Good Things Come…

651d184b026fb7ecd9f9e6575e822f6bI know many an artist (and other women folk) who rise in the wee hours to their craft when they can’t sleep, but not me. The last time I got up from bed to write was on the eve of my 50th birthday, almost three years ago; and now tonight, with the Harvest Moon lighting up the house, and rising inexplicably in me–memories of Steamboat Springs, 1986, when I taught preschoolers to ski.

I looked good on my application (a college graduate who’d been skiing since the age of 10), and I passed my PT exam with flying colors (because of my meaty thighs), but during the slope side screening, I took a tumble, so unaccustomed was I to deep powder after years of riding the rocks back east (even though I’d been introduced to skiing in the Rockies, more than a decade earlier, when binders had cables, and Copper Mountain was a new thing.)

Good things come.

That tumble didn’t cost me the position, but it did place me with the bottom group of students through much of that winter.

Each morning, with my education degree and high honors, I’d carefully place those rugrats on the rug in the snow at the bottom of the hill, and soon enough, one would fall, and take down the others, and mittens would come off, and someone would need to pee, and someone wanted his mama, and everyone would cry, including me (well, maybe not, but I wanted to.)

Eventually, after the New Year, I moved up to level B, just every once and awhile–to the rope tow.

Do I need to say more than: Rope tow?  Remember leather mittens?

I’d place a kid between my meaty thighs and let the rope yank us onto the track and up the hill, and hope that his skis didn’t cross mine and that we didn’t tumble before we made it to the top where we’d just as awkwardly let go of the rope and then hop out of the way before it knocked us over, and then we’d ski, together, like a kangaroo and her joey, down the tiny slope to the pile of whining kids on the rug waiting their turn.

Good things come.

At the tail end of winter, a boy from Texas, who had never seen snow before, liked my class so much, that his parents requested a private–and not with a specialist, but with me. Which excused me the rest of the week from classes.

This little four-year old Texan and I spent our day skiing all over the mountain. Like free. We even ate lunch on top of the mountain, in the grown up cafe, a table for two, instead of down bottom, on the cafeteria tables, with snotty-nosed kids and rubbery grilled cheese sandwiches. (I used to eat three of those after skiing with kids between my knees all morning.)

By the end of the week, that boy, who had never seen snow, skied better than me. That’s the way it was with those little fuss pots, once they got over missing their moms and loosing their mittens and needing to pee.

546872_10151458941438746_766586566_nGood things come.

Each morning, I’d roll out of bed, take some Ibuprofen for my hangover, pull on my turtle neck and my ski bibs, and walk down the mountain from the condo that I shared with 4 other beach friends, including the twenty-one year old college drop out who followed me west, and who is still sleeping in my bed tonight, all these years later.

“Don’t go,” he says, as my rising stirs him from sleep. “Let’s have sex instead.”

Back in the day, in between my day job on the mountain and my night job in the restaurant, I’d skip dinner just to make him happy, but now this Pisces moon is stirring memories in me so I leave my old lover in our bed and head down the stairs to the moonlight on the floor of the livingroom.

524958_10151458924138746_1209171228_nGood things come.

Just before I’d report to the ski school, I stop at the vending machine in the hallway for my breakfast–a Cherry Cola (for the fruit), and a pack of peanut butter sandwich crackers (for the protein.) Then I’d check in at the front desk to get my slip for the day.

On that little sheet of green paper would be a list of names up to 9!–and the letter A, for the rugrats; or B for the rope-tow kids; and always more names than you wanted to see on one slip. But then one day, unexpectedly, come spring, it said neither A or B; in fact, that day and every day after that, as the sun grew stronger, and the days grew warmer, there would only be a few names on my list–maybe 3, or 4 or 5, but no more, and always the same letter: C.  Sometimes C-1 or C-2, but then later, C-3 and 4s.

Every day in March was sun glasses and mountaintop views and having so much fun that we forgot about parents and who needed mittens as we inched our way from the lift to a beginner or intermediate or expert run, hollering in song…  “Walk like an Egyptian.”

Good things come.

Later, my boss told me that the administration was so impressed with my positive attitude all winter (meaning I hadn’t grumbled like the rest of them when I was  handed sheet after sheet with the letter A or B) that they thought I deserved to coast out the spring season with C’s.

Good things come.

Paige BradleyI’ve been having a strong sense this week and particularly today–that good things were coming, even though today was one of my hardest days, with the full moon accentuating all of life’s blessings and challenges.

There’s something promising in this autumn air along with the renewed prana.

The moon has shifted across the sky, and my livingroom is now dark instead of filled with light, and moths keep crashing into my screen.

Good things come.

I’m ready to coast.

Me & my A’s at the bottom of the hill, Steamboat Springs, 1986
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“Ready to die”

cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-v1_at_8001.jpgMy son returns to college this weekend so I’m thinking about death.
Mainly my own.
How everything good ends.
And how life is such a trickster.
Sucking us in by love, disarming us of our defenses, distracting us with the infinity of doing, and then VOILA–death! Ending. Finality.

Having a family is the worse (or is it “worst.”) Simply because it seems so permanent. Particularly in the trenches. Like the diapers and the feedings and the messes will never end. And when they did, I was HAPPY.

But now, I’m 51. With a second foot into the decade that took the lives of my beloved mother and the grandmother I adored.

