Enter 5-D, Chapter Two

This is a comedy/urban fantasy based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The setting is Seattle-2020.

persephone-1397228_1920
Persephone on Pix a Bay

CHAPTER TWO

Pacing her office, Demeter wondered how she would protect Persephone from the latest news. If Persephone caught wind of Pluto’s latest actions, she would throw the earth off kilter. She made plans for Persephone and Eurydice to visit an artist community in Hawaii offering a retreat.

In her cottage, Eurydice packed lightweight clothing for her impromptu journey where she planned on healing from nervous exhaustion. Her limbs and mind weighed so heavily with Pluto’s revenge on music that she could barely climb out of bed each day. She stopped cooking and had lost over ten pounds. She had lost her appetite for just about everything. Now that Pluto banned all music, except music selected by the Plutocrats, her nerves tied in knots. Her immunity weakened and she sensed a head cold coming on–a certain death to a diva.

Meanwhile, the Archangels gathered in Lincoln Park to formulate a strategy to bring healing music to the masses despite Pluto’s music ban. Chamuel shared her idea with the others.

“We can enter the dreams of those humans who give us permission and sing to them. We can also send them songs telepathically. That is until the Extraterrestrials clog up the telepathic highway.”

Ariel responded, “As far as I know, the E.Ts haven’t joined forces with the Plutocrats. They’ve never gotten along and I don’t think they’ll join in with Pluto’s bid for dominance. They have their own agendas which hardly involve music.”

The Archangels strode along the beach with their feet just hovering above the sand and surf. Weak sunlight glinted on their wings and the sound of the surf muffled their whispery voices. Archangel Michael picked up a sandstone pebble and tossed it out the hungry sea. Gulls circled overhead in search of crab carcasses on the beach.

“My concern is the despair experienced by the musicians who now find themselves out of work. Sound healers and music therapists will soon join the breadlines and many of them haven’t held a regular job in decades.

Sadly, we conveyed to them to follow the musical path to help humanity ascend and they dedicated themselves to our requests only now to suffer this fate. I’m hearing their pleas, but I’m not sure how to comfort them. Yet, we must defy the Plutocrats in taking the musical gifts away from the earth.”

Ariel picked up a pebble and tossed it to the waves. “In the meantime, we’ll teach humans to listen to the music of nature. I know that the faerie communities have turned up the volume, even defying natural laws to appear in forms humans can see so that they pay attention to birds, the wind, and other natural sounds.”

Later that day, Demeter met with Persephone at the speakeasy. The women huddled in a corner booth whispering so that any Plutocrats in the vicinity didn’t overhear their conversation.

“So are you taking me up on my offer and accompanying Eurydice to Hawaii?”

Persephone sighed. “What about my clients? My schedule is jam-packed with herbal healings.”

“I can take care of them. It will be tight for me, but if I extend my office hours, I can fit them it.

In the meantime, imagine hanging out on those lovely beaches with palm trees swaying overhead. It’s almost cliché to describe paradise, isn’t it?”

Persephone tugged on the sleeve of her green wool sweater. “It’s true we can’t let her go alone in the state she’s in. I visited her cottage the other day which resembled a sty. Her fridge was empty, dirty dishes languished in the sink, but she hasn’t eaten anything. I can understand her despondence having lost her career.”

“This is why you must go to Hawaii. Besides, you can stay for part of the time and just let her rest for the second half of the retreat. Just make sure she has safe passage and get her settled in, and then return.”

In his office with gray and black walls, Pluto gathered his Plutocrats for a meeting. He shut the blinds and he lit candelabra with a torch.

“So far, the music stores and radio stations are all complying. However, I would like to pass laws against musicians selling real estate since many of them will try to sell their homes at this time. This would saturate the market and cause real estate to collapse.”

A Plutocrat, auburn hair and a swarthy complexion in his twenties spoke up. “What will the musicians do to support themselves? Many of them won’t be able to find any other work? They only know how to perform, record, and teach music.”

Pluto banged his fist on his large iron and wood desk. “That’s not my problem!” He turned to his right-hand man, forties, balding, with a crooked spine, “Who hired that apprentice? We can’t have any Plutocrats sympathizing with musicians.”

Instead of cowering and shuffling the way to the corner as other Plutocrats would do after chastisement by Pluto, the swarthy Plutocrat stood his ground.

“Perhaps, I’m too dense to understand your plans, but what do you have against personal music? After all, music calms the masses and prevents them from rioting. My mother told me when I was a child that music feeds the souls.”

Pluto glared at the Plutocrat and leaned into him with his face now inches away from the Plutocrat’s nose.

“If I were you, I would hold my tongue. Do you think I care about feeding souls? My job is to keep the economy going and we can’t keep the economy going if people are spacing out listening to music. It’s a distraction we can’t afford.”

Pluto spit in the face of the Plutocrat while the Plutocrat stared defiantly at the governor.

In 5D, Orpheus and Cassius hung out with wood nymphs who fed the men green grapes the size of plums. Despite Orpheus’ despondent mood, the nymphs clad in white silk gowns with white geraniums in their sparkling blonde and red hair radiated joy. Hummingbirds and large bees zipped through the air leaving a permanent drone in the atmosphere.

Orpheus picked up his lyre and plucked a few notes causing the nymphs to recline in the grass and close their eyes. Cassius grabbed his quartz crystal bowl in the key of A-major adding more drone to the atmosphere. A woman harpist with flowing black hair set up her golden instrument on a stump near Orpheus then joined in, while releasing shimmering notes from her Celtic harp. She sang in a high clear voice that caused birds to land on branches and fall asleep.

In his reverie, Orpheus visualized uniting with Eurydice while helping her to ascend into 5D. Meanwhile, the frequency of the musical instruments charged up Orpheus’ body and magnetic field. As he powered up, he sent telepathic messages to Eurydice.

As he sent the messages, he received a vision of Eurydice and Persephone sitting on an airplane that flew above the Hawaiian Islands. He witnessed Eurydice closing her eyes and took that as a sign that she picked up his messages.

Meanwhile, Eurydice experienced a dream in which the oracle bird returned to her with a new message. The bird’s bright eyes gazed into Eurydice face.

“What I told you came to pass.”

Eurydice nodded. “You didn’t tell me that the loss would devastate me.”

“You’re not devastated. Ask your friend Persephone about the rebirth process which that woman knows well. Pray to Isis if you must, or ask Jesus about reincarnation. They’ll tell you, that what appears as ending acts as an open door to a life you never could imagine before.”

“I lost everything. I can’t even imagine this open door to opportunity. How will I survive without music?”

“My dear, you’ll have to go underground.”

“What do you mean by underground?”

The bird shook out his feathers, glanced over his shoulder at Eurydice, and then flew away. Eurydice turned towards Persephone who snoozed next to her.

“That’s true, Persephone does know how to find light in the darkness. What secrets does she hold in her heart?”

In West Seattle, the Archangels mounted their bicycles then single file rode out of Lincoln Park, with their wings straight out behind them leaving silver feathers in their wake. The bicycles picked up speed and launched into the air allowing the Archangels to fly over the West Seattle Bridge and land downtown in the midst of glass and marble skyscrapers.

They turned their bicycles onto Pine Street then headed downhill to the Public Market. Dismounting their bicycles, they left them on the cobbled walkway and entered the chamber of the Daily Oracle. Once inside, they waded through blue feathers and approached Archangel Gabriel who oversaw the bird oracles.

The Archangels gathered around a table constructed from an ancient cedar tree. Michael shook hands with Gabriel.

“Greetings, my fellow light beings. What’s the news in the outer world?”

Michael chuckled as he played with his sword. “Pluto put his plans in action and now musicians and musical healers scramble, as I’m sure you’ve heard.”

Gabriel gently closed his sapphire eyes and took a deep breath. Robin eggshell blue lit up his throat chakra. “I thought as much. Meanwhile, Orpheus entertains thoughts about returning to the Fourth Dimension to persuade Eurydice to ascend.”

Ariel took a sip of peach nectar from glasses Gabriel placed on the table earlier. “Why does that sound like an awful idea all the way around?”

Gabriel nodded. “It’s easy for those individuals in 5D to forget about the gravity and traps in this dimension. They feel invincible while in the Fifth Dimension and suffer amnesia about the darkness that resides here.”

Michael placed his sword on the table, rose from his cedar stump chair then paced. “It would be a mistake for Orpheus to descend into the Fourth now…a huge mistake. First, he only has a total of six hours to even woo Eurydice much less ask her to ascend to the unknown.

Second, Eurydice is at a retreat in Hawaii, which is harder to get to than Washington because Orpheus could confuse the coordinates and end up in the Bermuda Triangle. And finally, I believe all this stuff about soul twins is highly exaggerated. But then we know, Orpheus as an idealist, so there we go.”

In a cramped studio apartment, the swarthy Plutocrat, Marcus Ariel of Arc sat at his cluttered wood desk with his head in his hands. He agonized over Pluto’s chastisement knowing full well not to speak one’s truth around the governor.

However, Marcus inherited his ancestor Joan of Arc’s inability to keep one’s opinions to oneself. While not as hotheaded as Joan, Marcus exuded the same wide-eyed innocence as well as, foolishness in putting his sword in the wrong hands. He once worshipped Pluto and that’s what caused him to join the political campaign that got Pluto elected as Governor of Washington State—illegally.

However, after the Pluto’s real personality ripped the blinders from Marcus’ eyes he still swam in denial for as long as possible. But now, with Pluto sacrificing musicians and healers in the State, Marcus’ conscience bothered him. Besides, his days were numbered now that he landed on Pluto’s radar and it wouldn’t be long before he would need to escape to the Underground. Oddly, Pluto paid no attention to the happenings down under, mainly because the governor experienced repulsion at the thought of that cavernous place.

After all, if he escaped the past that kept him bound to cosmic father’s wishes, more like the curse, why would he ever return? Marcus made the analogy of a Hollywood nymphet never returning to the small Iowan town where she spent her formative years. Just as the thought of that tainted her hard-earned reputation as a glamour girl, Pluto assumed that any connection to the Underground once referred to as Hades, would taint his reputation as a world leader.

However, in the meantime, Marcus sat on his hands as to not end up in Pluto’s prison hidden away on an abandoned and flooded San Juan Island or so the rumor said. Yet, the dreams kept coming where he saw himself leading a rebellion along with a fiery hair woman with an obsession with locks.

At the lock shop across the city, Pandora reclined on couch sporting Greek imagery reading a secret book of codes she stole from a locked chest. Periodically, she took a sip of peach and honey nectar laced with passion flower so that she could relax her restless mind.

Born a triple Gemini, her mind never took a break. Always searching for puzzles to solve, codes to break, or locks to pick, Pandora itched for an adventure. Someone in passing told her about the Underground Movement and how their leaders searched for unusual talents such as hers.

And now that Eurydice lost her reign as opera diva along with all the musicians fired to make room for more of Pluto’s darkness, Pandora believed she found her cause to support. The woman she met in passing told Pandora about secret societies meeting in the caverns who worked with drums, crystal bowls, and ancient chants. According to this woman who spoke in whispery tones and shielded herself with a silver cape, musicians were flocking down under and forming new societies.

Pandora made a note to herself to share this information with Eurydice upon her return from Hawaii. But how would she entice Eurydice to join any movement when that vocalist appeared selfish.

At the retreat center in Hawaii, Eurydice laid on a bed sobbing while Persephone comforted her. A stiff breeze blew in through the open window knocking an exotic plant off a bamboo desk. Persephone rose from the bed and picked up the plant and placed on the desk.  It took all her strength to close the window.

“It looks like a typhoon is on the way.”

Eurydice continued to sob, not caring about the storm outside her window and virtually ignoring the efforts of her comforting friend.

Persephone returned to Eurydice and helped her friend sit up and recline against large pillows sporting Hawaiian flowers.

“What will I do next?”

Persephone picked up a glass of pineapple juice and she brought it to Eurydice parched lips. “For now, rest and we’ll figure out the next step later.”

“I won’t even be able to teach music. All I know is music. I only studied music thinking that I had a long career ahead of me.”

“Don’t blame yourself. We know we were in trouble when Pluto got illegally elected.”

Eurydice grabbed the glass from Persephone and she gulped down the juice. “How could people be so stupid as to elect that scoundrel?”

Persephone shrugged her shoulders and laughed. “They didn’t. Oh-oh-oh, and just to think I was once married to that scoundrel.”

Eurydice sighed then she looked around the room cluttered with wicker furnishing and Hawaiian print. “How did you survive that marriage?”

“I’m strong and he doted on me at first. My mistake was eating that pomegranate. I didn’t even like the taste of it.

Do you recall the moment you lost your innocence?”

Eurydice shook her head. “Perhaps, that moment is now.”

Persephone grabbed a glass of pineapple juice and sipped the contents. She leaned her head back against the large pillows.

