Hyacinth

Your heady perfume fills our home with spring.

Last week, emboldened by March’s arrival, I put into storage several of winter’s coats and toques and boots. I swooned in the late afternoon glow and humid heat of the local greenhouse, its intoxicating aroma of forced spring bulbs – daffodil, crocus, hyacinth.  A subtle pastiche of pastel yellow, pink and purple blossoms, green leaves and stems.

I purchased you, pale purple, already in bloom and full of scent, with two buds hidden like wings tucked tight along your spine. Spring inside if not out, as the next day, another day of snowfall warnings, and frigid temperatures. This in the aftermath of the coldest February in forty years.

But the sun shines higher, stronger now.  And we’ve just begun to reorient our internal clocks to the annual changeover to daylight savings time.

Now you grow visibly by the hour. Miraculous how so much colour, texture, fragrance – how so much life is stored in that small bulb buried in the loamy pot of earth. 

Now you’re leaning over, heavy with promise that, like your ancient mythological namesake, prophesies the coming of spring. Despite a prairie’s caprice.

The need to simply do quite a bit of not a lot.

It’s a statement I typed in an email to a friend last week.  Unbidden.  True.

I relish the sudden spontaneous emergence of such pithy truths.

Like the time when I asked another friend for the gift of her skillful deep listening as I weighed a hefty matter needing decisive action.  “Winnowing to essence,” came my reply, as I described the simplicity I was after.

Since then, those words have become a mantra for the gradual process of letting go of a lot of my life’s trappings, and committing to exchange things for experiences.

“Quite a bit of not a lot.”

Zen ThingsI like the roll of this in my mouth, piqued by a bit of paradox.  Like a lemon lime lollipop, sweet and tangy.  Evoking, or perhaps subliminally inspired by, this recent Facebook “share.”

It makes deep and abiding sense.

It feels good and right in my body, the reservoir of wordless wisdom.

And it comes.  Remarkably quite easily.  Ceasing blind urgency and habitual headlong over-ride and over-drive.  Giving over to long moments gazing out the window into the now fully green trees.  Pausing between paragraphs and pages of the latest book to wonder into white clouds suspended in signature azure skies.  Going to bed earlier and sleeping later, serenaded by robins.

Winnowing to essence.  Quite a bit of not a lot.

Mirroring for each other an innate way of being, born of aging.

This Morning Feels Full Today

This morning feels full today, in contrast to the many mostly still and almost silent ones.  A steady breeze stirs the air, sweet and cool and heavy with moisture from yesterday’s mid afternoon thundershower.  Prayer flags strung between fence posts, then sodden, now flutter.  For a few minutes I hear birds, sparrows and chickadees chirping, crows and magpies’ hoarse and scratching, and then notice my favourite robin song is missing.  Errant males must have finally found their mates. 

This morning feels full today, with eager anticipation.  Travel plans, vacation to-dos, home care projects, restaurant and cafes to sample and savour, friends to entertain, hopefully “al fresco” in gardens now flourishing from early spring warmth and summer rain, now flush with fragrant and heady blooms. Two whole summer months of possibility and promise.

This morning feels full today, outside and in.  I finally make sense of the malaise and migraines that have weighed heavy since the first of June.  Like that first peek of sunshine, the anniversary of my own leave-taking four years ago.  Then I thought I knew my place.  Now feeling the precarious straddling on another threshold.  Then and now.  Certain and uncertain.  A new place, what and where?

This morning feels full today, though somewhat lighter, too.

Self Portrait Emerging

This year I began writing about my current threshold, transitioning from a career to creative oriented life, another of life’s letting go to let come.  A few posts ago, I framed it as the shift from ambition to meaning, and shared some internal signposts that pointed the direction to this new path.

Since then I’ve gotten a good bill of heart health.  And while my crown and bite are still off a bit (the metaphor isn’t lost), I’m optimistic this will resolve in right time.  I’m feeling rested, waking with sweet anticipation for the day like I did those mornings when I lived in Germany for three months, five years ago. I’ve taken up with a flamenco teacher whose “deconstructed” approach to this complex dance form fits better now at this point in my practice.  I celebrated my echoing day in this new eldering decade.  And to celebrate a dear friend’s new decade, I finally found the way into creating the artwork for a story she had written a few years back.  Ta Da…I finished and sent in for a first draft read my collection of love letters to poets.  Right now, I’m participating in a global online dream walker’s course, reviving a practice I know bears fruit, and a couple of weeks ago I attended a most lovely workshop on poetry and photography hosted by local writer-poet, Shawna Lemay.

