spiralflames: (question)

coeur de lis77, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

The other day I was thinking about photography, and what makes someone a "good" or "talented" photographer. I was thinking that in many ways, you just have to SHOW UP..beauty and interest are already all over. Point. Shoot. Enhance with the computer, since darkrooms are no longer necessary. Pinch. Tweak. Get a good camera, if you can afford one. World changing events have been captured on cell phones.

The flower's already there. I just record it at a certain moment in time. There's no "me" included. I'm just the historian.


So now why not the same simplicity in music. Beethoven's there, perfect, already. I just have to observe, and bring my skill as an observer into my mind's "dark room" to make the silent notes speak.

My "issues" shouldn't make a damn bit of difference, any more than my "issues" influence your enjoying the lily pictures I've been posting.

Lily is perfect. Beethoven too. I don't take a lily photo, copy it, color it, cut and paste it by hand and glue it to a board so it can be really, REALLY strong.

Watch. Be there. Don't screw w things. It's already perfect.

spiralflames: (power)

3/18/11, mpls mn "supermoon"1, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

something pretty important happened to me last night.

the 3rd saturday of each month is drum circle at pathways. this circle is always different. sometimes 4 people, sometimes 20. sometimes almost complete silence, other times talking long into the evening. sometimes it's sweet, occasionally profound, sometimes church-like (you know, "i didn't get much out of that, but somehow i feel better for going.") oh well, not everything can always be earth-shaking. anyway, this circle has been ongoing for over 20 years, with various people showing up and dropping out along the way, and i have been a part of it for over 4 years now. i started going when i was about halfway through chemo.

part of the time is spent in journeying- people are to remember their entrance into a scene from nature, and ask their spirit guides to give them wisdom or insights for themselves or for someone else in the circle who's asked for healing. myself, since to be honest that's not so much a part of my spirituality, i usually spend the time in meditation or just plain blessed quiet. sometimes i seem to have a definite thought about someone's question. usually, just calm. after awhile, we're to announce if we have messages for anyone in the circle.

in the "request" portion, before the journey, i'd decided to speak up- lately, i've been having a mild case of PTSD. all the time i was in the hospital and going through 2 yrs of chemo, i was a rock- on the conveyor belt, no problem, just do it, get 'er done. NOW i'm 5 years cancer free-- thank You-- and the last 3 times i've gone to a doctor, i've had huge anxiety reactions- shaking, sweating, dizzy to the point of almost passing out. this happened even when i went to my PCP to see if i needed antibiotics for my bronchial flu! when the nurse tookmy BP, it was 190/110, for goddess' sake! (after exam- 120/70, which is fine, but no WONDER i'd been dizzy, my bod thought it was stroking out!)

so i decided i'd ask for insights and practical suggestions.

timothy, the circle's leader, told me that he'd like to do a Soul Retrieval for me. according to shamanic tradition, when a person goes through trauma, parts of her soul are taken from her, and must physically be brought back. in tim's journey, he'd seen a girl in a white dress standing outside of the circle. he asked her who she was, and she'd replied, "i am nan's vulnerability."
well, that made me get weepy, since...vulnerability? oh HELL no. not only in my personal life ("you think you can hurt me, asshole? no fucking way") but during my medical crisis- i HAD to just get on that bus and ride forward, because if i let myself think of how truly terrifying it all was, i would have run away and just kept on running.

and that, of course- pushing the RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! feelings that any person has when faced by a slobbering tiger, leads to PTSD.

so. with my permission, he came over to me and said he was going to "blow" the missing piece back into me through my Upper Heart chakra, and then again through the top of my head, so i'd really "get it." he made a cone of his hands and blew his breath hard, twice. by that time, tears were running down my cheeks big-time.

