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Image courtesy Brene Brown, Ph.D. & Ordinary Courage

Hello world! I got the best surprise today! I had a wretched day — well, to be more precise, the day itself didn’t do anything, exactly. More accurately, I somehow found myself in a real stinker of a funk, and no matter how I tried to logic myself out of it, I was stuck in ….. a ‘mood.’ It did not help things when I overheard another driver disparage my driving skills and malign my character by comparing me to a female dog (I had a little vision of leaping from the car like a cheetah and going crazy on him. I restrained myself. Barely.) It was, all in all, a not-great day. Bleargh.

I annoyed myself, in fact.

And then, after a day of labor, and laundry, and lament… there it was. Just lying there, waiting for me. A box from Amazon.com. In the lobby under the mailboxes. With my name on it. (There is really nothing better, unless it’s from Barnes & Noble — then it’s just as good. *smile*).

The best part of it? I won the book through a contest on one of my favorite blogs — Ordinary Courage — by a phenomenal woman — Brene Brown. That’s partly what made it special — I never win anything, and I won this. More though, it felt like a present, like a gift.

And the appropriate thing to do when you recieve a gift is to thank the giver. Thank you, Brene Brown, for choosing my TGIF that day. I own your books, and I’ve read and reread your books, and am walking down a path that leads away from the futile quest for perfection (in part, because of you). Thank you for putting into words the niggling thoughts and dastardly patterns that swirl us down a purposeless path seeking perfection — you have a way of putting things that speaks to me where I am (and hits my ego where it lives).

Another appropriate thing to do? To recommend, heartily, to all I know, that which I’ve appreciated: Go check out her blog and her message.

And Dr. Brown — thank you. You had no way of knowing it, but today was the best day to get that gift in the mail! I’m sitting down and cracking it open as soon as this is posted!

My present: Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts

From my earliest memory, autumn has always been my favorite time of year. There’s something about the world as it prepares itself for rest, for sleep, that just resonates deeply with who I am. There’s a different quality to the air, a crispness, that wipes the scenery clean and allows me to look at the familiar and see the fabulous.

It’s a season of enchantments, of trees blooming afire, of streets sporting carpets of foliage. It’s a season that seems to evoke the market stall atmosphere that somewhere in my soul is remembered – the season of the harvest.

Last night as I sat journaling in the half light, I watched the thin branches of the birch tree whipping in the frenzy that only a still autumn wind inspires. I loved the feeling of the wind rushing into the living room where I sat quietly, sweeping even the air in the house clean. Inspiring quietude.

And for me, it’s not just the natural world that lifts me to heights and flights of fancy in autumn – it’s all the human traditions, all the small things that get repeated year to year.

I love watching neighborhoods transform sculpted lawns into graveyards and landscaped gardens into mausoleums and treacherous paths of spooktacular delight.

I love eating candy corn and those sugary pumpkins that ought to come with warning labels and a required trip to the dentist.

I love candy apples, and apple cider.

I love watching the trees each day, and marking their progress from green to gold, orange, and crimson.

I love taking shuffling, shambling walks through town, kicking up swirls of leaves with each step.

I love knowing that it won’t be long before I’m curled up before the woodburner in my dad’s shop, basking in the heat of a fall fire.

I love the apple pies with the sugar-crumble crusts that dad makes this time of year. It never fails – he gets a taste for it, and we all come home to splendor.

I love sweaters, and jeans, and boots, and hoodies. I love the comfort clothes that I can finally wear again.

I love sliding my smooth legs into autumn-crisp sheets, and pulling out the extra quilts, and sleeping with the windows open to the night sounds and night air.

I love that school is in session – even if I’m not enrolled at the moment. I love the feeling I had buying all the supplies on the list, and new pens, and new paper. I love remembering that feeling of starting off on another new adventure each year.

I love pumpkins and gourds. I love the market stands stacked full of ripe produce. I love zucchini bread.

I love the palette of autumn – one of the times when I feel most at ease in the world around me as it mirrors the way I feel inside. I love the fading greens, the flashy golds, the warm oranges, the passionate reds, the sumptuous browns all around me.

