Saturday, February 28, 2009

Follow your bliss

Follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell said. Start a blog, get in the groove of writing an essay everyday. Take lots of pictures, lots. The next thing you know, you'll see your photo and essay featured on the same Smithsonian Photography Initiative page as Hugh Hefner!

Life is short, people. Follow your bliss!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Peculiarities of Relationship

One of my favorite things about restaurants and cafes is that they offer so many chances to people watch. Sometimes I am quite clinical in my observations, noticing the clenched levator scapula muscles, the pulsing masseters, the jittery feet of people who are stressed out and really need a massage. Watching people sit down, and even more interesting, stand up, shows me many things about the functionality of their quadriceps.

Lately what I've been watching in cafes are the energetic relationships between people who meet for coffee or lunch. When they first see each other there is inevitably an awkward moment unless they're already the very best of friends. Will they shake hands, have a hug or just say hello? If one of them is already seated, will he/she stand up? There's always a moment of adjustment, a sense that two worlds have just collided.

Once they're seated, their voices modulate themselves, adjust in tone and decibel level to the other. Within the first couple of minutes, their bodies begin to mirror each other. After a few minutes, often - not always - both people will be sitting, for instance, with chin in hand, legs crossed. When one person uncrosses his/her legs, the other person does, too. I'm sure it isn't conscious.

Again when it's time to go, there's a moment of awkwardness because the two people, through the mirroring and voice modulation, have woven their energetic fields together. Even if they're meeting for business there's a second when it feels like something is being torn apart, as they separate.

The Tribute to Lost Loves I wrote about in the Peacock post, as it turns out, is not an altar but a painting. As with all such endeavors, I am learning so much about myself as I go through the process. Unlike Whistler's Peacock Room, this painting is rather pretty. Who knew?

When it's time for me to bury this painting, I wonder if I'll have an awkward moment like the people in cafes when it's time to leave? Or will I be all the way done with it and happy to shovel earth on top of it? We shall see.

Two seconds after I took this pic, the person on the left put her hands on the table and started fiddling with a piece of paper, just like the guy. Really!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

All Signs Point to ... Something

What do you think this arrangement of feathers means? I doubt seriously that anyone arranged them; they were just like this on the pavement right in front of the house on Tennessee Avenue. Probably they are the detritus of some early spring bird fight, at least that's what they represent on the most superficial level.

What I'm asking is, what are they showing me about my life? You see, I believe the whole world is an on-going, three dimensional, full fledged divination, pointing out to me - and you, too - everything we need to know. If only I was better at interpretation, I would never make a false step.

(pause while I laugh at myself)

Equally as potent as feather arrangements, cloud shapes, weather patterns and other divinatory signs and sigils are our national monuments, standing like huge runes or tarot cards, available at all times as shapes worth contemplating.

I feel lately that I am being pointed very specifically in the direction of happiness and connection by way of new doors, windows, and interaction with people I knew long ago. By changing my memories of my past I believe I am altering my future as well. If that's a delusion, well, OK. At least it's a happy delusion, right? Oh yeah.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Peacock Room

A friend who is studying interior design and I went down to the Freer yesterday to see the Peacock Room. Learning is always enhanced by taking a good hard look at what not to do. The Peacock Room is a perfect example of that.

It is a very disturbed space, dark and creepy, overdone in every way possible. Not only does it not enhance the porcelain pieces it was meant to showcase, it renders them pretty much invisible. I can only stand to stay in that room a few minutes before I have to get the hell out of there. It truly is a weird space.

I've always wondered what happened to Whistler while he worked on this room. Most of his art is not nearly so over the top. In the case of the Peacock Room, things definitely got out of hand. Who knows why?

Yesterday, gazing at the fighting peacocks, the Princess from the Land of Porcelain, (I mean, really!) and all that dark paint, the thought came to me that many of my romantic relationships took the same route as that room, beginning so joyfully and with the best of intentions, but eventually becoming overdone, overpainted, overworked. In the end, all my past romantic relationships were terrible burdens that had to be jettisoned. Things always got too heavy to bear.

And yet, the Peacock Room is on permanent display in the Smithsonian. It is honored as art. Isn't that something?

I'm thinking it might be time for me to build an overwrought altar to lost loves, a piece that honors the artfulness of those liaisons, including the artful darkness that brought each and every one of them to their knees. When I build this altar, I will let go of restraint and just keep adding more and more until it's as weird as the Peacock Room. Then what? Maybe I'll bury it, because I'm pretty sure the Smithsonian will not want to display it. We'll have to see.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Steal This Book*

According to the Meyers-Briggs personality index, I am an INFJ.** Though the "I" (introvert) causes me some degree of trouble out there in my culture of extreme extroverts, even more challenging is being a "J". As a judger, I tend to take things quite literally, always a problem, and too I construct for myself millions of rules that, if not followed, create in me such a sense of failure or at least stress, even though these rules come out of my own head and serve no real purpose.

Lately, as a result of re-working certain stories of my life, my habit of rule-making has become completely transparent. My revisioned personal history has given me a more flexible foundation to stand on, allowing me to loosen my habit of rule making. I don't know how to explain it. It sounds so weird to say that knowing I had fun in high school has reverberated throughout my life, but it has.

You would not believe how much more relaxed I feel. It's this ability to relax that has helped me realize it isn't crucial, for instance, to first slice the banana, then add the granola, and lastly spoon in the yogurt, when making breakfast. This combination can be assembled in any order I like, with no harm done. What a revelation for a rule-bound person such as myself!

My immediate environment has reflected this recent loosening of self applied rules. Out of the blue my roommate suddenly this week replaced my front door. The "ex" door wasn't fancy, but it served the purpose, closing and opening as needed. The new door is super cool, sleek. Doors are potent symbols, marking as they do the boundaries between one thing and another. Having a brand new very cool door means something, at least to me. I love my new door!

Yesterday my roommate told me he has also ordered new windows for my room. Custom windows that will open and close smoothly and easily. First, a brand new door and next, new windows to the world? Wow. I know it's early yet, but so far I am really liking 2009.

**Don't give me that look, Coffee Messiah, for labeling myself. In this case, the label helps me understand my tendencies, rather than pigeonholing me.

*A low bow and serious gassho to Abbie Hoffman, a quintiscential rule breaker. I salute you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Waiting (Impatiently)

The trees look swollen at the tips. Some have tiny budlets, others are shooting delicate little hairy things from the ends of their branches. Snowdrops are up (no snow for them to bloom into, oh well) and other bulb flowers have begun to send their sturdy leaves upwards. Spring is almost here.

It's the almost part that's difficult. I see the tiny buds and expect warmth, soft air. Flowers, laughter, people outside hanging on the front porches. But the harsh truth is, it's still February. No matter how ready the trees look, spring is not yet here. The reality of the calendar doesn't stop my heart from wanting spring, though, and wanting it bad.

"Almost spring" is, for me, the season of Rumi, of Mirabai, Surdas, all those poets who knew how to capture the emotion of yearning in words. Their poems always blow me away. Though rigorous, I believe yearning is actually good for we humans. It stretches the heart, teaches us emotional intelligence ... or kills us, depending on how we manage it.


There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of

spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At

night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its

face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language- door and

open the love window. The moon
won't use the door, only the window.

--Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's the "Real" Story?

Happy Birthday, George Washington! Yes, you, the guy who did not cut down a cherry tree, did not wear wooden dentures and who was a truly lousy general. Love to you, Reya


Revisionist history is one of my favorite things, maybe because all history is made up anyway. When the "official" version of history changes, what that means to me is that the foundational myths that underlie my culture have expanded to include a broader view of the past. When history is revised, we have to open our eyes to a new picture, a new way of thinking about who we are. How could that ever be a bad thing?

The book, Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford is one of my recent favorite books of revisionist history. I also really loved 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann. And 1491: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. I will not bore you with a long list but there are lots of these books in print.

I am also fascinated by the revisionists in all the sciences. Botanists, geologists, physicists, paleontologists, astronomers, geneticists (& etc.) are all discovering that the world isn't exactly as they imagined a generation ago, or in the case of the some of the sciences, even last year. The past is not set in stone, nor is "reality" for that matter. Everything in our world can shapeshift, really, everything.

Recent contact with a few of my dear ones from way back in my lifetime has forced me to revise my personal history rather drastically. All my sad stories about being miserable 100% of the time as a child and in high school have passed their expiration date and been relegated to the shredder. In fact, though miserable at times, I actually had lots of fun as a kid, even in high school. Who knew?

That it took me this long to revise my personal history is embarrassing. I wonder if all those official revisionist historians feel a pang of chagrin when they discover new truths? Do you think?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Fork in the Road

I used to call myself lazy, once upon a time. But after a whole lot of consciousness raising and loving kindness practice, I decided I'm not so lazy. What I am is afraid.

What's just around the corner? I'm always asking myself with great enthusiasm and curiosity. I love potential, I do. Though, when it comes time to make the changes I've so looked forward to, I balk, I sulk. Most of all I worry.

I'm a couple of weeks away from my first workday downtown on K Street. My schedule is full that first day, A Very Good Thing, yes? Yes. But ... since it will be my first day, I'm worrying about what I can't know yet. I'm worried about the big picture, I'm worried about logistical details, I shrink away from the commitment of time and money and yet in my heart of hearts I know that this is a GREAT opportunity that will open doors to who knows what?

My friend Elizabeth says that any time we bring a new room into our lives, all kinds of possibilities become available. In the case of me, it also means new possibilities for worry. For heaven's sake, when will I ever learn?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Harsh Promises in the Wind

Dear Brother Wind,

You are precocious, blasting through town as you did yesterday and this morning. You are a March wind, right? You're not like those metallic winds of December and January, no, those winds are thin and icy, dry as bones. You, my dear brother, carry a promise of something hardly perceivable just yet. Your rawness has a moisture to it that barely hints of spring.

You're cold and sneaky, slipping up the cuffs of my jacket, down my neck, turning my face bright red. Even as cold as you are, though, I hear a whisper underneath all your bravado. It's a spring whisper, it is.

Yesterday while you were trying to blow me into the river, did you hear me laughing? It felt good having all that old winter energy blown away. Yes, it felt good, gave me the giggles even as I was shivering and cursing. Wear the mask of winter, if you like, come early if you please (and apparently you do), but you are a March wind. I see you.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mysteries of Relationship

You know how some people, by virtue of who knows what, bring out the best in you? Other folks have the opposite effect. I wonder why? I'm sure some component of personality is part of the equation. If I really like someone, it seems natural that I would be the best possible Reya when I encounter them.

It hasn't always worked that way, though. When I'm around certain people - people I adore - for some reason I shrink into myself like a collapsing pumpkin after Halloween. With others I get maternal, never appropriate except with actual children. (I wonder what that's about.)

The impact of some people is great, though. I think of my boss at the San Francisco Symphony. He was ill tempered at times, and extremely demanding, but I always brought the very best of myself to that job. When I told him I was leaving the Symphony, both of us cried. My Kansas City friends N. and D. brought out a wickedly creative facet of my personality. When we got together, we didn't hang out, we co-created. It was a blast. I love them so so so much to this very day and probably forever.

Bloggers, too, bring out a creative facet in me. And a sense of connection with the world beyond the borders of DC. Bloggers make me think, inspire in me a sense of wonder, and open my heart and mind to so many different ideas. THANK YOU!

Yesterday I was emailing back and forth with an old friend who always had the finest possible effect on me. During the worst year of my life, he and I (and a few others) co-created not only our high school yearbook but some truly hilarious short stories, comic strips and drawings. This man is someone who can bring out the creative, celebrative best in me even during the worst of times. I ask you, is there any better friend than that?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Right or Wrong?

In the 21st century we have ethical dilemmas we could not have imagined even twenty years ago. I think immediately about medicine, of course, which has become so sophisticated that the families of sick people have options never before available, and therefore completely confusing.

Gone with the 20th century is the idea that no matter what we should always try to keep everyone alive as long as possible. Compassion trumped science when it became clear that sometimes, doing everything possible to keep someone from dying is actually cruel and unusual. Still, though, families have to decide what is cruel, what's too much, when should the feeding tube be removed, the respirator turned off. Having to make those kinds of decisions is, in itself, cruel.

I'm thinking about 21st century ethical dilemmas this morning not because of my interest in medicine, but because of the new Facebook Terms of Service in which they claim ownership of everything published on their site, forever. Forever? Hey Facebook, nothing is forever! The Facebook community is in an uproar of course. Ironic that this situation is being freely discussed within Facebook. I find that absolutely encouraging, and to be honest, kind of funny.

