Sunday, April 22, 2018

sunday grace: swarm season

swarm season.  acrylic, ink, paper on wood.  april 2018.

there are specific times of the year when bees and birds and butterflies swarm, drawn together in a seemingly chaotic instinct to find their place.  i read an article that described swarms and on that day i felt all my worries, fears, regrets, and shame had similarly swarmed in my body, frantically congregating in crowded quarters beneath my rib cage.

this year i have experienced an unexplained and sudden onset of panic attacks, chronic high anxiety, and insomnia.  during the past month i have essentially been disabled by this, unable to work, drive, be alone, eat, or sleep.  my life was hijacked.  even though my panic mostly feels like an infestation of hungry invaders, i have reframed the urgent fluttering presence in my body as my swarm.

there is no apparent root cause (no situation or event) that we have landed on yet.  could be cumulative stress or secondary traumatic stress, could be hormones, could be sensitivity to the growing collective anxiety in our world, could be genetic, and on and on...

i want to write more on the ways i managed the worst of days when i was overcome with fear and energy, because i know it can be helpful for others to read (especially for those like me who are sensitive to medication and have a desire to go the most natural route possible).  i'm not in that space yet.  i'm still barely hanging on over here, trying to remain an objective observer to this madness and focus on the day when the swarm moves on.

with all dark days, there are moments of light.  even though it has been hard to see and acknowledge, some goodness has come from this.  this is the grace (and quite possibly the purpose) of swarm season:  attention, vulnerability, deciding to do things differently.  here are a few moments of swarm grace:

  • i cut out caffeine and it was relatively painless.  all the cortisol and adrenaline cursing through my veins cushioned the typical withdrawal symptoms.  after decades of two cups of strong coffee daily, i am now enjoying one cup of swiss water processed decaf every morning.
  • i asked for help.  and not just for help, i asked for exactly what i needed.  and you know what?  people responded in the most loving and supportive ways. 
  • i finally got it that i really do need other people.  
  • i cleaned up my nutrition. 
  • the breath is fucking magic.  magic.
  • i have an entirely new appreciation for the exquisite beauty of an ordinary day, a night of sleep, someone who holds your hand, people who know things, people who are able to hold space.
here's looking forward to the day the swarm has done its thing and lifts in gentle flight.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

sunday grace: solstice

december morning sun in the kitchen on gypsy hill

the winter solstice arrives this week on december 21st (for those of us in the northern hemisphere).  it is one of my favorite times of year, this point in time when we teeter on the edge of darkness and light.  from the latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), solstice is a moment to become still and reflect on the past, release that which no longer serves, and prepare for what is to come.  we see and hear the wisdom of nature:  darkness relieves us of our capacity for busyness, animals rest, snowfall brings its exquisite hush.

there are so many ways to recognize this tender transition.  here are a few of my favorites:

  • create a tiny solstice altar with candles (symbolizing light), photos of ancestors (symbolizing the past), and bits of spruce, pine, or juniper (evergreens symbolize life during winter).
  • reflect in your journal:  what were your accomplishments, lessons, and losses during the past year?  what are your best hopes for the year to come?
  • burn a solstice fire.  on a piece of paper, write down something you would like to let go.  put it in the fire and see it dissolve in spark and smoke.
  • join a community celebration.  we will be gathering with our local waldorf cooperative at a community potluck, solstice spiral, and bonfire where the children will be reading their poetry.
  • no matter the weather, place your bare feet on the ground outside at night.  simultaneously sense the solid support of the earth and vast unseen possibility of the dark sky.

happy solstice friends.  i wish you just enough darkness to see the stars and perfect light to illuminate your beautiful life.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

six senses saturday

welcome to christmas at gypsy hill

  • lady bird
  • a lifetime of christmases as i open each box of the vintage ornaments.
  • swooshing through piles of raked leaves.
  • the tiny bells on the handmade wreath when the front door opens.
  • thank you, turkey, for thanksgiving dinner, leftovers for days, and four quarts of medicinal bone broth.
  • i ate a mashed potato sandwich on friday (leftover potatoes on a squishy roll).  and it was amazing.
  • putting things away.
  • giving things away.
  • throwing things away.
  • december on my skin, as the boughs of pine and spruce and juniper are cut and tied together.
  • gratitude runs deeper than a list when you value the dark, the light, the mistakes, the triumphs, the loss, and the love.
  • translating the qualities of presence for an upcoming class i'm teaching, noticing the nuances of what it means to be attuned to now.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

six senses saturday

  • this amazing green velvet.  we recovered the mid-century dining room chairs.
  • i turned down a public event with ken this weekend, saying, "i'm kind of done with people."  he laughed and said that sounded like the antidote to "up with people".  since then we've been rewriting with "up with people" songs with a soft, cozy, quiet, introvert's perspective. 
  • i realize that i need to taste something new and amazing each week if i'm going to be keeping up with this series.  honestly, there is nothing more sad than a week with no memorable tastes.
  • burning leaves.
  • peeled grapefruit.
  • my old dog luca is stuck to me like glue lately.  he always wants to be touching me.  i don't want to think about what this means, but i'm happy to place my hand on his curly mess of dog body any old time.
  • this morning's new moon in scorpio has me all kinds of mystic.  i can't help but see synchronicity and connection in the tiniest of things.
  • i had an epic dream earlier this week that was poetic and scary and beautiful and wonky and telling.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

six senses saturday


  • a wee brown bat has roosted in the tiny space between the storm glass and the screen of our bedroom window.  
  • on my friday morning commute a giant amber moon set in the direction of my destination while a fluorescent pink sun rose over my home behind me.
  • autumn leaves.  evidence that this earth, this life, always offers exquisite respites from suffering.
  • having a cars moment, candy-o on repeat over here.
  • roasted brussels spouts
  • honeycrisp apples
  • whisky
  • backyard fire
  • smoke of just-extinguished candles
  • that heater-just-came-on-for-the-first-time smell
  • cushy new sweater
  • the prick of the needles during topiary shaping
  • the bat is a visitor (not sure who)
  • deep sense of settling down, time to rest, inward-bound

six senses saturday is a revival of five senses friday, a regular way to note how my senses were delighted and challenged during the week with the addition of intuition.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

sunday grace: a blessing for the feast of st. therese of lisieux

blessed be the wildflowers who stand magnificent but unnoticed in a world of glittered supermarket chrysanthemums.
blessed be the sensitive souls, the tender hearts, the triggered.
blessed be the empaths, the listeners, the reciters of plath and cobain.
blessed be the little girls who bring home strays and hide them away in the garage, sneaking them scraps of dinner and carefully making a nest of old beach towels on the concrete floor.
blessed be the boys of poetry and music and dance and kindness.  (good god, protect them in this place of narrowly and brutally defined "man".)
blessed be the ones who choose depth over breadth.
blessed be the loners, the hopeful, those who see beyond this moment, this day, this world.
blessed be the truth-tellers, the secret-keepers.
blessed be the those whose skin registers the subtle sea change of a room when sadness enters.
blessed be the misfits.
blessed be the solitary tidepool explorers, foreign film seers, 2 a.m. taco truck diners.
blessed be the forgivers.
blessed be those whose hearts break open at the suffering of others.
blessed be those whose second language is sky, or preschooler, or unspoken emotion.
blessed be the unloved, the forgotten.
blessed be the childless who mother and father beasts and ideas and gardens and communities instead.
blessed be the true.
blessed be the wildflowers.

· · · · ·

the feast of st. therese of lisieux (the little flower) is october 2.