Women Who Run with the Wolves

wolvesThis is from the brilliant Clarissa Pinkola Estes of Women Who Run With the Wolves, via her Facebook page today.
Dear Brave Souls: For remembering. Even in the swale: love and limits–as each soul is called to whatever works of lovingkindness are picked up within the range of each soul’s callings. Then follow, as called.
Differentiation: It’s not merely the call the wild and wise creatures wait to hear. It’s that some calls are summoning to action: a worthy endeavor of protection, loyalty, inquiry, blessing of those one is called toward.It’s not mere scent the pack waits to pick up. It’s that some sudden scents are somehow like those reported by saints and holy people and those on the journey of loving soul to soul, causing a person, a creature, even a flower, to pause and feel in all one’s cells, the grandeur, the peace and the magnitude in and all around oneself. Simple Being. Simply being.clarissa's rules

May it be so for us all. Regardless of rivers clotted with offal, regardless of clear sky-open blue water, rather because of both of these environs, let us row onward to the best of our loving abilities, each in his own way, each in her own way, as each see fit in the broadcast range of Love.

this comes with love, and also with Love,


All Hallows’ Eve

I held you in my dreams that night, like I used to, when you were afraid long ago. I didn’t know yet exactly the features of the thing that had broadsided me, and then you, but I had seen it’s shape in the dark, and it brought tears even before full impact. And you were so kind, giving to me that afternoon before you felt its full impact.

I’ve known for some time this day would come, a very long time really.  And though I didn’t know its features exactly, not like I know the features of your face, I knew its shape, I knew it would come and land in our house. I thought my fear might stop it, but fear stops nothing.

Now that it’s here, it helps a little to see its face more clearly, its features, its origins. Still, it hurts as much as I feared. How can it not, when the patches have just come from your eyes, the skin off your flesh, and it has reminded me so much of how my own came off? How can it not when I know how it has all come to be, and that it could not be any other way?

But I have to thank you for being the one to hand me the floodlight to see it all clearly this time. You amaze me sometimes.

A good floodlight, in the form of words on a page, or the face of another who is intimately familiar with the features of the thing that broadsided you, can be a wonderful thing. It is how we see fully the dynamic that injured us, and the exact nature of the injury, which of course is necessary to know which bones to set, which medicines to take. It is what is necessary to help us get our bearings, to see exactly where we are, and where we must go next. It illumines the ground on which we find ourselves in the wake of the collision, and helps us recognize exactly what we must mourn in order for our souls to regenerate.

We, all of us in one way or another, stand on a ground of so many losses. They comprise our foundation as much as does the solid, good beauty beneath us. And the losses are as worthy of traditions that honor them as is the bounty we celebrate at Thanksgiving—it has been my experience that it is only in properly honoring them that they can transform from something rigid and toxic into something fertile and sustaining, something firm enough to support both the laughter and the tears.

You have surveyed other crash sites by other floodlights, I know, but this floodlight is perhaps the brightest and most painful yet.

This lingering on what has come into sharp focus, I can hear some of you saying, is unnecessary; focus on the positive. I disagree. Because without the searing honesty of the floodlight at the scene of the collision, none of the truth of it—not our fears, nor the ways we found to survive, nor the injuries sustained—will be laid out bare and naked, which is essential if we are going to be able to discern exactly what has been broken, where the flow of blood needs stanching, what needs mending, and later, which muscles need exercise.

This is the reason I need to put into words the darkness and the fact of the collision scenes we sometimes find ourselves sitting at. Words have the power to bring to the surface the tears we need to shed. Words have the power to take that which is within and lay it out where it can be seen, where others can help us pick up the shards and help us mourn. And unless we mourn, we cannot grow the soul and resilience we need to live fully.

It is by the illumination of the floodlight that our resistance is disarmed and we can begin to honor that which we find in the dark and transform it into something new and life-sustaining. It is how we can begin to see that things could not have been any other way, how we let go of resistance, shame, and blame. It is what enables us to stop saying If Only. It illumines exactly how our flexibility and bounce have been eroded, how our backs and kidneys have become fatigued, and how we might heal. It is in the light of the floodlight that suffering can begin to ease, that we find the strength to bury that which must be buried.

Our nights are getting so long now. The ground is spread with red and yellow as striking, in their own way, as the blooms of spring. It’s a good time to honor that which darkness read and yellow leavesrepresents, a good time to be coming up on All Hallow’s Eve, a good time to remember that life and death, joy and sorrow are hallowed, worthy of honor. And it’s a good time to be thankful for light that illuminates the darkness.

