Monk in the world…

I’m pleased to have a piece up on Abbey of the Arts this week for their “Monk in the World” guest series. I hope you’ll take a moment to check it out and to browse the rest of the site. It’s a sweet group of folks and there’s a whole catalogue of wisdom there!

Monk in the World

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If Huffington Post, Salon.com and Mad Magazine had a baby it would be Lefty Pop…

and they asked me to throw some words at them from time to time.

Fair warning…while I try to maintain an air of civility and balance here on Mrs Metaphor (picture me drinking tea with pinkie raised) I cannot promise it won’t go all “Animal House” over there from time to time. That’s part of its charm, I think.

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Hope you’ll check it out, jump into the fray, get yer pop and politics fix…

Reflections from the Glass Factory

I love the idea that glass begins as sand and that sand was once perhaps rock. I love the image of mirrors and windows starting life on a beach somewhere, that bare feet walked that beach, that sunsets infused that sand, heated that rock, whispered into the memory of that substance. I love the thought that what changed this substance was time and heat and care, the same things that change all of us. With time and heat and care we all transform into something new, something transparent, viscous, beautiful.

And so for the last 6 years I have attempted to write about these things here at Mrs Metaphor. I have tried to write about us as sand, as rock, as glass, as mirror. I think sometimes I hit it and sometimes maybe not so much. You are a fine, patient and thoughtful bunch of readers. I am grateful for you.

Reading back over nearly 6 years of posts I’ve decided to edit, expand and compile this untidy mess of metaphorical thoughts into a real life paper book for those readers who would like to have them on hand or to hand out to someone else. The biggest barrier to this happening is the expense producing this treasure. Because I like you guys I’m hiring an editor and a graphic designer. I’m having them printed by a bona fide printer and bound in gold leaf and fine Corinthian leather. Wait, actually, the gold leaf and fine Corinthian leather is an elaboration but rest assured, it will be beautiful.

This is where Kickstarter comes in. Kickstarter¬†is a way to raise funds to complete projects such as Mrs Metaphor:Reflections from the Glass Factory. In order for this project to see the light of day I will need your help. If you check out the Kickstarter page you’ll see all the information needed to understand the scope of the project and what you can do to be a part of it.

At the very least, please take some time to spread the word. I have 40 days to raise the money to fund the book. If I don’t raise all of the money then no money is collected. It’s all or nothing, baby.

You will see updates from me over the next 40 days about the project as well as some re-posts of early essays which will be revised for the book. I am open to suggestions on pieces you’d like to see in the book as well, so please peruse my archives and see what strikes your fancy!

Be sure to look through the “Kickstarter” tab at the top o’ the blog for more information.

Thank you SO MUCH for supporting the work of (relatively) young writers!

 

 

Dear Mrs Metaphor…

Dear Mrs Metaphor
Ever since I reconnected with an old friend by email he’s been sending me all kinds of email spam and forwards. Usually I can just delete them without any trouble but frankly some of the “jokey” ones are pretty misogynistic and it’s really beginning to annoy me.
What can I do?
help!
-Email Enabler

Dear Enabler
I can certainly sympathize with your situation. What I am unsure about however is whether you are asking how to protect the integrity of your own email inbox or whether you should confront this person about his behavior.

Obviously if you just want to keep your carpets clean then do not allow the neighbor with the muddy feet in, yes?
If that is the case then simply block his emails or set up a smart mailbox where his emails will reside until you have a chance to check his feet as it were.

Now, if what you are asking is less about the condition of your own carpets and concerned more for how this neighbor’s feet become so very muddied I’d suggest you bring it up to him. Explain in as loving a way as possible that it’s not him you resent but rather the crud he continues to bring in with him. It is entirely possible that his attitudes are not deeply held and he is only parroting what’s being said at the mudhole down the road. It takes courage to speak out against the cultural norms and you may very well be the first to speak the truth to this man and call him into integrity.

He may not hear this well, be prepared. If done by email it may not be heard with as much care and concern as you’d like to offer so it may be best to speak with him by phone if possible.

Now if you are unsure about whether your concern is your own carpeting or his beautiful feet bearing such filth then I would suggest you examine the friendship. What do you have to lose by speaking truthfully to this person? What do you have to gain by being silent?

Examine your own motivations…put aside any pride that creeps in…pay attention to issues of justice…speak the truth in love
or let it go and bar the door.

sincerely,
Mrs Metaphor

I would love my body if….

