Duende: A Creative Fusion of Spirit and Matter

September 24, 2016–Last week, I asked, “Where do spirit and matter meet?,”and this week, as I sat down to write, I felt called to answer this question: they meet when we share our soul’s longing and gift with others through creative fusion and love…when we embody our spirit through creative expression.

This is so much what happened at this past Thursday’s Storytelling and Spanish Guitar and Tapas event I had at my local library with Ronaldo Baca, a Flamenco guitarist, who played guitar as I shared my story of passion and love for the Spanish land and culture that inspired my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. About 45 people joined me and Ronaldo Baca, who had chosen to collaborate with me  because he, too, understood and shared the depth of love I had for the Spanish land and her soul that “raised me.”

14449971_1297864496891815_7809625475572612846_n

My reading began with these words: “There’s a voice inside the earth, subtle, yet there, easing her song, her melody of sweet, nurturing love into every part of our being. This voice–this ancient, primordial song–came to me as a child, from the land in Spain who sang my young child’s soul alive. This evening is dedicated to her and to the novel that I wrote, which comes from her soul.”

Ronaldo Baca played and sang a Flamenco Malaguena before I began, and ended with an Alegria.  It was so beautiful and carried such soul and duende–that 14358994_1297863966891868_4847407625166353127_nspontaneous, raw, creative passion–that I felt a great of wave of gratitude come over me. I then told the story of the earth’s spirit, the soul of Spain, and that place within us as a child that is so alive, and full of imagination and room for spirit to rise within us. It was a sweet, honey-filled way to honor Equinox and the first day of autumn.

At the end of the event,  one woman came to me in tears and shared how I had reminded her of her magical childhood–of a time when she and others in her family believed in spirits, in worlds unseen, and lived the richness of her child’s imagination. This evening for her, and for others (including me), was a reminder that there’s an eternal door open to us to walk through, at any time, into this place of magic–of duende14468783_1297864270225171_5534532804577011312_o–that we may have carried as a child…and to live this once again.

Check it out: A Short Clip from Storytelling Event

My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474769851&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende (or can be ordered through your local bookstore).

 

 

 

 

 

37. Where do Wild and Order Meet?

WHERE DO WILD AND ORDER MEET FOR YOU?

Blog 37: April-June, 1998—“Do you know where sex and love meet? Do you know where wild and order meet? Do you know where thoughts and actions meet, where the sun meets the skimming edge of the earth?”…

I wrote these words from New Jersey, inside my parent’s house in Ho-Ho-Kus, a town half an hour from New York City. At age 30, I was settling into my new home with my parents, adjusting to this insane reality of suffering immense pain when walking, and needing family support to heal. Inside the emotional challenges of living with my parents, I began to build my inner strength and resilience through meditation and writing (writing my novel, and reflecting on life in my journal).

So here I was inside this constricting order (for an artist, the NJ suburbs and my parents’ way of living was a great contrast to mine), determined to remain “awake” to the wild, free spirit that I was. So I continued to write:

“Wild and order meet in a place of art—sacred art. Not just the art of fine pieces mounted on walls for sale, or the art of a solo journeyer’s day in and day out, trying to make sense of his or her life. No, it’s the art of living, the art of bringing together the unity of inside and out that completes us like rivers merging into the sea.

“This is the art that, in its magic-making, cannot distinguish between worlds, cannot distinguish between right and wrong, left and right. In its magic-making, we do not need 557424_171105909691323_1799474373_nto know answers. We do not need to know distinctions. We need only know that we are alive, and that in our aliveness the distinctions between inside and out are only a deeper urge to deny that we are God.”

*My recently published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about this kind of magic. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende . I will also be celebrating an evening of Child of Duende Storytelling, Spanish Guitar (Ronaldo Baca will be playing Flamenco Guitar), and Tapas at the Corrales Community Library in New Mexico on Thursday, September 22nd at 6:30p.m. http://www.corraleslibrary.org/event/join-local-author-michelle-adam-for-an-exciting-evening-of-storytelling-spanish-guitar-and-tapas-as-she-reads-from-her-new-novel-child-of-duende/ (here’s a link to an article for the event:   http://alibi.com/art/51899/Telling-the-Souls-Truth.html).

WHERE DO WILD AND ORDER MEET FOR YOU?

36. Change and Constant: Two Sides of the Same Coin

WHEN DID YOU RETURN RELUCTANTLY TO WHERE YOU STARTED?

Blog 36: April, 1998—I was back where I had started one and half years ago—at my parents house in the suburbs of New Jersey. Not one bit of me imagined I’d be back or wanted to return. After all, I had left my parent’s house seeking a new life on the West Coast, free from the angst I had felt on the East Coast.

It seemed I returned the same person I had been, though, other than more vulnerable and scared. The protection and walls I had built for myself as a teenager and beyond had crumbled to the ground and all I felt was the shell of my body that ached when I moved.

The first nights at my parent’s house were nightmares. I couldn’t sleep. An immense fright gripped me. I felt unsafe. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t relax. This was not home. I was not home. Who I needed to become didn’t have a voice here. So I wrote:

“My nerves are throbbing a heartbeat of exhaustion. Where’s the line between pain and love?—that thin line that time breathes between the past and the present, as the future becomes an amalgam of the two. Every day, my body is deciding, crossing the blurry lines of time, of truth and reason. Throbbing, my legs are throbbing. They’ve had enough and yet it’s not over yet. My soul’s on fire, determined for me to hear her cry. I keep listening. Stillness settles in my bones, while my whole body beats a heart that doesn’t stop.

As I returned to the place I had begun, having  changed beyond what I could have imagined—struggling to walk and no longer the tough, willful young lady I had been—it pained me to experience the angst I had lived when with my family and on the East Coast. I was living what the 19th century French critic, journalist and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once wrote: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” But what for? Why return here? I asked myself.

Maybe I needed to unwind much more than I had ever thought, and I had to return to the place where the winding had begun. And maybe there’s some truth to a recent blogger’s analysis of Jean Baptiste’s epigraph: “Change and constant are two sides of the same coin, one we are rarely taught to see as whole. One without the other should feel like the sound of one hand clapping.” (Sean Owczarek)

If this is true, then maybe change couldn’t occur for me without the constant of family and home to remind me of that which I was changing from.

WHEN DID YOU RETURN RELUCTANTLY TO WHERE YOU STARTED?

This blog tells the story behind the writing of my recently published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473572064&sr=8-1&keywords=Child+of+Duende  (more information on my website: http://www.michelleadam.net)

35. Writing Our Way Home

WHAT PART OF YOURSELF SHOWED YOU THE WAY HOME?

Blog 35: Dec. 1997-April 1998—Have you ever discovered, after multiple attempts to run and hide from where you are, that you end up, once again, with yourself, wondering what to do? 

When I lived in Berkeley, California, crippled from pain, and yet still trying to find ways to escape the state I was in, there was one way I consistently came back to myself. It was through writing. Writing became my way of listening, as later my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, became one long listening experience put on paper. It became a soothing way to come home and discover myself beneath the layers of false existence I had learned to become.

In my small room in Berkeley, with a one plant in the corner I’d sit in front of and meditate (or try to) and below a small sunroof that sprinkled light-filled hope into my day, I would write. My right hand asked the question, my left answered. The premise of this approach was that my non-dominant left hand would answer like a child, innocently, and without all the excess verbage and layers we as adults had learned to wrap over our feelings.

I started simply: “How are you feeling now?” my right hand asked, and my left hand wrote: “I don’t want to go on anymore. I want to hide.” The conversation continued:

 –What do you want to hide from?                                  il_570xN.439727466_pj80
–The World.
–Why do you want to hide from the world?
–Because I am scared I will not be loved and seen.
–Why are you scared you will not be loved or seen?
–Because I am so much more than these people see me as.
–What are you that they can’t see?
–I am a river, a stream. I am grass dancing in the wind. I am love, I am alive.
–What do they see you as?
–They see me as little Michelle who can’t do anything practical in this world.
–Why do they see you as that?
–They need me to be able to fit into their little boxes.
–So what are you, Michelle?
–I am a part of an indigenous world. My roots have always been from a simpler place, a place of giving love.

As I got to the end of my writing, my left hand—that of the child—was the one that carried the wisdom for my adult self. “You are trying to bridge two worlds,” she wrote, encouraging the adult me to trust my heart and not give up hope.

It seems ironic, yet so true, that it is the part of us that is most vulnerable and scared that carries the wisdom to bring us home. The famous mystic poet Rumi once wrote in The Lame Goat: “You’ve seen a herd of goats going down to the water. The lame and dreamy goat brings up the rear.”  But, “There are many different kinds of knowing. The lame goat’s kind is a branch that traces back to the roots of presence. Learn from the lame goat, and lead the herd home.”

As in Rumi’s poem, the lame goat that I was led me home …though my writing.

WHAT PART OF YOURSELF SHOWED YOU THE WAY HOME?

 

34. The Courage to Keep Going

WHEN HAVE YOU HAD IMMENSE COURAGE TO KEEP GOING?

Blog 34: Dec. 1997-April 1998—I watched a woman grab onto the railing at the YMCA in Berkeley, using it to stabilize her walk, which consisted of one step every minute. Her feet and legs were like those of a Raggedy Anne doll, hard to control and weakening below her.

Like her, I too had been swimming at the YMCA, and was doing what I could to regain my capacity to walk without pain. But the extreme limits and pain I had experienced since injuring myself in New Mexico more than a year ago, and since moving to Berkeley and the Bay Area of California, were becoming too much to bear—or at least until I saw this woman at the YMCA show me what true courage looked like. She helped me be grateful for what I had, even if it was little.

I had been living in a house full of depressed people in Berkeley (which probably included me) and was now seeking another place to live. But, with the high cost of living and limited options, I began to wonder if I’d end up moving back in with my parents in New Jersey. While searching out my options, I wrote, both in my journal and what later would become my novel. Writing became my refuge, and an attempt to clear the cobwebs of this jobless, debilitated place I was in.

I wrote: “Oh, Berkeley, your magical hills and your fog that rolls into the Bay enticed me for a while, until all the forces gathered these soul parts of mine into one unexpected stew. I came for life, and instead I got death. Though, love, at times, visited my bedside, reminding me of hope.

“Oh, Berkeley, you were such a temptation, and now you are this place where my body struggles to speak. It struggles to break free, although it does not know how. Oh, Berkeley, your winds have thrown me to the ground, when what I had asked for was to be able to leap.

“My hunger has followed me out here and has nagged me into this sleep, an uncontrollable sleep. I so want to sleep now, to sleep and dream this story, with an ending that brings vitality and renewed hope for a life of love.”

WHEN HAVE YOU HAD IMMENSE COURAGE TO KEEP GOING?

Honest Journey on Wings of Grace

Why go back in time? Why recount what has come before, when I am here, on the wings of grace with my novel Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit and its sweet reception?

Since January, I’ve been telling my personal story behind my recently published novel. Going back 20 years, I’ve been recounting the strands of thread that, bit by bit, wove the tapestry of my story of a magical girl in Spain, and another who finds her way back home through supernatural vines. But why go back in time?

I find the answer to my question when I offer storytelling events and gatherings where we can share that part of ourselves that longs to fly on the wings of grace and with a passion that is innately inside us all, even if only in the form of embers.

This past week I shared my story, both personal and of my novel, at a local New Mexico bookstore, Bookworks, and was not only blessed by a large turnout, but by people who told their own stories. They were stories of anxiety, pain, and feeling intensely. While we live in a culture that often seeks a light and happy tale, I have found that it is the ache and pain of being alive–and our willingness to feel it along with the joy–that allows us to ultimately to fly on the wings of grace.

So, as I prepare to continue my blog from where I left off-in California, broken and in pain–I bless every inch of this journey that has brought me to this place of freedom and aliveness. As I share in my storytelling and talks, and through my novel, it is “duende,” the spirit of the earth inside me, that has broken me into many pieces, so I could finally embody my life more fully and be the grace that I am. Thank you for all of it.

On the Road with Sacred Song

July 17, 2016: Here I am, on the Road, in Washington State, with my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. I’ve taken a break from my regular blog (hard to do from the roaIMG_0182d) and instead, am sharing a few moments of my travels and experience in Washington.
I came here because beautiful, amazing people invited me to offer ceremony and teachings I’ve called a Journey of Story, Sound, and Healing. In Sequim, Washington, I shared my personal story with “duende”, this spirit of the earth that has been a true awakening for me, and also journeyed into the earth and shared in collective sound. In doing so, I’m amazed, and often am, at how, in tuning in, I am guided to create a space in which we can all teach each other, through our hearts and presence, how to come home, one inch closer each time, to ourselves.

My next stop has been Port Townsend, Washington, and more specifically the home of two beautiful souls, Jamie and Doug. I led ceremony in their yurt, which sits looking out over the ocean. Here, just sitting on the land and in the yurt offered such healing and stillness, that little was needed to feel at home.

IMG_0261

Eagle stretching its wings on a branch, Washington State

Yet, once people arrived and we shared in an intimate ceremony, something magical happened. As one person said, “All the elements were here.” Our voices and love created a blessed offering for the holy.

We watched the sun set after ceremony and then shared our concerns, reflections on life. Here we were, in Washington State, where the whales are disappearing. Climate change has forced the salmon to go elsewhere and now the whales, who feed off of the salmon, are leaving as well. Meanwhile, the navy is doing tests on the water that impacts the remaining whales. One woman of the group (she bikes a large container of fish to farmer’s markets here… doesn’t want to go by car…wants to live simply and do the work it takes to live right) talked about this, and struggled with what to fight for to protect the earth and our relationship to her (so many things she wants to do). We asked ourselves, what is it we need to do to be in right relationship with the earth at this time? How can our actions, even that of coming together and singing to the earth, and remembering who we are–outside of the human drama–impact where we are as humans?

IMG_0167Tomorrow, I will share songs with Jamie’s drumming group, and tell a bit about my writing, and Child of Duende. But, I ask myself, as I meet such true earth-honoring people on my path, how does my work, my novel, my writing, my ceremonies and teachings make a difference for the earth and its many inhabitants? I can’t fully know the answer, but what I sense, as I travel, is that maybe, just maybe in speaking about “duende,” the spirit of the earth that we carry inside ourselves, and in helping awaken this spirit, we can all feel what it is we have been doing to ourselves and the earth, and begin to dream a new dream, a new possibility, of who we can be as humans on this beautiful, magical earth. And, as I meet others and form sacred circles with them, I am also learning from them how to be more authentically that which spirit is guiding me to be.