Monday, December 23, 2013

What child is this?

Children are full of joy, giggles and holy presence. As we say, what is Christmas without children? They may not know the stories, have life experience but they certainly know the feeling.

My two grands, four and two arranged the manger scene on the mantel last night.* They've never been to Sunday school, are not taught religion and yet the figurines were handled with excitement, great care and feeling. The donkey lost an ear, the Babe bounced from the mantle to the floor twice but both proved to be hardy. The children did not care, their eyes glowed as the two wise men and one wise women, the Mon and Dad took their place in the manger on the mantle.

The one foot Santa was unwrapped next. As the red suit and beard emerged -- an intake of breath. Eyes widened and mouths formed a perfect 0. A high octane sound of pure glee, innocence and deafening aliveness filled the room. Two children bursting their skin with an ecstasy welling up in an instant from a deep, deep land of joy, love, and aliveness.

Christmas is feeling and magic. "The deepest things after all are intangible."** All that matters to the two grands is the feeling -- the surge of joy, sweetness, and love from somewhere, some land within. Maybe this is the child our souls know about without religion, theology, without a face or a word, always waiting and always ready to birth in our mangers.

* Christmas 2012

Sunday, December 15, 2013


"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree..."

We put our Christmas tree up several nights ago, all eight feet plus. I missed the vertical launching. The grands were excited. I arrived back when they were leaving. My three and a half year old shouts as I get out of the car, "Grandma, the tree is up and it is awesome, the awe being drawn out. When I entered the living room I looked twice.

The angel on top had a slight lean toward the lake, and alas, so did the tree. However, we thought, not a bad lean, we'll straighten it later. After three days decorating it, this morning in all its tinseled and ornamented glory it was definitely "a symbol of good will and love." Two minutes before a friend arrived this afternoon, with no one calling "timber" I heard (what you have already guessed.) -- our "awesome" tree was horizontal  admist smashed ornaments, strewn lights and with garland where it should not be. "Oh Christmas tree, how could you, how could you?" be lying there resting so peacefully.

The door bell rings, without a word I invite my friend to see the living room. She looks, she gasps, saying, "I don't believe it." Neither can I. Then it strikes the bone that's funny. We begin to laugh. After she goes my daughter calls, I describe the scene before me. She chuckles. On Skype I show my horizontal tree, more merriment. Making my SOS call to our workman to raise it again, he laughs.

I sit here at my desk, amused and feeling different than this morning when decorating the tree to "get it off my chore list." Looking at the shambles before me, I think, "Oh me of little insight." Maybe the tree feels this human needs to "lighten up." Too much humbug in this house. She's forgotten Christmas. Let's call Timber-r-r-r... and down goes her-my hectic self."

"Tree, thank you. Getting it done lies peacefully with you on the living floor -- replaced by good cheer, merriment and warmth. Looking up I see the scatter pieces of colorful ornaments catching the lights from the manger scene -- almost beautiful in their weird shattered shapes and different positioning as am I.

A tune hums itself in my head or maybe my heart, "Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree... Shining light, silver bell, no one alive spreads cheer so well..." 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Great Mandela. We live in a fractured world. Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall every hour and for the most part we feel hopeless to put it together again. Yet Nelson Mandela had the ability, the courage, the spirit to accomplish such tasks. 

"I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended." (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

Friday, November 29, 2013

death as an adviser...

"Death will come for each of us and yet, with our realignments of time, we have an opportunity to have death move into a different position: death is now just behind our left shoulder. The reality is unchanged, but death now becomes an adviser." Francis Rico

I talked to my cousin on the phone yesterday. Two months ago I wrote "the crossroad..." about a choice she was given: to die within days or take "brutal chemo" treatments which had few guarantees.  She asked what I would do. Neither of us knew the answer. She is now home from the hospital although she still has to take the chemo once a month if she wishes to live.

Although much thinner, her voice is hers -- strong, inquiring with a humor that simmers but not quite fruits. I asked how she is, "I'm great. I am loving today and I am not dying right now. Besides, I want to enjoy my house. (She just had it renovated.)The way she said it was as if this one day was golden, glorious and glittering. Mine felt rather ordinary in comparison.  She continues to tell me of the meaningful conversations that are happening with family and friends who come from across the country. Hanging up I hear, "I love you."

Times gives us "an opportunity to have death move into a different position" -- to allow it to become an adviser -- time to adjust one's life, out look, loving and caring beyond self. I don't want to find that different mole or lump no matter how wise death is. I'd need time to "re position", to allow myself space to grieve what will be lost on "this side" and ponder what awaits on "the other". I know that death is not an ending but another beginning, an act of love, an act of birthing into a larger consciousness.

I  also do not need to have an illness to walk with this great adviser. Experience and age rest it neatly on my left shoulder, now. An ancient friend from the "other side" once told me, "'Death' is not the word we use..." I asked why and she replied, "As it is merely passing from one life experience to another life experience."  And when she pointed her finger at me, somehow I knew it was true.

So like my cousin I trust death will illuminate with light, change mountains into molehills
and teach me again that the moment is precious. I have a choice of response right here, right now -- a major act of power.* I don't have to wait. Maybe on posting this writing, I will invite this wing creature who will take me into a larger awareness to rest softly on my left shoulder. Then as my cousin would say, "You, look and listen..."

my cousin on the right this past week-end
* Rico
image source:

Friday, November 15, 2013


“The geranium just died on the window sill but teacher you went right on talking.”
Albert Cullum

A little geranium here in the corner has not been watered for days. The flower is dried crisp. I had not noticed. How many times have I just gone “right on" typing?  My grand children want to watch a  program, so easy to let them while I "catch a few moments for myself." A senior down the street is lonely, I say “good morning” and keep on walking.  I read in the paper last week, a woman in Pakistan, had gone to the police station to report being raped by her brother-in-law and was pregnant.  She was sentenced to death by stoning. I have done nothing.

I consider myself sensitive, informed, and spiritual yet I have not written an email to the Pakistani government, stopped and talked to the senior or watered the geranium. I get spun off so easily by everyday-ness and too busy meeting my own personal deadlines. I console myself with cliches. In my busy day, “I can’t do everything or help everybody.” All trite but true. Even good posture like  holding my shoulders back, my stomach in are lucky to get any attention at all.  And they are right below my chin.

I get too thin in spirit, swim in a pool too shallow for resonance, presence, or thoughtfulness. Am I cold-hearted, selfish, or is it just I can’t be bothered?  Is it a momentary forgetfulness of who I really am, my soul-self, my relating self? Are these its choices?

I pause, letting my eyes drift slowly across this mahogany desk to the green curled leaves of the geranium being played by the breeze coming through the screen door. I wrote not long ago about Masuro Emoto's photographs that witness to how water responds to emotion or neglect. I would speculate it is the same for plants. I remember the worn face on the senior (and I am one). How different it begins to feel. Now the hand holding this pen, is coming to life. Relatedness begins to stir.

Everything thing resonates and beats the same heart. The dried flower is me when I stay in my busyness, when I keep "right on talking/typing" instead of watering. So I begin again, the geranium is watered, the justice email is sent and maybe tomorrow on my walk, I'll take more time than saying a "hello" in passing.

*photo source:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

the little dog with a golden tail...

"Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in resurrection shall have a golden tail." Martin Luther

My friend just lost a love, her dog Marley. Love is love, lost is lost in whatever form it takes, often wounding us deeply.

She dropped in for a visit several weeks ago. Feeling grief, she was telling me what a vacant hole his presence leaves in her life. They walked the beaches, the woods, and went to choir practice. A fun loving companion: he consoled her when down, licked her hand when necessary. Now he felt gone and leaves her desolate for his companionship. She tells me people don't get it. They think because Marley was a dog she "shouldn't" grieve to any uncomfortable extent. Ah, but love is love.

As I listened, in my minds eye, clear, almost solid, a little dog was wagging it's tail till it blurred. I seemed to be just in front and above his head.  I am familiar with my invisible guides so know reality does not have to be visible to be real. This little dog did not appear to be grieving or absent.

The next time my friend visited there he was again but this time sitting down: perky, happy, patient and waiting? She had gone to a beach where they had often visited, a few days before. Wanting a sign from him, her attention was drawn to a spot on the sand. Stopping her story she took a kleenex-wrapped object from her purse. Tenderly unwrapping it, her hands cradled a rock about two inches wide and shaped, undeniably like a heart.

A journey of love.  I find that those strong spiritual energies that beacon us want to be clothed, want to serve, want to be in-form so they can inform, so they can love -- with the wisdom of the ancients, the enlightened ones, the shamans, and the quantum physicists. Even the gods desire a language.

We need to allow their spirit language side by side with our human language. We need to learn to hear it and speak it. The universe is too large, too rich, too multi-dimensional for merely one voice, ours and one language, ours. The invitation is out. Will my friend learn a new language? Will she allow her beloved companion his invisible form, his golden tail or will his presence be dismissed?

photo source:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

if only she had known...

“We all shine the moon and the stars and the sun...we all shine on...come on and on and on...”  John Lennon
The star was shining out of the center of my mother's head as she stood on the hill some distance from me. A radiating star. I was fascinated in the dream and somewhat lost in it's beams flashing out like an aura.

She died when she was ninety-two, a decade ago. In this place she is in her fifties. I notice her own unique attractive hair style which she created herself. For me, hair in my dreams symbolizes the condition of my spirituality -- hair mussed, spirituality mussed -- hers was perfect.

My mother and I had a difficult relationship that caused her to be deeply hurt and me to be continually protecting myself. Yet I always admired her for her integrity. She was self reflective and honest about herself to a fault, taking the blame in our relationship for far too much. I thought of my own flaws and "if wishes were fishes..." or something more tangible... .

I get lost in my humanity, my short comings, in my five senses trying to get along in the world, often bogged down as if this is the only reality. My mother loved me greatly, tried her best, looked after everyone and everything in her sphere. Yet her childhood had left her damaged. No self-help books, no social services to work through a shame that was not hers. Opportunities for her smarts and artistic creativity were limited by her role of wife and mother.

In the dream, as I watched her from the distance, I was transported into a larger knowing, into a personal/impersonal love not only for her but for myself, and every face I've ever known. I longed to tell her, to shout up the hill to her, "Oh, if you only had known how perfect you were. If only..."

My mother belongs to the invisible now.  I suspect she knows stars need not stay in the sky. “We all shine the moon and the stars and the sun...we all shine on...come on and on and on...”

photo source: fotolia

Friday, October 4, 2013

sand days...

