Monday, October 31, 2011

Health Tips from the Crypt

The first time I was ever in Paris, many years ago, I was researching for my first novel, Owl Woman, which is set in that delightful city. Why a California woman would write an entire novel set in a city she had never visited is a mystery. An even greater mystery is that I knew my way around, from the moment my feet hit the pavement. Sans map or guide, I walked miles and miles, happily reacquainting myself with a place where I had never before been. I was only brought up short once, when the Beaubourg, all glass, metal and exposed duct work, suddenly manifested amidst the antique streets of the Marais. I stopped in amazement and exclaimed aloud, “What the hell is that doing here?”

Had I lived in Paris in another, pre-Centre Pompidou, time? The Paris I had described through pure imagination in Owl Woman turned out to be exact, in all respects. This odd circumstance was bolstered by my several visits to Père Lachaise Cemetery. The sense of familiarity was so haunting (if you’ll excuse the pun) as to be uncanny. I drifted along the winding streets of that strange city of the dead like a sojourner returning after a long absence. Was it possible that the former me was buried there, a minor player among major names of French culture like Frédéric Chopin, Georges Bizet, Colette and Honoré de Balzac?

One visit coincided with All Souls’ Day, November 1st. The streets of the cemetery were crisp underfoot with yellow chestnut leaves and, all along the way, families were gathered, cleaning the graves and headstones, and sharing food and remembrance.

 I wound my way to my favorite spot, Chopin’s monument, drawn by the poignant notes of one of his Nocturnes that floated on the chilly air. I was amazed to find a large group of people holding vigil there, silent except for the immortal music flowing from a small tape deck. Candles by the dozens blazed atop the monument and flowers were heaped about its base. In recognition of Chopin’s Eastern European roots, many of those gathered held home-made signs in support of Lech Walesca’s Polish Solidarity movement, in which a full one third of the Polish people were then involved. The mood was deeply somber and reverential.

What, I wondered, would Chopin tell us, if he could speak from that other dimension he now inhabited? Perhaps, I considered, those silent watchers were his voice, reverencing music and the anti-bureaucratic, anti-Communist, pro-worker stance of the courageous Poles. And what would singer Édith Piaf want to tell us, or surrealist poet Paul Éluard, or jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, or the playwright Molière—all denizens of that quiet city?

It seemed to me that all would say their lives had been too short; that their creative verve had been snuffed out too soon. And why would that be so? What combination of influences -- social, financial, medical and self-inflicted -- was the witch’s brew that took them down?

Certainly Jim Morrison, interred at age 27 after a heroin overdose, and Oscar Wilde, who, worn out by dissipation and imprisonment, died early, might have some cautionary tales about the toll taken by living too many steps over the line of convention. Chopin, who suffered from chronic poor health and died at 39, might want to comment on the cost of creative genius to the nervous system. Édith Piaf, whose early life was one of impoverishment and neglect, might lament an economic system that reduces children to beggary and sets in motion habits that undermine both body and spirit. 

The ill-fated12th-century lovers Abelard and Helöise also rest together at Père Lachaise, finally at peace. Their forbidden love flew in the face of the powers of the Church, with the result that Abelard was castrated and Helöise was hustled off to a nunnery, where she gave birth to their illegitimate son, whom she named, marvelously, Astrolabe. Abelard spent the rest of his life being persecuted by various powerful members of the Church, most notably Bernard of Clairvaux, and she became a num, a vocation for which she protested she had no calling. Would they still advocate for free love, I wonder, or would they advise moderation and respect for custom? I like to think that they, too, have returned to Père Lachaise in this latter day, walking freely hand-in-hand, without harassment from anyone.

As Halloween precedes All Souls’ Day, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those other habitués of Père Lachaise, who seem to live perennially in the penumbra of that eerily celebratory day. These are young people of skeletal thinness who favor a zombie mode; whose ghoulish clothing is all-black and rotted-looking and whose hair hangs long in unwashed, cadaverous tufts. They break into the crypts and sleep there, I am told, amidst the dust, the broken prié-Dieus, and shards from shattered stained glass windows, in necrophiliac clusters. I have seen small bands of these repellant creatures roaming around the grounds and, good breeding be damned, can’t help but stare. I cannot imagine what advice they might supply us, as I suspect that living a healthier, more conscious life is not a foremost concern of theirs.

This All Souls’ Day I will go, as I have for the last nine years, to the little pioneer cemetery at the foot of this mountain, to visit with my folks, who rest side-by-side there, under a canopy of oak trees. I’ll take rakes and brushes to remove biomass, and candles and flowers to honor them, and food to share. After my labors, I’ll sit on the one-ton limestone sitting stone my mother had placed there, after my father’s death, and eat my sandwich and commune with those dear people. The grief has faded now and we sit companionably in the full knowledge that I will be joining them, someday in the not-so-very-distant future.

What would they tell me, if they could? They lived long, busy and fulfilled lives, into their mid-80s. Their accomplishments are legion, yet I know, too, that so were their discouragements. Also, some of the health problems that led to their demise were accidental or genetic but some were self-inflicted. What can I learn from their experiences and apply to what remains of my own years?

For one thing, I know I won’t be eating any Halloween candy this year, to keep my father’s diabetes at bay, and I’ll make sure to enjoy a good laugh as often as possible, to relieve myself of my mother’s perennial seriousness. Like my father, I’ll “get up and make myself useful,” every single day. Like my mother, I’ll create an environment that is aesthetically pleasing, rich, comforting and beautiful. Mostly, I’ll make sure that every day I honor those things that bring me joy and the people whom I love. Our family was altogether too distanced from one another, so the healthiest thing I can do is to make lasting bonds of reverence and love with this earth and all her sentient beings.

So, in this season when the veil between the worlds thins and all manner of specters walk, let’s take the opportunity to ask them for their favorite health tips from the crypt, and then, put that ghostly advice to use, while we still can.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

Our internal confusions are a latent richness.
    --James Hillman

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

In wildness is the preservation of the world.
--Henry David Thoreau

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.

Signs of Life:
The writers' collective at Fiction Studio Books is reaching over 13,000 readers a month, because the quality of the blogs is outstanding. Check it out and see if you agree. Become a follower, if you do. You won't regret it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

Without solitude there can be no real people . . . The measure of your solitude is the measure of your capacity for communion.
--John Eudes

Signs of Life:
This is the most amazing footage, brought to us by people who have braved the solitudes of nature, so that we can experience communion with Earth's waters and the creatures who live in them:
"Mirror of the Firmament"~"Miroir du Firmament"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls . . . seared with scars.
--Kahlil Gibran

Signs of Life:
Okay, all 6 billion of us, let's listen up. The tortoises have something to teach us.

And so does Annie Lennox

And so do the Solar Sister

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee's house some day.  ~Congo Proverb
Signs of Life:
I've been privileged to receive an advanced reading copy of Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us about Local Trade and the Global Market, by Dr. Tammy Horn, creator/Director of Coal Country Beeworks, a multi-service project in which surface mine sites are reclaimed with pollinator habitat in eastern Kentucky. Her goal is to reforest with native trees and plants over 30,000 acres of ruined land and to create a honey corridor from Kentucky into West Virginia! Her project also includes workshops in beekeeping, so that bee products can boost the marginal economies of mining communities. I'll publish a full review of her book when it becomes available in November. For now, I just want to celebrate the scholarship, leadership, vision and courage of Tammy Horn, who is definitely a shining Sign of Life! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Distant Gunfire Broccoli Soup

                  West view, from  site of future artillary emplacement
My husband and I were sitting outside on the deck in the glorious California Indian Summer, enjoying a bowl of soup made from his own organic broccoli, the recipe for which I shall include below. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and there was a gentle little breeze from the west with just the slightest edge of chill to it. Suddenly, from the woods in the canyon to the east of the house, gunfire erupted. This was not the simple pop of a .22 rifle. This was the chatter of a huge-bore semi-automatic Something, geared to mass extinctions.

It’s a testament to our sang-froid that we scarcely missed a beat in our conversation. We were fairly certain we weren’t under attack. It was just our closest neighbor to the east, Vernon, trying out his latest hedge against invasion. It was he who, when admiring our western view, which extends for a hundred miles, commented that our front lawn would be a perfect site for a howitzer emplacement. And here I’d been thinking of that as a good spot to tuck in some more lavender bushes!

David and I were discussing Presidents, over our soup. The first one he could remember was FDR. Truman was President when I was born, but the first President I remember was Eisenhower and I still have an I Like Ike button among my memorabilia, even though my parents were staunch Adali Stevenson supporters, despite his drawbacks of being (gasp!) divorced and (double gasp!) an egghead.

I was quoting Ike’s famous warning regarding the military-industrial complex when Vernon’s target practice commenced, right on cue. David and I supped to intermittent bursts of various calibers of small arms fire, as our discussion shifted to the merits of gun ownership. 
                            East, looking into Vernon's canyon

Now, I am of that oft-quoted variety of gun owner from whose cold, dead hands my gun will have to be pried. I grew up with guns; started shooting when the rifle was longer than I was; am a deadly shot;  and always keep a loaded varmint rifle next to my armchair, and a .38 under my bedside table, should trouble happen to arrive closer in.

David, on the other hand, whose original fondness for guns could have been registered somewhere on a scale from Tepid to Luke Warm, lost interest in them completely in Vietnam, 14 miles from the DMZ. It seems he was up on a roof, replacing corrugated metal that had been ripped off by a monsoon, from whence he looked straight down into an operating theater in which someone was having his shattered leg sawn off with a hand saw. And that was that. A lifelong aversion to weapons was born.

Please don’t imagine my attitude is all bravado. I have the healthiest respect for guns. I keep fresh in my heart my father’s words to me, as, for the first time, he handed me the .22 rifle I still use: “Always remember, you can kill someone with this.” And I recall also the corollaries to that, from my former father-in-law, a genuine soldier of fortune, who saw CIA-shrouded action in any number of hot spots around the globe: “Remember, if you point a gun at someone, you’ve got to be prepared to pull the trigger;” and, “Don’t try to get fancy; shoot for the chest, it’s the biggest part.” And also the words of Miller Sardella, our handsome cowboy Sheriff for many years who said, smiling graciously at me through his handle-bar mustache, “Honey, if anyone ever bothers you, up there on the mountain, you just shoot ‘em an’ drag ‘em into the house. I’ll do the rest.”

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine percent of the time, one never needs to think about arcane matters like weaponry. But then comes the day or night when there’s a rabid fox in the yard; or a serial killer dumps a couple of bodies within a few miles of the house; a door distinctly opens and closes, downstairs, after lights-out; or, by the light of the moon, several someones in a couple of pickup trucks come to carry away one’s winter wood supply. Since the response time from the Sheriff’s office to our house is about 35 minutes, flat out and in good weather, alternatives to law enforcement intervention spring readily to mind and to hand. There have been but a few times, but memorable ones, when, in my bathrobe, a double-barrel shotgun in hand, I’ve stood on the 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution in my sheepskin slippers and held my ground.

The current political maelstrom in this country brings that amendment very currently to mind. My down-canyon neighbor Vernon’s politics and mine couldn’t be farther at the ends of any political continuum one might devise. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool right-winger and I’m a Berkeley-educated Liberal of mid-1960s vintage. But there’s one thing we agree on: love your country but don’t trust your government—and keep your powder dry. That, and that I make one helluva fine pot of broccoli soup.

Distant Gunfire Broccoli Soup

Slice up a big onion and sauté it in olive oil, until it’s soft and golden. Just before it gets there, throw in as much minced garlic as your family can tolerate. Add a good tablespoon or more of curry powder, a couple of heaping teaspoons of turmeric and basil and some sea salt. Stir to coat the onions and garlic, and let the seasonings cook until their aroma comes up. Add a cut up head of broccoli, with stems peeled and chopped. Add a 32 oz. box of organic vegetable or chicken stock. Put a lid on the pot and let it simmer until the broccoli can be pierced with a fork, about 20-25 minutes. Put the whole mess through a blender or food processor until completely blended and return it to the pot. Add a 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk and heat gently. Never boil the soup! You can top it with a dollop of sour cream, or throw in some grated cheddar cheese, if the mood hits you. I like to serve it with a couple of slices of a good whole wheat country bread, warmed and slathered with butter.

And if you’re a bit dubious about me, after my martial revelations, above, just remember Beethoven’s observation: Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.
  Further east, the Sierra crest assures us: some things are calmly eternal.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

I encountered “Everything that rises must converge” while reading Flannery O’Connor, one of my favorite writers from the American South.  It is the title of one of her books.  She was quoting Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic priest. In my own life this expression has rung quite true, though the meaning I make of it may be different than theirs.  Everything I have ever worked for, rising regardless of circumstances to do my best, has led eventually to the lives of other people who are also rising – sometimes against even greater odds than mine.  Embracing this reality removes fear of striking out and upward.  Everyone you truly wish to encounter will be there when you arrive (you will realize you have been rising together though on separate continents, perhaps, or even during separate centuries!) or will appear shortly thereafter.

There is much joy and celebration whenever we converge, i.e. meet each other. The spirits we knew.  The faces we did not. Usually.
--Alice Walker
Signs of Life:
Check out Alice Walker's official blog, and her poem "New of Your Arrest." Fabulous!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
--Gloria Steinem

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

Nothing is worth more than this day.

Signs of Life:
Here's a thought-provoking article, "What Comes After Money?", by Daniel Pinchbeck & Ken Jordan,  about the current economic situation and some new ways of thinking about it, at:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Journeying in Virgen Territory

A happy confluence of events sparks today’s blog. The first is the long-awaited arrival of Clarissa Pinkola-Estés’s new book, Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul. You may know her by her first, blockbuster achievement, Women Who Run with the Wolves, one of the most positively empowering books for women ever written. The second event is the annual Washing of the Sarongs, in which all thirty-three receive ablutions. How these two happenings commingle is what I’m about to tell you.

As I explained to you in my post of August 15th,  sarongs are the foundational garment of my summer wardrobe. These lovely yards of batik-dyed rayon make me happy, not only because they are so easy and graceful to wear but because they are simply beautiful. Their colors are exquisite and their designs captivatingly alive with natural forms, including fish, turtles, dolphins, salamanders, butterflies and flowers. So, when the Autumnal Equinox passes and the days grow cooler, I reward my sarongs with a ritual washing and ironing, before laying them away in a drawer for yet another season, ready and waiting for more travels in Virgen territory.

This time, as I’m ironing (18 down, 15 to go!) I’m reflecting that these are far more to me than mere garments. They’re friends who have traveled near and far with me, and participated in some of my life’s most rewarding moments.

The red salamanders were a favorite scarf in the icy winds of Zurich and the Highlands of Scotland; the teal and indigo shell-scattered one saw me through a rousing, net-less volley ball game involving a half-inflated ball, in the depths of Barrancas de Cobre; and the finely scatter-printed putty and teal one soaked up the sun with me, one whole, long summer in Aix-en-Provence. As I handle the soft, cool suppleness of each garment, memories flood in, and that’s where Untie the Strong Woman enters the picture.

Dr. Pinkola-Estés’s new book is a celebration of the powerful and ever-present love of the Divine Feminine and, by association, the strong women and men who love her, in return. It got me thinking about all the powerful women and men that my sarongs and I have encountered, over the years and the thousands of miles of travel. I began to feel that these people are connected to me, intimately and enduringly, through bright rayon bonds over which the vital love of the Mother leaps like an electric spark, keeping relationships of love and respect ever renewed, even across great gaps of time and space.

For example, on one of our annual trips to Mexico, my dear friend and traveling companion, Javier, and I found ourselves deep in Chihuahua’s Copper Canyon, in Tarahumara territory, in the little mud brick village of Cuiteco. Javier has family scattered all through the Canyon, and this time we were staying with his cousin, China, in a gracious old adobe home, with wide pine plank floors, that China’s father had built in the 1920s. It’s one of my favorite places on earth, with its deep, sheltering porch giving onto a country flower garden; its pink plastered interior walls where a gato montés, a mountain lion, stretches its feral hide and Tarahumara baskets hang ready to hand; and its smoky comal, from which tortillas of astonishing deliciousness are served up each mealtime by Margarita, the Tarahumara maid. Meanwhile, the cracked bronze bell in the adobe church tower clangs the hour and donkeys bray in the streets.
 I was sitting on the porch writing in my journal, one afternoon, when Javier suddenly announced we were all going down the hill a mile or so, to a friend’s house. I was lounging in my teal and indigo sarong and wanted to change but Javier, ever impatient, would have none of it. We were going NOW. So off we went, China, her sister and niece, Javier and I, to the home of an elderly friend who lives in an adobe house fronted by an ancient apple orchard, on the banks of the river Urique. On the other side of the river, the copper red cliffs of the Barrancas de Cobre rose straight up for a thousand feet, radiating the afternoon sun in a fiery glow.

We found an old volley ball among the lilies of her garden and, with her 12-year old neighbor, Sarita, began an impromptu volley ball game, while Javier chatted with the neighbor and China’s sister sat fanning herself in the shade of the porch. Sarita and the niece made up one team, while China and I were the other. She and I were viciously competitive, racking up victory after victory, smacking our crones' hands in a high-5 and laughing craftily, after each one.

It was in the midst of a leap, arms held aloft to block a serve, that I felt my sarong shift suddenly and I knew nakedness was imminent. With a yell, I called for Time Out, turned my back on all assembled, opened my sarong wide to the afternoon, then rewrapped it tightly. This operation had to be repeated several times during the combat, each time to good-natured hoots and jeers.

Finally, our energies flagging, we all collapsed in the shade of the porch, while the elderly but ever-hospitable neighbor poured her homemade wild berry liqueur into tiny, hand-blown glasses. The tumult of our game subsided; the rush of the river and the river wind through the apple trees and pines carried us into deeply tranquil conversation; and the immensity of the sheer red walls, the exposed sinew of the Great Lady, Mother Earth Herself, caught and reflected last light, as we finally trudged homeward. Javier and I agreed that it may have been the happiest afternoon of either of our lives. And he still teases me about the sarong.

Those women, with whom I could barely communicate in my pidgin Spanish, were so gracious to me and so loving. And the same has been true in each of the homes where we have stayed over the years, as we gradually have made our way along the snaking paths of Copper Canyon or through the byways of Old Mexico. In each home there is an air of profound serenity, and in each, an image of La Virgen de Guadalupe hangs in a place of prominence. Throughout Mexico, in fact, from north to south, the Virgin lies at the heart of a religious sensibility that encompasses Catholic Christianity, but has its roots in great antiquity when La Que Sabe, She Who Knows, was, as Pinkola-Estés points out, the center of worship. Small wonder that She and the sarongs are ever entangled in my mind and heart, a colorful river of human doing, being and loving.

The sarongs have doubled as shopping bags in native markets, where women bent and wrinkled beyond their years sold luscious fruits with welcoming, toothless smiles. They have been shawls amidst the rainy ruins of the Valley of Mexico, where Indian women still bring flowers to shrines desecrated by Conquistadores 500 years ago, and sister volcanoes Popocatépetl and Pico de Orizaba lie cloud-shawled and mysterious on the horizon. And I’ve slept sweetly through the night beneath my sarongs on remote, chilly beaches and used them for towels, after swimming in the surf of la Mer, Mère Ocean.

They’ve even been scarves on the Paris Metro where a woman once nodded coolly and murmured, “Jolie!” Pretty! A high compliment coming from a woman among the most sophisticated in the world. Through the years these companions have frayed at the edges, faded in sun and salt water, and become wrinkled at the bottom of string bags and duffels. Yet, wherever we go, the sarongs and I, women universally recognize them as something pertaining to them, to the Feminine, to something indelibly tied to a woman’s deepest knowing.

They are a bright rope extending around the world, wrapping us all in its embrace; or the flags of the Divine Feminine, flying high. They embrace numberless women in beauty and grace, as do saris, huipils and all the other yards of bright fabric, often hand-loomed and -dyed, with which women around the world choose to dignify and beautify their bodies and their souls. La Que Sabe smiles, I’m sure, when women wear them -- as I will smile when the last one is smoothed beneath the iron and laid down for a winter’s rest -- with satisfaction. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

The mind is its own place and, in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.
--John Milton

Signs of Life:
Find a little bit of heaven here:

Lift Up, by Dragonfly Whisperer:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quote of the Day

As if I'd slept a thousand years underwater I wake into a new season. I am the blue lotus rising. I am the cup of dreams and memory opening -- I, the thousand petaled flower. At dawn the sun rises naked and new as a babe; I open myself and am entered by light. This is the joy, the slow awakening into fire as one by one the petals open, as the fingers that held tight the secret unfurl. I let go of the past and release the fragrance of flowers.
--Normandi Ellis, translator of the Egyptian Book of the Dead

Signs of Life:
I owe the above quote to Julie Gillentine (Loar), in whose book Messengers: Among the Stars, Stones and Legends the Ancient Wisdom Dwells I discovered it. (Julie's book can be ordered at Queen of Cups, Inc., email:; Normandi Ellis's book Awakening Osiris: the Egyptian Book of the Dead is available through Amazon.) You might also enjoy Julie's book, Goddesses for Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom and Power of the Divine Feminine Around the World, that draws together astrology and goddess mythology in a reading for every day of the year. It can be ordered from new World Library, at 415-884-2100, Ext. 52.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

Love is not consolation. Love it light.
--Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quote of the Day

They have rights who dare defend them.
--Roger Baldwin

In honor of the protesters of Occupy Wall Street and of similar Occupy demonstrations, around the country and around the world. When 1% of our population owns and controls 42% of our national wealth, we are a country out of balance. Let's stand in solidarity with those who are putting their bodies on the line, to make that point clear to all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quote of the Day

Ah! There's nothing like staying home, for real comfort!
--Jane Austen
I spent yesterday afternoon with my neighbor, Linda, sipping tea on the terrace of her lovely home. The tea she had concocted was a blend, subtle and complex, of hibiscus, apple and black pansy syrup. The air was cool and fragrant from the recent rains and we lingered gratefully in the sunlight, chatting and laughing as women do who have found inroads into intimacy. When I returned to my own home, pictured here, I thought what a blessing a home is; how sheltering, welcoming and soothing. May each of your homes be blessed, today and always, with the balm of peace and friendship.

Signs of Life:
Here's a wonderful movement to get acquainted with, the Cookstove Movement! It involves "impact investment," the current trend in economic development in economically depressed areas, where microfinance plus impact development can stimulate change  where both governments and markets fail. Help bring blessings to the homes of women less fortunate than we!  Read about it at:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

The belly is the reason why man does not so readily take himself for a god.
--Friedrich Nietzsche

Our pepper harvest is inspiring a Mexican food revival in our kitchen, with dishes like tomatillo sauce on chiles rellenos and pescado alcaparrado (white fish smothered in caper sauce). I wish you the delights of the belly, in this harvest season!

Signs of Life:
For good thoughts on food, read "Why Are Danes So Much Happier Than Americans?" at:

Monday, October 10, 2011

We Are Dancing!

We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.
-- Thorbjorn Jagland, former Norwegian prime minister & head of the Nobel committee

A new day is dawning, and if you look carefully at those silhouettes against the rose and golden sky, you will see that they are women, dancing. Three women have just shared the Nobel Peace Prize: Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, both of Liberia, and Tawakul Karman, of Yemen.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia and the first woman to be elected president of an African nation, has committed herself to the advancement of gender equality, by increasing the number of women in politics and in the judiciary; by mandating free education for children; by setting up the Women Market Fund; and by implementing international conventions for the protection of women’s rights in Liberia, including SCR 1325 of the UN Security Council, landmark legislation adopted by the United Nations in 2000, that acknowledges the need for the participation of women in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations, and post-conflict peace-building and governance.

Bushuben Keita, a spokesperson for President Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, responded to the Nobel committee's announcement: “We are dancing! This is the thing that we have been saying, progress has been made in Liberia. We’ve come through fourteen years of war and we have come to sustained peace. We’ve already started dancing!"

Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist who served as the commissioner-designate for the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Also the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, she is a founding member and former coordinator of the Women in Peacebuilding Program/West African Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP), where she organized collaborative peace-building initiatives for a network of women peace builders from nine of Liberia's fifteen counties.

Tawakal Karman is the chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, an organization that defends human rights and freedom of expression, and is a fierce advocate of Yemeni youth. Featured in TIME magazine in February, Karman said she has protested hundreds of times but her protest was galvanized when the government refused to intervene in the case of the Ja'ashin, a group of thirty families who were expelled from their village when their land was given to a tribal leader with ties to the President. "I couldn't see any sort of human rights or corruption report that could shake this regime. They never responded to one of our demands. It made it clear to me that this regime must fall."

In reading the stories of these three remarkable women, I am struck by how timely my own novel, Commune of Women, is. It addresses the issues of land being given away and the subsequent displacement of families; of tribal violence in Africa; of corrupt political powers that enslave an entire people in Palestine, and more. Apparently, it taps into the zeitgeist that is sweeping the world: women supporting women; women teaching women; women empowering women. It’s a message whose time has come.

Carl Jung, at the end of his life, predicted that the next great psychological dispensation would be the rise of the archetypal Feminine. From the streets of New York and other cities around the world, where Occupy Wall Street activism is democratic rather than hierarchical, to the bold and courageous activities of our three newest Nobelists, the spirit of the Feminine is rising like the Sun at dawn.

 Reach out! Grab the hand of your neighbor. We will circle the globe! And when the day breaks, it will find us, a commune of women, dancing!

Signs of Life:
"Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now" is an excellent article:
"The task of our time is to insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society -- while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take."
Read it at:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quote of the Day

It is not merely enough to call for freedom, democracy, and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear. . . . Freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. It is not power that corrupts, but fear.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Signs of Life:
Occupy Wall Street is becoming a global cry for real democracy, social justice and anti-corruption. If millions of us across the world stand with them in solidarity, we can boost their resolve and show the media and the leaders that the protests are part of a massive mainstream movement for change. Please check out the site below, and add your name to the almost  half-million people already standing up for the 99%:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

 The main difference between me and an insane person is that I am not insane.
--Salvador Dali

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
--Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

(Apple founder and CEO, brilliant innovator, holder of 313 US patents, tech icon, magician behind the Magic Box)

See a video of his commencement speech at Stanford University, demonstrating his passion and ethic: