THE SIZE OF LIFE

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Arthur Ashe

 
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Some days I feel as my life is too small. I do ordinary things in ordinary places. When I left Venezuela I thought it was for good. I sold everything I had to fund the dream of building a life in freedom and possibilities in a country where I could grow and experience the amazing range of knowledge and diversity my heart yearned for. I wanted to belong in a place evolving “at loud” where an honest and committed effort can bloom, at its own pace, but definitely bloom.

Life can turn around in a twist and what was unthinkable becomes real. Heartbroken and defeated, I saw myself jumping on a plane back leaving behind all my possessions and my heart in a box.

Life here seems to be lived in reverse, constantly involving, shirking to a point where you cannot breathe. Life dies hard though, even in hopeless areas and under the shade of large and imposing trees; a seed germinates pushing through rocks and roots fed by a silent promise and the soil and sky’s generosity.

Challenges breed resilience and perseverance when a dream awaits; when there is enough love and trust that Good as the seed, is fighting to grow.

You find yourself in a place you don’t belong, with nothing but “you” and the many experiences stacked in your soul. You came back not because you wanted to, but because there was no choice. Failure is indeed a bitter pill to swallow, one with the power of erasing at a stroke the many heroic moments and accomplishments of a lifetime.

One step at the time you come to realize that a blank slate is a space for ideas to be born, a lab for exercising courage and get to know the person you have become. If we allow life to speak, it will hint us about the actions to take, directing the spotlight on a number of spare parts that somehow need to meet and reveal those ones missing for the picture to be clear.

Projects come and go, intentions dissipate or flourish transformed by the circumstances and “yes and no’s” accumulate as we walk. Everything appears to be random, but it is not. This is the single certainty we might enjoy. If only pieces came in a box with an image at the top!

I have come to work as an “intervention” piano coach. I am being referred students who lack motivation or practice habits and are about to fail or give up. As I see their pain, I remember my own. I wish for them what I wished for myself – belief and support- a hand to hold and accompany me back home, to that place of worthiness and possibility where there is a reason for all and I am truly loved for who I am, no matter what is going on.

As life presents itself, the chain of events ostensibly has a dream of its own. The original dream still beats in the background too weak to dare to impose. I need to trust that something wiser than me is pulling strings and somewhere in time the two shall meet and give birth to my fate, the one it is meant to be and I have both searched for and resisted.

In the meanwhile I sit and think of my small life and the things I have done and wish I could do. I understand how caught I have been in the idea that what you have or you can prove, defines you. Success today dresses in glittering clothes and makes loads of noise. I have no bright clothes and fled to noise. I want to change the world and reach high, but my scope and resources are too small.

Then I reflect about the metaphor of starfishes in the sand and the hand that send them back to the ocean. My life might seem small from the point of view of a simple woman picking up messes and knocking on doors, but when a kid hugs me or I see him smile and shine, or when the adult’s eyes betray their masks and innocence and hopes are reborn; then, just then, my life is a big as my soul and the dreams of a rainmaker are nurturing the soil.

Purpose comes in different sizes, I am not sure if we chose if they are big or small. It might be in other’s hands to determine their scopes. What I can choose is to act or not. The impact I leave in one person might be imperceptible for statistics, the media or the last reality show. It is not for the fabric of the world though…

One person is a world in its own, defining her fate as she touches as well those in her scope. One by one we fulfill our destinies and the chain of people grows,  those who might not see us in the papers or glittering clothes, but will remember our love and be strong and confident to pay it forward making others feel loved.

I thus declare…

There is no such thing as small lives; there is only poverty of dreams. I shall live to remember that when a dream is lost, is not just the dreamer the one affected but the Universe as a whole. I shall keep then, focused on the soul in front of me and enjoy the greatness I might not be able to see but that will have a tiny bit of me.

