Saturday, December 29, 2012

I let a patch of truth develop.

Have you ever read something that leapt off the page and smacked you right between the eyes?  A phrase or a word that spun out and lodged deep inside of you?  

When I stumble upon these sorts of things, they don't read like the words around them.  They leap, dance, dart from the page.  They taste different.

Why is language often such a hindrance when trying to describe something real??
I let a patch of truth develop.
I feel these words viscerally.  Usually when this happens, I stop, dumbfounded, and then read them again several times in quick succession.  This is followed by me pounding the arms of whatever chair I happen to be sitting on and then racing for the nearest sharpie, which I use to write the words on my body.  I don't know why this is my reaction.  It rises unbidden and takes me whole.  I let myself go with it to see where I will be swept.

I went to this magical website today.  It's about silver hair and women.  It gives me hope for humankind. That is where I was found today.  I intend to do a little yoga now, letting this phrase sink into my body.  Thinking, thinking, and breathing them in.
I let a patch of truth develop.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Common Threads

Archetypes, according to Jung, are an inherited idea or mode of thought that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual.  Often these surface in dreams or myths.  
I would like to talk (FINALLY!) about some important female archetypes.  Hurray!   These three in particular have cropped up in several of the books that I've been reading.  They seem to be common threads that women who write and think about this sort of thing use to describe our collective experience, or different phases of our lives.  

Each of the following: Maiden, Mother and Crone, seem to have a deep, extended history and meaning into which I have barely tapped.  Behold my limited understanding - the first steps of my exploration.

Crescent Moon:  Maiden.
 ----->  The Maiden is a virgin.  not chaste, but belonging wholly to herself.  Apparently the term "virgin" used to be in reference to a woman who was one unto herself.  I love that.  It turns the word on it's head.  Now, instead of referring to a pure, perfect almost-woman, waiting for a man, it seems strong and independent.  The Maiden is the Wild Child, the Lady of the Woods.  She is free and untamed.  Her color is White.  An example of the Maiden archetype would be the goddess Artemis.  She was the goddess of the hunt.
Full Moon:  Mother
----->  The Mother is mature, sexual, a giver of life, fertility, potency and joy.  Her colors are red, for blood, and green for growth.  She is a Creator and a Sustain-er.  The goddess Demeter is an example of the Mother Archetype.  She is the goddess of the harvest and seen as presiding over the cycle of life and death.  Even women who have never had children experience creativity and a sense of fertility and growth in their lives.  I love that we are not exempt from experiencing this phase of life.    
Look at this Curvy Mother!
Waning or Dark Moon:  Crone
-----> The Crone, or the Old Woman, is "ripe with wisdom."  She has secrets and power.  Her color is black.  Hecate is an example of the Crone archetype.  She was the goddess of crossroads and also became associated with the dead and with sorcery.   She is a pre-Olympian goddess who ruled over the earth, sea and sky.  Hecate helped Demeter find her daughter Persephone and eventually became Persephone's companion to and from Hades each year.  I feel that old women are so under-valued today in our culture.  When I am old, I want to embrace the title "crone."  I want to be wise and full of secrets that I am willing to share. 
Just because I'm old doesn't mean I'm any less bad-ass!
Every woman may identify with each of these archetypes at various times in her life.  For example, at a time of great creativity, you may feel you are a potent, life-giving Mother, regardless of whether or not you've birthed children.  At other times in your life, you may feel wild, untamed and belonging only to yourself.  Or, you may be at a place where you are ripe with wisdom and experience and have learned a few secrets with which to guide others if you so choose.  

I think there is something comforting about this idea that there is a "collective unconscious," or a shared well from which we all draw.  I think that's partly why I love that many women feel a kinship with the moon's waxing and waning.  Our female bodies have natural cycles that mirror those in the natural world around us.  We are tied to something greater by the tides of our bodies.  And beyond the obvious, we have one long cycle in our lives - waxing to full to waning to dark.  And those daily cycles, those human seasons, the tides of living and working.  

So, all of this is still very new to me.  I feel that I have only dipped my toe into the water of this deep pool.  And, to be honest, sometimes I sense that there are parts of this pool that are dark.  And while I no longer believe that all dark is evil, I do feel a need for care.  To measure my steps.  To think and talk, write and test.  But I am so excited to learn and to explore.  I feel grounded in myself and in my discoveries.  It's so good to read and to ask questions, to research and search.  This is only the beginning. 
Now here was I, new-awakened, with my hand stretching out and touching the unknown, the real unknown, the unknown unknown.   -- D. H. Lawrence

Monday, December 10, 2012

Taste the Christmas!

Fact:  the giant sticks of peppermint for 69¢ at the Dollar Tree are REAL PEPPERMINT.  They are delicious and they taste like Christmas.  I see them and I must buy them and then I must eat them.


I am so glad in my heart that the girl main character in Lemony Snickett:  A Series of Unfortunate Events is an inventor.  God bless authors who allow girls to take interest in and have talent with all things mechanical.   The boy is a reader (God bless you again!) and the little sister is a biter.  Brilliant.

Caitlin Moran.  There are apparently two easy questions to ascertain whether one is a feminist.  Put your hand down your pants.

1) Do you have a vagina?
2)  Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you answered yes, congratulations!  You are a feminist.  Of course, you can answer no and still be a feminist.  Many men whom I love cannot honestly say yes to question #1 and yet kindly and wisely treat the women in their lives as fellow human beings.  I think that's what it comes down to, ultimately.  Do you want everyone to be treated as a human being?  Then you are a feminist.

Caitlin Moran.  Her book "How to Be A Woman" made me cry laughing in my kitchen.  Each essay title is a statement capped with an exclamation mark.  I Start Bleeding!  I Encounter Sexism!  I am Fat!

Not only is this woman hysterically funny, she has some wonderfully insightful things to say about being female.  Thank you, dear lady, for advocating for hair down there and burlesque dancing instead of strip clubs and being "human-shaped."  Hear, hear!

Caitlin Moran.  I would like to drink some whiskey with this woman.  And talk about things like this:
Feminism needs Zero Tolerance over baby angst.  In the 21st century, it can't be about who we might make, and what they might do, anymore.  It has to be about who we are and what we're going to do.
While motherhood is an incredible vocation, it has no more inherent worth than a childless woman simply being who she is, to the utmost of her capabilities.  To think otherwise betrays a belief that being a thinking, creative, productive, and fulfilled woman is, somehow, not enough.
This is not of course to say that it isn't a valid choice to have babies.  There is an essay titled "Why You Should Have Children" right before the one titled, "Why You Shouldn't Have Children."  But women who choose to have babies aren't being judged in the same way that women who think they may not want children are looked at or talked to, like, "Ooooh, don't speak too soon," - as if knowing whether or not you're the kind of person who desires to make a whole other human being in your guts, out of sex and food, then base the rest of your life around its welfare, is a breezy, "Hey-whatever" decision.

Yes, I stole that from Caitlin Moran.

Caitlin Moran.  My new imaginary best friend.  We would get on so great in real life, with our inexpensive handbags, whiskey-drinking and strident feminism.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ladies of Darkness, Ladies of Light

and Ladies of never-you-mind.  
This is a prayer for a Blueberry Girl.  
First, may you Ladies be Kind.

Ladies of Grace and Ladies of Favor
and Ladies of Merciful Night
This is a prayer for a Blueberry Girl.
Grant her your clearness of Sight.

Ladies of Paradox, Ladies of Measure
Ladies of Shadows that Fall
This is a prayer for a Blueberry Girl.
Words written clear on a wall.

It is exhausting to maintain passionate energy for any significant length of time.  I find myself wondering, "Is this really that important?" or, worse yet, "maybe I'm just worked up over nothing."

It's not nothing.  But I am tired.  Life has a habit of filling you up with all-consuming, all-draining details.  It makes me think of that game we played as kids, where you had someone imagine that you were slicing them open, filling their body with sand and then sewing them back up again.  When it was my turn, I felt each limb getting heavier and heavier and by the time I opened my eyes, I could hardly move.

I need to find ways to rid myself of this excess weight.  Some cleansing, quiet ritual that will open me up and let all the sand run out onto the bathroom floor.

Which brings me to something I've been wanting to write about, and talk about and do.  Ritual.

