Posted in find yourself, General Interest, Liz Rice-Sosne, memoir, Mental Health, Writing

Personal Change

I once was the target of a nasty online attack.  I dove right into the fight and fought the good fight, then extricated myself.  This was long ago but it remains an unnerving and unpleasant memory.  For the most part I believe that kindness is the way to go.  I made a comment not too long ago in another place where I thought I had no contact with these individuals.  The comment was inane really. OMG – the same attacker – same persons all over again in a new place.  I respond to an attacks.  I do not hold back.  And I do not let people walk on me.  This time however, I chose not to respond. I could have done so and I truly “felt” like responding.  Cattiness, meanness, exclusivity don’t play into my vocabulary particularly well.  Had I chosen to respond, those traits would have been encountered immediately.  Instead I wrote a poem, diffusing my own anger.  I stepped back and ignored the persons comments.

the-schoolyardLike most, I have encountered provocation numerous times.  Planned behavioral changes within have given me the tools to navigate life, to navigate provocation.  The second time that I found myself in this situation (mentioned above) I knew to ignore the nastiness.  I would have found myself in the midst of the same sort of fight.  This situation makes me think about kids today who are bullied online.  I cannot imagine the hell into which kids are placed.  For that is exactly what I experienced, a barrage of attackers.  I also know that at 8 or 14 years of age one does not possess the cognitive abilities to make the choice to ignore their bully.  When one is being bullied one fears being seen as weak.  These feelings may elicit a response from the bullied.  Then the fight begins and the bully keeps pushing and bullying.  Then there may be no clear way out.  This second occasion of bullying made me think clearly about consequences (something a child cannot do).  I knew that no response was the most powerful response.  Instead of responding I chose to deal with my emotions by writing in a creative manner.  Writing about what you are experiencing emotionally can release the negativity within.  Now, the poem below is not meant to be a fine poem … just a release valve.  And that valve indeed opened and let escape some of the steam and pressure of that second experience.  The results were all positive.  There was no negative fallout.

dear poet within
i am having
a hard time
finding you

you seem
to be lost
why have you been
drawn into

a swirl of negative
energy a small swirl
when there is so much
that is positive

try to find yourself
do not get lost
find the massive
positive that exists

extricate yourself
from this one small
negative spin
from one very

small negative person
it wasn’t worth
it then
it isn’t now

– Liz Rice-Sosne 

© 2014, essay, poem, and portrait below, Liz Rice-Sosne, All rights reserved; illustration “The Schoolyard” courtesy of Katrina Joyner, Public Domain Pictures.net

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unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced many friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Culture/History, Essay, General Interest, Liz Rice-Sosne, poem, Writing

A Culture of Blame

Memorial Day in the USA has come and gone.  I have been thinking a great deal about veterans of war recently.  This is probably due to the really awful press about the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Veterans’ Administration or VA)  and Ray Shinseki.  As many know he holds the the post that oversees the VA  The proverbial “they want his head on a platter” underscores the culture of blame in this country – and perhaps worldwide.   I know nothing about Mr. Shinseki, but I do know that there is enough blame to go around.  The change of one man at the top will not right wrongs.

man-pointing-silhouetteThinking about this tragic situation with the VA made me think about the fact that we live in a “culture of blame” in this country.  Watching the news makes it appear that it comes naturally to wish to affix blame immediately for any problem that is discovered among us.  I know it well not just because I have seen it over and over but because I have lived it.  I was raised in a culture of blame.  I know what it feels like to be blamed at a young age for mistakes or problems that may or may not have been caused by me.  I ask myself, why do we do that?  When a problem is discovered anywhere, that problem should be carefully reviewed.  Facts should be gathered.  Then they should be weighed to determine how and where the problem originates.  Pros and cons ought be carefully determined and then decisions made that fix the problem with a solution that makes the entire situation better.  Instead of affixing blame we should fix the problem sooner and faster.  We would then waste less time and make needed changes more quickly.

When I ask myself, “why do we live in a culture of blame?”  I do not have the answer.  Is it a result of the need to be the best and the brightest?  For surely we can be none of those things while we make mistakes.  Is that why we need to make those mistakes belong to another?  That question makes me think back to the time when both my mother and my father stated to me that there are two places in life: “first and last,” with nothing in between.  This was an especially difficult view as they entered their children into competitions during all months of the year.  It is of course a farcical view of life and one that is not true.  This view of life does not allow for mistakes to be made while one is growing up.  And what are the mistakes made along life’s pathway?  They are merely moments of growth.  Without the mistakes that we make, we would not grow, we would not mature and we would not be able to reach our dreams.  Personal mistakes when carefully reviewed and nurtured help us to develop empathy for others.  Empathy is one of the most important of emotions to develop for empathy is the place of caring (for others).

9780226094991I spent two to three years at the VA as a volunteer in 2007 and 8.  At that time I was developing my masters project while there.  I was creating a booklet on creative writing for veterans.  Oddly, due to the bad behavior of the one under whom I served (at the VA) this booklet did not come about.  Instead I was to be responsible for bringing in and overseeing an event.  Upon retrospect, this change was a very good thing.  This event brought to the VA an expert author on creative writing with veterans.  He had spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan leading writing workshops for veterans  I learned a great deal from him.  My initial desire had been to work with young veterans returning from our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Andrew Carroll edited Operation Homecoming.  This book supported by the National Endowment for the Arts is a collection of writings by service men and women at war.  I recommend it to all.  In my opinion we live in these modern times too far removed from our wars.  And they are our wars.  Those who serve are doing so in the name of freedom whether or not we agree with the current war.  The old adage “war is hell” is very true.  If we (the citizens ) are far removed from war, we will confuse the war with the warrior.  We blame the warrior for the war, then we forget that warrior upon their return home.

While at the VA I worked primarily with those who had been to Vietnam or those who had served during that time.  Not all had seen combat.  As a result of war many were not able to engage life fully.  Writing gave them a way to do that.  Writing about your war experiences allows some of the pressure that you experience to dissipate. By sharing your feelings on paper and then sharing them with a class of like minded people,  some of the pressure is released.  That is a healing moment.  It is something that works for any situation, not just war.  I was able to see much of the good that the VA does.  And although my thesis was changed, I had the opportunity to work with someone who truly loved and cared for her patients.  While at the VA I wrote the following poem.

An Observation

at this table
this quiet place
where they write
this flat surface
where poetry
spills
for the hungry ones
those
who wish to leave
their wars
behind
where recidivism
is high
where
eyes are glazed
stares penetrating
where
nothing is
given away
not even longing
empty bodies
hollowed
angered 
in a
fog
they write

– Liz Rice-Sosne 

© 2014, essay, poem, and portrait below, Liz Rice-Sosne, All rights reserved; illustration “Man Pointing” courtesy of George Hodan, Public Domain Photographs.net; bookcover art, University of Chicago Press, All rights reserved

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced many friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in General Interest, Liz Rice-Sosne, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

The Saint Louis Arch . . . A Meditation.

St_Louis_night_expblend_cropped

Credit Wikipedia

I have been up in The Gateway Arch only once. If recall serves the cars are small and remind me of bullets, although this took place long ago and I really cannot say how accurate my memory is today. The car or cars hold few people. The Gateway Arch as it is known is a part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and sits upon very lovely park ground adjacent to the Mississippi River. I prefer to see The Arch from the outside, it possesses a certain overwhelming stature and majesty. The Arch was designed by the Finnish architect Eero Saarinen.  Opening in 1967, it would become known as the Gateway to the West. At that time it was the tallest known monument built by man. I came to St Louis in 1966 from the east coast. The Arch never really meant a thing to me in my early life here in St Louis. It was later when I was a happier person that I discovered The Arch. I say that I discovered The Arch and my camera rather simultaneously, although those facts are a bit loose. The initial photo was not taken by me but is from Wikipedia. I no longer have a photo of the entire Arch. I had fun one day photographing The Arch and then chopping up those photos as an artistic endeavor. I have always found this series to be quite meditative. I hope that you enjoy them.

