Offerings

Several years before my grandmother’s death, she sent me a beautiful silver tray with the words “Chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj” engraved on it. It reads “Give us this day our daily bread,” translated into English.
I understand the meaning of this far beyond any scripture-celebrate that which we look upon at each moment. Today, I offer her beautiful roses to look upon, with gratitude for our mutual love of our Polish ancestry which she passed on to me in so many different ways. #ancestorsspeak
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Spirits of the House

The door slammed shut and I sat straight up in bed, the rest of the house at rest, uninterrupted.
I waited for a moment, lingering on the whir of the fan which seemed to have quadrupled. Was I the only one aware of the cacophony of noises battering half-asleep senses? For a minute, I thought about the onomatopoeia lesson I’d been teaching and laughed until I realized the source of it all.
Rain.
Pounding rain.
Pounding through the windows of the bedroom all over computers and carpets.
The house had woken me up just in time.
An hour later, I sat in the dim 6:30 a.m. light—the kind of light that smacks of a day in which twilight is the zenith point.
The thrum of the morning’s chaos lingered in my temples for little more than a moment.
Had I woken up even a few minutes later, we might have lost Ken’s entire computer system.
In older times, people believed that a house came with a spirit that cared for it as its own.
They can strike fear in many and cause all kinds of problems for humans who disregard them. When acknowledged and the occupants of a home demonstrate a respect for their space, they also can serve as thoughtful guardians who attach themselves to one or all members of a household. Known in different cultures as Lutin, Bichura, Matka Gavia, Ông Táo, Bes, Hestia, and many other names, these spirits exist in almost every folklore in the world. I often think of the Susuwatari (soot sprites) from Totoro and Spirited Away and their sweet mischief.
This morning, I am going to sit in the twilight of day and offer a bit of thanks to the spirit of our new home. It would seem we have found one another and I’m grateful they see me as ally and not intruder.
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Perspective

Perspective is everything.
I’m so destroyed after these last four days.
I’m going to focus on my coffee and a breezy trip to Paris in pictures.
The rest of it will have to wait for later this week because I need a day of not lifting, emptying and sorting.
My aching feet and tender back are making sure I follow my own orders.

Lessons from the Garden

I have a sweet wee chamomile plant in the garden that is as generous as she is beautiful.
This morning’s was my third harvest this season and she is still producing like crazy. Of all of my experiences growing herbs for tea, salves, and culinary goodies, chamomile has taught me so much more than I expected.
Here are some lessons she’s offered up:
1. Sometimes you have to recognize when you are at your zenith and most powerful. Then, shed your blossoms, recharge, and blossom even stronger next time.
2. Periods of dormancy are therapeutic and required to stay alive.
3. What you produce has the potential to be therapeutic if you allow it to be. Otherwise it is ornamental – lovely but fleeting.
4. Growth doesn’t happen without care from others. Allow it and choose people who will understand that symbiotic bond.
5. Pests and invasions and possible failure to thrive is real. Remain diligent in your attention otherwise you may discover too late that which has already sucked the life out of you.
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Visual Writing Prompts – Day 2

Note: I have set up a private Facebook Group for people participating in the daily prompts to share their work and receive constructive feedback in a safe space. Please click HERE if you would like to take part.

Good morning. We’re traveling the timelines today for a visit with Saturnino Herrán.

A Mexican painter and muralist from the late 19th and early 20th century, he is among those of the indigenismo movement who worked to celebrate Latino culture as the precursor to the revolutionary spirit of mid-century Mexican art, including having taught greats such as Diego Rivera.

The piece I share with you today, La Ofrenda, hangs in Museo Nacional de Arte INBA in Mexico City.

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Painted in 1913, it exemplifies Mexican modernism with its allegorical allusion to life’s journey. A punt boat in a canal is filled with zempasúchitl flowers (a marigold that is traditionally associated with death) meant as offerings for the dead. This is a reference to ofrenda, a tradition deeply connected to Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. Each character is represents a different stage of life.

Please take a moment to admire this incredible work by clicking through: http://munal.emuseum.com/objects/341/la-ofrenda?ctx=10fce3f5-35ee-46c6-8921-9a42d7ff90fb&idx=16

Of course, your interpretation doesn’t need to follow Herrán’s intention.

Instructions: Allow the mood and colours of the painting to influence your writing today. What is the story of those in the boat? Is there one character through which you can convey all of that rich emotion? Do they ponder? Or is this a quiet moment before the business of the city? Let whatever comes flow from your emotional reaction to the painting and write that. Don’t edit.

