Gifts from my Camera: Metaphors for a Transformed Life

 I could remember my day today
 through the filter of gloom 
 remembering only those rainy gray hours 
 stuck within the stuffy cluttered house
 or I could admit those hours inside 
 were a gift from my creative muse
 for I wrote poetry about the gorgeous moon I had viewed
 at five this morn--two hours before the rain began 
as well as content for an eBook I am working on
 I could frame this rainy day 
 between that magic before the gray dawn 
 and this evening’s colorful sunset 
 (and perhaps a starry night
 as clouds begin to clear!)
then focus on the frame
 or I could focus on midafternoon's sudden call 
 brightening clouds and patches of blue 
 viewed through raindrops still on the window glass
 a welcome invitation 
accepted with a dash outside 
camera in hand 
to breathe the bracing air 
and using the camera’s zoom 
to focus on and capture 
the magic of reappearing blue
 If asked whether my "glass" 
was full or half full 
I used to growl to myself 
“none of the above--just about empty!” 
(yes, then and still 
a diagnosis of severe clinical depression)
 But now I'm learning 
to reframe my life story 
and how important it is for me 
to focus on each small miracle 
zooming in until it fills my inner viewfinder 
which of course changes my point of view  
until all I am is wonderfully grateful 
and miraculously happy

Autumn Blessings


Looking at the Wheel of the Year as a clock, Autumn is Sunset.  It lives in the West, the home of the Water element and our emotions, sometimes seen as the portal to Death and the realms beyond. Overlaying this solar clock/ medicine wheel with the Moon’s monthly cycles, Autumn is Third Quarter, or Waning Half Moon.  In terms of a woman’s life, Autumn is menopause, the end of fecundity and gateway to developing elder wisdom.

Autumn has always been my favorite season of the year, a time of colorful late flowers and abundant harvests, followed by the blaze of turning leaves.  It has been a time of returning physical energy after the summer heat, and is when I became pregnant (giving birth in Summer). I am now in the Autumn years of my life, and so I wonder if this season of my life will be my favorite?  In spite of many losses–relationships, empty nest, health challenges, inability to dance, and where oh where did my libido go?–as I recreate myself “better than ever” in so  many internal ways it’s starting to seem possible that this is becoming my best season!


This year the Equinox happened during the Gibbous Waning Moon, thus Solar Mabon falls close to Lunar Mabon (September 22 and 26). This is a perfect opportunity for a solitary witch to stay super-mindful of Balance for a week, always a good idea for someone fairly recently “beyond bipolar!”  I don’t have to choose, but can celebrate both sides of Autumn–joy and gratitude for the continuing harvest (and the cooler weather!) and grief for the waning of the light and for losses of fecundity and the sensual (okay, sexual!) pleasures of my life’s summer.  I love balancing Sun and Moon–and getting more opportunities to play magic!

Mr Black, embodying mindfulness as his familiar scurries around taking photos, Mabon Eve 2013

Mr Black, embodying mindfulness as his familiar scurries around taking photos, Mabon Eve 2013


Autumn is the sunset of the solar year, and our sunset on Mabon Eve was an awesome 360 degree panorama, lingering long in the West, direction of Autumn on the yearwheel.

Witch took photos while familiar maintained cool mindfulness.



I send Blessings of Balance to all who need dynamic equilibrium, rather than extremes of hot and cold, up and down, in our lives.  And Blessings of empowerment for “changed” women.  May we find the gifts of our life’s Autumn. and rekindle our passion for life.  May we develop wisdom and share it with our tribes.  Welcome, Matrons!

Mabon Sunset--Cloud Rainbow Portal

Mabon Sunset–Cloud Rainbow Portal. Blessings for the journey from Summer to Winter!

Freya’sDay–Succulence and Sweetness

Day 30 of the 30 day Blogalong.  This is my 19th post, which seems pretty amazing to me.  I’ve learned I can write even when I’m not feeling well or “inspired”–and I’ve found that inspiration is actually easy to find and writing helps me feel better.  Thank you to everyone who has taken time to read my posts, and especially to those who have commented here or on the Glitterhood forum.  I love this ever-deepening experience of our “tribe!”

I’m going to keep this post simple.  In casting about for a descriptive word to go with Friday, “freedom” came to mind, and I may write about that another week.  Today I’m going with Freya, Norse goddess of love/ sexuality among other things.  Her name is imbedded in our word Friday (as Thor’s is in Thursday).  I’m not going to take time to Google or Wikipedia her (something for another Freya’sDay), just use what little I remember about her to relate two “small stones”  to today’s theme.

I wrote these Elfjes yesterday while waiting for the flood waters to abate so I could walk home (see the postscript to Thanks-full Thursday for that tale).  I’m not sure which Elfje I like best, so I’m posting both.  (You can “vote” in the comments section!)


Valentine Prickly Pear–photo by Vicky Garwood. I used to use this as my profile pic on Facebook.  Updated it when I became a coach!



prickly heart

sharp spines protect

inner soft vulnerable succulent




Prickly Pear Flower–posted on the Facebook page for Tucson Death Cafe.  Each pad has a row of buds along its margin, one bud opening each day.  Bees love the abundant pollen!



prickly heart

springtime voluptuous blossoms

summer succulent purple fruit




Prickly Pear Fruit

Prickly Pear Fruit. Source of photo unknown

Yes, even our wounded hearts, with all their self-protective spines, may find their seasons to share beauty and sweetness.

Blessed Be!

[Almost] Wordless Wednesday–a brief postscript to “Child Eyes”


Painted medicine bag I made at Women’s Alliance camp, mid-’80’s.  Acrylics on leather.  Evidence of mostly dormant Child Eyes available during a time when I was nurturing the artistic nature of my adolescent daughter, and believed I “couldn’t paint.”  I’m calling those magical eyes back stronger than ever, and enrolling in Effy Wild’s Moonshine Mother painting class.  


Reclaiming our child eyes


how your child eyes
saw the sun
you drew those beams
with rainbow crayons

posted to the Facebook group Small Stones-Writing our Way Home,

by Carole Herzog Johnston, reposted with permission


"Designer" paper from Ampad, an adult artist's juxtaposition of a child's sun and a Smiley face

“Designer” paper from Ampad,     an adult artist’s juxtaposition of     a child’s sun and a Smiley face

Remember drawing sunrays?  Every picture we drew with our crayons had a round yellow circle with those black lines radiating from it.  Those suns shone down on square houses with triangle roofs (complete with a chimney and a wisp of smoke), each with a door in the middle bracketed by 2 square windows, trees like lollipops, and people composed of circles and twigs.  (Yes, we drew triangular peaked roofs with chimneys even in west Texas where our own ranchstyle homes had flat gravel roofs, and asymmetrical front aspects, and I didn’t know anyone with a fireplace!)

Were we taught to draw the sun (and houses, trees, people, etc) in these simplified, standardized ways?  Is so, by whom—mothers, teachers, siblings, schoolmates… actively or by example, or did we copy it from our reading primers and storybooks?

In the case of those sunbeams, I wonder if we did actually see them when we disobeyed our mothers’ warnings and looked at the sun?  I don’t remember, but Carole does.  She commented on her Small Stone, “A friend of my mother once asked the child me, why do kids always draw those lines emanating from the sun, as if she never saw them. I just felt sorry for her.”

I wrote back, “I wonder if developing eyes actually see the sun’s rays in a clear sky, while older eyes must wait until sunbeams are created by clouds or tall trees or housedust…. I have assumed the crayon lines were a convention, like kids’ houses w/ peaked roof, door in middle, 2 windows. But now I wonder!”

And she replied, “I think you can see them if you squint at the sun. This morning I saw them clearly as I watched the sun rising in the crook between two trees. I guess the light was refracted in some special way.”

Well, I’m sure I squinted a lot as a kid who played outdoors all summer, in the days before sun- screen/ glasses/ hats and all the addictive indoor electronic amusements. Proof–all those little wrinkles beside my eyes that formed early in the “aging” process!

I’m also wondering when did we switch from seeing crayon lines to Divine sunrays?  Sometime in my Sunday school education, I accepted the stereotype of holiness made visible in the rays of light coming through a break in the clouds, or the canopy of tall conifers (those “cathedral column” redwoods of California!).  To me now, those are gorgeous views, rare enough to be special, and transfixing even without a belief in a Divine Artist.

What I do remember from those lazy childhood summer days, lying on the itchy Bermudagrass lawn skygazing with my best friend Sarah Kelly, are the shapes we could so easily see in the clouds, and how strange it was that the cute puffy poodle would morph into a greedy crocodile into a _____….  Now as a too-grownup, it’s hard for me to find the patience to watch clouds long enough to catch those evanescent images. Somehow I just don’t see things in clouds very often. To my artist’s eye, clouds are color and texture, and I love their ever-changing form.  To my gardener’s eye, trained in science, clouds are weather.   Perhaps I need to rediscover my child’s eye, and see more playful magic in the sky!

Heart in the Sky--captured by Tanya Levy

Heart in the Sky–captured by Tanya Levy, and reposted with her permission

the stretched heart-visible to the naked eye–Small Stone and photo by Tanya Levy.  w/ permission

Another member of Small Stones, Tanya Levy, frequently sees hearts in clouds.  Someone posted in that forum that Tanya is a newlywed, and so I think the hearts she sees have romantic meaning.

Although I post a lot of “<3” hearts when I more than “like” someone’s Facebook post, romance seems to be long gone from my soul after 18 solitary years.  I see beauty, and magic and miracles, in the minutia of Nature and the large paintings of sky and landscape.  I am mostly happy or at least content, and occasionally get excited, but I see sacredness or flower-bee sex-and-nurture, but not romance, in the hearts of flowers I love to photograph.

Fiery Dragon of Sunset

Fiery Dragon of Twilight

Swimming clouds

Swimming clouds

And I see color and texture in the cloudscapes and unsets.   Although once in a while, a pod of cumulus whales or flock of cirrus swallows float into my view.  And recently, I’ve started seeing the Dragons of Twilight!

But not hearts.  Except for those rabbit or javelina- chewed prickly pear pads….

What do you see in clouds?  Do you remember seeing sunbeams like crayon lines?  What do sunrays coming through tall conifers mean to you as an adult?

Do you see with child eyes, romantic eyes, religious eyes, scientific eyes, tired eyes?

Can you change modes of perception by choice?  That’s a skill I want to cultivate for myself!


Day 8: Surgery and Self-affirmation Day


Sunrise through one of the mesquite trees at my campsite, taken earlier this week

I am writing this post for Day 8 of the Blogalong  a bit early, because I will be leaving home at sunrise tomorrow to go into the city for MOHs surgery. MOHs is an elegant way to remove basal cell carcinomas, with biopsy  done on the spot (pun intended), repeating the excision-biopsy sequence until the margins are clear of cancer cells.

Because The Spot is on my nose, and has gone deep (procrastination does not work when cancer is involved!), I’ll probably have to have reconstructive surgery with another surgeon, which will be done under general anesthesia (unlike the MOHs which only requires local anesthesia). I’ll see if I can write anything after I wake up tomorrow afternoon–What emerges after “twilight sleep” drugs might be quite interesting!  (Or not)

What I’m thinking about right now is how proud I am of having posted to my blog every day (I certainly didn’t expect to!). I’m also pleased to report that I have actively participated in the Blogalong by reading and commenting on a few posts by other blogalongers every day, and I’ve been posting in the Glitterhood forum on Facebook (the sponsoring site).  I’ve also linked relevant posts to other forums that I participate in….

Wow, what a lot of networking!  What audacity to put my voice out in such a big-for-me way!  What great practice this has been for easily finding inspiration–and writing at will. And what a lot of great copy I have for the newsletter I will launch as soon as my website has a good email list generator.

Pride isn’t a place I go to often.  I’m more likely to say I’m pleased with something I’ve done, or avoid affirming myself at all. Maybe because my mom would quote the old adage about pride going before a fall…and all that early programming in the ’50’s and ’60’s for girls to be modest, gak!

This feels like healthy pride, pride in accomplishing easily what used to be so difficult (writing), pride in the product created.  I love how a word, image, or small event has inspired an idea which I expanded into an essay and illustrated with my own photos.

It took me days to write, and edit, and reedit the original posts on my blog, and the few photos I inserted all posted sideways.  I think I’m most proud right that I accomplished each of these seven posts in less than a day from idea to publishing.

Previously, inspiration came infrequently, and neither my writing nor my agility in the technical aspects of blogging were improving much from post to post.  That is an old story–I’m hitting delete and rewriting it as

“I am an inspired blogger!”




My first wish for you today is that you can easily let go of false modesty and take genuine pride in being your creative self.  Let your light shine brightly!



Katy did “like” my recent post, and other bloggalongers left nice comments!

My second wish for you is a quantum leap in your own writing.  If daily blogging in a supportive group might help (or just be fun!), come join us on Effy Wild’s Blogalong–we’re having a great time blogging, and are becoming better bloggers in the process. It’s not too late to join–there are 22 more days to go, yay!  Click on the link below for more info:

Blogalong Day 5–Tersely telling it like it is

Holed stones, created by small boring clams, show us there's always a way through the hard place!

Holed stones, created by small boring clams, show us there’s always a way through the hard place!


I’ve been a verrry good grrrl here on the blogalong, maintaining my (actually usual-yay!) positive attitude and blogging inspiredly (and at rather great length!) about gratitude, holydays, and rewilding oneself. I just overslept a late afternoon nap, which has temporarily interrupted my feeling of good cheer.

So for today’s blogaglong post I’m going to do a little backtalk to Pollyanna, but do it as poetic “small stones” rather than a complainy rant.  Use these feelings as grist for the creative mill.  Be “here” now, perfectly imperfect….


the sunset

and watering gardens

and doing the dishes



and hungry

still half asleep

I pile these stones


Menopausal haiku w/ added “bomb” written pre-dawn a few mornings ago:

My body turned the

perfect night to sweaty hell.

I thought they were gone!

     Night sweats, argh!

A Solitary Elfje spontaneously “downloaded” recently.  It surprised me, as I think I’m happy living alone!:


are you?

My soul mate

for this life time–


Looming large on the horizon….


basal cells

must be removed!

surgery scheduled for Wednesday



Now, trying to leaven some of this heaviness with a tidbit of humor, here’s my attempt at a limerick:

A lonely old woman named  j’Etana

got sunburned on Copacabana

so now she has cancer

(and can’t be a dancer!)

growing old as a tenant, not a rancher.

I deleted enough words to get 3-3-2-2-3 feet, and almost fit them into anapestic (da da DAH) meter but didn’t manage to rhyme the 5th line w/ the 1st and 2nd–a common challenge w/ my limericks. And hard to find the humorous twist….

I don’t actually want to ranch, but do want to own rural property. Dancing has no connection w/ sunburn (I can’t dance any more due to sciatica and fibromyalgia, perhaps topics for another complainey limerick.  Another day this blogalong month, perhaps–now that’s something to anticipate, eh?!).

Think I’ll have a little supper and watch an episode of trashy tv on Netflix, then go back to my sweaty bed.  Hopefully I’ll wake up in my Gratitude Garden in the not-too-early morning,  refreshed and… cheery!


Good night, or morning/ afternoon, whenever you read this!

Cheery froggy hugs to you!

ps, If you would enjoy posting short observations (poetry or prose) on your life to an appreciative and  supportive forum, ou are invited to yjoin the private Facebook group Small Stones-Writing our Way Home.

“Liking” one’s own posts

Do you ever “like” your own posts when you revisit them to read comments, or come across them in your Facebook feed?  It seems there is a cultural taboo around this practice, an offshoot of the deeply entrenched (and totally erroneous) idea that it is “selfish” to love oneself.

As I have become more established in self-care and self-love (and reaped the benefits of a happier, healthier life as a result), I’ve started “liking” my social media and blog posts in the same way I “like” certain posts by other people.  If my words, or photos of my art, please me aesthetically, or speak to me from a wisdom place, or tickle my sense of humor, I really should “like” them, don’t you agree?

I proposed we all help end this taboo by “liking” our own postings, and truly loving ourselves!

TL--Personal Balance on the Beauty WayI predict amazing things will happen!


Imbolc–Bright Blessings of Brighid!

Bright Blessings this cross-quarter (between Solstice and Equinox) day!  The Sun has returned enough that we can notice (and celebrate!) longer days and increased light on the north side of our homes (apologies for my Northern hemisphere perspective to all those easing out of Summer!).

Before she was co-opted into the Catholic pantheon of Saints, Brighid was the Sun Goddess of my Celtic ancestors, so for me (and many others) this pagan holyday is sacred to Her (and my priestess name is Brighidsdottir).  Although the church fathers did not recognize the Sun Goddess, they kept Brighid’s sacred powers as Smithcrafter (transforming by Fire), Muse of bards and poets, and Healer.  Like the Virgin, she wears a cloak that comforts and heals, but it is her hair–often depicted as flames–that bring her energy to me when I’m tired.  I envision Her mantle surrounding when I’m sad or ready to sleep.

Brighid--by Wendy AndrewPainting by Wendy Andrew, copied from a Facebook post and used without permission.  I hope she approves my sharing this gorgeous vision of Brighid!

If you didn’t celebrate Candlemas/ Imbolc/ Brighid last night on the Eve, all day today is sacred–and secular (look for the groundhog or its equivalent in your biome today!).  Think about emerging from hibernation now–or slowly as we approach the Vernal Equinox (the groundhog is our Guide in how quickly to emerge each year).  Plant seeds–literally in my desert garden or in pots for transplanting after your garden thaws (or my soil warms enough for summer crops)–or metaphorically as seeds of intention.  I love to combine literal and metaphoric seeds to get the garden planted and cast spells of intentionality as I “work.”  Take wheat stalks and weave Brighid’s crosses (sunspirals!).  Invoke the Sun and light candles in honor of Her return.

Celebrate (again!) at Lunar Imbolc/ Lunar Brighid at the upcoming DarkMoon (wonderful for divination and letting go of what no longer serves us) and NewMoon (perfect for planting seeds of intention!)–one week from today.

fyi if this is unfamiliar:  DarkMoon is the day and night (or several) right before NewMoon, when the moon is invisible in the sky and the energy is most inward for attuned we’moon.  Our energy turns outward after the balance point called “New Moon” on our calendars, that astronomic point when the Sun and Moon are closest together in our sky.  I like to celebrate NewMoon when I first see the lovely tiny crescent in the evening sky a day or two after the astromomic balance point–isn’t that a special sighting?!  The evening just before New Moon is when I love to hold DarkMoon circles.  I will resume after the Sun returns enough for us to meet outdoors in the Healing Grove; meanwhile I am doing my Imbolc magic as a solitary, mostly indoors by lamplight pagan, except for daytime seedsowing and moonsightings whenever the sky is clear.

Wherever, whenever, solitary or in circle, celebrate as you are called to do!  And when you need comfort, know that Brighid’s mantle awaits to cover you with Her nurturing warmth.

Blessed Be!

Oasis, Sanctuary, Healing Grove

Today’s Daily Prompt for bloggers from’s idea generating maven michelle w. is OASIS.  Her prompt reads:  “A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.”   I have resisted some great prompts from michelle, saving them in a folder for a rainy day when I might need inspiration for journal or blog, but today I am prompted to write right now!

My personal sanctuary is a physical one, a literal oasis in the desert.  When I parked my old motorhome on private land near Tucson, Arizona, six years ago (never again to fire up that gas-guzzling, noisy and polluting engine!), I backed into the offered campsite so that my door opened directly into the entryway of a little clearing within a circle of mesquite trees.  I knew this shady area would be my outdoor living room and warm-weather bedroom, because for over a decade I had been searching for, discovering, living in beyond legal timelimits, and returning seasonally to public lands campsites with a shade tree (or great view, nice boulder…) under (or next to) which I could live/ create jewelry/ eat/ sleep/ dream….

I soon decided that I would create a Medicine Wheel in this mesquite grove by planting four native shrubs at the Cardinal directions of the grove, with each plant’s flowers the color of its direction.  On my way to Desert Survivors nursery, I was envisioning the Healing Grove where I would sleep the next nine months….No!, where I would hold women’s Dark/New Moon ceremonies and other sacred events and councils!  Several neighbors got involved and the Healing Grove was birthed with a copper spiral energized rose quartz vortex in the center of a Sri Lakshmi yantra, then gifted over time with a statue of Kwan Yin, crystals and stones, and two ancient mesquite-grinding pestles found nearby in this desert valley.

Lovely women gathered for ceremonies I created and led, coming into my power as priestess after many years of despair around not finding a circle or coven to join. I became the creator of the ceremonial life of my dreams….well almost,.for I dream of a circle of peers that co-create and deeply support each member’s life and healing, and doing it mostly “all by myself” in order to have a ceremonial grouplife was taxing.

It got too cold to sit in ceremony in the Grove, and before the next Spring I had descended into a “time out” year in bed, lost once again in the dark cave of depression and pain on both physical and psychological/ spiritual levels, dread-full at the time, but in retrospect a year that was amazingly transformative.  The Grove received no gardening attention other than daily drip irrigation that kept plants alive during the long hot early summer, so plants went feral and the small stones were tossed everywhere by curved bill thrashers.  The colors, crystal/ stone, and herbal energies of the Wheel blended in strange ways, the grapevine wove the trees together, and the wolfberry grew enormous and sprawled into the central circle.  The shamana I had become in the dark cave laughed and declared the Grove’s ceremonial space a spiral  The Grove and I were “rewilded” and “gone feral” in magickal ways.  Many wonder-full meetings were held in spiral the next year.

And then the neighborhood changed, with landowners retreating into relative isolation after burning out on their ventures into community, and temporary campers other than myself moving on. My community and circle shrank, with only occasional council or ceremony with one or two other persons at a time.  And then, this Summer and Autumn, just a circle of one.

I found that a Circle of One is a good thing to be, so long as there is an Oasis to nourish  one’s spirit.  Indeed, it can be a Spiral of One!  A Circle whole unto oneself, a Spiral with movement and evolution….  At first, I found my returned solitude, especially for Moontime ceremony, rather, well, lonesome (shades of the “dark” solitary years!), and not nearly as enjoyable as the group synergy had been.  But easy to go with my own flow without commitment to others at designated times, so stressful when I’m exhausted or in pain….  Over time, especially this year of Personal Discovery and Breakthrough work with lifecoach Scout Wilkins, I have come to deeply enjoy what is, for now, a solitary spiritual oasis.  Whenever I “hit the wall” of depleted adrenals or fibroflare, my recliner awaits  in the Healing Grove to relieve me of the stresses of gravity (physical and mental).  The Grove awaits for any ceremony I wish to create, and is a place to relax and “just be” for a moment or hours of contemplative timelessness (or a nap!).

This year from the Magick Chaise I watched the mesquites leaf out, with noticeably more delicate applegreen leaves each day dancing against the windy Springtime sky, and the golden flower “catkins” singing with bees turning into tiny pods elongating almost as I watched–then falling around and on me as I flew  in the ecstasy of total exhaustion on my magick chaise.  The smallest warbler in the US, Lucy’s Warbler, entertained me for months, and small dark brown Tree Lizards seemed to respond to my loving energy.  The horde of apple-theiving thrashers warned me of the Gila monster’s approach, so I was blessed to see his beaded beauty. The diamondback rattlesnake dreamed peacefully even when I unknowingly sprinkled her while handwatering.  And always the sky was visible  through the branches, calling me as I reclined, and flew.

Now the mesquite leaves are dry and more gray than green, dropping slowly over weeks of what folks in colder climes of North America call Indian Summer. The sky here is a lovely shade of “Autumn blue” which is fading until it will be pale or storm clouded through the dark rough barked branches of Winter.  And then, finally (long after our late winter wildflowers have gone to seed), the new Spring leaves will emerge and the cycle begin anew.  Will my next “Mesquite Year” find me still living at this oasis, or creating a more permanent one on the land I hope to find and purchase?  Will my dream of community bring others to share the Healing Grove, wherever it will be?

I know that the answer will be revealed as the seasons turn.  And I know I will always take “alone” time to watch the birds and lizards, the play of light and dance of clouds through the branches of a beloved tree or grove, in my outdoor livingroom or laying on the ground off-trail in wilder Nature.

And when the weather is too cold/ windy/ rainy or I am “in town,” my sanctuary is still available in my memory.  When stressed or scared, I now have a simple practice to center myself:  I envision entering the spiral path to the center of the Healing Grove.  With my hand on my heart, I speak (or think, if in a public place) my self affirmation “I am amazingly powerful…..”  Three deep breaths, and I am “good to go!”  Even if you don’t have a literal Oasis Healing Grove in your front yard, you can remember a special place where you felt especially in touch with wild Nature and/or your own powerful, wise Self, and go there for a moment–or an hour of “daydreaming” or shamanic journeying.  May you find the renewal you need as I have been so blessed to do!