Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gotta Dance

This is a true story.

I had a client a few years ago who, after years of ignoring it, opened the door to his attic one day and cleaned house. Among the many things he decided to let go of was his crystal collection. He had played around with healing, taken classes, and in the process acquired a rather large box of quartz crystals. He decided to give them to me because he never touched them. They were just gathering dust up there, had been for years.

It was a wonderful present! I cleaned them energetically and physically, soaked them in salt water, fresh cold water and sunlight. I smudged them, put them in the freezer for awhile, wrapped them in cloth and let them rest. I charged them with Reiki. Then I started giving them away. The distribution process was haphazard. I handed them out to clients, friends, neighbors, but in a random manner. I let my intuition guide me. I asked the crystals with whom they wanted to end up. I even mailed a few to far flung friends. I loved bestowing the crystals. It felt like a great honor.

In the midst of working with these crystals it came to me that I was enacting a sacred dance. I was aspecting a cirrus cloud when it rains ice crystals. It was rather incredible, a great piece of performance art as well as sacred dance.

Right now I'm in the middle of another such project. I didn't plan to end up with a huge bay leaf wreath, but somehow it happened that soon after I recovered from the flu, there it was, a bountiful and fragrant wreath, hanging on my door. It got too cold to leave it hanging on the door. I had to bring it indoors during the blasts of Arctic weather. The indoor heat and dry air dried the leaves quickly. There were a LOT of leaves on that wreath, ready all at once to dive into a soup pot. Alarmed, I went into a frenzy leaf plucking. I plucked like a mad woman, filled a dozen baggies with them. At least a dozen.

And now I'm giving them away. I have a huge jar of leaves for myself, but I am just one person in this tiny apartment. I don't need a bushel of bay leaves. I've handed out bags of leaves in a random manner similar to the way it worked with the crystals. I'm giving them to clients, neighbors I happen to run into, that sort of thing. As before, I've mailed a few bags of leaves to people who live elsewhere.

It's a similar dance, though this time I'm not aspecting a cirrus cloud of course. The Voice in the Shower said this morning that I'm doing a dance of solar radiance. I am a human being, unable - of course - to radiate sunbeams. Hence the bay leaves.

Again a sacred dance, also a top notch piece of performance art. I'm pleased. The one nagging thought that keeps coming up has to do with the poor fellow who gave me his crystals. He committed suicide a few months after giving away most of the stuff in his attic. The metaphor was impossible to ignore. I always wondered if somehow those dusty crystals were keeping him from going off the deep end. I will never know. I hope his spirit found healing after he left his body, I surely do.

Since the bay leaves I'm radiating came from Williams Sonoma, I'm not worried that any humans or animals will be injured in the midst of this dance. Thank god!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What, me worry?

My natural tendency is to worry. It has been my habit since I was a tiny toddler, probably since I was a baby. I might have worried in utero, who can say? Part of that has to do with my eternally dodgy stomach. A slightly sour stomach is associated with worry in Chinese medicine. So interesting that my symptoms matched my behavioral tendencies long before I could even talk. Chinese medicine is amazing.

I've worked hard to break the worry habit, initially during my years in therapy. Do not misunderstand - my ten years on the couch saved my life - but I found I could not talk myself out of worrying. Worry is not rational, after all.

At some point I decided to look at worry as if it were nothing more than a habit like nail biting or hair twisting. I decided to pay attention, to notice when I was worrying, let go of the story I was spinning, and think of other things. There was an excruciating summer when I was starting my practice. Money was extremely tight that summer. I was beside myself with worry. How would I feed the dog? Would I end up on the street? That summer I had to remind myself not to worry at least every five minutes. My mind grasped every possible topic that could be worrisome, and hung on tight. Worry was a tyrant that summer. I took to saying STOP out loud to myself every time I noticed I was worrying. It was relentless. But I got through the summer, my business picked up and I prevailed. Whew.

