Stories, Poems, Reflections and Meditations on Life and Renewal
Author: Michele Plumb Stowell
Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.
I had never seen your mom upset! She was always level headed and kind when we messed up, nothing seemed to faze her.
Favorite memories of just sitting around the counter talking.
I’ve been thinking since I first saw you posted this and have absolutely not been able to make a decision about what to share. A lot of my favorite memories are the ones where we’d just sit around the counter talking. Drinking from those plastic cups we insisted on!
There’s one from when we were pretty young that always stands out to me – I was messing around (as was always allowed at your house!) but I went too far and broke one of Michele’s castles that lined the wall up by the ceiling. I was completely being careless, I think I threw a ball at it? And it BROKE. Big crash.
I had never seen your mom upset! She was always level headed and kind when we messed up, nothing seemed to faze her. So based on her immediate reaction I totally expected her to get really angry, to yell at me, or “not like me anymore” (kids lol).. But she didn’t. Of course. She just said “I need a moment” and left to her room. She came back later and I apologized and we talked it out.
Michele taught me so much over the years but that specific moment was an example I think about all the time.
On a lighter note – I can’t see llamas without wondering if they’re the evil spitting kind! And I fondly remember us all fighting every week for the front seat in the truck (so you could play ANY music you wanted). And doing fire drills to justify our obsession with burning things inside.
Homecoming! We all got ready at the house and Michele curled our hair. I took this picture and said that I would tell everyone she was my mom. Lol. (Kimberly Ann Bray)
Not necessarily a specific memory, but just all of the moments that she was anyone and everyone’s mom/grandma. She has so much unconditional love for everyone in her life and always made sure we were taken care of. (Karolynne DeSoto)
Any time I got to spend with her and the rest of the crew at her house in Granite Falls. I still remember the night we all painted our own plates! Michelle always made me feel so welcomed and loved, even when I felt like an outsider, which I’m eternally grateful for and will never forget. (Shannon Ozog)
I can thank her for starting my obsession with ice cube trays.
The ever classic quote
“If you guys wanna come over whenever you want, that’s fine with me, just make sure to call so that you don’t catch me in a towel, or worse…NAKED!!!”…
I can go on and on and on. Off the top of my head the one i just thought of moments ago. I can thank her for starting my obsession with ice cube trays. And also donating a large portion of my current number of ice cube trays. Of which I will now cherish more than before!
Yet as the mind experiences a sense of loss, the only thing I want for you is the resonance of great love . . . true love . . . evolved, altruistic, blissful and ecstatic love! I love you!
Now I have died- first know, it was just my body! I will always be near, loving you with even greater completeness. I will always be there to help with your sad moments, to assist with strength, when all seems lost. Right next to you. Not even a molecule of distance.
I will also be around when all is wonderful, happy, and filled with laughter, because I love the laughter!
Each person in my world deserves dedicated pages of gratitude. I don’t want that left unsaid. I am soooooo grateful for the experiences we have shared!
I am so in love with the moments of hell and the moments of heaven. If I had a magic wand, I would wave it over you so that the realization of that love could always be with you. Each person and each experience. So valuable. Although I’ve really enjoyed all of the crazy gatherings, the moments that pop out are ones of communion. I’m not talking about moments in church, but the greater experiences of connection: the tears when speaking about transitions in our lives, the quiet contemplation in a shared space, the lightning storm on the hillside.
Thank you. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for showing and sharing your true self here and there. Thank you for being in my life!
I know that we cannot be separated by something as paltry as death. Yet as the mind experiences a sense of loss, the only thing I want for you is the resonance of great love . . . true love . . . evolved, altruistic, blissful and ecstatic love! I love you! The end (or is it just the beginning?)
I can tell you this, Michele has been an excellent friend guiding me through acceptance and helping me come to terms with everything and even feeling like everything will be okay.
She was too busy helping me to deal with it, I don’t really know how Michelle handled her diagnosis.
I did talk to her on days that were harder than others after chemo or whatever and she had some ups and downs but I was the one that could not deal with her diagnosis. I can tell you this, Michele has been an excellent friend guiding me through acceptance and helping me come to terms with everything and even feeling like everything will be okay.
She never fails to be there when I need her even after I fall asleep while talking to her on the phone. I love Michele with all my ❤️ heart and feel just so blessed to have her as long as we do and so grateful that she is my friend.
Over the last year, Michele, you have lovingly taken our hands and been a companion to us all, as we have navigated through the land of grief and loss, the waters of acceptance, the fires of change and uncertainty and air of hope and joy.
I look forward to Thursdays each week, sacred space cleared and created, crystals placed, and supportive spiritual beings called in, to bless and aid the magic generated during those heart centered mornings. As Michele’s image pops up on my computer screen, I cannot help but smile, as the warm rush of gratitude and love washes over me. Michele meets me with open honesty, sprinkled with the belly shaking humor, the willingness to be curious, a depth of wisdom, and unconventional way of thinking, that only Michele knows how to powerfully bring into creation.
Michele is among one of the few people I know, who acknowledges the reverence of death as part of our human experience and spiritual evolution. There is a beauty, grace and a deep spiritual knowing, gain from lifetimes past, that enables Michele to powerfully witness the breadth and depth of her own physical and emotional journey, whilst bolstering a safe and loving space for her community and family to honor and recognized their own.
For me, Michele exudes the archetype of the Divine Mother, the mother who holds and carries us through the darkness, who is there as we births ourselves into the light, and who is the reassuring and guiding force that inspires us on our journey forward. She is a beacon of unconditional love, that never waivers, even in the face of adversity or personal pain. Her capacity to hold supersedes time and space, and in those sacred Reiki sessions, I have been in her mighty Mother Presence.
Over the last year, Michele, you have lovingly taken our hands and been a companion to us all, as we have navigated through the land of grief and loss, the waters of acceptance, the fires of change and uncertainty and air of hope and joy. Your Divine Mother Presence whispering to our souls, “Come my beloved, let me walk beside you, through the gates of transition. Do not be afraid, you are not alone. I am with you, for you my cherished one, are held in these arms of unconditional love”.
Thank you, Michele, for being a beautiful source of inspiration, light, and love.
And today, the holy no is about my mind, watching my mind. It can be very busy! In the past, I once identified eight tracks of thought happening in the same moment.
In the Woman Unleashed program, well, in any self reflection program, I have looked at the reasons and the actions my mind decides to take on the planet. When Amber wrote about the “holy no”, I could see one of my blind spots. I have been a person who says yes, when NO is the right answer. I think this happened a lot when I was younger, involved in everything, volunteering for multiple organizations. My prioritization was not what I would have wished, or, perhaps it was not as balanced as I would have wished. I did accomplish a lot. I did alter the world. I know I did what was “right” in that moment.
Amber saw that she wanted to spend more time with her sons, yet, was unable to say yes to experiences with them because of her busy schedule. She decided to use her conscious choice to alter that, to use the “holy no”. I definitely second guess my priorities of the past, and feel a sense of mental regret. (Again, I did what was right in that moment.)
I could have played more and scheduled less. I could have built time, required time, for casual self care, read more books for myself, done more artistic work for the sake of the action. I could have been more present for the kids, more light hearted and available for play.
Of course, the past is unalterable, and the space of regret can make a person crazy. Noticing history is about deciding what today will hold.
And today, the holy no is about my mind, watching my mind. It can be very busy! In the past, I once identified eight tracks of thought happening in the same moment. It would be like setting up eight stereos in the same room. Each had a theme and intention, and each was functioning independently.
One may have been on music, another on making breakfast, a third was writing or pre thinking a grocery list, the fourth directing the steps for getting the family out the door to school and events. The fifth track may have been planning a Scout event, the sixth getting myself dressed and ready, the seventh was analyzing the news, and the eighth may have been looking at the other seven and considering how those tracks applied to a course I was taking. That’s an example, and it was pretty common for my mind to run like that.
And, again, it wasn’t wrong. Pretty talented really. But busy. I consciously chose to alter it. I learned to quiet the lines, to limit the number. I built the capability to isolate one track, and then to have no track at all. Meditation. Sometimes meditation has one true track, the watcher. The extra tracks drop outside of self, and the watcher just looks at them, and knows they are something to watch rather than a part of self. The other tracks try to claim existence, and the watcher continues to just watch, to acknowledge the thought… but to recognize it as being something to look at. (And, for me, the most exciting and healing meditation is when the watcher drops away, and the sense of being is expansive, universal, and has no edges whatsoever. No tracks.) But I digress.
Today, my “holy no” is about my mind. Currently, the outside world is made of mandatory actions and appointments. There are holy yeses, where I choose family, Reiki, mentoring. But I need to look at how my mind prioritizes the moments, how many tracks have distracted me. I want to apply the holy no to put more beauty into each day.
God willing, I can be gentle with myself. This is a process. I am a lifelong project, an evolution.
February might be the best time to breathe energy into 2021. Is it fool hardy, in my situation, to face a year without a collage? What will it entail?
There is no collage, no 2021 collage. For the past two years, I attended a day long, ceremonial event with Starfeather. We completed large picture images that would speak to us from the walls.
Pictures were cut from inspiring calendars and magazines. Some people incorporated words. Joy, peace, dream, or even more specifically, words that reminded them of someone that they were honoring, with picture images or small possessions mounted to the foam board.
My 2019 collage became a string of three circles, with lacing and beads. The bottom circle honors my mother, brings an image that makes me think of her Spirit, her love, right there in the bedroom. The smallest is the most important.
The center circle honors a group of spirit animals, images I see in my life, or have seen in dreams and visions and feelings. They symbolize areas in the four directions, keep an etheric quality. A particular animal may draw my attention and my thoughts on any individual day.
The top circle has a ring of hands, the way we reach out to serve. Figures in that ring are touching water, holding a book, reaching others in assistance, holding another in love… It could be seen as observation of my role, our roles on the planet. Or it might be an honorarium of gratitude, a place to be thankful for how we touch others and are touched.
The lacing is always about ancestors. A lot of my creations have lacing. I have amazing ancestors. (If you aren’t fond of your own, trust me, there are ancestors that do ring truth to your spirit. They are there! There are no mistakes. And all of us have inspiration and support from those in the generations of history.) The beads are prayers, caught in the glass, held and loved and prayed.
That was 2019. I did not abandon one for another. It still hangs in the same place, still catches my attention and brings me spaces of awareness.
In 2020, my affinity for larger art exploded into four panels, one for each season. The way it went up on the folding doors of the closet started with the darkness of fall in blacks and deep blue, and moves to winter in white, spring in reds, and summer in green. The colors were taught by White Horse Woman, the Pacific Northwest interpretation of her spiritual wheel. They do depict nature scenes, in twisted, collaged imagery. The ancestors are represented by a large round piece, shaped like the sun, with faces of elders in the center.
When I roll over in bed, I see the sun first, the sun of the collage. It is directly in front of my vision. Guidance, support, love, healing. We generally look to the North for that. But the sun is at the base of the summer. This power encompasses the full year, all of our time. I stare into the faces. I don’t use my mind. There are no thoughts.
So 2021 is socially distanced. I do not have stock piles of magazines. My old calendars are pictureless, as I’ve moved to the versions that are kept in a drawer. Most people are using apps and google.
I am pondering a new version of collage, something more three dimensional. I have definitely watched January be more connected to 2020, the closure incomplete. February might be the best time to breathe energy into 2021. Is it fool hardy, in my situation, to face a year without a collage? What will it entail?
