Tuesday, November 30


I wrote this wonderfully personal tale of rediscovering imagination called, Ruby Red Dragonfly, a couple of years ago.  Since then it has been gestating deep within my hard drive.  I printed a copy out of my computer about a month or so ago and have been reading it out loud to a group of hearty listeners on our weekly writer's call.  I read one page of the story per week.  At first I didn't think anything of this, my idea was a sort of dusting it off, bringing into the light of day.

Well, it HAS been gestating because I find it is harder to read. There are a few reasons for this floating in my head.  One is that reading one page per week is a bit grueling as it seems there is more gravity around WHAT I am reading and the story that I am telling.  Like a poem, each word most be spoken with deliberation and feeling so that by the end of the page there is a hunger for what lies ahead next week.  This brings me to my second reason for its difficulty. 

This writer's group that meets via conference call every week is more about EXPRESSING WORDS than the writing of them.  I can feel the intention of the group when I join the call, it's a very focused intention that says, "Come on, show me what you've got! I want to feel it right here!"  the intention says as it beats its fist against its heart, hungry to be fed, hungry to feel - love, joy, hope, forgiveness - to connect.

That powerful intention is often met from this end with a squeak in the throat.  I used to want to read things perfect the first time. Now I realize there is no such thing.  Every time I read is different.  Each word wants its moment in the spotlight.  Each one wants to ride the wave of emotion all the way into my heart and into the hearts of every single person listening.  That's where the squeaky throat comes in -- the stage fright.

I'd like to say I read every sentence straight from my heart allowing all the emotion to flow through it.  And that's where the beauty comes in, that's where I can see into the space that I am creating for myself in my writing and the reading of it.  That's where I get to practice everyday as I read more, and as I write more.  As I do this I become more familiar with the freedom in expression rather than the old, familiar, and quite frankly BORING experience of self-consciousness.

That's why today  I sit here, the fifth day in a row without a voice, and write all this down on the page.  It's funny not being able to express through my throat.  I can feel a pressing down between my throat and my heart as if there's a clog there.  Whispering the words on the page to myself is not the same as a exploding through my vocal chords.  The freedom of expressing myself through the READING of my writing feeds my soul just as much -- NO! even more than - all the peace, love, chicken fried steak, and mashed potato & gravy comfort food that my belly can muster.

Sunday, October 24

Healing the Illusion of Separation

A few days ago my friend and Vedic astrologer, Marga Laub, mentioned in her newsletter that Friday night's full moon was about, "Healing the illusion of separation."  I did not brace for any big lessons to show up on Friday night.  I drove from Mineral Wells to Austin for a weekend breath circle and girl time.  When I  parked my car in front of my girlfriend's house in East Austin I skipped a step in my usual process - forgetting to lock my car.  The next day after the breathing circle, the morning rain clouds had passed, the sun shone bright and my eyes squinted.  I reached into my console for my sunglasses. They were not there.

Where could I have put them. I pulled over and looked under the seat.  I KNEW I had left them there. I felt an uncomfortable sensation throughout my body, one that felt like I had no support, a feeling of loss, a feeling that I had done something wrong.

They had to be stolen.  Then I remembered I also had my ipod in the console.  If the ipod was gone then definitely someone had been in my car and taken my things.  I felt nervous and violated as I pondered the concept of loss and the emptiness that accompanies loss.  For a moment I steeped in this place and then wondered, "How can I get out of this funky place?" The first thought that came to my head was to do the opposite of what I was currently doing.

Gratitude.  That's when I started to think about the positives.  Well, my windows had not been broken, my purse had not been stolen, my car had not been hijacked.  It wasn't a violent break in.  As break ins go it was very benign.  It was not a confrontational robbery.  I thought about having to hand those material possessions over to someone and I would have gladly done that with gratitude in exchange for my life.  That's when the magnification of the loss of these items began to shrink to the size of a pea and I could really feel grateful in my heart.

I pictured someone else with my things and had to laugh at the first feelings that surfaced which were very reminiscent of a breakup - imagining a lover loving another sort of feeling.  I had to laugh, "It's a pair of friggin' sunglasses and a thingy I put songs and games on."

Then something else happened.  The thought of someone else enjoying these items made me happy.  I thought, "Wow! If those sunglasses or that ipod can brighten someone's day, more power to 'em."  I was able to feel love for these people instead of violation, grateful to them for reminding me that stuff is just stuff is just stuff.   Who knows, whoever gets hold of that ipod may end up listening to some of the wonderful books that I downloaded (David Elliott's - Healing and Relutant Healer, Ken Wilbur's - A Brief History of Everything, A Course in Miracles) or some of the great music selections (Jimmy Baldwin's - Vivador).

The next evening I ate dinner with a couple of friends at an outdoor cafe on East 7th.  We watched the moon rise through the ancient twisted oak trees at the State Cemetery across the street.  When I saw the moon I remembered..."this moon is about healing the illusion of separation," and I felt the oneness all around.

Thursday, September 23

Flowing Through the Autumn Breeze

Dragonflies have long been my touchstone in nature for gauging what's going on in my brain.  This time of year they seem to have gotten a second wind, just as their summer reign simmers to a close there has been a flourishing of dragonflies to greet the sunrises and sunsets.

On my morning walk today there were no signs of the dragonflies.  A welcome early fall breeze reminded me of the constant movement of things - of everything.  Wasn't it only a second ago that spring was in full bloom and I was ready to burst into the passion of summer?

Movement with all it's go, go, go serves an important place in the diaspora of life on this earth.  I walked up a steady, half-mile slope to the top of the hill. It was a slow burn - especially for someone who hasn't been engaging lately in all the joy that walking up this hill has to offer.   I practiced my circular breathing, waved my hands to keep the circulation in my arms flowing, remembered to thank the sun, the beautiful moon, the incredible blue sky, and the trees.

The trees.  The cottonwoods edged the road all along my walk.  Their leaves shimmered like hands clapping, or a cheerleader's pom-poms beating together to the rhythm of enthusiastic chant designed to inspire me. With their help I continued up that incline walking faster and faster, feeling it in my feet, my legs, even my shoulders.

I thanked them, each and every one for their ability to motivate me and also for their service to nature as such magnificent beings.  Their presence connected me in an instant to a moment in time merely a month ago in Abiquiui, NM where a grove of Cottonwoods along the Chama river welcomed me into their magical world at sunrise.  Cottonwoods, alamosas (remember the Alamo?) are the grande dames of the tree world in the southwest.   Their presence speaks volumes without saying much of anything at all.

On the way back down that hill I reflected on the turning inward that is being requested of all of nature in this season of Autumn.  I sometimes find that familiar old dribble in my mind creeping in to tell me I need to do more meditation, sit, be still.  When I caught those mental monkeys this morning trying to convince me I wasn't in the "right" place or doing the "right" thing I quickly acknowledged the importance of balance. 

My heart opens a little wider with gratitude each time I consider the simplicity of nature. I stood at the gate at the end of my walk reflecting on the idea that flow is about constant movement - the yin and the yang, the ebb and the flow.  Then I heard a voice say, "When it's time to sit in meditation, it's time to sit.  When it's time to walk up that hill, it's time to walk.  Constant movement, constant flow."  I look up to see the first dragonfly of the day.  One, only one, hoovering in the vibrant leaves of the cottonwood tree.

Wednesday, September 8

Sweet Mother of Jesus

I am often amazed at the capacity of my heart for forgiveness and rejuvenation. Having attended my brother and sister-in-law's wonderfully original and beautifully crafted wedding this weekend I was reminded that I don't have to DO anything or SAY anything to experience love and support. It's as easy as acknowledging that those elements are there - in the moment.

At first I questioned myself, "Was I doing enough? Did I bring the right things?" A piece of me wanted to do more for them. Yet as I looked around and stood at the precipice that overlooked mountains in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado I realized that the best I could do is to be at peace in my heart.

This simple act is the ART of BEING. It's the act that for centuries has been regarded as feminine in a derogatory sense of the word; regarded as weak and passive.  The art of being is back in vogue after centuries of oppression. The conundrum is that BEING - taking it all in, receiving, and the recognition that what seems like fear is most probably an urge to feel vulnerable - takes a lot more courage than the act of doing. (Brilliant quote by timeless master of your choice to be placed here.)

Forgiveness. Such a hard term to grasp because it involves my relationship with grace, nothing more - no one, no thing - just me and grace. Then I must sit with it - with silence in my heart. The rejuvenation it continues to bring is timeless and measureless. Just like the love that flowed from the top of the mountain overlook this past weekend deep in the four corners area of Colorado.

Monday, August 23

Three Little Things that Heighten Awareness

Summer, although pretty much over, has been a great opportunity for me to focus on staying alert.  Here are three questions I have conditioned myself to ask this summer:

There's a rat snake living in our hen house.  The snake and our chicken have developed a symbiotic relationship - nodding at each other as they pass the water trough. The snake eats the mice thus balancing the mice population and keeping the hen scratch in check.  The snake also eats a few of the chicken eggs a week, a small pay-off for keeping the mice out of the garden and everywhere else.

All this is well and good. What gets me is how I usually walk in to check the water, hay, and feed. It's usually done without even thinking about it.  Usually, my mind is elsewhere - focusing on the future - what do I need to do later? where I need to go? have I done everything I'm supposed to do? etc...

Since the snake moved in, I catch myself as I open the door and do a quick check-in - where am I? Where is the snake? If I don't see the snake before I go in, I am extra careful.  I can feel my breath move through my body thus sensing any subtle movements more clearly that occur within the hen house.

Where is the snake? It is a common question that has often been referred to when considering people who are less than honest or loyal (e.g., "He's such a snake!) and looking out for those types of people and being wary of them.  This time the question refers to not what is "out there."  Instead, it's within me.  Going into the hen house now I am aware of a shift in my consciousness not only focusing my mind on being aware but also feeling my whole body being alert.

In yoga there is a reference to what you learn "on the mat" and how to bring your experience "on the mat" to other areas of your life.  For me the hen house is the same as the mat. When I'm in the hen house I remember how alert I can be when I want to be.  I see my work as strengthening that alertness to occur in all facets and all moments of my life.

 The same idea can apply to this scenario.  The river is a wonderful place to be this time of year until about noon.  Then it can be warm, very warm, even uncomfortably warm.  Dare I say -- hot tub warm -- which isn't a bad thing, unless it's 109 degrees and you're looking for relief. It's also the time of year and the right temperature for all the snakes that love the water. Thus in this scenario I also refer to question #1.  (That's really not a problem. Dogs are very good at chasing snakes away.)

With 25 days in a row of well over 100 degree temperatures, ice has become the great equalizer.  Ice brings everything back into balance on super-hot days. It makes me feel supported, even loved. Ice. Nourishing and nutritious, it shifts the physical body into neutral when the skin is pink, the hair is wet, and the breath is short - especially when I'm running from the snake!

Thursday, July 29

The New Conventional Femininity

“When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman." -- Betty Friedan

I wanted no part in it.  My whole life I wanted nothing to do with the trappings of being conventional -- I shunned conformism, creature comforts, and practicality for a gypsy life of travel and solitude well into my twenties.  Then I found true love with Jimmy and through the twin sisters of fate and destiny we landed a beautiful baby girl into our laps.  I still would not give in to the traditional convention of family life.  I would not allow myself to get comfortable with the idea that being a wife and mother could in and of themselves bring me joy.  So what happened?  Why now? Why do I feel content and full in these rolls to the point of wanting to do them really well, to the point of being invested in them 100%?  The answer lies in how my view of myself has changed over the past decade.

I have noticed lately a deep rumbling in my being to experience - well the only way I can describe it is -- a deeper connection to the fabric of my family, and my home.  That is, basking in the beingness of my role as wife and mother. I spent years running away from  what I thought "wife" and "mother" meant, the conventional rolls I thought they would force me to play.  It scared me, frankly.

When I look back at my personal history and connect the dots, almost everything scared me.  I was skeptical of anything and everything.  I know that my negative and fearful attitude created the conditions for cancer to thrive in my body, in my second chakra, in the place of: life, beginnings, relationships, money, stepping out into the world with others.  Getting cancer was the trigger that showed me that I had to shift out of my negative place of being yet I had no idea how to do so.  One of my biggest awakenings occurred when I realized that the negative and fearful way I felt about having a conventional life -- marriage, kids, family -- translated to other areas of my life.  Negative and fearful was the thread that ran through most of my thoughts.  Skepticism lay like a smoky haze at the root of my being.

It's more than just a mellowing with age that has happened here.  My faith in myself grew with the planting of my dreams.  With every step toward a dream I noticed those voices got louder and stronger NOT in my favor.  For many years I put off getting my training in the healing arts, "now is not the time, your not ready," said the skeptical voice. When we found the ranch, the first thought that popped into my head was, "don't get any big ideas here that you can't fulfill."  It was a constant negative influx of words, thoughts, and feelings feeding my brain like a drug dealer pushing crack.

"WOW!" I realized.  That skepticism and negativity doesn't only show up in my relationships with others, it's that way with me too!"  What an eye opener.  That's when I stopped identifying with them.  "What a relief" I thought. "That's not me.  Those are only feelings that I'm identifying with -- as me."

Now I can begin to mellow.  I'm no longer frozen in paralysis when the dragons of fear and skepticism show up for a fight.  I'm getting better at noticing what triggers the fears that come up around how I'm running my business and how I'm caring for my family as a wife and a mother.  I'm learning how to manage them rather than feed them.  My identification with my conventional rolls no longer scare me, I welcome them with open arms. My femininity no longer carries the trappings of the past, it expands with the beginning of each new day.

Sunday, July 11

Embracing Vulnerability

The state of being vulnerable is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Open to the attacks of a non-physical nature." Vulnerability is something that society tells us is weak, I mean, who wants to be open to attack? Isn't it better to be prepared for battle with our armor on? Herein lies the conundrum of vulnerability - with our armor ON, those not so wonderful feelings of fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, worry, dread, distrust, etc. get to feed off of us and live a Bacchanalian existence in our being.

Vulnerability is the key to freedom in love. Vulnerability requires that we not take our physical nature too seriously. That means a healthy dose of time spent as the observer of our own experience rather than the sole identity of it. It's the old, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." It's being immune to the verbal and other kinds of nonphysical  attacks from others by remembering that we create our existence, we create every single experience that we have and through choice we can choose to create a different experience and a different reaction simply by changing our perspective.

Embracing vulnerability lies in choosing those things that support us and that feed us as individuals. This requires the awareness of what we are allowing to seep into our being, rather than just letting it all seep in and then trying to categorize it all into various compartments after the fact.

So today, as the moon obscures the sun in a total eclipse, take note: what is it that is obscuring you? What armor - the memories and beliefs from the past - are eclipsing your heart and obscuring you from seeing the full light of your being?

Open to your vulnerabilities. Stand in their strength and you will know the power of love.

Friday, June 25

Belize Memories - Senora Choc

Your wide smile lights up the darkness inside your one-room kitchen. How do you cook in there? How do you cut with a knife? Fry chicken? Thread the needle into the fabric of your family with your food in that dark space?

Sra. Choc, if I could see with those deep Maya eyes would I see a man I love drinking his life away? Or would I turn a blind eye and focus on those things that bring me joy?  Sra. Choc, your beautiful eyes and bright smile lend you a faint youthfulness as your children grow.

Could your secret be found in the dark. In your kitchen?

Sunday, June 13

Belize Memories - Tika II

I recently returned from a trip to Belize with my father. We traveled into the jungle, working for a few days at the archaeology site where I did my Master's research. Then to the reef for tarpon fishing. I was dad's host in the jungle. He was mine in the Caribbean waters near Placencia that are so familiar to him as a flyfisherman. Here is an essay from that trip:

Here kitty! Kitty!

I stare at you through the chain-link fence that separates us. I call to you as I would call a tame, domestic kitty cat. Your deep green jaguar eyes stare right through me. A voice speaks from a distance. Your soft golden ears perk up as you stare in the direction of the sound. Is this the voice of the one that feeds you? Because many other voices buzz all around and you give them no attention.

Your focus, sharp and stealth is my envy. Teach me your instinctual secret. I ask this of you though not out loud. I ask your permission from a place where you and I are one -- where our minds meet.

When you jumped down from the hollow log where you had been napping and ran toward me I should not have been so surprised.  I think of more silent questions to ask: Did you really hear me? Did you jump down to answer me? I searched the moment for a clue.

This time you stared me straight in the eye. And when you rolled over on your back as if you wanted to play I knew I had been taking myself too seriously.

Friday, May 14

Quashing the Kryptonite of Anxiety

Storm clouds loom to the Southeast and the Northwest of me this afternoon.  It rained all morning.  A hard soaking rain poured down onto the bulbs sprouting up in my yard.  Runoff dove down the side of the cliff and raced toward the Brazos.  Clouds to the South claim with their thunder that this storm may be repeating itself this afternoon.  Yet for this moment there is a calming peace accompanied by the promise of a clear sky directly overhead. 

This scene as a metaphor for life is not lost on me.  To the contrary, I sit at my desk watching a female squirrel acrobatically taking sunflower seeds out of the bird feeder.  She has an urgency about her - maybe it's the storm, maybe it's her knowing that I am here, that Nigel the Yorkie could come bursting out of the door at any moment to chase her; maybe she's still nursing the young squirrel standing on the sidewalk not quite knowing what to do. 

It is in her urgency that I see myself, her manic addictive urgency to complete this task at whatever the cost, even at the cost of ill health or death.  What I don't see in her Godlike animalness, is a thinking and rethinking about what she is doing -- whether or not she's doing the right thing, whether she has prioritized properly for the day.  She systematically collects and eats, collects and eats stopping occasionally with keen awareness to check on her baby and look for intruders.  Indeed, what before looked to me like urgency I now recognize in her as stalwart focus.

My question is: Does she anthropomorphize - Beatrix Potter style - when she gets home and force herself to feel a sense of relief about the day's accomplishments; or is she really just a little squirrel Buddha that recognizes the concept of accomplishment as simply another form of suffering?  It is here that she laughs in my face with her squirrel cum George W. Bush snicker revealing that she doesn't bother with either of these over-thought-out ideas.

I bring all of this up because the other day in a moment of clarity - you know, when you realize that you are not being mindful and just allowing your thoughts to throw up all over you all through the day - I caught myself in a panic. I realized that I had created anxiety about my day and then acted as if checking off my todo list was going to save me and make me feel better thus bringing relief to my anxiety.  That's the way the world works, right? That's what the old familiar voice was trying to tell me, "Check it off the list, then you'll feel better, then you'll be safe."

Well, I realized, I'm done with this rollercoaster - up, down, up, down, safe, not safe, relief, anxiety. I recognize my addiction to anxiety and how I create it in my daily life by setting up situations to feel angry, scared, and frustrated so that I can justify feeling relief.  Anxiety has been this outlet for me for most of my life.  Anxiety has been a distraction, an excuse to create confusion.  It has been my kryptonite weakening my attentiveness to self-discipline, self-motivation, and commitment.  It has blocked my clarity and hampered my judgment far too long.

Even though I no longer recognize anxiety as part of my identity, it still creeps in when I'm not paying attention. It is not me. It is not a part of this clear moment of cloudless blue skys.  It is a part of the storm that whirls to my Southeast and Northwest.

Ms. Squirrel continues her task of pillaging all the bird seed in front of my eyes.  She has taught me a simple lesson today about distractions and persistence - that with focus and awareness I can get the job, any job done even with the promise of dark clouds on the horizon.

Tuesday, April 20

Unfurling the Flag of Freedom in My Spine, Pt. 1

Scoliosis.  The word entered my ears in terror and fear as a young girl, about age 6, my daughter Ruby's age.  My grandmother was one of those overprotective women who's body had survived The Depression of the 1930's but who's innocence had been stripped away by lack - the fear of not having enough, and the loss of her father to spinal meningitis at the age of five. 

Her early childhood trauma combined with very little familial nurturing created an adult that knew best how to operate within the realms of fear and high drama.  As her only granddaughter, I was her focus.  She taught me to plan for the worst so that I would be prepared for the worst, for that is how she learned to survive. 

Scoliosis, she told me, was a curvature of the spine, and I would probably get it because my mother had it and her paternal grandmother had it.  My grandmother did not have it because it was from her husband's side of the family, she reasoned, not hers.  She had me regularly checked by a doctor and told me it was important to catch it right as the curve begins because if it is not treated properly - either by back brace or by - God forbid - surgery, I would end up all twisted over with a big hump on my back. 

Surgery.  The thought sent chills of terror through my body.  Having rods placed on either side of my spine sounded like torture.  Yet I dwelt on the thoughts, just in case they happened. I imagined differing degrees of severity and how they would effect me and my social life.  Would this person still like me? Would that person make fun of me?

I thought about how, depending on it's severity, advanced stages of the disease could affect me early in life - for the rest of my life.  With this information, the good Girl Scout I was wanted to be prepared so I imagined myself with a big old hump on my back, just in case it did happen. I thought how I would not be one of the ancient old ladies hunched over in church; I would be more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, only female, coming down from my tower immortally grotesque to ogle boys that would only spit back at me.

Like Ugly Betty I persevered.  Before too long it came to pass -  I was wearing a back brace.  Mine was the first back brace fitted at Scott & White hospital in Temple. It was clear the doctors there did not have much experience treating scoliosis. They molded a back brace cast onto my body many times before they made one that fit me properly. This took many weeks of my family driving me the 2 hours to the hospital for the fitting and hour after hour of grueling skin tear and bleeding.

Thursday, March 18

Imagination Revived and Revised

A few days ago Ruby asked me a question and I zipped my mouth closed.  She laughed and I unzipped my mouth to laugh with her.  In a few minutes she asked, "How do you do that?" 

I answered that everyone had a zipper on their mouth, she just hadn't found hers yet.  Then she said something like, "You're making that up.  That's not real!"

"That's not real!  That's not real!"  I cried?

I can't believe it, she's only six!  It's not already happening, is it?  Has she already given up on imagination?   Is she heading down the dark hall of "REALITY" in full throttle?

I told her that imagination fuels every movie that's ever been seen, every fairy tale that's ever been written,  and all the advertisements that are made (well, maybe not ALL the advertisements.)  Commercials are the thing that sends her Dad to Dallas every day, he uses his imagination and then gets to come be with us at the Ranch every night. 

Imagination is everywhere.  I explained to her that there are two kinds of people -- those that honor their imagination by creating and those discard and distrust their imagination.  The distrustors must rely on the creators who tell the stories, paint the pictures, and dip into an infinity, a treasure trove of expansive ocean fronts and way out wests.  The creators hold the title to their imagination real estate.

Ruby's eyes lit up and her smile sparkled.   I felt the shift when she gave herself permission to play without judgment.

"Hey mom!" she said, "You want to play pretend?"

"Sure I do," I said, "you want me to help you find that zipper?"

Thursday, March 11

Creating Space in My Brain

You're really not wanting to limit beliefs because belief is just perspective, and the more beliefs or the more perspectives or the more attitudes, the bigger the vibrational kitchen from which you can make your pie.  Just get so good at directing your Energy that the belief doesn't dominate. -- Abraham-Hicks

Meditation has become a daily part of my life.  It started innocently enough as my connection and participation in the beloved Lenten practice of, "giving something up."  I didn't want to give up coffee, tea, sweets, or fried foods. This is not to say that those are not noble things to give up during Lent, indeed they are.  The point of the practice is to connect yourself closer to God.  Whatever pops up in your head, whatever your intuition tells you its time to give up -- go with that.  My intuition, that voice in my head that I identify as Spirit, told me to give up the overwhelm, the confusion, to instead create space in my brain.

It began simple enough.  I have a playlist with all of David Elliott's breathing meditations.  Each varies in lengths from 7 minutes to 30 minutes so I have choices, options, depending on the amoutn of time I have that day to meditate.  By the end of the second week I created a couple of my own playlists to add to the mix -- ones with songs that uplifted me -- songs that raise my vibration and open my heart when I listen to them.

A week into the meditation the voice told me, "this is good but you have to commit to 6 months."  I couldn't help but feel like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill working with the Master.  I dropped the anticipation of being done with meditation in 40 days.  Indeed, there is no Girl Scout badge for me to iron on my vest saying I had completed this task.

Meditation is the practice of directing your energy, of drawing it in and learning from it, of asking it.  Jesus said, "If you knock, I will answer."  Meditation is  my walk down the path, the way I engage with my Energy as it comes up are my prayers.  The more I engage with it the more I believe.  My faith -- faith in myself, that I am supported, that I am love, and that the Divine has an investment in me strengthens with every breath.  The oven is warming up.  The smells from the kitchen are Divine.