Some Background

Some Background

In my last post, I introduced you to my inner child, Beth. Now, I’d like to back up and explain how that scenario became possible. While being a stay-at-home mother, I did a great deal of reading, much of it fiction. But, would stray into other areas on occasion. I read a great deal of psychology, spirituality, and other things that simply interested me. One of those things was about dream work. I had always had very vivid dreams and could, more often than not, recall them in detail. I was also interested in Native American spirituality and that led to an interest in mythology and symbolism.

All of that led to an idea that it would be great if I could somehow learn how to dream while consciously awake. Remember, I was alone at the time, and there was no one around to point out the sheer illogical reality of that thought. The up-shoot of that reading, and dreamy sort of thinking, eventually led to the creation of my Personal Mythology. The beginnings of which can be found here on this site by typing in the title words A Tiger Named Pain.

Once I began to be comfortable with spontaneous imagery, the thought of using it to meet my inner child made all kinds of sense. The imagery was a direct link to my subconscious mind, all of my memories, thoughts and feelings. My inner child had to exist within that space, all I had to do was be willing to try it. And that was the hard part. That willingness was not easily obtained because I was extremely fearful of the outcome. Yes, I understood that this was going on inside my head, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t effect my emotions.

I knew I had abandoned that child, left her there alone in the back forty swampland, of my own mind, to fend for herself. She had to hate me, intensely. How do you seek, or even begin to expect forgiveness, under those circumstances? I mulled around with those types of questions for weeks. Finally realizing it was just plain fear that was holding me back. I had come to know that fear is never a good reason for delaying the inevitable.

All I had to do was breathe deeply and close my eyes. And she was there, had been waiting, all of that time, for me to come to my senses. She even shushed me when I sought forgiveness. She had been sure that I would find my way, at some point. That trust, which she offered so freely, was a priceless gift, one among many.

Our second encounter was, to say the least, mind blowing. She came to me and told me there was something she wanted to show me. Held out her hand and asked me to follow her. I did. She took me into those woods she had originally stepped out from. Led me to a beautiful meadow, she called her Secret Garden. There she asked me to sit, and just watch. She stepped into the center of that clearing and began to dance, to music she, herself, had created. I was mesmerized. Only slowly coming to realize that she was the very center of imagination, and thus: creativity.

It was she who had led me to those books I’d been reading. She, who had created the Mythology from my own story. She who had taught me how to deal with, and become friends with the wild creatures that inhabited it, and had taught me so much about my own life and living. She, who had nurtured my curiosity, while feeding my thirst for knowledge and personal awareness. She, who with the greatest of patience, had guarded and defended me from the bogeymen of fears that would have stopped all of it.

There is so much to be learned by seeking out our inner child. She is a precious gift that continues to give of herself. And I am grateful.

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How We Get Here

Staring Into The Future
Digital Painting
by
Elizabeth Crawford

How We Get Here

The last time I posted, I wrote about my inner child. We all have one because we all have both a past and a memory. Research tells us that by the age of five, we have constructed a world view: a sense of how the world works, and particularly our role, or place, within that world. Stop and think about that for a moment. At age five, that world view must be rudimentary at best, yet it becomes the filter through which we order much of the rest of our existence.

By age five, I had come very close to death, had been told (overheard my parents say) that I had about a 50 -50 chance of living through the surgery, and at best would probably end up with some amount of retardation (brain injury) with the result of something similar to Cerebral Palsy. And for at least, the next ten years, had to sit, yearly, and watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon. See those kids paraded out in their wheel chairs, many of them unable to speak clearly, let alone feed or take care of their personal functions without aid. Add to that, a visit to the doctor’s office meant being told that I was ‘his little Miracle Girl‘.

As an adult, I can look back and see that all those people were simply being grateful, but as a child I saw it very differently. I was me, but not just me. I had the ghost of another, far more unfortunate child permanently attached to my very existence. But, especially to my mental capabilities. Cerebral Palsy is an ongoing permanent glitch (hick-up) in mental functions. And miracles are very iffy things. Are they real, or just a fluke? I attended a Catholic Parochial school. I knew the drill. Miracles were examined for centuries by impeccable scholars before being pronounced as such. I, on the other hand, was just another little girl trying my damnedest to disappear into the woodwork, while not being allowed to do so. I was afraid and terribly angry. It was all so unfair.

It took another thirty years. Years of reading, exploring, studying quietly and on my own, until I began to unravel much of that childish world view. It was hard work because I wasn’t trying to convince the world, I needed to convince myself. And I was definitely a skeptic, with an overloaded knapsack of guilt and doubt.

I had read about the idea of the inner child. I had dismissed it out of hand. Not for me. Until the day I realized that I had dismissed it because it scared me out of my wits. It frightened me for very good reasons. I knew I had abandoned that child in me. Run from her and all her questions and accusations. She needed me, as any child needs a good parent. But, I didn’t trust me to be that for her. How could I?

I had also learned (through all of that study and reading), the value to be found in spontaneous imagery. I knew what I had to do. I made a space of time where I wouldn’t be interrupted. Got quiet, calming myself with slow deep breaths (while simultaneously breaking a sweat), then closed my eyes and asked my inner child to come forward.

She was there in an instant, stepping out of a wooded area. Dirty face, fisted-hands on her hips, torn dirty jeans (two sizes too big), large dirty t-shirt, her hair oily and greasy but covering her head in natural curls. She stared straight back at me from her defensive posture. And then I saw a strange contraption tied to her shoulders. Two huge blocks of wood, one to each side of her head, meant to protect it from any harm. The words “chip on the shoulder”, whispered their way through my mind. And I started crying, because she couldn’t turn her head to either side, without colliding with those wooden blocks.

I tearfully begged for her forgiveness, while she listened silently and totally still. Then I asked her if I could please help her remove those ugly blocks. To which she grinned for a split second, then went still again and nodded her head. I did so, and we both sat down rather hesitantly. I leaned cautiously toward her and said, “I know this is important, I must first ask your name. Will you tell me what it is?”

A wisp of smile crossed her lips, and she said softly, “My name is Beth.”

We both just sat there grinning at each other. I had chosen, about a year previously, to take back my baptismal name, Elizabeth. It means God is my oath, in Hebrew. And the word Beth, in Hebrew means God’s Abode, God’s House.

Elizabeth Crawford 6/1/2017

Note: The image is a digital painting done some years ago. I was just playing with colors and different effects in the paint program, when I realized that a face was taking shape, so emphasized what I was seeing in the color. It has always been a favorite.

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The Why of It

I write because I really like to do that, and for numerous other reasons. In grade school, when learning how to shape and form letters into words, it was simply the appointed curriculum I had to do in order to prove myself. Each letter was a picture, an image that when properly replicated, would allow me to say whatever I wanted, or needed to say. And that was of utter importance to me. So, I worked hard at it.

When very young, I was involved in an accident and sustained a serious head injury. Hospitalization and immediate, urgent surgery allowed me to walk away without any real harm. Yet, my whole life and self-definition had been permanently altered. I was told, quite often, that my words were not reliable, that I exaggerated, or even lied. So, the shape and form of those individual letters were far more important to me, than they might have been to my fellow classmates. And the need to excel was even more so. I had something to prove.

That little girl is still alive inside of me. It took another thirty years, before I began to understand even some of what had happened. Yes, I had been changed by my experience, but that only meant that I saw things differently than others. Not that what I saw was somehow incorrect, just different.

I entered college late, mid-thirties, and was told, early on, that I had a gift with words, and how to use them. That same little girl stepped forward and with a great deal of eagerness, set out to prove that statement. And she did. However, she never completely lost those shadowy feelings of wrongness. But, with the help of some very good teachers, she somehow managed to find a balance between those two realities. Which meant that every time she put her fingers forward, she also brought with her those doubts about her own legitimacy and the rightness of doing this thing called writing.

It took many more years, of winning awards, and of being approached by perfect strangers, telling her that her words gave meaning to their own feelings, even healed much of their own self-doubt, before I could sit to write without having to fight off those niggling doubts about my own inadequacy. One morning, I arose and knew that I would be writing, even knew what I’d be writing about, and went eagerly to that endeavor. That doesn’t mean that I skipped the part about rereading and closely examining every word I had chosen. That was just good, sound practice, built over years of ongoing experience. A part of the work that is as important as the first decision to write at all.

The desire to write comes in all kinds of different guises. Here, I am telling you my most basic ones. The deep desire to be heard, to be listened to, and to be understood. There are so many more I could list. But, this is the primary one. Yes, the Call came late, but so much better than not at all. What is even more important, is what I learned by answering that Call.

What I learned is that, the Call came from that same little girl. And the only person she was calling to was me. She needed to be heard, listened to, and understood by only one individual. That would be me. She had been carrying this gift for years, just waiting for the chance to give it to me. Now we sit together to write. She brings her eagerness to unfold those letters and make them stand up and speak. And I bring the Wisdom that she, alone, can patiently unravel.

Do you know why you write?

Elizabeth Crawford 5/23/2017

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The Affair

The Kiss
Manipulated Photograph
by
Elizabeth Crawford

Haven’t been here for a while. I’ve been busy writing poems. April is National Poetry Month and challenges all who write, to create a poem a day (known as the PAD Challenge). It isn’t an easy task, but I attempt it each year because poetry is where I began my affair with words. I call it that because, for me, it has all the tell-tale aspects and effects of just such a relationship.

For instance, there’s this guy. He’s been around most, if not all your life, and suddenly one day, you really see him. He does something, says something, maybe looks across a room, and you know that you know, he’s seen something deep inside of you, and you are gone, perhaps knowing that you might follow him anywhere. Aware, for the first time, that you will do whatever it takes to stay close to him, always. You want to keep it a secret, someone else knowing will somehow spoil it. But, someone does realize and rather than deny it, which would definitely tarnish it in some fashion, you admit to your feelings. And so it begins, this affair.

That’s what happened to me, and I was not young. Not a callow, teen-aged star-gazing, neophyte, by any means. Late thirties, close to twenty years of marriage already behind me, a mother of four, responsibilities up the wazoo, and suddenly there was this world of words (named Poetry) staring at me across a room, letting me know that I alone, had something it needed, and I was gone, lost inside a world of promising, glorious sunrises and soft, blue-indigo, twilight shadows.

I bought a note-book, and for the next few days, tried to write out my stammering, incoherent feelings. Language was suddenly brand new, filled with strange new meanings, and tools I was suddenly aware, that I had never truly used and didn’t understand. Only knew one thing: I could learn, and would. As luck would have it, one of those first attempted stammerings, won first place in a Poetry Contest. My cover was blown, everyone knew, I was out in the open. Me and Poetry were going steady. This affair was now official.

But, Poetry has an older brother named Prose. Just as stunningly attractive, solidly built, with the body of a true Warrior, honed through time and experience to a sharp razor’s edge. Is it possible to love two, so similar in some ways, yet forever distinctly different? Each trained and disciplined by very different rules? My answer? Yes. Especially if you come to them late, and filled with an insatiable hunger for all things wordy.

So, here I am, back on this other page, engaged in this ongoing affair with these two very different brothers. Polite society raises it brows, turns an askance eye to my seemingly uncontrolled gluttony. Do I care? Yes, and No.

“There are rules,” they whisper, behind hands raised in shock and denial.

“It is forbidden.” But, when I ask , “Why?”, what I get is muttered confusion, hints and dire predictions.

“Everyone knows, if you try to do both, one or both will suffer. Ultimately, you will lose.”

“Lose what?” I have to ask.

“Your audience, of course. They want excellence, won’t take less. And if you are trying to do both, that excellence will be lost.”

“Excellence?” And that’s when I begin to laugh, out loud, and uncontrollably. “Listen up,” I say with a wide grin, “I am a North Wisconsin Hillbilly. We don’t know excellence, never have, never will. Rebellion is what we know. It is what we do, what we live. I started so late, that I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that I will never learn, or know it all. And that is better than good. Life is about finding that thing that enriches you and the world in which you live. I am doing just that and hope to continue doing it until my last and final breath. Can only dream that some other hillbilly will come along, after I’m gone, and continue doing the same. I, and these two brothers, are having wonderful and glorious fun, exploring and learning together. Can you say the same?”

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Unwritten

I am currently teaching online. Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t know how to accomplish said feat. I started this blog with the idea of getting people to find the value in keeping a journal. A regular writing regimen that allows the individual to find the value within their own experience.

Well over thirty years ago, I read something that made a world of sense to me.

Story is good medicine (Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD).

I understood that statement to mean so many things. Medicine is meant to heal, and story, read, or told, can heal and does change lives. But, that is especially true when the story is our own. We are the only person that it is essential that we come to know fully. How else to be our own best friend? We think we know, but do we really? I found that regular (daily) writing, was a gift only I could give to me. It was an ongoing conversation filled with surprising curves that affected my ongoing experience. Putting my thoughts and feelings on paper, gave them a new and sometimes unexpected meaning. It altered how I saw myself, my purpose and role in my own life, as well as that of others. It gave me permission to change those things I didn’t like and often even suggested ways of doing just that.

And best of all, it gave me the opportunity to do something I’d never have considered possible: teaching others how to make friends with themselves and to really listen to their own story, in their own words. And to do so, at the University from which I had graduated almost ten years before. A late in life career change, I would not have expected, and one of the most rewarding experiences I had so far encountered.

This blog was started as an extension of that experience, when I was retired on disability. It was what I knew and I simply wanted to go on sharing it. But, like most things it blossomed into much more (three more blogs, to be honest). It became my introduction into a global community of writers (mostly poets), but far from my own meager expectations.

Which brings me to this current writing. The online class I am teaching is all about finding the main character within ones own story. That unique individual who actually made the journey of her own life, sometimes completely unaware of what her choices and decisions meant, and where they would eventually lead her. And, as is my usual practice, doing the assignments right along with my students. Thus, reaping the reward of my own years of journal writing. The memories, and even the chronology, are easily assessable. I’ve written about those details and they are lodged in my mind, but are also still taking on new tangents because of all that I’ve learned while living my life.

We are currently living in a strange new world. A world that is bound and determined to once again, redefine the role of the feminine, and not always in a kinder and gentler manner. We are being asked to abolish, at the very least, fifty years of history. Fifty years of constant battle that allowed women to find a new role, other than the one carved out by a male-dominated society.

March is Women’s History Month. Her-story is very different from his. As a matter of fact, there are famous Historian’s who never even mention her as a viable source of any value in the living of his experience, other than as the keeper of his household, which allowed him to go about his real business of making sure the world understood his top value, and all too often, at her expense. Is that the real world we want to live in and pass on to our children, and our daughters?

I have been profoundly effected by reading my students’ stories, as well as writing my own. We are engaged in creating yet another piece of Her-story. Claiming our own space and time, as well as experience. There could be no better time for such activity. We are the source and the other half of that story. We are the nurturers of that society, but so much more. We can also be its healers. By telling our stories, we encourage others to do the same. To become the best that we, and they, can be, and finally make our society genuinely whole for the first time in recorded history.

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Unity Through Love

Please watch before reading further

 

I have always been into music. It has been such a deep aspect of my life that I find it hard to define why, or even how, it became of such importance to me. When I was very young, I would, and could, sing almost any song I had heard more than two or three times. And I loved doing it. That was how I learned to ice skate. Had a pair of hand-me-down skates and the skating rink was across the street, down a path through a city park, to the warming house. My older brother and sister had taken me with them, but as soon as they had their foot gear on, they were on the ice and gone.

My brother came back to check on me and had a few of his friends along with him. He said he’d pull me around a time or two, just to get me started. His friends joined hands and with me at the center, we set off on a very slow glide around the rink. Somewhere, along the way, one of his friends asked me to sing a song (it was a well-known fact that I did know most of the popular songs of the day). So, I started singing and got pulled gently round and round the rink. When I stopped singing, one of Paul’s friends handed me a nickel and thanked me for the music. And for the next couple of months, when I’d show up at the rink, one or more of them would offer me a nickel and they’d pull me around the rink as I sang whatever song they requested.

With weak ankles, I was never really good on ice skates, but I loved the music that gave me such a warm and wonderful memory, in my mind it was sort of like being in a movie. I eventually learned how to turn myself around, without falling down and to stop when I needed to do so. But, it was the music that really pushed me along and into several competitions. Some at school, others at Talent Shows, put on by the city’s Recreational Department at the city parks. Music was a staple of my existence. And still is.

There are days when I simply go on You Tube and spend time roaming through different pieces, listening, singing softly along, and just letting the music create a path to some unknown place of satiation and satisfaction. And if it lasts for a couple of hours, I find that time well spent. It comforts me as nothing else can.

Today, I was on Facebook, and someone had posted a quiz of fifteen songs from the Catholic Hymnal. Each question was a line from a hymn or popular religious song, and you had to choose the right word to fill in the missing blank/s. I attended a Catholic Parochial School from second to eighth grade. So, I tried it. And got every one of the fifteen answers correctly. It’s been a long time (years) since I attended church, so was rather surprised that I did so well, even the ones in Latin. Afterwards, I realized that it had been a while since I’d visited You Tube, and decided it was time for that. But, in the nano-second between the thought and the click of the mouse, I also realized exactly what I wanted to listen to. I went directly to the video above. It is perhaps, my favorite, because it speaks to, and shows the reality of different individuals coming together and, through the art and act of loving music, finding incredible unity.

Before the quiz, I had read several articles about the alarming course in our present reality. The deliberate choice of cabinet members who are opposed to the positive affects of the offices they are to hold, a working plan to deconstruct our democracy. The unfounded attempts to block and redefine the peaceful water protectors in Dakota as unlawful and dangerous criminals, and a public official who is in support of sterilizing poor women, to name a few. I believe I took the quiz to distract myself, if nothing else. Whatever the reason, it led me back to this song, these words, that help me to realize that love is still the answer. No matter the level of hatred and ugliness we may be forced to watch and come to understand, love is the only weapon that might stop that approaching darkness, or heal our world. Love for one, love for all. But, especially, those who hate.

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Boundaries

marilyn2e

The image above is a kaleidoscope made from a photograph. The photo was one shared on Facebook by Marilyn B. I was fascinated by the colors.

marilyn2

This is the original photograph. I have spent a part of each day, for the past week, cleaning up files, both here in my office, and on my computer. Making a path for myself through those foothills I mentioned in my last two posts. I reward myself for this ‘cleaning’ with a movie on Netflix. However, the last three movies I’ve chosen to watch have been about time travel into other dimensions, Sci Fi films. Not my usual fare, but interesting, none the less. Each one sort of centered around crossing boundaries and the consequences of doing so. And many of the consequences were negative, even destructive. I began to wonder why I was making the choices that found me watching them at all. Was I trying to widen my own boundaries, or to set new ones in place?

Boundaries are sometimes rather strange things. We set personal boundaries hoping to keep ourselves safe and comfortable. These are the lines we choose not to cross because we decide it isn’t safe to do so, for the reason that it might harm others, or ourselves. But, often those lines get altered as we live our lives and find that others might work better. We create a personal space that we guard and defend from others who might not be aware of such restrictions. And when those boundaries are crossed we feel threatened and the feeling is one of fear.

We are now living in a world where boundaries are being crossed everyday, or so it seems. Some of them are personal, others are political, while others are geographical. And yes, we feel threatened and fear what each new day will bring. Some, who can not tolerate that feeling of ongoing fear are lashing out, hurting others they think might be responsible, or assuming they are simply taking the next logical steps to ensure a return to safety. My question would be, is it even possible to find that sense of safety now that it has been breached? And my answer to that question? I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I have no desire to hurt or harm anyone. Yet, my world has been altered in so many ways, and so swiftly, that I have to stop and collect myself, think before I act in response to only my feelings. The number one means, for me, to do that is to get involved in images, drawing and playing with colors and photos. That activity always settles me down, allows me to breathe more slowly, thus allows me to think. The funny part of that, is when I put a photo into the kaleidoscope app, I am breaching the boundaries set within the photo, altering it, creating new boundaries and creating a new and unknown landscape for different aspects of that image. But no one is harmed by what I am doing. And the beauty of the created image is sort of like magic. Which means I will continue to do it as long as I am able.

I have long believed that creativity, in any form, is a healing agent built into the human psyche. We all carry that healing agent within us. It can and does, take a thousand different forms, if we allow it. And we most desperately need to allow that now, in our current situation. We need to learn new ways to deal with our altered reality. We need to give our world its best chance to grow, and to heal. And how we proceed must be both creative and with positive thought processes. If we take a few minutes, each day, to slow down our reactive emotional states, we have the ability to allow ourselves to breathe and to think. More importantly, we give ourselves the means to find a positive way to create new and better boundaries, rather than just accepting those set by unknown others, who don’t have our best interests in mind.

What do you do to get away from all the fear and distress in the present moment?

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Finding The Foothills

the-desk

My last post here, was about finding a way, a path, through the mountains we encounter in life. This post is about finding the foothills that usually proceed the actual mountains. They are often difficult, but passable. They might slow us down considerably, but they can also help as to learn new ways to pass through that landscape. In that other post, I mentioned that I had begun finding myself doing things differently, even praying in a new way. And it is the result of that new prayer process that has gotten me to these very present foothills.

The photo above, is of the used desk I found and then purchased on Craigslist, before moving into my new two-bedroom apartment. I had a one-bedroom before, so I had my puter set up in that room and it was a bit claustrophobic. I’ve always wanted a home office and this was an opportunity to see that reality come true. The desk, which had to be moved in several pieces, is quite large and definitely holds the predominant space in its current position. It took my brother-in-law, my nephew, and his friend, a couple of hours, to move all the pieces and then set it up here. And they repeatedly told me that I best be sure this was the exact space I wanted it in, because once set up, it wouldn’t be moved again, until I moved to a new address.

Once I had the puter set up and the printer in place, I began to really like the office I had started to create. And that’s when I began to create those foothills I mentioned above. I have been writing for almost forty years. That’s a lot of words, and a hell of a lot of paper. And I have a tendency to make piles around me, rather than getting up and properly filing what I’ve worked on. That’s because I have spinal stenosis and a lot of up and down movement causes pain filled nights of tossing and turning.

It was my intent, that when I moved here, I would finally finish the Poetic Memoir I had started before the move. I have three filing cabinets, two are regular office sized, and one is a shorter version. I used to make hard copies of everything I wrote, but stopped doing that several years ago, when I realized I might actually drown in paper, or be in grave and serious danger should a fire start. I took to using outside storage apparatus to keep track of all of it. Now, most of my stuff is here on the internet, and I simply don’t worry about that aspect anymore.

But, finding the material for the memoir, meant digging into those filing cabinets, and I did. And began piling up paper, on my desk and every other flat surface in this room. More to the point, I also do a lot of digital and physical art work. And that is never really finished until I can hold a printed out copy. More piles. And now my dream home office has become the foothills of my current landscape.

The new prayer process I am engaged in, is called Intercessory Prayer. One chooses to intercede for a specific individual. But, it is done in a very specific manner, which I won’t go into here, except for the pertinent part to this post. A very important aspect of this prayer process is to daily find a point of connection between oneself and the individual one is praying for. That results in removing judgement from the prayer itself. It’s far easier to forgive another if one has to first seek forgiveness for not so great, or not easily recognized, and finally acknowledged actions.

The person I am praying for often leaves messes behind, expecting others to clean them up, or straighten out any misunderstandings. I looked around me and saw only the foothills I have created for myself. Instant recognition, and the need to undo what I, myself have created. I have cleared off half of my desk surface and will continue to do more of the same after I finish here.

I have always believed that we are far more similar than different. By directing ourselves to those differences, we create foothills (sometimes mountains) in our own paths. Differences can create huge walls, mountains that separate us from not only others, but from ourselves as well. The point here is not the prayer process, but the lesson to be learned from that aspect of the process. If we take the time to relate to others, recognize that we are all human beings under whatever skin we are covered in, we create a healing energy our world desperately needs right now. Love, in the form of acceptance, can and does conquer foothills and mountains, smoothing the path to that better world we all long for .

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Finding A New Way

moody3

This is a pen and ink sketch, I did many, many years ago. It isn’t a particularly good piece of work, but I’ve kept it because it reminds me of many things. Mainly about how difficult it can be to find a way through everyday circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances try us to the very limit of our abilities and, in order to continue, we must find new ways of getting through.

I recently watched a TV series titled Hell On Wheels. It’s about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, 1865 – 1869, here in America. For some, it was meant to be a symbol of the reunification of the country after the horrible conflict of the Civil War. It drew its workforce from former army members (both North and South), the Freed black men, Irish and Oriental laborers seeking to build a new home here in the States. And one of the most difficult aspects of that endeavor was finding a way through the mountainous passages of the landscape. A rather daunting process.

There were many who simply didn’t care about the project, and many who were definitely against such a thing, and for all kinds of reasons, as well as many who simply joined in for the express purpose of making money. It became a competition between different railroad companies to see who could complete the task. But, eventually it was completed and connected travel from the Eastern to Western seashores. It was a truly incredible achievement, especially at a very tumultuous time in our History, as a nation.

I mention it here, because the series portrays how all these different individuals, from distinctly different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems, had to find a way to work together, despite those differences. And how each unique difference was important to the whole of that completion. Especially when one realizes that the endeavor was also battling the Native Americans who adamantly didn’t want this steel ‘monster’ cutting through their hunting and living environments.

This is not a pretty, rose-colored or romantic interpretation of that time in our History. It is far more gritty and realistic in its portrayal of these clashing forces, forced to work together. Forced, by individual needs, to find ways to accomplish the task of actually learning how to work together. And yet, somehow they did.

I see an echo of that reality now in our current situation. We’ve been more than content to live our everyday lives in our own established comfort zones, going about our business, but remaining, each in our own small bubbles of familiarity. But, those bubbles are being burst with each new day since the inauguration. I also see us drawing closer together in a new form of unification on both personal and political levels. We are finding a new way.

Personally, I find myself doing things I’d never have considered before. Making phone calls, exploring my past for ways that might help, or that need to be changed to accommodate all the changes taking place. Raising my voice in protest against things that are just simply wrong, and have nothing to do with my personal situation or belief system. And encouraging others to do the same.  Taking responsibility for widening my views and then acting on those conclusions. I am finding a new way through the mountains that lie in my path. And am sincerely grateful that when I stop, and look up from trying to find the way through all of it, I can see and hear others doing the same and, who are willing to encourage and  strengthen my spirit and heart to continue. I am learning to be grateful and to pray in a new fashion. To think in new and more creative manners than ever before. There is always more strength in united numbers.

Whew! I got a great deal out of that old, homely little sketch. Can you?

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Dream Song

10-14-11 Tangle #4

I am back to that other activity I do, teaching online. We suspended the classroom for the Holiday season, and now we begin again. I had no intention of writing here for a while, but something happened that I felt was important enough to share here. This blog was originally started as a place for me to share my own experiences about writing. What it means to me personally, and many of the things I learned from keeping a daily journal for over half of my adult life. It also gave me the opportunity to share many of the things I’d taught in my late career, as an Ad Hoc Writing Instructor at the University from which I’d graduated. Which is why I am choosing to write out this latest experience about personal writing and what it can accomplish.

At the present moment, I am taking a small group of writers through the stages of the Heroic Journey. Today we begin Stage Four, which is about the energy of the Mentor. That one who comes to help us get moving forward into our own Journey, called life. When I suspended the class for the Holidays, it was my intention to just relax and enjoy those days, but something occurred, and I found myself giving daily prompts for a Creativity Challenge that lasted for forty days. Although I knew I would have to start working on the next stage of that classroom journey, I found myself putting it off each day. Telling myself, I’d get to it later. Filling my days with images that soothed and relaxed me, and to be honest, I didn’t want to quit doing that. It was working really well. But then, one morning, I woke to a dream, one that I understood was important because it was so clear and yet, left me with all kinds of questions.

Dream Song

If I needed you, would you come to me,
would you come to me, for to ease my pain?

In the dream, I entered a room, and there was a woman singing these words into a microphone. She walked slowly toward me, as she sang, then tilted the mic in my direction, inviting me to sing with her.

I was both surprised and confused. Didn’t know her, this stranger, but she seemed to know me. Or, the person I used to be. The one who sang every chance she got. And although I knew the song, it hadn’t been a particular favorite, that I could remember. Yet, when she tilted the mic toward me, I found myself singing the second half of that first verse of the song, as if it were yesterday, when I did such things.

If you needed me, I would come to you,
I would swim the sea, for to ease your pain.

Woke up because I couldn’t remember the words to the rest of the song. Got up and came in here to the computer to find them. Surprised when I found the song on Youtube, sung by Don Williams (a definite favorite) and Emmy Lou Harris. I used to have a couple of his albums. I’m sure that’s where I’d heard the song before. But, although the rest of the words were vaguely familiar, they didn’t come with the simple ease of that first verse.

Which has haunted me ever since. But, until I sat down here to write about it, I couldn’t seem to connect it to anything or anyone. The moment I decided to write about it, I saw several connections. Amazing. I believe the dream is about the Mentor energy within my own person. That energy brought to life in my relationship with my father, and continued in other disguises throughout my life. He, my Dad, was the only person, until I was an adult, who told me that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. There were one or two of my high school teachers who tried to tell me I had value, but I dismissed what they whispered because the voices of my other family members were far louder and far more immediately and regularly shouting at me, that I was no more than a liar. That I couldn’t see what was right in front of me, so made it up, or exaggerated it all out of proportion. Subsequently, leading me to believe that I couldn’t trust what went on in my own head.

Well the night’s forlorn and the mornin’s born
And the mornin’s born with the lights of love
And you’ll miss sunrise if you close your eyes
And that would break my heart in two

This is the voice of my inner mentor, speaking directly to me. If I remain asleep, don’t see the light of her sunrise within me, I will not learn whatever it is I need to learn. And that would not only break her heart, but mine as well. She was calling me to this lesson, but I didn’t know that at the time. Had a feeling, but not a definable one. I found myself humming the song, in odd moments, through several days. But, when I would reach for whatever was behind it, I’d draw a blank. Until I sat to write. And that is what she really wanted me to see, to understand, to comprehend. When I pick up a pen, sit to my keyboard, I am opening that door to her energy. It makes no difference how long a time passes, writing words is the key to hearing her sage and wise voice.

If I needed you, would you come to me?
Would you come to me, for to ease my pain?
If you needed me, I would come to you
I would swim the sea for to ease your pain

Here again, is that inner voice, calling me to remember who and what I am. All that I have to offer to the world, based in my relationship with my own mental abilities and experiences. For well over thirty years, the first thing I did most mornings was to write in my journal. I was teaching myself to listen to the only individual I can ever truly know. She will swim the sea of my own confusion and my lack of knowing, help me to steady my own hand by lending hers to me, to help me up, to get me moving again. So that I might, in turn, offer it to another who might need it. For that is the purpose of the Mentor energy. To pass along whatever we have learned through living our lives.

Baby’s with me now since I showed her how
To lay her lily hand in mine
Who could ill agree she’s a sight to see
A treasure for the poor to find

All too often, I forget that I myself am the treasure within my owned existence. And a treasure has no value unless it is shared, given away freely, to anyone who would listen. When I, when we, sit to write, we begin a dialogue with our own person. Makes no difference if that dialogue is a poem, a short story, a personal essay, or the Great American Novel. All those words come from within, from our memories, imagination, personal experience, and the music we prefer. When we write, we take possession of all of those things. We create the landscape of our own journey, by engaging that mentor energy.

And don’t we need that now? When our world is being split apart by arguing voices sometimes filled with hatred and sheer nonsense? We need that voice that brings clarity to our fear and confusion. That single voice that can allow us to find and even defend whatever ground we choose to stand on.

Elizabeth 1/17/2017

Notes: The image is a line weave drawing done in pen and ink, several years ago.

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Posted in Dream Song | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments