~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Got High

Windy Point Vista
I got high on Wednesday!

Okay, I got 5,000 feet higher on Wednesday.

Fine, if you want specifics, my husband and I drove the S-curve road up nearby Mt. Lemmon on Wednesday to go hiking -- the Bigelow Trail was at an elevation about 5,000 feet higher than where Tucson is in the valley.

I was thrilled to be walking -- and sitting -- beneath huge, old Ponderosa Pines!

I brought along Widget's carrier in case he got tired, but he was quite the trooper, sniffing and usually leading the way.

Phoenix the Corgi was with us as well, but was hanging back with my husband.

Before heading back down to Tucson, we stopped for pizza and a snack at the Cookie Cabin in Summerhaven. YUM!

The drive to the Bigelow and Butterfly trails is about an hour and a half from our home, but the trip was well worth the reward. I definitely need to do it more often.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Four Questions

While listening to an interview on one of my favorite podcasts -- OnBeing with Krista Tippett -- four questions mentioned in an interview with Seth Godin immediately aligned with the concept of writing for audience, and how we go about doing that. Narrowing my focus to a particular audience when I'm writing can be grueling, which is why this resonated. Maybe these four questions will give someone else direction or support or a new way into viewing their audience (Godin's prospective customer) as well, so here is the excerpt:

Who is your next customer? You mean that conceptually. Their outlook, hopes, dreams, needs and wants. What is the story he told about himself before he met you? How do you encounter him in a way that he trusts the story you want to tell him about what you have to offer? What changes are you trying to make in him, his life, his story? And then you wrote, start with this before you spend time on tactics, technology, scalability.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Softness Sings

The gentle kiss of winter rain in the desert feels as if Softness woke up and decided to sing a lullaby. 

Drinking my chai outside with the rain falling is bliss. The pitter-patter on the patio is sweet music to my ears. I hear Gene Kelly’s voice “singing in the rain” and I listen to the rhythm of the raindrops so that my voice can join the water-song that is nourishing the earth and me. The rain makes our sidewalks slippery so I walk on the gravel instead, feeling it give slightly beneath my weight. The dogs don’t approve of the squishy ground that causes the small rocks to shift, but I do — I approve of all that is rain-associated in the desert.
An exquisite milky-gray mist hovers thickly upon the nearby mountain reaching nearly to its base, gradually thinning as more rain falls, emptying itself upon the slopes where droplets find old cracked-earth pathways to travel down. Will it rain all day? It might! This is a steady, gentle effort, not the torrents of monsoon. Both are welcome and needed, each in their own way, to nourish the variety of plants accustomed to different cycles. 
There is no wind with this rain so it maintains its distance, soaking the circumference of the patio that is open to north and west, but not wetting the interior where I sit with pad and books and Widget curled up invisible beneath my poncho and buffered against the cool sixty degrees that is too chilly for his Chihuahuan nature. 

The birds chat periodically from their hideaways in the mature lemon and sumac trees; I don’t know the birds’ names, nor can I match voices with individuals, but I invite their conversation with a smile and a tilt of my head so that my stronger right ear can listen. They don’t seem to mind my eavesdropping. The former thick mist on the mountain has now become a wispy veil dancing its sultry art. Raindrops are smaller but remain steadfast in their devotional offering. Is it bad that I don’t yet know my feathered neighbors by name? Or is it acceptable to simply love and appreciate them when the visit?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Goodness of Guinevere

She stared, unblinking,
a one-eyed gaze
that held the world in peace.

For 13 wonderful years,
deepest love and gratitude always.

Reflections on Absence.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Puzzle Pieces

The puzzle of morning is which piece to start with … 
the frame is so far away that we can’t see it, 
like looking across the vast desert 
and wondering if that is a mirage or a real oasis …

The puzzle of morning is which gorgeous piece to start with. They are all right choices, one cannot go wrong, but some will make a smooth flow while others leave greater confusion for a while. And I like how routine — or sacred ritual — or both — provides a template through the scattered pieces on the table.
The puzzle is begun. Do I want to continue working around the edges or take a chance and create a larger section of detached pieces who create their own whole but sit in the middle or to the side without physically touching the frame? The center morphs and grows, expanding. I know it will touch the frame at some point, and the image is already complete in vibration, on an invisible plane it is whole, but for now I choose the pieces, put one down because it doesn’t quite fit, it doesn’t go “here” but it will fit later — all the pieces will make sense when the puzzle is put back together just as it was originally dreamed into being. 
Meanwhile, enjoy the mystery, the journey, the process of knowing each part of one’s self and all those connections that reassure as well as surprise. 
I can’t remember what it was like not to be writing, not to be working on a creative writing project. I know I spent decades with zero creativity of story or thought — except in sporadic diary entries. Those “Dear Diary” entries that helped me tell “someone” what I was feeling, but I didn’t go the next step into trying to understand on a deeper level what I was feeling or doing.  
That’s why I believe we need to be helping children learn how to process their experiences and themselves and others. Not because I am in a position to physically help kids — I’m not — but because we all have a child inside us who is still confused or wounded. It is that child I seek to connect with, to describe through creative writing that might illuminate a hidden treasure in the dark corner, to help find the pieces of our/their lives that are mishapen and seem not to fit into any larger framework at all. The frame is so far away that we/they can’t see it: it’s like looking across the vast desert and wondering if that is a mirage or a real oasis, a mountain to climb or an illusion in the mind. 

But I am realizing now how one piece of my life fit into another, how saving a creature’s life ended up saving my own, how change created opportunity. And if I can see the connections, so can others. Pieces of the universal puzzle. Putting it all together for healing our planet.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Writing has been a mega-rambling flow of words these past few days as my scattered energy catches up to my body here at home. I’m landing, pausing, holding the space of after-journey so that the nuances of it are unafraid to show themselves. Those nuances are like fairy hitchhikers I didn’t know I’d picked up on the way, hiding in the cracks and crevices of skin and cell and senses that perceived more than I consciously recall. These are the hitchhikers that create the Essence of Experience, the ones that tag along just out of visual range peripherally like our shadow or the dust motes always present but unseen except through direct light when they become magical beings from galaxies far away … or from that hidden table in the corner of the room.
Warning: A couple weeks of driving over 3,000 miles round-trip can have this effect! 
Eureka Springs, AR
I felt a kinship in Eureka Springs, in the center of town, the valley filling my senses and grasping for my feet to extract root-like tethers so that I would remain longer. The lush greens and black bark from excessive rains held me in thrall while the exquisite winding roads and steep stairways kept me curious of what might be around the next corner even while I yearned to sink into the space of the momentary pause A walking town of inclines and buried history in the tunnels and mountains cradling the lives of community built around healing and healers. Springs are abundant (at least 62), the gifts of Gaia’s womb bubbling up and rushing down to greet the seekers with mystery and gentle wisdom where cure is not synonymous with healing, and faith is the earthen pores beneath bare feet. I was born about 60 miles north as the crow flies and Eureka Springs feels as close to birth as any town I’ve walked; is it possible for roots to stretch so far? The hills of natural healing methods passed along for generations of mingling blood and culture. My toes tingled and I raised my arms overhead in praise of photosynthesis-generated emeralds, pouring rain, trees dripping, autumn leaves of past and present underfoot for miles it seemed, a place out of time where caves remember tunnels — or the other way around — and the dank earth is the chalice of all life. If I lived and died there, could I become the sapling growing out of the hillside that is feeing the wandering deer skipping silent among the trunks, nearly hidden? Tiny homes of rock sit like the fairytale cottages of the Grimm’s from long ago and far away, yet right next door in psyche. Many could be replicas of that which enticed Hansel and Gretel to enter. If I entered, would I ever leave? Or would I become absorbed into the mineralized space of springs and hills and fall into the great crevasse that will open one day and swallow the town whole? Taking it to an inner land to be discovered in 100,000 years by another incarnation of civilization? Earth and Water create an oasis that I am craving, and a friend from far back days of transitional innocence was on the journey with me as memories played hopscotch with present lives so different. I can dimly sense a character emerging who was born and raised in Eureka Springs … does she move to the town in my novel? And is she past or present, ghost or substance? The mudslides meant that the streets are slowly buried and levels of ground rise up until the second story becomes the first story, until doorways and windows are portals to mystical tunnels where water floods, gushing inside the walls and creating dreams and demons for those who cannot help but listen, each generation touched by the rivers within the walls. These are tunnels of dead-ends and prohibition, of ghosts and gambling, of hidden passages and buried treasures from sinkholes filled with past life treasures and decluttering debris.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

born in fields of uncertainty

"Words have a weight to them. How you choose to present them and to whom is a matter of style and choice."

" … I believe my own voice continues to be found wherever I am being present and responding from my heart, moment by moment. My voice is born repeatedly in the fields of uncertainty."

"Earth. Mother. Goddess. In every culture the voice of the Feminine emerges from the land itself. We clothe her as Eve or Isis or Demeter. In the desert, she appears as Changing Woman." 

~ Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice

There is so much I'd like to say about this woman, this author. She holds me breathless ... traversing her stories, treasuring the exquisite expressions felt through her words. When Women Were Birds picks up the story of Terry's mother's journals … the journals I first learned of while reading Refuge.

"A story grows from the inside our … if I begin traveling with an awareness of my own ignorance, trusting my instincts, I can look for my own stories embedded in the landscapes I travel through."

"A story allows us to envision the possibility of things. It draws on the powers of memory and imagination. It awakens us to our surroundings."

"Story is a sacred visualization, a way of echoing experience. There are lessons along the way." 

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Pieces of White Shell

In all of the author's books, Terry's voice is strong and clear, and yet each book is a distinct image. I admire her ability to hold her voice, soft or crisp, no matter the topic. And she is able to balance her story within the context of the alternating story of place, something I aspire to do in a few of my WIPs.

