Cape

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Coming home is
the arc of the bridge,
the struts making
shadows on the water’s edge.

The waves shyly
showing their tips now and
then, gulls screeing
for all that lives below.

Coming home is
the piney woods, each trunk
skinny in it’s
efforts to find the sun.

The tops, feathery
and fragrant, waving in the
salty breeze. Dancing.
Pine needles cushion the floor.

Coming home is
the grist mill pond, still
and green, feathers
floating, the goose still hissing.

The ghosts of
lantern boats from summer nights
long past, the
laughing of children still echoing.

Coming home is
hard, and yet once you
get there, it’s
so familiar, it calls you

from so many
memories written in the sand
in the places
your footsteps still are outlined.

Coming home is
the curving of the dunes
and the rocky
shore, seaweed scattered all over.

The lifeguard chair,
towering high above it all
still needs paint,
while continuing to stand sentry.

Coming home is
the grasses of the salt
marsh, gold and
red and teaming with life.

The red winged
blackbird, the thrush, the
creatures hidden within
it’s depths, calling to you.

Coming home is
all that and more, welcoming
the parts of
you that wish you’d stay.

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homecoming

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I’m home. After driving more than 1200 miles and sleeping in six beds in nine days, across eight states, I am home.

This trip was different than most – I drove rather than flying, I went back to a place I once knew well rather than exploring new territory,  I didn’t stay in one place more than a few days rather than my usual way of exploring from a home base.  And in many ways, I went back and forth in time pretty rapidly.

I grew up in New England, on a small spit of sand known as Cape Cod.  Often romanticized, it was pretty remote back in the 60’s and 70’s, in the winter at least.  It is the place where I was born, where some of my ancestors arrived on a ship called the Mayflower and others, the natives,  greeted them with mixed feelings.  It is the place that was quiet, damp and grey for nine months of the year, then sprang to life in blues and greens and golds and huge numbers of people for the summer season.  It is the place where I learned what fear can do to human beings, that magic was scary and verboten, that being myself was a dangerous thing.

And so I left.  Before graduation, before I turned eighteen, before I could recognize that even with all the dark, there was so much good.  I threw the proverbial babies – many, many of them – out with the bathwater and for a long, long, time, I didn’t look back.  Or go back.  Not for decades, other than once or twice out of duty, briefly and without opening my eyes to what was really there.

Until a couple years ago, when I returned for a magical retreat with the lovely Mara Glatzel, one that was called “Restore”, interestingly.  And it did, indeed, begin to restore my connection to what once was my home – something I had denied for so long.  It was a huge step, that initial return and reconnection with a few relatives, with a few places I once loved.  I flew in and out and admired the Cape from far above.  I saw the beauty that Patti Page sang about, that called so many there for summers spent on the beaches and playing Monopoly on screened porches in the inevitable rain.  It was a beginning, for sure, though I didn’t dive very deep.

It took another couple years to bring myself to drive from the DC area where I now live, spending a night in New Jersey along the way, not far from where my father grew up, stopping for breakfast in a little town in Connecticut, drinking Lipton tea for the first time in eons.  I drove over the Sagamore Bridge on a glorious fall day, the bay sparkling in the sunlight, the trees waving in the breeze, and for the first time in longer than I can remember, I felt like I was going home.  Somehow the GPS took me through the tiny town where my mother was born, on the way to the home of my childhood friend where I would spend a couple days realizing how, despite our different paths, we’ve pretty much ended up in the same place at this point in our lives.  Where I would see how much her son reminds me of her father, one of the very kindest men I have ever known, a man who showed me what a good man looked like, what a good father could be.  Where she introduced me to her life now, to her current friends who welcomed me as one of their own, with incredible generosity and openness.

There were reconnections of all sorts along the way, high school friends and long loved spots, one after another.  The Cape was showing off – the salt marshes beginning to go gold and red, the sun shining daily and the nights cool and clear with stars galore, the food better than I remembered, fresh and briny.  My cousins and aunt welcoming me so lovingly, saying the kindest things about the child I once was, spinning my mind in ways I can’t really describe.  They never believed I was awful, or  a miserable wretch, as I was so often told.  They described the child I was as engaging, adorable, curious.  I’m still trying to integrate that.  They put those beliefs I’ve held onto for over a half century back where they belong – in the mouths of the parents who were raising me, the ones who were so unable to see who I was, to connect with me on any level.

