Variation on a Theme: Mocha Swirls of Uncertainty

I’m hooked.  My morning coffee routine lately is simple. Some might call it wrong to enjoy Via Instant packets, no freshly ground beans, no French Press. It’s what works in my kitchen these days. I’m getting ready to move and already downsized and packed, which means no French Press, no coffee grinder, not even spoons. It’s liberating to stir with a fork or knife. I do have a favorite coffee cup, which I painted with my favorite girl in January to set intentions for 2019. Today it becomes the canvas and container of my creativity.

Yesterday my morning coffee turned into a swirling mocha metaphor, finding my center of the hurricane of uncertainty. I’m compelled to explore the metaphor further. And thanks to the Clips app, I saw life with new eyes yesterday while droving around this sunshiny island, as if applying various photo filters for fun. So this morning, I couldn’t help repeating my experiment, with a different cup.

Join me for a slow minute-twenty of swirling self-centering.

“Love. Light. Laughter. Joy. Let only these in.” That is my mantra.

Add Ganesha, the destroyer of obstacles and the writer of books with a broken tusk.

Add boiling water.

Add chocolate hazelnut milk.

Swirl with silver-plated butter knife. I note which way I stir. Counterclockwise. Isn’t that interesting. Is my mocha a micrometaphorical typhoon, not a hurricane?

Today’s mocha swirl has me noticing that the calm center of my storm resembles the planets in motion. Gathering into each other. Coalescing. A circle of light chases and highlights the rotating bubbles. Breath slows simply by watching.

Did you see the solar system in your swirling coffee bubbles this morning?

My intentions to slow down go awry as I choose instead to slurp and snap sequences of the coffee disappearing.

I notice bird tweets serenading my swirls. Today is the first day I’ve opened the window and it’s really too chilly. But not for the birds. Happy singers. Best soundtrack for today.

The last drink reveals what I planned all along as I painted my New Year resolution with Grace:

When all is said and sipped–or speedily swallowed–for the sake of generating creative snapshots for sharing, at the bottom is JOY.

What’s swirling in your morning thoughts?

Finding Your Center in the Hurricane of Uncertainty

What happens when you wake up feeling overwhelmed by the day before it even begins? Some Mondays are like that. Some days are like that. It’s hard to get back to your heart and inner knowing that all shall be well.

How do you return to the calm in your center? I’ve been pondering spirals lately. The spirals of Moon snails. Of garden snails. Of spirals that show up in the foamy eddies of rivers and sea.

Today, because a friend asked, I looked for a metaphor. And then I saw it in the calm gathering center within the hazelnut chocolate swirls of my microscopic mocha hurricane. Right there next to my kitchen sink. Add the right music and voila!

Suddenly my creative play jump-started my day. It was more than the coffee caffeine. It was sharing something deeper, not any answers but a question that mattered.

When seen with imagination, all things shift toward meaning, revealing energies that are hidden within appearances, releasing the inner wings of spirit and opening wide the doors to healing and wholeness. – Michael Meade 

What's the message in the slow spiral of a garden snail?
What’s the message in the slow spiral of a garden snail?

Finding Faith in a True Sentence

It’s been too many weeks since I last wrote a blog. I had hoped to get into a groove and post at least once a week. It’s not for want of ideas. Or photos. 

It’s for want of perfection. 

Today I told a friend how I keep looking at my photoshoot pics, trying to find the right words to tell the right story. We’ve been talking about how to establish a daily writing practice. Are there good apps for that? What does it really take to feel ready to write for public consumption?

He shared this Keeping (and Losing) the Faith about writing. I love this idea:

If there’s one key component in a writer’s toolbox, it’s faith. Faith is the invisible fuel that propels us forward in the face of critique and rejection.

I wrote back…

“I am sitting here looking back through my recent photoshoots and trying to find words. I don’t think it’s a confidence block as much as settling into my seat and putting fingers to the keyboard to see what comes up. I often do better if I just process the pics into stories right onto my blog the same day, off the top of my head.

