Sunday, September 30, 2007

Home again, so blessed I could cry

It's now the morning after arrival home, my final three days in the Prius across I-40 to I 44 to Indiana 46 fueled by Starbuck frappacinos and the audio version of Grisham's "King of Torts"—highly recommended, by the way, as a clear course on the corruption that fuels class action suits.

Both my kitties seem to have forgiven me, though they are hedging their bets by eating in both my house and the neighbor's next door and — sob — neither slept with me or even stayed in my house last night. (To my catsitter's anguish, they prefered my neighbors to him.)

A quick inventory of important things lost while en route: yoga mat (replaced); special pillow with pillowcase (twice! the first time replaced with a K-Mart version; the second one near the end); plus, my two favorite sun hats. A few more things lost too, which I no longer remember . . . Not bad, considering that I didn't lose my keys or wallet!

In 66 days I drove 8915.4 miles (averaged out to 50.2 mpg), slept in 33 beds, held 28 book events to start a deeper conversation around death, loss, grief, and their gifts, and sold (and usually signed) about 200 of my own books, one at a time.

Mostly stayed with friends, and loved it. I am still surprised that I loved this aspect of the trip, because of my perennial hunger for solitude. But after this odyssey, I realize that some of my habitual need for aloneness is an attempt to stay in my mind (and refuse all distractions that would drive my already too-busy mind into chaos)! In other words, some of my need for aloneness is fueled by Fear, not Love, and I now gladly let it go.

Indeed, I'd say I DID succeed in mostly staying present, surrendering to the flow of experience rather than attempting to control it. As a result, my mind felt much less busy than usual. This state of grace was in great contrast to last night, my first at home in my own bed, when I woke up at midnight and kvetched for three hours. It felt as if the great corpus of my various (self-created) "duties" that I had largely set aside while on the road landed on me with a great thud, and of course, started my mind racing, racing, racing.

What better moment than NOW to set my intention to stay in the flow of experience no matter what? I hereby vow to gain control of my mind so that I can direct where it goes, what it thinks about, how it thinks about it, and when. In this way my mind, rather than dominating my life, will function as an welcome servant, when called upon, within the larger awareness.

Meanwhile, to catch up: of the last several book events, one was somewhat upsetting, as my skills as a facilitator were no match for an active, extraverted alcoholic who thinks of herself as an entertainer and whose eyes betrayed a jittery terror of her own woundedness. Looking back on that event now, I see this woman as the person I would have become, had I not finally taken hold and begun to work with my "abandoned child." So scary, to be in her shoes. And so amazing how one person in long-held denied pain can hijack an event meant to be a group experience.

Of the final book events, the one I remember best was in Silver City, New Mexico, with a group of about a dozen Sufis who know each other well and are unusually open to exploring the wide range and complexity of inner feeling and experience that grief presents and can transform. Our two hours together after a great potluck in the Zikr Hall felt vibrantly alive.

After that event my dear friend Darvesha and I caravaned 13 miles (and 40 minutes) up a dirt road to the newly constructed straw bale, off-the-grid home that she shares with her husband Ishan in the Gila National Forest (or is it State Forest?). During our wonderful 36 hours together, Darvesha and I bushwhacked back to the source of the spring that feeds the small creek that runs past their home, and invited two Sufi women for a leisurely lunch on the patio Ishan had terraced in the shade near the creek. Indeed, my entire time in or near Silver City felt so exhilarating that during my drive between there and Albuquerque, over a seemingly endless winding, narrow pass to I 25, I was surprised my car didn't just take off and fly!

Once in Albuquerque, I walked along a strand of the Rio Grande, within a stone's throw of the lovely little casita in which I stayed while at the home of crone friend Amelia. That evening, after another potluck, we circled up for the final book event of the tour. This one happened to be the first to include a young person in very active grieving process over the recent death of her father, a situation, of course, which tended to direct both the course and the tone of the discussion. Our empathy for and nurturance of her replaced what might have been a deeper, wider reach of perspective that that I have grown to expect from these events.

But then, the point is, to let go of expectation. Let go of attachment. Let go. As I said over and over again during this tour, what we grieve is the "loss of form"— not only of our bodies and the bodies of our beloveds, but the loss of any particular way of organizing experience. As I let go of that, as I immerse myself in What Is, over and over again remembering to wake up to the present moment, I and others DO begin to enter the awareness that knows no bounds and that drops us into Mystery.

