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

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.
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