August 2015 Flower Bowl/Let Your Humanity Sing

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I am finally learning at age 45, to accept life in all its forms.  I struggle with anger and anxiety, but can hold myself in these spaces with grace.  I can be present with my friends and family without feeling like I need to flee.  I can breathe through the moments of grief and pain like I would comfort a small child who wants only to be held.  I can acknowledge myself with all my flaws, beauty and complexity, and honor the individual that I am.

All of this I accomplished in small, slow, baby steps.

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I have come to understand the inherent wisdom that is gained through walking and surviving the dark sides of life.  Without darkness, there is no light, without pain there is no love.  We all long for peace, love and serenity, but until we’ve danced and held our own shadow, the avoidance of these experiences will forever be a road block to cultivating inner light.

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Walking on the earth, hugging a tree, sitting in my garden with the plants I care for, smelling essential oils that life my spirit, these are all the ways I sooth my soul.  Reaching out to others for love and support, a milestone that has been daunting, is also essential to my soothing.  For without this, I am just a lonely person surrounding by a planet full of people.

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We are meant to be kind and compassionate to the parts of ourselves we do not like.  We are meant to live in love, together as one community.  I’m not sure which comes first, community or self-love, but it really doesn’t matter.  Start with one and then move on to the other.  Learn to love and adore who you are.  Learn to share your shining light with those around you.  Take a baby step each day towards your own self-acceptance.  And in doing so, feel your heart with all its pain and beauty.

Let your humanity sing.

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

July 2015 Flower Bowl/Finding My Compass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

June Flower Bowl 2015/Soothing the Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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April Aronoff

Photography By April Aronoff

My Temple Garden/Invocation II

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

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

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

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To hold both stillness and passion in the widest embrace.

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

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To finally fly.

April Aronoff

April Flower Bowl/What We Pass On

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In recent months I have been reflecting on what I will pass to my children when I am gone.  Having come from a long line of pain and dysfunction passed down through the generations, I take these reflections seriously, knowing that if change is going to happen, it must begin with me.  I am a deeply spiritual person, and openly worship the Goddess in my household.  I am a Priestess, on the path of the Shaman, and an Earth Keeper.  I have an enormous garden that I am deeply devoted too.  I consider myself in service to others, and find I have much to offer when one is willing to receive.  I openly express love and affection among my family members and community.

Last week-end I attended a day long ceremony in honor of the Priestess, The Lady of the Lake.  We spent the day anointing ourselves with holy essential oils, working alone or in pairs.  It was a delicious, divine experience that Ieft me overflowing with watery love.

There was a range of ages at this gathering, from 20’s to 70’s.  So many women on paths that were both different and familiar, the commonality of serving the Goddess making us instant Sisters, able to sit in deep comfort with one another, despite many of us having met just that day.

During lunch I sat outside with a group of women, some my age, some quiet older.  During conversation I learned that two of the women were mother and daughter, having attended other ceremonies and workshops together.  I was instantly touched to the core of my heart, which began to fill with a mixture of adoration, awe and grief.  The adoration came from a willingness to take in what these two women shared, a deep bond that went beyond simply enjoying each other’s company, to that of sharing in what was considered sacred to both of them.  The awe and grief were different reflections of the same mirror; awe that such relationships exist between parent and child, and grief that such connection does not exist between me and my own parents.

At the end of the ceremony the daughter got up, and said she had a gift to give, not knowing until that moment whom it was meant for.  The gift was a beautiful staff, crowned with the head of Horus, a sun/sky God who was worshipped in ancient Egypt.  The Head of Horus is that of a falcon, whose totem meanings are associated with soul healing, opportunity, change, focus, freedom, and rising above a situation with the understanding that it is you that has the ability to create change with grace.

The staff is also the tool of the Wise Woman.  The Wise Woman is the Crone with wisdom, one who touches the Earth and the divine simultaneously, one who can see larger patterns within life.  She is the union of the intuitive, rational and instinctive.  She also has a wicked cheeky sense of humor.

The daughter anointed Horus with Holy oil as she spoke, and then presented this glorious tool to the person she knew only moments before whom it was meant for.

Her mother.

Her mother did not know what to say.  She was overwhelmed, as we all were, by the deep love that went into this exchange.

Later I spoke with the mother about what she did with her children when they were small, yearning so deeply to learn as a mother of two boys myself.  “I took my children out into nature,” she told me, “We looked for the Hidden People in the hollowed out trees and in the tall grass.  I wanted to turn their realities upside down, to teach them to see more than what was in front of them.”

What a gift.

She also told me that as a young mother with a family, she and all her extended family were traditionally Christian.  Looking for the Hidden People was not part of that agenda, but she knew to do it anyway.  “I can’t talk to any of them about this,” she told me, her voice tinged with a bit of longing.  “You can talk to her,” I said smiling and gesturing to her daughter.

Again, what a gift.

So I take from this the deep commitment that I will live my life with love.  That I will attempt to the best of my ability, to show my children how to live authentically, with courage instead of fear, with love instead of anger.  Much of this means being willing to honor that which brings me joy, creativity and connection, outside of my role as mother.  To be willing to hold the wounds within myself and my ancestral line with compassion, instead of rage.  I want my children to learn that through the exploration of self, of knowing what moves them and gives them meaning, that much of life magically falls into alignment.

This I hope, they will cherish.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Love Letter Remembered

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

Dearest Beloved,

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

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

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

February 2015 Flower Bowl /There Is A Burning Need

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(Hyacinth, valerian, nasturtium viola, nemesia, osteospermum, hellebore, jasmine, spanish lavender, geranium, pansy, rosemary)

There is a burning need

to get recognized,

seen in a way

that bares my soul

down to its

naked, dripping

essence.

There is a burning need

to merge soul to soul,

to exchange what

ignites my light

and fills me with love.

This is what it’s like

when I write,

share my story,

and in return

connect with you.

The exchange

is so ecstatic,

I hope to never

give it up.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Ode To Oliver and Company

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

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

In this picture you are my pal.

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

Your pal, Oliver.”

Woof!

Oliver, where did you go?

I miss your shaggy presence,

the way you chased

cars down the street,

growled at the wall

while you ate,

licked my face

with long strands of goo,

and loved me

so unconditionally.

Oliver, where did you go?

Oh yes, I remember:

You were dog #2

in a long line of dogs

that were given away,

6 to be exact,

not including the one

we got and returned

the very same day.

Dogs that ran with me in the woods,

and let me lay on them watching TV.

Dogs I grew to love intensely,

each and every one

as if they were mine forever.

Until one day they were taken away,

leaving nothing but a hole in my heart

with a note stuck inside,

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

And the story goes

that when it came to dogs #5 & 6,

I gave them away,

told them to go,

never quite learning

that something soft and fuzzy

and feeling so, so good,

can indeed be

more than just a memory.

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

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

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Forever breathing deep,

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

Freedom

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It has been there for decades.

This feeling of raw and weeping,

buried so deep

beneath a scab

so old,

I have no memory

of its original pain.

l know the younger me

needed that scab to survive,

hadn’t wanted to touch

it’s rawness inside,

and I honor Her for that.

But the me today

is ready to heal,

and it’s okay

that I’m raw and weeping.

I’m ready to surrender

to the Great Mother’s Arms,

let Her wash me,

melt my pain.

It’s going to hurt like hell,

taking this giant scab off,

all that newborn skin

exposed to the world.

But I’m weary

and it’s so heavy,

this ancient,

dead weight scab!

I want to heal,

grow my skin back,

feel the delicious air

as it blows across nerves

that have been numb

and sedated

for years.

I am ready

to finally

feel.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

I Wish

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I wrote this poem more than a year ago.  Parts of this poem are no longer true for me.  Parts still are.  Felt good to work on it again and re-publish 🙂

 

I wish I didn’t feel like shit.

I wish that talking to my spouse

was an exchange of something good,

instead of The Battle Of Personal Issues

brought on by children

and stressful jobs

and buying houses.

 

I wish I could detach myself

from the constant barrage

of foul language

and horrible insults,

thrown around

by my very own children,

as if they were blowing bubbles

that pop quickly,

one after the other.

 

I wish addiction didn’t exist,

that the line you cross

was wide,

like the Grand Canyon,

instead of thin

and frail

and unstable.

 

I wish I didn’t have to dive deep,

to go where No Mans Gone Before.

Hidden treasures they tell me,

if only I dive deep.

But the Demon of Irritability

lives there too,

and to be quite honest,

I can’t stand his guts.

 

I wish I felt more inspired

like I do when I think of Her,

Mother Earth,

and the Little Girl

who rides the Elephant

wearing a sparkly pink tutu.

I smile from my bones

every time I see her,

this darling girl,

who blew into my life

one day

during a soul retrieval.*

 

I wish I were a spider

spinning my own

web of support,

and instead of

eating my prey,

I would invite them

to stay,

offering friendship

and comfort

and nurturance.

 

I wish I had more courage,

more faith.

My back is weak,

but what about my mind,

my heart,

my soul?

“You can do it,” I tell myself,

“You can do it.”

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

*Soul Retrieval refers to forms of shamanic practice that aim to reintegrate various parts of the soul that might have become disconnected, trapped or lost through trauma. (paraphrased from bodyspiritawareness.com)

Healing With Birds

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

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

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

But then the birds came and filled me with joy.

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

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

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

Thanks to the birds 🙂

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

December 2014 Flower Bowl//Finding Shakti

Featured

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Finding Shakti

Shakti is vital

Shakti is sexual, sovereign and on fire

Shakti is She who declares, *“I Fuel/Consume”

Shakti is “Yes!” to Passion, Creation, and Ecstasis

Shakti consumes anything that is less than pure life force

She is Shakti

Shakti, I yearn for You.

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  In search of Shakti, I find myself in the arms of compassion, rubbing lavender essential oil deeply into my heart and throat chakras.  Spiritually lavender opens one to nurterance and care toward all life beings, the self-included.  I hold myself now in compassion for the way I have been short tempered and outright angry towards my husband and children; I hold myself in compassion for indulging in my addictions, despite that I am on vacation and having a damn good time; I hold myself in compassion, because in doing so, I let the light in further, release old stories and pains with more ease, free up that which has been holding parts of my soul in tight constriction.  And in doing so, I find Shakti.

photo 4 (5)Happy Solstice New Year!

Peace,

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

*From 13 Moon Mystery School

Union

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These are my feet

now I must walk,

These are my hands

now I must create,

These are my eyes

now I must see,

this is my heart

now I must feel,

these are my wings

now I must fly.

Walk

Create

Feel

See

Fly.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

This Is The Tree

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This is the tree that helps me touch down when I feel I cannot stand.

This is the tree that helps me reach out when I know I am not alone.

This is the tree whose leaves and bark have ignited creative fire.

This is the tree that helps me remember that I too, come from the Earth.

This is the tree that told me in embrace that in fact we are the same;

solid

capable of anything

full of love.

Yes, this is the tree.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

November 2014 Flower Bowl/Seeding

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

What I wish the most,

is to create enough space

within me,

for the fire and light

to grow.

May my wish come true:)

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

My Declaration

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Self-Love #1

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I.

You are only ever one step away from

joy,

gratitude,

love.

Take it.

II.

Like life,

love begins

and ends

with me.

III.

To love myself is to believe in myself.

In times of success,

of failure,

of starting over.

I BELIEVE IN ME.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Oct. 2014 Flower Bowl/Manifesting With The Moon

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

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

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

And here is where I am hitting a bump.

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By: Diana Ray

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

Thoughts on Healing

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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Hello Sisters

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

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

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

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

Much peace, April

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My Favorite Piece :)

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

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

I.

If we keep making the same mistakes

over and over,

never giving up,

never quitting,

despite the addiction

the complacency

the shadow;

if we know

despite our complacency,

our willingness to fumble

again and again,

that we are actually WHOLE

despite our lack of wholeness,

will we not eventually find the way?

photo 2 (8)Diana Ray/April Aronoff

photography by Diana Ray

Part of Me

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

August Flower Bowl/Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By:  Diana Ray

The Funnel

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

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

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

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray 

Sitting In The Fire

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Spiritual Express

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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

 

Love Letter

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

Dearest Beloved,

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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

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

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

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

Addiction Is Staying With Me For The Holidays

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Her name Is Addiction

and she’s staying with me

for the holidays.

“Dee,” we call her for short.

 

Dee slipped into

my life

right before Thanksgiving,

and now has moved into

every room of the house.

 

Dee doesn’t care

that I have kids,

or drive a car

or go to work.

She lives by her own impulses,

and makes demands

that must be met

any time

at any moment

of any day.

 

What would happen

If I said, “no” is not known,

as Dee is very persuasive,

often leaving me feeling sleepy,

and malleable just enough,

so that a boundary,

any boundary,

can be pushed with ease.

 

Dee knows her visit is mixed;

intense pleasure

alongside intense angst;

angst over my permissiveness,

my everything is okay-ness,

over admitting

that I enjoy Dee

and her presence,

no matter how much

she burn’s me out.

And that I let her

get away with more shit,

than any other being

I have in my life.

 

I hope I don’t see Dee again

for some time (undefined).

Her stay is not forever,

and even she will know

when that stay

has been out welcomed,

slipping away

in the same manner

as always;

slow, languid,

a heavy trail of essence,

fragrant in every room,

reminding me

that she has been here

or is coming

and that I better be ready.

 

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Foundations and Rituals in the aftermath of Connecticut

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

Running In Water

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

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

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On Addiction, Letting Go, and Making Space For Magic

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

Diana Ray

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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

Chakra Clearing

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

So here we go.

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

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

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I. Root Chakra, First Chakra

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

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

II. . Sacral Chakra, Second Chakra

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

III. Solar Plexus Chakra, Third Chakra

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

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IV.  Heart Chakra, Fourth Chakra

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

V.   Throat Chakra, Fifth Chakra

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

VI. Third Eye/Brow Chakra, Sixth Chakra

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

VII. Crown Chakra, Seventh Chakra

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

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

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

Blessings,

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

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

Sacred Prayer I.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

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

Sacred Prayer I.

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

One Year Later…

One Year Later….

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

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

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

Diana Ray

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/

Ode to Oliver (& Company)

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

 

Ode to Oliver (& Company)

In this picture you are my pal. It says, “Diana, I live you and miss you! Your pal, Oliver.” Woof! Oliver, where did you go? I miss your shaggy presence, the way you chased cars down the street, growled at the wall while you ate, licked my face leaving strands of goo across my cheek, and loved me so unconditionally. Oliver, where did you go? Oh yes, now I remember; you were dog #2 in a long line of dogs that were given away, 6 to be exact, not including the one we got and returned to the pound the very same day. Dogs that ran with me in the woods, let me lay on them while watching TV, dogs I grew to love intensely-each and every one as if they were mine forever. Until one day they were taken away, leaving nothing behind but a hole in my heart with a note stuck inside, “Tough luck kid, dogs just don’t last forever!” And the story goes that when it came to dogs #5 & 6, I gave them away, told them to go, never quite learning that something soft and fuzzy and feeling so, so good, can indeed be more than just a memory.

I am proud to say that I did finally get it! I have 2 amazing dogs, Linus and Snoopy! It was a conscious decision to get a dog, as a way of helping center our family around something positive and loving! And it worked! Linus arrived in June of 2012, Snoopy in May of 2013, and our family just glows in their presence. I now understand that giving away those poor dogs was a mirror for how dysfunctional my childhood family was.

Diana Ray

I Love Being Diana

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

I Love Being Diana

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

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

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

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

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

Can I handle anything?

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Calling Mother Earth

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I want to practice,
to continue,
to learn to keep boundaries,
to be able to let go,
to meditate and open,
to explore the edges
that are sharp,
that have signs,
“Go away, not welcome.”
Fear,
in the pit of my chest.
There is a piece of me
that is unconnected,
that battles.
Here is where
I call in Mother Earth.

Diana Ray
6/17/13

The Garden That Grew From Within Part III

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

Yet my heart has begun to break.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Diana Ray

Cleaning

5/22/13: This is the first poem I have written since 2011. Funny, I had just told myself that it would be awhile before I would write poetry again. I had to “really be in that space,” and somehow that space felt far away. Yet voila! I love writing poetry. It was so au natural, I hope more are on their way!

Cleaning
By Diana Ray

My brain feels like tangled vines
in desperate need of a good prune.
“What’s going on up there?”
I yell through cupped hands.
“Come find out,” a voice looms,
a small hint of taunting just audible
around the edges.
So I go.
I grab my best pruners,
biggest compost bag,
some good for the Earth plant food,
and just go.
What I will find
I won’t know till I’m there,
and see for myself
how much I untangle
how much I cut away
how much I say, “My good-ness,
who knew you were even in there?”

It’s going to be difficult,
clearing that overgrown space
I call my brain,
but it’s time.
I need to hear my thoughts
know what I stand for,
and try to face what is presently so scary,
I can feel the edges of my resistance
every time I breathe.
“I’m coming,” I yell
as I begin to run fast.
I am scared shitless.