Dreams From My Father

My dad came to me several times in the days following his death. Two of those visitations were in dreams.

In the first dream two hummingbirds flew into the enclosed porch where I was sitting with him, the room he spent most of his last 11 months in, recovering from chemo and radiation treatments, and when I put up my hand for them to land on, they instead hovered above it, boring their long, narrow beaks into the space between my first and second knuckles. I writhed with pain, inside, but didn’t flinch, holding still while they…sucked out nectar? Pollinated me?

As they flew off, I turned and thrust my wounded hand in his direction, imploring my dad to “help me, fix me, I’m hurt,” like I often did in real life. As a doctor, a veterinarian, he was who I turned to when sick or hurt, knowing his gift for healing. Especially of those who couldn’t explain what was the matter.

I looked at the sizeable hole the hummingbirds made – a small marble could have fit, yet there was no bleeding, and it was deep black, the darkest color I ever saw. The closer I peered, the more I realized I was looking into the abyss. Endless, boundless universe.

In the second dream, I was alone at my sister’s house and opened the door to let her cat out. Shortly afterwards, I saw a fox leaping gracefully across the yard, playful, yet intent. Entranced for a moment, I then suddenly remembered the cat was outside, nearby, and I rushed out the door, but couldn’t reach her fast enough. I helplessly watched as the fox grabbed her, sank its claws, and rendered her defenseless. She immediately relaxed, her body slumped and stopped struggling. It happened so fast. Alive one moment, surrendered the next.

That was 3 months ago. I haven’t dreamt since.

Until last night.

In this dream, my friends Tammy and Geof were showing me their grandfather’s house and the rural hamlet he lived in. I was looking to move and wanted to be someone’s roommate, and they thought we’d be a perfect match.

On our way there, I walked ahead of them into town, searching for something. Everything was intensely magnified. The green was greener than where I live now, the surrounding mountains were higher and more thickly forested. The few houses were old, and made of stone, just like the ones I coveted as a child and still hope to someday live in. No one was one the street at all, the townspeople all tucked inside. The scene was clean, orderly, pristine, natural, beautiful.

I walked into one of only two establishments and it was filled with kids – an ice cream shop. The brightness of overhead lights was strong and the hubbub overstimulating, so I left. I didn’t go into the other place – a serious, upscale restaurant, but I knew I would eventually – the twinkling lights on the windows highlighted the warm festivities inside. When I get settled in…

Then, feeling guilty I had rushed ahead without my friends, I walked briskly back down to the park, and found them relaxing with their grandfather and their son. We reunited.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the first 2 dreams, I looked up Hummingbird and Fox in Ted Andrews’ book of animal totems, “Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small.”

Hummingbirds represent tireless joy and the nectar of life. The most skilled flyer, they can change direction on a dime, fly thousands of miles – a seemingly impossible journey for a bird who needs to eat constantly, and are fiercely independent and revel in their freedom.

Foxes are a symbol of shapeshifting and camouflage, a sign of a new world growing and opening up, a beneficial creation in the works. They’re charming, and will distract you with jumping and leaping antics, until they pounce and capture their prize.

Now, a little back story about the small town and my friends’ role in it. Three years ago while visiting Tammy and Geof, who live in a small New England town, I listen while Geof shares some crazy thought he has that I might be happier moving out of NYC and to someplace like Vermont or Maine. I mostly ignore this idea at the time.

Months later, I’m invited to Maine, and suddenly remember Geof’s words. I rediscover Camden, where I once wanted to move, two decades earlier. It feels right this time. I pack up my life in the city, and here I am today, loving it.

Sooo…are T & G arbiters of my geography, and if so – is this about my inner landscape or the outer one? Is everything about to become more orderly and amped up?

How is my life shapeshifting? Am I about to capture my prize? Surrender to something?

Was one of my dad’s last gifts to empower me to live joyfully, on purpose, and suck from the nectar of life?

