Saturday, December 31, 2011

On The Eve Of The New Year...

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."

~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"~

Dear Ones,

We are in the last hours of 2011. My, how fast a year goes. And it is true that things end, a year passes, some things, some people, we will never see again. Some of us will have lost a dear one. Some will have lost jobs. Some will be in such drastically different circumstance at the end of this year that they would not have believed possible at the end of 2010 as the clock neared the near year. But here we are, where we are, on the verge of where we will be. And the one thing we can always count on is change, and as the poet T.S. Eliot so wisely wrote, "To make an end is to make a beginning."

I am not alone in my tradition of spending New Year's Eve taking stock of the past year -- lessons learned, mistakes made, joy experienced, people who have left my life and others who have entered... someone whom I still long for, deeply, who has been gone from my life for a few years, but whom I have learned to carry in my heart and carry on, animal companions who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge and others who have arrived, a book not written, lessons I hoped to learn not yet learned, and joy so great it breaks the bounds of every expectation I might have held, and so much more. -- Yes, an old year is passing and another is about to begin.

I do not regret any of the hard times, or disappointing times, for they have brought me to where I am today and we can never regret who and what and where we are in this moment. We have a whole new year to carry on toward the goals we will set for ourselves, not the typical New Year's resolutions (Does anyone ever keep those?) but the goals we set for ourselves, the ones we feel deep inside even if we have not yet fully acknowledged them. We know what we don't want to repeat, we know what we want more of, we know the changes we want to make and those changes that we have begun to make that we want to settle into more deeply. These things needn't be spoken, we carry them inside like a woman pregnant with a child, these things that are full of potent possibility abundant. I have always, even in my darkest hours, been a glass half full kind of woman, and so I shall always be. I believe my loved one will return, I believe that this year I will finish my book and that it will change my life, I know that there will be roads not yet taken, roads I could never imagine taking that I will indeed take with joy and delight, filled with surprise and wonder, and I know that there will be hard sad times that I'm very glad I cannot foresee. These things, all of these things, are part of the human experience. And so I reflect back over the last year, and feel the excitement of the year to come.

Too, I treasure the present moment and all it holds. I am not out celebrating as many are, I am in my humble home, listening to the washer going and clothes tumbling in the dryer. I am sitting in my desk chair writing with my four beloved pugs all snuggled together on blankets under my feet. My air filter is humming away next to me, and the dogs and I have been out and will go out again and as they wander around the yard and do their business I will look at the garden, barren now, but I see next year's garden in my mind -- vegetables, herbs and flowers -- and one thing I will do this night is order seeds. That feels very significant. There are seeds I can plant and scatter in our warm coastal region teetering back and forth this year between freezing and temperatures in the seventies, because they need to be planted in late fall or winter. I will plant them at the beginning of the New Year, and the spring garden will begin even when I cannot see it. Gardens are an enormous act of faith, as is life. I have faith that this year will be full of so much that will fill me and change me and no matter what comes this time next year I will be grateful for it all. It will not all be easy, there will perhaps be grief and sadness beside joy and wonder, but it is all part of life moving forward. The beginning of the new year will find me planting seeds in my own life, with hope, and faith, and the determination to carry through even when I cannot yet see the results. We are all gardeners in our own lives. Having faith is the key to yielding a good crop. Some things won't sprout and grow, but there will be plenty of things that grow in such abundance it will take my breath away. That is how I see the new year.

This year I am 57. In April I will turn 58. In 2011 I finally hit the tipping point, my menses stopped and I am now in menopause. Many women dread it. I am simply delighted. I am now a crone. I will grow in wisdom and appreciate life more everyday. I can use the wisdom I have gained and that which will come to help those younger ones around me, and in spring I will have another grandchild, another daughter giving birth, a celebration unparalleled. I feel a deep sense of peace as I grow in faith. I embrace the tenets of many faiths and my life is all the richer for it. I am more and more open to the richness and diversity of the world, and my life expands accordingly. I walk around my house doing my daily round of chores whispering "Thank you," over and over again, to God, to all that I hold sacred, to the angels and spirits that companion me on this journey, and I grow more and more filled with gratitude for the smallest things. These are abundant riches for if we can celebrate the smallest things, those things that come along that are bigger than we could ever have imagined send us over the moon, into the cosmos, we can touch the stars.

Tonight I will go out with the dogs and I will reach for the stars, the stars that sparkle in the firmament of my life even though they are still far far away. I am content to wait, because there is so much to do along the way. Everything will unfold as it should, and the very thought of that delights and excites me. I wish you a new year filled with good health, peace, contentment, and all good things that life can bring. I wish you the strength and people to support you lovingly through the hard times. I see so much that is possible for all of us. Let us plant our seeds, and watch our gardens grow.

To the New Year and all it will hold! Let us bow in gratitude for the old year as it passes and open our arms wide for all that the new year will bring. That is how I will say goodbye to the old year and greet the new year ahead. To 2012! To life and all it brings..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Very Brief Christmas Post From A Very Tiny Girl...

From Penny Pug and All The Rest Of Us! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dear Ones, If You Are Sad And Melancholy For Times Past During The Holidays, Make New Memories, Write New Stories...

“When one door closes another opens. Often we look so long so regretfully upon the closed door that we fail to see the one that has opened.”
~ Helen Keller ~

This piece is dedicated to my dearest friend, the woman who is the sister I never had, who once again brought me out of the darkness and into the light with her good counsel. Telling her that I was sad and melancholy, as I become every year during the holidays, stuck in the memories of Christmases past, and how now, divorced, children grown, the hub-bub, excitement, secrets and surprises, decorating the house and more no longer exist. I get up on Christmas morning alone, save my menagerie of animals whom I dearly love, they who make my lives richer, and make me feel loved every day, but still it is not the same.

My dear one said, "Okay, that was then, this is now. You need to write new stories for your life right now. What new rituals can you create, what new delights can you bring into your life that you can do just for you that will create a new narrative for what the holidays can mean for you now?" Of course I am paraphrasing, she said it much better than that, but her point was well taken and set me to thinking. So I am making new rituals, I am dreaming new dreams, I am living in the now, and all of a sudden I am finding myself delighted, joyful, giddy-happy and doing things just for me that I never did before because those around me didn't want to or it wasn't their cup of tea. It all began, about 6 weeks or so ago, with bad plumbing.

I hired the brothers of my best fella friend who do amazingly beautiful work at very fair prices. They fixed the plumbing in both bathrooms and the kitchen. And then we stood in the kitchen and one said, "You know, I could get a used sink that is practically new. It would be $500 new but I can get it for $50 because it was in a new house that the new owners didn't want. It was my dream sink. Old fashioned white porcelain with white handles. A big open sink, deep, and beautiful. I looked and looked at that sink, and it looked so grand that the old worn white speckled counter-top looked drab and everything in the kitchen was painted white, with white appliances, an off-white tile floor, and all circa 1970. I sighed. I had to have some color.

The one thing colorful in my kitchen was the old vintage wooden booth that I had purchased when moving in nearly 2 years ago. Everything I bought for the house, my beloved cottage, was old, used, vintage, cozy, the things that I loved dearly, and I brought some old things with me that I had purchased in years here and there since my divorce. Charming, says everyone who comes in, but it was not yet quite right. Never mind that before I moved in not only every room was painted a different color but every door down the hallway was painted a different color. My studio was painted a bright pomegranate peachy-orange and I had the ceiling painted sky blue. I just love it. When I sit here writing it's like looking up at the sky.

