Updates and Reflections

June 2013

The garden, in full bloom, seems lusher than ever this year.


The flowers: roses in yellows, deep pink and reds; Gloriosa daisies in brilliant yellows and browns; white Shasta daisies with yellow centers; overflowing pots of grinning pansies in purple, white and yellow; pink and rose striped supertunias still thriving; white jasmine spilling over the edges of its pot; purple and lavender star flowers filling their hanging pots; melon-colored day lilies opening daily; bright and pale red nasturtiums sending runners along the patio; multicolored snapdragons and bright pink fuchsias crowding their hanging pots; purple lantana spreading along the patio; yellow fuzzy kangaroo paws reaching for the sun; purple flowers on two different sages and one of the lavenders; baby dahlias in soft orange.  

The vegetables: two kinds of kale; six varieties of lettuce in greens and reds; new arugula and some other unnamed spicy salad greens that came in a mixed six pack; baby Persian cucumbers emerging at the bottoms of yellow squash-like blossoms on vines that slither across the patio; a bounty of little (Sweet 100s) cherry tomatoes ripening daily; extravagances of oregano, peppermint and spearmint.

The fruits: small but tasty strawberries; the last of the Meyer lemons; the end of the tiny luscious harvest of mulberries (their first season here); baby apples filling the two trees at the meadow’s edge.

The annual pinkish-white wild morning glory carpet spreads across the meadow while orange California poppies, blue bachelor buttons and the spikey purple flowers of wild artichoke wave their heads in patches here and there amid the carpet.

As I write, a dozen or maybe even twenty hummingbirds (it’s hard to keep count!) are twittering and zooming across the patio to the feeders just outside the French doors of the study. They fearlessly buzz the kitties and me as I sit in the garden having breakfast. Yesterday, one got too close to Sugar and she jumped up to grab it. Fortunately, I was right there to free it from her jaws before she damaged it. Cupping it in my hands I did Reiki to help it get over the shock. After a while it seemed to perk up and I put it up on a perch at one of the feeders. Thankfully, most of the time the kitties are happy just to watch the show without molesting the tiny birds.

Despite fuller workdays this past month (with the addition of five new clients) life has continued, on the non-work days, to be full of time to drift along in the slow lane I so love. Barbara continues (in the spaces around her regular work life) to design and layout pages for the journaling book. My only task, besides responding (enthusiastically and delightedly) to her conceptions, has been to do the work needed to provide her with scan-able clean copies of the figure drawings from all the note, post and poster cards I’ve been midwifing since 1985. Because I always produced these the old-fashioned way: pasting the hand-drawn images and the computer produced (in a font of my own handwriting) texts onto masters, few of the images existed in my computer files. Slowly, I am moving into the 21st century!

When my old friend Justine invited me to come to Petaluma, California for a June 27th taping of an interview with her for New Dimensions Radio, I was thrilled and excited. Not only for the incredible honor of joining the extraordinary community of famous people with whom she and her late husband Michael have been in dialog over the past 40 years but, as well, for the chance to visit in person with this wonderful and dear friend I haven’t seen in ages. Justine was such an important part of and witness to the early days (1986 – 1993) of my process of becoming the who that I am now. As we sat in two different women’s lodges that met seasonally for long weekends in Northern California (the Spider Lodge and, later, The Hot Potatoes Lodge), her laser-like reflections were always germinal and spot-on. 

As soon as we’d confirmed the date and the 1:00 meeting time in Petaluma, I followed a surprising impulse (a nudge from the Grandmothers, I suspect!). I pulled up the vacation-rentals-by-owner (vbro) website I hear so much about from a couple of my close friends who use it and looked for an ocean view rental cottage in Bodega Bay. I haven’t been in the area since the Hot Potatoes stopped meeting. It’s a geography with which I feel a deep heart connection because of all the amazing times I spent there with the extraordinary women from those two lodges.

In ten minutes of reading I found a rental that felt perfect. It’s actually two one bedroom cottages rented as a unit, joined by a deck overlooking the ocean in the middle of a 12 acre parcel surrounded by a 700 acre cattle ranch in the magnificent rolling hills of West Marin county. It’s down a gravel road, through a locked gate a few miles from the town. The owners live somewhere out of view on the 12 acres and are available if needed. There’s a private quarter mile long dirt road down to a semi-private beach, the sort with huge offshore rocks and long stretches of sandy coves. Heaven. Since it was free for the week, Friday to Friday around the Thursday interview date, I signed up for it. Completely shocked my self!

As near as I can figure (time collapses so), it’s been over ten years since I’ve traveled anywhere except to visit blood or chosen family or for continuing education conferences. I rarely think of “taking a vacation” that involves going anywhere. Partly that’s because, for the most part (since I work only two days every other week), my life IS a vacation. And, partly, it’s also that I live in paradise, a place that is itself a vacation-destination. Then, there’s the reality that my simple-seeming life becomes not so simple when I think of taking it on the road: Vitamins, herbs, espresso-maker, stick mixer for my morning protein drink, art materials, mask-making paraphernalia, books, altar stuff, food from my garden, all the special foods I like to have around, etc. And, too, there’s the issue of being away from my precious cottage, garden and kitties and the daily meanderings involved in their care: all the meditative activities that ground me. 

Nevertheless, here I am preparing for ten days (an extra day at each end of the week to do the long drives in two days) away from my sacred nest. I remember that during the years I’d travel for the circle gatherings four times a years, there was something special and powerful about leaving my ordinary reality/life for a time and then coming back into it with changed eyes/awareness. Each journey away was like setting off on a vision quest: separating in a conscious, ceremonious way from all that my life had been up to that moment. The time away would be for opening to whatever vision/magic/newness couldn’t make itself known/felt in the context of my ordinary, day-to-day life. The returning home/reincorporating would involve weaving that vision/newness into my ongoing life.

It seems a fitting time to do this sort-of vision quest: I’ve birthed the book out into the world; sent or handed out some 300 giveaway/promotional/review and consignment copies; given over the design of the journaling book and future marketing/social media processing to my amazing-collaborator-in-charge-of-everything and, belatedly, completed all of what I couldn’t do as I usually would have at year’s end because of all the book related activities. On a deeper level, with birthing the book, I’ve completed my assignment from Spirit/the Grandmothers and come to the end of what I’ve known I was to do with my life. Perhaps this time-out-of-time will allow me some glimpse of what’s to come next in my journeying. And, maybe there’s nothing to see – just continuing my delicious slow lane life may be all of what’s ahead. That would be absolutely fine with me. Still, I’m curious about whether the Grandmothers had something in mind when they spurred this unusual-for-me plan.

My godson-by-choice, his wife and two young daughters are planning to come up from San Francisco to join me (staying in the second one bedroom unit) for Friday evening thro early Sunday so that we can have a long postponed, seemingly impossible to schedule, visit. After that, I’ll have the week to my self and whatever wants to unfold (if anything does). I’m planning to spend part of one day at Osmosis Enzyme Baths/ Day Spa Sanctuary (about 15 minutes up the road) in sybaritic splendor first buried in cedar shavings mixed with enzymes (they heat up so it’s like being buried in a clean compost pile inside what might otherwise be a hot tub) and then having a deep tissue massage in one of their tea garden pagodas – something I always did when up in the area. A delicious treat.

Quite surprisingly, I woke one morning last week feeling really scared about the trip. The prospect of being in this cottage by the ocean without my daily things-to-do or my four legged companions that ground and center me suddenly seemed like it could feel like being in free fall. I held and comforted my scared self reminding her that we would be together in this; that we could, if we needed to, figure out things to do to feel safer, less scared.  And, I reminded her of what we’d discovered two years ago when we broke our arm and again last summer when we cracked our trochanter: we could feel grounded and centered even when we weren’t able to do any of the things we ordinarily do. I reminded her of all the friends we have in the bay area that we could call and visit or invite to the cottage if it turned out we didn’t like being there alone. It took a few hours to feel my way through the scared feelings and to trust that there would be things we could do for our self if those feelings surfaced again when we were in Bodega Bay.

Ever since that hard day, I’ve been leisurely meandering through the process of making and remaking lists of (and preparing) the things for taking along. Giving my self full permission to be totally excessive about taking any and all of the things I might or might not turn out to want to have along with me – something that, in the old days, would have stirred the Hatchet Lady into diatribes about my “ridiculousness.” In the end, I might just walk to and on the beach, soak in the hot tub on the deck there, read and nap, do my exercises and never touch any of the stuff I’m taking. And, miraculously, that’s okay with all the mes of me. I still want to have all the options possible and there’s the whole interior of the car I can fill as full as I want. Life is so much gentler without the Hatchet Lady.

As I’ve been preparing for this longer than usual trip, I realized that if Auntie Evelyn (my dear cat and house sitter) had to hand water the patio as I’ve been doing for getting onto a year now, she wouldn’t have much time, during some of her twice daily visits, to hang out with the kitties. I wasn’t sure I could do anything about it. The drip system I’d put in when I first moved here (as I’ve done by my self everywhere I’ve lived in Ojai) stopped working properly quite a while ago. The lines for watering the edge of the meadow plantings worked fine but it was strangely over or under watering both the pots on the patio and the hanging pots. For months, I’ve been stepping over the menacing snarls of spaghetti tubing that run from the irrigation hoses into the various pots, despairing of ever having the energy to redo the whole layout. I tried to get someone in to do it for me but all he did was make suggestions for what I might do my self, sigh!

It’s all has felt too overwhelming to undertake even as, each time I’d be down at the nursery, I’d been buying and stashing coils of hose, tubing and the sorts of sprinklers and sprayers he suggested. Rather than seeing this as procrastinating (as the Hatchet Lady would have called it in the old days), I’ve known that it just wasn’t time to do it and that some day it simply would be. Then, one morning two weeks ago, after breakfast I – surprisingly – found my self taking up all the old hoses and spaghettis, gently pulling the spaghettis and their connectors out of the hoses and sorting them into piles for possible recycling when I put the new hoses down.

A few days later, I began re-laying hose and spaghetti lines in new, less dangerously snarling lengths. Working slowly, methodically and with many breaks through the blaring heat of the two days I was at it, I was thoroughly delighted every step of the way. For hours each day I’d be totally absorbed, congratulating my self for being able to recycle all the spaghetti tubing and elated at having figured out (after so many years of struggling) a wrist-saving method for connecting the hose lines that needed joining. Simultaneously dipping hose end and hard plastic connector into a kettle of boiling water softens the hose and expands the small open ends of the plastic connectors – voila, the hose glides easily into the connector. I felt so brilliant!

It’s taken a couple three times of running water through the new irrigation lines to fine tune which sprayers needed to be in which pots to get them sufficiently wet without flooding but, now it all works quite well again. I’ve celebrated my self for not pushing me into this project until the moment came and swept me into it. It was a joyful experience, neither burdensome nor the least bit overwhelming as it would surely have been if I’d forced my self to handle it before the time (and I) was ripe for it. Over and over again, I learn to trust that I never need to push me, that things will always get done/I will come to do them when the timing is right. (And, most likely get done with pleasure and absorption.)

With this project finished as well as the monthly garden fertilizing and three-litter-box changing handled, I’ve completed all I need to complete to allow me to seamlessly separate from my ordinary life next week and embark on this maybe-vision-quest on the way to my interview with Justine and New Dimensions Radio.

The other news of this month was yesterday’s by-phone/on the air interview with Jeff Farannini of www.planetary-spirit.com – my first media interview since leaving New York 40 years ago! I’d no idea of where the interview might go, so no preparation was needed. Jeff wrote that he let Spirit guide his questioning and that he, too, would have no idea where we’d go. That seemed just right to me.
As I made my way through my usual morning chores and added lighting altar candles, sage smudging the house and me and asking the Grandmothers to be with Jeff and me through this adventure, I had a brief moment of anticipatory anxiousness. Mostly it seemed about whether I’d have enough time to do all I wanted to do before we started but also, a little of it was about the interview itself. I stopped what I was doing, breathed more slowly and deeply, reminded my little anxious self that there’d be enough time (even though she worried there might not be) and that all we needed to do during the interview was to be our very own ordinary self, that I’d be with her the whole time. The anxiousness evaporated.

Though I wasn’t at all sure what to expect in this interview with a man I didn’t know at all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. He was a great interviewer, raised some juicy questions and chose to quote some very meaningful passages from the book.  The one he chose to close the program brought tears to my eyes (it was from the Feeling Stuck essay). 

Turns out I originally listed (in the Mid-May Journal/Blog) an incorrect URL for the June 11th broadcast. Then, in the subsequent email (to correct that error) sent to everyone who gets a preview copy of the monthly columns, I proceeded to reverse the east coast and pacific times, sigh! Well, now you can listen to a recording of the interview below (on the forthelittleones website) or an excerpt of it (on the compassionateink website).