A Death in the Family

spirit cloud
I have not posted for several months. I have come to the realization that “building a following” is an aspiration that I can barely understand. It used to be that following came after achievement of some kind not before. I’ve been advised that I need to build a following BEFORE my book comes out.

In June I attended the Historical Novel Society conference where I took every opportunity to get critiques on my writing. I changed the first chapter in my hotel room at night. I pitched an agent and a publisher. Both wanted to see my first 50 pages. Heady stuff.

The agent turned me down. I hired an editor to improve my book. Her comments were challenging and accurate. With some honest soul searching I realized that my first 100 pages or more needed to go. Yesterday I withdrew my manuscript from consideration by the publisher.

So as we’ve moved through Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, my dear Sarah continues to speak to me. I gave her two years. We are both tired (and a bit bored with this yo-yo of bending to advice). So I have rolled the stone across her grave and am putting this project to rest. There is grief attached to this life’s work, but freedom as well. I feel a new creative window may open soon.

The other glimpse of death that I experienced this summer, and more the reason for a lack of communication, was a sever asthma attack. Allergy triggers illness triggers bronchitis triggers constant phlegm-filled coughing and struggle for breath. I came as close to dying as I can remember. I also came to appreciate every breath and every moment of peace between spells. It took two months for everything to “settle down”.

With my illness came the shedding of aspirations of the Paris exchange. Perhaps I’m experiencing PTSD from getting sick in Europe and feverishly coughing on the sixteen hour trip home.

For now, I celebrate my breath, each and every one, and my temporary restoration of heath. Mazel Tov.

A Patchwork Life

We are taking a class based on Steven Levine’s book

    One Year to Live

at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Once a month we gather to think about and discuss our lives.

“How shall I live, knowing I will die?” asks Wayne Muller.

I mourn that we are such a “death denying” society. I had grandparents who died and I was only informed, never given the opportunity to participate in the ritual of last goodbyes.

My sister died in a one-car automobile accident when I was in high school and our family almost never spoke her name after that.

Here in San Francisco, a hospice volunteer/performer gathers people for a twice monthly open mike. YG2D or You’re Going To Die allows folks, mostly young, to process the deaths in their lives. Deep art is produced from this space.

So as I near my six month mark of the rest of my life, I find that I am energized beyond my wildest expectations. I have finished my book, am two thirds through my second, have an idea for my third. I am bravely going to share my work out loud and if there is no interest by publishers or agents, I will self-publish and keep moving on.

I am learning French five minutes a day with Duolingo in hopes that I will live long enough to exchange homes with someone in a French speaking part of the world.

I am learning to paint with acrylics, a bright and flexible medium.

And I am sitting, talking, and just being with people who know that they only have six months or less to live. What wonderful teachers.

And for my obituary, I am trying to get over the fact that I am a perpetual “emerging artist”, and am assembling a montage of my creations by year (if the various technologies developed during my lifetime will allow it.)

Thanks for accompanying me on this wild ride.

Shooting Star


In a month I will attend the Historical Novel Writers’ Conference in Portland. I was going to say that I’ve never done this before, but that is only partially true.

I haven’t attended a large writing conference before; however, I have pitched my writing A LOT! I have received many rejections and a few small successes. I have made up additional stories about my limited success — called excuses.

Now I am like a meteor shooting across the sky, ready to burn itself out in flash. When? I don’t know and neither do you. So we’d better get on with it.

Knowing that I am closer to death than to birth gives me great courage and energy. I’ve seen this in friends and now I understand it better. If not now, when? I guess today is the day.

Have a good one!

Connect the Dots

I’ve been musing about my blog. Although I am spending many hours each day on writing, I am not writing my blog. So how did I think writing was a good idea?
Those of you who get this — less than my fingers and toes — are like my guardian angels, always present but very quiet. So I will add you to the numerous guardian spirits who have influenced my life. Be prepared. I may communicate with you in the same way that I communicate with them — unless you have other preferences.

Why am I writing a blog? Because well intentioned friends said that it would help my social media presence.

Why do I need to increase my social media presence? Because a publisher is only interested in writers with an established audience.

Why do I need a publisher? Because I have finished book one of my trilogy, Carrot Seed Tea.

Why do I want people to read Carrot Seed Tea? Because Sarai is an interesting historical figure whose is given more press in the Bible than the Mary’s combined.

Why is Sarai relevant to today? Because she is buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs and was buried there FIRST.

Why was she buried there first? Because her husband paid a large sum of money for this site because she was a woman of status.

Why would a barren old woman be considered a woman of status? Because perhaps there is more to this story than the Bible reports.

What does Sarai have to do with Shamanic Kindergarten? Four thousand years ago people were strongly connected to Spirit. How did that work? I began to do research.

Was Sarai a “modern day shaman”? Yes, just like me.

Do I really need to write a blog? No. I think I need to do my spiritual work.


Back to cleasing our energy and others.

We Americans love to shower. Perhaps the main reason is that ad compaigns for various products have made us feel insecure about our very being, particularly the way we smell.

