Maitri Libellule
"Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk



It was just past midnight last night. I was out on the patio as two of the dogs, Big Moe, my lab-doby mix, and Sampson, my Velcro pug, snuffled about in the grass to find just the perfect spot to do their business. This is very important. Dogs are very mindful, and they were single-minded in their pursuit. It was just then that I saw a glint of bright green against the white stucco wall of the patio. I stood, barely breathing, and stared at him. I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. In each moment there is something perfect, beautiful, unimaginably tender and touching, if we are aware, and present. For a single moment I was one with him, his bright eyes locked with mine. It was perfect bliss...

I held my breath as I slipped in the door to grab my camera, and took several pictures of him. He stood quite still as if posing for me. The camera flashed and he will be with me for all eternity in this photograph, even though moments later he jumped through the air so fast that I blinked and he was gone. I saw one flash of a tiny green leg disappear through a crack where the patio wall meets the cottage wall. Morning glories slip through this crack, and beetles, lady bugs, spiders, and the little green lizards we have in abundance here. I live in harmony with each and every one of them. These are the simple things in life that I treasure, the ephemeral things that disappear in a moment. Present Moment, Wonderful Moment -- that is the title of one of Thich Nhat Hanh's books. His books are slender little volumes, his words are a whisper in the air. You hear him in your ears as you read. I have several video and audio cd's of him speaking and his voice is mesmerizingly soft and gentle. I hear his voice when I read the words in his books.

I came in with the dogs, the tiny frog gone wherever bright green nocturnal creatures slip off into in the night, and I sat here with only one small reading lamp on, but I didn't read, I didn't turn on the computer or the t.v., no, I sat here to meditate on that miraculous moment, when one tiny little tree frog and I met, a moment that I will forget, sadly, but that one single moment will remain part of me forever.

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment. I bow to Thich Nhat Hanh, in Plum Village in France where he lives, I bow to the wee little frog who disappeared into the night, I smile at the sleeping pug attached to me who is settled deep in sleep and snoring softly. I listen to the air, the soft whoosh of the Hepa air filter moving particles that sparkle in the dark. If only I were a frog I could see them. I listen to my breath go in and out, in and out. I slip into a meditative state and behind my eyelids there is a sea of bright green. I float in it, and only when I open my eyes again do I realize that it was a frog meditation, and for one single moment I was as green as my tiny visitor.

As I was writing the above I looked down and smiled. I am wearing a soft lime green cotton caftan, the color faded with age, and on my wrist are three beaded bracelets, all green stones -- prehnite, green turquoise, aventurine, and peridot -- all powerful, healing, comforting stones for me now. It is a green time for me in my life. Green is the heart chakra color. It is a heart time for me now, as my mother, who just went on hospice faces, in peace, her final days. She talked softly today about the end, which is near, and I have never felt her more at ease. She is prepared for her passing. I wear these green stones so that my heart may be healed as she makes her final passage.

In the last moment I spoke to her I said the prayer for her that she loves. I say it to her now every time we speak, and she loves to hear it. I first heard it in Unity Church in Roanoke, Virginia, more than two decades ago.

"The light of God surrounds you,"
I tell her, almost in a whisper...

"The love of God enfolds you,"
I can feel her relax into the moment
as a tear runs down my cheek...

"The power of God protects you,"
We are one spirit in this moment,
mother and daughter, for what may
be, at any time, the last moment...

"The presence of God watches over you,"
We both face toward the golden light
of God's presence, and the light that
will draw her home in the days ahead...

"Wherever you are, God is, and all is well."
I feel her tender smile, I am in awe of
the total peace she radiates in these,
her final days. When we get off of the
phone, I say the prayer for myself,
that I may feel the peace that passeth
understanding when my mother crosses
over into the light.

I will sit here for awhile before I go to sleep and I will close my eyes and breathe in the gift of green that the little frog brought to me, I will feel the soft green cotton against my skin, and the sparkling green beads and stones around my wrist. As I closes my eyes I feel my belly rise and fall as I become all breath, rocking gently, like a baby in her mother's arms, and pray as I get ready to turn off the light and go to sleep...

The light of God surrounds me...

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment...

My heart beats in my chest, my breath slowly moves in and out, and for one singular moment I feel the peace that passeth understanding, and all is well...