So we three stood in the kitchen with a beautiful new sink. A very, very white kitchen. And they looked at me and laughed and said, "She's got that look in her eyes." They were the dear men who did all the work when I was moving into the house. They painted the life-size Magic Ship purple, orange and pink; an old aluminum shed lime green with a bright pink roof, painted a nicer shed on the other side of the huge fenced back yard the colors matching the ship, and put a picket fence next to it that they painted a bright candy pink. They have just built another picket fence for me, a large one for the garden I will have next summer, a bright green which matches my green shed. More than one person has come into my yard and said it looks like a Dr. Seuss book. I will be taking pictures of my kitchen to share but you can see my color sense in the back-yard work!

The incredible Magic Ship which I had restored and painted when
I moved in. The guys said, after they restored old boards, built the
stairs, and so on, "We suppose you want it painted. What color?"
To which I responded, with a twinkle in my eye, "Purple, pink and
orange." They were about to begin an adventure the likes of which
they'd never had, and they loved it!

Well, you can't have a rickety old aluminum shed right
close to a magic ship so it got painted green and pink. Now
we were on a roll!

And of course there had to be a pink picket fence with
a crookedy purple door...

And then there's a giant fish named Albert who hangs
from a tree and flies through the air. (Well, there's a
Magic Ship for goshsakes. There surely should be a

And so the guys that made all this colorful magic happen, even though they couldn't believe they were doing it, were back with me with the pretty white sink, and they knew, they just knew that this kitchen would not stay white. I had been living in a house. I was making it a home. A place of my dreams that I could live in, really live in, and write my new stories and dream my new dreams. So in the last six weeks, the cabinets were all painted yellow and blue, the refrigerator and dishwasher painted a bright orange. A little shelf was built up high all along the wall with the sink and down the side wall to the refrigerator, painted bright yellow with blue trim to match the cabinets, and it is filled with my collection of vintage teapots. An old 1915 cabinet I got really cheaply because it wasn't in good shape and the back was falling off got a new back and sturdied up, and a new cabinet was built in an "L" shape and attached to the old cabinet so the two cabinets make a perfect "L" and go down the wall and fit perfectly behind the big old wooden booth bench. The cabinets were painted sky blue with orange shelves and the "L" shaped cabinet is open so you can see the brightly colored shelves. A new counter-top is a "denim blue" and finally (yes, we're finally getting to Christmas) we needed something to finish it off. The boys got that "Uh-oh" look in their eyes again and waited for my next idea to burst wide open. "What if..." I paused for a second because the kitchen opens down into the little room I call "The Cozy Room", 2 steps down from the kitchen, all open to one another. It is pine panelled all the way around circa 1970 which I love but it is really pretty dark in there because there are no windows in the room.

I looked up. They looked up. The said, "You're kidding, right?" I said, "No, I'm not." They knew that I wanted the ceiling painted and it couldn't just be the kitchen because the kitchen and the cozy room share the same ceiling, so the whole thing got painted a beautiful pistachio green." Yep, a green ceiling. Which leads through a big open doorway to my studio with pomegranate walls, a sky blue ceiling, and windows all the way around. The green looks gorgeous in the kitchen, brightened up the pine-paneled cozy room, and it is really lively looking from the colors in the studio to the cozy room and back again. The guys were getting a big kick out of all of this. The said, "There's not another house like this in this town." I said, "There's likely not another house like this in the world." They laughed and said it suited me. and now here we are, finishing up, three weeks before Christmas. And my Sissie said, "Write new stories for your life to make the holidays bright and cheery and NEW for you." And all of a sudden I realized that's just what I'd been doing from the time that white sink got put in my kitchen. I had flung the doors and the windows wide open and done what I wanted for a change. I was making a dream come true. I have been making a magic house. And the boys said they would stay on and help me with Christmas decorations. We sat and we laughed and we planned.

They know it's hard for me to leave the house so their help was much appreciated. And herein my new Christmas story begins...

"Write new stories for yourself. Do things that delight you..."

Okay, so I wanted a big fresh tree brimming over with blue lights. They went and got the tree and the lights and put it up for me. I didn't have time to be lonely for the holidays. We three were too busy planning and conspiring to think about being lonely. At the end of the days mostly I was just plain tired and fell asleep early on the couch with pugs all over me sleeping and snoring. They were pooped too from all the activity!

I said I really want sparkly lights all around. My studio has always been dark, and they had also built high shelves all the way around the room and floor to ceiling shelves on one wall for my massive amount of books which I've never had anywhere to go with. They got some 70' of white LED lights and put them up all around the room attached to the shelves. Now, ahem, these are not little twinkly lights. They are not as big as the old fashioned Christmas lights but they are, well, biggish compared to the tiny lights I had imagined. But the LED lights are cool and run on very little electricity saving on the power bill and brighten the once dark room up no end. At first I was so startled by the lights I felt like I was in Vegas! But they are so bright and cheerful and really make the colorful room shine so cheerily that you just want to giggle when you see it. And an old, very old  ver large mirror (I'm into collecting really old mirrors that are somewhat flawed so cheap!) got hung on the opposite end of the cozy room which -- la di da di da, I am bouncing with delight -- is so big and placed just where the Christmas tree chock full of blue lights reflects all the way into the studio so as I sit here typing and can only see the corner of the tree, but I see the whole thing down across the room reflecting in the mirror. Heavenly days, I am living in a magic cottage and  to top it all off a woman came in, took one look at the kitchen and said, "It's like a doll's house!" He he he, that thrilled me to pieces. But it's Christmas now, and I got "that look," in my eyes again. I looked up, the guys looked up, I looked at them, they looked at me, I said, "Wouldn't it just be GRAND to get green twinkly lights and put them all around the ceiling in the kitchen/cozy room! Today the green lights went up and I tell you they are so gorgeous, the bright green lights against the softer pistachio green ceiling that you nearly swoon when you look at them. It's very Christmasy now, but after Christmas when all of the decorations come down, the green lights will remain and the rooms will just be enchanting.

A new Christmas story... Give yourself the gift of living the life you always really wanted to even if it mainly means painting everything wild bright colors (or whatever colors you like... I once saw pictures of a woman who painted her whole entire house bright pink and black and it knocked me right over. I have been looking for her ever since but can't find her. I'd love to see pictures of that pink and black house again...).

I live in an enchanted, magical cottage just made for Christmas. And I am not going to worry about feeling like I have to get gifts I end up spending too much money for, I am going to get things that are wonderful and will be dearly loved and that I love buying and I am not going to stress over it. I have given myself a little cottage filled with wonder and delight, and it has set the stage for writing all new stories for myself all year round.

I would love for you to sit down and write a list of everything that would change your holidays, if they aren't already all that you would dream them to be, things that you can do, and start doing them. And make a list of things for the whole year. And dream big dreams. And stop looking at the closed door and throw all the windows wide open. It's time, for you and me and everyone in the whole wide world. 

It all reminds me of a book that I read to my children when they were young. I always remember the lines, "The time has come, the time is now, Marven K. Mooney will you please go NOW!" It's Dr. Seuss of course. Dr. Seuss would have loved my house. And I am over the moon with the very thought of it.

This Christmas will be filled with cheer and joy. I know it will. I'm writing the story right now...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Writing Your Heart's Truth ~ The Thing You Think You Cannot Do...

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

Writing from my heart...

