Sound

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I am listening to the gurgle of rain as it slips into crevices in the earth and the eaves of my porch roof. The sound is gentle and soothing, fitting for a cold fall day with weather that makes you want to nestle under covers and dream of light.

I can hear the wind too, along with the blue jay, who both on occasion break through the steady pattern of rain so their voices can be heard. Inside my house, the furnace hums in the basement, reminding me of warmth, while the clock ticks away time. Just now, a flock of geese is harkening winter through the gray sky, but it soon passes.

Sound. Its vibrations bare the spectrum of extremes. I am trying to understand how our bodies learn to love and hate the music of sounds. How some sounds fill us with light, while others make us recoil in fear or loathing.

Over the past several weeks, I have born witness to the impact of sound on my 9 yr. old son. We are, it seems, living on the edge of extremes, any sudden variation in tone tipping the emotional weight of endurance inside of him. We are living in the breath of rain before it falls, wondering when each sound will shatter the surface of his body.

Because I understand what my son is going through, doesn’t make it easier. I don’t have the answer to peace for him. I cannot step inside his moment of intensity and turn on the silence he craves. Sound cannot always be stopped. Life must go on. Pets need to bathe themselves, meals need to be eaten.

When I was a child, my sensitive body would often recoil from unavoidable sounds. At night I would toss restlessly in my bed, stuffing pillows over ear plugs in an effort to block out the song of crickets outside my window and the chaotic symphony of my sister snoring in the bunk below me. During the daytime, it was usually my stepfather’s habitual sounds that would trigger me, tying my stomach into knots of swallowed rage. The piercing dissonance of his whistling, the near-constant clearing of phlegm from his throat…it was nearly insufferable for my young body.

Now, I watch my sensory sensitivity mirrored in my son, whose tolerance is even more fragile and volatile than his mother’s. I understand his suffering, but the magic cure to help him is eluding me. I learned early to suffer through sound by silencing my own voice. I see the irony in this as I write. Perhaps this is why I welcome, in some ways, my son’s outbursts of frustration with his noisy environment, knowing too well the consequence of swallowing voice.

I want to show my son that sound can be a balm. I want to show him how to push aside the barrier of resistance and open the door to joy, which is always waiting. Yet, this door is not always easy to open, I know. Sometimes, when I listen to someone chewing food, I can reach his or her place of inner joy, and my body will fill with the soft prickles of shared light. Other times, though, like my son, my skin recoils in irritation, and I find myself clenching my muscles in frustration. I am still learning that there is always light to be found within sounds. That we can reach that space between rain, or that space between the chewing of food and hold onto the silent music of peace.

 

 

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Who would you like to share a meal with?

At 9:15 this morning I made myself a second breakfast for no other reason than that I was hungry. The smoothie I had blended two hours earlier had already left my stomach, and it didn’t matter that there was no one else in the house to cook for (unless you count the always eager dogs). Actually, it made the idea somehow more appealing. I had the freedom to make whatever I desired. Denise and Meadow Linn’s cookbook was already sitting on the counter, and instead of grabbing the fast-fix of an apple or hummus and multigrain chips, I flipped through the pages of the Mystic Cookbook.

I stopped at “Super Hero Pancakes,” and began gathering ingredients. Instead of melting coconut oil in the microwave, I scooped it into the cast iron pan (as they suggested) and watched it infuse the air with the energy of the tropics. I squeezed fresh lemon into the almond milk and stirred the egg in a ramekin before I whisked the liquids together. For a brief moment I rued my lack of spice grinder to mill fresh wild rice flour, but told myself an equal amount of brown rice flour would do just fine. And, it did.

The alchemy of food

The alchemy of food

Again I relished the alchemy of mixing, whisking this time the dry with the wet, until I was satisfied with the results. No need to worry about over doing it, everything was gluten-free. The cast iron sang when I poured circles of batter into its well-oiled surface. The creamy fluid spread, and I layered more on top, then watched as tiny bubbles surfaced from my pancakes. The second side always cooks faster, and I gathered my fork, one of my daughter’s fancy plates, maple syrup, and poured a mug of chamomile tea.

My Second Breakfast

My Second Breakfast

I dined in perfect peace, savoring the meal I had created for myself, while thinking about who I would choose to share my meal with if presented with the choice. I thought about how most of the more conventionally popular choices didn’t interest me. I wanted to dine with Denise and Meadow Linn. Especially Denise. Don’t get me wrong, I think both mother and daughter are fabulous, and both share that unique energy of pure, humbled, yet strong spirit, but my soul craves the sacred mother-energy that Denise embodies.

