Compost: Mother in Wonderland

I am the wild hair of anger. I frizzle like I've been cooked by a too-hot curling iron. I am angry because my mother is old and forgetful and because she is steadily disappearing in front of my eyes, as if she is related to the Cheshire Cat and on her way to the dark side of Wonderland. I am angry because she has not invited me to come with her — look, there she goes, blurring like a watercolor painting left in the rain. She dribbles and chuckles at jokes no one else can understand. I cry, "Mom, come back," but after 50 years of listening to every word I utter, now she has stopped listening to me. I think she's even stopped seeing me, and now it's as if I do not exist, so that's why I'm so angry. If you do not exist to your own mother, then where are you? Lost in Wonderland, along with the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter and that furious ranting Red Queen. "Off with her head," screams the Queen, and sure enough the Cheshire Cat appears and steals Mom's head, leaving only her timid smile fading into nothingness.

Warm Up

Do you expect beautiful, transformative, profound words to flow from your fingers the moment you sit down to write? If you do, I bet you're often disappointed.  Why not borrow a technique from the jocks — warm up first. Here's a warm up technique I learned from Natalie Goldberg, in my opinion the best writing teacher on the planet.

Write (longhand works best for me, but you can use a keyboard if you want) for 5 minutes, beginning every sentence with the same noun-verb phrase. Some examples are:  "I am" … "I am not" … "I have/don't have" … "I love/hate" … "I go/went" … and on and on. Think up your own — any verb will do. Use different forms — he/she/they/you, as well as I. Use different tenses — future, past, present. Use positive and negative forms of the verbs. (Warning: the negative forms will often take you to your dark side — but this is well worth exploring.)

Here's a warm up I wrote some time ago, using the phrase "I am":

I am in way over my head drowning in salt water and choking on long strands of green seaweed that is clogging my eyelashes as well as my throat.  I am in a hurry, but have nowhwere to go. I am intending to dance someday soon, maybe when my legs grow longer. I am in a canoe riding the rapids of imagination but I lost my paddle so I am careening down a waterfall, and I see no earthly reason why I have to wear a helmet, what's the point, it'll just act as an anchor and drag me down into the water. I am aware that I've made a complete circle back to drowning, I wonder what that means. Perhaps it means nothing except more slag for the compost pile. 

Intentional Beans

February 2nd, Imbolc/Candlemas/Groundhog's Day, marks the first stirring of the seeds, deep within the womb of earth. There is a sense of freshness is the air, and a feeling of possibility. This is the traditional time to set new intentions and begin new projects for the coming year. Here's a great activity to help you seed your intentions. I call it Intentional Beans.

You will need a small pot, some dirt, a packet of seeds (I recommend Scarlet Runner Beans, as they are easy to grow), marker pens or paint, glue, some beads or feathers or ribbons, and a little slip of paper.  Decorate your pot however you want with paint, beads, etc. Simple or elaborate, make it beautifully yours. On the little slip of paper, write your intention — such as good health, get an exciting job, buy a new house — or any of a zillion others. Roll the little paper into a ball about the size of a seed. In the pot put your dirt, your intention "seed" and one or two bean seeds. Put the pot where it will get natural light, and water it.

Watch your intentions grow. When warm enough, plant your beans outside. Every time you look at your bean plant, you will be reminded of what you intend to make manifest in your life.