Tag Archive: Mindfulness

And so it goes

1420052918So I realized as I was preparing to bid farewell to 2014 that I wanted to give this year the finger. Then I remembered giving 2013 the finger, and thought, Oh dear, am I really that consistently unhappy? And what is it about this year that calls for obscene gestures?

I don’t know. Seriously. I don’t know anymore what words like happy mean. I’m content sure, but stressed. I’m stressed, pretty much constantly, and then the doctors say stress will kill you, and honestly, that can cause a bit of stress, you know?

In 2014 I’ve gained weight while trying to lose (blame age and beer, probably not in that order). Then I’ve gained more after giving up for awhile. I’ve had medical problems that can’t be helped (get your medical screenings please). My relationships take constant and hard work and always seem in danger of mushroom cloud-like disaster. My tendency to want to just get on a bus alone to Anywhere and change Everything hasn’t gone away in spite of all the work I’ve done.

And oh, I’ve done a ton of work this year – vulnerability, anger management, stress management (ha!), productivity, creativity, courage, friendship. I’ve worked on goal setting, on my marriage, on breathing through pretty horrendous emotional pain that I can’t fix, letting go of shame I don’t deserve to feel. (Honestly, the people who help me with these things are proud of me!) I am loved, in spite of trying sometimes to chase people away. We added a third sweet loving dog to our family, a dog who maybe almost completes us, with his messed-up face and adorable attempts to Just Fit In. But he does fit in. I suppose better than I do…

And yes, I even met a Huge Goal I set in the Spring during the Brené Brown Daring Greatly workshop: to read at least one poem out loud in front of Actual People. And it went well!So what? So it hasn’t really been a bad year, that’s what. But holy crap has it been long. That’s the thing I’m trying to explain to the kids these days. Life isn’t really short. Time is only a constant in science and math, not experience. Life is long, and it gets longer – I swear to you each year feels longer than the last, and knowing that all this stress is and will always be a constant companion doesn’t make it any easier to accept as a life partner.

So I’m giving 2014 the finger because it was long, because it’s (almost) over, and because I’m ready to keep moving in the direction my feet are aimed in, the direction I set them in a couple years ago now, or even longer ago really. I’m ready to keep going, I suppose.I don’t want to look back at my Special Moments on Facebook. I don’t want to resolve to become a Perfect version of myself. I don’t want to quit drinking or swearing, or promise to read more or write more or master guitar or take pottery lessons. I just want to keep moving along on the treadmill into 2015 so I don’t fall off and end the ride. I’m honestly very clumsy lately, and falling off feels a lot more likely than it ever has. Guess I better start holding onto the rails. Happy 2015. And stuff.

November Poem-a-Day: Day 22

For today’s prompt, write a release poem. Maybe somebody’s being released from prison or a contract. Maybe a person is signing a release form. There’s emotional and physical release. Animals capturing and releasing other animals. Trees releasing leaves in autumn. And so on.

Catch and release

Come dancing, they said
But I was feeling sick
Worn out on a cellular level
And in need of time to heal

I built a fire and sat in stillness
Until my son came to share
And we talked about absurd things
As we took turns stoking the flames

And I felt better as he made me see
That every alien abduction story on Earth
Is just another fish explaining catch and release
To its disbelieving neighbors

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 18

Prompt: It’s a Tuesday, which means we’ve got two prompts today:

  1. Write a sweet poem.
  2. Write a sour poem.


Wait, wait, don’t rush.
Roll it on your tongue before you swallow.
You can’t rely on just the first sensation
To tell you what you need to know.
Can you taste it as it turns in your mouth?
Which did you first notice, the sour or the sweet?
Please try another bite my love
And relish every flavor before you decide.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 16

For today’s prompt, write an explanatory poem. Back when I took dozens of creative writing courses in college, the mantra was, “Show, don’t tell.” Well, today’s prompt is sort of different–in a way–in that it’s a tell poem, or explaining poem, though how and what you explain may vary a great deal.


It’s better if I just show you
But you refuse to leave your house
And all I have are words
So I’m sitting here wondering
Just how I can make you see
The brush marks in paint
Or the look in a new lover’s eye
Or the way your children’s shoulders slump
While they wait for you to see.
I sometimes wonder what good
These words can do at all.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 13

Prompt: For today’s prompt, write an optional poem. And no, that does not mean that writing a poem is optional today–I know a few of you were thinking it. No, no, no. No, I’m thinking of how some things in life are completely optional; in fact, most things are. So you have options for today’s poem–maybe too many–but can one ever have too many options?


Optional means free, free means alive, alive means jazz…

This is about an unknown poet friend of mine, and the way the only poem I’ve read of his made me feel.



He writes elephants
And I hear the beat beat beat
Of their heavy heavy
Feet on dusty ground.
What a sound.
He writes Jazz
And I’m swept away
Off the porch steps
And onto the lawn.
I want to be that Jazz
And make people dance
Like it’s a hot night
Filled with cool cool beats.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

By all means, paint!

788856“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
~ Vincent van Gogh

“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
~ Charles Bukowski

I make mistakes constantly. This should not shock you. You make mistakes constantly too.

The amazing thing is that I forgive you, at least most of you, utterly, for making mistakes. And most of you forgive me. But do we forgive ourselves? Oh I doubt it.