“So tell me about the messages from the oracle bird again.”

“He said that I would experience a loss, but not to worry because something better was on the way. But he might as well have spoken in riddles because I have no idea what opportunities could possibly come to me now.”

“He did speak in riddles, my dear. I wonder what opportunities await you because I believe what the bird told you. So tell me, what have you dreamed about lately?”

Eurydice closed her eyes and concentrated on recalling her nightly dreams. “I’ve experienced dreams where I’m running and the ground is covered in moss so I’m slipping and then, I see a bright light ahead of me.”

“Go on.”

“A man’s hand, an attractive hand with a silver ring featuring a lyre, reaches out to me from the light. Then I get a sense that I’m climbing or flying because I’m ascending like a bird.”

“That’s interesting. Do you ever get a glimpse of the man’s face?”

Eurydice shook her head. “But I’ve heard a man’s melodic voice in my head and he’s talking to me about paradise.”

Strolling near a creek bubbling over with fish, Orpheus stared at the ground and kicking pebbles into the creek. Cassius strolled alongside the bard also lost in contemplation.

“Have you tried contacting the muses? Surely, Eurydice worked with the muses so they might have an in with her.”

Orpheus shrugged. “What’s the use? Besides, the muses I met were coquettes. They flirt, gossip, and can’t be trusted, at least not with a man’s heart.”

“Don’t even attempt then to contact the sirens.”

Orpheus shook his head. “I wasn’t planning on it. I still believe in the direct approach which is speaking directly to her soul.”

Cassius pulled off his sandals and dipped his toes into the creek. He crept into the water and grabbed Orpheus’ hand–His swarthy face tilted upwards as his brown eyes gazed into Orpheus’ blue ones.

“Come, cool off in the creek. This water has a miraculous effect, especially after the muses, who we know you don’t like, blessed the water with their chants.”

Meanwhile, after the storm passed, Eurydice and Persephone lounged on wicker chairs on a patio drinking Hawaiian smoothies. Persephone glanced at Eurydice face which began to glow with a life force again.

“So tell me about the dream you had with the man with the lyre ring.”

Eurydice placed her glass on the table and she grabbed a tie for her hair. She secured her hair in a ponytail stretching the length of her back.

“This time I saw his entire arm and a thigh.”

“Really, was his thigh sexy?”

Eurydice chuckled. “It wasn’t bad. He had calluses on his fingers which right away told me he plays some kind of string instrument.”

“Most likely a lyre since you mentioned that he had a silver ring with a lyre on it. Do you think that he’s a real man?”

“I don’t know yet. I hope so. I wonder where he is.”

In 5D, Orpheus and Cassius waded in the creek up to their thighs. The water invigorated the men and they laughed heartily tossing back their heads and splashing water on each other.

“This water really does have a magical effect. I feel fantastic.”

“Do you feel any songs coming on? I know I do. I always hear the drums of Mother Earth, even in this dimension.”

Orpheus waded back to the shore with the water tugging at his muscular thighs and calves. After he returned to the shore, he sat upon a rock allowing the sun to dry off his hair and skin. Cassius joined him on the large smooth rock, shaking out his dark hair.

Orpheus sighed. “Maybe Eurydice isn’t interested in men or falling in love.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I have plenty here. Why do I require a woman to live out my life in this dimension? All my needs, but one are met and maybe I don’t even require great love. “

“It’s the idea of love that matters to musicians and poets.”

“I feel a song coming on.” Orpheus slipped off the rock, grabbed his sandals and returned home but his heart was not convinced of his words.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Day of the Dead Literature

FSCN3164From 2000 to 2005, I was a member of the Latino literary troupe, Los Nortenos in Seattle. For the Day of the Dead, we hosted and produced literary events. I read this poem at one of the events.

Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

Death comes in shades; Grim Reaper’s many faces.

Secrets are revealed in the stars leaving traces.

True identities sought in the mad rush of the times.

Once we were tribal and we have left that behind.

Buried somewhere in a desert, mountain or stream.

Until the day destiny calls in a whisper, in a scream.

 

The rocks breathe our names; the river sings our songs.

They grab our attention and we feel something is wrong.

Illusions bend our faces back to us in tricked mirrors

And we choose not to listen, we recoil in horror.

We are not the names or identities given to us.

Like a phoenix, we rise from the proverbial ashes.

 

Death is an illusion and life is magically unreal.

We peel back the layers to see the truth revealed.

We reflect on our persecuted chromosomes.

We forget our ancestor spirits in our skeletons.

And the fires that burned in ancient times.

Shielded by preoccupations and factual lies.

 

We rise from our burial and kiss the galaxies.

We gather in pyramids beneath cosmologies.

Red, yellow, black and white, we are one.

Tribes returning to gather the moon and sun.

Someday we will see we are not alone.

And we will hear the speech of our bones.

 

We will crossover and sneak past the reaper.

The gods and goddesses of the past appear,

Smiling and laughing at our remembrance.

We wash paint from our faces and dance.

Around the fires, ignited by tribal drums.

Twilight gazes on us as we return home.

By Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved

 

Story–for the Day of the Dead

Since we are approaching Halloween, All Souls Day and The Day of the Dead, I’m posting work that I wrote when I was with the Latino literary troupe, Los Nortenos (2000-05). I wrote this piece for a performance that we gave at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.

skull-2028286_1280

Wearing the Bones of My Ancestors

Recently when I suffered a reoccurring problem with my spine, I recalled a doctor who offered to remove two extra ribs.  Of course, I declined his offer and chose to live with the pain of pinched nerves rather than remove bones from my body.  As time went on, I realized that I wear the bones of my ancestors.  These are the bones that never quite disintegrated into ashes and these are the bones that refused to burn for carrying shamanic influences.  And these bones derive from my mixed ancestry, which includes Philippine, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Finnish and Sami blood.

Long, long time ago, there lived a primitive people called the Finns, first discovered by the Romans around 10 AD in the region we now call Finland.  The Finns, now called Sami were pushed closer to the Arctic Circle as other tribes moved into the area, but for the most part, the Sami practiced their earth-based spirituality, including sorcery.  However when the Christians arrived, the church banned the earth-based spirituality, burning the shamans and their drums.  The magic never left us and the ancestors have returned.

In the past few years, I discovered my shamanic gifts.  I began hearing the call of the trees, animals and stones.  I had no idea why the nature spirits were calling to me, but I kept an open mind and heart.  Soon, an ancestor reconnected me with my Sami lineage, despite the fact that I grew up in middle-class America and was unaware of my Sami ancestors.

After awhile I began working with stones and I was told that the Sami people also work with stones.  I began connecting with animal and other spirits through chants.  Then I learned that the Sami people had been doing that from the onset and they call their chants yoiks.  Often they say that the spirit of the yoik finds the yoiker.  And eventually, the spirit that resides in my bones taught me this magical form of vocalization.

The Sami believe that their real home exists beyond the stars.  I don’t see this as heaven, but as a parallel dimension where our ancestors reside.  All my life I have been staring up at the stars wondering what exists behind their twinkling lights.  And all my life I have collected stones that for some mysterious reason called out to me.  I have felt like an outsider looking in among my relatives, friends and strangers as that part of me chose to live in an enchanted world.  I never could understand the stranger that exists in my bones until now and she is Sami, but she also answers to Spain, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Finland.  She is the call of the crow, the howl of the wolf, the silence of the jaguar and the whisper of stones.

Some day my bones will turn back into soil, but my spirit will never die for it knows that death is but an illusion and life is just a dream.

written for the Day of the Dead 2003. Copyright Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved

 

Glittering Guns–Violence & Adrenaline High in the US

DSCN2331During late September of 1986, I arrived at a theater class in Saint Catharines, Ontario. I wore a fringe leather jacket and ripped Levis. Since I had boarded the wrong bus, I arrived a half-hour late for class. I felt self-conscious arriving at my first class in a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone. And the first thing the students said after the professor announced that I was an American exchange student was, “Where is your gun?”

True enough, the US has had (as long as I’ve been alive) an obsession with guns and violence. And the Canadian students who questioned me preferred watching the news out of Buffalo, New York as opposed to Toronto because it was more exciting with the latest shooting or other crimes south of the border. I just felt embarrassed by the violence in the news and I avoided watching the news from either country.

Fast forward to the summer of 1991 when I was in London hanging out with musicians in a club. Again, the topic of American guns and violence came up with the Londoners grilling me about the topic. They asked if all Americans had guns when they knew well that we did not all have guns. And many English people preferred American TV shows (cops and criminals) to their own television shows.

