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

Elixer for Grief, Elixer for Love

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This morning was rough.  After spending time yesterday with a very ill friend, I found myself last eve surrounded by grief.  This grief wove its way around my heart and into my sleep, where I slept fitfully and without rest.  I awoke feeling stressed and teary.

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I took a walk in the woods and let nature do its magic.  The heaviness of the trees, rocks and plants held me in a cocoon of love and connection with spirit, its moist presence reminding me of the Starfish who appeared in a recent shamanic journey.  The Starfish is an emblem of moving through life with a heightened sense of touch, as they do not see or hear, but merely feel their way through the world.  This is my medicine, my gift for both myself and others.  Through feeling, whether it be pain or joy, healing and transformation can alchemize.

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As I took my walk I thought about the ways I am expanding and changing my beloved garden.  I have planted many Roses, with the intention of making my own Rose Essential Oil.  More plantings of Roses are to come.  As I walked, full of grief for my friend and joy for my own ways of stepping into my role as Priestess and Shaman, I realized that Roses are not enough.  I must do more, cultivate more, for the purposes of healing and bringing joy.  Both Jasmine (I have 4) and Lavender (I have 3) will join be joining Rose, in the future of my garden as a generator of sight, smell, healing and touch.

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I am excited to share my journey with you as a Scent Priestess who both grows and creates her own oil to use on the Beloveds that cross my path.  I become charged and impassioned just thinking about it!  What began as a walk with grief ended with fervor for the flowers and oils that will be entrusted to my care.  I am truly a witness to my own evolution. 

Blessings 🙂

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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

Blessings of Compassion

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Mother (Earth)-

Show me your grace,

ease,

like thick liquid

pouring through every

space and crevice

of my anatomy,

scouring away

resentment,

anger,

fixity,

polishing what is light

and bright

and love

within me,

like a river whose flow

is so cold, and clean,

one drop anoints thee,

so what starts as desire

is embodied, embedded,

within this body,

as deep and familiar

as cells dividing,

memories unfolding,

dreams remembered,

of a life as She.

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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

 

 

A Story To Tell Part 2

Running In Water

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

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2/15/2013     LastSunday I attended the most yummy yoga workshop; a combination of yoga and guided meditation, with the intention of helping us meet our power animals.  Power animals cross many traditions and cultures.  They can be anything from the animal or insect world, a creature that makes itself known to a person, typically for the reason to guide.  Their message it always the same:  “I have a gift for you, a message, a way of thinking and feeling about the world that you must see! ” It’s been three years since I’ve come to know the hummingbird and the whale.  The hummingbird reminds me to find beauty and joy in a life that has always been full of pain.  The whale is the recorder of time, stories, and one’s lineage.  A few years back I collected…

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A Day At The Beach

 

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

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Today felt okay.

Sitting at the beach reading a book,

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

on this balmy, warm January day,

the anti-thesis of winter,

while my curly haired 4-year old

built sand castles and nests in the rocks.

He would build them up

then smash them down,

the same utter joy

replayed over and over again,

creation-destruction,

it just doesn’t matter

to the mind of a 4-year-old,

and I actually felt okay.

 

The water was still and glassy,

the sand covered in soft, spongy sea-weed,

the product of having been baked for days

in this unusual January sun,

and I read my book

and gazed out at the bay,

and took in the scenes

of other family life

out enjoying this incredible day,

and acknowledged that today was okay.

 

I don’t know what tomorrow brings,

or even what will happen later,

when my husband and difficult 6-year-old

return from their trip,

cranky and tired from their long drive

along these dusty California roads.

The sun will have set by then

and the day almost over,

but for now, I am okay.

 

Just a little bit of joy

having seeped into my center,

after weeks and weeks

of feeling nothing but gloom.

Maybe it will be gone tomorrow

maybe I’ll have to begin again,

a life of one day at a time,

a kind of mentality

designed to help me survive.

 

But maybe it will still be there

and the day after that.

