Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dear Morning,

You come too dark these days. Without my glasses you look like night. The baby bridges Sam and I, kicks me in the shoulder and I crawl into the bottom bunk, fall into a restless, dreamless sleep. There is too much for me these days with the cleaning and washing and wiping the bums. And then the other parts of the night where I hear about the body, and drinking and muscles, and I glaze over and wonder if I am meant to learn this way. My eyes dried and lazy, turn out from the center, searching for wisdom in all directions but directly in front. I am afraid of the night still, even as the years have ticked by without insomnia. I stuff it into my pillowcase with a crystal and a prayer, and hope to wake.

I have a water fountain in my office now. My husband and children made it for me for Christmas, and when I sit and wait for quiet and direction, the water sounds frantic, falling and lifting over small river stones, one with Lev's name written on it, a shell from Australian and a piece of glass blown as a touchstone for the beauty and darkness in me. The water, urgent and demanding, makes my heart race like I'm late for something. And yet I don't know what I'm late for, just that the writing is too slow and the quiet is not quiet enough. The water is rushing me. Calm down, water.

I lost something this past year. I lost something of grief, though it is not grief. Grief hangs all over my house, not oppressive, but the thing that touches grace and compassion and reminds us of hell. I listened to a woman speak of her miscarriage. It was graphic and heartbreaking and happened twenty plus years ago. She had never spoken of it, and the room quieted. And I looked down at my hands, unsure of how to explain the grace we are privileged to witness. My last baby died not even a year ago. Morning, you kept coming. Summer upon me, warming the deck, dancing on my face as I sipped full caffeinated coffee. The moss, cool underfoot, held my stance about you. Morning helped now, because mourning before helped.

My daughter draws her sister and brother as though they live. She makes equations as she learns math. Mommy + Daddy = Lucy + Michael + Jack + Beatrice + Thomas. And I wonder who these first two children are. The two that are dead. Who are those people to her? Who are they to me? They came like dew, evaporating before we knew the wet.

Morning, you are still my favorite time of day, even though you come too early and dark. I stretch through the fog and cold and smell you. Your dank something that reminds me of cappuccinos and waking in a cold piazza, too drunk and flu-ish to find my way inside an Italian hostel. I wrapped in a pinstriped sports jacket three sizes too big with an Italian scarf that smelled like smoke and booze. I drank cheap red wine out of an evian bottle, and passed out somewhere. I am lucky, Morning, that you hid me in your corners. I am lucky that you wafted the aroma of due cappucci in my direction, beckoned me to sober up despite myself. I have no drunken nights now. I wake without pounding head and dried lips and cotton through my mouth. I wake with potential and no regret. I wake knowing who I am and where I am and what I am doing today.

I remember this piece of dialogue from Alice in Wonderland and it reminds me of you.

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
I don't much care where.
Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
...So long as I get somewhere.
Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough. 

I've walked through plenty of mornings, you know better than anyone. Thirty-nine years of mornings. I've never been sure of which way I am going, (and this is the where the faith takes root) I just know that I am getting somewhere.


Friday, January 25, 2013

deep listening

Deep listening. 
Uncluttered presence. 

I stare at my vision board. I understand little in the way of peace, except that I am peaceful. And besides my aches are all mine, my medicine would never work for anyone else. If I have a goal right now, it is just to sit and listen without wondering how I might explain it later. To listen without creating a poem about it, or a painting, or a blog post. To just listen.

I make a medicine bundle for dreams and body acceptance, and wrap it with sari silk and a black feather. If tuck it into a pocket or my purse, wonder if my medicine is enough. I keep it close to my heart at any rate, just to know I sat and tried to heal myself. I love myself enough to do that. We await the Wolf Moon. Our souls howling for courage and movement, but it is a stillness we need. I hold a hunk of orange calcite, and wonder about courage. It's not my favorite stone. It looks waxy and like something someone might keep in a dish on a bathroom counter. But it works to build my legs into trunks of oak, unmoving and sure of themselves. There is a sense of fear now. Fear of things that seem most benign, and courage in the things that seem most scary. I am turned around and around and around again. A new perspective of a new perspective. The reversed Hanged Man. 

On our birthday, my sister and I had readings. In the past, ten of swords. "I feel this has been a cycle for the last two years. You are very hard on yourself. Brutally honest, and exacting. You are punishing yourself. Taking inventory. Reaching out to find out what you did to people. You are not letting yourself get away with anything."

