Sunday, October 16, 2016

"Emerge and See" in Times of Emergency

(This simple epiphany came to me initially when Nashville flooded in 2010.  It comes to mind during times of flooding such as happened in Nepal last year and has occurred along the Eastern Coast recently especially in towns like Lumberton, NC and in the country of Haiti.) 

At lunch, I glimpsed news coverage titled "Flood Emergency Update." The word 'Emergency' caught my eye because I immediately saw tucked within another word - "emerge." Then I heard myself saying, "Emerge N C" followed by "Emerge and see."

I love words. They are simple yet powerful keys available for us to see the possibilities in times like these.

Imagine what is being held in this crisis if we can hold and use this as an opportunity to Emerge, to come out, to bring forth new ways of being, living and relating to one another and to Mother Earth.

Every emergency offers an opportunity for us to emerge and see the patterns, people and things that really matter.

Emerge and See with Me !
-Dawn! The Good News Muse 5/7/10, 5/01/15, 10/16/16

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Of Patterns, Papaw & the Patriarchy

(I originally wrote this in 2011, ten years after my grandfathers death. Yesterday it popped up in social media as a "memory" ..... moments after I realized today would be my grandfather's b'day. I reread this story and found it possibly more appropriate for what's occurring in our country today than it was in 2011. I hope you'll take a moment to read, share and consider how you are in relation to the patriarchy, control, or however you consider the challenges written of and evidenced in the world today. Then pause to meditate, pray or send good vibes to all.  - Dawn

This week at dinner I heard myself tell the cliff notes version of a story related to my father’s parents. I had not spoken details of this story aloud since summer when my 2ndcousin shared it.  

This cousin with whom I had never really talked at length and I had a random encounter in March at a high school basketball game. Now I know our meeting wasn’t so random.  I asked if he knew who the Native American man was in our family.  He told me a bit, but it wasn’t until August as I prepared to go to Cherokee that I called to talk further.  

Thirty years ago this year, I had seen a Native man in an old family photo.  My cousin was unable to fill in specific details about this mysterious man but I did learn Albert Crow was my grandmother’s grandfather, the unwed father of her father.  To those on prior branches of my family tree, to have a Native in the family and in an unmarried couple at that was something of deep shame.  Details are few because people refused to speak. 

Our speaking of the un-spoken loosed the bonds on other family un-spokens. My cousin asked if my father ever spoke of how my grandfather treated my grandmother.  This was the man we called Papaw, my father’s father who was so very controlling.  
My paternal grandparents prior to their marriage.
Today I see their photo and feel such sadness and compassion for them both. 
I shared how as a child I stood between him and my grandmother as he yelled at her.  I had also heard stories filtered through others after my grandmother’s death as to the abuse she had endured, abuse my father never spoke of but I suspect haunted him through life. 

At dinner this week while telling my friend of our family’s native kin and a bit of the above, I suddenly remembered this was December 23, the anniversary of Papaw’s death.  

Ten years ago he lay dying just down Natchez Trace in a nearby hospital.  My parents made the trip to sit in the ICU waiting room all day as I sat for periods of time with them. 

Each night after they returned home, I would check on him.  One night just prior to his death, he kept repeating two words.  “Lord’s prayer” over and over was all he said.  In my grandfather’s dying I glimpsed his terror.  I asked if he wanted me to say the “Lord’s prayer” with him or for him. He bluntly said, “No.”  I said it aloud anyway.  

My cousin shared how his own father did not speak to Papaw for decades because he could not bear how meanly his sister was treated.  He quit speaking to him until her death in 1981.

At the time of her death my grandfather, I learned, began to call his brother-in-law and ask forgiveness.  My cousin shared how his father listened at times quite regularly to my grandfather cry and share his sorrow.   

This morning I realize my grandfather, the frightened man who lay dying just down the street ten years ago represents the dying patriarchy and the frightened, vulnerable part of us all that tries to control situations out of discomfort or fear of loosing control.

Although I don't think of myself as controlling as Papaw, I too am part of the patriarchy.  That night at his bedside my intentions may have been good, but I exerted control, assumed I knew what was best as I said the Lord's prayer rather than honor his request. I said the Lord's prayer as a means to allay my discomfort as much as his.  I took control rather than risk vulnerability and share my heart's words, "I'm sad you're scared."

This holiday ten years after his December 23rddeath, I’m grateful to know Papaw found his confessor in my cousin’s father.  Ten years later in my own journey, I'm grateful to remember that speaking from my heart may make me feel vulnerable, yet it is in vulnerability that power lies.

In this time of changing patterns, as competition and control give way to compassion and community, I find myself wondering, "If greedy CEO's and lobbyists suddenly made themselves vulnerable and said 'We're sorry. Forgive us' could I hear them as my cousin’s father heard my grandfather?  Can I hear the fears of those who in their anger don’t even know they’re afraid or vulnerable, the many politicians and white men especially rallying behind cries for fewer restrictions on guns and the EPA?  Can I hold their fear as they unconsciously sense their numbers are diminishing as America becomes more diverse?  Can I offer the dying patriarchy compassion?

With awareness, loose threads from over the decades seem to find their place in life’s tapestry.  Broken connections are healed between the generations and in the greater connected web as we offer compassion through openness, vulnerability and a desire to understand.  
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 1
3 October 2016 first posted 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Message from a Morning Walk - Creativity and Will

From a couple of houses away, the cup's bright yellow caught my eye as I walked Monday morning. My irritation stirred upon realizing the cup lay wedged in the storm grate headed down the drain into Nashville's water system.

As I picked it up, I noticed a tree-shaped car freshener and half of a plastic egg in a clump of leaves and twigs over the drain as well.

The different shades of yellow reminiscent of summer's sun and flowers seemed perfect for the season. Yet my first thought was of the solar plexus, the energy center below the breast bone. Yellow is the color of the third chakra, the seat of will, creativity, energy, and passion whose element is the fire of the inner sun.

