A "Book Of Life"
My life in years, written in 2004-2005, revisited in 2017:

Forty Five
November 10 2003 - November 9, 2004

Only a few days into the birthday year, we received sad news about Julia's Mother:

November 15, 2003

. . . Julia looked at the caller ID and noticed two attempts by her brother to communicate. Maybe in his distress, he didn't realize that Julia would be at work at that time. She called back last night, and learned her mother's cancer has gone into the liver. The 70 dollar apiece pills aren't doing any good. I had a bad feeling earlier when Julia talked to her mother and found her quite incoherent each time.

Julia thought it was just the effects of some medicine. It was back in July when we first learned her mother has cancer. She rallied, and Julia had been thinking things had stabilized. She's really incoherent this time. How much of it is due to medicine, the illness itself and her emotional reaction to the illness and her eventual death is hard to determine. Certainly, she is frightened. The doctors are recommending hospice care. But it remains to be seen if that's the route they will go.

So we watch and we wait. All good that could have been done has been already done. Hopefully her mother can be kept as painfree as possible.

The worry over Shirley not to be diminished, we had other blessings. At first, an answer from the 'Mystery':

November 15, 2003

Wanting a more distinct 'Set' presence on my altar, I put out a call to the Mystery. I've not seen any statue for sale on the web that would do. They were all too big and would overpower the other icons.

Today Julia and I had fun tromping in antique shops in Old Town. I had that 'gut feeling' something would be there.

I found a long tin titled 'Egyptian' on the back, 'exclusively for The Gidumal Organization', made in China . . .

. . . I suspect it originally contained sticks of incense.

9 7/8 in. by 2 3/16in (25C by 5 1/2C)

Most of the 'big names' in the Egyptian pantheon are present. Notice who's at the far left of the line up, however . . .

. . . What surprised me is that I should be so surprised. I DID put a call out to the Mystery and I was answered. I have a genuwine, bonified accurate Set image, quite in relation to the others in the pantheon, which is what I wanted. I was looking for this desire to be answered in some other way, like a statue of Set. But this answer serves well.  . . .

The next weekend featured a small bit of magic, in the form of 'good timing':

November 22, 2003

. . . I had a long nap and woke refreshed in time to check several of my discussion groups and then get ready for the Thirteenth Annual Colorado River Balloon Crossing's nighttime 'Desert Glow'. Perhaps a decade ago, Laura and I had gone to such an evening event at the UofA's 'Spring Fling'. At least fifty balloons in all sorts of sculptured inflated shapes were kept standing stationary. However, last night it was too windy for the balloons to be displayed. All that could be done was to have the balloons' fire devices shoot tall flames into the air.

Now eight or ten shooting, dancing feathery flames were of some interest, but not what we expected. Julia had forgotten to wear a hat, and the cold was making her suffer. The announcer said they were going to move up the fireworks display, but Julia didn't want to wait for it, so we walked back to the car. Our timing was perfect, however, and as soon as we got into the warm car, big exploding expanding 'flowers' of fire began to rain down over us. We were in the perfect position. I felt as though we were directly underneath the marvelous explosions.

I waited until I was sure the last fiery bloom grew and shrank for us. Then we exited the parking lot, and met many cars entering. Those people, unaware the fireworks had been rescheduled for an earlier time, were about to be very disappointed.

But we caught them, and in the most perfect non cold and windy place to see them!

Thanksgiving day encouraged gratitude:

November 26, 2003

. . . If I want to start listing the things for which I am grateful, it could be a long list: new experiences, loving looks, tender kisses, easy smiles, happy laughter, triumphant rushes, pretty flowers, true love, good memories, good mind, good appetite, good friends, good conversations, beautiful sunsets, rainy days, cool breezes, deep breaths, long soaks in the tub, good music, beautiful artwork, absorbing worlds in books, engaging others minds by whatever method, getting feedback, refreshing sleep, awakening with thoughts that need explored, kindred spirits, accomplishments both small and large - the deck of cards life has dealt me has been a good one . . .

