November 10th to November 2nd

Posted on 10 November 2003


Yesterday I spent time in my secret world. What do I mean by “secret world”? The world that I create in my little house in the garden. Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, I come to my house and feel so good, body and soul, that I remove my clothes and write naked.

Several years ago, Marlene introduced Eric Maizel to her journal writing class. Maizel works with artists, writers, dancers, painters, musicians, and the like, who are blocked or who feel that their work needs to be revitalized. He suggests creating in the nude as a means to liberating the spirit.

D.H. Lawrence wrote a poem about baring all:

Moral Clothing

“Only when I am stripped stark naked I am alone
and without morals, and without immorality

And if stark naked I approach a fellow-man or fellow-
they must be naked too,
and none of us must expect morality of each other:
I am that I am, take it or leave it.
Offer me nothing but that which your are, stark and strange.
Let there be no accommodation at this issue.”

I simply want freedom to be.

Without clothes, I am a painter’s model. True to life. I don’t hide a crease or wrinkle or hair. I am a woman in her fifties. I am not paper thin. I am not perky. I am not smooth. My body shows my inheritance and history.

In the fourth chapter of “The Pregnant Virgin” Woodman writes “A body whose wisdom has never been honored will not easily trust.”

I wish that when I was Gill’s age, I honoured my body more. I wish that I had liked it. Working in a clothing store, I see many women who are at war with their bodies, who despise their shape, who want to hide their “flaws.” I tell these women that they are voluptuous even beautiful. (I know it sounds corny but it’s the truth. I’m sick of women criticizing their own flesh when there’s nothing wrong with it.) And although I have done the same damn thing as these women, I’ve stopped. As of today.

Now to work.

(Am I exposing too much of myself? My intellect says “Deal with it.”
My emotions shudder and wonder what I will tell next.)



I woke after nine as last night I was out way past my bedtime.

It was a dark and starry night. Five women – Bett, Shirley, Marlene, Maureen, and I – met at Marlene’s for a potluck feast. The moon – symbol of the feminine – was full. The last time we were together under a mysterious sky was in the south of France.

We began with cheese, olives, nuts, fresh strawberries, grapes, and wine; moved on to spicey soup, beet salad, and vegetable-strewn lasagna; and finished with chocolate, apple pie, icecream, and more chocolate. A Fellini-like feast. Shirley was the first to succumb to the overabundance and lay on the floor until her senses returned.

Marlene sat at the piano and began to play and sing joyful, soulful, melodies. She was joined by Maureen and Shirley. Bett and I lounged on the couch and demanded plaintive tunes and were not heeded until Marlene left her perch and put on a CD “The Best of Leonard Cohen” – how I love his lyrics. (In our younger days, Rob and I would make love to his poetry.)

By candle and moon light, furniture was shifted, and amid books and remnants of the feast, we began to move our glorious flesh in time to the music. We twirled, bent, preened, alone together. We paused, replenished ourselves with wine and water, cavorted again, paused again and divulged bawdy jokes, chuckled, laughed, roared.

I looked at my watch. It was past the bewitching hour. We disrobed and chanted around a cauldron celebrating the splendor of our bodies and our wishes for fulfillment… only kidding.

It was nearly one when I drove Shirley home and as I had been drinking water, not wine, for hours, I drove home – sated and content.

Ain’t life wonderful?



This morning is a luxury. I have no appointments or obligations. I woke late – after six – as Rob climbed into bed. After working all night, he is dead tired, cold as ice. He said the only reason that they finished shooting was that Halle Berry was too tired to perform. (Rob says that she is lovely, like Gill, natural and sparkling without the usual star ego.) I wrap myself around him, trying to pass on some of my sleepy warmth. He is asleep in seconds.

I make myself a coffee and slip out to my house in the garden, write in my private journal, and read Kate’s livejournal and latest column, and Shirley’s weblog. I love this way of keeping up with my friends.

Last night, Bren, Gill, and I went to hear Brigid Molloy speak at the Planetarium. Molloy is originally from Newfoundland. Although she lived in the States for many years, she still has a Newfie accent that borders on Irish. She is 72 years old and spent 35 years of her life in a convent before a voice in her head told her she’d had enough. She ignored it until she attended a Jungian lecture and soon after went into analysis.

Molloy is a hoot. With her round figure, white hair, glasses, and mannish suit, she reminded me of Santa Claus. And she was just as jolly. She had the audience in stitches, especially when she spoke of ego and pronounced it “eggo.” The evening was billed as an “An Introduction to Jungian Psychology” and although I knew much of the material Molloy covered, I enjoyed her explanation and frequent quotes. And she did clarify some areas, especially in regards to “eggo” where I was hazy.
(I nearly ask Marlene to explain “ego” at our last Jungian meeting but worried I’d sound too simple.)

Molloy said that ego begins to develop at two years. We create “masks” or “personas” whenever “self” is unacceptable and in order to gain acceptance in the world at large. In mid-life, one sees that one has been wearing masks and hiding self. (Self, in Molloy’s words, is one’s “regulating centre”, “indestructible inner authority”, and “divine part.” This is no longer acceptable to self.

My thoughts are drifting. I think of Helen Luke saying something to the effect that if one wants to die well, one has to live well. A poem by Longfellow comes to mind:

“O ye dead Poets, who are living still
Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
Though ye are living, if neglect can kill

Not in the clamour of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.”

In mid-life, self becomes more demanding than ego. (Mine definitely is.) But one must first remove one’s armour. It is difficult, even painful, to be unclothed. One feels so naked, so vulnerable. Molloy said that between ego and self in a barrier of pain.

I was very aware that Brendan and Gill were sitting beside me. I hope that when they reach middle-age, their barriers will be less dense than mine.

She also described “shadow” as the “good and bad in you that you have pushed down and not dealt with” and “complexes” as “the hot spot in the psyche – the sores” that are connected to emotion and personal history. I kept recording her words and quotes: “The brighter the persona, the darker the shadow.” “That of which I am ignorant, owns me.”

There was so much to take in in one evening.

I have no time to organize my thoughts. I woke early enough, drove Gill to school, but we decided once we’d arrived that coffee at Torrefazione would do more for our souls than her 7 a.m. French class so we left.

I worked in the store for six hours and arrived home to find a gorgeous bouquet of yellow flowers on the doorstep from a customer whose pants I took to San Francisco for repair. It was a small gesture on my part – and such a magnificent one on hers.

I have no time to write (I need to wash my hair – an excuse I used to use to avoid going out on dates – Rob caught me on this one) and then I’m meeting Bren for dinner and going to a Jungian lecture. And to be truthful, I just can’t do it (writing that is) at this time of day.

This morning I woke early and went out to my little house. Rob still wasn’t home from work. When I came in, he was fast asleep.

Yesterday, I spread all the information for spring clothes on my dining room table and started to methodically go through them and order what the women in the store agreed looked good and would sell. Only trouble is that I haven’t spent nearly enough money. Is this not every woman’s (person’s) dream? The voice of authority saying “You have not spent enough on clothes. You must find more and more and more until you have used all the allocated funds.”

Amid the ordering and laundry, I’ve been thinking about this public journal, worrying that I am crossing boundaries and exposing what should be kept hidden in my private journal. I think of Marion Woodman and how, up to the last minute, she wasn’t sure that she wanted “Bone” published.

I worry that what I express, in my desire to be open and honest, has a manipulative aspect but as I write this, I think that this is not my intent (or rarely.)

As these blogs accumulate, I am seeing myself more clearly. Some aspects of self disturb me but I am finding en masse, they are revealing the pitfalls in my thinking. I am glad for this clarification.

For instance, it is easier to write about hating myself than it is to write about loving myself. I have been told, through responses to my blog, that I am not alone. This morning I asked myself: “How can so many express their love for me and I can express my love for them but I can’t express love for myself?” And I answer: “Because one isn’t supposed to love oneself. I learned this as a child. Loving oneself is vain. But how can I feel that I’m giving anything of worth if I am worthless?”

I do a song and dance here in my private journal. (This morning I’m writing and responding to the fourth chapter in “Pregnant Virgin”.) And when I’ve read the line “Now she can displease the collective and instead of feeling the terror of rejection, know that she is blessed among women” I realize that although
I still fear rejection, I also feel “blessed among women.” Such a relief.

A line from a country and western song keeps running through my head

But I’ve got friends who love me
And they know just where I stand
It’s all a part of me
And that’s who I am…

I must run to work. Tonight I’m taking a tap dancing class – the last time I wore tap-shoes was twenty-eight years ago.



An hour from now my friend Bett will be in court with her ex-partner, Tony. Bett is a loving, caring, open, intelligent, sensitive, sexy, woman. She lived with Tony for twenty-two years. He ended the relationship. She paid for the house and the apartment (with her inheritance) and registered them in both their names. Tony is younger and still working. Bett has retired. Her financial future and security will be decided in court today. I hope and pray that all this will be taken into consideration and that she gets a fair settlement.

Last night, Helen came over and I told her about my heaviness lately and pointed at “The Pregnant Virgin” and said “that book is responsible.” (I know this is only partly true but I like to be melodramatic.) She said “good”. She said that the heavens are also responsible. I am where I should be. Helen is a believer in astrology. I do not believe or disbelieve but I am open to different ways to interpret this world. This morning, she sent me an article about the full moon, an extraordinary full moon, that will appear Saturday night:

“On November 8th, 2003, at 5:13 pm (Pacific Standard Time) we have a Full Moon with a total eclipse of the Moon. The Harmonic Concordance is the result of how the planets meet in the sky. They create a six-pointed star or Star of David… [This means] a very rapid liberation and a profound awakening for those willing to take the risk to come fully into present time, without any attachment of any kind, living in consciousness with an open heart and a spirit of oneness, and of community with humankind…. The Harmonic Concordance is an opportunity for liberation into the soul power.”

I opened my poetry book to find the next poem is “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver. This was the first of many poems that Marlene read to her journal-writing class at UBC. This was the poem that my friend Leslie painted on my nap-sac. Every single line is rich and full of meaning. From the first sentence “You do not have to be good.” To the last “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,/ the world offers itself to your imagination,/ calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-/ over and over announcing your place/ in the family of things.”

All this heady stuff is difficult for a simple Irish woman but mad passionate fool that I am, I take it all in, and feel my spirit rising.

Today I will be sensible and place spring orders for the store – scary – what if nothing sells and try to finish my “fun” article.



Oh dear, I don’t know if what I’m about to write (what I have written already in my journal) is for public consumption or not. I hate my moaning and groaning. How dare I? I have such a good life. I have family and friends who love me. I have so much.

I need some fortification. The next poem in my book is “Love After Love” by Derek Walcott. (How can each poem be so appropriate to my mood?) The lines that hit me hardest are “You will love again the stranger who was your self./ Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart/ To itself, to the stranger who has loved you/ All your life, whom you ignored”

Last night I nearly cracked at the Jungian meeting. We were speaking of anger and differentiating between feminine and animus. Woodman says “Feminine anger cleanses; animus anger leaves me tense.” And I realized that I seldom get angry and when I do, I become frightened, lose my voice, and hold all in. When something or someone provokes me, I always ask myself “Am I justified in feeling angry?” And it’s a relief when someone tells me “Yes. I would have been angry.”

But this need for outside affirmation? approval? agreement? strikes me as immature. Why don’t I know when I’m being appropriate myself?

When I began writing, I had to hold myself together, contain myself before I could sort out where my surplus emotion was coming from.

I asked myself: “What has been bothering me?
A hundred thousand tears. I want to be so wise… I will not fall apart. What do I mean by fall apart? Crying like a baby. When did I learn to contain myself? When did I stop crying? I haven’t cried in a long time. I used to go and hide somewhere and cry my eyes out… I’d cry until I felt cleansed… I think I feel a failure…”

And I move on to specifics. It appears that I can express my feelings to close friends, to those who express her or him self to me, but I seldom do this with Rob. Nor does he do this with me.

I make excuses. He works long hours and when he’s not, I’m at work or at a meeting. We hardly have time for the day-to-day. It’s as if the heavens were conspiring against us.

I who so believe in listening and dialoguing find myself unable or unwilling to do so with this precious man of mine.

What do I do with this grain of truth?



I’m anxious today. Everything I try to accomplish takes so much time. I tried to mail four boxes for Rob this morning but, after spending a hour in “Mailboxes” and hearing the options and the price (over $600) and that they won’t insure several, I didn’t know whether to mail them or not so I didn’t and am still waiting to hear from Rob. (A sound mixer cannot leave his cell on during shooting.)

I began the day writing a story about “fun” and after several hours of serious work, I realized I was oxymoronic. Writing about fun is difficult even subversive. And I’m still without an ending.

My life is so rich at the moment that I’m having trouble finding time to think let alone write. I wish I weren’t a snail.

Yesterday, I went to my second Dialogue meeting. I felt as if I were living a dream. I have never been to a place where women AND men listen hard and speak their thoughts. I found it extraordinary that grown men spoke openly about being insecure, nervous, and hesitant. I have heard women do this but seldom men. This is such a shame. I found out that we are members of the same race. (I just had lunch with a woman friend who is undergoing chemo and yet every night, her husband tells her that she is stupid. Before cancer, she used to take it. Now she walks away.)

Why is there so little dialogue in our day to day lives? The group also spoke about listening. I mean really listening – not thinking one’s own thoughts while another is speaking and waiting to get a word in. I think I mentioned it before but I’ll repeat myself. One of the best definitions of love (or the one that appeals to me) is “rapt attention.”

Rob just called and I have to run out and mail those damn boxes. And so my life continues.



I erased yesterday’s blog.

I’ve had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach since yesterday. My complex? I’m feeling negative and I don’t like this. I reach for my poetry book for inspiration but I’ve come to the end. All seems bleak and then I realize I can start at the beginning again.
The first poem is “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver.

Marlene quoted a few lines from this poem last week when I was feeling down about Carolyn Heilbrun’s death:

“When its over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

I sigh too often. I am frightened too often. I hate this about myself. Rob said this morning that I sometimes say too much in this blog. But this is what I want. Yesterday I said too little. I edited myself to the point where I felt useless and boring. I hate doing this more than its opposite. I am not a subtle person. I am not unintelligent but I am simple. I speak the obvious. I write the obvious. Susan once told me that this is difficult to do well and I do it well. If you know Susan, you know that she is not generous with complements. What she says, she means.

So what am I to do with myself? I went down to the water this morning but it didn’t console me as it usually does. Perhaps it is too damn cold out. My fingers and feet were freezing. I shall have to invest in some cold-weather clothing. I’m told that it’s going to be a cold winter.

The Plum meeting yesterday was good, more than useful. We had each researched a literary journal or magazine and were able to discern each editor’s preferences. We agreed that literary journals tend to be slightly pompous. They publish works by writers who have a long line of credits. I pushed the idea of simultaneous submissions. Why should the lowly beginner have to wait up to six months (nine months to be read by “A Room of One’s Own) only to be refused. I think we should up our slim chances. If the journal or magazine in question doesn’t specifically say “no simultaneous submissions” I’m going to do it (I already have.) Vaughan mentioned that one writing teacher said that even if they say not to, the novice should submit to more than one publication. I have been a “good girl” long enough. We also spoke of writing contests. You have to pay up to $25 to submit and this can become costly. The chances of winning are also slim – and the decision is usually made by one published author who bases her or his choice on personal taste. Bah humbug. (I just noticed I had a new email and I opened it. It was from Kate and she says that she’s jaded too but doing something is better than doing nothing. I agree. I’ll keep entering these contests. I did get lucky last year.)

Wenda and Vaughan also brought some new work to the table for suggestions. Editing someone else’s work not only helps the writer but the editor. I always learn something about my own writing when I look at someone else’s. And it’s fun to brain storm. Sometimes we get downright silly but I love the craziness and the laughter and surprisingly, it also can be productive.

In the evening, Rob and I went to a masquerade party in Mission. I went as Anais Nin in a lace dress draped with velvet scarves borrowed from Marlene. I felt quite exotic. Oh and I also wore a pendant with a picture of the real Nin at my throat and carried “Under a Glass Jar”. Rob went as a devil with red cape and horns. (When we arrived at the house, I secretively pasted a sign on his back that read “horny devil”. So childish of me.) I knew no one and simply wandered with a wine glass in hand. No one asked who I was supposed to be. I talked little. But the house was quite spectacular. The wine and food were good and when I was offered a little paper cup with jello in, I accepted and swallowed one, two, three, only to find out later that they were vodka shooters. We only stayed a couple of hours and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. Don’t think I’m really party girl or woman material.

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