Monday, May 30, 2011


We Have Come to Be Danced
By Jewel Mathieson

We have come to be danced
Not the pretty dance
Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
But the claw our way back into the belly
Of the sacred, sensual animal dance
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
The holding the precious moment in the palms
Of our hands and feet dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
But the wring the sadness from our skin dance
The blow the chip off our shoulder dance.
The slap the apology from our posture dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the monkey see, monkey do dance
One two dance like you
One two three, dance like me dance
But the grave robber, tomb stalker
Tearing scabs and scars open dance
The rub the rhythm raw against our soul dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle
But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
Shaman shaking ancient bones dance
The strip us from our casings, return our wings
Sharpen our claws and tongues dance
The shed dead cells and slip into
The luminous skin of love dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
But the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath and beat dance
The shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
The mother may I?
Yes you may take ten giant leaps dance
The olly olly oxen free free free dance
The everyone can come to our heaven dance.

We have come to be danced
Where the kingdoms collide In the cathedral of flesh
To burn back into the light To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
To root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced! We have come.

I LOVE this poem. Love it with a passion, love it with the part of me that longs to be danced, the part of me that has known, in fleeting moments anyway, what it's like to be danced. Every word, every word of this poem hit me with pure resonance and knowing. Every word had me thirsting for the next, and the next, had me breathless in the way that we are breathless only when Sacred Truth punches us in the gut; had the heart pounding in anticipation and excitement, the feet practically tapping. This poem has me trembling, with longing, with desire; has me weeping with melancholy and missing; awakens some ancient I know it in my bones memory, of the deepest sorrow, the most radiant joy. This poem has me feeling more alive than I have felt in eons, maybe ever.

This poem is going up on my wall.


Today I start a new ecourse called Unraveling. I know... isn't it possible - likely even - that over the past couple of years I've unraveled enough??? But apparently not, because the minute this course was recommended to me, the minute I went on Susannah Conwway's website and read about her and her journey through grief and sorrow, read a little about the course, I couldn't wait for registration to open, couldn't wait to pay my 97 pounds, couldn't wait to get started. 

(And how cool is it that a poem with the word unravel arrives in my mailbox the day before I begin...?)

Today I get started. Today we get started, women from all corners of the globe, and those in between, in cyber community... together, with picture-taking and journal-writing we will unravel. I'm so excited. Though here's the one hiccup, for me anyway: we are asked not to share the course in our blogs. I completely understand the why and I will honor the request, but it will be different for me, to not share the journey here; where I pour my heart out, where I chronicle the ups and downs, the goods, the bads, the uglies, the progress, the stumbles, where I find balance, understanding, insight. I can post snippets here and there... and I probably will... I can talk about the impact the course is having on my life... and I probably will; I just won't be sharing all the particulars; and who knows, it might even be good for me... to practice a little self-containment...

How much unraveling is enough? Is there ever enough? Like fine silk thread from a large spool, one delicate strand and revolution at a time, the spool being this lifetime, the thread the journey, I hunger to unwind, to unravel until there's nothing left... nothing that stands in the way, past the pretty dance, beyond the self conscious shuffle, opened-hearted, unafraid, uninhibited, away from the shallow end of the dance floor into vast emptiness, into boundarie-less-ness; like a ragdoll, a marionette, a tree swaying in the wind, a wave churned by the ocean, a soul longing to move and be moved, I have come, I know I have, I feel it... haven't we all in fact come... to be danced.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Next word ~ Beauty

This is a travel week. A two-day road trip with my oldest daughter, Seattle to the Bay Area, along the coast. I SO love road trips, and also, visiting a place where blooms are happening that have already spent themselves here! It's like a second chance. So, for beauty, three pics of cherry tree blossoms in my daughter's neighborhood, straight from the camera, with my brand new lens, a birthday present to myself. I'm SO excited about the lens now that I've seen these pics. Oh, be still my heart... here I was saying that dogwood is my favorite spring tree, but I'm not sure even dogwood can top the feeling that these lovely cherry blossoms give me!

Off next with my sisters to Calistoga for a couple of days to hang out, shop, and soak in some warm mineral pools. The three of us haven't been together like this in over twenty-five years... wow, where does the time go...

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your
laughter rises was oftentime filled with your tears...
When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only
that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy
When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been
your delight. 

From Khalil Gibran's The Prophet

This has been one of my very favorite quotes or as long as I remember--my first favorite quote actually. Joy is our third word for our third week. Something I've definitely experienced, but not much for the past three years or so (except for times during my three months on Moloka'i). Maybe this project and remembering this quote will help bring it flowing back into my life again....

