V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N ?


“You working?” the woman behind the counter asked me.

“No, vacation,” I replied as we both looked suspiciously at the jug of laundry soap going into my bag.

Laundry Soap? Somehow that doesn’t visually equate to vacation I guess. Flip flops and a beach towel from the Seasonal aisle, maybe.

Except it’s not a flip flops beach towel kind of vacation. It’s the week before my birthday clean house and ressess kind of vacation.

Clean house literally — top to bottom dusted, vacuumed, Swiffer wet-jetted and all! But clean house figuratively, as well. Moving things around, shaking things up, clearing out cobwebs.

I do this twice a year — on New Year’s, when I think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year, and on my birthday, when I think about what I want to change.

(It’s the only time of year when I use the word change liberally and with great enthusiasm!)

And you know how it is when you set an intention like that, don’t you? Everything conspires on your behalf!

From my Free Will Astrology horoscope to an angel reading, from the lyrics of a song to a test from the Universe, the message is clear: dig deep and make change.

But it’s not just about change. It’s about being quiet and listening to an inner voice for guidance. It’s about being true to myself, and taking right action, and making movement forward.

Hey! Maybe I am going some place this week after all!

Am I drawing the same cat again?

gu·ru [goor-oo, goo-roo] / noun
an intellectual or spiritual guide or leader; any person who counsels or advises; mentor.


As many of you know, one of my “gurus” is Rob Brezsny of Free Will Astrology. His weekly messages regularly serve as inspiration and food for thought as I make my way through this journey.

I am surprised at how often his words echo my own thoughts and experiences. I think I love the serendipity of that as much as I love his creative, riddle-like nuggets of wisdom.

This week’s message did not disappoint.

“Herbert Kitchener served as the British Consul-General in Egypt early last century. He wasn’t impressed with the creativity of the ancient nation’s art. “I can’t think much of the people who drew cats the same for 4,000 years,” he remarked. Is there an equivalent to this lack of development in your own life, Cancerian? Among your own activities, are there any whose history has shown no progression? Did you reach a certain skill level in some area of your life and then stop pushing to improve? This would be an excellent time to identify that knot of excess stability, and then get started on dissolving it.”

It’s not that my life is moving along without improvements. Goodness knows it is moving and improving and changing daily. But there are still some pieces that are kind of stuck.

I’m thinking, in particular of some projects “whose history has shown no progression.” My computer and art space are filled with them.

Some, like Les Deux Amis en France, a travel journal, are finally seeing the light of day (watch for details on Friday), while some haven’t gone anywhere in years.

Some I’ve made concerted effort to complete, like Alice Pretending, who finally showed her lovely face in July. And some, like the foolish princess and the woman who dances with the devil, may never have their day in the sun.

Still others demand to be seen. They have indeed enjoyed “excess stability,” hiding in the gigabytes of this computer for far too long. I’m talking about the writing that needs an audience — not just here on this blog, but out there. Printed, published, in people’s hands to read and sit with and consider.

If I am not drawing the same cats over and over again, surely I have been sitting here staring at them long enough. And it’s time to set them off to bigger and better things!

How about you? Are there some cats you need to shoo?

• • •

Original photo by Megan Payne (no relation, that I know of), on Etudes en Europe, with some digital enhancement.

Unfinished Business in 3-Part Form

Uriel and Camael

A Passing

This day.
This day
will surely go unnoticed.
It would by me
were it not for a small
thread of memory
that tip-toed across my thoughts
in the hours before dawn.

This day.
This day
will surely go unnoticed.
It is inconsequential
in the grand and complicated
and forgetful turnings
of this world
that you and I exist in.

This day.
This day
will surely go unnoticed.
It arrived with no fanfare,
for there is no marking of the day
that left me wild and undone
and full of life again—
except this.


A Message

Very often, the Universe speaks to me in the cosmic riddles of Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology. It does this most clearly when I come to a fork in the road and need higher guidance. Consider this, she says. Does this fit as new direction, and can you walk a while this way?

I was not at a particularly major fork in the road last week. It merely marked the five-year anniversary of a change of heart.


