The last time

new blog

Dear friends,

This is the very last time I’ll be posting here.

No, I’m not giving up on writing.

I’ve moved house!

To what’s called a self-hosted blog.

True, I took a bit of a hiatus while I packed and got resettled.

Sorry about that.

But now that I’ve got my new house in some order, the furniture in place and things mostly unpacked–I say mostly because really, who is ever completely unpacked?–

I can offer you a cup of coffee in my new living room.

Come visit me at www.rachelgreenhouseblog.com.

And don’t forget to resubscribe to the blog over there, so that you don’t miss all of the posts I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks.

The easy link to do so is in the lower left corner. It looks like this:

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So please come on over. I’m so grateful you’ve been on this journey so far, and I don’t want to lose track of a single one of you, friends! 

I hope to see you soon…

with love

 

Time for tenderness

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a time for tenderness

My fascination with the seasons is deepening.

I’m becoming increasingly aware of the impact all of the seasons and cycles of the earth have on our lives, rhythms and well-being.

The way that we have structured modern life has created a growing distance between us and the earth’s cycles. We live as if we believe that the changes in the natural world have absolutely no impact on us.

Even when studies show that more women go into labor and emergency rooms are fuller on full moon nights, we discuss these realities as if they are a quaint folktale.

Monthly cycles of the moon, four seasons of the year, dawn and dusk and high noon, 24 hours in every day, impacting our lives dramatically on an emotional and physical level, and signifying even more spiritually.

It is worth paying attention, don’t you think?

Because of my lifelong history with Seasonal Affective Disorder, even as a child I was aware of the dramatic fluctuations I experienced in my energy + emotions in spring and fall. But winter? Well that was just a season to endure, not something to actually live.

My habit was to wave a quick goodbye to winter at the first sign of spring and (hopefully) not think about it at all until the next fall had arrived. This was my equivalent of saying “good riddance” and not looking back. But I’d find myself mid-summer with unfinished emotional business to tend to. I’d be completely unprepared for the diminishing light and for cycling toward the quiet season once again.

I would resist, resist, resist going inward, even when I craved that kind of rest deeply. I couldn’t figure out how to create a smoother transition because I didn’t want to acknowledge anything hard or sad or tinged with regret, even if there was beauty, profound beauty, in it.

But I’m learning. It seems obvious to me that the Creator has a higher purpose for arranging our interconnectedness with the earth and its rhythms. The more attention I pay to living in harmony with seasonal changes, the more wellness I continue to experience, the less resistance I encounter, and the more freedom I find to be wholeheartedly joyful.

I’ve never seen anyone write about the shift from winter to spring as Teri Starnes did on her Facebook page recently (see excerpt below.) Her words made so much sense to me on an intuitive level that they have inspired lots of fresh thinking over the last couple of weeks.

“We could feel a little resistant to shedding winter layers even if we are tired to death of it. These layers can be metaphorical as well as literal. Winter is a time to go within; the movement back out can be disorienting.”

Perhaps, I thought, this is why there are so many people who suffer deep depression in spring. It can be frightening to go back out into the world, physically speaking: The noise level is higher, the response time for interpersonal interactions is shorter, the colors are brighter, the foods are fresher and smells are more varied and intense.

So, while I’m looking forward to spring showing up as much as the next Minnesotan, I am approaching this transition with more awareness than usual. It is tempting, when the sun warms the ground and the euphoria hits, to run headlong into the next season, without acknowledging that though a longed-for change, it also requires a letting go of what has been. Even if one feels “ready” on a conscious level, there may be something jarring about the transition for the subconscious and for the body.

And while I gear up for more socializing and physical activity and fresh air, I’m going to practice more self care than I have in the past. It is not my intention to shock my system by moving too quickly in a new direction. Nor do I want to disrespect the gifts this winter has given me by casting them aside, unacknowledged.

For this highly-sensitive + introverted soul, it’s a time for tenderness.

And perhaps it is for you as well.

with love

 

 

 

 

 

Today is the last day of winter (in the northern hemisphere). Are you ready to let it go? With the Moon in Scorpio, we could feel a little resistant to shedding winter layers even if we are tired to death of it. These layers can be metaphorical as well as literal. Winter is a time to go within; the movement back out can be disorienting. A good way to support this shift is to honor the internal experience you have had. It has transformed you…Go with the flow. Let water bring you the place of self-love. Cleansing and nourishing, water makes the way for Sun’s ingress into spring tomorrow.
– Teri Parsley Starnes www.starsdanceastrology.com

Let someone love you

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Let someone love you

“Let someone love you, just the way you are, as flawed as you might be… To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” – Marc Hack

The wildness we seek

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the wildness we seek

Happy 75th birthday to Parker Palmer.

Quaker, teacher, PhD in Sociology, Wisconsinite, author of Let Your Life Speak and eight other groundbreaking books, founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change.