And you, heart of my heart, will not be alone as you do this work; you too have an entire tribe of us who have gone before you standing there with you.

Managing the Morning Mood with a Mower

I’ve found yet another solution to my waking up a ray of sunshine: mow the lawn before getting to my desk. I want my old bouncy morning self back, the one that, for decades, was pretty consistently more annoying to others first thing in the morning than it was annoyed, and I should never have taken that perky optimistic morning self for granted.

But I’ve found a cure for the less perky one. Not one that works for most of the year, granted (I will hopefully have outgrown this stage by next winter), but seriously, mowing, with my good ol’ reel mower in the fresh morning breeze and sunshine works well to break out of that left brain chatter and into right brain awareness and calm.

It’s one of many tools we have to shift our brain activity from the logical left side to the more intuitive and creative right side for a while, the side that facilitates hope and the healing of our bruised selves. Music, meditation, yoga, art, sex, massage, acupuncture, Qi Gong are all effective too. But my new favorite, simply because it’s been a very, very long winter, is mowing the lawn.

Being present in the right brain is important not just for our own pleasure and our own healing, but for being human. Our world values technology and productivity above art, but art and creativity are actually the prerequisite to technology. Creativity is the essence of life, and more primary than technology. It is the engine that drives the rest.

As blogger Kristin Lamb reminds us, here, Mary Shelley intuited the human body as bioelectric long before scientists did. George Eliot knew of the brain’s power to regenerate long before Dr. Elizabeth Gould understood and explained it scientifically. Much as stating clearly our personal goals moves us in the direction of realizing them, our imaginations expressed as art moves us as a society in the direction of the possible.

When I was undergoing cancer treatment last year, a friend sent me a TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor. By some miracle, given my despair at the time, her eloquent and passionate words captured my attention. We humans are the light-force power of the universe with manual dexterity, she said. The potential in this thought was staggering to me. I longed to escape the chatter of my left brain to expand my consciousness again, to feel connected to the energy of the universe, to be creative and productive, to feel empathy, to be compassionate and understanding and hopeful.

Being stuck in our left brains restricts our ability to be those things, both with others and ourselves, the latter kind of being a prerequisite for the former. It also makes us more defensive in the face of critical feedback—that wonderful but sometimes uncomfortable thing that helps us grow—as left brain logic is too loud to permit us to remain present and mine the good in the words of others. Our left brains, as essential and valuable as they are, are not the whole story, and sometimes simply get in the way of our being better human beings and building a better world.

Teaching is one of our society’s many undervalued arts, and so is healing. By healing, I don’t mean medicine, which is essential and facilitates healing but is highly valued and rewarded. The healing I mean here are the other kinds, the kinds that are viewed as non-essential, even flakey and dreamy, the kind done by the world’s intuitives and artists, those who listen closely and empathize, those who do energy body work and acupuncture and other holistic and complementary kinds of healing.

The visual arts, song, dance, theatre, the healing arts, writing—all of these, though often undervalued, are utterly essential to the health and progress of a society. They are what express our essence, our soul; they nourish our collective hope.


I love words. They’re essential, and they can be powerful. But the real magic of our lives, the spark of transformation and connection and revitalization, happens not primarily through words, but in how well our communications actually make it across the spaces between us. The power lies in the sensitivity and intuition of the receptor.

I have so much respect for those who have honed this gift of listening and intuition. The world is full of them, all kinds of people—young and old and in all kinds of roles, but often drawn to work as massage therapists, nurses, baby-holders, midwives, doctors, Benedictine Oblates, psychologists, acupuncturists, musicians, artists.

These people somehow, whether innately or by training or both, often have the ability to interpret accurately not only words, but also what the muscles beneath their hands are communicating, what the skin tone, the strength of the pulse, the eyes, the smile, the body movements, and the energy surrounding the other are telling them.

People who accurately intuit meaning against the backdrop of the other’s whole being—my massage therapist does this routinely even when my words are hiding the truth—these people get at what is in that moment necessary, and that’s where healing happens. There, and in gratitude.

The act of bringing our words and pain to another is therapeutic and necessary, but it is in the successful crossing of the spaces between us that the real power lies. It is when the eyes or ears or hands of another human being have registered and accurately interpreted our communications that we are left stronger, richer, happier, healthier.