THE CHARM CHEST IS CLOSED

Greetings,

Thank you for joining me on this short venture. I’ve taken the opportunity to refocus my efforts.  I’m moving my blog to my website SundayLarson.com.  There I will post snippets from my memoir in process, my 2016 focus.

In the meantime please read my monthly blog on http://discovertheregion.com/ based on my forthcoming novel A Fabulous Awakening.

Coming March 2016 (hopefully) Grounded – The Other Journey into Deep Sacred Space, a blog based on Sunday Larson’s memoir in process. The postings will chronicle the shared journey of a forsaken orchard, a woman who’d been taught to reach for the stars, and the dormant compost pile that became the muse and confidante she named She-Who-Changes.

An abundance of pluck was the only practical skill charm designer Sunday Larson had when left her marriage and purchased a ramshackle rental property situated on an urban acre of fruit trees. The journey betwixt and between the woman she’d been and the woman she would become thrust Sunday into the depths of herself, and her place. It required a large measure of pluck and persistence for her to stay and not stray, and an unwavering presence to dig deep and not uproot. But in her staying, her matrix became her muse.

As she dismantled the life she left behind, then gleaned the leavings to create a meaningful future, she drew upon her foremothers’ pioneering spirits. Inspired by their resilience and resolve, Sunday vowed to every woman in her lineage (her own council of grandmothers) that she would never give up, regardless of the sacrifice. For nine years she scrimped, sweated, mowed, planted, and stirred, while transforming the neglected property into a state of productive beauty.

Although Sunday had followed her father’s advice to reach for the stars, she was now following an ancient map that led her in another direction.

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The Stirring (of My Heart)

The Stirring

(an unedited entry from my memoir in process)

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Winter left two weeks ago.

I feel the stirring. A stirring of my heart. A stirring of the elements. Or perhaps the stirring is in my imagination, the fiery and fertile womb of creativity. My gateway to almost anywhere.

Radical in Latin: radicalis means “of roots” and radix means root. We remember that even in the depth of winter, the roots are riotous. We remember that the natural desert’s living communities have an underground rich with habitats, succulent roots, and secret springs.

Rumi reminds us that the garden does not lose its ecstasy in the winter. In the quiet the roots below are riotous. As Compostella rested, my roots reached deeper within her body. I met resistance at times. Holy resistance. That which forces one to pause, to be in the moment, to reconsider whether to construct or extract, to renegotiate the edge, to reconcile opposing forces, all before the inevitable push through. The pause is a stillpoint, a place of reentry, contentment, openness. I remain undecided if the pause, the breath fraught with potential, is the safest place or the most dangerous state of all.

Winter snow was sparse. Yet, growth for new bulbs is emerging, second by second, as if I am witnessing the break though, the instant of happening, the advent. My rhythms are tied to Compostella. Her changes run through me. I feel the same emergence happening within myself. Growth in spite of…not necessarily because of anything but a movement of the awakening light, a new focus, a new viewpoint.
Strata of offerings need stirred. But am I rushing the season? Winter might well return for a finale, as often happens. Am I rushing other aspects of my life, as often happens?

Today is my first official day working in the yard this season, a time much needed by my body and soul, making me feel enlivened. I spent time preparing the planting beds. The soil seems content after a long winter rest. I pondered the size of the rows. I decided I don’t agree with intensive planting. It asks Compostella to give too much. I believe her fertility should be used sparingly and gently.

After a long winter pause, my tools are readied for the season of hope, new seeds to plant, new dreams to give wings, an infusion of fresh clean energy. I love my new broad fork, it is the best tool yet. It pierces the soil gently, then lifts and breaks the heavy clods. If I rock the fork back and forth it loosens the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches.

As I pierce through soil, the container of history, and rotate my digging stick to the left and to the right, I break apart layers of humus, moldering matter and refined soil. I wonder how many imprints of heartbreak and resilience, of joy and quietude I’m ravaging with my effort to dig deeper into the mystery of Compostella, and into the unknowns that are layers of me. And I wonder if Compostella feels violated when tilled, turned, and otherwise invaded. I hope not.

Ravaged soil. Ravaged soul. Is there a difference? Both are experienced. Both are broken. Both are giving and receptive. Everything contains its own beginning and its own demise. Beginning or ending, all breakage initiates a new cycle.

There are times I imagine myself as figure crawling, my fingers digging into the underground, my tongue lapping and licking the soil for nourishment.
Have I overstayed my necessity?
~~~
It is the spring fling. Bright. Yellow. Flashy. Daffodil. Buttercup. A bit startling at times.

Forsythia appears, waving her lavish ‘see me see me see me, see my joy, see my thrill of living wands of wild, wanton, unruly eros.’

The alchemical heat of summer will bring a maturing of power. Yet the essence of springtime is youthful, indulgent, flamboyant, bodacious, and flirtatious.

A rusted, wood burning stove I placed in the corner of the goddess yard flaunts a garland of terra cotta pots filled with trailing scarlet red geraniums. A singular pot bears a fracture. Frozen soil is a still state, and yet the soil expands. The pot is made bigger for its brokenness. Broken apart it is opened wide, able to contain more. It reveals that all containers are the holders of suffering, and of joy. The cracks become filled with golden light, illuminating the path to our fabulous awakening.

Behind the stove are three weathered fence posts topped with papier-mâché skulls crafted in a January workshop. Found nests mark the entrances to imaginary wombs.

If I squint just a bit I can see Laverna standing beneath the tree of golden apples, again offering me fruit she plucked from the branches.

The past meets the future. Co-celebrate. Hold the difference in your hands.
Go toward, I keep hearing. One must live in service of waking up.
I so love the young idealist who entered these words in her journal, for in her mid-forties she still believes in the wisdom of her grandma.

Tossing more of our resources out the backdoor than we bring in through the front door is still a truism, wisdom shared by Laverna that I will repeat for the ages.

In looking back on ourselves, as a society it seems we will be evaluated by how we handle our garbage, our leavings, our discards. I choose to find beauty in the patterns, textures and processes of our food and garden waste. These are my found objects. I believe the profound impact of garden and home, the goods consumed and the manner of their disposal, has been underestimated in the shadow of big business.

My springtime project list is ambitious. However, once I make a commitment to Compostella I do not waver. This is my vow…more will be added, as always.

Install raised beds
Paint two cottages exterior
Organize greenhouse
Build fences in the outback
Redo kitchen floor with tile
New AC
Screen for front door
Chimes on doors
Make patterns on the doors with stones
Start micro herbs

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Sacrificing Sacred Cows

 

red boots

(The boots are not mine, but similar)

Sacrificing Sacred Cows, from my memoir in process.

At every crossroads there’s a sacrifice: the path not taken. Sacrifice can be a ritual offering of gratitude. Some difficult sacrifices are made for the better good of self or others. At times in life we make the choice of sacrifice for another. Other sacrifices are snatched from us.

My parents were California refugees. They left Gotham to raise their family on an ancestral cattle and horse ranch, home to champion appaloosa and thoroughbred horses. It was a life of privilege. But our bags remained half-packed, always in preparation of leaving the ranch.

Rather than become an attorney and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, uncle, and father, my father chose aeronautics as his life work. But, sadly, he allowed his grandparents to sway his commitment.
Aeronautics as a career or as a hobby was not acceptable to his grandparents. They had already lost their son, my grandfather, at age thirty, when he downed his plane over Texas. He left behind two children, my father being the eldest.

A deal was struck between my father and his grandparents. He agreed to move to Utah from California to live on his grandparent’s summer home ranch. In exchange he brought his bi-plane with him, and built a runway on the ranch. I soared above the earth before I was born. For two years after my birth I was an acrobat in the heavens. Fitting for an Aquarius, I’m sure.

However, when Emogene, my mother, became pregnant with my brother, the plane and the risk it represented, were abandoned.

Daddy’s dream was snatched. His engineering education sacrificed.

Time passed on the ranch, and the boundaries between us and the local people blurred.
At age eight I told my parents I want to join 4-H, a summer youth organization most often found in rural areas. My request to learn to embroider was met with disdain. I had already been advanced a class in school. Classes such as sewing and cooking were too mundane for the intellectually gifted, my father said.

But he was wrong.

The 4-H name represents four areas of personal development: head, heart, hands, and health. The motto is “To make the best better”, the slogan is “Learn to do by doing”.

Although my dream was to embroider a set of beautiful pillowcases like I’d watched a housekeeper stitch, much to my parent’s dismay, I decided to join the livestock club.
I was reminded that although I’d had a Shetland pony, I didn’t like to ride horses. In fact I had been called the family house cat because of my preference for indoor activities. Grandma intervened. She would teach me how to sew.

For my father the problem was going from bad to worse. We were not like the typical farm family with many children to supply free labor. I’m fairly certain he thought this fiasco would launch my future as a bedraggled housewife, cooking meals and sewing clothes for nine children, then heading to the barn to milk the cows and feed the chickens. All of his dreams of a life in academia for me were at stake.

During several days of debate, I held my ground. I offered to sacrifice my allowance. I was informed I wouldn’t be able to go to grandma’s house for several weeks as I had in summers past. I didn’t have a clue what I was arguing for. But I had a feeling…

Unlike other kids whose parents gave them an animal for their project, in order to participate in 4-H I had to borrow money to purchase my cow, at bank rate interest, no less. I even signed a promissory note.

The day I selected my heifer was a big event. Hired men paraded several haltered cows for me to peruse. My father pointed out elements of good health such as a wavy coat and alert ears. A straight back was an indicator of exceptional confirmation. Bright active eyes were a sure sign of intelligence.

As soon as I saw the sassy red head bovine, I knew she was mine.

I named her Hot Tamale.

Over the summer I shampooed her elegant waves, brushed her coat until glossy, and fed her the treats I made with grain and molasses—the domestic side of being a cattle entrepreneur.

We sat together on the lawn. She followed me around the yard like a puppy. I even led her into our house. Of course Emogene chose that moment to return home.

At the end of the summer came time to settle my account.

I still didn’t have a clue why the group leader was shocked to see that my ledger page showed that I owed an outstanding interest payment.

Daddy offered me a deal. He would buy Hot Tamale from me.

For a brief moment I felt the thrill of earning my own money.

Alas, instead of money, I received a bill. After deducting the costs of feed including molasses and grain for treats, shampoo and curry comb, and ropes and halters from the proceeds that were calculated by how many pounds Hot Tamale had gained, I received a bill for almost five dollars of interest.

To this day I think his message contained a message regarding the high cost of broken dreams.

Life Lessons for me:
You will have to make sacrifices.
You must pay your bills.
Don’t go into the cattle business.

I didn’t learn the third lesson until after my second experiment of being Cowgirl Sunday when my herd grew to five heifers, including ownership shares in a prize bull.

I loved Hot Tamale and she loved and trusted me. But I led her to her death.

Was I a callous unfeeling child? No. I cared deeply and felt a sense of nobility when I led her to the station where she would die.

Her slaying was respectful, lightning fast.

Her sacrifice was not in vain. The DNA of Hot Tamale then nurtured me and my family.

Are we still connected? I often wonder, now that I do not eat meat.

Does she forgive me? Or does she bless me for making it possible for her to live on as a part of me and participate in the grand experience called my life?

I pray so. For I learned so very much from her. And yes, I’ve wondered if being Cowgirl Sunday for the rest of my life would have been the disaster my father believed. At the very least I regret not learning the art of embroidery, to create beautiful worlds of tiny stitches.

Daddy did not take any more chances. The following summer I spent three months in Hawaii with grandmother and my aunt, safely away from all temptations to return to the corral, or to join the sewing circle.

Yes, at every crossroad there is a sacrifice.

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The Canny Stranger

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer.

We live within a mobius of meaning, an ever-birthing continuum of stories. Our stories don’t begin with us and they will continue when we are no longer. Once upon a time is our matrix. We are all connected in the continuum of the Women of Once Upon a Time. The Charm Chest of my life includes my story, also the stories of those I follow. These are the stories of my grandmothers, the women of once upon a time, the whispers that carry across the ages telling me the stuff I know that I don’t how I know, the voices I hear echoed in my own voice. Research now indicates we carry their stories in our blood, our DNA code, our inner Charm Chest. It is with these women, my own Circle of Grandmothers, that I have learned the source and value of my accumulated charms, the offerings that I will contribute to those who follow me. SKML

Welcome. Please enjoy this excerpt from my memoir in process.

RAC RED SHOES IF ONLY

Again I have strayed from my tasks.

It’s my three year anniversary as guardian of Compostella. Today in celebration I will stray from my to-do list and the lawns will not be mowed.

I have strayed into and out of relationship with my former husband. There are months of presence, months of little, and months of none. I am too moody, too capricious, too smart, too sassy, too bossy, too, too too damn much trouble, Rick says, then returns to his home. But this story is not about my relationship with my husband. Another time, another tale, perhaps.

I have strayed from the agendas of others. I’m learning to say no, sort of.
Although liberating, to stray is costly. One risks being exiled. And to be in exile is to be marooned. Is there a promise of redemption hidden in the chasm of exile?

I’m grateful that soon my field of heavenly earth will be tucked under a blanket of interwoven leaves, memories, and snowfall.

Straying from the trajectory of my life before Compostella has left me tired in every facet of my being. I didn’t know I could be so exhausted. Mowing, weeding, planting, tending, harvesting, canning are relentless tasks, never ending without a change of the season. Raising the learning curve is painful, with many bumps on the head and heart. I’ve learned to paint cottages, set tile, hang blinds, and to scrub, scour, make a living space for each new tenant fresh and inviting.

It was a hot summer day two months ago when fires raged up the canyon sending smoke over the valley. Wearing a yellow tee-shirt I walked into the greenhouse to put my shovel away. My mind was on trimming ivy from the house, setting up the ladder, finding the clippers and my gloves. That is until the shovel handle hit a nest, sending irate yellow jackets swarming. Invited by my yellow tee-shirt many of them landed on me, biting me viciously seventeen times, in spite of my screaming and cursing with my best outlaw language. I screamed, still relieved nobody was there to hear me: “I’m leaving this fucking place.”

I cried, staring at my chapped hands, gnawed fingernails, and my sunburned, sweaty, wrinkling more by the minute skin. I cried harder. Heartbroken by the state of my life. I had taken the wrong road, there was no doubt. For the first time in my life I was experiencing allergies. I felt drained physically, emotionally. Every day was a financial struggle, maintaining the balance between the improvements I longed to make and those I could without guilt. In my dream Compostella was an art colony, a school for earth based spiritual studies, a bed and breakfast, a perfectly coiffed garden, an estate worthy of my boundless imagination.

I longed to wear my burgundy high heeled boots, a slinky silk blouse with lacy camisole, a sexy skirt, my ‘good’ jewelry, my dramatic hooded vicuna cape. My New York wardrobe that I kept separated from my other clothes, still hung in the back of my closet as a shrine to my other self. “This life is not me. It’s not worth it. The earth mother sojourn just simply is not worth it.”

I soaked in the tub for an hour after infusing myself with a massive dose of Vitamin C, then soothed the bites with baking soda. Two vodka sodas later my pity party was well underway. I resigned myself to having failed and went to the garage, found cardboard boxes and started packing my books.

My friend Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D, tells a teaching story about the importance of learning to get past the ‘fuck it’. For those moments when the dream feels impossible and the urge to walk away almost wins, you rise up and push through, carrying onward, having risen to greater level courage, rather than having quit the journey.

Well past my ‘moment’ I woke thankful for mornings when the sun is rising, the grass smells of green, when the plants are covered with rainbow droplets of dew, for the tree branches now engaged in a breathless lusty tango under the Aphrodite tree.

Yes, I’m still straying. But straying doesn’t always mean lost.But I did go a bit crazy following my near retreat from my beloved property.

It is said that one meets canny strangers while taking a pilgrimage.

I did. And the canny stranger was me.

I don’t know if it was a primal need to mark my territory or just plain eccentricity, but I spent many evening hours with a magic marker writing inspirational quotes on my living room and hallway walls.

I should have taken photographs of the scribbles of my madness, but I did not. I have no idea why this quotation by Rimbaud was meaningful at the time, but it was most evidently by the size and flourish of my script. To whom must I sell myself? What beast must I worship? What sacred image are we attacking? Whose heart shall I break? What lie should I tell? In whose blood shall I walk?”

I scribbled on my sidewalks, making up gems of wisdom as I was inspired to do so. Gems such as: All one needs is a lamp and a knife. You are my canvas, I am yours. My home as my studio, my studio as my home. Give and take with landscape, you have no choice.

To this day I don’t know what I was attempting to communicate, or to whom. But then, I was in an altered state for a decade, very likely there is a great deal of essential meaning I don’t remember and much of my journaling is unintelligible.

Paradise is a place that is neither in the past nor in the future, but where anyone who gardens is ever- dreaming.

Crop art doesn’t require an entire field, only a garden.

Women’s tools include a tarp, shovel, and wheel barrow, we move things at inch at a time, and ounce by ounce.

Still working on art book about homemaking. Tending the Temple, I will call it. My intention is to overturn the devaluing of the mundane. To reveal the rhythm, the eternal doing and being. No need for splashy statements. Little acts create great meaning.

My muse at this time is water. You can’t put the muse in your art, you must discover it after completion.

I’m designing a kitchen installation: fruit jars, orderliness of cabinets, fragrances, vinegars, spices, contrast with antique tea pots, etc. Viewers could interact by touching cornmeal, beans, rice…

Sigh. As I admitted, I went a little crazy. But gestating in the craziness was a seed.

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My Aphrodite Tree

Happy Mothers Day. Today I offer you a small (albeit unedited) charm from my memoir in process.

Savoring, Satisfaction, Sufficiency.

Once upon a time, a woman bought a property because it reminded her of days gone by when she sat on her grandmother’s bench under a tree of golden apples. She has a hazy memory of branching limbs, contoured arms reaching skyward to receive Sun’s bounty. The old branches bearing renewed beauty, of fragile pink blossoms dancing under tremors of light.

The bodacious apple tree would continue to live without me, for she is a self-sustaining system. Apple blossoms fall, adorn the earth at her feet. She provides her own food with the fruit she births and returns to the soil. Bejeweled by shimmering leaves, she shades her tribe of ladybugs, mantis, spiders, garden snakes and butterflies. Green leaves capture evaporating water, then re-sprinkles the delicate threads of surface roots. Mulch from fallen leaves becomes a tapestried winter blanket, dissolving, returning to their origins.

Today the comely and seductive golden apple tree quivers, promises access to ancient secrets. I call her Aphrodite. Yes, She, Aphrodite, the Golden One, the alchemical goddess. She of relationships and transformation. Alchemy. Gold.

Six years have passed since the woman stepped into the betwixt and between. Today a series of figures painted on butcher paper hang in the same breezeway-the figures were painted with soil from the garden.

The fence surrounding the backyard is decorated with images of triangles, circles, spirals, labyrinths painted by nieces on squares of torn cotton sheets.

The woman who bought the property she named Compostella is changing. And the deeper she descends, the deeper will be her transmutation.

I have learned to dwell, to inhabit deeply, to journey deep not far, to live wide, preferably wide and long, deep and far, but if I must make a choice I will live deep and wide and full and rich while engaged in many romances.

I have found the gold in keeping silence. The bounty of solitude. The grace of invisible process.

In ab origine, in illo tempore, in an earlier time, negotiations for a golden apple started a war that cost humankind dearly, the mighty Trojan War. For if Aphrodite had not promised Paris that Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, would be his wife, then perhaps Paris would have chosen the wisdom apple offered to him by Athena.

A long long time ago, Aphrodite gave Hippomenes three golden apples on the eve of his race with Atalanta, again altering an epic outcome.

The upper back yard is my goddess yard, where I enter the myths of Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Inanna, Erishkegal, Geshtinanna…my personal pantheon of goddesses.

As I sit under my Aphrodite tree of golden apples I wonder how many people have quested to the Garden of Hesperides in search of apples of solid gold.

The first frost came two nights ago and my golden apples are at full ripeness, crisp, juicy, sweet, tempting. I’m quite certain my tree is a daughter of the tree of Hesperides, a single seed winged across the waters long ago, perhaps delivered by a dove or a swan as both are abundant in the wetlands that back Compostella.

Ribbons hanging from the branches sway in the breeze.
Every year Compostella’s process is different, as mine is for me. I have come to understand that she does not produce the same year after year. And I should not rigidly expect her to do so.

Today, sitting in my shade garden, with my wiggling feet stirring up the passions of spreading chamomile, I am surrounded by daisies and other white flowers that bloom only in moonlight. In my journal I write: Today I flung buckwheat seeds across the garden, a cover crop that I will till into the soil come springtime. The action of flinging is a good practice, one for which I’ve become quite adept. I stepped off the edge of my knowing into the garden of not knowing. To survive I’ve learned to fling seeds in all directions, hoping at least a few will land in the right patch of soil. Where to go from here, I am pondering, trying to glean, next week, month, year.

