New Glasses

That first day I sat in the big, fake leather chair at the eye doctor’s office, my little spirit shook.

At age 6, I couldn’t see the board at school. Typical. In my heart, though, I knew.

My eyes. Oh, my eyes.

Twice, sometimes three and even four times a year, I sat in that same chair as the world around me blurred in more dramatic ways.

“She could lose her sight,” I heard the doctor once say.

Somewhere around age 10, though, the doctor visits slowed. No one explained why. In my heart, though, I knew.

I wouldn’t lose my sight, but spend my life deeply obligated to my glasses and the health of my eyes.

In the years that followed, dozens of pairs of glasses came and went. I treated each eye doctor visit as self-care and fell in love with the routine of making sure my peepers got top-shelf treatment.

Graduating into progressives three years ago, I knew the annual glasses replacement would have to slow (they are damn expensive).  My last pair took a beating, literally on life support for the last few months.

So, when it came time to level up my prescription, I found that thrill of picking out the new pair and taking care of mes yeux rushing back.

Here are the results.

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Slow Travel

I’ve been circling around this concept of slow travel a lot lately.

It’s not shocking to anyone who has spent literally even one day with me that I am a bit of a doer. Chilling is not my thing.

I’ve got lists and then lists for the lists.

I survive on accomplishment alone.

It’s my insecurity, I get it.

To do is to have a purpose. To chill is to, well . . .

Yet, upon reflection, I’ve begun to understand how my urge to do, do, and then do some more is based almost entirely in the fear that I will somehow be thought of as less, miss out, that I only get one shot at things, and that everyone else is staring at me thinking I’m an idiot unless I am superwoman mounting the to-do list like the queen of everything.

This leads me to France and THIS ARTICLE from Quartzy.com.

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I am taking myself to France in October to, well, chill.

No, do.

No, chill.

No, do.

See, it’s a problem.

I am taking myself to France in October to research The Woman On The Wall. For those of you who don’t know, I’m writing a novel about the true identity of the Mona Lisa that is half epistolary love story and half Indiana Jones-style thriller.

I know, in my head, I am going to Paris and Amboise to chill and get to know the places where the novel is set as well as possible in 14 days. I’m not going to play tourist.

Then, the other part of my head goes bananas. I have like a billion to-dos in Paris in my Google Maps. I can do 12 hours a day in the first two days I get off the plane, right?

This article killed all of my need to do Paris (in a good way), giving me permission to just wander through my quick 72 hours there.

Yes, me and La Gioconda are hooking up.

We’ve already texted.

She’s expecting me.

However, I have now basically just thrown my crazy to the wind and decided that everything else in Paris can just happen.

We’ll see how I fare.

The Little Things

My husband is not particularly sentimental in an outward sort of way. He reserves that space for me, as sentimentality is a condition I dine on daily.

So, when he wandered home tonight with three bundles of the flowers we had at our wedding (my favourite) and a box of croquembouche from the local bakery for my birthday, my heart could not contain itself.

We’ve spent the last 20 years together and the relationship is one of comfort and mutual respect. To wash his socks that he needs for tomorrow means something. Lilies and French pastry from our wedding mean something.

These are the most wonderful gifts —ones that find themselves infused with the knowing that the person receiving them gets the thought that went into them.

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Time Machine Travels – 1975

A few months back, I asked my step-father to begin transferring over to me all of the photography and historical documents from our family.

I’ve always held dear the responsibility of family historian, and he graciously agreed to begin the long process after spending the last few years digitizing most of it.

Amongst the family trees, gorgeous photography, and art from the late 19th and early 20th century, a collection of more recent pictures flung me back to 1975.

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Me and my brother

Life in 1975, at the tender age of 4, proved pretty basic. We’d moved from the Mid-West to the Rocky Mountains of the United States, and I adored my wee bain of a brother.

These pictures are pure magic and a little heartachy all at once.

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Getting ready for church on Easter Sunday, 1975

My mom looks so fresh and wonderful in these photos. Gone almost four years now, I miss her and wish often to be able to consult her on so many things despite our challenging relationship as mother and daughter.

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Summer fun

This series is from the first year at my childhood home where we lived for more than a decade. I was surprised at first to see how shabby the backyard was as my parents always took great care, but remembered that they’d bought the home to fix up. These are so cute.

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My mom and brother in the backyard of our childhood home.

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Sister and brother always together

My brother and I, who remain extremely close, had a good cry over these yesterday before recognizing that they also very much defined the nature of the two of us as siblings.

Our time machine trip proved a sweet reminder of our constant bond, and how time cannot strip away connection.

Symbolism in Story – Peacock Folklore

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A JEWELRY STORE NAMED INDIA

If you hold this 
Dazzling emerald
Up to the sky,
It will shine a billion 
Beautiful miracles
Painted from the tears
Of the Most High.
Plucked from the lush gardens
Of a yellowish-green paradise,
Look inside this hypnotic gem
And a kaleidoscope of 
Titillating, 
Soul-raising 
Sights and colors
Will tease and seduce
Your eyes and mind.

Tell me, sir.
Have you ever heard
A peacock sing?
Hold your ear
To this mystical stone
And you will hear
Sacred hymns flowing
To the vibrations
Of the perfumed
Wind.” 

― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

This beautiful creation by poet Suzy Kassem pulls me back to it time and time again, as does the stunning brilliance of the peacock.

Peafowl, as they are often referred to, are ancient creatures steeped in the lore of nearly every recorded civilization on Earth. That wee detail proved enough for me to begin to notice the presence of peacocks as iconography as I researched the Renaissance for The Woman On The Wall. The discoveries I made sent me down a rabbit hole that refuses to spit me out the other side.

The peacock, it turns out, is a mysterious, subtle presence in an extraordinary amount of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Chinese, Persian, Hindu, and Pagan art throughout the ages. The Renaissance is no exception. If you examine the scenes of nearly any Madonna and child, religious gathering, ascension, angel visitation, even the Sistine Chapel, a peacock is likely to make a subtle, unobtrusive, yet significant62-47.jpg appearance.

I posit that the true significance of this magnificent creature is much overshadowed by its reputation in modern culture as a showoff.

In fact, if we dipped back to the Renaissance or earlier periods in our trusty time machine and tried to make a case for the bombastic nature of this bird, most people would banish us back to the 21st century, horrified at such foolishness.

My suspicion is that, at some point, those who feared the deep symbolism and potential powerful hold such an animal might have over humanity made a story up about it so we’d all be like, “You arrogant peacock. I will strive in this pious life of mine to not be like you.”

It’s possible we ought to rethink such conditioning.

The peacock, since time immemorial, is a symbol of immortality and the all-seeing one. Once I found this out, I started to examine the potential connections between them and the oracular Sibyls of the ancient world.

This was a big moment for me because I’d long looked for an anima (not animal) connection to the collective unconscious as it related to the Sibylline. As oracles, their connection to dimensional realities and access to other realms had to have been the strongest out of all. Their connection to the animals who live between the worlds, or could cross over, made sense to me.

Without getting too Wikipedia, the whole immortality piece is said to have come about because the ancients believed that the peacock had flesh that did not decay after death.

It’s definitely oversimplified and vastly underexplored to state that early Christian paintings and mosaics use peacock imagery to denote the value of immortality. They even used peacock feathers can be used during lent as church decorations. Of course, the whole immortality gig is linked directly to Christ in that tradition. So, this makes sense.

However, my limited experience with research has proven that folklore and legend is rarely the sole reason for integrating it into art, and most definitely not the reason for including it in church ritual.  Not to mention, the peacock is very much NOT a Christian symbol at its origin. Therefore, associating it as a symbol of Christ without taking the rest of history into consideration is dismissing thousands of years of storytelling and knowledge.

Let’s step way back in time:

The peacock’s origin is, as far as we know, India. Hindu mythology is packed with peacocks, and they were worshiped with exceptional reverence, associated with Sarasvatī.

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In Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology, the peacock feathers were considered much like the evil eye. They were all-seeing. It’s no secret that Egyptians, in particular, had a jonze for immortality.  Again, though, this leads my seeking mind to wonder where the peacock got its reputation as the immortal oracle.

Pythagoras wrote that the soul of Homer moved into a peacock.

Greek mythology declares the peacock created by Hera out of her watchman, Argus.

Christians call it their own as it was the creature that refused to eat the forbidden fruit at Eden and was granted immortality for such a pious act.

Islamic legend claims it was cast out of paradise. However, Ottoman iconography carries the bird on everything from mosaics to dishes.

In China, the bird was a symbol of the Ming Dynasty. The Chinese equated the peacock with divinity, rank, power, and beauty.

This led me to a fascinating fact that the peacock has the ability to eat poisonous snakes without harm. In India, Persia, and North Africa, this allowed for the title of protector as it became the defender of royal (or any for that matter) households.

It also shows up in 16th-century illuminated manuscripts and in front of the Vatican even today.

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The Peacock Stage / Breu

A necklace of Amethyst, peacock feathers and swallow feathers were a talisman to protect its wearer from sorcerers according to Pliny (my personal go-to while exploring the connections between alchemy, science, and the metaphysical). Meanwhile, the peacock’s blood could dispel evil spirits.

Alchemist thought the fan of the peacock (cauda pavonis) is associated with certain texts and images that are useful in turning base metals into gold.

So, as you can see, the peacock may have some cause to be a bit cocky. However, I believe it instead to be the keeper of secrets far deeper than the simple myths that exist surrounding this gorgeous creature.

The peacock plays a primary role in The Woman On The Wall. Stay tuned to learn more, as da Vinci was an enormous fan of the birds who still walk the grounds of Clos Luce today.