I had a quick few minutes just now, between work and minding my toddler. Told myself, "Hey, it's not ideal, but pop in your earplugs and let fingers loose over the keyboard." I didn't take time to find the earplugs, btw. But three minutes later, here it is...
And what is there to say except that Life is found in grains of sand...
Life is found in snowy footprints washed away by springtime rains...
LIfe is found is forgotten laughter and undiscovered tears...
Life is found in the letters we spin to share stories, to chant poetry, to thread the needles of those finely tended words we tell each other on the darkest of nights...
Life is what happens when we notice and when we do not,
when we are hopeful and when we despair,
when we reach hands and when we pocket our generosity and poise ourselves on the brink of our own deliverance --- and turn and walk away.
This haven called Earth is a playground.
And a prison.
And a temple.
And an inferno.
And a paradise.
And all possibility lain before us like a dreamscape, open and unending.
Walk with care. Walk without. But walk. You don't want to miss this.
I am not a manufactured writer. I'm not someone who chose to write because I have some specific point I want to make, or even because I have some particular story I want to tell. I am a writer simply because it's who I am. It's my nature. In fact, it's one of the most important facets about me.
((I urgently needed to share this tonight.))
As I wrote on the "Novels" page of this website...
'I am like a scribe, most of the time. A navigator perhaps, directing the course as a tale weaves its way through my heart, my thoughts, my pen. Rarely do I liken myself to the one in charge... Stories, it seems, already exist somewhere -swirling out there in the ether, just beyond. My place as the writer is simply to listen, to be aware enough to tune in. And then to have the strength and the willingness (and the courage) to translate authentically & jot it all down.'
More on the subject to come... Meanwhile, see one of my recent poems below...
and the rains came down
as had been foretold
and I took heed as I knew
for there were messages
in the raindrops
and syllables in the wind
if only I took moments to listen
and fair time to learn the language
The theme of my novel "The Locket" is simple and complex, all at the same time. There are layers to it, and I believe different readers discover and savor it in varying ways. That's wonderful to me, as the author... because I believe a dynamic theme is integral to a well-written work of literature.
Have you read "The Locket"? What would you identify as the theme? (Always feel free to email me btw, with any comments you may have!)
My interpretation is that the theme of this novel is the unraveling of Grief. The idea that Grief can be passed along, and passed down, is an important facet of this. -That it can be passed down silently, and insidiously, magnifies its force and the consequences it may have.
Sometimes, Grief is an underlying theme in our lives that we remain unaware of; sometimes it meets us head-on with the snarl of an angry monster. I believe that more often than not, it is in fact quietly lurking... maybe even in our ancestral memory; in our DNA...
The story of "The Locket" touches on this, but of course the book only covers the span of three generations. That was a choice I made, in keeping the novel to a particular length and providing the opportunity for us, as readers, to focus in keenly without the distractions of a broader storyline.
I don't mean to say that Grief is either a silent menace or a monstrous one. To the contrary, I believe Grief is a companion. One we usually do not beckon, but one we all must learn to acquaint ourselves with. Befriending Grief, I think, is ultimately a more fulfilling experience than to combat it. Making peace with Grief, though not easy, is for me the way to greater self-awareness, higher calm and often a re-emergence of Purposefulness and Love.
I am writing another novel with a theme similar to that of "The Locket." It is not the second book in a series, per se, but the two works are related at their core. This next novel takes a peek at the web of Shame. Again, insidious, and usually quite silent. I have come to know Shame intimately throughout my life. In fact I have a Shame Dragon who visits me from time to time. I used to try and smash through that feeling -with desperate swinging punches and try my damndest to threaten or con it away. But it always came back. Always. It took a while but eventually I found that my Shame Dragon needed to be witnessed and to be tenderly acknowledged. After sitting with her a long while I found that, after embracing and befriending her, only then could she be transformed into a new emotion.
And my new novel, thematically, is based on Shame. The way it has tentacle-like reach through our own lives and can wriggle its way from person to person... It can be contagious, like a disease. It can be passed down, like a gene. It can be ignored, and so grow bigger, like a cyst. And it can be whispered, like a sacred call, into the darkness. It can, if we so allow it, lead us Home.
These days, I don't find myself able to create much time to write. Hopefully I'll figure out how to manifest a shift with that soon. Very soon. And when this next novel is published, I'll certainly share its title and links. Be well, Kindred Spirits-
I was visited again by the dream last night. The one where the perpetrator comes. Where I lose my voice and can't say no. Where the laryngitis sets in and I can barely speak at all; barely utter a sound except a garbled, gritty moan which somehow, midst everything, leads to a feeling of shame... Where my body doesn't respond to my thought-commands and I can't move, and it's nearly impossible to writhe out from under and away.
It's been a very long time since this dream has found me. I take it as a sign that yes, indeed, the stresses of 2020 have finally touched me too in ways that are seeping in to the subconscious and trickling through to my heart and soul.
I thought about posting this dreamtime update on social media, but I did not. I've a low-drama persona there; didn't want to shock anyone. Also, it occured to me that someone in my feed would reply with something such as: 'There's help out there. And I'm sorry you're going through that." Truth is, especially in my twenties, I've sought out help in various forms, and most of the time it's been absolutely amazing. Life-altering. Even when it's been the kind of help that takes years to unfold, and what I really come away with is a renewed sense of patience and faith.
...What I've learned most of all from such help, however, is that I do not need and never did need to be fixed. My experiences are sacred, and they are an organic part of me. They're my story; who I am. I wouldn't know myself without my scars and my beauty marks and my sharp edges. I cherish the fact that, in my own humble opinion, I'm a hero.
And the dream, when it comes... no matter how it manifests (b/c each time it's different)... I consider it a signpost of sorts. It's a reminder, though not always a gentle one, that I am feeling vulnerable. Perhaps I am stressed. Perhaps it's time to seek out help and support and a loving shoulder.
The writer in me has noted for months now that the circumstances in which we find ourselves, here in the USA in August 2020, are like Life, Magnified. They present a grand, albeit challenging and somewhat dark, opportunity. Each and every one of us -millions and millions- are living through these circumstances and experiencing them in a completely unique way. No two of us are living through the same thing. Literally. For instance, I have two daughters ages 13 and 2. I own a small business and we have a homestead in a very rural area. My experience would be vastly different if, say, my children were a bit older. Just that one tweak would change how I walk through these days of a worldwide pandemic, economic and political crises, and the subsequent ripple effects.
My point is, this time is providing us a magnifying lens through which we can choose to realize that in fact every indvidual out there is living their own story. It's more obvious now than ever, at least to most of us on the planet, yet no more true than ever. And so, if we grasp this opportunity, we can remind ourselves of this simple fact and carry it with us more consciously through to 2021 and 2022... and hopefully well beyond.
When we meet someone in the course of our day, a stranger or a friend, we can assume nothing about the journey they're taking at that particular moment. That is somewhat overwhelming yet it's also freeing. And it's true. If we are mindful of that, it offers us a clean palette of sorts from which to begin anew and offer ourselves to that interaction with no pre-set conditions or misperceptions or judgments. You, seeing me today, would have no idea that the dream had visited me last night; you'd have no idea the ramifications or the way it might have triggered or inspired me...
And so, Life Magnified. An idea, I guess... a reminder... about how we can choose to co-create with others on our path at any given moment, in any given time.
On a related note... I remember being three and four and five years old, and having incredibly vivid dreams of being murdered. Over and over and over. Some people claim you never actually die in your dreams, but I did. Again and again and again. I was stalked, hunted, killed. I was executed. Repeatedly. One might read into that that something dreadful must have happened to me as a very young child. Did it? Or were the dreams simply born of my wild imagination? Past life experiences?... Indeed, meeting me today, you might not have an inkling at all what steps have brought me to the place on which I stand, in this moment, at this time. Life, Magnified. In all its mysteriousness, in all its incredible scope, in all its simple snapshot moments strung together like intricate beadwork. -Not quite explicable, somehow, yet extraordinary to ponder.
