An Exercise in Vulnerability

I swing back and forth. Mostly I am tickled with delight or excitedly nervous, but between this and that thought, I freeze momentarily in terror.

I am putting up my first solo show of poetry and paintings.

This is a dream come true. And hopefully the first show of a lifetime of sharing art.

It is also an exercise in vulnerability. My paintings and drawings will be on the walls, as will my words, carefully pieced together. On the opening night, I will pick up a mic and read to whoever has gathered.

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Last year I vowed I would make more time for my art – between the adventures of running operations for a social business, teaching classes at the barre and telling stories to Filipino children affected by the destructive typhoons.

While traveling in September, after a caffeinated wave of inspiration, I decided I would go for it.

This is me going for it.

Friends tell me I am brave for doing this. And though that strengthens my heart, it is also when I hear those words that I remember to be scared.

Christmas Eve

I think I’ve felt it more this year than any other year – the cheery distractions of society’s Christmas traditions. The world points us to every other thing during the season – even good and beautiful things – to take our minds off the moment in history that started it all. God’s bold move to change the fate of the broken spirit.
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It’s been hard to find a moment to think and reflect this holiday season. There is visitor after visitor, friend after friend, task after task, deadline after deadline, Christmas tradition after Christmas tradition that must be attended to.

This happens every year. And although I had made all the preparations to make my Christmas season as warm and bright as possible – an (almost) only Christmas music diet this whole month, decorating my very own little Christmas tree for my first apartment, hosting a holiday party, among other things – all these welcomed the Christmas spirit, but distracted me from sitting by the manger, eyes on the little Baby who would mend all the broken hearts of this world with Life. That’s where my Christmas warmth and light comes from.

Earlier this advent season, I opened up a large book sitting among my coffee table books – a hard bound collection of poetry, bought a long time ago at a second had bookstore. In its pages I found a Christmas poem that struck me, one I have read and re-read over the past few days to reflect on the light of the advent season. May it also lead you back to your Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas!!!

 

Nativity

California: Five Things That Inspired During this Vacation

On the first day, I couldn’t even remember what it was supposed to feel like.

Slow mornings. No pressure to look at my inbox. A completely reconstructed to-do list (containing names of people to see and coffee shops to visit). Vacation.

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I’ve been wanting to plan a creative sabbatical, a clean and generous slice of time just for my art. I’ve been dreaming of one for over a year now. My normal life schedule is full, one thing rolling into another, mornings of Paper Project spreadsheets into a train of Plana Forma classes to teach until closing time. Weekends for the kids of Buhay Makulay. The best I could do was an hour or two of ink drawing on the rare free Saturday.

But thanks to friends being wed, a vacation was set, and I think the creative sabbatical found me.

Here are five things that have been inspiring me creatively while on this trip:

1. Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate.
Flying Goat Coffee. Melange Market. Peet’s Coffee. Saint Frank Coffee. Coupa Cafe. Cafe by the Green Library. Alegio. Beacon Coffee and Pantry. Philz Coffee. Sightglass Coffee. Réveille Coffee Co. Station. Blue Bottle Coffee. And everything homemade in between. Yes, there’s been a lot of coffee shop time!

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2. Wandering.
Magical moments come to you when you don’t try to look for them.

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3. Being a student in a class, not a teacher.
It’s good to take a break from teaching – good for the soul, healthy for the ego.

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4. Old friends / new friends.
Reconnecting with friends from years ago and dreams ago, help re-ignite dreams on pause. New friends remind you how much of the world you forgot you were longing to meet. I’ve had a great balance of both.

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5. Different views, different air.
Sorry, Manila, I love you dearly, but a break from your stoplights, standstill traffic, scary swervers, humidity and heavy pollution was much needed for a short bit of time.

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Hello, California. You’ve been good to me. And you’ve been good to my friends. Thank you for giving me room to be.

Truth Thursdays: What’s in Your Hand?

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And just in case you cannot read my handwriting:

What’s in Your Hand?

I’ve got a lot
of things on my mind.
But in my hand,
in the very palm of my hand,
I’ve just a few:

A pen. Some
sheets of loose paper.
A pulse.

Your hands are never
the first thing I notice.
But mine have allowed
me to tell my story.

They are not the heart
of my story,

they are my storytellers.

I like to write with
pen and paper.
Ideas get to move beyond
lines of type or
a page break. I make a map
similar to the way my thoughts
traverse my mind. I get
to draw.

And the things I
cannot write
or cannot draw,
these I dance.
First in my heart,

then,
outward bound with pushing pulse,
with the movement of my hands, I
punctuate.

The most articulate in motion,
are these hands, more
than point of foot
or shrug of shoulder.
more than swirl of hip,
or lift of chest;
my fingers sweep a storyboard, they sweep
emotion. They cover your eyes,
and with their touch you still
see how I
feel.

-Tanya Aritao

More about Truth Thursdays? Or more about this prompt.

World Poetry Day? Oh happy World Poetry Day!

Apparently today is World Poetry Day. (Thanks UNESCO!)

In celebration, I’d like to share two poems from two recent additions to my (finally) growing collection of poetry books. These I snagged during precious T-time, during my very recent trips (just got back last week!) to New York and San Francisco. I was out for a walk on both occasions and stumbled upon these two treasures, both second hand, which I (and my wallet) love.

When I have more than a moment to spare, I will write more about the story of stumbling upon the books, both on memorable days during my trip. But for now, I will share the poetry of two of my favorite poets.

According to UNESCO, “this Day is meant to support poetry, return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, promote teaching poetry, restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music, painting and so on, support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art but one.”

Now that, I wholeheartedly support.

So read a poem out loud today. Or find one to listen to or read online. There are many.

Or take a poem, and let it inspire you to do something else – paint, draw, dance, smile, travel, sing, or stare into a farther distance than your computer screen.

Or simply take a poem. Take one.

 

Here are two for you. Enjoy. ❤

 

Unending Love

        -RABINDRANATH TAGORE
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age-old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

 

 

Silence

by Billy Collins

Now it is time to say what you have to say.
The room is quiet.
The whirring fan has been unplugged,
and the girl who was tapping
a pencil on her desktop has been removed.

So tell us what is on your mind.
We want to hear the sound of your foliage,
the unraveling of your tool kit,
your songs of loneliness,
your songs of hurt.

The trains are motionless on the tracks,
the ships are at rest in the harbor.
The dogs are cocking their heads
and the gods are peering down from their balloons.
The town is hushed,

and everyone here has a copy.
So tell us about your parents—
your father behind the steering wheel,
your cruel mother at the sink.
Let’s hear about all the clouds you saw, all the trees.

Read the poem you brought with you tonight.
The ocean has stopped sloshing around,
and even Beethoven
is sitting up in his deathbed,
his cold hearing horn inserted in one ear.