I've been having a wee bit of trouble with my book, or rather it's been having more than a wee bit of trouble with me. They taunt you, you know. You write your heart out with your stomach kind of going flibbity-jibbity because you know that while you are almost saying what you wanted to say you are somehow skirting the truth because:

a.) You're scared.

b.) What will people think?

c.) What if you offend someone and they don't like you anymore, even if they didn't really know you in the first place, or even more to the point, even if they've always known you and never liked you anyway.

d.) You're scared. But you're pretending like you're not. But it shows, like when your slip hangs down beneath the hem of your skirt and you keep twisting this way and that and trying to yank it up when you think no one is noticing (of course they are) but it always shows anyway. When a writer is scared and doesn't say what she was meant to say, what she knows she should say, that slip is hanging down in neon colors.

Of course there is a solution. You get online. You dilly-dally on Facebook, perhaps throw out a word or three on Twitter. Stare around the room. Play with the pugs. Finally, you decide to write a blog entry because at least its writing. Well, that's what I'm doing anyway. Just get it all out in the open, take the dang slip off, throw it across the room and go back to my book. Yes, this is the tact I've chosen. Is it working? It's too soon to tell, but since I am here doing this and the pugs are running between my knees like 3 little hooligans being boys as boys will and tossing toys and hollering and carrying on, it's at least taking my mind off of the fact that the last thing I wrote sounded so bizarre it terrified me. I thought, "Either no one will buy this book or they will cart me off to the loony bin." As no one has bought one of my numerous books in decades and I've already been in a loony bin (Okay, it was a nice hospital for a month after a nervous breakdown but that counts, doesn't it? I mean my room-mate was having electric shock therapy which scared the hoo-ha out of me.) You see, dark memories come up that you don't know what to do with when you are writing a book.

I've tried the, "Oh, I've had decades of therapy and I'm dealing with my past and I'm so much better I will encourage people by writing about the fact that we can live through trauma and go on to have wonderful lives." thing Well, it's not that that's not true, and it is a message I want to get across, but I wanted to skip over the elephants in the room and not write about the abuse, and all of the things that led up to me being me today, good, bad, wonky and otherwise. All of it had to happen, you see, or I wouldn't be me as I am today and as odd as I do seem to most people I'm quite happy with who I am now. As happy as one can be.

I'm fully aware that you can't stay mucking about in the past and ever live fully in the present, but you also can't deny it or hide it or the full picture can't be appreciated. I can't show you how I've healed and have any impact if I don't tell you the truth about how I was wounded. And not just the abuse. Throw in a little thing, perhaps, like finding your biological mother at 26 simply to find out if there are any medical issues you needed to worry about for your children -- I had a 3 year old and a 6 month old at the time -- and we were very discreet in the search and I swore I didn't want a mother, I had a mother, I simply wanted information for the sake of my children, but she threatened to kill me, tried to sue me, and, well, let's just say it wasn't the storybook ending that adopted children long for when they are in that, "If I only found my real mother she would love me and take me away from all of this." Not so much. You know there are things like that that I can throw in, but this is the first time I have ever even mentioned this last part publicly. I am far past the fear and the sorrow, that was more than half my lifetime ago now, I just feel sadness, for her, and for all of our tender gentle wounded selves that soldier on as best we can against a tide of people who on top of whatever we went through are hell-bent on giving us grief about being or not being any and everything they think we should or shouldn't be. No, I'm done with that, and that's why I'm writing this book. I want to help others who have had lives that for whatever reason held them back from the full and satisfying and even glorious life that we can live. Notice, I did not say perfect. There is no perfect, but there is good. We can live a good life. I am.

I must do the thing I thought I couldn't do. Some of it is not pretty. None of it comes from a place of seeking pity, nor because I can't stop wallowing about in it like a pig in the mud because it feels good to have an excuse to hide from life (been there, done that) but I'm a big girl now and if I don't own my past I will never really get over it. I keep inching up to the precipice, looking over it, and running back from my life thinking that surely I can just write a book about gardening or pugs or something that I know a fair amount about and that would be fun, but that's not who I am as a writer and it's not why I'm here. Writing is my spiritual path. There, I've said it. I've written all kinds of things here about my spiritual journeying and everything I've written is true, but if we are going to truly live our path we are sooner or later going to have to have a long dark night of the soul as St. John of the Cross did, and we are going to have to face our demons in our darkest hour. I know to my core that I am meant to live a life of service. I also know that as a borderline agoraphobic that the way I will achieve that is not by going out into the world. There's only one way to do it and it is best summed up in the words of William Butler Yeats in his poem, "A Coat."

"I made myself a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world's eyes
As though they'd wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there's more enterprise
in walking naked."

I have been trying to write this book for years, fully clothed, hiding the dark places, the lumps and the bumps and the scary, hidden things. And I shall not, now, go into the specific details of the abuse. It isn't necessary, it isn't the kind of writer that I am, I truly am no longer in that place, and yet I, like any other survivor, am marked by it. We don't tell our story without telling our truth. For such a long time, like Yeats, who is one of my most beloved poets for only one poem that I long ago memorized and sing in my sleep as if it is a long ago song from a time when I could really voice my experience and in tears and on my knees offer my humble story to you. I no longer need be on my knees. The tears are long dried. I am healed in so many ways I cannot tell you, and yet I wear the scars of a warrior, but I am a warrior with a tender heart, and the only reason I will tell my story is so that other survivors can know that it is possible to survive, and, in our own way, and in trying to please and appease no other, no matter how much we genuinely love them and care about their feelings, we must be fully who we are, and love as we can, and give what we have to offer, in whatever way that manifests. To try to live otherwise is to never live a full life, never be able to give to the world that which we have to give, never really be able to help others in the way we so dearly wish to do. And so I will go back to my book, and I will tell you my story. I will do the thing I thought I could not do. It is time, and I am ready.

Tonight I will leave you with my favorite poem, the one that lives in my heart and speaks to my feelings more closely than anything else I have ever read. I leave you with these words, I send you my love, and I will return to my pen and paper...

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams."

~ William Butler Yeats ~

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pull Up A Chair And Let Me Tell You A Story...

"The universe is made of stories, not atoms."
~ Muriel Rukeyser ~

Maybe it's because I'm finally deep into writing the book that has long been growing inside of me but would not manifest. It is creeping out onto the pages before me and it has found it's form. Like pearls on a necklace these little pieces, or connected stories, make up the whole. Some of them are so close to the precipice that I catch my breath and think, "Can I really say that?" I have been trying to figure out a way to write my story without going into the dark places, not that I intend to dwell on them, and I've healed and moved past them, but I can't tell my story without the dark times because the focus of the story is how we can come out of the darkness and into the light. And no matter how healed we might be, if we have moved past being crippled by the abuse itself in our minds, we are still left with the scars. If you've lost both legs after the shock of the tragedy you go on with your life, but your legs never grow back and you learn how to live another way. Some people never get over deep traumas, some don't survive, but a lot of us do, and the key is in coming to accept ourselves as we are, and learn to celebrate the gifts and lives that we do have, and to live our lives to the fullest extent within whatever limitations the world around us might think that we have. 

When I found the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that I used in my new header I knew that I had turned a corner and it was because of something the beautiful Goddess Leonie wrote just the other day. It was a simple thing that she said, almost a throwaway line. She wrote, "This is my life's work." And reading that I asked myself, "What is my life's work?" and it really threw me. Just like the other day when I wrote about listening to the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, "Teach Your Children" and they sang about the fact that we must have "...a code we must live by," and it, too, threw me for a loop because while I could share a whole list of things that I do, I couldn't think of a "code" that I lived by, nor could I, reading what Leonie had written, figure out what my life's work was. It was too scattered, I was trying to do too many things and it just froze me up. And so I have meditated and prayed and walked in the garden with the dogs and wondered about it. And then I sat down to read a marvelous book last night that I've had for a long time but only paged through and never really read, Gardening At The Dragons Gate: At Work In the Wild and Cultivated World, by Wendy Johnson, just a fabulous book, and the Fitzgerald quote was in that book, and my jaw dropped. I have been living my life like a bunch of puzzle pieces tossed up in the air, scattered all over, hither and yon, chasing around to try to figure out how to put them together, and they never would fit, or if they did for a time they seemed to fall apart again and I went skittering around trying to scoop them all up and make sense of them but I was too worried and worn out to stick to any one thing.

And then it came to me. If I were to do the work that I want to do I have to write on the precipice, facing the scary things, and in putting it all down on paper I will anchor myself and stay safe and sane in this world. I realized, even as I am in the process of putting together a room to see clients to do healing work in, and moving back into my fiber art, that they were important parts of my life, things that I would definitely do, but with my practice for example it takes years to hone your skills and build a practice. Like the flowers in the garden you can't hurry them. Fiber work is slow but immensely gratifying. My spiritual life, gardening, my work with pug rescue will always be a part of my life, but they are all also part of the story of my life. I am a writer, and instead of trying to do everything at once I will allow all of the various parts of my life flower in their own time. Some are annuals, some biennials, and some perennials. Each element of my life will come into it's fullness when the time is right, and the way in which it all happens is the story of my life. The story of a woman who was abused from 4 to18 and spent decades in therapy but came out of the darkness and into the light and is, for the most part, happy, fulfilled, at peace, and I have learned that I have something to offer, and most important of all I have realized that I can live my life just as I am, I can build a world that works for me and stop apologizing because I don't fit the picture others would like to see, I won't turn my life inside out until I am sick all the time because I am so afraid that I will never fit because who I am is a square peg in a round hole. And now I celebrate being a square peg, because even square pegs can give much to the world, they just have to love and accept themselves as they are. It has taken me 57 years but I finally figured it out, and I am kind of giddy and grinning as I write this because it is such a relief.

And so today I paid for the image that would be in my banner. It so completely represents who I am inside. A woman whose life purpose is to love, to love and open my heart as big as a full moon, and the best way that I can spread the love, the acceptance, the stories that I want to share to help others realize the light they have within them, to love themselves, and to celebrate all that they are is to write about it. I have carried the quote by Muriel Rukeyser around in my heart for ages, used it in my journal classes for decades, but now I really know what it means. The universe is made of stories, and like Fitzgerald wrote I will ask you to draw your chair close, and if you get dangerously close to the edge as you take in words that perhaps scare you a little because they touch down in the middle of your own life, good, that's exactly what I'm hoping for, and I want you to think about something I saw on a little placque in my therapist's office. It said "Leap and the net will appear." Don't be afraid to leap. Even baby steps are fine. Just keep moving forward. We can hold hands and leap together, no matter where we are in the process.

I often hear young people say, sadly and with angst, that their lives have not taken the path they had hoped it would. These young people are generally in their thirties or so. And if I talk to one of them I remind them that Grandma Moses didn't start to paint until she was 70, and she became the pre-eminent folk artist in America, and she painted until she was over 100 years old. I also heard a wonderful story of a woman who spoke at a graduation commencement. She didn't start writing until she was 50, but at 70 she had written 20 books. The young graduates asked her, "Aren't you sorry you didn't start sooner?" and the writer/speaker, who had raised six children, laughed kindly and said, "It was only 20 years."

It is often said that life is short and passes far too quickly. I have said it myself in years gone by. But now, near 60, I feel exhilarated to be coming into my own, and I know that life is BIG, and full of potent possibilities abundant, and it is never too late, you just have to open yourself as wide as the ocean, knowing that everyday in your life is full of endless possibilities. We can do anything, we really can, or a version that fits our own lives and who we are.

I wish you a wonderful journey, the journey of discovery that is before you. I am right here, beside you, and I am sitting here on the precipice, in my chair, telling you stories. Take them to heart, in whatever way they speak to you. Take them into your own lives and find the little nuggets that might help you through the night and into the light of day. Love yourself, celebrate yourself, just as you are, whoever you are, whatever you are doing. We can do this, and what better time to start than now? I am looking at the rest of my life in a whole new way and I am thrilled beyond measure. I can live and love and plant my roses and kiss my pugs and write my books and sing my songs and I can soar like an eagle. The precipice doesn't scare me, I've been there all my life. Now it's time to fly!

Roses For Mary...

In the dewy morning I went out with the pugs who raced around the yard, while I, bundled in a long dress and heavy shawl, scissors in hand, went to cut to gorgeous roses that were blooming up a storm. They are David Austin English Roses, the beautiful peach colored one is 'Pat Austin,' named for his wife, and the other, my most beloved rose, 'Heritage.' the fragrance of 'Heritage' just lifts you off the planet.

I knew where I was headed with these roses. On my long antique Farmer's Table where I work is my altar. I collect old chalkware and have a gorgeous large bust of Jesus with Sacred Heart. There is Mother Mary, Buddha, Lakshmi, Kwan Yin and so much more. Rosaries and Malas and all manner of prayer beads. I burn incense here. I meditate, I pray, and it is all beside me as I work.

But these roses were meant for Mother Mary. The rose is her flower. I offered these to her this morning for the love that I feel from her at all times, lifted up to the heavens surrounded by her motherly love. So these are for you today Mary, and there will be many more. My mother, who passed 2 years ago, was very devoted to Mary, and since my mother passed Mary has grown closer and closer to me. I feel that my mother is beside her and I am being bathed in a motherly bath of the kind of love I have sought for a lifetime so that I can pass this along to others. This is my life's work. To love, to nurture, to be compassionate, to spread loving-kindness in the world any way I can. So these are for you Mary, and I love you...

Blessings and Love to one and all this beautiful late November morning...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving To You Dear Friends...

This is a video of a beautiful piece of music that has meant the world to me for decades now, George Winston's Thanksgiving. I share it here with you for it's innate beauty, peaceful calm, to celebrate all that I am grateful for in my life, the many blessings that I have had, do have, and will have in the future, and I want you to know how deeply grateful I am that you share a few moments of your life with me each time you visit here. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Blessings, Love, and Happy Thanksgiving to you all...

This post is dedicated to little Pugsley, the newest member of my family of pugs, who came just a few short weeks ago, having been badly abused, very frightened, and now, at home, at peace, in my heart and home forever. Happy First Thanksgiving with us little Pugsley...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sometimes On Saturday Nights I Get Lonely...

I think loneliness is like the dark side of the moon...

... a mysterious state of mind that rises when we are empty, when there is a place for thoughts to arise. During these times depression sometimes washes over me and feels unmanageable. I know that I am not alone in this. It is that very knowledge that makes me feel less lonely. We are never really alone. You are in your house and I am in mine. Two of the pugs went racing through the dog door outside and are barking at things I cannot see or hear. Even though it is 11:00 at night the 2 youngsters, Tanner and Pugsley, are in and out that door like it is the middle of the day. Dear old Sam is barking inside, just feet away from me, having his say, but at 13 he'd rather do it from the comforts of the soft world inside. Wee little Penny is asleep on my feet on top of the fluffy afghan.

When dark times arise I think it is good to acknowledge them, feel them, feel it all to ease our way through it. Some nights I have had a glass of wine, usually sipping half and putting the rest back in the refrigerator. It just makes me sleepy. I'd rather feel the hollowness inside and see where it leads. It leads to mysterious places, sometimes, like that side of the moon we never see.

