Busy As A Bee!

I’ve just started getting back into creating art again. I don’t know if it’s Spring Fever or that I’m reading old American poetry (The Mentor Book of Major American Poets), or if Nicole has inspired me with her amazing work.

My next show coming up is at the First Unitarian Church in the Williams Gallery. It’s a Church Member show so I only have 1 photo. It’s my gorgeous Windows with Baskets shot. The show runs from April 8 to May 16th.

This super cool show is an anonymous one for the Rochester Contemporary Art Center called 6×6. I jumped into using acrylics this time! One I’ve called Summertime and the other is called ALS. I had a great time & my youngest daughter made something as well! This show runs June 4 until July 10 – but they will have all the artwork on the website for people to purchase for $20 a piece. Proceeds go towards the art center.

If you’ve been following my tweets you’ll see that I’m trying to do a little poetry for poetry month. It was something I thought about doing for a while, but then we needed something for our Poetry Month page at my real job & I thought it might be fun to get people engaged, so far, not so much. Oh well! I encourage everyone to write a few words on Twitter and use #wxxipoems to see what we can come up with!

The world has gone crazy (or how governments get overthrown)

In my “day job” I’ve been spending a lot of time on Tweetdeck watching all our Twitter accounts. I should say that I’ve really just been watching the world revolutionize! Of course most of it is coming from NPR’s Andy Carvin! In the course of my workday, I’m seeing average people around the world using their phones – overthrowing regimes! Mixed in with tweets from The Onion, Duran Duran & Alyssa Milano, were these retweets from real people, talking about protesting to change their government. First it was Egypt, then Libya… Real humans talking about what is going on there at that very moment… Women & children being woken up in the wee hours with tear gas and rubber bullets!

Do these regimes not understand that this life is one of a global consciousness?

Does it mean I’m not a feminist if I love pink?

The other day, my husband told me about a story on NPR about how princesses are bad for girls.

My 5 year old is super smart, artistic, musical AND loves science experiments. She also has been head over heels for Disney Princesses since she was 2! Now isn’t this a lot like the old argument about Barbie being a bad role model?

I remember pretending to be a princess when I was little. Every time I got in trouble, I would hope that someday my real parents would come get me and take me back home to the castle! I loved pink. Later on, my friends and I played with Barbies, and frankly, we never thought anything about Barbie’s freakishly big boobs because our dolls were too busy playing strip poker, getting divorces or becoming rock stars.

It seems to me that being a feminist and liking traditional girl toys/ideas is like being a lipstick lesbian these days. I’m raising 2 daughters. They like pink. Not all girls like pink… I liked pink as a girl… I still like it.

I know my 5 yr old is chomping at the bit to wear makeup and nail polish, but she understands that Mommy says not until you’re older. If some moms took the time to explain commercials and marketing, as well as we have in our house, then perhaps the manufacturing giants won’t be cramming pink down everyone’s throats. Parents are the ones pushing the kids to be older. I don’t plan to have a spa party for my Kindergardener, but the 10th grader is a different story!

Everything in moderation people. Did we get the full princess treatment at Disney World? Hell yeah! It’s a once in a lifetime chance. Treating little girls as if they are princesses, on an everyday basis, is not moderation. Not teaching your daughters about commercialism and consumerism at an early age, is NOT good parenting in our current society.

On the flip side, I enjoy taking care of myself by going to a salon or a spa. I like to be pampered. And what woman on her wedding day doesn’t want to be a princess?! Ok I wanted to be a rock star. But seriously, take back the blame and put it on the parents who can not stand up to their kids!

Moderation, folks –  and education, will keep your girls as girls and to grow into independent thinking women.

On to something less heavy…

…like God & Spirituality!

After all, this blog is about my spiritual journey as well!

I started out as any good WASP, going to Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church of Wheatland (aka Scottsville Union Presbyterian Church) . My mother’s family went to the church as did my cousins that still lived in the area. When I think about church — THIS is the one I know the most. Between weddings and funerals and great Christmas Eves, I fondly remember this church.