But today, although it is unusual for me I’m feeling melancholy while sitting in the orchard with the last pears, plums and apples of the season.

I’ve spent many hours tied to a tree, for as a child I had a propensity to wander out of our yard. Emogene, my mother, was overly busy caring for my frail brother, leaving me the opportunity to roam and follow the call of the sirens. I wonder if in those hours I ponder as I do now the feelings of the fruit that was not picked. Does it matter to them? Do they serve a higher purpose by falling, decomposing and becoming nourishment for next year’s crop? I do not know the answer. The master gardeners tell me it’s a faulty practice to let the fruit fall and rot as they describe the process. And yet I imagine if a tree were left alone to fare on its own sustainability, it would require the food it produces to provide for the next generation.

I am now a collector of apple seeds.

After all, if I were a seed in the underworld, waiting for perfect circumstances to crack open the casing of my potential, I’d welcome input from those who grew before me.

In a presentation at Red Butte Gardens by Dorothy McLean of Findhorn, she said that the drip line of a tree, the circle beneath the tree, created by branches and foliage, is considered holy ground.

Each phase of the life of fruit is precious. The colors and patterns of growth patterns, The wrinkling of the hardened fruit, the fresh young baby fruit, the skin, bark…

Yes, this afternoon I am on a romance of wondering, a quest for magic charms of insight, or is it foresight?

I share the month and day of my birth with Lewis Carroll, so perhaps my romancings were made possible by my original personality coupled with gentle forming by a man whose mind knew no limits.

As I write I consider that growth often occurs where it cannot be witnessed. Mysterious and obscure processes that we take for granted. How could I ever capture in art the invisible transmutational process of composting? Can the invisible ever be seized? The exact instant of transformation? I long to see a seed at the instant of germination. Perhaps if I establish the matrix of soil, water, temperature, then the whims of the garden devas will make my longing come true.

Beauty occurs in the now; even in the bramble, maybe especially in the bramble. Beauty is a matter of context; it is the journey; it is coherent and congruent, grace and harmony; it is the cosmic glue that connects all things, my golden apple, my story, to yours.

Today is for romancing, for savoring beauty, for basking in slow pleasures, a time of partaking of sweet delights, for tasting the seven wonders, to engage, to spice it up, to make every detail matter.

And that is my wish for you.

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Stepping Forth, a glimpse into my memoir in process

I am a woman who understands the necessity of an impulse whose goal or origin still lie beyond me. Olga Brouma

Midway in life’s journey I found myself in a dark wood, having lost the way.   Dante The Inferno
Stepping Forth

As if I’m staring into a mirage I can still feel the magic and mystery of the shimmering morning when a wise or foolish, hasty or inspired young woman stepped forth on a journey with an enduring form but with no map.

Once upon a time, a “romance” meant to take a pilgrimage to distant lands, to the highest mountain or the farthest shore. A romance was a mythic quest to find the wizards and collect magic charms. Tales of the romance were usually spun into myths, fairytale, legends, and fables. Today I think it as taking a pilgrimage through the betwixt and between. Yes, time and distance create a multivalent world with fluid interpretations, meanings and values.

It might have been the flying damsels and dragons that greeted me at the gate that seduced me into stepping into the mythic realm. Or perhaps the shimmering, vibrant field of snapdragons, wild roses, peonies, hydrangea and vines of sweet pea. If not, I surely would have heeded the warning of the yellow jacket nest in the breezeway. But in retrospect I think it was the tree of golden apples I saw in the backyard that convinced me to continue forth into my ten year meditation.

Does the apple tree know I was the little girl who hugged trees whose roots penetrated deep and secure? Does it know I was the girl who collected apple seeds? Does this tree of golden apples that I will later call my Aphrodite tree know that in my childhood musings I imagined a dormant seed sending down roots, then growing high into the sky as a tree? Does it remember that I visualized apples appearing on the branches, and imagined the tree dropping the apples, the apples shriveling into canny faces before they disappeared? Or see through my eyes the seed breaking open and again rising as a new tree? Oh how I hope so.

Before me were gates after gates, leading to lawns, orchards, rental cottages. But the breezeway was the passageway to the property I would later purchase. A single pivot and I could return to my life before. But why should I retreat when no light burned for my return? Stopping to gaze at the yard, I wondered if this place was the netherworld or a paradise, a potential utopia or dystopian energy sinkhole. I still did not know.
But I couldn’t forget the double rainbow of the night before. Or ignore the tingling sensation in my scalp, back, fingers and toes. For here I saw potential. I knew this yard could be transformed into a haven like my Grandma Laverna’s garden. An enchanted playground behind closed walls, a soothing jumble of latticed vines, secret walkways, random tulips, fruit trees, red peonies, gold flowering forsythia, bushes of coral roses, pink snapdragons, soft grass and the pure white of baby’s breath.

The current owner introduced himself and showed me the gardens and rental cottages, the greenhouse and shed, the piles of garden debris.
“I’ve been meaning to haul this mess away,” he said, assuring me it would be done.

To my left, a walled flower bed was on the verge of crumbling. Beneath my feet tenacious flowers grew through cracks in the sidewalk.

“The nature of this property is to bloom,” so says Alice Walker.

I truly felt I was standing on shifting sands. Say yes to this messy jumble of potential and my life would never be the same. I wondered how much time, sweat and sacrifice it would it take to bring the land to full potential. How could I possibly care for an acre of semi-wetlands, home to fauna and fowl, thirty-two fruit trees, three rental cottages, a garden, a home?

My pioneering spirit, the essence of my rootstock, birthright and legacy, coiled up my core.
