New Year’s Revolution


I would like to say, I will write more in the new year and keep this blog up to date with monthly postings.  Perhaps I will AND no resolutions – no more forcing myself or feeling guilty when I don’t.  I have been writing for myself during this grief process and it seems such a private, precious journey – not ready for the exposure.  In grief, even friends can feel like the paparazzi – much less putting something online.  –as if 100’s of people are reading this blog:)

Alas, the revolution – it is not about perfection.  It is about change – so the change is in showing up like the moon, when full and when a sliver.  Even the moon takes a three day rest once a month.  So I stayed in during the holy nights and worked with dreams and images and now the new year is here and I feel optimistic; not an outgoing optimism, a calm inward knowing that all is well.

So here is a poem that came some time during the latter part of 2010 while preparing for the spiraling in of winter for new awareness, new light, new beingness.

A Believer

I want to be passionate

As if I had an internal engine

of  love and inspiration

motivating me

making me a believer

in myself

and in the goodness

of showing up in the world

As I give, I receive

Make me, make me

a believer.

Sweet Darkness


I have been writing and deleting this post for months.  In the middle of this summer, my dear friend, Flo; my inspiration for “Go with the Flo”, the one I often quote saying, “I will not should on myself today” was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Flo has been my mentor and spiritual mother for more than twenty years. We spent some months together ministering to the physical and honoring the spiritual connection.  

She is like air to me – always there so I forget how much I need her – I sink into her lap, like the great green of Ireland, she welcomes and empowers me”.

On my birthday in August my friend and colleague, Woody Winfree, created a birthday ritual to honor my 56th year, a celebration of 7 sets of 7.  We honored what lives and weaves between friends – the invisible heart connections that continue beyond death. Though Flo was in Hospice her presence was felt and she continues to be a part of my life in new and subtle ways.  She passed away on September 6th, 2010.  And today, this hallowed eve, when the veil between the two worlds is said to be thinnest, I find the courage to write and send these words of love. 

I wrote the following with the “Soul Stories” circle and David Whyte’s poem, Sweet Darkness and the night sky for inspiration.  The people in the circle encouraged me to post it – thank you, Marilyn, MaryAnne, and Nancy.

Sometimes it takes the moon in the night sky to remind me

I am held by something larger

I have room to breathe, room to grow

room to be more than whom I take myself to be

Tonight the moon and venus are in relationship, in conversation

“Look someone is noticing us, talking about us

Look someone knows the world is bigger than she’s been told

big enough to hold the joy and the sorrow

big enough for a dissident daughter.

See how we minister with the dark cloth of night.”

Finally, words that Flo loved from John O’Donohue’s, Beannacht, “and so may a slow wind work these words of love around you an invisible cloak to mind your life.”   Blessings

A Sacred Journey

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Our Summer Writing Retreat happened under a tin roof pavilion, home to a labyrinth.   As the rain hammered above we were surrounded in the wet greenness.  These were the words evoked and offered by the gathered participants:  viriditas, journey, sacred, sorrow, clarity, rolling wonder, connection, stillness, magical playmates, community, freedom, peace, and gratitude.  As I often do, I used the words in a piece of free verse writing.

On a sacred journey,

you may bring your sorrow

Pack it in your suitcase

When you arrive, unpack your bag

in a new place

of cloud and rain and rolling wonder

Watch from your wet window

as viriditas opens

in vibrant greenness

of leaf and bud

and grassy spiral path

Sense your connection in the stillness

Hear the voice of magical playmates

calling you to community

Walk out in freedom

You will find peace

and gratitude

as sorrow breaks open to clarity

you find your way through.

Magical Playmates

After walking the labyrinth and writing, artist, Lynne Harter, created an artistic response of thanks to the place.   Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, she used natural materials found on the site.  Other participants also found there own artistic expression in the place.  Thanks to St. Francis in the Field Church  for creating and maintaining this inspiring place.  In October, we will gather there again for walking, writing and artistic response.

Artist, Lynne Harter

 

Bobby McFerrin Magic


I once experienced Bobby McFerrin live in concert.  He performed with a group of ten men and women who each used their voice as an instrument in the orchestra.  All the music was improvised in the moment.  The concert started with a single spotlight on Bobby as patted his heart making a tone reverberate in his chest.  It was a wondrous experience to watch someone using their whole body (literally and figuratively) to make music and to inspire.

In the video on ted.com, Bobby McFerrin uses the pentatonic scale to demonstrate musically how we anticipate or create expectations.  In my words, it might be how we co-create with the music that sings in all of us.  As the scientists look on, he demonstrates with childlike simplicity the magic in imagination.

The pentatonic scale is made up of five tones or notes, the prefix ‘penta’ is a Latin term for five: i.e. pentagram, Pentagon, pentagonal – tonic to the word ‘tone’.   The fives notes, A B D E G,  go very well together.  You can just play around and never hit anything inordinately dissonant, unlike a piano which is made up of octaves.  It is believed to be very ancient and is still found all over the world, in Celtic music, West African music, African-American spirituals, children’s songs (particularly in Waldorf Early Childhood) American folk music, and many others including the Great Highland Bagpipe.

For a writing exercise, watch Bobby McFerrin as you would a “flower, stone or a bird”.  Then write a few word associations and begin writing stream of consciousness.  I will do it too and will post mine and responses you would like to send to me. 

You can go to http://www.pbs.org/parents/creativity/ideas/pentatonic.html to actually play music (an electronic version) on a pentatonic scale.

A Woman Standing in Her Power

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At this moment, women are being asked to stand in their power. Not to stand against something, not even to stand for something, but to stand in the energy of the Divine Feminine, an alignment where the polarity of for and against comes to rest.   Lucia Rene’

In the writing circles, Inventing the Rest of Our Lives and Art and Soul, we practiced standing on the earth in this way and then wrote about the experience.  Below is the piece that came from this exercise for me – I was surprised by the reference to the goddess, Kali.  I had just learned of her from my Vermont yoga teacher, Lydia Russell.  She inspired us all after her recent study with Douglas Brooks. 

A Woman Standing on the Earth

I am connected

to the source of power

to the molten fire that flows

at the center of the earth

 

Tumbling rolling

Calmly, slowly,

continuing regardless

of what happens on the surface

 

I feel the coolness of the breeze

even a slap to the face

still, I am unbruised,

unchanged at this fiery core

 

Here is the source of equanimity

ever present, always stable

Here is the goddess Kali

eating whatever happens

 

teaching me to take it all in

nourishing this fire

this source of power

here, where I stand

So try it – stand with both feet on the ground, knees slightly bent, take several deep breaths and just be there for a while – consciously connecting with energy of the Divine Feminine.  Then take some time to write – stream of consciousness – about what comes.  Let it flow, no erasing or scratching out as you go – you can edit it later if you like.  Email me with your results, or post on the comments….

Poetic Living

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Lately, I have been intrigued by an idea of living poetically.  I want to live in the spaciousness created by poetry.  Much like a good soundtrack enhances a film, poetry enhances living.  Poetry like music helps me to enter more fully into life and to feel its magic.  In this expansion, the senses are heightened and I find freedom to see myself anew without the old labels and stale thinking that could easily propagate in my mind and my words.  Poet, David Whyte actually says we reach a point where we grow tired of ourselves, tired of hearing ourselves say what we always say. 

Maybe here, we begin to hear ourselves using old words in new ways – we hear sensibility as “sense ability”, responsibility as response ability and freedom as a place like a kingdom.    The poetry of David Whyte and Mary Oliver has inspired us in the writing circles.     We found freedom again in Mary Oliver’s famous poem, Wild Geese, which begins with the line, “You do not have to be good…” This permission to be and to create without passing judgment on ourselves must be a guiding principle of living poetically thus allowing the freedom to explore and to respond to what life offers to us in nature, family and neighbors.  Later in the same poem, she says, “the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over announcing your place in the family of things”.  We each have a place – a place to be and a place to take action.

With poetry, I want to gain a sense of rhythm for when to speak and when to be silent.  I want to find that  space between the notes, between the words.   I want to know I have a  place to stand and a place to rest.  I want to live in that spacious place called freedom.  I want to respond to life with my senses open to the poetry of living in the moment.

Our mini writing retreat later this month is called Poetic Living:Exploring the Beauty, Rhythm, and Spirit of Your Life.  Sunday afternoon April 25.  Click here to register or go to Events and Calendar for details.

 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good. You
do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the
desert repenting. You only have to let
the soft animal of your body love what
it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and
I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world
goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear
pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the
clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh
and exciting— over and over announcing
your place in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver

Let the Inner Girl Play

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I was taught to NOT “throw like a girl”, my dad taking time to teach me a little about baseball which I played in the neighborhood vacant lot. Trouble is, I am a girl and so, with curiosity I tolerated the label of tomboy – I got to enjoy being physical and outdoors in a game led by children AND on a subtle level, this liveliness was viewed as not inherent to my girlhood.

What else did I throw away when I tossed out girlhood? Well, I wanted to toss out “sugar and spice and everything nice”! I wanted to be real and express an opinion, to be smart and to throw a mean overhand pitch. I wanted to feel the freedom and exhilaration of my youthfulness. According to Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues, we all have an inner girl who has plenty to offer to our voices and our lives.

My disconnection was on a very subtle level compared to the brutality and loss still happening to girls around the globe. In a recent talk, available at ted.com, Eve Ensler speaks to the loss of the inner girl and how to reclaim her emotion, liveliness and heart! The qualities of the inner girl are needed by both men and women in order to show up on the page and more importantly to show up in the world as people of conscience, heart, and action.

This is the link – It is well worth viewing – maybe daily till we get the message. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eve_ensler_embrace_your_inner_girl.html

You will be inspired!

The Charter for Compassion

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There are a few modern women authors who have been such a part of my spiritual/emotional maturing process that I feel they are friends.  Of course I might be a bit starstruck if they actually did show up at my kitchen table. They are a diverse group with very different voices and still a similar message of love, forgiveness and feminine wisdom.  Included are Sue Monk Kidd, Marianne Williamson,  Linda Schierse Leonard and Karen Armstrong

 

A few mornings ago, Karen Armstrong did show up.  I’m not sure how it started.  My husband and I did a search for something on the internet and found her speaking on one of my favorite websites, ted.com. (Technology, Entertainment and Design: ideas worth sharing).   She was speaking about the golden rule and her recent award by TED to create a charter for compassion. 

 

Carrie and I quoted Karen’s research on compassion in the last chapter of our book. So I was especially curious as to what she is up to now.  She is an amazing woman with an English accent that sounds like my friend, Kate  doing an impression of a member of British royalty.   She is one of those ordinary women accomplishing extraordinary things, a real inspiration. 

 

Here is the link to hear Karen Armstrong on ted.com http://www.ted.com/talks/karen_armstrong_makes_her_ted_prize_wish_the_charter_for_compassion.html

 

Then you can join me and Eve Ensler, Melissa Ethridge and His Holiness the Dalai Lama and sign the Charter for Compassion at the following link.  http://charterforcompassion.org/

When Cowgirls Grow Up

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Intrigued by a comment by Sue Monk Kidd, in which she said she had always wanted to be a writer.  I wondered what affect it had on a life to always know and wondered what had been inspiring me.

To begin, I wrote down the two careers I could recall expressing an interest in as a child and made a list of associated words (cowgirl- boots, lasso….etc).  I then just began writing and incorporated the words with freedom.  I later changed it to third person and liked how this created a feeling for my life as a co-creation not something I alone made happen.   The following is the result of the writing exercise:

Unlike Sue Monk Kidd, as a little girl, Sharon Elliott never dreamed of being a writer.  At five, she wanted to be a cowgirl with boots, lasso and a horse.  Around eight years old she remembers asking for a nurse’s outfit for Christmas and played nurse with the doctor’s kit, stethoscope, plastic syringe, and tiny candy pills.  Later, as an adolescent in the late sixties, she says, “I don’t recall wanting to be anything other than, out of this town and out in the world with some freedom.”

Continue reading

Soul and Authentic Voice

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“Each person, when they share their own thoughts, their own way of experiencing, their own voice, offers a way in for others or a light along the way.  As each person adds their own spark of life this enlivens the way (takes it out of rules and regulations and makes it accessible and vibrant). This can broaden the way – making it possible for more people to find their way to spirit, God, awakening…”  This thought came to me this morning in moving meditation something called eurhythmy that I do most mornings to help me to center and begin to create the space to work/play.  Of course as they often are, these thoughts were hard to pin down.  I tried to keep them fluid and flowing AND to give them a place on the page.

When I am caught up in doing it right – I freeze.  I find in the writing circles Continue reading