Meditate, Don’t Vegetate

Sitting with Oh Shinnah Fastwolf, during the earlier years of my spiritual awakeness, I’d laugh when she’d say “you have to meditate, honey, not vegetate.”  Oh Shinnah, my beloved Mohawk-Apache-Scot teacher said many things that I’ve come to repeat over the years. A couple of my favorite sayings were “You have to shoot your arrow and follow it, no matter where it goes” and, “When you get to the edge of a cliff you might have to jump because you might die anyway.” These words come from an elder who is filled with wisdom and humor and are the ones I remember whenever there is something I may be shivering in fear about-usually change.

On Sunday, in my PALABRAS spiritual reading, I wrote about meditating. Today I kept thinking about just that-listening to one’s inner voice. Meditating comes in many different forms. I tend to meditate using my quiet morning run, the Emerald Tablets or another form of ceremony. Meditating can seem simple or complex. It may take the form of sitting in front of a lit white candle, in the solitude of a chosen sacred space or sharing the sacred pipe with the two legged and four legged who are in my spiritual circle. I can sit in the white foam as the waves ebb and flow, rhythmically, and listen for the voice of the Great Goddess Mother wash over me.  It all sounds very mystical but my favorite meditation was as I sat in front of the vast ocean and heard, “Don’t wear a red swim suit.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought it was hilarious but I got rid of the red and now only wear shades and patterns of blue to my Mother’s shore now.

By meditating one receives the messages meant for them. I love to do readings for everyone who asks but I also encourage learning to purposely listen for messages from Spirit. Praying is talking to your Higher Power-whoever or whatever that might be. Meditating is listening to that same Being. There is joy in sitting in the tranquility of quiet. There is illumination in drawing in knowledge with all of our senses. Opening to communication with that which gives comfort, support and love just can’t be beat.

I have a built-in forgetter, if something’s good for me I promptly forget to do it. That could be eating right, exercising and even going to bed at a reasonable time. So for whatever reason, for the second time this week, I’m moved to write about meditating. We need quiet time. Sometimes when my dog, Chutney, barks just once too often in her shrill high-pitched way, I give her quiet time. She sits in the kitchen for a few moments, gets her bearings and comes out again. The quiet time does her good. It does me good too.  This message may be a reminder to myself of the feeling of wholeness and serenity I receive during the act of meditation. So I will try to remember those words “Meditate don’t vegetate.” Hope you will too.

May you walk in Beauty!


Palabras -Impasse

I’d just come in from taking a long walk with my partner and our dogs. Here the trees are blooming with delicate white and pink flowers. There are annuals that are showing their proud colors and children and their parents are skating along on board and riding bikes. Today we were showered for a few minutes with a warm rain.  Coming inside I prepared as usual to pull a card. I began receiving messages as I pulled out sage, matches and my feather fan. I heard that we should pull up our boot straps and ready ourselves for what is coming our way, that we are in a great transition, spiritually as well as everything else, and that we might consider being open to the opportunities that are presenting themselves, no matter how minute we think they seem. Then I pulled the card and had the image that Graciella sat here in her mature wise woman form. She nods her head as I write this. I asked her, what is it that you would like the readers to know? The card we pulled was the Impasse card.


Image: A road is blocked by a herd of long horn cattle. There is a rusted broken down car that is off to the side of the path that is clearly impassable. There is a man walking with a cane who is head face on to the cattle. We see him from the side and back. He is wearing a small round fedora and a non-descript jacket. The land looks like one that is unused. A bare limbed tree is the only other living thing that is seen.

Words: Things are not what they seem to be. Decisions that seem to be between life and death are not. You have options, therefore, choices to make. Set objectives and goals. Make plans. Steer away from getting stuck in deciphering which road to take. Actions may bring discomfort or distress. You can stop what you are doing swiftly. Let your heart bleed into your brain and create a pure channel from which to work.

Read: I see the image of myself taking a fluid-like form and just bending around what seems to be a huge machine-like obstacle that is standing in my way. When I change form the obstacle no longer exists. I can go through the door if I’d like or I could go under the door too. Whatever I choose to do I can in the new form. Meditate, meditate and you will receive the information that you need to move more easily in this time of great change. We can receive messages from others. I can do a reading for you if you’d like. Probably the single most informative way is by meditating. What you will hear comes from within you, about you, for you.  Your meditation can be the practice of your choice. You don’t have to sit in lotus position for 20 minutes, if you can and like that way, then do it. Find a focal point, a quiet space, a comfortable position, take a cleansing breath and find your way to your meditative state. This could be done at home, in your office or at the library. You know where the place is, you see it in your mind’s eye, if you choose not to do it, that’s okay too. Share with someone if you find meditating difficult. There are many of us that will help you along, some of us are visible and some of us are invisible. Make your choice.