13 yr old girl standing on the sidelines? that's my young self..and about the last time i was truly idealistic and thought there really could be love in my life. vulnerable? me? not even a little bit. maybe it culminated in the early 90s when online chat brought a handful of profound, miserable, married men into my life who promised, one quote i'll never forget, that we would "always be in love, always be friends, never be alone." uh huh. one gave me an engagement ring (oh the humanity) and made a wedding date..by then the kids would be grown and he could, oh yeah, THAT little thing, get divorced. yuck.what a sap i was. and don't even get me STARTED talking about my Ex. really. don't.

silly girl, long ago. no longer- but i'd also shut down a large part of me- the healthy part that still hopes, even expects, that new possibilities can also (gasp) be good things.

but vulnerability? ok. now how the hell do i deal with that and not turn into a victim?

well, grasshopper..perhaps by actually being a grown-up...knowing i can be vulnerable, because that's really the only way new adventures happen, that i CAN still be hopeful- for myself, for love, for my healthy future, for music, for my own good work- but not be a an idiot and a SAP. being vulnerable does NOT mean BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF, nor does it mean suspending responsible judgment. it was essential to not be terrified and freaked out every time i went into chemo- sometimes ya just gotta get stuff done. and i have to deal with the physical manifestations of that now. but i DON'T have to allow myself to volunteer for situations that are dead in the water before they even start. vulnerability is NOT interchangeable with VICTIM mentality or pure IDIOCY.

i can acknowledge reality and STILL be vulnerable. i don't need to shut off myself, my friends, my family, or other possibilities that might arise in my still-to-be-discovered young-nan-life. i just don't have to be so black-and-white, either/or. some things ARE scary. it's OK to be scared. i CAN go into uncharted territory. but i can also rely on myself, my spirituality, my friends, my teachers and my Own Good Brain and spirit to give me strength when i need it, and that it will be All Right.

thank you, timothy. what a gift.


spiralflames: (waiting)

nanpiano2...for duets, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

my sister told me i have rewritten a story in my akashic records, whatever they actually are.

dream: i dreamt i was chased through hallways, up and down blocks, in and out of rooms and houses, by nazis. opening one door, seeing a nazi face, turning the opposite way...getting to the end of a hallway, feeling a moment of relief..then a door opens... yeah, regular 1940 style nazis.

note: this is in no way a part of my or my family's heritage.

after awhile, i met a woman who, in the dream, kept morphing back and forth between two women i consider to be the epitome of grace and loveliness, my departed friend marion and my current friend betsy. she/they said, you know, you can rewind this entire tape, and see that the events aren't scary at all, and that there never were nazis, it was all an adventure."

then it reversed super-fast (like rewind on an old VCR video, it all went backwards (running backwards etc...until i was at the beginning. and the same chase began- in and out doors, in and out of houses, up and down blocks...but this time i was playing, having FUN and i was shrieking- not from fear, but from joy and excitement, the way happy kids do. the same scenes, the same doors and windows- sans nazis.
patty said, "you've re-written YOUR STORY. you've actually rewritten the story of your past."


and you know what? they might NEVER have been there.

nansunset2: canvassy, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (wise_words)

the Dude Abides1, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

have a photo of the Dude.

below is a copy of the email i wrote julie benac, who designed and created the Dude.


thought this might interest you, and explain a bit why i hold you so dearly in my thoughts.

in 2004, for christmas, i bought 2 of your long kimonos. one was a navy blue/dark green/white celestial robe w/a huge darker sun on the back. the second was bright red, yellow, orange stars on black, huge stars on the front and a HUGE yellow sun on the back.

i planned to wear them, over plain black pants/black tunic, for a solo piano recital i was to give that spring, which would have been spring 2005.

in january 2005, i quit playing piano altogether, became very ill, and finally spent 51 days in the hospital, culminating in a diagnosis of stage IV ovarian cancer. they removed a 42 lb tumor from my gut. recovery entailed 3 months in a nursing home regaining my strength. i started playing the piano again, a bit, but i couldn't get back on that 'conveyor belt' which would have resulted in that concert i had planned to wear what became known as "the modified Dude" (navy blue Sun) and "the FULL Dude!" (orange-red-yellow Sun.)

the 2 Dudes have hung from hangers on a hook on my bedroom door until this week-end.
This weekend, i took part in a summer solstice drumming/meditation/storytelling/celebration. i'm part of a women's a cappella singing group called The Idisi. we were to wear all black/dark colors in the first part, to symbolize the winter/crow/hawk and old stories, and then, after intermission, to come out in yellow-red-orange, to symbolize the marigold, sun, summer, joy, and new stories that we can choose which will change our patterns and change our lives.


julie, i cannot tell you how happy i was: to be cancer-free for FIVE YEARS now- which had a statistical probability of TEN PERCENT- to be making music (piano-wise, working on a concert and CD recording project) and singing with this incredible, happy, loving, awake, aware group of goddesses.

when i walked out there wearing the Full Dude, it represented my joy, my LIFE, and the amazing blessings i have been given. i also realized i'd had to really wait until i felt secure enough to know i could PULL OFF wearing the Dude..it's a pretty awesome and awe-inspiring creation.

your designs have come to represent sun, light, victory and LIFE to me.

thank you.

nancy t

the Dude Abides2, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (thinking)

realized last night that it is counter-productive, and contra-LIFE, contra-HEALTH, to "try" not to be angry when things PISS ME OFF. that's just STUFFING and IT CAUSES CANCER.

it's a far cry from either not being angry (not sweating the "little things") as the cliche' goes, or being righteously angry (even jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple "ye generation of vipers!") and then LETTING IT GO.

we live, we learn.

spiralflames: (Default)
drum circle. goddess energy. many happy, loving, un-self-conscious people. this is good.

spiralflames: (??)
first, me in my cool new glasses. (self-diss edited out) i LOVE me some new shades!
nan's new shades2
DST is kicking my ass..can't quite figure out why a one-hour time change should cause me to be frustratingly awake at 4:30 AM. argh! i am loving the later sundowns, however. when it's dark early, both my students and their teacher are tired and crabby. what animals we really are, so influenced by light and dark!
triple woo-woo weekend ahead: drum circle on friday, pathways drum circle on sat, singing goddesses on sun. life is good!
buffalo lake, wright co MN w/beached car
spiralflames: (scenery)

today: bright sun. huge heaps of snow have melted. 1st day of time change means later sunsets. lakes opening soon. summer's afoot!
last night i went to a PARTY. damn! it's been ages since i went to a gathering of people who were somewhat dressed up, festive, offering food and drink! verna decided to make a Large Cake in celebration of my 5 yrs cancer-free. it was an interesting and diverse crowd- my sister-warrior and her usually-silent husband, who got into animated conversation (!) with a nun, who HAPPENED to be the COUSIN of my friend john, who hadn't seen her since they were children (!), evelyn, who is so beautiful and radiant that you just want to take her face in your hands and give her a kiss, linda, who's had an incredibly challenging life and is doing Amazing Things now, lori who's always sweet, frank who's Mr Personality and T who's more to herself, 2 cats vaulting around underfoot..it was WONDERFUL.

there are PEOPLE in my life. there are THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO GO, singing women who make me happy, spiritual things that don't seem intrusive or judgmental, energetic things that seem positive, and NEW GLASSES which allow me to...SEE CLEARLY for the first time in years.

spiralflames: (heart)
wisconsin hwy 35...lake pepin3
last saturday, i went over to http://pathwaysminneapolis.org/ for the first time in a few months, and took my friend franklin along with me. he's been experiencing some setbacks lately- job etc- and i thought giving him some new energy would be a Good Thing.

this month, the group was HUGE- it's been anywhere from 4-10, generally. there were probably 20 people there, about half of them newbies. the general vibe was the best of pathways- accepting, mellow, loving, non-judgy. one man who's been there often, but never said a word, said, when introducing himself, (he's korean and new to english) "i walk in and just think WOW...i look at all friends, and WOW...i look here, see smiling faces, i think WOW..i think HOME."

wow. home. what more can a person ask? i mean, really.

we drummed, and with all the people there, it made a mighty noise. we sang (which is usually puny) and there was richness and improvised harmony. (!)

at the end of the meeting, we did a "push through" for a woman whose mother had died suddenly- this is a way for the survivor to say goodbye to their loved one, and for whatever parts of the loved one's spirit that still remains here, to go on to Whatever's next. in this, the person stands in front, then in back of her, 2 people, then three, then four etc etc, a standing triangle, all with our hands on the shoulders of the people in front of us. someone drums very slowly, and then the person is ready, she gently extends her arms out, 'helping' the departed one to move along- or helping herself, who knows. then the drum stops. somehow, the person's emotions are transferred row by row..you can always feel the shoulders of the person ahead of you, shaking.

what a privilege, and totally without artifice.


