Sunday, March 31, 2013

I never get tired of it

The church behind me used to be the Unity Church. I have taken dozens, maybe even a hundred, pictures of this church.

I am a creature of habit. For instance, I walk the same streets and take the same pictures over and over again. I'm aware of the repetitious nature of my walks. In fact sometimes I ask myself, "Do I want to take this picture again?" Sometimes I don't, but often, I do. Is that quirky?

Every time I walk past the Capitol, I think about the famous people who walked there once upon a time, like Walt Whitman, Abe, George, Thomas, John, Frederick, MLK, etc. Some days I look carefully at the ground, as if their footprints might still be visible. I love walking in their footprints.

Rhode Island Avenue was an Indian path long before L'Enfant incorporated it into his Masonic layout of old Washington City. People have been walking that path for a very long time. I love thinking about the layers of footprints beneath my ergonomic sneakers when I'm on that venerable street. There is history there.

Life goes by - so quickly, I'm discovering (as do all who live as long as I have). I can not grasp the river, but I can return to the same place on the bank of the river, or walk the same path next to the Capitol, take a stroll down Rhode Island whenever I'm in Dupont Circle. In so doing, I remember. I remember walks before 9/11, I remember my dog, I remember the people who walked here long before I arrived on the scene. I cherish these memories.

In terms of time/space, I can't go backwards, but I can spiral around in the dimension of space at least, put my foot where Walt's foot once was, where my own foot has been so many times before. I can point my camera at beautiful sights, push the button. I can't explain why, but this practice is soothing, like a meditation.

Gilbert Stuart (whose footprints are surely also part of the terrain) painted the same portrait of George Washington over and over again. He painted more than one hundred portraits of our first president, kind of amazing to think about. When I remember that, I figure my practice is OK. I'm in good company, at least.

It's rainy this morning but is supposed to clear up later. I'll set out then, walk past the Capitol. I'll take pictures, think about Walt Whitman's footprints. As always, I look forward to it.


I've taken this picture many times, but never with the One Way sign visible. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Story of an Easter Soul Retrieval

Easter week, circa 1978, was the last week of my nervous breakdown. That's one of the reasons I love Easter, the only Christian holiday I feel attuned to.

My boyfriend and I were living in my volkswagon bus, in Portland, Oregon. Oh that Pacific Northwest low hanging overcast! Oh that rain ... it was not good for me especially because I was already such a mess. Anyway, I got crazier and crazier in the bus with the sound of rain falling constantly. I was utterly incapable of helping myself. It was awful.

When Easter week rolled around, I went to church - to get out of the rain, mostly. But I was so fractured, damaged and sliced open that the story of the end of Jesus's life got inside me, worked itself inside my shattered psyche. When I remember that time, I feel so sad about how much pain I was in.

Yeah, that was me, the crazy lady sitting in a pew at the back of the church, rocking and crying as I listened each night to the unfolding of the story. It was a powerful experience.

On Good Friday, I found a pair of scissors in the bus and cut my hair very short. It was only then that my boyfriend understood something was seriously wrong with me. I had been telling him, but he couldn't, or wouldn't, see it.

On ... Good Saturday? What do they call the day between Good Friday and Easter? ... we drove out to the Columbia River Gorge where we often hiked. Spending time out there felt more like camping than being homeless, and we both loved the long walks through the ferns and past the waterfalls.

We woke early on Easter morning, began our hike. It was dark and of course raining, but for some reason we were inspired to walk far beyond where we usually turned around. We kept climbing and climbing until we were inside the low overcast. Rain didn't fall there, it condensed on every surface, including us. It was like being in the densest fog you can imagine. We kept walking up the trail and now it was getting lighter and then - a miracle - we hiked above the overcast.

The tip of Mt. Hood stuck up above the layer of cloud. We could see the tips of other mountains as well. The most important thing was the blue, blue sky above us. I had not seen blue sky in months.

I started laughing, the laughter accelerated into hysteria. Then I cried. After that I lay down and stared/squinted at the blue sky for about an hour. I was dry and warm for the first time in what seemed like forever.

At last we went back into the cloud, then below the cloud, back to the bus in the rain. Something fundamental had changed within me. It was an incredible day, the end of my nervous breakdown.

Within a couple of weeks we'd put down a rental deposit for a nice apartment. I found a job, after a trip to a hair salon to have my chopped up hair styled. I got a new pair of contact lenses through which I could see clearly. The tide had turned.

Of course I had a long ways to go before I was truly functional, and years of therapy and other work before I could begin to understand what had happened, but that day, that Easter Sunday so many years ago, was a real Easter. I felt it, I knew it in my body, what it meant to shove a big rock out of the way and get out of the cave. I will never forget that day.

I'm not working on Easter this year. I wonder how I'll spend the day. Walking around, probably, taking pictures.