I'm grateful to have come across this author; she is inspirational on many levels.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Will O' the Wisp

In Memory of Pooka*

October 22, 2000 - September 10, 2014

My dear little Pooka The Perfect Puppy! Okay, so I was a bit partial from the get-go; I'd been hearing about him from the breeder since the day he was born. I drove up from our home in Maine to just outside Quebec City – in December during a snow storm -- to adopt the wee fella at 8 weeks old and he’s been a dream dog! He was easy to raise, to housetrain, to teach, to love, to live with – he got along with everyone, didn’t bark too much, rode with me in the car absolutely everywhere while in Maine, greeted new people with enthusiasm, and was a pure joy that brightened every day. His Daddy said that Pooka was a Momma’s Boy and…okay, he was! He was completely adorable, and everyone loved meeting him.
Day 1 with Pooka

He had his quirks that made him all the more special ...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Red Desert

As I continue seeking a deeper understanding of not only the Sonoran Desert, but of myself in relation to the element of fire and of desert in its larger meaning and presentation, the book Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams, though grounded in her multi-generational heritage among the rocky canyons of southwest Utah, provides perspective and inspires me to greater courage.

Different parts of our vast United States evoke varied considerations, and Williams' book brings forth an honoring of and reflection upon Mother Earth's diversity. One that stimulates us not to see our planet just for what we can get from it physically -- food and water -- but how our soul is nourished in unexpected ways through its fierce wildness as well.

"As the world becomes more crowded and corroded by consumption and capitalism, this landscape of minimalism will take on greater significance, reminding us through its blood red grandeur just how essential wild country is to our psychology, how precious the desert is to the soul of America."

I remember driving through Zion National Park on vacation with my parents forty years ago, and I can still recall the awe with which we viewed the red rocks. I will visit this place again.

"There is a resonance of humility that has evolved with the earth. It is best retrieved in solitude amidst the stillness of days in the desert."

I am looking forward to winter so that I can gather my courage and walk alone into the desert of West Saguaro National Park. I want to be within the desert, in solitude and silence, and hear a different voice, feel a rhythm unfamiliar.

"I believe we need wilderness in order to be more complete human beings, to not be fearful of the animals that we are … "

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Forests and Silence

I won’t make this post too long, or I’ll try not to (please know that I could have gone on much longer than I did! LOL). Though I’d love to have the time to do so. However, my focus is simply to share rather than to convince. What’s it all about? Books, of course!

Specifically, two books that I’ve had to forcibly pull myself away from at night in order to get decent sleep and away from during the day so that I could be somewhat productive. Oh sure, I could have read them start to finish without interruption, but these are the types of books I like to ponder, muse over, re-read sections or paragraphs, and thoroughly relish the insights and nuances. Plus, I really do have obligations -- family, creativity, spirituality -- that are also a priority. But, even if I could have read the books in one sitting, I doubt I would have; I happen to enjoy anticipation and savoring a special treat.

Now, to understand my compulsion to read these particular books, one must also know that I have nearly two hundred unread books on my shelves, books waiting patiently for their turn, books that I told myself I simply “had to have right now” but became distracted too easily by the next one to strike my fancy. Anyone else experience this? 

The author is Sara Maitland and the books are From the Forest (2012) and A Book of Silence (2008). The first one I read -- From the Forest -- was recommended to me by a friend who lives in London. I was no more than twenty or so pages into it before I ordered A Book of Silence. Interestingly, although Maitland has been publishing novels and short-stories since 1978, and is apparently well-known for them in the UK, my introduction to her has been through her recent non-fiction. 

Enough backstory! Yes? Yes. (select the 'read more' link below)

The Vitality of Listening

It's strange to me that I've never read the works of Terry Tempest Williams, and yet, here I am; apparently now is when her words speak to me … and I listen. 
I recently listened to her interview in 2011 by Krista Tippett at OnBeing and wanted to share this quote (from the unedited version):
"If we can ask ourselves the question, then we are going to move toward the answer. And that's where, for me, it really is about listening, and being curious, and speaking [listening] from our umbilicus, not our mind, and sometimes not even our heart because that's where it gets so emotional that we *can't* hear one another. But if I'm listening to you with my hand on my belly, you know, of where I was first connected to breath which was my mother, you know, then I really can sit in the seat of presence and hear what you are saying, not what I want to say to you, but to really listen and to find that point of humanity, that connective truth."
Her reference to speaking and listening from our umbilicus really touched me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Wandering Pine

