Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

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I’m Glad I Watched, After All

And I’m glad I took a news-feed break the weekend before election night. I needed it.

If I had woken up to discover a Trump presidency, I would have been more confused than I am having watched it happen. I was resigned, if not resolved, by the time I went to bed.

There is no humor in me. Jax is trying to make jokes this morning. I want to kill him.

Instead, I’m going to marathon “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” and disengage for as long as I can. It will settle in. The pain will subside. Only 4 years.

There will be no revolution. This was the revolution.

Only 4 years. Only 4 years.

The nice thing about middle-age is how quickly time passes.

Only 4 years.

I must be careful what thoughts and energy I put into the new drum I’m working. We need prayer and peaceful intention now more than ever. I’m hoping it will help to heal my broken heart, to focus on art and what these drums have come to represent for me. Drawing the mandala, especially, is meditation. Painting it feels like celebration.

Hopefully, by the time it’s ready to be painted I can feel joy again.

I’m so ashamed. I’m in shock. I hate my country.

I’VE NEVER FELT THAT IN MY LIFE.

trump

It breaks my heart. Absolutely rips my heart out and breaks it.

I Needed That

new-moonI finally made it to a New Moon Sister Circle. It was just what I needed to snap out of it! We discussed what the new moon in Virgo might look and feel like, and my friend Bonnie said, “I’m just glad Mars is out of retrograde!”

“Is that what’s been going on?” I asked.

All of the women laughed and exclaimed. Everyone, it seemed, had an example of how she was either contrary or useless.

I’ll take it! I’m content to chalk it up to the stars and let it go. I’ve been beating myself up trying to demystify and define that months-long funk, but now I don’t feel so much pressure to learn something from it. It’s done. I’m fine.

The next day, I went to my niece’s wedding and had such a lovely visit with my family in Idaho. The reception was at my sister’s house. It was a dream country wedding, with hay bale couches covered in denim comforters, kids running everywhere, and chickens clucking and crowing in the background. I can’t think of a more pleasant time I’ve shared with my family. I got to hold my first grandniece, all of 2 weeks old and only 6 lbs!

My roommate and I went back to his ranch for Labor Day. It was a wonderful follow-up to my own family visit. His family made me feel right at home, and we spent the evening singing Broadway hits, old classics, and camp-style rounds.

Yesterday, we went to the Mountain Man Rendezvous in Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. Today, we canoed, rode horses, and I chopped wood.

Oh, and I finished my drum!mandala

on casper

Casper the Friendly Horse got a little feisty, especially when Bella kicked in front of us!

riding horseschopping wood 4

Aug. 28th, we climbed to Timpanogos Cave National Monument.stalagtitesdripping rust

Here’s one from my hippie-artist niece’s Blessingway on Aug. 12th. blessingway
5 days later, Violet arrived! ~ August 17, 2016 ~violet
On Sept. 2nd, my sporty niece married a fellow marathoner.kolten-and-em

My Portrait!

Someday somehow, Portrait of a Young Girl by Sergei Bongart will go up for auction again. Someday somehow, I will find out about it beforehand, and bid and win. (I found this online 4 months after the estate sold it at auction! Ouch.)
174_01
1984

SONY DSC30 years later

Clearing

Clearing
by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save the whole world
or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.
sunburst

Sergei Bongart

Portrait of a Young Girl174_01
“Signed lower right. Note: Authentication by the artist’s wife lower right: Sergei Bongart 1989. [In fact, it was 1984.] Certified by P. LeG. Bongart. Provenance: Estate, San Pedro; by descent in the family to the present owner. Condition: Visual: Generally good condition. Scattered spots of minor crazing. No evidence of restoration under blacklight.”

I modeled privately for Sergei and Patricia LeGrande Bongart for several weeks in Summer 1984. I must have whined enough that they let me take off the beautiful blue Russian shawl I wore in the Spring session at his school in Rexburg. They wanted me in the same wool dress mom made (that I had worn for warmth in the cold Idaho Spring) and it was SOOO hot! My mom, brother, and sister got to go swimming!

I had no idea my brush with greatness. WOW! I’ve been looking for this for years!!!

“Portrait of a Young Girl” sold through John Moran Fine Art & Antiques Auctioneers on June 18, 2013 for $459.38… Wonder who has me now! (On the back is the original price, handwritten… $5000!)

http://www.sergeibongart.com
Sergei Bongart, Notes on Painting: http://www.nasonart.com/writing/bongartlessons.html

“[Sergei] purchased a log cabin, with acreage, near Rexburg, Idaho, and quickly added buildings for a second school. His heart took a big leap when he visited this part of Idaho and found it was the same latitude as his home in Russia [Ukraine]. There were magpies in the trees, lush lilac bushes and the same animal life. At last he felt at home! Many of his paintings came from this rustic setting.” – Patricia LeGrande Bongart

Patricia told me in an email (in 2006 or 2007) that my one of my portraits hangs in the Santa Monica gallery, but when I emailed her again letting her know I was visiting (in 2009) I didn’t hear back. I found the gallery, but didn’t get an answer. She also said one of the portraits from this sitting was featured in an art magazine in New York.

I am utterly honored, humbled, and amazed.sergei bongart gallery

aunt mary's wedding
Mom made my flower girl dress for Aunt Mary’s wedding in 1980. Four years later I wore it over jeans to keep warm (with a blue Russian shawl from Mr. Bongart).

Wow! What A Ride!

Marko and I were nearly consumed by the Pacific Ocean in April 2010 in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. We were spat out of her watery bosom gasping, sputtering, bloody, bruised, laughing, amazed, ALIVE! We later found a stylish coffee shop and gathered our fractured senses over strawberry/mango smoothies and turkey/avocado sandwiches. We noticed the artwork on our table and laughed out loud, reading: 

Wow! What a Ride!                                     Puerta Vallarta 2010