On this particular walk, I had just listened to a recording made while backpacking in the Grand Canyon. I had forgotten it but in the recording I heard myself say:

"In the beginning there was a fire longing to be listened to, gathered around, and explored. All souls that come to Earth agree to take a piece of that fire's energy and passion. We've free will to choose what we will do with that spark while we are here." 

Curiosity trumped irritation as I collected the trio of humankind's creation and turned to walk home only to see more yellow.

Scattered on the sidewalk were yellow leaves having fallen prematurely from lack of rain. The leaves  were the perfect reminder of Nature's creation resulting from Tree's inner fire.

I picked up the nearest leaf and stood holding the artificial and the authentic, the nature made and human made.
I walked home mindful of the stunning amount of plastic flowing through our lives and collecting in the oceans and landfills. I walked pondering how creative will invented plastics and how creative will with connected consciousness now has the opportunity to do something about the stunning presence of plastic on Earth.

The objects on the drain grate reminded me of the phrase "down the drain." Some say humankind as a whole is "down the drain" or certainly headed that way as artificiality trends more than the authentic and genuine.

Personally I'm often like the objects clinging to the grate, resisting going with the flow. If you were a fly on the wall in my home, observing my actions would tell you to what I'm committed. You would find me trying to get everything done on the never ending list (ordering and controlling my external world) and only episodically committed to my creative endeavors (birthed from my inner world).

Consciously using my energy or the spark of fire I carry is one of my greatest challenges. To really be clear and conscious of how I use my fire, requires turning off my devices and tuning into my greatest device, my body, heart, spirit and mind.

In the big picture, the objects I found or that found me, suggest we are already in Time's great drain. The cosmic egg has opened, energy pours forth and we now travel along in the flow of Time.

Over 7 billion of us each carrying fire's spark are here together on this amazing, creative, energetic planet Earth.

We only have moments and each moment, we choose how we use our will, energy, creativity and passion.

Each moment, we choose whether to invest energy and presence into creating more of the artificial, manmade or the authentic., Nature made.

Each moment, we choose whether to honor or ignore the spark we agreed to carry here on Earth.

Imagine that.

-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 27 June 2016

Link to "Plastic Whale" a company fishing plastic from the ocean and turning that plastic into boats. 
Click HERE for a "Messages in the Mess" another walk related musing.
Click HERE for a link to another Musing on Naming.
And HERE for a Grand Canyon musing on FIRE.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Paying Attention to the Nuts and Bolts of Life

I walk just about daily because movement is good for me, not in the eat-your-brussels-sprouts-they're-good-for-you way or I-met-a-goal way. I walk most mornings because I feel internally satisfied when I do whether I'm sweating profusely as has ensued this summer or bundled in three layers as happens often in winter. 

Yesterday early on while walking, I realized my satisfaction has more to do with being present. Yes, even though sweat stings as it runs into my eyes and there's not a dry stitch on me, I enjoy walking because I am present rather than just wishing my walk complete. 

Thank to presence, I am a Noticer. Twice lately as I've pondered how I've not seen many dead birds this Spring, I have come upon a young dead bird each time. I've blessed each as I held it before placing them under a nearby shrubs. 

It's common for me to notice the stuff of man's making that ends up as trash on the roadside. If I can joyfully pick up the trash (without resentment or judgement), I usually do. Oftentimes the odd assortment of rubbish becomes the stuff of a story. 

The manmade held a message yesterday mid-way down West Linden. I came upon something unusual and potentially hazardous scattered near a driveway. As I bent down to pick up the assortment of hardware, a thought zipped through my mind...

'Pay attention to the nuts and bolts of your life.' 

'That was definitely interesting,' I thought, as I placed the hardware on top of a nearby water meter by the homeowner's mailbox. 

I turned the corner a couple of houses down the street and there were more nuts and bolts scattered this time in the middle of the street. I'm guilty of not paying serious attention to the messages I receive so this time I picked up the assortment and kept them. Maybe I needed a literal reminder to pay attention and really consider the nuts and bolts of my day.

I turned left at the next street and within a couple of houses there they were, nuts and bolts, scattered about again. I grabbed these, walked down the street and there they were yet again. 

'Ok. Ok. I really got it,' I thought. I really DO need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of my day. My hands were full when I looked up to see a cup just large enough to hold the collection. I continued walking, my cup full literally and metaphorically. 

I chuckled thinking how I walked with hardware symbolic of my walking each day with "hardware" mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and energetically that I don't use to its full potential. 

Every morning this week, I had experiences of which I knew I was to write. Then as soon as I began, I allowed distractions to intervene. 

This morning would be different. In the ninety minutes, I had before work I would shower, get my lunch ready, then write. I would not stop to talk to the screenwriter friend I hadn't seen in years one street over who I happened to see trimming shrubs. (Failed that test.) I wouldn't stop to knock on the neighbor's door and tell them I could hear water running from the meter under their portion of the sidewalk. (Failed that test.) I wouldn't stop to talk with my elderly neighbor who often calls to me when she sees me outside. (Fortunately she wasn't out.)

But our hydrangeas were wilted and the lilies and balloon flowers needed deadheading. I placed the cup of hardware on the recycling can, turned on the hose and began. Fifteen minutes later I finished but not before wishing the Miata were in the drive. I'd rinse it since we're trying to sell it. 

I showered, ate, and sat down to write just as three work-related calls I was awaiting came in one after the other. Twenty minutes remained of the initial 90 I had and I wrote nothing in that twenty minutes. 

This is how my entire morning can unfold when I shift focus and loose energy. 

The nuts and bolts of my day are varied. Visiting neighbors, tending the yard, answering a text or checking Facebook aren't negative unless I allow them to derail me from what I know in that moment is to be my focus. When that occurs, which is all too often, I am not honoring my time nor my soul's calling. 

For me the most important nuts and bolts of my day are the parts and pieces of my life that I know and sense I am to value, but my actions don't value .... like the four written pieces I began this week. Honestly I only wrote the beginnings of the beginnings before allowing other things to intervene. 