So, as I ate, I imagined the warmth of Denise’s beautiful soul filling the space of my home and blessing the food she had helped me to create with purpose, love and intention. I imagined the conversation we would share over our meal, and the joy that would infuse the space inside my home. And I smiled and ate my second breakfast.

An emptied plate beside a full heart

An emptied plate beside a full heart

 

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The Line at the Bubble (a chapter from my Y/A manuscript)

So, I’m trying to get back into the flow of writing my book for young adults (or adults and kids, whomever it appeals to!), and thought I’d share the working first chapter here. I would love to hear your thoughts. Does it capture your interest? Would you want to read more? Do you think your child would read it? Is this first chapter material, or would you expect this chapter somewhere else? And, just for fun, what do you think is going to happen next? What do you think this book is going to be about? Whatever you desire to share is welcome, and thanks for reading!

The Line at The Bubble

It was the second day of summer vacation. In two-and-a-half months Dell would be starting the eighth grade, but right now she was concentrating on the heat radiating from her hair. The water in the lake was warm for June, and the sun held reign over a cloudless sky, its heat sinking into her deep brown hair and turning the water that soaked it into vapor.

If Dell had a choice, she would live in the water. Dell’s mother liked to tell everyone that her daughter’s aqueous obsession was due to her birth. Instead of delivering in a hospital, Dell’s mother had decided to birth her first child in water, at a birthing center with a midwife.

“I wanted to make it like the environment inside the womb,” she told Dell. “You swam in my belly for nine months, it was only natural that I deliver you into water, where you could swim into your new world.”

Dell’s father, who had been a resident physician at the time of her birth, was less than thrilled with his wife’s insistence upon a water delivery, but had eventually relented. “We’ll only be five minutes from the hospital,” Dell’s mother told him. “Everything will be fine.”

And it was, Dell reflected as she floated. She had come to see her water birth as a gift. With her belly lifted to the sky, Dell thought about the lake’s ability to keep her body from sinking into the damp earth below. If she lowered her legs, she knew they would turn into an anchor, unless she moved them like she was peddling a bike. With her limbs spanned like an angel on the surface, and her chest lifted toward the sky, Dell could not sink. The water inside of her was in perfect balance with the water of the lake, and while she floated, suspended in liquid harmony, Dell forgot she was supposed to be unhappy.

That morning, Dell’s parents had announced over their plates of scrambled eggs and toast that they were moving to New Hampshire. Dell’s father had accepted a position at a small clinic not far from their summer home. He was to start his new job in late August, and they would be moving a few weeks before then, putting their house in Belmont, Massachusetts on the market and leaving their old life behind.

Dell was only somewhat saddened by the news. She would miss her home and her teachers, but she knew she wouldn’t miss some of her classmates. In the months before school let out for the summer, Dell had watched her two best friends shun her in favor of each other.

“It’s only natural,” her mother had said, when she told her that Lizzie and Sarah were no longer really her friends. “I’m sorry, honey, but three eventually becomes a crowd at your age.” “It happened to me,” she added as though this would comfort Dell.

Dell knew it was more than a simple selection of one friend in favor of another. During the winter she had won the top spot on the swim team over Sarah. Later, at a meet, Lizzie’s boyfriend had told her she looked great in a bathing suit, not realizing that Sarah had been within ear-shot. Dell was pretty certain that Sarah told Lizzie, after the meet, her own version of what had been said.

It had been a gradual fading, their friendship of three, but this didn’t make it less painful. Each time Dell saw Lizzie riding on the bus home beside Sarah, she felt a pang of envy and sadness. By spring she no longer bothered to sit with them at lunch, and they no longer asked her to. Instead, Dell would watch them from the length of the faux wood table as they giggled their secrets into each other’s ears, and wondered how many of them were about her.

In many ways, Dell concluded while she floated with her eyes closed to the sun, moving would be a blessing. She could start over in a new school where no one knew her, and there was the possibility of living on the lake. Her parents were thinking about renovating their summer cabin to make it a year-round home. They wanted to add a second floor, more insulation, and electric heat to supplement the wood stove. Maybe they would even put a windmill on the point of land over-looking the cove — they sure got enough wind — and add some solar panels to the roof.

Dell loved the idea of living at the lake year-round. In winter, if it got cold enough, she could skate on the frozen water, and her father promised they would try ice-fishing. Dell studied the trees framing the lake and imaged their leaves turning the color of flames. It would be beautiful and quiet here come fall, with most of the homes vacated until the weather warmed again.

