Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Archive for May 2009

Catcher Of Dreams

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prompt taken from :

Heartwood Tree, in a pool of tears and blood

I am in that place in my life where all my dreams have come and gone.  When I was a younger lass, I had so many dreams.  I wanted it all.  I would write my novels by day, while the children played happily at my feet.  My husband, loving and supportive, would come home from his work and give me a kiss on the cheek.  We would all sit down at the table to eat dinner together.  Nights were for family time.  Bathing the children, reading them stories to put them to sleep. Time to cuddle and snuggle with the husband in front of the tv, while I knit sweet things for the home and family.  Sleeping arm in arm beside the love of my life.

My dreams seem so small now.  I never wanted to be famous.  I just wanted to be loved.  I almost thought I had these things that I thought I wanted so badly not too long ago.  It was harder to let go of the dreams than it was to release the reality.

Here I am, in a new space, facing a new day, needing new dreams.  Now I am a single woman, with two children, sleeping with a dog beside me in the bed instead of a husband.  I have had my head down for too long, fighting just to stay afloat, much less trying to live, or have dreams, or even goals beyond the mortgage is paid and there is food on the table and the kids have clothes.

It is time for me to go out and seek new dreams.  Not just seek them out, but to catch them, hunt them down, capture them, drive them home into my heart, feed them, nurture them and make them grow.

It has been too long since I was able to stop and think about what I want, about where I want to go.  I have been living moment by moment, praying the future would be good once I got there, but that isn’t the way to go.  This isn’t what the Buddha meant by living in the moment.  You must live in the moment, but know the future is coming and be ready to absorb and experience it as well.  Living in the moment is not about letting go of your past, as it is what made you who you are.  It is not about letting go of the future, for that is what you shall be, who you shall become.  You must live in the present moment, ever mindful of the past and future and how they all coincide within the present moment.  I had lost sight of that.

When I was younger, before I turned ten and began to actually write, I had two dreams in my life.  What I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wanted to be a cowgirl and a veterinarian.  Well, after some interning at a local animal hospital, very temporary, I decided, no, cutting animals open and poking around in their insides was not something I could handle.  Let me take care of them before and after, but no knives and no needles for me.  I never really gave up the cowgirl idea, but we’ll come around to that in a bit, I suppose.

At about ten years of age, I started writing.  Poetry.  I was in a very religious phase then.  This is also when I set about researching every religion I could get my hands on.  When I turned against Catholicism for good.  I slowly came to realize that I wanted to write, as a career choice.  It was about this time the thought of becoming a teacher entered into my growing little brain.  Why not combine the two?  I always wanted to teach younger children, pre-school into kindergarten, sometimes even the first grade.  I loved children at that age.  I still do.

I never pursued it.  As I went through public school as a student, I watched how some teachers were treated, how some where reviled and how others were glorified.  If a teacher is not teaching and more than 80% of all her classes are failing, she should not be allowed to crow about tenure so she can keep her job—she should be fired outright.  Whereas a teacher with a genuine medical disability who misses school periodically but is successful in teaching and inspiring her students should not be dismissed due to her medical absences.  Add into the entire process of me not being taught anything new since about fifth or sixth grade….I had moved around so much that I had already been taught in earlier grades what the higher grades struggled with, leaving me cold and bored with the education process.  Which then caused me turn to my writing that much more.  There lay one dream down, heartlessly murdered by a bureaucratic system that simply did not care. I allowed that one to drown in its own blood, as I stepped over its corpse, hoping a new star would shine in my life.

Writing became my everything.  My passion.  My escape.  My release.  It is all I did, all I could do, other than read, and pray.

A new dream did surface, however strange it seemed.  I wanted to be a Priest.  Not just any old priest either.  I did not want a congregation, was not called to preach nor to enlighten.  I wanted to be a Jesuit monk.  I wanted access to the documents the Vatican hides from the light of public consumption.  I wanted to work to translate the ancient archaic documents.  I wanted to uncover the hidden secrets of the world’s religions’ ideals and ideas.  I wanted to see the Truth in black and white, not someone else’s translation or interpretation.  I wanted to Touch God through His Word drawn out on paper by His Chosen Men – and Women.

Alas, I have no penis.  So, no priesthood for me.  Another excellent aptitude for study tossed away because of the rules of the system.  I do not trust nuns, so becoming a nun was not a valid option for me.  I barely ever entertained that thought, it makes my stomach twist so.  It is a genetic flaw in me from my mother having been beaten so badly when she was younger and in convent school, or so I tell myself anyway. Not that she wasn’t beaten; she still bears the physical scars visible to this day where everyone can see them.   My mother nearly became a nun.  She was a very devout Catholic.  Then she met my dad and had me.  I never even knew I was technically a Catholic til I was a teen-ager.  No one ever told me.   I knew my mother had been Catholic, but that had never had anything to do with me.  I wasn’t raised with any specific religion.  All my religious training came from what I learned from others and what I taught myself from books, once I decided it would be a good thing to do, at about the age of ten or thereabouts.

Always a writer, that was a dream.  Not a dream, but a Dream, capital D.  I graduated high school and I ran away.  School left such a horrid taste in my mouth, I decided to forego college.  The original thought was for a year or two.  I always planned to go back to school, some sort of college, even if I got a liberal arts degree with a heavy literature and creative writing emphasis.  That, too, was not to be.

I met a man.  Someone to save me from me.  Someone to give me all my dreams with the touch of his hand, the sweetness of his kiss.  We married.  It was servitude.  It was all about his needs.  I lost myself.  My dreams centered around making him happy, keeping him satisfied and coming home.  Too late, I realized it wasn’t me who kept him from being happy.  Too late, I realized I was more than good enough for him, but he wasn’t at all good enough for me.

I did take writing classes here and there during the marriage.  I did other things as well, struggling while he told me on one hand to pursue whatever made me happy while on the other ridiculing me and cutting me down at every opportunity.  I gave up, in the end, because trying to make him happy was too large a job for me to have any other focus or ideal.

Push came to shove, I found myself, without surprise, legally separated, still involved with the husband on way too many levels, hopping into a rebound relationship which gave me nothing but trouble and a beautiful little girl.  The divorce was final and the husband and I were reconciling, moving back in together.  Nothing changed with him, but everything was changing with me.  This is not the life I wanted for my child.  I did not want her to grow to believe this was how things had to be, how lovers treated one another.

I went to massage school.  I found my own place.  I worked hard at first, until it dawned on me; this was not where I wanted to be.  Although it took only a couple weeks for me to realize that actual hands-on massage healing was not for me, I learned a great deal.  It did not endear the human population to me anymore than I was already endeared, which was not very much at all.  I did meet some incredible people though, some of whom I still speak to today, often.  Not to mention, one of the guest teachers ended up fathering my second child, my son.

I have regrets.  I have a ton of them.  The difference is, now, from where I am sitting, I wouldn’t change a single thing in my past.  If I did, I would not be where I am right this minute, and that would be a terrible shame to miss out on the things that are going on in my world right now.

I gave in to pressure and tried my best to create an actual family.  Too bad the father didn’t understand the concept of a true family; the poor man still doesn’t either.  There were no dreams there.  That man successfully killed everything I had had left to hold dear.  I didn’t struggle so much to realign myself with my dreams or my ideals, as I fought simply to hold on to today, just right here.  I couldn’t find a dream.  The best I could do was set up some goals.  He still did his best to create turmoil and cause me to fail.

I am stronger than that.  I am stronger than him.  I am better than him.   I am determined to win.  I had a one-year goal plan.  I made it all in two.  It may have taken me longer to get there, but I did get there, with bells on.

Here I am, again on a cusp.  I fought for my family.  Now it’s time to fight for myself.  That’s what I am doing.

I sift through the detritus that is my past, digging through the silt and the ash.  There is so much scar tissue.  Not all of it is healed.  Not everything is scabbed over yet.  There are many deep grievous wounds that still suppurate and bubble over.  Some from too long ago.  There is nothing really anymore that I can do, other than to treat them, and therefore myself, that much more gently.  I can apply the salves and the packs and the bandages, but sometimes healing takes a very long time and there is nothing else to be done other than waiting out the process.

Yet, I can hear them, buried, profoundly rooted, screaming and sobbing, begging me to find them, to unearth them, to let them breathe, let them live again, even for just one moment.  All my tools seem to have been lost along those myriad roads all these years.  I must get down on my hands and knees and claw my way through, probing into harsh unyielding tissue, grown rock-solid and diamond-hard, nearly impenetrable.  I have no fingernails to begin with, and now I am down to bloody stubs, shredding through using the flesh and bone of my fingers in my efforts to set my own precious self free.  However will I get a garden to grow in such inhospitable soil?  However will I manage to trench in far enough to allow my dreams to suck air, much less drag them kicking and screaming to the surface and to the light of day?

All of that makes no never-mind to me.  I have a job to do and I am a very focused creature once I set my mind in motion.  I am a daemon possessed as I listen to the pitiful cries and mews of those Dreams, those tiny hungry babies locked in the retreat of my mind.  I fight, fight for their life, fight for mine.

Maybe if you saw me you would be surprised.  I would not be, not at all.  I know my hair is wild and savage and flying all over the place as I shake and toss it angrily out of the way time and again.  I know my body is being racked with tremors that I cannot shake, puns be damned, sweat streaming off me in rivulets, staining my body and the ground surrounding me.  The ground itself swells and heaves, like a volcano attempting to shove its way up through the barrier of rock and stone and soil, as if it would jettison up the dreams if only it could simply to remove the arduous pain of my scratching and biting as I burrow in more and more.  Tears pour by the bucketsful from my eyes.  I am nearly blind from sweat and tears and the blood from my hands as I periodically reach to knuckle the tears away.  I feel as if I have stumbled into some hot briny caldron, so rises the wetness up too close to me.  I feel I am in the Giant’s big black kettle, being turned into wild woman soup.  Nothing stops me.  I may have to pause to make macaroni and cheese for my children, but I never give up on my dreams.  Not any more.  I will always return to dig up more until we are all set Free.

Eventually, after months of excavation, procrastination, remonstration, finally I have pulled a few dreams free from their mire.  They sure are not pretty.  They need a good scrub, some polishing, and lots of genuine love and encouragement.

Here, this little lump of green, all wadded up into itself, gone far more than fetal in position, this was my Dream of being a Writer, capital W.  This is my dream to be the Great Novelist, the Great Short Story Creatrix, the Ever-Musing Poet.  She needs a lot of special care, this little one.  So near to my heart is She.  My oldest, my most-beloved Dream, still struggling to be the Seed, to find the soil to set down in, to gather her forces and grow roots and sprout forth into an ever-amazing, ever-blooming wonderful Tree.

This, this smashed bit of ochre, this too was a Dream.  Something I had done long ago, but overlooked, forgotten, hadn’t really thought much about nor allowed much to rest upon its abilities.  It whispers in its sweet little voice to draw, to pick up the crayon, the pencil, to put it to paper and draw draw draw.  Let go of the fear and step ahead.  Paint and glue and collage and work into things far more gracious.  This little thing longs to be a huge towering Redwood Tree in my Forest.  Start small.  Start with the pencil.  Grand things shall from this tend.

Here is a small black piece, hard and soft, like a lump of West Virginia coal dug out of the humble walls of a basement to be thrown into the furnace to heat the entire house overhead.  This, this is my dream of, Healing.  I didn’t want to be a psychic.  I’m just good at it.  I wanted to Heal people, to help people Heal themselves, to Guide them in their journeys.  I don’t want to do massage work.  I want to do Energetic work, Soul Work, Shamanic work , Shifting Consciousness work.  I want to Counsel people, help them find what they are looking for, help them see what it is they truly seek and help them as they find their way.  This is me.  This is what makes me happy, what fulfills me.  Being the shoulder to cry on, patting the tears dry and giving them something of value to hold on to as they carry on, so they can support themselves along the way.  It is not me.  It is merely what they need for and of themselves expressed through me.

I had to force and plunder to reach this other one, so tiny had it become, charred and blackened, but some of the indigo almost visible through the cracking.  This one, this broken shattered whimpering thing was once my Dream of being a Teacher.  Someone who Guides and Inspires.  That is me too, part of my Healing work, part of my Destiny.  I have turned so far against the mainstream of things that work as a school teacher, in either a private or public arena, would simply not be adequate for me.  Not in this country.  This little gem, I keep turning around, redirecting, sanding, weaving, changing.  I have no desire to work in a school environment.  That part of the dream atrophied and died long ago.  I can work around the scar tissue.  I Dream of becoming a Waldorf-certified Teacher.  I do not plan to work in a school.  I definitely plan to home-school my children throughout their lives, just as I continue my own education every single day of my life.  I do plan to have children in my life, all my life, and wish to do what I can to offer them the nurturing and educational space they need to be truly great intellectuals and people.  Let this one sprout, bloom, and rival the sky with its heavenly scents and ideas.

Down at the end, I found an old shoebox, sun-stained, muddied, looking as if a herd of elephants had stampeded over it, more than once.  When I managed to loose it from the death-grip my mind-soil held upon it, it took far too much work to prise the lid off that box, so tightly squelched and abused was the whole thing.  That alone would not be enough to cause me to give up.  I nearly missed it, so nearly microscopic had it become.  This timid teensy little thing, shaking and choking on fear, cowering down in the darkest shadows in the furthest corner of the box from where I sat, peering in at it with trepidation in my eyes and soul.  I didn’t know what to do, what to make of it.  I reached in to save it, retrieve it, only to have the vile little beastie nip at me with viper sharp teeth.  It drew blood!  The fiend!

I called this one, long ago, the “Barbie Dream”.  You know Barbie. The doll.  ‘The bitch has everything.’ my mother used to tell me.  I did not play with Barbie growing up.  She was unseemly.  I had Charlie’s Angels dolls, and a doll called Darci, who was a model.  I loved them.  They were tough, independent and better than men.  Barbie was a sell-out.  The Barbie Dream is the house, the kids, the husband, the cars in the garage, the white picket fence, the well-behaved dog.  You know, the “perfect every-day family”.  Ozzie and Harriet.  Wally and the Beav’s parents.  Samantha and Darren in their utterly topsy-turvy yet oh-so-perfect world.  Where everything looked good.  Where families were devoted to one another.  The ‘perfect’ world.  The ‘perfect’ life.

This one scares me, more than all the rest put toghether.  The rest I know I can do, I can accomplish, I can achieve.  They all depend upon me, just me.  Even if I am never published, if no one ever buys one piece of art, even if I never have another child or come in contact with another child, even if all my clients desert me, they all depend upon me ultimately, all those Dreams.  This one, this Dream right here, depends on someone else as well.  A man, at that.

I trust the man, this man.  Finally, I have a good good man in my world and in my heart.  I do not trust ….that Dream.  Depending upon a man, even this man.  I do not trust that it won’t seem perfect at first before disintegrating into chaos and bedlam, leaving me lost and cold, hurt and angry, devesatated and all alone, struggling again.  I am afraid of this dream.  Afraid to take it up, cuddle it to my breast, succor it and cede it.  But I Want it.  Want it.  I want to be happy.  I want that family.  So, I would prefer a barb-wire fence to white picket, but a fence is a fence.  So, I want a much bigger house, because I want more children of my own, and guests and visitors and new-comers and friends to come and stay with us.  I want the marriage, the snuggling into someone in front of the fireplace while we each do our things, together.  I can knit.  He can read.  Someone who supports me, the way I support him.  I am not asking for perfection.  I am not expecting a rose-garden, except maybe I do.  I expect there to be thorns, trials and tribulations along the way, but over-all I anticipate the beauty of our love and friendship and connection to win out.  This is my Dream.  Not of a perfect life.  But, of a Good Life, a solid honest open communicative Life.  With a close-knit solid family to be the backbone and support system for all of us, children and grand-children too.  Where we are safe in our home without worrying about the ills of the world blowing our way.  Where we stand together and brave all perils, trusting in one another’s arms and embraces.

That is my Dream.  It may take this one a lot longer to grow.  This one will need a lot more tending and care, a lot more fertilizing and weeding and sorting through.  Yet, it is my Dream and it will come True.  I know.  I believe.

Here are all my dreams caught in the web of my own design.  Here is my little garden that I grow inside my heart.  Here is me finally accepting that the past is done and new things can come in now.

That is the best thing of all.

written by Tabitha K

Written by Tabitha Low

May 30, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Wild Thing

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I have been in my boudoir, reading and generally lolling about, choosing to reflect and delve into that shadowy world behing the mask.

I confess I had to smile when the Wild Thing met my gaze as I looked in the mirror.

Mirror mirror on the wall
Who is the wildest thing of all?

It is a bit hard to treat this wild thing too seriously.
Actually, it feels like one of my gentler complexes has come out to play.

Heather Blakey – Trains of Thought May 30 2009
Ceremony of the Mirror

Written by Heather Blakey

May 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Miscellaneous

Tagged with

Repost from 2006

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Here is my very first post at the Soul Food Cafe, on April 11, 2006

On the Nature of War:  A Garden Meditation

A temple bell sings at dawn
clear and resonant
in the key of G,
a silver-tipped psalm in the night.

A tribe of birds clamor,
erupting from a thicket,
cawing hateful protests against
their awakening to the world.

The faithful wait
to pray, to shut out the darkness,

to close their ears to their cries,
to offer incense for peace.

A temple bell sings at dawn
rising above the swirling mists.
A caretaker opens wide the gate and nods,
knowing the key of G can never change.


Poem and Image:  L Gloyd © April 2006.

Korean Friendship Bell, Angel’s Gate Park, San Pedro, California

Written by Pelican1

May 30, 2009 at 4:55 am

Old Things

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The Solomon Islands has an indigenous population with a 25,000-year-old history. Tribal wars raged well into the 1900s. Cannibalism was practiced within living memory. The people here are of ancient bloodlines. The stone-age existence of these islands was changed or penetrated by WWII. Less than 70 years ago.

old things

These are picts of artifacts that were made by stone-aged people for ritualistic purposes. Carved from petrified clamshell with stone-age tools… quite a feat. I have cut petrified clamshell with diamond saws… it is an incredibly hard substance. How they would have worked to cut these pieces! I also like the fact that a lifetime of attention was required to make anything large or ornate.

Old things… very cool…

And, possibly, containing lessons for us of the “modern” world?

Written by nativeiowan

May 29, 2009 at 3:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

When Grandma Played the Piano

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“Mother, this is Esther. She’s my daughter and she’s 8.”

“Lovely child. Esther–that’s my name too.”

“That’s right. We named her after you.”

“After me? How lovely.” Esther the elder, my grandmother, sipped her tea, her cup softly rattling against the saucer in her shaky grip. She looked at us with an impish smile. “And who is this lovely child, June?” Grandma asked my mother, pointing her gnarled finger at me.

“That’s Esther, my daughter. She’s 8,” mum said, without a trace of impatience.

“Esther–that’s my name,” she replied with pleasure. She smiled at me again.

I smiled at her, then sighed. Grandma was tiny and bent with papery, spotted skin and kind, watery eyes nestled deep in her wrinkled face. On our visits to the nursing home, we rarely got beyond my name and the endless intrigue it seemed to cause when she realised we both had the same name. I knew she would have this revelation another dozen times before we said our good-byes.

About a decade earlier, she’d suffered a massive stroke that wiped out her memory. Ever since, she has not been able to store new information or retrieve most of her memories. The present was fleeting to her, like water spiraling down a drain. The past was murky and evasive. She rarely finished sentences because she’d forget what she had intended to say. To most people, this was exasperating, but I did not have any expectations of how she should be, since I’d only known her this way: an old woman who was endlessly fascinated with my name.

“Get Grandma another biscuit, Sweetie,” mum prompted. She knew an 8-year-old would get fidgety quickly. I took my cue and darted over to the trolley that served the elderly residents their afternoon tea. I picked out an orange cream biscuit for me and a gingersnap for her, because I knew Grandma liked them best.

“Here you go, Grandma. A gingersnap, your favourite,” I said as I handed her the biscuit.

“Thank you, dear.” Then, looking at my mother, ” Who’s this sweet little thing?”

“That’s Esther, my daughter. She’s eight,” Mum said, on autopilot.

“Isn’t she precious? And we have the same name.” Smiling again.

A nurse walked over and bent down to my grandmother’s eye level. “Esther, would you like to play the piano for us?”

“The piano? Do you have a piano in this place?” She looked around incredulously.

After the crocheted lap blankets were removed, Esther the elder was gently hoisted up out of her recliner and led to the piano. Her slippered feet shuffled slowly across the linoleum floor, making a shoosh-shoosh sound. “Shoosh! Shoosh!,” Eunice, a spritely dementia patient, echoed the noise of the slippers and waved her hands ecstatically. Her dentures shifted in her jowls and she called out in her croaky voice, “Play us a tune Esther, something saucy!”

Grandma smiled benevolently at Eunice as she sat on the piano bench. Her shaky fingers settled on the keys and she cleared her throat. The chatter in the residents’ lounge died down, as if a conductor had raised his baton. Even the loquacious Eunice quieted, though her hands still waved about like an itchy octopus. I leaned up against my mother and dared not breathe as we waited for the magic to happen.

Esther the elder ran her fingers nimbly up the keys. “This was Earl’s favourite song,” she said to her audience, like a seasoned performer. And she began to play a beautiful melody, “September Song.” Earl was my grandfather. He had died  two-years before Grandma’s stroke. The song was dramatic, swelling and fading. Esther was immersed in the music, lost in the moment, yet very much alive and well. Even I, a child of eight, could sense her love and longing for Earl and discern her discouragement with her present predicament. With every fibre of my being, I sat engaged in the music, finally able to know and understand Grandma Esther and hear her heart.

 At the keyboard Grandma transformed from a bent and fragile woman with no memory of the past nor ability to engage with the present into a vibrant musician. She played complex pieces of many genres, segueing seamlessly from one beautiful piece to another. More miraculously, she could converse while playing. She could finish sentences. She could make connections and store information. It was as if contact with the keys were some sort of magical conduit to sanity, to memory, to functionality.

My mum would sit and listen to her mother’s music, tapping her foot, smiling and transported by Grandma’s melodies to another happier time. Sometimes out of the corner of my eye, I’d glimpse a quiver of lips and a solitary tear run down Mum’s cheek… while Grandma played the piano.

When the songs came to an end and the meagre applause of the aged died down, Esther slowly stood up, puffed from the exertion. Her spirit instantly retreated and her memory disintegrated. The disengaged, ravaged shell of my grandmother was all that remained.

We hugged her gently as we made our way out and she patted my hand and said, “Who is this?”

Written by Ali Stegert

May 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Wild Hunt

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(A memory from the Chocolate Box)

The recent storms brought back memories of my childhood in Ireland, when I was told that the thunder and lightning were made by the Wild Hunt. To me, there was nothing more exciting or terrifying than to imagine the black horses and their dark riders loose on a stormy night.

The Wild Hunt

On stormy nights, when the Wild Hunt Rides,
And there is no balm that soothes,
I watch the sky for the flash of their swords
And the thunder of their hooves.

Their horses black as the leaden clouds
Buck and charge the sky.
The mountains shake as they raise their heads
And echo a warrior’s cry.

What prey do they seek on these stormy nights,
What leaves the scent of blood?
What cowers in fear before the Ride
That comes in a raging flood?

It is man that they hunt through the dark of night.
It is we that cower and pray.
Yet, how the heart leaps at their warrior cries
As they thunder on their way.

On stormy nights, when the Wild Hunt rides,
There is no balm that soothes.
But we watch the sky for the flash of their swords
And the thunder of their hooves.


Written by Gail Kavanagh

May 28, 2009 at 8:49 am

Keep on Riding Horseback

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For Heather and others in the soulfood writing networks.

Keep on riding bareback until you are free
through the wilderness
all around you and me.

Keep on riding bareback until you can write
and writing is no longer
a fight or your only light.

Keep on riding bareback until you reach the sea
and see the journey was your liberty.

Keep on riding bareback through your first draft
realise when it’s time to polish your craft.

Keep on riding bareback like those of the past
like those of the future,
like those of the present
you won’t be the last…

(c) June Perkins

painting a sunny day

This was posted elsewhere in the Soul Food network of blogs, maybe the Rose and Swan Theatre.

More of my work can be found at

(c) June Perkins, words and images.

Written by June

May 28, 2009 at 1:31 am

Posted in Gumbootspearlz