Transubstantiation

Be the change you wish to see in the world — be the change you fear.

Serve it up in bite-size pieces and make peace with it because resistance is futile.

Change comes and change comes and change comes
and you change and you change and you change.

Extra change in your pocket
is just reserve for the next detour.

Recalculating.

Better to live in fluidic space, liquid and organic,
bending time, not biding,
moving from here to there effortlessly.

Gracefully.
Gratefully.

Because an object at rest stays at rest
but an object in motion stays in motion

and we all know it’s the motion in the ocean that counts.

©Jen Payne. This poem appears in the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology, Our Changing Environment. To purchase your copy, click here.

No Surprise in the Surprise of It

Yesterday I awoke with a start well before sunrise. I tossed this way and turned that way and tucked my head farther and farther under the covers until I’d had enough and turned on the light for the day. It was no surprise then, as I was taking my first sip of coffee, that a wispy spider crawled out of my hair and down my arm. I nodded my head in both greeting and agreement that this was, of course, what would happen next. Those wiggly thoughts incarnated with more than enough legs to step all over my remaining sanity.

Musings ©2019, Jen Payne. Image by Hinke Schreuders. For more visit: www.sudsandsoda.com.

Rain Mantra

The rain comes gentle this morning

says: there are things that come and go

says: for all rain, there is also sun

taps out Quiet, Quiet, Quiet

on leaves like a mantra

louder than the train whistle

and steady increase of cars

that say: another day begins

and birds who sing: no matter the rain

in a hopeful tune

that’s hard to ignore.

Poem ©2019, Jen Payne. Image: Rain Shower, Eyvind Earle

Creative Lessons

Ten Things I Have Learned from Creative Women
by Keri Smith

  1. Laugh A LOT! Laugh from the gut. Bellow. Purge. Affirm. Guffaw. NEVER take life or yourself too seriously.
  2. Make your own fun regularly. You have the power to give your life meaning. Plan a creative party. Sew something new. Try a new recipe. Create your own games.
  3. Sing! Don’t worry about your voice.
  4. Spend some time just with women. Affirm the sacred bond between them.
  5. Value memories over things. Love and friendship are more important than all the money in the world.
  6. Savor sunsets.
  7. Nap daily.
  8. Celebrate birthdays!
  9. Create your own ritual. Rituals keep us connected to our lives, the earth, and one another.
  10. Honor children.
Text by Keri Smith, Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life. Photo by Jen Payne, ©2016, Rapid City, South Dakota.

GUEST BLOG POST: Exploring Mindfulness

Today, I’m a guest blogger on Choices with Madeline Sharples, sharing my thoughts on…

EXPLORING MINDFULNESS

I. A Meditation on Bugs

I hadn’t walked five minutes up the trail before they ambushed me. A swarm of gnats dropped down in front of my face like a thin, black veil. Two flies laid claim to my ears—bzzzzzzzzzzzzzing in stereo. Their siege left me breathless—afraid to inhale.

My swatting—swat, buzz, swat, buzz, swat, buzz, buzz!—was moot.

By coincidence, I had recently watched that scene in the movie Eat Pray Love in which the Julia Roberts character successfully sits in meditation for a full hour despite an enthusiastic swarm of bugs and thoughts. She lets the small annoyances pass and finds her way to stillness.

I’ve had a hard time with that kind of mindfulness—still sitting, mind clearing. A few years ago, I tried a guided group meditation. A kind and creative soul gently guided us for an hour. We floated through the sky, over the ocean, into the stars—okay, THEY floated. I spent the entire hour imagining myself running after them, trying to catch up!

My mind and I are usually running after something—the next project, the next errand, the next idea. Lots and lots of thoughts…like the lots and lots of bugs around my head!

In her book Stop the Pain: Adult Meditations, my dear friend Dale Carlson explains that there are many ways to meditate: “If your nervous system is the result of an active gene pool or you are personally too frayed to sit down right off, begin with a walk.”

In my own explorations mindfulness, my walks have become my meditation, but this day in the woods with the bugs was particularly challenging. I wanted to find my way to quiet. I tried to just be with the bugs. I walked (swat), I listened to the birds (buzz), I looked up at the trees (swat), I heard the leaves rustle (buzz).

Over and over again, I tried to bring my mind back to the present—to “pay attention” as Dale often reminds me—walking on a trail, drops of rain on my head, the smell of damp earth. And over and over again, my mind would run after the bugs.

Slowly, I am learning to let these annoyances pass over me. There are days when the bugs stay with me, buzzing their demands and nipping at my spirit for the entire walk.

And then there are days I walk with great ease—my breath is free, my mind is clear, and everything around me glows.

II. With Eyes Cast Down

My mind was busy as I walked to the trail. It was one of those days. Should I go left? Should I go right? I am always indecisive when my mind is occupied otherwise.

On this day, I went right—instead of left—and found my way along a narrow, woodland path. Up a hill. Across a small, spring stream. Into the quiet of the woods—I was breathing again.

There, in front of me, a patch of new ferns congregated along the edge of the trail, and I paused for a moment. Down on one knee to look closer, I realized I was no longer worrying about the worries that were worrying me. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

“It turns out meditation is not separate from daily life,” writes Dale. “It is taking time for walking or sitting in silence so your life can be reflected in the pool of that silence.”

Right there, I gave myself an assignment: Look down, be quiet, pay attention.

And there they were. Small clusters of wildflowers, patches of delicate ferns, bright colors, and playful shapes. New spring life, all along my path.

I never would have seen them. Look down, be quiet, pay attention.

III. Being One With

I knew right away it was a magical day in the woods. The gorgeous 50-degree afternoon was accented by a bright blue sky and a soft breeze that sang through the trees.

I saw a trail I’d never seen before, followed it to the edge of the pond and sat for a while. Sat. Quietly. I’d been invited to do so by the turtle who was on the log but disappeared as soon as I sat down. I waited for him to return, but he never did.

So I made my way back down a familiar path until I heard the distinct rustle of a hawk landing in a tree just up a hill. I stood silently for five, maybe ten minutes, watching it perched up high. But, when I decided to get a closer look, he took off into the tops of pine trees nearby. As I continued on my way, he flew above me, casting shadows on the path—he was watching me now, and we both knew it.

A squirrel stopped when I called to her, but dropped her acorn from the startle. “Go ahead, go back and get it,” I told her, then stepped gingerly back a few steps to allow safe space. She scurried down the tree, snatched up her meal, then glanced my way as if to say thanks.

A carpenter bee was busily moving about when I came upon her. I watched for a while as she crawled in an out of her burrow—spring cleaning, I wondered?

Walking further and further down the path this way, I could feel peace settle in. If I closed my eyes and breathed, I barely existed—except to feel the breeze on my skin and hear the whisper of trees. My footsteps, my heartbeat, my thoughts were so far away, they sounded hollow and unreal.

From the flirting of birds in the trees to the surprise of late-spring wildflowers come early, the forest was brimming with life and spirit…and suddenly, so was I.

“In silence, oneness with everything is possible….” — Dale Carlson

>>CLICK HERE to read the whole post.


This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

buynow


Local Shops Supporting Local Authors

Doing some holiday shopping this weekend? Stop by these fabulous local shops for copies of Evidence of Flossing plus many distinctive gifts for everyone on your list!


Martha Link Walsh Gallery
188 North Main Street, Branford, (203) 481-3505
www.marthalinkwalsh.com


Rock Garden
17 South Main Street, Branford, (203) 488-6699
www.rockgarden.com


Seaside Home & Gifts
172 Thimble Islands Road, Branford, (203) 481-1177
www.seasidehomeandgifts.com


Resistance is NOT Futile

I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread. Despite the abundance of good work, the anticipation of my new book, the arrival of a dear friend for a weekend visit, I knew there was something else lurking. The same dark anomaly that has been lurking for years now—yes, years, think about it.

When I woke up this morning, I knew that at some point in my day, at least once, whether intentional or not, I would be subjected to the reality of Donald Trump. Headlines yelling at me from my news sources, in my social media newsfeed, from the display in the checkout line—the enormity of what is happening is so loud and terrifying, I’ve developed a screaming whine in my ears that will not go away.

And that’s the scariest part—this is not going away. Not. Going. Away.

So the question is, what do we do with this? You can’t hide from it. Or run away. Ignore it. You have to face it. Do something about it. Cry. March. Scream.

And then go eat a gallon of ice cream. Or shoot yourself. Or something in the middle.

I showed up at the computer this morning determined to disconnect from social media for good, to train myself not to read the headlines anymore, to effectively stick my head in the sand and figure out how to breathe through my ass for the next four years.

But then this article caught my eye. And I read it. And I think you should too.

It’s called “How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind” by Mirah Curzer, a lawyer, feminist, and photographer. In it, she gives the following tips for being a strong resistor while maintaining your sanity:

1. Don’t Get Used to Trump — Get Away from Him
2. Focus Your Energy on One or Two Issues
3. Make Activism Fun
4. Take Care of the Basics

Please read these “Self-Care Lessons for the Resistance,” and then let’s roll up our sleeves, grab our lightsabers and get to work, shall we? I’ll courageously stay at the front lines with you…or go eat a hot fudge sundae, if that’s what is necessary for the cause.

Text ©2017, Jen Payne. IMAGE: by Hayley Gilmore, ladieswhodesign.com

Kintsugi

come, look closely
I am gold here
in between the pieces
broken

no longer broken

repaired

each crack
part of my history
this shimmering self

now

here

this is no disguise

no pretending
you don’t see the scar

it is the thick hot line
that shows you
how I traveled here

come, touch it
trace your finger
along its golden trail

there is poetry there,
can you feel it?

Poem ©2016, Jen Payne, 11 years removed. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

that i would be good

That I Would Be Good
by Alanis Morissette

that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds

that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowing

that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy

That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good
Whether with or without you


Photo ©2017, Jen Payne. “That I Would Be Good,” written by Alanis Nadine Morissette, Glen Ballard • Copyright © Peermusic Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, The Bicycle Music Company

The New Year Stands Before Us…

From The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency by Melody Beattie

Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.

Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.

What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?

What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?

What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?

Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down – as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

COMMENT BELOW: What are you goals for 2017?

Photo ©2017, Jen Payne. Sunrise at Grand Tetons National Park. Quote from The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency by Melody Beattie.