In June of 2020 I ‘graduated’ from teaching. Teaching requires mindfulness and extreme focus, a one-hundred percent investment of love during time spent one-on-one with a child or with a group in the classroom. It requires setting aside self to see and hear others instead.
One of my sister writers, author of “Cross Roads,” Anne B. Jeffries, agreed to post on my blog this week. She had just finished a full day of commitment at school but she came to write with us. She is adept at pouring Heart. When she attends our Wise Women Writing group, she feeds our souls. In a mere ten minutes, she addresses each prompt with profound honesty. Her act is an inspiration for the rest of us. She demands authenticity for herself, while maintaining curiosity, joy, love, and compassion for the rest of us.
Dear Readers, I don’t know what some of you do, but I do know that if you are reading my blog you have a sincere desire to connect with heart. Anne’s heart makes a big connection.
Anne, thank you. I feel honored that you have given me your words to give to my readers. Fellow teacher, fighter for children, fighter for people, Anne, I love your heart. You pour out all it carries every day and I know your students feel your intent. Your writing takes away my breath and reminds me that teaching is something I still love to do.
It’s not just my memories sleeping,
It’s all of it.
A honey drip slowness.
I can catch up tomorrow.
Just want to sink down in sleep.
Like a frenetic fall.
What is the charge?
Is it my nervous system that signals the experience to fizzle,
Lose its edges?
Then, sink away in categories and compartments,
With no present security access?
Where is my agency?
Who is filing these memories and who granted permission for this protocol?
Or, maybe, it’s all chaos and no “thing” has access.
My consciousness just sifts above it all like a metal detector pulling up old coins.
What about the pieces made of wood and plastic?
What loosens those?
He said it’s like wearing a lie on his face.
I feel that way all the time.
In class- with him- with them.
Like I’m a puppet driven by a motor I did not program, or know how to run.
I peered out from below the lip where I stuffed myself down into a pouring cup,
Until all the drops of the eternal minutes,
Ran out against the automaticity
Of that forced time.
There is something about the inability to walk away.
A fabric woven together?
Fabric doesn’t work
because it’s made of thread that can be woven into something else.
My sentiment is too deep to separate out –
Like color in the sky?
Color is only light.
What holds us together?
Is it, in fact,
Check it out
If you would like to read more of Anne’s work, check it out here:
When I woke in the morning, I could feel it. A miracle was coming. My heart wanted me to see the full eclipse of the super moon in Scorpio. I looked out my window. Overcast. I would see it only if the clouds in the sky moved on. I wished with all my will for a strong breeze to push them along.
As the day slipped by, my anticipation grew. Something would change tonight. I felt sure of it. Whether I witnessed it or not would be another story, but if I couldn’t see it with my own eyes, I could still sit under the canopy of the sky and feel it…maybe.
Ghrian set late. His orange arms wrapped the sky for one last hug as he slipped beyond the Pacific horizon.
Ghealach lan was exasperatingly slow to rise. I did not know the exact location she would appear, and I didn’t want to miss anything so I did not wait on my property for a chance to see her through the branches that umbrella my yard. Instead, I walked up and down the hill trying to glimpse her from a view that was not obstructed by tall trees.
My cats wondered what I was up to and sat on the front stairs watching me crest the rise, disappear, and then reappear.
My neighbors must have wondered, “What’s up with her,” because ordinarily I keep to myself. This moon was drawing me out, asking me to venture forth, to witness…something. I had to go.
I made several trips waiting…waiting…waiting. Would she rise above the Sierra Nevada in time for me to see this event?
Finally, the imperative to walk away from my property to a place up the street paid off. Ghealach lan rose slowly, peering through the trees which sat on a higher point of the hill to the southeast.
It took forever to show her entire face. I sat and prepared to wait. People were out. I could hear their voices, but no one came down the road upon which I sat. The sky was clear. I was a grateful witness.
My faithful black cat, venturing out of his territory to check on me, wondered what I was doing sitting in the road. I pulled him into my lap and said, “I am safe. I can’t go home. I have to be here.”
Time stopped as Ghealach lan floated higher against the black sky. Purpose obscured her light. She looked like a dull, orange marble floating in a black sea. I felt her stealth, a wolf taking her place as guardian of the pack. Her energy increased, though her light did not. She prepared for something….
Slowly, she inched toward the zenith until she settled within the ‘v’ between two trees.
As I gazed, my heart reached toward her. Blood stilled in my veins. I held my breath. Even the twinkling stars fell quiet.
Shadows trembled around me, rising one by one.
“Come,” said Ghealach lan. “Your time here is done.”
Releasing their hold on Earth, shadows slowly rose at her bidding. They swirled through the air, catching zephyrs as they followed an inescapable impulse to join her.
My bones loosened. I felt my energy sink into the Earth. Shadows long wrapped around me let loose.
“Come,” said Ghealach.
My shadows drifted toward the heavy darkness that swirled toward the moon. She gathered them one by one, accepting each as a long lost child. When she grew heavy with their darkness, she silently slipped away, leaving the sky and my heart to grieve her disappearance.
Intellectually, I know what happened in that brief instance, but I prefer the magic. I could no longer see her or feel the comfort of knowing she was there, hovering watchfully above us. In my heart, I saw her release each shadow to the Universe, Itself a willing swallower of sorrows. As the shadows slipped from Ghealach’s grasp, her face, a mere promise of orange against the matted sky, became visible to a sharp eye watching for her.
I breathed a prayer, “Thank you, Seanmhair.”
She had willingly taken my shadows from me.
They had answered her command.
I heard her say, “From this moment, your life is forever changed.”
I folded my hands against my heart and took a deep breath. Then I bowed as I felt the gravity of that.
Slowly, her dull orange face glowed brighter.
I slipped back whence I came, to the shelter of my trees and my home.
I don’t believe in lawns. I don’t like wasting water. I certainly don’t like mowing a swath of grass that has no purpose except to use water to stay green. I do appreciate a plant that resembles a lawn in the springtime: three-cornered leeks (Allium triquetrum), commonly known as Snowbells.
They are not natives to California. Settlers brought these Mediterranean beauties with them when they settled here during the Gold Rush. Considered an invasive plant, and by some folks, noxious weeds, I love them. As a reluctant gardener, I am always happy when plants, especially edible plants, invite themselves into my yard. I especially love the plants that grow prolifically because they crowd out any Bermuda Grass, which I consider a noxious weed. My entire yard supports them.
I use them in place of onions and garlic. The entire plant is edible with a very mild taste. They grow in the spring and die in the summer. When they die off in the summer, they form mats on the ground, which rake up easily, but also provide a perfect mulch for holding moisture in the soil. I’ve always been impressed by how the stems and leaves line up directionally, like hair that has been combed down the sides of my yard spaces. I never questioned why.
This is my year for noticing things. It’s the first year since retirement that I have spent anytime practicing the art of Being instead constantly staying busy. There is good reason to be a reluctant gardener, to sit, observe, and learn how the environment is adapting to the changing global climate patterns. It became really clear during the quarantine that Earth recovers quickly when mankind is not out and about. It also has become clear that to continue growing as we have is not sustainable.
In my mind, I think we need to work with the change and with Earth if we want to continue to feed ourselves in agrarian societies. So, I sit and watch. My yard is not the same yard it was when I first acquired this property. The angle of the sun is different, tree cover is different, temperatures are different. Plants do not respond the way they used to. So how does it work? That’s what I hope to find out.
Along with reassurance that I still had massive amounts of three-cornered leeks, I also discovered another form of life that I had not observed before retirement. The first time I noticed it, I thought my plants were growing moldy. I wondered how to treat them for mold. Then I noticed the mold writhe across the blades and stems. OMG! I looked more closely. Black aphids. I had never heard of black aphids. (Hey! The juice from these plants is supposed to be a fabulous insecticide. Pssht. Not for these tiny creepers!)
280 million years ago aphids sucked plants dry. Since then, over 5,000 variations of this amazing insect have developed special appetites for the plants of the world, especially in temperate zones. The trouble with this appetite is that they are sipping sucrose, which they cannot digest. Why do they do it? It seems that sap is the ultimate addiction.
Their inability to process this food source makes them tasty for predators such as ladybugs, hover fly larvae, sparrows and the American goldfinch. Crab spiders are quite fond of them. Ants, acting very co-dependent to this addiction, go to great lengths to herd, protect, and propagate the little beasties because they cannot get enough of the sucrose secreted from their bodies in the form of droplets of waste, called honeydew. Ants eagerly milk this nectar from the aphids’ miniscule bodies. Even bees claim herds of aphids as their own to delight in this particular habit.
To get around this inability to digest their main food source they have developed interesting tricks and relationships. Aphids harbor bacterial endosymbionts who recycle glutamate, the metabolic waste produced while aphids try to digest plant sap. The bacterial endosymbionts turn the waste into essential amino acids. Some aphids synthesize red carotenoids using horizontal gene transfers. The way I understand this is they use the genetic material from plants, add the coding to their own, which then enables them to absorb sunlight as a food source. I guess if you have been around since the Early Permian Period, you acquire these talents.
