Endings and Beginnings

One of my managers asked me the other day what are some of the differences between my old job as a teacher and my new job as a crew member at Trader Joe’s.  I stared at her for a little too long, bags of salad in my hand and boxes at my feet. My brow furrowed into a questioning look.  I searched for the right words that wouldn’t come out as smarmy or cliched.  Nothing is the same.  And that’s the whole reason I’m here.  It is like comparing apples to oranges (oops, I used a cliche).  Except I never received the round, shiny apple from an overly enthusiastic student hungry for knowledge at the beginning of a beautiful school day and the oranges here are in bags, stacked neatly in a bin waiting to be grabbed by hungry, overly enthusiastic customers.

I gave her some lame answers about not having to think, plan, or scheme ahead and deal with any teenage drama or angry parents.  I mentioned how nice it is to not have to think about work or take anything home with me nor work late hours at home to get ready for the next day.  She smiled.  She is kind.  She was reaching out to me and trying to connect with me and build rapport.  I was grateful for her attempt, but I had to fight back tears in the middle of the produce aisle.

The rest of that day I was a bit rattled.  I heard myself telling customer after customer that I “used to be a high school English teacher” whenever I was engaging in small talk and sharing the reason why I moved out here three months ago.  I couldn’t give myself a new title of “writer” or any other creative moniker that distanced me from what I used to be.  I haven’t fully untangled my mind from identifying as a high school teacher.  I have not accepted that part of me is dead.  Grief is settling in and it is manifesting in awkward places like when I am ringing up customers, eating my salad in the break room, or dipping up soup and slices of grilled cheese sandwiches in the demo kitchen.

My workdays are spent in pure physical labor tasks where my body is engaged and developing muscle memory.  My mind is focused solely on the task at hand.  It is only when I am prompted by a coworker to talk about my old job that I begin to let some of the old memories materialize into hazy mental images that have been tucked away in some hidden corner of my mind.  I am surprised by how little memory I have of teaching after 18 years of the career.  It worries me.  I question if I have completely erased that part of my life.  On break, I check my phone and see that I have two emails from former exchange students who are back in their home countries.  They ask how school is going for me.  They do not know what my new life is like, and they still have me locked in their memory as their English teacher who shared with them her passion for American literature and writing.  Somewhere across the globe and in small pockets of the United States are young people who know me as only “Ms. Hoelscher” and either love me or hate me or remember to put a comma or a period in a certain place when writing an email because of my attention to grammar on their essays.  I was once a high school English teacher.  But what am I now that I have no one sitting in a classroom with me for fifty five minutes a day, five days a week for 180 days out of the year?

One afternoon, a coworker grabbed my box cutter out of my hand while I was stocking shelves and began to chastise me by saying, “Never, ever, ever. . .” Then she realized my safety was on and that I am left handed and have a left handed box cutter so my actions look “off” to her.  I stood there and smiled and listened to her apologize as she handed me back my cutter.  I went back to work knowing she was just trying to give me a veteran tip and help me adjust to my new job.  A few minutes later, however, tears pooled up in the corners of my eyes and a sense of embarrassment and shame flooded over me.  I wondered if this is how my students felt whenever I was harsh with them.

Another day I gave a break to a coworker who was working the demo kitchen area.  She is very good at her job and did a great job training me on how to run a smooth kitchen the week before.  She worried that I would be too overwhelmed for the 10 minutes she needed to use the restroom and eat a snack.  I listened as she fussed and  went over the small details on how to ladle the soup into the cup and put the grilled cheese slice on the plate.  I nodded and smiled as she reminded me to fill up the cider sample cups and be friendly to customers.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was an easy job in comparison to dealing with 100 teenagers a day, tolerating the loud noise in the hallways before and after school and during passing periods,working 12 hour days, mentoring emotionally conflicted students, calling parents and taking work home, staying after school for an extracurricular assignment, grabbing copies out of the run down copy machine while grabbing a snack, peeing before the five minute bell was up, answering random questions in the hallway, rushing to the classroom and beginning my lesson, and also managing bad behaviors and technical difficulties while still managing to teach a complex lesson on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper” in under 55 minutes.  I can handle 10 minutes of ladling soup into a disposable cup, placing a piece of grilled cheese on a paper plate, and smiling at customers as they wait patiently for free food.

