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

July Flower Bowl/Full Moon In Caparicorn/Finding Presence

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(Nasturtium, mum, alstroemeria, african basil, spearmint, penstemon, wall flower, valerian, dianthus, pansy, dahlia, yarrow)

This full moon in Capricorn is a time to make things happen.  To not just feel but to act!  Capricorn is an earth sign that is tangible in its energy; concrete goals and outcomes can be accessed more directly the next few days, until the moon is full on Saturday the 12th.

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Finding presence. This has been my theme for the past year or so; finding a way to just show up in life. No matter how deep the shit is. But this goes beyond that, as I realize that it’s always felt deep to me. Life always feels too intense, too much, too difficult to be fully present for. I have shorted myself in a million ways because of the path I walk. Now I want a new path.

Is there a way to transmute a lifetime of depression and anxiety? A complete ancestral line that has lived with little joy? This is clearly bigger than me. Suffering with life goes back many generations in my family, and has been played out repeatedly. I see it with my immediate blood family and relatives. I see it with myself, husband and children. It’s like a gift of a black hole that has been passed down from generation to generation with the message, “It’s going to be rough, and at times god awful. So take this black hole and jump into it anytime you need.” And I have jumped in many times, without thought, and re-emerged gasping for air. There is no solace found in black holes, even if it seems like there is at the time.

So here and now, I bury the black hole. I want to pass down to my children the gift of light. Of knowing that no matter where you are or how you feel, there is healing light within, always. I wish to make a conscious choice to find this light within me, even if I have to go on an expedition to find it, and when I do, to stand in the light as I stand in my life.

I firmly believe, what is done for one is done for all. In my act of mending how I feel and perceive the world, I am also mending and healing my ancestry. I come from them and we are all part of the same giant rip. A rip that has little stability and foundation, as that is how rips are by design. Our families are born into this rip and so the cycle continues. If I can mend my part, than I can heal the ripped ancestral pathway that has led to me, and allow fertility and love to forge a new pathway. Perhaps this is why I love gardening so much and see it as such as mirror for my life. No matter what the soil is like, or has been, it can always be nourished and fed, which in turn can lead to a thriving, beautiful garden.

And if I am to be honest with myself and you as readers, I have to admit that I feel shaky in making these claims. That the negative patterns I have chosen wish to rear their ugly heads and take over any intentions I have of living with light. It feels like I am walking along a line, with one foot in the light and one in the dark. I keep stepping over and stepping back. It is time I took a side.

It is time I found the light within me, even if it’s dim. Even if I have to dig and dig and dig some more to find it, I must or I can kiss any capacity for deep meaningful fulfillment good-bye. The more I stand in the light and turn my back on the giant black hole that has been my existence, the brighter it will be. Even if I feel shaky, I must believe I can shine 🙂

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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

New Moon in Cancer Flower Bowl Embracing Self-Love

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(rose, coreopsis, fuschia, jasmine, african basil, pansy, valerian, nasturtium, alstroemeria, scabiosa, dianthus, sunflower)

New Moon:  During this phrase the moon is dark, not visible in the sky.  From this day forward it begins to grow with light, sliver by sliver, until it can fill no more and the moon is full.  New moons are a time to plant a seed, make an intention or wish for oneself.  Baby and nurture this wish until the moon is full, on the 12th of July.

Astrological Sign of Cancer:  Cancer rules the heart and our emotions, our ability to give and receive love in our life and how we express and process our emotions generally.

Tomorrow the moon will be new in Cancer.  I have just come off a 6 day retreat where the ongoing message for me was love, love, love yourself.  Step out of the place of hiding, of fear of living fully, fear of places that are too hard, too rigid, too tight.  The irony is that in this act of hiding I have kept myself small, and have created anyway the life I have been trying my damndest to avoid; one that is hard, rigid and tight.  Denying myself full immersion into this world has kept my energy stagnant, spiraling in on itself, pooling in my body in a way that I know does not serve me and will surely cause disease.  I am a bud that has been standing in my own shadow too long, depriving myself of sun and energy and sustenance.  What is there truly to be afraid of?  Disease, loss or death?  If I were to die tomorrow can I say I let myself be fully a part of this world?  I cannot.  Losing everyone I love would be scary.  Knowing I could not face life when I was alive is even scarier.  I have lived with incredible stress my whole life; with escape my preferred modality of coping.  In my remembrance that I am Priestess, that I am in service to the Earth, Unity and the Current that flows through all living things, I have caught glimpses of what it would mean to live life from this place, to tap into this current with surrender.  While it feels like I can’t handle it, that it’s too hard to be real with the emotional ups and down that come from living an authentic life, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t being tortured by my continuation to avoid it.  Yes, it will be hard.  I come from a long line of dysfunction and abuse that goes back many generations and resides in my being on a cellular level.  Being authentic means feeling it fully.  But if I wish to transmute this, transform myself, I must be real and let it all in.  So I take a stand.  A radical stand of self-love that involves embracing myself as I do my children, with the utmost tender-hearted unconditional love that I know radiates from my being.  I deserve this.  We all do.  So with this new moon in Cancer, my intention is to dive into the best possible practice of self-care and love that I can muster.  That means moving out of hiding and into the light.  To let the bud that I am grow and expand until I am a blooming flower with the sweetest of nectar’s.  Winged creatures will come far and wide to drink from my well.  That is the depth of the belief I take as I dig my hole, drop in my seed and watch it grow.

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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.

As It Grows

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It starts with this.  Something so beautiful that I have to try to capture its spiritual essence, bottle it a little, share it with others.  It is this act alone, of finding depth with beauty and wanting to share it,  that feeds my soul.

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It’s a dynamic shape; growing, changing, expanding.  Becoming large.  So large that I want to get deep inside the beauty, get up close and drink it in, have that image melt-me into spiritual bliss.

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I wish I could live my life with the same simple beauty that is this flower.  Going through all the stages of life, never skipping or skimping or shorting itself.  Arriving at the fullest expression of its very presence at just the right moment.  The fullest expression of this flower is that which is most spectacular.

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And it bowls you over, the joy that clings to you.  You want to wear it forever like any other body part.  To keep it familiar, alive, available.  Connecting with life essence, that is what this is.

 

And yes, it is spectacular 🙂

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

 

June Flower Bowl/Balance and Integrity

photo (86)(Jasmine, nasturtium, verbena, abutilon, alstroemeria, dahlia, mum, lavender, rosemary, viola, pansy, azalea, wallflower, passion-flower, calendula)

Today the moon is full in Sagittarius.  Adventure, pushing boundaries and exploring unknown territory are all aspects of this potent energy.  It is a day for walking through new doors, and exploring ones edges and fears.  I myself am going to be thinking about what it means to have balance and integrity, as I dapple with magical herbs that can have an altering effect. There have been times when I have been poor with both balance and integrity.  But the goal is to keep going, moving forward, embracing these aspects of living in the highest regard.  Balance and integrity within this moon of adventure, is what I seek to hold today.

May the moon shine bright in your life, both today and beyond 🙂

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

The Forgotten Sense/Poem To My Yoni

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You have forgotten me

shut me out

put up yellow tape,

“Caution,”

“No trespassing,”

“Do not enter.”

 

A lush dense forest

unknown animals

dwelling inside,

an eco-system pulsing and untouched.

It is you from which I was born

gave life

excrete that which is not needed.

 

I peek inside and gasp-

pearly walls

butterfly wings

lotus lips.

A rabbit hole leading somewhere

I can imagine in my mind,

ecstatic

safe

snug.

 

I was born with you

and I will die with you.

Whole cultures rally shame

around your existence.

But you are simply

just another part of me,

-like a finger

-a tongue

-an eye.

Tools I would never consider disregarding.

So why do I disregard you?

 

If I can touch

and taste

and see

why should I deny

that which is my birthright,

my life-force?

 

The forgotten sense,

That’s what you are.

A sense I know only

the bare essentials of.

 

Slowly, I remove the tape.

 

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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)

A Few Quick Words on the Goddess and Gratitude

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I feel such service and gratitude to the Great Goddess.  To surrender to Her tides, to honor Her blessings, to let this energy be the current that carries me through the day.  This is how I wish to live, love and create.

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As hard as it is to have a balance between work, family and worship, it is this balance I hold as the key to my opening.  I must continue to make it my highest endeavor 🙂

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May the connection with Source run strong with you as well.

Have have a blessed day/eve!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Full Moon in Scorpio Flower Bowl/Depth and Insight

Month of April

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(Dahlia, hydrangea, thyme, rosemary, columbine, passion-flower, fuchsia, heliotrope, penstemon, dianthus, primrose, pansy, mum, verbena, peppermint, alstroemeria, saliva)

The Full Moon in Scorpio is a promise that what lies deep will rise to the surface. Today is a good day to see and feel with depth and honor what you see, whether it be joy or pain.  Any connection with source is a gift.

Today is a day for ritual.  Write your desires down on paper, bury them in the Great Mother Earth, and then bury an offering of some kind; food, a token, anything special.   Or, make up your own ritual by following your intuition.  It will be strong today and not let you down.

This flower bowl is an offering to the Goddess.  On it I have a magic wand I made to charge with today’s energy.

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May the tide of today’s energy bless you with insight!

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

 

Beltane Bursting

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There is so much lush heat and budding energy from Beltane that I cannot help but post a long, long line of my floral photography.  Enjoy!

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Okay, now take a breath!

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top of plum tree

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

 

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

Cooking with Aphrodites Love

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This week-end I will be sitting in ceremony with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.  I plan to make an offering of a Love Mist…

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This is my first attempt at making an essential oil, with a homemade sill I made with my own kitchen gadgets.*  I gathered my flowers;  a combination of roses, lavender and jasmine.  I wish I had more, but the end result was about 1.5 quarts.

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I put the flowers in a big pot with a rounded lid.  I put a soapstone statue in the center of the pot, and rested a quart size glass bowl on top of the statue.  The bowl was elevated above the flowers.  I poured in enough water just to cover the flowers, and let this come to a rolling boil.

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Then I flipped the rounded lid over, and dumped a bag of ice on top of the rounded lid.  As the steam in the pot rose up and hit the cold lid, it condensed and dropped down into the glass bowl.  The end result was this!

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You can see the difference between this concoction and the one I made just by boiling   rose petals in water.  The smell is different too; more fragrant and potent with the sill.

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I can’t wait to sit in ceremony and make my offering to Aphrodite and my fellow Priestess Sisters who will be joining me.  I love this work and feel so complete when I give myself over to the Great Mother and all she has to offer…

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*Information about distilling obtained from Herbal Recipes for a Vibrant Health, by Rosemary Gladstone

April Flower Bowl/Full Moon Musings

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Impatience, Pansy, Passion Flower, Primrose, Dianthus, Delphinium, Viola, Cosmos,  Snapdragon, Peppermint, Spearmint, Sage, Parsley, Lavender, Rose

Tonight I sat in ceremony with the Lunar Eclipse/Full Blood Moon in Libra. I made my flower bowl this morning, and let my magic wand bathe in the energy of this powerful configuration all day.

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I do not know all the mysteries of this Full Blood Moon (although there is a lot of wonderful information out there!), and I often wonder what it means to be a modern-day Priestess or Witch; with our busy, individual lives, so different from the tribal life that was once practiced before much of it was driven far from the norm.

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Yet I do know this:  as long as I trust my own instincts and inner guide to connect me with the Goddess, to show me Her magic, I will soar.  It doesn’t matter how much I’ve learned or remembered from ancient times, that information is becoming readily abundant, and I’ve made the commitment to be a conscious part of it til I die.  But listening to my own instincts, and letting my own desires dictate how I worship, that is true connection to Spirit.

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I feel blessed to be part of such a beautiful planetary awakening.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Magical Help Wanted

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Last night I performed a spell over my boys.

They argue and fight terribly.  It is a never-ending battle between them, with every weapon imaginable used (words, bodies, objects).  My older son (who is 9) is likely close to meeting the criteria for mild Autism.  While things have improved, he can have very intense behaviors and often has little control over his words. At times he loses control of his body and becomes physical.  My younger son (age 7) has grown up with this unpredictability and heated chaos.  He himself has quite a stubborn streak and temper, amplified by the dynamics of our household.  My beloved and I have weathered much through these 2 boys, and fortunately our love is strong.  I do not know what I would do without him.

Last night, as my babes lay sleeping in our bed, I cut locks of hair from all of us, mashed it with sweet-smelling roses from our garden, and spoke these words aloud,

“I call upon the magic power

In this day and in this hour

To help my boys to be friends

So we can be a family again.”

With my magic wand (recently made by me) weaving infinity and yin/yang over them, I smudged them, and called in every spirit guide, power animal and ancestral teacher that lays close to us.  Then I went out into the garden and buried this concoction beneath my flower bowl that lies in front of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion.

I am writing to both share and to ask my Sisters and Brothers, is there more magic and energy I can do/shift/procreate in this house?  I myself have quit smoking pot and have gone off antidepressants.  I feel alive and wonderful, and so close to The Great Mother, yet this pulls the strings of every nerve in my body.  I am asking simply, for help.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Remembrance

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Mother Earth,

help me to remember

your ways of old,

the tides of the seasons,

the animals,

this body,

signatures that when joined

create a melody so sonorous

I howl with joy.

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Mother Earth,

help me to remember

the forgotten laws,

the marriage of Sun, Moon and Earth,

time that moves

when I close my eyes,

go in, drop down,

a pulsing so deep

I wish to crawl inside.

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Mother Earth,

help me to remember

when I knew

Your Will innate,

knelt in homage,

kissed your feet,

felt your blessing seal that caress,

spiral this life

a never-ending mixing

HER-SHE-ME!

without beginning

without end

an emblem of oneness

again and again.

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Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

March Flower Bowl/The Muse

 

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(trumpet vine, primrose, wisteria, passion flower, azalea, verbena, viola,impatience, hellebore, clematis)

Mother (Earth)-

Show me your grace,

ease,

like thick liquid

pouring through every

space and crevice

of my anatomy,

scouring away

resentment,

anger,

fixity,

polishing what is light

and bright

and love

within me,

like a river whose flow

is so cold, and clean,

one drop anoints thee,

so what starts as desire

is embodied, embedded,

within this body,

as deep and familiar

as cells dividing,

memories unfolding,

dreams remembered,

of a life as She.

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Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

My Wish/The Magic of The Three

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My Wish

To be a beautiful flower at the height of abundance,

every stem, cell and fiber

an outpouring of beauty and love;

To be a ladybug, pulled by scent to feed from that flower,

knowing that its life giving tonic will fertilize and inspire;

To be what lies between when the two come together,

a transferring of life and symbiosis from one being to another;

That is the magic of the three.

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Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

 

Happy Candelmas!

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Last night I participated in a lovely ritual for Imbolc, or Candelmas.  This is a special holiday marking a change in the seasons, the half-way point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  This is a time when light begins to shine longer, buds begin their first ascent in warmer climates, and growth makes its first appearance.

“What do you wish to grow in your life?” we were asked.  When we knew, we lit a candle, and as a group blessed it so.  I wish to grow Balance.  Here are some images that reflect what I aspire to alchemize in my deepest self.  Everywhere, I see life in all stages of bloomage.

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May the light shine in you as well!

Much peace,

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

February 2014 Flower Bowl

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 February 2014 Flower Bowl

Primrose, heliotrope, sage, hellebore, viola, impatience, verbena, wallflower, rosemary, cyclamen, fuscia

I cannot help but want to make everything in my garden an utter delight of the senses.  The different shapes and colors of Mother Earth reflected in her endless flora, water fountains falling, flowing, the smell of Pink Jasmine mixed with Rose heavy in the air. It is so sacred, so deep. I want this to linger always,to make every moment a reflection of my deep communion with Mother Earth.

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Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Poem To Om Kali Ma

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Om Kali Ma,

you filled me with rage

what seemed like endless grief

and the need to wail, scream, expend,

howl with eruption

like the blood that gushes gummy and thick,

an outpouring of death amid my heaviest flow.

 

Is it no wonder

that the moon was in Scorpio

when I felt your stinging knife

pierce through my shroud?

 

Grief, tears,

a rage so deep it felt beyond me,

this skin, these cells,

the life I have lived these past 43 years.

 

Yet despite the depth

the tears flowed easily,

my diaphragm rising and falling

like a call to some other season,

the need to shed common, understood,

a cycle of molting and re-birth,

a ceremony of transition innate to every being.

 

So close to the surface

Om Kali Ma it felt like home,

so deep in my belly and loins

I know this goes beyond me,

to my sisters, my mother,

and all the blood that lay before.

To my children and their endless fighting,

to my nieces who have suffering

in their hearts and in their minds,

to my oldest friend with cancer

growing slowly in her body.

 

Om Kali Ma,

I knew you would be powerful,

I sensed it in the days preceding,

the subtle contraction and tightening

that pounded my temples,

Your Temple really,

this body if mine.

 

Om Kali Ma,

how could I have

forgotten you when I was young?

An innocent in frantic need

of your awesome, raging power,

feeling like grief would annihilate me,

ignorant of your other faces:

Re-birth, Creation, Liberation!

So I hid, held on tighter,

fled as though my life were in danger.

 

Yet is was the hiding

and tightness that ate me away,

small and pitiful I sat in my shadow,

needing release but being unable,

my fear an enemy of my most highest self,

until desperation finally grabbed me

and forced me to cry.

 

Om Kali Ma,

I grieve in knowing

that those I love do not know you,

have never been taught

The Power That Lies

In The Flames Of Your Destruction,

out of the ashes,

the chaos,

the fire burning hell

that inflicts everyone

and anyone

at some point or another,

Sprouts New Life.

 

How could I have lived

without you before now?

How does anyone?

These are fallen leaves, or leaves about to fall, from my hydrangea plant. They are completely in the process of dying, yet so beautiful to look at. In the end, all that will be left will be dirt; food for the next time around. This plant is actually feeding itself. And so the cycle continues! Happy Solstice and Happy New Year! Diana Ray

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

I Am

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I am Hawk.

Fearless, beautiful,

on the hunt for that which

sustains and nurtures.

I am part of a vast eco-system

from the tiny field mouse

that gives me life,

to the immense Sequioa

I nest my fertile eggs.

I am mother,

guarding with a fierce

gentleness that which

is a continued cycle of

birth, the hunt, and death.

Feel my instincts

as old and deep

as the rings that mark time,

from beginning, to end,

to beginning again.

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I am Sunset.

Reflective, bright,

lulling millions of stories

of beauty, tragedy,

and the seam that lies betwixt .

To look at me is searing, melting.

The power to erode

that which does not serve,

the power to turn

even the darkest moment

to light.

Watch me until you melt

into the fertile waters

I sink into,

knowing that I will

rise and fall

and rise again.

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I am Rose.

Opulent, simple,

my many folds, layers and scents

Grace on Earth.

Inhale my scent as medicine

to heal every collapsed cell,

inhale my fragrance to heal

every distorted memory.

Inhale that which is both You and I,

our sameness a picture

of the tiniest of particles,

a tetrahedron of oneness

that exists

in all of life.

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Hawk, Sunset, Rose.

Our differences illusory,

our stories kindred.

Each a mirror image

of the Earth we are born from,

each a mirror image of

the You that is Me.

I come from the Earth too,

my story is the same;

I too eat to survive

I too melt to create

I too inhale the scent

that alchemically changes

this body and spirit

into what is old,

what is remembered,

what is Born Again.

 

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

January 2014 Flower Bowl and Happy New Year Wish

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January 2014 Flower Bowl

(calendula , primrose, passion-flower, viola, heliotrope, pansy)

Wishing to slide down the rainbow into a Pot of Gold

to swim in the ocean and feel the vastness of Her womb,

Wishing for sight, and smell to overwhelm my senses

for Love to gush from my heart

like a fruit so ripe it bursts into sweetness

the moment it touches my tongue.

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Happy New Year!

Diana Ray

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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Mother Of The Flame

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Oh Violet Mother, Mother of the flame,

I blow air on your heated presence,

become entranced as you grow.

Help me to stoke your embered breath,

feel your moistened hands on my skin,

so I may stand in the middle,

the center of your lotus flames,

and just melt.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

The River Violet

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The River Violet

I walked upon the River Violet one day and sat down.

Its flow was soft, slow, beckoning,

it’s water catching sunbeams

in a beautiful crystalized purple,

turning everything that ran through

the most luminous shades of periwinkle and lilac,

its violaceous essence pulling and drawing me near,

like a bird song so lovely it tugs at the heart string,

and slowly I step in.

My toes turn to lavender as its waters gently tumble past,

a tingling heat spreading despite the sharp, brisk flow,

and I see ahead an eddy,

its swirls an image of something familiar but can’t recall,

and like a purple blue magnet it summons me,

until I am peering into its deepness.

What I see makes me gasp.

Fire, Violet Fire, beneath this waters depth!

Amythist flames rising and falling,

like its very own breath taking in liquid air,

a lava lamp of pure purple,

mixing water and flame and impossibility,

and the summoning grows loud and strong

till it is rushing in my ears,

its fever rising like a river after a storm,

until I cannot escape it,

and I jump in.

Heat all around me

devouring yet surging,

like the womb of the Goddess

I turn and spin in her blazing fetal fluid,

melting away pain

melting away attachment

melting away all that I have clung to

for fear of the unknown,

like a rough stone turned to smoothness,

its touch evoking the very essence of grace,

its cloudy veneer replaced with mercy,

its solid molecules becoming supple and soft,

and like a seed whose cycle

has sprouted and died and sprouted again

I am Reborn.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

Who Am I

Welcome To Running In Water!

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I am a woman, mother, writer, healer, student, teacher and lover.  I am deeply committed to sharing my experiences with my greater community and the world at large.  It is through the sharing of our stories, both joyful and tragic, that we come to know our true brothers and sisters, for it is not blood but spirit that defines family.

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Join me on this journey as I attempt to know the real me, the me beneath all the layers of protection and defense…

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Perhaps you will see yourself there too.

8/12/13 Diana Ray

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.

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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.

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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….

photo (5)8/11/12 Diana Ray

Where It All Began

I am a young woman in my early 40’s, with 2 boys I love more than anything, a lively pooch, and a husband I cannot imagine life without.  I am struggling to find inner calm, and in the process, finding myself.  My goal is to find my way in the world, and to approach with much grace, the roadblocks and challenges that currently leave me somewhere between  breathless, and knocked off my feet.  I am struggling to forgive myself for my faults, to find a way to parent 2 very difficult children, to stay connected to my wonderful husband, my friends, my family, my community I hold so dear, both local and global.  I am struggling to keep my sanity a daily basis, with trying my damnedest to stay afloat, to reach out to others, to ask for help when I need it (and boy, do I need it!).  To find a piece of zen somewhere deep within me, that I can cling to everyday, like a pacifier.

photo (42)My Loves

I love to cook and have dinner with friends, to hang out in my garden, and to enjoy the throngs of hummingbirds I see in my flowers every summer.  I love sleeping in and going out for meals.  I love hiking, going to the beach, and seeing a good movie.  I love to hang out with my husband, my friends, and when things go well, my children.  I love to meditate and I love to write.  I love all things spiritual, and I love to help others.  I love things that inspire an altered state.

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I am really a teenager at heart.

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If you have read my post, you know I am writing under a pseudonym, until my parents pass away.  I have also changed the names of my husband and children, to protect their identities as well.

Journey On!

Photographs taken by Diana Ray

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

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Invocation to The Great Mother

photo (51)Inspired from within,

I remember ancient wisdom.

I am everything and nothing.

I am the holder of space,

its lushness

and emptiness,

flowing in and out like

dye mixed with water,

becoming singular and many,

as dark mixes with light.

 
I am the blesser of the body,

its birth, death, and passage

the symbol of the

ultimate wheel,

its shape a reminder

of She Who Is All.

 
I am the garden from within,

each cycle of seed, growth and compost

sublime food for the body,

each memory of maiden, mother and crone

divine food for the soul.

 
I am the creator of the vessel,

the endless circle,

the womb that we call

She, You and I,

its emptiness

potent and pulsing,

the well waiting

to be filled.

 
I am the one

who makes you

whole,

and empty,

and whole again,

through girlhood

and children

and the wise old grandmother,

the eternal knowledge

of life and mystery

locked in each second,

of every memory,

of All That Is You .

 
I am the empty honeycomb

once used to its fullness,

its silence and quiet

beckoning the full

and fertile again,

the remembrance of women and ancestry

locked into every hexagonal shape,

each side touching another,

each shape morphing the image,

mixing the one with the everything

the everything with the nothing

the fullness that I Am

the She that is You.

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 April Aronoff

10/25/13

Photography by April Aronoff

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.

photo 3

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.

photo 2

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.

photo 4

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

12/12/13 Update: The Little Yellow School Bus

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The Little Yellow School Bus

A Scrap-Blog of Special Education Memories

12/12/13 Update

This post of mine gets some of the biggest number of hits.  Lots of people are reading, or just checking, although few have given a voice.  I am still firmly committed to providing a space where those of us who parent special needs children can share and support each other stories. Whether you have posted or not, I can still hear you.  Perhaps at some point down the line you will want to share…  In the meantime, I have enough stories and tidbits for both of us.

Diana Ray

On 12/12/13 D. R shared this about her boys:

What are the cosmic odds?  My older son is ADHD and so sensory sensitive, he can hardly tolerate any noises around eating, chewing, swallowing or hearing any human intake of food, breathing sounds/bodily noises in general.  My younger son is very learning disabled and has just been diagnosed with Tourettes…he is making more noises in his throat than I’ve ever heard before, and I’m pretty sure tonight I heard him oinking.  Do I laugh?  Do I cry? Somewhere in the middle?  I just know that if I didn’t have a space to share, my life would be very different.  I still reach out to community every day.  It’s never big enough.

9/10/13  Hello,

I have a started a project called The Little Yellow School Bus, to raise awareness around how we feel toward special needs children around the world.

As a teacher working with ethnically diverse special needs children, I have seen immigrant families come from other countries where the words “special needs; learning differences; special education” don’t exist, where the acceptance of such issues from ones homeland don’t exist.  Shame and isolation can be pervasive in such a setting, with the outcomes of these children questionable.

I am fortunate to live in a part of the United States where I have many resources for my own “special” children, yet my heart continues to break.  Around my younger son its education, and feeling fearful that he will go through school as “different,”  “stupid,” “slow.”  I worry about him making friends and having a positive social experience.