Plus it’s winter. A particularly hard and cold and frozen week of January in Vermont. The darkest time of year. And in Paris, a bunch of people were butchered.

“We’re ready to die,” said the terrorists.

A friend relays that he had a moment on his mat this week where he felt that it was okay to die. Really okay.

I had that once too. On my knees. In the garden. Rain soaked. My hands in dirt.

What if we woke every day with this aim?

Without saving any love or expression “for later.”

To be ready TO DIE in each moment.

But not like this:

answers to the: 11 questions to ask while shaping a memoir

Holly Sierra
Holly Sierra
  1. Why am I writing this story?

    Because it asked to be written.

  2. Why am I compelled to share it?

    Because I saw a gold-leafed binding.
    Because I like to be helpful.
    Because I want to alleviate suffering, mine and others.

  3. What is the message in the telling?

    Life transcends story. Life is steeped in story.
    The story is both personal and divine play.

  4. What shapes the story?

    My personal loss. Our common heart.

  5. Who are the readers?

    Those interested in the story and the transcendence of it.

  6. How does this work align with my life purpose?

    To explore, speak, shape & celebrate the truth in the story and beyond it.

  7. How does this work transcend any measure of outer success?

    Damn it. I don’t like this question.
    Truth serves truth, I suppose.

  8. What is rare about this offering?

    It is my singular dance with all that is.

  9. What justifies the amount of time I have devoted to the work?

    I don’t like this question either.
    Truth, art, expression–the dance.

  10. Who am I in this story?

    A seeker. A child of God. A motherless child. A princess. A queen. A woman.
    Myself. In communion with the Divine Feminine.

  11.  Where will you begin and end?

    With the Divine Feminine:
    At the moment of my deepest loss (at 14);
    and in the moment of sweet self-compassion/revelation (on the eve of my 50th birthday.)

~The Yoga of Lila

11 questions to ask while shaping a memoir

  1. Holly Sierra
    Holly Sierra

    Why am I writing this story?

  2. Why am I compelled to share it?
  3. What is the message in the telling?
  4. What shapes the story?
  5. Who are the readers?
  6. How does this work align with my life purpose?
  7. How does this work transcend any measure of outer success?
  8. What is rare about this offering?
  9. What justifies the amount of time I have devoted to the work?
  10. Who am I in this story?
  11. (What questions do you ask yourself?)

50 Shades of Gratitude

Leave behind the gray and step into gratitude, in 50 shades, of course.
Here’s my list on the approach of my 50th birthday.
No doubt you have yours…
1451610_10152087307363746_954805326_n

  1. An entire week, a year, a life… to sense, reflect & write my way to 50.
  2. The gift of my body… to love, to dance, to birth, to nurse, to move through space.
  3. The community of Marlboro, Vermont.
  4. Marlboro Elementary School.
  5. Southern Vermont–where so many find so many ways to celebrate art, voice and humanity.
  6. The state of Vermont which I’ve been proud to call home for 20 years.
  7. SOUTH POND.
  8. NERINGA POND.
  9. The Whetstone Brook.
  10. MacArthur Road.
  11. Dan’s emerging rock sculptures up MacArthur Rd.
  12. Whetstone Ledges Farm Stand
  13. The music makers. Local. Worldwide.
  14. Libraries, everywhere.
  15. Cafes, everywhere. But especially our Amy’s.
  16. Cities. Kyoto. Paris. New York.
  17. The United Nations.
  18. kelly-back-2-version-2-e1386332111765WOMEN.
  19. CHILDREN.
  20. Men, men, men.
  21. New life… plants, babies, animals.
  22. The splendor of frost.
  23. TWILIGHT.
  24. The sun on the water at day’s end.
  25. That time of day when water becomes glass.
  26. 7 Sisters.
  27. ONE BROTHER.
  28. Two sons.
  29. One AMAZING man who has loved me and taken care of me and celebrated me for almost 30 years.
  30. Childhood friends. Highschool friends. College friends. Traveling friends. International friends. Local friends. New friends. Friends to come.
  31. Mentors. Colleagues. Leaders. Teachers.
  32. The SUN.
  33. Conversations.
  34. The male mind.
  35. Male confidence.
  36. Male competence.
  37. The men who have been my friends. Who have fed my mind. Who have complimented me in ways that have nourished me through time.
  38. WATER. Drinking, bathing, showering, playing, watching, gliding, skating. Wine with.
  39. The women who have shaped my life. Who have paved the way.
  40. Bellies.
  41. Birth.
  42. Lovemaking.
  43. Tequila.
  44. Irreverence.
  45. The sacred.
  46. Bliss.
  47. Yoga.
  48. Loving Me.
  49. Being 49.
  50. (Shit, how did I get to 50 already!)
    To Be Continued…

Kelly BackMore on the Path to 50:

FU 50′s
Flat 50
Being 49

Tribute to the 40′s
30′s Retrospective
Turning 20
The Hardest Decade? 10-19
The First Decade

The Cost of a Calling (on writing)

Kelly Salasin

Writing is an expensive calling. And I’m not talking about the jobs we quit so that we could delve deeper into it.

Writing costs people. Relationships. Friends. Communities. Alma Maters. Even countries. (Frank McCourt could tell you about that.)

We do it anyway.

Why?

Not because we don’t give a fuck.

But because we do.

In the words of Natalie Goldberg, “We are writing because we love the world.”