So today as evening drew near, I felt compelled to feed the birds and refill the bird baths before ending this piece. I tuned in to ensure I wasn't distracting myself and headed out with seed in hand. My breath was taken by a hairless baby bird by the chair where I usually sit. 

I scooped it up and sat outside humming my gratitude and sorrow to it until its eyes closed. 

This was not a distraction for in one crystal clear moment I knew this dear creature whose earth journey was maybe all of one week was providing the most important piece to this story.

What matters most about the nuts and bolts of my day (and therefore my life) as I walk through it is I am aligned with the love that's inside me whatever I'm doing at any given moment. That's really all that matters. If I am aligned with the love that lives in me, I will then hold the stories that come through me with the same tenderness and devotion that I hold this baby bird.

So I leave you with this: What really are the important nuts and bolts in your life? How committed are you to them? 

-Dawn, The Good News Muse  24  June 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guns, Gender, God, and Grace - Thoughts on This Journey

As I hiked a new trail a week ago in the Smokies, I glimpsed a large feather hanging in front of me. I thought of a Native American headdress and instinctively reached up to brush the feather out of my eyes only to realize what I cognitively knew. There was no feather. 

I stopped momentarily. This got my attention as did the sun shining exceptionally bright through the cathedral of trees towering above me. Stopping allowed me to see the spider's web hanging before me. I sensed I needed to take a photo of this place. 

The photo confirmed what my body felt. Light from the Universe was pouring in from above as fuchsia light shown on the other side of the web (hanging vertically near the middle of the photo). 

As I continued hiking this land once home to the Cherokee, I was mindful of the unfathomable pain of being torn from home as white man claimed ownership of what wasn't his. I pondered how everything in life's web is interconnected. 

This was a new trail for me to be hiking. The further I ascended, while not knowing what lay ahead, the more sweaty, tired and self-focused I became. I periodically hummed "We are climbing Jacob's ladder," a song I never sing yet I assumed came to me due to climbing. Physically I was exhausted yet internally felt like I was walking in heaven on earth. Gradually I neglected my experience with the web and light 

....until I reached a place in the descent where I sensed something light-related happening. Again I took a photo yet this time I saw eyes in rainbow-colored light of lines and concentric circles traveling what to me felt like DNA. I hadn't a clue what this meant. 

That evening upon reaching my room, the first thing I did was read that fuchsia light represents forgiveness, mercy and transmutation. 

The Native souls of this soil got my attention through the feather as a means to get me to stop and see the spider web and the Light. Sorrow and pain have been transmuted throughout time as victims of violence offer their offenders forgiveness and mercy. (I think particularly of a story from South Africa that Andrew Harvey tells in which a woman whose son was killed during apartheid asked that the man, a white officer, visit her weekly and be her son since he had killed her (black) son. The officer passed out in the presence of this woman's mercy.) 

I fell asleep with just about every muscle in my legs and feet aching yet grateful I heard this Truth revealed as the Divine Light of Love pours to Earth and onto the web of all my relations (not just humankind but onto earth's soils and waters, as well as her plants, animals and trees). 

I fell asleep forgetting the rainbow bridge photo and not knowing until today that to some it represents the DNA ladder or bridge between heaven and earth and forgetting until moments ago that the rainbow flag represents the LGBT community. I fell asleep that night not knowing that in just over a day, publicity's light would shine on that very community targeted by violence in Orlando and stirring conversation, debate, attack, responses and reactions related to guns, gender, and God....

....and potentially providing an experience of grace if we are open. 

A deep breath comes from me as I write the line above for sorrow, outrage, trauma and fear prompt closing rather than opening. I know "closing" personally though I didn't loose anyone in Orlando. I also know that grace arrives through and after the weeping, raging and questioning. That present events, when we reflect, reveal how we are connected to these seeming horrors of the world. And reflection allows us to respond with mindful action. 

Just as I didn't know what lay ahead on the trail, we do not know at any moment what lies ahead. We make plans and fill our schedules yet we do not know what Mystery has planned. Yet just as I stopped and saw the web of connection and sensed I was to take the photo, when we stop, we are more likely to see how we are connected to one another. When we mindfully stop, we are more likely to see how external events are connected to our internal workings. Stopping allows us to sense what the next wise step (response) is. Stopping isn't passive. Stopping is actively accessing our beliefs, fears, judgements, the things that drive us unconsciously. 

Stopping to be with the depth of feeling can in some allow space for forgiveness and mercy to the offender as well as to those who will continue to offend through fear-based comments and stereotypes. 

We are on Life's trail or Jacob's Ladder as hummed through me. Contrary to the news when bad things happen, we are as a whole ascending. Consciousness is rising. Our capacity to Love greatly and deeply is increasing. We don't know what lies ahead yet we can know we are not alone. When we become self-focused due to discomfort (the fear of "other," those who are different, feeling vulnerable due to change) it is easy to forget that we are all connected in the greater web of life. It is easy to forget the Light, the light pouring in. 

I share what was shared with me in compassion for those who hearts are breaking, for those who will now live with a hole resulting from loss and I share this on behalf of the tortured souls who take life. The trauma, terror and alienation of their inner world must be unspeakable. 

May those of us who are in this time attuned to receiving Divine Light be anchors for mercy, forgiveness and wisdom so heartache, discord, and terror can be transmuted and Peace be felt by all Living Beings in Love's Great Web. 

Peace to you. 

-Dawn, The Good News Muse at 16 June 2016 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When Bird Food Became Soul Food

I try to provide equal access to all the critters in my yard when it comes to seed and nuts. Alas the chipmunks learned to beat the blue jays to the peanuts so I thought I was helping the jays when I placed peanuts head high on my deck in a clay dish.

This strategy worked a couple of days until I walked outside and reached for the dish and found this.

My first thought when I saw the four dove down feathers was a precious dove had left me a gift. Then I saw the rest of the story. Dove feathers were scattered about the corner of the deck. A hawk, the bird associated with messages, had fed on a dove. My joy quickly turned to regret for unintentionally  creating such an unprotected space for the dove to be eaten. 

Yet I was intrigued by the four feathers and one lone dove feather suspended 
in a spider web before me. 

Needing to return to work, I snapped photos and wondered as to the message Nature offered in this unexpected turn of events.

Days later while reconnecting with two dear friends in from out of town, one referenced the planet Saturn being related to foundation. When I heard this, the proverbial light came on within me. Suddenly I got it.

Dove had left me a gift and Hawk was the messenger. I remembered that "4" is the number related to building a foundation. I was being told to make my foundation of Love and Peace, qualities exemplified by dove. When I do this, everything that comes my way can be embraced and trusted as part of my inner growth in a beautiful way. 

Some days this is easy. 
Other days (when I'm accused of having intentions that are actually the accuser's projections or I'm  struggling with Lyme disease as happened shortly after the dove's gift) it's challenging to embrace and trust what's coming my way. 

What I'm certain of is the food intended for the blue jays became food for dove 
then hawk and ultimately soul food for me. 

And I am the feather (as are you) suspended in a web connected to Nature and Others who provide clues to this Earth journey. 

We are all, Nature and Humankind, participants in building if we choose a foundation of peace and love to lift Earth in this Time. 

-Dawn, (Most Days Still) The Good News Muse,

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dear Bill (Murray)

The audio file to this story is at Sound Cloud. Click on the title "Dear Bill...

Dear Bill,

Where do I begin? Where do I begin? 

This letter has had many incarnations. The first was prompted in February 2014 by the telling of “our story” while in the Apple store with a new, yet deceased, desk top. In an attempt to deescalate me, several Apple guys asked about my writing. They gathered around as our story became the main event. Apple employees are referred to as geniuses. In my case their getting me to talk was genius because hearing myself share tales of our encounters stirred me. The geniuses woke me. 

I’d like to write what I think is the more grammatically correct “awakened” me but can’t. Awakened implies, at least to me, something lasting and deep. And though recounting our relationship brought me joy I returned to sleep. As is my pattern, I pressed snooze on my life’s alarm clock.  A file on an old laptop actually ushered in that sleep.

The weekend following the Apple store encounter, I went seeking the Bill Murray file as I began the first letter to you. I randomly took one flash drive of many from the ziplock bag in which they’re kept. I anticipated finding the file to be a challenge. Instead your name was the first file I saw. I began to read. My heart sank. I felt nauseated. That file documented much of our relationship. I scrolled through my notes related to our many encounters and felt profoundly sad. Rather than be with the despair of the moment (as I encourage my psychotherapy clients), I avoided my despair and went metaphorically to sleep and literally to bed. That first letter was derailed and left incomplete. 

I began another letter this Spring after a dream in which I was about to share our story with someone who knew you. Before me lay a sheet of paper on which I frantically noted each of our encounters. Then just as I began to speak, someone else entered the room and the conversation changed. Your acquaintance asked how this interruption was for me as she needed to hear the new arrival’s story. 

I was fully honest for a change and replied, “I’m disappointed but Disappointment has been a close friend to me.” 

I awoke that morning with an emotional hangover from the dream. I knew it was time to write you. So I began again. This time as I wrote tears suddenly streamed down my face. I wanted to apologize, yes, apologize to you. As I wrote and cried, tears of sorrow turned to joy. I laughed while crying knowing “we” were getting free. (I know. How can “we” get free when you don’t even know me?)  

That evening I opened a plastic container that held one of my screenplays. This was the first time in 7 years I had looked at “Deadnuts.” It was in the room where I keep unfinished projects and things of nature that I find or find me like dead bugs, butterflies and bees - the small things on Life’s path that matter to me. 

I sat in the floor late into the night pouring over the script, notes and ideas. I had started a rewrite and changed the title to “Grow” just before the script entered the box. “Grow” involved GG, the Grass Guru, and Annie the last angel on Earth. All the other angels were in AA (Angels Anonymous) having admitted they were powerless over humans. And although I didn’t write that screenplay for you, I often thought you would have made a good Grass Guru.

As I sifted through through my notes and ideas, something stirred in me. I felt a sense of hopeful happiness, something I’ve not felt toward my creative self in a long time. As I read I thought, ‘I wrote this? I was creative.’ As I continued to read, something else stirred in me. Hopeful happiness met up with shock and anger. And lest I be dishonest, I felt betrayed. I know. There I go again. How can you betray me when you don’t even know me? Yet I felt a deep grief over these lost years of creativity. 

That letter to you started earlier in the day never ended thanks to Disappointment’s new found kin - Betrayal. 

As a writer I’ve learned writing involves rewriting. Fortunately in June, I began again. That letter was preempted by something actually good, a sudden trip to France. During that trip, I committed to completing this letter.

That was over four months ago.

So here I sit beginning a “Dear Bill” letter not knowing where or how this one will end. All I know is I must because each time I do a new layer is revealed. And equally important I must do this because things changed this year.

I knew something had shifted for me on our anniversary. Previously whenever February came around you entered my awareness.

This year I pushed thoughts of you away each time they surfaced. When February 26th finally arrived, I got out the framed clipping and photos from behind a door in the spare room where Redbud the cat sleeps. I should have known something was changing when the framed memento of our first having met ended up behind the door in rambunctious Redbud’s room. To my surprise, the clipping was dated February 25th

I was a day late. I had missed our anniversary and I didn’t even care. Of course you didn’t know “we” had an anniversary.

And lest someone reading this wonders if Jerry my partner of nearly thirty years knows about ‘us,’ he does. He was there the day our story began.

 * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was 1996. 

