Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Terrible Losses of Summer... Deidre The Pink Plastic Flamingo Passes Away...

[Some of these photos are not suitable for sensitive adults.
Children are usually okay with them.]

Deidre, our beloved handicapped pink plastic flamingo...

Dear Ones...

It is a sad, sad day here at Dragonfly Cottage. Deidre, our beloved legless pink flamingo has passed away after only 2 summers here in our blistering coastal heat. Some of the others are looking a little the worse for the wear, but Deidre is our first to actually pass away and it is a terrible blow. Summer is hard on all of us here with temps in excess of 100 degrees with the heat index, as it was yesterday, 110 degrees, and humidity so bad your glasses fog up as soon as you step out the door causing you, very likely, to walk into a tree or a wall of the house, or perhaps dead into your car whose windows will fog so badly you will have to wait until winter when things cool a bit to drive it, but if you are plastic (clucking and shaking head) summers are especially hard on you. Most of the flamingos have been here hundreds of years and live back in The Wild Flamingo Wood. I daren't get close enough to even take a photo but here is one that was taken in the 1800's. You can tell by the fence.

Nobody messes with them and they don't bother us as long as we don't get too close to the fence line. Their beaks are so long a pug almost lost his near non-existent nose when he got about a foot away and one of the females, rather fierce as she was protecting a brood of pink plastic babies at the time, reached through the fence and went for the nose. If the poor pug had had any nose to speak of he would have lost it.

We are trying to figure out how best to dispose of Deidre and while we would like to bury her in the pug cemetery with it's charming pink picket fence, she's plastic and we are, after all, environmentally concerned. Go ahead and laugh. I bet you've never had to put a beloved companion in the recycling bin. (Shaking head sadly...)

Poor Deidre can't be buried here...

Of course the roosters couldn't care less. They have never deigned to associate with the flamingos and as far as they are concerned (... roosters are more hard-hearted than one might imagine, shocking really...) a few melted flamingos would suit them just fine. Do you see, they show no sadness or remorse at all, not even the youngsters, which I find shocking, to say the least...

One must expect losses in this heat I suppose and the only one who doesn't mind is Alfred, the flying fish, because the humidity is so thick he can swim in it...

Alfred, shockingly unsympathetic, but he's a cold-blooded
creature, after all (though one might imagine
luke-warm in
these southern climes...)...

I myself am worn out by it all. It has been a tragic loss and quite a depressing day. I shall now go wrap poor Deidre lovingly in plastic grocery bags and put her in the recycling bin. I won't even try to imagine what will happen to her once they pick her up. I just won't let my mind go there.

I hope it's cooler where you are. Keep your flamingos safe. They are with us such a short time... mourning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Night At Twilight ~ Gathering Thoughts Of My Life In A Basket As I Walk Through The Day...

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear."

~o~ Joan Didion ~o~

Dear Ones,

Sundays are days of grace, of reflection, of gathering up thoughts, experiences, lessons, surprises, worries, sadness's, nightmares and day-joys, and I, like women throughout history, put them in a basket, one by one, as we women do gather things to carry, things we deem necessary or important. Women today mostly carry purses. Bags, totes, even woven Guatemalan baskets, but it seems we are always carrying things.The thoughtful reflections are most often gathered at twilight, when I am most likely to be in a moodling mood, as Brenda Ueland wrote -- I love the word moodling -- in her book If You Want To Write ~ A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. I think every writer should read this book. It was always a must read for my students who often had more desire than courage to write. This is a book that gives one courage and makes you laugh and think and charge ahead with notebook and pen and begin moodling on paper. This will lead me to the computer but I like to write by hand first.

Having written since I was 9 years old when I hid under the forsythia bushes and wrote pitiful poetry in a cheap red spiral notebook with a Bic Stick ballpoint pen which at the time were 19 cents -- Lord, at 58 I'm going to start sounding like my dear Grandma who used to talk about when a loaf of bread was only a nickle with a sigh. I remember when I started driving and was really broke putting a quarter's worth of gas in the car which would do me for a little while. I don't think you could even get the pump started for that today! -- and having written in all manner of notebooks and journals through the decades, for a very long time only beautiful, expensive ones, I have found a notebook/sketchbook  that I love dearly and they are so cheap I bought several at once from Dick Blick. They are 6x6" square, have bright orange sturdy covers with heavy flaps on each side to tuck pages in to get them out of the way, and heavy paper for sketching or water-coloring, which makes them perfect for throwing in my basket during the day or around the house to make notes in. I know that I am really writing a book now because I write everything down obsessively lest I forget something deemed crucial at the moment whether I ever use it or not. It is a relief, this obsessive/compulsive note-taking. It lets me know that now the writing is real and will continue.

So I've been writing off and on all day in this little orange notebook with, oddly, another Bic pen that also writes blue, after decades of snobbishly only writing with fountain pens, most especially the pen of my dreams which I finally got at 1/2 off and it still cost way too much, a Mont Blanc that is the size of a big fat cigar and can only be filled with a bottle. I call her Big Mama and still love to write with her but she leaks. Badly. No, oddly what I write with now are permanent ultra fine point markers that glide across the page fast and keep their sharp point. I have been scribbling with this blue pen all day long.

What are some of the things that I have put in my basket today? They are all an odd jumble and some may not make any sense but I'm going to put them down here just to find out, "... what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." as Didion wrote.

Notes in The Basket...

* I love my house. I love the home I am creating. Funny, it is not what I ever imagined as my dream house but it is now, I have dreamed my way into it, and I can't imagine ever living anywhere or wanting anything else. It is a little 40+ year old white ranch house at the end of a very quiet dead end street -- mostly older retirees live around me -- that looks and feels very cottagey with old stands of trees and the back of my property is large and wooded and slopes down to a creek. I don't see the creek because I had the yard fenced in with a privacy fence when I moved in, both for the dogs and, as a virtual recluse I value my privacy above almost all else, a funny thought as I write it for someone who writes so openly about herself and her life, and yet I realize it is because words on paper are safe for me, I can meet you here. I could not and would not likely meet you in person. People have hurt me in my life, animals have not, and so I live with 9 animals in peace and garden and write and pray and work amidst piles of books and pens and notebooks and fiber tools and things stacked everywhere which often brings me to the brink of despair but I just don't know where to start to clean it all up.

(I just stopped writing here for a moment because the pugs were looking at me in the most pitiful way. They sleep around me all day but by this time of night, 9ish, they expect that we will all be cuddled together on the big overstuffed couch reading or watching t.v. where they can be draped over my body and, content, go to sleep because Mama is where she belongs. I haven't even eaten and I eat rather oddly. I think it is not unusual for someone who was once part of a family of five with big family meal-times who now lives alone. I rarely eat out or order in, I don't keep junk food here, I eat organically when possible, but I eat an odd conglomeration of things. Currently I am eating no carbs or sugar, though I am allowed a glass of wine in the evening, so I just went and poured a small class of chilled Pinot Grigio and melted brie on a plate. No crusty bread, sigh, but the pugs, having followed me around and gotten a wee bite of unmelted brie have settled in a little less restlessly around me. And the smooth warm cheese and chilled white wine are helping my body relax. I am not much of a drinker, just a glass of wine here and there of an evening. It is allowed with this diet which I was amazed by but grateful for, especially when I eat melted brie on a plate and not on crusty French bread.)

* French, France, my heritage, my dream. More notes. I am half French, hence having taken the name Libellule after my divorce. Libellule is dragonfly in French and the dragonfly is my totem animal. Also as my biological grandmother's maiden name was Papillon, butterfly, it seemed fitting and a nod to my French heritage. I took 4 years of French in high school and went to France after graduation only to find out that 4 years of high school French do not prepare you for speaking French in France. But I knew enough to get the odd word or phrase out and it was Paris after all. Paris was my dream. I was taken with the 20's and 30's in Paris, the writers and artists and cafe society. I sat in cafes and had cafe au laits and wrote furiously while rereading Hemingway's A Movable Feast. For the rest of my life I have longed to go back to France, even to live there. I have cried over it when a movie was set in a beautiful French landscape or amongst Parisian landmarks. I read M.F.K Fisher's cookbooks on French cuisine as if they were the most riveting novels and dreamed of Dijon and Provence. I would live in Provence, I thought, and walk to the market, and visit Paris. I thought of this today as I walked about the yard with the dogs realizing that this, after all, is my dream house, and I'm happy where I am, and I have become an armchair traveler, and, and you will find this perhaps odd but I am so delighted by it I am beside myself, I have just started taking the Rosetta Stone course in French. I want to speak and read and write fluent French even if only to the parrots and the pugs. Life is funny like that. Life is always funny for most people I think, but few people really discuss these things. I do, and I used to think it was a very odd thing about me, but now it suits me just fine and feels right, for whatever that's worth.

* Painting yourself into a corner or creating the life of your dreams? My corner. My dreams. That's what I was thinking about just kind of moodling about here snuggling pugs and kissing and talking to my poor plucked grey parrot, recently adopted. Scarlet has plucked for over a decade and though she has a varied and high quality diet and so many toys that she can shred that her cage looks like Disneyland, she still prefers shredding herself. I have tried everything I know how, I, whom people have called a Parrot Whisperer, having started and run a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots and hand-raised everything from a finch to a macaw and everything in between and taken the wildest, unruliest parrots and tamed and loved them cannot get this poor little girl to stop plucking. She's done it all her life and she's 12 years old. It's like a person biting their nails obsessively. I have cried over it, thought I'd need to find another loving home for her because I just couldn't bear it, and then knew I'd never do that and I love her just as she is, plucked and all, and she takes me with all of my oddities and idiosyncrasies and kisses me and sings with me and seems happy here and so I guess we're doing just fine. And I love her already. Deeply, dearly. Poor naked Scarlet is not going anywhere.

Miss Scarlet

Oh, painting myself into a corner. You see, the thing is, I have created a life, by choice, that is pretty much cut off from the world and full of animals and I have only left twice in one year, once for my son's wedding and almost the same week this year to meet my new baby grandson. It is very difficult to find a suitable babysitter for this crew not just because there are so many but with four special needs pugs (one blind and the others having been so badly abused they pee everywhere and I'm constantly cleaning up and they are all on all kinds of meds...) that though I don't really want to go anywhere, when I have to (running about locally for errands on the odd days is fine) it is a nightmare to find a good situation to leave town because someone literally has to stay here all the time. I have been lucky to find someone but it not only wasn't easy I was anxious over them the whole time. My garden is so large that it could quickly die in this heat if I were gone long, not that I want to be, but when the odd dream of Paris slips up again or a family celebration that I wouldn't and couldn't miss for the world, I do wonder what I have done, and yet... this is what I want, this is the life of my dreams, this funny, simple little, animal filled, jumbled up, quiet, happy life of mine.

No, I didn't paint myself into a corner, I have built the life of my dreams.

* I am an odd gardener and it suits me just fine. I plant seeds by the thousands, buying them by the pound, and plant them like some whirling dervish of seeds. My theory is that in nature when things go to seed and self sew they do not plant themselves in tidy little rows and what will survive will and what won't, won't, and there are always lush gardens and flowers aplenty. Then there's the tiny fairy garden I'm growing on my deck just outside my studio windows. Amidst the trailing hot pink petunias, wild flowers that I have uprooted from the yard and seeds that I planted, there are volunteer sunflowers from all of the bird feeders I have on the deck. It is helter skelter and delights me no end. Just wait until the fairies come, they will love it!

I took lots of pictures of roses blooming with my phone when I was out first thing with the dogs this morning but sadly only one is worth showing because it was so early, and I was so tired, having slept almost not at all last night, watching old episodes of "Dark Shadows," which tickles me no end, until about 4 a.m., that I somehow took most of the pictures with my blue Crocs, which are a few years old and much the worse for the wear, plus the corner of my ratty red "house dress" which is like a long t-shirt, very soft and comfy but not what you want pictured with your roses,  showing up in the best of the rose pictures. Geez. But this is a photo of my favorite rose with many new blooms about to open, David Austin's English rose, 'Heritage.' I have planted roughly 40 roses here so far in 2 1/2 years and I love them all dearly and have many favorites but 'Heritage' is always at the top of the list, a soft seashell pink and very fragrant...

I could keep rambling on but I feel you all nodding off if you've even gotten this far and the pugs have given up, poor little things, and are all snoring around me. All but wee little blind Penny who is in my lap where she thinks she belongs so I am typing via the "hunt and peck method" now with one hand as she is nestled in my left arm. I'd better get the boys up and head into our couch and we will pile into our lumpy puffy comfy pillows and soft blankets and watch a movie. My brain has just officially stopped working and I've barely touched the wine. It will likely go back in the fridge as it often does.

I'd love to know what you have in your basket but as we will almost certainly never meet you can write them on the wind. I promise I can hear them and I care, I really do, more than you know.

Good night, sweet dreams, the pugs and I are heading to the couch...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Appreciating A Single Day and Weaving Our Dreams Through The Hours...

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it."

~o~ Elizabeth Gilbert ~o~

Dear Ones, 

It is a day full of blessings. I say that not because it is a "perfect day," none are in the world's eyes. I say it because it is a profoundly beautiful day in so many ways and I am filled with gratitude for every single moment. I have come to "insist" on it as Gilbert wrote, meaning when I "fall off the horse I get back on and keep riding." Sometimes it takes me hours to move forward again, sometimes only a very short time. I keep remembering what my mother said over and over when she was dying of cancer, a very difficult and debilitating cancer that lasted for five years. On the worst of the worst of the worst days if you called her she would say, "Every day's a good day. It is what you make it." Until she could no longer physically manage she got up, bathed, dressed, put on her makeup, made her bed, and had breakfast with her sister who lived upstairs and also had serious health challenges. They both had macular degeneration and my aunt was almost completely blind, and so was my mother toward the end. Neither could barely see and they managed in the most amazing way. I will never forget that as long as I live, and while I have my bad days -- wishing I could be more like my mother -- I hear her words in my head and try harder to remember that "Happiness is the consequence of personal effort."

I have written about some of the personal challenges in my life, and yes they are still in my past, but what I am trying most to do now is to imagine drawing a line in the sand and stepping over it. There was "before" and there is "after," something I am writing about in detail in my book, and I am working at staying on the "after"side of the line. To carry that albatross around my neck, the circumstances and difficulties that were on the other side of the line, is to go through life never being light enough to see all the blessings, the happiness, and the joy that is there even on the hardest days. 

And I am so lucky to live with a "mob," five parrots and four pugs. Not always easy but worth every moment (...except perhaps when the boys pee everywhere...)! And the tiniest pug of all, a little blind girl, sounds the alarm with one tiny little bark somewhere between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and her tiny little bark has the boys up like a shot. They sleep with me in the king-sized bed which is funny because when I got it I imagined ALL THIS SPACE, and most of the time I am squished in the middle covered with pugs who cling to me like limpets on a rock, all snoring as pugs will, in a chorus of different voices, and many's the night I just laugh and go to sleep with my arms around them. I used to have terrible nightmares. On this side of the line I sleep with four living, breathing teddy bears. That's how I think of them. And when Penny wakes everyone up they bound around the bed and all over me and give me kisses and stare at me right in the face and Mama trudges up, limping on a painful knee, out into the yard as they scatter everywhere.

If I am lucky, if it is very early, I say "Let's go back to bed," and they know exactly what I mean. I have to lift my beloved Sam, near 14 now, and wee little blind Penny, up on the bed because they can't make it on their own, but the two youngsters, 3 and 5 years old, come bounding up on the bed, all over all of us, and try to play. I tell them in a stern voice, "Lay down," and they do. Funny baby Tanner, 3 years old, drops in one second and is snoring before the rest of us are all settled, and Penny gets up in my armpit or ON me, and goes back to sleep, but again she will sleep just so long and then she's up again with her tiny bark and I give up and we go out again, although she's just as likely to want breakfast as anything, but I don't trust the peeing boys so out we go. 

When we get in the door which is in my studio, the first room we come into, I uncover Miss Scarlet and let her out of her cage and we kiss and kiss and say "Good Morning." She is the newest member of the mob, the mostly featherless grey parrot who looks like Raggedy Ann with her stuffing coming out, but she has plucked for 10 years and isn't likely to stop so Raggedy Scarlet she is and she gets her breakfast first. The pugs have learned our routine and Scarlet eats while I move on to the puglings. Except for Penny who is a little lady despite the circumstances, the 3 boys practically do backflips while I get their vitamins, medicines, eyedrops (two different kinds for 2 different dogs) and then they bark and cry while I get their breakfast. People who have seen this routine say, "How do you DO this every morning," but I just smile and say, "It's such a joy. There were the days I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed. With 9 animals to take care of you don't really have a choice! And they have me laughing every single day." Tanner the 3 year old cries like a human baby as if he is being tortured having to wait 3 minutes for his breakfast. 

Then the little pee-er's  get hustled out again and they always go which amazes me when they've already been out twice, but I got tired of cleaning up after them when I didn't get them out. The Princess of course has done her business and is too much of a lady to have to be hustled out with the boys, and when they come in I still have the other parrots to go.

Into the front bird room I go to the other 4 parrots. Every single one of them give me kisses and chat at me as I turn on all the lights and their radio (They listen to public radio, they are very cultured parrots!), get their breakfast and fresh water and and finally, with the 9 of them taken care of, I head back into the kitchen and lean against the counter kind of worn out, but happy. The pugs are racing all about with toys, except little Pugsley, the 5 year old, who has abandonment issues and will not leave my side until I head into the studio, looks up at me with such love and devotion it touches my heart every single day. He watches me make my coffee and head on out. It's a good hour before I sit down, all the animals always get taken care of first, and then as I turn on the computer and sip my coffee yet another joy, one of my favorite times of the day, is watching the wild birds at the 3 feeders just outside my studio window. The chickadees and cardinals too many to count, the blue jays and the woodpeckers, and so many more delight me with their antics, and the thick stand of trees, the backdrop to the deck, sway in the breeze, the sun glistening on the leaves, and I relax into my chair and sigh a happy sigh. We've begun another day and while there may well be bumps along the way I start out very happy, a near naked parrot just 2 feet behind me, 4 pugs settling in their beds and going back to sleep, watching the wild birds, and thanking God for this multitude of blessings. 

Every day's a good day, it is what you make it, and if I don't make it all the way through the day, I do try, and this morning routine is one of the biggest helps for me. As I settle in tiny Penny comes to my chair, stares up at me with her huge puggy eyes, barks her tiny bark, which means "pick me up, NOW" and they only way I can manage this is to turn completely sideways, put my feet up on a small table next to me, scoop her up and throw an afghan over my lap and get her settled. She goes right to sleep after a kiss and snuggles in for the next 2 or 3 hours of work. I am now sitting sideways with the computer completely turned askew typing with one hand. I can't not do it because she is irresistible and the many mistakes I make are a horror. I try to correct them but I have to read through the piece several times and still I miss some. If I'm doing a longer piece of writing I put her in her bed and she is somewhat indignant but after a few little barks gives up. She seems to understand that this is not a lap time.

 Penny on my chest at the computer...

The rest of the day is going in and out with the dogs, working in the garden, feeding and caring for the animals and somewhere in there getting my own meals, praying and meditating, and yes, dreaming my dreams. I am a great proponent of the law of attraction and do believe that we create our own realities. I weave these dreams throughout my day and do affirmations on the computer along with pictures and positive thoughts. They are going to come true, I firmly believe that. 

And so they day goes on. Scarlet says and sings 300 words and might be singing "Ole McDonald had a farm, ee-yi-ee-yi Ooooooooooo" or chatting away and though I hadn't planned on having her she is such a funny little person she has added a new and delightful dimension to the family. 

And so why did I write all of this? I wrote it because despite the fact that the past entries have been about the hard times, there is far more joy and loveliness about my days than the reverse, I wanted to encourage you to look to your life for the little things that bring you happiness and contentment and when you do, when you open that door, you draw a line in the sand and step over it and work at continually moving forward, and yes, you will forget, but you try your best to get back on track as soon as possible, you make way, more and more, for better days, filled with gratitude, and if you go back to Gilbert's quote at the top of this entry, which I have written down and taped to the top of my computer along with other quotes to help me remember, you increase your chances of coming out of the difficult times a little easier and quicker. Of course I would also recommend a pug or four and a few parrots but I know that's not everyone's cup of tea!

Be well dear friends, look to the joy, or create it, in your days where you can no matter what your circumstances may be, and remember that our days are what we make them, every single day. I hope you can hear me Mom, on the other side of this physical existence. I'm trying, I really am. You taught me well, and I try to remember. 

Warm beautiful sweet regards to one and all, and blessings and love to you...

2 1/2 pugs piled on Mom. The third is on my feet!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Living Wabi Sabi, Embracing The Imperfect-Perfect Life & Learning To Let Go and Move On & The Invincible Summer...

"Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional... 

It is also two separate words, with related but different meanings. 'Wabi' is the kind of perfect beauty that is seemingly-paradoxically caused by just the right kind of imperfection, such as an asymmetry in a ceramic bowl which reflects the handmade craftsmanship, as opposed to another bowl which is perfect, but soul-less and machine-made. 

 'Sabi' is the kind of beauty that can come only with age, such as the patina on a very old bronze statue."

 ~o~  From Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, by Leonard Koren  ~o~

Dear Ones,

More than a decade ago, before 'wabi-sabi' had entered the popular lexicon of words and ideas, I was teaching a writing class I called "Wabi-Sabi Writing." I had the website, my license place said "WabiSabi" and I was writing two companion books. "Wabi-Sabi Writing," and "Living Wabi Sabi." The second book, when almost finished with a number of short chapters on my website, had found a small audience and I was asked to read some of the chapters on the local public radio station. I was featured in The Utne Reader for my wabi-sabi work and then, before I could finish and publish the book, a book showed up at amazon called Living Wabi-Sabi. I was absolutely crushed. The book was nothing like mine, and you can't copyright titles, only content, but having 2 books out in the same time-frame with the same title seemed untenable, too confusing for those finding them.

I stopped teaching the writing classes after over thirty years. I stopped working on the book, and what I realized the other day was that that was the last book I had completed (very nearly) and it was as though my heart was broken. It wasn't just one more book a writer writes and tries to sell, it was my whole life, every aspect was involved in this work, it so completely fit my life down to being lopsided and cattywompus from a severe case of Bell's Palsy that has never completely gone away, that the whole experience just deflated me on every level. Soon you heard wabi-sabi everywhere and there have been countless books and businesses using the term. For me it was deeply spiritual and I had attached to an idea so deeply that it felt like having part of my body ripped off when I walked away from it.

And this, too, was wabi-sabi.

This, too was perfect, the imperfect-perfect. 

This, too, has become, as Wallace Stevens wrote, my paradise.

I believe that the hardest thing for us, as humans, is to let go of an idea, a thing, a relationship, anything we have attached to because we can't see beyond it, we can't believe that there is anything else around the corner, we can't believe that there is life beyond the life that we know, and yet there is. We have to be broken down to be rebuilt, made stronger. When a bone breaks the place where it heals is even stronger. In Sue Bender's book (one of my favorite all-time books) Everyday Sacred, she tells a story of how a prized, expensive bowl in Japan, when broken, was pieced back together with sterling silver, making the bowl more precious and valuable than it had been before it was broken. 

We can break and heal and become stronger than we ever were before.

I have been going through a very hard time these last months, and suddenly, in the middle of a two hour session with my cherished and most important spiritual teacher over the last weekend, and telling her how it was odd because even though I have suffered from clinical depression and am in fact medicated for it (and seldom experience these bouts of depression any more) I had at first felt that I was depressed but then realized that I wasn't depressed but was, well, feeling lost. Further, I realized that I had finally come to the place where I was letting go of so much of my past life, and who I was, to make ready for who I believe I was meant to be, that I was experiencing a kind of grief, especially in a relationship that I'd thought would last forever. It was the last vestige of truly letting go of one of the most important things, perhaps, better put, most difficult things for me to let go of, among many other things. All of a sudden the stream of trickling changes in my life has moved into a fast flowing river and I have barely been able to catch my breath the changes have been coming so quickly, but in the middle of my weekend session with my teacher, I had the shocking realization that it wasn't holding on to these things anymore, afraid to let go, that was paralyzing me with a kind of fear, it was, truly, a stage of grief knowing that I was ready to let go, letting things and people I'd thought would be in my life forever slip through my fingers and out of my hands, and I was, I have been, in a very real way, going through Kubler-Ross's stages of grief...

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

I had moved, for the most part, through the first four.  I was stuck in the inability to accept the changes, some very deep and painful, that had and were coming about. Some time, over the weekend, in fact in the middle of the session with my teacher, I said, in shock, "Oh my gosh, I have let go, I have finally let go, and it has been the sadness around knowing that I was about to, and then finally letting go of, a person and a life I thought I would have, and the myriad things connected to the life I had dreamt of having for years that caused me to lose myself in the deep sadness of those stages of grief. Somewhere inside of me I knew I had to let go, and finally I have. Saturday night as I realized it was time, I let go of the branch I had been clinging to and let myself be swept downstream, and now I am sitting on a bank on the side of the stream with wildflowers all around me and I have slipped into a space of such deep peace I cannot even convey it in words. I have been set free, and it couldn't happen until I let go.

Too, I have let go of an enormous amount of pressure to produce work that I've thought I was supposed to, and decided that this summer I would do what came easily, with no pressure, and take very good care of myself, and quietly and gently let the table rise. I will do the things that I want to do (like write more often here, on the blog), and I will let this be a time of healing. I have come through the winter, spring set in and little shoots of green have started to appear, and this summer I will glory in the changes that bloom inside of me and flow outwards into my life and work and the world around me. 

I am ready.

It has, just now, made me remember one of my favorite quotes, in fact one that has been very important in my life. It is something that Albert Camus wrote in his book, The Stranger...

"In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."

I think I knew, I think I have always known, but now I am ready. Someone very dear to me once said, "You are so much stronger than you know," and I finally know that yes, I am. In a few short days we move from spring into summer. It is time to allow the radiant light inside of me to grow and spill over, not just in the midst of winter, but inside me, always. What a glorious thing to feel, to open my eyes and heart to, what a relief to finally have reached the shore instead of toppling headlong down the fast moving current. I am here, I am ready, it is now.

My teacher also told me about a book that she was reading that she felt I would both enjoy and benefit from at this juncture in my life. That night I downloaded it from my audible account and began listening to it and it is just blowing me away. It is Dr. Wayne Dyer's newest book, Wishes Fulfilled. I cannot stop listening to it and I know I will listen to it multiple times. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And so I will stop here. It's time to put together the "Love From Dragonfly Cottage" newsletter that I send out every Monday. I hope you will sign up for it. It is free and the sign up form is in the right column here near the top. The newsletter is my way of staying in touch with you more often, sharing the life here with the pugs, the parrots, the garden, to share books and quotes and the lessons I'm learning along the way that I want to share with you, and letting you know when the e-courses and e-books that I am planning are ready. I would so love for you to be part of the Dragonfly Cottage extended family. I am working at building a community for women who need a safe place to find solace, support, inspiration, encouragement, community, and more. I have done this online since 1999 when I started the first Dragonfly Cottage website that ran for 7 years and had over 1500 members and 15 mailing lists. Mailing lists seem to be, very nearly, a thing of the past, so eventually there will be a forum. Dear women, please join the list and allow me to share from my heart, to yours, all that I have dedicated my life to for over 30 years. It is time for me to begin again. There is so much that I want to give to you, share with you, and celebrate with the growing numbers that join us. 

We are all wabi-sabi. Imperfect-Perfect. It is our paradise.

Warm Regards & Deepest Blessings to All,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Alone, and Feeling At Ease, and Finally Telling The Truth...

"Only when alone can I feel at ease even though I long for company of a sort I have yet to find except, occasionally, with Sally, the sort that doesn't make you wonder if what you've just said or done are making people snigger inside. Alone, I inhabit a world shaped by magical belief and the stories I tell myself about myself flow clear and continuous..."
~*~ Nancy Mairs ~*~,
Remembering The Bonehouse

Dear Ones,

Nancy Mairs' books are the most courageous books I have ever read and I am rereading this book now to remember her courage, her truth, her complete lack of a facade of any sort. The "Bonehouse" is her body, and the book is about living in her body after she found out that she had Multiple Sclerosis. Through her many books, which are spell-binding, you experience, in the deepest level of your being, what it means to live in a body that is deteriorating. I spoke to her once on the phone years ago. By that time she could no longer type but spoke her words into the computer and continued to write books that I cherish and am amazed by.

As I write my book I feel close to her words even though her circumstances have been nothing like mine, but her truth-telling is what is spurring me on to tell mine, to tell the bits and pieces that I thought that I would never write, to express the experience of living in my own Bonehouse, which has been a different kind of trial. Sexually abused for many years, terrified of my own body, living my life, as I've often told people, as if my spirit were flying along with my body bumping on the ground behind me. I have frequently been hurt. It is as if I wasn't aware that I had a body at all.

And I know about the sniggering too. I can only imagine what an odd child I was at school with what was going on at home, but I was made fun of, not part of the cliques, "the cool kids," and I found my greatest solace with my animals, all sorts, mainly dogs, and from ten years old on into early high-school, on horses. I miss horses terribly and if I ever have the means I will live on a farm and do horse rescue, taking in those who are too old to ride, those who need love, and care, in their later years. Animals offer unconditional love, people seldom do. Even the ones you love with your whole heart and they love you, there are always areas that are grey and can become mucked up and muddy and painful, at least for a time. I am not complaining about this, I am simply stating a fact.

And there is the magical child that still lives inside of me. The stories that she has told are not lies, but often tinted a soft shade of pink, or lavender, or sky blue, perhaps pale green. In this way I survive and move on. I am a realist, I don't live in fantasy, but there are those bits of me that have created a world in which I can live and survive. I am a survivor. 

Nancy wrote bravely in more than one book about having had an affair after she had MS, in an attempt to feel something in her body that was quickly falling away. She came through that dark time and she and her husband reconciled and have had an incredibly beautiful marriage ever since. If she can reveal that can I write about leaving a man I loved dearly and do to this day, to be alone and discover the side of me that I had long hidden even from myself, that I am a woman who loves women? I am still close to my ex-husband and we love our children dearly. This is a gift that I am deeply grateful for and do not take for granted.

I am writing these words holding my breath, wondering how many of my longstanding readers will fall away, but I've not told my truth for too many years to worry about that anymore. There are people who will be helped by my experience, even if only touching on some parallel reality to theirs. It is for them that I tell the truth too. How can I not?

When I am alone I feel at ease. Yes, there are hours of aching loneliness, but they pass and I settle deep into the gentle comfort of the silence around me where the whirring of a fan, the talking of the grey parrot behind me, the nuzzling of a group of small pugs who sleep all around me comfort me deeply. No, I am seldom lonely, and I have moved very deeply into a spiritual life that I hadn't known possible. I talk to God all day long. He is my constant companion. And I love all people everywhere, and in writing that I am not being trite or prosaic, silly or overblown, I am telling a truth that comes from the knowledge that people everywhere are afraid, they suffer, they love, they feel joy, and in the stillness, the place where I pray and feel all that is, all that I am able to know, I know that the love that I feel is born of a compassion that I have learned as I walked through my own dark days, and in that journey my most potent desire is to help others, to let them know that they are never really alone, to let them know that they are loved. Many won't understand, will disagree, will think it is part of the magical beliefs that are part of who I am, but they would be wrong, and I am past explaining myself. I will simply be who I am. That is the truest, the most important thing that I can do.

In Remembering The Bonehouse Mairs writers:

" 'Your body is a temple,' I will recoil at the perpetuation of this boundless source of shame, self-alienation and pain. 'Your body is not a temple!' I want to shout at each wide-eyed child whose body has just been snatched from her and set on a hill, remote from the grubby reality that she is hungry for lunch with a whole hour to go and the boy behind her has just dropped something squirmy down her blouse and she'd like to whirl around and give him a good smack on the nose. 'Your body is a body. Not a holy place of worship but a person. Not a structure 'you' occupy like a maidservant in her master's house but you, yourself. Make yourself at home."

I am learning to make myself at home. I am making peace with my body. I am writing this book and I will tell every bit of truth inside of me. Yes, I am finally writing the book. It is time...