Weathering Mood Swings

It is still cold. We had a day or two of high 80’s but that seems like eons ago. I’d like to say I’m not complaining, just stating facts. The truth is, I am feeling grumpy and growly and crosswise and I AM complaining! But I don’t like myself much when that happens so I decided to funnel some energy into more positive channels. I turned my blue funky mood into this poem.

Mood Swings

Heavy clouds leaking rain
cast cold shadows
across the slice of warmth
streaming through my window.
Steady drum of thunder
accompanies
staccato raindrop notes
pelting the glass.
My mood plummets
to the soles
of my feet.
I contemplate
spoiled plans.
There will be no
walk to the lake
for the outdoor concert.
Not today.
I pull a sweater
tight around my shoulders,
grumbling,
just as the slice of warmth
reappears
streaming through my window.
 

Of course the minute I sat down with my notebook and pen I was mentally in a different place. As I thought about the thunder and the rain and how to describe the way I heard it and saw it and felt it, I forgot to be grumpy. Then, by the time I had finished my poem, the sun was out. So…

I walked to the lake.

Rainbow over Lake Harriet in Minneapolis

Photo by Debbie Donovan

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Reincarnation – Tell me about past lives…

Dewa and I had a long conversation about reincarnation yesterday. I was carrying those thoughts with me as I went about my day and suddenly one line appeared on a mental blank page.  “Tell me about past lives,” it said. I was near a familiar Warung (local restaurant) so I removed my sandals, stepped up to the spotlessly clean white tiled floor, took a seat on a bamboo stool by a bamboo table, pulled my notebook out of my backpack, requested a pineapple juice, and began. Half an hour and a chicken curry dish later I closed my notebook, returned it to my backpack, paid for my $3.00 lunch, retrieved my sandals, and strolled slowly home. Back in my sweet little room I took myself,  my laptop, and my notebook to the balcony and translated the scribbles. The result is this poem.

Journey’s End

.

Was I here before? I want to know.

Tell me about past lives.

Was I a temple prostitute

Or one of the sultans’ wives?

.

Did my cries ring out on a battlefield?

Did I dance to pagan drums?

Was I burned at the stake for my witching ways?

Sometimes a memory comes…

.

Not clear like a snapshot photograph

But wrapped in a cloudy haze

Hinting at something long ago

Reminiscent of ancient days.

.

I seek to know myself, and yet

Can I plumb the depths of these wells

When my soul spans ages of lifetimes

And old knowledge resides in my cells?

.

When the sound of a Celtic fiddle

Makes my feet do an unknown dance

And I already know the Sanskrit words

That the kirtan leader chants.

.

I am trapped in Scandinavian skin

With a penchant for curries and heat.

A crucifix haunts me from behind

While I kneel at Shakti’s feet.

.

The teacher smiled with a knowing

And quietly said, “My friend…

The questions are the journey

The answers are journey’s end.”

.

Sherry Bronson

Bali Morning

How is it that this place makes me feel good from my hair follicles to my toenails?! It was after midnight when I arrived in Ubud after 28 hours en route. Putu met me at the airport as planned and he and Wayan drove me to Ubud (always exciting especially in the dark!) After about an hour we reached our destination. I was led on a path along vine-covered walls and up a short flight of stone steps to my INCREDIBLE hideaway! I think I have the presidential suite! I reserved a single room, you know the kind with the really small bed? Imagine my delight when I walked into a room with a king bed, soaring 20′ ceiling, a huge 8′ wide x 7′ tall window and a door to a private balcony overlooking these views that I shot a few minutes ago. I asked Putu if this is a temporary room or if it is mine for two months. I was quickly assured that it is MINE!

This morning, at dawn, I was sitting right here with my Discovery Pages notebook, writing. Ahhhhh!

The very large window has no glass. No need. The temperature stays between 75 & 85 at all times, day or night. The broad overhanging roof shields the interior from the daily afternoon showers. For security and structural integrity, bamboo poles, about 2″ diameter, are spaced 4″ apart with a screen behind them. That is the only barrier between me and the amazing sounds of Bali morning. Some of the roosters start cockadoodledooing at 3:30 a.m. (Since that is 4:30 p.m. for me, Minnesota time, I am awake and I check the clock!) They are accompanied by the low muttering of ducks and a constant chorus of insect voices. By 5:00 a.m. the whole thing revs up a dozen or so notches when a million birds of unknown species wake up. I heard a new one this morning and I’ve fondly named it the Worry-Bird. In a Yogi Bear kind of voice it says over and over, “UH OH!…UH OH!…UH OH!”

The lightening sky lures me to the balcony with my writing equipment in hand. A few moments later I scurry back inside for my camera, and a few moments after that another scurry to grab the binoculars. There are two indignant birds battling one another over one very special seed in the rice paddy. What a fuss! I’m watching the whole altercation close up. (Thanks mom and dad for the awesome binoculars!)

A breeze carrying the smokey scent of incense tickles my nostrils. I breathe deeply, the thick richness of the air has already brought moisture back into my winter-starved skin.  And suddenly I’m laughing, my belly shaking and joyful tears dripping from my eyes. It is so good to be here!

Revisiting

Last night while I unpacked and re-packed my bags AGAIN, I opened a folder marked “Bali” that I had pulled out of the file drawer about a month ago. I thumbed through the miscellaneous brochures and receipts I had collected on my first trip two years ago. Pertenin Spa where Wayan gave me the most amazing massages was in there, and the jewelry shop where I had a special ring made to commemorate the rite of passage that trip represented for me was also there. I vaguely remembered having seen some pages of writing at the back of the file. Sure enough. There were my entries from the morning I left, snow so heavy you couldn’t even see the lanes on the freeway, to my return twelve days later. After the sensory delights of the tropics, Minnesota from the air might as well have been Siberia.

Scooping up the papers I stretched out on my bed and began to read. By the end I was laughing and crying joyfully. The first few pages were worthy of a travel magazine intent upon selling the wonders of Bali and it took me right back to the magic of that place. But then I began to wax philosophical as I always do, wondering why I didn’t know what I wanted for myself. I had a firm grip on what I did not want and it had manifested abundantly in my life so far. But why, at 60, didn’t I know what I wanted? As I explored that thought utilizing discovery writing techniques over the next few days the tone began to change. “What if I sold my furniture?” I asked myself at one point. “I think I could part with…” and there followed a list of just about everything I own and the reasons why I could let it go. At another juncture I asked myself, “What if I gave myself permission to write?” What if indeed!

As I finished reading the last page I realized that every possibility I had entertained as I wrote in Bali two years ago, had come to pass in my life. Far away from the appearances of the life I had created for myself I was able to engage with a much deeper and more honest place of knowing. As Wayan’s healing hands kneaded away the fear so tightly held in my body, and the slow-paced ritual ways of the Balinese unwound my driven type-A craziness, I saw that what I wanted was simply what I had always wanted.

I returned to Minnesota and tucked my “pages” in a file and forgot about them. But something infinitely powerful had been set in motion. I began to write. I began to sell furniture, a piece at a time. And I began to imagine a life of simplicity and freedom that centered around writing. I had no memory of those pages. I have never re-read them until last night. The power that resides in discovery writing astounds me! My “What if’s” of two years ago are now my reality and I am filled with joy like nothing I have ever felt before. It is as though all the scattered edges have been drawn in, stitched up, and made whole and I have come home, home to myself.

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