Category Archives: garden

Springtime

IMG_5239Spring shadows and first lilies.
The nuthatches have nested in the bluebird box and
the cool weather will soon be gone.
Just not quite yet.

 

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Camille’s Birthday

Journal Entry
February 19, 2014

Camille’s Birthday

Oh, what a joy it is, to have a daughter!
Oh, how I can remember EXACTLY
what it was like when she was born —
the entire birth process, from waking up at 3 a.m.
when I felt the contractions start
to driving to the hospital
(and stopping for video camera cartridges)
and how the bumps in the road
triggered more contractions,
and standing in the bathroom
alone feeling a little sorry for myself,
knowing the pain that was coming,
to sitting in my bed
to try to manage my contractions
(dumb; I worked so hard at it that
I actually slowed down the birth process,

which Jack later pointed out),
to fussing at him for making noises
like crackling the newspaper and
squeaking his shoes on the floor,
to him feeding me ice chips from a styrofoam cup
to almost throwing up

from the pain and holding on to him
and then standing up and pushing with him
for three entire hours! and then seeing the crown
of her head in the mirror and summoning
the last of my strength
to push push push so they would not have to
grab her head with the suction cup
and then finally, finally out she came,
that beautiful rose-colored baby 8 pounds 9 ounces
I will never forget
and her will her indomitable will
as she lustily cried her lungs out while the poor nurses
tried to clean her up and ink her foot for a footprint,
and then wrapped in my arms again, tight
in a cotton blanket with a knit cap
in baby colors against our red and blue pillow case
behind me as I looked down at her
feeling absolutely triumphant
and Jack was outside crying
and then we were back again together
showing her off to family but
I never once never even once thought of
letting anyone else hold her
and then finally the next day my mother came
and she held her in her lap
and unwrapped the blankets so she could see
her perfect little body with her strawberry mark
on her shoulder and the dark, dark hair
covering her head, and Jack’s face
inches from hers adoring her
and we were so, so happy.

Camille Rose Guidry
February 19, 1995
9:19 p.m.
Touro Infirmary
New Orleans, Louisiana

photo

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Poem about last night

IMG_4274

They arrived in the dark.
I’d lit candles all around the house,
except on the big table. Waiting.

Wrapped in colorful coats, holding
purses and journals and expectations,
they alighted on my doorstep.

Bird by bird.

I embraced them all,
even the strangers.

They circled around the kitchen
counter, got their drinks, and
pecked at the snacks.

Names were exchanged,
connections were made,
compliments were shared.

No one questioned why I had
a Jane Austen ball gown hanging
on my pantry door. (until later)

Then we gathered in the circle,
and breathed our collective breath.

Inhale.
Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale.

The pens, and one pencil, emerged.
Some timidly, some boldly,
to scribe their words.

They were heard.
Names were dropped into the circle, like seeds.
Words, intentions, hopes and dreams were shared.
The candle flickered, and held their secrets.

They left in a flurry of jangling car keys,
re-wrapped grace scarves and last-minute questions,
and returned to the darkness from which they came.

But perhaps each carried, in their
hearts, the lit candle, a bit of warmth,
a sip of the sacred.

I cleaned up the kitchen,
went to bed, and closed my eyes.
When I opened them again, this time really opened them,
there they were, the birds, on the feeder.
Waiting for more.

Here.
In the garden.

IMG_4275

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The Bluebirds Came to Visit Me Today

The bluebirds came to visit me today.  I stepped outside this morning, onto the front porch, and heard their burbling call before I saw them. The male was perched on a feeder, the female was flying around the nest box. They stopped briefly to take a look at me.

IMG_4244Hello, Dear Ones!
Happy New Year!

Their coats are dusty blue, shaded by winter, but still lovely to see.  The male, perhaps conscious of my appreciation, shyly showed his back to me, then, with a quick hop, displayed his dusty red breast on the other side.