That is true. I have done that the last two years, since I quit drinking. I had to, they said, or I would drink again. 

She says there is some of that still to come, but less and less, and I come into my time to rule. I am the Emperor, and it is a good place to be. In the future, she sees the reversed Hanged Man, a change of perspective from a change of perspective. I know what she is saying. I love how the Hanged Man has a halo and seems so relaxed, even though his name implies he's condemned. We are all condemned, but can we still achieve that enlightenment? It reminds me of Camus. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

There is a weak snow covering the yard. Beezus made a snow angel in the middle of it all. It is like the Nazca plains, only visible from inside the house on the second floor. We hear the snow is coming this afternoon, and plan on creating Valentines, and crayons. We need a day of downtime and restoration. Just the three of us, waiting for Papa to come home. The fire roars and barely fights off the cold, maintaining a refreshing 63 degrees in the house. I don't mind. We snuggle and tell stories, and wear large sweaters.

I have to study. I sit and listen to a teacher again, and remember this dance of notebook and pen and young women texting and discussing texts. Learning and wondering about what next year will look like. I feel old. Too old to sit still for four hour lectures. And yet there is an excitement in me. Everything is new. And I am afraid of being too old and fat to learn. And still I just want to listen. For the snow. For the howling. For courage. For presence. Sometimes I may seem far, but I am only quiet.

Monday, January 14, 2013

lucia paz

I put her name into the search bar in Etsy, in Pinterest, in Google.


And pictures of a girl with long blonde braids, candles crowning her head, standing in the snowy night. Islands, and saints. Eyes on platters and virgins defiled. I get more specific.

Lucia Paz.

There are 13,200,000 results. People all over the world named the same as my dead daughter. She has two twitter accounts, a sex tape, and a Facebook. She's even on My Space. I click You Tube, and suddenly, I float in space. Mesmerized. Awe-stricken. This beautiful, otherworldly dance for a grieving mother. I, Orpheus, watch her floating in something I cannot describe, but I think it the inside of me. I gape at her beauty, her grace, the way this Lucia Paz captures something of my Lucia Paz. It is crazy, yes, but still, I cannot stop watching, tearing up, pushing my jaw closed. I don't know what I expected to find of my daughter on the internet, a website thanking me for searching for her, perhaps, another one reminding me that she is dead, but I found Lucia Paz, the beautiful Argentinian artist, on a Monday's mourning, and she opened something long closed in me.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Archangel Azrael, the angel of grief . Watercolor, 4"x6", 2012.

When Lindsay over at Murmur of Wings asked me to answer a few questions about my art, my heart center just opened up, swallowed the time and length it took. Grief and art and my spiritual journey...wow. Apparently, I am very wordy about it. But I am passionate about the ways in which grief opened me up to release self-doubt and just go for art, and I want to inspire other grieving people (not just babylost, but anyone suffering from grief of any kind) to allow grief to be that starting point of compassion, and release, and connection. So, go on over to Murmur of Wings, and read my interview. If you leave a comment, you can win a mizuko jizo altar painting. And if you are really interested in amazing jewelry, check out her Etsy shop the Gypsy Rebel. Personally, I wear a piece of Lindsay's jewelry every day of my life. I actually created a few with her which are absolutely amazing. Anyway, all in all, she's an amazing person to connect to, and leave a comment to introduce yourself, and win some art. YAY!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


My hair twists in the night, wraps itself in curls that look like dread locks. I wake looking at this long hair beast of a woman--black streaked with grey, the wild unfocused eyes of the myopic, and a thirst for coffee that barks at those in the way.

I comb my hair into submission, spray some tamer on it, and sing it lullabies. Then I plait it and curl it around my head. Three years ago, I cut my hair less than an inch long, and now it is a foot and a half long. It covers me, gets into everything. Bathwater, and pillowcases. I find long black hairs on my children's tummies. As I pull them off, they giggle. My daughter stepped on a hair yesterday that went into her foot like a splinter, and I pulled it out with tweezers.

Even still, I am never cutting it again. I'll weave it into clothes around me and hide in the woods with my daughter. We will play rhythms on animal skins and collect herbs and wildflowers and sing the tales of our hairy people. We will raise a fox pup to be in our pack, and write poems to the ravens and wind. The boys will visit us with their long beards, and axes. There will be village tales of feral women with hair clothes cooking large pots of stews, which may or may not contain children, who play shaman drums to call you close, then feed you herbs and roots which make you see freedom. We are free, the four of us, and you too.


