Seskéha

Grandmother Moon will be fully illuminated tonight.

(If you click on the link you can see a video from NASA that explains the hows and whys of the full moon.)

It would be great to get outside under her glow. (whether you can see her or not, she is there.)

In English we could translate Seskéha to “Fresh Try Hard”

This speaks so deeply to me because I am in another phase of  “fresh” trying hard changes. Transitions are difficult for me, always have been. Partially because I am diagnosed as ADD, partially because there have been too many that weren’t happy or helpful.

But when I get out under the sky and absorb the vibrations of the Divine all the difficulties shrink down to a manageable perspective.

Alex Myles calls this moon, Clearing Moon and says it brings “intense, purifying and healing moonbeams which deeply activates energy, bringing dramatic shifts, renewed trust, sacred and fated soul connections and accelerates major change.”

Fresh Try Hard moon speaks to this to me.

It’s not so much a transition into which I have to fit or resist.

But an invitation to receive. To renew trust. To welcome sacred and fated soul connections, even major changes.

It is a freshness and it may be “hard”, but it is part of growth. Stretching and growing can make us even more beautiful, complex, and like this Indian Lotus found at Water Works Park here in St. Thomas glorious. Glorious as Grandmother Moon.

I leave you with a lovely image of an Indian Lotus … because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Image credit: Jeff Suchak, who often shares some spectacular images here     https://www.facebook.com/jeff.suchak

Writing Ourselves Whole EE

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It is August.

The garden is a riot of colour and deliciousness. Food for tummies and eyes. The Lotus pond at Waterworks Park here in St. Thomas is blooming and full of music. The deep bass of the bullfrog, the splash of turtle and muskrat, the chirrup of crickets, the flutter and whrrrr of Cedar Waxwing wings as they whoosh past our ears as we stand slightly hidden in the small trees beside the pond. Everything is so alive and lush.

And it seemed a time ripe for writing with a few like-minded souls. I had dreamed of this since arriving here, missing my writers’ group in Owen Sound. Hello all!

And Thursday, it happened.

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We met and had a light potluck lunch to kick off this new and auspicious launch.

Then we picked up our pens (after ooohing and aaahing over Jane’s brilliant quill like pen…) and began the lectio poetica or listening, really deeply listening, then reflecting, then writing.

It was  invigorating and energizing and as reassuring as those long, luxurious hugs a really good friend gives after a long absence.

To mark this kick-off, I made some small journals (pamphlet stitched accordian style). Everyone chose the one that spoke most enticingly to them and we continued on…

We adorned the corners so that it is easier to turn the page and shared and laughed and lauded in appreciation each of our contributions. Such a brilliant start. There are others who want to join us and one will next week.

Life is good. Writing makes it better. Poetry makes it sweet, even in the rough patches. And little handmade journals make it just that much more special.

Here is a peek at the journals…MoodyEarth.jpg

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This wee one is off to California on Monday

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And here is mine!

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Now to get on to finishing my homework!

Courage to be…

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Today, as I was procrastinating from actually writing the proposal, this

wee piece of wisdom (you can click on the link) by Stephanie Renaud appeared in my Facebook feed. Usually, I don’t read everybody’s blogs or posts or even shares because, well, life is full enough for me right now. But this one compelled me to read it.

I am every so glad that I did.

I don’t want to give away what it is about because I want you to discover for yourself, as I did. That is very much a part of the fun of discovery.

I have been playing hide-and-seek with myself since April when my dreams seemed to go up in smoke. A dark, acrid smoke that cut off my breathing for a bit.

Somehow love found a way back for me. The love of a good man who walks beside me every day. The love of a Spiritual Advisor who helped me to sort all the messages into useless and harmful and even better nourishing.

The love of getting my fingernails into the good earth and watching new things push forth from the leaf litter into hopeful green sprouts.

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The love of seeing pollinators happily

return to my garden.

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The love of picking up pen and drawing images and words.

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And finally the love of walking in the woods. WoodsyGirl

But another thing I hide is my talent. I allow the words and actions (or intimidating rebuffs) to speak who I am. We all do sometimes. I have a knack for it.

But today, I am taking back my life. I am writing that proposal. I am filling out the “business” forms.

