I loved New York when I moved here in 1969. I loved the noise. I loved the grimy subways. I loved the “always openness”. Because it put me next door to art of all kinds and to super-driven, intellectual people. I was normal in New York. Something I had never been before.
Now I am packing up to move out of town. It’s an adjustment that’s taken some work. But I’ve been unhappy living here for almost a decade now. The city has changed. Development has brought crowded streets and stressed out people bumping into each other. The creative underbelly that made the city unique has all but disappeared. Commercial success and box-office draw trump creativity and emerging artists. I have begun to feel that my tribe has packed up and moved elsewhere.
As I prepare to leave, I have begun to seek out city experiences that still have meaning. This past week my friend MIHO and I went to the Old Town Bar for an old-fashioned cheeseburger and fries. I hadn’t been there for years but I found it just as I left it last — high-end neighborhood bar food in a cozy-casual environment.
There used to be really good neighborhood bars all over town. Gathering places for the locals with good food and good draft beer. Gradually they have been replaced by gourmet bistros with fancy touches and a pre-determined table turnover schedule. Dining out has become a play and the customer serves as audience for their dinner. No more the local drinking holes that inspired Cheers … except at the Old Town Bar on 18th Street (and OOTOYA which I wrote about a few weeks ago).
I have a few weeks left. My search for the old New York continues. I will let you know what I discover.
I spent last evening with good friends at a wonderful Japanese restaurant in Chelsea, OOTOYA!
The two friends I was with had told me that they loved to eat in this restaurant because it made them feel like they were eating in a restaurant in Japan. I was very happy to have been invited to share this special experience with them.
One of the first things that I noticed was a feeling of connectedness in the modern, but cozy space. Despite the fact that throughout the evening at least 30% of the dinners were non-Japanese, there was always a sense of a shared experience and not the feeling of isolated dinners that is common in most New York restaurants.
Next came the food, traditional Japanese fare served as is the custom in Japan. I asked my friends to order for me. We know each other really well and I knew they understood my likes and dislikes.
Each of our meals arrived on a large wooden tray. We all began with a savory custard topped with a drizzle of smoked fish sauce (their favorite appetizers and now mine as well). There was a small dish of lightly fermented vegetables and a bowl of the best miso soup I have ever had. Then it was time to deal with the large bowl that was the main event. Mine was deep-fried pork in a rich miso sauce which was still boiling when it arrived at the table. The bowl also contained an egg and a slightly-steamed floret of broccoli, and as I discovered as I ate, a bit of sweet cabbage on the bottom. I ate it all without embarrassment and then put some of the rice that was provided on the side into the sauce which was left in the bowl and ate it with chop sticks, savoring every grain.
We ordered a dessert bento box to share (after a discussion about the fact that traditional bento boxes are lunch boxes). The green tea ice cream was the unanimous favorite.
As we prepared to leave, I said: “Thank you so much! Now I know how to order something besides teriyaki when I go to a Japanese restaurant”. It was followed by a discussion of the glories of a really good cheeseburger and French fries.
A properly shared meal is a vanishing ritual no matter what country one is from. I was privileged to have shared last night’s meal with friends who value the experience as much as I do.
When she next returned to Florida, it was settled. She had a signed contract to sell her apartment up north. She had lived there for over forty years and the final decision was wrenching despite the fact that she had been contemplating the move with increasing intensity for years.
There was no doubt in her mind that the best years of her life lay before her in Florida with the fey. The inhabitants of the Goddess Garden had been making that clear for a long time. Still, she was a Taurus and forty years in one place was a long time. Just the thought of clearing out the apartment was overwhelming. She used working in the yard to shift her focus from fear to balance.
Because of the leaks in the roof, there were now several pieces of furniture that were water damaged. She officially began the next leg of her journey by deciding to burn them in the fire pit with the yard trash instead of trying to repair them. After several nights of putting pieces of those items into flames born of palm fronds and bouganvillea branches, she realized that the items had come from her childhood home after her mother’s death. She was surfacing remnants of unprocessed grief as end tables from her parents’ living room went up in smoke.