I thought I might just let my mind wander and ramble a bit here to clear the way back to a comfortable solitude. My favorite writer and dear friend May Sarton once wrote, "Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self." Mostly I live in solitude but we all slip into loneliness at times. Saturday nights seem to be the time when the ache of that existential loneliness that we all feel at times rises for me. Not every Saturday, but some. It is the time I miss my love who is currently far away. But the pugs are here, and I am shored up by their sweetness. They are not happy that I am writing this late. They don't know what to do. Usually when I do write late I am writing on my laptop on the couch so they can be in their usual places where we all belong at night, snuggled together with pillows and covers, but my laptop went kaput and the new one has not arrived yet. I took a long hot shower to change gears and thought sitting here for awhile to share my thoughts with you might be comforting, and it is.

I just got up to turn off the overhead light thinking the dogs would settle down but they all jumped up and ran around in circles and headed into the living room relieved. When I came back and sat down they looked perplexed and did the pug head tilt which is so cute it made me smile. I said, "Mama won't be long," and I think Sam shrugged. Penny got back on my feet and all three of the boys headed into the chair they pile into together having pretty much given up on me for the time.

I once wrote "Loneliness has eaten so many holes in me I feel like a piece of Swiss cheese." That was during a particularly lonely time many years back when my days were more dark than light. Those were the days when depression weighed me down like a paper weight on a pile of letters. I don't get depressed like that any more, but I do get melancholy. When these times rise now I chart the days just past to see where the trail might have led. Sometimes I think we are supposed to get to this place so that we will stop long enough to reflect on where we are in our life.

Where am I? I realize as I am writing this that it is most likely that I am on a plateau. I was very busy from May through October studying, working on all that will one day lead me to the healing practice I think I am supposed to have, but then that familiar state rose once again and the thought of leaving home engulfed me, overwhelmed me with such fear I could barely breathe. My teacher said "Breathe Maitri, you have to breathe." I am borderline agoraphobic. I say borderline because I can now go out a little more for short periods to do errands but I am home as soon as possible with a sense of relief that almost always leads me to the couch under a soft cover and a pile of pugs. The world is so big and I am so sensitive that the reverberations of the outside world become too much. I have canceled appointments. I have put off one day something that perhaps I could do tomorrow if it means having to go out to do it, but tomorrow comes and a long string of tomorrows follow until the day comes when I have to go out and a pile-up of errands must be done. Sometimes the refrigerator is almost empty. Sometimes my meds have nearly run out and that can't happen. Sometimes there is a package to mail and it is the 11th hour when I can finally get to the post office which I dread. It's funny,. I never used to feel that, but sometimes standing in line feels interminable. I am not impatient, I just feel crowded in by the people around me. I feel afraid.

I do not write these things because I feel sad about them, I write them to attain clarity for myself, and to let you, dear reader, know that if you feel your own form of loneliness, fear, sadness or whatever might be rising in your life that it will pass. Just writing this I do not feel that aching emptiness any longer. My body has relaxed into the chair and the little pug on my feet has grounded me.

It has been awhile since I have updated this blog but it hasn't been for lack of trying. I have started numerous entries only to see them peter out and trail off into that pile of writings that lead to dead ends. All of this past week I have been playing a You Tube video, an older one, of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young singing the old song, "Teach Your Children." For those of you who are too young to know it, you can click on the link to the video. It is a deeply touching song, especially for one who has been a parent, and a child, and a daughter. Here are the lyrics if you can't understand all the words. Listening to the first line of the song over and over -- "You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by..." -- I became stuck, and then almost obsessed, trying to figure out what I would call the code I live by. I have yet to figure it out. I can tell you what I believe, what is important to me, how I hope to live and what I want dearly to achieve in my life, but I can't think of anything that I consider a "code." This has left me perplexed all week. I'm still trying to understand. It seems an important key to something but I can't figure out what. So I keep playing the video over and over again and I get teary every time I do. Parents teaching children, children teaching parents, the song moves something so deep inside of me, and so many others feel the same that I have talked to this week, that I wonder if it is something that matters more once you reach middle age and can look back at the whole picture. The picture to date anyway. I have tried to write that entry many times and given up. It remains a mystery to me.

The pugs have settled down and gone to sleep in odd places all around me. It is almost midnight and they look so very dear, just wanting to be near me, but too tired to stay awake. I got cold and reached down for my shawl but Sam is asleep on it so I grabbed an old sweater nearby and slipped it on. I will be with them soon. I can't wait to snuggle them.

Tonight I am waiting to hear if a 5th little pug will come to live with us. I won't have more than that at one time, and I would dearly love to have her here with us. She is a one year old little black girl. My first pug ever was a wee little black girl named Babs and I lost her, at 16 1/2, a year ago last June. I can't believe she's been gone a year and a half. If not this little girl I will adopt another one. The right one finds its way into my home and heart when the time is right.

The pugs are starting to snore and that is one of the most comforting sounds to me. I have had a lifetime of nightmares from childhood trauma, but with four little ones asleep around me snoring in a harmonious chorus I go to sleep many nights smiling. I think I will tonight as well, and I usually fall asleep with at least one hand resting on warm fur. It's like sleeping with living breathing teddy bears, these soft little dogs so full of love they snuggle up to me just wanting to be close. It's hard to be sad or lonely for long with a house full of the wee folk. I think it's time for us to head to bed. I don't have to wake them. No matter how deeply they seem to be asleep as soon as I move they are all up like a shot, and off we go.

It has been a melancholy evening, but now it feels mellow and soft and sweet. If we just hang on long enough and immerse ourselves in things that wrap us as if in a warm blanket of comfort we get through. Tonight writing to you has helped me. I thank you for that.

Tomorrow is another day. If Saturdays are sometimes lonely I love Sundays. Sunday mornings fill me with a kind of joy that leads almost to ecstasy. It is a holy day to me, a day of deep meditation, of gratitude, a time of remembrance, a time to look forward and make plans, a day that I always seem to just be glad to be alive. I don't know why Sunday, but Sunday it is.

My eyelids grow heavy and I, too, look forward to sleep. I will head in with my crew of teddy bears and sink into the covers with my dear little souls all around me. Tomorrow is another day. Ah, 12:02, it is already a new day. Sunday is here. I smiled when I wrote that. The fog has lifted.

Goodnight, Sweet Dreams, Sleep Tight...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Growing A Dream, Starting Small, and Sharing My Journey With You Along The Way In Hopes That It Might Help Others Who Want To Realize Their Dreams...

“As surely as the acorn becomes the oak tree, the images in your mind become your reality.”
~ Author Unknown ~

Dear Ones,

It has come to me in the night, and all day long as I have studied the costs of building a building, getting a permit to do so in a residential area, the complexity of becoming non-profit when you are starting so small and more that I need to -- while working in any way that I can to achieve my goals along the way -- write a mission statement and outline concrete plans. The website is underway, and more important than building a building that is a sanctuary, I think we all have to start with building both a sanctuary inside ourselves, and one right where we live. This includes personal healing, guidance, and many of the others healing modalities that I have been trained and certified to do as well as phone counseling, starting to print the small books that I hope will help people along the way, and as much else as I can do to begin to realize my dream so that it can grow and grow like that acorn into a tree. Will you take this journey with me? Will you plant your acorn, water it, and watch your tree grow? It might grow slower than you'd like, but once it has grown it is incredibly strong and bigger than you might have ever imagined. What is my dream? What is yours?

I've written so much about mine here that it would be redundant to go over it all again. Suffice it to say that once you name your dream, instead of it being this ambiguous, amorphous blob of a thing like jello that has only begun to set, you will wade about in that congealed mess of a mass feeling lost and weighed down. I know I have.

