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! 

healing with the hank drum

Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice. from here.


playing the "hank drum" at an ecovillage

playing the “hank drum” at an ecovillage circa 2012

This is a story about a sweet little blue propane tank that was made into a “hank drum” (fashioned after the “hang drum”). Little Wren biked and biked and biked up the west coast. You see, she was searching for a new place, a new place to reside, to be. Before she’d left for her journey, she had connection with an ecovillage that held promise of what she was looking for. As she was in communication with one elder who lived there the room turned foggy/fuzzy, as if entering a different realm; she felt her heart open and knew the place must be special. She treasured it as a possibility in the back of her mind as she cycled & rhythm’d her way up hills and on flat land, all beside the ocean, along that coastline trek.

When she got there it was indeed a magical place full of heart-opening and deeper unfolding lessons. There she also met a special sprite that she did choose to spend some more days with (and is still in cahoots with to this day). A magical place it did turn out to be.

And especially because she loved to play the instruments which laid about everywhere… and sing! 

One night in particular sticks out as a big one, a big ole memory. It was full moon & things were getting sticky at the village. The relationship honeymoons had worn off & there was some stuff that needing releasing, perfect for the full moon! So three of us, it was three of us then. A girl from Quebec & my fair sprite & I, collected some instruments, made a fire among a birch stand, calling in the sev7n directions, kali ma~ for destroying & building back up again, for dark goddesses (the ones we’re usually taught to be afraid of, but really just mean death & the beginning again), for ancestors & the power of our own great hearts.

The instrument was there for sure, you betcha. We banged that thing in turn, hearing its hollow reverberating melodious sound enter into the ether & sparkle up toward the tree limbs just like the flames of the fire. Our voices collected the stuff of our hearts, all of our feelings we was feeling that was hard to say became song and healed & released itself in this way.

That night I felt fully released as I howled up to the moon at the end. I felt like a fresh fine baby with no-mind, letting words bubble up & froth forth, spilling out, received by the darkness of the night & my friends’ ears. I was a howling wolf, in company, not judging anything that snarled up from my belly.

The power of music is great for expressin’ that which we may’ve been repressin. Unedited Jam Sessions.

Fresh belly baby birthed in jovial space sacred spaces created by us, graced by our own two feet. Stomping, swinging, standing, sittin’ round that great fire; we are lost & found & birthed anew from the flames & smoke amid our breaths, reverberation of vocal chord collects to form our healing vibrations. Sad, lost, lonely, angry, mean & frustrated finds voice around the fire -without judgment- and in this speaking is released. And what is left is what was always there, but was maybe covered-up by politeness or a holding-in. But we gotta let that stuff out otherwise it may eat us from the inside. 

Let it out in art or song. Let it out your whole life long. Let it out from morn til night – there’s no reason to hold it in tight. Let your mind stop judging it “right from wrong”… you’ve got feelings to feel ~ Let this be your song. And don’t judge it yourself. Nothing’s right or wrong, save we say it is. Clear our your heart; free your body from the not-expressin’ ~ Let yourself say what you’ve been repressin’

And in that dark night lit by bright moonlight, I found the release of so much time & energy built up. Wiggling free with nothing left to say; I was emptied. By art & song & friends, the space we created with the “hank drum” , our voices, a drum & tambourine, didgeridoo ~ music can be a portal for expression, if you let it. If we let it. It can. 

knowing the hidden things

thanks for the inspiration, daily post!

We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s twist: Write this post in a distinct style from your own.


knowing too much. hearing your (thoughts). hi, nice to meet you. (well aren’t you sure hot, i’d love to bang you.) stammers, hey, how you doin’? … and then the time came when the risk was greater to remain in the bud … than to bloom. can i hear people’s (thoughts)? whose (thoughts) are they, mine or yours? a rising between us? fodder for healing?
(I feel like she is disrespecting me, but I won’t say anything; I’ll just keep smiling.)
Yeah, good to see you! (Boy, I really want to get out of here; this conversation is boring!) 
(I really hate myself! God, I am so ugly & imperfect.)
for some time now I’ve been questioning what the voices were in my head. when i’d get around someone old or someone new, new thoughts would enter my brain. thoughts i usually don’t have when i’m alone. is an extra sensory perception growing from within me? i’m afraid of knowing everyone’s thoughts. some, i just plain don’t want to know!
fear. lust. anger. jealousy. lying. cheating. hiding. thoughts of mal-intent faked by a smile. thoughts of inadequacy. thoughts of difference, otherness & being “better than”. Sex sex sex sex. fear. lying. rage. tumult. opinion. greed. the desire to know. nervousness. bigotry. judgment.
and also
love. joy. acceptance. gratitude. greatness of being. generosity. kindness. beneficial intention. dreams. beauty. love love love love….
i hear all of these things. i can sense your thoughts/feelings, and i am still growing into this perception. no, it’s not a “worst fear”, but the newness of coming into this perception is scary and brings up feelings of fear in my body. i can witness the fear as it moves through in big trembling winds. and passes. as the fear passes, as it always does, and i remain, cultivating love, breathing & growing in understanding of this growing perception. hell, it’s even scary to write about this; to disclose this. but it’s okay. i can learn how to use this in the best way. in fact, i already know how – i’m relearning how to best use my powers. and this one: knowing the hidden things. and treating them with care. myself with care. & with love.

a fresh wind moves in: letting go of the angst

Today as i walked the loop by my parent’s house it was palpably a different experience for me. We moved into this house from a fish-bowl neighborhood, where everyone is competing with each other & can literally see into each other’s homes to know what they’re competing on. One of my friends growing up – her dad was a basketball star on our state’s NBA team & i used to play in the lake, others were my wild soccer team members (lots of stories to share about that!), and others were children with lame mothers who didn’t enjoy it when i would invite their daughters to play in the ice with me- so what if our feet got caught as we tromped around the icy stream beds? we were on an adventure! but i digress..

We moved here and it was spacious & surrounded by farm fields and the occasional farm house (which pretty soon got torn down as little box neighborhoods, as i call them, were popping up in their place). Good bye corn & soybeans, Hello plastic siding & same-looking boxes with same landscaping for people to live in! Everyone gets their little mortgaged square of bland, colorless earth around here. At the time, i was a very active young one – playing sports in every season, hanging out with friends, making out with my boyfriends in the basement. It was a time i look back on as being so outwardly-focused. But sometimes in my room, especially at night, i would feel this hungering ache. I would write poetry to my boyfriends or write in my journal to God. I read Edna St Vincent Millay. I wondered what it would be like to live an artist’s life and i hungered. It was a hungering ache i didn’t understand & it made me feel very very alone & misunderstood. While on the outside, perhaps everyone would’ve said, well, that girl had such a great, well-liked high school situation – and, in so many ways they were right – but there was so much uncharted territory, so much of myself, left unaddressed and, well, neglected. The plastic siding & homogeneity only made it worse.

They tore down the farmhouse i could see from my bedroom window – and the one across the street too, where my sister & i would dare one another to sneak into the old, falling-apart, creaky barn & where i got the then-wild asparagus & transplanted it into the garden. The neighborhood seemed to magnify this ache that i had. The homogeneity was excruciatingly painful. I saw it as a place with no character. Without soul. Filled with slaves disguised as people who take out mortgages & listen to everything the local news says. A place where people live in fear & do not think for themselves.

My inner life was relatively untapped while in high school. My inner learnings were to unleash themselves/i was to open up a few years later as i faced certain struggles like death, injury, desire & ways of life different than the ones i’d known growing up. Since this homogenous neighborhood experience & many seekings of character, art, ingenuity, individuality & ram-shackledness later, i am pleasantly surprised today as i go on an evening walk and feel peace as i look around at the surroundings, the plastic siding, the boxes, the manicured lawns.

Suddenly, my judgment or perspective of the place was not holding me back from enjoying my little moment in nature, my walk on the concrete loop in the subdivision’s flood plane turned into nature trail (i’m sure you’ve seen one of these places – a little forest, prairie, wetland nook in an area unbuildable for homes within a subdivision). The prevalence of non-native, “invasive” species didn’t bother me. The cotton woods were beautiful, as were the red-breasted black birds and the shrubby legumes were so prevalent & taking back that landscape, fixing nitrogen into it, so well! The sky had just rained & big grey billowing clouds were still turning above me. I felt like a witch as i harmonized with my surroundings, taking step by step, recollecting & embodying the walking meditation i had taken part in the week before at the prison meditation. Perhaps it was seeing some of the horrible natural devastation in Peru just a few months prior that gave me this perspective. The clear-cutting of the amazingly diverse amazonian rainforests into vast deserted land. The pollution near rivers & in cities. Perhaps it was this perspective which more easily allowed me to “let-go” of my previous hold on hating & judging & disdaining this young adult habitat of mine. Perhaps there’s something in this week’s astrology (I think so), which eased this transition for me. Or perhaps, this wound has finally dislodged in a deeper way within me & i have found peace here from within my earlier surroundings which beckoned so much pain, angst & aching. So many questions. So many existential crises.

And today on the walk, they felt transcendentally resolved. I felt finished with them. I was there, in this same place i have been so many times before, in so many moods and i felt … peace. simply put … peace. And that release brought happiness and gratitude.

Writing Inspiration & Being a Human

“I have a pile of spiral notebooks about five feet high that begin around 1977, my early years of writing in Taos, New Mexico. I want to throw them out- who can bear to look at the junk of our own minds that comes out in writing practice? I have a friend in New Mexico who makes solar houses out of beer cans and old tires. I think I will try to build one out of discarded spiral notebooks. A friend who lives upstairs says, “Don’t get rid of them.” I tell her she can have them if she wants.

I pile them up on her stairs leading up to her apartment and leave for Norfolk, Nebraska, for four days to do a writing workshop. When I return she looks at me oddly, plunks herself down in the old pink chair in my bedroom: “I’ve been reading your notebooks all weekend. They are so intimate; so scared, insecure for pages, then suddenly they are not you- just raw energy and wild mind. And now here you are – Natalie- in the flesh, just a person. It feels so funny.” I feel good because I don’t care that she sees how I really am. I’m glad. I want someone to know me. We walk through so many myths of each other and ourselves; we are so thankful when someone sees us for who we are and accepts us.

She said it was empowering to read my notebooks because she realized that I really did write “shit,” sometimes for whole notebooks. Often I tell my students, “Listen, I write and still write terrible self-pitying stuff for page after page.” They don’t believe me. Reading my notebooks is living proof of that. My upstairs neighbor said, “If you could write the junk you did then and write the stuff you do now, I realize I can do anything. There’s so much power in the mind. I feel like who knows that I can do!” She said that main thing she saw in the notebooks- whole notebooks of complaints, boring description, and flagrant anger- was an absolute trust in the process. “I saw that you kept on writing even when you wrote, ‘I must be nuts to do this.'”

From Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones

Writing as Healing: Life’s Lesson in the Death of My Grandmother

Why, when I sit down without an intention do I often start to write about my grandmother? Why, when sitting before an indigenous shaman in Peru does she tell me that my grandmother’s spirit is sitting beside me, that she looks sad & that in order for me to move on in my life, I’ll need to heal the relationship, to release her? Why is the relationship unhealed and, if this is true, how can I heal it? I asked the shaman that night, Why is she sad? How can I heal it? And she told me to love my grandmother. To talk to her & listen. I’ve tried praying to and talking to her. Listening. Sending her love. I think she’s getting it. But what’s the next step?

My grandmother had finished a story shortly before she unexpectedly died one weekend with a carrot in her hand sitting in her favorite chair. Sudden death, they say. We didn’t do an autopsy. She’d already had cancer twice plus lived with diabetes. She’s dead, my family decided, we don’t need to know how or why. One of her best friends, Sylvia, whom I’d met a couple months prior, told my mom at the funeral that she thought my grandmother passed on because she had felt like her life was complete after I’d been living with her for 3 months. She’d really enjoyed that time with her granddaughter, she said. Sylvia thought she’d felt fulfilled and that’s why she passed on. But the story I found written by my grandmother wasn’t a story of fulfillment. Not to me. I read it shortly after her death, finding it in her documents on her computer. And the conversation we had the week before she died certainly didn’t speak of ultimate completeness, as Sylvia supposed. No, a week before she died, my grandmother and I had had a talk about things she still wanted to do before she died.

