Featured

Treading Water

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photo credit © westcoastwoman

If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.

Pablo Neruda
***

Treading Water

The tide is coming in. A long, hot summer day is coming to an end when I hear my neighbours voice.  “Come on girl, get out here”.  She stands waist deep in the cool water of the incoming tide and I lose no time in joining her.  We take the plunge together, the one I usually resist until the last moment– letting go and going completely under.

Swimming out over our heads we start treading water and talking, a talk that soon turns to a version of one that is reverberating all over the planet.  We speak of the human condition, the planetary condition, the white privilege that has allowed us to live and tread water under a rising moon on a beautiful island off the West Coast of North America.  We speak of this and more as we slowly drift from shore.

I am facing out to sea and by the time I look back, the shore appears to be distant and I am starting to lose strength.  The conversation continues as I change the movement of my arms and we both slowly move back towards a place where we will ‘touch ground’ again.  I reach intermittently with my toe, longing to feel the safety of the sea bed. There are two conversations going on, one with my companion the other within myself.

I am a strong swimmer and could have easily floated on my back if I felt too tired to swim or tread but each time my foot reaches for security and doesn’t find it there is a slight feeling of panic and then palpable relief when my toe finally does find bottom.  I am surprised by the intensity of both feelings.

Sitting on the deck later that night I realized how long I’ve had the feeling I was treading water–we have been treading water as a world community.  There is a collective need for our toes to touch the sea bed and feel the familiar security and comfort of solid ground.

As we head back towards shore perhaps we are being called to dive;  dive deep within ourselves and return with our particular part of the puzzle.  No one gets to sit this one out.  There is no ‘us and them’. There is only us.

A Call to Arms.  Arms to reach out, arms to hold, arms raised with clenched fists in resistance and arms spread in surrender.

We are over our heads.
We are treading water.
The call is out.

© westcoastwoman

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photo credit Marc Riboud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Threshold

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Photo Linda McDaniel

“Time is an Ocean, present and eternal. We are adrift on that ocean of possibility, you and I , and the miracle is that we find each other at all. Maybe it’s age that keeps me scanning the horizon, looking for you, waving, bobbing in that sustaining current, because I want to hold eternal moments closer now. We move through time and space separately, and the mystery of our meeting is time’s gift to us. Swim with me now. We have no other chance.”

Richard Wagamese  “Embers   One Ojibway’s Meditations”

                                                  ___________________________________________________________

 

THRESHOLDS

Gateways, doorways and thresholds all inviting an entrance or an exit, their silent message  ‘the only way out (or in) is through.’

We arrive at our personal thresholds through a naturally arranged opening, the decision to step forward or not, totally in our hands.

Fingers on the latch speak of transition and escape but mostly possibilities that lie beyond fear.

Push the latch and set the barrier free, disengage, turn sideways into the light and it will both dissolve and expose you.

We stand on the shoreline, toes in the water not wanting to leave safe harbour despite knowing instinctively how to navigate rough seas, rising with the swells and resting in the trough.

The surrender that brings you again to the surface the vulnerability of the letting go and the trust needed for both, all released with a push of a latch .

©westcoastwoman

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©westcoastwoman

written in response to Denise’s “Six Sentence Stories” Prompt word: Escape

 

 

 

 

Featured

“the Parade of our Mutual Life”

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It was a year ago today that I set up this site (as I was reminded by a Congratulatory! email) a year since my finger hovered over the pink ‘publish’ button and I somehow got the courage to touch it.

A year that started by reading the words of Others ….. that being the great gift.  Stumbling upon writer after writer whose words spoke so deeply and honestly I felt ‘broken open’ and that opening allowing more of my inner world to be exposed.

One site led to another, it felt like climbing on a large web of linked consciousness, each writer working in their own corners writing words that only they could release .
I started to hear this as the ‘collective human howl’.

Joy, pain, darkness and light all being expressed individually and in perfect unison. A virtual worldwide Salon of sorts where the doors are always open and swinging both ways, all ways. Everyone welcome….so grateful I stepped through the threshold.