During the winter interim after registering for BeComing, I read some of Shawna’s work,   her novel, Rumi and the Red Hand Bag (an alluring title with a deep fondness for both) and her latest collection of poetry, Asking.  There, she introduced me to the “poem-essay,” a form  that totally synchs with my way of thinking and writing.  And not a page turned without feeling a quickening of recognition, a jolt to my senses that here is another who is kindred.  When during the workshop, I wrote and recited my quick reflection to her prompt Wabi Sabi, she looked across the room in recognition.  Sources of appreciation and inspiration discovered.  We draw from the same well.  Again the evidence of an earlier realization: everything I need for a life well-lived lies in my own backyard.

Now, a couple of months later, a new invitation to consider this person I am becoming, in response to taking self portraits to see what is evoked, to dreaming images of light and shadow:

P1010478

Who is this person I am becoming?

Feet that carry me along the path

Made only by its walking to

God. Knows. Where.

 

It’s been said that by looking at one’s shadow

We come to see the face

We are before

We. Are. Born.

 

A spider crawls upon my hand

To write a web of possibility

To catch a moment of illumination.

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(Not a poem essay, instead a form borrowed from Alice Walker in her collection, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth.)

Who Are Your Allies?

“Each life must find its true threshold, that edge where

the individual gift fits the outer hunger and where

the outer gift fits the inner hunger.”

John O’Donohue in Angeles Arrien’s The Second Half of Life

When we are on the cusp of a threshold, making a commitment, finding a new way, it’s helpful practice to reflect on and pay tribute to our allies.  These are the beings – human and non human, animate and inanimate, living or passed – whose shoulders we stand on, whose backs shore up ours, whose energy, image and guidance we call upon, who walk beside us to remind and help us call forth our resiliency, talents, and wisdom.

In December when I participated in my first ever writers’ retreat hosted by StoryCatcher Christina Baldwin and TravelPoet Kristie McLean, at Aldermarsh on Whidbey Island, one of our first acts of creative expression was to create a visual collage in tribute to, and then write about our allies for this endeavor.

P1010138I love collage, particularly when I’m not fixed in my ideas of what I want to create, what images and words I need to find to make the “right” representation.  So that evening, as the heavy grey day gave way unnoticeably to night, with no particular ally in mind, I skimmed through a few magazines, borrowed scissors and glue, tore and cut to create a circle of images and words that I would then fold and keep in my writing journal.  Here is what I wrote, inspired by the words I found:

The Prayer to a Changing Woman

Sifting through ashes of the lightning struck tree

the long trail of water…

A mandala

A labyrinth

A work of art – an intolerable beauty.

 

By that I mean a beauty that does not, will not tolerate.

A beauty that claims the secret canyon of a woman’s body, of my body

In and down

Through and beyond

Into the ground

Up through the sky.

 

Where the true meaning of the sacred and mundane

are captured in the dog’s kiss upon my own lips.

Her solemn eyes gazing at me, into me

beseeching me to understand and appreciate

animal and people together and that everyone (and every being) is

the age of their hearts.

 

And at the centre of this circle

spiralling out, weaving words and images

 

The Garden of Divinity,

a place of solace and strength and surrender.

 

What surprised me – ahhhh, the gift of emergence –  was that our Annie dog appeared as my ally.  She came to us four years ago during a summer of deep upheaval.  I had returned from three months’ travelling to learn my position at the school board, the work I had created and in which I thrived, had been abolished, and that my new “no choice” assignment would become the catalyst for my departure a year later.  Our Lady dog, who for a week was on death’s door during my last trip to Italy, and for whom I prayed at a sacred pilgrimage site of Santuario Santa Rosalia Monte Pellegrino in the mountains of Palermo, Sicily, rallied until my return and then passed mid summer.  Just a few weeks later we received the urgent call, “If you want another dog, you need to get her now,” as his wife’s health was being seriously challenged.  I didn’t want another dog.  I wasn’t ready for a kennel dog who wasn’t house trained.  I didn’t know how our aging Peggy dog would cope.  But we did – ahhhh, the gift of resiliency – and Annie proved to be an attuned, respectful companion to the elder, small but sovereign alpha Peggy until she passed last spring, probably giving her more life and years.  Today, sovereign in her own way, Annie has become my companion, laying beside me as I work in our office, or when I sit in the sanctuary of our living room, reminding me to take time to play and walk with her.

