TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Abstract Photography

Springtime Reflections

Spring sunset reflections
Of a late dusk
In the twilight of life


Summer Inertia?

Am I caught in a web

like a fly in a drainpipe?

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Or is it summer inertia,

The lazy, hazy daze?

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Could it be

I have lost it totally

to a pharmaceutical lobotomy?

Or am I processing still

retreat with Mooji?

Anger is more controlled

and that is good

but creativity has taken a vacation and

kidnapped my muse leaving

no urge to make new words or pictures?

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Anxiety rules

and love flows

making me bow my head in prayer

and that is good

but what has happened to me?

I do not understand what I read

and have trouble processing

and cannot even comment.

Perhaps I am empty…


The Grace of Presence

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Oh, God,
your gentle breezes
caress my physical form.
I have been sick,
Pill sick
Mentally sick
Soul sick
for so long,
Overwhelmed by fear,
selfish concerns,
physical ills.
What has changed today?
How come today
I can see beyond the self
To the Self?
Is it so mundane
as to be due to a coolness waft of air?
Or is it a taste of infinity?
A wormhole to your realm?
An undeserved dollop of grace?
You are inside always
and yet so often I cannot feel you
at all!
And I lapse into despondency,
anxiety,
preoccupation with the self,
the person,
the ego.
Why today can I see Thee
In the galaxy of stars within?
Why today?
How can I keep this view
Of you?
Despite problems, illness,
please take me over,
please let me see
Thee daily within.
Please let me love you
and all who live
with wild abandon
and the diamond dazzle of compassion,
without restraint.
Tears cleanse
make amends
for my many sins,
Oh, Zephyr of air,
wafting with the perfume
of the Divine
that permeates
all.
Please stay
forever in my heart,
and blow away
fears and tears
and usurp
the self forever!


Coming Unglued

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Homage to Wolf Kahn


“My Eyes are Leaking”

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The world a watery blur

one less source of joy and laughter

on this ailing earth

a delight to so many

in so many ways

“My eyes are leaking”

(Robin Williams as the alien on “Mork and Mindy”)


Nothing Changes/All is Flux

 

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Objects seem solid
yet
are made up of
wriggling strings
an optical delusion
in the dream
of Maya
3000 years ago
the Rishis said that
the world of forms
was all mind stuff
Maya
In the 20 the century
Sir James Jeans
said the universe
consists of pure thought
each thing a moving,
ever changing manifestation
of the life force
One unity
there are no boundaries

A Universe of Patterns

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A tuning fork
when applied to sand
creates patterns
like those of snowflakes
crystals
water droplets
or larger patterns
of mountains
deserts
lakes
the surface of the moon
What patterns
does the sound of the mantra
create on
the canvas of our minds
in meditation

Starlight, Starbright

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Starlight through the skylight
Moonlight just above the roof
Fireflies flickering flames
Random to our eyes
In a dizzying mercurial display
Flitting to the tune
Of trilling frogs
And the flutter of batwings
I see goblins in the windows
Alone would be terrified
With you here beatified
By the beauty of the silence
Punctuated by the frogs
Spotlighted by the moon
And the sparkling stars
Whose dust makes up
These rented bodies we carry
While inside heartbeats
Tick away our lives
To the beat of a flashing firefly
Or a flickering star.


Chi flows, Wind Blows

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Wind blows

through tree tops

bird song

wafts in breeze

flying

dead branches

fine perches

dragonfly on leg

don’t move

admire

just be

like tree

see chi

in air

spark-like

specks

tiny lights

Chi flows

wind blows


Starburst

 

“Dear ones, the light of God is moving through me this day… I am in His sea of Light, in that eternal land.  Wherever I am, in this life or beyond, I am always roaming in that eternity.  I want you to come there also, for you are my brothers an sisters and I cannot bear to see you left in delusion.” 

Paramahansa Yogananda


Beyond the Stars

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Sitting in the sun, acclimating to the gentle June heat, swatting away an annoysome fly who keeps returning over and over, I know this swatting is definitely wrong—a stirring of the killer instinct. I remember naturalist artist and writer and turtle man, David M. Carroll, keeping his hand steady, while being bitten by hordes of mosquitoes,  so as not to scare away the turtles as he paints them . Clearly he is a superior soul in his patient endurance of being bitten and as his, almost spiritual, beautifully poetic, writings and drawings reveal. I remember, too, the words of Pema Chodron, Buddhist teacher and nun, who teaches and preaches practicing compassion on little things, learning not to “bite the hook” of anger.

So I let the fly alight on my ankle and he seemingly happily stays on my leg and does not bite. I begin to try to image feeling kinship with this fly who likes my leg, fighting the idea that he is laying eggs in my skin. Pema Chodron has clearly inspired a city girl, afeared of bugs, to make friends with a fly as I watch the universe of insects beneath my feet. A Daddy Long legs crawls on my camera bag, hitches a ride to our bed when I go inside the house. I bring him back to his home outside.

This compassion things feels right, start small and grow big. As if to reinforce this point a butterfly lands on my chest when I return to my contemplation spot in our back yard. But all is not sweetness and light. Later the same fly (I swear it is) who landed on my leg now activates karma for my earlier murderous impulses towards him. He lands on my toe and bites me. A cautionary tale against getting too carried away with being virtuous. Still worse, later as I walk in the coolness of early evening, a bug lands on my arm and attempts a vigorous bite.   In an instant, a reflexive smack smooches him dead.

So it would seem I have to start even smaller with my acts of compassion. How much smaller can one start? I wonder with daunting discouragement about the many, many more lives I will have to live to learn lessons of compassion and no anger. I contemplate the prospect of how many, many more films I will have to view in this movie house of Maya we call life. When, oh when, will I learn all my lessons? When, oh, when, will the sun set for good for me on this circle of life so I can exit the orbit and rest beyond the stars??


Where Earth Meets Sky

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Oh Light,

so dazzled am I

by your majesty

so inebriated

by your heady spirits

I cannot tell

where earth meets

the realm of Your Infinity.


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Homage to Rothko no. 2

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Homage to Monet

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Sky

instead of water lilies

no words, clouded mind


Maya in Nature and the Nature of Maya

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If one looks at nature abstractly, one can see it is made up of line, color and form. Plato spoke of “form“. And Indian philosophy talks of Maya, the consensual reality that is a dream of our mortal bodies.  Yogananda warns us not to get caught up in Maya and how easy it is to see it as real.
My photograph is a homage to the Abstract Expressionist artist, Mark Rothko, a hero of sorts for me.  He was reaching for spirituality, too, but did not follow Hindu thought.  However, in his paintings, which I try to  emulate in photography, one can see color, shape and form. This is a step away from the dream of life or “Maya” and a step towards the spiritual.
Next time, when looking at nature, try looking beyond the scene to the formal elements, and see how the dream of life is a delusion in which our minds spend most of their time.

On Finally Seeing Maya

A fragmentation of reality

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A major psychotic break

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The other day I wrote a poem, Point of View, about having a psychotic break recently.  Well, the break was a very slight one.  Perhaps many people thought I was just being poetic.  It reminded me of a time when I was being prepped for a surgery and the surgeon asking me about the medications I take.  When asked why I took Thiothixene, an anti-psychotic, I told him that I was Bipolar.  He said, “I think we are all Bipolar.”  Maybe it was an effort to relate to me but it hit me in a “sore spot.”  Everyone has moods, it is true, but being Bipolar is not just being “moody.”  If we who are Bipolar have to endure the stigma of mental illness, at least allow that it is different from being “normal,” and not just some self-indulgent form of self-pity.  So braving the stigma of it all, for I am sure many will stop reading here if they have not already, it seems incumbent on me to educate people.  Bipolar Disorder is a major axis 1 mental illness characterized by extreme highs and lows.  It is one of the most risky mental illness diagnoses because people can die from it.  They suicide during a low.  In Bipolar 1 the sufferer can become manic and while manic, and even while despressed, can become psychotic.  Normal people do not become psychotic except perhaps in their dreams.  Being psychotic means a major break with reality.  It means entering another world that most don’t even know exists.  So, no, we are not all Bipolar.

And, yes, people have fractured views of reality.  But some views are more fractured than others.  There is another “reality” in psychosis.  This other reality exists when one is psychotic. What interests me is that different people who are psychotic have similar experiences, making me think there really IS another reality that is floating around out there.  In this other reality the TV and radio can give you messages directly relevant to your life– so relevant that one begins to think there is some mind-monitoring device in your TV or radio.  And the AC has a microphone that allows you to talk to the world outside one’s window, to the people in the street, and they respond to your commands.  When one has the nerve to venture outside of one’s apartment, a cacaphony of voices tells you positive or negative things.  People (I thought of them as teachers and/or psychics) do not come up to you and speak to you directly for they know you could not handle that.  Rather they speak loudly to one another about your behavior so you can’t help but overhear.  If they are pleased with your behavior at the time, the comments are your reward for getting well.  If they are displeased, criticism comes from everywhere.  There is nowhere to hide the shame you feel because negative feedback is coming at you from every direction.  Then life becomes a hell that does not disappear when you go back home, because you can still hear the voices next door or in the street.  That is just one down side of this other “reality.”  Everything has self-referential meaning.  You are either hearing voices that don’t exist, or you are one step away from that because the voices you hear are actually real, saying real things, but those things all have meaning for you and you alone.  There is no safe place.  No escape.  No privacy.  I was living in an apartment at the time.  How much worse is it to be living in a shelter, hospital, prison or, worse on the street where one is overwhelmed with every kind of stimuli possible!

