The Color of Weather

The Color of Weather

I walked to Orna’s house again today and we watched the sunset from her dining table and later, on her veranda. The sky gets streaked with colors, first with orange, and later, with rose. I love color. My latest paintings are simple experiments with color. Using only a paint spatula, I played with colors on two canvases last night at Angelika’s studio class and was very satisfied with what developed. 

Today’s post is a bonus for the week, a piece I wrote last month for BB&C (Bell, Book and Candle, the writing group Dolores hosts each month) when the prompt was Magic. I hope you enjoy!

Jan 26, 2017 Magic

Upon entering Jamaica on holiday long ago when I was younger, I wrote on the application for my tourist visa in the space provided for occupation: magician. I don’t know what possessed me. At the time, I worked in a mental health center as a clinical social worker, a psychotherapist, studying and practicing NLP and hypnotherapy, and had an inflated view of my abilities to conjure profound changes in the lives of my clients. I liked the idea that I could trick clients into becoming the persons they wanted to be. I enjoyed using indirect hypnotic tools to induce trance, telling rambling, often boring, stories, with the understanding that I was the expert and the client engaged me specifically to practice such deception. People paid good money to change and yet, with every fiber of their being, resisted such transformation. How to help? How to bypass the resistance and engage that small fraction of self that hoped to move into new, uncharted territory? It was all about magic and illusion. Reframing a tragic situation as one that provides growth and opportunity. Providing a different perspective that encourages movement. Magic. Smoke and mirrors. Hope. 

 My career as a psychotherapist and later, as a life coach, spanned more than 30 years and during that time, I was astounded by how the issues presented by my clients mirrored my own in many ways. Everything from infertility to alcoholism to hair loss. If they had it, so, it would seem, did I. I don’t understand how it happened. I used to think such coincidences were gifts from the Universe. I’d work out and learn about my life challenges through the work my clients did in and out of my office. Maybe it wasn’t so odd, after all. Maybe there are only a limited number of challenges human beings face, and the challenges my clients brought into my office were bound to match up with my very own some percentage of the time. Nonetheless, it always seemed a magical coincidence, and delighted me in each and every instance. 

 These days, the magic shows up in different ways. In my paintings, for instance, and in my stories. I work in these media with very little interference from my analytical thinking center and instead let myself fall into trance and let slip out whatever is inclined. One of my classmates in studio painting class looked at an abstract painting I was sitting with on the easel and asked “this comes just from your mind?” And the honest answer I gave was, no, it comes from my hands. My mind is not involved in the process. I have no image of which I am even remotely aware when I paint. I just pick up a color and apply it then pick up another and apply it, too. With no sense of what is meant to develop. And that’s how I write, when I am at my best. Even now, the magic is in not knowing where this piece is taking me and how I will get there. It’s a journey into the unknown and that’s what’s so thrilling for me. That’s what makes it fun and engaging. 

 I used to think that I needed to know what the story was going to be about, what the image was meant to look like, in order to create. Now I know that for me, the joy is in the not knowing, the emptiness of mind and trusting the right strokes to take me somewhere delightful. And if I am not delighted, I can always revise later. It amazes me every time I paint or write something that I like, and it’s happening more frequently as I learn to surrender to the joy of not knowing. I wonder if my love life will be affected by this same process. Surely I have surrendered to not knowing what’s in store for me in the romance department, but have I done so with joy? I don’t know the answer to that question. It changes every day. But magic is surely the only way romance will ensnare my heart, for the heart is on its own journey and I haven’t any control over it, and never have. 

 I sit in my living room surrounded by paintings I enjoy. I have painted all of them. Two years ago, I did not take delight in my paintings, but was learning only to tolerate and not reject them. Something has changed, and I think it’s the notion of control. I paint the way I live. I take the easy path, the path of least resistance, the path that is fun, pleasurable. I have chosen not to try and develop my skills in areas that are woefully deficient, like shape and perspective and copying reality. Instead, I’m creating my own reality, using skills that are inherent to my being, my pleasure and sensitivity to color. No one will ever praise the life-like quality of my paintings. Just as no one will praise the structure, discipline or craft of my writing. I am learning to surrender to my strengths and let my deficiencies shine through with affection. I am too old to learn the hard way. I trust in magic. 


A Fresh Start–Committing to Weekly Posts from Paros, Greece

A Fresh Start–Committing to Weekly Posts from Paros, Greece

Feb 21, 2017
Today has been a good day, maybe even a very good day. I went to sleep very late last night and thought I was entitled to stay in bed until 11 in the morning, but Molly woke me as usual at 9 am, wanting her morning belly rubs. After a few minutes of caressing her, I determined to arise and get dressed and have breakfast, but not exactly in that order, which would probably be even better for my state of mind, but anyway, it was easy because there was porridge already cooked and only needing reheating with milk and raisins and it was sunny and warm and easy to sit outside on the verandah and enjoy my breakfast, and while I was eating, I had the bright idea to call Vivian at the Nail Boutique and schedule a long-overdue pedicure and she said I could come in at noon but it was already 11:20 and I didn’t think I could make it in time so she said even until 12:20 would be okay so I finished my coffee and hung out my laundry and got dressed and combed my hair and even styled it with a bobbie pin which makes all the difference and put on some blush and brushed my teeth and off I went and showed up at 12:05 at the Nail Boutique in Naousa but she hadn’t even arrived yet. I walked over to Cafe Karino on the port and saw someone I know and sat at his table in the sun for 15 minutes until I returned to the Nail Boutique and Vivian had just arrived and was unloading her car. It’s always a pleasure, getting my nails or toes done at Vivian’s. People come in to say hello to her and she and I have pleasant conversation, and I feel happy with the color on my digits and nurtured, too, in a small but significant way. We were both at the tail ends of our colds, too and could commiserate with each other’s sad state for the last two weeks. Then I left and went back to Karino’s for lunch because I was hungry and it was already 2 in the afternoon and I saw a couple of people I know and we exchanged greetings and I met someone new through one of the people I already knew and I invited him to sit with me when I saw he was also stopping at the cafe. He ordered only a juice, but I had a sandwich and we made introductory small talk and the sky became heavy with thick dark-bellied clouds and I wondered if I would get my walk today–the forecast had been for clear skies all day and no rain, so as soon as I finished my sandwich, I left and came home and brought in the dry laundry and headed out for my walk with Molly and Cat. 

 We walked only across the street to Jane’s house and I went and sat on her porch to take photos to send her of the view from her porch so she could see if she was satisfied with the way her gardener had trimmed back the olive trees that obscured her view of the sea and Naxos. I thought one tree could stand to be trimmed back even further, but that’s for her to decide. After I sent the photos to her, I resumed my walk, but Cat chose not to accompany us this time. I had a pleasant 30 minute walk through the countryside to Orna’s house where I heard from the road her Greek music blasting from her house. She was happy to see me and continued cutting vegetables for the soup she was making while I rolled first a cigarette from her tobacco and then a joint from my stash. We got high together and somehow the subject of meeting men came up and then I showed her the profiles I’d written for myself quite a few years ago on Plenty of Fish and also OKCupid and she read them aloud and we laughed at the funny parts, like the part about Chico. 

 Somehow we got to talking also about writing a blog and she said she wanted to post her jewelry on a blog and write about her life and how she’s followed her dreams. She told me she wants to inspire Israeli women of her age to consider living for themselves instead of only for their families and children and grandchildren. And I thought, people tell me that my story and the stories I write about my life are inspirational and I thought, maybe I don’t need to be concerned about getting my writing published, but really just want to share my stories with a larger circle of people, and even posting that I have a blog on Facebook and asking my friends to share the blog would sufficiently broaden my readership. And that would be enough for me. And surely some people would read my blog and become followers and that would be great. Maybe even enough to satisfy my ambitions for readership. Orna really encouraged me — she’s a fan of my writing. I told her I wanted to commit to a weekly entry and asked her, if I set a date and time for weekly posting, would she inquire a few days before to encourage my progress? And she was happy to agree and I said I would do the same for her and offered to help her set up her blog but she wanted to try and figure it out by herself first. So okay. This is my next blog entry in Guide and Seek on WordPress and I will post a link on Facebook and tell my friends about it and commit to posting every Tuesday by 8 pm Greece time. There may be some weeks I’ll post a story I’ve written in the past and for sure, I’m going to use one of the weeks to post my OKCupid profile cause it’s a good piece of writing, especially for a dating site profile. 