I love being reminded now, more than any other time of year, that people once believed in magic. That they saw the evidence of it swirling all around them. That the once gave homage to gods and goddesses. That they once had good reason to rejoice in the harvest, and to count each moment precious.

I love being reminded of the mystery of it all. For me, autumn has ever seemed the season that required the most faith – to rejoice in the beauty and bounty around you, while knowing that the world prepares for sleep. Knowing that winter’s on its way. Knowing that you have faith enough to believe that spring will come again, and set us in motion for another cycle of sleep and rebirth.

I’m savoring these days, knowing their briefness makes them precious. I’m allowing myself to be enraptured, to enjoy this latest tryst in my long love affair with autumn.

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. (Alan Alda)

Today, I had the opportunity to be a part of something grand and rare and fine – a group of women who came together to celebrate, explore, and rediscover their creative selves. A group of women who were unwilling to play small anymore. A group of women who were unwilling to make the artists within them play second fiddle to duty for one moment longer.

Today was the first meeting of HeART & Soul, a women’s art journaling group that Dani and Martina devised, at Three Sisters’ where I work. I loved watching everyone walk into the back room, art kits in hand – looks of excitement and trepidation on their faces. Art is not for the meek, people. And maybe, the trepidation was appropriate – for some of us, declaring ourselves ‘artist’ feels like stating that we’ve become something dangerous and sketchy (haha) and to be looked at askance. Because, honestly, society says so.

It is a brave thing to open a dialogue with your own beautifully messy soul – because when you open that door, you know that what comes through might not be ‘neat’ or ‘acceptable’ or ‘proper’ – and because you know that in order to do this thing right, to go all the way…you need to, well, go all the way – and that means you need to not care if it’s messy or imperfect or ‘unacceptable’ to anyone but you.

Today, these women were a part of a guerrilla art movement (and not like the surreptitious knitted coverings of trees or murals that appear overnight, which is its own thing) – guerrilla forces move among us, unnoticed. They look like you and me, but they’re agents in a revolution. Today, I had the chance to be a part of that revolution – of women awakening to their own innate creative power.

I do tend to think of things kind of militaristically – I’ve noticed that I tend to return to combat metaphors a lot in my blogs. I do see myself as warrior. I see each and every one of those women as warriors. Gentle ones, fighting the hardest battle they’ll ever fight against the most wily opponent they’ll ever face: themselves.

We are our own worst enemies. We are the ones who tell ourselves how wrong we are, how broken, how strange, how unacceptable. We are also the ones who have the supreme power to end it. To stop lying down and taking it. To place a flower in the barrel of the guns leveled at us by the inner critic. To scream at the top of our lungs, “ENOUGH!”

We are the only ones who have the power to claim our own beauty, our own majesty. We are the only ones who have the power to claim our own strength, our own imaginative prowess, our own unique vision. No one can give it to you. And no one can take that away, unless you let them. Today, thirteen women came in testament to their unwillingness to go to bed feeling as though a piece of them had gone missing, like a sock lost somewhere between the washing machine and the dryer. They arrived in testament to their unwillingness to move through another day with this part of themselves left unexplored.

It was a beautiful thing to be part of – I am grateful to have had the opportunity to act as witness. Any time someone stands up to an oppressor (even if that oppressor is within), there should be someone to bear witness, to honor them and their experience. Thank you everyone, for sharing yourselves today. Thank you for coming – thank you for choosing to explore the unmapped depths within you. I look forward to the next time when we stand together on the line, and face down our worst critics: ourselves.

There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. (Martha Graham)

I’ve pretty much decided that the person I most need to ‘hug it out’ with … is me. (For the uninitiated, ‘hugging it out’ is to end an argument or dispute with a hug showing that the ill will is over). The person I am the cruelest to … is me. The person I am most frequently at odds with…is me. The person I am the hardest on…is me.

Not a real comfortable thought. Pretty crappity, actually.

And how did I come to this bit of wisdom?? By getting slapped upside the back of my head with it via the Universe. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I choose to pay attention – and when some issue comes up for me in separate instances in quick succession, I figure that it’s being brought front-and-center for a reason. I choose to believe the reason is because it’s something I must be ready to look at or deal with.

On Monday, in two separate instances, I was forced to confront the fact that I have an absolutely impossible time saying anything good about myself in a true and real way. And I don’t mean that I can’t admit that I do things well – but that’s surface stuff. I can’t say nice things about who I am as a being. And that sucks.

The first slap? During our art journaling group, where the page topic was “I am beautiful and sacred because…” People, I had nothing. I looked around at my friends who were busily listing out the ways they knew they were beautiful and sacred, and I sat there frozen like a deer caught in headlights. I actually felt my brain do that open-mouthed, fish gasping, um-um-um, thing. I finally picked some stuff that I felt like I could convince myself was true and put it on my list. And somewhere in the back of my mind, the justifications started, “That was just hard because you weren’t focusing. It’s nothing. You know all this stuff. Blah. Blah. Blah.”

And I went about my day. That night (as I wrote about in my last blog), I attended a ‘floating salon’ where we were talking about our womanness and what it is to be a woman, etc. One of the things that we were encouraged to do as a part of embracing our juicy selves was to brag. About ourselves. Again, the deer-in-headlights, fish gaping reaction. My brain panicked and just kind of stuttered.

As you all know, I am verbose. Loquacious, even. When asked to come up with even one brag, I had nothing. And as much as I’d like to say it’s because I am some paragon of modesty, up for sainthood or something, I can’t because I’m not.

What I am is a product of my upbringing – the child of Midwestern parents whose genealogy includes a whole lot of stoic folks. Talking about yourself is pretty much a no-no. When you’re asked how you are, the proper response is “Fine. And you?” And then they say, “Fine.” And then you talk about the weather. Bragging? That’s anathema.

I can admit that’s a convenient ‘out’ for me – when you become an adult and make your way in the world on your own, it’s on you to iron out the wrinkles that are inherent in any upbringing (different upbringing = different garment = different wrinkles – but no matter what, we’ve all got wrinkles). Once you’re out there on your own, I figure you don’t get to point at your mommy and daddy and say that’s why this or that is screwy with you. What you get to do is sit with your wrinkle and figure out why you’re still hanging onto something that obviously doesn’t work for you anymore. And replace it with something a bit healthier, or with a better fit for you.

And the reason I’m clear on the fact that I can’t simply point to my Midwestern upbringing, shrug my shoulders and let it go is because this was the second time today that I needed to be able to say something good and positive about myself, and it was the second time I was utterly stymied by that simple task.

What’s one good thing I can say about myself? Well, it’s another ‘easy’ one because it’s about something I do, not something I am. I am an awesome cheerleader for people – I am awesome at telling other people how awesome they are. It’s absolutely effortless for me to see their good stuff and tell them about it.

Why in the hell can’t I do that for myself? I am okay at telling myself the things I am good at – I can at least acknowledge it. I am utter crap at telling myself the things I am. You know, I don’t even know if I am clear on what I am. What I embody. What I shine forth.

I’ve thought about this for a couple of days now, and I think it has to start with stopping something. I have to stop telling myself all the ways I fail. I have to stop pointing at all the missteps and small mistakes and flogging myself with them. I have to stop telling myself perpetually that there is something wrong with me.

A few weeks ago, one of my dear friends posted a video on her blog. And I found myself going back to watch it again and again. It was called “There is nothing wrong with you.” I watched it, and I cried. Because no matter how much self work I’ve done, no matter how much excavating I’ve done inwardly, no matter how many books I’ve read or classes I’ve attended, I still believe that I am something to be fixed. To be improved. To be healed. To be amended, appended, adjusted. That I need to improve, remove. That I need to tweak and pull and twist myself continually in the aim of finally achieving…what?

And you know what? It’s not true. I am not broken. I am not faulty. I am not sick. I am not damaged. I am not a screw up. I am not a failure. I am not something to be fixed.

There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with you, either, by the way, though you think there is.