Synchronicity is everywhere. This is, I suppose, a lower from of altered consciousness. Life alternates between heaven and hell.  That is what I meant by a fragmented view of reality in my poem, Point of View.  One wonders if there is some divine intervention in these states because of the ubiquitousness of synchronicity.  Is this another take on discerning Maya?  I often lament to my husband that I cannot see the world as a dream or Maya and I feel so utterly unenlightened.  And yet, how foolish I am, for many years ago I lived in another reality.  Only now can I see that “reality” IS a consensual dream or “Maya.”

(For a narrative non-fiction account of being Bipolar and Aspie, the quest for sanity and the search for love, please see: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html to purchase my book.)


Point of View

 

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It happens

every now and again

a psychotic break

reality blurred

thinking slurred

torrents of

uncried tears

MAJOR fears

choked inside

unable to open the door

to walk in the sun

or talk to someone

and then…

it passes

at least for this time

fractured mind

heals

and I emerge

purged

of demons

shaken but

crawling back

out of the dark

blinded by light

laden with guilt

over is it

unjustified anger

and justified hurts

or justified anger

and unjustified hurts

or no justification

just endless conflation

of swirls of emotion

that feed the

desire to die

I come

creeping back

confused lack

of any cohesion

into the world

of  “reality”

or Maya

depending on

one’s point of view.


Bedazzled

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“Sound and light affect our consciousness, for we (like them) are composed of vibrations.”

Paramahansa Yogananda

Beware the enticements of worldliness

lest it lead you to the frazzle of despair.

Look behind the Light of nature,

and let the eyes be

 bedazzled by the Beauty

of God hiding there.


Happy New Year!

Wishing each and everyone of you a New Year full of blessings of love, peace and health! 

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Beings of Light

In this month of darkness, in this the darkest month, the light of the human spirit shines forth in so many– in so many ways.  As the days grow shorter, houses and trees are decorated, and snow falls.  In the hushed silence of the nights, lights shine in windows, and whisper in the darkness.  For this season of giving brings the festivals of lights: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and in the Fall, Diwali.  Each tradition incorporates light in its ceremonies and decorations.

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A neighbor-friend of mine who lives down the road, a donkey in his stable, reminds me of the story of another manger two thousand years ago.  And seeing him snug in his stable with snow on the ground gives the illusion that all is right in the world.  But all is not well.  Far, far too many know no peace in any season.  Far, far too many live in poverty.  Far, far too many suffer the effects of the new mammoth storms.

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We who live closer to the land are so blessed to share our lives with animals.  These creatures are constant reminders of humility and simplicity in this rapid, complex, multi-tasking world.  We drive around on a December night and see houses covered in lights with illuminated trees, houses warmed by fires, and imagine them filled with laughter and conversation and love.  We are blessed to have so much, when so many have so little.  Blessed to be able to celebrate our religious beliefs as we wish, when others cannot.  Yet even in the worst of conditions the strength of the human spirit is indomitable.

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In December’s darkness we light lights.  In truth, we are beings of light.  A light glows within each one of us.  And, at the most basic level, we are beings of light for we are made of stardust.  Perhaps that is why the stars hold such majesty for us—stars compose our bodies within, and, without, our skies sing with stars the hymns of the Heavens.

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Einstein said: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe”– a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  We are all cut from the same cloth and our inner light is one.

And in this holiday season we behold the night sky as shepherds did two thousand years ago on the birth of the holy infant, in a stable.  That night a star lit the whole sky to guide the shepherds.  And, in 165 BCE, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated and with the miracle of the ritual oil, the light burned for eight nights.

On these deep, long, silent nights as we light our houses, our candles, our Menorahs, our trees, let us look inside ourselves and find the glow that unites us and will guide us to the Everlasting Light.

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The Spiders’ Secret

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A chill wind blows the yellowing leaves off the trees. They drift down to the ground like giant snowflakes. The air is pregnant with the feel of the coming holidays. Fall has truly come, with the sudden drop in temperatures, a full 10-20 degrees cooler than a few weeks ago. This is the real Fall, no faltering Fall, but a Fall that will guide us appropriately into winter. November appears as a mirror image of March with its vibrant color of decay, while March is the decaying color of about-to-burst-forth Spring.

The birds are at the bird feeder all the time now. They are not stopped by our presence when we come to fill the feeder or blow leaves under it. Nothing stops them. They swoop around the feeder and the surrounding trees like Kamikaze pilots, darting here and there recklessly. The squirrels are in a frenzy as well, stock piling acorns and walnuts which they will retrieve without fail in a month or so in a snow-covered land.

