Archived Stories
from the Road

 


 

December 31 , 2006
Santa Fe, New Mexico

This is a story about the Magic of New Mexico…

The launch for LOVE & LOSS got off to a great start on August 11 at The Ark Bookstore in Santa Fe. Many friends turned out for the talk and signing, in fact out of the thirty some odd people, there were only a few I didn’t know. One was a Hispanic woman named Sylvia Sandoval. After my talk she approached the table where I was signing books.

“What brought you here today, Mrs. Sandoval?” I asked.

“My son died last year in a terrible car accident. I was thinking about him a lot today because it’s his birthday, and I was making his favorite foods. I read about your book in the newspaper and decided to come.”

“What were your son’s favorite foods?”

“Oh, just beans and chili,” she replied. “That sounds delicious.”

I had been surprisingly nervous about giving the first talk, and was relieved that so many of my friends were there who already knew about Namgyal’s death. I asked everyone to bear with me if I got a little weepy during the talk and not to worry because I really was alright. I just needed to find my way through the story.

My dear friend, Joanna Lovetti, had come up from Madrid to hold my hand and be my companion for the evening. Following the book event, we had a party at The Zia Diner. I felt a great sense of joy and relief that I could now go out into the world to tell the story of the love and loss of my beloved daughter, Namgyal Youdon.

The next day I did a book talk/signing at Clear Light Bookstore in the old Villa Linda Mall, and on Sunday drove down to Albuquerque for an event at Borders. I arrived a few minutes before two o’clock, and checked in with the coordinator who was setting up a table and chairs at the front of the store. I went to the restroom to freshen up before beginning the talk.

As I walked back to the table, a young woman approached and said, “Jane, do you remember me, I’m Kathy, Don Bay’s daughter.” I was momentarily stunned to see before me the daughter of my first husband who I had not seen since she was twelve years old, thirty five years ago!!!!!

Kathy greeted me with such warmhearted openness that I felt somewhat overwhelmed with emotion and just threw my arms around her and gave her a big hug. Kathy’s husband, Bob Contreras, was with her, and while I had a vague recollection that Don had told me they lived nearby in Edgewood, it was a complete surprise to see them. Don is on my “Dear Friends” email contacts list and knew about the book tour from the website. He mentioned it to Kathy which prompted them to come.

We visited for a few minutes, but several other people arrived and it was time to start the book talk. Bob and Kathy sat across the table from me on chairs in the first row, and a young man sat next to Kathy as I began to tell the story. When I finished, the man said he had just moved to Albuquerque the day before, leaving his wife and small daughter in Boston who would be joining him later. He told me his story of loss. A year ago, his mother-in-law had been run over by a truck and died. His wife was inconsolable. He wanted to give her a copy of LOVE & LOSS. I inscribed it, “To Steph, in the hope that my story will be of some comfort to you.”
After the book talk, Bob and Kathy and I jumped into a conversation that briefly covered what had happened in our lives since Don and I were divorced. I learned that she is also a writer, has written three books, and her agent feels there is a good possibility the third one will get published. She writes in the fantasy genre, ala Harry Potter, but the lead character is a girl. The title of Kathy’s email address is “wizardwoman.”

We exchanged contact information, and I invited them to come to my annual holiday party in Santa Fe during Christmas/New Years this year. It was such a wonderful reunion.

As soon as I got back to Santa Fe, I called my sister, Kitty, ten years my junior, and only eight years older than Kathy. Beginning around the time Kitty was thirteen, when I was living in New York City, we spent every summer together, and when Don and I married, she came to California. The summer we divorced, Kitty had completed two years of college, but decided not to return to school, and we continued to live together for several years.

Kitty was Kathy’s babysitter while Don and I worked, but they became friends, and played together like sisters. Kathy told me a story about Kitty taking her to an astronomy class one summer evening (possibly at the Griffith Observatory near our apartment in Los Angeles), and that it had changed her life. That night she was inspired to become an astronomer and held that dream until she got to college. When Kathy realized how much math would be involved she changed her major only to discover sometime later that there was just as much math required in the business production management field that she pursued.

When I returned to Santa Fe that evening after seeing Kathy, many long-buried emotions began to arise. I felt a deep sadness about my relationship with Kathy when she was a child. I had never said goodbye to her when Don and I divorced, and our time together had not been easy, for many reasons. I was very young myself, only twenty-five at the time, and not mature enough to know how to raise a child, especially one as intellectually precocious as Kathy was at the age of four when I first met her. Don has a genius IQ, and Kathy inherited his intense curiosity about everything. One day she said to me, “I’m smarter than you are,” and I replied, “You may be smarter than I am, but I know more than you do, and when you’re in this house, you have to behave by my rules.” She occasionally challenged those rules, and I didn’t have a clue about how to relate to her.

Kathy’s mother married an Berkeley cop, and moved to Northern California at the height of the Free Speech Movement, and the police riots that swept over the State during the late 1960s. There was a huge philosophical gap between our two families. Don and I were members of the ACLU and were perceived as “Commie Hippie Liberals.” We had great disdain for the “Fascist Pigs” involved in police brutality at the time. Don had visitation rights with Kathy for a month each summer, and occasional holidays. It was an unsettling arrangement to say the least, for all of us, but especially Kathy.

When Kitty was little I had a parental role with her and our brother, Jim. They were certainly challenging sometimes as well, but they were my siblings. I think I had so much responsibility at such a young age (my family was classically dysfunctional) that I tended to be very bossy and authoritarian. In hindsight, I know challenging authority is a natural part of child development, yet at the time I felt totally inadequate in a parental role with Kathy. At one point, I called my mother in Florida for advice. Mother had been a wonderful parent despite the problems she had endured with my father. My maternal grandmother died during childbirth when Mother was only two years old. She never knew her own mother, and that had been a source of suffering for her throughout her life. She had a very lonely, difficult childhood, but she showered us with all the love she never received as a child.

I told Mother about some of the things I had said to Kathy, and asked if I should get a book on child raising, (A.S. Neill’s books, Summerhill and Freedom: Not License were very popular at the time). She said, “Honey, don’t spend too much time ‘thinking’ about what to do, just follow your intuition.” I think that’s what she did with us, and it seemed like good advice at the time.

Reflecting on that time in my life prompted an email to Don, who has been living in Sweden with his wife Ewa and their two children for many years, asking if we could talk on the phone when he was in Los Angeles the following week about the issues that were coming up around my relationship with Kathy when we were married. We set up a day and time to make contact.

We talked for an hour and a half, and not just about Kathy. We said things to each other that we’d never been able to say before, about our relationship and the consequences of the divorce on our lives. A great healing took place between us.

Don didn’t remember any of the incidents I described, and said that one image that remains with him was of my giving Kathy her bath every evening. He saw me kneeling on the floor by the side of the tub, scrubbing her back with a soapy washcloth as we were laughing and talking as mother and daughter.

I had no cognitive memory of that experience until Don mentioned it, yet I realized that’s exactly what my mother did with me. The nightly bath was the highlight of my day. I had Mother all to myself, her undivided attention, and the physical intimacy of her gentle, loving touch.

If that was Don’s memory of my interaction with Kathy, then maybe I hadn’t done such a bad job of parenting after all. A few days later I received the following email.


From: Don Bay
Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 12:38 PM
To: Jane Bay
Subject: Love and Loss

Dear Jane,
It was a real pleasure to talk with you during my brief stay in Los Angeles. I was interested to hear your thoughts about the time when Kathy was in our home and you were acting as a substitute mother for her, a role for which you weren’t yet prepared at that young age. I heard your frustration that you felt you had failed to act in her best interests. You didn’t fail; you weren’t yet prepared and did the best you could with the limited experience you then had. I believe Kathy felt your good intentions and I certainly had no reason to doubt them. You were then (and are now) a good and loving person, still young and untried and learning how to be an even better person with great compassion. It takes time. So, please, be sure to be kind to the you that you were then.

I read Love and Loss when I was visiting Kathy in New Mexico and was deeply moved by your experience. I know how much you wanted to carry and bear your own child, your own flesh and blood, but it just wasn’t in the stars. The fact that you then chose out of your deep reservoir of compassion to support and nurture and freely love your Tibetan daughter is a testament to the great store of love and beauty you have carried within you all these years. Even as she enriched your life, you most certainly enriched hers as well as the lives of those in her blood family and beyond. As you believe in the connection of souls, she is still with you and you with her, and so it will be through all your years.

From Kathy, I’ve heard how great was the connection you two made when she reintroduced herself at your book signing. Though Kathy is reserved in displaying her emotions, her strong feelings were clear for me to see when she described the scene. Your loving and tearful reception touched her deeply and it was obvious to me that she looks forward to seeing you again in the future.

In light of the difficult and emotionally starved childhood and youth she experienced after Nancy remarried, the loving acceptance you displayed at meeting again after all these years touched Kathy in a way that was rewarding to see. She deserves all the love that comes her way. And you’d be delighted at the woman of solid integrity she has become in the face of circumstances that could have stunted a lesser person. I hope the opportunity to connect again arises for you both.

I am richer for having shared a part of my life with you, and I am pleased to see the woman you have become.

Stay well and happy.
Love, Don


It had been eight years almost to the day when I was in Santa Fe for the launch of PRECIOUS JEWELS OF TIBET that I had been reunited with Namgyal. Here I was in Santa Fe for the launch of LOVE & LOSS, and Kathy and I were reunited. What serendipity!!! How incredible is the divine intervention of the universe that I have been given another opportunity to love the child I had lost so many years ago, now as a grown woman.

Book tour continued for three months, and was an amazing experience. It seemed appropriate that it would end on Sunday, November 12 at East-West Books in Mountain View, California, not at a traditional retail bookstore. I had been at The Land of Medicine Buddha the day before, and earlier in the week at Sylvia Boorstein’s meditation class at Spirit Rock in Marin County.
What began to evolve during book tour was an emphasis on “Suffering” not just in the context of my own personal loss, but the suffering of all sentient beings. Sharon Salzberg said in her endorsement of LOVE & LOSS, “The essential question of spiritual life could be expressed as, ‘How is it that some people emerge from suffering with great faith and compassion, while others remain feeling broken and alone? ‘ LOVE & LOSS is a beautiful exploration of that question, and a healing testament to the power of undying love.” I’m still exploring that question…

The book talks began to take on a whole new meaning as I told the story of Namgyal’s death, and the transformation of suffering into compassion that I experienced. Certainly this was also a part of the healing process, and now that I’m back into everyday life, I’m beginning to open up to the infinite possibilities ahead to continue the healing in all aspects of life, love and relationships.

A few months before book tour started, I went to Book Passage in Corte Madera to hear Anodea Judith talk about her new book, WAKING THE GLOBAL HEART – HUMANITY’S RITE OF PASSAGE FROM THE LOVE OF POWER TO THE POWER OF LOVE. The things she said were stunning about the transformation of consciousness that is necessary to heal the planet, the people on it and the environment if we are going to reverse the trajectory we’re on and survive this age. She talked about the historical perspective of how we got to where we are today, and what the future would look like by this shift of consciousness. It requires a tremendous responsibility and maturity of the heart, and an uprooting and transformation of every aspect of human civilization. That sounds like an almost unachievable task, but Anodea puts it in the context of each individual person’s life. It starts with the relationship between men and women – Masculine and Feminine.

In her book, Anodea writes: “The balance between masculine and feminine is one of the most basic and necessary social healings we can make at this time. Emerging from the last five thousand years of our collective middle childhood, where “boys” and “girls” played in separate realms, we are now like adolescents, just beginning to create equal, authentic relationships—in the home, in the workplace, in government, religion, and education. Clearly, we have a long way to go to achieve this balance.”

Shortly after meeting her and buying her book, I heard an interview Anodea did with writer/poet, Stephen Dinan, on the Institute of Noetic Sciences “Shift in Action” radio program. At one point, Stephen asked if it was necessary for the pendulum of power to swing from a patriarchal culture to a matriarchy. Anodea expressed that what was needed was a balance of masculine and feminine, not one or the other. She went on to say that women have been dominated by a masculine culture for so long, yet when women are in the company of other women they “remember” who they are – and their connection to Nature and the Earth as life givers and nurturers. Anodea places women at the forefront of being the leaders in the shift in consciousness from the love of power to the power of love.

The last weekend of book tour, I met Lauralee Alben who has been working with women all over the world to facilitate the design of their lives to create this shift in consciousness. I received the following email from Lauralee shortly before leaving for New Mexico. I signed up immediately…


From: Lauralee Alben
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:31 AM
To: Jane Bay
Subject: Giving Women Leaders – A Workshop That Keeps On Giving

An immersive workshop for emerging and active women leaders
January 27 + 28 | Santa Cruz CA

Dear Jane,
What is one of most precious gifts women leaders can give?
It's an apt question for the holiday season, when women focus primarily on what gifts will bring joy to everyone else and take little time to reflect on what they would truly value receiving. What gets lost is what women need most to lead in their personal and professional lives—themselves.

What are the innate gifts women leaders possess?

Women have unique ways of leading, collaborating, and creating that profoundly influence business, society, and the environment. When women gather together, a powerful, dynamic energy occurs, one that births individual and collective potential.
What kind of future are women gifting?

Women conceive—not only children—but initiatives, and the future. At this precarious time, so much depends on women designing meaningful lives, world-changing work, and sustainable legacies. To do this, they must be clear, centered, and cognizant of their true selves. They must recognize and own their innate, intuitive abilities that allow them to imagine and manifest the critical changes they know must occur in a life-sustaining world.
Join us!

If you are compelled to either strengthen your role or take your place as a leader, then this special workshop is a wonderful chance to learn, support, and network with other generous women. Give your self back to yourself!

Join a caring, challenging group of women committed to evolving themselves, each other, and the world. In this design workshop, women engage in an intimate and intensive design of their deepest selves so that when they give, they are coherent, compassionate, and courageous.

Wishing you a blessed and bountiful holiday season!
Lauralee Alben
AlbenDesign


When I arrived in Santa Fe on Saturday, December 16 for my annual Christmas/New Years vacation, the weather was sunny and bright. I had been “…dreaming of a White Christmas just like the ones I used to know.” Much to my delight a few days later it began to snow just as I was on my way to meet Joanna Lovetti who is currently working at the Carole LaRoche Gallery on Canyon Road. Joanna’s younger sister, Liz, died recently of brain cancer, and Joanna and I have been praying for and emotionally supporting each other during the last few years as we shared the profound loss of our loved ones.

When I walked into the gallery, my eyes were immediately drawn to a sculpture of a woman that reminded me of the elongated figures of Alberto Giacometti. Giacometti, and his contemporary, Auguste Rodin, have long been my favorite Modernist sculptors, and I have been fascinated by reading stories about their lives.

Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, who personally knew Giacometti, says that at the “soul” of any Giacometti sculpture is the relationship between isolation and intimacy. “You always feel you are getting closer and closer, but are never really fulfilled. There’s a wonderful tension about his work, but every sculpture is an unfinished journey.”

Black Mountain

Joanna said, “If you like that piece, there’s another by the same artist in the next room that had a very powerful effect on me when I uncrated it.” There were three other sculptures by the artist Ron Allen, but I went straight to the largest of the pieces, and was jolted by the powerful attraction I felt for its unguarded beauty. It was the same one that Joanna had connected with. She placed a chair directly in front of the sculpture where I sat for about half an hour soaking up the energy emanating from the piece, and examining it from all sides. “Black Mountain” is the name of the sculpture. I knew she was going home with me that night…

The sculpture is a woman’s nude body, clothed in a skirt of strings to which are attached discarded artifacts and relics of contemporary culture – trash and litter – collected by the artist. It looks something like a Hawaiian hula skirt. Each string of artifacts hanging from the waist band of the skirt is different and unique. There are dozens of buttons, shells, pens and pencils, watch bands, strands of faux pearls, bottle caps, colored glass beads, spent shotgun casings, plastic perm rollers, hundreds of things that people have thrown away. The artist also leaves some strings unadorned/unfinished in the event the future owner wishes to add his/her personal relics to make the piece their own. There is a tuft of reddish brown horse hair shooting out of the top of her head/face that is made from a rusted water spigot that looks a little like Boba Fetts’ helmet, and the same horse hair protrudes at the wrists emulating hands and fingers.


From: Joanna Lovetti - Carole LaRoche Gallery
To: Ron Allen
Sent: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 4:15 PM
Subject: New Piece

Ron,
The new piece entitled Black Mountain is wonderful and amazing. I felt a powerful magic come off of it as I unwrapped it. Would you send me a picture for our inventory? Is it true that you walk along the railroad tracks near your home and collect the found art pieces? I’m working on a myth about you for the customers. What can I tell them about the figures? What do they represent? What are they made of?

Hope all’s well. Take care.

Yours, Joanna


From: Ron Allen
To: Joanna Lovetti - Carole LaRoche Gallery
Sent: Monday, November 6, 2006 11:59 AM
Subject: New Piece

Joanna,
Thanks for your insightful comments about “Black Mountain.” I’m happy that you felt the magic. That piece actually did have a real life inspiration in the form of an Osage Medicine Woman I meet a couple of years ago. She took me to a place that, metaphorically speaking, I later called Black Mountain in a poem about the experience. I feel a certain “attachment” to that sculpture.

As far as the figures, I just consider them a blueprint or maybe a manifestation of my DNA, to hang, or display the encounters we have in life with the material (memory pertaining to all the senses). Of course these found objects are endless in our materialistic society and a great source of material wealth for the artist. Of this great source, one just has to pick and choose what one finds exciting for ones own sensibilities. Different objects conjure up different meanings for different people. The conclusion of this is when the objects are hung together in a kind of harmony. After I’m finished, I pass it on to the next owner to decipher the results according to his own view of the world.

The material is modeled white cement over a welded steel armature.

And the myth is always greater than the person, so let your imagination flow….and yes I do walk the railroad tracks, looking, always looking...................... Ron


“Black Mountain” was my Christmas gift to myself. I saw in her a manifestation of the feminine composed of all the many different beautiful, sad, fearful, joyful, strong, powerful, loving, vulnerable, kind, intuitive, wrathful multi-facets of the self that make up the whole of a human being. She knew suffering… I told Joanna that I’ve always felt we can learn so much about ourselves from art, and “Black Mountain” spoke to me at the level of the soul.

After the completed paperwork and business had been taken care of, Joanna showed me around the Gallery, especially to see Carole LaRoche’s work which was magical in its own right. I especially liked a painting of a woman entitled “Brave Warrior,” and her signature paintings of Wolves.

In another room was a tall standing sculpture by Allen Wynn entitled “Lady with Birds.” It had the energy of St. Francis of Assisi, but was the feminine aspect of kindness and compassion. Joanna told me a story about when people come into the gallery and see it, they assume this piece was made by a woman. A woman from Russia said it looked just like Russian women, one from Argentina said it looked like an Argentinean woman, others from Africa and Nigeria all felt it was a woman from their country of origin.

“Isn’t it great that a man can create a sculpture that captures the energy of the feminine?” she mused. I agreed. Then Joanna said, “We should dance,” and we joined hands and spun around in circles until we were dizzy. We came to a stop, somewhat breathless, in front of another Allen Wynn sculpture entitled “Five Woman Dancing.” We laughed so hard we nearly cried.

When we left the Gallery, our cars were completely covered in a white blanket of virgin snow… and we stepped into the silence of the night remembering who we are.

With love & gratitude,
Jane Bay

 
©2006 Jane Bay - All Rights Reserved