Monday, December 31, 2012

The Universe Closes its Door to 2012 - Sat Chit Ananda

As the universe closes its own chapter on this year, I look at all it has done.  We all have great expectations of this world we live in.  We end up placing huge expectations upon ourselves at the start of each year and if we don't achieve those expectation, we fall back on the universe in blame.

I lost my job because of....  I broke up with so and so because of...  I was passed over for a promotion because of.. and so on and so on.  We blame everything else in this universe but ourselves.  I have done it myself.  It is hard looking within at our own foibles and lack.  But then again, we are looking at ourselves and the world with our egos which aren't really us to begin with.

This grand universe that allows us to live within, giving us air to breathe, land to live on, food to sustain us.  It asks nothing in return except acknowledgement of its existence.  We are all one within it, this massive collective conscious.

Imagine if this entire universal collective looked towards this new chapter in 2013 with only the expectation of love given outwards, beyond ourselves.  Imagine the moment at the stroke of midnight if we were all to hold it in pure love, pure bliss, pure existence.  Sat Chit Ananda.  This warm embrace of love would be glorious if only for that one moment.

Sat Chit Ananda is the Sanskrit phrase for truth or love, consciousness, bliss.  It is always there for us. When the mind unwinds and becomes calmer, Bliss, Love and Happiness naturally arise.  Imagine living this always.

All of the troubles, pains, fears, hatred that enveloped the world this past year;  all those that were let down, broken down, broken apart (me included); let them go this night, for good.  If all of that pain was embraced, loved unconditionally as we let it go and send it on it's way, imagine the peace that would follow.  The empty space left behind would be available for goodness to refill it.  We would allow Sat Chit Ananda to be revealed as it is always here with us.

My wish for myself and the universe is that unconditional love that heals the heart, heals the world. Imagine yourself within it now and always.  May this new chapter open you to infinite possibilities, dipped in love.  Peace.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Connecting to the Power and Breath of a New Year

As I leave this year behind me, with its' positives and negatives, all vying for a place in my life, I choose to enter 2013 with nothing but a wink to the past and the love of potentiality.  I give thanks to all of the ups and downs, all the gifts of truths and consequences, all the people lost and found, and I breathe deeply into the possibility of infinite love and my own power.  I have no control over anything else.

I cannot control or even guide the thoughts or events of this past year that I would love to see change.  They are not mine to change, only to accept and love for the lessons they provided.  I forgive all those who have hurt me intentionally or not.   Though they may or may not be in my life currently, I need to let go of the hold they have on me.  They can no longer hold me in a place that doesn't fit me anymore.  As I let go of the grip that those events had on me, I am free to put that energy to loving the present and the gifts it holds.

I will wake with a new breath tomorrow and breathe in new air, new life and all the potential that has always been there, always been waiting for me to tap into, sighing, "It's about time you noticed!"

I've given up on what doesn't work and acknowledged I don't necessarily know what works now, but I ask that the universe show me what will.  The nothingness I feel today holds lifetimes of potentials within, bursting at the seams to get out and breathe in that new air and become my miracle; become me, whoever me is in the fresh air of a new year.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Windmills and Spirals of a New Beginning

In my continued fascination with spirals, I was looking at one that was spinning.  You know, the kind you see when someone is trying to hypnotize you?   It represents continual change and evolution and the interconnectedness of all things.

As we passed December 21, 2012, which was to be the last day of life as we know it and not necessarily the end of the world, because we are still here, I look to what that new world  might look like.  In terms of rebirth or growth, the spiral symbol can represent the consciousness of nature beginning from the core or center and thus expanding outwardly. Or you can look at it as outward information coming in to the core of your being.  I read this yesterday about this kind of spiral movement:

And when one contemplates such an infinitely regressing movement one begins to appreciate that the words 'first movement' doesn't even begin to express the beginning - that it's all an endless beginning - it's all a one act play - an infinitely recursive and enfolding one act play. Thus the 'first movement' is everywhere you look And soon you'll look up and see the same thing in every thing you look at until your view of reality begins to shift and with it meaning itself will take on a whole new meaning and on and on and on - beginnings enfolding endings which enfold another beginning until there's no more beginnings or endings and you just are. -Robert McCoy

If you look at a spiral in motion, it appears that it is moving from the outside in.  And if you look closely at the center, it appears to get larger as it spins.  Interesting if you think of the spiral as inward reflection.  As more wonderful things move in, your center becomes larger,  I think you can also say that as things move out from the center, it also leaves space to allow your inner most ideas to grow.  The inner core stays the same as the outer grows in size.   Do we actually spiral out of control or just to a place that is new and not understood quite yet?   I like to believe that December 21st was the end of the world as we know it and an opening to something quite new and even grander.   Any way you look at it, growth is always occurring, like it or not!  You can see for yourself here: 

So the same people, places, and things are always new, always beginning again.  From a different perspective.  You get to see them from all sides, angles, directions.  And sometimes, what you have been looking at for years starts looking different. So enjoy your life from all sides and angles this holiday season.

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of it's own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream.

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on it's face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Song for My Father

Family always comes to mind this time of year.  If you are lucky, it brings wonderful memories to mind.  The holidays can also bring back some forgetable memories as well.  Regardless, those that have passed on come to mind.  So I post this again as it is apropo for me at this time of the year. 12/2013

As we head full on into the holiday season, I wanted to add this story that came to me yesterday after spending the day with my family on Sunday at a tree farm cutting down our Christmas tree. Thank you for indulging me on this one. Happy holidays to everyone! (Dec. 2011)

A Song for My Dad
I saw my dad today. He was driving a tractor in a large field of Christmas trees dressed in a Santa suit. And he was smiling.

He drove by on the first pick up and said there was no room this go around but he would be back shortly. I could have sworn I caught a glimpse of that sparkle in his eyes, the one long lost to pain and dashed dreams. His heart was so big and so open. It was an easy target for the cruelty that life can impose. 

Always quiet, and contemplative, he was a guy who could draw Donald Duck in 8 seconds flat, who drew 1950’s pin up girls with the same ease and beauty as it was for me to create a fresh floral design from a few cut flowers and greens. He could play Claire de Lune by heart on piano or organ, and apparently act in plays, something that was never known to anyone until he reminisced it to me 3 days before he died.

He was a man who was 5’11”, weighed 230 lbs at his skinniest, barely finished high school, was a paper hanger, painter, a natural artist who designed and built both of our family houses. This was a man with hands the size of frying pans who didn’t need gloves to clean the ice and snow off of car windows, whose pranks included using manure to make a small explosive that blew the mailbox off of a neighbor’s house because Dad was miffed about something he couldn’t quite remember; he was a very broad shouldered brute of a guy who could lift a full grown man over his head, which he did, during a party and “accidentally” dropped him and broke the man’s back. Which subsequently ended the party. Dad felt awful about the accident, but remained friends with the guy.

This gentle giant donned a Santa suit every Christmas for my sis and I during our toddler years. His own mother would plop into his lap each season and they both would hoot and holler with laughter for the 8MM camera.  Me and sis would watch those tiny grainy reels over and over in the coming years. I don't know if we knew what we were looking for in those home movies, but whatever it was, it brought joy for those rare moments.  When Grams died, Christmas ended at her house and we never saw Dad's side of the family again. That loss took the  glimmer from his eyes and his goodness was subsequently drowned in the drink.

This was a man who never cried, who only winced and yelled obscenities into the air after driving a 3” nail into his knee while breaking boards in half for firewood.  This man, who in his frustration with his wife and family, chose my cousin over me for his new daughter; he didn’t speak to me for 4 years for a myriad of reasons. He could be cold as ice on the outside, but cried soft tears and hugged me tightly after I told him I was finally pregnant after years of infertility.

He wore that red suit a few more years for my one brother, but it never made it to my youngest brother’s Christmases. Some years down the road, we got him to put it on for my young nephew. Sis and I got the job of dressing him and we laughed until we cried as we attempted to stuff him into the too small well-worn suit. I saw that glimmer find its way out of the darkness that night if only for that short moment.

The last time I saw that glimmer, a faint sparkle, the one that I now see in my younger son’s eyes, was after I had the nurse dose him up on morphine.

 “If we give him any more, his heart might stop.”
“He’s dying, for Christ’s sake! And he’s in pain! Give it to him now!"

I was with him at his diagnosis,  drove him home that day and begged him to take one more trip to Greece, the place his heart belonged to and missed.  I was the one who researched stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was told by a trusted friend and surgeon to tell Dad to get a great bottle of bourbon and a good cigar and head to the beach to enjoy the very short time he had left.

“If you want to go, Dad, we’ll make it happen. Someone will travel with you. But you
have to go now. There isn’t time…..”

It was me who said no to the treatments, “What for? He only has a few months to live, let him be happy in his final days.”

He was silent during that initial conversation with the doctor who delivered the fateful diagnosis. He was silent on the way home that day. He was silent during our conversation, my questions of what he was thinking, what did he want to do, did he want to go to Greece.

He did hear me that day, though, and asked the oncologist a few days later if it would be possible to travel. My heart beamed but was quickly silenced when the rest of the family said no, he was to stay and allow the doctors to concoct their chemo cocktails for him.  It was me, who was dismissed as wanting him to die, for saying no to experimental treatments that are only a playground for unrelenting oncologists.

“We can beat this thing, Dad.” was the fear coming from everyone else at that appointment.
And my heart broke as I watched him relent.

So he never went to his beloved Greece again and the only beach he saw was in a painting on the wall of his hospital room those last two days. He seemed lost in that painting his last morning, as if he was already there.

With his pain finally under some semblance of control, I sat with him after the others had gone for coffee.  He told my husband I was crazy after I asked him how he was feeling.  I saw a glimpse of his sparkle as it snuck out from under the thick blanket of morphine. I smiled and knew at that moment that we had made peace with each other, after years of struggles and heartbreaks.  He died the next afternoon.

So it warmed my heart when I saw him today. The gentle giant that was silenced during his lifetime, was driving an old farm tractor, smiling, eyes sparkling, dressed in a Santa suit.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In Transition

I was at a monthly Meetup group this week and of course, we all gave our 30-second elevator speech of who we are, yada yada…  Me:  I am so and so and my business is In Transition.  Ooh!  What’s that? What does your business do?  And sheepishly I say, nothing.  I am IN transition.  Meaning:  I am not working right now.
It’s hard to own this.  Why?  Because I have always worked.  Work defined me.  What defines me now?  Why can’t I enthusiastically announce to the world that I am not working and damn it, it’s okay?  At least for the moment.  Why CAN’T I be in transition?   Why can’t I take the time to figure things out?  Why must I have the answer to my life when I just don’t?

That place where nothing is happening is called the liminal stage and damn it, that is where I am right now.  I should call my business The Liminal Stage.  That sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?  My work right now is to amass information, go over the past 7 years (the number 7 means refinement – okay, so I am busy refining myself.  The number seven symbolizes God's perfection. – okay, this is pretty intense right here!) This is when we take an inventory of our life. It’s a time of spiritual questioning and review of our life purpose.  Isn’t that a full time job in itself?  I think so.  So just lay off me!  Wait, I need to lay off myself, for I am the only one badgering me to get it together already and figure out the next step.

What is this transition and who let it in?  I have spent a lifetime as a serial entrepreneur, always dreaming and working on the next thing for my growth, always overlapping my work, never a break in between.

My business is Liminal Transitions.  That sounds even better.  It sounds business-like, right? Authentic.  What do you do? I sit in the nothingness while all the pieces of me banter and fret and cajole their way into creating the next me.  They will let me know when the work is done.  My business is to not get in the way with worry and negative thoughts.  My job is easy in all this.  I just sit still in the silence, in the quiet, knowing that within that quiet, a ruckus is vamping up and soon enough will make so much noise that I will be forced to engage in something.

The wait is agonizing.  All I do is feed the ideas and wait, like a mother with her newborn.  Eat and sleep.  Eat and sleep.  And grow.  And grow.

I can’t do this much longer.

But I can feel the growth.  There are the growing pains that come with working through the blockages, breaking loose the long held self-defeating voices of long ago.  I AM! I AM, I cry within.  I, who fights everything, must be still while this raging goes on within.  This is excruciating for someone who has never sat still for anything; the person who’s monkey brain has grown to gorilla brain; no, King Kong brain.  How do you keep King Kong quieted?  You can’t, of course.

And so I sit, feeding this silent activity, resting and waiting for that moment when I burst forth, full speed ahead.  Again.  Oh, it will be grand, that is certain.  My biggest thing ever, whatever that is.  I am not done yet.

I am Transition.  A work in progress.  Not yet defined.  But magnificent.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And So It Is Ended

“Na, we’re just going to stay home,” was his answer to her invite for Christmas dinner and with that she knew it was over.  He was the final reconnaissance mission tactic to pull the rest of them together.  Only with this one brother’s compliance would a possibility exist for them all to come together, try to find a way through all the muck, the layers of scars, the anger that had expanded far beyond their abilities to see if there was any heart left between them to forge a path to a mend.