There was so much good.  I met, on the Cape, and later in Rhode Island and New York, the loveliest people.  Showed the friends who met me for this year’s retreat all the places I’d once loved, the day to day-ness of my childhood, and I saw it through their eyes, through an untainted lens for the very first time.  We stayed blocks from the place I lived my earliest days in, around the corner from the library where I spent so much of my childhood, where I was told I was a born photographer, where I did my first television interview at the tender age of eleven.  I took them to Sandwich, the town where many of my relatives grew up, where the spirit of the early days of the Cape is still preserved, where they learned to say “wicked wicked hard” from a fabulous tour guide as we learned about the daily lives of the earliest settlers in a tiny house where my great grandfather once lived.  We explored the beach where I learned to swim, the rocky one where I once tracked turtles, and collected shells and rocks and the largest intact horseshoe crab I’ve ever seen.  Souvenirs that I’ll keep close by to remind me of all I left behind.

We drove together to the tip of the Cape, to the province lands, to the National Seashore which was established the year I was born.  We joined more beautiful women and I let my heart open more and more to them, to the place, to all the good in the very location I’d once run away from, as fast and hard and soon as I could. I sank into the sand and the piney woods and the sound of the ocean, the sunset and the moonrise and the rough mosaic of the jetty on the coldest evening of the early autumn, that last night on the Cape.  To good company, great food and lots of magic.  I felt welcome, at home in a whole different way.  I relaxed and let down my guard, something I still don’t do as easily as I would like.

And then I had my heart broken, early that last morning, in the most unexpected way.  As I stayed for the closing circle, fighting the urge to flee again, fast and hard and as soon as I could, I let myself feel all the sadness of not only that break, but how my heart broke when I left the first time, some thirty odd years before.  I flew away then, allegedly for the summer yet knowing I’d never go back.   This time,  I realized, as I drove the length of the Mid Cape Highway, I had a choice.  I could, once again, throw out all the good with the bad.  I could feel so hurt that I blamed the place again, forgetting about all that phenomenally good stuff that I’d seen and done and felt in the first seven days and focus on the one difficult thing that had happened, the conversation that somehow had me believing once again that I was the worst person on earth, that I’d failed in everything I had worked so hard to transform in myself over the decades.  Or I could realize that I am a human being, that the person on the other end of that heartbreak was human too, that sometimes we trigger each other.  That we can’t be everything to everyone.  That we are human beings, not gods, and that this, too, is part of living.

I could realize that I was doing again what I had so often done before.  That I was defining myself by the perception of others.  I could admit that, at 54 years old, I don’t really have time to do that anymore.  That it’s not the way I want to live my life.  I could drive to Rhode Island, to the home of two of the sweetest souls I know – three, if you count their beautiful dog, and sit under the full/super/blood moon and it’s lunar eclipse that evening, listening to the buoy bells and the waves lapping against the sand.  I could let it all go.  I could come home to myself, once and for all.

And so I did.

I am home.

 

 

 

clarity

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You asked and I finally answered.  Thanks for your patience.

 

While most of the work I do comes to me through recommendations and referrals, it’s time to be clear about the ways we can work together.   Here’s the link to the page with all my current offerings.  Feel free, of course, to contact me about anything you need in particular – I’m all for customizing things to fit you well.

 

Yesterday, I put out the first of a series of invitations to something new that I’ve been wanting to weave for some time now.  It’s called the Sovereign Soul Circle and you can find out more about it here.  The response has been amazing, so please contact me if it feels like just the thing for you!

 

And now, I’m off on another adventure – a gathering of lovely souls and a visit back to the place I was born.  Stay tuned.  I’ll bet there’ll be a few posts in this one!

live

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I have to push myself sometimes.

I have to remember that I am living in 2015, in a fairly privileged and extremely sheltered way in some regards. I have to remember that I am in a fully grown body, that I am safe, that those who love me will not hurt me. I have to remember, in fact, that they love me.

I have to live in the body that was once beaten and tortured and bears the scars of both that and decades of medical intervention – some of it well meant and some of it not, all of it done out of fear and frustration. I have to live into that body, reminding myself that I am safe and more than that, that I am held. i have to remember that it’s ok to treat myself well, to care for the broken and healed bits, both. To take my time and to stay in my body.

I have to remember not to disappear, not to let my mind take me away from the physical pain but to instead use it as a compass, as a map for the healing I still have to do. I have to stop putting mind over matter and forcing myself to do what is not in my best interest, no matter how much others would like me to do otherwise, no matter how much I believe I might not be loved if I don’t cooperate. If I am not a good girl, if I am not nice.

I have to recall who I am really am, the work my soul is so ready to do, the gifts I have always carried. I have to know, deeply and truly, that I am loved, that I always have been, that I always will be – even when there is seemingly evidence to the contrary.

Because here’s the thing: I get to live. Out loud, outright, outrageously. I get to reclaim what is mine, what I am, what lies ahead for me and for the world, if only I can leap into it, freely and with a great deal of joy. I get to be who I am, and I get to allow others to be who they are. I get to travel to foreign lands, on the planet and in other planes. I get to broaden my horizons and paint the incredibly beautiful ones I see in my dreams.

I get to do it all. This time, I get to stay. I get to live.

Ease

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This day. It holds so much potential, so much room for grace and ease.

It began in the early morning light, wisps of clouds illuminated from behind, it seemed, bringing in the cooler air, clearing that heaviness late summer can bring.

Soon enough, the birds started greeting the day, the chirps and whistles and trills, their wings slicing through the emerging blue, opening my heart and perhaps their own.

My body twisted and stretched between the warmth and weight of the soft white sheets and the multicolored quilt above, the many threads being pulled and release by the movement.

The dogs barked, a sign that the pilgrimage of young children on their way to the school at the bottom of the hill had begun, across the street on the bike path which connects the city with the mountains, if you follow it all the way.

An early morning kiss and a questioning of how we slept exchanged with my beloved, the wish of a good day ahead and a pause to remember what a gift he is, this companion on my path.

The pulling on of a favorite soft shirt and stretchy pants, ones that can withstand the splashing of paint later in my beautifully chaotic studio, the knowing that today there is time to dance and paint and play.

The intake of breath, the pause and the holding of that air within, the finding of the still place, the steady release, the pulling in of the diaphragm. The present and the present, this ability to breathe freely.

The flicker of light of the magic box, bringing me news of friends far and near, an invitation to be a part of a new and wondrous offering, the opportunity to capture the essence of a brave soul. The love sent and received.

The boiling of water, the measuring of spice and black tea leaves, the chopping of greens and fresh limes. The whirring of machines as the dogs smile, hopeful and on their best behavior. The pouring of it all.

And the sitting in the carefully chosen (so long ago now, as we made our home) chair, the arms faded and silky. The setting of the timer, the flowing of the words, the joy of expression.

This day. It holds so much potential, so much room for grace and ease.

Later in the morning, it came to my attention that this is a significant day.  Here’s what I posted on Facebook…

Today, I’m told, is Suicide Prevention Day.
Almost exactly 17 years ago, I tried to kill myself. Luckily, I failed. Luckily, there were wonderful people who caught me, who held me, who kept me company through years and years of remembering, processing, healing. Luckily, I’m still here, and I get to catch and hold and keep other beautiful souls.
If you are feeling unwelcome in this world, or so overwhelmed with pain/shame/giref/whatever that it feels like you can’t stay, know that I see you, that many can and will see you. And while it can be a hard road, this one to staying, it is one that leads to incredible beauty, to love, to the truth that you are, indeed, a very valuable part of this place we call home.
If you need help, please ask. It’s there, just waiting for you. Ask here, call a hotline, talk to someone on the bus. There are angels here on earth, everywhere.
Please stay with us.

fencing

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Good fences make good neighbors, or so they say. It’s a fine line, though, isn’t it, the creation and maintenance of a visible boundary and yet allowing for the relationship? And if you think about it, no one really teaches us Fence Building 101 – not in school, not ever.

And yet there’s truth to it. There is something about the human organism which requires containment, a safe place in which to regenerate and at the same time, we need to know that we are not alone. Just another paradox in this being human adventure, of course, and perhaps a really fundamental one.

How do we teach our children, our selves, our world to allow for this? To see both imaginary and literal borders as protected, as sovereign, as sacred? More plainly put, as a good thing, versus something to fight over, to overtake, to invade?

And how do we maintain our fences yet be sure that there are gates which we can open from time to time? Gates which open easily and allow for us to visit with each other, to welcome those we love and those we do not know…this seems to be the trickier part.

I live in a country which seems to maintain its fences in a way that is largely powered by fear, or at the very least, by a great deal of anxiety. In our constant vigilance, our wanting to protect our freedoms, our desire for protection, who knows what good company we are keeping out as we lock down our gates more securely than ever. In a country grown and expanded by the very presence of generations of immigrants, we seem to have forgotten that new blood can be a very very good thing.

My greatest fear in all of it is this: that our innermost and personal fences may be following the very same pattern. That in creating super fences, we may well be isolating ourselves in ways that eliminate neighbors altogether. That we will all become foreign to each other.

And that could be the beginning of the end of humankind.

 

 

Another ten minute free writing piece from my writing group with Jena Schwartz.  Amazing, what a simple prompt will pull up!

The image is from an installation at Cornerstone Garden in Sonoma.  I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

Luna

 

The usual three a.m. waking happened today, though this morning after taking care of the immediate urge, I noticed the palest light coming in the windows behind the sleek modern tub and opened the door to the outdoor shower area – snow white towels glowing on their hooks, in that light – closing it quietly behind me. The moon, still so full and palpably “super”, was hanging right there a bit above the fenced wall, beaming at me through the silverly veil of the early morning fog over the mountains just below it. My heart opened and I tapped into it’s light and fullness in ways that defy explanation and have everything to do with trust. Trust that tis is always here, for me, for all of us; that this connection is so primal that nothing can separate us; that the light inside me answers to this light source above me, whether I deliberate tap into it or not.

 
I stood there, and let it enter into every cell of my being, transfixed and unable to move. I’ve no idea how long we stayed like that, just the two of us, or so it seemed, until a bird called and woke me and I felt the chill of the night air.
Slipping back under the covers, I thought about all the people I love – the one beside me, the one I brought into this world, the others I’m connected to in inexplicable ways that feel much like this connection to the moon. Do they know that they are tapped into that glowing ball of who knows what, the one that brings the tides in and out, the one that helped me to birth my daughter and myself? Do those of us who are born under a full moon feel it more or is is a God given right that each of us human beings has, though we are often oblivious to the connection?

 
In the morning, of course, the moon had vanished, leaving only wispy fog which the sun would waste no time in clearly. The moon, it seems, has moved into my heart. Once tapped, perhaps it stays with us, a never-ending gift.

vow

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I am devoted to love, in all its many forms. To finding a way, each day to come home to myself, to honor the child within me who fought so hard to stay on this earth, to allow her to play and to feel steeped in a love far greater than anything she could possibly have received in those early days. To allowing that love to radiate from me, to me, and out beyond me to those whose paths I cross, in the literal or figurative sense. To letting myself stumble, fall and rise again, knowing that what I do has far less value than how I show up in this world, than how I be.
I am devoted to diving deep. To opening my mind and my heart to all the possibilities for expansion and growth, for stillness and remembering. To exploring what has been, what is happening around me now, and what is to come. To allowing for the incredible differences between me and the souls I come into contact with, and the myriad ways I show up, with myself and with them.
I am devoted to wonder. To seeking out beauty, especially the tiniest examples of it, the little things that are so easily missed – the way tiles line up on a roof top or the intricacy of the lines bisecting the wings of the moth fluttering at my window. To observing the youngest among us and the way they greet everyone and everything they encounter with such incredible curiosity. To observing the light and the shadow, both, and to remembering that without one, we would never have the other and that the gift is so much about the interplay between the two.
I vow to continue to live this way, to devote myself over and over again to these practices. I vow to live steeped in love, to dive deep each day in order to find the treasure in the most common and the very spectacular, and to wonder at it all. I vow to really live my life, fully and well.

 

 

And I’m curious.  What is your vow?

 

 

The sculpture, “The Age of Enlightenment – Antoine Lavoisier”,  is  by Yinka Shonibare, at the Hirshhorn here in DC.