Until next week!


Nocturnal Muse

The clock glares 3am. My eyelids have once again popped open. It’s as though an electrical switch has been flipped up. Frankenstein’s gadgetry turned on high voltage! I wake up like Frank, too, with a low moan and a stiff stretch. I have the three am blues!

I’ve spoken to so many people who’ve complained about waking up in the middle of the night. I’ve sat there counseling them on the wonders of sleep hygiene as I secretly gloated about my enraptured nights of dreaming. We’ve talked about limiting caffeine intake, no daytime napping, drinking a nice decaffeinated herbal tea in a sweet ritual designed solely for the individual.  I’ve even suggested that they write down what comes to mind during this quiet time. The list goes on. I was sure that if they attended to these routines that they would sleep as blissfully as me.

For some reason my nights have changed. I’m really not up agonizing over gut wrenching personal problems, thank the stars. There is no mouse chewing at the corners of my mind. The fact is that I’m just up.  Sometimes I’ve been hungry and a banana has done wonders to quell the pangs in my belly. I’ve contemplated making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and placing it next to my nightly glass of water. It will be ready and I won’t have to take the stairs to the kitchen and step on the dogs’ toys strewn on the living room floor.

There was something different the other night about it, though, and I decided to vary my routine. Getting up at six am daily for a very busy life, I despise having my brain turned on in the middle of the night but I chose to go with it rather than against it. I began to listen to the words that were banging in my brain. The images that were playing around in my inner vision were begging to be put on paper. So I shuffled out of bed in that moment of surrender. I began writing the poem that was coalescing in my head. This moontime madness had become an adventure for me. My style of writing was a bit different I realized as I read the words that were flowing out of my fingertips. Suddenly I was very glad that I’d decided to listen to my nocturnal muse. After a few minutes all was quiet. I put my pen down, ate a banana, went back to bed and fell into a deep sleep.

There was a difference in my attitude and in how I allowed the night hours to interact with me in this new way. I believe I was able to get in touch with a slant of me that I hadn’t been privy to since I tend to explore my creative side during the daytime.  Something special happened by sitting in the quiet of the darkened sky. My feminine creativity side came shining through as the moon above me did. This interior was dark, a little eerie and totally unexplored before that night. I’m anticipating traveling around it again the next time it wakes me up in the middle of the night.

Having reread my poem in the light of day I know that something special happened when I decided to listen to what had woken me. My writing may take on new forms such as that short rhythmical poem that I wrote. I’m considering rewriting it as a short story. When I sit in front of other bleary eyed individuals I will have something to share from my experience. Waking up at three am I may not have to be infused by the strong electrical current that Frankenstein was but maybe by the softly lit energy of the moon that is just as powerful.

Paranormal Levels the Mundane

My problem with the paranormal is that it’s become the mundane. Blogging about something that’s about as typical as tooth brushing makes for a challenge. I could ask you what you dreamt last night, whether your thoughts became clearer in the shower this morning or what the homeless man yelled out to you when you passed him on the corner. But recognizing various means of communication is an essential part of living comfortably with the paranormal. 

We receive messages via all sorts of media. Some of us see with our two eyes and many of us with the third in the middle of our foreheads. Some of us listen to our iPods and others sit in meditation and listen to their inner voices. Imagine how long our lists would be if we charted down each time we received a message? 

Defining the paranormal is simply complex. The definition depends on who is asking and who is doing the defining. Look up the term and you’ll see paranormal is described as being from something ‘out of the range of normal’ to UFOs. That’s pretty vast in itself. I’ve sat with many entities, theoreticians, my own spiritual guides and a bunch of others to discuss what the paranormal means. We all love to give our opinions.

I started writing this on the train to work this morning with the plan to finish it on the way home. As I was walking along Second Avenue, passing another worker, someone I see but have never been introduced to, I heard ‘check your blood pressure.’ The message was as loud as could be. Immediately, I thought, oh no, I can’t tell her this! She’s going to be frightened. My common sense kicked in, fortunately, and I knew that I had to share the message with her. My thinking told me that I would not be able to live with myself if something happened to her and I hadn’t shared the message. So I did. I felt a bit quirky when I turned back around and introduced myself. After about two minutes of small talk I delivered the message. She did look a little fearful but simply said, I understand this, and vowed to get it checked. She also promised to let me know what the result was.

