Hidden in Childhood #poetry #childhood

I am going to share a spoken poem with you. This is a first for me. Recording my voice to share my poetry in a public way. Why did I choose this particular poem to share? It was recently published in an anthology called Hidden in Childhood, which is a collection of more than 100 poems by different authors compiled and edited by Gabriela Marie Milton.

A few days ago, I discovered that Boz Bozeman had chosen my poem, “The Girl Who Should Have Been a Boy” to read aloud during a poetry event. Thank you, Boz. I’m not sure I can express how much this impacted me. If someone else can speak my words, I realized, so can I. If you’d like to hear my recording, you can listen to it here:

If you are curious how the poem came about, I will give you a brief history. To put it succinctly, I was supposed to be a boy. My birthfather made this clear before I was born, and my mother shared it with me often when I was a child as an example of his rejection. When I was became a child of my stepfather’s, my being a girl became his disappointment. He did not shy away from sharing it with our family, or people we met.

Thus, I adopted the rejection of not being a boy, and never quite feeling like I could be loved by my two fathers because I was born into the body of a girl. I became convinced this was a primary reason my birthfather gave us up, and why my stepfather gave us conditional love. My sister and I spent many hours trying to pretend we were the boys he wanted, pushing toy trucks in the dirt, watching him working at his workshop…but they were not happy hours.

I imagine this poem has a more universal truth to it. Many, if not most, of us have experienced rejection for not being the way someone else, or society, would like us to be.

The Monk in the Bunker: A Visionary Experience #visions #mindfulness #dreams

Not exactly the vision I was given, but I like how this image presents a similar concept

I wasn’t exactly dreaming, in fact, I wish I were at the time. It was the middle of the night, or rather the wee hours of the morning long before the sun rises over the crest of Earth were I live. And, I was awake, too awake. My mind had become a playground for my thoughts, which ran amok in wild abandon, swinging from the neuron’s of my brain like defiant children refusing to go to bed.

As a teacher of yoga, you’d think I’d know how to tame these wild beasts into submission. I have plenty of tools tucked away in my yoga toolbox, but on nights like these I often find myself on the losing side of the battle. When the stress of life overwhelms me, I am reminded of how much I have become attached to worry. And, usually that reminder arrives around 3 am.

So, there I was, with my eyes closed upon the pillow encased in a womb of stillness, and a mind ablaze with color and action. Then, suddenly, in the midst of it all, the truculent children of my worries dispersed and a metal fortress began to take shape. The metal grew behind my closed lids in breadth and height until it was all that I could “see,” then wrapped itself into a half oval. It was, I realized, a mighty bunker so large and impenetrable I was sure it must be holding the most powerful of weapons known to humankind.

I was right. Even though what I saw inside was not what I had expected.

Floating within his own aura of light, sat a monk. His eyes were closed, his brow unfurled into a smooth canvas, and his lips lifted into the slightest of smiles. The armored shell that I thought was encasing him was nowhere in sight. Instead, all I saw was the monk, floating in his bubble of light.

The angst outside that armored fortress had disappeared and a pure, unfettered peace had taken its place, dissolving that false sheath that seems so real at those times when we succumb to our own distress. And that’s when sleep found me and welcomed me to rest.

Take a Walk with Me & Wonder #joy #wonder

What does it mean to “walk with wonder?”

Is it a question you have ever considered? Or, perhaps it is your customary way of interacting with the world around you. For most of us who are no longer living inside the bodies of children, I think, living with wonder takes a bit of effort. Or, more aptly put, a fair amount of surrender. It is a mindful act of welcoming the magic of life back into our awareness.

In February, as part of a 4-day a yoga and book club series of events based upon the lessons from my middle grade metaphysical fantasy book, The Labyrinth, I will be guiding a “walk with wonder” at a local hiking spot. This idea has been playing around inside of my mind for some time now. And, as many of you who read my blog on a regular basis will know, it is not a concept that is foreign to who I am. I am an adventurer my nature, and love nothing better than getting outside and exploring the magic it has to offer up.

I can’t say that every moment I spend in nature is an opening to wonder, but when I allow that conscious, mindful surrendering to occur, I am never disappointed. Sometimes the results are familiar, sometimes they are a surprise. You never quite know what you are going to encounter with your senses when they are tuned to the world around you.

And so, as I thought about what it means to “walk with wonder,” I found myself scrolling through some of the photos I have taken during my walks over the last few years. Finding, you might say, the proof in the pictures. You don’t need a camera to capture the wonder around you, you merely need a willing heart. Sometimes, in fact, the camera is a distraction. To fully walk in wonder, it is probably better left at home, or in your pocket if it’s attached to your phone.

Nonetheless, here are a few things you might find when you walk with wonder:

How dazzling and intricate even the smallest of nature’s homes can be
Even decay can be glorious when cradled with light
The magic of a mysteriously placed treasure upon your path that seems intended just for you
When you feel the pull to stop and look closely, you may find nature looking back at you
There is more to life than we often understand, and that mystery is magic
Love is ever-present, and even the stones hold the light of the heart
The seemingly inert and inanimate are more alive than we may think
Showing us their faces in the most unlikely of places
Reminding us that death is but a ruse of time
Take a walk with me and wonder and see what we may find along the way:
The temporary vessel lingering just long enough for you to realize beauty is ever-lasting

A Waking World? #midterms #equality

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

As I sit here in the midst of sorting through the aftermath of the midterms elections in the United States, which are still proving to be not very united, my mind is filled with my own polarizing thoughts. Glimmers of light have cropped up across the nation: Massachusetts has appeared to have elected their first woman and openly gay governor, Maryland, their first black man, and Fetterman has defeated Trump’s henchman, Oz in Pennsylvania. Yes, there is hope. Hope that we can continue to step in the direction of equality not just for humanity, but for this larger ecosystem we are all a part.

Last night I had an impromptu dinner with my sister and her children. It was an historic day. Her son, 18, voted in his first election. I am so proud of the younger generations who are making their voices heard. My daughter, who is studying in London this year, crossed the pond to cast her vote early. In the background, the news through NPR is being projected through my kitchen speaker. A few moments ago, a young man was featured. His voice clear and strong, but not without force. Instead, there was the strength of conviction, of confidence, intelligence, and compassion. His is the voice of masculinity balanced by compassion and empathy.

There are so many in the younger generations who are speaking up, and voting, for a better world. A world where all are treated equal, where women’s reproductive rights are basic human rights, where diversity is embraced and the planet, this home we all share, is respected as a living body that is worthy of respect and nurturing. Yes, I am still hopeful, perhaps even more than hopeful, that as we continue on with our lives we will grow a unifying respect for all life, not just for our own personal interest.

I’m still, though, on the fence about Florida. One cannot help but wonder if they really do want to sink into the ocean. They’re certainly heading rapidly in that direction. Some of them may not live long enough to see it, but…

A Reminder of Origin #yoga #toxic-masculinity #unity-consciousness

A pond in Hooksett, NH that was a delightful destination to a nature walk with my husband. A popular path for many, yet walked with a reverence that holds the landscape with peace and joy.

If I go back to the origin of my blog’s title and consider the impetus of the name, I am reminded of the pulse behind the darkness. We are, undeniably, immersed in a time of chaos that can be over-whelming. More often than I’d like to, I find myself considering whether we are a World Gone Mad.

These days I can count insanity by just one degree of separation, sometimes less. On Sunday I conversed with a colleague who was trying to find her grounding after bearing witness to the aftermath of a senseless shooting: A father shot dead by a young man, unrelated. Two kids left behind to watch it from a car’s window.

In my hometown, the community FB page is filled with comments about a man who took it upon himself to drain an entire pond, destroying a beaver dam and countless lives, so that he and his friends could ride their snowmobiles in winter. A season used to be, but is not often, without snow.

I cannot help but wonder if the world has gone mad. Next door, the neighbor who talked to me about love and community years ago as we both displayed our Obama signs with hope has, it seems, turned to the dark side. The opposite of hope and love, staked to her ground.

What is happening? Why is it so easy for us to fall into hatred and fear? Why is it so difficult for us to pause, consider, and breathe the light back into our collective story?

We are succumbing to our own madness through a belief that our world is spinning out of our control. Thinking, ever-foolishly, that we are here to control it. The land is mine to mold my way…

Instead of, I am of the Earth, and therefore a part of all life it nourishes.

Simple facts forgotten. Ignored.

I honor the light in you that is also in me. Therefore, I will do no harm.

