Monday, May 31, 2010

Catching Up

Wow. It’s been a full week since I last posted here. That doesn’t usually happen unless I’m traveling or on vacation – neither case is true this week. Hmmmm. My words feel few even though my experiences of the last week are rich.

Did I tell you a mother crow swooped down and whacked my shoulder – not once by twice – as I mellowly walked home from yoga last week? I can’t begin to tell you the thoughts and emotions that swirled through my mind with that encounter!

A friend recently introduced me to hot yoga. It’s combination of heat and focus is allowing me to enter a whole new body/mind/spirit/strength connection. The practice is comprised of a 90-minute routine working through about 26 poses in a room that reaches temperatures of 105 degrees. I’m currently in the beginner stage and hanging out where it’s only 85 ☺. It’s no wonder I produced a “water” soul collage card with minimal apparent water (that I’m still processing.)

My bookshelf finds me reading Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. It’s a relationship, coming of age, mother/daughter, struggling writer, traveling the world, kind of book. It’s right up my alley.

The weather this Memorial Day weekend has been gray and gloomy and only now with hours waning has the sun appeared. This didn’t stop my husband and I from visiting the local Farmer’s Market and hiking throughout Discovery Park on our leisurely Sunday. Today has brought a sprinkling of necessary work mixed with a visit to see new puppies – one named Lucy who was my favorite, of course – and a nap with the master himself, Aslan.

I’ve done a little catching up with some fabulous blogs and pressed the “mark all read” button more than I prefer. Life feels like a good rhythm as I continue to discover new adventures and settle into old comforts. Writing here is both. I wasn’t sure what would emerge on the page when I began to type. Nevertheless, I wanted to catch up and say hello. A week’s much too long to be away.

Do tell – what do the rhythms of your life hold these days?

blooming tides @ discovery park ©lucy

Monday, May 24, 2010


"If it isn't an experience of newfound freedom, I don't think it is an authentic God experience." -- Richard Rohr

God doesn't make us smaller. When we are "emancipated" as Rohr mentions in his offering today, we are enlarged in our capacity to love - to be - to worship - to live. If I have to live a life of making myself smaller, then I'm not experiencing God fully. Of course, there is sacrifice and it's not about getting what I "want" all of the time. In the words of Mick Jagger - you can't always get want you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need. But I digress...

I believe life isn't about making ourselves smaller or taking up too much space, but rather using the space we have wisely. Recently my way of using space (being) and/or doing life has shifted. Activities have been more physical than spiritual - more internal than external - more solitary than communal. I've been asking myself the question: Am I wasting time or am I expanding?

I was reminded this morning to never underestimate the power of morning pages. (Side note - I attempted journaling via and while I love the premise, I continue to find there is more magic for me in using my fountain pen and a composition notebook.) Here is my morning response to my own question of wasting time or expanding:

I need to contract - pull back - some of the time or I'll pop like an overstretched rubber band. I need time to percolate - to practice and integrate what I'm learning, just like in yoga. You don't go from zero to perfect pose immediately. Keep returning to the restorative poses. Stretch and return. Push the edges and rest. Perhaps my mind is taking a break to integrate - I'm using my body to recuperate. Mind and body working together to find the balance and wholeness I desire. Ah, newfound freedom in this moment. That's emancipation.

Where are you being stretched? Does lying in "corpse pose" feel restorative or lifeless for you? Thoughts on balance? Emancipation?

"balance" SoulCollage card

Friday, May 21, 2010

rhythms and rest

"...whatever you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall keep your heart safe." - the desert fathers

is it appropriate to follow the desert fathers with an Aaarrggh? i've already written this post once, and it disappeared into thin air... no wonder i'm computer-resistant these days!! (note to self - breathe.) ok...early this morning i was sitting here pondering which way my day might flow and an e-mail popped into my inbox. it was from a reader who i've been in correspondence with, and she was wondering if i'm alright and might perhaps be struggling with something i need or want to share. as i responded to her, i realized she had prompted the post for which i was looking these past couple of days. thus, i'm sharing a synopsis of those words here (so in reality, this is the 3rd time i've written this post. Aaarrgghh). one more deep breath.

i find myself to be in an interesting place of internal stillness (i.e. things are quiet not only externally, but also internally as the mindless chatter has slowed to a near nonexistent pace). my husband is out of town for a couple of weeks and my 17 year old daughter requires minimal attention from me, so i have some spaciousness in life and seem to find myself just being. aslan has also attached himself to me like velcro, and it's rather difficult to be "productive" with 9 pounds of purring fluff planted in your lap. consequently, i've chosen to surrender to his masterful spiritual direction and settle into the rhythm.

if there is an overarching struggle, it may have something to do with the multitude of feelings around my young son being incarcerated. it's a challenging road to navigate and one that few (any?) people i know personally have walked. my beautiful boy turns 21 next wednesday, so as i write to you i realize i may be experiencing solitude in solidarity with his solitary confinement.

in contrast, much of my days are spent giving and listening to others which truly feels like gift to me (and hopefully them as well) - so i am listening to my own rhythm as i have the time and it feels perfect. yesterday, i felt like i had a little spa day - i went to yoga early in the a.m., followed by my exercise routine, a stroll in the misty rain, my favorite hot latte and a few hours curled up with zen kitty while finishing a great book.

so, there you go... i hope you don't mind sharing this e-mail response/stream of awareness with me today. it's always such a delight to find a writing prompt through cyberspace. now, it's my turn...

how are the rhythms of your days falling into place? is there spaciousness to experience internal and/or external rest? what would your private "spa day" include?

Monday, May 17, 2010

computer resistant lately...


Wishing you a Brilliant Day!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do you need an earthquake?

Before you read today's post - and I hope you'll read it all & comment - take a look at the accompanying image. It's a card created between yesterday's post of desert blooms and today's words that flowed from my heart. I haven't spent a lot of time with this card, but a couple of observations: it's big and bold - there's a shadow side in there somewhere - I feel empowered and terrified when I consider it - she gives me the courage to step out and post the following reflections that poured into my journal this morning.

I didn't necessarily set out to write this for the public, and was going to heavily edit it if it turned into a post. I opted, however, to make minor revisions and go with the flow. The beginning quote is mine, made at Claire's post, Signs, where she speaks of the earthquake that sets Paul and Silas free from jail.

"yes, those earth shattering moments - many of them have melded together for me almost to the point where i see them everywhere i look - my heart has expanded and softened - fright seems to have been replaced with a love i thought i could never experience. it seems abstract and a bit cliche to put into words. simply put, yes, i've had those experiences and i remember, thank godde!"

the post describes the fear of the jailer when the earthquake shook and the prisoners were set free. the fear of the prisoners. it was elucidated in one of the comments on the blog "yikes, prisoner's escaping - time for fear." prisoners are scary, and i don't want to admit that to myself. prisoners are scary - really the unknown is scary. prisoners are just people like the rest of us and, yes, there is cause to be frightened of some of them, but not all of them. (oh, i hate them/they language.)

yesterday on a Facebook status, a well-meaning woman talked of wanting to provide spiritual direction to an "incarcerated" person and a "normal" person. my blood boiled. are you kidding me? you want to go and share God, but geez, can you hear what you're saying? i hear her saying "us and them". we're normal and they're not. an incarcerated person and a normal person. what bullshit is that? oh, i don't even want to rant about her. i need to listen to my own heart.

why does this grate on me so much? because i can see it in myself, huh? my fear. her fear. the jailer's fear - of the other. we fear 'the other', and as long as we fear the other - whether of another nationality, religion, social status - whatever - there will never be peace. fearing the other is the most dangerous thing we can do. yes, i know we have instincts to tell us when we're in danger, but what of the "instincts" we have been carefully taught? to hate people of color or those who weigh "too much" or fill in your own blank... we're taught to fear being old, too. how many of us fear the handicapped or the infirm? it's scary - really scary, 'cause it could be us!

when my mother was placed in a memory care facility (i.e. she had alzheimer's), my son at age 13 was the most compassionate person i've ever seen. he didn't fear the looping stories or the blank stares - he joined in with the residents and listened to their stories again and again. life has warped his views now with more prejudice, but then, he wasn't frightened - they were just people and he was a friend and champion for the under dog. now he is one. he's the guy behind the bars. he's the one we're supposed to be afraid of.

i sit in the visiting room at the prison and it looks like a class room. i haven't felt a moment of fear in that environment. maybe it's because the guards are standing around. maybe. but they're all people with stories. i feel more curious than anything and would love to sit down and talk with everyone (not allowed - btw). i don't see the men as "other" - other than making different choices than i've made, but i have no idea what life path lead them to those choices. fear - certainly. desperation - probably. self-contempt - absolutely.

and so we pour on the contempt by placing "them" in the other category. we're not scary and they are. we're normal and they're different. it's all fear. so what do we do? who are you afraid of? how does it cause you to be in the world or not be in the world? what's the difference between you and me and the guy in the orange jump suit? choices? luck? nature? God's plan? did God predestine them to be bad and us good? bullshit. yes, it comes down to choice. it comes down to love and fear. how can we be curious? i don't know what it means to be black or jewish or handicapped, but do you know what it's like to have a kid in jail and have the "good" Christian people afraid of him - categorizing him before they've even considered him as a person?

if you've ever read Martin Buber, you know about the i/thou relationship. when do we quit making people "it" and consider them as I/Thou. look into the eyes - yes, you may feel your blood chill - i've had that experience and i say "run". watch "dead man walking" and see sister prejean. yes, sean penn was scary in that movie - the character was terrifying and there was a spark of humanity. my son sits beside the most heinous offenders. does that make him scary? yes, i won't deny that i've dreamed of being terrified of him, and i will still give him a chance to be more than an it or they. i will not categorize blindly. at least i hope i won't.

i hope i will be like the jailer's in Claire's story and ask what i need to do to be saved - from myself. from my own pettiness and bitterness and fear. that's who and what i need to be saved from. "they" don't need to be saved, I do - especially if i hold malice and unjustified fear in my heart. - uneducated fear. ignorant fear. i say to me and you - to us: listen to yourself. have knowledge before you speak or at least acknowledge your ignorance. don't speak of love if you don't know what it's like to love unconditionally. i don't wish the challenges i've had on anyone AND i am grateful to have been challenged to know what it's like to love without condition. i'm not sure i would have done it on my own without an earthquake - would you?

Thanks for reading today. Wishing you peace and blessings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

desert blooms

"escaping into the desert until her time." my morning reading today ended with these words. they feel prophetic. they're written in the book of revelation - the most prophetic chapter of the bible.

"escaping into the desert until her time.
" when will it be my time? the voice answers loudly, "now. now is your time. it's time to bloom and shine and spread further into the world."

this seems to be a theme carried over from last week as christine and i explored boundaries, edges and frames with our soul care supervision group. i ventured out into the amazing sunshine to see what images wanted to be framed within my camera. my first stop was the playground where i couldn't take my eyes off the joyful grade school students at recess. their energy was captivating. full of brilliant colors and images of movement and exuberance. flying and leaping and raising their arms in the air. the little girl with her face down on the ground. not in defeat, but in a holy movement. the fresh colors drew me throughout my walk and even my own brilliant reflection called out to be photographed.

now is the time to come out of the desert. my roots are planted in the ground. deep and solid. lovable and unshakable. heaven knows i've tried to uproot myself. i've swayed with the winds - bent even - still i continue to flow with the breeze rather than break in the storm. this is beauty. wonderful and beautiful. it's my time to come out of the desert, and it's my time to go into the physical desert and see what needs to be said to me. to lie under a billion stars. wow. i can't believe i'm going. i'm really going. the time to come out of the desert. how do things grow in the desert? those lone blooms - they're there. i've seen them. they will be my beacon. "escaping into the desert until her time."

(btw - there's a pilgrimage to the sinai desert in the fall that has my name on it...)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

mother's day - aaarrrghh!

"Nothing else will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own."
--Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mothers Almanac

what can i write for a blog post today? words don't feel especially pretty here. i hate mother's day - a strong sentiment, i know. And lest, anyone think I'm totally cold-hearted, I wish all of you mother's out there a joyous day. i especially send my condolences to those who grieve because they aren't mothers (i know this day is hard for you, and it's yet another reason for my disdain of the 2nd sunday in may.)

mothers... what can i say? mothers love. mothers die. they hurt. they mess up and they do the best they can. they are loving, hateful, compassionate and cruel. they are the most important thing in the world to us, and we discount what they have to say because "they're just our mothers."

today is a gorgeous day outside. my husband has already brought me coffee in bed and breakfast is on the way. my son sent and created the beautiful card you see here, complete with an original poem. my daughter is still sleeping soundly (which is what a 17 year old girl should be doing on sunday morning). i have lovely plans for the day - some just for me and others spent with my family.

i have already shed tears for the loss of my mother who died 6 years ago today on mother's day. i have been angry at her and myself. i have grieved for friends who i know also struggle with this day, and i have rejoiced with those who relish what it means to be a mom. before 8:00 a.m. i have felt a full range of emotions including laughter, tears, anger and grief.

... i believe that's what being alive is all about - it's about feeling our feelings. i recognized quickly this morning the pull between the radiant sunshine and warmth that greeted me outside and the tug inside my body that screams "I hate this day." it isn't one or the other. it's both, and the more clearly i can name it, the more i can be present to this day - or any other. so regardless of your mother-status or gender, i send you warm wishes on this sacred sunday.

may you feel your feelings fully and celebrate the beauty of who YOU are!!!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

sips and drops of blessing

“The element of water connects us to a sacred web across the globe and invites us into acts of blessing, pouring forth love and grace to the world around us and receiving it in return.” -- Christine V. Paintner

I’ve often thought of the air we breathe as being connected to everyone in the world. My neighbor in Puerto Rico inhales the same air that flowed from my Seattle home, across the United States and then south to the Caribbean. In my mind, it moves on around the world across Europe and Asia, crossing the Pacific and then back home again.

Air flows freely and although it may feel stagnant for periods of time, it is still fluid – as is water. While water may not be the exact same body flowing directly from one place to another, there is still the possibility and invitation to connect across the globe - if only in our heart and imagination. When I ponder my flowing tears dropping into a stream that flows toward the ocean which moves via gulf stream, I can witness a piece of myself touching the woman in Africa who washes her clothes on a rock while bending over a muddy river. Perhaps it is the same water melted from the Polar ice cap, evaporated, blown through the clouds and poured out on a different continent half way around the world.

While I am clearly no scientist, I do know that water changes shape and form and has a unique path of its own. What would it be like to consider water in the way Christine describes as “acts of blessing, pouring forth love and grace to the world around us”? Personally, I love the image of blessings passed through sips and drops of water.

photo © lucy - Ireland, 2009

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

renewal and release

Today's Easter Season reflection from Abbey of the Arts ended with this question:

"How might water be calling me to deeper renewal and release?"

Earlier this morning I was musing about two upcoming trips - one in July and the other September. With all of this pondering about water, renewal and release, my choices seem quite interesting. Rather than the beaches of Bermuda and the luscious green Emerald Isle of years past, the Sinai Desert has chosen me for pilgrimage during this year of water. Interesting, huh? And the other destination? Oklahoma, yes, Oklahoma - one of the most landlocked states in the country. Dead center in the middle of the US far from even the Great Lakes. Not exactly the top 10 of vacation destinations, but Oklahoma is the place of my birth and where I lived the first 32 years of my life.

Perhaps that is why my roots are deep and strong? They had to work hard to find water and gather nourishment from the red-tinged earth. Just like grapevines planted in rocky ground, the roots must struggle and strain to find soil and so the plants become hardy and strong and flourish in unexpected ways. Is that not the story of my life - struggling and straining - flourishing in unexpected ways?

I wonder what I will learn visiting the desert during a year designated for water? How will my roots reach and grow? "You will come to appreciate water in ways you cannot imagine," my friend and pilgrimage guide said.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are surrounded by an abundance of water. This week, it falls unceasingly from the sky and I don't find myself wanting to dance in the rain. I am craving heat and sunshine. What are these things teaching me? What of deeper renewal and release? Maybe a walk in the rain is in order. Perhaps a long shower. I don't know. I feel dry this morning. Dry in the midst of moisture. So...

"How might water be calling me to renewal and release?" I don't know... perhaps that is the release.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

What it is I do...

"While we have the gift of life,

it seems to me the only tragedy

is to allow part of us to die --

whether it is our spirit,

our creativity or

our glorious uniqueness."

-- Gilda Radner

Recently, I've had more opportunity than usual to talk with people about what it is I do. My work expands an array of modalities - psychotherapy, supervision, spiritual direction and artistic expression - while working with unique people from a variety of sectors.

I see individuals in my private practice, and work with pastors, counselors and other compassionate listeners through small groups. My volunteer world finds me co-facilitating spirituality groups at the Recovery Cafe. My training as a SoulCollage® facilitator often plays a role in these venues, as well as in separate workshops for those exploring self-awareness and/or creativity. Speaking opportunities and writing assignments give me the gift of connecting to even larger audiences.

While it can be difficult to succinctly sum up "what I do", Gilda Radner's above quote captures in a few short words the perspective that bridges both my therapeutic and personal worlds. Life is indeed a gift, and I believe we each possess the power to give ourselves a great life. Only we can discover the "glorious uniqueness" of ourselves that comes through self-awareness.

As I pondered further Radner's quote and the question about "what it is I do", the following words rang true for me:

It is my desire to help people empower themselves to live great lives - to connect with their spirituality and/or creativity and most importantly their own personal uniqueness.

Today, I invite you to consider: What does the gift of life offer you? Can you name where or how you feel empowered? Have you allowed "tragedy" to move into your life and let a part of yourself die - spiritually, creatively, uniquely?

I'd love to ponder alongside you.

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