The equinoxes are beautiful markers of growth, death, and rebirth, both in our inner and outer landscapes.  It is also a day that is equally balanced in its light and dark aspects.  I wrote this poem with both tears and stars in my eyes; it is a reflection upon my inner landscape, and my ability and courage to share and mirror it; a quick burst of poetry fueled by the heart and translated by the mind.  It is something I would usually keep tucked away in an old, beat-up notebook, but I decided, what the heck, it’s a holiday.  It is my sincere wish that the coming change of seasons brings to all of you the same inner alchemy of change; harvest, cocooning, seeding, sprouting.  Happy autumnal equinox! 

Flowered crown, orange-blue bright strands
Ash and blossom in my hands
Backwards walking, through time’s sands
Home to reap the fertile lands

Growth and beauty fill my basket
Taste the fruits of season’s magic
Juice of life, so lovely, tragic
Blessings grace the crib and casket

Now sow my blossom in earth’s womb
Fed by ash of inner tomb
Caressed with sunlight, watch me swoon
Hear me sing, and feel me bloom

My roots dig deep in dark domain
Feel the swell in moonlight’s reign
Burn the mask to feed the flame
Stomp the feet to shed the tame

Bare soles, bared souls upon the pyre
Lift me up and I’m on fire
In your arms I’m rising higher
Spirals spin me tighter, wider

Wolves are howling, starlights swoops
White bunnies leap loopdy-loops
Chanting, sweating, I’m the Dancer
Stag rubs velvet from his antlers

So feed me sweet saps of your story
I am listening, you are for me
Soft and green or brown and thorny
Hand in hand, we are the Journey.

Front Step Fellowship

I’ve recently returned from a workshop entitled Knowing the Mystery, hosted in a lushly forested retreat space in Rhinebeck, New York; complete with vibrant vegetable gardens, hiking trails, beachside hammocks, and roaming woodchucks. This class marks my third year of attendance.  The workshop and its teacher, Neil Kramer, were, as always, nourishing, enlivening, inspiring, and provocative.

But this year was different, because my focus shifted a bit. This year, I really tried to make friends. You know, in the flesh; face to face, geometry to geometry. Other earthly wanderers similar to me, brought together by an attraction to this teacher’s interpretation of the Grand Mystery of life. We are, as the saying goes, few and far between, and I noticed, just before leaving my home for this workshop, how heavily I relied upon the stale platform of Facebook or meandering website links to ultra-fluffy but meatless new age advice columns, searching in vain for fellowship.  You know, the powerful quote of  the day, or the rebellious blogger refuting the mainstream with dreamy imagery, or the lists of the ten things spiritual people do, or the five things strong women do, or step-by-step guides of how to reignite your inner goddess. Now, it wasn’t all bad, but it certainly wasn’t alive. These articles were epitaphs of concepts buried deep in the earth of my being, and I wasn’t going to reach them through a keyboard and screen. If I wanted these things; strength and inner growth and a more substantial resurrection of that beautiful goddess within, I was going to have to get my hands dirty and dig for them. Those stone epitaphs, perhaps I can concede they were markers for my interests, but they were heavy and stone and in my way. No, one cannot grow by memorizing an epitaph, no matter how lovely the prose or holy the author; one must dig, dig dig, to resurrect what is deep and hidden and fertile and alive for herself.

So, I budgeted and planned, even conspired and coereced a bit here and there, and landed myself in Rhinebeck, among other great humans, and pushed my comfort zones; opened up, reached out, tripped a few times, and kept on going.

There was an exquisitely beautiful woman, very careful with her words, a powerhouse of rhythmic energy, soft and thoughtful. I have seen her before, and have always been intrigued by her gentle yet profound presence. During one of our class breaks, I noticed her stretching outside. Basic stretches, not fancy inverted yoga postures or anything. I could tell, through observing her, that she was deeply tuned into her body, that she was doing what it needed, and that she was rather unfocused on all the people bustling and chatting around her.  She was very…individual in that moment. Very strong. Honoring herself and what she needed. I felt the shyness rise up within me, but I approached and asked, simply, if I could copy her. Of course I could. She continued. I began. It felt really, really good. Later on I got the opportunity to speak with her more, and felt, by her presence and words, a little piece of myself wake up. Yawn and stretch and smile in my heart. She woke something up in me, a strong, quiet, intuitive, playful, powerful part of me.

Another woman, my roommate for the weekend, and with whom I already enjoyed a deep friendship, held me with her strength, kindness, patience, and humor.  We talked a lot, about many things, emotional things. We exchanged crystals, gifts with which we had both planned to surprise the other. We laughed, and laughed, and laughed. She taught me about Milkweed and butterflies, kept me from getting lost on the wandering trails, and was an ace at spotting woodchucks. I can think of few things better than the richness of our growing friendship.

I was introduced to a woman whom I immediately wanted to bear hug. She was just that ….yes. Just that. Wisdom flowed from her like a clean mountain stream, refreshing and rejuvenating. After speaking with her under the showers of that wisdom, I think I could have climbed the highest peaks.  No terrain was too tough for her sharp navigation, not even Table Mountain.

And finally, there was a man, the type of person with whom one can always exhale, relax. He had a funny accent with the most cheerful and light intonations, that I adored. He told me it was a working class accent, and then I loved it even more. I think I could have shadowed him the entire weekend, just to hear him talk and make jokes. He has a nice life. Doesn’t work too hard, doesn’t need too much. He likes to sit on his front steps with his dog, and smoke a bit, and visit with neighbors a bit, and contemplate a bit, and watch a bit. Sometimes he sits for hours. How brilliant.

I want to do that.

I want to sit for hours. I want to stretch. I want flowers and butterflies. I want wisdom and deep inner confidence and I even want cultivated, playful, harmless, mischief. I want to relax. Somehow, these things have stengthened within me, fortified by being in the presence of people who embody them. I am not happy with reading the epitaphs, though my inner taskmaster might have it be so (she’s a real piece of work, my taskmaster, skilled in the arts of guilt, shame and work ethic).  As my beautiful Table Mountain friend would say, I fully reject you taskmaster. I am going to do what I love, and my life will be just fine, and everything that needs to get done will get done, because I am a strong person. Thank you for your service, but you are released now. (I then hand Ms. Taskmaster a pile of discarded epitaphs, just for good measure, and suggest she put them in alphabetical order. That should keep her busy for a while…)

Since my return home, I have decorated my front step with several tough little flowering plants; Penta, Lantana and of course, Milkweed. Every morning, before I leave my bedroom, I stretch on the floor. It feels very very amazing. I then sit on my front step with my coffee, another new ritual, and watch the sun brighten, the birds awaken, and eventually the children gathering at the bus stop across the street from my house.

The first to arrive this morning is a thin little girl with shiny brown hair, thick glasses and a massive bulging backpack drooping almost to the back of her legs.  She keeps her head buried in her mobile device, earbuds strung into her ears. She never looks up, but simply plops down on the sidewalk. Still, there is something about her that delights me…something is in there, I can sense it, from behind my brigade of butterfly plants. I can sense it. Next to arrive is a boy, about the same age as the girl, maybe 12, and he seems to care for her. He sits next to her, cross-legged, and closes his eyes. His hands reach in front of him, and he massages a few blades of grass between his fingers, without plucking them. He seems to be holding space for her. She is still engrossed in her device. Slowly more children come; three girls sit together, they gossip and squeal, a couple of boys are dropped off by a minivan. One boy has bright blue shoes and a backpack trimmed in neon green, adding a bit of pizazz to the rather drab school uniform they all wear; black collared shirts and khaki shorts at the prescribed school-approved length. This brightly adorned boy is the only one who chooses not to sit down. Good.

The bus comes, the stop sign flips open and the lights flash, and the kids all clamber inside. A gush of autumnal affection overwhelms me, and I am momentarily captivated by mental images of falling leaves and football games and pencil shavings.

These students here in front of me, I was once one of them. The students with me in Rhinebeck, we were all once of these students on the bus; awkward, unsure, growing, caring, squealing, gossiping, bright. There we all were, and here we all are. The tenderness of it all enchants me, and my insides warm with a palpable gratitude for the new friends I made, my fellow students of the mystery, both mentioned and not, who have added color and awakened beauty in my life.  A school bus of selves, perhaps one could call it…

I glance at one of my milkweed plants. I saw a monarch butterfly on it a few days ago. Today there is a yellow jacket. The flower doesn’t seem to mind, butterfly or yellow jacket, it simply blooms. Even the stingers pollinate.


I get up, collect my son Nicholas, and pile his flailing and happy limbs into his wagon for our morning walk. He is eight years old, but with a mental development age of about 8 months old. Some might see this as a tragedy, but it doesn’t seem to bother him in the least.

As I pull him, he giggles almost constantly. He is content with, or actually utterly delighted with, watching the sidewalk pass under his eyes.


What a rush! I see written upon his round little face.

What a brilliant earthly phenomenon, this flying of the sidewalk concrete! He reaches his arm over the side of his wagon to let a little blue stuffed elephant in his hand dangle onto the roughness below, letting the vibrations sent up his arms from the bumps and cracks enhance his sensory experience.

Oh yes, sweet child, little student of the Earth.

What an experience!

What an adventure!

The Rapture of a Mockingbird


I have recently found myself wrapped in a late night love affair with a mockingbird. He begins his balllad-ing, both intense and dramatic, around 11:30 pm, and doesn’t stop for hours. Initially, I feared he was a mother bird frantically chirping for her attacked or injured chick. However, after several nights of these dramatic sonnets, I realized this could not be the case.

With a little research, I found that in springtime male mockingbirds croon in this way, sometimes even at night, to keep their mates (who are liable to go flitting and flirting around, checking out other males in the area, as to keep her options open and, well, not all her eggs in one basket, so to speak…)

So this love-crazed male, outside my window, professes his undying love for his sweetheart.  Or he might be a bit more mischievous.   His motives may also be to either win her from another male, or…well, to attract another female, as to keep his options open and avoid keeping all his eggs in one basket.

So even here, in the middle of suburbia, in the middle of a cookie cutter neighborhood, in the middle of the night; love and romance and passion and virility and battle and music are wildly alive! And this excites me so much, that the artificial human impulse for sameness and civility, tameness and sanitization and sharp, clear boundaries, has been completely overthrown by a fury of little birds who chatter under the stars, who are ready for war and passion and parenthood, all at the same time.

And this is largely a secret. After much tossing and turning and attempts at being a responsible mother who should really get some sleep, I finally tip toed outside with a flashlight, audience to this glorious creature, giggling, holding myself back from knocking on every neighbor’s door to join me, or shaking my children or husband awake, so that they might too delight in this beautiful production. But windows were dark, lights were all out. My sweet husband must wake so early, and the children breathed so peacefully. And so, it was a show for only the birds, and for me.

The next day I found myself outside with the garden shears. I must trim the bushes, as tidy bushes are good for property values and home owner associations. I notice myself holding tears in my eyes as I cut the new growth. Pruning, I tell myself. Pruning. Yet I feel that I am stifling the bushes, snipping off the fresh, glossy, unfolding, reddish green leaves of new growth. The babies. Does the bush sing for these fresh green stems and tender leaves in lullabies undetectable to my ears? Do the leaves dance with their leaf-lovers, so subtly that my eyes cannot catch the movement?

There is a truck across the street. A pool cleaning service vehicle, equipped with all manner of chemical cocktails and algaecides, to keep the pools blue. A pest control van is parked a few houses down, then further a TruGreen truck, and I wonder if it should be called FalseGreen.

And yet here I am, pruning the wild out of my own bushes. What a funny place my heart occupies. I remind myself, this is a good neighborhood, nice people, lots of children, stable property values, whatever that means. Unfortunately, I am not very good at normal, though I sometimes try for the sake of my children, who, despite their healthy senses of humor and strength, can become utterly embarrassed by the antics of their mother.

Thus, I brush away my silly tears, and prepare to start normalizing the bushes again.

And that is when he finds me. The mockingbird, at the very tippity top of a tree across the street, with his head held high, singing out his nighttime love song, smack in the middle of the day. As if this is not quite showy enough for the ladybirds, lucky as they already are, in my estimation, he finishes each verse with a flurry of acrobatics, wings and beak and tiny legs launching in perfectly executed movements, and ending with a steady landing on his branch.  Within moments, he begins again.  I decide, with all that mojo in such a little body, he must not need sleep.

I am enraptured. I am completely and hopelessly in love with him. I realize, staring up at him with sweat and tears salty on my face, he is not only a Romeo, he is an alchemist. A real magician.

You see, his song was not originally his, it was borrowed from the environment around him. He is copying the sounds of other birds, of frogs, of insects; it is hard to identify each contributor to his melody. He has picked up what was around him, molded it all into an orchestra, and made it new, fresh, different, unique, breathtaking.

I am reminded that no matter where I find myself, whatever my circumstance, there is always the curious opportunity to alchemize, to mix a little bit of my own magic into it all. Add a little color, a little spice, a little melody, into the world around me. Give and receive, flow in, flow out.  To be as free and resplendent, yet as giving and natural, as this mockingbird.

He is just doing his job, after all. Being fabulous and beautiful and amazing and passionate and mischievous. But most of all, inspiring.

I shall try to do the same.

(If you are looking for me, I am in the house with half the hedge tightly manicured, the other half with glimmering branches outstretched in beautiful chaos toward the sun.)


Riot of the Heart, Theater of the Mind


The small man

Builds cages for everyone

He knows.

While the sage

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the




– Hafiz

The media highlights riots as of late. Clashes between opposing peoples. Some label it racial. Perhaps beneath that superficial and rather vigorously cultivated label, lies something deeper. One group fighting to be heard, Seen, at any cost; and an opposing group, fighting for order and status quo, at any cost.

Some people see danger in these rioters, some see heroes. Some people see danger in law enforcement officers, some see heroes. And yet, beneath the opinions and judgements, the blues and reds and skin pigments and batons and various government or gang insignia, we are all of us Humans. Earthlings. Tribesmen of the same magnificent biome.

These clashes among men, these battles for power and rule and voice, are outward gestures of that which is within us.

At the heart of every riot is a riot of the heart.

If one should dare be brave enough to look inside her own precious biome, specifically her human psyche, one would find a plethora of little rioters, all vying for a voice, for a chance to speak and be heard. Just for a moment, to be Seen.  Both oppressors and oppressed live within us. There is beauty and repulsion in us, kindness and cruelty, illuminating angels and feral beasts.  There are heroes and villains and everything in between.  And they are all, each and every small, scary, ridiculous one of them, invaluable.

The exercise of Seeing Them, I have discovered, is very simple, and very challenging.  I saw things I did not want to see, things I did not want to admit, weaknesses and oddities that would not, in general terms, be acceptable to the Overculture, to society at large.  However, upon deeper investigation, I found that these highly charged rioters within were not ‘bad’ or ‘good’ or anything that could be labeled.  Instead they held something for me; it could be a memory, a dream, an urge, a desire, a love, an interest, a pain.  Underneath the labels were just little packets of energy, waiting to be released, rebuilt, transmuted, loved, allowed.

I shall not divulge all the contents of my inner psyche (be thankful), but with the help of an amazing woman, (small plug, well deserved, check her out), and as a model, this is what I found:

There are the pieces of me that manage my outer life, with checklists and timelines and buzzers and pencils behind their ears.

There are pieces that interact with other people; perhaps smiley and laughing, or deep and contemplative, or mischievous and gossipy, or shy or intellectual.

There are those that hold the stale and aching pain, the shame and judgement of all the years. Some quiet and hiding, some angry and hot-tempered.  Some a wee bit crazy.

And then, somewhere deep in there, and almost always tangled up with the pain, is the piece that holds my dreams. The real Juju, that as-of-yet unexperienced magic that I came to earth for, at least this time around. Imagine a tuxedoed, inner James Bond puffing on a cigarette in the casino of your psyche, just waiting for his chance to throw the dice. Buy him a Martini, lend him your ear, and he shall whisper to you a few ideas on profitable missions, worthy adventures, spices that mix well with your particular life path.  He’s your mojo, baby.

We must listen, openly, to the riots of our hearts.  It is necessary. If we ignore these voices; the exhausted, the forgotten, the overzealous, the lusty, the poetic, the wild, the lovemakers, the warriors, the children, the wise elders, the quiet whisperers, they will riot.

They will riot.

So many of us are rioting on the inside. So many of us are living lives that, secretly and perhaps unknowingly, are not the lives we wish to live. Not really.

Very few of us will admit this.  Instead, we mostly choose from society’s accepted lists of guidelines and distractions to numb our pain, bury our deepest dreams and  silence our shaded desires. Such sickly sweet salves of sedation will lead, eventually, to a life’s adventure lost.

We must take our power back. We must not be afraid of that which is inside us. We must own it all, without shame or pride, but simply with honor.

We must drop keys for our rowdy prisoners.

Listen to your rioters. Some will be hilarious, some will be like real friends.  Some will be crazy. Believe me, I know. That’s ok, listen anyway. Each has some nugget of truth, even if it is buried in a thousand pounds of bullshit and emotional insanity. Wade through the fetid emotional muck (a rather potent fertilizer), until you find that gleaming nugget, and thank the little rioter for his most precious gift.

The trick, I have found, is to have the intention only of Seeing what they offer. Not healing, or fixing, or admiring, or correcting, or punishing. Just being the audience, handing over the microphone for a moment, giving your insides the stage.

It is grand theater, an inner opera house of your own making. I highly recommend attending. Remove all the labels of who you are and what you believe and what is good and what is bad and where your life should go.  Shelf it all, and find a nice comfortable seat in the front row.

I have sat in this theater with pain, letting the anguish of my sister’s death froth up and overwhelm me; allowing all the visualizations to come unhindered. I have also sat in this theater in a blessed sort of brainstorming, to sculpt out an answer to the question, “What shall I do with this life?” Some things I knew.  But what else could be in there hiding?

A lot, actually.  (James Bond has lots of nuggets stashed among the poker chips in his tuxedo pockets…)

One has to go her own way. Leave normal behind. Make mistakes. Change. Let go of people. Embrace new people. Withstand gossip and the feigned concern of others not yet brave enough to walk this path themselves. Be ok with that. Get really, really real.

Life begins to open up, to bloom, one glorious fragrant petal at a time.  Faith in oneself is restored, courage rejuvenated.  Outside approval is no longer quite so important.  Authentic personal, individual excellence emanates, and colors the world in a million magnificent hues of riotously beautiful manifestation.

Go on.  Be a rainbow, created from the sunshine and thunderstorms of all that is within you, of all that makes you You.


“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi



We have moved.

Somehow, someway, the universe took notice of the small misfit family shivering away in Massachusetts, and gave wings to our intentions and efforts to change our geography. Befuddled by shoveling and ice salt and leaking winter roofs, our family trudged through the gray days that, for us, stopped being cozy and grew to be oppressive.

No doubt I will miss a springtime yard exploding with dandelions like a thousand boastful stars in a green night sky, flowerbeds jungle-ing with raucous wildflowers, and jubilant children scaling trees and rocks in a flurry of wildly imagined battles and expeditions.

I will miss autumn, ablaze with fiery parades of trees in their grand finale, throwing off shining bulbous acorns like Mardi Gras beads, the kings and queens of the season.  I will miss the feeling of the coming hibernation as a welcome adventure;  imagining my family as a little troupe of squirrels burrowed deep in the ground on a bed of fat nuts, all twisted into ourselves, someone’s head resting on someone else’s bottom, all snoring peacefully and dreaming of sugar plum fairies.

But most of all, I will miss the family who became my family. A friendship that became a sisterhood, two children who became like my own, as mine became hers. A friend who loved me (and still loves me) completely, and our children sharing the same bond. She is a sculptor of simple beauties, a transformative magician of the mundane into the fanciful; even uncovering the elegance of a Victorian cockroach. I should have known a great friendship was to grow when I realized we shared the same name. So many new colors awoke within me when I handed her a paintbrush. Friendship also goes through seasons, and perhaps we have left one season for another, but I know, dear friend, that the sun will always shine warmly down upon us.

My family has left these things behind us, at least geographically, and thrown ourselves into the world of snowbirds. We are in Florida. My heart sings for palm trees and snorkels and red salty skin; the larger-than-life performances of Hibiscus bushes and Birds of Paradise and the occasional cameo of Plumeria. These plants remind me of hot-tempered, sultry, voluptuous women, and I sometimes wonder if they won’t reach out and smack you with a leafy hand should you pass them by without acknowledging their bursting, sensual beauties.

We currently reside in a hotel, one of those extended stay joints with a mini kitchen and free wine and beer Monday through Thursday. Not a bad deal for a girl shoveling two feet of snow from her driveway in subarctic temperatures with two grumpy, rather unhelpful children just a week ago. Now we sit, depressurizing, at the pool, which is situated right off a major highway. I find this amusing. Paradise amidst the concrete (or should I say asphalt) jungle.

This hotel is patronized almost entirely by snowbirds. I absolutely adore them.

Some are fat, some are skinny. Some of the women wear old lady bathing suits and some of them wear classy, old lady bathing suits and some of them just go for it and wear bikinis. Some are grumpy and fuss at each other and some are ancient party animals and flirt with each other. My favorite are those women opting for bikinis, with dark, leathery, freckled skin and wrinkled bellies and sagging breasts and big smiles and a constant supply of cheap cigarettes. They smell of smoke and cocktails and artificial coconut, and their laughter is deep and raspy and often.

I think they have conquered the world.

I imagine myself, one day, in such blessed victory, to finally master the abolition of worry; to no longer give much regard for youthful skin and healthy lungs, but to know I’m nearing the end of a life well lived, a life longer than most, and to go out in a blaze of mirth and cheap drinks and cigarette smoke. They are, these women, the Hibiscus and Birds of Paradise and Plumeria come to human life; with pungent fragrance and bright colors and tough skin.

God, let me live to be a snowbird. Perhaps by then, my sister with the same name can pull up a lounge chair and give me a light.  Such as she always so graciously provides.


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