I figure my subconscious has been at work these months integrating the wisdom of my father and of the animals he tended, with my own beliefs, gut feelings from friends, and divine guidance. The unfolding ways of how I’ll live the rest of my life.

Advertisements

May I Have This Naked Dance?

“I want to dance naked in public.” ~ Jerry Saltz, NY Magazine art critic, speaking at the Rockport Opera House Sunday night, on why we create art.

Yes. It’s why I write. Why I speak. Why I live. I want to be seen and heard and feel ALIVE. And I want you to experience aliveness, to push and pulse with what calls you forth. I resonated with Jerry as he shared his perspective on creating and viewing art. “Art is about experience. It isn’t something you understand. It’s like pleasure – one of the most important forms of knowledge.”

Ah, pleasure…imagine a world in which we allowed the pleasurable to teach and lead us…what a full-of-wonder way to know we are alive.

I watched as he paced the stage, speaking of zones of safety we keep ourselves in, not daring to explore what’s just beyond the light already cast. He called out a few well-known artists, even some who were in the audience, issuing an invitation to exult, to expand, to excavate. Stop repeating what’s worked up until now. But why do we care what a former truck driver has to say?

Meaningful was when Jerry invited his wife, make-or-break you NYTimes art critic Roberta Smith, on stage. During the Q&A, she addressed this very question on why we do care about any one person’s opinion, and riffed on the crucial role culture must provide in our modern world. That without it- without discourse and education on art – we are barren and lost. I need give no examples of this; they are everywhere.

Yet, there is fertility.

As he shared his story of his entry into the art world, which didn’t begin until his forties, we saw validation of the late-bloomer, the demons of insecurity that plague all of us, and a quirky and endearing humor of a humble man who’s been nominated three times for a Pulitzer. How he first mimicked the stance and opinions of others and eventually unfolded himself, and let his voice soar. We saw an authentic presenter, not some stiff lecturer telling us Truth, but simply what he believes, what his eyes see. He urged us onward, away from declaring I Believe in Truth, I Believe in Beauty: “Don’t take refuge there. Find the blood, the sex, the self…the pleasure!”

He was real. Unpredictable. I loved him.

Be born again through art, he seemed to say.

My life changed when I finally ‘got’ all those Madonna and Childs in Italy, and stopped seeing them as authoritative, and merely reflective of that era’s cultural environment. When the work of Alexander Calder and Brancusi inspired me – literally, breathed life into my body – revealing mysteries un-ponderable in paintings, it was like learning another language. When I started scribbling on scraps of paper, then crafted them into essays for others to read, I found context for my joy…and now I’m learning to stand with an audience and speak deep truths out loud. Naked, indeed.

Creating form thrills. Hearing your connecting-of-the-dots excites. Sharing impressions draws us closer.  We are enriched through creation – as producers, as consumers, and yes, even as critics. I care about what you have to say, in the vehicle only you have the key to.

I want to witness you in your moment of creation, to see you translate what’s in your mind and heart and offer it up to us all. I want to dance naked, with you, in public, and have the whole world join us.

I Need Your Help!

There’s exciting changes going on in my world, dear readers!

I’ve been diligent and curious and have immersed myself in deep business education, community engagement, and rigorous self-examination …and heck if I’m not gaining momentum! Very soon I’ll be launching a new website and business – an evolution of who I’ve become through my commitment to a daily writing practice, which was hugely facilitated by a 14 month-long Maine sabbatical.

Note to anyone on the verge: while I recognize each of us has our own path to walk, I cannot recommend Maine highly enough as a place to connect with your own rhythm, the natural world, and a fiercely supportive community. My time there has been essential to the blossoming you are witnessing. The world is too much with us, and we must find our place back within her larger cradle in order to take root authentically. I look forward to giving back to Maine as a creative collaborator, entrepreneur, and advocate…for all she’s given me.

What you’re privy to now is the unfolding of a venture I’m bootstrapping, girded by an unassailable desire to be in service to the world, the gathering of tools with which I’ll operate, and the security of knowing…

…We have everything we need.

Rumi is leading the way. ~ “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

I’m gaining mastery in obstacle removal, having discovered his golden key to transformation and action.

Exchange anything you truly want in place of the word ‘love,’ and you’ll see my inspiration: wealth, happiness, a beautiful home, fulfilling work, healing… the answers to your deep longings are waiting to be discovered, uncovered, recovered, because they’ve been there, covered, the whole time. Like when you’re looking for your glasses, and then look in the mirror and see them perched atop your head. Yeah, just like that.

One thing I’ve long sought is freedom, and along my path I’ve learned that – oh wonder of wonders, silly girl – I already am free. A revelation! Obvious, yet not really to so many of us. Another thing I’ve sought is a feeling of power – not over others, but within myself, and that, too, I’m unlocking. The more I honor the ME that I really, truly am and drop the masks, the fears of being rejected or misunderstood, the more I emerge as an authentic, powerful woman. Who knew that what the world craved was me? (and you, too, by the way).

Yet, I haven’t done it alone. It feels like a massive conspiracy – or convergence of all I’ve ever been and everyone I’ve ever known ~including every one of you, because you’ve given me your valuable attention, and I thank you for that. It hasn’t happened overnight, either, although once I launch my new site and blog and business, I know it’ll feel like a birthday – that one big world debut! (Better go shoe shopping now…gotta step out in style!)

For those who’ve gone before me, you know all the incremental steps that result in one big leap. And for those who are still gathering courage and clarity, know it’s ALL part of the unfolding. I spent a lot of time swirling around in eddies, and it does teach you something… (mostly how the view from the hamster wheel could use a new scenery designer.)

For now, I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the future unveiling…

I’m developing a consulting business as a hiring specialist. I will help businesses who struggle with finding great staff attract, interview, and hire trusted, hospitality-driven employees who drive sales, ensure customer loyalty, and build brand trust. I’m writing a book about my methods and techniques, and am developing a curriculum as well. I’m propelled by the desire for people to have meaningful work lives, living the life they’ve imagined (thank you, Thoreau), alongside others who are also meaningfully employed. Win/win for everyone!

To do this I need your help.

If you are in a position of hiring, such as a business owner, recruiter, or hiring manager, I would so appreciate you helping me by completing this survey.

If you are not in a hiring capacity, but know someone who is, please pass this along – to three people if possible. The more information I have, the more customized and effective will be my offerings.

I’m thrilled to share this news of what’s unfolding for me, and look forward to having you along…

With much love and gratitude,

Kellie

The Commodore, a $3,000 Toothbrush, & Why I Love Maine

Sometimes I’m tucked inside and creased, like delicate and fragile origami, waiting for someone to unfold me with great curiosity, to reveal the origins of my fingerprints and implications.

Other times, I’m tensile, possibility like an inflating balloon, while someone blows me into swirly bubbles that lilt along the breeze… up, up, up and away.

From infinite microcosms to infinite macrocosms, and the eons of light-years between, I feel insignificant and almighty at once. When the universe – the one song – dilates, new galaxies and nebulas and amoebae and subatomic particles collaborate and sing me a lullaby of marvellous fortune.

Hibernation. Constriction. Prayer.

Expansion. Exuberance. Love.

But I would never recognize minutiae or immensity without being in relationship.

For tonight, this cool August eve in a wooded nook, kindred spirits wrapped around me like a handknit shawl, I am awash in appreciation for people whose orbits link with mine – however briefly – and plunge me into watery, baptismal depths:

The Brazilian surfer who blesses every meal,

the harpsichordist with a penchant for 17th century music,

the fun-loving Commodore with his antique car collection,

the sturdy sailor who crafted his schooner by hand,

the drumming shaman who sees fairies in stone,

the illustrator who lets me dig in her garden,

the pony-tailed jeweler with the three-thousand dollar toothbrush,

the laid back captain who loves to dance to the blues,

the retired pilot who follows rivers and tides,

the vivacious blonde with her unwavering smile,

the combat artist with his precious newborn,

the unlikely dandy in a teensy, windswept village,

the politico with a theory to bring order in a confusing world,

the pixie-like soprano with her hypnotizing voice,

the motorcyclist who recommends a secret kayaking route,

and the lovely, Shanghai-raised ingenue who wants to change the world.

