Day 4: walking in the green, amid the clapping leaves

“Choose a color- for instance, pink- and take a fifteen minute walk. On your walk notice wherever there is pink. Come back to your notebook and write for fifteen minutes.” from Day 4, prompt by Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones.

it is summertime and i chose green. can you imagine the amount of my fixation as i walked on the wooded path outside the house? loops and lulls around bends and through thickets, black raspberries, blooms of milkweed, a light blue sky filled with puffball clouds. i walk this path nearly everyday. i remember when they built it. from this patch of wild earth i found some of the first herbs i ever worked with. one was called pearly everlasting or rabbit tobacco. it has a sweet soft smell and a bit like warm butterscotch. i mixed some of that with mugwort and made a dream pillow. mugwort is a magical herb in one of its uses and the pearly everlasting has a calming effect; the two were quite a pair. i loved sleeping with that pillow, except when it kept me up at night because of its dream-stimulating strength. i found that my dreams were brighter, more vivid, detailed and frequent in those times after sleeping with the pillow. it was a great boost to my imagination and forging connection with the dreamtime.

every time i walk by that field, i notice that the rabbit’s tobacco is no longer there. black raspberries fill its place, along with tall grasses, cottonwoods, yellow field clover, to name a few. the rabbit tobacco is gone, but the field and surrounding forests are succeeding. they are moving to the next phase of their ecosystem growth. i’m happy to see many people take walks there.

so the green was everywhere. where was there not green? every shade of green was represented today and i felt acutely the way spending time in nature calms and simultaneously energizes me. as i stepped out of my mind and more into my body, i felt joyous, more joyous with each step. i started to become more present in my surroundings. i ate a berry and felt great thanks and excitement at this wild gift. i walked along amazed at all of the green. maples merging with japanese honeysuckle; mulberry and cottonwood. yet it was the cottonwood, of all the greens of the day, that stood out to me the most. but it wasn’t because of its green, you see. it’s because the cottonwood was clapping at me.

i am not a person to walk the same route over and over again; i make a habit of mixing it up. if i start the path one way, notoriously i must walk back another way, even if that means scrambling through briars or tip toeing around poison ivy. as i started to walk in the other direction, a huge rush of wind came past me and lit up the nearby cotton wood tree. with their fancy oval leaves all banging against one another, it made a sandpapery sound, like when you rub two hands together to make the sound of rain. they clapped and waved at me and made me feel so welcome there. it was truly a lovely experience and i felt thankful and glad.

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a softening

Among the people you’ve known for a long time, who is the person who’s changed the most over the years? Was the change for the better?

people at my age just dig in further. they get more intense in a certain thing, like entrenched, which sounds terrible.

so i’d have to say it’s either you or your sister.

she goes on to talk about my sister. and her softening.

i was really saddened by her harshness. i didn’t want her to turn into this bitter person who was so controlling. cuz she’s a worrier, she really is.

i’m so glad to see her soften.

how do you think she softened?

her relationship with her husband. 


 

i asked my mom this question, as she was sitting here near me on this saturday morning, and i didn’t really have anyone come into my mind. my sister was a feisty child. at around age 8 she had a life threatening asthma attack. she almost died & was in intensive care for 2 weeks. my parents were there around the clock. people everywhere were praying for her. my family still gets emotional when it gets brought up. after that, my sister changed from a soft spoken yet strong willed princess to a sick child. she started to take tons of medicine all of the time. this defined her, as did her constant headaches & other ouchies that only grew with the years. it continued this way until she got into college and met the person she ultimately married. as my mom said, this softened her. she’s more willing to step out into the unknown with her partner. sometimes relationships can do that for people; create a sense of safety that allows them to step outside of their boxes of fear and perhaps bitterness. i’m glad to see my sister more willing to hike, play outside, explore in caves again. for so many years, the sicknesses defined her and kept her cloistered.


 

Also, in celebration of my 200th post, I’m doing 15 Days of Writing Prompts from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Join me and others for Day 2: found here. 

a seed planted birthing surprising factors

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

He was doing an experiment. At that age, I’d only seen “crazy professor” types like him in movies and on tv. But here he was, enjoying a revelry at our mountain retreat center. Wild white hair standing on end and all. Pants pulled up high and shirt tucked in and all. He was the mad professor of the mountain and he had some questions for us.

He’d corner us in the dining hall with a tape player in hand. There was something calming about his presence in his quirkiness, something that met the quirkiness in me, the two canceling each other out lending us both some peace for a time. My one friend, Que loved him. She was boisterous and loud, always telling stories. I liked to listen to him, taking in the crazy machinations of his mind. 

He carried the tape player so that he could record us. Hanging out in high density areas, he was doing an experiment, he said. I want to know how many of you hate the sound of your own voice. At the time Que was the only one at the mountain retreat who purred with glee as the resonance of her own vocal chords played back into her ears. The rest of us fed into his story: hardly anyone likes to hear their own voice. 

Since he did that experiment on us all those years ago, I’ve thought about his story, that rarely anyone can stand to hear their own voice. I’ve made it a point to love myself and, in that, to accept my voice played back at me. Now I sing to myself, at bus stops, near streams in mountains, when I’m lulling around the backyard. I can sufficiently say, I love the sound of my own voice

 

the mood for today: a soft breeze at the back door

If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?

a soft breeze enters through the back door. you’ve been outside all day & the skin of your soles is covered with dirt. it is black and the hairs on your ankles are covered with dirt too after getting sweaty and attracting particulates that’ve gotten stuck. the gentle breeze caresses your chin; you feel its smooth demeanor on your lips. this wind feels like a kiss. and you, with your black-bottomed feet, hairy ankles and wind-kissed lips are a girl who does not shave, you are a person who believes in dirt, you are a person making love with life, a person who lets life have its way with you. you can have this mood any time that you want. you are alive & present to the earth. you are the earth & you know this in your bones, feel it coursing through your veins, celebrate it with your mind & heart. you are a child of the earth and your every cell knows this as true.

The Mysterious House “out beyond the blue”

Prompt: You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?

The air is cool. The boys, all 8 of them, have finished the work for today. Fireflies dance as the sun bows solemnly behind the firs & pines. It is mid-summer and I’ve hired these 8 as a part of a team to restore this lovely gem of a house which is actually a mystery in itself. The house, I mean. You see, one day as I was living in my house in town, I received a knock on the door. When I came to the door all that was left of the knocker was a note, still floating to the ground, suspended as if in time and in mid-air. I swiped the note and put it under my spectacled gaze.

There’s a house for you, out beyond the blue, in the yonder. 100 years old. Crumbling with mold, yet full of grandeur. This house is full of ‘maze & merriment & glee. There’s a house for you, out beyond the blue, if only you believe.

What a cryptic and fandangled message! What the hell is that supposed to mean? I thought as I read and re-read the strange note left at my stoop. Yet, being a terminally curious and adventurous person, I went out “beyond the blue” – whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. I figured it meant out past the edge of town, and I was right – it did. I took the note with me and brought along my favorite side kick, 7 year old Jenny who spends the days with me as both of her parent’s work in the factories a few towns away during the summer months. Of course Jenny was the perfect person to bring along for this task. She was the best believer in the town – not needing much prompting to get excited or invested in this wild goose chase we were in.

And the strangest thing happened. As the two of us started to make our way past the last Quaker Go-To (the local food joint on the edge of town), the note started to glisten and weep, as if it was raining tears of joy. Tears started to pour into young Jenny’s hands. But she wasn’t fearful at all. She got so excited as they did so. It was as if the note had so wanted to be used that when it was finally in its purpose, it was oozing with glee. We saw this as a good sign. As suddenly as it started to cry, the note stopped and mysterious blue lines started surfacing on the paper, whose original text had actually left at this point. It was a map! The note from the  mysterious visitor actually yielded a map! This was getting stranger and stranger, but Jenny and I, the perpetual dreamers, were definitely in.

We followed the map in the most unexpected directions, using roads I hadn’t noticed before, until it led us to the house I stand at now on this cool summer’s eve. The sun has set now as I wipe my brow. You’re interested in knowing more about the house, you say, and our story? Well, that will have to wait until next time. This house is pretty magic, you know; can’t let it all out at once ;).

Signed: Fredericka Billmoore

a few things birth days mean to me

how do i celebrate my birthday? you’d like to know, wouldn’t you, daily press? often, daily press, often & well!

for starters, my birth day celebration isn’t just one day a year. i celebrate it all the time! being grateful for being here is not only relegated to my actual day of birth.

i believe our birth days are special days for our souls (many traditions believe similarly, look at astrology, for example). this year my grandmother died on my birthday. i was surprised that she chose to do that. she had a stroke maybe 14 years prior and lived in a declined state, her mind basically “gone”- not able to take care of herself for all those years after that. i felt her leaving on my birthday was symbolic of a transference of strength that she gave me. to me, it was her sayin, “wren, go on & live your life on top of my life. i gift you with my life & experience. my soul is moving on now, thank you for helping me to do so more clearly.” (you see, i’d lived with her for the past year or so & prayed for her soul to find peace & healing – i believe she has.)

actual birth days can be sad if you’re alone on your birth day. i had one of those last year. i was travelin’ and wound up alone on my birthday. some friends i was staying with that day took me out for a sweet indian meal (one of my favorite classes of food! mmmm spices, mmm nan paneer!!!!) & it was really sweet of them, but i missed my beloved who joined me a few days later & i acutely felt the absence of having a birthday party that is attended by many close friends – that is when i felt one negative aspect of my traveler’s lifestyle!

but, as i said, i tend to celebrate my being here more than just one day a year. every time i see my birth numbers on a clock (which is often), i celebrate and feel a special whiz, i feel a special power & energy coming from those numbers. i am born on the 13th, you see, and 13 is a witchin’ number, that’s right. it is the power of the divine feminine making its way back through all of our forms! i celebrate this coming in from within my form and my very day of birth is a great reminder of this.

birth days birth daze every day a birth day! rebirth home birth stay birth full of mirth! we’re glad you’re here! you’re one in 7 billion! you’re unique, just like every else! we’re happy you’re here to share yourself! so laugh & cry, it’s all okay, you’re here, you’re here and today is your day! 

is there a way to be lost if you’re on a wandering way?

When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us all about it.
via this prompt

When was the last time I got lost? What do you mean, spirituality? Figuratively? Physically, like the other day in the car? 

 There are many ways to “get lost”. I find that my life is an exercise in finding & losing: my ideas of myself, my footing, my way, the path – however one wants to talk about it.

When I rode my bicycle from LA up the west coast, I left without maps. Now granted I had an iphone at the time and the route is pretty simple, ride up the 101 or 1 and try to keep the ocean in view. Ahhh, the ocean, that beautiful compass; that healing, expansive, terrifying mother.

Along the way people gave me maps. I still got lost. And, then, I was never really lost (in that terrible panicky, achy, horrible way); for my journey was not so much about “getting somewhere”, as it was about “enjoying the journey” and “being on it”. That was enough. 

This was the supreme gift of this trip & the lesson it still reverberates into my life: am I perceiving my path as a journey or heading toward some destination?

Taking small steps, how can I plan for anything? Is there a way to be un-lost? Or is lost only a matter when you’re trying to get somewhere? Will I wander my whole life long? Is that wrong? Or is that truly the way? How can I know the way anyway?

How easy it is to get lost in a sea of questions, and then take oneself out again with a realization that it’s all about orientation. Being lost is only possible if you think there’s somewhere else to be other than where one is right now. Spirit path always reorients & takes right where one needs to be. In time, in time; patiently.