Thankfully, I have moved away from feeling shell-shocked and fearful on a regular basis like I did in late July and early August.  I am only now coming to terms with the fact that my old life is dead and gone and will never return to me.  Pain is settling in and manifesting in places like my neck, jaw, shoulders, and upper arms.  I’m sure the lifting of heavy boxes and scanning and bagging people’s groceries are the physical cause of this outer layer of pain.  Whenever I find myself talking about my former life or reliving memories (good and bad), I feel my body shifting to this protective mode so I don’t start crying while I sweep up spilled tomatoes and onion skins off the floor around the vegetable and fruit bins.

I realized that my attachment to my old identity was a way to protect myself from feeling lost in this new skin I am starting to grow.  I have no idea what to call myself when people outside of work ask me what I do.  And I find myself feeling sad when customers find out I’ve lived here only 3 months and ask what did I do before I came here.  I am stuck.  Am I a writer?  Am I a former English teacher who is on sabbatical?  Am I a yoga teacher?  Am I an artist/creative person?  Am I a crew member at Trader Joe’s?  Am I a dead beat (as one customer asked one of my managers when they asked about his former life)?  Who am I?  Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  All of these questions swirl around me as I walk my dog down Weaverville’s Main Street or scan a box of Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s and cauliflower rice and cases of wine.

img_3060On Halloween, we were encouraged to dress up for work.  I didn’t have a costume until the last minute when I decided it would be fun to follow the traditions of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and use humor and love to commemorate my old self.  I dressed up as a zombie English teacher, complete with a bruised apple, composition notebook, and a Great Gatsby bag as accessories.  I let her come out and play and be seen.  I remembered her and remembered how good she was at her job.  How she created solid and creative lesson plans and adjusted them according to her students’ various levels and needs.  How she listened as a student came to her crying about her boyfriend and her fears of becoming pregnant.  How she was yelled at numerous times by frustrated students and angry parents and stood her ground and took the verbals hits and then went home and licked her wounds and ate ice cream in front of the TV.  I remembered how she once farted in front of a class of 30 sophomores and ran out of the room straight to the restroom to discover she had food poisoning from the Mexican restaurant she ate at the night before.  Then, she came back to class and taught like nothing had happened and finished her day running to the restroom between the five minute bell periods.

I loved her.  I still do.  I am just not her anymore.

The next day, I decided to put her to rest and give her a beautiful ceremony up in the mountains in a tiny alcove of rhododendrons and Mountain Ash berries. I had bought a bouquet of marigolds, sunflowers, rosemary sprigs, and yellow and purple flowers.  I brought it with me on my drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Craggy Gardens, an elevation of over 5,000 feet.

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In front of me was a semi-private dead end trail, no more than 20 feet away from the parking lot.  There was a circular clearing.  I spread out the flowers in a mandala.  I said a prayer and thanked Ms. English Teacher for all the years of protection and lessons learned along the way. I sat down and closed my eyes and silently asked myself, “What needs to die and be released?”  After a few moments, memories that had been stuck inside of me and that I was having troubles recalling, came flooding forth in a stream of chronological order:  from my first days as a student teacher, to my first year as a teacher with her own classroom at a local junior high school, all the way to the old Belleville West campus to the new one right up to the day of my last goodbyes.  It was like watching a slide show or a movie where my life flashed before me.

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I would gladly share all of those memories, but they are enough to write a book.  And who knows?  Maybe one day I will.  The more important thing is that a wave of bittersweet memories and a twinge of melancholy flooded through my mind and body and came out in the form of silent tears.  I cried so much that my lungs heaved and snot dripped out of my nose.  I wiped away the tears (and the snot. . .sorry grass) and inhaled deeply and exhaled out of my mouth while my chest shook.  Something inside of me had broken and released and all of that tension and pain I had felt for weeks in my jaw, arms, shoulders, neck, and chest dissipated.  I could finally breathe in the fresh mountain air and I took it in small gasps until I finally settled into a steady and calm rhythm.

I wiped away a few more tears, straightened my spine, and then asked myself, “What needs to be born inside of me?”  Hints of the creative self and the written word came to me.  Time in nature and a deep connection to the trees, plants, animals of my youth and the ones in front of me swirled around me.  Some sense of teaching and communicating through creativity and movement flowed through my mind and body.  Yet, no real answers came.  Momentarily I tried to plot out my future, and that’s when the tension started to arise again in my body.  I shook my head and settled back into my hips and legs that were connected to the earth.  No need to know right now.

The next day, I went to my small writing critique group and got excruciatingly honest reviews of a piece of fiction I’m trying to write.  I sat there and listened to the necessary feedback where I have gaps in point of view, too much telling and not enough showing of what the characters are going through, and awkward sentences that take the reader out of the moment (just to name a few critiques).  I listened graciously and accepted the feedback (I mean, I did ask for it).  I left not feeling defeated, but definitely feeling wounded.  This is what it feels like to show off new skin that hasn’t fully formed yet, I thought as I drove back to my apartment.

It was way too soon to show that piece of work or let alone claim myself as solely a writer when I haven’t had enough time to work on old skills and talents that have been dormant for at least 18 years of my adult life.  I am capable of teaching what makes a good story, but I’ve never really had time or gave myself a chance to write one.  Besides, why only limit my skills to writing?  I think I have a lot more creativity inside than just pushing myself to become a published writer and calling myself a “success” so as to justify why I left a comfortable life (even though that life felt like a tight, itchy sweater).  I now have time to flex my creative muscles.  I have a job that allows me to work my body and calm my mind.  One in which as soon as I walk out of the doors I don’t have to think about until I walk back in those doors.  I have money from the sale of my house and backup money from investments I made outside of the Teacher’s Retirement System.  For now, I am O.K., and I don’t have to put a label on myself at all.  And that is O.K. too.

I am like a baby giraffe on roller skates.

One day I will be something else.  But for now, the transition can be awkward, messy, funny, strange, sad, scary, and down right mystifying and magical.

I’m working with what the Transcendentalists and Romantics call “mystery”.  As Emerson once wrote, “What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters to what lies within us.  And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”

It is now a matter of exploring what lies within.

 

Asheville Time

I clock in to my job at Trader Joe’s and I begin my training by shadowing a seasoned worker for the entire 8 hour shift.  I have learned much in 7 days.   I stock product on the shelf and I talk to customers and help them find items.  I barely know the products we sell and I rarely know where they are located.  I figure it out anyway and I get lots of help from my very cool and friendly co-workers.  Last night, I learned how to use the cardboard baler (a task that if done improperly could maim you) and I loaded up the cookie and snack aisles for about 4 hours non-stop.  I worked second shift last week.  This week, I will work the early morning shifts and learn how to run the cash register and all the detailed tasks that go along with this particular job.

I have been spending my shifts with predominantly men and listen to them announce their “bro love” in words that consist of “dude,” “fuck,” “asshole,” and other creative cursing phrases that are said in jest. This is genuine locker room talk that has no malice or perversion to it whatsoever.  They punch each other in the arm, steal the box cutters off each other’s hip holsters, or give each other high fives in passing.  One morning, I came in at 6:30 to help stock shelves before the mandatory store meeting at 7.  A guy next to me, who is a profound meditator and wears mala beads and talks about listening to Tibetan singing bowls as he does his chores around his house, dropped a head of lettuce on the floor and got upset with himself.  His friend nearby picked it up for him and then twisted his nipple and cajoled him before moving on to his task.  My work mate laughed and said, “Thanks, dude.  Sometimes I can be such a vagina-whacker.”  I laughed and he noticed me and blushed.  He apologized profusely and I told him we were cool.  “Aw, dude, thanks,” he said and then asked me about my yoga practice and gave me tips on how to better my meditation practice.

All the guys now call me “dude,” and they have started pulling out my box cutter from my hip holster, giving me high fives in passing, and cursing like sailors in front of me.  Towards the end of the night, one trainer and I stocked wine bottles and talked like hillbillies as we searched for the “pea-nut no-ear” and “Shar-don-ay.”  Another guy nearby took down his man bun and started metal thrasing in the middle of the aisle to the rockin’ 80s tune blaring from the speakers.  Heavy metal hair guy later gave me two rules I should follow while working here:  1.) Put Things On The Shelf (P.T.O.T.S.) and 2.) Don’t be a “dick.”  Easy enough.   It is a sweet relief and a welcomed initiation into the realm of happy, good natured male energy.  I am working my body and my mind is at rest.  I can relax and know that as long as I work hard and am nice to customers and my co-workers, I don’t have anything else to worry about.

