Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When the glove fits ...

One of my animal guides whispered into my ear yesterday morning, Gather all your torches and make of them a cleansing bonfire.

All my torches? Well. That is interesting to think about.

The metaphor of torch is resonant. I've been thinking about torches I've carried for people or ideas. I've kept a lot of them burning way beyond a reasonable period of time. Then there are the torches that have been extinguished prematurely by me or someone else, or due to a change of environment in one way or another. I'm talking about disappointments, situations or relationships that ended badly, that sort of thing. I've held on to these burned out torches - don't ask me why. It's a form of internal hoarding.

One potent image that sprang to mind was the torch wielding mob scenes in monster movies. Below is a clip from a Frankenstein film. The action gets really good 1 minute into the video, with the dogs straining at their leads and barking furiously, the women cowering and weeping, the men tasting blood. Wow.

Of course I also thought about Triumph of the Will, particularly the scenes of the torch-carrying Nazis. There's something about the raging, passionate, monster chasing mob I understand (though it's frightening), but cold blooded, precise, organized torch wielding troops make for a very different image. To me it's much more frightening.

I think of Indiana Jones warding off snakes with his torch, also the Olympic torch of course. The statue of Liberty, one of my favorite images/symbols, lifts a torch high above her head.

Clearly further contemplation of my torch inventory is needed. I'll think about it for a couple of days prior to lighting the cleansing bonfire in my mind's eye. As a friend pointed out, that's kind of perfect since the feast of Lammas falls on August 2nd. Timely!

You can't plan for mildewed clothing, at least I can't imagine anyone who would (good lord), but just like the visit to the Holocaust Museum the day after I received my tattoo, this purge of my clothing is aligned exactly with the first festival of harvest. The thought came to me that my torches have gone moldy from disuse or from burning long past their expiration date, exactly like my ancient, ratty, stained, ill fitting clothes. They are, in many ways, one and the same.

I suppose I could get all worked up about having to toss my City Movie Center teeshirt, also my Kansas City: Paris of the Plains tee.

I could but I am not. Hasta la vista, baby. I will gather my torches and throw them on the ritual bonfire as I have gathered my moldy clothes and tossed them in the trash. So be it. Hell yeah.

Onwards and upwards. Shalom.

It's as if the cloud is trying to impersonate one of the chateau spires. Very cool.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What not to wear

A friend says it perfectly: mildew is a fatal condition for fabric. Oh yeah. I've reserved the zipcar for tomorrow when I will head out into god forsaken northern Virginia suburbia to begin the process of replacing my mildewed clothes. I think I'm going to REI first where I can get tank tops, teeshirts and pants that make sense for the way I live my life. Round one will be work clothes. Next I'll attempt buying a few nice pieces. The next level up after REI is probably Nordstrom or Macys. Those places give me the willies, but I can do this!

One thing that came to me while thinking about what is for me a monumental task - buying clothes - is that in the past I've taken along various friends who love to shop for clothes. My thinking was that somehow their affection for the process would rub off on me. Today I'm realizing the error in that logic. I need to go shopping with someone who shares my distaste for buying clothes, but wears nice clothes and looks good. Duh!

I wonder if I know anyone who looks good but hates clothes shopping. Hmmm.

As for the tattoo, I'm thinking about adding the marks that indicate vowels, a dot above the first and third letters, and a "T" under the first letter. It would be a slight alteration that might soften its appearance. Given my reaction to receiving this mark, I'm in no hurry to make the change. I'm just thinking about it.

Two more days to August. Ten days until Mercury goes direct. Bring it on.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Have I been abducted by the cloud people, replaced with a Reya clone?

I'm looking forward to August.

Huh? I never look forward to August, what am I saying? In August for the first time this calendar year, all the inner planets will appear to move sunwise in the sky. They will be direct for a blessed three months, allowing me (and maybe you, too) to integrate the changes, twists and turns that life has taken this year. It has been a toad strangler in terms of intensity and sudden changes of direction, not just for me, but for many who have faced every kind of challenge.

I'm going shopping for clothes during the coming week.

WHAT? I hate shopping for clothes. I am perpetually between sizes (no matter whether I'm at the heavy or light point of my weight spectrum) which means everything is a little too big or a little too small. Petites are too short but regulars (misses? I don't know the jargon) are way too long, hence shopping is a fresh hell for me. But the thing is, I have no clothes. The paltry few things I wear over and over again, as the result of my environmentally friendly approach to doing laundry - as well as my laziness about getting the wash from washer to dryer fast enough - has resulted in a plague of mildew in my clothes. All my clothes. Everything.


First I soaked the clothes in vinegar, as suggested on some site on the internet. That did not work. Next I washed everything twice with lots of bleach and scalding hot water, dried the hell out of everything too, but to no avail. Mildew is insidious. What I realized this morning is that I'm going to have to start fresh, throw out all my clothes and begin again. If I had nice clothes I'm sure I would be aghast, but my clothes are ancient, ill fitting and ugly. I don't have to buy lots of clothes, just enough to get me through August. Then I'll focus on winter clothing.

I know it is likely to be frustrating, but I'm determined to buy the larger size, then take everything to the tailor a half block away, let the professionals make the clothes fit.

It's so extreme, throwing EVERYTHING away. I'm kind of into it.

Yesterday I began to imagine adding to the tattoo, to make it more approachable.

I'm thinking of more tattoo rather than less to soften its impact. It's so stark. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

REALLY? Good lord, what next?

June and July have been tower card months, bringing down the old paradigms, in my life at least. But after the tower card comes the grace of the Star. C'mon August! C'mon.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is real?

I don't have a tv, hence I have not yet seen the opening ceremony for the Olympics. I suspect it will turn up on the internet at some point. Maybe the highlights are included in the Flipboard app - I haven't looked yet.