” it is important that awake people be awake” William Stafford

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©westcoast woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Release

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©westcoastwoman

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”     Anais Nin

Release

We tend gardens in Spring under the illusion that we somehow affect the outcome, that our careful placement of seed or plant has anything to do with the eventual opening of the buds of May.

No credit given to the artist and unknown creator of the fragile petals that unfold, we proudly display our garden, rarely acknowledging that we are just the temporary curators of an impermanent living  gallery.

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© westcoastwoman

Our heart and spirit are also part of this life gallery, we too are meant to unfold and flower in this fleeting moment we occupy space on the planet.

Not born to stay “tight in the bud” we struggle in darkness until most of us break open, this second opening no less courageous than our journey from the womb.

Conscious of our consciousness and knowing that venturing forward will involve both great pain along with pleasure, we willingly submit and release ourselves again and again to the unknown.

One undeniable truth “No one gets out of here alive” and we who have experienced all that this life has to offer will finally stand in complete and exquisite exhaustion and wonder at our solitary arrival and departure on this mysterious journey ………
© westcoastwoman

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Sculpture   EXPANSION, THIRD LIFE
Paige Bradley

This was written in response to Girlieonthedge  Six Sentence Story Thursday
Prompt word: Release

 

 

 

Featured

Afterglow

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photo credit westcoastwoman ©

“Everyday a new picture is painted and framed, held up for half an hour, in such lights as the Great Artist chooses, and then withdrawn, and the curtain falls. And then the sun goes down, and long the afterglow gives light.”

Henry David Thoreau

Afterglow

Every night they come, the watchers of the sun-set, drawn down by the need to see the light extinguish behind the islands and the sea.

I want to share with them as they slowly rise and disperse that the setting of the sun is only a prelude to the experience they had been called to witness, but I stay silent.

It is this time between the setting sun and rising moon, this short extension of the day, this in-between-time when my heart and mind settle for just a moment.

I watch as the sky paints itself with each night’s original palette, wanting only to share with those who can look out from the same place and feel the colours as they appear, understand the need for silence.

In these moments when I am neither here nor there, anything is possible, magic is afoot and I am caught in the afterglow of another original creation as it slowly fades from sight.

The darkness takes the light, the starlings swoop once more in perfect unison over the water, I share with all who stand watching… being neither here nor there, a silent good night.

westcoastwoman 2019 ©

Written in response to GirlieontheEdge’s  Six Sentence Story Word Prompt
Prompt word : Extension 

 

 

Featured

Naked in Yalova (or don’t get caught with your pants down in a Turkish Bath)

Photo of woman’s Hamam in Gokcedere, Yalova, Turkey

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I must be a Mermaid, I have no fear of depths, and a great fear of shallow living”
Anais Nin

“You must have a Turkish Bath in Istanbul!” my well travelled friend advised me before I set out on my latest adventure. Upon arrival in Turkey I continued to hear about   Hamam ( Turkish Bath) as something one must experience and I resolved to book an appointment on my return to Istanbul from the small village where I would spend the next week.

My destination was the Turkish village of Gokcedere, Yalova where I was to attend a workshop.   One afternoon following a bus excursion my seat mate Caroline mentioned she was going to the local Hamam before dinner. I expressed interest and when we reached the hotel headed down together into the older area of town. As we walked and talked it was revealed that neither of us actually knew what was involved in Hammam but both naively agreed that this would no doubt be an ‘authentic’ experience.

Our first project was to actually locate the women Hammam, signage was minimal and even when located it was in Turkish. Once inside there was no doubt that this indeed was going to be an ‘authentic’ experience. No pampering North American  mood music or lush white robes offered here. We were confronted with two no nonsense local women.  Hanging behind them on the wall were numerous signs all written in Turkish that I had to assume explained everything we needed to know.

Caroline took charge, held up her bathing suit and through sign language we deciphered that we should put them on and head into the marble catacombs below. It was at this juncture I realized that perhaps I should have done a little research as to what exactly was involved with Hamam. Caroline somehow deduced that we had not paid for a ‘full treatment’ so after more lira was exchanged, down we went to the pool area.

The building was ancient and the marble stained by years of running water and bathing bodies. There were two circular rooms attached by an archway, marble sinks located every six feet that contained bright plastic coloured bowls. The only other participant, a large voluptuous naked Turkish woman had filled her sink and was pouring water on herself as she sat on the floor.

Caroline and I sized up the situation and decided to take our cue from the only other customer and by the time one of the attendants had made her way down to check on us Caroline had her suit off and was filling her sink and I had mine down around my knees getting ready to fill mine.

Standing naked except for a tangled bathing suit at my knees we were now confronted by a loud angry attendant attempting to communicate to us in Turkish something that was not obvious to either of us. Frustrated by our lack of comprehension she then grabbed a Turkish sign off the wall, held it in front of her and continued to berate us.

Desperate to translate what was being said I searched the signs on the wall behind her looking for anything in English. The only English sign in the entire building said “No Photos or Videos”. Even in the heat of the moment I found it amusing that anyone would think it appropriate to take photos or videos in the baths and at the same time it crossed my mind what a priceless video this would make.

Out of the corner of my eye I observed our large naked companion had risen to her feet and it was revealed that she was not completely naked, she had some form of bikini bottom on.  It became clear this was our problem and we quickly remedied the situation.

Now half-naked we attempted to soak in the too hot pool, lie on the burning hot marble that resisted cooling even when doused with buckets of cold water and breath in a sauna that was just this side of suffocating.

The large local woman was led away to have done to her whatever we had each paid an extra 30 Turkish lira to have done to us. It was decided I would go first and when the attendant (the same one who had scolded us) came to collect me, I followed dutifully  behind.

We travelled a narrow cave like opening to a small room and into a rather awkward situation. There were two marble sinks, our fellow bather was still in the room pouring water on herself. I was motioned to hoist myself on to what looked like a picnic table draped with a red plastic tablecloth. My look must have said “you got to be kidding me”  because she then threw a bucket of water over the plastic thinking I’m sure that should appease me.

I am not sure what words were exchanged between the two women but eventually the attendant and I were left alone in the room. What happened next would best be described as having your whole body scraped with sandpaper, totally, front, back and face. Unable to communicate with her verbally I mostly endured and sometimes used sign language as we navigated the procedure.  Grateful when it was over I positioned myself at the side of the table about to hop off when without warning a bucket of water was poured over my head leaving me gasping for air. I made my way back to the baths, gave Caroline a little smile and warning and off she went.

We were planning on a bit of shopping afterwards but Caroline’s comment as we left was “I would like to get back to the security of the hotel” which had us both chuckling.

Authentic it certainly was, fodder for a great story and I must say my skin had never felt so soft. So my well travelled friend, I did Hamam and survived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ridin’ on a Freeway…..”

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©photo credit westcoastwoman

I am a gardener. A number of years ago while studying Garden Design I was asked to do a project on garden ornamentation.

I started by scouring the better parts of the city looking for aesthetically pleasing displays, they were easily found but something was lacking. I wandered collecting the photographs but as I walked I felt like I needed something more. Yes, the gardens were lovely but that was it, they were ‘just’ lovely. All trimmed and ornamented  everything in it’s place….. this would not do, I needed some meat, something interesting.

That is when I stumbled upon the Adam and Eve of Cadillacs, pink and blue, male and female, here in a rather dishevelled display I could almost see the yin and yang of life. I was so taken with the partially interred Pink Cadillac I almost completely missed her blue mate in the background.

Standing in awe of this rather strange spectacle I was joined by one of the neighbours who shared with me that the brake lights on Eve were lit up every night. I assume in a show of ‘Respect’ and a reflection that there was life in the old girl yet.

Obviously there was great affection for the ‘deceased’ vehicle (although she could have used a bit of a wash). I like to think that perhaps parts of Eve had been used to keep Adam up and running and that he paid her homage each time he backed out of the driveway.

Now this was garden ornamentation! perhaps gone wrong, but certainly never forgotten. My completed project consisted only of what I considered wacky garden art, gardens on the edge and they were easier to find than one would imagine. The Garden Designers, the ‘people’ on the edge of the garden, now there is a story waiting to be told.

I think there are a couple of Aretha Franklin songs in here somewhere.

“We’re going ridin’ on a freeway of love in a Pink Cadillac”  Aretha Franklin”

©westcoastwoman 2019