Who am I?

Last night
Lying curled up
Quiet in the dark
cocoon of my
sleeping bag
I heard the owl’s call
somewhere outside my window
in the trees.

Whooo whoo
What is its meaning?
To me? With this confusion?
Then I realized.
Are you reaching out to the sound?
Or is it just there?
What is the meaning?
For me?
The owl’s calling–oh, reaching out to
an object
outside of me.
The owl’s call–oh, wait, is me
Arrow piercing the veil
There is nothing more
to know.

This practice has mostly
searching for the
meaning of
the owl’s call
How foolish
A single thought
sweeps me into
a forgotten land, a forgotten life,
a dream, a mirage, complete
hollowness, a solitary tower of
I am lost. Lost.
For how long has
my practice been lost
this way? How long
have I been

A single realization,
I want to know who I am. . .
intimate, profound, ordinary, warted.
Not turn away from the
most precious,
mysterious subject of
my practicing.

Lost, not lost, loses its meaning,
becomes a jewel,
precious and holy with this

This morning
I stepped outside and walked
just for me
and nothing else
Step. Step. Foot. Foot. Precious.
The world that is
always alive
awakened in me
Robust, diverse, full,
so many voices, sounds,
all happening, happening
The bright green sedum
soft under my feet
Clouds whisping
Mt. Baker’s jutting rocks

horse chestnut tree
tender, young, wrapped in
white piping
Her love
my love
perfuming my heart
alive together
A woman I never knew
How is this?

I want to know me
The veil–
I pull it across
my field of vision
as I look to the horizon
but something deeper
pierces through
and I slip, stumble, lose my breath,
cannot see clearly
May I rest here.
Right here in the midst of
boundless me.
Boundless mystery.
Knowing nothing, nothing,
yet held
within the energy of a
deep longing.
The longing of a
universe wanting to know
“Who am I?”

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Sweet Betty’s

mom and the girls
out to Sweet Betty’s.
Full with banana crepes
I posed a question
I was struggling with.

My sisters
sat up
leaned forward
listened attentively
offered me their

Go to the woman.
Tell her how
what she is doing is
making you feel.
Many people are not so
don’t realize the impact of
their behavior,
act out of fear.
Their own deep fears.

My sisters and I,
we talk about
such things.

As well as the
everyday stuff.
My son bought a new car.
My granddaughter went snowboarding.
It’s time to preen the yard,
cut back the ivy.

Every Saturday morning
in Gresham,
breakfast happens at
Sweet Betty’s.

I am fortunate
to have
such a
deep well
A place to land.
A place to relax.
A place to be me.
A place to belong.

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The Masters’ Words

Into bones
The masters’ words
Stiff & brittle
Cracks & crevices
Bathed in silence, softness,

Renewed form
From webs
so tight
a strangled voice
utters no sounds

No place to go
No escape from
tangled thoughts
The masters’ words
Renewed form
Folds them in
Melts into silence, softness, light

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Les Mis

Last night my husband and I saw Les Miserables at the movie theater. We hardly ever go, but our kids gave us gift cards to the Regal Cinemas. Can’t turn down free tickets 🙂 And I cried most of the way through. I wish I would have stuffed more hankies into my pocket before I left home. Why? What moved me?

For twenty minutes before the movie started we listened to ads for maybe a dozen movies. Not one that I would want to see. Insulting comedies or end-of-the-world type action shows with lots of violence and killing made viewable for “appropriate” audiences. These types of movies are popular, yet they are not really for me.

But Les Miserables. My heart melted. I admit I have never read the book. It was too long. Too historically detailed. I never could get into it. However, the screen play brought Victor Hugo’s story to life for me. The beauty of the characters, the people, who could love without hatred or envy or greed, who were willing to run or to die or to suffer for something bigger than themselves, or for the ones they loved. Even to hang themselves upon the crucible of the law. This is what we are as humans at our most raw, at our most hopeful, at our most complex, at our best.

Sitting there in that movie theater, soggy hankie in hand, tears streaming down my cheeks, absorbed into Fantine’s heart-wrenching singing of her life story as she lay broken in the box of her wretchedness, I realized that this is what I wish for my own writing. To touch into the truth of what we live through as humans, to not be ashamed of my own hope or despair or inspiration, to not be afraid to share it, and to bring it vividly to life because it is begging to be spoken and I can’t not do it. It takes courage. And this is what I wish for myself.

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A Letter to Myself

Last year, on January 1st, this question came to me, “Sad girl, why do you stop me from doing things?”

This year, came a letter to myself:

Let this person
who she needs
to be

If she was not
allowed this when
she was very small

It may be difficult
for her to
find her way
through thickets
of tearing
terrifying brambles

Give her space
Give her encouragement
Give her compassion
Help her to hold herself
accountable to

Provide her with
tools to heal her
wounds and
her delusions

So she can feel
the warm sun
on her skin
smell the sweet
fresh air as it flows
into her lungs
taste freedom
through her sincere
and realize she is not
a single thing

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From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.

In Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution

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The Look

It was the LOOK
smashed me to pieces
broke the trust
shamed me
created immobility
out of my
fear and helplessness.

I trusted my
high school teacher
worked with her on
dramatic interpretive pieces
that dug deep into
my vulnerabilities,
exposed me.

And then she laughed,
said she didn’t believe me…
About being RAPED
As if I made it all up
As if it never really happened
As if I was covering up being a
bad girl.
A deep violation
took in
the second arrow
opened a new wound
in a tender,

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From Marie-Louise von Franz

By grabbing their own fantasies and pulling them too eagerly into the light of consciousness and by interpreting them at once with too much intensity, many people destroy their secret inner life.

Creativity sometimes needs the protection of darkness, of being ignored. . . . Thus if you notice an unconscious fantasy coming up within you, you would be wise not to interpret it at once. Do not say that you know what it is and force it into consciousness. Just let it live with you, leaving it in the half-dark, carry it with you and watch where it is going or what it is driving at. Much later you will look back and wonder what you were doing all that time, that you were nursing a strange fantasy which then led to some unexpected goal. . . . don’t think, “I know what that means!” If you do, then push the thought away and just give yourself to it more and more so that the whole web of symbols expands in all its ramifications before you jump at its essential meaning.

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As the Trap Door Opens

“Write about a longing.” For something I lost. From my childhood times, something of me faded, muted, disappeared. Vivid, colorful visualizing: symbolic conjuring of songs, ideas, feelings, landscapes that came as easily to my mind as words came to my lips.

I remember as a first grader listening to my dad’s music on his record player. Johnny Cash. I Walk the Line. . . . I envisioned a person, a smallish, cartoonish figure wearing boys clothes, a round-billed cap, and brown-leather, round-toed boots, walking along a railroad track raised high above the surrounding sagebrush and open ranges, and stretching out into the endless forever.  Whenever I heard that song, this is what I saw. My dad bought me drawing paper and special coloring pencils to sketch the images I talked about swirling around in my head. I drew my visualizations to all those songs on that pad of paper. I was simply, wildly engrossed in the images of my mind and loved recreating them with lines, colors and texture.

Somewhere along the way, though, I lost that vibrant, intuitive conjuring. Buried for so many years, no doubt, underneath adult responsibilities that gave it no space, no time. But something in me was sad. Something was missed. Oh, they came up every now and then. But circuitously it seemed, by way of a brambly, overgrown, nearly-forgotten path—like the path leading up to Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Perrault’s fairy tale. For one hundred years she slept, and the path to her castle—even to her room inside the castle—became quite impassable.

As the visualizing and visions gradually faded, the sense of them lingered. How does one long for that forgotten world she now barely senses? Like a phantom conjured from an inexplicable nowhere, it danced as a visionary flower in the air. Teasing, taunting, but disappearing in a puff whenever she tried to grasp at it. In 2008, at a retreat center near the foot of Mt. Baker, I started a book of charcoal sketches. Most of the time I spent sitting in front of an empty page, pencil in hand, wishing for an image to arise, then finally putting the pencil tip down on paper and beginning to draw. Not knowing what would come up. My hand was hesitant, disconnected, unsure. This was different from those early years of prolific images. Perhaps reflecting the hesitancies of a worn, lost soul.

Lately, though, its seems that this visualization practice stirs strong in me, stretches, wakes up. This morning I found myself caught in a bear trap as images of my former boss came to mind, memories of how he used my expressions—half listened-to and mostly misinterpreted, as judgments and actions against me. A huge, wide-open bear trap snapped shut, with my whole body—less than one-fourth its size—caught in its massive, rusty jaws. I smiled at how I could be caught in someone else’s enormous, rusty, mental trap. Interestingly,  “Bear Trap” was the name of a song my dad wrote when our family lived on Eastman Street in Gresham, Oregon, during the 70s. Yesterday, in writing for a prompt, visualizations of a kaleidoscope, tangled ball of yarn, my grandmother’s dark cellar, and tendrils of a growing kombucha all made their way through my mind’s eye.

From bear trap, to the door of my grandmother’s dark, pungent, earthen cellar, I feel a trap door opening wide to my inner self. I feel the brambles of an overgrown path clearing away. Spring air blowing through. Stirring. Freshening. Somehow allowing the symbolic images of a mysterious, unknowable, uncreated space to float freely past my mind’s eye, and to open me up to deeper truths.

Until recently, I had forgotten about the drawings to music, the visualizations, of my childhood. Unlike my friend, Brother Mark, I had not saved any of those pieces. Brother Mark re-discovered his childhood drawings after his mother died, and found that they eerily plotted the path of his life even up ‘til now. While he had been journaling the major storylines of his life since the early 70s, he was surprised to discover how the valleys and mountains, chapters and stepping stones, he had marked in his journal were each represented by a separate childhood drawing. As we talked about these over the years, I wished to myself that I had kept some of my own youthful drawings. School drawings, perhaps, with messages hidden in the houses and family scenes we were asked to sketch. What secrets might they hold for me? I had forgotten about the music and the visions, until I began writing from prompts every morning and, one morning, wrote about something lost. Turns out they are still around—not on paper, but somewhere in my mind. What are the messages they carry for me, these route markers on the path of transformation and growth? Carl Jung wrote about the dreams, images and sensations that populated his youth:

 Today I can say that I have never lost touch with my initial experiences. All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost 50 years ago. Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images.

What happens if we do lose touch with these precious, initial experiences? Are they lost? Gone forever? Though I lost conscious touch with mine, they do appear to live on in me. Perhaps my life’s path has been guided by those early intuitions and visions. And perhaps because I am developing a greater capacity to be present in more moments, or perhaps because my daily writing and creativity practices are freeing an inner muse—who really knows. . . I catch some of the visions, familiar or new, morphed or fresh, before they fade away. As the trap door opens wider, I reconnect more richly with that womb of images, metaphors, symbols, and non-linear, non-rational thinking/ feeling/ sensing that knows no past, present or future. I Walk the Line. The line of what? Of where? Of when? Questions with no answers, except, perhaps, in the living out of, or into, a beginningless, endless, mysterious, deep-soul longing. Nothing and no one is lost, ever.

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You little
You’ll ruin
It’s not real
It’s not real
It’s not real
It’s not real

Can no one HEAR
this small child

It is


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