The brilliant red of a jaunty cardinal on another feeder provided a sharp contrast. He was lovely against the dull winter browns outside, even here in green Florida. Then the crisp black cap of the chickadee was revealed as she landed on the feeder, chased off again by a scolding tufted titmouse dressed in sharp grays and warm browns.  I fell in love with the tawny stripe under his wing, so vulnerable against the creamy white of his belly.

As I returned to my chair in the living room, I saw that no birds were paying attention to the feeder in the backyard. That’s OK.  I was cheered by the bright tangerine orange of my new cushions on the garden furniture, a treat to myself for Christmas.

So. A new year begins. I am filled with fresh ideas, dreams and plans, as exciting as tangerine orange, but still in development, like the blue on the back of the winter bluebird.

I can wait.
And hope.
And dream.

Anticipating the gifts of the year, like the sudden flash of colorful birds, landing on a feeder.

Here.
In the garden.

p.s. Photo is my slightly edited version of  the latest cover of Bluebird Magazine, which I subscribe to as a member of the North American Bluebird Society. 

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The Happiness Project, Revisited

As I await winter solstice, the nights are long, and the days are short.  This is a variation of Gretchen Rubin’s truism: “The days are long, but the years are short.”

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I will remember these years, of getting the children off to school.  These high school years, when I did it on my own.  Anchored by my chair, and my journal, I have been present for them, preparing breakfast, helping to find socks, watching the time; all the while, they grew up.

I’ve been waiting to see if Matt would get up, without me reminding him again. Waiting to see if Camille made it out on time, so I wouldn’t have to threaten to drive her to school myself the next day. Waiting to see if the birds would come to rest at the bird feeder in line of sight from my chair; I pause to check them out as I write.

This morning, three cardinals came to rest on the iron table under the feeder — a bright red male, a juvenile in dull browns, and a female. How long will they stay?  I wait to see.

Sitting in this circle of light, I am glad to have been Here, Now, available to my children, and my own self, as we each face the day.

Seasons pass.
Years pass.
Eras pass.

Soon, I will not have any children left to rouse, and the mornings will be different.  But today, I’ll be grateful, for the flash of red, for the circle of light, for the honey toast crusts left on the Matthew’s plate.  All the joys, the simple joys, of being Here, Now, in this moment, in winter’s light.

“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground, ” says Rumi.

Here.
In the garden.

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The Chapel

Thank you, Divine Mother, for my beautiful chapel, for my red bench pew, for my pine tree altar, as I am attended by the soul birds around me.  (Is it an accident that angels are depicted with wings?)

Sitting on my red pew, drinking my rich brown, morning coffee in the flowered chalice offered by my daughter, I am at one with the Divine, the Good Earth, the way of peace.

IMG_1557The tiny kinglet darts back and forth above my head, playing in the dusty green leaves of Florida’s fall.  The red-capped chipping sparrow eats peacefully at the feeders, unperturbed by my presence.  And far off, the winter-brown bluebird sings, his voice, at least, not camouflaged by the long nights and short days before winter solstice.

Back inside, I light the candle on the piano altar, and two other candles around the room, warming this “inside chapel” of my living room with spirit light.  Gently, my fingers touch the two feathers next to the Tibetan bell, a tiny bluebird feather, a richly colored cardinal feather.

And I smile with the joy of waking up, waking up to the pleasures of the spiritual life, of the clarion call, of the golden circle, of the blank pages of the day.

To love morning.
This is to be alive.

Here.
In the garden.

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Women Writing for (a) Change: Why Here, Why Now

IMG_1188Tonight at dinner, when I mentioned the Divine Mother during a prayer, my son said, wryly, “So, it’s all about female gods for you now, is it?”

We then proceeded to have a very interesting conversation about Greek mythology — which he loves — and the origins of the female goddesses, then the shift to patriarchal models. He thought that perhaps this evolution was due to men’s superior physical strength.

I explained that the first figures worshipped and represented in cave drawings were women, because of their mysterious capacity to create new life. We then traced the evolution of that worship (for various reasons) from woman as Goddess to woman as property, given the right to vote in the United States just a short time ago.

“Did you know,” he said, rather seriously, “that in some countries today it’s forbidden for women to even speak in the presence of men?”