We search for feathers in the wild. And by wild, of course, I mean that we walked on a paved path near a tidal lake a block from our home. The geese think this is south now, what with global warming and the welcoming lakes that rarely freeze over anymore. They honk and call to each other.

"I speak geese."
"You do?" I look at my daughter, dried flowers poking out from behind her ear. She looks like a winter goddess, cheeks tinted a fierce pink and her nose glistening with cold wetness.
"HONK!" She leans toward the geese, who turn to her. She looked just as surprised as me.
"What did you just say to them?"
"I don't underSTAND geese, I just speak it."

I sometimes feel the same way about humans. I don't underSTAND them. I just speak their language. We find feathers by the lake's edge. They are white and Beatrice claims they are from angels. I tell her she may be right, even though she just had a conversation with a white goose. We hang the feather in a nature board with leaves, dried flowers, Palm Sunday crosses, and even an evil eye protector. All of it reminds us of the life we could be living in the wood, hair to our feet, tying feathers in our hair, and herbs for our stew, and warding off domestication.

Winter suits me. The cold. The crunchy grass, the geese, the hibernating animals right below my feet, the large socks I use only for sleep. My husband's chunky, sexy, unkempt beard. The baby, who I can hardly call a baby now, is at that age where he wants nothing to do with me, but doesn't want me to leave the room. His mood reminds me of January. And I whisper, "My love for you will not change no matter what you think, say, or do." I mean that for all of them, particularly January. I wear crystals to protect me from winter's cold and the work I do in hibernation. They hide under my sweaters. My engagement ring and wedding band had been boxed and put in our safe since before Beatrice was born. They always fit wonky, maybe a little tight. But weight and edema and then weight and edema again forced them to be hidden symbols. A few weeks ago, we went to a jeweler, and he is remaking them for me. Thinner, more delicate, but stronger. It is a way of being I'm trying to embrace.

Everything is going to change for me in a few weeks. Winter changes always stick for me. I wrap myself in winter, blanketed in crisp grey skies and remember the drinking years. Winter was warm then, or rather I was numb. Now, every snowflake and wispy breeze breaks through my woolen cap. I freeze and shiver, and hurt, sometimes, but I am grateful to be alive and feel pain. Tomorrow, I am sober two years, and in a few months, home with the kids for five years, and just perfectly suited for everything changing.

Monday, January 7, 2013

endings and beginnings

"That juicer is your enemy. It has been working against you for years. Throw it out."

I imagine a grapefruit, run through, its tart sweetness stinging the back of my throat and then like warmth, it spreads through me. I see my children pushing kale and lemons and apples through and giggling and licking their fingers. Frozen berries run through to make non-sugared sorbet and nut butters and she interrupts me to tell me that there is no fiber there. Nothing but a sugar high, then the eventual crash.

I want to explain that I do not simply love juicing, rather I am in love with my Omega juicer, the sleek chrome body, the sexy low hum of its motor, the fresh smooth energy oozing out of the mouth, like sex and health. I drink her down, and feel sexy and strong and able. I let go of my idea of what is healthy and let her show me packages of almond cheese and what sodium looks like in salt form. She tells me to buy egg whites and eat lean meat and turkey burgers. My grandmother ate turkey burgers with a big slice of vidalia onion for lunch, and weighed everything on a little white plastic scale. The dietitian tells me not write down calories, but I cannot help myself. I need to know.  If I write all the rest of it down, I want to know if I am taking out more than I am putting in. I'm ready to shed this belly, the love handles, the pouch of flesh that protects my solar plexus and sacral chakras. Sometimes that pouch feels more metaphysical than physical, so I keep trying to release whatever it is that is blocking my old flat belly from emerging from this fat cocoon, and then watch what I'm eating.

I've become one of those high maintenance eaters whom I once mocked in my years at natural food stores. No wheat, no soy, no dairy, no sugar. No. No. No. I just want to slink away when people ask me what to bring to my house, or what I can eat. I really want no attention. This high maintenance shit doesn't endear one to people. It's sounds impossibly fussy. I hate that I have become a person with such limiting dietary restrictions, not because I particularly mind eating no wheat, soy, dairy or sugar, but because it is contrary to who I thought I was--laid back and easy going. I roll with the gluten-rich foods, and eat with bravado and lust and the beautiful gratitude that comes with moaning and talking through bites about deliciousness and richness and I shouldn't, but okay one more.

I turned thirty-nine on Friday. Like I said, this year and this age feels meaty. Steak-like with a big t-bone that I can suck the marrow out of, even though I cannot eat marrow anymore. I remember my mother being thirty-nine. From fifteen and defiant, thirty-nine looked liberating. My mother said to me when she was thirty-nine, "I just don't feel like being the mother anymore." And I whispered, "I don't feel like being the kid."

Her thirty-nineth year involved the second year of separation from my father, her career working in AIDS social work filling her life up, going out to gay clubs and learning to play chess. She put a basket of condoms in the middle of our coffee table so that we were always protected, even though we weren't having sex. But our friends came and took them, and that was some kind of comfort for her. And when the shit was getting hard for us, she sent us to a woman who channeled Edgar Cayce. The channels voice grew deep and gnarled, and she told our little group of hippie teenagers that the Pacific Ocean would swallow California, taking her into her mother sea belly, the crystals casting strange ripples on her surface and the Atlantic Ocean would devour Florida, belching disco balls and thong bikinis. Back then, I wondered about these hungry seas swallowing states and how this was helping me with my "parent" problem.

I unintentionally keep doing these intention setting rituals. Well, the first was intentional. I bought a workbook, and filled it out. The release ceremony on Lucia's birthday began this search for the energy I'm bringing it, and I visioned and journeying and wrote down ideas. Then I went to a lady party a few weekends ago. She asked us about our intentions, and burned our releases. I solidified more of what I was releasing, and more of what I wanted to bring in. Then yesterday, I did a Sankalpa Retreat. It was my birthday present to myself, and yet, I had no real idea why I signed up.

Yesterday morning, I sat in meditation, and choose some oracle cards, and Kali came to me. "Endings and Beginnings." It read. "The old must be released, so the new can come in." The entire day was yoga and movement and visioning and meditation. In fact, the whole day, we were supposed to remain in a mindful, almost half meditative state, never quite coming out of meditation. I had already visioned, already released. But in a real live circle of women, we yogaed and danced in the infinity symbol. We drew our intentions with crayons on a pearly piece of paper. I kept seeing angels, a sacred heart and Mother Teresa, and prayer. Deep, profound prayer, a turning over of will. I saw healing work being done through me,and healing myself. I heard, "Love yourself as you love your children. Unconditionally without expectation, without need. Just mother you." Something shifted in me. I wrote what I wanted to release on a piece of paper:

Any resentments holding me back from doing the highest good.

And I let that be there alone on the sheet for a few moments. I watched it. I released specific resentments on the 22nd of December. I released things that now feel gone. It was a powerful ceremony. I didn't release enough, so I went on, and every nook and cranny of that small slip of paper was filled with stuff to release:



I knelt before the fire, and asked to have these things gone from me. I watched it burn, and I felt a lightness of being. Then we danced, just danced. And I am so self-conscious about my body, but I bounced and brought my hands over my head, and wiped away the tears of joy before anyone could see. It felt so good to just be strange and unself-conscious in a room full of people. I kept swatting that ridiculous voice down that said, "Your belly is too fat for you to have this much fun."

And in the end, there were three rituals in all, like the three knots in a witch's spell, even though I'm not a witch and this is not a spell. I thought about tying those knots in the universe, setting my intentions for thirty-nine, letting go of my attachment to juicing and my ideas of what health is, and my attachment to what thirty-nine is, and my attachment to attachments.

By the knot of one, the spells begun!
By the knot of two, it cometh true!
By the knot of three, so mote it be!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

new year

Misshapen pottery filled with smudge sticks filled with mugwort for dreams and shamanic journeying, and cedar for prayers and sage for cleansing and palo santo for stinking up the place. There is a turkey feather in it, and my friend calls it Southern Eagle. My husband and I make a board with pictures and words and a check we wrote to ourselves for the amount we want to save with a photo-shopped print-out of our credit card balances at $0.00. I made a magical wand this year our of rosewood and kunzite and crystal points. I wrapped sari silks with blessings around the wood, then tied knots. I held the prayers tightly over my chest, then blew like a whale, sending it off for crow to take for answering.

There was spittle mixed in there, and a little man whose boat I must have swallowed.

The palpability of this new year makes me want to bite a calendar, suck on its pulp, juice the awesomeness out of it. And I want it all now. I see a year of magic, healing, learning, release, visioning, goals set and goals accomplished. It feels different, already. I feel different. I bid 2012 farewell with a prayer for healing. On Winter Solstice I burnt all the things I wanted to release now--anything not serving my highest good, and then the specifics that screamed, "BURN ME IN A FIRE! LET ME GO!" I believe in the power or ritual and prayer and intentions and magical thinking.

2012 was about all the shit falling around me and me not losing my shit. I didn't drink or take hostages--emotional or otherwise. I joined circles, more than one, of women, and those women help me soar and love and be better. I checked my Android at the dinner table and cussed at drivers who don't use their turn signals. I judged things and people and gossiped more than I'd care to admit. My emails were still too long and wordy and I cannot stop run-on sentencing. This year, I aim for five sentence emails.


January 1, 2013, 10:30am. We go for a walk in the woods. The trees thin in January, like everyone except me. Their bones stick out in all directions, and I catch my sweater and knit hats on them. The thin ones are restless and irritable and eat nothing but cabinet crumbs. But not me. I eat small ships and calendars and new years for breakfast. Burp up harvested retreat days and fires and tarot cards left out for further meditation and explanation. Death. The Tower. And Five of Cups. Right in a row. It is the new year reading that shocks me again-- some change, transformation, catastrophe and grief for 2013. Metaphorically, I hope.

I thought about it as we walked through the sparse wood near our home. The houses hide behind the green and the lake in the summer. Now the trees look cadaverous, the cheap plastic toys in primary colors behind their meager branches like the gunshot that took them out, the stain on the rural identity they were cultivating on the internet. There is nothing to gather for supper but dried up gas grills and Christmas lights. The trees empty and solitary and sadly suburban. Spray paint arrows pointing to HELL and the smashed beer bottles I beg my children to watch themselves near. I kick a baggie that must have held some weed. There is an urban duck, head bare, like a vulture, honking and skittish around the dog. He flew too near the sun, he eats the carrion emptiness of the Starved Forest of the Strip Mallsley Land. 

It is New Year's Day, and the illusion is gone. We need to get out of here. This place was beautiful five months ago, and we pretended it made up for all the other suburban bullshit we deal with, like traffic and high taxes. This place is the illusion of woods and solitude. I want no part of the lies anymore. My daughter finds a lean-to and asks me who lives there.

Homeless people and gnomes and a raccoon with rabies.

I look up into the sky. It is gray. I beg it to rain. On me. Purgation and blessings and baptism. And let all this attachment to space run off of me, or I will have to burn it in a fire next December.


On our visioning board we cut out a huge headline that says, WHERE TO LIVE NOW, and another that begs for the "Freedom to Roam." Besides the hefty check I keep worrying will be stolen out of our home, there are pictures of mountains, of soil, Buddhas, rivers and hiking trails. There are words and phrases like nourishment and healing, {uncluttered}, gathering, creativity, find your balance, wisdom, peace, awe, mindfulness, loving speech and deep listening. In my 2013 INCREDIBLE YEAR! workbook, I write a list of 100 things I'd like to do this year. They are super-positive! Happy! Really awesome! BUBBLES! UNICORNS!

21. Climb a mountain!
28. Be SUPER frugal!
33. Eat super healthy (AND LOVE IT!)

They get less enthusiastic.

61. Dance to Hare Krishna music after dinner, instead of watch Real Housewives of Anywhere and eat icing off of cupcakes.
67. Ask less advice.
75. Make a backyard sweat lodge so I can be alone.
80. Cry when I need to, instead of stuffing it.

Hold onto what is good, even it is a handful of earth. I read it off my visioning board and I nod.

"You are right, wise Pueblo proverb. That is why I put you on there, to inspire me to be better." Yeah. I used to be a cynical bitch, jaded even. It creeps out here and there. It's all so hokey. Magical thinking and work books for my goals and visioning boards, but I need hokey right now. I need simple. I need to declutter. I've decided I'm checking email once a day, not carrying my cell from room to room. I'm not going on Facebook fifteen thousand times a day to read posts in my forums. I want to live in awe of spirit and nature and then figure out where to live now, and what to do now and how to do it now.

And maybe I will be here more because of it, or maybe less. What is your new year all about? Do you have goals, aspirations? Are you hopeful? Or not so much? Tell me about your process. Or just say hi.