I have made this decision that I will no longer take clients who just want to lose weight. I can’t help people lose weight. It’s a short sighted goal.

I think, instead what I want to do is to help people learn to love their body. I know, that I want to love my body and when I have those moments when I do love it I feel confident and alive. I feel rooted.

My theory is this. When we love another person we can HOPE that they will change some attitude or behavior but is our love really DEPENDENT on that change? Should it be dependent on that change? I say, no. I say either you choose to love someone or you do not. Love is a choice we make, every day.

Now, do not misunderstand me, I can choose to love someone even though I dislike their behavior. And in so doing I can also choose to not engage that person. I do not have to factor into their bad behavior just because I love them. If my brother is an alcoholic I can love him without buying him beer when he’s down, yes?

Loving ME, though, my physical body…that is something else. I cannot separate myself from my body. I cannot walk away from it. It is the only body I have been given in this world. I cannot trade it in. I cannot “break up” with it and choose another. So each day I wake up and I have to choose to love it or not. Each moment of that day I continue to either choose to love my body or not. Each moment of each day I have to make this choice.

Ask yourself these questions…in those moments when I choose NOT to love my body how do I treat it? What messages are better able to filter in? How does mass culture wreck havoc on my perception of my own body in those moments?

Do most of us even KNOW what it feels like to love our body? Do most of us even KNOW our bodies?

So, today I was thinking about this piece of advice I gave to someone recently, actually I called it “homework.” I asked her to take a body part, everyday and focus on it. Throughout the day she was to be aware of that body part, to acknowledge it. Throughout the day as she is aware of it she was to “own” it by making a statement like, “Mine” or “This is a gift to me from my Creator.” I’ve been doing it this week to see how that feels and you know, so far it’s good. It feels right. It feels comforting.

I’m giving you this homework as well then, if it feels like this issue fits for you. Just be aware this week of your body, how you move, how you react, how you feel and own it…embrace it.

Let me know how it goes.

Marlene on the Wall…

…or on the guitar stand as it were. I promised I would post a picture of my other mid life crisis endeavor, my guitar. As you will recall I studied piano for a length of time and cello as well but never have played guitar. Thus, in the wake of my 40th birthday I went out and picked out this sweet young thing (sorry, Steve…the sexy electric won me over):

marlene.jpg

I have gotten into this habit of naming things, especially instruments. To me, it gives them a depth and me an understanding that this is more than a “thing,” yes? I think this practiced developed when I began cello lessons with Norman Johns of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra when I was in high school.¬† He introduced this concept to me when he introduced his cello as “Sophia.”¬† It stuck with me so much that when I acquired my own cello a few years ago I named her “Sophia” as well, in remembrance of those days.

So, in light of this, I’ll tell you that my guitar is called “Marlene.” I named her after a Suzanne Vega song that I have always loved, “Marlene on the Wall.” In the tune, “Marlene” refers to a picture of Marlene Dietrich, the german born actress. When I sat down and started playing my guitar that was what came to me first. I was struck by her dark, sultry nature and her engaging moodiness, thus…she is Marlene.

I’ll leave you with a mid 80’s performance by the incredible Ms Vega.

National Blog Posting Month

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National Blog Posting Month

Why do I do things like this? Why on earth would I accept a challenge to post one blog entry a day for the entire month of November?

I wonder if it is because I really WOULD like to see the internet explode. Curious (spoken in my best “Spock” voice.”)

I’m still working out the whole NaBloPoMo page thing to have the posts RSS feed there but you’ll see my marathon posts here on mrsmetaphor. No sense reinventing the wheel, yes?

Mrs Haiku

I’ve always loved the form of the Haiku…so simple and yet chock full of possibilities. Less is more, yes?

My friend Julie provides the following information about he art form of Haiku; in addition to the well known syllabic rhythm of
5
7
5

The Haiku traditionally would also refer in some way to the weather or the seasons. How cool is that?

So, in light of today being slighlty chillier than yesterday (always a good sign in the “south” as it were) then I shall give you another assignment while I write my next scintillating post. (Is she stalling you ask? Um, yes, what of it?)

Your assignment is to ….WRITE YOUR OWN HAIKU…

I’ll model this for you:

with fall comes relief
sweltering evenings will pass
southern summers suck

I added a little alliteration there at the end just to jazz it up but you get the point….now, off with you. Give me your best work, this counts toward your midterm grade report.