I think that somewhere along the way, I stopped focusing on what the path of mastery is supposed to be about and started getting stuck in fixing all my foibles. That is not the path of mastery. The path of mastery is noticing. It is attending. It is being present. It is noticing who you are and what you do, and how it makes you feel – and then knowing that the path continues beyond that point of notice, offering you opportunity after opportunity to make new choices. Nowhere in that is there any inherent judgment. I slapped the judgment in there all by myself.

It’s reflective of that distinction that good parents make when correcting a child – to make sure to say that it was a bad choice, or a naughty thing to do, but to never tell the child that they are bad or naughty. Somewhere along the line, I stopped making that distinction for myself, and started telling myself that I was wrong, that I was broken, that I was bad. And I forgot that it was the things I did – which can always be changed, and new choices made – which could be judged, if judging is even necessary.

I’m sharing the video on here again, because I need to watch it again. There is nothing wrong with me. I cannot hear that enough times, and maybe neither can you.

The Winding Path

The only substance properly so called is the soul. (Henri Frederic Amiel)

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. (Aesop)

Man is a substance clad in shadows. (John Sterling)

 

When I started this blog, my hope was to tell a real story. To say real things. To capture real moments. To talk about struggle and about joy in a real way, saying real things. To reveal all the stolen moments, and bits of life that make up our days and all the minutes and seconds and parts of seconds that weave themselves into a life. That culminate, someday, in a legacy of some sort. Yeah. That’s kind of a heavy goal, I suppose.

I wanted to talk about what it’s really like to walk a path of mastery. I think that people have the illusion that mastery is a goal, with an endpoint. The substance of the journey is that you fill your life with substance. That you fill those moments, and the quest for mastery with the substance of life. That you pick up in your hands, and turn over like stones, all the bits and pieces of what it means to be human – and what it means for you to be human – and you look at them (really look), and ponder it. Maybe you come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion to come to – that contemplation was the important thing, after all. That, and the willingness to engage the flexible world around you.

And yesterday, my dear friend Queen Dani passed on the award for A Blog with Substance… to me! A high complement (Queens have discerning taste, doncha know…it’s right in the job description). In Her Majesty’s words:

I will buckle down and choose to pass on this award to……… Carolyn – a young woman, wise beyond her years, who shows up in life each day and opening her heart a little wider than sometimes even she thought it could go, leaves this world a better place for her having been in it. I love her and everything about her. I love what she stands for, what she stands up for and what she speaks up and out for.  I love her style of writing, her words, her art, her “sassytude”, her courage and her strength. She reminds me of me at her age, and in doing that, she is a touchstone and an inspiration- also reminding me of what I came here to do, especially on the days I forget and/or stumble.”

Wow.

One of the most unifying desires of humankind (something I stumbled onto while on this path of mastery thing…), is the desire to be heard, to be seen. I never expected to win any awards for this blog, but the recognition is great. Thanks for hearing me, and seeing me!

The irony of it is, that the gratitude is mine – I am deeply grateful to have made the acquaintance of Queen Dani at the moment I most needed her depth, her soulfulness, and her unique talent for bringing the fuzzy into acute focus. I am the one who’s grateful for her willingness to share with everyone around her the deep spirituality she’s cultivated throughout her life, for her willingness to share her own stories of struggle to light the path for others, for her deep commitment to serving others and to the example that she provides for so many to follow. For opening her heart to me, and to so many others like me. Thank you, Queen Dani, for reminding me who I am every day, and giving me the gift of myself through another’s eyes.

So, in order to keep this going, I need to follow the ‘rules’ of the award:

1.) Thank the person who awarded it to you.
2.) Pass it on to other blogs which you feel have substance.
3.) Sum up your blogging philosophy in 5 (five) words.

 

If you do read my blog, you’ll know that I’ll definitely have trouble with the last directive…brevity has never been one of my strong points! And, I’m taking the second directive literally, and awarding this to three separate blogs – the substance of which, and the authors of which have enriched my days and my journey. The first goes to Ebb Tide, (and to poetblogger Sarah Whiteley) for her bravery in putting her poetry out into the world for all to read, to examine, to critique. For putting into words the longing of the human heart, the nuances of the human experience. For bravely sashaying out into the internet jungle armed only with her poet’s soul and sensibilities, and planting her flag. For your bravery, your beauty, and your talent, I salute you.

