Tuesday, August 13, 2013

everything i need to know, my garden taught me

This morning I was sitting in the "outside living room" I created a couple of days ago with two colorful indoor/outdoor mats I bought at my local garden store. I had my tea; nobody else was up; I thought I would be able to do Morning Pages and get centered and ready for the day, for at least a little while.

One word in (not kidding) I heard, from the top of the stairs in that luscious little voice I love: "gramma!!!! gramma!!!! morning hug and kiss!!!!"

Well. Anybody who would ignore "morning hug and kiss" in order to write a few more words does not know what love is. I put down my journal and my pen and went up the stairs and wrapped my arms around this lovely little sprite who joined our family almost four years ago.

It was still chilly out, even though this morning the fog hadn't rolled in and we had a beautiful clear blue sky, so I went and got her robe. She sat at the top of the stairs while I helped her into it and tied it around her luscious perfect little waist. Then we went down the stairs, holding hands, and out to the back patio.

Where I now have an oasis I only dreamed of a few months ago.

I did not see this coming. My back patio has been a wasteland of concrete for years now. I have looked out there and thought "Oh crap I SHOULD landscape this."

Well. That was a lot of shoulds. I've been "shoulding" on myself for as long as I can remember. It has not helped.

Notwithstanding all my shoulds -- I now have a space out back that I love spending time in. In fact, I can't wait to get out there in the morning, and in the evening I light candles and spend my time out there until it gets too cold.

How did this happen?

One day, a couple of months ago, Stella and I went to Pastime Hardware to buy something we needed (I don't remember what it was). We walked by a display of seed packets.

Stella noticed the seed packets. "ooo!!!" she said. "oh gramma!!!" she said.

So I said "Cool, Baby. Pick out what you like and let's plant them!"

So she did. She picked out sunflowers. and dwarf cosmos. and sweet peas. I bought them, thinking "Oh yeah, this will be like everything else I've planned for a garden in the last buncha years. These seed packets will sit on the dining room table until it's 2014 and they have passed their "use-by" date.

That could have happened. But it didn't. Because I had an approaching-four-year-old Being who was all about "planting babies" and taking care of them. So I bought some really good organic potting soil, and put it in the places where we would want to plant the seeds.

And then we planted the seeds.

We planted seeds. Little dry tiny nothing-to-write-home-about things we poured out of paper packets into our hands. We made little holes in new soil with our fingers (Stella was totally into that activity) and we put a seed in each little hole. Then we poured some water over the area where we had planted our seeds.

I've gardened. When I was in graduate school my front garden was so beautiful people would stop when they walked by my house and bask in the beauty of what was growing there.

I've gardened. But i've never planted from seeds.

Because I don't trust seeds. I look at seeds and I think "OH yeah. sure. I don't think so."

And then I go to the nursery and I buy seedlings that are already well on their way to being plants. And I plant those. Because I only trust what I can see has already emerged.

Imagine my shock when I look at my back patio and I see (from seeds) a fully fleshed out, mature garden.The sunflowers are taller than I am. The other day I witnessed a fat squirrel climbing up the stalk of one of them (it's strong enough to hold the weight of a full-grown fat squirrel) and wrest a small bloom off the stalk. Where we had a bare square left over from the apricot tree that died this spring, we now have a plethora of sunny yellow and orange dwarf cosmos, and nasturtiums. I've put in other flowering plants, in pots. They are thriving too. And adding the colorful mats has just brought the space to life.

To me, sitting out there in the sun now, or in the fog, it's just magic. I look around, and I cannot imagine what it was like before we planted those seeds. And I am astonished at what we have now.  And I don't know how that happened either.

Here's what I've learned, from this experience: I had a wasteland of a back patio. It was concrete. It was grey. I didn't know what to do with it. I had some fantasies. But no plans. Just a desire.

I bought some seeds.

I planted the seeds.

I watered.

When something showed up in my world that seemed it might fit, I bought it and put it back there too.

That's all I did.

I did not strive. I did not plan. I did not map out a strategy. I did not obsess. I did not spend a lot of money. I did not work hard. Nothing whatsoever about this was difficult.

All I did is follow my heart.

And now i have a heart's home.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

in shed, re-membering

Jake the Snake, my rosy boa constrictor
Yesterday I spent the entire day in bed, reading Book Three of the Ice and Fire Series. I only got up to pee and to eat. I had a heavy weight on my chest. My body felt alien to me. I'd look down at it and wonder whose it was. I heard my daughter and grand-daughter and pets out in the rest of the house and felt a gulf between their world and mine.

I wanted that gulf.

I didn't want to Be Here. I wanted to disappear. So I disappeared into fiction.

Truth is, I've felt this way for weeks.

By the end of the night I also knew that in the morning I would get up, and get busy, and start accomplishing things I'd been avoiding and delaying and putting off. I knew that I have had enough of feeling this way, and that in the morning I would take action whether I felt like it or not. I knew that sitting on my bed, even if I am "being productive" in some way, makes me feel like an invalid. I knew that in the morning I would not start my day sitting on my bed.

This morning, instead of having my cup of coffee on the bed, I sat in the wicker chair next to my rosy boa Jake's cage. As I drank my coffee and contemplated my day, I realized that what I've been experiencing the last few weeks is what we call shed in snake husbandry.

Every few months, Jakie gets unaccountably sluggish. He goes from being all about coming out of his cage and draping himself around my shoulders and exploring the environment and making friends with the other pets to lying curled up either behind or inside his warm hidey-hole and sleeping away the days. His skin gets dull and flaky. He refuses his rat pup. He seems to be in an all-around general funk. And he wants no part of me.

When I first got him I was apprehensive about taking good care of him. I fell in love at first sight. I have always loved snakes and when I found Jake I finally realized I could have one of my own. But I didn't yet know his patterns and I had to learn them as time passed. I'm accustomed to shed now. I don't always know that's what's going on with him, but I let him have his down time and figure he knows best what's right for him. Now that he's been with me for a couple of years I almost have the schedule down as well...it's been three months...he's acting anti-social, he's probably in shed.

What I just realized this morning is that I have similar patterns. They don't come every three months, thank heaven. But they come. And I'm in one of those times now. I have lost my "appetite." I have retracted from outward things. I have pulled my energy in. And I am shedding an old skin. It is the skin of what should have happened by now. It is the skin of what I should have accomplished. It is the skin of how I should be and how I should look. It is the skin of who I was when I was younger and who she thought she would be by now.

Perhaps it is the skin of expectations.

me at 23, photo Martha Cotton
My last post was a post of grieving. Of asking where is she? about my younger self. Here's the truth I'm remembering today: She is where she has always been. In her moment. Always. As I am in mine.

I know time is an illusion. I know every moment is eternal and we are always simultaneously present at all times and in every place. I know I am a multi-dimensional Divine Being pretending to be limited. So it is impossible for me to have lost her beauty and her promise. For me, these statements are not beliefs. They are not even convictions. They are experiences of consciousness.

I also know that in her moments as I lived them, she was equally not there, not content, berating herself. Doing to herself then -- when she was young, and so beautiful, and so full of promise -- what I have been doing to myself now, when my body has aged, and my promises are only partially fulfilled, and I know that might be the end of it this lifetime.

So why would I need to recapture that time? I don't need to.

What I have done, over the years, is shed. And shed again. And shed yet again. It has nothing whatsoever to do with failure.

Tonight I embrace that truth. Tonight I know I am in shed. Tonight I can feel the luster and softness and sheen of my new skin as it is emerging.

I accept my moment. I accept my Self in this moment. I know she encompasses all those "earlier" selves and that she has also shed them as she has needed to.

And I am excited to see what comes next as I move through this illusion of time.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

where is she now?

snake river twilight (capn firefly photo)
as this blog is a place for thinking through the space between dreams, it occurred to me that i could structure it along the lines of my first post, entitled "manifesto." it occurred to me that i could choose one line of the manifesto and write something that elaborates on it.

very well. i choose the line about not comparing myself to anybody else for any reason whatsoever.

i find that i fail in this most miserably with respect to my younger self. at this point in my life, age 62, i compare my now self to my past self and find my now self wanting. wanting execrably. because as of right now i have pretty much lost hope. i have pretty much lost my dreams. and i don't yet know what will come along to replace them. if anything.

here is the question i find myself asking: "where is the chansonette who...." and here are some of the permutations of that question:

where is the chansonette who believed her memoir would be published, and would touch millions of women who had suffered what she suffered as a child, and help them heal?

where is the chansonette who left her dead marriage believing that true love would find her? where is that true love?

where is the chansonette who fell in love and believed that love was the true one? and where is that love?

where is the chansonette who bought an old dilapidated house on a wish and a prayer and believed that she would be able to fix it up and make it beautiful and truly own it? and where is the chansonette who believed that some day her true love would join her there, and where is that true love?

where is the chansonette who believed in fitness and worked her body? where is that fitness? what happened to that beautiful body?

where is the chansonette who went through a phd program as a single parent on loans and believed that she would be 1) able to pay those loans back and 2) have a "career" in which she exercised her gifts and made a difference in the world? where is that career? what difference has she made?

where is the chansonette who knew without a doubt that she is a gifted healer and who believed that, when she was laid off from her day job at berkeley and forced into "retirement" it meant the time had come for her to make her living doing her gift and making a difference in the lives of others?

where is that "career" making a difference in the lives of others (not counting all the others who ask her to work on them "pro bono")?

where is the chansonette who believed that horses would be an integral part of her life? where are those horses?

where is the chansonette who rode horses, painted, sang, played flute, spoke spanish and french, ran, lifted weights, hiked, swam, biked, danced barefoot on beaches, made love, cooked, gardened, planned, dreamed, took risks, believed?

tonight? i don't know. but i hope i find her again soon.

and, more importantly, i hope she finds me.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


just for today, i will cut myself some slack.
just for today, i will cut myself enormous amounts of slack.
just for today, i will accept exactly where i am right now, in every area of my life, without assigning words like "success" and "failure" to any of it.
just for today, i will know that i am exactly where and how i am supposed to be, without obsessing about self-improvement.
just for today, i will refrain from beating myself up.
just for today, i will know that everything in my life up to this moment has happened exactly as it was supposed to, and that i have done the very best i could
just for today, i will focus on all the beauty that surrounds me
just for today, i will know that for each of my problems there is a solution, because the one could not manifest without the other
just for today, i will know that i am divinely equipped to find the solution for each of my problems
just for today, i will swap out the word "challenges" for the the word "problems" and remember that i have always risen to the occasion of meeting challenges
just for today, i will remember that even when i am cocooning and avoiding, i am rising to the occasion of my challenges, because down time is the necessary obverse of and prerequisite for action
just for today, i will not compare myself with anybody else, for any reason whatsoever
just for today, i will give myself credit for what i have accomplished, without reflecting on all the stuff i haven't accomplished
just for today, i will know that i am enough, just as i am
just for today, i will know that i am every bit as lovable as i am loving (and that is a lot!)
just for today, i will know that if it hasn't happened, it was either not supposed to happen or it is waiting in the wings for the divine right timing
just for today, i will say "no thank you" to the habit of worrying
just for today, i will remember that this lifetime fear has been my teacher, which means fear is my friend
just for today, i will let fear show me what matters most to me, without letting my fear of fear stop me from taking my divine right next step
just for today, i will give myself the benefit of the doubt
just for today, i will remember that even though it sometimes looks like i just keep landing in the same place over and over again, tackling the same challenges over and over again, in truth i never land at all -- i am consciousness in motion and every heartbeat is a whole new world
just for today, i will remember that the only time and place is here and now
just for today, i will remember that here and now i am well, safe, and provided for
just for today, i will remember that i am a beloved idea in the mind of god