As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.

A few years back, I started a blog called “One Brave Voice.” I wanted to express my feelings about politics at that time. The blog was short-lived; it quickly devolved into an argument with one particular person.

Maybe, my sister said to me afterward (a bit thoughtfully), maybe the blog was just your own still, small voice, trying to get your attention.

Hmmm.

After my marriage dissolved, I found my voice in the pages of my journal. I wrote, constantly, and the clean white pages were a container for my grief as well as my growth. Over time, the pages changed from dark lines of dense black ink to colorful, looping letters inside journals covered with birds, flowers, and butterflies. Each page was an opening into my own soul, my interior acre, my spiritual garden.

My journal listened to my inner voice, cultivated it, and nurtured it.

IMG_0670Last spring, I went on a field trip with my daughter. She’s an intelligent, lovely person and a budding biologist. As we ate lunch, I overheard the woman next to me, a biology teacher, talking about how, on another school field trip, she had directed two young girls to read some scripture out loud. She went on to say that her son had gotten up and walked away, and, when she had asked him where he was going, he reminded her that their church teaches that women cannot be spiritual leaders.

“What? I asked, incredulously.

“Oh, yes,” she said, blithely. “It’s true. It says that in the Bible. In Timothy.”

I could not believe my ears. Here was this woman, a teacher herself, actually defending this position, in today’s day and age. The message for me was, my daughter was not the equal of her son. That her voice was not as valuable as his.

I was outraged.


This summer, I studied Conscious Feminine leadership at the Women Writing for (a) Change school, founded in Cincinnati 20 years ago www.WomenWriting.org. After three weeks, I knew that opening an affiliate site in Jacksonville was my next step.

I don’t want to argue about politics.
I don’t want to argue about religion.

What I do want to do is create a space in Jacksonville for any woman, young or old, to feel welcome, honored and listened to, through the medium of writing and creative self-expression. It will be women writing for (a) change. And someone will be listening.

I live my life by several quotes these days. One is:

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when?” (Hillel)

The other is,

“I will do what I can,
where I am,
with what I have.”
(Theodore Roosevelt)


wwfc-logo-box-final2Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, is simply the place where I am called. It’s where my “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” as Frederick Buechner said.

Please join me in the WWf(a)C mission: To nurture and celebrate the individual voice by facilitating supportive writing circles and by encouraging people to craft more conscious lives through the art of writing and the practices of community.

You can support this community in several ways: 1) SIGN UP today for the sampler series starting Oct. 9 at Re-Threaded; 2) HOLD THE SPACE if you can’t attend but would like to sponsor another woman from Re-Threaded’s staff to attend in your place; or 3) FORWARD this email to someone you know who would value this experience.

This event is a fund-raiser for Re-Threaded, which provides safe, viable, and dignity-giving work to survivors of the sex trade: www.rethreaded.com. I share the values of this organization, and want to support it as best I can. My goal is to raise $1,000 with this effort.

All the details are on my website: www.WomenWritingJacksonville.com. Thank you for listening and for your support. Even if all you do is simply hold the space for this dream to come to fruition, I would be most grateful.

Here.
In the garden called, Women Writing for (a) Change.

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The mama bluebird nestles

In the photograph, the mama bluebird nestles into the nest box.

Beauty, is my first thought.
How lovely she is!
Large, black eyes.
Beautifully aligned beak.
Her perfectly symmetrical head,
covered with the light and the dark.

Blue feathers.
Purple nest.
Brown wing tips.
Small, round opening from behind allows the light.

a143b0682ae811e3bc2222000a1f98f9_5I remember watching her build this nest on the “bird cam” we set up.  At first, she collected bits of the long, pine straw needles and laid them in the bottom of the box.  Eventually, she would hop into the box, lay dawn a straw, then twist and turn her little body, her tiny claws scratching an opening that was softened by the curve of her breast.

Over and over, she entered, nestled, and flew out again. It seemed a bit of an invasion of her privacy, but I hoped for her forgiveness.  I was learning so much, about how to build a nest, how to make a circle.

The nest box squared the circle.  Inside the edges, a universe opened up. And in this cosmos, the bottom of the nest, the chalice, the darkness, the center, the circle…she laid an egg.  And then another. And another. And another. Each sky blue oval was another universe, the infinity of the possibility of creation, the yoke inside — the golden circle — a place of infinite growth.

It was a lovely process to watch.

The first time I saw her enter the nest box, I hollered for the kids. ‟She’s in there, she’s in there!” I called.  They came running.  And when  first egg appeared, they were both thrilled.  (At least, that’s the way this mama bluebird chooses to remember it.)

To find my center,
I scratch with my feet a little,
and hunker down,
and rub my chest into the rough spots,
smoothing them with my love,
my patience,
my faith in the miracle of the circle.
A miracle of holiness.
A miracle of wholeness.

Here.
In the garden.

— from a journaling prompt, to describe a photograph, at the Women’s Circles, Women’s Stories writing retreat at the Center for Journal Therapy, Denver, CO, July 18, 2013

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Fall Equinox: I am a Leaf

Today is the day when the night and the day are split equally — a perfect balance of dark and light. Masculine and feminine energies, creative incubation and beautiful manifestation.

Balance.

During this time of year, of course, the chlorophyll in leaves fades, taking the green with it.  Therefore, the “true colors” of the leaves begin to emerge, in rich earthy tones of red, brown, orange and yellow.  Even here in Florida.

As I’ve come into a more natural balance these past few years, I’ve been able to learn a bit more about my own true colors.

I am a leaf.
I have an edge.
An outline.
A skin.

A particular shape, held by that skin.
Hemmed in by that edge.
 
I am a container, and I am contained.
A unique chemical mixture.

Changing with the changed.


Friday morning, my son caught a ride to school with a friend.  Could this be, after all these years, the end of an era of me driving him to school? If so, what will I do with this opening, this change in the composition of my day?

Already, my heart aches a little, thinking about it — even though I am cautiously optimistic about this being a good thing.  For example, he’s a lot more motivated to get up on time!  He actually got to school four minutes early (as opposed to four minutes late, our usual pattern.)

IMG_2538So there are other questions: As I enter the fall of my life, the harvest season, what true colors will be revealed? How will I let go, like a leaf, and fall, in this era of post child-bearing years?

I would like to fall gracefully, beautifully, having served a worthy, life-giving purpose: to have nurtured my own beautiful children and allowed them to learn their own true colors.

Not that I’m ready to give it all up quite yet!  I do have the next 40 years of my life (at least!) to better learn my own true nature, and to watch, to wait, and see how my children’s colors will emerge.

Last night, at 2:02 a.m., my daughter texted me from college: “I love you Mom.” As my son left Friday, he turned and gave me a quick, kind glance. I am grateful, very grateful, today, to have two such lovely children, who are learning about themselves and what they truly value, in a loving, balanced, and kind way.

As am I.

Here.
In the garden.

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Digging In The Dirt

Just for fun, here’s an interview with me that my colleague and friend, Jean Rowe, wrote for The Center for Journal Therapy last fall.  Some good dirt on me!  (Jean is the Program Manager and Oncology Certified Social Worker at Young Survival Coalition in Atlanta, and leads journaling workshops for young survivors.)

What is your relationship between actual gardening and journaling?

My garden is both a metaphor for my life and a literal experience, where I can connect with myself and the earth. In my journal, I write about both experiences. In the process, I learn a lot, about myself and about the world. Plus, I often write IN the garden. I have a bench in my front yard, tucked under a tree and near my bluebird nest box, and it is a delightful spot to journal in the early morning, among the birds and flowers.

What have your harvested from the garden that is your journal?

Stability. It’s an anchor, a root system, one that keeps me grounded. I write in my journal every morning, without fail, and often throughout the day. It’s how I find out what’s going on with me, how I process the events of my life, and connect with my spiritual self. These are all activities I did not do very well until recently.

Here’s the link for the rest of the article: http://twinstitute.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/C4JT-E-Zine-Autumn-2012-smaller.pdf

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