Holi – The Festival of Colors

The three of us, Cindy, Natalie and I have a strange relationship with this Indian festival of color. Natalie and I have been to a local festival, it is making and appearance in a novel the three of us are writing together, and we’re all planning on going to the festival this year. For some reason, it speaks to our collective soul.

Imagine our surprise when a follower contacted us and asked to write about it for the blog. We were thrilled. Anuj Kumar lets us in on the beauty and meaning of this fun celebration of life, spring, and human togetherness.Holi

Holi – The Festival of Colors

Holi began as a festival celebrated, like many others, as a commemoration of a mythical event. For some, it signifies the victory of good over evil, and for others, the celebration of love. It is one of the few Indian festivals which has widespread international appeal.

Holi-OneThis is probably because of how inclusive and simple the revelry is. It involves throwing colored powder and water on pretty much everyone celebrating. There’s no competition, no rules, just pure countrywide enjoyment – which means hundreds of millions of people taking part at the same time!

Holi is one of the most famous Indian festivals, with major celebrations happening in over ten countries. These include India’s neighbors like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as countries around the world like the UK, USA, Guyana, Suriname, and South Africa.

These countries have large Indian populations that celebrate it, and the local population joins in. The inclusiveness of the festivities has helped it spread beyond India’s borders, by bringing in a spirit of oneness and equality. In fact, some new countries even have their own ways to celebrate Holi, adding to the gamut of traditions that make up this now international festival.

As much as it has spread, the merriment cannot match the massive scale at which it is celebrated in India. As such, there are many Indians outside that miss the unbridled spirit behind the revelry, just as much as they miss their loved ones back home. There are, however, workarounds coming up. Smartphone apps like iHoli allow them to take photos of themselves, and add splashes and smears of color, and send these colored photos to loved ones!holi10

Though it’s based on Hindu mythology, it has the power to bring people of all religions together, in ways unlike any of its counterparts. It’s only a matter of time before Holi is as ubiquitous the biggest festivals of the world, with it’s new, unique traditions mushrooming as communities make it their own.

Anuj Kumar is an app-freak. He is very keen to try out the new exciting apps. Be it Windows, iOS or Android – all the platforms are a matter of interest to him.”

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

Dreaming Together

Happy Thursday Firefans,

If you’ve been with us for awhile, and especially after the last couple of weeks you have probably realized now that our group is…slightly erratic to say the least. Or rather, chock-full of ups and downs. Last week, Natalie basically made a proclamation for the universe to “bring it on.” In this Monday’s Moxie post, Lori let go of some pretty major emotional baggage. After a half-summer of soul searching, and deep in the throes of a nasty summer flu, I woke one morning and found myself nothing left to write. And in this one very extremely long, scorching mid-July week, we have all uttered the same words.

“I give up.”

We are tired for reasons that are very different, and yet oddly parallel. Like everyone else on earth, there are some days we just want to quit. Everything.

And yet…even at the lowest of low, even in the darkest of voids, there is magic. It lives amidst and among our group. It lingers behind each spoken word and floats between the lines of what we write.

It showed up this morning, in a private message conversation between Lori and I. She sent me a small section of a book she was reading, Emily of New Moon. It said:

It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.

That passage she sent was followed by her comment. “This is why we keep writing. This is what we must share.”

I told her I was glad she shared and asked if I could borrow the book. I needed a new one to take on an upcoming vacation. A very long vacation I wasn’t sure I wanted to take.

 And then in the conversation that followed, this incredibly magical, beautiful dream happened between us. We’re going to share it with you, let you just ever so slightly peek inside our heads to see the magic that keeps us going…as writers, as women, as close friends. As sisters.

Hope you enjoy,

~Cindy

****

Lori: When we get old, we’ll have a real vacation without children…in nature…away from everything except tea.

Cindy: and sea.

Lori: I know just the place. It’s on the outer banks, surrounded by water, shaded by trees.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds perfect. Lets live there.

Lori: We can. It’s lovely. Old small towns on the edge of the United States, tall trees, sandy beaches and ancient stories.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds like home to my soul.

We will bring old books and lavender tea. Lots of spiral notebooks and colored pens. A cat or two for comfort. Listen to classical music. And ride bicycles with baskets…

Lori: We’ll go barefoot and get up early to watch the dolphins swim just off the coast every morning.

One morning we’ll find a canoe sitting on the beach. We’ll fearlessly climb in and head out to the sunrise to see the dolphin up close. They’ll swim right beneath us. We’ll get an occasional splash from the young ones who leap out of the water to get a closer look at us.
Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Cindy: Dolphins. *sigh*

dolphinsCindy: We will wear big hats and own just a few long sundresses for summer, which we will hang out on a laundry line to dry in the fresh sea air. In the winter we will stoke fires and wear Irish sweaters and…EAT.

Homemade stew with every fresh vegetable imaginable. And fresh baked bread. And triple chocolate brownies.

Lori: We’ll learn how to make grits, cornbread and beans.

We’ll string fairy lights on every tree that will stand still and our neighbors will think we’re witches.

Cindy: Fairy lights. Yes. There will be so many fairy lights.

tree with fairy lightsCindy: And the very brave souls will come to our door and ask if we are…magic. And we will say yes and smile and send them away with warm soup and fresh bread and a brand new spiral notebook. Because only we can know that they are magic too.

Lori: Our grandchildren will come and visit. We’ll tell them stories about brave men and women so that they are prepared to face the world. But we’ll also tell stories of magic and light so that they know how to find it in their lives. We’ll cuddle, feed and educate and they will leave feeling fresh and renewed.

Our children will harbor within themselves a secret faith in magic that carries them through hard times. They’ll always know where they can come to renew their faith in all that is good…because we have been through tough times and found the light and are prepared to share it with them.

A Little Bit of Nothing

The post we received from our guest blogger, Margo Loftus, started a conversation in the group about the things that mean a lot to us even though they are small and seemingly insignificant.

I thought that, in the spirit of “Nothing” I would share a small experience I had…

My sister came home. She’s been living in another state for over a year, and has just moved back, she brought with her two beautiful, enchanting girls and one handsome and loving husband.

Her husband and his girls immediately fit into our, somewhat unbalanced family. He was funny, engaging, forgiving and kind and the girls are a reflection of those values.

One day last week, my sister and her family stopped by my house after spending much of their day unpacking. My children played with her children, and chaos reigned (as it usually does at these family get-togethers.)

Maybe not exactly like this.

Maybe not exactly like this.

My readers must understand that I have four children, my home is lived in and comfortable, at no time would Better Homes and Gardens come to ask organization advise from me or take photographs of my home. (Read…her house looks like a landfill.) To add to the mess, my 3 year old has some large flash cards which she loves to play with. To her they are not flash cards, they are confetti, paper airplanes, skis, stepping stones and anything else that involves throwing them all over the floor.

My new Brother – in – Law, after visiting for a few moments assisted my 3 year old in flash cardscollecting her flash cards and putting them back on the book shelf. This is a task I do multiple times a day, and having him take on that small task, was such a relief. It seems like such a simple thing to pick up flash cards, but to a busy mom who does it several times a day, it was a blessing.

So thank you New Brother – in – Law!

Please stay tuned for the rest of the month, we will be discussing our goals and Beltane, but I will try to keep you posted on the great “Nothings” that happen in my life.

Weird Cats I Know

There once was a cat,

Named Pickerie Pat,

Who didn’t believe in Santa.

There once was a cat,

A weird-o in fact,

Named I Like To Pee In My Pantsa.

Now one faithful day,

When these two cats met,

They met up with Pablo and Pattie Purr Pet.

What’s weird to you,

I think is fine.

Those cats are all mine.

 cats

By: Erin Jones: Hi! I’m Erin and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cats so much. When I got the idea of typing stories and stuff I couldn’t wait to type cat stories. But when I read a Dr. Seuss book that had the best little poems in it I couldn’t wait to type a cat poem. One crazy thing is I’m only 7 ½! Crazy, huh? So one day when I was working on my 2nd cat story I remembered the little poems and rhymes that made me want to write little poems and rhymes, too. Sense I couldn’t get cats and weird stuff off my mind I had to write a poem about cats. Bye!