0101c 48a910IMG_32715c766_155_14

– Liz Rice-Sosne

© 2014, essay and photographs, Liz Rice-Sosne, All rights reserved

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Culture/History, General Interest, grief, Liz Rice-Sosne, memoir, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers

November 22, 1963, Lives in Memory

Haibun

I had been to lunch in Third House.  It was a warm spring day, just the sort of day to leave lunch early and walk in the sunshine.  I ambled over to Second House and plopped down in front of the TV.  I had spent my sophomore year here and I had always loved it – it felt like home more than any other dorm.  However, that day I was a senior, an upperclassman of 17 years of age.  While at Dobbs’ I had lived in each of these Queen Anne houses.  Today I lived in First House.  They were rickety and old, painted a dull boarding school gray.  None the less I was quite comfortable for they represented home for me for three of my four years at school.  I comfortably seated myself on a couch in front of the television.  It might no longer be my dorm, but it still felt cozy and I felt confident, that day so long ago.  That confidence must have come from some of that upperclassman swagger that one acquires as they move though their grades (although, to be honest, I didn’t have much swagger).  It felt strange as I did not have many confident days in my youth.

wild grey geese above

flew in perfect formation

chaos left behind

 

Haibun

I flipped on the black and white TV, there was no color in those days. “Oh My God. What was happening?” I was in an instant state of shock. President Kennedy had been shot right in from of my eyes – in his limo in Dallas, Texas. “Was this true?” There was growing chaos everywhere on the television, then this horrific  event seemed to ebb out of the television and blanket me. It was thick and dark. I knew that I must get away. I had to get up, go back to the lunchroom and tell of the shooting. I thought of our beautiful first lady and what her sadness must be like. It was so hard to move. I made myself leave.

woodpecker knocking

high above in the maple

a chick all grown up

 

Haibun

I ran back to the lunchroom and shouted out the news. I do not remember another thing that afternoon. I do remember crying myself to sleep that night filled with such emptiness, dread and a sense of loneliness. Of late, I have been reading a good deal about the Kennedys. I will never believe that this assassination evolved out of the crazy thoughts of one lone Soviet sympathizer. I also suspect that the full truth of those moments in Dallas that November 22nd of 1963 will not be known by the public within my lifetime.

shells upon a beach

dry cool windy autumn day

creation of sand

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Essay, Liz Rice-Sosne, Spiritual Practice

A Second Spiritual Experience – Part Two

During this time in November of 2005 I communed with a Great Horned Owl and a Red-Tailed Hawk each who each resides in Forest Park.  One evening I was meant to take to the hawk, as an act of thanks, a chicken wing and place it upon a particular iron waist-high pole on the edge of the ball fields. It was Friday night. My husband kindly came with me to Straub’s the family grocery where I shop.  He hung back a bit somewhat embarrassed.  On Friday night the place is mobbed.  So, I got in line at the butcher’s counter and waited until my turn. There was a long wait. When it was finally my turn I ordered one chicken wing.  Everyone else in line hearing my request went nuts: “one chicken wing!”  Well no, actually, “just a half of a wing I did not want the drummie.”  People were looking at me in utter disbelief, as though I had wasted their collective time with purpose.  Once I had the wing I left for the park.  The problem there was that there were police everywhere.  It looked as though I was putting some garbage on a post.  But, I fulfilled the task and had no encounters with local law enforcement.  Aside from my request to God, the other thing that initiated my experience was my long conversation with a Vietnam Veteran.

What this experience in its entirety did for me; was to give to me the actual feelings that many war veterans experience during their times in war.  You might wonder: “how could that possibly be?”  I suspect that I was meant to feel what many soldiers felt during war, because I would later work with them at the VA.  For all of my life, veterans were persons to be thought of on Memorial Day and on Veteran’s day, period. I was conceived immediately after WWII.  So, my relation to veterans was not unusual. After my experience in which I sensed the emotional torment of those who have seen battle I was radically changed.  I studied war. I volunteered at the VA for several years and I gained a healthy respect and love for our country’s veterans. I might add I truly gained a deep respect and love for Vietnam Vets as they are of my generation. I also acquired abhorrence for war. I truly came to understand “love the warrior, hate the war.”  Most cannot enter into that cliché and act upon it. It is very tricky and very difficult for it is so political.   But my experience lacked all political thought or sense.

