The Heroine’s Journey

The Wasteland burns us up and burns us out. Instead of following your own instincts, instead of discovering what it is that gives us joy, what makes our heart sing, we spend most of our lives trying to make other people happy…living from our head rather than our instinct for what is good and healthy.

[…]

The Heroine’s Journey for these times is a journey out of the Wasteland. Each of us has our own unique set of stories to tell: the story of the years we spent in the Wasteland, the story of our awakening, and the story of the path we took out of it.

~Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted

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A year later: broken open but not broken

I started this blog a little more than a year ago and so much has changed in that time.

I thought about this earlier this week as I rolled a pie crust, dancing to Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, belting out old standards that my mom loved. I felt so much joy. This was possibly the first holiday that wasn’t overshadowed by grief. Yes, my mom popped in my head often but it was met more often with smiles than tears. I know she would love my crooning to Lush Life, the same song she belted out when playing the Linda Ronstadt record. And certainly, there were moments of sadness and longing this holiday (this is inevitable, you can’t ignore the empty chair at the table) but overall I felt more peace this year.

And it’s fair to say I feel more rooted than in November 2015. A few days ago I walked the dogs in nearby pine brush woods, collecting tropical flowers, palm fronds and scarlet berries to make a homemade flower bouquet. This act now feels normal. Routine. Familiar even. This landscape of my life–both literal and figurative–that shifted so dramatically beneath my feet three years ago now feels like home. 

I recently heard a moving interview with the poet/philosopher/spiritual writer Mark Nepo and he talked about how humans are unique animals because we can experience multiple metamorphoses. Periods of darkness that take us into a cocoon, often several times in the span of a liftime, and if we choose to we can emerge from these periods anew–with new wings, new eyes, new colors and stripes. 

Twice I have entered this cocoon. The first in my early twenties. My second unfolding occurred with your help, dear readers.

I started this blog steeped in grief, and along the way suffered an additional loss–a miscarriage–that came close to breaking me. Instead, it broke me open. What a gift. I am grateful for it all, the darkness of the cocoon and the light that shines on newly spread wings. Many blessings to you and your family this holiday. I’m certain the best is yet to come.

 

 

And Then…Growth.

A few months ago my friend gave me a plumeria cutting. Even if you have never heard of Plumeria I guarantee you have seen their blossoms: they produce the beautiful flowers that are used in making Hawaiian leis.

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Source wikipedia.

When my friend offered me a Plumeria tree cutting I jumped at the chance to grow one. Until I saw what I had to work with:

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image source

That photo isn’t of my actual stick but I can promise you it looked just like that photo. I didn’t think to take a picture of it, likely because I did not think it would grow. I mean it is a stick. A stick that is supposed to grow into an exotic tropical flower plant.  I have never grown a plant from cutting, let alone a fancy pants tropical tree.

Well, I love a good challenge. I decided what the heck, I would try to grow it. I bought root hormone (who knew such a thing existed), followed some youtube videos on the topic, placed it in a semi-sunny and not too wet region of my lanai, and I left it alone. This is very important according to the horticulturist from Hawaii who is on YouTube. He grows hundreds of these sticks cuttings.  Leave it alone! he told me. Do not pull or tug or mess with it! (How did he know that is exactly what I would have done??) The fragile roots need lots of time to grow and grow and grow.

I left it alone. It was so hard but I did not poke or tug or anything.

About a month or two later a leaf appeared. I went bananas bonkers. Oh my goodness it was growing!!

Again, I didn’t take any photos because I think I was still in disbelief, but it looked basically just like this:

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Photo source.. Not my stick with a tiny leaf but it looked just like this.

Now, several months after that first sign of growth, I am very excited to share a photo of what it looks like today:

Wow right? Look at all those huge tropically leaves! It is amazing. 

Keep the faith. So often when we feed a garden, whether inner or outer, it can feel like nothing is happening. And then, boom, growth

I hope that the next post I show are of blossoms.  (Inner and outer both.)

(And just as beautiful: my husband can no longer joke about my black thumb. Yeah that’s right hubs, you are looking at a wife who grew a plant from a literal stick placed into soil*. Bow down sir. Bow down.)

*I just accidentally typed “placed into soul” instead of “soul” – revealing no?

When it feels like the world is falling apart (Trump with nuclear weapons anyone?)

This post was inspired by hearing about Donald Trump’s fascination with nuclear weapons.

Nuclear apocalypse tends to invoke a little bit of unease, now doesn’t it. It’s hard not to flee to Canada react with fear to all the things currently imploding in the world. My husband and I have remarked more than once in the last several weeks that it feels as though things are falling apart…that the center cannot hold.

But I really don’t think the world is quite as doomed as it seems. 

When I think about my own life and the times that things fell apart—because they eventually always do, don’t they, like a plant that drops its wilted flowers and goes to seed, eventually dropping those too in order start the process all over again—the most painful and difficult times in my own life were also the times that most healed me and opened my heart. Each time I have painfully put myself together, I’ve discovered a stronger, braver, and more fearless version of myself emerge.   

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Dandelion going to seed. image source

Maybe the same will be true for our nation and world. Perhaps a braver, more fair and just, and less fearful world will emerge after all the turmoil.

But hot damn, the falling apart process ain’t easy. I usually want to retreat under the covers with a bag of Cheetos, waiting until someone gives me the all clear! before I surface again.  Unfortunately the call never seems to come. (So ridiculously unfair). The only call I get is my husband when he finds the orange crumbs on the sheets going, seriously, were you eating Cheetos in bed? (Uh yes, and your point??)

Yes, hard times call for Cheetos but also bravery. And self-compassion. And a kind-hearted village, because none of us, and I mean none of us, can do it alone. Warm fuzzy puppies also tend to help (who incidentally sort of smell like Cheetos but you kind of just ignore that about them).

cheetos - Copy

It’s so easy to fall into helplessness, isn’t it? Whether it is the world at large or our own little inner world. I am grateful that I am not currently dealing with any major life upheavals. (Though trust me, there are a few in my very recent review mirror.) The little things I am dealing with now (and they are little compared to nuclear appocolypse) have been frustrating me lately. For instance, I’m trying to start groundwork for making some career changes. It feels like I keep putting things out into the universe again and again and…nothing. I’m talking both intentions and actions. What gives?

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Slow and steady. image source.

I was feeling grumble-y about this recently. Well, lo and behold the other night a huge snail showed up on my window, leaving a long streak in rainy window. As far as snails go, this one was kinda cute. I tend to view odd encounters like this one as symbols from spirit. I asked myself, snail, what are you here to tell me? Slow and steady, slow and steady, and you will get there, immediately popped into my head.

Useful advice for sure. But there is more to snail than meets the eye. I was reading about snails and apparently they are capable of laying dormant for a long, long while but then when the rains finally come, they spring to life. Nothing, nothing, nothing, and then… boom! Movement!

Perhaps the same way in our lives and in our world. Keep the hope. It may feel that small actions are not making a difference. It may seem as though you are getting nowhere. But when you least expect it, cleansing rains of renewal may spring everything to life.

(And my personal prayer for the universe: when that day comes may we all collectively put down our Cheetos and prevent the Cheetos-colored man from ever touching a nuclear weapon, mkay?)


This post was not sponsored by Cheetos. If you like Cheetos, and my blog, I invite you to join me on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

Feeding the Feminine

It might be that I simply dreamed about an almost-dead cat. But I’d like to think it was something more: A sign that I am starting to feed the feminine, magical side of my psyche.

Two nights ago I had a dream that I came home to discover a long-forgotten cat. I found her lying on the floor and I was aghast. Yes, that’s right, I did have a cat didn’t I. I had left for a while but I was back, and I was scared she was dead.

She slowly stirred. She’d survived without food or water for some time. She was barely holding on—but she was alive.

I began to pour food kibbles onto her, literally blanketing her with food (definitely more than she needed). Slowly she began to eat. I knew she would be OK.

Whoa, right?! 

Sure, it could be I had too many nachos the night before. (Actually, I definitely had too many nachos.)

OR it could be that my psyche is telling me something.

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Bastet. Image Source.

Google informs me that the feline has long been revered as a symbol of the feminine, of mystery and magic. The Egyptian Goddess Bastet took the form of a cat. Cats often symbolize the ability to see in the dark, and the parts of our nature that are curious and independent.

This would not be the first time I’d had a deeply symbolic dream. And heck, I’d been deep in the muck the last six months, but I’d begun to emerge from it all and writing has been a big part of that shift.

Could it be that this dream was reminding me how I’d nearly forgotten to feed the feminine, magical mystical side of myself? That it was without food or water for some time?

But wow, am I feeding her now. 

 

 

Signs of Spring

It is spring in Southern Florida. You have to look closely (it is easy to miss the subtle signs among the constant sunshine and blue skies) but it is here.

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Magical little dragonfly. Kind of weird and cool at the same time. Image source.

 

On a walk yesterday I noticed what appeared to be baby dragon flies. Have you ever seen such a thing? At first I didn’t even know what I was looking at. Were they flies? Were they butterflies? They seemed like something out of a fairy tale. One little booger landed on my hand! She had bright red wings. Magical.

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Flowering bougainvillea. image source.

As I walked further I suddenly noticed tons of
flowering bougainvillea that
seemed to appear out of nowhere. Overnight entire branches were now full of the bright pink blossoms.

And the baby anoles! They are the lizards you see everywhere in Florida. I noticed they were absent from our yard for a bit. Weird. And then in the last week or two tons of the little guys started to appear once again, darting around, climbing the lanai screen and scurrying under foliage.

I am heartily embracing these signs of spring. It may not be daffodils and forsythia (gosh I miss forsythia) but I’ll take it.

If you have read any of my recent posts you might have caught on to the fact that things have been a wee bit heavy in my life as of late. (Understatement?) I recently wrote about how it felt like I’ve been stuck in the winter season.

Since writing that post, a heaviness has lifted. I am pretty sure the writing itself had something to do with it. It never ceases to astound me how the simple (and yet so difficult) act of witnessing and acknowledging our pain is enough to make it go POUF. Even when it is heavy and dense and feels like it stretches back a thousand lifetimes. Doesn’t matter. Poof.

Crazy isn’t it?

I am fairly new to Florida and I’m still trying to figure out what the seasons exactly are (other than rainy…and non-rainy) but I will tell you: It feels like spring.