Be Good, Be True
April 22, 2013
Watching my youngest daughter nursing my grandson in the chair in which I nursed her a quarter of a century ago, time bends and I see back and back and even further back- me nursing her, my mother and me, my grandmother and my mother and so on, like nested matryoshka dolls. . .
“Be good. Be true.” My daughter has these words tattooed on her forearms. She embodies both of these virtues. She had herself marked with these words around the time of her father’s and my divorce. “Rather pointed,” I smugly thought at the time, “and not toward me.”
Now I see the myriad ways we betray each other all the time. . . and she would not be like either of us. She will be reminded whenever she lifts her beautiful baby boy to her breast, whenever she takes her husband in her arms, whenever she reaches out to keep them from harm. . . She will not forget.
“We are given the magic in the beginning,” she tells me, “so that we’ll know what it’s like. But after that we have to make our own.”
And this; “On paper motherhood seems impossible – and then somehow, you manage.”
I watch her with amazement. Overwhelmed, tired to the bone and yet serene in her love and confident in her ability to manage. Where did she find these qualities? How did she know to dig deep and deeper still? I sit rapt at her feet, as if at the feet of a great master, this daughter of mine.
Woman Who Ran With a Wolf
July 14, 2012
I rescued a wolf. Or should I say, she rescued me?
Shiloh’s life converged with mine when her wild, gold eyes met my brown ones through a chain-link fence in Mississippi and we were both forever changed. She was held by a short chain and I by my own pain and thoughts of limitation and feelings of abandonment. We both howled our heads off night and day in lamentation, impotently demanding freedom and completely unable to see how to attain it for ourselves. Occasionally, when she could, she would loose herself from her chains and terrorize the neighborhood pets. I did something like that too, from time to time, I suppose.
Her plight was complex and situational. Her captor didn’t mean her harm, but was overwhelmed in her own way and unable to see a better path for herself or Shiloh.
I was my own captor.
In the end, with a lot of help from a few people – a gypsy goddess, a wolfman,a recalcitrant captor, a nosy neighbor, a nice veterinarian, a Jungian analyst, and, of course, the fates and the omniscient Universe, Shiloh and I led each other to freedom.
On the heels of a hurricane, in a small silver sedan, we fled. She never menaced me at all. She seemed to be simply relieved that I had finally come to take her to a better place. Under a full moon, by a rushing stream, in a tiny cabin, we spent one night together. A woman and a wolf, lying side by side, freed and bound by their desire to be free, slept and awoke to find themselves in a new day – a new life. She took up the song of the others at dawn, her new companions. And that song, that howling, lives in my heart and always will as a melodic reminder that freedom is, when we are ready, at hand and within our grasp.
Eventually I moved on, moved away from the wolf refuge in Tennessee where Shiloh found a new home. I don’t get back to see her as often as I would like, but when I do, she always remembers me and we’re glad to be together for awhile.
Many thanks to Sojourn Wolf Refuge and others like them for the good work they do, in the field of wolf and wolf-dog rescue and education.
“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”
Luscious Lloyds, Good Medicine
June 27, 2012
“The Tzutujil Maya of Guatemala say that dreaming is one wing of a butterfly and waking is the other. Each wing tells half the story of life to the other, mirroring each other ceaselessly to keep aloft. It is at the heart where the two wings meet, that the substance of us is ripened.” toko-pa turner, dream expert
What is this dreaming? We feel tired, we lay down in our beds, or on the couch, or maybe in a sun puddle in the green grass on a warm day, close our eyes and wake up in some strange, other world, of which we often have no memory at all when we return to this one.
Have you ever had a deja vu’ moment where you felt as if you’d been in this same situation before and then realized it’s a dream that you’re remembering? Have you ever been with someone in a dream and, upon awakening, felt as if you’d really been with them? Have you ever become conscious on this level, while dreaming on that level – as in saying to yourself, in your dream, “I am dreaming.”? Have you ever dreamed something and then it came true in this world? I don’t like those dreams much because then they all become suspect. Will I really fly, fall off a cliff, find myself in church naked, etc.?
I have several times had an experience that I share with my grandfather. My mother’s father was a lovely man. He was gentle and kind and very funny and women adored him. My grandmother’s friends called him Luscious Lloyd. He had dreams from which he woke up laughing and I do too. It is hard to explain how deeply healing and restorative these flights of fancy are and I feel so fortunate to have experienced them a few times. The dreams themselves are funny, yes, but not commensurate with the resulting deep, uncontrollable belly laughing. In the last one I had, which was a few months ago, I was standing by a field, watching a small girl stalk a raccoon. The girl had a camera and I understood that she wanted to take a close-up picture of the animal. She was wearing a dress and a hat and had on round glasses. I watched her creep slowly closer to the masked bandit, holding her camera at the ready. . . when suddenly, the raccoon stood on its hind legs, spun around holding its own camera and snapped a picture of the girl! I woke up laughing a deep, satisfying laugh. Unlike waking laughter, this seems to come from somewhere way down deep inside. And it permeates my whole being. My heart laughs, my spirit laughs, my mind laughs, my whole body laughs. It feels wonderful. It feels transcendent. It goes on and on until I drift back to sleep, smiling and chuckling to myself.
Has anyone else experienced this? I hope so. I wish it for everyone. I would love to hear from anybody else who’s ever had a Luscious Lloyd.
What’s the Buzz?
May 23, 2012
For some time now, I’ve felt a calling of sorts toward bees. Honeybees. In fact, during sitting meditation, a year or so ago, I had what I will call a vision. No, I did not actually ‘see’ with my eyes, but rather an image arose in my mind. A strong and vivid image that has not dulled one bit in all these months since. I ‘saw’ the innermost chamber of my own heart as a beautiful room with vaulted ceiling and walls made of honeycomb. Light poured in and the whole of it glowed a beautiful golden amber.
This compelling image, plus my growing awareness of the importance of the tiny creatures for our food and our very lives, and their recent distress due to the mysterious and widespread Colony Collapse Disorder, had created in me a bit of an obsession of late. In fact, I was seeing them everywhere! Bees and images of bees and references to bees. . . I had to find out whether this calling was a theoretical, symbolic one or an actual calling, so I signed up for the Western North Carolina beginner’s beekeeping school in Asheville.
A two day event, the school began on a Saturday in March. I awoke early and excited. I had reservations, but I hoped they would all be put to rest. The school took place at the craft center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful building in a lush setting. I had packed myself a picnic and a book to peruse over the lunch break.
I learned so many fascinating things about bees that day; They mate in the air, which must be exhilarating. So much so, in fact, that the males die upon completion of the act and fall to the earth, having completed their life’s purpose in one grand feat of aerial ecstasy. They communicate by dancing, waggling their little fuzzy butts in various ways to denote distance and direction of pollen and nectar stores. A decidedly matriarchal society, the 95% female population of the hive dispenses, rather violently, with the drones who do not die during mating.
Every being in the colony serves the queen and every being knows its purpose – highly specific and changing throughout the seasons. No bee strives to be something that it is not. Having been around for approximately 70 million years, bees are masters of evolution and adaptability.
And the honey that they produce is a miracle food.
For me though, at this time, keeping them just doesn’t seem feasible, requiring more time and money than I am willing to invest. I remain enamored and amazed and I am happy to report that they seem to thrive in my little piece of mountain heaven, with its ample supply of pollen-producing trees and flowers. For now I’ll be(e) a wild bee lover instead of a keeper. Maybe someday. . .
Be sure at your next meal to give thanks for the bees!
This Little Light of Mine: Thoughts on Ego Wrangling
April 14, 2012
When I told my good old friend M, (who is featured somewhat prominently in the book) about my forthcoming publishing deal, she did not hesitate in her response.
“Well, well, well. . . “ she drawled, sounding bemused, “Won’t this be an exercise in keeping the old ego in check.”
She knows me well. She knows my struggles. She knows my ego. She even knew my alter-ego when Gabriella, the ethereal hippie-chick/butterfly shape shifter surfaced all those years ago. But that’s another story. . .
“Your ego is just an idea implanted in your mind. It is poisonous. Your ego keeps driving you madder and madder.” Indian mystic Osho, said. I’ve studied and read and spent many an hour on the meditation mat and prayed in great and sincere ernest for help about it and my ego remains as strong and intractable as ever.
I have been confused about this issue my whole life. My mother extolled the virtues of pride. “Take pride in your appearance.” “Be proud of who you are.” “Have you no pride?” Sunday school teachers and preachers warned of the inevitable fall that would follow. . . . A battle waged in my young mind between the forces of insecurity and snobbery. One minute I was the lowliest of losers, ugly, unlovable, stupid and hopeless, and the next I was so much better than everyone else! Never able to find the land of middle ground, I dwelt in a black and white world. Either/Or. Either it was this way or it was that way and there were no alternatives. Finally, finally, I am learning that the middle ground is so much more hospitable. And it is vast and wide. There is so much more room there than I ever imagined! Room for all kinds of ideas and all kinds of ways of being and my ego is very attached to judgement, so here in the middle ground, it has to let go a little and that gives me room to expand – to breathe – to become, instead of being stuck in who I think “I am”.
Having people say that my writing is good makes my ego puff up and I can sense it wanting to strut and crow. Instead of trying to force it down and silence it, maybe I can stand in my own power in the middle ground. Nelson Mandela said these beautiful words.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
May we all make manifest the glory of God that is within us. Namaste
March 10, 2012
There are so many things about writing a book that are not what I expected.
When I finished the first draft of the manuscript of my memoir, We End in Joy: Memoirs of a First Daughter, and mailed it to the publisher, in my naivete I thought I was finished. I whooped and hollered and heaved a big sigh of relief. I had a lot of time invested in that book. I called all my friends and family. My sweet man took me out for a celebratory dinner. . . Oh, but it was just beginning. There was the wait for acceptance from the publisher, the writing of the second draft and then editing and proofreading and decisions about the title and the cover. That manuscript has come back to me, three times, since that day in March, 2011.
I told my publisher that I wanted to be like Harper Lee, the elusive and enigmatic author of To Kill a Mockingbird. She was a veritable recluse and most people didn’t even know what she looked like. In honor of Miss Lee, I planned to be a mysterious hermit myself. The publisher laughed. She’d heard it before, she told me, and added that that plan was no longer feasible. “ Successful authors are authors who promote their books,” she told me, “you’ll need to have a website and of course you’ll blog and tweet. . . “
Hang on a minute! Blogging is one thing. Even though I hate the crass and lumpy sound of the word, it’s just online journaling and I journal almost everyday anyway, so it’s a small step to share it every now and then, but tweeting? Oh no. I don’t think so. That will be my line in the sand – Twitter. No can do. It’s important to know where those lines are and there is one of mine. In my best Scarlet O’Hara imitation, I declared, “As God is my witness, I will not tweet!” Eyes rolled, technologically out-of-touch, middle-aged writers are probably nothing new in the hallowed halls of publishing. But I won’t, I swear. . .
So I will blog. I mean I’m a writer, it’s what I do. And probably you’ll have to beg me to stop. I’ll probably become a blog monster. And while my blogs may ramble around and touch on all kinds of subjects – I’ve been keeping of list of ideas like quantum physics and beekeeping, my grandfathers dreams and walking the spiral path of the labyrinth for instance - I do promise to try to keep them short and sweet. And I thank you, readers, for checking in and bearing with me as I walk this strange new path as writer and thanks for listening.