Fluent Self April - the month of Gleaming

Photo by Craig Fritz / @craigfritzeye, taken on the grounds of the new retreat center!

Enchantments on the kitchen floor

“Babe,” says Circe the Enchantress.
“I know,” I say, “I’m gleaming the floor for you.”

Gleaming is Circe’s favorite word. Gleam and shimmer. Mend and tend. These are her words, her spells because Circe speaks in spells, but especially GLEAMING.

She wants everything to be gleaming, and she uses it as a verb. Let’s gleam this. The sink is not gleaming, it needs to be gleamed. Gleam all the surfaces.

“The pantry needs tending first,” says Circe the Enchantress, insistent.
“I want to finish the floors though,” I say, even as I recognize that arguing with a powerful enchantress who resides in a magical garden is probably the least wise decision I could make right now. And that’s in a month that has been characterized by pretty much nothing but increasingly poor decisions.

Noir

I swear I’ve reached film-noir-protagonist levels of regrettable decisions, aka when something — usually some combination of desire, desperation and just not paying attention leads you to do something you know is not right or at least iffy, and then the one bad move just cascades into seemingly unending consequences.

Haha, and here we are in some previously unknown and unimagined realm of some next-level Shit Hitting The Fan where everything is breaking, and why is everything breaking.

Hmmmmm

This might also be a monster-story.

In other words, this might be a false interpretation of the facts. Yes, an alarming number things appear to be breaking and exiting, crashing and disintegrating, but is that not just a continuation of the spell May All That Is Unworthy Exit Swiftly And Easily?

Maybe we just need a new spell of The New, Beautiful & Harmonious Lands With Ease.

Maybe we just need to look differently at the breaking, a shift in perception, how I choose to perceive. And is this not also a form of shape-shifting?

Either way, I remain somewhere between annoyed and panicked by all the breaking, while Circe the Enchantress remains Gloriously Unbothered by all of it, because that’s her entire thing, her defining characteristic.

As always

“It’s really not my defining characteristic,” says Circe the Enchantress.
“What’s your defining characteristic?” I want to know. “Turning men into pigs?”
“That would be turning them back into pigs, and if they don’t want that to happen then they shouldn’t try to cross me,” says Circe. “And no, that’s not it. You know what it is.”
“I don’t think I do,” I say.
“Then you’ll just have to pay more attention, babe,” says Circe, who is again, as fucking always, Extremely Unbothered by everything, which happens to be the superpower I desire with my entire being as well as the one I am completely unable to embody while everything is breaking.

Place.

I gleam the floor exactly the way Circe likes. First you sweep, then vacuum, then steam-mop, and finally rub peppermint oil at the baseboards as a spell so that all the desert creatures are reminded about their rightful place aka outdoors.

When I am finished with the floor, I want to make a goodnight potion. Except when I open the door to the pantry, you guessed it, a glass bottle immediately hurls itself off of the shelf and breaks into a thousand pieces, and I have to gleam the floor all over again.

“MOTHERFUCKER!” is what I shout, then I wait for an I Told You So from Circe the Enchantress, but she is unbothered. I’m the only one who is bothered, and I am extremely bothered.

Haha, that might be my defining characteristic at the moment. Saturated, maybe. Like to the point of worn down when absolutely anything can last-straw me.

Tired / Tires / Retired / Retires

I tried to make myself go dancing even though I knew I was too tired to go dancing, and then Star Car flashed the scary low tire pressure light, so I didn’t go. I chose rest, or you could say that rest chose me, and it was right.

The next day we discovered torn up bits in my front tires, and to be clear, I one hundred percent blame Border Patrol for this, but that is another story for another day, and also there are honestly way more terrible and horrifying things that Border Patrol does on a daily basis, much, much worse than driving fast and reckless on my tail on a winding, hilly, unlit country road in the middle of the night, until I bounced over some sharp rocks onto what I hoped was a pullout. But this is just to say fuck them — or is that hex them, they can all be turned into pigs too, after they are tried for war crimes, amen.

Anyway, $300 USD later, Star Car had two new tires, and I was like, augh to hell with everything why does nothing work. But Circe the Enchantress said, “NOW YOU ARE READY FOR ANYTHING. Don’t you just love the feeling of ready for anything?”

Let’s Mary Oliver this

So there I was, furious and frustrated, with Circe still Gloriously Unbothered, and I decided to play a game I call How Would Mary Oliver Experience This?

What would our beloved Mary Oliver notice, enjoy and find praise-worthy here? How much pleasure would she take in this now deliciously smooth ride? And would she not prioritize that pleasure over the temporal human irritability about expenses and the story of everything breaking?

Of course she’d appreciate the warm voice of the person who knew exactly how to solve the tire situation, she would feel the powerful deep exhale of hey this is solvable and we can solve this. She’d love these enormous Arizona cloudscapes, I imagine us laughing about how the sky here is like the sea, always changing, always wild.

My amazing co-conspirator Kat named more of these WWMOD (What Would Mary Oliver Do) superpowers, and can we take a breath for how perfect these are?

