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START NOW.

Start celebrating with abandon ~ the big things, the small things, the messes and mayhem.

Start saying what you mean despite fear, without apology.

Start speaking your TRUTH.

Start allowing. Receiving.

Start opening to the FLOW of SOURCE.

Start for your babies. Start so those precious ones can see how it’s done. So THE WORLD can see how it’s done.

Start being OPEN to the adventure, to the fear, to the unknown.

Start believing in your POTENTIAL that will never expire.

Start listening to the deep well of knowing that whispers in the quiet moments.

Start asking for what you NEED.

START ASKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT.

START NOW. 

Start doing what makes you smile, what lights you up.

Start saying NO to what drains, disappoints, disturbs and distracts you.

Start saying YES TO YOUR SOUL PURPOSE.

Start saying YES TO YOUR WORTH, your unshakable worth, sweet-pea.

START NOW.

What are you ready to start? We want to know.

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Blueberries = Happiness

I believe one should start one’s day with a smidgen of bliss. I think it helps set the tone for what is to come.  I have discovered blueberries in a big way since coming to Vermont and this little jar is not only a jar of blueberry spread —— (and an excellent source of fiber as the label plainly shows) but is also a little jar of Happiness ~ yes, with a capital H.  Not a bowl full of the delicious little darlings, to be sure, but in a pinch and when one is out of the actual fruit ~ wonderful.  It will stay stocked in my fridge even after we trek to one of the pick-your-own farms close to town.

Blueberries. The little globes of blue are perfect. There is no other way to describe them. They are without flaw. Mother Earth outdid herself with the creation of these little jewels.  My personal goal for this week is to locate a bottle of Honey Wine with Blueberries ~ a mead made by Artesano’s, a winery down the road.  (http://www.artesanomead.com)  Their website says of the mead:

“Blueberries contribute an amazing amount of character and depth to mead. The soft tannins and high acidity add a complexity that will enchant your taste buds. This vibrantly colored mead, made from five varieties of Vermont grown blueberries and pure raw honey, pairs well with white meat, grilled vegetables or a fresh spinach salad.”

Just the word mead sounds magical to me, and then add the word blueberry . . . . close your eyes and say it together, slowly and let the visions fill your head ~ blueberry mead.  My overactive imagination conjures up fairies to celebrate the union of the two, my knight at my side in a wooded glen sipping from gold goblets ~ encrusted with jewels, of course.

I am in good company when considering the simple bliss of blueberries. Even Robert Frost seemed to be taken in with their magic. . . “The blue’s but a mist from the breath of the wind . . . ”  It seems that Robert and I have something in common. Blueberries = bliss.

