3 dreams

 

1. Night again. I am restless; I toss and turn. My skin itches. I brush my hands across my body in revulsion and fear, trying to ward off the prick and bite of the insects I feel crawling over me. I feel sick. I don’t know if I am awake or dreaming. The sensation continues. I focus on the movement, recognizing the signs and strokes. Someone is writing on my skin. I feel the itch and scratch of vowels, consonants. I strain to decipher the symbols; I can barely make out the words. In the morning, the sheets are crumpled, violently, blurred with blood and ink. There are missing letters everywhere.

 

2. The corridor is empty, and long. I am searching for her. Fluorescent lights throw a naked glare, leaving dark hollows, deep shadows. The walls are rectangles of dull grey-green tile. I am trying to find her in this wretched place, this place we have been before. I remember her eyes, terror-stricken, as I pleaded with her to talk to me. “Something bad is going to happen tonight,” was all she said. I didn’t know if the danger was real or imaginary. She could not be persuaded to say anything more. She had to be very quiet; the voices were screaming inside her head. And then she was gone.

 

3. He is here, again. Here. I reach out to touch him; he is flesh and blood. I inhale the wild scent of him. He is hot-bright, emanating light, casting away all my darkness. Above me, his skull is blinding white. I reach for him, my arms encircling his skeleton. His bones crack and pop, his eyes are black sockets. He is inside me, so deep inside me he is part of me; he inhabits me. My body disintegrates into waves of energy as he takes me further and further into bliss, nothingness, the dreamless sea. I do not want to return. He says “not yet,” breathing the words into my mouth, bringing me back to consciousness. I wake up crying. I don’t know why.

 

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spring book giveaway

Persephone's Affliction by Michelle Augello-Page

 

In honor of Spring, I’m giving away a copy of my illustrated poetry chapbook, Persephone’s Affliction!

This giveaway is sponsored by amazon.com. It is completely free to enter, and if you win, the cost of the book + shipping is all taken care of.

Click here to access the giveaway. All you need to do is sign in at amazon, then click on the box, and it will automatically let you know if you are a winner.

Thank you for participating, and good luck!!

 

x


on letting go

letting_go_by_bandico-d5s1eyh

I’ve been wanting to write about letting go for some time. However, something kept holding me back. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say because, the truth is, letting go is not always easy for me. It’s not always difficult, either. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I wanted to write a post about it, because sometimes writing posts on specific topics gives me a place to explore the topic more deeply.

My general idea about letting go is often defined by it’s opposite concept: holding on. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to give up. I’d say I’m more the type of person who likes to keep trying. I will think a thousand ways around a problem in order to find a solution. It’s in my nature to analyze in order to understand things. Nevertheless, I also understand that sometimes there are things that can’t really be understood, and we need to make our decisions and choices with nothing more than intuition, a deep trust in the universe. I think that knowing when to let go is a little like that.

There’s a balance between holding on and letting go, it’s a dance we engage in constantly throughout our lives. From the moment of birth, we form our first attachments; we also grow and change, establishing a cycle of learning how to let go. As we evolve and move through different stages in life, it is necessary for us to leave the past behind in order to step into our future. Sometimes we hold on to things, even if these very things are preventing us from moving forward. Sometimes we hold onto these things especially for that reason, because we are afraid of change.

We repeat this cycle throughout our lives. When we are born, we do not know how to walk. At first, we do not even crawl. We are dependent on those around us to carry us, to feed us, to care for us. What propels a child to crawl? I think it is natural curiosity, the same curiosity that also propels a child to walk. During the process of being carried to crawling to walking is a constant exercise in holding on and letting go, even for caregivers, who are also receiving lessons as to when to hold on, when to let go. I do not remember what it was like to stand for the first time, on my own, but I imagine dizzying freedom.

In thinking about letting go, I’ve also thought a lot about the nature of attachment. In psychology, the nature of attachment refers to Attachment Theory, which basically seeks to understand the way we interact with and respond to people as rooted in the infant/caregiver dynamic, extending to different types of relationships. Attachment is a biological imperative, and the foundation of our interpersonal relationships. This is where we work out our issues surrounding love and trust, nurturing and caring, power dynamics, giving and receiving, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

As a parent, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that growth is rooted in change. Indeed, the only constant in life is change. With each life stage my children have gone through, I had to say goodbye to who they were at that particular stage, and also to the person I was during that time. In response to this, I have learned that parents need to grow and change with their children at each stage – essentially, holding on and letting go.

Since my own life has been one of constant flux and change, I’ve come to accept many aspects of holding on and letting go. This has affected how I parent, but it has also affected how I am. With everyone I know, I try to be conscious of the fact that we all change. The person I was yesterday is not necessarily the person I was last year, and I accept that we are always growing, changing, and evolving. When I engage with my children, I am looking at who they are right now, not who they were in the past, or who they will be in the future. When I look at my love, I fall in love with him each time I see him, because he is not the same person I saw the last time we were together. In this way, I have cultivated an awareness of the present moment, and of living in the present moment.

But still, I have trouble letting some things go. I’ve been thinking about different times in my life where I had to let go. Sometimes I have let things go with relative ease, accepting and optimistic about the future. Other times, I have had great difficulty letting go. Recently, my cat died. It happened very suddenly, and no one was prepared. I had a lot of difficulty letting go. I could not let go of the pain. My sense of loss was profound. I was very attached to my cat. I cried so much, I began to worry that my reaction to his death was too severe. I tried to think about all of the moments we shared, all of the things I loved about him. I had to let go of the loss and sadness I felt without him alive. I had to let go of trying to find a reason. I had to let go.

In religion, Buddhism in particular, attachment refers to the things which cause us suffering. Our attachments may be people, places, things, thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, etc. To put it simply, the reason for our suffering is rooted in the idea of holding on and letting go. We hold on to what is impermanent. The reason we suffer is because everything in life is impermanent. It is only through letting go that we can achieve enlightenment … meaning, understanding that our attachments are mired in our own preoccupations, our possessions, our obsessions, even – but all of these things are impermanent and fleeting in the great cosmic dance of life. So you have to let it all go, to just be. That place of being is my understanding of enlightenment.

Of course, enlightenment is the goal. It is not quite as easy to live in moment and to “just be” as it is to explain what that means. I feel that there are moments where I have engaged this state of mind during meditation, writing, and sex. But I do not feel that I am living in the moment on an everyday basis. I’m aware of my attachments, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

For example, I have a lot of books. I guess I’m attached to books. When I moved, the primary thing I had to move was my books. I don’t have a lot of clothes or shoes. I don’t have a lot of furniture. I don’t have a lot of things, in general. But I do have a lot of books. I don’t think it is a problem, because I don’t have to sculpt tunnels through the house (I have bookshelves, counters, only one or two piles), or spending an exorbitant amount (I get most of my books used). I’m aware that I’m rationalizing … I know that I have a psychological attachment to books, as much as I love the physical object. It goes deep.

Every once in a while, I donate books. I do it consciously. I go through my bookshelves, looking for ones to part with, making room for new books. In this sense, I’m letting go. I’m still holding on, but, I guess that subconsciously, I’m seeking to balance my attachment. As humans, we are biologically predisposed towards attachment. It is part of how we have evolved as a species, and how we continue to evolve. Nevertheless, from the moment our earliest attachment bonds form, we are in a continual balancing act of holding on and letting go.

As we get older, we grow and change sometimes in less noticeable ways than we did when we were children, yet the process is the same. Sometimes, we need to let go of relationships that have become hurtful, jobs that no longer serve us, places that constrict us, people who control us. We need to let go of the past in order to make way for the future. And although it is difficult to live a life free of attachment, we need to at least question our attachments, to be aware of them, to make sure that they are healthy and promoting our overall growth. The most important step in balancing our attachments is also the hardest: we need to discern when to hold on and when to let go.

Finding this balance and level of discernment can be challenging. Sometimes we stay too long in bad situations, afraid to change, holding on because we are afraid to let go. Other times, some people do not try hard enough, they give up too easily, letting things go because holding on would take too much work.  I think that when most people think about letting go, the connotations include putting the past behind us, freeing ourselves from a bad situation, and accepting one’s limitations. However, we also are letting go when we open our mindset or challenge our belief systems, when we accept creative energy and flow, and when we accept change without fear, as a vehicle towards evolution. Letting go means to release something, to free something. When we exhale, we let go.

There is also an aspect of control when it comes to attachments. It almost seems in human nature that the first step after attachment is the need to possess. When a child becomes attached to a favorite toy, the child will cry if the toy is not ‘there’. Sometimes children like to collect things, because they are so attached, they need more of them. We carry these behaviors into adult life in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We want to possess things, as well as people. The root of this possession is our attachment, and all of the layers of meaning that we’ve attached to it. I think that control plays another role too, in the sense of general control that we have over our lives. Control is in many ways an illusion. When things happen that threaten our sense of control, it can be very disorienting and confusing. We don’t understand why some things happen. They just do. Sometimes letting go means letting go of the illusion of control, and allowing trust to carry you on part of your path.