I remember going to a jam session in London where the two musicians watched episodes of Starsky and Hutch while I sat in the background trying to write a melody to a song they gave me on tape. True, I had grown up watching cop shows but by the time I was performing music, I had stopped watching violent shows because I had lost interests in them in favor of spiritual pursuits.

And today, as another tragedy involving guns appears in the US media (with replays to induce adrenaline rushes in viewers), I question why more Americans aren’t researching post-trauma and how this condition is the cause root of violent crimes, addictions, etc along with the poisons we call food, the electric magnetic energy we expose ourselves to constantly, heavy metals in vaccines, and so on.

And the answer that comes to me is that violence in the news sells too. It sells big pharma drugs; it sells insurance. It sells products to make us feel numb or high so we don’t have to face the real demon which is our own shadow. People say they want peace and then they sit in front of a computer or TV set absorbing the violence in the media. They either numb or pump up their energy with the substance of their choice while few people are dealing with their triggers for post-trauma. And don’t we all suffer from this condition by now? Why aren’t we taking PTSD more seriously?

Because if we did take it more seriously, we would not send more soldiers to war. We would banish violence from movies and TV shows. We would research the real effects of GMO foods, air pollution, electromagnetic energy, and come clean with experiments done on the human race by HAARP, Monsanto, big pharma, etc…We’re smart enough to do this but where is the will to come clean? When will we dig our heads out of denial and admit that our hearts have been shattered and require mending?

I tell you now it doesn’t matter how many yoga poses you learn at a retreat or the number of hours you find yourself in meditation. You can sing mantras for weeks on end and say your affirmations in front of a mirror each morning, but until we deal with the trauma that lies at the root of each of us and as a collective, we will not experience world peace–I guarantee it.

I thought I only needed to take a spiritual approach to everything and ascend over this madness in the world until I realized that I’m part of the madness. We all are. It is our egos that separates us from the perpetuators of crimes and yet these so-called criminals are projections of our own darkness even if we’re not the ones who pulled the trigger or ignited the bomb. We still played a part in our denial, our silence, and our inability to question the media, Hollywood, big pharma and every other component in our convenient lives that poison the well of humanity. And this includes our choice of words and communication styles with the people we’re supposed to love.

We can label people criminals and toss shame their way. We can toss people into prison or send them to the electric chair and that won’t heal the violence in the world. In fact, it will only perpetuate this morphogenetic field that is filled with genocide and other atrocities of our ancestors that is in each of your DNA. None of us gets off the hook. None of us are saints. And even the saints had dark ancestors if you know what I mean.

I’m not going to sit in front of a television set and trigger trauma. I refuse to watch violent images on constant replay nor will I tune into those videos on YouTube. I simply don’t want to see it. And I’m not going to punish myself with violent images. I don’t get high on that sort of thing even if others, less conscious do.

For my own country, I recommend free therapy for every individual living in the US that focuses on healing trauma in whatever form it shows up. I recommend more funding go towards neurological and brain research, including alternative modalities that heal neuropathways in the brain. I recommend ending all wars today and to stop sending people to countries to protect poppy fields (heroin) or oil or other addictive substances. And I recommend we get real with ourselves and each other and stop pretending like we don’t know what’s going on.

I’ve spoken with people on the bus from various walks of life and from various educational backgrounds (people with little education to people with post-doctorate degrees), and people know what’s going on in the world. But all this talk isn’t solving the problem even if some bonding occurs, even from the heart to heart.

So, today, I want you to take a deep breath and get centered. Then ask yourself how you contribute to both violence and peace on the planet. Then come up with a next step to heal your part of it. I’ll do the same. Thank you.

The Practice–Writing During a Life Transition

DSCN1073Often, when I’m undergoing monumental changes in my life, the last thing I want to do is write. I feel as if the words lodged themselves behind a dam and I’m unable to interpret my emotions as I endure changes. Or I believe that no one wants to hear about the suffering I’m enduring or the play-by-play workings of my day.

However, this is the perfect time to write. This is where we find our creative spirit in raw materials. We can turn our experiences into gold by writing poems, essays, or blog posts such as this one. And maybe these words act as a balm for someone on the other side of the city or the world enduring similar circumstances.

I wrote most of my novels and screenplays during harsher times in my life. I wrote the original screenplay for Agnes and Yves when I was suffering from multiple chemical sensitivities. I did not have any furniture so I propped my word processer on pillows and wrote the screenplay from bed. When I completed Enter 5-D I was living in between homes (basically, homeless).

Here are tips for turning life experiences into gold on a page:

  • Get gritty during the rough draft. Allow emotions to erupt and pour out on the page. Stop and pound your fists into a pillow and scream if this helps with the process but get it all out.
  • Research other people’s stories of similar situations
  • Join a support group or a writing group that focuses on life stories
  • Journal and share your entries with a coach or therapist
  • Write every day even if it is just in a journal and even if it’s just one paragraph
  • Don’t censor yourself (based on how you should feel or act)
  • Let it rip
  • Tear the pages up if you must then clear the room with sage
  • Name your emotions and then befriend them

You might transform your blog posts or journal entries into a memoir, if you feel that it adds value to the world. But mostly, we use our writing efforts for catharsis as we make sense of events that visit us.

I offer creativity coaching using astrology, cards, and other types of divination. Sign up at Whole Astrology.

Write It–Memoir: Revenge versus Telling a Higher Truth

Queen Anne tub, 1995
Photo from 1995: Taken by Liz Herlevi

I never thought I would write a memoir. For the most part, I find reading memoirs tedious as writers tend to include too many details and tell their story in a linear way. Many memoirists also seem to have barbs attached to their pens.

The reason why Eat, Pray, Love enjoyed success wasn’t because Liz Gilbert struck out to get revenge on her former husband or the lifestyle she was supposed to embrace. The memoir received worldwide attention because the author stripped herself bare while allowing raw, yet universal emotions to splatter on to the pages of her book. Gilbert also chose a non-linear structure for her memoir, even though her travelogue traveled from Italy, then India, and finally, Bali. Gilbert also tells her story in a self-effacing, humorous, and relatable voice–at least familiar to middle-class American women of a certain age.

But when I was wading through manuscripts on the defunct Authonomy website years ago, most of the memorists made several mistakes in my opinion. They used too many passive verbs, they regurgitated their lifestory instead of focusing on a slice of life, and they chose macabre topics without providing some brighter moments or comic relief. Some authors would have been better off hiring a ghost writer since their writing skills were rudimentary or told in a second language. And yet, an author learns a lot by critiquing other people’s work while also reading the top memoirs on the charts.

The main question for me revolves around baring one’s soul. How many sensitive topics or secrets do I reveal in my work? And am I revealing these secrets to tell a universal story or am I seeking revenge on a subconscious level? It helps to spend time in therapy while writing material with suffering rooted in childhood situations, as is the case with my memoir, Woman Sleeping on a Couch. And the good news is that the writing process proved cathartic and I did bring up these deeper issues during therapy sessions. But I still ask myself if my story is universal or just too painful to share with others?

Determine whether or not you’re shooting from the hip or if sharing your story has the power to heal others.

  • Will telling your story divide a family or cause a rift with relatives?
  • Will your story withstand the scrutiny of critics (both professional and personal)?
  • Can you write your story in an entertaining manner where you laugh at yourself and reveal your vulnerabilities (shadows and projections)?
  • Do you take responsibility for your end of the story or act like a victim?
  • Do you discern the difference between events that serve the story and events that serve the ego?
  • Will telling your story land you in legal hot water or liberate you?
  • Does your story share an arc with fiction? Do you have a strong beginning, middle and resolution or is your story open-ended?

Writing memoirs rubs the conscious raw. Writing memoirs strips the soul bare. And not everyone wants to read about people’s personal history unless it strikes a common thread. And the most popular memoirs revolve around travel, food, love/romance, and animals. If you take a more universal approach by anchoring your story in one of those themes, you have a greater chance of hitting the literary jackpot.

My sister and I used to have a conversation where she believed that everyone has an interesting story to tell. But face it, not everyone is a storyteller. And while it’s enjoyable to sit with friends, colleauges, and family members as they spin nostalgic and revealing yarns, a memoir stretches those yarns to 300 pages, which causes some yarns to snap and break.

However, if a story has a strong beginning, middle, and end with an overarching universal theme, then it is worth telling. Just be willing to rewite the “truth” through several drafts. And then depending on the material in the story, muster the courage to weather any storms that come from secrets and situations contained in the memoir. Once we let the worms out of the can, it’s too late to put a lid on it.

I’m an author and astrologer who provides coaching for creative professionals. Go to Whole Astrology to sign up for a session.