A passing jet ski startled Dell out of her reverie and she shot its driver an annoyed grimace before she dove underwater. The murky world below the surface was revealed as Dell opened her eyes to the water. A sunfish darted past her as she swam to the lake bottom, her eyes catching on a black object jutting out of the sand. As Dell’s fingers touched its rough edges, she said a silent prayer that it wasn’t alive. If it was, she wouldn’t keep it.

The mussel released without effort when she tugged it from the sand. Dell studied the contours of the shell with her fingers and found a hole the size of a small pea. She knew the bivalve was no longer living, and brought it up to the surface. Now she had six. The shell was perfect aside from the small hole. The mother-of-pearl that lined its insides was an opalescent sheet of silk that shimmered in waves of violet, blue and white.

Dell carefully separated the shell at the hinge and returned the half without the hole to the lake. Her towel was hanging off one of the posts, and she grabbed it to dry her already browning skin, then wrapped it around her head like a turban. She picked up the shell-half with the small hole, and skipped up the stairs into the house.

On the sunporch five more half-shells from mussels gathered along the windowsill, catching the sunlight. Without really paying much attention to what she was doing, Dell took her newly acquired find and added it to her collection, rearranging the shells into a circular pattern, like the petals of a flower without a stamen, before she danced her way into the kitchen

“I’m starving,” she announced to no one in particular, as she opened the fridge and peered into its cool depths. The contents were disappointing. They desperately needed food, Dell concluded as she grabbed a Granny Smith apple.

Dell found her mother at the peak of land they called “The Point,” painting the lake in watercolors. “Can we go into town?”

As she studied her daughter, Dell’s mother brought the wooden end of her brush to her lips as though it were a pretzel. “Hmmm,” she nibbled the tip. “I suppose so. We could use some groceries. Is there something else you wanted in town?”

“Well I’d kill for some sushi, but Wolfboro isn’t exactly the place to buy it, is it?” Dell pulled her sunglasses over her eyes as she gazed at the water dancing in the sun’s light. “I’d settle for a grape-nut sundae at The Bubble.”

Dell knew her mother had a weakness for ice cream, and sure enough she started gathering her various painting supplies into her tote. “Go find your brother.”

Jack was where he usually was, in the middle of mounds of earth near the edge of the water. When Dell found him he was moulding sand to the height of his kneeling form.

“Great castle, buddy,” Dell appraised her brother’s handiwork. “Not bad for a six-year-old. Want to get some ice cream?”

“It’s a pyramid,” Jack frowned at his sister.

The line at The Bubble snaked down the street in a rainbow of bodies of various sizes and shapes, many clad only in bathing suits.

“Boy, you’d think it was the 4th of July,” Dell’s mom muttered as they took their places at the end of the queue.

Dell didn’t care that there were at least fifteen people in front of her. When she really wanted something, she pushed aside discomfort until she got it. Besides, she liked to people-watch, and standing in an ice cream line was the perfect excuse to be a voyeur.

While Jack skipped around their mother, tugging at her arms and asking when their turn would come, Dell studied the early summer crowd. She recognized at least half of the faces, but realized she didn’t know most of their names. Sure, she had a few summer friends who had houses on the lake, but during the three years since her parents’ had bought their summer home, she had made little effort to meet any of the people who lived in town.

When Dell’s eyes made their way to the front of the line, they stopped at a tall boy wearing one of those wide-brimmed fishing hats they sell at places like L.L. Beans and Cabela’s. It was navy blue, covering most of the boy’s hair and shading his forehead. He was paying for his cone, and as he turned away from the window Dell watched him lick his ice cream, then lift his eyes to meet hers.

“What are you looking at?”

Her mother’s words broke the energy that held her gaze to the boy’s. In those few seconds, Dell had forgotten everything but the color of his eyes. They were like the flaming sun in a cloudless sky. They were like nothing she had ever seen before.

Dell’s mother, not waiting for her daughter’s reply, located the object of her reverie by following the former trajectory of her gaze.

“Well, he’s cute, isn’t he?”

Normally, Dell would blush and roll her eyes, but it hadn’t occurred to her that the boy was cute. He was, she realized, but it seem insignificant. Somewhere deep within her, Dell knew this boy whom she had never met. And, Dell realized, as he stared back at her with an equal intensity, he knew her too.

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Social Studies

It started in the cafeteria, that place where cliques converge onto tables, their masses growing with popularity and spreading down the length of the tables like poison ivy beside a stream. Voices happier than a bubbling brook. Twenty-seven years ago you would have found me sitting at different table, those ones quarantined to the periphery, beside the other outsides not considered cool enough to dine with the masses.

