New Cape/Old Cape

This is and isn’t the cape I left back in the 70’s. The pace is much faster, while the characters and drama in local politics remain static. Kind of like a remake of an old Hollywood movie, not necessarily any better than the original. Same roles, different names and faces.

It’s interesting how the vision and culture seem to mirror the topography. Thankfully we are surrounded by ocean, sky, and horizon…the broad expanse helps balance the narrow land. Nature imposes a balance on our culture and community one way or another.

The dominant culture here changed dramatically while I was in Vermont. Or perhaps, I had changed? most likely, a little of both. The cape felt more conservative and stifled to me. Gone were the hippies and bohemians of the past, replaced with retirees and nouveau riche. Or so it appeared to me on the surface. According to Ana, I needed to create what I most needed to find here, and she was right. Something I’d done unconsciously in Vermont for years and had to learn to do here. And in discovering that I could do it here, remembering that I’d actually been doing this all my life. I was a military kid used to bases and the unique bonds forged with other military families. We were gypsies, vagabonds and I learned early what Darshan was about even though I didn’t have a name for it then.

I rarely drink coffee, I like my tea just so, and you’d better be an exceptional baker if you’re selling because if I can do it better at home…then I will. I am not your typical consumer. It’s an experience I’m seeking, more than a commodity. And imperfection? I love to tolerate it if you have the Darshan I seek.

The cafe, the garden, the work of art, the library, the bike path, the market or shop? That’s just the vehicle to get me to the experience. It’s the people or the trees, the color, or the thrill of the discovery I encounter when I arrive that matters to me.
It’s what Rumer Godden in “A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep” says is a Hindu belief that people will travel miles to see, touch, taste, sense, smell the presence or essence of a person, place or thing, with the belief that they will catch some of its spirit or soul to carry with them – this is what I seek in my journey. Darshan. Connection. The need to belong, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

When I walk to the Caribbean Market in my downtown neighborhood, I am not just going to buy the ginger tea that reminds me of a place in Amherst from my daughter’s college days. I am also going to hear the musical singsong of Patois speakers, to smell the sharp spices of Jamaican cooking, to pretend I’m in the South Carolina of my birth, to remember my own immigrant grandparents and how hard people work to make a new life for themselves, to create a new home. So, all this being said, I will share with you some of my favorite places on Cape Cod where I experience Darshan. This may include places that aren’t perfect but they always have good people, vision, and the feeling that that place is loved.

This is and isn’t about a place called Cape Cod, how it’s changing, how I’m changing…it’s about home…the home we make for ourselves wherever we are, because it’s about us and the people. It’s my guide to recognizing that home is right where I am.

Sandwich, as in a Place, Not on a Plate

Sandwich was where my Cape Cod life began. Easter 1967, my dad took me for a walk and told me he would be going to Vietnam. He explained Vietnam to me; I asked him why the people who make the wars don’t fight them (some things don’t change). It was his job he said. Pretty much the end of the discussion, other than my fear “will you be killed?” He would be leaving in July. In the meantime, he would have some time with the family. Later that spring he told me we were going on vacation. He was very excited and told me to guess where as he gave me a hint, “Cape…” “Canaveral!” I cried. No, not quite. Cape Cod. Never heard of it. “Where the heck is that?” I asked. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. We took plenty of trips to Massachusetts to visit my Irish family, so Massachusetts wasn’t such a big whoop for a vacation to me, even if it wasn’t at my gran’s.

What I did for my birthday week

yep, the older I get it moves from my birth DAY, to my birthday WEEKEND, and now it’s slowly creeping up to birthday WEEK, I imagine MONTH is what follows…I love that the September Squam falls around my birthday, and now that I’ve finally gone, there is no doubt it will become an annual pilgrimage for me. As the wise woman says, it is not a luxury, it is a need.

The last time I went to a retreat was when I was 16. It was called ECHO and was at the Craigville Conference Center. And while there were girls there I knew, there were also those there I didn’t. And while it was a Christ-centered retreat, it involved much storytelling, art, creativity and all around sharing as does SAW. Which makes me wonder — spirit, God, art, nature, creation…isn’t it all the same? I know the message of Squam was the same as the message of ECHO — whether we knew each other or not when we arrived, we felt the same thing when we left — one LOVE. Mmmmm, blessed synchronicity.

Wild Women

…don’t get the blues. Bullshit. For this wild woman anyway. Because I am a wild woman, I get the blues. Always have. This revelation hit me this morning on my walk to the beach with Bob. For the first time I realized, hey the blues ain’t so bad. There a good thing for me as I prefer myself in my wild state.

I Was a Catholic Girl

love this perspective on our catholic upbringing — for the longest time it sounded cool to use the recovering catholic term but i’ve had some really insightful, wild and amazing “catholic” experiences as an adult in the past 10 or 12 years.

Decisions and Destiny

Yes, I feel free — of BEAR. It was smothering me. The process was great, but the lack of reception wasn’t. I feel a surge of hope though. That the path led me further along the way to my dreams, my self, who I am, my destiny. Destiny and destination — one and the same or two different beings entirely? What do you think and which one becomes who you are?

This is what I ask myself. My gut tells me I become my destiny. That they are not one and the same, but are they two facets of the same coin? Again I don’t know. I’ve always been a know-it-all for various reasons (one being I am a voracious reader), yet I truly love asking questions and hearing others’ answers. It gives me more insight, and it’s how I get to know you. Can our destination change our destiny? When we change our destination, does the destination change our destiny?

Life’s decisions. I have made heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, soul-searing decisions in the past (some that can never be undone, some that are not undone easily). This was not one of them and for that reason I am grateful.

Who are you?

In my journal yesterday, I created a persona for a blogger I’ve become friendly with and it reminded me of Mia’s and Stephanie’s workshops. And got me thinking about my own goddess self and who she is. As I watch 1930’s movies, read female writers of that era, and reflect on my grandmothers (one born in 1899, Gardiner, Maine; the other born in Doon, County Limerick in 1905), my goddess persona is beginning to reveal herself to me. But I’m not ready to share her yet. So I’ll share this other femme fatale —

Booknut007 is her handle. Definitely “Film Noir”, trench coat, Chanel Red Lipstick, and truly espionage worthy. Complete with fedora (and an engrossing paperback stuffed in her pocket). She has one of those mini-cameras I always wanted as a child. Slim as a lipstick tube. Hey wait a minute! It is her lipstick tube.

She drinks a lot of coffee, but is particular about her joe — it’s gotta the original (like her) that got the trend started in the first place — Dunkin’ Donuts. None of the fafa stuff for her. Good thing, because her contact is also a DD fan and what better place for clandestine meetings — easier to blend into a mob scene and it’s a rare Dunkin’ Donuts that isn’t a mob scene.

Her handle is scrawled across her lower back in a sensual script from bygone letter writing days circa 1922. Her only tattoo. One is enough and it says it all. Booknut007. Watch out!

Me? I can’t drink coffee so I’m envious of that Booknut chick. Oh yeah, I can drink decaf, but gee whiz — decaf is my Shirley Temple to her Jack Daniels. No, I drink tea. Chai to be exact. Think Rumer Godden, Passage to India, saffron, Kipling, elephants and monsoons. Mystery, magic, life and joy living out loud even in the face of despair.

The tattoo? Don’t got one. Still haven’t figured out where I can hide it from Marty (he abhors tattoos). So I have the pierced nose. And I dig Mehndi in a big way. More India. But that’s all I got for now — what you got??

** photo attributed to this awesome site — it would be the UK natch!

The Ruby Slippers

“Our soul is about the process while our ego is about the product.”
~Julia Cameron

Laura’s reference to Julia’s quote synchronized with what I had read in Petra’s post about process and product the other day. In the midst of writing and rewriting a comment to her post, I checked my email to discover an email from Christine Rathbun, a spoken word performer who was unavailable to teach at Bear because she has another performance debuting that weekend.

Turns out we have a mutual friend, Diane Hanna, who is teaching at the retreat. And Christine was inviting me to join her in February at O’Shea’s open mic to present my work. Which brought me back to Petra’s post about her first photography show. Because this would be my first performance sharing my writing through storytelling, a path the sweetest Jen Lee inspired me to follow. (Incidently, Jen is hosting another retreat in April with this teacher, someone I hope will teach at the November retreat, along with Christine, Antje and a couple of others).

Petra mentioned how much she loves the actual doing of her art, rather than the results of her effort, something I can totally relate to. I love process, pulling things together, all my varied interests — people, food, places — but once I get them all together I’m at a loss as to where to go from there. Because, like her I’ve had my fun, and I get bored doing the same thing repeatedly. Which is why the retreat’s a little different for me. Each time can bring together different people, different processes, different ways of being in the world and so on.

I like that process is so important because it’s my favorite part. But once I reach my goal, I’m usually ready to try something else. I get bored easily, I like constant change, movement. But I haven’t reached my goal with this yet. Or have I? I’ve said from the very beginning of this process that I wasn’t sure where it would all lead or what I would learn from it or even if the ultimate product was an actual retreat or if it would morph into something else. I started out creating this retreat simply because creating something like this is play for me. I have a ball doing it — connecting with people, traveling, checking out chefs and menus, meeting new people, and doing the proverbial pig in sh*t dance I do whenever I get near anything to do with expressive arts, the soul, tools for gaining deeper self-knowledge, the collective psyche and just plain hanging out with kindred spirits. I like the many twists and turns a path can take.

Unexpected adventures arise. And reading the Julia quote and Petra’s post reminded me that this is why I am one of those people who hasn’t yet figured out what to be when she grows up, what to do with her life, what her calling is. I have so much fun with the process, I forget about the original product. And I’ve been realizing, what if the retreat doesn’t end up being the product after all? What if most of it’s about journey, in my case, my journey home? To myself. Who knows?

I do know that while originally I wanted to offer a retreat scholarship, I realized it would be more fun to do pledges to favorite causes. It’s a way of nurturing the social justice activist in me. Like Petra wrote about her photography show, she doesn’t really like framing her work or promoting it. Ditto — me neither. But what is fun for me and is something else I’ve always wanted to do (besides creating retreats and other ways for women to gather) is to play philanthropist. So, I’ve mentioned the Uniform Project before and I’m going to mention it again. Books, schools, kids, India, I love it all. My goal now is 20 retreat registrations by the 2oth of February, the deadline I’ve set for making a go of this retreat project. If I meet that goal, I have told Jessica at the Uniform Project that I will write a check for $600 (the cost of attending the retreat) to the project. And then I can look forward to moving ahead with the November retreat and another cause.


Been laying low lately here in blogland, feeling overexposed — in that foolish way I do when I forget my friend Mary’s words so many years ago: “I’m a star in my own play and I’m the only one watching it.”

About this BEAR thing. It’s kind of had me freaked out — the marketing piece and the lack of response. I remind myself to pay attention to my creative process and I realize, number one: I always waited til the last minute for everything. Like when I got married — my shotgun wedding, you know?

Today, I reached out for some marketing advice, and I didn’t have to go far — my own backyard, so to speak. I’d met Beth at Melissa’s shop for Handmade for the Holidays back in December, and finally emailed her for help — her response was almost immediate and her tips were awesome! So, I’m feeling better. Then I called Kofi, the farmer I’m renting the space from to update him.

But for a while, rather than reaching out I’ve been hunkering down with my monkey mind, the gremlins and my journal. Trying to talk myself out of doing this retreat — I’m not the person for the job, I can’t pull it off, I haven’t allowed enough time, don’t have a large platform (i.e., readership — that much is true), don’t have the experience, can’t do it by myself, yadayadayada…I’m not the person to deliver this experience for people. I’m merely a servant — I’d rather be a servant, someone else’s sidekick.

See, I’m paranoid that I’m a fraud — I don’t have the money to front for the deposit, I don’t want to disappoint Kofi or Erin (they’d love to see Bay End used for more events like this), and I don’t want to let my teachers down as they are amazing and deserve the opportunity and space to share their works and wisdom. (But, I’m breathing easier now after talking to Kofi — there’s still time.)

I’ve always been better in a support capacity. I’m Norton to Ralph’s Kramden, Lucy’s Ethel. Barney Fife, Deputy Sherriff, Mayberry RFD. I don’t want to be the star of the show, the leading lady. I much prefer supporting her, I can be a best supporting actress. So what I want to know is, where the hell is my Lucy??!!

Deep Play

Definition from the cover of:
n. 1. A state of unselfconscious engagement with our surroundings 2. An exalted zone of transcendence over time 3. A state of optimal creative capacity

Diane Ackerman is one of my favorite authors — if you’ve never read her book A Natural History of the Senses, then I suggest you skedaddle to the nearest library and check it out. It is exquisite, particularly when she writes about our sense of smell and our sense of touch, how/why certain customs and words evolved and so on.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is another good one. The latest I’m reading is Deep Play, and so much of it resonates with me on so many levels. My sense of place, my self-definition and the themes I encounter in my daily life — it’s like all of us on this planet really are pulsating to the same rhythm, at different times and sometimes the same time. One breath, one voice, one consciousness. Blows me away. I believe it’s a vibration we’re unconsciously aware of on a subliminal level when we engage in deep play,alone and in community. And the deeper we go in our play, the more in tune with others we seem to become.

More intuitive and sensitive to the subtle nuances and layers of meaning in our everyday language, geography, and encounters, more in touch with our essential spirits — that spirit that transcends time, space and our bodies. It can be scary and exhilarating simultaneously.

A state of heightened attention because we are so in the zone. Riding that Big Kahuna.