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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Experiencing a Frog

I sit holding a dear flattened frog someone ran over on busy Charlotte Avenue. It may be a land dwelling toad yet with the rain we've had a frog could have made its way from the nearby greenway and creek.

 Initially I walked past it while returning to my car, yet as I opened the car door, a voice inside me said, 'You do know you just walked past a dead frog?' I turned around, picked it up to bring home with me.

I hold it and hear ribbits. I recall playing leap frog as a kid and wonder if children still do that these days? I'm reminded of tadpoles swimming in the creek of my childhood, a creek that no longer exists due to bulldozing.

And then the boy at Cheekwood one Thursday at dusk comes to mind. He announced to his young peers that he was the king of the world about to kill a frog as a periodic deep croak sounded from the small ponds bull frogs call home. Fortunately his plans never came to pass.

Earlier today, I held a board from one of my waterlogged appliances after Nashville's 2010 flood. I've been unable to put it in the trash. I see it and think if minds can do this surely we can house and feed everyone on Earth. Doing so takes heart and mind engaged.

The frog engages my heart and mind. I hold it and ponder how it is I find Nature's dead or dying ones.

Some people would value the intricacies of the board from my appliance over the intricacies of the frog. When I get scared as to the drastic diminishing of Nature on Earth, I want to shout from the roof tops that Nature was here long before technology and that Nature is imbued with an aliveness not found in this laptop on which I write.

My soul is fed by Nature, art, and music. I wonder if technology can feed one's soul or does it satisfy a mental quest that at times feels out of control. Take for example the recent story I heard on drones eventually delivering pizza. I go to Pizza Perfect and get take out pizza but if I had it delivered I would want a flesh and blood person knocking at my door and not a drone or robot.

I ponder these things and for the first time in over five years of keeping this electrical board, I turn it over and see a maze of Life's many paths.

This earth-walk holds many paths. What matters most to me is that I am on my path.

How do I experience being on my path really? I have a sense of being at home within my body. I am present, not in my head thinking 'what's next?' or what to fear but present and aware of a resonance that is deeply calm and now as I hold the frog.

In the quiet, I hear: Just honor me. Hold me in your palm. Let me feel your love and gratitude. Then lay me to rest under the fern fronds so what's left of this physical form can become one with your garden sanctuary and return to Mother Earth.

In this moment, people around the world are suffering, hungry, cold, homeless, dying or about to be like this animal suddenly killed. I wish for them a palm in which they and those who love them feel held.

For now, I will take what remains of the frog and do as it asks. Right now that seems even more fitting as rain falls and I realize as I hold the frog one last time, it appears to dance.

How do you experience being "at home" within? 
How do you experience being on your path? 

-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 3 Oct. 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

As We Rise So Does Earth - Ascending and Descending

Upon encountering the zipper spider, I knew it was time to put into writing what I sensed when I found these objects on a morning walk nearly two years ago.

I have looked for the zipper spider around my front door nearly daily this summer. Last year a landscaper with whom I was consulting saw it at my front door and told me what it was. I was smitten and have thus looked, truly nearly every day, to no avail until Wednesday's Autumn Equinox.

Here in Nashville my plants are thirsty for rain. While attaching the hose to the rain barrel, I saw my friend hanging from the oak leaf hydrangea.

I immediately associated the Zipper Spider with opening. That's when I thought of these objects from some time ago and how they are related to this time in which we find ourselves, this time in which we are rising.


I walk my neighborhood streets just about every weekday. On this particular walk, I glanced down to see a white feather reminiscent of a spiral path. I saw it and knew I was seeing the spiral of ascension or rising to a new level of vibration and being.

Then within a couple of steps I saw the spiral earthworm and knew I was being reminded that as we rise, Earth rises. Yet to fully ascend we descend as well. In the descent, we allow to rise the often repressed, denied stuff of this earth walk, the sorrow, shame, anger, and fear. Honoring through feeling these often labeled dark emotions frees us and them.