“I need relief from the stress up north,” she thought. “I don’t need more emotional overload.”
“You’re clearing the way for your new start. The more space you make, the more blessings will come to you.”
She accepted the wisdom wearily and tried to disappear into the dancing flames before her. The faeries were pleased but not talking.
A few days before she was scheduled to fly back north and dismantle that chapter of her life, there was a full moon in Leo with a lunar eclipse. She lit the fire pit and positioned her chair to face east, awaiting the rising white globe. It had been cloudy the past few evenings and the bright circle had played peek-a-boo with her as it rose. Tonight the clouds were dissipating and she said Thank You as the orb ascended the darkening sky.
A storm had blown through and the wind still churned the trees in the yard. The large oak in front of her began to sparkle as the rising moon gleamed off the shiny, dancing leaves. She thought of the ancient oracles that spoke to people through the rustling of leaves and listened carefully. She sensed a growing serenity but heard no words.
As the moon achieved dominance in the black sky before her, she noticed that it’s light was dancing in the palm tree at the edge of the patio. As the fronds blew in the wind, the sparkling white exploded off of them like fireworks. Then the energy seemed to concentrate in the center of the palm. She knew she was being called. She returned her attention to the dancing flames before her. She placed her awareness in the center of the fire pit and allowed the rising heat to carry her upward. Suddenly she was dancing on the top of the palm tree as the sparkling fronds waved around her. Next her attention was directed to the starry sky above the sparkling palm tree — and then she was gone.
When she finally returned to the patio, she brought no conscious thoughts with her but she understood that she had been initiated into her new life. Everything was different but nothing had changed.
As she sat listening for instructions and explanations, a quiet male energy appeared on the other side of the fire pit. He seemed glad to be there but uncertain about what was happening. She offered him the chair which had appeared next to her and he made his way around the fire pit and sat down. She held out her hand for him to take but he didn’t respond.
“He’s out of body from the physical plane and not used to traveling in the astral realm in this lifetime,” was the thought that came to her. Still she couldn’t help but wonder if he really wanted to be there. The faeries laughed quietly together as the thought went through her head. She returned her attention to the dancing flames as he sat, somewhat disconnected, beside her. She tried to get him to watch the living magic before them and he seemed to respond as exhaustion settled over her.
She watched the flames die down to barely glowing embers and then she went inside to make some dinner and get ready for bed. What had been started that night was the beginning of a lengthy new chapter in her physical plane life. But she was too tired to think about that. Before she could begin her new life in the Goddess Garden she had to write the final chapter of her old life.
(Excerpted from The Faerie Encounters™ © 2017 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks)
It’s been a long time since I updated you about the Goddess Garden and its surrounding plant beds. My life has been complicated for awhile and the Garden e-Diary is one of the things that fell by the wayside. I’m in the process of reorganizing now and trying to get back on track with some of the things I have neglected.
The bougainvillea I planted in the center of the front bed is thriving and blooming happily. The oleander that I divided and replanted in the hexagonal beds on either side of the bougainvillea is doing well also.
In addition to being winter, we’ve had mostly dry conditions in Bradenton for the past few months. Some of my plants are struggling BUT, of course, the weeds are proliferating. The Mango Bed at the west end of the front bed is a good example. I weeded it throughly before I left town on Thanksgiving. It was overgrown again when I returned.
I managed to make time to weed it again before I left town, carefully pulling weeds around the ornamental peanut vines that are meant to be ground cover. The peanut vine has thinned considerable with the drought conditions, but is spreading at the same time. I’m hoping for it to really take over this next growing season. I also trimmed the tips off the little mango tree to encourage it to bush rather than sprawl. I added additional mulch in between the plants I’m trying to encourage (after I took the photo below).
