Thursday, March 19

back to the future



Above is a photo from another March many, many years ago. That's me, standing in the middle of an ancient goddess circle somewhere in the French countryside. We were out mucking about in the woods, came upon it, I walked straight into the middle of the circle, closed my eyes, head back, heart to the sky. Someone snapped a photograph.

Then we left.

It was both so random and such a brief moment. It's one of my most treasured photographs.


Most of you already know this, but tomorrow is not just the Spring equinox, it is also a new moon and a total solar eclipse. Boom.

As if that weren't enough cosmic shake-up, the eclipse lands on the Omega point--- you know, that moment when the snake eats its tail, that magical moment when you have leapt off the cliff and your toes are reaching for the other side but you haven't quite landed yet. That.
“The 1st degree of Aries is the Alpha point and 29 Pisces is the Omega point. They represent the start of the zodiac (1 Aries) and the end of the zodiac (29 Pisces)- and they are points of initiation and completion, beginnings and endings.” via mysticmamma

All I know is things are BUZZING around here. 

At 8:00 this morning, three guys stood on my porch, a giant white truck idling behind them. How could I forget insulation day! Except since they will be here 8 hours today and 8 hours tomorrow, hammering, pulling back siding to drill holes into the side of the house to blow insulation into the bays (and sometimes directly into my kitchen by mistake ACK! but easily cleaned up with a shop vac thank heavens) --- things feel noisy, busy, disrupted.

Plus, the wind!  Blustery blustery in your face BLUSTERY. If there were tumbleweeds in these parts they'd be spinning three feet above the streets.

I like a bracing wind that cleans dead branches from the trees. I like the idea of a house that has more than two inches of clapboard between me and sub-zero temperatures. I just would like to be on a quiet lake somewhere while all these changes are happening.

Am rather partial to quiet, as you all know.

Oh and hey! I should also add into the mix of things that have disturbed the serenity of my pond today is that I am reading Leaving Before the Rains Come which shares more about her deeply chaotic and genuinely dangerous childhood.  I had read her Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight so you would think I'd know what I was getting into. But somehow, it's sinking even more deeply just how ungrounded it all was and that is really not the energy I need today.

And yet-- karma will out.


Part of why I am in here writing to you in the middle of the day is that I know what soothes me: writing. One of the tools in my self-care toolbox. 

When agitation is getting the best of me, grabbing a pen and writing it all out is like hitting the steam valve . . . ahhhh. And there are quite a few things I do for self-care, as you know--- and I'm gonna be sharing some of my favorites very soon. Susannah has invited me (and a whole host of other lovely spirits) to share APRIL LOVE 2015



I don't know what day my share will be posted, but come join the fun-- there are daily instagram prompts and all sorts of goodies to help us feel the love in this month of yellow flowers.

If you, too, have been feeling the turbulence of this day-- I send you wishes for peace and ease.

bisous, e

Tuesday, March 17

that daily life thing


One of the exercises we did together last Spring in the Magic of Myth class was to round up our talismans. There is such a wealth of information in the objects, colors and textures that we are drawn to. And conversely, lots for us to reflect upon in those objects, colors and textures that we simply can't tolerate.

This is also true for our musical, geographic and activity preferences.

All of which influence the daily choices that create each moment of our day, our life.

I'm thinking about this today as I try to answer a question from the magic of myth group. Actually, with any luck, I'm going to address what three people asked for as in exploring this quotidian life I can slide in some photographs of my new digs.

First, the questions:

Jennifer asked:
How do we stay connected with
the magical in every day life?
With the dishes and laundry piling up?

Amy B echoed the query:

I'd totally reiterate Jennifer's question
about staying connected and to that,
the practical application & integration
of systems of magic into everyday. It's tricky.

Amy W wrote,
Love seeing pics of your new place!
Entire civilizations have risen from the
foundation of mythology and the enactment
of it through rituals, what amazing,
beautiful, enchanting things would we
discover when we create our own mythology?
I think we need a new round-up of mythic
resources to get the juices up, too.

