Category: friendships


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My garden grow boxes lying Fallow 2015-2016

Fallow (adj) ~ adjective. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated. not in use; inactive. (of personhood) ie My creative energies have lain fallow this year.

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During the last three summers of my home gardens, I decided to add grow boxes in the middle of my front lawn, as well as planting and tending all the border gardens around the boundaries and sides of the property. It was a joy and delight to witness all the green goodies…flowers, herbs and vegetables…. spilling out of those raised boxes…healthy and lush and easy to tend (no weeds!).

Sam garden

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Sam garden

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These gardens gave me inspiration, strength, encouragement, hope and grounding during the several years of intense national and personal challenges in my life due to the economic downturn that so many Americans and home-owners were facing at that time. Holding on as best and as long as I could  came to an end in 2015… my “Year of the Thorn”…. when that way of life and the land had to be released, giving up home, gardens and land that could no longer be sustained.

 

 

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2015 My Year of the Thorn~ Loss and Letting Go

 

Receiving sanctuary with the dearest of friends, I was welcomed to stay with them for  the next year of my personal paradigm shift and healing of spirit. My grow boxes, once the containers of vibrant overflowing life, now lying fallow in their woods below a white pine.  And myself, fallow in spirit and activity as well, though still teaching piano to a small handful of mature students. Spirit-wise, though the rich compost of Creativity lay somewhere deep in my Soul, all was still and quiet and as empty as the soil in those grow boxes. Where to go next? How to work in new ways, how to sustain myself? How could I live in joy without my gardens, the source of so much creative inspiration, healing and connections to the Earth?

The blessings of my sanctuary friends and their own beautiful gardens still surrounded me with the green Veriditas so vital to my well-being. The joy of their land and its growing bounty helped during this fallow time between my familiar old life and my as yet-unkown new life when no new vision and direction revealed itself. Though their land and gardens were not mine, I was still tethered to the Earth while I waited for new as yet-unknown seeds of Soul to sprout.

 

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Madeline’s Garden

Eventually, when the Year of the Thorn  and the Fallow Period shifted slowly into the new life that I now live, those grow boxes were gifted to my daughter, and to a couple of elder friends who were happy to have them for easier gardens to tend. There are no more grow boxes or gardens at ground level for me now. 

But still…. this is not the end of the story of My Garden, My Soul. I am living with Veriditas (the greening spirit) .., but in a new way… with my “gardens” of green growing things and of Creative spirit.

Stay with me. There are still a couple of chapters to come.

 

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My Garden, My Soul

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi FM

There are many ways to live with Veriditas, the Greening Spirit of Soul!

You are invited to visit my other blogs…

http://sensuoussoupsandseuppers.wordpress.com

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (actually..herbal recipes for year round)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There have been many chapters so far to this series, My Garden, My Soul. It is time now to reveal that the celebration of these gardens of mine have been sweet reminisces, for they are gardens of my past, not my present. There is more to this story because there are many chapters in our lives. Like a season  in Nature of big winds, torrential rains, hurricanes or droughts, we too in our lives face those same challenges as emotional and situational experiences in our personal journeys. This series so far  has been mostly re-blogged/newly written celebrating and sharing  about the gardens..my gardens …for about 18 years up until the pivotal year of 2015 when significant losses changed everything and the time between my “old life” and my “new life” became a true personal paradigm shift from landowner to apartment dweller and the loss of my treasured gardens.

2015 was the “Year of the Thorn” in my life’s journey and relationship with the Garden of my Soul.

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The  invasive wild white rose vines bordered my garden on the back side of my land separating my front lawn from the lot next door, every year sending out a line across the yard and wrapping itself tightly around the water spout of the house. It was an arduous and often painful experience cutting this vicious plant back, as the vine…thick and hard..was covered with very large dangerous thorns with a tiny backwards tip at the end that pierced and embedded itself deeply even through protective gardening gloves.

The several years leading up to 2015 and specifically 2015 itself were the years of, and specifically the “Year of.. the Thorn” in my life’s journey. Due to severe economic challenges in our country of those years and it’s impact on my work…losing a major portion of my private music teaching income when my many students were also financially impacted and had to let go of their frills including piano lessons…I was no longer able to sustain myself, my home and my land. The thorn of personal and societal disaster hooked itself deeply into my life, wrapping itself around all that was familiar, piercing my Soul-filled life as musician, teacher and gardener.

