Soul Places

Befriending the Soul through Inquiry and Creativity

Dogs in Cars

Dallas Riding in the Car

Dallas Riding in the Car, Fast

Since my Dallas died, I like to bike down by the dog park and wait for the cars with dogs in them to drive past. Sometimes I can hear them coming before I see them, the barks echoing off the Mississippi River valley and the High Bridge. Soon I see the German Shepherd with his head out the passenger side window, still announcing his arrival.  Next, a red SUV chauffeurs two hounds that compete for the same prime window seat. Then comes a pit-bull in a sports car with the top down. This one is smiling and quiet, but with enthusiasm just as loud as the barker’s. I laugh out loud in jubilation, sometimes sorrow, and try not to think of my Dallas.

Two Peas in a Pod

Two Peas in a Pod

Steeping in a Tea of Magic



I used this phrase for the first time over a month ago: steeping in a tea of magic.  I couldn’t describe the feelings I felt of being so grounded and peaceful any better than that.  And these were new, exciting feelings for me to have for any length of time.  Usually I vacillate between “just surviving” and “depression” with a tiny, barely-worth-mentioning dash of adventure thrown in there.  So when these lighter feelings started to stick around, I paid attention.

As some of you may know, Handsome, my horse companion of over twenty years passed away in February.  That experience and transformation on both our parts changed me forever.  Still changes me.  I like to give him all the credit for the gifts he gave me in living as well as dying, but I had an important role too.  I had to be present to the pain and torment I felt in his last months and days.  But most importantly I had to be present to his message and gift of a love so huge, it chokes me up even now.  We prayed for a miracle and it came two days before he died.  He led me to a place where I transcended everything I thought I knew about my life.  My heart broke wide open and I knew we would always be together, just differently.

That’s when I began to steep in a tea of magic.  Our experience two days before he died lit the fire that warmed my tea water.

My mourning began the boil.

And my life as I now know it, is steeping.  And may steep indefinitely.

But what about this phrase, with its magic and steeping?  I liked it well enough.  It felt magical.  Intangible.  Mystical.  Like setting foot on the planet of my life for the first time.  But why did I like this phrase so much?  Why did it capture so well exactly what I now felt?  I turned to the dictionary:

Steep – verb – 1. to soak in water or other liquid, as to soften, cleanse, or extract some constituent. 2. to immerse in or saturate or imbue with some pervading, absorbing, or stupefying influence or agency.

Oh yes!  I was all those things!  Softened in heart.  Cleansed by so many tears.  Illusions extracted.  And then imbued, impregnated, with the magic of potential.  How can one word both remove and saturate?  I became stupefied, all right!  And more whole than I’ve ever been – a process I hope to continue with indefinitely.

I look forward to continuing this steep for a long time.  Handsome is forever close, real and strong.  The magic I feel is real and strong and now.  It’s indescribable without cliches; so I won’t even try.  I leave you with a clink of our tea cups and a prayer that you find your own tea of magic to steep in.

Blessings and Smiles, Diane

Handsome and Diane

Handsome and Diane

What I Miss

The Roiling, Boiling Upper Iowa River, Decorah, IA.  Copyright Diane Ludeking 2013

The Roiling, Boiling Upper Iowa River, Decorah, IA. Copyright Diane Ludeking 2013

I miss the coyotes.
Her voices,
by the walls
that hold the roof
above me,
become clear
like spring water at its source
when I step into the night.
I miss the coyotes.
Her joyful cries
turned desperate
by men
with rifles
and grins.
I miss the coyotes.
Her predatory tension,
now absent,
becomes a void
in the night sky,
an empty den,
at-ease horses,
pleasant pheasants
and reposeful rabbits.
I miss the snow when it melts.
I miss the floods when they recede.
I miss the trees consumed by progress.
I miss the coyotes.
I miss the way I never used to miss things.


What do you miss?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

I miss you, Reader, Friend & Journeyer.  I miss writing.

It has been almost six months (wow, that’s a long time considering I used to blog every week) since I have met you here.  I think I’m ready to get back to it.  Maybe not every week yet, but I’m ready to be back.

I took the time off to be with my ailing cat and horse.  Both have since passed.

I look forward to a regular rendezvous with you here again.  Blessings, Diane

What to Leave on Your Pillow

My Wondrous Carnelian Stone
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012


I left something vital on my pillow upon waking one morning.

At breakfast I thought I had left my brains behind, sitting like a large carnelian stone in the depression created by its weight.  At lunch I thought I had left my sanity behind, pooling and dripping off my contoured pillow to the pillow-top mattress.  Later I thought I had left my logic behind, hungover and dozing beneath heavy quilts.

All day long I had a nagging notion that something slipped from me in my dreams and waited on my 500 thread count pillow case for me to scoop it back up.

Like a faithful dog awaits the return of its person, this thing I left behind sat and stared at the bedroom door while the sunlight tiptoed across the wall.

Whatever I left behind that morning hung heavy and wet like a towel turban about to fall free from my showered mane.  Would this feeling last for just this day?  Would it seep back into my skull upon my next slumber?  Did I want it back?

By nightfall, I knew what I had unwittingly left upon my pillow.  What I left behind made way for the most mindful, calm and pleasant day amidst my largest storm in recent years.  I wanted to know what was missing so that I could recreate the ease of this day again and again.  I wanted to pick up this missing thing from my sage colored pillow case and set it upon a shelf to collect dust.  What I left on my pillow would become a reminder of the way I wanted to be in the world.

What I left on my pillow that morning was fear.

It was vital that I left it there.

In order to know what a courageous life might feel like.

These Sugary Words

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

The words, the words, the words.

The words are full of sugar.

These sugary words

fix my cravings

for chocolate and ice cream.

These sugary words

bred from crispy kale

and green smoothies

and cheese.

Sweet and true and scrumptious,

these sugary words

defy gravity.

Leave me hanging


with views from outer space

a planet so strange and distant.

These sugary words

attract four eagles

and tears.

Two eagles remain

to circle and circle

to partake of

my sugary words

and give me more.

These sugary words exclaim

Welcome back!

as they slip away

behind the trees.

What Mysteries Await

Horse chestnuts
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

I discovered these exquisite gems a few weeks ago at a Women and Girl’s Night Out event.  Thirty women and girls gathered on a chilly, windy autumn evening to raise our voices together in song around fire.  Six of us stayed overnight, snuggling up in our sleeping bags out of the wind in a cabin with bunks.  After our morning closing celebration, three of us went for a walk to the swinging bridge nearby.  As we began our walk, I noticed hundreds of horse chestnuts strewn about the trail.  I met these nuts for the first time the night before, but to find them myself in the daylight tickled me like a girl in a horse barn.  How is it that I’ve never seen these before in my lifetime?  What other mysteries are out there awaiting my gaze?

Horse chestnuts
Photo credit Wikipedia

What Mysteries Await
by Diane Ludeking
Lime pufferfish
turns brown
Falls away
Fine mahogany,
delicate cherry wood,
supple leather
I wear.
White chocolate
nutty meat
My own sweet
What flavor is your mystery
Would you be angry-looking
if I were angrily looking?
Would you be sad-looking
if I were sadly looking?
You are innocent-looking
because I innocently look.

Horse chestnut
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012


Swinging Bridge Destination
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012


Falling Off the Wagon

A road to an ease-filled life.
Hungarian Countryside.
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2010


I have fallen off the writing wagon.

No permanent injuries have been sustained but some bruising is showing itself today as I look at my sparse spreadsheet for daily word counts this month.

I realized this week that my running life is a metaphor for my writer’s life (or vice versa).  I began running again a few weeks ago.  I thought that since I had run three miles easily before my last layup (I most likely quit or forget to run for a few weeks), I could pick up right where I left off.  Day three of returning to the run, my foot said, no way!  I simply cannot take it easy to get back into it.  It’s 150% or nothing.

I have hauled myself back onto the sugar eating wagon.

I am an emotional eater so self sabotage has been the cheer most recently.  I can’t run so I will trash my body.  Sounds like frustration disguised as a temper tantrum at thirty-six.  I gain weight as my book gets heavy from abandonment.

I write at 150% or nothing.  I am willing to write poorly, as long as my writing isn’t poor.  Blah!  I love to write accurately and metaphorically.  But I need to love to write poorly.  I love to write.

I begin a walking/hiking health-style today.  I vow to take it easy, to be gentle, even when I want to run (I am Peter Pan, after all, when I take to the woods).  I love to run!  But I need to love my body more by not abusing it.

I aim to bring my eating life and my writing life into alignment by beginning again.  Mindfully.

So instead of strolling down Sabotage Road, kicking the dust up with my lazy gait, looking for the muse-colored wildflowers, I will embrace every moment given to me in an effort to get back on the writing highway, paved with words and metaphors.

How has your creative life been suffering lately?  How are you keeping it alive?  How is your sanity these days?

Vulture Medicine

Vulture Cave
Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

It’s International Vulture Awareness Day (September 1, 2012)! Up until a few months ago, I never gave Vulture much thought, although I see them more since moving to NE Iowa ten months ago.  The bluffs offer protection, plenty of food and community for them.

What changed my mind was an intense encounter with Vulture a few months ago.

I had wandered through the woods in search of a spring and stream, but instead entered the lair of about eight vultures who quickly took flight only twenty feet above me.  I heard them first.  The sound of a few small breaking twigs met my ears as their wings brushed through the heavily wooded area they called home base.  I froze.  My eyes went instinctually from the task of picking a way through the dense forest floor to the trees above and before me.

And then I felt the air around me pulse as their wings displaced it with the effort of flight.  Vulture’s magnificent presence reached me in waves.  I felt a vibration run through me, raising hairs on my arms and lowering my temperature as my blood fell to my feet.  A chill went through me.  I opened my mouth, but my exclamation was silent.

