Beltane

bonfire

This has been a long time in coming. We’ve promised, several times, to let you know what it was that we have learned this summer. We’ve all been so busy applying what we’ve learned that we haven’t actually had time to write about it on the blog. (Although, there has been PLENTY of writing about it.)

Our lessons came in a few, somewhat insane, highly symbolic, events.

By the end of winter, all of us had become aware of significant doubt, pain, and regrets that we each felt within our hearts. It was a difficult winter for each of us in different ways. Our desolation and heartache were keeping us from becoming who we needed to be. We had lost ourselves somewhere in the past. All of us could see it in the others, but somehow missed it in ourselves.

Natalie came to us with the notion of Beltane (Pronounced: BEY-al-TIN-ah). It’s a Celtic holiday which celebrates the coming of summer and new growth. We didn’t need the growth of crops, however, we needed to expand our souls. We needed to let the things from the past fall away, and to encourage our spirits to move on to the next part of who we were to become.

We formed a plan. In the weeks leading up to Beltane, we each thought about what we wanted most in life. We were to gather pictures of the things we wanted most and put them in a vision board, the desires of our inner selves made manifest in photos.

Our vision boards became a topic of discussion every time we were together. It wasn’t unusual to hear, “Ooo! I want to put that on mine!” Nor, was it unusual for us to stalk people, houses, and things, snap pictures, and find a place for it on our vision board. The beauty of this exercise was that we were limited only by our imaginations. (With a group of writers, imagination is abundant.)

Traditionally, there would be a bonfire at a Beltane. We decided that we would write down those things which we needed to let go, past injuries, regrets, unhealthy desires and we would throw the list into the fire. We wanted to begin letting go of the negativity in our lives by watching it go up in smoke – literally.

It was all wonderfully planned.

However, something was missing.

We needed to do something symbolic to remind ourselves to let our dreams grow, to pay attention to the whisperings of our souls. My Aunt, who is in tune with our little group even though she lives in Wales, suggested that we plant our vision board in a pot and let it nourish a plant. Our dreams would feed the plant just as they feed us. As we tended to the life of the plant, we would be reminded to tend to our dreams, keeping them alive as well.

The day of our celebration came.

We lit a small fire and watched the flames ripple upward. We sat is silence. Each of us took a moment to reflect and release the sadness and suffering that had been plaguing us for decades. When we were ready, we tossed our list of troubles into the fire, watching the light catch hold of the the list. The paper blazed brightly, then turned to black ash, the fire easily dissolving our problems in its power.

Something similar happened in our souls as we watched them burn. It was as if a fire was rekindled in our own hearts. One that could envelope and destroy agony, defeat, and sorrow and empower us to LIVE.

It’s strange how one action, when done in the right moment, with the right people, can instil you with ancient knowledge, knowledge that has always been there waiting for you to see it.

We sat in silence for a few moments, lost in the freedom of purging such darkness from within ourselves.

One of us asked whether the others wanted to share our dreams. A discussion, which has never quite ended, began that night. We discussed our desires, and the things we felt that we were supposed to accomplish in this life. There were tears, encouragement and beauty as we began to realize all that we wanted lay at our fingertips. We came to understand that we were born to succeed.

The light began to die down and it came time to plant young, fresh, lavender with our vision boards. The soil seemed to clean our hearts as we gently tucked our vision in among the roots.

We departed in the enchantment that only comes in a May evening.

In the months since, we have continued to believe in ourselves. Something happened that night, an openness that was not there before. We know where we are going, we have faith in each other and in ourselves.

This was the beginning of the Summer of Magic. We have had to renew our commitment to our dreams. Occasionally had to readjust our lives to get back in line with what we want. But that night, among fire, soil and the beauty that is May, we gave ourselves over to what we could become.

There is power in letting go.

There is magic.

There is freedom.

There is love.

There is completeness.

MagicColor4

Top Ten Prompts to Inspire Creative Writing

If you’re a writer, an artist, musician or creative soul of any kind you’ve probably had those days when you just can’t produce anything worth… anything. The harder you try, the less effective you become and you get yourself into a ridiculously concrete mental block. It’s tough to pull yourself out of this phenomenon, and many times the feeling has negative effects in the rest of your life too.

As writers, we’ve found that completing writing prompts not only helps us get a fresh perspective in our writing, they open our minds in a myriad of other ways. The mental fog clears, and suddenly there are windows where there were once only walls.

These prompts our a few of our group’s favorites– and a few have even turned into some of our most beloved pieces. Give them a try, let us know how it goes, and we might even feature your response as a guest post!

Happy writing,

~C

10- They told her not to open the box…

9- You’re walking along a crowded street and an old woman hands you a brown paper bag. You take it from her and feel that it’s slightly weighted by whatever is inside. She smiles and disappears into the crowd. What is inside the bag, and what does it mean to you?

8-  This picture:

St. Etienne - Muse

7- Think of a character, either from a story you’re writing or a book you’ve read.  He/she has a favorite pair of shoes. Why are they special? Where did they come from? Where does he/she wear them? What stories go along with those shoes?

6- You wake up locked inside a closed coffin. Explain your initial reaction, how you attempt to escape, and what you remember about how you got there.

5- Find and buy (or take a picture of) an object at a thrift store, and write a short story or a scene around it. Below are some examples of objects we’ve used:

Vintage radiovintage gray tub

red high heelsrose colored glasses

4- You and your friends take a three mile hike up to a campsite and you’re sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows. Out of the blue one of your friends reveals a secret that turns your pleasant camping trip into a total nightmare…

3- Write a few paragraphs explaining how this picture came about, or what it represents:(image courtesy of www.vladstudio.com)

2- Write a story from the perspective of the family pet. The family is bringing home a new baby, going through a divorce, recently lost a loved one, the children are starting school, or they are moving across the country.

1- As a person or thing that inspires all your creativity and new ideas, your muse has been trying to contact you. Write a conversation between you and your muse. There are no limitations as to what he/she/it is, appears, or looks like. What does your muse want you to know? What is your reaction?

The End of Summer

This one is going to be short. Every member of the group is going through, what can only be described as, “The End of Summer.” We’re getting our children back to school, we’re writing schedules and organizing our homes to support the added burdens on our time. Some of us are starting school ourselves and realigning our lives to fit the time for further education.

It has been an eye opening summer. I think that this group will look back at it as the “Summer of Magic.” There has been a great deal of adventure and some heartache, but all of us have experienced a growth within our soul that can only happen in the shadows of fragrant summer nights and in the wilting heat of a hot summer day. Details are coming, and we will divulge all we have learned, but for now we are weary. Our spirits have been stretched to their limits and it’s time to let all of those things distil within us so that we can share them with you.

But I will tell you this:

  • People are amazing and kind.
  • Friends are found in the most unexpected places.
  • Hugs are healing.
  • Marriages can be saved.
  • Old friends can be found.
  • New friends can understand the core of you at your first meeting.
  • Death isn’t the end.
  • Love really is the answer to almost everything.
  • Summer nights are magical and fleeting.

And you, Dear Reader, are loved.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck by us through this interesting time. (especially two husbands who would prefer to remain in the shadows throughout the pages of this blog.) Thank you to all of our readers and followers.

And personally, I would like to thank the other women in this group. I love you and you have helped me to grow in ways I would have never imagined.

2013-07-22 21.32.42

Piece by Piece (Following Your Stupid, Stupid Dreams)

stupid dreamsThe above image was found by Cindy and it makes me laugh every time I see it because it is sort of the unofficial mantra of our group. Each of us in our own way has had to face life while forging ahead with our dreams and sometimes they do seem stupid. Really, really stupid. At times it seems like you’re actually moving backwards. Sometimes it seems as if you have to choose your actual real life (kids, work, marriage, friends) or choose to follow your dreams.

For example, while I was attempting to edit a book THIS happened:

1. Three year old asked if she can go downstairs and watch TV with the older kids. I told her yes. She left. I began to edit.

2. Responded to screaming from the basement because three year old saw a spider (which was actually just a tiny beetle.) Rescued three year old from “spider.” Got told, “MOM! Be careful! It’s going to bite you to death!”

3. Responded to husband who was disturbed by the screaming of the three year old. He had been sleeping after his late-night/early-morning shift. He told me the air conditioner he just installed was broken. Checked air conditioner only to realize that he was talking in his sleep.

4. Responded to screaming 6 month old. Realized that he has pooped clear up to his neck. While cleaning him up I reassured three year old that she hasn’t pooped. (She has a fear of poop.) Reassured her that she wasn’t messy even though she was looking at someone who was. She removed her clothes just to be sure.

5. After I finished cleaning up the six month old, I realized all the diapers were in my locked bedroom with my sleeping husband. Left naked, just-learned-how-to-scoot-around six month old and naked three year old to get diaper. Came back to living room to realize that six month old had scooted off of blanket onto hasn’t-been-vacuumed-since-yesterday-floor.

6. Unwound dog hair from six month old’s nether regions because he was naked on hasn’t-been-vacuumed-since-yesterday-floor. Put diaper back on.

7. Dressed three year old under protests that she had poop up her back. Wiped her back with wipes to appease her.

8. Carried her down stairs because she was certain that the “spider” would “bite her to death.”

9. Came back to dead computer.

10. I gave up for the day.

See, when all of that is going on my dreams seem a million miles away and very, very stupid.

But the fact remains, I was born to do this. I was born to absorb life, energy, and emotion. I am driven to ponder the meaning of life, find reason amidst the chaos, express it in beautiful terms and share it.

Since my life is lived by the seat of my pants, piece by piece, moment by moment, I’ve decided to make my Facebook statuses count. I’ve been attempting creative writing through my posts on Facebook. (See below.) I’ve decided to hone my skill post by post. Right now, that’s how my dreams make sense.

And so, I am going to attain my stupid, stupid dreams one moment at a time. And I suggest you work on your stupid, stupid dreams moment by moment too.

My attempt at living my dreams piece by piece (My recent Facebook statuses):

She climbs to the top of the slide with the strength only a child knows. Standing on the precipice, holding onto the bar, staring down, tiny fear thrills her heart. She’s never done it alone. She takes a deep breath and thrusts her body down the slide.
One more moment of growth, gone in an instant. One more fear evaporated.
Sometimes she feels as if growing up isn’t going to be so difficult.

Before she goes to bed, her three year old soul rushes to the open window.
“I need to fill my lungs with air,” she says and inhales the fresh night. Smiling, she peacefully slips into her bed.

My hair hangs down my shoulders, stringy and damp. I smell of sunscreen, chlorine, and sweat. My eyes burn and my muscles are tired. Children’s laughter still echoes in my mind as I caress my sleeping infant. Summer is tiptoeing out the door. Shorter days are ahead, days of books, lessons and discussions. But for now I’m going to soak up summer with my children. Time passes swiftly and my heart gently aches, knowing that these days will be gone.

We sat, we two, on cool iron cafe chairs as the fragrant night breezes washed away the cares of the day. We soaked in the deepening summer night, laughing at jokes understood by only a handful of people. The barista turned off the lights to remind us that we had responsibilities to attend. We wandered slowly to our cars and drove home to be greeted by the sounds of lazy summer crickets.

Wet scales. Wriggling bodies. Cold water. I had forgotten how beautiful it is to touch a wild animal that lives in a completely different world than I do. Connecting with alien life, alien life right here reachable and touchable. I’d forgotten, and I loved it.