Category Archives: RITUALS & PASSAGES

Prince, the Purple Train and High Heel Shoes: Bonding With My Daughter

I can’t believe another summer is drawing to a close. Despite my mother being right (and mother’s always are—despite our daughters disavowing that fact), I refuse to admit the days of sunshine and roses seem to be going faster the older I get. But, here it is a week into August already, the school supplies are running low on the shelves at Walmart and I’m calculating how many pool days I might have left before I risk getting hypothermia in the unheated water.

So it was two months ago, today, June 7th, that my daughter and I attended a party in honor of the late, great Prince on what would have been his birthday. We live about 100 miles, as the crow flies, from Paisley Park. Prince is a god in these parts. Any party in his honor is going to be a rocking time, but one hosted on a historical rail car billed the Purple Train for the evening, makes that literal.

As planned, I picked my daughter up at her house. As expected, with two children and a man-child husband, she was running just a tad late. Having worked delays into the schedule didn’t stop me from engaging in a smidgeon of interstate impatience. I mean, seriously, you could hardly call a few choice commentaries on the rush hour commuters’ collective I.Q. road rage.

“You’re going to be one of those really crumidgey ladies when you get old, aren’t you?” 

She meant curmudgeonly. I prefer to think of myself as crotchety. It infers the feminine aspect of curmudgeon—or at least I like to think so.

My first thought was, I am old. But who could blame her for not recognizing my sage position in life. I was the one who bought the tickets to the party, I was the one driving us to the train, and I was the one dressed in purple from the fedora on my head, wrapped with purple paisley scarf trailing down my back, to the purple patent stilettos on my feet.

All of this went through my head, before I answered her question. “Yes, when I am old, I’m going to be a real bitch.”

She, in no purple but wearing appropriate skinny jeans, big-hoop earrings and a pair of drop-dead, four-inch, leopard print platform pumps, laughed and said, “It will be so much fun taking you out of the home for day trips.”

It’s my own fault, I raised the smart ass.

Staged on a moving, vintage train traveling a fifty mile scenic route and back one might have questioned our elevating footwear. We ourselves briefly considered the wisdom of dancing in high heels while being jostled over railroad tracks in poor repair, but for two women with more than 100 pairs of shoes, booties, boots and sandals between us, it was a brief debate. The shoes won over wisdom.

There were four cars making up the Purple Train (it wasn’t really purple). The first was a boxcar empty of anything but the DJ’s sound equipment and purple lights. Next was the bar car, followed by two standard commuter coaches.

Our plan was to spend at least some time in the comfort of the roomy, vintage passenger seats. It was a good plan, made better by the fact that the sound quality of the Prince catalog was far superior in coach than it was in the dance-party car. But, much as the shoes were a necessary part of the ensemble, a DJ spinning Prince meant there would be non-stop dancing.Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.34.38 PM

It’s good for a crotchety old woman like myself to put on her high heels and haul her old dance moves out onto the floor once in a while. Maintaining my balance in purple stilettos while dancing on a rocking train proves I’ve still got it.

Having my daughter lean in close to tell me to please, don’t break a hip it will spoil the party, is just more payback for raising a smart-ass.

After three hours (with a long, planned stop at the far end of the track) the Purple Train pulled back into the station and we headed back to my baby blue VW Bug, Blucy (she has false eyelashes on her headlights). I kicked off my shoes and removed my fedora. My salt & peppa hair was plastered to my head with sweat, from dancing or post middle age flashes—I’m not sure which.

“Let’s stop at the Choo Choo for a drink,” my daughter suggested. Yes, that’s the name of the bar. Yes, it’s a rail road town.

“But, I have hat hair.”

“So put your hat back on.”

Despite embracing a somewhat bohemian esthetic, I don’t normally hang out in working class, neighborhood bars dressed to draw attention. I raised an eyebrow at her.

“You can practice your crabby old lady routine.” She said. “If anybody asks about the hat, just tell them you’ve been riding the Purple Train all night long.”

“That sounds like a drug euphemism.”

“Even better!” she laughed. “I’ll stand behind you and shake my head, saying ‘Old hippy—too many psychedelic trips.”

That could be fun,” I said. “The trips, not the hat hair.” 

I snugged my hat onto my head at a daring angle and squeezed my swollen feet back into my heels. 

The summer isn’t over yet. Bonnie Raitt is appearing under a big top in three weeks,  just fifty miles from my daughter’s house. Now where did I put my cowboy boots?


A Bear in Winter

I’m drinking my morning wake-up coffee in a darkened house, sitting by the warm glow of the gas fireplace. Outside the wind is howling and it’s dark. Really, really dark. In the northern realm, we’re getting about nine hours of light from sun up to sun down. Most days, I am up before the sun is.FullSizeRender_1

I welcome the slower pace this time of year. There is plenty of time to catch up with indoor projects that were left languishing during the high months of summer. There’s time to spend in quiet contemplation, reconnecting  to my personal touch points— discovering where I am on my life path and where I want to go. Still, these dark days of deep winter can be troublesome for me.

The scarcity of light during the long, cold months nudges me into a state of near hibernation; I go deeper into my self-imposed cave each day. Since I also suffer FullSizeRenderwith a high degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly named SAD), this holing up indoors  has me longing to swaddle myself in soporific fleece and curl up into a state of cozy semi-consciousness to await spring’s return.

Oh to be a bear in winter, to close my eyes to the dismal dark and sleep through until the light returns.

Since I haven’t mastered the art of shape shifting (yet), and thus won’t be morphing into a bear any time soon,  I’ve decided instead to buy a full FullSizeRender_2spectrum light. I’m sure my failing eyesight will thank me as much as my moody self.

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for my GLAD lamp (Gobs of Light All Day)to arrive in the mail, I’m painting my blue period.


Bluebird of Happiness

I have a bluebird nesting box at the corner of my garden. Every spring, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds shows up around my birthday (a few weeks from now) to set up household. I don’t know if it’s the same pair every year, or even if they are offspring fledged from the nest the previous summer.

Bluebird

Sam watching me . . . watching him.

No matter, I named them after my maternal grandparents and each year, same pair or different, I welcome Sam and Betty back to the corner of my garden sanctuary. Then I sit back to watch the show of nest building, predator smack downs, food gathering and baby fledging.

Until this very moment, I’ve never questioned why I find so much joy in watching these birds in their dance of procreation. I think, maybe, it’s the reassurance they give that all is right with the world, that minus human weakness and drama, the earth keeps spinning and life continues on.

Who better to remind me not to sweat the small stuff than the harbinger of happiness? The association of the bluebird with the emotion of happiness is found in numerous cultures and dates back thousands of years, the oldest evidence being found on oracle bone inscriptions in pre-modern China. Interestingly enough, in the Tang Dynasty the bluebird evolved from a fierce goddess into a fairy queen, the protector of singing girls, novices, nuns, adepts and priestesses – women who dared to step out of traditional roles. Now that’s a legend the MAD Goddess can appreciate.Image

Happiness is based in many things including a feeling of contentment, fulfillment and purpose, in relationships and life circumstances.  In the traditional roles of women, we often spend more time and give more effort to ensuring others’ happiness; parents, partners and especially children. This isn’t to say we aren’t happy in doing so, but then one day, we find our nest empty and ourselves wondering, what next?

The empty next lies before you with all the promise of a new Spring, just waiting to be seeded with  your wildest dreams. How will you manifest your happiness and watch it grow in this second half of life?

If you are joining me in the *Dark Moon Lodge, we are stepping out and stepping into spring – the season of stirrings. We’re planting our seeds and nurturing our dreams into growth. You can find out more about the journey by clicking here (use the password darkmoon).

*When the moon is new, and associated with beginnings, growth and increase, it cannot be seen in the night sky – this is why it is also known as the dark moon – a void, not to be feared, but to be filled.


LIGHT IT UP!

“All of us come into this life with unique gifts. We are beings who are self expressing from the time we enter into the room,”

~ Shilo Sophia, Artist and Visionary

I found Shilo Sophia’s beautiful images of the divine feminine spirit earlier this year, or I should say, they found me. I truly believe that what we most desire finds its way to us. The question is, are we ready to greet it with open arms and a loving heart?

We are all born with the desire to self express through intentional creativity. In its purest form it manifests as the longing to recreate in our own image, to give birth to children who will perpetuate some part of us. It also drives artistic creation in the form of visual art, writing, music and design. But what about planting – gardening and farming? What about building – infrastructure, or widgets, or building the business that builds the widgets? What about less solid form visible activities? What about the energy that goes into the creation of ministering, healing, marketing and selling, teaching, or serving others?

I am here to tell you that everything we do, is a creation that begins first as a thought. If nurtured, that thought will grow with our personal energy and, if allowed, will manifest as our own creation. And we have the same power to create the life we desire.

I didn’t always get this. Before the MAD Goddess muse started whispering to me, I let others’ energy shape and define me. We all do – it’s the norm. We are taught to behave as civil human beings do. We are taught to fit into society. We are taught to conform.

Shilo’s wise words resurrected a poem I wrote many years ago. I had to search for it, though files of loose paper and scribbled words. I think it may well be the MAD Goddess’s first whisper to me.

my own small voice
daughter
sister
mother
wife
what if –
orphan
only child
childless Woman
widow
who am I then
lover
friend
just more names
fitting me to others’ frames
i have listened long to their words
fragmented by the messages heard
now one voice, though quiet and small
has the magic to silence them all

Copyright – All rights reserved.

Who are you?  Who do you want to be in your second half of life? What spark of creativity is hiding beneath layers of imposed fear, pain, anger or abuse? You might think there is no spark, that it smothered long ago.

Nothing is further from the truth. The spark lives; it lives now, inside of you. It lives outside of you in others of your tribe – women like yourself, women who have shared your experience even though you have never met them. I personally believe the spark lives on beyond this physical life in the form of spirit energy. I believe it survives in memory, living on in your children and grandchildren for generations.

The point is, no matter how far down into the shadows your spark has retreated, you can light it up again! Let it enflame and engulf your entire being – mind, body, soul and spirit! Let it rise up from the ashes like the phoenix. Let it consume you. Let it burn stronger, better, brighter than ever before. Let it consume your doubts and your fears, let it fuel your purpose and passion.

You know who you are, you know how beautiful and creative and loving and valuable you are. Stop listening to your limiting thoughts, they are merely echoes from the words of others who have no idea what you are capable of. Start listening to your truth. Start living the second half of your life according to you.


The Turning Wheel

This moon phase began with the new moon on Sept. 5th and will end with dark moon on Oct. 3. This autumn moon represents change, the cycles of seasons in nature and in our lives. The moon is associated in Celtic lore with the Triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother and Crone.
In our modern society, these stages overlap more than ever before. We can thank our consumer culture for the unrealistic expectation of remaining eternally youthful, forever the maiden. Women of age and wisdom are, to say the least, not exactly honored in our culture. Yet, look around; if ever we needed the wisdom of grandmothers now is the time.
Instead, how many of us are  still mothering our adult children, effectively clipping their wings? How many of us find ourselves providing primary childrcare for our grandchildren long after our Mother stage should have naturally passed? Is it because young parents are not stepping up to the plate, or because we have refused to step aside for them?
I asked my oldest daughter and mother of four, why she thinks so many of her generation seemed to be totally overwhelmed by the task of parenting their children.
“Too many parents who weren’t around or thought their job was  to make everything easier for us growing up,” she said.
Wow! What an eye opener.
So to make up for it we are mothering our children and grandchildren. Yet again we are failing to pass on the mantle of Mother and step into our roles as Crone. What we must ask ourselves is whether stepping in to pick up the slack for our adult children is a selfless or selfish act on our part?  Should we be raising children long after nature would  have us do so? Should we be prolonging our daughters’ Maiden stage beyond its time?
Is our reluctance to take up the duties of Crone because we think that we are not yet seasoned enough for this wisdom stage? If not us, then who?
What stage are you in? Do you find yourself juggling all three? How can you honor your stage and ground your being in your natural place? And how will that help those around you – family, friends, community?

I CONFESS – I HAVE HAD A SECRET LOVE

It’s eight-thirty on a morning that is approaching the pseudo-summer days of fall and I’m enjoying a gourmet coffee and cranberry-walnut muffin. A welcome breeze is rustling the leaves of a maple tree that wraps its arms around the corner windows where I sit nestled into a quilt covered futon. I could almost reach out to pluck one of those leaves from a branch tip, yet the limbs are not scraping against the siding. They are at such a perfect distance it seems they have been carefully groomed to create this tree-house like sanctuary.

From the street below comes the sound of occasional traffic. Voices of passers-by float through the window screens on the breeze. I have read the news, caught up on correspondence and will soon be coiffed and off to a few boutiques I’ve been dying to explore. The city is peppered with such shops in neighborhoods of venerable brick storefronts; small enclaves rich with character that has not been assassinated by the blight of malls.

I have dreamed of living exactly like this, in a second floor walk-up with a porch overlooking the street below. I have dreamed of morning coffee with pastries, of lunches in a storybook bistro where I would be a fixture – the author working on her next novel.

Having grown up in a very small town, and spending all of my adult life living in a rural community where everything of convenience is at least thirty miles away, the wonder of what city life would be has been a constant companion whispering in my ear. But mine was a life of keeping a home, raising children and tending vegetable gardens – envied by my city sisters.

I’m certain this secret longing I’ve had to experience the life of a carefree woman in the city has been just that, a secret. I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t write about it. It wasn’t a life goal on my list. It was an undisclosed love and yet, somehow, my daughter has turned it into such accurate reality it’s as if she knew my secret all along.

I is she who brings me to this place that I have dreamed of. It is a magical place suspended in time for me – sitting here, I feel like a young ingénue with the world awaiting. Yet, as enamored as I am of this place, I caution myself. I must not usurp my daughter’s territory. I WILL not be one of those mothers living vicariously through her progeny.

I have a hunch she doesn’t quite see the romance in all of this that I do. Like any relationship, the lure of the city grows faint with time. Battling her way to and from work on traffic clogged thoroughfares cools love’s flame. As time wears on, the warts of the city can make the once handsome suitor begin to look a lot like a frog.

I know that one day she will look back on this time with the fond memories one holds for a love than cannot be recaptured. I am hopeful that until then, she can appreciate this moment in her life for what it is; her awakening into self. And I thank her, for sharing this time with me.

As for me, I plan to visit now and then to remind her what a “catch” her life is; just not so often as to make her bar the doors. After all, this little perch in the corner of the second floor porch, overlooking the not too busy street below, is her home, not mine. I’ll have to remain content with being a secret admirer.

. . . . . mid
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THOUGHTS ON AUTUMN AND THANKSGIVING TURKEYS

Sigh . . . summer is drawing to it’s end in my neck of the woods and while I need the two or three months of temperatures above 74-degrees to thaw my winter frozen bones, fall is truly my favorite season.

It is also the shortest season and I would gladly sacrifice a month at the end of summer and at least three months at the beginning of winter to make it the longest season of the year. You have to understand, I’m not talking calendar seasons.

The calendar tells me that the first day of winter is December 21st. Maybe somewhere, but in the far north tundra of Wisconsin, by the time we get to December 21st we’ve been shoveling the white stuff for at least a month. The winter coats, hats, gloves and mittens come out of the closet long before that – ‘round about mid September. Oh sure, we get a random day, maybe even two, scattered throughout September, October and November where a sweater is cozy enough for a sunny afternoon. But for the most part it’s cold.

With our hardwood, deciduous forests the landscape blazes with color that can be matched by only a few other regions in our country. If we could just keep the leaves on the trees until after thanksgiving, I’d be much more thankful.

Our lives don’t just mirror nature, they are nature. The seasons of our lives run about the same as the seasons outside my window, with middle age – my autumn — just a transition turning over to a long, cold winter. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for that lengthy winter of life expectancy and I look forward to a time for rest. But just as I’d rather sit on my back deck admiring the fire of maple leaves, like flames licking the wind, instead of shoveling that same deck off so it doesn’t bow beneath the weight of two tons of snow, Id’ also like to enjoy my life’s rest in the warmth of long, lingering autumn years.

I’m contemplating packing up the home-on-wheels and following autumn around the country like snowbirds follow summer. I can only imagine the foothill areas of more southern states like Tennessee and Kentucky stay warm well up to Thanksgiving. I’d take a Virginia ham smoked to perfection in our little kettle grill over an oven roasted turkey any day. Throw in some yams and Vadalia onions along with cornbread in the cast iron skillet and you’ve got yourself a real feast.

Unfortunately my current academic status prevents any autumnal vagabonding on my part. But if there are any friends out there who want to invite me for Thanksgiving southern style, I have a couple of frequent flyers the hubby and I need to use up.  I’d be happy to do the cooking.

. . . . . . mid

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