I have a friend who is an intuitive, and she spoke of the Earth changes to me about fifteen years ago. I interpreted them as tumultuousness with climate change issues, and political goings-on. I didn't read between the lines; I didn't anticipate a pandemic.
Yet many years ago (nearly 20, though that's hard to believe) when my partner and I moved to Asheville NC, we often said how it made sense to us to buy a little cabin on the river. Secluded, quite easy to convert to be off the grid... with access to water and, with a generator, able to sustain us fairly easily. We grew a garden, we created a little homestead in the modern sense. Occasionally the subject came up that if times got really strange, people might drive up from Atlanta or south from the Mid-Atlantic, and proceed to over-run this little haven nestled between the mountains as they sought out safety... But we thought -even so- we'd stay fairly secluded, there on our pristine river down in the hollow, along an old wagon trail dirt road that few even knew existed.
But in 2019 we chose to pick up and move. We headed to Vermont, one of my karmic centers from way back. (I have family roots here that go back to the Revolutionary War... and back a full ten generations in New England as well as in eastern Canada.) So I've always pined after the Northeast. Finally, my partner agreed.
It's been a really big move. Rural Vermont is a drastic change, even from our small cabin in the woods on the river in the wedge of the mountains of North Carolina. I have extended family here, but no one very close... and my partner and I have two young daughters and a small business. Unpacking, preparing for winter, keeping up with the necessities of parenting, and moving the business as well - it was all we had time for from the late summer of 2019 and through the colder months. Just as we were planning to venture out to a local social group of larger scale, the announcement of quarantine was made, in March 2020. Home-bound we were.
I feel like the circumstances surrounding the pandemic and the political goings-on in America right now are being experienced differently by every single person in this country. Some of us struggle with paying our bills, or dealing with home-schooling our children, or figuring out new family dynamics generally, or feeling out of control, or wondering what is real and what is overdramatized, or worrying about the future, or trying not to gain weight... Some of us have made the most of the situation and are finding innovative ways to make money, or utilize time at home for projects and hobbies and relaxation, or are cooking more than ever and experimenting with healthier choices... Some of us are protesting. Again and again and for many diverse reasons. Some of us are fighting for our lives. Some of us are dying.
It is a rich time to be a writer. To be an observer. To bear witness. Yet each of us must realize, in such an unprecedented time, that we can not simply be a witness. We must be much more than that: participant, hero, cheerleader, orator, innovator, problem-solver, leader, adventurer, peacemaker, citizen. There are so many tags to list I can't even pretend to capture them all here with my keyboard.
And it's a mind-game, isn't it?? What is real, whose experience is most valid...? Daily life seems to continue on my social media feeds, and certainly here in my own house... yet out there -out there- the experiences people are creating for themselves are vastly different than my own.
For me personally, finding time to write gets pushed down the priority list. Even with long days here at home, the chores add up, the toddler needs tending, the company needs to be kept afloat, sleep needs to be had because the weight of these times is so unfamiliar; so foggy, moments to meditate and offer peace to the world must be found... The necessities of being a member of a family and extended family community, along with being an informed citizen, take precedence.
This is like Life, magnified. Because we each live such a diversified existence. Yet when things are "normal", we can overlook that and go about our days forgetting such is truth.
Hmm... Circles back to the spiritual reckonings, the knowing that we all manifest our own journey... And if we are wise, the knowing that we each will be well served if we take responsibility for that journey and grab hold fiercely; command it gently; find our own path at the same time we know that it unveils itself before us, one cobblestone at a time. The stepping stones are already there: we created each one but a moment ago.
Sounds like my fables are calling... And so, to my pen I must go.
As you may have gleaned from reading through my website, I find it nourishing, rewarding and exciting to participate in the artistic process in many different ways. In my mid-twenties, a friend suggested I model for an art class. So glad I did! Yes, in college I had sketched nudes... As a writer, I rather pride myself on trimming down the essence of my characters until they're virtually naked before you, the reader, so that you can completely understand their motivations and experiences.
But being on the other side of the creative process was, in many ways, a new thing for me. And I was nervous of course, primarily because I wasn't sure I would come up with enough interesting poses that would offer the artists enough inspiration. But I guess it worked out okay; the group invited me back and their finished works left me breathless. It was incredible to see myself -or reflections of myself- set there on paper, on canvas, in ink, in charcoal, in paint, in clay... Through others' eyes, and others' hands, I was captured and set forth in a brand new way unto the world.
Artistic skills can be mechanical, or repetitive, or academic. They can be polished, exercised, made more or less unique. There are endless adjectives and verbs to describe the dynamics of "Art" as we attempt to understand it. But for me, in a brief sentence: The circle of creativity is a sacred process. And to engage in all aspects of that process -by finding myself at times the artist, at times the subject, at times the muse- it is somehow a completion of that awe inspiring cycle.
After the first time I modeled, I asked one of the artists if I might buy her work. She agreed, despite my nervousness in putting forth so bold a request. I'm so glad - this portrait is a piece I've treasured ever since.
Today on our little homestead we lost a baby chick. Always hard for all of us. The event reminded me of a piece of free writing I did three years ago. As I wrote it, I was imagining my daughter as the writer of the passage... in the future, grown. Let me know what you think-
My mother buried so many animals up in our tangled woods, on the bank by our pond, out in the grassy area past the sheds... After she herself died, I would see the shadow of her sometimes heading up the fern-lined bank with that old shovel in her hand. She wasn't smiling, but there was a peacefulness about her. This was her place.
In life, she never understood why so many animals came to her to share those moments of Death. It broke her heart. Nonetheless, she bore witness. She was a steward to them, cradling them, talking to them, offering Love.
I didn't understand either. Not until now. Not until she too had passed on...
Each one -each mouse, raccoon, opossum, hummingbird, pigeon, chicken, rabbit, grouse, squirrel, fox, duck, chicken, dog or cat - had been the closing of a chapter, nothing other. A sacred transition. To our human heart, jarring. But perhaps not so in other realms.
Today, I am a little sobered to think that it continues to be some part of my mother's work to carry a shovel, and lay to rest those quiet souls who have ventured on. But I'm guessing it is a sacred purpose, and some part of her spirit will ever companion others at such important moments, now and forever eternal.
Others who I've known do not come by their sacred purpose easily. Some do not even recognize the need within themselves to identify it. In this realization, I find comfort about the work of my mother. In this realization, I too find a new peacefulness.
Her friend, Mason, I heard once tried to explain it to her, after a terrible moment in time when three baby bunnies died in her keep: "A thought comes to me," he told her, "may I share it? ...That care you give, to the animals, it may sound harsh but it doesn't matter whether they reach maturity or not while in your keep. It doesn't matter whether or not they pass on. What matters is that you are building bridges, between humans and animals... bridges that have for a long time been forgotten or broken down, or overlooked. You are rebuilding them. The love you offer those animals, in the times that you share with them, that is truly all that matters. That is the essence that transcends, lives on, creates the building blocks of those bridges that are taking us, as humans, to a new place of connection with all of them, the animals. It's like you are returning us to who we are. And it is the love that is the bridge, nothing more, nothing less. It is simply the love. You are a healer and a messenger, and God blesses what you do."
Love. During those altering, sometimes fearful, moments, it may be all we can offer. And my mother knew that. Perhaps so many animals died while with her, because it was then their place to take that Love to the next realm; to carry it forward and send the message on.
Toting her shovel, on those difficult days, my mother may not have ever smiled. But I can do so now, on her behalf. Peace to you too, Mom. Peace to you, too.
Can you guess who wrote this one? I absolutely love it; it rings true in so many ways, on so many levels...
"The years of anxious searching in the dark, with their intense longing, their intense alternations of confidence and exhaustion and the final emergence into the light—only those who have experienced it can understand it."
-I will reveal the author in another blog post soon to come... Enjoy savoring the many meanings!