As for myself, I would not post anything here or on Facebook that's so precious to me that I wouldn't want it stolen. The internet is a place where anyone with a little know-how can steal anything they want, claim it for themselves, forever. At least Facebook is admitting it publicly.

That's no excuse, though. It'll be amusing to follow this particular ethical quagmire as it unfolds. Will Facebook change their tune in light of all the uproar? Who knows? We shall see!

I love that tiny Jake at the top of the pic, reflected from the rearview mirror.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Past, Present and Future

A friend of mine mailed the manuscript of her book to Oxford University Press just yesterday. She was so proud, she took a picture of it at the post office, wrapped and addressed, ready to become a part of history. She has been writing this book for years. It's one of those erudite academic books so far beyond my scope of understanding that, even though she has told me what it's about a few hundred times, I cannot retain it. I'm sure it must be great, though, otherwise Oxford U. would not have invited her to submit the full manuscript.

I mention my friend's book because I've been thinking about legacy, what do we leave behind after our brief stint here on earth in this precious existence? Some people have children, a fantastic legacy if you ask me. Others write books, paint, create works of dance or music, or leave behind trusts - libraries and such - or foundations full of money so that others can create legacies. I know of one person whose wish is to leave nothing behind, absolutely nothing, which is in itself a fabulous (if conceptual) legacy, considering how many billions of us there are on the planet at this moment in time.

One of the very cool things my friend said yesterday is that she considers her book part of a tapestry that stretches backwards in time as well as forwards. After all, she is building on the research and ideas of those who laid the framework for her area of study. It got me to thinking that all legacies stretch both forwards and backwards in time. Who painted the first painting? When you think about it, there's no such thing as the first book, first painting, first dance. All these forms emerged, not from individuals, but from interactions within the human community over long periods of time. There truly is nothing new under the sun.

So, legacy, then, is a process of weaving oneself into the tapestry of our human history, rather than leaving behind a gift for those who come after us.

I love thinking about it that way. Very cool, don't you think?

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I bought the book, The Singing Neanderthals by Stephen Mithen because I thought it was a book of the most ancient revisionist history. They have just mapped the genome of the Neanderthal, a close cousin of we Homo Sapiens, and are revising their thoughts about who the Neanderthals were because of it.

As it turns out, the book is about the evolution of music and language in Homo Sapiens, but it's not sociological, it's science - brain science - again! Rather than deciding to be disappointed, I'm going to go with the flow. I've been reading about the brain for months, why not another book on the subject?

The word "capitol" refers to the head, you knew that, right? The U.S. Capitol dome is definitely head-like. Sometimes it looks skeletal to me, sometimes stylized. And you could argue that the Capitol rotunda is the Head of America, or at least the Head of Washington DC. The four quarters of this city come together right in the center of the rotunda. It's a whirling, noisy vortex in there, somewhat like the whirling, noisy vortex at the center of my own personal head. The Capitol as head is not a ridiculous metaphor.

Anyway, living as I do just a few blocks from the Head of America, is it any wonder that I'm immersed in study of the human brain? Go with the flow, Reya, go with the flow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Nature of True Love

I believe in true love. I do. That might seem funny since I'm single and have been for a number of years. Let me explain.

According to the cosmology of Reya, true love is the love that sticks around, whether or not a relationship is long lasting or "healthy" (whatever that means) or whether things went terribly wrong at the end.

The people I've loved still hold a place of tenderness and honor in my heart. I still love them all, no matter what happened between us, no matter the reason we broke up. From my first husband, John David, whom I married in kindergarten - really, we had a ceremony and everything. I believe my sister Hannah was the officiating minister (she must have been so cute doing the ceremony since she was, at the time, four years old), to Miles (unfortunate disparity in our ages - he was 17 and I was 23 when we met - how could it have ever worked?), to the painting professor, the heart-breaker musician, George - my high school sweetheart, to David at Lake Tahoe, to the violinist with whom I had that torrid affair, to my ex-husband, my girlfriend of five years, to "Hotel Boy" as a friend refers to him, to my always and forever beloved Prince Charming in NYC - and on and on - my heart is still and probably forever resplendent with true love for the people on this list and many more I didn't name.

As a devotee, love is always the way I talk to God. Whether I'm feeling love for the divine wisdom in the abstract, or sensing divinity as it radiates from the people I know, true love is, for me, a most sincere form of worship. True love doesn't disappear or fade - not ever - at least for me. If it does, well then it wasn't true love after all, just a passing fancy.

