Sunday, May 30, 2010

Inter-Weaving ~ Heart & Hands & Life & Art ~ Returning To The Studio...

"Weaving to Winnie Henry--a handsome, wise and determined Navajo woman--is to weave together the pieces of your own life.
Every portion of weaving is a representation of Life.
The whole part of setting up the loom is the Universe.
What's in the Universe?
What makes Life?
How does Life live?
Every living plant on Earth lives for a reason.
Forward, backward living is Future.
What's in Life is all up to you, once you learn your Right and Wrong."

From "Weaving Life in the Dine World: an
Interview with Navajo Weaver Winnie Henry"

One of the great teachings of my life... weaving
"Ariadne's Thread."

Some of the greatest teachings of my life have come from my study of Navajo weaving and the culture of Navajo women weavers. When in the Southwest I longed to stay and study with real Navajo weavers, but alas I have had to study reading many books, watching videos, doing endless research, and by trial and error. What I have done is not Navajo weaving, but it is imbued with the spiritual aspects of
DinĂ© weaving, best expressed in my favorite book on the subject, Navajo Weaving Way, by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse. (I would also like to say that I receive no remuneration from any of the links in my posts. I simply add them so that you may find them if you are so inclined.) There is also a lovely website on DinĂ© women weavers  which you may visit by clicking the above link.

What I carry with me, from these teachings, and the myth of Grandmother Spider who wove the web of the world, is about the interconnectedness of all things. Human and animal, plants, the earth, the sky, the wind, the rain, everything above us, below us, and in every direction. All elements depend on one another to be all of a piece. It is just this that I have been striving to learn these last years, and finally, I realize that my work and life have both been disjointed because I was trying to separate them into neat little cubbyholes. This cannot be done without also tearing apart the tapestry of our lives. I am a woman, a writer, a fiber artist, a spiritual teacher and healer, a woman who tends animals and gardens, children and grandchildren, friends, students, and the food that I put into my body. They are not separate entities, and as I finally come to realize this, my work and my life are beginning to flourish.

As I have written, two weeks ago today I took a bad fall and cut my hand up pretty badly. Fortunately it is healing very well, the stitches are now out and while it will be quite awhile before the hand is back to normal, and it is very tender, I can, carefully, use it a little, with my left hand still carrying the bulk of the weight of the work at hand. And wanting badly to get my etsy store re-opened in early June, even though I will miss my June 1 deadline, I went into my studio on Friday and started pulling out fibers of all sorts and the many and varied elements that I use in making my batts. (For those of you who are not fiber-inclined, batts are used by spinners to spin into yarn. While this is not necessary and yarn can be spun simply using fiber itself, batting creates lofty fibers much easier to spin, and adding many varying elements creates beautiful effects one doesn't get using just plain fiber.)

The first batt that I made I made for my dear friend to use in a project she is working on. It was a good way to "get my feet wet" and regain my confidence, not to mention overcoming my fear about using my right hand at all. Once into it I was swooning with the over-the-moon love I have with making batts and simply working with fiber at all. Here is a picture of the batt I made on Friday...

First batt made for a friend on Friday...

Having gained confidence making this first batt, I went into my studio yesterday, as I am about to do today, and made the first of many "Pug Love Batts" (20% of my Pug Love Yarn and Pug Love Batts goes directly to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue.) I really wanted to start on the items that will help support the rescue and go from there. The batts are far easier for me to do than spinning yarn because of my right hand, so I am starting where I can and hope to have a dozen or so batts ready when I open my shop.

I thought I would share with you the process of making my first batt for the shop yesterday, a batt I call, "Falling Into Pug Love." It was a great joy to make and I can't wait to get back into the studio today.

First of all, my pug helpers, Harvey and Sampson, help pick out the fibers...

They don't always choose the ones I'd perhaps have chosen, but it all comes out in the wash, so to speak, and they seem to know very well what they want in the batts bearing their name!

Having chosen a pile of fibers and other elements I begin working on the Drum Carder...

Once finished the fiber is removed from the carder and laid out flat looks like this (The two sides have different colorways.)

Top Side...