More gratitude:

December 3, 2003

. . .  I shared deep thoughts and revelations with Julia today. How wonderful it is, she loves ALL of me, even those parts of me 'that go bump in the night' and winding tendrils of thought and other such greedy little tendrils. Ever so tenderly, though, those tendrils. Anyway, I shout it loud. She loves me for me, not because I'm 'phat' like Cindy Crawford, or whatever those pop song lyrics I can't research now. I'm just fat like Joan Lansberry.

She loves me for me! What greater gift can one have bestowed upon one?  . . .

December 5, 2003

. . . it is Friday, and so weekend plans continue apace. My divine self may be showing up in as yet unexplored territories. That is, if they'll have me. But how could they refuse ME? . . .

Much fun with art, an extremely lively debate on one of the discussion groups, and then the finality of sad news:

December 12, 2003

"Julia's Mother Dead"

I can't of any other way to begin this, but bluntly. Julia received in the early evening a call from her brother informing us her Mother, who had been ailing with lung cancer, was at the edge.

So Julia was prepared at best she could then for the late evening call. Her mother, Shirley Bell, passed away at 11:35pm Eastern time December 11, 2003.

"a reserved and refined lady"

. . . Not of a mind to wax eloquent at the moment, I just bluntly record the details . . .

What an odd bit of serendipity! Julia and I ate at a Chinese restaurant receiving fortune cookies, and then we watched a movie in which fortune cookies played a role:

December 21, 2003

. . . I forgot about the fortune cookies that arrive at meal's end. The dark haired slender waitress brought two on a small rectangular dish. I was trying to decide which one I should grab when she decided it, placing one before Julia and one before me.

I, knowing the significance of the fortune cookie Oracle, was especially curious as to its contents, and quickly ripped open the cellophane wrapper and cookie folds to get at the little paper:

You maintain a sense of balance in the midst of great success.

Well, I am certainly encouraged to read that, and I eagerly anticipate that 'great success'. I have been given yet another sign. I must add that while I look forward to future success, I am certainly grateful for all the prior successes I've had.

I may be so much richer than I even suspect, in all the areas in which it counts. It continues to impress me that I don't fully know all the hardships under which many people struggle. So, yes, this moment, this 'now', is a 'success'.

Julia's was also encouraging and inspired some conversation as to its meaning:

Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.

The absence of Laura has sharpened our love for her in our memories, for we know so well why we miss her so much. It has been nearly a year and a half without Laura, so we've had some time for that love to be sharpened. On the other hand, Julia and I enjoying each other's presence have found our love strengthening through out the years. . . .

. . . We just finished watching an amusing show called Freaky Friday. In it, a mother and daughter who are at odds receive some enchanted fortune cookies. At midnight, beginning of Friday, they switch bodies and wake up very puzzled. It's an entirely cute story.

It's funny watching the sedate middle aged lady loosening up, and the teenager suddenly getting very conservative. It makes me wonder if I could pull off acting like a younger person. I wondered about this once before when I was writing vampire fiction. I had a dream in which my 234 year old Michael was in a high school, and not doing very well at passing himself off as a 17 year old . . .

. . .  In one of [Rice's] Chronicles, Lestat muses on how he could always tell the age of the vamp by how they dressed. I think that would be very true.

These words I write here could only be written by a middle aged woman in the early 21st century. But I hope there are things which go beyond the limitations of this time. I dream of people centuries from now reading my words. They, inevitably, will carry the time stamp of this time era. But hopefully, there is enough of 'the universal' that my words will still seem fresh and vital.

Today, my own pleasantly NOT 'freaky fortune' foretold 'great success'. This desire for lasting, 'fresh' words is just one of the things for which I wish that 'great success'. You, better than I at this moment, may know how much success I've had with this.

July 13, 2004
December 22 2003 - February 13, 2004

December 24, 2003

. . .  Can I smile and learn patience?
Ever never patient,
I learn it now
in this true releasing.
What better can come of it?

 . . .

Do I EVER learn patience? I don't really know. Maybe I can set some piece of restlessness down for a while, but then I pick it up again first chance I get.

January 5, 2004

. . . I must be patient.