When “Something” Speaks… Let it BE

As complex and uncertain as a moment in life might be, that is how some things happen to exist. I left my guard down and witnessed within. There is no better way to explain what I saw, than telling the story as it happen to me.
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Loneliness is a strange thing…

It has the power to summon such a wide range of emotions and place them randomly on the canvas of experience. Loneliness dressed for the occasion, and takes the feminine discontent and expectancy lurking from the mirror before an important event.

It might be sweet as nostalgia or really painful as a loss.
It might savor hope and become yearning in the long run.
It might be unbearable as despair, or eternal as the dark nights of the soul.

Loneliness is a friend I have known since long ago, there is no use in running or pretend I must go.
It can come for a visit and hang on with one or the many walking by or just engaged in small talk.
It might post a picture and join the cyber space, circling around words and events wishing to be heard.

Loneliness is a strange thing, I must say once more…
It can stir the invisible substance where things grow and turn into high speed intentions and creative flow.
It might happen to be a serene getaway for the silent longings rising from the beyond, and soaring as flying metaphors of the heart’s call.

Loneliness knocked and I opened the door…
She waited patiently as I sang my song.
Then took the beads and strung them up.
One by one the space filled up,
Reeling words sketching my soul

Loneliness can surprise us too with the colored face of the truth…
There is beauty and magic in the painful hope voicing it sadness openly to the Gods.
A string of consciousness might reveal the treasure hidden in a sudden tear and from the solitude of who we are, offer something to that other who might as well searching is, about why loneliness is such a strange thing.

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LONELINESS’ TRUTH

Today I feel lonely
Lonely as the seed awaiting to become

Loud and messy Life sings
Its song just an echo leaving no print
Bouncing from one gesture to another
In nameless faces and dreams
Vibrant Waves pass by
To dye in routine

Today I feel lonely
Lonely and forgotten as the mist touched by sunlight

Rushing steps and cheerful laughs
Chirping birds and caution warns
A cacophony of vital wise
Running through the veins of ordinary life
A memory blinks of a time in the past
Where I was too a note
In this music blast

Was I really ever one..
A note dancing
In this music staff?

Today I feel lonely
Lonely as the dissonance in a plain ballade

It is not that I’m alone
Noise and sparks
Colors and forms
Move around and call along
So bright and bold
Unchanging and dull
The profane reigns
Claiming to be
The word of the Gods

Today I feel lonely
Lonely as only the heart might know
When dwelling in the void left
By a nostalgic Soul

I look in the mirror of dangled sighs and solitary tears
Farewell petals and secrets hopes
Caressed by invisible frontiers
Unspoken words in aging ink
Remember the future
Of timeless kisses
Unwillingly mourning the past long gone
And surrendered unlived

Today I feel lonely
Lonely as one for whom the other is lost
Or yet to be known
One for whom
Her true reflection is no longer enough

Today I feel lonely
And wish I was not
I seek the promise of the encounter
And search the stars for a response
Twinkle, twinkle
Far beyond
As I wonder if above
Angels keep all dream notes

Today I feel lonely
And nothing but you can fill the void
You dearest, a mirage of joy
Eternal reverie of a solitary soul
Casting silent spells
To place a face to love

 

Mercedes Calcano
July 2015

The Wheel of Life

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”
― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

Crack

Loser shame…this remark shook me deeply today as I was trying to find relief for the feeling emanating by a small event on Friday’s night.

I realized I have been dealing all my life with shame; haunted by the fragility of my shell and clinging to the silent hope that it will end someday. I cannot accept my own mistakes and imperfections because it is like opening the door to the monster of “they were right;” I am a loser, a small being trying to play in the arena of the great talents and winners, with no other weapon than love and will.

How can I enter a world of “glamour and elite” if an unmerciful spotlight – as those in the towers of a maximum security prison – is chasing my every move, threatening to expose me as a fake!

Glamour? Elite? What in the heck am I talking about?

It is hell to step out and open your heart completely naked to others. It is harder when you secretly feel that you do not have the right to do it, you feel like pretending to be touched by the Gods and to be able to read their magic code. It is a game of life and death, all or nothing.

You have been accumulating the expertise and resilience needed to battle over years; it should be ready by now!

What is wrong with you?

It takes just a tiny moment, less than a second to understand you are not going to make it that day, is all blurred, lost, and you would have to face the audience and say, I am sorry, I cannot remember and leave the stage.

Yep. I messed up playing at an event.

It happens to all, not a big deal, people tell you and you smile and agree on the outside, while the inside is going through your toolkit of self- improving techniques and adult intelligent attitudes trying to shake off the empowered loser and the shame of not being perfect.

Yes, it happens! But it happened to you, and your entire story comes down, crushing you and speaking the many voices you tried to ignore while growing up, turning a life calling into an obsession or worst simple stubbornness.

Self-doubt emerges tall and strong. Back to the past, the starting point!

There are indeed Dragons living within…

At the moment I stood tall, went back to my seat and clapped and cheered the next player. Somebody in the audience asked the presenter if I could play another thing. I listen with horror.

The weird thing is that he said something in the line of – we know, or have been told (not sure) that she plays amazingly beautiful, perhaps she could play something else?…

Back to my old story! I don’t have anything else! Caught with the hands in the Cookie Jar again! You should have something else!

The school director asked me if I had the score, which I did! So it was settled that I will play again after the “Star” finish his presentation (this said with respect and admiration, I love the kid and is amazing to see how big he is in the literal and metaphorical sense of the word). I was actually embarrassed to play after him and to have a “breakdown” with him present…

The night went on. IF this was my old story, I would have left crying and completely distraught; this time I danced, sung and play the Cuatro (Venezuelan instrument) till the night was over. I was a life force life. I have to admit I am not sure if it was making up for something or just because I allowed myself to be seen and my shame to transpire openly and dissolve into my other selves.

When the time came to leave, a couple of women came to me. One of them told me that she had almost cried. That it was so emotional what I have played. I thought it was the first one, which went well! But to my astonishment, it was the one I had to read! Both told me how much I have touched them. I thank them for bringing me “back home” to a place of worthiness and compassion.

Still, I have been having real trouble to let this run through my system and heal the many wounds around my right to be a pianist.

During the weekend I have been moving around followed by the unrelenting dark cloud of failure. I have been turning my eyes away, focusing on making sense of the all the drama around a tiny experience than nobody but me seems to be fixed on!

Why is that, why do we cling to the horrors and overlook the gifts?
It is just me?

I imagine people commenting, whispering and even enjoying my “stumbling”. I see myself small and isolated. – “The world will not look at me the same. I just gave up my cover!”

Can you begin to understand the power of a story based on the belief that I am not good enough or worthy of the passion and wonder I feel for music and the way it touches me?

As I write these words in an attempt to atone for my weaknesses and imperfection, I can see clearly the exaggerated, almost hilarious script running through my head! Are you kidding me! No wonder why you are terrorized by and feel trapped by the gifts you love and give sense and purpose to your life.

It is such an unhealthy hate-love relationship constantly been fed by my inability to accept the fragility of life, to overcome my need of external validation and the fear to actually realize that “I am nothing!”

How much time of my life am I willing to sacrifice in the name of a personal image build upon fear, rejection and the “should’s” that will make me feel loved?

How can I expect to be loved for who I am, if I cannot love myself?

It is a long journey of compassion and innocence, a true leap of faith, the one I am taking to meet the girl, woman and soul filled with visions of magic, tenderness and amazement. The fragile creature who stands alone in the midst of her hopes and dreams, her strengths and vulnerabilities, and doing everything in her hands to be loved to feel worthy; is summoning the courage to move through shame and fear, self-doubt and criticism and stand up for her humanity.

Yes, I am afraid…

Afraid of:

—losing my way.
—not being able to honor those invisible forces pushing within my soul and heart, asking me the last self-sacrifice, to show up raw, naked complete imperfect and to trust that somehow the light in me will fickler and connect with others.

I am afraid…

—that I will ever be able to grasp and express how unbearably and beautiful is to be human, to love what all your heart, to dream the impossible and to bear a life that does not match my expectations.
—to admit I stop breathing every time the thought “I will never make it” enters my mind.
—the feeling that whatever purpose or heroic path the Universe entrusted me with, it forgot to bestow me with the necessary weapons (magic or not) for the task.

What if I am just a shell of strength and accomplishments hidden a weary pantomime plenty of losses and failures?

I am just a human being admitting how hard is to be one; how much I long my life to be meaningful and easier. How much I dread to show up and be rejected. How much I long to belong and be remembered… to know that I truly exist and there is reason for me to be here.

I long for someone to believe in me, even when I give in and turn my back to life; someone who knows what I am going through and points at the sun, the stars or the bright moon on a dark night…
Someone different than me…

I want so much for my students, for the people I love, for the world as a whole, for nature and the future!

How can this simple and small woman aspire to inspire others to keep the light glowing if she is fighting to keep her own coal burning?

Perhaps just admitting here that although my life might not be the example of strength, accomplishment and courage I ask for it to be; I wouldn’t trade any of those invisible moments – sometimes tragic, sometimes magic – when I enter the sacred and touch the infinite… Those fleeting moments when my soul and I seem to walk as one and I know all is right…

There is such love and surrender… I then understand why a Higher Intelligence would like to become human and experience life; why unlimited divine sparks take refuge in mortal temples and patiently await to bloom.

For that,
—I am willing to risk to be seen without disguises.
—I am willing to move back on stage to voice the wonders and beauty of the extraordinary and the ordinary dwelling in the soul – mine, yours, the world’s…

For that,
—I willingly sacrifice my dreams of perfection, the ego’s shell of “having it all figure out” and offer the imperfect and brutally honest song of a human being committed to just BE…

Rumi said…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

May I find the poetry in it,
May you find the poetry in it,
May all living beings find the poetry in it…

Goodby Soul

“A rebirth out of spiritual adversity causes us to become new creatures”.
James E. Faust

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It has been quite some time since I last visited this page. My life’s journey has thrown me into a spiral of emotions and events that require reflection, experience and change. I am not done yet… I have not even gotten near to an understanding of its impact and the turning point I feel is haunting me.

The only thing certain today is that I need to take one step at the time.

There have been many hardships and doubts in my life; yet I never, not for once; doubted my soul’s guidance before. I had lived with a sense of “Something Bigger” being in charge of the “madness” and the belief in an invisible Force in me worthy of a Sci-fi Trilogy.

I was used to “Dark Nights of the Soul” and to feel mine squirming and jumping as a dog before lying asleep. It could also surprise me with awkward and nonsensical ideas too.  Still,  I trusted fiercely that it would lead me into the light and I would be a better human being afterwards.

Not this time.

This time I felt betrayed and laughed at. I was angry and I have had enough of following blindly a quirky invisible thing that after all this time together, had had the nerve of leaving me hanging in the abyss and in so much pain.

Act One. The Unimaginable

If you are like me, a master in looking for any justifications to explain what is inexplicable or just plain awful, or so caught in your story of unworthiness that you are afraid to say enough is enough;  then you can understand what a huge deal was for me to feel such anger and sack my soul.

Oh, yes, I did, and I am not sure I have rehire it either. This time I am up for a better deal. If I am going to keep being the Ginned Pig, I want sound presence and loud answers.

For once in my life I stopped looking up, or within, with my head down and a begging whisper. I face it straight ahead with everything organic or not shaking and shouted – I am done. Whatever contract I have with you, consider it broken. I quit.

Silence…

Act Two

… A weird standing-in-the-void-kind-of-mourning-experience where I have no idea what to do with myself.

I had not realized that when you fired your soul, you run out of solid excuses for avoiding and resisting the earthy demands that fall into another bag of excuses labelled-“answering to my Grail Quest.”

Perhaps I am, and the darn thing not only hides, but jingles behind me to see how alert I remain.
(It does not feel as cruel as before; nevertheless, I am still angry).

Act Three. Spiritual awakening or breakdown?

No idea. I decided that I would paint butterflies and make origami animals, watch TV series and see if the character’s monsters under the bed are really scary shadows or, we have a comedian-soul-epidemic.

The worst part is that although I fired it, (and I am mad and…) I am speaking about it and even doing things regarding that old saying of mine -“follow your soul” (imagine a deep voice).

What if it does not know what is that is doing? Or if it is has become so “human” that ends like me, going from one “place” to another?

Can a soul lose it’s compass? A soul, you know? Light, divine spark… I am not talking about us, the mortal ones.

I always believed that the soul was in speed dial with the Higher Source. I might not be able to sneak in the conversations or watch through the keyhole or understand what surely  would be communication in code! But again, I trusted…

How could I be so lost and in so much pain? How could I have so uproariously failed following its lead?

Act Four. In the “Realm of Mysteries”!

I pride myself on being good at designing creative and deep learning experiences for my students, to go beyond paradigms into the vast Universal imagination to connect dots, lines, shapes and whatever, to depict the path of “knowledge.” This is ludicrous compared to what the Soul can come up with to bring you a well-designed-tailored-learning-experience!

Yes, I have come to think that this might have underlying currents too deep to be able to follow. In the meanwhile, I dance in the edge between the “old and new” Me. I cannot see before, past, up or down; I can only be here and answer to the impulse to write.

Could this be the lesson? I wonder…

I have no idea how many acts are there in this play; nevertheless, I am determined that the final act will be written  four hands!

Hush…
I have to leave,  I can hear my soul jingling!

 

Image Credit:
http://naomuack.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

How to Tame Your Dragons… Or Train Your Adult!

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
Edith Wharton

Candle light magic by Donal Zolan

There are times when I feel like no matter what I do, I seem to be glued to my circumstances, habits or moods. I am riding this invisible and “unfair” roller coaster with short high peaks and very long and steep descents. Fear is in charge and I cling to excuses to be able to bare my disappointment and guilt.

Guilty as charge! I know what I am doing, somehow the action button has stopped working and my I my inner charger have completely collapsed. My mind runs wild looking where to hide from the critic witnessing my failure and shouting to get over it and move on.

My heart jumps like a ping pong ball into the fired up field of “I “can do it!” and that of “why bother!” Yes, I am in the middle of an inner war, one in which present, past and future become an explosive blend threatening torn me apart.

Emotions are strong and ready to overpower me. I learned that I need to welcome them and let them do their job; still they remind me about where I am at this moment and it is not easy to accept and forgive myself.

A little bit ago a mentor invited me to register my choices and thoughts for a couple of weeks. Because I have a “narrative” soul smitten by metaphors, I decided to call upon my shadows, dragons and daemon to do so.

Long before my task was over I had discovered my tendency, or I should say “addiction,” to lean upon my faults and worse; a weird pleasure to go over every detail and edge of my shortcomings and disowned selves.

Nobody with that long “criminal record” and “monster-like” personality should be allowed to rise above herself, leave the dungeon and join the pleasant and pure environment of the world and the “others!”

While I share this, the wiser part of me smiles in astonishment, the jester makes jokes about the ridiculous thoughts and the critic gloats- “I told you so”. Faraway though, a little girl hides sad and afraid that I betrayed her secret and she will never be loved or forgiven.

This little girl truly believes that somehow she was born cursed and her task is to atone for the amazing baggage she carries. She has no idea how it came to be, only that she is not worthy of love, success, fulfilling her dreams and so much more. Her life space and time has been devoted to do everything in her power to change and learn to be “good” unaware of the high price she is paying for it.

What did I manage to see the little girl cowering in a corner of my soul?

Tracing back my fear of being exposed…
It is not about being ridiculed or criticized; is about finding out that “they” are right. A part of me is terrified of being a “fake” and as such, it prefers to stay invisible.