After starting countless books that I thought might be right, but knowing that something was off and not getting very far, I realized, suddenly, that my dream, inasmuch as I have written for over 40 years, (It saved my life starting at nine years old...) and considered myself first and foremost a writer, and to that end thought that what I had to give to the world would come in my writing, I realized that that wasn't enough. I studied for months on end this last summer into fall to become certified in healing modalities that stretched my dream a little further, and gathered together skills and talents of a lifetime into a basket along with the others to look and see what I had. I formed a plan, a good plan, one I was happy with, but then came the dark side of the moon.

I am borderline agoraphobic and I became terrified to step out into the world to use the healing gifts I had worked so hard to acquire. I would still write, but I needed to do more. And then the words came to me, The Love In Every Moment Sanctuary. That was it. It was one of those moments when you feel like you've been hit by a lightning bolt, something I hadn't felt before. Oh, being Bi-Polar I've had lots of big ideas, believe you me, and as the pendulum would swing the high highs would catapult me into a new beginning and the low lows would bring whatever the then goal was to a crashing halt. What's different now?

What's different is that I'm different. I have been changing more than anyone around me, who knows me well, has been able to imagine, and the healing work that I've done the last several months, work on myself with several different healers, as well as learning these modalities myself, and able to use them on myself, and spending much more time in meditation and prayer, (...and yes, having a very good doctor and medications that have evened me out over the last several years, and even she has seen enormous changes...) I am changing at the cellular level. I might not be able to venture as far out into the world as I thought I might, yet. (You'll pardon me, I hope, if my writing is a little wobbly for a moment. The new little pug whom I already adore is under my desk chewing my toes!)

So then came the thought of the sanctuary, and when the disappointment began to engulf me for all the reasons I noted at the beginning of this entry, the fear quickly subsided and a new plan began to form, and most important of all I realized that sometimes, in the beginning, we may overshoot the mark with a dream just to finally settle back into the place we were meant to be all along. This reaching forward and sliding back a little over and over still moves us forward, at a pace we can best manage, and this is the way we all grow and change on every level. I love the idea of having a sanctuary, an actual building, where I can have people come here for healing work so the fear of the outside world doesn't keep me from doing it, (I can't do it inside here, can you imagine laying on my table having a gentle healing with beautiful music and essential oils wafting in the air while four pugs raced around barking, parrots screaming in the background? I think not!), so what then?

I rustled around in my basket and looked at the talents and skills I had that I could use. Yes, I could write. Yes, I could teach online (I was a journal writing teacher teaching a very healing, spiritual class for thirty years, the last five online.). With the new healing modalities, healing that can be done as "distance healing," and my work in pastoral counseling, spiritual teaching and support, and more, I could start right from here and build that sanctuary that is fueled by love, not only in every moment but in every facet of everything I will be doing. So the website, the phone, the internet, and anything possible to do from here -- and there's a lot, far more than I at first realized -- will get the ball rolling, and once rolling I know that I'll go farther than I ever dreamed possible. I have gone out to study and to a wonderful healing center where I will continue to go and meet once a month with the group of people who became Master Healers in the Shamballa method. I have been working on people here, people who know me and whom the dogs don't bother because they will settle after awhile, and I know that I will venture out to do healing work on people that I know or who come to me when the time is right through channels that open as I am ready to meet them. I know these things to be true because I am not the same person I was.

I know that I am different as well because I am not tossing a dream away out of fear, I am looking for new ways to see it into reality and I know it is possible. I am not just dreaming, I am doing concrete work. I am taking a business class, I have worked out a structure so that I will write everyday (first here, and then a section on the book) and it is working, and it is good, better than I ever imagined. And I have made friends here and started to build a community and as I venture out into it, even a little at a time, the ability to do my work outside the home will grow too. I am meeting my demons and making friends with them. It is possible after all.

And finally, when you talk about your process, your dreams, your fears, how you move through them, out loud, to other people, to you dear reader, it all becomes less scary and seems more possible. I get tremendous support from both my online community and my growing local community as well. My dreams may shapeshift along the way but this time I am not letting fear stop me. That I could go out to a workshop from nine in the morning until six at night actually shocked people, but I knew I could do it. I had been going out and working with healers for months, and so I will go again. The most important thing that I am told by those who support me and work with me is not to push myself or rush because I'm afraid others will think badly of me. This had been a recurring theme in my life that can only lead one place and that is into a paralyzing downward spiral. One of the most profound things that anyone has ever said to me came from the woman I have loved for a decade. She said, "You are not your diagnoses." She made a point of telling me that I had many talents and gifts and that she believed in me and just because I had certain challenges in this life didn't mean that I couldn't achieve my dreams. To this day it is the most important thing that anyone has ever said to me, and it has kept me going and moving forward when otherwise it would have been very hard. Kind of wobbly like little pugs chewing on your toes as you're trying to get something done.

And so I am doing this. Let me say that again for my own benefit... I am doing this, and though it is changing by the day it keeps floating on the surface and bobbing along and my dreams keep shining through. The pebble has been thrown in the pond and the ripples keep moving outward. It is thrilling to watch them and the very notion that they keep on rippling outward propels me forward. And I have a lot of pebbles. When the ripples stop I'll throw another pebble in the pond. Nothing will stop me now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "Love In Every Moment Sanctuary" ~ And So The Work Begins...

"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul."
~ Thomas Merton ~

Dear Ones,

I have just purchased the DVD of the movie made by the Carthusian monks, "Into Great Silence," and I am listening to the music with deep reverence to the CD as the monks go through the rounds of their musical day. I am also studying the works, life, and music of Julian von Bingen (Julian of Norwich), and have just purchased the beautiful movie made about her life, "Vision." I daily study the works and lives of monastic traditions everywhere.

Here is a wonderful page discussing the monastic tradition in an interfaith, all inclusive view of this life. I am an interfaith minister among other things and though I do not practice in that capacity I embrace all faiths, traditions, and spiritual paths. The sanctuary will be one that honors all. The page linked here speaks of all of these including the increasing number of lay people who are turning to this way of life.

The Monastic Tradition
: Discussions on this way of life in many faiths, books, resources, and more...

I feel closest to monastic life these days, and in working toward turning Dragonfly Cottage into a sanctuary called the "Love In Every Moment Sanctuary" for meditation, prayer, and healing I will have found my true place in the universe. All of my writing and healing efforts will be centered here. It has been a long journey to come to this decision and I know that it is right. I will also do phone counseling sessions and have a new blog dedicated to the healing work, a website is in the works, and I am working on a newsletter that will be nearly daily, with podcasts, prayers, journal exercises (I am a teacher of 30 years of a very healing journal process) and more. If you sign up for the newsletter you will hear first about the services when the are ready, have first chance at the very limited number of people I will be able to see or counsel on the phone, and if you are a member of the newsletter, you will get a discount on services. Watch this page to find out when the newsletter starts. It will also be announced on Facebook and Twitter. I am dedicating my life to the service of love, for all of you, for the entire earth and all it's inhabitants, of working with the people who want gentle spiritual guidance and healing, of the animals that need me to comfort them, love them, and offer them safe space and a forever home, and the books that come out of the sanctuary will serve as ongoing support for those of you who seek it. I humbly offer my heart and my life to you all. My work is non-denominational. You needn't even follow a specific spiritual path, but come to find inner peace, and have the goal to lead a more compassionate life, living compassionately, finding your way into a mindful way of living and loving-kindness for all.

