Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

The Grace and Gift of Austin

Into The Light2016 ends with my neighbor Austin’s death, a woman whose life at its heart, was an inspiration to everyone who was fortunate enough to meet her. An artist into her eighties, her home showcased canvases and masks, hanging on the wall, inviting the visitor into a corner of her rich and complex psyche, a true wild woman who I am sure channeled moonlight through her fingertips. It wasn’t so much who she was in life, it was how she was, that moved us.

Three times a week, she walked the hills around our little town with her friend, Denise, huddled together, two ancient women undaunted by the climb.

Austin had a large deck that wrapped around her house, the centerpiece of which was a claw foot bathtub, plumbed so that she could run hot water and soak outside, while she looked up at the stars.

From the branch of a fruit tree in her garden hung a blue chandelier. Another tree, one that had died, one that might have been a nuisance or an eyesore to someone else, she adorned with glass bottles making it a prominent piece of art.

Sometimes the sound of drumming was carried by the evening air, a gentle, pulsing, rhythm of celebration. Surrounded by people of all ages, sitting in a circle on her deck, everyone drummed, this amazing woman at the circle’s center keeping time.

When my husband and I moved into the neighborhood, she hand wrote invitations and put them in all of the mailboxes, inviting us to gather on her deck. We learned we were not the first people to be welcomed by her in this way. And it was at her house where we began relationships with our neighbors over garden tomatoes, cheese and wine, all of us delighting at the ultimate conversation piece, that claw foot bathtub.

How can such a woman be anything but beloved? Everyone knew her and everyone loved her. She was for our community a true elder who with wisdom and wit, relished the journey and made things with her hands and her heart to the very end. For her, age was not a limitation but a force that propelled creativity to greater heights.

This past summer, she built a small studio on her land, replete with a garage door that opened to the garden. With a surge of artistic juice, she created the work for what was to be her last show in October. The cancer that overtook her brain, came fast and hard. Still, she managed to display her creations one last time before the disease stole her away from this realm to one where I imagine blue chandeliers hang from all of the trees.

Austin died at home yesterday morning and I have spent the last twenty-four hours allowing myself to open to the inspiration she left in death’s wake:

Why settle for convention, she showed us all, when you can have a claw foot bathtub in the middle of your deck? Why recede from life when there is so much art to be made, when there are so many new friends to meet? Why stop, when the hills beckon your steps every other day? And most importantly, why not live wild and free until every last drop of life is wrung from the cloth of your being?

I will miss seeing Austin. I am sorry that I didn’t know her better or longer and I am so very honored and grateful that I got to know her at all. My life and the lives in this community are richer because of her. I think that each of us secretly hopes that we will age as fully and as well as she did. She sure showed us how it’s done.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Holiday Wishes

img_0174Just a dusting of snow, not much at all, but enough to punctuate the date, December 24, 2016. My neighbor’s have all turned on their tree lights and smoke escapes the chimneys mingling in the morning fog.

I am hunkered down with tea and  a laptop, moving forward on a manuscript that has had its hands around my throat for the past year and may finally be loosening its grip. Learning is like that, two steps forward and six steps back.

My husband and I will go to the movies this afternoon. For most of our marriage it has been just the two of us and our holiday rituals are simple. I’m appreciating the quiet that has fallen over our house, the twinkle of tree lights and the promise of roasted duck for two.

My life is blessed beyond measure: a loving husband, fun and kind friends, a beautiful town surrounded by woods and trails, a faithful dog, plenty of food and decent health.

Dear readers, thank you always for stopping by. May your heart be full and your spirit light. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Donald Trump, Blue Beard and the Feminine

Warrior womanShakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” As a writer, I see it this way: all the world’s a story, and all the men and women merely characters.

I recently talked with a friend who is a Jungian analyst and has spent many years collecting fairy tales and myths. “What is the story that can show us some hope about the election results?” I asked him. He told me that he sees Donald Trump as fitting into the archetype of Blue Beard (dark and destructive). At first glance, that doesn’t sound very hopeful at all, yet the tale does resolve on a high note. If you are not familiar with the Grimm’s fairy tale, it goes like this:

Blue Beard was a wealthy aristocrat, but he was ugly and was known for his strange blue beard. The people in his village were impressed by his wealth and happy to attend the lavish parties he threw. And they were willing to overlook that all of Blue Beard’s wives disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Of course, that didn’t stop Blue Beard from getting married multiple times. At one party, he met a beautiful, young woman to whom he proposed marriage and she accepted.

Blue Beard traveled a lot for business, but left his new bride with keys to all of the rooms in his castle and told her that she had the run of the place while he was gone. The young woman enjoyed looking through many magnificent rooms. One day she found a locked door. Trying the keys that Blue Beard had left her, she opened the door to discover Blue Beard’s previous wives, dead and hanging from meat hooks. She was shocked and afraid. Running out of the room, she tripped and dropped the keys into a pool of blood on the floor. She tried to wash the keys, but the key that opened the room of death would not come clean.

Before Blue Beard came home, the wife had stationed her two sisters in turrets on either side of the castle. Upon Blue Beard’s return he discovered the bloody key and told his bride that now she too would have to die. His young wife said the she understood, and begged him to give her a little time to prepare herself. Blue Beard told her that she could have one quarter of an hour. She went to the window and signaled her sisters. They in turn, alerted the brothers who were waiting down the road. The brothers rushed into the castle and killed Blue Beard before he could kill his bride. ~~~

Here is my interpretation of the story as it applies to Donald Trump and the feminine. Trump, is of course, Blue Beard. He is symbolically the ugly man as evidenced by his crude rhetoric toward women. His beard is not blue, but his skin is orange. His wealth and power are seductive to a lot of people who confuse being rich with being great.

The dead wives hanging on the meat hooks represent Trump’s disdain for women. The bride in the story represents the strong, smart feminine, who resists being battered and killed. Blue Beard’s bride steels herself and lies to the liar. “Let me prepare for my death,” she asks of him. Unbeknownst, to Blue Beard she has called in help from her brothers, symbolic of conjuring her male energy and becoming the warrior. This is the hopeful part of the story: The feminine becomes the warrior and destroys the aggressor, saving the day.  And peace fell over the land. Well, at least that’s what like to think will happen.

Here’s what is happening: All over social media, we see the presence of the feminine, coming forward. Trends toward positivity and gratitude are everywhere. These are the receptive parts of the feminine. Too, we are seeing the woman warrior who is both receptive and strong speaking out in resistance to the orange man (Blue Beard).

All the world’s a story and a good story can change the way  we see the world. I am always looking for the story I am in. It gives me context in which to hold certain life experiences. We are connected by our stories, the collective of our conscious and unconscious, and in these stories are we able to assign meaning and find hopefulness and transformation. Steel up, ladies. Stand in the light of your truth. And never forget that strong, smart women do prevail.