I dreamt you on October 16, 2011.

It was the hemlocks, of course. Something stirred to life in my heart by the intense tenderness I feel for them that brought you to my heart. They are dying, you know, here at the beginning of the 21st century.  Entire stands of hemlocks are being decimated by the wooly agelid, a tiny insect that drains their verdancy, until hillsides that once were painted deep green now appear to be swathed in smoke.

There is something tender in me around them. I champion their survival when I find pockets of survivors, hidden away from the wooly agelid that would destroy them. Likewise, I mourn for mountainsides, once flushed with them, now a dusky shade of gray, like the face of an old one before death.

My tenderness for them leapt up, almost tripping me there on that ridge above Little Pine Creek, with an fierce longing for them to survive. I yearned for them to be safe, there in that place, at last.  Surely, the agelid would not find them there somehow, on that secluded ridge where it seemed that no human feet had trod for some time.

So full of joy I was that day. It’s always like that for me in the woods. All my anxiety, my fear, my pain seems to lift and dissipate, like low lying fog over morning waters with the rising of the sun. Suddenly, there you were, standing right in front of me, alongside my earnest hope for their survival. I beckoned you then to return to this spot, to visit some day when you are grown, to check on these ones. I wonder how tall they’ll have grown by then, if you’ll be able to imagine what they were like as I saw them that day in their nursery beds.

I want you to know them.

I wonder. Is it something in me I want you to know? Is it something of an earlier, ancient way that I fear will be lost to this world? Or is my tenderness linked to something in me that I fear is dying also, falling prey to parasites that drain the life from me steadily over time, and seemingly all at once.

Is that why I celebrate so when I see young ones thriving on the top of the ridge, even as I suspect they were probably offspring from some giant that fell prey? Are they also alive in me, springing to life in abundance after the fall?  Or are those seeds perhaps hidden in the bellies of my granddaughters.

I wonder who you think I am? Likely I’ll seem terribly old fashioned to you, as my great-grandmother at the turn of the last century seems to me. Will you imagine me old or young? Thin or fat? Beautiful or homely? Wise or naïve? Ignorant or educated? Will you wonder what part of me runs rich in your veins?

I’d like to believe that by the time you are here, we will have figured a few things out. For instance, that humans make mistakes and it doesn’t at all mean the end of the world, the damnation of a soul, or the end of your life. I hope there is more gentleness, more mercy, more kindness. I hope there is more beauty, that we haven’t destroyed it all… and yet, I suppose, that too won’t be the end of the world, for I have learned that beauty really has little to do with appearances.

I hope that women will give birth to babies again without the interference of drugs, that you will know that great pleasure of that. Yes, I hope that numbness to true power and beauty will not prevail.

…and so I suppose there is much tied into my hope for the survival of the hemlock.

I want to see how it turns out. I’ll need you to be my eyes.



Dec 31, 2011 — nearing the end of the holiday week of copious extroversion and most ready to climb back into my cave.

I remember when my children were young, there was a popular children’s book, Five Minutes Peace, which featured a mother elephant struggling to find some slice of time to herself. If I recall correctly, even the baby elephants climb into the bath with her, when she retreats to the tub for some quiet. Now, this may be starting to sound like a broken record  (or an old tape, whatever the case might be) but here I am again seeking that place of peace.

A few days ago, I wrote (because I have no voice again) to the woman who leads the women’s writing series, which was so blessedly gifted to me by my children (they do indeed recognize this need in me). I realized that it was probably 18 months ago, perhaps longer, when I spoke with her last about that empty book, which I longed to remain empty of others’ needs and expectations until I’d discovered for myself what it was that I wanted to fill it with. Here I am some years later, my ‘book’ full of dates and obligations.

‘I am so weary’.

As I read through my journal entries from the last 6 months, here at the close of the year, it struck me how often I’d written those words. I hadn’t realized my weariness was so present, so much on the surface, though I’ve felt it both physically (with a respiratory infection that just won’t go away, which causes me to lose my voice time and time again) and emotionally. I suppose I hadn’t made it quite so conscious a realization until noting it in those pages, as the naming aloud of anything will somehow make it suddenly real.

How did I miss the exponential element of having so many children (not to mention step-children) and the toll it would take … of course, always commensurate with the blessings it also bestows.  How is it that bells toll with both resplendant joy and harrowing grief? Where does abundance tip over the edge into overwhelming?

I am so conflicted.

Yesterday, Don and I drove through the lands of a state park, and I noted the sighs involuntarily escaping my lips, as if they were simply a part of my breath in that place, those sighs that radiate from me when entering the darkening forest. Those are sighs of deep peace, of release, of belonging. I am recalling Glenn’s premise that I follow those sighs (those were not his words exactly, but I know that my body sighs when I am experiencing pleasure and he DID suggest that I might indeed listen to my pleasure)

Why is it so difficult for me to follow those sighs? To think of moving from this world full of granddaughters’ love in order to move to a place that makes me sigh? The truth is some part of me sighs in each place, and my heart breaks when I ponder either possibility. The proverbial rock and hard place I am stuck between. Layla’s hugs melt my resolve each time, even as my life calls beyond these walls.

Sometimes I even wonder if I would have anything at all to write about out there? No angst. That’s perhaps simply because so much of my writing of late has been on this one broken-record theme that I can’t recall what truly calls my heart to writing.

I write to express something human into the world. I write to reflect the beauty that surrounds me off the mirror of my own soul, reflecting it back out into this place as more beauty — I hope. I write to discover what is beneath. I write to listen beneath the noise.

Am I listening?

How long it has been since I’ve been to the woods. Already, so much time has passed since Don and I were in the smokies that it seems a distant memory. In that place, the words flowed. In that place, I heard. In that place, without angst, there were also words —amidst the peace, amidst the quiet–words that longed to be sung into being.

At my depths, I know there is something in me that needs the forest for more than mere escape. Something in me that will break into song in that place, like a bird in spring time that has returned to its nesting place.

In my faintest of memories, I recall the feeling of rightness, of aliveness, of deep pleasure and joy, of hope that I have in those places. The feeling of me, as if I move into my own skin somehow, as if some part of me is not asked to step aside and wait, as if it is asked to join me in the dance. In my most distant of memories, I recall the feeling of spaciousness I have in those places, a spaciousness unencumbered and yet full.

And yet, creativity is perhaps too narrowly defined by me, when in truth the whole of my life, across the depth and breadth of my days, is a creative endeavor, into which I pour my energy, my love, my lifeforce, my time.

Sometimes I suspect I am like George, of Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ renown, imagining my life’s purpose has passed me by, when in truth the place where I have been has needed my creativity so much moreso than any book or painting I might create from this well of love inside of me. My greatest works of art surround me.

I have read that attention is like sunshine – full, vital, and affirming – to our children.  The kind of attention a sun gives to the earth is constant, like the kind of attention required of a child when s/he is growing, ‘illuminating through the overcast, shimmering through the haze, eradicating shadows, and overcoming obstructions. It endures, in its infinite, replenishable power’ (Karen Maezen, Hand Wash Cold)

Fully present, loving attention is the ultimate in creative energy bestowed upon a child – or any another human person, for that matter.  I remember also reading in Brian Swimme’s book, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, a similar reflection upon the creative energy of the sun, how it literally burns itself up in the ultimate creative giveaway, how we might be invited to follow its example.

If the loving, creative energy of the universe is condensed in this body of mine as fuel to be burned, perhaps there is no greater expression of that energy than the loving attention I have bestowed upon my children, and now my grandchildren. As a young mother I consciously, lovingly, most willingly made that choice. In truth, I could choose no other as each time I attempted something outside of that role, my love for them drove me back time and again to be at the center of their orbit, shining the full life-force of my light into their lives. It was no choice after all, it simply was who I was.

When I was a mother, that transformation of my body into nurture for the other’s growth was both automatic and quite literal, as my body grew a placenta of nourishment for the growing child and my breasts filled with milk for the infant to suckle. But I wonder, how does that transformation look for the crone?