Not merely at all.

To understand completely, you would have had to exist inside that box with its four appropriate sides, the perfect corners, and the lid sealed tightly shut.

To understand completely, you would have had to be there when, in an instant, the walls were shattered and the lid exploded—and everything around me changed.

I changed.

Not merely at all.

Five years removed, I will tell you—matter of factly—that I use all of that to fuel and feed the work of this new life—my art and my writing. I will explain that the moment of all of that then is still a catalyst now.

To which the Universe aptly responded last week:

This would be an excellent week, Cancer, to grieve madly and deeply about the…affairs that shattered your heart. I’ve rarely seen a better astrological configuration than there is now for purging the residual anguish…. So I suggest you conduct a formal ritual that will provide total exorcism and bring you maximum catharsis. Maybe you could build a shrine containing the photos and objects that keep a part of you stuck in the past, and maybe you could find the bold words and innovative gestures that will bid goodbye to them forever. Do you have any intuitions about how to create a rousing healing ceremony?

Amen, Rob.


A Choice

Five years ago, my heart was ripped open. And into it poured the most glorious streams of inspiration I have ever felt. The details of the how and why are inconsequential, and too irrelevant for rituals or shrines any longer.

There are, however, residuals. The aftermath of that tsunami of inspiration exists now as notations of memory—pieces of art and words. Ideas rest half in my studio and half in my heart, calling out, from time to time, demanding my attention.

Do I honor them and bring them to completion?
Do I purge them and make room for new life?

Do I exorcise them from my heart for good?
Or do I call forth forgiveness in their fruition?

In which “letting go” comes the final healing?

• • •

Poem, A Passing, by Jen Payne, ©2011.

– – – – –

With Gratitude…In the darkest moments five years ago, the Archangel Uriel came to me and sat with me and spun my tears into inspirations. I am beyond words of thanks to be able to reprint the painting above as part of this post. Entitled “Uriel and Camael Angels of Creativity & Joy,” it appears here with sweet permission from artist Katrina Borneman.

Kat has lived in San Francisco for the past 15-years where she paints, has her own Spiritual Life Coaching business and is a Religious Science Practitioner teaching spiritual growth classes and workshops. Kat currently has her studio in Sonoma where she enjoys the warm, sunny summers of the Valley of the Moon. She is a founding member of the Park Presidio Art Association in San Francisco’s Richmond district. Over the past several years Kat’s work has become more intuitive, divinely inspired and guided, resulting in the Grandfather Moon, Spirit Guides & Angels and now the 108 Spirit Guides series. Critics say that Kat’s paintings are “bold and have a wonderful and playful use of color.”

“I believe we’re spiritual beings having a physical human experience on our sacred earthly mother. Painting is my spiritual sustenance, feeding my soul and connecting me to my Divinity. My painting is the out-picturing of my vision Rich Heartful Celebration and my purpose Bringing Spirit to Life. Captivating, vibrant colors are the common thread throughout my work. When I paint it feels like dancing & playing naked in the sun – a natural force flows through me moving color over the paper or canvas while mysteriously capturing the essence of the subject over the form. All Life is creative and I am honored to share my creative expression with you.”

Please visit her wonderful online gallery and website.

– – – – –

Special thanks always to Rob Brezsny and Free Will Astrology.

• • •

Where are you going?

Where are you going?

Do you know where you’re going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know?*

Twice a year, I sit back and reflect.

In July, on my birthday, I ask: what am I not doing that I want to be doing? where am I supposed to be?

In January, at New Year’s, I ask: what do I want to do next? where am I supposed to be?

It is the huge juxtaposition in my life. The big irony. (The cosmic joke?) For as much as I loathe/fear/resist/avoid CHANGE, I am LOST without it.

So, twice a year, I reflect.

What will I change?
What will be different?
What will be better?
What needs to go?

What will I learn?
What will I do?
Where will I go?
What will I see?

What leaves?
What stays?
What do I dream?
What do I wish?

I reflect. And then I make a list.

I don’t call them “resolutions”—you might as well give up before your start with that moniker. Instead, I take a cue from my lovely Feng Shui guru Sharon and call them “intentions.”

What do you INTEND to do next?

It’s not an easy process, but it’s not as belabored as it sounds, either. We all have an inner GPS that lets us know if we’re on the right path. If we’ve detoured a bit from our purpose. If there are roads we haven’t traveled yet, or roads we’ve been on for too long.

For me, New Year’s is just a time to pay attention to that for a while. Take some readings, make some adjustments, plot a new course.

So…what are YOUR intentions for the New Year? Where are you going?

• • •

Another of my gurus is Rob Brezny. Rob writes the most profound horoscopes each week under the guise of Free Will Astrology. This is his prediction for my 2011.

“Decades ago, the U.S. built a network of sleek expressways to make it fast and easy for cars to travel between cities. But like many of America’s impressive engineering feats, this one took little account of what the human soul might enjoy. Ugly buildings or empty spaces surround many of those roads. Visually, the difference between I-95 in Georgia and I-74 in Illinois is negligible. “The Interstate highway system has made it possible,” said Charles Kuralt, “to go from sea to shining sea without seeing anything.” You cannot afford to let this be your operative metaphor in 2011, Cancerian. Your potential for rapid, extensive progress is sizable, but it would be a mistake to barrel along with your eyes fixed on the prize in the distance as you neglect what’s happening along the way. Be both global and local; romance the details as you revel in the big picture.”

Check out yours at Free Will Astrology. He has a gift!

• • •

Related Links:

• Photo by Harris Qureshi, Travel + Leisure Photo Contest

Home & Harmony, Sharon McNamara, Feng Shui Consultant

*Theme from Mahogany, written by Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin.

Swimming with Dolphin

Mermaid and Dolphon

Last night I dreamed of dolphins. Then one. One dolphin. He was in a large pool in a store or a zoo or a mall. My cats, Crystal and Emily, were there. We were shopping. And then I was swimming with the dolphin.

As I slept soundly, curled around Crystal’s warm little body, I felt such joy in my heart. A dolphin!

And then I was sad. Suddenly, there wasn’t enough water in the pool!

I apologized to the dolphin. I called for help. I ran through the store, the zoo, the mall—trying to get enough water. Trying to find something I could do!

And then I woke up.

Later, coffee in hand, I paged through Ted Andrews’ Animal-Speak, looking for a little insight. I have never dreamed of dolphins before!

The dolphin, it turns out, is a symbol for breathing and rhythm. Its close relationship with water gives it the essence of creation, life, and new dimensions. To early Christians, it was a symbol of salvation, and for the ancient Greeks, it was a sacred messenger of the gods.

“When dolphin shows up,” Andrews writes, “it is time to breathe some new life into yourself. Get out, play, explore and most of all breathe.”

There’s a theme here.

Just the day before, I’d received my weekly horoscope courtesy of Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology. Rob has a gifted ability to tap into the stars and present you with wild, whimsical, magical thoughts for the week ahead.

I always know when my course is aligned with the Universe, because Rob’s words echo my thoughts and dreams as if he were my best friend.

“Don’t try harder, try easier,” he wrote this week. “Don’t turn your focus into a white-hot beam of piercing intensity; relax your focus into a soft-eyed enjoyment of playing around with the possibilities. Don’t tense your sphincter, marshal your warrior ferocity, and stir up your righteous anger at how life refuses to conform to your specifications; rather, send waves of tenderness through your body, open your heart to the experiment of blending your energy with life’s unpredictable flow, and marvel at the surprising revelations and invitations that are constantly flowing your way.”

Everything will just work out, he reassures me.
You don’t have to control everything.

Dive into the unpredictable!

Swim in the water of something new!

And above all else—breathe!

• • •

Photo of Mermaid and Dolphin sculpture by Connie Butler. Posted here with her permission. Thanks, Connie! (www.conniebutlersculptures.com)

And as always, thanks Rob! (www.freewillastrology.com)

Copies of Animal-Speak can be purchased here.