With no direct experience of the ceremony, I had to laugh this morning as I read my friends' comments on Facebook. Every comment revealed much about the commenter, not so much about the ceremony. The critical thinkers of course noticed what was missing, or how the show could have been improved. The snarky folks made fun of the entertainers, the concept or the queen. The sweethearts loved the queen leaping from a helicopter, the corgis, James Bond, David Bowie. The people involved in magic were fascinated by the cauldron.

This is the way we receive our news these days, through many filters. Were the opening ceremonies great or terrible or quirky or disappointing? It depends on who you ask, of course. In order to avoid confusion or bolster our personal sense of what is real (I guess) we gravitate towards points of view with which we already agree rather than trying to see things from a different angle. Who could take it all in? It's exhausting to try understanding extraordinarily different perspectives, at least it is for me.

In the wake of the massacre in Aurora, news channels that support gun control have called for serious conversations about it, while those who love their guns are saying this is not the time for a serious conversation. Which argument is valid? What is real? You tell me!

Though I haven't seen it, I have an opinion about the opening of the Olympics. I read a description of it in the Washington Post. How extraordinary - the medieval village moving through time to the industrial age. That is so cool.

I love Eng's land. It's such a small country, but when you're there, it feels huge. The idea of driving from London to Cornwall seems ridiculous - it's so far away! Yet to drive that distance in the U.S. is nothing. Britain feels monumental underfoot.

Likewise when I'm in England, I feel suddenly that I'm important. My guess is that this alchemy is not that unusual. The Brits I know have a sense about them of genuine superiority. It doesn't feel like arrogance to me at all, not that there aren't arrogant Brits. Of course there are. British humor embraces self deprecation - maybe that's how they balance the feeling of being the best of the best. Having sprung from Eng's land bestows them with something powerful and lofty that they temper with humor. I think that's why we Americans are so crazy for the English. We look up to them still.

Hilarious that I have opinions about the opening ceremonies, also that I have the nerve to go on about British character. My British friends would not approve of that. Equally ridiculous is any time I think I know enough about a big issue to take a stand. Like the blind men around the elephant, I'm just guessing!


Friday, July 27, 2012

The new order works for me

The Newseum.

I am a rule-bound person. I try not to be, but as a "J" in the Meyers-Briggs universe, I want to know how things are supposed to go down. I can break the rules if I like, of course. Some rules I try never to break, such as being prompt. I'm always on time, even for casual affairs like dinner at a friend's house. When others are not on time, I'm always surprised. Weird, hey?

Because I love rules, I create rules for myself all the time, unwittingly. I do something a couple of times or more, after which that thing becomes a habit. If I do it enough times, the habit becomes a rule. Over time what was once a random pattern becomes Divine Law, at least in my unconscious. And then I try my hardest to abide by the new law, even though it's just something I made up. Good lord.

For instance, I used to enjoy tilting against the heinous summer weather in DC. I would purposely go out at high noon, avoid shade and just keep walking or riding my bike till I was ready to collapse. I froze my bottles of water so I could pour icy water over my head, take sips while railing against Brother Sun. It was a ritual, me vs. the weather. Don't ask me why or how I got into it. Maybe I was trying, as I often do, to prove to myself that I'm stronger than I think I am. Or something. I don't remember. Whatever the original purpose, over time it became a habit, then a rule, then The Law of Summer in DC. 

Coming home after a punishing walk or ride was great. That first glass of cool water was the most refreshing, delicious thing you can imagine. The shower that followed the glass of cool water? Heaven on earth. Depending on the time of day, a seriously cold beer after the water, after the shower, completed the ceremony. It had to be in that order: cool water, then shower, then beer. It was the law!


I've grown out of my phase of summertime self punishment, thank God. Perhaps this is one of the blessings of early old age. Hence I snuck out for my walk early this morning, before the worst of the heat. There was a nice breeze, and too, I avoided the throngs of tourists who pour onto the mall around 10:00 a.m. I had to dodge the commute, in cars and on foot, but it was well worth it.

Interesting that I used the word "snuck." It felt like that, as if I were breaking the law. But there's no law against early morning walks. It is likewise perfectly legal to avoid the worst heat of the day. The shower following my walk was lovely, perhaps not quite as perfect as those I described above, but very very nice.

And now I'm going to continue reading the lengthy profile of Bruce Springstein in the New Yorker while basking in the slightly chilled air here in the chateau until clients arrive later today.

I like the new rule: walk early, avoid the heat. Yeah.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You can't grasp the river

One of my very smart friends has mentioned on occasion that those of us who cultivate rich inner lives may not focus so much on having lots of material stuff, but, we too can be hoarders. Internal hoarding - wow. It's interesting to think about.

A couple of days ago I went through my dresser drawers, tossed everything I haven't worn this summer, which was about half of what was in there. I washed everything else, (only 2 small loads - really I have no clothes!) neatly folded and put my meager "wardrobe" away. As usual after I get rid of stuff, I felt happy and serene.

After that righteous bout of cleaning, I noticed I had six portraits of Jake on display. Six. The chateau is a small, three-room apartment in which I have very limited wall space. I prefer to believe I choose carefully what I wish to look at. I asked myself, What am I doing? Why all the pics of Jake? He died more than three years ago. Hmmm.

I was hoarding grief for my old dog. It felt like loyalty and life-long adoration but I'm thinking now that the multiple images spoke more to a grasping, hoarding mentality than the devotion I imagined it represented. Once upon a time, it would have made sense, but now?

I've replaced the portraits, a good thing. I'm experiencing the same spacious feeling I get when I clean out my closets. That's significant. I always say it, but do I genuinely embody the phrase Onwards and Upwards? Outwardly, yes, but in my heart, not so much.

