Finally, at 60, different things matter.
At 60 I am looking out to the horizon of my life and whether I live for 10 more years or 20 or 40 there is not any time to waste. I am not afraid to die but I am afraid to live, what Dawna Markova so eloquently called, an unlived life.
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
“I Will Not Die An Unlived Life”
At 60 I began to look at all of the parts and pieces of my life, to sift through them and decide what really matters, what I wanted to hold onto, and what it was time to release. It is not true that at 60 my life is limited, no, what is true is that I have lived long enough to have tasted many fruits of the world and know what are the deep truths that are in my heart, the things that I have chosen after six decades of trying them on for size if you will, or, having experienced some lovely people, places, and things that I will always hold dear, I have folded them away in a box with tissue paper and lavender and stored them in a corner of my mind where memory resides, where they will float in and out of my consciousness from time to time. Remembrance of things past, as Proust wrote.
I have made choices about how I am going to live, and what work I will do. All of this sifting and sorting has brought change that is all to the good, exciting really, and I am finding that letting go of some long held dreams was not only not hard, but a relief. One wants fewer things but in a deeper, more powerful way, or so I do. And my work now is what is at the center of my being, it is what the rest of my life will be about. I have chosen a precious few things and put them in a basket I carry over my arm, close to my body, warmed by my heart, and I will give myself to these things with everything that I have in me. I embrace them each, tenderly, I embrace it all.
So what are these things? First and foremost will be to plant myself firmly in my home, Dragonfly Cottage, which exists on two levels. One is the actual physical place, the home that burned down and is being rebuilt, but long before I knew that home existed I had a home online called Dragonfly Cottage Community For Women, and it was very much home to me. As a woman who has chosen a life of solitude over a life in the world and whose work truly is my world, Dragonfly Cottage has always been far more than a website. It is as if my life in the “real world,” one of gardens and pugs and my parrot, an abundance of wildlife and the angels that I commune with in my woods, the visual artist and photographer, fiber artist and dreamer, all float through the filter as if by osmosis so that some of it takes place on this side of the screen and the rest takes place on your side.
When I started the first Dragonfly Cottage Community For Women in the fall of 1999 it was with the intention to open my home to women around the world who would feel such a sense of warmth, loving friendship, sitting by my fireside with a cup of tea in the Cozy Room, or walking in the garden watching the dogs play. I saw a large round table where we would gather to share our lives. In fact my Dragonfly Cottage home online was a reality long before I finally lived and dreamed my way into the actual physical space. Now they are inextricably woven together, and I share my life and days while tending, gently, and lovingly, the community of women who have come for unconditional love, solace and support, and as this work has grown through the years it has become a wisdom school and women’s circle that have exceeded all of my expectations at the outset. It is the thing I love most deeply and dearly and I am formally committing my life to it once again and for the rest of my life. When the cottage burned to the ground in February I was devastated, I thought it was the end. Now I know that it was a much needed new beginning. The Phoenix crashed and burned that night but she is rising again, and as the physical space is ready for the dogs and Miss Scarlett and I we will move back in and begin again, but the community online is reopening now.
When I started The Spontaneous Art & Life Project & Women’s Circle it was after the fire when I wasn’t even certain I would move back to the cottage. I was so devastated by the fire, four of my sweet parrots died there that night, and everything inside that I had gathered and made a home with, vintage things, antiques from parents and grandparents, everything gone, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to go back. But the cottage has always been more than a physical space to me, more than a website or a business, it is a vision of life that I hold to, an ethos, one that I wanted to share with other women. Even women who live with spouses or partners and children that they love dearly often feel that aching loneliness that comes from living in a world today that is almost devoid of the enrichment that women’s circles historically held for women. And now so many women are alone, by choice, or chance, or circumstance, and the internet has provided a way to come together in a place that feels like a home, a virtual one. Some of the dearest friends I have today I have met in the last 15 year through this online cottage, some I have met in person, some I talk with on the phone, or Skype with, and a great many have become very dear friends on Facebook or other online platforms, but nowhere have I felt the incredible depth of communion that I have in this community.
The women’s circle I created to go with The Spontaneous Art & Life Project has grown into something so astoundingly beautiful, so richly layered, a place where women of all ages and from all walks of life and from around the world have gathered in a kind of communion and caring for each other that I have cried from sheer joy to see this happening again. It was time to return to Dragonfly Cottage Community For Women, and under the auspices of this community there will be a great many things offered. The Spontaneous Art & Life Project with eBooks every other week, daily podcasts, and more are part of this community. Everything that I create, and there is a great deal coming soon and throughout the rest of the year and beyond, will be included in the membership fee. Live events are coming soon, phone conferences, teas, our ning community is about to open and Oh! I am bursting with joy over all that is to come.
I will be working on the new page for the community over the next few days but if you go to the page now there will be a link to The Spontaneous Art & Life Project and you can see a great deal that is already offered and join from that page. In a couple of days our new page here will be up and running.
And so I will close here. It is time for me to head into the creation of the 5th eBook the women in the community will receive this coming Monday, 30 or so pages of journal prompts, meditations, artful living and more, lots of fun blank pages to use but very content rich. I love creating these books and each one is different, a delight and a surprise. I have come full circle, coming back to my cottage community for women, and one day soon I will be able to go home to the newly rebuilt cottage, and both sides of my life will be woven together into a beautiful tapestry. My heart is at home at Dragonfly Cottage, both here on the coast of North Carolina, and in our virtual community. How deeply blessed I feel, and am…
Many joyful blessings to each and every one of you…