People often begin with a vision. I haven’t. I generally don’t know what the collage means, even as I hang the finished product for observance. I listen to it. I watch it. Each time the collage calls to my understanding, my internal self, shifting.
They evolve. I evolve. 2021 needs to declare a format, since traditional collage is out. I’m excited for its unveiling. I can’t wait for it to speak. I am grateful for the powerful intertwining, for God in my fingertips, and the physical representation and speaking that comes from on high.
College was up my alley. A bit more than a decade after that graduation, a marriage and two kids later, the barriers of the mind ran pictures of doubt and fear.
This is not where I was going. But when I sat down and clicked on the computer, the time read 3:09. Seeing those numbers is extraordinarily common for me. The price of gas. The house number of an airbnb (yes, I chose that one, that time). Commonly the time I glance at a clock. Randomly, wherever.
When I started as a scout leader, nervousness shook my body. I knew nothing about the program. I didn’t speak the language. Badges, ceremonies, songs. Everything was waiting to be learned. I didn’t know if I was capable, if I could be a leader when I had never been a scout. The pressure shook me more than heading to college. I felt in over my head. College was up my alley. A bit more than a decade after that graduation, a marriage and two kids later, the barriers of the mind ran pictures of doubt and fear.
There are so many classes for leaders to take! In fact, there were several that the prospective leaders were required to complete, before and soon after meeting the kids. The group came from Kindergarten. Nyasha went to Mountain Way Elementary, and when we began, eight Kindergarten girls, probably as nervous as I, arrived at the house after school.
I had experience, experience as a teacher. My degree and occupation had been education, multiage K-3. The kids would probably survive. And the lingo and songs and games and ceremonies were twists on things I had done so many times before, in different ways, with different types of young people, for a lifetime.
As we journeyed through the next 14 years and beyond, Troop 309 grew. We added the next two grades, counted up to 12 girls, and eventually to 18. Our experiences were amazing, crazy, creative, too numerous to mention. It was not a craft group, but we did a lot of crafts. It was not a travel group, but we traveled a lot. It was not a volunteer group, but volunteering in the community pushed 200 hours of possibility in high school alone. (I only know this because my own daughters did everything, every hour.)
Incredible adults made it happen. Carolyn Fisk steadily attended as assistant leader, thousands of hours. Without her, the whole thing would have been impossible. Scout programming required two trained leaders to be present at every meeting. Lori, Diane, and DeeDee jumped in to help, and so many other parents drove and assisted, supported and provided, whenever needed.
It was family. It is family. We emerged with wider capabilities (adult too). We grew together, and were empowered in personal growth. This story is a synopsized book, because I could write paragraphs about each “girl”, and have on job application recommendations, for college boards, wherever someone needed needed verification of excellence.
Where are they now, the younger generation of my enlarged family, pushing or toppling into their 30s? Notable to their power, they surround you. They are your doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, nurse, accountant, environmental advocate, the person working to bring fairness to the incarcerated, to train/communicate with/care for your dog, the people changing the education possibilities of today’s children, the teacher, the business owners, your insurance guidance, your yoga master/guru and physical trainer, and the powerful mothers (and future mothers) who reach out for higher awareness and capabilities that will bring their children to be the superheroes of tomorrow. I am being entirely specific.
There are so many more who also bloom into their destinies. The weddings, the baby showers… joy keeps evolving! I am so grateful for every moment. I am thankful to be reminded with the numbers 309. I am inspired by their stories and their lives, from the quiet and simplest to the wildest and most well travelled (this generation sure gets around, multi country, multi continent). Not one is better than another, but as a whole, they advance the world with an awareness I did not expect.
We are left with “who led whom”? The younger generation will lead us out of the darkness of the past. I feel my eyes twinkle and tear up, and my heart swell. The epitomy of beautiful young women! Namaste.