There are as many twinklers here, on this magical stretch of coast, as appear up in the heavens on a dark, new moon night and each has sprinkled a little stardust on me…

Waterman's Beach sunset, Maine

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Read another “elemental” musing o’ mine: The Periodic Table Of My Dreams

Get each new post straight to your inbox!

ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS above right, and you’ll be instantly subscribed!

Thank you. xo

Support creativity by sharing this with your friends and family!


Stepping Into The Same River Twice

Port Clyde Kayaks Full Moon PaddleWhen you find something that works, stick with it, goes conventional wisdom, but aren’t we so used to throwing out the bathwater in our quest for the latest and greatest that we end up missing what the baby might teach us?

Yeah, right. I’m the master baby-tosser.

An almost-full moon paddle last week was so transcendent that, uncharacteristically, I decide to do it again.  It’s rare for me to repeat something; I’m more of a seismic shifter. But clearly, the impetus for good fortune was announced in the I Ching reading that day – a metaphorical thunder-clap not only reflected in the coin toss, but in its riverside perch between sunset and moonrise. I knew not its full impact, and perhaps I still don’t, but the reverberations were sonic. The ‘Changing’ occurred and it was enormous, but internal. (No packing my bags for foreign shores this time.) Fortunes truly can flip with a switch, New England work ethic notwithstanding, and I’m ready to meet providence. (Well, I imagine there will be 99% perspiration on my part…)

It had been a less than desirable day, but I redeemed it by climbing inside the kayak I gifted myself a few years ago on my 40th birthday. The luxuries we afford ourselves reap far more than we realize at the time, and I’m ever grateful I treated myself to that little blue boat. For years I coveted one and after I took the plunge, my world widened. Pledging allegiance to enjoyment has made a profound impact on life; I highly recommend it. That small craft has not only altered my perspective, as sitting down low in the water can do, it has also provided opportunity to explore intimacy, balance, trust, and wonder – all while nestled in the watery bosom of Momma Nature.

Not setting out to step in the same river twice, per se, I unexpectedly arrive under the full moon again, albeit in a different body of water, the following evening, soon to don spray skirt and life vest. The bathwater was still warm…

Port Clyde Kayaks

Whenever I crave a change of scenery (as if Penobscot Bay’s world class playground pales) I tour down the St. George Peninsula, roughly following the Georges River out to Muscongus Bay. I pass through Owl’s Head, Tenant’s Harbor (never missing a meal at Cod End’s back deck…fried scallops and belly clams this time),  and round past Marshall Point Lighthouse (of Forrest Gump fame), all the way down to Port Clyde, with its Finisterre atmosphere.

Cod End Tenant's Harbor, MaineThere’s a whitewashed barn across from the harbor with an art gallery upstairs and backgammon tables downstairs that serves shrimp cocktail and bottles of Shipyard Ale for the summer folk. It’s the kind of spot where you walk in thirsty and walk out with a handful of new friends, as I did one June evening. I forsake it this time, however, and consider the clear skies and looming sunset. Maybe I’ll take a Puffin cruise on one of the tour boats…

Port Clyde pierI roam the quaint general store, rueing modern supermarkets with their massive parking lots and bad lighting. Who knew you could buy Spam, motor oil, and oysters all in one creaky floorboard shop? This alone makes me want to settle in for a spell. I ponder an ice cream cone, then see that Port Clyde Kayaks is open and wander in. Cody, the proprietor, who I learn homeschools his kids so he and his wife can winter in locales like Puerto Rico and Maui, strikes up a lazy conversation. We chat about living off-peak, on our own terms, and find commonality, laughing as we realize we grew up only 45 minutes apart…kindred Hudson Valley spirits. I take him up on his offer to brew me a cup of Hawaiian coffee, despite quitting the caffeine habit months ago. Directly imported, these beans are not to be shunned; abstinence seems downright ungracious in this context, don’t you think?