Aphids are bad boys. Or are they?
My yard is a refuge of divine feminine it seems, for the aphid army you see on your plants is entirely female. (see: Reluctant Gardener post 2 for more information about female armies: https://avsingerauthor.com/2022/01/19/post-2-reluctant-gardener/ ) As the weather cools in autumn, males with wings and winged females mate. The males die off, their job done. Winged females lay the eggs. The eggs overwinter and hatch the first generation of a parthenogenetic army. The babies are born pregnant, and soon birth live and pregnant female offspring, who in turn birth live, pregnant offspring and so it goes. There can be as many as forty-one generations a season for each female who births another clutch of live, pregnant females every few days. These females are of course voracious in an attempt to create this army. My three-cornered leeks didn’t have a chance.
If you rid your garden of their food sources, some females grow wings and produce a generation of males in preparation to migrate. They fly as high as 600 meters to catch winds that can carry them where they need to go.
So for you, my dear friends, I have left swatches of aphids to their task. I’m not worried. My leeks appear to go through this process every year. I just haven’t been quiet or observant enough to see this before. They will be back next year for me to happily eat and share them with anyone who asks for them.
For those of you who follow this blog you know that, once a week, I meet with a group of writers who meditate together. We write from our hearts, and then tackle weekly prompts. We share what we write each taking their turn in our circle of love. Each of us has come to this group for our own purpose, but I speak for the group when I say, if you are a writer, the best thing you can do for your craft and for your soul is to meet with other writers, to write and share your words.
You know I am all ‘about the magic.’
Something magical happens when we are together.
After meditation or with particular prompts the group responds as if it is one organism with multiple viewpoints. Those are my favorite meetings. The “connection” is strong and we write with one heart.
This was one of those times.
Marilyn Crnich Nutter
Undoing, undone – downfall or disentangle? In free-fall, it’s hard to know where one is headed. Crashing towards oblivion? I like to think of it as an unraveling—like a knitted work that doesn’t take shape or form and needs to come apart so it can be made whole again, or splintered porcelain pieces which we can’t use but can artfully piece together in new form that will please the eye and fill the heart. It’s part of life’s pattern of being, our longing for wholeness and beauty, making sense of our broken and fragile world.
but this is how I feel
you’re being too sensitive
I feel insulted
they say, sorry you feel that way
I say, stop using language as a weapon
Anne B. Jeffries
I’m the Un-Doer right now
As I glance up,
And take in the tops of your heads
All bent in your own space
In your own minds,
Maybe I’ll just watch this unfold.
Be the Un-Doing,
Not the Doing.
But I cannot remove the Un-Doing
As I analyze the Doers.
That’s just it,
It is only in the Un-Doing
Where the true action takes place.
Isn’t that what we are doing now? Undoing? I love the concept, the practice, the awareness of Undoing. It is the purpose of our Elder-years. To Undo until we greet The Wonder of Who We Are. The Undoing—so dramatic in the essence of itself. The Undoing sets us free–Undoing the scaffolding about our egoic constructions.
There is no Undoing to be done in Presence with a capital P, in Stillness with a capital S, in the essence of Soul Self with a capital SS.
It is the Great Undoing, the Great Awakening, the Portal to Who We Really Are. (or The Truth of our Being.)
There is birth, the entry. Then decades of doing that follows. Should we grow into emotional maturity we acquire wisdom. Wisdom is the antidote of doing. Wisdom is our conscious undoing.
Joyce Ann Campbell
Too much of humanity’s progress has left a trail of destruction across land and sea, below and above, within and without.
The undoing of so-called development will not be a simple task.
But undoing is one of Nature’s talents. Wearing down mountains just takes awhile and building them up can be a blast.
The sound of undoing takes me to the dance of life
A waltz where a 1,2,3 syllabus is moving
In the rhythm of a simple word
A lonely movement of myself
Doing, redoing, undoing of my heartbeat
Undoing the leaves of a tree
that shows itself with its beautiful lacey shape
I undo in facing the shadows
That haunt my dreams
In moving images of an unknown story
With its hurting steps
after the dance of my own truth
Undoing is much more difficult than the doing that is being undone.
Especially, if that original thought or action has become habitual.
It’s like trying to untie a knot in a necklace. Everything is entangled in
such an intricate way, that even finding a start seems impossible.