Having taken root in my body,

slowly occupying more space

than anything else,

so that what’s missing in my life

doesn’t throw me into gloom and sadness,

but can instead be just like

my son’s sandcastles,

something I create and destroy

as I see fit.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

 Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

 

 

The Goddess Lives Within You/Finding Shakti

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Thanks to all who inquired about Shakti, as it moved me to spend several hours reading, feeling, and writing.  Here is what I have learned about Shatki: 

(Most of this list has been obtained from the 13 Moon Oracle, by Ariel Spilsbury)

Other Goddess Names: Pele, Magdalene, Lilith, Ariadne, Creten Snake Priestesses, Priestesses of Dionysus, Bachi, Dakinis, Medusa, Kali (destruction/creation form), Devi, Durga,

Words associated with Shakti:  passionate, powerful, free, raw, potent, untamed, wild, vital, radiant.  I Fuel/I Consume.

Frequency Color:  orange

Element:  Fire

Sacred Tools:  Lighting, drum, rattle.  To ignite, reveal, burn away, catalyze, awaken.

Animal Totems:  Snake, wolf, big cats, jaguar

Scents:  musk, ylang-ylang

Crystals:  fire opal, carnelian, orange citrine

Phase of the Moon:  16th day, after dark of the moon

Sacred Geometry:  Five descending triangles within a circle

Question:  What calls to be purified, that the body can be truly honored and glorified as a temple?

Meditation/Mantra: (Hindu Chant) Kundalini Mata Shakti, Namo, Nam;  (Divine Ecstasy, to evoke the frequency for the color orange):  Exstasis  Divinitus, Shakti, Shakti, Shakti

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(Much of this is paraphrased, from the various sources listed below)

Shakti is the Great Divine Mother in Hinduism.  She is Divine Feminine Creative Power/The Source of all Universal Energy

Shakti is power, force, feminine energy.  She represents the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, in every living thing.

Shakti is about reclaiming and rekindling aliveness, passion, creativity, an instinctual nature

Shakti energy is free, full of expression.

Shakti asks you, “What brings out your fierceness to create?  What do you need to open so you can access the body wisdom that is known as You?”

Shakti invites you to look at your motivations.  You are free to be authentically alive.  To absolutely refuse to see yourself as defective, inadequate, worthy of feeling blame, shame. Give up any self-deprecation. You are a perfect vessel for Her Divine Fire.

Shakti is the Tantric title for the Great Goddess.

Worship of Shakti is a part of Tantra/Sexual Awakening.

Shakti is an invitation to access Her passionate desire for your wholeness, by entertaining ecstasy in the body.

Shakti is loving the body, it sensations, rhythms, ecstatic currents and tides.  All acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.

Shakti asks, “What unique creative tool brings you into the frequency of ecstasy?  Find out and enjoy.”

Shakti consumes that which stands in the way of direct contact with your authentic Essence.

Shakti is fire, the Sacred Initiatirix, the Kundalini force.  She is heat, sensuously rising and filling you now.   Filling every cell of your being with light, colors and sounds.  Purifing the toxins of any shame or self-hatred.  Lovingly consuming anything that is less than love, which you now know, is the only true reality.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/s/shakti.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakti

http://www.sanatansociety.org/hindu_gods_and_goddesses/shakti.htm#.VJxmNsA0

http://www.13moonmysteryschool.org

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.

More Thoughts on Healing

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

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

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Thoughts on Healing

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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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

Faith

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I

If we know

we are choosing

less than whole

for ourselves,

are we still fallow?

Will we germinate eventually

despite the sludge,

the patterns

that slow growth

to a notch just

before stillness?

II

If we are aware

of the shadow,

know its seductive dance,

are willing to sit side by side

in acceptance (and submission),

does that make the choice

of less than wholeness ok?

III

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?

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Me and My Shadow

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

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

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

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

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

September Flower Bowl

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

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Part of Me

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Dream Awake

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This is the picture of my dream-awake catcher.  Initially it was my house catcher, as I had used it to catch a new house we bought a little over a year ago.  Now I am using it to catch new work and/or bring creative ideas into fruition.  I have re-named it my dream-awake catcher, and plan to use it as often as I need throughout my life.

I made the dream-awake catcher from branches from a large shrub I took out of the front yard of our old house.  This was a few years ago.  As I was cutting the branches off the shrub I felt and heard a strong message that I must keep the branches.  So I did.  Some of the branches went to make this Gods-Eye that represents my ability to have second sight.  Later, the branches made the house catcher.  Now they are to catch new livelihood.

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I wrote down my desires for change, as specific as I could be.  Then I buried this paper in the Earth beneath the catcher, which lives in my meditation garden.

I gave the ritual to the Dreamer-Weaver Goddess, also known as Grandmother Spider in Native American culture.  What I wish to weave is the story of my own contentment and happiness, through creating new livelihood.  I also wish to weave my writing further into the world (more to come on that one).

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I find the Earth so incredibly powerful, its sheer benevolent energy so wanting to help someone who wishes to connect.  No matter how much I vacillate between tapping in more fully and running away, I am always present with this energy, always plugged in.  Even in the hour of greatest challenge it is continuing to shape and mold my outcome towards what is brightest.  This is what keeps me grounded in knowing that even if I fall, someone will be there to catch me.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

Desires and Hopes

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One of the biggest challenges I face presently is balancing the needs of each of my children, alongside my husband, my job, my blog and my sanity.  I feel a bit fearful when I think about it, as I feel depleted by my job, leaving little energy left over.  But I am highly committed to both my boys and need to give them all I got.  My older ADHD+NVLD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder+Non-Verbal Learning disorder) son needs me as both advocate and guide, as he navigates what are sometimes challenging social situations (this has improved incredibly).  He needs me to be patient and compassionate as he struggles to control his body and language (again, so much improvement).  My younger son also needs me as advocate and guide, as he is a child who learns differently at school.  He needs me to be patient and compassionate as he manages having intense anger at the age of 8 years.

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There are a lot of appointments going around.  But this is how it is.

I want to stay grounded and give to myself as much as I can.  I’m going to take more days to myself this year.  I’m going to do things like go to Hot Springs Places or go for a hike with my husband while we both play hookie.  I’m going to take the time to sit in stillness, to let the Goddess/Spirit flow through my veins.  I’m also letting my addictions rage a bit, recognizing that they’re a bit helpful right now, and I don’t have the energy to make a change anyway.  I’m going to make this next year of job creation active and alive.  This might involve some ass kicking, as I can let myself take forever to get crap done!  I promise to myself to keep at least one foot moving swiftly.

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I have just started seeing a therapist and it feels really good.  How all the myriad of weekly mom/kid appointments will affect me will soon be known.  Next week my older son starts school and my younger son begins play therapy, an official start to the fast pace that will be my life for the next several months.  Wish me well.

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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

Love Letter

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

Dearest Beloved,

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Crossing The Threshold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

New Moon in Cancer Flower Bowl Embracing Self-Love

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

The Magic of the Medicine Bag

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

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

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

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

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

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Blessings on your own journey to peace of heart!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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

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

March Flower Bowl/The Muse

 

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

Mother (Earth)-

Show me your grace,

ease,

like thick liquid

pouring through every

space and crevice

of my anatomy,

scouring away

resentment,

anger,

fixity,

polishing what is light

and bright

and love

within me,

like a river whose flow

is so cold, and clean,

one drop anoints thee,

so what starts as desire

is embodied, embedded,

within this body,

as deep and familiar

as cells dividing,

memories unfolding,

dreams remembered,

of a life as She.

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Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

February 2014 Flower Bowl

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 February 2014 Flower Bowl

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

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

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Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

January 2014 Flower Bowl and Happy New Year Wish

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January 2014 Flower Bowl

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

Wishing to slide down the rainbow into a Pot of Gold

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

Wishing for sight, and smell to overwhelm my senses

for Love to gush from my heart

like a fruit so ripe it bursts into sweetness

the moment it touches my tongue.

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Happy New Year!

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Inner Knowing and Devotion

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December 2013 Flower Bowl

Happy Solstice/New Year!

May You Be Healthy and Well!

Inner Knowing and Devotion.

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

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

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

Have a Wonderful New Year!

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

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

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Throughout my life

I’d look to see myself

in the mirror on the wall,

in the water out in nature,

in the window that I’d pass

as I’d walk down the street.

 

But never did I see myself

till I looked at my reflection in you,

and saw for the first time,

-my face as you touched it,

-my hands as you held them,

-my lips as you kissed me,

who I am inside this body,

whole,

passionate,

full of creativity,

and felt your hug

as familiar

as touching

my own skin.

 

Diana Ray

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

Sacred Prayer I.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

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

Sacred Prayer I.

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

One Year Later…

One Year Later….

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

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

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

Diana Ray

One Year Celebration To Me (and pep talk)!

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

Diana Ray

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

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

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

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