Enjoy your trip to 1913 Mexico.

Visual Writing Prompts – Day 1

Hello, fellow time travellers!

Are you longing for a bit of a solitary creative refuge in the middle of this quarantine?

Many of us continue to remain holed up in our homes across the globe. These many weeks of solitude (or sharing space without any breaks) leave us struggling with our sense of peace each day.

One of the ways I work with my writing groups to help ease anxieties and create space right now is through flash fiction using famous artworks as inspo.

My obsession with beauty, passion for museums, and love of storytelling led me to it, and students have adored the combo.

So, in celebration of art, support of museums, and an offering of solitary creative space, I’ll be posting a visual writing prompt each day along with light instructions to help guide you in this sweet process.

To kick things off, let’s go with Thomas Cole’s The Journey of Life: Youth. I love this painting for its ethereal quality and room to create your own interpretation. It hangs in the American National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Be sure to take some time and linger on this beautiful painting in high definition and with a bit of historical context at: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.52451.html

Instructions: Pick a character from the painting (or make one up) and lead them on a journey through it.

Things to consider: What do they discover? Who do they meet? Is there a conflict that makes this adventure a bit more exciting? Do they find what they thought they would?

Have fun writing! No pressure! No masterpieces needed! Just dream on paper. xo

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Pandemic Day 7 – A Devastating First Blow

Day 7: The first of many big blows.

I woke up this morning to find that my beloved yoga studio, Semperviva Yoga, has closed its doors permanently as a result of the financial devastation brought on by the coronavirus.

This is a crush to my psyche, as no place in my daily life provided me more relief and more growth as an individual on a spiritual journey. It was my temple, my community. On the mat, I dealt with a crippling major depression, recovered (it actually saved my life) from a devastating work situation and guided me on the path to founding my own writing academy. It was there where I met and cultivated some of the most important relationships in my life. And it is now gone.

What do I do?

I’m sobbing. I’m panicked. I’m rushing to reach out to the lovely women who are an intimate part of my circle, light bringers, spiritual guides who give all they have to bring us together on the mat. How do I recreate that community? How do I find my space? How do I do this on my own? How do I support them, make sure they can pay rent, feed their families?

I am stricken with devastation, immobilized, petrified that the landslide of loss has hit in real time.

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When I was a child, I had a recurring dream of me as a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who stood in the mirror. There, I lingered, fascinated by the single sparkling diamond of light that hung on a delicate chain around my neck.

For a moment, all was peaceful.

Then, from nowhere, a brown mass would flood in from the darkness and engulf me, smothering me until all of the light vanished and I could no longer speak.

I was silenced by a force beyond my control and left at the very edge of death, gasping for life but never fully dying.

I had it for years and years and only after my time on the mat did I begin to understand that it is the dream that represents my greatest fear, that I might end up voiceless and left to die without anyone knowing.

It was, in fact, my childhood fear of abandonment and inability to provide for my own security while the people around me struggled to provide there own.

I know it as my metaphorical landslide of loss and that little girl has risen up in me this morning, screaming to save her from the unknown.

I want to banish her, to get her the hell away from me because I can barely actually breathe right now, but I cannot. Her voice is my own. If I silence her, I deny myself.

I hear the voices from Beyond calling me to action right now, right here, to bolster a space that brings us the breath of life, to lift the voices growing quiet as the losses of the world flood in and overtake us.

If our temples, our churches, our synagogues were forced to close, we’d move to preserve them. Now is the time to fling the doors open and in the midst of loss let the light flood in, let the voices rise up.

For me, right now, it is about honouring that terrified little girl inside who cannot breathe, who believes herself to be at the edge of death with no hope.

In this moment, I am taking her hand and saying to her, “I see you, sweet girl. I feel all that you feel. I honour all that you fear. Now, as crone and babe, we walk together into this absolutely uncharted place in our lives. I cannot promise we will be safe from others. I cannot promise we will not face so much more in the wake of the world we once knew dropping away, calcifying, and re-emerging anew. However, I can promise you, sweet girl, that you are nowhere near death and the malignant mass threatening you from the darkness has no power over either of us. Baby girl, you are loved and never ever alone. Take my hand and let’s walk into this frontier as warriors together.”

(this spectacular piece of art is by Eva Campbell at https://evitaworks.com/)