But— maybe the beginning of ”The Great Undoing” of our fearful manifestation, is just to start laughing. That laugh sparks another laugh, which sparks another, which quickly becomes viral.
A viral belly laugh to shake away the doing.
DC Little :A sneak peek from Mercy Rising: The Deliverance
The undoing of Mercy came on a day that had begun warm and bright, full of promise. They sat on stumps or rocks in small pods throughout the camp, discussing how well yesterday’s battle had gone.
Mercy stood up, feeling hope rise with her, as she bade her exit from the group. The need to feel the sun on her skin and bask in some time alone grew, besides if she stayed amongst the others too much longer, her head might bloat to an uncomfortable size.
The need to stay humble thrummed within her, and where else then spending time with the Creator to help her remember that?
She glided through the camp, smiling at those who said hello, but she kept her intention focused, finally coming to the newly planted garden. Small green shoots had burst through the tilled earth overnight, uncurling to receive their first touch of the sun.
A deep satisfaction filled her, her purpose realized, her calling answered. She allowed the sensation to infiltrate her, shedding tight throngs of fear and burying the worthlessness that had plagued her.
Just when she began to believe everything was falling into place, she picked up on a frantic heartbeat, racing too fast, tight with fear, dripping in horror.
Mercy jumped up, instantly alert, hand drawing her bow without thought and scanning the area the emotion embarked from, searching for any slight movement or sound….
AV Singer: Connection
Time is not linear.
We like to think it is because logical progression is easier for our emotional systems to handle, but this has been an undoing.
Most of us operate on three cylinders of a twelve-cylinder engine, never questioning our inability to ‘get up to speed.’ We mosey along, secure in our own shells like snails seeing only our own paths. We do not understand that thought can transmit simultaneously with the thinking of it.
And thinking is slow. Emotion is faster, the difference between 10 and 102.
The world is Turmoil right now. It seems criminal to add to the angst. Imagine how quickly an emotional actuality of serenity can travel. Imagine transmission of trust, or a whole-hearted knowledge of what peace feels like. (When I was younger, I imagined the absolute silence of falling snow blanketing the Earth to get in touch with peace. That imagined event helped me get in touch with how quiet the Earth can be: how peace feels, like a quiet in-breath, an in-between place – profound rest.)
Those of us not fighting for our lives owe to those of us fighting, a door that opens upon that space of Peace, where Trust reigns, and Serenity holds us in comfort. It takes as much energy to “feel” despair as it does to hold that door open.
I implore you, if you are not fighting, join us. Recharge your batteries with intentional filling of your cups every day. Keep up your strength. Hold open doors. Connect.
We would love to hear from you. Leave a message in the comment box.
(Author’s Note: I originally wrote this piece in first person based on a dream I had in 2009. Published as a flash fiction called “Stop for Repair,” it appeared in an anthology called Wild Edges, edited by Monika Rose and F. Ted Laskin; Manzanita Writers Press, volume 6, 2010, pages 124-25. It is a story that is appropriate for the task before all of us today. I decided to rewrite it. As a writer, I wanted to practice writing in a gender-neutral point of view. As a blogger, I feel we must all be building and repairing bridges between each other. Let’s repair the bridges that span between us. Now is the time.)
Early afternoon rain tamped down any dust the wheels could have kicked up. Oak trees painted shadows that swayed across the road, which was more wagon trail than safe passage for a car. In front of Charlie and Sam, a rickety wooden bridge stretched across a bubbling stream.
Charlie stopped the car and stared at it.
Sam looked at Charlie; Charlie looked at Sam and shrugged.
“Well,” Sam said. “Do we turn around?” It was not the first time they had impulsively followed a rainbow through these hills, been stopped by some obstacle or another, to then retreat.
Charlie’s left eyebrow rose and a little smile wrinkled the corner of their mouth as they cut the engine. As Charlie slipped out to look at the bridge, the familiar twinkle of their eyes sparked just a little more. They scratched their head.
Sam watched warily as Charlie turned. When they caught each other’s eyes, Charlie’s expression did not give away any plan, though Sam knew the twinkle that resided there.
Charlie sauntered to the back of the car and opened the trunk. What were they up to?
They closed the trunk gently and stepped up to the passenger window.
Sam rolled it down.
Charlie said, “Come on. We have work.”
Work? What did they mean? That’s when Sam noticed Charlie held two hammers in their hand.
Sam glanced at the bridge. Hammers in the trunk – a coincidence? No way.
Charlie pushed the larger hammer toward Sam, who grabbed it, then fumbled and dropped it onto their hipbone. “Ouch.”
When Sam looked up, Charlie was walking toward the bridge.
Suspicious, they got out and followed them.
Charlie ambled across it, testing their weight here and there while Sam stood watching; waiting. The bridge rang an old song with each of Charlie’s steps. Charlie bent over and slammed the head of their hammer onto a board.
“Come on,” Charlie said, and began to pound nails.
Sam stepped onto the bridge and squatted to look for nails. The hammer dangled in their hand as they glared at Charlie. Would the car tires have fallen through the decking? The two of them could have chosen to walk across with no danger. Why did they stop to repair it?
Sam whacked the head of a nail below them. They heard a voice in their head ask, “When did these nails start loosening?” They hit another nail. Protest rose up in them. Sam wanted to argue…but words, suddenly erased from their mind, left them wondering. They looked at the brook dancing beneath the bridge. Was this bridge so old and tattered, it was wearing out? Was it dangerous?
Sam smacked another nail into place. Did Charlie see this bridge as their relationship: old, comfortable, and worn? Was it wearing out?
Was this relationship in danger?
Sam attacked loose nails in earnest.
The two worked together, pounding nails into an old bridge that needed tending.
The sun gently warmed their backs as they hammered, repairing that old bridge nail by nail.
As Charlie stopped to wipe sweat from their brow and lashes, a scrub jay swooped, surprising the two bridge tenders, scolding their noisy adventure.
They both jumped and then, laughed.
Each subsequent strike of a hammer pulled them closer, mending something indefinable. They tapped each board into place until the bridge, safe and sound, spanned comfortable between them.
As Charlie pounded the last nail into a weathered plank, Sam smiled.
Charlie smiled back.
Together they sat side by side in the middle of the bridge, dangling their feet over the edge, admiring their handiwork.
The sky blushed in rich golden reds. A silky evening breeze clattered through the leaves in the oak trees on the other bank. They stood and walked back to their vehicle.
Before settling in, Sam caught Charlie’s eye across the top of the car and smiled. Today was a good day.
Charlie nodded affirmation, and then threw Sam the keys.
Are you suspicious of praise? Do you wonder what people want from you when they give it?
I have struggled with both sides of judgment all my life. Praise is a form of judgment when someone withholds it. Praise can be judgment when someone gives it.
Many of us seek praise our entire lives, including me. We want our parents to approve of us. We want our teachers and employers to approve of us. We want our peers to approve of us. I work hard to avoid judging others. I had even considered certain forms of praise to be judgmental. However, an event with my writer’s group became a catalyst that sent me down a rabbit hole thinking of all the times I handed out empty praise, all the times I had judged without realizing it.
There is a better way. What if we become mirrors for each other instead. This is what I have learned.
Imagine this. A student sits in front of me offering a precious piece of writing. I silently read it, make a few marks on the paper, and say, “This is very well done,” and then cheerfully stick a star at the top and hand it back to the student.
However, I remember one student in particular to whom I gave stars and stickers because that student gave 120% with every assignment even though the academic excellence was never more than middle-level competence. According to academic standards, that student was earning a solid C grade, which was not a bad thing. The student and the parent had different ideas. They wondered why, when I handed out so many stars and stickers, the student still got C’s instead of A’s for exemplary work. I explained I was giving rewards for effort not for ability. The student’s score was a fair grade of middle-level competence.
I felt guilty when I had the conversation. I felt doubly guilty as I remembered it. This student and parent equated encouraging rewards for effort as indication of expected grade, and I failed to be honest.
For that student I was a lazy teacher. I rarely found work to mirror back to her but she worked so hard. I used stars to encourage her. It was quick, it was easy, it was effective, and teachers, at least in this country, had been doing it as a reward system for generations of students. But was it honest? Was it fair?
Stars rewarded effort, not academic strength. Would it have been kinder to explain honestly that hard work kept the abyss of failure away, but top-level success was not happening? At the very least, I could have looked for something of worth to give back besides stars.
So, imagine that same student sitting in front of me with a precious piece of writing to offer. I look at the piece, and in spite of spelling and grammatical errors, I read it to her with emotion and heartfelt meaning, offering the beauty and strength of her own words as a gift of how powerful in that moment she had been. In essence, I become a mirror. How much more could that student have learned from hearing what she offered, rather than receiving a simple star stuck to the top of the page?
Stars and stickers are hollow praise when given without mirrored feedback.
I belong to a writers group that meets once per week. We respond to prompts then share what we write. We have written together for eight years, happily congratulating each other on superb writing and generally emoting our appreciation with the intent to support each other to improve our craft. Somewhere in that time, I said to one of the writers, “Oh, that’s a keeper, give it a star.” The idea of gesturing, “Give it a star,” caught on and became a regular feature of responding to each other’s offerings of extemporaneous writing.
Three weeks ago, one of our moderators experimented with the concept of being ‘silent witnesses’ for each other. The intent was to offer a time to listen to each other, and allow a safe space for each writer to sit with her own writing and her own feelings about it. We all thought it was a great idea so we did it while not fully understanding the need to do so.
For me, it was an unnerving event. The experience of reading my own writing aloud was something I’d never done before joining this group, and the keys to my experience were physical and vocal appreciation.
That night, as fellow writers read their work, I struggled to stay silent, to listen without emotional response and outpour. I had to sit on my hands to avoid giving silent applause or “stars.” I felt…not badly, but certainly that something was missing from my experience of this writers group.
At the end of the meeting, we debriefed. My turmoil began.
I learned that my need to praise my fellow writers had offended more than one of them. Awarding stars was playful for me but had been a system of judgment for them. They felt that when they received a star it was like getting a grade in school, and if they didn’t get a star they had failed somehow. They also felt compared with other writers because not every person got a star each week. We gave stars for exquisite writing, and it’s impossible to achieve that every time.
Of course, none of us were actually judging writer against writer. The intent was to let an individual know that yes, that piece of writing is worth keeping. Please consider it. However, they forced me to look at stars as rewards that night, and I realized how lazy I had become. Pandora’s Box opened at that Zoom meeting. I felt horror, caught in the act of judging others.
As a teacher, I did give stars, but I also honed my craft of mirroring. I have spent a lifetime honing it, offering a mirror so that others could see the beauty and wonder that I see, and now I am reduced to handing out stars? Oh. I think not.
I thought about the times I refused to read my writing, because I did not want comments about it. Why? Because I didn’t want it judged. Yet, I had been handing out stars and gratefully accepting them when I shared my writing. That’s when I voiced to my fellow writers that, because there were no comments allowed that particular night, I felt comfortable not only writing more completely from my own heart instead of writing something safe and acceptable, but also sharing it afterward.
I left the meeting that night thinking about how ashamed I was at becoming lazy with praise instead of practicing the mirroring I knew how to do. Most of our group had no idea that some of us felt judged this entire time. We were horrified to discover that simple encouragement could feel like judgment. This exercise of silent witness brought it to light. My solution for the writing group when we finally meet in person again instead of on Zoom, is to suggest a trade. Instead of reading our own work, we pass our writing to another to read for us. In that way, we can be powerful mirrors for one another.
Both the incident with a student and the incident with the writer’s group were unfortunate because I know that mirroring is the best answer. Reward is compensation for effort, an exchange of energy, but is it a fair exchange? Is it an honest exchange? Is it a heartfelt exchange? Would it be better to take more time to act as compassionate mirrors for each other? I handed out stars to my fellow writers instead of handing them their words.
Stars are a judgment, more for the ease of the giver than the receiver. They are a simple, uninvolved way to give praise. But praise is hollow and meaningless at the very least and at the worst, a harsh judgment. Is it enough to say, “Job well done?” In my experience, no – no it is not enough. It is better to be a mirror than dole out empty praise.
I know this works.
When my children were younger, they each had a rabbit project with the local 4-H club. They were normal kids. I had to badger them daily to take care of their responsibilities. However, badgering was not my parenting style. I considered setting up a calendar with stars to commend them for all the times I didn’t have to remind them of daily chores. It was an easy, expedient solution. But it wasn’t my solution.
Instead, I bought my own herd of rabbits, set up my own cages, and started my own business. I mirrored what responsibility for an animal looked like. I mirrored the time it took. I mirrored consistency in care giving. I mirrored filling out records, keeping track of expenses. I never had to say a word to them. They just did what I did. They followed me down to the rabbitry every time I went there and took care of their own rabbits. They each had successful projects that turned into businesses, and I became the parent I wanted to be, one that didn’t have to badger, judge, or give hollow praise. I became a parent who didn’t give stars. I want to be a member of a writer’s group that doesn’t give stars. As a teacher, as a grandparent, as a friend, I won’t give stars again.
What do you think about this idea of stars? Please feel free to comment or to share any experiences you have had with stars given as rewards.
You asked me what it feels like to connect with the imaginal realm, a place where trees and plants speak with scent and with flavor, animals speak with images, angels with colors and ideas, and where humans speak with emotion rather than voice. In this liminal place, the geometry of serenity is a rosy quartz-colored sphere, joy is a sturdy rectangular plane upon which to stand, knowledge is fleeting ether that passes by unless witnessed. The imaginal realm seems utterly empty, profoundly silent until observed; then, it springs to life with all there is.
Those that honor it feel completely bonkers, but only because those cemented in matter cannot smell what they smell, taste what they taste, see what they see, hear what they hear, or feel what they feel, though it is possible for them. It isn’t a matter of a sixth sense. It does not take anything extra. It is a matter of heightened senses, using what is human and extending it to include other dimensions.
Connected as you are, what you really ask is, how does one observe this imaginal space?
Considering you are standing in the middle of it, all it takes is a willingness to believe that what you sense is actually happening. The energy of potential can seem like a mere wish, a daydream or a passing thought. Dismissed as such, it is fleeting and not noticeable…until it is too loud to ignore.
Humans speak in emotion. They can say whatever they want to, but their real language is emotion. Humans are shouting right now. Floods, fires, global warming, pestilence, earthquakes, volcanoes, unrest within and between countries…it’s nuts. Emotions are running at an all-time high.
I find myself cautioning those around me lately, “Slow down, examine what you feel. Is what you are feeling right now your own emotion? There is a possibility that you are picking up on the emotions swirling around us.” The liminal world is knocking at the door.
What is happening in your life? Where are you this very second? Stop right now, and assess.
Is something happening that is truly yours to be sad, angry, or frightened about? Then, by all means, you should be sad, angry, or frightened. Those emotions will help you discern what to do next, but for the rest of us, we need to get out of your way to send you support and strength. The only way to do that is to be in our own space, claim our own emotion, and not add to the fervor of whatever emotion is swirling about.
Is this my emotion?
If not, instead, breathe. Take into account what is really happening around you. What is the appropriate emotion for that?
Emotional ownership is a thing.
It’s important to know if you want to extend your senses into the imaginal world, because that world is EVERYTHING, with no judgment of right, wrong – good, bad – happy, sad. It is there waiting to be witnessed by YOU. You will witness that which you look for.
This is the first step to observing the imaginal realm. Own your emotions. You are an emotional being. You speak with emotions. Trust me on this. Words have secondary, and sometimes false, meaning. Emotions tell truth. It is hard to believe I am saying this as a writer, but I am and I don’t think I can say this or write it often enough. Emotions are a human’s primary language. Use them appropriately.
Think of it as a mindfulness practice. Pay attention to your first emotion of the morning. Observe emotions that follow. Do you see a pattern? Stop and ask, “Is this really me? Do I really have reason to feel this way?” Watch for stray emotions that don’t match your life, especially loud ones.
There are moments when I burst into tears, or laughter, or quake in sudden fear…for no apparent reason. Extreme emotion is easy to observe. It’s a perfect time to practice. I always ask, “Is this mine?”
For instance, yesterday I was singing Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, recorded by Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles. I had already listened to the song once and thought, “Gee. I can’t remember these lyrics.” So, I looked them up to sing harmony with Josh and Sara. Totally engulfed within the music, I suddenly choked on tears at the line, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now.” Ugh. Tears streamed down my face. Just like a wave, despair washed over me.
Since I have been doing a lot of negative pattern clearing, I first looked at that. I didn’t have any emotions swirling around me from those experiences. I don’t watch the news, I feel safe and happy in a quarantine situation, my friends and family are all well.
Living in California, it’s probable that it came from outside me. I was singing, which is my primary go-to for connecting to liminal space. I live in a fire zone. People have lost everything they have. I live in a high Covid-19 zone. There are people dying from this dreadfulness.
This wasn’t my emotion to own.
I stood tall, and strong. I took a deep breath. The waved washed back over me and disappeared into source. I finished the song. It was, literally, that fast. There was no need to hang onto it.
I have been practicing letting go of that which isn’t mine. You can too. The first step is asking, “Is this my emotion?” Be aware of that which is and that which isn’t. The emotional response won’t stop, but if it isn’t yours, it will pass within 90 seconds for most of us. All you have to do is acknowledge it, and let it move on through you. Simple, huh?
Good luck this week. May Peace find you wherever you are.
P.S. Here is a poem for those on or curious about the Twin Flame path, and a tiny glimpse into my life and the imaginal realm.
What is the difference between being and non-being? Is it possible not to be? Virginia Woolf once described ‘non-being’ as unconscious living. For her it was “the cotton wool of daily life” that became unconscious living. Since daily living is mundane, I can see how it feels like cotton wool that shrouds one moment to the next, unmemorable, unnoticed, forever passed, never to be regained. What happens to us when we are conscious every minute? Is it even possible to hold onto conscious consideration every minute? Perhaps it is in paying attention to those moments that are magical that we find consciousness, or being, the easiest.
Virginia Woolf’s first memory of ‘being’ was as a child looking at a flower. As she studied it, the flower seemed to her more than flower, it was Earth as well and by looking at the flower she was also looking at all of the Earth and feeling her place as part of it all.
Could I pinpoint a definitive time when I realized the difference between “being” and “non-being?” Was there a first moment when life opened and I felt complete, part of the whole?
As a child, there are two possibilities; times I remember well enough to create a blog post. The first is a day when I was nine, and I put on prescription glasses for the first time. Trees were suddenly more than two-dimensional, giant green shadows. They had leaves, which intellectually I knew of course, but I didn’t see well enough to count their separateness until I saw individual leaves on individual branches as we drove past them on the way home from the optometrist. My mother graciously stopped the car so I could focus completely upon them. I saw separate lines of shadow, pulling each graceful branch into three-dimensional existence. I saw birds. I saw the movement of the wind as it rustled past all that was within a tree. Each tree was different, unique. Trees were amazing and everywhere. Life was miraculous!
The second time that I remember was the day I truly understood “being.” I had an encounter with a cricket….
My maternal grandmother’s yard was an adventure. It encircled her home, a reclaimed chicken coop rebuilt into a house by my grandfather’s love. Nestled in the middle of a quarter of an acre within the city limits of Stockton, California, it seemed to go on forever.
Innately aware of feng shui, my grandmother created room after outdoor room with unique fencing, hedges, gates and trellises, or simply turns of the building. The result was living art, and dreamlike. At fourteen, and labeled a magical thinker, I spent a lot of time outdoors appreciating her creation. Her yard was Wonderland within which a imaginative child could find freedom and peace.
One day, as I was sitting on the back steps leading to the innermost courtyard, I saw a cricket. To look at him, I may not have recognized him as such, but he scratched his wing with a back leg and created that familiar chirp that comforted me to sleep every night.
As I watched him chirp, and wave his antennae, I swear to you, he spoke to me. “Admire the geranium next to you.”
What? The geranium?
I looked to my left at a few squatty, plain green bushes. To my right, beyond him, was a leafy plant with a brilliant red-orange blossom reaching out of its foliage on a long straight stalk. What a pretty color, I thought. I didn’t know what a geranium was at the time, but the flower was beautiful and it was nearest the cricket, so I admired it.
At my side, the cricket chirped, his beautiful bell tone adding magic. Suddenly the slightest of vibrations frizzled around the edges of each blossom, a glow of dark that seemed to soften the solidness of each petal in the stark contrast. It was as if the petals were only a vibration of possible structure rather than coherently in this world. This caused the petals themselves to glow even more brightly as they seemingly strove to hold my attention.
Riveted, I no longer heard the cricket, or any other sound for that matter. I was totally absorbed as the geranium vibrated with red, with life, signaling a magnificence I could not at that time fully understand, except I knew a moment had opened a window onto life, how it manifests and comes into being. I sat in wonder at how beautiful it all was and how grateful I was to be witnessing it.
My grandmother knocked on the door before she opened it gently. I jumped when I felt it lightly touch my back.
“Time for lunch,” she said, quietly. Then she shut the door.
I didn’t look at her, though I could imagine her smiling at me as she shut it. Instead, I looked for my cricket friend to exclaim my discovery and to thank him. To my dismay, he had crawled into silent invisibility.
But that flower!
I didn’t forget that experience, even when adulting took me away from observing the world with such an open eye. Like all of us, the hustle of living during this time in the United States, and perhaps anywhere, stuffed cotton wool into my brain.
Later, when life slowed as it does as one ages, I began to see those vibrating edges again. I pointed them out to my art students, my math students, really, any student that took to staring at the geranium blossoms next to the entrance to the school for which I worked. Some of them claimed to see it, others didn’t. I hope someday they do.
I hope someday they can see the shadow where a fig tree plans to set fruit, or the joy that glitters around their dog, or the insect that lights up when a bird spots it. I hope they see the light around the people they meet, and smile because it is so beautiful. I hope they understand how beautiful they are.
This world is amazing. I hope each one of us takes a moment when a cricket insists we admire a geranium to watch as life vibrates around each petal’s edges where it meets the whole of Creation and says, “I am.” That is a moment of “being.”