We rise carrying less of the shadow of our individual and collective past.

Those who are willing to engage this descent can also invite the suppressed experiences and emotions within the land, animals, and plants to rise and be felt. Consciously honoring and asking Earth's energies to be turned into love, peace and light sends healing ripples through the quantum field.

Then in the next block all within a few steps of each other, I found ribbon, chord, a rubber band and a piece that looked like a zipper pull. These simple objects used for closing, wrapping, containing and tying were untied, broken and cut. They conveyed a potent message.

New Times have opened.

After writing the above, I read that the zipper spider is also called the writing spider or Argiope. The argiope symbolizes New Realms or the opening of New Dimensions. (source The Animal Speak Pocket Guide)

New Times have opened! 

I feel such joy in this. 

This potent energetic time in which we rise is the entry to New Realms. Some fear the world's end. I place my attention on the New Realms opening as we traverse the spiral path joining heaven and earth as a Great Shift occurs in the Universe.

-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 25 Sept. 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Four Simple Words

She said, "I'm sorry." I replied, "Thank you."

The young woman on the other end of the phone had no idea how much her two simple words meant to me, but I knew. I actually said to her, "Thank you. Thank you. It's okay."

I had just experienced back-to-back encounters in which my trying to do the "right" thing ended up being a frustrating thing. I buy really good (ie. holistic and as chemical free as possible and thus expensive) food for my cats. The store at which I buy it has a monthly discount day. I rushed over on what I thought was the correct Wednesday only to find I was a week late. I had waited for this specific day and even penciled in (yes, I still use a pencil) a time between clients to weave my way through the new Nashville traffic to get discounted food. I was angry at myself and unfortunately the person assisting me could only say, "It was last Wednesday. It's always been this way. Don't you want to be on our email list? It's always the second Wednesday."

I realized driving home that I actually became irritated with the salesperson because she seemed stuck on repeating "It was last Wednesday."

That same week, I went to the pharmacy to ensure they had a particular drug in stock that I was going to need for a heavy metals test. The drug was unusual so I thought it wise to stop in and inquire before my doctor faxed the prescription. To my surprise, they had the drug I needed. The following week as my doctor prepared the prescription, I even called to ensure they still had it. (I've never done something like that.)

You can imagine my surprise to walk in and find the faxed prescription was on the head pharmacist's desk where it had spent the day because he didn't know what it was....and he hadn't asked his associate (with whom I had twice spoken). I had given them all day to fill the prescription and now had fifteen minutes which was not enough time for the medication to be compounded.

I became impatient in this situation as well and explained that I had ensured not once but twice that they had the drug. Now I had to leave without the drug and postpone the test until the following week. I became irritated with the pharmacist who I've known for years and drove home realizing I just needed to hear two simple words from both he and the salesperson in the pet store.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry that happened."

"I'm sorry you came on the wrong day."

"I'm sorry I didn't think to ask my colleague what DMSA is."

 For me, as a feeler, just a simple, "I'm sorry" would do.

So when I get a call from the doctor's office reminding me of my appointment for the following week which I had already cancelled and said I would reschedule, I thought, 'Here we go again.'

I called the doctor's scheduler to remind her that I had cancelled and she had already called me back. That's when I heard "I'm sorry." I could tell from the tone of her voice that she wasn't just pacifying me. She truly was acknowledging her mistake.

I in turn said two words of equal significance in today's world. I sincerely replied, "Thank you."

The words we use and the tone with which we convey them is important even with simple statements like "I'm sorry" and "Thank you."

Imagine the shift in your personal life and thus our world if we each took the time to say "I'm sorry" when we or another has erred or "Thank you" to convey our appreciation.