I am carving words on my arm. Well, not literally, carving words; but I am pondering a semi-colon tattoo. There was no three’s a charm from this latest cruel snub.

Today I also listened to a TEDx talk by Adam Leipzig. (click on the link)

He spoke on finding your life purpose.

I thought I knew what that was.

Someone tried to douse my dreams, perhaps not intentionally, but it was an overt gesture of denigration, so…

I struggled. Felt a little wobbly for a bit. Well, I felt a lot wobbly.

I don’t even know what caused me to watch the talk, but again, sometimes the Universe just drops some little gem in your lap.

I’ve been exposed to his line of thought before.

Thought I had it memorized.

Thought I had it down solid.

But, the little blip that was April had caused me to forget.

Happy to say I no longer have that amnesia.

I remember!

I have purpose. I have talent. I have a gift to share. I will share it.

The reason I will share it is that I know I am not alone in this. And I know I have another knack — the ability to help bring balance into Creation by helping people to remake their worlds with words and paper.

So, now, I am moved to get back on track.

Thanks to so many who held me while I recovered.

Leafology is back!

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Ordinary

sus_head_SSSCRecently, I was struck by my lack of empathy with a colleague, not to mention my total lack of compassion and non-violent speech in a recent discussion in which we were at odds on a particular matter of great import to me. He tried to cajole me by saying he valued my “gifts” which just made me angrier. I felt patronized, threatened.

And now, I find, that I wake from dreams where I am writing a letter of apology.

Not for my opinion because it is an educated and hard won opinion and I struggle with living as I “believe”. No, not that, but I feel I do need to apologize for my unkindness, my lack of compassion and empathy. He has the right to his opinion and he will have to live with it – as wrong as I “know” it to be.

This incident got me thinking (again) of why humans have this huge need to be “right” over the need and goodness of being kind. Why do we do what we know that we do not want done to us. Why is the Golden Rule so difficult a path to follow?

A while back, I misspoke, who knows why, and I called someone who I love more than words can say, “pedestrian”. I was agreeing with a previous comment about that person lacking “passion” in any particular thing including reading which, by the way, he does incessantly and has since a wee boy.

I have been punished exceedingly for this slip of the tongue. And have berated my old, too full brain for not finding the exact right word. And I have struggled to find just exactly what that word might be, or more to the point, what that word might have been.

Ordinary.

Perhaps that is the word.

Average isn’t quite right, though it just might fit. Conventional? Everyday? Teen? Teen might work because often teens give off an air of disinterest in anything to the adults in their lives; adults, who are just as “average” and “boring” as the word “pedestrian” might imply.

But ordinary can raise the hackles too.

Polls often show that most people believe they are “above average” See a LiveScience poll featured on CBS news in February 2013 with the comment,

“The phenomenon, known as illusory superiority, is so stubbornly persistent that psychologists would be surprised if it didn’t show up in their studies, said David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell who has studied the effect for decades.”

Yes, no one likes to be called “ordinary” or “average” or “mundane” or (to my chagrin) “pedestrian”.

Kristin Neff comments on this as a danger to our perceived self worth and credits it with our need for “self esteem” which means that we are “above average” and hence have more worth than someone else. Her work centres around self-compassion. In this video she says, “It’s not okay to be average. It’s considered an insult to be average.” So, we have to puff ourselves up to have self-esteem. And there’s the rub. We have to be “over someone” who may be average. And mostly we are just average. Somewhere in the middle. Not outstanding.

Average, according to the Oxford online dictionary, means

A number expressing the central or typical value in a set of data, in particular, the mode, median, or (most commonly) the mean, which is calculated by dividing the sum of the values in the set by their number.

or

An amount, standard, level, or rate regarded as usual or ordinary. 

Usual or ordinary. Average is usual or ordinary. And that pretty much sums up much of life. And many or most of us. Most of the time.

I have knit for a long time, I am a pretty good knitter; many say I am very good. But on a spectrum of knitters, I am average, not outstanding. I am average at most of what I do. Sometimes, I am well below average. Sometimes I am between the middle and the top of the heap. But I am still just average. That is not going to ever convince me to stop knitting.

So, I ask, “Why is that a negative or pejorative thing?”

Simply put, according to Neff’s theory, because it attacks our self-worth. And it attacks our self-worth because our self-worth is shaky, rooted in being better than. It’s patriarchal and hierarchical. Something which has negative consequences for most of us.

Historically. it might be seen as the basis for what we call in modern theological terms, “Empire”. Star Wars fans might understand better than most that empire is dangerous. Empire is dangerous because it is an autocracy. Autocracy is dangerous because (again I turn to Oxford online) it is:

“A system of government by one person with absolute power.”

One person, historically, usually a man, with absolute power. You may have heard, “Power corrupts. Absolute power, corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton) So we fear this. And when we fear, our reptilian brain kicks in. When our reptilian brain kicks in, we stop thinking and we act. Usually we act in less than brilliant ways. More often, we react. And again, we react badly, more often than not.

If only one person has all the “beans” the rest of us go hungry.

It seems to me then that mindfulness and self-compassion is needed.

I need to cut myself some slack. I need to forgive myself. I need to understand that although I am average in most things, I have worth. Each of us has worth.

When I practice self-compassion, I am able to be more mindful. I am able to be more compassionate. I am able to empathize.

If only there were a way to take back my words.

Hmmmm, seems there is.

Apologize. A good first step.

Now to get down to writing that letter.

Maybe more than one.

To ponder
Just an ordinary spider web…because “Every moment of Light and Dark is a miracle” Walt Whitman

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More stones…

Sometimes, the worst wounds are invisible. But they still feel like stones. Hard. Unforgiving. Difficult to walk on.

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Today, I am missing my grands.

I used to be the one to get a wee girl off to Junior Kindergarten which involved brushing long golden hair and braiding it so that she looked like a Princess. Her mother does a much better job, but so far, I’ve passed muster.

Her older brother is in his last year of elementary school…sigh…he is growing up so fast.

Her younger brother is nearly 3 and like his older brother sensitive and introverted. Like me. We click!

Our wee girl is spunky and very extroverted. She enjoys the social aspect of school…All those new friends! She is loving that.

Do you remember your kindergarten days?

I do…mostly.

I loved going to school. We all walked in a big group to the school. We had to cross a couple very busy streets and there were traffic lights and crossing guards to ensure our safety.

I had read all the Dick and Jane readers by the second week of school, so they just gave me the whole stack!

But you see, I grew up in a Boarding House. Not what you might think of. Nothing like the kinds of boarding houses I see clients living in nowadays.

It was like a big family. I was the only child with a mother who went to work every day (or so it seemed) and was on call 24/7. She was a police matron. One of only two in the border city where I was born. Where she was born.

It is a long story. Not what I wanted to talk about today.

But that old schoolyard rhyme said different. So, we felt conflicted and confused. Why did it hurt so much, when “names will never hurt me.” That was just bullshit bravado. We were being primed to inflict the second arrow, as the Buddhists say. We were beating ourselves up for hurting. We felt we were weak. We blamed ourselves for our inadequacies because all the other kids said words just washed off them like water off a duck’s back. We never talked to anyone else because we didn’t want to appear weak or defective or stupid or whatever. And they didn’t talk because they had all the same fears. The same hurt and the same fears and the same confusion arguing with them in their heads like angry monkeys fighting over a small scrap of food. The food was actually worth. The food was actually self-acceptance.

And we were all starving. We were all starving for a little compassion. But no one of us even knew what compassion was. Maybe we thought Jesus or Buddah or Moses or David or Ghandi deserved and were capable of giving compassion, but not ordinary people like the ones that we lived with day by day by day.

Lots of sayings we absorbed in childhood were just plain lies. And we bought them – hook line and sinker. Not because we were stupid or weak or weird. Well, I was weird, but I’ve learned that that is not necessarily a defect.

That is beside the point. I digress. I digress a lot. Still, I get there, and I enjoy the journey through all the detours.

But maybe you don’t. You want to get right down to it and you want the answer. Clear. Precise. Quick. You want the apology and you want it now.

Sorry, answers aren’t like that. Neither are apologies. They are walks down a crooked lane. Through a woods. With tree roots growing into the path and little animal holes that you can turn your ankle on.

But if you wear good hiking boots and are willing to come along…together we can wordscape our way into an inner landscape that really reflects the real you.

Under all the scrapes and sprains that words have inflicted on you over the years. You can write your way whole … like the day you arrived. Except you’ll have better hair and wardrobe. At the least you can have more of a say in what you look like. Even if no one will come and braid your hair like a Princess.

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Honesty …

GoingInwardInvite_HonestyI haven’t posted in a long while.

That isn’t because I am lazy or that I am particularly busy.

Something much larger has captured my heart and soul, mind and body.

Life has been a bit of an uphill ski lately and I’m not going into that here or now. Let’s just say my focus has been more inward, more thought filled, more solitary. I didn’t want company. I didn’t need community. I just needed to sit and ponder. That pondering bit is from Michael Nobbs from One Thing Today list. His blog “Sustainably Creative” is on a hiatus until March, because he is “pondering” which sometimes slides into “worrying” and I find it comforting that someone else is having a bit of a rough go. I don’t mean that. I mean that it is less lonely and isolating to know that someone else is, like me, wading through molasses emotionally … maybe even physically. And that that someone else is dealing with it kindly, compassionately … even self-compassionately.

I guess what I find most comforting is that he is stressing “self care”, which, though it is a rather amoebae-like concept, is often critical to maintaining body, mind, soul, and emotional self. Best of all, he is not all words and tough love. For me, particularly at this point, that would be destructive and demoralizing. So I am avoiding any and all blogs that stress that kind of “motivating” strategy.

I choose to follow his example and treat myself kindly and “move at the pace of guidance”. He has encouraged me to do what I feel is right for me. Now. Here.

This season, this now, this here, the Northern Hemisphere is well suited to that. I offer to you the opportunity to move at your best pace and listen to the season’s wisdom. Wherever you are. Whatever your now. Whatever your place. Whatever your pace.

It’s not a race. It’s not a competition. It’s your life. And it is beautiful just as it is.

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Images compliments of Jeff Suchak, Mythic Landscape Photography

 

a few thoughts about today

pinksocksFeet up the wall in celebration.

Today, I submitted another assignment in my course Writing and the New Media: Creating Life Histories. It took me days and days to pare it down and then I still had to attach an outline of the workshop I was discussing. Words rarely fail me…but they do threaten to drown me and my readers at times. Le sigh

At one time in my life the précis was a prized skill. What happened?

Oh, I know, life.

We are studying life histories.

It’s hard to condense a life into a few … or even a clean 900 pages. Maybe that’s why so many of us shy away from writing down our stories. First, we don’t know where to start. Then, we don’t think we’ll finish before life itself is finished. Another sigh…

And then I got to be a part of another Oasis gathering. Thanks, Jen Louden! And to all who come together to be so supportive of each other. I do appreciate you.

Today our topic was the cheery subject of “Resignation”. But with all the prompts, I came around to see that resignation can be a good thing — active not passive. A choice to accept what is and say “this too”. Not in a helpless way. Because it is certainly because we have no power to change things. But accepting some things that we cannot change can impel and compel us to find ways around that.

I’ll give you a little ferinstance here:

I have a bedroom that needs painting. It is so ugly it is painful to wake up and see the wall in front of me. Yes, it is.

Today, I decided to resign myself to the fact that I have been avoiding the job. I don’t even have a list of reasons. But I have been procrastinating like a pro. When the time came to write on “If (blank) were never “fixed” then I could try/learn…” that wall jumped into the forefront.

I brainstormed …

I could wall paper the wall behind me

I could paint just the wall I look at when I wake up

I could wallpaper that wall

I could hang a 40 x 50 print from my husband’s next photography show there

I could find an odorless paint and paint the darn thing

None of those ideas had come to me before. Why? Because I was resigned to being a sluggard and facing every new day knowing that because the evidence was staring me in the face.

What I learned from this is that I have to get busy and workshop with folks nearby. I know how to do this. I “invented” Wordscapes. It’s a shame not to share this.

Wish me luck! Or contact me to see what I am talking about.

I’d love to have you in my little circle.

Now that the first snow has fallen…let’s hunker down for the winter and practice some great self-care.

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WordsFest 2017

This is WordsFest weekend. Very busy but I did manage to write a short piece to celebrate my experience.

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Experience of WordsFest 2017

Kwe kwe

this land, this land

on which we stand

honoured for decades of centuries

historified with just two short paragraphs

in a back wall, hidden, not truly celebrated.

I hang my head, apologize

to Mother Earth who gives me life

I am

Kontiwennenhá:wi (in English, Carries Words),

Haudenosaunee, (you might say, Iroquois)

Kahniakehaka kwe, (you might say, Mohawk woman – just never call me “squaw”),

A’no’:wara (you might say, Turtle Clan)

out of Tyendeniga (not the Township in Eastern Ontario)

Though you don’t notice me

I am —

the Em dash a nod to Emily

But wait…

I am

factory whistles

soft brk brk of chickens

joyous gospel choirs

I am

Hulda’s song

rolling waves

cormorant cries

the hint of an Acadian accent

I am

lowing of cows coming home each evening

rustle of wildflowers

hum of bees in a September apple orchard

I am

heart beat rhythm of water drums

crackle of real sugar on snow each spring

wagon wheels rolling to a place unknown

I am

glacial wind

thundering wave

muted weeping of stunted trees

Gaelic hymns

I am

a cacophony of mysterious music

love songs in many languages

enveloped in the lullaby of every ancestor

this melody – my DNA

I hear your words

spoken

sung

written down and signed

so I can carry them home…

And now I am wordified.

Automagically

I am refreshed, renewed, rewired.

Redo!

Encore!

 

Deep bow of gratitude,

Nia:wen for reading this.

Just a word…

2016-7Some of you may recall the old chestnut chanted around elementary schoolyards for longer than I can remember, “Sticks and stones / may break my bones / but names will never hurt me!”

What I am wondering is why we ever bought the sentiment. Because words can hurt. Words can cause great damage. Families are rendered asunder by them. Communities are diminished by them. And it would seem now that even nations can be divided in ways that we never imagined.

Name calling is something we expect from tired, hungry, maybe exasperated children. Surely, as adults, we have an arsenal of honourable, kindly, conscientious – even thought-full – words to state our case and sway our opponents or make our case.

Not so long ago, our predecessors memorized poetry to make their point, to soothe a sorrow, to cheer on their comrades. I know we don’t all have the luxury of reading and writing to build our vocabularies. I know that we don’t all have the luxury of time in which to make or state our case. I know that sometimes we may be tired, hungry and exasperated even though our childhoods are long in the past. But we do owe it to our friends, neighbours, fellow citizens to try to consider their point of view. We owe them as we do our enemies to be civil and consult with others to come to a consensus, or if not consensus, at least make compromises.

Parker Palmer speaks of coming into a circle to discuss options and voting like this. In order to “come into a circle”, it would seem that you have to be in the same room, in actual fact, or virtually as in online conference. But for very important decisions and to really know each other, it would seem that the optimum would be to be in the same room, preferably in comfy chairs in a circle with no barriers to hide behind. Indeed, Parker Palmer says that to solve a problem, we almost certainly need to engage in honest conversation in the same room. Because to do otherwise we are just “kvetching” which is just “a cheap excuse for honest engagement with whatever is troubling us.”

Yet even when making the most impactful decisions and building or tearing down relationships, it seems far more popular to spit epithets like watermelon seeds. Because, nowadays, we have Twitter so we can name call and deprecate with the protection of distance using only 147 characters. This is cowardly, true, but integrity and truth don’t necessarily enter into the algorithm.

I work with words. My name is “Carries words”, so I feel that I must speak this piece and then I will keep my peace.

Please, as we say to the toddlers and kindergartners “use your words” to solve the problems we face. Use your best and kindest words. And use those words honestly with integrity. Whether you are the Leader of a large and powerful Nation, or you are just some “ordinary Joe” like me. I make you this promise that I will do this. Will you join me?

And a PS if you can’t get into the same room, get on the phone…let your voice be heard. We all need to be a part of the democratic process…or as the Washington Post’s banner reads…”Democracy dies in darkness”.

Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak, Mythic Landscape

Good follow-up reading:

Heather Plett

Why a Circle is a Core Group Process for emerging Participatory Leadership

Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy

PS …I am Canadian, we spell honour, neighbour, and colour with a u.

Peace, out!

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