Maitri Libellule


Yesterday something happened to me, and I don't know why, or what caused it to happen just then, just the way it did, but I am thanking God for it today. I spend too much time on the computer, as if clinging to life itself. This afternoon I called to speak to my mother to tell her I love her, but she was not able to come to the phone and my aunt said it was a very bad day. My heart just sank. I realized that in the year ahead I will heal my heart by doing my art. I think there is no mistake that the word "art" is part of the word HeART.

I use crystals and gemstones for healing. For a long time I made jewelry that I sold in my etsy store called Stone Medicine Jewelry, but I no longer make jewelry to sell and my etsy store is currently on hold. I had one for a long time closed it, opened it again and had to close it immediately after selling only a few items because of my mother's cancer. I just didn't have it in me. Everything went numb. I was frozen in the middle of my own life.

I believe very strongly in the healing power of these stones. They are energetic minerals from deep in the earth, and bring with them different kinds of power and frequencies that have been used in healing since ancient times. You needn't believe in the healing power to appreciate their beauty, but if you are interested you can look at this wonderful page, Crystal and Healing Properties of Gemstones. I keep this on my toolbar for when I'm ordering but have a vast library of books of these stones and their healing powers.

And so I knew that I needed Flourite. (Scan down the page until you find this stone.) It is a very gentle healing stone, and I have had this puffy little flourite heart for some time. I have carried it with me everywhere in my purse. I always wanted it near me. I turned off my computer all afternoon on Friday and worked on this piece. It is not finished, but this will show you a little bit of my process. I will keep you posted along the way. And in the process I started writing a book that will be a year of the healing process ahead through my art, of many various types.




The Flourite heart on my wrist so you can
imagine the size...


I held this gentle precious stone in my hand for awhile and just closed my eyes and meditated. It was so soothing I almost drifted off to sleep. I think of the people who find it near quackery to believe in the healing power of these stones, and yet they believe in the flowers and herbs and plants of this earth for their healing powers, their beautiful properties. The gifts of this earth are many, and if they seem strange to some who don't understand them, that's okay, but at least, if you are a spiritual person, imagine that nothing was put on this planet without a reason. These stones have their reasons, their place. Enjoy their beauty, if nothing else. You will find that you will be drawn to certain stones for reasons you can't imagine, but don't question it, simply enjoy it. If you choose to, you can study more about these stones, and there are many books on the subject and sites to buy them inexpensively.

This piece that I am working on will use many different techniques, among them spoolknitting, crochet, beading, and finger weaving. By the end of the piece, and when it actually turns into a long necklace, it will be quite an elaborate piece, with all the stones I need to heal my heart. The act of making the piece will be the most important healing process of all...




A Hand carved spoolknitter, a gorgeous butterfly,
made by my dear sister-friend,
Noreen Crone-Findlay.
You have just got
to see her amazing work. Some time
back
I showed the collection of crochet hooks that
she handmade. I almost exclusively use
her tools in
my work. And she has several
other sites, a daily
blog, and an etsy shop,
but her magical main site
remains
my favorite...




Spoolknitting with pink wire, I ease the heart
down into the spoolknitted section to check
for
size...


For those of you who have never spoolknitted it is one of the most calming artforms on the planet with endless possibilities for making things, easy to use, and you can buy them in all shapes and sizes. I have a red plastic one I bought a year or two ago at a craft shop for $2. They usually have them wherever you can buy sewing notions and supplies. In days gone by they used to be called "Knitting Nancies." Spoolknitting is also a contemplative art, very meditative, and I have spoolknitted lots of long tubular pieces using all types of materials for spoolknitting from yarn to string to twine to soft grasses, long thin strips of leather, suede, to unspun wool or strips of old clothing. Sometimes my closet is the best place to find odds and ends for my art, and what a wonderful way to recycle!




Once the spoolknitted heart was taken off of
the spoolknitter, I used a tiny antique
metal
crochet hook to crochet it shut. I
rarely ever
use this type of hook, but
each project has it's
own needs.





Then the really joyous work began, and this
will be long work and by the end of this entry
you will see the heart given a good start but
nowhere near the end! Here I am beading and
fingerweaving the wired and knotted beads
around the flourite heart in the spoolknitted
"case." The stones I am using are flourite in
many colors and my favorite current stone
which calls to me deeply, peridot. You can
read more about it on that page, and much
more in wonderful books, and on the web,
but it is, among other things, a heart healer.
People think of pink as the color of the
heart, but in chakra work, the heart's
color is green...




The flourite heart at it's very beginning
of
what will be a long journey...


