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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!!

 

 

Hello there, outside world! I’ve been M.I.A. for awhile – I’ve been in the trenches, but in the best possible way! I’ve been engrossed with my newest pursuit – art. (I figured I’d share some of what I’ve been up to on here!)

 

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. (Ray Bradbury)

 

  

Last Thursday night, Jeremy arrived home to find the entire kitchen (and other parts of the apartment…) had been colonized by my forays into the artistic realm. I was blaring tango music (courtesy of Dani – thanks, by the way), wearing an intriguing new kerchief on my head to keep my hair out of the gesso, and having an absolutely fabulous time. 

     

He took one look around, smiled, and said, “I’m so glad to see you doing this babe.” It felt good to hear that, and I quickly rescued some of the stuff I was working on from the top of the stove, so that he could make us dinner.

 

 

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. (Scott Adams)

 

I was at it until three a.m. Happily, wholly engaged. Completely captured with experimentation and the joy of watching my ideas translated into form.

 

Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

 

I wandered through the house, scouting out things I could “repurpose” (translate: destroy) with impunity, and I tried things, without worrying how they would look or turn out. I just wanted to see what would happen when I went about it in different ways. It was freeing.

 

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. (Moshe Dayan)

I’ve been breaking out of my shell, and it feels good. It feels good to play, and to create. It feels good not to hear the voice inside that’s always chiding and scolding.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll gather up all my tools and toys and go to play across the street with Dani. It’s like an artist’s play date, and I can’t wait! Life is good – and I feel great.

 
 
 

The cover of my soul-art-book.

 

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)

Any creative venture is like an expedition into the unknown. You might designate a leader, and they might lob some direction at you, but you are the one navigating trackless jungles and jumping willingly into pits to discover whether they’re bottomless or not.

When I was in high school, I took every art class that they offered. I sensed, then, that there was something within me that wanted OUT, that wanted expression, that defied the words I was so comfortable with. When I got to college, I took art survey (history, essentially) instead. Somewhere along the way, I decided that to engage the part of myself which hungered for expression was dangerous. I retreated into safety, and into language – safe.

The first page.

Writing can be dangerous – but for me, facility with language always came so easily. I encouraged the logical-mental functions of it, and left others to explore the wildfires and sandstorms it could create. I kept it small, so that I could control it.

Lately, that hunger has been resurfacing. I almost couldn’t name it, I hadn’t let myself feel it in such a long time. Last night, I gathered around a table with other women who sought to enter the realm of juicy creativity. Our guide, Tracy, laid the tools for the journey out on the table and we slavered over them, eager to begin.

I jumped in – I played. I didn’t think too hard, I shut up the inner critic (for whom, nothing is ever good enough). God, I enjoyed myself. I felt giddy!

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. (Frederich Nietzsche)

I’ve been on a spiritual quest since before I had words to understand what it was I sought. And along the way, I’ve avoided my own dark heart. I’ve shunned my shadow, and I’ve spent an awful lot of time attempting to rub clean all the places I felt messy.

Second page -- a paper created by our guide Tracy.

I spent a lot of time, essentially, sterilizing myself. (Pardon me – I’m having a moment right now, letting that statement sink in. I don’t think I knew I felt that way until I wrote that just now, this minute).

Third Page.

I’ve spent so much time afraid of my own passion – passion can warm your bones, or burn you to cinders. That unpredictability? It just didn’t jive with my need to perfect everything. To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. (Joseph Chilton Pierce) I’ve written about my perfectionism on this blog. I’ve talked about how I know it’s slow death. I just think I forgot what I was allowing it to kill. Until last night. Until I played. Until I showed up, and let go, and just played.

Fourth Page

 

 

All the times I’d written a poem with true emotionality, I hid it. I don’t think I wanted anyone to know that I could be so out of control. That’s the other part of last night that was so important – the sharing. To sit in a circle, and to each draw out from ourselves some beautifully messy part of our souls, and put it down on paper, and share it with one another.

Fifth page.

I am so excited about this, you’d think I’d created the next Mona Lisa. Maybe not to anyone else’s eyes, but for me, this was monumental. This was the tip of the iceberg, and I’m diving deeper next time. I’m committing to it – to myself, to my creativity, to my wild and dark beating heart, to my murky emotions and my human frailty.

Sixth page

This morning, I took pictures of all the pages I’d created last night (I need to practice with the bloody camera. I really hate technology sometimes – I apologize for the cruddy quality of the pics). I decided to post them on here – to “finish” slaying the dragon by drawing it out of the darkness, and sharing it with the world. And, not caring what anyone thinks of it – only that I love it, and I feel impassioned and eager to finish this project and embark on the next expedition. To dip into my soul’s chaos, and give birth to whatever comes.

Seventh Page

Eighth page.

 

Back Cover.

 

 

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. (Judy Garland)

I’m a perverse creature. On the surface, I am all calm, cool, and collected – a lot of the time. At first glance, I don’t allow much softness to come through. I’m working on that, actually… At first glance, you wouldn’t take me for a woman much given over to sentimentality or easily swayed by romance. At first glance.

The truth? Just because something seems to be true, doesn’t mean that it is…

So, last night, Jeremy and I watched What Dreams May Come – a movie I always watch with a handkerchief. It was his first time seeing it all the way through, and there were a few parts that got a little tough for him. He (politely) didn’t comment or make a big deal out of it when I dabbed surreptitiously at the corners of my eyes.

The movie over, my emotional needs satisfied, he thoughtful, we sat there. We each have our own blanket, and our own end of the couch, and then our legs tangle up and take over the middle. Sometimes we duel for dominance of the middle territory (this increases as warm weather increases, fueled by me), but today we were content and lazy and comfortably entwined.

And then we started talking about the movie. And he said, “I’d do that, you know. Find you.” And I just smiled in the way that only a woman can when a man pledges to do some knightly deed for her love (a smile that’s one part entranced, one part dubious, and one part patronizing).

He was quiet for a minute. He asked me if I thought it would be like that, when we die. I said I hoped so, that it would be something like that – reunion with friends and family, communion with others and with God, the presence of joy.

At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. (Plato)

And then he blew me away. He said it didn’t matter to him – that if he died and it was all blackness and endings, and not the heaven that any of us hopes for or dreams of, that he would have spent all the days of his life hoping and dreaming with me and that was heaven enough.

I pretend that my heart is resistant to melting, but it isn’t. It puddled, instantly. He meant it. That is how he really feels. And it was equally humbling and exalting to know that.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. (Lao Tzu)

It made me think of all the times I lost my patience when he took forever to make a decision. All the times I got in a snit because he forgot to do something or I tripped over his shoes. All the times that he left a job half done (I saw it as half-done) and I got an attitude. It made me think about how that couldn’t possibly feel heavenly. And I wanted more for him, and for me – to see our lives in the now, in every moment, as he saw them – a little slice of heaven. Guess I really will have to quit “sweating the small stuff,” hey?

Seeing our life through his eyes, let me see it differently, too. I always say that we’re building an empire – I think he sees us already enjoying the one we’ve built. I always focus ahead, on all that’s left to do – he sees all that we have done, and all that we are and have. I see the promise of heaven, someday – he sees it now, in the moment.

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. (Zora Neale Hurston)

After I started working at the shop, and Dani saw Jeremy and I together for the first time, she told me later that I was different around him. I, somewhat panicked, said, “How? What do you mean?” And she said, “You’re softer.” And I thought, Hmm – that’s not so bad, I guess. It’s hard not to be when he says things like that and means them.

 

 

Maybe I’m not as lapsed a Catholic as I thought, or maybe there is just something ingrained in me from all the religious education classes I went to for all those years. Maybe it’s just something inherent about this time of year…this is Holy Week – the week preceding Easter, and all those miraculous happenin’s.

Probably not uncoincidentally, this morning I woke up pondering miracles. Reading through the blogs I follow, two of them were talking miracles in one way or another. It spurred further thought…

The dictionary defines Miracle as: an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause; such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God; a wonder; marvel.

What interested me, though, was the history of the word – the etymology, where it came from. Miracle originally described something that was an “object of wonder.” That’s important – nowadays, most people figure a miracle happens when tidal waves crush a home, but miraculously the toddler and the dog are found safely suspended in a tree out of harm’s way. There is no denying that is miraculous – but focusing on the big and showy has blinded a lot of us to the other miracles.

I’m talking about the “objects of wonder” – what I think of as the quiet miracles. The subtle ones. The ones you see and notice when you’re paying attention, when you’re focused, when you’re feeling that inner quiet just long enough to see through the eyes of wonder.

When I see something happening amidst a crowd – when I’m the only one who sees it. When I set my busy down long enough to let God get my attention. When I set my worry aside long enough to hear a new thought, to look in a new direction.

I know that I do not take enough time to simply revel, to marvel, at the world around me. When I think about all of it – really think about it, and let it touch me – I am speechless in amazement. At how everything fits together, at how each piece is perfectly within the whole, at the swirling veins on a leaf, at the intelligent look in my cat’s eyes, at the sheer weight of creation.