For my older *ADHD+NVLD child, it’s managing his behaviors and lack of social thinking.  There have been long periods of time where he alone wore our family out (and still does).

In my profession I have seen parents realize that their child is anywhere from mildly to profoundly impaired, in any number of developmental areas, many for the first time.  Sometimes they cry, sometimes they don’t.

I have heard stories of inspiration, exhaustion, frustration, grief and joy.  Many of them I have heard directly.

I know it is tough, and I’ve experienced it first-hand.  I can attest to many things: having a 4-year old with serious aggression; needing to spackle holes in the walls/doors because his tantrums were so bad; feeling isolated and alone; being that parent who realizes it’s their kid who has serious delays, and may need extensive support, if he is to succeed in school.

Yet it’s been the extreme challenge of it all, that’s brought me the most growth.

I have had to re-invent myself more than once.  “Re-invent or Bust,” has become my motto.

 If any of this resonates with you, I would love to hear from you.

Share your life with me.  Let us come together, here.

Let us be each other’s source of strength, inspiration, joy, and hope.  Let us listen to each other’s moments of frustration, exhaustion, challenge, and grief.

I will take anything:  the good, the bad and the ugly; the long and the short.   A picture, a poem, pictures of projects by your kids.  A few lines if you just need to vent.  Share what is hard and challenging; share what is amazing and joyful.

Jump right in, I promise I will catch you.

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Peace and Pie,

Diana Ray

*ADHD=Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

*NVLD=Non Verbal Learning Disorder

Photography By Diana Ray

9/11/13   N.P shared this about his son:

I put my son on the short bus this morning. His autism is mild and he is growing and getting more communicative every day. We’ve got him in special ed preschool in the morning and three hours of one-on-one autism therapy every afternoon at a specialty center (yea for Judson Center). With all of the ways that this is different than my older son, with the fact that he won’t kiss me, but he likes me to kiss him on the head. With all of the little differences, I never would have expected how little I notice it. I knew I’d love all my children equally but I didn’t think I’d just not see something like this on a daily basis.

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.

Reflections of a 28-Year Old, On Her Wedding Day

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Throughout my life

I’d look to see myself

in the mirror on the wall,

in the water out in nature,

in the window that I’d pass

as I’d walk down the street.

 

But never did I see myself

till I looked at my reflection in you,

and saw for the first time,

-my face as you touched it,

-my hands as you held them,

-my lips as you kissed me,

who I am inside this body,

whole,

passionate,

full of creativity,

and felt your hug

as familiar

as touching

my own skin.

 

Diana Ray

written to her husband on their wedding day, 15 years ago

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

One Year Celebration To Me (and pep talk)!

I kick off one year of blogging by getting down and dirty with life. I plan to bear my soul, I have a feeling. I hope you enjoy my writing along the way!

Diana Ray

One Year Celebration To Me (and pep talk)!
I.
The more
honest
I can be
about life,
the more
I will
become unplugged.
As the plug opens,
energy flows;
desire
senuality
fire.
Who knew
getting unplugged
could be
so easy?

II.
Being honest
about life
includes
other people
that are
close to you.
Other people
may not
like that.
What r
you going
to do?

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

The Brother’s Who Would Be Kings: A Fairy Tale About Sibling Rivalry, Chapters I-III

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Hello, I have written the third chapter in my fairy tale about sibling rivalry. Very inspired by my own children, but I am pleasantly surprised to see my characters take on lives of their own! Its been so much fun getting to know them. Feel free to just read chapter III if you wish, or start from the beginning. I would love, love, love any feedback!

Diana Ray

The Brothers Who Would Be Kings

A fairy tale about sibling rivalry

Chapter I

I. King Greploch

There once lived two princes who fought like cats and dogs. They fought so bitterly that their father King Greploch, in a fit of frustration, threw his second favorite wedding gift (a glass decanter that held his most favorite mead) out the window, where it promptly shattered against the ugly stone gargoyle that was meant to keep intruders away. The servants upon seeing them together would flee the room, knowing that at a moment’s notice royal fists might go flying. Their mother merely wept from a broken heart. Theirs was an unusual story, for these princes came from a long line of brothers or cousins who had ruled as dual kings for the past 200 years. King Greploch had ruled peacefully with his only brother for 10 years, until the unlikely day that the King mistook an allaberry for a wappaberry. Allaberries are poisonous, and having picked and eaten several, the uncle who was king clutched his stomach, let out the most gigantic and heinous smelling burp, and then with a loud thud dropped to the ground. The whole incident took mere minutes. So it is with great disappointment and dismay that these princes who were brothers fought so bitterly, as it was their duty to rule the kingdom together someday. But how could either of them cooperatively rule, when they could barely stand the sight of one another?

It was with a heavy heart that the King confided in his oldest and most trusted friend, Himalah. Over a pint of meade in Himalah’s cozy lair, Greploch lamented, “I fear these boys whom I love with all my heart will fail in their duty to rule together, with peace. Oh Himalah, my oldest and dearest friend, how can I help these pig-headed boys understand the true meaning of brotherhood?” Now Himalah was not just the King’s oldest and wisest friend, he was also his most clairvoyant. On more than one occasion Himalah had forseen the future for Greploch, and it was he who introduced the King to his most beloved wife and Queen, Besita. When Himalah spoke, King Greploch became silent, “Your son’s intolerance for one another is truly sad my friend, and I grieve for the pain it has caused you and your ancestry. There is only one way that these boys will come together to learn the true meaning of brotherhood.” King Greploch was on the edge of his seat, for when Himalah spoke so prophetically, it meant he surely knew the answer. “What is it Himalah,” the King said practically shouting, “Tell me, I am at your mercy!” Himalah looked the King straight in the eye, “An act of selfless bravery” he pronounced, suddenly becoming sleepy. Having second sight for the King was exhausting work. “An act of selfless bravery?” said Greploch, “Pray tell, what does that mean?” “They must come together in selfless bravery,” said Himalah as he stifled a yawn. He could say no more, as these were the only words that came to him. Unfortunately, these were not enlightened times. Most people valued tradition and history, over new ideas. Greploch too, would have to learn the true meaning of parenthood, in order for him to teach his boys how to be the country’s future Kings. He had no idea how inflexible he and Besita could be. But.. that was a conversation for another time. Himalah, no longer able to hold it in, spoke as he yawned, “I am off to sleep my old friend, foreseeing the future for you is extremely tiring. I bid you goodnight King Greploch.” The King wanted to keep talking, but knew it was pointless. When Himalah said he was tired, he knew he was done. “Good night to you Himalah,” said the King bowing his head in respect to his friend who always gave him the best advice, “May sleep rejuvenate both your body and spirit.” The two friends parted ways, the King returning to his castle and beloved Besita, while Himalah fell into his bed made of the finest feathers, a gift from the King for introducing him to Besita. A deep, heavy sleep overcame him immediately.

II. Fuego

“I was born first; it should be my right to be the only King, never mind a silly old tale.” Fuego was talking to Gleck, the son of the groundskeeper and head cook. Gleck spent his time helping both of his parents in their duties, his most favorite being sure the moat was well-stocked with stones, sticks and other sharp objects. Fuego and Gleck were both born in this castle two months apart. Fuego upstairs, amidst silk and satin upholserty; Gleck two months later and two floors below, was born into a tub of warm water. Delivering in a tub of water is how his mother’s family had been giving birth for three generations. Afterwards, the placenta was cooked and eaten by both the mother and the father, knowing that strength was needed in the coming days. That part always made Gleck shudder, who couldn’t imagine his parents having eaten something that was once connected to him. So he chose to forget about it.

Fuego and Gleck weren’t just close in age, they were raised together, with much of Fuego’s time spent hanging out with Gleck, and sometimes helping Gleck help his father. Of late this was frequent, as Fuego could barely stand to be around his family, especially his brother. “You know this is more than a silly old tale, “ said Gleck with an air of scolding in his voice. He knew Fuego too long not to call him on his dishonesty. Fuego frowned and grabbed a hot fresh bun off a tray Gleck’s mother had just taken out of the oven. Gleck moved the tray away, knowing Fuego’s capacity to eat hot fresh buns may mean none for dinner. “I know, I know, I know,” Fuego said with a full mouth of bun. He stomped his foot in frustration. “I know all about the curse of the king’s rulership,” Fuego spit food as he spoke, “Whoever of my ancestors came up with such an ill-brained idea” {Fuego was known for the dramatic}, “I hope that they experience indigestion forever in the afterlife!” Fuego gave a loud burp. “And that is what I think of that!” Fuego stomped off, leaving Gleck a pile of crumbs to clean up. Gleck sighed. He had witnessed the evolution of these brothers who were princes, who were destined to rule together as kings, their whole lives, and even he had to admit it was complicated. For starters, Fuego had been insanely jealous when Sati was born, to the point where if left alone, Fuego would have hurt Sati terribly. Queen Bestia was furious, and tried to send Fuego to stay with her sister on the other side of the kingdom, but luckily Gleck’s mother Rai stepped in and said that Fuego could stay with them at night, and that she would watch him during the day. The Queen softened and said “Thank-you,” to Rai. While friendship between servant and royalty was rare, in this family nothing was typical. Rai and Besita had also been childhood friends, as Rai’s mother had been her family’s cook when she was a child, and when Bestia and Griploch were married, she took Rai with her to be her family’s head cook. Rai was equally talented as her mother with cooking, in both skill and presentation. Rai’s mother still cooked for her parents and younger sister, and on the last Sunday of every month, both families would come together at the Castle for a gigantic feast. It was here in the Castle where Rai met Suchie, Gleck’s father. The two of them had their babies at the same time, which pleased them both. A wonderful tradition to be passed on. And Rai was right; Fuego needed to be home, with his family. Besita accepted Rai’s offer of letting Fuego sleep over for a few nights, something Fuego and Gleck had already begun to do, and of watching him during the day. Bestia was exhausted, and going crazy trying to keep Fuego away from Sati.

And of course, it was even more complicated than that. Fuego had extremely high levels of energy and high levels of sensitivity, two things he did not need in such abundance. An older prince is supposed to be the epitome of rules and order. Gleck knew that Fuego struggled with this role immensely, as it was difficult for the older boy to keep his body settled for the quantity of time expected of him as he received his education, both in academics and refinement. Being intelligent was expected. Being graceful, a given. Fuego was smart, and enjoyed the academic portion of his day, which for him was pure mental stimulation. But the two hours of refinement that followed, oh, how Fuego loathed this! He loathed it so much he wrote an extremely dramatic poem entitled, “Ode, To A Pile of Vile.” Learning how to sit, listen, attend to others, none of that came easily to Fuego, and it was often that he found his mind wandering, with his body quick to follow. He was getting in all sorts of trouble lately with Jemo, his and Sati’s refinement tutor, with Fuego actually skipping the last two days. Of course his parents were furious with him, which upset Fuego tremendously, not that he would ever let them know. “May a pig puke on me while I sleep,” thought Fuego, as he promised himself he would maintain his steely veneer, something he tried but faltered with. In reality, Fuego loved his parents. But he just couldn’t do it–sit there and listen and do such boring things for two straight hours! “Let Sati learn that crap, he’s better at it anyway” Fuego said, as he kicked a stone toward the woods. There was a favorite tree he liked to sit in, had been sitting in since he was young. “And may Sati go to an all suffering hell for all the sounds and noises he has been making lately!” Fuego was tired of his parents telling him that Sati couldn’t help it. These noises bothered Fuego to the point of delirium; it was like someone scratching metal inside his ear drum. He could barely stand to be around him, and it was all he could do not to smack Sati to keep quiet. So he yelled at him instead, not having any control around this issue, feeling horribly ashamed afterwards. If only his parents would let them stay apart from one another forever! But instead he is bound by some stupid history and destiny to a role that seems entirely impossible. It’s not that Fuego did not love Sati; he just couldn’t tolerate all of Sati’s noises. Also, if he were to be honest, Sati brought out the worst in Fuego, who was still jealous of his younger brother’s adoring nature. He acted on this from time to time, treating Sati terribly such as calling him names or pinching him hard. In fact there was this general drive to bug the crap out of Sati. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t control his brain or body half the time, and it was this half that was a total mud-pie towards Sati. “Poor Sati,” Fuego said suddenly, surprising himself. It was Sati who was good at all the refinement, all the quiet listening. Boy could Sati listen to any old duke drone on about any old thing! And behave so politely, on top of it all! But poor Sati was such a lousy student, and always has been. Struggling with the table of elements was something any 10 year could do. But Sati’s brain just didn’t work this way, and no one could blame him for not trying, because Sati was working his hardest during every academic lesson. Unlike Fuego, who was presently skipping his refinement lessons. As quick as it came, Fuego’s compassion for Sati was gone, “I hope he falls down a hole dug by an Antelou!” Antelou were four legged creatures with long, twisty, horns. They were known for digging deep holes where they would go to crap.

III. Sati

Sati lay in his bed, a large round circle of light making the most beautiful glow on the wall, light that found its way through the smallest of openings around the heavy drapes that had been drawn the night before, and thought about the day. It was going to be a good day, a day with meetings and games, and chocolate and Jinsk cake. Jinsk Cake was Sati’s favorite, a combination of woppaberries and chocolate, with tiny rainbow jizzies on top. “Wappaberry, not allaberry , “ Sati reminded himself. His only uncle and once King had died from eating an allaberry which he mistook for a wappaberry. He would never let that happen to himself! Sati was named after his uncle, his full name being Satior, although everyone called him Sati for short. Satior the first had died when Sati, who just turned 10 last month, was still in his mother’s womb. It was after this accident that his mother, in a fit of grief, went into labor. “The fact that I was a boy, unknown to either of them until the moment of my birth, was a blessing,” Sati would tell the various dukes and monarchs that would come to visit from across the lands. Sati loved schmoozing and hanging out with his father, King Greploch, and eating sweets and being treated like a prince. Sati loved being a prince! He looked forward to being King one day. If only he didn’t have his giant clod of a brother getting in his way. Sati frowned when he thought of Fuego, his large oxen-like body taking up even too much room in Sati’s mind. He grumbled to himself as he pushed-half swung- half-flung himself out of bed, a feat in and of itself considering how many feathers his mother insisted his bed be stuffed with, and how ridiculously large it was for a person his age. Sati had been catapulting himself out of his bed since he was 5 years old. At 5, Sati had needed three catapults to get off the bed. Now at 11, he could do it in only one! Bring on a bigger bed!

Sati saw his breakfast tray sitting on his dressing table, a compromise made by his parents with Fuego and Sati to let them eat breakfast separately in their rooms, as most meals ended with the two boys rolling on the floor, screaming and shouting at one another. Sati sat down and took a sip of hot chocolate, then picked up a small bowl of ever so sweetened whipped crème, and dropped a giant dollop into his cup. This reminded him simultaneously of the Jinsk Cake, which was frosted with a similar kind of thickened creme, and of Fuego, who was likely at that moment also dropping a dollop of crème into his own hot chocolate. His parents had tried for years to get Sati and Fuego to eat a meal together, but it was Fuego who could not stand to be near other people while they ate. “Too noisy, too foul smelling, it makes me want to wretch like a sailor who is lost at sea in the most powerful of storms!” Fuego would announce to whoever was around. So they no longer ate breakfast together, and did their best to muster through a horrible lunch and even worse supper. It’s not that Fuego didn’t try; he wore the finest ear muffs made of the thickest Niel Rabbit Fur. The insides were lined again with layers and layers of Wakka Hyde. This helped with Fuego’s sensitivity to noises. Sometimes he wore a knight’s helmet to shield himself from their sight.

In reality, Sati knew that Fuego would die of embarrassment if anyone outside the castle knew how crazy he was. And Sati knew that Fuego was actually crazy!! For starters, he still wasn’t over having a little brother. “We come from of long line of brothers and cousins who ruled peacefully together as kings,” thought Sati. “A tradition that has gone on in our family for over 200 years!” There was no way that Sati was going to let this tradition die with him and Fuego! He would make Fuego get over it; make him get his royal butt in gear! Sati knew that Fuego had skipped his refinement lessons the past two days, knew how much he hated this part of being prince. “I need to be free, with the people!” Fuego has said on more than one occasion. It was common for Fuego to go and stay with his aunt and grandmother every other weekend, in the village below. Sati got it, he really did. Let him go be with the people, and let him, Sati, do all the governing. A brilliant idea! If only his clod-brained oxen of a brother could get on track. True, Sati was a twitchy kid, and maybe even made a noise or two (ok, a lot). And true, his uncle who was King, Satior the first, whom Sati was named after, also suffered from the same kind of uncontrollable noises and movements of the body, thus likely making it inherited and lifelong. But get over it Fuego, and grow up!

Sati threw a pillow across the room. All this thinking about Fuego and their problems made Sati’s blood boil. As he picked up another pillow to throw, Sati suddenly stopped, closed his eyes, and breathed. Part of his Sati’s refinement lessons was learning how to control one’s temper, through the breath. Sati breathed 10 in, and 10 out, and slowly opened his eyes. He was still angry, but much less. Breathing really helped calm Sati’s temper, and boy, did he have a temper lately! It sort of crept up on him…he remembered always being upset as a small child, as there were a period of years where Fuego beat the crap out of Sati daily, leaving him bleeding and screaming on the floor. That eventually passed as Sati and Fuego both grew older, maturity making Fuego less interested in hitting his younger brother, and size making Sati a more formidable opponent. Now when Fuego came at Sati, Sati fought back. All of Sati’s noises drove Fuego insane. Fuego’s expression of insanity made Sati very, very angry. Which explains why their meals always ended in yelling and shouting. Sati was the first to agree with his father; everyone in the castle was miserable. But what to do? Sati was in fact, only 10, and despite his gift for governing, still had the mind of a 10-year-old and had no clue how to handle this kind of conflict. So instead they reacted to one another. No wonder his relatives had been comparing him to his 3-year old cousin, who would fly off the handle without warning. That is how he had been acting lately around Fuego, and sometimes his parents, King Greploch and Queen Besita. With Fuego, it was a lot of reacting to his actions, such as Fuego teasing him or screaming at him to stop making noises. With his parent’s, he wasn’t sure what it was, but lately all they did was make him mad. Sati felt ashamed, but quickly swallowed his feelings and moved on with the day.

Today the Duke of Verbina was coming to talk with his father about building a road that would connect their two Kingdoms, Dymondia and Verbina. Sati was curious to see how this would unfold, as a valuable patch of Trukar, a mineral highly coveted in the open markets, was discovered by a Dymondia farmer during the last planting season, his farm being right on the border between the two countires. Likely, some also lay on the Verbina side of the border. Was this the beginning of a new alliance between Dymondia and Verbina, or was Verbina trying to take all the Trukar for themselves? The Verbinian government was known for taking things that did not always belong to them, and then claiming ignorance upon exposure. The most recent Verbinian King seemed like a very fair man, and had yet to behave that way. But really, who knew? Sati could not wait to sit back in silence and watch. Fuego, who was always expected but never came to these meetings, would most definitely miss out. Afterwards they would all eat Jinsk Cake.

Brothers Who Would Be Kings

A Fairy Tale About Sibling Rivalry

Chapter II

I.Seras

Seras stopped rubbing the two stones together and checked out his work. He ran his fingers along the edges of the point he was attempting to create, shook his head, and went back to rubbing his stones. He had been working on this piece for over two days, and still the end wasn’t sharp enough. Seras was attempting to make a lance with a tip made of sharp stone. A lance was a long, heavy pole with an arrow like tip, used in a variety of games. Seras was obsessed with competitive games that involved weapondry, with jousting being his second favorite. Seras’ most favorite happened only once a year, at the Festival of Donar, the God who fought against evil with a magical gavel. The gavel was thought to be at least half the weight of Donar, who is legend to have muscles strong enough to lift two worlds. At the Festival of Donar, a contest was waged with who could life the heaviest gavel. Last year the winner lifted 300 migs! Seras began rubbing the two stones furiously, to the point where the stones became so hot, Seras dropped the whole piece when he felt the edges for sharpness. “May it rain frogs for 100 days!” swore Seras. He had been using that phrase lately when frustrated, introduced to him by his cousin and prince in line to be King, Fuego. Seras loved Fuego’s dramatic nature, and often made himself memorize some of Fuego’s ranting declarations.

“Time for a break, “ thought Seras. Despite his frustration, he was more than proud of his work. Once completed, Seras would use the lance in this summer’s jousting competition. It would be his first competition, as Seras finally hit the height requirement to compete. He was almost there last year, and was furious that a half a lentimeter kept him from competing with his friends. “A rule is a rule!” they told him after he had snuck back in with 2 lentimeters of dirt in his shoes (like they were really going to fall for that!). “Come back next year, laddie,” the overly hearty man said as he smacked Seras so hard on the back he was winded. “And eat some yak fat, for the love of God! You’re as skinny as a Pie Tree!” The man and everyone around him roared with laughter. Pie trees were small, skinny trees the young children of the village loved to climb. Once you hit about age 7, most kids moved on to climbing Inot trees, which shot 100 mentimeters in the sky. The reference did not amuse Seras. Damn his petit mother! He had to take after her, while his older sister was as tall as a giant.

Seras left his room and went down to the kitchen where Merdow was cooking. Merdow had been his family’s cook for as long as Seras could remember. Her daughter Rai lived with King Greploch and Queen Besita, his aunt and uncle. Seras’ mother Abbra, and Queen Besita were sisters. Every Sunday he and his mother, father, older sister and grandmother, had dinner with his aunt and uncle in their castle surrounded by the most treacherous moat Seras knew of, this side of the Ashkin Caves. Merdow and her husband Vat, Rai’s mother and father, would come as well, and the two families would have an incredible feast, with Rai and Merdow cooking up a storm! It was on these Sundays that Seras, along with Fuego and Gleck, would check the moat to make sure it was well stocked with sharp odds and ends. It was on last Sundays inspection that Seras became inspired to make his own lance.

Seras bounded down the stairs and jumped over the last three, landing with a thump in the spacious kitchen that was his favorite part of the house. Merdow was standing in front of the stove, stirring something steamy that smelled sweet. Seras, knowing that Merdow’s hearing was poor and had not likely heard his loud entrance, snuck up behind her, tapped her left shoulder, and when Merdow turned to look, Seras grabbed a spoon and dove into whatever was cooking on her other side. Despite Seras’ ignorance of the dish, he knew his odds were good; everything Merdow cooked tasted delectable, whether savory, sour or sweet. But to Seras’ dismay, both his tongue and throat began to burn the moment he swallowed. “Silly boy, Seras,” scolded Merdow as she pushed him away with her many layers of aprons, and thrust a glass or water in his hands. Seras drank the whole glass in 2 seconds and gasped for more, “For the love of the Sun, what is that?” rasped Seras, unable to speak any further. Merdow handed him another glass of water and gave him a look, “I am dyeing your fathers robe to wear in this summers’ festival games. The dye is made from a red igua radish; one of the hottest spices in these parts. Serves you right, you little Geja Man!” Merdow laughed as Seras gulped down yet another glass of water. The Geja Man was a little devil, who in Dymondia mythology would come and play tricks on a person until they grew insane. Seras’ face and shirt were covered with water, but at least he was finally able to speak. “You are correct, my most favorite cook in the kingdom!” laughed Seras. He was always trying to sneak some of Merdow’s cooking in between meals. They sat down together and Seras told Merdow about his problem sharpening the lance. “Ahh,” said Merdow with a far-away look, “The summer jousting competition. That is where I met Vat, who was that year’s second place winner.” Seras’ eyes grew wide as he took in this information. “Really?” he squeaked. “Second place? Did he make his own lance?” Maybe Seras would get some advice from him! “I believe he did,” said Merdow as she stood up and turned back to the stove. “Spent a long time sharpening it, just like yourself. Used some special kind of sap from a tree I can’t recall.” “A tree? Which tree?” Seras was practically jumping. At last! Something that might actually help him get ahead before the competition. Now if he could only get the name of the tree…he would have to go Vat directly. Seras bowed in front of Merdow, as he bid her farwell. After all, she was the one who fed him every day! “Always a pleasure, my most favorite cook in the kingdom!” Seras yelled as he ran out the side door. Vat would be in the stable with the horses. Seras’ father Roon, bred Clatskin horses, magnificent creatures known for their strength, health and longevity. Vat was the main person in charge of these horses.

Seras ran at full speed down the hill that led to the stable. His mother, who was sitting in the garden drinking her morning tea, shouted something to Seras that he did not hear. He was thinking only of the sap that would make him this year’s jousting champion! By the time Seras reached the stable he was gulping for air, much the way he did after he drank that putrid broth made from the red igua radish. Vat was measuring how much feed was left until the end of the month, when more feed would arrive. When Vat heard Seras’s gasps for breath, he looked up from his clipboard. “Well hello there my fine lad,” spoke Vat. Seras loved Vat’s voice, and instantly felt soothed by his presence. Vat’s voice was deep and rich, and when he sang to the horses, something he did throughout the day, their eyes would glaze over, lost in pure delight. No wonder the horses bent to his will! Seras attempted a bow, but still could not speak. Seras always bowed when he said hello or good-bye to an elder, a move he learned from his cousin, prince in line to be king, Sati. Because of him, Seras knew the value of respect. “Our elders are our teachers,” Sati would lecture, sharing often what he learned from his refinement tutor, Jemo. “True wisdom is not gained by respecting only those in power. True wisdom is gained by respecting those who have lived longer, knowing that their history is a gift greater than any money or kingdom.” Vat was one such elder that Seras had tremendous respect for. The fact that he had won second place in the annual jousting competition made him even more God-like. Finally Seras could breathe. He was so excited he could barely get the words out, “Merdow said you won second place in the summer jousting competition!” Vat laughed heartily, for while Seras understood perfectly what he was saying, he was speaking so quickly that his proclamation came out more like, “Merdtellyou wonsecinjousting!” Vat had known Seras his whole life, and had seen this behavior more than once. “Calm down boy, and slow yourself down,” Vat’s voice, so melodious to Seras, had an effect instantly. Seras took a deep breath, and sat down on a pile of hay. “Merdow says you won second place in the summer jousting competition when you were a lad.” The same twinkle that appeared in Merdow’s eyes also shined in Vat’s at the mention of this old memory. “That I did, my lad. Almost came in first.” Seras drew in a deep breath, eager to hear more. “What happened Vat? What made you lose first place? Was the winner bigger than you?” Vat knew Seras’ obsession with growing, as many of his friends had become tall and heavy enough to compete in last year’s summer games, leaving Seras alone on the sidelines. Vat’s eyes twinkled even more. “Nope,” he chuckled, “Lost to a little guy, like yourself. A little guy who knew exactaly where to hit me so that I would lose my balance and fall. It was the final round, and tied. For me, I had made it that far on strength. For him, on strategy, as most of the men were twice his size.” Seras was enthralled by this story. “And it worked!” Vat declared, “He was the better player, won fair and square!” Vat began to laugh, and once again Seras became soothed by the rich overtone of his voice. A little guy like him had beat someone like Vat? He had struck a pot of jewels! “Merdow also said you used a special sap to make your tip really sharp.” Seras stood up. Vat was easily 7 mentimeters, and Seras was only as tall as a bit past his belt. Vat’s family was originally from the mountains, where people stood a good 5 lentimeters taller on average than those who lived in the valley. Something about the local leafy greens they ate, combined with the highly charged nial air. Nial was an element mined in that area, mostly by the mountain villagers who lived there. The percent of Nial in the air in the mountains was 100 times greater than down in the valley. Seras was insanely jealous. In addition to height, the mountain folk on average also lived longer lives. “Now that one is a lie,” scoffed Vat. We live and die same as everyone else, only taller.” Seras did not agree. The few times he ventured up into the mountains with Vat, he saw more wrinkly arms, necks and cheeks than anywhere in his village. And the stories the people would tell! Seras wanted to move up there, if only to have good company while he grew ridiculously tall!

“Ah, the sap!,” lamented Vat, “Made my lance tip so soft, sharpening was a dream. Then you wiped it off, and it would harden. Mine could split a hair I tell you! Too bad you can’t find it anymore.” Seras suddenly sat back and inhaled quickly. No more? Then he began talking very fast, “What do you mean? Why can’t you find it anymore? What’s happened?” Only it came out sounding like, ““Whadyoume? Whycayofitanymore? Whappened?” Vat, suddenly getting what this was about, grabbed Seras by the shoulders. “Get yourself together boy, and I’ll tell you.” Seras stood up, bowed, and bent his head. “As you wish, my mighty one!” In addition to respect, Seras also knew the value of charm. He had worked his way out of many a situation on charm alone. Vat laughed. “The sap came from the Chula tree. The Chula no longer grow in these parts. They were disappearing even when I was a lad.” Seras’ eyes grew wide, the wheels of his brain spinning fast…there must be a Chula somewhere?! When Seras spoke he tried to sound confident, although the cracks in his voice gave away his desperation, “There must be a Chula tree somewhere!” Vat gave him a sideways look and chuckled. “Sure there is. If you want to go to Ishima Jay territory. That’s the only place I hear of them existing these days, if one can live to tell the tale.” Ishima Jay was the formal name of a dragon species that could grow to be 8 mentimeters long. It was not uncommon for these awful creatures to have extra appendages, an extra arm, leg, maybe even a tail. They were mostly vegetarian, unless intruded upon, where they would capture their victums, fatten them up for a few days, and then feast upon them alive. At least that is the story that floated around the Kingdom. Seras smiled his sweet, most charming smile. “Of course not, “ he said matter of factly. Who in their right mind would do that?” If it was one thing Seras had learned, it was not to tell the adults around him his true intentions with anything even remotely out of the ordinary. While Vat was his hero, he was most certainly an adult. He would never understand Seras’ need to win at least final place in this summer’s jousting competition. Of course he was going to Ishima Jay. He had to get the sap. There was no other choice.

The Brothers Who Would Be Kings

A Fairy Tale About Sibling Rivalry

Chapter III

I Fuego and Seras

Fuego stomped through the forest in his heaviest jousting shoes, the scent of crushed pines and needles strong in his nose. How he enjoyed the sounds and smells of the forest! Fuego lost consciousness here, becoming so absorbed in the Earth around, that time disappeared. Fuego sat down on a large rock overlooking a murky pond, and peered below. “A whole different world exists down there,” whispered Fuego, as he threw a small stone into the pond. Quiet, wavy ripples cut through the static water. “A world where sights and sounds don’t matter; you are what you are. Fuego stood up and held his hands up to the sky, “If the Gods would grant me one wish now, it would to be an insect!” Fuego pounded his chest. He knew he was overdoing it, but he at least he felt better.

Fuego reflected on the morning that had just passed. He and Sati had fought at breakfast, with Sati being the initiator, a surprise for everyone at the table. Sati began to insult Fuego about his avoidance of all royal matters, a behavior that started the day after Fuego skipped the meeting with the King of Verbina. Queen Besita told Sati to stop, which in recent days had been enough. This morning was different. Sati would not stop, and then out of nowhere, grabbed a hot bun and threw it at Fuego. Fuego stood up, his blood boiling, his hands clenched into fists so tight, he felt his fingernails cut both palms. Then he stopped. Even he had had enough of his behavior. Fuego looked at Sati, who was already staring at him. The two locked eyes. “Sorry,” said Sati, a little embarrassed that he had created such a fuss. Fuego knew very well what his brother was thinking: it was one thing to defend oneself, another to be the cause of the injustice. Fuego turned and walked out.

It was half past noon, and Fuego was expected at refinement class in 15 minutes. His inclination was to flee, skip it, go anywhere but where Sati was. He hated refinement class anyway, with all its rules about how to act and behave. Fuego wanted freedom! Freedom to explore, to learn about life outside the castle, to exist as something different than Prince in line to be King. Fuego stood up and brushed the leaves off his pants. Then he heard it: crunching sounds only a human could make. Who could this be? Fuego was always exceedingly careful when he ventured into the woods, as his parents had been trying to follow him ever since he began skipping lessons 4 years ago. Thus far, they had not succeeded. Fuego was a mastermind at disappearing into the forest; he knew every tree nook, cave and hole in the ground in this land and the next. He was excellent at climbing trees. And no one ever came here anyway, as this part of the forest was known for having vicious wild Ak, of which there were many. Fuego left them alone, and they him.

As the crunching sounds became louder, Fuego saw a shadow get close. It was now or never: he could take, or be taken. As the shadow began to descend upon him, Fuego swung around and did his best kun ja kick, a sideways swipe that left its victim flat on its back. Fuego saw a medium sized blur fall to the ground; a large thump followed. “Ow!!” screamed Seras grabbing his backside, which was now covered with dead forest leaves and dried Ak crap. “Fuego, you miserable Geja Man, it’s me!” Fuego jumped back, shocked to see Seras lying at his feet. Fuego quickly helped him up and brushed him off. “For the love of Donar Seras, what are you doing here?” Fuego scanned the area around them, but saw only forest. Seras knew Fuego would be concerned that he had been followed. “Don’t worry my renegade, crazy cousin,” Seras grabbed Fuego’s hands and looked him in the eyes. “While you are crazy, I can assure you I came alone.” Fuego sighed with relief, than gave Seras a giant embrace, something the two always did when they met. “So,” encouraged Fuego, “what are you doing here?” While it was wonderful to see Seras, he was troubled that his secret place was found out. Seras began to dance around, something he often did when excited. “Well my dear, older cousin, let me explain.” Seras proceeded to tell Fuego about his conversations with Merdow and Vat, how he was going to get the sap from the Chula Tree, and most importantly, how he was going to place (maybe in first!) in this summer’s jousting competition. Seras was so winded from dancing and talking that he sat on the ground and began panting. Fuego frowned. He knew of such a magical sap, but it could only be found in the land of the horrible Ishima Jay Dragon. Seras must be joking! But when Fuego looked at him panting on the ground, and recalled how obsessed Seras was with the jousting competition, and how he had been trying to sneak past the height and weight requirements since he could talk, he knew he was dead serious. Last year Seras had come so close to competing.…..even he had to agree that half a lentimeter should not have mattered, and that the judges should of let him compete. But they didn’t, and now Seras was more determined than ever.

Fuego sat down next to Seras, who had stopped panting and was drinking large gulps of water. “Seras is always drinking water,” Fuego noted to himself. Then his voice became stern, “You don’t mean the tree that grows where the Ishima Dragons live? You can’t be serious Seras!” Fuego’s emotions surged while he spoke. “If those dragons catch you, they will tear you apart!” Fuego’s eyes bulged while his hands gestured wildly. He had gone from quiet to ranting in mere seconds. Seras looked at Fuego in surprise. He of all people should have understood his need to get the sap. Seras was not scared of any dragons, extra tails or not. Like Fuego, Seras was a strategist when he wanted to be. Moving with stealth and quiet, he would be in and out of Ishima Jay before the dragons even knew what happened! Plus, he was so petite he could slip in and out of places no dragon could ever fit.

Seras sized up the situation. He could be honest with Fuego about what he was doing, maybe even ask him to join. After all, it was Fuego who always preaching, “Seize the day, explore the horizon!” Although he had to admit it was always followed with the adage, “But don’t die along the way.” Seras now understood that this most certainly fell in the “might die category.” He thought quickly on his feet. “Actually Vat told me that Ishima Jay was not the only place to find Chula Trees anymore.” Seras knew he would eventually get in BIG trouble with his mother and father for telling such a lie, but by then he would have the sap. Dealing with Fuego would be different, as he and Fuego had blood sworn to always tell the truth to each other. He and Sati had an identical agreement. The three of them had done so when Sati was 3, Seras 4, and Fuego 5. They all pricked their fingers with the needle from a Taki plant, barely aware of the stingy cuts obtained earlier from wrestling the needle off the stem. Taki needles were covered with a thin yellow film that was as soft as velvet, and as sharp as glass. After the 3 of them had gotten about a dozen shallow cuts each, Fuego went home, got his jousting shoes and gloves, and scraped the yellow film off with armour. It was so exciting none of them even minded getting cut! (Abbra and Besita had been horrified). After their fingers were pricked, all 3 made the declaration of life long honesty, than drank each other’s blood. Seras drank both Fuego and Sati’s blood, and they his. Fuego and Sati would not drink each other’s blood, but at that age, what could you do? The consequences of breaking such a pact, Seras did not know. He looked into Fuego’s eyes, which had shown serious concern only 2 minutes before. Now they showed relief.

“Really?” said Fuego, grateful for this news. It was strange telling his cousin who was only 1 year younger not to seize the day, but Fuego knew first-hand how horrible these dragons were. Two years ago Fuego had attempted the journey to Ishima Jay alone, wanting the sap for his own jousting stick. After 2 days of traveling in the forest (his parents had been worried sick and sent men on horseback to search for him) he came across the most awful creature he had ever seen, an enormous black dragon with 2 arms and 2 legs, each appendage adorned with 3 large claws that could slash a man with one swipe. Giant red sores oozing a thick green slime covered the dragons’ body, which writhed around in pain. The slime gave off steam as it hit the ground, and the smell was putrid. The dragon, which was obviously injured, lunged powerfully at Fuego, who was barely able to get away. That the dragon was injured is the only reason Fuego is still standing today.

“So tell me,” said Fuego, never once suspecting Seras deception, ’“Where are such trees? I thought the Chula had become extremely remote.” “Well…….,” said Seras, pausing with effect. He would take any extra seconds he could get! “There’s a small farm north of the Asai Ruins that has been working on growing the Chula tree.” Not entirely untrue. The farm Seras spoke of had tried growing the Chula tree 5 years ago, without success. This was common knowledge. It was unlikely that Fuego would know whether they had attempted it again, which they hadn’t.

“Won’t take me more than an hour to get there by foot” said Seras, itching to get on his way. It would be better to continue as if nothing was wrong, as if the lie Seras had told was really the truth. Fuego smiled at the mention of the Asai Ruins, as that was also one of his favorite places. “Well then my dear cousin!” boomed Fuego, as both boys stood up and embraced. “You must be on your way; you know your mother does not like it when you are late for supper!” Fuego gave a hearty laugh, as Aunt Abbra had so many rules at supper time that meals could last for hours. Seras joined in the laughter, partly from relief that the conversation was finished, and partly because what Fuego said was true: his mother was insane when it came to supper. A typical supper consisted of 8 or 9 dishes, with Abbra insisting that each dish have its own silver utensil. There were so many utensils for different foods, it was impossible to remember which was which! It was at the Harvest of Gaya 2 years ago, that Besita, Abbra and their mother had cooked a feast. A total of 20 different dishes were served, each with its own piece of silver (Abbra’s insisted). Seras had remembered how large the place settings were, with 20 pieces set around each plate. Roon, Seras’ father, had been up all night with Vat delivering a Clotskin colt, and had just woke up after sleeping all day. He was tired and sore from last nights’ delivery (he had actually stuck his hand up the horses vaginal canal and pulled the colt out), and did not have the mental capacity to keep track. By the fifth plate (spit roasted Ak), Abbra’s furrowed brow and quiet scoldings had been enough for Roon, who only wanted to go back to bed. “Quiet woman!” roared Roon. Then he grabbed the head of the Ak with both hands, bit off its nose, and spit the entire contents onto Abbra’s plate. Abbra fled the table, mortified, with Roon at her heels. The rest of the family looked at one another and shrugged. They knew full well that this would pass, and why spoil a fine meal? Roon adored Abbra, had for 20 years. Mostly he indulged her neurosis; occasionally he snapped.

“It wasn’t the first time,” said Seras, as he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes, “and it won’t be the last. Mother is insane! It most certainly runs in the family.” Fuego laughed so hard he was bent over. “I remember a giant splatter of Ak grease getting on my helmet.” Fuego gathered the few things he had brought with him. His original intention had been to write, as he was working on a story about a peddler who travels the world, but that was interrupted by the visit from Seras. No matter. All this talk of the Asai Ruins had put Fuego in a good mood; he would have to go there soon. Maybe he would show up late to refinement class. It would certainly create peace between him and Sati, and most definitely between him and his parents. Suddenly Fuego felt an urgency to return, something that was both unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Behaving with thought was so unknown to him….. “I bid you farewell cousin,” bowed Fuego,” who was now feeling his own itch to go. “And I you, dear cousin,” returned Seras, relieved that Fuego had believed his story. Something about the Asai Ruins had put Fuego in a remarkably good mood, something that was never certain with either Sati or Fuego, both were so moody.
Seras and Fuego embraced, and Fuego began walking back towards the castle. In a minute he was swallowed by the lush forest, leaving Seras alone on the large rock above the murky pond. Ak droppings lay in random places, and there were many sharp stones and twigs on the ground. With jousting shoes this did not matter, as the protection and weight of the shoe made ones foot impermeable to the wildness of the forest. “Seras will not have a good time walking in his shoes,” thought Fuego, suddenly remembering that Seras had been wearing regular shoes, whose fabric and soles would surely shred by the time he returned. Fuego smiled and shook his head. That Seras. It was so like him to do something ill prepared.

What I Know

What I Know

So what do I know?
That I waver between feeling horribly irritable
and highly anxious,
that there is something beneath all this irritable anxiety,
a thing I can only guess is Big.
I know I must let it have a voice,
have a say,
allow its presence to exist,
despite my rigidity.
I know I must cut back on *M&M’s
or even take a break altogether,
although I really don’t want to.

How I Feel

I feel lost, like I am drifting.
I have this beautiful house and yard,
created by others
that is now my home.
Part of me is complete,
amidst the lovely views and bright, expansive rooms,
while the rest waits patiently
for solidity to come.
The ground sliding
like mini-earth quakes beneath my feet.
Good thing I know how to dance!

What I Fear

Being 100% present in this life,
makes me want to flee my body
as fast as a flea.
I see myself becoming
angry and hostile daily,
eventually changing
into a fire breathing dragon.
Not the kind of metamorphosis
I had in mind….
Sound like anyone I know?
Who have I defined
with these words
my entire life?
My mother.

The Experience

Her anger resonates through me.
Its rage really, rage over
thoughtless, countless
wrong doings,
things she let happen
her entire adult life.
(Sorry if I sound judgmental)
Trying to contain all that pain
is not possible.
So it leaked out as poison…..
and the fire breathing dragon was born.

More Fear

I had an idea earlier,
that there is another she out there,
with a garden wall like mine,
who instead of tearing it down
like her heart’s desire,
leaves it,
because everyone says
it is so beautiful.
And while it is truly beautiful,
it is not the wish…..
The wish is for lushness and life
that go beyond the boundaries of one, stucco wall.
The garden would look more beautiful than ever…..
But she never does it.
And my mother never leaves my father.
And I never let my irritability, anxiety or anger have a voice.
Except I would never that let happen.

Feeling Hope

Someone once told me
that I was the part of the family tree
where history changes,
where healing takes place,
on an ancestral level.
My great-grandmother shot my great-grandfather,
and my grandfather witnessed it as a boy.
That is only one story in a million
that exist between my two parents,
and most of the stories
I don’t even know.
This is my blood, where I come from.
So much family pain resides in our cells….
How can it not,
when pain is passed
to the next generation
like DNA?

More Hope

We inherit patterns of living
whose dysfunction becomes more etched
with each generation that is born.
When do we say, “No more!?”
When do we let grief and pain surface,
let vulnerability rise,
so they can be released
into the cosmos-
sunbeams from the the soul.
When energy flows the answers come,
the unknown becomes known,
and the floodgates of love, passion, and creativity open.
Sure, you may barf along the way,
and experience bouts of hyperventilating,
and possibly horrible dreams.
But I say, “Bring it on baby,”
I say, “Bring it on.”

Diana Ray
See the below post for more info on M&M’s
http://runninginwater.com/2012/10/19/growing-hair-on-my-chest/