Glennie Vandevier Cline Carpenter Boyd

Age 13Suzannah in 1959, age 13
Grandmother! The vivacious woman with a ready smile, nice enough to have three husbands. She outlived the first two and we all expected that she would outlive the third. But what we wish and our experiences don’t always match.

As a child she taught me how to sew plaid skirts with box pleats and matched plaids. I used this same technique this Halloween for my Wonder Grandmother costume, since my Wonder Woman figure is long gone. She also taught me to knit. My first, and only, oil painting was done at her home over a vacation there.

She also taught me about money management. As a child I would overhear adult conversations about her Investment Club. My guess is that this is during Marriage #2. With #1 she raised children, managed a household, was active in church and, I’m sure, philanthropic organizations suitable for a woman born in 1899.

But she had an inheritance from her first marriage and I know that she and Tom, #2, worked to keep their finances and bequests separate, so as not to alienate any of the younger generation. It is interesting what children absorb. I need to remember this as my grandchildren sit quietly at the table just listening.

So Grandmother Glennie taught me that women were capable of handling money, making decisions about money, and could be independent of the men they loved.

The Gift of Music – Jeanette Groff

piano keyboard

Down in the basement of our elementary school was the music room where Miss Groff presided. She was prim, with a dark bun wound tightly at the base of her neck. In her space we learned to sing, learned about reading music, and learned to play the tonnettes, a type of flute suited to elementary school students.

The Indianapolis Symphony also supported a program called The Music Memory Program. Each year a variety of music was chosen. Lower grades learned to recognize only a few songs, but as we progressed the list grew longer. We needed to be able to recognize the piece, its composer, and its various themes. I enjoy classical music today because of this introduction.

As with many things in school we were tested. The reward for many of us with high scores throughout the city was to have a final exam in a large auditorium with the symphony playing live. It was thrilling. Thank you Jeanette Groff for the gift of music.

Defining A Life

This is an impossible task, an improbable goal, and an exciting challenge. Our “One Year to Live” class which meets monthly has given us seven Life Review Tasks. These came from Stanford University. Learn more here.

I have begun with Task One. Acknowledging people in your Life.

Where to begin? With Mother, of course.Barbara Cline Martin

The one who births you, gives you life, nurtures you, has to be top of the list of important people in my life. Our temperaments were different. She was vivacious, outgoing, party loving, and friendly. She had help with housework and spent many hours volunteering at numerous philanthropic organizations. She was the scout leader for me and my sister. Her generosity of time and spirit were loved by all.

She was the one who comforted me when a high school club didn’t choose me the first year, and who gave me the courage to quit its nonsence when they did choose me the second year.

It was Mother who said “You can be anything, do anything you set your heart on.” I didn’t always believe her. But she was the one who battled counselors for my right to become a doctor rather than a nurse. I didn’t become either, but her support was important.

Mother also worked with her hands. She sewed clothes, knitted sweaters, needlepointed pillows and created craft projects for Brownies and Girl Scouts. So much of what I know how to do began with her skills.

Mostly her support was silent. I longed for her approval. Seldom did she ask me about my life as an adult. But I know she reported proudly about me and my children.

Those moments of disapproval are more memorable. Like the time my clothes for a multi-generational family portrait were not “right.” I changed into my sister’s dress and even her shoes. Today I would say what I couldn’t say then: that doesn’t work for me.

She died at 72. Now that I am 71, that age seems so young. In the last twenty years there have been many moments I have wished to share with her. She is with me in so many ways. I wish we had been able to push away the barriers while she lived.

We know her Name!

En-hedu-ana, or variants;[1] fl. 23rd century BC)[2] is the earliest known poet whose name has been recorded. She was the High Priestess of the goddess Inanna and the moon god Nanna (Sin) in the Sumerian city-state of Ur and the daughter of Sargon of Akkad.[3]

Wikipedia and numerous other sources

Biblical Sarai was said to come from Ur. Is it possible she was a poet? Perhaps she was trained in the temple to the moon deities.

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?