Thursday, February 27, 2020

Italian is Alive Inside Me

Dedicated to my wonderful parents, Dena and Ric Ricci
The meadow is blank with fog this morning.
The grasses are every shade of tan and grey.
My mind feels empty.
This is the kind of
day when I open
my mouth to say
something and
my breath is
the only
to come out.
Still. I keep hoping for
for some grand inspiration.

Two weeks ago, out of the blue,
I decided I had to learn Italian.
I grew up hearing it spoken, my mom forever conversing with
my beloved grandparents, Mish and Claude.
But I never had any inclination to speak it myself.
I was content to learn Spanish and French.
Now I can’t get enough Italian.
The soft round sounds of the language are so
comforting. And the words feel so alive, like they are
beating inside my heart.

Part of what is going on is that I miss my very gentle mother. Dena.
And my dear father. Ric.
I miss them a lot.

As my friend Peg pointed out to me last week, it’s only been six months
since my Dad passed. Not that much time.
I still can’t get my head around the fact that I'm never going to see him or Mom -
ever again.
I will never visit their cozy house in Pittsfield for homemade bread and mouth-watering pot roast and 
the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted.

But that’s only part of it.
Lately, I have been practicing
staying in the NOW, not thinking or doing,
but just BEING alive and AWARE.

And constantly opening up my heart.
When it works, this present only practice brings deep
satisfaction. And gratitude. And feelings of love. Love for all creatures.
Italian, so musical and sensuous and romantic, fits this mind and body set perfectly.
It helps to keep me grounded in my senses.
It's the same kind of feeling I get when I hold my dog Poco on my chest. She's warm and soft and she
just rests there. It's so reassuring!

I have started an on-line Italian class, and I'm also using a translator program to write
phrases and sentences that appeal to me. I love speaking the sentences out loud. They make me feel 
like I'm taking care of myself. Saying what I need to say. And finding out who I really am.
Ironically, learning Italian not only connects me both to present day feelings but also links me 
directly to feelings and events in my childhood. Some of these events are terrifying.

But certainly not all of them.  I think of all the funny sayings my mother had. For 
example, when something really nice happened to me (like when I met my wonderful husband) she 
would smile and say: "Li cascado lu caso sober le maccheroni." Translation: "The cheese fell right on 
the macaroni!"

For my parent's 50th wedding anniversary in 1999 I made them a book
of my grandparents' favorite sayings. 

Saying them aloud is a lot of fun. 

These days, I am even enjoying conjugating verbs: like essere (to be) and
mangiare (to eat)

and of course, amare (to love).

And I'm busy transcribing Italian into my journal:

“Stay in the now!”
Resta nell’ora!
“Each moment is a gift.”
Ogni momento è un regalo.
“Life is a precious flower.”
La vita è un fiore prezioso.

"Stay present."

Rimani presente.
“May you enjoy all the small miracles today!”
Che tu possa godere di tutti i piccoli miracoli ogni giorno!

I hope Mom and Dad are listening to me
speak and learn new words every day.

As I write this all of a sudden a wild rain starts to fall.

Could that be a sign?

Papà e mamma ti amo così tanto!
Dad and Mom I love you so much!

A few minutes later, I try to print out this file. But the only thing that appears is this photo of my parents and me!

Could this be another sign?

Thursday, February 20, 2020


If I could,
I would
plain black
lines scrawled
against the azure sky.

No matter what the
poetree need not
have a reason to
be other than
its vital urging to
stand tall
and call all to see
its full breathtaking

No paper wasted
(ah, trees saved)
Nor ink.
I think today
I am
satisfied that
I saw this sprawling bit
of God's beauty
and I knew enough
to bow down to it, and
be done speaking.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Babies? Boring? Hardly!

Some mornings when I wake up,

this thought comes to me:

"Oh gee, another boring day."

Thankfully, I get up at that moment

and a few minutes later,

armed with steaming coffee in my turquoise cup,

I head down the hall to meditate.

Sitting cross-legged in front of a tall window,

I look out onto the meadow.

And there I unravel

the word "boring."

Before I know it, a little animal, a mink,

chocolate brown in color,

scoots across the stone steps, and then,

dashes back into the woods.

Up above, the morning clouds are tinted pale pink

as they drift across the blue sky.

Birds are swooping and dancing on the lawn.

Pine trees tower over the edge of the meadow.

And here, right beside me is the red
vase of flowers my

husband bought me for Valentine's Day.

Miraculously, they are still fresh a week later.

Now I see how silly a word boring is.

How can flowers and trees and birds and clouds and the blue sky

be boring?

That's like saying a baby laughing and gurgling is boring.

Or that breathing is boring.

Sure, we do it over and over and over again, but whenever I think about it,

I'm always exceedingly grateful for the next breath.