Transmuting Each Experience Into Poetry. Close Observation Grounded In Loving The World. Unflinching Truth Even When Sorrowful But Also Unimpressed By Seriousness.

This is the practice

Yes, this is what I am trying to do. This is part of my bridge to becoming Circe, to embodying her powers and her certainty, integrating her wisdom, learning how to glow-and-gleam that gloriously unbothered everything, to be in my steady quiet knowing that things are more okay than I think in my world, and I am okay, even when I am thrown.

And if I am bothered, this is okay too, it makes sense, really who wouldn’t be thrown by all this breaking. Understandable.

Not to mention all the breaking around us, the barrage of terrible and frightening news, the systems that aren’t working, the folks in danger, not knowing how best to serve and support.

Still here

The next day I got into it with a porch step, and a rusty nail sliced up the inside of my wrist, didn’t get a vein but a close call. Scary. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gotten a tetanus shot, but luckily I had powerful new tires ready to take me into civilization to get that taken care of.

And now I have an awesome and slightly terrifying scar to remind me that things will break and I am still okay.

Tend

I am trying to stay focused on the superpowers of EVERYTHING IS CUMULATIVE AND FRACTAL.

In other words, everything I do — a nap, breaking down, even breaking a glass and having to re-gleam the floors, each act of doing or not-doing, undoing or redoing, all of it is somehow mysteriously supporting my wishes and desires, moving me towards my goals even if it appears to be doing the opposite.

Small steps count exponentially. Perceived detours or obstacles are not taking me away from the path, they’re part of the path, they are next steps, they are asking me to make things more congruent.

Also, I am a star for persevering. Trying to remember this.

Math

I did the math and realized that depending on what you define as a relatively safe and dependable living situation, I have spent between 6.5 and 10 years of my life houseless.

I thought that arriving in a place, finally landing after these last few years of uprooted and wandering, would somehow solve a lot of things, and it absolutely did, but I am also re-learning that landing means finally having the space to properly fall apart, which is partly why landing is such a big deal.

And while falling apart was not part of the plan, it is allowed and understandable, and it will take as long as it takes.

So yes, if everything in my life needs to literally break to remind me that falling apart is a thing, then okay, I will pay attention eventually. I am paying attention now.

Reduce

“Babe,” says Circe, again. “The pantry.”
“We just gleamed the pantry three days ago,” I say.
“It has items you do not use and do not love,” says Circe the Enchantress. “You didn’t even use them when you were snowed in for days. Reduce reduce reduce. The hearth is for magic, not for cans of things you forget about.”

The next day the oven stopped working and then two days later the pantry needed to be removed, and soon the entire kitchen was volunteering its way out, and I had to fit the entire contents of the kitchen into one cabinet. Though luckily I had just done all that reducing…

Fuck!!!” I say.
“It’s a good thing, trust me”, says Circe the Enchantress.
“How is this a good thing?”
“You’re asking the wrong question, babe”, says Circe the Enchantress, and she is probably right, she usually is.

Denkmal

The German word for monument is Denkmal, which means THINK FOR A MOMENT.

Such a beautiful and perfect word, so compact and such a clear and direct invitation: pause please!

Can we stop what we are doing and just reflect for a moment on the how-and-why of what we are doing and is this how we wish to doing it? Can we breathe and remember?

The long scar on my wrist is a think-a-moment for staying present in the process of removing old boards from a structure that no longer supports me (cough, my porch is a metaphor), and the space where my cupboards once were is a denkmal for the question of what wants to be stored and what wants to be set free.

Tending

I asked Circe what a sorceress does in/with an enchanted garden, and she said TENDING, and then very abruptly exited the conversation as if to say, “okay babe you need to work with that concept for a while before we can talk about other things…”

She has a point.

Clearly TENDING is a base level principle that I need to get and don’t, many layers to tending that I need to explore, and that’s what I’m doing. Gleaming into shimmering. Tending in order to mend.

Tending with tenderness.

Nineteen minutes in the enchanted garden

Each day I spend nineteen minutes in the enchanted garden where I am clearing space for a labyrinth-to-be. You can see pictures of the slow and steady progress and breathtaking views on the a Fluent Self instagram if you want!

Pruning, digging up plants, moving rocks. Clearing the path to clear the path. Making space to envision. Working towards roundness. Learning to tend. Tend and intend.

I talk to the plants and trees, telling them about the labyrinth, what big transformative magic will live here for all the secret agents who come to retreat at the center. I ask for their help with the mission.

This is something I learned how to do twenty-five years ago while working in the orchards. Trees often don’t want their branches trimmed and they will resist, but if you explain that cutting away these bits will help them grow taller and in the right directions, you can feel them relax and ease up. They always like their new haircut, and I feel better because I didn’t have to work as hard. So maybe I’ve known about magic for longer than I think.

Space

An Extremely Obvious Epiphany while pruning and digging up plants:

Tending = how you make space for what you really want

You tend to things because it is what is needed, but the tending brings clarity and perspective. It shows you what is currently incongruent and disharmonious, but also what is possible.

When I don’t tend to things, they become iguanas (things I do not want to even look at), and then it is harder to come back to the tending rituals.

Shift

I was tending to a pile of papers because Circe doesn’t believe in piles, or junk drawers, she likes everything out in the open, clear and revealed.

I found a faded note that says SHIVA ANAGRAMS TO HAVI S, and I am Havi, but what is S?

S is shape-shifting. What does a Havi do? A Havi shifts shapes.

Shapes

What does it mean to shift shapes? To turn into, transform, transmogrify, reveal. To be flexible and playful, to let things change form and reconfigure as needed.

Interestingly, this is also what Shiva does, breaking things down to their elements to be rebuilt, and for sure if everything is breaking, that is Shiva energy.

And of course, this is Circe’s thing. It is her defining characteristic (ahhhhh, there it is) and why she is so gloriously unbothered all the time, because why fret when you know that anything can shift shapes, what seems to be a disaster is really just a shape that hasn’t shifted yet.

This is why she is asking me to Tend & Mend, Gleam & Shimmer. She wants me to be a shape-shifter like she is, and this is how you train for it.

What are the shapes that I shift between

A dancer shifts shapes in space, a writer shifts shapes through words, a sorceress in the desert is sometimes the ocotillo and sometimes the agave or the prickly pear, sometimes the mountains and at other times the light that turns the mountains purple.

Being & Becoming

When I become more of myself, when I embody the qualities of Incoming Me, I am shifting shape from me to even-more-me.

What is the shape of embodying? It is the play between being and becoming. Being into becoming. This is my suchness, my bell-essence, my glow-state.

Devotion

Circe the Enchantress can shift the shape of an experience, a mood, a reaction, shift the energy in the room, change things into other things and then back again, or not.

She has a garden of tiny wooden pig statues, each one a denkmal for We Are Done With That Shit: No One Can Mistreat You Or Lie To You Or Take You For Granted Now Babe.

Circe the Enchantress knows that gleaming the floor is much more than gleaming the floor, it is a devotional ritual to transform a space, as well as how you experience that space and what is possible to experience within that space.

Gleam & Shimmer / Mend & Tend

Small practices. Quiet rituals. The work is cut out and set up and waiting for me to say YES I AM HERE.

Gleaming o’clock.

I learn about how shifting works through listening and observing. What would Mary Oliver do? She would find something beautiful to praise. She would tend to the tending.

A breath too for Moshe Feldenkrais, another great observer of life: “You can’t do what you want unless you know what you’re doing.”

Into the Gleaming we go. That’s where the Wild Clarity lives.

Into the gleaming we go. Join me?

My enchanted garden aside, what else wants to be lovingly TENDED to for nineteen minutes?

Off the top of my head:

I could gleam something, talk to Incoming Me, skip a stone, interview a project, roll around on the floor, pick a book from my TBR pile and just read, tend to my body, tend to my space, go on a clue walk, put things where they go…

I am trying to give my minutes to what not particularly stuck, because I want to look forward to the daily ritual of nineteen. If something is [perception of stuck], I might devote my minutes to journaling with me-who-has-solved-it, or me-who-is-two-steps-ahead, ask them about the complete-willingness-units for getting started.

Join me. What do we want to gleam into?

Into the Gleaming we go.

I am opening up space for FOUR MONTHS of sharing this ritual of 19 minutes in community. Devote 19 minutes of Devotion to a ritual you’ve been craving or a wish-goal that is asking for attention, or switch it up (shape shift!) and see what calls you each day.

I’m calling this Operation Spells & Bells, you can call it whatever you want. ;)

Excitement to see what happens or changes, what magic will come over four months of ritual, devoting ourselves to loving attentiveness, curiosity and play.

And GUESS WHAT! A SPECIAL PRICE for you, sweet faraway online friend

I am extremely excited about this four month adventure and can’t wait to begin, and also have not written the page to announce it yet, and to be quite honest, am not even sure if I have it in me, so…

Offered with love: a significant discount ($77 USD as opposed to the full price which will be $167 USD) for anyone who signs up before I get around to actually promoting it. THANK YOU in advance for the gift of an early yes.

We will play together from May 30 through fall equinox, although if enough people sign up, I am happy to bump the start date to May 24 which also happens to be National Aviation Maintenance Day, and if that’s not a metaphor for something, I don’t know what is. Here’s the discounted sign-up link!

As always: breathe into your yes, the power of the collective will work wild magic no matter how much or often you participate or not!

Let’s play!

You are welcome/invited to use the comment space to share any !!! or anything sparked for you about GLEAMING or Circe the Enchantress or really anything I wrote about here (I know it was a lot). If you want to talk to any version of Incoming You, go for it. You’re always welcome to play with any of the concepts here, name wishes, call in some magic and superpowers, whatever you need. This is, as always, safe space for play and process, we meet each other with love and we don’t give advice. If you’re joining me for four months of 19 minutes, CONFETTI PARADE!

And of course share any of this with anyone who could use any of this. I love that you’re here with me.