It’s exactly these kind of exchanges that sets Maine apart from anywhere else I’ve traveled: unassuming encounters that seem to have the timeless tucked into them. Completely charmed, I sign up for the night’s full moon paddle, and I’m struck, yet again, by how many people I meet whose fulfillment arrives outside of the mainstream, and wonder why we call it the main stream, when it’s the customized tailoring that counts?

Honeymooners from Northern Ontario and a suburban NY couple with three kids filter in and we gear up. Cody takes his time while explaining safety and technique while the group gets to know one another. Once we put in, we paddle west, heading towards Deep Cove, where the depth reaches 150 feet, enough for the dozens of harbor porpoises that live there. Paddling towards the westward horizon, we watch melting oranges and pinks along the skyline, like softening sherbet, then turn to see the luminescence of the moon framed in darkening lavender behind us.

Full Moon rising over Muscongus Bay, St. George Peninsula, MaineWe float amid flourescent lobster buoys while glistening fins crest a gently undulating surface.  Sounds of their breathing, of exhaling, shiver me into gratitude and I am awed by their proximity. These gorgeous creatures breach repeatedly within feet of my kayak and I am spellbound.

Psshh.           Psshh.           Psshh.

I follow with my eyes, watching intently for the next surfacing. Over and over they crest and dive. I’m riveted. And then a harbor seal playfully pokes his head up.

What a glorious evening, yet so different from the previous night’s paddle. A sudden shift has definitely taken place and I can feel gestures of fluidity both around and within.

In fact, my whole day has been a series of blessings, each one almost making me blush in embarrassment as they accumulate like moths around the porch light.  I struggled with some prioritizing the last few days, and knew the answer would only be found by seeking relief. Once I cleared the air and let go, I relaxed into spaciousness, leaving tension and dilemma behind. As soon as I chose the better path, which was to step away from a form of income that wasn’t proving beneficial anymore, a new revenue stream miraculously propositioned me within hours. When one door closes…

Port Clyde Kayaks Full Moon Paddle Muscongus Bay

As I paddle across the bay, I reflect on how my day unfolded – each time I turned a corner, a desire manifested. I lost a top of the line knife (given to me by a chef I used to work for) and I found an exact replacement that afternoon. I admired a blue t-shirt a woman was wearing last week, and Cody, for reasons unknown, decided to give me one, the same shade, right off the hanger. I finally achieved a move in yoga I’d just about given up on. And I’d been wanting to get up close to some of the islands lately, get off the coast and explore, and that’s exactly what we did, vigorously – we paddled around Caldwell and Little Caldwell Islands, billionaire-owned Teel Isle, and larger Hupper Island, where we needed a power bar break after crossing the channel  – not easy working against the tidal currents at 10pm. Was I really out on the open water at night?

I even got up close to Andrew Wyeth’s house, which I’ve pined to see since becoming a member at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. His paintings evoke a windswept and lonesome life whose origin I wanted to understand better. Cody shared the story of the island house being pushed across the frozen bay from Caldwell Island for relocation to the mainland many years ago. After spending the past winter here, I am at no loss to imagine such a thing. I’ve felt windswept and lonesome, too.

Perhaps I’m getting closer to the life that beckons, and I don’t need to make such drastic changes anymore. Maybe I’ll just keep paddling around under the moon and see what happens. It seems to be working out well.

Port Clyde Kayaks Full Moon Paddle Muscongus Bay

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You’re invited to subscribe by email and get

my next vignette straight to your inbox.

Read more about the St. George Peninsula: The House Of Light

Think someone you know might enjoy this post? Please share it!

%d bloggers like this: