the way of pain

10 12 2010

the way of pain


to accept this path is



the way it leaves you




and as vulnerable as shelled and broken pale baby birds,

bit by bit coercing unspoken or unidentified truths that

slip out through the cracks

the breaks

at times so frightening they steel and steal your breath


to accept this journey stipulates and extracts truth,

what was, is, and will be

your truth—

sometimes with methods as brutally pointed as an interrogator

of whom you see nothing but silhouette and

of whom you hear nothing but unremitting questioning,

but sometimes


with methods as inviting as great, wide, and supple moments

between true friends—

which then gradually softens the jagged edges and works with tenderness

at piecing them

piecing you

together in the cushioned nest of acuity





the experience of pain, that great shaman,

the same truth

that tempers you pang by agonizing pang

and aches deeper than a dehydrated tongue in the sweltering summer Sahara

and gapes around inside until you feel

the other side of the universe siphoned into your belly,



becomes an experience of love

deliberately conjuring up an authenticity—

your very own strong, expansive, ample, beautiful wings—


(like the intelligence of blood that both leaks and stops itself from leaking)

is the very thing that fuses and welds and melds you together again


cohesion is its final relinquishment

a gift of you

to you


to accept the way of pain—the eminent truth disperser and dispenser—is


but so it is to fly


—Kiri Manookin, December 2010



two senses about my kids

29 09 2010

As unusual as it might sound, it’s the smell of my children that I anticipate.

To say that I have hit the point in my life and my body where I am aware of my biological clock would be a true and surprising statement. Surprising, at least, to me since I never anticipated being aware of the speed and loss of time without already having children. But, well, such is life…but I ain’t dead or dried up yet.

I have always had a sense about my children, even just moments when I’m sure that they already exist in one way or another. I have always loved kids and wanted my own (though the older I get, the more I become aware of just how much you can’t take back a decision to have them—one reason why it might be better to have kids while you’re young—and if you try to take it back you just end up hurting the children, yourself, and everyone around you…which just makes me appreciate the decision to have them in the first place).

Still, sometime, I want them.

The experimental/scientific side of me wants to see just what my genes can produce when mixed with another person’s. The human side of me wants to see the beauty and goodness and talent and flesh and soul that my body can give. The spiritual side wants to give flesh to another spirit and to love and be loved and to teach and be taught by the education and wisdom involved in navigating that flesh.

Right now, though, I really just want to smell them, even the stank of them, if necessary. I want to smell the sun on their skin and hair, when they’ve been playing hard, when they’re sleeping, after a bath, at breakfast, or after school.

And when they’re older and around friends, I’ll try and keep the sniffing to a minimum.

the honor of Mercy

29 09 2010

The past few weeks have shown me that 1) when pushed hard enough I seem to have the temper of a red-headed Irish spitfire, 2) some law enforcement need more real crime to keep them busy (calling all criminals!), and 3) sometimes life just isn’t fair. But 4) what they have shown me most of all is that mercy is (and I know of no better way to say this) a discerning, exquisite, and transformative gift.

Justice, as he is called, is a punctilious sort of fellow who respects truth and rightness but who, like a dog that chases its tail, can end up spinning round and round–and sometimes with as little regard as the dog has for what’s around him. “An eye for an eye makes the world blind,” Mahatma Ghandi rightly stated about the consequence of Justice’s mantra. Justice is, already, blind to circumstance, effort, or intention. He has no room for ambiguity and cannot fully stay balanced. When alone, Justice is rickety, standing on the knife-edge of law, where one misstep or one slip may result in harm, or at least the severe declaration of being outside the law and therefore wide open for Punishment to come in and bop you on the head or to sometimes even push you when you are already down. Or worse, compel you to then exact some nitty-gritty justice of your own from someone else. Justice alone cannot rule the world without eventually–as the tail-chasing dog–catching his own tail and gnawing away, self-consuming.

Enter Mercy.

