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!


  1. Due to technical considerations, this went out a bit early. The Solstice is on 12/20 at 3:03 p.m. Pacific time and the New Moon is at 5:36 p.m. But it is never too early to start celebrating!

    1. Enjoy reading your stories keep it up. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you !

    2. Thank you, Anonymous! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!


If you would like to comment without signing into an account, you may select "anonymous" in the drop-down and include your name in your comment.