Tag Archives: writing

The Good Shit

I was up before dawn today, deciding not to turn over and go back to sleep when my husband arose to feed the cats and start his own day.  I curled up in the big chair in the office and pulled my pile of writing books next to me, looking for inspiration and a way to redirect my mind from remnants of restless dreams.  I found the inspiration in bits and pieces but it was when I opened my own writing notebook and read something I had written a little over a year ago that the sting of tears and the stir of the heart told me I had finally found my piece of gold.  Leonie Dawson has said that when you go back and read something you have written and it makes you cry, then that’s the good shit, that’s what you should share.  So, here it is, the thing that inspired me, my piece of gold – the good shit.

The following is from one of my writing notebook, it was in letter form to my Aunt and was never sent or shared, until now.  I’ve left it mostly unedited and as it was written that day.

October 5, 2012

Dear Aunt B.,

I saw a painting on a feather the other day while visiting an art gallery and it reminded me of you and the amazing paintings you’ve done on feathers.  Then today my writing prompt in Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, a book on the practice of writing memoir, was to write about a Mother, Grandmother or Aunt starting with “I remember…”.  I chose to write about you. 

I wrote about you in your hair salon downtown, about your look, about the music you had playing.  The memory of your long painted nails massaging my scalp at the hair washing station.  The Aussie shampoo, bubblegum scent.  The spray of warm water as you rinsed my hair and the deft twist of your wrist as you rung it out and piled it on top of my head with a long clip.   I wrote about helping you shear sheep.  I wrote about how you would move from one task and talent to another with a matter of fact, no nonsense way.  I wrote about how you loved to grow zinnias. 

Then after stopping the writing exercise more memories flooded forward and tears stung my eyes. A missing wrenched my heart as I recalled all our time spent together. 

Do you remember teaching me to throw metal buckets at the barn as a way to let go of anger and frustration?  We stood a ways back from the barn, metal buckets at hand and let them fly.  I remember the whoosh of release and the satisfactory loud clang as they hit the side of the barn.  It was easier to laugh after a few bucket tosses, and we did.  Then we would make our way back to whatever we were going to do next.  Garden, paint, learn how to fix the car, bake bread.  So many things you shared with me and I find each one is a special treasure stored up in my heart.

So, thank you, Natalie Goldberg, for that prompt and your wonderful writing books.  Thank you Leonie Dawson for helping me know when it’s the good shit.  And thank you Aunt B. – for everything.

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Upheaval

When things get messy I go within.  I don’t share much.  I don’t blog much.  Things have gotten messy.  I write in my journal.  I read.  I spend mass amounts of time in Nature, allowing her strength and healing and peace to infuse into me.  That’s where I’ve been, mostly, these past couple weeks.

Just before the Spring Equinox we noticed one of our kitties was having trouble eating.  Tigger is all about food.  Food and sunshine.  We took him to the vet and they arranged to do general anesthesia thinking he may need some teeth extractions.  But his teeth were fine.  Instead they discovered a mass under his tongue.  A few days later we got the results.  Cancer.  An aggressive form that quickly can grow and spread to the lymphs and lungs.  He’s going on 13, but up until recently had been nearly as energetic as he was as a kitten.   It was so sudden.  We knew that we would have to face letting him go, it was looking like sooner rather than later with how quickly things were progressing.

In the mean time on Spring Equinox my husband went into a meeting about a reorg at his work only to find out that what had been being said was untrue and many jobs were being cut.  His position was ending effective June 1st.  This will be the fourth time for us facing him losing a job in under ten years.

We had only recently figured out the direction we had been wanting to go.  I wrote about that in the post on The Tiny Idea parts one and two.  We had started working on the downsizing project, going through things steadily.  We had been looking at what steps we may need to take next.  We were counting on being able to pay off debt so we could make the big lifestyle changes we were wanting.

The thing is that we have wanted to switch directions nearly every time this has happened, but one thing or another, often inside of us was just not able to do it.  We continued on with the same old stuff, the same old lifestyle, the same old issues with finances.  So much has shifted in us now that we simply don’t want to continue on that same path yet again.  We know how strongly we feel about it and how we are trying to be very open to other possibilities and not give in to old thinking patterns, our own fears or those others may project on us.  We’re working on it.

