Paris [from New England]

I went on vacation to Paris, my friends. It was amazing in a lot of ways. The food (!!), the art, the history, the cultural differences (some of which were awesome), and just getting out of town were all fabulous. I also learned a lot about myself because…wherever you go, there you are. It was a good trip in many ways. I’m still chewing on some of the inner work I chose to look at while I was there; I’ll post about that later. For now, just some fave photos.

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Of course, let us start with le Tour Eiffel. This was taken from next to the Museum of Architecture, which, not high on the list of most tourists, was actually really informative and interesting. They took casts of some of the important buildings in Paris (i.e. the upper reaches of Notre Dame) so that you can see the details up close.

The Eiffel Tower is enclosed (after the terrorist attack of 2015), so you have to get through security to go up, but it’s worth the time and effort. The science and architecture is amazing, as are the views.

 

Rooftop gardens seen from the Eiffel Tower.

 

A view from the Eiffel Tower, looking at Sacre Coeur church on the hill in the distance.

 

We opted to stay out of the Louvre (if you go, either plan to be there for three days, or pick what you want to visit beforehand and focus on that), and instead we visited the Musee D’Orsay. I had my fill of Impressionists (Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas); it was fantastic to see the paintings from my Humanities courses in real life. For me, the Art Nouveau section was the best, though. The skill of the crafting of that era always blows me away. I wept for the beauty of it.

 

We also visited one of the largest and most famous cemeteries in the city: Pere LaChaise. Many famous people are buried here, not the least of which is Oscar Wilde. The mausoleums were incredible. Rows and rows of tiny, ornate, gothic structures dedicated to the afterlife. It was beautiful and macabre, which I love.

 

 

There was even a famous broad from Boston there.

 

This is actually a fountain on the backside of the Museum of Architecture. There are a lot of fountains around Paris. Not all of them this grand.

 

The “Lock Bridge” is no longer, but that doesn’t mean lovers don’t find ways to keep up the tradition. We saw this on a walk along the Seine. (We also saw a couple fighting about their lock at another place. Ah, the City of Love.)

 

We did not visit Montmarte, an area well known for its artists and the location of the Moulin Rouge. But there was plenty of street art to keep us interested. We saw several works from Invader.

This was not the whole of our trip. There were other museums, boulangerie’s, many cafe’s, and lots of just walking around and noticing Paris. We stayed in a neighborhood called Les Lilas (The Lilacs) in a spare, well organized apartment inhabited by someone who won the French version of a Tony (called a ‘Moliere’) for her work in costumes. She had the most amazing library of fashion books. We learned how to ride the Metro – always wear your Resting Bitch Face, because nobody smiles (in fact, it would be considered flirting to smile at someone). I had one of the most tasty meals of my life and also a lime sorbet I will never forget.

Paris was a delight for the senses. I can see why they call it the City of Love, but it’s just a place where, if you are from out of town, you can be utterly stunned on a regular basis. Which is pretty cool. Paris was not necessarily a place I felt at home (in the way I do when we go to England), but it was most certainly worth our time and money and I will visit again. Paris changed small things in me; it was beautiful in every way.

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Love from the path,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Nightswimming

For whatever reason, this time of year, I get nostalgic for my youth. My early adulthood. It’s the quiet nights and the return of the dark, I think. Summer is ending and so is the summer season of my life.

Last night my husband played the R.E.M. album Automatic for the People at dinner. We usually listen to 70s Lite Rock or the k.d. lang station on Pandora. But he put on that album instead. And “Nightswimming” came on. For whatever reason, I was 15 again, and taking my first swim at dusk. The sun setting, a fire near our campsite, my friends and I in the water. Sometimes splashing, sometimes quiet. I watched the stars come out floating in the water. And then changed into clothes, listened to Van Halen by the fire, and stayed up waaay too late laughing and flirting and talking shit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

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|| “Nightswimming” by R.E.M. ||

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it’s so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge
The moon is low tonight

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away
Replaced by everyday

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming

You, I thought I knew you
You I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly underneath my breath
Nightswimming

The photograph reflects, every streetlight a reminder
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night

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It’s time for a night swim again, I think. My 43 year-old self needs it. The quiet. The water. The stars. As an adult, friends have pools and waterside homes. But there’s a lake around, too. I just need to sneak in. At dusk. Nightswimming.

Love from the path,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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New Moon in Leo

Hello, friends and fellow travelers! I hope this post finds you well. Tonight is the new moon in Leo (with a solar eclipse), and you know how I love a dark moon. So, here’s what our guides have to tell us.

 

From BigSkyAstrology:

But at this New Moon in Leo—a Solar Eclipse, with the Sun and Moon square Jupiter in Scorpio—the impulse to break with the past and hurdle toward a new adventure is at least as strong as Leo’s desire to bloom where we’re planted. Breaking with the past can be very liberating, and sometimes the only way to initiate change is to act boldly and irrevocably. At this New Moon, we have a better than average chance to make changes that really mean something.

We live in reckless, destructive times. But seen another way, the world is in the process of recreating itself, and we are weaving change and upheaval into the fabric of our new future as we go along. Sanity tells us to be afraid, but faith whispers that there are no false moves now; however random, even capricious these changes appear to be, they are embedding themselves into our new foundation like stray river rocks and sea glass.

Perhaps this Leo New Moon season calls for a new glyph for the Sun – not a closed circle with a dot in the middle, but rather a labyrinth. A labyrinth has a single, unambiguous route we can follow to the center and back. We set forth in life on a walk through this labyrinth, and no matter which course we take, or how lost we sometimes feel, we’ll inevitably end up precisely where we’re meant to be.

The New Moon is a dark time. It is midnight now in our gardens, and it is tempting to suspect that chaos lurks in every shadow and to obey the limitations of fear without question. But while the New Moon in Leo is invisible to us just now, just below the horizon in the night sky, it’s still there, and we feel it even if we can’t see it. It reminds us that we are works in progress, and we are creating, every day, the selves we want to be and the world we want to live in. Even if there is much in the world, and in us, that could be better, Leo reassures us that it will be—because we are free to be whatever we want to be, and because there is so much good in us.

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From MysticMamma.com:

Oh the power of presence. Our presence = our power. In each moment we live we have the opportunity to stand in it. Truly stand.

Our Lion heart is so big. Our need to connect and feel loved is so strong, but sometimes looking for that external validation is what trips us.

Our inner Queen and King remind us to abide in the heart of Love. Roar who we are relative to Creation. Feel in our body that we are worthy and wonderful.

With compassionate love for Self, respect for Self and trust in Self, we can safely stand as Queen and King of our own jungle.

Our inner well is continually filled through our connection to the land and this animate universe that we are part of.

Once we are filled from that inner well we can step forth with maturity, poise, and a compassionate open heart ready to hold our pride.

When we anchor that acceptance from within, we create a sense of safety that allows for all to come out and play so together we can revel in the deep passion of Life. 

 

All the energy and intention don’t mean a thing unless you take a step.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

 

The GoddessCircle tells us:

This eclipse cycle is bringing about big change in our lives. This can include very sudden or unexpected changes to our plans, relationships, lifestyle, living environment, or beliefs. We are reminded to have courage in the face of the unknown and to dare to dream. Take a chance and follow your desires. We are reminded not to get hung up on “how things have been done in the past.” This is a time of striking out in bold, new ways. Thins such as relationships, beliefs, and plans and our idea of our future are put to the test. This eclipse cycle is urging us to release what isn’t aligned with our truth and our desires. We are being reminded in all things as we move forward to follow our heart and to keep only what we want to build our world with. 

Unexpected changes.
Paths shifting.
Have courage in the face of the unknown.
Dare to dream.
Take a risk.
Don’t get stuck on how things were done in the past.
Forge a new path.
Relationships, beliefs, and plans are put to the test. 

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From Bairavee Balasubramaniam (The Sky Priestess):

As we fearlessly engage with with the wisdom and healing of the Heart, we also change patterns in ancestral, past-life, and collective karmic dynamics. There is so much transmutation possible at this time. So much of the old patterns that are rising to the surface to be cleared. 

You are being asked to look at the subconscious emotions and beliefs that allow or deny your access to an innate sense of sovereignty. Look at where you may be holding intense emotions- be it regrets, grief, anger, resentments, envy, false pride, and so on. 

This is exactly why you may want to set the intention to release as we get closer to the solar eclipse in Leo. It may happen at the click of one’s fingers, or it may take longer to manifest. Either way, your desire to release that which weighs you down, or acknowledge or transmute it, or whatever else may be appropriate – is what counts. 

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I have nothing else to tell you, dear ones, except that it has been rainy here in New England and I have felt slightly more at home this week. It took me ten years here to understand why New Englanders think that a rainy city, like Seattle, would seem so awful- the rain here is warm, the humidity is near constant in parts of the summer, and the wet never quite goes away until the dry heat of the last of August. In Seattle, the rain is always cold, and there is no humidity, and the wet stops when the rain stops. It is nothing like here, and yet, I always feel a bit calmer when the rain comes to New England in the Summer. We had a delightful gully-washer last night and it was grand to be awakened by the rain at two in the morning.

That’s all. Nothing but a note about my favorite weather. It’s been a long day and a strange week. Happy dark moon.

All my love to you,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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The Lion’s Gate

Today is 8/8 and they call this day ‘The Lion’s Gate’ in astrology. It’s because we are now in Leo (lion) season in the astrological calendar and other than that, I don’t know why they call it that. Ha! But it’s a day that is specially observed each year.

Looking at what various people say online about it, there are a lot of opinions about what today means in light of the fact that we have a solar eclipse on the 11th along with a new moon. I think a theme from all the things I’ve read is that this is the day is a portal. We can make decisions today- perhaps big ones.

In terms of making decisions, many of the planets have been in retrograde these past few weeks- which always shows us something more clearly, more obviously. If you’ve noticed any patterns coming up, or that you’re wanting something, or done with something, that’s probably the energy of the retrograde planets making things clearer to you. You can use today to decide about those things.

Leo is the season of play, having fun, and enjoying life. Leo also teaches us about ourselves- everything from how we express our skills and talents in everyday life right down to who we are in our most deepest self. And everything in between.

I love what Saltwater Stars says:

“You are the life-force you need to be familiar with in order to build trust with yourself and create the conditions, over time, to thrive. 

Stay hydrated, listen to your own body and rhythm, breathe as you can, and if you must use all your energy, focus on getting rid of all the bullshit you don’t want to take with you in this new era.”

That’s a prayer worth memorizing for all time.

I think today is a day for decisions. You decide to be done. You decide to tell them you love them. You decide to never look back. You decide to tell yourself the truth. You decide to feel. It doesn’t have to be something big. It just has to be a step.

Decide. Walk through the portal.
The strength of the lion will help you.

 

Photo by Jenny Marvin on Unsplash

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I’ve made a few decisions in the last few weeks. Some have been small. Some have brought a sense of deep calm (which is weird, considering they are about big things). I’ve been thinking about this site a lot.

I started it as a place to document my journey through through the Sex Surge. Sort of. I had to find a way to make what was happening to me during that time an okay thing. I looked for the spiritual in sex, for the divinity. Now, in some ways, that’s spiritual bypassing- using spirituality to go around the deep work of a difficult phase or emotion. But, if you’ve been reading for a while, you know I don’t shy away from telling the truth- even the dark, dirty ones. There are plenty of posts here that describe my anguish and frustration with desire, sex, and relationships.

But, I think that what I wanted to know was that sex and desire are, ultimately, okay (because I was taught the opposite as a child). And I know that now. Yes, I still get confused about them. Yes, I still want to fulfill things I shouldn’t (not so much lately, thank goodness). Yes, I still have to look back and remember “I know how to do this.” But I really do know that desire and sex and relationships are good things, high callings, and tools to wield skillfully. And a lifelong journey.

I’ve said other things here. Other ideas about politics and spirituality and racism and pop culture. I have a few more things to say still. But I think I’m coming to understand that the purpose of this site has been fulfilled. I know what I wanted to know back then. I’m not sure I have more to say because you’ve already seen the inside of my heart and my brain in these posts. I will always be changing and evolving and healing and living- and it will be different, but it will also be the same. And is that worth documenting? I’m not sure anymore.

There is a book called The INFJ Writer and one of the things the author says is that INFJs, if they can make art out of their difficulty, will stay with that difficulty until the bitter end. And that has been true here. I also know that as an introverted person (that’s the ‘I’ in INFJ) I share my sensuality and sexuality best with just one or two people. I’m not flashy in my sensuality on a day-to-day basis. And I don’t know that I need to talk about it here anymore, either.

Some of the small changes I’ve been working with lately are things like how I wear my hair. Last summer it was all ponytails- I felt energized and younger in them. This summer I have a kind of Victorian mop on my head that makes my neck look pretty with tendrils falling down my cheeks and across my eyes. I look my age. I’m thinking about letting the gray hair come in naturally. Gray, brown, and purple. I think it would be lovely.  I’ve also gotten better at holding boundaries. I am going to bed on time (like an old lady) and feeling so much better for it. I’ve swayed the social media algorithm to my side and now it’s more fun than it’s been in five years (because no yucky people* bother me anymore, of it they do, I don’t see it). I’m getting better and better at taking good care of myself – loving myself. And these small choices and delights and ideas tell me I am changing, too.

Living here, inside these posts, sharing my ideas and perspectives, it’s still very alluring. I will need to think more about whether I am done here. Because this space was always for me. I’m grateful to anyone who reads or finds what I say useful. But it was always a place for me to navel gaze and create and express- and I’m not sure I want to do that here anymore. I still don’t know. But it’s been on my mind, so I wanted to let you know.

I hope you’re all well, fellow travelers. And I hope you take a step into something new today, with the Lion’s Gate as your guide. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be right with your soul.

All my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

* These are folks whose behavior I find distasteful. They’re not yucky, they just get pleasure from bothering me online. They are both men, immature, to whom I offered the world. And when they said ‘no’ and I finally accepted it, they wanted, one way or another, to remain in contact. (What is it about that? When a woman says her final ‘no’ she somehow becomes infinitely alluring. I don’t get it. I know now that immature men get frightened when you offer them the world; they would rather deal with pieces or just the aspects of you they like. Mature men want the whole of a woman/partner. This needn’t be about age, my husband knew, at 24, that he wanted all of me.) So, instead of being the victim of the algorithm, I learned to use it for my own peace of mind.

 

 

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Summer Lovin’

Happy Lughnasadh! It’s a little late, but this is another turn of the wheel of the year. Today we celebrate where we’ve gotten to so far this year. (And if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, Happy Imbolc!)

So, have a seat, take a breath, center in your self, and think about where you’ve been so far this year.  Think all the way back to January- where were you then? Where are you now? What growth have you stepped into? What have you changed about yourself or your life? What are you grateful for today that you didn’t even know about in January? I hope it’s a happy celebration.

In honor of that, I’m sharing a list of songs that have been keeping me company this summer. It’s not a playlist, per se, because it’s not at all curated, it doesn’t send me any particular place, it’s just what I’ve been humming to on the radio and Pandora for the last few weeks.

If I Didn’t Know Any Better | Alison Krauss & Union Station

Witness | Sarah McLachlan

All That You Have Is Your Soul | Tracy Chapman

Tennessee Whiskey | Chris Stapleton

All At Once | The Fray

Endless Summer Nights | Richard Marx

The Next Time I Fall | Peter Cetera + Amy Grant

Meet Me Half Way | Kenny Loggins

On My Own | Patti LaBelle ft. Michael McDonald

Make Me Lose Control | Eric Carmen

I’ll Be Over You | Toto ft. Michael McDonald

I guess I’ve got a thing for Michael McDonald? Anyway, these have just been fun to listen to (some of them more bittersweet, which is my favorite emotion). The summer is definitely starting to wind down- I can already see the changes starting to slowly add up. But we still have our big summer trip to come and that’s going to be lots of fun. I’ll post pictures, I promise.

In any case, enjoy the music, celebrate your life and all that you’ve made happen so far this year, and love what’s left of this season.

Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

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