Lost and Found

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Forgive me readers, for I have sinned, it’s been six long months since my last post. Six months! The word ‘sin’ for me doesn’t adhere to the heavy-handed Christian interpretation. Rather I hold onto the Hebrew or Aramaic etymology, wherein I missed the mark, or was forgetting my Self. And so I was…somewhat.

Although my fingers slowed to a crawl, I didn’t stop writing. I’ve been pecking and poking away at my long-form project, in a steady, sloth sort of way. That is to say, when I have been writing, my thoughts line up as though coated in molasses. I seem to have sticky residue gumming up the pages in my brain.

Sometimes an impending earthquake can rumble through your life long before the earth moves beneath your feet. It causes all sorts of unexpected and unplanned mayhem; furniture gets tossed about, books tumble from the shelves and dishes fly out of the cupboards. Sometimes, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, it picks you up and drops you down in a completely different and unexpected place. The force of nature moving within you.

It was an article in the New Yorker about “the really big one” due to hit the West Coast that got guts churning. It was the report from the structural engineer that got my feet moving. It turns out that the cement foundation poured in 1938 is slowly turning to dust and ruin and no amount of expensive remediation will make her sound. Not to mention what might happen if the bedrock my cottage sits on begins to shake, rattle and roll. Suddenly I’m faced with a complete tear-down and rebuild….or move again.

In January, my spiritual teacher asked, “What image, word or phrase will you carry  through this year?”

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Immediately the image of a big, beautiful tree with wide-spreading branches and deep, long-reaching roots came to mind. No longer do I need a house to put down roots. I am the tree. The roots are deep within me. Wherever I go, here I am. Home.

And so, almost settled into another, smaller-again-by-half house, I am writing once more. The words are flying around inside my head like caged birds looking for an open door. I am oiling the hinges…

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Hidden Treasures

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Where has the summer gone? I’m finding it difficult to stay present in the stillness of today when my tomorrows are lined up like soldiers marching into battle. I long to return to my ten-year old self when the summer days stretched endlessly in front of me. Time is elastic and perceptions shift.

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I have a house at the lake where my family gathers. This year my Colorado sister and her family camped their way here pulling a trailer, which they nestled neatly under the trees once they arrived. Once again I have my sisters beside me, if only for a long weekend.

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My younger sister, my older sister and me…and Lani the dog

On Saturday we three sisters drove along the narrow, winding country road into town for supplies for the weekend, stopping at every garage sale sign along the way. Who can resist a garage sale? You never know what you might need.

IMG_3382We stopped and poked about and did a lot of visiting. We found a few books at the first garage sale, bought an almost new rice cooker for $5 at the next one and found hidden treasure at the last stop.

When we five ‘kids’ first began gathering our families together each summer, we rented tiny rustic cabins on the Shuswap Lake close to the small town where we grew up. My mom would drive out to spend the day and my dad and step-mom stayed at a B&B close by. It was a great, big, messy, wonderful memory-making time.

I can still clearly see Dad sitting in a chair under the trees eating a mango and watching the grandkids play. I’m sitting beside him and as I reach for my own piece of mango he says, “There is no greater joy on earth than watching all you kids visit and laugh together.”

I smile back over at him, happy that he’s happy.

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Now I know what he meant. I watch my own adult four children as they talk and laugh together. My heart grows bigger than life itself as I watch their relationships grow into deep friendships. I have an experiential knowing of what my dad was teaching me fifteen years ago.

The last garage sale my sisters and I visit is at the top of the driveway. Long tables are set up end to end, their surfaces covered with a sundry and assorted bric a brac. Boxes filled with books and larger items cover the floor, leaving narrow aisles for walking and browsing. One sister kneels at the books and a second sister heads directly to the back. Im wandering through the middle, idly picking up one thing and then another when I spot the hidden treasure.

My heart does that expanding thing as I pick it up and a frisson of recognition flows through me, leaving me tingling. I’m holding a simple pottery spoon rest decorated with my dad’s signature glaze. I don’t need to turn it over to see his stamp to know that my dad’s hands made this.

