Love Is…

Love is…

never forgetting

always wondering
asking

making time
forgiving

surrendering to life

profound

constantly moving
unselfish

never cruel
taking chances

listening

a gentle caress
a sensual kiss

a reassuring glance

a rollercoaster ride

a pool of confusion
foolish in the eyes of many

sad for those who know it not

an emptying of souls
a filling of hearts

unpolluted whispers
wings of freedom

infinity

bare feet on warm silky sands

bananas in your cereal
a good beer and Mexican food

chocolate on ice cream
a popsicle in the summer

orange juice with breakfast
sunshine on a crystal clear stream

a day off in hectic times

smiling freely

feeling playful
dancing in the rain

swimming in the moonlight
making love under the stars or in the sun

feeling the open air on your skin

embracing your life

finding your way in the darkest of times
Knowing you are not alone

This all is Love

Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

5 More Minutes

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I woke up today, did my yoga, took my shower, had my oatmeal and my luscious rich morning coffee. The air was perfect. A slight breeze wafted through the windows and the sun glared just high enough on the glass to glow but not shock my eyes. There was a healthy silence; one saturated with calming energy and a peaceful fullness.

My husband wandered in with his coffee and sat down next to me. He took a deep breath and we smiled in a silent understanding then closed our eyes for just 5 more minute before we had to start our busy days.

These are the times I acknowlege the gift of my new home, the comfort of my couch and the security I have built in my life.

Namasté

©NicholeDonjè

By the River’s Edge

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Walking down the village main street of Cold Springs. It smells like vacation: a faint scent of firewood and river tides. That sticky cotton candy smell a dropped ice cream cone gives after sitting hours in the August sun. An Elvis tribute artist plays at the Silver Spoon Cafe drawing us back to simpler days. There’s an air of excitement. Fireworks tomorrow; I envision children running up and down the street with sparklers as energetic mutts chase their tails.

I smile silently. My heart is quiet, beating softly as we hold hands like high school kids just discovering the twinges and jitters of true love. By the river’s edge he points to look up, the stars reel quickly toward the horizon. We watch as they disappear in the distance one by one behind the silhouette of the Storm King hills. Our closeness is silent, our lives content.

Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

Haiku Mondays

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Haiku 12

A lost family found
Struggling with pain and change.
Time healing through love.

Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

A Given Day

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On an amazing Saturday in Miniwaska State Park my husband, niece, 12 year old rat terrier Shyann and I went on a quiet yet complex hike up to one of our favorite points, Millbrook Mountain. The trail has some steep inclines and ragged, rooted, rocky paths. I will admit I was exhausted by the time we reached the top, we all were, but it was well worth it.

Along the way we stopped to catch our breath in a hollow. This is one of my most beloved spots in Miniwaska so far. The way the sound of the river softly mumbles as the birds serenade begets a calmness that only nature can induce. The air there is always slightly damp and cool, a retreat from the humidity that besieged us after exiting our air-conditioned Prius. We sat on the moss covered stones, searched for unique rocks (the best and cheapest souvenirs available), laughed and bathed in the muted voices of the trees.

I wandered taking photos as I often do in these woods.  This place is my creative muse. I watched as my niece retreated up along the brook alone. She sat on the rocks taking it all in so quiet in her beauty. It warms my heart to see her enjoying this special place, calm; knowing that it soothes her as it does me.

She’s was with us for the week and we had all been looking forward and excited to share this place. On the way we picked blueberries and discussed how different a “real” blueberry tasted in comparison to store bought. There is nothing like plucking the berries of the bushes and wishing we had them at home all year long. There are so many in those woods. We were actually able to continue to moisten our palates with berries on the long hike after drinking all our water.

At the top we sat and watched the eagles glide, mediated and warmed in the sun. The air was so much clearer up there, less humidity and more breezes. We sat for quite a while refueling our energy sources for the trip back. I wish we could do this with her every week; escape into the real world and renew our souls. For now we have this day, these memories of an amazing young lady full of dreams and desires, delectable blueberries, two middle aged hippie wanna be’s and a 12 year pup who now only goes one way…we had to carry her down!  

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Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

Check out these books!

I love books! For me, like a great movie, they get me excited – move and inspire me. I want to share a couple of books I’ve read in the past few weeks and for 2 very different reasons. One is non-fiction and the other fiction…though funny enough they have an unintended connection.

The books are The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Not A Self Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu by Yi Shun Lai.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’m actually a big fan of leadership and self-help books as I am on the constant road of personal discovery. A friend gave me the Happiness Project to read during my recovery. It was a good choice. I wouldn’t say it is the best self help book I have read, however I really enjoyed her personal perspective and her process of finding new ways to bring more joy into her life. There are a lot useful guides and ideas and a ton of pertinent quotes…which gets me every time! I also really enjoy that the author has a blog. Her followers offer an additional perspective on Rubin’s personal journey. What I found most interesting is how she and the book have inspired others to create their own Happiness Projects, god knows we can all be a little happier. In fact she’s inspired me to start (or add to) my own project (more on that next week). I am addicted to ideas and people who can inspire others to make their lives better.

