Staying Close and Letting Go

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A clay heart with an open door. Artist unknown.

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

I’ve been writing this blog for eleven years and five months. I started in March of 2010 with two posts a week. Expressing myself freely and meeting so many wonderful people from around the world was so exciting and fun that I thought I could probably continue at that pace for the rest of my life. That worked for about six years.

Then one summer we had so much company at the cabin that, with great trepidation, I cut back to one post a week. That worked until The Soul’s Twins came along demanding to be birthed. I hadn’t expected that. It took so much time and effort that I cut back to one or two posts a month; again, reluctantly. But once my book was born and launched, it was easy to fall back into my pattern of one post a week. And I relished every moment of my renewed connection with you.

Now things are changing again. The inspiration for new posts that has always been just a few thoughts away is harder to find. I’m not sure why. Has the well run dry? Have I said everything I came here to say? Is there something else that wants my attention? I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I do know that this quote by the Persian poet Hafez resonates deeply:

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive. Hafez

I’ve done that for the last three months at our summer home in the Smoky Mountains. But now we’re back in the city after two days of packing and a ten-hour drive. It always makes me sad to leave there. It feels like losing a dear friend. The weather was cool, the air was fresh, the rain was gentle, frequent, and usually short-lived, and the greenery was more lush and abundant than I remember ever seeing. Except for the crows and songbirds, and one poor dog just down the valley who seems to think his job is to bark the sun up every morning and down every evening, it was very quiet. We do hear an occasional truck laboring up and around the curves in the nearby road now that it’s been paved, but I only heard one airplane pass overhead all summer.

Our time there was very satisfying. I gave several virtual presentations to Jung societies on Zoom for The Soul’s Twins, read some wonderful books, (maybe I’ll write about them soon), and took long walks with Izzy twice a day. Most evenings Fred and I sat rocking on the porch watching the birds at the bird feeders as the light faded away and the lightning bugs and stars came out. It was usually so cool I needed a wrap. No heat. No stinging bugs. Nowhere to rush to. Heaven! Then we’d make ourselves a simple supper and retire to bed.

In past summers we’ve had company up for long weekends with lots of activities, but this year the only guests were our family and one group of longtime friends who live nearby and came over for a potluck dinner — all fully vaccinated. In late August we got together with Fred’s brothers and sister and their partners for a family reunion and a few meals together. The highlight was seeing Fred’s youngest brother, Tony, and his partner, Scott, for the first time in five years! This was an especially joyful time for us. As of a few weeks ago, they’ve both been sober for five years and are doing very, very well.

You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens. Mandy Hale

Heart, by Tony Raffa

I almost didn’t write a post today for tomorrow’s publication. The trip home wore me out and we still have a lot to unpack. Plus, I’m still struggling for inspiration. But I felt a strong need to reconnect with you. And then I had a random thought: why not look up quotes about inspiration to find some inspiration? And look what happened!

Thank you for your interest in my writing all these years. I don’t know what tomorrow, let alone next week, will bring, but I want you to know this: whether we meet here or not, you will be in my heart and I will be sending my love to you. It’s good to be alive.

Spread love everywhere you go.  Mother Teresa

Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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Comments

43 Responses

  1. I love this post. You wrote so honestly and lovingly about your state which resonates with me. Thank you for your continual sharing, for keeping it real, for caring enough to expose yourself in all your glory and warts and for keeping on. Don’t let go. I need your words and your longings.

    1. Oh, Johanna. Yours was the first comment I read when I awoke at 2 AM . ( My posts come out at midnight.) Thank you for your comforting words. They set the tone for the rest of the night. I slept like a baby ’til morning and woke up smiling. Blessings and love, Jeanie

  2. Oh, this is such a beautiful, heartfelt post Jeanie! Thank you for writing and sharing it! Me, I’ve loved your blog in all its incarnations for years now and can remember discovering ‘you’ many years ago, perhaps eight or nine, I’m not entirely sure, yet nevertheless, I will always bless the day I found you.

    Gosh, writing two posts a week six years of this blog was such an extraordinary feat, more so because of the fine quality you put into them. Myself, I write when the mood or muse, I hasten to add, grabs me. Although if I had to write regularly one or twice a month would work best for me I guess.

    It sounds as though you and Fred opted for a relaxed, unhurried summer. Your imageries bring the alchemical marriage to mind and that of a peaceful union between anima and animus. To a time when you quietly allowed yourselves to ‘be’ together, enjoying each other’s company and qualities.

    What a heavenly summer! Thank you for sharing your heart and the art too. Okay, back to those mercurial archetypes I must go! Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Dear Deborah,

      I remember with fondness that you were one of my earliest followers. You’ve always been so gracious and your comments always inspire me. But that’s what poets do, right? Inspire?

      Our conversations here have been very precious to me. I’ve especially appreciated your alchemical associations. And have I told you how much I loved Mercurius: The Marriage Between Heaven and Earth? Thank you so much for recommending it. I’ve had two dreams since I finished it that stunned me with their alchemical imagery. Perhaps I can get your take on them one day.

      We did opt for a relaxed, unhurried summer. Fred decided not to commute back and forth because of the pandemic and it reduced his stress a hundredfold. Which automatically reduced mine. Plus it was great to have him there. He’s kind and helpful and fun to be with and my best friend. It was a very good summer for us. Actually, the best ever.

      Thank you for your many kind words through the years. They always warm my heart. Blessings and love, Jeanie

      1. Aww, thank you so much Jeanie for such a beautiful, generous reply! The feeling’s mutual my dear friend. And you must, must read Mercurius again, for its second reading left me even more breathless. Yes, I would love to hear about your recent alchemical dreams, why not create a dream post and that way you could receive lots of insights and more inspiration in one place rather than by email correspondence. Sometimes I think about doing this on my blog but the moment passes and another poem wants to be scribbled down and on that subject I’m working on a finishing poem for my Animus Diet book and those mercurial archetypes are driving me crazy this afternoon as I try to communicate with them. Such is a poet’s life!

        1. I rarely read books a second time. In fact, the only one I remember reading twice is John Fowles’ The Magus. Have you read it? It’s my all time favorite. I read it in the mid-seventies, at a time when I was just waking up to myself and searching for more meaning. Mercurius feels like that to me too. And I will indeed, read it again! The very idea is thrilling. They’re both about the exact same things: self-discovery, the inward journey to unite the opposites in the Self, individuation, relationship, inner union, androgyny. I didn’t even know the word “individuation” when I read The Magus but it sure lit my fire! Even so, It was about 15 more years before I discovered Jung and committed myself fully to the inner journey.

          Thank you for the encouragement. I’d love more input about those two dreams but I’m not quite sure I’m ready to share them publicly…..I’ll think about it. 🙂

          Good luck birthing this newest poem. Some infants are much more difficult to deliver than others!

          1. No, I haven’t read ‘The Magus’, I’ll look for it online in a moment. And if do you decide that you’re not entirely happy to publicly share those dreams (and some dreams are not for sharing are they) then feel free to email me, I’d be happy to take a take a look! 🙂

    1. Dear Paula, thank you for telling me that. It’s very heartening to receive that kind of encouragement. Blessings and love, Jeanie

    1. Thank you, Karen. I’m very glad to know you enjoyed this one. I never know how my posts will be received, and it helps a lot when people let me know. You must come over for some tea and conversation one afternoon soon! Blessings and love, Jeanie

    1. Dear Dale, for some reason I thought of you when I wrote this. Perhaps because you radiate warmth, acceptance, and heart. 🙂 Blessings and love, Jeanie

  3. Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive. Hafez
    Love this quote and the blog the bloggers and the blogees.
    Don’t let your well run dry
    Don’t stop it now
    Don’t give me no reasons why
    Don’t stop it now

    [Chorus]
    Keep it coming, love
    Keep it coming, love
    Don’t stop it now
    Don’t stop it, no
    Don’t stop it now
    Don’t stop ……. KC and the Sunshine Band

  4. Oh my, Mark! Your comments always surprise and delight me. Thank you. Now I have to look this song up on YouTube. I can’t remember the melody, but once I hear it I’ll probably be humming it all afternoon. 🙂 Blessings and love, Jeanie

  5. Dear Deborah, this is my response to your last comment above. WordPress wouldn’t let me post it directly after your comment so it has to go here. Two things: first, thank you for your most generous offer to look at the two dreams I mentioned. I would like that very much, but will wait until “the spirit moves me” (a phrase my mother always used) to send them to you in an email. With your deep understanding of alchemy, I feel you are the only person I know who has the knowledge and experience to understand them. 🙂

    Second, I’ve just read your poem, “Goodbye Dear Mother, Please Don’t Cry,” http://theliberatedsheep.com/goodbye-dear-mother-please-dont-cry/#more-3411 for the first time. I still don’t get notices of your posts even though I’ve signed up for them at least three times, or I would have written you right away when you first posted it. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you in the immediate aftermath of your mother’s death. Your poem is deeply touching and sad and so beautiful. The genuine love and forgiveness you feel for your parents — even though your childhood was a nightmare few could endure and come away from with anywhere near the grace you have — is truly extraordinary. As are you. You and your work are an inspiration to all who strive to heal and transcend childhood wounds. There is no doubt in my mind that that kind of love is of the highest kind, a love that reassures and restores and heals and blesses. Your clients, loved ones, and readers are lucky to have you as a friend and psycho-spiritual guide. Please accept my belated condolences.