I've told this story before, but I think that was on my first blog, now long gone. That Easter is now long gone as well. Thank God!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

God bless America

I haven't actually opened the book (since I'm deep into two other books at the moment), but yesterday I pulled Jacob Needleman's great The American Soul from the bookshelf, laid it on my altar. I was moved to do so after two days during which my neighborhood buzzed with the energy of the cases being heard down the street at the Supreme Court.

The wave of energy I wanted to access, in my role as shaman, is not about outcome, though of course I do hope they will strike down any law that prevents people who love each other from marrying. I try to avoid the thought form of this is right and THEY are wrong because there's already a lot of that energy floating around, especially here in DC. Us vs. Them? No thank you.

The energy I want to ride is best described by Mr. Needleman as America's unique ability to reinvent itself over and over again. He does not say America is perfect, oh my god, no way. He speaks to the ways in which we're able to make big changes culturally and societally - and how unique that is. He describes America as a work in progress. It resonates.

Here is a great interview with Jacob Needleman by Krista Tippett from 2003, titled "The Inward Work of Democracy." GREAT interview, well worth an hour of listening.

Instead of trying to will or hope or pray that the Court decides according to what I believe, I'd rather lean into the energy of possibility, dance with the transformational soul of America. To my shamanic eye and shamanic heart, the possibility that we are again about to take a huge step forwards is where the "juice" is. As a shaman, I find what I consider to be the juiciest energy, then dance with it.

I'm glad we won't know what the Court decides for a couple of months. I'm glad they take time to think before making these kinds of decisions, especially for something so important to me. People who love each other should be allowed to marry one another. If the Court agrees, won't that be something?

What will be, will be. Shalom.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Intersections of Fate

Her breast is reflecting light but it looked nothing like the star. It wasn't half as bright.

Yes I am a mystic, but I'm also a scientist, which is how I found myself in front of the Capitol today, moving from spot to spot, trying to find the reflection I saw the other day from one of the stars on the statue of Freedom's crown. Ah. To no avail.

Brother Sun made himself scarce, ducking behind the clouds as they passed through. The sky filled and emptied several times while I was out. It was very dramatic. They were ghostbuster style clouds, roiling and sculptural, greenish. They were cinematic.

Today was not the best day to try replicating the curious sight of the lit up star. Surely I'll be able to repeat the moment of the vision, on a clear day, yes?

Across the street, the scene in front of the Supreme Court was calm in spite of all the people. This is a big moment historically. I expected there to be a lot more energy down there than there was. People were polite, smiling and friendly, no matter what the sign said that they were holding. The sky was completely crazy, but at ground level, all was placid and quiet.

Anyone who knows anything about me knows very well that I think preventing people who love each other from marrying is horseshit. Gender schmender.

Once upon a time I would have tried to work the energy in some way. Lord knows, I used to try. I've worked magic all over this city - every bit of it in vain or worse. After a series of magical mishaps over a period of years, it finally dawned on me that friends who had lived here a long time knew what they were doing when they explained they never do magic in the District. The way this city was designed, the Masonic umph the founding fathers put into the layout of the streets, the orientation of the major buildings and such, all the magic they did within and around the cornerstones of the buildings, and the standing stones around the periphery of the district, is easily palpable today. Civil War battlefields circle the city. There are ghosts everywhere, soldiers mostly but also famous figures like Walt Whitman and the presidents. There are horse ghosts. There are even tree ghosts. For heaven's sake.

The energy of Washington DC is complicated, bewildering, in part because of the lingering magic of our founding fathers. It's no wonder people come here all worked up about how they're going to change the world, but once they get here, well my goodness, as often as not, they fall flat on their faces. The founding fathers' Masonic conjuring packs a wallop, makes a mockery of any attempt to change the flow. I learned the hard way but the good thing is, I did learn. Now I'm one of the people who has lived here a long time who never does magic in the District. Oh yeah.

But I am a shaman. Any time I come across a wavelength that seems beneficial, healing or joyful, I dance with that wavelength. I was unable to come into contact with a suitable wavelength today. In situations that involve this much energy, when so much is at stake, the best thing I can do is breathe, be as grounded as possible, and keep an open mind.

I'm trying. May I succeed! Shalom.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Still pondering the vision, and my friendship with this building.

The capitol grows upon one in time, especially as they have got the great figure on top of it now, and you can see it very well. It is a great bronze figure, the Genius of Liberty I suppose. It looks wonderful toward sundown. I love to go and look at it. The sun when it is nearly down shines on the headpiece and it dazzles and glistens like a big star: it looks quite

curious. . .

--Walt Whitman

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Imagine my surprise

I had a vision yesterday, a bonafide vision, just as shamans are supposed to. 

Here's how it happened. Somehow, for reasons I can not explain, I stopped walking. I stood still, my feet refused to budge. These things happen to shamans. When I suddenly stop in my tracks like that, I try to look around, listen, pay attention. 