Initially outside Chicago’s United Center, Uncle Jerry and three boys played paper, rock, scissors. My nephews who were 3, 5 and 10 thought I was inside getting them Bulls’ souvenirs. Instead I was in line at Will Call awaiting five tickets promised to us through a player’s grandmother. Three months prior I began a campaign to secure five tickets to see my nephews’ favorite NBA teams, the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic, play. I hoped this surprise gift would provide a good memory during a difficult time, their parent’s divorce. My campaign was during the Michael Jordan era. The Bull’s ticket office personnel laughed in disbelief over my thinking I could call and buy tickets. How was I to know tickets were sold out years in advance.

I placed newspaper ads and wrote letters to anyone and everyone I could think of connected to the basketball world and Chicago (including Oprah and Jesse Jackson). It was Jerry’s idea to write the player’s grandparents who lived here in Nashville. The grandmother responded to my letter the day it arrived in the mail. I walked in from work to hear a message on my phone saying she had spoken with her grandson’s agent who would get us tickets. We drove from Nashville to Chicago on that promise. 

Growing cold, Jerry and the boys had just come inside when they, as I, heard my name called across the room. The noon game time neared. 

The sea of people parted as I stood face to face with an official who announced con artists could not come in off the street pretending to have tickets and that I needed to take my children and leave.

I pled with this man to tell the player’s grandmother she spoke with his agent about setting aside our tickets. 

My bewildered nephews huddled around asking if we were going to the game as tears rolled down my face. 

I’ve always assumed you were somewhere in the vicinity and heard my earnestness because the next thing I knew you were giving me a ticket and hugging me. I didn’t see your face. Actually I don’t know that I ever looked directly at you. My vision was focused on this one ticket before me as I thought, ‘This is Bill Murray. Be very calm.’ I recognized your voice as you apologized for only having one ticket. I must have continued crying because as you hugged me you said, “You’re going to make me cry if you don’t stop crying.” 

You left the area as Jerry, myself and these three dear boys circled around our holy grail wondering what we were going to do with one ticket. 

Suddenly you returned and were pulling me by the arm as I grabbed one nephew and Jerry grabbed two. You kindly but firmly got us past the ticket taker who said, “We don’t care if you are Bill Murray, you can’t bring people in like this.” 

You left us with a security guard who you said would take care of us. He suggested we each watch ten minutes of the game with the one ticket and that I put the three year old on my lap. Then he asked to see the ticket. I will never forget his exclaiming, “Lady, you're sitting by Mr. Murray center court. This ticket is selling for a thousand dollars on the street today.” He seemed as excited as we were. 

I flung Christian to my hip and promised to be back in ten minutes. When I showed the one ticket to the woman at the court entry, she said I had to have two. In probably the most bold moment of my life, I said, “I’m with Bill.”

She asked, “Bill Murray?” 

I said, “Yes” and kept right on walking. 

In retrospect it’s a bit telling and sad that that’s the boldest moment of my fifty-six years. 

Christian and I arrived at our seat as “Let’s get ready to rumble” heralded tip-off.  You asked what I was doing at the game. I explained the game was a surprise gift for my nephews whose parents were divorcing. You said, “You’re an ok aunt” and wrote “OK” by your name on a piece of paper on which I had written ‘Would you sign this four times?’ 

That’s about all we shared because I was afraid if I spoke my body would tremble and my voice would shake. Then just moments into the game an official told you Jerry and the two other boys were being kicked out of the facility because they didn’t have tickets. I’ll never forget you telling me to go with the official and something would be worked out. 

Holding my nephew, I made the walk to the ticket area aware I was experiencing a stunning emotional roller coaster. One minute I was desperate and sad, the next elated and high, the next panicked and desperate again. 

The official was apologetic. The tickets we had been promised were not there that day. Yet just as you said something did work out. We were offered three tickets that had not been picked up for the game. They were near the floor behind the goal. We could have each of them for fifty-five dollars, their face value.

My youngest nephew and I returned to our seat while Jerry and the two older boys watched from across the way. Tears trickled down my face during that NBA game as I quietly thought, ‘There is a God.’ 

Months later while rereading a journal, I found a plea to God written when my ticket campaign began. I had forgotten this yet penned in handwriting I recognized as my own, I read:

“Dear God, if you’re out there, please help me find a way to take my nephews to see the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic. I want to make this a memorable time in a good way, not just a sad way. I can be determined, but I need your help. I’m asking for basketball tickets, but I’m searching for a reason to live.” -Dawn 

It wasn't until posted this letter that I realized I wrote the above exactly twenty years ago tomorrow, November 26, 1995. 

The years surrounding my nephews parents divorce and the events that unfolded were dark for me. I really was looking for a reason to live beyond just going through the motions. You unknowingly were integral in the answer to that prayer. 

The framed momento I found behind Redbud's door.
I returned to Nashville and often shared the magic in Chicago with others. I always made the point of encouraging listeners to stay awake and aware as you were that day and to practice kindness as you did. I didn’t know at the time that with all good story what seems like an ending holds the seeds of beginnings. Yet our encounter birthed a mysterious new beginning for it was quickly evident something else was unfolding, a parallel process as you continued to show up in my life. 

Surprisingly when I told our story, I often received another story, another story involving… Russ my next door neighbor told me of spontaneously golfing with you. My friend Ann in North Carolina had a roommate who knew you in college. An acquaintance visiting one holiday told me his girlfriend managed property you rented in Colorado. 

And even more mysteriously, even when I wasn’t sharing the magic in Chicago, I received stories of you through odd encounters you had with my friends and strangers. At one pivotal moment, Jerry came home one day and told me he had just learned he knew someone who knew your sister. After I hiked out of the Grand Canyon, I found a phone message from friends telling me they kept running into you in the lobby of their hotel.  Another friend called one Monday to tell me she had just spent the weekend at her cousin’s wedding party where the groom had entertained her with stories of the two of you from your college days. There was a salesperson in Telluride whose husband taught your sons to ski and Beth in California who sent an email saying I wasn’t the only one whose nephew had met you. Attached was a photo of her nephew with you. 

In the midst of these encounters another beginning occurred. As a school teacher in my early twenties, I submitted a personal story to a magazine and was paid for its publication. Sadly I never submitted anything else nor did I write much except for scribblings in journals…until we met. Our initial encounter jumpstarted my writing. I wrote the story of the magic in Chicago and submitted it to several magazines. Then a friend suggested I write a screenplay. I bought a how-to book, hired a tutor, and cried my way through the first draft. 

Through this process, you were my spirit guide and muse for I continued to periodically hear stories of your being out there in the ethers making contact of sorts through my friends and acquaintances. Your odd presence, which I surely needed, helped me persist as I embarked on what proved to be more challenging than writing - getting someone connected to the business to seriously look at my screenplay. Part of the Bill Murray file chronicles my following the clues and cues I received as I was certain I had a movie in the making. 

I read of a local music row video producer who wanted to get into the movies, so I called and took him my script. The day he said he wasn’t interested, I walked down the street in tears. Two blocks into that walk I met a new neighbor who was an aspiring producer. I gave him my script and he later contacted me to inquire who I might know to fund the film. That wasn’t what I expected. This was long before the days of internet fund raising and was out of my league. 

I made cold calls to agencies and created stationary and response cards that I sent to agents, hoping someone might at least give my script a look. I had what Jean Houston calls “galloping chutzpah." Now when I recall that me, I wonder what happened to her? I got a few responses but none with the area checked next to "Send your script to me." 

The friend of your sisters who Jerry met agreed to give my script to your sister. This “in” became a dead end. I was told your sister loved the story you inspired but you said you couldn’t play a good guy in a movie. 

Around this time, we were following the Bulls in the NBA finals in what was probably Michael Jordan’s last games. I noticed Penny Marshall at the games in Chicago and thought she might be sensitive to a woman’s story so I spontaneously bought airline tickets and flew with my script and Jerry to Chicago. We went our separate ways in hopes of finding Penny Marshall and possibly affordable tickets. As I roamed the immense crowd in search of Penny, a guy walked up wearing a sandwich board that read: “Will dance naked for tickets.” He asked why I was there that evening. As I replied, he held up a microphone. He was actually a radio announcer working the crowd. I explained how I wanted to get a screenplay to Penny Marshall. Surprised I didn’t say I was there for the game, he asked what my story was about and I of course said, “Bill Murray is an angel in disguise for me and my family.”

The interview concluded and a guy walked up who said, “Lady, Bill Murray usually comes through the crowd right here every game. You should give him your script.” 

As if on cue, there you were ten feet away and walking toward me. 

That’s when I lied although I didn’t think of it that way at the time. I gave you the thin box and said, “I flew all the way to Chicago to give this to you.” You thanked me and that was it. We went our separate ways. 

I wish I had said, “Bill Murray! Remember me? What on earth are you up to in my life?” I was terrified of speaking with you. 

The Bull’s lost bad that night. When I called my mother from the hotel room to commiserate and tell her about you, she said, “That game was so bad, he probably left your script under his chair.” 

My spirits sank.

They sank again the day my aunt from Alabama called me to share that Michael Jordan was retiring. She thought I would want to see the televised announcement. (Aunt Cola became the first MJ fan in our family while she was living in North Carolina and he played at UNC.)

I watched and subsequently learned he was playing golf with Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach. We made arrangements to go only to find Michael Jordan wasn’t there yet you were. The first day of play I saw you on the 17th fairway of one of the courses. I hurriedly wrote a thank you note for the tickets and told you I was the one who gave you the screenplay meant for Penny Marshall. And, yes, I wrote that if my mother was right and in duress you left my script under the chair, I could send you another copy.  

I intermittently play golf and know what it’s like to have one’s concentration interrupted. Near the 18th green, I got your caddies attention. I asked him to pass the note to you in the clubhouse. Instead he gave it to you as I begged him not to. Petrified I stepped behind two men. You read the note, then scanned the crowd with Carl Spackler eyes and asked, “Where is she?” The two strangers parted and there I stood. Mortified, I slightly waved. You addressed the ball and hit a horrible shot for which I felt responsible. I found Jerry on another course, told him what happened and how I knew you thought I was a stalker for certain now. 

That night we went to dinner in Carmel then walked the streets window shopping. When we got to our car, we decided to look over the menu outside the restaurant where we had parked in case we wanted to eat there another night. I still recall standing in front of the posted menu and Jerry’s saying, “There’s your boyfriend.” I laughed and said, “You’re my boyfriend.” Jerry of course replied, “Your other boyfriends in the window looking at you.” 

You sat at a window table eating dinner. You were looking at me and I totally freaked. Rather than even acknowledge you I frantically told Jerry we had to go. I got into our car right in front of where you sat and refused to glance your way. I was petrified. Stars, I know, don’t want to be bothered and I grew up not wanting to be a bother. 

The tournament ended early due to rain but we didn’t have anywhere to go until our flight out the next day. As Jerry and I hung out at the course, someone walked up and asked if we were the couple from Arkansas. I explained we were from Tennessee. This woman asked what we were doing there. I explained how we came to see Michael Jordan but I was fairly certain you now considered me a stalker. As she asked more questions, I told “our story” to which she inquired if we would be the front page story for the Monterey paper the next day. 

I hoped you read the paper and knew I meant you no harm or alarm.

The Monterey Herald the day after the tournament 
Shortly after returning home from the golf tournament, a flier arrived in the mail for a writing intensive in the San Francisco area. Feeling an unusual burst of confidence, I applied. Upon receiving my application the teacher called to inquire what I had written. I overlooked the part of the course explaining it was for advanced writers. I laughed about not being advanced but did say I had a screenplay. Tom inquired as to the content then said, “So you’re one of Bill’s writers?” I joked that maybe I was but Bill didn’t know it. The teacher though was serious. He shared that he knew some of your writers and thought I might be one. I didn’t attend the course and it didn’t occur to me to ask until a year later if he would consider sending my script to your writers. (Totally unrelated but how can I recall that man’s name, Tom Jenks, when at times I can’t recall what I did yesterday?) 

I entered the second year of no interest in my script beyond friends who would say I had “something.” I decided I was living a joke not a mystery. I truly felt like I was engaged in a cosmic conspiracy. 

In retrospect, I can’t believe I did this but in September 1999 I gave up. 

I had no idea that writing a script was the easy part. I gave up in just under three years. Today I think “YOU GAVE UP THAT QUICKLY!” Yet I did. I burned the first draft of my screenplay and took the ashes of my dream on my first trip to Oregon. In a private area just up the road from Cannon Beach, I held a ritual with Jerry as my witness and released my dream of being a writer and “The Magic in Chicago” into the Pacific.

The next morning at an art festival in downtown Portland, an artist from whom I was buying a piece asked what I did for a living. I told him I had just relinquished the idea of being a writer. He asked what I wrote and I told him about placing the ashes of a screenplay you had inspired into the ocean. 

Angus replied, “I love Bill. He and I have coffee at times when I visit my parents.” 

I had just released YOU into the Pacific. I had let our story go. I had given up on being a writer. I had gotten rid of you and you came back. Bill Murray, you came back. I had been beyond concerned that you would think I was stalking you and instead you, you were somewhat stalking me. Wouldn’t you agree? 

I returned home my commitment to writing renewed yet I didn’t have a framework at the time to hold this unfolding story. My threshold guardians eagerly lined up internally to remind me I was just a country girl who was not really a writer. Writers need to know big words. It should be obvious by now I’m short on those. 

A  couple of weeks later while visiting my Alabama aunt, she shared a magazine story she had saved for me about Michael Jordan. In large letters the beginning of the story read: “Michael is just a country bumpkin….” God, the Universe or something orchestrating my journey was telling me to not devalue myself. 

Over the prior year, I had started another screenplay, written the first draft of a potential book and several essays and poems. I didn’t know where to begin so I asked this entity orchestrating my journey for guidance regarding my focus.

After this request, I surprised Jerry with a birthday trip to Sedona. While in Oak Creek canyon one day, I was taken with a small clay pot a Native American was selling. We didn’t really need another clay pot but this one tugged at me. It wasn’t until arriving home that I knew why. Standing in our kitchen, I unwrapped the pot then removed the price tag from the bottom. I screamed for Jerry (and I’m not a screamer). We stood in amazement looking at the artist name that had been covered by the tag. Etched in clay was Shawn Williams, the maker of the pot and the main character in “The Magic in Chicago.” 

I had the answer to my question. My task was to rewrite the original script. Yet the thought of this made me nauseous. Now I realize this was a sure sign I needed to do just that. At the time, I didn’t know my body provided clues in this way. I felt uncomfortable to the point of throwing up when I thought of sitting down to rewrite our story. I now know I resisted doing so because I feared the sorrow I would touch if I returned to the place from which I originally wrote. To attempt this felt overwhelming. 

So instead of continuing to answer “the call” of writing, I got a literal call about organizing a training for massage therapists. I chose money over the uncertainty of creativity and hosted sixteen people from several states over a six-month period. I told myself I would do this, see my own therapy clients and write. You can guess which of the three I neglected. 

During the closing dinner our final evening together, the training participant who was local suggested I tell the group our story. I did and at the conclusion added that I thought our encounters had ended. I can still hear Karen from New York now living in Muscle Shoals, Alabama as she said, “Honey, I hate to tell you but your story’s not over. I worked with Bill on Saturday Night Live in the 70’s.” Then two other people, one from South Carolina and one from Colorado followed her with vignettes about you. 

Shortly after that, another of the massage therapists from out of state who had been at the dinner called to share that you and her friend’s mother skipped yoga class to grab a beer. Following this another friend on my daily walk called  to me when I passed his house. He wanted me to know he had just had lunch with Emmylou (yes, that Emmylou) before she boarded a flight to perform at the opening of one of your restaurants. 

This was the mother lode. I knew something big and positive was on the verge of happening. And it was, just not what I was expecting. I incorrectly read the signals. You were giving me a cosmic shout trying to get my attention before I got derailed.

I quit writing entirely and invested massive amounts of energy and time in helping family members through an assortment of challenges. They didn’t ask for my help. I volunteered. My sibling’s custody case was followed by my father’s sudden diagnosis and subsequent death of lung cancer. My previously healthy mother had to have surgery which was followed by emergency surgery to correct the error of the first surgery during which time my cat suddenly became ill and died. 

In reflecting on these times, I realized I would spend nearly two years helping someone then have a year to recover before another crisis arose.

It wasn’t until last year’s Apple store encounter that the magnitude of all this really sank in especially the part surrounding my father. The Universe seemed cruelest in my experience at that time. I determined to rewrite “Deadnuts” and submit it to a screenplay contest. (I had just pitched it to two producers. One said I had a great Southern novel while the other said I had a wonderful children’s book. I was disappointed and couldn’t hear they were actually complimenting my creativity. I wanted them to take interest in the screenplay.) 

In the midst of the rewrite, my father was diagnosed. I haphazardly made the contest deadline. Then I got a download of sorts for some songs I thought had potential. I eventually played one of them for a new acquaintance who I in turn invited to write with me. The day of our first meeting, I learned my father was to begin receiving hospice care. Those songs are still on a recorder somewhere and the encouraging, handwritten note from one of the judges regarding my humor is in a file.

Hearing myself tell this part of the story to the Apple geniuses made me realize this was heavy, hard-to-hold and balance stuff. I still don’t know how one juggles creative pursuits amidst crises among those they love. 

During these times, people would comment that I had the energy of Joan of Arc. I knew nothing about Joan other than she was burned at the stake.  

Eventually I burned out. I felt pummeled by events that unfolded, pummeled and exhausted. In looking back, I checked into the “belly of the whale” a familiar residence in my journey not to recover as much as to feel depairing and lost. 

Remember how I noted in the beginning that I had to begin again because writing “Dear Bill” letters helped me discover new layers to this journey. This is one of those moments. I just realized that during the recovery year of the cycles referenced above, I didn’t actually stop writing. I recorded a cd of personal essays that led to co-hosting a radio show, a great leap for someone who had vowed as a child to not speak in public…which is probably connected to why I’ve had a hard time speaking to you. I began four blogs (before the world was blogging) and another screenplay with a friend but I never returned to “Grow” or “The Magic in Chicago.” 

Another of the layers revealed as I write this time is I don’t have regrets. In past incarnations of this letter, I’ve realized how bitter I let myself become. The hopeful, happy me became bitter without even realizing I was bitter. 

This round of “Dear Bill” helps me realize the events above brought out more of me, the me that is compassionate and loving to the extreme. Each event helped me retrieve parts of me that I had forgotten or not fully embraced. They offered me necessary, painful, and beautiful lessons. I learned the justice system is often unjust. I held my formerly distant, controlling father’s hand and sang as he navigated dying at home. I still recall his placing my hand on his heart after I sang one day. Heat emanated from his chest as he said, “That was beautiful.” And then two years later, I let my mother teach me how she saw things in Nature from her hospital bed as we watched a nature channel during her time in the hospital. These are experiences I would have never had had I not answered the call I felt in those times. 

And still, Bill, in the midst of even these years, you showed up, not often, but you did. 

In 2006, I held a small ritual to honor my “returning to me.” In the sharing of my journey, I told of the magic in Chicago. After my story, two women on either side of me remarked that they had stories of you. It wasn’t until writing this that I realized with curiosity that you returned to my life’s radar as I honored my returning to me. Still I did not resurrect those screenplays. 

Three years later, I entered my fifties while in France then backpacked into the Grand Canyon. Both were rituals for me. I was in the Grand Canyon when my friends left the message that they kept running into you in their hotel lobby. 

Then you showed up after I had surgery that I postponed for a year. When I say after surgery, I mean after surgery. The post-op nurse asked what I did for a living. I told her I was a writer. (Anesthesia it seems emboldened me as I usually don’t say, “I’m a writer.”) She asked what I wrote and I told how you inspired me initially to write by being our angel in disguise. She laughingly told me her friend’s parents owned the house in which “What About Bob?” was filmed. She and her friend often laughed about your being in that house. 

You and I have had 23 encounters of the etheric or face-to-face-yet-Dawn-can’t-talk kind. These don’t include “our” dinners every April with my friend Maryann. 

Yes, you’re still around or so I hear. For the last five years, I’ve had dinner with Maryann an intuitive friend who comes to Nashville from Maine. At some point during our yearly meal she says, “Are you doing anything with that Bill Murray guy?” 

Intrigued and puzzled, I reply, “No” each time to which she says something along the lines of, “He’s in my face right now.”

My friend works as an intuitive so I don’t use our social time to inquire further but I am curious. I am extremely curious and desirous of knowing why we have had this long, strange journey, not to mention why you’re in my friend’s face as we share our yearly meal. 

Those dinners have been in the last five years. Ironically I realize in this beginning again that these are the same last five years that I’ve put the brakes on trusting Mystery in my life. I know it sounds strange but I truly did feel abandoned and betrayed by you and the forces that got this whole thing rolling. I was attached and I’m not even certain to what I was attached. I take that back. I truly thought we would finally meet and I’d be able to have my voice without hiding. 

I think of myself as an increasingly conscious and aware person, yet I really did feel like you left me although I know, I know, I left me. I left me. I betrayed and abandoned me and didn’t realize this until these last few months. 

From the looks of social media, my negative energy hasn’t gotten in the way of your getting around. You are everywhere. But if indigenous people and quantum science are right (and I believe they are) we are all connected and my negativity may have affected you. I’m sorry for the unconscious bitterness and anger I’ve sent your way. It hasn’t been okay for me to be so angry with you or the Universe for I’ve not only potentially affected you, I’ve affected me.

And though I’ve felt betrayed by this mystery that is my life, Mystery still speaks to me. The Universe or Divine Love as I think of it has not abandoned me even though I’ve been a resistant, frightened child of the universe. I continue to receive signs. Beautiful events happen in my life just about every day connected to Earth and her children especially the winged, four-legged and green, growing kind. I have a dear, magical life.

 And still I wonder about this thing between us. 

Were the seeds of what we are living sown long ago in some other time? Where did this dance originate? Did we make a pact as souls in the stars to show up in this way? If so, it seems I forgot my lines. Or maybe I didn’t. My inner judge believes I really screwed up my role in this dance. Is it possible I’ve done exactly as needed…. even in my silence when we’ve met? 

Maybe my life’s lines are somewhere here in these lines to you.

And with that sentence, “it” happens again. 

Lines are my life. Writing is my life line, my life line to myself and to my putting out into the world my experience of Earth. I hope when you read this you feel my heart’s gratitude. For in this beginning again, I realize YOU are the reason I began to write again.

That ticket to the game was the grail I sought for my nephews. I thought Chicago was the end of my quest, yet you unknowingly catapulted me across an unexpected threshold into the twists and turns of my hero’s journey, into and out of the belly of the whale more times than I can count to this place in which I deeply value who I am. Our journey has taught me ultimately to celebrate and love myself. 

I wish everyone, especially the adults walking this world, could “get” that. Love, love, love yourself. It sounds so simple and it is so hard. Feel love for yourself and in turn love for others and this world comes pouring out. 

Thank you, Bill. Thank you for being my guide, my muse and my heart’s kin. I don’t know what’s next but I do know I needed to write this letter to you from me and I needed to write this letter to you for me.

Thank you, dear Bill. Thank you. 


P.S. I looked for your 1-800# and realize it's not public. Naive me. Rather than post mine, just call me in Nashville, TN.
-Dawn, (Still) the Good News Muse
25 November 2015