Alrighty then. Let's get this party started.


I don't know when it was that I was introduced to the Shaker adage, "hands to work, hearts to God," but it was early enough that I can't remember a time not knowing it. Right now I am deep in my yoga teacher training which includes reading the Bhagavad Gita. In the Gita, Krishna counsels Arjuna

whatever you do, make it an offering to me 

This is pretty much my answer to question number one. Ha. Don't you love how I call in the big guns and hook up with none other than the power of the divine? But isn't that what you are asking me about?  Isn't that what we are all seeking in one way or another?

For me, the answer has always been yes.

For me, focus on the actions of my daily life continue to bring me closer and closer to that Shaker ideal that I encountered as an impressionable, hyper-sensitive, hyper-seeking child.

Did this life I am leading today, March 17, 2015, land in my lap like some perfect present tied up with a bow? It didn't. The life I am leading today is the current iteration of a journey I began over 30 years ago. Will it take you 30 years to savor each moment of your day?

Oh dear god I hope not, but if it does, my best suggestion is to enjoy as much of the journey getting there as you can.


How does this play out actually?  Doing the dishes is where I began. Many years ago.

Imagine a year after a wonderful wedding you are down at your sister's house in Boston when you get a call that your husband burned out the first floor of your house? Accidentally, obvs.

As the reconstruction inched along, which is my not so subtle way of saying for the next 18 months, you had to wash dishes in the bathtub. By the time you got to stand to wash dishes in a lovely new sink, I promise you-- there was a whole boat of gratitude pouring out of your heart.


And it never left me. That practice of keeping the sink clean and bringing real focus to the gift of hot water, soap, the view out a window. All of it. I never miss an opportunity to enjoy meditation on the gifts in my life as I wash dishes.

However, before you hurl your dirty coffee cup at me in annoyance, let me assure you there are life chores that I absolutely do not like doing, laundry and house cleaning, most especially. And so those two items are right at the top of my budget. Am I a big shopper? Nope. Is most everything in my house repurposed, thrifted or second-hand? Yep. Do I joyfully drop my laundry at the laundromat and pick it up all clean and folded and pay for the privilege? I do indeed. And, for both the house cleaning and laundry I have exactly zero shame in outsourcing these prime homemaker tasks. In fact, I love handing over my money to women who have made this work their livelihood.

Maybe for you, cooking is the dreaded daily task.


For me, cooking is one of the greatest joys. Cooking and gardening are probably the two most meditative activities I know. They soothe me. And, working from home allows me to start a soup in the morning before heading upstairs to my desk.

That right there? Bliss. I really can't put too much emphasis on it. Such is the genuine pleasure I get from this routine. It feeds my soul.

Maybe for you, someone else making the meals kicks open the door to nirvana.

The key is you have to know yourself and take the time to get to know yourself.

Because then, and only then, are you taking responsibility for getting your core needs met.

I knew a woman who loved ironing so much she would ask to iron my jeans. Seriously, that was her meditation she was always looking for more things to iron. The steady movements, the smoothing, removing wrinkles, folding, smell of fresh laundry, the steam? I have no idea what part made her most happy. I just watched her satisfaction in the beauty she created. She loved the process of ironing and had no shortage of rituals around it.

Find the beauty in the tasks and do them mindfully as an offering to the day, an offering to the vibration surrounding you. Take pride in your effort, particularly when it is hard, particularly when it really pulls from the bottom of the bucket.

I promise you, there are many nights I see dishes in the sink just as I am about to head to bed and, if I am deeply tired, the thought that I can just do them tomorrow is more than tempting, it seems justified. And yet, that is not where my joy lies. My joy lies in coming down the stairs in the morning to a clean sink. I know this about myself and so, I give this to myself and it is a gift that carries with it a sweet satisfaction and deepening trust.

Please understand. This is not about dishes. You may love doing dishes in the morning or not doing dishes at all. Don't get distracted by my examples. The point is to find your daily rituals that link one to the next to the next until from the moment you wake up, to the moment you drop into bed, your day has been experienced, felt, witnessed.

the spiritual life is active, joyful, and intentional.
It is a middle path between extremes
that transfigures everyday living
-
Eknath Easwaran


So to wrap up here with a shot above of my window sill this morning. Amy W referenced ritual and magic and you can be sure I am all about the ritual and magic as part of normal, rainy day, every day life.

Even if it is only for five minutes (though it's often more than that) I light a candle and burn some white sage. I sage me, I sage the dogs, I sage the room and I offer all of it up to the spirits. I share the beauty of the moment with them.

And in return, sunlight pours in the window, dust motes dance in the light, glittering, and spinning.


"Personality is a process. The human being
is constantly remaking himself or herself.
Left to itself, the mind goes on repeating the
same old habitual patterns of personality.
By training the mind, however,
anyone can learn to step in and change
old ways of thinking . ."
Eknath Easwaren

Okay, I'm gonna stop here. I have no idea if any of this resonates with you, but this is my best effort for this morning. I may try again another day, but that's only because these questions are THE questions of a life.

How do we live a life well? With joy, light, magic and mystery when there is so much suffering, struggle, war, heartbreak and boredom? We are all on the same path, looking for that good red road.

Here's wishing you moments of stillness and connection in this and every day.

bisous, e

photo credit:  Forrest Elliott




Friday, March 13

you are the teacher you have been waiting for*


blue heron, 12 march 2015


The other day I reached out to the Magic of Myth community and asked them for support as I start the ignition on this online journal after being away for so many months. True to form, this circle of goddesses jumped to my aid and sent me a motherlode of questions.

What grabbed me this morning was Melissa's query:

Hi Elizabeth. It is so good to hear from you again.
I miss the energy of this class. To me, it felt holy.
Or perhaps that is what I infused into my experience of it.
My question is: I serve as mentor to many people
in my daily life, but I have no one that I can call mine.
The Universe is nudging me to get one.
How do I find then approach a mentor?


Wow. Such a great question. Simple -- on the surface, anyway-- but for me, there are layers upon layers in this idea. Part of the reason it pushed its way to the top of the pile is that this has been a central concern for me, my whole life long.

Once upon a time, I would stretch out on a window seat and imagine what life would have looked like had I had been smart enough when I was a lost and confused 18 year old to head off to Arizona to find some magical shaman to guide me through. You know, some pure fantasy where in one short summer I learn all the wisdom that it has taken me these long years to learn the hard way.

ha ha ha

Those meditations were such sweet escape. I could smell the sage, feel the hot sun, savor the wide wide open horizon-- and my perfect, perfect beingness. How very perfect and wise I was.

Ahh, such is the beauty of imagination.


The truth is, I had no such guidance. Not ever. Alas, no. Most of my deepest learnings are much more like my old pal Pinocchio who had to learn from all the bad that results when you follow the wrong people down the alley who hold out promises of candy and good times.

And just like the wooden puppet who became a real live boy through love, my ungainly exodus from the belly of the whale carried me out on a wave of love and gratitude that has been my constant companion ever since.

Do I have a mentor? Nope.

Have I always wanted one? Begged for one? Tried to squish people into that mold and then be disappointed when they weren't able to fulfill my very specific needs? Oh yes. Yes, indeed.

What I slowly came to understand is that we can learn buckets from books, people, teachers, guides, gurus, yogis, the cab driver, the kid on the playground, poets, painters and shamans but the only spirit who really knows all we need to know is the one who dwells within.

That's right. Not so much Jiminy Cricket (though he was a fine fellow) but that ONE voice that is within us that most of us never listen to.

Be honest. We don't.

Sometimes because we keep our lives so busy and filled with distraction that we can't even hear it, but also in those times we have gotten quiet enough to listen and then reject what it tells us because we don't like the answer we got.

In my experience, the truth my soul holds out to me looks quite a bit different than what my ego has decided would suit me best. My true path is often quite plain and devoid of banners, ribbons and bows. My true path often has me doing the thing that scares me, not doing the thing I thought I was going to do and all too often simply requiring me to sit in the discomfort of a moment that I would much prefer to bury under a fat slice of chocolate cake.

Which is not to say the bliss of my life that is visible to anyone who knows me isn't real. It is decidedly real. It's just what real pleasure looks like. And yes, it does come from doing the hard work of living with honesty and authenticity. Watching your thoughts, your words, your actions and seeking always to think, speak and live from gentleness and love. Not easy but the payoff is huge.

HUGE.

I will give you one example and then I gotta fly--- busy day here at Squam HQ.

Yesterday I got an email from a person I had hired to change my front door handle. (Quick backstory: Things went very south and not only was I out a ridiculous sum of money ($500) I also didn't have the right replacement and the person and I were in opposition. The kind of opposition that causes my stomach to clench and my body to flood with hot anger for being taken advantage of. The kind of opposition that a younger version of myself would have taken as an invitation to war.)

In the email, the person was going to come on Monday and take the handle away, leave my original handle on-- and in their words, with no guarantee that the original handle would work.

Yeah.

Feel all the rush of anger, outrage, righteousness?  Yeah, that.

So I sat with it. UGH. UGH. UGH. Think aggression. Think violence. Think kill kill kill.
Yeah.

Still sitting with it.  Not getting any better.  I go into meditation and ask for help.  HOW can I navigate through this?  I don't want to be a doormat and let the person walk all over me. I don't want to be the warrior queen who cuts their head and sends the bleeding skull to roll down the hill. Such a quandry it was.

What I KNEW was that I had created this situation.  I did. This is my life, my dream, my drama, my movie. Mine.  So why did I create this character to do me wrong? Do I have a deep-seated belief that people are "out to get me" to "cheat me" ?  Ugly stuff that.  Do I really want to face that?  Do I really have a choice?

So I sit. Breathe. Ask for guidance.

And then, my inner guide suggested I send the following:

Hi Person,

I know you will do your best. I'll be here to meet you at 10 am Monday.

thanks, Elizabeth

So I did. Releasing all expectation of anything. Taking the $500 loss as a very expensive lesson on how to (or how not to) hire contractors. Just let it go. I do not want to be at war with anyone. Period.

A few minutes later I got a response.

Thank you.


Before I even received that response, I was in full peace.  Deep easy sweet peace.  I had let it go. I had followed my inner guidance and done what was right for me and I haven't thought about it since.

For me, this is beyond revelation. This is a way of living that blows my mind.

So Melissa, not sure I answered your question-- not sure that I can.
But I know that YOU can.
Please look at your question again and see the statement smack dab in the middle . . .
I highlighted it. :)



bisous, e

*via Byron Katie

Tuesday, March 10

back to the beginning

sunrise from Morningside cottage
7 september 2014

All lake photos on this post date back to the last time I had started writing to you but got interrupted which would be right after September Squam.

Um, you know-- six months ago.

There were also a bunch of words but I deleted all that. They were old and if I have any kind of credo for blogging (full disclosure: I have no credo for blogging) I can only share what is of the day, of the moment, of the hour.


Blogging is, for me, truly online journaling. I sit down at the laptop and type.

Live streaming, as it were.

photo:  Forrest Elliott

Today is a Tuesday. Late morning. Dogs and I got up at 5 am as per usual. Went across the street in the dark to let them investigate diminishing snow banks. Came in to hot coffee topped with foamy almond milk and sprinkled with cinnamon. They eat their breakfast like animals, no savoring, no slow paced conversation to punctuate mouthfuls. Water slurped noisily they come and curl in around me.

We sit. Me in the white chair, cross-legged. Candles lit, a thread of white sage smoke curls up to the ceiling. Later, I take them to the woods where we walk through the perfect stillness of snow and early morning light.

Right now? I am sitting upstairs in my new living space that has also become Squam HQ once again.



photos: Forrest Elliott

That sentence alone has about six months of stories laced through it, but I can't go backwards today. If I am going to climb into the saddle here I must move forward. And so here's what I scribbled in my journal a few hours ago:


 if I ever got a tattoo it would be of cabbages
the touchstone reminder  alike in success + failure
curious only to witness the flow of life.
work for the beauty of the action alone
no concern for the outcome


Any of you who know me well, know that the odds of me ever getting a tattoo are exactly zero. Just not something I would ever do-- but I am not immune to the ritual of what doing something like that can offer-- a chance to stop, review, mark a time of transition, or stake a claim on some kind of life code that helps to keep us rooted in our core truth.

Cabbages are that symbol for me.  The source is from an essay by Montaigne that I read as a sophomore in college. It hooked me then and has never left me as my touchstone philosophy. I'm too lazy to go find the passage and type it out here for you (plus I don't think I like the English translation, anyway) so I'll just give you my interpretation of what he wrote.


 When Death comes for me, let it find me in my garden
planting cabbages. Equally indifferent to death
and, to the fate of my cabbages.


What this means for me is I am home. Home, in my self. The ego is no longer the wild child careening around the house, out of control and leaving wreckage in its wake. Or, from a more yogic perspective, there is no longer a searching "out there" for my happiness. Not gonna feel better by eating cake, having a cocktail, buying the perfect shoes/lipstick/t-shirt, etc. 

Whatever "it" is that I think will give me love/bliss/comfort I have crossed over a threshold to a space where I know better.

I no longer clutch at people for support
I no longer cling to pleasure
I no longer depend on appreciation
I am satisfied in and by my self alone.


And so I plant cabbages, you know - metaphorically.

I live my life. I create as much physical beauty around me as I can. My radio channel is set to kindness. My day, my routines are as simple as possible. When I engage in creative projects the intention is clear: I do it for the process, the joy of the doing. All attachment to the outcome is down the street somewhere chatting it up with the neighbors -- nowhere in my space.

Sometimes the project succeeds, sometimes the project fails, always I am ready to meet Death with a smile, satisfied that in this day, in this moment, I was awake.

Alive. Fully conscious of the magic of this dream. Ever ever ever drenched in gratitude.


bisous, e

p.s. from my old friend Emerson:

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in:
forget them as soon as you can
Tomorrow is a new day
you shall begin it serenely with too
high a spirit to be encumbered
by your old nonsense

Sunday, September 7

and we're off

upload

DAISY:  Dude, you have got to work on your photogenics.

OLLIE: But that was my Magnum look.

image

DAISY;  How about just a smile?

OLLIE:  I don't feel like smiling. You didn't appreciate my Magnum.

DAISY:  Honestly? I thought you were giving us Blue Steel.

OLLIE:  Well. I guess that makes me feel a little better.

DAISY:  Okay then, one, two three--  we are SQUAMWARD BOUND!

Daisy and Oliie say, road trip? Bring it!

bisous, e

Friday, August 29

365 days doth a year make

gooseberry island :: 29 august 2014

We were talking about you today.
There's a place you never got to visit that you would've totally loved: Gooseberry Island.

gooseberry island :: august 29 2014

It's a straight shot south of Providence, an easy drive. Given today is the anniversary of that sad, sad awful no-good morning last year, I thought it would be good to head out to the sea as you always loved the beach.

henry :: martha's vineyard 2012

Man, I am having a tough time writing. I thought pulling up pictures of you would make it easier.

I was gonna tell you about how we moved into a new office space-- it was a tough transition for me (maybe I'm not good with change?), but things are starting to feel a bit more comfortable there.  Our neighbors are friendly and many people bring their dogs to work so that makes it fun for Daisy and Ollie. I'm painting again, so there's that.

