Thursday, June 7, 2018

George + Georgia

George Nakashima, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Father Aelred Wall at the site of the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Dessert, designed by Nakashima, in the land where O'Keeffe (and Agnes Martin and so many others) created their most vulnerable work.   I visited this magical place last week.  I watched the mountain birds (I think they're swallows) nosediving into the river gorge and around my car on the 13 mile stretch of brown, gravel road leading to the monastery, a road with no railing and steep drop offs. The flight pattern of the birds matched the pattern of the flowing river.  It was all playing together,  joy in the form of harmonious movement, and I felt all of it in my own body.  It broke something up in me, in my chest, touched a buried longing, and made room for what was to come. 

I've just returned home from this trip to New Mexico. I went to experience the desert, which was still so foreign to me when I left, and then introduced itself as old friend. I feel tied to it forever now.    I went to experience favorite pieces of art by some of my heroes, in the land where they made their works.  heroes who really were something of the hermit archetype that has resonated so deeply with me these last years.  I feel them with me now, pressing me to create. 

 I went to breathe with a group of witchy women (and three awesome men) in David Elliot's Breathwork Healer Training.  I experienced the back of my heart open for the first time in many years.   I saw clearly my challenges going forward, how I've abandoned myself.  how I've shown up for myself, loved, protected - those things, too.   So many synchronicities and dreams, after years of silence.  I was blown away. blown wide open. I'm feeling so grateful to everyone connected to this particular journey for me - those with whom I shared it, those who introduced me to it, offered me the practice, to David, and to myself for doing the work.  I'm already looking forward to completing level 4, the final class, and connecting even deeper. 

  Those are the basics of why I went, the surface. What I learned about the deeper elements of why I went is for another post, maybe for a completely new blog. I'm still figuring out how to reawaken my writing and creative process here, whether to start fresh with a new site and blog (resisting the urge to tweak this one right now!)  I'm feeling it out, and will find it, but I don't want to wait until things are perfect to share again.  This hesitation to share kept me safe when I started using it here and in so many other areas of my life, but it's hindering me now.  It's time to let it go.

So much has changed for so many of us in these last several years, right?  It always does, I know, but this feels a more turbulent time.  Myself,  I left city life and moved to acres in the country, in a small county of creatives, makers/shakers, farm-to-tablers.  I've fallen in love with the mountains and land here, the rivers, with the animals, the people, with my own hands. It feels energetically like a greener sister to Taos, NM, which has my heart now, too.

 I've become a teacher of Kundalini Yoga, too - a year long journey that challenged me in every way imaginable, and got me back in my body in a tangible way, showed me my broken heart, created space for me to open it up again.

 I also left my marriage after many years of work and struggling to hang on.  I alluded to it in a post here years back,  the one about my daughter's tooth: "Standing over my sink, warm water on my hands, staring out the open window, crying, I tried to imagine how to let go of of a chapter in my life that is overdue for release.....It will fall away when it's ready, a little at a time..."  That's exactly how it went - a little at a time, a slow easing in, though when I wrote what I wrote then, I could hardly acknowledge it.  I made myself type it out then, so I'd trust it was a real knowing, that I wasn't going crazy.  That was the first step.  Showing up here and sharing what I wrote helped me validate what I did not want to face, what I couldn't say to anyone.  Then, later into this transition, my shame around the loss of my marriage would begin to prevent me from showing up, from connecting - to people, to my creative process, to this space, to my heart.  The initial instinct to protect there was healthy.  After all, there's a time to hold things close to the chest, to keep them secret.  but that time has passed, too.  I'm ready to be seen again in all the truth of my life.   

