Tending

I just finished deadheading the petunias around my mailbox. Noticing how much I enjoy doing it. I like to check how the flowers are doing, see whether they have enough water, pause to enjoy their colors and scent. I like to touch them, talk to them, spread their stems so that they have air and space (a little like fluffing pillows). Especially after rain when they are a bit bedraggled it is satisfying to tidy them up a bit. I do this with my potted geraniums too, pinching off the dead flowers, pulling the yellowed leaves, checking moisture, while I murmur encouraging words and gratitude for their beauty. Come to think of it, I enjoy weeding too. I don’t show much compassion for the weeds, I guess, but I like how pulling weeds gives the garden plants room to spread and breathe. Ensures there is nothing to steal nutrients from them, or to blur their lovely shape and blooms by crowding them. I doubt that any of this is necessary–the plants do fine on their own when I am out of town–but they seem a bit forlorn if I ignore them. Or maybe it’s me that’s forlorn– I feel sweetly content each time I connect with my plants this way. (Actually, it reminds me of the pleasure of changing my kids’ diapers. Though I was glad when they could eventually go to the potty themselves, until then diaper changing was a precious time. A time when I would talk to them, touch them lovingly of course, sing to them—I made up songs, probably to keep us both interested—little operas,...

What Now?

How can we best navigate this difficult time in our country and the world? Yesterday, with that question in mind, I grabbed an old magazine, took a deep breath, and spoke this question aloud. Then I opened the magazine at random and ripped out the page under my hand. Quickly scanning the page I circled words and phrases that jumped out at me. Those words and phrases, arranged into a rough poem, answered the question this way: When clouds pass overhead, new incandescent beings are spotted all the time. Bioluminescent, they express themselves with light. A signal fire, helping us to find our location in the blackness.   Shimmering glow sticks, displaying intense cheek lights, luminous dappled bellies, glowing lures dangling from nose or arms, deep sparkling eyes   If met with a startle response, they can also match the color of moonlight.   Oh yes, I thought, let’s do all we can to shine brightly, so we can find each other, strengthen each other and dazzle the new world into being! (Or if necessary, glow more quietly like the moon.) Yet I was uneasy with this answer; I wondered if it glossed over too quickly the looming darkness… So I turned to the Tarot. Again I centered myself, asked the same question, and pulled a card from each of three tarot decks—and to my delight they worked beautifully together, affirming the message from the poem and putting it into a larger context. Here are the cards, along with what I heard when the cards popped up.   The 10 of Fire from the Gaian Tarot, a raging forest...

Freedom

I stumbled across a poem today while doing quite unrelated things. The title made me curious so I read it. Instantly my belly became fluttery, and at the same time I felt profoundly sad. I read it again. Here is the poem. It is by Naomi Shahib Nye and is called How to Paint a Donkey. She said the head was too large, the hooves too small. I could clean my paintbrush but I couldn’t get rid of that voice. While they watched, I crumpled him, let his blue body stain my hand, I cried when he hit the can. She smiled. I could try again. Maybe this is what I unfold in the dark, deciding for the rest of my life, that donkey was just the right size. Before I thought too much about it I went to my studio. A painting seemed the only way today to honor the truth in this poem. I read it again, grabbed my favorite color and a big brush and began. With a rebellious determination that surprised me I let my favorite colors flow and blend, my favorite shapes emerge and re-emerge. I brushed quickly, not stopping to think or perfect. Following the energy of ME, FREE, NOW. I painted until I didn’t want to anymore. I felt calm and full afterwards. I painted the donkey the way I saw it. Yet how many times have I done this before? How many times over the years have I dropped old “rules” grafted on by others or later by myself? How many times have I reimagined and recreated my spirituality, my self-expression,...

A Conference Of Voices

I’ve been working on creating a workshop but I’m stalled. I was excited about it in the beginning, but over time I’ve also been feeling increasing resistance and heaviness about it. Both the “go” signals and the “stop” signals seemed equally strong, so I knew it was time for a conference with the various parts of myself.  I would invite the personalities within me to speak in my journal so that I could discover any disagreements between their perspectives and try to negotiate some truce between them. So a few nights ago I began a dialog by writing “Who is excited about the workshop—and why?” Immediately an animated, confident voice (coming through my pen) enthused about the fun of discovery in the workshop and the many probable benefits to others and myself, stating all the reasons I began working on it in the first place. Then a thin, timid voice said I needed to finish the workshop because didn’t I commit to it,  it would be “weird” to back out, and it might make some people mad.   Sensing no other voices waiting to speak, I then asked who was not happy about the workshop and why. One voice seemed a bit overwhelmed by its scope. Another was testy, sensing she was losing the control she likes. While I was discussing this with her, an exasperated voice cut in “why can’t we ever do anything just for ourselves! Why do we always have to try so hard all the time? What if you forgot about getting stuff done, helping other people, doing all the right things, and just did...

A Solstice Prayer

Our lives and hearts are so full right now, for so many reasons, personal, global and seasonal. I prepare for holiday celebrations, but my heart has few words. It craves solitude, silence and stillness. Between errands and phone calls I stare at the Christmas tree. As we approach the longest night of the year, I offer these words by Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Prayer for Remembering Where to Stand in the Winds   Creator, please let me not be a weather vane turning and jerking this way and that whenever the wind blows, allowing me no rest for long, in any direction.   Creator, let me be blessed instead, to be   the old lighthouse keep who stays and stays under the wide sky and with the long view,…   Please help me be the old one who cleans the glass daily, stokes the fire beacon nightly, and no matter how winds blow, the Light I’ve tended, will steadily flow over the tempest waters, and no matter how winds blow, the Light I’ve tended, will steadily flow over the calms.   May your holidays be joyous and nourishing. May you tend your light with gentle care. (I’d love to hear how you are doing this, if you are willing to share.) If you want to see a short video showing the rising sun on the winter solstice entering Newgrange, the 5000 year old passage tomb in Ireland, click here. I have found laughter helps keep my inner light shining.  For a chuckle, here are some amusing winners in  the “Comedy Wildlife Photography”...

Cranky

I got a big chuckle the other day at Bachman’s. Amidst the decorative garden pots, birdbaths, fountains and plethora of garden statues, a gargoyle captured my imagination. He was cranky. He wasn’t the typical gargoyle, fierce or demonic, not a fearsome gatekeeper guarding the garden door. He just seemed cranky. “Don’t mess with me today!” cranky. Maybe two feet high, ears back, head slung forward, white knuckled, claws digging deeply into his perch, a wonderful rendering of a grumpy gargoyle. The sheer novelty of a grumpy gargoyle was amusingly refreshing. Especially sitting there amongst cheerful garden fairies, gnomes, angels, Buddhas, butterflies, birds and cats. While I’m not sure I’d want to see him in my garden every day, I did notice my breath and belly relaxed as I gazed at this irritated creature amid  the sweet serenity of all the others. And something else made me laugh out loud. He was me. Me, when I’m frustrated or overwhelmed. Me, when I’m ignored or discounted. Me, when I’m tired and need to leave the party. Me, in the deep dark cold of late November? Sometimes crankiness just happens. Seeing myself in him delighted me. I don’t get crabby as often as I used to back in the days of practicing law, mothering young children, and enduring PMS (I don’t think so anyway). Several years ago I realized that when I am crabby, it usually means that I need either to nap or to cry—usually cry. I may be angry, I may be sad, I may even be mostly peaceful, and I need to cry. It’s as though tears build up in...