Listening to My Life: A Book Review


Recently I overheard a conversation in which someone exclaimed exuberantly, “You are so completely yourself and true. How refreshing!” How refreshing indeed, to listen to Ardine Martinelli tell her story with the power that only comes from a soul fully reconciled with her humanity, and living it truthfully.

The memoir, Listening to My Life, is the story of our human journey. Young women hungry for a femtor, and young men longing to learn respect for women will glean much from these pages. Abusers desperate to repent and the abused who seek to forgive may find healing in the telling of a life who has listened to itself. Profound wisdom awaits all who venture in.

With every passing chapter, episodes of my own life passed before me. Martinelli’s narrative is so compelling that I felt mandated by an unseen force to truly listen to my life as I read hers. I finished this book with regret that it ended, and came away inspired to continue listening to my life with as much integrity as the author has lived hers.

Please visit Ardine’s blog where she posts excerpts from her book and timely pieces that emerge from her life today as she lives it.

Forget the Perfect Offering- Love the Flaws





Two books which I have found very helpful in opening my wounds to let the light in:

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Heart of Forgiveness: A Practical Path to Healing by Madeleine Ko-i Bastis


A Spiritual Practice For the New Year

forgiveness for ourselves

I have grown up with Pat Conroy, living through the horrors of his family life in The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, and Beach Music. Copious tears have accompanied the reading of each saga of abuse and dysfunction in the Conroy family.  In the spaces between the words I knew that it was not really fiction.  Now that I am reading this year’s publication of Conroy’s autobiography, The Death of Santini, I know not only that the sagas are true, but that they are only half the story.  This is a story of reconciliation.  Pat forgave his father, and himself.  This, I am in awe of.

So, forgiveness is on my mind today.  My meditation led me into those realms of forgiveness and I share the practice that came from it.  My intention is to slowly review my life in stages and let the people who have consciously or unconsciously hurt me, gently stroll through my mind.  These are hurts that have been healed, some already forgiven, some still waiting.  It is not a time to use my ego to freshly analyze each hurt; rather, for me it is a process of the spirit, wherein, being truly present to it, I choose to let it go. If I feel it is not time to forgive, I just move on to the next person, knowing that I will return to analyze and pray about that hurt again at another time.  In this practice, I remember to forgive myself as well.

The first time I used this practice the experience was both powerful and gentle.  When the two most poignant hurts came into awareness I felt pain and cried, but it was quickly healed.  I think we have to forgive more than once, and at each forgiveness, we let go of more resentment and it is easier.  As I write, I have become aware that I forgot a hurt that rivals the hurts doled out by Santini! No wonder.  It has a layer of nearly impenetrable scar tissue protecting it….Been there, done that.  In these few days before the dawning of the New Year, I intend to repeat this practice daily.

Practice: Center yourself in a way that is meaningful to you.  When you feel ready, name a person from an early memory who hurt you, and say while inhaling and exhaling:

Breathing in, I forgive you, ___________________(name)

Breathing out, I release resentment.

Breathing in, I forgive you, _________________(your name)

Breathing out, I release resentment.

Repeat this until you know that it is time to move on to the next person.

May peace be yours in this New Year!

Spider Webs and Survival

Soul Survival

Day eleven of oppressive, dense fog across the Seattle area.  I broke loose to look for something uplifting.  Pun intended.  A young tree wrapped in a myriad of spider webs caught my eye, and immediately my light-starved spirit waxed eloquently about the wonder of the webs, profoundly reminiscent of interconnectivity, community, and networks.  Arriving home, curiosity prevailed, and I asked Saint Google to send a National Geographic video which I hoped would unveil all possible spiritual analogies to spider webs. Reality ensued.  I had forgotten what ingenious traps of deception they were.  Spider webs ensure the spider’s survival! They catch victims and eat them.

Still, the poet in me couldn’t resist an analogy.  To survive spiritually, humans don’t need deception.  We can choose to feed on altruism in its many manifestations.

Soul Survival

Some souls
Cast silk threads,
Sticky with the nectar of
Compassion and Forgiveness,
Dangling drops of affirmation
Queued up to plunk down on
Ravenous visitors.

The magnetic threads dance
A three-step vibration,
Pulling the visitors into
The expectant vortex,
Where they feast at the
Resplendent table.

Interlaced souls survive
To cast threads
Another day, another place.

© rita h kowats 2013

spider alone

Laying It to Rest

dementor2One particular scene in the film,“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” always sends shivers through me.  Harry and his friends are on the Hogwarts Express when a dementor  attempts to suck out Harry’s soul.  That is what they do.  They prey upon all positive energy and leave their victims in a state of emptiness.

I think of this symbol today because I just spent sacred time with a friend, putting to rest a time in our youth when we were preyed upon simply because we were there.  And we were vulnerable.  I am keenly aware of the need to develop spiritual practices that protect us.  I know that many of my readers have experienced similar betrayal, for it is a human experience.  I pray that you also experience healing and forgiveness.



Two aging soul-sisters
Hold vigil in a Victorian café-
A sanctuary for deep

No brain fog mimics the
Claustrophobic fog outside.
We remember every word of
Our story.

In tandem we tell the story
For what we hope will be the last time:
How dementors in a consecrated community
Sucked out our souls and how-
Because we were young and wounded-
We let them.

Stronger now, our souls are safe.
In the telling, we recognize
Healing and forgiveness-
Self-forgiveness stumbles
Through the fog.

 It is past time
To pack up our pain and
Rise from our chairs.
Claustrophobic fog has no power
To crowd our spacious spirits.
Our eucharist has ended, and we
Step out.

© rita h. kowats