I miss my White Pine sentinels; they surrounded our Maine home on three sides, and I always felt protected.
Sara Maitland said “pine woods have a strange habit of wandering” (From the Forest). In less dramatic fashion than the Ents of Tolkien lore, granted, yet they do wander. I love this perspective of how pine forests move even if the individual trees don’t necessarily pick up roots and move over to the next ridge. It’s a bit of fascinating observation and can give rise to all sort sod fantastical stories of how boundaries and landscape change face across time, where once the line was here but now it is there; one at first blames the memory, perhaps I don’t recall my childhood experience as well as I thought because visiting to woods sixty years later, the slope appears different — but it is! 
One can almost imagine in the cover of night, a pine wriggling its toes free of the soil and a long root, then another, reaching over, slowly, ever so subtle, creeping like a vine, sinuous as a snake, and then tugging as it digs in once more shifting its tall trunk in that direction, nearly imperceptible because it doesn’t want to topple. Shifting itself away from the group. 
The fantasy is actually easier for me to imagine than the practical science of how “they re-grow as new individual trees from seed and tend not to do this under their own canopy, but to the sides of existing stands.” 
Maybe this is another subtle reason I am aligned with pines (though, fyi, in this instance the author is speaking of Scots pines) — I didn’t grow under the “canopy” of my family of origin but rather to the side. I really love this new conceptualization of my beloved pines, evergreen and raining positivity upon me continually. The author calls this wandering “spooky” but I find the entire notion utterly delightful and encouraging to the growth of diversity away from the familiar. For instance, my younger brother is definitely deciduous, growing from our mother-base; my older brother doing his own thing from a trimmed height where he branched out but still firmly connected to the original trunk … but me … I’m a seed cast to grow beyond the canopy. 

I’ve been waiting my entire life to be in the forest and free; 
cycles are age, yet less age than individuality. 

One never knows where and when shift may happen.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fragility in Writing

A quick note of support for other writers …

When I am feeling particularly fragile in my writing, there are two audio programs I often turn to for support, neither of which focuses upon technique. I've listened to both of these many times and in each experience I discover some new and inspiring aspect. Because these programs are and have been encouraging to me, I share them here for anyone else who may be feeling a bit vulnerable. I highly recommend both of these!

The first is Thomas Moore on Writing
I had never heard of him or read any of his books until I found this audio and I just love it … I resonate with his sacred approach to and connection with writing because he is not only appreciating the sacred nature of creativity but is held in the grace of the sacredness of writing and words themselves, the soul-filled type of writing wherein the writing is soul and not only coming from soul’s creativity.

The second is The Writing Life, a dialogue between Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg.
I had already read part of Cameron's The Artist's Way (and have benefitted enormously from utilizing her process of "morning pages") and Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Thunder & Lightening before listening to this audio conversation between the authors. Every time I listen, I am captivated by how the diversity of these two women writers fuels their respect for one another and honors the uniqueness of every writer's journey.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fasting: What is Missing?

Fasting. Inadvertently. As a friend travels overseas, one of her posted comments about feeling hungry while waiting in line, and then the response of another friend, creates a resonance within me that opens a reflective portal: when fasting happens upon us due to a situation, do we resist? Do we cling to our mental notion of thirst and hunger? Do we attach to the lack instead of the opening it provides? How do we move past the discomfort we feel of fasting?
My friend is in an airport, those modern spaces that have become physically and demandingly liminal, the bridges between home and other. It is a challenge to remain present to what is rather than what we desire it to be and what we might be or are missing. Fasting brings this out very clearly. 
During traveling both directions on my pilgrimage, I was put in positions of fasting, part by my own thoughts and part by circumstances unavoidable. Traveling distances alone puts additional pressure upon relying on one’s own resources and resilience. For instance, traveling solo, there is no option for someone to hold one’s space in line and, for everyone, anxieties about missing a flight create the “perfect storm” within mind and body where the occurrence of fasting accelerates our fear or discomfort. Does it have to? What are resources we can use to accept the bridge space with equanimity? 
On the practical side, we could be prepared in a different way … instead of packing our travel times so tightly — because we don’t want to “waste” time in the “between” and on the Bridge of Journey — we can leave a broader passage so that we feel comfortable stepping away from a line or seating if we need to in order to attend to body or emotional needs.
Alternatively, we could lean in closer to our lack in those moments of abstinence and/or restriction and open to the lessons if possible, and know that our energy field can nourish, can provide us with sustenance. One’s body has the ability to recycle moisture, from cell to cell — hey, allow those fat cells to release the excess they hold and get it circulating for nourishment; see it happen through visualization, assist with the wisdom and healing of flower essences and remedies, whatever is available. 
If I had been more settled, I could have taken a specific cell salt during thirst, one tablet every few minutes until feeling better, secure in the knowledge of its ability to assist in water management. With that thought, what is a remedy to help with toxin buildup in kidneys when unable to pee? Further, listen to inner wisdom and sip water, a little bit a time, no need to drink huge amounts during a section of time (on the plane, in between) when you might not have access to toilets. Include remedies (cell salts) to assist with hunger, either to settle stomach acid or for growling and rumbling, and … reduce our intake consciously during travel, allow the stomach to shrink, especially during airline travel due to the unpredictability and nature of this type of transition. 
These experiences and processes are all part of the journey.
I’m grateful my friend, via her comments of her own experience, reminded me of this aspect that was so very stressful for me during my Crete pilgrimage two years ago, and which I wrote about in my memoir. With some additional planning and mental preparation, I now feel more confident about the air travel to/from Scotland next year. The extra time spent in an airport can be viewed as true liminal space — a between existence that is neither the past (home) or the future (destination) and vice versa, and, as I found with my hotel on the return, can be a very healing and helpful pause for reflection prior to reintegration into normal life. We can sink into those spaces for their own unique gifts and also recognize their potential for the joy of anticipation — a very real, powerful, healing energy for its own sake. Release the fear and anxiety — if a flight or other transport is missed, another can be arranged. Once the journey has begun, what are the lessons and wisdom it holds? The bridge is also part of the journey! That is the paradox to be accepted. 
Yesterday, I also coincidentally read a blog where a 3-hour transition (Scotland to London) became 35 hours, and the gifts of the extension were shared beautifully by the traveler. And why not view our bodily challenges this way, also? Can we? What will fasting offer to fulfill something else in our journey? Can that emptiness be filled with something else like the sheer adventure, or the beauty we see, the miracles around us that make the travel possible … the people, the place, our own recognition of body temple’s remarkable ability and resilience? Be Present.
We can plan differently based upon what we have learned … but we can also learn from wisely knowing that plans go awry and thus allow ourselves to be flexible and participate in the space of unexpected between space. The pilgrimage or vacation is a microcosm of our extended life that is filled with minutes or even years of feeling like we are “between” pivotal experiences … or the “between” is in fact the pivotal experience that has a greater impact upon us than what we thought was to be the change. Such is life!

During what periods in life have felt like you were “fasting”? How did you handle it? Where was your soul during that time? Did you allow yourself to see, grow, and feel fully into the experience, or did you block it all with distraction, resentment, fear, anger, or self-pity?
When traveling -- whether via psyche or substance or both -- how can we accept what is missing and be more present to the gifts that absence may bring?
In Memory of Amber & Kiki

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Highly-Skilled Spinster

"A significant number of the women in the fairy stories are self-employed, independent and skilled. They often have a relationship -- positive or negative -- with spinning. Although most women could and did spin domestically, if she became good at it, it was one of the few ways a woman could become financially self-sufficient. (Midwifery was an alternative career.) At her trial in 1431, Joan of Arc was immediately inflamed by the suggestion that she worked as a shepherdess: on the contrary, she snapped, she was a highly skilled spinster." *

* "The dignity and independence of spinning has left an odd, hidden mark on the English language. A spinster was a woman who could spin; it was as a compliment that the word was extended to all unmarried women, because it implied that they did not need a husband, but chose freely to love or live singly. 'A spinster of this parish' comes to have her banns called not from dire necessity, but from a position of equality and independence."

~ Sara Maitland, From the Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of Our Fairy Tales

Spinster is clearly another word that women can reclaim on behalf of empowerment!

This book by Maitland is a gem! I'm grateful that a friend living in the UK had recommended it to me. I will be sharing more from this book in the future -- text that relates to our interconnectedness with forests as well as the uniqueness of Spirit to be encountered within each diverse forestland or woodsy copse -- but couldn't resist posting the above quote on spinsters right away.

# Top Photo: "Margaret (alone at her spinning wheel)" by Frank Cadogan Cowper (English Pre-Raphaelite Painter, 1877-1958)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Plot and Structure

Revisiting Plot & Structure

Six Months.
That's my deadline for completing Chantilly Lace, 
a novel I started writing over four years ago.
I'm so close!
And I want to be deep into the second storyline (aka Book 2)
by the time I travel to Scotland next year
so that I can maximize narrative benefits.
Things could change, but that's the plan.
Six Months.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Word Play

Hear the subliminal audio call, the cadence, within “mystery” … mist … missed … tear, to cry or shred … terra, earth of ancient stories and soul … “y” —> why, the question that pries our fingers loose from container so we seek, wander, travel, to find what we might have missed; to cry over and through adventures in joy, anger, or sorrow; to separate, to tear ourselves away from our comfort zones in order to grow. Mystery. Its very construction is more than the definition we assign of the unknown because it is a living energy, this symbol of letters joined with sound to denote that which we currently cannot grasp but are led by curiosity to discover — like prowling through the mist on mountain, near river, through forest and glen, shrouded on an island barely able to see a few feet forward yet we step into the veil, away from our familiarity and safety to explore and, possibly, be transformed.
Seeming distance becomes short and a flickering candle leads me down a corridor to the last room on the left — no, the right — turning the rusty round knob with a screech that would put owl to shame and the groaning hinges would delight the fiercest ghost if it were lingering here among the storehouse of ideas where a little old lady lives with papers stacked every wall creating a maze of towering manuscripts, edges of paper a rough symbol of gradual building of this world in the room and other worlds as well far more colorful for these towers are merely various shades of white as they mellow into faded beige, even yellowing crisp edges that disintegrate when fingers brush against them. As tall as I am, the paper towers are stacked in randomness except they are not — their creator with a purpose as they camp within specific countries and territories of similar vision; this one lying in the riverbed of past youthful follies while another spends its days pretending to be one of the mountains it sits among in the Rockies, a range where home is high and vision clear, the pages crisp, sharp, unmarred though as easily aged as the rest. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Travels and Tales


I've made a recent decision to travel to Scotland next year. Yes, the Highlands are calling! Scotland has been beckoning me for decades, and, well, I'm not getting any younger. So, I'm done with waiting!

At this point, I don't plan on going with a tour group, but on my own, to make it both a Writing Retreat (several of the characters in my novel are of Scottish descent) and a tour of sacred sites, historic castles, and rugged landscape that my feet are already itching to walk. The timing may change, but I'd like to schedule it for a few weeks in either May or June, both of which will be lush with green and beautifully wet -- to follow and counteract what is usually a long dry winter and spring here in the Sonoran Desert. A curious side effect of living in the desert is that, while I've never been much of a "water person" before, I seem pulled toward oceans -- going to the Island of Crete in 2012, and I've already decided to explore in Scotland the Isles of Skye and Lewis, and then head north to venture onto the Orkney Islands. As I've discovered, my body will be begging for what Scotland has to offer elementally, and with the delicious benefit of a different culture, fabulous accents, and walking the land of some of my ancestors.

I'm only at the beginning stages of planning, but did find this fantastic blog by an American for discovering Scotland: Traveling Savage. Periodically, I'll mention itinerary ideas or tidbits of interesting information as I come across it, and, please, if you've been there -- do share comments!

I thought after my pilgrimage to Crete that I was finished with airplane travel and was going to stick with road-trips only, stay with traveling this exquisite, diverse North American continent. But I imagine there will come a time when I won't feel physically capable of overseas travel, so I best do it now… !


First, a query: if we're called story-tellers, how come we're taught in writing to show, not tell?

Second, a comment: I currently spend more time writing about my story than writing the story itself. I wonder why that is? Is it common to do so? Is it simply where I happen to be in the story's creation?

Third, another thought: I wonder if I should stop reading everything for a while because it seems like every non-fiction book I read gives me more and more ideas! LOL

Oh, the joy of writing, and I truly do mean JOY. For even though I come across confusion and quandary, insecurity and frustration, they are always riding the waves of creative flow that are absolutely sublime.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Death: Borderland to Bridge

Death touches us many times before our bodies die; it is a commonality we all share. Because of that, the topic presented itself to be explored in one of my University of Arizona assignments: the text in context paper. Even if you haven't seen the movie Babel or read the article, "the lines that continue to separate us," (both of which were assigned, not chosen; students were to interpret the movie through the lens of the article, to which I then added another lens), my hope is that the piece will be clear and interesting. So, in the spirit of sharing, of opening into our interconnected threads of experiencing life and death, I share my paper below.

Death: Borderland to Bridge
Death is the ultimate architect of border and can draw people closer together or push them apart. David Newman’s language in his article, “The lines that continue to separate us,” can clarify and expand our conception of death and our reaction to it as it is subsequently portrayed in the movie Babel, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Newman in concurrence with Babel helps us to see death from a new perspective: that dying and/or death can be an impetus that sends people into a borderland, one that can potentially lead to a bridge of acceptance toward the unknown. Babel displays a grand narrative of acute personal experiences, interwoven with death’s borders, and detailed through striking visual elements. This paper will specifically address how an American couple progress through the borderlands created by the death of their baby to eventually access a bridge of emotional healing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finding Love or Allowing Love?

While it may seem like only a silly, albeit entertaining, series, Sex and the City is also about getting to know and be comfortable with one’s self and choices. Because I witness this growth process in myself, re-watching the series every few years reminds me of how we change yet stay the same. For many women, me included, we endure a long journey laden with stumbles, falls, and climbing up over the ledge, repeatedly, before we can give voice to our uniquely individual truth. And even after discovering our authentic voice, we lose and find it again how many times? And this becomes even more complex when falling in -- and out of -- love is added to the journey.
In 1998, when the series began for thirty-something Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha, I was thirty-seven. I had just been through four years of intense and major changes, had been living the single life for over a decade, and felt like I was in pretty good company with these four. Not similar on the outside, but on the inside. After all, they were more ambitious and stylish than I was, my spiritual inclinations set me apart from them, and I was a country-girl, but how could I not relate to them when I was also a single woman in her thirties trying to figure out who I was and maybe, just maybe, find love along the way? Add into the mix that in 1999 I met the love of my life, and I was hooked into every episode.
I just finished watching the series from start to finish again, including the two movies, and I laughed so hard I nearly cried sometimes! As Carrie says:
“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all 
is the one you have with yourself. 
And if you find someone to love the you you love, 
well, that’s just fabulous.” 
Another aspect of this series that I now see, and I’m not sure I did the first time around, is how all of these women soften through their experiences while trying to retain their voices. This is not an easy task in the modern world, whether ten, twenty or even thirty years ago. When we allow love to find us, we are within the feminine essence of being; when we seek to find love, especially through a driven or desperate or demanding energy, that is the masculine. How does love come to us? And is it important to understand this?
Marion Woodman wrote that: 
“Women today are reaping the harvest of generations of rape. 
Grandmothers and mothers have adjusted to patriarchal values 
to the point of extinguishing their own femininity.”  
While at first glance, the women of Sex and the City might appear to be ultra-feminine … are they? Do clothes and make-up, style and sex appeal result in or from core feminine energy? Or do we need to look closer, to draw aside the veil? By the time the series wraps, each of the four women has found her own path to balancing the opposites of animus and anima; this meant they had to soften into their relationships and expectations, while remaining firm in Self. 
I wonder what I will think the next time I watch Sex and the CityWhere will I be in my own life in another five or so years — will my voice be lost or found? What about you? 

Last, but far from least, is how much I like the friendship maintained between these women. No matter what their trials and tribulations, they were always available for and forgiving of each other. 
Here's to women, authenticity, feminine energy, and friendship!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Depths of the Sea

"To understand what makes Earth different from any other place, and why life can thrive here, it would be logical to focus on the part of the biosphere that supports most of the action -- that is, the sea, of course. Since I am by nature an air-breathing sun-loving mammal, it has taken some time for the awareness to seep into the cracks of my brain that most of the biosphere is ocean. All of life on Earth lives in the dark at least half of the time, and much of it lives in the dark all of the time -- in the depths of the sea." ~ Sylvia Earle, Sea Change
One of the characters in my novel has a background in oceanography; she wanted me to read Sea Change after listening to Sylvia Earle speak with Krista Tippett OnBeing. I'm also going to be reading Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us and her other two books about the sea.

I've never been much of a sea-person; I'm far more at ease hiking in the woods -- being in the depths of the forest. However, did you know that "almost anyone listening to a recording of humpback whales can identify them as humpback whales--but experts can pinpoint where a song has been sung, and even when." (Earle) Isn't that incredible?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

self and Self

Frieda Fordham's Introduction to Jung's Psychology is a gem for those of us who just want to understand the gist of Jung and his terminology. Because I'm diving into the works of female Jungian analysts as another window into the Divine Feminine, I wanted a quick-reference book. This one was re-published in 1966 (originally published in 1953) with an updated biographical sketch, and, as far as I could determine, is still considered one of the best resources for an overview of Jung. I greatly enjoyed it, I must say!

While this led me into a desire to read Jung's entire collection, as I now find him fascinating, that effort will have to be put on hold indefinitely. I have way too many other projects to do and books to read already, so I must prioritize. Don't we all?

I do highly recommend this thin volume, though, for anyone who is curious about Jung. An additional benefit is that Jung himself approved the work; the editorial note states: "The reader can enjoy all the attractive qualities of the introductory exposition with the added satisfaction of knowing that it is authentic. It has Jung's own Imprimatur and his personal commendation." Nice!

One aspect I hadn't realized was Jung's strong wish that every person be educated in the process of self discovery from childhood, and, if not, then at the very least all adults so that they could provide children with clearer guidance. Fordham also summarizes Jung's disgust with mass manipulation of people by organizations and governments, primarily because of this lack of deep self-awareness; not a surprise considering the wars he witnessed. I can imagine Jung would be even more appalled at the state of our global situation.

Of course, there are a lot of psychologists and spiritual leaders these days emphasizing the need for self-awareness and ritual in the lives of adults and children. I, for one, wish that some form of this was taught in grammar school along with the basics of meditation. We overload kids with information and sports without any framework in which to ground their own unique personalities. One of my favorite books exploring children, phases of life, and ritual is Bill Plotkin's Nature and the Human Soul. If I had children or grandchildren, I'd be recommending it. As it is, I try to talk about the subject with my brother and his kids; most of my brief suggestions are immediately turned away because, after all, he (and most other parents I know) says: "You don't have kids so you don't really have a clue." Granted. But this doesn't mean that I don't hope for a better future for the children of our world.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Magic of Creativity

I enjoy finding those authors and artists who approach creativity with a sense of joy instead of struggle, with an overall feeling of magic rather than drudgery. Yes, there may be -- and probably are -- moments of frustration and challenge in the writing process, but I have no interest in spending the majority of my creative time caught up in angst and despair (it is enough for me that pivotal points in my life dwelt within that conflicted space and led me into healing through creativity).

Over the past several years, I have been tickled to hear various creative types speak to this joy in creation (Thomas Moore, Julia Cameron). Most recently, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about what she refers to as Mystery and Big Magic in her conversation with Tami Simon (Sounds True):

“ … to think of my creative life as a collaboration between one human’s efforts—and that would be me—and the divine Mystery of inspiration. … I’ve spent my work days in collaboration with that Mystery. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to spend my life—sort of talking to it, asking questions of it, cooperating with it. [I sit] down to work every day with the commitment that I will not wrestle it or fight it or abuse myself against it. But I will ask it every day what it wants from me and try to work with it as respectfully and reverently as I can. It leads to a really joyful kind of creation.” 