I do think something has been initiated with this epic journey; it certainly started something moving in me, and may have reached further. Each event, held in a circle with somewhere between 7 to 25 people, but mostly around a dozen, and mostly women, seemed like a seed that dug itself into the ground of our cultural space and set in motion an invisible spiralling of energy out into many dimensions, most of them both palpable and invisible.

One more story here before closing this chapter in my trip blog.

On the day when I experienced the rogue wave, at Goat Beach, on August 29th, I also experienced another unusual situation, very different in kind. I'm surprised that I didn't write about it. Perhaps because it felt so intimate, so private; perhaps because it felt so subtle that for the moment I almost forgot about it, especially compared to the rogue wave!

In any case, here is that story: as I was walking on that beach, after the exciting Edge experience with seals, pelicans and seagulls where the Russian River meets the sea, I had finally stilled my mind enough so that all that was happening inside was the ocean whooshing in and out. Then, suddenly, and very very soft and subtle, a kind, caring female voice seemed to enter in my right ear, on the ocean side. And this is what it said, almost in a whisper, just this: "I am with you always."

I am with you always! Just like that. No explanation, no before or after, just those words, infinitely comforting.

Had any thoughts been crowding my brain then, I would not have heard the voice.

20 minutes later, the rogue wave.

Always, she is with me always. She is with me in all ways. Through nearly 9000 miles and many many experiences, some of them dangerous and raw, some beautiful and overwhelmingly loving, she is always with us. I feel so blessed I could cry.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Presence, or, Past/Present/Future

Over the past few days I have been noticing how my thoughts increasingly reach out towards home--Bloomington, my kitties, my own bed, my morning routine, and so on. This comes in startling contrast to my immersion in the flow of the present moment for all these weeks,, mostly at-one with the Now. As I notice my mind shift gears, I also sense how my emotional connection to others changes. I begin to grow impatient and judgmental, in a mild, but very real can't-wait-to-get-out-of-here mood. Then, when I pay attention to such bifurcation, I can alter it, let it go, move back into awareness, at-oneness with what IS going on, rather than anticipating the imagined, glorious near-future when the trip is complete!

This new contemplation of how I split myself into two when I focus on the future,so that the present (and the presence) gets short shrift, feels utterly familiar, and no wonder. This state of existing in my mind, outside my actual experience, is exactly the way I lived for over six decades. Only in the past few years have I turned my attention to the great task of learning how to continuously bring myself back to the this place, this moment, right here and right now.

Looking back on this trip--and this is also a new state, for not only am I beginning to look forward with longing, I am also beginning to look backwards with nostalgia--I realize that this trip itself has done exactly what I had hoped it WOULD do, surrender my mind to the living river of life. And as such, it has been a total blessing. Even the various tests (all of which by the way, for any astrologer reading this, occurred during the weeks when Pluto was at or near its station, turning to go direct exactly conjunct my natal 27 degree Sagittarian Sun)--including the rogue wave and rogue dog attacks, and the washing machine flood (see earlier blogs)--I see now all as grists for the mill of learning how to stay in the presence no matter what--including experiences of extreme shock. In none of these three situations did I panic, leave my body, act dithery and dysfunctional. So in that sense I do feel "proud" of myself.

But of course, this "pride" of mine is what I have to watch out for most. With a fiery Sagittarian Sun int he first house of my chart now being crossed by transit Pluto, arrogance is or can be my middle name. So an even greater teaching has been given by the third test--the flood--a lesson in humility the awareness of which I ask myself to always remember.

Meanwhile, since I last posted here I have "done" two more book events, one in Tucson and the other in Phoenix, both with the usual strong energetic field surrounding them, allowing for an unusual vulnerability and intimacy among participants and a greater depth of discussion than usual around death, loss and grief and their gifts. And, as usual, both these events were also precisely and uniquely themselves, with the Tucson event seemingly slow and stately, almost formal in tone and the Scottsdale event more lively with participants primed for not only death and grief but also very much open to and wanting to experience the energy of the Crone. I take this "preparation" among the participants as an outgrowth of the venue where we met, the wonderfully goddess-blessed home of Sara, a woman who has been working with ancient female energy for decades as a teacher and consultant.

This morning, my hostess Win and I went to a riparian preserve and sat by a pond where we watched a snowy egret stand and wait for many minutes and then suddenly lunge that long neck for a fish--plus many species of ducks and other birds as they landed and took off on the water, calling to one another, all in concert with the waving of the sun and its play with the clouds and the many different types of desert plants and trees. A never-ending symphony in sound and color and light and movement, so very beautiful and serene.