I first discovered Parker in 2009, when I heard him on the Speaking of Faith (now On Being) radio program, The Soul in Depression. He was sharing his own experience with depression and described a poignant story of how a friend had ministered deeply to him during a time of major depression:

“There was this one friend who came to me, after asking permission to do so, every afternoon about four o’clock, sat me down in a chair in the living room, took off my shoes and socks and massaged my feet. He hardly ever said anything. He was a Quaker elder. And yet out of his intuitive sense, from time to time would say a very brief word like, ‘I can feel your struggle today,’ or farther down the road, ‘I feel that you’re a little stronger at this moment, and I’m glad for that.’ But beyond that, he would say hardly anything. He would give no advice. He would simply report from time to time what he was sort of intuiting about my condition. Somehow he found the one place in my body, namely the soles of my feet, where I could experience some sort of connection to another human being. And the act of massaging just, you know, in a way that I really don’t have words for, kept me connected with the human race.

What he mainly did for me, of course, was to be willing to be present to me in my suffering. He just hung in with me in this very quiet, very simple, very tactile way. And I’ve never really been able to find the words to fully express my gratitude for that, but I know it made a huge difference. And it became for me a metaphor of the kind of community we need to extend to people who are suffering in this way, which is a community that is neither invasive of the mystery nor evasive of the suffering but is willing to hold people in a space, a sacred space of relationship, where somehow this person who is on the dark side of the moon can get a little confidence that they can come around to the other side.” – Program Transcript, On Being, 2009

Parker’s gentle, lulling voice touched me through the recounting of this, his own still raw, vulnerable experience. I lay on the cold midwinter floor listening and felt something open up inside of me. God was powerfully present in the room. As he described the connection to another human being that was offered by his quiet friend, I felt wholly seen. His experience became my experience and I was no longer alone. In that very first real, person-to-person acknowledgment of what I had felt nearly my entire life but had never heard anyone express in such relatable terms, something major shifted. It was the beginning of the end of my intense sense of isolation and self-hatred, and also of depression’s relentless grip on my soul.

You can read that full interview here. Below are a few more of my favorite bits, just to give you a taste:

Going into my experience of depression, I thought of the spiritual life as sort of climbing a mountain until you got to this high, elevated point where you could touch the hand of God or, you know, see a vision of wholeness and beauty. The spiritual life at that time had nothing to do, as far as I was concerned, with going into the valley of the shadow of death. Even though that phrase is right there at the heart of my own spiritual tradition, that wasn’t what it was about for me. So on one level, you think, ‘This is the least spiritual thing I’ve ever done.’ And the soul is absent, God is absent, faith is absent. All of the faculties that I depended on before I went into depression were now utterly useless.

And yet, as I worked my way through that darkness, I sometimes became aware that way back there in the woods somewhere was this sort of primitive piece of animal life. I mean, just some kind of existential reality, some kind of core of being, of my own being, I don’t know, maybe of the life force generally, and that was somehow holding out the hope of life to me. And so I now see the soul as that wild creature way back there in the woods that knows how to survive in very hard places, knows how to survive in places where the intellect doesn’t, where the feelings don’t, and where the will cannot.

I take embodiment very seriously, and, of course, depression is a full-body experience and a full-body immersion in the darkness. And it is an invitation — at least my kind of depression is an invitation — to take our embodied selves a lot more seriously than we tend to do when we’re in the up-up-and-away mode.

I do not believe that the God who gave me life wants me to live a living death. I believe that the God who gave me life wants me to live life fully and well. Now, is that going to take me to places where I suffer, because I am standing for something or I am committed to something or I am passionate about something that gets resisted and rejected by the society? Absolutely. But anyone who’s ever suffered that way knows that it’s a life-giving way to suffer, that if it’s your truth, you can’t not do it. And that knowledge carries you through. But there’s another kind of suffering that is simply and purely death. It’s death in life, and that is a darkness to be worked through to find the life on the other side.

The thought of God, all of those theological convictions, were just dead and gone during that time. But from time to time, back in the woods, that primitive wildness was there. And if that’s all God is, I’ll settle for it. I’ll settle for it easily and thankfully.

withlove

Time to dream

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Time to dream “Usually, when the distractions of daily life deplete our energy, the first thing we eliminate is the thing we need to the most: quiet, reflective time. Time to dream, time to contemplate what’s working and what’s not, so that we can make changes for the better. (January 17)” – Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

Blog post

If you’re interested in how I spent my little sabbatical–not business as usual time away–and what I discovered while distraction-free in Charlotte, I’ve written a post about my experience on my Rachel Greenhouse Consulting Services website (www.rachelgreenhouse.com) Click the link or image below to go directly to the post.

9 WAYS MY 8-DAY SABBATICAL WILL TRANSFORM the WAY I DO BUSINESS in 2014

One Day When I Was Old (45)

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Rachel2013

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. – Proverbs 31:25

I am becoming a Dangerous Old Woman. At 45.

I am getting very close. Close to unleashing the deep booming voice buried within my body. This low rumbling has scratched for years at my insides, longing to be brought to the surface. Simmering as a kettle about to boil, the whistle is building, a bold declaration of what my soul will and will not tolerate, of what it knows deep down it deserves to feel and be. This voice–with magnificent volume and space–will tear apart the cage that holds it still, rearing up to protect and project my own truth, my own intuition, my own clarity, my own experience, my own wisdom. All of these, gifted to me by God, unjustly judged, covered by doubt and fear, then silenced.

I am getting very close.

I am becoming a Dangerous Old Woman. At 45.

I am angry. I am angry at the way that our culture exploits the vulnerable and renders feminine souls subtle and orderly, cleverly distracted by an obsession with youth and a superficial, external shell. I am screaming loudly–for now, within…but soon, without!–against the many corrupting lies, the lies that employ self-hatred and fear to coerce and control. I am angry that I have allowed myself to be exploited (45 years) and have participated in perpetuating the lies. And it is coming to me–the anger–the Christ-like bellowing and chasing of the profiteers out of my temple.

I am angry.

I am becoming a Dangerous Old Woman. At 45.

I warn you, culture. I will very soon find the opening, unlatch the heavy door and leave this dark box. And I will take others with me. And there will be no stopping us. We will laugh in the face of fear. Are you now afraid? Ha!

I warn you, culture.

I am becoming a Dangerous Old Woman. At 45.

by Rachel, age 45 (Inspired by the profoundly wise Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés)

About the photo: I chose this photo of myself to share because I don’t like it. I am annoyed by the wrinkles and the unevenly-sized eyes and the dark roots of my hair and the makeup I inexpertly put on by myself and the serious lines around my mouth. But I have a look about me that says “I’ve got your number” and “I’m smarter than you give me credit for” aka “You are underestimating me, thinking that I will continue to play your stupid little game,” and so in the end I decided that it was just the right photo for this post. Vanity be damned (not that there is anything wrong with looking good, but I am over it on a soul level; vanity keeps me small-minded and I don’t want to be small-minded.) Now that I am a Dangerous Old Woman, I am challenging myself to an even greater degree of truth-telling. Thus the photo.

———————————————

ONE DAY WHEN I WAS OLD

I remember one day when I was young,

forty-five years or so old,

I woke up an old woman that morning.

Not quite in body all the way, but close.

And also in mind.

And I thought, “This is good.”

For also, in the face I was changed,

a little bark-chipped and creased,

like a tree long-lived enough

after having been planted so long ago

by some winged bird

accidentally letting fall a semi-sacred seed

into some almost impossible place,

precisely the way most of us came to earth–

unplanned, and yet sticking to the place

where we were dropped,

growing, growing flowers and fruits

set into our DNA–

and this too was good.

I leaned through the window

of my bathroom mirror,

and touched her old, cracked face…

I soothed back her black hair

with fire opals

in its strands of white.

And I saw as I leaned in,

There were permanent diamonds

in her tear ducts,

those gotten from years of use

and pressure in dark places.

And I gazed at the body

she and I share,

and I saw that rubies

had grown into all my cuts

and that tiny mirrors shone

in all my widders and spalls…

and I saw that I was old

and strong

and delicate

and fierce, like a queen

who has ruled the lands within her reach,

not perfectly, but despite brutal winters,

she was still alive,

the heartwood hardened off just enough,

the tender capillaries still able to carry

the juice and the warmth.

And then, twenty-some years later,

I crossed the crone line,

wearing the tissue-paper crown

with the sacred words “Still here,

still standing…”

engraved upon it.

These words of triumph for all of us elders,

these words “Still here… Still standing,”

they’re the ultimate royal “Ha!”,

the ultimate para la vida “Ha!”,

to life, with life, all of life, filled with life.

Us, crossed now, the crone line,

para la vida, filled with life.

I remember one day when I was young,

forty-five years old or so,

I woke up an old woman that morning.

Not in body quite all the way, but close.

Also in mind, and this was good.

And also in the face I was changed

with all the marks of rings like a tree,

and this too was good.

I looked at my body

and saw that rubies had grown

in all my cuts,

and mirrors shone in all the widders and spalls.

And I saw I was old and strong,

like a queen who had ruled herself

not perfectly, but well.

And I leaned in and touched her old, cracked face,

and I saw the permanent diamonds in her tear ducts

that were gotten from years of hard use

and pressure in dark places.

I remember one day when I was young,

forty-five years old or so,

I woke up an old woman.

And I have been more and more free

ever since.

______________________

CODA

And so may it be for you.

And so may it be for me.

And so may it be for all of us.

Amen.

And as my grandmother used to say,

“Amen… and a little woman.”

_______________________

Here is the blessing-poem for you from the first release of The Dangerous Old Woman manuscript, fireside #2. It is called, “One Day When I Was Old” and was written twice, having some of the same lines fore and aft, as in curanderismo chant.

Peace be with you, good souls.

with love,

dr.e

“One Day When I Was Old,” a blessing-poem by CP Estés, Copyright ©1990, 2010, All Rights Reserved, including but not limited to electronic, performance, theatrical, musical, graphic, film, commercial, derivitive. Uses: You are welcome to use this blessing poem in non-commercial ways without adding to nor deleting any part, just using the work in its entirety along with author’s name and this copyright notice attached. Thank you. Other permissions: Ngandelman@aol.com
More at: http://aftermidnightwriter.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/from-dr-e-blessing-poem-%E2%80%9Cone-day-when-i-was-old%E2%80%9D/

White quilt

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“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
― Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

white quilt

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