Glad to Be Awake for This

It had been raining for days, or maybe weeks. After a long day of work and a dentist’s appointment for a cracked filling, I trudged up the hill to pick up several bags of rice. The cat had tipped a vase of wilted flowers onto my partner’s laptop, so this was my last ditch attempt to dry the thing out and bring it back to life. The unpredictable wind made sure my umbrella was either reduced to half its size where I held it at a 90-degree angle in front of my body, or it was turned helplessly inside out. I threw myself through the doors of our corner grocery store and stood there for a moment, dripping and panting. I gave a bedraggled smile to the woman behind the counter and said in my bad Spanish, Continue reading


A Well Spell for After a Dry Time

Are you ready?
If you are unsure, here are some clues:
   You may be experiencing a hunger pang above the stomach,
      a heartbeat lurching forward,
      a tug at the corner of your eye
      accompanied by a whisper saying,
      “Psst! Hey kid, what’s that over there?”
      an unheard song settling in around the ears
      like a ringed spacecraft whirring as it lands in the fog.
Are you ready?
Don't put it off
Let it wake you in the quiet hours of the morning--
(whatever time of day that visits you)
let it get you out of bed. 
Let the flashlight of your mind’s eye click on.
Hear the crackle of grass underfoot
as you approach the well you just knew to be spent dry.
Put your hands on the stone wall around it
--don’t drop your light!—-
Remember this place?
Is it a solid circle in your history? Is it new to you?
Can you feel the handprints of others
   who have passed by?
Don’t linger too long at the edge, dear,
this is no moment for overthinking.
Just lean over and feel the cool air of the unknown
   breathing up to meet you—
   to get inside of you.
Now is the moment for feeling the quiver in your gut
   and wiggling your foot over the abyss.
Let your toes find the top rung of the ladder leaning nearby.
Steady. Now—
rung by rung, ease on down.
The dim light of the known world in a spot above you will remain
   even when it grows smaller.
You don’t need that flashlight here, you can feel your way,
   step by step, learning
      the pictures your mind plays out on the dark walls…
      the vibrations of your movements on the thing holding you up…
      the hum at the edges of the echoes of your breath…
      the scent of the wet earth stories closer and closer…
      the taste of the thrill in your own tongue…
      the still presence of the things you just know
        without knowing how you know…
until your foot hits water.
First, make a cup of your hands and take a drink
   that goes all the way down.
That’s enough for now.
You don’t get to stay here in this underworld of dreams,
   though you may now be falling in love with
     the visions you see on the walls around you,
     the way the rippling water plays with
         the quiet music living in this chamber.
   though you may be tempted to gulp down the lot of it—
     suddenly realizing how parched you’ve been…
Now. Steady.
--Don't drop your light!--
Find the bucket.
Yeah, the one you threw down here—
   however long ago that was when you
      cut the rope and cursed
         and listened for it to clatter to the bottom empty.
         It did clatter…didn’t it?
         You were so sure there was nothing left...
Find the bucket in one piece, hold on tight, and start your climb.
Watch the circle of the shared world grow to meet you again.
When you reach the opening, find a length of new rope,
   and wind it at the crank.
   This, too, is part of the trip.
Tie your bucket to the end.
See it swing like a bell
   announcing where you’ve been
   and that here, again, you have a true and useful wealth to share.

A Spell for Unclogging the Works

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few weeks about unfinished business. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing an essay about being on the other side of the anguish I used to feel at having nothing to show for myself except the shoeboxes of poems written on scraps of paper, shelves of completed journals, 100 pages of an unfinished novel, a one-woman show only ever roughly shown to a couple of friends, another one-woman show that would never see the light of day, 250 pages of a memoir I couldn’t bring myself to edit, and gawd knows how many little essays and short stories that would never be loved by anyone but me.

I’m not writing that essay today. Today I’m remembering how it feels to wander around feeling like my inner gears are all gummed up. Continue reading

Letting Die

No, no, the Life/Death/Life forces are a part of our own nature, an inner authority that knows the steps, knows the dance of Life and Death. It is composed of the parts of ourselves who know when something can, should, and must be born and when it must die. –Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

I woke up in the pale hours of Thursday morning and could not move. A pain in my shoulders and neck that I’d been trying to ignore for more than a week had completely taken hold in a fierce pinch. Shifting my head or body even a fraction of an inch in any direction shot zings all the way into my fingers and feet.

Later that day, despite my protests that it was too much trouble and I could just wait it out, my mother delivered me to a massage therapist (who, incidentally, turned out to also be a polarity [energy] therapist).

“I have this persistent knot in my back behind my heart,” I told her once I was face-down on the table. “It feels like it’s the source of this problem.”

“‘A persistent knot,'” she said. Continue reading

Showing Up and Hearing the Fear

In my previous post, I mentioned a writing project I’ve been attempting to show up to every day for the past many months. Most days I am successful–in showing up, I mean. Maybe some people are gifted with follow-through bravery, but seeing a long-term solo project to completion without losing steam has always been difficult for me. It’s been so difficult, in fact, that some low-lying fears have had the chance to take root in my idle moments; sometimes I can feel them rustling in the slightest breeze, “Maybe you just can’t!” (But more on that voice in a minute.)boot-1198652_960_720

I have several tactics that have helped me keep showing up to my creative work these days:

Continue reading

Cultivating Beginner’s Mind

You might not guess this about me, but I hate looking stupid.

I don’t mind looking silly, but I have real hang ups with looking like I don’t know what I’m doing when I feel like I “should” be on my game. This unfortunate sense of pride has, at times, kept me from: stopping for directions when I’m lost, asking friends for help when I’m sad, and putting myself out there in important ways when I could grow (I cannot tell you how many partially begun blog domains I’ve abandoned across the internet).

Then I started taking a pottery class.

I’ve always wanted to learn to throw a pot on a wheel, and 6 months ago, my schedule finally allowed me an opening to do so. About 15 minutes into the first class, Continue reading