Hopefully thankful

I am so thankful that a friend (thanks Susan!) plugged me into Coursera with its many, many FR*& University courses. And very very grateful for my husband, Jeff, who brings me to such wonderful places to get me away from the computer…

Still, I am presently enjoying myself ploughing through Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and reading poetry that I had only heard of.

It is stretching me and giving me some little self-discipline in paying attention and staying organized somewhat less distract able.

digital camera/photo credit to Jeff Suchak of Mythic Landscape

In fact, I’m so thankful that I’m going to go waaaay out on a limb, like some trembling scarlet leaf, and share my first assignment with you. It is a short essay about Emily Dickinson‘s poem, “I taste a liquor never brewed” which for the sake of ease on your part I have included within this post.

“I taste a liquor never brewed —
From Tankards scooped in Pearl —
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine Yield such an Alcohol!
Inebriate of Air — am I —
And Debauchee of Dew —
Reeling — thro endless summer days —
From inns of Molten Blue —
When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door —
When Butterflies — renounce their “drams” —
I shall but drink the more!
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats —
And Saints — to windows run —
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the — Sun —

“Shook Foil”

One cannot help but be struck with the resonance of this poem with transcendentalism. Other poets such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (who was a visitor in the home where Emily lived) were immersed in transcendentalism, but Emily dances on Ockham’s razor and seems reluctant to fling away her Calvinist Christian roots yet experiences God in the natural world with far greater joy and ease than within the confines of “original sin” which she eschews. Gerard Manly Hopkins manages to stun us with his visceral experience of God in nature in his poem, “God’s Grandeur”[1] from whence I have taken my title for this essay.

This introverted (not ‘shy’) Enneagram Nine woman resists being sucked into the Calvinist vortex of Revival with its social seduction of both earthly acceptance and eternal life with a select few. It is possible to hear these personality traits and the panentheistic (note this is not Pantheistic) leanings of Universalism and Unitarianism which was heavily influenced by her contact with nature and her reading of Emerson and his ilk.

Imagine this young woman who had to leave school – which it would seem agreed with her – and remain in the confines of her home – though some say it was a lifestyle choice. Regardless of the reasons behind her choices, you can hear the abandon of a child set loose in many of her poems, this one in particular for me.

She whirls around with metaphors from both her social world and that of nature. For instance she compares herself as “inebriate of air” on “a liquor never brewed” with the “drunken bees”. Both risk being turned out of the foxgloves by developers who would tame and subdue the wildness of nature – and of Emily?

The “drams” refer to both the nectar sipped by butterflies and a small drink of ‘spirits’ sipped in the parlour by her friends and family after a hearty meal. All of us in both worlds gluttons and drunkards and hence kin of sorts.

The “molten blue” refers to the incredible intense blue of early Autumn and late summer skies – a contrast to that flat pale blue of winter when Emily with her frequent cough and kidney disease would have been ‘caged’ inside her home for fear of exacerbating her condition.

Imagine how free she felt then to be out under that open sky, clouds scudding overhead frolicking in a nearby meadow – a freedom she compares to that of the winged world of bees, butterflies, Seraph and Saints.

The world “reeling” connotes both a dizziness and a dance where logic is overtaken by sheer unadulterated joy and visceral sensation.

Picture the Seraphs swinging their “snowy hats” (halos perhaps?) in contrast to the theological reality[2] of Seraphim[3] and Cherubim who would have been understood to be fearsome and awesome Creatures dwelling in and protecting the place where God resides and not confused with cherubic little angels holding hearts on ribbons in some Valentine’s Day postcard.

Saints too dwell in the presence of God – a light that blazes so brightly that we would be consumed and blinded by it. Yet these heavenly Creatures run to see “the little Tippler – leaning against the Sun.” Could Sun be a play on Son an oblique reference to Jesus Christ? If so, we might imagine that God smiles on Emily as she cavorts with the Creatures of Creation and this is her inside joke with the Jesus who has vacated his “cross” to hold her up and support her – dare we say encourage

Nature’s haiku … “Ghosts”

her – in her literary gambol.

[1] Poem retrieved from the Internet on October 7, 2012 at http://www.bartleby.com/122/7.html/  originally found in Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

[2] I spent two and a half years in a High Anglican seminary and another two years in Francis Sandy Theological Centre (a Christian theological seminary for those working with or of First Nation heritage). The information to which I refer was part of a number of conversations with professors of Old Testament and Theology.

[3] The word “seraph” literally means “burning ones”, they have six wings as described in Isaiah 6:2 “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” Please note that in the Hebrew Testament when the Seraphim, or anyone else for that matter, cover their feet they are actually covering their genitals. Feet is used as a euphemism in “polite” society. Devout Christians of this period were likely knowledgeable about this, hence this image is irreverent and a poke at the stodginess of Calvinism.



Amy Cuddy spoke at TED recently about how your body language changes your mind changes your brain changes your life.

Rick Hanson has taught me so much about how your mind can change your brain can change your relationships, your communication, your life.

And I want to share this I wish to be the change…

I want people who are marginalized by politics, by corporations, by powermongers to hear this.

Can you help me?

Can you share this message?

Maybe together we can change what really matters. Thanks.

Pondering an old red sweater …

Right now I am reading “No Ordinary Time” by Jan Phillips. Well, to be truthful I am not so much reading … as practicing this book. There are ideas, concepts, constructs, words, sentences, musings on every single page that I want to commit to memory, imbue into my cellular structure. This, found on page 195, speaks so intimately to my sense of “At Loose Ends” that I must share it…

Your words and thoughts

are your yarn and knitting needles.

Your life is the afghan, the mittens, the scarf.

If you work with wool and cotton threads

You will never end up with a cashmere sweater.

At first glance our socially constructed dichotomies will cause us to judge wool and cotton threads as “less than” cashmere.

But stop and think for a minute…

Do we all need, want, struggle to attain, desire, feel comfortable in and with a cashmere sweater?

Mostly I like to wrap myself in an over sized wool sweater while I snuggle into the sofa with a good book and a canine companion.

I still have an old red, acrylic sweater that I rescued from the cloImageset of my mother after her death. For years I fondled the hankie left in one of the pockets and was comforted by the scent of Noxema. It quite literally WAS my mother in those letting go times. Now the scent is gone, but still the sweater is pulled from the closet to be worn when I need to let go of feeling like a “motherless child” and yet still feel childlike and cared for and safe.

My mother and I were/are both knitters. Wool is my choice; acrylic hers. We are so different, so alike…a knitted sweater so familiar an object as to be taken for granted (like a mother perhaps) until it becomes necessary. How wonderful to have these lines to bring to recall so much. To feed my soul with the ordinary, the mundane, the trivial…that makes up so much of a rich, full life.

And so this short five lines gives me material to meditate on for years…

Thanks, Jan.


Harvest time…and celebrations.

There is a fuss nowadays in the US about celebrating Christopher Columbus and since it is close to Harvest Sunday (aka Canadian Thanksgiving) i thought of trying to tie these two together.


Because both of these celebrations revolve around a people who are completely forgotten and/or diminished by the celebration itself. In the US they are celebrating an opportunist who turned into a tool for Empire (as Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan use the word. also see Living the Questions). I grant that CC was a product of his culture which was vicious and punitive in trying to win souls for Christ. And even saying that my blood boils, curdles–i am repulsed that most of your ancestors and some of mine came out of that social milieu. But i find it nigh to impossible to celebrate that. Christopher Columbus did not DISCOVER anything but a chance to win favour with the people who pulled strings in Europe. And he was aggressive at self promotion … even if it meant killing thousands of innocent victims … and we know that apparently it did.

Now on to “Thanksgiving” which is celebrated in both the US and Canada though at different times in the Fall season. It can certainly be seen as a Harvest Festival especially in light that the Harvest is a celebration that is pretty much universal. And we can also see that those early arrivals who ended up settling (along with all the other colonialisation and appropriation that that entailed) wouldn’t have made it through the winter without some very gracious help in the form of food, shelter, knowledge, and heaps of kindness. Our history books gloss over this and we nod to this generosity by celebrating a day where most over-indulge. Oh goodness! More greed. This seems to be what this celebration has leaned into. More more more! Yes!

Well, it is time to sit down and think on this. Meditate on the roots of the day you are given off your “work” whatever form that may take.

And if/when you do perhaps you can see that there is a better way to celebrate.

I’d like to point you to a few websites that have helped me to see a better way…

1. Susan Werner’s song: “Plenty and then some” (You can even listen to it if you buy her Live at Club Passim CD … which i strongly suggest you do.)

2. Celebrate instead with “Why Honoring Indigenous Peoples Day Matters” because if you are “standing on the side of love” it really really does.

3. Go for a hike! A real hike, boots, backpack, picnic lunch…instead of stuffing the bird and then stuffing your belly. That’s how we’re going to celebrate this year. We’ve done it in the past and it is a refreshing way to connect and/or re-connect to what is truly important. It also feeds your spirit and if feeds your Buddha brain too! Bonus: it is practically free when you factor in the gas $$ (if necessary to get someplace where you can really really hike) and perhaps a park fee.

4. Go out and help somebody get plenty and then some too!

Hope you have a wonderful wonderful day … practicing Sabbath.

I’ll write on Sabbath practice very soon.

Goin’ down the road…

Jamie Ridler asks her wonderful Wishcasting Wednesday question, “What path do you wish to follow?”

And a song pops into my head…

The line, “I ain’t gonna be treated thisaway.” strikes a chord in me.

That’s the path i wish to follow. Self understanding, self nurturing, self respect. But “sometimes people just want to be critical” and i am reminded of Christine Kane‘s email in my inbox this morning which speaks to just this thing.

Christine explains, “Criticism is never about you. It’s always about the person doing the criticizing.” And so i wish to consciously, mindfully realize that when those painful memories pop up, or when i feel hurt by someone’s words. I wish to give them back to the Universe realizing that i don’t have to own their hurt, their anger, their self-righteous, judgemental attitude…nor do i have to feel compelled to heal their hurt either.

Oh yes, one more thing…again prompted by Christine, “Give up criticizing!” Exactly so, i will wish to stroll away softly, breathing deeply and completely, when i feel compelled to criticize, judge, or give advice that was not asked for. Letting go of that need to fix things, to make peace by bending with every slight breeze that blows my way, i hold fast to my own dreams, my own life…and be at peace.

And lastly i wish to go down that wonderful path with friends who love me unconditionally…especially when they have 4 feet and greet me with a bright doggy smile!

I am looking forward to this Fall hiking with my honey, kicking the leaves, inhaling that wonderful healing scent of the forest, the waves, and the open air.

Join me, join us, and cast your wish today!

Back at the sewing machine

It’s been a great while…indeed too long…since the hum and whirr of the trusty sewing machine was heard around this ol’ house. But I happened upon a video from Teesha Moore got me to thinking about making another fabric journal. Not a fabric book, like this one i made aeons ago for Kate (youngest daughter)

Hebrew letters spell out Jonah

Jonah working in his garden hears a voice

Jonah snaps back, "NO" at the "Voice"

And then he tries to hide...but you guessed it, no such luck

Aboard a ship in the opposite direction to Ninevah, Joppa to be exact

Realizes he is the cause of the storm and urges sailors to chuck him over the side of the ship right into the briny drink!
Caught by a fish…A Very Big Fish!

Swallowed...in the belly of the big fish (for how many days, boys and girls?)

Sorry, i digressed there, didn’t mean to teach a bible lesson. LOL

but this project will be a journal covered in fabric with lots of random sized pages of good weight paper in which to scribe and draw and paint in.

I couldn’t find a couple of starts that would be perfect…but they will show up. So inbetween doing the RBBP i decided to give myself a break and work on this a bit. There will be a lot of hand stitching in this. It will be a work in progress for a while, but since i have made the painful decision to forgo spending a year in London away from home, studying…while couch surfing i might add. No that was the right decision. There is too much else that calls to be done. So i’m off to the studio to stitch for a bit!

What’s going on in my right brain

Working on a right-brain business plan (a wonderful idea from Jennifer Lee) whose book i purchased for my Kindle (which by the way does not preclude fondling books every chance i get).

It’s hard to describe the process with words so i’ll just post a few pics of the signature folders (go here to see what signatures are) …

Tried to insert my sense of humour in what can be a hair-pulling exercise for someone like me who resides much in the right brain. Off to the studio!

If you’d like to see close-ups of each of the 8 signatures (mind you they are nowhere near finished) just comment or email me and i’ll put all the finished signatures with inserted pages up in a future post! Ta Ra! Talk soon! Have a wonderful weekend!

Wishing for … inspiration

“You are looking outward, and above all you should not do so now. Nobody can counsel or help you, nobody. There is one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading its roots in the deepest places of your heart.” ~~Rainer Marie Rilke

It is tempting for me to look elsewhere for answers, but today as i join my tribe and Jamie Ridler for Wishcasting Wednesday in responding to the question that Jamie posed to us, “What inspiration do you wish to follow?” i wallowed around and rattled around grasping for who, what, how i could be inspired.

You see, i was on my way to the hospital to have my right shoulder x-rayed. It’s been paining me for months now and so finally we all decided that an MRI and x-ray was in order. The MRI is almost a month away, but today was x-ray day…and i really wasn’t rejoicing over having my already sore shoulder being manipulated and shot through with nuclear activity. But as it turns out it was easy peasy. So once again i had to remind myself that i do have a tendency to “awfulize” and that i needed to get back into Rick Hanson’s book, “Buddha’s Brain” and get into the practice in earnest.

But that is not who and what i will be inspired by. No. though i have in the past and will again in future days.

No, what i need to heed is the quote i came across quite by accident (though there are none, nor are there any coincidences in my Universe) It is from one of my favourite poets (though the list is admittedly long), Rainer Marie Rilke.

It begins this post. And so i invite you, my tribe, my faithful friends to join me in wishing for me what i am wishing for myself. May it be so!

And let me know what you are wishing for…i’d love to send vibrations of sunshine and hope your way too.

Nourishing dreams…

“There is power in wishing – putting your wishes out there sets mighty forces into action” … Donnaonthebeach

Photo credit to Jeff Suchak @ http://mythiclandscape.com

For the past few weeks i have been joining Jamie Ridler and a great group of wonderful wild women in Wishcasting and it has been wonderful, wondrous, miraculous (dare i even say it aloud?). And i want to encourage anyone who happens upon my blog today, my regular readers, someone who stumbled on to this post by accident…please, do this. Put your wishes, your hopes, your dreams out there…in a safe place, with a tribe who will support you. If you have some real, live, flesh and blood peeps…great on you. If not, find some. We live in a wondrous age when you can feel supported and part of a community though we all live in our own little corner of this beautiful blue marble that is Earth.

It does work. Tomorrow i hope i am home in time from the doc (heck, i might just change my appointment) to participate in a chance to make a dreamboard. I have started collecting things for August full moon’s dreamboard, but that’s not all i want to do.

I want to dream big, bigger than i’ve ever dreamed before. And i want to make it happen…or at the very least help the Universe to open up and let it happen. Nourish my dreams which feed my “business” which is to help people to come together into “tribes” (it’s a metaphor) so that they can nourish their own dreams. I’d like to do this vis à vis (face to face). I want to bring people together in a space and place that nourishes them, to write, to journal, to make beauty in their lives.

Because what i do is important. People depend on me. Most of them don’t even know that yet, but as i nourish this wish or wish this nourishment … they will, in time, come to realize that we can connect and that the result will be exponential to what either of us is or can become. I believe that.

My tribe supports me. My family supports me. So i am going to nourish that belief. And maybe someday, we’ll be together in a retreat centre, sharing peace and blessings, and supporting each other’s dreams, encouraging each other’s self-trust, and won’t that be fine!

May all your wishes be supported. May all your dreams manifest. May you blossom into your very best you! May it be so.

As you wish for yourself, so i too fervently and reverently wish for you!

Wherein i ponder music, diversity, change and other necessities of life

Wishcasting Wednesday once again at Jamie Ridler’s Studio. And as my sisters wish for themselves so i too wish for them!

Yes, once again Wednesday rolls around…seemed to come at me out of the blue this time. Why? I spent a 4 day weekend in London, Ontario at Sunfest. While there i got to remember and realize how much i missed the diversity and creativity of the city i call home. We also attended the wedding of a dear friend who i attended Huron University College (Theology) with.

That said, i do love it here in Owen Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay……much to love… but what i do miss is diversity and creativity.

Not to say there’s any scarcity of creative types, artists abound, but pretty much we all look the same. Difference isn’t tolerated too well here. And i am different.

But i don’t mean to insinuate that there is no hope. And one of my wishes is that those of us who want to propel change will gather together and make that happen. One of the movers in that change is Joshua David Richardson, a local musician who felt there was room for more diversity in the music scene so he started OTHERfolk (website) which is the night before the big hometown summer festival called, aptly enough, Summerfolk (website here). We are working OTHERfolk, come see us at Norma Jean’s from 6:30-10:30, Thursday, August 18th. We are also working Summerfolk… visit us at the Philosopher’s Cafe … actually it is just the Cafe, but i like to call it that! There is music there too. Here is a pic from a couple of years back…from this you can see why i enjoyed working at this venue in the park.

So much for all the plugs…what my wish for today is that i can be a part of the change i wish to see here in Owen Sound. That’s why i came here…well aside from the fact that my husband took a job here…but that was a conscious choice…to come here i mean. He is a photographer (by affection and with great skill) and we have been coming up here to hike the trails and gape in awe at the landscape. It seemed a natural to choose to retire here. I have had many misgivings about that, but i am here now, and for the time being i am stuck here. So instead, of griping, moaning, and berating what is missing here, how stuck in same old, same old, it is here, how many kicks i’ve taken while trying to earn a livelihood…you get the drift…i am wishing that i will learn to love the place as much as i love the natural wildness that surrounds me here.

Any suggestions about how i learn how to make that difference by seeing things in a different light would be more than welcome.