I feel pretty good because I listened and took a decisive action on something that I could have chalked up to my imagination. The larger issue is that I can be of service to another by listening to the voices that tell me some things. There are areas of this that I may not be certain of, but helping another is something I am always sure is taking right action. Pretty mundane isn’t it?

Regaining Focus

My anxiety soared sky high when I realized that I no longer wanted to blog about blogging. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about what to do and what to steer away from after reading a gazillion blogs on just that. Fine and interesting. I needed and continue to need guideposts on blogging. So keep them coming fellow bloggers but I will bow out of that particular enterprise.

 It’s taken me several attempts at blogging to finally find my niche. As I read others’ blogs I thought long and hard about topics that are meaningful to me. Using time is a delicate enterprise. Blogging, writing poetry, an occasional short story and revising my completed manuscripts, while jotting down notes ideas about other novels, takes almost acrobatic skill.  

My days are filled with exploring the psychic and spiritual inner worlds of the people who sit with me. We piece together life’s puzzles making sense of the challenges and bountiful goodness that we experience in this incarnation. My writings are filled with these life stuffs so why shouldn’t my blog? Duh.

It’s been affirmed that when a person does something they love that the probabilities for success are higher. Good. I believe that success, measured, can only be self defined. Already, I feel in a great place. So- I’m back to a comfort zone in blogging. Mental health, psycho-spiritual realms and that sometimes broad and, other times, fine space of the in-between…writer’s block resolved.

Rejoice while Revising

Submitting a manuscript does a certain thing to me. It enables me to feel the joy of hope and optimism. I give myself whole hearted permission to fantasize about the cover of my novel and to luxuriate in the imaginings of an acceptance letter from one of America’s publishing houses.

I allow myself and my muse to observe, from the recesses of my mind, the scene of sharing the good news with my friends and family. They smile and embrace me warmly while telling me what a wonderful job I’ve done. Everyone is surprised and pleased that it all happened so fast. I’m assured that I’m so deserving of having my words in print.

Receiving rejection letters is another issue that I’ve written about previously. Looking at the awkward responses, I’ve sometimes thought of how I could have written a better rejection letter, about how a particular editor didn’t have decent syntax or that by the tone of their letter that they were afraid to work with the topic. I’ve been sure more editors would have preferred a simple love story featuring zombies and vampires.

To my surprise submitting manuscripts and receiving rejections has become something different for me. Instead of pointing my fingers at others, I’ve taken to doing personal inventories on my process. Doing this has freed me up! I am liberated. Taking suggestions has landed me into a very special time. I’m not in a hurry. I am enjoying reading the multiple books on editing and style like never before. The copies are almost dog-eared now.

My favorite days this past week were spent looking at how many descriptors I’d peppered into my text. I laughed at myself a few times. That felt really good. I even shared about the number of italicized pieces I shouldn’t have included in my work with a certain relish. I’ve told and not shown when I should have- just like the oral storyteller from which I descend. My many errors amounted to that same number of rejections. They are rich and I am engorging myself in their sweetness.  I am like the pears that swim in concentrated nectar. I will steep in dismissals and eventually yield with a piece that is the syrup of prose.  

While my feelings may last for today, or this hour, it is okay. It is enough.

Writing Respite

Taking a deep breath, after sitting to a cup of coffee with Browne and King, I came to some decisions this morning.  I will use these days of snow, quiet and what I thought was monotony to regroup. Having sent out a couple of manuscripts I’d been ready for the magical words- “We would love to publish your book Theresa Varela!” This didn’t happen but some other things did.

Instead of receiving all form letters I received a couple of glowing letters of rejection. This was a big step for me. Some editors read my pages and decided that my novels weren’t the right fit for their houses or still needed to be worked upon. One suggested that after I revise that I might think about letting them see my manuscript again. My plan of being in a 2012 line-up was thwarted. So I had to think about how I would accomplish my goals after having received much desired feedback. I don’t know if the editor or agent who takes the time to send suggestions and clues toward a better manuscript can truly know how much of a gift that can be.

I reviewed my manuscripts and could see exactly what the editors saw. I hadn’t been able to do that on the nights I sat scrambling at the keyboard. The ideas, plots and devices all wanted to be placed on paper. I heard the voices and let them speak through my fingertips. The unruly children in my brain coursed through the playground, lunch, music time and snack without me using better judgment. I never had them lay down for midmorning naps.

One editor suggested Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. When I read her email I looked up and saw that it was at eye level on one of my book shelves. I’d read it before in the pursuit of fine fiction writing. Now that I’ve finished my manuscripts I know exactly what the authors mean by ‘showing and not telling’ and ‘proportion’.

Meeting with my writing group during the initial stages of one manuscript was helpful as to the development of the characters. We didn’t actually help each other edit, since we hadn’t yet arrived at that phase. Summer and visions of lolling on the beach and slurping Italian ices prevailed. Fortunately we are back from our lengthy hiatus.

This period that I call “Post Rejection Blues” is something different than the usual for me. It’s a pretty and tranquil shade this time. I am listening to the experts and taking suggestions. I’ve also deleted full chapters. While initially painful I realize it’s important for me as the writer to know the background of some characters. The reader doesn’t have to know the details if I do my job in executing the action. They will ‘get it’ if I succeed in the writing.

For some reason, although this is all still writing, I feel as though I’ve been afforded a respite. A time to regroup, rewrite and revise. I’m looking at the woods at the back of the house as I contemplate all of this. The snow is deep and many of the trees limbs are quite bare. On one level it all seems quiet and barren. At a deeper level it is one of dynamic inner growth. The leaves and the flowers will flourish-when the timing is just right.

New Voices Reading Series

You are cordially invited to a special gathering of writers and poets as La Pluma y La Tinta hosts its first literary reading of the New Year. Join us as we share our stories with you.

Featuring workshop members Samantha Nieto, Raquel Penzo, Rebeca Toleda and Theresa Varela.

Our theme…Secrets. What lies hidden in the recesses of the mind? You’ll have to attend to find out.

January 29, 2011 6:30-8pm

Refreshments will be served so come for the wine and stay for the words.

Tickets are limited; get yours today!

Writer’s Run

Yesterday, I completed the Manhattan half-marathon. It isn’t my first but probably my most difficult half in a while. I came in about 20 minutes later than the previous one I ran about six month ago. I’d like to think that there were a lot of reasons why my time was what it was.

First, I have to admit, it was cold outside. The thermometer read 15 degrees Fahrenheit. I practically froze my fingers off when I decided to take my number tag off my jacket to place it on my pants. This way if I got too warm I could take the jacket off. Ha! That never happened. I’d been sick with an intestinal flu for the New Year and then with a whopping cold a week ago. The days in between that I had been feeling good had been inundated with snow. I am not a snow runner. I shake my head at all of the runners who glide by me as I trudge in my boots. So, I wasn’t as trained as I’d like to be. I can go on with the multiple excuses that I prefer to term as reasons, that I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. Suffice it to say that- “it is what it is”. I happen to love clichés and think they describe situations to a T. I’ve been warned about liking them too much in my writing but  today I am still tired after running the thirteen point one miles- so I feel free to use clichés.

Running that distance at my pace leaves me a lot of time for thinking. I thought about my writing and my goals. I thought of the personal time and commitment that I’ve needed to continue doing both. These activities have garnered very enjoyable times for me- like an autumn run in the woods or reading a piece I’ve written to a gathered crowd who shares the moment with me. Most times, in reality, the pursuit of the runner’s high or the nodded approval of an audience member is elusive. Most of the times it’s just me, by myself, moving forward without encouragement and more often seeing the bewildered look of someone who wonders why I do what I do. Running and writing take a lot of my personal time. It is a choice to take one’s time to do something that one loves, that sometimes may be quite difficult and most times a very solitary action. Having the ability to “go within” and “to go the distance” whether others believe in you, or not, is a feat.

During the half marathon I ran up Cat Hill in Central Park and remembered how difficult it was when I first began running. My chest would heave and I would look up at the large jet black feline statue wondering why I was doing this. Yesterday my breath was easier than during the earlier days of running and I enjoyed my progress. I also remembered when I found learning “point of view” to be a horrendous experience. My teenage daughter wrote up a crib sheet for me and talked me through many pieces I never submitted. I’m sure many editors would thank me for that. Today, POV runs natural and I like to think it’s because of the training, just as in my running skill.

In both running and writing I’ve taken workshops, shared thoughts and words with my peers and have had both wonderful and awful experiences. I’ve been competitive in both and have watched very skilled runners or writers blaze across the scene taking all of the attention I might have wanted. Those experiences have not stopped me. They’ve made me stronger and I continue to be eager to see where my paths will lead.

