July 2015 Flower Bowl/Finding My Compass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

February 2015 Flower Bowl /There Is A Burning Need

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

There is a burning need

to get recognized,

seen in a way

that bares my soul

down to its

naked, dripping

essence.

There is a burning need

to merge soul to soul,

to exchange what

ignites my light

and fills me with love.

This is what it’s like

when I write,

share my story,

and in return

connect with you.

The exchange

is so ecstatic,

I hope to never

give it up.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Freedom

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It has been there for decades.

This feeling of raw and weeping,

buried so deep

beneath a scab

so old,

I have no memory

of its original pain.

l know the younger me

needed that scab to survive,

hadn’t wanted to touch

it’s rawness inside,

and I honor Her for that.

But the me today

is ready to heal,

and it’s okay

that I’m raw and weeping.

I’m ready to surrender

to the Great Mother’s Arms,

let Her wash me,

melt my pain.

It’s going to hurt like hell,

taking this giant scab off,

all that newborn skin

exposed to the world.

But I’m weary

and it’s so heavy,

this ancient,

dead weight scab!

I want to heal,

grow my skin back,

feel the delicious air

as it blows across nerves

that have been numb

and sedated

for years.

I am ready

to finally

feel.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

A Story To Tell Part 2

Running In Water

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

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

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I Wish

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

 

I wish I didn’t feel like shit.

I wish that talking to my spouse

was an exchange of something good,

instead of The Battle Of Personal Issues

brought on by children

and stressful jobs

and buying houses.

 

I wish I could detach myself

from the constant barrage

of foul language

and horrible insults,

thrown around

by my very own children,

as if they were blowing bubbles

that pop quickly,

one after the other.

 

I wish addiction didn’t exist,

that the line you cross

was wide,

like the Grand Canyon,

instead of thin

and frail

and unstable.

 

I wish I didn’t have to dive deep,

to go where No Mans Gone Before.

Hidden treasures they tell me,

if only I dive deep.

But the Demon of Irritability

lives there too,

and to be quite honest,

I can’t stand his guts.

 

I wish I felt more inspired

like I do when I think of Her,

Mother Earth,

and the Little Girl

who rides the Elephant

wearing a sparkly pink tutu.

I smile from my bones

every time I see her,

this darling girl,

who blew into my life

one day

during a soul retrieval.*

 

I wish I were a spider

spinning my own

web of support,

and instead of

eating my prey,

I would invite them

to stay,

offering friendship

and comfort

and nurturance.

 

I wish I had more courage,

more faith.

My back is weak,

but what about my mind,

my heart,

my soul?

“You can do it,” I tell myself,

“You can do it.”

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

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

Healing With Birds

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

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

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

But then the birds came and filled me with joy.

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

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

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

Thanks to the birds 🙂

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Union

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These are my feet

now I must walk,

These are my hands

now I must create,

These are my eyes

now I must see,

this is my heart

now I must feel,

these are my wings

now I must fly.

Walk

Create

Feel

See

Fly.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

This Is The Tree

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

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

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

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

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

solid

capable of anything

full of love.

Yes, this is the tree.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

November 2014 Flower Bowl/Seeding

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

What I wish the most,

is to create enough space

within me,

for the fire and light

to grow.

May my wish come true:)

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

My Declaration

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Self-Love #1

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I.

You are only ever one step away from

joy,

gratitude,

love.

Take it.

II.

Like life,

love begins

and ends

with me.

III.

To love myself is to believe in myself.

In times of success,

of failure,

of starting over.

I BELIEVE IN ME.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Oct. 2014 Flower Bowl/Manifesting With The Moon

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

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

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

And here is where I am hitting a bump.

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By: Diana Ray

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

More Thoughts on Healing

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

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

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Faith

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I

If we know

we are choosing

less than whole

for ourselves,

are we still fallow?

Will we germinate eventually

despite the sludge,

the patterns

that slow growth

to a notch just

before stillness?

II

If we are aware

of the shadow,

know its seductive dance,

are willing to sit side by side

in acceptance (and submission),

does that make the choice

of less than wholeness ok?

III

If we keep making the same mistakes

over and over,

never giving up

never quitting,

despite the addiction

the complacency

the shadow;

if we know

despite our complacency,

our willingness to fumble

again and again,

that we are actually WHOLE

despite our lack of wholeness,

will we not eventually find the way?

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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

The Funnel

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

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

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

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray 

Sitting In The Fire

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

July Flower Bowl/Full Moon In Caparicorn/Finding Presence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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

Cooking with Aphrodites Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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

Magical Help Wanted

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Last night I performed a spell over my boys.

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

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

“I call upon the magic power

In this day and in this hour

To help my boys to be friends

So we can be a family again.”

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

February 2014 Flower Bowl

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 February 2014 Flower Bowl

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

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

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Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Inner Knowing and Devotion

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December 2013 Flower Bowl

Happy Solstice/New Year!

May You Be Healthy and Well!

Inner Knowing and Devotion.

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

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

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

Have a Wonderful New Year!

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Addiction Is Staying With Me For The Holidays

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Her name Is Addiction

and she’s staying with me

for the holidays.

“Dee,” we call her for short.

 

Dee slipped into

my life

right before Thanksgiving,

and now has moved into

every room of the house.

 

Dee doesn’t care

that I have kids,

or drive a car

or go to work.

She lives by her own impulses,

and makes demands

that must be met

any time

at any moment

of any day.

 

What would happen

If I said, “no” is not known,

as Dee is very persuasive,

often leaving me feeling sleepy,

and malleable just enough,

so that a boundary,

any boundary,

can be pushed with ease.

 

Dee knows her visit is mixed;

intense pleasure

alongside intense angst;

angst over my permissiveness,

my everything is okay-ness,

over admitting

that I enjoy Dee

and her presence,

no matter how much

she burn’s me out.

And that I let her

get away with more shit,

than any other being

I have in my life.

 

I hope I don’t see Dee again

for some time (undefined).

Her stay is not forever,

and even she will know

when that stay

has been out welcomed,

slipping away

in the same manner

as always;

slow, languid,

a heavy trail of essence,

fragrant in every room,

reminding me

that she has been here

or is coming

and that I better be ready.

 

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Who Am I

Welcome To Running In Water!

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

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

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Perhaps you will see yourself there too.

8/12/13 Diana Ray

One Year Later…

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

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

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

photo (5)8/11/12 Diana Ray

Where It All Began

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

photo (42)My Loves

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

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I am really a teenager at heart.

top of plum tree

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

Journey On!

Photographs taken by Diana Ray

Last Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

It felt really good.

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

I am not giving up.

Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

One Year Later…

One Year Later….

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

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

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

Diana Ray

One Year Celebration To Me (and pep talk)!

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

Diana Ray

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

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

The Healer is Healed

tarot

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

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

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

I felt my tiny slice get larger.

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

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

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

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

Diana Ray

What I Know

What I Know

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

How I Feel

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

What I Fear

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

The Experience

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

More Fear

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

Feeling Hope

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

More Hope

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

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

Ode to Oliver (& Company)

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

 

Ode to Oliver (& Company)

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

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

Diana Ray

I Love Being Diana

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

I Love Being Diana

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

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

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

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

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

Can I handle anything?

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Calling Mother Earth

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

Diana Ray
6/17/13

The Garden That Grew From Within Part III

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

Yet my heart has begun to break.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Diana Ray

Cleaning

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

Cleaning
By Diana Ray

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

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

When I Was Really Depressed

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


Untitled 2

By Diana Ray

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

The Garden That Grew From Within Part II.

Take a look at this:

front and back

back plot

This was the bane of my existance, this luscious, beautiful landscape that you are laying your eyes upon at this very moment.

Of course it did not look like this at the time, nor do I have any pictures, but the front yard I can assure you, was a mess.

Everyday I would come home, groan, and either ignore the deep critic in me who was insisting I do something about the front yard, or I would begrudgingly go out and pull a handful of weeds, nothing that would make any difference. I told myself that I would hire someone to do it, but that too seemed like a bane.  The back yard garden was my baby; the front yard, an overgrown weedy mess that I did not want to deal with.

So what happened?

This happened:

side front plot

And this:

front plot

and this.

tree mallow plot

back side plot

The more I pulled, the more I weeded, the more I walked toward the thing that I thought was the bane of my existance, the more I found beauty, both deep within me, and deep without, as you can see how much beauty I was able to reate with my own two hands.

I was in desperate need for this deep earth connection, this silent pull to just do just that, pull, weed, plant, water.  Grow.  I didn’t even this would happen, that this wonderful energy that I needed as bad as the body needs water, would just happen.  I have been criticizing myself for avoiding aspects of my life.  Now I know, I must celebrate.

Diana Ray

to read “The Garden That Grew From Within,” go to the archives of my blog.

In The Muck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place

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

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

and still be calm in your heart.

That is the true meaning of peace.

 

Diana Ray

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 http://www.nldontheweb.org)Louis 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