As humans, our attachments are many. We bond with people, animals, plants, places, things. We wrap our self-identity in our attachments, seeking definition and meaning from them, telling us and others who we are. I think it is this enmeshing of identity and attachment where people find the most difficulty letting go. We can be so attached to a person, a place, a state of mind, that we lose ourselves in mirrors, powerless, afraid to change. And yet, we still change.  We always do. Whether by circumstance or by choice, we change. And in the process, we subject ourselves to forming attachments, over and over again, certain to hurt us. We hold on, learning what it means to live, to love, to grow. We want to hold on to what is impermanent – life, time, money, illusions, possessions, everything. We let go, over and over again, we let go.

I’m going to close here with some quotes I found about “letting go.”

Holding on is believing that there’s a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.
—Daphne Rose Kingma

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.
—Hermann Hesse

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
–Lao Tzu

Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.
—Osho

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.
—Deborah Reber

What happens when you let go, when your strength leaves you and you sink into darkness, when there’s nothing that you or anyone else can do, no matter how desperate you are, no matter how you try? Perhaps it’s then, when you have neither pride nor power, that you are saved, brought to an unimaginably great reward.
—Mark Halperin

It is by giving the freedom to the other, that is by letting go, we gain our own freedom back.
—Aleksandra Ninkovic

Even as I hold you, I am letting you go.
—Alice Walker

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
— Havelock Ellis

Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.
– Anais Nin

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
– Joseph Campbell

Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.
– Ann Landers

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.
– Deepak Chopra

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leap

In honor of today being February 29, I am reblogging a post I wrote in 2012, which was the last time we encountered a leap year! Hope you all enjoy this special day. x

michelle augello-page

Harpers New Monthly Magazine, No. XX. January, 1852

Happy February 29th!

It is a rare day, one that only occurs every four years ~ giving the entire year a new name: a leap year. The leap year’s extra day occurs to “balance out” our calendar. One Earth year does not take an exact number of whole days. Our calendar year is 365 days, but the earth’s rotation around the sun actually approximately takes 365.2422 days.

As a person who doesn’t hold much for standard units of measuring time, I find this extra day added to the calendar quite amusing! It tickles me the same way that Daylight Savings Time does – I think of it as a joke we all agree to play – let’s all set the clocks back, and then forward, and then back again! We are so civilized that we can control TIME!

According to my…

View original post 1,228 more words


natural cold remedy

IMAG0076

 

Since September, I’ve been *almost* sick three times. Each time, I used this natural cold remedy at the very onset of symptoms. Within a day or two, my cold symptoms were completely gone. After the third time, I told a friend, “I feel like I need to share this recipe with the world!” Then I realized, I can share this recipe on my website!

I don’t usually share recipes here. However, I plan on sharing more of them in the future. The truth is, I’m a total foodie. I love cooking and baking. I’ve been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for about 25 years, and I also enjoy vegan cooking and baking. I use all sorts of natural remedies for different things, from health to beauty.

This cold remedy is very simple and uses all natural ingredients that you can find at any local grocery store: lemon, ginger, honey, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

I created this recipe in a similar way to how oxymels are created; however, instead of herbs, I decided to use ingredients that would combine to form a super-concoction against colds.

 

Natural Cold Remedy

In a pint sized jar (you can reuse a clean, sterile bottle of jam or jelly), combine 1 lemon, roughly chopped (including the rind, pulp, juice, everything) and about 2 inches of ginger root, roughly chopped (include the outer skin as well). Put both the chopped lemon and the chopped ginger into the jar.

Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of Turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of Black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper.

Pour honey over the ginger and lemon mixture, until the jar is about 3/4 full.

Top off the remaining 1/4 of the jar with Apple Cider Vinegar.

Shake to allow the contents to settle. Add more Apple Cider Vinegar to fill the jar completely.

Place the jar in the refrigerator. Ideally, you should wait at least a few weeks to use, but it can be used within a couple of days if needed. This remedy can sit for months. As it is used, you should top off with honey and vinegar to replenish.

 

Directions for Use

Shake the jar to make sure the contents are well combined. Place 3-4 tablespoons in a small mug. Pour hot water (at least 1/2 cup) over the mixture and stir. Upon tasting, you can adjust as needed. If you put more water in, use a little more of the remedy to balance the flavor. If the taste seems too acidic, add a little more honey. If it is too sweet for you, add a little more ACV. You can also add additional lemon and ginger to taste. Drink 1 – 2 cups daily until cold symptoms are relieved. You should feel better soon! x

 

Why This Cold Remedy Works

Lemons are high in Vitamin C and Potassium, which boosts the immune system. They also contain flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. Lemons are also alkaline, and helps balance pH levels in our bodies. They also flush out our systems, aid in digestion, and lower the body temperature.

Ginger has numerous properties including antioxidant effects. Ginger aids in digestion, reduces inflammation, and relieves nausea, upset stomach, and pain. It also stimulates circulation, and helps promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds. Ginger inhibits rhinovirus and bacteria. It has long been used in treating the common cold, as well as fighting cancer.

Honey contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. Honey is a natural antibiotic. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and helps ease coughs and other throat problems, as well as upper respiratory infections. It can be used also give a boost of energy to one’s system. (Note: Do not give honey to children under 1 years old)

Apple Cider Vinegar is high in acetic acid. I like to use Raw, Unfiltered ACV because it contains “the mother” which contains strands of proteins and enzymes. ACV is antiseptic, inflammatory, inhibits bacteria, and is thought to contain some cancer fighting properties. It is acidic, and it helps balance the body’s pH levels. ACV also helps give the body energy.

Turmeric is a spice (dried, powdered root) that has long been used in Eastern Medicine to prevent and fight disease. It contains powerful antiflammatory properties. It’s main component, Curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant which has been used to treat and prevent cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, liver damage, depression, high cholesterol, pain, and many other things. Curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, which damage healthy cells. (Note: Black pepper helps the body absorb turmeric)

Black pepper, when used in conjunction with Turmeric, can boost Turmeric’s health properties dramatically. Black pepper also improves digestion and promotes intestinal health. Black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties, and has  impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effects.

Cayenne pepper is used to help digestion, upset stomach, intestinal gas, stomach pain, cure diarrhea and cramps. It is also used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including to improve poor circulation, to lower high cholesterol and to prevent blood clots and heart disease. It is also used to help lower fevers. Cayenne pepper also contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties.

 

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happy new year

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Happy New Year!

My annual new year’s post is a little late this year. Last year, I was a little early. My concept of time is generally elusive, but I do love celebrating the new year.

For me, celebrating the new year begins with the Winter Solstice. It is during that time that I begin to take stock of all the things that have happened during the past year, and honor both the dark and the light that I’ve encountered. Looking forward to January 1st, I start making a list of resolutions. I take down the list I wrote the previous year (which I keep up all year as a reminder), noting which resolutions I have succeeded in meeting, and those I still have yet to reach. I am a list-maker year round, but my list of new year’s resolutions is a very special list. It provides me with an outline for the next year, and it also gives me a definite checkpoint to see my progress from the previous year.

At the very beginning of last year, I re-connected with an amazing man who I had met only once before, several years prior. We decided to get together for dinner. Neither one of us had any expectations for romance, but sometimes life hands you an unexpected gift. By the end of our first time hanging out, we could not deny the connection between us; it was electric. Since then, we’ve experienced the kind of love relationship I had begun to think simply didn’t exist. We connect on every level – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. We treat each other with respect and treasure our time together. This is truly the kind of love that lights one from within, that lifts one higher, encouraging one to do more, to be more. He is kind and loving, stable and reliable, generous and giving. He is also very intelligent, passionate, and artistic. I feel tremendously lucky to have found him, here. There is a boundless freedom within our relationship, a kind of romantic-mystical encounter with the beloved. Needless to say, we will be celebrating our one year anniversary at the end of this month – a relationship milestone that seems too short a time for the depth of relationship we share. Experiencing this relationship has been the most unexpected and wonderful part of the past year.

I also had some other positive things happen in 2015.

I published my illustrated poetry chapbook, “Persephone’s Affliction.” This work is very close to my heart, and I simply love it. I think it is a very solid collection of poems and art, and I feel very proud of it. I’ve received some very generous feedback from people about the book, and the whole experience from creation to publication has been extremely positive. Since then, I have been working on new stories in relative seclusion which makes me very happy. I am trying to push myself a little further, to venture into new territory, and to delve deeper and expand my skill-set. I have also been thinking about putting together a new collection of stories, but right now I am simply creating. Publication is far from my mind at this stage, but it is nice to have a general shape in mind for a new collection in 2016.

About six months ago, I decided to leave social media in favor of spending more time working on my craft and decided to limit my internet activity to email, research, and my website. I confess that I have since had a fling with tsu, but my activity there is very minimal. Leaving facebook was a definite positive for me. First of all, I was not very active on the site, but I did feel a certain amount of pressure to be present, and to post things every once in a while. I strongly feel that being somewhat introverted put me at odds with something like facebook from the very beginning. I also feel that facebook really exploits their users in terms of privacy, information, and illusion, and encourages people’s tendencies towards egocentric and narcissistic behavior. My innate introversion, combined with a high sensitivity and empathy, would sometimes make facebook a harrowing experience. Just scrolling through the newsfeed could sometimes be too much, a barrage of information, a megaphonic void, a distorted window into other people’s lives, experiences, thoughts, opinions, pictures, etc, etc. It is not that I am insensitive, it is that I feel too much. It was difficult for me to shut out all of the pain, sadness, desperation, selfishness, bravado, hypocrisy, and egoism I’d encounter on a typical day. Finally, I didn’t really understand why I was using facebook in the first place, or really why anyone was. It began to feel like a well orchestrated distraction. I began to see social media as the new opiate for the masses. And though I know that millions of people are happy with facebook, leaving was the right thing for me to do.

Another positive thing that happened this past year was my return to yoga and meditation. This has been an ongoing process, and I am grateful that I have always found my way back to the mat. I feel like this return has also helped bring me back to my spiritual center. Recently, I’ve decided to reconnect even more strongly with my spirituality, and I have begun to attend meetings at a local Unitarian Universalist  church. This religion is very different from my Roman Catholic upbringing, which I feel ultimately caused a disconnect between my feelings about church and god/spirituality. The Unitarian Universalist religion makes sense to me, and it seems like there is a higher level of thinking about things as present in the sermons and overall philosophy. I also like the sense of connection and shared feeling of community I’ve found there. I am looking forward to continuing my practice in 2016.

2015 has also been a year of devastation in some ways, especially as it extends to the world.

At the close of this year, I can only hope that where there is pain, there will soon be joy; where there is darkness, there will soon be light; where there is hate, there will soon be love; where there is sickness, there will soon be health; where there is hurt, there will soon be healing; and where there is war, there will soon be peace. Blessed be, to all beings everywhere.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

Namaste.

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reading series 12.1

Persephone by Mia Araujo

 

The gorgeous image above is a painting of Persephone by Mia Araujo. I love finding contemporary artists who are also interested in mythology, and who find inspiration in some of the same myths and tales that have also inspired me. For more of Mia’s beautiful work, visit her website at art-by-mia.com

For this reading series, I wanted to share another early story of mine. I decided to share an unpublished story I wrote quite some time ago called “Between the Earth and the River Lethe.” This is a story that initially came directly from a personal experience, and was one of my earliest forays into writing fiction. It was also my first exploration into the Persephone myth, which has obsessed me for many years. Since it’s initial draft, I had revised and expanded the story, but there never seemed to be a place for it. Still, I like this story a lot, and I thought it would be a nice addition to this series.

Interestingly, the Persephone myth has found its way into some of my other work, beginning with a poem I had written which I called “Persephone’s Affliction.” From there, I began writing other poems that explored some of the themes in the myth. Later, I decided to compile the poems into a collection. The first form of the collection was a full length poetry book which included not only the relationship between Persephone and Hades, but also sought to express Demeter’s part in the myth and the mother-daughter connection therein. However, I felt that the collection was not working as a whole. After several other attempts, I decided to narrow down the collection quite severely, resulting in a chapbook length work which focused solely on the relationship between Persephone and Hades. I also decided to illustrate the chapbook, which became a whole other endeavor. Thus, my illustrated chapbook, “Persephone’s Affliction,” was born, nearly 20 years after my first encounter with the myth.

“Between the Earth and the River Lethe” had its first seeds of creation the day one of my classmates from my Greek Mythology class stopped me on the stairs, pulled a pomegranate from his pocket and offered it to me in exchange for a kiss. Little did I know then that the young man’s bold gesture would be stored in my poetic memory, and that the myth of Persephone would haunt me for so many years afterwards. From my perspective now, I can trace the paths that have lead me to Persephone in my work, and I think it is amazing how mysteriously the universe works.

You can read “Between the Earth and the River Lethe” here.

 

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