Embracing Earthy Energy

Iris budI opened the front door this morning and the sweet, warm smell of freshly mown grass rolled into the house. I peered out over the exploding fuchsia Rhododendron blooms and saw the first irises unfolding their silky layers and splaying into fragile plumes. Bird songs filled the air, like a soundtrack for the cinematic colors and lush textures of spring.Iris4

When the Sun in in Taurus, we’re more in tune with our physical bodies and the pleasure we derive from our sensory experiences. We gravitate toward what nourishes us, both physically and on a soul level. Just-picked strawberries and tender asparagus (or maybe for you it’s bar-b-que’d ribs on the grill) soothe our souls. After the wrapped-up winter, our skin welcomes a brush of soft air and it’s mild enough to linger with another under the stars.

Iris3aIt’s the perfect season to ask: What moves your soul? Maybe it’s cooking an al fresco dinner for friends or going to see live music at your favorite local spot. Indulge. Let yourself feel it, hear it and taste it. Relish. Let the physical world nurture your deepest and most authentic you. Luxuriate. irisPleasure leads to well-being. And well-being is the sister of intuition – you’ll get in tune with the signs and symbols that grace your life and show you the easier, more natural way.

So go ahead and linger in the morning bakery, sip the cold glass of chardonnay in the garden while admiring your irises and give someone you love a back rub. It’s all sweet music to your soul.Iris w&p

Love Note #1

It’s easy to love what we perceive as our own good qualities – bakes killer brownies for friends, loves unconditionally, always helps a seemingly lost pooch, lends an ear when needed. But what about our faults, are they lovable too?

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It’s no secret that self-love is the key to feeling peace in your soul. Just try it. Look in the mirror and say, “I love you,” to yourself. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. Wink at yourself, flirt a little. Let it feel fun, pure and warm.

Some days doing this exercise is harder than others. You made a bad decision. Your words hurt someone you care about. What the hell is your life about anyway and why haven’t you figured it out by now? In these moments where fear and doubt have gripped you, are you still lovable? Do you still deserve your own love?

These are precisely the times when it’s imperative to love yourself. Berating yourself and withdrawing your compassion toward yourself will create a downward spiral into desperation and confusion. More bad decisions will be made. Guilt heaped on. Flame doused.

Love your mistakes as much as your triumphs because the goof-ups help you to grow. They point directly to where your attention needs to be – not as a reprimand, but as a guiding light. Love the part of you that doesn’t know how to do it better yet, because that part of you needs it the most. Like fertilizer on a droopy plant.

Then take it one step farther and love your pain. Love the hardships and the whole mess of life. Not because you want them to continue, but because you want them to transform. Love nurtures positive change. Acceptance yields a sense of compassion. When we feel safe to admit our mistakes or look honestly at what isn’t working, we can begin to see through a lens of love toward a better way.

Love is a balm and love is a catalyst. Love all of yourself – dark, light, happy, sad – and feel yourself bloom.

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Kairos: will you drive through it?

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Kairos: an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment. A moment of indeterminate time when something special happens. A passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved. (paraphrased from Wikipedia)

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Kairos: A time when the conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action; the opportune and decisive moment (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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Kairos: Will you recognize it? And if you do, will you drive through it?

Josh Ritter: Preacher & Poet

Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band at the Trocadero, 5/16: 

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I went to a secret service in a wooded grotto and held the steamy hands of strangers as we gathered in a horseshoe shape around some ancient mossy rocks. Josh summoned the forest nymphs who sprinkled gold rain onto our leafy heads. He sang of love and beauty and nature and light.

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Then he leads us out of the woods and into a sunny meadow where we laughed at the dandelions and waded through the hula waves of tall grasses. Clouds race by like sailing ships, and we danced with the can-can tree tops in frilly skirts… kick, bounce, knee, bounce, kick, bounce… till they showed their petticoats and took a bow. I blew milkweed fluff and wondered how my bare feet could never before have been so connected to the damp earth, while my soul mingled so freely with the sun’s rays. Josh offered a blessing and the dandelions smiled.

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(Josh is also a novelist – check out Bright’s Passage. I’ll write about it in a future post.)

Your Story is Yours

For a writing assignment in a freshman writing class, I interviewed an elderly, blind Seer my sister knew of in Colorado. I walked about five miles from her apartment to his house out in the middle of nowhere. He spoke to me of mystical things and I was so young I barely knew what questions to ask, but I felt reverence for the experience. Back in class, the professor read my paper aloud, adding inflections and facial expressions that made the content sound absurd and farcical, which was the opposite of my intention.

The following year, my poetry teacher maligned a poem I had written about cleaning my dorm room, saying a poem had to be about more than that. He was right; however, mine did have a deeper meaning – it was about how I can’t function with visual chaos around me and how I’d come to know a feeling of peace in my soul. Obviously the piece needed more revision, but the teacher had failed to see that there was a more universal theme underneath my naive words.

These instances made me back off my interest in writing, and I switched my major from communications to art history. I don’t blame those instructors for discouraging me or even for disrespecting my work. Over the years, I’ve made similar critiques and edits of others’ work. Instead of trying to understand where the writer was coming from or how I could be helpful in a way that would encourage their creativity, I saw it only from my own perspective.

If you’re writing about something, it probably has meaning to you. Stick with that, dig down and roust it out. Play with it and help others understand it too. If someone tells you it’s silly or not enough, don’t get discouraged, just keep digging and playing.

I still work with the themes I wrestled with in college: spirituality, intuition, soul-peace.  And I’d love to interview that elderly man again, because now I’d know what questions to ask.

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“Beasts” Chewed My Senses, Spit Out My Soul

The movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, kidnapped and torqued my senses. My gut swirled as the briny, slimy crab innards slid down; diamond-shard sparklers flicked at my squirming spirit. As I tried to take a clean breath of sticky air, damp mold and the tart sting of charred rot clogged my lungs. Too many shots of rotgut on a chicken-grease stomach churned as my scarred feet pounded across prickly grass. And so much salt – sweat, brackish stains – my lips rippled, longing for a kiss of something creamy and sweet.  But there was no relief, only the sharp cracking of wind and water and words slapping at my gasping skin.

Oblivion, until soft scarlet lights wrapped me in alligator love. Maybe I’d rest for a brief moment. But I couldn’t, distrustful of the steamy motivations caressing my sun-burned shoulder and the lurking reverie of a clammy future. My soul flew overboard, crashing into the slate shard waves.

Skin chills on the balmiest gray day, an angel in a tutu splatters through bird-shit mud, thick like rancid bacon grease. I can’t follow her anymore but I can’t abandon her either. I’m nauseous and exhilarated, wondering if I can ever climb out of the dank and delicious hole to wash my eyes and throat. I need to cleanse my senses so I can fully absorb the splendor. But it’s too late, the beauty has already lodged like a spur into my black-and-blue heart.

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wavy tree

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Someday is Today

I’ve passed this tree hundreds of times, maybe a thousand. Each time I say silently, “Yes, someday.” The message is referring to peace, but I also apply it to my life: Someday I’ll be ready. Someday things will work out. Someday…

Many times I’ve thought that I need to take a picture of the tree, but I rarely carry my phone with me in the woods, and on the rare occasions when I’ve had it I forgot to snap a shot.

But today? Today is Someday.

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How may times have you said, “Someday I’ll…”? The time is now. Today is Someday.

We Are All Holy Creatures

My neighbor’s feisty young cat attacked my old girl numerous times over several years.  I have scars on my arm from where the offender jumped up and clawed at me as I threw water on the battle to break up a fight.  Our time outside was guarded and tense, never knowing when an attack might come.  Vet bills racked up.

Christmas Eve 2012.  I pulled into the driveway at 11:30 pm after attending a candlelight service.  The bad girl was sitting in the slushy snow at the end of the driveway; she stared at me solemnly.  In the spirit, I wished her a Merry Christmas and told her to go home where it was warm.

She disappeared two days later and hasn’t been seen since.

The weather is warm now and my girl and I frequently perch in the sun on a lounge chair.  But I can’t totally relax, my nerves on habitual alert.  I feel angry that our lives were so disrupted, and I feel sad that my 21-year-old girl had to endure pain and fear.  Still, I pray for the terror-inducing feline – may she be warm in someone else’s home, not torn and bloody from being ravaged by a fox.  She’s a holy creature, just like we all are.

Be sad.  Be mad.  But please don’t let hate and fear settle into your heart.

Detail of Assemblage with Painted Frame by Simon Sparrow

Detail of Assemblage with Painted Frame by Simon Sparrow

(This piece is included in Great & Mighty Things: Outsider Art
at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through 6.9.13)

Heart Scab

How many people are walking around with a crusty old scab encasing their heart? It’s so hard at this point, blood doesn’t flow in or out. Nor does love.We fall in love and get critically hurt, ER hurt. So we decide too much love is bad. It makes us crazy and stupid. We won’t fall for that again. But we want company, warmth. So we decide to have a practical love, one we can control. That will keep us safe and sound.

Who would we be if we didn’t have those first insane, soul-spinning loves? Would we have remained innocent and willing to dive deeply into love? Maybe we’d just be less interesting, less seasoned.

Those first hurts serve a purpose: they let us know who we are and who we are not, and who we want and who we do not. Because of those times, we become wise and choose better lovers. Ones who truly get us and don’t want to make us crazy. And in the one who is meant for us, we find a new level of passion, soulfulness and life itself.

Love doesn’t have to be crazy to be deeply real. It does have to come from our whole heart though, fully open and soft. If we let someone gently remove our scab, there’s no need to worry, it won’t leave a scar.