There are those who have passed this way before me, women who I know only by books for the most part, who have culturally understood the cessation of menstruation to represent the retention of ‘wise blood’, blood no longer flowing for the purpose of birthing and nurturing new life in another, blood now contained, available to the woman for her own growth. Somehow the letdown of milk as an automatic reflex, in response to the cries of another, ceases too. What the crone has to give is less ‘on demand’, more contained in a vessel perhaps, the vessel that has been molded by her life up to the moment she crosses the threshold of the kiln and is fired by the heat of transformation into a shape that dictates what she will now offer and hold.

And there is something here about containers again, like the cup imagery that captured my imagination a few years ago. How can one offer a drink to anyone when there are no walls…like the walls of a cave,perhaps… into which one can pour oneself and by which one can prevent oneself from spilling all over the place, making only a mess and not offering nurture at all.

Last week, at the memorial service I attended for Hugh, I ran into an old friend, who had struggled a year or so ago with a lingering respiratory infection. She said that what finally cured her was rest, deep rest, the kind of rest that she had fooled herself into believing she’d been giving herself but hadn’t until her body made it so.

Perhaps I cannot be the sun after all. Perhaps I am invited to be more like the moon now, waxing and waning, reflecting and turning my face. Glowing and resting. Offering light to see in the dark, and inspiration for dreams.  Silent and cool. Gentle, never over-exposing nor casting harsh shadows.

The moon. Of course. How could I have thought myself otherwise.


i’ve alluded often in recent writings to ‘the dream of the blue dress’, a dream i dreamt about 2 months ago. clarissa and others might call this one ‘a big dream’ as it is one that seems to be so potent for me, one that seems to stick with me, to be working through me, to be so frequently returning to me as reminder.

in the dream, i am traveling with my husband to a retreat or convention of sorts, where we will be with persons we love in a setting i love. the retreat house is a lodge deep in the woods, so far removed that we must hike the last several miles after disembarking from the train, the only means of transportation to this remote place.

as i am packing to leave, mindful that i must carry in what i need, i have a strong desire to pack a royal blue and jet black dress. ‘just in case’, i say, just in case there is an occasion to wear it… a dance, a formal dinner… though these things seem unlikely in our setting, where my more comfortable flannel and hiking boots would be perfect. though illogical, i am compelled to pack it. i love this dress, the way i feel in it.

lo, on the hike in to the lodge, my pack is somehow dropped. at the lodge, realizing i have lost my pack, i have an omniscient vision of it, lying in the mud, being drenched by torrential rains. all that i have brought with me is ruined, unrecoverably so….

….. except the blue dress…

you see, it wouldn’t fit in my pack, so i was carrying it separately. now, i have no choice but to wear it, this dress that makes me feel beautiful, that makes me feel like dancing, that makes me feel like me!

as i have processed this dream, i have felt it both a dangerous and a hopeful one. there is this part of me that yearns to ‘wear’ the clothes of my own choosing, the ones that fit me well, and yet there is this sense that i am constantly being asked to wear something else. to fill the clothes of another’s choosing or expectation, ones that ‘fit’ my place in life. i seldom get to wear the blue dress…. perhaps only on ‘special’ occasions. i suppose there is a part of me that longs for some holy torrent to come along and innundate me, sweep away all that restricts me and ties me to other-expectations and role-duties (that, i admit, is the frightening part, and fills me with cautionary words such as ‘be careful what you wish for’). i have pondered how it is that i might wear this dress freely and without fear…

a few nights later, i dreamt i was in a boat on a quiet sea. the water was dark, but clear and deep. i could see clearly the floor of the sea. on it was lying, admidst the wreckage of a ship, a bed of phosphorescent royal blue eggs, waiting to hatch.

so often, this past year, i have had the sense that some part of me has been lying in wait, somewhere deep inside me, waiting its turn to rise, to speak, to become. i’ve spoken of it as feeling i’d made a contract with her 30-some years ago, that we would ‘do this thing’ whole-heartedly and committedly (mothering, i presume) and then it would be ‘our’ turn. i was so very young when i became a mother.

i have felt her pressing urgency, her demand that i keep my promise, her quickening and insistence to be born, her desperate seeking of an opening in my life…. and her drowning despair.

last night, i dreamt i was watching so many geese flying home. i was atop a ridge and had a sweeping vision of them, their v-shaped flocks and sweeping s-shaped curves through the highways of the sky. suddenly, the geese were caught up in an eddying stream, their graceful curving flights circling back time and again to the same place, getting no-where. finally, they returned to me, to this place where they would not survive the winter, would surely freeze to death.  i was drawn to prepare a place for them in my barn, a place where they might be kept warm to endure the long night, as i sat up all night with the young leader, helping her learn again to trust her instincts, to trust that she knows the way….

memories of christmas future

Dear great-great granddaughter,

I have learned that hugh is seriously ill, and I am struck by how heavy my heart feels at the news. I wonder at that, hadn’t realized the place he holds there. What is it about the potential loss of this tender man that makes my heart break just a little. Ah, perhaps it is because he breaks it open, just a little, from within. With the remembrance of his gentle spirit, his eyes for beauty, his love of mytery, he stirs awake something in me, something in me that remembers why I am also here… to walk gently, to see beauty, to wonder at the mystery, to love.

I hadn’t realized how much my heart was filled by his words, words that resonated with the ones hidden in my heart until they swelled into song. I picture him now, lying on the hillside he spoke of , the one that filled his heart with wonder when he was a young man. I know he is witnessing beauty, wherever he is. It is his way.

I have come to the basement to write this early evening. The house is quiet and I am alone, but I wanted to be with the sound of the electric train circling the track. There is something soothing, almost prayerful about its circling, like rumi round his pole. It reminds me of my father. I wonder about that too. That he is here this night alongside hugh.

I suppose I wish my father had been more like him, had shared with me the secrets of his heart, spoken of the sorrows that made it heavy and the wonders that made it soar. I wish that he had filled me with the knowledge of my belovedness, helped me look for beauty. But that was not his way. Perhaps he didn’t know where to find it or perhaps he simply didn’t know how to share it.

This evening, I have the memory of him with his electric trains, circling the track, bringing some deep satisfaction to his soul, some soothing to his spirit,  and of course much joy to the young ones in his circle. Perhaps it was prayer to him too.

I wonder if I will feel such heaviness when my mother dies. I expect it will surprise me, that particular sorrow, not for the loss, but for what never was and for what was so long broken. For words never spoken. Will I wonder at the mystery of her, wonder who she was, ponder the story hidden deep within about why she was here?

Am I also such a mystery to my own children, in this ever circling path. By the time you are born,great-great granddaughter of mine, I will be in some far away orbit from the center that is your own heart, some distant mother of which you may not be aware. And yet, some piece of the mystery that I am is in you too. How will you know it? Where will you feel it? Will something call you to pause in the quiet, rhythmic clicking of some object in your life, reminding you of something you’d forgotten, as it does to me with this train circling the tracks. Or will it be the way your heart swells along a mountain trail, as hemlock needles soften your step and rhododendron, thick with blossoms, slows it. Will you wonder from what ancestor came this fierce tenderness for the beauty of this place, from whence came this urgency to dwell more deeply in the solitude of forest, why your heart is broken open by a poem?

Will there be, I pray, a mother or a father with whom you dare to speak these things, or will you sit, like me, listening to your heart and wondering why it was a stranger touched it so….


cave of forgotten dreams

Dear great-great granddaughter,

Slipping out of bed in the early morning to be in the quiet of the house, alone, is a rare pleasure. Don is an early riser, an ‘up and at ‘em’ type who likes to hit the ground running. I prefer to ease my way into the day, to spend some languid hours being still, with cup of tea or coffee and nearby window with a view, writing, praying, continuing the evening’s dreaming. The quality of my writing is different somehow in these hours, I notice. It flows more readily, as if I am still connected by thicker strands to the richness of that otherland we go to in our sleep.

I awoke this morning with my granddaughter on my heart, and I realize how much I love her, how much I really do want to be near her.

That confuses things so much. When I was away last week with don, so many parts of myself came forth in the spaciousness of that set apart time and place, as if they are always present within me but crowded out typically by the demands of the roles I fulfill in my life. I tasted for a moment what my life might be like, given the space to explore and nurture those potentials within me, how I might express myself, live more authentically, given that kind of space and time. Oh, and it tasted phenomenal, akin to those first bites of bread and soup at the inn, the kind of flavor that makes your eyes roll back in your head and your chin lift, an orgasmic kind of flavor…

Pleasure. Surprisingly, I have been pondering that word of late. (I suppose it is one of the words that revealed itself in the spaciousness). So often I have noted in my life, but especially lately, that I don’t know how to ‘have fun’. I observe others dancing, laughing, playing unabashedly and I wonder how they do it, or if there is something broken in me that I cannot let loose in that way. I have been criticized for it too. And yet, last week there it was, in its more ‘grown up’ incarnation of the word, no doubt. Pleasure. From the delectable flavors that seemingly kissed my lips and tongue, to the stunningly soothing views that greeted my eyes, to the delightful smell of the sheets that caused me to smile and to sigh each time I rolled over in bed, to the sounds of the tumbling water that seemed to wash my spirit clean even as it filled me to the brim with joy, to the feel of don’s warm skin against mine, to the whole body experience of walking the frosty labyrinth each early morn in the surround of hemlocks and pines, I was awake in a way I haven’t often been.
My whole self was present. I suppose that is it. Simply myself. Unworried. Unanxious about the ‘next’ or the ‘who’ or the ‘why’. Undivided.

I simply don’t know how to hold all the pieces of me in one place at one time, without some parts getting crowded out. It seems when I tend to my creative self, my relationships suffer; when I tend to my relationships, my creative self dies. I can’t seem to hold them in balance and/or there is too much. I ponder the word sacrifice and its relationship to gift, but I can’t seem to be willing to let go of either in order to allow one to grow. I long for an abiding passion to overwhelm me so that the choice is seemingly taken from me, and I have no choice but to follow my bliss. My god, I even dream about holy torrents washing away all of my clothes, save the one blue dress I really long to wear.

Hmm… follow my bliss. How close are bliss and pleasure to each other? My anam-cara and I pondered how it might be for me to follow this newfound pleasure, spiritually, to let pleasure be akin to a cairn, marking the way. What a concept is that?

There is much to let go of in order to follow one’s bliss…. Big words like responsibility, relationship, judgment, obligation, and little ones like need, control, role, fear and duty. Family is some strange mix of bliss and duty. It’s so hard to sort out those threads.

An image has come to me since my time away of what it felt like to be in that place. I picture myself in a cave with tall walls, shaped something like a crock (or perhaps an inverted womb). There is a small pool of dark water on the floor of the cave. The pool is teeming with life and potential for life, and I am alone in that vast open space. The walls are thick, impenetrable to the harshness of the light outside, save for the small opening at the top, which allows me to see…at last. Those walls, I suspect, have protected this sacred space for some time. The potential to fill this space is mine, from those seeds of life teeming in me, like all those iridescent blue eggs lying at the bottom of the sea that I saw in my dream a few weeks ago.

The question, as always, is how to translate that vision into real life. Where is that cave? Those walls? And am I brave enough to enter it?…..


Home. What does that word mean, when arriving back to the familiar makes me feel like a stranger to myself? All the stresses come rushing back in, the social obligations, the anxiety about this program pressing close, messages on the phone, on the computer, worrying about my children and my relationships with them.

I want to turn around and run away. Yes, that is the feeling, so strong, escape. Go back to those mountains, a life that feels simpler somehow, where there is space for me.

I suppose I may need to stop living my life out of obligation to others. It is so hard for me to disappoint someone. I imagine that comes from fear somewhere in me, fear that disappointment will lead to rejection, fear of judgment. Perhaps it is time for me to realize that I can no longer live my life trying to please everybody except for myself.

Of course, the truth is that I want it all. I want relationships that are meaningful AND time and space for my own desires. The truth is that it is my own judgment that I need to bear…. Not living up to some ideal of motherhood, or personhood, that I impose upon myself.  The truth is I don’t really want to sacrifice in order to make the space in my life that I long for. There’s not space for it all and something MUST go.

The thing that I notice, when I am away from all of this, is that there is this part of me that starts to come out and dream a little. Starts to imagine what possibilities for her life there might be, starts to explore regions of myself that lie beyond the reaches of the time and space in which I ordinarily have to explore.

It’s as if I begin exploring a trail, but I can only get so far because something keeps calling me back or I run out of time. I never make it around that bend to discover what beauties or mysteries lie there, never reach the quiet place.

I long to explore those regions for weeks, months, years, get to know them intimately, settle into their quiet strength and beauty. I want to camp out there, cook my food there, paint what I see there.

I need quiet.

My husband and I were discussing the idea of sacrifice, how it relates to realizing a gift. We were recalling the article that spoke of the 3 things necessary to bring forth a gift – a wound, regular practice, and sacrifice. That is, sacrifice of all the other loves that tug upon your heart. The wound part confused me a bit whenever I pondered a move to the mountains. Of course, it’s easy to see now, the relationship between the wound of no boundaries and the desire to create a physical one, but there is also the love affair I have with the mountains. I think that love affair/longing has something to do with the wounding of my wildness, the same way in which gardening with native plants has had to do with that wounding of my wildness. In the garden, it was expressed in a desire to give back to the earth its natural ways, to let it grow and blossom in the way that is natural for it to grow and blossom. It was a healing of the earth, and a healing of myself, to say ‘no more’. No more stripping and cutting you back to one way of looking, no more squaring you off, feeding you herbicide in order to restrict your growth. No more domestication.

And of course, that could only go so far, I suppose, for it was such a small sliver that was allowed to trust its nature, when I am longing for the whole. The whole of me, not a sliver every Tuesday, or once a month, or twice a year.  I want to be able to step out of my door daily into miles of native woodland, and to step into those same expansive places in myself.

Dear great-granddaughter,

As I write this, I live in a house in the middle of a subdivision, but I am not at home here. Here I feel like huge parts of me are missing. I have tried to make the best of it, planted every square foot of lawn with trees and shrubs and flowers from the woods, where I long to be. I have tried to give this ¼ acre plot of earth back to itself, to give it permission to be a little wilder, a little creative, a little more true to its own nature.

Here, at the turn of the 21st century, lawns are manicured, squared off, clipped short, and limited to grass, domesticated. It’s getting harder and harder to live inside those boxes…..


It is such a graceful way to recycle death, really. Sitting here, in the warmth of an overstuffed chair, with a cup of tea and a pillow, gazing quietly out on Mt Leconte,I notice their dance. At first two, then four, and as I’m admiring their count-clockwise flowing spirals thirteen more join them in groups of 2 or 3. There must be a roosting site in these tall pines, hidden from view. I imagine they spent the earlier hours of morning drying their wings. It was a damp raw night.

At first I assumed some large beast had died and they were drawn to its scent. Last night as I slept, I was frequently aroused by the scent of the fresh sheets on my bed, such a simple pleasure, but one which I’ve never appreciated like this. Is the scent of death a similar pleasure for those birds, I wonder.

I’m taken in for a moment by the reverie of perspective. I wonder if another, observing these same winged ones would note their counter-clockwise motion? Would it seem to him that he was gazing up upon them or that they were gazing downward upon him when he discerned their motion? Would she position herself at 6 o’clock on the dial, as I do, when orienting herself to their movement, seeing the clock’s face from above or below? These are the things I wonder when I am quiet, at how the quiet itself lends a new perspective.

They feel like a welcome sign to me. Of course, I hope they have come to clean up the remaining remnants of the old, my past life, all that has come before, consumed as nourishment for what is to come next. My years as mother finally over, the years of crone to come.

Later this morning, I will walk rachael’s labyrinth, circling myself, praying over all that has gone before, blessing it, releasing it to its own circular path. Though I want to manage somehow the experience, make the entry circles about the past, the exit ones about the future, I will discover that all of it is present in both halves of the winding, in and out path. My past will always be a part of my future, consumed by me, as by the vultures, to become a part of my very cells. I will forever be a part of my children, too, some mysterious part of their cells if nothing else, though I trust I will somehow also be a part of their lives in other ways too. One cannot just leave things in the past. That is what the vultures teach, after all. There is no such thing as trash, there is simply transformation.

I am NOT by any means trying to say that my role as mother was trash, just that I have lived that life fully, worn it out, and it is passing away. What I am noticing is that the transition from mother to crone is not a sudden one, the changing of clothes does not necessarily change the wearer of them instantly.

I wonder now if the transition from maiden to mothers was not the same. It seemed so sudden at the time. In an instant, I was mother and my life was forever, from that point forward irrevocably altered. But now I wonder, what parts of my previous self were carried forth, transformed from my maiden days to be put to good used in my mothering ones? That is harder to imagine. That break feels so much cleaner, less muddied, though I am certain my experience of being mothered became a part of my mothering……..

As I walked the labyrinth this morning, I noted my ancestor-women with me. There is that unrooted part of me so often, the part that has no connection to the past generations of women/mothers/grandmothers. So often I feel as if I am first woman, learning it all firsthand, without the benefit of wisdom and experience, of modeling and guidance. Of course, they are a part of my cells, as are my own children and grandchildren, it is the tangible ways in which they are not a part of my life. I have no conscious knowledge of them, the lives they led, the hopes they held, the pain they experienced, the loves they cherished or hid. There has to be some richness in them, I feel it in my blood. Would I be the person that I am were they not something of the same? I imagined those old photographs that my grandmother gave to me. There is such a harshness in them, it is difficult to detect their beauty. Their lives feel so distant from my own, and yet, there I was inviting their presence with me on my walk, yearning for a little of their sustenance and warmth, but mostly some bit of their wisdom in knowing how to maneuver this passage.

It was in the center that I realized that I am in the center, holding this point in Indres net, between the past and the future. I recalled once again my place in the 7 generations, those stretching out behind me, those to come before me.

How disorienting it was , when walking at the circle dance a few weeks ago (counter clockwise, I might note) to imagine myself with the future spread out behind me, so counter-intuitive it was for me to imagine my future following me, walking in these footsteps that I was making. At the same time, I was invited to walk in the footsteps of one who has come before me, one whom I admire, to follow her lead.
There I was again, in that place in between, which is in fact, no other place than where I always am of course, right here in the middle, recycling the old into the new. I like that there is movement even here, since the middle so often feels ‘caught’ to me… as in ‘between a rock and a hard place’. Is there a difference then between ‘middle’ and ‘center’? Ah.. perhaps so.
This morning, I began to perceive, for the first time ever perhaps, that there are those… women… who have come before, accompanying me, supporting me. I am not so alone after all. Perhaps I can lean into them, trust that they will lead me through this labyrinthine path, teach me to shed my skin, hold that blue dress for me to step into…


The emancipation process children go through on their way to becoming adults can often feel more painful for their mothers, I think, than it is for them. I suppose that goes against conventional wisdom about adolescence being the most painful period in a person’s life, but I suspect it’s another one of those secrets women don’t talk about, another loss of self that goes with the exalted and reviled territory of motherhood.
At least that’s the way it feels with my daughter right now. I’ve been waiting for the time when we might become friends again, when I am not either spending all of my energy trying to nurture her, support her, encourage her, uplift her, protect her (often from herself), or alternately feeling attacked by her for some perceived fault of mine. Lately it seems I am public enemy #1 in her book, and at times her barbs are extremely painful.
I am exhausted.
Now, I am supposed to understand, as the adult, that this is just a ‘phase’ she is going through, a healthy emancipation and individuation from me, which necessitates her, for a time, hating everything I am, but it is really quite uncomfortable living in the same house with someone who despises just about everything about you… from the simple things like the way you laugh,  the way you wear your clothes, or the movies that you like, to the precious things you cherish most. It seems to me that the scorn escalates (or perhaps deteriorates) as it does in any other abusive relationship to whatever level is necessary in order to inflict pain.
I will be so glad when she moves out and I feel terribly guilty about even saying that, but it is long past time. This child of mine has taken far too long to leave the nest. No longer an adolescent ( though parts of her seem stuck there ) perhaps this period of time living here has accomplished some unfinished task, some last bit of long-since useful and festering placenta finally broken. What a long transition, to borrow the term used for that stage of labor when birth is imminent and the pain is at its most intense, this has been. Perhaps I should’ve opted for that C-section after all!
In the meantime, I am trying to hold on to the goodness in our relationship, and hold my tongue so that I don’t make the same mistake my mother did with me and alienate her forever, trying not to scream something hurtful from my own place of pain. (again I am struck by the apt analogy to labor pain)
Alas, the alienation of mothers and daughters is a deep sadness of mine. Deep inside my pocket…
Perhaps my silence is a mistake, though. Does it make me a victim, codependent with an abusive person, accepting her mistreatment of me in the name of love and understanding? Does it teach her to be empathic? To understand how her behavior affects those around her? Or am I once again just afraid so much of losing love that I allow the other too much latitude? Where do I look the other way, knowing from my a deeper place of wisdom that this is her immaturity speaking and where does my wisdom rise up to speak the truth of what it sees?
Have I failed her after all by loving her to much? By feeling ultimately too connected to her?
What would the wolf do? Ah… there it is. She would, no doubt, not take a moment of this misbehavior, and snap at her young cub. That instinct in me has gotten so distorted by fear.
Of course, she has thrown away the ‘Women who run with the wolves’ blessing I painted for her those years ago. It hurt to see it in the trash, but I can live with that now. Tonight, it is ok. I know she must find her own territory, learn her own ways, trust her own instincts, strike out on her own. I expect that means no longer relying upon my wisdom, or my prayers, for her.
I have wanted her to fly, after all. (and, after all, that is what the blessing on the flag says, in its own way, so perhaps it is apt that she has thrown it away)
 Precious daughter, beautiful creature of the wild, run with power, run with grace
to the edge of the tallest cliff, which your keen eyes can spy on the horizon,
and roar freedom’s song into the canyon.
Let no predator cross into the territory of your Self and be forever strong.
Trust your instincts to carry you even when legs are weary,
for you are a woman, child, my wild child of wisdom, grace, and beauty.
Howl to the moon!

Yes. It is better for her to trust her own legs/wings/voice than to need mine to carry her. Perhaps it is time for her to throw my words away….
I hope this move sticks. I also realize that I have to do my part to emancipate myself on this end. To not get caught up in the phone calls and the drama from halfway across the continent.
And here I am again, in my head, talking my way through, dispassionately describing what has felt like hell these last months. While wanting to offer hospitality and healing, her presence has felt consuming.I am ready to take my life back, to be nourished instead of consumed. To rub some balm into these calluses of mine, soften these hardened defenses that have accumulated around me.
It is time for my life to begin again.


Buckhorn inn, cottage 3

This place is like an answer to prayer. When we stepped out of the car in the driveway to the quiet, to the view, to the absence of neighboring buildings and lights, I felt my body sigh. One more step away from the anxiety and pain that have been these last weeks.

The release began this morning, when the car entered the national parklands. We drove for many miles along the rushing Little River. Churning, rolling, and spilling over its banks, I felt somehow as if it were cleansing me, the force of the water seeking out and finding every remnant of the toxins I have been ingesting lately. It is not surprising at all, I suppose, that several hours later my own bowels were gushing their contents like an opened faucet.

Weeks, months, years of contempt emptying out, flowing away. How long might it take for my cells to release it all? How long until I am brand new, my cells made up of only the goodness that I feed them?

This morning, I woke with the remembrances of yesterday’s madness-the swearing and name-calling, the negativity and fear, the spitting upon me of contempt. I wonder what it is about me that makes me such a target for another’s scorn…..

OH! I wonder if this is the place where I might don that blue dress! It certainly feels like the place from my dream…the same sense of remoteness, of deep woods, of other-timeness. What might I be invited to put on in this place after I strip and detox from my system all of the other-defined labels? Perhaps this is the place of stripping, of letting go, of losing.

Oh my, I just remembered that part of the dream. Of course! The waters rushing, the torrent… as we drove along that swollen river, the need so potent to open the window of the car to the sound, so that I could breathe it in almost…

Last night, I also recalled the dream of the phosphorescent blue eggs lying at the bottom of the sea, my voice waiting in the depths to hatch, so many words, perhaps, incubating…

I want this to be a time of starting fresh.  I heard a young woman say that about herself last night too. I pray that it is for my daughter, as well, that she can find her voice, trust herself, live with integrity to who she is.

There is a labyrinth here. I hope to walk it each day, to continue the process of letting go and of moving forward, of shedding old skin and finding the freshness of who I am beneath it. But for tonight, I am tired. …


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