Not A Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu by YiShun Lai

I actually have a personal tie to this one, a friend wrote it! It is her debit novel and I can objectively say it’s awesome! Making this all very exciting for me. The book is written in diary form and Ms. Lai’s unique voice is so clearly expressed; from witty sarcasm to the unique brand of self reflection in her main character Marty. The novel draws the reader in immediately on a clear ride of self reflection, family, cultural dynamic and personal growth.

Being a lover of self help books myself I can relate to Marty’s addiction to them. In each step in Marty’s journey as she faces a challenge, Ms. Lai includes the advice Marty has taken from the many books she has read. I love how she includes the title and location where it was bought and the cost (“Dreams Unwoven, Strand, $14″) . It adds to Marty’s quirky personality.

What I truly enjoy about this book is that it about a real person with all too real experiences. She is funny, quirky, confused and flawed. There is something so relatable about Marty. I personally found her relationship with her mother, a key plot driver, both frustrating an moving. The relationship between a mother and daughter is incredibly complex, especially when a parent’s life circumstance contains so many multifarious components; age, career, family, status, culture. We as children don’t and often can’t see why our parents are the way they are, only how it relates to us. It is difficult to take a step back. They are the parents and we are simply in search of love, support and understanding (the way we have been taught it is supposed to be by our all too lofty American standards) and it is too painful to look past being hurt to want understand that often it is our mother/parent who is struggling. They are doing the best they know how.

It is amazing how fully culture shapes who we are. In Not A Self Help Book, Mama is truly shaped by her Taiwanese culture, while Marty is American and living in the world with those ideals. However she must adapt to a belief system that is or at least seems foreign. I myself, though not to the extent, related deeply to Marty’s struggle. My mom and I come from South Boston (home of Whitey Bulger, The Departed (based on Whitey Bulger), Good Will Hunting and memoir All Souls  by Michael Patrick MacDonald- another GREAT book by the way!), which at least in the past bread a culture of privacy, anger and distance. One was taught that you do not speak about one’s business, if you do you are branded a traitor. It somehow deems your own life and experiences insignificant when your memories and experience are not yours to share. As family its all interconnected,  often there is not one without the other especially when that person is a huge part of your life. Ms. Lai  successfully shares the complicated, confusing and desperate need to both separate and connect to the key human in our lives. She does it with humor, witty sarcasm and true compassion. When I started the book I found it difficult to find anything redeeming about Mama and by the end I had honest compassion and wanted to know and understand her as I have begun to do with my own mother.

To anyone looking for a great quick and fulfilling read, the perfect vacation book this summer, do not hesitate to pick up Not A Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu by YiShun Lai which is, by the way #3 on the Small Press Distribution List! I think that speaks for itself. You’ll not only be supporting a great independent publisher, Shade Mountain Press…you won’t be sorry!

To purchase the book simply Click Here

For anyone in NYC YiShun will be signing at Word Up July 21st @ Amsterdan & 165th, I’ll be there!

Namastè
Nichole Donjè

Life Poems 6

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A quiet haze fills the room. Mom’s voice is soft, her face dim. Goosebumps cover my arms as she walks me through the deafening silence to the big leather chair and draws me in. It’s cold and I don’t want to look at her. It’s all wrong. I stare at the floor watching the roach scurry across the painted wood like it has no care in the world. Her breath burns the back of my neck as the painful words enter my head, “Grandma’s gone”. A rush of heat climbs my spine from my belly to my eyes as the tears fall forth….So this is death?

©NicholeDonjè

Letters to Loved Ones

Dear Grandpa Petros,

I do say I wish I had had the opportunity to know you.  I didn’t even get Grandma long enough, as I’m sure you know she died when I was six. I want you to know I loved her with all my heart. She never did learn English, but we understood one another in our own ways. It would have been great if she taught me Lithuanian, but she wanted me to be an American; language and all. I would have loved if she could have told me about you in her own words.

What I knew of you was through the black and white photos she kept on the windowsill. They were covered in writing I didn’t understand, but it felt meaningful. Unfortunately a few of them were of you in your coffin. I can’t say I understood why those pictures were taken never mind displayed. I learned later it was a common thing in the old country. I tell ya, it’s creepy! Fortunately there were others. There was one of you in a uniform and another with a group of people, your family. You always reminded me a lot of my cousin Jimmy minus the height (he is quite tall). My understanding is that you were far under six foot. On the other hand your strong jaw, jet black hair and pale blue eyes would have made any young lady swoon.

Many of my mom’s memories are from after you got ill. They are seen through the veil of a heartbroken teenager who had to care for aging and fractured parents. I’ve heard tales of your strength as a young man and lifting a horse on your shoulders, that you were one of many brothers and sisters, that you were grandma’s second husband and that you helped others to escape before the war. The biggest and oddest fact being that I was born Feb 1, 1972 at 3:45pm and you died Feb 1, 1962 at 3:45am…very weird, a little creepy and coincidentally creating a very cool and unique connection for us.

I know when you came here you had big dreams that failed and that you never recovered. I’m sorry life was so hard for you here. It’s heartbreaking to know how much you lost. Mom says through it all you were passionate, angry and stubborn but full of love.

I want to say you thank you for coming to me in a dream. I know some people think Oiji boards and paranormal experiences are nonsense, but I will always cherish my experience. I used to play the Oiji board with a couple of dear friends in college. One night after a very intense experience each of us in a single night had a unique encounter. Mine was unforgettable. In the dream I entered grandpa Nick’s restaurant, people and cigarette smoke everywhere. I walk straight through as if I was being drawn through a maze and there you were. Hand out and smiling. You waved me to you. I can’t say I understood your words, but as your arm wrapped around my shoulder and you shook me and laughed I instantly felt your pride and love.  It wasn’t a normal dream. It was peculiar from the way it felt to the memory of it. I thank you for that; for the few moments with you that live in the back of my mind.  It was a gift and I have never witnessed anything like it since.

All that said, I hope you have found joy and peace. I’m not sure what I believe about the afterlife other than I know it exists somehow in some way. I’d love to think I will meet you again, that you are with the family and your friends laughing and sharing stories, taking care of Auntie Bertha and watching over all of us. I don’t really know though. What I do know is that you are out there in some way or form, an energy I get to share. Know that though we never met in this life you have always been in my heart and a huge part of who I am and I miss you.

I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I would like to ask you for one thing. Your daughter, my mom has had a tough go of it in this life. Maybe you could send some loving and healing energy her way. She’s trying but she could use the support, your support; an internal nudge, quiet inner moments of joy, a little epiphany in a dream…whatever you got. Thank you.

You are always in my heart.
Nickie

Life Poems 5

The Wizard of Oz and the Monumental Mission of a Five Year Old

Each year near easter the giant console in the living room became a gathering place. It was the only time the family came to our house. We had the color tv and I believed with all my heart that deep down I was Dorothy on a monumental mission to save the world, so I had the biggest pull.

The adults would get the black leather couch and chairs as all us kids gathered on the floor with pillows waiting for the magic to begin. My heart would pound as the music began and Kansas, in whimsical black and white, filled our eyes. It was my favorite time of year. The spectacle drew me in and my mind overflowed with phantasm of it.

I regularly convince my cousin to play Wizard of Oz with me having the explicit agreement that, next time she get to be Dorothy. It was never a long journey since I never reciprocated and always insisted she be Toto. I’d convincingly plead, “Whats Dorothy without Toto?!?”.

That world was unlike anything I knew; brilliant colors, fabulous voices and terrifying flying monkeys. I was fueled, enchanted, driven to find my yellow brick road and wondrous friends. To be in a place so different from where I lived where evil monkeys equaled mean boys, the wicked witch was my Nana, and sirens where the whirl of the tornado outside my window.

©NicholeDonjé

On Art and Consequence

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I didn’t I realized how strong my need to protect was. I am removing the layers of my life choices and recognizing how my ethics have both driven me forward and held me back.

I was raised to be an artist. Creativity was sewn into the fibers of my life carefully and with purpose. The issue is that somehow those threads were infused with rules. Rules stifle the mind. They tighten on the heart and make it difficult for blood to flow. The brain seizes. Art cannot be tamed or smothered. It needs at its essence to bare the truth of whatever process it’s driven by. The goal needs to be to share the story, not the tamed version, the true version.

My rules were unintentionally suffocating. Everything I did had a consequence, good or bad I had to ask, “Who would it hurt?”. The rules fused my life with others. If I told a story or shared something personal it was not my own because another was somehow attached. Even now in this moment I find myself fighting the frankness with vagueness and ambiguity.

I am constantly protecting someone I love by not giving the full story.  I was told, “that’s my business, no one else’s”. When I said, “Its my business too”, I was told it was not mine to share. How can I be genuine while editing what is integral in my life. How can I be open if everything I do is tied to a circumstance that is not my own? I can’t.

I am realizing that part of my struggle to be clear and direct has come from the habit of my belief that I need to protect others. I always leave something out. I think, “What if they don’t want anyone to know?”, “What if sharing my anger or pain hurts someone else?”. I’ve been in handcuffs for years and am just now willing to see them.

My voice; my true artist needs freedom. I’ve been locked in and weighed down by misguided loyalty. At this point I question if I have I actually been protecting others or protecting myself from their reactions. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but my life is mine. I cannot be fully present if everything I share considers everyone else before my own truth.

This new layer in my dig is both rocky and fragile. It is infused with the learned beliefs of how I was raised and where I’m from. I find it difficult and painful to navigate. It will require delicacy, patience and courage. I may break a few things, but in the end and with care, reparation is possible.

Namastè
Nichole Donjè