I have to work on my own life and a way to make my living independent of my current means, and this will include all that I have mentioned above, and a return to my fiber art, hand-spinning yarns, weaving, crocheting fiber art pieces, and using whatever talents and gifts that I have to offer to support the creation and ongoing efforts of the sanctuary. I will also accept Free Will Love Donations until my non-profit status goes through, and I will have that up soon. Building the small building in the middle of a whimsical garden and natural world (Joy is a wonderful spiritual practice so you can find a statue of St. Francis next to a Magic Ship, roses growing everywhere, and I will accept barter as a form of payment for services as needed for a healing. This will be limited, but offered in love and gratitude. Everything from garden work to fresh organic vegetables, and more of the necessities of life here. I trust that God will provide, and to those of you who will be part of the building of this dream and all that I have to give, I give my thanks in advance. Your tender hearts are truly at the center of all that I will be doing, and if you join my prayer list I will include you in my prayers and meditation by name every single day. I spend several hours in meditation each day.

It will take several years, most likely, for me to learn the ways in which to live a simpler life, for I have not followed this path, and my life will not be without human comforts or contact, but the more we can simplify our lives the more we find the peace that helps us greet each day with more love in our hearts, and a greater capacity to give. This too will be a journey that may take the rest of my life, but I take one moment, one day at a time.

My blog entries will be more frequent and my books will begin to come very soon and be small, books that you can carry close to your heart. My writings will be both spiritual as well as stories of my daily life here with the animals, the rounds of my day, the process of simplifying my own life, slowly, over time, and my work here as well as the building of the sanctuary and the miracles that I know will happen along the way. I hope to help you find solace through my endeavors.

I wish you love, I wish you peace, and a river of blessings to carry you through your life with as little pain and as much joy as is possible.

Finally I share with you this vow, one of deep commitment that I take very seriously. I took the vow on my own many years ago in sacred silence, and now it will be at the heart of all of the work that I do all the days of my life...

Prayer of the Bodhisattva
As long as space endures,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
and dispel the miseries of the world.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What If You Woke Up One Day And Knew Exactly What The Entire Rest Of Your Life Was Meant To Be About?

Saint Francis will be my guide...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen 

Pugsley upon arrival, wearing his "Thundershirt" for anxiety,
which quickly came off and he hasn't had to wear it since. He
is snuggled here with his wee tiny sister Penny. Both had been
so terribly abused, and yet they are pure love, tender, and sweet
beyond words. I live in a sanctuary filled with angels, blessed
with God's grace, surrounded by angels everywhere, and spirits
of every size and shape bringing protection and joy and love, and
in the midst of it all here I am, blessed beyond measure, with
endless love to give. Charity begins at home. The love we are
all creating here we are sending out to each and every one of
you, every single day of our lives. When you take a breath in,
a deep, full, cleansing breath, on the inbreath feel a sweeping
of a warm, pure, pink light, warming you all the way down to
your toes and filling you with tremendous joy. Walk out into
the world lighter than air. Now remember you are never alone.
We are always there sending out love...

This is a terrible picture, all fuzzy-fied, but it was so precious and we couldn't get a good shot so I'm just sharing this with you so you can see how much fun we had. The two women who brought Pugsley yesterday also brought their 3 pugs so we had 7 running all over the yard and you never saw anything cuter in your life! When we came in we flopped on the couch and I was covered with little baked potato shaped hooligans! Ha ha ha!

There's a reason everybody calls me Mama Maitri!

And so I awakened this morning with a terrific JOLT! One of those that raises you up out of your chair so fast you hit your head on the ceiling and see stars. And though this has obviously been growing in me for sometime to come I knew then, as I know right now, with perfect clarity, exactly what I am supposed to do.

In 1999 I left a 25 year marriage to begin a spiritual journey that I would little understand, be devastated by, everything I thought I knew torn asunder, everything that held me up ripped out from under my feet, and I spent a dozen years in deep seclusion. Oddly, while it was very painful and frightening and confusing time, the seeds were planted for the life I was supposed to live, though it would be years before I could understand the meaning of it all. I had named my little cottage Dragonfly Cottage, both because the dragonfly had become my totem animal (In Native American spirituality he leads us out of the darkness and into the light, he is a sign of transformation.). Every place I have lived since in these tumultuous years of having to move, being more and more afraid, and not understanding how I could go on, I sat in the little cottage cottage I lived in in the mid-2000's.  I had come to the end. I could take no more. I was ready to leave this earth and the unrelenting pain and terror I felt every day of my life. But then.... Oh great mercy of God, then a miracle occurred. 

I sat quietly contemplating the way that I might exit the world. I worried about my children, my family, I didn't want to hurt anyone else but when the pain is so deep you can't see your way out, when you are broken down and never get any rest, finally you collapse into this darkness and see no other way out, and it was just at this exact point that, sitting in my little cottage, a miracle occurred. I saw a flash of gold out of the corner of my eye and saw the biggest dragonfly I had ever seen. Brilliant, iridescent gold, just huge. And he very calmly floated over to me and sat on my hand. He said, "No, it's not your time yet, we have much work to do," And he sat with me for the better part of 2 hours, just sitting peacefully, and I took lots of pictures. I have never seen a more beautiful dragonfly and I didn't know that such a one even existed, but here he is...

And when he was ready to go, when he had taught me that what I was considering doing was not only selfish, but was wasting my God given life, and that we all had lessons to learn and to share and love to give and a path to follow in our own lives. THIS, he told me, was our true path, the very act of finding it, and then to fight through all circumstances, doubts of others, self-doubt and just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how many years it took, until the day that we woke up and said, "Yureka, that's IT!" (Or some words to that effect!) "It's time to get started!

Started, for me, has been the acknowledgement that that was true, even if I had no idea how it would come about. The process took 2 disastrous cross country moves, having dangerous encounters, meeting amazing teachers, and finally, the last years, finding these little pugs who are truly my angels and my teachers and the little loves that shore me up. They will be with me for the rest of my days.

This is only the beginning of this story, Part 1. But Part 2 will come in the next day or two and the plan that I have laid out in my mind is beginning to find shape and form and amazing clarity. Nothing I have done and learned will be wasted but it will take on a whole new shape than I have ever imagined.. It is thrilling, scary, but finally what of any real value ever takes all we can give and then some? My life will be changing rapidly (at a snail's pace...) over the next one to two years with much starting to happen very soon. I am to create a sanctuary, one of love, of healing, of hope, and of light. My writing, the garden, the pugs and the parrots and the wildlings, my healing practice and oh, so much more, are going to grow and fill this one little spot on the planet, and from this space all of my love, my dreams, my hopes, and the miracles that are always present around me will grow here, the one, true, final, always meant to be Dragonfly Cottage Sanctuary. I hope to see you here one day. Until then I will be doing healings for money and barter and accepting donations to get this place built and up and running. Perhaps one day I will become non-profit, but really, I prefer free will love donations for now. It feels gentler that way. 

Now I have pugs climbing all over me and I am getting many many kisses and giggling a lot so I better stop here. There are mountains of things to do and finally I realized that I can climb every one...

Oh, I love you all so dearly....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love As A Spiritual Path...

"Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love."
~ Leo Tolstoy ~

Pugsley, the newest member of our family, who
will be coming very soon...

Dear Ones,

One day I woke up in love with the whole world and it changed my life forever. I can't say why it happened. Raised Catholic, a student of Buddhism since I was in my twenties, attending many churches to see what I could learn, what felt right, studying Native American spirituality, Goddess and Earth Based paths, being ordained an interfaith minister in the Christian church, and finding that even with all of that, all paths, religions and promises, as much as I wanted to serve, to live a contemplative life and dedicate myself to helping others, no building or tenets of any faith seemed to fit. I wanted Direct Communion with God. And so it would go, with me finally deciding that my "church" was right here, in the garden, with the many animals that I rescue who also rescue me, caring for the wild animals outside my cottage and in my woods, and this summer and fall I ventured out to go through the 3 attunements to become a Reiki Master and then took the Shamballa training to become a Master Healer in the Shamballa method. Still, tending my garden, walking in nature, sleeping with 3 small pugs surrounding me, their tender little faces moving me so deeply I would sometimes get tears in my eyes, I knew that life itself would provide me with everything that I needed to walk the path of faith in my own way. I knew that God would approve, and so I have continued on.

It has been my privilege to share my life with several parrots who came to me in my days of running a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots. The last few years I have dedicated my life to pug rescue, and I have adopted 7 to date with the 8th on his way. I take in the elderly, disabled, or badly abused little ones who need much love, patience, and care, and last year I lost 3 of them, the elderly ones. I have since adopted more.

My last rescue, wee little Penny, such a tiny girl, was left outside for a year, her eyes crusted over leaving her 90% blind, she had no hair and her skin was a mess, and she had severe urinary tract infection. The foster mother and vet got her in good shape and when she came to me I knew that she would need special care the rest of her life. My eldest, my heart pug, Sampson, came to me 4 years ago after being so badly abused and left alone so much, often without food for days at a time, and then adopted out and returned twice to the rescue so that he was terrified, came to me and clung to me like a limpet on a rock. They said, "He has abandonment issues." I said, "That's okay, so do I," and we have been constant companions ever since. Two year old puppy Tanner was a stray and nearly run down by a car when he was rescued and he came to save both Sam and I when we lost two pugs, my beloved Big Dog Moe, a lab-doby mix we had adopted from the Humane Society as a little puppy and who was, at his death, 18 1/2, 3 weeks before sweet Harvey pug died leaving Sam and I alone. 4 beloved elderly animal companions lost in less than a year. Sam nearly grieved himself to death, and so Tanner quickly became part of our family. He lifted our spirits no end and Sam and Tanner bonded so deeply that often the two of them sleep curled around each other at night. It is a joyous thing to see two small boys happy and secure. And now comes little Pugsley.

I will never understand people that abuse innocent little animals, but Pugsley was adopted, crated ten hours a day, and then hit so frequently that he came back to the rescue so terrified of everything he was almost inconsolable. He went to an amazingly wonderful foster mother, and now is on his way to me since I also work with the little ones who have been hurt and are afraid. Pugsley has been put on Prozac, he can't bear being left alone and will become so terrified he will likely wet himself and go to pieces, and he has to wear a "thunder shirt" to calm him down when he gets really upset. To any of you who have heard of the brilliant autistic woman, Temple Grandin, and her "squeeze machine," the thundershirt was based on that. It velcros snugly around the little one and makes them feel safe. When he becomes very nervous and afraid he must wear the thunder shirt and it helps calm him down. He lost several teeth trying to chew his way out of the crate, and needs to be held and cuddled and reassured a lot to know that he is loved and okay. He is coming to the right home for that.

We live in a society where self-love, not selfishness but pure, unadulterated, innocent love, is almost non-existent and it has been the downfall of great numbers of people around the world. The Dalai Lama said, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." He also said, "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." I don't use the word religion any more, not about my own path in this world. I am a deeply spiritual woman who defines my walk in this world as one of love, compassion, and kindness. When Pugsley

I find that more and more it's the little things that matter most.Borderline agoraphobic, and sometimes full out agoraphobic, I learned that there was much that I could give from my own little corner of the world. My life here, centered in meditation, prayer, healing work, caring for the little ones, and being mindful of the small things in life, is the basis for my life and all of the writing that I do, and in this way I try to reach out in the world and say to people, "You are loved, you are truly loved. You need not live life as the world expects, live the life that you have and find the gifts therein. Celebrate what you can do, do not denigrate yourself for what you feel that should do but cannot. There is no one right way, there are countless ways to be of service in the world. I share with you how I have learned to live my life, not so that you feel you have to live this way, but so you can see that you, too, can live your own life, your own way, and be a blessing to the world, and find fulfillment and joy right where you are, right as you are. You are beautiful to me. I don't need to see you to know that. I feel the beating of your heart from this chair that I am sitting in. I close my eyes and say a prayer for you and ask that even in this one brief moment you know that someone, somewhere in the world, treasures you, and wishes you well. Start from there. Look in the mirror and say 'I love you.' You may feel uneasy at first and like it is a silly exercise, but if you do it every time you pass a mirror, with as much tenderness as you can muster, somewhere along the line you will believe it. Say to yourself, 'I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you,' and as you say it say it not just to yourself but to everyone and everything around you. Every natural thing on this earth is a living being. A rock, a crystal, a flower, a blade of grass, a spider, the wild bird at the feeder. Your elderly neighbor, a little child passing by, the lady at the checkout counter at the grocery store who has been on her feet all day and is tired but still serves you with a smile. Remember to say thank you. Say something kind to her. That is love."

The more you do this in your life, the more that you find your own cup filling up, brimming over, with so much love to give you can't help but let it spill out into the world. What can you do? How can you spread this love? It doesn't take much, or it can take a great deal, whatever you have to give. Imagine if everyone on this earth did one bit of loving-kindness, each and every day, what a world we would be living in.

Can you go a whole day without complaining about anything or making one negative statement? Try it. It's not as easy as you think. Don't beat yourself up if you do it, just start over again from where you are. And then do it the next day and I'll bet you'll go longer. And then make it a practice. It will change your life.

If you are walking down the street smile at a stranger. Think gently, "I love you." Don't say it out loud. A genuine smile can say it all and change the course of that person's day. Can you move through  your day and smile, mindfully and with love, at 5 people that you would normally pass by? Do it today.

Can you pick one neighbor in your neighborhood and do a kindness for them? A bouquet of flowers from your garden, or fresh vegetables if you grow them. Cook a meal for an elderly neighbor or help a child who has fallen down. Adopt an animal companion if you are able or show the ones in your very own home some extra loving care. Water your plants and say, "Thank you for growing." Fill feeders outside for the wild birds and put fresh water in a big old pot if you don't have a bird bath. Take a notebook and write down as many things that you have to be grateful for as you possibly can. Shoot for twenty-five. Like the White Queen in Alice Through The Looking Glass don't get out of bed until you believe "six impossible things before breakfast." Now write them down. Now figure out how to do them. Now feel the joy of even trying. Feel the smile come across your face. Feel that warmth welling up inside. Sit for a minute and just feel it. That is love. Fall in love with yourself, with everyone and everything around you, with the whole world.

When you feel downtrodden and put upon think of ways that you might help another. That small act creates miracles. Feel your heart opening up. Feel your very cells changing shape and form. You are shedding old layers, of blame, of guilt, of shame, of grief, of pain and all the ways of living and being that no longer serve you. Cross a line in the sand and step over it. Leave all of those things behind. Walk into the world seeing it with new eyes, seeing it for the very first time unburdened by your past, not worrying about your future, living in the now, living in this moment, in the most trying times there is something good in the world around you. Hold onto that, and say thank you. Take another step. You have made it through.

Nothing is too small. Start something that is tiny, go from there. I have saved the tiniest of parrots abandoned by their mother. Nothing has brought me greater joy.

Love everything. Start small. Love everyone, start where you are and let it fan out to the world. Know that I love you, and that I mean that with my whole being. You are treasured, just as you are. Now treasure and love yourself. It will be the most important thing you have ever done. You can't give from an empty well. Fill your own and then let it spill over into the world. Is there anything more important that you can do?

Fondly, and with a full heart...