Connecting to the Earth and Spirit of the Old West

Connecting to the Earth and Spirit of the Old West

My Compost Heap

I have had a bit of Writer’s paralysis lately and kept hearing this inner voice to Write! Write! but not sure what to write about. That voice came up again and said “Use your horoscope as a prompt.” I read my horoscope by Holiday Mathis everyday. Most days I can find some way it relates to me. Often I will clip the horoscope and put it in my journal and then later write thoughts about the day, or just thoughts.

So I followed the prompt and here is what I composed. I shared it with my writing group yesterday. Enjoy!

Daily Horoscope Musings by Mary Claybon, a Taurus

Monday, October 31, 2011 My Horoscope Today by Holiday Mathis says,

“You have a connection to the land and the spirit of the Old West.”

Let’s see. I connect to the land in my garden, in my compost heap, and on my walks in Sharon Woods.  I love to feel the grass under my feet in the summer and the dirt trails of a forest preserve. When I think of the “the land” I think of soil, dirt, and the lives of plants that come out of it.

We have been composting for years now. We take any of our vegetarian scraps from fruits, vegetables, coffee grinds, etc. and put them in a rich pile of dirt, leaves, and peat moss. It’s like a recipe for dirt. You mix all of these earthly ingredients together and every day or every other day, depending on whether I am cooking or not, I add the scraps. Then with a pitchfork or narrow shovel, we turn and mix the compost.

Yesterday I made sautéed vegetables and a slaw salad to go with pizza. I also trimmed and cut up vegetables for tonight’s meal of stir-fry. I had a bucket of scraps. It felt so good to take it out to our backyard compost heap and mix it all up. There were hundreds of earthworms doing their job to help break it all down.

This process continues until you no longer recognize what used to be a piece of cabbage or an orange peel. You know it’s ready when it all falls through the tines of a pitchfork like fine soil. When it’s ready we put it on our garden beds like mulch or mix it into our other soil to nourish the plants that are bedded there.

As far as the spirit of the Old West-well, for me that brings to mind, Arizona. We have been there several times and have experienced the beauty of Sedona, a place known for its essence of spirituality and peace. But is that the Old West?

I noticed I have a lot to learn about the Old West. Where did that term come from and what does it mean? I decided to do what I always do when I am curious-Google it.

The first thing that came up was the Old West Festival that takes place right here near Cincinnati, Ohio. We just missed it.  It is a yearly event that takes place in October.

Well, guess what?  In the 18th century the Old West as defined by scholars was considered the areas of the Ohio and Tennessee Valley. Thus we were at one time living in the West, looking back now called the Old West. By the 19th century anything west of the Mississippi River was considered the West. With that definition we were no longer considered part of the west.

So what is my connection? I was born in the Midwest, now live in Ohio. We recently traveled to Louisiana, the southern state that ends the Western boundary.

Do I feel connected to the spirit and soil of the Old West? I feel connected to the spirit of everywhere, whether I have lived there or not. I experience the soil right here under my feet and the land I walk most frequently is my own back yard.

Yes I feel connected, and I learned something today. Everything changes definition as it ages. Vegetable scraps become soil and the West becomes old.

 

To Journal or Blog; Blog or Journal

To Journal or Blog; Blog or Journal

 

Speed Bump

I have been writing about my daily life since 1985. I started by writing on 3×5 cards and eventually put my journals in notebooks and assorted blank books like you get at the book stores. I enjoy the act of using a real pen on paper and writing the words that come to mind. My journals are like a diary, but also includes notes from workshops and reflections on books I've read or movies I've seen.

I started my blog a couple of years ago. The blog seems more official and of course more out there. I feel more exposed and less private, but of course that is the point isn't it? My blog includes self-help articles as well as reflections of my experiences. It takes  turning on the computer, going to my blog, sitting down and composing, some quick editing and voila, the words are out there.

I love both forms of writing, but I will always favor my private little journals that follow me through life. I now have over 50 journals that span my life these last 25 years. I can see how I felt as a younger woman, married and raising my three children and now in empty nest continuing my journey.

Writing will always be part of my life in one way, shape or form.

Still Getting Still

Some of the things I do to get still:

Journaling– Somehow writing in my little books about my thoughts and just about my days brings me peace. I take my journal with me everywhere. While waiting in doctor's offices, at restaurants, or as I am walking in Sharon Woods, my little journals are like a friend that I can tell anything to. I have been journaling for over 20 years now and have over 50 journals that reflect my life's journey-sometimes crazy, but always moving forward in depth and in discovery.

Yoga– I love moving and dancing and I love stretching and breathing with yoga. Yoga makes me slow down my body and my mind and helps me to savor the moment on the mat as I breathe in and out with each new posture. I started yoga also over 20 years ago now. I began with a little book by a Benedictine Monk, Father J. M. Dechanet. He taught how to learn yoga in a fortnight. I followed the book every day and soon was practicing yoga. Eventually I took classes from Lilias Folan and with Lilias as my mentor, began teaching my own classes. I still practice yoga-sometimes just in my mind, but even the thought of Namaste brings me peace.
Wow! I found a 1960 Time Magazine article about Dechanet:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,871651,00.html

Meditation-I have practiced many forms of meditation. This is challenging for me, someone who is high strung and full of energy. I am always thinking and it is difficult to simply sit still and focus on my breath or a mantra. I have the word MEDITATION in big block letters standing on the floor of my living room next to two little meditation seats I bought at a consignment shop. They call me to come sit and I often find other things to do. When I do sit, I come off my cushions with a whole new perspective on life. It's just all good and I feel organized again.

