Sep 15, 2010

Cataclysm of A Moment

I have been working, off and on, for about a year on a memoir about my work with my spiritual teacher and although feel I've made some good progress on it find I continually question my right to be writing a memoir without nailing down the one big moment in my life that I want to explore, talk about, start from. You know the moment I'm talking about, the moment we supposedly all have at some point, that magically shifts everything we know about ourselves and the world and throws us head long into a new life. The kind of moment that's often described like a cataclysmic shift of consciousness from which we can never return; that who we were was completely burned up in a fire with nothing left to pick up out of the rubble and say,"THIS was me. It is NOT me anymore."

I've had those moments. I'm not arrogant enough to say I've had none but what I'm starting to realize as I scan back over my life looking for that moment to write about that mine often don't take that form. My experience is more like a series of events that open me to a truth I already know and it's the moment that I acknowledge the truth all those moments are pointing to that that leaves me stunned and out of breath and suddenly changed for all eternity.

I have worked with a spiritual teacher for over 11 years and my road to finding him was, although not uneventful, something I'm challenged to pick one moment to write about. I can't even say I knew something was missing, that I had been searching for something, until probably a year or two after beginning work with him. I can look back over the years leading up to it; graduating college knowing less about what I wanted than when I started, marrying my ex-husband on a whim in Vegas and splitting up a year later, and my decision to leave everything I knew and move across the country to Nashville; as steps in my Spirits divine plan to find and work with this teacher. Individually none of those experiences were cataclysmic in nature; although my separation and ultimate divorce from my ex did rock my world to it's core; it would be the combination of them, and all the others in between, that would lead me to acknowledge my desire for change.

I don't know that I've had that one moment, like Elizabeth Gilbert (in Eat Pray Love) in supplication on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night in a flood of tears realizing how much she didn't want what she had or Gordon Hempton in an interview in the September 2010 issue of The Sun where he describes how he pulled to the side of a road after driving all day to sleep in a corn field and experienced a thunderstorm that left him with a life that was " longer adequate." I've had moments, especially after a very powerful fire ceremony, that left me knowing I had to tear down my life as it was and re-create it to match who I was at that moment. Yet I have a hard time pulling just one of those moments out and crowning it as THE moment that changed my life forever.

My search for that one moment to define how I got where I am has left me frustrated and often deflated. It always seems, especially as I started taking classes on writing memoir, that I must find one moment; one spectacular, grand, illuminating, life altering collision of divine intervention moment and write about that. This task I find especially difficult, often moving me to take a hiatus from my daily writing all together feeling I'm not getting anywhere and I'll never get to where I'm supposed to be. Perhaps the truth is I don't have a story worth telling at all. I hate that my experience is not like everyone else's. And perhaps I, entoumbed in my belief that anything worth having can only be born from my measurable ability to work hard, am missing the spectacular view from my innate ability to simply observe.

Reading the Gordon Hempton interview today I pondered another option. My life is a series of moments, a series of experiences that all build upon each other. The cataclysmic moment that I'm searching for presents in much smaller ways for me and, instead of redefining my life in an instant, simply verifies what I already know but am struggling to understand. Almost like the universe is constantly handing me clues to who I am and what's true for me in any moment I just have to choose to be at attention with it. The profoundness of the universe and my own depth as a human comes almost silently - quietly and softly inviting me to question what I thought was true and experience how its not. The giant moment I constantly searching for instead comes as a series of soft questioning that points me in a direction giving me opportunity to explore, reflect and ultimately choose what's true for me.

Perhaps trusting my ability to work hard is not the most embracing strategy for me as a writer, or even as an evolving being. Perhaps having some faith in my ability to simply be can open my eyes to all the magical and perception shifting moments happening all day long that don’t require I suit up for a life long quest to find.

Aug 2, 2010

If I Had A Million Dollars

I heard this Bare Naked Ladies song on the radio the other day and I got to wondering, if I had a million dollars what would I spend it on? After I paid bills and debts of course, what would I do with the money? Would it make my life better and what am I not allowing myself that I really want because I think I can't afford it? Are there places in my life where I'm holding myself back, things I think I can't do because of the cash? And are there things I would give up because I would then not have to worry about money? I decided to sit down and make a list, like a budget, and explore what $1,000,000 would cover.

It turned out to be a basic laundry off car, buy new one, pay off other debts including the ever present student loan, and do a few basic things that I can't quite make ok to spend on right now like join a gym and sign up for more writing classes. But through the process I realized some important things. I have let myself be defined by money for as long as I can remember. Defined by how much I had in cash, how much I had in the bank, if I was able to buy a house or a car or get a loan, or a million other things we do every day. I've even been to the place of not leaving the house on a day off because I couldn't afford to put the extra gas in the car. I've let it define my world, tell me who I am and who I'm not and keep me attached to what I don't want.

What I realized is that yes, paying off the car and other bills is important but it's more important to stop putting off what I want for a day when I know unequivocally I can do it. I don't want to be defined by what I think I don't have anymore. So, I'm making plans for a trip to the beach that I've so been longing to take and I'm signing up for that one day poetry workshop this weekend, taking a day to define myself through poetry...any maybe I'll keep my eyes open for the million dollars along the way.

Echoes Across The Blue Ridge

Echoes Across The Blue Ridge Stories, essays and poems by writers living in and inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains, published by Winding Path Publishing, is available for purchase at only $16.00. I am honored to be a part of this beautiful anthology. Books are available at and the following independent bookstores. Get your copy today!

City Lights Books, Sylva
Curiosity Books in Murphy, NC
Phillips and Lloyd Books in Hayesville, NC
Books Unlimited, Franklin, NC
Book Nook, Blairsville, GA
Blue Ridge Books, Waynesville, NC
Malaprop's bookstore in Asheville, NC
Twice Upon A Time in Murphy, NC
Highlands Books, Brevard, NC
Fountainhead Book Store, Hendersonville,NC

The big publication party will be held at
City Lights Book Store,
Sylva, North Carolina,
August 8, 2010, 5:00 pm.

Mar 25, 2010

New Poetry

I Told You So
by StarShield Lortie

i told you when we started this
i wouldn't be able to finish
i'm not pretty or smart enough
or have the right skills.

I told you it would all fall apart
and there would be nothing left
but a pile of bitter dusty ashes
scattering on the wind.

i told you i wasn't strong enough
that these things you call appendages
make no sense to me
and all i would do is fail.

i told you the best i could give you
is the middle of the road
that i would just stop trying
lie down and give up.

and here we are
smack in the middle
and all i have left is
i told you so.

I never said
you would know left from right
only that direction would be revealed
and here you are.

I never said there would be an end,
a stopping place or destination,
only that the journey unfolds
presently before you.

I never doubted
your ability to move,
to lean forward and make a choice,
and embrace the knowledge along the way.

I never questioned the strength of you
or your desire to reach for the truth
as it illuminates each moment
fully in front of you.

And I gave you the most magical gift
what you call giving up
to teach you the how
of letting go.

Lie down on the soft earth
clover thick between your bare toes
and unfurl yourself beyond
I told you so.

Jan 30, 2010

Echoes Across The Blue Ridge

Keep your eyes peeled for this upcoming anthology due out this spring! I am one of the authors included in the volume with an essay titled "A Walk In The Dark".

Get more info at the NCNW West's blog
NetWest Mountain Writers and Poets
or from anthology editor Nancy Simpson's blog
Living Above The Frost Line

Giving Over

"Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your moments.” - Rumi, from The One This You Must Do.

I sat down today to read from this book of poetry as I was cleaning my house. The depth of this passage touched me deeply. I recognize this is what I want the most and am the most afraid of. But I want it more that the fear can distract me. And I am moved to tears. Although I do not think I have spent my life in service of others, I am not married and have no children, I certainly have given my life to my fear and pain. Given the very life of me to that which bleeds me and leaves me lying in a ball on the floor too worn out to move. I have given almost all of me away to that very thing that murders me. Yet the pain of all that I have given up has kept me stuck, repeating the same patterns over and over.

I want to give my life over to the one, knowing that “one” is not outside of me but in me, is the very me I see in the mirror each morning. That “one” is the very breath and this very moment of me. I want to surrender my life to my spirit knowing that each step I take is simply a response. I no longer have to figure it all out , figure out how this or that is going to happen, how I am going to pay this months bills or wonder, as I step out my door at any moment, if what I am presenting is real.

If I give my life over, if I take my authority back, and really own all that is me what am I really giving up? Pain? Grief? Uncertainty? I can actually let go of the act, let go of the show, and be the truth of me that I was sent here to be. I can actualy get done what I came here to do. I can stop lying to myself and the world at large and maybe, just maybe, find something I lost long ago....Me.

Jan 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

What I've dis-covered this last year is just now forming in my awareness as something I've known all along. I love to write. Yet somehow I seem to run away from it faster than towards this thing that feeds me and loves me the way nothing else does. What I'm learning the hard way is that the running is killing me faster than if I just gave in and lived the life that I'm longing to live. I think I may finally be getting to the point where it's not killing me softly anymore. It's now a matter of survival that I write and continue writing because this is the thing that will create Me instead of me creating it.

As much as I've been living in "survival mode" the last 2 1/2 years - doing whatever I can to make money to put food on the table and gas in the car - what I'm coming to realize is that doing what I love is becoming a matter of survival, spiritual survival. I lived for a long time out of touch with who I am. Simply surviving, doing what I'm supposed to do, doing what I'm told to do and not feeling anything that floated outside of nefarious discontentment to anger. I've grown and learned how to feel again and know that there is a whole world out there to explore and writing is what has gotten me here. And now, as I step into this new year, new decade, and new place in myself, I know that in order for me to not only survive but thrive I must meet this creative process in myself head on. Face it fully, see it, embrace it and claim it. And love it for it's ability to love me fully and without prejudice.

I stumbled upon this place the other day while doing some journaling. I sat with the intent to write about my day, what I was working on and working through, what I was worrying about and how to get from this moment to the next. I picked up the pen and began to write and soon I realized that all the things that I worry about all day long, all the things that I think I'm doing wrong and what I'm lacking just weren't there. None of it existed at the place where my pen landed on the page. All of that was just gibberish working to distract me. And what flowed out from there brought me back to knowing that I must stop running.

"I put pen to paper and I am who I am meant to be. I am Me, right here in black and white, right here on this page. There's no telling what will come out and how I will be loved as the pen guides smoothly from left to right. Somehow, with pen in hand, I am the me I am eternally yearning to be. It is a relationship that ironically I have a hard time putting into words. It is elusive and strong and love itself. The very string of brush strokes simplified to a place of honor. Movements & revelations sometimes hard to understand and sometimes only available in one moment and not the next. This relationship as elusive as it can seem to be is really a life blood for me. It holds me and talks to me and asks me to reveal myself through it all the time. It is my expression of me that transcends what is supposed to be. It is my art, my creation, my expression of my creations that I am, and all of these at once. It is nothing more that the Me I so desperately want to be. It is the sands in the hourglass and the hourglass itself. It is all of me. It is the facets and the feelings of me and all the joy in between. My life makes sense here on the page, pen gliding across. The words may be imprecise and at times uninspired but here, right here, I make sense to me and that is really all that matters." -Journal Entry

The only resolution I can make with clear determination is that I will pursue my writing. No matter what it looks like or if any other person alive gets it. It's what I must do for myself, it is what creates me, it is what moves me forward. So here's to a year of stepping out of my own comfort zone and living a life of uncomfortable greatness, where I can breathe again.

Happy New Year!