Like symbols, rituals are ways to make the intangible tangible.  There is so much in life that is mysterious, that defies not only explanation but language.  Rituals, symbols, images, these are ways to connect to Something that is otherwise beyond us.  It's the language we understand.  I think we've been using them from the beginning of our story in this world.

I think that in order to feel as though this is a lasting change in me, I will need to begin making the intangible tangible.  I will need to create some rituals.  I'm not sure what those will look like just yet, but I need to hold something in my hands.  I need to breathe deep and do meaningful things to remind myself that I am not the same.  This is important.  I woke up.  And I need to remember that I did.

There is no savor more sweet, more salt / than to be glad to be what, woman / and who, myself

I would love to talk more about Ritual.  If you have something to share, please leave a comment!

P.S.  The poem at the top of the blog is an excerpt from the Neil Gaiman book Blueberry Girl.  It reads to me like a prayer.  I have the book at home if you want to come by and read it sometime.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I voted!  My ballot is all filled out and licked and sealed!

I feel smart and powerful when I help choose what happens and who controls what happens in my city and my state.

In my next post I'm going to do some quoting from Blueberry Girl, by Neil Gaiman and I want to explore the  feminine archetypes:  Maiden, Mother and Crone.

But today - my ballot is filled, I'm going to bed and I have some fun outdoor pictures to share.

Once Upon A Summer's Hike ...
... we challenge the men to recreate our pose.
They agree.  but only ...

... if they get to create the next pose.
They're a lot stronger than us.   

 Time Alone in the Wilderness:      

I'm closer to what I'm searching for when I'm alone in the wild.  I center down.  I walk and I think and I breathe deep.  And I wait for it to find me.                       

The Bull of the Woods Wilderness

oh woman / remember who you are / woman / it is the whole earth
This is Riley.  He will eat the bad guys.
Next week:  Archetypes!  Aren't you excited??

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To Every Thing There Is A Season

I think it important not to deny things their time.  Even if that thing is uncomfortable or ugly.  Maybe especially if it is uncomfortable and ugly.

I've been mulling over some things recently.  Rolling them over in my mind like marbles between my fingers.  I know that in every journey there are no clean stages.  There is no magic line that you cross over from one phase to the next.  Often you find that it is
scootch, scootch, stall; scootch, stall, catastrophic reversal; bog, bog, scootch.
So, there is this messy journey.  And yet, I feel the need to place myself, to see where I am, to think about the other women who have been here and to ask them what they felt, what they experienced.

One thing I have identified is that I have felt angry and I have felt sad.  I was visited by Grief and filled with Rage while I  "stumbled down a maze / bewildered."  Then, I woke up.  Someone's thumbs covered my eyes and when I opened them again the world was ablaze with light.  There is Joy in knowing where you are, that you are not alone, that others have passed by, leaving candles to mark their presence in the wilderness.
Joy shakes me like the wind that lifts a sail,
Like the roistering wind
That laughs through stalwart pines.
It floods me like the sun
On rain-drenched trees
That flash silver and green. 
I abandon myself to joy -
I laugh - I sing.
Too long have I walked a desolate way,
Too long stumbled down a maze
by Clarissa Scott Delany
But it's a messy journey, yes?  And often the "catastrophic reversal" is not negative, it's just part of the process.  So, here I am again, full of Rage.  And I must give it its time under the sun.  I've been reading about the difference between Rage and Outrage.  Rage is internal.  Outrage is external.  Outrage can be turned into action.  And if you're careful, it can be guided by love and make change.

O, may my Rage become loving Outrage.

Why am I full of Rage and visited by Grief?  Because I've had my eyes opened to women.  I've begun to see how we've been oppressed, suppressed, lessened, brushed aside, and silenced.  And this is only the beginning.  I am a strong person, centered solidly in myself and I have not personally experienced all of this.  But I have gotten a whiff of it; I've tasted it.  And if those of us who are strong cannot fight for, speak for, stand up for those of us who are weak or silenced, then whatever are we gifted for?

It is so tempting to brush it aside, to see it as not that big of a deal.  But there are centuries and centuries of abuse that have shaped our consciousness, created a "normal" that is warped and wrong.  I've begun to see it and I am so angry and so so sad.