Why?
Because behind invisibility there is still hope…

How many of us settle for a small life to protect the halo of light still burning in our souls? How fiercely we hold to the idea that it could be irremediably taken from us?
I know I have…

You surely had heard about limiting beliefs and probably as me; have tried many techniques to get rid of them once for all.

How is that working for you?

Here is something I discovered a little while ago…
My limiting beliefs might suck, but many of my virtues and qualities I own to them. In my need to compensate I have develop strengths and tools that serve me well today.

They are part of me and they were born to protect me, to make sense of what I was experiencing at a time where nothing or nobody else stood up for me.

As well as the external influences, these internal ones have help modelling the person I have become in good ways. Thus, I am willing to update and reframe their utility.

This means finding balance between the lessons learned and the possibilities offered by more supporting beliefs and learning when to rely on the old ones to keep me safe and when to lean into the positive ones.

This, though, is adult work and as such it works in a slow and many times messy ways.

How I am training my adult?

The first step is to be aware of the moments where my old beliefs take over and fly to defend me without asking my permission.

In my case, they spill the beans all over the place. I become reactive, feel pain and see myself acting like the “monster” I am so against and afraid to be! Afterward, I get angry at myself, close my heart and go back to that place of hopelessness and dis-empowerment that started the … “thing.”

The second step: name it. Call upon the habit, “strategy”, behavior and allow the feeling behind to be. Then call upon the strength and breathe.

Disgusting I know! I am so proud of being smart and I so hate to prove myself wrong! Plus, I have to deal with the gloating brat telling me – you failed again! I am still looking for the volume switch to turn it off so I can hear my beautiful qualities signing along!

The third: afford yourself the same compassion you will offer others.

Remember, it is a process where many inner selves need to be listened to and comforted. Even if sometimes it feels like a kindergarten out-of-control-conspiracy or a teenage rebellion; they need to know our adult part is in charge and is taking good care of them.

Last but not least, trust that you are not alone and no matter how difficult things might seem, impermanence rules the Universe and the Sun shall rise again…

For a perfectionist like me, self-compassion and trust are quite a challenge, and as you saw above, I am still working on the other 3 too. Good old life school is resisting graduating me!

For a little kid scared of being exposed and rejected, this is a breaking point, one in which her soul whispers – you are not alone…

There more we dare to face our imperfections, the more our little lights come together and the greater the splendor.

Good to be back.

 

 

Special thanks to Noam Kostucki, for always asking for the best in me.

Image Credit: Candle Light Magic by Donald Zolan in http://abstract.desktopnexus.com/wallpaper/563035/

 

Colored Veils, the Art of Dreams…

Wondering about life and its challenges, about those things that inevitably come to mind in the midst of inquiry and the quest for purpose; I found myself asking, why?

Why do I do what I do?

And because Art seems to have a bigger plan for me than what I am prepared to admit, I found myself asking:

Really? Art?

This time though, not from the point of view of what logic and experience have taught me, but from that fragile place of secrecy, where your soul and heart whisper and you are afraid that others might listen…

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Nocturno

My art is made of dreams
Is about finding the essence of things
Is about those lines, shapes, strokes and stains that bear the energy of creation,
The seed of becoming,
The muscle of life

My art dives in colors and layers looking for the authentic
Rescuing it from the veils of the constructed
And organizing it in a kaleidoscopic view of existence

My art is in love with movement and continuity
It travels space and time in its quest for the origin
And blends in the dream of transcendence

My art is not mine; at least not from the one in the mirror
Is the strange and magic exploration of my hands
With an unknown destiny
Is a refuge for my soul, or perhaps the way it speaks to me?

My art aspires to be a haven without blame for others and me to reside
A realization of our unique thread in the fabric of being alive
And how the Cosmos secretly stitches and weaves
Encounters and loses,
The farewell of the old
The fate of greatness we call hope

Sorry my dear reader, I got distracted again…

You were saying?

Why do you do what you do?

A magic question; no? Heaven can tell…