With that one apathetic response, she saw the door slam shut on the family she didn’t really like much but desperately sought to find a way back to loving them.  It wasn’t her fault.  It wasn’t any of their faults.  They were given no fertile ground with which to grow from.  It was the fault of two people, parents now gone from their lives.  But she knew she was too old now to keep blaming her parents, they who had no idea what they were passing along.

But it wasn’t blame that was screaming at her now.  It was the anguish in knowing her history would not be remembered or shared with those who had lived it with her.  They wouldn’t share either the joys or sorrows of her life.  They wouldn’t know her children’s spouses or their children.  Would they even know if she passed on?

Two people so caught in their own disquiet, created an aura of turmoil, disregard, indifference and lovelessness in which four children raised themselves, constantly stepping over one another, pushing each other out of the way, in search of that elusive parental recognition that never came. The costs were great.

She had asked her own family their thoughts on inviting their aunts and uncles to Christmas dinner.  “Why would you put yourself through that again?” her children asked.  But they had no idea why she needed this, a recognition of having lived a life, of being a daughter, a sister; the need for someone to bear witness to the stories of her early life. Her children didn’t need to know those stories she finally decided.  What isn’t known cannot be repeated.  No one would accept the invitation anyway.  And so it was ended.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Do one thing every day that scares you, the large billboard demands of me each day I travel past it going east to the city.  So I think philosophically about all of my fears that could be addressed every day.  If I did that from now on, they would all cease to frighten me anymore, right?

Today I came to the spiritual awakening that each day I already do engage in facing something that scares me.  Each morning I face my greatest fear.  I peer into the mirror and scare the shit out of myself.

I’ve tried to overcome the old age issue, confronting this inevitability with comments to myself like, “I don’t feel at all my age”, or “I’m aging like a fine wine”, or “but I have so much wisdom to share now that I am older.”

I am so tired of hearing about how I am aging so gracefully.  What the hell does that even mean?  That I am walking (running is what it feels like!) into my golden years without tripping and falling flat on my face? (Which wouldn’t be so bad actually.  A fall might require some plastic surgery to fix, thereby giving me the opportunity to replace the old parts with brand new youthful parts.)

There is nothing graceful about aging.  Each morning, something is new, all right, but not necessarily desired.  The lush, thick mane that was my calling card has turned to dry, thin wisps that don’t like to stay attached to my scalp anymore.  Their preference is to now grow out of my chin, or I may find one of them growing out of my cheek, two inches long before I actually see it and run for the tweezers.  How do they grow so fast in these new places but have stopped growing on my head?

The tweezers has now become my favorite beauty tool.  Heaven forbid I forget to pack it on vacation.  Lord knows the vandyke that would return with me after a week of tweezerless mornings!

The dark patches on my cheeks greet me every morning, reminders of the “I told you so” warnings of youth that I neglected to heed when heading to the beach each summer morning with only baby oil and a foil covered album cover in my beach bag.

And then I see my mother’s family genetics greet me each morning in the deep grooves forming next to my nose heading south to meet up with those familial jowls I would always flick at and joke about on my aunts’ faces, them swearing at me with the same comment under their breath each time, “just wait till you get my age, Vreh Dia-vel-os (you devil).”

I attended a Brent Baum lecture about living in the present.   Good.  Maybe I can forget or stuff the memory of my youthful beauty, stop worrying about the downward spiral that my body is literally taking, as I head into the future at warp speed, stop thinking about that and focus on the hear and now.

Then I heard the words out of his mouth.  The traumas of the past can be redefined and your health and vitality can be returned to you (or something to that effect – this is what I ascertained from the talk) and I grabbed that thought, ran home, and began the process to turn back the clock that was ticking fast and furious in my face and body.

Could I redefine the lupus that had taken my hair?  How about the trauma that had reshaped my inflamed and arthritic knees and aching back?  Surely there were old traumas I could come up with to match the disasters that had redefined the activity and course that my old body had taken in the last few years!

At this point, you find yourself on personal quests to make amends for all of your youthful escapades.  Why didn’t I heed the warnings of my youth?  For the same reason my own children don’t listen to my warnings.  Invincibility.

So I found myself praying to anyone out there who will listen, apologizing, asking forgiveness for all of my transgressions, anything that has led me to this person I cast my gaze upon in the mirror.

I have never succumbed to the calling of youth regained by means of injecting plastic into my body.  There are enough pictures out there of irreversible plastic surgeries leaving permanent Joker grimaces and wax museum replicas walking around town.  I’ve seen botched boob jobs that age and droop exactly the same way as my “normal” old saggy boobs, uglier instead as now they are large, hard softballs bouncing off of bloated bellies, instead of the expected deflated fried eggs.  What is worse, I ask?