The second blog I want to recognize is Living Out Loud (and the author, the Great Martina). Her continuing exploration into what it means to live joyfully is brave in a world which forgets to value joy. Her daring and her moxie for climbing back onto her pedestal, despite the detractors rattling away at the base of it, inspires me. For refusing to be silenced, for refusing to accept less, for refusing to allow her crown to be usurped, I grant you this award!

The third blog I would like to recognize is morethingsithink (and the author Faerian) for her uniqueness – for her willingness to be someone who is brave enough to “reach beyond the ordinary.” For being a joywarrior, for inspiring me to claim the same for myself, for putting out into the world your musings and your explorations. For sharing with all of us your beautiful spirit, your creative spark, and your journey to embrace your own beautifully messy soul, I salute you.

And now the hard part. To state my blogging philosophy in five short words. Since my blog attempts to reflect the way I live, that’s really a life philosophy. (*gulp*) Only five words, hey? Okay, here goes!

SEEK ● FIND ● DARE ● EXPLORE ● LOVE

Yeah. That about sums it up, actually – and my Sagittarian nature is probably pretty apparent in that micro-manifesto!

Thank you for seeing me, for hearing me, and for reading this blog. I can assure you that it is I, fellow bloggers, who is the one enriched by all of you and the bravery with which you show up each day and tell your stories. Namaste.

My dad & I, September 1980

~~~~~~~~~

I know that this post is kind of ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ but I spent a good portion of my weekend with my mom and dad, which is the point of Mother’s and Father’s Day, anyhow.

My relationship with my father is intensely complicated…and it’s unbelievably simple. I love him, and he loves me. No matter how we’ve changed, or fought, or frozen each other out over the years, I had him and he had me, and we were lucky enough to have a relationship.

When everything goes completely off kilter in my world, and up is down, and right is left, all I have to do is go and hug him, and things even out, straighten out. I know it’s an illusion – he can’t slay all of my dragons (that’s my job) – but there’s something about his hugs that make all the bad things fade into the background, and that make me remember that I can do this (whatever it is).

My dad’s a ‘still waters run deep’ kind of a guy. He doesn’t spend words like they’re free – and you’re better off dropping an idea or a question in his lap and then coming back in a few days to see what he’s come to, instead of demanding answers on the spot. He’s the kind of man who has to chew on a thing for a while before he decides how it tastes.

You know you’re in his inner circle when he acts the goof and the clown in front of you. I get some of my playful and pranksterish tactics from having watched him. Every year, our family would sit down to watch The Wizard of Oz together on our ancient television. And every year, he’d wait until the three of us kids were completely enraptured and absorbed, waiting to see what would happen to Dorothy, waiting to see if, this time, the witch would triumph….and then, he’d scream at the top of his lungs, scaring the bejesus out of all of us! And, we’d go and cluster around him, seeking safety. Dirty rat (said in the most affectionate manner possible).

I get my work ethic from both of my parents, but mostly from Dad. He works so hard – too hard. And he’s spent more vacations painting our house or fixing something than any man should. (Thanks).

I spent a different kind of time with him. We used to walk around the yard and ‘visit’ each of the trees, each of the gardens, and I’d ask him questions. It was quiet time – meditative, but I know he’d balk at that term. He’s philosophical, but he’d deny that, too.

When I chose to go out on my own, and become a Reiki Master Teacher and go into business with Dani, he didn’t understand exactly what I did, or why I’d want to do it. And, being a father, he worried (worries) about me. Despite that, he’s proud of me, and believes that I can do whatever I put my mind to.

My dad and I, October 1980

~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks, Dad, for being there.

Thanks for having my back, even though you don’t understand why or what I’m doing half the time.

Thanks for every talk in the basement, watching you plane out a new piece of furniture.

Thanks for singing along with the radio – I could hear it come up through the air vent into my room, and I will never forget the sound of it. It comforted me in ways you cannot imagine.

Thanks for going along with (most of) my grand schemes, even though you wondered why I’d want to bother – and especially thanks, since most of them involved some labor on your part.

Thanks for shellacking all of the odd things I bring to you. I know that it’s a lot more work and effort than you make it out to be.

Thanks for being a brave enough guy to ask your daughters what kind of tampons we wanted from the store, and going to get them.

Thanks for thinking that no guy would ever really be good enough for me.

Thanks for all the late night chats. Thanks for always taking my calls.

Thanks for fixing my car before I even knew it was busted. Thanks for coming to the rescue when it busted before any of us knew it needed fixing.

Thank you for all the things that you are: from the persnickety to the playful, from the silly to the serene.

Thank you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

 

My MoonCircle soul collage, "Luscious Flow"

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music. (Angela Monet) 

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote to the realization that I’d spent the majority of my life actively working to sterilize myself (metaphorically, and somewhat literally). It wasn’t until this bend on my path – and the discovery of my creative self, and my inner, passionate and unrestrained soul – that I was able to see clearly what all of my perfectionism was working so hard to achieve – utter and complete annihilation of my ‘messy’ emotional self.

If there is no great passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you, and BECAUSE of you. (T. Alan Armstrong)

One of the major struggles of my life has been to embrace and rejoice in my femininity. From my earliest memories onward, I greeted and engaged life with a very masculine approach. And, I was very good at it – I very ably ‘wore the pants’ and was better at being the head of household than most men. I was a go-getter, I was assertive, I was forward and direct. I was a very capable linear and rational thinker. I was raised to be my father’s ‘little buddy,’ and in many ways, I was expected to fulfill the role of the ‘eldest son.’ My female self was subjugated, made small – my womanhood was stifled and denied.

My emotionality, my femininity, my creativity, my passion were locked deep in the darkest corner of my heart. I allowed them release in my private journals, or in the bedroom, or in poems I never showed to anyone. I allowed myself to experience the power of them seldomly, and with purpose and control.

We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying. (Sue Grafton)

Smothering those elemental energies is a recipe for combustion – passion is not meant to be kept confined. Deep within, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before one of two things happened – my passions rode free, or I managed to kill them completely.

When I started coming to Three Sisters’ Spirit over a year ago, I sought Reiki training – a modality that is all about bringing balance to the body, emotions, mentality, and spirit. I know, with bone-deep certainty, that my path to becoming a Reiki Master Teacher has been essential in freeing those trapped parts of myself. Reiki has been absolutely instrumental in helping me to find and seek balance for all the parts of myself.

I also started attending the MoonCircle groups facilitated by Dani. I showed up hungry for something I could not name. I found a God who looked like me, felt like me, breathed and sang and danced like me. I found a way to see myself in my own Divinity. I discovered the power, the beauty, and the passion that resides in the Goddess of the trinity. I was able to make the final leap from rejecting a male god, and rebelling against my upbringing (which left me alone, yowling, and bereft in the desert of the Dark Night) to finding a spirituality and conception of God that I could embrace (and one which embraced me back).

Tonight I attended another MoonCircle group. I am a lot further along my path now than I was when Dani first handed me the manna for which I hungered. Lately, I find myself welcoming and helping other women feel at ease in our circle. I am coming full circle. Full. Circle. (Beautiful, beautiful). I have become a handmaiden to the priestess. I have become a Eucharistic minister, of sorts.

I wish that I could say that my appreciation for my woman-self came rushing back to me with trumpets and flames and joy and accolades. It didn’t. I always say that you can choose to do a thing with grace, or you can kick and scream and be dragged along to your fate. Because some things are fated – and we just choose the manner of our acquiescence.

It was more of a slow blossoming – a process that I feel now is really just starting. I had to get past the fear of showing the world my own beautifully messy soul. I had to get past and over the idea that to be feminine is to be weak. I had to discover in minutes and miles the grace, power, and transformative energy of stepping into my woman-self. I had to allow my passion to leak out at the corners, slowly and almost imperceptible. I had to let it dip its toes into the waves, before I could open the floodgates.

There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life. (Frederico Fellini)

I am coming to a plateau – in the best of possible ways. I really feel that I am coming to a place where I can allow and encourage my masculine and feminine selves to exist in equality within me. I am arriving at the place where I can enjoy my own formidable nature – when I exhibit it with masculine tendencies (for me, very lingual) or with a feminine manner (which I am still discovering).

I want to get to the place where I can wear my luscious, passionate, juicy woman-self on my sleeve and let the world see and marvel at it – without a single trace of shame and fear. I will get there. Now that I’ve opened the doors to the inner sanctum, and experienced how good it feels, I know there is no going back – only forward, into the mystery. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, God).

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot. (D. H. Lawrence)

Tonight, we gathered in a circle of women. We set the sacred space. We shared our women-stories. We held one another in the grace of the moment. We knew we were safe here. Cherished, and admired and celebrated. That’s part of what MoonCircle is about. Another part, especially for me, is allowing all of that to come into being – to find expression – in our lives (especially this month, with the new moon in Gemini).

We made Soul Collages, clipping hurriedly the things that caught our eye. Snipping bits of sentences, and cutting carefully around the images that spoke to us. I decided to share mine here on my blog – because I can look at this expression, this song of my soul, and rejoice.

Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping…waiting…and though unwanted…unbidden…it will stir…open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us…guides us…passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love…the clarity of hatred…and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace…but we would be hollow…Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.  (Joss Whedon)

"Luscious Flow" 9 June 2010

 

My Soul Collage Poem:

In with the good

Delight at the serenity

Room to grow.

The surprising life,

Some relationships are meant to be.

I write my own magical name,

It’s nature’s secret.

It is a(n)

Evocative, unique,

Truly original

Life.

There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. (John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994)

Each year, I struggle to meet both of my father’s rules for gift giving:

Rule #1: Don’t spend any money.

Rule #2: Don’t spend any time.

Each year, in one way or another, I fail to meet those criteria. Except this year. This year, I made my father a keepsake art book — and told him that the money I’d spent I would’ve spent anyway, and that the time I spent was such a joy, it shouldn’t count. His birthday is today.

Happy birthday Dad!

Front cover.

First page.

Second page.

Third page.

Fourth page.

Fifth page.

Sixth page.

Seventh page.

Eighth page.

Ninth page.

Tenth page.

Back cover.

To everything (Turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (Turn, turn, turn)

 

A time to be born, a time to die,

A time to plant, a time to reap,

A time to kill, a time to heal,

A time to laugh, a time to weep…

(The Byrds / Pete Seeger / Book of Ecclesiastes)

Until yesterday, I had not had a haircut for over a year and a half. As anyone who knows me has witnessed, I was blessed with more than my fair share of long, thick hair. For a long time, I enjoyed it – until:

  • I started being strangled by it in my sleep;
  • I could not drive with it behind me, because it kept getting trapped and pulling my head backward;
  • I had to invest in the Drano company to unclog the tub drain;
  • Dust bunny colonies started looking at each fallen strand and shrieking, “Eureka! We’ve discovered a new world!”
  • Summer arrived and my carpet-like mane was akin to donning a fur parka each day.
  •  I started looking in the mirror with disdain and utter disinterest, and then pulling it back into a huge ponytail or bun on top of my head…pretty much every day.

I was ready to let it go… I just needed the right encouragement. Then, Dani sauntered sassily into the shop sporting this whimsical, flapperish cap of curls and waves. She looked gorgeous – she glowed and sparkled. The joy a new ‘do can create for a woman never ceases to amaze me.

And the co-creator of all this joy (her stylist) stopped in that afternoon, to admire his handiwork, bask in the glow of Dani’s pleasure, and deliver some new elixir for her silky cap of curls. Dani turns to him, says, “My princess here needs a new ‘do,” and stretches out a fateful hand pointing toward me.

I’ve lopped off over ten inches at a crack at least four or five times now. I like drastic changes and the reason that my locks reach Rapunzel-like lengths is due to (erm…cough…whisper) laziness. I’ve encountered two very different reactions in those who are destined to do the cutting: a kind of frightening glee (which is a bit unnerving), and a look of horror (which isn’t very encouraging, either).

Levelle, her stylist, smiled, nodded and said, “Don’t tell me what you want done to your hair. Tell me what you’re doing in life. Tell me about what’s happening for you right now.” So I did. Told him the whole story: new ventures, new horizons, new outlook (that’s the Reader’s Digest abbreviated version). As I started talking, that’s when he got the look of glee – at the news that I had transformed my life, and needed a haircut to match.

I entered the salon trailing twining tendrils behind me, and grinning. We really never talked about a cut. He asked how short I wanted to go – I indicated – he grinned, saying, “Shorter than I thought! Good!” – and he started at it with the scissors the first time, leaving a large nest of cast off hair around the base of the chair.

Then I was shown a board of color swatches. Which one did I like best? My choice surprised him again – it was a swanky blondey-red, unnatural hue. Then I said, “I think something blondeish, but I’ve got red in my hair and I’ve decided to stop fighting it.” He exclaimed, “Say no more!” and popped off to mix color.

He returned, and began the laborious process of moving enough of my abundant hair around to add in the foils. Then I cooked for awhile under the lights (the apparatus and activities of salons always happily mystify me). Then I was shampooed and plopped back into the first chair once more for another session with scissors. He thinned and thinned until another curly nest had formed on the floor, equal to the first.

There was spraying and fluffing and smearing with foam. And all the while, there was a grin on both of our faces.

Finally, I looked into the mirror at his finished creation – my curls were back and soft around my face. Subtle caramel highlights picked up the light and gave me all kinds of dimension and glisten. I floated out of there, floated home, and entered the apartment. Jeremy was waiting. “There’s the girl I’ve been dreaming about! How do you like it?” I said, “I feel pretty.” And he grinned and grinned. That’s what he wanted to hear, whether I came home with fire-engine red dreadlocks or a jet black buzz cut.

I thought I’d share the before and afters here with you (pardon, once more, our inability to take a decent picture!):

The "before" -- my hair actually reaches my waistband, which you can't tell in this picture.