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Of course we have to buy this! To find a piece of his pottery at a garage sale along a remote lakeshore road almost 900 km from where it was made is mystically magical. Serendipity.

The seller smiles and hands me back my money with the spoon rest, “It belongs to you.”

My dad’s spirit sits and rejoices beside me at the lake. It’s the next best thing to sharing a mango with him.

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Falling Into Books

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Sometimes when I’m reading a book, I have to lay it down because a certain sentence or a phrase has just passed through my body and forever altered me. It takes a few minutes or a few hours to adjust to the frisson of energy carried by those words.

I have to stop and breathe those words deep into my body. The soft caress that comes with a phrasing so beautifully gentle it’s as if they are growing down from the heavens and up from the earth at the same time. The first green shoots of the daffodil in January, the crocus in February (here in Vancouver anyway). Strong and resilient, yet tender and vulnerable.

Sometimes they are the sudden crashing of a heavy spruce into the ground. My body shudders with the strength and fury of the sentences driving deep into my being.

They are words that meet and grow in my heart.

Oh, how I want to write like this!” I think, as I lay the book across my heart, hoping to infuse myself with the talent through some kind of magical osmosis.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer. And then I wanted to be a dancer on the Carol Burnett Show. And when I was introduced to the world of plays I added Actor to that list. To me they are all interconnected threads of creativity, cut one away and my entire world begins to unravel.

I feel so at home surrounded by words. Surrounded by the world of storytelling. I grew up the daughter of a broadcaster, playing among sets at the TV studio, appearing in TV shows, specials and commercials. By the time I was six years old I was winning public speaking contests, too young to even know to be nervous. It was as natural to me as breathing.

I wrapped my imagination around me like my own favourite blanket. I still do. Whenever I am feeling lost or alone, I reach for a book and immediately ground myself in the wonders of the world within.  Reading and writing (and acting) are as integral to my spiritual practice as is meditation and prayer.

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Queen of Sunset By The Sea

1J6A6795I’m soaking in bath oil and Epsom salt and listening to the song my house sings. The way the rain sounds on the roof, the three clicks the furnace makes before it lurches into life, the way it somehow, sometimes, strangely sounds exactly like a garage door opening beneath me. These sounds wrap themselves around me like a well-worn quilt, comforting me with their deep familiarity.

I’m moving in two weeks. To my new-to-me little 1938 cottage above the sea. The one that is half the size of my current home and twice as old. The one that I’ve just spent almost $10,000 to replace old clay pipes. Pipes that were so past the time of replacement, so root-bound, clogged and crumbling that raw sewage backed up into the downstairs tub. Did I mention how gross it was? How unsanitary and unhealthy? How incredibly yucky?

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Yuck

Tree roots love water and sewage

Tree roots love water and sewage

This impending move has already offered me so many gifts of growth. Opportunities to shed the last vestiges of my Damsel in Distress and to realize more and more of my own power. What used to rock me off my feet no longer even causes me to wobble. I am standing strong as the compassionate and benevolent Queen, boundaries firmly set.

In many ways I’ve been preparing for this transition my entire life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have shivers of trepidation at times. Remember the backed up sewer? I’m about to spend another three thousand dollars, this time correcting electrical deficiencies. Two sudden, large expenses and I can’t help wondering how many more loom in front of me.

I’ve grown solid in my Queendom, my cloak of empowerment is ever-present and rather than feeling anxious and upset at each unexpected discovery, I simply took the steps needed to move forward. Called the plumber. Talked to the previous homeowner. Fixed the problem.

I listen to the music this house makes as I walk through the empty cottage, measuring and taping where my furniture might fit. The creaks in the floorboards with each step I take, the sound of the passing car through the single-pane windows, the rain tap dancing on the bedroom skylight. Soon these unfamiliar sounds will soothe me into a new-felt safety. I’m coming home to my Self.

My new view!

My new view!

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The Summer I Turned Fifteen….part one

The summer I turned fifteen was the summer when Darla and I were best friends. She went to Shuswap Junior High and I went to J L Jackson, back when there were two Junior High schools in town and long before they tore down Jackson to make way for an empty lot. Gone, now, is the original first High School in town.

I remember the wide wooden stairs with the thick, curved balustrades that went from the first floor to the second floor, the basement lockers along the dark, dungeon-like hallway, the second story double-hung windows along the front of the school that opened wide to let the air flow in and let the students hang out. We were just beginning to use seat-belts in cars so no one much thought about how someone might jump out of a second story school window, even when that window was really three stories high.

The summer I turned fifteen I had my first real full-time job working as a car-hop at the A&W Drive-In just outside of town along the two lane Trans-Canada highway. I couldn’t work for Parks and Rec like all of my other friends because they’d just introduced a new rule that limited the hiring of siblings to two, and my older brother and sister were already lifeguards at Fletcher pool. I think someone got tired of the monopoly the Johnson, Davidson and the Taylor families had on the local lifeguarding and swimming teacher jobs and decided it was time to do something before we took over the world. Either that or they saw me coming. I took it personally.

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Magical Mystical Mystery

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I love travelling and exploring new places.  Some voyages are planned months in advance, like my pilgrimages to Brazil and others are spontaneous trips to take part in workshops or to study with my teachers in New York and Los Angeles. The last couple of years all of my travel has been centred around my work and my spiritual journey, which are very much intertwined, so my exploration of new places has been inward focussed.

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My first pilgrimage to Brazil, which began in the Amazon, opened me in a completely unexpected way. Any and all fears I had softened and melted away the minute I woke up in the warm humidity and dipped my toes in the river.

My world has expanded far beyond the borders of Greater Vancouver. I have such close friends and community in so many different places now, people and places I love to visit. My heart and world have grown and I think this has helped me to let go of this house I live in and the land that I love so much.

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Part of me longs to put down deep roots in one spot, but a much larger part of me wants to experience as much diversity in this life that I can, knowing that by opening my world and dissolving my borders and boundaries, I am burrowing my roots deep, deep into the soil of my own spirit.

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I’m excited about the days ahead. I’m excited to see where my next home will be. I dwell in the magical mystery of my journey.

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The Quiet Gift of Desperation

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I seem to be at a pivot point in my writing ‘project’ and feel like I’m standing on a slippery moss-covered rock in the midst of crossing a fast moving stream and suddenly the way forward is blocked. Perhaps the reason I’m blocked is because I keep calling it a ‘project’ instead of admitting and committing to the fact that I’m writing a book.

Because it’s scary to even think I’m writing a book.

Because, “Who am I to think I can write a book?”

But then…..who am I to think that I can’t write a book?

I’ve written a lot of words, almost 50,000 of them, covering the wounding-enmeshed-in-Victim part of the story. My story. This part is called The Red Bird of Betrayal because I like the colour red, which is also meant to convey the blood of the wounding. And because I like alliteration. And because it’s only a ‘for me’ title, not one which will carry forward into the book. Yes, it’s a book.

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O'Neill

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O’Neill

Now I’m at the pivot point, the point where the healing begins. Where I begin living by my new mantra of I will show my children what is possible in a time of crisis (which later, much later, became shortened simply to I will show what is possible).

And this is where we find me standing on the slippery moss-covered rock in the middle of that fast moving stream. Confused and frustrated. I’ve written the first part in almost chronological order, but that doesn’t feel right for the next part, so the way ahead isn’t clearly marked with stepping-stones. I have to find a new path, a new way to forge the river.

And maybe that’s just perfectly fitting because that’s exactly what I had to do in my life, in my healing. Find a new way of Being. Perhaps I need to just begin where I am and trust in the process.  Trust that the right words will find me.  Step off the rock and slip into the flow of the stream and stop trying to row the boat.  Now is the time to let go, to surrender completely into the writing and be surprised by the discoveries that move through my fingers.

And now I’m excited because I know the words are there, that the wisdom is there, just waiting for the opportunity to download onto the page.  I simply have to surrender to the process and delight in the discoveries.

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By the way, the title of my newly proclaimed book is, Transcending Forgiveness – Healing into Wholeness After Betrayal.

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