1001 vows and an appearance by the queen of shovels

Dear Ones,

Blogs like real life have happy days and sad days.
Would it be a real blog if only cheer accompanied?
And only curly-ques and flourishes kept house at
the Red Thread Inn for wondering souls?
Our sorrow is what keeps us human
and keeps us reaching for God.
And as an artist, a poet, a mystic,
my palette is not complete without enough
shades of

Making art, through sadness and anger
and despair is how to keep it moving through
our bodies and our spheres. I know that when
I share my darkest hours – you write back to me
grateful someone has admitted the gloom
without allowing it to take over.

And so this bizarre writing is more of a riff
than a writing. More of a broken stone than
a crystal. More of an abstract than a composition
but still, it is a real slice of life. Frosting withheld.

Wherever you are today. I send you love.
The seagulls send you greetings from Tomales Bay.


Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter if you have broken your vows a 1000 times,
come and yet again, come.


after 1000 broken vows the queen of shovels makes an appearance

After 1000 broken vows
We will rise again. I promise.
Surrendering to the mystery
of knowing or not knowing.
We finally understand
that we will not do
everything we say we will.
This confession should feel like a relief.
We have transcended getting it right
when we finally get it that we won’t.

We can finally let ourselves off of our own meat hooks
when we finally know that integrity
comes and goes. And we just have to keep trying.
That perfection is illusively granted
and highly over-rated. (give it up)

When we realize one fine day
that in the night our truths lined up single file
and went out for a midnight spree
and didn’t come home and we wake up


Then it is time to begin again.
To invent oneself anew.
To forgive ourselves and others
and to take the armor of the heart OFF.
And Breathe. Better that the heart
be broken 1000 times
then never open all.

Leonard Cohen reminds us:
There is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.

After all the promises and all the dreams broken
open by love and effort and fervent passion –
we have many tools to choose from. We do!

We have perspective. Experience. Humility
and longing. Oh that relentless longing.
And, thankfully, we have many, many shovels.
A friend said to me last night:
you think you are going to save the world?
you aren’t.

The sound of water lapped at his words
and a torrent of anger spilled from me like a flood.
I KNOW! My usually calm demeanor shattered
in 1000 hot sparks.

How then shall we proceed? T.S. Eliot queries.

And when those who are called to serve
break one thousand pencil tips on 1000 future plans,
finally realize we will not be able to save the world.
We wake up. And keep waking up to what needs to be done.
But just imagine what it would be like if the hopeless dreamers
stopped dreaming of peace? The world might stop spinning.

It isn’t that I thought I would save it.
My job is to wipe the fevered brows of our creative musings
not demolish the hospitals that house our sicknesses,
though I do dream of revolution for breakfast.

As sit and gaze at Tomales Bay over Pinot Grigio
and write to you, to the stars and the sand,
I realize that every time I write something gloomy
I do it for all that day who are blue. Calling all blues!
(But then I receive 1000 notes of worry from the world
who want to know what is wrong with me. I am an artist!
Artist’s sensitivities and sensabilities are built from a different
fabric woven with 1000 red threads)

Don’t you know – we each who move in light
must also walk the dark valleys to wake up
to brightness again? It is ok to touch the strings
of disillusionment and pluck them until a pure
note comes out even if your fingers bleed.

And this is my truth: That I have no idea what is going on.
Nor do I claim to. I only know that we must create and keep
on creating.

But that whatever it is that is happening in our world,
I do know:

This is not a caravan of despair.

I am the Chief of Cosmic Cowgirls, rogue renegade women
who refuse the frames of the world and hand-tool their
own frames with rhinestones and chainsaws while
humming to the Dixie Chicks and making the whole enchilada
for supper.

Before the mending with red thread and Mary’s needle
– first the breaking.
Breaking open.
Like finding new truths like 1000 sand dollars
on honeymoon beach.

Alice Walker reminds us “The way forward is with a broken heart”

I am not the queen of joy or positive thinking
or secrets revealed. If I am queen of anything
it is the queen of shovels. Shovels for digging
through and excavating the lost parts of women’s
herstory, my own herstory. We who run with
wolves must also dig for bones.

The last dig revealed my paintbrush was too dry.
Covered in dust and cobwebs I cried at the sight of it’s
stiffened bristles. Fingered the crusted read paint
at shaft’s edge. Delighte in a sticky sparkle of glitter,
a shining fragment from happier times.

And so as I move through these Summer dirges made possible
through the grayest coldest summer days in the whole world.
Gray days are the friends of poets and artists and composers.

My paintbrush is covered in tears now
thankfully, and finally those dry bristles are wet
with the salt of me and the sea,
and ready to mark
a blank canvas with a new life.
A new vow.
Vow 1001 – I have been waiting for you.
I raise my glass to Rumi who knows.
And my Lord, who, knowing I would break 1000 vows,
broke for me first.

Yeats comes to my aid, an old
rag in one hand and a shining shovel in the other –
he calls to me too…

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

(Praises to the poets! I will meet you tonight
with my paintbrush in hand at the rag and bone
shop tavern down Highway 101 and we will
strum out our broken hearts while the raving
slut who keeps the till takes notes of our musings
and hands them to us with the bill. I could not
live without her.)

I don’t know how it all works
or how it will all work out.
I know love rules supreme and that I am
ruled by the house of the heart.

I know Jesus told me to love others as
He first loved me but I don’t know what that
means today. Though other days I feel it.

I know kisses are medicine
I know the ocean heals.
I know my mother loves me.
And I know I was born here on this soil
of Marin County, native to this beauty
which calls my soul to love.

I know we must move old energy
like clearing the house of yesterday’s smoke and stale ideas.
Open the doors open the windows
open the chimney and sweep out the cupboards of shame-filled crumbs.
Shake the rugs and empty the bottoms of the closets.
Dust off the cowgirl boots and put them at the foot of the altar
where the Icon of the Black Madonna glows for 23 women
who I met in circle last night.

The post office across from Cosmic Cowgirls University
burned to the ground with all of our letters and winning
sweepstakes announcements. Burning with it both my
mailboxes and the contents therein. The smoke of the matter
has left us choking with fear not entirely our own. We cry
for the lost letters of all lovers everywhere.
We grieve together in our village and it makes us
and think about what is up in smoke in our own lives -?

Ah then,
then write it all down or paint it all out
or sing it all out loud or dance it into the sky.
But whatever you do – don’t keep it locked inside.
The queen of shovels has sent you an e-shovel,
the post attached reads:

Just dig.

So in the final moment of this musing
dogged and drafted with sorrow and hope.
I beseech the Black Madonna
Mother of dark roots –
and red earth and bumble bees
mother of bright blooms and withered branches
help me to dig. Show us where to find the treasures
and how to excavate the glistening shards.


Me at Tomales Bay