New Year Outtakes

New Year Outtakes

Welcome Center, Tennessee

EPIPHANY

Like a dog, at my feet, beneath the table, my mind begs, shamelessly, after each & every meal, even breakfast:

“No dessert?”

After a display of disgust, I pat it on the head, and say:

“Let’s go see what we have.”

~

MID-JANUARY

To say nothing seems wrong. To say something, just to say something, seems trite.

What I felt as I drove through a snowstorm in the Blue Ridge Mountains was shock.

“Mary Oliver has died,” said the announcer on NPR, without asking if we were all sitting down.

And just like that a window shut, a door slammed, a page turned, a poem…

Her words came at a time when I was finding myself, and like she did for so many, her way of seeing lit the way, and made it softer and sweeter and whole.

~

MLK WEEKEND

“Friday is the Day of Detachment. Today we tell our children: Enjoy the journey.”

Another dreary day of winter weather, blocking my view & my mood. But after two full days of driving, I am waking up in a place I’ve never been before, to the sound of a bird I don’t know, in a stranger’s bed in Knoxville, Tennessee where my youngest and I have journeyed to celebrate the most powerful thing in the world.

Love.

~

VERMONT BOUND

The Smokies were covered today and we extended our stay to avoid the weather up ahead.

As the sun set in the west and the full moon rose in the east, we drove through the Tennessee town in which Dolly Parton was born, on this very weekend, 73 years ago.

What struck me most about this time in the “South,” almost immediately, was the pause people take, even when passing by, even when brushing shoulders with strangers, to say something kind or to smile, which we’re happy to reciprocate only we didn’t know and so we kept on going or kept it short or turned away too soon, respecting individuation & time instead of the gentility of connection. (I wonder if the North is more heavily populated by introverts.)

“Southern women are nice to your face and then talk behind your back,” our Airbnb host said.

The anomalies & attributes of another person or place are easier to see than one’s own, and so here’s what else we noticed:

Cheap gas! We filled up for $1.89 today (almost makes us want to stay and drive around some more.)

70 mph speed limit. With signs that tell you to stay in the right lane if you’re going less than 70.

BILLBOARDS. (Thank you for banning those Vermont!)

GOD: in the bathroom, on the coffee table and everywhere else along with GUNS & SEX (aka. “Adult” establishments), the bedfellows of PATRIARCHY & OPPRESSION, partnered with fireworks, bbq, knives, moonshine, distilleries & and a string of extravagant Christmas-lawn ornament light stores.

Other EXCESSES: Pedicures & sundaes–at the same time. (I was tempted.) A hunk of cornbread & 2 huge biscuits with your small order of chicken & dumplings. “You won’t starve here,” the waiter said. Price: $5.95

Loads of Arby’s & Hardy’s & Chick Fill A (as well as Waffle Houses & Krispy Kremes.)

Angular mountain ranges & ridges.

“Yes, ma’am.”

~

IN-SERVICE

Today my husband, a highschool social studies teacher, spent his half-day in-service learning how to stop the bleeding. Legs & arms mainly because apparently there’s less success with torso wounds in the classroom.

 

Advertisements
First Storm

First Storm

We lost the ”Grandfather” tree soon after we built the house which was quite a blow to all of us, but the “Grandmother” Pine, so named for being almost as tall as the seed tree just beyond her, is still with us, a dozen years later, though we fear not for long.

Still, this morning when trees fell across this mountain town–upon houses and roadways and cars–She, Ever-Wise, sacrificed an upper branch which in its tumbling cleared the lower branches of their burden of heavy snow so that she remains, sturdy, high above the canopy, facing West.

I can’t help thinking this some kind of Wisdom Teaching—about aging and letting go and most of all provision—but I’ll wait to ponder that until I’ve had supper and a shower, hoping electricity & running water will be restored soon.

(November 2018)

Chrysalides

Chrysalides

I look past the needles that line my belly, the lowest just above the rise of my pelvis, an inch deep, and further still past the needles at my ankle to the plant circling the room where the walls meet the ceiling, the same ivy-like, heart-shaped-leaf that I have in my house, a plant which was once among several left on a small round kitchen table with the words: “Free,” which despite the absence of a green thumb I brought home after a yoga class or was it a birthing class, both brand new endeavors  after leaving the mid-Atlantic for the Green Mountains in 1993 where I discovered at my first staff meeting at Deerfield Valley Elementary that everyone ate something that I’d I mistakenly pronounced as another word for soil.

A Long Slow Color is Green.