Blueberries
by Robert Frost
“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”
“I don’t know what part of the pasture you mean.”
“You know where they cut off the woods–let me see–
It was two years ago–or no!–can it be
No longer than that?–and the following fall
The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall.”
“Why, there hasn’t been time for the bushes to grow.
That’s always the way with the blueberries, though:
There may not have been the ghost of a sign
Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine,
But get the pine out of the way, you may burn
The pasture all over until not a fern
Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick,
And presto, they’re up all around you as thick
And hard to explain as a conjuror’s trick.”
“It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit.
I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot.
And after all really they’re ebony skinned:
The blue’s but a mist from the breath of the wind,
A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand,
And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned.”
“Does Mortenson know what he has, do you think?”
“He may and not care and so leave the chewink
To gather them for him–you know what he is.
He won’t make the fact that they’re rightfully his
An excuse for keeping us other folk out.”
“I wonder you didn’t see Loren about.”
“The best of it was that I did. Do you know,
I was just getting through what the field had to show
And over the wall and into the road,
When who should come by, with a democrat-load
Of all the young chattering Lorens alive,
But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive.”
“He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown?”
“He just kept nodding his head up and down.
You know how politely he always goes by.
But he thought a big thought–I could tell by his eye–
Which being expressed, might be this in effect:
‘I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect,
To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame.'”
“He’s a thriftier person than some I could name.”
“He seems to be thrifty; and hasn’t he need,
With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed?
He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say,
Like birds. They store a great many away.
They eat them the year round, and those they don’t eat
They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet.”
“Who cares what they say? It’s a nice way to live,
Just taking what Nature is willing to give,
Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow.”
“I wish you had seen his perpetual bow–
And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned,
And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned.”
“I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
I met them one day and each had a flower
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower;
Some strange kind–they told me it hadn’t a name.”
“I’ve told you how once not long after we came,
I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth
By going to him of all people on earth
To ask if he knew any fruit to be had
For the picking. The rascal, he said he’d be glad
To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad.
There had been some berries–but those were all gone.
He didn’t say where they had been. He went on:
‘I’m sure–I’m sure’–as polite as could be.
He spoke to his wife in the door, ‘Let me see,
Mame, we don’t know any good berrying place?’
It was all he could do to keep a straight face.
“If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him,
He’ll find he’s mistaken. See here, for a whim,
We’ll pick in the Mortensons’ pasture this year.
We’ll go in the morning, that is, if it’s clear,
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet.
It’s so long since I picked I almost forget
How we used to pick berries: we took one look round,
Then sank out of sight like trolls underground,
And saw nothing more of each other, or heard,
Unless when you said I was keeping a bird
Away from its nest, and I said it was you.
‘Well, one of us is.’ For complaining it flew
Around and around us. And then for a while
We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile,
And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout
Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out,
For when you made answer, your voice was as low
As talking–you stood up beside me, you know.”
“We sha’n’t have the place to ourselves to enjoy–
Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy.
They’ll be there to-morrow, or even to-night.
They won’t be too friendly–they may be polite–
To people they look on as having no right
To pick where they’re picking. But we won’t complain.
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves.”

The Crazy Lady Has Left the Building

The past eleven months have been a fabulous, frightening, blissified, roller coaster ride for me and my three kid-lings. I went a little crazy last August (according to some) and sold my house in the Southern California desert (a town 15 minutes from the Mexican border and the epicenter for the 2010 Easter 7.2 earthquake).

and packed all of our earthly belongings into a HUGE Budget truck.

The kids and I and a wonderful friend loaded 2 dogs, 5 cats and 2 ferrets into the van, cashed out my retirement, crossed our fingers, took a deep breath and headed east to Vermont. We were headed to a town I’d never seen before. A town where I had no job, no job prospects, no home, no nothing. We did, however, have our sense of humor and hope.

We arrived and within a week rented a farmhouse built around 1860 from the most wonderful landlord/lady. They exude such warm, positive energy and even lowered the rent so that I could have the house. They said that I needed to be in this house ~ this house with a stained glass window in a quiet neighborhood at the top of a hill where I can grow raspberries and hydrangeas and listen to the crows argue with the blue jays.

I am learning about transitions and learning that I must embrace them. We’ve experienced our first year of seasons ~  Mother Earth cycling from the hyperactive exuberance of spring to the deathlike, calm of winter.

I have been dealing with my own physical transition into the next phase of my life as I turn 50. I am also dealing with the emotional transition of being a mom who has home schooled her children for the last 20 years and now see two of them off to high school and the oldest off to college.  There is also the emotional transition of becoming the parent of three children who have stepped into the early years of their adulthood and now know everything about everything.

I am transitioning from a worrier with chaotic thoughts and to-do lists that never get done to someone who seeks stillness. I am learning to listen to those   Goddess whispers that I have so often ignored.

I am doing my best to move from being a cautious spiritual soul to someone who is learning to trust the wisdom and guidance of the Universe for all that we need. I am transitioning from a life lived externally to one that is focused on the me that is inside, my core, my passion and purpose, my writing.

I am learning that transitions are part of life and that Vermont may not be a forever thing, but for now it is my bliss.

Do what you love.

Know your own bone;

gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.

~ Henry David Thoreau~

~ The Yarn Brothel

I lived in New Orleans for a while as a child and have been back a handful of times since then.  It is one of those cities that call to you, like a siren and I can see myself returning at intervals for the rest of my life, if only for a beignet and a cup of coffee at Cafe du Monde.

The French Quarter holds a special fascination for me and I was relieved when it survived Katrina in tact.  The architecture and mix of people, the energy that interacts with the air coming off the Mississippi is singular. I have never felt that particular feeling in any other city.  And in the mix of the hedonistic nooks and crannies lining the streets, it is only fitting that The Quarter Stitch would be among them at 630 Rue de Chartres.

