Friday, August 31, 2007

Swimming in a Bigger Pond

My son would probably feel quite at home among Peter Pan's Lost Boys, playing games all day and never growing up. He graduated from high school in June and, not wanting to leave the nest, had applied to and been accepted into a local college. As the summer waned and the day of registration grew ever closer, he whined, "I don't want to go to college. I want to go back to high school", in a comical voice that only thinly veiled his very real fear of venturing beyond the sheltered world in which he had been nurtured. When it became obvious that, like it or not, he was going to have to step out of his comfort zone, his fear manifested itself as all manner of disagreeable behavior. He becomes quite obnoxious when faced with something he doesn't know and can't control. No attempts to convince him that he would manage just fine sufficed.

After dinner on the evening of my son's first day in college, my husband took out a bottle of champagne and offered a toast to his success. Fast forward to today. My son has met all his professors, purchased his books and gotten more than his feet wet. He's been given homework assignments and is becoming familiar with the anomaly known as academic scheduling. More importantly, he has begun to notice the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between high school and college and seems to be enjoying the experience, for which I am eternally grateful.

Today marks the end of my son's first week in college and I celebrate it as a battle won. I look forward to the bottle of champagne we will open on the day he graduates. In the meantime, I will quietly celebrate the victory of successfully launching my child into college in spite of his resistance and inwardly bemoan the loss of my little boy to the man he is fast becoming.

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and all ways,
- Gitana

Monday, August 20, 2007

Woo Hoo!!

For several months now, I've been creating handmade note cards for the purpose of channeling my artistic talents and making a few bucks on the side. Some weeks ago, I was asked by my accountant if I would design an invitation for her annual client appreciation event taking place in December. After weeks of designing, redesigning, tweaking and angst, I finally presented her with two totally different invitations, knowing that one was sure to strike her fancy. The short story: she was thrilled by one of the designs and I have made my first sale. I have been paid in full and now it is on to the production stage. With fingers and toes crossed, I press on.

You can see the chosen card above. Go to my Photobucket to see more of my greeting card work. Use the link at the top of the right hand column.

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and all ways,
- Gitana

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Of Ice Cream and Summer Walks

A friend of mine recently emailed me one of those messages intended to be forwarded to everyone you care about. I usually read and delete these emails because I frankly can't be bothered forwarding the multitude of emails of this nature that I receive. This message, however, struck a chord with me. For the sake of brevity, I will only include the first and last paragraphs of the original email. This will be sufficient.

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift...Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

How appropriate. I do make the time to enjoy life whenever possible. Life, however, doesn't always want to cooperate.

Take the other night for example. My husband and I were alone in the house and I told him to put on his shoes and walk with me. He looked at me as if I had just stepped off the mother ship from Mars.

"Walk?", he says. "Where to?"
I said, "To Utica Avenue."
"To get some ice cream."
"But we have ice cream in the freezer."
"Then we'll get some italian ices."
"You wanna walk?"
"Yes. You know, walk, as in put one foot in front of the over and move from point A to point B. You walk to the bus every day, don't you?"
"Yeah, but that's only on the corner."
"Then you can use the exercise."
"But I'm constantly climbing up and down stairs at work and..."

Well, he went on and on, trying to convince me to either stay home and eat ice cream or take the car to Utica Avenue which, by the way, is only about five blocks away from us. I would have none of it. I said I wanted to take a walk on a beautiful summer night with my husband and asked if he had a problem with it. That seemed to shut him up and he grudingly walked with me. You would have thought we were climbing Mt. Fuji the way he was snivelling. Finally, after all that haranguing to convince him to go with me, we get to Ices Queen only to find that the freezers were malfunctioning and all the goods were slushy.

I wouldn't be deterred. We kept on walking until we got to the local bodega and there I bought us some Haagen Dazs ice cream bars. (For those of you who don't know what a bodega is, think of it as a neighborhood grocery store with a spanish accent.) We walked back home, eating ice cream and enjoying the night air in spite of the Universe's attempts to rain on my parade. Sometimes ya just gotta MAKE your moments where you can.

Ballo ergo sum
Always and All Ways,
- Gitana

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mini Garden Update

In the spring, I posted photos of my apple tree in bloom. Today I photographed the same tree bearing more apples than I have seen in years. There was an added bonus this monk parrots. They come almost every day this time of year to feast on the most delectable fruits found at the top of the tree. I managed to photograph some of them as they nibbled away at my fruit. Visit my Photobucket album to see the pictures. Link is located at the top of the right hand column.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Zen of Gardening

Today was one of those days in which I hit the ground running. Seems from the moment I woke up, I started working. What began as a simple intention to water the garden quickly turned into a two hour project in which I pulled weeds, uprooted and transplanted flowers, and generally got pretty dirty pretty quickly. If you've never done yard work, and I'm talking about the kind that requires moving quantities of dirt around, then you really can't appreciate how much energy and muscle that kind of work requires. It's brutal, especially when you're doing it under the summer sun.

In spite of its rigors, I find gardening to be a very rewarding experience. It allows me to think but, more importantly, it allows me NOT to think. It allows me to focus on the task at hand and not think about the many issues of life that must be dealt with. This is my form of meditation. Most people who meditate do so purposefully while in a consciously relaxed state. I, on the other hand, tend to meditate best when I am actively engaged in a creative activity that requires me to focus on details. In doing so, it quiets the mental chatter on the analytical left side of my brain and allows my creative right brain to roam freely.

Take gardening, for example. I must focus as I am digging and tilling so as not to damage my plants, then squat down and meticulously pick out weeds from the freshly tilled soil. While doing this, I notice the pill bugs, the earthworms, the newly formed buds on the flowers, the variety of insects buzzing around and pollinating the mature blooms. I take in all the little details that most people pay no attention to and marvel at their perfect synchronicity to the rhythms of nature. More often than not, while I'm focusing in this manner, something amazing occurs. The resolution to a issue I had been pondering some time before suddenly appears in my head. Never mind that I hadn't been consciously thinking about the issue or that it may be totally unrelated to what I am doing at the time. Suddenly there it is, presented with a totally fresh perspective. These insights occur with great frequency and I am convinced it is not a random phenomenon.

Gardening has other rewards as well. In addition to the beautiful blooms and delicious crops, it requires you to be outdoors where you are in closer proximity to nature's wildlife. If you're lucky, you can witness a brief visit by a beautiful winged traveller as it passes through the area. This morning was such a day and I was twice blessed, seeing a monarch butterfly in my front garden and a black dragonfly in my backyard. In both cases, these beautiful creatures circled around in front of me as if trying to catch my attention before disappearing again. In animal symbolism, the butterfly is a symbol of transformation. The dragonfly brings the vision of ancient knowledge and allows us to see past self-imposed illusions. I see them both as portents of a challenging and bright future.