Inside I smiled. Life provided a healing do-over.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 24 Sept. 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Joy Amidst "the Fall" - When Nature and Hymns on a Walk Conspire

During yesterday's walk, I came upon a dried, dead earthworm on the sidewalk. I cupped it in my palm for a moment before placing it in the grass. Then I came upon another. Earthworms stir joy in me and I found this exodus troubling. I'm accustomed to seeing earthworms on the sidewalk in Spring not Fall.

"For such as worm as I" sang through my mind. This line from the hymn, "At the Cross" implies we like worms are lowly and sinful. It was not good to be a worm back then. Yet earthworms area amazing and good. Earth nor we would be here without them.

I continued my walk thinking of being at the cross while listening to audio clips I recorded a year ago on Fall Equinox while hiking into the Grand Canyon. I had not listened to these since recording them. I randomly clicked on a file not knowing what I was about to hear except that it would be my voice. In this particular file I referred to the five bridges crossing Bright Angel Creek as we descended into the canyon. Then I heard myself comparing the five bridges with five crossings between Times, five times when life on Earth as it was known ended to start over again.

I walked and thought of Jesus and the crossing or bridge he created between dark and light. I shouldn't have been surprised to look down and see a bermuda grass crown of thorns in the middle of the sidewalk.

I had just read of Archangel Michael governing Autumn and hovering over Jesus in Gethsemane while assisting him in transmuting streams of hate and despair into currents of healing love.*

I lay the crown aside and walked a few more blocks before turning a corner. My pattern is to turn at  the third house up the inclining street. I got to the second house and looked down to find a host of earthworms, dead and dried, in many shapes like an early alphabet reminding me to listen to Nature's language.

I asked a man nearby if he knew whether the lawn where I stood had been sprayed. He told me landscapers had been digging earlier in the week.

This Fall migration reminded me of Earth's people today being forced from heir homes due to war and the corporate take over of African soil as businesses mine minerals to be used in our technology.

I bent down to more closely see the worms and realized one worm fragment had the tiniest of down feathers stuck to it.

Inside I smiled.

Needing to get to work, I gathered a handful of these beautiful beings and walked home. And yes, I stopped and got the "crown."

At my day's end, I sat with my treasures and listened. These creatures from the soil offered profound messages for the soul.

Earth and heaven are united.

Earthworm now can we.

Yet flying isn't superior to crawling. They are one and the same.

And the little fleck of down reminded me: 

Do not fear "down" - being down, feeling down, going downward.

(How often I've resisted down and judged myself for not being 'up.')

Down is ultimately the path to freedom and flight. Jesus traveled into the darkness we associate with down in order to shine the Light.

Grace had crawled from the grass in the form of earthworms and still grace lay before me in the form of the grassy crown. 

I felt the need to place the crown on my head. I did and immediately experienced it as the crown of harvest and celebration at this time of Fall. Then the thought occurred to me. What if humankind's "fall" was ultimately a beautiful thing meant to bring us to this Earthly place in Divine Time? What if the cross is now a place of crossing, a crossroads of sorts in which we each get to choose how we will use our energy and whether we will focus our attention on love or on fear so that rather than destroy ourselves and Earth this time around, we birth something unexperienced and new based in Love? What if the cross is now a place in which we realize the center is where up, down, in and out all meet together? Neither is more important than the other.

One of the first things my friend Wendy said to me years ago when we met was "The Universe is always speaking to us." 

The Universe IS always speaking to us..... through the stars and earthworms, through the grass and hymns of old. The Universe is always speaking to us through the quiet and simple, through the common and usually not so bold. 

Imagine the Shift to hearing. 
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 23 Sept. 2015

*From "Nature Speaks" by Ted Andrews. 

After writing the above I went in search of two other earthworm-inspired storie. I hope you take time to read it as well "Crawling Home - Finding Grace."  and "Class Isn't Over." 

And here's another story related to being Bright Angels.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Independence and Interdependence - The New Paradigm

What did our forefathers know that we’ve not been told?

The weekend of the 2012 autumn equinox, I awoke seeing the Pleiades, the star cluster I look forward to in winter’s sky. These seven stars shown so clearly I thought I was outside.  I was elated until I realized I was in bed in the middle of the night. 

A color-composite image of the
Pleiades from the 
Digitized Sky Survey
Credit: NASA/ESA/AURA/Caltech
Then I was shown another scene.  Against a gray background, black silhouettes of telescopes revolved around me. I sensed I was seeing an astronomy tower of old.  Then I was shown the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin came to my mind. 

I lay in bed wondering if these things were linked.  I knew nothing about Ben Franklin beyond his experiment with the kite and key.   

The day prior I had just confided in a long distance friend that I’ve never been able to comprehend what I read. Because of this I have felt mentally inferior all my life.  Being able to memorize facts for tests, I did well academically but retained little regarding history.  I now know I learn through experience something for which our education system was not set up.  

This particular morning, I noted what I was shown along with my first impressions and experience then I went to the internet.  In the seconds it took to type a few words and click search, I realized this information somehow fit together but I had no idea what it meant.  

The first reference that got my attention regarded the Liberty Bell.  Called the Independence Bell in Ben Franklin’s day, it was rung when he went to England to express the colonists’ grievances to the King.  This was just one of eight times Franklin crossed the Atlantic in his life long before the speed and ease of today’s travels.  

I was stunned to learn Ben Franklin only went through 2nd grade yet became a printer, scientist, inventor, statesman, politician, author and the country’s first post master.  He started a fire department, organized the first library and became the Minister to France.  He learned five languages and played three musical instruments.  This man called the First American whose many discoveries are integral to our lives today had an immense curiosity and willingness to ask questions.  

I felt a particular affinity for Franklin upon learning he authored “Poor Richard’s Almanac” a precursor to the present “Farmer’s Almanac.” This inexpensive paperback in the last two years has become my gardening Bible with its charts for planting based on planetary and moon influences.  

Most intriguing was information regarding Franklin’s belief in other beings in the stars.    His interest in the Native Americans, as well as legends of the Iroquois confederacy resulted in one of his best-selling pamphlets, the Iroquois creation story of  Sky Woman This story describes Sky Woman’s coming to Earth and birthing the human race.  Reading this brought tears to my eyes.  

I thought of the many Atlantic crossings Ben Franklin made and wondered if his openness to Native American belief was somewhat influenced by his own personal encounters with star beings during those eight long crossings?  Was he imbued with heightened creative energy from the stars?  What messages might he have received influencing his discoveries, attitude and knowledge?  

I then read that Franklin developed relationships with the members of the Lunar Society, a small group of men in England who met on the Monday nearest the full moon to discuss new scientific ideas, technology, innovation, metaphysics and philosophy.  These men became the fathers of the Industrial Revolution. 

Was it by coincidence, intention or grace that these men met each month on a Monday, the day of the week derived from Moon Day.  They supposedly met near the full moon so it would light their way home.  What inspiration or illumination came from meeting beneath the energy of the moon near its fullest and then walking home by its light?  

I found myself wondering what our forefathers knew that we’ve not been told? 

Where did the Pleiades fit into what I was shown?

In May 2011, two long distance friends visiting me shared how some Native Americans thought certain souls came to Earth from this star system. This stirred my interest and I began to look for them in winter’s night sky.  My first personal experience with the Pleiades was in January (2012) after my partner and I held a ritual at one of the starting points of the Trail of Tears. As we returned to our car, I happened to look up and saw the Pleiades overhead.  I sensed we were being quietly watched over from these stars above us.  

The particular morning of my on-line search I found “in the ancient world, in places of great power and influence, monuments were built aligned with the Pleiades. The Washington Monument is aligned with the Pleiades.”  

I found sites suggesting that the whole of Washington D.C. is laid out based on aligning buildings and monuments with certain star systems.  Sites I later came across insisted this held demonic intent.  

What I thought more interesting is that in today’s culture, the word star evokes actors, musicians and athletes not heavenly bodies of light.  Those interested in the heavens stars tend to fall into groups: Scientists and investors seeking to exploit bodies in space for minerals necessary for our technological devices, those looking to the star’s for Earth’s salvation, those looking to the heavens for religious salvation, the curious and those who consult the heavens for astrological insight. Many I fear live ignorant of the stars as I have until recently. 

I concluded my morning’s search, my mind a tangle of information yet curious as to these things shown to me. 

The next morning I was given more of the story.  I saw what looked like a photo of a doorway, specifically the floor at the threshold. This was followed by a slowly spinning mandala of five-pointed stars outlined in black. One star was in the center and each point was connected to the point of another star.  The turning image looked like something from the Southwestern Hopi.

I watched and knew I was being shown that the turning stars offer a threshold for our entering a new space and time.   

The next morning, I sat on the sofa my mind wrapped in a fog, coffee in hand, watching sunlight climb the trees. The Liberty Bell was on my mind.  Something felt missing regarding this piece of what I had been shown.   

Not being one to read the news, I picked up the weekend’s paper to distract myself or so I thought.  As I opened the local section, my breath was taken.  On page two was a small photo of a bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell being rung at a local celebration of Constitution Week.  

Before work, I delved into sites regarding the constitution and became even more mentally laden with information.  Each day that week I read about the Constitution yet nothing I read felt intuitively right in relation to what I had been shown. 

Days later as Jerry walked through the room I asked, “Does the Liberty Bell mean anything to you?” 

He only responded, “What does a bell do?” 

In that moment I knew.  A bell sounds a tone and in a tone I also saw at one. The first thing I had read was of the bell’s being rung when Ben Franklin went to England representing the colonies.  Were the people “at one” then or more so than we seem today?  The bell did crack after all.  Was this symbolic of the challenge even then of being unified while maintaining and honoring individual differences? 

I wondered, ‘If a bell makes a tone, can one be constructed to make specific tones?’ (I had totally forgotten of hearing church hand bell groups long ago.)  

I searched on-line and learned the Liberty Bell made in London was made to sound E flat.  I wondered if E flat in particular evoked a particular feeling or mood.  I searched E flat and found it is often associated with bold, heroic music. How perfect is that.

It is heroic the founding fathers convened to discuss, debate and ultimately craft a document that held a vision for America and that families set out for the unknown by crossing the watery threshold of the Atlantic with the starry night sky for navigation. 

Those before us won independence from England and became the builders of the outer structures in which our leaders convene. They crafted the political structure under which we’re governed and about which there’s such division today. 

It is equally heroic that we as Souls have gathered at this time.  Like those before us, we too stand at a threshold to the unknown with assistance from the stars.  We have the opportunity to build a new structure born in independence yet requiring something possibly more evolved than independence.  

These times call for a new heroism founded in the curiosity of Ben Franklin and the willingness to ask questions without knowing the answers. Who among us is willing to be that curious, to suspend what we cling to and the beliefs we adhere to and dig deeper to ask more and better questions? 

These times call for a heroism that doesn’t reactively vilify those who look or believe contrary to us.  We may celebrate Constitution Week, yet reacting in fear, judgment and anger suggests our constitution is weak, our personal inner constitution.  These times call for an inner structure of courage, compassion and awareness.  

The tone that sounds today isn’t that of a bell but the greater conversation.  We each have the opportunity to consciously set our individual tone which impacts the greater tone.   

The Founding Fathers gained independence and created literal and political structures.  We’ve the opportunity to more fully realize our interdependence and support a new relational structure, one that joins the inner with the outer and realizes our interconnectedness with one another, Nature and all of Earth.  

And just as the stars were with our founders, they are with us assisting in the opportunity to use free will in relation to our hearts, minds and voices as we cross the threshold in a new paradigm.  

-Dawn, The Good News Muse
17 September 2015
first posted 20 December 2012