I was on the grounds of the Capitol. I walk through there on my way to the national mall all the time. In good weather I walk past my good friend (the Capitol dome) three to five times every week and have since I moved to the Hill in 2001. Anyone who has had a look at this blog knows how fond I am of the Capitol dome. 

Can humans and buildings be friends? Why not?

There I was, standing still. I looked up at the Statue of Freedom on top of the dome. It looked like she was wearing a headlamp. There's a light in the pedestal below her that's on when Congress is in session, but I'd never seen a light on her head. I wondered if it was new. I couldn't discern the shape from where I was standing. All I knew was that it was a very bright light.

I have looked at this statue hundreds of times, maybe even a thousand times over the years. Thousands? I don't know how many - suffice it to say: a lot. I have never seen this phenomena. She wears a crown of stars, but I've never seen one of them lit up until yesterday.

It was a real vision. So cool. What are the chances of stopping in my tracks in the perfect spot at the perfect time of day with the angle of the sun just so? Seeing this was a gift. I felt like a Druid at Stonehenge on summer solstice. Oh yeah.

I'll be thinking for a long time about what this vision is meant to teach me. Not ten minutes before I saw the star, I was describing to a friend how I perceive beauty as a facet of our complicated humanity, one among many. It's always there somewhere, even if you can't see it. Sometimes that facet catches the sun, becomes bright and and captures my attention. Those were my exact words.

Ten minutes later, I was standing in front of Lady Freedom, taking a picture of the star that caught the sun and captured my attention. I'm still in awe. 

This is the shamanic lifestyle. 


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Further lessons in the Tao of Goldilocks

I learned quite some time ago to neither idealize nor demonize. Both are tempting, or at least they used to be. Should say I learned the hard way. Oh yeah.

Idealizing people or situations is not a pleasant condition. Whenever I fell into that romanticized state of being, it filled me with a deep yearning for something unattainable. It was frustrating. Another problem with idealizing is that it made me feel defective by comparison. I never idealized movie stars or artists, but I habitually projected a scrim of perfection on my teachers. I told myself it was respect but it added up to a lot more than that. I love learning more than almost anything, hence the rose colored glasses. When it became apparent that my teachers were real people, it was a shock.

Demonizing is a lot more fun though only temporarily satisfying. Demonizing people or situations is like scratching a mosquito bite; it feels good but shortly thereafter the itch returns, more insistent than before. Demonizing is a slippery slope. I've been down that slope many a time, too. It brought out the very worst in me. The Sufi acupuncturist says that kind of self righteous condemnation indicates lung heat. It would be great if it were that simple!

I'm thinking about this after spending some time today with a young mother who idealized what parenthood would be like. She has always wanted to have kids, always. At last she met a wonderful man, they married and soon thereafter, she was pregnant. Now that the scrim of the ideal has dropped by the wayside, now that she's sleep deprived, trying to juggle everything including her job (she has a big job), well, she's more than a bit disgruntled - and conflicted because she loves her baby with all her heart.

One of my great loves used to say repeatedly that unimaginative expectations lead inevitably to disappointment. In my mind, both idealization and demonization are filed under the category of unimaginative expectations.

Just like everyone else, I feel some regret that I didn't understand this earlier in life. Oh well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The pencil is mightier than the sword

I love pencils. They are forgiving. With pencils, you get do-overs, or I should say you get almost do-overs. Even when using the finest eraser with finesse, graphite shadows of failed attempts remain visible on the paper. Let's say the do-over potential with pencils far exceeds any pen.

For many decades I've been a fan of Ticonderoga #1 pencils. I always have a box or two on hand. They are smooth, controllable and perky looking. The eraser at the tip doesn't shed too many crumbs. The Ticonderoga #1 is a fine pencil.

Recently I've become enamored of the Prismacolor ebony graphite pencil. If the Ticonderoga #1 is a flan, then the Prismacolor ebony graphite is creme brûlée - it's that smooth and creamy. Yum.

I also adore Prismacolor soft lead colored pencils, but lately what I've been drawing and doodling has been colorless. My drawings have been all about the black of the pencil and the white of the sketch paper. It's an interesting development, my devotion to black graphite pencils. Perhaps it's a metaphor for how clearly I've been able to perceive my mortality since turning 60, or maybe my recent love affair with pencils reflects the impermanence of all things. I always loved it that De Kooning allowed Robert Rauschenberg to erase one of his drawings. They were so cool.

Maybe my current fascination with black pencils means nothing at all.

In the meantime, I'm drawing every day, which means I'm tuning fine motor skills and strengthening the connections between left and right brain. Also: it is fun. No harm done, hey?

I am pro-pencil, and I vote. That is all.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Power of Ice

In Norse mythology, Ice is one of the two primordial elements. Fire is its opposite. When they come together, worlds are born (9 to be exact). In Scandinavia, in Iceland and Greenland, spring and fall are fleeting. The seasons revolve around winter, interrupted by a short, intense summer. 

Is it any wonder their mythology is so extreme? 

I honor the power of Ice. Ice purifies. It slows time. Put it on a fresh injury and it will slow the swelling, diminish the pain by slowing the electrical transmission of pain through the nervous system. 

Ice is beautiful. Who doesn't love a glacier, a frozen pond (preferably with ice skaters upon it), a row of icicles sparkling in sunlight? What would a gin and tonic be without ice, I ask you? Well?

However, I am tired of winter. I'm tired of the power Ice is holding over Washington DC. Everything was just about to bloom when it got very cold again. I'm afraid the cherry trees will give up, drop the buds that are in a near frozen stasis right now. 

If that happened, it would not be a good portent. Ice is great, but here in the midatlantic, our mythology is different. Here the seasons of fall and spring prevail, with a very intense, long summer and a MILD, SHORT WINTER.

Did you hear that, oh gods of weather? This is not Iceland! Please release the grip of Ice on our fair city. Thank you.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Comings and Goings

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There's nothing I love more than an unexpected change of heart/mind. I can get entrenched in my opinions and point of view. I can lead myself to believe my reality is THE reality, unchangeable, immutable, eternal.

As if!

But when something happens that opens my mind/heart to a new concept, it reminds me everything changes and nothing is THE truth. There are many truths, many realities. I need to be reminded often of this, apparently. I'm good with that.

The experience Saturday night, the flyby with the ex almost-best-friend, was a revelation. Until Saturday, one of my core beliefs was that, if I had a deep heart connection with another person, it was inviolable, everlasting. I have a strong sense of loyalty - to a fault sometimes, I should say. That value lead me to believe that, once I love someone, the love will persist forever and ever.

Not so! I felt nothing when I saw the ex almost-best-friend. I had no desire to say hello - to what end would I do that? I didn't feel awkward or self conscious. I felt nothing, really - nothing. I wasn't even curious; had no urge to turn around while she was dancing at the back of the room, to watch her or get a read of her energy. We are strangers now - no strings attached, no trace of regret or loss. It's kind of miraculous. I can't remember this ever happening before. I wouldn't mind becoming strangers with others, especially those who treated me as badly as she did during the hideous break-up experience. Do I need to save a place in my heart for those people? I do not.

There are people in my life with whom I share a powerful wavelength. No matter how long it has been since I saw them, we're able to pick up the threads of our friendship immediately. I count within this group people I've met through blogging and on FB, people I've never met and people I've known all my life. That ability to reconnect instantaneously is and always has been magical. I love it.

But today I'm feeling equally grateful to know that once off a wavelength, because of something traumatic like that terrible betrayal, or even in circumstances in which we lose track of one another, it is possible to once again become strangers. The woman I saw Saturday - she and I were friends for a decade. We taught together at witch camp, we talked on the phone every week, sometimes more often than that. (She lived in British Columbia until she fell in love with my ex.) We were close, and now we're strangers.

Life is good and I am grateful - for my dear ones and for those whose stories I no longer share. Onwards and upwards. Shalom.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Sri Ram, Jai Ram

One of the things I love about Facebook is that I've been able to reconnect with people from every era of my history. Finding out what other people have been doing all these years, people who were, once upon a time, front and center in my life saga, is very satisfying to my ever curious mind. Old questions about whatever happened to (fill in the blank) have been answered. Those stories can be put to bed, complete at last. Ahhh.

Of course there are still a few people I'm likely never to catch up with either because they aren't on Facebook, are not google-able, or wouldn't friend me for love nor money. I'm thinking about one person, someone who was one of my best friends, who became romantically involved with an ex. Oh the love triangle - it SUCKS. My ex dumped me for my ex friend. It was a bitter break up, for sure. I lost both of them at once.

I knew the story of their three year relationship because after they split up, my ex contacted me, apologized. We had coffee and now we're friends on Facebook. All is well between us. But I haven't seen or heard from the ex almost best friend since the crash and burn of the break up. She lives in the DC suburbs. For the first couple of years after the breakup, I was always looking over my shoulder, afraid we would run into each other on the street. I decided it would be best if we sat down together, not to process the train wreck of the breakup but to put it to rest, but she refused to meet. As the years passed, I stopped worrying and eventually I stopped wondering or thinking about her.

Saturday night I went to hear Krishna Das in concert. I've needed some major uplifting, what with the turmoil over turning 60. And indeed the music, the chanting, his funny stories were both joyful and medicinal. I've been in a much better frame of mind since the concert.

Early on in the concert, in the midst of a rocking chant about Krishna, people in the audience started jumping up and dancing. I was among them, of course, dancing around in the aisle. Some people decided to move to the back of the room behind the seating where there was a lot more space for interpretive dance.

This woman, the ex almost-very-best friend, was among them.

Of course I saw her immediately; she walked right past me. But she didn't see me, or if she did, she didn't recognize me. I've aged a lot in the last 15 years, after all. She has aged, too, but I remember her vibe. It was definitely her.

After the song she returned to her seat close to the front of the concert hall, passing me again. I have no idea if she figured out I was there and I don't care to be truthful. The fact that we experienced a flyby meeting, especially in the atmosphere of that concert, felt healing to me. It felt like a completion. There was no need for acknowledgment. What in the world would we have said? I saw her, recognized that there is nothing left between us. We are strangers now.

It feels good, a wrapping up of stray bits of my life's history. She is completely out of the saga now. Time really can heal all wounds. Very cool.

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The boy who cried wolf

While I sit around feeling sad, my mind is busy. Busy, busy, creating theories. Oh I love me a good theory, don't you know?

One hundred years ago, the average life span was 50. Many people lived longer, but many also died younger than that. People didn't expect to live on and on as we do now. One hundred years ago, by the time a person turned 30, they made sure they were married, had their kids. By 40, they were rapidly aging and by 50, they were old.

The greatest generation had no idea they would live as long as many of them have. I hope it won't offend anyone who knows lots of 80 and 90 year olds when I say many of that generation have lived past their expiration dates, due to modern medicine. It's good and not so good.

When I approached age 30, I felt some trepidation. As teenagers our motto was Don't trust anyone over thirty. But then I turned 30 and it was nothing.

As I approached 40, I thought, Maybe this is the turning point. After all, one generation before us, Jack Benny's enduring joke was that he would stay 39 forever, because, he said, "there's nothing funny about age 40."

When I turned 40, just like age 30, it was nothing. From 20 to 50, the process of aging was discrete. Of course I aged, but with the high quality food we eat now and great medical care, both modern and "alternative" (great marketing term for modern medicine), also because I don't smoke and have always been active, I stayed in great shape. And I'm not the only one. My contemporaries enjoyed the same expereince.

When I turned 50, I celebrated. Why not? It felt like I had dodged the bullet and would live on, forever young. But during the 50s, aging accelerated. Especially after age 55. Gravity is having its way with me, oh yeah.

At 60, here I am, understanding at last, at a visceral level, that I will die. I can feel it. I will die. What I'm talking about is not the rational thought that life is fleeting and all of us are mortal, it's a sense in my bones and blood that I will pass away.

I can honestly say I have never feared death. Do I fear it now that I can feel its inevitability? I'm asking myself, not sure of the answer yet. One thing I can say for sure is I am not looking forward to whatever it is that will take me down.

Life is, as the Buddhists say, a precious existence. Sometimes I think we have to suffer terribly before we die before we're convinced it's OK to let go. Is that a dark thought? I hope not.

I have a busy work week ahead, a very good thing, I think. When I work, sadness becomes compassion. This knowing, in my blood, that I'm mortal, helps me be kind to my clients, a really nice thing, hey?

L'chaim, y'all. Shalom.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The dregs of winter will not last forever

A couple of warmish days last weekend lead me to believe that winter's back was broken, but no, it was just a tease. Spring has not yet arrived. I could blame the sadness I've been experiencing on the weather, or on turning sixty, something that continues to be baffling and alarming. I could blame it on the stellium of planets in Pisces except that close grouping is now opening up; planets are moving into Aries at last. I'm still sad.

Another excuse I came up with yesterday is seasonal. During the dregs of winter, many of our most tragic myths arose, i.e. the suffering, torture and death of Jesus, the enslavement in Egypt of the Jews. The spring equinox myths of Easter and Passover are not only about the miracle of Jesus rising from his grave, the miracle of arriving in the holy land, oh no. They are focused much more on the suffering that precedes the miracle. We humans are a funny species, aren't we?

I have plenty of excuses to feel sad, so that's good - I guess! Good, too, that I'm not depressed; this is not a dementor attack. I've felt sad, I've been actively grieving, missing Jake, that sort of thing. I've even been crying - so unusual for me. Physiologically a good cry is very cleansing; I'm trying to just let the tears fall where they may, whenever they come up. Why not?

Suffice it to say that this moment in the history of me is not happy. It should be happy, but it isn't. Oh well, such is life, hey? Such is life. I'm resolved to sit with what's moving through me, let it be exactly as it is. Someone posted on FB the other day that whatever path you're on - that's the path to enlightenment. I wait for the light with compassion and presence.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


One of the reasons I love winter after Christmas is that it's a season when it's OK to burrow, to become a hermit. Even when I walk around in winter, I'm able to be mostly alone because people scurry from one indoor location to the next. Winter is peaceful.

In spring, people come outside. In the village of Capitol Hill spring is a time of neighborly interaction. On a beautiful Saturday, it's not possible to walk through Eastern Market without running into a dozen neighbors. The cultural norm here is to stop, chat for a few minutes. It's very friendly, cheerful, one of the reasons I love Capitol Hill. After months hanging out in front of the fireplace, in spring people come out to work in their gardens or sit on the porch, drinking a cup of coffee or a beer.

Spring marks the launch of tourist season as well. The city fills up with herds of people wearing matching teeshirts, lead by someone carrying a distinctive umbrella so no one gets lost. There are also herds dressed almost identically in dark suits, holding expensive cameras, as well as the families spending their vacations here. The herds of teeshirted tourists seem mostly bored or distracted, the dark suited herds are intent and focused, also very much out of place at the Tidal Basin, for instance, in those suits. The families appear stressed out, on the verge of snapping at each other.

I don't blame these people for wanting to visit Washington DC. It is spectacular in springtime, though as I always say it's hard to share the nation's capital with the rest of the nation. I try to be welcoming, help people with directions. Sometimes, as they pose for their talismanic moment - the taking of the portrait in front of the monument - I'll offer to take the pic, or I'll say, "You'll get a better composition in your picture if you take it from in front of the Grant statue." They don't really want to hear that part. It's a talisman, not a photo, after all.

I'm nice, but it is a challenge. However, it is spring and the people are arriving. The neighbors are out and about, the trees are waking up. It's a thrilling season in DC, a bit overwhelming for this introverted hermit.

I know it's healthy and appropriate to mingle with the masses from time to time. Spring is the right time in DC. Bring 'em on!


Creating a talisman of the moment. The Capitol dome is behind them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Give peace a chance

I'm feeling peaceful today. It's an unusual sensation for me, especially of late. There are layers of reasons why I decided to go ahead and get my Shalom tattoo, including the truth that I need to contemplate, consider and cultivate peace every day. My tendency in life is to tilt into the prevailing tempo which has been, for awhile now, rather intense and transformational. Transformation is strenuous! Holy cow.

I include the visit to the doctor yesterday in the category of intense and transformational. I always say I'm holistic in my approach to health care. I mean truly holistic, including every kind of medicine. But I don't practice what I preach. Except yesterday I made a start towards assimilating ultra-modern medicine into my practice of aggressive self care.

It's too soon to say if my allergy meds are working. I'm breathing easily, but - it's raining today. Rain collects pollen and brings it down - rainy days and the first clear day after a rain are my best moments during allergy season. However, I will snort the nasal spray and use the eyedrops. One drop per day - that stuff must be so strong! No matter how expensive it was, I'm glad to have it. My sense is that over the counter medication tends to be a melange of substances. The more crap they add, the more they hope to boost the sense that it's working. Caffeine is in so many medications, for instance. It is a painkiller, so I guess it's fair. But my sense is that prescription drugs are cleaner, more to the point, if you know what I mean. I'm charging them with Reiki and taking them as directed.

Another blessing yesterday, in the midst of the wise, healing and auspicious new moon, was a letter from a friend I have not kept in touch with, someone who was kind, gracious and generous with me when I was freshly crazy from my upbringing. She was a wonderful friend, now an art historian and curator in Kansas City. Receiving a hand written letter is always a treat, especially nowadays, but a letter like this from someone so dear to me, a person who inadvertently dropped out of my saga a long time ago for reasons I can't remember, is nothing short of a soul retrieval.

I have the day off work today. I'm going to check out the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery again in a little while. I can't get enough of those hilarious and exquisite paintings and photos.

Said with conviction today: Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Healer, heal thyself

Today is an auspicious new moon in Pisces. There are five other planets in Pisces as well. It is a powerful, deep, watery moment astrologically, an excellent time for healing. I didn't consciously arrange it this way, but as it turned out I went to see a new doctor today, also made an appointment for some shamanic healing. It's gratifying to notice I'm dancing in shamanic alignment with the Pisces moment.

The doctor's office, pictured above, is ultra groovy, absolutely nothing like the office where my ex doctor worked (she retired). My old doctor was old school, and worked at an old school practice. But my new doctors are 100% different For instance, the doctor was ready to see me ON TIME. When was the last time that happened to you? I did not have to wait. Wow. It was she who greeted me in the waiting room. She had plenty of time to talk, and she listened carefully. She didn't hassle me about my weight or try to get me to take a million medicines. It was a revelation, I tell you.

I decided this year I want to enjoy spring without having to hide from the pollen. When I get a lot of acupuncture, I'm OK, but always wary for the super bad allergy days. Most of the time in spring, I live in fear because my allergies, untreated, are very seriously debilitating, even dangerous.

This year, I went for the big guns - modern medicine. I now have two Extremely Expensive prescriptions. I am so excited.

I see many very young healers, and that's great, but sometimes I need to be seen by someone of my generation, someone else who has experienced the world first hand through sixty cycles. Hence the appointment with the shamanic healer.

One sweet irony is that this ultra cool doctor's office is right across Farragut Square from the offices of the Sufi acupuncturist. I took a picture of his building from the waiting room. He's in the Barr Building, a very cool neo-gothic, built in the 1920s. It even has gargoyles. Of course it's the building in the middle.

Turning sixty is rigorous. The passage requires aggressive self care which includes ultra-modern medicine, ancient, venerable Chinese medicine and the oldest healing art of all: shamanism. Now is a great moment for profound healing and release. I have seized that moment. Hurray!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dark moon, beautiful weather. All is well.

Spring is glorious, spring is tumultuous, stormy, calm, clear, and raw, sometimes all at the same time. Spring is a crazy season. And as I am a priestess of seasons and weather, in spring, I too am crazy. Perhaps I should say crazier since I'm normally a few chips short of  fish dinner, or so they say.

This weekend in DC is replete with the glorious aspect of spring. Temperatures today will rise into the 60s F. I noticed yesterday that I'm definitely not the only person who was going stir crazy after the gloomy chill of February. Everyone was out yesterday. Eastern Market and Lincoln Park were full of people and dogs. I saw neighbors I haven't run into in months. It's always great to stop, chat, catch up a little bit. It was a cheerful scene everywhere I walked. Friends who went to the National Gallery reported that the national mall was full of people, too. Lovely.

The windows are open and I've reclaimed my perch on the front steps of the chateau between clients. Spending time outdoors is a major component of my Plan to Stay Sane. Though I got out every day during February, and even went out in the midst of the Faux Snow last Wednesday, it hasn't exactly been fun out there. Yesterday was gorgeous and so is today. I look forward to a leisurely stroll after work. It will seem so early to be finished with my day. That's the fun part of Daylight Savings Time.

Winter has worn itself out and is now in retreat. I speak from the perspective of the landscape in which I live. Friends in New York, Iowa and Colorado are still shoveling snow.

But here, spring has sprung. Grandfather Winter, I have this to say to you: Hasta la vista, baby.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Good riddance

I know the dementors were made up by R.K. Rowling, metaphors for her memory of depression. But dementors are real, at least in my cosmology. When they're around, hope, peace and happiness are absent. In fact, almost every kind of feeling is absent, even the sweet emotion of sadness is inaccessible.

Just like Ms. Rowling, I have known deep depression, hence I have a certain rapport with the dementors. It's not something I'm proud of.

The good news is that it has been a long time since I was deeply depressed. Thank God. But I recognize the feeling of dementors. When they're hovering, I make sure I have an ample supply of dark chocolate. I sit myself down at the Matchbox Bar where good vibes prevent dementor intrusions. I stick close to my near and dear ones and try not to succumb.

The No Snowstorm earlier this week screamed of dementor energy. I wasn't the only one who felt it, believe me. In the wake of the storm, I kept trying to figure out a word better than uninspired to describe my state of mind. Despired? Spired?  Because I was utterly uninspired, I was not able to come up with a suitable term.

Wednesday was a horrible day in Washington DC, like being in a blender full of poisoned ice, turned up to pulverize. For me, the fact that there was no snow at all wasn't much of a disappointment since I am, and have been for awhile, done with winter, looking forward to spring. I never believed for a second that it really would snow. It was too warm, no cirrus clouds, nothing. The partially frozen precipitation and the wind felt toxic. I'm telling you, the storm was a slushy dementor attack.

Today is brisk and windy with a shocking blue sky. Brother Sun is ascending, shining from an angle that speaks of the coming equinox. The dementors have slithered back to their dark and moldy domains.

Dementors come and go - that's life. But hope always returns. Welcome back, hope! Welcome back, peace! I look forward to some inspiration this weekend when temperatures will rise into the 60s. The trees are going to pop. Can't wait.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spin Doctors

See the waning moon above the roofline at Eastern Market? Pic taken yesterday.

Why do we humans love history so much? It seems to be a part of our wiring, this fascination with what came before. There's modern history, of course, but way before the invention of writing, people sat around telling stories. I suspect history is as old as our ability to talk.

Mythology is an interesting form, more a history of the soul of a particular culture than a precise accounting of what took place. I've always loved the Icelandic sagas even though they're truly boring in terms of storytelling. After Jon Thorsson killed his wife's brother, he paid a fine of 500 elk to the family.

I made that up, but it's in essence what all the sagas are like. They're earthy and so human. I think that's why I love them. Well that, but also I had some interesting past lifetimes in Iceland.

I wonder if lineage - the need to remember one's family - is the source of our interest in history. Lineage figures heavily in every oral history I know about, also in the bible and other religious texts. Who are our ancestors? It seems we've always been interested. Lineage has always been important.

Because we humans love to extrapolate, the original impulse to know from whom we sprang opened our minds to many other arenas of historical theorizing. That's what geology is, definitely: the lineage of the landscape. Modern history is a lineage of events, i.e. the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand started WWI. (Did it really?)

Along with wondering what happened, we tend to always ask why. And how, of course.

We humans are endlessly curious and we have a hard time being here now. I think that's because what already happened can be romanticized, and we humans are hopelessly romantic. Or at least, I am.

Glad to have two great books I'm reading, one of them a history of Haida mythology, a playlist of French jazz queued up on the ipod and plenty of coffee. In DC today it's allegedly snowing but it looks more like slush to me. I went out for a minute, but it wasn't fun. It was like having icy drinks thrown at me from all directions. Rude! So I'm indoors, cozy, wondering and curious.

It could be so much worse. Shalom.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Life goes on

I was at a dinner party last night with friends and their kids. The three kids are between one and two years old. I remember dinner parties with these people before they married each other. Oh my, those parties were quite different. Last night it was a cacophony of toys and "how cute!" and parents cajoling the toddlers into showing off, i.e. "Can you say 'Reya'?"

Five years ago a party with these people would have included a lot more adult talk. Everyone would have stayed later. Last night the party broke up around 8:30 because the kids became fussy and needed to go home and be put to bed.

In five years, gathering with these beloved friends will involve a lot of yelling at the kids. What is cute at age 1-1/2 is no longer adorable at age 6. The kids will have become territorial by then, so fights will inevitably break out. The parents will be doing that thing of saying, "I'm going to count to three ..." etc. The kids will be yelling, "Hey mom! Watch this!" A dinner party with these people in five years will be very noisy.

Five years after that, the kids will have no interest in hanging out with the parents. They will sequester themselves in a room with a TV or will all settle down with their electronic devices.

Last night I was thinking that in ten years I'll be moving into middle old age. I wonder where I'll be and what I'll be doing. Will I still be hanging out with these friends and their kids? Will I still be doing bodywork? Will I still be living in the chateau?

Sixty was such a big birthday, I couldn't think past it until now. It's kind of like the way, while growing up, I tried to imagine the year 2000 but seriously never considered the world beyond the new millenium.

Who knows what I'll be up to, or even if I'll still be alive? Anything could happen. And anyway, what's my rush? Be here now, Reya, be here now.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Crepuscular insight

If the weather gods could put together 4 or 5 consecutive days of 50 F. temps, the trees would pop. They're fuzzy, swollen at the tips of their branches and twigs, all lined up and good to go, like runners waiting for the starting bell.

I've been feeling impatient as all get-out. Today it came to me that I'm channeling the season. My human life is great; there is nothing going on that would make me impatient. I'm feeling what, in Chinese medicine, is called wood energy: that pushing, bursting rush of energy that accompanies the first part of spring. Can you imagine how much energy it takes to bust out of a bulb and push through the hard winter ground? The sheer power of the green world always amazes me.

How annoying that the weather refuses to comply with the upwards push of the green world. It's not freezing, but it's raw and cold enough that I had to put on the full regalia of winter outerwear for my walk today. Spring is tapping its foot and drumming its fingers. Meanwhile, in DC, it's cold and bleak. Me? I've been cranky.

While waiting for something to change outside, I've been reading a lot. I just read a story by a FB friend, someone I've never met, that's a revelation. What we need to know is readily available if only we will listen. I say that all the time; so glad to remember it's actually true.

Here's a link to his story, named The Weather Coming Off All Things. What a story. It's beautiful.

There surely is a weather coming off all things. Good lord, this language is perfect. It names something I've been unable to articulate in the past. What I've said is that everything, for me, depends on the feeling it gives me. I'm not a great thinker. My mind is extremely slow and dense, but I can sense energy. Every good decision I've made has been the result of scanning the energy. When I try to be rational, I tend to make mistakes, sometimes terrible mistakes. Oh my.

I notice the weather coming off the Capitol, the monuments, my beloved Potomac river, the horse statues of Washington DC, people at Whole Foods, etc. I carefully watch the weather coming off my clients and friends, I tune in to the weather coming off the Matchbox Bar. Is it any wonder I'm so fascinated with meteorology? Wow. This is how I understand the world. Now I have a way to explain it.

I'm crap at predicting earth's weather. As a shaman and a midwesterner I should be able to put my finger to the wind and predict the coming storms or calm sunny days. I always guess wrong, because the weather predicts me, not the other way around. It surely does. Now I have words with which to explain the way I move through the world. I'm kind of in awe.

Also grateful to the angels (including angels of random coincidence) who are responsible for putting me in touch with this brilliant idea. The weather coming off all things. Wow.

Let there be light. Shalom.