Make your own metaphor…

Based upon the clever commentary by Rachel in a previous post here on Mrs Metaphor I’m giving myself a week or two off from the pressures of literary fifedom and starting a new trend, “Make your own Metaphor.”

Remember the basic definition of a metaphor as found in Webster:

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English methaphor, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French metaphore, from Latin metaphora, from Greek, from metapherein to transfer, from meta- + pherein to bear — more at BEAR
1 : a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language

I’ll give you the subject matter and you must draw your metaphor (comparing this subject to something else and not using the words “like” or “as” remember….)

Here is your assignment this week…you may make it as long or as short as you would like, if you need additional paper you may raise your hand and I will virtually send one back to your seat.

Your subject is, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”

I’ll even model this for you briefly.

In the midst of rural tennessee, the winter brings with her solitude and wonder, stillness and cool crisp evenings.¬†¬† We have spent the summer welcoming June and July, bags unpacked, filled with friends and family, who came bursting onto the scene with immense vigor.¬† They make our home a full scale replica of Grand Central Station…thank God for air conditioning and the¬† approaching of Fall.

Ready? Begin.

Ordinary Time: Measure for Measure

When I want to know how much I weigh I use the high tech fat analyzer scale in the closet of my bathroom. Not only do I want to know my weight but I want to know more than that; of what does that weight consist? I want data, raw numbers to interpret and apply to what I know of my body already.

When I worked in the outside world and wanted to gauge my progress I would lookward my peers, co-workers and collegues. I would see what they did, how they acted, how clean or messy their desk appeared and glean from it what I might to become more successful.

In my current profession, that of mother and domestic goddess I often employ the same means of evaluation although it has morphed into a self depreciating and defeating practice.

I visit houses of my friends and always find myself lacking. Jenny’s home is always spotless and her children well groomed. While Pat’s home is not spotless her children are extremely well behaved and she is incredibly creative with them. Tracy’s home is spotless, her children well behaved, she homeschools, grows and cans her own vegetables and is an unbelievably sweet person. It’s no wonder that I am friends with each of these women. They all possess qualities that I admire.

Aside from being my friends these women are in effect my collegues in this business of parenting and house-tending. It is understandable, I suppose, that I would look to them and their ways when I measure myself in this vocation. The struggle for me is to really see their lives without drawing the negative connotations implied in the different ways we run our proverbial ship.

My home is far from spotless. There is a half hearted but well meaning structure for where things belong. There are days when the floors are clean and the bathrooms smell fine, the laundry put away, the dishes done and all is well with the world. Then there are days when the floor is so sticky it’s embarrassing, the dishes piled high in the sink, the children wearing yesterday’s underwear because the laundry is awaiting my attention. And then we find our moments of what I call “Ordinary Time”. Clean clothes that are not yet put away, clean dishes, still in the dishwasher, sweepable floor and merely a thin layer of dust on the bookshelf.

It seems that I keep house the way I homeschool; a somewhat disorganized but well meaning and “organic” manner. There are days when we stay in our pajamas all day and sit around reading and playing with art stuff. There are days when we hit our “schedule” like clockwork and get all of our subjects finished. There are mainly days, though, that fall in between. Ordinary Time. Half the kids are dressed, half in pajamas. Some have brushed their teeth, others staunchly refuse. The dog’s been fed at least once. We finished our math work and part of the required reading for History. The television has been on for far longer than I even care to admit. These are the nights I quiz my husband and require him to tell me that our children will not be permanently damaged by my lack of follow through. His standard response, “They’re great…they really are” is all I need to hear.

Ordinary time, is where we live. These in between days make up the bulk of the year and yet I find that I still feel as though I’m playing catch up. If given the choice between Slouch Time, Ordinary Time and High Time I guess in the end I’d like to be a slouch with a spotless house on a regular basis. I want it all but I don’t REALLY know anyone who can do this and keep her sanity.

I think back upon my three friends to whom I compare myself.

I can look at each of their lives and see how they differ from mine, I could draw unfavorable comparisons to how well I do things, how they lack just to make myself feel better I suppose. But in the long run, when day is over what really strikes me is that I AM friends with each of them because of the qualities they possess; kindness, faithfulness, joyfulness, creativity just to name a few. I admire these qualities because I have them too whether or not I realize this on a regular basis. What brings us together really is seeing those things in each other that we find to be valuable.

My hope is that I begin to use sentances such as, “what I love about Pat is….” rather than “what makes me jealous of Pat is…”

My hope is that I will begin to live in and through this Ordinary Time… and see how it lives in me.