My friend had a suggestion:

“Close your eyes, take some breaths and go back there. You were really excited about the pics you got.”

I left iCloud and traveled back a few days. Took a breath. Smelled the rain enhancing the stones on the beach, like varnish to bring out the grain of old oak. Heard the crash of the waves, such as they are. Felt the cold on my fingers, and how happy I was to have the beach to myself. Noticed how the tide was high when I got there, and how I got high by being there–the waves of creativity crashing into my heart. The inspiration and heart-rocks galore.

How would I write about that? Which photos would I put into a sequence and story? Why did it have to be so hard to decide?

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

— Ernest Hemingway

Here is my one true sentence that’s been floating around in my head since Saturday:

Some days when I walk on this beach, I can’t help falling in love with every rock.

I bring so many home with me, full pockets, full hands. The first months in Seattle I tried having a rule that I’d leave whatever I found on the beach and only take photos. But I couldn’t help falling in love with the stones and the shells, and still can’t resist their companionship. Once a season or so I return a basketful back to their beach of belonging.  These days I’m wondering how many I need on my windowsills, bookshelves, or shoebox, like characters waiting for a story that has yet to be formed.

How do you tune your eyes to see treasures in the sand?

It takes courage to know what to keep as memento and what to release, what to hold in your hand and soak in the vibes, then leave on the driftwood for the next person to find. It takes courage because that means it takes HEART. Coeur, French for heart, root word for courage.

So many beauties to behold and wonder where they truly belong

What to do with a heart so full of awe for the indescribable, never-again findable treasures that show up on the sand? I’m taking a cue from the tide, faith in the sea that flows in and out three times a day, or at least twice depending on how tides tally over 24 hours.

Sometimes it’s better to just start writing and see what flows out. Or stacks up.

What helps your words stack up into ideas?

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood

Listening to Your Mystic DJ

I wake up almost every day with a song in my head, lyrics to ponder like a zen koan through my day. This morning, I heard, “I woke up at the moment that the miracle occurred — the most beautiful sound I ever heard.”

My first thought was that maybe it was referring back to those miraculous moments when someone is born, like my friend who’s celebrating his birthday today. Or something miraculous had happened in the middle of the night (should I turn on my phone to go look for some news?) The moment my son was born was certainly one of those wake-up miracles at quarter past noon, his first cry being the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. Some people simply come into our lives to wake us up. Thank goodness!

Still dark, at least an hour before the alarm would go off, I was too tired to get up and start to ponder in my journal. I have never had that song in my morning head before, although it is in my iTunes library. I was delighted and curious. What could it mean? I slept on it, and the words were still there when I woke up again.

After journaling awhile, I got up and googled the lyrics. I played the song while I showered, and again while I ate eggs and toast. And again just before taking out the trash. And one more time while I got ready to start my day at the keyboard. I’m laughing as I type this, because that need to hear it three times or more before I begin to understand the koan is a lot like life, isn’t it? How many times do I have to tell you!!

I laughed again when I saw that the lyrics in my head didn’t match the true lyrics of the song, not quite. I love that my Mystic DJ edits lyrics to suit my need to know. I often like my own version better. How often have you sung a song for decades, only to discover that the whole time you’ve had the words wrong? I believe we’re meant to write our own lyrics if the ones in the song aren’t quite what we need. And when we need to know the actual intended lyrics, we’ll find out in good time.

Creating a life of courage is like that. It’s about paying attention to the lyrics of your inner voice, singing along, humming over the words you don’t know yet. And trusting that you’ll find out, or rewrite, the words to your own song in your own time.

P.S. I’ve also discovered that the lyrics you find typed up online are most often provided by internet volunteers and not always more accurate than the ones you made up. It has to do with the scope of your inner vocabulary. And that’s always worth stretching.

P.P.S. There is some divine mischief going on with my inbox. Here is a poem that arrived, as if to affirm that I’m not crazy about this Mystic DJ and morning songs!

View the whole poem Check out the full poem and blog here at Christina’s Words. Thanks Christina!