Oct. 18th, 2009 01:28 pm
spiralflames: (random_1)

autumn light5 (detail2), originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

yesterday, i had an exorcism/closure ritual.

i liked it. we're going to do it again, quarterly.

the church where i teach has a fire pit in the side yard- benches around a place that's safe for burning stuff.

fire pit, MUMC, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

i haven't been able to quit obsessing over the Studio and how the BigBoob screwed us all over, so i decided i needed to have a ritual. i invited 4 other women, with the instruction that they should either think or write out something they needed to get OUT of their lives- to not allow that person/event/job/relationship etc to continue to have power in your life. if we had an item representing the situation, we could burn it- or otherwise, just burn the paper we wrote on. i wrote on some Studio letterhead.

surprisingly, the burning wasn't easy- it was windy, it was hard to get the matches to light. it was sort of cool-- getting rid of something that's made you miserable IS HARD WORK sometime.

but sooner or later, the papers were burned and the ashes were stomped on-- at first, i just did it to make sure the fire was out, but realized that STOMPING SOMETHING INTO THE GROUND has real, visceral satisfaction.

so we're going to do it quarterly.

it was Good Work.


Aug. 14th, 2009 11:36 am
spiralflames: (the_soul)

there's a wonderful episode in the original Star Trek called "the empath."

you remember: the mute woman (don't get me started) who touches someone, takes their pain/injuries on to herself, becomes their pain, and the person is healed.

but- and herein lies the lesson- after her face becomes ravaged with the other person's pain, she then releases that pain from herself- because, of course, she couldn't keep collecting all the hurt from all the people she has contact with.

i think i'll leave it at that rather than stating the obvious at solipsistic length.

i have some work to do.


spiralflames: (goddess)

made a phonecall to http://www.pathwaysminneapolis.org today. they put out their brochure of classes and services 6x a year, and in casual reading, i always find at least a dozen typi or misspellings. so i volunteered to proof their copy before it goes to print. they accepted immediately and didn't ask what my qualifications were..but i suppose they can always reject my corrections if they want. i've been taking classes at *P for 3 years now, so i felt i owed them some kind of volunteer work. they really provide amazing services, and all free of charge.
i also talked to the associate director about offering a class there this next year- marilyn and T and i would like to give a class called "the practical goddess- bringing the Crone into the world"- and guide people through the process we went through when we planned our Crone ritual. 3 sessions- 1) archetypes (maiden, mother, crone) 2)writing your Statements and planning ritual and 3)croning ceremony where each woman reads her statement, takes her Goddess name, and speaks as a Crone. could be pretty powerful.
am doing some teaching in august. usually, i take it off, but since i'm working at the Studio and don't seem to have any real vacation, decided i might as well teach those who were interested, which was a surprisingly large amount. i have to figure out how to get some piano practice back into this Nan's life..my studio work has taken my mornings out, and it's too brain-frying to do it at night...but it must be done... not going to lose my Skillz now...
a bit melancholy. i'd like to get PAID so i know my giving up my summer's free time hasn't been for naught. but generally? there are sunsets. life is good.
spiralflames: (Default)
it's taken me a week to get to the point where i could write about this without getting weepy.

last saturday was drum circle.
there were a number of people who were new to the group- 2 women sat quietly. one seemed very concerned with the other. when people were speaking one woman said she was a dominican nun, and she'd brought her sister to the group.
the sister said she'd had pancreatic cancer for two years, had just been told that chemo no longer was helping, and she needed a new focus- what to do, what to work on.
she was saying she needed to come to terms with the fact that she was going to be exiting this life and wasn't ready.
we drummed and sang for her. she lay on the floor and let the energy wash over her. then she said she wasn't feeling well and had to leave.
ginny, be blessed and easy in your travels.

spiralflames: (OvCa)

she dances, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

today my heart is full. three things, and i may or may not have detail later. first, re-connection with a friend from the past. second, amazing experience at drum circle last night. third, participation in a Croning ritual this afternoon where i will embrace the second half of my life. today will be the best day of my life so far.

wishing you the same.

spiralflames: (goddess)


last night was Drum Circle at http://www.pathwaysminneapolis.org . i always enjoy drum circle- it's a group of accepting people who are friendly but not too personal, there's an agenda so people can't digress into too much group therapy, there's dancing, feeble singing and drumming. i like it. last night nancy, who's been doing shamanistic study for years, was leading the group b/c timothy was away leading a fire-walk (i know..bear with me..roll those eyes BACK into your skull where they belong!)..i got to do the drumming for the long meditation time. i didn't know if i could keep it up. i counted sets of 60- it ended up being 2400 drum strokes in 12 minutes. i was proud of myself. and my drum set up overtones from the room so it sounded like the room's own heartbeat was beating.

next month, i'll be bringing T and M to drum circle for blessings- the 3 of us women are going to do a Crone Ritual the following day- walk a labyrinth in walking meditation, have a ritual ceremony, and go to dinner. this is a cool rite of passage, embracing my Inner Old Coot. i'm going to try to totally disable my cynicism, which actually is just a sham anyhow..i'm really a sentimental, gentle sap at heart. :-D

below is the labyrinth i've found- by a pond, in a park. lovely.

labyrinth5, edina MN, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (spiral)

good morning. have a photo of my back yard.
ok, ok, it's from port of valdez in alaska.

friday night, i attended an introduction to shamanism class at http://pathwaysminneapolis.org. i have to admit i had a rather skeptical attitude towards this endeavor, thinking "all righty then, here's another attempt to distill a profound situation into an evening." i have to remind myself that these mini-courses are just what they say they are- introductions. it's up to each person to ready, study, take classes, whatever, to learn in depth. this way be deets )
spiralflames: (trees)

m'haha park historical house, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

first, have a photo of First Snow from Minnehaha Park, a few blocks from my house. this is one of the 200 year old oaks that literal tree-huggers climbed up, hung slings, and slept in, to protest some of the trees being chopped down to make way for the new light rail tracks. sacred native land, this, along the banks of the mississippi river.
things i'll speak of tomorrow when i have sleep and measurable brain cell activity:
1)the Introduction to Shamanism class at http://pathwaysminneapolis.org
2)what i want to be when i grow up
3)how to process this afternoon's..umm activities.

now to bed before i drop.

PS tomorrow the temp's supposed to drop 30 degrees and it's supposed to rain, sleet, snow, and/or blizzard.
or not. gotta love minnesota.
spiralflames: (trees)

buffalo lake trees2, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

fooling w/photos this morning..couldn't quite get this one to speak until i tried it black and white. color-wise, it was all washed out because of the bright sun, but there was something about those solid trunks that kept me from hitting 'delete', which is still my Editing Tool of Choice.

today promises to be mellow- date with dad (who evidently announced to my sister, without preamble, "i want you to get down on your knees for me." thank all that is holy, it turned out that he'd dropped some meds and they'd rolled under his bed. yes, virginia, there IS a god.), coffee w/ csg, 'introduction to shamanism' class at pathways. gotta love entire world religions summed up in an evening, for those of us On The Go. (insert slight sarcasm here.)

life is good.
spiralflames: (mandala)

hard at work (cropped), originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

it was good getting back to Drum Circle at pathways last night. it's interesting- this has become my Church, in a basic way- a place where i can come in whatever state i am, physically, emotionally, spiritually. there will always be a place for me, although they notice if i'm gone. i can remain silent or i can speak, i can dance or sing if i want to. sometimes i'm given advice, sometimes i just take away silence and acceptance. everyone is appreciated for who they are in that moment.

why i have i never, EVER, been able to feel this way after visiting a formal church. why do i ALWAYS feel a sense of obligation, heaviness, "idontwannagotoschoolmommy" when i DO go to a formal church. why do i ALWAYS feel that everyone ELSE is a member of some closed society, and nobody's given me the password.

i'd say it was Just Me (many things are)...except that i go to drum circle..and it's different...
spiralflames: (healing_chakra)
wednesday, i had a Healing Touch session at http://www.pathwaysminneapolis.org/ . for some reason, i found this provider's touch particularly nurturing..rather than placing her hands on top of the body in what i'm starting to know as the basic healing touch positions, she would place on hand underneath, and one hand on top. this woman had serious energy going- i swear her hands would heat up so much it was almost uncomfortable. she spent a lot of time on my knees, and extra time on my throat/collarbone area. when i left, i was comfortably woozy-spacey.

i don't know what i really think of healing touch, other than it's been done in one way or another since biblical times ("laying on of hands")..and hospitals are now admitting certified healing touch practitioners into patients' rooms as part of their treatment and pain management.

all i know is..gives me the warm fuzzies :-D


spiralflames: (Default)

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