Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Roses, My Heart ~ Following My Bliss...

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
~ Emma Goldman ~

Deadheading and nipping back the roses makes for a
beautiful bouquet...

Dear Ones,

It has been a beautiful day outside and in my heart as I worked with the roses. I order them in the spring, very tiny own root roses just leafed out and "bands" which are also very small but it is a wonderful way to buy a bevy of roses that are otherwise hard to find -- I mostly buy old heirloom roses but have begun to add a few more "modern" varieties (... from the 1950's and '60's or so, but I have a mad passion for David Austin's English roses that while cultivated in the last few decades are descendants of the old roses, and I must also admit to falling for unusual colors that I read today are referred to as "coffee" colored, deep rusty browns with tinges of orange or pink.). My favorite roses of all are the Noisettes and the Teas, the old ones. And now there is a variety called "Tea Noisettes," which is not yet an official category, but these grow very well in the south.I adore them and have virtually every one planted here.

David Austin's 'Abraham Darby,' one of
my absolutely favorite roses. It is always
in my garden...

And so today I started moving the once tiny baby roses into large pots or into the ground. It is such a joy and an exciting time because now I am ordering the fall roses to plant in October that will begin their little blooms and start toward their own maturation process so that they can grace the garden with their fragrance and color, they do take one's breath away.

Beautiful Rosa 'Juliette Wingfield'

Being in the garden with the roses seems to refresh my spirit and wipe away the laundry list of things that I worry about. How can one worry about a thing amidst so much beauty? And I plant the roses for many reasons. Of course I fill my little cottage home with roses, and love to give bouquets away to family and friends, but I plant for the future. I have been bereft, in the past, to have left very large gardens that I had made, one with seventy or more roses planted over time, but one day I came to realize that every place you plant a garden lives on even after you are gone, beautifying the landscape for the enjoyment of the people who follow, and leaving lush color and fragrant delight for passersby. We never lose a garden when we leave it, we simply pass on the glory of the garden for those who follow.

And in my heart I am a "rose rustler" though I have not really had that experience. In one of my favorite all time books on the subject, In Search Of Lost Roses, by Thomas Christopher he writes about these grand rustlers who scour the countryside for lost roses, in old graveyards and abandoned homesites, by the side of the road, and even, when they see huge old rose bushes perhaps in an elderly woman's garden, they would knock on the door and ask if they could take a few cuttings. There are few people more generous than gardeners and the rose rustlers saved a lot of roses in their wild and wily pursuits because of the gift of these cuttings from the gardens of other rose lovers whose roses will be perpetuated far into the future. Oh, if you love roses you have just got to read that book. (By the way I am not an affiliate and make no money referring you to amazon but it's the best way to share these books with you.)

For years most of the roses I purchased, and still do, have come from Heirloom Old Garden Roses. Sadly, to me, they are now simply called "Heirloom Roses" and have modernized their catalog and website, but such are the times. Luckily they are still the same wonderful rose growers in Oregon who offer own-root, virus free roses. I have planted so many of their roses over the last twenty years I have longsince lost count. Another favorite has been the delightful Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. I love to just read through their site and dream.

Today I ordered roses from two rose companies that I have grown to love. First of all Chamblee's which I have loved for a long time, and then a company that I just found this year and have been having a heyday ordering from because they have the little "bands" which I had heretofore not heard of, very small to start, which allows for purchasing a number of them, and for every so many roses you buy you get free roses and mystery roses as well. They are Rogue Valley Roses. Talk about a bonus! All of the nurseries I mention are family owned and run and this too I cherish. They so love their roses, they are not just commodities, and so buying roses from these companies is also supporting these wonderful folks who really love and live for their roses. I long for "Romantica Roses" and will order some of those next Spring.

Rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'

The utterly amazing thing about these old roses is that they have come to us from centuries back by cuttings passed forward, for example the above beautiful rose, 'Souvenir de la Malmaison,' comes to us hundreds of years later from the garden of Empress Josephine (Napoleon's wife) at Malmaison which she purchased in 1799! The history of roses is so fascinating to me. I have a vast library of books on roses and I will never learn enough in this lifetime. While I grow many other things, annuals, perennials, flowering bushes, herbs and more, roses are my heart-flowers, and what I mainly concentrate on now. I want to pass cuttings of my roses on so that they may live and grow in other gardens and bring the joy and delight that they bring to me.

Luscious 'Jude The Obscure,' another David Austin English Rose

And so today as I worked in the garden, with the three pugs wandering around and about and wondering when mommy would EVER go back inside, I gloried in the blue sky with tufts of white clouds floating past as I dug roses up out of their "growing on" containers and planted them in their permanent spots. Pricked fingers and arms bled and I didn't notice because I was pressing my nose into fragrant blooms and marveling at their color and form and dreaming of the day they would grow into big roses bushes.

One must get out into the natural world. It is soul-saving. As much time as I spend on the computer, as a writer must needs do, if I didn't turn it off and go out into the garden everyday I don't know what would become of me.

Another favorite, 'Maggie,' a "found" rose...

And so I will end this day dreaming of roses, and losing myself in rose catalogs and websites, and planning gardens that will not mature for years, but will bring me pleasure and delight at every stage, and in the process of planting these roses I am following Joseph Campbell's dictum, "Follow Your Bliss..." and it is a blissful thing indeed. Plant a rose bush today and enjoy the beauty ever after, even when it is just a long ago memory in your mind. We never lose the roses we've planted. They are firmly planted in our dreams...

Blessings to one and all...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Taking The Risk and Trusting Oneself To Live Fully Their Own Truth...

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~*~ Anaïs Nin ~*~

Dear Ones... the day has come...

Was it when I was a little girl, nine years old, hiding under the forsythia bushes and writing in my little red spiral notebook with my 19 cent Bic stick pen, afraid to come out, that I learned to use writing to heal myself? Did thirty plus years of teaching a very deep, spiritual writing/journal class to thousands of people and listening to my student's stories move me to realize that all of our stories are important, even though we often don't think that our own are? I smile a little to myself thinking of those first nights when we would go around the room, introduce ourselves, and say just a word or two. Inevitably there would be one shy woman in the back who would say, barely above a whisper, "I probably won't have anything interesting to write about, I'm just a housewife," and I can tell you that I knew, even as she said it, that her writing would blow us all out of the water, and it did. We look at other people's lives, amazed at who they are, at what they have accomplished, and we feel that we have somehow fallen short. We see our faults and foibles, we tally up our failures, we let the world around us judge who we are and what we are doing and allow them, no, allow ourselves, to be influenced by their opinions. Finally, one day, we begin to outgrow the confines of the sheath of the bud around us, and we begin to burst forth, we begin to be who we really are, and it can be shocking, terrifying, awesome, a joy beyond our imagining, and we begin, trembling, the journey of discovering all of who we are, and take those gifts and talents out into the world. I have begun to burst forth, out of the bud. I am beginning to blossom.

I am blossoming because I am gathering up the gifts I have been given into my basket, turning them over and looking at them closely, and without judgment I am beginning to use them. I am owning my gifts and talents, many I have used since I was a child, or for decades, shyly, not daring to let them shine forth from the center of who I was. I thought about my life, the abused girl, the frightened woman, the bi-polar individual, the woman married nearly three decades and, finally, and gently, came out as a lesbian, with a quiet pride, a softness, viewing the world around me with new eyes. I mourned the loss of lifetime friends who left my life when I told my truth even as I maintained a close and dear relationship with the husband I would not legally divorce for six years, and did my best to nurture my nearly adult children through the changes. I was the broken one, hiding in a cocoon of safety, not leaving my new little home for a dozen years. And then my world began to change, and it would still take a couple of years before I would, tentatively, begin to venture out. And when I did, when I began to let the outer skin tear and begin to fall away, the petals pushing their way into the sunlight, I saw that the gifts came from God, that they were good, that they were to be celebrated, even if many of the people I knew of different faiths did not understand. I have lost friends through many of the changes in my life. I bless them and I let them go.

I have so much love in my heart. Love to give, love to share, and yes, love to receive. I have loved a woman for ten years and celebrate that love with all my heart even if it is too complex for most people to understand, and even though we have been separated for some time because of her work somewhere else in the world, my love only grows stronger, and she lives in my heart. While she is doing her work, I am doing mine, and I trust that one day we will come back together again, walking quietly together through the rest of our days, loving one another gently and with respect. I know that she will understand and accept me in a way no other ever has. She saw the strength in me before I saw it in myself. She said to me, "You are not your diagnoses," and my whole world shifted on it's axis. She saved me without even realizing that she did, and I brought something to her too. She is my soul-mate, and there is nothing more beautiful in the world. As I blossom that is part of the blossoming too.

I can tell you that since I was a child when I hold a crystal in my hand -- and today I live with crystals all around me, that line the top of my computer keyboard, crystals that I never take off-- I am healed and I will use them to heal others. They are not, as some people think, some New Age make believe scary things, they are minerals mined from deep in the earth and they have their own vibrations as we do. I can tell you that I will use them all the days of my life, sitting with large ones in my hands and lap as I meditate, laying them on the bodies of people that I heal. I can tell you that a tiny pug that came into my life blind and afraid now not only follows me all over the yard but has done things I was told that she would never do. I was told that she couldn't use the stairs, and at first I carried her up and down every step we encountered. I regularly held her in my lap and did Reiki on her. One day, to my utter amazement, she ran ahead of me, up the stairs and into the house before I could catch up with her. Another day I said to the three pugs, "Time to go out," and then I realized I had an almost finished e-mail that I needed to quickly finish and send before I lost it. The boys went through the dog door out onto the deck, down several stairs and out into the yard. When I finished I got up and called her, "Penny," I called, "Pennnnyyyy," and I could find her nowhere. Much to my surprise the boys came bursting back through the dog door with her right on their heels. Boom, through the plastic flap came the little blind girl that couldn't do stairs, and I laughed out loud for so long I didn't think I could stop. I would never have let her do it on her own and I still go out with her every single time she goes out to go potty, but I don't carry her down the stairs anymore, I am beside her as she goes down the stairs and out into the yard to do her business, and even then she is back up the stairs and into the house before I can catch up to her. She is my little miracle and I love her so much it is impossible to describe it. There isn't a word big enough.

I don't just credit the reiki and sometimes she still bumps into things in areas she is uncertain of, but she runs all over the house, knows where all the beds are and the numerous bowls of water, where I am and where her pug brothers are, she knows so much more than I ever dreamed she might. I credit the reiki, I credit the crystals I use with her, I credit God and the angels that surround her, that surround all of us, and most of all, I credit love. I believe that at the heart of every healing modality there must be a heart so full of love that it opens wide, a channel, to allow the healing energies to flow through them and to the one we are blessed to be allowing this energy to move through, gliding through our bodies, our hands, and into the etheric and then physical bodies that rest under our hands.

I have titles, but I don't use them. I am an ordained interfaith minister, Reverend Mother Maitri Libellule. I have a Baccalaureate degree in Spiritual Counseling and Healing and I am a teacher of over thirty years. I am a healer of mind, body and spirit, and now a Reiki Master. By the end of the month I will be a Master Healer in the Shamballa method, an integral part of the development and meshing together of all of my talents, brought together in one complex whole. I use many tools that scare some people and are venerated by others and yet I know that they are all God given and Heaven blessed. I don't expect anyone else to understand or believe in all of what I do, and I respect and bless them on their own journey. I welcome them with open arms as they come to me for healing, for guidance, for counsel. I am not a therapist and will suggest that they go to a psychologist or psychiatrist if that is what they need, but I can do pastoral counseling and spiritual healing. I have, at 57, brought all of these gifts together and they are becoming, like a fine tapestry, all of a piece, and I spread it out on the table and invite them, invite you, to the banquet. I will soon do phone counseling as well as healing sessions in person. I was afraid before but now I am ready. I am ready, and it is time. The risk to remain tight in the bud is no longer an option. It is time to blossom.

