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Posts Tagged ‘Katherine Reynolds’

               Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
               Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico,
               February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




The Petroglyph Practitioners are four women — Jeanie from North Carolina, Melissa and Katherine from Houston, and Sally from Rome, Italy — who write, alone and together, following the rules of Writing Practice. They tell the story of how they met and what their group means, in a post titled Alone Together – The Beginning of The Petroglyph Practitioners.

What follows are four writing practices, one from each member, on the red Ravine writing topic I Want To Let Go Of…. These raw practices — which, per one of the rules of writing practice, are not edited for punctuation, spelling, or grammar — show how a single topic can lead individual writers to very different places.



     Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.       Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.       Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Jeanie Bernard

I am reading a book called Romancing The Shadow and am reminded that in that darkness hides my secret shame, my poison arrow. During midlife, the shadow rears its ugly little head, it finds me; I don’t have to go look for it. The first half of my life was creating work, love and developing the shadow. Now, I am involved in creating consciousness in those areas that have been neglected or ignored, a time for romancing the shadow, a time for letting go of what doesn’t work anymore.

The shadow wears the camouflage of physical symptoms. I may deny but my body doesn’t it. In March when I decided to go to Peru I woke with a severe pain in my right hip that tortured me up to the day of hiking the Inca Trail. With its disappearance, I strutted through the streets of Taos until I strained my tendon in my right heel. After podiatrist, chiropractors, acupuncturist, I finally listen to the pain. I see myself flat on my back with a golden fiber optic beam shinning from my feet through my head making the connection of my dissected parts into a sacred wholeness/holiness. What I don’t see, is where the rod comes from or where it goes when it leaves my head. I wonder, what is my body trying to say, what secrets are being revealed, what betrayals?

The shadow dances through my dreams revealing feelings desiring discovery. During one haunting dream, I am visited by a cape draped person who knocks at my door. I do not invite; I ask what is wanted. My visitor walks away. I call out. Who is this that appears in my night life and what is wanted?

Shadows begin in families and make us who we are. In doing shadow work, I find who I can become. I remember my daddy finding fault with my mother. He would come home late at night from cooking in a hell hot kitchen and she could do nothing right. I saw him as having the power. If I had a choice, I would rather be like him. Her life didn’t look very appealing. His Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde improvisation kept me vigilantly on the lookout for the family soul. He was a cook and the missing ingredient was soul, the container for connection, deepening and acceptance. In this family, the space for soul shrunk limiting my authenticity and vulnerability. So I face my shadow. My “heeling” begins with shinning a light of reconciliation on what was sacrificed in my family of origin and playing out in my intentional family. I step, heel first, into letting go of the “sins” of my mother and father to reclaim my family soul. In my own family, I assume my father’s role of power. My second step of “heeling” is to move from power over to power with. The next step is then to let go and forgive my many missteps.


   Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Katherine Reynolds

What I want to let go of.

My first answer without really thinking about it would be nothing. This has been the year of losses for me: my mother, a husband, a good friend — all of whom I loved very much. It was a bad year. I know the biggest loss was of course my mother. She was 92 and passed away November 30th of kidney failure brought on by congestive heart failure. That disease is a miserable one. You watch a person grow weaker and weaker until something gives: the liver, the kidneys, the lungs, or the heart, that red beating muscle that controls everything. My mother was in many ways the heart of my life. I believe we bonded intensely when I was born because my father walked out on my mom and the four of us kids when I was only five weeks old and it broke her heart. In fact she never quite recovered from it. Never remarried, never dated. She was only 43, but she was a survivor. She went back to school and got her teaching degree in music education and taught in high schools until she lost her job after seven years of teaching. I only know this: she had trouble controlling her kids. I can see that in her. She was always soft spoken and in some ways intensely shy. She never went back to the public schools but instead began teaching privately in her home. She also was hired as the organist for the Champion Methodist Church in Champion, Ohio. She stayed in that position for 25 years.

My fondest memories of her are listening to her teach yet another 7 year old child the beginnings of piano playing. I would come home from school and hang out on the couch reading quietly until she was finished at 7. I learned how to walk lightly through that house so as not to disturb her. The floors creaked because we had a cellar below us. None of this concrete slab housing I live in now. We lived in wood clapboard house that my great grandmother was born in. I have no idea how old the family homestead house is, but I know it is at least 150 years old or more. My great grandfather was a doctor who visited his patients in a horse and buggy and his office is on the property. I used to love going in there to play until the place got too dilapidated. My mom’s cousin totally restored it and now it is a historical landmark in Bristolville, Ohio. So what does this have to do with loss? I don’t know. Maybe I feel loss because the entire family I grew up with in that town are now dead or moved on. My grandparents passed when I was in high school. My mother’s only sister died of alcoholism, as did her husband, as did her daughter, the only living cousin I had. When I think of that small town in Ohio there now, there are renters in the homestead house and the rest of my family is in the graveyard. And the four of us kids scattered all over the country and the world (a brother in Australia).

So I guess the loss I feel as well is that of home. My grandparents beautiful rambling yellow Victorian house where my grandfather who was once a supreme court judge in the State of Ohio was sold long ago. I remember people coming to my grandparent’s house when I was a kid still asking Judge Carter to do small legal things for them. When I think of going home, there is no where to go. My brother lives in a suburban house in Cleveland which is like a different country compared to small towns in Northeastern Ohio. So yes that’s it. I feel like I’ve lost my home. Now I have to make a home for myself again: New friends, new connections, a new love. The idea overwhelms me in the middle of my life. So do I want to let go of anything now? No, I want to hold close to my heart all that comes my way.


   Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Sally Sontheimer

I want to let go of life as I knew it. I lived a life for a very long time –- it is over now -– but it wasn’t the sort of life I wanted. I’m going on a track here that I’m not sure I want to follow. It’s a beautiful day, Sunday, November 4, and I’m sitting the celery green chenille armchair in my bedroom in Siena. Outside the window, across our field of olives, I have a perfect and clear view of the town itself, its’ medieval towers, the Torre del Mangia that we are planning to eat underneath today at lunch.

There, I feel grounded now in a place and time, I have roots down to the earth sucking up nutrients, feeding this writing practice.

I want to let go of …how can I name it, what is it I want to release? Needs. A need. Yes, I see it now. It’s a need to be fed by others. Now that we’ve brought up the question of roots, I’d like to totally and completely feed myself. I’d like to let go of any need for approval, for my husband to give me some signal that I’m OK, that he admires me. That’s an old story, you see that weakness inside me, speaking, yet it’s almost gone, I’m almost there, I feel such strength inside.

‘I banish all dis-ease from my body.’ I heard that on a meditation tape by Deepak Chopra that a friend lent me and when I said it to myself it blew me away.

So here we have another circle –- I’d like to be free of dis-ease, unease, discomfort, a feeling of lack in myself and in others and I’m almost there.

Yesterday we all worked together –- my two kids, my friend Vicki, her two teenage daughters, my husband, me, to save the capanna. It almost burned down two weeks ago when a fire spread through the fields. After the firemen left, we went to check on the capanna –- the hay barn –- and found the wooden door still on fire. It was full of hay. So yesterday we cleared it out, burnt all the overgrowth, the brambles, forked out the hay, pulled out the detritus of that old abandoned structure.

And it felt good. No aches and pains like I’ve had in the past, for once upon a time I was very ill.

I banish illness from my body.

I wanted to let go of that –- at the very end and in the end, it was only a concept –- and I did it.


   Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Melissa Studdard

I want to let go of my urge for an outmoded version of perfection. I want to glorify my flabby, feminine thighs — to praise my fat butt — to thank the divine spirit of creation that my nose, by American (hell, by any) standards, is too big — with it I can smell better all the scrumptious foods that will help my thighs progress towards my new and better version of self.

How much time I have wasted, how much time, trying to be a better me. Better looking, smarter, funnier, kinder, more soulful, more intellectual, more athletic, more assertive, more feminine, more gentle, more vivacious, more sophisticated. Phooey. I was a full time project, a first class procrastination from the real work that needs to be done, the work that is not focused on changing myself but instead on accepting myself and those around me as we already are.

All this time — and there I was already perfect. Yes, perfect — I snort when I laugh too hard. What could be better than that? I’ll tell you: I cry at weddings, funerals, movies, plays, symphonies, graduations, museums, anything that moves me at all. I burn dinners. I can’t do math, not even to average fgrades. I have no uterus — gone. I break up with everyone I’ve ever been with once every three months, like clockwork, and then usually I take them back. I can’t remember what I walked into the room for half the time. My daughter often has to advise me to be cautious, because at ten, she is already more sensible than I am. And, for all of this I am thankful, for it is my particular, messy, glorious version of life.

It’s not just what I want to let go of — it’s what I need to let go of — the idea that perfection is perched, like some kind of shimmering trophy, on a shelf just two inches higher than I can reach — that perfection is solid, unchanging, and just almost attainable — that perfection is something that I should or do desire—

Because it’s the imperfect stuff I like best — my retarded, cross-eyed cat Cosmo who can’t hear well and can’t even leap from the floor to my desk without slipping and dragging down a pile of papers on top of himself — I love his overbite and the snaggle-tooth that keeps his lower lip permanently indented. I love, even adore, his imperfection.

And the imperfection in the world — I love the crooked smile, the fattest puppy, the pink rose that accidentally got mixed in with the red, the kid with one brown eye and one blue—

Time’s up — I’m going to practice my sermon — to let go — no clean conclusion, tied up like a bow, no final answer, no perfect statement condensed to an aphorism — just the end of a ramble, not even pucntuated — spelling for shit — beautiful


   Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Petroglyph Rock II, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

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The story begins like this…Five hundred years ago, the large petroglyph rock that marks the border of the courtyard of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos was placed there by the Tiwa Indians to help anchor the energy of the Pueblo Mountain, from whose Blue Lake they trace their origins as a tribe.

The petroglyph rock has had an additional function over these years. It has been used as a navigational guide for extraterrestrial visitors because the site also marks the entranceway to other dimensions.

— Lois Palken Rudnick, Utopian Vistas: The Mabel Dodge Luhan House and the American Counterculture


Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


This rock that sits in the courtyard of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos was the inspiration for the formation of a writing group by four participants of Natalie Goldberg’s writing workshop, Living Color, held at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in July of 2007.

The four women — Jeanie from North Carolina, Melissa and Katherine from Houston, and Sally from Rome, Italy — now come together by email the first and third Monday of each month to share their writing.

They follow the rules of writing practice as Natalie Goldberg teaches it. They write for ten minutes without interruption, their hands move across the page without stopping. They don’t comment on each other’s work; they provide a short recall of what they remember after they read each piece.

They call themselves the Petroglyph Practitioners in recognition of what writing practice, and the rock in the courtyard of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House are meant to offer — flight into other dimensions of the self, of the mind, and just possibly, the Divine.

But it’s best if the writers speak for themselves. Below are quotes from their writing practices on how they formed the Petroglyph Practitioners.



Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



On my first night in Taos at Natalie Goldberg’s writing workshop, I walked out to the quiet courtyard for a view of the night sky and was hit with the aloneness of being with the crowd of ancestors who have written and painted in the Mabel Dodge Luhan home. As I opened the screen door I expected to see many people with writing notebooks, books, paper, and paints expressing their dreams yet there was a silence that haunts the breeze. I find the evocative colors of lanky hollyhocks, the dust of these faded red walls, and an empty wooden bench that calls me to sit a while and meet these ghosts that stay here because it is the place they call home.

—Jeanie Bernard


When I went to Taos I thought I needed a break, but what I really needed was to meet the mountain — and to meet the immutable within myself. I needed awareness of my interconnectivity with ants, sun, dust, hollyhock, and, yes, even other humans. I was already traveling with Katherine, but I learned her on a whole new level — what was before an intellectual friendship became also a spiritual friendship. I met Jeanie and Sally, and Sally helped me make sense of a meditation experience I’d had years before.

—Melissa Studdard


We wanted the practice to do what the stone was meant to do — open a portal into our minds, into our hearts, into places we needed to go. We finally hit upon a name. The Petroglyph Practitioners. We set rules. We would each submit a piece on any topic we wanted the first and third Monday of every month. We would each provide recall of each piece and share that response with the entire group. We would not edit our writing practices beyond punctuation and spelling errors. We would stay true to the practice as Natalie had taught it. If we wrote shit, that’s what we sent that day.

—Sally Sontheimer


That was an amazing night as Sally took us by flashlight and led us to the rock that had been there all this time. I had no idea it was there. I do know that Natalie always had us do walking meditation near that rock every year I had been there. Now I understood why. I felt a deep connection with Sally and Melissa that night. At the end of the week we decided to join together as a virtual writing group along with Jeanie, Sally’s friend, and we formed the Petroglyph writing practice group.

—Katherine Reynolds



Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Petroglyph Rock, courtyard of Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



We sit that last day anchored to the idea that we need each other to ground our practice and navigate beyond. For us, this solid rock shores us up for more writing. We talk of ways to sustain our desires, to witness our words and to prop us up. We make our plans: we write, we read, we recall and we dream…alone and together.

—Jeanie Bernard


She said petroglyphs were believed to be portals to other dimensions and that the Natives believed this and this is why the petroglyphs were considered sacred. I remember her telling me that that is why I always felt like I was home at Mabel’s. She told me that I didn’t need to move to Taos, but that it was always good to visit these places around the world because all petroglyphs feel like home. They connect us to the Source, The Over Soul, or as I choose to call it: God.

—Katherine Reynolds


I find that the rhythm we have set for ourselves is good; it’s neither so frequent that we feel stressed about it, nor too distant to lose interest. We all submit on time. We share emails in which we say how much we enjoy the sharing. We aren’t supposed to comment, but we do, just a little bit. We share support for one another, share a thought, give a pat on the back. Did the name live up to our expectations? For my part, I’d say so and I think the others would agree. Something new and unexpected always comes through for me. I discover myself, and I also discover the others by reading their work.

—Sally Sontheimer


Since then, we have all kept our obligation to the practice — we have shared humor, shame, defeat, happiness, spirituality, intellectual obsessions, family secrets, dreams, beliefs, insecurities, friendship, and respect. I have learned from these women how to listen, how to share, and how to grow my heart.

—Melissa Studdard


I’ve learned to honor the writing that comes out in each of us because it connects us. Katherine, Melissa, Jeanie, and I — we are the Petroglyph Practitioners, united in being there for each other, united in wanting to explore every other week together what it means to be human.  

—Sally Sontheimer

   


      
            Petroglyph Practitioners in front of the petroglyph rock, Taos, NM, July 2007
            Petroglyph Practitioners in Taos, NM, in front of the
            petroglyph rock for which their group is named, July 2007,
            photo © 2007 QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-Related to post The Petroglyph Practitioners On “I Want To Let Go Of…”.

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