Once I no longer heard them and was no longer frozen by the grips of their trance, I continued forward.  I found the stream bed, bone dry in this summer’s drought.  I walked over the chalky white stones in my barefoot shoes, imagining cold spring water rushing about my ankles.  Dark brown feathers were scattered haphazardly about, covered in scat.  That is when I noticed the white stones had been baptized by Vulture.  I paused just then to take in the magnitude of life here.

Their dark feathers every few feet also accentuated the fragile grey bones strewn about.  I felt like a trespasser.

Sacred things happened here, past and present.  I bowed to the unknown and then lifted my eyes to take in the shear rock cliff to my right, hidden behind ancient trees.  A large opening in the cliff drew me in.  I heard a faint drip from within and below the back wall of the cave.  The drips spaced too far apart were the only evidence of a struggling spring.

I left that place reluctantly.

When I got home, I reached for Animal Speak by Ted Andrews to read about the vulture.  Vulture is more brilliant that I ever imagined.  I recommend the book if you don’t have it as what I’m about to share about Vulture is what resonated with me.  Vulture may speak differently to you, but this is what I found most profound (paraphrasing):

  • Vulture can soar for hours in the thermals, assisting those with this totem to work with energy and auras.  It demonstrates how to use little to no energy while soaring.
  • Vulture has one of the most important ecological roles because it consumes dead carcasses and “recycles” potential disease into one of the most potent anti-bacterial solutions in nature – its excrement!  It reminds me of purification and renewal.
  • It’s circling patterns in the sky remind me of patterns in my life and in the earth’s life.  It reminds me to be effortless in exploring my own patterns and allow nature to do the same.
  • Vulture is often misunderstood.  It reminds me to remain true to myself and my gifts.  I am more important than I know.  I have impact just as I am.

I wish I had the book with me to share more, but alas, the intrigued seeker will find.  Please share your thoughts in the comments – I yearn for your words.

Go forth and resonate with Vulture in your own way today and everyday.

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

Copyright Diane Ludeking 2012

Abandoned Horsepower

’58 Edsel
Copyright Doug Schmeltzer Photography 2012

A ’58 Edsel waits in a collapsing garage.
Mottled horse collar grill and
Pieced-together wooden hood
Weathering as best they can.
A stick props open the garage door
Just enough to steal a glance
At this beast of transportation.
It looks back with driver’s side
Bug-eye headlights.
The passenger side pair gouged out or
of clinging
To rust.
A ’58 Edsel bought to replace the
One that crashed on Easter 1962
On the way to church.
Gravel road, dust, oncoming truck.
Toddling in the back seat.
Egg yolk and blood stained upholstery
Worn to the knackers.
Horseshoe shaped scar
From the rear view mirror
On the toddler’s face
Now five decades old.
A ’58 Edsel sighs in a collapsing garage.
Five decades worth of scars
From an accident it wasn’t involved in.

[All photos by Doug Schmeltzer Photography used with permission.]

’58 Edsel
Copyright Doug Schmeltzer Photography 2012

’58 Edsel
Copyright Doug Schmeltzer Photography 2012

How to Dream Bigger than you Dream

Me and Dallas

The Temple of Know existed to save the animals.  The palatial shelter for cats and dogs sat in a wealthy neighborhood and was being given to me to run.  Having the experience and confidence to make it a reality, I gave myself a tour imagining each room with a new purpose.  The expansive foyer would need only minimal changes to be transformed into the little dog room.  The black and white marble floor would mop up easily and the floor to ceiling windows would soon be filled with excited nose prints.  I knew the little dogs were up to the challenge of winning visitors over, so it was decided and I moved on to the next room.

A sitting room with two exquisite chaise lounges upholstered in red velvet sat across from a lean floral davenport.  The pit bulls and Rottweilers would be the kings of this domain.  I’d decided last minute that the bookshelves would remain full of their classics to encourage skittish visitors to enter the room.  I knew the power of books.

Every room was ideal for dogs and cats.  But one had to remain for humans.  For the twenty-four hour staff who would work busily to rid the world of unwanted animals.  That just sounds silly.  Who doesn’t want animals?

Anyhow, I tried not think that I didn’t deserve this mansion, but then remembered it was for the animals.  Somehow that made it acceptable.  Then I began wondering where the horses would live.  There wasn’t much outdoor space as this neighborhood was crowded with 20,000 square foot homes that housed one or two people each.

I wandered into one of the many fine dining places on this wealthy street and was quickly introduced to Gollorogs.  They looked like the caramel treat Rolos and rested in little paper cups.  Each cup had a letter and it spelled Gollorogs in a playful font.  Prosciutto nestled somewhere within the “g.”  I decided Gollorogs would become the name for people that helped save the animals.  And the horses could live here.

The Temple of Know existed to save the animals.  And Gollorogs became their guardian.

What can you add to this dream?  In order to dream bigger than you dream, avoid editing yourself.

Take a recent dream and elaborate.