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.

Spiritual Bypassing and Working with the “Light” #spiritualbypassing #lightworkers

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Once again, like many others, I am feeling deeply bothered by the state of the world in which we all live. Today I am thinking of the words of Louis Armstrong and his beautiful lyrical antidote to a troubled world. A world that, more than fifty years later, feels, well, no less-troubled.

Where have we gone wrong? How do we make right?

We still cling to our violence like an infant clings to his “blankie.” We are hesitant to let go. The lust for power and greed continually supersedes our common good. We are a broken beautiful world trying to exists in the extremes of violence (mankind) and beauty (nature).

I use the world “mankind,” because let us be clear that it is the driving force of masculinity, whether it exists in a so-called male of female body, that lends itself towards violent acts. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it often is in our world. The driving force is also the creative force, bringing forth life instead of death, in all its myriad forms.

It is working with the “light” that drives the life force that threads through all of us in its purest form. It is what Christ strived for, and Buddha. It is a quest for a balance and harmony. For the common good of all life.

And here we are stuck in the throes of our extremes. Many of us are struggling to incite change: signing petitions, calling senators, picketing our capital buildings, voting…while knowing it is simply not enough.

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I don’t know what it is going to take for us to put aside our accumulated lust for power and find our common ground. I wish I did.

One thing that nags me continuously though, is those we keep silent. Those who pull the card of spirituality without actually doing the real work. The term spiritual bypassing was coined by a psychotherapist named John Welwood to define individuals who use spirituality and its practices as a way of bypassing the real work of healing and changing their lives. Now it is a term used to also include the lives of others.

We see it all the time. It has become a chronic problem. An excuse for either doing nothing, or worse, doing the wrong thing. I am stretching the limits of this term to define all of those who claim to be following the path of the “light,” but refusing to do the real work to support the balance and harmony of life, whether it be within or outside of them.

We see it everywhere, in all of its masked forms. Self-ascribed christians refusing to give up their weapons of death used to murder children. We see it in self-ascribed light-workers refusing to acknowledge their individual and our shared darkness in their need to hold onto the ideal of the “light” they think shines more brightly within them. Their need to feel special superseding the good they proclaim to spread in the world. Instead of digging into fact-based, real-world problems to work towards bringing light to our collective darkness, they add to the darkness by spreading falls theories created by bots and deranged individuals intent of perpetrating the chaos in the world. The irony is almost too much to bear, but bear it they do, with a perverse sense of delight. Otherwise they would not be “special.”

This chronic need to be special and have control over others negates the real work of the light and being a spiritual being, whether you are professed follower of Christ, Buddha, Allah…a pantheon of gods or one God.

A world filled with beings who are striving to be separate. To feel special. To be better. Beings that feast on individual greed and need…with always tip towards chaos.

Our beautiful world of “skies of blue,” and “fields of green,” is raging. Fires burn in lands turned arid by mankind’s greed. Fires burn from the bullets of guns, destroying life, over and over again, because of mankind’s lust for power and control. And the fires of denial burn in the hearts of those who bypass the real work of life and cling to their sense of otherness.

We cannot live in a wonderful world without doing the real work of nurturing life itself.

In Memoriam: “Gram”

It’s been a week since my grandmother left this life and rejoined the realm of spirit. She was 94.5 years old, and for the last two decades of her life she awaited the day when she would be rejoined with her beloved husband, the man I used to call Poppy.

Donald and Elizabeth Davis, aka Poppy and Gram

I feel lucky to have had my Gram in my life for nearly half a century. It is a much longer time than most. My mother was a young mother when she brought me into the world, and her mother was there to welcome me into this life. One of the last memories Gram shared with me, as she often did, was of that day.

“Did you know, Alethea,” she reminded me as I sat beside her on her bed, “I was the first person to hold you?”

Gram holding my sister and me, newly born

I know the story well, as I do so many others Gram used to like to share with me. Although we lived, for most of our shared lives, 3,000 miles apart from one another, Gram and I spoke regularly on the phone. When it became evident that she was getting ready to transition out of this life, my sister and I decided to fly the distance to visit our Gram one last time.

It was, in many ways, just like old times. Except it wasn’t summer, there were no longer mystery meals to unwrap on the plane, or cigarette smoke to pollute our lungs. It was, though, just the two of us again, flying west to see the family we had left behind when we were four and six years old, if only for a few days.

And we are both glad we did. We spent many hours of those two days sitting with Gram, trying to help her find comfort in her increasingly uncomfortable body, and even wheeling her outside for some time in the fresh air to look at the gardens surrounding the facility where she lived.

Gram’s weariness with life was apparent, but so was her unfailing love for us. Gram was happy we were there and didn’t want us to leave.

Although our Gram and Poppy had their faults, as all people do, they always exhibited unconditional love for me and my sister. It was something we needed as children, and clung to, despite only seeing our grandparents for a few days a year, if we were lucky.

In those few, brief visits, I have compiled a lifetime of happy memories. Sitting on the sun-soaked deck of my grandparents’ pool and eating homemade dried granny smith apples with Pringles and cans of pop is one of them. As are the moments when Gram would take my hand and trace each finger from the base to the tip before she took her emory board out to shape my nails and push back my cuticles. “You and your sister have such pretty hands,” she’d tell me, “just like your mother’s.”

Mine was a childhood filled with a sense of not belonging, of feeling like I constantly needed to prove my self-worth and earn my keep, but never was that the case at Gram and Poppy’s house. For those few blissful days each summer, my sister and I were able to relish the bliss of unconditional love, and even of being spoiled a bit.

At Gram and Poppy’s we’d watch forbidden cartoons during daylight hours and gleefully open cabinets filled with the junk food of our choosing. Outside, we’d turn handstands on their perfect lawn and lift our feet above the water in their chlorinated pool. Whenever I smell cedar, I think of Gram and Poppy and their home atop Mt. Scott in Portland. It was the closest place to heaven I found in my godless childhood.

Gram and Poppy sold their house on Mt. Scott many years ago, but during our brief trip west to say goodbye to Gram, our father drove my sister and me to see it. It looked the same, but very much changed. Just like life. Just like the entire trip.

The heaven/haven of my childhood

The night before Gram passed, I had a conversation with her in my mind. I told her how much I loved her and that it was more than okay to leave. I knew she was ready. She had been working hard, in fact, at letting go. Gram knew I believed in life after death, even if it wasn’t in the same way she did.

“Send me a red bird,” I requested the following morning after I learned of her passing. “Let me know you made it okay.”

I was in the car, and as I turned the corner, a red-breasted robin stood in the road in front of me. It looked at me, then flew away.

I turned the radio on, and through the speakers came the word “bird.” NPR was doing a showing on birds.

“Thank you, Gram,” I told her. “I love you.”

A Tribute to Sue on the Anniversary of her Passing

Sue and her beloved companion, Ani.

A year ago today, the winds sang of spring. Rebirth toppled half a maple in my front yard and I woke to the lyrics of “Silent Night.” A soul had passed back into the realm of pure consciousness after a life well-lived as Sue.

I have yet to meet a more remarkable being. I doubt I will. Sue had a way of connecting to Truth that made you feel like you belonged, and everything around you did too. She was the embodiment of divine feminine energy in physical form. It is no surprise that Isis chose her as a vessel to tell her story.

The last time I saw Sue was the last time I traveled to England. She cleared space in her busy day to take Larissa and me to Uffington Castle and Wayland’s Smithy. I had tried to find the white horse during my first trip to England, but had landed in the other Uffington, miles away from my intended destination. Fate, it seems, had other plans for me.

I can say with assurance that my life would not have been the same without having had Sue’s presence in it, even though I knew her for less than a decade. Death, though, does not bring an end to the essence of life and Sue’s presence has not wholly departed. Today, on the anniversary of her passing out of physical form, the dogs drew me outside an hour before they usually do. It was with some reluctance and a fair bit of annoyance that I set down the writing of this post, gathered my coat, gloves, and hat, leashed the dogs and made my way outside into a blustery day much like the one I woke to one year ago.

Instead of turning right, down her favorite path filled with sticks to chew, Rosy pulled me to the left. There, above us, was a falcon dancing across the vast canvas of sky. I have no doubt Sue has managed to keep herself quite busy with her work on the other side, just as she did here on Earth, but somehow she still manages to make an appearance when it is most needed.

The Language of Trees #trees #nature #mindfulness

On days when the temperature is above frigid, I don’t protest the dogs’ favorite habit stopping to gnaw at every single stick they encounter during our noontime walks. Instead, while they ravage the broken arms of trees to top off their stomaches already filled with lunch, I study the language of trees.

Winter is the season of dormancy, but also of exposure. By mid-February only a few stubborn bunches of withered brown oak leaves hang lifeless from the trees that bore them. The floor of the forest has long been taken over by the element of water, suspending time in its frozen form in a mosaic of matter in various stages of life and death.

A winter mosaic from today’s walk

The artful practice of mindfulness is everywhere in winter, urging the walker to slow down. To breathe. To be still and observe the state of stasis. I love winter because of its offering to be still. The other three seasons can overwhelm the senses, but not winter. Winter pulls the mind inward and begs it to find the magic always held within.

The watchful eye of a hemlock

There are days when I think winter is ugly and dreary. It stretches time here in the northeast in a way that tries patience. Yet, when I look closer, while the dogs feast on their finds, I find the magic of stillness revealing itself. Lately, this magic has taken the form of the language of the trees.

In truth, it is not the language of the trees itself that I read, but the story of the insect life that feasts upon them. I am in awe of the patterns. When I stop to read their art, I marvel at how each one is unique. It is a language of pictographic script that only the insect scribe understands, in truth, but it doesn’t stop the wondering mind from making an attempt.

Turning into a New Year Focused on Self Care #selfcare #innertruth #writing

Photo Credit: Pixabay

It has now been more than a month since I have posted on my blog. I have allowed myself to be pulled elsewhere, but have not been idle when it comes to creating. Instead, I have decided to dig into the work of creation in every sense of the word in which I can define it.

Last year was a really tough year for me. It tested me in many ways, and what came out of this testing was a deep knowing that I need to return to myself. As completely as I can. I don’t think I’m alone. These divisive times call us individually and collectively to come home to ourselves, and in the process find what unites us to the web-of-life we are all a part of.

For me, self care has taken the form of no more substitute teaching as the stress far outweighed the benefits for me. Being underpaid and undervalued is a life pattern I am striving to release. It’s not easy to navigate back into the paying workforce when one consumes so much time into childcare, but I would not have changed focusing on my children and now teenagers as they grow into their selves.

Instead, I am realizing what I now have to offer the world and am finding unexplored paths to bring my creative energies into existence. In my writing life, I am moving into the third book in my middle-grade Warriors of Light fantasy series while a group of beta readers are going through the second book. I have decided self-publishing is not for me, so am exploring the somewhat more daunting world of finding a traditional publisher for the series.

I am also writing more poetry, after a bit of a lapse. I have collected a group of spiritual “yoga” poems in a file that are simmering in prospects as I also delve into the shadowland of the self to create from the raw material of pain that seeks voice. They are braver poems then I am used to writing, but I find them necessary and healing. It feels good to be bold where I have previously held myself back.

This boldness includes breaking into the world of podcasts and I am happy to announce I will be a guest on the first of what I hope will be several at the beginning of February. I will be sharing more on that later. In addition to guest podcasting, I am creating online workshops with a friend of mine. These endeavors have made it clear that I need to amp up my marketing game. Marketing, ironically is the field I was in before I had children. Not by choice so much as by default. The pay was good and I had a knack for the work.

I am finding marketing and marketing writing is much easier when it is not focused on yourself. This too is breaking me out of my comfort zone. There will be a shoot with a professional photographer soon, I hope. The scheduled session had to be canceled on her end because of COVID-like symptoms. I’ll need to channel some of my daughter’s confidence to do these, but they are necessary for the endeavors I am pursuing.

As I am going through this process of self care and delving into what I wish to bring forth into the world, I am noticing how freeing it is to release what is no longer serving me in a positive manner. This release opens the door for that “good” stuff to come in that feels true to the soul. I am reminded that the self, and the world we are a part of, is not served by staying small inside the confines of self-doubt and fear. The light comes in and goes out through the open door.

Subbing the Middle Grades: If in Doubt, Let Them Out #middleschool #subbing #mindfulness

Photo Credit: Pixabay

It was only a half day gig, but I was covering French. I know maybe five words of French so there would be no winging it if we ran out of things to do, which we did. The teacher left very limited assignments, which were accomplished in the first third of the class time, and it was a lovely day for December. Blue skies, a light wind, temps hovering around 50 degrees fahrenheit….

So we went outside, naturally. Apparently the French class never goes outside, but yesterday we did. I have learned that playgrounds are not limited by age, only the imagination. Who doesn’t like the weighty drop of a swing after the soar? Well they don’t have swings on the middle school playground in my town, but they do have a things to play on that integrated into the natural environment. There are wooden beams to balance on and hang from, ropes to navigate, and plenty of fields surrounded by trees that beg to be run through and explored. There are few things better than watching a middle schooler give away all cares and run with abandon outside. And, our work was done for the day. We had no excuses.

Nature is transformative. Before we went outside, clusters of middle schoolers were beginning to form to talk not about French, but each other. They were supposed to be practicing their vocabulary words in small groups, but the inevitable “Who do you like?” game quickly formed between two of the clusters. I observed for a while as I pretended to read.

“Okay, let’s go outside!”

The transformation was instant. Everything else forgotten, except who was going to get the football from the gym. If truth be told, I’d spend the whole day subbing outside. Weather permitting. Nothing beats Nature’s Classroom. The benefits are pretty much endless.

I often tell my yoga classes to “get outside” to ground their bare feet through Earth, which has a magnetic polarity just like our bodies do. We need that connection to feel balanced and well. Even if we have to wear shoes. We need the feel of the elements. The wind moving into our lungs, the sun activating joy and that essential nutrient called vitamin D…

I spent the first have of this past Saturday in a suicide prevention workshop and one of the issues we discussed was the high rate of suicides here in the Northeast where are winters are long and sunlight is limited. When we don’t get outside and receive that essential connection to Earth and the elements on a regular (daily) basis, we fall more easily into depression. As a substitute teacher of the middle grades, I care more about the wellbeing of my charges than I do their grades. I believe that’s my job. I can’t possibly know the ins-and-outs of each subject in each grade that I cover, nor can I know the performance record or learning habits of each student, but I can pay attention to their wellbeing.

With the exception of the underdressed (there are always a few who refuse to gather jackets), there is always reluctance to head back indoors after the allotted time outside is finished. That, to me, is a sign of time well spent. Before we went inside yesterday, I noticed that even the underdressed child with her arms tucked into her shirt had been singing for the entire ten minutes. There is nothing better.

Healing Waters: A Visual Journey #water #ocean #seacoast

During our recent family trip to California, we spent quite a bit of time on the coast. It was incredibly healing and rejuvenating for all of us. While the teenagers explored surfing, I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the sea, its life, and the feel of the tide against my feet. Here are some of the photos I took, which I hope evoke that healing and rejuvenating feeling:

Spirit Stones on the Back of a Dragon #thousandoaks #wildwoodpark #traveladventures

The next morning, my husband and I returned to the site of the dragon/lizard, leaving our two teenagers behind to sleep in. The night we arrived in California, the moon was full. Three days later, it had begun to wane but the morning held onto the image of its fading face as we set out into the dry, dusty landscape of Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks once again.

Morning Moon over Wildwood Park

This time we lingered at the junction of paths, debating whether to venture left towards Paradise Falls, or take a sharp right up the hill. The coyote from the day before was nowhere in sight, so we followed the tug of the hill and took the hand of chance. Actually, we both borrowed baseball-sized rocks from Earth, holding them in our palms just in case…before returning them on our descent.

There is an undeniably other-worldly feel to a dry desert, especially for someone used to living in a place with four seasons and plenty of rain.

The journey up the back of the dragon, although shorter in distance than the day before’s path, was quite strenuous. It didn’t take long for the heat to build inside us and soon we were both peeling off our outer layers to be tucked around our waists. We could not help but chuckle at the two hikers coming down the path in their matching pink windbreakers, zipped tight to the chins. “Must be locals,” we concluded.

The only visitors we encountered were two “pink ladies” (not photographed)

Aside from the the passing by of the two ladies in pink, our hike was almost eerily silent. No coyote. No snakes. Not even a raven…Somehow, like the prior day’s encounters, today’s lack of visitors seemed perfectly fitting. But I’m not being entirely honest either. There were the watching stones that filled the spine of the dragon, bringing the kind of discomfort that makes one turn to look over one’s shoulder. More than once.

But I’m okay with watching stones. I’d have been rather disappointed with the alternative. Watchers remind us of the living spirit(s) that embody the land. In such a place as we were, they are expected. No wonder the coyote had watched us the day before. Testing. Seeing if we were worthy of the climb.

The Watchers

I don’t know if we passed the test, but we were, at the very least, allowed to enter a space still bearing the imprint of magic. That, to me, is enough. I have learned the land’s secrets are not always revealed in one (or two) visits, if they are to be shared at all. Most often there is first a test (the coyote) before initial entry is allowed. And, sometimes the stories unfold in their own time. Imprinting the cells with a whisper before they dig into the marrow of magic.

What I did capture on camera: the image of an industrialized civilization below.

There was, though, at least a glimpse of what once was, and what could still be…In the distance, uncaptured by camera, I spotted the head of a second dragon. Miles away from the “Lizard Rock,” it jutted over a faraway valley, tracing the undulating length of the spine we had summeted. And I wondered, for a long moment, what it might be like to walk the entire length of the body…

Where the coyote lurked the day before held curious standing stones…guardians in their own right.