When a law or regulation is broken and Justice hurls himself in like an immobile bouncer on a nightmare boomerang, and when effort is made to restore what was lost and Mercy invited (she does not have to come, after all), she enters like a wise and poised jaguar on the fluidity of a sigh, dangerous only in the sense that she both dismantles and reconstructs at once: disassembling defenses and grudges, and constructing a more sagacious path for precariously perched and perennial Justice. Mercy elucidates, clarifying and siphoning understanding and compassion from what seem like depth-less and impossible wells. Like a water diviner in the parched and unforgiving desert ground, Mercy summons wisdom and taps it, ending the ever-devouring thirst of Justice and stilling his circular and sometimes blinding run. Shifting the center and determining real balance.

Mercy in all her exhales (Compassion, Kindness, Understanding, Courtesy) has the dexterity to calm the spirit, clarify the path of Justice, and–most impressively–motivate the upset heart to fully respect and befriend Justice.

So the next time you are offered a little Courtesy or Understanding, or you are shown Kindness and Mercy, even when Justice claims “No Visitors,” remember that to receive any of them is an honor and a gift, the likes of which without make the solo world of Justice seem, to me, miserably vindicatory and intolerable. Or the next time you are given a chance to channel any whisper of Mercy to another, allow her through without hesitation because Mercy will be, for everyone, a gift of such consummate honor.

favorite things

9 06 2010

some of my favorite things lately (in no particular order):

  • that i was one of the first people my three-year-old niece wanted to invite to a BBQ at her house a couple days ago and that she called to invite me, and that we rode around the yard on a four-wheeler together
  • eating a delicious lunch of rice and a turkey and veggie combo with a perfectly ripe avocado on top outside in the sun and watching a fat green worm crawl and scrunch around in a pot, then walking back to work
  • orange poppies in the sunlight
  • an hour-and-a-half walk a few days ago, walking in the beautiful warm Utah sun and feeling almost as relaxed as i would walking near a beach
  • lifting weights with my brother yesterday and grunting to a finish
  • that even though i’ve always been very pale, since trying to build up my vitamin D and melanin levels in my skin by slowly and consistently being in the sun more i am actually (kind of) tanning instead of burning
  • the smell of the falling blossoms from the kiri trees in the front yard
  • my recent language classes–French, Chinese, and Italian–and the way they put smiles on my face
  • helping a Latino family that is recovering from a bad car accident
  • my new red dress
  • the logical progression of something a patient at work asked me (in Spanish): “Kiri?  Like ‘kitty’?  You have beautiful cat eyes.  Do you have a boyfriend?  Why not?”
  • that yesterday my homeopathic doctor told me my energy is like the abundant good energy of a child
  • the smell after yesterday’s rain
  • the new highlights in my hair
  • the thought/wondering that any adaptation of a species in the process of evolution might actually and ultimately be somehow driven by some level of animal or plant intelligence or whatever level of consciousness they might have as they interact with their own environments
  • great Latino fiestas and the fact that everyone–from toddlers to the elderly–gets out and dances
  • grape juice made in wine country–best enjoyed in a crystal goblet
  • that a late Mother’s Day shopping spree my sister and i took our mom on was a huge success
  • blueberries: ripe, plump, and sweet
  • being asked by a musician friend from college to write for a new online music magazine because (obviously) i’m a musician and, i quote, “You always seemed to have something to say.”
  • watching lightning dance in distant colorful clouds at sunset a few nights ago
  • that in less than two weeks i’ll be enjoying the lushest land i’ve ever seen…in Europe…trying to speak Italian and eating fresh cinnamon and/or pear gelato (but not together)

cinco de mayo

13 05 2010

The greatest thing I heard at work yesterday: A Spanish-speaking woman, with whom I had talked earlier in the day when she was making an appointment, brought her child in and when she saw me she asked if I had been the one she had talked to, and when I said yes she said she couldn’t believe I was American, that on the phone she never even thought she wasn’t actually speaking to a native Spanish-speaker.  It completely made my day!


Cinco de mayo

I was mad.  It was my day off and my plans had suddenly been changed by my mom.  I was unshowered, still a bit sleepy-eyed, and at the gas station pumping just enough gasoline for their lawnmower that I had already thrown a rib out trying to start that morning so I could mow my parents’ lawn.  Grumpy.

Then I saw her.  I might as well call her a kindred soul or mentor or angel en vivo or something like that.  We’re a generation apart, but the moment I heard her open her mouth and made a comment at a church meeting, I knew we’d get along and be friends.  We embraced, I told her she had caught me a bit grumpy and unshowered, and then we started chatting about some of the plans I have rolling around in my head.  Then half-joking I admitted I sometimes feel a bit stupid here having no property, children, husband, and not even a dog or cat.

There are times at work or church–especially now at church since I have new responsibilities, one of which is attending the Spanish ward service–but there are times at both when I look at moms with their kids and think how easily our situations could switch and I could be the hip mom caring for beautiful kids.  I could be half of the beautiful couple that comes in with the beautiful new baby.  Other times I’m perfectly content that I’m not the obese, haggard mom dragging six screaming kids behind her, four of whom have ADHD, and another one on the way, yelling at them to stop climbing on everything or stop whining.  I’m totally fine not exchanging situations with that mom.   Happy where I am, thanks!  But then in a conversation with someone I’ve just met at church or at work, I have to field question after question about my marital status, or lack thereof: am I married, do I have any children, don’t I want to get married, why am I not married, why am I not married to a nice Latino boy, why am I not married to the nice Latino boy(s) I’ve dated, do I want some recommendations…and this is within the first 45 seconds of meeting someone!  Seriously, people, don’t you think that’s just a little invasive with someone whose name you don’t even remember?  So I wonder (sometimes simultaneously) how moms have gotten where they are and how I ended up here and even though I think marriage and kids can be an incredible gift (Lord knows my heart pains enough on its own without them, thank you very much) and I respect that they are rightfully the center of their lives, but can’t anyone talk about anything else even remotely interesting?  Oh, and by the way, I’m not a freak, people.

But back to my grumpy, unshowered self and my dear friend chatting at the gas station.  She stopped me in the middle of my half-joke.  “Your life is obviously not taking you in a typical direction,” she said, “but when that happens, don’t fight it.  That’s what your life is bringing you.  Accept it and go with it,” she counseled (or at least something very close to that).  And that’s what makes the extraordinary possible so be like water, I thought as I threw my arms around her and exclaimed, “I love you!  Thank you!”  Then I wondered if the unshowered part I’d mentioned earlier bothered her at all, so I let her go.

I later realized I couldn’t legitimately be grumpy for something that led me to that unexpected nugget of warmth, that agate of vision and love in a rough day.  And so I accept that my life has not moved me in a typical direction, that I have amazing opportunities that couldn’t have come otherwise, that with those opportunities come additional opportunities and other weighty things, and I accept that moving through my life right now may not bring me an oasis just yet but instead open just enough nuggets like that to give me focus and keep me going.  I accept it and offer gratitude for it.

Oh, and for the record, I mowed my parents’ lawn and I mowed it artfully.

pottery class

13 05 2010

granted: permission to suck

permission to NOT suck

the bowls

even stackable


day of prayer

13 05 2010

6 May 2010

i was so moved tonight.  at a concert celebrating a national day of prayer, songs as prayers offered by a choir filled the hall, a rousing and intelligent speech was given by Lincoln Steed about the value of religious freedom and the need for less religion in the world and more spirituality, and beautiful prayers that elicited streaming tears were offered by Christian, Navajo, Hare Krishna, and LDS leaders.  i was moved by the goodness in people and by the possibility of deeply good inclinations for others uttered in all the prayers.

religion aside, true, humble, compassionate, and sincere spiritual practice, i believe, make the world go peacefully round more than we realize.

here’s a sample of one song sung tonight:

and here’s an impressive (but slightly too-fast) version:


Even before we call on Thy name

To ask Thee, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify Thee,
Thou hearest our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know.

Glory to the father,
and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.

Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Thy name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in Thee;
Endless Thy grace, O endless Thy grace,
Beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,

whether or not a person believes in or recognizes the existence of a God, there is something so beautiful about prayer and about being in a state of prayer.  i think of it like a forum that offers us opportunities to recognize what’s under our control and just how much isn’t at all (and working ourselves to a place where we’re okay with that seeming but wise imbalance), to work our way to a state of gratitude, to recognize our own needs as well as the needs of others and to wish wonderful and healing things for us all and to be motivated to work to make those things happen.  a forum to experience layers of healing.

beautiful.  or as in Navajo, hozho.

one of my favorite prayers-as-song: