August 2015 Flower Bowl/Let Your Humanity Sing


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.


April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

Elixer for Grief, Elixer for Love


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.


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.


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.


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 🙂


April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff  

July 2015 Flower Bowl/Finding My Compass


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

Invocation/Ready To Fly


I stand at the edge, owning my potential, knowing that my further surrender will bring me closer to union, to divine blessing.


To surrender into eternal possibility, spiritual raptor and an endless grid of light.  I give my myself over to the Great Oneness that I call Mother, Ancestor, Guide and Teacher.


May you bring me connection to Earth, Sky and the Cosmic Heavens.  I cry out for meldling embrace, interconnection, and complete rebirth again and again.


May I transmute, transmute, and transmute some more, forever spinning, forever a spiral, a floral opening of endless bloom.


May I melt in your embrace, your light, your total knowing that I am love, flowing water, a sunrise of divine inspiration shone each day.


May I finally fly.

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

May 2015 Flower Bowl/Bringing On Beltane


Fertility-Sexuality- Creativity- Healing- Life

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


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

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Happy Beltane!

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

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

Blessings of Compassion

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Mother (Earth)-

Show me your grace,


like thick liquid

pouring through every

space and crevice

of my anatomy,

scouring away




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.


April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray


February 2015 Flower Bowl /There Is A Burning Need


(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


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.



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.”


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.


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.


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.


Forever breathing deep,

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray



A Day At The Beach


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


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,


it just doesn’t matter

to the mind of a 4-year-old,

and I actually felt okay.


The water was still and glassy,

the sand covered in soft, spongy sea-weed,

the product of having been baked for days

in this unusual January sun,

and I read my book

and gazed out at the bay,

and took in the scenes

of other family life

out enjoying this incredible day,

and acknowledged that today was okay.


I don’t know what tomorrow brings,

or even what will happen later,

when my husband and difficult 6-year-old

return from their trip,

cranky and tired from their long drive

along these dusty California roads.

The sun will have set by then

and the day almost over,

but for now, I am okay.


Just a little bit of joy

having seeped into my center,

after weeks and weeks

of feeling nothing but gloom.

Maybe it will be gone tomorrow

maybe I’ll have to begin again,

a life of one day at a time,

a kind of mentality

designed to help me survive.


But maybe it will still be there

and the day after that.

Having taken root in my body,

slowly occupying more space

than anything else,

so that what’s missing in my life

doesn’t throw me into gloom and sadness,

but can instead be just like

my son’s sandcastles,

something I create and destroy

as I see fit.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

 Photography by Diana Ray





Healing With Birds


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.



Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Full Moon, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we all be blessed to have such community 🙂

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray





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


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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.






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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;


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

Self-Love #1

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You are only ever one step away from




Take it.


Like life,

love begins

and ends

with me.


To love myself is to believe in myself.

In times of success,

of failure,

of starting over.


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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 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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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?


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?


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

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

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

A Few Quick Words on the Goddess and Gratitude

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

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

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

Have have a blessed day/eve!

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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


photo (78)
Mother Earth,

help me to remember

your ways of old,

the tides of the seasons,

the animals,

this body,

signatures that when joined

create a melody so sonorous

I howl with joy.

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Mother Earth,

help me to remember

the forgotten laws,

the marriage of Sun, Moon and Earth,

time that moves

when I close my eyes,

go in, drop down,

a pulsing so deep

I wish to crawl inside.

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Mother Earth,

help me to remember

when I knew

Your Will innate,

knelt in homage,

kissed your feet,

felt your blessing seal that caress,

spiral this life

a never-ending mixing


without beginning

without end

an emblem of oneness

again and again.

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Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

March Flower Bowl/The Muse


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

Mother (Earth)-

Show me your grace,


like thick liquid

pouring through every

space and crevice

of my anatomy,

scouring away




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

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,



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.
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)!
The more
I can be
about life,
the more
I will
become unplugged.
As the plug opens,
energy flows;
Who knew
getting unplugged
could be
so easy?

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

The Healer is Healed


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

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.”
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

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 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  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


Here is another poem I wrote during that period where I was battling depression while off medication.  I was writing a lot of poetry at the time, which was a tremendous outlet for me.  I had written some poetry briefly in college, which touched something deep in me.  I have written few poems since then, except for a few bouts here and there, like this batch of poems I’ll likely post.  Feel free to give feedback.  For all I know, I suck.


By Diana Ray

 Where do I find my courage,

my confidence,

to face the unknown?

What is the unknown really?

Scary for some;

a quiet walk to the store

to buy some milk and eggs,

when suddenly the unknown

snatches you and runs.

The typical life you lived

suddenly gone,

as the unknown holds a gun to your head

and makes you walk down a path

you know is not safe.

Then there is the stalker unknown,

the kind you know is there but never see.

It’s presence dropping

threatening hints of proximity,

making you glance over your shoulder all day

or wake up at night drenched in sweat.