The other thing that I did was write about 20 poems about war, veterans, acts of war … really anything that came out of my experience that year.  My first poem titled: “A Certain Madness.” It came about during one particular writing class that I taught at the VA.  The poem follows.

A Certain Madness

Each one came, soldier, marine, airman, frog, walking quietly as if wrapped within the cocoon of his own world.

War’s sad energy like a gray, heavy mist lay upon the shoulders of each, reality spiking their dull black piercing shadows.

Each man sat at the table abandoned. 
 “Just a word? Coffee please.  May we write yet?”

And then he stood.
 A large and heavy presence, poorly balanced.

He shouted:  “Don’t you see them?
 There, in the corners … there is one in each corner.”

“How dare they come here?
 I ought-a know. 
I was with the CIA.”

Then he sat down defeated, again. 
 He seemed to relax until another
stream of madness crept out of his throat.

“I will NOT be giving you a sample today! 
 There will be no writing samples. 
 THEY … are here for that reason you know, to collect them.”

And I thought to myself: 
“Does the madness hide the pain? Or perhaps this pain drives one mad.”

© Liz Rice-Sosne

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in General Interest, Liz Rice-Sosne

Waku-Doki

In January (01/20/14), the New York Time’s published an article titled “If Your Car Could Talk, Would it Speak Sensual Clarity?” I was particularly struck by the term Waku-Doki within the article.  I liked the way these words rolled off my tongue.  I enjoy how it feels when I say them, so much so that I thought them worth mentioning.  Following is an excerpt from the Times.  The article can be found here.  

“Akio Toyoda issued a directive asking designers to invigorate Toyota products with “energy, passion, and a sense of Waku-Doki, which was translated as “a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement.”  The Calti studio responded with the FT-1.”

The FT-1 is the 6th car shown in the photo series of this article.  And it is indeed very sexy.  If anything contains Waku-Doki  the FT-1 surely does, especially if you are a wealthy 29 year old guy or in my case a 67 year old middle class woman.  Sure the car turns me on, but I think that the idea of Waku-Doki turns me on even more.  Let’s do a switch-up here.  Let us look again at haiku.  I have never heard the term Waku-Doki used when referring to haiku.  However, for me, getting haiku right produces a sense of Waku-Doki, as I understand it.  Please understand that I might remember only 3 Japanese verbal expressions from my time of living in Okinawa at the age of 21.  Very few words indeed!  Which is to say that should I connect the term Waku-Doki to haiku, those amongst us who do know Japanese might come down upon me with a very hard hammer!  But I like it!  I like the innate simplicity in it, and the innate complexity it holds.  This is what I love most about haiku.  It holds for the writer and reader both simplicity and complexity.  It would appear to have Waku-Doki.

Currently, I am looking out my window at newly fallen snow, just a couple of inches at the most.  The sight inspires me as nature always does. I wish to acknowledge the scene before me with a haiku.  I also wish to incorporate Waku-Doki as I understand it.  So let’s see where this leads to.  Today dear reader, write a haiku that has Waku-Doki … even if it is not appropriate for haiku.  Today pretend!  Be daring … have some Waku-Doki.  You might even want it with some Wasabi!  I have written several haiku below.  The last, written in the traditional 5-7-5 form is the only one that appears to possess Waku-Doki (for me).  Write a haiku or two with “a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement” using the 5-7-5 tradition or not. Then leave your haiku to share with others in the comments section.  Have fun.