A Course in Miracles-This set of three books also came into my life over 20 years ago. Now I facilitate groups and retreats around this path to forgiveness and peace of mind. More on this in future blogs.

Soduko- Believe it or not, there is benefit to doing these little numerical puzzles. Once there was a man sitting next to me on an airplane. We were both doing our suduko. I said, "Do you really see any value in this?" He was a CEO of a company, and what he said made me really think. He said " Solving soduko makes you learn to listen." If you go too fast or your mind wanders, you will mess up the puzzle. If you methodically go through the numbers and pay attention, you will find the solution comes easy.
So true! When my mind is not focused, i can mess up the easiest soduko, and when I am focused, I can solve the most difficult with ease.

Playing with my 8 month old granddaughters-Just following their eyes and their sense of wonder makes me laugh, smile and stay in their moment. We play. We talk. We explore. A bird, a leaf, a flower are all new to a baby. Watch them stop and listen. It is soooooo coool. I have always enjoyed babies and children. I feel they are so wise and we have so much to learn from them.

A cup of tea in a tea cup– I love to sip tea from a china tea cup. Just holding it brings me peace

To be continued….

Journals

Jeanette, thank you for visiting my blog and I am glad you are thinking about journalling again. I love my journals. They are like a best friend. I open them up and write thoughts, what I am doing or what I did that day, poems that pop into my head, the beginning of a novel, titles for books, deep deep emotions, funny stories, and whatever feels right to write. I do not sensor my writing or judge it. God forbid anyone goes into the cabinet where they are stored. Reading my journals would reveal one crazy woman but they would be interesting, that is, if you can read my writing. It is not easy. I sometimes scribble and if I journal with a glass of wine the words can seem to go all over the pages. But it is fun. I always have a journal with me when I travel and so along with photo albums I have the written word on my journeys. I have a journal for when our whole family went to Hawaii. I have two journals from our trip to Israel. I have journals from both trips to Italy and my trip to Spain. I write down my thoughts, images, the foods I eat and the people I meet. A couple of years ago I took a vacation all by myself – kind of a retreat – and would take my journals into the restaurants where I would dine by myself and enjoy writing. I have been journalling now for years. I don’t know what will happen to them once I am gone. Perhaps they will be buried with me or if I am cremated, they will be burned along with me. Who would want them? They are my words and my story and hopefully I will take out the parts that can be published and make some sense out of all of that for a book someday.

Beginning

Welcome to my blog. This is my first post and only a beginning. My purpose for this blog is to share my thoughts and my life with you and you with me.

I am a writer and have been for years. When I was younger I loved writing letters to my Aunt and to friends – pen pals-remember those days? It was so exciting to sit and write a letter, unleash thoughts on pretty paper and send it out in a stamped envelope. And then getting a letter in return – well! what a delight! I couldn’t wait until the mailman came and had mail for "me". I would write long letters and I know my Aunt really enjoyed reading them, but I wonder if she enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Then I began a diary when I was in third grade. Remember those- the ones we would write in and then lock with a little key? Well that’s the kind of diary I had-so that we could write secret thoughts. All I remember writing was "I kissed a boy today." That was the boy I met on the Santa Fe train when I went with my grandmother to California. It took us three days to get there and it was one of my most exciting memories. My diary could have been so exciting if I wasn’t so intimidated by the pages. I didn’t let the words flow like you do when you write a letter. Instead I wrote the part about kissing a boy. Then the next day we kissed again. It was really nothing. He was in his seat and mine was in back of him. He would climb up, we would kiss, and then laugh and giggle as we were told to sit down. So I entered " I kissed a boy today." Then next day it said "I kissed him again." After that I think I wrote what I did in California, but since I don’t have the diary anymore I am not sure what it said. I only remember the kissing part.

As I got older I continued to like to write except when it was an assigned paper. Then I was paralyzed. It took forever to get the words down. Research papers made me so nervous and any writing assignment caused anxiety. Once I got started I enjoyed writing and managed to complete my Masters. Later as a professor myself I always assigned papers and presentations. I think everyone should develop writing and speaking skills. But my favoritie writing was and still is when I am all alone and just want to write. I can make up poems and write about life and my days with no trouble. I liked to write and I still do.

Today I have over 50 journals. I began my adult journals when I was about 33 years old. That was over 20 years ago. A journal is always in my purse and I write almost daily. I don’t edit or worry about what I am writing so it comes without anxiety and my journal feels like my best friend- no judgement and completely open to my every word. So I write and write and sometimes draw pictures and excerpts from books or tell what my day was like or jot down a poem or the title for one of the many books inside me.

My journals are hand written, but I have also enjoyed correspondence on e-mail and have many documents written on my various topics of interest. I still enjoy writing letters on pretty paper in a stamped envelope but I also enjoy this new technology although I am overwhelmed by its many possibilities.

I have been wanting to write a book for a long time. I have thousands of words written for a memoir. I have written several poems and essays on health and wellness. I want to write a book that you can read, but again I have that same anxiety like it is an assignment and thus I lose my creativity. Now it has to be organized and look like something that has a linear train of thought. My mind doesn’t work that way. My thoughts often feel like flash photography on high speed. Meditation and yoga are necessary practice for me so that I can slow down and focus and balance.

So I started this blog so that I could write and perhaps hear from you. What do you like or not like about what I have to say? What do you want more or less of?

My writing has a consistent theme – deep health and wellness going beyond just how we stay fit and trim and live forever, but how we enjoy our existence realizing we are forever.

Maybe you will share your stories.

That’s all for this post. I feel myself editing my words now and that stops me from flowing. I will write more. This is just a beginning.

Thank you for visiting.

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