Just like in the running there are reasons that I’m not where I’d like to be. I’m sure of what some of them are but also know that there are reasons beyond my control. I am where I am. I saw a woman run past me and thought I should surely be passing her. I realized that I had no idea who she was, what her training schedule was like or anything about her. My streak of mid-pack competitiveness flashed for a moment and then it was gone. I’d sat to lunch with a friend the day before the race who is having his third or fourth book of poetry published in a couple of weeks. I am still waiting for my first novel to be selected. My turn will come if I persevere as he has. I truly believe that.

Challenge is an invitation to life. I will run, rest, write, eat, sleep, be a friend, and be a parent and a partner. I will enjoy the gifts that are given to me on both the easy days and the more taxing ones!

The Beginners Tips to Blogging Written by a Beginner Blogger

Although I’m fairly new as a blogger I almost feel like an expert. I attribute this state of mind to the multiple blogging sites on how to blog that run across my blogging streams. So I decided to pick out the tips I’ve read and reread several times and share them with you, just one more time. This is in case you might have missed the most important ones.

Blogroll please!

Be Consistent: It doesn’t matter if it’s every Wednesday, Thursday or heaven forbid, Sunday, but it must be there when you say it will. Patterns are important because your multiple readers will wonder what the heck happened to you if you didn’t post your entry. I’m only fairly new to blogging in terms of keeping consistent entries posted on my site.  This has probably shown that I am inconsistent and even worse! Unprofessional! So being consistent is probably the first thing I’ve learned as I’ve read the tips.

Name your blog with your real name: Use your real name unless you want to remain anonymous. I really don’t know how many of us writers want to be that. That’s not our point at all. We do everything else to see our names in print- so it’s okay. It’s not really to feed our egos; it’s all about easy recognition. When I was picking out the title for my first blog I had not yet achieved the level of self- esteem I have developed over the last couple of months of blog surfing. I named my first blog with a catchy phrase. If you happened to be a close friend of mine, you’d understand why I picked out such a cute name. Otherwise, you would have no idea. Unless you noted the picture I attached to it- the one where you couldn’t see my face. That led me to the profound discovery of naming my blog with my name. It’s okay. No one will think you are grandiose. It helps anyone who would like to read what you’ve written. Isn’t it much simpler to tell a friend that they can just look up your name rather than a charming expression they’ll forget before logging in to their laptop?

Find your focus: Maybe I should rename that to “find your foci.” There aren’t many of us that are about only one thing. I have many interests but I find it easier to know what I generally want to write about and let it move in a natural direction from there. I say this only after reading my early blog entries and seeing there was absolutely no focus at all. In the early stages of blogging I would write a blog on a whim, on a thought or on an inspiration. There is really nothing wrong with that- my muse would like me to share with you. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no Julie and Julia. But there has to be some sort of focus. If there is no focus, why would your readers turn their television volume down just to log onto your site?

Be concise: Your readers are writers. They probably want to spend more time writing especially if they are working other jobs to pay the bills, like me. I get sort of glassy eyed if a blog entry is too long. I want to read a few blogs but I also want to make dinner, take the dogs out for a walk (they especially like that too) and play a game of X-treme Fetch (phrased coined by Ginger and Chutney but it sounds more like woof-woof when they say it). Be concise. I think this concept partners with being courteous to readers and can lead to more installments of a topic you’ve chosen to blog. The previous tip on finding your focus led me to realizing that I had to be concise. I’m getting better at it. Note the underlined tips in this blog entry. Most of my entries are told as short storylines. That’s okay because that’s how I happen to think and write but brevity is something that keeps me coming back to a particular blog.

Be Flexible: As a writer you are a creative being. No need to get stuck doing something one way and keeping it that way if you don’t like it. One of the most gratifying things I find about writing is my ability to be dynamic and fun. Change often takes not only my reader, but me, by surprise. No need to be stodgy when it comes to writing. As a writer of prose on my best days, I am sometimes struck with words that come together and what some, okay, basically me, would call poetry. Is there a place for poetry entries on my blog? Of course, it’s my blog. I have a separate blog site for my poetry. I’m thinking about entering my poetry pieces onto my main blog site. As you can see I’m not sure what I want to do. So be flexible, especially if you don’t know exactly which direction you’d like to take. I know that once it’s written and in cyberspace, it’s there, forever, for all eternity but energy changes and so do we as humans, I mean, writers. It’s okay to lighten up.

Blogging can be a scary experience for the novice. I know- I’m one of them. The multiple blog sites that offer help and clarify major points to blogging are welcomed by me. My greater task is to identify what I want to say and how I want to say it. Should my theme be whimsical, nautical or earthy? Only I can decide that but receiving practical knowledge from experts leaves me more time to consider a pink or blue background. Choices, choices…