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

Thoughts on Healing

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

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

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Me and My Shadow

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

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

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

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

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

August Flower Bowl/Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By:  Diana Ray

Poem To Om Kali Ma

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Om Kali Ma,

you filled me with rage

what seemed like endless grief

and the need to wail, scream, expend,

howl with eruption

like the blood that gushes gummy and thick,

an outpouring of death amid my heaviest flow.


Is it no wonder

that the moon was in Scorpio

when I felt your stinging knife

pierce through my shroud?


Grief, tears,

a rage so deep it felt beyond me,

this skin, these cells,

the life I have lived these past 43 years.


Yet despite the depth

the tears flowed easily,

my diaphragm rising and falling

like a call to some other season,

the need to shed common, understood,

a cycle of molting and re-birth,

a ceremony of transition innate to every being.


So close to the surface

Om Kali Ma it felt like home,

so deep in my belly and loins

I know this goes beyond me,

to my sisters, my mother,

and all the blood that lay before.

To my children and their endless fighting,

to my nieces who have suffering

in their hearts and in their minds,

to my oldest friend with cancer

growing slowly in her body.


Om Kali Ma,

I knew you would be powerful,

I sensed it in the days preceding,

the subtle contraction and tightening

that pounded my temples,

Your Temple really,

this body if mine.


Om Kali Ma,

how could I have

forgotten you when I was young?

An innocent in frantic need

of your awesome, raging power,

feeling like grief would annihilate me,

ignorant of your other faces:

Re-birth, Creation, Liberation!

So I hid, held on tighter,

fled as though my life were in danger.


Yet is was the hiding

and tightness that ate me away,

small and pitiful I sat in my shadow,

needing release but being unable,

my fear an enemy of my most highest self,

until desperation finally grabbed me

and forced me to cry.


Om Kali Ma,

I grieve in knowing

that those I love do not know you,

have never been taught

The Power That Lies

In The Flames Of Your Destruction,

out of the ashes,

the chaos,

the fire burning hell

that inflicts everyone

and anyone

at some point or another,

Sprouts New Life.


How could I have lived

without you before now?

How does anyone?

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

Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

I Am

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I am Hawk.

Fearless, beautiful,

on the hunt for that which

sustains and nurtures.

I am part of a vast eco-system

from the tiny field mouse

that gives me life,

to the immense Sequioa

I nest my fertile eggs.

I am mother,

guarding with a fierce

gentleness that which

is a continued cycle of

birth, the hunt, and death.

Feel my instincts

as old and deep

as the rings that mark time,

from beginning, to end,

to beginning again.

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I am Sunset.

Reflective, bright,

lulling millions of stories

of beauty, tragedy,

and the seam that lies betwixt .

To look at me is searing, melting.

The power to erode

that which does not serve,

the power to turn

even the darkest moment

to light.

Watch me until you melt

into the fertile waters

I sink into,

knowing that I will

rise and fall

and rise again.

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I am Rose.

Opulent, simple,

my many folds, layers and scents

Grace on Earth.

Inhale my scent as medicine

to heal every collapsed cell,

inhale my fragrance to heal

every distorted memory.

Inhale that which is both You and I,

our sameness a picture

of the tiniest of particles,

a tetrahedron of oneness

that exists

in all of life.

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Hawk, Sunset, Rose.

Our differences illusory,

our stories kindred.

Each a mirror image

of the Earth we are born from,

each a mirror image of

the You that is Me.

I come from the Earth too,

my story is the same;

I too eat to survive

I too melt to create

I too inhale the scent

that alchemically changes

this body and spirit

into what is old,

what is remembered,

what is Born Again.


Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

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

On Addiction, Letting Go, and Making Space For Magic

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

Diana Ray

photo (56)Photography By Diana Ray

The Healer is Healed


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

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

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

I felt my tiny slice get larger.

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

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

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

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

Diana Ray

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

Calling Mother Earth

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

Diana Ray

The Garden That Grew From Within Part III

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

Yet my heart has begun to break.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Diana Ray


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!

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.

Dedication to Diana

This was the first poem I wrote in this series.  I remember it vividly; I was up late, unable to sleep, my body, mind and spirit utterly bursting with the need to write poetry, but feeling completely static, unsure of where to start.  So I just did.  This poem is a far cry from the original piece I wrote that night, but is that not what transformation is about, allowing change to be in all its glory?  Another thing I’d like to mention is the me from today has been editing all of these poems written by the me from 2 years ago.  Personally, I think they are much better now!

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                                                     Dedication to Diana

By Diana Ray (written in 2011)

Why is it so hard to get the words

from here to there?

They are shouting across a chasm

begging for a rope or a bridge,

anything to take them to the other side

where they can finally come alive,

living, breathing, and dictating a life

that is bursting to be heard.

Then I hear it:

“You can do it,” the voice tells me,


The chasm is deep and wide

and I lose my sense of balance

as I stare into its nothingness.

“Jump,” it tells me again,

“You can do it, don’t look down.”

I shift my line of vision up 90 degrees

the other sides features fuzzy,

but with outlines I can clearly see.

“Jump!” the voice says more firmly, “Do it, Jump!”

There is no guarantee I will make it

no way of knowing if I will land breathing

or made up of bloody pieces,

but the thought of not trying is death.

“Jump!” the voice is now yelling, “Do it now, jump!”

I take a deep breath and close my eyes,

a vision appearing despite my sudden loss of sight,

every ounce of my blood alive

get a running start

and Jump.

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  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

A Story To Tell Part 2

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

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2/15/2013     Last Sunday 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 a family ancestry, going back as far as my great-grandparents and great aunts/uncles, on both sides of my family.  It was fascinating and heart-breaking: On my mother’s side, my great-grandmother shot my great-grandfather, likely with the intention of killing him, although he survived.  My grandfather was 12 at the time, and had to testify at this trial.  I can’t imagine.  In searching further, there are 4 other court cases from that period, all involving some kind of domestic dispute.  So much family history of pain….. This is where my mother comes from, where I come from.  No wonder I feel it on such a deep, cellular level.

So I arrived at this workshop with a few animals in tow.  The yoga part was great, and I felt warm and open as we delved into the guided meditation.  There was drumming, rattling and singing; the drums giving off that wonderful, low, rich sound so lulling to altered states of mind; the rattles producing high frequency sounds from sharp, to staccato, to active.  It was like being settled down and fired up simultaneously.

We laid down, cozy and comfortable, and imagined a place in nature that was familiar.  For me this was a place along the coast, where forest meets the ocean.  In this journey I am sitting on the beach, the forest directly behind me.  I turn around and see a tree, as tall as a redwood, with alternating branches, but no leaves.  I begin to climb it, up and up and up, and when I get to the top, I see that it is dark and hollow inside.  I sit there for some time, knowing that I am supposed to climb down, but do nothing.  Then I see there is a nest on a branch nearby, filled with birds (all birds are sacred to me), and one of the birds begins to accompany me as I climb down the dark, hollowed out tree.  So together we climb down, down, down, down, and when we emerge we are in a place that feels akin to middle earth.  There is a river to my right, which is running slow but steady, and we begin to walk alongside.  A snake appears, and begins to dance, the rhythm of the rattles and the drums shaping its every move; up and down, side to side.  I dance back, my body also in rhythm. Then I know:  the snake is not my power animal.  We walk some more.  Off to my left, a Giselle emerges, with horns as long as a unicorns, yet coiled, like the snake.  We look at each other, and I also know:  it too, is not my power animal.   A crocodile rises slowly out of the river, its giant jaws dripping with large gobs of water, its mouth opening and closing so near, I can see the white gleam of it’s teeth.  Again I understand:  it is not my power animal.  Then I see it:  a wonderful glow off to the left.  I move towards it, and then I am there:   immersed in a beautiful field, wildflowers all around, the sun shining down as hundreds of white butterflies land all over, covering me from head to toe.  They are my power animal, I know this innately. 

This is not the first time the butterfly has appeared before me, and I have been wondering about its purpose for quite some time.  And while I honestly can’t remember if it was before or after this workshop that I came to understand its message, here’s what I know:

The butterfly is metamorphosis, transformation, the ability to turn from one thing into another.  Facing my father’s molestation of my sister, and possibly my other sister, or even me, is the start of this process.  (For more about this story read

Then myself, the bird and the butterfly, go back to the path along the river, and it is here that I see him:  A giant brown bear, as big as a car, his endearing energy drawing me towards him.  I had been given a bear 20 years ago, although only recently came to know him as a guide.  The bear is courage, both protector and warrior, the ability to go deep into the dark cave of the unconscious, and face what’s there.  I hugged this bear many, many, times, and lay across his soft, brown back.  With him I knew I could face anything!  We all hung out for a while, the bird, the butterfly, this beautiful bear and myself, until I see it again:  another opening at the base of a tree, very dark, but much smaller. We all stop and look.

 This time I do not climb in. 


Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

The Garden That Grew From Within

My first call to the earth was when I was 22.  I received my first tarot card reading and was told that I was the Queen of Harvest, and that I would be most at home with my hands in the dirt.  I was in awe of this comment, especially since I had grown up hating most outdoor activities, with the exception of swimming.  But deep spirituality had been calling for some time, and this was one such moment.  Everything about the reading was new and incensed and vibrant.  I was having my cards read by a woman who was older than I, who worshipped the Goddess, and was telling me much about me.  It was a me that was clearly far from the present, but none the less, every fiber of my 22 year old being knew that everything she was telling me was innately right.  I felt open to the experience that awaited, even though it felt more than a ways off.

Over the years my love of nature grew, first through a love of hiking, something I discovered in my early 20’s, to planting my first garden at age 29.  I remember being so insanely excited over the little 4 X 2 plot of shady earth that edged the front porch of the very first dump of a house Paul and I rented after we were married.  I went straight for color, not even considering needs like sun or water, let alone how big each plant might become.  I planted a rhododendron in that spot, and if you aren’t familiar with rhododendrons, they can grow to be huge.  But such fun!  To pick flowers simply because they are beautiful, and look beautiful together, and make your house look beautiful, and even yourself look beautiful, is just the best feeling.  

And for awhile the beauty remained.  Then slowly my ignorance caught up, first with a few flowers looking quite raggedy, then the clincher:  Paul and I went away on vacation.  Not having planned for anyone to come and water my form over function garden, everything was dead by the time I returned.

But the spark was spurned, and while it would be a few more years before I got my own garden again, the feeling remained, waiting quietly, for life to unfold.

After 2 years of apartment living, Paul and I rented a house, with a largish backyard full of rose bushes, dahlias and gladiolas.  I added a few more plants while I was there, and even landscaped a dry, bare plot that had been along the side of the house for I don’t know how long.  An old woman had gone to a nursing home, and the roses and dahlias and gladiolas were hers.  This time, I was ready to learn.  I read as much about growing plants in my region as I could, had a more experienced garden friend let me pick her brain from time to time, and let the rest flow.  I had good results.  By the time Paul and I bought our own house 1 year later, the place was lush with color.  Lucky next house buyers!

When we bought our house, the backyard was completely dated.  Two giant laundry Y’s flanked the front and back yard, there was more concrete than earth, and a giant oval of what I would soon learn was invasive crabgrass sat in the middle of everything.  There was also a cool building back there, complete with French doors, wood walls and about a million outlets.  It quickly became storage for odds and ends, as well as a place to keep my garden equipment.

Louis was 9 months old when we finally decided to do something.  We found an unlicensed gardener, who for about half of what we would’ve paid someone legal, ripped up the concrete, removed the laundry Y’s, in addition to a metal shed that sat on its own concrete foundation (the former owners just loved concrete), and then proceeded to build us a new fence and a beautiful arbor.  Irrigation pipes got laid underneath newly created plots of earth, which flanked the yard on all sides but one, including a brand new sprinkler system, to feed the awful crab grass we decided to leave (no one at the time informed me just how horribly invasive crab grass can be).  An old patio lay underneath the new arbor, having gotten reduced in size to allow for the garden plots.  It was quite a site, and it smelled great.  And it sang my name.

I got down and dirty.  I spent hours and hours at our local nurseries, pouring over selections that involved any number of color, texture and greenery combination, this time taking great care to consider things like sun and water, and whether or not plants died back vs. stayed green all winter.  After planting (I kid you not), 20 plants in the backyard and 15 plants in the front yard, I laid out all the irrigation tubing myself, which while I was prideful at the time, really sucks and I will never do it again.  Shortly after this we had both sets of parents coming into town for Louis’ baby naming.  The next day we had a party in our backyard.  It was a site to behold.

The garden was beautiful.  Colors melted into one another, and on a sunny day there was just enough shade under the arbor to relax, yet if you wanted sun, the crabby grass section provided the warmth.  We got butterflies and hummingbirds.  I was in love.

But not everything worked, something you don’t know until you can see how a plant truly performs, and several plants had to come and go.  Some things got too big for the area they were in, and others just died.  We still had a mighty good time in the yard, and had many a picnic or play date back there with other families.  As far as furniture went, we had a table and 6 chairs.  The rest of the time we used beach chairs or lay out on blankets.  The studio continued to be used as a storage/dumping ground.  It was fun.

Then Aiden came along, and the period of “extreme challenge” (enlightened description)/ “living hell” (highly stressed mama description) came along, and much like our personal lives, the garden began to deteriorate.

Not hard to guess, I couldn’t keep on top of basic maintenance, and from time to time I would call someone to come and help with the everything is too big/overgrown/full of weeds situation.  “It’s too much garden for me,” I thought to myself.  What was I thinking?

But still, it continued to call my name, and despite how much time and energy went into keeping Louis from getting Aiden, the pull was strong.  Finally, there was a little relief in sight.  My in-laws were going to help us add on a small addition.  Our house was a 2-bedroom 1 bathroom, 990 square foot house.  We were going to add on 1 small bedroom and bathroom.  We would lose our garage, but we didn’t care.  Every day was truly wild and crazy.  Having more options of places to separate the kids and ourselves, would hopefully help.

The contractors trashed the studio, and the yard.  The tried their best to be mindful of the plants, but stuff happened.  The addition was beautiful however, and after 1.5 years of sleeping on the couch and the floor (each of the kids had the 2 bedrooms), Paul and I felt like we were in heaven.

From there things only grew with time.  Personally, I was at my lowest, coming close to a nervous breakdown and going on medication just shortly after the addition was completed.  But spring was just around the corner, and much to my amazement, much of the garden was intact.  A vine I thought had been crushed was weaving its way along the same path it did every year, and plants were starting to bloom.  I spent the next bunch of weeks pruning and weeding and taking out/putting in new plants.  Again, the garden sang my name, and again, I was in bliss.  That following summer everything looked beautiful and lush, and with the purchase of a fire pit, a family tradition was born.  The following fall I cleaned out the studio, and the following February I started my women’s group, which now meets in that space.  Mixed in there was continuing to battle with depression, and the continued battles between the boys, although these were starting to decrease.

This last year has been incredibly spiritual, both in and out of the garden.  With the advent of completing my memoir and following some very serious pulls from deep within, the garden itself, I realize, is a direct reflection of this opening.  Part of me has known this all along.  I love to plant, and feed, and nurture these beautiful living entities that create such beauty for me.  I love watering and cutting back old blooms and watching new tiny buds appear, ready to take their place.  I love pruning things back, cutting things up, and throwing it all back into the garden, in some hidden spot.  I love when fall approaches and descends into winter.  This is the time of pruning and pulling and watching things die back.  I love this life cycle and feel myself thrive on the energy that has been created here.  Last spring, I convinced my husband to let me put the finishing touches on the backyard (it was actually my birthday present), with the installation of a beautiful new flagstone patio and new grass.  The patio was made bigger, the dreaded crabgrass pulled and replaced (although I still battle it in some flower beds, and as a friend put it, I will be pulling it till I drop.)

I see amazing things all the time in my yard, no matter the season.  That’s what’s great about living where I live; you get only rain and no snow, in the winter!  While my garden is quiet in the winter, it is by no means lifeless.  If anything, it’s the opposite.  Check this out yourself:




I am outside in this yard, as much as possible.  The past 2 summers I have spent writing in the backyard, with all the birds, butterflies and bugs around me.  The earth is amazing.

I see connections everywhere in my yard, from the care I have given to tending this earth, to the vines that weave their way creating beautiful designs, to the hummingbirds and butterflies that are attracted to their flowers, and have set up shop in my yard because of them.  They take my breath away every time I see them.  I have seen countless hummingbirds, up close, and have even seen one groom itself (they can turn their entire head around as they do this!).  As I stated in my last post, I have lain under the stars and been swooned by the moon amidst this garden.  I love that both my sons can see me be so authentic with myself, and with life.  So much to teach them about life, through this garden.   My younger son, following my cue, calls the hummingbirds, “our friends.”

This garden is so incredibly healing for me; I do not think I would live very well without one ever again.  I lose myself in the process, similar to how I am with yoga, although it is the Earths heartbeat I hear as I find myself on hands and knees, in the dirt.  On my last birthday my children gave me as a gift, a goddess that came into my life when I was 29, long before I had kids.  They didn’t know how special she was to me.  Here she is:

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This is Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion.  It is through her that I have found the calm I have needed to cultivate change within my family.  As you can see, I keep a bowl of water with fresh flowers in front of her as much as possible.  Water, I have been told, is part of the essence of compassion; washing away pain, allowing love to flow freely, allowing anger to fall away, it’s all flowing, like water.  I think of Kwan Yin when I struggle with my family, especially my children.   

This garden is every connection I have with every being on earth.  As the garden mirrors me in its cycle of life, death and life again, so I become more open, more expansive, more willing to be present with myself, to be good to myself and others, and most importantly, to give to my children.  I remember the years of being unhappy and bored and repressed, before I knew about the garden.  It has grown from within, most certainly.  I can’t wait to show you what it looks like in the summer!


Diana Ray

Thoughts on the Coming New Year

What Do You See?

What do you see?

These are fallen leaves, or leaves about to fall, from my hydrangea plant. They are completely in the process of dying, yet so beautiful to look at. In the end, all that will be left will be dirt; food for the next time around.

This plant is actually feeding itself.

And so the cycle continues!

Happy Solstice and
Happy New Year!
Diana Ray

Foundations and Rituals in the aftermath of Connecticut

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

My life, much like everyone’s since last Friday (12/14/12), has been shaken considerably by the sudden loss of such young life, and has left me feeling unsure of what to do.  I have sent daily healing prayers across the miles to those who are grieving.  I have hugged my husband and children tight, appreciating them and all the chaos that comes along, with a new sense of humility. I have listened to the radio, heard the president speak, spoken with friends, and made donations of books and gifts to local charities.  I am trying my best, with one foot forward at a time, to go on.

All of this has made me think:  what are my foundations, what it is I rely on when things get tough.  I am lucky; I have many that I have been blessed with establishing in the past 10 years.  For those who have been following my blog, you know I write, meditate, pray and create art.  I am trying my damndest to reach out to others, my weakest link, having experienced a traumatic childhood.  But still, I make myself reach out.

I also practice ritual, and I’m not shy to admit, I love practicing ritual, and wish I did it more.  I light candles in honor of any number of things; I make altars, a collection of sacred objects, smells, tastes, textures, that have specific meanings, also in honor of any number of things.  I speak during these rituals, putting my ideas about myself and life out there to whoever is listening.  I have lain outside at night, underneath the hopefulness of the new moon (planting the seed), or the luminous fruition of the full moon (reaping the harvest), and both dreamed and cried.  I also practice family rituals, like kissing my wonderful husband and children every morning, and before we go to bed each night.  I wish we could have a family dinner, but Louis’ many food aversions prohibit that presently.

These are the things that carry me through times of uncertainty.

The 4 corners of the hands and feet are also related to our root chakra, I leaned this morning.  This information also brought me on alert, as I had been meditating on the root chakra for a few days.  The root chakra, which is a store house of energy, is located between the genitals and the anus, and represents feeling safe and secure in the world.  When this energy is flowing, we feel alive and vibrant and physical with life.  Life is sensual, and to be experienced fully.  When it is blocked we feel scared and fearful, and out the body.  Life is no longer about vitality; it is about protection and survival.

I can imagine many root chakras suddenly stagnant, including mine.

This is a time of turning inward, of exploring your foundations and rituals, the things that carry you through when life gets hard.  It is through these foundations that we will find grounding, and through this grounding, that we will find strength and compassion, vs. fear and despair.

If you don’t know what your foundations are, now is the time to think and create.  It can be anything;  a thought, word, action, object.  You do not have to sit under the full moon like me (I am a bit crazy); it can be something as simple as imagining that suffering is washed away every time you wash your hands, or affirming, “I am (you fill in this part),” every morning with your eyes closed.  You can write how you wish the world to be, and put it in a wish box (I have one!). Or perhaps like me, you need more family rituals to anchor yourselves as a living unit, vs., separate individuals, as some families are.  I see out to the movies family night more regularly in our future.

Healing starts with you; find your foundations and rituals.  Open your root chakra.  Out of grief, comes compassion.  It is with compassion that we can huddle as a humanity.

Diana Ray

Growing Hair On My Chest

I am fragile, walking the line between choices, having difficulty listening to the one voice inside me that is my own advocate.  I’ve toyed with this idea before, revealing something so personal and shaming about me, to my readers.  Thus far I have not.  BUT…..if my goal is to tell my story, then how can I leave out such an important issue?  I suppose I could talk about it as “X,” or some other code word, without actually revealing “the thing,” but does that make me less genuine, for not being entirely honest?  I hope not.  Because what I want to talk about is struggling with the vices and addictions we use to cope, and while it may be entirely too revealing to say what my evil addiction is that tethers my growth, I still want to talk about it.  It’s part of who I am.  So code word here I come.

How about eating M&M’s?  Watching porn?  Really awful, cheesy reality t.v, such as Toddlers & Tiara’s?  Any of these work for me, although I suspect if I choose porn some of my readers might have a hard time taking me seriously, and I don’t think I could take myself seriously if I said I couldn’t keep myself from watching  “Toddlers and Tiara’s.”  So M&M’s here I come.

I eat too many M&M’s (Can you imagine if I said I watch too much Toddlers & Tiara’s?).  It’s been happening slowly, over the course of the past couple of years.  I do not want to give up my M&M addiction, but merely reel it in a bit.  In actuality, I don’t even mind eating M&M’s; a little chocolate soothes my active mind, and settles the frustration, anger and anxiety that reside so easily in my soul, when it comes to my 2 special needs kids.  But eating M&M’s every moment that I am not working, and sometimes all throughout the day on the week-ends, has made me feel sticky and sugary and fat.  And like a failure.

What good am I to anybody If I feel like a failure?  I know how this goes; I can continue to ignore the little voice that is trying very hard to advocate for my success, if only I didn’t squash it so far down with M&M’s, or; I can take a break from M&M’s.  Not a long break, but maybe long enough to let whatever it is I am avoiding, surface.  Life has been difficult, and M&M’s have helped tremendously.  But too much of a good thing can turn quickly into burnout, if left unmonitored.  I am near burnout with M&M’s.  It is time to take a break.

Something I have realized as I have been pondering the M&M situation, is that I am no longer in full blown crisis.  Crisis meaning:  completely reacting to life, bursting with pain, and unable to find the ground beneath my feet.  I still walk that line for sure, feel myself teetering frequently, and even have one foot down on that side on a semi-regular basis.  But even if half of me is there, the rest of me is not.  Even if the rest of me doesn’t feel so good about things.

Crisis has been weaving its way in and out my life since Aiden was born 6 years ago, got sick, and spent 6 weeks in the hospital.  Once he came home, all Louis wanted to do was hurt him and us, and this lasted for years.  By November of last year, Louis teacher was calling for a meeting regarding his serious behavior.  Around the same time, it became apparent after meeting with Aiden’s preschool teacher, that he would not cut it in regular kindergarten for the next year.  By January, both kids were going through assessments to gain more information about their developmental skills.  I put out a serious S.O.S to the universe to give me an emotional hand.  I was also eating a lot of M&M’s.

But that was then and this is now.  It hadn’t even occurred to me to reflect on how much I’ve grown and changed in just the past 12 months, let alone the past 6 years, and once I did, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks:  I’ve gotten through these past 6 years, and didn’t just survive, I grew hair on my chest!  Even if I did gain 10 lbs in M&M’s everywhere else.  And it wasn’t the M&M’s that got me through, it was me.  Me, me, me!  Reaching out to others to share what’s hard, meditating, gardening, writing or doing art.  Anything and everything I could think of to ease my pain, give it a voice, let it be heard.  I didn’t even know how much I was supporting myself at the time, the pain was so bad.  But now I see how much I accomplished, and I feel proud.

Sometimes it takes awhile for our minds and hearts to catch up with the details of life, and even if they do, letting down our guard long enough to take it in is hard.  It’s much easier to look over your shoulder and expect the worst, especially if the worst has become what’s familiar.  But it’s worth it; even if things are only incrementally better, be on the look-out.  These are the moments that nourish and regenerate and get us through.  The moments that grow hair on our chests.

So it is now that I make an intention:  to take a 1-week break from M&M’s, like my own mini lent.  I will find other ways to soothe myself, to find the calm amiss the chaos.  It might be terrible; it might be no big deal.  Either way, I welcome the growth of more hair on my chest.  Halloween is coming up anyway.  I welcome it with pride.

Diana Ray


Diary Of A Serious Dip

Mon. 8/31/12

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

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

 Weds 9/5/2012

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

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

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

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


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

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

I understand, dear boy, how hard it is.

Diana Ray