There were really only 2 negative memories. (I did get yelled at for shooting a scene for my Dracula movie in college without permission on the grounds there, but that hardly counts! Oh, yeah… I also looked up the minister’s robe to see what he had on under there.) Once, when I had to be baptized when I was 7 because my Catholic father would not allow my mom to baptize me as a baby. When she was divorced she had it done. I just felt really stupid standing there being baptized with all these babies! The other time was when I was elementary school age, maybe 1st or 2nd grade, I couldn’t understand why we had to read these parts of the service where we say how we’re sorry we’ve sinned and done bad things in unison. I remember thinking, “What have I done? I’m just a kid? I haven’t committed any great sin! Why am I saying this stuff?” I felt I was a pretty good girl for the kind of life I had lived through already.

When my mom remarried we moved. We eventually attended the Arcade United Methodist Church. There were no Presbyterian churches around there. Mom said this was a lot like our other church and that when Grandma went there, it was a Methodist church. Honestly, I really don’t know what the difference is even today. The believed in Jesus and doing the right thing for others. At the time we started, the minister was Native American. He had great stories to tell before the kids went off to Sunday school. By the time I was in adolescence, I REALLY didn’t want to go to church anymore. Mom & I would fight about this. Finally she conceded. (I found out later in life that she wished she’d pushed for it more and that she felt that she somehow failed me.)

My close girlfriends in the neighborhood had tried practicing magik for a short time. We were able to do some minor things, but it freaked us out so much that we didn’t do it anymore!

So then, Senior year in High School comes. Some friends of mine were leaving the school when another classmate crashes into them – right in front of the school. I remember I was staying over at a friend’s house when we heard the news. Someone died. It was a boy I had been friends with for many years and had a HUGE crush on. I was shocked. He promised he would take me to the prom. My friends were all crying and upset. I didn’t cry. I consoled them. Until, of course, after the wake.

I know that my friends were trying to be helpful. I did not want to see his dead body in the casket wearing that red sweater that he looked so handsome in. I wanted to remember him alive. After they dragged me to the casket and I saw him lying there like a big doll and saw the 3 roses my mom gave to him in our names (Chris, Tami & Joy), I just couldn’t take it. We went to the car to head over to the funeral at the Catholic church, and I wept. Deep serious weeping. I cried all the way there and through the entire service. How shameful that such an amazing person – who was a year younger than us all –  was dead, taken so quickly. I listened to that service and thought “No. No way is there a God. There is no possible reason that this sweet boy had to die.”

I rejected the priest’s eulogy. And that day, I also rejected the notion of God.

Research Irony

I’ve always loved irony. It’s just one of those things about me.

These days I am both planning my vacation to Disney
AND my demise.

I must say planning for my eventual death seems much easier! Especially after having read the fiction novel The Household Guide to Dying. It’s a fiction piece but it’s really amazing how this author and her character Delia got in my head. For someone who was not terminally ill (the author) she sure was able to relate her character to the way I’m feeling!

It’s got me thinking about all the things I need to settle up before my slow degenerating death. Aside from Disney and the other trips I’d like to take, I still have to take care of the boring details of death and dying. Things like music and passages for my funeral, if and when I want life support and feeding tubes, donating my body to science, organ donation, cremation, creating a will, guardianship, passwords and usernames to important accounts…. List goes on
and on.

Then there’s things I want to give to friends and family beforehand. Which means going through my crap. There’s no good way to ask people what of mine they’d like before I die. Man, I’m exhausted just writing all this!

I need a vacation! Oh wait…

I’m terminal in the terminal

I have been traveling. Since I was diagnosed with ALS, I’ve been to NYC – twice, a “local” weekend retreat, and my big trip alone to Seattle and Portland.

What a hot day and night!

My mother-in-law Dot & me in the City!

They were all fabulous – and exhausting! I didn’t bring a camera for all of them. Sometimes it’s nice to just go experience travel and new places. Thankfully, I do have some cell phone pictures although they look like they were shot with a pinhole camera.

Joy on the deck of the Space Needle above Seattle, WA

Pike's Place Market in Seattle, WA

Joy Eats Voodoo doughnut in Portland, OR

Clearly, I had a great time. I admit, however, that I was terrified to travel by myself now that I am disabled or handicapped or whatever the damn term is. I kept stalling to get my tickets for Seattle because I just didn’t know how I would do it. For the most part people were watching out for me. It wasn’t always the airline staff. Chicago airport was not very speedy in getting me a wheelchair to my connecting flight on the way out and on the way back. The flight attendants were getting pissed off at these guys! I only had my walker broken on the way there but not on the way back. I still need to deal with the airlines for that. Apparently they charged me in Rochester a baggage fee when it should have been free!  Oh, and apparently if you take your handicap parking permit to Seattle, you can park anywhere for free! Is it like that everywhere? So much to learn! I was quite wiped out after all these trips so hopefully. I’ll be able to recover from the next one.

Checked off these from my Bucket List!

2. Visit my friend Michael on the West Coast.

10. Be a tourist in NYC. – I went to see a couple great plays on a hilarious road trip to NYC! And I finally saw the Statue of Liberty. She is awesome! Just an incredible architectural statue. Thanks, Dot for that gift!

Next up — December — Disney World!

Images of Farmwork Fundraising Art Exhibit

Tonight! Come join us!

Muddy Waters Coffee House
53 Main Street
Geneseo, NY

I haven’t exhibited work since the day my 5 year old was born!

I have 4 matted & framed color prints (from FILM no less!): 2 are of grapes in the fall, one is called Mr. Scarecrow (he’s sitting next to a pumpkin) & the last is Key Limes from Key West. (None of these are on my website currently.)

Hopefully, I will be able to tweet from there. A coffee house should by today’s standards have free wifi, right?

Here’s some shots from the night:

Joy Parker in front of 4 Simple Joy's Photos

My friends Lynne & Gretchen have pieces in this same shot. Lynne’s is behind me (sorry!) and Gretchen’s are the 2 on the top left.

Art Opening with The Gang

 

I wanna be pretty

That’s it. As my body slowly gives away…I want to remain as beautiful as I can. I want to keep getting my brows done, my legs waxed and my nails done. Maybe I’ll even have someone else dye my hair! I want to have nice clothes and shoes. I want to go in STYLE! Even though I don’t wear much make up now, I want someone to apply it every day when I no longer can. My Grandma Parker looked gorgeous in the nursing home. I want to wear all my jewelry — earrings, necklaces, bracelets & rings! Oh yeah & my sunglasses – new-style wayfarers and a pair of MDG!

My First Buddhist Retreat – Day 3: 7-25-10

Sunday

Ugh — today is sooo sluggish. All I want is sleep! My roomies are early birds. They were up BEFORE the bell. (Bell rings at 6am – this time I actually heard the bell as I was already awake.)

We broke the rules by whispering in the kitchen. It’s a HUGE kitchen! We don’t know how all the things work in there!

It’s another rainy day. Which is fine by me. Yesterday was hot for that outdoor walking meditation. I’m going to skip it today. I kept falling asleep during meditation afterwards.

Now it’s sunny again. I got my stuff mostly packed. I planned on doing that at the 2pm walking meditation, but I want to get it all together while I’m still able to move around.

Almost time to head back up for teaching/meditation.

One thing I learned from last night, for sure, is Anam is just a guy. That’s it. Which is really all he is saying. “Hey, I’m just a guy – you can do this too!” That, to me, is more authentic than most of these folks here could ever dream of being.

Finished lunch — Pizza! O my god! These people know how to cook! Everything is just so delicious. I wish they could come home & cook all my meals!

This mornings teachings were spot on. He practically named me as someone who profoundly effected him this weekend! Someone who was dying told him they want to live the rest of their lives with awareness. Unless one of the other 3 people were dying, who else can it be? I made sure to listen & not fall asleep.

I just got yelled at for turning the lights on while I snapped a pic on my phone.

My space at Stillwood 1

My space at Stillwood 2

 

THESE WERE TAKEN WITH THE LIGHTS OFF

Well, gees, didn’t hear me complain when you guys woke me up so early. OK so clearly I have some more work to do here. Today is my last day.

This evening we’re having people “Take Refuge.” I think I will do it.

Look up book: Taming the Tiger Within by Thich Nat Hanh — great quotes about death – would like for funeral.

I’m gonna do it! I’m gonna vow to be one with the light  — oh wait — I don’t think I have that correct.  I’m taking refuge. Dedicating myself to moving ahead to find awareness & pass it on.

I did it! I vowed to practice non-violence, to be true to the dharma & commit to the sangha. Or… you should just probably read this Refuge in the Three Jewels. I cried during the ceremony. I opened my heart to let it all in.

This is the last night! I hope I get time to actually speak to some of these people. (Mostly ladies.)

I can’t stop coughing now. Great. The head lama (Ani Trime) just handed me a cough drop. It’s cherry. Bleh. I didn’t know those robes had pockets!

I finally asked about the Prayer Wheel! What a nice idea! Thanks, Larry for the talk!

Well that was pretty much it for my journal (Thanks, Lynne!) After the last meditation session we were all able to talk again so us weekenders could say our goodbyes. It was funny to be talking again and Wendi & I could finally hang out and chat. She stayed the whole week. Maybe next time I could too.

Everyone was so incredibly helpful. Sue brought my bags to my car. Larry had wrapped a gift for me to take back home. It was a beautiful Tibetan mat with with, I think, the silver plate and scissors used in the ceremony. Wendi walked me to my car. So nice and peaceful.

Of course then I made a wrong turn (it was dark when I left) and was lost for 30 mins in the dark forest. I stuck it together and did not panic. Finally I saw NEWARK! I knew I was safe. Who knew Newark was so big? I’d only been to Tom Wahl’s! Once I saw the Tom Wahl’s sign I knew I was on my way home.

So exhausted after a weekend of meditation!

My First Buddhist Retreat – Day 2: 7-24-10

Saturday

I’m starting to feel like the woman from Eat Pray Love. My inner dialogue is driving me CRAZY!

Just had dish duty. Yuk! I hate washing dishes. At least it was only breakfast. My new friend Wendi, has been helping me a lot. She used to watch Nik in the toddler room at church.

Got through a couple more hours of meditation. Anam is a funny guy.

Some thoughts have come up… If life & death are concepts — then what is the truth? (Reality?)

I don’t like to eat & be silent. Eating is for Community!

I’d like to know what the deal is with the prayer wheel.
– Can anyone spin it?
-What’s it for?

Boy it is hot in this sitting area…but cooler than outside.

Oh I don’t know how I’m gonna do this walking meditation at 2pm. I don’t know if it’s on the trails or what. I need an arm to do that.

How does Beth do it? She looks so happy. Beth is my other new friend who suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down. She’s in a wheelchair & she doesn’t let it stop her. I must keep in touch with her afterwards.

I wish I brought my camera. I guess it’s just as well. Keep me off my electronics.

OK walking meditation OVER. That was tricky — especially with all the obstacles on the floor. We went outside. I walked by the garden — just beautiful — recognized lots of plants & flowers, too. They arrange it all so nicely. I made a beeline right to the shade trees. I wonder if the bark was supposed to do that peeling? At least the walk was only 45 minutes. I wish it wasn’t so hot outside. Nice & cool in here in the meditation room. I could use a nap. I wonder when my brain will stop the crazy rambling?!

Oh my goodness — I fell asleep during this afternoon’s teaching/meditation! I then rested afterwards and almost missed the next session!

I got someone in my room now. Don’t know who they are but they took the box of tissues as her own! Grrr…

I guess I’ll see Anam. I can’t imagine what to say.

What a delicious dinner! Pesto & gazpacho! Yum! Kudos to Savory Thyme! Of course, I couldn’t help but think that lunch’s salsa became tonight’s soup! (Thanks, Micah!)

Looks like I’ll be meeting Anam tonight. What am I gonna say? I need guidance to see myself through this illness? I know I’m seeking guidnace — I’m not sure how to ask. Maybe they told him I’m dying. How to proceed…

Oh yeah — and I saw my awareness tonight during Anam’s guided meditation!

Well — I saw him… and … I CRIED. I could barely get it out… & I’m all runny nose, tears coming down — uh what a mess! Smart guy. He told me to turn that DESIRE to live to INTENTION to awareness & enlightenment. He says it’s there — it’s always there. Just need to accept it. Dive in. The body is just a guesthouse. Well, glad that’s over.