In a month’s time, I will be co-hosting Soul Spark, an intimate retreat for ten men and women, who know this is the time to reflect on and discern wise action to creating a work-life aligned with intention and their heart’s desire.  A time to discover their life’s “true threshold.”  There, I will be an ally for each of them in the space and time we are together, by virtue of creating a safe and respectful space for solitude and companioning, and designing a process that gently invites and inquires into what really matters for them, now.

While we must each walk the path of our own life, it’s good to have allies to walk by our side.  And too, as David Whyte reminds us in his essay on Friendship, it’s good to be an ally, to “have accompanied another for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

 

 

An Epiphany of Creation

P1010134

The Goddess’ Cauldron

Into Sedna’s icy seas

I cast wisps of prayer and blessing for this new year.

From her dark depths

cold crystalline shards of unknown shadows

float to the surface,

intrigued and captivated by the phosphorescent luminous.

All now, swirl and churn, mixed with my morning kiss.

Embraced by its heart and heat

All now, melt and merge.

All now, transformed

into wave and mist, cloud and rain

crashing, soaking, washing

shoreline sands, rocky cliffs, silent forests,

skin and scale and fur and feather.

Time will stand still and breathe anew

into this vow of creative surrender.

(Inspired by this clay plate from Newfoundland artist, Peter Sobal, and spontaneous invocation at the Self as Source Writers’ Retreat, December 7, 2015.)

Winter’s Pause

January takes her parting bow today.  After a respite that melted most of the snow and foolishly tempted both plant and birds into thinking spring was soon to be, I awoke to a once again cold, white winter.  Curious, too, my start to this year as it’s taken the month to imagine and begin to see glimmers of the returning light.

Right now, I’m in the third, middle week of the U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, Self, a MOOC (massive open online classes) hosted by MIT, featuring Otto Scharmer and his team.  Together with 25,000 people from over 190 countries around the world, we’re participating in a novel, highly experiential process to “learn how to create profound innovation in a time of disruptive change by leading from the emerging future,” by introducing the consciousness – that quality of awareness and attention – as the variable affecting the quality of the results we create in any social system.

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” — Bill O’Brien

I’ve written about Theory U before, described other times when I’ve journeyed down the U, shared how I knew in my heart and bones the quintessence of this work when I first heard Otto present his ideas in 2003 at Shambhala-Alia – even before he called it “Theory U. “ Last year several of us held a study of this course’s featured book, Leading from the Emerging Future, and twice now, I’ve co-hosted a 2-day learning lab, Leading in Emergence, designed as an abbreviated journey though the U.

ulab-overview

So given this “more than passing” familiarity, I was bowled over when last week, for the first time I actually heard that the emerging future needs me, needs us, to be born and to have life. While perhaps pretty obvious to many, I was deeply moved by this.  It’s not that I’m a passive, or even active participant.  I am, we are, midwife to that future that comes from Self, or Source, or God, or pure creativity, whatever you call the embodiment and enactment of love.

I just realized above that I wrote, “I’m in the middle of the U.Lab,” a perfect description for where I really am, both literally in the course, and metaphorically in my life – at the bottom of the U.  Work has been slow to start this year, and at the moment, I don’t see much on the horizon for the next few months.  Perhaps for one of the first times, I’m not too anxious about this.

I spend many dark dawn morning hours sitting with my Peggy dog, imagining we’re both filling up on each other before she takes her parting bow. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. Every time a vacation bargain crosses my screen, my Magpie-Crow-Raven cousins get seduced by the “shiny,” but by day’s end I delete what I know down deep is only a distraction. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now.  I feel the uncertainty, unfamiliarity and void with letting go of a life-long honed identity that once served well…with cancelling long held dreams that no longer matter …with releasing relationships that use me up.  I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. This year, The Scientist officially became a senior, and I celebrate a new decade, and face the reality that yes, while only a number, 60 is NOT the new 50; that I, he, we are entering into new and unfamiliar territory that we know will be marked by more letting go.  I remind myself, this is where I am right now.  I see how my Peggy dog has become the symbol for all that is letting go, dying, as was so starkly, heartbreakingly, blessedly revealed to me in a dream last week, a dream that when I recall, resounds deep in my gut.

So now I have time to ponder and play with something a dear friend wrote in response to my blog wherein I wrote about having been struck with Bell’s Palsy, an illness that cracked me open, whose effects continue to reverberate, and is, I now know, one of the boons from the threshold I crossed when I took leave from work and traveled to Europe in 2010-11.

“I went along for the ride (in a virtual world) when you went to Europe and I smiled and laughed and remembered my own trip many years ago. I wondered if maybe I was becoming stagnant as I don’t go too far these days and seem to be so very comfortable just being in my home. Then it occurred to me that what better way to live your truth than by getting up everyday and simply living your life? Not as a teacher or mentor or guide, but just living each day with the spontaneity that comes with a brand new day.
I am not saying we shouldn’t give back and share our knowledge, but sometimes life makes us sit back and just be, while we look at the balance or imbalance that currently is our reality.”

Perhaps this is the future that is asking to be born through me now.

For now, letting come winter’s pause to attend.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy

Leading in Emergence….lessons learned from travelling abroad

“Merhaba!” 

That’s “hello” in Turkish.  For the past two weeks, I’ve had occasion to speak this and other Turkish words and phrases – Please, Thank you, Where’s the toilet? Good morning, Good bye, How much? – as we toured from Istanbul through central and western Turkey.  A skim across the surface of this ancient culture and beautiful land, as we floated above the magical terrain of Cappadocia, dove into the cave dwellings at Göreme, walked among the archaeological ruins at Troy, Ephesus and Pamukkale, witnessed the mystical whirling dervishes and their founder’s tomb in Konya, and tasted our way through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Now as I settle back home, and make my way through the nine hour time difference, I’m in that odd, in between space of holding a myriad of new and novel sights, sounds, scents and impressions that filled me to the brim, with the anticipation of co-hosting a second Leading in Emergence learning lab November 6-7, in Sherwood Park, Alberta.  No doubt a side effect of jet lag, I’ve been thinking about how travelling abroad and stepping into a different culture invites me to consider how similar the frames, practices, and competencies are to navigating the slippery terrain of emergence and complexity.

Driving in Istanbul – it’s in the genes I was told.  A pattern emerges, flows and then collapses into the next iteration of chaos, backed up with a cacophony of horns. Cars, taxis, buses…bumper on bumper, stalled for minutes that become hours, apparently irrelevant traffic lights.  Pedestrians seem to intuit the space and pause to nimbly move between, around, across tram tracks, through intersections.  Or, in our case, abandon the taxi caught in a standstill, and walk to our destination.

The call to prayer, five times a day, every day, though NOT at the same time of day, is aMinaret.jpeg significant frame that organizes the comings and goings of people and their systems.  In the morning especially, I would hear the chant start at one minaret, and then a few moments later from another, then another, and another…like a wave that would build in crescendo, and then fade away voice by voice as the summons concluded.

sema.jpeg

Mesmerized by the “sema,” a  cultural exhibition by the whirling dervish sect of Sufism founded by Rumi, it demonstrated how prayer and moving meditation have been used for centuries to connect with the divine to awaken knowing and wisdom for uncertain times.

Our very experienced tour guide knew to make an early reservation for the hot air balloon ride, given we’d be at the whim of winds and weather.  Unabashed commitment paid off, as seven of us soared with fifty other balloons at sunset over the fairy chimneys while our ambivalent tour mates, not sure they wanted to pay the price, postponed planning to the next day.  It was not to be, as the skilful pilots assessed the winds unfavourable for safe flying.  Know, plan, commit, act are the lessons here.Cappadocia KebapSeduced by aromas of grilled food, we sampled and savoured, only to have our guts protest…an embodied knowing that won’t be denied!

 

 

 

How has travelling to other places opened you to new impressions and insights? What are your stories about emergence and complexity…when you’ve felt uncertain and coped with chaos…sensed and intuited patterns…let go to let come and step into the space of bold action?