One thing I've learned about loss is that one loss often opens the door for more - people tend to leave together, sometimes sharply, sometimes softly.  Sometimes they leave because they can't watch you suffer, or offer their energy while you come unglued. and they can't do this for myriad reasons, many of them solid reasons around their own need for boundaries.  I see, respect, and honor that.  Sometimes they step away because you actually left them while you grieved - things were no longer reciprocal, there was not an even exchange.  I see and respect this, too, and I'm sorry to those I left behind in the midst of my all-consuming turbulence.  However they leave, you let them go. You send them love, and for some you leave an open space for return, especially the ones you abandoned in your shame.  I'm not alone here with this type of loss.  I've heard this over and over from those around me - this has been a big part of the tumult of the last several years. I think a lot about how this is coming to so many relationships from a larger, overriding cultural origin.  I want to understand it better, but my work now is to move through the feelings of it, how I've carried it in my chest and throat. 

I am entering the space of my Uranus half return now, in my (almost) 41st year, as Uranus moves further into Taurus.  Astrologers call it the "motorcycle transit" b/c it's what we know in the west as a midlife crisis.  I'm feeling it!  It's pushing me out again (reluctantly, but I'm listening).  There's a post on this topic bubbling up in me, too.  Many of us are here together in this transition, and it's a big one.  We can support each other through sharing. For now, I just want to say, you aren't crazy, and it's probably not menopause (yet).   If you want to read more on this, I highly recommend the book: 

--Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini, by Barbara Hand Clow.
It's also great for understanding Saturn return (around age 30).  And Chiron transit (50s) and wound.

I have many more tools on navigating Uranus half-return, and will post them soon!

I am still thinking about names!  but mostly in a philosophical sense, about the sacred act of naming, of calling something into being through word, anointing.  More specifically and concretely, I'm thinking about the naming process as I search for a name that feels right for the offerings I want to bring to my community, my beautiful community who has given me and my girls so much support and richness, held us, really, people as sturdy as the mountains they call home. 

So here I am, easing back in.  It wasn't so complicated.  It wasn't so huge a moment.  It needn't be perfect, over thought -- another thing I'm letting go -- and I don't need permission. 

Thank you for coming here even when I did not.  Thank you for reading now.  I don't know exactly where this space is going quite yet, but I know I want to invite you all along. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I seek for myself in the WORD

I'm just gonna jump back in here after a long pause.  This has been a busy year: moving, starting the grades work in our homeschooling journey, co-creating and organizing weekly a local homeschool co-op, new pets, planning a major trip, postponing the same major trip.  So many times I've wanted to post but didn't make the time - I've been too overwhelmed (something I feel quite easily) trying to find a rhythm in the midst of all the newness and emotional ups and downs since summer.  I'm happy to say I'm starting to find my stride .   It was simple but overlooked: find what I'm most drawn to in the educational style we've chosen and focus on it.  That's what I can offer the most authentically.  For me, it's the spiritual and artistic leanings of our process.   Waldorf education initially appealed to me because learning is achieved by weaving spirit (wholeness) into every task; wholeness is the goal of education, in fact; and we can't separate spirit and body, so learning is in movement, woven together with practices like archetypal stimulation and color therapy.  I got overwhelmed in the tasks and forgot the underlying essence.  Since this step back and refocusing, the rest is falling in to place, and I'm finding myself reenergized and totally inspired by much of Rudolph Steiner's work.

For the last few weeks I've been focusing my research on the practice of Eurythmy - basically the spoken word expressed as movement, used in education, therapy, and as a form of movement art.  I can't resist a synthesis, and this one is particularly enticing.  I remember reading once that we  are all synesthetes in the beginning, but we grow into the neurological state of having separate and distinct senses.  For some people, synesthetes, this development is arrested to varying degrees, so some of the senses remain entangled.  But we all still have access to our own union of the senses (I think we each have different abilities in terms of what is easily unified for us).  It's healing to actively unite them, anyway.  

Does it take us back, perhaps, to a time when our developing, distinct consciousness wasn't so distinct, when our sense of self was blurred into the world around us?  to a time when our primary experience of reality was one of wholeness and connection, both to everything outside us and of our own long since partitioned aspects-of-self to each other?  And perhaps it simultaneously grounds us, incarnates us ever more into our very physical human experience, an expression of the non-dualistic nature of reality.  My plan is to learn the dance and think/feel/move/teach my way into knowing Eurythmy.

Anyone have experience with Eurythmy?  I'd love to hear about it!

Above is a image of Gail Langstroth, eurythmist and poet -
-  "Each work of art is a transformation of a substance or material. The poet uses sounds, words; the sculptor shapes stone, metal, wood, clay; the dancer sculpts air in space; the philosopher moves the light within ideas. An artist feels the sacred roots of his or her individuality and imprints his or her idea into a given substance—changing its constitution into gold.  Art is the Alchemical Process of Holy Graffiti."   

-  Her work is inspiring, from her intuitive translations of Steiner - "Earth's weight of gravity speaks through the word will of my feet" 
and her photographed movement

- to her poetry,  I love Blue Indestructible.

- and Here she is dancing Hallelujah.

Some other relating bits:

- A lecture on Steiner and Jung (in fact, a lot of the lectures posted by ArchetypalVeiw seem super interesting).

- just ordering this book, Eurythmy - Rhythm, Dance and Soul.  love the description:  "A historical context is provided by means of a brief survey of dance, from its beginnings in the ancient mysteries to today's forms of dance. The author explains Steiner's insight into the hidden laws of movement —which Steiner designated as belonging to the realm of the etheric." 

I hope it won't be another six months before I check back in here!  I've missed it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

moving on again

This is long one, a personal one .... a letter to something I've loved, though this goodbye is a timely and much needed change. 

I'm packing up our home today. packing and crying.  assuring my girls that these intense, sudden bursts of tears are beautiful, healthy medicine.  Nona says, "I know, Mommy."   I smile and breathe a sigh of relief because they're good with tears, their own and those of others.  They learned this comfort here in this house, where they learned most of the good stuff they know (and the bad). 

 Today is the anniversary of my mother's death.  I had a memory as I stood, arms propped on a box of her belongings, taking a break from packing to cry some more:  my body was in the exact same position the last time I stood over this box, when I was about to move it from her home in Tennessee to my home in Virginia.  I had a ten month old baby on my back then.  The box was in her garage, which had been being prepped to become a larger kitchen. her dreams and plans... there were so many, so much change in her life.  I stood in her garage crying, hands propped on that box, trying to imagine how I would have the strength to get through that sort of move.  I couldn't see myself doing it, getting from there to here. 

Yesterday was the day I counted how many times I've moved in my life.  nineteen times.  wrapping, packing, unpacking.  I like to count, to group things together, see patterns.  Today was the day I realized that the last time I did this moving, I was packing up my parent's home.  I hadn't counted that one yesterday.  amazing  how such a realization could go undiscovered until the day I start sorting, wrapping and packing up this house. amazing that I find myself doing this work on the anniversary of my mother's death.  It's a blessing.  Moving my body in this way, doing these tasks brings it all up and out again, all the parts I haven't  thought so much about, since.....  the packing of her things, the letting go, the caring for two small children through it all.  the finding out about people.... which ones were true and which weren't.... those losses, too.  At times I felt I'd lost everyone but my children.  and I was furious for their loss.  and for my parents loss... that other people would get to know my children, but they wouldn't.  I was furious about so many things, things that had been buried, things that were new.  

 I keep moving today in the same way as then, keep crying, though these tears are different.  It feels good, like scratching an itch.  I know this pain, I know what to do with it and I know where I'm going. 

I think about how much has happened in our lives since moving into this home.   We moved here just after my father's death.  I was thirty-four weeks pregnant with our youngest.  It was such a complicated time.... grieving a father, a place, and feeling such joyous anticipation for this new life, trying to stay as emotionally stable as possible for her.   I gave birth to June in my bedroom here.  It was perfect and beautiful.  All of her firsts were here.  and many of Nona's, too.  I think they will forever be frozen in my mind at ages five and a half and three.  always in their underwear, even in winter.  messy brown hair.  their voices.  their feet pitter pattering on the floors, such distinct sounds from one another.  their little toes.

I learned to sew here, to love making clothes.  Learned to knit, which I do now in my mother's knitting chair in our living room.  I see why she chose it, the chair and the knitting.  Her last project was a red sweater for Nona.  My mom's friend (the one who taught her to knit, the one I didn't know well before my mother's death but who stuck by our sides through it all and continues to be a dear friend) finished knitting the sweater for her.  for us.  so we could "keep those precious stitches".   I am knitting a sweater now.

This home has seen me through the most difficult, beautiful and intense period of self-discovery.  I broke down here, fell apart and rebuilt myself.  rediscovered.   I became a woman here, one who sees her flaws with honesty and loves herself anyway.... most of the time.  This is the place where I learned to really share and trust, to know what I want, and how to give. 

I saw my mother for the last time here in this house. We were hanging one of those flag banners in Nona's room.   She stood there with her suitcase, waiting for my husband to take her to the airport.   "Move the right side up a bit, sweetheart. That's it.  Perfect.  Here's Chris, I have to go."  I took a good, long look at her and smiled, "You know I don't like to say goodbye. Can you just tell me you'll see me in a month?  I love you, Mom."   She smiled, "I love you, Kristen.  I'll see you next month, sweetheart."
I'll take the flag banner down tomorrow.

This place is the last place she knew where to find me, knew our life.  In her last memories, this is where we are. I think I've had this worry that some part of her will be lost when we go.  Or maybe the worry is that some part of me will be lost to her....  lost to myself, too.  My parents were the lone knowers of some parts of me.  Sometimes I feel those parts have been lost.  They haven't.  It's up to me now to actively remember, give myself what my parents gave me, see what they saw,  share it.  know what to hold close and what to let vanish.  vanishing bits aren't all bad. 

We found our new home on the new moon.  We weren't planning to move, but the stars aligned, and there it was.  Our new neighborhood and home is so much of what I've been wishing for over the last few years.  So much the girls have wished for.   It's going to be really good.   We'll be there in two weeks, unpacking.  I look at my living room now and I can't imagine getting from here to there.  But I know I will.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


"As dusk approaches in the hinterlands, a traveler ponders shelter for the night. He notices brushes growing everywhere, so he bundles an armful together as they stand in the field, and knots them at the top.  Presto, a living grass hut.  The next morning, before embarking on another day's journey, he un-knots the rushes and presto, the hut de-constructs, disappears, and becomes a virtually indistinguishable part of the larger field of rushes once again.  The original wilderness seems to be restored, but minute traces of the shelter remain.  A slight twist or bend in a reed here and there.  There is also the memory of the hut in the mind of the traveler - and in the mind of the reader reading this description.  Wabi-sabi, in it's purest, most idealized form, is precisely about these delicate traces, this faint evidence, at the borders of nothingness." 
 - Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers

I've been thinking a lot about (and feeling) this feeling lately, the feeling left by faint traces.  especially today as I watch the little snow mounds where the girls buried themselves early this morning blend away.   I hesitate to pick a favorite feeling, but this is definitely one of them.

image - Cecile Daladier journal

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Love this satellite mosaic image of Antarctica from Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center.  I want to paint it.  seems fitting on our coldest windy day in over twenty (thirty?) years.

I broke my juice fast last night, as planned, with some delicious pineapple and guacamole. woke up this morning realizing I wasn't quite ready to end it, so I'm continuing on.  I've gained a lot through this process, a lot of insight, but I only feel like typing and being online in short, limited spurts.  so the only things I will share for now are:

- a little jalapeƱo goes a long way (twenty something years of eating them, and this lesson is still hard learned for me).

- lime and ginger are good in pretty much every juice.

- the juice of 1/2 a pineapple, 1 white yam, and a knuckle of ginger is rich, milky perfection (mint is good in it, too).  the best dessert!   I'm excited to try it in a shake.

- planning to try this green juice recipe tonight from owner of L.A.'s Moon Juice, Amanda Chantal Bacon.

....  going offline from now till the end of this thing, whenever that is.

Claire Decet

Found Claire Decet's work at tigers to lilies a few days ago.  then came across this short video of Claire while searching for more of her work.

more favorite shots of her work:

images via johnrochard 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

white-cloud pear

My six year old names everything.  I always love her creations.  For Christmas this year I got a new juicer - she named it White-Cloud Pear.  White-Cloud Pear is going to be a huge part of 2014.  I find the things that hook me are as much about process as product - something addicting about the process of juicing. 

- I'm doing a juice fast with this bunch to start 2014.  It's pretty powerful to think that there are hundreds of us (thousands?) across the country doing this new moon cleanse together (you can start anytime, of course.)  Last night at my local market, noticing my tell-tale cart full of produce, the women helping me check out prompted a chat.  One of them had also just gotten a juicer for Christmas and was starting a cleanse, too.  Soon we were swapping recipes and sharing offerings of support - not super common in this neck of the woods, so all the nicer.    

 - I'm pinning a lot of juice recipes and information on cleansing.  

- Doing this amazing meditation. I plan on doing the walking-grounding portion at least weekly this month. 

-  On New Year's Eve I finished this book by Judith Duerk.  Then went to a neighborhood New Year's day gathering at the home of an older woman across the street. We've been neighbors for almost four years, but this is the first year I felt social enough to want to go.  I'm so glad I did.  I sat in a circle of women, all in their sixties and seventies, sharing and bonding.  It's an invigorating and comforting energy found amongst women in their wisdom years.  One of them was an early graphic designer and artist for Ben and Jerry's - shared stories of Jerry fire-eating at company parties.  One of them was an avid traveler and photographer, having just returned from Ireland, and another a passionate environmentalist talking about the importance of replacing lawns with food bearing plants and wildflowers, the importance of all wild things - in and out.  

- And my neighbor, Joan, hostess of our party, was recently the subject of this film, about her journey as a civil rights activist in the 1960's.  Never knew this part of her.  We have so much to soak up from the lives of our elders, now more than ever.  They began a lot of our current movements and can offer us the guidance they didn't have in their time, which we can then pass on during our golden years.  (amazing - *just* as I was linking to the film about Joan, a knock on my door - it was Joan, bringing butterfly art, stamps and books to the girls for our studies next week.) 

Since moving here to the dc area, I've really felt like a fish out of water - it's been lonely.  Even my therapist urges me, "Kristen, you're in the wrong place."   She's right, but I'm starting to see this particular challenge as an opportunity, too.  Yesterday, I removed some of my self-imposed blockages regarding what social connections should look like, what friends should look like.  I learned more about what I'm willing to compromise and what I'm not - Age, for example, or geographic proximity is less important than shared values and kindred connection, a place where you can bare yourself honestly and be affirmed.  I experienced, yet again, the benefits of sharing oneself and the intimately personal, something I still find challenging.  I am so grateful to those who embolden me, by encouragement and example, to trust in this sharing we do. 

which reminds me to end with this quote by Neil Gaiman:

- "the moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right."  Found here.   

 2013 was absolutely transformative for me and my family.  2014 is off to an even more promising start.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Renate Hiller

Our hands have memories to share with us - memories of ourselves and each other, of our values, the cosmos.  I love the idea that through movement (more specifically here through working with our hands) we come into direct contact with our most sacred values, with that level of reality that holds all else within it, with the essentials that must be felt to be known... to be remembered.  I was thinking a lot yesterday about accessing memories through movement, and then about knowledge as memory, so I'm really seeing this video today through that lens.

a little more about Renate and her work here.

Happy Holidays! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Tonight, this darkest night of the year, is a great night for dreams.  As part of our solstice celebration, we filled an old family bowl with water and dropped in what we had on hand for wish making - eucalyptus leaves, berries, and small quartz crystals.  We wished for what we want to dream about tonight.  Tomorrow morning we'll gently take our dream water outside into the darkness. We'll gather over it once more to share our dreams with each other, then we'll eat sun cake and feed the birds as we welcome the sunrise.  

