Maitri Libellule

“Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”

~ Mark Victor Hansen ~

I woke up recently and realized that I have been waiting to live my life. My finances were not in good shape. I've gained quite a lot of weight, and my cottage is a mess. I've been waiting for that one perfect day to make it all come together in some magical perfect way and the longer I waited the further and further I drifted away from my goals. I was in a sorry state and I had let myself slide right into it. It wasn't all conscious, and I had many "good excuses," but you can't wait to lose weight until your mother dies, allowing yourself to wallow in grief and depression. You can't wait to get your finances in order, for your own peace of mind and stability. And you can't wait to cleanse and purge your life of all that has been weighing you down. You'll be six feet under and on your tomb stone it will say, "I might have made it, if only I'd tried." Or so I imagine it would have been for me if God had not spoken to me so loudly the walls shook, and angels on both shoulders were tugging at my hair saying c'mon, c'mon, let's get to gettin'. Geez. Alright already.

I got counselors to help me with my finances. Today I joined Nutrisystem. I have been, quite inexplicably, cleaning my house. Even the pugs look at me as if they are proud of me. Now that's something. Impressing a pug is no small feat.

And so tonight I am drifting on clouds a bit. And I'm making pages of notes full of things to be done. I've done quite a bit of cleaning, made several important calls, and promised myself that I would update both of my blogs this evening. This one is easier because they are short pieces of things that occur to me in the moment. My dear blog, the blog closest to my heart, Maitri's Heart, are longer writings, very deep for me, intensely felt, full of deep truths for me in my current life. Things I'm learning and things I want to share. Sometimes it takes me days to come to what feels right there, and as my mother has been in and out of the hospital 4 times in the last 2 weeks, my heart has hurt too much to stay there long. But, as I've written before, my mother, through 4 1/2 years of cancer, going through the worst of it, would tell you if you called her and asked how she was, "Every day's a good day, it is what you make it." How can I not follow her example?

And so tonight I will feel really good about myself. I may be just at the beginning of many of these changes, but I think that more than half the battle is simply making a firm decision to do it. When I got off the phone after signing up with Nutrisystem, I don't think my feet touched the ground. Amen. Hallelujah.

In one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books which we read many times over to our children, and I now read to my grandson -- Marvin K. Mooney -- Seuss wrote, "The time has come, the time is now, Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now!"

I'm going Dr. Seuss. I'm going...

Onwards and Upwards!

Maitri Libellule
Where Did They Go?

They went to the place words go when you feel empty inside, and kind of numb and sort of depressed and you need to COME BACK TO LIFE!!!

I let my little kid inside come out and play!!!

It's this kind of time that I need to turn to the wordless pursuits and my paints have been calling me.

Now, mind, I am not an artiste, no, I am a 55 year old woman who wanted to be an artist as a little girl but got bad grades and raps on the knuckles by a nun who taught art class because I "colored wrong." (Purple trees with orange leaves, people with 2 different colored eyes and socks that didn't match, pink dogs, periwinkle blue cats... my favorite colors in the big box of crayons were always magenta and periwinkle blue... it makes me feel tinkly and giggly inside just thinking about it...)

I don't paint much differently these days and am very shy to show them to people. They are little girl paintings. They let JOY out. They make me giggle. I even smile. My paints mostly look messy like this...

... and my brushes kinda look like this...

... and most of my watercolor paint sets are for kids except a couple of sets of better watercolors that have deeper and more vivid colors.

I have books and books and books of funny dear little drawings. I feel very tenderly toward them. I have decided to do a painting a day, and I might need to be sharing those here until my words come back, and don't laugh and be nice because they are shy little paintings and I am working harder at finding my way in more visual forms. Sometimes my brain gets tired from words, like when your mother is dying you run out of words like an air out of a balloon, or when you feel lonely on a Saturday night because they one you love is far away and you haven't been able to talk in a long time. Sometimes it's just good to paint.

I can paint outside the lines if I want to. I can paint turquoise hair if I want to. I can stand on my head and paint if I want to. I can let Sampson my velcro pug paint with his paw if I want to. So there Sister ______. He he he...

Ok, here's one wee little painting I must have done lying down on my side. It must have been a contemplative "lying on your side" sort of day. It asks a question. Can you answer it? If you can leave a note after this post...

Don't you wish you had a cup like that? I need BIG cups for my lattes.

I'd chat more but I ran out of words and now I'm going to paint. You can paint too if you want to. You can get kids paint boxes cheap at the drugstore, and your paintings will be perfectly sublime because they are yours. I know mine are. He he he...

Maitri, having a play day...

Maitri Libellule

Today is one of my "out" days, meaning, as I barely leave the house, when I do I try to get a jillion things done so I don't have to go out again, sometimes for days. Being a reclusive artist and writer makes for a peaceful and soothing life, except on days like today.

Now, the day started off wonderfully well when my sweet daughter Rachel, my middle child and mother of my precious 5 year old grandson, came over for coffee after dropping Lukie off at pre-school. This was a very precious time to me because Rachel is working on her Master's Degree (she work's with autistic children) in Clinical Psychology and with her family besides life is pretty hectic for her. Added to the fact that she is the only one of my three children that live in town, our morning coffee's are very special.

The day continued on very nicely when I went to babysit said grandson while Rachel was working with her little kids for part of her Master's thesis, and I got to spend time with my wee little man. It was afterwards that the tension rose and my body fell.

I go to Sam's to get my meds because they are so cheap there and do a fair amount of my grocery shopping there as well, and I go about twice a month, always after babysitting. As you walk something like 1500 miles to get everything on your list, and then stand in line for 3 days to check out, and with my stamina flagging, I decided to sit down for a minute in an especially comfy looking recliner. Ooooh, the soft cream colored material, the chair plush and plump and I think my sigh was heard across the entire store as I sat down. I made the mistake of cranking up the foot rest and I thought, "I am never going to get out of this chair. I am going to spend the night here. Maybe 3. They will have to remove me bodily and I will likely get arrested. I wonder if Jeff will bail me out of jail for refusing to get out of a recliner in Sam's? I wonder what kind of fee this crime will cost me?

Finally, I remembered the five dogs at home who were probably, by now, desperate to go out, or worse had gone in. I hauled myself up and out of that recliner woefully, shedding a tear, and pushed my cart up to the front where I believe I was 70th in line. They filled my refillable bags and I wheeled them out to the van and prayed that 10 strong men would show up to put the huge, heavy bags in the van. No luck. I moaned and groaned and it likely sounded like an animal was being killed what with all the noise I made getting them in the car.

It felt so good to sit in the car I thought I might not have the energy to turn it on and start it up, especially since I knew that once I arrived home I would have 5 dogs hurling themselves at me while I shouted, "Mommy's Hooooo-oooommmme." There is a frantic shuffling about with me trying to set down the first bag while trying not to trip over 4 pugs, and then get them all out the door with Moe tagging along wondering if the pugs might ever disappear if he closed his eyes and wished hard enough. I go, bedraggled, with the dogs and my handy dandy plastic bag to do "Poody Doody," and once all the little hooligans are back in I get the rest of the groceries. I put all the refrigerated and frozen foods away, left the 3 Sam's reusable bags sitting in the kitchen floor, and, hurting all over I got a glass of wine and sat in my chair. Sam, my velcro pug, flew up into the chair happy that I was home and he could drape himself over my shoulder. He always acts like he's sure I'm never coming back, even though I only leave the house at most 2 afternoons a week. We are both sitting here together, sluglike, and now I don't know if I can ply myself out of this chair.

Ah, but there are groceries to put away, a shower to be had, a clean but soft raggedy caftan to put on, dinner to be made and dishes to do. And then I will sit like a rutabaga watching mindless t.v. until I fall asleep, most likely, right in this chair. If I root in place and start sprouting you may never hear from me again, but most likely you shall since the dogs get me up for the first time between 6 and 6:30.

It is now nearly 9 p.m. and I have not done any of the above so I guess I shall have to stop here and get my evening chores done before I poop out completely. If I can just get up out of this chair, which at this juncture is looking more doubtful all the time...

Maitri Libellule
My favorite piece of house
cleaning equipment...

Well, I'm taking a leap out into that iffy world where one admits their faults, foibles, and peculiar oddities...

I am a lousy house-keeper. For years I've liked to think of it as being "artsy." Ahem. I mean, my house is not filthy, it is more the clutter than anything else. But when you are a writer, an artist -- fiber, paper, beads, handmade books, etc -- and you have more parrots and pugs than you can count, and seeds and pug hair are everywhere, you have to, well, do things differently than if you were a common Jane who no matter whether she was a housewife or the CEO of a major corporation, still likes to have a house as neat and clean as the dear women of the fifties did.

I am 55, I was born in 1954, I did not get the gene, and frankly, those were the days -- and it was very common then -- that a lot of people had maids. Even the Brady Bunch had one. We had a full-time maid and for 35 years I've been waiting for her to come rescue me. One day I woke up and realized that she was not coming. It was quite a blow. I sobbed for days. Then I looked around this little art and animal filled cottage and thought, sheez, how will I ever do this. And then I had a thought. Yes, a peculiar thought. I think I must have had the look of a mad scientist on my face because the dogs went running and cowering in every direction, the parrots hid in their furry nighty-night tunnels, and well, Mama got out the leaf blower! Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha....

As I have mentioned before, all of the old nasty carpet was cut out of the downstairs and gotten rid of. The concrete was cleaned and painted. All of a sudden I had lots of space and concrete floors. Such a glorious sense of spaciousness. BUT, when the birds drop seed from their cages now the seeds hit the slick concrete floor and go about five miles in every direction. Tufts of pug hair, like dust bunnies under the bed, all of a sudden seem to appear in every corner and along the walls. I got tired of sweeping all the time (Okay, I didn't sweep ALL the time...) and just at the brink of despair I had an idea. Like the Grinch I had a terrible, awful idea. My mother, I can guarantee you, would be horrified.

I straightened up and cleared up the best I could and then I started at the front door (in my tiny place when you come in the front door you can see straight out the back door), revved up that leaf blower, and baby, I nearly blew everything but my 400 pound chair right out the door. Took 5 minutes. You've never seen cleaner floors in your life. Boy, was I smug.

It dawned on me that this is a brand new age, and not only can you come up with unusual cleaning tips that fit your circumstances, you can LIVE LIKE YOU WANT TO. Now before coming up with an answer too quickly, stop and think. What is your long-held dream about where you've always wanted to live? The possibilities are endless, and some of our dreams are not possible, yet, due to our circumstances, but that doesn't mean we can't implement many of the themes of our dreams into our own little dwelling.

What I've realized is that one of my dreams has been to live in one of those Soho like huge lofts where they have the old elevators that look like freight elevators that open up right on your floor. The whole thing looks like a warehouse, and other than private areas partitioned off, the huge space enables you to do absolutely anything you want to. I always tell people, and this is not an overstatement, that I don't work at home, I live in my studio. Well, this has always been the case, but it's about to become even more so.

The concrete floors and lack of furniture downstairs actually gives one a bit of a warehouse feel. I am about to make my whole downstairs a studio, and the upstairs will be the bedroom, full bath and the former studio, so small I couldn't get around in it or work in it anymore, is being cleaned out for a cozy little den. A dear one is giving me her used but still very nice looking over-stuffed couch and love-seat. Another friend has an old tv they are not using. We're going to pull some things out of the attic, and I can turn the lights out downstairs after the dogs are out for the last time and ascend the stairs to my private quarters.

The former "living room" which hasn't looked like one for some long time, is going to be a full on working studio. I have a corner where my computer table, books, shelves, printer, drawers full of yarn and fiber, etc, already exist. We are going to move my favorite, 1930's wooden table, sky blue and worn in many places, downstairs for what I call my "small work" -- painting, jewelry making, doing small pieces of fiber art that require the threading in of beads, buttons and whatnots with my ancient wooden toolbox that I found in a barn and bought for almost nothing, and is one of my most cherished possessions, sitting at the back of the table. It holds ink bottles galore, vintage and very old dip pens, paint boxes, paint brushes, little jars of this and that, sketch books, etc, and is so heavy that set toward the back of this table it makes the table even steadier and won't allow anything to roll off. Here is a picture of me creating one of my wild-woman pins awhile back in this space, which will soon be set up down here not far from where I'm sitting.

Tallulah, wild woman pin woven on a small
handmade loom, and embellished with
and antique buttons and beads.

Another area that will be set up is space for my big Ashford tapestry loom. I will hang the handspun and hand-dyed wool yarns for my weaving that you see below (when it was set up in my upstairs studio) on the wall behind the loom and it will give me great joy to have it here near me. The nice thing about weaving a piece this big is that you can work on it awhile and then leave it to go do another project or write for awhile and you don't "lose your place." I can just move from space to space. Writing, weaving, small work, and last but not least, my beloved Gertrude.

The tapestry loom and yarns a'waiting...

Gertrude is my beloved old Country Spinner spinning wheel from Ashford, an older one with only one treadle. The thing is, while I have almost 50 spindles and have done exclusively one-of-a-kind yarns on a hand spindle...

... I have long wanted to get going on my spinning wheel but I haven't been able to get the hang of it on my own. Well, now I'm determined. I have a virtual barn full of beautiful fibers, some already dyed and some I still have to clean and dye, that the only way I am going to spin enough yarn to make it worth selling -- and all of this is moving toward selling my art online again -- is to use a wheel to be able to spin faster. I will always use my beloved hand-spindles, especially because I do custom orders for people and blend up to twelve different fibers in one yarn. Blending that many, I find, works very well on hand-spindles. But I long to get going on Gertrude...


Herself again...

So there will be a real artist's studio downstairs, living quarters upstairs, and the leaf-blower a-goin' to keep these concrete floors livable. You've no idea how bad it hurts to step on teeny-tiny birdseed in bare feet. Phew. Some of it cuts like glass! And I'm here to tell you that if you need to eliminate stress, blasting through your house like The Terminator with a leaf blower really lets The Mad Scientist in you come out and play and then feel calm for the rest of the day. Or almost.

Today we are starting to move more pieces of the studio downstairs. I'm so excited. This is the kind of work that is sheer joy. And from a practical point of view since I cannot work outside the home, if I can't work, I'm sunk. And I haven't been able to work well with everything hither and yon, unable to get to it, spread out into every corner of the cottage. Now, I will. Onwards and upwards. I'll share pictures when it's all together!

Maitri Libellule

The sublime Monday morning lattè...

Mondays are full of promise ... a new week full of potent possibility abundant, a week where anything might happen, a time to wipe the slate clean and start again. And we have the pen in our hand and can write our own story. I love Mondays. I think Monday is my favorite day of the week.

And the lattè... OH, the lattè! I wrote about the debacle with my poor French Press, I was way too hard on it. And the thing is, after a few days I got the hang of it and oh, yes, I remembered how wonderful French Press coffee really is, and it is strong enough to hold up well as iced coffee later. It makes wonderful iced coffee because it doesn't get watered down. Of course it will eat the enamel off your teeth in about 5 seconds, and your eyes will be big and round as a dinner plate all day, accompanied by shakes and jitters. But wow, what a great cup of coffee. And you've got to use real half and half with it. It scoffs at milk and you can't even taste it. Milk just makes it taste yucky.

However, April 30 was my birthday and my dear friend Jeff brought me a new espresso machine. I danced about in delight and went on in an unseemly manner and then I saw, out of the corner of my eye, my poor little French Press, shrugging it's shoulders, with a little tear on it's spout. I patted it and promised it I would still use it, and I will. It will make delightful iced coffee over the summer, and just for good measure, variety, and the delicate psyche of the French Press, will have French Press coffee now and again.

We are having a rainstorm here and it's such a relief, we need rain so badly. I can hear the garden sighing in relief. I don't like to water unless things are really dire because I'm big on water conservation, but doggone it when something starts to wilt and die just as it's coming into it's prime, then I have to step in. This kind of rain, which is supposed to go on all day, will soak the garden deeply, and I can't wait until the rain stops later today to go out and watch the droplets of water clinging to green leaves and dripping off, and the plants looking so dewy and refreshed. Even as it is raining I look out the window and everything seems greener.

Last night I updated my other blog, Maitri's Heart, and I told my readers about a wonderful poster designed by my friend Leonie. She has a fabulous website and when you click on her name you will go to the page on her site with the free poster called "12 Key Zen Habits." The poster is beautiful and whimsical and you can download it to your desktop for inspiration. I did so and am going to follow these quick easy points. It is Monday, it is a new week, and Leonie's poster is my guiding star for this week. You can read more about my thoughts on this as a life theme on Maitri's Heart.

Gracious, there's a break in the rain and a bit of sun. What this means is that I have to stop here and rush out the door with one big black dog and four tiny puglets. They won't go out to potty in the rain. You have to look for any window between rainstorms to rush them out to go. Here we go, "Moe, Sam, Babs, Coco, Harvey, let's get shakin'!" Chop, chop, it will be raining again any minute!

Maitri Libellule
You know how fighting fish do it? They blow bubbles and in each one of those bubbles is an egg and they float the egg up to the surface. They keep this whole heavy nest of eggs floating, and they're constantly repairing it. It's as if they live in both elements.

~ Audre Lorde ~

I have been living in two elements, parallel universes. I can see through one bubble into another and another and another. I have lived with many beta fish (fighting fish) and it is truly a wonder to see them when it's time to mate. The male tends the eggs, blowing a thick layer of bubbles and guarding them with his life.

We live in bubbles too, but rarely do we realize it. In the past few days one of my bubbles burst, a big one, and as I was slipping into a kind of despair I saw through that bubble to another one still intact with a rainbow egg inside. We are surrounded by bubbles that hold our dreams. Some will burst and some will float us out of our present reality and into another. The wonderful thing is that there are more and more and more bubbles all around us. Sometimes we are led to what feels like our ultimate dream and when the bubble bursts, we despair, but what if we were drawn to that bubble so that when it burst we could see our way to our true heart's desire? These are things I have been wondering about the last few days.

I had wanted, and planned, to move to Asheville, NC. I would still like to be there, but rather than sooner, it will be later. I can't move with my mother on the brink of dying, and there will be much to settle when the time comes. There are family members here and a move to arrange and it's harder when you are not married/partnered/have no help, and know no one there. That doesn't mean I won't do it. I went to Colorado on my own years back when I was accepted to Naropa University, the school of my dreams. I was then in my late forties. I knew no one and I arranged the whole move myself. It was wonderful.

So perhaps that bubble didn't burst, but got pushed back amongst the other bubbles, waiting to come to gestation until the time is right. There is so much here to love and feel grateful for.

Right now I am looking at a wonderful wild funky painting of a woman and a flamingo on my wall. I am looking at a piece of weaving I am very proud of. It took me many months to do it because it was a very intricate design. It was called Ariadne's web.

Made on a 1950's potholder loom, the circular
pattern of the weaving was painfully difficult as
I got to the center...

But perhaps that's how life is. As we get closer to our dreams, we are more challenged, perhaps moreso because we are being tested. Go slowly. Think of all the angles and the difficult turns in the road. Is it worth it, should I do it? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. I'm too far from the center to know right now, in my haste to extricate myself from too much pain here, I was rushing toward what I thought would be relief and peace, but there is no way around that weaving to the middle to know the truth. The truth is that the time is not right.

Weaving is sacred to me, never without a purpose, requiring concentration, skill, and mostly heart. I don't know what I am making when I start, but the story is revealed along the way. So it was with Ariadne. And so I begin again this night to weave, and in so doing, I will find my way home.

Keep believing, keep dreaming, but don't let a seeming delay in your plan discourage you. Look through to the next bubble, and see what still needs to be done before you can get there. Revel in your dreams, cherish the present, allow the continuum to flow with grace...


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Maitri Libellule
What if... you knew you were meant to be some place other than where you were? What if you were born in the mountains (in your heart, mind and gut), and had lived in two different mountain regions, the happiest, most grounded times of your life? What if you were 55, unhappy where you were, it seemed like as difficult a climb to reach your dream as to reach the mountain itself, but you knew you had to be there? What if?

In the last bit of time, my closest friend and I have talked about leaving this town where we both live, longing for other places. We will be heading in two different directions and no one knows but he and I what my heart longs for. It is not the time to tell anyone yet. We are riding big waves right now, coming in close to shore to face my mother's impending death. Time, it's all about timing...

I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the country for 11 years. I traveled to New Mexico in 1990 and high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains I felt I'd found my destiny. I fell on my knees and I cried. I didn't want to go home, but of course I went. I was married with beautiful children and there was no question, then, what I should do. For twenty years I have wanted to live in New Mexico, but now it is too far, too expensive, too distant a dream.

In the year 2000 I moved to Colorado for a time, and rented an old farmhouse facing the Rocky Mountains. I would sit out on the wide front porch early in the morning on my old 1940's glider and have my coffee and wonder how I had ended up in Paradise yet again. My time there was short lived and I wept when I had to leave those mountains to come back to my ocean town. A lovely little city, a water city, with the Cape Fear River on one side and the beautiful North Carolina beaches on the Atlantic ocean on the other. Beautiful, but not for me. I need mountains. I need snow and cooler weather, not near tropical weather where the heat is past dreadful and there really aren't four seasons. I said it when we moved here in November 1992, "There's something wrong with living some place that you can get your Christmas tree wearing shorts." No, this has never been home to me, not ever. I don't want to die here one day.

I love Folk music dearly, and so when I saw a movie that I could rent called The Songcatcher I rented it, not knowing where it had been filmed or what the film was about except mountain music and a woman who went to study it. When the movie started I sat in shock to see that the movie was filmed in the exact location I have been telling my friend that I wanted to move. I was awestruck and tried to breathe the mountain air in through the screen. I wanted so badly for the movie never to end, and I felt a great sense of loss when it did.

I have such dreams. To live out my life in a little place in the mountains, to see it snow outside my windows as I decorate the tree, parrots and dogs all around me, a pot of soup bubbling on the stove, in the middle of writing my book with a basket of fiber and spinning wheel at my side. I have this dream and I intend to make it a reality.

After the movie ended, sitting in the silence, the room was too still and my emotions were rising too high, undone by the movie and being struck head on by images of the very place I've longed to see in person. I have been there before. Been through the area several times. Now, it is the Smoky Mountains that call to me, a town with rich culture, artisans of every type, the holy smoke anointing the sky over the mountain range, a place where a woman could plant flowers and herbs and vegetables, and pray. A place where a woman could write and perhaps look out of her window to see a doe and her fawn nosing about in the grass. A place so unimaginably beautiful it makes your heart beat faster and there is a lilt to your voice when you speak of it, joy floods your body like a warm river, hope of a new life, a new start, a chance at life when you thought you had given up. I need the mountain air to breathe. I need the rolling hills and mountain tops to feel safe. I am a mountain woman in a flat town surrounded by water. I have been drowning here.

Finally I decided it was too silent. 1 a.m. on a Saturday night, my heart was aching, and I couldn't imagine breaking the silence with the television and couldn't fathom that there would be anything of interest on but I turned it on, a sleeping pug draped over my right side, Big Dog Moe asleep on his bed next to me on the floor, the three other little pugs snug in the beds, and the birds all asleep. So I clicked on the t.v. and quickly found an Ani DiFranco special on public television and was instantly mesmerized. She was singing folk music. She is so amazing and wakes you up, shakes you up, and soothes the spirit and the heart all in a matter of a few songs. Too soon it was over. How can an hour pass so fast? Sometimes the minutes just creep painfully by, but I breathed in that music like a baby taking her first breath. In one night a movie and unexpected music settled in that place in my heart where the seed of my future life has been living. I sit here overcome with emotion, trembling with fear, poking at the dream to see if it is alive. It is very much alive in my heart.

I do not know how long it will take or when it will happen, but sometime in the next several months I will be living where I was meant to settle and start over, a place where I can live out the rest of my life, do my work, and let the solitude and silence echo through the four chambers of my heart.

I am going to get ready to go to sleep. I'm hoping when I close my eyes I will be transported to those mountains. And the promise of finding my way home will be a little closer in the morning...