Interesting to think about. Shalom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Before and After

I ran into a neighbor yesterday, someone I haven't seen in awhile. She's what I think of as a post-modern Jew - devoted to her faith, yet as a mother of young children, trying to figure out how to celebrate the holidays without making her kids feel punished. To celebrate the Sabbath in a traditional way, for instance, would make her kids want to know why they aren't allowed to go to soccer practice, something they love. In her family they've adapted Shabbat to include soccer practice but they try to unplug a little bit not only from technology but from the frenzy of activity that is a part of life lived at this moment in history, in this place. They light the candles on Friday nights, do the prayers, enjoy their family time. It was interesting to hear about.

She, too, spent many years in San Francisco, hence her reaction to my tattoo wasn't the recoiling-in-horror type reaction that many Jews feel, viscerally, when they see a tattoo. She was curious, wanted to hear the story, which is how we got to talking about the Sabbath as an alteration of time. It was a fascinating conversation that would never have happened if I hadn't gotten the tattoo. Hmmm.

The moment one of my dear friends saw my tattoo (he is definitely anything but post-modern), he blurted out, "Now you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery!" It was such a sharp reaction, a reflex more than a thoughtful response. After the minor outburst, he acted cool, but oh my.

Like I care about that!

I've always referred to myself as a pre-Judaism Jew. I love the unknowable God that is pure potential, and I like the focus on living well now, not focusing so much on the next life or the afterlife. I love holidays that begin and end at sundown, with ceremony and feasting. It feels so right to me. But the recorded history of Judaism is something I don't get along with, and the Torah? Well - I already wrote about how poorly I connect with the Torah. Whoa.

Following the conversation with my neighbor yesterday, I wonder if I'm not also a post-modern Jew. Pre-Judaism/post-modern. I think I embrace some of each, especially with this tattoo, an ancient word in modern Hewbrew. Is it a paradox or an oxymoron, is it "right" or "wrong," that I embrace what came before the Word, but not so much the Word itself? Is a tattoo of the word Shalom, in modern Hebrew, placed where the people in the camps were tattooed, an abomination or holy - or neutral? You tell me.

The sidewalk conversation with my neighbor yesterday was far more intimate in nature than any we've had in the past. The scar on my arm opened a space between us where we could acknowledge that we are kin. How fascinating!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Calgon take me away

A hint, a whisper (barely audible) of fall.

A restorative day includes, for me, taking care of small tasks (so as to feel I was productive) in a very leisurely fashion while allowing plenty of time between tasks to walk around or lie on the sofa reading the New York Times on my ipad. Shopping for groceries is a very calming experience for me. I love buying food. Cooking is always a great idea. If I have food, I'm motivated to cook it. Once I switch on NPR and put on my apron, I'm already more happy than I was five minutes before. Cooking is meditative yet methodical. I love every part of housekeeping unless I feel I have to rush.

On days when my goal is to restore my inner stash of calm, I avoid interaction with other humans except the vendors at the farmers market or the cashiers at Whole Foods. I am an introvert with a capital i. 

Today is a perfect day of restorative yoga, Reya style.

All the astrologers I trust are promising that August will be far calmer than spring and summer has been. I hope they're right. In the meantime, I'm very grateful for peaceful days like today. May we dare to dwell in beauty, balance and delight. Hell yeah. Shalom.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Beholden

There's no such thing as a free ... anything, actually.

I'm thinking today about the rune Gebo. It's a crossroads, an agreement. Though often translated as "gift," what Gebo points to is the obligation incurred by receiving gifts. Though the ideal of a gift is something freely given without any expectation of return, what I've observed is that with all gifts, obligation is incurred. At the very least, there is an expectation of gratitude, but there is often an expectation, conscious or not, of return.

From the apple on the teacher's desk to birthday gifts to contributions to political campaigns, by receiving gifts, we - the beholden - are bound in some way to the giver.

I am not a great giver of gifts. For many years I wondered if I was cheap or selfish or unwilling to take the time to decide what the receiver wanted or needed. I hate shopping, unless it's grocery shopping, which makes it even harder to buy gifts. When I have to, I can cough up an appropriate gift but the truth is I never enjoy the process much. Even after the gift is wrapped and a nice card is attached, I continue to suffer over whether the gift is right or good enough or expensive enough or cool enough. Will the gift reveal to the receiver how inadequate I am in this business of gift exchange? Will they stop liking me?

Likewise I am not a great receiver of gifts. I feel burdened and indebted by gifts of every kind, even the little ones. Is it ok to put these things into a box in the closet or is that impolite? Must I keep these gifts forever? Is it ok to pass them to those who might appreciate them more? But if I do that, will the receiver then feel burdened as I do?

For heaven's sake.

Even winter solstice gifts, aka Christmas gifts, incur debt. These gifts, in my mind, are offerings to God. Here, I'm giving a boatload of Christmas gifts. In return, God, please bring back the longer days. Or - I'm giving a lovely birthday gift to someone I love. In return, please keep them healthy and happy for another year.

Offerings should, in a perfect world, be freely given. But they're bribes. Right? Or am I really barking up the wrong tree today? I might be!

Let me be clear: I am so grateful to be well loved and respected. It means the world to me. I don't think I've ever received a gift given with malice in the heart of the giver, nor are the kinds of gifts I receive intended as bribery. Good lord, no.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Summer of Weird

Can I name the elephant in the middle of the chateau living room? Can I call it like I see it? Name a spade a spade? Say what I mean and mean what I say? OK? Yes?

This is a really WEIRD summer.

It's never my best season, summer. Heat and humidity are awful for me physically, hence psychically and emotionally. I know, I know - I live in a swamp. What do I expect? This is how swamps behave in summer. It is exactly as it should be. With no disrespect for the climate, may I say: In summer, I struggle.

It's not a bad summer; I've had worse. The summer Jake died? Yikes. I could name a few others but there's no need. Though weird, this summer has called upon me to step up, evolve, stand tall but be flexible enough to bend with the weather both literal and metaphysical. I've been doing a lot of teaching which I love, and good work in the treatment room. When possible, I take my walks and I'm working harder than ever to walk my talk. It's hard - and weird - but I am making progress.

Every time I look at the scar (aka the mark previously known as a tattoo) I think about how scars, while not pretty, indicate that a wound has healed. Scar tissue is a sign of serious wounding. I'm unclear how long that wound has been active. Since I threw the Torah in the trash? Seems older than that to me as I gaze at it with curiosity at last, rather than expectations.

As a tattoo I expected it to be beautiful in some way. As a scar it makes more sense. And as scars go, it's not that bad. But the wound the scar formed around, as a pearl forms around irritants in an oyster, feels very old, maybe from another life, who knows? Walking through the main exhibit at the Holocaust Museum with Pandora and Laura was a fulcrum of some kind, a walk backwards and forwards in time that brought the scar into the visible range. Of course Fernando helped. That walk was the finishing touch in the healing. Now that there's a scar, I can begin to glean wisdom from what was once wounded. I was a wounded healer. Now I bear the scar from that wound. I wonder what that means.

I wonder if any of this makes sense? If it sounds weird to you, that's perfect, in alignment with this BIZARRE summer.

Last night in my dream I was hanging out with Mae West. Seriously? I never think about her but this morning I googled her. Damn she really delivered some of the most enduring lines ever. Wow.

And then there are the dreams of horses out in the carriage house behind the chateau. I'm certain I've never dreamed of horses before, not ever.

But all is well. Weird, yet well. Go figure. Shalom.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I spent the first five years of my life in Aurora, Colorado. It wasn't a suburb then. It was mostly undeveloped, a little town close to Denver. I'm certain I wouldn't recognize any of it now. But of course I'm thinking about it, about the film and the guy who, because of the lack of gun control laws, was able to bring automatic weapons into the theater and kill all those people.

Every time something like this happens, it is described as shocking. Is it shocking? It's horrifying and sad, but shocking? Really? Here in America, we love our guns. We're not nearly so in love with the idea of mental health care. Easy access to guns + no regard for taking care of ourselves = shocking? When I do the math, shock is the last thing I feel. It is predictable, yes?

My niece recently decided to go to a gun range and try shooting. In my family guns were absolutely taboo. My mother didn't even like squirt guns. So my niece decided to bust through the taboo, try it out. As she described it, shooting was a thrill. Not fun, she said, but definitely a high, a rush. At the shooting range, they had her aiming not at a target but at a paper figure of a human being. That is so very sick.

She did pretty well for someone who had never handled a gun before, hitting the figure close to the heart with several shots, between the eyes with one shot. She said she doesn't think she'll ever do it again. I can see how, for someone who does not have a balanced ego, that kind of thrill would be kind of irresistible. I can see how the outline of a human on a big piece of paper might not be as much of a rush to shoot as actual humans, I mean for those who are disconnected from a sense of self worth and power.

I've been directing a steady stream of Reiki towards Aurora, thinking of the people who were killed, their families, all the wounded. I hope this will stir some interest in gun control, but I'm not confident that much will come of it. Colorado is the wild west, after all. I also hope that everyone whose life was touched by this unspeakable tragedy will seek counseling. But that, too, is probably not going to happen.

Not shocking to me, but awful, horrifying and sad that this has happened again.

May all who were affected by this tragedy find healing in spite of our skewed American values. May it be so. Shalom.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Am I supposed to comprehend? Because, I don't.

From the space just after sleeping, but before becoming fully awake this this morning, the thought came to me that this mark on my arm is not really a tattoo. I mean, yes, it is - I went to British Ink and Fernando did his artistry - but it's not ornamental, it's not beautiful, I do not find pleasure in looking at it and it's not something I wish the world to see.

I could hear the people who work in the dentist's office upstairs getting ready for their day of work, but somehow I was unable to throw back the covers and rise as I usually do. Not unlike a bird I watched last night outside my window, stunned and muddy after a particularly dramatic thunderstorm, I lay absolutely still, half awake, half asleep, thinking about this mark, this word, shalom, on my arm.

I remembered how, following my first initiation into witchcraft in 1991, I became intrigued with the idea of studying Torah. I bought a very literal translation (whatever that means - it has been translated so many times I doubt seriously any living person actually knows what mysteries lie below the web of bizarre stories that have come down to us). I sat down then and read the whole Torah, cover to cover, in less than a week.

As I read the five books, I became more and more enraged. I mean really, the stories in English are truly creepy. The God I worship is not a murderous, egomaniacal psychopath who chooses a specific tribe to inherit the earth. 

The day I finished reading, I carried the book with me to my job at the bottom of Telegraph Hill where I worked at an architectural firm. I tossed my tribe's holy book of mysteries into a convenient trash can and kept walking without a second look back. Oh man that book made me so angry.

I remember telling my therapist what I had done. Her professionally neutral face turned pale. Apparently there is a protocol for the disposal of well used versions of the Torah that involves praying and burying the stories with love and respect. What I had done was profoundly disrespectful. It was hateful. I have no excuse for how I behaved, except to say I was just plain nuts after the initiation. It's a pathetic justification.

