Maitri Libellule

When you feel as though you've lost your footing in life, when you need to ground yourself, when you need a practice to set you straight, reclaim your life and your presence upon the earth, or simply need to check in with yourself, write, "At this very moment..." and keep going. It doesn't matter what comes up, or if it makes any sense. Don't judge, just keep writing.

I have been a journal-writing teacher for over 30 years now. I have taught in churches, colleges, women's centers, in the offices of therapists, ministers, to AIDS patients, to pregnant women, in person and online, large groups and one on one. These are only a few of the mediums I have taught in, as well as writing circles in my very own living room. I write very detailed classes with new material for every class. They run roughly three hours long and may contain up to a dozen writing exercises, but the most important one, an exercise used in many journal and writing classes, is "At this very moment..."

As a student of Buddhism for thirty years as well, I constantly practice mindfulness. It is a never-ending practice because you keep falling away from the present moment into outer space and get lost in your very own life. You can become agitated, depressed, anxious, or at "loose ends" causing you to become very nervous. It's an important thing to practice mindfulness and meditation, coming back to the present moment, but it is even more important to write it down, to ground yourself in words. Black words on white paper is something with weight. You can touch it, feel it, you can breathe and relax once more because you have placed yourself back in time and space and are tethered to the ground. I do this exercise very often, even in my mind driving down the road, but it is best done on paper.

I need to do this right now because my Circadian rhythms have gone all askew again. From the time I got up this morning (yesterday morning!) until I went back to sleep in the afternoon, I could barely keep my eyes open. I took care of all of my animals but I didn't even have the energy to make coffee. I kept falling back to sleep, or dozing off. I finally gave up about 1:30 p.m. and went to sleep and slept until late afternoon. I was disoriented and off kilter. I got up, got the dogs out, took care of the parrots, and then walked out across the way to get my mail just to help me wake up. I gathered up and took three bags of trash out. I made coffee. I had my morning coffee at 6 p.m. It is now 4:05 a.m. and I am wide awake. I am drifting because I am at odds with the world. I need to do this exercise so I won't drift right off of the edge of the planet. I need to try to figure out where I am and what I'm doing. I need answers to questions, and I need to write stray thoughts down so that I may gather them up as if I were carrying a basket over my arm picking apples. If I gather them up like this they won't run about all asunder. And so I shall begin.

At this very moment... I am sitting in my big over-sized chair with my feet up on the huge ottoman. I am covered with a cherry red fleece blanket and have 2 huge pillows on my lap which are a substitute for a desk. My velcro pug Sampson is asleep on the arm of the chair. The arms are very large and wide and soft and a perfect pug size. I have his flannel blanket on the arm of the chair and eventually he will slide down against me as we curl up together to go to sleep. Sam is my living teddy bear, or puggy bear as it were. I am not afraid of the dark, afraid to go to sleep when my body is ready, with Sam near. I haven't slept in my bed in so long I can't remember when I did. This is because of a childhood of night horrors, that led, as an adult, to my bed not being a safe place. This chair is a cocoon. I am in my cocoon with my soft, warm, snoring teddy bear. I am typing this to you, whoever you are out there, and mostly just for me.

At this very moment... I am comforted by a number of stones, different stones and crystals that I use for healing, wearing some, and having laid a few carefully picked stones on my chest and belly so that as I sit here I can write feeling protected. I am a stone healer. They are living, vibrant beings, and they do heal. I don't practice this on anyone but myself, but it works and is very comforting. My energy is lifted, in this moment, by peridot, angelite, prehnite, aquamarine, morganite, several "aura" crystals -- aqua aura, rose aura and ruby aura. Amazonite, clear crystals, amethysts and lepidolite. At this very woman I am a healer, and I am being healed. By stones and snoring pugs and stirring parrots who sometimes talk in their sleep.

At this very moment... I feel my book moving about inside of me, the one I have been writing for a decade inside my organs with dangling participles hanging off of my ribs, metaphors floating through the four chambers of my heart, sentences going straight down my legs bumping into muscle and bone, and whole paragraphs nestle in my belly. This book has been like a very long pregnancy, the gestation period needing lots of space and time for a book to grow, one ten year marathon to live through, and now, now I am about to cross a threshold and then, and only then, will I be ready to give birth to the book. I have done a lot of writing through these years, but it wasn't the book. At this very moment I am collecting syllables so that I can put them together like puzzle pieces into words. It is now 4:25 a.m. and the pages of the book are fluttering about so that I feel like I need to take alka seltzer, but I don't have or take it. I don't drink soda and I don't have any bubbly seltzer water. I hope those pages don't get caught in my throat when I go to sleep, just before I have to get up to get the dogs out in a couple of hours...

At this very moment ... I am wondering what you are supposed to do with your time when your mother is about to die and she waxes and wanes and almost drifts out to sea and then the tides push her back up on the shore and on it goes. It is a time out of time experience, and I feel myself floating out to sea as well, trying desperately to hang onto something, anything, a piece of driftwood, so that I might have a chance to live through all of this and make my way back to shore intact. I am using this time to do simple tasks and to try to finish things. I keep updating my blogs because I feel better when I write and it's not time for the book. It is still growing appendages and at this stage it would be a premie and might die if born too soon. I rest and elevate my legs so the book won't slide out before it's time. That could be the death of both of us.

At this very moment ... I have just realized that the cord has fallen out of my laptop and I hope I can keep writing awhile before I have to fish it out of wherever it is. The computer wants to go to bed but I am not ready.

At this very moment ... I am longing to get myself back into my art. It has taken the hardest hit these last several months when my mother's decline has, after 4 1/2 years, picked up it's pace so that something in me froze up and my crochet hooks, knitting needles, spindles, Navajo weaving tools, beads, buttons, stones, feathers and hatforms, and vintage dressform and more have all frozen in time. They are deep in a block of ice the size of an apartment building, and they won't start slipping out of the melting ice until my mother has passed.

I don't know why but I can't get to it no matter how hard I try. I have my 10' by 10' project in my large carpet bag that I always keep near me, just in case, along with my hand-carved wooden crochet hooks that I showed several entries back. They are life-like and keep whispering things to me. "You'll feel better if only you would just start..." Maybe when your mother is about to die you are not supposed to feel better. Maybe you are just supposed to float and drift and sleep and cuddle pugs and watch your spider sister, a banana spider you've named Bella who is the size of your palm as she weaves her web so big it stretches between bushes and all the way up into the limbs of the tree above and down farther than the eye can see. She is getting ready for new life, the time when her spiderlings will hatch. I am preparing for death, for the time my mother drifts through the portal and out of this world to the one beyond. Will she be sitting "up there" on a cloud strumming a harp, or will she be in some crystal lined holding cell waiting to slip through the "veil of forgetfulness" into another life when she is someone else living a life I can't imagine and don't know.

Approaching 5 a.m. your thoughts are airy and floating around you and through the house. They slip out of a window or door to get some fresh air and you begin to make less and less sense. At least to other people. At least I do. But it all makes perfect sense to me.

At this very moment I am becoming very tired. Writing has once again become the sedative I needed, because it emptied my mind and put all my words in a little block in an imaginary world where people I shall most likely never meet might read in the days ahead. Or not.

At this moment I just found myself stopping and rubbing my eyes and going into that place that has no name when we are not awake and not asleep but definitely heading in the direction of the latter. So in the next few moments I shall brush my teeth and ready myself to sleep with a snoring teddy bear of a boy, with a chorus of sleeping pugs all around the room snoring off key, just what I need to to lull me into a few hours sleep, if I am lucky, before it all begins again...

... yawning ... and ...

2 Responses
  1. Roschelle Says:

    Something very simple yet, extremely meaningful. I'm always writing, jotting down notes, etc. I've never thought about an "at this very moment" page just for me. Thank you for posting.

  2. Dinah Says:

    WOW, best writing prompt i have seen so far! Thanks, thanks and thanks!

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