Spinning My Wheels

I want to post a blog touching on one of my usual themes—wonder, creativity, humor—but today those feel a little scarce. Well, I do feel wonder as I sit today in this blizzard, the worst I’ve seen in many years.  And in mid-April yet. I know a few of you are living where spring has indeed arrived. I hope you are full of renewed energy. For us in the Midwest, not much has changed for the better in the outer world in the past two weeks, when I wrote about struggling to find my patience. Now that impatience–for spring, for positive change, inside and out–feels more discouraging than angry. I feel kind of muffled and mired, able to do all the necessary daily tasks but lacking the will and energy to do the many things that would probably lift my spirits and vitality. Or maybe just feeling tired of doing them all winter and wanting a change. Wanting the sensual contact with nature that spring brings. The grounding. The joy. I wrote this poem several years ago, but it feels appropriate today as I realize what’s missing right now (not all of which involves springtime): Groundless  For too many days now I have not danced, tickled spritish spirit with leaps and twirls, or dissolved, exhilarated, in sunshine splash, been pricked awake by gusty winds or cardinal call, clutched rainbow blossoms to my greedy nose, or burned to merge with musk and sweat.   Too many days since I have sought the dark, ventured in, with quiet breath, pen in hand, to listen and dictate whisperings wild.   begin—stop—veer—clunk! rattle!–turn back–...

Minnesota November

Dusk descends early on this cold, gray cloudy November day. All day I needed the lamplight next to my chair to read, and now I spread the wool throw over me. Halloween/Samhain/All Soul’s Day ushered in the dark time, a reminder of death and ancestors, of mystery and shadow. In November, as bony trees appear, cold deepens and days become shorter and cloudier I sink into that bleakness, become more subdued, sleep more, dream more vividly, move more slowly. I make things in my home warmer and softer. I gather blankets and also thoughts, pondering the past, considering the future. And sometimes I just sit and stare at the brown landscape, or let my thoughts wander as I doodle. At least, I do these things when I can. My body and soul, embedded in the natural world, want me to do these things at this time. Yet end of year tasks natter at me (making charitable donations, health insurance choices, purchases needed before winter), as well as activities connected to the holidays (baking, cooking, sales and gift shopping, decorating, attending concerts, shows and parties). My rebellious heart cries NOT NOW! These things jar and distort the contemplative energy I feel in November and December. I love Thanksgiving because it can be a quiet feast with close friends and family, acknowledging our interdependence, expressing gratitude for being alive and for all those who support us in cold, dark times. Also harmonious with this season is a winter solstice gathering honoring insights gained from our time in the dark and celebrating the eventual return of the light. But the last thing...

Allowing Ambiguity

When doodling to relax the other night, I stumbled into drawing an image that I noticed makes sense the way I drew it and also upside down. Then I discovered more images in it when I turned the paper other ways.   One side up it looks to me like a clownish person with a big nose, a fancy turban, frilly collar and a slightly crazed look.   Upside down, it could be another crazed person, this time with a round nose, mustache and complicated headwear. Not sure what is in his mouth. Or, I can see the small central oval as a woman’s face–no facial features drawn in–with carefully arranged hair (around the spirals), wearing a bandana across her forehead, a flamboyant headdress above that, and sporting an elaborate collar and button placket.     Turned on either side, it looks like some kind of sea creature to me. You can probably see other things too. I like this drawing but it makes me slightly uneasy. How can it be three or four things at once? Which way is up? What is it really? I’m disappointed in my unease. Can’t I let the drawing depict three or four things simultaneously without needing to make a judgment as to which one is right or preferred? Without creating a hierarchy of the images? Especially since I actually enjoy all of them equally. Can’t I let the drawing be ambiguous? It strikes me that this discomfort–with ambiguity, with not knowing “the answer,” with allowing several realities to coexist without putting them in a hierarchy— might be perilous now. So much is...

A Bolt from the Beyond

barn’s burnt down now I can see the moon                                  Masahide The image of fiery destruction did not faze the group of six sitting around my dining room table. For several years my husband and I have had four dear friends over for a turkey dinner potluck the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.  As we are finishing up our feast, after we’ve had time to chat with each other and discuss world events, I usually ask a question of the group. I like to pose a question that will elicit stories, questions such as “tell us what you harvested this year,” or “tell us a story of a time when—.” This year I decided to let the Universe pose the question. So I chose to pull a card from the Major Arcana in the Gaian Tarot deck. The Major Arcana cards in every tarot deck express themes (and suggest questions) that are universal and are bound to occur at least once during a lifetime. That afternoon when I pulled #16, Lightning, I took a deep breath. Amidst a background of fierce lighting bolts against red, trees flame up, lit by lightning in a thunderstorm, and three people fall from the air. The #16 card card disturbs most people, especially as The Tower in the traditional Rider-Waite deck, where the image shows people falling or leaping from a tower that’s been struck and destroyed by lightning. This should be interesting, I thought, a bit nervously. Later at our gathering I passed the card around and proposed...

Fish Out of Water

Several days ago, on a cool rainy afternoon up on the north shore of Lake Superior I sat at a cabin table, enjoying the music of the surf and doodling idly. At one point I looked at my drawing in surprise. When my drawing or painting looks  like a person or animal, I assume it represents some hidden part of myself, so imagine my chagrin when I saw this in my notebook: It looked to me like an angry fish, probably a bottom feeder. I had intended to fill the entire page with doodles, but as soon as I saw this creature I gave up that idea. I was almost afraid to mess with him because he seemed so cranky.   Irritated at how we’ve been trashing the waters of the world perhaps? This guy’s arrival was particularly surprising because I was feeling good when I drew him. Maybe ironically I could only draw such a creature when I was feeling good. Now I try to talk with him, ask him what he wants or why he showed up, but he is intimidating to talk to. And he doesn’t want to talk to me. He won’t negotiate with me. He won’t be appeased because he doesn’t want to interact. He just wants to bully his way through to what he thinks he wants. It makes him look a bit crazed, don’t you think? Well, he certainly feels alive to me, with his anger and his stubbornness. I appreciate the intense energy of his unchecked, inflexible crankiness. I’m not sure he can be simply pushed away, denied, or changed by...

Dirt on the Fourth of July

I recently had an odd dream. In the dream I enter a woman’s public rest room. There I find a woman bent over her baby at a changing table. With calm determination she is trying to clean up piles and smears of pudding-like poop. The baby seems contented, and there is poop everywhere. Without a second thought I pitch in to help since she obviously could use more hands to get this done. With a nod and a brief smile, we work seamlessly together. When our mission is accomplished I go on my way, pleased to be of help and happy to be deflected from my previous plans (whatever they were). Can you believe I dreamt this twice within three nights? (Different mother and baby in each dream but the dream was the same.) Because it was a recurring dream I spent some time with it in meditation, pondering and writing. The colors of the dream were brown and green, like things growing in the earth. I was struck with the image of women’s capable hands, calmly working together in the dirt/poop. While I decided the dream had personal things to tell me, I also sensed a broader meaning. The dream seemed to be suggesting: Women know that life, death and transformation are interwoven and cyclical; The world is a mess right now, needs lots of “cleaning up” to better support Life, and women know what needs to be done and how to work together on it with joy and ease; Messes are normal in life—essential in this material world—so we needn’t react or resist them, merely get busy to...