After that I came down with a series of God's-punishment style ailments, such as strange gastrointestinal episodes during which I was in so much pain I nearly went to the ER on several occasions. But then suddenly, within a space of a few minutes, the pain would evaporate. I even developed boils. It was really bad. One day, late for work due to whatever biblical illness I was suffering from, close to where I had tossed the Torah, I stole some guy's parking spot. He came flying out of his car, began hurling all kinds of biblical sounding curses at me, seemingly from out of the nowhere. (True, I stole his parking spot, but the usual response to that is something along the lines of fuck you.)

I don't remember exactly what he said, but he looked as surprised as I did as he issued curse after curse. May your grandchildren be cursed, may your family be cursed, may you writhe in unending pain. Etc. I imagine he went home that night and told his wife that some bitch stole his parking spot, after which he let loose with the ten plagues. It must have been pretty weird for him, too.

It was clear I had to do something, hence I observed Shabbat for a year after that, lighting the candles at sunset every Friday, saying the prayers and spending the holy 24 hours living shalom, the deep peace of a perfect world. I was very formal about it and even did the Havdallah ceremony at the end of the 24 hours.

After a year, I stopped observing the holiday. Don't ask me why. It was really nice, actually.

The memories of that time were clear as a bell in my head as I lay there - stunned - this morning. Only when the thought came to me that this mark is a scar from a wound I sustained in my ongoing battle with my Judaism was I at last able to move, to get up, make coffee and sit down to meditate as I do every morning. The bird I outside my window last night didn't move a muscle for about 20 minutes, then suddenly flew away. I felt like that, rising at last and all at once.

My meditation was unbelievably peaceful this morning. Crazy, that. I would have guessed it would be just the opposite.

After a session with a student this morning, rather than processing the stunned bird, stunned Reya sequence, I decided to opt for stupid entertainment via Netflix on the ipad. I tuned in to a random episode of Criminal Intent that featured a psychopath who tortured and murdered his victims in the same manner as the Nazi doctors who tortured the character's grandfather and father in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.

You can't make this stuff up.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The calm after the storm

The mood passed as I knew it would, even in the midst of it. This morning, I'm laughing at my passionate, intense and vociferous nature, as I almost always do. I didn't take it out on anyone, so that's a good thing. Also I let the mood move through me rather than trying to stuff it so as to be "nice" or because I think I need to "stay positive." I have no idea what that means. Do you?

Also I'm appreciating the pristine sparkle here in the chateau. The aftermath of a cleaning frenzy is a state of dust-free grace. What is not to love about that? No harm done. Onwards and upwards.

Summer, too, will pass. The air will cool, the rains will come (I hope), the leaves will turn and the land will become quiet.

I know I'm supposed to live in the moment, but during summer it's extremely difficult to Be Here Now. I am not a summer person. That is all.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Berserker Reya

Feeling moody today? I certainly am. It's hot, Mercury is retrograde, and the dark moon, along with several other key planets, is creating a cardinal grand cross in the sky. Good lord. I suspect also that an aspect of this mood has to do with the ongoing wrestling match I'm engaged in with the idea of shalom, the perfect peace, the word engraved on my arm forever and ever, till death do us part. Integrating this mark on my arm is much more of a challenge than I could ever have imagined.

It has healed physically. The color is brighter, which is nice - woad blue, as a friend describes it. Woad blue shalom. Hmm. Is that an oxymoron or what?

I am lucky not to have any clients scheduled, hence I've been able to grump and whinge to the mirror, the four walls of the chateau, and to the cloud people and the birds outside my windows. Birds are almost always tremendously moody, at least they seem so to me. When I bitch at them, they cock their tiny heads and, I believe, flash me a knowing smile. Little dinosaurs! I am one with the moody birds today.

Nothing addresses a bad mood as perfectly as a cleaning frenzy, especially when it's 100 F. outside. My kitchen and bathroom are spotless, the floors have been vacuumed and mopped to within an inch of their lives. The last load of laundry will go into the dryer forthwith, after which I'll switch on the dishwasher.

Cleaning the way I do is definitely a coping mechanism - but it works for me, and after I'm finished, the chateau sparkles. There's no harm in that, is there?

This evening I'll get out of the chateau to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of my nearest and dearests. I'm very much looking forward to it in spite of the heat, the grand cross, and my hellacious mood.

It's just one day in my long life, just one single day. This, too, shall pass, and when it does, I'll laugh at myself. I always do.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Somewhere under the rainbow

The pics don't show how much green and purple there was. They're pretty pictures anyway, though.

What is not to love about a rainbow, I ask you? There was a beautiful bow here in DC yesterday evening. Gorgeous, gorgeous and more gorgeous!

As a shaman I study rainbows, such as they can be studied since they're so fleeting. Each rainbow is distinct, different from every other. Last night's bow, at its brightest, had lots of purple and green. The bands of those colors were wider and more intense than the other colors. To me that means the bow was a message of divine love (purple = divine, green = love).

Sometimes the bows are more about red and orange. When that happens, my interpretation centers around the idea of an infusion of life force. Bows with lots of blue are gifts of wonder from Father Sky. 

All rainbows are the result of the sun shining through falling rain, hence every one of them is an alchemy of light. One of my spirit guides refers to them as a gift of the collision of sunlight and water drops. The light is "shattered" into its component parts. It's a cool way to think about them. I enjoy interpreting them whether or not my thoughts are accurate. It's harmless, yes? Yet interesting.

As I stood out there on East Capitol Street, smiling, snapping pics, but also looking intently, in the same way I would gaze at a great painting, a few neighbors rushed by under their umbrellas, oblivious to what was going on up there.

I come across as the weirdo in these kinds of situations, smiling and getting rained on, gazing at the sky. But I think I'm the lucky one, stopping to notice. Yes? I say yes.

Happy Sunday, y'all. Shalom.