But it is hard to be patient. Which is precisely why I must direct my energies to learning patience.

''Enlightment will come, but slowly and in pieces.''

(later note of this evening:)

Nevertheless, I grow impatient. So damned impatient. And an ancient Dark Presence I love is laughing. Laughing! He is enjoying Himself. At my expense. I ask WHY the laughing.

He says 'Because it is only in such frustration that I grow.'

Yes, I did sign up for the 'growth plan'. I did.

January 7, 2004
"Self Analysis, With A Little Help"

I went around in circles on this one, 'til a certain Very Direct Voice jumped in.

In the thought is the beginning.
Let's see what we can find.
My hitherto unseen quarters given air,
do I shrink back,
or come closer to look?
What in me is born of fear?
Why the instinct to run?
the word is.
Bunny Rabbit Scared is another.
Can this too, meet with Xeper (Kheper)
and change?
When I meet someone new,
why do I feel so strange?
No light of patter,
no joke of joy,
I am 'all business'.
Estraño, to be sure.
Humbly admitted,
no pretense.
But WHY?


Stop the fear midstream?
Can I stop it before it begins
lightning fast,
between impulse and reaction?
That's what I'd like to know
What do I wish to communicate?
Can knowledge of that come before the shy impulse?
Look people in the eyes,
and show that fear?
Something needs to be changed.
I don't want the darting fear,
the darting eyes.
But can it?
Is it something I just have to live with?
Can I think of something to communicate
fast enough before the lightning fear?
I have a slow mind.
I need space and time to think.
I don't see any way around this.
Too many variables in the 'strange' situation.
Can I just be this way?
Is it easier to resign to shyness?
After all, I've done it for forty five years.
I am the thing devoid of skin,
I shrink back into the quiet.

"Are you trying to please others,
or are you trying to please yourself?"

I don't know.
I didn't like the veil off the unconscious motive
of raw shy fear.

"What didn't you like about it?"

I felt incapacited for the brief moment it struck me.
I had to wait for it to pass,
then my head clears only enough 'for business'.

"Is it bad to wait?"

No, it isn't 'bad',
it's just that...
I wish I could be like those of easy chatter?
Those women never shut up!
Do I?
Not really.
Most often I am content in my quiet.

"So what's 'wrong'?"

Certain parameters of operation that others have
are unavailable to me.
I feel 'retarded'.

"Why is that 'bad'?"

It means I operate on an entirely different wavelength.
Am I human?
(Ah, of course I'm human.)
But am I a mutant?

"And WHY is that 'bad'?
So you have to think before you speak,
so idle conversation comes not easy to you,
just what more could you do with this
that you don't do now?
That is, of

I just want to make 'pretty' pictures and poems
and share them with others,
who receive them in the same solitude in which I created them.

"If that's what you REALLY WANT TO DO,
then why are you bothering with frustrations
over shyness?"

Because I thought I should be different,
taste the world of politics and intrigue,
know these subtle machinations,
in which those princes reside.
Maybe I was just curious.

"Is that all?"

Yes, that's not 'my drummer', is it?

"No, it sure as hell isn't!
You have so MANY talents,
do you know how many people are envious of you?
No, you don't.
You waste your energy on trifles.
Let THOSE princes rule in THEIR realms,
You rule in yours.
Paint your pretty pictures,
poesy your flowered words,
sing songs to Me,
and whoever you wish.
And don't forget to SING THEM TO YOURSELF.
You WILL NOT be ALL others expect.
Only a fool tries.
There be many fools on certain well trod pitiful paths,
leave to them the 'rightness' of their delusions.
YOU know better."

Yes, I do,
Thank you for cleaning out the 'snakes of Illusion', once again!

"No problem!

January 11, 2004

. . .  'Coming into Being' is an inch by inch process.
Only when we look back,
do we know the distance travelled.

I certainly know the truth of that as I've taken the slow amble through my past.

More epiphanies came my way:

April 4, 2004

I enjoy reading Julia's Mensa magazines when they arrive. I'm going to quote one paragraph in it that confirms what has been my experience as an introvert. The introversion is not due to 'social anxiety'. I've been suspecting this:

Quoting from an entry of January 7, 2004:

I have a slow mind.
I need space and time to think.
I don't see any way around this.
Too many variables in the 'strange' situation.

In that entry of self-analysis, I concluded, "It means I operate on an entirely different wavelength."

The Mensans have studied the current research on introversion, as the majority of their members have this characteristic. My analysis is indeed borne out via science:

"Now we can actually see the brain in action. Thinking literally takes a longer route within the brain of introverts. The parasympathic branch of the autonomic nervous system is dominent in introverts. We have more trouble sleeping because we have more active brains, but we also have more ways to protect ourselves. Introverts are not as prone to slow down or burn out at midlife. It is believed that introverts live longer..." (Mensa bulletin, April/May 2004)

A page on neuroscience for kids, thus easy to understand, explains the three parts of the automatic nervous system, and the differences between sympathetic stimulation and parasympathetic stimulation. As mucus production is increased and heart rate and force decreased under parasympathetic stimulation, those with that part of their ANS dominent would be more likely to have sinus headaches and low blood pressure. Both of these are common to me. The lower blood pressure may be the thing that enables introverts to live longer.

As I've sensed the different wiring of my brain, so also I've noticed I am not keeping pace with many middle aged folks. I've heard several say they feel 'old' and they are nearly the same age as I. For me at age 45, I still feel young. Okay, the joints may not be as limber as they used to, but my mind is as agile as ever. I do not think I shall ever grow senile. I see myself always learning, always growing. Knowing now that this characteristic is related to that 'dominent parasympathic branch', I can understand my 'shyness' more, and be more at ease in social situations. The 'anxiety' only comes when we do not understand ourselves, and expect ourselves to react as extroverts.

As ever, the best advice is to 'be true to ourselves'.

As I read this now at age 59, I still feel young. In fact I find myself growing in social comfort. I still may not be able to react as quickly as I like, but the shyness I used to endure when young has vanished. It is quite often enjoyable talking to people in social situations.

April 21, 2004
"Of Cats And Humans

On noticing a distinct, acrid and unmistakable odor coming in through the window, Julia declared:

That cat, so damn assertive!
He wants to be recognized.
He wants to make his mark upon the world.
He wants to say, "I, the great cat, have been here!"

As with cats, so with humans. I, however, hope to leave a more pleasant smelling mark!

Some revelations are of the seemingly most simple kind:

May 10, 2004
"A Simple Epiphany"

Ah, a simplication and a revelation:

Am I speaking because I think I 'should' speak?
Am I silent because I think I 'should' be silent?

When I could simply:

Speak because I have something to say,
And be silent when I have nothing to say.
The motivation is from within!

I was anticipating a trip:

July 28, 2004
The Future Awaits

Standing here,
at once in this moment,
beholding past and present in my mind,
I look towards the future.
Soon, a plane will rise and lift,
carrying me far away.
Anywhere I go,
there *I* am.

'Return to the center',
anywhere on the map,
I shall not lose the way.

Still, in the intersection
of stellar planets,
each in our own orbits,
what will we make?

The future awaits.
I am here.
Anywhere I go,
there *I* am.

JAL, 7-28-04

What more fundamental truth can there be, than "Anywhere I go, there *I* am"?

August 2, 2004

"Joan Gets Away"

view from plane, Phoenix down below...

Yes, I did it, I really did it! I got on a plane and got out of Yuma! For four and a half days, I experienced something different!

Of course, that picture was taken Thursday, the day of lift off, and how exciting that was! I was finally breaking the stasis of 'I never go anywhere'.


View of the San Francisco bridge...

A walk to and back on the magnificent bridge featured in Friday's activities...

I wish I had taken pictures of the beautiful Presidio Park, where I was at in the evening. Ah well, I have the memories of it. After the dry heat of Yuma, I welcomed the shivering and that strangely moist air.

At least I did take quite a few museum pics. Particularily memorable is learning about Nagas:

Nagaraja, Serpent King, India, Mathua area, Uttar Pradesh state, sandstone. Nagas are supernatural serpents who have partial or complete human form. In the Naga King sculpture, the man and the seven headed serpent are two forms of the same being. Nagas are associated with fertility and the life giving powers of water in the worlds rivers, lakes and oceans. They are usually benevolent.

I wish I'd taken more pictures, but I did preserve a written record, at least. Grateful I am for such 'scrolls'. By Sunday evening, my senses were quite loaded, not 'overloaded', but I was quite on a 'high', indeed.

And then, I suppose it's predictable. Returning to mundane life, I felt a bit of let down, and complained of it publicly.

But then I found a way to ease that:

August 6, 2004

As I listened to the passionate music of Josh Groban, I remembered this time one week ago in the oceanside park, a veritable forest of tall trees as background for those gathered, it seemed Groban was singing to me:

"Face the truth to realize all that we could be,
torn apart by rage and fear.
Hold on to what brought you here,
don't let it go.
Never let it go."

I am there again in memory, in that realm of tall trees, with the bracing breeze, and I hear Groban urge, "Hold on to what brought you here." and affirm I won't let it go. I beat the fear in order that I might grow and Become. I will continue to do so, each step of the way of my journey, I will hold on to all that brings me there. Ever the cyclical process of daring and Becoming, I won't let it go!

Yes, there is rejoicing:

August 13, 2004

Friday joy, it was time to go out and celebrate. To Outback we went, in jubilant spirits. The wind was kicking up, indicative of a small chance of getting a storm. Julia selected swordfish, and I got a twin set of pork chops, figuring one of them would be tomorrow's lunch. Midway through our feast, Julia asked me, "Do you know what day it is?" I thought for a bit, Friday the Thirteenth, no, it's more than that..."Why it's our ANNIVERSARY!" It's our TEN year anniversary, and most fortunate I've been to have Julia at my side.

Her gentle spirit is a good complement to my fiercer one. And hopefully, I bring some zest to her quiet life. I remember our anniversary two years ago, when our friends helped us have a memorial for Laura, who died end of July 2002. I am so grateful that in 1994, Laura had the foresight to welcome Julia into our lives. Tonight, Laura smiles in our direction, from where ever she has gone. As she did while here, I continue to live life with passion.

I found myself infused with a 'tingly sense of optimism':

October 27, 2004

Finished Tarot Death Card, 10-23-04

I've been busy examining samples of various tarot decks, becoming fascinated with the diversity and becoming more determined that I am going to create my own set, based on my results with the first card I did. As a mysterious concidence, the day I did the coloring of the Death Card, little did I know that at the same time was being held a Bay Area Tarot Symposium. I like to think the energies that were raised there wafted my way. As I read about it, I noticed the location where it was held, Franklin St.. I've walked on Franklin street. Memories are indeed among my best possessions.

Anyway, I'm jazzed. Later Saturday evening, Julia and I had a lovely visit with friends. At one point, we heard their door open and close. It was not an especially windy night. I felt Laura's spirit wanting to join the fun, for the table was one the three of us had once sat at and had enjoyed fellowship.

As Halloween comes closer, I feel a tingly sense of optimism. The mysterious, magical energies are rising higher. I am glad to have this awareness and to any detractor I will only say such things enrich my life. I do not think they are only self-created, for there are other self-directed beings out there, aware and similarly creating them.

Again, I find reminders to 'be patient':

November 4, 2004

I found this quote:

"In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest."
- Henry Miller

Yes, amazing how it all has to do with the process of initiation. Mystery's at it again.

Still, there were more reminders to 'be patient'.

November 5, 2004

Reading about a Franz Bardon, who has quite the reputation as an adept magician, I am spooked to learn "What we do know is that he was born in Czechoslovakia in 1909 and that he died in 1958.

Too weird! Birthplace of my ancestors and dying the year I was born. A superficial glance at Bardon reveals he has some themes I can relate to. Others are iffy. However, he did have this to say:

"Initiation is not a race. It matters little if it takes you 30 years to reach the 10th Step or if it takes only 10 years. Progress at your own pace (without dawdling) and practice both patience and perseverance."

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

next section, year 46
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© Joan Ann Lansberry