These are the words that were carved into thick medallion of wood that hung above the entrance to a place smack in the middle of Main Street, beside a classic Vermont Inn. The oddly named: Klara Simpla housed the bookstore which is what brought me inside the strange smelling shop filled with something called herbs and homeopathics and tinctures, not to mention the yoga and birthing classes (among other offerings) on the second and third floors. There were also two huge chests filled with household and clothing items that were giveaways. 25 years later, I’m still the plaid blanket that I found in that pile is a family classic when we picnic beside pond and I still wear the black, water resistant wind pants when I snow shoe.

A long slow color is green.

Those words from the wooden medallion which hung above Klara Simpla were spoken out loud to me once by the founder herself, the woman who offered her plants to women like me just beginning to find our way on the path to wholeness.

“There is so much to know. How do I begin?” I asked Faye, at the end of an interview she’d surprisingly granted me when I’d first began writing for the Cracker Barrel.

But what really brought my attention to the plant circling the ceiling in the acupuncturist’s office, beyond the fact that the old period building with its hissing radiators reminded me of my husband’s grandmother’s place in the nearby Berkshires (which is how we ended up leaving the southern New Jersey for New England), and beyond the surprise that my surname was all over the building because in addition to housing the acupuncturist’s office, it housed an organization called the Salasin Center (so named for a distant relative that I found on Facebook) was that its dead leaves were left hanging among its healthy ones, and if not a shouting sign of neglect then some kind of statement which I had plenty of time to ponder as I lay on the table week after week for an hour at a time–from sandals to long pants to scarves to wool socks and hats.

With nothing to do but remain still so that the needles in my belly (or eye socket) wouldn’t move, the story–my story–about the neglected ivy-like plant–began to shift, somewhere beneath my personal anxiety around neglect.

When the acupuncturist returned to the room to remove the needles of which there were a total of 8 on this particular visit–including one at the top of my skull, and one at each of my temples, as well as one between my toes and another placed between my bottom two ribs, I finally said aloud what I’d been thinking for so many weeks in a row (hoping to silence it in my head):

“Has anyone ever said that those–(I pointed toward a particularly long line of decaying leaves)–look like a chrysalis?” (I wish I knew then the plural.)

Surprisingly Dan said, “No,” and nothing more.

But my therapist picked up the thread, the very same week, which is something I try to avoid–more than one appointment in the same week–but which has been unavoidable during this health crisis that has so depleted me (while serving as a boot-camp for letting go.)

“This is a very inward time for you, more so than ever,” Carolyn said, as I sat across from her in a room perched above the Connecticut River in downtown Brattleboro; something I had been doing about once a month or so ever since my mother’s death, a span of time easily measured by the age of my youngest son, 18.

“It’s time to retreat, to be unseen, to rest under the covers,” she said, “To let your work deepen inside like the spinning of a cocoon.”

My mind immediately protested with all that had to be done in that particular month–December!–not to mention the day trip I’d imagined to the sea the very next day–on the occasion of my 55th birthday. (I had arrived in Vermont at 29.)

“Does this resonate for you?” Carolyn asked, seeing past the veneer of my capacity, into the grievous depletion of chi.

I nodded begrudgingly.

There was one last appointment scheduled that same day, which is something I never do, but it was the only opening my friend had to trade massage for the work I’d done on her website.

The afternoon though brightly lit, was bitter cold, and I arrived at her house chilled, and even so, I removed each and every layer, until I stood in my underwear and slid, belly up, under the single sheet on her table.

“Are you cold?” she asked, turning up the temperature on the heating pads beneath me.

Elaina dangled the pendulum over the center line of my body sensing the ongoing obstruction of the second chakra–digestion, letting go, family, finances, overextension.

“How is mothering going?” she asked, knowing that my youngest left the nest this very August, a day upon which this sweeping illness presented itself in absurdly symbolic fashion.

“There is a burden on your left shoulder,” she added. “A responsibility that you’re carrying, that is not yours, which means it’s stuck there because it has nowhere to go.”

I told her about the Ritual of Resignation that I had concocted just before Thanksgiving. My therapist had suggested the ritual as an accompaniment to the potent antibiotics to which I planned to surrender, something I hadn’t needed since I moved to Vermont and began using herbs. I filled the prescription bottle with tiny pieces of paper upon which I wrote all the ways I was ready to let go, particularly with regard to my family of origin who I’d begun to carry as a girl.

“So many of your joints are blocked,” Elaina said, as she massaged my shoulders and elbows and wrists, my hips and knees and ankles.

As I write this morning, on the day after my birthday, my hands take turns leaving the keyboard to touch my shoulder tips again and again. The skin there is so strikingly soft, like a baby’s flesh (or what I vaguely recall of a baby), the result of a salt scrub I offered my joints yesterday morning while the sun rose brightly through the trees on another bitterly cold day, on the anniversary of my birth.

So too was my time on the table with Elaina sensual, accompanied as it was by her cat, black, like my own Licorice from long ago with whom I shared a soul connection as a girl in Rockies as my mother disappeared in the bottle. Licorice would drag her paws down my face, and once when recalling this in my therapist’s chair on a guided journey forty years later, I was certain I smelled Licorice’s milky breath.

As Elaina worked on my neck, “Kiki” brushed her whiskers against my left cheek, purring in my ear, and then she pranced across my belly, tenderizing the second chakra, while on the Elaina’s small cd player, a classical version of “Danny Boy” softly played, a song which once eulogized my mother who named her only son Daniel.

After the sunny birthday morning shower with the salt scrub around each joint, my husband drove me to the sea, where I watched from the passenger’s seat, light, moving across frozen lakes and rivers and marshlands and fields, even as my head ached from yet another migraine (a fourth since Thanksgiving week; since the antibiotic?) until I arrived, at the hour of my birth, sensing into the pain of separation–skull crushed by pubic bones–at the open, endless, embrace of Return, understanding in that moment, that the title of my book would be something much larger than I had conceived, could conceive, of the story I’d been spinning several years around a tragedy.

When instead of turning south, we continued along the coastal road deeper into Maine, we passed a tiny pond beside the woods upon which a single skater glided skillfully in tighter and tighter circles.

“He must be professional hockey player,” I said to my husband.

“Such a small pond he’s on,” my husband replied.

“Such elegance,” I said.

And now I recall the moment when I’d fully surrendered to Elaina’s touch on the table, and she asked me to turn over onto my belly, layering heating pads and blankets atop my back, until I grew so hot that I imagined melting, after which she removed the layers, which had grown sticky, peeling them one by one, until I found myself unburdened and light, nascent and raw, like the first unfurling of new life.

Women’s Gathering: 1st Chakra, November 1

Women’s Gathering: 1st Chakra, November 1

Dear Winter Women’s Circle,

I look forward to gathering with you on Thursday November 1st.

If you haven’t already and you’re willing, please add your name here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/112179716336035/

Expect an email with directions to my home.

Arrive anytime after 4:30 and before 4:45 pm. Feel free to park and walk on the road alongside the brook/pond if you are early.

When you enter through the mudroom, do so in silence. We’ll remain in meditative silence until everyone arrives and we’ve had a chance to settle into ourselves, which is particularly potent for this first gathering in the first chakra.

With your first chakra comfort in mind, you might like to bring slippers or a shawl, a basket with a jar of water and or a favorite travel mug, a light meal for yourself or a snack (or beverage of any kind) to share. Some among us will be vegetarians, some vegans, some omnivores, some who avoid sugar or alcohol or chocolate, some who are allergic to gluten and some like me allergic to garlic  😦  Which is to say: Bring what you need–for you–and we will each have what we need.

When you arrive in the house you’ll find a bathroom at the bottom and top of the stairs. Feel free to fix yourself some tea or eat a light dinner that you’ve packed in, or write in your journal, or close your eyes. You decide. Make yourself cozy at the table, by the fire, on the stairs, on the couch or in a chair.

We will open in silence, and then delve into the first chakra with reading, response, music, meditation and perhaps some simple movement. You need not know anything. A favorite pen and a notebook or journal will come in handy. We’ll close in connection after 7 pm. (If a firm time is needed for your departure, don’t hesitate to let me know ahead of time.)

For this first chakra gathering, you might like to contemplate the color red, ancestors, rock, stone, root, earth, home, new beginnings.

If you’d like, you can wear something red or bring a photo or other token of an ancestor or some thing that represents a new beginning that you’d like to seed in the magic of women gathering at the turning of the year. Bringing something is optional. Contemplating is plenty. Being completely unprepared is entirely welcome. Come as you are. Meet yourself there.

Have I forgotten anything? Don’t hesitate to ask.

For those who’ve read this far but aren’t enrolled, there is at this posting–one spot open for November 1st and one spot open for the full season.

More here: https://thisvtlife.com/2018/10/03/when-women-gather/

Yours in nourishing & uplifting women’s spirits,
Kelly

Recap:

Arrival time: between 4:30 and 4:45 pm on Thursday, November 1st. (Address to be sent via email.)

Pack in: slippers? shawl? water? favorite mug? light supper? snack and or beverage to share?

Bring: Notebook of some kind and favorite pen.

Consider: the color red, ancestors, rock, earth, roots, home, beginnings; bring a long a token of some kind to place on altar?

Closing: around 7 pm.

Note: If you are enrolled for a single gathering or the full season, let me know as much in advance as possible if you can’t make so that I can adjust plans accordingly. Following your missed gathering, I will provide an offering for a home chakra practice for you.

If a gathering has to be cancelled due to weather, I will create an open gathering space online throughout the month with corresponding chakra explorations and practice in lieu of an in-person gathering.

If a gathering has to be cancelled due to something on my end, I will reschedule it on a consecutive Thursday (as available) and also offer online access in the event there are some who can’t make it to the rescheduled date.

Powder light sky

Powder light sky

Our son’s autumn week at home has come to a close, finishing with a trip south for a family wedding in Pennsylvania, completed by the necessary mecca to Wawa–just for gas; but while we’re there–How about a soft pretzel or two?

We skip the hoagies this trip, but what about Tasty Cakes–the communion of Return–the Body of my Childhood (the peanut butter chocolate ones) and of my late mother (Butterscotch Krimpets.)

We arrive home the lesser for it, even while our hearts are full, as the powdery sky above the Green Mountains speaks to the cleansing promise of winter.

Once again we say goodbye.

when women gather!

when women gather!

still. nourish. rest. retreat. connect. slow.

an evening gathering in southern vermont
on the first thursday of each month from autumn to spring

with chakra-based music, meditation, writing & sharing prompts
along with extensions that vary each month according to chakra
with one gathering for each of the 7 chakras, beginning november 1st, 2018


opening in silence (4:30 ish)
(fix yourself some tea, journal, close your eyes, rest)
closing in connection (7:00 ish)
(self, spirit, other)

tea-kettle & potluck snacks/drinks available throughout the evening
(potluck supper at last gathering)

absolutely no skill of any kind required
(simply come as you are and be met without needing to change a thing)

enrollment:

full journey, autumn through spring: $175

(contact Kelly about the wait list, kel(at)sover.net)

opening with all souls day in november and continuing once a month through winter into spring (on the first thursday of every month) and culminating with beltane in early may.

together, we’ll shape a sangha (a community) of voices, deepening presence through the chakras (the body’s energy centers), for a journey that is both gentle and transformative.

note: participants will receive online access for a chakra-home inquiry for any missed gatherings.

~

single gathering: $49

(contact Kelly about the wait list, kel(at)sover.net)

this rate allows you to claim a spot in the first chakra gathering on thursday, november 1st. and to upgrade to the full journey if space allows

these women circles take place in a private residence on macarthur road just off route 9 in marlboro, VT (between wilmington & brattleboro.)

(note: women participating in the snail mail 3-season writing journey can reserve participation in the monthly women’s circle at an reduced rate; please inquire.)

Facilitator Kelly Salasin has been participating in transformational women’s circles since her early thirties (in the late 1900’s 🙂 In 2000, she began leading women’s workshops, circles and groups, including designing her online curriculum, Writing through the Chakras, which she leads with women from Crete to the Carolinas. Kelly is a certified yoga and yogadance instructor.

She regularly assists leading presenters at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, including Jean Shinoda Bolen (author of The Millionth Circle), Julia Cameron (the Artist’s Way), Joan Borysenko (A Women’s Book of Life),Tara Brach (True Refuge), Tama Kieves (This Time I Dance) and Dani Shapiro (Still Writing.) Kelly studied with renown chakra teacher Anodea Judith (Wheels of Life) and has assisted teaching trainings with Megha Nancy Buttenheim, founder of Let Your Yoga Dance (a chakra-based movement practice.)

Each March, Kelly serves as an NGO representative at the annual Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York City, gathering with women & men from around the globe to amplify women’s voices.

Contact Kelly with questions.

 

“Listening, witnessing, role modeling, reacting, deepening, mirroring, laughing, crying, grieving, drawing upon experience, and sharing the wisdom of experience, women in circles support each other and discover themselves…”
Jean Shinoda Bolen

Cleo & Ollie, Raspberries for Breakfast

Cleo & Ollie, Raspberries for Breakfast

Late July~

They were barely toddlers when we heard them on the rock outcropping off the back door.

That early June dawn offered a rare sighting of an entire family–both parents and their pups—6 in all!

Later, like last summer, it was just the pups who would come out all hours of the day, and they would let us join them outside, while lounging or nestling or playing, and we’d speak softly as we approached, and sometimes take a series of photos, like parents of little ones do, noticing, over time, how their fur thickened and their coloration and markings deepened.

Eventually, only Ollie and occasionally Cleo would stay when we came near, but soon, even Ollie dashed back into the den upon our arrival. (The other two never stayed long enough for us to get to know them.)

And then that July day came, and the day after that, and then a week, and then another, where we had to resign ourselves that they had grown too old for humans or had perished in the woods while learning to hunt with their parents.

And even still, I look and listen, every day, just in case, jumping up at any sound to see… Nothing.

This is how it goes. The wondrous gift of life and then the absence of the gift. The vacancy. The ache.

Our Aidan will do the same disappearing act this summer, has already done so, is always doing so, transforming from that chubby-cheeked, toasted-marshmallow fleshed, apple-berry-loving baby into an adult—all of an unfathomable 18 years this August.

One afternoon in the heat of early July, he and I were embroiled in a dispute of some kind, hollering at each other across the kitchen, and then simmering with hostility in our respective corners of the house.

Moments later, we heard the squeals, and then we rushed together toward the back door and stood there in silent adoration, our skin touching, our breaths slowed, our moods completely transformed in the holy presence of new life.

Once last summer, when I was working at my desk, I went to the door, in deep despair over our nation, and there were the babes who in an instant lifted me from rhythms of man.

Just the thought of that day is a teacher, a balm, a homecoming.

I slept poorly last night, even after stripping out of my nightgown and stepping onto the porch and into the rain, too soft for the good soaking I craved.

It may have been the moon. It may have been the strong coffee I had an hour too late in the afternoon. It may have been the news I took in before bed, a personal taboo that I’ve broken again and again since #45; so necessary is attention, so addictive is urgency.

Once asleep, I woke often, even in the wee hours of this morning, but it wasn’t until I heard the sound of squeals, not quite birdlike, just before 6 am, that I came to my feet and stepped quickly to the balcony doors, and saw with a mixture of joy and disappointment, three ten-year-olds scampering up the stone path to the outdoor tub.

“They’re so grown,” said Aidan, when he stepped in beside me, wiping his eyes. “Only three?”

“Do you think that’s Ollie?” I asked, as the other two disappeared in the woods across the lawn.

We watched the young fox alone there on the hill, until he too realized his solitude, and dashed off in search of the others, whimpering into the woods and venturing in just a bit, before reappearing, loping back across the lawn, and up the rock outcropping, to the cry of a parent’s reply from inside the den.

“Not Ollie,” we said, and then Aidan turned and went back to bed.

Once the sun rose a bit more over the hill, I went outside to bathe, and as the sole of my feet felt the heat of the stones beneath me, I thought of their paws there just an hour earlier, of how we shared the same path; and not just the foxes that morning, but the deer, and the chipmunks, the moose, the turkey, the groundhog, the fisher cat, the black bear and all manner of creatures with whom we share this land, seen and unseen, sometimes seasons, sometimes years, between sightings.

Once inside the confines of the tub, I closed my eyes and tilted my head back and floated upon the water listening to the my breath, each inhale and exhale amplified by the porcelin, and hearing even the beating of my heart, echoing like a drum, as the world around me disappeared.

When I opened my eyes again, it was the lush green foliage of the canopy that I saw overhead, and I felt much like a scuba diver, but in the jungle, deep in the center of me.

Early August~

I was returning from my morning walk, and she was just heading out.

We spotted each other as I crested the driveway.

My first thought was:

“Oh, there’s our cat, I mean, our dog.”

I almost called her toward me, but then remembered that I didn’t have a pet, haven’t had one since I was a kid.

This freed up my brain to produce: “Wild animal,”
And then: “Fox,”
And then: “Baby fox,”
And then: “Hi Cleo!” the smaller of the two babes that I got to know when the four of them frequented the rock outcropping off my studio.

Surprised to see each other head-on, we stared for some time, and then to fill in the space between us and to keep her from dashing and to lessen any anxiety I may have felt about her further approach toward me, I sang the lullaby that I had sung when she was just a kit.

Eventually, she decided against continuing down the driveway, and turned toward the path into the woods, so that I could continue up, moving from the shade to the sun.

With two cars between us, we stared some more. Yet it wasn’t so much staring we were doing, but “stilling,” taking in the presence of each other, acknowledging our shared and distinct lives, as if to say: “Hello, there, nice to see you again.”

Then she turned to trot down the grassy path, and I stepped up onto the porch; two neighbors getting on with our day.

Ollie on the Rocks

Mid-August

It occurs to me now that as the fox kits have aged, they like to see me a couple times a month, in quick bursts, while I like to see them at least every few days, in leisurely companionship.

The same seems to be true of my sons.