In short, I lost everything. Income, House, Land and Gardens.

What was left to me..household furnishings, a vast library of books, piano and instruments, and all manner of the stuff of living went into storage.

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Packing up a life

 

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However, I was truly blessed by loving and generous friends who invited me to stay with them for a year between my “old life” and my “new life” …a year during which I had no clue as to what would come next for me, where I would go, how I would continue the Journey of my own destiny. A double blessing was that these friends were also gardeners of exquisite skill and magic, and though the gardens were not mine, they surrounded my exhausted emotional life with their green healing power and beauty.

 

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My friend Madeline in her garden…the year between my old life and my new life

My grow boxes, once overflowing with flowers, herbs and veggies, also become un-employed as they, empty of life,  were stored and sheltered under the trees in the forest of my friends.

 

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My growboxes stored in the woods during the Year of the Thorn

                                                                   Remembrances

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There is no escaping challenges and changes if we are alive on the Earth. Like the plants in the Garden, there are seasons for everything including us in our life’s journey. Some years of bounty, some years of barren-ness. It’s always a cycle of letting go and letting “in”, of deconstruction and re-construction, of loss and then renewal.

This is not the end of the story of “My Garden, My Soul”.

Stay with me. Chapter 24 is next. Like Life.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

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You are invited to visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com  (music and memoirs of a piano teacher. Me!)

http://thewinterkitchenfarmacy.wordpress.com (healing herbal recipes. Fire Cider!)

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com (kitchen memoirs and recipes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an occasional instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at a nearby University. The OLLI program across the country is a college for seniors, age 50 and older, who come back to school just for the fun of learning, because it is NEVER too late to learn new things or buff up on skills and talents put side during the busy years of looking after others or working full time.

This past fall, I taught a course inspired by a wonderful book by the author Christine Valters Paintner. With a rather unusual title, “Nurturing Your Creative Spirit with Monastic Wisdom” the book shares Benedictine monastic practices and daily rhythms to deepen our spirituality in a complicated world AND guide us back to that  “room” in our souls where creativity is  birthed and stored,  hopefully followed by  the courageous  re-entry into our actual individual  time-apart studios to manifest artwork, poems, writing, sculptures or crafts.

Our class was exceedingly exciting as we employed various meditative practices from monastic life to settle down, reach inside ourselves within the context of silence and stillness, and find our way back to personal artwork and creativity in new and surprising ways, gathering up long ignored pen, paper, journals, paints, brushes and the like.  Our  daily inspirational mantra was a prayer from the Divine Muse, with which we initiated our creative endeavors awaiting the surprise of new expressive ideas:

“Now I am revealing new things to you.

Things hidden and unknown to you, created just now, this very moment!

Of these things, you have heard nothing until now, so you cannot say, ‘Yes I (already) knew that’ “

Some wrote exquisite poems, some shared reflective journal entries. One woman started an art project, a beautiful book of paintings..one for each of the monastic hours (Lauds, Vespers etc) with eloquent musings on each…and with delightful imagination, one woman made for the homeless, a comfy sleeping mat from colored plastic bags, much like a hooked rug, and complete with the ability to roll it up and carry with handles.

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Our class was a total delight but our Eldest Elder was one of the most delightful creations herself.  “Joan” is well known and very beloved by all  who know her at OLLI. In her mid-90’s she attends a variety of classes for enjoyment, inspiration and, as she has told me a number of times, to find out what it is she is supposed to be doing with her life at age 95!

During the class she sat attentively up front as always, usually rather quiet until she has something to say.. generally a soft-spoken one or two-liner that catches us by surprise and makes us all laugh with delight…or a question that reveals a piercing depth of curiosity and wisdom that stops us cold to ponder.

Throughout this class as others brought their creations in for our opening “show and tell”, eliciting claps and smiles, we knew that Joan had not as yet gone back into her “studio”  to start painting again which had for quite a time, maybe years, been set aside. She was quite elusive about why she was unsure about doing it.

But then …..

On the last day of the class, she and her daughter came in with a surprise!

Joan had in fact gone back into her “studio”,  picked up her brushes and painted a picture of the rough ocean waters  near the sea wall after a wild storm! Like Joan herself who is quite a “modern-thinking”  Elder at 95, her painting is also modern in expression, impressionistic and with dynamic movement.