~~~~~~~

The "after" -- I think that my smile says it all.

There is something to the idea of getting your outsides to match your insides, I think. I want my new life, my adventurous spirit to be reflected when people shake my hand and meet me for the first time. I think I’m there…for now! Until the next time I need another transformation!

I am a confessed bibliophile. I am sick. I am not allowed to enter Barnes & Noble or Half Priced Books without supervision.  I’ve established this in earlier posts.

What you may not know is that I am also a huge music lover. (I know, it’s astounding. Who’d have thunk it? Call Guinness). I have binders and binders of CDs. My 80 gig IPod is almost full. And I love all kinds and sorts of music – from Incubus to Chopin, from Alison Krauss to Death Cab for Cutie, from Pink Spiders to Korn, from Secret Garden to Bob Marley.

I can thank my father (mostly) for encouraging me to love and appreciate a wide swath of music. I can remember sitting beside him in one of the (many) second- or third-hand used station wagons we owned throughout my childhood, singing along to Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin, or playing alongside him as he worked in the basement and singing along with Gordon Lightfoot or Marty Robbins.

I have a deep emotional reaction to live music – I just cannot even sing along. I start to get that chokey, constricted feeling that comes when you’re going to cry. I just feel the music so deeply. I cry as I belt out my favorite songs in the car. There are songs that I cannot even listen closely to, because I am so moved, that the tears just start.

So, I thought I’d share an utter favorite or two! Enjoy!

Here’s my (current) favorite fun-dance-when-no-one’s-looking song:

MGMT Electric Feel (an awesome funkadelic-y kind of band)

 Gordon Lightfoot always, always makes me cry (but in that good cathartic way): Sit Down Young Stranger

This is another feel-good favorite. Picture me kicking back, drinking lemonade and feeling oh-so-sassy, listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Red House:

Enjoy your Friday everyone!!

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

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"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)