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...