Alternative version

This was a document called “1998 September”  Some things I recognize from a retreat with Deena Metzger in September of 1998 on Nantucket.  She gave us writing questions based on the myth of Cupid and Psyche.  Some of this I wrote during the retreat, some I added as I typed up later.  Without going back to the original hand-written notebooks (still stored in my attic) I don’t know what’s what.  I don’t think it matters.  This is looking at my life from a completely different direction.  It’s too long for a regular entry, so I’m going to make it a page, an alternate story to the original page “About Jenny.”

“What is the secret of beauty?”
and “Why do I keep being drawn to the moon?”

A circle of dancers on the playground — snow still on the mountains but warm in the sun.  A bird flies overhead.  For a moment I am wearing homespun, skirt and shawl.  I feel the earth beneath my bare feet and know that we have danced this dance on the spring equinox every year for thousands of years.

To ask a question you really don’t know the answer to — actually, I’m not sure I can even formulate the question: but it’s about why do I continue to react with pain and hatred and disconnection to the sound of the planes?  Why do I find it so invasive?  Why does it have the power — why do I give it the power — to ruin a beautiful day?  What I feel is not pain or grief or anger, all of which are alive — what I feel is the deadness of being cut off from the vital springs of my life.

Write about the state of psyche you are encountering in your life — places where you were innocent, self-absorbed, places where you offended the gods by not recognizing them.

I don’t even know where to begin — I’m thinking about that terrible shock, when I’ve been in a place of “I’m safe” or “I can handle it now” and then something comes along and shatters it.  Perhaps it’s the illusion that I can enjoy the beauty of the world without bringing into consciousness the terrible damage that humans have done and continue to do.  Complacency also to imagine that I could be truly “finished” with some important issue in my life, instead of having it continue to reappear on deeper and deeper levels.
But this doesn’t feel like a “deeper level”, if it did I could (perhaps) feel challenged by it.  Instead it feels like the same old shit, somehow being tripped up by something that is basically trivial, instead of being able to “push past it” and “get on with my life”.

The God says “No, you can’t push past this.”

I am infuriated because I can only see the trivial human activity that wrecks my connection with the sacred — how can it be real and/or worthwhile if it can be so easily broken?
If I make the airplanes trivial — they are just stupid/unconscious people trying to make a buck, they are foolish people who are able to stay unaware that what they are doing might wreck someone’s enjoyment — I get angry at myself for being so weak.  “Don’t let them bother you.” “Ignore them.” “Don’t be so sensitive.”
If I make the planes a shamanic ordeal, then am I guilty of making a mountain out of a molehill to make myself look heroic?  That’s the answer I would have used on myself not so long ago.  Now I’m not so sure.  Are the trivial everyday acts, that destroy the natural environment and kill the soul — are these not some kind of shamanic ordeal?  The planes fragment what should be whole, and my job is to re-member the beauty of nature.

[NO! The planes are no kind of nature, not a mythic force but a denial, a disappearing of the world of myth.  My job is to ENDURE.  I can re-member when the ordeal is over.]

[Deena speaks of my ordeal as “the necessity to endure the unendurable; to stay awake in conditions in which being awake is intolerable.” She says “This is crucifixion.”]

[If I try to deal with the planes in the world of the planes, in the language of the planes, healing is not possible.]

To tell the story, you have to tell the WHOLE story.  Doesn’t mean you let yourself off the hook — just look at all the factors that influence you.  Tell the story, not to understand it, but to illumine all the details.

The Story of Noise Sensitivity: All the Factors.

In 1984 — I finished writing a book
— I felt sick all the time
— I got extremely sensitive to noise
hearing the cars on the highway
hearing the rattle of the bridge on the bottom of our road
hearing the cat on my lap purr and thinking it was a chainsaw…
I was diagnosed with systemic yeast — I went on a very strict diet — no wheat, no sugar, no yeast, no vinegar…
I began to learn about alcoholic family dynamics
What I didn’t know was that I was also dealing with unbalanced brain chemistry.  I blamed myself for my “bad moods”, for being “too sensitive.”
The pain caused by the airplane noise was indescribable: my brain stopped working, I could not function in any capacity, my heart felt pierced by a blunt instrument.  I could never describe it well enough.
I imagined that if I could describe the pain well enough, the people who flew the planes would stop doing it.
I began to see the parallels with my alcoholic parents:
They are hurting me by “having fun”
They don’t want to know they are hurting me
I get blamed for being hurt: “You are too sensitive”
Seeing this does not make it any different.
I try to express my pain and anger.  I write, paint, scream, cry.  When anger starts to come, I’m sabotaged by feelings of weakness and nausea.
Nothing does any good.
Gradually, my physical health improves through diet, yoga, medication — the headaches and nausea and extreme sensitivity to noise diminish.  I’m left with the airplane phobia.  Just reading the word ‘airplane’ causes panic.  I wake on a beautiful morning and am overcome with dread.  I can no longer garden, or spend time in the woods as I did when we first moved here.  I feel sick and scared on returning “home” from a trip.
My father dies.  I feel relief.  I discover that I have most of the signs of someone who was sexually abused as a child.

This is turning out to be a very long story.

I think the phobia may connect with abuse.
I try: Neuro-Linguistic Programming, hypnosis, therapy
I try: Kripalu workshops, “Healing Traumatic Memories”
I try: body work, dream work, process work
I imagine that if I could remember what had happened I would be free of the phobia.

Journey into Courage — a theater piece written and performed by women survivors of domestic violence.  I’m supported by women while we redirect our pain into protest.  As we go our separate ways, depression and anxiety return.
I go to “National Depression Screening Day.” I fill out their questionnaire and am told that I’m in a “severe depression.” I laugh: if this is “severe depression,” I’ve been severely depressed most of my life, ha ha.  (This turns out to be true.  I couldn’t know it until my brain chemistry was normal.)

I read about anti-depressant medication, hear it can be helpful in cases of phobia, decide to try it.  I am desperate, even my life-long commitment to avoid drugs goes to the wall.
Dr. Brunette prescribes Paxil.  I go through five days of unbelievable hell before I quit taking it.  I didn’t know it was possible to feel so much fear and live.
I don’t feel depressed again, but anxiety begins to take over.

I try: continuum, retraining my hearing.

At the beginning of July I read in a newspaper that the airport has signed a new lease and are “looking forward to a bigger and better season.”

My terror goes through the roof and does not subside.  I leave the house before 10AM every day, with everything I need: supplements, food, books, journal, tapes.  I go to sanctuary at a friend’s who lives out of town, I have several of these sanctuaries.  Or else I take the dog and go to the Pemigewasset Trail. I don’t come back until it’s dark and I know that the planes have stopped.
My house never gets cleaned.
I do laundry on rainy days.
I’m sleeping less and less.  Every hour and a half I wake in terror, burning sensations in my chest and elbows.  I’m having trouble eating.
I try: acupuncture, hormones, energy work.
By the end of the summer, I’m losing my ability to cope.  My husband is afraid to leave me home for a week so I go with him to concertina school.  I spend a lot of time making colored drawings in an attempt to keep the anxiety at bay.

In desperation I go back to Dr. Brunette and beg for a prescription for tranquillizers so I can sleep.  She is very superior and tells me the depression will return.  By the end of the year I’m thinking a lot about dying.  I weigh 105 lbs.
A friend suggests I should see a new therapist.  I go to Dr. Rankin who sends me to Char for help with medication.  She recommends imipramine, and starts me on 10 mg per day.
The first sign that the drug is working is I begin to gain weight.  I start sleeping better.  The menopause symptoms disappear.  I have hours of relief from terror, and then whole days.
At the beginning of June, the planes start flying again and I’m having a hard time with the noise.  Dr. Rankin has been helping me notice what triggers my fear.
She says she sees a pattern in my reactions: if something goes wrong, I define the entire effort as “not working” when in fact the first few steps may have been fine.  This is a revelation.  I see how I can retrain myself.
I face a sunny Sunday with a sense of confidence instead of dread.  As each plane snarls past the house and I do not fall apart, I mark “one plane survived” on a piece of paper.  By the end of the day I have survived 13 planes.  The plane phobia is over.  I thought it would take months.

I discover hidden beliefs:
that I’m “not allowed” to need protection
that I’m “not allowed” to protect myself.

That summer I spend exploring a new world: I visit family, go to a dance workshop, work in the garden.  By September, I’m getting pretty tired of the constant snarling, but it’s not stopping me from doing what I want to do.
That winter, my creativity burgeons with Russian Night and Winter Solstice, “Dancing the Sacred Calendar” and the “Red Woman.”
This June I hear that the airport is closed.  I rejoice.  I revel in the quiet, in my garden, in beautiful days free of the constant snarling.
At the end of August the planes start again.  I react as badly as ever —NO I don’t, it’s NOT back to “square one.” I don’t fall apart and I still have my “real life”.  But I am plunged back into pain, hopelessness, helplessness.  I watch myself start to feel “none of my work has done any good” and recognize the pattern Dr. Rankin described.  I talk to myself.  I say “You still have Neskaya and circle dancing.  You still have your vocation.  You still have Dancing the Sacred Calendar and the paintings of the Dancer and the Red Woman.”   After a while it begins to help.  The planes aren’t so bad for a day and I think “I’m going to be all right.” But on Tuesday, it’s the same old snarl, over and over again, the groove that’s worn in my brain.  Once again I hate them, I want them to die, I watch my life and my work dissolve into greyness, I watch my love of nature disappear, I lose my connection to the green trees and glittering streams.

What can I do?  What is this about?  What meaning can I find in my life?  What context can I create that will help me understand?  Or maybe it isn’t “understanding” that’s needed.  I don’t even know how to ask the question.
Why does this keep happening to me?  What have I failed to learn?  At least I don’t see it as some kind of punishment because I’ve been blatantly, outrageously, CREATIVE and showing off.

“Write a story you haven’t told yet, or haven’t told all of it…  Imagine that what you’re beginning to write is an offering — as best you can — something you do out of love.  Try not to limit who you are.”

The Other Story: the Story of the ‘Red Woman’
She first came when I was at Kripalu.  It was October 31, and I was telling Shivani that it was Samhain, the new year in the Old Nature Religion.  She said “The sisters here would love to know about that” and I felt something, some one, expand out of me into the room.  “Who’s that?” asked Shivani, so I couldn’t deny her presence.
I tried to write about her later.  I knew that her color was red, and that she had great soft brilliant wings.  “Is she me or not me? She’s so much bigger than I thought my soul could be, yet too small and too personal to be god.” I understood that she had something to do with healing the abused and violated earth, by working to heal the abuse and violation done to us as children.
Something inside me was angry and resistant, and resentful.  Feeling that I have been pushed into this, that I’m being made to move faster than I want to go.  Pushed by chronic illness into giving up bread, coffee, pushed by psychological pain into working to increase consciousness, pushed by sexual trauma into celibacy.  Feeling angry that I never had a chance to live a “normal” life first and grow out of it naturally.  Feeling angry that I’ve never had a satisfying sexual relationship with my husband.  Reading the book “By Way of Pain” and feeling like this journey is too much work, too much pain, always being asked to stretch beyond what I can do, never a chance to rest and relax.  Are there ever any rewards to make it worth the suffering?  I want to go back, I want to stop . . .   but of course that’s not possible.

Thinking in the dining room about what I would like to share.  One important thing is having this person wake up in me, “as the flame enlarges the wick”.  She is both me and not me, she is huge, she is a flame, a fountain, she has wings.  I don’t know her name.  Her color is red.  My life is dedicated to her service.  The work that we do together is the geomantic healing of the planet earth.  I know the timing of the festivals and the steps of the dances, and the placement of the stones.
I had thought that the only way I could have “chosen” to be sexually abused would be if I did it to end the long chain of abuse handed down from parent to child.  That seemed too noble a motive for the person I believed myself to be.  Then I began to suspect that I had done it to help heal the earth, and that is too great a work for me to choose (no wonder I said it wasn’t worth the pain) but since She woke up in me I know that She is big enough to make that choice, and I am only her servant.  I’m honored and humble and grateful to be chosen for this work.  “Incest Survivors for a Cleaner Planet” is a real sisterhood, and I am one of the sisters.  This is knowledge not belief or fantasy.
Such a feeling of stepping into my heritage, all the pieces of my life falling into place, little things making sudden sense.

The She Who is me and not me — is she my soul? God? She seems much bigger than I ever imagined my soul to be, and at the same time she is much more personal and unique to me than I could ever imagine God.
Drove south on Route 7, down a processional way lined with sisters, waving their arms, sunlight in their hair, sister maples and sister pines, sister bulrushes and other lovely weeds.  I kept filling up and spilling over with love for everything, even the dead trees, even the dead raccoons on the road  — even the motorists and the towns and buildings.  The sun glittering on the rivers through the trees, aap sahaee hoaa on the tape deck.  And gradually I began to feel how we were all dying, how our lives were being consumed by flame, how every cell, every leaf, every tree, every rock, was in motion, not a solid object but like a flame, coming into being and flicking out again, each one unique, irreplacable, fleeting so fast, love them, love them all my sisters, for you will never see this moment again, this rock, this leaf, this gleam on the water.  Have compassion on them my sisters, on each unique, irreplacable being, bravely holding up its banner in the great wind.  “I am the sacrifice unto the One — with every breath..”  I have only the sense of everything dying, dying, and yet I know that the flame of life is the other side of all this dying.  No words, no words at all.  This is the God Shiva.  So grateful, so eternally grateful.

I began to write a book called “Written in Blood” which traced the thread between cutting myself and writing with the blood — and my damaged and wounded creativity — and my childhood in an alcoholic and abusive family — and my attempts to heal.

I joined a drama class for women who were survivors of domestic violence and six months later found myself on stage:
telling the story of how I cut myself and identified with the soldiers in Vietnam…
reading a poem: Prisoners of War — “the experts are now saying that those of us who grew up in alcoholic and abusive families have lived with a level of stress that is equivalent to that of prisoner of war…”
dancing the dance of a wounded bird struggling to fly…
At the end I said “This production marks the beginning of the Artist in me coming out of the closet,” and received enthusiastic applause.

But when the women of ‘Journey into Courage’ disbanded, I began to sink into the pit of depression.  Slogging my way through days of greyness like ash falling from a volcano, I struggled to keep going like one who knows it would be dangerous to fall asleep in a snowstorm but has forgotten why.  “Now put your right foot forward… Now put your left foot forward…”  I no longer knew that there had ever been a Red Woman.

I decided that, even if the creator of the universe was blind and malignant, there was still a Spirit of Love.  Even if that spirit was not the highest power in the universe, still it existed.  I could think of nothing else to do with my life but offer it to the service of the God of Love… “…if any god would want such a miserable life as mine,” I thought, and then realized that any god of love worthy of the name would accept any offering, no matter how miserable or hateful the person offering.
I knew my offer was accepted as soon as I got home and found a situation that challenged my power to stay open and loving.  My husband was in a complete panic because he was sexually attracted to another woman and she told him she was aware of it but refused to respond.  (It should be said here that my husband and I, though we love each other, had not had a sexual relationship for many years, for reasons that are still unclear.) I was surprised at the degree of compassion his distress called out of me, and I was able to be there for him in a very real and loving way.

At this time my husband and I were engaged in building Neskaya, our “Dance Hall /Dojo,” designed to be a sacred space for the practice of spiritual disciplines involving the use of the body: aikido, yoga, sacred dance.  As I went deeper into the greyness of despair and horror I left him to carry the burden of the project.  Every now and then I was overwhelmed with panic: “We’re spending all this money on a dance studio, and I can barely move.” At one point I asked him if it would be all right if I never did anything more than teach a couple of hours of dance a week.  He said “Yes.”
When I went through the five days of horror on Paxil, I remember dancing Kitka in Sybil’s living room as a way of holding on to my center, or perhaps reminding myself that I once had a center.
Neskaya opened in the fall, after the summer of sleeplessness, burning pains, and continuous terror.  Tranquilizers were helping me sleep, but didn’t touch the Fear.  Nothing had any meaning for me, there was nothing I enjoyed.  I clung to the call of the chickadee, and the silver swirl of water as I washed the dishes as though they were photographs of someone who had died.  With fierce commitment, I continued to teach circle dance because it was the only thing worth doing, even if there was no sense of satisfaction.
As the medication began to work, my creative life began to burgeon.  I signed up for a year-long program in Contemplative Dance.  I designed ever more elaborate celebrations for dancers at Neskaya.  As part of a weekend on “Rites of Passage”, I invoked the Red Woman, calling her to reappear in my life.  Almost as a joke, I mention the Sacred Calendar project to Julia.  She responds with enthusiasm.  Before I know what has happened I choose a date, write the flyer, begin designing eight altars to put around the dance floor.
May 2-3, 1998: Sixteen people come to learn about the Sacred Calendar, its foundation in astronomy, the symbolic meaning of the eight major holidays.  We start with Summer Solstice at noon, dance for Lammas at 3PM and Fall Equinox at sunset.  For each holiday I light candles on the appropriate altar.  We sleep from Samhain to Winter Solstice, rise at midnight and 3AM to dance the winter holidays.  At sunrise we celebrate the Spring Equinox, have breakfast and wind the Maypole at 9AM.  All parts of me are there: astronomer, dancer, set designer, priestess.
To keep myself from crashing after this intense creative output, I sign up for Aviva Gold’s “Painting from the Source.”  I enter the state she calls “plugged in” where there are “no mistakes and no accidents.”  I paint with my hands instead of my eyes, smearing paint where it “feels right” rather than “looks good.”  I tear pieces of paper and stick them on with paint, building up layers.  The surface grows richer and richer.  I dip my hands in a color Aviva calls “Placenta Red” and they make a long oval shape in the center.  I expect it to be a vagina, but when I look back from across the room, I see a woman: her hand in the ritual gesture, her feet poised, her head crowned with a pointed head dress.
Not until I get home and put her up on the east wall at Neskaya do I remember the Red Woman — who first appeared when I talked about sharing the sacred calendar, and became visible nine years later at Beltane, Festival of Embodiment.

What did I notice today?  The tiny oak trees in the lawn, cut again and again but refusing to give up, now dense with leaves, bonsai oak trees.  Cut down again and again, but still flourishing.

“To have faith is a rigorous act.  To have faith despite the lack of visible proof — to hold on to what you know in the face of the Void — is extraordinary.  It’s the opposite of innocence.”

We have an experience of Spirit, self-validating in the moment, but when we try to explain it, it disappears.  “Maybe it didn’t really happen.” Psyche’s sisters are the voices inside that undermine what we know.

Can I find this place in my life?  When the planes come, I think: “It didn’t really happen, it wasn’t real.  I don’t have a vocation, I’m not on the path, there is no path.  My creativity is a cheat, I’m just “showing off”, just trying to make myself important.”
‘Just trying to make myself important’? It’s not ‘me’ that’s important, it’s the Red Woman.  She came and she is real, and she dances the sacred calendar.  And my life is devoted to her service.  She is not trying to kill me, though she may have got me burned at the stake in the old days.  But it’s not death I fear, it’s having everything I value be disappeared.  That’s what mother does.  She annihilates what I value by not seeing it.  The airplanes do too.  Am I supposed to put myself in her service?  NO! Not to be in service to my mother and her shallow values, but to be in service to the ‘Red Woman’, who may be unpredictable and dangerous, may lead me out on a limb, but will never disappear my values.  No, I can’t have ‘safety’, but I will know that I am on the center of my path.
I think about those oak trees, flourishing despite being cut again and again.
There’s something about the act of having faith that I need to hold onto when the noise disappears the beauty of nature and my sense of myself.  Is there anything that is not disappeared?  Or do I let the annihilation happen, knowing that Spirit will resurrect?

Today is the day of silence.
I’m sitting in the dining room, looking out over green lawn, darker trees and blue water to the sunlit sand and grass of the outer bar, and beyond it the blue of ocean.  It looks so much like the view from Grampappy’s house across the golf course to Stage Island — the same elements: green grass, dark trees, blue water, sand and grass, blue water again.
Women enter the room behind me.  I see their reflections in the glass, moving through green grass and blue water.  I hear their footsteps, differing paces, the sounds of serving fruit and bread.  I am nourished, nourished, nourished by the silence.  O sisters, thank you.
Today’s song is Island in the Sun:
O island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your sparkling waters, your shining sand.
I think about my father, his love for the sea, and what he bequeathed to me that’s still worth having — this view, the sea in my heart, the little book of poems that went through the war with him.  The rest of it — the drinking, the sexual innuendoes, the petty tyranny — has all dissolved like mist in the sunlight, or sand crumbled away by the tide.

The Story of My Mother and Breast Cancer
I didn’t know she had breast cancer until she called me and said: “I found a lump and I went to my doctor and I had a mastectomy and I’m fine now.” Knowing from painful experience that she would not want sympathy, I hesitated a moment.  Finally I said “You sound fine, Mother.”

My sister was angry that she hadn’t told us before she went into the hospital.  They didn’t tell us about Dad’s colostomy, either, until it was over.

It has taken a long time for me to understand how I was deprived of vital lessons — I continue to be astonished at the degree of deprivation: the things not said, the things not shared.  There are whole aspects of human experience that I only know about through books.

What my mother taught me about mortality is that you must never acknowledge it.  You must never show weakness, or neediness, or difficulty.  You must carry on, with head held high.  If you never let anyone see your pain, then it doesn’t exist.  To help her keep to this code of honor, she drank until her body was saturated with the smell of bourbon.
My experience was that hiding my pain didn’t make it go away.  What I learned was that I was wrong to have “bad moods”, I was wrong to be “too sensitive”, that they were moral faults and could be controlled by an act of will.  Since I was unable to change these things about my self, I was a failure as well as being sad and having difficulty.  Perfect training for turning a vulnerability into severe depression.

Growing up surrounded by lies, I developed enormous hunger for the truth.  I turned to science hoping it would give me a way to tell truth from lies.  Spirit led me to Miss Hill, my beloved astronomy professor.  She taught me about “paradigm shift” before Thomas Kuhn ever wrote his book.  She taught me to identify assumptions, that a hypothesis can only be held as long as the facts support it, and that what we consider to be “fact” depends on our assumptions.  The “laws” of science are nothing more than assumptions that have so far been held up by the facts.  The science of astronomy is founded on the colossal assumption that the laws of physics, as we discovered them in our laboratories, here on the planet earth, over the last 400 years, that these “laws” are true throughout all time and space.  Using what she taught me, I peeled away the lies, eventually seeing past the assumption that intellect could give me all the answers, that science could provide me with the truth. I continue to use it: Identify assumptions, do not consider any hypothesis to be eternal law, and learn from my own experience.

I live in the present now.  I notice the liquid spiral of the water as it curves from the spout of the watering can to the roots of the plant.  I love my husband and we can speak our love; I love my friend Lynelle and we can speak our love.  I feel pain when I see the pain of these two loved ones, knowing there is nothing I can do to help, but be there, stay alongside, silent.  I feel joy when I put together a program for my dancing circle and they love it.  I enjoy: the call of the chickadee, washing dishes, the beauty of Neskaya in the light of the setting sun, that first cup of tea.  I am so grateful for my life and all its trials that have led me to this point.

Aphrodite’s anger: the Spirit of the Place — Franconia Notch — a place so sacred that the Native Americans would not live there — is outraged at the airplanes, at people who exploit the beauty, even at people who try to enjoy the beauty without caring appropriately for the place, without offering reverence to the Divine.
Eros flees any attempt to pin him to a single identity, to imagine that how he is in this moment is how he will be in the next, to imagine that he will stay in the form in which you first saw him, to imagine that there was any way you could control him, hold on to him, make him be there when you want him — rather than coming and going as his nature demands.

To break the silence — a single image of beauty:
I saw the moon going down in the morning sky, her curve of white barely visible against the blue, her dark seas faded to transparency, an unearthly visitor to the sunlit world.

The Descent into Hell
My life is getting drier and drier, greyer and greyer, all the juice is running out, has never been.  Step by step through the rain of ash, the bitter fog, the deepening cold.  Step by step.  Now put your right foot forward…
I wake in terror.  I get out of bed because it’s just as scary to stay there, and sometimes things are better if I move.  I do yoga because it’s something for my mind to cling to.  I have a sequence of postures written down because it’s too hard to decide what to do next.  I eat breakfast, forcing tasteless food against the dryness in my mouth.  I wash dishes because it’s something I can do and something that must be done, and it gives me an illusion of being effective, having a purpose. I lift a spoon out of the water, resist the impulse to scrub it quickly and move on — because what do I have to do today, nothing important, nothing worthwhile, nothing that would save the world or “do good for others” — there isn’t even anything I can do that would make me feel better, would still the panic, would give me the sense that there might be something that I could do “right”, something that would placate the angry goddess who has never been happy with me.  So if there’s nothing I can do, I might as well be doing the dishes, putting off the awful moment when I will have to decide what to do next.  I scrub the spoon slowly, saying in my mnd “This too is God.” I try to scrub it gently, reverently, with my anxiety-stiffened fingers.  I notice the sun glittering on the dish water, the chickadee in the apple tree, the snow on the mountain.  I know that at some other time, on some other planet, these things were beautiful.  There is no beauty now, no peace, no silence, no warmth.  When I have finished the dishes it’s time to water the plants.  I pour spring water into the watering can.  I notice how the stream of water spirals with silver glints inside, how it follows a trajectory without rigidity and without looseness.  As I pour the water on to the plants, I hold on to the silver spiral glint as a drowning person holds on to a rope she hopes might lead her to the surface.

Four rules:
1) You are a writer.
2) Allow the relationships that heal you to enter your life with joy.
3) Recognize that taking care of yourself creates a better life for everyone.
4) Entertain and enact increasingly the idea that healing is a beautiful miracle that is increasingly available to you.

Beauty is the speech of the Red Woman — I can speak her words, use her images, but I’m not able to talk about her.  I know the words and images come from another realm, I share them for their own sake and for the sake of the community.  In the same way, I teach the dances for love of the dances and wanting to share what I love.  When I teach the dances it’s about the dances, not about me.

I will walk the path of my scars.
I will give myself time for love.
“Yes” is a noun, “Yes” is a verb, “Yes” is the only word.
I will strew petals on my table.