Happy Valentine's Day to all. Get out there today with open hearts, people! Oh yeah!

A Great Birthday!

THANK YOU everyone who made my birthday yesterday so special. I received gifts and paper cards and ecards, phone calls from my nearests and dearests, many birthday wishes here on the blog, and on my wall in Facebook.

In addition to all the birthday wishes, lady luck was with me. I WON Willow's anniversary drawing!! Woooo-hooooooo! Later last night I got to do the IM chat thing with one of my favorite people on the planet.

Worked hard all day and made money, always a good thing for me, but especially right now in the midst of the economic meltdown.

All in all - a superfine birthday. Thank you so much. I mean it, thanks. It's a good thing to feel well loved, especially when one's birthday comes the day before Valentine's Day. Life is good and I am grateful. Onwards & upwards.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Solar Return

Aging is humbling, in every way you can imagine. Those who either romanticize or demonize aging (or both) are either in the most severe denial possible or have not yet reached the age of 40. It's right around age 40, sometimes as late as 45, when we humans suddenly realize, almost always with a shock, Oh. This is my life, the life I am now living. All those other lives that I imagined for myself? Fantasies. The sense of having plenty of time to pursue whatever you want for yourself evaporates during the decade of the forties. It becomes absolutely clear that our precious lives in this form are finite.

It is a shock, hence mid-life crises.

One of the best things about my trip to Rome a few years ago was the opportunity to watch women of around my age. In that culture, women are proud, always, at every age. I watched so many gorgeous women, silver-haired, wrinkled perhaps, but still beautifully dressed in their perfect silk or linen sheath dresses and high heels, faces impeccably made up, heads held high, striding down the cobblestone streets. After that trip, I came to understand that there's no need to be ashamed of growing older. I didn't do anything wrong, after all, I just haven't died yet. I too can hold my head high, why not?

Still, it takes me aback a bit to understand that the earth has made yet another full turn around the sun since the last time it was February 13. Faster and faster the years fly by. Wheeee!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Money changes almost everything.

Do you get it? Which parts are "spending" bits, which parts are "job generating" bits, which parts are "pork"? One thing for sure is that everyone I know is talking about the Stimulus Package. Everyone has an opinion, and of course everyone is an expert. Almost everyone. I'll admit I'm no expert, but that would never stop me from forming an opinion. Everything I read about the package makes sense to me in terms of rebuilding our country. I'm for it and I trust our president completely.

What's more interesting to me than the particulars is the fact that Americans are thinking about the economy, trying to understand what's going on. Five years ago I doubt seriously that one in one hundred American citizens were focused on the structure of our economy. But right now, right here in February 2009? I don't know anyone who isn't focused on it. We are waking up!

It's so much money that I can't begin to imagine what the numbers mean. My roommate told me last night that a trillion seconds ago was the year 2,000 B.C. Was that supposed to help me grasp how much money we're talking about? How can anyone figure out how much should go to this program and how much to that program? Aren't they just guessing? Who knows?

Meanwhile our spring-like weather continues. Along with the unexpected warmth, Brother Wind has been rushing around left and right, no doubt trying to balance the atmospheric pressure which is as out of whack as our economy. The tips of tree branches are beginning to swell, Jake is feeling as feisty as he can given his advanced age, and I, too, am feeling energetic. Spring isn't here, but it's coming.

No matter the state of the economy, the cycle of the seasons keeps turning. I love that.

Look at all these robins! They, and the squirrels, could give a rat's ass about the Stimulus Package.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Forgetful Body

It's balmy today, supposedly it will get even balmier (is that a word?) later on. The air is so soft, the birdsong is so sweet, that already my body is forgetting the sensation of cold.

Spring is here, my body is saying. Pull your shorts out of the closet, dig through your shoe stash and locate the sandals. Shave your legs, for God's sake.

What my mind knows, but my body does not realize, is that this is still February. Warm as it is today, and even though the days are getting longer and longer, Winter is still in full force. We'll see more very cold weeks, might even see some snow (I hope).

Maybe it's the short term memory problems of the body that make spring a season of ever-changing moods. Our bodies expect warmth and comfort, but spring is never the way it's "supposed" to be. Raw and blustery one day, warm and lovely the next, hotter than hell the following day, then back to windy, rainy and chilly. My mind knows only too well that spring is a disturbed season.

Nevertheless, give me a couple of days like today, and my body longs for spring, forgetting all its inconsistancies. Clearly there is some kind of disconnect between the two.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Smooth Break from the Old Way

Last year's roses.

I am a follower of rules. No, really I am. Not "the" rules - maybe what I'm talking about is habits. Routines, habits, rules, whatever you want to call them, I'm more comfortable when the pattern of my day is laid out. I set up these rules and then follow them as if any other pattern of behavior is unthinkable. These routines make me feel safe, contained.

Sometimes, I strain against my own rules, feel bound by them. Many times in my life I've thrown a metaphorical malotov cocktail into my set of rules, blowing up every pattern all at once. It's an effective and dramatic technique. Kind of traumatic, though.

Sometimes there's no pushing or forcing involved. Sometimes, I just wake up one morning and live differently, as if my cherished rules had vanished, overnight, into thin air. I'm in one of those periods of time right now, breaking old habits right and left, effortlessly, seamlessly, or so it seems.

A friend tells me that anytime we bring a new room into our lives, all kinds of possibilities open up. She was referring to my new office space downtown on K Street, but what was in her mind was the metaphor of those dreams in which you discover a new room you never knew about in your house.

I like this new room in my life, I really do. I didn't have to break the door down to get in. I didn't even need a key because it wasn't locked. All I had to do was simply open the door. Presto! A new room and a fresh start. Isn't that something?

Last year's TV.

Monday, February 9, 2009


For a psychedelic experience, minus the drugs, check out "S Curve" in the lobby of the Sackler, by Anish Kapoor.

The fact that Jared Diamond characterized the Inkas as "naive" bothered me to the very end of the book Guns, Germs and Steel. A lot of things about that book bothered me.

I'm not saying that Guns, Germs and Steel is a total waste of time. It got me thinking about many things, got me wondering "why?" over and over again. Revisionary history is one of my favorite topics. But I wouldn't recommend the book. In fact, even though it was published only twelve years ago, recent revelations about - for instance - the "written" language of the Inkas (they used a binary system of knot tying to "write") clearly shows that a lot of Diamond's theories are past their expiration date. The Inkas were anything but naive! Charles Mann's explanation of European conquest on this continent (and in S. America) rang much closer to the truth, if you ask me. His book, 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, is great.

As you can see, I had many arguments with the Diamond book, but I read it anyway because I'm curious, not just about the how and what and when of the world, but also, the why. Are there other animals who strive so hard to understand the why of the world?

The itch to understand is one of our species' most adorable traits, at least I think so. And, too, it gets us into so much trouble. I can tell you from personal experience my intense why curiosity has gotten me into a world of hurt, over and over again.

Even as I write this I'm wondering what to read next. In spite of all the trouble-making a curious mind creates, I indulge the part of me who asks "WHY?" again and again. Why? Beats me. Do you know?

Mama said there'd be days like this.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


The light was really beautiful this morning. Gold sunlight sneaked across the sky underneath a bluish grey overcast. Fantastic!

Am I a new age person? God, I hope not. I think of new agers as airy and fairy, non-substantial, floating around for eternity in puffy clouds of white light, innocent, stars in eyes. You know, clueless. During my years as a witch, I seized every possible chance to belittle the new agers. I was proud to be dark and "powerful." Strange to think back on that point of view now.

Truth is, these days I use white light upon occasion, I'll admit it. I wrap my heart, or my entire being, in a column of white light sometimes. The experience is protective, soothing and cooling, especially to the heart. It's a new age technique that works well for me. More evidence: I use crystals for healing, believe in the power of positive thinking and affirmations. I even believe in Atlantis. Who am I, and what has become of the old Reya?

Ever since I found out about a Reiki Master attunement class that will be held within the circle of stones at Stonehenge, just before summer solstice this year, I have been shamelessly lusting after the experience, mouth watering like the biggest new age geek you've ever seen. Embarrassing but true. If only I had $3,000 sitting in my bank account, and had nothing better to do with that money, I'd sign up in a flat second, even though I'm already a Reiki Master. The experience would be SO new age! For heaven's sake.

Though no longer dark and witchy, and no longer thinking I need to be "powerful" (whatever that meant to me - can't remember now), I still cling in some way to the idea that dark is more hip than light when it comes to the path of the spirit.

Probably a good thing I don't have the $3,000. I guess.

Face of the sundial on the south lawn of the Smithsonian Castle.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Best Seller

I'm slogging my way through Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Did anyone else find it slow going?

He makes some interesting points, to be sure, so it's worth the slogging. True, too, is that I believe this and other social history phenomena books (like fairytales) reflect the unconscious group mind of society and culture. According to the cosmology of Reya, it's important to know what's happening just beneath the surface of the society I live within. And so I slog onwards.

Maybe what I'm struggling with in the case of this book is academic writing style. Though I also watched the National Geographic documentary based on the book, and found it just as turgid.

It's going to be lovely in DC today, a perfect excuse to put the book down, oh yeah!

Friday, February 6, 2009

When it's cold, I dream

It's been really cold in DC for the last couple of days, too cold to leap out of bed before the crack of dawn. Consequently, I've been sleeping in a little bit - well, till 7:00 a.m. which is late for me - and dreaming like crazy. Is it that I dream more dreams early in the morning right before I get up or is it that the most important dreams arrange themselves to occur then? I will probably never know.

The cold also means I've been spending time on my couch, reading. This week I've had my nose deep in books of fairytales and folktales. Those stories are, according to the cosmology of Reya, cultural dreams organized and put down on paper. Of course all folk/fairytales were shared orally from generation to generation before there was a way to write them down. I believe the seeds of many folk/fairytales come down to us from the very beginnings of human consciousness. These tales are blueprints of the unconscious grid of values and beliefs that lies just below the surface of every culture. No wonder I love them so much.

One of my favorite books is a collection of fifteenth century French versions of popular European fairytales, translated into English during the 1990's in the U.S. - a time when many people were interested in the feminine divine. One of my favorites is "Parslinette," a story we call "Rapunzel" in the here and now.

In the old French telling, the wicked witch is actually a very powerful fairy who understands it's her duty to take the baby in as her apprentice. She knows the baby is supposed to study with her because the poor pregnant woman craves the parsley that only grows in the fairy's garden. When the husband sneaks in to steal the parsley, the fairy takes that as a sign.

All is well between the parents and fairy until she makes the mistake of sprinkling too much beauty on the baby. When she realizes how beautiful baby Parslinette is going to be, she builds her a silver tower in the woods, to protect her, not as a way to keep her in jail. The kind fairy provides every entertainment for Parslinette - paints, musical instruments - all the arts are hers to explore in her luxurious silver tower. Parslinette has the most beautiful clothes, the most fabulous furniture you can imagine. She has dozens of songbirds to keep her company. In that version of the story, Parslinette, with her long blond hair, is pretty darn happy out in the woods in her silver tower.

So, OK, the fairy does get mad when Parslinette gets pregnant. Yes, she pokes out the prince's eyes and cuts off Parslinette's hair, but not because she's wicked. At least from the perspective of sixteenth century French storytellers, translated into English by late twentieth century American goddess worshipers, she wasn't wicked, just pissed off and a little possessive. In the end, everything turns out well. After all, Parslinette is not a German folktale told by the brothers Grimm. Thank God! What those dudes were channeling was so dark and scary. Yikes.

Isn't it interesting that the cultural dream of Parslinette got turned around so dramatically in the ensuing centuries? Wow. Makes me wonder how my own personal dreams have turned themselves around during the many decades of my lifetime as my own value grid has evolved. Hmmmm.

Tomorrow it's supposed to warm up, a very good thing. My plan is to get up early, get out of the house. Enough of cultural dreams, enough of personal dreams, for the time being. Enough!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Challenge of Branching Out

I live in one of the loveliest little villages in the world, Capitol Hill. My village exists within the city of Washington DC. There is no wall around the neighborhood, there are no village boundaries marked with stones, signs or fences, there is no gate to the village of Capitol Hill. Nevertheless, all of us who live here know exactly where our village begins and ends. The walls and markers are unnecessary.

The benefits of living on the Hill are many. I would never have believed it when I lived in San Francisco, for instance, but it's true that Capitol Hill is by far the friendliest neighborhood I've ever lived in. If anything bad ever happened, really anything, I know I could knock on just about every door on this block and be welcomed in. I am not exaggerating.