This week, I am going to seek that inner quiet and spend time contemplating those quiet miracles. I am going to spend time being in love with the world, and let myself get carried away with amazement. I am going to look out through child’s eyes, and see it all new and fresh.

It may be Holy Week for the Catholic Church, but it could be holy week every week for all of us if we let it. If we allow quiet. If we allow ourselves to reimagine our selves and our world anew. To see one another with quiet wonder, to honor the small miracles that we are to one another.

 

 

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

It’s happened! It’s positively momentous! I’ve seen…….my first Robin of Spring!

Every year, I am like a child with this – I wait and wait and watch, and when I finally spot one, it’s officially Spring for me (no matter what the almanacs, meteorologists, and calendars say). I’ve done this ever since I could remember, even as a small girl.

Wisconsin winters are long, and tough. And, there’s something about the return of this bird, with his bold slash of crimson and his lilting song that speaks of promise and secrets, of renewal and rebirth.

Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment. (Ellis Peters)

Every Spring of my life, there have been mornings spent in bed, with windows opened to the fresh breeze, just listening to this song. When I think about them, it’s like I am there again in that moment, smelling the green air, and feeling the wet on the wind.

I feel jubilant today! Celebratory! Mad-cap! I want to go have adventures, and roam, and be outside!

Here’s hoping the rest of you are feeling Spring Fever, too!

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! (Mark Twain)

 

 

Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure. (Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time)

By all accounts, I was one of those unsettling children who look out at you from a child’s face, but speak with a tone, confidence, and vernacular far beyond their years. I was what people tend to think of precocious in the classical sense, and not as a thinly veiled euphemism for too-worldly.

I have only ever known what it is to be precocious, and therefore, don’t exactly have the same perspective on many things that others (who weren’t quite as precocious) have. It is now, as an adult woman, that I look and see what that precociousness meant and what it wrought for me throughout my life. It is as I watch children and see them interact with one another, and watch them blooming “on schedule,” or “ahead of schedule,” or “behind schedule” with adult eyes. (Who determines these things, anyhow?)

In retrospect, I see my own journey with some clarity. (Can it ever happen any other way?) I can see how I tended to lack true peers – I could play the game well, and “fit in” with kids who weren’t quite at the level I was, but it felt like a lot of work. I could speak to adults with the maturity of one of their peers, but it came out of a child’s mouth and was often disregarded because of that – and I lacked the experiences of an adult, so that was one more barrier.

You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you. (Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time)

I really wouldn’t say that I technically had a lonely childhood, but in some ways, that was very true. I realize now, that my love for reading and my passion for stories and books was partially inherent (I think we all come here with leanings toward talents and interests), and partially cultivated. I soon realized that having a book in front of your face gave you two things: a barrier and an excuse to not have to socialize, and something to talk about if you were made to interact.

When I was doing my student teaching internship, I happened to bump into one of my high school teachers. She remembered me instantly (having taught 168 kids a year, I now know how rare this is), and said that she remembered that I was never without a free reading book (again, having taught, I now know how rare this is).

Those books were my solace, my inspiration, and my shield. I was never really alone – I had a whole cast of characters holed up in my head. I was never really bored – even when I was stuck without a book, I could conjure one of the many stories I’d read to ponder.

I am going through the rest of the boxes I still have at my folks’ house, and I’ve come across some very old friends. I saved two things for last: my books and my genealogy research. Both are precious to me.

I share Einstein’s affirmation that anyone who is not lost on the rapturous awe at the power and glory of the mind behind the universe ‘is as good as a burnt out candle.’ (Madeleine L’Engle)

As I open these boxes, some for the first time in five years, I am transported. I remember the edition of Tom Sawyer that my mom’s parents gave us when I was about ten. I remember the huge, ponderous collection of Shakespeare’s Collected Works that my former mother-in-law gave me for my birthday one year. It has a maroon cover, and Bible-thin pages. I remember the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit my mom gave me shortly before I got married – a story that carries special significance in our house. The Bible my Aunt Margaret gave me for my confirmation. The canning books I bought when I thought it would be cool to make my own preserves (still planning on it, someday…).

The animal and plant guides I bought when I started to explore the complexity of our world… The poetry volumes I purchased as I discovered new voices… Philosophy… Spirituality… Religion… Life Sciences… My “Beach Reads”… Books from the Banned Books List… Classic Fiction… Eventually, I hope to have enough shelving to store / display them in some semblance of “order,” which will probably only make sense to me (which is fine, since I’m the one who’s into them all the time).

Then, this weekend, I came to some of my very old, very special friends. For Christmas, when I was twelve years old, my Uncle Dave gave me a series of books by Madeleine L’Engle, which I fell in love with. I’ve read my copy of A Wrinkle in Time so many times that I’ve loved the cover to smithereens. I promptly petitioned my parents for the rest of the series, and have read and re-read them repeatedly.

I am reading them again now, as an adult woman, whose precociousness, subsequent experience, and continually developing perspective, give me a new appreciation for the gift of them. These were the first books I’d read then, at twelve, that didn’t try to scrub the ugly things clean, in the way that so many people try to for children. They let the ugly be present, and they let the good and the beautiful be present, side by side, and gave the reader enough credit to make sense of it themselves.

Infinity is present in each part. A loving smile contains all art. The motes of starlight spark and dart. A grain of sand holds power and might. (Madeleine L’Engle)

L’Engle couched truths within fiction. I encountered God there, and science. I met with the age-old predicament of what I think of as can-or-should (as in, just because we can, does it mean that we should?). I entertained ideas of cosmic scope, and eternal reach, of infinite perplexity and infinite simplicity.

I lay on the couch last night, following Meg Murry through her troubles, her struggles, her challenges and triumphs. I walked along the path with old friends for a time, covering territory that felt familiar and brand-new at once. I spotted seeds of later-thought within the story – ideas that fueled the genesis of my spiritual questioning and my reasoning.

I lay there, at once twelve years old again, and brand-new to the world with all the wide-eyed optimism and belief in the possible – and at the same time, as I am now at 31 – older, a bit more cynical, a bit more hesitant, a bit more jaded, a bit less hopeful. I captured, for a bit, that sense of who I was when I’d read them for the first time – the wonder they awakened, the daydreams I embarked on, the debates they encouraged.

I like that girl I was, and there are days when I really miss her. In some ways, she was far braver then, than I am now (it helps when you don’t know all the facts of a situation, I suppose – it’s easier to talk myself out of things, or around them, now). Having got that sense of her – that essence of possibility and dreaming – I carry it forward into today. I marry it to my experience, and in that, I attempt to balance naiveté and experience.

I am grateful to Madeleine L’Engle for giving young readers enough credit, for having the guts to put it all on the page. I am grateful to Uncle Dave (and everyone else) for the gift of books – the gift of ideas, really. I am grateful to my parents for encouraging my precocity. I am grateful to my twelve-year-old self for having a courageous mind, and a questing heart, and an empathic way. I am grateful to have these thought-worlds to revisit, to rediscover, to recapture all the selves I have been. I am grateful, because they all contributed, and in this latest incarnation of self, I am especially pleased.

It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment, she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real. (Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time)

 

 

They left me

with your shadow,

saying things like

Life is not fair

 

& I believed them

for a long time.

 

But today,

I remembered

the way you laughed

& the heat

of your hand

in mine

 

& I knew that

life is more fair

than we can

ever imagine

if

we are there to live it

— Brian Andreas,  www.storypeople.com

 

I have lived here all of my life and have endured, to date, thirty-one Wisconsin Winters. I used to enjoy them more (I also used to own and wear snow-pants). The older I get, the harder it becomes to look at brown, brown, brown for nearly six months in a row, to feel the shrill bite of wind on my cheekbones day after day, to see the sky shrouded in mourning gray for weeks on end.

It used to be that, around March or so, I’d finally get weary of the limited palette around me, and start to long for the verdant greens of Spring – but this year, I was already longing for them a month ago, daydreaming out the window and remembering the way that the first gentler breezes of Spring carry the smell of new life with them.

I’m not melancholy, precisely – it’s more that I’m inspired to be introspective during these winters. You can’t really help it – going outside is not appealing most days, so that means you stay inside – with everyone else who is also not going outside, together like this, for months. *Sigh*

I get a little maudlin. I start missing the people I’ve loved who’ve gone. Which leads me to think about all of the good times we had together (which is a good thing), but which makes me miss them so much that my skin hurts with the ache of it, and I cry in the shower so that no one sees.

And I don’t bemoan the unfairness of life, the unfairness of them leaving me behind (or at least I try not to). As Dani says, “I didn’t ask ‘Why me?’ when any of the good things happened, so why should I ask ‘Why me?’ when the bad things happen?” And she’s right. All of the ‘Why me-ing’ in the world has never brought anyone back to us, never undone a flat tire, never unspilled the milk.

So, instead, I try to be present in the missing of these people I love, and let my sorrow – my ache over the holes they’ve left in my life – be a testament to being human. To knowing, in the most inescapable way, brevity. I tell stories about them to remind the others I love that our sorrow is shared and that it is sacred to share the joy in the remembering, too. I let the Winter inspire in me a desire to spin tales out from the past, and bring them into the present, invoking the power of the love I have for my dearly departed in each breath.

And then I step back and realize that this is what it means to know that life is more fair than we can ever imagine – we get this shot at it. We get to make each and every day of our time here into whatever shape and color and tone and vibrancy that we want to. We get the opportunity, in each moment, to fill that space with a creation that comes solely from us, original and infinite.

The trick of all of it is to be present in it – to miss and mourn my loved ones, bringing them forth in time, and learning them anew. Feeling the pain and the joy of it as a part of what it means to be human, to be ephemeral, to be inescapably brief – but not to let it keep me from moving on and moving into the coming moments with vibrancy and awareness and intensity.

It means that, even in the cavernous yowling morass of the bitter Winter, when every time I turn around I see and hear another mopey-moperson bemoaning their fate from birth to today, I choose to turn it around. To feel the feeling in the moment, and let it be part of my present, and then let it go so that I can move on. To dial-down the volume on the moaners and the ‘Why me’-ers around me and recast my pain and my challenges in a new light.

To see not the oppressive steel-gray skies and scudding snow-laden clouds, but instead, see the way the Winter light falls soft on everything, turning the very air into shimmer and translucence. To see not the dour countenances on the pedestrians trudging past the window, but the child on the sidewalk in the bright red jacket whose mittens hang from strings threaded through her sleeves, face tilted up, mouth open, tongue out, waiting and giggling as crisp lacy snowflakes christen her face.

The idea of home has always captured my heart and imagination. I have always been fascinated by those people who are adept at creating inviting spaces where you immediately feel welcome and at peace. And being on the Path of Reiki Mastery, I was naturally led to think about the energetics of those people and the home-spaces they create.

My grandparents’ house was like that for me – I am certain that the love I felt for them colored my perception of all of it, but that has been one of the few places where I immediately felt a calm and sense of peace just walking through the door. Their home was in many ways, very World War II generation-ish, and maybe that held part of the mystique for me. More so, they had a loving home, and welcoming hearts, and when you walked in their door, you were greeted warmly and fed and coddled – no matter who you were.

I have not had that kind of home space since I first left my parents’ house. Time after time, I had this impulse to just wait it out and keep things in boxes. I never allowed my energy and self to fill a place in a genuine way. And for the past two years especially, it was more like prolonged “camping” – and in many ways I felt like a squatter in the apartment we shared with our roommate.

As Wittler and I prepared for our new glorious abode, minus the roommate, I started to give a lot of thought to what it would mean for both of us to create space where our presence was felt, and where each room was filled with welcome and warmth. And then I came across this from Denise Linn:

Our homes are mirrors of ourselves. They reflect our interests, our beliefs, our hesitations, our spirit and our passion. They tell a story about how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. A home is more than a place to lay your head and seek comfort from the elements. It is a place where you can interface with the universe. It is a crossing point in time or space that can attract or repel energy.

Your home can be a place of renewal and hope. It can be a sanctuary within which you can retreat and recharge during the changing times, and oasis of peace amidst turmoil. Homes can be places of healing and regeneration. Not only can your home help to strengthen and heal you, but your home can be a template of harmony within which you and all who enter can be invited to step up to a higher level of spiritual frequency.

…Like an echo heard throughout infinity, your home can be a transmitter of luminous energy. The energy radiating from your home can be like a small stone dropped into a still pool of the universe, whose ripples will be felt at the farthest shore of the cosmos.

(from Sacred Space, by Denise Linn)

And then, I realized that we were already creating that homespace together – Wittler and I – through our commitment to one another, our genuine enjoyment of one another, our similar commitment to acting lovingly in a sometimes harsh world … All of that combines with our optimism and positive outlook on things, our sense of shared burden and willingness to reach out to others. Our homespace is creating itself beautifully out of who we are, and who we are becoming.

Dani recently “reclaimed” her space at the shop, making it into a place that she found soothing and relaxing – a place that she found sacred. As she did this, I found myself really relating to what compelled her to do it, and to need it. And all of the people who walk into the store, or come for a group and gather in that space comment on it, and bask in it. When they do that, they are basking in her.

Instead of allowing worry about how our home appears to others, I am going to focus on wanting our home to appeal to us – and allow it to grow its own energy and beauty and peace out of that. And rest secure in the knowledge that this is how those homespaces I’ve so enjoyed were created, and know that we are creating ours with every moment and breath, with every shared laugh, with every conversation at the kitchen table, with every meal prepared and consumed in love.

And even more, we will bask in it. We will be at peace in it. And those who will enjoy that space will find us, and come to bask, too.

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)