A "Book Of Life"
My life in years one day at a time:

June 29, 2004
"36"
November 10 1994 - November 9, 1995

So there we were, the three of us in that nice condo. We thought we'd grow old there, and were feeling content. But then one day Laura said the air was getting polluted in that section of Tucson. So we were looking to move AGAIN!

We went to the Renaissance Faire up north near Superior with the idea we'd not be seeing it again in a a long time, for we were thinking of a long distance move.


Julia and Laura in Renaissance wear

We considered Yuma or Lake Havasu City and went there to visit. Lake Havasu City was quickly ruled out. That place is the hottest on the planet. Or at least the United States. It does not cool down there at night. Meanwhile, we enjoyed seeing the London Bridge and I took pictures there.


Bridge From the Past to the Future

We also decided against Yuma at this time, because wages seemed low and rents seemed high. But while there, we visited the nearby sand dunes.


Laura and I against the background of the Yuma sand dunes

So what to do? We talked with a realtor friend of ours. She suggested the out laying areas of Tucson. A double wide mobile home just north of Tucson certainly was set in a scenic spot. It had 1/4 acre of land with it. We went for it. I was relieved that I wouldn't have to be pulling up stakes. I could still go to the same job and enjoy the choir as before.

And the view of the Catalina mountains outside our windows was marvelous:

So sometime in May 1995, we moved there. It was wonderfully spacious. We all enjoyed that we had a whole room set aside for sacred space. Whenever we went in that room, the vibes were especially peaceful. Even in a picture of Julia, this atmosphere shows:


Julia poses as the northern light falls upon her and surroundings.

Once again, I thought I would grow old there. I have many pictures of us in this house. Laura had two labrador dogs, she would practice fencing there with who ever would take her on. We planted Christmas trees there, and I was certain I'd see those trees get large.

But you know things have a way of changing, don't you?

June 29, 2004
"37"
November 10 1995 - November 9, 1996

By the end of winter, early 1996, Laura was talking about moving again. I could understand. That large expanse of land was just too difficult for her to take care of. The scrub had to be cleared away because of fire hazard, we couldn't just let nature take its course.

I had hopes of going back to central Tucson. No, we didn't do that. Laura declared central Tucson too polluted. Laura proposed Casa Grande, a dinky town midway between Tucson and Phoenix. I didn't like the idea at the onset. Five years later, after five years of living there, I still didn't like the idea.

The town was nearly desolate. Okay, they had a good Italian restaurant, a couple of good Mexican restaurants, and a good Chinese restaurant, but that was it. In despair, I wrote to the Blockbuster website, telling them this town desperately needed them. A few months later, the video store was all built up, with its familiar blue and gold colors. It became the cultural hive of the town.

The theater was dreadful. The sound quality was poor, and films were always breaking down. If we wanted to go to a decent theater or bookstore, we had to travel 45 miles to Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix.

Can I express with any more distinction how much I hate the town? Yes, I can, but that will wait for another year's tale. For as bad as Casa Grande was, it was going to get worse.

Okay, the town was pitiful. But Laura had a way of drawing interesting people around her. Soon, her sons Anton and James would join us there and later her Mother and Glen. The people associations were good. Except for one person I'll leave unnamed. I gave this person a false name in my online journal. That's one thing I began this year, an online journal, with the hopes it would inspire creativity.

I began it about a year after Laura introduced us to the web. Once again, I'd reacted to Laura's decision to sign up to this new fangled device with hesitency. All I could think of was the little local discussion boards in which so many flame wars occurred. However, once again, Laura proved right. I quickly discovered it was very little like the BBSs. An exuberant letter I'd written to some friends of ours demonstrates how I felt:

                                         
Dear Paul and Dan,                           October 29,  1995

     Hello!  How are you?  Happy Halloween!  We are having a good
weekend.  For yesterday, the three of us experienced a historic
event. 
     We went up on the Internet!  Yes, our small computer connected
with computers all over the country and in the world.  What an
experience.  Our newspaper is available on line on a program
called StarNet.  This links to the internet, world wide web and
all that stuff.  You read a news article and below are
'footnotes' that  you can click on to read other related items.
Those are the items that originate all over the world.  We
were in Chicago, we were in Turkey, etc.!

Yes, I was quickly among the 'hooked'. Soon after, Laura was investigating the use of the 10megs of webspace that came with our ISP host, and we soon had a website. She got me to write a short bio, which still exists as it was written then without much alteration, and included some of my poems.

That's all there was of me on the site until October, 1996 and my journal beginning. At first I was timid to do any of the html coding, and would type my journal entries out in Word Perfect. From there, Laura would put them into html. But I could see this was work for her and I did not want her to grow weary of my much writing. So one day I asked her to print up a copy of the bare code. I found it understandable, and for my next entry, just copied and pasted the tiny code bits.

It was the simplest of code, I had yet to learn the basics of tables, but I was out there and flying. I've been doing it ever since.

June 29, 2004
"38"
November 10 1996 - November 9, 1997

In terms of job opportunities, Casa Grande wasn't a live and happening place. Laura thought I should try my hand at running my own home sewing business. I gamely gave it a good try for a few years. There were a lot of reasons it didn't work out. We as a family unit lacked the discipline to stay at home and make it work.

Laura wanted me to go out and do things when I knew I should be at home to receive customers. But I was also guilty. When I was at home, I was often surfing the web or playing computer games instead of sewing. The conflict of interest got to my nerves. It got to my immune system via my joints. I couldn't stand it anymore and quit in 2000. Okay, that's ahead of this year. But I did give it a go for several years. To my credit, I did make some profit.

I did like the room dedicated just to sewing. Laura had constructed for me a very large and wonderful cutting table, with many shelves as support base for the large top table. It was peaceful in there. I liked playing whatever music I wanted as I plied my fingers for the tasks. It was a little world of my own.

I wish I had a picture of that lovely cutting table. But I do have an image of the pictures above my sewing machine:

excerpt from a journal entry:

I've seen this wall more than frequently, so I'll share it with you all. You can have a closer look at some of those pictures. Starting with the far upper left picture, that's of Laura in the Flagstaff forest. The three little cherries were drawn by Laura. She made a drawing of the wolfpup, as well. Directly below the cherries is a scene at the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum. Below that, the stream at Montezuma's Well. To its left, another Arboretum scene. I didn't scan the picture of Julia to its left, but I used it as inspiration for a drawing of her. Heading right, Laura didn't like the way her chin looked in the picture of her and I, so I never scanned it. (But it's still one of my favorites.) The card above it has the logo "Growth has its own roadmap."Above that, Julia used her calligraphic arts on a sort of haiku I did.

Beyond the window
Birds in tonal purity
Sing even if no one's listening.

And I wouldn't forget that little white thing on the lower right of the wolf cub picture. It's a flower from the trim on Laura's Renaissance gown.

(Note of August 24, 2005)
I didn't scan the picture of Laura and I then, but I have now, and it is in full size version. It's still one of my favorites.

June 29, 2004
"39"
November 10 1997 - November 9, 1998

I began this year in a quiet, contemplative mood:

November 10, 1997

On my thirty-ninth birthday, it is a time to pause and reflect while at this marker in life. As Laura said at the beginning of her card to me, 'tis ". . . a time to rejoice for the journey." And I do, for Sweet Love that finds me ". . . magnificent, strong, beautiful and bright." Richly blessed, I am, to be so loved. And all the "great cuddles" from Julia and Laura are delightfully special, too!

The following, found in the liner notes of The Mystic Harp, one of the CD's I got for my birthday, spoke to me:

(by J. Donald Walters, dedicated to Derek Bell)

CELTIC MOONRISE

The moon, rising on a calm lake, is a reminder of endless
previous moonrises that have ever calmly posed the same challenge:
"Children, recognise the bondage of time: Seek freedom in timelessness!"

When I count the moonrises that have filled these past thirty-nine years, I am indeed aware of the tempo of time. But it holds me not a prisoner if I recognise a greater truth: We are always living in the eternal Now. Life is just one "NOW" right after the other!

As I read the Walters quote then, I was able to see a greater truth. Now, perhaps more so than then, knowing the limitations of time, I feel its bonds. But this instead spurs me to make better use of the 'now'.

This month was given to deep spiritual thought. I began to get a sense of the magical matrix underlying us all, and sense my connection to it. I also was filled with yearnings to know and express great Truth:

I who hope to climb the ladder
and bring down Fire,
I pray to the Divine,
I pray to the divine in you.
Can you hear me?
We are not island universes.
Underneath, the rock bed
unites us all.
Can you hear me?

JAL, 11-30-97

By December, I'd managed to make all three of us beautiful Renaissance costumes to wear to Anton's wedding:


(I'd rescan, but this might have been from an early digital camera...)

June 30, 2004
"39"
November 10 1997 - November 9, 1998

I continued through out December that intense desire to reach a listening ear:

With what can I reach
that will pull you to me,
get you to listen, and
see the gems of my soul
like hand-picked jewels?
These jewels I have so grasped at,
Reaching, reaching, reaching,
Greed has no end.

JAL, 12-27-97

I called the intense desire 'greed', and thought it was not entirely a good thing. Maybe I was willing to admit it was not entirely a 'bad thing'.

In January, I was considering the relationship between spirituality and sexuality, and defending the sacredness of sensuality. I was angry towards those who call the flesh 'evil'. And I defended the unique relationship which was mine:

January 1, 1998 excerpt

We who dare...who will not throw away love. That is the truth of the triad. I who loved (love) Laura so much, in the newness, my heart was full of this ripening discovery of excitement at the beauty of Julia. My pulse would quicken when she'd call or a letter would arrive. Laura also was thinking she was alone in her discoveries of the exquisite softness of Julia's hands. We each were feeling awe. This, our world, was not tearing apart. It was opening to new levels. New levels, which we, already rawly bold with declarations of our first love so preciously guarded, viewed with a mind opening awe. And we were not the first to affirm this, our 'queer' love....we could be among the first to affirm the new love. It doesn't diminish the first love, it makes it more rich. Ah, that's the thing THEY don't understand. We are not trying to throw down every learned percept, us iconoclasts. We reclaim what we didn't even know in our naïveté had been stolen from us. But having discovering its fresh joy, its fresh truth, we would not throw it away "because love comes only in pairs". WHO said that? Obviously it couldn't be true. For we were finding ourselves the proof that it wasn't true.

And we are not those who deny truths, no matter how hard. What makes it hard? Only that you must have the courage to declare it, hard courage for what has been taken away. There aren't parades for triad pride. We've since discovered a web site or two, cybernetic sybarites showing all, chasing each other, constantly new partners. THAT scene, though there be nothing wrong with that. We of the committed tri-union, we declare our truth here. If we all declare our truths, maybe we can discover what was lost.

Once again, the intense striving for truth. ALETHEIA! May we not forget!

In January, I continued to explore what the combination of fear and hatred does:

January 5, 1998 excerpt

We in our great philosophizing ponder our fear of the unknown. Often it is while imbibing a drink made from grapes, and left to ferment a long time. What is that mighty terror that fills us? Maybe it's a message from the gods. So we bow down and worship the messenger of fear. Something this big has got to be there for a reason. So, it becomes a litmus test. If we fear it, it must be bad.

This philosophically and spiritually time for me was followed with thoughts of ''The awareness of the nearness of death is also a part of the warrior's mindset.''

January 7, 1998 excerpt

Having been so near death, even to the point of actually dying on the hospital table, Laura is acutely aware of this. While returning home from Tucson this evening, she asked Julia and I this question: ''If you knew you had only one week to live, what would you do?" Julia, who was driving, calmly answered first, ''I would suspect I would just do as I do now.''

I pondered a bit. Surely wouldn't I want to do something better than just what I ordinarily do? I thought out loud as I answered Laura. ''I would write or call everyone I know and tell them I love them. I would spend much time with both of you, hugging close and looking deep into your eyes, so that our spirits can connect deeply on that special plane for which we have invented a word to express that which far surpasses love, * * * * * *. . .'' Laura, taking advantage of my pause, said she would go bowshooting as always. I asked myself out loud, would I still continue to take sewing customers? Yes, I would, for I would be glad for the opportunity to prove once again my skills and be of service. I would relish those last sewing jobs. I would take extra time with each one.

''So you too, would essentially do the same as always?'', asked Laura. I was disappointed to also answer as Julia. Yet it is what I ultimately would do. I would listen to all the music I cherish most, the Capercaillie albums, the Silly Wizard albums, the Andy M. Stewart albums. And I'd have to listen to Clannad, and that Narada compilation Celtic Spirit. And I would hear again the Bach Goldberg Variations. . .

And I'd read the on-line newspaper, and let everyone reading the Community Front Page have a piece of my mind. Yes, to my somewhat disappointed dismay, essentially what I always do!

Laura's next words were surprising. In that we would do nothing differently than always, we, in fact, are living as the samurai warriors! For this is part of what heijoshin means. Both startled and comforted at the same time, I rejoiced again in the richness that is my life.

A little further in January, I was defining myself as a writer:

January 15, 1998 excerpt

Defining Myself as a Writer....

Hm-m-mm. That is a constant inner dialogue with myself. I remember when I was young and my father told me "You think you're an artist! You don't draw, you don't paint..."

So with this learned fearfulness,(How DARE you think you're a writer...you vain creature of illusions!)

(...gosh...am I going to send this rant???)

I return back to the inner dialogue, The STRUGGLE, the fuzzy, but gradually clarifying view of perfection, a goal seen in the distance. I get closer to seeing what it is. I see it in the words of writers who move me, make me feel things, make me ponder truths. This holy grail that ever fuels the fire of my soul. . .

(What the hell, it beats boredom!)

I think that's the balance we need. We must take ourselves seriously and yet not TOO seriously.

Remember to have FUN in life. We forget that. My painting teacher told me HER teacher told her "To be a great artist, you must suffer." My very young soul thought (as does my slighter older soul now) , "Oh, yeah, cutting off your own ear really helps your art???"

I add "To be a great artist, you must laugh...laugh deep from the well of the incredible richness of life. Laugh, and love and feel it all, the whole gamut of this stuff called life. Be aware to every sensation. Listen for ephemeral delicacies. Look for ephemeral delicacies. The very act of looking will improve your vision. Look and wonder. Ponder. Ponder everything. Don't be afraid to look under rocks. Truth redeems the 'dirt' and 'bugs'. Cry. Don't be afraid to cry. Sob 'til you think you're going to fill the ocean. You'll 'weigh' less. Your soul with the lightness of burdens released will dance again. Dance! Feel the pulse of the music deep within. It's calling to you. It wants you to dance. You want to dance. Yeah, get out of that chair that holds you...it is not your slave. Listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry. Sleep when you're tired. Lay your head on that pillow of dreams and float. It's all right, ALL RIGHT. Everything in your life is meant to be. Hard, scary, silly, merry, angry, it is all part of the whole. Love the whole, the whole of your unimitatable existence. Love and share your ephemeral delicacies. Eat those ephemeral delicacies....plump berries of life. They go "pop!" in your mouth, all those beautiful berries, and the juice tastes so GOOD. Eat! Be greedy for life, but share your treasures. There is plenty of room at the table of life."

This time in my life continued to be a rich one, and in February I had an unforgettable experience:

February15, 1998

Meditations

"The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment...everything that is wonderful must be touched in the present moment."
--Thich Nhat Hanh

"Our capacity to love is an unstoppable essence that when nurtured can expand without limit."
--Pema Chodron, March 1998 Shambhala Sun

Kundalini in the Supermarket

Walking into the Albertson's store, the words of Pema Chodron I have just recently read are simmering within me. "The capacity to love has no limits..." The music over the loud speakers must be a valentine's treat, for they have imported concert hall speakers. It hits me like a wave of eddies and currents. "I can fly high as an eagle...", the woman is intoning.

This mixes with the brew just fine. I can fly. I can fly high without limits. I can fly, fueled by the power of UNLIMITED LOVE. I can fly... This love wells up within me. A great wave of happiness washes over me. I have come to this ocean's edge before, certain that nothing greater could lie before me in the horizon. Surely I would sink downwards in love-happiness, death coming in a flame of glory. A flame soon consumed by eternity.

But perhaps not... Maybe I don't have to worry about that. Love is unlimited. My heart can just expand and expand.

"THERE'S NO END TO THIS!"

I burst into orgasmic brilliant joy. I have never felt so illuminated. Midway through a mundane supermarket, I am distantly aware of corporeal reality. Me in the long brown skirt and sweater, floating down the aisle, ...how am I perceived by others? Is this rapturous glow visible? They are all unaware. I must pilot this flight slowly down to earth, or I incinerate. I breathe, floating to a gentle landing by the time I reach the other end of the store. Bottles of expensive draught are stacked in neat rows. Liquid libations to raise spirits. I do not need these. I breath deeply once more. Plane is securely landed, pilot still somewhat stunned.

Later thoughts on this. . .

When I experienced this yesterday, I didn't know what it was. I thought it was just hyperemotional me being extrasensitive. So I filed away the transcendent emotional experience to memory. It was by reading one of the books we got earlier yesterday at the Barnes and Noble that I discovered it was Kundalini, a treasured and sought after mystical experience. A T Mann and Jane Lyle in Sacred Sexuality describe it thusly:

Kundalini is simultaneously a spiritual force and a sexual force latent within every human, which sleeps at the base of the spine, where it remains as a potent energy. When activated through meditation or aroused by sexual activity, it rises up the spine until it approaches or reaches the crown chakra, at which point the yogi or sexual initiate will experience samadhi or bliss. When kundalini is understood and its potency properly channeled, it is a powerful force for spirituality...
It's nice to know it has a name, other than "mental orgasm"!

I ended this journal section on a high note:

Dreams can propel you high into uncharted territory. Trusting your own vision to pilot yourself, you become an explorer. You can discover anything in these realms. I have a vision of what MIGHT be there. Possibility keeps me ever in pursuit. Wild-eyed and obsessed, it nonetheless fulfills me. It might not be just craziness. There might be SOMETHING REALLY THERE!

When I began the new section, I was faced with a new and deeply saddening thing, the death of my Grandmother in March. I wanted to go back to Joliet for the funeral, but Laura was adamantly against it. Also, there was a strange thing. My cousin kept trying to call and inquire of something. I could only vaguely ascertain that it was in regards to a letter they were endeavoring to find out if I'd authored. They claimed it was 'peppered' with vulgar words.

Now, it is not my ordinary style to write in such a manner. But being strict fundy Christians, their idea of 'vulgar' and my idea of 'vulgar' are two different things. Could Laura have authored something in anger and affixed my name to it? It is a complete mystery. I have no idea what the matter was in regard to. I suspect it had to do with any possible inheritence, that if they did determine I wrote this letter, I would have no part in it.

(I did receive from them the rings my Dad had given Gramma, however.) I felt bad that I couldn't go, but Laura was so strongly against it. Perhaps she was fearful they would try to do something to me in my vulnerable state, like try to make me share their beliefs.

I have no idea. I went to the funeral in my imagination, and it seemed that I was there in a way. Just because I don't like what has manifested from their beliefs doesn't mean I don't love those people.

This heartache was followed with further change. The troublesome person with whom we'd pooled our finances in buying the doublewide in Casa Grande was becoming most irksome. He was a transvestite who dressed in disgusting ways, in women's clothes, but with his bulging male apparatus in plain view. He pranced in front of my sewing customers in this manner. And he was insulted when we told him it was inappropriate. But happily, he was moving out on his own in May. We were greatly glad of it and hoped peace would at last return to all of us.

Julia returned to the workforce, and desperate to get a job, took the first that came along. She's not really suited to night shift security work, but that's what she gamely started with.

In July, I found renewed creativity, via several colored pencil pieces. Also, I returned to the search for deep Truth:

July 17, 1998

The balance of the pendulum is maintained for every swing in one direction is followed by a swing in its opposing direction. Maybe everything in life is that way. It is only when you look at the whole picture do you see this. But we must step outside of ourselves to do this. It is a brave exploration we do when we can let loose of our own singularity long enough to see it blended with all the other singularities. Brave and rare for seldom do we do it with the intensity it requires and yet it is the only way we can gain Truth. It is not enough to know only our small world. Yes, no one can know it as we do. Also it is impossible to know the world of another as she does. But that we make the attempt, that we make the attempt, this is the sole bridge we have to understanding. It is this which opens our eyes to the long distance.

Thus, I pondered the necessary of knowing the Objective Universe in addition to our own Subjective Universe.

Always, there was a sense of Mystery slowly revealing itself. Then I was moved to capture a drawing in process:

emerging
A portrait mid-process
JAL, 8-2-98

This poem obtained through the intuitive process of accessing Deep Self affirms the value of the 'Self Centered' approach:

Vantage Point

I stood at the edge of my mind
And looked out over the horizon.    

Before me, the vast empires,
Each with its ruler lay,

And me so small,
Seemingly at the center of it all.

What can be gained or lost,
And for what cost,
By surrendering the crown?

I return to the center,
No empire, this, my cottage,
But, mine, all mine,

Mine.

JAL, 10-13-98

This poem came to me, each line 'dictated'. The fuel for the busy Muse were my thoughts on popularity and fame. "Surrendering the crown" means to let other peoples values and opinions rule your life.

In August, we learned with sadness that Laura's Mother's spouse Glen had been diagnosed with cancer. Glen was initially suicidaly depressed, but Laura encouraged him to 'Give Mother a week' before he did anything rash. Laura knew a plea for a longer period of time may not have been heeded, so encouraged this much. He did listen to her persuasive nature. By October's end, we all rejoiced that Laura's Mother's spouse Glen had good success in his surgery and that all the cancer had been removed.

This was a most eventful year, beginning with deep thoughts, followed by changes, some sad, some good, then much creativity and more philosophical ponderings and then rejoicing.

June 29, 2004
"40"
November 10 1998 - November 9, 1999

One of the purchases in December 1998, a digital camera with which I took this sunset picture:

 
sunset in Casa Grande, Arizona
 

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

next section, year 40
Book Of Life Index
© Joan Ann Lansberry
joanlansberry(dot)yahoo.com