It wasn’t always like that. Twenty-eight years ago I was cool enough to eat where I wanted, even though I wore my self-confidence in a fragile shell around me. That was before it was broken almost beyond repair. You can find the story in the book My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of  Leaving and Losing Friends. I’m not going to narrate here. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the cafeteria I dined in last night.

There I was, standing in the center of the floor dressed in skinny genes and a fitted t-shirt, my hair long and straight, my smile wide and unwavering. There was no doubt in those clear blue eyes that covered the room with ownership. I looked more like my middle-school daughter than my former self.

“He likes me?” I asked the friend closest to me, “Maybe I’ll go talk to him. Maybe I’ll tell him I like him.” We were talking about a beautiful boy in our grade, and I was sure he could be mine if I asked.

I carried the crowd down the hall, my hair waving to the students behind us as we made our way to our next class. Social Studies. I kid you not. Sometimes Spirit is so obvious you can only laugh, which is what I did when I woke this morning and reviewed my dream. Nowadays the class would be called Integrated Arts, I believe, but back in my day we called it Social Studies.

Perhaps I should be frustrated that I am still healing that insecure girl still inside of me, but I’m simply grateful she’s able to heal. I judge my dreams by their content and their emotions evoked. Last night felt like victory, not because I was about to win the heart of a popular boy and the admiration of my peers, but because I had the self-confidence to express myself in full, unbroken glory.

A few nights prior, I healed a piece of that girl (now younger than in the cafeteria dream) in another dream about a boy. Again, I looked a lot like my daughter, in fact it was as though our souls and bodies were merged. There I was inside a car, nestled into half-sleep in the backseat beside a boy my daughter likes. Outside was a lake of water from which I had just been rescued.

“I love you,” the boy whispered his kiss into my young body before I slipped into a sleep of bliss.

I can’t tell you why the boys in my grade school never “loved” me, I can only tell you of my longing to be loved. Like my daughter, I was a pretty girl, but I wasn’t walking inside a body filled with confidence. I was a child who wore the clothes of rejection since birth.

Before that ten-year-old girl felt the joy of being loved in my dream-state, I had another healing experience. A week and a half ago, I was at shamanic workshop and traveled to the belly of Earth with Huascar as my guide (to read the poem I wrote about this journey, please visit the post A Journey Back to Self, and found a little boy hiding inside the black body of a cave. Before the entrance was a phallus, standing tall and proud. We were retrieving lost pieces of our souls, and although one (including myself at first) might think I should have found a girl waiting for me, I had found a little boy.

Sometimes we forget that balance is a body of light and dark, a body of yin and yang energies in equal portions. That little boy represented lost confidence, and he/I was ready to welcome back that masculine energy that holds the phallus erect and the voice strong. I needed to reunite with that lost “boy,” before I could return that beautiful broken girl to a body of unwavering love and joy.

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The Cardinal: Singing Fear into Light

The cardinal is one of my favorite birds to watch. I often see them in pairs, the male bold and showy, the female more modestly camouflaged with the Earth. They are birds who bring the Earth’s blood into song and light.

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Singing Fear into Light

Look at me

I am red aflame
in feathers

Orange-beaked
I speak the Song
of Self

Sing light through
a collar of night

I am fear
transformed

This blood of Earth
moves through you

Listen

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The Earthworm: Recycling the Past into Light

I seem to be lacking a photograph of an earthworm, but I’ll be honest, I don’t find it one of Mother Earth’s more attractive children. I once had a dream about finding a pile of live earthworms inside the skimmer basket of my pool. The earthworm brings our attention to the burden of the past we  carry inside of us, reminding us that this weight we choose to bear can be recycled into new life.

Recycling the dark into Light

I chew the earth free to bring
air to dense matter. See without
eyes, feel
without hands
breathe
a skin of lungs

I am yin and yang
whole
even when broken

This past you carry
inside darkness
will be digested into light

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A Journey Back to Self (poem)

This poem contains pieces from shamanic journeys I have made to the belly of Earth.

A Journey Back to Self

I travel to the belly of Earth
to see the sun inside my womb

Serpent, you have rested long
coiled in wait at the roots

She, of the Fiery Eye, open
Night lies in a cloak of shadows

Shake free your mane, Skehmet
Ra waits above the Mighty Oak

Life grows in darkness
before it breathes Light

Huascar, I seize your offering
bring forth the boy in hiding

Quetzalcoatl of feathers and scales
I am ready to balance the star

And dance the circle whole

 

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