I carry my reflection books in a small plastic tub. It keeps them all tidily in one place, and makes for easy transportation when I go away. As I reached down to pick one out this morning, my fingers encountered a loose piece of paper. There, at the bottom of the tub, lay a small 3” x 5” piece of printing. I pulled it out and recognized it immediately as something that a dear friend had given me about a year ago. It was the copy of page 242 from a daily book of goddess reflections that she reads.
At the time, I was going through an immensely sad moment in my life. In hindsight, I realize I was probably verging on the edge of depression. I am very fortunate that I have many tools that I use on a daily basis that help me to never sink into the desperate depths of that particular disease. And then too, I have wonderful friends who walk a similar path to mine who care about me and give me exactly what I need when I need it.
And thus I received page 242 at just the right moment. The goddess who was addressed on that page was O-Ryu. She is referred to as Grandmother O-Ryu and is the Japanese goddess of the Willow tree. This is what was written about her.
She waits for you in her sacred tree temple beside the quiet night river. A golden Moon whispers above her long and hanging
branches, casting a twinkling outline around her wavy edges. “Come to me”, O-Ryu calls out as she reaches her long and
leafy branches toward you for a loving hug. An owl flaps a low, deep hoot from somewhere inside her soft green tendrils,
and you notice a spider’s web gleaming silver on the tips of her twiggy fingers.
”I am the Witch’s Tree, sacred to the Wise Ones”, she reminds you. “My branches are for making magic wands. My bark
supplies aspirin, the remedy for pain. Come. Sit beneath my weeping branches. Let me hold you close. It’s okay to feel
sad. Let yourself mourn and cry and weep. The relief you are seeking is in letting yourself feel. Do not hold back.
Perhaps you have postponed your mourning too long,” O-Ryu urges. “Mourn means ‘to remember’. Who wants to be
remembered today? Can you whisper their name out loud? Call their spirit to come and sit beside you here by the River.
Let us cry together and gather the wisdom they want to share with you. The spirit of someone deceased wants to talk
with you. Something you need to know will be revealed in a powerful feeling.”
At the top of this page was a statement: “Tears, too, are sacred and can wash away your grief. Honor your memories.” At the bottom of the page was another statement: “Mourning my losses and grieving are necessary processes on my spiritual path.”
When I was in High School there was a small section of the playground that was a grassed area where we could sit in those rare warm English summer days! In the corner of this place was a large weeping willow tree that I loved to sit under and feel protected and safe, cocooned if you will. As I read page 242 I was reminded of those days and, because I firmly believe that nothing happens “by chance”, I chose to work with the imagery of O-Ryu for the next few days, weeks, however long it should prove necessary.
In those days, I discovered that I was mourning the loss of my daughter. No, she had not died in the physical sense, but I had “lost” her all the same. The details of this loss are not important to this writing. What is important is that I discovered what had been destroying me inside during that moment in my life, and I was able to release it with O-Ryu’s help. I also discovered that I needed to mourn the loss of my mother at a deeper level, I came to understand some of her pain that I had helped to create.
Tears are cleansing. They are an important part of our journey to wholeness. They wash away the grief and allow for new seeds of happiness to bloom in once broken hearts. Welcome your tears as the refreshing waters for new growth. As the tears evaporate and dry on your cheeks, so an inner peace will enter your soul and bless you on your way.
(My Life-Long Love Affair With Food)
I don’t normally put sub-titles to my postings, but I felt this one deserved one. There is no way I can share my “adventure” at going raw without giving some background as to my relationship with food. And it is a love affair.
I have had an intimate relationship with food ever since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories of food are:
– sitting under the dining room table in the middle of the night eating rice paper (don’t even ask!!)
– sitting for what seemed like hours on the garden gate or at the front room window waiting for Aunty Polly to arrive with ice cream and candy
– going to Aunty Peggy’s to have wonderful four course dinners that included incredible appetizers, cheese and crackers, dessert with coffee (like in a “grown
– going down to the kid’s secret den to eat as many candies as I had been able to take from the pantry without it looking as though someone had taken them
(I’m sure my mother realized!)
– finger-swiping the frosting off a freshly baked “chocolate horror” cake (bliss!)
– sneaking teaspoonful’s of Fry’s chocolate spread (pure paradise!!)
– biting into the crusty heel of a fresh loaf of country bread slathered in real butter
– English cheddar cheese and crunchy pickled onions
So as you can see I was pretty much addicted to food from an early age. I could describe in detail, and still can, the sensations of different foods hitting the different taste buds in the various areas of my mouth just the way someone can describe the details in a picture. I think God proved that He really, really loved us when he gave us taste buds.
I discovered “ethnic” restaurants in my mid to upper teens and a whole new world of tastes and flavors opened up to me. English food is usually so bland and much of it, particularly vegetables, is simply boiled into oblivion and mush. Indian curry and crisp Chinese vegetables were like heaven, and the awesome blend of herbs in authentic, freshly cooked, Italian cuisine can still send me into a swoon today. I think you get the picture.
Moving to Sardinia, Italy in 1979 was a dream come true for this foodaholic. The Sardinian cuisine is unique and is as beautiful as the island itself. Home-made pasta was the norm in a Sardinian home in those days and if you have never eaten fresh home-made pasta you need to before you die. Roast lamb, kid, and pig are nothing like anything over here. I have eaten some of the best bar-b-q pork since coming to the States but nothing touches a succulent roast-in-the-ground pig in Sardinia.
From Sardinia I returned to London in 1978. It was mainly a “big mistake” but forms part of my life journey so it was important. During the five years I remained in the UK back then the only time that I ate well was when I cooked Italian pasta or I ate ethnic. I missed Italy badly, not just the food but the whole culture. So it was with a happy heart that I returned in 1983 to live in Naples, Italy.
Naples, rather like Sicily, gets a bad rap in some tourist books, but I fell in love with Naples very quickly. There’s an Italian saying that goes, “see Naples and die”. There’s a Neapolitan saying that goes, “Napoli ti prende per la gola” – Naples grabs you by the throat. The people are warm-hearted and friendly and the food, well I’m not sure anything I could say about Neapolitan food would do it justice. There are amazing pasta dishes with incredible sauces and fresh seafood cooked in the simplest but most divinely-tasting ways. “Dolce” (cakes) are out of this world and the pizza, oh the pizza!!!!! You have not eaten real pizza until you eat pizza prepared and baked in Naples. Not even the pizza in other parts of Italy is as sublime as Neapolitan pizza.
And then there’s REAL mozzarella cheese freshly dripping in its own liquid. This is an absolute delicacy that is only made in Naples, Italy. There is only one place over here that I know of where you can find real, fresh Mozzarella cheese and that is at the Fratelli La Buffala restaurant in the beaches area of Miami. They have it flown in fresh from Naples two or three times per week.
So, with all this love of marvelously prepared and served food, how do I get to going raw? With great difficulty let me tell you! I guess with age comes some sort of wisdom, and my brain began to tell my body that two hundred pounds on a five foot four inch frame was not so healthy. And, as usually happens with the fat accumulation, my blood pressure had risen and my cholesterol was fast following it.
Thankfully, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Back in 2005, about eighteen months after getting to Jacksonville, Florida, my church hosted a series of classes on the vegetarian diet. I was interested not only because I thought it would help me lose weight, combat the BP and cholesterol issue, and improve my overall wellness, but also because the classes were offered by the Cancer Society as a way to help people prevent cancer or live cancer free once they were in remission. Because there is a history of cancer in my family I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns.
I’ll leave the “vegetarian experiment” for my next posting in this series.
I may not have written much in the last couple of months, but words have still been the centre of my life. They were not running off my fingertips through the computer but they were certainly filling my heart, soul, and mind. In the absence of writing I have been doing a lot of reading.
It’s as though words in some way, shape, or form have to be in my life. I love seeing them printed or written across the page. It fascinates me to think about what the words hold. It could be information about an object, a machine say, or it could be the description of a place.
Words have the power to fire our imagination. They can transport us to some magical landscape where we can "escape” for a few hours as we read. They can describe a character so that we think we can see them, smell them, hear them as they speak. The author Morris West (In The Shoes Of The Fisherman) has an incredible gift for this last talent, and this was what drew me to read all of his books.
In the latter part of 2009 I was introduced to the author Robert B. Parker. His style of writing attracted me immediately. He wrote a couple of series of books with different central characters; the Spenser novels, the Jesse Stone novels, and the Sunny Randall novels. They are all of the detective genre.
He used a short sharp yet easy flowing style of writing, especially when it came to conversations between people. Some of his sentences are just two words long! Yet everything is perfect in the moment. And he uses a form of dry, wry wit that appeals to my English sense of humour.
Over a period of about three months I think I read everything he wrote. Back in January 2010 I was devouring his last three or four books from the library shelf when I heard the news of his death. I remember my immediate thought was “Oh no, what will I read now!” as if he were the only writer producing books.
But he had very quickly become “my Robert B. Parker (RBP)”. He had entered my heart and my soul through his generously-shared talent. I thought of him as a friend who set out to entertain me with each of his books. The only positive thing that I can say about his passing is that he died at his typewriter doing what he loved most.
So having completed all his books I then had to find someone else. I love detective/spy books so I stayed in that genre. Checking along the shelves in the library I remember thinking, “I need to find a prolific author; someone who has as many books on the shelf as “my RBP”. And so Sue Grafton found her way into my book bag.
Her A,B,C books based on the character Kinsey Millhone are great. Her style is different yet just as interesting as RBP. Kinsey is a little off-beat, a little off-centre, and as a woman detective is just finding her way around the profession. I guess what attracts me to her is that there is a part of her that is organized and yet there is another great chunk of her that is delightfully, quirkily “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants”.
Her well-preserved and still very attractive octogenarian neighbour Henry and his other “just as old if not older” siblings add some unique interest to the story. But the spice is added, literally, by Rosie, of Hungarian origins, who runs a small restaurant/grill/bar down the road from Kinsey’s home. I can almost hear her speaking in her broken accent and can imagine the expressions on her face and in her voice the way Sue Grafton describes her.
So here I am having read the latest, U Is For Umbrella, and wondering who will be the next author that my eyes fall upon, that my nose smells out. One thing is for sure, I will not be without words in some way or another. They feed my soul and my mind. I will not go hungry!