“He liked to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points.”
If emotions truly are red lanterns strung to mark vulnerable points, I must be illuminated by the crimson light of a thousand candles. There is so much richness in my life--so much beauty, but there are unsaid challenges I hold close to me. This month the self-portrait challenge focuses on the intimate space of "the bathroom". For me, only the challenge on imperfection from last year seems as hard. Probably for the exact same reasons...my instinct to self-protect. The bathroom is a healing sanctuary for me. As a teenage girl, it was where I would go to hide out and lock the door--running water to hide the sound of my weeping, if need be. As I labored with each of my children, I immersed myself in the bathtub--and breathed in that holy cadence of a woman creating new life. When I am sick, the tub is a second-skin...a shell I retreat into again and again. Every single night before I sleep, I bathe with a book in my hands, its pages curling up with humidity and water.
This portrait is from the half-bath downstairs...painted cherry red a few years ago in the heart of a span of bleak December-sky days. As I type these words, I'm not exactly sorry to say, the room is covered with plastic to be painted with primer this afternoon and muted to a soft pumpkin color. It is time for a change--the colors of nature soothing my rough edges and offering me visual confirmation of the shifting seasons. The office/library space is next...it seems I have a twisted urge to "feather the nest" before another long winter takes hold. Or, perhaps I just need to mark the inner changes in my emotional life and relationships with outer reference points...painting the house, clearing out the clutter, cutting off much of my hair, donating old shirts and shoes. I have finally charted out work-times to finish my book before mid-October; this brainchild I've been gestating for two and a half years will be fully formed and complete--no longer will I puzzle over Iris' moods or Joe's silences, Gwen's heartbreak or Lily's past breaking against her future. My characters will be able to stop whispering their stories in my ear as I'm driving up I-95 or picking paint colors for the new bathroom walls. As liberating as it is, it is also a bit worrisome...what will become of them? Will other characters ever possess me as fully as these have? (Of course there's more editing of the book ahead, so I won't have to leave them completely just yet.)
I am not teaching this semester, still another change for me. I will be the portfolio evaluator, so I am still working--but, I won't get the actual interaction with the students which has always fueled my educational experiences. Now, I am the one who gives them final grades on papers someone else has helped them shape and form. I am the one they hope to please, but do not meet...the one they will likely resent in the wee morning hours before their submissions are due. What is wonderful about this is that it gives me flexibility and time to write. I will only see each student's papers one time, no more carrying home stacks and stacks and stacks of to-be-graded materials after every single session. No more meeting after class to polish, having students email me drafts, meeting in the cafe to hammer into their frustrated brains how exactly their novel evaluations should look. All of the things about teaching I have found draining--the giving too much time and access to me--will end. I won't miss how my teaching life bleeds over into my creative one and how, after grading the fifth rough draft of my twentieth student's paper, I feel that writing is another language I no longer can speak. But the students themselves, oh yes...I will miss them more than I thought possible. It is still another shift for me, another lantern of uncertainty lit.
In my email inbox today, I read a message about tomorrow's solar eclipse and new moon and the energies of upheaval at play for the past two weeks. Now, since my personal experiences have radically mirrored the spirit of movement I found this interesting (whether or not I fully yield to the ideas of astrology--the way I generally figure it is, I could use all of the insights I can possibly get into life, so why not?). But apparently this is a time of planetary fluctuations as well...here's some of it:
IN-tense!... that's the word for this New Moon. The build up to this one has been stressful and disruptive to say the least and now a monster planetary set-up may threaten to turn your world upside down. Talk about tension!
Ask yourself what's true and truly important for you now.
Saturn's entry into Virgo on September 3rd has come after a not-so-fun sojourn through Leo that began in July 2005. Virgo is the self-contained human... tending the fire of her own heart light so others benefit from the warmth and light through practical service. Saturn's trek through Virgo lasts until July 21, 2010 emphasizing a new way in which you approach health and harmony... internally and externally... personally and planetarily. After all, they are synonymous.
That challenging planetary configuration that stressed out many of us two weeks ago at the time of the Full Moon Eclipse is back again. However, the players have changed a bit to bring a real opportunity to break out of those old patterns and transform your life on a deep level. Solar eclipses always indicate a major ending and new beginning... new light and new information are popped into your awareness regarding some area of your life.
Take advantage of these disruptive energies to face your destructive demons, release and revamp old beliefs and conditioning, dump bad habits, and are prepared for the enormous amount of power being unleashed now...Earthy Virgo is the goddess of the harvest, so come down to earth and give yourself time to reflect on your resources and new priorities while being aware of all the loose ends calling for completion... along with the feelings and thoughts that go with them. The more clear you can get now, the more ease and joy there will be in your process and the more wisely you'll navigate these life-changing energies.
No more waiting... change has got to happen.
So, the lunar eclipse 2 weeks ago popped internal changes and now the solar eclipse shines new light and new information on the external changes you've got to make. All-in-all it's quite a roller-coaster ride! Chaos, confusion, sadness, anger, uncertainty, constant change... but what an opportunity! Remember... when light shines into dark places... all the nasty ugly stuff hiding in the shadows comes up. As always, faith and flexibility are absolute musts.
Faith, flexibility...and, don't underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint--or a long luxurious soak in the tub just before bed. I know that will be how I get by...and when it is a night with tumultuous planets and heaving stars, I can see clearly now that I have to carry my own light--using my vulnerable points as the enduring constellations to navigate by.