Friday, December 19, 2014

True Story of NOT being eaten by the Mountain Lion

Desert Christmas
After grappling with The Little Squid On The Prairie, on that Thanksgiving in Scottsdale 5 years ago, my Aunt Ingrid and I began the daunting task of decorating her enormous Lone Mountain mansion for Christmas. 

As Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Bing Crosby and other classic Christmas crooners filled every room  (I looked forward to the many trips to the silent garage to haul in more, more and still more boxes), we deposed the local deities (my recently deceased uncle’s Navajo Kachina collection) which we unceremoniously bundled off to a closet for the duration of the season
Mountain Lion Kachina
and ensconced the 55 (I double-checked with my aunt to make sure I had the correct number)  baby Jesus’ resting in their mangers into the special niches in the wall that had been designed for them – each with it’s own electrical outlet.

On New Year’s Day, we attended a party at my aunt’s son’s home. I took a break in the middle for my daily hike and set off on foot through the festively decorated neighborhood in search of a trail into the desert. 

When I entered the world of the wild, I kept my eyes open for all of the possible dangers: the javelinas, rattlesnakes, scorpions, cholla cacti, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. 

As I exited that terrain and was back on the surreal suburban streets of my cousin’s gated community, viewing a hopeful plastic snowman clutching a sign with the words “Let It Snow”, Santa in his red snow suit atop his sleigh with the Nordic reindeer pawing the tile roof of an adobe house and the Saguaro sporting snowflake lights, I completely relaxed my vigilance. 

I was chatting on my cell phone, wishing my mother a Happy New Year and strolling right toward a large mountain lion walking just a few feet ahead of me, crossing the street that I was walking up. If I would have been in the desert, I would have been terrified, but in that setting, it just did not register as danger. 

I was in awe of it’s feline grace and KEPT WALKING TOWARD IT while mentioning to my mother that I had just spotted a mountain lion and was going to get a closer look. I do not remember her words to me, but her sharp tone of alarm and clear advice that this was a really bad idea awoke me from my trance and I stopped in my tracks.

NOT my photo
In the meantime, the cat had quietly melted out of sight into a back yard. All of this only took a few seconds, but we definitely got a good look at each other.It could be that it had recently dined on a poodle from the neighborhood and was not hungry or maybe my insane lack of fear convinced it that I was not to be trifled with or perhaps it reasoned that since we are what we eat, it did not want to be that stupid.

Whatever the reason, my mother did not have to start off her 2010 by helplessly listening to the sounds of her daughter being mauled to death by a wild cat.

Back to the present day, in the aftermath of another challenging Thanksgiving (handled far less gracefully than one described in The Little Squid On The Prairie), I am reflecting on all of the many internal and external, (human and non) predators and “villain/esses” that I have encountered since The Day My Life Changed Forever.

I have received valuable gifts from all of these individuals, (none of whom deserved to be vilified) and am grateful. I am especially indebted to all of my inner wild, masked ones.

Like the Kachinas with their primal energy, locked in the dark boxes in a closet in favor of the sweet, innocent babe under the shining star with his mission of love and forgiveness, I have tried to be lovable and keep anything I did not want seen, safely out of sight.

And mostly this has worked very well for purposes of display (it certainly had me fooled!).

But the cat is out of the bag and the Kachina is out of the box.

I have teeth and claws. I have sharp weapons/words.

I deeply regret the pain I caused in using them, but I do not regret taking a stand for myself.

Closeting unwanted parts of myself is part of what has kept me stuck in roles from which I needed to break free in order to move forward in my life. With every internal prisoner I liberate, I am incorporating into myself the power and truth that each one held.

In the middle of this California holiday season where plastic snowmen standing in water from our recent storms, are once again pleading with signs to “Let it Snow”, I am pondering the puddle of another melted version of myself. 

I cannot and do not want to go back to being the naive neophyte I was before The Day My Life Changed Forever, or the innocent idiot who has blithely blundered into harms way or the resistant and resentful adolescent (a character who has been trying for over 40 years now to crawl back into younger and theoretically more lovable selves in the hopes that this will protect me from the risks of being my authentic self).

So here I am on the longest and darkest night of the year (Winter Solstice and new moon), gazing curiously and hopefully into my little pool wondering what reflections will show up as the light begins to return.

I am wishing all of you, my dear readers, the joys of the season and also, in the midst of all of the bright lights and frenetic festivities, some time for quiet reflection. May you enjoy the gifts of literal (and perhaps metaphorical – I know I am not the only one!) long, dark nights, the guidance of shining stars and the slow transition back to brighter and sunnier days.

Whether it is sunny or cloudy, on Groundhog's Day, I am excited to be launching the new version of Sparks & Leaps and bringing all that I have learned to the families I serve!

If you are in the midst of internal or external transitions, facing dark times or have hopes for the New Year that you would like to share, OR if you have any feedback for me about my cat tail/tale, I would love to hear from you in the comment section. Those who send me private emails, can continue to do so, but it would be a lovely holiday surprise if you would show up here instead!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Little Squid on the Prairie

The Little Squid on the Prairie

In the last episode,  "Why I Love Captain Hook”  I requested that you, my faithful readers, offer suggestions for your favorite villainess, which I promised to work into this installment. 

The only suggestions I received were Nellie Oleson from Little House on The Prairie and Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid.  I love a challenge!

I did not remember Nellie, and was baffled by this choice until I did my homework. She actually rated number one on some lists of best TV villains and was described by the actress who played her as “ …a bitch. A horrible, wretched, scheming, evil, lying, manipulative, selfish brat”.

Just what I was looking for – and a bonus that she is young and cute, as that fits well into my story. Thank you, John Jr, (AKA Cousin Duppy) for the great suggestion!

My friend Jean, who suggested Ursula, explained her choice this way, “She stole Ariel’s voice and her man. A woman betraying another woman is up there on the list for me.” 

Perfect! Not only a great fit for my story (except for the fact that my "Ursula " inadvertently helped me find my lost voice), but a nice tie-in to  “The Mermaid’s Secret”  post, plus, as fate would have it, Ursula is one of my personal favorite villainesses of all time.  So here is this month’s story with a mash-up bad girl: Nellie the Sea Witch.*

After "The Day My Life Changed Forever" (9/11/09), and the following few weeks during which I explored The Mermaid’s Secret, I was beginning to recover. My bleak prospects were improving and the scariest part was over by Halloween.

 "By the time I Got to  Phoenix" - (apologies to Glen Campbell) I was well on my way to my new life. After all, where else but Phoenix does one go to rise from the ashes?  The desert was the perfect place to engage in the time-honored tradition of healing in it's purifying sun and heat.

I was extremely fortunate that my recently widowed aunt opened up her brand new house (which she and my father’s brother had spent several years designing as their dream home) to me from November of 2009 through March 2010. I occupied the entire west wing of her enormous North Scottsdale mansion on Lone Mountain. We were both healing from grief and comforted each other, but also respected our mutual needs for privacy.

True to its name, Lone Mountain stood proud and isolated from the world. We had a magnificent view from our lofty peak. There were only five homes on our side of the mountain and they were far enough apart that Aunt Ingrid used her golf cart for visits to the neighbors.

I basked in the luxury of this much needed solitude and grew to love the harsh, prickly beauty of the desert. I used the time to read, research and write, as well as take daily walks in the desert, where I wandered lost much of the time–literally and metaphorically. All of this gave me the opportunity to process my harrowing experience and begin to plan a new life. I was also deeply grateful for the gift of escaping from the frigid Midwestern winter. 

So I was feeling quite benevolent and speaking fairly kindly (although not entirely sincerely, but I was working on it) of "the other woman", who had been an unwelcomed catalyst for all of this. 

Until I learned that she (who now became in my mind a vile creature again) had moved into my recently vacated home, would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner in MY KITCHEN (somehow worse than sleeping in my bed with my soon-to-be former husband) and sharing that happy holiday with MY BELOVED STEP-CHILDREN and holding MY BEAUTIFUL STEP-GRANDCHILDREN on her lap, while feeding turkey scraps to MY SORELY MISSED DOG!

I was not pleased.

Now it was my turn to morph into a villainess! Do you remember how Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty got ugly when no one set a place for her at the table? 

I knew that if I fully expressed my rage, it would make a difficult situation for my step-kids even worse. I did NOT want this to happen. 

After some gnashing of teeth and a couple of restless nights thrashing around with nightmares, I realized that, as much as I self-righteously condemned “the evil one” for her transgressions, I had committed all of the same “sins” (at least to some degree) at one time or another in my life. 

This left me with no claim to the moral high ground. In fact, upon further reflection, I came to the conclusion that most of the people I knew and loved had also lied, cheated and/or betrayed. 

I also knew that if I carried those toxic feelings of blame and resentment with me into my new life, they would weigh me down and prevent me from taking flight to the next part of my journey. And I felt an urgency to let go and move on quickly because I had just turned 50.

Besides, I did not want to be a fire-breathing, embittered ex-wife. This did not fit in–at all– with the rewrite of my story, in which I would play the courageous and lovable heroine. And it felt horrible to feel those toxic feelings of resentment eating me up.

I told myself that I had no choice about who was sitting at my old dining room table, but I did have a choice about how I would show up for the holiday table in Phoenix and in my entire life from that point on. 

By Thanksgiving Day, I had found authentic gratitude for the circumstances of my life. I was astounded at how quickly my seeming inability to forgive transformed into genuine love for both the “villain” and “villainess” of my story. 

I certainly never would have guessed that within a few months, the mere sight of her name would become a trigger for spontaneous joy. This occurs frequently, because her name happens to be a well-known place near where I now live, so I see it on signs everywhere and rather than this phenomena diminishing with time, it has deepened each time.

I promise, I am not exaggerating this reaction or the gratitude I feel for the role she played in helping shape this new life. Neither am I some kind of beneficent saint. But I AM the heroine of my story. 

Granted, I had the luxury of time and a beautiful place and a great support network, which helped. A lot. But, I have heard countless other stories of people with far worse circumstances and much more to forgive, (such as some concentration camp survivors) who were also able to transform their lives. 

I have also heard at least as many stories of those who had an abundance of gifts, yet still clung to their bitterness for decades following minor slights and misfortunes, never allowing anyone to forget how they were wronged. 

I believe that we all have the power to choose who we want to be and how we want to live our lives, regardless of our circumstances. 

Who do you want to be? How do you want to show up in your life? What story do you want to create? Would you rather vilify or forgive? You get to choose. 

I would love to hear from you, if you have had experiences similar to mine. What did you choose and how that is working for you? Please go to the comment section below to share your thoughts or any other feedback you might have for me.

This ends the part of my story about how my old life ended. Next month I move on to my new life!

*DISCLAIMER: Nellie the Sea Witch bears no resemblance, physical or otherwise to the woman whom I needed a villainous character to represent . My former husband's new wife has neither blond curls or tentacles. The only traits in common are Nellie's adorable youth (perhaps I already mentioned that she is half the age of my former husband and the same age as his daughter). And aside from this last catty comment - that my inability to resist repeating speaks more to my residual villainy than hers - I now think of her as a fellow heroine in my story and as a friend in my life.  I look forward to developing more of a friendship in time - assuming she forgives me for this blog!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why I Love Captain Hook

From : Colorful Animation Expressions

At the tail end of last month's tale, (The Mermaid's Secret : Diving For Hidden Treasure) I asked if pirates led me to sunken treasure. This seems like a contradiction. Pirates grab the gold, they don’t lead others to it. But they might. Consider Hook.

As we continue to skirt the watery edges of  Neverland, we see the dark pirate ship ahead where the evil Captain Hook lurks. As villains go, Hook is a fairly sympathetic, and even lovable, character. He is handsome, intelligent, charming, adventurous, and extraordinarily courageous (except, understandably, where crocodiles are concerned). Sure, he’s a duplicitous, cold blooded killer, but nobody’s perfect.

Hook’s role, like that of most villains, is to spur the protagonist to action. And in their responses to villainous threats, heroes and heroines face their (and our) fears, meet challenges, and ultimately triumph.

We need the bad guys both as literary devices and in our lives. They serve a vital purpose whether they are internal (yes, even your much maligned inner critic!), external, fiction or non.

My former husband (FH), who is not a killer and shares all of Captain Hook's best qualities plus many more, also at times shared his coldness and duplicity. He did not hook me into marrying him to suck me dry of my life force. He did not tie me to a mast, leaving me hungry for love and thirsting for the truth my soul needed, and he did not make me walk the plank into shark infested waters. Nonetheless, in the days following The Day My Life Changed Forever, I believed this to be true.

From: Colorful Animations

Although much vilified by my loyal support network (while I got to pretend to be virtuous by feebly defending him and secretly goading them to say more about what a cad he was), FH was far from despicable. I could fill many pages about what makes him sweet and lovable and his many kindnesses to me and others but I am highlighting his worst side (we all have our dark shadows), the extent of his betrayal (although I am not reporting all of the gory details) and how excruciating my pain was, so that those who are reluctant to forgive their villains can see what is possible.  His actions served to give me the courage to embark on an adventure that helped me grow stronger, wiser, more joyful and to live a magical new life.
As I look back on the time of our marriage I realize that far from being an innocent victim, I was a vicious criminal - towards myself. To a lesser extent, I also engaged in unkind behaviors towards FH that contributed towards his choices that I found so bewildering and undeserved.
It was convenient to make FH responsible for the ways in which my authentic self shrank and grew fainter and weaker while my joy diminished, but the truth is that his "dastardly crimes" of betrayal and lies paled in comparison to the betrayal and lies I perpetrated upon myself in the name of buying what looked like security but was actually a pirate's dungeon of my own creation.
If FH had remained faithful to me, I would have remained unfaithful to me. I shudder to think what state I would be in by now had he not given me the key to my prison and the map for the sunken treasure with his infidelity and dishonesty.
By forcing me to walk the plank, (well, actually I jumped ship) he saved us both from the piracy of having our true selves plundered on a daily basis.

AFP/ Getty Images / Joe Klamar

This month's new moon falls on a solar eclipse which is a similar story of how the sun is blocked by a cold shadow and then the light and warmth returns.

We go through many natural cycles of light and dark in our lives. We may blame others (the ancients believed a dragon was eating the sun at eclipses) for our dark times, but ultimately it is the story we tell ourselves and others that either leaves us miserable victims or helps us find power, beauty and gratitude even in the darkest days. 

The next time you see a skull and crossbones flag flying on a ship on the horizon or feel a hook pierce your heart, check to see if you had a role in hoisting that flag or embedding that hook. 

Although there are random events of violence beyond our control, usually we can take at least partial responsibility for our contribution (even if just by attracting someone who mirrors the unkind ways we treat ourselves). We can also look for the gifts in the situation and let go of blame. When we do so, we have the power to transform ourselves and even some of the dynamics of the painful event. 

I want to make it clear that I am not advocating that we should be passive in response to harm being done to us or that we should seek out difficulties in order to grow in our lives. We need to take appropriate actions to remove ourselves from situations where we are being mistreated and we certainly don't need to invite trouble. Challenging times arrive like the cycles of day and night or summer and winter. What I am saying is that trying to resist night or winter, rather than appreciating the time or season for what it is, is not only ridiculously futile, but causes more much more harm than the dark and cold.  

Letting your pirate off the hook will benefit both of you as well as all of the innocent bystanders and all whom all of you encounter. Even if you want to see him (or her) twist in the wind, know that you are twisting right along side of them. Why not set everyone free?!

If you would like some keys and maps to assist you in this process, contact me to see if Sparks & Leaps can add some magic and joy back to your life and/or the lives of your children.

Note to readers curious as to where all of this is going:

This blog has a life of it's own and usually surprises me. The basic premise of The New Moon Blog is about new beginnings, but of course, all new beginnings are preceded by endings. Apparently, I needed (hopefully for the readers benefit as much as mine) to spend some time re-creating (recreation = play!) the death and darkness of that time with all of these first posts and playing with the bones around this season of Halloween and The Day of the Dead. 

My plan (blog willing!), is to wrap this stage up and move on to Thanksgiving with my next post so I can let FH and his new wife rest in peace. Both are readers of this blog who are probably quite ready to have me quit rattling skeletons and leave this time behind! And although they have both heard me say this many times, just for the public record, I love them both and bless them daily!

I trust that the story of the flight to my new life with all of it's magical pixie dust will be better understood and appreciated with this foundation firmly planted in the depths. I also hope that readers who are currently experiencing the death throes of a part of their life will be able to relate and see glimmers of hope.

Preview of next month:

Who is your favorite villainess? Vote in the comment section below by telling me yours and I will try to fit her into next month's blog. Remember, you can sign in as anonymous by clicking on the box underneath your comment that says: COMMENT AS and you will see the bottom option is ANONYMOUS. Just click on that. You are welcome to tell me in your comment who you are or let me try and guess

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Mermaid's Secret : Diving For Buried Treasure

Selkie Bride Returns Home

This month, I invite you to join me at the watery edges of Neverland’s Mermaid Lagoon* two weeks after The Day My Life Changed Forever.

My “lagoon” was actually a cheerfully-appointed guest bedroom in MN in the home of dear friends. The background sounds of happy children and fiddle music as well as the sunny yellow walls belied the darkness I would explore in that space.

The day after I arrived, the numbness from the initial shock of betrayal had worn off. Somehow I had survived the intense flurry of activity as I said my anguished farewells to my many loved ones in that city and crammed as much as I could fit of my belongings into a small Honda. And now, curled up in the bed I was going to spend most of my time in for the next few weeks, I wrote a card (with a mermaid on the front) to my former husband, letting him know that my plan was to dive into the watery emotional realms that he found so threatening. I could almost feel his sigh of relief at the 350 miles that separated us as I stated this intention.

I decided to follow the advice offered in the titles of Pema Chodron’s and Mark Matousek’s books, which happen to share the same title: When You’re Falling, Dive, as well as Miriam Greenspan’s book Healing Through The Dark Emotions.

Being broken open (another great book I read during this time) by pain led me to an Inner Wisdom that I had never known before. Most of the decisions I made about what to do and what not to do during those first weeks of this time of transition,  just seemed to bubble up out of the blue. They also felt non-negotiable so surprisingly, (even though in the beginning they were not AT ALL what I wanted to do most days) I did not question them.

Everyone’s Inner Wisdom will have different messages, but these were the three biggest ones for me:
  • Exercise every single day out in nature.
  • Do not touch alcohol or do anything that will numb the pain. (I did not even read novels or watch movies until very recently as they were typical forms of escape for me) Full disclosure – I did get a prescription for anti-anxiety drugs that I took for the first month or so mostly in the (failed) hopes of being able to sleep at nights, but did not finish my last bottle and have never touched them since.
  •  Feel every single emotion all the way to the depths, even if it feels unbearable.

Deeper Blue

So I dived in and rarely emerged from my cheery little hell lagoon, except occasionally, to show my face to my very worried friends in an attempt to allay their fears for my sanity. And of course I went out for my daily walks along the paths next to Minneapolis lakes, creeks and rivers in the cloudy, blustery chill that had coincidentally arrived to abruptly turn summer into autumn the day after I arrived.  I was unable to eat or sleep much and spent my many waking hours reading the words of trusted teachers, eventually filling up several journals with illegible scribbles.

That was between bouts of bone-chilling, teeth-chattering terror over the bleak prospects for my future (“would you like fries with that”?), pillow-muffled howls of grief and despair for the loss of my beloved and all of the other heartbreaking losses of loved ones – especially my dog and several children, my home and my “safe, secure, and happy” former life.

There were also occasional flashes of blinding rage, which resulted in what I considered at the time to be brilliantly crafted, e-mails usually sent out shortly before dawn, designed to cause as much pain for my former husband as I thought he was causing me. Although he did not respond to my tirades (which made me even more furious), I know he was feeling hurt as well. It felt powerful at the time to express my wrath, but I regret adding to his pain.

I floundered, with no hope of ever resurfacing, certain that I would never be happy again. My strongest wish was for death, which was more than I could hope for, because suicide goes against my belief system. Whether or not an afterlife or reincarnation exist, my belief that there is no escape from our tests has kept me alive through many bouts of suicidal depression. That, and not being able to bear the thought of how this act would affect all of my loved ones – especially the children in my life.

And yet, I did not drown in my tears. Little by little I began to swirl gracefully around in their currents and discovered myself swimming with increasingly strong strokes.

Eventually, much to my astonishment, I found buried treasure.

The magical synchronicities, sparkling joy, bubbly energy, glowing gratitude, radiant love for myself and all who were involved in that transition, as well as other precious gifts I found there, gave me what I needed to begin anew in a sweet little town with a wonderful community, nestled in spectacular natural beauty but near a fabulous city. I have a new circle of friends in addition to my old ones. And I joyfully dance and sing every day – and there is so much more! Who knew that my new life would be so much happier than the one I had been devastated to leave behind?!

Certainly there are times when I dive back down to the murky bottom, but now I trust that I will resurface with even more riches.

Whenever you are frantically gasping and struggling to tread water, or you are panicking as you unexpectedly find yourself over your head, I encourage you to turn it into a graceful dive. Even if it starts with a belly flop, or you think you only know how to do an awkward dogpaddle, do it. Do it with the belief that you can discover your own gifts.

Your process and gifts won’t look like mine. They will be unique to you, but I promise that you will find them, if you look. And besides, all of that resistance to what is happening will not change your pain - you will have to feel it sooner or later, one way or another. See what happens when you surrender to the depths...

I offer clues in my website and newsletters, or you can sign up for a free consultation and we can design a treasure map – for yourself and/or your family.

underwater treasure by nicolshe, deviantART

Also lurking at the watery edge of Neverland is Captain Hook. Could pirates have anything to do with that treasure chest? Find out in next months New Moon Blog.

Be sure to leave a comment if you have also had the experience of finding treasures in the deep. Remember, you can sign in as anonymous by clicking on the box underneath your comment that says: COMMENT AS and you will see the bottom option is ANONYMOUS. Just click on that. You are welcome to tell me in your comment who you are or let me try and guess.

* When I made the hasty promise at the end of last month’s episode (Scheherazade and Tinkerbelle join the Bee team) that I would take you to Neverland this time, I knew there were myriad common themes from “Peter Pan” and the next part of my story. I played with several, but discovered after many attempts that I could not figure out how to do this within the confines of a short blog post, and then I was lured into Mermaid Lagoon. So for now, I will skip over that two week period following The Day My Life Changed Forever and plunge into the heart of my story. Please forgive me – you know how enticing mermaids can be!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scheherazade and Tinker Bell Join the Bee Team

Shortly after the last episode of my New Moon Blog (recounted in The Revenge of the Bee Goddess), on the day AFTER  The Day My Life Changed Forever,  I unintentionally channeled the magic of Scheherazade and Tinker Bell. 

Still from "The Thief of Baghdad" and Tinker Bee

Scheherazade used the power of storytelling to prolong her life by telling 1001 tales, but I used it to help me end my old life and begin a new one. As I told the story of the end of my marriage that day (not quite 1001 times)  to help it become more real to me, I also gathered pixie dust/pollen/love from each listener. I later used this sweet magic to create honey out of what could have been a bitter ending.

On the day after the woman who was to become my husband's new wife came to our home and told the truth I had been trying not to believe, I called everyone in my phone book and was on the phone all day. All of my support network had heard the chapters of my previous decades before. Dramatic upheavals and bumpy transitions: challenging childhood, teen rebellion, roaring 20s, catastrophic 30s, and finally the husband-centric domesticity of my 40s.  Now, what seemed the latest (and perhaps most predictable) chapter: separation, loss, and displacement at 50. 

Still from "Aladdin"
Yet, as in Scheherazade’s tales, the telling was life affirming. And, like Aladdin, my stories conjured a genie. For each recounting caressed the lamp and slowly the genie within awakened. I was still in shock, so I did not realize it until weeks later, but by the end of that day, my lamp had broken open and the pieces lay intermingled with the shards of my shattered heart. It would take a while for my genie to begin to come into her power, but the process was now irrevocable. 

The other magic from those calls on "the day after" was that I asked each person to help me through the time ahead by holding me in their thoughts/prayers or sending good juju--whatever worked for them. Whether or not they did, I BELIEVED that they were all cradling me in a very different kind of container than the one that was breaking. I FELT their love and support like pixie dust preparing me to take flight. 

From this point on, I was able to address the logistical issues of ending my old life and creating a new one with strength, grace and wisdom that astounded me - and my loved ones. Far from perfect, but a miraculous shift from what was previously possible.

No one could have created this transformation for me but I could not have done it alone. And none of it would have been possible without all of those broken pieces at the end of all of those chapters of my story.

I invite you to consider one place in your life where you could use some support. Whether it’s from a friend, a coach, or some other source, I encourage you to gather that pixie dust and tell the most empowering story that you can. If I could do this (truly nothing short of miraculous, given my history!) so can you.

Next months New Moon adventure will take place in Never Never Land. See you there or hopefully sooner in the comment section below. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Revenge of the Bee Goddess

I could not find the artist that created this amazing picture, but I found her here

When we last left Our Plucky Heroine in the tale of My Shamanic Life With Bees, I promised to tell you how the courage I experienced on that day led to The Day My Life Changed Forever and the miraculous changes that ensued.

I will keep this promise, but there were some darker and far less flattering moments in between that need to be told as well.

On the last date night I had with my former husband (hereafter FH), there was a toxic brew of betrayal and denial bubbling below the surface. Add one potent ingredient and an explosion was inevitable. But also necessary.

It was at Irish Fest that I discovered the fermented potion of the Celtic Bee Goddess which legend has it, will cause all who imbibe to speak hidden truths. As I made repeated trips to the honey mead tent, all went well for awhile.  FH was surprised and a bit alarmed by my copious consumption of this elixir and my questionable decision to skip dinner, but I had no interest in his opinion.

When the bagpipes, electric guitars, and primal drums of the kilted and mohawked Red Hot Chilli Pipers blared, my Irish Celtic Ancestors joined the Bee Goddess to awaken a long slumbering Inner Wild Woman.

From the Facebook page of The Red Hot Chilli Pipers

The brooding Norwegians, prim Danes, proper English and all other aspects of my jumbled heritage were trampled (along with everyone between me and the band) as I rushed to the front of the stage to begin dancing in a feral frenzy.

 FH followed me. He was initially delighted to see this spark of passion from his wife who had been rather boring and reclusive for quite some time. But then, the music was over and I was still on fire. As we were efficiently and abruptly herded, sheep-like with the rest of the drunken revelers out of the festival gates, all of my long suppressed and ignored intuitions combined with buried fury to swarm like angry bees around FH. 

I morphed into a screaming banshee that my shocked FH had never seen. He had a horror of even mild public displays and this involved a large audience as I loudly insisted that I would not go home with him. To his credit, he did not leave me there and explained to the helpful crowd advocating for me and offering to call the police (which I agreed they should do) that I was in no shape to walk much farther than the curb. He was furious and humiliated as I dramatically milked the performance until he was finally able to get me into the car.

It wasn’t until months later that I understood what happened that night. Deep down I knew not just the truth of FH’s affair, but the truth of my authentic self that I could not be in that marriage. I loved FH and he loved me. Neither one of us wanted to acknowledge that we were no longer meant to be together.

Whether or not the bees awakened me to the truth and prepared me for what was to come, I can’t say, But they deserve at least partial credit and my eternal gratitude.

Sara Marpelli – a real life Bee Queen. Yes those are real bees covering her!
Hanging out with the Bee Goddess/ Inner Wild Woman/Spirit/Intuition (the name is not as essential as trusting the gut feeling) is not usually a comfortable experience. In fact, sometimes it is acutely painful. However, I have discovered that the freedom, joy and delight as well as the miraculous synchronicites that grow each and every time I pay attention and take the risks that this deeper truth advocates, make it well worth whatever price I need to pay.

We all have the capacity to tune into the still small voice within or we can wait until the whispers turn into screams. I recommend the former.

Epilogue and hidden secrets:

The day I left FH, (two weeks after The Day My Life Changed Forever, and about a month after this incident), I spontaneously lost all interest in alcohol and have never had more than a rare, polite sip since then. This is no small miracle and only one of many.

For those of you who were curious about the many bizarre parallels between my story and the book The Secret Life of Bees, I decided rather than create a separate post, I will just list a few of the major ones in the comments section. I would be delighted if you would leave your comments there as well. You can hide under the cloak of anonymity if you wish. It might be fun to see if I can guess who you are by your comments. I have loved all of your kind emails, but it would be nice to have all feedback in one place. Blogging is new for me and I truly appreciate all of your opinions.

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Shamanic Life With Bees * (Prequel to The Day My Life Changed Forever)

The way of the Melissae from Kate Shela’s website

First a note to those impatient readers who wanted to know how I went from a pile of smoking rubble to rising like a phoenix from the ashes after The Day My Life Changed Forever.

I promise I will reveal all in good time, but first I need to tell you the story of the bees.

On a stifling day in the middle of the summer of 2009 (shortly before The Day My Life Changed Forever) I was feeling oppressed by the scorching heat and by an underlying fearful conviction that something was very wrong in my life. 

Seeking the oblivion of an afternoon nap, I opened the door to my bedroom and was astonished and terrified to find the room was filled with bees. 

Taking a photo was the last thing on my mind. I just took this image from The Inquisitr. 

Humans are biologically programmed to fear bees and given the nasty reactions I had experienced with previous stings, and my ever-present anxiety that could switch to an intense fight or flight adrenaline rush if I noticed a miniscule spider in the vicinity, the predictable end to this story would have been me running screaming from the house. 

But that did not happen. Something shifted inside of me as I stood on the threshold of what was normally my precious sanctuary from the world. It was a moment of grace.

I felt the faint beginnings of courage and a sense of adventure stir within. As I stood there, I observed that the bees were quite listless (apparently they had recently hatched in the oven-like attic and migrated to the relative cool of my room.), so I got a mason jar and an empty manila folder and quaking with apprehension, I approached the nearest bee.

It was easily captured, and when I cautiously released it in the front yard, it dived immediately into the nearest flower. I imagined it’s joy and felt a surprising surge of loving communion with it.

With each subsequent relocation, my trepidation diminished and my wonder and pride at my brave resourcefulness as well as my sense of compassionate responsibility for my new little friends grew. By the time I got to the last few stragglers, I was affectionately reassuring each one that I was taking it to a much better place and that all of it’s family was waiting for it. I had lost all fear of being stung. 

I believe that those bees helped prepare me for what was to come on The Day My Life Changed Forever and the series of major transitions that followed. I gained practice in dealing with my fears using previously unknown resources.  The love I felt for those bees with their stingers that could have delivered pain, served me well as I found love for those who delivered the sweet sting of pain that I needed to leap forward into my new life.

*The day after the events in this story took place, I went to the library and on a shelf of books recommended by the librarians was The Secret Life of Bees which I, of course, had to read immediately. The number of parallels to what had just occurred and what was about to happen would require a separate post. The Shamanic Way of the Bee is an incredible book that I later read after learning it was the inspiration behind the Tori Amos CD The Beekeeper which was on heavy rotation in my play list that year prior to my encounter with the bees. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

The day my life changed forever

My “Life of Pi”* tiger - or how I transformed my former husband and the “other woman” from being the “destroyers of my life” into loved ones whom I bless with heartfelt gratitude daily and how this experience has changed my entire life.

The day my life changed forever was 50 years and 21 days after my reluctant, traumatic, entrance into the world. It was not an auspicious beginning and was not followed by an idyllic childhood or carefree adulthood. These are understatements!

The day my life changed forever was 10 years and 40 days after the day of my wedding, which had taken place on the very same beach where I had met and fallen mutually, instantly, madly and passionately in love with the man who would become my husband.

The day my life changed forever was Twenty years and one day after that meeting and one day after my former husband had, once again, declared his undying love to me on that very spot.

The day my life changed forever was on September 11, 2009,  exactly  eight years to the day from when the terrorist attacks imploded the Twin Towers.

The day my life changed forever was on 9/11/09 when the woman who is now my former husband’s new wife came to our home with the truth which would set us all free.

"In case you are confused (I certainly was on the day my life changed forever!), allow me to summarize. On 9/11/(09), shortly after the milestones of turning 50 and celebrating a full decade of marriage and the day after our two decade anniversary of meeting, I experienced what felt like a terrorist attack that destroyed a partnership that I thought would last forever. And given that from the moment of my birth though my life up to that point, I had not had a solid foundation, the odds were pretty good that I would remain a pile of smoking rubble. Enter the Phoenix!

And now I 'm going to switch metaphors from fiery implosion and mythical birds to watery ship wreck and imaginary tigers. This is my story and I get to play with it! "

In The Life of Pi , the protagonist chooses to create a new story that is simply better than the one he started with. Both versions of my story are totally true. The question is; which one is the better story? You decide.

Bitter Ending
Glorious Beginning
A menopausal, overweight, washed up Milwaukee housewife is betrayed by the love of her life. After ten years of marriage devoted to caring for him (including nursing him through cancer and other medical crises) and supporting his career and loving his children and grandchildren like her own, the wife learns that the love of her life has a beautiful mistress who is 30 years younger than him.

Devastated by the grief and shock of multiple losses (dog, home, many loved ones including several adored children, family, friends and community and everything else that would not fit into a small car), she drives away from her old life with no hope of anything good ever happening again.

A woman in the prime of her life is set free for an amazing adventure! After a relatively short segue (in which she is utterly broken open), she begins a new life filled with miraculous twists of fate, a profusion of magical synchronicities and a flood of astonishing blessings.

She finds herself in a paradise of breathtaking, endless beauty in the sweetest community she could have ever imagined, happier than she had ever been in her entire life. Nearly every single day at some point she is overcome with rushes of love and gratitude for her former husband and his new wife and knows that she would not change a single thing about her marriage or how it ended.

Obviously there are many juicy details left out of both versions, but the question is, which one do you like better? You can guess which one I chose! My purpose in sharing my stories is to offer hope and inspiration to all who believe that their current life transition is not a story they want to be living.

When we choose to re-write our stories to have a better ending than the ones that seem so horribly likely when we are flooded with the stress hormones that are activated in the midst of changes*, we can transform our current situations, our futures and all whose lives we touch.

New Moons are traditionally a time of new beginnings and on this New Moon, I offer you my first blog. I will write a monthly New Moon post to share my new beginnings and the insights I have gleaned (through a whole lot of humbling failures and some moments of grace) in the hopes it will support you with the new stories you want to create. In addition to all of my stories, I have been studying hundreds of others and look forward to hearing from all of you who have already, or are in the process of, or would like to re-write yours!

On June 21st, the Summer Solstice, I will celebrate the beginning of my new service called Sparks & Leaps which supports families in transforming all kinds of life transitions. Stay tuned.