Every page was once a blank page

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thW05OAYQLEvery page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices (Quote from: How to Read Like a Writer)

I’m writing an autobiography. You may consider that the ultimate in narcissistic self indulgence but let me assure you, it’s not. It’s a white-knuckle, teeth gritting, experience. And I find that in the process of constructing a narrative around the events of my life from this distance and perspective, I’m reshaping the stories I’ve been telling myself for decades.

It’s an unsettling phenomenon. Writing my life has forced me to choose words to describe characters, situations, and the emotions around them. In order to select those words, I am forced to return to that time and re-live the feelings. But I’m in a much different place now than I was then, so the information I bring to the process casts it in new light.

It’s the ultimate therapy. First I question, Did it really happen that way? and I have to honor what comes up. But when I begin searching for words things get sticky. I go deeper into the emotional memory to find clues for the framing of it. Then without warning, it takes on a different energy. Even though I’m the author…even though it’s my story…the words I choose have such power of suggestion that my understanding of the event expands and I see it with different eyes.

The transformational nature of writing continues to delight me. Turning feelings and thoughts into words changes those feelings and thoughts. Some of the impetus is transferred to the page. It can be a shocking surprise to read what comes out of my pen, or the keys of my computer. When that happens, a delicious thrill shivers through me. It’s as though a hidden part has been revealed, a secret I wouldn’t otherwise share.

I have filled this blank page with countless large and small deliberations. Words. They’re what I love about writing!

Writing for Self-Discovery — Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreat March 15-21, 2015 in Bali

A Downward Dog View of Yoga

The ex-pats in Ubud have an uneasy relationship with the yoga crowd that floods the streets with nubile bodies in leggings and sports bras. There are good reasons for this. I’m guessing that the median age of the ex-pat population here approaches 70 so maybe there’s just a speck…a smattering…of jealousy? But to give them credit, these people did not grow up in the era of self-discovery with the influx of mystical influences from the East. Even some of the younger ones roll their eyes and avoid organic and raw food restaurants known to cater to the heightened awareness  crowd.

So this morning when I opened an e-mail from my sister in Northern Minnesota, and read a poem she wrote recently, I knew I had to post it for two reasons: first, she’s a great poet and has published her work in a book, Musings of a Damsel, Reflections of a Crone (click the link to see more), and second, because it’s so true and I knew if I could relate then many others would too.

My Inner Eye
by Gwen Lee Hall (pen name: Wendolyn Lee)

My friend is into yoga; she practices faithfully.
She tells me it’s done her a world of good, and it would be good for me.

I resist, but she has an answer for every excuse I know.
Yoga can take me places I never dreamed I’d go.

It will open my breath, open my mind, teach my soul to fly.
I’ll see things I’ve never seen before when I open my inner eye.

And so I cave. I buy the mat. I learn a pose or two,
And sure enough, the part about my inner eye is true!

Downward Dog on the livingroom floor, I see popcorn under the chair,
Dust bunnies under the sofa, wads of puppy hair…

So today I’m getting my exercise with a dustpan and a broom,
Seeing things I’ve never seen, right here in my livingroom.

Thank you my friend; I now include yoga in my routine.
My inner eye gets a workout, and my livingroom is clean.

Drinking from Blackwater Pond

black-water-pond-john-gusky

black-water-pond-john-gusky

Mornings at Blackwater
by Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.

I may have said this before, Mary Oliver is my hero. She surprises me. She uses common words in uncommon ways so I have to pay attention. I can’t get lazy and just assume I know where she’s going.

This poem is particularly significant as I prepare for the Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreat in Bali. Ms. Oliver speaks of ‘the dry bowl of the very far past,’ and ‘the river of your imagination…the harbor of your longing.’ Then she urges that you ‘put your lips to the world and live your life.’

What I love about this is that you realize from her beginning stanza that the world is Blackwater Pond. It isn’t clean or clear. Rather, the trees weep their leaves into it’s depths. Wild creatures swim and feed in it’s murkiness. It’s gritty and real, and this is what she suggests that you put to your lips and drink. 

When you do that, as she did every day, you connect with the present and move beyond the distresses of the past. You begin to see things differently, to imagine, and to dream, until finally you are capable of making different choices. You begin to live your life.

Give yourself permission to let go of whatever is holding you back. Don’t allow the past, or your perception of the present, or your mistrust of the future, to confine you.  Your life can be so much bigger than that.

Destination:DreamCatcher!

 

What if….?

Sometimes I wonder…

What if I’d taken that job with Pan Am Airlines and had become a flight attendant at age 19? How might my life have been different?

