Friday, March 30, 2007


Yesterday I spent a great deal of energy on the afore-mentioned sequencing issue in the novel in progress. Chart on yellow legal pad, pages all out of order, word file open while cutting and pasting back and forth in the ms.

By late afternoon I was spinning. Literally. I had to cancel clients and lie down. Flat. Perfectly still.

Two different homeopathic remedies helped, but this morning I am still twirling.

Out at the barn feeding horses earlier, Keil Bay was impatient. I had broken the usual routine and set feed up before letting them into stalls to eat. He was agitated, probably because he sensed I was, and in his own rush, shoved past me and stepped on my foot. I nearly fell down because my balance is so shaky.

I immediately burst into tears. I don't like seeing Keil Bay off his pedestal. But the King can get grumpy at times. Yes he can.

By the end of the meal, he came over and apologized. Salina was particularly concerned. She watched, worried, until I went to her stall and let her check me out. At the end of her nuzzling I sighed and then she did. Everyone calmed down then.

My personal philosophy as both a novelist/student of the creative process and a psychotherapist is that the body and the mind and the spirit are an intimate weave. Yesterday I was spinning creatively. Today I am spinning physically.

Sometimes a deep analysis is useful, other times it's simply important to note the connections.

What I note today is how my personal whirling dervish day is already setting other little tornadoes into motion. And how two deeply-breathed sighs had the power to restore some balance.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

a goddess turns 24

I am an indestructible fortress,
I am an unassailable rock,
I am a precious jewel.

-from an ancient Irish prayer for long life

Salina, our lovely black mare, had her birthday this week. She's a very fancy German Hannoverian and has done a number of things in her 24 years.

She was trained and ridden through third level dressage, made the trip from Germany to the United States, produced a number of fancy babies, and is now my therapy horse.

Salina has one eye due to an injury/infection that occurred many years ago, and she does perfectly well. It is a bit shocking when you first see her blind side, but after you adjust to the lack of an eye, it's hardly noticeable.

Salina is mostly retired from riding due to mild arthritis in both knees. With around-the-clock turn-out, a joint supplement, and good care in general, she does very well - can still be seen galloping on occasion, and can still do flying lead changes in the arena. We ride her occasionally and she is the most responsive, best-trained horse on our farm. I can only imagine what it was like to ride her when she was young!

She came into our herd of three geldings and immediately took charge as the lead mare. Although she concedes herd leader status to Keil Bay, she stands up to him when she wants to. He wasn't quite sure what to make of that at first, but they have worked out a pecking order that suits them both. She is a loyal companion (sometimes too loyal for Keil) and stays by his side much of the time.

She adopted the pony for a month or so when she first arrived - he was not too happy with that but eventually she relented and he's back to independence.

Cody takes a wide berth with her - but occasionally the two of them do hang out together, especially if Keil is busy.

The incredible thing about Salina is her intuitive, reflective quality with people. Most horses have this, but she seems particularly finely tuned to the moods and underlying issues of the humans she meets. If you are angry, she shows you that. If scared, she reflects that. Stubborn, sad, tired, at peace, spirited... she mirrors all these things to her handler.

It's an amazing gift and very useful in a therapy horse. She forces you to get in touch with what you're feeling and how you're generating that into the world around you. For more on equine-assisted psychotherapy, read Linda Kohanov's The Tao of Equus. A wonderful book.

Salina has taught me so much since she came to our farm last May. Happy birthday, sweet girl. We look forward to many more.


I want to add a little about horses and emotions.

Because they're prey animals, horses are wired to pay intimate attention to the other members of their herd as well as everything around them.

They "read" very subtle signals.

So when dealing with people, the most disturbing thing to a horse is if the person is incongruent - they sense very clearly if someone is feeling one way but acting another.

Most of us do try to hide or downplay negative emotions - so we automatically set the horses' "antennae" off if underlying issues/feelings/etc. are present.

When a horse encounters someone deeply angry but not "owning" it, he/she reflects that anger in horse behavior - pinning ears, switching tail, stamping, biting, kicking, etc. If the person is angry but openly so, the horse reacts much differently - there is nothing incongruous to reflect.

The beauty of this in a therapeutic setting is that clients can more easily fool a human therapist. We give more credence to words and even if I as a therapist have a sense that something is not matching up, I don't have the ability to reflect that behaviorally to the client. And the client often doesn't even know what the underlying issue is - which is why they've come for help.

A horse will immediately reflect the underlying emotion to the client - which not only shows the human co-therapist and that client what the issue is, but offers the client a live opportunity to make a change.

Once a client notes a feeling and becomes congruent, the horse knows it and relaxes. That's a direct signal to the client - almost like biofeedback - and incredibly powerful in making this kind of change. Powerful reinforcement.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

this is what it comes down to sometimes

Writing process. My novel-in-progress has the most complex structure of the three I've written thus far. I'm over halfway in this first real editing pass since I completed the first draft, and not surprisingly, there are some sequence issues.

Once I start the real editing, I always keep the current ms printed out on paper and at my fingertips, because I often get to a point where I truly need the pages in my hands rather than the computer screen in front of me.

This novel has two points of view, which alternate, and the entire book shifts from present to various parts of the past for both these characters. I have an actual sketch of the structure in one of my Moleskine's - and amazingly, the book is following that to a large degree. I've almost pulled it off.

However, this week I hit a wonky place in the ms - the order I envisioned doesn't quite work in the pages. I've avoided tackling this glitch because I knew it would be messy and that I could not do it on the laptop.

So. Today, this is where I am with it.

My garret isn't big enough to spread this thing out! Each pile represents the two corresponding points of view. The uppermost piles are present time, and the ones below are past time. The two upper piles to the right are thick - I haven't begun to sort those out yet and already I'm needing to turn a corner in space.

I'm having a vision of the ballroom at Weymouth, sitting in a lotus position in the center of the room, pages spread around me in a perfect circle, time line intact.

Alas, right now I'm late feeding horses, and the day beckons. What will really be true is my pages will be covered with Corgi and cat tracks by the time I get back.

If I'm lucky, they will fix the sequence problem for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

the bee-loud glade

The bees have come alive here this week - they are everywhere, buzzing by day and doing whatever it is that carpenter bees do in between layers of wood at night. All I know is you can *hear* it.

Serendipitously, while writing yesterday, I happened to reach a scene in my novel-in-progress referencing William Butler Yeats' poem, the Lake Isle of Innisfree. What wonderful words for these days, here in the bee-loud glade.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

night writing

This is the first night of the year I've opened the window in my little writing room to let the cool air of evening float in.

The delightful buzz of insects makes a chorus, rising, falling, and sometimes stopping completely. The sudden quiet is eerie, a signal I don't understand. Across the gravel road, the high sweet voices of a neighbors' children fade as they go inside.

Years ago, this was my writing habit - in the evening, windows open, letting the lullaby of night fuel the stories. Almost always I had candles, and sometimes a glass of wine, but tonight I'll just write to the night noises and see what comes.

No photo, but if you close your eyes, vision this: a dim Japanese paper-screened lamp by the black rectangle rimmed in white, the buzz of the universe pouring through.

Morning's addendum: I can't help but add that the black rectangle is now blazing with light and buzzing still - the superhighway of bees passes right by my garret. Five different birdsongs mingle with the morning, and while not quite as compelling as the night for writing, there is thankfully a certain creative charm to this time of day.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

two more stripes in the rainbow of spring

On the front porch, yellow.

And in the front field, pink.

A quick glance at Biedermann and Cooper yields this on rainbows:

the manifestation of divine benevolence, transfiguration, heavenly glory, different states of consciousness, the bridge between the world and Paradise, and an omen of future wealth and the finding of treasure.

If you look around, I bet you can find a rainbow too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

halfway, and a birthday

Today is the spring equinox, and we're halfway between midwinter and midsummer, a wonderful time to start new projects, leap into a new phase, or simply celebrate the growing light of the sun each day that passes.

It is also a pretty special day here on our farm. Cody, fancy name Riskless Asset, is four years old!

Cody, affectionately known as Coden Locomoden, is our youngest horse and also our sweetest. He is a teddy bear, but also quite brave, the least likely in the herd to act silly over plastic bags blowing in the wind, fireworks on the fourth of July, or imaginary monsters in the forest by the arena.

Now that he's four, he will begin a new phase in training - jumping. We had a preview of this last week when he jumped the dressage markers in the arena in a private, rainy-day steeplechase instigated by Keil Bay.

Happy birthday, Cody - I wish I could have seen you four years ago on those long wobbly legs as you heralded spring.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Blackbirds like small priests walked in the silent fields." --Niall Williams

This was in my chair when I got home today:

Carl Cook photo

If you scroll to the bottom, my photo is the one of the two crows silhouetted in the full moon. It is GORGEOUS.