For those of you like me who spend too much time on the computer, one of the most healing (and I believe truly essential, increasingly so...) activities you can do is turn off the computer and move on to other pursuits. Work in the garden, read a good book, take a nature walk, even do housework, but turn off the computer, and live your life. I plan to do this more and more. and will still be spending mornings and evenings and once in awhile spottily on the computer if I need to check on something, but I am writing my book by hand as I do my art, and it will all get moved to the computer when it is good and ready. Writing by hand is also a lovely thing, a lost art really. I am also going to start collecting long lost addresses, and put something in the mail to a friend everyday. A post card, a letter, a tiny treasure. Reviving the lost art of letter writing, believe it or not, is part of my ministry. It is connecting with real people in real time, and giving them something that they can hold onto and cherish. Something tactile, something that is not ephemeral and disappears as soon as you push a button.

I will continue to share this journey with you as the "Healing Heart" progresses, and then I will wear it as I work on the book for the next year, and when my mother passes I will be wearing it over my own heart, allowing the stones to heal me, and the work of my hands will bring me peace...

Blessings and Love to one and all...



Maitri Libellule

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier.

The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."


~ Margaret Young ~


I live with piles of books all around me, the current ones I am reading and a number of them that I go back to for quotes or references when I am writing. I have thousands of books collected over many decades. The thing that always amazes me, and I'm sure you all have experienced this as well, is that you can read the same book ten times and each time you read it, it's almost like you are reading a different book. The book hasn't changed, you have.

I have been a journal-writing teacher for over thirty years. I have seen it time and time again with now somewhere in the thousands of students, and I always told them the same thing. Some exercises, like the one I shared a few entries back, "At this very moment..." which is a standard exercise that many writing teachers use to just get the pen moving, is really not only the bedrock of our writing foundation, but a touchstone in our lives. If you were to write "At this very moment..." every day for a year, and a year later go back and read all of them, you would have probably felt, before starting, that not much changed from day to day, and that overall it had been, given no extenuating circumstances beyond our control occurring, pretty much the same old, same old. What you would find would be very different.

What you would find would be that not only does each day shift a little, over the course of a year you have shifted quite a lot. Track that over five years, over ten, and you would simply be dumbfounded. As a person who has hundreds of journals in boxes and lived very close to this process since I was a young girl, I am acutely aware of the fact that huge changes are happening over time, but as they are happening over time, we don't see them or feel them, unless we encounter one of life's heart-wrenching circumstances like the death of a loved one, the loss of a child, a close friend who was like family, a divorce, loss of a job you felt would be your lifetime job when you had never thought of or prepared for anything else, unless those kinds of things happen to you, you are shape-shifting all the time, in every moment and are, for the most part, completely unaware of what is happening.

So through these difficult days and weeks and months with my poor mother's decline stepping up it's pace every single day, it has been one of those times when someone sits down and takes stock. A time when one notices things that they hadn't stopped to look at before.

I wrote, just last night, on my Unimaginable Dreams Made Manifest blog, that I was coming to the time in my life when much that I had been dreaming and hoping for all of my life was about to start happening, but that after I go over the first big hump, it will be a tremendous lot of work to do, meaning the foundation will have been laid to allow me to do the work, but the hardest part will begin when I finally face and have to live out the, "If only I could..." Well, now I'll be able to, now I'll actually have to, and all of a sudden I was scared to death.

And so last night I "slept on it," or rather slept on it and half way on a pug who is always attached to my person and I am either leaning against him or he is halfway on top of me. I thought about the dreams and wondered if I had done what I needed to all of these years to prepare properly for what lies ahead. I mean I'm 55 after all and while I don't consider that old, have never been worried about age, and am in good health, I am also very well aware that as the years keep marching onward (and there's been a lot of marching already...) you have less time to get things done. It's time I started.

So, circling back around to the beginning of this piece, I found this quote, and it made me sink into my chair and take a big sigh of relief. I have done exactly what I was supposed to in her definition of what you need to do to achieve what you want, but I did not do it consciously, more to the point, and as the poet Louise Bogan was often quoted as saying, "Let life do it." meaning that you needn't worry so much about what to do about every little detail, life will just be what it will be for you, and sweep you along downstream, and there will be a sense of momentum that comes from you know not where. So "Life did it," in the manner of my having been a mother raising and homeschooling three children and all the while, right next to them, I was writing, publishing in magazines and newspapers, I had three small presses and a rubber stamp business, I did art of all sorts and I was always doing "my work"right along with them as they did their school work. A decade ago my husband and I separated and my kids grew into their own lives and met their partners or spouses and I have spent a very hard decade both financially and trying to figure out what I was going to do, and then it came to me, I have been doing it all along.

I had to be all of who I was because what else can you do? I lived my way forward through college, marriage, children, and onward, being the best person I could be with all of my oddities and idiosyncrasies, trying hard not to make the mistakes my parents had but making my own instead, and all along the while I was doing what I needed to do without realizing it. What a shock to realize you might have done something right, even if it was by accident. When you are a SAHM (Stay at home mom.) you are sadly not taken seriously, although thank God I see this changing all around me, and my writing and art were thought of as "nice little hobbies" and because everyone else treated me and what I was doing that way, and even though I knew inside that they weren't just "hobbies" but my life's work, I kind of felt embarrassed and while I kept trudging on and my belief in myself was strong, I finally stopped talking a lot about it to those closest to me who pretty much just had that, "There she goes again..." attitude when I started writing another novel or small business or whatever, but I knew, as I have known these past ten years on my own, that I was, indeed, working toward something. I was doing it in order, and not the reverse, and of course in order works differently for each and every one of us.

So here I am. I have raised my family. I am divorced and have teetered through the past decade pretty much just hoping I would survive, and I have made it through to a place where I will now have a kind of security I haven't known in my life, where decisions will be in my own hands, and I will have the wherewithall to lead the simple, gentle little life I've always wanted, surrounded by my animals and my garden, writing and doing my art, praying and meditating and having my quiet little "barefoot ministry," wherein I can walk metaphorically barefoot through the world touching anyone I can with love and kindness, and, considering the whole world my "congregation," for lack of a better way to put it, no matter what their religion or spiritual path or none at all, I will love those I meet, pray for all and sundry, and finally be able to take myself and my work seriously because there is no one to tell me that I can't.

I have been, all along, who I really am, warts and all, I have done, inasmuch as I've been able, to do what I've needed to do, and now I am at the the threshold I will soon cross into the life that I want and it will all have happened just exactly as it should have. I "Let life do it," even when I didn't know I was doing so.

And so here I am, at the crossroads. I know which path I will take...




Maitri Libellule

Dear Ones,

I just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about my memes, "Mysterious Monday," "Wisdom Wednesday," and "Serene Sundays," but I will not be able to do them for a little while ahead. My mother is going on hospice on Monday and her end is very near. This is, as you can imagine, a very hard time, but actually doing my blogs has been a lifesaver and helps me hold on to something. The thing is, I never know WHEN I am able to do things right now, so holding to some kind of "Gotta do it TODAY" schedule won't work for now. I do, as a matter of fact, hope to update this blog later today, but I felt I needed to put a little note here about this issue so you didn't think I'd stopped them. Those who are doing them, keep on, that would be lovely, and I will certainly be back to them when I can. The memes have gone cattywompus, and there's nothing I can do about that now.

Thank you for your understanding...

Maitri Libellule
Align Center
I had counted on Coco, a more sensible
girl than some of the others, but she is
notsomuch a morning girl, and she hid
on the stairs and went back to sleep
and no one could find her...


It's so hard to get a pug to be useful when you really need them. Oh, I might have had 2 hours sleep when they are ready to go potty first thing in the morning about 6 a.m., and they'll get me back up again at 7 to go out again and get their milkbones, by 8 to 8:30 they're up for good (or one would imagine) and they go out and then eat their breakfast. Then they go back to sleep for awhile. Then they have to go out again. Then, just when I need my latte, and think SURELY, after all I do for them, ONE of them could handle the job, nosirreebob, it just ain't gonna happen.

I thought I might have better luck with Babs, who, though she is fourteen, blind as a bat, and deaf as a door, is like a little black Mexican jumping bean and literally hops straight up and down barking her fool head off when she wants something. Surely, I thought, I could count on Babs. But...



She poked her head out from under the
covers and scowled at me and said surely
I wasn't daft enough to ask her to do a
single little thing before she'd had HER
latte and read the New York Times. She
gets the Braille edition and it takes her
awhile. This time is, for her, sacrosanct,
and I should have known better. Sigh...


I mean truly, I did get the pugs for companionship and they were rescues that I wanted to give a loving home to, and I simply adore them, but I don't see why they can't pull their weight around here a little bit. Is that unreasonable? And then I thought, SAM, Sam the Man, my Velcro Pug, who spends 106% of the day on my person and truly adores me, unless I'm about to ask him to lend a helping paw. I started out with that voice that is dripping with honey.... "Oh Sammyyyy..." (... this was accompanied by smooching noises and that batting of eyelashes, but there's no charming a pug who doesn't want to do something, like stay awake, or help around the house...), but he only looked at me like this...



When a half awake pug, still under the covers,
raises his head for a millisecond and looks at
you like this, you might as well hang it up...



But then I had the GREATEST inspiration. You see, wee little Harvey, who is the youngest pug in the house at 9 years old, and was here one year in September (the others had been here two years by then), is the sweetest little pug of them all. He is a little timid and shy, but he so wants to please that he will do just about ANYTHING for you. "Yessirree, that's the ticket!" I thought, I'll ask Harvey. He'll probably want to make my latte first, and then let me get settled in comfortably while he goes over to the computer and writes the morning blog entry, but, much to my shock and dismay, I found him looking like this...



Cripes, he's been here too long and the others have
gotten to him. Another one bites the dust...


I'd rescue a few more but Pug Rescue won't let me. They know I'd have a herd of pugs around here if I could. They cut me off at four. (I thought that was a dirty deal, but I did get tired of Big Dog Moe always trying to eat the newest pug and me having to go all Dog Whisperer on him when he's been my boy for 15 years, since a wee tiny puppy from the Humane Society.) He and the pugs look like "The Jolly Black Giant and The Little Niblets," and they sure looked tasty to him, kind of like chicken nuggets I think. And Moe is just useless. I learned long ago that if I asked Moe to do anything he just flopped down, rolled over on his back, paws in the air, looking for all the world like "The Most Submissive Dog In The Universe," and then I don't have the heart to bother him. He's got my number, they all have.

I went back to Coco and thought maybe I'd use a little reverse psychology on her. I told her that if she got up and moved around a little, they wouldn't call her a "Stylish Stout," at the groomers, but she looked at me and it was all too clear what she was thinking. She looked me up and down, and mumbled under her breath, "Well, you're not even stylish," and the implication was all too clear. Stout but not stylish. I thought that was rude.

So I would have written this entry but I got so tired looking at all of them that I went back to sleep, fiber work all over Sam and the chair and I, and if I ever get my latte it might be some time next year. Right now I think (yawn) I'll just maybe (yyaaawwwnnnn) rest my eyes for a minute and then get up and make my latte and write an entry here, but for now.... (....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...)...



.......... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ..........


Maitri Libellule

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

~ Dr. Seuss ~



Click on the above image to see a larger size. Put on
your sunglasses. Squint a little. Take an aspirin. It's
just GLORIOUS!!!



Are you afraid to be all of who you are?

Don't be.

Are you so much wilder and magical than you'd want people to know because you'de be afraid that they would think you were loony. BE LOONY! WEAR IT LOUD AND PROUD.

Are you
different? THANK GOD!

Are you 50+ years old and you still love Play-doh and blowing bubbles and swinging on swings and do just LOVE being peculiar, but you only let your full self shine behind closed doors? THROW OPEN THE DOORS, RUN OUTSIDE, PUT YOUR FLAMINGO HAT ON, AND GET JIGGY WIT IT.

It doesn't matter what or who or why you are, just live it all, live it fully, admit everything, hide nothing, celebrate everything, and remember...

"... those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Isn't that something? What are you waiting for? I'm going to go to fax some things now and mail a thing or two and leave the pugs and parrots and big Moe home alone for a few minutes and, yes, I'll admit it, I let them watch
The Home Shopping Network while I'm gone. It's okay, I cut up their credit cards a long time ago, but they still call in and try to buy things with Monopoly money. It never works but they never get discouraged. I just love that.

I talk really well with animals, but clam up around people who often scare me.

It's okay, everyone knows, by this time, that I am so odd, they either join in the fun or run for their lives. Here, have a flamingo hat. Let's do the rhumba. Let's listen to Petey the macaw who snores like the pugs.

I grow African violets bigger than anyone has ever seen. They think I'm magic. I am.

I've got to go now. I've got to get my flamingo hat now, and my playdoh bracelets and my pink boa and my clunky lime green Crocs. You know, they just love me at the Post Office...

... skipping out the door with glee...