    I hope your ankle is healing well and your poem is coming along swimmingly!! Blessings and love, Jeanie

    P.S. One more thing. You may find that The Magus feels outdated to you now. Fowles (from England, by the way) was following the tradition of Hesse and others who were beginning to “get” Jungian psychology and archetypal energies, but when he first wrote it he seemed to be struggling to explain it to others. I know many people who passionately loved it and many who had no idea what it was about. Someone tried to make a movie of it but it was a complete flop, because they obviously didn’t know what it was about either. If you decide to buy it, you might want the revised version, when he made some helpful revisions.

    1. Until ‘the spirit moves me’ oh, I love that! Okay, I’ll look forward to diving into your alchemical dreams with you at some point in the coming weeks or months. Ha-Ha! That’s if I can get my huge inflated head out of the door first! Re: WordPress, seriously Jeanie, I give up on them! When my website hosts switched servers last year I lost all my WP followers and still people can’t sign up today! It’s such a poor show and grr don’t get me started on umpteen commenting issues I’ve had recently.

      I couldn’t send anyone a heads up about my mother’s death, I just posted the words that came a few days after her death and left them there. I’ll probably take them down in due course. Oh, how your beautiful words pierce my heart, warm tears flow. Thank you my lovely friend. I never really knew how or why others raved about forgiveness until I learnt how to do it myself and what a lesson and liberation it’s been for me ever since. I left my poem “Dear Mother, Dear Father” in my mother’s hands. It sounds strange to say this but it was perfect for me and little Deborah.

      Just read a few reviews of ‘The Magus’, I’m intrigued! I’ll add it to my wish list although I sense this one would be a winter read. And it’s huge, over 660 pages! I’ve noted what you say about the book and will bear that in mind when I get stuck in Ah, lastly you mentioned androgyny earlier, here’s today’s coincidence because I’ve had to put the poem (well mess!) to one side and have just started reading ‘Androgyny’ by June Singer, a(nother) book I’ve been meaning to read for years! I must of worked in a library in a past life, or many! Okay, I’ll stop there.

      1. And the synchronicities keep flowing. I read Singer’s Androgyny around 1990-91 or so. Absolutely loved it! Made perfect sense to me then, still does. It’s one of the seeds or maybe roots of everything I wrote after that, especially The Soul’s Twins!

    1. Hahaha! Well, of course. Isn’t that what we always do for each other? I love our connections, both here and at the quantum level….or wherever that in-between space is where synchronicities happen! Speaking of, I hope you’re making headway on revisioning your synchronicity book. Blessings sweet synchronicity sister, Jeanie

  6. Thank you, Jeanie. I send love back to you and love the quotes and stories you’ve shared. I won’t be releasing Monarch butterflies for migration on my back porch, but they’ll all be gone by the end of September. I try to write about them every day, but I’m saving my Monarch musings and practical knowledge for protecting them for a longer piece–or I don’t know what. At the moment, I love the images I’m taking more than anything and the feeling of having Monarchs grasp my skin. (I’ve gradually moved from primary feeling type into sensation in the years since Vic’s died and my hearing became so terrible. The visual and tactile sensory world is magic for me and I pay close attention. Meanwhile, I’m not good at pushing myself, but hope my Monarch musings will lead to something. May you settle into your old life with ease, rest deeply, and let the creative juices flow.

    1. Yes, none of us will be doing the things we love forever, but I’m pretty sure you and I will do them as long as we can. I look forward to reading your monarch musings one day. I find it fascinating that you now find magic in the visual and tactile world. It makes perfect sense, of course. You may not have full use of all five senses any more, but you still have three and you’ve found a unique way to use them to preserve this species! I so admire that. Thank you for your blessing. Here’s one for you: May you always be able to spread love and stay close to something that makes you glad you are alive.

      1. Last I counted, I have 4 strong senses–Sight, Smell, Taste, and Touch–and one struggling sense which is Sound. I don’t seem to be losing the others, at least not yet. Love to you and this sensory world.