 I also decided to talk with my friend at the retreat center down the road about my workshop, Spirituality and the 12 Steps, and see about getting it on their schedule. I got excited describing it to Orna and thought I’d really like to be teaching that stuff again, and maybe even coaching, too. So we’ll see. 

 If you’re reading this post, feel free to leave a comment. In fact, I would really appreciate it if any of my friends want to encourage me in this endeavor, please, please leave a comment and tell me to keep writing and posting. I need the moral support, and there’s nothing like a satisfied reader to inspire me to write more. 

 Much love to all of you, Hava. 

Arriving For My Second Winter on Paros

Arriving For My Second Winter on Paros

Sept 29

I’m back on Paros and as I feared, no longer enchanted by the place as I had been last year, the first time around. That bliss accompanying the delicious discoveries of falling in love. But it’s all so familiar now and the season has changed. Autumn is in the wind, the sky, the sea and the land. Any miracles of discovery will have to take place within my being, not on the level of the body and my senses. Solitude is what I crave. I yearn to take a long walk on the road and meet D. at Taos Center and order prawn chips as reward for my trek. I hesitate because of that damn plantar fasciitis that causes my left foot to feel as if a metal spike jabs my sole with every step I take. But already I have decided, I’ll take that walk, and skip the shower I should have taken after my swim. I want to start my walk in daylight.

Sept 30

The essential question I have explored in my personal narrative pieces, probably also in my fiction, is  Happiness. That’s what I wonder about. How to be, despite the obstacles.

I’m sitting on my veranda, sheltered from the wind coming out of the North, but hearing and feeling its edges slipping around the side of the house. My view from here is mostly East, veering a bit to the South, and my long view is disrupted by ugly utility poles that are nighttime lit, as well as a house. The house isn’t bad, it’s the utility poles that sadden me. On D’s porch, where first I lived when I arrived last year August 22, the view is unobstructed. I was surprised that D had placed her table on the side of the veranda where there is a vertical beam that holds up the retractable roof right smack dab in the middle of the view. I mentioned it last night (or perhaps I complained?) and she explained her reasons, but I think the main reason was that she wasn’t the least bit aware of how her view was disturbed, or perhaps she simply wasn’t disturbed. But, amazingly, she got up and started moving the table to where I suggested it be placed. Was that from consideration for me? Or a new awareness on her part? Just wondering.

The view from my own veranda would be perfectly lovely if it weren’t for the utility poles and attached wires strung between them. The wires are especially distressing, uglier than the poles from which they hang. I don’t mind the solar water heater mechanicals, the antennae and the small satellite dishes on the roofs. It’s the utility wires that depress me. I can squint like an artist and cause them almost to disappear, but that will deepen the wrinkles around my eyes, and besides, the poles then become even more of an eyesore. If I turn my head to the right and direct my gaze towards the row of white houses trimmed in various shades of blue, with the still blossoming bougainvillea hanging from my veranda’s roof and the flowering bushes growing up to meet them, it’s quite a beguiling view; I may turn the furniture around so as to be facing that unpolluted scene.

I am simply a happier and more fulfilled person when I have a better view. I cannot help it. I wonder if living with someone whose facial expression was usually dour had a distressing effect on my instinctual happiness-making battery. Seeing beauty simply makes me happy. What if I were blind? That avenue of input to my happiness battery would be eliminated. Unless, of course, my visual imagination took over and I compensated with internal stimulation. I wonder if Caryn, my friend who became blind as a child, has the capacity to visually self-stimulate?

My wise mother-in-law, NR, once commented, “just look between the dirt spots, dear” when I complained that the view from the picture window in our newly renovated farmhouse was obscured because I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning. Is that how to enjoy and accept life on its own terms? Just look between the dirt spots? I think I try doing that an awful lot, and forget that one can turn and look in a different direction, find a different view altogether to appreciate. But no matter how intriguing the other views from the veranda are, the view I want to be absorbing, engaging with, is the long vista to the sea, the open sky, and the island of Naxos. That’s the compelling view and the one I can’t have the way I want. In this house from this veranda, it comes with ugliness. And that means that I will go inside more often and have no place to look but inward. And that’s what I want, anyway. Though I wish I had both.

I skyped with JFB in Israel yesterday and cried “I don’t know how to be a mother-in-law” when we got talking about the status change that will occur in 8 months. My daughter-in-law is pregnant and will make me a grandmother at the end of May 2016. Already, I’m starting to prepare and have, albeit ignorant of the reason, empathically gained weight, thus rendering my figure more matronly. And with that pesky foot injury, that Plantar Fasciitis (from now on, I shall refer to it as Plantar The Fascist), I am slowed to grandmotherly speed and distance. I will continue to walk, though. I don’t care if it means I am injuring myself further. I’ve rested it enough, and resting appears not to be especially restorative. If you, the reader, have any viable suggestions, do let me know. Forget about sending referrals for healing professionals, please, unless the healer can work from a distance or are here, in Paros. 

(Now, isn’t that a clever way to lure you, the reader, into communicating with me? But the need is sincere, I assure you).

In any case, JFB answered that I will be a wonderful grandmother, and mother-in-law, too. Especially if I can be honest and speak my confusion. I don’t know when will be a good time for a grandmotherly visit with the new one, and I live so far away and travel-planning is complicated. It would be nice to have prior information about when I would be welcome. But she doesn’t know yet, of course. She’s never had a baby and doesn’t know how she’ll feel, doesn’t know what to expect. And she won’t know until the time comes. One idea I have is to arrive at the end of her three month maternity leave and provide child care for a month or so when she returns to work. Make it an easier transition for her, knowing that her baby is with a loving grandma and not just a nice stranger. I’ll have to run it by her sometime.  And expect no answer until the time arrives. Is everything in life about letting go?

Hello to Paros Greece. Goodbye for now to Madison WI

Hello to Paros Greece. Goodbye for now to Madison WI

Olbrich Park beach. end of September
Olbrich Park beach. end of September
Madison Wi Capitol at night
Lake Monona, a few blocks from my condo
I’ve packed my large suitcase and most all of my carry-on case, and don’t have enough room unless I want to pack a second bag. Which I might do. It would give me the excuse to purchase much lighter-weight luggage, and, with the diminishing luggage allowances provided by the airlines, is an item of which I am sorely in need. Especially with this budget-priced Norwegian Airlines flight that allows only 20 kg which equals a mere 44 lbs, six pounds less than I’ve become accustomed to packing. I had to take out bags of dog treats, chia seeds, and bulk steel cut oats to reduce to the permissible weight. I still don’t have Molly’s dog food packed.

Reading May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude inspires me to write a blog. I have the feeling that she was writing her Journal with every intention of publishing it, writing with a reader in mind. It reminds me of the way some bloggers write. And the way I like to write. I’d love to know whether or not she edited the Journal, either by simply cutting the entries she didn’t particularly want to share for any reason, including the quality of the writing, or whether she edited each day as she wrote and then that was that, at the end of the day, she’d move on to the next one, the next day, or skip days because she’s polishing the prior day or because she’s distracted with other stuff or traveling or tired or visitors have disrupted her routine. But I can’t imagine that she would reshape the whole thing, moving parts around or assigning different chronologies to events and entries. That would somehow turn it into “story” or fiction, even creative non-fiction, rather than journal or blog. No overarching scheme or theme. Except Solitude, and that’s the theme I want for my blog. Because that’s what I experienced last year, despite my classes and volunteer and social activities. Solitude. And I loved it.