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I am a Senior now as well, and the rhythm and responsibilities of life have shifted although I am still far from being  95 years old. With new “open spaces” in my days, I often wonder what I am supposed to be doing with my life now, knowing that it is up to ME to create the new meanings and that, given good health, I need to listen and follow The Divine Muse who has ideas for me to be creative and of service in a world so needing inspiration and beauty.

I think on one level, Joan’s work at 95 is being a “Muse” for us younger Elders… 

 And… for the record…..

We’re  paying attention to you, Joan!!

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From Christine, the Greening Spirit

"Write the truth"

 

 

 

 

 

Every so often I need to write about the lost art of letter writing, which to me is a very sad indicator of a distressed culture, particular one that is originally and supposedly trained in literacy. 

Nothing can compare to the possible eloquence and depth of a personal  letter, thoughtfully composed with the express intention of intimate communication and deepening of relationship. A letter can connect two souls, hearts and minds in a way a dashed-off paragraph in an e-mail or a three-lined tweet can never do. And let’s not forget the bastardization of language, an inquiry of another’s well-being reduced to the single lettered laziness of a “how R U? ”

There is the revealing of personality in penmanship and unique handwriting and the historical treasure of wrinkled old letters and documents on parchment for the sake of posterity that cannot be conjured up and savored in sterile black and white print from a computer file.

Bringing us now to this essay’s main image of this sad abandoned mailbox. This was the mailbox out in the front yard of the home I used to own. My home,One time it was the receiver of a mix of the usual bills of homeowners and letters from family and friends…those personal letters so eagerly awaited when distance kept us apart from personal visits.

But then, over the years, technology changed (or rather, infiltrated) our culture,  people’s lives changed and the computer allowed a quicker “touch-base” communique easier on the run, but less informative. That mailbox became less and less receiver of the written voices of people, but more and more the temporary receiver of printed corporate billing and junk mail and flyers.

My mailbox began to lose heart.

Eventually the billing also went online, and that mailbox only became a holding place, until emptied, of colorful  and jumbled hastily stuffed-in fliers and paper junk advertisements which I refused to bring into the house.

Entered then the cultural change of a mailbox unit at the post office.

My poor mailbox was eventually overtaken by brambles and thorns..alone and abandoned by human connections, it became home to a small nest of bees. The happy ritual of going out into the yarden to check for a letter…a LETTER…or to say hello to the mailman…went the way of many of our rituals of belonging both to family and community.

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It is Valentine’s Day today and at this particular time in my life, I am once again my own Valentine, as I have been over the past several years. I am also at a time of looking backwards, mindfully pondering where I have been in my life, where I am, presently, in the very much appreciated NOW, and lingering with questions regarding where I am headed in the future, next, in this still unknown third chapter of life.

I have been child, teenager, girlfriend, wife, lover, Mother, Professional, Grandmother. I have been many things at various stages, overlaying one onto the other like those Russian dolls that nest within each other, starting small and growing larger with each new role. I have been them all and today on a rather unusually configured Valentine’s Day culturally, astrologically and spiritually, I especially ponder the “me” that has been both Tartalina, and Priestess.

Two things: Today’s Valentine’s Day also falls on the day of Ash Wednesday. From an astrological/archetypal point of view, this is a rather interesting mix:  An “8th House” mix for those who speak and understand the poetic language of astrology.

The” 8th House”  is about several things but commonly  sex and death are initially considered.  Today’s Valentine’s Day oddly contains both themes for those who honor or ritualize both the popular cultural theme of romance and the more serious spiritual and religious consideration of death. This Valentine’s day offers us the opportunity to consider both sex/love and death as important and transformative experiences with the invitation to fully embrace Life.

In sex/love, the heart is opened and beating with Life, passion and connection. In death, the heart and beating are closed and earthly connection is released. In sex and love we can be healed but also we can be wounded which when lost, is like a death. In death, we if spiritually inspired, dream or believe our spirits move into a place of total love and merging with the All. Ash Wednesday reminds us of that return back to from where we came.

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

A number of years ago, a dear artist Friend named Madeline, gifted me on my birthday with a doll she made to celebrate the qualities of the sacred feminine and love of ritual that we both share. The Priestess doll represents the spiritual quality of  the Virgin-One-Unto-Herself experience and knowing that is in every woman, some of us a little more aware than others of the sacred times of ritual, connection to the holiness/wholiness of the earth, the seasons , the phases of the moon and planets and the many seasons and moods within us. This beautiful doll with the golden hair representing the return of Spring’s bright sun in the month of May (my birthday month) and the waning moon on her forehead foreshadowing release and letting go speak to the same qualities that we experience in our lives.  There is much to ponder in the symbolism that Madeline placed artfully onto the Priestess Doll.  The Priestess is all knowing of the cycles of life …birth, the fullness of Life,  and death along the continuum of our time here. She knows we come from ashes and to ashes we shall return.   And I am her.

The other doll is “Tartalina”, made in a private workshop Madeline gave to me and another close friend of hers. Both myself and that friend were coming out of complex and  passionate love affairs that broke our hearts and we were in great need of healing.

When coming out of a passionate relationship that has been “the best and worst thing that every happened to us”,  there is a decision to be made in the grief process as to whether we close our hearts totally in renunciation and self protection, or to, after a time, keep our hearts open to the new, to risk love once again despite having been wounded.

I created “Tartalina” to hold that broken heart open in love and understanding, and to honor the alive passionate sensual part of my nature that is as holy and private as my deepest spirituality. She is about owning and loving the sacred, mischievous, naughty, physical, spicy, tart-like feminine expression that is pure sensual delight. I created her to be beautiful and earthy with her long legs delicately imprinted with garden vines and green hair of nature and veriditas for these are earthly as well as spiritual powers. She is a Valentine. And I am her.

I am Tartalina and Priestess combined and in this middle phase of the blessed “NOW” between the remembrances of the Past and the as-yet unknown answers of the Future, I honor and love them both, knowing I can call their qualities and virtues back in whenever necessary.

An incredible Love Story: The Artist is Present: As she sits  silently for eight hours  looking into the eyes  of anyone who wishes to be seen, she is startled when an important lover from the past takes the chair in front of her. Deeply moving.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! …and with love to all of you as well!

From Christine, the greening spirit

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In Joan Chittisters’s wonderful book, “The Gift of Years”, she writes  “The French call the years after  (official) retirement ‘the third age’ “.  She goes on throughout this lovely book to encourage and cheerlead those from about the age of 60  right until past 90 to see this time period as one filled with many blessings, though of course requiring  some attitude adjustments.

One of the blessings of this time for me ( and I am still working/teaching part-time and far from 90!) is the ability to look backwards down through the years, coming to better understand where I had been, be more acutely aware of the preciousness of NOW in this moment, and have a new tenderness, patience and compassion for those who are ahead of me and closer to eternity.

Inotherwords, perspective.

We have different agendas at each phase of life and Joan’s book eloquently captures all of them in her fascinating chapters.  For me, people- watching at the beach often captures the poignancy, humor and understanding of the different phases we move through…an enjoyable pastime for me in the now-available “floating” times I have to meander out and about with my camera, trying to capture in images what Joan offers  in words.

The beach and beach walkers all have different agendas. I have grandsons and know so well how little boys cannot resist skimming stones and small rocks across the waves…testing how far they can throw their dreams out upon the waters. Is the horizon the limit? Or is there more adventure beyond that? And the retired couple…holding hands, a slow stroll, maybe no need for talking, reconnecting after the active frenzied life of  youth and the middle years of  work and accomplishments, family and friends and many responsibilities, challenges and adventures.

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What about the Girlfriends? Such a familiar scene…. best friends…when teenage, sharing giggles over boys, middle years, long commiserations about relationships and challenges with husbands or lovers, shared wisdoms about raising kids, sisterhood guidance about following new paths of inspiration…. and older years…women soulsisters reminiscing and proud stories of grandchildren and adult children, comparing notes about health and lifestyle changes… I love this picture of these two girlfriends, deep in conversation along the beach, determined to keep sharing stories besides the challenges of the swirling gusts of wind threatening to snatch hat or skirt hems.

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And then, there is another agenda that is not age-related, but “spirit’  related when beach time is a no- agenda solitary time to just be, bringing nature and soul together in solitude to the music of sea and wind.

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I am glad to be in this “third age” of life, giving me time to devote myself to writing, photography and pondering where I have been up to this point, where I am NOW in this gifted moment, and how I want to craft my life living at the edge along the shores of existence. Always a walk at the beach will inspire me to know the right way for me to live more fully.

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

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