Rolled Batt, First Side:

Second Side:

From the top:

It is actually very sparkly which doesn't show up in this picture but will be re-photographed for the store. The "ingredients" in this batt are many:

#1. Falling Into Pug Love
* Corriedale, Cotswold, Targhee, Coopworth, Rambouillet, and Romney
* Silk Noil
* Angelina and Flash in 4 different colors spread throughout the layers of the fibers. These give the batts incredible sparkle and iridescence

My batts are always extra large and extremely lofty and soft. It feels so good to the touch I was sucked into the fiber vortex once more and it sure feels good to be home! I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz clicking her ruby slippers repeating "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..." Sadly, the closest I come to ruby slippers are Red Crocs, but that's okay. One doesn't want to step in dog poop in the yard in ruby slippers after all. Dorothy only had Toto. I have an army!

Circling back to the beginning of this peace what I wanted to say is that the elements of my life are falling into place in an integrated way, where one aspect feeds the others and vice versa. When I'm working with the fiber ideas pop up for the writing. When I am walking the dogs new colorways and fiber combinations drift into my brain so that when I'm at the carder or able to spin, I have ideas aplenty. And I am already working on other small items for the shop. 

Since falling and hurting my hand, my whole life coming to a screeching halt gave me time to think about how often I have tried to compartmentalize to the detriment of the whole of my life. I see my life now as a house with many rooms. the doors open between each room. so there is a special space for each element of my life, but the doors are always open to flow from one to the other.

In closing I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers, Rumer Godden. This quote is from her autobiography, A House With Four Rooms...

"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual . Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person." 
I am getting my life in order, and it feels good.
Blessings and Love to one and all,

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Right Hand ~ The Deep Teachings Present In The Healing Process...

The Back Side. I'll spare you the picture
of the palm and fingers cut, bruised, and
stitched. And my Dragonfly totem is with
me to see me through...

First of all, I must tell you that I am right handed and I am currently only able to hunt and peck with my left hand and now -- and quite gingerly at that -- the index finger of my wounded hand. I can't do it too long or it hurts being connected to the middle finger which is stitched at the base going round to the ring finger side. The tip of the ring finger could have been cut clean off and is quite nasty. But as my body opened and the blood flowed profusely, I was carried downstream in this river that was not blood but the beginning of a long overdue shamanic journey and a very important one at that for many reasons. Today, in pain and knowing that it will take a frustrating amount of time to heal, I am filled with gratitude for all of the teachings that are now very present and necessary for this time in my life, and my life is about to change radically, in a very good way. It wouldn't have happened had I not plunged straight down into broken glass, but sometimes we have to break a window to get in, or out, sometimes it won't open on it's own. 

I must also include another aside here. I am about to discuss a drug I have been taking long-term, 8 years, for a severe anxiety disorder. I will not name the drug and my reason for writing about this is just to share my experience, not to advise anyone to take or not take any medication at any dose for any length of time. That is between you and your doctor. The medication is one that was needed at the time and served it's purpose, but in the end as the dosage was increased, and the years went by, I experienced a serious disconnect with my body. Again, I am a lay person simply sharing my story.

For over thirty years I have been in and out -- more in than out -- of therapy for a childhood filled with experiences I need not speak of. We all have our wounds and no matter what they are when they are ours we must find our own way to heal, with the help of medical professionals or other naturopathic doctors (or whomever you see for your health care needs). As a young married woman I had a nervous breakdown after barely a year of marriage and ended up in the hospital for a month on tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressant medication, and more. Just after getting out of the hospital I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. I was so terrified being that those first precious weeks of pregnancy when the wee tiny fertilized egg is growing into a person, I was taking drugs that could severely impact my baby's health and growth. I went off of all of my medication cold turkey and was seen several times a week by my psychiatrist because he were so concerned about my mental state, just out of the hospital and now, so quickly, off of the medication. The whole experience shook me to my core, and despite my fragile nature and ongoing clinical depression, and the fact that, in my child-bearing years I could again inadvertently be taking medications that might have an adverse affect on my babies, I stayed off of any medication and was carefully watched by doctors. 