  7. Thank you Jeanie, a lovely post and reading through all the comments! Your summer sojourn sounds idyllic and so wonderful that it was such a refreshing time. I also feel a bit twixt n between but perhaps apposite since this is the first day of Spring here in SA even though it’s freezing here and various parts of the country 🙂 Happy Spring Day to you! And the first of the month – (a pinch and a punch for the first of the month btw). I’m going to be planting a few things today. Some Cleome seeds that a dear friend gave to me when last we were up on the highveld. Found this morning, carefully saved and I will scatter them and plant etc. Also some beautiful aloe cuttings given me by my sister from her garden when I was in Cape Town recently. And some re-planting …

    Re books: Hermann Hesse – The Glass Bead Game. I think for this one he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. June Singer (I haven’t read her Androgyny one) writes in one of her books – or was it Marion Woodman, but I think June Singer, of her going on retreat in the swiss mountains with the Jungians who were in Zurich for training. There, they were commanded to read this book. She writes a bit about that … I’ve read it at least twice.

    Harper’s Mercurius is definitely worth a re-read 🙂

    I’m pretty sure I’ve still got The Magus in my bookshelves somewhere. I remember picking it up some years ago for a re-read but couldn’t quite get into it, maybe because it seemed a bit dated. But it was a book that profoundly affected me at the time.

    The Chymical Wedding by LIndsay Clarke is a precious book … It was given to me a long time ago and I note that while I didn’t note the year it was given to me, I did note ‘re-read Jan 2010 Plettenberg Bay’.

    I loved the quotes – and just a huge thank you for this lovely post. I am blessed to have met you Jeanie. I don’t know how many years ago it is when we began following each other. I think it was when Susanne van Doorn of mindfunda interviewed you and I was utterly charmed.

    A huge yes to love – and as I think it, when you say yes, the universe also says yes.

    Love, Susan

    1. I hope you don’t mind me jumping in Susan to responding to your comment with a second thumbs up for ‘The Chymical Wedding’ by Lindsey Clarke. It’s a beautiful, deeply alchemical read! And don’t just take my word for it as here’s another couple of short reviews from a poet and an author you’ll already know …

      “I’m awed by the web you’ve spun. Not only the beautiful complexities of it, but the fine texture of the threads. Full of wise things.” — Ted Hughes

      “Lindsay Clarke’s novel excited me more than any other English fiction for some time.” — John Fowles (The Magus)

      1. Wow! Thanks for that, Deborah. Well that sheds more light on where John Fowles might have gotten some of his inspiration for The Magus! (Unless it was written after he wrote it! I’ll have to check that out.) Between you and Susan and John and Ted, I’m convinced. I shall rush to Amazon forthwith and purchase it! And now that I’m back in civilization, it’ll probably only take a day to arrive instead of a week! Much love to both of you. Jeanie

      2. I’m glad you jumped in giving a hurrah for the Chymical Wedding Deborah! The picture on the cover of my paperback is a Rosarium Philosophorum one – there’s no attribution to it – but it’s the king and queen in a vessel in an embrace, a child above, and flowers (probably roses) at the top emerging from the vessel. The first chapter is ‘The Green Man’ …

    2. Dear Susan,

      Happy Spring Day and a pinch and a punch for the first of the month to you too! (I’ve never heard that expression before! Cute.) You’re quite a warrior to be out planting seeds in your garden in freezing weather. I think I’d stay in by the fire.

      You recommended The Glass Bead Game to me a while back and I bought it, read it, and absolutely loved it. Just brilliant. I haven’t read the Chymical Wedding. Thank you for that. I’m being strongly drawn to alchemy more than ever before so I’ll check it out.

      I feel blessed to have met you too, Susan. I remember being so delighted with your knowledge and insights about Jungian psychology when you first began to comment on my posts. I hadn’t known quite how much I needed interaction with like-minded souls until then. So few people I knew understood my passion for Jungian psychology and our conversations were, and still are, so affirming to me.

      Thank you, dear friend,

      Love, Jeanie

        1. Yes Susan, my copy of the ‘Chymical Wedding’ here in the UK, has the same cover design. An unforgettable story indeed! I do love alchemical books of late and have noticed that his recent book ‘Green Man Dreaming: Reflections on Imagination, Myth, and Memory’ a collection of memories, dreams and reflections woven through with rich alchemical poetry must also be added to my ever-growing wish list now. One that many of the readers here Jeanie, especially Elaine, may be most interested in for some in-depth, quality winter reading before the arrival of spring and the Green Man himself. Oh what joyous the written word brings!

          1. OMG Deborah, the book ‘Green Man Dreaming’ sounds too wonderful for speech – ok words will do … there’s nothing quite like beautiful words. A Cape Town friend, Jungian Analyst, said that a book she read ‘The Weight of Ink’ was exquisitely written …

  8. Deborah and Susan, thank you so much for the book suggestions. Okay, now I have to order Green Man Dreaming too! You guys are bottomless wells of inspiration!
    🙂

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