Worrying is exhausting. It's part of the human experience, hence perfectly natural to lapse into it from time to time. But a chronic worrier wears herself out, believe me. I've been there.

What's the opposite of worry? The most noble opposite would be trust, right? I think less lofty behaviors, such as denial, are reasonable contenders for the opposite end of the worry spectrum. I have nothing against denial by the way - it's part of our survival instinct and necessary at times. The breaking of denial is, in almost every instance, a revelation. It's almost worth the denial just for the big ah-ha moment. Not always.

I like to think maybe I don't worry so much as I once did because I've learned some things about trust as I've grown older. My spiritual path is very clear and my relationship with the Divine is intimate. It really helps. Also because like everyone else I dip into denial now and again, I'm better able than I once was to put worry aside for awhile. Chinese medicine has eased my perpetual stomach ache and hence has contributed greatly to my ability to trust rather than worry.

Also of course I worry less because now I'm in my sixties. Everything from here on seems like gravy to me. I worry less about all the mistakes I've already made, and less about the mistakes I'll make in the future. I even worry less about the mistakes I'm making at this very minute. For instance: I'm drinking strong black tea in mid afternoon which is likely to keep me awake tonight. It is so delicious on this cold, windy January afternoon, well worth some potential toss and turn this evening. I am not worried! This is a good thing.

One thought that came to me yesterday is that maybe I should have worried more while I was sick, because I touched the grave when I got sick, as the Voice in the Shower explained. I was gravely ill. My fever spiked to almost 103 F. - way too hot for someone of my age. I even took an aspirin to bring it down. I never do that! My entire digestive system shut down. Getting it up and going again was a monumental endeavor. Bloody hell.

Should I have worried? I asked the Voice in the Shower this morning. I swear what I heard in response was a friendly chuckle.

Whatever it was that kept me from consciously acknowledging how ill I was probably helped more than hurt. I went to see the acupuncturist repeatedly, I drank the teas he prescribed. I forced myself to eat and I watched all those Cary Grant movies. I did what I needed to do. Should I have worried? I say no. And anyway, it's over now.

Life is good and I am grateful! L'chaim.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Enough already

Salt on a car and my reflection.

Here ye, here ye! January is actually going to end at some point. Yay!! It has been a long month for me.

In Chinese astrology, the next new moon is also new year's day. These are the waning days of the Black Water Snake year. It figures that wriggling out of the old year would require some effort, but I don't have to like it -- and I haven't liked it. I feel I've shed many skins, what with H1N1. The weather has been like a sandblaster of frigid air, blowing off the old skins whether that's what I want or not. The weather has been cruel. They say it will continue until at least until the end of the month. Oh January, what is up with you?

On January 31st, according to the Chinese calendar, we enter the year of the Green Wood Horse. In order to gallop into the new year, it's a good thing to jettison any extra baggage. In my case I had to let go of a lot. I always have more stuff than I think I do - on every level. I let go physically, emotionally (to some old assumptions) and spiritually. January has done its job, scoured me clean as a whistle. Enough already is what I'm saying. Enough!

What I'm hoping is that the remainder of the month will be less strenuous than the first three weeks of 2014. I said repeatedly at new year's this year - may it be a gentle year. I said it over and over. I was knocking on wood, I guess. The first three weeks have been anything but gentle!

May Brother Wind go back to the North Pole.
May the rains come to California.
May I gather my wits now so as to be ready for the energetic new lunar cycle.

May it be so!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


January feels like it is dragging its heels. Part of that has to do with my now vamoosed case of the flu. But this cold weather is contributing, to be sure. One thing I'm thinking about this morning is that cold slows everything, including time. I know there is no science to substantiate it, but it seems true.

Since it has been unpleasant to walk around, I have decided to dance in alignment with the situation by camping out on my sofa, watching movies. I'm at the tail end of a serious Cary Grant movie bender. I don't need that handsome face for medicinal reasons anymore. Now I'm watching these movies just for fun. He was in a lot of terrible as well as wonderful movies. He certainly worked hard!

Once upon a time I got through winter by watching Hugh Grant movies. It was a holiday season tradition for me, helped me tolerate the season as a single person with no kids and far-flung family. The Hugh Grant movies were medicinal.

I think I've spiraled to a deeper level of whatever it is these movies do for me this year by shifting to Cary Grant. He's the gold standard of whatever medicine I crave at this time of year. Do you know what I'm talking about?

This isn't particularly interesting to think about, but it's all I've got this morning. Oh these January doldrums! I actually think it's healing to take time off from everything sometimes - even inspiration. Soon enough it will warm up a little. I just need to chill out for a few more weeks. I can do this.

We're due for another arctic blast this week. Time will move slowly, my mind will be a blank. I'm grateful that Cary Grant made so many movies.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Bon Appetite

I did a lot of thinking while I was sick. I guess I always do a lot of thinking, but this was different. The illness was unlike anything I've ever suffered from. It could be argued that when I developed pneumonia ten years ago, I was sicker. I even had to take antibiotics, something I hadn't done in thirty years. But the H1N1 was far more frightening.

The Voice in the Shower said, the first day I was well enough to get out of bed, You touched the grave. I touched the grave ... whoa.

It was the fact that I lost my appetite that so unnerved me. I didn't eat for several days, then realized I needed to eat, but I had no enthusiasm for food. I couldn't smell anything and the only thing I could taste in the numerous bowls of chicken soup people brought to me was salt. Everything from my mouth to my ass froze up. My belly was cold to the touch. It was so weird!

One of the things ghosts most often tell me is that they miss smell and taste. They really miss sensation. When I ask if they remember tooth aches and menstrual cramps, they have no idea what I'm talking about. As they remember it, life in a human body is a luxurious experience of sensual pleasures.

When my digestive system shut down, I prayed for sensation, I prayed for enthusiasm. I wanted to be hungry and thirsty, I wanted to taste a flavor other than salt. The first day I realized I was thinking about what to have for lunch, I got so excited. When at last my digestive system was working again, I fell to my knees and thanked God for returning me to health. I even expressed thanks for my characteristically sour stomach. It meant I was really back to myself to feel slightly queasy. Oh yeah!

It was a very dramatic illness. It is so good to be back, to be hungry and thirsty and enthused. When I was a witch we often said, "May we never hunger, may we never thirst." I understand what we meant is that we hoped to never be in need, but as with so many things I did during my years as a witch, that phrase, as it turns out, is a curse. Oops. Mistakes were made!

May we hunger, may we thirst, and may our hungers and thirsts be well satisfied. May it be so!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Gentle Snow

OK so I was wrong about the snow. It happens, especially to me. I grew up in the midwest and am supposed to be great at predicting the weather, but as I always say, the weather predicts me.

Another thing I say about the weather in the American midatlantic is that it is so expressive! The first polar vortex was just a mean deep freeze. We got no snow, and thank god no ice or sleet, both of which never help anything. Ice is pretty, but treacherous, like a charming villain in a movie.

What we got with this storm was beautiful, sparkly, light as a feather snow. I went out repeatedly to sweep the front walk. Most of the day what fell onto my coat while I was sweeping were tiny stars. It was a great snow, a loving, purifying, cleansing, healing snow. I'm with the Inuit - there should be many words for snow. A snowstorm can be scary, boring, beautiful and inspiring or downright depressing. Please don't ask me to explain why or how I know this. Every snow feels distinct in the Reyaverse, and this snow is a very kind snow.

In spite of the snow's beneficence, it's bitterly cold and fiercely windy. Going out for a walk is not much fun. I took a few pictures today but mostly bounced off the walls inside the chateau, where cabin fever is taking hold. It's supposed to warm up this weekend. I hope so.

When spring comes this year I will be mad with happiness. In the meantime I will hunker down and stop complaining. I'm listening to music, candles are burning. In a little while I'll have some of the vegetable chipotle black bean chili I made yesterday, drink a glass of red wine, watch a movie.

I seriously have nothing to complain about! Shalom.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Infamous DC Snow Hole

At the coffee place yesterday, it was warm enough to sit outside without hat or gloves. This dude was trying to stare me down, get me to drop some crumbs. He was not successful because I wasn't eating anything. Hope he has a warm place to hide during the bitter cold days ahead.

It might be a snow day today. They say it will be but it's rather hard to believe - because DC doesn't get much snow even when they swear it will, they being the weather people. My sister Hannah believes that the graphic accompanying every weather report, no matter what they're predicting, should be a person shrugging his or her shoulders. They said it would be a terrible hurricane season, but it wasn't. After the year of drought in the midwest, they predicted the drought would continue, but it didn't - they had more snow that winter than could be believed. In the Reyaverse the weather is the emotional body of this beautiful planet. Is it any wonder that it's unpredictable?

Here they're saying 4"-7" of snow. I am dubious.

Just in case they're right, I went out this morning to hunt and gather. A lot of people were out and about because they closed schools and businesses. It was fun. The snow began just as I opened the gate to the front yard at the chateau, laden with groceries. My timing was pretty sweet.

I'm about to make a vegetarian chili that features butternut squash, chipotles and black beans. I do believe it's going to be cold as fuck, as it was in the midst of the first Polar Vortex, hence a savory chili is the perfect thing to make. I'm also in possession of everything I need to make a sour cream coffee cake. I might get into it this afternoon, roll up my sleeves, turn on some music, and cook.

If we get measurable snow, I will make a snowtini later. But about that I am not holding my breath.

Am I complaining? It isn't how I feel. I'm more resigned to the reality of winter weather in DC. My prediction? A dusting of snow to accompany the bitter cold. I think we might get a decent snow in February or March, which is normal for DC. Imagine me as a weather graphic, shrugging my shoulders. Who knows?

This post is, in a sense, a challenge to the weather gods. I should never do that! Oh well, too late now!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The blessings of old age

My last client today, someone who is about my age, described this part of life as the Ah Fuck It life phase. She had a rather miserable Christmas with her daughter's in-laws and has already decided she won't do that again. Once upon a time she would have agonized about the decision, wondering what was the right thing to do, giving little to no thought about what she actually wanted. This is the saga of mothers. They put others before themselves. I think it's instinctual. But it is possible, at some point, to let go of the selflessness.

After she turned 60, she decided, Ah fuck it - I'm going to receive massage even if my midwestern upbringing taught me therapeutic massage is extravagant or indulgent. For her, receiving massage is life enhancing. You can't believe how important that is after age 60. I can't explain how empty all the old excuses seem, the arguments younger people use on themselves in order to avoid the very things that feed body and soul. Other things seem important during the 30s and 40s. Other things are more important then, I think.

We always hear about how crucial it is to live fully right now, right here, to follow your dreams, to let go and be in the moment, to enjoy. My question is, how do people in their 30s and 40s do that - with children and demanding jobs and mortgages to pay? They don't have time to dream! During earlier adulthood, eyes must be focused on the prize, getting to the top of the mountain, expanding the fiefdom, having the children, excelling at everything. Letting go is out of the question to a 35 year old. C'mon.

I think early adulthood is really hard. I think people need to flop around, try hard, exert themselves, including the banging of the head on the wall sometimes. It's part of our developmental process as humans. It is not an easy time even though everyone tells you that those years should be the happiest time of your life. How maddening.

After 50, things change. The 50s are definitely the happy hour of life, an awesome decade. The 60s (so far) seem both better and worse. It's easier to do all the things we're supposed to do, like not worry what other people think, like releasing control over projects, possessions and relationships that do not feed the soul. It is so liberating!

I feel sad when I remember that neither of my parents lived long enough to rejoice in the Ah Fuck It stage of life. They just couldn't make it. Getting old is not exactly easy but it is worth it. I wish they had stuck around long enough to experience this.

The Voice in the Shower says to me almost every day, These are the days of your life. There is a way in which it's impossible to know that earlier in life - at least it was not possible for me. I was too busy!

These days, I luxuriate in the Ah Fuck It stage of life. It's poignant, though, realizing how fast it all goes by.

I am grateful for every day, I surely am. Shalom.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Go back to the North Pole, Brother Wind

I had never heard the term Polar Vortex until right after the new year this year. It's an old term, new in popular usage, though. Arctic Blast is what they used to call a deep cold snap, right? Both terms are scary, if you ask me.

Because the weather and I are like this (fingers pressed together), it's poetic that I came down with the heinous, hideous, horrible Swine Flu in exact alignment with the blast of polar air. My main symptoms were exactly like the weather: I had the chills and a cough. (One feature of the vortex was an evil wind, like a cough, gusting as it did.) Though I had a very high fever, I could not get warm. I was like Heidi, dressed in layer after layer, hiding under two comforters, sleeping in a hat. I had the heat turned up to eleven (my Pepco bill this month is going to be scary). And still I was so cold.

My main wish for 2014 is for a gentle year. Not included in my ideas of "gentle" are polar vortexes or H1N1. Is my wish for the year nothing more than that - wishful thinking? I hope not! But it might be.

Now they're saying we're going to have yet another one of these frigid cold spells, mid-week. And I, a great lover of winter (or so I say), do not look forward to it. Maybe it would be more fun if we got snow here in DC, I'm not sure. One thing I know is that I will welcome this spring with open arms, I seriously will.

In the meantime we have February to contend with. I'm thinking it's going to take a hell of a lot of poetry at Candlemas to break the ice around the heart of the earth, to remind her of spring.

It's a winter of hibernation behaviors. I'm spending a lot of the time on the couch. To keep myself amused, I watched a bunch of movies from the 1930s which are really bizarre and usually either confusing or deeply depressing. I switched the other day from the 30s to the 40s and 50s. I'm deep into a Cary Grant movie marathon (which is much more cheerful) as I wait for warmer days.

Oh 2014, please be gentle - please? I'm begging you.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

I gotta be me

Hello. My name is Reya and I am a blogger. I've been a blogger for ages, since way before blogging, since before the internet. By blogger what I mean is that I'm the kind of artist who relishes free, public displays of creative expression.

As a kid, I painted murals on the walls of my bedroom, out in the garage, on the sidewalks (with chalk, not paint). Later I bought small squares of advertising space in weekly rags in which I either wrote something or drew something. I loved the unedited, uncurated space. I paid for it, I could put anything I wanted there. Once I left it completely blank. I was so avant garde!

When the first street artists, like Keith Haring and Jean Basquiat, came into the mainstream, I immediately fell in love with that form. About ten years ago when I learned about blogging from my niece, I was all over it immediately. I had been writing and emailing essays to my friends and family for awhile, a practice that now seems forced, more like spamming than blogging. Blogs are not required reading, not ever. I love that.

In the blog world, I flourished. I met people from all over the world, many of whom have become "real life" friends. At the height of the DC blog scene, I attended blog happy hours as often as I could. That was a golden era that came to an end - as all things must. It was glorious while it lasted.

I closed my old blog at the end of 2013. It was well past its expiration date and I was posting less and less frequently. You might wonder what has inspired me to create this new blog. My answer is: I am Reya and I am a blogger. The practice of writing, of publishing as an offering, does me a world of good. I've missed the practice and so I am back.

It will take me awhile to figure out how I want this new blog to look. I'm eager to connect with other bloggers again, to come fully back into this lovely, quirky community. It's good to be back, it surely is.