On Bravery

It’s a full time.  The moon now wanes darker each evening, the sun too shares the descent into the darkness as we move into the colder darker time.  Yesterday I read my journal from when I lived in San Francisco, right before I met my husband.  What an emotional trek (even reliving them via that turquoise-paged journal pulled me back into those charcoal wintery months): moments of the wildest vulnerability I could ever imagine from a woman in a foreign-to-her city, concomitant with a daring strength mustered in brave acts (often, then, bravery came in brevity and existed in the mere thoughts and journal pages–the seed of courage begins in the mind).

Lindsey's Desk

Being intuitive and somewhat outspoken runs in my family.  The women are strong, brave, and deeply in touch with an inner knowing of ancient hymns, and this lineage has been passed down with oral traditions and careful observations.  Some of this I’ve always known, I come from strong women and I will be brave; sometimes this courage hides though.  This week, it’s been hiding.  Maybe it was reading that old journal, unearthing a very lonely time in my life–a very strong and intuitive time in my life, no doubt, but a very lonely time.  I read the first few pages of a paperback book in the bookstore the other day about a woman whose mother left her a bookshelf of journals to read when she died, and a week later, after her mother’s passing, she found the journals all blank.  It’s my dream to read journals of someone I love.  It is my dream.  I was befuddled. After reading that chapter, though, I’m curious about bravery.  And how diluted things may become in this modern era.  You couldn’t keep a blank blog, could you?  There’s no secrecy.  And I believe that bravery hidden is bravery building.  I think courage hides so that she can emerge stronger than before.  She’s been running the trails, lifting stones and rearranging river pools in the light of the moon.  When I’m caught up in the specific nature of our technological time and rapid fire, I go seek courage in her natural habitat.  This is rather daunting to me because I am afraid of the dark.  (That’s really why we got Maeve.) But, as I embark into nature’s simplicity, I’m humbled, quiet, and noble; I’m full of courage. Dark or light, I embody courage when I seek her out.

And so, in the scores of bravery, under the spell of courage, I am leaping into an unknown-to-me space.  Daily, now, I create space for writing, for me.  I am brave.   I consider this brave because in my motherhood my space is yogurt-splattered and delightfully colored with shades of sing-song directions, helping the dog learn her toys versus the children’s toys, and so many snack breaks.  However brief, to claim my space each day is brave.  This is brave because I’m exposing myself (here, there, hidden, and aware).

And, so, as we harvest our bravery and other wonders of ourselves, here’s to the bounty!  In what ways are you brave?

PS, Tuesday Design*Sponge featured my city guide to the Methow Valley, a very special and sacred valley in central Washington nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  Please go check it out, the valley is among the most welcoming places I’ve known on this earth.

Epistle

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Good greetings!  What a summer it has been.  I always forget how deeply I exhale after a long inhale (like last winter).  And then I begin to stress out about whether it’s always going to be so busy until I marvel at the balanced treasures in the expansion and contraction of life.  And, clarity in the contraction can feel intense, but so cleansing: I love writing letters, and I took a sabbatical and thus clarity washed me.  I determined how deep is my epistolary love.

This year I’ve been working intensely with sacred ceremony and writing a special log of different ceremonial gatherings as a foundation for the Wild Rites of Passage programs that I dream of facilitating one day.  I’ve been busier than ever as a mother–Leroy can run, and when it seems he may fall, he leans his weight backward and does a vertical air-worm!  And Willa is (with mama bias aside, ish) the most compassionate scissor cutter I’ve ever met, and she can measure and cut shapes, too–and yesterday I did the dishes in my tap shoes!  I decided early this year that I couldn’t keep writing letters as I was, the weekly outpour averaged 20 missives.  I had to give something up and letters was it.

Until, like a surgeon, I dug deep into the faceless cavity of my passions, and with hygienic  tools surrounded by white walls I stumbled upon a new organ puffed and red and raw, bleeding out.  The monitor began to beep with great rapidity. And in the contracting moment, this is it, I knew which size blade to use, which place to cut, and how to stitch the knot so tissue could again re-grow (I’m sorry if I missed your birthday this spring or summer).  Suddenly I became so clear that writing letters is as much a part of my calling as poetry or articles or prose.  In my break from letter writing, it became clear that I was actually harming other areas of my life by withholding something so special to me.  Writing letters, I accidentally discovered, may be the biggest piece of my connection, connection for which I deeply long.  Taking the face out of the equation–in the height of the action–cleared the path for my heartless evaluation of my doings, and writing letters, it turns out, is the salve.

I have a little project in mind which I am excited to share with you soon.  Yes, it’s epistolary.  Yes, it could include you.

Until then, I hope your garden bounty abounds, your purpose on the planet begins to shine, and your deepened path to selfhood illuminates your Yes in clear concise steps.


Welcome to the Corn Moon, sweet reader!  This month I’ll be enjoying sourdough crumpets, corn potato chowder, sweet potato noodle bowls, slow cooked pulled pork, and fresh tomatoes, by the gallon.  I’m reading The End of Your Life Book Club (it’s my book club book), Crossing the Water (an old favorite), Seven Times the Sun (I love her approach to rhythm), Aimless Love (a new favorite)and Full Moon Feast (the best, period).  This month I’m gathering donations of household goods for families in the central Washington fires who have lost of their homes.  Please contact me if you would like to send your gently used home goods.  I’m also gathering prayers.  Your prayer is held sacred and safe.  Thank you.

Oh, and, I wrote a letter to the letter.


Dear Letter,

Your livelihood may be at stake,
am I too frank?
I’m worried about you. Not the stay-up-at-night kind of worry, no,
the faint and eerie fog horn kind of worry.
A smokey mist on a moor kind of worry.
I know that among the fast-paced haste to replace your grace,
is the movement to slow down, turn in,
and be with you again.
The movement wants to eat local food, drink slow drip coffee,
spend more time really breathing,
they want to do it with you.

In good company, you’re found tucked and tattered,
you’re stained with tea and ink, you’re creased and torn,
you’re on the desk, on the table, on the porch, in the closet,
like any tried romance, you cavort in all the crannies.

You’re so steadfast, prevailing.
Like the air, you’re often unnoticed,
always here.
You’re alive in me.

Remember when I first told you I loved you?
I mean, totally loved you.
Twelve with a fresh haircut—an unforgettable bob with bangs,
neon-banded braces, new in school, and totally in love.
Unrequited and quiet you sat in his room in the wastebasket
beside used tissue and orthodontic rubber bands.
We can both be grateful for that silence.
And, without you I may never have had the courage
to tell my Creative Writing professor he changed my life.
How could I have said that out loud? In my early twenties!
I admire your presence for birthdays and well wishes,
congratulations, new arrivals of human babies,
when gentlemen marry ladies, prayers, and just because.
Like a well-oiled axe, you make life warmer.
You’ve been a keystone in my marriage:
true to the good morning ritual to which we vowed,
each morning I awake and find you perched atop my desk,
eager in wait, some of your letters scribbled quick,
smudged or sidled off the page.

I’ve saved you so many times, in this box or that one—
wood boxes, cloth boxes, shoeboxes, lock boxes—
because each time you come into my life, you save me,
and I want to remember that.

So it may be in vain, it may be in vein,
you are alive
in me.

the bloody lip, or raising a puppy from the adult perspective

Earlier this month I regaled the full story of how Lefty came to my life, well-trained and decent (albeit his short temper with puppies and occasional alpha-male dominance) manners.  I told you about our new dog Maeve, whose spirit is an ancient friend of my own.

As you may have imagined, there is more to this story.

Yes, her soul and my soul may have danced together in another life, and yes she looks knowingly in my eyes, but I did not tell you about last month when she bolted inside with her lead still fastened to her collar and she wrapped her rope around Leroy’s little legs and tied him up like a booby trap tripping him face first into the coffee table.  He has two little teeth marks on his lip and it was perhaps the bloodiest I’ve seen the little guy.  I was furious at Maeve.

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The quirks of raising a dog from a puppy are quite different from inheriting a well-mannered dog as an adult.  Lefty may have possessed his food which made it difficult for other dogs to be near him while he ate, but no one’s lips were at stake.  Certainly not my own son’s perfect lips, the first thing I noticed as he emerged into the world!

I can see longevity in dedication to these early stages of training and bonding with a puppy–and I am grateful and blessed that my puppy is so inclined to please–but these feats are no walk in the park (even when they literally are a walk in the park!).

Yesterday a storm rumbled overhead and the rains came pelt, pelt, pelt and this excited Maeve.  She ran into the front door–before all of us (which is never tolerated in our family, humans enter every doorway first!)–then through the house, then out the back door, and around again.  I had to bring Maeve back to the front door and calmly tell her that humans walk through the door first, and tell her to sit and wait at the door while all of us walk through the door.  My persistence plays an important role in raising Maeve.  What work it is to raise a (good) dog, now as an adult.  I have such respect for my parents for the work they’ve done to raise good dogs.  And I’m humbled by everyone who has a dog, now as an adult!  What work!  What meaningful work.  It’s not always pretty, but it is always worth it.

I love watching Maeve run around with the children, granted I remind her (and them) to be gentle from time to time; I can imagine in a handful of years the three of them adventuring in the woods together, safe and go-lucky.  I love that image.  I love the family dog.  It’s certainly a different picture now that I’m on the parental side of the coin.  I’ve now played the role of the bloody child romping with the dog, and I’ve cleaned and comforted the bloody child from the romping dog.  Oh, the romping dog.

Do you have any humorous stories about raising a puppy?  How does your dog fit into your life?  Does your dog get to use the furniture?  What is your best dog-raising tip?

 

the expanse of a tidy bedroom

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Our family reads poetry every evening as the sun scuttles to the mountains, just as the breeze takes the stage and finds herself playing the main role for the first time all day.  Yesterday we read Variations on the Word Sleep by Margaret Atwood, whom I love.  I love this poem, these words have lived a long time in my library heart.

I love that–in the course of a night–she wants to be all of the sturdy pieces in the subconscious of her bed partner’s sleep.  I love her repetition of the word sleep.  When I read this poem, I’m both excited for the narrator to have such unique and potent ideas to support her partner’s dream life, and for one to receive such support.

For some reason, I imagine their bedroom to be stark and crisp.  The sheets cool and flat.  I imagine the bedside table sparse with only necessity–a glass of water atop its mother-pitcher, a favorite book of poems, a current novel, and a feather or a crystal or a charm or a seashell from that trip to the north coast some years back, a candle perhaps.  This got me thinking about a tidy bedroom, and the name bedroom, of course!

Our bedroom has an old ironing table along the wall, a host to my decorated altar.  (All of the aforementioned specimen sit on my altar.)  And it has our bed, of course.  And diapers.  On our bedside stand– an old wooden folding chair with slats that slide–is a special blessing candle we light each night after story time, a book of stories, and our nighttime water.  That’s all, though; that’s enough.  I love the crispness of our bedroom.  I think it allows for me to drift into sleep unnoticed and necessary.  I think the sparse gives space to my dreams and my sleep hygiene.

How I love the dream world.  I wake slowly (dreamily) in the mornings to relive those opaque memories, a beggar for those concrete images to flash upon my retina.  And once I have the memory of the dream, I go to work: I analyze, I write, I delight in the potential (endless) meanings behind my subconscious imagination.  A while back I had a dream I was in the bus, only it was a generic recreational vehicle camper and behind me in the living quarters were a bunch of overly chilled out young men.  I told them I’d be back and I walked into the animal shelter.  I saw that a just-shaved-bald man was signing up to take my soul dog–a Great Dane/Australian Shepherd mixed breed whose build was that of the great Dane with the exact colors of an australian shepherd, an intelligent gentle giant with piercing blue sea eyes.  I close-talked the man, I laugh now, but I even grabbed him by the collar (why I aughtta-esque), and told him there was no way I’d let him take my soul dog.  I walked back to the bus and couldn’t get the engine started.  I alerted the young men in the back that they would need to leave if they couldn’t quiet down.  And finally started the ignition, drove off, and I don’t remember if I got the dog, what the bald man said, and where the laid-back youngsters disappeared to.  That’s the beauty of dreams, I think.  You don’t have to know it all, there is gentle surrender in the mystery, it’s an easily accepted known about dreams.

Naturally though, I went to town with this dream!  I’ll spare you my musings and best friend text message banter, suffice it to say that I love the dream analysis and I found a quiet space in the wee hours of morning to think about this dream without clutter in my bedroom, for that, I am grateful.  I am grateful, too, for the expanse and space to breathe in my bedroom.  And how splendid it is to be necessary, to be unnoticed.

lindsey wayland

meet maeve

A long time ago my family inherited a dog named Lefty.  I was in middle school.  He lived outside with our slightly older dog Beau, a white German Shepherd who loved my father faithful and tried.  Lefty and Beau ran around and enjoyed themselves out-of-doors for many years.  Beau loved water, he loved water in a river, in a lake, in the kiddie pool, and from the hose pointed straight at him for as long as someone–anyone would spray.  Lefty pretended he loved water, maybe because he saw how much attention Beau received for the quirk, maybe because he thought that’s what dogs did, but he did not love water.  In fact, Lefty despised water.  His dedication to pretending he loved water, in hindsight, drew me to be his person.

His person as in every dog has a person, one person.  Not necessarily their “alpha” but the one they spend most of their years loving more than anyone else.  Because of a soul connection.  It would be later that I would admire Lefty’s admiration for me by following me into countless bodies of water.

When Beau passed away I had moved to college, but I was home when he died.  My dad and I both cried that day.  My dad was Beau’s person.  He’s been the person for three dogs, now, all with B names.  Lefty moped after that.  He did not need to pretend he loved water, and he got lost in that territory, the really honest place.  It can be dark.

I insisted I take Lefty back to my small east Texas college town.  I said he would be happy with one-on-one attention.  I don’t know what persuaded me to be so certain, a driving force with which to be reckoned.  He came with me in my hand-me-down gold Geo Metro back to Cason street.  He came everywhere with me after that, to the Library, to Geology lab, to parties, to friends’ houses, to the grocery, and swimming (yes, swimming).  He was my dog as much as I was his person.

Until his passing, I never gave much thought about being the person for another dog again.  We were content together, Lefty and I.  When he traveled back over the rainbow bridge, my heart collapsed.  The timing was perfect, though, I was moving to San Francisco and couldn’t find an apartment allowing a dog.  My heart grows deep and sad just regaling this story now.  I cried all night, I tried to sleep inside at my parents house the night he passed away, but couldn’t and I rested with his body in the back of my father’s truck.  I laid on his cold hard body, sobbing instead of sleeping.  A cat we thought had run away (whose amnion Lefty nosed after he was born on Cason Street) came back for the first time in months that night and slept with me in the bed of the truck.  Good ole Guido.  We buried Lefty in the back yard at my parents’ house.  I buried my favorite childhood book Todd and Copper next to him.  I wore his scratched royal blue bone-shaped metal tag on a necklace for a year after he died.  I still keep the tag in a ceramic hexagon painted fish dish on the bathroom shelf next to my intact extracted wisdom tooth, an old typewriter W key, and a crystal.

Last winter we began to open the idea of a dog in our family.  I got really clear about my intentions in April, just before Easter.  We had been searching for puppies here and there, and once clarity washed over me–I wanted to adopt and rescue a puppy–our perfect dog showed up.  Maeve was born in the mountains of central Washington with four siblings.  Her ancestry is a bit of a mystery but we have two puzzle pieces: she is part Bernese Mountain dog and part Border Collie.  She is a delightful mystery mutt and I love her more than I could imagine I would.

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I have known her before.  Our souls’ have been together before this life.  I am uniquely drawn to her, and she to me.  What a blessing!  She has a strong inclination to please, looks deep into my eyes with a knowing about her.  I am so in love!

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