In the summer heat, the smells of  horse manure and spilled beer mix with po’boys and roasting coffee and you push through a door that could be at least 200 years old into a yarn store.

I don’t needle-point.

I don’t knit.

Yet stepping into the shop, I knew that I wanted to.

And I knew that this was no ordinary yarn store.  It was a yarn brothel.  Something as sedate and matronly as knitting could not arouse such a response.

The door jingles as you push it open.  Punched tin ornaments and ribbons sway as you step inside.  Upon entering, you stop and take in the scene before you – an explosion of color that draws you further into the small two room store.  Needle-point canvases of all sizes line the walls and conjure thoughts of castles or elegant country manors with heraldic crests or Victorian ladies sewing over tea.

There are completed projects to admire — felted hats and scarves,  sweaters and jackets that beg to be touched, showing the prospective customer a hint of the choices available.  Wool? Silk? Nubby? Frizzed? And the colors . . . so many colors.  There are dollops of color displayed throughout; gem-tones shot with gold or silver thread, purples and blues with iridescent threads rolled into little balls like magical sea anemones, pale yellows and pinks and lilacs that seem to be the color of light.

I don’t know the difference between a Noro Kureyon yarn or Koigu.  I just knew that this was a magical place.  And I’ve been wondering why.  And I’ve come to realize that this shop isn’t really selling yarn.

It’s selling possibilities.

Spinners and weavers have been revered in mythology for centuries.  One can’t imagine that the creation of socks and undergarments or even a cloak of many colors would garner such admiration.  But perhaps the admiration is really at the act of creating something out of a proverbial ball of nothing.  The creation business: cooking, sewing, gardening, birth, is for the most part, an arena for women.  Of course, with the change in culture and perspectives, this has become muddled.  But this store felt like the entrance to that world past, where one really wouldn’t be surprised to see the Fates in the back room, weaving the destiny of mankind.  In this old building, there was an air of holy reverence for the power of creation and possibility.

There were only women in the store the day I was there, speaking in hushed voices, sharing ideas, touching and judging the weight and color of a canvas or a skein like women have done for thousands of years.  Perhaps they were wondering if they could create  something as immaculate as Arachne did, something so magnificent that it would make a goddess jealous.  A creation that  would be treasured and handed down and secure your place in eternity . . . or if not eternity, at least for a generation or two.

With the excitement of a prospective project, you stuff the skeins into your basket and your connection to time is assured.  As you check out or ask questions you lean against the massive counter on which there was , at least the day I was there, a little blind dog, white and fluffy and hard to see among the fibers that littered the desktop.  He lay there like an over-large skein of white yarn himself,  a Homer-esque sentinel to the magical.

The experience was sheer bliss.  I do not look at a skein of yarn today without remembering that store and I smile.  As I make plans to finally learn to knit, I think of all the things I do –  the obligations and responsibilities and there cannot be room enough for one more activity.

But I remind myself that this is not a waste of time.

Bliss never is.

 

 

 

The Quarter Stitch Needlepoint
630 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 522-4451

Friends, Dog Food and The Writing Process

I have a can of Alpo sitting on my desk.  My friend, Stacy has issued a challenge which I foolishly accepted.  We will write 50,000 words in a month’s time.  Whoever does not will have to eat a can of Alpo.

Yes- I call this woman my friend.

The result?  I am writing like mad.  One, because I am tired of not being published and two, I know she will make sure I eat the damned thing if I fail to produce.  But, dspite the fact that there is a possibility that I may have to chow down on a can of Prime Cuts – Stew with Beef & Vegetables in Beef Gravy, I like that she is there, poking me with a metaphorical stick.  She is someone who will call my bluff and remind me of what I’m capable of.

Her son got married on Friday.  I have watched her navigate her way through this event and the wide range of emotions swirling about this major change with grace.  At the reception, someone asked me how I knew her – easy- she’s a fellow writer and we belonged to the same writing group in San Diego and she was homeschooling her children at the time, just as I was.  We had ‘stuff’ in common.  How long had I know her?  I blurted out – about fifteen years.  But then I stumbled about thinking that was not possible.  Had it been that long?  We had been friends during the birth of my third child, he’s 14 and during my divorce, her divorce – I quickly cataloged our friendship by the events in our lives and yes, it was true.  Maybe a bit longer.  And I was silently amazed at this – not because I had not thought we would be able to continue a friendship for that length of time, but because it has been as though there has been no time at all.  This realization reminded me of an Einstein quote:  “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour.  Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute.  That’s relativity.”

And that’s why we need to focus on those things that give us bliss, that make life sweet and elongate our lives.  Those friendships and chocolate and that pair of new shoes and the sound of mockingbirds fighting in the back yard or the joy of snuggling up with a book on a rainy day makes our lives longer – erasing our hours and in a sense, time.  And I am learning that, in turn, we should run from those people or places or bad marriages or jobs  that make us feel as if we are holding our breath while in a shark tank – every second magnified and troublesome making time swirl past us at a dizzying speed, every second noted, often with dread.

Stacy was lovely at the reception and I could tell the day had been wearing on her.  There was a mix of emotions on her face and when talking about her son and his life and this choice, I told her that she had done a good job.  And then moments later, she began to cry.  I’m sure this was because she had passed another parenting hurdle with success – (Sidenote: Once I thought that when you reach adulthood – you’ll know everything – but alas, no.  There’s always something new – kids in college, marriage, grandchildren, and the occasional surprise -“Mom, I’m thinking about not going back to school.  I’d like to go to Africa to do charity work” – There are firsts at EVERY age.)  During her son’s first dance with his bride, I think Stace realized that she  had passed a ‘mom’ test and another first.  I think she realized that she had indeed, done a good job.  And the look on his face – the radiant happiness and the control with which he manuevered the reception was obvious to all that he was ready to step into manhood.

As parents, most of us are concerned with the quality of parenting we do.  Some of us are vividly aware of how our words, actions and decisions affect those who have been born to us and in my talks with Stace, we see that sometimes those decisions and actions can cause a ripple over generations.  And not always in a good way, but we hope.  And we hope to have friends that can make time fly and reflect our lives back to us in a good way.

And she has most definitely done that for me.  Alpo or no.

Mix up, Change up

Yesterday, my part of the world experienced a rather sizable earthquake of 7.2.  As earthquakes go, this one was hard to ignore.  Over 45 or so seconds, the things on my office desk went from vibrating to shaking to bouncing to jumping and then back to a slight hum of vibration and then stillness.  It was dizzying and unsettling and surprising and scary.   

And it reminded me of my journey over the last few months.  Finding and focusing on the bliss in my life is becoming easier.  Being thankful when things are going well is something I can do.  But adding that element of unknown, that element of fear and finding the bliss in that – well, that’s when things get a bit iffy.  And as I push myself to be more, I experience that same sensation internally that I felt in the moment of the earthquake.  As things and relationships in my life begin to tremble and shake and change, I find that catch in my breath and the instinct to step back and away.  The movement causes fear.     

And I am realizing that fear is a major stumbling block when it comes to my writing and is something that I can no longer ignore or dance around if I want to move my writing into an actual career.   And I am realizing I cannot separate who I want to be as a person and who I want to be as a writer.  I must embrace both parts just as I must embrace the unknown.   

Just as my dog barks at the after-shocks that make our shoulders tense up and our breath catch,  I find myself metaphorically barking at my upsets and unplanned episodes that have gotten me off track.  In Art & Fear, by David Bayles & Ted Orland: “Making art can feel dangerous and revealing.  Making art is dangerous and revealing.  Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be.” 

Marianne Williamson said that our greatest fear is that we are “powerful beyond measure.”  I think she’s onto something – that our movement into that direction is overwhelming with possibility that it stops us dead in our tracks.  

In the middle of the quake, all we could do was hold on and hope for the best.  I think that’s the life lesson here as well, both in my jumping off the cliff into a new life and making those brave decisions that allow movement and change into my writing.   Hold on and hope for the best.

My Boy ~

My son reminds me of every thing that is good in a man.

My son reminds me to slow down and makes me smile.  Everyone needs someone in their life like that.

I am lucky I have him.