The Kindness of Strangers

has come through the cracks in my life and caught me, many times, like a giant golden net, or silver spider’s web, saving me in the nick of time.  Always when I have least expected it.  Often in such startling ways that I was left wondering if I may have imagined it all, somehow.

In Philadelphia, one dark night, alone in an even darker bar, a big and tall woman entered wearing many colored scarves and a golden turban and walked directly up to me.  She acted as if she knew me.  She didn’t waste any time talking about trivial things.  It felt that she had been sent in that moment, with a simple and clear mission. She told me her secret code that she whispered out into the night, when she needed to know she was being listened to, when she needed to call upon the winds of change to blow through.  And suddenly, I could feel it, swirling around like a sea in my blood and blowing around the arms of the trees, an Ocean of invitation in the twilight.  Shaking.  Rattling.  Coaxing.

  Change is here–

It is everywhere,

and in the bones

of everything….

That is what she told me, anyway.  And I knew it was true.

I knew it by the way her bright jewels of eyes looked

out at me

from the dark Moon of her face,

and by the way she twirled

around three times,

chanting symbols and strange words,

her skirts furling out and up like boat sails~

carrying her off on the wind that had brought her in.

And just like that, she was gone.

I was forever changed in a moment, my trajectory altered, my Wild Heart reminded to stay true, to stay true.  These were some of my darkest days, and, yet, I was surrounded by so much Light that I could not see, or comprehend at that time.  It was only until many years later, after forgetting this woman completely, along with her magic spell, that she appeared to me from out of no where, in my own Mind’s eye, once again.   I understood the gift of her wisdom then, as if I was an Eagle perched way up high in a Redwood tree, watching the entire scene unfold before me for the second time, this time with eyes that could see.  I had learned to have Night Vision by then.

The way in which we touch each others lives goes far deeper than the mind can ever know.  Only the Wild Heart knows these things, and holds them close, in secret, till just the right moment, when it is time to once again, save you.

This memory, this stranger’s kindness, has now come to me again, threefold, as I step toward the turning of the summer to fall, and toward emerald green water whispers of change that are cascading into my life with such force, I am losing my footing.  I remembered her today~ Keep your Eyes wide open, the world is magical and beautiful, even when you find yourself to be lost.  Lie on your back on the grass, watch the sky, bathe in the beauty, feel the support of the Earth, and pay attention for the kindness of strangers as the fairy tale continues to weave.

Summer Dreaming

All of it

is still there:

it is the same as

the summer before.

The talks under

moons

with you

when my sleepy

eyes are barely steady

to see…

 

Yet we move

under mountains,

thresholds;

the doors

left open by us,

for now.

~NTA

I must allow the wild medicine of Nature to seep into my body and breath.

I have come from the city where we lock our doors; we lock everything up, even our hearts.  I am recovering from all of this.  I don’t know how to not lock things up.  And how to not hold on so tightly.  And how to stop doing all the time.  But I can’t feel my heart beat inside my heart anymore, it has grown too quiet, dim, caught and crammed by all of the noise and not enough space.  In these ways, I have forgotten the rhythm of dreaming and I have forgotten myself.  I have become someone I do not know.  I have worked to fit into the unnatural cycles of society and to please all of the people who have asked me to be practical and to be quiet and to please stop rocking the boat, to follow the rules, to be nice and to say all the right things.

I know that before the city, I came from somewhere else.  I came from the stars.  I came from the forests.  I came from the rivers and streams. I came from the oceans.  I came from my summer dreamings and my own imagination.witnessphoto  I was in relationship to all of these things before my life was turned around and upside down and inside out, and I found myself lost way out at sea, without a map, and only the tiniest silver sailboat to navigate on stormy waters.  I sit very still these late summer days and watch the natural world around me.  Why is it so hard to be still? I know that this is the only way out of the deepest forgetting~by unlearning all of the things that I have learned and by allowing in more allowing. By dropping deeply In to what is NOW.  Hearing. Seeing.  Noticing each first or next step.  Building my life like this.

Photo0076

Someone once told me that when a tree senses a chain saw it tightens up all of its cylindrical spirals of growth; it holds fast to its rings and in this way holds tight to its breath.  I also know this pattern, it lives inside of me.  And the only way out is by unwinding, unwinding, unwinding and letting go.  I can’t think my way out of this small, boxy place, not with my mind; and I can’t To Do list my way out either; I certainly can’t run away anymore~there is no where to go.  The only way out is to feel my way out, to feel my way out with my Heart.  La Coeur.

Courage.

To follow the path unmarked.

To trust that my own Light will light my way.

I have left the city now.  From my new home on top of the world up a winding country road, I reset.  I must find a way to melt the ice and to ignite the fire.  I have no idea how to do it.  I go to the morning, the summer, the forest, the oceans.  I learn from the old wisdom of the trees and of the stars and of the circling seasons.  I have to let go of the things that I have known.  I learn to laugh at the nagging voices that I hear sometimes in my head instructing me on all of the things I should and should not do.  I tell them that they have somehow gotten it all terribly wrong. I make room for joy and unknown possibilities.  I let go of who I planned to be and I open up to who I have always been, deep down, underneath quietly waiting.  I free something trapped inside of me and unleash it whole and entire.  I see, then, that I have always had wings. ~NTA

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purple skates

I decided to keep the yellow bike, and the purple skates, anyways.

I can remember back, to what seems like yesterday, although timewise it was much further back then that.  I can remember a woman whose name I will keep to myself, as I still feel strange, uttering my precious memories out to silent, unknown audiences.  And, yet, it must be done, something inside of me presses out, to be heard, to be witnessed, after too many years, I grow desperate to count, of being silenced, of having all my words be caught like butterflies in the net of my own throat.  I had no stories to tell.

But I remember her and the words she said to me, clear as a fairy bell~she said she was sorry for all of the sadness I was carrying, I remember tears in her eyes and feeling so confused by them.  Was I sad, after all?  I did not know.  I felt nothing instead.  She told me to keep going, to keep applying, to keep moving, to keep shaking, to keep stretching, to keep reaching~her advice was like a burst from a storm cloud, like lightning and rain, and it soaked right through me all at once, left me changed.

I have thought of her words countless times and I have followed all of her advice.  She also had mentioned that it would be somewhere perhaps ten to twelve years into the future, that there would be a little girl who I would find, lost and alone, and who I would heal with the sweet love of summertime and country back roads, strawberries and star light.  She could not tell, through her crystal ball, if that little girl was a little girl I gave birth to, or if that little girl was actually me.

So now, I have crossed that point in time that this Prophetess had illuminated on my map as a golden light and orb.  I have made it to this fork in the road, by applying, by moving, by shaking, by stretching, by reaching, by praying, by painting just as I promised, and I have been quiet and alone on my journey as I have been looking for so many lost things, most especially the mysterious little girl, I had to focus my vision.  I had to travel countless distances, that brought weariness and also new life to my Soul.  I had to free all of the butterflies and all of the words to break the spell of forgetting.

Perhaps I am most surprised that the lost little girl who I discovered way out at sea, was me……lost in a little boat waiting for me to pay attention, imprisoned in a cavernous echoey dark tower, lost on the side of a road wondering where to go next, sitting endlessly on a train waiting to be listened to, I had to find myself, once upon a time, in each of these places.

So this little story, or little poem, or dream, is the first utterance of a long fairy tale full of villains and heroines and magical princes and enchanted places.  The story takes place in real time and dream time, and the place where these times come together to weave the most magic under full moons.

I paint with words and I paint with brushes and all throughout you will find my story woven through with the stories of millions of starfish and oceans and you will hear the winds as they whisper to me the ancient knowings and symbols and secrets.  There is so much to tell as I awaken to the Sounds coming through my own Wild Heart.

Just Cuz

I spent over 50,000 dollars on a degree to “learn” how to write.  And during that time, I lost and let go of all of the very reasons that drove me to write in the first place.  And, not to mention, I simply stopped writing altogether.  Isn’t it funny how this happens?  I can’t help but laugh at myself (and cry too) when I see how complicated I allowed things to become.  What a big unruly knot I tangled myself and my life into.

21 Skye Lane
watercolor by Nicola Thea

I started to paint instead.  I found that this was the perfect antidote to all of those critical voices and constricted methods and sterilized rules that had gotten caught in my mind.  I simply couldn’t shake them.  They actually had been there, in my mind, all along, placed there by parents, teachers, other possibly well intending grown-ups, it is just that they had gotten so strong by this time, so reinforced and so loud.  My old rebellious ways of dealing with them no longer worked. (I don’t think that these rebellious ways really worked in the first place!)  And I began to doubt and forget the Imagination and the Inspiration that had brought me to the page in the first place in my efforts to please everyone around me and to “just be more practical.”

photograph by Nicola Thea
photograph by Nicola Thea

Perhaps the greatest lessons and rewards come to us as cyclical journeys~ I mean, the more I watch and observe Nature, the more I notice that absolutely nothing grows or operates in a straight or linear fashion, the lines are delightfully organic and spontaneous and, yet, upon closer examination, there is great Design, Harmony, Rhythm and Intelligence innately.  What is the message in our society that says, subtly, but insistently, that it is unsafe to trust ourselves and our imaginations, that we must learn a way away from ourselves? It is so blatantly contrary to the natural world and energies surrounding us.

So, it is safe to say, that I have gone in a great spiral, and that I have worked very hard to return to, and to unearth, things that I find I knew a long time ago.  As one of my favorite musicians, Shawn Colvin, sings,

“As a little girl I came down to the water, with a little stone in my hand and we shimmered and sang, and we knew everything….”

My Imagination has always been the entry point for me, into writing, singing, painting and really, at the core of it all, BEING.  I did manage to utilize my overpriced degree (that I am still paying for, by the way) to create an essay on the necessity of Imagination for perception and well-being, before I forgot my own advice, and my own voice became a lonely echo out on the horizon I simply stopped listening to.  In short, I stopped listening to myself, and then my Imagination went quiet, and my life went flat.  Funny how this all goes together.

My art, all of my art, from random collage, to poems, to photos, to paintings, to illustrations has mostly, till now, been my way of reaching out toward that lonely echo out on the horizon, to piece together all of the lost parts of myself as one might put together a puzzle.  To find a way home.  I felt very deeply that when this task was complete, if I ever could figure out how to indeed save myself, I would see and feel my own story and finally see myself.

Taking Flight~ watercolor by Nicola Thea
Taking Flight~ watercolor by Nicola Thea

So now, here I am~ Taking Flight.  I would be lying to you if I said I haven’t been standing on the edge and waiting for everything to be perfect, or waiting to be smarter, or to be a better artist, or to have something very profound to say, for a little while now, before launching off into writing…or feeling like I have to have it all figured out, or to even know what I am going to say at all.  But today the voice that had grown so weak, pushed forward as the tiny spring flowers are doing right now, all around my feet, and insisted that the time is now.  The time is now to simply begin and to take that first step forward.  The time is now to devote myself to my craft in a way that I have been unable to because of so many layers of fear and grief and uncertainty.  The time is now to release myself from constraints of rules and ideas of how my writing needs to be, or what my art needs to be, of what I NEED TO BE and to simply Be it and Do it just cuz.  That is reason enough for me.

This blog is and will be a living and breathing record and account of this new chapter, as I set out to devote myself to my own Wild Heart.  I hope you join me.

photo by Nicola Thea
photo by Nicola Thea

A side note~ I am not implying by any means that graduate school was a total waste of time (although it was a rather impulsive decision I made at the time.)….I had some very negative experiences there, and also some very positive ones.  It definitely played its part in severing the connection between my head and my heart, but that is topic for other posts.  There were three amazing professors who, out of my entire academic journey of eight years, were the first to truly listen to me, see me and to believe in me and what I was trying to say, even though I wasn’t really sure what I was trying to say.  There are too many times to count over the years, that I have reflected on the foundation that they offered so kindly and so eloquently to me, and, though I had a ways to go on my own journey, they set me on the course back home with a gentle and loving push.  Loree, Fred and Tom, thank you for being my Lighthouses, and Bill, that goes for you too.
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