Until eventually you call the police

and get a restraining order,

but even that doesn’t help,

as the unknown finds you anyway,

demanding everything you love.

And you grieve for the loss,

because no matter what you did,

you couldn’t keep the unknown away.

But for others the unknown

is a great adventure,

and the unknown is welcome

with open arms.

Life suddenly turns

as the unknown beckons,

its whispers a call it’s time to explore.

Valleys here, caves there,

a meandering of trails

leading any which way.

Trails with names like,

“You’ll Know When You Get There,”


“If I told You, It Would Spoil The Fun,”

with final destinations left any which way.

But it’s on these trails

that miracles occur.

The sighting of a bluebird

as it gathers twigs for its nest,

the witness of a mama bear and her cubs,

as they catch fish in the river.

And the sun is setting

and the sky is drizzled with pink,

and the river is bouncing

and buzzing with all kinds of life,

and it’s all so glorious

you can’t help but catch your breath.

And you have only the unknown to thank

for taking you out of your comfort zone

and shaking things up.

That’s the beauty of the unknown;

what can seem like utter grief

can turn into the most unexpected joy.

Not always easy,

not always fun,

but in the end

if perseverance and not fear

is the trip that you take,

if determination

becomes that beautiful piece

you hang on your wall for all to admire,

then the unknown becomes known.

Different than before,

but with just as much meaning.

Because you had faith

because it was part your creation,

because you let it be known.

Diana Ray (written sometime in 2011)

In The Muck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place

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

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

and still be calm in your heart.

That is the true meaning of peace.


Diana Ray

Pondering Simplicity

A few weeks ago, I was reading email as I waited in the waiting room, while my son Louis saw his therapist.  Typically Louis goes in without me, but it had been a pretty upsetting car ride over, and if I hadn’t gone in, it wouldn’t have happened.  Louis had a meltdown over paying for parking near the Taqueria we always got dinner at on therapy days.  Louis’ anxiety around this issue had been worsening over the course of several months; he was deathly afraid I would get a ticket, and nothing I could say or do would relive him of this fear.  So I forwent the weekly walk I typically did at this time, and spent the next 40 minutes hashing it out with Louis.  As disappointed as I was not to exercise, it was actually a breakthrough session.  Louis had been unwilling to talk directly about most of his serious issues, especially the OCD/Sensory ones, which he claimed were too embarrassing.  For example:  loosing it when his family was eating, or; protesting restaurants that required paying for parking.  But his therapist threw him a curve-ball and left him little choice.  Louis was refusing to let me leave, which was fine as per his therapist, as long he was willing to talk about “parking.”  If he didn’t want to, fine, but I would have to leave.  So……. Louis chose me over his anxieties, and we talked about “parking.”  It was miraculous!  The last 15 minutes I slipped away and sat in the waiting room, reading my email.

I was at quite a low.  As I surfed my mail, I saw that one of my recent blog subscriptions had a new post.  It was from Alana Shereen, a woman who wrote about grieving and pain and self-evolution.  I found her writing inspiring, so I signed on.  This weeks post was about a tele-retreat she was having.  There was 1 spot she was giving away, and if you wanted a chance to win it, you need only sign up for a free shift session.  A free shift session?  I was intrigued, so I clicked on the bolded words, and it took me to an instant description of a shift session; a 15 minute phone call, where one can share any of life’s pains or difficulties, and then not only be held emotionally, but be given a definitive “next step ”  in life.  Now I was more than intrigued, I was in wonder.  Getting to tell someone that I am struggling deeply?  A definitive next step in just 15 minutes?  What a gift!  Before I could really think, I signed up for a “session” the next afternoon, shortly before I got the kids.  I felt a light excitement.  A person I had only read but never met, would call me to talk about me, with promises of a light at the end of the tunnel.  I was at a low.  I needed some light.

The next day at work I left myself a sticky note on my desk, so I wouldn’t forget:  Alana Shereen- 4:30.  The light excitement stayed with me for much of the day.

When I got home, I decided to write, and my most recent post, “Diary of a Serious Dip” was born (I told you I was at a low!).  As I put the finishing touches on the post, my phone rang, and startled me.  I had been in deep writing mode, and was feeling proud that I had completed another essay.  It was Alana Sheeren.  I put my computer down and we spoke.

It was strange-me talking to someone I barely knew personally, yet knew intimately through writing.  I told Alana how I came to sign up for the session, and that I was looking for anything she could give me, even if it was just empathy.  She asked me questions, and I answered.  Then I started talking more, and a dam broke inside.  Tears streamed down my face as I told her about my difficult ADHD+NVLD child (to learn more about NVLD, go to ), my sweet-angry-sick of his older brother-learning disabled younger child, all the therapy my husband and I deal with alone (6 a week last year!), my full time job, my woman’s group (did I mention I do this every other week or so?), my deep, deep, desire to become a writer.  In the midst of talking, it suddenly struck me:  I am tired.  I never knew I was sooo tired.  And then Alana said the magic words, words that have helped so much in the past 14 days:

You need to simplify your life.

You need to go somewhere quiet and alone, and let the answers come.

 Simplicity.  Something so simple as simplicity, had never occurred to me.  I knew instantly at least part of what this meant, and I told Alana.  Then we talked some more, and then it was over.

I thanked Alana honestly, and profusely.  Alana did everything she said she would; she listened, she held me, she helped me find my way back through the dark.  All in one, short, phone call.  That is one amazing woman!  And the tele-retreat, which I did not win, sounded incredible when I finally looked into it.  I had been so wrapped up in the shift session, I never even knew what I signed up for.  Like a shift session times 10, it sounded like, and I had to admit I was bummed it wasn’t me who won (to learn more about Alana, go to:

Simplicity.  This sounded achievable, I could do this.  For now, quiet and alone meant time spent at home, as I rarely went away sans kids for extended periods.

 Here is what I have realized since speaking with Alana 14 days ago:

Simplicity means letting go of some of the attachments I have for my children (back to Buddhism!):  for Louis, that he get his social therapy somehow, someway, even though we have not an extra dime; and for Aiden, that he see a play therapist, someone who can help with the anger and pain he feels toward his older brother.  These are things I have felt strongly must happen, no matter what for the betterment of their lives.

But it’s been exhausting me.

There is no money for more private therapy for Louis; I could let this go.  Or, we could swap the new therapy for Louis’ current therapy, which we already pay out of pocket.  You can’t have everything.

I could let my husband Paul do all the leg work to find a therapist for Aiden.   I know it sounds crazy, but I am ok with driving Aiden to and from therapy.   I just don’t want to make any of the phone-calls or visits required to make it happen.  I did this extensively with Louis.

I could let these things go, I really could.  I could learn how to love my life the way it is, all the sludge and all the sweet, in this moment.

So I began to let the answers come.

Here’s what I know:  One of the difficulties I have with mindful living, is that desiring to make a living as a writer pulls me into the future.  I have found (rather recently), that you can think about the future, while still aspiring to accept the present.  The trick is to let go of any negativity felt towards any aspect of present life, for it’s this negativity that keeps one from feeling Zen.  For me, it’s my job and my kids.  All I want to do is write, write, write, and I can’t, as we are a 2-income family.  But, I am lucky that I have had the same job for 12 years, and that I get 13 weeks of vacation a year.  It’s during these times that I write the most.  And my kids are my kids, I love them to death.  No matter how much mental anguish or physical/bodily damage they cause me (I am serious, by the way).  I am fortunate enough to know, through my day job, that there are children in the world worse off and more afflicted then mine.  I will do my damndest to celebrate Louis and Aiden’s strengths, and hopefully, the rest will fall into place.

Besides, it’s not like I can give them away, although my husband and I have had our fair share of Craig’s List Moments (aka: CLM’s) of threatening to post…. “Rotten Children For Sale:  $50 or Best Offer.”   Making peace with my kids and my job are a big deal for me.  I feel moments of it, and it feels good, although I am nowhere near whole.  But I know someday I will get there; I am determined.

So simplicity, here I come.  I call your name, as I hear the hummingbird singing in my yard.  Simplicity, simplicity, simplicitysimplicitysimplicity…..a beautiful name you are.

Diana Ray


Diary Of A Serious Dip

Mon. 8/31/12

I am at a low, feeling over-burdened, sad, at a loss.  If this is my gift; to raise 2-special needs boys (I’ve barely mentioned my younger child , shame on me!), to work full time for much of the year, and to stay happily married on top of it all, then I want a temporary re-call of this tall order.  Not for forever, doesn’t even have to be long, but a small tiny respite that can give me a chance to stop moving, and breathe.  I am prone to anxiety, anger and depression.  I take medication, meditate regularly, spend time with friends, exercise, eat healthy, and imbibe in the (more than) occasional vice.  I do a lot for myself, yet I still feel depleted….

I really need a break from being in charge of so many important things……

 Weds 9/5/2012

I am stretched thin like a rubber-band, and filled taut like a giant water balloon.  Today at work, I found out I had to take on 3 more things that I wasn’t expecting.  My balloon grew so suddenly, I had to sit down to make room.  Luckily, I have not exploded yet!

But I see myself teetering, and feel myself wondering how my brain can hold so many important details, how my heart can hold so much worry and pain, before it weakens from all that weight.  Everything seems so gigantic and impossible to accomplish, explosion truly seems imminent.  But just because life becomes heavy, and larger than I feel I can hold, it does not mean I don’t have the strength or courage to try.  For me this means shifting my thinking away from the details, away from the heaviness of life, to something light……..

Beauty and joy, beauty and joy, beauty and joy………………..This is what the hummingbird sings.  This is what I must try to find amidst the heaviness, amidst the fullness I feel in my brain.  Beauty and joy, beauty and joy, beauty and joy………Oddly, as I was in my yard thinking of the ways I might connect with these gifts, I thought of my 5 year old son Aiden, who was busy tying toys to our lemon tree.  Aiden can be so delightfully fun, he popped in my mind instantly.  But it is both my children, him included, that currently weigh me down.

Beauty and joy, beauty and joy, beauty and joy…………………. in and out, like each breath I take, in and out, until it becomes so automatic, beauty and joy find me……


For Louis, my son, who is currently struggling with friendships; Or anyone out there who relates:

Connection is what is important.  In friendship we come, we go, we come again, and we go again.  Attraction is more powerful than opposition, and friendship a stronger bond than anger.  May each end of the spectrum, quiet forgiveness on one side, silent humility on the other, learn from one another and grow.  Each of these separate (forgiveness and humility), breed compassion.  Together they make connection.

I understand, dear boy, how hard it is.

Diana Ray

The Houseguest

photo 2 (9)

When I returned from Cape Cod, where my family and I got to spend some wonderful (and chaotic,crazy and loud) time with our various family members, I became angry.  This was the kind of anger where one minute your fine while the next involves flashing lights, demonic screams, and appalling acts that leave you both 3 inches tall and full of unspeakable guilt.  This is the kind of anger I experienced and was markedly disturbed by.  It was 2 years ago that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, where my life became so bleak it felt like a giant rain cloud was living in my head.  I heard those demonic screams emerge from me on a daily basis.  I committed appalling acts frequently.  I would tell my husband, my primary champion, to get the hell out of my face.  I was a mess.  But through a combination of meditation/prayer, medication (yes I am a fan!) and returning to my beloved therapist, I got through it.  For most of this summer I have been calm and patient, taking in stride the frequent tangles that involve both my special needs boys.  Then I returned from the Cape and it all fell apart.

photo 3 (10)

I had a glorious summer.  I wrote in my backyard daily, my new puppy at my side, surrounded by beautiful flowers and endless hummingbirds.  I picked up my kids early from camp and spent time hanging out.  I finished my memoir and was fueled by the charge that comes from accomplishing such a feat. I was in love! I knew by the end of the summer that all I wanted to do was write, a realization I had known for some years, but completing my memoir amplified this so fiercely that it became a giant neon sign flashing,  “You must write!”   I also knew returning from the Cape that my regular work schedule was imminent.

So I was quite troubled to realize that the “houseguest” anger had returned, uninvited, and was leaving messes everywhere.  I sat down to write this post and got as far as the first two paragraphs before I put it down for several days.  And in that period something magical happened.

I stopped being angry.  It wasn’t that my anger just up and went, because we all know the most unwanted house guests never do that.  I was reading a book about Buddhist parenting that talked about the concept of “dukkha,” a state of suffering where one is anxious, stressed or dissatisfied.  Louis and Aiden were both wild and difficult and I was suffering horribly, something I see as an invitation for anger to come and high-jack your house.  But how does one stop suffering when their 8-year-old can’t control their body or words and is hurting others, either verbally or physically?  Much of what Louis does is not his fault  (read my previous blog entry, “My Story/My Son,” to read more about Louis).  But still I needed the endless fighting and noise to stop, and it didn’t.  And then the anger came and made it worse.  So I had “dukkha.”

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So I made a decision, inspired by what I was reading.  If I could just detach myself from this suffering for just a bit, stop trying so hard to make Louis something he’s not, which includes dropping the desire for him to have more self-control and empathy than he’s capable, than perhaps I could walk with less anger.  Attachment is a big concept in Buddhism, as many lessons involve letting go of the attachment of how we thought life would be.  So I let go of my attachment to how I thought Louis should be, and the anger went away.  Returning to a place of compassion, something I have worked quite hard to cultivate towards Louis, led to a more positive path of dealing with his behavior.  A route that anger never crossed.

If you can muster up any amount of compassion for those in your life who leave you consistently triggered, cultivating compassion will almost always lead to a smooth road.  There’s simply less charge and more understanding.  Life is still pretty challenging with these boys, and I continue to find myself frustrated, and sometimes even angry.  But the possessive anger that moved in and held me hostage in my own home is gone, at least for now.

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Diana Ray


Photography By Diana Ray

My Story/My Son

8/10/2012  Diana Ray

Last month, I finished a memoir that has taken me 4.5 years to write.  At times I didn’t think I would finish, and for long periods I put the project down.  But it is only so long a person can ignore a big elephant in the room, and back to the project I went.  In actuality, writing the memoir was a kind of life-cycle, one that had distinct developmental stages.  Getting started was like laying the egg, while telling my story became the larvae, one that grew with each page of words I wrote.  Taking long breaks were a form of hibernation, where transformation was occurring inside, while finishing the memoir was the final stage of metamorphosis, where the desire to set my wings free coated my body and soul from the inside out.   There is such a thing as ‘sympathetic magic,” an old way of thinking where people felt that eating the heart of a lion would make them brave.  I fully believe in magic, and wear an emblem of my fairy friend around my neck to prove it.  Writing my memoir, and thus re-living my childhood and life up to age 33, has been a kind of consumption, one that has nourished me beyond belief.  I also know, like the person who ate the heart of the lion, that telling my story has healed and opened up my life and made me brave in ways that are also beyond belief.   

Where to go from here has been more challenging.  Advice started coming from my therapist, who knew a bit about how to get published these days.  She suggested I start a blog, and use it as a platform for my writing.  I loathed the idea of writing a blog, and cringed every time she brought it up.  When I finally finished the book, I had other ideas of how to make myself known.  I told her I might try to intersect with a very famous author who lived not too far from me, introduce myself, and then ask if author X might like to read my book.  My therapist kindly but firmly told me that trying to approach a public figure like author X would likely not bode well, and I might want to see if that person had email, or was on face-book.  She also re-iterated the idea of starting a blog. 

That night I searched the Internet to see if author X took email.  After a long time of getting no-where, I stumbled upon a google heading that had “I emailed author X” in it, so I clicked on.  It was a blog by a woman named Erica Staab, where across the top of her headline was written, “Seeing beauty in all things…Living life as a prayer…Creating a meaningful life”  It turned out that Ms. Staab had met author X, at a local book signing.  She also had her own e-book she had written, “The In-Between.”  I began to read Ms. Staab’s writing, and could not stop.  Her words about healing and love and courage touched my soul.  Her site took me to another woman’s blog, and then another, all about the transformative power of grief, loss, love and courage.  That was it, I was fully sucked in.  If these woman could put themselves out there to the world, offering what they had so that others could heal, then so could I.  Once I decided to start the blog, the first entry became clear:  I would write about my children, who are a source of tremendous pain and joy, and also, the topic of my second memoir, which I have yet to write.

So here I am.  Another woman out in the world who wants to get a book published.  Or put another way; another woman out in the world who wants to make a difference, and is hoping that through my stories and experiences, some of us get healed.  I have found that putting myself out there, even when I am overloaded, and my critic is raging, and I am scared to death that I won’t be able to handle it all, comes back 10 fold.  It’s as easy as going from Ms. Staab to 9 other woman, who together through their words, cheer me on.  So thank-you Ms. Staab, for your blog, and for everyone on the path I read along the way.  You keep on writing, and I will keep on reading.

I have one more thing to mention about myself:  I am writing under a pseudonym.  I could never reveal my true identify as long as my parents are living, as I say hurtful, damming things about them throughout my memoir.  As an adult in my 40’s, I have made peace with my parents who are now in their 70’s, and do not wish to cause them more pain.  So for now, I am writing under the pseudonym, Diana Ray, one that I can take with me if/when I get published. 

So here is my first entry.  I would love feed-back.  My husband tells me that it is slow in a couple of places.  As my goal in life is to give up my day job and write for a living, any feed-back about my writing or stories would be much appreciated.  Thanks!

Diana Ray

This Is Louis

Last month my 7-year-old son Louis had a swim play date with his friend Kyle, from school.  I and Kyle’s parents planned to meet on a Sunday afternoon, at a pool Kyle’s mother reported was open until 6 pm, as listed on their web-site.  We arrived at 4:30, only to discover that the pool was closing at 5pm, and that the pool’s web-site was wrong.   After a fierce smart phone race between me and the other boy’s father, to see who could find an open pool first, we settled on a pool approximately 20 minutes away.  We got there in time to enjoy the last hour of a hot sun, highly chlorinated yet cool water, and semi-healthy snacks purchased at the swim center.  My son Louis and his friend Kyle, both newly independent swimmers, had short swim races to the ladder in the shallow end, did underwater tricks that bumped a few kids, and generally had a good time.  By the end of the play date, the two boys were laughing like old pals, and grumbling about having to leave.  We all said our good-by’s, then headed our separate ways for dinner.

This scene will be familiar to many of you.  You are nodding your head as you read along, and think, “Yeah, that sounds like my kid.”  This is the kid who adapts reasonably well to change, gets along mostly well with their peers, and often has a week-end birthday party scheduled.  This is the kid that falls in the middle to far right of the bell curve; that beautiful area delineating average to exceptional skills in the areas of behavior, emotional intelligence, self-regulation and social development.   If this is your kid, pat yourself on the back, you and your child are doing well.  But what if this is not your kid?  What if your kid fell below average, or even far to the left?  What if the bell curve was describing your child’s cognition (intelligence), ability to function at school, their health, their ability to grow up as self-sufficient contributing members of society?  What if your child fell to the left of the middle then?

I haven’t told you the whole pool story.  While everything noted above is true, here’s what I didn’t include:  My older son Louis, was having a bad day, which for us, his mother, father, and younger brother, meant having a very difficult day.  Louis was formally diagnosed with ADHD in November of 2011, with co-existing Non Verbal Learning Disorder added in January of 2012 (to learn more about Non-Verbal Learning Disorder go to also has anxiety, ranging anywhere from mild to profound, and has been noted to obsess on topics that are of interest, or generate deep emotion for him.   

That morning, Louis had taken his daily Ritalin, in addition to a new medication we were trying, to further help Louis get a hold of his impulses.  Poor impulse control has been rampant since Louis was young, and includes the impulse to use a wild, out of control body, with no knowledge of the size or strength of that body; the impulse to use rude, foul, or teasing language, and, when angry, the impulse to lash out at his family with such aggression, the other person is left bleeding, scratched or bruised.

The day began with an argument over swim class, which Louis did not want to attend.  As I prepared for yoga class, something I did every Saturday morning, I listened to Louis complain about why he did not want to swim.  Swim class was always mixed for Louis; if he had a calm, soft voiced female instructor, he was great, and would finish the class with much pride over his accomplishments.  If he had an instructor who was male, or pushy in any way, it sparked his anxiety, and he would refuse to go.  This past series had not gone well, as Louis had missed a few classes, and had a one-time sub who was pushy.  This happened to be the last swim class of the series, and also the first day of a hip-hop class I was taking Louis to in the afternoon.  Hip-hop, or dance, was something Louis had a deep interest in.  It was also something he felt incredibly anxious about.   My husband and I told Louis he did not have to swim that day, knowing that 2 classes in one day would likely be too much, although he did have to go and watch his brother swim, as I would not be home.  After much whining, fussing and relentless teasing of his younger brother, who generally responded to Louis’ behavior by screaming, hitting, or throwing something at him, Louis consented.  We all agreed to meet back at the house at noon, and went our separate ways. 

At noon, we re-convened quite hungry at home.  Both kids ate in different rooms while watching television, something my husband and I had been reluctantly doing, to keep peace in the house.  Despite this separation, scuffles ensued between the two boys that made it impossible for my husband or I to do anything more than shove food in our mouths.  On the way to hip-hop, I made plans to meet Louis’ friend Kyle and his parent’s at a local community pool, just few hours after class.  Louis was excited about meeting Kyle at the pool, and having dad and Aiden join. 

At hip-hop class, I noted that Louis was the only boy, out of 8 kids.  Some of these kids had taken this class before, and were romping comfortably around the room.  Others were more hesitant, and stayed close to their parent’s, similar to Louis.  Finally a firm, but clearly engaging and talented dance teacher, called the children to come sit in a circle.  The children were instructed to say their name and share their favorite food.  Most of the kids reported pizza, burgers and burritos.  Louis mentioned his love for salmon, something I knew was unusual for a 7-year-old, but the teacher responded that it was her favorite food as well.  Then it was time to learn some moves.  Louis stood in the back, with his “I’m growing it out” hair helmet in place, and moved awkwardly around the room to the teacher’s moves.  Louis seemed tired, out of it and disengaged.  He was one step behind every move, and stiff as a board in motion.  This was not the same boy who danced all over our living room to Kelly Clarkson and Victoria Justice from Nickelodeon!  Louis had been talking about going to a performing arts school for some months now, despite his lack of any developed performing art, and I was pretty sure teasing, foul language and unpleasant body noises would not count.  Louis seemed most interested in dance, something my husband and I had been trying to get him involved in for several months.  But despite the strong interest, over-riding Louis’ anxiety about starting something new, was no easy task.  We did eventually get him to try hip hop at a different studio, with promises of a Pelligrino Limonata upon completion of one class.  This worked well, and morphed into a weekly ritual of class, followed by Limonata.  While Louis had fun at a few classes, he had joined late and had to sit out for a portion of the class, while they prepared for a performance in a parade.  This unstructured time led to moments of teasing and berating the other dancers, something his young 20-year-old teacher could not handle.  We decided to take a break until the next session in September, when Louis could start at the beginning with everyone else.  The current studio we were at had no final performance, had a larger mix of kids from different backgrounds, and was taught by a kind, but no-nonsense teacher.  All in all a better fit.

Thanks to the hair helmet, I couldn’t see Louis’ eyes, but based on his body language, Louis seemed tired and uninterested.  One of the pitfalls of Louis’ new medication was that it lowered his energy level.  While Ritalin upped it, his new medication lowered his blood pressure, and in theory, lowered his energy level.  He seemed mighty low to me, so I spontaneously joined him on the dance floor.  It was fun doing the teacher’s dance moves, with Louis at my side!  I figured anything I learned, I could teach him at home.  I learned how to do a baby-freeze, a balancing pose where you lean on your arms while sticking your legs out to the side.  Having done yoga, I picked it up immediately, and proceeded to do it 5 times in a row.  Unfortunately, hip hop teachers are not yoga teachers, and I had no idea that I was playing accordion with my neck until the next day, when serious pain kept me in discomfort for close to a week.  Then the class was over and we headed home, with approximately 1.5 hrs of down time before the swim.

At home things were tense immediately.  Louis, whose mood went from irritable to irritable++, insisted that only he and I go to the pool, after having invited both his father and little brother earlier.  This happened frequently:  a change in plans based upon Louis foul mood, anxiety or rigidity, with little regard to how others are affected.  Fortunately, Aiden became involved with Lego’s, and didn’t seem to mind.  I was not thrilled about the change for 2 reasons:  change usually involved some other party being grossly unhappy, although both his dad and little brother seemed okay, and; I would have to continue to be on and attentive to all of Louis’ demands and anxieties, something that could have been shared with my husband.

While bummed, I plugged on.  Louis sat on the couch and whined about being bored (we finally said “no” to t.v! ).  I changed into my suit, all the while checking in to see if Louis changed his mind about dad and Aiden joining, another character trait we often contended with.  He had not.  While dad and Aiden had moved on, and were happy doing other activities in the house, I hadn’t.  I did not want to take Louis to the pool alone.  Unless I wanted to bow out of this play date altogether, which would only cause Louis even greater anxiety, I would have to take him alone.  I said a quick prayer, threw kisses to Aiden and my husband, and left.

Louis zoned out in the car to music, giving me a short respite.  It was a 15 minute drive to the pool, with 13 of these minutes involving a quiet Louis in the back seat.  Then, just as the pool became in view, things changed.          

Louis suddenly remembered he would have to change into clothes after the pool.  That would involve going into the mens locker room alone, as he was too old to come with me in the women’s.  Although Kyle and his father would be there, Louis had never changed with them before.  It was always his dad who helped him change after swim class, as I never took him.  Louis began to whine, his voice charged with fear, that he needed dad to come after all, that Aiden could come too, and could I please call, because he really, really, needed dad to help him change.  I pulled over, and quickly tried to calm him: Louis did not have to go in the locker room at all, he could wear his wet suit in the car, or, I could hold up a towel and he could change, something he typically did at the beach.  Neither of these options were acceptable, and Louis continued to beg me call, his voice so high with tension he could have belted out an aria.  I didn’t want to give in, as he had already invited and then taken away his offer for dad and Aiden to join, but felt trapped.  I did not want Louis to get into full-blown anxiety mode, as I had dealt with that frequently in recent days, and felt burnt out.  I called my husband, who said Aiden was knee-deep in Lego land, and did not want to stop.  He encouraged me to continue on, that hopefully things would change with Louis, as they often did.  Louis and I pulled up to the pool, with Louis now engaged in a complete anxiety attack.  He screamed and yelled that he had to have his dad, and that I had to call again.  Then he threw his shoe at me from the back seat, which hit my arm and hurt.  I tried to talk to him, to calm him, as I had success with sitting and talking about his fears when he wouldn’t get out of the car to pick up Aiden at his preschool last week, although for the life of me I can’t remember what those fears were.  Then I saw Kyle start to walk over to Louis window, and I got out of the car.   Louis screamed for me stay in the car, and threw his other shoe, which hit the windshield.  I asked Kyle where his mom and dad were, and he said inside paying.  I told him that Louis needed a minute, and could he please go and wait inside, which he did.  Then I went over to the side of the car where Louis was sitting and opened the door.  I got down to his level and looked at his tear-stained eyes, trying desperately to think of anything that might make this situation change, but I was beyond tired, and at a blank.  I again suggested he change with Kyle and his dad, or wear his wet suit in the car, which was no more acceptable now then it was 5 minutes earlier.  Louis grabbed my arm and scratched me hard, trying to sink his teeth into my flesh in the process, but I slithered my way out, and slammed the door.  I told Louis I would be back in a minute, and to sit tight.  As I started to walk in the pool, Kyle and his parent’s walked out.  The pool was closing soon they told me, and their online schedule was wrong.  I quickly told them of the events that had transpired in the past 10 minutes, as Kyle’s mom understood and accepted Louis’ Jeckle-Hyde behaviors.  We stood outside trying to come up with another plan, which you know from the beginning of this story, we did.  The change in plan, something I typically dreaded, was exactly what we needed.  Louis managed to calm himself in the time it took to find a different pool, and agreed to try it out.  Half-way there he agreed to change by himself in the locker room, or wear his wet suit home.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

At location B, Louis made no eye-contact with his friend or his family, despite their attempts to engage him, and would not leave my side.  I swam with him in the big pool, where he finally joined his friend in short races to the pools edge.  While I was happy about him playing with his friend, I sensed his continued anxiety, which came out in teasing, competitive remarks such as, “I won; I got here first; I’m better then you.  I spoke in soft tones, encouraging him to replace his competitive remarks with supportive ones such as, “It was so close; that was fun; let’s do it again.”  Then some aquatic acrobats which released more of Louis’ tension, until finally, he and his friend fully connected, hanging out in the pool together until the last second before closing, talking and laughing like old friends.  Then it was over.      

My husband and I have been dealing with a wide variety of serious behavior since Louis was a young 2-year-old, behavior that began shortly after his brother Aiden was born.  Prior to this Louis had been a sweet, but semi-aggressive toddler, who would hit, pinch and bite other children sporadically.  He could also play extremely well with other children, and appeared to enjoy their company.  Louis was on track with all of his early milestones, from motor to language, to social skills, and I knew many toddlers who profiled like he did.  I chalked his less than desirable character traits to typical boy energy, although my day care provider at the time told me frequently that 1 of Louis, was equal to 2 or 3 other children. 

Louis has gone through a variety of changes since then, some positive, a few spectacular, many terrible, and has been assessed or treated by a total of 9 different developmental specialists since the age of 4. Seven of these professionals worked directly with Louis, while 2 child psychologists worked only with his father and I.  At 4 years, Louis was assessed by a speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist, and while he never qualified for speech-language therapy, he received occupational therapy for 2 years, focusing on increasing delayed fine/motor skills, and sensory processing skills.   At 5 yrs, Louis saw a developmental pediatrician, who gave him a diagnosis of “Anxiety Not Otherwise Specified,”  and felt hopeful that because Louis had always done well in preschool, the deck was stacked in his favor.  Louis currently sees a child psychiatrist, who after 2 years of therapy that began shortly after we saw the developmental pediatrician, gave Louis a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), in collaboration with his parents.  He is also the doctor who prescribes Louis medication.  Louis began a boys group last November that meets during the school year, with a focus on social skills, and is led by two child psychologists.  A neuropsychologist assessed Louis last January in the areas of cognition, academic skills, behavioral/social skills and emotional intelligence.  After several sessions of working with Louis and of writing a long report, this doctor also concurred with the diagnosis of ADHD, and in addition, added the new diagnosis of Non Verbal Learning Disorder.

Living with Louis is difficult, and some days, almost impossible.  It has taken me a very long time to come to a place where I can feel hopeful about this child.  I have always loved him, but have gone through long periods of not liking him, and even longer periods where I made it my mission to try to change him.  I blamed Louis for his difficulties early in life; I shamed him, told him he was bad, and when past my breaking point, I have hit him.  I am deeply ashamed of these behaviors, and of how I handled the early years, especially after his brother was born.  While I am presently able to maintain more control when angry with him, I still struggle with my words and my hands.  I still say things I regret, and still handle him too hard sometimes, leaving marks on his skin and causing tears.

Now I struggle to find peace within myself.  I am full of grief and loss, that Louis is not the child I had hoped for, full of continued frustration and anger at the chaos in my house.  But it is through this struggle that I have connected to the most elemental parts of myself, parts of me that I had glimpsed, but never lived.  I am opening, ever so slowly, like the flowers in my garden, despite the hail and storms I have endured.  Louis has been my gift.  It is because of him that I am writing this today.

I did a lot of therapy before I had kids.  I also wrote and did a lot of art, as a way of expressing myself.  I have been deeply spiritual all of my life.  I lost these skills during the most terrible years when I gave Louis every ounce of energy I had.  Yet it is these very outlets; therapy, writing, art, and spiritual practice, that have saved me. I was so miserable when my children were small, that it compelled me to put my thoughts on paper, which eventually evolved into my memoir.  When Louis was not quiet 3 years, and had been trying to kill his brother for almost 6 months, I realized that he was just a little boy and not my volatile mother, and that Aiden, my second child, was not me, someone who helplessly endured different forms of abuse and neglect growing up.  This brought me back to therapy.  I started a women’s group last year, that while struggling to find an identity, is something I created from me.  I meditate or pray almost every day, which has soothed my soul in its worst hour.  I am surrounding myself with inspirational writings, quotes and blogs all written by women, who have survived the hardships of life and gone on.  We got a dog last June that I never believed in my wildest dreams, could be so healing for this family.  I refuse to give into hopelessness, and despite my difficulties with Louis, try my best to focus on his talents and strengths.  He is a loving, tender child, who can be funny, creative and incredibly helpful around the house.  I continue to struggle on, even in my lowest moments, to find joy and beauty where I can.  Even on my worst days I can walk into my backyard garden, and likely find a humming-bird zipping around, flying so close I can see its metallic green feathers and red plume on its neck.  The hummingbird is a totem animal that represents beauty and joy, something I need to be reminded to find each day, no matter what darkness is happening in the world.

Take care until next time, and remember; while there is always tomorrow, or the next hour or the next minute in life, it is this moment that is to be lived, no matter the joy or pain.  It is this moment in time that can nourish you if you let it, that can take you through the stages of transformation, much like a butterfly. There is not much to it, except to be present, now.  The rest will happen on its own.

Diana Ray