Gathering

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(or listen here)

It has been a long time, my friends. A long time since a regular gathering. We used to host a lot at our home because of the generous garden lawn yard wood area we were lucky to become caretakers for. It’s the empirical “we” now of course. Back in the sweet baby times, we had people over regularly – potlucks and such plus hosting a little in-house concert here and there.

Then everything changed (you know).

Friends still popped in to check on us. The brave ones who understood we might need to leave in a moment’s notice. I don’t know how they stomached it, but they did and I am eternally grateful to my real life guardian angels!

Then everything changed again (MotherHerisme).

Friends were less able to visit as things were very uncomfortable with MotherHerisme’s decline and addition of her two unsocialized dogs.

Then everything changed again again (COVID).

At my back gate, friends gathered things like the masks or food I made for them, and left things like treats, cards, and helpful groceries, all waving through windows. Friends stopped in to visit out on the deck a handful of times.

And now things are changing again (GET THE VACCINES, y’all, and come over red rover!).

Years ago I wrote a requested piece about gathering. It was intended for a project which never come to fruition, so I will share it with you now (if you’d like). Some of this may sound familiar to you and especially to you 😉

Coven Summons/ Gathering of the Coven/Love Notes to the Gathering Coven

Why do we gather?  We gather for a need to connect.  Spiritual, informative, accidental, intentional, mutually beneficial, one-sided lead or received, humans gather by instinct.  The need to connect is as important to our survival as the other Maslow defined basic needs (food, shelter, clothing).  The specific gathering of women with purpose has its own unique historical moniker – a coven.  

Oftentimes it is not clear if you have summoned a coven, or if they have summoned you.  But it always clear when a coven has been summoned.  And once summoned, they will arrive.

There is the Inveterate Optimist, with her classical profile and porcelain skin.  She flows headily and steadily, never overly rushed or too slowly, full of deep bold richness, intelligence, and wisdom with definite undertones (pouring into overtones, never monotones) of giggling wit.  She is the finest of eternal smooth wines which never spoil even with limitless uncorkings. 

The Gleeful Striking Red-Haired Beauty, tumbling over with energetic fun.  Her eyes swim, flooded in spirit-filled sparkles and lively joy, which then crescendos and spills through her soul landing sweet soothing music onto all around her.  She magically soothes even the roughest of moments into smooth soul-shines.

The Earth Mother-in-Training, -in-Learning, -in-Exploring, -in-Experiencing.  In all her abundant curiosity, wrapped in fringed laced compassion and flower adorned boots.  She is tolerantly pleased fullness sprinkled with liberal acceptance on many fronts.  She turnips the beet.

The Commanding Brunette, orchestrating lives, rivaling the most famous conductors and composers.  She feels the essence vibrations of those who exist in her presence, which call out and project an all-encompassing vigor from her soul.  She shows up at the most difficult moments with her own popcorn pot and supplies at the ready.  She instinctively protects without inhibition.  

The Centering Pivot, a powerful healer of communities and individuals through physical and spiritual connectedness.  Her soft glowing curls and gentle inclusiveness spread validating joy like a million gentle rainbow-filled dewdrops on bountiful lavish lilac blooms, every day. She sees everything with and beyond the eye, then reflects truth whether difficult or elevating.

The Artist, mixing quantities of chaos into beauty and societal commentary.  Her prolific layering reveals unique constantly changing depths.  She has an eye for revealing the beauty and secrets of contemplative sadnesses.  She allows freedom through creative acceptance.  

The Dedicated Spiritual Vegan, organizes, researches, schedules, plans, lists, cleans, and is constantly vigilant about being organized, true to self, precise and neat.  Her disciplined, tirelessly researched approach, out logics all others.  She encourages truth exploration.

The Muse (ician) a heavenly vision, by ear and by eye.  She is able to pull soul soothing magic out of her instrument and have you feel as if its dulcet wave vibrations were brought forth just for you in that moment of stopped time.  Her belief in the divineness of souls dictates her movements.  She is an inspirer of mindful musical dreams.