The golden moments (days) in the stream of life rush pass us; and we see nothing but sand; the angels come and visit us and we only know them after. George

Another ordinary doing-nothing (sand) day looms ahead. Where is my merry heart? Gone and seemingly replaced by a feeling of mundane-ness, routine, habit, and getting chores done. Dropping in on a friend I mention my droop. She picks up a children's book from her coffee table, bought at a second hand store last week. Flipping through the pages I noticed some are worn, some stained and the pictures are faded. This book does reflect my day.

Yet when closing the book, the edges of the pages coming together are embossed with gold.  Focusing on the faded parts, I had not noticed.  Maybe my no-nothing-droop has a purpose and isn't a wasted day after all "in the grand scheme of things." (I hope.)

Maybe just being and doing nothing is enough. The yellow finch sits here on the deck and breaths. I glance up and feel a flutter of beauty in my chest. I never tire of looking at it doing nothing. The water just lays here horizontal in the lake yet my eyes are always drawn to it, calmed by it. The fall flowers sit here on the table dressed in maroons, oranges, reds, not moving yet filling me with meaning as I write. All do nothing. Twenty minutes later and water is still in the same place, so are the flowers and so will they be tomorrow morning.

I find it comforting that soul-gold possibly etches my do-nothing days when there is nothing new; same chores, same routine, and no potentially exciting things to do.  Hopefully, like the water and flowers merely being is enough. Maybe when the book closes on  all my days, each will be embossed whether I feel it or not. Like George Elliot, maybe my ordinary days, my sand days are angels, too.

photo source:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flash! Bam! Alakazam!

On my morning walk, sunlight dazzling its way through the trees created leafy lace -- mostly ignored, I focus walking the hill fast, getting the most out of my workout. On the way back, stopping suddenly, my friend points excitedly; I see nothing but a little red drive-way marker half buried in dirt-road ditch. With sun warming my shoulders, taking a step back, then sideways; with a catch of breath, I see it: reddish, orange, yellow, light rays bursting through dusty grasses.  My nose catches the early morning scent off the alders, the ripened blackberry bushes are laden-ed with fall fruit and sea salt scents the air. I am being held by this miniature fabric of light -- a piece of the universe working on my behalf.  My friend exclaims, "Oh look, oh feel, I am in love. God just dropped in." Words to an old song* come to mind,

I was walking along, drinking in sunshine,
When out of the orange colored view,
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
I got a look at "You."

This transformation of grass, reflector, eye and heart lands me in a divinity. However, when I am not lined up, light is merely glare off the water, glass, or car. Sometimes irritating, sometimes annoying and quickly dismissed. How many times have I waited it out before even being able to see, let alone feel anything. Yet now in this moment, it is a little like giving birth to a resonance that makes music behind my rib cage (not so poetic but true). Then I let it go into any place inside me or out to do what it needs to do. I hold it until it is mine.

We are the reflector. It's imperative we line up with frequencies that work for us, that call forth our larger selves, our awesomeness, our humbleness. How do I know when I am aligned? I don't but my instincts do. I come alive, my senses respond and always in a perfection not my own. In the most mundane things god winks, the lover drops in, tapping us on the shoulder saying, "Here I am." Flash! Bam! Alakazam!

I was walking along, minding my business
When love came and hit me in the eye...
I went into a spin and started to shout,
"I've been hit, this is it, I've been hit!"
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Out of an orange colored, purple-stripped, pretty green poka-dot sky.
Flash! Bam! Alakazam! 
A wonderful You came by.*

* have a listen -- a popular old song, Flash! Bam! Alakazam! written by Willie Delugg
** this writing came out of a recent conversation with a friend

photo source:

Friday, September 6, 2013

the crossroad...

One operates at a peculiar crossroad
where time and place and eternity somehow meet.
The problem is to find that location.
                                      Flannery O'Connor, a paraphrase

The phone rang. My cousin's daughter's voice was low and unsteady. "We just took Mom to the hospital." I had talked to her last week, her life force was wonderfully in tack. Suddenly, my healthy eighty-four year old cousin who walks four miles a day, works out at the gym three times a week and volunteers at the hospital has lost half her blood and the transfusions are not correcting the situation.

We wait for the tests. Two day later: she has an excessively aggressive, acute leukemia. Her choices: "brutal chemo treatments" or do nothing and "die within days."  This is Thursday. God, first of the week? I am deeply shakened. What must she feel? I can't imagine no more talks, visits, no more cousin on this side.

Knowing she has come to a crossroad, I call her dreading the question she may pose. Her breathing is labored. However, she is self possessed, matter of fact but her voice is quiet, weakened. Normally, her energy comes bursting through the phone. Not this morning. Her first words are, "Augusta, frankly I don't have time to die (business, family's needs and hospital work). This is all so shockingly fast. Yet, if this is it, I want you all to be happy for me."

She is no stranger to "death" having lost her husband and her forty year old son within the last few years. Her awareness-veil between here and the "other side" is wonderfully thin. She knows life, love, learning, and awareness continue -- that a mere capsule of dust cannot contain or explain these immensities.  Yet I sense her indecision.

She continues, "I don't know what to do. I am thinking of taking the chemo." She pauses, her voice is strained, "What would you do?"

What bothers me is that I don't know what I would do -- and more importantly why don't I? I have read the books, was a hospice care giver for years, spent a week with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross*, hear from Guides who are certainly not on this side and know in my being everything my cousin does. With our experience why don't either of us know?

As she talks I see a tableau taking place in my mind's eye. A four year old brother is coming up behind his smaller sister. He gives her a forceful shove, caught unaware, she falls to the ground. Disorientated, undecided whether to cry or not, she needs time to get her balance as she struggles to her feet saying, "I'm ok Grandma."

My cousin needs time and space for her balance, wisdom, knowledge and instincts. A cross road with more directions than merely Yes or No -- a way forward that allows for the rich sea chest of probability, possibilities that are not definitive. She may well decide by the second week to discontinue the chemo or she may not. I do not know "where time and place and eternity somehow will meet." I simple do not know the answer for her or for me.

On the phone she is quietly waiting. I reply, "Cousin of mine, 'I don't know' is the answer."

*Kubler-Ross: a pioneer in near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book "On Death and Dying" identifying for the first time in western medicine, the five stages of grief.

photo source:

Friday, August 23, 2013

karate, a wobbly beginning...

A woman does not practice karate
So that she can fight like a man
She does so in order to be free
to be a woman.
                  author unknown

One day our mailbox contained a notice that karate was going to be offered in the old school a mile down the road. I was interested. My motivation was a neighbor who was a "peeping tom" among other things. The police had received many complaints but could not catch him.  One day, as he drove by he slowed down and eye-balled me as I was hanging out the clothes.  The karate notice came a week later. I needed to learn to protect myself and my children if the police could not.

The first night thirty-two young teenage boys showed up and forty-seven year old, me. Although I was in decent physical shape from jogging, the first night's work out rattled my confidence and left me sore. Later over tea, I told my husband I'd try it one more night. The bruising continued. By the end of the first month, I counted heads -- now twelve young guys and me.

Our dojo (exercise room) was in the basement of the school.  As fall turned into winter, one of the windows was cracked. Continuing to bring bruises home and running through the snow in bare feet, I needed to make the decision. Was karate really for me? Regardless of the "peeping tom"?

One night the Sensei, being a new black belt himself and inexperienced, put me in a sparring match with a young man half a foot taller and about fifty pounds heavier. We were both white belts and had no technique or skill. The guys seemed to want to prove their physical prowess. My goal was to survive their efforts. The Sensei signaled the match to begin. Immediately, I took a couple of hard punches. His technique seemed to be inspired by fights on television, mine amounted to backing up and keeping out of reach.

There are two rules in the ring: we were not allowed to hit the others' head (in theory), nor could we step out side the ring more than twice. If we did the match was awarded to the opponent.

With a bit of male ego assuming a win, his peers cheering him, I needed help. Several more shots of pain. Suddenly, I felt a strength and anger enter me with the instant knowledge that my survival depended on not backing up but hugging him -- keeping my self as close in as I could. "Kia", I yelled immediately, inches before his face startling me as much as him.

I am of light weight and slight build. I knew from other experiences this gave me an agility of movement. With this important fact, along with the "kias" I began ducking and crowding him, forcing him backward. It was a good feeling. He lost his balance twice. His foot was out over the line. Frustrated, he came back charging, absent of strategy. I stepped to the side, shot off a zuki and pulled it inches from his face -- just lucky, maybe. Jumping back he stumbled. The third time his foot slipped out. The dojo went silent. I went silent. I had won.

I could not wait to get home for tea and tell my good news -- I belonged in karate. And that night the threat of the "peeping tom" shrank significantly. Think of what I could do with a little skill.

The words of a wise old friend a week later also assured me. I asked if karate was ok for me. She replied, "Reality is how you see it. If you think it is beneficial it will be. If the situation is seen as negative-dark then you will move into that.  Let me remind you, "Thought is reality. It is of your own making."

I left her cottage thinking, "Hmmm, that applies to everything."

photo source:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Did the pansy's know?

"let all go -- the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things -- let all go
so comes love"  e.e. cummings

I let a painful situation go on waking. I have reached the place where life is healed, where past and present does not exist and all is love. Here is where "I fly my part of the sky" without human interference -- mine. Lifting my hands in release, a bird takes flight outside my window.

Then a smell ticked my nose where no smell existed a second ago. Turning my head I see two pansy's by my bed.  Perhaps they know the significance, the time it has taken me, tripping over myself, needing to offer help which wasn't wanted. In their deep velvet-yellow, do they feel my pain, my joy of release?

Ah yes, maybe, they are an intelligent-heart wearing the pansy's petaled form.

photo source:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"A very magical day, I learned to speak crow." Jacob


Hello Grandma Ana, 
It is Jacob. I was out this morning......  It's Saturday, ahhh, one second.... I don't know the date, like it's Saturday (emphased). It's July. Why am I telling you that?  Ummm, I wonder if I could have a talk with you as these crows have a nice little conversation. I say "Caw Caw" (enthusiastically) and they say "Caw Caw" (equally enthusiastically). They answer me. We go back and forth. We are talking. I speak crow, I just realized. So it is very, very interesting and I can't wait until you get this message. I'd just like it if you could call me back soon so we could talk more about it. I think you have my number. Yes you do, just in case......(number)

Ok, well, the crows are very kind. I would like it if you could call me back. (The phone goes dead, his grandmother waits.) He returns, explaining, "I was just trying to find them but I couldn't. They were flying above me and we were talking. It was very, very magical this morning.  I really like the crows now that we have met each other, more. When I want I just go "Caw, Caw" (more enthusiasm). They will answer "Caw, Caw," that's if there are any around.

 (Pause) I am up stairs with no windows open and I just learned, they hear me! Now um, I have no windows open. They have great hearing! I just learned too because I am upstairs.  I'd like it if you could call me back. Oh, that I have said three times. *

*An early morning telephone conversation on voice mail from a seven year old grandson.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

age puzzles me...

Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate.
Florida Scott-Maxwell

When my grandmother was in her sixties, I grieved because she was “old”. I studied her wrinkles, grey hair, and the brown spots on her hands. In my young mind, she appeared rather ancient. I feared she might die at any time.

In her early eighties she took a trip by herself across Canada on the train, stopping in various provinces to visit family and friends. A year later, because of her husband, she entered a senior’s home.  I grieved.

This section of her life lasted twenty years. In the "home" her reputation grew. She visited the sick, read to “those who can’t see”, and brought joy to many who otherwise would have been lonely and isolated. When she was a hundred, she heard from the Queen (a send out I am sure) and her Member of Parliament paid a visit. We laughed when she related how she had challenged him with humor. During my last visit with her, enfeebled somewhat from her hundred years plus, she wrapped my four young children in love, asking them about their lives, always about their lives.

Months after she had passed, I continued to hear from others the caring she shared and the difference she had made in her eighties and nineties and hundreds. 

Age puzzles me less. I often think if only I had not “written” her off as “old” twenty-five years ago. How young she would be at seventy-five.

photo source:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We should all be born at seventy-five.

Her birthday was three weeks ago. I watch her on the front porch settling into her wine, knowing the struggles of her life as she turns toward me.

"I love being seventy-five. I love that I'll pass over, god knows when. I am not in a hurry. Do I ever like me like this. I have never been more excited."

Watching the Nova Scotia cape boat moving out of the cove (lobster season) she continues. " I love that boat, up in the nose, down in the stern going to take on the North Atlantic. I have nothing to prove, I've taken on the Atlantic.

I love being seventy five -- maybe not three years ago. Life comes or it doesn't. Enthusiasm for (her new project)  puts gas in my tank, in my carburetor. So much in the moment is just the joy of thinking about it. That is enough whether it comes to fruit or not -- this act of enjoying my enthusiasm. Yes, seventy-five is one of my favorite ages to be."

"Why", I ask, as I knew the time when it was not?

She looks to the ocean. I wait. Then she softly states, "Very hard to describe. I am disconnected from what I use to be. They no longer anchor me down: family, duties, friendships, yet I so respect those who are. It is simply that the leaves have come out on the tree again this spring.

Adding, "I am so pleased with this positioning -- naked inside and maybe even out. We should all be born at seventy-five and go backwards. It doesn't matter about size, age, color, problems we have. It is what it is. Simply that, it is what it is."

The boat is out of sight, the wine is gone and she goes in to prepare supper. I sit in a smile. The new spring leaves are flashing their green in the evening breeze.

photo source:

Monday, June 3, 2013

this year's wildest wave ...

As if another "person" appeared out of the depths...  Roethke

From Roethe's poem in my last writing, I asked, "Where is my "wildest wave", where is this life that surges forth, sometimes shockingly unexpected.

I have just had a tsunami experience. A completely foreign part of myself, one I have never met before has arrived: with passion, infinite abandonment and pure joy. Up and down the piano keys she flys or tries, playing maritime fiddle tunes, a rousing version of "Oh when the saints" and "Mother's got a squeeze box." My budding skill can barely keep up with this rush of rhythm that wants to be all over the piano keys, one end of the 88 to the other, feet tapping, piano bench rocking.

What shocks me so delightfully, is that I have hated the piano since I was seven. During five years of lessons sweat often trickled down my back, as a ruler awaited little fingers if they couldn't find the keys. I concluded then I was my teacher's worst student (even though provincial music exams said it wasn't so). I also decided, I was the least musical person I knew, until...

Two years ago my daughter, who was learning the fiddle, wanted someone to accompany her at a non-existent speed. That was definitely me. After six decades of dedicated disinterest, I knew three chords. We didn't play much the first summer. She showed me some finger positions. Yet, immediately, I began to feel surges and urges, beats and rhythms from some mysterious inner wind bellowing my joy-sails. A little mix of rag time and honky tonk. What great fun. My fingers could not resist dancing up and down the keys but my budding knowledge and skill could not keep up. It didn't matter. With fingers muffing notes, faking chords I was rocking.

Two years later: "I got the passion." I can't wait for that fiddle to come out of the case. The other night I was rag timing something; at the end, laughing I zipped my finger up and down the key board in what I thought was a brilliant run. Then with arms raised and shouting the most joyful "yo" ever articulated, I happen to look over to the sofa. My grandson with eyes sparkling, little five year old butt bouncing like his grandma's, arms up, hardly able to contain himself, shouts,  "Oh Grandma, you are crazy."

And he is right, I am crazy: with passion, amazement, disbelief as I sway out on this year's, "wildest wave alive."

Photo source:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

the wildest wave alive...

the wildest wave alive 

Among the half-dead trees, I came upon the true ease of myself,
As if another “person” appeared out of the depths of my being,
And I stood outside myself,
A something wholly other,
As if I swayed out on the wildest wave alive...  
Theodore Roethke

Last summer,* I caught myself faking a laugh, feeling an empty non-direction. My alone-ness stained by loneliness. After several decades of being a mother,  painter, a life-skill coach, living an introverted life was freshly soul-satisfying.  Finding time to write, travel, and sit on a desert mesa alone brought me sweetness. Yet this past year, I recognize some “half-dead trees” of my own. What makes me alive one season and not the next? Reading Roethke’s poem I wondered where is my “wildest wave alive”? Where is that which teases me with mystery, love, and a larger presence?

I consider myself reflective. I think I know myself - my likes, wants, thinks, and feels. Yet maybe my self-definitions are too small.  Are these the source of my dull cast?  When I think back to the sweetness, it’s the unexpected energy that breaks forth from my inner being which excites me - gives me my creative edge, entertains me.

Sometimes this new aliveness surges in so gradually, I only recognize it in hind sight.  Other times it crashes in. However the arrival, this energy is a fresh place to live, a place of new decisions, new directions.  I become an observer, playing “catch up” because my likes of last season have changed this summer. The tear drop is a little sweeter, a book once read suggests a different meaning, and the color brown now is purple.

To be alive, is to be ever creating. Like the tsunami gathering it’s power deep in the ocean depths, ever moving undetected until it breaks on shore. My spiritual self has thankfully gathered undetected, thrusting me beyond my self-definition; my stories of who I think I am.  Riding this wild wave, I am discovering this summer that the grasses between my toes are actually toes feeling back.

* written a decade-plus ago yet always now...
Photo source:

tara, terrier bull...

Tara, terrier bull,
      one eyed monster that you are,
Cat torn ears, overture of friendship.

Tossed, bitten by horse
       and other advances --  token of wagging tail.
Ugly as ugly, this wonderful spirit.

Passing by, child grabs tail with both hands
       vigorously sweeps this well established wag back and forth under little nose.
Terrier bull, patiently waits.

Later: knock at the door -- police -- "crazy, damn, killer dog chasing ducks in pond...
bull terrier and ugly you know?"
This one eyed, torn ear, horse bit, duck chasing, friendship seeking
Incarnation of the god-heart.

Photo source:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

light, a who...

“When her doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw “the tree with the lights in it.” It was for this tree I searched... Then one day I was walking along Tinker creek and thinking of nothing at all and I saw "the tree with the lights in it." I saw the backyard cedar...charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame... It was less like seeing than like being for the first time see, knocked breathless by a powerful glance."
                                                                                                                      Annie Dillard

A few years ago I had occasion to ask myself, "What is light -- or better still, who is light  Or, is light just an arbitrary what?"

Early in my life light was definitely a "what" as it had no more identity then its use. Like air and water, I took it for granted. Light was just light: with it I saw objects, people, color, and everything else physical eyes see. With a good idea a "light bulb went on" or one might "put light on the subject." Light stayed an "arbitrary what" for a long time.

However, over the years light has changed me. The "who" began to emerge, giving me a new set of eyes, a new awareness and now takes me to that Place called Love. Sitting here in the early morning drinking coffee the sun tips these mountains. I look up and watch light find a space through the million spring-fresh mesquite needles, watch it fascinated breaking into a million space-forms, a million color rays spread out from center. These infinite patterns play magic with my vision.

Half closing my eyes, flickering prism colors slide pass the yellow finches breakfasting at their feeder, then through the window spreading these rays fluid-like across the floor. I watch this radiating light in its great ordinariness, making form of the chair, sofa, making color as the dull grey of pre-dawn becomes a lovely magenta, a forest green and it moves toward me making warmth, feeling, making holiness felt.

Entering this paradise of light, color and form, something living inside me leaps -- a life that was not there before. I feel its sacredness, its aliveness, my aliveness.

I know this happens out everyone's window who has a mesquite tree facing east, yet how many times have I missed it? This Who that escorts me to the Place of Love; this Who that is "less like seeing than like being for the first time see, knocked breathless by a powerful glance."

Photo source: fotolia

Sunday, April 7, 2013

a resonance of culture and history...

 "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly..."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Early Saturday morning, my daughter's train from Santiago was late. Mindlessly, I began walking up and down the Tucson train station platform to put in time. A freight train passed. Families traveling for Easter began to gather, some speaking Mexican, some American. Several people were setting up booths to sell their wares.

After strolling a few minutes, I was stopped by the smell of sage. In the middle of the platform, a Native American was fanning its embers to life with two eagle feathers. Curling smoke played with my senses. A woman waited for a morning blessing. The sage woke my awareness. I continued my walk-about, slower and softer.

At the far end of the platform I smelled burritos, chili's, and enchiladas being cooked on a grill by a Mexican woman. I stopped and watched her -- a colorful jacket for the early morning desert chill and a round brim hat for the sun later in the day. How much work she must have done in the early hours before it was light. On my return walk I noticed the man with the eagle feathers was sweeping the sage smoke over her, her stoves, and the food boxes she had brought. She never smiled or looked at him as the smoke swirled about her. My thought, "Oh, he has done this many times before."  Her non-response felt reverent.

Still no sound of my daughter's train. I turned and repeated my steps back down to the other end of the platform.  A old train engine and coal car were behind an iron fence. A era of experienced engulfed me. As I looked up, the engine appeared as large as those in my childhood -- the big brass bell on top, the coal car behind, and the engineer (sometimes my grandfather*) leaning out the window with the man behind him shoveling coal into the furnace.  Then an "All Aboard" sounded from the conductor a few passenger cars back. The train began steaming-chugging-cranking out of the station as I covered little girl-ears.

Leaving my reminiscence and coming back up the platform I noticed sculptures of two men, each carrying a rifle, wearing a long coat and a pistol on each hip. Not far from the sculptures, a historical sign was dated 1882. A map roughly drawn showed the railway station, several wiggly rectangles indicated where the passengers got off, where the freight was unloaded. A smaller rectangle shape was penciled in just across the track. Under it the author had written, "Frank Stilwell killed." The drawing was signed, Wyatt Earp. He had taken his revenge on his brother Morgan's death in Tombstone after the shoot out at the OK Corral.

People began moving toward the boarding gate. The Amtrak pulled in. My daughter emerged from the train and one look told me she had enjoyed her days in the Baja, maybe, as much as I had enjoyed the hour wait.

*My grandfather's family came from Scotland to Nova Scotia in the late 1800's because the Dominion Atlantic Railroad was beginning to open lines up through out the Annapolis Valley and the western part of the province.

Photo source:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

the little no of self-love...

“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”  Rumi

Another reader wrote, asking: "How does one love oneself if one is not happy with oneself?"

How does one love oneself -- quite often by saying no. The little word "no" issuing from an inner "yes" has soul resonance and a deep sense of well-being. However, my ability to say that little no is interfered with and often buried by old wounds, habits, adult failures and griefs, which rob me of the feeling for that soul-yes.

I want to eat healthy, I don't. My body needs to lift a few weights, I  don't.  I want to write or paint but it is easier to procrastinate or be lured away by daily chores.  These little no's not said make me unhappy, get me in trouble with my god-self.  However, these feelings, beacon-like, also tell me I am on the track.

A friend who was losing weight told me recently, "The power to say no is built one small no at a time. I have to act no until it becomes the feeling in the body. Every mouthful has to have a no in it. Sometimes, all I can do is have a no in place, acted on or not." She concluded, "At first, I don't feel a thing, however, I trust the process and make small steps. Gradually, a feeling of well-being emerges."

The outer no becomes the lover of the inner yes. I love the self that eats healthy, has me hiking these mountains, resists destructive habits, negative inner dialogues and anything soul-diminishing. This self makes me happy and loves me back with passion. One's task, as Rumi wisely observed, is merely to seek and find all the barriers within that one builds against love.

* photo source:

Monday, March 25, 2013

two visitors and a vortex...

Vortexes are areas of high energy concentrations, originating from magnetic, spiritual, or sometimes unknown sources. Anna Jones

As I have mentioned, I live in Tucson, Arizona for the winter. My daughter is visiting for a few weeks. She and a friend are going to Sedona tomorrow -- a place of red cliffs, mesas, and beauty -- which reminded me of my last trip there. I wrote the following a short time later.

My friend was treating my cousin and I to a tour of the Sedona vortexes. He had felt different energies on previous visits. I was skeptical.  Ten years ago, I dismissed the vortexes as a tourist-draw. A lot happens in a decade and now I was curious.

Walking the mile to the base of Cathedral Mountain -- supposedly a vortex location -- we came out of the trees and were dwarfed by mountain walls, brilliant orange-yellow wrinkled with purple shadows. At my feet a stream trickled over flat, red rock. Our hiking guide invited us to close our eyes and let the sun warm the morning chill. The air was pristine, the birds were waking.

After a while, my hands started to tingle. I wondered if this was the vortex feeling but thought not? We sat awhile in silence. I could feel the beauty even with my eyes half-closed. Then out of the corner of my mind’s eye, to the left, a figure caught my attention -- a native American.  I dismissed "the image" knowing these southwest areas are steeped in history. However, as I kept watching him, he seemed quite material as if resting or waiting on one knee. Oddly, one feather on the right side of his head was pointing down. Then looking closer with my inner-eye I saw another smaller feather sticking out behind the larger one. Why were the feathers pointing down? 

The guide interrupted my reverie, “We are now at the center of a vortex. Did anyone sense anything? Silence. My cousin said her hands were tingling. More silence. My friend observed he didn't feel anything, this time. Hesitantly, I related what I was seeing. The guide instantly asked, as if it was a normal observation, where "the visitor" was positioned? I pointed to the left of a small sand bar about twenty feet in front of me. Then, describing him, I told them about the feathers pointing down.

While I was talking my cousin puts her hand on my arm and whispers, “A yellow, black butterfly has been sitting on your shoulder since you began talking.” Without moving, I saw it’s wings fluttering. Then looking toward the sand bar, my visitor was disappearing. The butterfly stayed a little longer. As we left, I turned and waved good-bye.

Several days later my friend described my encounter to a woman of the Hopi tribe. Her initial interest was in the butterfly "lodging" on my shoulder. She asked, "Is her birthday in July?" (July 24 th) Seemingly satisfied, she continued to informed my friend the meaning of two feathers pointing down signified the "visitor" as a teacher.

Driving back to Tucson, I had difficulty dismissing the experience. A quote kept filtering through my disbelief, "When the student is ready a teacher appears."*

* A Buddhist proverb
Photo source: fotolia

(Basically, a writing from a decade ago which my daughter's visit reminded me of.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Which are the artificial yeses?

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight... e.e.cummings

A reader's question from the last writing "the lioness and the oryx":  "I can so identify with where you are coming from. Of course, it raises the question -- which are artificial yeses?"

My artificial "yes" was institutionalized early. In the fifties and sixties, being female, I was trained by society to say, "yes": yes to wife-hood, mother-hood, religion-hood, and just about any hood my blind eyes couldn't see. My inner no's, my authentic self had pretty sparse ground in which to sprout.

Yet, those yeses gave me social value, protections, and security. Becoming a wife, I was no longer considered an "old maid, a spinster." The labels speak for themselves. Becoming a mother was the most important contribution I could make to society. (I had three degrees.) Leaving the children to work outside the home was neglect. I was also not to be smarter, taller or earn more money than my mate. These requirement/roles, too often starve my true lioness nature, my natural self. (My husband, who was a freer thinker than the norm, gave me support and space in which to explore these social roles.)

At first, I had to learn what was the "surface me" and then what was the "authentic me" -- how did they differ? I discovered I starved emotionally and spiritually every time I said yes when something in me said a deeper no: how many times did I say yes to sex when I did not want it, yes to company when I was exhausted, yes to measuring up to someone elses expectations rather then my own. (Actually, it is rather embarrassing to write this.)  I sought personal value from others, my yeses often put me in a box/situation that crippled my choices. I needed to make things right, keep everyone happy. To sum it up, I too often was gooy-nice rather than honest and true --  with a, "No thanks."

Socialization peels away a layer at a time and the odd time in chunks. Of course the trick is, even today, who am I, really? What expands my spirit, what resonants with my inner being, what freedoms wait there for me to play in? I try for a glimpse daily as it is always new ground.  Socrates said it several thousand years ago, "To thy own self be true." No one ever wrote to thy own self be artificial. If the lioness had been true she would be alive today.

Photo source:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Starving to death on artificial yeses...

"A lioness in central Kenya has baffled wildlife experts by adopting a baby oryx, a kind of small antelope normally preyed upon by big cats..." BBC News

My "yes" in the world becomes artificial and soul-taking when my inner being, my true self is shouting a resounding "No". One night on television I watched a documentary on Africa. A lioness was spotted mothering a young oryx which is a lion's natural, primary food (aliveness) source. Her true nature was to stalk and kill it. Eat or die. Yet she would not leave it's side to hunt for food for fear the other lions would kill it. They both became thinner and thinner

Her "yes" to the oryx betrayed her true identity. 
As I continued to watch the program, a sobering thought, "What "yeses" emaciate my spirit, make me untrue to my natural self? Maybe, those social situations that take my energy when a quiet walk along the lake would act like magic, leaving me with "a light and merry heart." 

Writing, too, is who I am, I love it and it loves me. Walking, hiking loves me back, as well. Yet, only a natural self gives that kind of feeling feed-back. Besides, allowing a couch-bound, procrastinated "artificial yes"
 to a poor TV program win, indeed, can leave me slightly emaciated. I shrink. Plus, I just plain do not feel good, after

A few weeks later, the oryx was killed by a male lion while the lioness, greatly weakened, slept. She was grief-stricken and angry when she woke. Yet her "artificial yes" had killed them both. No more oryx and she was never seen again. 

Photo source:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our energy body has no skin...

Scientists have proven beyond doubt that the physical world is one large sea of energy. Nothing is solid; everything is made up of non-physical energy.  You are literally made up of light, you are an energy being. *

Physical reality is an illusion, be it a convincing one.” Einstein

If Einstein, the physicists, and ancient seers have it right, we indeed are spiritual bodies having a physical experience. We are energy forms. We don’t stop at our skins; we are not our bones, our noses. I don’t even have to play with that knowledge. When I make my transition (die) into another experience I won’t be taking my little finger with me, which will be shed like a shell ending up with shocking speed as ashes or dust.

My cousin is coming this week. I am excited. I love her spirit-heart, her “me-ness”, where her laughter comes from, her special cousin-caring, her Presence.  In reality she has already arrived,. Her finger nails, nose, and ears I won’t even notice when they get here in a couple of days. Today she may be having a bad day, a headache, or having a great time playing poker. None of these physical things affect my experience of her.  The “good stuff,” her presence has already arrived.

Yet, refusing to be confined and defined by a physical body is hard. I fall so easily into thinking I end at my skin.  This perception shapes my reality, how I feel, how I experience most everything in my day. I touch my arm, a full stop.  I don’t go through an energy body to the desk. Both my fingers and this key board look and feel wonderfully solid; as do people walking by this window.  In fact, it is greatly comforting. In truth, I am not too eager to give “solid” up.

However, maybe I need to give up my comforts of seeing and experiencing reality as physical.  My cousin’s essence, her energy/spirit body certainly arrived before her physical body. I look up from this writing and see others in this library as solid and defined by their solidness, what they wear, their age, etc. A lie to who they really are.  Going for “the good stuff”, knowing physical reality is "one large sea of undulating energy." is becoming more of a responsibility. 

 * A paraphrase… 

photo source:

Monday, January 28, 2013

aliveness waits...

aliveness waits...
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitable earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)   e.e. cummings
I have had the flu for three weeks: sore muscles, fever, cough, etc. Like an intruder, this lifeless existence followed me to kitchen, desk, and living room – everywhere. I felt no joy, aliveness, or spirit. Certainly nothing e.e. cummings was writing about. Various experiences in my life – loss, failure, periods of bad days, negative thinking patterns, and grief have intruded for much longer periods.

Last week the flu left.  The feeling of aliveness, vitality, and the magic in the ordinary were waiting.  The difference of feeling between the two states shocked me. Gratitude flooded in. For two or three days I kept repeating, “I who was dead am alive again today, it is the sun’s birthday, the birthday of life, love, and wings.”

I know the body wants to heal itself. Something breathed this aliveness into my grey existence. I also know something beats my heart, I cannot do that. Something breaths me, I can’t hold my breath for long. Some great love, some great lover, and an essential natural self always waits and always beats.

*photo source: