Down the Rabbit Hole and Over the Rainbow


Can it really be 3 months since I’ve written? Hard to believe how life can change in the blink of an eye. On May 14th just as I was accepting a job I didn’t really want, but the only offer extended after 5 months of looking, the manager at a company I used to work for decided to retire. Within an hour of the district manager receiving her notice at 5:00 pm on the 15th, we were communicating and by 7:30 the next morning I was offered exactly the job I wanted but never thought would be available, site manger for 2 stores. Be careful what you wish for!

Not someone who enjoys traveling, actually I have nothing against traveling, I often enjoy it once I’m on the road, it’s leaving home I hate, I was on a plane the following Monday for training after 4 crazy days of paperwork and packing. I headed for Terrill Texas where we crammed 12 days of training into roughly 4 ½, time being of the essence because on my return I was facing not only inventory in both stores a week apart, but inventory using brand new equipment and procedures, no pressure there! (The key to a smooth inventory is preparation and I would have little to no time to prep.)

Though many systems have changed, much of what I knew when working for the company 5 years prior returned to my out of practice brain. Inventory went surprisingly smoothly and 3 months later the stores are almost organized to my standards. Things are moving forward ¾ slowly!

If it was any other time of year, getting everything done would not have been so pressing, but not only do I live in a tourist town where summer ‘tis the season to make money, it’s also back to school time for us and I manage clothing stores, so the pressure has been more than normal.

Considering I went from a total focus on my creative life, painting and writing to a complete dive back into the world of corporate retail, I’m managing fairly well. Having muses who understand and are willing to wait while not allowing me to forget, helps. Remembering that organizing is a form of creativity and acknowledging that creativity doesn’t always mean writing the next prize winning play or painting up a storm has kept my artistic side ever hopeful of attention. Keeping in touch with my weekly writing group, whether I’ve written or not has spurred me to sneak in a few pages now and then, and dutifully writing my morning pages and journaling allows me some feeling of creative virtue.

I also took 3 days to go away to Ojo Caliente with a writing buddy, where I was gifted for the idea for a retreat  and am planning to offer it in October (when hopefully things will be in better balance.)

So what is the life school lesson in all this? Be clear on what you need and want, ask for, accept and allow. Put infrastructures in place to support your passion when the practicalities of life take precedence, so that when you can grab a moment you will have what you need. (Fishing pole, pastels, pen and paper, guitar, being organized allows you to be creative!)

Know that balance is a teeter-totter and the center point is an “and” not an “or”, you can have all you want and need, though not necessarily at the same time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, I get by with a little help from my friends, and my therapist, and my massage therapist, and the person I now pay to clean my house and my neighbor who helps me with the ferals and…

Last but not least, know that time IS of the essence, and that means distilling and appreciating the essence of what sustains, gives joy, renews, the light on the garden as you drink your coffee, the customer with whom you have a meaningful exchange, the moment it takes to remind a friend that busy or not, you’re here for them. Life is made up of the minutes and days and how we spend them is how we do life, to paraphrase a quote I once read.

Onward and upward,

Feral Friends


As I was growing up, in the 60’s, I became enamored of girl’s series from the 1920’s. With titles like The Outdoor Girls in a Motor Car, Patty’s Summer Days and  Two Little Women and Treasure House,  I loved the idea of a close group of chums, growing up and having adventures together. That my grandmother had her “girls” who had stayed together since thse 1920’s, it seemed the ultimate form of friendship. I wanted chums, friends who dropped in for tea, who made time on a regular basis, who like the fox in the Little Prince were tamed through the use and practice of ritual (the regular occasion kind not the woo-woo witchy kind) Alas, as that weird girl who rode horses and read books, such thing was not to be and the closest I came was in my 40’s, when several ladies and I vowed to meet monthly, each taking turns to host an adventure. For a year we did, then we fell apart and nothing has come close since.

Perhaps the world is no longer designed for such friendships; only the lucky few who began theirs in the days before social media and still hold on through thick and thin can boast of such belonging.

Life and friendship now is better represented by my ferals than by the Little Prince’s fox, who least we forget, was willing to risk weeping as a result of being tamed.

So I think my ferals have appointed themselves Professors of Friendship in Earth School. Even those who have chosen to be more or less tamed, Harry, Annie, B-2 and Clyde are very clear in their boundaries and what is acceptable behavior for our relationship. Clyde allows petting only at mealtime, usually breakfast where he winds around my feet, rolls over at my touch and acts likes we are the best of buds, the rest of the time it’s” hands off, I’m not that kind of a guy.” B-2, often the first to approach, is a “pet me, but mostly just my head and no I don’t want to snuggle” guy. Annie, when she chooses, is a primo snuggler, with her head tucked into my arm, granting head bumps, purring; the rest of the time she flirts just out of reach. Harry is usually all over me, go to pull a weed, find Harry’s head instead. Want to snip a flower for the house? Watch out for Harry’s nose. Be careful opening the door, Harry really doesn’t believe there’s no room at the Inn, except of course when Harry’s off playing Tiger, Tiger in the field, then he’s all feral and not to be approached.

Most of the rest of the gang allow me within a foot or so, though no petting is allowed. This is fine except in the case of Bagheera, who has had an abscess on his head for months and Frankie, who when he was caught and neutered was noted to have bad teeth and goes through stages when his teeth send him into crying and pawing fits, but since they will only watch with great suspicion from 2 feet at most, there is little I can do but watch back and hope time really will heal all wounds.

The rules of engagement then are that I can acknowledge and converse with them, offer a meal and place to stay, even love them, but they will eat when they please, engage as it suits and go on their merry way as life calls to them, with little or no advance notice.

As with most of my friends, all I can do is offer love, time, food and sanctuary and hope that they make time to partake of some or all of my offerings.

I won’t give up my campaign for quality one-on-one people time however, and there are causes for hope.

I write weekly or more often letters to my best friend, she is too busy to reciprocate but she does tell me repeatedly how much she enjoys my missives and lately has taken the time most Sundays to reestablish our once weekly habit of phone calls. Then this week I received a phone message from someone else, that underlined my attitude about the need for face time and pointed out the pitfalls of relying on social media for our connections. His message said, “It’s really weird, I’ve been reading your blog which I’ve been enjoying immensely, but I’m finding that it’s actually acting as a sort of surrogate C A and I’m finding that I’m actually missing the original, so I thought I’d give you a call.”

Perhaps things are not as dour as I thought at first, I may never have found that group of chums with whom to spend regular scheduled outings, but in a Facebook world where people count their friends in the hundreds, there are still the Harrys and Annies who want from me more than a bowl of food and safe place to rest and are willing to take the time to let themselves to be tamed at least a little.

Onward and upward,



© C A Crossman and Dancing Through Life with Spirit,2012.




Day of Distinction – Help, I Could Use a Little Support Here!


So if I’m trying to staple up some fencing above my existing fence line and I need someone to hold up the end of it to take the pull and weight off where I’m working, do I ask for help or support?

Help has gotten a bad rap for the last several years, in coaching we don’t help clients, we support them, the thinking being that help implies broken or in need of fixing or lack of some kind, while support is more of a cheering on, knowing they have what they need, reminding them of their strength, etc.

I’m really lucky, I have a lot of support in my life, people who think I’m ok or if not exactly ok incorrigible and they love me so they support me in being me.

I’m also REALLY blessed to have had considerable help in my life, everything from my lawyer acquaintance who is not above perusing the occasional contract and screaming, “don’t sign that!” to the financial help another friend provides by paying my animal’s vet bills (thank goodness even though my grandma is gone my “kids” still have one!) to my ex husband who fixes my washer, readies my swamp cooler and continues to wrangle with my hot tub. I don’t think any of those situations imply that I am broken or in need of fixing, a lack in education perhaps. (But really, did I have time along with my other jobs and skills to for a law degree, an engineering degree, an electronics degree, a plumbing apprenticeship or whatever one does to amass the kind of funds that allows one to share financially as abundantly as my friends do?)

Sometimes help really is just help.

Yesterday a friend gave me a lift to pick up my car from the mechanics, on the way, her car died. To make a long story short, thanks to Triple A I was able to do more than cheer from the sidelines, I was able to help by having her car towed to her mechanics at no cost to her. The ability and opportunity to help can be a good thing.

As most of my distinctions have shown, there is a place for both words in our vocabulary and our lives. It’s why I am so passionate about not only knowing what words mean, but also honoring that meaning by choosing and using them carefully.

I believe the Beatles had it correct, we DO get by with a little help from our friends; we also learn to fly on the support of their wind beneath our wings. (God, isn’t this language a blast?)

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clu...

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “probably the most famous album cover in popular musical history”Ashplant Smyth 2001, p. 185. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Onward and upward,

Feelings Aren’t Facts, and Your Point Is?


Feelings aren’t facts. I have a friend who has said this twice to me lately, both times when I was quite engulfed by feelings that were throwing my world for a loop. I believe we pass on such things because they mean something to us, but quite frankly, I didn’t get it and it kinda ticked me off.

Having spent a good part of my life in my head, I believe thinking is much easier than feeling, feeling is sloppy, unpredictable, spontaneous, illogical, magical, paralyzing and uplifting; thinking is logical, organized, effective, useful, productive, right?

Not always, take the heart math process, which uses the brain to tap into the heart because feelings don’t have the screen of perception that our thoughts have, the idea is that our hearts have more clarity without the clutter of all those thoughts that have been circling our brains affected by what we hear, see and experience. Then answers uncovered during this process are always for the highest good and feelings play a big part.

I’ve been trying to pay more attention to my feelings, to accept and allow them instead of ignoring or burying them. It’s been an odd way to do life, doing what feels fun, or right or exciting and saying no to what feels static, or sad or unsatisfying and the odd thing is, it’s been working. For the past 4 ½ months I’ve been going with what I feel and even though that’s been disconcerting and uncomfortable (I keep trying to write to-do lists, be disciplined, have structure but those things continue to fall by the wayside.) and when I look back I’m amazed at how much I’ve accomplished. For starters, I’ve painted over 20 paintings, sold, traded or been commissioned for 11 paintings or drawings, I’m in a gallery, I’ve written 12 chapters of a novel, built and planted several gardens, plus paid my bills, eaten well, and still have a few dollars in the bank. Not having a job has been frustrating and discouraging, that’s a fact; it’s also allowed me to recover physically, mentally and emotionally from the trauma of the past 3 years and to not only rediscover my creative side but to put it out in the world in tangible ways, that too is a fact.

So I’ve been having an “issue” with that expression. It didn’t seem relevant and I couldn’t pinpoint why, (I should have said it didn’t feel relevant and I couldn’t think why.) until yesterday when I mentioned it to my therapist who said one thing has nothing to do with the other, one comes from the head and the other from the heart. Since I had recently concluded that just because my brain was louder didn’t make it right, bingo! Comparing feelings and facts is like saying apples aren’t oranges. Feelings aren’t facts; they aren’t thoughts or body parts or experiences either. They are however, real, and like most things one piece of living an “and” life. Facts without feelings will only get you so far, feelings without facts ditto.

So I see now that it comes down to context. The statement is true, but it is irrelevant or perhaps not enough. Maybe if she had said, feelings aren’t facts and facts aren’t feelings but both have important information and so make sure you check in with both, I might have reached this conclusion sooner and with less angst. Which is the problem with sayings that we love and give meaning to, we understand the short hand but not everyone else does. The flip side of that is, figuring it out for ourselves allows us to own the wisdom we uncover. Whew that was fun, sorta.

I’m just glad to have finally made peace with the expression. I feel like it’s time to move on and that’s a fact Jack!

Onward and upward,



© C A Crossman and Dancing Through Life with Spirit,2012


What Are the Lima Beans Standing Between You and Dessert and Who Says So?


I don’t have many memories of life before my 16th summer. It’s not that my life was bad, far from it, so I don’t know why I can’t remember and that’s not what I want to talk about today anyway.

Today I want to talk about something I do remember, the night of the lima beans. I don’t like lima beans, I’ve tried but they’re up there with olives and goat cheese and Brussels sprouts, all foodstuffs I’ve given fair trial to and still don’t like. The memory of how the whole thing ended, and exactly who did what is still a bit fuzzy. I’m not sure whether I was alone or in solidarity around the lima bean issue. I’m pretty sure both my brother and I began the protest and I’m pretty sure I caved. (I have a vague memory of the taste of cold lima beans) What I find hard to grasp is if my brother was involved why he isn’t still at our old dining room table facing a pile of petrified lima beans from 40 years ago, he’s far more stubborn than I am. If we were talking I could ask him since his memory of almost every minute of our childhood is crystal clear, but as fascinating as I might find that information, it’s not really important to today’s topic, so bear with me.

I’ve been doing some work with Jennifer Louden’s Creative Joy Workbook and today’s questions by Andrea Scher were “What are the best conditions for your creative joy to flow? What are the good enough conditions? What are you ready to just accept is the condition and still let it flow? ”  I realized that I have to feel I have earned the right to creative joy. If I haven’t proven my worthiness by eating my lima beans I don’t get to have dessert let alone leave the table!

That sucks, I’m 56, if I don’t like lima beans I can choose not to eat them and still be a good person. The world won’t come to an end if I feed my lima beans to the dog, in fact Smudge, the four-legged garbage can would be thrilled; (What DO people who don’t have dogs do when they drop things while cooking…) and I can still have desert. In fact I could have dessert first, or only dessert and there is not a single person around to stop me, except me.

Ah and here we go again, didn’t I say in a recent post, “Take From Where It Comes” that I was going to practice being a lily of the field and accept that my worth was not dependent on doing, that my being made me worthy? Well I bet the sun still shines on the lilies even when they don’t eat their lima beans (I’m not going to get into the virtues of legumes as green manure and fixing nitrogen and all that practical stuff; I do like peas and green beans after all!)

I know that no one really cares if I paint or write or job hunt (well unemployment aside) or clean house today. What this all boils down to is a snafu regarding a job opportunity and my feelings of worthiness around the whole being unemployed thing.  I let the snafu, which I had no hand in creating; become a detour, a roadblock, in other words, a lima bean.

Now I also know in my heart of hearts that my friends love me employed or un, so why do I feel I can’t play with them if I’m not earning my keep? It’s not like I’m a slacker, I’ve been working since before I was 16. I’ve only collected unemployment twice before in 40 years and neither time for very long. I’ve always worked harder and more hours than I needed to, my standards have been higher than those of the companies I’ve worked for, so what’s the problem with enjoying the time to paint while looking for a job and collecting unemployment?

That little girl facing the cold plate of lima beans won’t shut up. She keeps telling me that I don’t deserve to wallow in creative joy until I’ve found a job, that the snafu must’ve been my fault and so I don’t deserve to play.

At this point, instead of considering the optimum conditions for creative joy, for me the real questions are –

What are the lima beans standing between dessert and me?

Who says?

And what am I going to do about it?

Obviously this class in earth school is going to take a little more homework.

onward and upward,



© C A Crossman and Dancing Through Life with Spirit,2012.



Day of Distinction – Humble or Humiliated a Fine Line or an Echoing Abyss?


Humility and humiliation, two words with the same root and very different meanings. The root, the Latin humilitas runs quite the gamut in meaning from insignificance, unimportance through degradation, debasement, humiliation to submissiveness. Yet to have humility is perceived as a good thing while to be humiliated is perceived as a horror.

Humility is to be humble, modest, unassuming. Isn’t humility a trait of mastery, the acceptance but not arrogance of one’s skills or gifts? As such, perhaps the belief that one serves as a conduit for such things and so does not become attached to a need to own them is the key?

Humiliation on the other hand is what comes from pride and its downfall. It is to have one’s attributes brought low and meaningless, or worse. In most cases, I think we are humiliated when brought to face a truth we have ignored or hoped to hide. When such a truth is brought to light we are afraid we will no longer be acceptable. Humiliation has to do with shame, with being somehow toppled from one’s assumed or desired place. Humiliation is often perceived as something we do to others, or have done to us. It comes from outside while humbleness comes from within.

If to expose our secrets results in humiliation, then do the humble have no secrets? It is said we cannot embarrass another, we can only embarrass ourselves, so can we then choose to turn humiliation into humbleness by owning whatever has been revealed?

In the book The Fountainhead, Howard Roark builds a temple in which humbleness is not an option. The temple is designed to honor the heroic in man, the aspiration and fulfillment, uplifted in and by his quest that to seek God is to seek oneself. What does that say about humility as a virtue?

Today’s attempt at making a distinction leaves me more puzzled than satisfied; humbled perhaps, though not humiliated. They are both words with great weight yet little actual substance.

onward and upward,



© C A Crossman and Dancing Through Life with Spirit,2012.

Take It From Where It Comes


When I was learning to ride and train horses, I prided myself on the fact that I didn’t buy into speculation, rumors, and the tendency to pick apart other riders. I studied the classic books on theory, did my best to understand the physics of horse training and took criticism from where it came, only the advice of instructors and professionals I respected, counted.

As I joined the ranks of professionals I continued this behavior; I let my abilities do the speaking and that has carried through for most of my life.

When I first bought my horse, I moved him from a field in Pennsylvania to a fancy hunter-jumper stable in suburban NJ. It was winter; my horse was a warm blood. (A fancy name for a horse who was neither draft nor race horse) I suspect there was Belgian in his background, the breed that is most famous for its ability to pull heavy loads; he was not far removed from a plow horse in other words.

Stout, he had feet like soup bowls and feathers on his legs, not quite a candidate for Budweiser, but perhaps you get my drift. This was the 70’s, before actual European warmbloods became the norm. Everyone was riding thoroughbreds, many of the horses came from the track so there were a lot of wild rides and elaborate pieces of equipment intended to put the horse in the proper frame.

The first night I’d brought my boy down from the farm, he was sporting a long coat, a longer mane and yes, those feathers on his legs. A couple of teenagers passed Michael’s stall, glanced inside and one said to the other “what do they call this thing, Olaf?”

Fast forward a week, Michael was now clipped, his sorrel coat dappled and shiny, his mane pulled to an acceptable length, there was nothing I could do about the soup bowls, trimming his legs had made his feet seem even bigger. I’d been working him in a simple snaffle bit and baling twine tie down, a trick I’d learned at horse training school. The baling twine was uncomfortable and so the horse learned quickly not to lean on it, if done properly it was a simple and temporary aid to building a horses neck muscles. Not pretty, but effective, to my mind it beat traditional standing martingales, wide straps of leather that served a similar but lasting purpose as the horse learned to lean on them.

Of course such unorthodox practice led to even more speculation about who and what we were. I ignored the buzz, worked and put away my horse and was standing by the ring watching the other riders, when a voice next to me said “Your gelding’s incredibly light on his feet and flexible, these people don’t know what they’re looking at.” I turned to find the resident professional, an older black gentleman who had trained some of the top 3 and 5 gaited horses in his day. I was content with the validation his words offered. That the day came when the buzz on the local show circuit at the sight of my horse was “Well there goes the pleasure classes,” because Michael had never in his career entered the ring without placing, my faith in my horse and my ability was ever the sweeter.

The habit of taking it from where it came served me well for a long time. Until I moved from the realm of horses into the world of people and found I no longer had clear standards by which to measure who was an expert. Friendship, age, love all became part of the equation. I found myself asking for advice and taking to heart everyone’s thoughts. The more I cared for someone, the more weight their opinion carried, and for someone with the natural tendency to be a pleaser/fixer this became a sure road to self-sabotage.

As a result, I came to believe my only value was in what I could give people. That I had to be able to help, fix, or supply something to have value and worth. Everything I touched had to be the best I could do, there was no such thing as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” everything could be improved, especially me.

Well yesterday I had a moment, normally I would call it an epiphany or an AH-HAH in capital letters but this moment was more like a sigh.

I realized that if I just was, the world would likely still keep turning, people would still enjoy my company (and maybe more so) and yes things would likely get done eventually. Kris Kristofferson’s famous line, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” suddenly made sense in the most positive of ways. If I wasn’t holding on to the need to be perfect, there was no expectation to be won or lost.

I felt a lot lighter as the wonder of what if… wafted through my being. I wanted to be a lily of the field, to not toil or spin, to just take in the warmth of the sun and cool of the rain and for those people who liked lilies, great, for those who preferred daisies – ah well. What a relief.

I’m not sure how this will play out in a world of commitments, obligations and stuff that really does need to get done. For example I no sooner had this lovely feeling than I realized I needed to write a blog. Deciding it is a commitment I’d like to keep, I thought well write what you know and this is what’s in my face. I hope one of the ways this realization will play out is by leaving me less pinned to my stats page and the tendency to count views, likes and comments as validation of my worth as a writer. I know I don’t always take the time to read everyone’s blog, comment or like, even though I admire and appreciate their writing – so duh?

Though possibly cause for concern when embracing such an irresponsible lifestyle, I suspect I will become motivated long before I enter a state of complete sloth. What I hope is that when the muses call, I paint first and load the dishwasher second, trusting that there is a time and season for everything. Guess I’ll find out. I’ll keep you posted!

Onward and upward,



© C A Crossman and Dancing Through Life with Spirit, 2012.