Dogs, on the other hand, LOVE the way we smell and the way other critters smell. Ambrosia.

I don’t think many of us get dirty enough to really need a daily shower. But there may be other subconscious reasons for this cleansing.

There have been times in my life, when another person’s energy has felt off, wrong, intrusive, or some other vague notion. But my gut pushes me into the shower to clean up nonetheless.

In my shamanic tradition, water is often used to cleanse tools, salt water seems to work better than clorinated water. How do I know? My “intuition” tells me.
April 10, 2017

The Word Shaman Makes Me Afraid

What is it about foreign words that make us squirm? Is it the same as saying I’m a Muslim? or I’m a Buddhist? or does it sound more like I’m a witch? or I’m the devil? or I’m evil?

The intent of my blog is to share some of what I know with others. I have been on a long spiritual journey, inside and outside of churches, in forests, by lakes, in and by oceans, on mountain peaks and in their valleys.

I have been in 12 Step recover since March 3, 1988. Many don’t want to enter the doors of these meetings for fear that the “God stuff” will be forced upon them. That is very far from the truth. In these meetings we all may find the “God of our understanding.”

Spiritual journey equates to healing journey. Shamanism is the same as ministry to myself and others. Shamanism is compassion for myself, others, and the world.

What is your word for it?


sage burning

One of the most frequently used tools to clear negative energy is smoke and incense. White sage is my favorite for the aroma it imparts. I light it, and it should extinguish itself. The smoke is what we are after. If it stops to smolder, that’s all right. Just re-light it and start again.

A fire proof dish to hold the burning material is needed for the sage. I like a large shell because it is a natural material, rather than human crafted. But I don’t recall ever hearing any rules. So much of what we know and learn in our shamanic studies comes from “intuition”.

Incense is also used. I like to put incense sticks in a container of rice. They are held easily and the fear of a fire starting is eliminated.

Buddhists use incense in much the same way that shamans use it. It is one of the many intersections that I see in the two practices.

In Christian churches a thurible is used to distribute the incense. (I love this new word to my vocabulary) “The word “thurible” comes from the Old French thurible, which in turn is derived from the Latin term thuribulum. The Latin thuribulum is further formed from the root thus, meaning incense. Thus is an alteration of the Greek word θύος (thuos), which is derived from θύειν (thuein) “to sacrifice”.[1] Wikipedia

It is difficult to find an ancient culture that has not used smoke ritually. Since shamanic rituals began around the fire, it feels like a natural extension.

What are your attitudes about smoke?

Filling Yourself With Light

While we are working with energy, we are also working with light. Sit comfortably. Relax your belly. Let your shoulders fall. Unclench your jaw. Breathe easily and softly. Close your eyes.

Body’s energy fields
Imagine a bright ball of light just above your head, or crown chakra. Slowly, imagine this light moving down to fill up your head.

Bring the light down into your throat. Feel its warmth. Expand the light into your chest. Notice your heart fill with this light. Pull the warmth and the light further into your body.

Slowly fill your arms and legs with this light. Let the light rest in your root Chakra. If you are sitting, connect this grounding energy to the floor and down into the earth.

Notice the spiritual connection. Expand this connection to everyone else near you, in the same home, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your state, in your country.

Try to expand your light and energy to include all beings, sentient and non-sentient.

Look with your inner eye and see if your can see the web of interconnection.

Share your experiences, even your frustrations.

Fluffing your Energy Body

In Shaman Kindergarten, we want to have our energy fields to be full and bright. Usually we met in a person’s home, seated on the floor, rather than around a campfire in the wilderness, which all shamans would prefer. So how do we transition to spiritual work in the city?

Sit quietly and breathe slowly. I always like to close my eyes. The better to see. Next we begin a breathing sequence that helps oxygenate the body and also helps to fluff our energy field.

INHALE two quick breaths through the nose, followed by one SLOW EXHALE through the mouth. Again. Again. Again. For about five minutes, or as long as you feel is right — all times being as one.

Now, read your body’s energy field with the back of your hand. It should feel like a puffed up egg with you in the middle.

If you are adept, you might find “holes” or “dark” places in your energy. If so, trying the breathing exercise again, paying particular attention to the areas of weakness,

Restoring Your Energy Body

Restoring your energy/energy body can be done in many ways. An easy way is to lie on the ground. There is nothing like it. We, in the United States, have been brought up in cities and instructed to “stay clean.” My cousins on the farm could frolic in the mud and muck. They weren’t afraid of getting dirty nor of the rain.

Playing in the rain is restorative. Water has so many cleansing effects. One of my fondest memories was camping in a torrential rain. The rain fly was filling with water. So rather than get our PJ’s wet, we stripped down and dumped the water. Once out in the dark in the midst of the rain, we became giddy kids again.

Connecting with Mother Nature in any way restores the soul. A forest of redwoods. A Hawaiian beach. A city lake. A backyard. A city park. A farm. A desert. A mountain. A rocky perch.

Where do you restore your soul?