That’s a wasted What if. It’s in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome of that decision. But there is tremendous power in a What if that imagines something different in future time. A What if is the first step toward change. Often it’s fleeting, a mere shadow puppet that dances indistinctly through the mind. But it leaves traces of itself that bring about random ideas and a niggling discomfort that perhaps there’s something I could be doing differently? Perhaps there’s something waiting for me that will manifest when I realize what it is.

What if I could do something I loved instead of this job that’s killing my soul?

What if I could be mentally, physically, emotionally healthy?

What if I could get out of debt?

What if…?

The reason why those thoughts rarely change anything is because they’re overridden by old programming that sounds very much like, it won’t work, I’m too old, too young, too tired, it’s no use, I’ve tried before, I’m too broke, it’s too late, it’s a silly thought, I’m better off than most, why can’t I just be satisfied?

That programming is solid, unyielding, and unconscious for most of us. It grew out of our first impressions of the world before we were old enough to filter information. It’s buried deep in our subconscious and it informs every single decision we make. It’s the reason we have thought patterns, and patterns of behavior that repeat, sometimes beneficial ones, too often destructive ones. It determines the kind of people we attract to us. In a nutshell that programming runs the show.

To ask the What if questions and to allow them to become dreams before the programming shuts them down, requires help. Take a look at my life and tell me about patterns!

Married and divorced five times

Pulled up stakes and moved every two years or less

Rarely stayed in a job for more than a year

Lived from paycheck to paycheck

Accumulated credit card debt

Wore a happy face that masked the emptiness inside

Then three of my closest friends died within a year, all younger than me. It shook me to the core of my being. I asked myself, If you were told that you would die tomorrow, would you have regrets? In a terrifying flash I knew that not only would I have regrets, I would feel as though I hadn’t yet lived. That my years had been spent living someone else’s life.

That was then.

The journey from there to here was taken in incremental, logical, strategic, and sometimes serendipitous steps. As discovery writing exposed old programming and uncovered my truth I knew what to do and when to do it. I entered a kind of effortless flow that exhilarated and amazed me.

And it brought me to a dream that is bigger than anything I could have imagined back when I started to rethink my life. My definition of happy now looks nothing like what I accepted as happy before. I have connected with my path, a calling, a life purpose and the joy in that is indescribable. Utterly indescribable.

My dream is only mine. It isn’t everyone’s idea of bliss to move to the other side of the world and live on a tropical island. (How cliché is that?!) But it is everyone’s dream to be happy, to live a fulfilled life in tune with your reason for being.

Yesterday my daughter e-mailed my Tantric Numerology Reading for 2015. It spoke to thoughts that have been weighing in on my consciousness for the past few months. And it affirmed my desire to pass the information I’ve learned on to others:

You cannot accept and use your gift unless you feel that you deserve it. Remember, this gift is already yours. Relax, use it and enjoy it. Your gift is the ability to teach. You will find it easy and pleasurable to teach others through your actions and words. ( http://www.3ho.org/tantric-numerology-reading)

As I read this the truth of it settled into my bones. “Yes,” I said. “Of course.” And the inevitable tears trickled down my cheeks.

Come to Bali in March, 2015, for my Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreat and let me help you identify old programming that isn’t serving you, move it out, and make room for something new. Assisting you as you chase down those What if’s and turn them into reality is in line with my life’s purpose. I didn’t go through all that effort just for myself. I want and need to share what I know with others.

Put it on your calendar…Bali – March 15 – 22, 2015…What if…?!

For more information click here: Destination:DreamCatcher! Retreats

Orchids Narasoma

 

My Top Ten Resolutions for 2015

* 1) Don’t forget how to be still and stare off into space P1070437 2) Trust your gut and follow its guidance photo 3) Remember every day to be grateful for exactly where you are P1080226 4) Allow the abundance to flow through you to others P1080117 P1070406 5) Accept help gracefullyPriest applying the ash to my forehead 6) Ask for help when you need it P1080495 7) Hog your peace: don’t over-extend and don’t over-commit P1070797 8) When you’re uncertain, wait. Don’t be pushed into a decision before you’re ready IMG_7947 9) Continue to be a student of life…and love P1040793 P108040310635758_10152536452433037_2535777418164997883_nunnamed 10) Live your truth!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

A Roof of Sorrow

Yesterday, dread settled on me

like a roof of sorrow.

I counted my money

though I already knew what was there.

“It isn’t enough,” I moaned to the roof.

And the roof agreed, “It isn’t enough.”

All day my mind belabored the lament

until it sounded like truth.

Sleep was late coming.

But when I woke to the sounds I love

and the place I love

with sunrise blowing through the curtains

like a promise,

the roof was laughing.

“There’s more than enough,” it said.

“There’s so much more than enough.”

And I saw  with blinding clarity

that money is only a thought,

the abundance or lack a mere idea

with which I can choose to torment

or bless myself.

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Sherry Bronson 12/19/2014

Which way to Versailles? The bride wants to know!

The subway doors whooshed shut behind us and we settled into cozy little groups for the 45 minute ride to quite possibly the most magnificent chateau ever imagined. The coach rocked rhythmically back and forth between stations with romantic names.

Earlier I’d slid the Jessica Simpson Boots onto my feet, praying that the night’s sleep had erased their memory of torture. That wasn’t the case however, and the moment I tried to walk I knew that I’d have to find alternative footwear for the rest of the time in Paris. I scanned the room hoping for…what? I’d brought my blingy slip-on sandals for wedding attire, the JS Boots for walking, and that’s all. Except…there, skulking like naughty kittens peeking out from under the bed, were my shabby black Merrell sandals.

“But it’s too cold to wear those,” I argued with myself.

“You bought warm socks in the market…”

“I refuse to wear sandals with socks!”

“Suit yourself, I’m just sayin’ you want to be comfortable? Those butt-ugly sandals are the most comfortable things you’ve got goin’ sweetheart!”

I found the socks, pulled them on and strapped my feet into the sandals. Ahhhh…heaven!

So rocking along in the tube with happy feet, I noticed Joy’s face. Joy’s face wears her thoughts without filter. When she’s happy, light radiates through her skin. She glows. When she’s sad, liquid brown puppy-eyes break your heart. But this was neither of those and I instantly knew that something wasn’t quite right. Intensity crackled and sparked around features that were frozen in concentrated focus. It was her problem-solving face. As the train slowed she jumped out of her seat.

“Everybody get off here!” she commanded, and without question we stood as one body and sluiced out the door.

“Hurry…the other side…yes, that’s it…get on!”

At some point as those sexy French names flashed by, she had realized our train was going the wrong direction. That little foible in her plans didn’t rattle her in the least. Once again I felt love and pride well up in my heart. Her competence, her smart easy way of turning a situation around without drama or fuss, impressed me right down to my ugly black socks!

We departed the train and followed the crowds for the five minute walk. Passing through a stand of trees the grandeur of the grounds and buildings of Versailles lay in a hazy sprawl before us.

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P1080490Joy handed us our tickets. We moved quickly along the corral, passed through a scanner and entered the vestibule. Twelve people with distinctly different passions cannot be expected to absorb the sights at the same pace. We agreed to meet in the courtyard at 4 p.m. The group evaporated like morning mist.

The gardens were closed when I saw Versailles for the first time. I mentioned that to Jessa and Dan.

“Let’s go to the gardens then,” they said. “But first the Hall of Mirrors…”

P1080485Perhaps even more spectacular than I remembered, the glittering, over-the-top extravagance of that room makes sense of the French Revolution. Let them eat cake, said Marie Antoinette when the peasants bemoaned that they had no bread. Royalty cavorted, feasted and played at Versailles while the people grew hungry and furious. They no doubt cheered when her head rolled from the guillotine.

Gardens and food were on the agenda as we passed, jaws gaping, through the queen’s bedchambers and room after damasked, draped, over-decorated room pressed into the herd of other bedazzled lookers. Finally we spilled through the exit into fresh open air. Checking our map we noted the spoon and fork sign near the Petit Trianon, the private residence of Marie Antoinette.

“Shall we?” one of us asked.

“Let’s!”

So off we went to the area of Versailles where two teachers from St. Hugh’s College in Oxford, England, visited in 1901 and saw things and people that hadn’t existed since 1789. As we strolled through a landscape grayed and damp, it wasn’t difficult to imagine losing our way, stumbling on a different path, and ending up one-hundred years in the past. Such adventures need fortification, however. We decided to eat first.

P1080486P1080487P1080489Have you ever in your life seen French Onion Soup like this?! Mama Mia!!! Is it any wonder I gained ten pounds in five days? And of course we didn’t JUST have French Onion Soup. We had hot mulled wine and the apple custard tart for dessert.

Versailles is an amazing place that occupies a significant part of European history. It was a fitting finish to a fairytale wedding week. Joy and Kellen, thank you! You planned and executed an exquisite event. And to repeat once again, the words of my blessing for you:

May your troubles be manageable,

may your heats remain true,

and may your lives be blessed with peace, abundance, and JOY!

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