This is my first attempt at creating a collage that includes one of my own photos. I'm excited about it... I've had this vision since I started getting serious about photography but had no idea how it all might come together. I really enjoyed doing this. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have happened without the creative nudges of this ecourse. And for that, I'm grateful...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Raining Umbrellas Week 3 Assignment

Winter is an etching,
spring a watercolor,
summer an oil painting
 and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~Stanley Horowitz

This week's assignment, Changing Seasons. I wanted to collage, but am having a hard time figuring out how to print square photos so... I decided to not stress myself and to just post them here. This was a great challenge, to find photos that not only fit the season, but that somehow went together, then when post processing, to keep in mind that they are a "set." And then I decided to up the creative ante, and be even more vulnerable by adding some haiku which I'm brand new at but am finding disarmingly attractive. So much can be said and conveyed in seventeen tiny syllables. An awesome challenge for this normally very verbose person.

I hope you enjoy.

A frosty morning
awakes the long winter night
sun sparkles on leaves

Ripe blossoms offer
the brightest and sweetest pinks
my soul awakens

Long dreamy summer
meanders thoughtless and sweet
 fearless heart opens

Earth’s gorgeous hurrah
in silent preparation
wails her deathbed song

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? 
From Mary Oliver's poem, "The Summer Day"

As I've come to see it, it's all about growth. I heard the other day that matter is either growing or it is decaying. Those are the only two choices. Of course, as a long-time gardener, I know that, I've just never seen it put so succinctly or scientifically. And now I know why something else that I heard years ago made so much sense. It was a famous television therapist (who will go unnamed for many reasons) who once said that in a year, a person would either be worse off or better off, but they wouldn't be the same. He further explained that if a person was in fact the same, that they were worse off (decaying) because positive changes (growth) had not occurred. Serendipitously, I heard him say that the same week that I first read the Mary Oliver quote above, and the same week I turned fifty. Like puzzles pieces coming surprisingly together, these three things combined to alter my life drastically.

Grow or decay... I can only hope that whatever it is that moves this life will continue to choose growth... (until that last breath, anyway, when the inevitable physical decay leaves no choice!)

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


We're halfway through the Lessons in Creativity eCourse and I just realized that each week we get three words that we are supposed to express somehow through creativity. So, I'm a little late getting started, but here's the first one for this week: Adventure~a word that sends warm tingly feelings up and down my spine...

I've been so lucky in the last six years to have had some incredible adventurous experiences. The first two came out of the desire to step outside the bounds of living a fearful life, and the last one, three months on the small Hawaiian island, Moloka'i, came out of a need to retreat, be alone, grieve, and (hopefully) do some healing. I played with these pictures all day today, literally, so far about ten hours (!). I'm thinking it might actually be kind of cheezy, but whatever, I learned a lot and had a whole lot of fun doing it.

These adventures changed my life. In huges ways. Looking at the photos again, thinking about those times, I realize again what hugely transformative experiences they were. Here's a little peek. Hope you enjoy. (Be sure to click on the pic if you need it bigger to read the text.)

Swimming with wild dolphins, Bimini Island, the Bahamas

Europe ~
Traveling part of the time with  my youngest daughter, part of the time alone

Three Months Alone on Moloka'i


See you again soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raining Umbrellas: Notebook & Originality

I thought since there is nothing creative inside my notebook to share, that at least I could decorate the outside, and not only give myself something to post here, but make it somewhere inviting, that I want to continue to go, that will continue to play a part in my creativity. I had fun decorating it. Then I had fun setting up the shot, though I have absolutely no experience or expertise in this type of still life. Though I have to say that my interest is piqued. This was just a quick shot on the outside patio before the sun started to go down, then a couple of textures added.

I have--of course--been thinking a lot about creativity this week. It's interested me that I've done all collage work when my greatest passion/pleasure is photography. Then it hit me that photography is in a way just simple. It's totally blissful, and yes, I still have much to learn, but there's never the thought that it's too hard, that maybe I can't really do it (except may be to the degree or quality I'd hope); but it's easy, I want to do it and I do. Collage, on the other hand, though it totally beckons me, takes me all the way to my creative edge. I'm never really sure that I can do it, or if I do it once, that I can ever do it again. I'm always afraid to let go, afraid I'll make a mistake, afraid I'll "ruin" it, so I hold back. It dawned on me this week that it's symbolic of the way I "hold back" in so many ways in my life. It's the edge in more ways than one...