Photo Credit: Photo Bucket

1) squirrel inches deep in snow – flies off the branch for a nut

2) new fallen snow – warm water in the sunlight

3) snow falling – each flake different until they meld into water

4) a billion snow flakes

    meld as one when they become

    a wave of water

 – Liz Rice-Sosne

© 2013, essay and photographs, Liz Rice-Stone, All rights reserved

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Essay, Liz Rice-Sosne, memoir, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

I Imagine …

I imagine Mummy

She is listening for Doodle Bugs

Running past St James Square

They make a swooshing noise before

Hitting their targets

Windows are darkening now

As she scurries by them

Like a mouse

Shades being pulled down

All light receding and gone

She is heading towards St Paul’s

She is meeting with a friend

At the statue of St Ann

Dinner was to soon follow

Constant gray clouds of dust

Engulfed her in dirt

London was under

Aerial bombardment

The Luftwaffe would spend

Fifty-seven nights

Bombing this great city

Wishing to eradicate it

From the face of the earth

This symbol of London and God

But London endured

St Paul’s remained standing

A symbol of British

endurance

Mummy lived to return home

To the USA

But I still imagine

I still wonder

Was it the war that

Shaped her personna

Making her harsh

She once said to me

During a phone call

With Mummy

Not long before her death

She told me that

The war was the most

Thrilling period of her life

I understand that feeling

I know what she was saying

She is gone

St Paul’s is standing

London thrives

Yet still I imagine

We all must come to terms with our upbringing.  For some there is more pain to work through than for others.  I had what one might call a proper upbringing.  Yet still, one filled with much pain.  My mother was not in London during those 57 nights of the Blitz.  This was of course poetic license on my part.  However, she was living in London during 1943 and 1944 in WWII.  She became a lifelong Anglophile.  This fact set up some difficult goals for her children to attain for they were not British (and we came after the war).

Sometimes due to her scrapbooks I feel as though I was there, in London during the war.

There was a time that I knew nothing about war.  A spiritual experience that I was willing to have in 2005, dictated that I learn about war.  Mummy never spoke of her work in London during WWII.  She worked for the US propaganda office or the OWI – Office of War Information.  I really never knew until I found two scrapbooks while cleaning out the family home.  Finding these scrapbooks made me realize what a vary brave woman she had been.  As a result, instead of harboring resentment towards her (resentment that she earned) I came to have significant admiration for her.

I wish to redo these books as they are in a state of disintegration.  However, it is exceptionally difficult for me to work with them.  I am very emotional about the subject.

Politicians never give thought to the consequences of wars into which they enter.  They have no clue as to the gravity of the collateral damage that accompanies their warring ways.  The United States of course had to enter WWII.  But, Hitler did not have to begin The War To End All Wars.  That war like so many have touched people down through the ages, times long past the end of the war in question.  War shapes people for generations to come.  Peace begins at home.  Not in the country, the state or the city.  No peace begins in the heart of the individual.  For it is when you get peaceful individuals together, one at a time that real peace begins to grow into a movement.  It becomes sizable and a peaceful nation is born.

The following paragraph is taken word for word out from Wikipedia:

“On 31 December, the Daily Mail took the unusual step of publishing the photographer’s account of how he took the picture:[

I focused at intervals as the great dome loomed up through the smoke. Glares of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two I released my shutter.”  – Herbert Mason

Stpaulsblitz

© 2013, essay and photographs, Liz Rice-Stone, All rights reserved

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE

Rainforest_Fatu_HivaPLEASE JOIN US: Beginning at  7 p.m. PST this evening, we are celebrating Valentine’s Day with love – not the love of and for another person – but our love for our mother planet ….

WE INVITE ALL writers, poets, artists, photographers, musicians and other creatives to join us at The Bardo Group for our Valentine’s Day event, BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE. Link in your work that shares your appreciation for the beauty of nature or your concern for environmental issues. You can share the url to your post via Mr. Linky, which will stay up for seventy-two hours. Corina Ravenscraft (DragonDreams) hosts. Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day) will visit sites and comment. We hope you will also visit others and comment on their work, lending support and encouragement and making connection.

If tonight is date-night for you, remember that you do have seventy-two hours to link your work in. It doesn’t have to be a new or recent piece, just something in the spirit of the event, something that expresses your love of our planet.

Photo credit ~ Tropical Rainforest, Fatu Hiva Island, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia by Benutzerseite: Makemake via German language Wikipedia under CC A-SA 3.0 Unported license.

Posted in Liz Rice-Sosne, Photo Essay, Poems/Poetry, Shamanism, Teachers

Traveling to Macchu Pichu

There is something truly wonderful about travel.  I have been blessed in the past to be able to visit a number of other countries.  I have been to Egypt, France, England, China, Mexico, Switzerland, Bolivia, Peru, Spain and I lived in Okinawa for a year.  The Okinawa year was when I was quite young and with a former husband, not a really, really great experience.   David and I never really traveled as Americans.  We have always been aware of the “ugly American syndrome” and truly did not wish to participate in it.   We did not make any reservations other than airline.  Although to be honest, I brought that sort of travel to an end in 1996 when we arrived in Seville without Hotel reservations after having driven from Madrid.  I was 50, it was hot, we were dirty and very tired.  Exhausted, looking for a hotel while driving down streets no wider than the car was not my idea of fun.  But we survived and we were introduced to Tapas.

Travel, if you allow it to do so will open your mind to the rest of the world.  You will see people other than those to whom you are accustomed.  You will see things through their lens.  When visiting ancient cities or ruins should you take the time you can see things through the lens of those who once were.  I believe that travel builds compassion, empathy, sensitivity, mercy and tolerance towards others within the individual traveler.  Traveling is about real connection with another culture.  Visiting Machu Picchu was something that I wished to do since I was 8 years old.  I did not grow up with a television but instead had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine.  How I loved it.  It opened up for me new vistas and made me aware of the world that was “out there.”  I had my first yearnings to connect with others, different from myself.

It is difficult to select a favorite trip.  I remember incredible aspects of each country that we have visited.  Below is a poem and  a few photos from one of my favorite trips:  Machu Picchu, Peru.  I was privileged to be able to engage a native shaman while on my trip to Peru.  At Machu Picchu my husband went one way and I another to do ceremony with the shaman.  Later we met up and navigated the mountain.  One of the important things that happened to me while there was that I lost my rapidly growing fear of heights.  The only way up the mountain was by bus.  The road was one bus-wide.  Looking out my window straight down the  mountain face was frightening.   Really frightening!  It was at that point that I said to myself, enough!  I will no longer be afraid of heights!  By the time that I was on top of the mountain my fear was gone.  I knew that this was true when I walked up to the edge of of the plateau and dangled my foot over the edge.  I was so grateful for that loss, it was life changing.

Still, stillness now

Quiet, center … centered now
Go deeply within
yourself.
Slowwwwww … ly
Deeply quiet.
Deep within
Space consummation.
Not hurtling … no, not hurtling towards the void.  But slowly advancing.
Slowwwwly … condense all thought.
Become nothing.
Find
your place
your opening
mo v  v v v e  slowly towards
your opening.  Be still.
Enter.
Slide
down
through
the tunnel.
LAND.  Quietly.
Summon … your Power.
Summon your … Animal.
Let.
Let him/her
Now take you into the void.  Void.  VOID.
CIRCLE … find what you need.
bring it back.  BLOW.
Rattle … feather.
Return now … open, open, open … your … eyes.
6uv MP
The rocks carved to mimic the mountains in the foreground.
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Surrounded by the Andes.
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One could quite literally reach out and grab the clouds.
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One of the two mountains on top of Machu Picchu.
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Another view as the day moved forward and the mists lifted.
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Unique perspectives!
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An ancient alter.
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A view of the terracing.
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Looking down, no longer afraid!
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Doing ceremony with the Peruvian shaman.
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This is one of my favorite photos.  Rain was upon us.  We took cover in one of the nooks and crannies looking up at the sky covering us all.

– Liz Rice-Sosne

© 2013, essay and photographs, Liz Rice-Stone, All rights reserved

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”

Posted in Essay, General Interest, Liz Rice-Sosne, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Spiritual Practice, Writing

Haiku – A Spiritual Experience

600px-Poecile-atricapilla-001I am sitting here trying to remember what prompted me to write one haiku per day during the first 6 months of 2012.  I was ill, that was the first reason for doing so.  I wished to remain connected to my writing community, keep alive my connection with the friends that I had met online.  I knew that I could not manage an article daily so I needed to write something short.  I decided that haiku was the answer.  Was there any shorter form of poetry?  The learning and the writing that year became for me a spiritual experience.  It taught me to see the world through a new and different lens.  I am so grateful for this experience

I have always been drawn to haiku even when young.  What can be said in 17 syllables, those three short lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables?  It would be easy – just compose three short lines of poetry a day.  Those thoughts will tell you just how little I knew of haiku when I began.  Experience has shown me that many Americans have little knowledge of haiku seeing it simply as three lines of poetry with the 5-7-5-syllable count.  If seen this way the reader and writer of haiku will never be fully satisfied.

The first thing that one should know is that the syllable count fits Japanese words or syllables.  Japanese words or syllables are nothing like English language syllables.  When attempting to write a haiku there are many things to consider before considering the word count.  The second thing that I learned is that it is often written in one line.  Just one.  In Japan that line is often written from top to bottom.  It is vertical.  I do not write vertically.

Poignancy in haiku is important.  The most important thing about haiku for me is very hard to put into language.  For I see haiku as a language all its own.   A haiku ties things together.  Haiku conveys the depths of nature’s beauty and its power.  Haiku shows ones relationship with nature.  One haiku can express in a few words what it might take a psychologist an entire magazine article to profess.  Haiku can evoke within the reader new understanding.  I equate haiku to light.  It can dazzle in brightness.  It can illuminate a path.  It can act as a halo separating yet conjoining reader and writer through the poem.  You are placed within the poem.  Haiku connects the ancient with the modern, the light with the dark, and nature with man/womankind.

The book to which I turn most often for reference is “The Haiku Handbook, How To Share Write and Teach Haiku,” by William J. Higginson.  I would go so far as to say that he has he has “lived” haiku, making his teachings easy to understand and to apply.  When writing haiku my goal is to be living in the moment, to be “living haiku.”  It is a spiritual moment.  I wish to express that moment to you so that you feel what I feel.  I believe Higginson tells us that haiku is about the eloquence of sharing those feelings.  It is easy to say to your friend: “the sky is beautiful.”  But in doing so, you do not really convey what you feel.   Nor are you conveying any degree of real beauty.  According to Higginson, when we share the depths of what we feel through haiku we are building community.   What more important act is there?

The first thing that I do when writing a haiku is search for a kigo.  A kigo is a season word and mandatory in haiku.  Your haiku should be driven by what you feel for your subject and your choice of kigo.   I view the kigo as an anchor.  There are numerous kigo databases online.  New words are always being added.

We have just experienced a foot of snow here in the midwest.  The last time we had so much snow was 1982.  This is an immense weather event here.  Along with subzero temperatures accompanied by wind many of us are pretty much homebound.  I would like to share this large weather experience with you by writing a haiku.  I edit and re-edit before I am happy with them.  Each of these are a part of my process for creating one haiku.

wall of snow – broken branches dangling from trees (this sounds awkward to me)

or

deep white snow – hidden branches (this coveys little feeling)

or

drifting snow – a chickadee’s cap (this possesses the essence of what I am looking for)

Final haiku:

blowing drifting snow – chickadee’s black cap

– Liz Rice-Sosne

© 2013, essay, Liz Rice-Stone, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Black-capped Chickadee via Wikipedia and under CC A-SA 3.0 unported license

unnamed-2LIZ RICE-SOSNE a.k.a. Raven Spirit (noh where), perhaps the oldest friend to Bardo, is the newest member of The Bardo Group Core Team. She is also our new Voices for Peace project outreach coordinator and our go-to person for all things related to haiku.  She says she “writes for no reason at all. It is simply a pleasure.” Blogging, mostly poetry, has produced numerous friends for whom she has a great appreciation. Liz is an experienced blogger, photographer and a trained shaman. We think her middle name should be “adventure.”