July 2015 Flower Bowl/Finding My Compass

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Lion’s Tail, Azalea, Alstroemeria, Hydrangea, Osteospermum, Dianthus, Scabiosa

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Creative stagnancy-this is the shadow music that has been playing itself loud and clear these past weeks.  I have ideas, in fact I have come up with several art projects or writing topics, and good ones too.  Ones that in the past I would have jumped on and gotten to.  These ideas cycle through my head and sometimes get written down on paper, but after that nada.  Now I have little pieces of paper scattered all around my home, ideas begun but left incomplete.  And like any recipe a person endeavors to create, if you don’t complete all the steps, there ain’t no pie for dessert.

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I really want my dessert.  Getting a handle on my addictions has had an inverse relationship to my creative output.  I was truly the tortured artist who produced copious amounts of work while under the influence of this, that or the other.  Now that I have been living life with more balance (I have not become a nun, I assure you), it’s been difficult to access that passion that jump started my limbs to make, create, do.  It’s there, but it’s roaming around without a compass.  “Which way is writing?” it says. “Which way to free form art?”  So it goes around in circles, bumping inside me.  And the longer it moves without direction, without release, the greater the pressure build.

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Stagnancy makes me prone to triggers.  With so much pent up energy and emotion, the smallest thing makes me irritated, while bigger things push me over the edge.  In fact, the whole experience of stagnancy is actually not stagnant, as I have come close to blowing my lid a few times.  Writing and creating art, this is half of what keeps me sane.  The longer I wait to initiate, the harder it feels to start.  Like putting off homework or exercise.  The initial period of just doing it is excruciating.

I need my compass calibrated.  Any compass calibrators out there looking for a job?

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Yet I think…as I redefine my life on different terms than I have lived previously, perhaps my compass will magically calibrate on its own?  Is it not new patterns that are established once those that no longer serve are let go?  Does this not take time to create and become comfortable with?  So perhaps my stagnancy is really just transition, which can feel pretty lousy as neither the old or the new is firmly in place.  Like being pregnant or planting seeds in a garden.  Growth that happens on the inside, not yet manifest in the external world.  In fact, being in transition is one of the final phases before birth actually takes place, and is one of the most painful.  We are living beings after all, nothing is ever permanent or without movement.  Change is inevitable.  Even as I write this, I see a tiny, faint arrow beginning to appear on my compass.  It’s flickering and flashing, becoming stronger with each word I write and each moment I take to continue, stay with it, not give up.  I have needed to remember this!  I don’t think I will need that compass calibrator after all.

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

June Flower Bowl 2015/Soothing the Soul

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English lavender, Spanish lavender, fuchsia, azalea, osteospermum, pansy, viola, nasturtium, wallflower, white nemesia, lavender nemesia, clary sage, abutilon, dianthus, salvia, linaria reticulata, tobacco plant

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So I find myself of late, in a familiar place, one that challenges my striving towards inner peace, love and laughter.  I am dancing with low frequency energy and emotions, ones that require me to be attentive and grounded to my own inner light.

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It’s rough now, and a lot of work. But its deep, soulful work if I keep my connection to spirit clear and strong.

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To go through ritual each day, to pray for love and guidance from spirit, this is giving me the power (thank you Rebecca Riyana Sang!) to not only make it through this day, but transmute it.

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To take the time for myself, to be grounded with both Earth and Spirit, to call in my ancestors for help and guidance, that is what I honor today.

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April Aronoff

Photography By April Aronoff

My Temple Garden/Invocation II

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This is what I did today.  I created this.  Before today, this section of the garden looked dramatically different.  I wanted to plant roses, in the hopes that I will one day make my own essential oils.  The flagstone pieces wove their way in, due to my love of stone and art as part of the garden.  I am drawn, each and every moment that I commune with my garden, to the deepest level of Earth connection that I can embrace that day.  Today was a big day of connection.  I am being called deeply, more deeply perhaps than I have ever been called, to expand my spiritual world.  Everything is incredibly rich and expansive and at some moments downright challenging, as this often involves holding a higher frequency when parts of me wish to give in to anger and pain.  I have been full of daily meditation and sometimes ritual for many weeks.  It has been amazing what I can accomplish, what I can transmute, when I move towards opening, towards healing, towards connection with my highest level guides. The veils are thinning, clearly.IMG_3173

I wish for continued stillness within myself, to surrender and hold balance as I sit in the fast moving waters that are my life.  I declare this July 15, the day of the new moon, the day of sowing seeds and intentions, to cast rituals and speak invocation’s, that I will move towards stillness despite the chaos that is present in my live.

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I wish for passion and love to overtake me, my body, spirit and soul.

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To hold both stillness and passion in the widest embrace.

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To hear each other’s heartbeat and recognize that we are the same.

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To finally fly.

April Aronoff

May 2015 Flower Bowl/Bringing On Beltane

IMG_3063Beltane

Fertility-Sexuality- Creativity- Healing- Life

 Beltane is the pagan holiday that falls each April 30/May 1 in the Western Hemisphere.  It is the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, the height of spring, a time of celebration, of fertility, of letting your juices flow.  As I begin to deepen into how I may honor and celebrate Beltane in my own life, I cannot help but recognize all that I have accomplished.  I have let go of addiction, and am feeling good.  I am deeply connected with spirit, and am reveling in how alive and energetic the Earth appears; every tree, flower, bird and rock speaks to me in ways that are beyond words.  The green energy of the Earth and golden light of the cosmos feed me each day as I sit in meditation.  I am blessed 🙂

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Yet there is still more. More to open, shed, compost and seed.  My second chakra is ragingly closed, something I am acutely aware of this year, as Beltane is a celebration of pleasure and sexuality, two energies that reside in the second chakra, and ones I have difficulty embodying.  And while the road may be long and steep (I deal with issues of incest and molestation), my intention this Beltane is to open my arms as wide as I can comfort, and embrace pleasure and sensuality with as much acceptance as my nervous system will allow.  To venture even past the point of comfort to discomfort, for in my discomfort I know there is healing.

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Happy Beltane!

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Spring Equinox Flower Bowl/The Mandala of Life

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As I feel the wheel of life turning ever so strongly in my life, it is the call to death, to passing, to the ending of something and the beginning of another, that I hear. And while the pull to death and dying are typically associated with the autumnal equinox, I can’t help but recognize how integral death is to the re-birth of spring.  Every ending is a genesis, and every death new cells of life.  I wish to celebrate this cycle, recognize its potency, its power to connect to the highest vibration and frequency.  We are all part of this wheel, all going to begin and end, again and again.  To give into this process with peace, to recognize it as part of who you are as much as your hands and feet, to deepen into the cycle of death and spring in your own life, that is true connection with source. 

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Love Letter Remembered

IMG_2949I wrote this last July, when I found myself sitting with depression.  I am posting it again, to remind myself there is always tomorrow, always a do-over, always an opportunity to embrace your shadow with compassion, vs. fester in self-criticism.  

Dearest Beloved,

Let me be your ground, your deep and winding roots that are so established, there is no fear you will fall.  I am flowing water, washing away anything that is less than compassion, less than love.  You are a beautiful creature, created perfectly in My image; nurturing, fierce, full of love.  Why does your heart-break so?  Why does it feel like the highest of frequencies, one that is capable of breaking glass with one long, sustained note?  I can feel the anger, pain and fear that has settled in the path you walk as wife, mother and teacher.  Unplug, empty, and let it wash away.  Fill yourself with Me.  You are a chalice that is meant to hold greatness, a container for the many faces and layers of the One True Being Of Light, a Being that is nothing less than utter perfection, exactly as you are.  Lay yourself down and surrender.  Let Me cleanse all that does not serve the true nature of your heart; pure, unconditional love that is meant to not only give, but to receive.  You have bound yourself, cut yourself free.  You are no longer an abandoned, loveless child hiding in fear from an ancestry of hatred and pain.  You are the Goddess incarnate:  A Living, Breathing Beacon of Blessedness that wishes to wrap you up and hold you tight, fly you beyond anything that has been less than love.  Did you not know you had wings?  They are wet and wishing to open; like a long-awaited stretch let them carry you to the place you call home.  Sit in open-eyed wonder at the beauty of the world around you.  If you cannot find it, shift your gaze, turn you head, empty yourself.  Empty and fill with Me again and again, as many times in a minute, in an hour, in a day as you need.  Feel the love that is not just Me but You, as we are One.

Dearest beloved, put your hand over your heart and just feel.  Let the painful feelings flow.  I will take them, transmute them, free them to evolve into something bold and beautiful.  Creating space to allow more light, more joy, more love.  Sit in your garden as you sit in the light, and bask in the beauty.  And if this is the only place that beauty resides (at this time), sit in this space and let yourself be held.  Do it often and frequent, and let yourself be healed.  And if you feel that pull, that pull into darkness where there is no joy, no light, no love, sit with the darkness and hold it tight.  Soothe it and tell it it’s going to be ok.  Give it the love it does not want you to have, and let it experience the healing that comes from such tenderness.  Imagine that it is a little girl, and you a nurturing, loving mother.  I am the veins in your body, carrying away with ease the heaviness in your soul, bringing in pure, nourishing light.  Lay on my Earth and imagine a thousand fairies sprinkling their healing, magic dust all over your body.  Release and release and release into Me.  Give me your pain, it is mine to transform.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Ode To Oliver and Company

IMG_28632/8/15   There is still so much pain when I remember these experiences.  I am deeply appreciative of the two beautiful creatures that have come into my life, Asia and Tiny.  Through them I am able to heal.

I wrote this piece in my early 20’s, about my childhood experience of owning and giving away many beloved dogs. The picture I am referring to was sent to me by my mother, while at sleep away camp for 8 weeks.

In this picture you are my pal.

It says, “April, I love you and miss you!

Your pal, Oliver.”

Woof!

Oliver, where did you go?

I miss your shaggy presence,

the way you chased

cars down the street,

growled at the wall

while you ate,

licked my face

with long strands of goo,

and loved me

so unconditionally.

Oliver, where did you go?

Oh yes, I remember:

You were dog #2

in a long line of dogs

that were given away,

6 to be exact,

not including the one

we got and returned

the very same day.

Dogs that ran with me in the woods,

and let me lay on them watching TV.

Dogs I grew to love intensely,

each and every one

as if they were mine forever.

Until one day they were taken away,

leaving nothing but a hole in my heart

with a note stuck inside,

“Tough luck kid, dogs don’t last forever!”

And the story goes

that when it came to dogs #5 & 6,

I gave them away,

told them to go,

never quite learning

that something soft and fuzzy

and feeling so, so good,

can indeed be

more than just a memory.

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I am proud to say that I did finally get it.  I have 2 amazing dogs, Asia and Tiny.   It has been a conscious decision to have dogs, as a way of helping center our family around something positive and loving. And it worked 🙂 Asia arrived in June of 2012, Tiny in May of 2013.  Our family both glows and thrives in their presence.

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I now understand that abandoning those poor dogs was a mirror for how dysfunctional my childhood family was.  Parts of me are still integrating these painful memories.  Yet it is through the dance with Shadow that true compassion and self-love are embraced.

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Forever breathing deep,

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

A Day At The Beach

 

I wrote this poem 4 years ago, during a very difficult time.

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Today felt okay.

Sitting at the beach reading a book,

(a book about someone else’s problems for a change)

on this balmy, warm January day,

the anti-thesis of winter,

while my curly haired 4-year old

built sand castles and nests in the rocks.

He would build them up

then smash them down,

the same utter joy

replayed over and over again,

creation-destruction,

it just doesn’t matter

to the mind of a 4-year-old,

and I actually felt okay.

 

The water was still and glassy,

the sand covered in soft, spongy sea-weed,

the product of having been baked for days

in this unusual January sun,

and I read my book

and gazed out at the bay,

and took in the scenes

of other family life

out enjoying this incredible day,

and acknowledged that today was okay.

 

I don’t know what tomorrow brings,

or even what will happen later,

when my husband and difficult 6-year-old

return from their trip,

cranky and tired from their long drive

along these dusty California roads.

The sun will have set by then

and the day almost over,

but for now, I am okay.

 

Just a little bit of joy

having seeped into my center,

after weeks and weeks

of feeling nothing but gloom.

Maybe it will be gone tomorrow

maybe I’ll have to begin again,

a life of one day at a time,

a kind of mentality

designed to help me survive.

 

But maybe it will still be there

and the day after that.

Having taken root in my body,

slowly occupying more space

than anything else,

so that what’s missing in my life

doesn’t throw me into gloom and sadness,

but can instead be just like

my son’s sandcastles,

something I create and destroy

as I see fit.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

 Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

 

 

Healing With Birds

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As I was about to plunge into my darkest hour, that place of utter self-deprecation and fear, a flock of birds began to fly in and out of my garden.  It was quite a sight!  They flew to and from the bare branches of my apricot tree, and the feeling of watching them come and go was nothing short of grace.  They were beautiful; flying away from the tree individually or in pairs, flying back to the tree as a flock, a giant wave made of bird instead of water, landing almost simultaneously on each branch.  It took my breath away.

And I felt myself soften, my desire to avoid slip away.

Now I could connect, tap in, something that felt almost painful in recent days.  I had gone from feeling completely resonant with my intention to experience deep fulfillment, to feeling like I had crossed all the wrong lines within myself.

But then the birds came and filled me with joy.

And it came to me as I sat in stillness that this wobbling, this going off-center, is all part of the experience of going deep.  Of knowing when we have strayed too far from the path and need to get back on track.

And how I handle getting back on track, as difficult as it is, well that’s just another experience of going deep.

I almost beat myself up.  Instead, I helped myself up.

Thanks to the birds 🙂

Magic is everywhere, even in our darkest hour!  I must remember:  It’s important to look to the light, even when the darkness beckons.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Full Moon, 2015

IMG_1492     I am energized from last night’s full moon ceremony, the first full moon of 2015.  I have been running strong energy all day, grounded, from the Earth.  On a walk today I told myself, “Look up to the sky when you’re feeling small, you only need to look up!” {Thank-you Sister Gia!}  And as I walked around the beautiful open space/dog park with my pooches, I felt that expansive energy flowing ecstatically through my body.  My intention of 2015, of experiencing deep fulfillment in my life, is further clarified by knowing this means to go deep in all areas of my life; my husband, my children, work, friendships/community, my body, and of course, my spirituality.  I remember the deep purpose I felt when manifesting with the moon, vowing to love myself, to be the vessel that connects spirit to Earth.  I feel the beginning of a deep connection with spirit and with my soul I have yet to experience.

And I am thank-full that am part of a community that is intertwined in this process.  It was during last eve’s ceremony, that many embers became ignited.

I ventured down, down, deep into the canyon last night, down to the sounds of the rushing river, lit only by the light of our flash lights and the brilliance of the first Full Moon of 2015.

Down by the river I lay on the spongy, leaf covered Earth, comforted by many layers of clothes and the incredible nourishing agent we call Mother Gaia.

I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the creek, rushing in parts, still in others, the flow of water easily pushing the violet flame deeper inside me.

I bathed in the beautiful Full Moon Light, sitting like the child I am in half-lotus position, Letting Her Light Bathe Me to the Bone of My Very Existence.

After this the 6 us went back to the yurt and bundled up under blankets, whispering our intentions quietly to one another, drawing beautiful pictures of what we heard, pictures of our hopes, our light, our strength.

At the end of the night we were all anointed and blessed by each other; such tender care traveling from one soul to another, through touch, through word, through smell.

May we all be blessed to have such community 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

 

 

 

 

November 2014 Flower Bowl/Seeding

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(rose, fushcia, heliotrope, valerian, rosemary, oak hydrangea leaves, pansy)

What I wish the most,

is to create enough space

within me,

for the fire and light

to grow.

May my wish come true:)

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

My Declaration

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I write this as a declaration, to put forth that which can be created simply because I have called it into being.  I hope to be held accountable (to myself only) for my ability to create change.

      “It is time to connect deeply with the world and all of the various environments I am a part of, to not just go through the motions but to be immersed in the making of each moment.  That is living.”

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Self-Love #1

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I.

You are only ever one step away from

joy,

gratitude,

love.

Take it.

II.

Like life,

love begins

and ends

with me.

III.

To love myself is to believe in myself.

In times of success,

of failure,

of starting over.

I BELIEVE IN ME.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Oct. 2014 Flower Bowl/Manifesting With The Moon

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(dahlias, heliotrope, snap dragons, lavender, african basil, alstroemeria, penstemon)

I began this process one week ago, in the dark of the moon.*  As I sat in meditation the intention became clear almost immediately:  To love myself wholly and unconditionally throughout this next moon cycle from dark moon to dark moon.  In addition to the energies of the moon, the Goddess in her many different forms will evolve as the moon evolves, with different archetypes shifting with each changing phase of the moon.

Since then I have moved from the dark moon, to the new moon, to a waning crescent moon.  The Dark Moon corresponds to the Great Mother (i.e., Demeter, Gaia, Pachamama, Mary Magdalene).   Her message:   “I surrender, I receive.”  One opens to the query of an intention that wishes to be heard.  The New Moon corresponds to the Goddess of Compassion (i.e., Kuan Yin, Mother Mary, Tara).  Her message:  “I recognize I seed.” Taking that intention and planting it firmly in the earth and in your soul being.  The Waxing Crescent Moon began today, corresponding to the Priestess (i.e., Lady of the Lake, Selene, Vesta).   Her message: “I amplify in stillness.”  To sit in inward silence, imagining that intention fully blossomed and realized.

And here is where I am hitting a bump.

The first 6 days of this journey were wonderful.  The minute I tried to say anything self berating I stopped and said, “No!” nipping it in the bud.  Then I fueled myself with golden showers of self-empowering words, phrases, affirmations and prayers, calling in every spirit teacher, power animal, or goddess who could witness/support me.

It has been unlike anything I have ever known.  My heart is so full!  So much beauty around me:)

Now I feel the criticisms and inadequacies creeping in.  Some of this is around my issues with addiction, which I have decided to take a rest from confronting.  Some of it is other messy stuff.  My intention is to love myself no matter what…to know that I am whole, complete, exactly as I am, my flaws, my wisdom, my beauty, my big, hot, messy self.  All of it, whole.

It is this that I take in.  It is this that I amplify in stillness.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By: Diana Ray

*Manifesting with the moon is a practice created by the 13 Moon Mystery School.  See http://www13moonmysteryschool.org for more information.

More Thoughts on Healing

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Tonight I cooked shredded zucchini for dinner.  I browned the zucchini in piping hot olive oil and seasoned it with delectable herbs.  Soon a heavenly aroma filled the air.  Over high heat the shredded zucchini, quite juicy when cooked, gave off a warm steam.  That, in combination with the enticing aroma, prompted me to lean into this warm steam, eyes closed, and inhale.  The lusciousness of the sautéed zucchini had me:  I was going to bask in this incredible aroma for all its’ got.  To let my senses roam free as smell and taste and tactile (the steam felt amazing!) took me to an altered state of consciousness.  Then I came out of it.  It was delicious.

Last night I experienced my first sweat lodge.  The aromatic steam created from fresh water poured over hot rocks was incredibly healing.  Mixed with Bear Root, an awakening. Somewhere in there lies tonights’ dinner.  Aho.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

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Thoughts on Healing

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That transition period, going from addict to walking the path of freedom, is not easy.  I have done it before so I know I can do it again, but presently I am finding it dreadfully difficult.  Last time I faced addiction eye to eye was spring, but with the energy of growth and new life, I found turning my back on that which holds me back, easy.  Now, with the arrival of fall and winter to follow, that which needs to die wants to die.  It wants to follow the pull of the Earth as it begins its life cycle of hibernation, dormancy, and death in the Northern Hemisphere.  Yet I struggle much more than last spring.  Perhaps with so much centripetal energy (energy going inward), I find it difficult to let go of that which I have huddled close to for so long.  And there is no way to avoid it; parts of that transition period are going to SUCK, as physically, emotionally and spiritually I will be adjusting, and know this will not feel good.  My inner knowing sees all the beauty that awaits me and I know I am strong.  But also clearly wavering.  My devil/angel are having an argument about who is to blame:  Me (devil); No one, this is my path (angel).  I mostly hang out with angel these days, but I see devil often through the window.  And he looks so needy he is hard to resist sometimes.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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Hello Sisters

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This is a facebook post I gave to my Priestess group.  Big stuff came up.  It inspired me to want to make it a blog post.

Hello Sisters,
I am reaching out because at our 1/2 moon last Monday I hid out. I am continuing to dance with addiction issues, and was afraid to speak; for fear of being weak, a bother, yet again bringing up something that is a struggle. I let shadow take over my right to belong, and for that night it got its way. As for what I want to say, it is this: I truly wish to lay my addiction issues, fears of the unknown, fears of change, to rest. To surrender to the Queen of Death and finally prune what is dying in my soul. There is a small part of me that can feel what it would be like if I did let go, and I can sense it huge and wonderful and expansive.

Some of you have seen my large garden. I have just begun to cut things back, to feel the pull to go inward, like every plant will in coming months in my yard.  I love my new word, “fallow” {thank-you sister for clarifying!) Fallow, that is me.

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Take care and blessings with the full moon in Aries. I have recently joined a women’s new/full moon group and will be sitting in ceremony tonight. I know we will go into the woods in the dark, and walk down a long and winding path to get to a clearing in the Canyon. As I walk I will imagine going down to meet the Queen of Death.

Much peace, April

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My Favorite Piece :)

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This is the part I love most from my last poem, Faith (revised-visit 

http://runninginwater.com/2014/09/30/faith/).

I.

If we keep making the same mistakes

over and over,

never giving up,

never quitting,

despite the addiction

the complacency

the shadow;

if we know

despite our complacency,

our willingness to fumble

again and again,

that we are actually WHOLE

despite our lack of wholeness,

will we not eventually find the way?

photo 2 (8)Diana Ray/April Aronoff

photography by Diana Ray

Me and My Shadow

photo 1 (7) For me the shadow are those aspects of myself that hold me back, keep me in negative patterns, in stagnancy, without growth.  Addiction issues, feeling abandoned, alone, irresponsible, are all biggies for me.  When shadow runs my life, it really stinks.  Life feels oppressive and hopeless.  But if I can have compassion for my shadow, hold those parts of myself that feel less than whole, than perhaps I can heal, grow, move with love.  “I love my shadow as I love myself,” is a new phrase I have learned in my priestess practice.

I am also beginning to understand that shadow comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes shadow is a quiet nagging voice, whose sole purpose is to chip away bit by bit our self-love and self-esteem.  We might not even notice!  Other times shadow means existing in a hell realm, something that seems unbearable to endure. Intense feelings of failure, abandonment or depression.  Sometimes illness or tragedy strikes us or our loved ones, steering us into frustration, helplessness and even anger or rage.   This is where having compassion toward the self is utterly and wholly essential.

It is so easy to give into the dark side of shadow, whose grip can be fierce.  So today I make a choice.  I am going to consciously take shadow’s hand, rub it gently with mine, and then kiss it with love.  The Hawaiian prayer for forgiveness Ho’oponopono, comes to mind:

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

Thank-you  photo 2 (7) If I cannot love and hold all of myself, include that which I loathe, how can I truly know love?  For me, there is no higher purpose. Diana Ray/April Aronoff Photography By Diana Ray

September Flower Bowl

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Slipping in right at the end of September with my flower bowl.  After writing weekly all summer, I find myself with low creative energy.  I feel good in so many ways; I’m contented, notice beauty around me, feel soooo ready to let go of old patterns of living.  Yet my addictions rage on, clearly prepared to put up a fight.  I know I have to be patient through change; its highs and lows, agonies and ecstasies.  I am about to sit in ceremony with the Queen of Death, whose job it is to guide me down, down, down to the underworld of my own shadow.  It is through sitting in shadow that I know I will find ecstasy, for to sit with shadow is to show compassion towards the darkest parts of self.  There is a deep part of me that dreads this process.  Another part is expanding and making space for light.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

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Part of Me

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I feel so much potent energy brewing beneath the surface.  Like the rushing sound of my two garden fountain’s, Cerridwen’s Cauldren hard at work.  Part of it feels epic and life changing, the full knowledge that I have the capacity to plug into my own beautiful, crystalline, grid network.  The rest of me is terrified, feeling completely the challenge that lies between here and there.  Part of me wants to up the ante, to expect more from myself.  This is in stark contrast to the present me who accepts any and every kind of vice.  I give myself over to the Goddess, at my worst and at my best.  I always shoot for the best, even when I’m at my worst.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

August Flower Bowl/Here

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 (dahlia, pansy, dianthus, heliotrope, wallflower, snapdragon, viola, scabiosa, peppermint, spearmint)

Ok, so I am here.  Here is a place I hate to be.  It’s a place of burn-out, of fatigue, of extreme sensory sensitivity.  Traffic noises that did not bother me a year ago when we bought our beautiful home are now driving me crazy.  I am completely burnt out with my job and know that needs to change.  I have wild fears around that, as I barely manage and have no commute and my summers off.

This reminds me completely of an earlier time in my life, when I was also going through a different spiritual crisis that left me tortured by noise.  And there was more noise, as we were living in apartments.  We moved 4 times in 3 years, until finally I found some peace in a small rental house.  I was also delving deep, doing intense therapy and drawing tarot cards, asking myself “why” I was so noise sensitive.  Eventually it became clear:  I sat down and wrote my parents a letter addressing all my unresolved issues with them.  In addition, I also went back to a time in my life when I was an adolescent and in love with the family next door.  They were a close, loving family, who were practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses.  For a spiritual, love hungry junkie like me I was fixed, and over time I adopted their religion.  When my parent’s found out many years later the sit hit the fan.  I was forbidden to go next door and we moved within a year.

This was brought into my awareness by my then student husband who was taking a radio broadcast class and wanted to tell my story on the air.  So I did.  My husband narrated the piece, with live clips of me talking about my experience.  We used pseudonyms.  I was nervous, but it was very healing.

What happened with my parents and the letter was not so healing.  My mother cried and ranted, although in the end said she loved me.  My father pulled away from me completely, as I said some pretty damning things.  This lasted for a few months, until I conceived my older son.  My father loves his grandchildren almost more than his own.  It was the bridge that brought us back together.

So what is the connection?  What am I to gain from knowing that I felt compelled to tell this story of my past?  For it rumbles within my present.  What I went through before was something I called “soul work.”  (A whole other story itself).  I sense deep down I am being called to this again, to soul work.

I have been through this before, and know the gig.  The only way out is through the shadows, into what is most challenging on a soul level.  Now I know why the butterfly appeared 2 years ago; I am finally ready for metamorphosis.

I know I will need to find stillness within myself, which will involve hard choices.  Not something I did so well back then, which is intimidating.  But as my Shaman tells me, “You are stronger than you think.”  I can only hope that in the act of reinventing myself, my senses calm.

Not sure what happens next, but I do know is this:  I must continue to lie on the Earth, to allow her strength to both nourish and relive me.  I have been doing this in the backyard, under a passion-flower vine.  Although my back-yard is loud (quite a quandary for me, as this is where my garden is, and I am an Earth Keeper) that is where the sweet spot is.  May I find peace soon 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By:  Diana Ray

The Funnel

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Feeling really, really shaky.  After a few weeks of finding and settling into my inner light, I am back on the roller coaster of intense anxiety.  It’s such a disappointment to be here so soon, although I am not surprised.  After almost 15 years at the same job, I am aware that I am miserable and that something needs to shift.  This feels scary, and I recognize I have not had to contend with this before.  The misery is starting to wrap itself around my brain and body, leaving me with issues such as chronic stomach pain (going on 7 days now) and noise sensitivity.  It feels like a big black hole that wants to suck me in…

Except it can’t.  I won’t let it.  I remember so vividly about 4 weeks ago feeling completely depressed, feeling like that too wanted to chew me up and spit me out.  Yet so much powerful medicine blew into my life the moment I wrote that post, that those feelings became completely transmuted one week later.  And while my present feelings are different (nervous anxiety vs. heavy depression), the process is the same.  There is something going on in my life that is out of balance.  It reverberates through both my physical and spiritual body leaving me feeling ill, upset and like nothing is manageable.  This is where it is really important not to wallow, to remember that this too, is medicine.  What would be the antidote to this situation?  Finding a job that I find meaningful and fulfilling.  How do I accomplish this?  By pooling together the magic I know I have within me, the magic that lies in Mother Earth, and turning myself over to this energy.  This will involve me physically looking for another job.  But it will also involve me finding strength and empowerment as I go through this process, which will inevitably be stressful.  I must believe that where I stand, in the fire of this discomfort, is part of the journey to fulfillment.  My body and spirit are ready for more, evident by the retching they are doing in response to my current situation.  Space is opening, despite my constriction….

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So I begin here.  First thing is going to be focusing on my health.  Clearing up my GI issues and getting back on track to good sleep must come first.  Soon I’m going to cast a spell to bring health and wellness into my life.  Then I am going to get some herbs for my stomach.  After this the work becomes more nebulous.  Working with the new/full moon, creating a job catcher (I had a house catcher when we were finding a new home), making offerings to the Earth, creating affirmations, visualizing fully how I want to feel at my work, and of course, asking for prosperity as I am half of my households’ income.

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I must connect with the medicine that is inherent in this process.  Struggle always contains medicine, most often the exact medicine required to transmute the struggle itself.  I made a vow to be a spiritual warrior, to not collapse or be a victim of life’s endless challenges.  I have found the light within myself, and I have connected to this feeling.  I refuse to let it go.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray 

Sitting In The Fire

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Sitting in the fire, this is the theme that has been on my mind for weeks.  It began with a desire to write a post about how to attend to depression and anxiety using a variety of alternative methods I had been exploring.  This was when I still felt like I was gasping for air as I sat within the smoky flames of extreme, anxious emotion.  I was relying on so much to help me breathe; crystals, essential oil, soothing music, meditation.  It felt like a long, unending uphill hike with a summit I could not see.

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Now I know that I can move around the flames, allowing the air that feeds the fire to feed me as well.  Discomfort is still present, rising and falling like the flames themselves, changing form as they are fed through my very own breath.  Can I sit within the fire of this discomfort, knowing that at any given moment it may intensity and become a large, roaring inferno?  After 8 weeks off, soon I will return to work.  After 8 weeks off, my 2 challenging boys will return to school.  The demands will be great and the stress high. I know this!  Yet I wish to soften it, breathe into it, let the fire that has felt suffocating become a source of primal energy and empowerment.  Fire can be many things; it can end life and give it fuel to grow.  It can destroy quickly and also restore vital energy through the heat that matches our own internal body signatures.  What is left after fire is ash, recognized as protection in many shamanic and magical circles of life.  I must sit in the fire of my discomfort and find nourishing, life-giving air.  I must let the heat fuel me vs. run screaming in pain.  I must find coherency as my body becomes attuned to the heat, becoming one with it, allowing the crystals of alignment within me to grow as flame grows with breath.  I cannot just wish this.  I must be this.

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I have moved away from feeling victimized by this body and the emotions that have often left me feeling helpless and unable to cope, yet this is recent and I have not gone far.  It feels terrifying as I walk head on into the flames that have once devoured me.  Yet it is Persephone who goes down to the flames of the underworld each year, only to reemerge as Spring Herself, full of budding life and growth.  I must have faith that as I consciously choose to sit within the heat of discomfort, that I will melt, change and transform.  Let all that has not served burn away.  Let the alchemy of fire change what has once been hard and painful, to soft, liquid Source.  Let the heat become the medium that transmutes myself from caterpillar to the great winged butterfly that flew inside my soul some time ago, waiting to be birthed.  May I stand within the flames that are my life with vigor, no matter the heat.  May I be the Phoenix rising.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Spiritual Express

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I received such an outpouring of love from so many beautiful souls with my last post (http://runninginwater.com/2014/07/22/love-letter/).  It made me realize how incredibly healing it is to express my complete essence and have it witnessed and mirrored by others.  I have experienced such an alchemical week.  It was only last Monday that I sat down and wrote my love letter, the conscious decision to walk toward the light vs. collapse into darkness.  Since then I have had a major shift with how I think and view myself.  It began as a string of events which I will share with you now.

The day after I wrote the love letter, I sat with my Shamanic teacher and shared with her my feelings.  She insisted we journey together, so I laid myself down on the sofa with music and headset, pressed play on a 10 minute drumming session, and closed my eyes.  The question suggested by my teacher was about the darkness and why it was there.

Immediately I saw myself in tribal wear, standing on the backs of crocodiles as we rode down the river.  A long line of these ancient, reptile creatures extended both in front and behind me as we flowed in rhythm to the moving water.  I felt strong and powerful as I stood tall, a staff in my left hand standing at my side.  I felt incredibly empowered, a feeling I had not experienced in a long time.

I sat with this experience for the next 2 days, not fully understanding.  I received an anointing (an ancient practice of using essential oils, crystals and tuning forks to move energy) from a priestess sister and afterward sat with the sister who had worked on my body.  As she talked my journey suddenly became clear, as if someone was narrating words to a short video.  She told me to wear my depression and intense feelings like a badge of armor, something to own and find power in.  As she talked I felt the empowerment rush in, that feeling of standing tall on the backs of crocodiles as we rode down the river.  I suddenly knew that I could handle all of it, the intensity of the ride in this human body, the depression, the anger, the anxiety.  I was not a victim.  I could do it.

The next day I set aside time to meditate and made a sand-painting, something I had been desiring to create.  Here is a picture:

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Like the journey, the sand painting is making itself known in bits and pieces.  There is a central vertical line running from top to bottom that has direct meaning for me:  the red rock on the bottom center is tiger iron, charged by an ascended master.*  It represents the first 3 chakras, those that need the most healing in my body.   Above that is my butterfly of transformation and above that my favorite crystal, pink quartz.  Pink quartz is special to me, as it represents the giver and receiver of unconditional love, something I am working on in this life time.  Above this is a rock that was a gift from my husband, a being I love deeply and want to deepen with.  The rest makes a beautiful design that is ultimately crowned by a dolphin and sea shells.  I saw dolphins yesterday at the beach and was overcome with tearful beauty.  It pierced my heart as it washed through me.

The next day I sat in ceremony with the Wise Woman/Crone.  Her message is one of letting go, of becoming a witness to one’s own ego.  It is a lesson in impartiality, as the Wise Woman/Crone does not get triggered by life’s many difficulties.  She knows that life is going to happen anyway so you might as well take it with grace and a sense of humor.   Today has been a day of high anxiety.  I sat down to meditate with Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, yet it was not She who heeded my call.  It was the Wise Woman/Crone who appeared, helping me dissolve my feelings of stress as her relaxed demeanor became liquid running through my veins.  It was She who helped me get through the day.

I am a spiritual warrior.  I live with depression, addiction and find parenting more challenging than I ever could have imagined (http://runninginwater.com/2012/08/11/my-story/ ; http://runninginwater.com/2012/11/18/my-storymy-other-son/).  Like many, I have a wounded past and have stood outside my life for most of my existence.  My quest this year has been one of total integration, of finding authentic presence.

I am going to continue to ride crocodiles down the river.  To call in the Wise Woman when I feel myself falter.  To pave this spiritual path I walk with my own footprints, no matter how frantic or angry or depressed are my steps.  I am going to continue to share my experience with others, for my life to become the mirror of oneness that binds us all as soul brothers and sisters.  I beckon you, walk with me.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*For info on charged tiger iron and the ascended master, go to : http:// tdjacobs.com

 

Love Letter

photo 1 (17)So, I have found myself holding hands with depression.  This is a love letter I have written to myself, in response to how I feel.

Dearest Beloved,

Let me be your ground, your deep and winding roots that are so established, there is no fear you will fall.  I am flowing water, washing away anything that is less than compassion, less than love.  You are a beautiful creature, created perfectly in My image; nurturing, fierce, full of love.  Why does your heart-break so?  Why does it feel like the highest of frequencies, one that is capable of breaking glass with one long, sustained note?  I can feel the anger, pain and fear that has settled in the path you walk as wife, mother and teacher.  Unplug, empty, and let it wash away.  Fill yourself with Me.  You are a chalice that is meant to hold greatness, a container for the many faces and layers of the One True Being Of Light, a Being that is nothing less than utter perfection, exactly as you are.  Lay yourself down and surrender.  Let Me cleanse all that does not serve the true nature of your heart; pure, unconditional love that is meant to not only give, but to receive.  You have bound yourself, cut yourself free.  You are no longer an abandoned, loveless child hiding in fear from an ancestry of hatred and pain.  You are the Goddess incarnate:  A Living, Breathing Beacon of Blessedness that wishes to wrap you up and hold you tight, fly you beyond anything that has been less than love.  Did you not know you had wings?  They are wet and wishing to open; like a long-awaited stretch let them carry you to the place you call home.  Sit in open-eyed wonder at the beauty of the world around you.  If you cannot find it, shift your gaze, turn you head, empty yourself.  Empty and fill with Me again and again, as many times in a minute, in an hour, in a day as you need.  Feel the love that is not just Me but You, as we are One.

Dearest beloved, put your hand over your heart and just feel.  Let the painful feelings flow.  I will take them, transmute them, free them to evolve into something bold and beautiful.  Creating space to allow more light, more joy, more love.  Sit in your garden as you sit in the light, and bask in the beauty.  And if this is the only place that beauty resides (at this time), sit in this space and let yourself be held.  Do it often and frequent, and let yourself be healed.  And if you feel that pull, that pull into darkness where there is no joy, no light, no love, sit with the darkness and hold it tight.  Soothe it and tell it it’s going to be ok.  Give it the love it does not want you to have, and let it experience the healing that comes from such tenderness.  Imagine that it is a little girl, and you a nurturing, loving mother.  I am the veins in your body, carrying away with ease the heaviness in your soul, bringing in pure, nourishing light.  Lay on my Earth and imagine a thousand fairies sprinkling their healing, magic dust all over your body.  Release and release and release into Me.  Give me your pain, it is mine to transform.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Crossing The Threshold

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My heart is heavy.  I stood in ceremony with the Goddess ISIS last Sunday, and crossed the threshold to let go of anything that is not complete and total truth in my life.  This means letting go of the belief that LIFE=Pain, something I have come to understand has been my modus operandi for a long time.  Life=Pain has left me with an inability to handle the challenges that have come my way without serious numbing or dissociation of what has been most intense.  And while I have written post after post about how I am committed to this opening, of shedding the layers of gunk I have equated with safety and protection, now that I am smack dab in the middle of this rawness it feels like my heart will break with pain.  This crossing has been in conjunction with my family leaving for 2 weeks, without me.  In finishing work and deadlines, and moving into more training as my role as Priestess, I had not allowed myself to tap into how this alone time might be.  I felt it looming a few days prior to their departure, and yesterday a deep well of loneliness descended upon me like a thick and immobilizing fog.

This loneliness is old, one I backtracked to residing in my being as early as 5 years of age, likely earlier.  This is just when I have concrete memories of feeling scared in the face of the community I called my family, my school, my neighborhood.  Children were cruel to me from a young age, and I had no adult super-heroes coming to my rescue, as many of them were committing crimes against me as well.  Life=Pain was seeded young, as it has been for many of us.  It is so hard to have faith that there is something beyond this, that there is a way out of the sticky web of self-doubt and depression that clings to you like Poison Ivy, spreading every which way without serious intervention.

There are no accidents.  I have been asking for authenticity for a long time, have taken two steps forward and one step back in this dance I am doing with truth.  I have gone back and forth with consuming agents of self-sabotage, anything to make it easier, more bearable, to let in what is real.  I now know there is no way to what is real except through this unbearable pain, to transmute it.

Years ago I crossed another threshold, one that brought me to a place of just feeling my grief, which had been boxed up and shut away my entire life.  Every time I got close to it I ran, never letting myself have the experience of grieving what I had been through in my years of living.  Feeling=annihilation.  Through time I learned this was not so, that in feeling what was there and shedding my tears, tremendous release could take place.

Now I can be vulnerable.  I can feel and cry with ease, and have experienced true empowerment in my ability to be an open channel with my feelings.  But I can’t stay with it.  I have not fully let these experiences go as my feelings continue to remain more pain than joy.  I have learned how to co-exist with them, but it is clear they are still running the show.

I had thought that crossing the threshold meant rising above my story of LIFE=Pain, that in my deep desire I would magically release this way of existing in the world.  Now I see that what I crossed was a threshold of willingness to be in it.  Of being in this pain so fully that I have no choice but to transmute it, or let it kill me.

I don’t know how I will do this, but I do know I am not going to hole up and let myself retract till I’m broken.  I need to reach out; to the sisterhood I have found, to the others out there who wish to heal, not only themselves but this beautiful planet that continues to care for humanity despite our mistreatment, and to the wonderful teachers that are so readily available in this day and age of instant connection.

I can only continue to move forward.  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

The Magic of the Medicine Bag

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Today is a slippery day.  Not the kind of liquid surrender you feel when water is washing over you, but the kind of wet that makes it hard to find ones footing and get grounded.  I can’t seem to stick to my convictions, and I am slipping all over the place.

I decided to make a new medicine bag.  My dog actually ate my old one, which really upset me as it was the first medicine bag I made.  I managed to salvage the baby mourning dove feather, although it is a little smooshed.  The rest is gone, although can be re-created 🙂

I was going to do some research on the best herbs to facilitate grounding and focus.  I still may do this, but I am not going to wait as my soul is in need of something immediate.  The image that came to me was a re-playing of a vision I had while shamanic journeying.*  I was given a context before starting, of asking the Earth for wisdom.  I was immediately taken to the open desert, where I danced before the fire.  An Isis type goddess came to me and told me I needed grounding.  She then picked me up, held me high, and planted me firmly in the Earth.  Any movement after this was very difficult, as I had been rooted deeply up to my knees!  I then became a snake and began shedding my skin….

After this experience, I began a second journey, this one involving a rock.  I was to talk to the spirit of the rock, and see if it had any messages for me.  I held the little pink rock on my heart chakra as I began. Again I traveled, this time to a 90 degree sheer face of rock, the mother of the baby rock I held against my heart.  I lay my body against this massive piece of Earth as it spoke to me.  It told me that what I held against my heart was actually a small fragment of a much greater force.  A force that is solid, protective, powerful and energetic.  Pure Earth energy.  I am to surrender to this force, like water.  In my act of surrender, of giving in to this life current, I can than harness this Earth energy and use it in my daily life.  It is there for me to access and wants to help.

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I know without a doubt that this little pink rock is going inside the medicine bag, along with the mourning dove feather (love with my partner and children), a fimo bead of the Goddess Diana, (the first Goddess I remembered), some lavender (calm, soothing) and ash (protection).  I may add more to this bag, but for now I am going to assemble it and wear it for the next bunch of days.  If there is any way to get solid with convictions and living purely from the heart, a piece of Mother Earth will surely do.

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Blessings on your own journey to peace of heart!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*Shamanic Journeying:  through the beat of drums and rattles, one goes in a trance like state where they can travel and meet any number of spirit guides or helpers.

New Moon In Gemini/The Gift of Alchemy

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Tomorrow the moon will be new in Gemini.  New moons are a time to make a wish, cast a spell, and lay an intention for something to unfold.  Gemini is ruled by Mercury, which governs our thoughts and ideas.  This new moon is an opportunity to clear the mind of disquieting thoughts, begin a project, or generally seek new patterns of thinking and moving through the world.  Personally I am going to be looking to this new moon as an opportunity to seek wisdom as I struggle with some very potent anxiety.  Just the idea of making this intention softens me to this place of struggle, allows me to hold it with compassion, vs. anger that it is there.

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In traditional tarot Mercury was known as the Magician, the great Alchemist.*   The ability to change, transmute, from one state of being to another.  This is the power that lies within this new moon.  To change with intention, how we think and see the world.  We are our own ingredients in the cauldron of this new moon.  Welcome the stirring and mixing, and the inevitable newness that comes when such magic is cast…..

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Make your intention.  Light a candle, write it down, burn it or bury in the Earth.  Create an affirmation that you say over and over, every day, beyond this new moon.  Let it ripen and grow as the moon itself moves towards its full state, on the 12th of June, when the power of that intention will bear its fruit for you to savor.

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Have a Blessed Day/Eve!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

 

*From Mooncircles.com (I love them)

Re-Title: Finding Solace In Spirt

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As I struggle with what it feels like to be off antidepressants, to no longer consume numbing agents in order to cope with life, remembering that MAGIC IS EVERYWHERE has been my saving grace.  Walking through a magical portal, hugging my favorite tree and feeling its deep roots ground me into Earth, using these images to find peace within the chaos that once consumed me, that is TRUE MAGIC.  Holding this space for myself when times are hard is the alchemy I surrender to, for within this alchemy lies unlimited transformation.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

Inner Knowing and Devotion

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December 2013 Flower Bowl

Happy Solstice/New Year!

May You Be Healthy and Well!

Inner Knowing and Devotion.

I have made these two Light Qualities, Inner Knowing and Devotion, a focus for this next month, and into January 2014.  My Devotion is to the Divine; beginning with Me, extending out to my Family, Community, and to the Oneness I call Spirit/Mother/That Which is Everything.

My Inner Knowing is the place deep within Me where all Wisdom resides, all Memory, all sense of Community, Creativity, Passion, and the Ability to stand in whatever is Present, be it Joy or Pain.

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Did you know Royal Blue/Sapphire is the color of Stillness/Deep Knowing?  I just learned this, and since then cannot take it off my body.

Have a Wonderful New Year!

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Visions of Forgiveness

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This is what I see when I come out of meditation in front of my zen garden outside.  It’s even more startlingly beautiful when I am jolted out of meditation, such as I was today when my little black dog barked in my ear.   I am flored by this beauty.  Something so easy to own, a flowering part of the Earth, does this for me.  I swoon on my knees in my garden repeatedly, it is that healing.  And anything that healing must have all the answers.  So here is what I know:

There is no act that is not worth forgiving.  Part of experiencing deep joy and startling beauty is being able to forgive, especially oneself.  How can a world providing such intense beauty not be available to everyone?  Forgiveness softens the edges, brings out the colors, makes everything brighter and more soulful than before.  You can’t really experience all there is without forgiveness.  All that icky stuff takes up so much space it dulls the senses, leaving a mere hint of what is really out there.

And for me, a person in the absolute throws of addiction issues, forgiveness is most important.  If I didn’t forgive myself I think I would rot from the inside out.  I can even imagine what this feels like:  an extension of my darkest moments becoming bigger and more amplified, so that it is the darkness, not the beauty, that becomes a way of life.  I don’t even want to go there.

I want to forgive myself, no matter how many times I mess up or make mistakes.  I want to be as honest and truthful as I know my highest self already is.  I want to continue to strive for the light, color, extraordinariness that tingles from my head to my toes, the mere moment I look at my garden.  I want to brush off the dirt, again and again, every time I stumble, no matter how bad, how socially inappropriate, how alienating it may be.  I want to forgive myself because the alternative sucks.  And because I know that it’s vital that I do, that I am worth it.  A wonderful friend told me this today:

“Sending you the violet flame of compassion.

 A love that comes with strong and fierce commitment to yourself

and those most important to you.  Trusting that you have the power and resources you need within you,

to not only make it through this day,

but to also stand for the highest possibilities of your life, and fully liberate yourself from any past patterns that have held you back.  It matters.  And you matter.  And you can do this. 

And reach out for support when you need it.  There is a wise and powerful circle of sisters standing with you and for you.”

 And during meditation today, as I put all my intention around finding my deepest truth with this issue, I was told this:

 “You need to be on your path.”  When I asked,

“What path is that?”  I was told, “Your path is The path.  It’s the path you are on. “

I am exactly where I should be, nor matter how much I want to say I can be better, or more than I Am.  Even if there is a part of me that wants to beat me up from the inside out.

I am going to continue to forgive, and strive for the light.

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

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Addiction Is Staying With Me For The Holidays

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Her name Is Addiction

and she’s staying with me

for the holidays.

“Dee,” we call her for short.

 

Dee slipped into

my life

right before Thanksgiving,

and now has moved into

every room of the house.

 

Dee doesn’t care

that I have kids,

or drive a car

or go to work.

She lives by her own impulses,

and makes demands

that must be met

any time

at any moment

of any day.

 

What would happen

If I said, “no” is not known,

as Dee is very persuasive,

often leaving me feeling sleepy,

and malleable just enough,

so that a boundary,

any boundary,

can be pushed with ease.

 

Dee knows her visit is mixed;

intense pleasure

alongside intense angst;

angst over my permissiveness,

my everything is okay-ness,

over admitting

that I enjoy Dee

and her presence,

no matter how much

she burn’s me out.

And that I let her

get away with more shit,

than any other being

I have in my life.

 

I hope I don’t see Dee again

for some time (undefined).

Her stay is not forever,

and even she will know

when that stay

has been out welcomed,

slipping away

in the same manner

as always;

slow, languid,

a heavy trail of essence,

fragrant in every room,

reminding me

that she has been here

or is coming

and that I better be ready.

 

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Foundations and Rituals in the aftermath of Connecticut

In honor and memory of all that have past since last year. I wrote this l a few days after the shooting. I continue to feel strongly that it is through our deep understanding that we are not individuals but a village here on this Earth, that deep healing will begin. What affects One affects All.

Running In Water

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Today I went to a yoga class, that focused solely on the 4 corners of the hands and feet.  The beginning was slower than I was accustomed, with much attention given to what the teacher called “the foundations of yoga,” the 4 corners of the hands and the feet, and how the alignment of these squares affects our ability to feel grounded as we move through the poses, and how this translates to living our lives.  The painstaking time she took to bring our attention to something so basic as pressing down the 4 corners of the hands or feet, in order to get the most out of a pose, struck deep.

My life, much like everyone’s since last Friday (12/14/12), has been shaken considerably by the sudden loss of such young life, and has left me feeling unsure of what to do.  I have sent daily healing prayers across…

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On Addiction, Letting Go, and Making Space For Magic

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I can feel it too, almost like dipping your toe into a wonderfully warm, calm ocean, where that one contact vibrates down all your bones and you know it’s going to be good.

Diana Ray

photo (56)Photography By Diana Ray

Last Night

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Last night my older son Louis had a meltdown.  If you’ve been following this blog, you know what that means:  screaming, physical aggression, destruction of property.  It’s been happening a lot lately, ever since school began, after a wonderfully tantrum free summer (to learn more about Louis go to http://runninginwater.com/2012/08/11/my-story/ ).

This evening was super-bad, prompted by Paul taking away the children’s end of day TV.  It had been a long, unsatisfying day.  The boys had hung out with their cousin, which had gone poorly.  They had already been fighting on and off for days.  They began to go at it in the living room, and Paul, who was dealing with his own issues of self-regulation, began to get unfairly angry at Louis.  I called for a break; that each person go to their room, with said electronic and unwind.  Louis, who was watching a show on the big TV, promised he would behave.  I wanted to give him that chance (although to be honest, more than 50% of the time he has no control over himself and can’t get it together), but Paul said not to give in, that it was either him or the TV.  What could I do?  I stuck by Paul, despite Louis’ desperate crying, begging and pleading.  Which soon escalated to screaming, throwing and hitting.  Some of the screaming came from Paul.  I finally chased Louis into his room, where he lay face down on his bed.  I laid my weight on top of him, my chest on his back, partly to help him calm, partly in anticipation of an attack.  It was at that moment that Paul came in.  The neighbors had stopped by, angry that we were having another night of “a screaming fest.” It was a hot night, and all our doors and windows were open.

Paul and I were taken aback.  Would they call the police?  Had they heard Paul lose his temper and yell at Louis?  We both suddenly felt terrible, although for very different reasons.  For Paul this was the first time someone had mentioned his temper.  Regulating his anger was an ongoing issue since Louis’ arrival in our lives. For me it felt like we were failing as a family.  I come from a long line of abusive families with mental health issues.  This only reinforced it in my blood.

Yet the night wore on, and even Louis calmed under the pretense of our neighbors listening.  The next day I awoke feeling sad and heavy, with every movement feeling like I was walking through emotional mud.  It had been a long time since I had felt so down, and I couldn’t help remembering 4 years ago, when I felt like this every day.  It felt good to know we had grown as a family, yet I dreaded the conversation I knew I had to have with my neighbor.  It would go like this:  I would explain about Louis, Aiden and our family.  They would be initially aloof (Paul said the wife was pissed), but then warm.  I knew this because this had been our experience with our old neighbors, when Louis and Aiden were small.

I took the dogs for a walk and inhaled deeply.  I gathered my courage as I did a bouquet of flowers, and walked next door.  The husband answered, with a soft face.  I sincerely apologized as I handed him the bouquet, and gave a brief synopsis of Louis and Aiden.  He was genuinely appreciative, and said that he and his wife figured it was some parenting issue we were struggling with.  My turn to warm; there was no aloofness, only kindness.  We parted on good terms, and as I walked away a hummingbird sang his song.

I went from feeling heavy to elated in the span of 5 minutes.  It wasn’t nearly as rough or sticky as I was expecting.  If anything it was fluid, a positive exchange of energy.  This was more than I could’ve hoped for, and I wasn’t even expecting it.

It felt really good.

How can I bridge this kindness to my family?  How can I help us function as a unit, where we aren’t always fighting, reprimanding, scolding or yelling?  I do know this:  I can’t be the only one in this family who wants it.  Despite my kids’ issues, I know their hearts are pure.  They want peace as much as Paul and I.  It’s a matter of catching that desire and fueling it, so it becomes first an interest, and then a habit.  I’ve had lots of ideas thus far (building a family totem pole; hiking a certain number of miles together), but no successes.

I am not giving up.

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

The Garden That Grew From Within Part IV

photo 1 Look at these plants, they are sooo small.  This is my new garden, or at least the first attempt at it.  A few weeks ago we had walls torn down, plants recycled, an arbor built and soil turned.  The garden is already huge, and it’s not even finished.   I have yet to have my veggie planters built, or build my living wall.  Part of the garden needs drainage work, and has been untouched by plant.  Ground Cover needs to be put everywhere.  Vines need to be grown. photo (49) I can picture it so vividly in my mind; lush and green, peaceful, a reflection of me.  Hummingbirds and butterflies everywhere.  The sounds of our 2 new fountains (can you believe it, they came with the house!) making me feel fluid, freeing, flowing.

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This sounds so beautiful, and I know it will be.  But the garden is not there, no matter how much I wish it so.  It is not yet lush and green.  The hummingbirds and butterflies have just begun to check me out. More than one plant has broken under the feet of the dogs.  The garden, while beautiful in its micro size, is just a baby.

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Which means that I too, am in infancy stages.  Here I am, in a new house with a new garden.  I am about to begin a new group, that 13 moons from now, will ordain me as a Priestess.  I will be profoundly different one year from now; I know this in my soul.  My garden will be grown, lush and full of life.

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Have I emerged from the chrysalis and not seen it?  Am I standing here with wet wings, new to the world, yet with the memory of all that I have lived before?

It sure feels like it.

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Sacred Prayer II

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This is my first water bowl at the new property, the one that lives with my statue of the Goddess, Kuan Yin.  I made it yesterday, with a mixture of flowers from the old and new garden.

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I did a meditation today, in front of this bowl.  The water represents ease and flow; two things I am always chasing in my life.  The flowers are nature and beauty, and are an offering to Kuan Yin.  This is what I proclaimed and heard while meditating:

Help me to know my path and see the truth, and to walk with as much intensity, commitment, and passion as I can muster. 

I felt this from my gut, and was both surprised and pleased that my feelings matched my words, that I was connected, plugged in.

May you know your path and see your truth.  May you walk with intensity, commitment, and passion.  Say it, even if you don’t feel it.  Write it down and bury it in the ground, if a voice is too difficult.

Keep wishing and wanting and trying.

I myself, I am arriving.

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Chakra Clearing

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Charkas are energy centers located along the axis of the spine. We all know the formula e=mc2, where the mass of a body is a measure of its energy content.  As people we have both mass (weight) and energy (the body’s systems in motion).  I chose to believe that my energy is a direct connection to spirit, or Mother Earth.  I even imagine roots growing down from my feet and into the ground.  You do not need to think like I do, or even to believe in anything, for this visualization to work. The only requirement is to know that energy in the body ( e=em2) can be affected by negative thoughts, difficult decisions, unhealthy life style.  This manifests as high stress/cortisol levels, high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia/sleep deprivation etc., which then leads to disease.  The Chakra Clearing Exercise is meant for anyone who wishes to unwind, slow down, let go…..

So here we go.

Imagine that the spine is the flow of energy that runs up and down the body and the chakra (area of the body) the pit stop the energy makes along the way.  Chakras are like pumps and valves regulating this energy, and experiences or decisions made in life may impede or block this energy.  This can lead to a variety of aches and pains, both emotional and physical.  This exercise can help.  It is most powerful when done repeatedly, every day, although even one time can make a huge difference.

Begin by sitting upright, with your legs folded, or in whatever manner leaves you comfortable.  Sitting upright will help with the imagery.  Take deep, slow breathes in and out the nose.  Imagine that with every in breath your heart opens from the back, drawing energy in, and with every outbreath your heart opens from the front, drawing energy out.  I like to say words to myself as I breathe in and out; love (in breathe), peace (out breathe), love, peace, love, peace…

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I. Root Chakra, First Chakra

The Root Charka is located at the base of the spine, near the tailbone.  It represents feeling grounded and stable in life.  Issues with this charka are very primal, as this area symbolizes basic feelings of survival, such as having food, money, shelter, safety.

Now imagine that every inch of your bottom that touches its sitting surface is actually a ceiling, and that on this ceiling exists a trap door, one that opens like French doors.  Now open them and release.   You can imagine specific things releasing if they come to mind, water and light is nice to start, or as I do sometimes, a general blob.  It’s important not to think too much, just to open and release.  Don’t analyze; just let it happen.  Your spirit/higher self will know why those things were released.

II. . Sacral Chakra, Second Chakra

Now imagine there is another ceiling above this, about 2 inches below the naval, directly above the Root Charka.  This is the Sacral Chakra.   Issues with this chakra often include female health issues, difficulties with relationships, friendships, and intimacy. Open the doors and release like before.

III. Solar Plexus Chakra, Third Chakra

The next ceiling is located in the upper abdomen.  This is the Solar Plexus Chakra.  This represents feeling confident and in control of life.  Issues with this chakra involve poor breath, poor posture, and low self- image/lack of confidence/low self-esteem. Open the doors and release.

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IV.  Heart Chakra, Fourth Chakra

The next ceiling is located in the center of the chest, just above the heart.  This is the Heart Chakra.  This represents our ability to love, feel peace, have joy.  Issues with this chakra can be an obstacle to achieving these things.  Open the doors and release.

V.   Throat Chakra, Fifth Chakra

The next ceiling is located in the throat, and is called the Throat Chakra.  This chakra represents communication, self-expression of feeling, and speaking ones truth.  Issues with the chakra can lead to unhealthy communication patterns, an inability to speak one’s mind/stand up for one self/trust one’s own thoughts.  Open the doors and release.

VI. Third Eye/Brow Chakra, Sixth Chakra

The next ceiling is located on the forehead, between the eyes.  This is the Third Eye/ Brow Chakra.  This chakra represents our ability to focus and see the big picture in life.  How we think and make decisions, our access to intuition, imagination and wisdom resides here.  Issues with this chakra can make it difficult to make good decisions, feel inspired, and follow your path.  Open the doors and release.

VII. Crown Chakra, Seventh Chakra

The last ceiling is located at the very top of the head.  This is the Crown Chakra.  This represents our ability to be fully connected with our higher self/spirit/god/goddess, etc., our inner and outer beauty, and our connection to bliss.  Discontent, jadedness and an overall lack of meaning in life can result when this chakra is blocked.  Open and release.

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It is important to focus on the Root Chakra first and foremost.  If this one is closed it won’t matter if the others are open.  The energy line starts here (if you choose to think this way).

Google it, if you want to know more about Chakras!

Blessings,

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

*Some of this information was obtained from The 7 Chakras for Beginners, by MINDBODYGREEN, 10/28/09.

Sacred Prayer I.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

This was an affirmation I said almost daily for many years. I wrote it sometime in 2005/6, when Louis and Aiden were babies and life was terribly difficult. It was my mantra, and the thing that kept me tethered when everything else was falling apart.
Diana Ray

Sacred Prayer I.

I pray to God
to help me dig deep,
to help me find
that place of inner peace,
inside me.
Patience,
calmness,
light,
love.
To help it flow
from my center,
and touch all of me;
my toes,
my fingertips,
all of my surfaces,
so I can carry this
out into the world,
touching everything I love,
and helping that too,
find peace.

One Year Later…

One Year Later….

I began this blog one year ago, as a means of promoting myself as a writer. Over the course of 4 years, I wrote a memoir about my family of origin, something that was both liberating and incredibly painful to re-experience.  I am very thankful that I took this history of myself, that it is all in written word. My intention was and is to share this story with the world, if I am so blessed. I was a child of a Jewish middle class family through the 70’s and 80’s. This was complete with any number of atrocities that can happen within families: fraud, adultery, incest, eating disorders, mental health issues, verbal abuse… I am one of many who have lived to tell the tale.

But one year later, this is no longer my goal. What started as structured (writing essays on my crazy family-life with special needs kids), began to grow and grow, and morph and change, and grow some more. My blog, which is truly my heart’s desire, is full of many things; essay, poetry, children’s poems. I have delved into the deeply spiritual, and reflected it back in my writing. I am active with other writers through online media (new as of June 2013). I am putting it out there, that I would like to share more.

This next year is going to be about my family of origin, that much is clear. This includes not only my parents and siblings, but ancestry as well. There is much pain converging presently with my family of origin, and I know that pain runs deep in our blood-line. So much pain passed down from one generation to another, never healed, always raw… This continues to live on today, in my sibling’s family, and of course, my own.
If you want to learn more about me, continue to read “Who Am I,” for specifics. Or, you can read any of my post’s….

Diana Ray

Walking The Line

Another poem from 2011. Life is so interesting; my thoughts regarding this particular topic are quite different now. Would love to hear from readers who have enjoyed my work. Many of you are mighty talented yourselves!

Diana Ray

Walking The Line

I fought it off
as long as I could.

I picked up my kid,
came home
and pulled weeds,
met with the gardener,
and cooked dinner.
My mind went
back and forth
like a ping-pong ball
in slow motion.

I desperately wanted to,
like a runner
wants a long drink
after a 10-mile run
in 80 degree heat,
completely necessary
and ultimately satisfying.

But the tug of reason
had a loud voice too.

“If you do it,
you will be a slug.
You will listen to music
while you wash the dishes,
then watch t.v
til you are so heavy-lidded
and lethargic,
you can barely make it
up to bed.

You’ll wake up
in the night
having to pee sooo bad,
your mouth
as dry and cottony
as that humming bird nest
found in the tree
the other day.
But you won’t get up,
as the slush
in your head
anchors you to bed,
it’s heaviness outweighing
even the worst needs
to pee and drink.”

But it’s been
a long week
and I’ve worked
really hard.
At my full time job
I go to every day,
and as a parent
of two small boys
who are close in age.
One of them so sweet,
but going through
a screaming phase,
the other quite difficult
and sometimes unpredictable,
leaving me
never quite sure
how life will be.

So why can’t I relax
and just do what I want?

Is it because
I never find the time
to write or submit my work,
something I talk about often,
but have yet to do,
the knowledge that
if I give in,
nothing creative
will ever get done?

Or does it remind me
too much
of life 12 years ago,
when I gave in every day
and was truly miserable.
More because I couldn’t deal
with a painful childhood
than anything else.
I was a basket case then.

But now is different
and I’ve accomplished a lot.
I’ve gone to therapy
and learned to cry,
I’ve had it out with my folks
and still remained friends,
I’ve more than survived
a 15-year relationship
that is still going strong,
and I’ve discovered
that I love to write.

So I deserve this night
of music and boobing,
of walking out
into my beautiful garden,
and feeling so gently
that soft and tiny
humming bird nest
I found the other day,
being extra careful
not to disturb it,
as the slightest wrong move
would make it all go away.

So I retire the ping-pong ball
and put the kids to bed,
get the music playing
as loud as it will go,
knowing I have
about 30-minutes to clean,
before my favorite show is on,
and step through
the laundry room door
into the chilly night air,
the side of the house
so incredibly lush
with fresh flowers and plants
I put in last week,
its fragrance of Earth
reminding me
of how much
I love to garden,
and turn my body
so the slight breeze
will not put out my flame,
as I take a big toke.

The Healer is Healed

tarot

This is the 6 of discs (from The Motherpeace Tarot). It signifies having enough, generosity, sharing good health and fortune. Here someone is giving a healing, and in the process becomes healed. Positive energy is like that; when we give from a place of love, it often circles back to touch our own lives. This was my experience this morning.

I gave a tarot card reading to my cherished, no longer teaching at my favorite studio, yoga instructor. I cried when she left; she was just one of those people who came along at the right time, said the right things, and made a difference in life. Thank-you to you, you know you who are!

After the reading, I puttered around a bit and then it hit me: that little slice of healing, circling back. It was small, as my defenses have been raging, but I felt it. It was strong and wonderful! I suddenly felt inspired to call my mentor, a tiny, Jewish shamanic woman, who has also been an incredible healing/teaching presence in my life. I told her I was finally ready to begin letting go, to cut back on M&M’s, to face what has been hard in life. She told me with every ounce of her being how wonderful this was, and that she had been thinking of me. Then she told me about the fire ceremony: a ritual where the participant makes a talisman, a creation made specifically for the purpose of letting go. It could be made of anything; yarn, twigs, wood, metal, anything desired. Then it is attached to a stick and burned. Another talisman is created for the purpose of bringing in. We made a date to meet and said our good-byes.

I felt my tiny slice get larger.

Precious, tiny slice of healing, circling back two-fold. I want to hold onto to it, savor it, give it anything and everything to grow bigger, brighter, take up more space than just a slice. I know that requires taking more risks, making more changes in my own life, then being able to deal with whatever comes up. Deep, intense emotion. Anger, grief.

I am so almost there! That is, almost at the beginning of being almost there.

Did I mention I am also going to find a new therapist?

May you find your own slice today, either as the giver or the receiver. I am certainly going to hang onto mine.

Diana Ray

I Love Being Diana

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The first poem written at my new property. Its been an intense week, and my back is looking forward to less work, and a good massage! I hope you enjoy it! More to come…..

I Love Being Diana

I love being Diana.
That is not my real name,
yet she is the real me.
Fierce, connected,
rooted in Earth,
deep, maternal instincts (sort of).

I finally filled myself.
I’ts been days since I’ve connected,
been somewhere deep,
in vulnerability,
in meditation,
in power.
Its been tough.
Many things are a bummer,
but so many other profoundly beautiful.
I have faith that something will shift.
Metamorphasis is envitable,
at least for me.
Effected by those around me.

A thrust of emotions
coming from many a place,
some worldly, some other worldly.
Needing to be present for the ride,
small steps, baby steps.
Finding courage,
and taking giant steps.

What will next year bring?
A year ago
I would never have imagined
any number of things
that are true today.
I can’t wait
to tear down that wall
and dig my hands
deep in the Earth.
This is literal
(there is actually a wall),
but with me
metaphors run deep.

I don’t care what anyone says,
upgrading has not been perfect.
Is it ever?
Is it ever supposed to be?
From here,
I stay connected.
To meditate habitually.
To regain my schedule,
on new terrain.
I have no idea what lay ahead,
but I feel excited.

Can I handle anything?

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

The Garden That Grew From Within Part III

It looks like we are buying a new, bigger house!  It has been a long and stressful process that is almost over, with every bump in the road rearing its ugly head along the way.  I am sooo excited!  Our family will have more living space, a bigger yard.  We are not moving very far, and what we know as local and our community will not change.  We have the fortunate advantage of enjoying many beautiful updates the previous owners have done to the property.  Sooo excited, yes!   

Yet my heart has begun to break.

How do I say good-bye to this tiny plot of Earth that has flourished as I have flourished? 

Each of this garden’s lush plants and flowers has been a direct reflection of my own inner lushness.  I am beautiful, regenerative and self-feeding.  When dead leaves fall beneath a plant, they decompose, becoming food for the very thing that gave it life.  I love this life-cycle!  How can I feed myself from the parts of me that are dying, dead, or failing to thrive? 

Compost for the soul.  By nurturing myself as I would any plant in my garden, I can turn what is dying or dead into something lush and healthy.

That means facing it, giving it attention, and not being afraid of what comes next.

I have grown up at this house.  I have experienced some of the most profound suffering I have known, as well as pure, utter joy.  I have connected to spirit in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  I can feel the grief well up inside of me as I write these words.  Yet it’s time to move on.

Cerridwen has been coming to me.  Cerridwen is a Celtic Welsh Goddess, whose symbol is the cauldron.  She is the Crone, the wisest aspect of the Triple Goddess, with some stories claiming her to be both mother and /crone.  In her cauldron, which is also a symbol of the womb/creation, brews eternal knowledge about the oneness of life.  No fears, no inhibitions, just pure connection.  No hiding from issues when Cerridwen is around!  She will help you face what is hard, and when you do, she will reward you with knowledge, metamorphosis and transformation.  She is the second phase of why the butterfly has appeared in my life (see http://runninginwater.com/2013/02/15/a-story-to-tell/ for more about butterfly).  It is time to let go of negative patterns of living, to finally face what is hard with my family of origin, to open myself to intimacy and all of the painful feelings that accompany, to put both feet in the circle of my crazy family, and to completely open myself to Spirit. 

I feel tremendous energy.  I have done rituals that have felt so at home, they may as well have been family tradition.  I feel such old, old energy that is deeply connected to worshipping the Earth….so much is here for us, yet most of us remain unconnected.

This move is all part of metamorphosis.  My time at this house is done.  My garden is full; there would be no room to plant anything new, as every imaginable spot is already taken with something so beautiful, I couldn’t stand the thought of making a change.  I cherish this property, this garden, and the energy that has seen me through some of the toughest times I have known.  I went into this house 9 years ago barely liking it, noise conscious, expecting my first child.  The year was 2004, and by 2006 we had our second child.  The early years were hard, with Louis’s aggression raging full force (see http://runninginwater.com/2012/08/11/my-story/  for more about Louis).  The garden was created, although neglected during this time.  Then we made a small addition, just enough to give me/us breathing room, and slowly life began to change.  I gave the garden the attention it desperately needed, and it too began to transform.  During this time I began to write, create art, and meditate.  I went on medication, got my children into therapy, and got myself there too.  Metamorphosis trifold.  What will emerge from all of this, I do not know.    

What I do know, is that the transformation process is not over.

And that it will take more than one blog post to truly say good-bye.

 

Diana Ray

When I Was Really Depressed

Here is another poem from 2011. I remember it was the first poem I wrote that I felt proud of. Pride being one of the few feelings I was able to connect to at the time, as you will read in this poem. So funny- emotionally my life right now is extremely intense. Two years ago I was so depressed I felt almost nothing.


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By Diana Ray

I feel flat, flat, flat.
Pancake flat, envelope flat, mirror flat.
Except that mirrors reflect 3-dimensional objects
despite their 2- dimensional surface.
Where is my dimension, my depth?
My bumpy surfaces and intricate valleys
that catch both pain and joy?
It has been replaced by dull smoothness
and complacent boundaries,
my flatness blending into everything around me
leaving me numb,
like ice on a once throbbing wound
you can pinch but not feel,
the ice doing its job of easing the pain.
So what do I do?
I want to feel anything really
anything but this blah.
I will take it served up on a silver platter
even all the awful stuff,
a double special of grief served with extra anger,
I don’t care.
I’m just tired of feeling flat.
My smoothness and lack of definition
preventing me from clicking
into the edges of things I most love in life.
Connections that moved me and drove me so deep,
they may as well have been my veins.
So how do I stop being so flat, so reflective of this life
when all I wish to do is absorb?
If only I could reach in my pocket and pull out a chisel
and begin hacking away at all this flatness
till it is scratchy and rough.
Anything to catch anything, really.
Just to get me started
just to get me feeling
anything but flat.

In The Muck

Warning:  if you are the kind of person who does not enjoy listening to other people kvetch (Yiddish for complain), then this blog post is not for you.  Because that is what I plan to do:  complain, complain, complain my ass off.  If only you really could complain and tone your ass simultaneously…  That being said, the only redeeming caveat I can offer, is that I may try to make you laugh.

I have had looow energy for the past few weeks.  This is to contrast the incredibly hiiiigh energy I have been riding since I wrote the post about my experience with Alana Sheeren (an incredible woman who is pouring her whole being into the idea of self-love.  Look her up online at http://www.alanasheeren.com.  Imagine if we all actually liked ourselves.  World peace?  I doubt it.  But I guarantee you sex-toy shop sales would go up!).  I have been riding this wave of intensity for the past few months, all related to finishing my memoir, starting this blog, and being willing to molt, like a snake.  If I really were a snake, I would have half my skin hanging off, all papery and patterned from the life it had lived, while the top half of me gleamed in the sun, its beams reflecting the most incredible metallic green hues off my slithery, slippery skin.  Writing about the rawness of my life and my kids, has been like a favorite toy I just can’t put down.  There is serious irony here!  Exposing my life (both to me and you) has connected me with some of the most intensely passionate feelings I have known.  It has been soooo good, it’s been addictive.  It has been only 3-weeks since I posted for the first time with Reddit, an online social networking site.  I posted “Intimacy, Incest and The Need For Italics with Both” and got 448 views, 300 of which came from Reddit.  A week later, I am banned from the site, not having known that posting only your own stuff over and over again is a GIANT no-no in that world, and a permanent time out.  Doesn’t matter that I sent them 3-emails asking for help and they never responded, by the time I read their “reddiquette” rules, it was too late.  I walk with my head in shame, a giant “S” etched into my chest! “Spammer!” it says, and in case you don’t know, a “spammer” is someone out to sell a product or promote themselves in some way.  Do I fit the bill?  Maybe.  But those Mf’ers could have at least told me what was happening at any point during my 3 emails.  I had never even heard of Reddit a month ago; now I am banned.  I am such a bad-ass!

Back to the addiction…right before I got booted from Reddit, I was at a point where I was checking my blog hits 15x a day (possibly more), and thinking about it all the time.  Do I sound like a beacon of spirituality or like some crazy junkie in need of a fix?  Perhaps it was a good thing that Reddit kicked me off (Not! Those mf-ers).  None of the other social networking sites have even come close to providing me with the hits that Reddit has.  And I know this because Reddit attempted to delete all of my submissions, 7 in total, but they missed some.  These posts get hits every day.  Thank-you Reddit!  Thank you for helping my story go from one end of the world to another.  Why you have to be such shits, I don’t understand.

And speaking of the “S” word, let’s talk about my 2 “S”pecial needs kids (you can figure out on your own which “s” word I mean).  Damn I love those kids, but DAMN are they driving me crazy!  I have Louis, the ADHD+Non-Verbal-Learning-Disordered=%#$!!!@!! kid, and Aiden, the learning disabled+incredibly angry=%^&$#@!!! kid.  Aiden, after having taken a nice long break from ticking, is backing to ticking nonstop.  Mostly vocal tics, that sound like a gulp, many times a day.  Of course Louis and all of his sensitivities can’t stand it.  Louis will scream at Aiden, call him a bad boy or worse, maybe even get physical.  Aiden will respond by screaming back and always getting physical, until the two of them have to be separated.  It’s been miserable….I just ordered noise reduction headphones for Louis, which I am desperately hoping will help this situation. 

Family life has been intense.  We just returned from a 6 day vacation in the sun with Paul’s parents.  Our rooms were adjoining, and luckily, Aiden was thrilled to be around grandma and grandpa.  He slept with them, and was in their suite almost half the time.  That saved us.  It was last July when I swore I would take a looong break from all of us vacationing together, as our recent trips involved more fighting, crying and tantrums than Paul and I could bear.  Works much better when we vacation separately, with Paul and I swapping kids to the various places we travel to.  I was so immersed in family life, I was beyond saturation.  And it was on this trip that I became crazy with checking my stats, and crazy with posting to Reddit.  I am fucking crazy, I see that clearly now.   

Yet on top of this, at the very tippy top, continues to reside my deep desire to strip away, to completely go bare, to face my nakedness with courage and strength.  When you’re naked, there’s no place to go, no place to hide; you have to see yourself for who you are.  This includes that which is painful, and that which has been hiding.  Anybody interested in getting naked with me?  I am reading Ana T. Forrest’s memoir, Fierce Medicine.  (Incredible book, and I’m only half-way through!).  In this book, she talks about the Death Meditation:  a ritual where you take your mind and spirit, and even parts of your body, to the point of near death.  It is here that one finds what is truly important, what is the heart’s desire, vs. all the other crap we carry around, because this is what we think we need.  We you read about near death experiences, they almost always involve personal life transformation in some way.  I totally dig it! 

So I wrap up here, with a heavy heart and incredibly low energy.  Part of me wants to fight this, to make it go away, but I know this is not the way.  I need to be where I am, with my low energy and heavy heart, and let that be ok.  I think of a quote that I came across a few years ago, written by anonymous:

 

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place

where there is no trouble, or noise, or hard work. 

It means to be in the midst of all these things,

and still be calm in your heart.

That is the true meaning of peace.

 

Diana Ray

A Story To Tell Part 2

2/2/2015   Two years later, I am finally ready to go down the hole.

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2/15/2013     Last Sunday I attended the most yummy yoga workshop; a combination of yoga and guided meditation, with the intention of helping us meet our power animals.  Power animals cross many traditions and cultures.  They can be anything from the animal or insect world, a creature that makes itself known to a person, typically for the reason to guide.  Their message it always the same:  “I have a gift for you, a message, a way of thinking and feeling about the world that you must see! ” It’s been three years since I’ve come to know the hummingbird and the whale.  The hummingbird reminds me to find beauty and joy in a life that has always been full of pain.  The whale is the recorder of time, stories, and one’s lineage.  A few years back I collected a family ancestry, going back as far as my great-grandparents and great aunts/uncles, on both sides of my family.  It was fascinating and heart-breaking: On my mother’s side, my great-grandmother shot my great-grandfather, likely with the intention of killing him, although he survived.  My grandfather was 12 at the time, and had to testify at this trial.  I can’t imagine.  In searching further, there are 4 other court cases from that period, all involving some kind of domestic dispute.  So much family history of pain….. This is where my mother comes from, where I come from.  No wonder I feel it on such a deep, cellular level.

So I arrived at this workshop with a few animals in tow.  The yoga part was great, and I felt warm and open as we delved into the guided meditation.  There was drumming, rattling and singing; the drums giving off that wonderful, low, rich sound so lulling to altered states of mind; the rattles producing high frequency sounds from sharp, to staccato, to active.  It was like being settled down and fired up simultaneously.

We laid down, cozy and comfortable, and imagined a place in nature that was familiar.  For me this was a place along the coast, where forest meets the ocean.  In this journey I am sitting on the beach, the forest directly behind me.  I turn around and see a tree, as tall as a redwood, with alternating branches, but no leaves.  I begin to climb it, up and up and up, and when I get to the top, I see that it is dark and hollow inside.  I sit there for some time, knowing that I am supposed to climb down, but do nothing.  Then I see there is a nest on a branch nearby, filled with birds (all birds are sacred to me), and one of the birds begins to accompany me as I climb down the dark, hollowed out tree.  So together we climb down, down, down, down, and when we emerge we are in a place that feels akin to middle earth.  There is a river to my right, which is running slow but steady, and we begin to walk alongside.  A snake appears, and begins to dance, the rhythm of the rattles and the drums shaping its every move; up and down, side to side.  I dance back, my body also in rhythm. Then I know:  the snake is not my power animal.  We walk some more.  Off to my left, a Giselle emerges, with horns as long as a unicorns, yet coiled, like the snake.  We look at each other, and I also know:  it too, is not my power animal.   A crocodile rises slowly out of the river, its giant jaws dripping with large gobs of water, its mouth opening and closing so near, I can see the white gleam of it’s teeth.  Again I understand:  it is not my power animal.  Then I see it:  a wonderful glow off to the left.  I move towards it, and then I am there:   immersed in a beautiful field, wildflowers all around, the sun shining down as hundreds of white butterflies land all over, covering me from head to toe.  They are my power animal, I know this innately. 

This is not the first time the butterfly has appeared before me, and I have been wondering about its purpose for quite some time.  And while I honestly can’t remember if it was before or after this workshop that I came to understand its message, here’s what I know:

The butterfly is metamorphosis, transformation, the ability to turn from one thing into another.  Facing my father’s molestation of my sister, and possibly my other sister, or even me, is the start of this process.  (For more about this story read  runninginwater.com/2013/01/29/intimacy-incest-and-the-need-for-italics-with-both/

Then myself, the bird and the butterfly, go back to the path along the river, and it is here that I see him:  A giant brown bear, as big as a car, his endearing energy drawing me towards him.  I had been given a bear 20 years ago, although only recently came to know him as a guide.  The bear is courage, both protector and warrior, the ability to go deep into the dark cave of the unconscious, and face what’s there.  I hugged this bear many, many, times, and lay across his soft, brown back.  With him I knew I could face anything!  We all hung out for a while, the bird, the butterfly, this beautiful bear and myself, until I see it again:  another opening at the base of a tree, very dark, but much smaller. We all stop and look.

 This time I do not climb in. 

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Intimacy, Incest, and the Need For Italics With Both

I never thought I would meet someone like Paul.  If you ever read my memoir, (which I am hoping that you will one day, and think it’s fabulous!), you will get a very clear picture of what a crazy, emotionally stunted, fearful young adult I was.  The deck was not stacked in my favor; I had been picking Mr. Wrong for years.  You may even know him.  He’s the good looking, great lover, yet emotionally unavailable guy, who you give your whole being too, only to have it passed back with a giant “no thank-you” note attached.  Crashing and burning fits in there somewhere as well.  This was my most recent relationship prior to Paul, and I was still dusting myself off from all the crap that had attached to me during our time together, when Paul and I first went out.  This was a guy I broke up with after 3 months, and we should’ve stayed broken up, but instead we got back together, and eventually moved out West together.  I told you I was emotionally stunted!  

Paul was living with my co-worker, and we had already known each other peripherally for 7 months, before we went out.  It was great!  We had endless things to talk about, and the connection ran deep.  Both of us sensed something special, something we had never felt before.  It was more than great; it was amazingly exciting!

Except for one thing: I was resistant.

I was so resistant, I called the whole thing off after 2-weeks, simply because I couldn’t get over how strong that part of me was.  Obviously we worked it out, as we have been married for 14 years!  What I came to understand, was this:   Paul was the most sensitive, caring, emotionally available man I had ever met; something that I knew deep down I wanted.  And after 26 years of living, I finally got it; I never wanted to be with someone I didn’t fully connect with again.  This was a recent declaration of mine, one that had yet to go into practice.  I had dated a bit post break up with Mr. Wrong, but Paul was the first guy who appeared, who truly fit the bill of deep connection.  He had done therapy, and was sensitive, and could talk about his feelings like nobody’s business!  I had been going for emotionally unavailable guys for years. Paul challenged all of this, by forcing me to confront things I wasn’t even aware of, such as what were the qualities in a man I found attractive?  It became clear quickly, that sensitivity, while on paper was a quality I highly desired, was not one I found desirable in real life.   Also, how fearful was I, to finally be vulnerable with someone?  Every Mr. Wrong I picked was a guaranteed no-show in that department, something I now understand I unconsciously choose.  Paul really, really liked me.  And we both felt it.  I was freaking freaked out.

But I dealt with it.  I chose Paul, over all those negative patterns I had been living since I hit puberty, and once I did, the resistance melted away, like soapy bubbles down a drain.  And it’s been worth it!  I can’t imagine being with anyone else, loving anyone else, growing old with anyone else.  We’ve had our scary, Will our marriage survive this? moments, and come out the other side, which includes the struggle of parenting 2 special needs kids, something many couples can’t survive.  We have experienced such utter joy together, across a variety of moments and occasions.  He is my true soul mate.

So after 14 years of marriage, and 16 years of togetherness, I realize that I am in that place again, that place of resistance.  It isn’t sudden, and I’ve known it for some time.  It’s the “what to do about it”  I dread.

I love Paul.  I love him with all my heart and soul.  But there is a piece of me that keeps my distance, keeps us from growing closer.  Much of it has to do with my early experiences in life, ones that left me with a wounded soul, by the time I became a young woman.

It is this, that I don’t want to deal with.

But don’t I deserve deep, intense love, on every level humanly possible?

I have decided that I do.

I am an extrovert by nature, but when I was a kid, I was left to fend for myself in a majorly dysfunctional family, complete with infidelity, fraud, and something that is hard to write about, but is in my memoir so I better get used to it:  incest.  My sister accused my father over 20 years ago.  I am the only one in my family to this day who believes her, and that includes my mother, 2 other siblings, and ever-denying father.  My sister says she doesn’t think it happened to me, and I have no memory of anything.  Still, I wonder.  My sister and I shared a room.  And she thinks it might’ve happened to my other sister.

So for years, I acted like an introvert, scared of the world.  Having bullies on my street all my childhood didn’t help.

Perhaps this is why I dated so, so many Mr. Wrongs?  I had a lying, cheating, and again, another hard word to write out loud, son-of-a-bitch-raping, father.  My mother chose to stay with my father through his many infidelities, and again, through the accusation of incest, made by my sister.

How this fits into my picture, I do not know.  But it fits somewhere.  And it isn’t just Paul; I spent years trying to figure out how to have even a healthy friendship (again-all in my memoir!).  I have come a long way, clearly, and I know this.  But the door to true intimacy has been closed for some time.  And when I say intimacy, I mean 2 people (or more!), who are willing to be so vulnerable with each other, that out of this place grows deep and lasting love and trust.  Sometimes this is sexual, sometimes it is not.

I have issues with deep intimacy.

It has taken me a long time to trust most people.  I spent years feeling like the rug was going to be pulled out from under me any second; always on alert, and definitely on guard.  But still I met sweet Paul, and have managed to make some wonderful friends.  I have healed in so many ways…

Yet there is more.  Even now as I write this, my heart aches something terrible, with the deepest sense of grief radiating out from the pit of my gut.

Clearly, there is more.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  I might even throw in the word panic.  When I first began to re-experience feelings in therapy 21 years ago, I had the most somatic reactions:  nervous laughter, short and rapid breathing (my shit was intense), and the feeling that I was going to die.  Eventually I learned how to be less fearful of this imaginary annihilation, as the process of feeling, and then integrating, such deep grief into my being, was beyond freeing:  It opened my soul.  It is why I am where I am today.

But this crap I have shut away, it’s as old and painful as anything I have known, possibly more so, and it’s been forever since I’ve immersed myself in this type of family pain.  I see nervous laughter, short and rapid breathing, and of course, the feeling that I’m going to die, in my near future.

If, I can get the guts to go there.

I am superbly wonderful at procrastinating my emotions away…., as this is how I lived the first 26 years of life.  Yet I must remind myself:  Diana, you did just write that you deserve deep, intense love, on every level humanly possible.

I’ll keep you posted.

Diana Ray

The Garden That Grew From Within

My first call to the earth was when I was 22.  I received my first tarot card reading and was told that I was the Queen of Harvest, and that I would be most at home with my hands in the dirt.  I was in awe of this comment, especially since I had grown up hating most outdoor activities, with the exception of swimming.  But deep spirituality had been calling for some time, and this was one such moment.  Everything about the reading was new and incensed and vibrant.  I was having my cards read by a woman who was older than I, who worshipped the Goddess, and was telling me much about me.  It was a me that was clearly far from the present, but none the less, every fiber of my 22 year old being knew that everything she was telling me was innately right.  I felt open to the experience that awaited, even though it felt more than a ways off.

Over the years my love of nature grew, first through a love of hiking, something I discovered in my early 20’s, to planting my first garden at age 29.  I remember being so insanely excited over the little 4 X 2 plot of shady earth that edged the front porch of the very first dump of a house Paul and I rented after we were married.  I went straight for color, not even considering needs like sun or water, let alone how big each plant might become.  I planted a rhododendron in that spot, and if you aren’t familiar with rhododendrons, they can grow to be huge.  But such fun!  To pick flowers simply because they are beautiful, and look beautiful together, and make your house look beautiful, and even yourself look beautiful, is just the best feeling.  

And for awhile the beauty remained.  Then slowly my ignorance caught up, first with a few flowers looking quite raggedy, then the clincher:  Paul and I went away on vacation.  Not having planned for anyone to come and water my form over function garden, everything was dead by the time I returned.

But the spark was spurned, and while it would be a few more years before I got my own garden again, the feeling remained, waiting quietly, for life to unfold.

After 2 years of apartment living, Paul and I rented a house, with a largish backyard full of rose bushes, dahlias and gladiolas.  I added a few more plants while I was there, and even landscaped a dry, bare plot that had been along the side of the house for I don’t know how long.  An old woman had gone to a nursing home, and the roses and dahlias and gladiolas were hers.  This time, I was ready to learn.  I read as much about growing plants in my region as I could, had a more experienced garden friend let me pick her brain from time to time, and let the rest flow.  I had good results.  By the time Paul and I bought our own house 1 year later, the place was lush with color.  Lucky next house buyers!

When we bought our house, the backyard was completely dated.  Two giant laundry Y’s flanked the front and back yard, there was more concrete than earth, and a giant oval of what I would soon learn was invasive crabgrass sat in the middle of everything.  There was also a cool building back there, complete with French doors, wood walls and about a million outlets.  It quickly became storage for odds and ends, as well as a place to keep my garden equipment.

Louis was 9 months old when we finally decided to do something.  We found an unlicensed gardener, who for about half of what we would’ve paid someone legal, ripped up the concrete, removed the laundry Y’s, in addition to a metal shed that sat on its own concrete foundation (the former owners just loved concrete), and then proceeded to build us a new fence and a beautiful arbor.  Irrigation pipes got laid underneath newly created plots of earth, which flanked the yard on all sides but one, including a brand new sprinkler system, to feed the awful crab grass we decided to leave (no one at the time informed me just how horribly invasive crab grass can be).  An old patio lay underneath the new arbor, having gotten reduced in size to allow for the garden plots.  It was quite a site, and it smelled great.  And it sang my name.

I got down and dirty.  I spent hours and hours at our local nurseries, pouring over selections that involved any number of color, texture and greenery combination, this time taking great care to consider things like sun and water, and whether or not plants died back vs. stayed green all winter.  After planting (I kid you not), 20 plants in the backyard and 15 plants in the front yard, I laid out all the irrigation tubing myself, which while I was prideful at the time, really sucks and I will never do it again.  Shortly after this we had both sets of parents coming into town for Louis’ baby naming.  The next day we had a party in our backyard.  It was a site to behold.

The garden was beautiful.  Colors melted into one another, and on a sunny day there was just enough shade under the arbor to relax, yet if you wanted sun, the crabby grass section provided the warmth.  We got butterflies and hummingbirds.  I was in love.

But not everything worked, something you don’t know until you can see how a plant truly performs, and several plants had to come and go.  Some things got too big for the area they were in, and others just died.  We still had a mighty good time in the yard, and had many a picnic or play date back there with other families.  As far as furniture went, we had a table and 6 chairs.  The rest of the time we used beach chairs or lay out on blankets.  The studio continued to be used as a storage/dumping ground.  It was fun.

Then Aiden came along, and the period of “extreme challenge” (enlightened description)/ “living hell” (highly stressed mama description) came along, and much like our personal lives, the garden began to deteriorate.

Not hard to guess, I couldn’t keep on top of basic maintenance, and from time to time I would call someone to come and help with the everything is too big/overgrown/full of weeds situation.  “It’s too much garden for me,” I thought to myself.  What was I thinking?

But still, it continued to call my name, and despite how much time and energy went into keeping Louis from getting Aiden, the pull was strong.  Finally, there was a little relief in sight.  My in-laws were going to help us add on a small addition.  Our house was a 2-bedroom 1 bathroom, 990 square foot house.  We were going to add on 1 small bedroom and bathroom.  We would lose our garage, but we didn’t care.  Every day was truly wild and crazy.  Having more options of places to separate the kids and ourselves, would hopefully help.

The contractors trashed the studio, and the yard.  The tried their best to be mindful of the plants, but stuff happened.  The addition was beautiful however, and after 1.5 years of sleeping on the couch and the floor (each of the kids had the 2 bedrooms), Paul and I felt like we were in heaven.

From there things only grew with time.  Personally, I was at my lowest, coming close to a nervous breakdown and going on medication just shortly after the addition was completed.  But spring was just around the corner, and much to my amazement, much of the garden was intact.  A vine I thought had been crushed was weaving its way along the same path it did every year, and plants were starting to bloom.  I spent the next bunch of weeks pruning and weeding and taking out/putting in new plants.  Again, the garden sang my name, and again, I was in bliss.  That following summer everything looked beautiful and lush, and with the purchase of a fire pit, a family tradition was born.  The following fall I cleaned out the studio, and the following February I started my women’s group, which now meets in that space.  Mixed in there was continuing to battle with depression, and the continued battles between the boys, although these were starting to decrease.

This last year has been incredibly spiritual, both in and out of the garden.  With the advent of completing my memoir and following some very serious pulls from deep within, the garden itself, I realize, is a direct reflection of this opening.  Part of me has known this all along.  I love to plant, and feed, and nurture these beautiful living entities that create such beauty for me.  I love watering and cutting back old blooms and watching new tiny buds appear, ready to take their place.  I love pruning things back, cutting things up, and throwing it all back into the garden, in some hidden spot.  I love when fall approaches and descends into winter.  This is the time of pruning and pulling and watching things die back.  I love this life cycle and feel myself thrive on the energy that has been created here.  Last spring, I convinced my husband to let me put the finishing touches on the backyard (it was actually my birthday present), with the installation of a beautiful new flagstone patio and new grass.  The patio was made bigger, the dreaded crabgrass pulled and replaced (although I still battle it in some flower beds, and as a friend put it, I will be pulling it till I drop.)

I see amazing things all the time in my yard, no matter the season.  That’s what’s great about living where I live; you get only rain and no snow, in the winter!  While my garden is quiet in the winter, it is by no means lifeless.  If anything, it’s the opposite.  Check this out yourself:

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and

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I am outside in this yard, as much as possible.  The past 2 summers I have spent writing in the backyard, with all the birds, butterflies and bugs around me.  The earth is amazing.

I see connections everywhere in my yard, from the care I have given to tending this earth, to the vines that weave their way creating beautiful designs, to the hummingbirds and butterflies that are attracted to their flowers, and have set up shop in my yard because of them.  They take my breath away every time I see them.  I have seen countless hummingbirds, up close, and have even seen one groom itself (they can turn their entire head around as they do this!).  As I stated in my last post, I have lain under the stars and been swooned by the moon amidst this garden.  I love that both my sons can see me be so authentic with myself, and with life.  So much to teach them about life, through this garden.   My younger son, following my cue, calls the hummingbirds, “our friends.”

This garden is so incredibly healing for me; I do not think I would live very well without one ever again.  I lose myself in the process, similar to how I am with yoga, although it is the Earths heartbeat I hear as I find myself on hands and knees, in the dirt.  On my last birthday my children gave me as a gift, a goddess that came into my life when I was 29, long before I had kids.  They didn’t know how special she was to me.  Here she is:

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This is Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion.  It is through her that I have found the calm I have needed to cultivate change within my family.  As you can see, I keep a bowl of water with fresh flowers in front of her as much as possible.  Water, I have been told, is part of the essence of compassion; washing away pain, allowing love to flow freely, allowing anger to fall away, it’s all flowing, like water.  I think of Kwan Yin when I struggle with my family, especially my children.   

This garden is every connection I have with every being on earth.  As the garden mirrors me in its cycle of life, death and life again, so I become more open, more expansive, more willing to be present with myself, to be good to myself and others, and most importantly, to give to my children.  I remember the years of being unhappy and bored and repressed, before I knew about the garden.  It has grown from within, most certainly.  I can’t wait to show you what it looks like in the summer!

 

Diana Ray