I really liked the idea of making wish bread, dropping wishes (raisins) into the dough as we knead it.  But we all prefer the taste of sun (lemon) cake, so we combined the traditions, substituting cranberries for raisins.  A wish for the coming new year falling with each cranberry, stirred into the cake batter - it was my favorite part of the evening. 

The idea for the dream incubation is in this book, along with amazing seasonal activities, stories and recipes for the entire year.  We were in real need of nature-themed, seasonal, archetypal stories that honor women and girls with the dignified roles we deserve - it's no surprise that stories from the goddess tradition do this really well.  We do Waldorf homeschooling here, and while I agree that fairytales are beneficial for some of their archetypal imagery, I'm super put off by many of the stories in our curriculum. Often women are simply props or property to be married off to a young (male) protagonist as a reward for demonstrating his bravery.  Obviously, such stories are not useable - I've spent too many nights rewriting them.  Much of the Waldorf style of learning really resonates with us, so I'm happy to find such kindred substitutes for the parts that don't.  

I'm going to end my night with some painting after a ten year break.  I used to really love painting, but I quit because I wasn't great.  I was missing the point then, but I won't tonight.

How are you celebrating? 

Wishing you all the time and space for quiet reflection and rest in the coming months - happy solstice!

image by Fabio Leone

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

one hundred years, tomorrow

Some of my most transformative self-discoveries and mystical experiences (along with everyday, practical insights, like where that lost twenty dollar bill landed and how to get impossible lids off jars) have come to me in that state between waking and dreaming, in both coming in and out of sleep, though usually coming out.  In researching Carl Jung's active-imagination technique a bit, I notice similarities to these half-awake explorations.

To date, all of my reading about Jung's version of this practice has taken place in the last week. And I noticed something that's blowing my mind a little:  Jung's first experience with active imagination happened on December 12th, 1913 - exactly one hundred years ago tomorrow! 

I plan to allow myself plenty of opportunities tomorrow to practice active imagination (celebrating this anniversary of Jung's feels particularly ceremonial to me because he and I also share the same birthday).

So…who's with me? If you're a fan of Jung, I can't think of a better way to celebrate him. 

There seem to be many ways to practice active imagination, from painting and dance to writing and meditation.  But the place between dreams and wakefulness is a particularly ripe time to dive into this practice because it's a time when we are very relaxed, open and generous with imagery.

We all experience sudden visuals or dream like experiences as we're drifting off or beginning to wake. The key, as I understand it, is to move beyond passive experience to active participation - to interact with the imagery, give it personification, treat it as real, ask it questions, all without controlling the outcome(as we often do in a daydream), and without drifting into sleep, forgetfulness or passivity.  This practice is different from lucid dreaming, but I think the same techniques applied to lucid dreams could only enrich them.

While I have found this time on the boundaries of sleep to be super potent for imagery, it's also extremely challenging (for me anyway) not to drift off.  I'm hoping to be able to hold my practice tomorrow in that magic half-asleep space, but I'm prepared to simply collect those images and work with them later if the urge to snooze overtakes me.  I also plan to work with an animal that appears to me frequently in this state.   

 The following links may make active imagination a little simpler for a sort of drop-in, short notice practice, though I certainly encourage a deeper exploration: 

here (I love Marie-Louise Von France - take special note of #4)

here (super quick, super simple video)

story of Jung's first experience with active imagination

Please do leave a comment with further resources,experience, or suggestions if you can, and by all means, if you participate tomorrow, feel free to share your experiences! 

 And you all may notice I'm not writing as much these days about the *names* in the margins - just gotta go where my heart goes - but I promise to keep it all marginal around here and not to abandon names completely.  Word to the wise? When creating a blog name, give it room to grow with you.