The Muse

While I form the narrative of a young adult novel, I find myself pondering the muse in its varied, colorful forms. Realizing, as I do, that the muse extends to life itself. Let me first take you back to the night. In the realm of dreams we set the scene for our days. During sleep our mind strays to far-off places, playing with scenes like a mad artist. Or, at least mine does.

I’m not going to dwell on the metaphysics of dreams in this blog (I’ve dabbled in this area in previous posts), I simply want to relate how one’s dreams set the stage for one’s day. When we wake in the morning we carry the residue of our dreams like a sticky syrup, which never fully washes away. Because of our dreams we start our days feeling grumpy, groggy, out-of-sorts, content or in a state of eager joy, ready to embrace the day’s gifts.

Here is where our day begins, with the sap of the dream-muse. Sometimes it’s delightfully sweet and we savor its taste for as long as we can, and sometimes it’s bitter and bothersome. I spend many a morning wishing I had experienced more joy in my dreams, yet some mornings I have greater success removing their sticky residue. On these days I remember that I am, after all, the writer of my own script.

Which, brings me back to writing. So, I’m writing my first Y/A novel, and I have found I am not a writer who works by scripting, in advance, the entire plot, from beginning, to middle, to end. I didn’t even do this with my memoir. Writing, for me, is an adventure of trust. It’s about taking the risk of not knowing what will come next, yet trusting that the next will appear at some point. On a good day, on a day when I open myself up to the muse of life (and writing), I find what I am looking for and what I need. The muse is always waiting to be let in when I quiet my mind and open the door.

Yet, the muse is not always what we might expect, or think we want. We writers know how it can take us to unexpected places, some of which are quite shocking and uncomfortable. Our muses can lead us to our darkest secrets, or the darkest secrets of our characters. And, they can also lead us to limitless joy or help us find the next leg in our journey or narrative. So, while it behooves us to allow the muse to enter into our minds and into our daily activities, it also behooves us to remember who writes the final draft.

Perhaps we’re not quite ready to look under that boulder we’ve stubbornly placed in our path for so long, perhaps we only want to nudge it a couple of inches. Or, likewise, perhaps we don’t want our characters to morph into unruly and wild creatures who will scare readers away. Then, we simply take the reins back, draw in the slack and tighten our grips a little. The muse, after all, knows no limits. It’s free and without restraint. When we allow it to ramble it can skip and dance us all over the place.

I’ll confess there are days when I want to follow the muse deep into the forest (both literal and metaphoric) until I lose myself in its mysteries, but there’s always the mundane (joys) of life waiting to be attended to. There are meals to cook, children to feed, clothes to be washed. And, there’s that idea of a book tame enough to be shared.

The Art of Allowing

This morning, after a night dreaming about wearing yellow and talking to a lollipop; after a weekend trying to neutralize my daughter’s emotions while we were at a hotel for a conference of my husband’s, I finished the manuscript for my memoir. At least, that is,  to the point where I am ready to start sending it out to agents/publishers. I had finished my last round of revisions last week, but had one more poem to write. This morning I allowed it to appear. I called it “Truth” and felt satisfied with the simplicity of the lyrics that took form on the page.

Now, as I sit here, there is the part of me pulling for action. That restless ego that doesn’t like to sit still and let the universe string together the pattern that will shape the outcome I want to manifest. But, I have learned, and am still learning, that in the quiet space of allowing we are given the gifts we desire. That everything we need comes to us when we release the pull.

Yesterday, I came home exhausted and irritable, and found a package waiting for me from a dear friend. I put the house in order enough for the anxieties inside of me to settle down, and then opened. For the second time this year, a friend had given me exactly what I needed, at the perfect moment. This friend (a different one than the other instance), had sent to me her medicine cards not knowing how perfect her timing was. I didn’t tell her that today I would be working with animal totems in class, but her heart knew that I would use this gift. She didn’t know that I had been wanting my own set, only that I was learning the language of animal messengers.

And, of course, her gift, which came at just the right time, saved me just that. Time. I had no idea what “animal” I was going to bring to class before the gift arrived. Yet, something inside of me knew to wait. So now, I feel the struggle to let go of the rope, to trust that those spiders in the last post will burst out of their orbs and spin their webs. It’s not that I don’t want to work at getting my manuscript published, but there is the understanding that often when we try too hard at something we fail, or at least do not achieve what we could. The idea of “paddling upstream,” as Ester Hicks would say, when we can just let go the oars and allow the current to carry us where it will. I am not sure yet how this will happen in what is normally perceived to be such a cut-throat, competitive industry, but I am willing to trust that the act of letting go of the “struggle,” even just a little bit, will make the journey easier. Will make the destination more fulfilling. It has, after all, happened this way for others.

So, here’s to allowing with the intention that my words will soon heal so many more souls than just my own.

The Spider’s Dream Tale #spidersymbolism #dreamsymbolism #animalguides


Two nights ago, before I went to sleep, I placed Doreen Virtue’s Divine Guidance book on  the shelf beside my bed, closed my eyes and took her advice. I asked the Divine to show me my life’s path in the form of a dream, knowing it would be my job to interpret the symbolism in whatever form it manifested.

Here is the dream I was given:  I was at my parents’ house, sitting on their expansive breezeway. It was dusk, the light coming in through the open wall was darkening, creating shadows around the chairs where we sat and scattered the light around the brick floor.  My mother, stepfather, and two other men were there with me. One of the men was Stephen King, the other one unknown. Stephen was there because he was working with my stepfather on a building project for his house. He was lounging on a chair, acting aloof. After we were introduced, I told him I knew his niece ( I really do know his niece). He seemed largely unimpressed.

I then noticed a large white orb in the form of a tarantula spider’s sac under his leg (or my stepfather’s, I’m not sure which). When I realized what I was looking at, I started to panic, knowing this orb would eventually hatch and countless baby spiders would emerge and find their way into the house (I appeared to be still living there). I noticed more small white sacs throughout the breezeway, and my nervousness increased. I wanted to box them inside my daughter’s pink poodle lunch box and send them down the stream beside my parents’ home, but my mother beside me argued against this.

The next morning as I thought about the dream my initial reaction was disappointment. This was my vision? Another difficult dream with my parents and spiders to boot! Then I remembered reading about spiders in Ted Andrew’s book, Animal Speak, in which he refers to them as the totem of the writer (see pages 344-347). In lore, the spider is sometimes called the “weaver of illusion,” or the “grandmother – the link to the past and the future.” It was starting to make sense. I am actively weaving the past and the future together in my life and in my memoir writing.

The body of the spider is in the shape of an 8, the symbol of infinity, “the wheel of life.” The body itself is a bridge, connecting the past with the future. What then of my fears? It could not be an accident that Stephen King, the writer of fears manifested, appeared with the spiders. My anxiety was clearly palpable in my dream. It could be said that many of my childhood fears, aside from my earliest memory, originated within my childhood homes and the words and interactions I had with my mother and stepfather. It could be said that my greatest resistance as a writer is birthing from these sources. Hence, the impulse to send the spiders down the stream.

Spiders, Ted Andrews also writes,  balance the male and female energy. Perhaps it is not accidental that the mother in my dream was urging me not to send those unborn spiders down the stream, even though in actuality her life reaction to my writing has been quite different. We are, after all, the writers/weavers of our own destinies.

Spider is also symbolic of death and rebirth. Andrews writes, “Spider teaches us that through polarity and balance creativity is stimulated.” Life is about balance, as is writing. Sometimes this balance is hard-won, but when we get the hang of it, we realize falling off is nearly impossible. Through my writing, I have certainly been reborn.

Although tarantulas don’t spin webs, they do spin threads. They also make their homes within the earth. They combine gentleness and strength, as well as agility. They are night workers, linking them to the moon and dreams – a source of creative inspiration and wisdom for many, including me.

As I do each morning, I took my dogs for a walk in the woods, listening and looking for signs from nature.  As I turned into my driveway, I saw before me in the sky a large eagle formed out of the clouds. Its head was turned toward the south (the direction of overcoming obstacles and awakening the inner child; trust; and resurrection). The eagle itself was in the eastern section of the sky (the direction of healing, creativity, and rebirth).

Eagle, according to Andrews (see pages 136 -141), is the symbol of healing, creation, and resurrection. The “balance of being of the earth, but not in it.” The bald eagle feathers have links to grandmother medicine, wisdom, healing, and creation. They are connected to the number three, new birth, and creativity. “The willingness to use your passions to purify and to use your abilities even if it means being scorched a little.”

Eagle vision is 8x greater than humans, linking it, like the spider, to the infinity symbol. Andrews writes, “To accept eagle as a totem is to accept a powerful new dimension to life, and heightened responsibility for your spiritual growth. But only through doing so do you learn how to move between the worlds, touch all life with healing, and become the mediator and the bearer of new creative force within the world.” Was this a sign telling me that my pull to be a healer and a writer, somehow combining the two, was a path that was unfolding to me?

A half an hour later, I was outside hanging up the laundry beside our apple tree. I heard the voice of Chickadee and looked up to see three of the little birds singing down at me. This was not the first time Chickadee has appeared to me, asking to be heard. The last time it was seven birds leading me to feathers, this time it was in the form of three asking for my attention. Andrews states that the chickadee (see page 125 – 126) is the bird of truth.  The number three is associated with birth and creativity. Because there are seven types of chickadees, the bird is linked to the number seven and the seven primary chakras in balance. I have had chickadee in my life since I was a child, just as I have held fast to the symbolism inherent in my name.

If I Put the Pen Down

…will my heart condense to a room without a door? It’s the question I asked my higher- self before the New Year.

What happens to the writer when she does not give voice to the words within her? Her soul’s song becomes trapped inside a room of increasing darkness. The door gets harder to find with each word that’s denied a voice.

Words bring in the light. They open up our third chakras (and, of course, our fifth):

With pen you pull the sun in/dissolve shadows into life 

In my effort to keep the sun shining within my solar plexus, I have decided to start this blog. I opened the door three years ago and I’m determined to not let it close.

We all come into the world with our own voice of truth, whether that voice finds expression through a poem, a painting or a pie. The point is to let it sing in whatever form it seeks.