Rain falling while the sun shines. Very cool.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hospice for Relationships

I wrote today on the chateau seven blog about hospice and compassionate end of life care. I was thinking about how, in my society, we're beginning to let go of the sense that everyone MUST be kept alive as long as possible. With the new perspective that values quality over length of life, we're designing beautiful, peaceful, humane ways with which to say goodbye to our beloveds, such as palliative care and hospice, and grief counseling.

Why isn't there a way to let go of relationships that is similarly compassionate, beautiful and peaceful? I don't know about you, but every break-up I've ever been through was full of acrimony and bitterness, anger and bad behavior, before, during and even afterwards. When a relationship is over, there's a sense that it should never have taken place, that the whole thing was rotten from beginning to end. The newly single often wonder why they couldn't see it was going nowhere, they sink into guilt, remorse or blaming. Just because we all must die, should we never have lived? Well?

Therapists can help couples stay together, sometimes, but once it's clear there's no fixing whatever went wrong, that's about all the help people get. Individuals can continue working through the shock and grief of breakups on their own, but couples don't ordinarily continue in counseling. Do they?

Why aren't there people whose job it is to gently encourage us to let go of relationships that have passed their expiration date? It's interesting to think about.

Divorce is almost always considered a failure. Even well meaning friends will continue to stoke up the bad feelings after a breakup. They say things like You're better off without him! What a jerk! He had issues - it's good that you're out of that rotten relationship ... etc. I know I've said those things. In my mind I was being supportive. But was I? You tell me.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, Oh it was such a beautiful coupling. How sad that it's now finished, but nothing lasts forever.

Have you?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

When Good Dreams Go Bad*

For someone as creative as I can be, the repetitious nature of my dreams is puzzling and sometimes annoying. There are themes played out in my dreams year after year. Can it be true that my mind is unable to work through whatever these dreams symbolize, hence they are replayed again and again? Is my unconscious truly that stuck on these issues?

One dream theme revolves around looking for my car that I've parked in a multi level car park. I search and search, walking through every level of these grimy, fluorescent lighted, ugly, stinky, creepy places. What a waste of dreamtime, hey?

I used to have this dream so often that one of my great teachers made up a song/chant to describe my endless quest to find my car. It was sweet of her, don't you think? I became lucid in some of the dreams, thinking to myself, "Well, this is my dream. I can just make my car appear." I would try, but although I could manifest cars of the same color, I could never manifest my actual car which was, at the time, a white 1989 Honda Accord. Or I would be almost lucid, thinking, "This is just like those dreams in which I search for my car."

I tried "real" life techniques to vanquish the dream. One time a friend of mine parked my car in a vast shopping center parking lot while I was in one of the stores so I couldn't see where she parked it. She came into the store and handed me the keys. I walked out to the lot, found my car within two minutes! I walked right to it. In "real" life my intuition was spot on. I was exhilarated - I thought for sure I had fixed it. But no - I kept having the dream.

A few years ago I dreamed I was sitting on a hill with my sister Hannah who was bemoaning the fact that she had lost her car. I was saying, "Yeah. It happens to me all the time," when a man walked up and told both of us where to find our cars, pointing in the direction of a small parking lot at the bottom of the hill. I did indeed spot my car there. I turned to the man and asked his name. He said, "Oh. You're not supposed to notice." That's when I realized he was an angel there to help me out of my predicament.


I kept having the dream!

Last night I dreamed of searching for a car I had rented in order to drive around Paris with my sister. It was an old junker, but still I knew I would be financially responsible if it could not be found.

I could get all worked up about it, except I also had a terrifying dream of a derecho storm approaching. The anonymous dream people and I were up high in an office building. Usually the anonymous dream people are nonchalant no matter what's happening, but in the dream even they were frightened. I woke up from the dream, a sure sign that it was a true nightmare. It took awhile for me to realize I was safe in my bed here at the chateau.

One benefit of the harrowing nightmare is that it reduced the temptation to rail against the lost car dream.

Sigh. I guess there is nothing new under the sun, or at least between my ears when I dream. The same themes play themselves out over and over again, kind of like a Broadway show that goes on for years. My dream life is like Cats, or the Fantasticks. Actually it's more like Les Miserables. Good lord.

It's good to be awake now. It surely is! Shalom.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I am one with the weather.

Was it too hot? Was I cranky? Did I hate my tattoo? Was I terribly upset about the ex friend?

All those concerns have evaporated. OK, well, not quite, but I'm getting there, helped along by big puffy clouds, soft air that isn't too hot, and sunshine that sparkles rather than bullies.

The weather predicts me. It rained, temperatures dropped to something more seasonal (upper 80s). I was out yesterday morning, will get out again today after work. I am breathing, my jaw has relaxed, I'm not frowning every time I look at my tattoo. Ahhh.

Thank God for a shift in the pattern. Whew!


Monday, July 9, 2012

The passionate nature of weather and me

During the worst of Saturday's heinous heat, I was working with my rain stick, trying to get the rain to fall on DC. I hate drought. When there isn't enough rain, I feel like I'm shriveling just like the green world. This is true in spite of the fact that I am always well hydrated and well showered. It is perhaps a shamanic overidentification with the land. Who knows?

Extreme weather seems unfair, cruel, brutal even, but the weather, though it may seem unfair to me, is what it is. The weather is the emotional body/soul of planet earth (at least in my cosmology) so it must, by its very nature, run too hot sometimes, too cold, too dry, too wet. Weather and emotion are passionate. Indeed.

This morning I'm thinking that on a microcosmic scale, my moods are similarly unsettling any time I'm moving through a period of emotional extremes.

My mother considered me "too emotional." I took that in, hence I used to try to stuff what I was feeling, or block it, or re-direct my moods to something more "positive" - whatever that is - never with great results. But I've learned over time that no matter what I'm feeling, it won't last forever. If I just breathe and wait - and try not to take it out on others - it will eventually pass. And, too, as a result of my years of therapy, I've come to think of the expression of emotion as authentic. Is there such a thing as being too authentic? You tell me.

I'm thinking about it this morning because as a result of deciding to invest in my tattoo, the excoriating regret about that decision has begun to wane. What a relief! As if in shamanic alignment with my lighter mood, the extreme heat in DC has at last subsided. We had a couple of brief but heavy downpours overnight, showers are predicted for the rest of today. Temperatures will remain below 90 F. for the next few days. Whew! What a relief! I'll head out in a little while for a walk before seeing clients this afternoon. I will take pictures of the green world, covered as it is with drops from last night's rain, I will photograph reflections in puddles. All is as it should be! Hurray.

Life is good and I am grateful, particularly now that the storms of heat and regret have passed. Onwards and upwards. Shalom!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Steady as she goes

I continue to think about the idea of investment, of directing thought and energy into relationships, but also about how the act of investment in various ideas and values colors everything I do. When I invest in the people, ideas and values that matter, my life is enriched. When I invest in the people who could give a rat's ass about our relationship, when I invest in ideas and values that mean little to me, I am impoverished. It's interesting to think about.

One thing that came to me yesterday as I sat around inside virtually all day long (code red air, temps around 105 F. - it was a toxic stew outside) was that instead of detesting my new tattoo, it would behoove me to invest some time/energy into accepting and perhaps eventually even appreciating what will now be a part of my body/mind for the rest of my life. The ex friend who now avoids me like the plague echoes the part of me who would cross the street to get away from my own tattoo. It came to me that this kind of disinvestment in the tattoo will not benefit me in any way. I can at least be civil, hey?

I'm starting simple: what do I like about the tattoo? Well, I like the word Shalom. I surely do. I like the way it looks in modern Hebrew; it's kind of Star Trekish, like a sigil.

The way it healed makes it look like a very old tattoo. I've decided I like that. I've decided I prefer it slightly fuzzy and mottled, that if it were crisp and bright and brand new looking, I wouldn't like it as much. It's an old idea expressed in modern Hebrew. It's new and old which means to me it travels across time. I like that. Hence I cancelled my second appointment with Fernando. When he responded to my text, I could tell he was laughing, something he does a lot. He encouraged me to let him "hit it up" at some point, but I'm not clear I'll ever do so. I like it that it's kind of homely.

What else do I like about it?

The mark on my arm will forever remind me of walking through the main exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. It will forever remind me (as if I needed to be reminded) of my deep love and personal investment in my relationship with the great teacher who invited me to journey with her through the collection. That moment when we stood for a few seconds in the cattle car, tightly holding hands, will come back to me every time I notice the tattoo. That's powerful and good. Yes, I'm Jewish and yes my parents taught us about the Holocaust from the time we were small children, but above and beyond that I have a very intimate relationship with that terrible firestorm, also to my ancestors who were killed in the volkswagons before the shtetl was bulldozed. The Holocaust feels personal to me in a way that it doesn't to my siblings, for instance. I don't know why, but it's true.

Though to be perfectly honest I am not yet invested in my tattoo, I've made a start, thank goodness. I think it's going to be more like putting $20 in a savings account every week than buying a lottery ticket and suddenly winning millions (which I believe is what I unconsciously hoped for). Investment in my tattoo will require discipline, attention, compassion and patience. Little by little, as my ex housemate Manuel would say.

OK. That's ok. The mark is here, it's queer (as in odd), and it's time to go beyond getting used to it. I must learn to love the tattoo. I'm in the process of becoming invested in it now which is so much better than where I was last week, hating it, covering it with concealer, feeling embarrassed.

May my heart and mind open to the dramatic gesture I underwent of my own free will after much careful thought. May it be so! May my investment in this mark overcome the discomforts of regret. May it be so.

And as long as I'm praying here, may the rains come to Washington DC, may the heat subside at least for awhile. May it be so!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bookkeeping 101

I've written a number of times about how this moment in history feels like the 60s. The particulars are different, but that sense that anything could happen is identical, or nearly so. The Arab spring? Who could ever have imagined? John Roberts upheld the healthcare reform law? Who saw THAT coming? They found the Hicks-Boson, or something that acts just like it. Well, wow! The god particle, for which physicists have been searching since 1964, has likely been discovered. Its appearance is perfectly timed.

It's a societal reinvention that is also resonating through the personal lives of many, myself included. One way the transformation is manifesting in my life is that certain half-hearted, half-assed relationships have evaporated, while those that are hearty and healthy have become stronger, more durable. It's so interesting!

To be honest, I've been very sad to see a few people I considered good friends suddenly drop off the radar screen. One person I adored literally crosses the street to avoid being civil to me. It's so extreme, he must think I am truly despicable. He has not bothered to explain why, showing exactly how little our friendship meant to him. OK. I'm sure you can imagine how vociferously my spirit guides have encouraged me to let go - or be dragged down under the weight of wondering why, why WHY? If he doesn't want to try to work it out, it's rather pointless for me to invest energy into understanding, yes? My spirit guides say yes.

On the other hand, the people with whom the connection is whole-hearted have moved in a little closer - or in some cases, a lot closer - crossing the street to say hello (metaphorically and literally), inviting me for dinner, arranging to get together when they're in town or whatever. I have experienced some profoundly intimate conversations with these people of late. It's very beautiful.

A dear, long time friend recently purchased a house in the mountains. She told me she and her husband will fix up the house for the "imaginary renters" (they will rent the house during ski season). She said that to spiff up the house for themselves would be spending, while making sure it's lovely for the renters is an investment. Good point!

She's got me thinking about that word - investment - in terms of my relationships. It's not an investment to devote time or energy towards half-hearted, half-assed relationships. That's an example of careless expenditure. It's like blowing a whole paycheck sitting in front of a slot machine (something I saw happen to acquaintances more than once at Lake Tahoe).

For those who are genuinely and fully interested in whatever sort of relationship we share, time and energy is a great investment that will yield excellent results now and over time.

All of the above is so rational I can hardly believe I'm able to think in those terms. Maybe becoming slightly more rational is yet another aspect of the current transformation and initiation I'm experiencing. I would never have thought I needed to juice up that side of myself, not that I'm particularly rational, mind you, but I never thought it was important. I'm getting now that it is.

May I dare to dwell in beauty, balance and delight, which includes a good dose of the rational. May I stop wasting my time worrying about meaningless or unhealthy relationships in order to be more present for the relationships that matter. May it be so! Shalom.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cabin Fever

I'm bouncing off the walls here in the chateau: boing boing boing.

It's too hot to be out for very long. I tried to go for a walk yesterday morning, but it wasn't fun. It wasn't quite 100 F. when I went out, so not the hottest part of the day, but still it was like walking through hot jello. I tried to enjoy it; finally I just gave up.

Today? 101 F. Same tomorrow. Saturday? 105 F. The weather people are promising a shift in the weather on Sunday, but no rain.

Whinge whinge whinge. Boing boing boing.

Oy vey oy vey oy vey.

I am not a summer person. Shalom.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mistakes were made

Just the other day I was boasting about how easy it was, having the word shalom engraved on my arm.

Oops. Spoke too soon.

Where do I start?

The healing process went smoothly except the ointment I used to protect my arm in the first days afterwards pulled large swaths of the ink out of my skin. I thought that was normal - what did I know? Once the tattoo was revealed from under the skin that peeled off, I was aghast to see how horrible it looks. It is mottled, blotchy and uneven, except for a tiny part of one of the letters. The white ink is gone completely, the black ink fuzzed and bled out into my skin and the cheerful blue turned dark and menacing during the healing process. My arm did not want the engraving. As it turns out, neither did I.

This total disaster of a tattoo is not like a bad haircut that will grow out. This is now part of me whether I like it or not. I assure you, I do not like it.

My situation, unfortunately, is not unusual. Most tattoo artists, including Fernando, will do touch ups free of charge for tattoos that heal inconsistently. I've already spoken with him, arranged a time to go see him again. He cheerfully informed me that it's going to hurt this time as my skin will be tender.


Even if it looked perfect, I would be struggling with this grand gesture that seemed so right but turned out to be so wrong. The truth is, I'm really NOT one of them - the tattoo people I mean. No wonder I got into that strange man's car.

A trip to the Origins counter at Macy's helped. The saleswoman knew exactly what sort of concealer I was looking for. She said she helps the tattoo remorseful all the time. I am not alone! The concealer doesn't completely hide the ink, but it makes it look faded, less visible. I'm grateful for that.

The luminous Mrs. Lipp suggested that perhaps engraving the word shalom on my arm might require a greater level of integration than if I had chosen, say, a butterfly or Hello Kitty. I get her point. It's a big concept to take on. But I would never have chosen something decorative.

My hope is that once Fernando repairs the damage it will look a little better than it does now. He told me he's going to give me a different kind of ointment that should work better than what he suggested for round one.

I would have it removed, but the process is expensive and extremely painful, hence the second appointment with Fernando and the large tube of concealer.

I was so sure it was the right thing to do. I thought about it for a very long time. The timing of receiving it, followed by the Holocaust Museum the very next day, made me confident I was doing the right thing.

I wonder what other decisions I've made/will make that are dead off? It's rather scary to contemplate. Good lord.

Happy fourth to my fellow citizens of the U.S. Happy Wednesday to all. Shalom.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bloody Hell

My mother generally took the high road in all things including parenting. At least she did as often as possible. She was so careful not to yell at us that I think the onus of punishment fell squarely on the shoulders of my father. He had no qualms about yelling, insulting and humiliating us. Maybe he used up all the available wrathful energy, who knows?

Because she was careful, I can remember distinctly the few times she did yell at me. There was that time when I sat in front of the patio door, absent mindedly poking holes in the screen with a pencil. I must have been very bored. I enjoyed it. It was soothing, kind of like popping bubble wrap bubbles, you know? I was jerked out of my meditational revery when my mother snapped, "Oh great. Now the really BIG bugs can get in!" I was so startled by her sarcastic outburst I stopped immediately. Remembering that incident makes me laugh.

Another time she yelled at me was in the midst of a terribly hot Kansas City summer before our house was air conditioned. We had a big box shaped fan into which we poured ice and water. The air that blew through the ice was slightly cool. I'm sure you can imagine the familial warfare over whose turn it was to sit in front of it. When my mother was pregnant with my brother Josh, she actually asserted her rights more often than at other times. She hardly ever put herself first. It was a good thing, I think.

Anyway, The Incident I'm remembering was during a super hot summer, on a weekend so we were all at home, packed like sardines into our 1,100 s.f. house - both parents and four kids, jammed into that tiny space. (And I wonder why life was so tense? Good lord.)

I was complaining, loudly. I was whining. I was whinging and apparently I went on and on about how hot it was. Finally my mother, the absolute paragon of emotional control, yelled, "THANK YOU BECKY! If not for YOU, how would we KNOW??" It was very uncharacteristic of her. The shock shut me up immediately.

She was hot, too, apparently. Anyway I'm thinking about her because it's too damn hot in DC. The weather people tell us we're in for at least a couple of weeks of non-stop miserable heat. No rain in the forecast.

Remembering that day, I think I'll keep my opinions about the heat to myself. A good idea, yes? I say yes.