altar by the sea

How will we build an altar by the sea, with the tides ever receding, returning?
Build your altar to the moment, each moment, again and again.

NLong 4/1/2020 ©

Life in Isolation-Day 2

Izzi raising a toast and wishing you a good hour or two

This midday, I attended a zoom meeting for work, and this evening I went to a zoom party. It definitely improved my mood. I’ve hung out social media at various points, behind a wall of text, and it hasn’t. Live interaction is crucial if we want/need to rely on technological communications and still maintain a sense of connection. It’s better with voices, and better still if we can see each other. A wall if text is pretty depersonalizing, even while we take it all the more personally.

Also, even as an uncomfortable hugger, I miss hugs.

My New Year

Starting my year of being 54, and while my suit is notably crankier, my mind is as creative and curious as always and notably calmer than ever. My honey is out of town with his stepfather.  I am spending the day with my grand babe. This is the age of caring for our young ones and our older ones. Dinner with the family last night and art with a friend tomorrow night are my celebration. I haven’t planned for this evening. I’ll see what comes up. Happy my birthday to you all. I love you.

Signs of Sirens

Siren’s Gate is a collaborative art project, the beginning vision of which began as I drove home past a high school football field, lined with vinyl signs. The sun shone through the fence, through the vinyl. It waved in the light breeze, giving the impression of scales. From there the vision grew.

There will at least 5 themed pieces, in increasing sizes, hopefully to be displayed at Burning Flipside 2020, Sacred and Propane. There is room for all kinds of media and many skillsets! Blinky! Propane, copper! Fabric, found art, flames. I have two pieces in mind, but they need fleshing out, and we will need at least 3 additional pieces to bring the project to fruition. They may be developed over the course of a few events, and I may bring the starter art to FreezerBurn, with the compatible theme of Rudder Chaos.

I plan on having a design charrette in the coming weeks to garner collaborators, ideas, and support. Come on out and throw some spitballs at the wall with me. Watch this space for details.

So Long So’bruary. Hello Marching Forth!

So’bruary has brought unexpected revelations, and increased attention, and as such, I am going to call it a success.  Though I did have a few alcoholic drinks through the month, I did so with intention, and attention. This intention and attention had me examine and dismiss cravings, and enjoy a handful of well-considered, well-spaced beverages.

I also discovered that, while I do enjoy a good beer, glass of wine, or cocktail, I had been in recent months bored-/stress-/escape-drinking. Not tons, and not daily, but more than I should and more frequently.  I did not lose weight during So’bruary, as I thought I might; perhaps because at the start, I replaced bored/stress/escape-drinking with eating. I can nosh on low-calorie snacks, drink non-alcoholic beverages, meditate, write; all good ways to escape stress/boredom/over-thinking, or at least direct those thoughts more productively.

I may also be allergic to beer; a single pint one night left me feeling inflamed, puffy the next day.  Perhaps it was coincidence, but it didn’t feel like it. I will pay attention next time I indulge in one, and note the results accordingly.

I discovered that I became more open to the creative thoughts that run through the ether and sometimes land in our heads. It’s been a month rich in ideas. 

I also found I slept more and better, by and large.

As So’bruary comes to a close, I look forward to what’s next. I intend to retain my mindfulness about alcohol.  and I look forward to the next experiment. If I can become more mindful from taking a  break from drinking,  I can work  on becoming more mindful about movement and my current lack of enough of it. 

March starts with changes at work that will involve me having to go up and down two floors to the copier. Our offices are closing, and we are relocating in the building. I will, in my reception role, be on the ground floor; however, much of our work room, which I tend to use in my administrator assistant role, will be on the third floor. I am going to take the stairs whenever possible. I need to figure out what other movement/exercise I will add to the mix, but for now, it’s stairs. 

I like this direction. I’m looking forward to A(rt)pril.

Love is Cheap

I have heard through much of my life not to love lightly. Not to express love lightly. Not to say “I love you” “unless you mean it,” with the implication that we can’t possibly mean it when casually expressed; that to do so isn’t placing enough value on the precious commodity that love, as argued, is supposed to be. We’re not to squander it, but rather to hoard it. There was a way to further impress this upon us when we were young and tender: “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” You can hear the jokey, sneery voice saying it, can’t you?
The lesson is that you should should be stingy with your love, as though there isn’t enough of it, and you may run out of it if you give to much of it away. That you need to save it for special occasions.

I am going to argue, possibly unpopularly, at least in playground terms, the opposite. That we should feel (and express!) love often, and at any level of depth (or shallowness) that we feel it; that loving someone you just met for their jokes, or your boss for their sense of style, or, I don’t know, trees, or the color red, doesn’t devalue love at all. Rather, each instance of felt and expressed love is an opportunity to dwell a moment in that feeling, and to, should we want to, examine the very nature of love. It is a chance to celebrate our connection to who or what brings us that feeling, and to explore ways to give that feeling, even in fleeting ways to others, to the very world.

So go out, be cheap with your love. Love red. Love that video of an otter. Love chocolate cake. And love each other.

Happy valentine’s day. May it be full of love.

Welcome to Sob’ruary

I am giving up alcohol for the month. I want to see what effect it has on awareness, mood, on my pocketbook. On health and weight, perhaps, but those aren’t the reason. I am not hard-core, and will likely consume kombucha, will bake with vanilla, etc.

I thought of adding additional goals, but instead, I think I’ll see what some mindfulness and sobriety make space for. Creativity? Punctuality? Timeliness? Cleanliness? (Never a strong suit of mine). Attention! Memory, exercise, relationships, etc? Sure. These are all on the table. I’ll see what naturally arises.

Given much of what I like about wine, I may take up tea outings. I may go in search of the Best Mocktail in Austin. I may explore juice bars.

New and Good (and Tired)

Izzi B in professional attire
Business Time

Wow. Work. It’s been eating time and thought and attention in a big way. I am tired, but grateful. This gig has potential: it’s really pushing me in ways that fuel my growth. I am building patience, calm, attention, humility. I am learning new-to-me culture, language, traditions. I am again supporting what feels like good in the world by supporting those doing the feet-on-the-ground work of building community, of supporting the less-fortunate, of finding their greater callings. I still feel new and outsider-y, but less so each and every day. The intensity of activity at work makes it easy for me to sustain activity or collapse well when I am not at work, which is serving me as I start into web design tools and basic programming classes (as well as intro to computing *gigglesnort*). Anyhow, I do want to see you all, and will whenever time, energy, and in-the-moment inclination allow it, but I may also have my head in a book, or a project, or (who knows…) for a while. 

How I Helped Start a Job Club

Having recently joined the ranks of the unemployed,  a daunting position at my age (and, let’s be real, any age when it comes so suddenly upon us), I found myself at unexpected loose ends.  Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared, as I had already been considering a shift in employment in the nearer-rather-than-distant future.  I had the rudiments of a decent resume in place. I had been making contacts with other companies. I had (a framework of) a plan. Unfortunately, I was now working from a position of unemployment, rather than employment. It doesn’t look great and it doesn’t feel good, either.

Not one to wallow, (not for long, anyway), I started figuring out what to do next. I immediately applied for unemployment benefits, started polishing the resume, and mentioned my availability to a number of friends, cohorts, and former employers.  I had gotten the news of my new status on a Friday at 3:00 pm (who does that to a person!?) and by Tuesday afternoon benefits were approved, retirement was reinvested, my car was paid off, and I was ready for The Next Big Thing.

I started doing what I needed to do to find employment, but am glad it wasn’t immediate; I wanted it to be good. I didn’t want to settle (at least not immediately) for anything less than a place where I would be fairly compensated for making a difference, for doing what I loved, and for feeling like I was both supporting and supported. In addition, I knew I had an event to produce (my volunteer gig!) in a few weeks, after which I had already planned a search.

That said, maintaining unemployment benefits requires a number of “job search activities” a week. Some weeks, especially since I am hoping to change career paths, it is hard to find a decent number of jobs that I want, that I am qualified for, and that offer a sustainable level of compensation. However, there are a number of activities that count, including job fairs, job search classes at the workforce commission offices, attending a “Job Club” and others.  The concept of a Job Club fascinated me, so I looked around and didn’t find much on offer locally, at least not with that search term.

I was already associated with a group of “Burning Professionals” (started by friend M7, if I recall) that has periodic, though irregular, happy hour meet ups. We also have a Facebook group that has served as a means for everything from recommendations for car repairs to networking, from professional head shots to helping each other with our resumes. However, in person, it has been mainly a happy hour meet up.

At the most recent one, a number of us who attended were looking for work, (coming off sabbatical, looking for a change in direction, moving from freelance or looking for more freelance gigs, or laid off like me).  While there, a number of us brainstormed the idea of meeting specifically to enhance our job search. When one of my friends called a couple of weeks later, wanting to get together to brainstorm and hold each other accountable, the idea of forming a job club for ourselves and those others from the happy hour/ the larger Facebook group took hold.

We held our first meeting on June 26th, welcoming about 10 people, and a tiny meet up on July 3.  We’re still in the nascent phase, and working on where this is going, but I hereby announce the formation of the Central Texas Burning Professionals Job Club.  We may store info here, I may start another website for it, or we may just form a google group or Facebook group for document management, announcements, etc.  The next meeting is slated to be held on July  10th, location dependent on RSVPs.

Hope to see you there.

Together We Roar (in tribute to Larry Harvey)

It’s been a little over 2 weeks now since the world lost Larry Harvey.

Until now, I haven’t felt the push to add to the eloquent opines and waxed philosophies: as always, I assume someone else probably covered or will cover most of what I might say, and in all likelihood, they have done or will do so with more elegance, grace, and refinement than I am likely ever to muster.

And still, I must raise my voice to join those others, I must make this acknowledgement, however humble my small addition might be: My life would not be what it is today were it not for the unplanned leadership of an accidental visionary; if not for the mere existence of and coincidental collision with someone I consider an artistic and philosophical ally, a kindred.

Because of Larry Harvey (and subsequent interventions, via the wings of so many butterflies) I have the great privilege of finding myself among a whole community (local) and Community (global) of like(enough)- minded artists, makers, doers, humans who want, in our own weird way(s) to make this place better, or at the very least, less dull.

And because of this grand effect on my life and on the larger world, I owe the addition of one more voice to the collaborative cacophony, shouting out, planning out, burning out our deep gratitude. Together we roar.