No, that expense and continued addiction to upgrades doesn’t end and I would rather watch the slower aging process creep my way than become a carved wax figure straight out of Madame Tussaud’s collection.

I have realized that the fear does lessen each day in front of the mirror.  This inevitable aging happens slowly, thankfully, giving me time to get used to my thickening beard and thinning hair.  The fear lessens as I accept the loss of youth and embrace the growing wisdom that replaces it and will (hopefully) take me into my golden years wrapped in peace and acceptance.

Living in the present requires these daily viewings.  And if the fears do lessen so much that I find myself needing a jolt to jumpstart me back to the action of facing something each day that scares me and getting past it, I will just turn the bright lights on the magnifying mirror and really scare the crap out of myself, which will then get my blood pumping, which is actually good for the body and circulation, right?  Oh, here I go again….

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Greatest Reward

Today this quote is especially poignant.  Attaching yourself to something larger than yourself, that has the potential to grow and live beyond you, beyond your life, beyond your greatest expectations, is well worth fighting and working for.  No monetary reward can ever come close to the unmeasurable reward of realizing your truth, your potential.

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential. - Barack Obama

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Conversations about Witches

I co-wrote and performed this piece last year at a show called She Comes Undone, outside  Chicago.  The indented poetry is from a poem called Living With Witches by Al DeGenova.

The conversation came up recently about owning and loving all of our inner demons.  They are part of us, part of who we are, who we are becoming and they should be accepted and loved for what they taught us.  So that we may live together in harmony without ourselves. 

Conversations About  Witches
I’m 18 years old.  Dad’s angry again. A dish whizzes by my head with no warning, no expletives and I duck just in time.  Saving yourself requires more these days.

He says “You have no friends. No one cares about you.  Who do you think you are?”

And quietly, at the sink, washing the dinner dishes, I reply, “ Yes, I DO have friends who care for me.” But the shattered dish on the cabinet next to my head reminds me to never speak my mind, hold that tongue.

I am always wrong, they tell me.  They bore me so they MUST know better than I.  So I retreat to my 10X10 room, with a door that doesn’t lock, the only safe haven, and write songs. 

I’ve stepped into an alcoholic rage once again – to a fist raised on Ma and my pregnant sister.  An angry cry comes forth from a place I have not yet come to know.  I hear myself scream, “Don’t you dare!”  And I feel the whoosh as his fist strikes the air next to me.

I cry when you're crazy
when you scream in my face
when you can't smile
when everywhere is a room without doors
that, by necessity, was built from the inside out
but there is no out.
"you look in the mirror, see what you saw, take the saw and cut your way out." 
The answer to a childhood riddle, simple,
all a matter of your point of view.
But you
always see the glass half empty.

I see the same glass nearly spilling over
and I cry when you're crazy.

            * * * * *

I can’t wait to go to bed at night.  I try to stay awake as long as I can so I can imagine and dream.  I dream of being saved by John Travolta, Robert Redford or Paul McCartney, who I was supposed to marry.  They have come to my rescue time and time again no matter what obstacles I place in front of them.

But I can’t stay awake and I fall asleep and dream of the man in black, who is always waiting for me in the dark.  I run from him, but I can’t seem to move my legs and my screams are never heard.  He always hurts those I love.  I watch in horror knowing that I am saved for last.  It is not safe in the waking or sleeping hours.

I believe the good witch of Idyllwild
who sold me faerie dust to lighten the heart
happiness to sprinkle on your pillow.
Sweet dreams.

And if the happy dreams don't come
I hold you through your nightmares.

            * * * * *

They missed my high school graduation.  They missed my plays, my basketball games, my broken hearts and dashed dreams.

My little brother chased my dog into oncoming traffic hours before The Miss Illinois contest which they were late to and missed my talent competition.  My lips trembled all night forcing a smile.  “What are you crying about?  It was just a damn mutt.”

My mother and my aunts told me I had to take care of my older sister all the time.  But who will take care of me? 

Dad said, “You don’t need college.  You’re just going to get married.”
“But you paid for the others’ schooling.”  So I worked.  And on the coldest day of the decade, you refused to drive me “all the way downtown!” to work and dropped me at the train because my car froze.

I came home for lunch from work to an empty house one day and decided to try Dad’s Tab and scotch cocktail so I would drive into a tree on the way back.  I vomited instead.

Having no other place to go after a bad fight with my husband, I took our son and went back home.   Ma came home to find me and giggled about our argument.  "See, I told you he didn’t love you." she said…

There is the selfish witch of Morton Grove
who stole your childhood
greedy thief in mother's clothing.

The woman who bore you and forgot the pain
who cannot tell you whether you had measles or chicken pox
and doesn't care.

The woman who had no use for a second daughter.
Useless you, never good enough, insignificant.

The woman who taught you to cry without sobbing
without a sound, without movement
tear tracks line your cheeks like scars
you hide your sadness with uncanny skill.

This is the witch jealous of your successes
who taught you that your glass is always half empty.

            * * * * *

I am 6 years old and it is the first day of school. First grade and I wanted to wear the outfit I chose.  Ma insisted I wear what she wanted and of course, I fought about it.  “Please”, I pleaded.  Then “I won’t wear it.  You can’t make me!”

Yes she could, as she raised her open hand to me.  I continued to fight but I was too small and the welts stopped me in my tracks.  She won, I lost.

I am 10 years old.  One summer morning and I’ve done something wrong.  A battle was waged and I lost again.  “Just wait till your father comes home.”  Dad woke me up to hit me late that night.  I had forgotten the incident already and asked, “What did I do?”  “Your mother told me to punish you for this morning.”  He didn’t even know what I did.  He was just following orders.

“God Damn It!  I love you!” Dad said as the welts on my skin began raising and reddening after his rage had subsided.   And I was thinking, “Please, DON’T love me.” 

Then there is the unseeing witch of the world
who sews a costume you must wear
but doesn't fit you well.
You squeeze your breasts
your hips, stretch your arms
and legs, cover your face.
This woman's suit twists you
forces you to limp and hurts
hurts deep into your muscles
deep into the part of you that will always fight
but you cannot shed the clothes of your role.
You pull and tear, contortionist in a straightjacket
struggling to escape
to strip naked
to be woman that you are for all to see your beauty and imperfection
struggling not to succumb
not to be shrivelled, numb, faceless.

            * * * * *

I asked Ma and Dad to our house.  I needed their help.  My despair had reached its lowest point.  My therapist said don’t do it.  She knew better but I did it anyway.  I was desperate for their help.  “Listen to me!  I need you to hear me!  Suicide IS an option now.  Please, I am dying.”

They stared at me, silent, unable to accept their role in my life.  And denied me.  They left and soon after, disowned me, quickly closing the void left from my removal.  I had no family now.  I was alone.

There is also the relentless, brutal witch of guilt
sadistic sitting on your shoulder
who cuts notches in your ribs
for each mistake, every weakness
pummelling your self-esteem
forcing you to bruise yourself
whipping your own heart
blaming yourself
for the sharp cruelty of the predators
preying on your vulnerability.

The witch who teaches the words,
"I am unworthy,"
"I cannot know happy."

And I cry
knowing you are good,
sweet lamb.

            * * * * *

I wrote the notes.  Many notes.  How do you explain to your children that you can no longer hear their voices, see their faces.  I felt nothing.  I was nothing.

The grief was intolerable as war raged from my insides out.  My world was grey.  Living was no longer an option.  What words does a 7 year old understand in a suicide letter?  I was abandoning them.  They will hate me.  I wrote the notes, every day.

And then there is the unforgiving witch within
dressed in depression
who drains your life like a vampire
like a virus
until you are empty.
She is the powerful witch
strength like God
who leads you to Hell
or worse, Limbo
where nothing is all there is
who steals your eyes and ears
so that visions of
summer sun-showers and
sunsets on California beaches
and the sound of your son's laughter
are silent blackness

And I cry for you
when you're crazy.

            * * * * *

But do not fear the love witch
in me in you in our son
in our unborn child.
This witch, barred from your youth,
you watch from the corner of your eye through a smokey cloud of mistrust.
This witch is hope.

This gentle witch who with subtle gestures
can guide your hands, your eyes,
your heart
who can teach you to
live with witches.

The witch who makes me sing encouragement
undying faith in your strength
like a cheerleader at the close of a crucial game

the game you must win.

The witch who keeps me crying
arms around you when you're crazy.                                                  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Egg Juice

You offered me your leftover “egg juice” long after I had finished my breakfast, half a bagel and one soft boiled egg.  It was cold by now and I had nothing left to soak the juice up with.  Once again, I asked you,

“Why is it that I can ration an egg perfectly so that each bite of bread has an equal amount of yolk so that there is nothing left of either when I am finished?”

It is the question I have posed to you our entire marriage.  You and our boys who learned from you this wasteful habit, eat cereal with milk and when you are finished, there is a bowlful of milk left.  I have asked my son the same question of “why do you leave so much milk behind?” and he will answer by filling the bowl with cereal again and when it is gone, there is still a bowlful of milk left.  It’s like they just needed a “dusting” of milk on the cereal in order to eat it.  I wonder why the three of them don’t just eat a dry bowl of cereal and then finish it off with a glassful of milk.  You see, I have a problem with wasting food.

My older son will always leave one last bite on his plate.  For the life of me, I have never been able to figure that one out. Maybe it has to do with avoiding starvation in my own family as we were growing up. 

Yum!  Miss you Grams!
By no means were we poor or in need of rationing food.  My father was a large German/Czech man, brought up in a family that loved to eat and drink copious amounts of food and liquor.  My paternal grandmother was a great cook.  There were homemade spaeztle and rich roasts with loads of thick gravies and butter-laden cakes and her famous kolachky cookies that are a requirement in our house every Christmas.  Grams was a robust woman and her men never left the table hungry.
our fave - Kolacky cookies!

It just so happened that my mother was not fond of eating, didn’t like food and was very cheap.  When you don’t like to eat, you impose it on your family, I suppose.  And she was happier stashing her money away in her favorite hiding places than in feeding her family.

For a while she felt it was more important to feed my father than us.  So he would get the large servings of meat and the rest of us would divvy up a small piece that was cut from dads.  We learned early on that no matter how bad it tasted, this was it for the meal, so you’d better lick your plate clean or go hungry.

She would make some of dad’s favorites so we would get stuck eating liver or fried smelts.  It didn’t matter that we had said time and time again that we hated these foods. 
“Like it or leave it” she would reply.  Unfortunately, as with liver dinners, which anyone who has delighted in this meal knows, it requires loads of saut√©ed onions and bacon, lots of bacon.

Bacon was a treat, more expensive than the liver, and therefore, had to last a couple of meals.  Mind you there were six in our household.  So she would make dad three pieces of bacon and each of us would get half a strip to go with the liver.  She did not like onions so there were no fried onions along side the bacon.

Imagine trying to match up every piece of liver on the fork with a piece of bacon.  It was more like bacon flavoring.  This is where I learned to apportion so that icky food was matched with tasty food in order to make it palatable.  It was not only icky stuff like liver, sardines or fried smelts that I learned to make palatable.  It was mostly my mother’s cooking.  Since she didn’t care for food, this making her care less about cooking it, she put no effort forth in making sure her meals were palatable.  Therefore, items you couldn’t really mess up (even though she came close), like mashed potatoes or applesauce, were rationed on the plate so each terrible bite was masked with something, anything with flavor.

And since food rationing was practiced in our household (remember, we were not poor, my mother was just cheap), us kids were forced to eat every bit or we would go hungry.  Of course, this practice lasted only long enough for me to learn how to cook.  After that, not one morsel of food cooked by my mother ever touched my lips again.  Even my father learned gourmet cooking in order to satiate his appetite.  Unfortunately, his cooking was wasted on my mother and he soon gave it up.

While there is no need for this practice in our house anymore, as food preparation is an art and flavorful meals are expected and received, you can’t fight those long ago learned survival skills.  My plate is always clean when I finish a meal.  I am an expert in portion management.  There are equal amounts of starches to a meat counterpart or milk to cereal.

So when I watched my husband throw away his “egg juice” this morning, I cringed a bit.  Had he mentioned it a bit earlier, while I still had bread for dipping, I would have appropriated a piece for this “juice.”  It won’t get by me again.  But I still don’t have an answer for the copious amounts of milk left over from my boys’ cereal bowls.  Suggestions are welcome.  As I heard so many years ago, “there are starving children in China, you know….”

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Wisdom of Baubo: She Feeds All of Her Children

The Wisdom of Baubo: She Feeds All of Her Children: The sea, Mother Sea, feeds her children.  The vultures nibbling on crab legs, alongside the seagull, who wasn’t in fear for his life as ...

She Feeds All of Her Children

The sea, Mother Sea, feeds her children.  The vultures nibbling on crab legs, alongside the seagull, who wasn’t in fear for his life as he was still among the living.  The tiny, transparent sand crabs, awakened for the first time this week, out to feast at the table the sea set after the storm.

The sand appeared to be moving, crabs scattering at any threat from beachcombers like myself.  My friendly advances mean nothing to these tiny, fragile creatures.  They stop momentarily, surveying the danger I present and as I step away, I realize I was standing to close to the creature’s burrow in the sand and I watch it scurry in to safety.

The yellow butterflies have appeared this last day of my retreat and thousands take flight today and head northwest over the ocean.

The sea offers up food for minions, an empty pink tampon holder, not something she was happy about, tossed back up high on the beach as if to warn those not to pollute her again lest fear her wrath.

A playful young couple new to her power drop a sandal.  She playfully takes it and tosses it back at them as if she would really play catch!  They scurry to grab it.  I run to grab it as well, chasing it as it bounces back to her.  I stop short of her vacuous suction, knowing I am not a worthy opponent of this strong woman, and watch as she gobbles it up, swallows it into her wide, hungry mouth.

I laugh to myself as I watch the young couple stand at the shore waiting for their shoe to return again.  You weren’t quick enough my friends.  Next time, do not tempt her so soon after the storm she waged the day before on this very shoreline.

Does she know of the tempest that resides within me?  Are we sisters in rage?  Is there a mutual respect of age and wisdom and capabilities to stir up a storm on a whim, with a thought, or provoked by a memory?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Sea Unfolds Her Arms

The sea unfolds her arms, reaching into the sand hills along the shore, offering her strength only for the moment and then retracts if the offer is not accepted.  Only to offer it again and again, a constant tease.  She pulls back; retrieving what she can from shore and greedily drags it out back to her bosom.

I stand at her feet and cry out to God in the clouds as if she really resides there and not beside me in the rocks and the grains of sand at my feet.  I shed years of fear and sadness and ask to be heard. 

I am good, I am loyal, I am faithful with a good heart!  Please hear my appeal for any sign that will help my stuck feet move again.

The sea gathers my shed tears in her long, reaching arms and draws them back to her bosom where they mix and churn within her heart.  She is in conversation with the clouds and sky.  What shall we do?  This soul cries out to us.

She offers her arms back to shore, close to my feet, not quite there, circling around me, not yet touching me and then she pulls me into her arms, picking me off my feet, knocking me to the ground. 

Get up! Move! Walk!  she pleads as she washes me with her foamy tears.  Below my feet she leaves me white shell fingernails, a thumb and index finger and a shard of obsidian, the stone of protection and tool of change, as gifts from her soul.

Up on a hill three brown men craft a sand sarcophagus.  A container for God’s tears perhaps?  Can you build a golden chalice for something that I was just bathed in?  My tears and God’s, mixed by the sea and returned to me as an embrace.  The pharaoh of Egypt could not save his son with all the gold statues and coins.  Only faith and love alone can save and heal.

Faith and love alone.  Write, the sea says.  The sky calls out to me.  Write, write.  So simple.  A word, a touch, tears from heaven.

Friday, October 19, 2012

We are Women, Hear Us Roar

Posting this again as it is very apropos to the political climate we find ourselves in today.  Women are under attack and we find ourselves fighting battles that we won many years ago.  Are women a threat?  Have we become so strong and powerful in our own souls that it has some people shaking in their boots so much that the only option is to erase all the progress women have made?  We are 51% of the population, yet we are treated as a special interest group.  We must stand tall, stand together, stand strong.  It is our God given right.

Women - Becoming Our Own Role Models 
As women embrace the fullness of who they are as individuals, they may find themselves supporting other women, helping others to reach the level of inner comfort and outer freedom that they themselves have found. Among those who are less sure of themselves and their place in the world, it may be more common to criticize other women than to seek their help. 

But there are things that a woman can only learn from another woman, as there are things about being a man that can only be learned from other men. We all recognize that we have much to learn from each other regardless of gender, but sometimes we could use a supportive role model that gives us a more precise example of what and who we can become. 

There was a time where women stood together in a bond of sisterhood, women supporting women. It is only natural that the pendulum swings out of balance for a while so that we may have the experience of what we do not want. It is up to women to bring the pendulum back into balance and bring back the sacred sisterhood we yearn for at our core. If we envision a world where women support each other and help each other find their place in an ever-changing world, then we can become the change we want to see. 

Jealousy, envy, criticism, and judgment are refuges for the insecure. As we help others to become self-assured, we create a world in which all people help each other, regardless of gender. Only women can make the change in how women are seen and understood, not just by other women but by the world at large. The way we speak about each other to other women and to the men in our lives informs everyone to treat us with the respect that all women, and all people, deserve.