So, it's great to be a Hillizen - and - the disadvantages of living here have to do with a tendency to get stuck. A potent Capitol Hill inertia developed the moment I moved here. That inertia gave rise to an idea (which quickly took root in my head) that leaving the Hill was not desirable. Or even possible.

It's always kind of a surprise, when I get on the Metro to go have dinner with friends in Dupont Circle, that I actually can leave the Hill. Maybe this sounds strange, though if you talk to other Hillizens, they'll confirm I'm not the only one who feels this way. We live in our own reality, a reality we prefer to remain within. Our reality is good and sometimes not so good (as are so many realities in life, yes?)

In the spirit of my goal to branch out this year, I've secured a deal to work downtown one day a week, beginning in March. I'll share the office with a naturopath, homeopath, and a craniosacral therapist. Cool? Yes, I think so, too. I'm going to be working on K Street NW, right in the thick of downtown. Yay!

This spring, I'm making it my business to get off the Hill on a regular basis, whether it feels possible or not. Inertia? What inertia? Won't the trees be so proud of me?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

White Light, Crystalized and Fluffy

"The white bees are swarming," said the old Grandmother.
"Do they have a queen too?" asked Kai, for he knew that real bees have such a ruler.
"Yes they have," said the old woman. "She always flies right in the center of the swarm, where the most snowflakes are. She is the biggest of them all, but she never lies down to rest as the other snowflakes do. No, when the wind dies she returns to the black clouds. Many a winter night she flies through the streets of the town and looks in through the windows; then they become covered by ice flowers."
"Yes, I've seen that!" said first one child and then the other; and now they knew that what the Grandmother said was true.

--from The Snow Queen* by Hans Christian Andersen

I love snow, I always have, even when I lived at Lake Tahoe where we received an average of eighteen feet every winter. It always feels like a blessing to me, including situations during which there's enough of it to make my beloved routines inconvenient. I actually like shoveling, I have excellent clothing technology in my wardrobe to keep me dry and warm. What's not to love? After a walk through the snow, there's nothing that makes me happier than tucking myself inside the house, making soup, watching the white stars fall and settle.

I love the crunch of snow underfoot, the way dogs leap and play in it, the communities of snow people that rise all over Capitol Hill in the wake of the storm. I love the way snow softens sound, reduces traffic, and makes everything look better.

Possibly it's my vivid memory of all those lifetimes I had during the Ice Age that made me such a lover of snow. Who knows? Who cares? I'm happy today because it's snowing. I think that qualifies as a cheap thrill, yes? Oh yeah!

*As it turns out, the Snow Queen is not very nice. Great story, though.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Culture Shock

Just like jet lag, culture shock is an experience that occurs after a long journey to a far-flung location. In the case of culture shock, it's almost always a situation that flares up after the traveler returns home.

A friend of mine in the 70's drove her VW "Thing" (remember them?) to Panama (from Kansas City) and back. She told me that when she crossed the boundary between Mexico and the U.S., on her way home, she was flabbergasted at all the signage - speed limits, directions, stop signs, stop lights, city names, signs with numbers identifying the highway, etc. It was totally overwhelming to her.

When my ex-husband returned from living for a year in India, he thought he was fine - until he encountered a revolving door, that is. He just stood there, staring at it, trying to remember how to use it.

Though I've traveled nowhere, I'm currently experiencing a variety of culture shock that has to do with the changeover of administrations. When I see the American flag, for instance, I am accustomed to recoiling in disgust. Oh, but wait! I'm proud of my country at the moment, for electing Barack Obama. I can reclaim the flag now. Shocking!

Or (as a blogfellow recently commented), when I see the president of the United States on TV, I am used to hitting the remote ASAP so as to avoid hearing even one word he says. But ... not now! Now I listen to the president. I can even understand what he's talking about. Astonishing.

The truth is, travel (in terms of geography, miles, kilometers, landscapes) is not required in order to experience culture shock. When the presidential culture changes as radically as it has for us this year, that change radiates outwards. It's visceral, really disorienting - in a good way, should say. Who knew?

I love the super zoom on my new camera. Do you see the Washington Monument way way in the background, just to the left of the Capitol? Once the trees come into bloom, you won't even be able to see the Capitol from the east edge of Lincoln Park.