This afternoon, 2 to 4 p.m., the final book event in the Phoenix area, here at Win's house. Then I drive back two hours to Tucson and Scott and Todd's house for the evening, before driving four hours tomorrow to Silver City New Mexico and my second-to-last evening event there.

Yes, onother indication of my return to future-orientation is that I have begun to count the days, and the events, that remain until the completion of this odyssey. As of Sunday afternoon, I'm three events and four days away from the blessed three-day drive from Albuquerque to Indiana. A drive with no interruptions, no people, no conversation, no intensity! I may not even use the radio. I may not even listen to a book on tape. I may just indulge in silence, and more silence, and still more. Right now I imagine I will head like a speeding bullet straight for home. Or maybe not. Maybe, by then I will have surrendered once again to the presence and instead wander back like an animal, nosing around as I proceed, slowly, savoring, at-one with the process that yields the goal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Greetings from Tucson! Arrived here yesterday afternoon to stay at the high desert home of my old friends Todd and Scott from Jackson, Wyoming after a whirlwind visit with my old crone friend Elizabeth in her own high desert home near Desert Hot Springs, California. She's just painted the various outside walls of her home with gorgeous purple, yellow, green and pink colors to match her colorful and artistic personality that is well known in Palm Springs museum circles. Elizabeth had arranged for the local Peppertree Bookstore as a venue for a Palm Springs book event, and so we set up our circle of chairs in the back of the store and ten people, including three men(!) joined in for yet another intense, provocative, continuously spiraling and deepening discussion of the interdimensional realms that we can access when we allow ourselves to open the doors that beckon us through death and grief and loss. When I mentioned my sense that the entire culture is saturated by unprocessed grief, and that it may be responsible for addictions of all kinds, including our incessant need for speed of all kinds to fend off our feelings, one woman who is an addiction specialist echoed that comment, saying that she too, is realizing that grief, unprocessed grief, may be at the bottom of our collective dysfunctionality. And she brought up the idea that not only are we unable to deal with our own grief, but that we all may carry other people's grief, and that our first task may be to separate what is ours individually from what belongs to others.

At this point, when I tell people that my dead husband Jeff is working with me to set up the energy field for each of these events, the circle participants hardly bat an eye. Is it because I am more sure of myself in saying this as time goes on? Or is it because the veils betweent the worlds truly are thinning so that such remarks no longer seem strange?

Likewise, my feeling that Grief is a gate, perhaps THE gate to Love, the love of all for all, the field of vast being that surrounds us and we all float inside. This too, when I speak of it, seems naturally slide into intertisces of our minds as we speak with one another from within these larger dimensions.

Each time we must break the circle, must finish with the time we have with one another, it feels strange, incomplete. But then I must remember that the whole point is to start this conversation, not to put it into a tidy little box. That the feeling of incompleteness may be what we all need to continue to open to these worlds, to share our openings with each other and
especially, to open to them together. So many times during these events, I have felt myself in the presence of mystery, of a quickening that I'd like to reach out to grasp, to feel all the edges of, to KNOW what it is in all its details, to assimilate it consciously, but NO!

So LET GO! Just let go, I tell myself, and live through these moments, remembering them as precious and unknowable and infinitely rich in meaning that I and others will perhaps be digesting for years. Or maybe not that either! Perhaps our time for chewing our cud is over and we must learn to stay present, to forget analysis, to just open, open, open wide to more and more reality while holding our own clear center. That may be enough; that may have to be enough. That may be all we can do as time speeds up to warp speed over the next few years and swirls us all into its intoxicating vortex.

Tomorrow I begin the final five book events: one here in Tucson, two in Phoenix area, one in Silver City, New Mexico. Then one day off, then the final event in Albuquerque on September 26. From there I look forward to the three-day drive home to Indiana. And since I look forward to it, it may mean that I DO need to process and I will get my chance to do just that as I make my way across the endless flat, straight, I-70 monotony below, giant limitless sky above, that constitutes the heartland of America.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Flooding, inside and outside

Well, I spoke too soon . . . way too soon. Indeed, ten minutes after my arrival at my old tribal friends Judy and Dick's home in Oceanside, we sat down on the patio and the sprinkler system went haywire. Nothing seemed to affect it, no amount of tinkering with the controls, until that night when we turned the main water source to the yard off completely.

Next day, around noon, no one else was home. I thought I'd throw a quick load in the washing machine and get that out of the way. Went downstairs and started to talk with a friend of mine who has seemingly terminal cancer on the phone when I heard the tinkling, then the pouring of water . . . through the ceiling . . .

Ran up, turned off the spigot to the washing machine, unhooked the hot and cold faucets, and still the water poured out from underneath the machine. Thereon followed 30 minutes of trying to catch up with it, using every towel in the house and probably 10 large bowls to catch the ceiling leaks, running up and down stairs, having cut off my phone call with this incredible woman to do this awful task.

And here's the really horrible part: as we sat around the patio the evening before, I heard the story of their recent flood from the washing machine, how they had to get 28 industrial fans in to dry out the whole place for a whole week, how they had to vacate the house for the interim and that it cost $3800 . . . and thank god it didn't happen this week or the next because there's a whole housefull of guests coming for the entire two-week period!

I HAD JUST CAUSED EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION TO OCCUR AGAIN . . . because I had not put two and two together. Apparently Judy had said that we can't do wash right now because the washing machine is not yet fixed, and I had not heard the remark; but had I had my wits about me, would have paused and paid attention to the fact that I had to hook up the faucets to get the machine to work.

I—that is, WE—have been living with the consequences ever since. Big consequences, ongoing. I did a load of 24 large towels and uncounted small ones in laundromat that evening. Can't use the house because of fans. Camping outdoors. Who knows what the fan cost will be this time, but I will pay it. Everybody incredibly inconvenienced.

And, one more twist: the plumbing under the sink in the laundry room also now leaks—no relation to the washing machine . . . I can't help but think that I am bringing some kind of huge energy with me, and that it is related to GRIEF (WATER). Hopefully, it has all spilled by now.

Meanwhile, I had three book events to do here, and given that the events of that day unhinged my entire physical and emotional system, i had to repeatedly lie down and rest, try to nap, any time I could for the next two days since I wasn't sleeping well at night. Thankfully, these events are all now behind me, and all went incredibly well despite the fact that I had been (and still am) living with the devastation that I caused and attempting to absorb it, to forgive myself, to stay present, etc.

This water event not like the rogue wave and dog attack were, and I don't see it as coming from out of left field, out of my control. There is no question that I caused this event to happen, due to my momentary inattention to extremely pertinent details. And the consequences still cascade down—some of the fans still on, still camping out, bill not yet known or paid . . . and the worst part about it was it's effects on others. It's not so difficult to stay present at least at some level, when I'm working with situations that only involve myself. But when I CAUSE problems for others!!!!!

Any tendencies towards arrogance and feeling like I've really figured out what I'm doing and can do it well on this kind of trip—DASHED TO SMITHEREENS. I know that's good, and that this will all be a hilarious memory and story ub the future, but frankly, I'm still feeling like a complete fool and idiot . . . and I know that's good, too! Or that I will have that perspective on it someday.

Meanwhile, some highlights from the three events:

The first was Judy's soroptimist group, about a dozen women, who are used to a "social evening" with a speaker, and so at first I was taken aback, and felt (especially since this event happened only one day after the flood, and we had to move the event from Judy's house to a neighbor's, and dear Judy cooked chicken for the event in her hot, thunderously noisy, fan-filled kitchen) quite unsure of myself, whether I could "pull off" my intention to start a deeper conversation around death, loss, grief and its gifts in this kind of situation.

To my surprise and wonder, the social veneer of many of these woman stripped off easily once I began to read a passage from the book that Judy recommended I read to them. And there we were, once again, in a field of energy that allowed at least somewhat of a deepening into the numinous, mysterious reality that our contemplation of Death presents.

The second event was the next day, in the community room of the Kroc Center in San Diego, thanks to Jean, a woman who works there. This time about 15 women present, most of whom had been aware of my written work for years due to their involvement with the Crone movement and Crone Chronicles magazine. In fact, these women seemed to want me to show them who I was more than what I was interested in, and so I found myself telling my own stories more than usual. But still, the conversation did deepen, and I sensed a real camaraderie among us. One woman who has already read the book said it helped her a great deal to get in touch with unprocessed grief that she had still carried from the death of her 20-month old daughter more than seven years ago when she was pregnant with a second child. Her doctor had told her not to grieve, because it would harm the developing fetus!!

The third event was held at Crone friend Ginger's home in Oceanside. Seven of us sat around an oval table on her garden-surrounded patio. These were women that had somehow got onto Ginger's email list, and she did not know any of them! We introduced outselves, and discovered that all but one were widows! A wonderful conversation followed, which ended on this note:

One of the women's husband had had Alzheimer's for eight years before he died. During the first four years she took care of him before placing him in a care center and, she said, while she took care of him she was full of rage, a rage, she said, that she has still not moved out of her, despite three operations since his death a year ago, from breast and ovarian cancer.

But, she said, "last night I had a dream. All my dreams until this one have been nightmares, Alzheimer dreams, when he does something completely unpredictable and floods me with rage. But in this dream, he was clear! He was clear and he looked as he used to look, normal and present, there with me." As she said this her face flooded with light and love.

We had just been talking about my discovery (or interpretation of my inner experience of Jeff's continuing journey) that people continue to change after they die. The dream felt like a gift for all of us.

Next up, Palm Springs event, on the 18th.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Crone Mag Retreat, Crones Counsel, Visalia Event, and more!

Nine days later, I'm still alive. No more sudden unexpected rogue attacks by natural forces like ocean waves and dogs. What I take from my two strange near-disasters on northern California beaches is the idea that there is no use looking for "causes" for any phenomenon, that sometimes all I can do is bow to the mystery that presents continuously changing circumstances as food for contemplation. When I contemplate the nature of my experiences, rather than try to understand or figure them out, I open the door to an ever-expanding, ever-deepening field of awareness that shimmers with currents of all kinds and colors. Indeed, more and more, what I distill from this ten-week journey are the twin Buddhist notions of impermanence and interdependency. I dance with others in an ever-shifting ocean of experience that generates a continuous, unceasing flow of meaning and significance.

To bring up to date: After my three day personal retreat at Big Sur Riverside Inn, I met up with eleven women from the staff of the new CRONE magazine at the Big Sur Lodge, and over a 48-hour period enjoyed a group process that felt miraculous in its depth, clarity, insight and cooperativeness. We created a truly Aquarian group process with everyone present utterly herself, free to speak her mind, and open to all others. Next, I drove to Asilomar, near Monterey, a spectacular resort on the beach to attend the fifteenth annual Crones Counsel (see 160 women gathered for five days to honor, sort out, make fun of and have fun with our shared process of aging-onto-death, tell stories from our lives, share concerns and interests, buy and trade handmade art and crafts, walk the beach, drum, sing, dance—an annual full-hearted convivium that, as usual, left us refreshed, exhausted and, for some of the "newbies," transformed.

That very evening I was due for a book event in Three Rivers, California, five-hours driving distance, in the hills near Visalia, and was concerned that I would be too wiped out from the Crones Counsel to give my all at this meeting. But once again, just as in Ashland when Janet drove over from the coast to work on me four times in two days, this time the universe gifted me with my niece, Megan, a skilled and highly intuitive body and energy worker. I arrived at her home at 3 p.m., and by 7 p.m. I was ready to go, thanks to her ministrations and her homecooked meal.

That evening, the conversation moved in such deep realms and widened to such abstract and yet palpable dimensions, that after two and a half hours I finally had to cut it off due to my own need for sleep! One man there said that his experince of reading the book helped him to realize that, like Jeff, he needed to open his heart, and thanked me profusely for that recognition. Another woman, whose partner had died "thirty months and nine days ago," and who had driven an hour and a half to be with us, was grateful to be in a group where she could actually talk about her continuing sense of loss without people turning away.

I am now in Oceanside, where I stay with my high school boyfriend (also my second ex-husband), and his "new" wife (30 years together now!), for a week. Judy and Dick's home has always been a welcome stop for travelers, and three other wayfarers here with me—Megan, plus equally old friends Chuck and Ellen, with whom I stayed in the yurts in Jackson at the beginning of this ten week tour. We all attend a wedding of another member of our tribe this Saturday. Three book events also in this area, two of them in Oceanside, the other in San Diego.

Grateful, this morning, for jasmine tea, a quiet corner, sunny sky and lush scarlet flowers bloomong just outside the open window.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Rogue dog(s) attack!

Who or whatever sent me that rogue wave at Goat Beach five or so days ago, delivered me to another rogue experience at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur just before sundown yesterday.

I was walking along, thoroughly enjoying the various dogs that are allowed to accompany their people on this particular beach, saying hello to some of them, petting others. All friendly. I was feeling particularly relaxed and content, having napped in the early afternoon. A picnic dinner at sunset in daypack, sand underfeet, ears open to the crash of the surf on this dramatic and rocky beach where waves roar in through openings created by enormous rocks . . . when suddenly, out of the blue, in the corner of my eye two Australian shepherd dogs hurtle at me from 20 feet away. I turned to face them, thinking they too, will be friendly and want to play.

I think now that at first they just somehow had picked out me as an animal to herd, nipping at my ankles and legs. But then one of them actually bit me, hard, on the back of the left thigh, drawing blood. A puncture wound. Suddenly the situation had turned extremely serious for all three of us. I started raging at them and they went into full-on gang behavior whipping into a frenzy and circling endlessly opposite one another, so that as I was yelling furiously and rushing towards one of them the other was moving in for the kill. This went on and on (how long? how long is eternity?) until the dogs' owners, two girls perhaps in their late teens or early 20s, finally arrived from where they had been sitting, perhaps 300 feet away, and tried to capture them. To no avail. The frenzy worsened, always the dogs were aiming for me, teeth bared, ears back, barking and whipping faster and faster, easily eluding their mistresses.

At some point, three young men arrived, and formed a defensive line in front of me. It still took many more minutes for the girls to corral their dogs and leash them.

They have collars, with rabies tags. The girls said their shots were current, in fact one had had his shot just last week (sudden thought: could a rabies shot stimulate rabid behavior in rare cases?). That this had never happened before, and they were so sorry, etc. etc.

All sorts of thoughts went through my head, chief among them just how seriously should I treat the wound? I rubbed a little water on it from my water bottle, and sat down in a sheltered spot to eat. But how could I eat? My adrenaline was still pumping furiously. The whole ordeal had taken perhaps five or six minutes—a lifetime, in a survival scenario. At this point I was simultaneously both extremely agitated and totally depleted. Had I tried to eat I probably would have thrown up.

I walked back to the ranger station, taking care to give the girls and their leashed dogs, also walking back, a wide berth. I asked the ranger if he had a first aid kit. No. But would I like to file an Incident Report? I was inclined not to, but decided that I might regret it if I did not. As he was getting out the form, I saw the girls and dogs in their car, and indicated to him the culprits. He walked over to them and was gone for some time. Meanwhile, a pleasant, middle-aged couple in a rented VW Vanagon was at the gate, and heard what was going on. I asked them if they had a first aid kit. YES! They rooted around the van, saying they knew the rental agency had given them one, and finally found it. The woman administered to the wound, while the man started talking about seeing a doctor, and that I should take pictures, in case it goes to court.

The ranger then walked up, saying that he had noticed the aggressiveness of those dogs when they came in. That he had got one of the women's names and her birth date and the car license. He then copied them for me. When the man (of the couple) heard that the girl's last name was "Rodriguez" he started ranting (only half in jest) about how all the Mexicans have attack dogs. On and on, despite the protestations of me and his wife.

And that was but the beginning.

I went down the road to where I had seen a medical station for Big Sur. Closed.

Went to the restaurant of the motel where I'm staying and told the woman at the desk. Instantly empathic, she left to get me a cup of hot soup for the road (gratis) and wrote down directions to the closed Doctors on Duty office (open 24 hours, she said), in Monterey, a 45 minute drive on winding cliff roads.

The attack had taken place about 6:20 p.m. The sun was setting over the ocean as I drove that road, still over-stimulated and slightly panicky.

Arrived at the doctor's office at 8:10 p.m. The office had closed at 8:00 p.m.

Went next door to a Blockbusters, where a sweet young man looked up the numbers for other Doctors on Duty offices in the area. I called one of them. The woman on the other end of the line said they were closed, and then, as I was starting to ask another question, hung up on me! He then gave me the address and directions for the Monterey County Hospital, to which I drove, arriving about 8:30. Had to wait until 9:45 to be seen, not bad, considering it's Labor Day weekend. The doctor dressed the wound again and prescribed a heavy antibiotic orally. Gave me directions to the nearest 24-hour pharmacy, a Walgreens, 5 miles away. Had to get gas first, or I wouldn't make it back to Big Sur. Did that. At the pharmacy, they told me it would be a 20-minute wait. Instead of waiting, I went to the grocery store to get yogurt, so that my gut wouldn't suffer too much from the antibiotic (really need probiotics, but health food stores probably won't open until after Labor Day, two days hence).

