Wild Women Wisdom
I walk a lot on empty beaches. It helps me breathe from muscly places in my belly that otherwise I can’t feel because they’re so deep. So last Monday I guess it was, walking along the roiled and wilen coast, beholding the brown and black and steel greys of Hurricane Maria’s deeps, there came this fleeting thought. You could go camping Thursday, if so and so falls into place…there’s a window you could squeeze it in and camp until work Friday at noon.
I went camping because I could and because it meant forcing myself, because it’s lofty camping on your own, the reality of it, and takes work to follow it through.
I set my tent on the bayside of one of our barrier islands that is also a national park. Basic. Satisfied. There was a natural arbor of wild grape vines behind my little dome that opened into a wooded purple stained path leading to the water. I cruised to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, windy still from the passing of Maria, a storm whose effect was surged and shuddered oceans, thankfully no impact on our lil mid-Atlantic spits of swampy forest and farm lands. It was 17 mph that day and the sea stacked her sets, breaking two and even three peaks one on top the other, crossing and cursing currents also ripped by longshore tides. I got to the beach and no one was in and barely anyone was there. Far out were two surfers catching nothing. I used my fins to swim and the lifeguard watched from a truck for 10 minutes before leaving me to my whim.
By the end of the swim I was restless. I went camping because care for my soul life and nurturing it is, at the end of the day, up to only me. It is not a pill I can take, it comes down to how I choose to feed the parts I feel but cannot see. I went back to camp, then walked out to the Bay. I wrote just to write, the other sure fire practice that personally illumines my life, helps me feel like I’m living my hours in a way that’s more filled in.
Now, it is harvest week, the last full moon of the growing season. Growth: concept of momentum, of stored energy completing its cycles of motion, of sugared sun translating from storage to fruit. The moon peaks full Thursday. From there on the cycles wheel us deeper and deeper underground.
I spent yesterday’s quiet practice reflecting on all the experiences of the year. It’s been a hard one. A flippen lot of pain, death and illnesses and other loss. It has also been rich with celebration and good relations: women’s medicine, and being close to the earth, to family joy, to art, to nurtured time with dear friends.
And in all, deep-tilling the ground from which I’ll grow my dreams.
Back at camp, over the bay the sun dropped. For a half hour or so I beheld the experience, did nothing other than witness just to see how that would go.
Walking back to my tent was twinkly twilight glee, an energy pouring into and out of me like a child. The fire I built was from kindling I hatcheted myself!! I ate fish cooked over the grate and these two experiences alone fulfilled me like nothing else I can really say…
Then the stars, how every one that appeared signaled some new part of myself that showed up and I want it to be clear, how the glee passed and how uncomfortable that was, sitting still with the funked out shit of my personal experiences this year. I sat and sat, unplugged 100% and decompressing from that, because I know unquestionably that while it isn’t always immediate: Nature heals the soul.
Eventually, many hours into the night, came peace, and the sweetness of being inwardly still, a being among beingness, with the burnt down embers of my fire and the marvel of all those specs of sparkle stars.
Nature restores my inward settings, it has yet again helped me process which is how I keep moving. Of that knowing, and the reality for me this year that writing and creative downtime are not only non-negotiables but that this has zero to do with production for commodity value, I am proud to say my Harvest this year is part of my day to day.
I emerge this Harvest week sure of the same ol medicine. The soul life is up to only me to tend for me, and its absence manifests in all ways physical and mental, of that it’s a guarantee.
That’s a lot of bounty I’d say, and so it was that Poetry came through to reflect it for me the next morning at camp over hot coffee and stunning late September blue, as Poetry expressing the Wild Nature does oh yes, oh yes it does!!
There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation, to wit, its own nature. The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul is. Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being. Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole.
From “Compensation”, in Essays and Poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Seven years ago in 2010 before California, before north cubby holes and south green rooms and southwest desert sandstorms, I would stand on the deck waiting tables at the Yacht Club in Ocean Pines, wind blowing (like a million different Pusser’s winds, Naptown holllaaa wudup Chessie and back then) and it blew warm and westerly like Hawaii, through my hair.