I had coffee with my friend Randi the other day and we walked past Trader Joe’s to the coffee shop nearby.  I saw two of my coworkers cross the street and my heart swelled.   Their Hawaiian-themed colorful tshirts marked them as members of my new tribe.  There went my new friends who sang their work tasks in the middle of the aisle and smiled at me and laughed when I made a really clever joke.  There was the young woman who talked books and “deep shit” conversations with me in the break room.  Inside that space were managers and crew members probably dancing to the grooves of Chaka Khan and rapping as they sliced open boxes of brown organic rice or singing to Huey Lewis and the News and making up new lyrics as they walked a customer to the frozen food aisle.

These men and women are artists, writers, musicians with mad skills and creative advice.  I have also cultivated friendships with some strong, beautiful women outside of Trader Joe’s who are published authors and teach in either the yoga studio, or local colleges and universities as well.

It has been a blessing to not have to come home and worry about grading papers or writing lesson plans.  I don’t have to solve people’s problems and I don’t have to handle bad behavior or manage up to 30 teenagers (and sometimes their parents and the administrators and random students in the hallway) every hour, every day, five days a week.  The “Sunday Dreads” that used to fill me with anxiety of the upcoming week are beginning to fade away from my consciousness.  I am in the process of divorcing myself from my old self in which I had married myself to my job and my duties and sense of profound responsibility and mentorship.

I am working on releasing myself from old baggage and bondage and stuck-in-the-groove recordings of negative thoughts I use to tell myself about who I believe I am.  I am shifting away from identifying as a former high school English teacher and I am giving myself permission to tell people I am a writer.

The pace of living here is much slower and laid back than I am used to.  About three weeks ago, my friend Alex and I drove up Lonesome Mountain Road.  It is about twenty minutes away from here and is filled with twists and two tight hairpin turns.  We were going to have dinner with my former neighbor, Darby, and his buddy Leigh.  Leigh built a treehouse on the edge of a trout pond and Darby is living there while he searches for land and a home to buy.  The treehouse is a compilation of dreamed up ideas and ecologically sound ideals, and it is riddled with piles of used lumber, old tools, and a compost toilet nearby (i.e., a “poop in the woods” hole in the ground that is covered behind a tattered tarp).  We arrived an hour later than planned and Darby was still grilling the meat and sweet potatoes and yams.  Leigh asked for us to gather around for an offering before the evening began.  He passed around a roach clip with his best marijuana rolled tightly into a joint.  Darby and I stepped out as everyone else partook in the ritual.

img_2734I walked down the edge of the gravel road and admired the beauty of the place.  Here before me were wildflowers and marigolds rich in abundance and color.  No streetlights were around and the setting sun was beginning to dip below the tree line.   My dog raced with someone else’s golden retriever.  Both became muddy and exhausted on their foray around the property.  Leigh, Beth, Ron, and Barbara all walked down to the pond to harvest water lettuce and other vegetables and greens from Leigh’s garden.  Darby bustled around the tiny space.  He lit the stove’s pilot light and cursed when the flames shot up and wrapped around the cast iron skillet.  He popped back outside to check on the grill while the others were still moseying around the pond, ogling all the wild things in their presence.

I asked where the bathroom was.  Darby pointed to the tent about 50 feet away from the treehouse.  I knew this was the “compost toilet” he had mentioned.  I shook my head and started that way.  Darby has complained numerous times that he can’t bring himself to poop in the woods like a bear.  Although this pooper and makeshift shower has a compostable filtration tube that you have to aim into before it is washed away by the underground water system and filtered through the rocks and sand, Darby says it feels more natural to him to poop in a bag and dispose of it when he goes into town every couple of days.  “It seems more civilized that way,” he told us when the topic got brought up again for the third time that evening.  I hated to tell the man that he was one step away from adult diapers so I marched myself out into the woods, away from the contraption to let myself flow freely with nature.img_2742

When I came back inside, Darby was griping about Leigh’s lack of initiative and unwillingness to thank him for all the work he’s done.  He went on about how he cleans up the place, cooks them breakfast and dinner every day while Leigh smokes another joint.  Once their morning routine and bickering is over, they go outside and work on constructing another out building across from the tree house.  Leigh walked in on Darby’s tirade and smiled at his best friend.  Darby put his arm around him and said, “We bitch at each other, but at the end of the day we just fuckin’ bang it out, don’t we man?”   Leigh shook his head, his curly white locks shaking in front of him.  He patted Darby on the back and sauntered over to the table.  He turned up the Bob Marley song on his computer and shoved a cracker and slice of cheese in his mouth.  All was right with their world.

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Later in the evening, Leigh had us gather around the campfire outside and he did a “two minute” ceremony where he mumbled out his gratitude for all of us being in his home.  His buddy Ron scratched underneath his chin, shaking his white beard that was tied up into a braid.  Ron replied, “Yeah, thanks, man for having us out here.”  We all said our thanks in this ritual while Darby hustled around and offered us our meal of either BBQ chicken or venison and sauteed greens from Leigh’s garden.  We finished the evening with an apple cobbler I made and talked about art and writing.

When we left, my friend pointed up to the night sky.  We stood near my car and looked upward.  The Milky Way was twinkling above us in shimmering dots of yellow and swirls of purple and pink.   I’ve never witnessed anything like it in my life.  The doorway to an infinite realm stretched out above us.  Below was the dirt and the grass and us.  All these elements and more from those stars.

Days and weeks have passed by me at a snail’s pace.  Yet, I also exist in a swirl of creativity and waves of emotion.  I feel more connected to this land and this city now that I am developing a routine and meeting more people.  I still struggle with opening up to that same creativity and emotional surge that is brimming under the surface.  My head tries to work out the logistics of my new lifestyle.  It worries daily about money, bills, connections, schedules, friends and family, and any other scheme or strategy it can lock onto as a way to keep me safe and keep me small.   I try to dance the dance between creative freedom and expression and living practically and sensibly.  I still have this belief that I must accomplish some type of creative project and become successful with it in order to prove to myself and others that I made the right decision to come out here.  I also struggle with this imaginary time line where I believe that I must choose a definitive date to end my sabbatical and have something to show for it before I go back to a “normal life” and a “normal routine”.

My heart, on the other hand, is swelling with emotions and longing to be expressed.

I struggle so much with this desire to be purely creative.    Thankfully, an eight hour shift of putting things on the shelf, bagging groceries, and being nice to people erase all fears and doubts for the day.  After work, I was free to go with a small group of friends to Max Patch bald an hour away.  We hiked up to the Appalachian Trail pass and witnessed a 360 degree view of the mountains and the gradual changing of the leaf colors.  My dog ran in and around us.  We sat in the grass and looked upon the swelling moon that was just beginning its tour of the horizon.  The sun was to our backs and warmed us as the mountain breeze blew over us.  All of us sat in silence, alone with our thoughts.  

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I laid back in the grass and let out a sigh.  These mountains have called me and I have heeded their call.  It is not up to me to work out and carve out a “normal life” that brings me money, success, recognition, or a comfortable pension.  I am to be worked on by the grandmotherly love and ancient energy and medicine of these mountains.  All  those who live in this area or visit here have said the exact same thing.  These mountains heal and offer up gifts to those who are willing to receive.

I rested my head on the tufts of grass behind me and could still see the soft curves of the mountains.  My friend asked me what I was thinking.  I said to him, “I’ve never let myself do anything like this before.”  I honestly don’t know what I meant by those words.  It was the best I could come to expressing that I was healing my old wounds and letting the cool breeze, the mountain landscape, and the pure clean air erase all traces of self-doubt.    Two tears dripped down the sides of my face and landed in the dirt.  I closed my eyes just as my dog jumped over me.  The mountains were working their magic on me.

This is Asheville time.  There is no rhyme or reason or linear way of being.  It is as near to mythical time as I can get.  I must yield and open up to these gifts.  They will come out in their own time and in their own way.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll put on my Chaco sandals and buy a Subaru (the official car of these mountains).  Then I’ll be able to drive to town in style and meet Darby for a cup of coffee after his daily dump.

 

 

A Permission Slip

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I’ve been institutionalized now for 35 years.

It all started when I was sent to kindergarten at the sweet age of 4 1/2 (before the cutoff dates started).  And it has lasted up to this point as a 40 year old adult teaching English at a public high school.  Throughout these 35 years, I have felt at times like I was in a straight jacket – mostly because I chose to be the straight-laced kid who followed the rules, got good grades, did as my teachers and parents asked, and strived to be the best student in the whole entire school, or the state, the country, the world, nay, the universe.  And I put that burden on myself as a teacher, too.

Stirring inside of me, however, was (and still is) a rebellious, free-spirited, creative soul longing for self-expression and connection.  A longing to live sensually.  To touch, taste, smell, see, hear the bounties of the earth and then artistically share the experience with others.  To tap into emotions and open the heart and feel everything as deeply and fully and passionately as possibly and then release it to the universe with gratitude so as to keep experiencing the richness of the inner and outer world.  To tread lightly (and preferably barefoot) on moss covered earth.  To sink into the muddy earth on a hot summer day and let the mud squish and smear all over me.  Then to dip into a cool stream after the sun has baked me and feel the weight of the mud (the weight of the world) slip off of my skin as the water cleanses my body.  To dance like a wild gypsy.  To sing and play like a child.  To laugh like a cackling old crone who then tosses off her cloak to reveal a goddess.  To draw.  To write.  To create.  And to steal from my hero Henry David Thoreau: “. . . to live deep and suck out all the marrow in life.”

Yet, I chose to play it safe.  Forces within me and forces outside of me kept telling me “Not yet” or “You’re creativity and ideas are too much for others to handle.” “You’ll be laughed at.”  “You’ll be taken advantage of.”  “People in our part of the world don’t act or think or talk or dress or express themselves like that.  Hold it in and one day you can release it.”

These safety measures are no longer working for me.

I’m re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear.  The woman doesn’t mince words, and I’m grateful for that.  One of the chapters is titled “Permission” and she mentions how it is our God-given write as human beings to be creative and live in a way that best supports that creativity.  That is our permission slip.  No need for validation.  (By the way, creative living doesn’t only apply to self-proclaimed artists, writers, musicians.  It’s for anyone who wants to march to the beat of their own drum and do what lights them up and follow the threads of their own curiosity.)  She writes about creative entitlement in a positive light:  “Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting like the world owes you anything whatsoever.  No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that -merely by being here- you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”  Now that’s some powerful stuff.  I want in on that.  I’m taking the sentiment of her words as my metaphorical permission slip from the universe to get busy living a life I’ve always imagined.

A good friend told me once that when you free yourself, you free others.  That may be true, but I honestly believe that when you free yourself, when you give yourself permission to be a creative force in the universe and to unearth hidden jewels buried deep inside of you, then your life becomes a playground, a treasure hunt, an epic quest filled with adventure, a life worth living.  If it inspires others, so be it.  But, I’m starting to learn you don’t have to live for other people’s sake.  You don’t truly need permission to tap into who you are at your very core.  You’ve been meant to discover that all along.  This post isn’t about asking for permission from others.  It isn’t even a way to reassure myself (or convince myself) that I am allowed to listen to my inner voice of strength, of intuition, of love. (Ok, maybe it is just a little bit.)  If this post inspires others to begin unlocking hidden doors within themselves and following their path of creative living, then I’m really lucky to have been a part of that.  And finally, this post isn’t about showing how I’m no more or less worthy than any other person.  It’s just my time that’s all.

It’s my time to breathe fully and release what is no longer serving the person I’ve transformed into.  My time to take off the tightly woven, itchy sweater of my life that is constraining and blocking my creative, sensual, earthy, talent-filled flow.  And that’s scary because what I’m saying to the universe is:  “Destroy so I can rebuild.”  The earth is already quaking under my feet and all those inner and outer doubting voices are getting louder in my mind and in my daily encounters.  But, so is the urge to destroy so I can rebuild.

I’ve decided to give myself permission to let it all crumble down, burn up, shape-shift, wash away, dissolve.  For, there really is nothing to be scared of.  (In theory.  In practice I’m still a scaredy-cat some of the time.  But that’s Ok.)  When we pull weeds or cut back old growth in our garden, new and glorious living things arise and flourish.  When we clean out our closets we open more space for new things to come in. When we toss things on the compost pile, organic material later nourishes our flower and vegetable beds.  When blossoms scatter to the winds, fruit ripens and glistens in the sun.

I want to glisten in the sun.

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