Even as I was absorbed in wrestling with the ongoing saga of my trauma, I noticed that the car parked next to mine at Walgreens held a woman and her pre-teen son, both huddled with blankets on, trying to be invisible. Homeless. Sudden switch from focus on me to her much more difficult situation. Then sudden switch again, this time to how lonely I feel in having go through this medical emergency alone. Then again, back to her. Who cares about my trivial evening's ordeal when some people are on survival's edge much much longer, even their whole lives.

Finally got on the road back to Big Sur about 11:15 p.m., after stopping for a to-go hamburger to ground my energy, figuring otherwise I would be a menace on the dark twisty narrow road so late at night. (And geez! It's late at night on Labor Day weekend. What about drunks coming at me! Mentally, I call upon all my guides and angels to keep me safe.) Could barely down half of the burger, but it did do the trick. Arrived back here at the motel, without further incident, at 11:59 p.m.

Went immediately to the computer to see the astrological configuration in the heavens for the moment of the dog attack. As I suspected, the Midheaven/Immum Coeli axis of the chart for that moment was exactly conjunt the Mars/Uranus opposition in my natal chart. Mars/Uranus can mean "sudden, violent action," and it certainly did, this time. But what made this moment so very propitious was that transit Saturn had just moved that very day, after two and a half years in lordly Leo, into Virgo, where it squares (90° away from) my natal Mars/Uranus. Virgo, which often deals with health issues, calls us to focus very precisely in the moment, and pay extremely close attention to detail. This I did; this I had to do all during that unexpected five-hour ordeal, most of it at night, with directions to many places scribbled on tiny pieces of paper and making sure, during that whole long strange trip, to not misplace keys or wallet, not hit other cars on the twisty road nor even for a nanosecond look away from the center of the road lest I plunge over a thousand floot drop to the sea.

THIS is R&R? Some kind of cosmic joke? Anyway, good fodder for practicing staying aware in the present moment. The poison oak is spreading, but who cares? All things are relative.

And of course, speaking of astrology, I forgot to mention again that transit Pluto is turning this week, to go direct, and so much more emphasized that usual, and that it happens to be, for the first and only time in my life, exactly conjunct my natal Sun. Twice in one week, I've endured sudden, unexpected life-death situations. Each one a death of sorts, cleansing me of all that went before, opening me to the sheer exhilaration of the present moment.

And by the way, that incident required that I open to encounters with perhaps 18 other people, most of whom were very nurturing and supportive.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

R&R, poison oak, and what makes a person tick?

I sit on the shade-dappled lawn of The River Inn in Big Sur, California, my legs tired from walking probably three miles or so up the canyon trail at Julia Pfeiffer State Park this warm morning among ancient redwoods next to the sea. Physical exhaustion would make me feel good, except that near the inside elbow of my left arm is, horror of horrors, a spot of poison oak! Probably due to the three hours I spent at Point Lobos yesterday, where poison oak is ubiquitous.

I've taken two high-powered 200c Rhus Tox homeopathic doses so far, and have one more to go, but this stuff might just get me anyhow, just the way poison ivy used to get me, until I started to take pantothenic acid on a regular basis. If poison oak does get me, then it's time to "practice the presence" even more thoroughly, to accept even the itching into the moment and not separate from it!

Meanwhile, one day into three days of personal R&R, I've begun to delve into a question that fascinates me at present, namely, what exactly, uniquely, drives me? Perhaps with transit Pluto turning to go direct, right on top of my 27° Sagittarian Sun, this question is currently inevitable. In other words, how does the mysterious Plutonian life force channel itself through my partciular mind/body/soul to distinguish "me" from other beings? My studies in astrology point to one way of looking at this question of the uniqueness of every being. But what I'm looking for now, is a statement or two that describes what I've been searching for, what all my projects and products are spin-offs of, all my life.

The question has come up in the wake of my interview with Angles Arrien on Thursday, a riveting 75 minute occasion where it felt as if we were diving down into what makes her, this specific woman, this extraordinarily gracious teacher/healer cultural anthropologist, tick? You'll have to wait for the first issue of CRONE: Women Coming of Age, due out Spring Equinox, 2008, to "read all about it." We were both pleased, and at least I was slightly surprised, that our time together flowed so smoothly and efficiently and created content that even she seemed glad to uncover!