It starts with the voice that says “You can’t do that…”  Listen to that and you may never try another new thing. If you push ahead bravely, the voice might change the words to “You aren’t good enough.” And then no matter what you make or do, no matter how much the fans of your life might ooh and ahh, and tell you you’re amazing, you’ll think in your heart that it’s not enough. That you’re not enough. And thus, tons of us are walking around with seriously messed up messages rolling through the MP3 players of our minds (I used to call it a tape, but you know, it’s 2014…).

If you’re like me, you may keep trying, but you likely won’t reach out quite as far, because you’re thinking about the falling instead of the sky. You have learned not to trust yourself fully. You may be sure that people will laugh at you for even trying. You may stop trying entirely. And if and when that happens, that’s the real tragedy of your life. It certainly was the tragedy of mine.

And because this is so common, I think we all need to become experts. Experts in what we love, sure, but mostly? Experts in starting over. Over my lifetime, I have kept viewing each restart in my life as the result of yet another failure, another series of mistakes. And I’ve cycled into depression sometimes, crippling frustration others. And oh yeah, the voice in my head starts all over again each time too with “You can’t do that.” So I’m going to start telling that asshole to shut up.

It doesn’t matter if I can do something perfectly, it doesn’t matter if I make more mistakes. I’m here, alive, glowing with the stuff of stars in my atoms! And until I die, I’ll be starting over and over.  But it occurred to me today that this part doesn’t actually have to suck! I’m no Sisyphus!  Maybe starting over is more like a ski trip or a visit to the amusement park than like some stupid boulder going up and down a hill. Maybe it’s part of the journey, part of the ride, part of the plan, and chance after chance to learn new things, to try new stuff, to look at the world with wonder all over again! And maybe it’s one more chance to take up painting.

July 25

This one is meant to be read fast and out loud, like in a poetry slam style…


I wish I had known back when I had amnesty
That no matter what, a broken heart beats a broken family
But reality is anxiously speaking up and reminding me
That tragedies and casualties will always end up finding me

And it’s better to stand up for meaning in this place
Than smother with some sick narcissist’s gaslight in my face
And even though there’s steps I made I wish I could retrace
I’m embracing what I’m given while I mourn what was misplaced

Now every day begins with the serenity prayer
Because that’s all I can control, I’m getting wiser now I swear
Some days I know I’m lucky if all I do is breathe some air
It isn’t fair but there it is, I won’t give in to despair

And now I’m in control of all the things I can modify
Oh it may not be much but I am willing to simplify
I am occupied, preoccupied with trying to optimize
Because my only other choice is sit and passively fossilize

I hope you understand this doesn’t mean I’m not broken
I am damaged and I’m bleeding like my heart is split open
Still I’m hoping that you notice I am living in full motion
I’m devoted to my life and I will live it outspoken

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

July 18


Competitive meditation

You’re engaging in competitive meditation
Along with world peace, you’d like a standing ovation
So you go looking for praise in the way you say ohm
Because you know otherwise that you could’ve stayed home

You might be afraid that I’m calling you poser
But that’s not what I mean, you just need to look closer
Yes I know that you’re after perfect stillness and stuff
It’s just you can’t focus well when your shoes have a scuff

It sounds pretty silly for me to say just be chill
But learning to breathe shouldn’t feel like a fire drill
True, you may look absurd if you are doing it right
But we should all close our eyes when we go searching for light

So forget about others and forget about you
Let go of your fears and learn to take a new view
For it’s when you stop fussing that you’re likely to find
It’s okay to be freaky when you find peace of mind

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

July 8


Some days the air itself smells of dragon’s breath
And the rain really falls from weeping angels
Magic springs from broken eggshells and cracked cement
As billions of living things reach ever-skyward
And fairies gorge on red sugar water hanging from trees

Some nights the Chinese lanterns are portals in the sky
Waiting to take you onward to your Heaven or beyond
And the moon makes faces to get your attention
While the pinprick stars play connect-the-dots
Composing pictures for you to finger-paint upon

Sometimes you notice the strangeness of everything all at once
And your once-solid ground splits itself into rafts
That ferry you off to the Wild Things and Whangdoodles
And finally, in seeing it all so clearly, you say to yourself:
Of course! It all makes so much sense to me now.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

Day Twenty-seven

From Napowrimo.net:
Our early-bird prompt this year (on March 31) was an ekphrastic poem. This is something similar — a poem written from a photograph. There are four below, one of which I hope will catch your fancy. But if you’ve a particular photo in mind that you’d like to use, go right ahead.

I had a particular photo in mind…


“inspiration” picture, a self-portrait

Walking meditation

She walked with purpose along the beach
But in no hurry, well aware that she had time
And the ocean to herself
Just she and her growing shadow
Keeping pace with the rising sun
She was there to say hello

She focused on the details
The damp sand sticking and falling off her bare heels
The waking birds celebrating the day in song
The holes from clams just catching their breath
The pulse of the ocean, coming in waves
Acquainting herself with what she was becoming

She didn’t know, not quite yet
That for the rest of her life
She would reach out for this morning
Grabbing hold of its lifeline
Whenever she was drowning
In the deep well of her own mistakes

She walked with purpose along the beach
Leaving footprints and regrets behind
Knowing that the ocean, regardless of witnesses
Withholds its judgment always
Brazenly forgiving herself more with every step
She was there to say goodbye

She grew more as her shadow shortened
Fueled by simplicity and the certainty
That life goes on, and knowing anything depends
On whether you’re a pelican or a clam
Or a woman on the beach walking with purpose
Through the morning and her life

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

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