By the time second season came on that wind blew every single time a cover band played Ventura Highway. The kind of timing that always makes me giggle, alright alright haha I hear you, mama earth-G0d-Mystery-Baby Jesus, whatever it is. All Love no disrespect. Ventura Highway special wind all that Fall.
Anyway, that’s how I knew I would roll. Or how the Call came when I said yes to it All. Listening to the wind 🙂
Chessie the Bay Monster at Light City last weekend, where the Bay meets the City, Inner Harbor, Bmore
Now that I’m back home, land of birth-home original-soul home, I think all the time about Pirate Life. Haha maybe you have to be a writer to understand this? All love to Erika and our Nous, if so. My own private inside though, my secret place to run, haha since I was a kid! Is a yohohum deep in there that came alive whenever I neared the tide line of beach mud.
It’s been really alive since June 2015, when I arrived back in Maryland after a 10-day on the road cruise, back east from Laguna Beach. California Adventure behind me.
Pirate Life. I can’t help it you guys. Argh y’all, it’s true. I listen to the wind 🙂
Other things Calling. It was CSNY Southern Cross that called me again, back home here. And ohhh for real, oh wow them warm Laguna Canyon winds.
Carl Jung called these synchronicity. Joseph Campbell lined up coincidences in rows and said, this network from inside to outside you that you can follow is Divine, is the Mystery, and when you acknowledge this, you Follow your bliss.
This blog is a sweet outpost for me: A crow’s nest for my soul. A high and wide in the branch somewhere in the home of a Keebler elf. Hobbit style keeping eye lookout on all the kids. Thanks for letting me indulge the Words as a way of saying thanks to the Holy What Is.
Most of this article appeared on Wild Women Wisdom originally on March 4, 2013
Now, it’s important to clarify some ideas.
This work, the women’s work or depth development, lets call it soul work. Soul work can edge up next to concepts that are self-helpy and lots of people, including myself, get eye rolls when it comes to that subject. Yea, it seems to surprise people when they learn that I shrink at New Agey I’m-okay-you’re-okay movements. How can I bulk at New Age stuff and keep a column that educates on the symbolism and influence of cycles in our life!?
Specifically, it’s any philosophy that says it alone is the right way or the only, singular answer that makes me grind my teeth. Finger-wagging judginess immediately shuts me down. This is LIFE! Multiplicitious, infinite, totally quantam. There are sooo many options, so many solutions. A person says spirituality should be this or should look that way and I am the first to counter: the most spiritual thing I’ve done all week was dance sweaty til 3 am then eat a cheese steak dripping full with grease…!!
Soul work, to me, resonates because it is personal. It starts with the premise that the answers are within you. A person like me just affirms the existence of what Carl Jung calls the anima function–the receptive, the dark or normally unseen, the soul. It is my goal to grow an appreciation of how our society has suppressed this aspect, to help see how our thoughts have programmed “tapes” that run in support of this suppression in your own life, and finally to help translate how the soul might be speaking to you. I am, after all, a language teacher! Your connection to your own deep sense of aliveness has nothing to do with how I define mine, likewise I have no business telling you how to experience or define yours. I just help you tap into and follow the communication going on in your interior life.
Soul-work IS NOT self-esteem. Laura San Nicolas, a soul-focused psychotherapist in Laguna Beach, emphasizes this. It’s not about feeling better about ourselves. In the Western world, the generation in which I was raised, as well as the ones beneath mine, have come of age with this stigma: brought-up with unspoken entitlement resulting from having all our security needs easily provided for. Think Maslow here. We live an inherent belief system that life should be easy, and if indeed we are confronted to actually develop and challenge ourselves, we bemoan that life isn’t meant to feel this way because it feels hard or we think we shouldn’t struggle. As Laura says, “Who ever said that life wasn’t meant to scare us? To be difficult or challenging?”
We have on our hands generations of twenty-and thirty-somethings, (I count myself among these numbers here!!) having “quarter-life crisises” or “thrisis-es” because the concept of self-esteem is uniquely tied in to the same soul-suppressing, societal brainwash that equates self-worth to consumer success. I have+so I feel good=I am worth it! So when the soul-life, which is the life that regenerates us from within, that helps us acquire meaningful understanding of our own experience and therefor gives us reason to engage from day to day because it imbues our unique experience with personal meaning, starts to emerge, it almost always starts because we feel bad. Soul work is about transformation. It has no arrival point. It is a way of experiencing the world, one that keeps a steady awareness of the relationship between interior life, and the life going on outside us in the rest of the world.
Soul-work therefor is about feeling alive. Thomas Moore, in his book “Care for the Soul,” says “the soul can be deceptively simple. You take back what has been disowned. You work with what is, rather than what you wish were there.” I understand this to mean what it took twelve steps to teach me (I need things laid out good and simple!): Responsibility, or taking daily action towards what is going on in my life here, how, today, just for today! What is directly in front of me.
Living a life of soul means engaging in the work of my own real life. The relationships, the duties, and the fun parts of what I am expected to show up to in my own life, today. It is my own real life that is the teacher, do I show up today or do I check out? Checking out is what Moore speaks of by disowning.
And if I am disowning, that’s where I start. Not with why, just with a simple, present yes, this is happening. Which takes me back to self-honesty as the way to hear the message, sometimes the siren, that the soul is signaling. We learn to be gentle with this work, tender, yes. Because really being connected in a meaningful, soulful way is a challenge. It’s not the artificiality of well-combed hair and a perfected, smiling sheen. Soul work is not the same as look-good, feel-good self-esteem.
It’s about real life. Which get’s us dirty and at times, is going to knock us to our knees.
The way the crescent moon cups in the center feels deep down in the hollow of my heart like this. Like yes for many days now I’ve been laid back in that very good place to hang out a while. Laid back swing–
–that’s home, the east, the fall-changing leaves, the peeps and screeks in the low-land night-part of the trees. If I were sitting on the moon with fishnet legs in a dangle maybe in my hand I’d have a fishing pole dropped over to hang in the fish-sea of souls. Which is to say there are so, so many here who deep within me, move.
Which tires me out, again and again. So many lines on the troll.
Tired feeling: me watching, over and over the circles I know. They grow out from the little space here–shore-side ripples leave go far way out then always return to here where they start, same ol line upon the coast. Here I–keeping count at the edge on the swing. Sound of quiet in the stars the footsteps that beat check on the dock to the tides. Swept swept swept again rush rush rushing out and, more. To return, Home.
Oh moon, your silly countenance such easy laid back way you cause me to sit. It’s not the same as California-moon charm hanging on my back otter-style in the waves. More pertinent: action. The harmonizing way of getting to be part of the flow.
I am tired and surprised by this laid back moon arch that doesn’t feel like ache.
Erika comes and gets me we talk about feminism, racism, intersection, Catholicism a long, long time. This is the work we do to write. She tells me she can see my space which I say is good bc I can’t even see my way to my degree. What the hell have I gone and done?
In the city Walsh takes me to the fancy spaces and also, simply, to the streets. This is when I feel alive the most, like me. Walking in Baltimore City. It does not stop me from feeling unsafe. Justin doesn’t know I am home and happens to have time open in the same space. We walk to what back then was boarded up ground, days I was 16 and drove Park from Druid Hill Ave and MLK once a week. Those were the days that Chat Street used ear guns to pierce a nose and to get a belly ring down to the S&M dungeon of the Leather Underground you’d have to go.
None of this matters anymore. Now. California is as sterile as gentrified sections of Baltimore but there is lots of sun. I don’t know what I am doing and sit a long while at Erin’s waiting to ride to the beach. Twitter and the untelevised civil rights movement. Social justice repair. I lean way back into the clutch of the moon.
Change is coming.
To swim at a spot where there’s a deep divot drop-off and lots of backwash from pounding shore break, this is what you do.
Stand at the seem, the furthest place the water flows up on the sand. Get your ankles wet. If you’re not timid go up to your calves. Now imagine you’re about to jump into a double dutch session–to get the rhythm of the ropes what happens is your hips cradle, you start to rock back and forth to get a feel for the swing. This is what happens at the water’s edge.
Or what oughta.
The primal beat alive at the ocean naturally moves in you. If you put panic aside. The amount of time for me that I’ve been away dictates the time I need to find the beat. For me it’s never more than one week but can still take forever which is up to five minutes because as much as it’s about the ocean–it’s also about the false rhythms of life disconnected from Nature–they are alive in our bodies. They make themselves KNOWN right there at the edge, and need too to be shaken off to find what’s elemental, what’s real. Then you can know the sets with your body.
On days with surf when there’s little let-up I like to wait for a set wave. That’s the one that comes after a barely there pause, and it peaks a certain way which I swear has a glean. The second you see it swelling wade in to the white water and when your hips are in it’ll be bigger so start to swim towards the wave. It’ll look like it’s gonna break on your head. Timed right you go under as it’s peaking and the momentum pulls you out fast then easy, surfacing just on the other side of the break. Then you’re past the crash zone. You can just hang laid back and bobbing style. And feel the swells pass through you.
Surfing? A whole other beast because to do what I just explained is a lot more hectic if maneuvering a board. Mine’s seven foot fun which for me won’t dive. Also the pay-off is different. A swim gives me that deep body chill and I’m lazy (my board’s been dinged since Memorial Day and I haven’t once thought to get it fixed.) It just depends on what you’re looking for–to swim is a no hassle reward. Surfing is lots of labor but equivalent or even way BETTER result–LOTS of stoke! It all comes down to the energy you’re working with/need.
Which for me is about being in the One. Doing what I can to keep unprogramming the false rounds, doing what I can to de-program autopilot. Which has been on my mind. The way it always is at season-passing: the deep life: The thing that moves us. The thing that’s of you, that we can only somewhat see. There’s Soul in there, lest we forget. It is. We are of it. We are It. Great Mysterious One Soul. World-Rhthym. Creating and destroying of it’s Self over and over again.
Season-passing, like a hip-rock taking stock of the wild rhythm of which you are actually a part.
This post appeared originally on The Impulse Itself, Saturday September 13, 2008. 6 yrs ago, today.
Similar cycle: last of Summer, of growth or bounty energy, but on the apex of Moon Wax, day before Full. Rather than now, day before last-quarter wane.
yes yes yes, a weekend all to me, starting despairingly bc i dear reader am always no-thing if not dramatically self-involved in the happenings or so perceived non-happenings of my very own life…and do tend to let such perceptions overcome the best of me…
so said, what a glory day i’ve had since yesterday passed and i subsequently got my head out of my ass. handscrubbed my versa this afternoon after a trip to the library–where my card was so outdated i had to open a new account in order to check out Girls Like Us Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–and the Journey of a Generation which called to me literally off of the shelf as i passed it by. i hoped, as i heaped said work and a slathering poetry books on the counter, that it would deliver me in a similar mythically-steeped retrieval of trailblazer femin-ista historia as diPrima’s bio My Life as a Woman The New York Years did. and so far i am adequately quenched.
made some jewelry today, too. and wrote a poem. tonite, it’s my plan, after the moon goes up and the light is all over the land the way only darktime light can be, i am going to write. like, maybe even all nite long….
I’ve decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,
Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,
Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I’ve decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever
Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn’t matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.
I’ve decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,
Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.
The thing about waves they teach wild wisdom better than any other teacher who stripped me filled me made me brave.
For days this week I’ve been thinking on that last September. Fall 2008, I lived on a place called Anngar Farm. Waves teach you: the ways of the season on a farm, how to host a garden, how to track the sun rise and set across the space of sky from winter to fall, how to know in your body how it moves bit by bit across the year across the sky, by watching for it at the tops of the trees. How to know in your body that eventually, movement, no matter how long it takes, always moves you back across the same ol space.