We sat in her front room library with the looming bookshelves & wood-panneled walls. The same living room I played in as a baby. The same living room I walked into each day as I returned from university to find her sometimes sitting on the couch watching soap operas, QVC or odd news channels. It was evening and we were having a deep talk, which shouldn’t be surprising given both my grandmother and I are deep-thinkers, but it was rare for us, nevertheless. She told me how she wanted to go sky-diving, maybe travel more, and smoke marijuana, which gave me quite a laugh. Being raised in a conservative, Christian environment and being a elite athlete up to that point, I hadn’t smoked marijuana either, though many of my friends did, so I promised to get us some so that we could smoke for the first time together. Grandmother & Granddaughter, meet Marijuana. Perfect scenario for my coming-of-age-rebellion, finally.

But she didn’t last long enough for me to secure some pot & bring it home to share in that same wood-paneled room. She died suddenly that weekend. And I was heartbroken. My life felt ripped from within. For the first time in my life, I knew loss. I remember going into the bathroom still smelling her, mesmerized by her night-shirt & towel still hanging on the shower rod. It would all soon be washed. The leftovers in the fridge all soon tossed. As I wrote that day,

pretty soon your towel will be removed from the shower curtain, the clothes you folded for me will be worn, your leftovers from Saturday (the pasta that made you so happy) will be in the trash. in fact, your grandma smell is already gone. your dentures are gone, your food will be eaten and junk mail will accumulate in your inbox. life is growing fast over you like a wilting flower in an overgrown wood. your memory lingers, but we all know it will get choked out in time. thank you for your life. you have left fingerprints of love on our hearts.

It was all too much and I had finals that week. My pseudo-boyfriend at the time, kind-hearted soul that he is, came down, basically took a week off from school (impossible feat in finals time, yet he did) and laid in bed with me. I had never known depression before. I had never known an off-beat or a low moment. But that was all to change after this.

I began to question life deeply. A growing existential dilemma had been rising within me since entering college and being inundated with lifestyles unfamiliar to me. I began to question why I did the things I did. Why go to church? Why listen to the social code and keep my hair a certain way? Why not date women, smoke marijuana, eat mushrooms, dress how I wanted? The list goes on and somehow my grandmother’s death would be the catalyst to push me into jumping off the precipice of the known, of my safe & standard life, into the gorge of chaos.

Looking back, I should have gotten out of the house. My mom offered to help me pay rent elsewhere, but I insisted on saving money so I stayed there and got a few roommates. Slowly we cleaned out the closets. Found hoards of QVC jewelry, purses, hand gloves, much of it never worn. I smoked marijuana & made weed tea and was stoned for an entire weekend in her home. Convening with my grandmother’s spirit- we were going to try weed for the first time together- I would say for years afterward. I was going through a hard time and mostly did so in the privacy of my own mind. It was rough- feeling all of the existential questions ramble & roar at me as the foundations of my life as I’d known it up to that point crumbled and fell down. Truly the questions I came here with as a young soul came to the fore, full-bore- Why are we here? Who am I? Who made God? What is going on here?

I wondered why my grandmother had left me. Why no one else seemed to be puzzled over these questions as I was- haunted by them, even. Why everyone was just going on with life- humpty dum, living so superficially & unquestioningly, I thought at the time. I read a lot of Kafka, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov… I studied philosophy and talked about it with nary a soul. I wrote a private journal and pined.

Well, I eventually pined. In the beginning, as was the custom in my family, I pushed the grief of her death aside. I went on with my life. I pushed myself to do the things I had signed up to do. A new semester started and I was taking part in an Adventure Leadership Training with 18 other students. Looking back, I should’ve gotten help. I should’ve talked with someone, expressed my pain & questions. But I didn’t. I charged ahead and eventually worked them out on my own and with friends over time as I gently opened up through the years.

This was one of the most challenging times in my life. I remember feeling so alone. I was grieving and I gave myself no space for it. I was grieving and I didn’t even know the word. I wrote,

This death and emotional fragility, all this baggage makes me want to cry out for truth or else not talk at all. It makes me want to be a saint or else drink too much and fuck. 
It’s hard to say what exactly I am feeling. 
I haven’t talked about it; I haven’t told myself.
I want time and silence to heal me, along with wandering and mountains.

It’s cathartic now as I write. I have talked about this with a lot of people, but I haven’t written about it full-swoop as I am doing now. I haven’t dug in and really faced it as I am doing now.

I still remember when I got the call from my mother. I was in the library, looking for a book for research, high up on the 9th floor when I got the call. My mom called, I answered, whispering hello into the line as softly as I could. When all I got back was silence and the struggling voice eking out from my mother on the other end, I knew something was wrong. What’s wrong, Mom, is everything ok? I stammered, increasingly getting worried. Mom’s dead, is all she said on the other line. I started shrieking in the library. My mom said, We’re all coming to the house now. We’ll be there in 45 minutes. Are you okay? I told her I’d be fine. We hung up and I felt like I was in a bleary dream.

It was winter, December in Indiana and the snows had just begun. I was about an hour’s walk from the house, so I started walking instead of taking the bus. I was shocked and confused and numbed. I don’t remember walking home. I remember sobbing, dazed, as I meandered the streets to the south side of town to my grandmother’s house. I remember getting there into that front wood-paneled room where my mom and dad, sister and aunt and uncle were sitting. I remember everyone staring at me silently, first waiting for some sign from me on how to act. They knew I would be taking it hard- but how hard? She was living with her at the time, they must’ve all been thinking. Everyone was sobbing or stone-faced and my mom enveloped me.

I don’t remember many details of that time. I just remember my disbelief. The sunken feeling that something was lost that I didn’t expect to be and I couldn’t get it back. I couldn’t have her back to tell her how much I loved her. To have the conversations I really wished I could have with her. To smoke MJ or go sky-diving, or watch each other grow more over the next few years. She was one of my greatest encouragers. She was maybe my main soul-mate in the family, understanding me deeply with even one look. What was I to do without her? What was I to do without her?

My grandmother was a daring woman. A woman of courage, keen insight, a soft, warming presence complemented with a jovial chuckle and wily sense of humor. She hugged me too tight and long as I child; I always thought I would suffocate. She had sharp, long claws that she would pinch my arm with and scratch me and laugh. She cared about justice and had an open mind. She faced a lot of pain early in her life and had health issues throughout which she also dealt with squarely. She was intelligent and hard-working, and, though I gather that she wasn’t the most nurturing or communicative of mothers at times, I know she did her best for her family.

While I lived with her, we went over some of the special moments from her life. She was an editor for a technology magazine, having gone back to school later in life to fulfill one of her personal dreams. She got to interview Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, One of the Kennedy’s and many more, though I can’t remember them now. She loved literature and corresponded with Thomas Wolfe, one of her favorite authors. After she died, we found a letter to her from him stating that he didn’t think his career would’ve been the same without their correspondence.

As I said, she was a sharp, smart lady and an astute encourager. She knew brilliance and would rave about intelligent things she had picked up. I feel sad that she lived most of her later life alone. My grandfather, her husband, who I never met, ran around town with young women and my grandma was one of the last to know. I think this wounded her greatly and she never really had any other romances or close, intimate relationships after they divorced and he died. It must’ve torn her up to be betrayed and lied to. I can only imagine. I feel for my grandmother in this regard, and when I recently read the short story she had written and saved on her hard drive some time before her unbidden death, I had a wider perspective on what she might’ve experienced as a cloistered, unfulfilled woman in the mid-century.

The story (attached below: Ruth & Harold) was all about the bland & repetitive existence of a housewife with a disconnected & drab, yet faithful husband. The story delves into the housewife’s un-lived fantasies, how she feels essentially unknown and ignored by her husband. In the end, she kills herself in the bathtub after paying all the bills 3 months out, cleaning the entire house and writing a telling note to her husband with directions he should follow in his life & her reasons for leaving. She was unfilled and unseen, plain and simple. When I read that, I felt like fighting for my grandmother. If she was here, I would’ve demanded that she stand up and seek out a better life for herself.

Over time, I’ve realized that in many ways my grandmother did seek out better ways of life for herself and that perhaps she just didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to address this one. It has certainly given me fuel to make sure that I don’t end up this way, feeling ultimately unheard, unsatisfied and unnoticed in my relationships. Per usual, the mistakes (for lack of a better word) of our ancestors can lead us forward into choosing better lives for ourselves.

When the Shaman-lady in Peru told me that my grandmother was very sad and that I needed to heal it, I didn’t know what to do, but I knew immediately that it was true. There is a deep sadness in the life that has things left undone in it. There is great sadness if a person even metaphorically (through a story) kills herself because she has never been seen, gotten to live out certain fantasies, hasn’t truly related to a person and been known for the beautiful, amazing, multi-dimensional soul that she is. My grandmother deserved this! Just as we all do. In some way, me living my life well, as best as I can, is an offering of hope, of healing that in some way my grandmother’s life is redeemed. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do, but it seems to have happened naturally in the process of responding to my grandmother’s life/death, using it as a catalyst for greater life & growth in my own life.

My grandmother did not die in vain. She may have left before we were all ready for her to go, but her life leaves a legacy for me in so many ways. She loves me greatly and this empowers me. I also know that I might not have stepped out on a limb in my life so early and so fiercely if I wasn’t propelled by her timely death and the talk we had a week before she died.  Writing this now, I feel how my grandmother’s life pressed upon my own. She touched my life, as the saying goes, whether or not she intended to in this way.

Her life, in its entirety, created a foundation early in mine that I would not live hidden, wounded, unsatisfied or waiting. Something within her death handed me the keys of release from the cage of the social code, of playing it safe. She unlocked the huge container of What if that I had collected already in my lifetime. Now it is time for me to move on. Ultimately, I must move on because, even though I am influenced greatly by my grandmother and her life, I must live my own life. Her life & death has run its course through me like a storm- at times silent, at times rambunctious, but certainly changing things: ripping out old growth, shedding light and watering new life. If we are really here as souls having a human experience, which I believe we are, what an important thing for my grandmother to have done for me- Effectively, she pushed me past the bullshit of What will others think into my very own soul path.

Her death ripped away the illusory facade of life and made me get to the core of my life early, before doing 30 years in the “work-force” and having a family. I had an expedited life-crisis due to her death. Had to go through hell at the time, yet looking through it all, I’m so thankful I’ve put this work at the forefront of my life. I am a cleaner, purer me than before her death. I am aligned with my life and I know the tools to implement, the steps to take if I get off-course in some way. My grandmother’s passing on gave me the right to pass on so many of the short-changing ruts of the human experience. She lit a fire under my butt that said, Don’t wait! Deal with your shit! Live! Become! Try! Her words echo in Mary Olivers poem, The Summer Day:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


It might’ve felt to me that my grandmother left us all too soon. That I’d like to talk with her now, tell her about all my adventures, tell her how I have lived and loved and tried desperately to learn from the lesson of her death and that I have succeeded. Some people teach us their greatest lessons in their leaving. This is the way my grandmother taught me. Her lesson for me reverberates in all eternity. And I am thankful for her soul and pray for its peace & release.

Love you Grandma….Gram….

Mardell Jefferson Raney, younger years

Mardell Jefferson Raney, younger years

Gram n Me readin'

Gram n Me readin’

Gram with my sister, Erin

Gram with my sister, Erin

Ruth and Harold, the story I found in my grandmother’s files. I realize it’s graphic, but I feel it’s a common sentiment from her generation of women and I’d like to share it. So that, in some way, her words and pain and feelings are known, released & composted so that only beauty remains. Because, ultimately, I believe that the telling of our stories can bring peace & healing.

in yer belly i heard a song

universe swirling in your belly

they all come they all come

all the ideas about ourselves to prop us up in different times
they all come they all come

then the universe swirls swirls in yer belly
a fire a fire sits kindle burn yeeep dee woooo

a fire a fire sits and you know its true
you are you and more than you
you are you and more than you

boundaries of “crazy” all fall down
when universe swirls in yer belly
it all becomes true when they all fall down
and the plain truth in front of yer nose
is no longer hiding

yip yip yip yip yoooooooo
are the universe
when it swims and swirls and flames and fuegos
in yer belly in yer belly
when all yer yous all come down