Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Palm Sunday

For as long as I can remember Holy Week has been about connecting to worlds greater than myself from the deepest parts of my heart. When I was a little girl my father was the minister of a church in Concord, New Hampshire and Palm Sunday was the day when we children were front and center for the morning service. The sermon was directed towards the whole family and was centered around the story of Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem and gloriously being hailed by the crowds and we New Englanders, in the mid-50’s, would all exit the church with our own palm leaves, waving with giddy excitement in our cores, for this triumph.

Today I woke up to an orange tree outside my window, bursting with fruit and the sun shining in on my pillow. A smile on my face and in my heart knowing what day this was, ushering in this sacred week of joy and betrayal and agony and miracles and resurrection and ultimate faith. This house that I am currently sitting has come to me fully loaded with three small dogs (yes, deja vu...another three-dog night house). These pups are a pack indeed and not one of my maneuvers escapes the watchdog of the moment. My opening eyes were simultaneously met with pounces onto my face and slurpy ‘We want breakfast” greetings. The Palm Sunday spell was broken.

Two hours later I was driving down the highway to peddle my cookies in Venice. I have been given the luxury of driving the home owner’s giant SUV, which is a blessing as our faithful thirteen year old station wagon has reached the limping phase of its life and this jaunt puts a hefty strain on its engine. I usually don’t push knobs that I’m not familiar with while driving but I had been told that the music system in this car was elite and ooh lala. I breathed in the sunshine and California hills as the earlier doggy reality slipped into the background and sacred awareness re-emerged. I wanted music. My instinct said “Push the buttons!” While keeping my eyes on the road I randomly pushed. I got music of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, jazz, spa, Sinatra, love, Broadway tunes, symphony and then the Metropolitan Opera. I hit the motherload as Handel's Messiah was midstream. I thanked my Mom and Dad (oh thank you for choosing me to be your daughter and grow up in our household that I may know this music so well!) as an early measure of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” finished and I could sing the whole rest of the piece feeling God and love and light and miracles above, below and inside of me. I was having such a marvelous time that I completely missed my turn (in fact I passed several) and ended up having to come back to the planet and navigate the racetrack area of a not so nifty neighborhood while trying to figure out where on earth I was.

A few hours later as I finished up my cookie peddling on Abbot Kinney, my favorite street in Venice, a camera crew appeared out of nowhere interviewing passers by. I have never been one to be thrust into this kind of spotlight and I fully intended to walk on by, but a microphone loomed towards me with the human being behind it saying, " We're from the new Oprah Winfrey network, can we ask you a few questions?" My mouth said 'no' followed by my brain saying 'What are you thinking?????' So my mouth corrected itself and said 'alright'. There I was, microphone in the face and camera pointed at me and now the question ' Do you believe in miracles?' All I could think was 'Oh my GOD! My whole life, every second, every minute, every day is a miracle and how do I answer this?' So I stumbled around and said 'Do you have three hours?' Then MIRACULOUSLY something snapped inside of me and I stepped into my truth. I lost all self consciousness and began to connect to the passion of who and what I am about. The words raced out of me, and ran all over the place. I have no idea what I said but whatever it was, it was perfect. Towards the end of my interview the director said "Repeat after me. I want to have my own tv show on Oprah's new network" I did and I added "And I want Oprah to make all of my movies as they were born to be made and touch people". Thank you's and cookies sprinkled amongst the crew and I walked away. I was tempted to think 'Oh, I should have said this' or 'You fool! You blithered!' But no. This happened exactly as it was supposed to. No matter what happens I let'er rip on why I'm here on this planet and how I have so very much to do and say, but this little encounter exhausted me. I slipped into the next shop that appeared in desperate need of an oasis after extending myself so completely.

Here I was met by an unlikely gathering of angels. A shop where my cookies are rarely bought. A shop where a certain level of sophistication resides and so if I enter I don't linger and chat. A shop where there is usually one beautifully dressed woman behind the counter and today the whole staff was there. As I stumbled in and began to babble about what had just happened, they rallied and supported me and cheered me on and it was phenomenal. Human beings. We really are all one big family. In this year of having no home I have grown more sisters and brothers than I could ever have imagined. My truth is that the only thing that really matters is the human heart and how we share it and connect with others. These women cried when they heard my story and I promised them that if I do happen to hear from Oprah, they will be the first, after my husband and daughters, to know, as they were the ones who carried me after my grand effort. This Palm Sunday has resonated in my soul with donkeys and waving palms and giddy excitement and promise.

Thank you, God.
Thank you oranges and little dogs.
Thank you Handel and Haley.
Thank you Oprah people.
Thank you shop ladies.
Thank you Melanie.
Thank you Norman and Obie.

Good night everyone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Four Legs, Slurpy Tongues and Living Breathing Hearts

As a girl, before India, my father was the minister of a church in Concord, New Hampshire. During that time we had a labrador retriever named Teddy. We called him 'Ted Puss' because he was a dribble puss. In the family's attempt to train him not to beg while we ate he was required to sit outside the dining room, so he sat in the doorway watching us and drooled. My parents laughingly referred to him as a 'Thurber dog' and though I didn't know exactly what this meant I knew it was a compliment. Teddy was simply doggy, he would woof at the cupboard where the dog biscuits lived, and wag his tail so that everything coffee table height flew, and he was very much in the center of our family. Every evening Mom and Dad rallied the four of us children to the living room for what we called family worship. We sat on the floor supposedly for a short bible story and prayer and attempted to be reverent. This was too much for Teddy. We were at his level, doing nothing. Slithering in like a little black seal (Teddy was the runt of the litter so he was a small lab) he wriggled his way around the circle licking everyone's face with wild enthusiasm and when he had each of us at his mercy he'd climb into one lap after another. Great hilarity all round and breathless laugher. This was family worship. When I turned seven, we found out that we would be moving to India for a long time. Mom and Dad found a close friend to take care of Teddy but none of us could bare to think of leaving him. A few months before we left Mom began packing our trunks as they were going to be shipped by sea. She had lain her clothes out on the bed and then left the room. When she came back the clothes were gone and of course she thought that in the chaos of planning she was losing her mind. Teddy had taken them out into the back yard and was fastidiously burying them. He thought that if he did this we would not go. When they were discovered and the trunks were sent, Teddy quietly died. This was my first experience with a soul knowing that dogs are devoted to us and to our journeys and selflessly position themselves to serve and love in the best way that they can. Teddy's life on earth was over when we were no longer going to be 'his' but the joyful footprints that he left on those innocent years of my birth family live forever.

Three of my friends have had to say their final good-byes to their furry beloveds in the last two weeks. So many beings leaving the planet; do they know something that we don't? My Obie lies here watching me lazily out of the corner of his eye. He understands every word that I say, and every feeling that I have. Oberon, are you Julius reincarnated? You might be, but it doesn't matter.

Ahh. Julius. Julius was born on the bed of my daughter, Melanie, on the Ides of March when she was 12. Melanie had wanted Julius' mother Lily to do just this but when it actually happened (complete with Melanie screaming and Nina, her younger sister reading the vet book of instructions)the overwhelming facts around birthing being a messy business and thirteen golden retrievers puppies dropping all over her room in little sacs, was just too much. This was how Julius entered the world, and in spite of the frantic chaos he was a solid, mellow boy from day one. When he was 3 months old he had an accident which combined with Hurricane Hugo, ultimately resulted in a hip replacement. Through all of this Julius became accustomed to 'staying put' and being with humans. In those years I was a professional massage therapist, and baby Julius would sleep under the massage table while I worked on clients, ahe absorbing all of the floaty energy. We moved to New York City when he was three and as my career morphed into counseling, Julius morphed as well and now met clients at the door and led them into the living room by the wrist, then lay down and zoned in and out while they shared. He was my partner through and through. I was single and as my daughters grew and flitted to and from the nest, Julius was constant. During this chapter I was badly injured and EMS'd to a hospital. Before I could be released to my home the hospital required the name of a responsible party who would be tending to my needs. 'Julius' was the name that I gave and yes, he was perfect. When Julius was thirteen, my daughters now finished with college and on their own, his hip began to cause him excruciating pain and our fourth floor walk up was too much for him. My destiny was calling me to head west so I loaded him into a rented car and we headed for Boulder, Colorado. Julius had one year being 'Ferdinand'; he would sit in mountain meadows and sniff the flowers and the wind. After slipping away in my arms one night I sprinkled him in this meadow thus allowing my future husband to enter my life. Julius knew that a new chapter lay just around the bend for me and that he needed to go to make room for it. Julius was my companion through the entire single mother years of my life. What would we do without these creatures from whom we learn love and loyalty and forgiveness beyond the imagination of human capability?

One year later I googled 'golden' in the state of Colorado and found that a litter had been born in the mountains nearby. I wasn't ready for a new dog but was drawn. The roads twisted and turned and I finally drove through the gates of what looked like a rustic wonderland. Three golden retrievers, a wolf and a woman greeted me. I was ushered into a barn peppered with puppy litters, each meticulously cared for and some too young to go home. Tustling balls of golden retriever fuzz. I turned to ask the woman a question and was met by the gaze of a single blond three month old with a curly chest and soft eyes sitting straight up, all alone and looking directly at me. 'Who Are You?' I asked to him. And the woman answered "This is Baby Grunt. His father won best of show at the Westminster and we were keeping him and his brother for three months to see which one to show oursleves. This morning we decided on his brother as goldens must be the color of a copper penny and he's too light" I was spellbound, starstruck, in love with royalty, but his soul is what shone through. I felt that I knew him. I drove home. The next morning I drove back with my husband. For the first two days that the puppy was with us I kept slipping and calling him 'Julius' and he spontaneously responded each time. We named him Oberon, which he adapted to quickly but as a baby his response was to his former life name (just as with humans, we forget our former life once we get going in the present one). Obie is purely Obie now and he's been with us for seven years. My relationship with him is totally different than mine with Julius, largely because it is Obie who rounds the coupledom of my husband and me into a true family unit. We three are a family, hence our relationships overlap. My husband is the alpha of the tribe ( there was no alpha when I was single), and Obie and I are litter mates. Obie is well trained and quite perfectly obedient with my husband; Obie will sit for hours and stare at him in adoration of his leader, where he and I play and cuddle. We twinkle and wink at each other and when I sing to him he transcends this planet. This year has been strenuous for my family as we have been without a home. Obie has rolled with every variation on a theme, from sharing the nest of three tiny doglets who did not truly want him there (at first), to having to curb his bird retrieving instincts while living with eight designer chickens, to midnight scuffles on the Venice Boardwalk, to trying to find a place to breathe in the heat of Palm Springs. For Obie? Who once upon a time lived with us in a little blue cottage by the sea and ran with the wind every evening while the sun set, home is where we are. No matter what. His love and sweetness never falter. Ever.

Love and loyalty is what these beings are about, what they embody for us and where they become our mirrors and our teachers. Amen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Snake Medicine and Angel Wings

There is not such a thing as too much trust. There is such a thing as mixing up trust with need and muddying the truth.

Over a year ago my husband and I had to walk away from our home because we had trusted someone, something, words, promises that pushed our rationality but felt in alignment with our destinies. Were we wrong? No, there isn’t such a thing. “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go”. We believed then and we believe now in who we are, the path we are on, how our lives are unfolding, and how we are to show up in the world with our God given gifts. The who and what we trusted in was not grounded but not wrong. What we are experiencing as a result is only making us more of who we are supposed to be.

Two days ago we left the Sesame House in the valley. Insecurities and angst rose from my belly and my old friend snake medicine delivered another bite. I’m just now recovering and healing and phoenixing as the poison makes me stronger. Angels accompany me above, below, and at my side, always; their loyal presence comforts and supports.

When I was a girl my older brother collected boa constrictors, pythons and anacondas. None of these were poisonous but Dave’s fascination with snakes led him into worlds where cobras were devenomed and snake handlers were friends. Around the dinner table, the whole family immersed itself in tales of exotic near ‘misses’ and reptilean likes and dislikes. Little did I know that this family that I had been born into, with profound differences among us, was laying the foundation for my entire adulthood even with these stories of transmutation cycles where multiple bites grow an immunity to poison and the shedding of skins is about life and death and rebirth. Twenty years later when I drew my first American Indian Medicine Cards and my spirit animals claimed me, snake appeared among them and I took a deep breath with an ‘oh no’ following with an exhale of soul understanding.

Snake bit me hard this week and though he has become a familiar companion, his presence always requires energy, attention and respect. While dealing with his bite, in the first stage, I slide away from my creativity and expression and I move through my world with angel wings around me whilst attempting to see clearly and feel present and be strong. Then the healing and growth begin.

My husband and I have become professional house-sitters for this chapter. All of our earthly possessions are in storage and we are living the dread of many Americans. We have no home, no health insurance, no bank account and no concrete plan. I am here to say it’s not only alright but it’s an incredible experience, more rich with personal and spirit treasure than one can grok without the walking. Every single day the fog around my soul’s vision becomes clearer and though much energy is required to maintain an equilibrium, the challenge is worth it. ‘Following one’s bliss’ is a phrase that was popular twenty years ago; and I know now that this doesn’t mean that every moment feels delightful but it does mean that every moment I am planting the garden of my life and my dreams are breathing and manifesting. Along the way I am meeting people who I touch and am touched by, we appear and disappear to each other but in the moment there is a clarity of experiencing ourselves and God in every exchange. I have stories to tell and the stories are growing. Norman and I are a screenwriting team, we are new to the world of wheeling and dealing in Hollywood, and we continue to believe that our stories are our destiny.

Tonight with one roof behind and one ahead somewhere, my higher self says “I welcome you, oh snake medicine, as your bites empower me and your skin shedding rebirths me. You watch! One day I shall sprout angel wings of my own and you will be in awe and I shall thank you forever”

And my smaller self says, “ I need to rest now as tomorrow is a new day and spring is coming.”

Good night.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Every House Should Come With A Maddy

Five days left in the Sesame House and a pot pourri of feelings.

Two months ago a cluster of angels appeared on the horizon and we were ushered into this haven of color and comfort. We have been in transition for a year and house-sitting has been our saving grace. An exquisite young Audrey Hepburnish woman walked us through the back door of this nest in the valley where flowers popped out of picture frames and every piece of furniture was lime green, bright orange, purple or zebra striped. The images go in the eyes and down the spinal column and the breath speeds up. ‘I know’, she said, ‘it’s happy like Sesame Street’.

And the Sesame House entered our lives. Along with three tiny dogs and a fifteen year old beauty named Maddy.

Maddy’s mother had been called away to Hawaii to produce a movie called ‘Soul Surfer’, which is the story of the young girl that lost her arm to a shark and triumphed. The parallel between this theme and our Sesame chapter is no surprise, and as we approach our farewell our hearts are full.

Fifteen years ago my own daughters were Maddy’s age-ish. As a single mother the connections were intense and brimful of needs. My daughters and I have travelled the road into and out of and back into intimacy and truth beneath truth beneath truth, but as mothers and daughters, the tendrils being so easily entwined around each others’ hearts and souls, we must always stay mindful and present around each others’ boundaries and needs for such.

Enter Maddy, as a delightful surprise, a cherry on top, a valley girl with brains and sensitivities and sensibilities and creativity galore. Every single time Maddy crosses my visual path my artistic self begins to flutter as my eyes traverse the view. She has a gift for changing her entire appearance and vibe with a wand flick and with her long legginess and pixie lightness I feel as if I’m flipping pages of Seventeen Magazine in the mid 60’s.

Beneath all of this, ahhh yes, we females have our ways....a relationship was born and is now in full bloom. I love that life provides constant opportunities to visit and share each others’ realities; to see and know in one fell swoop that yes, we are all different, and the world that we are born into looks very different depending on when and where one enters, but we are also all alike. We each want to love and be loved and see and be seen and fulfill and be fulfilled and touch each other and work and play. Simple.

Maddy and I were dancing the dance of being two women inhabiting a shared space when a blow to Maddy’s heart upended her and I held out my hand. With this passage we threw the curtains wide open to chitter chatter and depth and spiritual exploration and friendship. And now? I am having an opportunity to listen and expound freely, co-create adventures spontaneously, close my door with no explanation, care deeply and experience a daughter-like creature who is not my daughter. And I have a feeling we have just begun.

Thank you Sesame House! Thank you angels: Michael, and Kaye and Susie and Joey.

And being a lover of large dogs my whole life long, and never really ‘getting’ little dogs, my heart has been stolen by these three. I adore each one and will miss each and all beyond expression. Thank you Twiggy, Billy and Courtney.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Connie's Moons

Tonight the moon is a half moon, but I don’t know if it is a half snow moon or a half sap moon, I’ll have to ask Connie.

When my dad was in the hospital two years ago, I gathered the email addresses of as many of his associates and lifetime comrades that I could and I wrote to them every week. My intention was to inform them and honor him, but what came out of it was a deluge of responses and relationships with me.

Of these relationships there is one which I now live daily and when my perspective morphs into eagle eye, I shake my head in wonder.

Connie is almost 90 years old and once upon a time worked with Dad in his New York office. I met her only once, when I was 16, but every morning for the last two years we have written to each other and shared our worlds.

We live the human experience in the simplest way. By sharing our thoughts and dreams and concerns and daily doings we find overlaps and synchronicities in a myriad of places. We both love big soft bagels with butter and jam; we love waking up to fresh sparkling snow, we love the oboe and to dance, we don’t like to be misunderstood by our children, we love company but need our freedom, we like to swim in warm water, and we want to explore and have wild adventures and then return to the cozy familiarity of home.

When Connie was a newly wed, she and her husband lived on an Indian reservation in the southwest. As a part of my morning meditations I have used Indian medicine cards for years. We both speak animals and moons, however Connie’s moons add a whole new beauty to moons that I had never known and so here I am to share her moons with you.

January is the wolf moon. February is the snow moon, March is the sap moon, April is the frog moon, May is the flower moon, June is the strawberry moon, July is the buck moon, August is the green corn moon, September is the harvest moon, October is the hunter's moon, November is the beaver moon and December is the long night moon.

From this day forth when you look at the moon you must ask yourself what moon it is, and thus connect yourself to the ancient and the new. Full moons are about fulfillment and living in light.

I suggest drinking them in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Academy Awards. The Memories and Possibilites That Those Two Words Conjure

Once upon a time I lived in Charleston, South Carolina. This was where I raised my daughters, mostly as a single mother, and therefore of course, where every nickel needed stretching and I was always having to breathe deeply and pray that I could manifest enough.

Towards the end of this chapter, I happened to read an advertisement for a workshop in upstate New York on ‘proprioceptive writing’. I had never heard of such a thing but the description resonated with a buried yearning to access this long forgotten friend, writing, and I knew that I needed to go.


My daughters were old enough to spend a week with friends, I could find someone to care for the dogs, but nickels. No nickels, and this would cost $800 including the bus fare and lodging. As I sat at a red light on East Bay Street in my blue Ford station wagon contemplating this, a shiny black MG convertible careened around the corner behind me and sailed right into my rear.



Then a flurry of yes, both drivers were fine and “Oh my GOD please don’t involve the insurance companies! I’m a doctor, I can pay you in cash! Just take your car to my car guy, here’s his card, and let me know how much the repairs are! Please!”

Okay. So off I went to her car guy. The estimate from my dented bumper and the car being slightly misaligned came to $900. Then I trotted over to my car guy and his estimate, purely functional, non cosmetic, was $100. There was an $800 difference. It seems that I was intended to go to my proprioceptive class so I reserved my place and bought a bus ticket.

When I got to New York City, dressed in my long pink sundress and flowing locks, I sat outside the Port Authority bus station eating a turkey bagel sandwich and waiting for my connecting bus to Rhinebeck. I was feeling at home and knowing as I looked around that I would live here one day. I noticed a policeman hovering next to me, who kept glancing over and down at me. Finally I said to him “Excuse me, are you watching me?” ‘Yes M’am” he said, “It’s obvious you’re not from the city and you’re a sitting duck looking like that so I’m keeping my eye on you”. “Oh! Thank you!” I said. And then my bus pulled up.

As I climbed onto the bus there was a woman with a glorious wide brimmed hat with swirling blond curls streaming down, sitting in the very front. She said “You are an actress!”. I looked up and said “Me?”. “Yes you, you are an actress, I know this”. I said ‘No, I’m not, actually. I am a writer.” “No, you are an actress, and one day you will win an academy award”.

My feelings were a mixture of ‘flattered’ and irritation. I had been an actress on the Charleston stage but had now moved on and writing was about to be my passion; it had been brewing. I didn’t want to hear that I had just walked away from something potentially amazing.

This gorgeous woman introduced herself to me as Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way” and my face drew a blank. She held her own but was a bit ruffled that I had never heard of her as she was a celebrity to many and on her way to Omega to teach her workshop. She invited me to sit with her and when it was established that I was indeed enrolled in my writing class, she said “No, you’ll be in my class, you will see”.

We rode together for those hours on the bus and became friends. Julia was a treasure chest full of stories and impressions and we passed the wand regularly, back and forth, and felt like sisters by the time we arrived. We parted ways and off I went to registration.

The next morning I sat with the other members of my class in a circle, we lit our candles and Bach’s Brandenburg concertos were put on and pens began to fly. Suddenly I stopped. What was I doing? I could do this on my own. I slipped out of the room, dashed off to registration and asked if there was any more room in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” workshop. One space. I slipped into the back as Julia was up front and a smug adorable smile escaped the side of her mouth as she nodded.

I had more fun that you can imagine that week and yes, Julia and I hung out every minute that we could. Years later I moved to New York City as I had predicted, and Julia and I connected for another chapter.

Intention, action, voila! One’s whole world leaps! This is how it works.