Here's where I am challenged in photography. I long to grow my own unique and  individual style. Right now I look at my flickr pages and see photos that are all over the map, with no defining sensibility or feel. I know it's because I'm learning and discovering and experimenting, trying new things, heading down different avenues. I know this is a good thing. And people tell me that a personal and authentic creative style will emerge as i continue to play. But it doesn't hurt to put the wish out there...

Here's a fantastic quote I came across yesterday. It warmed my heart immensely, and gave me hope!

At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections,
there exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm,
which is absolutely individual and unique,
and yet which connects us to everything else.

~George Leonard (1923-2010) American writer
It's been a great two weeks creatively. Thanks so much, Vicki, and all of you who have come along for the ride, visited here, and were kind enough to leave comments. I'm looking forward to what the next two have to offer!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Raining Umbrellas Week 2

I have this fantasy that living a creative life is somehow the answer, the formula, the great curator of all happiness. That at some point, I’ll arrive at this marvelous place, where creativity comes easily and naturally, no discipline involved, no angsty melodrama, no zealous critic working overtime keeping me overwhelmed and full of doubt, and I’ll produce the most inspiring works of art, people will line up in cyberspace to buy them, perhaps there will be a book involved, maybe even some globetrotting, and wala, finally, finally, I’ll live happily ever after (in my sweet little home on the shores of beautiful Hawaii, maybe even—surprise, surprise—the north/west shore of Oahu, with my gorgeous art studio open to the sea, the symphony of surf, luscious trade winds, the scent of plumeria, and Lono on the stereo, all the muses one could ever possibly need… oh, and did I mention I am looking remarkably young, and thin, and fit... Oh! and that Johnny Depp will be flying in later-sans Vanessa of course-to spend the weekend...?*@&%!).

Haha… and I lament all the time about my lack of imagination…

I want badly to start this next paragraph with Seriously… but each time I write it, I backspace to erase it. Because—though I’m loathe to admit it—I think there’s at least a grain of truth imbedded in that sweet little fantasy, and maybe it’s that nugget of truth that actually gets in my way and holds me back, putting a certain “agenda” or desired outcome on my creativity that in the end only handcuffs me.

I had a long conversation yesterday with my older daughter about this whole creativity thing. She is a writer and artist, no stranger to the joys and challenges of living a creative life. I so value our conversations; she’s never afraid to ask me the hard questions, to poke and prod, be blunt and honest, lovingly, fearlessly challenging me. This morning, after the conversation, followed by my weekly incredible body/breath/healing work, I am feeling much more grounded, less besieged, more open.

And in this receptive space inspiration floated in, on invisible wings, and with it the idea for the piece of art I’d started for this week’s assignment that hadn’t been going much of anywhere. I have seen this phenomena many times; how through some grace or miracle or still moment, efforting eases, the voices quiet, letting go happens, and in fly ideas, visions, knowing, as though the muse is sitting right on my shoulder waiting for me to get out of the way so that she can do her job. Here's what she brought~

Living the creative life I…

Let go
Take risks
Lead with the heart
Honor process over product
Practice loving kindness
Practice gentle discipline
Ignore the critical voices
Dance on the edge
(but don't leave the moment...)

12 x 12 mixed media on wood. Click for larger view.

On the practical side, I don't know that I'll be posting my notebook. This week has helped me see, once again, that when it comes to creating, whether it's a room, garden, photo, or collage, I work from the gut as I am moved, and it grows organically, pretty much one mysterious step at a time. I've never been a planner, I pretty much don't "see" things ahead of time. It just unfolds. So, the only thing in my notebook is a simple list each day of what I did that was creative. The notebook itself(mine, anyway!)is anything but creative. (Which makes me wonder if I actually missed the whole point of the assigment except that I did create each day, which I think was more the point...?) Though I really did love keeping a notebook, it helped me stay more focused and on track, and I'd like to continue to use it. And who knows, maybe in time I'll let loose and it will grow into its own beautifully creative space!

And btw, after the serious detour into the land of self doubt and sabotage earlier this week, this sliver of understanding and the art that sprang forth from it just makes me want to cry... (or maybe it's that Johnny's due to arrive any moment now...  ;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Lusty Month of May

Is it just me, or is May the best thing the calendar year has going for it? I mean really, after the long, dark, wet and chill of winter, after the indecisiveness of April, when the bones themselves (not to mention the psyche) just crave a good, solid dose of sunny warmth, of outdoors, here it comes—finally.

It could be I’m biased. I was born in May, and on the very last day (hint, hint :), so I spent (especially as a kid, but let’s face it, still) the entire month, all thirty-one days, in giddy anticipation. Plus my bday coincided within a day of a national holiday, so it always felt all that more special. There were barbeques, picnics, Girl Scout sleepovers, and back then, even the stores were closed. But birthday aside, May was finally getting back outside; riding bikes, roller skating, hopscotch; shorts, skinned knees, cartwheels, running through waist-high weeds; wild kittens, tadpoles, the first tiger swallowtails. Not to mention it's when irises and roses, my two favorite flowers going way back to when they practically grew wild in our yard, just explode, the tall beardeds rising so proudly, their shimmering petals folding back ever so gracefully, revealing their yummy secret center and subtle scent; and the roses, oh my, the roses, bushes upon bushes covered in stunning riots of color and heady perfume just waiting for you to walk by.

Truly, is there a time of year when a little white picket fence ever looked so sweet? When the sun feels more welcome? The spirit more rejuvenated? Where I’m living right now the houses were built mostly before the sixties (when junipers and nice, tidy, evergreen flowerbeds became the landscaping of choice). Here, there are irises and roses galore, and sometimes I head out in my sun-warmed car and prowl the neighborhoods, pulling over every block or so, camera in hand, recording the month—my month—in flowers, especially the irises, which still, in the old-fashioned way, bloom just this once for the year, unlike roses which now days are serious re-bloomers, though never with quite the same verve of the very first showing. It’s what makes the irises that much more special; I know that they are breeding repeat blooming irises now, but here, I’m a purist; here, it’s all about the wait, the anticipation, the deferred gratification, the rareness, the glorious specialness of my most favorite flower blooming once and only once as the world makes its annual spring turn.

To my eye they are simply the epitome of beauty. So much to savor, and then the relishing of that almost sweet nostalgia when they begin to fade and pass. Right now, in my still-semi-depressed-state, aware of their limited time offer, I just can’t get enough, and how delicious, how lucky, I get to savor them once by looking, twice by photographing, three times by post processing, and a fourth, by sharing them here. Every day for nearly a month. I walk or drive around looking here and there and everywhere, and what runs through my mind, what seems inexplicable to me, oxymoronic even, is that if May and irises can’t cure depression, then surely nothing can.

Maybe Guenevere said (sang) it best in Camelot:

Tra la! It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
Blissfully astray.
Tra la! It's here!
That shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear!
It's May! It's May!
That gorgeous holiday
When ev'ry maiden prays that her lad
Will be a cad!
It's mad! It's gay!
A libelous display!
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

Tra la! It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That darling month when ev'ryone throws
Self-control away.
It's time to do
A wretched thing or two,
And try to make each precious day
One you'll always rue!
It's May! It's May!
The month of "yes you may,"
The time for ev'ry frivolous whim,
Proper or "im."
It's wild! It's gay!
A blot in ev'ry way.
The birds and bees with all of their vast
Amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast,
The lusty month of May.

Happy May  :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Annie and Katie - Oh My  :))
Oh My Goodness. Fell down the rabbit hole again this morning. Right on schedule… mother’s day. I think there’s an invisible cloud that just hangs there… waiting for the day. All the bad memories, hurts and sores not in my conscious awareness come raining down, pounding me.

Thank goodness that patterns change… thank goodness for my own daughters, their exquisite wonderfulness, their precious beings, the way love and healing and growth flow between us. What an amazing gift. How they help ME heal… A totally unexpected perk of being a mother.

I can’t fool them. They hear it in my voice no matter how perky I try to sound. Like their love has a special probe or antenna. I am reminded by one of them this morning that I am still in the midst of the darkness, and that in the darkness, everything looks negative, and that thoughts and beliefs that come from this place can’t be trusted. She lives in Washington State, and she wrote me the most beautiful email, and if I was crying nonstop before I read it, the waterworks really turned on as I read it. Then my other daughter, herself in a hard and challenging space, wanting nothing more than to hop on BART for the long ride out here to spend the day hanging with me.

Every year I work to reframe it. Every year my intention is to focus on all there is to be grateful about in the mother-daughter terrain. And there is so incredibly much. Having them, mothering them, how moment by moment they’ve challenged me to be a better person, the way our relationships have grown and transformed as they’ve come into their own womanhoods, all beyond my ability to ever imagine. Ditto that having come from such an unhealthy mother-daughter dyad, that something so completely different has come into being with them. I mean different. By as many degrees as is possible. Mind blowing, really.

I would think that would be enough, but here’s the truth: no matter how much work I do to heal, there is still this little girl living inside here, a sweet, precious shy little being that wasn’t treated well, that had some bad things happen to her, and that was taught to believe she was bad and worthless and good at nothing and good for nothing. So all things considered, I think she’s doing a pretty fantastic job.

So this mother’s day I celebrate her and her perennial, unwilling-to-give-up spirit. I celebrate my own daughters, and more love flowing between us than I ever thought possible. And at the same time, because it’s a big part of what formed me and who I am, I grieve; I grieve for what was and what wasn’t; and I grieve for my own mother, so unhappy and wounded herself, she had little to give that didn’t end up perpetuating her own broken heart and serious life pain.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Creating ~ Assignment I, Raining Umbrellas Lessons in Creativity eCourse

Double-click for a larger view.

As regular readers of this blog know, owning myself as an artist is a big stumbling block. So, the first part of this first assignment--write down at least one factor that played a large part in who you are an an artist today--had me panicked. It went something like this:

What?…  oh shit… I must have gotten myself into the wrong course… this one is for artists… OMG, what am I going to do... I have to get out of it... they'll know I don't belong here... is it too late to get a refund… ???? and on and on until I was practically shaking in my boots.

But titles aside, I do love to create and I am totally in love with the creative process itself. Letting go into the unknown, being lost in the moment, without idea or agenda, and watching something come into being that did not previously exist, is truly amazing.

I so enjoyed making this collage, one of my favorite things to create, and the first one I've done in a long while. I enjoyed the process of looking at the factors that have led to me being the "artist" I am today--namely loss and grief, and my love of nature and flowers and gardens. Then opening the lens wider, and creating the collage of the things that have formed me into the person I am today. A nice reminder of obstacles overcome, gifts aplenty, and a great invitation to deeper understanding, acceptance, loving-kindness.

So thanks, Vicki, for a great personal and creative challenge!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I have a friend who tells me all the time that everything is consciousness. No matter what is being expressing, be it love, rage, jealousy, joy, grief, despair, lostness, foundness, it doesn’t really matter because it’s all consciousness. All of it, no buts or exceptions or exclusions; no separation, it’s all IT, in its many different forms, manifestations, expressions.

I like it. It takes a lot of pressure off. Pressure to be, look, sound, show up a certain way. Pressure to change. Pressure from thinking in terms of right and wrong, the good girl or the bad, the unacceptable, the unacceptable. (Ha, now there’s a great Freudian… didn’t catch that on the first few read throughs; that should read—of course—the acceptable, the unacceptable.) But this whole idea of no separation also seems to have some relevance to a conundrum I’ve been experiencing lately vis-à-vis the blogging world and the whole idea that I can split my blogging self into two parts, the writer, and the photographer (plus flickr, which I’ve been using a lot lately with my Photoshop e-coursing).

The wires have already been crossing, of course, but it’s come to more of a head this morning because I’m starting a creativity e-course and am completely stumped as to which of my many sites (wink) to link myself to with my new classmates. And long story short, the answer is simple—really, once I sit and relax and go with the flow—the answer is right here, in this place, except that in the same moment that I know its rightness, there's also a landfill full of doubts and fears.

It’s not that this is the only place where the “real” me hangs out, but it is where the most complete and honest me shows up. Time and again this is where I’ve fought the shame, embarrassment, fear, darkness, demons, and written with as much honesty and candor as I could. Here’s another opportunity to do it again, to be with what shows up as I go into this four-week e-course, to continue to be open and vulnerable, to share my desire to create and do art, to express my doubts, my feelings of mediocrity, of being less-than and different, my tenderness, sadness even, at the hiccup I experience around the notion that I-me-debby can be (is) creative and artistic AND that it’s a worthwhile pursuit and use of time; that it’s enough, that I’m enough, the usual blah, blah, blah mantra that even I am getting bored of. So bored, I’m going to stop listening.

So, in addition to the normal posts where I Muse and post some pics, I’ll be using this space to post my homework assignments for the next four weeks, and I will no doubt also be writing about the experience. Though it does feel like descending (once again) to a new level of the personal… but then I remind myself, oh yeah, that’s what it’s been about all along…

So, I’ll see you this weekend with my very first assignment.

In the meantime, happy spring  :)

Aloha Nui,