By the time I finish meditating, golden strips of sunlight are lying on the brown meadow.

Tall marsh grasses are waving in the distance.

Once again I realize what a miracle it is just to be able to see!

The sky, the grass, everything around me.

That's the way I start my day,


Awed and full of appreciation,

love and gratitude.

Friday, February 07, 2020


Every once in a while I think I have written far
too many words for my own
I’ll be browsing through the computer searching for this or that
and I'll happen on an old scribble and it will surprise
or maybe even upset me.
Dear God, why the hell did I write that?
A friend of mine once said that she had a dream
that I got swamped (or was it drowned?)
by all the millions of words I have written.
No.  I reject that notion.
I still stand by the idea that writing unclogs your heart and starts you understanding the mysteries of your own mind.

Writing is healing me at this very moment as I do the free writing that well respected researcher James Pennebaker claims heals college students and all kinds of other groups of people. Just write freely about your feelings two or three or four times a week, make sure to attend in depth to what's bothering you, such as right now the frozen feeling within when I gaze out at the lawn and the icy bare trees and the white sky and the grey rock. If I just keep writing and writing and letting my feelings go down on paper and unlock my heart and let it flow, if I do that, my immune system will work better and I will have fewer trips to the doctor.
I have a therapist named Mary M and there is no therapist like her. She is a Jungian psychologist which means in part that she can analyze dreams.

(Last night I had one of my old recurrent dreams about finding my high school boyfriend. Dear God how can I keep dreaming the same old same old _____ for 50 years?)

Anyway, what Mary has done for me in the years we've worked together is mind boggling or heart stopping or popping or something even more profound.

She relies deeply on keeping your heart open, on spirituality on BEING PRESENT WITH YOUR FEELINGS. She works with EFT otherwise known as tapping on meridean points, a very simple technique with profound results.

But to say that's how she's helped to heal me is way too simplistic. Better to say that she has taught me that LOVE IS EVERYTHING LOVE IS AS IMPORTANT AS BREATHING which may explain my fixation of late with hearts in my painting.

Suddenly I feel a flood of fear right here write here about the fear that somebody will come along and read this and decide I'm not mentally stable which of course is a crock of 

(Why do I have trouble saying the word shit?)

Instead, write the word LOVE. 

It happens to be February 7th - one week away from Valentine's Day.

How many trillions expressions of love will there be in the next seven days? 

How many different ways can a person say, I LOVE YOU?

The other day I listened to a Sounds True podcast with clinical psychologist Shauna Shapiro who has a Ted Talk about mindfulness that has been viewed more than1.5 million times on Ted Talks. Basically Shapiro says that it's not just mindfulness (the paying of attention to the present moment without judgment) that we need to practice. We have to practice mindfulness with a LOVING INTENTION.

She talks about how important -- AND HOW DIFFICULT -- it was for her to learn how to say "Good Morning, I love you Shauna." (She has a new book out called Good Morning I Love You.)


"TE VOGLIO BENE, CLAUDIA." It rolls off my tongue so lovingly.

And perhaps it's that achievement that has helped to bring me to this essay today.

I want to say that on Wednesday I had a breakthrough, I wrote a piece of fiction called "LEAH ON THE FROZEN LAWN" and it went deep into the heart of me.

But the real awakening happened a few weeks ago when I finally understood that I can LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT AND NO MATTER WHAT I FEEL I CAN FEEL MY FEELINGS IF I SIMPLY FOLLOW Eckert Tolle's advice. Tolle is the brilliant spiritual teacher who wrote quite a profound tome, THE POWER OF NOW. I pick up the book with all its wisdom frequently during the day. And every time the least negative thought arises 

Bam, I turn to page 192:

"So whenever you feel negativity arising within you, whether caused by an external factor, a thought, or even nothing in particular...look on it as a voice saying "Attention. Here and Now. Wake Up."

Tolle's profound teaching is that the PRESENT MOMENT offers us immediate access to the BEING, the sacred, or whatever word you'd like to use for


He also guides us to "offer no resistance" to whatever you are feeling in the moment.

I first read Tolle's book in 2008 or so but it has taken me all these years to really absorb his teachings and honestly if it weren't for Mary constantly reminding me to feel my feelings I don't think I would grasp The Power of Now right NOW.

So that's my schpeil for today. MAY YOU JUST KEEP OPENING YOUR HEART which is the phrase I wrote over and over again in my journal on Wednesday when I suddenly had a breakthrough in writing about a character named Leah.

Writing about Leah has helped me realize that I can write about my healing journey of the last seven years. Heaven knows there are a gazillionpeopleouttherewritingabout their healing journeys. Does the world really need one more?

Yes. The world needs one more because I was frozen before. And now my heart

and mind are open and flowing.

So be it.