I was gonna tell you about all the wild stuff that has gone on this summer since I never found a way to sit down and blog about it, but I honestly don't know where to begin. Things have just been full out. Full Out. Non-stop. Perhaps this has been true for everyone this summer-- I seem to be hearing those exact words from my friends.  Just full out.

And, I think I am changing-- I am moving further and further away from this online world and sinking more deeply into real time with no need to document or record. Which is a bit tough since I know I like to keep a record here-- but, again, change-- flowing with change and letting things evolve or in this case, devolve.

In a couple weeks, Daisy and Ollie will be up with Dave at Soliden for the week and I know they'll all be missing you then, too.

You are always missed.  That's mostly what I came in to say.

Today and every day.

I don't know where you are, but I know there's love all around you, love all around you.
Because you, you were pure love.

photos above by Bella Cirovic

And? Smart. So smart to leave at the perfect high point of summer's end when everything is bright and warm, and the gardens are spilling over with tomatoes, sunflowers and corn.

A season that can soften sorrow no matter how deep.


bisous, e

Thursday, August 14

my summer report

upload

She let go.

Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry,
she just let go. 

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go. . . she didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

It's that time of day. (Iced coffee with almond milk)

She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

TGIF

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

Little garage at the end of the lane #provylove

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go. 

There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
-  Reverend Safire Rose (via Rebecca Atwood)

xo, e

Wednesday, July 30

apex

Officially addicted #provylove #instantcity

Can we talk about the nails?  You know, since they are front and center here and an indication of all the time I am not spending getting manicures. (For any perfectionists out there, you will be relieved to know that after seeing this photo I went home and took the last of the blue off my nails so although they may not be buffed and polished, they are at least plain and clear-- you're welcome!)

What has been going on?

Well-- we moved office which went super smoothly in all the ways I had planned and then went pear-shaped in all the ways I had not prepared:  fumes from fresh paint and floor varnish made it impossible to work there the first week; no possibility of installing a sink (<-- boo!), delays and hiccups in getting high-speed internet . . etc.  You know the drill.

Moving = Expect the Unexpected, n'est-ce pas?

@gleenaceramics #provylove@gleenaceramics #provylove

The mill buildings above are not my office space but Asya's -- there are a number of old mill complexes around here that have been turned into office and studio spaces.  I will be sure to share loads of my new digs once I get into a normal life routine.

Well, you know-- as normal and as routine as I ever do.

So far the dogs are settling in well and loving the community which is really warm and welcoming to them.

Daisy and Oliie win over the Verizon guys. The space is looking ready, ...!Feels like I should have a ballet barre....Morning walk through the hood

I will be honest and tell you I am in no way ready for July to be over.  I need THREE more months of July, please.

Please?

God, I love summer so much and we need so much more time to both do NOTHING and explore, play and create.  *sigh*

#provyloveSetting up for Thursday night outdoor movie night in downtown #provylove playing tonight? Reality Bites fresh popcorn popping nowThe current state of my living room: sunshine and work in process. Monday we move into the new office space that will also have studio space for me. My living room will be grateful for that!Best of, baby! #provylove

#lincolnwoods #provylove my own Rothko
Better

You can be sure there has been tons of journaling and soul work, too as that seems to be my thang. It's the harder thing for me to talk about and share here because it would take more time and reflection to write with clarity around all that is opening up for me.

All good.  Stuff I like. It feels like things are really popping for me right now.  Three years into living here and all of a sudden every day, every night there are SO many things I want to do and I simply can't do them all.  You know that old gardening adage about perennials?

First year they sleep,
second year they creep,
third year they leap?

Yeah.  It's like that-- much with the leaping around here.

Dogs have both jumped. Am tempted

Movie I liked:  Mumford

Song I'm playing:  Sade, by your side

Video that makes me happy:


bisous, e