I want to keep in touch with my many friends, especially, I will admit, with my encouraging and best readers, the friends and family who like the way I create–my artwork and rocks and word-smithery. This blog will be a prequel to an effort to get my creations out to a larger audience, but for now, the only audience I want is a friendly and encouraging one. “How can I demonstrate my support and friendliness?” you may be wondering. One way is to leave a comment. Comments about what resonates with you, moves you, delights, intrigues, surprises, mystifies or in any other way engages you with what you come across here on this blog are what I crave and would find friendly. Comments about what you’d like to read or see more of are encouraging. Telling me what you don’t like or what doesn’t work is not what I need or want at this stage. Thanks. Maybe later.

I have this idea that I might even post YouTube segments here and again, when I want to try out some comedy. That might be another way to stay connected.

There are so many people with whom I want to stay connected. I’ve been told by one of them that I have “a great capacity for friendship.” She’s a woman I trust and love and can always count on for insight. She’s a wise person, and has been ever since I’ve known her, well before she aged into her wisdom years. We follow each other on Facebook, so we’ve been able to stay connected that way, along with once or twice getting together in the summer when I return to Madison briefly, except for last year when she broke both of her ankles (you know who you are). That’s another thing. If you’re reading this, you’re someone I’ve invited to follow my blog, and you’re checking it out. And you’re my friend. You may feature in an anecdote or conversation I write about. If that’s the case, how do you want me to refer to you? By name? Initials? Or as a random letter of the alphabet?  I don’t want to out you and will be discreet but I noticed that May Sarton refers to her friends, acquaintances, lovers, neighbors in a variety of ways. Sometimes  by full name, sometimes only the first name, or initials or a random letter of the alphabet. I would like to have your permission and direction. Feel free to send me a private message, or, if you don’t mind being named in this blog, comment publicly (with friendliness and encouragement, of course).

Much love to everyone. This blog is being composed today on September 20, a few days before leaving for NYC and then Greece. The challenging part will be to set up the blog. The tech stuff. Maybe one of you will be able to ease me through it with a few tips. But more challenging is to overcome my fear of exposing myself. That’s the hardest part of publishing the blog. Am I too self-absorbed? Narcissistic? Uninteresting? That’s my fear. And that’s why it may take a while for me to post these pieces I’m writing. But somehow, I know that doing so is a critical step for me as an author, not just a writer. BTW, if you’d like to read my first and, as yet, only, piece of fiction published, here’s the link to “The Corruption of Mrs. Eisner.”

Thanks for staying with me! Hava

why should you read this blog?

About a year ago, when I began this particular journey, I thought I’d start a blog. It   would be insightful, educational, inspiring, and humorous– laugh-out-loud funny.  Friendly, helpful essays about life as perceived through the lens of my personal experiences and reflections. In addition, I thought I might throw in fascinating tidbits gleaned from the context of a somewhat anti-Semitic American Jew newly arrived in Israel for a two year sabbatical. I knew there was an inner author crouching  within me, and this was her golden opportunity to spring forth, full-blown and unexpurgated.

A reasonable expectation, don’t you think?

More than a year has dripped through the hourglass and only now, (today, because I am going to post this today, I swear to G!d and today’s date is Oct. 11, 2009) am I composing the first entry.  If you’re reading these words,  and you are, I have successfully overcome one of my deeply rooted fears of exposing my shameful imperfections. That can only happen because I know that no one, not even you, will end up reading my blog because the web is crowded with better, easily accessible blogs and other much more interesting material and people like you and me will never even stumble upon my pompous, self-serving essays, so it’s highly unlikely that anyone will ever be exposed to my exposed parts. At least, not here, on my blog. Not unless I at least let others know that it exists. 

Of course, an author is only an author when people read what he writes . Otherwise, she’s just a writer. And the button at the bottom of this box in which I’m composing my first post doesn’t say publish for no reason. So really, I’m truly glad that you’re still with me, and I hope you tell everyone you know that I kick ass and send them my link and eventually, like, maybe January, or at the latest, March of 2010 I’ll have quite a cult following and it won’t be long until I’m rich famous and have a boyfriend who enjoys my company.

I know, I know; that’s a lot for me to expect from you, but I have every confidence in your ability to reach my goals. So, to answer the question posed by the heading on this post, that’s why you should read this blog.