To me, the trees are most beautiful at this time of year, when many of them are bare and a scattering of leaves remain on dark brown branches. The leaves that remain quiver daintily in their precarious positions on the tree limbs. Yet these are the survivors. The other leaves have fallen and gone the way all living things eventually go. Most trees have lost all their leaves and they stand in stark contrast against the blue sky, the stormy sky, the grey sky.  But I find them most beautiful against the night sky, with arms reaching up to the darkness, trying to touch the stars twinkling between the branches, as moonlight dances on their limbs.

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November holds the last glimmer of color. A carpet of yellow lines the woods now– and one can see inside the woods that are so dark and impenetrable in summer. Some forests have carpets of oak leaves– dark brown tan in color. Others are paved with variegated colors– vibrant crimsons against yellows and faded greens and tawny tans. The un-mown lawns are now taken over by the spiders covering the fields.  At precious moments, one can see a world of webs that only appears in a certain slant of sunlight and reveal a silent take-over by the spiders in webs that sparkle secretly, mirroring the infinite web of creation.

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The yellow, brown, and crimson leaves are complemented by the ubiquitous yellow, brown and crimson mums that appear on the roadside near mail boxes, on porches or along driveways. These tough little flowers withstand frosty chills and stand tall throughout most of November– hearty, generous souls, so giving in their colorful, velvety splendor.

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Halloween pumpkins begin to sag a bit or shine with wetness as if encased in glass. They will soon be tossed– pine combs, wreaths and fir swags to take their places, and the season of lights will begin. Anticipation hangs in the air. Autumn seems the fastest season to come and go. I try treasuring each moment, but the minute/hours/days just sift through my fingers like so many grains of sand. Then Christmas/Hanukkah comes and fades in a flash and we are into the Nor’Easter blizzards of January. Another year is gone and a new one has come. Would that we could be in forever in the season of love, but it is also a season of loneliness and loss and darkness. It is good we are defenseless against time.

Now, at Thanksgiving, it is our time to give thanks. Inspired by the Native Americans, let us thank the earth. Let us give thanks to the trees for their constantly changing beauty, to the stars for their piercing presence in the night sky, to the leaves for their inspiring colors, to the sun for its life-giving power.  Let us thank the Spring for its awakening hope, the Summer for its warm, thriving growth, the Fall for its beauteous bounty, to the Winter for a time of renewal.  Let us thank the soon-to-come snow for its hushed, white silence that transforms our world, to all the animals for their pure souls, to our families and friends for their precious love, and, lastly, but mostly, to the Higher Power of our belief for the macrocosm of creation.

Happy Thanksgiving and may you each be blessed with the all-embracing, pervasive, pulsating Love in Nature.


An Overdue Thank You!

DSCN1840_edited-2“Love cannot be had for the asking; it comes only as a gift from the heart of another”

~ Paramahansa Yogananda

And so I am sending my love to you whoever YOU are reading this right this moment.   More than a year has gone by that I have had this blog and I am only just now thanking you all for reading my posts.  If they have touched you I am grateful.  And I am grateful for all the “likes” and comments– but mostly for just reading my thoughts.  It is humbling.  Indeed this whole process has been humbling.  Not in the way one might expect, reading other people’s blogs and  finding people far more talented in writing, photography and painting, though that is certainly the case.  I was and am humbled by finding people who have a closer relationship to God, more faith than I probably ever will know.  I am humbled by finding people who are more giving than I, despite often challenging circumstances.  I am humbled by finding people who are seriously physically ill and yet full of more courage than I will ever feel- people who are handicapped and in pain yet vibrant and alive and more full of beauteous poetry, song, art.  I have found poets, healers, shamans, photographers, writers, artists, philosophers, teachers, animal activists, homeless advocates, and preachers.  I would list the people but I don’t want to cause embarrassment or an invasion of privacy.  You know who you are.  We have exchanged words.

I started this blog to showcase my book on how I found love despite being Bipolar and having  Asperger’s— it was written to offer hope to those who are loveless and have given up on finding the right someone.  But this blog took on a life of its own, viewed 9,031 times with 1,301 comments.  It allowed me to showcase my photography and write about, yes, mental illness, but also animal rights and the nature and wildlife preservation, and it brought forth hundreds of poems as I prayed to God to use my fingers.  But most of all, it brought YOU into my life and in so doing enriched me.  And for that I thank you, all of you, for all of you have been great teachers in the lessons of life.


The Universe Within

 

Psychiatrist, Stanislov Grof, writes that there is such thing as cellular memory.  Not only that but he says that all the universe is encoded in some way in the sperm and ovum.  We walk around each day in our little lives unaware of the universe within.

All limited edition original photographs available in different sizes and formats.