Browse Carl's entire website for more stunning shots and lots of interesting lore about corvids. If I were an editor for a publishing house, I'd snap him up. What a gorgeous book it would be - his photos and the accompanying quotes, facts, and his own anecdotes and essays.

Friday, March 16, 2007

a slow and steady rain

I woke up to rain and cooler air. Outside, the little stream that flows through our front field when it rains hard isn't there. The rain falls steady, you can hear it soaking into the earth, almost see the greening in process as the roots drink and swell.

Often spring is too intense for me. The hum of insects, the feeling that beneath the surface things are pushing to burst forth, the winds -- building to a crescendo that, until it happens, seems unbearable.

This spring seems to be taking a slower pace, and today's rain, at least right now, feels like a long slow drink.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


You are not at the mercy of your inadequacy. You are capable of acts of wholeness.

-Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul

Monday, March 12, 2007

the good life

In many ways, today seemed like the first real day of spring. The sun was warm, the flowers blooming. Birdsong like a chorus coming from every direction. Barn swallows arrowing out of the barn when I walked in.

After breakfast, two horses got massages while the cats chased one another, explored the massage therapist's truck, and finally settled down for a mid-morning collapse.

Suddenly it was quiet, except for the occasional soft snort of a relaxed horse, the distant call of a bird.

Nowhere to be but right here.

Friday, March 09, 2007






circumambulatio: the process of individuation through the four stages of life.

the four elements: wholeness.

circulatio: moving through the four elements, repeating the process again but always on another level.

life: an adventure which never comes to an end, new vistas, new layers of understanding, never having it all sorted out.

conjunctio: bringing the body and spirit together, the incarnation of divinity.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

the gift of magic

The wonderful wand my son made for me last year, wood gathered from our property, selected specifically for me, sanded and carved by hand, with the little crook at the end left intact so as to provide a good hold for my small hands.

I love the gold swirl going up the wand and ending in a solid gold tip.

This is the same son who at the age of 5 divined that I was anxious about the mail coming (I had queried my very first agent and was obsessively checking the mailbox every 15 minutes every day for weeks). He made himself scarce one morning, and then smiling, asked me to go check the mailbox. Inside there were easily a hundred envelopes, with "mom" written on the front, sealed and all containing tiny notes that said "I love you."

I'm not sure who was happier when I returned from the box holding all those letters.

Magic, indeed.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Apart from sleep where the creative act seems involuntary and instantaneous, it does appear that a creative process goes on all the time beneath the level of conscious thought.

--Neil Gunn, The Atom of Delight

Saturday, March 03, 2007

crow moon

(photo courtesy of matthew)

lunar intrigue

"Set aside some time this weekend for sky watching. On Saturday night,
March 3rd, there's going to be a total eclipse of the Moon. This means the
Moon will glide through the heart of Earth's shadow and turn a beautiful
shade of sunset red. Totality can be seen from parts of all seven
continents including all of Europe and Africa and the eastern half of North

Here in the United States, you have to be in the eastern half of the
country to witness totality. At the end of the day on Saturday, go outside
and face east. As the sun sets behind your back, a red Moon will rise
before your eyes--fantastic! Maximum eclipse is at 6:21 p.m. EST. Moonrise
is at 5:54 p.m., and sunset is at 5:59 p.m.

Visit for observing tips, maps and links to live

Lunar Eclipse Gallery (photos from a similar eclipse in 2004):

Friday, March 02, 2007

between places

Like the moments just before night falls, or dawn breaks, or the sweet anticipation just before something wonderful happens, the creative process has between places -- space and time where nothing seems to happen, and yet that nothing blooms quite suddenly to magic.

These moments pass by lightning-fast if one isn't paying attention, but once noted and watched for, they grow longer and more useful. Letting the moments be silent and undirected seems to make room for solutions and revelations and synchronicity.

Honor the quiet empty times and prepare for the good stuff to come.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

best birthday present ever

This is a portrait of my horse, Keil Bay, given to me last night for my birthday. I was stunned - it is absolutely gorgeous and captures the essence of Keil, whose nickname is The King. He is powerful and brilliant and kind and wise, and oh so expressive. I see him every day, of course, but the photograph is very special and I will always treasure it.

Thank you, Matthew.