Today, I let that be.  I sit here; I stand here; I pace here, and I am filled with Rage and visited by Grief.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Denise Levertov comes stepping westward quietly, speaking to us

There is no savor
more sweet, more salt

than to be glad to be
what, woman,

and who, myself,
I am, a shadow

that grows longer as the sun
moves, drawn out

on a thread of wonder.
If I bear burdens

they begin to be remembered
as gifts, goods, a basket

of bread that hurts
my shoulders but closes me

in fragrance.  I can
eat as I go.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lovely Sunday

Lots of coffee and tea, a big puzzle, a warm scarf with my pajamas all day, and endless episodes of Downton Abbey.  Call me lazy and indulgent, but make sure you add that I was blissfully so.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Power Struggle

Out at a coffee shop drinking tea this snowy morning a friend and I admitted that being in a relationship means consistently giving up power.  

Say you are someone who likes plans.  You enjoy going out to dinner with friends and you enjoy going home when you decided you would go home.  What was in your head comes to pass because you are master of your own destiny.  All of sudden, you find yourself in a relationship with someone who likes to go with the flow, who thinks that going to ice cream after dinner on a whim is so fun!  You realize that you are no longer the sole decision-maker, that this inconsiderate person saying YAY is the person wrenching that decision out of your hands.  You feel angry and confused and unprepared for ice cream.  

Or, take the reverse:  when you were single you liked to see where the night took you.  Once you were out, you were out until things died down or you got too tired to drive home.  Now, you're with someone who can't roll with the punches as easily as you can.  When, after dinner, your friends say, "Let's go to a bar!" you stop mid-YAY when you see your partner's distressed head shake.  Suddenly you feel weighted down by that person and their complete spontaneous ineptitude.  Are all your fun, unplanned adventurous nights behind you?

My friend and I are strong, independent, smart women.  We rocked singleness.  We loved being where we wanted to be when we wanted to be there and leaving when we were done.  We governed our own lives responsibly and well.  And now, we are learning that becoming someone's life-partner means loosening our white-knuckled grip on control.  Which is tough, since we know what is best and how it is best done.  It is hard to give up control and know that the other person might not use it wisely (according to us).   

Sometimes we're very unhappy about it.  But relationships aren't about making you happy all of the time.  Sometimes you will be very very bitter and unhappy about the loss of control and Head Honcho Status.  It's true.  

This is reality.  If you want to be on a team, you cannot make all of the decisions all of the time.  

Damn it.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

dreaming ...

Wouldn't it be crazy if lower-class, gay friendly, minority women were the voice of Christian faith in this country?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dancing Sugar-less Plums

Yesterday in the car, Audrey and Henry and I were resolving to do and NOT do a lot of very important things.

Lisa:  "I resolve to not drop babies on their heads." (note:  this is not a habit of mine)
Henry:  "I resolve to not go in the men's bathroom if I'm a woman and not go in the woman's bathroom if I'm a man."
Audrey: "I resolve to love everyone in my life."

Audrey for the win.

One thing I am currently resolving to do with my in-laws Kiersten and Seth and my out-law Laura is not eat sugar for two weeks.  Think of it as a reset button after the holidays.  Unfortunately, sugars are in a lot of things.  The peanut butter I was spreading on crackers.  Milk.  Tomato soup.  So, I'm going to go with no obvious sugars.  No candy.  No frozen yogurt.  Peter is playing the part of the enforcer, which is something this extremely undisciplined woman needs from time to time.  He is making me start over every time I mess up, like yesterday at the frozen yogurt store when I deliberately ate chocolate yogurt.  Today, it was an absentminded handful of chocolate chips.  I claimed accident and pleaded need for progress, so he compromised by adding a day to the end of my two weeks rather than making me start from scratch.

Normally, I don't do resolutions.  September is a more natural start to the year for me.  My birthday is at the end of August, so thinking of each year starting in the fall as my age changes works better than the arbitrary January 1st date.  HOWEVER!  I have one resolution and it will be put to the test quickly. 

I want to remember and acknowledge birthdays.  Ben Van Raden and Drew Haskell were born January 6th.  I will call them and say "Happy Birthday!" 

Friends will get calls; Family will get cards.  That is the plan.  Challenging, but do-able.  And I will do it.  I will be that person that remembers birthdays. 

and I will keep away from sugars for the next two weeks. 

and not drop babies on their heads.