Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Answering Questions That People Ask & Laying The Foundation For New Work & Dreams...

"We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be."

~o~ May Sarton ~o~

Maitri and Meyer's parrot, Sierra... 

Dear Ones,

Things are changing here, morphing, with the seasons, from an old Self going through the transformative process of woman into Crone, into Wise Woman, bringing together, at this juncture in my life, all that has come before, allowing the mature fruit to create a medley of  new flavors and textures, while still, at the same time, going deeper into what is, and not changing, visibly, to the outside world. No tossing the life I have created to the winds and sailing off to new lands, no, I am content to go deeper into this terra firma, and offer, from here, right where I am, all that I have to give. This has brought up a great many interesting things for me, and I would like to share with you both the new dreams and new work that will be coming out of the cottage, as well as answer some interesting questions that I am often asked, and that I have been asked again since the last newsletter went out on Sunday. And do sign up for the newsletter -- it's free and if you subscribe to the newsletter you will be receiving a free eBook in November and many other free gifts to come!

First -- and for ease I will put these into question and answer format -- questions that people often ask about Dragonfly Cottage and my life here...

Is Dragonfly Cottage a real place, in fact, is it real at all?

Ah, yes, and yes, and so much more than that.

You see, in 1999, in fact on the night of my 45th birthday, which was a fluke, not planned, and yet... we know that nothing is really a fluke... (4+5=9, the end of a cycle), I moved from my married home of 25 years into a tiny white cottage set up in the trees with a little picket fence around it. It was a shoebox compared to the large home I had left, but it felt safe, a port in a storm, a place where I could practically stand in the middle and reach out and touch all four walls. It was actually a garage apartment, as they are called now. They were servant's quarters behind the big mansions of the old south. The windows were hidden so deeply behind enormous trees I would reach out and hang bird feeders in them and watch as I worked at my desk, the wild birds eating just feet away from me. It was a time of loss, disorientation, a crumbling of everything I knew and loved, of all that was familiar. I was, like the Phoenix, crashing and burning, very nearly unable to rise from the ashes. But then... then the miracles began to occur.

Everywhere I went there were dragonflies. Places where there should not have been dragonflies, at times of year there should have been no dragonflies, there they were. They follow me to this day. The dragonfly is my totem animal, my teacher, my protector, the wise one who sits lightly on my shoulder and whispers in my ear. In Native American spirituality the dragonfly leads one out of illusion and into truth, out of darkness and into light, it is about death, transformation, rebirth. I became the dragonfly, and he led me from the brink of death back to life, literally. It was in that moment in time that I named my little cottage Dragonfly Cottage, and I created a website that had a 7 year run and over 1500 women came through the virtual cottage doors to sit with me in my kitchen and have tea while we talked about all manner of things. At 45 I had not only left a marriage I had come out a lesbian, had a loving and gentle parting with my husband to whom I am still very close today, and as my children grew through college and into their own lives I moved through the transformation that I wrote about for many years on the website called "Dragonfly Cottage," to help other lesbian woman find peace and grace in their lives. It was non-sexual, gentle, supportive, spiritual, artistic, and based in the precepts of compassion and loving kindness. The women were amazing and we helped one another through times that were hard for each of us in our turn, and celebrated joys and wonders, worked through the struggles that would ensue in any human endeavor, and always came back to a gentle place. Dragonfly Cottage wasn't supposed to merely be my home but a sanctuary for women around the globe and it was one of the first of it's kind with 15 mailing lists and a stable and growing community for some long time. I will always treasure the women that I met and the lessons that I learned during those years, but when the website closed Dragonfly Cottage, here, the one I am sitting in, was still very real. It was a physical space as well as a state of mind.

From that little cottage I moved 7 times from April 1999 to February 2010 when I came to roost in the Dragonfly Cottage I was meant to live in all along. The studio where I work is here -- I am writing to you from it right now -- and the large gardens I create, the fiber I spin into yarns and weave, knit, crochet, and create large fiber art pieces, it all happens here. The many rescue pugs and parrots that I write about are around me here as I type this, and at the same time I am working on a book whose purpose is to teach others to find their own "Dragonfly Cottage," however that might manifest in their lives and whatever name it shall have. The book I am writing is called Finding Dragonfly Cottage, and I write the story of how I found and created (and continue, daily, to create) my Dragonfly Cottage as well as how you can find and create your own.  

Dragonfly Cottage, for me, represents a haven that we create for ourselves so that we might be all that we were meant to be, in all of our glory, despite our circumstances, and even if no one else understands, we must live our lives in a way that works for us, even if no one else approves or understands. This can only come from a place of total love and acceptance, and it is rooted in the Buddhist teaching of maitri, the name I took as my own, legally, in 2005, when we were finally divorced. The name that would always remind me that my work, my life, were to be centered in compassion and loving-kindness, and, as is true in the teaching of maitri, we must first find compassion for ourselves. You cannot give from an empty well. You have no compassion to give to the world around you if you have not found it for yourself. When you do you can create the kind of place that will nurture you and allow you to flower into all that you were meant to, and from there life will unfold in ways you could heretofore not have imagined. So it has happened for me, after a long journey, and the journey continues on, and will continue on until the day I die.

So yes, Dragonfly Cottage is a very real place, and so much more.

A Question That Comes In Various Forms With Essentially The Same Meaning...

I am often asked some variation of this question: "If you live so cut off from the world how can you/do you care about the struggles in the outer world, war, famine, the world financial crises...?" and on and on. Somehow people think when I write about living a contemplative life with animals and beautiful gardens, reading, writing, working from home and seeing few people, that I am somehow cutting myself off from "the real world" and don't care what happens there, and this couldn't be further from the truth.

My truth, as I have often written, is that due to a past whose dark history, and subsequent mental and emotional struggles, make living a "normal life" in the world impossible for me does not negate deep caring, concern, and working in any way that I can, from where I am, to give to the world from an open heart. When I talk about "finding my Dragonfly Cottage," and wanting to help other people find theirs, I am talking about learning how to create a world for oneself, no matter what your life circumstances, going against the grain most likely, against much of what our society deems "normal" and if you don't fit that norm you are one of the misfits, and you can live bouncing from one way of being to another trying to fit in until you bounce yourself right off the planet, or you can learn to create a place that works for you. None of us will be creating the same kind of place, but the goal for each of us, with this work I'm doing, is to come to total love and acceptance for oneself and then to create a life from that place that echoes to the heavens all of the beauty and love that you are.

Yes, I care. I spend a great deal of time in prayer and meditation for others as well as myself and my loved ones. I donate what money I can and as my business grows I will look forward to donating more, but the work that I do will come from this place and that will always limit some of what I am able to do, while continuing, every single day, to open limitless possibilities for the income that I need to live, and care for my animals, and family and loved ones, and charities I care about, and tend this life I have created. No matter who we are, what we have come from, what we struggle with on a daily basis, we are still miraculous beings here on this earth with a purpose, but as with the teaching of maitri, wherein you cannot give compassion to another before you have it for yourself, you cannot fully live the life you were meant to live and do the work you were meant to do, bringing all of the gifts and talents you came to the life with, up and out into the world until you have a firm foundation to move forward from. This is my work. And it is no longer a dream as it has been for so many years, I am doing it.

Moving Forward...

In the newsletter that I sent out Sunday night, which you can read here, I quoted a woman who was for decades my Muse and in the last 3 years of her life a dear friend and mentor, May Sarton. May taught me much in our all too brief time of knowing one another through long phone calls and letters, and of her many books, her journals were the ones that meant the most to me and brought us together, and the journals grew out of her memoir, Plant Dreaming Deep, whose title came from a poem that May had written called "after du Bellay."

"Happy the man who can long roaming reap,
Like old Ulysses when he shaped his course
Homeward at last toward the native source,
Seasoned and stretched to plant his dreaming deep."

This poem means so much to me for so very many reasons, but now, at this time of year, and at this autumn season of my life, I have planted my dreaming very deep, and, no longer just dreaming, I am taking very real action to carve out not only a life for myself where I can feel safe, but a very real way that I can make a living and give the gifts that I have, now rooted in this earth, in this cottage, with these animals, with countless friends around the globe, I can write and teach and do my own form of coaching that I call "Deep Listening" which will help people bring the disparate elements of their lives together and weave them into the place where they, too, can finally land, take root, and plant their own dreaming deep.

And so now I am taking several classes, writing my book, preparing my first eBook to send out to my mailing list (There will be free eBooks that will be precursors to larger eBooks and courses that I will be teaching online. Simply sign up for the newsletter on the right side of this page to receive them.), designing my first class, getting ready to create podcasts, and by next year I will be taking clients for special private sessions via phone and e-mail.

I have been told that I could not make a living if I didn't leave this place, pound the pavement, travel the world promoting my book. Well I have learned that this isn't the case, I have learned from a wide array of teachers that with the technology we now have I can live the life I must and give the gifts I have to give from this cottage I have worked so very long and hard to create to be able to live in this world at all, and at the same time pour out all that my heart has to give, and there is so very much. I want to show others, like myself, who, for whatever reason, have been, as long as they can remember, the square peg in the round hole, that there is indeed a place for us, and we can love ourselves, celebrate all of who we are, and give back to the world. I am here doing it. My deepest wish is that I may help those who need it do it as well.

Until then I will continue on here doing my work, and right now there is an impatient little blind pug who is indignant because the only time she is not in Mama's lap is when I have long stretches of serious writing to do. Her cushy bed a foot away from me is a terrible hardship for her, so I will close here and pick her up while I reread and edit this entry.

Plant your dreaming deep. You have so much to offer. We all do. Don't let those in the world around you who don't understand sully the belief you have in yourself. You are a beautiful soul, I can feel it from here. Now let's each open the little packet we have in our pockets and put the seeds beneath the earth. The spring will bring more than you could ever imagine...

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessings to All,


Nicole said...

Maitri.. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and thoughts with this post. It is my first time visiting, but will not be my last. Your light shines brightly and I embrace it fully, and send it out to others. Beautiful Beautiful post :) Shine Goddess Shine

stregajewellry said...

Hello Maitri. What a pleasure to visit your cottage. this post really makes it come alive vividly in my mind. I found my way here from the Goddess Circle. Now that I know the way here I'll surely return.


Gigi said...

Maitri, I enjoyed reading this intro. I think you addressed people's questions about the (perceived) distance between your 'contemplative life' and 'the real world' really well. Glad to have found you through the Goddess Circle.

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