The un-Manic Pixie spreads thoughtful dedicated glittery fun wherever she goes.  She is small in stature, but larger than any mountain in purpose.  Her multilingual multicultural multitasking manner instantly charms.  She is a shimmery bubbly example of life-enjoyment. 

The Pianist Preacher uses her artful words and lifestyle to gently, but firmly, coax everyone’s butterfly out of their chrysalis/cocoon/caterpillar/sticky-egg forms.  Her hearth is warmed with enough generous spirit, that she is able to nurture cocoons into existence for you.  She is a mighty leader of growth paths.

The Realist Sage Grandmother has a sturdy presence and a rocking chair surrounded by her gatherings of wisdom, love, support, and toys based on her consideration of the unique soul presenting itself to her.  Her attic room is full of inviting mysteries and fun.  She is accepting, forgiving, guiding and present.

The Receivers open their eyes, ears, minds, hearts, and souls to the most awful of revelations, without harsh judgement or problem-solving instruction.  One might open you to aromatics, another to black garlic and walking, and a third to somatic experiences for healing.  They are comfort experts at witnessing soul pains, at holding space for grief, at making space for acceptance and recovery, over and over and over again.

The Mercenary Athena with perfect posture, stands proudly, head above the crowd.  She is always calculating every possible front, vulnerability, and potential moves on the massive chessboard of life.  She knows the game and strategies better than anyone else because she works hard at her practice.  She has the wisdom of experience and the strength of intelligence.

The Columbian, the Russian and the Nurse are steadfast in their natures.  They know exactly who they are, what they bring to the coven and their own sense of how and when to share their gifts and insights.  They are passionate truth live-ers.  They are passionate truth tellers.  They are a team of mutually uplifting dependable reciprocal support.

The Teacher is also steadfast in her nature, knows herself well, and is a passionate truth live-er and truth tell-er.  She differs from the previous group in that she leans more toward self-reliance in being uplifted and supported.  She depends on her own strengths and knowledge, energizing others to do the same.

The Live-Out-Louders with their effervescent souls bubbling out of their eyes. They laugh louder, curse bolder, uninhibitedly consume in their Bacchus-ness. They emit energy forces wherever they go, casually dropping bits of zesty sparks for others to gather and use.  They have enthusiasm and ideas to spare.

The Scientist drifts in and out depending on the intensity and interest of current study.  She anticipates, hypothesizes, and acts accordingly, primarily without expectation (except for expectations of self), driven by curiosity of results.  She is able to see things from angles others are blind to.  

The Militant Montessorian uncompromisingly shows up every single day to certify that her vision for development, growth, and knowledge are implemented without restraint.  She is reliably constant in her approach, rendering resistance occasionally satisfyingly futile. 

The Inspirer instigates and does things that others only dream about doing.  She is open and generous with her ideas and deep interest encouragement of others.  She has a free spirit which is always open and up for adventure.

The Serendipitous Tasker arrives only in those rare moments when planets, stars and entire galaxies align in singular perfect order.  She is by far, the most hard-working, efficient, independent, self-initiating and focused.  Laundry will be absolutely done to perfection, meals will be cooked, dishes cleaned, tires rotated, papers shredded, complicated puzzled completed, gardens weeded, sled runs sledded.  She works stealthily until every known and unknown task is truly utterly complete.

The Real Mothers are complicated.  They exude myopic power, are fiercely protective, yet limited by their own self-absorbed encouragement.  They have infinite love for their own which sometimes leaves no compassion or love for others.  They are the keepers of our histories and our futures, with a warm meal waiting.

The Mirrors spend their time reflecting the least attractive and most disappointing qualities in ourselves. Sometimes a mirror reflects so much more than we want to see.  We don’t always like being around them and they don’t always like being around us.  They are necessary parts of the coven for their reflective role.  Just as we are necessary mirrors in other covens as we, in all our humanness, inevitably reflect the same onto others.

The Men.  Some men are important in the coven, not as members, but as supporters of the gatherings.  These men are working hard to put things in order for the coven.  They are the fitters of partA into partB with toolXYZ.  They are the forager supporters of undiscovered paths.  They are the one solution to one problem and done-ers.  They are the holders of things, the vulnerable strength behind the determined strength.  They are the models of inherent unquestionable self-worth and unwavering self-determined boundaries. They fortify the coven to experimentally mold, artfully shape, and to use their covenly transformative powers to whatever end their summons asks of them.

Mr. SonHerisme, sweetly innocently sleeping next to me will one day weave through, around, deeply entrenched and wholeheartedly critically supportive of different coven gatherings, all on his own.  It is his burden and his supreme privilege.  

These women, these people, and so many more in the larger outlying concentric rings of my coven, keep me alive, have kept me alive in my most trying traumatic times.  My own coven called itself forth and rose into action long before I understood what tsunamis had spun into my world. Many lifetimes of “thank you,” would still be lacking in expression of my gratitude.  I soulfully reach out to and embrace each of you with a universe of love and support on your life paths xoxo

Thank you for reading/listening and all of that. I appreciate you.

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

Virtutem Forma Decorat aka Audrey Hepburn: Rise of the No

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Hey y’all

Howsit goin’?

Whatcha doin’?

 

Our sweet summertime is in full swing.  We are on the other side of the slope, plowing towards school resuming in September.  Summer is busy around here: tennis, swimming, karate, math tutoring, outdoor adventure play, day camps (fishing, hiking, singing, more swimming etc), local day-trip fun times, video games, museums, trampolining, cooking, cleaning, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (nod to Mr. King-of-Siam).

 

We also had FatherHerisme and Niece2Herisme join us for about 6 weeks. Niece1Herisme lives locally, so is in and out as often as her family + teenagerness allows.

 

Anywho, it’s been a bit chaotic and busy around these parts.  Which feels like a lovely blessing and overwhelming at the same time.  Of course, I continue to care for MotherHerisme.  She will remain with SonHerisme and myself, along with her two sweet fluffy mini-doggies, for the time being in order to maintain her treatment plan through the coven at Georgetown Hospital.  Pyoderma – do NOT Google this.  You have been warned, and on your own if you ignore this warning.  To sum up:  it is extremely painful, extremely visually dramatic, and requires a ton of painkillers plus steroids plus exact bandage change protocol (enter me).  These past two years have been a lot for MotherHerisme to deal with.  Please send healing wishes, good juju and prayers, as you are able. Thank you.

 

Niece2Herisme decided to throw a surprise birthday party for me this summer.  It was a milestone birthday (sort of) and she loves me so much that she wanted to mark it in a special way.  She is a very sweet young lady and has a big generous heart!  I am so lucky to know her!  Alas, she was missing adult guidance, so much of it did not work out as she imagined (ex: The cake pictured above was ordered by me once I learned that my allergies prevented me from eating all of the food being ordered, including the cake). My heart broke for her.  It was a learning experience, and I hope that I conveyed how much I appreciate and love her through all of this hard growing up and learning stuff.

 

All of the everything, plus having time passed since we had our lives ripped apart, plus hitting a hard birthday, plus my life in general equals the Rise of the No.

 

No to breaking my appropriate boundaries

No to sugar coating or plain lying about what is happening in my life

No to denying the gravity of what has occurred in our lives

No to treating SonHerisme or me as if we are an inconvenience

No to being disrespectful to our space without acknowledgement

No to passively accepting bad or inappropriate behavior

 

No

 

I love Audrey Hepburn.  I am a huge fan of her work, both as a celebrity actor and as a humanitarian.  I love her so very much, that a very special and dear life-long friend of mine, whom I also love, love, love, once sent me a beautiful print of an Audrey Hepburn quote:

 “I believe in pink.  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.

I believe in kissing. Kissing a lot.

I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.

I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.

I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

I had this print framed and hanging on my bedroom wall for years.  I loved seeing it.  I loved reading it.  I loved it when my son could read it for the first time on his own.  This past week, I took it down and I doubt that I will ever re-hang it.

 

As I looked at the print when I went to bed, it began to depress me.

Pink is still a-okay by me, as is laughing.

Kissing is seriously depressingly lacking and unlikely to return to my life.

Being strong is an illusion.  Those of us battling whatever battles, battle them to survive or to give our children survival skills – it’s not strength, it’s instinctual self-preservation that drives us.

Happy girls are whatevs.  Great if you are one, also a-okay if you’re not.  Being human and giving your soul space to spread love and goodness is much more important and vital than being happy.

Also, tomorrow IS another day (duh).

Miracles happen everywhere every day.  The very essence of life is a miracle.  I’m not sure how profound miracles are by their existence.  It is in the recognition of the miracle that the profoundness is released.

Obvs I am now old.

Grieving dreams, hopes and aspirations that can no longer be.

One of SonHerisme and my favorite things to do is to hop down to the city and visit some of our favorite artwork.  The only displayed Da Vinci in the USA is in our city: Ginevra de’Benci.  On the reverse of her portrait is another painting by Da Vinci with a secret message “Virtutem Forma Decorat,” “Virtue Adorns Beauty.”  Beauty is found in the things we do, rather than in our face or how our bodies look/behave.  Beauty is as beauty does, so to speak (if you’re from Georgia, South Carolina or Alabama, I’m sure that this is a familiar mantra).  I am not a pillar of virtue, but I do try to be a good role model for SonHerisme and his cousins as well as our broader community.  Not typically in bold overt ways, but in my own quiet patterns and whispers.  I’m an okay-ish-with-my-own-virtue kind of person.  And as for my outside beauty – the virtue does not adorn it. I’ll acknowledge that I am not hideous, mostly (Cartman!).  However I am not a person for whom people feel the need to take more than a glance, much less a second look.  Being an introvert, this is sort of a relief.  At my age I have most definitely stepped into the invisible phase. I don’t have the energy to explore being more virtuous – unless honoring instinctive self-preservation is a virtue (?).  Ack!  Too much pressure and fack beauty anyway.  If you’re not genetically blessed, recognized by someone as such, or overt about your beauty, you end up invisible no matter how virtuous you proclaim or demonstrate yourself to be. I chalk this Da Vinci verso addition up to platituding for profit.

From the time I was very young, being invisible was imperative and worked towards my own self-preservation.  Examples to follow in future post.  My point is that, for now, I am focused on using my emotional boundaries as self-preservation rather than physical boundaries.  This is a difficult shift for me.  It is near impossible for me to even recognize my emotions, much less respond to my emotions by setting appropriate boundaries.

Rethinking how I physically present myself into the world is a piece of this as well.  Don’t look for me to suddenly adorn myself with glitter, eyeshadow or gregarious clothes…  Think more about how I carry myself, wearing sneakers and COSTCO skirts everyday (I know, I KNOW), the language I use, voicing what needs voiced, making eye contact (ugh), etc.

Please do not refer to this as, “baby steps.” This is superdy NOT helpful to someone like me. Condescending and patronizing. When babies learn to take steps, they have someone, and oftentimes multiple someones, enthusiastically cheering them on.  Clapping and, “ohh, ahh” ing over every movement.  When they stumble tumble, large comforting gentle loving hands are there to pick them up, warmly cuddle them, kiss their boo-boos away and reassure them that they are going to be okay.  As a single parent working from home, the adult equivalent of this level of security and support is just not available to me.  I do have lovely friends, who step in and out when able (THANK YOU) – ps they have their own struggles and lives.  The bulk of the comfort I am able to receive has to be self-generated.  Honestly, most days I am unable to muster it for myself.  Then, you know, instinctual self-preservation kicks in: SonHerisme needs support, MotherHerisme needs support, tiny doggies need support, and so goes my day.  I am taking steps – that’s all.  Sometimes tiny, sometimes (hopefully in a healthy manner) bigger, or medium-ish, or just slightly over tiny.  No “baby steps.”

To sum up:

I am saying, “no, thank you,” much more often.

Audrey Hepburn was still an amazing humanitarian and expressed her immersion into a healthy loving supportive environment through her words and works (I am in a different place).

Da Vinci remains an intriguing talented enigma.

No baby steps.

I love that you read all of this, even if you believe that I am wacky.

 

Love, Ms Herisme xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of the Coven (aka, I am probably a racist)

The Georgetown Coven convened once again to give us some insight into my mother’s lingering life altering health issue. We heeded their summons, received their powerful collective wisdom, and are proceeding thusly, tout suite! It must be so, as we met directly across from the French Embassy.  Être au taquet *fingers crossed*

The procedure in the Georgetown Wound Care Center include a nurse escorting you to an exam room, taking vitals, and preparing you for the Doctor’s consultation.  On this day, a young(ish) man in hospital scrubs escorted my mother to the exam room, introduced himself (L-loyd, shout out Lego Ninjago fans), accompanied by another young(ish) man in business attire.  The businessy man did not immediately introduce himself.

Once the door to my mother’ exam room was closed, I immediately felt a general sense of unease.  Two men.  One silent.  Door shut.  Once Lloyd removed my mother’s bandage and took her vitals, the business man introduced himself as the manager of the wound care unit, explaining that he was conducting employee observations.  He reached to shake my hand, and as I was shaking his hand I heard this bizarre-o giggle burble out of myself, and I said, “yeah, you weren’t creepy at all,” before I could stop myself.  Except he was creepy until that moment. We both smiled.  Then both men left while we waited for our trusted Dr Ladies to arrive.

In those quiet moments (my mother was engaged with solitaire on her phone, attempting to control her own anxiety about her medical experiences), I was having an internal discussion about what was it that was making me so uneasy with those two men.

Was is because one of them was super silent?

Georgetown is a teaching hospital, so we have many silent residents and medical students coming in and out of various appointments and treatments.  I do not recall being uneasy with their presence.

Oh, did I forget to mention that both men have darker skin than mine?  No?  Why does that matter anyway?  Am I some kind of racist or something?  The underbelly of racism is fear.  I felt an unwarranted fear in the closed presence of these men that I was not feeling in the closed presence of others (including men).  I am pretty sure that I had a moment of ingrained racism there.

I deeply apologize, gentlemen.

On the recommendation of a friend, I began following a hilFREAKINarious mommy poster @HonestToddler on Twitter (and @LozFelizDaycare!).  As our societal/political leadership climate changed in the good ol’ USofA, @HonestToddler changed her tweeting focus up to include societal issues broader than wacky child/family/mommy dynamics (still locally sourced, sustainably harvested and organic, though, like, seriously).  @HonestToddler introduced me to @rgay, who in turn introduced me to @IjemaOluo (and others in this 7 degrees of fascinating).

Don’t get too excited about my tweet game, I still follow @carrieffisher…  *sigh* and saddnesses. May the Force be with you and also with you. Lift up your hearts, we lift them up to the … anywho, you see what I mean.

Consequently, I have been immersed into a whole new lot of things that otherwise would not have hit my reading radar.

Which brings me right back ‘round, baby, right ‘round like a record, baby, right ‘round ‘round ‘round to our incident with the Georgetown Coven.  Obvs I’m a middle class light-skinned lady person of a certain age.

 

I am reading this:  So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

 

I want to know more and different things so that I can do more and different things.  One take-away so far is that I am not in a position of defining what is and what is not racist for someone experiencing racism.

 

How about you?

 

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

ps. Liam Neeson left *sigh* and *heartbreak*

Where Liam Neeson Guides Me to a Medical Coven in Georgetown

I spent two consecutive days in the car with Liam Neeson driving from central Maryland into the Georgetown area of D.C.

I mean to say, I went to Georgetown on a Tuesday and again on a Wednesday, with Liam Neeson as my spirit guide.

Okay!  He was my Waze guide.  Liam Neeson’s voice was my Waze voice choice.  And I would (will) do it again, dagnabit.

 

On the second day of going into Georgetown with Liam Neeson (Wazed Liam Neeson), I had been scheduled to sit for a friend of mine.  The kind of sit where one poses and stays still while she paints.  I’m not much to look at, but she wants to practice with her new fancy colors and such.  Before you ask or even think it, no, this is not for a nude study.

 

Our (embellished) text conversation of me cancelling on her:

Me:  I have to be in Georgetown again tomorrow – just found today.  Sorry :,(  I’ll be gone from 8:45am-2pm ish

She:  Tis Alright I have to go grocery shopping anyway L.  What is happening in Annapolis?

Me:  People are greedy and hungry for power in Annapolis, plus pretty boats.  I suspect there are altruistic people in Annapolis too.  In Georgetown, I am desperately seeking medical help to heal my mother’s wound.  Also, I found out today that Georgetown has a valet parking guy named, “DJ,” and he would appreciate it if I asked for him by name next time.

She:  Oh.

 

*prolonged silence*

 

She:  I don’t know why I said Annapolis.  It is near the water and East of me, I guess.

Me:  Also (note to self, I use “also,” toooooooo much), there is a GIANT school in Georgetown named St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, which appears to be very snooty exclusive and such.  Waze Liam Neeson was taunting me by forcing me to drive past it.  It seems that Mr. Neeson is an economic snob, but I can’t stop listening to his voice!  He is as baffled as I am at the amount of commuters in this city.  He also encourages me to go into stealth mode, which I have decided will be my new speciality.  I never knew how much I like Liam Neeson.  I like him very much.  We seem to have a lot in common.  He cracks me the heck up, like Cracker Barrel.

She:  WTH are you talking about?  Are you drunk or high?  DJ?  Does he park cars and heal wounds?

Me:  Lol  No.  However, DJ does have an awesome neon yellow stocking cap.  I believe I shall use his name the next time I see him!

She:  You had me so perplexed and I had shots from this weird movie I was imagining…  you lead, of course, solving some mysterious ailment that your mother contracted by being a spy or an alien.

Me:  Sorrys!  My mind is fluid, yet highly viscous, muck.

She:  Through complicated research, hoop jumping, and dangerous investigations, you are led to DJ and his Georgetown parking garage, which doubles as a secret hat workshop.  The hats are made from unidentifiable fibers.  You are not sure if DJ is a double agent (played by Liam Neeson).

Me:  YES!  You get me!  Also, Liam Neeson.

 

Aaaaand scene

 

Anywho, Waze Liam Neeson has now successfully guided us into, and back out of, Georgetown, twice.  I forgive him for the twists and turns in Glen Echo/Palisades, and also the Clara Barton Parkway.  The middle lane on Clara Barton switches direction depending on the time of day and it freaks me out that I am going to end up in a head-on collision.  I much prefer the GW Parkway on the other side of the Potomac, and then cross over the bridge when needed.  Alas, then I’d miss passing the German and French embassies (güten tag, bonjour!).  Waze Liam Neeson used his soothing voice and encouraged me to be in stealth mode for much of the Clara Barton, and in the passing of the embassies, which was immensely gallant and helpful.

 

Once in Georgetown, we met with a team of Doctors over a 2-day period.  They each brought a fresh perspective and interest in my mother’s ailment.  New tests have been ordered.  Thusly, we have started my mother on a new path for healing (huzzah!).  My mother felt validated in her concerns, heard and attended.  Upon leaving on the second day, we both realized that every Doctor we met with was a woman.  We now have a Medical Coven in Georgetown!  MCG – Medical Coven in Georgetown.  Get down with MCG, yeah you know me!

 

This concludes how Liam Neeson lead me to a medical coven in Georgetown.  Thank you for being my spirit guide, Liam Neeson.  Until next time… stealth mode activated 😉

 

apologies – I am mostly quite overwhelmed and a bit sad. writing is difficult for me.  Except for today, because, Liam Neeson!