Krowing While You Work

Not My Desk; Marzipan is More Tidy

“Krowing” makes a change from whistling — and while whistling while you work is often a good thing, krowing may well be better, both for you and for the work.

(Krow, krowed, krowing — “krow” is “work” playfully spelled backward. Very early on in school, we learn that many teachers think you aren’t really trying to do the work unless you sit hunched over your paper, tightly clutching your pencil, with your feet all twisted painfully around the chair legs. Ungrounded. It’s best if you frown too. The thing you mustn’t do is look relaxed. None of this actually helps you think better, and it takes a lot of energy while the discomfort is distracting. The fae believe all of this is seriously weird and wonder how we ever get anything done.)

It’s fascinating the way we seem to keep learning the same lessons over and over — until we finally get it really truly deep down. Whoever is in charge of all this seems to be endlessly patient — much more patient with me than I am with myself.

Eileen Herzberg phoned me to say she was planning to run a meditation course and to discuss a few ideas she had about it. “First, I’ll do what you do,” she said blithely, “and start them off with an inner journey to meet their inner meditation teacher.”

I gently pointed out that I had never met my inner meditation teacher, but that it was a really brilliant idea, and I wished I had thought of it. After a brief muddle while we sorted out whose idea it really was (Eileen’s, of course), we went on to discuss how best to set the scene for the inner journey she planned. While we were doing that I took an inward brief peek at my own inner meditation teacher.

The image that flashed up was of a tiny, upright, ancient oriental lady with a face as brown and wrinkled as a walnut shell and bright, bright black eyes. I knew as soon as I saw her that I’d better come back later and listen to what she had to say, and so I did as soon as I got off the phone.

Old Mama Li, she said to me,
Look, kid, you’ve got
to get your act together.
What you’re doing is OK, but
there is so very much
more to be done. For starters, let’s
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. Choose
one task each day, and do it
as a meditation. It’s all
very well, even necessary, to Sit
in meditation, to rest into the silence when
healing is happening, and it’s
not that hard to do
when you are building
a dam in the burn, or painting, or walking
in the hills — doing something
quiet and fun — but
there is much more to it than
that. Meditation has to happen
all the time. Don’t try
to do this all at once, don’t try
to go too fast. For a while,
take just one task a day. In time, this
will give you the place to stand
so you can move the earth —
if you are silly enough
to want to.

She suggested that I start with getting out my quarterly newsletter on my courses and things the next day. That, she said, would give me plenty to practice on. She obviously knows how very much I dislike doing those mailings — thousands of pages to collate, thousands of newsletters to fold and staple, thousands of newsletters to put in envelopes and seal, thousands of mailing labels to put on, thousands of stamps to stick down, thousands of return address labels to put on. Arrrgh! Boring!

The next day, I tried to focus on my breath while I worked on the mailing, but I kept getting muddled about what I was doing. Then I tried to work in time with my breath, but it was so slow — and I found my breath going faster and faster — or my hands racing while I didn’t breathe at all.

My usual way of trying to get through a distasteful task is to rush madly at it, so I kept finding myself sitting on the edge of the chair, panting.

I felt so frustrated! I’d thought this would be so easy, but I couldn’t seem to do it at all. I even caught myself thinking that I ought to be able to do it; that this should not be a problem for me. I was messing up on something I ought to be able to do easily. When I caught myself ‘oughting’ and ‘shoulding’ all over myself, I stopped. I ‘ought’ not to be doing that either!

I just sat there with a page in each hand, almost in tears of frustration. For a while I simply focused on my breathing with some vague idea of getting a running start at stability that way. Finally I asked for help. Why does it so often take so long to remember to ask?

The answer came at once — focus on the energy of the task. It has its own natural rhythm and focus. Find it.

A rhythm established itself as soon as I stopped trying to do something: collate while grounding myself and the newsletter with the earth, center while stapling and folding, put it in the envelope while connecting with the Source, seal it while filling it with healing energy. This was easy.

Gradually the understanding grew in my mind — each newsletter should have its own connection with the earth and the Source, its own healing energy, and this could be available to anyone who touched it, if they wanted and were open to it. Because each one had its own connections, it would constantly be brimming over with healing energy, more than enough for everyone who might need and want it along the way. Some of the envelopes might be reused and carry the energy even further. And what will happen if the paper is recycled? Hmmm. Like ripples from a stone thrown in a pond, out to the edges of the universe and back. What fun!

Then the mailing labels — each one went on with a friendly energy ‘hello’ to the addressee. The stamps each had a smile attached, and the return address labels each went on with a wash of ‘love you’ from me.

I couldn’t believe it when I suddenly ran out of mailing labels. I scurried around the house to see if I could find any more names and addresses on scattered scraps of paper so I could do some more — it was such fun! When I realized what I was doing, I had to laugh at myself. I went off to the post office with bags full of energized newsletters, smilingly stamped.

When I got to the post office, there were hordes of people waiting, and the clerks were all working frantically. By the time I reached the counter, the clerk in front of me had an obvious headache, a scowl on his face, and a fierce impatience with the world. Besides the newsletters, I had several fiddly things to do — letters to the States and other places, each to be weighed and postage calculated individually. You could see him getting more and more impatient as I handed him one thing after another. Finally, putting all of the bags containing the thousands of newsletters on the counter, I said, “And this is the last.” He touched them — and stopped.

For a moment he just stood there. Then he turned and slowly put them in the big mail sacks a few envelopes at a time. He could have dumped them in a bag at a time much more quickly, but he seemed to be savoring each handful. He came back to me with a cheerful smile spread across his face. “There,” he said, “that’s a job well done, isn’t it?”

I was quite taken aback — it was actually working! Up until then I suppose I had just thought it was a game for me to play by myself. Now I realized that it was something that really could spread out, like the glittering ripples on a pond.

So, what did I do the next day? I forgot. Didn’t remember at all to find a task to do mindfully. And the day after that as well. Then I chose things I really didn’t want to do at all for my special task and then just didn’t do them. There is obviously a big resistance here to enjoying the boring, tedious, mundane things of life. What would one have to complain about? Procrastination wouldn’t be any fun if one were procrastinating on having fun. And I can’t scold myself because that is getting trapped in my oughts and shoulds again, so I really can’t just indulge in feelings of guilt or remorse instead of actually doing something.

The only thing left is either to do a task with the clarity and mindfulness thing or not to do it at all and just leave it undone or do it resentfully — but it feels so silly and perverse not to do it.

I hate to feel perversely silly.

It may provide a bit of harmless amusement for the Otherworld folk, but I’d rather not do it that way. ‘Undignified’ I have no problem with, but “perverse” and ‘silly’ combined are just too much. The thing that had become a regular practice was to have a good laugh at myself when I review my day, just before I go to sleep.

Okay. I wrote the above in early 1994. I added this in the middle of the next year: I’m just recovering from a prolonged bout of pneumonia and am taking this opportunity to reformat and update my disorganized web pages, which have gradually become all helter-skelter. I can do this on my laptop while I technically stay in bed, as instructed. And now, I’m thinking about how I can apply these principles to healing myself. What can I do while confined here — besides my regular meditation and self-healing?

I have recovered to the point where I can go down and up the stairs once a day, and I’ve learned to pause on each step and take two healing breaths. And to take five minutes worth of healing breaths on the landing halfway. This way I don’t collapse before the top. (At first, I unconsciously held my breath as I tried to hurry up the stairs before I collapsed. Needless to say, that didn’t work well. But I can’t climb the stairs very often, so this doesn’t seem much of a task to apply this technique to. It seems that there isn’t much I can be doing with it…

But wait! I’m working on these pages. How can I incorporate meditation/self healing into this? Well, breath seems very important just now. Pneumonia messes that up. So perhaps I could incorporate breathing consciously and in a healing way into this somehow. I’m going to try something for a few minutes…

Ah, yes. I just need to stop at the end of every paragraph and breathe in healing energy for a few breaths. Three slow ones feels about right. It changes the whole energy of what I’m doing. Instead of getting a feeling of self-induced pressure building up, I feel tranquility. I smile while I work. That alone tells me it is right. So. I shall stop here and do another page.

Now here we are in 2018! Have I learned this thoroughly? Do I automatically do it on new things as well? Noooo. Do I need to start again? Yes, I do. These days I’m working on writing my first fantasy novel — it seems that it should (there’s that word again!) be easy to apply the paragraph above to that.

Also, I have to use a walker these days, and I do already get it that I have to monitor myself closely and not push myself too hard at that. The rhythm needs to be to walk, stop and sit and breathe, and walk again. And sit and breathe again. But much of the time I push myself to a hazardous edge before I stop. If I were to insert a little more mindfulness in the walking, I might not be so exhausted so soon.

There are also gentle exercises, I’m supposed to do — perhaps I could find some way to keep myself from rushing things there too.

O! I think I see the key here. It’s the rushing at things that is the problem, not the things themselves. I wonder where that comes from? Perhaps if I could find a way to be aware of that before I fall into a self-created hole — perhaps I could really finally get this? What do you think?

Copyright © 1994, 1995, & 2018 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved. This originally appeared in Crann Beathadh, 1994.

Interview About Faery

Recently, I was asked by Isabella Baucco if she could interview me about Faery for a paper she was doing for her folklore class in university, and I agreed. She also said that it would be fine for me to post it here. I may add pictures later. It was rather rushed, but here it is:

Subject: Fae interview questions

Hello! Feel free to answer as many of these as you are comfortable with, in whatever order you would like! Thank you so much for your time, and I’m sorry about the rushed deadline!

When was the first time you came into contact with the fae, and what was that like?

I don’t remember. It seems like they were always there. I suspect it was something like my granddaughter. I watched her pull herself up at the window and look outside when she was about six months old. She peered around out there and finally saw what she was evidently looking for. She giggled and waved at what she saw and promptly fell down, unable to stand up without holding on with both hands. She laid there, giggling and waving her arms and legs for a bit and then got back up. When she caught sight of what she was looking for again, she laughed more and bounced as well as she could, making little crooning sounds at what she could see, her eyes following it (or them) around. She was definitely seeing something, batting her eyelashes at them, and babbling as babies do when they are happy, with an occasional delighted shriek thrown in. I like to think that it must have been much the same for me. Now that she is 15 she doesn’t remember that any more than I do.

How would you define the fae?

They are beings, as far as I understand it, who live at a different frequency than we do. Like the difference between ultraviolet light (and higher frequencies of radiant energy) and the light we see by. The same planet viewed at different “levels”. I’m not a physicist and can’t even begin to figure that out, but I take the faeries word for it as they seem to think they know. I just know that they are there, and I have to be quite quiet inside myself in order to perceive them. However, I see them with my eyes like I see human auras simply as light. And like human auras, sometimes I see them, but mostly I sense them in other ways — scent, voices, sounds, melody. People vary in how we perceive these things, and I’m personally less clairvoyant than I am clairaudient and clairsentient. They seem to live much longer than we do for the most part, and they come in as many varieties as what we think of as “normal” earth creatures, plants, and other living beings.

Because of this, they perceive the world differently than we humans do. They have tried to explain and show me, but I suspect it’s rather like me trying to explain mathematics to the cat. One of my cats is quite sure that she is due two crunchy treats before each meal — she knows that one is not enough and that three are exciting and special, but two are what she clearly expects. I get very accusing looks if there is only one left in the jar. Does she count 1, 2, 3? Or does she just know in some other way?

Sometimes I feel the frustration of the fae when they are trying to explain something to me, and I regret being so “hard of understanding” but it’s how humans generally are. Fortunately, the fae don’t give up easily and may try to explain things later in incomprehensible or funny dreams or other ways.

How are you able to tell when you have come into contact with fae?

For me, there is usually happy, bubbly, yet peaceful feeling or almost as if there is a lot of static electricity in the air. (You need to understand here that nearly everything I say about them is a sort of metaphor for the actual experience. It’s not static electricity and it doesn’t make sparks that sting, but that’s the closest I can come to a description of it.) The air is buzzing without a sound? There may be a sense of presence akin to someone standing close behind you — you may not see or hear them, but you know that they are there.

It’s tricky to maintain the necessary quietness inside myself when I’m sensing that exuberance around. At the same time, I may see lights or hear voices or music or other sounds. There may be light touches to get my attention or the hum of healing energy. Often they tell me something I didn’t know but needed to understand. Sometimes they make jokes — occasionally visual puns or other kinds of faery humor. It’s hard to explain this — often their communications arrive as a burst of insight that is a mixture of emotions, words, and energy. To them, these bursts are the normal way to communicate, but to a human, they may require some mental unpacking to grasp all the layers of meaning, if in fact we ever do get it all.

How would you describe your emotional state during the experiences you have had? Are there any extremes/outliers?

Variable. It depends on what is going on. Is it serious or purely fun? Deep or playful? We humans tend to separate these mental and emotional states, but to the fae, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we have had long discussions about the way humans limit themselves to a linear one-thing-at-a-time in our perceptions while faery communication/perception is more holistic. A burst of faery insight may contain joy and sorrow both. They have argued that we miss the point of doing things when we separate play from work, insisting that all purposeful activities are both, and if they are not, we’ve got something quite wrong about why and how we’re doing it.

How would you describe the fae you have encountered?

That’s difficult too. An individual faery may make the impression of being nine feet tall, but to them (if I understand this correctly), it’s more about intensity of presence than it is about physical size. In fact, they seem to find it confusing when I say something like “nine feet tall” as if they were limited to a specific size, space, or shape when really that isn’t so. There is another thing here — let’s take the human “aura” as an example. “Auras” are very fluid and changeable. They are the bioenergy field that exists through and extends beyond the human physical body — and the bodies of animals, insects, and all the other things we consider to be living, physical beings made of matter. But if the physicists are correct, matter and energy are the same thing, but slowed down and compacted or faster and more free. If E=mc2, this must be so. Nuclear weapons suggest this is true and a little bit of “matter” can quickly be converted to a great deal of “energy”.

Apparently, while humans perceive matter and energy as different things, the fae don’t. It is all one thing. I just realized something! In many belief systems about the fae, they are regarded as the “Elder Folk” and much older than the human species. We human and other earth beings could be a sort of Faery larva (or prenatal embryo) and may eventually (though the millennia?) grow up to be fae ourselves. That’s a mind-boggling thought! Anyway, back to my previous line of thought about trying to describe the fae and how they explained that to me.

I could try to describe an individual fae. I could even draw a picture of one. BUT, as they have been quick to explain, that picture is just a metaphor for who they really are. What we “see” is a watered-down version of their personality and/or character. What we “see” as bodies or faces is a meeting point somewhere between our conceptions and their reality. We see a particular kind of face/body that represents their character or personality as we (as individuals) would see that being. Another human might project a different face on that same person. For a simple example, I have heard a few people say that brown eyes are “warm” and blue eyes are “cold”. Having blue eyes myself, I don’t agree, but I have heard it said more than once, usually by brown-eyed people. To a person who believes that and is perceiving a warm personality, they would see the faery eyes as brown, whereas I, not believing, might see them as blue or even some color unlike normal human eyes. The same thing is true of all the features — we perceive personality in flesh, but we are not always correct. A human may be quite ugly but be kind and friendly, a lovely person — or they may be physically beautiful and yet narcissistic or psychopathic. Yet often the way we perceive the fae is that we project the features and expression on the personality the fae are projecting. Confusing? Well, yes it is. Communication with faeries is frequently fraught with confusion, resulting largely from our own limitations and projections. If we want to see someone as scary, we will project that on them, true or false.

Have you encountered different types of fae? How did these experiences differ?

Yes, I have. They may differ vastly — differing as much as experiencing a human versus experiencing a rock or a tree. This question either requires a book in answer or can’t be readily answered at all. I hope the rest of my answers here will help compensate for the absence of one here.

How would you describe the energy of places where fae might be/where you have encountered them?

Again, they differ a great deal, depending on what is going on there. I need to say here that there are places we may experience the fae more easily, but the fae are, in fact, everywhere. But in places that are noisy, unpleasant, distressing, violent, we tend to be overwhelmed by these loud things and miss out entirely on the much more subtle presence of the fae. But they are still there.

Have you had any experiences that have stuck with you or changed your life?

Many, many, many.

What do you think the origin of fae is?

I really don’t know. Even they haven’t tried to explain it to me. If the legends have it right, they have been around a lot longer than we have. I’m even less certain, if possible, about the origins of gods and goddesses and the universe. We humans are just babes blundering about in the universal woods. I’m not even certain about our own origins.

Are there any experiences that you would like to talk about?

Dozens. Hundreds, in fact. After all, I’m 80 and they’ve always been a part of my world. But I won’t. Well, perhaps one or two.

One was a series of conversations I had with a couple of them about money. On first of the month, I was writing checks to pay my bills. and a couple of them asked what that was “really” about. They didn’t like, they said, how I got all tangled up when I was doing it. We got into a long discussion about money. Eventually, I tried to explain money as a sort of “crystalized energy” which represented what we received from and gave to others. They seemed doubtful, but agreed to study it from that point of view.

The next month as I was paying my bills again, they expressed disagreement with my explanation. They had been watching this “money thing” and had found that “some people gave a great deal of energy in exchange for little money while others might receive a lot of money in exchange for very little of their energy.” It didn’t, they said, seem fair at all, especially as one only needed to look at the aura of a human to tell if they were giving more than they were receiving and how they felt about it.

I explained that, although this was probably true, we humans weren’t good at perceiving auras clearly enough to do that. They said, “Well, you could be if you practiced!” This is a remark I’ve heard from them in other contexts like teleportation, telepathy, astral travel, and other borderline things people sometimes do. I had to admit that this could be so, but as yet we hadn’t got that good at it. This seemed like a standoff, so I went back to paying my bills, and they agreed to study it some more so we could talk about it next time.

The next month rolled around and again I was writing checks to pay bills. They hovered in front of me, watching. Finally, one said, “We still don’t think this makes any sense.” I should perhaps mention that I am not at my best when I’m dealing with money and bills and numbers, and without thinking, I snapped, “It’s a game we are playing, and money is the way we keep score!”

“Oh! Why didn’t you tell us that before? It makes perfect sense!”

They promptly vanished, leaving me thinking, “It does? Really?” It didn’t make sense to me, did it? And yet I was afraid that it actually did. All that angst and suffering people went through was just for the counters in a game? Yet, over the years I have come to agree with them more and more. But it’s still a bit unnerving.

Hmmm. I could go on and on. That was an easy tale to tell, but many happenings are much more complicated, perhaps even profound. Yet, though I’d like to tell them, and even though the fae insist that “doing good in the right way” makes us stronger, it’s quite late and I’m tired and almost falling asleep on my keyboard. The cats have given up and gone to bed and the fae are looking a bit disapproving — they, too, seem to have enjoyed this, but enough is enough for the moment. They even look a little smug about it, possibly because of the embryo thing. Or something else — I don’t know. But I do need to get to bed before the birds start waking up and making a musical ruckus in our forest here.

Good night, and good morning, Bella. And thank you.

Faery blessings to you,

Jessica

October Dreaming

Have you ever dreamed that you could see in the dark? As if everything were faintly luminous? Dreamed that you were small and powerful with a body so lithe and agile that you could dance in moonlight like a wraith?

Have you ever wakened from a dream like that and found a cat beside you, paws twitching on the blanket and her breath coming fast?

Did you wonder whose dream that really was?

When a cat wakes and looks at you with a question in her eyes, do you wonder what she is asking? Do you wonder if she wants to know what you heard, what you’re thinking, dreaming?

Do you ever wonder if all around you everything understands something — except you? Is there is a web of communication between all things—cats, trees, slugs, coyotes, stars? Do you ever wonder if we humans have fallen out of that net somehow? Dreaming that we are better, smarter, more important because we are too headblind and deaf to hear, to see what everything else knows? And we, sleepwalking in our dreams of superiority, blundering around destroying, trampling, wrecking that scintillating, intricate web of life?

Have you forgotten everything? Do you wonder what the cat knows? Is there any way at all to get out of your own head? And into the bigger world outside?

????????????????????????

Guess what? There is a path — several paths. Meditation is one of the best ways to begin.

Meditation links:

Basic Meditation by Jessica Macbeth. On Jesa’s Woo Woo Classes home page you can use the search function to look up more meditation information on those pages.

Shambala Basic Meditation Instructions This one also has a link to a helpful video.

And a meditative exercise applicable to daily life:

Meditating While You Work by Jessica Macbeth

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.