I find myself turning to the land with every excuse I can muster. I have taken up foraging as a reason to walk into my wild home and find peace and connection. Belonging returns when the heart opens back to its origins. More than ever I have become a fervent believer that our salvation as humans will only return when we turn to the Earth with reverence. And through this return, find our origin. We are of the Earth, but not limited by it.

One vast body boundless

Yet we allow ourselves to be limited by our own myopic vision. We allow fear to establish our parameters and this fear grows to mistrust, which too often turns to hatred.

I find myself using the term “toxic masculinity” all too often, but there is a disturbing truth to this phrase. It is what kills the hope and love inside of us. It is rapidly seeking dominance again, as it has so often done in our collective history. Why are we afraid of the softening? Why are we afraid of vulnerability? Of surrender? Of love?

We are not truly held by walls and barricades. They are blocks. Temporary, but more often than not, dangerous. They shut us out from the wider world. They block the light of life. They block the greater truth. They block the flow of energy that seeks our connection. They block our coming home to ourselves.

On Sunday, my colleague and I also spoke of this lose of connection. We are both yoga instructors, but our desire to thread this idea of union is not limited to the mat of practice. We spoke of Earth. Of nature and our connection to it. We spoke of how to bring the concepts of yoga, which share the teachings of all the ancient wisdoms, out into the community in a way that brings us home to ourselves through a reconnection with wonder and nature.

During one of my foraging walks with another friend, conversation led to physical education classes and how simple and effective it would be to switch the focus from competitive sports to exercises like nature walks. Imagine combining P.E. with science, writing, history, and, an inherent mindfulness. The possibilities turn from limiting, to limitless. It’s in some ways a radical shift in perspective, but it’s also a chance at our salvation. Each child given a sense of belonging instead of vying for one.

If we all had that sense of belonging, would we need to erect walls to separate? Would we need to point fingers and declare, “You are not good enough?”

True connection to one’s self and the greater “world,” unites. It is yoga. It is a coming home to the self and the self’s origins which, at its essence, is a limitless belonging.

One vast body, boundless

Happy Earth Birthday, Sue. We continue to miss you…#suevincent

Sue at Wayland’s Smithy on the last day we spent together.

For Sue

Sister of the wild moors

Daughter of the dragon stones

your body returned to the hills

but the winds hold the memory of you

the soft touch on the shoulder

the voice, sometimes a whisper, sometimes

a howl, never leaves. Oh winged one 

what does it feel like to fly

again, over the land you love?

How long does it take to trace the tracks

back to the stars? The world beyond wonder

opened full, no longer a yearning, but home

In the days after my daughter flies away to London #college #leavinghome

Image by Jürgen from Pixabay

We left her at the airport the day after the apples in our favorite orchard were ready to be picked. Two days later, the peaches on our tree would begin to yield to our tug. Before she left, I was already starting a tally of what she would miss. Or maybe, If I am honest, it was more about what I would miss.

My daughter, who arrived in this world with eyes wide open and determined to take in fully the life laid out before her, was more ready to leave than I was to let her go. Even if it meant flying over the ocean to begin college in a city that she had only visited for one rather hectic day eight years ago. It was not the drop-off I would created if I could create it for us, but it was fitting for the way my daughter has chosen to take on this life she has been given. My winged girl always knowing how to soar, even when it was a struggle for me to release her.

I spent half of yesterday, three days after her departure, cleaning her room. The house was quiet. My husband at work, my son at school, only the pets to keep complete solitude at bay. It took me the better part of the morning. I went through two handfuls of rags and filled the washer three times to release the dust of more than a dozen years from the blankets and forgotten garments wedged underneath and on the side of her bed. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but nearly.

I took my time placing the gray flannel sheets with snowflakes on her bed. Pulling the edges tight around a mattress that would not be slept in before December. I nearly forgot about summer as I piled on her holiday pillows and folded the colors of Christmas at the foot of her bed. Before she left, my daughter asked if I would go through her binders and folders from her last year of high school, but I told her I would do more than that. Instead of leaving her room untouched, just how she would have kept it had she been home to use it, I knew I needed to clean it. The release had to be as full and complete as I could make it.

I didn’t want her to feel held back. Even from 3,000 miles away. Even from London, I knew she would feel my tug. So I cleaned and tried to think about how much she would appreciate coming home to order free of dust. To having her closet and shelves sorted, and her desk and bureau free of clutter. Her bed made with clean sheets meant to keep in the warmth.

Despite the calendar reminding me that we still had nearly three weeks of summer left, I tugged the air conditioner out of her window, and swiped the dust cloth across its surface before I tucked it into the newly vacuumed corner of her closet. I noticed the gray film on the window frames, grabbed a clean cloth and the glass cleaner to wipe them clear.

It was nearly noon by the time I untied the sashes from her curtains and pulled them to the center of her closet. To keep the dust out I told myself, but all I could see was a closed space. I lowered her windows by a couple of inches, left their shades up to keep the light in, then left my daughter’s door wide open as I exited her space. To keep the air fresh, I told myself.

During the night I woke often, as has become my habit this summer, to peer through the crack of my bedroom door to look for the light in her room. I didn’t see it until morning, when I knew it was time to get up and greet the day in whatever form it presented to me. I walked passed by daughter’s room and the door that had not been closed during the night, with a new load of laundry in my hands trying not to think about how different the lines of clothes would look outside drying in the sun.

The Dream of a Life #lifegoal #aspirations

To help build my vision into reality, I enjoy taking photos of “Wild Wonders.”

If you could dream anything into being what would it be? We all harbor secret longings and aspirations. There’s that needling, persistent urge inside of each of us that won’t let us go. Or maybe you have followed that needling and somehow brought your dream into reality. Whatever the story might be, I’d love to hear about it. Share it in the comments, send me it as a guest post, whatever pulls your heart toward joy…I’d love to hear about it. Let’s share those secret, or not so secret, longings that sometimes keep us up at night with all their wonderful “what ifs.”

My middle grade character Aponi is able to shape-shift into a monarch butterfly

My secret longings have changed over the years, but there have been some constants. There has always been a pull inside of me to help bring more beauty into the world to erase some of the darkness… These days there’s a nagging dream that follows me while I walk in the woods. It seeps into my dreams and shows me the full beauty of its wonderment. I don’t know if it will ever be realized, but maybe, just maybe someday I will see it transform into the daylight. When I envision it, it makes my heart sing. Isn’t that what all dreams without the nightmare are meant to do?

I have become particularly enraptured by the “Winged Wonders” around me.

I’m sharing my dream with you in the hopes that you will share yours too. That perhaps it will spark a light that grows a little stronger as we find the courage to find a home for each of our secret longings.

Here is the “dream” that fills me with the Wild Wonder of What-If:

Imagine a place, if you will, where people can go to find their own wild wonder. Where we are moved to step outside the confines of structure and conformity to find that home inside the heart where we realize we are a part of everything that surrounds us. It is a place where nature runs wild and free and where we are reminded of home. That we are not separated from, but a part of the whole, and the natural world that surrounds us.

This winged beauty reminds me of Sue, who seems to be ever-present as I “dream.”

In my dream there are “centers” where people can explore wild wonder and what it means to them. They are places where the inner child opens to joy and finds home inside the self and all that surrounds it. Perhaps that center offers classes and workshops, or maybe it is simply a gateway to nature. The only rules are kindness and compassion. Both for the self, and for our surroundings.

Winged Joy

It is perhaps a movement, more than a place. A reconnection to our roots. The knowing that we are not just of the Earth and all that exists, but a part of it.

Because I’m writing a middle grade book series that very much centers around this concept, my dream includes the heroes of my books and their passions. At the centers I envision:

  • Sula’s Library of Wonderful Reads
  • Aponi’s Field of Pollinator Delights
  • Shesha’s Meditation & Mindfulness Maze
  • Lupe’s Local Eats Organic Cafe
  • Dell’s Fantastic Fairy Gardens & Pools
  • Ari’s Adventure Walks in the Woods

And so much more…

It’s fun to dream about what we want to create, but creating can be a challenge. I am trying to bring my vision forth in steps. Writing the book series is one of them. My husband and I talk about where we might live someday when our kids are out of college, and I can envision the first center perhaps beginning at that place. After all, my ideas for the centers arose out of a walk I took with him on the 4th of July. Somehow we landed at a place that perfectly suited this vision. It had, already, all the foundations of the elements I saw in the vision. The property, though, was not for sale. That’s okay, we’re not ready to move.