I envisioned a fierce woman with a shovel. She was parched. Thirsty. Her parched face smeared with desert dust. Her hands were chapped, her lips blistered.

She was my foremother, a Virginia belle who traveled west in the post-Civil War migration with her outlaw husband and dowry of silver tableware and freed slaves. She endured all of the hardships for which she was not prepared and ultimately thrived in the drastic life transition she chose to undertake. Therefore, I vowed to somehow endure whatever challenges were ahead.

Although I had been poorly mothered, I was grandly grand-mothered and it was into their reserve of strength and fortitude I reached. Again I was the little girl who knew by intuition to sink her roots deep into the soil and trust the forces, whatever they were in the mind of a child, to transform all fear and concern into calm resolve.

In a surge stronger than summer lightning I knew that finding beauty in the broken, making magic from the messy was what I needed to grow into my fullness.
In an ecstatic dance, sunbeams circled my head. All sense of time or standpoint disappeared. Threads of my energy wound deeper and deeper, coiling themselves around roots of the apple tree. There I was suffused with fierce, female, dark, rich, moist energy that carries within it the stories of the ages.

As the infusion from the underworld filled my body, the shroud of my skin grew small. Pressing from inside me, a force of resolve, surrender, and thrill pushed toward the light. In doing so cracked open the chrysalis of my potential.

Already I had been changed by forces unknown. How little I knew then about the changes already in process that I had yet to perceive. Regardless, although I had not yet completed the purchase transaction, I knew was no longer the woman who’d arrived at the gate.

“Sign here. If you mean it,” the present owner said, avoiding eye contact. His voice barely audible, he seemed stunned with disbelief that a woman alone wanted to purchase this costly mess.

Of course I meant it. I felt at home. This property was my mirror. We were both in betwixt and between, in the unknown known, the edge zone, on the margin, the border.

I now wish I’d held a feather pen as I flourished my name to the document declaring my intention to purchase the property that I soon named Compostella, my heavenly earth.

A fierce woman child, was I.

Thank goodness I still held a reserve of my youthful crazy courage. For if I had known more, I probably would have taken the other road. At least taken more time to consider the consequence to a scholar and artist with no experience as a groundskeeper.

A wayfaring bohemian wanderer was now tethered. Who would I be when the next siren beckoned?

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Meaning in Motion

words have wings

“All that is worthwhile is action…” Teilhard de Chardin

I share the month and day of my birth with Lewis Carroll, so the following events were likely made possible by my original personality coupled with the gentle forming by another man whose mind knew no limits.

I was four when my father pointed toward the grandmother cottonwood tree in our yard and said, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss the root children peaking from under the tree.”

Fortunately, my father’s imaginative child tending skills became the treasure trove that yielded the guiding value of my life.
Five minutes after glimpsing the Root Children, my father equipped me with a bucket, glass water bottle and a small trowel. I started digging down down down toward my guiding light.

Every day I returned to my project, always trying new tools, including kitchen forks and a digging stick whittled by an employee. Signifying my future work, every day I narrated stories to my father about my progress into the kingdom of root children.

I never found the root children but I figured out the recipe (dirt + water + stirring=mud) for molding my own population of root people. Daily I molded them into existence, daily I dissolved them back to their source. I still feel the sweet ache of anticipating my ‘work’ and the sweeter fullness of completion at the daily dissolution of my creations. I had no idea why, but I did know that my work mattered.

I didn’t know about holy grails and sacred acts or kneeling at the altar or petitioning the oracle, but with the feelings of a child I experienced them all through the fullness of doing, meaning made by action. And I now know that each time I completed the process of ‘doing’ my work, I felt more at home in my soul, myself, and my spirit. There I touched my joy by imagining the potential forms that would arise again the next day when I started my work.

Then came school and my path was altered from that of an active doer/creator/maker to that of a receptive learner. Trapped for years in the delights and despairs of being labelled intellectually ‘gifted’ I lost touch with the divine feeling I experienced when doing what came naturally, which for me was going to the altar of the cottonwood tree, the protector of the Root Children, and doing my work among the aromas and textures and plasticity of my medium.

It was twelve years later when I started attending the university that the Bhagavad Gita illuminated my childhood feelings. The Gita illustrates that when one follows the dictates of their dharma (simply explained as one’s innate purpose or highest calling), then working, making, and creating are the ultimate venues for development, the most potent arena for the growth and transformation of self.

In the Gita, Krishna promises his student Arjuna that once he makes his decision and sets forth on his path, it is in the work that Krishna will be waiting.

I identified with the masterpiece and I understood the concept of dharma, but now seduced into following the path a woman with my potential ‘should’, being a master of mud was not a viable choice. And so I strayed. As a successful designer of baubles, from the outside looking in it would’ve appeared that I was living the bohemian lifestyle of a creative. Not true, for I was end-goal oriented. I was not soul satisfied for I’d lost sight of the magic of the making.

At age 38, my life circumstances took a direction of their own and I returned to the garden. My fertile acre of Eden demanded daily attention. And for eleven years, every day I went to the altar of doing to dig, till, plant, water, weed, fertilize, rake, harvest and compost. As I worked hands-on, hands in soil, a feeling held deep inside me re-emerged. Just do it, I thought, just keep digging and you’ll discover the next step, the next path, your new purpose.

Ha, I was living my purpose. I was home. The Root Children had found me. Again I was doing with all my heart.
The mundane became my muse, with my purpose to be fulfilled by the beauty of working, of doing, with fruits of my labor often months away, sometimes not at all.
My doing opened my treasure chest of inspiration, imagination and creativity. I created installation art works from garden materials. And after the installations were viewed, I returned the re-fashioned materials to the garden to be composted back to the source.

This time I really got it. Meaning for my life was being created by my doing, and I don’t mean just being busy for the sake of busyness or for the end result, but in hands on, considered, purposeful, deep engagement doing. Yes, I still dig, and once a year I create an artwork made of materials gathered from my yard. But I’ve largely put aside my trowel and shovel. And with the capacity to make something matter that only the child within can reveal to oneself, I now dig for words, mix sentences, and form stories, always keeping a pot of soil on my desk for when my fingers yearn to go a little deeper.

I guide my clients on their journeys from inspiration to manifestation by encouraging them to follow my secret to making meaning, and that is to perform holy dharma every day, no matter the circumstances, no matter the sacrifice. I urge them to organize their energies and learn to say no to what does not support their doing, their making, their calling.

Doing is my muse. My work is my practice, the container of my values. When questioned about doing rather than pursuing the state of being found by transcending the weightiness of daily life, I affirm to myself that I will err on the side of doing. For in doing is my being. My guiding value is to do my work, regardless the end result. It is from my doing that I am whole, that I create meaning; it is from my work that my life matters.

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And So I Glean

From my adventures into my Great-Grandmother Laverna’s Charm Chest, I learned the Art of Gleaning

I am a gleaner.
I learned this art from my great-grandmother. Her name was Laverna.
My father called me his silent water.
He often said that still waters run deep. He didn’t know that I was gleaning.
Gleaning is a slow art. One of many I practice.
My style is ASAP. As Slow As Possible.
A gleaner is someone who gathers, slowly.
A gleaner does not multi-task.
A gleaner is a person who picks what the reapers have left behind. One by one they gather forsaken wheat berries until they fill a satchel with their daily fare. Or the fare of a lifetime.
Gleanings are insights, awareness’s, perceptions, intuitions, subtleties, delicacies of the soul that others pass by or overlook; tidbits of information others find unimportant or lacking in meaning. To one who gleans they are riches. Power. Insider trading.
Some gleaners are called rag-pickers. Some are treasure hunters. Some are just plain snoopy.
A gleaner is a gatherer. Gathering with an agenda is a hunt.
I am a gleaner who gathers bits of information—a glance, a gesture, a whisper, a nuance, a tone, an intonation.
I don’t know if I was born a gleaner.
Probably I was. You see, gleaning is close up work, best suited for us with myopic vision.
My first bed was a cradleboard. My first viewpoint was that of witness.
And I did, more than anybody knows.
Even babies are good gleaners.
Yes, gleaning can be accomplished by feelings.
I glean for signs. Signs that point to something I should know.
The art of gleaning is a shaman’s essential medicine.
Gleaning is a matter of honoring your intuitions. If you feel you missed something, go back and glean again.
Gleaning helps you spot the missing links.
Gleaning is one of the arts of romancing.
Peripheral vision helps with gleaning. As does using your third eye. Your witnessing eye.
When gleaning it helps to know your signs and symbols.
To reap treasure by gleaning, one must look to the periphery and in the shadows, between the words, in the subtext, in what was not said.
Gleaning helps you see what you missed on your previous passing by.
Gleaning requires paying attention, being open to all possibilities, without focusing on a singular intention.
Now is the time for gleaning. Not everything is as obvious as you think.
My spiritual teacher claims I am a gleaner.
A gleaner lets others charge ahead. Then with precision collects the riches they overlook or discard.
Professor Francey commented that I glean astonishing connections. Unusually imaginative and perceptive gleanings, she added to her comments on my methodology paper, a meander through the lens of semiotic analysis.
Gleaning is a matter of not wasting. Of preventing would-be waste.
Gleaning is about sharing.
Once upon a time, a long long time ago, farmers were told not to pick their fields and vineyards clean, but instead to leave the edges for orphans, widows and travelers to glean their daily fare.
Gleaning your story is different than writing your story.
Women are natural gleaners.
Women know to always leave a little of anything behind. Do not strip bare, for there is always another gleaner, she who follows you.
Gleaning is about being aware. Discerning. Responsive.
Being a master of the art of gleaning means staying available to unexpected treasure.
Gleaners gather, collect, store, share, evaluate, and piece together the puzzle.
Gleaning is rereading the old texts, gleaning for new meaning.
Gleaning, I hope you believe me when I say that gleaning one of the master charms.

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ReCharming Charm

Following the Path of Charm

Heart Stone Landscape

Charm is terrain of the female. Charm casts spells. Charm is more powerful than sorcery.

It delights, enchants, fascinates.

Charm is a ‘tool’ with the power to effect change without employing brute force.

Excerpted from Fabulous Awakening, a novella by Sunday Larson. A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, the tale of a woman who restories her story and restores her soul.

According to Charm Lady, Tilly Monroe-

“Life is a romance*, a grand and heroic quest. On its course, life forges a pathway marked by magic charms. The story of the romance is mysterious, vast and complex, the entwining of many strands. Living the romance of life with verve and intention, purposeful creativity, grace and generosity is a matter of meaning, by the style we express our charms.”

As the voice of charm, Tilly Monroe counsels us:

“There are charms with which we are born, charms to accumulate, others to acquire, some to combine and a few to master. Charms to live and give, to wear and share. Charms are the tangible and intangible, the visible and invisible, the inner and outer expressions of life’s delights and despairs. Ah, but the gifts of our muse, the charms we create from the source of our imagination and inspiration are the most precious and potent of all.

“Please do not underestimate the power of charm. It is the sparkle bestowed by the magic wand of fate. And often, as if by magic, the secret charm, the one that connects you with insights and yearnings unfathomable, the ‘it’ charm, is discovered in the story yet untold.”

“Charms are not wiles, nor are they tools of manipulation. They are blessings of light accompanied by the responsibility of wise use.

“The charms you accumulate are meant for honoring occasions, accomplishments and rites of passage, but your signature charm is your contribution to life. The offering of your unique talent; the dream of your muse; your creations; your path, dharma, purpose; the means you make meaning; your story that you’ll link to the chain of the human narrative. And it’s never too late, or to soon, to honor the charm(s) of your story.”

*Yes, the archaic meaning of ‘romance’ is to take a heroic quest.

To continue our musing on charm…

o Charms delight, yes, charm delights.
o Charms are light-catchers, they reflect, absorb, beckon, cast, collect and disperse light; they glitter, shimmer and glow.
o Charms are light catchers on dragonfly wings.

o To be charmed means you’re lucky, blessed, fortunate.
o Charming is a way of being, delightful, welcome.
o Charm is an inner quality we acquire; it is an agent of change; it refines experience; transforms circumstances; allays conflict; persuades; converts energy.
o Charms are external sovereigns we accumulate; tokens of our moments of delight and despair; qualities of character; experiences and events; signs of our growth.

o Personal charm is a matter of style, our unique signature.
o A charm affects as if by magic.
o To charm is to fascinate, illuminate, warm, soothe/
o To be charmed means we’re entranced, beguiled, bewitched.
o To relate with charm is to enchant.
o Charmless is to be devoid of delight and allure.

o To cast a charm is to create power over, to summon magic.
o To act charmingly soothes, enhances magic, allays misery.
o Charm is created by change, it creates change.
o Charm is the terrain of the female. It delights, enchants, fascinates.
o Charm casts spells. It is more powerful than sorcery.

o Charm transcends just about anything.
o There are innumerable charms for a person to accumulate and acquire on their journey.
o Charms are blessings
o Charm is an alchemical agent, also the gold resulting from alchemical process
o Stories are the containers of charms.

o Charms help us remember the moments that mattered.
o Our 9th charm is our imprint, our one charm from many, for the benefit of the many.The charm for which we will be remembered.

Please, wherever you wander, follow the Path of Charms.

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And So I Yearn

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From the Charm Chest, a book in process by Sunday Larson

Charm 9
And So I Yearn

I felt the yearning of my great-grandmother, a woman whose story was almost forgotten.

I don’t remember not yearning. The delicious and yet excruciating ache we call yearning has been my companion.

My yearning is my mystery. My unknown secret. My ineffability. My indescribable me. Inexpressible. Indefinable. Unutterable.

Perhaps that’s why people have described me as wistful, contemplative, pensive, vulnerable, ethereal.

Knowing the impetus of my yearning will be my pot of gold at the end, I suppose.
Please don’t fulfill my yearning.

As a child I stared at the sky, then cried, overwhelmed by my yearning.

To yearn. The feeling I have is merely yearning. Not for. Not for more. Not to become. Not to know. Not for union. Not to return. Not for home.

I don’t believe it is for something that I lost. Or that I mourn.

I don’t yearn for that which has been taken from me to be returned. Because although that somebody is gone, my yearning is not for that somebody. Or the other somebody…

My yearning is magnetism, radiance, gravity, levity. It takes me deep and far, within my depths, to my full expression.
It includes. Excludes.

My yearning is inner, contemplative. It is open, social.
To yearn is constant yet fleeting.
It is my ongoing awakening.

To yearn is to live in the ephemerality of beauty, truth, kindness, honor…
To yearn is a love affair with the unforeseen.
To yearn is a non-directed prayer.

There is no expectation of my yearning.
It is a blessed heartbreak that I want never to heal.
Yearning keeps my heart open, receptive, juicy.
It is a vulnerability of mine.
It keeps me fragile. It infuses me with power.

Yearning is shaped like a question mark.
To yearn is to embrace the unanswerable question.

By my yearning my imagination remains enlivened, living, alive.
By my yearning, my inspiration winds her way to manifestation.

My yearning is not ignited by dissatisfaction or disappointment.

To yearn fuels my carriage, my chariot, my walking.
Yearning draws me to details. To margins. To black holes. To mirages. To vistas. To hold all holy.

I am not complete. But I don’t yearn for completion.
My yearning forms a sacrament.
I am satisfied, always. And yet, content, never.
I am in forever. And in never.

Yearning is with me when I’m found, and when I’m lost.
I aspire to keep yearning.

At edges I feel yearning’s pulse quicken. At beginnings. And at endings.
My dreams are those of yearning.

At times I weep at the yearning beauty of futility. For those who try and cannot. For impossible love. At my own wonderings.

To release is to yearn. To receive is to yearn.

To touch. To taste. To see. Hear. To smell.
It is a matter of sweet grieving. Just grieving.
It is a matter of rejoicing. Just because.

Yearning is rooted in me. It grounds me.
Yearning is winged in me. It beckons me to soar.

From my yearning I create, spin words into stories.
I don’t know for what I yearn, but at times the tenderness is overwhelming

I suppose some would call this feeling longing. A subtle state of desire. To want. To need. To wish.

No. For me it’s more.

There is a sweetness to my yearning.
It is palpable. It is primordial. Atavistic.
Not thirst nor appetite, not craving nor lust.

I change purpose and direction to rekindle my yearning, never to lose sight of my companion, that for which I reach, that from which I retreat.

Yearning urges me onward, from the unfathomable darkness of the mother cave, into full radiant light of my fabulous awakening.

Yearning sends me again to the cauldron of transformation.
Yearning again finds me scaling the swinging ladder transformed.
I have lived to yearn again.

I garden because I yearn. I write stories. I walk. I create art of the ephemeral.

I give because I yearn. Share. Take. Receive. Bestow. Serve.

To yearn is my connection with the Muse.
I think it might be love.

I tell you this innermost secret because yearning is a charm of my story.

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