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the three gratitudes…

Spring brings us into the heart chakra, and with that, the practice of gratitude.

My “three” were harvested from a page in my journal from 2012, but they still resonate true and deserve this echo, even if my heart had grown a bit rusty around each…

And you…?

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WORK

I am so grateful for the clear awareness of that which brings me alive. I am so thankful that I now realize that there is path upon which I can meet my need for contribution and connection; a creative outlet and a spirit offering.

YOGA

I am so in love with the gift of my body. I am fortunate to be to use my body as a meditation in motion. My body is my ally, my friend, my lifelong companion. It is such a joy to be able to teach and lead others with my body and my mind. I am so grateful that yoga reminds me that everything, every feeling, every situation, every breath is my yoga–and that the practice is infinitely more important, more relevant than any achievement.

LOVE

I am deeply blessed with lovers in all forms: from my partner, and our children, to my family and friends, to the water, the sun, the light and the scent on the air…

 

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Life Purpose Path

 

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there is a room…

gift-50-291Of all the lodging I explored in my youth, a single room stands out, and comes to me now, thirty springs later, as I place a glass and a bottle of water beside a bed in a stranger’s home where I’ve come to spend the week alone.

The place then was Italy–Firenze–in a small pensione, presided over by an elderly woman who spoke as much English as I spoke Italian. (None.)

I was 20, on a whirlwind tour of Europe in this our first long break from our semester abroad at the University of London.

I hadn’t meant to be on a whirlwind tour. I’m much more of a solo steeper. Preferring say, a seat at a café on the Seine sipping a glass of chardonnay to zooming through the nearby Musée du Louvre with a throng of friends.

But my intended traveling companion for traipsing around the continent on the cheap, abandoned me at the last-minute for a free trip with his family to Sicily to explore his ancestral roots.

Thus, I haphazardly joined a trip planned by the maniacal Abigail (and friends) who scheduled a dozen stops in several countries in the span of 14 days.

Firenze (aka. Florence) was our only pause; and here’s why: a room with a view (and a shower.) Abigail had distant relatives who owned an exquisite villa in the hills outside the city; and her rich father paid for her (and her minions) to spend a long weekend there, complete with meals.

I too was invited to a single meal on a Saturday night, but I had to find accommodations elsewhere for the weekend, as her father refused to add a fourth person to the mounting bill.

In some ways, these girls and I were well suited to one another; in that we all gulped after life indulgently, no doubt escaping from some form of pain–of a lover left behind, of families torn apart, of innocence stolen by tragedy–and those were just mine.

Such was the case Saturday night when we continued our party into the lounge following a decadent meal in the dining room.

When the small bar finally closed on us, the girls headed up to their cozy beds while I stumbled off my stool to catch the bus back to the city.

I felt sorry for myself at the pensione, particularly as it punctuated that I had been an after thought to Abigail’s trip, and so I said yes when the bartender offered me another drink and then a ride home because I had missed the last run. In my drunkenness, I failed to take in our 20 year age span and his intentions until he took me to the top of the city “to look at the view” and leaned in for a kiss, and I weaved with dizziness.

It was well past curfew when he dropped me at the pensione, but the elderly woman opened the door and led me to my room once again.

Never before had I been so thankful to see a single cot in a narrow space beside a spartan table upon which sat a carafe of water and a glass. I drank as much as I could and slept through the remainder of the night, satisfied.

There were other such excesses on this trip–in Vienna, and Munich, and Brussels–to name a few, but the simple room in the pensione lingers on in my mind, mirroring the truth of who I was and what I wanted my life to become.

“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

–Joseph Campbell

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Life Purpose Path, Markers

 

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In praise of art museums

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center | Brattleboro, Vermont

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center | Brattleboro, Vermont

In our noisy world of doing, doing, doing, art museums provide quiet places for introspection, spaciousness, receptivity and nourishment… find one near you :)

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Beloved Tweets

 

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I should be suspicious…

Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right,
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want and end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others and fall in.
I should be suspicious of what I want.

~Jalaluddin Rumi

Photo: Guillaume Roche. Luxor, Egypt.

(Photo: Guillaume Roche. Luxor, Egypt.)

Recently Ive grown suspicious.

God appears to be acting in my life.

Even worse, others seem to be conspiring on his behalf.

I resent this.

I don’t want God,

showing up now,

like a birth mother

after all these years.

What’s done is done.

I am my own child.

(Aren’t I?)

 

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Addiction Rage

Kelly Back

I wake angry. Riddled with residue. Rageful at the past. Pissed that I will have to write my way through what was meant to be a different kind of morning on this, a frosty first-day of spring.

Last night, I took my 13 year-old to Mount Snow for a presentation on drugs and alcohol–a requirement to earn a ski pass.

The speakers were newly married. One–a famous Super Bowl star, turned addict. The other–the mother of a 17-year old girl who died in two feet of water at a party in the woods.

Their stories were painful, provocative and prey-ful. There was some concrete take-way; But mostly, I left triggered.

My family is rampant with addiction. My childhood was flooded in it.

I HATE IT.

I hate fucking addiction.

I’d like to end this piece right there, but the rage hasn’t drained.

There’s more work to do.

I don’t want to feel this.

This pain. This vulnerability. That mother’s loss. That man’s pain. My mother’s vacancy. My Nana’s ugliness. My Gram’s despair. My aunt’s carelessness. (And I’m not even touching my generation or the one after that.)

Compassion. My physician father taught me to understand addiction as disease. But how long does this disease deserve to live? My mother died over a dozen years ago. Her drinking died a decade before that.

How is it still hurting me?

I don’t want it.

I don’t want to lie there waiting outside on the ice with a broken arm calling… “Mom, mom, MOM!”

I don’t to wait for her to arrive without any sign of effort as if she dragged herself to respond to the cries of her first-born.

I don’t want to see her impassive face.

I don’t want to hear her flatly say, Kelly, what is it, without a single question mark of concern.

And I definitely don’t want to feel her rub my fucking head and tell me how beautiful I am a decade later when she’s clearly bombed.

The WOMEN in my LIFE only touched me when they were drunk. Only told me they loved me when they were drunk. Only looked at me with affection when they were drunk.

I don’t want to hear how my siblings and my nieces and my nephews and even my sons are going to avoid addiction. With their minds. Ha!

We have great minds. We have depression. We have anxiety.

WE are hard-wired for addiction.

We don’t have a choice. We will pay the price…

I feel
sad
now,
instead of angry.

And that is enough.

 
 

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50 Shades of Gratitude

Leave behind the gray and step into gratitude, in 50 shades, of course.
Here’s my list on the approach of my 50th birthday.
No doubt you have yours…
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  1. An entire week, a year, a life… to sense, reflect & write my way to 50.
  2. The gift of my body… to love, to dance, to birth, to nurse, to move through space.
  3. The community of Marlboro, Vermont.
  4. Marlboro Elementary School.
  5. Southern Vermont–where so many find so many ways to celebrate art, voice and humanity.
  6. The state of Vermont which I’ve been proud to call home for 20 years.
  7. SOUTH POND.
  8. NERINGA POND.
  9. The Whetstone Brook.
  10. MacArthur Road.
  11. Dan’s emerging rock sculptures up MacArthur Rd.
  12. Whetstone Ledges Farm Stand
  13. The music makers. Local. Worldwide.
  14. Libraries, everywhere.
  15. Cafes, everywhere. But especially our Amy’s.
  16. Cities. Kyoto. Paris. New York.
  17. The United Nations.
  18. kelly-back-2-version-2-e1386332111765WOMEN.
  19. CHILDREN.
  20. Men, men, men.
  21. New life… plants, babies, animals.
  22. The splendor of frost.
  23. TWILIGHT.
  24. The sun on the water at day’s end.
  25. That time of day when water becomes glass.
  26. 7 Sisters.
  27. ONE BROTHER.
  28. Two sons.
  29. One AMAZING man who has loved me and taken care of me and celebrated me for almost 30 years.
  30. Childhood friends. Highschool friends. College friends. Traveling friends. International friends. Local friends. New friends. Friends to come.
  31. Mentors. Colleagues. Leaders. Teachers.
  32. The SUN.
  33. Conversations.
  34. The male mind.
  35. Male confidence.
  36. Male competence.
  37. The men who have been my friends. Who have fed my mind. Who have complimented me in ways that have nourished me through time.
  38. WATER. Drinking, bathing, showering, playing, watching, gliding, skating. Wine with.
  39. The women who have shaped my life. Who have paved the way.
  40. Bellies.
  41. Birth.
  42. Lovemaking.
  43. Tequila.
  44. Irreverence.
  45. The sacred.
  46. Bliss.
  47. Yoga.
  48. Loving Me.
  49. Being 49.
  50. (Shit, how did I get to 50 already!)
    To Be Continued…

Kelly BackMore on the Path to 50:

FU 50′s
Flat 50
Being 49

Tribute to the 40′s
30′s Retrospective
Turning 20
The Hardest Decade? 10-19
The First Decade

 

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Flat 50′s?

photo: Kelly Salasin

photo: Kelly Salasin

The past decade has been… tumultuous… inside. With flamboyant expressions of anger, despair, sadness and depression. I’ve retreated more and more into myself until I spend most of my days alone, in silence. It’s been delicious.

Thank you mid-life hormones for paving the way.

Now, as I approach 50 (in 74 hours & 5 minutes), I find myself settling. Placid. Flat.

There are still rises in my emotional temperature, but they are more subtle, contained, measured.

Is this maturity? Evolution? Or just another chemistry experiment inside my hormone-ridden body?

It’s not actually pleasant. I’m not accustomed to a life without highs. But I question the source of the highs that I relied upon most of my life. Did they come from inside or from my mind? I suspect the latter, and thus doubt their sincerity.

Perhaps this shift in chemistry is paving the way for yet another treasure. Equanimity. A life without sharp edges and brittle peaks. (Or perhaps the time has come for me to consider medication?)

Despite this flatness, my life continues to unfold. My learning continues to blossom. My world continues to open. My work continues to expand.

If I am careful. If I align myself from the inside out. Say with meditation and yoga and right diet (all dull choices), then I find myself slipping into effortless ease. Effortless ease. Imagine that… Things just fall into place. Details. Objects. Solutions.

Without the distraction of the dramatic highs and lows which have colored the past decade, I sense the way with greater clarity. I get out of the way more often. I learn, again and again, that the way begins… in me.

~

More on the path to 50:

FU 50′s
Being 49

Tribute to the 40′s
30′s Retrospective
Turning 20
The Hardest Decade? 10-19
The First Decade

 

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