I had my three children by the age of 29, but then I nursed each baby for a long period and couldn't take meds while nursing. I was hanging on by my fingernails at times, but the welfare of my little ones was the most important thing. For two decades I would touch no medication at all, much to the chagrin of my doctors who saw me have two more breakdowns and being so fragile I was practically transparent. They begged me to take drugs. I would not.

In 1993, on the cusp of my 40th birthday, and in terrible shape, I went on an anti-depressant that I stayed on, with a 2 year break half way through, until the last few months. It helped, but in 2002 I had another breakdown and had to go on two more meds. Eventually I would be medicated for Bi-Polar disorder as well, but as my nights were full of nightmares and I could not sleep. I was given a mild sleeping aid that I only took on hard nights, but with my increasingly elevating panic attacks, and diagnosis of PTSD, as well as moving closer and closer to the edge of full blown agoraphobia, I was given a common anti-anxiety drug that helped so much for the past eight years that I did not question the need to take it, nor did I think anything of it when the dosages were increased because my body was developing ongoing tolerance to it the longer I stayed on the drug. I have always been very cautious about medication, only taking the minimum amount, and the prescription would often last for 2 months, but still there was an ongoing stream of medication in my body and it was having a serious effect on my physical balance in this world, causing numerous falls and injuries, some serious, which were, unbeknownst to me, a side effect of the drug.

My lesson is that we, many of us, have to take medication, but we need also to do our own research and watch our body's signals and work with our health care providers very mindfully and not just pop pills as directed without even thinking of the ramifications to our bodies. I have had a number of serious injuries because I was not listening to my own body or questioning the drugs I was taking. Some I will always have to take, my Bi-Polar medication which gives me a balance and normalcy, as much as I can have, in a world where I have spent my life in the middle of a see-saw watching each end go up and down, up and down, up and down, being swept away into sometimes cyclonic states that only another Bi-Polar person can understand, I will always have to take. My medication has balanced my life and made me more whole and for that I will not only be forever grateful that after nearly 30 years in therapy I was properly diagnosed. Finally, there was a proper name put on the seesaw, and with the right medication my life changed dramatically. But...

There was a push-pull in my life that made me increasingly panicky, unable to sleep almost at all, more withdrawn than ever, and it happened during my mother's five year battle with cancer that finally ended her earthly journey this past December. The dosage of the drug was raised, and while it calmed me I became less and less in touch with my physical body taking more and more falls. As I had gained a lot of weight and already had compromised my feet by serious surgery that left me with a wonky unbalanced walk, I chalked it up to those things when I kept falling, including falling down a staircase and breaking both feet so badly I was in two casts for 6 months, then a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane ... it was one year before I could walk again. And the hits just kept coming.

I moved into my new home the first week in February and I cannot begin to count the number of times I have fallen both inside and out. Once I went down so hard on one side on my tile kitchen floor I was afraid to  move for fear something was broken, and the whole right side of my body was badly bruised for weeks. Still I chalked it up to my feet, and even though I have lost about 75 pounds I still have quite a way to go so I still considered the weight a factor. Talk about walking around with blinders on.

Too, for sometime, after decades of writing for magazines and newspapers, having had 3 small presses, and written a number of books, I couldn't finish anything, and any creative project I took on, or something as simple as housework, I was not able to stay focused enough to do. With a lifetime of clinical depression the fact that my writing and my art, which I could no longer get a handle on, and which have always been my life's blood and kept me going through the worst of times, was disappearing into the mists. I was becoming more and more profoundly depressed and cut myself even further off from the world. I despaired that I would never have a creative productive life, and for someone who has the history I have had, including suicidal thoughts, I was treading in very dangerous territory. And then I hurled to the ground last Sunday night and cut myself to pieces. I've never seen so much blood and my right/writing/art producing/working hand was rendered unusable, at least for several weeks ahead of me. As I plummeted to the ground for one brief moment, a mere blink in time, I saw the dragonfly tattoo on the back of my right hand, but then lost the memory in a pool of blood with my daughter and son-in-law rushing about getting towels and getting me into the car to head to the Emergency room.

It was 2 days before I really looked at my tattoo again, and I sat in awe and wonder because at the same time my closest friend who had worked for 20 years in the hospital consulted one of his doctor friends who immediately questioned the long-term use of the anti-anxiety medication. On further study I found that the drug not only causes an instability in the body and falls are common, but it also dulls the mind and all in one instant the fact that I was always falling and unable to do my precious work had a name. It was decided, with the advice of one doctor and a consultation with my own, that I needed to come off of this drug completely. I have been on it for so long I have to be carefully monitored as the decrease happens in increments every 2 weeks and it will take 8 weeks to get me off of the drug completely, but all of a sudden I felt a strength and a sense of hope and joy that I didn't know I would ever feel again. I was not in a hopeless body that would be constantly falling down causing worse and worse injuries as time went by, and my creativity would rise up from a deep well. I wept with a kind of release and relief I have not felt in too many years to count. I will be alright.

Throughout this whole journey my dragonfly totem has been leading me, as dragonflies do as totems, out of the darkness and into the light, taking me through a metamorphic journey that will, very soon, allow me to fly, not fall. My tattoo is a beacon of light and hope and remembrance. I meditate on it, and my heart lifts. The large dragonfly flys over a full moon amidst the swirling cosmos around it in a sky twinkling with stars. He can see everything from his vantage point. I am beginning to see a great deal more from mine.

For the time being I prefer to look at the back side of my hand rather than my palm and fingers that are all cut and stitched up. Stitches, no matter how minor the injury might have been in the whole scheme of things, have always made me embarrassingly squeamish, but they too have a part in the story. As a metaphorist I see everything in metaphors. The profuse bleeding caused quite a lot of blood to flow out, in a cleansing way, and seeing my stitched hand and fingers, I realize that I can be healed and whole in my own way, and, like my dragonfly tattoo, the scars on my hand will be marks of remembrance. I must remember to stay in touch with my body, to live mindfully in it, and to realize that there are many other natural treatment modalities that can help me ease anxiety while keeping me upright on the ground and at work both writing and doing my art. 

Again, I share this story with you not out of pity or remorse but as an awakening, and the knowledge that we can always find new ways to live and be as long as we are alive. May we all follow our hearts, the bright light within, and seek to follow our spiritual path, whatever that might be for any of us, as a steadying force in our lives.

I wish, for each of you, health and wholeness in mind, body, and soul, and will continue to share with you, through the series of books I am working on, the continuous, conscious journey that I am on, in hopes that it might help others. If even one person is touched or helped by what I have to share, I am deeply blessed. We are not here alone. If I don't do well out in the world, I give from the deepest part of my being through my writing and art. May my work be a vehicle of peace, hope, light, love, and joy. This I pray.

Now my hand is asking you to beg our pardon. It is telling me it has had more than enough for today, and, hidden under the dragonfly, where it can rest in a cocoon and heal, it will continue to teach me through this long healing process more than I know I can imagine in this moment. The veil has been lifted for me, my world comes into clearer focus each day. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh No!

Having just announced the opening of my etsy shop yesterday I took a fall last night at my daughter's and as I fell the glass in my hand shattered and my hand went down onto the shards of glass as I hit the ground and it got all cut up so bad I bled terribly and spent half  the night in the emergency room with stitches in 3 places, my right hand, and I'm a mess. My daughter spent the night with me and it will be awhile now before I can do anything. Sheesh. Spinning will be way too hard for awhile, as well as making batts and any kind of other fiber artwork so my store is suspended until my hand heals. I'm typing with one finger of my left hand so I'll stop here. The pain medication is making me woozy. I just can't believe the timing but I will get going again once I can.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Etsy Shop Opening June 1. Blog for shop just opened! More coming very soon!

You can click on the above graphic to see my etsy shop, re-opening June 1. It's empty now but has the category lists and notes on things to come. I'm super busy right now working away here in my studio and my little elves (who look amazingly like pugs) are helping as much as they can because my one-of-a-kind handspun yarns that I am calling "Pug Love" yarns will help support the rescue that my puggaroos and puggarinis came from, Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue. 20% of the sales of "Pug Love" yarn will go directly to the rescue. I also do special order yarns and batts for those interested. Here are a few pictures of some of my work similar to some things you will find in the shop. (These items are all sold.)

"Rainbow Magic"  ~ a very heavy yarn for
weaving a table mat.

"Candy Land," spun for a charity auction

Clara's Heart
, in honor of Clara Schumann


Roses in Heaven
, spun with 12 different fibers

A set of 2 yarns still on the spindles.

And here are three of my "Wabi Sabi Wooly Wonder Batts" that are very large, 12 ounces to one pound so spinners have a lot of fiber to spin for larger projects...

Harvest Moon Batt
, 16 ounces

Catching Angels Unawares, 12 ounces

There Be Leprechauns Here! 14 ounces

You can also check out the blog for my Flickr page of fiber and other artwork at Maitri's Heart and Hands Designs Blog, and I'm about to write the second entry there now! That blog will be the working blog for the things I'm selling, ruminations on the life of an artist, art as a form of healing, and more. I'll look forward to seeing you over there! I will also be adding my OOAK Art Dolls into the mix. I'm so excited to be back in the studio.

Happy Days to one and all. My elves and I have to head back to the studio!

Wee little Babs wearing a freeform
crochet hat I made for a one-of-a-
kind Art Doll. Babs wants to say --
"Buy our stuff, we have to eat too.
You don't think I'd be here wearing
this stupid hat otherwise, do you?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Welcome To Dragonfly Cottage... Finally Landing In My Beloved Cottage After 11 Years...

If Home is where the heart is
Then may your Home be blessed
A shelter from the storms of Life
A place of rest,
And when each day is over
And toil put in its place
Your Home's dear warmth
Will bring its smile
To light the saddest face!

~John McLoed ~ 

Eleven years ago, after the end of my near three decade long marriage, I was cast adrift on a sea that I was ill-prepared to sail upon. After several moves and some near disastrous mistakes, I settled down into a little older townhome where I lived for 8 years. But when you have a lifetime of accrued possessions and left the 3000 square foot marriage home for a teeny, tiny cottage no bigger than a tissue box, with most of your possessions in a garage that flooded during a hurricane, ruining a life's worth of over 300 journals, many of my beloved books and other possessions, you are at the beginning of the metamorphosis that would, eventually, be the beginning of a new life. Then, I could not imagine it, I could only see and feel the loss. 

It was at this time that while trying to survive physically and emotionally I created a little garden around the tiny white cottage with it's sweet little picket fence -- the year was 1999 and I had moved out of my married home on April 30, 1999, my 45th birthday, not intentionally on my birthday, it just happened that way. Gardening has always been my salvation, the most healing activity for me, and so there I was in my tiny garden planting flowers and herbs, and it didn't surprise me that there were dragonflies all around, as they often are in gardens, but there was no water anywhere around that they might have been drawn to, and there seemed to be, well, quite a lot of them.

My little place was up above the garage, surrounded by large old trees so close to my windows that I would open them and hang bird feeders in the trees just outside the second story, and watch the wild birds come to the feeders which fascinated my parrots inside no end. There was a very long, tall metal outdoor staircase that led up to my little cottage in the clouds and I began to find it odd that several dragonflies would follow me up the stairs and hover around the little landing as I went in the door. I hung baskets of flowers and a little hanging water dish for them and for the wild birds on this tiny landing to offer them a place of respite, but the numbers of them and their continuing close proximity to me I found rather fascinating and perplexing. Then, I started dreaming of dragonflies. 

Having studied Native American spirituality I was very aware of totems, and I have quite a collection of Zuni and Navajo fetishes from my trips to New Mexico. That's when I realized that the dragonflies were not just a happy coincidence but that they had come, as teachers and healers, to lead me out of the darkness and into the light, and to teach me the lessons I needed to learn. Dragonflies represent metamorphosis, and I was at the beginning of a huge life change that I couldn't even yet fathom. I had left a decades long marriage, my children were grown, and I had finally come out as a lesbian. The dragonfly was leading me out of the shadows I had lived in my entire life since the days when my childhood, rife with abuse, dark corners, and frightening secrets made me more comfortable with hiding and living in a cloistered world. Now it was time to turn the corner toward the light. I loved my husband and children, but the time had come to be who I really was. I thought the change might be the death of me, in fact it was the death of my old self. I named my little cottage Dragonfly Cottage in honor of the totem creatures who had come to lead me through this dark passage and to honor the journey toward the light.

In the intervening years I would move 6 times before finding this precious home of mine, my seventh move, and each place I lived in was "Dragonfly Cottage." For me, it became more than a physical place, it was a state of mind, something that I carried inside myself like a precious gem, the eternal flame inside of me that would not go out, the spark that kept me alive and going when I did not believe that it was possible. More than once I came to the precipice of deepest darkness, but the dragonfly always pulled me back, literally. Once, in the little old townhome, I was really at the brink of despair. I was dangling so far off the edge that it seemed the only peace I would ever find was just to let go completely, and then a miracle happened. I heard the softest, barely audible bump against my patio door, and much to my amazement, when I opened the door, the most beautiful dragonfly I have ever seen in my life flew right inside. Not just for a moment, for over an hour. 

He sat with me on my hand, on my shoulder, on my knee. He just sat. Afraid to move or breathe I reached for my camera and took as many pictures as I could. I could feel my whole body relax. I don't know what kind of dragonfly he was but he was huge, and a bright glittering, irridescent gold. I will share with you, here, some of the pictures I took then...

And after an hour or so, he flew off of my hand and back onto the window ledge next to the door where he had come in.

His work was done. I was pulled back from the brink, never again to consider death as an option. I was turned toward the light by a shimmering golden creature lighter than air, and he left such an indelible mark on me that I had a huge dragonfly flying over a full moon with tiny stars twinkling up to my ring finger and in the other direction up my arm tattoed on the back of my right hand/wrist. I had taken my totem permanently as a reminder not only of he who came to save me at a crucial juncture, but, putting it on the back of my right hand so that I, as a right-handed writer, would always remember to use my writing for spiritual good. 


In June 2005 our divorce was final. At that time I felt a deep need to change my name, a name that would represent the spiritual path that I was on and would be on, going deeper and deeper, for the rest of my life. Having been a student of Buddhism for over 30 years at that point, and having decided that my work was meant to be centered in the teaching of maitri, the teaching not only of loving-kindness and compassion, but most importantly that you must first have love and compassion for yourself. You cannot give from an empty well, and in trying to do so the consequences may be dire, at the very least in that empty dark state where you have nothing to give to others, you cannot flourish and live as you were meant to. I took Maitri as my first name, and Libellule, the French word for Dragonfly, as my last name.

I am half French, and my biological grandmother's maiden name was Papillon. Butterfly. It seemed only fitting that I would take the last name Libellule, the name of my totem, and my name, Maitri Libellule, would be my guiding star for the rest of my days, it would remind me of the way I wanted to walk in the world, what I wanted to share and teach, what my purpose and responsibilities were, and I knew it would take me all of my life, the rest of my days, to come close to learning what I need to know, and to teach and share all that I am meant to.

In July of 2005 I walked outside on the courthouse steps, legally, and for all time, Maitri Libellule. I did not, at that time, begin to realize the impact that taking the mantle of the teaching I meant to follow and to share, and my totem, the dragonfly, would mean. I had not chosen an easy path, but I wouldn't have chosen any other for all the world. And my life and work continued on from there, going deeper and deeper through the following years. 

I need not record the details of the journey to this point other than to say that on the brink of the new year, 2010, 5 years after changing my name, I knew that something enormous was happening. I was about to cross a threshold into the new life that I had been preparing for for nearly 11 years. My mother passed in mid-December after a courageous 5 year battle with cancer, and in January I bought the home I had seen the summer before, surprised that it was still available and the price dropped considerably. With the sale of my townhouse and a little extra I bought my dream home, the little cottage that was years in the making, and I came home to the real Dragonfly Cottage where I was meant to live, and do my work, creating a magic garden for solitude, delight, a place to heal and meditate, and be close to nature; the place where I would write my books and teach what I was meant to teach; and to do the fiber work that tied me to the centuries of women who have worked with their hands, spinning fiber into yarn into tapestries and more. I had landed, finally, where I was supposed to be. It had been a long journey, but I needed to walk every step of that journey, and I know I am still only beginning. It is as if at 56, now, my real work can begin, and I am finally settled in my own home, my sacred space, where I was meant to be.

Without really thinking about it, in March I found myself going into a tattoo studio to have my rather simple dragonfly tattoo embellished and it is now quite complex and stunning. I hadn't really thought about it but now that I had a home, and the real Dragonfly Cottage had finally materialized as it was long meant to, my life was beginning to metamorphose once again, and the dragonfly on my hand did as well. I don't have a picture of the new tattoo but I will post a picture when I take one sometime soon. 

Finally, I was working in my studio last week. The studio is a very large room with windows all the way around that look out onto my deck on one side hung all the way around with bird feeders and windchimes, the windows I look out as I work at my computer, watching the birds just a foot away from me eating, afraid to breathe I am so delighted to be so close to them, and the long wall of windows down the other side look out over The Magic Ship Garden that I am working on. This particular day was a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day, and all of the windows were open letting the fresh air waft through the house "rinsing it clean" as I always think. All of a sudden, out of nowhere it seemed (Had it come in the dog door with the dogs?) something flew past me and it was so big I thought it was a bird. It flew directly into the screen and couldn't find it's way out. As I looked closer I realized that it was a dragonfly, and I had no idea they could get that big! Right in the middle of my Dragonfly Cottage Studio was the biggest dragonfly I had ever seen and he took my breath away. I didn't know what to do. 

Gently, very gently, I cupped my hands around him, called to my friend to come open the door, and I set him free. I believe he had come to welcome me home, and to let me know that he was here with me too, that he would always be near me. We are of the same tribe, this dragonfly and I. And this beautiful little spot that I have finally found, after 11 years, and had the ability, at near 56, to move into, is without a doubt one of the greatest gifts of my life and meant to be. 

And so I am home, and I am writing the book I had put off for some time and all of the fiber and fiber equipment are being set up in my studio so that I will begin selling my yarns and fiber creations and more by June, donating a portion of the proceeds to pug rescue, and the pugs and the parrots and Big Dog Moe and I will live here in perfect harmony, and I fall to my knees in deep gratitude, and every morning and every night as I go to bed the first and last words I utter are "Thank you God." I am here, I have made it, now my work can begin in earnest, and I am no longer running toward, or away from, anything. I am here.  

Welcome to Dragonfly Cottage. It feels good to be home...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beginning My 57th Year Filled With JOY, Second Bloomings, and Juicy Crones!

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - that a whole new life has opened before you.

~ Agatha Christie ~

That's why I love to juxtapose the word "juicy" with crone. Initially, you don't think that they fit together, but when it clicks in that they do fit together-and the juicy crone might be a way to think about yourself-it's sort of a delight. And I maintain that the crone phase can truly be the crowning glory of a lifetime!

~ Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen ~

Can you tell how joyful I am about this age and stage of my life? There's never been a better time for me. I have been a daughter, a wife, I am a mother, a grandmother, a writer since I was nine years old and publishing before and since I was 20. I am an artist, and a wild wooly fiber-worker. I am an interfaith minister with my heart wide open to all people walking any spiritual path that is based in gentleness, loving kindness, and compassion, one that is non-judgmental and accepts all who would meet them in this spirit. I am a healer, I have been a journal writing teacher for over thirty years. I am am deeply involved in animal rescue and have a house full of little creatures who are my heart and soul.

My whole life I have been working toward becoming all that I knew I could be, even when few understood my journey, and as I pass through the portal from 55 to 56 and begin my 57th year, I am positively brimming over with joy and a sense of having "landed" smack dab into the middle of all that I was meant to be, finally the metamorphosis, the transformation, the amalgamation, a new beginning grounded in decades of living and studying, writing, teaching, working, healing, and creating art in many genres. My birthday, yesterday was a pinnacle of so much more than I can express, and the path before me -- though I'm certainly no Pollyanna believing it will all be sunshine and roses -- is already, I can see from this vantage point, strewn with wildflowers, love in many directions, and gratitude in abundance. I will succeed. I will love and I will not fear life anymore. In this very moment I can tell you that if feels good to be me! And I can tell you that that is the first time I have ever said that in my whole entire life!

So yes, I am 56, crossing over into Cronehood with the last of my menses disappearing in the vapors, and finally settling into my own body as the sacred and joyous vessel that it is. I am coming to truly love and celebrate myself as never before. I am valuing myself in a way I never dreamed possible, and my work and my life are sprouting in every direction like seeds in spring, like popcorn popping all over the place.

As I write this I am in the middle of creating a very large garden which only this year is beginning and will be many years in the making -- I will enjoy every year ahead as the garden comes into it's own and becomes the garden of my imagining. I will be growing right along with it, blooming where I'm planted, and growing more deeply rooted with bigger and many more fragrant flowers growing on the cloak I wear as a woman, ever-becoming. I am one of the flowers I am growing in my very own garden.

I am working on three different books and they are all finally moving forward a little more each day. One, the front runner from the point of view that it will be finished first because of the kind of book it is, gets the most attention because it has already been gestating inside of me for many years. The second book will probably take 2 years because of the research involved, and the third book, a large mixed media book may take five years to finish creating and I am quite comfortable with that. Where am I going?

Many people hit 40 and are in despair feeling that their lives are over and what have they done? I always remind my students that Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was 75, painting until she was over 100, and is the most famous woman folk artist that ever lived. Age, time and space are relative. I feel like I've just been shot out of a cannon, my life just begun, and I am, in my 57th year now, happier, more excited, and more at peace, more grounded, than I ever have been.

There is a domino effect happening in my life that is, for me, awesome to behold. In January I bought my first house ever on my own. The house, as many of you have read and seen in the pictures in blog entries here, came with a great big Magic Ship in the back yard! (Well, it wasn't in such great shape when I got here, but after having it restored, and painted pink purple and orange, it kind of set sail in the seas of my imagination and there's no turning back!) My back yard looks like a Dr. Seuss book and I am having a planting frenzy in such a state of bliss, the whirling dervish of seeds inside of me spinning so fast that I am watching things sprouting all around me even as I am planting more.

The Magic Ship emerging from the woods...

My house is coming into order in a way it never has before. And my one studio that I feared would be too crowded has now been divided so that I now have two studios. My attached garage has now become my fiber studio and it will be magnificent. Pictures of my studios will arrive here as soon as they feel ready to show themselves to the world. (Well, you know, there are so many things that live in an artist's studio that most people never see. What with the fairy folk and pink flamingos sticking their beaks in and Lord help me, the gnomes! And the one of a kind dolls come to life and heaven only knows what they might be up to. I mean if a studio isn't ready to be photographed, well, some little body or other will make the camera disappear...) So stay tuned and the pictures will arrive when the wee folk let them!

My main studio inside with the wonderful windows all the way around looking out onto the garden with bird feeders at the window I look through sitting here at my computer onto my deck, wind chimes tinkling everywhere, is my writing/publishing/mixed media studio and the work in these two studios, while they will sometimes intermix, are best kept divided to be orderly and have things easily found for the task at hand. So now instead of one tiny room so overcrowded I couldn't get into it in my last home, I now have two spacious studios, not to mention an ark-full of parrots, puglets and Big Dog Moe, plus all of the wildlings that are part of our world here.

And so I am 56. And I have arrived at the beginning of the wondrous journey before me. And I am happy and full of joy. And my work is ready to once more launch itself into the world. The writing/publishing/fiber art and more are cranking up again like Santa's workshop before Christmas and will be going ever onward into the future, no matter whatever life may bring. I am singing my song, and my angels are all around me.

Walt Whitman, so dear to me, such a guiding star for me through his writing, summed up very well how I am feeling just now, In Song of Myself. He wrote:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Sing it Walt. I'm singing with you...