In the mean time I spend a lot of time on the front porch, letting Tigger lounge in the sunshine and cuddle.  I take long walks in the woods and sit with the trees and plant allies that are so dear to me.  I walk barefoot on the earth in my front yard and soak in the Earth’s energy.  I dream.  I think.  I write.  I freak out.  I find peace again.  It’s part of the way things are when faced with uncertainty, and upheaval.  There is excitement and anxiety.  There is hope and there is fear.  Through it all I breath.  I give love to my kitties and receive it.  I connect deeply with the Earth and all the beauty of Nature that is unfolding around me as I wait to see how my own life will unfold as we go forward.

Cherries in bloom.  Just some of the beauty of Spring.

Cherries in bloom. Just some of the beauty of Spring.

Tigger enjoying the sun.  He is a sun worshiper extraordinaire.

Tigger enjoying the sun. He is a sun worshiper extraordinaire.

Heeding the Call: Personal Retreat from the Internet – Phase One Report

Last Wednesday I came down with one humdinger of a headache… again. That was my clue to finally stop resisting a much needed internet break. I had been feeling the need to get off-line and spend more time listening to my inner nudges for a few weeks and I kept resisting. In fact, I’d spend even more time online and that was when the headaches started setting in. Needless to say there were things that needed my attention and I was doing my version of sticking my fingers in my ears, squeezing my eyes shut and singing really loudly to not have to hear. Mature – eh?

So, now a week has gone by and I can tell I need more time. I’m taking a part of today to tend to several things that have been piling up in the inbox so that in another week I don’t feel completely overwhelmed when I come back into internet land. I can’t believe how much stuff can pile up in just a weeks time!

Not wanting to neglect my blog for quite so long I figured I better post something while I was at it. So here I am. What have I been up to in the past week of internet-free living? Oh my, where to start?

I’ve spent lots of time reading. I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in one day. Quite an interesting little book that leaves you with lots to ponder. I’m working through a beautiful book, The Bluebird Effect by Julie Zickefoose, full of inspiring naturalist writing and art that I am just loving. I’ve been working through the latest copy of Yoga Journal. And I have been learning a ton about working with your moon sign and progressed moon  in Amy Herring’s book Astrology of the Moon – what a bunch of gems in that one!

I’m working on planning a vacation for my husband and I to the Othello and Crab Creek areas of central Washington – one of our favorite places for spring outings. Oh the birds and the sunshine and the smell of sagebrush!

I have been watching all the birds coming to enjoy the newly flowering ornamental plums in front of the house. Bushtits, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hummingbirds, and House Finches to name just a few. The House Finches have been making it snow pink blossoms as they pull each one off, nibble the core, then let the rest float to the ground.

I’ve been enjoying all the new blooms that have been appearing over the last week as Spring begins to take hold more and more – Persephone has indeed begun her visiting! I spent one glorious couple of hours on a warm sunny day sitting on the porch journaling while being encased in the perfume of hundreds of Daphne blossoms from the plant next to my porch chair – pure bliss. I even got sun-kissed!

I’ve spent plenty of time enjoying my daily walks, letting them linger and then spending more time writing about them after I get back home. Just yesterday as I walked through Schmitz Park I was blessed by not one but two of Nature’s secrets being revealed – two different Anna’s Hummingbirds came buzzing by me and then landed in their respective nests. How sweet is that?! I can’t wait to watch as those nests start to hatch teeny tiny little baby hummers! Oh and nature is coming alive more and more as March takes hold. Salmonberries, Snowberries, and Red Elderberry are all beginning to leaf out. The forest floor is sprouting bleeding heart foliage and other fine greenery. The single clump of Trillium in the park are starting to pop up out of the ground. Oh and the bird song – beautiful! The Flickers are especially a delight to listen to as they chatter and call and drum – so full of enthusiasm!

I’ve spent more time with my daily yoga practice and spent a lot more time in meditation as well. I’ve been meditating with some new crystal treasures that came home with me this past weekend after visiting Gem Heaven for the first time – I can’t believe that I had not yet discovered this amazing shop in Pike Place Market! Jim, the owner, was so full of information, with detailed stories about where the stones came from – I was filled with lots of new info to digest after being there – it was indeed a Gem Heaven!

And I’ve had plenty of ups and downs as I work through some old stories that have risen again for further transformation and healing. I’ve been using writing, meditation, crystals and the tarot to help me work through all that a little at a time. Gently and with compassion as these are some difficult ones. The main reason I was resisting this time off line, most likely. It is so easy and tempting to hide away in internet land, filling your time and mind up to hide from your problems. I always know something is up when my computer time feels more like an addiction I can’t quit rather than a tool for connection, creativity and learning. Sometimes it just takes me longer to let go and face whatever needs to be faced… it’s always worth it though. And that’s why I’ll be taking another week offline after this brief interlude. I can feel there is still more to do. Still more to find healing and transformation in as well as finding balance again for going forward. I’ve got plans for more writing and for some art time, along with what I’ve already been doing – with lots of tree hugging and nature loving to keep me nurtured along the way! Till then – blessings and pink blossoms and sweet bird song to you all!

 

The Tarot – Getting to Know it Better

If someone is wanting to learn more about the tarot there are many ways to go about it.

If you just want to try it a bit and don’t have your own tarot deck then there are places on the web to do simple readings. I can recommend a couple of them.

The first is at  http://www.gaiantarot.com/.   There you will find a tab that says Free Readings.  This will take you to a page where you can receive a three card reading  using an opportunity/challenge/potential resolution layout.  These reading only use the major arcana (the first 22 cards) of this deck.

The second is http://www.annak-tarot.at/Anna_Englisch/index_e.html.  At the Anna K Tarot website there is a link that says Card Reading and a link from there that says Online Readings.  There are six different layout options here with brief descriptions for what each can be used for.  These readings use the entire deck.  I personally love The Secret of the High Priestess layout.

These are two fairly different decks so one may speak to a person more than the other. Both websites give the ability to look at all of the cards and see some basic interpretations of them.   I recommend exploring the websites a bit and seeing what’s there.  These are both awesome decks!

If you have a deck and don’t wish to buy a book at this point to learn more on how to use it, then the public library is a great option. I have two books that I love and they both tend to be in public library collections.

The First is  the one I mentioned in the previous tarot post, Tarot for Life.

The second is Tarot Outside the Box.

Of course there are a lot more tarot books out there and most public library systems will have quite a number. Every book offers different approaches to learning about and working with the tarot. Exploring what works best for us as individuals is the best way to go.

If you have a deck already, or can access an online deck like the two I have mentioned above, one of the best ways to learn about and explore the tarot is to pick a card and use it as a writing prompt. What ever stands out in the image or whatever the image evokes in you, what ever it might bring up in that moment, just start writing. If nothing happens at first then start describing, quite literally what you see. What kind of setting is it in?  What people, animals or plants are in it?  What seems to be happening?   And then go on from there.  Doing this practice regularly can really open the tarot up to us and help us to develop our own meaning for the cards.

The same process works when we have a question or situation that we are wanting to gain insight into. By using the tarot in this way we are working to pull the answers and insights out from within ourselves. It is an empowering way to work with the tarot and the way I would recommend the strongest. Another way to make sure that we are empowering ourselves instead of limiting ourselves when working with the tarot is to make the questions open-ended versus yes or no questions.

When we are feeling frustrated or stuck or down right desperate for clarity it can be terribly tempting to approach any divinatory tool (or even other people) in a just “tell me already” way. But in doing so we limit ourselves. We give our own personal power away. We cheat ourselves of the personal development and growth and peace that can come from digging deep within ourselves. We also rarely get the answers we’re looking for because usually the answer is already somewhere within us and something within ourselves is keeping us from seeing it. It can be a difficult and painful process to work through the things within ourselves that keep us from seeing clearly and from knowing deeply but also an incredibly empowering one.  For me the tarot is a tool to work through those layers and then somewhere underneath them all the clearness, the knowing, the answers are found.

So there is a starting place to getting to know the tarot for those that are curious where to start.  I hope this is helpful and as always I welcome questions in the comments!

Gratitude and Sunflower Seeds

I wake, just as the skies beginning to lighten.  Words are flowing through my mind, sentences writing themselves in that moment of quiet before I get out of bed.  I heed the call and rise, willing to show up and let the words flow into being on a page.  A lovely piece on Imbolc and the wheel of the year forming, seemingly on its own.  I get dressed, fill my pockets with stone allies for the day and go down stairs.  I quietly pull a simple breakfast together and then sit down in front of the computer.

I begin to type.  I stop.  I begin to type again.  I stop again.  That is when I see that somehow in the less that thirty minutes from when I woke to when I sat down at the computer the beautiful flowing river of words has exploded into a fractured, tangled, splattered mess.  Broken.  Lost.  I keep trying.  I know it’s not always easy.  I know I just need to show up.  But as I struggle it is as if I am trying to stack house sized boulders to build my sentences.  They resist.  I resist.  I begin to crumble, just like the words, just like the sentences.   Now I am broken, a scattered mess of a writer whose inner critic begins to rise and shout and beat me down all the more.  You’re too eclectic in your subjects,  the inner critic says.  You don’t settle into one voice or style, you’re all over the place, she needles.  Your writing dreams are too varied, she says.  How do you expect anyone to take you seriously, she asks.  I feel these pokes as physically as if she were solid and standing there beside me.  My throat begins to tighten and a pain settles into my sternum.  I know what’s happening, I can see it.  I can call it what is and know it does not have to be my truth but it’s a struggle, a battle I feel I am loosing in that moment.  I want to get up and walk away and I want to fight.  I know neither are the answer.

I call out for husband to come to me, I need his solid warmth and support.  He puts his arm around my shoulder and I share what I am going through.  He listens and gently reminds me to reach out to my guides.  I close my eyes and the tears begin to press against the lids as I feel several of them show up immediately.  They are there.  Ready to help me through this, ready to help me trample the barriers that stand before me, ready to gently nudge me forward, to help me persevere, to be grounded, to dive deep within me finding my words, to be joyful in the process, to trust that the wind does indeed hold me a float and to carry me from this place of pain and frustration to another where I soar.  They show me there is a place to keep my hopes and dreams safely held close to me and yet ready to be birthed.

I rise, slip on my shoes and go outside.  I breathe the fresh cool air laced with hints of wood smoke.  I walk around the yard and see the bright cheerful faces of Calendula recently opened up, seeming to shiver in the breeze that moves down the ally.  I walk back up onto the porch and settle down next to my cypress, petting it and bringing the citrus scent of its branches to my face.  I breathe deep and speak my gratitude to it.  I gaze at the bulbs planted in front of it and marvel at how much they have grown in the last week.  I wonder when they will bloom.

It is then that I see the movement in the bush in front of me.  My eyes wander through the forest of bare forsythia branches and finally find the Song Sparrow.    I think of how they sing, Song Sparrows, from the top of bushes, throat back and beak thrown open to the sky, loud and bold they sing.  I say hello and it begins to move again, hopping from branch to branch then onto the steps and to the rim of a planter.  Its tail dances about as I tell it how grateful I am for it being here this winter, how I look forward to seeing it each day when it comes to visit.

I rise and go inside.  Rummaging through the pantry I find a jar of raw sunflower seeds and carry it outside.  I toss a couple handfuls onto the lawn and then bend down to sprinkle a little on the steps.  I see the song sparrow move forward, once again in the forsythia, and as soon as I’m in the door it emerges from the shrub and begins to eat my offering.

I had something to offer.  It’s what I had right then and I gave it freely.  Tell me that doesn’t tie into all I was just going through… oh but it does.  I must simply give what I have in the moment and trust the rest to unfold.  I write these words instead of the lost words on Imbolc.  I give what I have – gratitude and sunflower seeds.