Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today I Decided That It's Okay To Stop Trying To Save The World and Save My Own Life Instead...

Dear Ones,

First of all let me say that it is outright hubris to think that you can save the world no matter what you do, what I was referring to is that all of my adult life, with my non-fiction, I have tried to use my own life whose genesis came out of a childhood of abuse and remains, to this day, an ongoing struggle with mental health diagnoses that I've written about before and don't need to go into again here. The point is that in continuing to explore/return to/write about my dark past and daily struggles is to nail myself to that place like a butterfly pinned to a board, and there's no way I can move forward and survive in that climate. I woke up the other morning so terrified after one of my really bad nights I got up and wrote something that was to be the beginning of a book about the ongoing struggle to just get by day by day. It meant to also show the good times, the light streaming in through the cracks, and that no matter how far the rubber band stretched it would not break. Too many people have been lost to any number of devastating life circumstances, I wanted, oh so dearly, to show that we can survive, but it was a very dark beginning. It was so dark it scared me. The couple of people I showed it to were scared to death. I didn't write another word. In these last days I realized that I had two choices, try to save the world with my writing (That is obviously an overstatement, but in my heart I have really wanted to help people.), or save myself. I have chosen to save myself. 

I wrote a note to my dear mentor who has been reading my writing since July. Here is a portion of what I sent...

"... I sat here at my art table. I have no idea if this book can sell. I have no idea if I'm just playing. But what I do know is that it's better for my mental health to work in a book that brings me JOY and still has something meaningful to say than the other way around. One book might have merit, might sell, could help other people, BUT, this book could save my life.

I've thought it was a hard choice to make. I'm not "an artist" in the formal sense of the word, just a lifelong doodler who loves color and texture and collage and fiber art and all manner of fringey art forms that could work with something I have to say that can hopefully have merit without making me feel like I want to stick my head in an oven like Sylvia Plath.

I can't believe I'm writing this here but it's honest. I guess I'm asking for permission -- as silly as this might seem, even though it's dead serious -- to do the thing that will save ME even if it doesn't save the world. (Or that be it's aim.) Even though I really need money/an income/am terrified what will happen to me if I don't do something that will sell, I have come to the stark realization that it's better to end up in a tent in the woods than with my head in an oven.

So today I'm coloring. Drawing. Doodling. Starting that Great Big Enormous Dreambook. And I'm saying it here so it is real...

I am crying now but I think it's tears of relief. I think I might have just found the way to save my life."

Today I have turned a corner that is SO huge for me it is like closing one book and starting another. It took me nearly 59 years to finish that first book, close the cover, and lay it aside. Today I opened up a new book, blank, a vast expanse of empty pages full of possibility. And what will come will come, but I've pulled up all the blinds and let the light in. My dark days and hard times will come but I won't be doing work that keeps me stuck in that place. The work that I am beginning now can lift me up and out of those times and change the whole tenor of my life. I believe this to be absolutely true.

Someone that I worked with for a short time read back through this blog. She said that since the beginning of this blog I had been talking about "writing the book" but never getting it written. She was right. The thing is, I kept trying, like someone trying to parallel park with no success, backing in, pulling out, backing in, pulling out, and never quite making it, into a book that would have the ability to help others who had suffered and do suffer, but I could never find my way into that book without being pulled under. I finally stopped trying to parallel park and am driving down the block to a spot I can pull into with ease. I will have to walk farther to get to my destination, but it will be a nice walk, and it's a sunny day, and I feel better already.

I'm going to go draw now. And scribble and write and paint. And my guardian angels watch over me as I work. Here, in my studio, they look very like parrots, but they don't fool me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I told you that I would never give you more than you could bear, but...

Hold steady dear one, hold steady...

You stepped beyond your comfort zone and it was brave of you to try, so do not punish yourself because you moved beyond the parameters of the world that you built to protect your fragile heart. You tried. You took one step further than you have before. Retreat is not defeat. All will be well.

I was with you this morning as you lie in anguish in your bed, clutching your little dogs close, tears running down your cheeks. Your prayers ran through your head like a runaway train until they were a blur on the horizon, but they held you aloft. I was there, I would not have let you fall.

I told you that I would never give you more than you could bear, but I could not promise that what you could bear would be easy, that some nights it might bring untenable torment, that fear might grip you around the ankles and try to pull you under. But each time you wrestle free and rise again you have won, and you will win the battle over and over again, each time, stronger, more able to face another day a little more sure-footed than before.

I have sat with you this day while you struggled to get your bearings. I will sit beside you while you sleep. You are never alone, though it may seem painfully so at times, I am always here. Now close your eyes and rest. Tonight you will sleep well and have peaceful dreams...

From, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook,"
copyright 2012-2013, Maitri Libellule

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I am the guide inside of you. If you are reading this it is because you are ready to hear it...

I feel your lack of belief in yourself.

I know that there are a thousand reasons that you can tell me that you are absolutely certain are unchangeable, things that you "know" have held you back and will hold you back, that while others follow and achieve their dreams yours are unattainable. Why?

Get out a piece of paper. Write down ten reasons why you "know" you can't succeed and for every single one of them, whether you believe it or not, I want you to write an answer that refutes that negative belief. You don't even have to believe it, you just have to make it up, write it down, do it with great gusto, have fun with it, you can pretend you are writing it for someone else. Now...

Take out a clean sheet of paper. Write a new list of ten things, but this time write the second list that you came up with showing you how your negative responses could be turned into positive responses. Write this list in big bold bright colors, better yet do it on a big piece of poster board. Again, you don't have to believe or trust them yet, you just have to write them down and make them visible, some place that you see them frequently throughout your day. Read through them outloud, with great gusto. Don't make any judgments, they are just words on paper.

Do this for 21 days. Along the way little inklings of things will begin to come to mind how each one of these things IS attainable. They needn't be big things, but every little idea will spark a bigger one, and a bigger one and soon the ten positive steps to achieving your dream will start to fall, like dominoes, leading you toward the life you have longed to live, the dream you have desperately wanted to achieve.

Yes, I am the guide inside of you. If you are reading this it is because you are ready to hear it. We draw to us the things we not only want but the things we are finally ready to act on. "When the student is ready, the teacher arrives." Look in the mirror, you have the ability to be your own teacher. Who knows you better than you do? Answers coming from outside yourself are not answers that you are likely to implement and follow through on. If you know you do want to follow through then you are ready to take a course, get a mentor, do whatever it is you need to do, but it is the belief in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals and the life you know you deserve that gets you half way there. Once you get that far nothing can stop you, nothing.

You called me here today to tell you what you already know. You know this to be true. Now pick up your pen and start those lists. You are going to have so much fun I can already hear you laughing. I can feel tiny bubbles of joy starting to form in a place you don't even know exists. As soon as you start reciting your positive list every day you gain momentum with blinding speed. You will be so excited to finally see the life you have imagined coming into focus you will be rushing toward it. No seeming impediment cannot be dealt with, no hurdle is too high to jump.

Everybody STEP BACK! Here comes a train barreling down the tracks, and she's having the ride of her life, she's driving that train and heading toward those goals faster than she ever knew was possible.

I knew it was possible, so did you. that's why you called me today.

From, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook," 
copyright 2012-2013, Maitri Libellule 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

THIS IS THE MOST GLORIOUS DAY OF MY LIFE! (I'm not sure why just yet, but I decided to say that every morning just to get the ball rolling!)

Boy is that a mouthful!

Well, I am not one to use flashing blinking suns, and I am NOT Pollyanna, but, well, WHY NOT? Why not approach every single day realizing that it is brimming over with potent possibilities abundant? I have spent a great many days in my life sad, depressed, overwhelmed, living in fear, and more, and where did it get me? Nowhere, except to bring everyone around me down. The new year has dawned and I decided to take a new tact. I will no longer dance with fear. When fear comes knocking at the door I will say, "There there, I see you, I hear you, I acknowledge that it feels that way right now, but please step aside, I've got work to do." I am learning, I NEED to learn and to remember, that fear is just an emotion that rises with the tide of life's currents and drifts back out to sea. It comes and it goes and it will always be present. We think we are supposed to fight fear, you can't fight fear, you give it it's due and then step around it. You can't ignore it because then it becomes the elephant in the room that you are trying to pretend isn't there and it just gets bigger by the second. I can be afraid and get on with life anyway. Or so it is my practice this year.

In the past month and a half I found out that I have a health issue to deal with, I've said here that I have a lot of weight to lose (and I'm losing, I'm losing!), and most importantly this is the year that a lifetime's worth of work and writing and teaching are coming together to create the business/income that will take care of me on into the future. And the more things that piled up that I hadn't expected (More frequent doctors visits than I have had in my life, dealing with checking my blood sugar ongoing, getting all kinds of things checked out under the hood, so to speak...) on top of the pressure to "perform" in terms of my work nearly put me over the edge this last week, I'm talking about a crash of major proportions. My very dear friend, plus a very kind woman, and a magical mentor have seen me through this week, and then I got up this morning and, having taken care of the nine animals, and my morning routines, I sat down here with my coffee and wee tiny Penny pug in my lap, and I looked out of my studio windows and I said out loud, "This is the most glorious day of my life!" I wasn't sure how, or why, or what would make it so, but I thought I had the cards stacked in my favor just by saying it, singing it, BELIEVING IT! And by gosh and by golly it's been a doggoned good day!

I sat this morning in bliss in a pile of art supplies working on the cover of a book that will be hand-done (I'm revising this part of my website if any of you have noticed that it disappeared!), MAITRI'S GREAT BIG ENORMOUS DREAMBOOK. I just felt flippin' joyful doing it. I'm grinning looking at it right now and I'm not even finished. I have spent, literally, years wanting to do a book like this, and it has been working with the marvelous SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) (And oh she so totally ROCKS you really need to click on the link and go to her website. but I'm sure most of you know her many fabulous books that have brought so much JOY to the world!) since last July that let my serious soulful writer self and my joyful playful writer self (...who thought they weren't supposed to co-exist together lest people point their finger at me saying, "There she goes being all bi polarish again!") hold hands and realize it was okay to play together. I am also writing a book called The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook and it is really coming along, more than 50,000 people have read pieces of it on Facebook, and Susan (SARK), my glorious writing mentor, has sent me such glowing praise and support for this book that I am floated on her encouragement, and the projected publication date for this book is April 30, 2013, my 59th birthday. Wooohooo! And, then...

Fear throws rotten tomatoes at me and tries to make me run for cover, but I speak to it politely and step around it and keep on going. I am also learning to let go of a lot of things that were important to me because being realistic about what we can and cannot do and letting go of everything we can makes space for that which we know we must do. I am making space, this year, for realizing a long held dream, and learning how to do it, bi polar and all. Facing days that can make you teeter-tottery off  balance but knowing that there's a good life to be had if you play your cards right, well, it's been a big lesson for me, and this year I'm getting it. I have read and heard the same thing over and over from different books, during teleseminars, and so many teachers it is as though, well, I might be slow on the uptake but I realize that this is a message I was supposed to get. The question is: "What are you willing to do to make this happen?" "This" being making this the year I get serious enough about doing and not just dreaming. And I will always be a dreamer, but this is the year I become a do-er too!

And so, for me, there is only one way to approach life. Call it positive affirmations, call it belief in something greater than yourself, or just good old fashioned wisdom like what my amazing mother said in her last years as she was dying of a devastating cancer. She said, "Every day's a good day, it is what you make it." And she said that on her worst days, ravaged by the cancer, having gone blind, in pain, she still said it. So if I get up each day and say, "This is the most glorious day of my life!" I may not know what will manifest, how the day will turn out, what surprises, delights, hurdles I might have to jump, or teeter-tottery days I will have to work hard to balance, all in all each day is the most glorious day in our lives if we let it be, because what other choice is there? At least that's the path I'm taking. It's my yellow brick road.

I'd like you to know that tomorrow morning, with a tiny blind pug in my lap and a host of little critters all around me, I will raise my coffee cup to you and say, "This is the most glorious day of our lives! Here's to you!" I know we can do it, you and I, so let's have at it!

Tomorrow is a whole new day, and it is going to be the most glorious day of my life.

Warm Regards & Great Joyful Blessings to All,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"I have an amazingly strong heart, I have been through harder things before, and I will get through this!"

Yesterday I felt your heart trembling, I knew you were afraid. I wanted to move forward, take you in my arms and let you lay your head on my shoulder, stroke your hair and reassure you that everything would be alright, but I can't promise that, and it wouldn't have given you space to grow, to stretch, to discover that you can make it through this hard place that feels like trying to inch yourself through a too small space where the walls are craggy and sharp -- they hurt, you feel the pain in your body -- but even more, the pain in your mind, and the pressing on your heart feels so unbearable you are sure that this time you will not make it. But...

But I knew you would make it. I knew you would make it because I have seen you move through places that were so painful you were sure that this time would be the end, and that nothing could pull you through. But it did because you have within you a deeper faith and a stronger heart than you are fully aware of. I want you to take a great big purple crayon and write it on the wall, "I have an amazingly strong heart, I have been through harder things before, and I will get through this!" Aha! Afraid to write on the wall? Well, what would happen if you did? Would it be the end of civilization as we know it? Not likely, but it would be there as a reminder every time you get in this place. Okay, you can make a big poster, but leave it there. Doodle on it every time you pass by. Glue pictures on it that make you giddy, that inspire you, that makes your heart soar, quotes that will keep your engine running when you think it might give out. Oh yes you can. Make a practice of doing all the things you think you weren't SUPPOSED to do and watch how it changes you when you see that the world doesn't end because you did it. Man, are you in for a delightful surprise!

It's okay to cry, it's okay to be afraid, it's okay to curl up in a ball in a chair for an hour or two, but then by God you are going to get up and take the first step, no matter how small, and you are going to climb that mountain of fear to the pinnacle where you can see 360 degrees around the entirety of your enormous, amazing life. You will see, will be reminded of all of the times that you were sure you couldn't make it but you did. "Did I do THAT?" OH YES YOU DID!

Maybe you survived abuse and even though the road was paved with challenges you made it through to a place where you could build a productive life (...even if those around you didn't understand, no matter, you did, and you do, and it is working for YOU.) Maybe you gave birth to a child, to more than one, and saw that your body was so strong you could survive that which seemed impossible, and just look what you got for your efforts. Maybe you thought you were unworthy of love and then were absolutely shocked to find that many people around you felt that you were incredibly loveable and wanted to be your friend, your partner, your companion in life. Who, you? Yes, you.

I know you are afraid right now but this will pass, it always does. Now get out your purple crayon (or the implement of your choice) and write your dreams BIG, and make bold statements in great big gigantic letters that start, "By God, I made it through ___________ and I know I can make it through ANYTHING!) (Sometimes all capital letters and exclamation points are necessary to feel that enormous OOMPH that you need to feel that message popping and crackling inside, to see that by gosh and by golly it shocks everyone around you!) But...

But it doesn't shock me because I knew you could do it all along. I may not hold you and let you lean into me because that weakens your ability to know how very strong you are, but know that I am always by your side, that there is a presence that knows all of who you are and what you are capable of and is always right there cheering you on and delighted to watch you move mountains and do the thing you thought you could not do. It is time for you to learn that there is not ANYTHING you cannot do. And oh baby, you will never be afraid (for long) again because you know now that you can do it.

Get out your purple crayon now and write it big and bold and shock the world with your audacity. I am having the time of my life watching you. There is no stopping you now...

From, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook," 
copyright 2012-2013, Maitri Libellule

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Tea Hour, January 15, 2013...

Why it's important to be here for tea even if no one comes...

... because I'm not no one.

... because meditation comes in many forms in a subway or in a teacup on Facebook.

... because I am over the top excited about life and everything that is happening and I get scared too but mostly I am full of hope and joy and taking an hour each day to sit here with tea is peaceful and centering with my little blind pug in my lap and my other pugs around me and my grey parrot Scarlett babbling in the background or singing or just, as animals are, totally present and their existence doesn't depend on whether or not anyone is there with them while they split a seed. They are just there. They are. I am.

I have realized that this tea hour may be the most important time of my day because I sit taking notes about the things that come up over tea and they often change the whole tenor of my day, my week, my life. So that is why I am here. If you come I will be delighted. In either case, I am here, and the tea is good...

The tea of the day is "Brioche" from American Tea Room, one of my favorite tea companies. Click the tea name and read the description and your mouth will water. I swear, the first time I opened up a package of this loose tea I nearly swooned down to the floor! And the tea is right here in the pot you see above, one of the many in my vintage teapot collection.

Do come and have tea with me in my Dragonfly Cottage Studio on Facebook, almost everyday from 4-5. I'd love to pour you a cup! I have to stop now because Penny thinks it's time to put the tea things away and get dinner. No arguing with a tiny blind pug who sits very politely on your lap while you have tea with people all over the world but when 5:00 comes, well, dinnertime is dinnertime!

Blessings and Love, 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

You are so beautiful. I wish you could see what I see...

Last night I was outside under the most amazing night sky, like midnight blue velvet with broken crystals scattered across it. It reminded me of your eyes and how they sparkle. Oh my, you are so beautiful. I wish you could see what I see...

People look at themselves in the mirror and judge themselves far too harshly seeing only imperfections where others around them see something else entirely. When there is beauty inside it shines from within like sunshine streaming across the floor through the window. Light emanates from your very being. When you are full of love, when you allow the table to rise inside of you, let the river flow, you cannot help but flood the world with your light.

Open your heart, open your eyes, let the world see your beauty, but most of all feel it yourself. If you have to close your eyes to feel it, do that first. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all of the moments that you have shown others kindness, perhaps helped an elderly woman by holding the door for her, put out a saucer of milk for a stray kitten, gave a lonely child on a swing, on the playground or at the park, a push or two or three until they were giddy with laughter. Maybe you complimented the weary lady at the checkout in the grocery store just to see the smile come across her work worn face, or adopted a lonely animal from a shelter. Maybe you donated a few dollars to a good cause even when you didn't have a lot to spare. In the end those few dollars given from an open heart matter more than those who can easily write a check for thousands without thinking of it. Oh, there is so much more. And when you take time to remember these things, countless things, hundreds of things, that table will rise and the well will fill from within. Now go back to the mirror and look at yourself again. Do you see what incredible beauty is reflected back from that shimmering glass. Oh my, just revel in that radiance!

Last night as I stood out under the stars I knew that you were a star in the firmament of the sky that shelters more people than you will ever know. Your presence here is important, it matters, you would not be here otherwise. Please know that. I will feel tremendous joy simply sitting here and watching you sparkle, so much beauty I have never known...

From, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook," 
copyright 2012-2013, Maitri Libellule

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"You are magic, you are love, you are so much more than you know..."

 Oh my blessed, beloved, beautiful souls... 

Last night I saw you in my dreams. I saw the infinite magic each of you possess and what I want most in the world is to sit on your shoulder like a tiny angel and whisper in your ear, "You are magic, you are love, you are so much more than you know. Whatever dream you are holding in your heart, don't let it die there, let it out into the world." 

I feel the vibrations around the energy of those dreams. You feel them too but you believe that it is fear, something holding you back because it isn't right, not time, maybe never will be, you are not worthy you think, it is not possible for you. Oh my love, if you only knew. 

 I am the angel that sits on your shoulder. Close your eyes, breathe in and out, slowly, gently, relax your entire body from the tip of your toes to the top of your head, relax, relax, let your mind go blank and be still... now, do you feel a soft pressure, ever so slight, on your shoulder? That is me, I am your guardian angel, I am always with you, you are never alone. Next time you feel that fluttery feeling in your stomach, feel your body tense, know that that is energy building up inside of you that can send you to the stars, to the moon, over the rainbow. 

 I am your guardian angel. I am always with you, never lose faith. Do you feel that feeling in the pit of your stomach again? Rev your engine, get ready, it's time to soar! 

 Believe me my beloved, it is so. Let nothing hold you back...

From, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook,"
copyright 2012-2013, Maitri Libellule

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Every Day From 4-5 Tea Time With Maitri Live on Facebook!

Come Join Us!

Until the doors of Dragonfly Cottage Community For Women opens up I'll be in my Facebook studio page having tea with folks and chatting! Click the mug above!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tonight I need to tell you that everything is possible...

 Tonight I need to tell you that everything is possible.

Tonight I need to tell you that there is nothing that can hold you back. No Thing.

Tonight I need to tell you that everything you are afraid of is just like the monster under the bed when you were a little child, truly scary, but not real.

Tonight I need to tell you that you can grow big enough to shine a light into all the dark scary corners of your life and see them for what they really are, perhaps obstacles to overcome, but not the giant boulders in the road that you have imagined will stop you for all time. Tonight I want you to imagine those boulders and watch them turn into dust bunnies like the ones under your bed with the monsters. No matter how big they are -- POOF -- you can blow them away. Do that, do that now, close your eyes, imagine the biggest, scariest, darkest, most frightening thing that is holding you back in your life, see it there before you, seemingly solid, and then watch it turn into tiny, miniscule particles. It is not solid, it cannot stop you, take a deep breath -- POOF -- blow it away.

Tonight I need you to know that everything you are thinking and feeling about how this might be true for other people but that YOUR problems really are insurmountable, that no one really understands, that that boulder really is bigger than the grand canyon and just as solid and immovable, I want you to know that that is not true. Tonight I want you to know that you can move mountains, that it has been in you all along, hidden behind a wall that was built brick by brick, since you were a child, by all of those around you who told you that you were less than, that you were wrong, that you couldn't possibly _________, that you would never be able to.... and I want you to know that every single thing that those people told you came from the fear they held inside themselves. I want you to see, to feel that wall crumbling. You CAN do it, you can do ALL of it, any of it, you are so much stronger than you ever knew.

Tonight I want you to write down ten things that you have held inside of you since you were a little child, things you longed for, dreamed about, but didn't dare to imagine were possible, no matter how large or small they might seem, and I want you -- even if you have to make it up and feel like what you are saying is outrageous and impossible -- I want you to write after each one of these ten things, "Oh it feels so good that I can finally have, do, or be every single one of those ten things. No "impossible," only "I'm possible."

Tonight I needed you to feel this, to know this, to gather all of this to your heart. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and tomorrow begin to see each and every thing on that list come true, or come true in a way that delights you and lights you up today. And every time a big scary monster starts growling under your bed, every time a gigantic boulder (whatever form that might take in your life) rolls into the road in front of you to stop you, see it as what it is, something made up of tiny particles that can be blown away.

Let's do it now. Imagine the biggest obstacle you think that you have in your life right now. Now close your eyes and imagine it breaking down into a million tiny particles. Take a deep breath and Bllllooooooooowwwwwwww it away. POOF! Now remember that. Every single thing that seems to come between you and your dreams, everything that holds you back, that makes your heart hurt, that frightens you, it is all a million particles suspended in the air and it doesn't have a chance against one big, brave, burst of air that starts way down deep inside of you and EXPLODES out of you up into the air like a giant helium balloon released into the sky.

Are you ready? See that thing that holds you back. Close your eyes. Watch it, behind your closed eyelids, disintegrate into a billion pieces so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye, and then blow with everything you have in you.

No more monsters under the bed.

No more boulders holding you back.

Nothing you can't handle. I promise.

I just needed to tell you that tonight...

From, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook,"
copyright 2012-2013, Maitri Libellule

Sunday, January 6, 2013

And what about the days when there is no energy to spare, what then?

I do the best I've can with what I have from where I am...

Dear Ones,

I was reminded today of the beautiful song that moves me so deeply, the one Bette Midler sang, "The Rose."

"... Just remember, in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow,
lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring, 
becomes, the rose..."

And Camus, from his powerful book The Stranger, one of the quotes I have held on to for decades as it has so much meaning for me and is a reminder of what more than one of my therapists has told me over many years when they said, "You're so much stronger than you know." Camus wrote...

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

And so on these days when my spirit flags and the road ahead looks long, and I can see no end of what is a winter of the soul I go outside in the garden where the stalks of the once beautiful cottage garden are bent and drying and brown and I gather the seeds who, with the sun's love, will be hundreds, thousands of flowers, tremendous glory all through the summer and the fall, a flood of color that is breath-taking, and I collect the seeds and close my eyes and, as in The Wizard of Oz, my black and white world comes to life, in full blown technicolor, just where I am, in this moment.

And so what am I doing now? Self care. I said it yesterday, this is a time when self care is one of the most important things that I can do because one of the greatest needs that I have, one of the most important things that I need to learn, is how to re-enter my body. After a childhood of sexual abuse from four to eighteen, and for several years at the hands of two men, I, like so many abused women, exited my body. I not only gained a lot of weight but I have often been injured and sometimes badly. I fell down a flight of stairs and shattered both feet some years ago and couldn't walk for a year, and that was only one among many breaks, sprains, falls, surgeries, and more. The thing is, like so many survivors, the way that I survived led me to a life that I can best describe, as I think about it metaphorically, as my spirit flying ahead with my body bumping along on the ground behind me. 

How do you get to nearly 350 pounds, or for many even more? It is unimaginable to people. But if you have survived so much pain that parts of you have shut down, you don't notice. I know people think, "How could you possibly not notice gaining 200 pounds?" Well, if you don't know there's really no way I can explain it to you. The fat, the padding on my body, has been a safety mechanism, although I never really thought about it in so many words. When your body is unbalanced and your spirit has gone into hiding, and you become a head without a body, thinking, dreaming, but not really doing, and you shrink further and further away from the outside world, you kind of disappear. When I've looked at myself in the mirror I didn't see an overweight woman, well, yes, overweight, but not OVERWEIGHT. And then I see a photograph -- and believe me I don't allow many of those, and isn't that sad, because when recording life with your children and grandchildren is lost you become the ghost in the family, the one people remember but can't quite picture in their minds. I don't want to be a ghost. Oh God help me I really don't want to be a ghost.

And so I'm learning. As I sit here typing this my feet are in an electric foot bath, humming along and vibrating, the water pretty hot with my favorite foot bath powder mixed in. I use this when I'm not just using Epsom salts, Dr. Singh's Mustard Bath, soothing my feet and perfuming the air around me with an earthy fragrant smell, not perfumey or sweet, that my body is kind of sinking into the chair going, "Ahhhhh...." It is detoxifying, soothing, and so fragrant your whole body relaxes. I am having another "foot episode." Having had serious surgeries, breaks, and whatnots as I mentioned above, 2 years in a row I (Pardon me, I know this is gross..) have slammed my toe so badly that I've lost the toenail, broke the toe, and really made a mess of things. This was a bad one. So I am taking care of my feet and loving them and sending them healing energy. It is amazing what these detox footbaths do. You can also use it in the bath tub but I cannot bathe in a tub, another gift of my childhood and common for so many women who have gone through these things, but the feet, when cared for, detoxify the whole body. So I type this to you with my feet soaking and the air redolent with organic mustard powder, and essential oils of rosemary, eucalyptus, wintergreen and thyme. And the combination of aromatherapy and the gift to the feet I am trying to move back into are really helping me integrate body, mind, and spirit.

When there is little energy to spare we look for the little things that we can do, we look for the silver lining, we soak our feet, or make a comforting nutritious meal, and make a cup of tea. I once wrote a book about the spiritual art of tea, and then have longsince gotten away from drinking tea at all. It was coffee in the morning, a huge strong latte, and a glass of wine in the evening, and not every evening. I have never been interested in drinking as a recreational hobby. Now, another gift of the diagnosis I recently received is that I am not drinking alcohol of any kind and I have turned back to my tea ritual and I had forgotten how much more there is to tea than just a cup of tea. Tea is a state of mind, and in this state of mind I realized it was time to revise the tea book, while sipping tea, and publish it in the next year. Yes, so many gifts in this challenging time. Tonight it is lemon ginger green tea, and the ginger has sparked my senses and made me come back to life. It is almost 9 p.m., my feet are wrinkled like prunes, the pugs are jumping up and down because it is past their treats and meds and getting ready for bed time but I committed to writing every day and by gosh and by golly I'm going to. I'm not sure how much I'm helping anyone else by these daily posts, but what is happening for me is rather amazing and I'm so happy to be doing this. 

I wanted to speak about my body and life as an oak tree, and more about the Dragonfly Cottage community that I am dreaming of, and not just dreaming of, creating, but it is time to publish this post and tend to the little ones here. 

No, there has not been much energy to spare, but it has been a good day, a gentle, slow day, and it has been a gift. Be gentle with yourself, very gentle, and know that when I send you love it is genuine and from my heart, and I do, more than you can imagine, I really do...

Good night dear ones, may the night before you yield fruitful dreams that will fill tomorrow with gifts beyond imagine.

Blessings, Love, and Joy... it is possible, it is...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Gift Of A Scary Diagnosis and Committing To Self-Care in 2013...

I'm all I've got... 

Dear Ones,

I have struggled with my weight for years and like so many other things that I haven't dealt with that was one of them and it was getting worse. Oddly, despite the weight my physicals have shown me to be amazingly healthy in other ways but things will catch up with you sooner or later and I will be 59 in April. This was the year it caught up with me. 

At my yearly physical the beginning of December the words that I had never wanted to hear (And of course chose to believe I never would...) "You are tipping into diabetes," changed my life in an instant. I came home with a blood sugar monitor, 2 kinds of medication, and cried for days. I weighed 342 pounds and if you think that's easy for me to write here you should see the near terror on my face as I do so. I do it because my work in this life is to help other women, and I am going to share my journey. This isn't going to become a weight loss weigh-in blog, f.y.i., simply one in which as I blossom in all the ways that I am meant to, my physical/mental/emotional/spiritual self will come into balance in a way they never have before. In these few weeks every area of my life has been affected in positive and yes, even beautiful ways.

Today, less than 3 weeks later, I weigh 327 pounds, I am on a new diet (I don't like that word, because it is really a life-style change that will last the rest of my life) and have had no sugar, or carbs, in three+ weeks and feel better than I ever have in my life. If I look at all the weight I have to lose I become so paralyzed and overwhelmed I can barely breathe, but I am not doing that. Each pound lost is a celebration. Each day I have more clarity of vision, both inside and out and into the distance with my long dreamed of life coming more clearly into view by the day. I will reach 60 at my perfect weight. I have serious work to do in this life and it's about damned time I get serious about myself so I can do it. I'm all I've got, and I am more than worth it. We all are. This is my year, in every way possible it is a whole new life. I wrote yesterday, "If not, why not, if not now, when?" and it couldn't be any more apt than starting with my physical health. There is no other choice. When is now.

This is such a beautiful time of life, every moment is an awakening. As I sit here now with my tiny blind pug in my lap, my boys sleeping around me with their soft puggy snores I feel an overflowing river of love and gratitude running through my life and it is a solemn oath that I make to myself in these early days of the new year -- This year I open my self to love, and it starts with me, here, now, in this very moment, body and soul.  The time has come, and it is the perfect time...

Friday, January 4, 2013

How To Best Use Your Energy To Make Your Dreams Come True...

Making collages helps me have fun while dreaming my way
into the work I have long longed to do. Click  for larger image.

Dear Ones,

This is the year all of my dreams are coming true. I have not only decided that, I am not only dreaming that, I  have begun to have evidence of it and it is thrilling to think that at 58 you can finally realize all that you have held inside of you for so long. I want to share with you some of what I am doing to help me along the way because one of my biggest goals is to encourage other women to follow their dreams and see them into reality as well. It is possible, and as the saying goes, "If not, why not? If not now, when?" But it doesn't happen by itself, and one of my biggest problems is that I have for most of my life lived in the creative realm and not only not managed money wisely but didn't understand how to, and even when I created things that people were interested in buying I couldn't seem to get it together to line up the business side with the creative side. The right side of the brain and the left side of the brain never seemed to be on speaking terms.

One of the amazing things in blogging only 3 days in a row with this challenge is that it has my synapses firing like a fourth of July fireworks display. I have been drawing and sketching and planning and sent notes about what I want to work on to my Business Coach, Judith Geiger, for our meeting in a week and a half, and I am getting more and more excited. Too, I am using tools that are helping me develop the business management and money skills that have been lacking pretty much my whole life. I have Leonie Dawson to thank for that as I started with her business course a year ago which really kicked things off, and I am about to take it again. I swear, if you are interested in seeing your heart-dreams/passions into a reality business wise I highly recommend the course. I am not the only one who has been totally amazed by the amount of information that Leonie has given in detail about how she created her business, but the fact that before 30 years of age this former self-proclaimed "Numbers Phobic Hippy" has created a half million dollar business and growing bigger all the time from her passion and talent for art, a creative and spiritual life, and now as a woman who coaches other women all over the world. If you are interested DO take this course. It's not expensive but could help you find the abundance and life you never thought possible. It is helping me and I am almost in tears realizing that things are lining up for this to happen as I approach my 59th birthday. You can find out more by clicking the graphic below. The course will soon begin again and I can't wait to jump into it and immerse myself while I build my dream-work.

Too, she has created amazing workbook planners for your personal life that have changed thousands of women's lives all over the world while having a lot of fun doing it. I had them printed and bound last year at the office supply store so I could carry them around but they come in fabulous PDF's that download instantly to your computer. I already have mine. I've put the link to these in my sidebar here on the blog because I believe in it so strongly and if I can't have fun in a creative way trying to do this I know I won't stick with it. Leonie, again, has made this possible. I never put other people's work here but this was something I just had to share. That says a lot given that I have not made a practice of doing this in the nearly 7 years this blog has been running.

I will also be working with the amazing Hiro Boga starting at the end of January and I could not be more excited. You can read about her by clicking on her name. She is a "business strategist, transformational teacher & energy alchemist" and has helped people from all over the world create miracles in their lives. The one thing that I have learned in this past year is that if you are going to get serious about realizing your dreams instead of just having them you have to find the resources and teachers to help you learn what you need to know. I never realized how important this was or that it was even an option. It's more than an option  to me now, it's a necessity.

I want to succeed., but I want also to help other women, as I've said, because our lives are precious and they go by far too quickly. If you can live a life where each day you get up excited and energized by knowing that you are doing what you need to do to make that happen, it will turn your whole life around. 

I know I might seem a little over the top but truly, when you are nearing sixty years old, a time when most people think it't too late to come alive in whole new ways and let those old dreams out of the box and into the world, and then you find yourself in the middle of doing it., well, it's something you want to share, at least I felt I had to. 

Know that I am wishing for each of you a happy, healthy, prosperous new year. I hope that you will write to me and tell me that you, too, are moving forward with all of the many gifts you hold inside, because they are there,. and I see that bright light shining forth from your eyes, the seat of the soul. It's our time, it's time to blossom, and I'm ready.

Warm regards and deepest blessings to all...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Return Of Dragonfly Cottage Community For Women...

Dear Ones,

Oh, what a time it's been. I have been thinking, since starting this daily posting challenge yesterday, whose theme for the month is energy, how apt it is for me at this time. I made a note in my sketchbook last night as I was drawing and writing...

"Energy Multiplies When We Are Following Our Heart's Passion and Desire and Making It Our Life's Work..."

I did not know, in the autumn of 1999, six months after the separation from a 25 year marriage, feeling lost and alone, that when I created a website named after my little home, Dragonfly Cottage, that I would be changing my life forever. I started the website as a gentle community for women, who, like me, for the most part, found themselves at midlife lost and alone and afraid. It wasn't a dating site or sexual in nature and I guarded firmly against that. I wanted to create a safe haven where such things were not an issue, where your heart could be safely opened and you could find sustenance in a community of other women who, like you, needed a home, a family, albeit in cyber space. I was way ahead of the curve at that point being chided and even criticized by those who thought my "Living online and not in the real world...." was unhealthy.  Today virtual communities, tight knit communities, are all over the internet and we realize now that virtual or not for some women, for a great many women, for me, the only place I could feel safe, finding friends and like-minded people, existed in a world that was still at the time very new and foreign to me ~ on the internet.

This little community was meant to be a place where women would feel supported and safe and where they would not be judged. The online Dragonfly Cottage was an extension of my heart and home and in my mind I was welcoming women into my kitchen to sit at the table over tea and talk. It was very intimate even when our numbers grew to 1500 members, more than 15 Yahoo mailing lists, and so much mail in my inbox every morning I would, some days, lay my head down on my desk in tears. I finally, after several years, was graced with first one and then two and finally three women who would be moderators and help with the work of running the cottage and I could not have done it without them, but it was still my kitchen table, and the cottage was growing crowded. 

I realized later, after working sometimes round the clock to maintain a community that was free to everyone, that I was being drained, I wanted so badly to help other women, and I still do, but I need to be supported financially as well as offer a home to others. Money for services is an exchange of energy, and I give 150% when I am doing something I love. And I loved that community and those women more than I can say, and there will never be anything like it, but now I am ready to open the cottage doors to all women. Gay, straight, black, white, red, yellow, all the colors of the rainbow, any spiritual path or none. And I have always maintained very firm boundaries and rules in a community that I create because loving-kindness, peace, and gentleness are key to me. Non-judgment, open-hearted sharing, and a community that offers support to all women in a way that is not, I think, found elsewhere, not exactly in this way.

There are a great many wonderful communities for women available now and I am a member of some of them. I think the difference between these beautiful communities that I so love, that so enrich my life, and Dragonfly Cottage as a community for women is that this community is not centered in a specific topical form save being a home, a warm cozy place before the fire, or in the garden, or rocking in a chair while knitting and sipping tea with the woman next to you. It is a cottage of many rooms and different women with different interests may be found in any of them, or may drift back and forth as suits them at any particular time, but unlike some of the large forums online now where one might not always feel safe, or even known, so easily lost in the masses of people, you will be able to meet and commune with others who are like-minded and yet multi-faceted. We bring to the table what we have to offer and we share all that appears on the table. A gathering of hearts and souls.

 This is my home, my life, my world, and I am ready now to settle into the role that I believe I was created for, to be the gentle woman, mother, grandmother, crone, who sits with other elders and talks about our life past the meridian of midlife. Women of all ages are welcome, to be sure, but this is a world where those who have not had a place in society that was esteemed and honored can take their place beside other women who come together to share their knowledge. A council of sages, women of heart helping one another. I have always shared my basic philosophy, "Each one, reach one, and love, always love." And so it is here in the cozy little corner of the vast cosmos known as the internet. Come in from the cold. Welcome to Dragonfly Cottage.

Energy, coming back to energy... What I have realized in reviewing all of the aspects of what the old cottage was as opposed to what I want to create today was that while all members had to be approved, and there were rules in place that would send someone gently out the door if they could not maintain an aspect of` loving-kindness and gentleness toward others, was that there was no cap on the numbers of people and it grew way too big too quickly and not only became too much work for me but the quality of what I was trying to create, and had for a very long time, shifted in a way that was no longer comfortable when there were simply too many women to give full attention and love and ample space to sit and be. That will be one of the primary changes of the new cottage. It will be by membership only and the number will be limited. I want to be available to the women in my community, not get something going and then -- Poof -- disappear behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz. You knew he was there but safely hidden from view. We all close the doors and go home at night, but I believe that there must be warm close contact to continue to nurture and build a community, hence I will charge a membership fee and be present to my members. I will have other work and take private students who want to do "Deep Listening Soul Guidance" sessions with me, and I will have books for sale, and eBooks for sale to the world at large that will be free for those paying members of the community, as well as courses to take should you want to sign up for one, and rooms where, like with an old fashioned quilting bee, women simply gather to talk and be. We are more alike than we are different, but our differences add color and flavor and texture. It will be a tasty stew.

I am currently building the new cottage, designing the many rooms, painting them bright cheery colors and making them cozy. The pugs and parrots will be here of course, and perhaps you would like to take tea with me in the garden. I can send you home with an armful of roses and seeds from the hollyhocks, perhaps a few cuttings to root and a warm hug as you take your leave and head to your own home. I will leave a light in the window for those who come to commune from anywhere in the world when the pugs and I are nestled in our bed fast asleep. There will be rooms that are always open.

And so now I take my leave as sleepy pugs wander around and tug at the hem of my flowing dress, and I will pull the shawl around my shoulders and take them out into the night for a walk under the stars, and we will come in for our cozy evening before the fire and, with a light glowing over my shoulder, I will read and write and sketch and dream and plan for the re-opening of the place I loved so well. I am a nurturer, and this is what I was meant to do and be.

Tomorrow I will tell you about my life as an oak tree, and what I am learning from another beautiful soul whose community I am new to but who is nurturing and guiding me in a way I have long needed and dreamed of. There is room for many, many women's communities, and we may visit one another from time to time. I will make up the guest room and welcome those who want to come for even a short visit and we will have a grand time.

Warm Regards & Deepest Blessings to All... 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Challenging Myself: Joining NaBloPoMo ~ Committing to Writing A Post A Day For January...

"Finally, if you want to write, you have to just shut up, pick up a pen, and do it. I'm sorry there are no true excuses. This is our life. Step forward. Maybe it's only for ten minutes. That's okay. To write feels better than all the excuses." 

~o~ Natalie Goldberg ~o~

Dear Ones,

I have spent a lot of time these last months trying to figure out a way to keep up with my blog and do my other work, as if somehow my blog wasn't central to my work. And then I went back to the BlogHer network which I hadn't been involved with for years but I knew the time was right, needing to be involved with women's communities and to get back to a daily writing practice which, although it seems that I am always writing, and I am, the practice, this practice, if only for ten minutes, will be central to my day and my life and achieving the goals that I have set for myself in 2013, and this year it is more important than ever. 

I will be 59 on April 30 and this year I will publish a book, build a community of women to support one another who are past the meridian of midlife (Younger will be welcome, and bring energy, and perhaps be mentored by the loving and gentle advice of the sages and the crones who are the main focus of the community), I will begin to take private students to shepherd them on their journey through a time in their lives when they need to fall in love with themselves and who they fully are so that they can build a life that meets their needs and brings them a kind of peace they have never found before. These sessions are "Deep Listening Soul Guidance" sessions, and my book, "The Deep Listening Soul Guidebook" will be out by my 59th birthday. Too, I will be writing monthly eBooks and concentrating on making my newsletter a more enlivening resource for my readers, wanting to enrich their lives, bring them free resources, love, and I hope, become a touchstone for them in their lives. I have been trying to do this for months and not succeeding as I'd planned.

This month's challenge with "NaBloPoMo" (National Blog Posting Month) is for bloggers who want to take up the gauntlet and commit to writing a post a day. Previous this would have sent a chill down my spine because I felt so overwhelmed on a daily basis that sometimes taking care of the 9 animals and doing what work I could was a challenge I had trouble meeting. The last six months I have not only changed a lot due in large part to having begun working with teachers and mentors which I will continue to do, including business coaching these next months, but I am also finding that it is true what my mother always said, "If you want to get a job done, give it to a busy person." What I am finding is that being busier in a more organized way, with self care also a priority so that I don't mean that I am burning the midnight oil, but spending time over coffee planning my day and my tasks and working through them in an orderly fashion, is helping me accomplish more than I ever have. I am early on in this process but amazed by the results I've had so far. A daily post here will be a part of this and I can already see and feel what a good thing it will be to add to my roster of tasks that shape my day and help me collect my thoughts and move forward with my work.

So here I am, on January 2, beginning a month of daily posting. I can't yet imagine what the experience will be and mean in my life, but I know it will have to be good food for my soul's growth and the support that I need in 2013. This month's theme is "Energy" and it is just that, more than anything, that I need to learn to balance in my own life in both a healthy and productive way. The timing could not be more perfect.

The quote at the top of this page is very special to me. I studied with Natalie Goldberg early on in her national teaching days, the first time in 1986 not long after her now famous Writing Down The Bones appeared on the scene, and then again less than a year later for a week in Taos, New Mexico. Also, as a 30 year teacher of the journal writing process I am shocked at how I have fallen away from what I taught for so long and it has created a tremendous hole in the tapestry of my life and being that has left me not as balanced as I need to be. So here I am and here I shall be perhaps long after NaBloPoMo, because I need to be, and I hope, in the process, I can encourage you to write, for yourself, in whatever way works for you in your daily life, because it does make a difference. I ask myself the old question, "If not now, when?" Well this year is the "when." It's about time.

I wish you well on your journey as I set off with my napsack filled with books, notebooks, and pens (not to mention a laptop computer!) in mine. Onwards and Upwards, and Tally Ho!