Modern Jane

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Cycles of Life

I took this photo nearly 10 years ago, and still never tire of looking at it. It has a quality that is ever-relevant to life for me. As I approach my mid-30's, I find myself constantly evaluating my life. The 1st 10 years were enchanting. Living in a large, slightly hazardous, Pippi Longstocking-like home of 9 people, my memories are painfully wonderful. The beach, the sprinklers, the ice-cream man, home-made Halloween costumes, VW bus trips across America (the first at 3 months old, with my 12 year old brother driving when mom got too tired). Even the bad memories are somehow good. Like getting my mouth washed out with soap for saying "stupid", only to be given a popsicle right after. Or the time I cried my heart out because I wanted so badly to be a bird, and realized it was a pipe dream. Mom made me feel better by reminding me that if I was a bird, I'd have to eat worms. I thank God, everytime I pray, for letting me be born into the family I have, always with these memories in mind.

Over the next 10 years, life took a complicated turn. I hate to think of the reality of my teen years. I developed a terrible self-image, had no confidence, and made terrible choice. The less said, the better. If I am lucky, those will remain the worst years of my life.

Then, right on cue, I turn 20, begin to discover myself, and meet the love of my life. My 20's were a time of great creativity. There was photography, painting, music, writing, and a discovery of reading...real reading...change your life reading. But this exploration was coupled with naivete, which led to an inevitable rain on my parade. I defined myself more by what I was not, rather than by what I was.

And then I turned 30. After the initial shock, I began to quite like it. There was a certain confidence in my step, an assuredness in my opinions. I began to finally realize who I was, truly, and for the first time in 20 years, I actually began to like myself again. In my 30's, I feel comfortable in my own skin, which is priceless. I also feel a greater connection to the world and the universe at large, and the role I might play in it. Which brings me back to the whole contemplation of life, frogs on the bench thing. I feel I'm nearing a crucial impass, and the decisions I make will be particularly significant to the rest of my life. But why worry about what's to come? I'm finally learning to live in the moment, and it ain't so bad.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It Started as a Prayer Shawl...

Shortly after Christmas this year, I was admiring what I thought was a small knitted blanket that my aunt had made for my mother as a gift. When it was explained that it was a Prayer Shawl, I became intrigued. I found out that my aunt meets once a month to knit with a group of women. As they knit, they pray with a particular person in mind. When the shawl is completed, it is given to the person as a gift. Being attracted to the meditative aspects of both knitting & prayer, I was excited to begin a prayer shawl of my own. As I perused the rows of yarn, I didn't know who my shawl would be for, only that it had to be beautiful, colorful, soft...which of course led me to a very expensive choice. Luckily mom was there searching for her own yarn, and generously offered to pay.
As the weeks went by, I found myself knitting more & more. Still unsure of who the shawl would be for, I would knit & knit, relaxing and contemplating life with each row. It had been a difficult number of months I'd been through. I had made a career move which turned out to be extremely stressful and unfulfilling. With the threat of a nervous breakdown ever looming overhead, and ominously symbolic dreams of doom every night, I sought out the help of a psychologist. On my first visit, I couldn't speak for the first 10 minutes or so, my tears and sobs wouldn't allow it. After several sessions, I was given medication to treat my anxiety, which helped quite a bit. But overall, I was still unhappy. I even began to smoke, which I hadn't done in years and years. And then one day, in the mail, I received a catalog of extension courses. Flipping through it, I happened to stop on Yoga, something I did ages ago, and loved, but had quit when my teacher moved to Mt. Shasta. It was a local class, and a great deal, so I thought, Why Not? The movements and breathing came back to me like I had never stopped going. It felt wonderful. I quit smoking almost immediately, and developed a daily routine of yoga & knitting. As my prayer shawl was getting close to being done, and I wrapped it around my shoulders to see how the length felt, I realized two things. One, that this prayer shawl was meant for nobody but me, and two, that I would keep going and turn it into a meditational blanket. I doubled the length and now use it at the end of my yoga sessions, when I lay down to meditate. It keeps me warm. It is soft. It is beautiful. And it's for someone very special.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where History meets Memory


PixieRose Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


To make a Modern Jane:
1 part Jane Austen
1 part Buffy Summers
Mix well.
Simmer on low for the better part of the 90's.
Sprinkle in a dash of Elphaba (for color)
& place on a pedestal of 10,000 origami cranes.