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Journey

Until I get my writing mojo back, I’m sharing quotes I like. Here’s another one:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!””
~ Hunter S. Thompson

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.

Done Differently — Things I Wish I’d

There are things I wish I’d done differently with them, but overall, I did the best I could as a single parent with two very bright (and strong-willed) children. The times I regret are the times I listened to others’ wisdom rather than my own. But I want to look ahead and not continue to beat myself up over the mistakes I made.

There were plenty I didn’t make — like my decision to stay home with my son rather than pursue a career.

Shifting Gears

Uphill, downhill, do you shift up or down? I never really knew so asked Marty today (it probably wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last). Tried it like he told me and it worked (meaning the chain didn’t fall off as in times past). Kind of like life, aye? Sometimes you gotta ask when you don’t know and sometimes you gotta just try. Oh yeah, and ride.

LOve BoMB BEAR


Made a few changes to the retreat which you can find here and here and here. So if you’ve ever thought of creating your own love bomb, everything’s in place for it, just get your group together and we can make it happen!

The BIGGEST changes are:

1. BEDS are NO LONGER SHARED, they are all individual

2. Spots are limited to 12 on-site participants

3. I am considering offering a small number of spots to commuter participants — cost to be determined, and it would include lunch and workshops both Friday and Saturday

4. COST for on-site participants has been reduced to $450. inclusive

** image from here, copyright 2007 Susan Eleanor Boulet Trust (one of my favorite cards in my deck and very apropos for me at this time).

Ground Hog Day

“Let’s get small.”
~Steve Martin

There’s a great movie Bill Murray did years ago called Ground Hog Day about a schmuck of a guy who has to relive the same day (Ground Hog Day) over and over until he learns to act decent. It’s kind of how this whole event organizing process has been. (Minus the schmuck learning to be considerate).

And I think after going round and round over different details, I may finally have it right. Still working out some of the changes, but some changes mean I’m paying attention to Steve’s suggestion: Let’s get small. So I’m working on some reductions — in the fee, the number of participants, and possibly the number of classes. Reducing the number of participants means beds are all SINGLES. That’s right, no shared beds.

I mentioned early on that it may turn in to more of a love bomb event — stay tuned, more news in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I’m loving revisiting the SNL gang.

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.

Lucyyyyyyy!!!!!


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??!!

Teachers

At least one more teacher coming for the retreat, possibly two. Gathering teachers is not as easy as it sounds.

That’s been one of the hardest parts for me, besides the marketing. While I am definitely a people person, marketing is not my strong point. Selling, you know? I can sell when there’s no pressure, nothing at stake (my pride, definitions of success and so on). I can sell what I love that someone else has made, but not when it’s my own. It’s that struggle with ego and when to toot your own horn, when no one’s even heard it to begin with! But I’m excited to think the final pieces of the teacher puzzle are coming into place.

This process has taught me how much work is involved putting one of these things together — even a wee one like BEAR. I have tremendous respect for the herculean effort Elizabeth puts into Squam. It boggles my mind. When I saw five retreats listed on her site the other day, I gasped — and then clicked on her staff page which brought a big smile — just little ol’ her and Peg! How can you not love someone who dreams so big?

I believe in spirit guides, in the energy of a place and in the energy of beings gone before us — where so of and of whom we channel through our own existence and actions. Miss Alice Mable Bacon and Mrs. Mary Alice Armstrong are very much alive in Elizabeth MacCrellish. When she referred to her climb up Rattlesnake when all was said and done the other day and she saw a sign she’s never noticed on previous climbs, that’s when I knew.

“To the Aborigines, geography is memory. Every mile sings, every mountain speaks of their ancestors’ journeys. Nothing is irrelevant, nothing is lost to death. All things partake of life’s spirit and vitality, the land is vigorously alive, unseen forces flourish, and all have a special site (or Dreaming Place) that is a spiritual home for them and their ancestors.”
~ from my current bedside book, Deep Play by Diane Ackerman, one of my favorite authors.

** image from my heaven on earth, Owl’s Head, Groton State Forest, Vermont

2010

Haven’t thought of a word for 2010 yet, don’t know if I will (I love language and would have a tough time choosing just one).

I have done up a website for the retreat though — it’s still a work in progress There’s certain glitches I’ve hit (losing original content and so on when I make changes) but that’s all part of my [steep] learning curve. Squarespace is right on with the support and on a holiday, for goddess’s sake. I cannot speak highly enough of their service.

Overall, this ultra-fussy Virgo (6 planets in Virgo!) is totally digging Squarespace. I like my tea just so, the lighting just so, my shoes have to be just right, my pillow just right (Goldilocks had to have been a Virgo), and so on. So, to say Squarespace rocks the big house is an understatement. It’s only day 2 of my trial subscription, but I do believe I’m sold, sista!