Just Breathe

He (sic My father) used to hold his breath and pass out on the streets of Tokyo where his parents were Presbyterian Missionaries. I think he was a little angry: Held breath is the ultimate withholding; you’re not taking anything in, you’re not putting anything out. – Anne Lamott, Plan B Futher Thoughts on Faith.

Has it really come to this?

Freud will have a field day.

I’m having a field day.

Every year I pray and meditate and choose a new word, or scripture verse or phrase for the coming year. After two weeks of semi-fasting from the internet, prayer, retreat, and journaling THE word that resounds in my deepest of spirit for 2012 is “Breathe.”

It’s not that I’m disappointed really , okay maybe a little, it’s just that most years my phrases have been, well I’ll just say it, more encouraging than something as simple as “breathe.”

Here is an example of what I mean:

  • 2003 when I just began working in a church -– Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • 2004 (Isaiah 41:9) – “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’: I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
  • 2005 – My word was forgiveness and letting go. It was truthfully a year spent grieving the loss of friends through death and learning how to forgive others. It was a dark night of the soul kind of year for me. I deleted all my writings and former blogs and got about the busy work of recovering from severe depression.
  • 2006 – “Baptize me, oh Lord, to the criticism of man, that I might one day become immune to it.” – Beth Moore
  • 2007 – Hebrews 10:35-36 – “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded, you need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
  • 2008 – Romans 31-39 – “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • January 1, 2009 – Ephesians 3:17-19. “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – that was a year of exploring what it meant to LIVE with Intention. A year of celebration. It was also the year that I started doing stand up comedy and intentionally studying and growing my gifts/abilities as a speaker.
  • 2010 –  “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” – I spent a year studying ancient liturgy under the auspices of a local pastor and reading authors such as St Augustine.
  • 2011 – Live with Intention which for me translated to Love/Laughter Inspiration Volunteering Encouragement/excercise. – okay notsomuch on the exercise thing, but the rest – I totally nailed that.
  • 2012 – I get one word. Breathe.

 I’m not really amused. My ego wants something grander or more grand whichever than breathe. I want something that will make people stand on their heads and listen to me as if I were EF Hutton himself. “Breathe.” feels so bourgeois really. So ordinary. I’m an artist and a poet, I don’t want to be ordinary I want to be captivating. Shooting a loving smile at my artsy fartsy neurotically insecure yet comical self – Grown up me responds – Yeah well suck it up baby girl — you get to be real this year. Welcome to planet earth. – Grown up me can be a real downer sometimes can’t she?

When I think about it though, it’s actually pretty deep. Held breath IS the ultimate withholding just like Anne writes. I can’t help but wonder, how often do you or I forget to breathe in the moments of life? I hold my breath a lot. Beauty can capture my breath, so can anger and fear. All last week I dreamt nightly of people trying to hug me and my holding my breath. I would write it off as just a silly little dream (or three) but then last night someone I hadn’t seen in a few years grabbed me in a spontaneous hug and — you guessed it – I held my breath until they let go.

I really forgotten how to breathe. No wonder my gut is a mess and my shoulders are in my ears. I will have you know that this doesn’t come as some great and welcomed epiphany. This self-knowledge comes to me with bits and spurts of denial and a great deal of fighting back. While I know how I feel about this new word that landed in my heart, I’m not sure what to think yet – and so I simply offer some thoughts by some of my favorite poets on this whole “breathe” business.

To one who has been long in city pent,
‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven, – to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
~John Keats, Sonnet XIV

He lives most life whoever breathes most air.  ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air.  The organ that serves for this is the lungs that lie round the heart, so that the air passing through them thereby envelops the heart.  Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart.  And so, having collected your mind within you, lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart and, together with this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there.  ~Nicephorus the Solitary

 Now — tell me, how was your Christmas? What did you do? Did you have a good New Years? Do you make resolutions or do you pick words or phrases for the year? Please drop a comment and let me know. Thanks.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. January 1, 2012. No goods or services were given in exchange for quoting Anne Lamott — I just totally dig her vibe as an author – thought you might too. — and yes son, I really used the words “dig’ and “Vibe” in a blog post. HA!

Poetry: The Brag, I Live

I Live

A brag poem, written for Poetry Boot Camp.

I’m not supposed to be here.
I’m only 15 and an average student.
Broken Home
Missing Father
Alcoholic mother
Working to pay my way.
Kids like me
don’t get scholarships over seas.
Until now.
I’m in the middle of nowhere,
Grimslov College in Sweden.
Which is somewhere really
When I think about it.
A holding place with 50 others
from around the world.
I’m in orientation
Waiting to be set free and
chomping at the bit.
The scent of Polo Cologne
And expensive cigars
Sends me over an edge
That I never recover.
I can close my eyes
And still drink deeply
The scent of a man.
Leather, Wood
Tobacco and moss
Mingled with sweat,
fills every waking pour
And I believe I’m finally alive.
I haven’t forgotten her
Half woman
Half child.
Sheepishly,
I remember him.
Eyes so blue they melt the soul
A countenance so kind
That girls swoon.
Yale Boy: A sheep among wolves.
He is wise beyond his years
He satisfies nothing immediate
And points me rather to life.
There will always be boys.
This year is a gift.
Live it.
The fact that I am only 15
And he is 18
May be aiding his wisdom.
Oh, what a year to live.
I live a year of museums and art
Of the pomp and circumstance of the Nobel Awards
And meeting the king
Even if I do accidentally call him short.
I live and swim in the Baltic Sea
Tumbling backwards down a hill
When I my host family strips nude
In front of me.
I live trying wine and Italian food
In Stockholm with friends
Only to throw it up while
Watching The French Lieutenants’ Woman
Because I’m too young to live so quickly.
Stranded
With no money or cell

I live hitchhiking

Back to my town.
Picked up by Iranians,
I live and lie like a rug
convincing them I’m from Australia
and not an American.
I live beneath the Northern lights
wearing only baby doll jammies and ski boots,
because at 16
on top of the tallest mountain I’ve ever seen,
that seemed the appropriate attire.
I live to face down a drunken lumberjack
who doesn’t yet know he’s in drag and tries to kiss me,
by kicking him in the shins with those same ski boots.
I live to see the boys
who weren’t supposed to be in our cabin
jump out of the second story window
like lemmings off a cliff when I run to be rescued.
I live to see Duffy
foolishly stay behind
and receive a black eye
defending my honor.
I live to come home again and chomp at the bit.
I live many years
Through careers
Through marriage
Through sickness and health.
I live in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma
which is somewhere really.
Raising a family
That’s almost grown.
I live and I wonder what’s next for me.
I remember the scent of a man,
wise beyond his years,
and it does nothing to satisfy the immediate.
It just points me to life.
 There will always be boys.
This life is a gift.
Live it.
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved.

Poetry Walking

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.  ~David Carradine

 

Johnny Depp refers to Angelina Jolie as “poetry walking” during a post production interview while filming The Tourist and I love that image. Is he speaking of her body, her eyes, her scent? Maybe it’s the way she carries herself or how she speaks. Poetry walking has an understated sexuality to it as well as sensual imagery.

As a woman this makes me weak in the knees.

As a poet this inspires me.

What *is* poetry walking? I’ll spend a good part of November exploring that.

Writing prompt for my nablopomo sisters – if you are so inclined – what is poetry walking to you?

 

 

Poetry: I Believe

I’m studying voice right now and writing a lot more poetry.  I’ll admit this isn’t the voice I’m used to hearing from myself. It’s raw and unedited. I usually reserve those pieces for my journal.  November is the whole national write a novel month. Rather than write a novel, I’m going to gather, edit, and write my first poetry book.  It’s time.

I Believe

I believe that if our eyes meet across a crowded room and my heart flutters you either have a flask in your pocket or a criminal record.
I believe  that love is a choice and not always an easy one. I believe in skinny dipping, the beauty of the human form, the healing power of creating art, and that laughter is a gift. I believe that green tea is a lousy alternative to a good cup of coffee, that God is real, that I have a purpose even if I don’t always know what it is. I believe that life can only be lived in the now. What was, was. Don’t look back. Trust should be earned and blind trust is detrimental to the soul, that gossip can ruin lives, there are no accidents, there is no such thing as a do-over button, but there are second chances, being able to say goodbye is just as important as saying hello, and I believe that while some fear is healthy
I don’t have to be it’s bitch. Deana O’Hara

Written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All Rights Reserved. 10/23/11

I have a Speech Impediment: Totally Like Whatever, you know?

Speak with conviction…. it’s not enough to question authority, we need to speak with it. – Taylor Mali

I’m taking a writing course right now on finding my writers voice and I love it. What I find interesting is that while people will tell me to write like I speak, I’d rather not. I shared with the group that I speak with a lilt a lot of the time. Meaning when I’m feeling insecure in my surroundings, which is more often than not, I use more of an interrogative tone than an authoritative one. I also abuse commas and semicolons.

This particular speech impediment is not caused by growing up in the 80’s.  Nor is it from some physical attribute such as a cleft palate. No. My speech impediment comes from fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of disagreement. Fear of being thought too forceful, too opinionated, too much, or perhaps too little. I am over coming that one truth at a time.

I discovered Taylor Mali this summer and have fallen head over heals in love with this man’s writing and his delivery. His use of humor and poetry to run home strong truths is like you know, awesome?

Enjoy.

A New Paradigm is on the horizon.

Excerpt from Frogs on the Curtains (coming out in 2012) –

To be handed one’s emotional ass on a silver platter and yet have so little regard for self, that the best revelation one can muster that anything is wrong  is stomach issues, persistent blushing, and chest pain is a travesty. While it is true that artists are capable of being emotionally empathetic to a fault and that our souls can easily be a magnet to acts of spiritual terrorism, we still have choices.

Does one choose to succumb to this warped sense of reality, thereby being a victim of the fractured mirror of others as well as their own learned misogynistic views? Or can the false mirror be broken and a new paradigm created?

Some world views are nothing but a fractured reflection of one’s own self-hatred and false dichotomies.

Unrealistic expectations and lies of others do not define me.

I

DEFINE

ME.

To Know More Than I should

It is said that too much curiosity killed the cat.

That in search for truth,

perhaps we cannot handle it.

perhaps we were never created to.

I used to think it a blessing

to be in

rather than out.

If I knew

touched

tasted

digested

it all

I’d be full.

Full of answers

Full of knowing

Full of life.

Full of certainty.

And I am full.

But not of the right stuff.

I’m full to the brim

with the sad reality that lies are lies

Hype is hype

and all is not as it appears.

You can’t undo a knowing either.

It’s like giving your virginity to your boyfriend

in the back seat of his car in a moment of passion

only to want it back tomorrow.

It simply is impossible.

The wizard was right you know.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

He’ll fail you every time.

Come on Toto

This isn’t Kansas

I’m not Dorothy

and not everything is meant for our knowing.

Save some magic for tomorrow.

And Leave the curtain be.

 Written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. All Rights Reserved. 2/10/11

Poetry: Redeem the Days of Silence

Redeeming the hour
Of words unspoken
Gospels denied
Deeds undone and
Needs overlooked
Would take a life time of wishes.
If you were a simple soul that is.
Confessions made
To cold-hearted clerics
Who hold the words of absolution
Your medicine
and
Your lifeblood
In the palm of their hands
And choose to say nothing
Rip the very fabric of your being;
Causing you to question the heart of God himself.
And yet a stronger soul
Emerges from the ashes of wasted words
And needless silence.
Like the phoenix
You rise
And are reborn.
Carrying with you
A heart for the unredeemed hours
Of your life.
You see the hearts
Of the lost and the hurting.
You speak the truths
you were once denied
To others whose needs are no more
Or no less than your own.
In place of the devils behind
Who left their teeth in your hide
You become the god with skin on
For those who need his touch.
You listen
You pray
You touch
You feel
You tell the only truth
Anyone needs to hear.
God sings over you
Your sins are forgiven
Rest in that knowledge
And forgive those whose own scars
Rendered them silent on your behalf.
You are more than a simple soul
Living on wishes and lies of others.
You are a phoenix
More valuable than silver or gold.
Bought at a price
Redeem the day.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemtion’s Heart. All rights reserved. May 1,2010

I am His Beloved, but is He Mine?

If God could write a Valentine today, what would it look like? What would He say? Would it be flowers and prose? A card from Hallmark, or maybe a rose?

If God were to write a Valentine today, What would it look like? What would He say? Would it be candy or something as sweet? A box of dark chocolates? Now that would be neat.

But that doesn’t quite do it. Its not quite his style. No, He’d probably think and ponder a while. He’d keep it simple. And that would be best.

“Come home to me Valentine, and I’ll give you rest.”

My Dearest Valentine,

You were, and are still, my first true love, created for my pleasure. Your parents gave you a name at birth. I have my own name for you. I call you “Beloved”. Do you know? Do you remember? Or have you forgotten?

I called the heavens and the earth into being with my voice, yet I saved you for my hands to create. I am still creating, making you more and more into my image, even as you live and breathe. Can you feel my touch? Have you seen my fingerprints? Your name is carved into the palms of my hand. Nothing can snatch you away. Not even your sin. I knew you would fall and I created you anyway. I already had a plan worked out from the beginning of time, so that I might keep you by my side.

I came down to be with you. To eat, sleep, walk, dance, and touch you. I gave you my time, my love, and my life. Your time, your love, your life and your faith and more precious to me than silver or Gold. Do you weigh the cost? I did.

Did you see the sunshine I sent you today? I wanted to watch it shine off your hair and in your eyes. Did you feel the warmth? Did you hear the songbirds? I wrote that song just for you. Does my music fill your heart? Yours does mine. Oh, how I love to hear you sing. And that breeze? It’s me caressing your face like I did for Elijah. Did you notice me? Do you hear the leaves rustle in the trees? That’s my whisper. Can you hear me?

I can’t wait until you see what I have in store for you on Easter morning! Will you be there? Will you see me? Or will you miss it? Please be still beloved and know that I am God and that you are my first true love. Would only that I could be yours.

So tell me Beloved, will you be my Valentine?

Love,
God

Copywrite: Deana O’Hara, Red Bridges Home 2009

Back to Silliness – Born Scared

Everyone has an alter ego of some kind. If you don’t, don’t tell me. I do and her name is Pauline. Pauline travels the landscape of my mind – and the MOKA states when asked, bringing her E-Pistol friends Timidity and Fear. Pauline likes to tell people that she hails from the remote town of Rattle Snake Gulch NY. She’s really from Bridgeport – the town next door, but that is such a boring name. I mean it’s in the middle of nowhere. There aren’t any ports and the only bridge they have is the bridge to Rattlesnake Gulch. So like Oklahoman’s who tell people they are really from Texas, Pauline hails just a little down the road and a lot left of center some days.

Most kids got sent to their rooms when they misbehaved. Pauline was sent outside to play in the creek.

You might say that Pauline was Born Scared.

This is her song.

Born scared, of the things that surround me
My brain just astounds me
With the things that it believes

So scared that whenever the wind blows
I picture tornados
And hide under my bed!

Born scared, of all snakes in the water
Of pastors and lawyers
And all circus clowns!

Born scared of mice, rats and spiders
Of white castle blue sliders
and monsters under my bed!

Born scared of the people around me
They’re laughing and pointing
And I have no place to hide.

Born scared, of the things that surround me
My brain just astounds me
With lies that it believes.

(Copyright, Deana O’Hara January 13, 2009 – this blog may not be reproduced without written permission of the author.)