That last season, on the farm. The Fall that year ushered in the larger cycle of who I am, how I am, where I am now. It’s alive in me, greater wave set incoming, I SEE YOU from the space within where for years I’ve tracked your tide. My car is broken down. The dear upstairs neighbor I adore is replacing the battery for me. He works late nights on the weekend (means he sleeps late in the day) so it won’t happen til early next week. For which I feel SO relieved. Means I don’t have to go anywhere, do no thing. Ride my bike to the beach…
And deal in words, who are Alive in me the traipsing, living way. Words, like waves. Waves of Poet Mad-Eyed Vision-Making. Seasons-passing. Cycle-making. Cycles inside cycles. Cycles ready…as they always are, are we paying attention…?
*This post originally appeared on September 13, 2009, titled My First Time, on The Impulse Itself (2008-2013)
In September the tourists went home, it all sort of started when Felix came in early August which was also the time I kicked Kevin out of the house for the PCP. This left us, Suzette and me or the hot Tico Kiki who was way older which then meant like 35, with lots of time to holler back and forth to each other on our mics. Hurricane Felix was a big one and I got on the local news screaming kooks go home–the reporter was on 9th street, three up from us where the old deadhead house was, we learned from them early on where not to buy our drugs. Jerry died that summer, it was almost omen-ic: Deadheads by then couldn’t be trusted a lot of them were tweakers, everybody knew. I imagine the reporters edited me out, we didn’t have a tv so I never knew. We didn’t even know the hurricane was coming. I got off for my afternoon break and came home for a puff or jay and a swim or some food hopefully someone had some otherwise it was soft-pretzels from the Pier for free the only place I could surely get hooked-up. Sparky was the only dude around though, he was a squatter one of those 9th street kids. Besides Black Mike and Little Kid, the only ones still down to hang after I kicked Kevin out, there was Sparky. Sparky I never trusted cuz of the deadhead squatter thing but we still hung cuz my roommate thought he was the shit. He never had anything to offer he just came looking. We had nothing though since Kevin and the boys went, nothing at all. So instead me and Sparky just took a swim and it’s the only time I ever remember the Ocean slamming me again and again like a hard wood board. I swam hard but never never got to a place where she was settled and smooth so I could just float and roll. Like I said the Hurricane was coming but we didn’t know. No one else was on the beach though! Mom somehow got in touch with me and said to put all the stuff on the floor up so really that just meant my books and music on the lowest shelf. The pots and pans earlier in the summer, since we didn’t ever wash them, all got thrown out.
After Felix it was all different. Like I said, then it was just Black Mike who slept on the couch every night and also suggested we each sleep with a little switchblade under our mattress. Which is funny to me now, cuz like cousin Joey says a weapon will end up getting you in even more trouble if you dont know how to use it. And I for one, didn’t, no one ever taught me how.
But luckily we never had trouble. Kevin moved out, he and his boys trashed our house broke windows and the outside porch lights and tagged all over all our shit, then Felix came and after that everything changed. The alleys were more quiet, there was a lot more of the large grey sky. And when the sun was out it was ethereal again, funny yellow glow. I didn’t know it yet but that was the summer I first started to learn: there are tides that come and they move as one and they bring a certain power all their own, and they effect us all.
And the earth is where and how we learn.
By September it was cool already I had the greatest snaked Hoodie I lived in with holes down at the edge for my thumbs. Everyone was gone. Just 14 years ago, that’s all, but OC didn’t have the condo weekenders it’s so full of now. Even my aunt and uncle and grammy who lived summer here were gone, they had to go home to the county to teach school.
Which meant we ditched 6th street for my family’s house at the Pines, the girls and I, because it scared us being alone like that with just the beach rats who were hating on us and the ghosts that we heard again and again–no lie, the old fashioned player piano music or loud foot steps upstairs on the outside deck when for sure no one was there, or even the radios in our house that would go on without reason sometimes. Local folklore said the Broadripple on 14th, and our place too on 6th, were the original Bordellos from back in the day. It was mid-1800’s that the town came to be. But Wikipedia says the original Pier burned down in a fire in 1994, which isn’t true, the fire happened in the winter of 1995, winter after Felix, I remember because we drove over that winter to see. The fire took Morbid Manor and the waterpark, too; I smoked pot everyday in Morbid Manor in 95 then got to ride the water rides for free since I worked there, ran a betting game for the same guy who did Fool the Guesser, Suzette Kiki and me. And that fire took everything, all that, down. 1995 last of the Pier and the Manor, the Riptide Park and Jerry, too.
So me and Chrissy who worked Morbid Manor and loved a guy, Johnny, started hanging at the Pines. It was cool and vacant in town and I learned all at once to love September, the sheet clear blue sky, the white clouds puffy and bright as a smile. The way the water looked suddenly so navy blue. September, goddamn I learned to love you.
Suzette invited us over for for spaghetti that’s how I found out she was into selling and smoking crack. She got arrested later that winter which I learned the same night as I heard about the fire at the Pier. It sucked cuz she had a little one, I dont remember his name anymore he had brown hair with flints of yellow curl, he was three-years-old. Guess he’d be 17 now hope he’s not in jail. That night over spaghetti when I first found out about her drug of choice, it was the first time I ever got that gut-twisting sweaty-necked premonition-chill. It was September, the streets were flat and empty but she lived all the way downtown so the air from the inlet was coming off the water and was damp with a terrible cold. The sky was low and hung with thin grey clouds.
Addiction is a hell of a fucking disease.
In September now I come here every year weekend after Labor Day and have a reunion with old friends. Last night we were up to 3, boardwalk, dancing, talking, laughing and lots of quiet on the cool, white sand. Round 2am I walked past sixth street, Kevin is dead, I’m 9 years clean.
Everything is changed. And also, September, the clean earth and shushing sea, is just the same.
It’s September. The traffic slows. The traffic slows, the Tuesday after Labor Day I am on the street at 7pm. The street is closed, there are no open shops on the block. There are no other body’s on the block. Just me and Jaz, and the homeless lady wheeling her bike ahead of us.
In the canyon I think of the word holler–not like to yell. But like, hollow–down in southern Virginia, where the homes run two to a mountain pass and people still talk about living round the next holler. Where the water in late spring runs so hard it looks black. Black, with churned up cream. I don’t know why I think of this except of course I do: it’s September.
Jazz is 17. She is an artist. She is 17, an artist, raised without mom. She is 17, an artist here for art school in the canyon, raised with no mom. She is a new neighbor in the upstairs room. I take her for dinner. She tells me, you’re my first white friend! She throws her hand over her mouth right after she says this. I respond as a blonde valley girl.
One million roles.
Jazz laughs. Against the holler walls
her laughter rolls.
They shot that boy. They shot him. For three days on my knees: I Cried. Shot him down & under our unkept noses WEBECAMEAMILITARIZEDSTATE. NO ONE DID A FCKN THNG. HE WAS BROWN.
I am Privilege.
*Correction: The Ppl. The Ppl did it all. The revolution is Live.*
September in Images
These images aren’t September.
They are September medicine.
At the peak of the summer it makes sense, I have no underwear and haven’t since I got back from school. Meaning I haven’t gotten to the Laundromat. I give thanks to the goddess of bikinis who oversees summer’s peak. I have so many, the tops and bottoms never match, yesterday at Sleepy’s I scrounged and found the fringy Billabong black bottoms from that warehouse sale last year when Walsh was in the town. Far in the back of the trunk. The top was Hollywood red, OP, bought at Walmart one June afternoon in 2009 when I’d left Chesapeake College and drove straight one and a half hours to the beach because I needed to swim. Michael Jackson died that day, I remember right when I got down to the sea two ladies who were strangers read the news off their (then) fancy internet phones and one started to cry. I ran over to them, we stood in a circle and hugged while I changed into my new $12 swimsuit beneath a towel standing on the sand.
The man I most recently have been seeing is vegan. I think about this in the closet scrounging together another set of mismatched bottoms and tops to change for my day. At some point I will do laundry but why when bikinis are The Way. I will get a burrito on my way up PCH and can’t wait. What would he say?
Three work days from now I will be done at my job. This is a prayer to discipline, bikini gods of love and sun, a prayer to the poetry nymphs whose job is to oversee how to be into being, how to yearn into words on the page. This is an act of offering, of moment in-bliss, to show that I am willing to show up again, and get it all down.