Reclaimed Hope

Along the Edge of Rumor

Snow fell most of the day and had covered the walk way up to the house. I stamped my feet and shook the white flakes off of my jacket and gloves. The familiar squeak of the door and the warmth of the open-faced stove welcomed me home.

The box I put together in wood shop was missing from atop the narrow chest of drawers beside the front door.  He was proud I had made it for him and kept his keys, wallet, cigarettes, and lighter in it. All that was left on the old chest was a neatly folded handkerchief. 

As I sat on the farmhouse bench to peel off my layers of jackets and shoes, I detected a bare spot on the wall. His scarf, heavy parka and boots were missing.

An Inner Knowing

A sinking, empty suspicion plummeted over me, as I hung my wool hat on the nearly barren rack above the mirror.  My vacant eyes stared back at me, alone in my reflection, where jackets once dangled so thick the looking-glass was barely noticed.

I knew he was leaving. She had told me the night before. 

She stood in the kitchen, near the stove, facing the window. I slipped my arm inside of hers and leaned my head against her shoulder.  We watched the silent snow falling under the street light. Steam from the stove pushed toward the glass and collected like wretched fog that shrouds a road ahead. 

I cleared dirty dishes, a setting for two with cold rejected coffee left in their cups. It was the last time they would have breakfast together, before the snow began to fall. Her napkin was neatly folded and his was crumpled on half eaten egg.  I imagined she couldn’t bring herself to look after such a trivial reminder of his disregard of her talents. It wasn’t like her to neglect dirty dishes. 

She never once turned to look at me, while I cleaned up their abandoned scraps, she didn’t condemn him or complain of his vanishing act. 

We had our dinner in silence, quiet as the snow fell, we declined to give voice to our heartache. Our misfortune sat between us like a sack of dirty laundry with no one to blame and no raincheck for his lyrical discourse.  

He was gone. On a whim, packed up his near and dear in the dead of winter and slipped away.

A Long Time Coming

In my heart of hearts, I knew it was long overdue like the light bill or outdated milk.  It felt more like bald tires with nothing left to patch.  Done, over, had to go. 

The kindness between them had worn out its welcome and their faces turned from one another when sweetness could have been spoken. They never said harsh words or belittled the other. She slept on the couch under a Pendleton blanket more often than not with no excuse or any reason for it to be unusual.

A bright, hushed, muteness reflected across the dining room floor as a full moon forced a bewildered haze through curtained windows.  She sat bundled in her holy corner near the half-moon table.  Her soft voice hinted hallowed whispers as she drew cards from a wisdom deck and asked for guidance.  Her fingers traced the edges of each card. She pondered their meanings and spoke gently to herself.

You have experienced great sorrow in your life.  You knew it was coming, you knew you were strong enough to manage, and yet, you reached for guidance.  In your choice of cards there is wisdom, deeper understanding of what life brings, forthcoming reality to navigate through the unknown.

Before daylight could surface between the trees snow continued to fall. She sang a melody for clearing, for purification, and for letting go. Her feather fan slung cedar smoke from her hand held smudge bowl as she walked through every room in the house.  A time or two she stopped, sat down the bowl and feather long enough to rearrange a piece of furniture or put something that belonged to him in the trash. Immediately she continued her sacred duties to rid her home of him. 

Finally, the clouds parted and Grandfather Sun glistened through tall, snow ladened trees. She stood in the open front door and waved her feathers and said, “Be gone, I say, be gone with you.”  

Untangled Remnants

With the closing of the door, she turned into the open space of her home with a smile, a confidence, an understanding that the days ahead might be tough, she may long for the smell of him, or she may be reminded of him in a passerby, or hear a song on the radio that they once danced to.  And yet, deep inside of her being, she knew she would continue on, brave her way through the days ahead until daffodils peaked through the melting snow once more.

You too, know beyond all knowing that you will brave the coming days.  You will shed your tears, scream the unfairness of life in your raw-boned voice of deep sadness.  You will unyoke yourself from the days gone by, unchain your heart and set it free.

She gently sat in the small rocking chair beside her half-moon table after hanging her feathers on a hook nearby and covered her shoulders with her grandmother’s shawl. Her weathered fingers rolled the tiger’s eye stone in the palm of her hand and she began a new day. 

Your Sacred Space

Sacred Space Belonging to You

Sunlight peeked through soft-white curtains across large windows in the dining room and powdered delicate hints of light over the oak floor.  She sat on a small wooden rocking chair next to a half-moon table in a quiet corner. Her weathered fingers rolled a flat tigers eye in the palm of her hand. There is a pleasant comfort in her morning routine, a sense of dominion in her gentle language before she lit her tiny bowl of sage. She gratefully chanted the ancient words in a familiar melody in the smoke and claimed mastery of her sacred space.

The light traveled along the floor up to the edges of her feet and gave definition in the gathers of her Poplin cotton print skirt. There was a time-worn sense about her promised practice of tumbling the small stone in her hand with her dark eyes fixed on the tabletop. There was often a subtle quake, a shiver of a mandate given to the guardians who walked along the edges of stone with their feet bleeding through cedar branches in a wind storm.

Shiver to the Bone

You have shivered to the bone with a remarkable circumstance stirring over your shoulders.  You know the orders given in the smell of rain.  You are so aware of purposeful rapture in your child’s laughter.

The backside of the small tabletop was not flushed to the wall. It was decorated with a skillfully placed crimson velvet piece of cloth covered in a white laced crocheted star.  To one side was a tiny beaded leather bag, a chunk of raw turquoise, and a clear quartz crystal. On the edge of the red velvet opposite of her rocking chair was a pair of carved alabaster Cockatoo Doves. She leaned over the beauty of a tiny bowl of lavender petals she whispered amoretti and tilted her head toward the doves as if they cooed back.

I often sat still near the window on the floor opposite her rocking throne, as a silent witness to her natural mantra. Somewhere deep in my bones, I sensed the conjured helpers outside the row of windows. In my longing, I am like a knotted rope covered in wet sand. I witness her skin is full of knowledge in her guttural recitations, expecting that the whispers between her lips were passed directly to the godlike outlines that I saw waiting outside in the trees.

You have felt and possibly seen those godlike creatures roaming between trees, pondering your rustling murmurs.  You, with your wide eyes, have commanded those Invisibles that follow you to fulfill your deepest desires.

 

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Messages on the Wind

The messengers wandered on the wind as she touched every helper object placed on the half-moon table.  Across the bottom of her table was a substantial shelf with a few of her favorite books and in the table’s small drawer were her beloved cards and a bag of stones with symbols.  Each morning she chose one card and one stone.  She kissed them, spoke to them, and gently placed them on the backside of the velvet cloth.

I was fascinated with the beautifully polished wood of the half-moon table and the very fact that I knew it was named after the moon gave this east-facing corner of the dining room consecration.  The benevolent pattern of sunlight traveling across the floor with a destiny to anoint each object ignited her simple language with intentional power.

You are here to gather your medicine, create your sacred space, and stand in your power. You have chosen a perfect shrine-like table, positioned your simple cloth, and collected meaningful power objects.

Now is your time to:

  • Ask each object if it is willing to help you be in touch with your guardians
  • Make a commitment to yourself and your altar that you will consult with it every day
  • Trust your soul to be your sojourner and the listener to your inner guidance

There was a gurgling sigh that simply marched out of her mouth when she put the tiger’s eye inside her bra and commanded the guardians to carry her prayers on the wind to where they needed to be.  She tapped her hands together and pushed them in the air before she disappeared into the kitchen.

We know in every cell of our being, the day in our lives is symmetric.

New Moon Choices

As we all know, everyday, everything changes.  There is constant motion in our universe and as human beings we struggle with this continuous remodeling and endless alterations.  On any given day, we pull away from a stop sign and get smacked by another car who thought they had the right-of-way.  We are headed to a beautiful dinner with friends when the restaurant gets robbed.  Maybe something more simple than that – we walk out to our a car and find we have a dead battery.  Yes, constant, everyday change. We spend a few days tangled up in tree roots because a situation we were looking forward to didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to. Or something worse happened and we want to know, what did we do wrong, is this our karma, or we say something like “I try to do everything right and bad stuff happened.”   Yes, there is never-ending change and we human beings have the hardest time going with the flow.  

The Moon pushes and pulls the ocean’s tide, the forward movement between earth and the Sun. It charms our emotional misunderstandings, and drags our passionate sensibilities through the mud.  For the most part, we human beings hardly ever look up to see where the moon is positioned in the sky or what phase it is in right now. Yet, the Moon is always there watching us, showing up for us everyday, rearranging our moods, and redecorating our relationships.

Last month, January 2019 kicked all of us into a tailspin with an eclipse, lots of stormy weather, leaky roofs, backed up toilets, overdrawn bank accounts, and we couldn’t believe we lived through it all.  Well, we did.  Here we are in February with the planet Venus chasing a new Moon and Mars ushering the Sun in our early morning sky on February 4th giving us, human beings, an opportunity to restore balance within our personal lives. Stop a few minutes, take some time with your own personal thoughts, hopes, and intentions.  Yes, this powerful New Moon is a clean slate.  It is a perfect time to forgive those old grudges, pardon our mistakes, and absolve our sins. 

Where as, last month was clouded and shadowed with darkness.  This February New Moon opens the sky with clarity, confidence, and credence.  It invokes us to stand in what we know we are truly made of, be fully awake in our stouthearted connections and speak our truth into the power of slivering light on the edge of the moon. 

My grandmother would say, “Collect your wishes and throw them in the Moon’s basket.  When she gets to the other side of the world she will toss them down to you.”

“Put your dreams into the moons basket.”

“When she is ready, she will empty her basket with your dreams coming true.”

There is a synchronistic frequency running within the core of the Moon, like a tuning fork setting wavelengths inside the center of the earth’s heart.  This harmonious melody serenades every living creature on the planet, a rhythm running through the rivers, trees, plants, mountains, and stones.  Egotistical thinking separates humanity from these ancient voices that whisper on the wind.

When we, humanity can slow down our mental chatter, the monkey mind, and sit in deep stillness, we soon hear the harmony of our soul’s truest calling. True enough, to create a New Moon Collage or a New Moon Declaration or a New Moon Ceremony for yourself, this is going to take you a bit of time.  Don’t sell yourself short.  The New Moon is waiting for your voice to speak out with your deepest desires and your wildest dreams.  It is time to be in harmony with the frequency between the moon and earth and you.  The power and energy of this new moon can be accessed for a few days. I suggest, you be sincere, open minded, and humble. Gather your thoughts and create your ceremony, feel free to use a drum or rattles or ask your friends to join you. Trust your heart and move gracefully forward.

Not Just Any Old Full Moon, it is a Super Blood Wolf Full Moon

I’ve been doing some google surfing today on the topic of Super Blood Wolf Full Moon. Mostly, scientific jargon about why and how this natural phenomena occurs.  Then, there are those who believe, with no scientific proof that the Super Blood Wolf Full Moon is a symbol that we are all horrible people and bad things are going to happen to us.  And on the uphill side there are the astrological studies of planetary alignments, star constellations and how it relates to us.

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First of all, I am not a scientist, nor a believer in a punishing god, nor am I an educated astrologer.  I’m warning you, you may want to stop reading at this very moment before you get into my head too deeply.  I do have something to say about this January 2019, Super Blood Wolf Full Moon, if you are interested, read on.

The power that lives in each human being is their voice, words, thoughts, and their ability to speak out.  In my way of thinking, our voices command dominion around the world.  It doesn’t matter what language we speak, it does matter what we choose to say.  Every word that travels out of our mouths propels across the wind and we are projecting those words into motion.  

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In my many years on this planet, I have learned to be still, think before I speak.  Otherwise, I may end up saying something I didn’t really mean, or something that might hurt another being.  Being still and thinking before I speak has become what I have grown to call, “my practice”.  Practice means I’m working on it, I may not have it completely handled, and I am following my guidelines, catching myself in the acts of treason, and doing better.  Like Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better you do better.”

When I heard the word on the street was Sunday, January 20, 2019 Full Moon, not just any old Full Moon but a Lunar Eclipse called Super Blood Wolf Full Moon.  Boy howdy, I’m looking that one up, out of my comfort zone, for sure.  Then, coming from my earth based, Indigenous culture, I’m thinking, “This is a power time, a ceremonial moment, an opportunity to invoke the ancient ones, oldest of old ancestors to create some good conjuring.”  

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I was taught that when there is some natural power, like a tree being struck by lightening or a full-rainbow appearing in a dark sky, we could step into a ceremonial purpose anytime during the four days surrounding the power’s presence. 

My proposal for those of you who followed this blog to end.  1. Clear a space of time and location for you to either gather a couple of friends or its okay to do this alone.  Use a little smoke, like sage, cedar, sweetgrass and/or Palo Santo and cleanse yourself and the past from your sacred space.  2. Be specific in your language and speak out loud from your heart of hearts as many intentions/affirmations you want to say in the most positive voice you have.  3. If you have a drum or rattle or other noise maker – use those instruments to carry your hearts intentions into the Super Blood Wolf Full Moon.  And yes, this is a brilliant time to howl if you are so called to do so.  If you are quietly watching this powerful moon, you could hear me howling on the wind.

The conditions for deep and meaningful friendship by Heather Plett

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I remember the day clearly. I don’t remember the date, but it must have been a warm summer day, because I was wearing my favourite turquoise summer dress.

I was walking home from church pushing a double stroller with a toddler and infant inside. I was glad that my children couldn’t see me because I was crying.

I was lonely. I’d just been to a new church because I was seeking some form of community, but it hadn’t happened that morning. I’d had to spend the whole service in the nursery caring for my children and there had been no opportunities to make the kind of connections I was craving. I’d slipped out of church when nobody came to speak with me after the service. I was feeling too insecure and overwhelmed to reach out to them, so when they didn’t come to me, I left.

That was the loneliest period of my life. With two small children and a full-time job, I had little time for a social life. Most of the friends I’d had before children were either busy with their own children or were childless and didn’t understand my new reality. At work, I’d moved into a management position, so didn’t feel as welcome in the lunchroom conversations as I once was.

More than anything, though, I felt like I no longer knew HOW to make friends. I’ve always been better at deep connections than small-talk, so the brief conversations with other parents at the playground did little to feed my hunger. At work I wasn’t making deep enough connections either, because the further I moved up in management, the more it seemed that people were guarded and not interested in really knowing each other. 

This week, I thought back to that young woman crying on the sidewalk, walking her children home, and I teared up at the memory. How lost and lonely she was! How much she craved depth and meaning and friendship! 

I’m not that young woman anymore. This past week, as I traveled from Portland to Ashland to L.A. to Reno, connecting with some of my closest friends and sparking new friendships along the way, I realized just how far I’ve come since that moment. I now have an abundance of deep friendships, both at home and in places as far away as Australia. In fact, I’ve built a business on deep conversations and holding space, and so the very things I once craved are the things that are now the core of my work.

That’s how it works, sometimes, and that’s why I don’t regret those lonely moments. I wouldn’t know just how beautiful this life is if I’d never glimpsed the opposite. And I wouldn’t be able to relate to my clients if I’d never known loneliness or loss or disconnection. Those moments in the liminal space helped to shape me and teach me and prepare me for this work. 

Last week, I was in Reno for a few days, connecting with my dear friends Lorraine and TuBears, who I met five years ago at Lake Tahoe at the annual gathering for Gather the Women. While I was there, we had such a beautiful connection, that we decided to share one of our conversations with you. In the video, we talked about what kind of conditions help to create the kind of trust and depth we enjoy in our relationship.

Since then, I’ve been thinking more about those conditions for deep and meaningful friendships. Here’s what I came up with:

1.) Do your own work. Though meaningful friendships can and should help support growth, you can’t rely on friends to do your inner work for you. Showing up with too much neediness and not enough sense of your own responsibility to work through your weakness, jealousy, anger, fear, etc. will either destroy the friendship or make it so lopsided it won’t hold the kind of depth you crave.

2.) Let your friends do their own work. Just as you can’t rely on a friend to do your work, you can’t do theirs either. Let them take responsibility for their hang-ups, mistakes, and emotions. And when they’re feeling lost, walk beside them and offer a light to illuminate the path, but don’t take responsibility for their journey.

3.) Take chances. Deep friendships are built on trust and you can’t build trust if you don’t take some risks, share some secrets, and open your heart just a little more than what feels safe. This doesn’t happen all at once, but as you build trust, keep offering a little more of yourself so that your friend can help hold what you might not share with other people.

4.) Be trustworthy. Guard your friend’s secrets, show up when you say you’re going to show up, and apologize when you mess up. Be the kind of person they can trust, who’s dependable and faithful. And take responsibility for it when you fail so that you can begin to rebuild the trust. 

5.) Be an advocate and an ally. Sometimes friendship is about standing up for each other or at least standing alongside each other when there are forces working against you. If your friend faces discrimination that you don’t face, learn to be the kind of ally that they most need and want (that may look different for each person). If they face abuse and are having trouble standing up for themselves, find ways of advocating for them without taking their power away.

6.) Be open to change. Friends change us and we change them. When a relationship grows, it creates the possibility for something new in each person and in the space in between – the “we space”. Be willing to learn from the other person and from the places and ideas that you explore together. Don’t cling to an old identity – evolve along with the relationship.

7.) Support each other’s greatness. The best kind of friends are those who aren’t intimidated by someone’s success or strength. There might be moments of jealousy now and then, and the sense that you’ve been left behind (we’re all human, after all), but don’t let that get in the way of your friendship. Don’t assume that they don’t need you anymore, because the truth is that they probably need you MORE. Success can feel like a surprisingly scary and lonely place sometimes. Be there for them through the success AND the failure and trust that they’ll be there for you too.

8.) Pay attention to what they need and be honest about what you need. Friendship is symbiotic and reciprocal. It’s not transactional (ie. I give you something and then you owe me something in return) – it’s an ebb and flow of meeting whosever needs are most relevant in the moment, with as much balance as possible. When trust is built, you can be more honest about what your needs are and when you think those aren’t being met, and you can receive the honesty of your friend in the same way.

9.) Respect their boundaries and communicate your own. In a friendship, there is usually some unspoken agreement about what is acceptable and unacceptable. It can be helpful to speak it out loud so that all involved have clarity and know how best to respect each other. If, for example, you have a family commitment on Sundays that means you aren’t available to your friends, let them know that Sundays are off limits and expect them to respect those limits. Or if you don’t like receiving text messages after 10 p.m., say so and then don’t respond to their late night texts. And if your friend communicates similar boundaries, don’t make fun of them or push past them – respect them.

10.) Don’t run away from conflict. At some point in every friendship, conflict bubbles to the surface. Instead of running away, try to see it as an opportunity to deepen your friendship. The deepest friendships are those that weather a few storms, so step into the conflict and see what it has to teach you. Perhaps the conflict will help you to better articulate a boundary that was inadvertently crossed. Or your friend will figure out how to talk about the trauma that was triggered unknowingly. Sometimes conflict is generative instead of destructive.

There is no perfect friendships because there are no perfect people. No matter how strong your friendship is, you may still fail or betray your friend and they may still do the same to you. And sometimes, even with lots of friends, you’ll still have lonely moments (which I have, occasionally, when I’m the only single person at a party full of couples). But regardless, life is richer when you make the effort to invest in deep and meaningful friendships. 

 

 

 

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