And so I don't use the titles. I am simply Maitri, the name that I took legally in 2005 because it is the Buddhist teaching of loving-kindness and compassion, and the heart of that teaching is that we must first have it for ourselves before we have it to give to another. I did not take the name because I thought I had achieved it, but because I wanted it to be my guiding star, and to remind me every moment of my life what my work was to be. It has taken me decades and a lot of work to have it for myself, but with enough therapy and spiritual seeking and growth, which will be ongoing, I am now ready. I am still a little afraid, but I will walk through the fear. It is time. We use the gifts that are given us or they die inside of us, wither, and we carry those lost gifts in the pit of our stomachs. I believe not allowing all of who we are, even if those we most love don't understand, even if we lose friends, even if we see the fear and disappointment, perhaps rejection in other people's eyes, we bless them, we love them freely and without exception, and we continue to move forward with all that we have learned, with all that we have let rise to the surface.

I have had visions, real visions, in meditation, as my hands moved over someone lying on a table, as I felt their spirit rise to meet mine, and something higher and beyond my own knowing came to me. I am mostly very silent about this, and sometimes, most of the time, it is simply a way to guide my hands to a part of their body needing healing the most. I have done this with my own animal companions. I am studying using reiki with animals, a special calling of mine. I listen to my spirit guides and intuition, the angels that surround me and give me messages, as if I were listening to another person before me. There were the days I would have been afraid to write this, but I share these words from a heart so full, so unafraid, so sure, so certain in the knowledge that it is real that I have no shame or fear in telling you these things. You can believe what I share or not, but they bless me and make me who I am, and so I thank God, I offer praise and gratitude every single day of my life, over and over again, even as I write. Sometimes I don't even realize what I have written until I am finished and I am surprised, even the next day, when I read it again, but I know that it comes from a special place so deep inside of me that it is like a river flowing. I am simply meant to flow downstream, to stay open, to breathe, to float, and ride words as a raft, and I take deep pleasure in the birthing of the words I am writing. Again, I am filled with thanks and praise, maybe just for myself, because they heal me, they empty me, to allow more to come in, more lessons, more spirit, more guidance, more unexpected gifts.

This reminds me of the famous Zen story of the Master and his student and the pouring of the tea. The Master asks the student to pour their tea and not to stop until he tells him to do so. The tea fills the cup and begins to overflow. The student looks desperately at the teacher who sits quietly allowing the tea to spill over the table, the floor and to keep flowing. The student pleas, "It can hold no more," to which the Master replies, "This is how you come to me, with your mind so full of beliefs that you are not open to what I have to offer you. You must come with am open, empty mind, ready to receive, to make space for the lessons I have to give." I am paraphrasing here but it is the same story. We can only learn if we are open to new truths. I am learning that over and over in my own life. I am not here to force my beliefs on anyone, even pressing them into the one before me ever so gently, if their beliefs are different than my own. I honor and respect the paths of all others. I am simply here as a channel of light for those who would come to receive what I have to offer, and I am quite satisfied with that. There is room, like in the finally opened mind of the tea student, for many ways of being and believing, and part of my own healing, the heart of my own maitri, was accepting all of who I am, and then using the gifts that I know I was meant to use, ever so gently, and only for those who desire and need them. The bud began to flourish when I allowed this to happen. What a relief, what joy, what a blessing.

So I share my story with you. Yours will be different than my own but I pray that you will take the quote at the top and look at your own life and see how you might move from the bondage of the bud to the opening of the blossom, the sharing of all of who you are, despite the consequences, and, with comfort and joy, all of the blessings.

I offer you love, I offer you peace, I offer you all that I have to offer. And so be it. And so it is.

With all the love in my heart...