A brief post to again advocate for Sharon Salzberg's new meditation book (Real Happiness) or at the very least meditation that focuses on each breath as a new beginning.
I did her meditation again this morning after a kind of difficult night, negative thoughts swarming like a low pressure system around my head, giving me a sinus headache, waking me up often. I breathed some late last night, cried some and slept again.
Then in the morning, I did the meditation, really focusing on each breath as she suggests and seemingly out of nowhere a sense, a real, palpable sense of a new beginning, the type I haven't felt since I was much younger, maybe end of high-school, early college days. I was afraid it would evaporate as soon as the meditation ended but it did not. I hesitate to write about it in fear of driving it off. But have decided to treat it as she suggests treating each breath - holding it like something precious - that needs to be held so as not lost, but not grasped at or else destroyed.
I also did her walking meditation inside, then outside. It inspired me to use some of this with my acting class (they're already used to this by now - we start every class with yoga - they know by now they got stuck with the hippie and they tolerate me - some are even quite game...I think I must seems like some strange artefact from the past or maybe the teacher on South Park...). I then asked them to walk like this as a person they had observed outside. It brought up many observations from the students about physicalizing someone else other than themselves - some felt the person differently afterwards, some did not. We then talked about issues of identity and where they live in the body and mind, how many people we are during the day. All stimulated by one question from Chaikin's Presence of the Actor: Who or what is it that you think cannot be seen by anyone - is it still you?
This feeling of new beginning is probably also inspired by working with The Presence of the Actor again, as that was a part of the most seminal moment in my own student-artistic development.
I am aware I will now try to grasp this feeling, hold onto it for dear life, and that will not work. But I am grateful, very, for the release. Many more things seem possible, my cold has lifted (thanks also to homeopathic remedies in tandem with fresh ginger & lemon tea) and I have way more energy than I've had in ages.
Enough energy in fact to change my cat''s litter box finally. I made a decision to change his cat litter, the fact of which he refuses to accept. I don't know whether to laugh or cry in recognition of this total refusal to embrace involuntary change of any kind even if it's for the better. His looks he shot me were withering. J'accuse you horrible Changer of the Litter. I do hear him using it though so the war is - hopefully - over. I had to move the pheromone diffuser to the bathroom - to seduce him back in to the Evil Litter. I am now listening to him in the box though and am realizing the joke may be on me because it's way louder than the other kind. Hmmmm.
OK, enough meditation on cat litter. I hope the metaphor at least was somewhat interesting...
Gotta go now and finish grading homework assignments for my other class at BCC. The fun never stops. Well the truth is teaching acting is fun, really fun...don't tell anyone, my whole martyr thing will stop working.
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.
I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.