I got the weeds back under basic control before I left town. I will be spending more time at the Florida center this spring and hope to really get things shaped up. I will keep you posted!
Yesterday’s fundraising sale at Herbie Rose’s studio in the Village of the Arts was a HUGE success!
Volunteers helped water colorist Graciela Giles, Herbie’s wife, get an incredible amount of Herbie’s paintings hung. Local restaurants provided food — and people turned out in droves all day to help support this Manatee mentor in his later years.
Herbie laid the foundation for the growth of creativity here in Bradentnon. We see the manifestation of his vision in the Village of the Arts and the soon-to-begin playful expansion of the South Florida Museum.
I attended the event with Jo Ellen Gorris, owner of one of the original 13 Village studios (Clay in the Garden). She told me that she watched Herbie’s painting show on PBS years ago.
As Bradenton works to put itself on the map as a city of the future, it’s nice to know that we aren’t forgetting the people who have brought us this far.
My friend Jo Ellen and I went to a lecture at The Ringling Museum last Tuesday. Anne Patterson was talking about installing Pathless Woods, her fun and inventive room-sized work of art.
If you haven’t experienced this wonder of ribbon and light, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s touchable art that seduces, entertains, and surprises. Bring your inner child if you really want to experience it completely. This is not an intellectual enterprise, despite the fact that Patterson’s credentials are stellar.
I first discovered this special art piece two months ago when my friend Bernie Popovich and I visited the museum to see the new Asian Wing. A security guard told us not to miss Pathless Woods and we didn’t. We were both enchanted.
Hearing about how Patterson, originally schooled as a set designer, stumbled upon this vision, and then figured out how to implement it, only added to my appreciation of the piece. The fact that local volunteers and USF students were involved in the installation made it even more special.
Patterson is working on an installation for Cincinnati next, different but equally exciting. If you enjoy creative experiences, I suggest you keep an eye on her. For me she is not only a compelling artist but someone who has turned her creative skills into a modern-day ministry. (Children lie on the floor and look up at the ribbons floating over head. Adults are now following their example. Enough said.)
Many thanks to The Ringling for bringing this artist to our attention and for giving us the opportunity to engage her one-on-one!
I’ve never been much of a protestor. In the 60″s when my friends were buying gas masks, I spent Saturdays volunteering at the Children’s Art Carnival of Harlem. I went initially to make the world a better place. As these things work, it ended up being my refuge during a very sad time in my life. The staff and other volunteers were very kind to me and the instant gratification of seeing a child light up just because I brought them more red paint kept me going. (And THANK YOU Betty Blayton Taylor for inviting me into that world.)
So, as I watch the disruptor phenomenon take over our government, I encourage those of you with real helping skills (as opposed to a desire to rescue) to follow the Melinda and Bill Gates paradigm. Rather than rage at the abuses, seek out victims who are desperate to become survivors and offer them your help. If you look at MelindaFrenchGates on Instagram, you’ll find wonderful photos of women facing insurmountable obstacles who have refused to go down for the count.
We can make this a better world, but not by constantly giving up our energy to negativity.
Is the Good News of Jesus relevant to us today?
Born out of a file cabinet full of ideas and articles in Willard’s office, this compilation of his work is truly spectacular. Willard was an ordained Southern Baptist minister who built a career as one of the foremost teachers of philosophy in his time. He maintained a unique balance between progressive and conservative thinking which positions him to be increasingly relevant during current ideological debate and its resulting clash of ideas. Black compiled this book with the intention of presenting the full range of Willard’s thoughtful teachings so that readers will have the broadest sense of his work possible.
Despite a career teaching philosophy, Willard firmly believed that spirituality must be solidly grounded in the physical world in order to have true value to human beings. According to Black, Willard had a core belief in the power of ideas to affect everyday life. He devoted much of his career to keeping the Good News of Jesus and his teachings alive and well for humanity. The timeliness of his writings is summed up in the first sentence of the first article in the book: The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon.
Those of you who have given up on Christianity might want to take a look at what Willard distilled from the teachings of Jesus, separate from the religious trappings that have been added on to them since his death. SHOP FOR THE BOOK
© 2017 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks
My cousin Barbie suffered oxygen loss at birth. She never sat up. She never spoke. Her life expectancy was 10 years. She lived more than twice that because her mother, my Aunt Stella, was a nurse. I was in grade school when Aunt Stella sat me down next to Barbie and taught me how to connect with the person she was inside. As I grow older I become more aware of how life altering those moments were for me.
Years later, my childhood friend Edwina and her family were live-in supervisors in a home for abused children. I visited them there often. I held hyperactive infants and played with hyperactive toddlers. The term “crack-addicted-at-birth” hadn’t been invented yet. None of us understood why those children were so difficult to help, but Edwina and her husband and her children and I all connected with the people trapped inside those challenged little bodies.
Soon after that I began attending a small Spiritualist Healing Church. Part of their regular service was Healing Chairs where practitioners trained by the church offered healing to the congregants. One of the practitioners was a young woman with Down’s Syndrome whose chair was often left empty. The first time I sat in her chair I was feeling very magnanimous and superior because I had chosen to do so. When she placed her hands on my shoulders to begin the healing, the heavens opened up and I heard the angels singing. A future teacher, Johanna Decourcy, explained to me that high level spiritual beings often choose to incarnate in challenged physical form to make the statement that the spirit and not the body matters.
When Sarah Pallin, accepting the Vice Presidential nomination, introduced her infant Down’s Syndrome son as “perfectly beautiful”, I cried knowing how many parent’s lives would be changed by the statement.
As I watched Meryl Streep last night at the Golden Globes, I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that her motivation was primarily the McCarthy Era. Regardless of the motivation, I thank her, a person who can portray any person she chooses to become, for saying that it’s not okay to further isolate people who face a distancing world every time they leave their homes.
Several months ago, I was waiting for a bus on 116th Street and a large gentleman of color sat down beside me. It was just the two of us. He turned out to be a schizophrenic and recovering drug addict. He worked, very skillfully, to engage me conversation, eventually leading us into the topic of Trump and racist sentiment. Somehow I was guided to tell him that I believed that no one can change the world. We all just have to deal with the circumstances that are presented to us in the best way possible. It must have been the answer that he needed to hear because he began to tell me that he was being moved out of the group home he had been living in and would be moving to a new neighborhood where he didn’t know anybody. I told him that he had very good social skills and he would make friends wherever he went if he just did what he had been doing. I think it was what he needed to hear because he fell silent and a minute later the M116 bus arrived and we went our separate ways. I felt like a success that day as much as I ever have.
Thank you, Aunt Stella. Thank you, Meryl.
How does God speak to you?
The Christianity that most of us are familiar with is layered over with hierarchical ritual and rules which often distant people from the very thing they look to religion to find. In recent times, social trappings have been added to create the illusion of the free flow of Spirit in return for allegiance. The truth is that Christianity was born at a crossroads of major spiritual/religious influences from around the world. If one has the patience to sort through the history and literature with a listening heart, rather than a chattering mind, the roots of all that spiritual wisdom can be found in the written records of the many, many people who have found the door to transcendence within the Christian faiths.
This is not just a book about “saints”, a term which has come to have more to do with morality than spirituality. McColman includes the wisdom of the “heretics” as well. He asks readers to look past the limitations of individual people and understand the spiritual experience of the soul contained within the body.
Written for people who want to encounter the mystics rather than study them, McColman encourages us to read the book devotionally rather than academically, allowing the Holy Spirit to enter our lives and transform us.
This book provides a broad range of examples, from C.S. Lewis to Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom have something to share with us, regardless of our motivation for reading about Christian mysticism. SHOP FOR THE BOOK
© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks