, I have always had a sense that the body is inclined to continue producing the chemicals it’s most familiar with producing, and the corresponding neurotransmitters become trained to be ready to respond. If it accomplishes little else, pretending to be happy for a while might at least interrupt a cycle and diminish the downward spiral.

It really isn’t very hard to do; and nothing’s as bad as it may seem. Though the phrase about “the little things you haven’t got could be a lot” isn’t worded in a way that makes sense to me, I think it’s talking about appreciating what we have and our ability to dream and create better things; it’s about hope.

Today, “The world is mine, it can be yours, my friend. So why don’t you pretend?”