Saturday, December 31, 2011

a new resolution!

The year of 2011 has been one of a constant search for self-identity and groundedness. The author Gerald G. May writes in his book "The Awakened Heart" that our truest identity lies in our desire for love.

This desire for love ends up being masked in many other desires... We work for successes (self love) and affirmations (love from others), we work to be physically attractive (love from others mixed with self love), the list could go on and on but I want to get to my point... Maybe you can take a second to think about what desires characterized your past year and whether or not they can somehow be traced to a desire for more LOVE.

So, isn't my search for identity really just a search for self-love? And if I love myself, then other people can love me too! And maybe the universe will have some love for me! But first I have to discover why I am love-able.

I've searched for that in how I can improve my sense of humor, my education, my appearance, in how I relate to others... again, the list goes on. Yet, a puzzle piece is still missing from my "Why Marissa is Love-able Puzzle" (Find it at your local Target). So I brought it back to the customer service center and got a new one and now - WAIT, I've run away with this metaphor.

It occurred to me this morning that in my great search for "Who am i?" maybe I can take a cue from scripture when Moses asks Yahweh (Hebrew name for God), "Who may I say that you are?" and God replies "I AM WHO I AM." Maybe God is modelling for us how to discover our identities: Who am I? I'm not A Seminarian, A Girlfriend, or a Best Friend. I am who I am, and that is why I am love-able, because at the source of who I am is a deep well of desire for love. I desire love of myself, love for others, love from others, and love from the Divine.

I know I represent a very Judeo-Christian view, but look to other world religions and I speculate that you will find the same simple value of love behind their practices.

Gerald May says, "The only way to own and claim love as our identity is to fall in love with love itself, to feel affection for our longing, to value our yearning, treasure our wanting, embrace our incompleteness, be overwhelmed by the beauty of our need."

So, my New Year resolution is to ask for MORE LOVE. GIVE ME MORE!

Monday, October 24, 2011

State Your Claim

When I used to babysit for a little girl named Heather, we would take long walks to the park. These walks took us through the main street of town, where we would inevitably pass by shop windows. We made a little game of choosing which outfits were our favorites.

Don't worry, I think this was the only gender stereotype that I encouraged... I hope.

The point is, I've always seen getting dressed as an opportunity for artistic self-expression. You wear your mood and expectation for the day on your body. Maybe you feel like being really cozy, so you layer up until you are well bundled. I hope that was a very cuddly day. Maybe you feel like doing something differently, so you dress out of your norm. I hope that was a day of breaking out of norms. The way you look can be an extension of your inner self, which is entirely up to you and no one else.

Since working in retail, that sense of artistic expression has morphed a bit into creating eye catching window displays. At ML Gifts & Accessories, that meant creating a colorful retro Holiday display:

At Kismet, which is more clothing oriented and has slightly smaller windows, this has meant focusing on dressing mannequins (yea, that's how you spell it!):

Which is your favorite? I think mine is the one with the red scarf/white t-shirt combo because I forgot about it until making this post.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

next up....

coming soon...
remember when I landed a job at the lovely Kismet? I've been stock piling pictures of my favorite window displays and will post them later today... after work!

Let the nail biting begin!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Night with the Weepies

Magical Music.

You may have noticed that the name of this blog was borrowed from The Weepies song, "World Spins Madly On." Needless to say, I'm a fan of this couple from Southern California, and was given the wonderful opportunity to hear them live yesterday evening by my buddy Rachel. Thank you Rachel :)

Last night, while basking in this amazing music, I felt all of the worries of the day melt from view. It's as if enjoying the performance of music is a solvent. It dissolves any of those silly things that muddled the joy of life before, and allows more significant truths to come into focus and lift my spirits.

Music is magic to me. It's not necessarily the lyrics that shed so much light, but something about the music itself being created around me that allows a shift. And, it can be any music. It can be reggae, classical, folk... the list goes on. It's the collaboration, the necessary intuition, the self-expression that happens when people get together and make music that creates the "magic." I don't want to explain it, I just want to appreciate it.

I remember a counselor at Christian summer camp once emphasizing that We The Campers should not allow ourselves to be fooled by what we felt during the worship music. It was as if he was revealing to us the terrible secret that the emotional swell and sway of music is in itself deceptive. Our thoughts can only be trusted sans music.

To this I say no. I have only known music to be a water that washes the sand out of my eyes and allows me to feel what I felt last night: gratitude, love and a new source of contentedness.

A Change.
In listening to the lyrics of the Weepies last night, I also realized that my blog name may need to change. I named this "world spins madly on" because when it was created I had up and left New York and moved across the country to pursue a new education. Life felt mad and it felt like it was going to continue to spiral chaotically along, despite my desire for it to just slow down.

However, I now feel a new connection to their song "Slow Pony Home." It speaks of holding "so many people in my suitcase heart." Here I am, living in California with people that I love, meeting new great people, and loving people in New York, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. As my journey continues, more beloveds are piled into my "suitcase heart." So, since this blog is about "the view from where I'm standing", I feel it's only appropriate to update the title to match my current state.

A simple change, that I can only foresee becoming more and more true.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A post of a post of a post.

"You don't have to be pretty."

When reading my friend Mandy's blog, I followed her link to another blog and was struck by its message. I won't paraphrase, because they both say it better than I.

Thank you Erin, for writing this liberating post, and thank you Mandy, for helping me process through it with your post!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Linnea Joy and her Fabulous Photos

This summer I found myself overjoyed with the visit of Linnea Joy Davis to sunny (or should we say foggy?) California.

A little background on our friendship:
Linnea's family moved to New York when we were in 3rd grade. I have memories of a very sweet friend, playing with Barbies, and a little incident with a pencil (did you steal it, Linnea?)

After that school year, Linnea's family moved back to Africa. For years, whenever I passed by their old house, I would wonder, "When will Linnea come back?"

Cut to 8th grade homeroom, the first day of school. The teacher is doing roll call when I hear, "Linnea Davis." I turned around to find a beautiful and grown up version of my 3rd grade friend sitting behind me! Reunited! At last!

During that year and through out high school, Linnea and I grew closer and developed our best-friendship. It's been 6 years since we graduated from high school, and it's been letters, phone calls and wonderful visits like this one that have allowed us to continue this time tested friendship.

Thanks to her amazing photography skills, we have professional documentation of our Summer 2011 - California visit!

Point Reyes Beach

Wine tasting in Sonoma

Together again!
Alcatraz Island

See more of Linnea's work on her website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Jobs!

I recently found out that I landed a job at a really cute store in San Anselmo called Kismet! Every time I've passed the store window I've enjoyed picking which outfit I lusted after the most. Of course, being pretty much jobless and therefore without much of an income, those outfits went to some other appreciator!
I look forward to joining their "superior customer service" team and applying what I learned during my many fantastic years at Maria Luisa. I also very much look forward to the many customers who will turn into friends, as did Nancy, Betsy, and Tara.

This next school year, I'll also be working as a worship assistant on SFTS' campus. I will be part of a 4 student team that will plan all of the chapels that happen here 4 times a week. I'm so excited! This will be a great opportunity to get experience planning worship and working with a team.

It was a bit of a wait to have things fall into place, but I now will have two great jobs that will help me to grow in many ways that I hope to!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What it will take for my city to rise

Ani DiFranco sings about the first time that she saw someone sleeping on the street in her song, Subdivision. She says that she thought to herself, "I can't just walk past here, this can't just be true."
Naturally, when we come upon new experiences that cause us a small level of crisis, we look around us to see what others are doing. Ani describes: "I learned by example to just keep moving my feet. It's amazing the things that we all learn to do."

I'm struck by this example. It highlights the briefest of pivotal moments, when we either choose for our eyes to stay open and listen to that uneasiness in our gut, or when we choose to live disconnectedly. She continues, "so we're led by denial, like lambs to the slaughter."

She makes me think about all the smaller ways that we deny ourselves the truths that we find self-evident. Some of us live in relationships that we know are not quite right for us, but question that sense constantly. We listen to the words of loved ones, and when a little pang in our chest tells us that something sounds off, we don't honor it with communication. We pursue careers that others have urged us to, not listening to what our own sense of self really has to say about it.
I believe that most of us live with an ability to sense more than we realize. And, if we listened to that self-sense, we would live more happily in relationships, in our world, and with ourselves.

Today I challenge myself to be true to my gut, the only gut that I'll ever have to love and listen to!

Friday, May 6, 2011

In the shadows

Was it Star Wars that first introduced the idea of the dark side? It names the evil side of the force; something that the good side must fight to control.
We also use that phrase individually, naming the "dark side" of a person. Or another example, "That wasn't me, that was my evil twin." Dark vs. light and evil vs. good is being used to label a dichotomy that we find to potentially exist within each person.

However, many do not find this dark/light language to be sufficient. It continues to play into the dark is evil and light is good paradigm and that paradigm can be seen to feed into racist ideals, of which many in our society struggle to be free.

So, if we're choosing to not use the "dark side" language, what will we replace it with?

Some choose to use "shadow side" as a replacement. Yet, this doesn't resound fully with me as shadows are what we seek when the heat of light overwhelms us and we need a cooler location. Shadows can provide relief. Night is the ultimate shadow, as the earth blocks half of the globe from sunlight. Shadows are necessarily for rest.
I also don't find "shadow side" to be free of the dark/light dichotomy.

Perhaps the most successful way to find new language on this subject is to examine what this side of ourselves really looks like.

I'm familiar with the phrase, "Hurt people, hurt people." In essence, this is trying to communicate that when you are hurt by someone, it is because they have been hurt by someone else and this hurt has remained unresolved. By hurting another, perhaps they are trying to gain control of an experience that they have yet to feel in control of.

A key word has been used: unresolved.
Perhaps the best way to describe our most uncontrollable side is to name it as our "unresolved" side. What are those experiences in your life that are so chaotic feeling, so triggering of overwhelming emotion, that you are most comfortable leaving them unresolved? I don't think it takes very long for each of us to identify those experiences. Whether or not we'll muster enough courage to admit them to another is a different question.
These unresolved experiences of hurt are what forces us to rely on survival instincts. That is why, sometimes, we end up hurting another out of fear of being hurt in that way again. And, our unresolved side has shown. This is the side of our most tender vulnerability, and our most instinctual reaction.

I think that this calls us to create a safe space in our self-reflection for those unresolved experiences. If we can stop pushing them down and trying to insist that they not be relevant, perhaps we can move towards resolution. Perhaps we can find that embracing and caring for this shadow provides us with some much needed rest and relief.

"Whatever comes, reach out to care for it without trying to change or fix it. Tell this part of you that you will come back, another time, to listen to it and care for it some more."

-Don't Forgive too Soon: Extending the Two Hands that Heal

Thursday, April 7, 2011

With Passion

passion pray. With
passion work. With passion make love.
With passion eat and drink and dance and play.
Why look like a dead fish
in this ocean


Thursday, March 10, 2011

butterflies, unicorns and other girly things

For as long as I can remember, I've claimed to not be a fan of butterflies, unicorns, purple, or pink.

Some of that makes sense. In developed New York, butterflies are not a common sighting. My most frequent experiences with butterflies were Lisa Frank folders in elementary school. They were shockingly inaccurate and all together unattractive. Yet, as their motto tells us, they were of the stuff that "All girls love."

In our older years (and yes, perhaps in our younger) there may be occurrences in life that leave us feeling solitary. Suddenly, we have far less of a grip on the patterns of the world than we had thought.

During one of these times, I started seeing living butterflies. Had I not seen them before? They gently flew around me. When questions were overflowing, these serene insects floated across my path, bringing my thoughts back to the beauty of the present.
Since that time, in each flow of doubt or fear that resurfaces, I've found myself to suddenly notice the company of butterflies. No longer are they inanimate and over colored. They move with grace and intention. They are a reminder that beauty returns in amity, and in time.

In a recent visit to Bolinas, CA, I saw this lovely smattering of friends along a building wall:

What symbols have been rediscovered for you?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Vase

I struggled last night, as I always do, as I spiritually occupied the liminal time of being in one place with my mind in another. I sat across the table from beautiful friends whom I wasn’t seeing because of the steady stream of thoughts focused elsewhere. “I have to remember to call mom right after midnight… Finish packing quickly so you can go to sleep… You’ll be in the airport early tomorrow… You’ll be back in California in the afternoon, do you want to go back?”

I was overwhelmed with the “yines” (yes and no), the constant conflictions felt when preparing myself to go to another home. I’ve always struggled with this. At sleep away camp in middle school I felt panic as I approached the two weeks away from home, and I wept when I had to leave Warwick to return to Nyack. I’m an absolute sap when it comes to goodbyes. A mess.

It was the generosity of a friend at 12:01AM January 1, 2011 that brought me back to the present. I was surrounded with people close to me, with whom I can reveal all facets of my personality. The Me who is smiling too much, can’t think of a joke but is laughing at everything everyone else says. The Me who is lucidly processing something at the grace of those present. The Me who is cranky as hell and letting out every cynical comment that comes to mind. It’s an amazing thing to celebrate with people who celebrate all of you and you celebrate all of them.

I am reminded of the poem “A Vase” by Rabia.

*a love poem from God

“I am always holding a priceless vase in my hands.

If you asked me about the deeper truths

of the path and I told you

the answers,

it would be like handing sacred relics to you.

But most have their hands tied

behind their


that is, most are not free of events their eyes have seen

and their ears have heard

and their bodies felt.

Most cannot focus their abilities

in the present, and

might drop what

I said.

So I’ll wait; I don’t mind waiting until

your love for all

makes luminous

the now.

*written on January 1st, 2011