Peeking into the Nest

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As spring crawls slowly up the Northwest coast, and a crocus, like a purple hand, pushes soft fingers through the ground, as well as the cherry trees wink pink blossoms at passersby, I make my way in a couple of days to check in on one of the birds that have flown from my own nest. I go to visit my son. He has flown with fairly agile wings south to live in San Francisco, find work, live with roommates, and look for his life. I’ve heard good reports chirped my way so far.

Though my nest is now empty, I look forward to taking to the air to sit in my son’s nest for awhile, not to hover, or look too closely at the fibers and feathers he’s used to create his own domicile. I hope to quell my eagle eyes, and choose a softer view. Look gently, and realize that fledglings are in the process of wing-spreading, not yet in perfect form. I’m also looking forward to stretching my own wings out a bit. Perhaps not arriving as mother bird, but loving mentor, proud coach, guest. This will be a challenge. We invest so much in our offspring, those we look after so carefully for so long. But the song that keeps singing in my ear this season of my life is a phrase by Ram Dass, so simple: “Be here now”.

Maybe that’s the key to every life situation, every change, every sameness, “Be here now”. And so perhaps learn with this, as spring approaches, how to make this newness, this change, this nest-visiting moment a “be here” moment, in all its messy beautiful feather-filled ways.

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A word from the wise via Ginny, my rite of passager

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I share with you today a wise and loving statement that my daughter has embraced as her own over the last several years. It gives strength, dignity, and a joyous realization to all of us about ourselves and our unique contributions to this world as we continue to “come of age” in youth or adulthood.  A quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

You may have heard this quote before, but I find I can hear it again and again and find nourishment in its soul opening words.

How big will you cast your shadow today- the evidence of your large and lovely being?

The Play is the Thing

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

On these “ordinary” days of extraordinary color, magic, and mystery that the subtle winds of October bring to us, I find that like the sweet nectar of savoring that swirling and cascading leaf, or the tramp, stumble, and skip down the road-memories of childhood, the pseudo indulgence (an actually necessity) of play also draws us in. We hear it whisper, “oh, please, just one game, one dance, one indulgent giggle!” And we give in (thank goodness!)

I found myself in a small intentional community gathering the other day, asking me to “come and play” for an hour or two. The format was simple: take 8 adults, an outdoor space, and a few games (like toss the ball, say a name, next person goes, remember the order, then do it all backwards!) and suddenly, enter the doorway into fun. It doesn’t take much, just a little time and a little willingness. The results are: easier breathing, lots of laughter, and more playmates!

Today I’m hanging out with my dear friend’s two boys who love to join with me in adding a little silliness to a ping pong game (can you do a dance move in between each paddle swing? let’s see how many rhymes we can come up with for our names. . . card trick anyone?) And the free and easy, breezy attitude of play releases me into movement, unpolished cleverness, and belly laughs. The drive with my daughter and a friend or two the other day belting out at the top of our lungs a well-trodden song from the nineties did the same thing.

What would you like to play today?

A personal threshold-crossing poem

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This time of year, we tend to cross thresholds. Children leave through our front doors for kindergarten or college, and anything in between. Summer melts away into preparations for fall. And the adjustments in our own interiors can feel like both loss and release. Here is a poem I wrote that reminds me to cross the most intimate threshold with courage- the one inside ourselves.

Bless the Threshold

Before you cross it today,

pause.

You are leaving the inside

for the outside-

the safety of interiors

for the adventure

of exteriors,

the known, for the

unknown,

or perhaps not.

For the interiors are a

a world unto themselves-

a slow-brewing moment,

a slow-stirring movement,

a dark brooding over the waters,

a bowl of mystery,

a temple of stars,

a sacred altar where

sacrifices are made

with slow, wandering hands,

and flickering hearts

near small, relentless

candles,

under the soft chant of

audible breaths.

Before you cross it today,

pause.

You are leaving the outside

for the inside.

The safety of the exteriors

for the adventure of the

interiors, the known,

for the unknown.

– Gina Marie Mammano

My own rite of passage: cloud break

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Of course, the other side of the cloud mystery, is the cloud break, beautiful, light-filled, but also in its own way, a time of passing. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (from the band, Supersonic).Those lovely, white or grey sky-bodies that created those patches of the unknown, also float away into their own directions, and with that we get to experience both “newness” and “change”.

One of my own children today, sends off his girlfriend on an airplane back to northern California; we watch her cloud float away, his remains here. My daughter will leave the state in a couple of weeks to start her sophomore year of college- her cloud will also float.

I can only watch the sky with wonder. So beautiful those particular clouds. So wide the sky. All we can really do is send them on their way with light and blessing and wait for the next northern wind to bring them back, holding new crystals and colors in their formations to share with the rest of us.

My son will eventually float on as well. Our job, as parents, is simply to be a part of their adoring sky.

Blessing for a rite of passage, or frankly, anyone

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the element of heartfire, artwork by Gina Mammano Vanderkam

John O’Donohue, author of Anam Cara and many other indelible books has been a source of inspiration for me over the years. HIs work is deeply insightful. I encourage you to take this blessing deeply into yourself and into your children’s lives as you remember that each day with it’s surprises, it’s difficulties, and it’s opportunity for personal transformation can be a rite of passage:

A BLESSING

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May the flame of anger free you from falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul. May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

~ John O’Donohue ~

Brainstorming: the creative scatterings of imagination

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

In a few weeks I will share the gorgeous tale of a second rite of passage- one for my girl at age 18. The whole thing was a scrumptiously rich smorgasbord plated with small secret plans and large platters of imagination, but like all good things, it took some healthy helpings of daydreaming. Carving out enough space to let the mind wander and meander is the stuff “genius” is made of. How can a person think outside of the box, if he or she doesn’t even know (s)he’s in one? I say, bust out the cardboard sides, lay the corrugation to waste and let the dreams scatter! That’s what I did when brainstorming how to help my daughter traipse across this second bridge to adulthood.

I was actually in an airport with a friend when the broiling creative stew for this event starting bubbling. I believe the phrase “thinking out of the cage” might be more appropriate as bird-themed images were the ones that kept appearing.

“What kind of wisdom can be shared with a “fledgling” adult, who is gently being nudged out of the nest?” I said . . .

“Hmmm . . .  I’m now thinking of images sprinkled around the house of spreading wings and attempting flight . . .” my friend said.

“What if we created a weekend where there was ‘nesting’, ‘taking flight’, and ‘journeying home’?” I said.

“What if we actually made her a nest!” my friend said.

You get the picture. It may sound a little “bird-brained” at first, but it did turn out to be an amazing event. I’ll share it with you in upcoming posts. But think about it. Today, whether building a rite of passage or a gateway to your own future, what tributaries can you follow that trickle, flow, or gush past your own house of cardboard?

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider