Sitting with my Grandma,”Shhhh! Now listen”. Her smile is remembered. Loretta Lynn singing on the small television, being interviewed and my admiring her long dark hair. My cousins were restless and she sent them outside with sweet tea, moonpies and I stayed beside her. The Grand Ole Opry! Being poor and working one’s way to the top is an achievement many country music fans or mindful humans can appreciate. I didn’t feel poor or that life was a struggle; Grandma came from a very well-mannered family and kept us close, often saying,”not our people”, when I asked questions about others I was all in a quandry with.”Mind your business; we have enough with each other”. I always wondered how Loretta Lynn knew anything about coalminers; all dolled up with ribbons in her hair, long braids and frilly, detailed dresses she did not seem to me to be simple or wanting in anyway. It’s dark tonight on Sweden’s west coast and my days in Nashville seem light years away; I want to believe that Loretta is soaring above us, having a look at Mars, smiling and humming in peace. Women become strong through experience, fighting for their words to be heard and sung. I feel a warmth, a sense of peace knowing she had such a good life by just being herself. What if we all could just be humble, gracious, kind and appreciate our lives? Wouldn’t that be something? I can’t play a guitar. If I could I would take my hidden wings, stuff banana and chocolate moonpies, RC cola and warm grits with butter and salt into my backpack, strap my Fender over my shouder and rise amongst the stars. There I’d see Mrs. Loretta waiting and she’d pat the ground beside her, invite me to sit beside her and we’d sing with her long dark hair flowing in sync with eternity. Actually, I think she wouldn’t care whether I could play guitar. I can carry a tune. She may be our best example of “the salt of the earth”, now an iconic memory that changed music and hearts forever. Maybe Grandma would be there, too and I’d surprise her with all my southern goodies. We wouldn’t be tired, or sick or old. Just three strong women, free from adversity and strife sipping our cola, eating warm grits and unwrapping moonpies on Mars.
Four a.m. rain, nine celsius; usually perfect sleeping time for this weathered woman. Sipping ginger tea, disturbed by my relentless coughing, I avoid my bed and waking my husband who needs to work in two hours. From my soft sofa, a burgundy wine red, drowsiness sets in. Plumped up with pillows under an old cosy quilt I stare out a window into the black where the opposite panes behind me are lit with led lights and reflect before me. I want to be small, a Christmas Eve long ago and my mother to be sneaking around, making my morning perfect. She eats the cookies and downs the eggnog, maybe wonders if she’s got it right. Is she enough? Would this have been her little girl dream? Her’s weren’t doused in decor, perfection and excitement leading up to morning fun. My dog with her red bow, the pancake batter, fruit before stockings, albums pre-stacked, ready to drop one after the other, Bing Crosby always first. She has pretty cards on my bonus Dad’s plate and mine. She knows I will wake early and probably puts the coffee maker’s little paper bag in and pours the water, only needing to wake, push the button and join me under the tree. I too, tried to get it right year after year. People pleasing I learned from Mom. It never felt right except when I finally became a mother. I had a doggie too, a red bow, pancakes and coffee. The first year, so perfect. A four month old, the first husband smiling while opening his new sweater as our baby made sweet sounds on a soft blanket in front of the crackling fire. No hoopla. Just a new bone for our dog, the gift of motherhood and dreams were full, all good, with smiles; it would be perfect. That first Christmas as a mother I held my cherub and we watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Each sleepless night was a dream come true then with the long awaited child. Life in the world could be imperfect yet I would forge on, recreating reasons to be joyful, to see good and not look at the late night reflections. It was another morning, at forty years old, a Christmas of struggles and loss; my five year old watching “The Snowman” and cuddling with our doggie, sippy cup with apple juice in hand and already asking for peppermint sticks. I was a woman, staring at the deep Vermont snow with more coming down. This had been all I wanted. Why was I feeling it was impossible to make my husband learn to love through adversity, not resent the world for turning us upside down. Couldn’t we right it again? He’d lost his job the previous autumn and being post 9/11, despite his impeccable skills as an electrical engineer finding work was a dead end; he was Arabic. We’d met in a university town, he a foreign student working on his master’s and a brilliant graduate teaching fellow. He also was in charge of the cartography library and was a quiet, gentle soul. Being from north Africa he was working toward success, his culture beautiful in so many ways we learned to incorporate it easily into our life via cuisine. To this day my young adult’s comfort food is cous-cous with cinnamon and butter. That Christmas it all changed. He sat angry, not hiding his feelings as our child opened presents he resented my buying. I had worked as a writer for two local papers, taken care of those in palative care in their homes and even cleaned someone’s house each week. The bills became monster’s and no matter the music, or the lights on the tree softly lighting each evening he fell into a place that had no room for my dreams or his own. I had pleased and pleaded to keep hope alive and soon I no longer knew how to set the table just right, smile in the wake of tears, cheer up anyone at all. I had failed. Did my mother feel she had failed, too? Did she wish she knew all the answers? I had left home at sixteen and broke her heart. How could I ever fix that? I knew I had to change my own approach. My husband found a job in another state and I stayed behind, afraid to follow I took a small apartment in an old Victorian house in a new town. On weekends he would drive to see us and for awhile I thought maybe it could work. I looked for work and nothing was available with a child and no one reliable to help me out. The story is one of those that many know, you are somewhere, uncertain and just taking baby steps and holding out for an epiphany. Mine came about in a very long and loaded journey, a new country, messy Christmases that I couldn’t fix, clashes of cultures, always bending, trying, pleasing and believing in miracles. Now I feel much older than I am, often in poor health, I dread everything, every holiday as I know it can’t be like it was when I ran from my room, hugged my mother and bonus dad and let my doggie open her present first. I look at the sky now, it’s beginning to show a deep yet slowly lighting blue. The led lights on a timer will click off and I will make coffee. My second husband of fifteen years will wake and ask how I am feeling and then he will work. I will worry about my NOW. Not yesterday or tomorrow. I hope for nothing much but for my young adult to find their path, to be okay and content like that very first Christmas cooing with baby toes high in the air. I want this family, despite the buried knowing of what this “wonderful life” can do to each and everyone of us, to recognize our love is NOW. I stopped wanting it all, however I do keep believing that pancakes and coffee can turn things around. Good morning! Lm and Rock are cheering all of you on. May you stumble into something good, just right and feel the way you need.
I am right with you, aligned as Ursa major and minor as the whole universe continues pulling us towards Love. Keep sharing, keep the voices of women before us alive. Feel unheard? Say it louder. Shout from your guts, CRY. Stay vigilent, mindful of your own inner work. No one can take your powers away unless you hand them over. SHINE. MOURN. Support other women in their struggles, be a woman’s woman, a teacher, a student, carry TRUTH as your flame. Stand up for your beliefs, run from insipid gossip, protect our tribe. Contribute loyalty, sing and play. We are the givers of life, the arches that span like rainbows, we are the gem other’s seek, we dig our hands in the Earth’s soil from every land. When weariness takes us down, rest upon the lap of love, honor your emotions, they need not be sacrificed for anyone. Bleed, bleed , bleed. Breathe deep, call out to the silver stars, the full moon light. Kneel with gratitude as we harvest what we’ve sowed. Mabon is upon us, the cyclical switch is eternal. Place your hope on the table, feel the change within your seasoned soul. Give. Live. Sunbeams, dawn, redgold leafs lie upon your mantal, for tis nature that earns the highest of all awards for her sacred healing, her mysterious essence, her endless ability to keep the house in order, the home in our hearts beating. Blessed Be.
Listen….hold your loved ones tighter. Okay. Those who love tf out of you and stick around through the good, the bad, the ugly. Hold them close to your heart. Let them know you appreciate them. Reciprocate that love and support. There are a lot of people who cannot and will not be able to handle the baggage you carry but there are those that will. Even if it’s one person…that’s your fuxking person, man. Love them. Cherish them. Hold them tighter. Those connections are RARE. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t let them slip away.
UP, in the light, beyond all of eyesight is where our love lives. It is a beacon, a safe place where we retreat and are one. Each night you breathe in and out, the sound of your heart beating holds me, your warm flesh near mine soothes me, the smell of us is a new constellation. I am awakened and driven to tell the whole Universe our story yet I am insecure and hold onto us like I will never find you again. I want to hide you in a special place, a beautiful space with all your favorite things. I want to live and be strong and keep us, our starlit passion and dreams alive. Am I failing or falling as I lose part of me to pain, past afflictions, and a mirage of memories? Please don’t forget me if I spin off into a black hole, remember how I adore you and believe in more than me. Behind this galactic beauty is another world where we will be released from the boundaries of humankind; we shall be the stars of our own Odyssey, the dancers waltzing to a song we have composed whimsically and we will shine, oh how we will shine. Our love is our faith in one another, our destiny is enraptured without haste, we come together to be. To be. Be. A Lover’s concerto, a newly formed star that sparkles into the eyes of those still searching for truth. Our love will surpass earthly constrictions, lifting us to heights we do not fear. Don’t be afraid my Love; you are my wings.
Bound by societal conformation we adorn our fingers with proof we are part of another; we have consigned within ourselves to be part of a whole. As a pair, wedded or not, both persons give part of their sentient “SELF” away. Inside the heart’s overflowing bloody pool many are tredding and desperatly clinging to reach the shore and shake off the idea of identifying themselves as seperate; like a wet labrador retriever humans often dedicate their entire lives to this bigger entity called marriage. Leashed, we toddle along and are faithful to our significant other in roughly 75.9% of human to human relationships. Yet, what if you were never whole on your own to begin with? Entrapped like a caged chimpanzee, your inner being never came forth. Lm was and is still hidden under layers of sediment and has never been set completely free. What does freedom really mean? How does her dedication to another feel when she is only a ghost of herself? Lm is not bound by religous doctrine and her insecurities wrestle with her pride daily. Why do people hide behind their roles, children or religion? What exactly is friendship? What makes one fear being who they are? Rock allows Lm much freedom to explore without guidelines. As far back as I can remember I have been shocked when others hurt me. It’s as if I have no shield between the real world and my heart. If I am betrayed I am not very good at forgiving. Where does this come from? I recently opened a door to a haunting memory at a southern USA summer church camp. I had one good friend joining me on this adventure and there would be new youth from all over the state of Tennessee to converge into this lovely, peaceful setting. I had my menstruation as I recall and was in much pain and couldn’t get in the pool. In the girl’s dorm before lights out I wrote in my journal and slipped it under my pillow each night. I described breakfast, vespers by campfires, the piney smell of the forest and my activities of the day. Each night at the campfire there was a boy who I thought was very cute and had a mean crush on. Note to all blossoming empathetic beings, never leave your journal where it can be found by others or in particular, don’t trust that good people won’t do bad things. I looked daily at the activity sign up sheet and made sure I was in whatever group he was going to be in that day. I laughed at his jokes, smiled with my shiny braces and always looked to see where his eyes wandered around when we met for campfire sharing before bedtime. My friend who came with me was very outgoing and had a sense of confidence I did not. She was the oldest of in her family of three sisters and one foster brother. We did not attend the same school however so my relationship with her was built on our both being in the loosely labeled ” Non-Denominational Christian Youth Group” in my part of the state. She would call me and ask if I was going to youth group each week and if I was going our mothers took turns picking us up. We also took ballet, tap and jazz dance lessons together and mall walked on Saturday nights together sometimes. She would become to me the monumental meaning of ” two-faced”, a term used in school amongst clicks talking about who could and could not be trust worthy. The depth of my innocence and lack of competence in social circles hadn’t hit me yet. I was not only the naive one in most situations but also the silly one. If I had no idea what to do I would make others laugh. Laughing was and is a good thing unless you become the target of others cruel wit. As camp neared the end of the two week stint I shared with my friend who had taken the long bus trip to western Tennessee with me that I had a crush on this boy. Unbeknownst to me was she already knew. Customary at camp was to give our new friends our addresses and many took photos. I asked my friend to please get a photo of me with this sweet boy and I would then suggest we exchange addresses. I stood as close to him as possible and he draped his right arm behind my neck and over my shoulder in full camp pal mode. I got his address and ran back to tuck it into my journal. What? Where was my diary? A sting swelled in my cheeks as if I had been slapped and tears broke loose. We were to all sit on the cabin steps for a group photo and I didn’t go back out. My youth counselor came in to find me and asked me why I was upset. As I told her my journal was missing she said that surely it must have fell behind my bunk bed when I was packing my things to go home and she would help me find it after. Teenage or middle aged trigger warning bells are chiming. I sit down and my friend asked me what was ” that all about?” and I told her. After the group’s picture was taken we were to pick up our lunches prepacked in the dining hall to eat on our buses home. I ran to get mine and as I was heading back to my room I saw my counselor with my journal in her hand; she always had a happy smile that all youth group leaders have, “I found it on the lower bunk.” I was grateful but certainly confused. We loaded our bus to the Nashville suburbs and my crush boarded his bus to far eastern Tennessee. My friend sat next to me and we ate our Lay’s potato chips first and giggled about different things we’d experienced all the way home. When we got off the bus I gave her a hug, never expecting it to be my last. I gave my film to my mother to have developed when she was driving. She stuck it in her purse and asked me lots of questions. I couldn’t find words to talk to my mother. I wanted to say I had a crush on a boy and I froze. I never could openly talk with my mother and I wasn’t about to start then. Days before school was to start my mother came home from work with my camp pictures developed. Excitedly I looked at each one and threw away the ones blurry with my big thumb also in them then, wait! What was this? My mother was near but busy making dinner yet she heard my outburst of tears and saw me run to my bed and do a full face down on my mattress kicking my legs and sobbing. She couldn’t understand my words but kept asking what was wrong. She looked at the picture and didn’t see what I did. As my photo was examined my TRUST, my Loyal Beagle friendship myth was broken. There I was with the boy who I had a secret crush on that only one person knew about. My holier than thou church pal who’d taken the photograph had also not only read my journal but given it to him to read also. There I stood like a fool, the rush of being close to this boy had my eyes reflecting my giddiness and well, the boy with one arm around my neck hanging over my shoulder had his other hand pulling my journal out from under his tee-shirt from the back. Yes, my friend took this photo and had shared my secret. Trust crumbled and I was unconsolable. On youth group night I overheard my mother speaking to my ex-friend’s mother about who was driving and I ran to her and motioned for her to cover the wall phone’s speaker. I blurted out I wasn’t going because I had a headache. My mother finished her conversation and hung up. A headache. She felt my head. I didn’t feel warm. I got out of this one night of humiliation yet I did not get out of my life sentence of anxiety when attempting to make new friends. To this very day that memory still comes up. I still take on the smiling persona that Rock helped Lm build to bravely navigate through social situations and sadly, this would not be my first lesson on friendship and meaningful communication. I would be hurt again and again because I cared too much. Today’s goal is strengthening my boundaries and my family which I have built on one solid foundation, Love and Trust. I am a good friend to hold onto however, without doubt I will remain in my stairwell peeking out at anyone new who wants to try to know me. I am still recovering. Still easily bruised and I am still fighting to understand what makes Lm happy.
An angel from nature saw me sinking and swiftly pulled me through the fog. I had waited and waited for you to call. I heard sweet birds cooing and left my tears on the stone path to dry, for the beauty of my surroundings were stronger than my sigh. Rumbling in the trees a tiny deer appears nibbling on a plum tree bud with it’s tiny little ears. I do not frighten her for she knows we are one. I repeat “I am special”, “I am kind”, “I am full of love to give to all mankind”. LittleMe rises up from my deepest darkest space and ROCK quickly makes a move and puts her back in place. I will not let my love be taken by those who dare not see that I am grateful for myself, I at least still have me.
Dancing with Eyes Closed; Accepting Pain as Part of Me.
In the morning there are yellow dandelions surrounding me, lifting me up with a wash of spring hope. I am rinsed in the sun’s warm rays and feel determined. I always think I will feel better than I actually do. Is that my own stupidity or perpetual stubbornness? I dress and make it to the rich Italian red wine sofa and prop my legs up on a stack of pillows. The pain starts just after I proclaim, “I am better!” and I succumb to my surroundings. The walls are a light gray panel of wood, the ceiling white, the old barn’s tin roof I can see from the sofa is a rusty burnt red with brown dried clumps of moss separating it into unsightly squares. My pain I feel is visualized as an electric zap of steel, sharp silver, shooting up my legs and my silent scream is a maze of terrestrial hues. Pain shares with me every drop of it’s colour, of it’s beauty and it’s sorrow; like the northern lights and milky way it is so breath taking and hard to believe that it is real. Living in a state of chronic pain is anxiety provoking. My mind is a puree of sounds and I am often perplexed. Why can’t I be fixed? Why must my colours be so rare and overworked? My self portrait is black and white as I spilt any hope of beauty out onto the porous surface beneath me. “My pain”, I said to the chronic pain psychologist, “I’ve accepted.” My mind lied that day. I hate it, I hate my body and my bruises both superficial and within. No amount of prayer or drugs give me peace and like the wild scribbling made by a toddler with crayons I lay in a chaos of colour; I am a bottle with layers of dripping wax from many different tints of candles. I am beneath the surface, beneath the beauty, buried in a colour of pain. My eyes close and I stare at the daylight as if my eyelids were window shades. I don’t see why I should open my eyes except to write this pathetic complaint that haunts me. I want to be a happy rainbow one more time. One more moment of brilliance is all I ask. Like any desperate lover, Pain beckons me back, takes hold of me and says, ” I will never leave you alone again.”
Soon he would say goodbye, doubtful his first taste of love would wait; boarding on the longship would begin at sunrise after two more nightfalls. He was not at ease nor feeling dutiful to set sail, his rough, calloused hands had been assigned to row, his grey eyes already set on defeat. In the chilly night he and his lover kept warm under a sheath of tanned hide; a warm fire encircled with stones lit up their faces. His lover was cold, she had been sweating earlier and she shared with him that perhaps she was carrying his baby. It had been two moons since her last cleansing. He held her close and rubbed her hands in his own. All night he stayed up, keeping the fire crackling and he called for a wise woman to look at his betrothed. He was given garlic for his neck and a tonic that tasted bitter as nettles to sip. He must prepare to board the longship and not fall ill. The woman wiped carefully with cool cloths the forehead and the nape of his lady’s neck and said she should be moved to the women’s tent so he too might rest. He was reluctant yet never questioned this miracle of her gifts from the God’s and believed in the sunrise of his departure his love would encircle him with the other strong women and sing a prayer to the heavens. At last he fell asleep and the fire dwindled. He was a large man, of long height with a wooly red beard; for years he had been called to help others lift heavy logs, roll stones and fell trees for boat building. His stomach grumbled and his dreams brought him no peace. His eyes closed, his mouth agape, a gurgling snore erupted. Deep within his dream state he saw his own mother, her pale white face, her eyes weary yet loving; she spoke. “Son of Gudrun, son of Ove, lift your spirit up to see. It’s been eighteen moons since we saw you. Your sister Ulla is here, too. Their faces were like a portrait in beautiful pastel inks. The heavens were soft as the first spring day when the sight of white and purple forest flowers burst through the edges of the footpath, gay as the laughter of friends when the sun was long in the sky, days were easier, their heart’s lightened by the dark winter’s end. Time for merriment and the smell of baking bread, the homecoming of the longship, strong fermented ales and hearty stews and loaves of bread with berries he could taste so sweet; stirred he woke with a gasp. One sunrise had come. He stood and walked to the women’s healing tent and the flaps were sewn shut with thick leather. “Naaaaay”, he screamed and he ran to the morning fire keepers boiling coffee and sharing porridge. Breathless, he asked if his lady was in the tent still. Blue eyes looked at one another and down. He knew the answer. He kicked the first iron pot and it swung from it’s iron chains molted flawlessly by the black smith and his apprentice. Hot scalding water splashed and the men jumped back. An old man who laid on sheep skin by the fire called for him to sit by him. His heart rapid, his cheeks red with rage, he succumbed to his elder. ” What can you say to comfort me?” The man, thin and weak voiced motioned for the giant, frightened man to sit beside him. “Are you the son of Gudrun and the sister of Ulla?” The old man already knew but asked even so. “Ya, I am.” Do you think, son of Ove that your father created such acts of arrogance when the God’s called his wife and daughter up?” Silence. “What name did they leave you?” “I am Per Ove’s son.”Well Per Ovesson do you dare to guess the will of the heavens? Are you in fear of the sea and hunger? Are you a messenger or do you serve?” ” I serve.” The so very big man, Per, son of Gudrun and Ove, brother of Ulla wept. The elderly man handed Per a smooth stone to rub and called for porridge. The big man, the thin elder and the fire keepers stood close. One by one they placed a hand on his shoulder and walked on. Night fell again and he laid by his fire alone sipping the bitter nettle tea. He did not want to dream and the silence soothed him. It had been nine cut logs when a woman he’d never seen came to stand before him. “You may see your lady now”. His lips felt numb, his eyes ashamed and he said, “Why do you want me to feel more pain?” The woman outstretched her hand and he stood. When they came closer to the tent the woman lifted the flap and there lay a clump of deep red flesh upon his lover’s abdomen. He moved closer and felt confused. Take the flesh and all of it’s blood and bury it deep in the forest. His lady did not breathe and small stones were on each eye. He did as told by the healer. Without sleep and it being soon the second sunrise he fought to keep focused on his task. Big tears from a big man with the heart of a child fell steadily down his face. When he returned he went to his fire to sleep and there sat the woman again with a white bundle of heavy fur. She stood and handed him a baby. “How can this be? My lady only missed two moons.” The woman smiled and said, “the God’s were good” and asked him to bestow a name before he sat sail. In a state of both sorrow and beauty he said, ” this is the son of Per, the son of Lea. He shall be blessed with the name of Liam.” The woman promised him the babe would be well fed and when he returned the baby would be his comfort. Per kissed his son’s forehead and slept with him in his arms until sunrise. The healers had prepared Lea’s body to be sent to sea where she would be taken up to the God’s quickly. He held one side of his love’s canvas and birch sewn raft. He did not weep for she had left him reason to believe that more would come to be good. The women sang as the longship prepared to launch. The sky was yellow and afire with sunrise. The horns blew and he pulled in unison with his mates. By sunset they placed Lea on her raft and she floated away from the boat, away from the father of Liam, the son of Ove, the son of Gudrun and the brother of Ulla. In the night the high waves plunged over the stern and wailed upon the starboard, the longship albeit strong rocked with brutal fervour. Per was the lead, each pull he thought of Liam, each horn he heard his mother calling. The God’s were trying his strength in a way he never had experienced, he was not only strong in his body now but also in his soul. The storm settled and he was sent to rest. A cool wind soothed his sweaty bruised hands and his lips cracked from the salty winds from the North Sea leaked sweet bits of blood. His thirst was mighty and he was given water with herbs to keep him quiet. His cough came on fast, deep and he heard other’s coughing, too. He spat green, thick phlegm into the sea. He hung his head over, the winds cooling his dizzying state. The head of the ship was also spewing a sickness from his body over board. Few men could guide the longship, and one by one they fell, coughing, wailing in pain, and now hope had no place for them. Another night would come, a morning with many deaths and each one was set free to float amongst the creatures that both fed on them and nourished their loved ones. Per Ovesson would be the last man to go. He ensured all were met by the God’s who knew better than he the true meaning. He would fall into a deep, long sleep, he would dream of Lea, mother of Liam and he would die proud as his father had bravely done before him. He drifted off further to sea and the sky above would open it’s arms and his soul would rise up, up, up into the arms of Ulla.
In the deep green, the lychee layers sprawl; in the deep green my heart expresses all. Above, soft blue sprinkles through the trees, a sigh of light lands on me. The stones hold memories, ancient muted songs of those who walked before me with their own dreams strong. I pause to speak to the spirits around me, I call for them to help me see. Silently my grandmothers with wise women sing, of love, death and all in between. The wind so cool playing with branches gently swaying as my soul enhances. I want to weep yet I am boldly compelled to seek out guidance and perhaps a spell. If I can heal my child’s pain with divinity, I beg that you share your sacred recipe. Dear Mother of our forests breath, I will forsake all for my bequeathed. Take her pain and rinse her despair, show me again how she will fair. Within herself, give back her smile and lead her through this desperate trial. I walk away and ask once more for you to open her heart’s closed door. A Mother so vast, so grand as you must reach out and take her hand. Remember when she was so content, her love so easy, her innocence? Deep green forest and strong tall trees, lift her fog. Blessed Be.Read More