I held off reading Gilbert's Eat Pray Love until much of the hype had died down, and was, I confess, a bit disappointed in it. Probably as a direct result of all the hype. So, when I saw that Gilbert had released her new novel The Signature of All Things, I decided to get it sooner rather than later so I could make up my mind about it without the influence of reviews. I'm glad I did. I found it an odd blend of lovely style, strange characters, and unique story; I didn't particularly like the protagonist and yet at the same time, I was compelled to finish the story at a rapid pace. I felt that Gilbert was able to immerse herself in a freedom of creativity and choice in this story, and, to a large extent, I was carried along in that wake. Perhaps because she had already achieved "success" and could write the story exactly the way she felt it coming through her?

Whatever her personal path to writing and publishing Signature, I am inspired by many of Gilbert's comments throughout the interview (which, with Tami, is usually more of a conversation than a traditional Q&A session).

Let's celebrate the joy and magic of creativity!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Voice

a shift in view
I've become more curious than ever about a writer's voice.

Who writes in authentic voice? How many of us write through the patterns of two thousand years of "patriarchal authority"? After all, "who polices questions of grammar, parts of speech, connection, and connotation? Whose order is shut inside the structure of a sentence?" As George Eliot put it, there were women "who congealed into the literary mold men made for them." (quotes are from Susan Howe in My Emily Dickinson)

I play around a lot with my own voice and style, not just in an effort to develop an authentic voice based within my personal individuality but also to tap into what I feel is a voice that spirals out of the feminine principle.

I am exploring a variety of perspectives on the essence of feminine voice, from Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice to Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet Versus The Goddess, and from the work of Marion Woodman to those of Emily Dickinson, Helene Cixous, and others.

If you have thoughts or references to share, would love to hear them! Write On!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Little Prince

I'm free from classes and studies for the summer!
I've no idea if I will return to UA in the fall, but it's been an interesting experience.
My Latin Final was yesterday; this week is for decompressing.
Let the recovery begin!
And my little prince is happy to show me how to do just that.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lay Healers


"A popular homeopathic lay healer within her community … , Elizabeth Cady Stanton doctored family, friends, and neighbors armed with a homeopathic domestic medical kit … Stanton was proud of her self-reliance, successfully managing her own parturitions, and of nursing her children through malaria, whooping cough, mumps, and broken limbs. After the 1852 birth of her daughter, Stanton wrote to her friend … 'Dear me, how much cruel bondage of mind and suffering of body poor woman will escape when she takes the liberty of being her own physician of both body and soul!' Stanton denounced both the Protestant and 'medical ministries' for their manipulation of women, arguing that the 'genteel' and 'civilized' woman was made ill and unnecessarily dependent upon their authority." 

The above is an excerpt from the engaging book A Vital Force: Women in American Homeopathy by Anne Taylor Kirschmann. I have been reading this book while working on my assignments in this semester's English class, which focus upon rhetoric, controversy, and, as my topic of choice, homeopathy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Best birthday dinner EVER! 

Everyone in my family knows that one of the best gifts they can give me is a yummy meal, and Ron took me out to dinner yesterday for a belated birthday bonanza of food. I had heard about the restaurant called Feast from a man who works at Whole Foods, so it was my first choice. Sure enough…I was in heavenly bliss for the entire meal. My photos aren't the greatest, but you get the idea… :-)

For appetizer, we chose the:
Eggplant Napoleon~ Crisp eggplant chips layered with herbed goat cheese. Served with chunky roasted tomato beurre blanc.

For my dinner, I chose:
Roasted Beet Cake ~ savory cake of roasted beets, caramelized onions and garlic, served over sautéed spinach with braised fennel, red wine syrup and goat cheese lumpia.

Ron chose:
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast with dukkah marshmallow, sautéed haricots verts and tahini chicken reduction.

We shared an order of:
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with fresh corn, sautéed kale and poblano chili cream sauce.

Our desserts were (shared, though Ron let the Birthday Girl have nearly all the exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth Exploradora):
Lemon-Date Verrine~ Lemon-tequila curd and date cream, layered in a glass with toasted almonds. 
Exploradora~ Girl Scout Cookie Shortbread Crust with cayenne caramel custard, salted chocolate ganache and smoked paprika. Candied hazelnut garnish.

I salivate recalling every scrumptious bite! Plus, as an added bonus, the atmosphere was quite, relaxing, and the chef came around greeting customers about the time our dessert was served. Even Ron (who prefers very basic meals without much spice or sauce) said it was an excellent meal!

Overall, a fabulous, decadent experience, and the quality of the food has moved Feast to the very top of my favorite meals list.
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