250 Troop 309

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.

silver imac on desk
The Order in randomness 13:09 or 3:09 ? Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

218 Eagle Sighting

The eagle is God’s messenger. Like the herald angels, like the story of Jesus’s birth, the Divine speaks to each person in every moment.

My brother, Mic, and his wife, Tessa, live on an extraordinary, roving, country property.  There are ponds and fields, flowers (even now) and wildlife.  We went for a Covid visit a couple of weeks ago, walking around outdoors, appropriately distanced.

Kwami was excited to see eagles.  There can be eagles at my brother’s.  They are known to swoop down and scoop a duck dinner from the pond.  But they hadn’t visited in a while.  

We were so blessed to spend time with Mic and Tessa.  Their grand-kids swung over the pond on the rope swing, laughing, exuding joy.  We listened to the babbling creek that Mic reshaped with tedious hours of labor, changing it from an eye soar (pipe) to natural beauty.  The experience defined peace and love.

photo of two eagles perched on tree branches
Two Eagles Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

And, there were eagles.  A pair, with white glimmering head feathers, flew effortlessly toward the pond.  As if called to us, they landed together, at the tip of an evergreen, and posed dramatically.  A form of Divine beauty.  

The eagle is God’s messenger.  Like the herald angels, like the story of Jesus’s birth, the Divine speaks to each person in every moment.  We are a part of the Source, and It constantly sends love and acknowledgement.   The trick is to ramp up the listening, to see the unseen or barely witnessed.   But there are obvious experiences of perfection.  Two eagles on the tree.  Laughing children.  The conversation and love of relatives.  Divine.

201 Two Babies in One Day

I have this month of focus on joy, and look at the landslide! All of it will be challenging, require a lot of growth, and will move our society forward.

My mind wants to start with social commentary, but my heart says this is a chance to focus on joy, the beauty that things that are ugly can create.  So much beauty. 

Cream mushrooms on the side of a big brown tree. Photo by Michele's friend Amy Hixon
Mushrooms Photo by Michele’s friend Amy Hixon

Abundant mushrooms are growing right now.  All sizes, shapes, forms and colors.  They are showing up.  It’s the season.  The decomposing matter.  Amy documents the mountainous varieties in beautiful, spine tingling photography.  We can see them in our grass and the yard’s forest floor.  They are transmuting the past.

Yesterday, Kayleen and Conner’s Christmas card arrived.  An iconic oven front, ready for holiday baking.  When you pull on the handle, there is a bun in the oven.  The baby is due in May.

Saidi also sent new pictures from Kampala, Africa, pictures of his baby son.  A note saying that the delivery was normal, Mom and baby are doing well!  Shazal has longer hair than his papa.  Adorable.  Hope.  A new world.

Baby Semakula Shazal born December 2, 2020, in Kampala, Uganda, with brother Shazil, sister  Shainah, father Semakula Saidi and mother Halimah
Semakula Shazal born December 2, 2020, in Kampala, Uganda, with brother Shazil, sister Shainah, father Semakula Saidi and mother Halimah.

Although I’ve teased about this one being long in coming, Rylie and Joey also announced their engagement last week.  It has not been a long time in coming!  It just feels like it, given my time lines. And given the obviousness of their paired path.

And so when we sat down to dinner tonight, Shante and Mark puzzled about their year of weddings, six to be scheduled so far.  They have hope of staggered plans so that they can attend them all.  But it does look precarious, and hopeful.  They also have people in their world that will welcome babies.

So much joy!  I have this month of focus on joy, and look at the landslide!  All of it will be challenging, require a lot of growth, and will move our society forward.  I feel so blessed to witness this moment, this stage, the mushrooms spreading across the forest floor.  Gratitude.

202 Wedding Advice

Thank you notes are important. Gratitude is important. Some of the best advice ever:

I do want to document my consistent wedding advice.  The parameters will likely hold true for my grandchildren and great grand children and is certainly something that is NOT advocated in the consumerist world of Pinterest and Bride magazine.

Even as I share this, I know the biggest order for the day is “go your own way”.  Do the marriage and commitment part for you.  Do not buy into how you have seen it done before, or into making your wedding better than the last three you attended.  That is a recipe for disaster.  So maybe my advice is don’t take advice.  Chuckling.  You can look for your own truth inside other’s advice.  That makes this worth writing.

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

Consider eloping.  If you can start with a day for just you and a couple of very important witnesses, you dispel the jitters and nerves, get to enjoy each other without performing to a crowd, and have a personal memory that is yours alone.  Check in with the groom.  Many grooms are not thrilled about the party scene, and really appreciate a chance to have an intimate marriage before the day of the wedding.  And the end result will be a restful evening together, a night to create connection and intimacy… rather than incredible exhaustion.

Avoid debt.  When it comes to the big party, don’t allow it to go over budget.  Certainly, stay away from the credit cards.  Anyone who really loves you would rather that you put a down payment on a house, paid the future forward for your life with children or supporting societal growth, or just stayed in your bank account for emergencies.  If you are swimming in the fluidity of economic abundance, be willing to do the crazy dream.  If not, find a dream without high tags.  Evening and mid afternoon weddings can have cake and appetizers, and skip the meal.  Weddings can be in wild locations, and receptions are optional.  Think about what fits you best.  

Ask for help.  The big wedding day.  No responsibilities.  Literally!  You can hire people who cover this.  If you have close friends, figure out how to delegate, and do it flawlessly.  The bride and groom should be able to eat, to dance, to laugh and talk and share, to mingle, to pose for those millions of pictures (or not, you can limit the ridiculous).  Someone else should be the go to person, who knows where everything is, where everyone belongs, how the plan unfolds.  Delegate.  Then release and relax.

A traveling show.  We have a lot of people who have families that spread across the globe.  Mini receptions in travelling locations are a thing.  You can have a house party, cater it with chips and dips, cheese trays and punch, resay the vows, cut a new cake, and take it all to a more manageable, spread out sort of joy.  Costco can be your friend sometimes… this sort of time.  I recommend the Chocolate Mousse Cake (dare to add ice cream).

Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake From Costco with roasted chicken and wine and empty wine glass and flowers
Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake From Costco for wedding

Thank you notes are important.  Gratitude is important.  Some of the best advice ever:  Have your delegated gift watcher hand people who are passing off a card or gift an envelope to self address.  You know that it will be filled out correctly!  When the envelope can be lightly taped to the gift, it helps to identify items that separate themselves from identification.  It’s just smart, and it saves the busy newlyweds time.

The big and the small.  Just an ounce of advice.  The biggest goal, have a happy life.  Remember that you are not the center of the universe and that the marriage is not about you alone.  Find compassion.  Research communication, forever, constantly growing, constantly honing your listening skills.  Reassess yourself.  If things aren’t going well, you own a part of it.  Find the part. 

These are the real keys and advice that I hope I do not need to convey.  They should be an inherent part of commitment.  To your spouse, your parent, your children.  Your world.  Keep growing.  You are love incarnate!  Act like it.  I would like to insert a smiley here.  I don’t think writing is where a smiley belongs.  My ending conundrum.

198 Slipping Quietly Into Death

We are surrounded by death. It is currently anyone’s game. No guarantees. That is always the case, but with the eyelids open just a wee bit more, the realization is bright.

People die.  It is a part of the cycle.  The American culture is ill prepared.  When one ponders just one element, say the political situation, it illuminates our disconnection with God with the big picture.  But we have messed up values.  Look in a grocery cart.  Watch a half hour of the news or Youtube.  Consider the financial direction of a paycheck.  Frightening.

Suffice it to say, I don’t recommend self judgment.  Just a moment with the eyelids more than cracked can send a person over the edge.   Open them slowly, carefully, and with a lot of self compassion.  And look inward.  Use any judgment that pops up to look inward.  That could clear the hatred, a lot.  Compassion.  

Debby’s dad Leslie Clinton House died a few week ago.  He was diagnosed with cancer, underwent treatment, and was living normally.  The last I heard, he was helping with the cats, feeding and cleaning up after them while Debby spent time in the hospital.  

Portrait of Leslie Clinton House July 1944- November 2020. The father of Debby Silence Michele's friend.
Leslie Clinton House July 1944 to November 2020

He died peacefully, sat down with a cup of coffee, and slipped to the other side.  Quiet.  Simple.  No melodrama.  I think it was his form of perfect.

She misses him, misses the idea of him, longs for the tasks and love of the human form.  Of course. 

We are surrounded by death.  It is currently anyone’s game.  No guarantees.  That is always the case, but with the eyelids open just a wee bit more, the realization is bright.  

Am I doing what I want to do with the last year of my life, the last month, the last week, the last day of my life?  Are you?  

We may be here for decades.  Or we might slip to the other side in a heartbeat.

155. Dream Catchers

The dream catcher is made by a grandmother figure, and the child takes it with them through the stages of life as a part of their “medicine”, their power in this lifetime.

We made dream catchers in Scouts and as crafts, but through my mentoring program, I learned about the spiritual representation.  This is my story of understanding.  Starfeather Marcy, who was taught by Pacific Northwest Cherokee Grandmother, White Horse Woman, retaught the careful steps of creating one. 

The dream catcher is made by a grandmother figure, and the child takes it with them through the stages of life as a part of their “medicine”, their power in this lifetime.

The time and energy devoted in creating the Dream Catcher is part of its beauty and energy.  There is a lot of love involved in making the sacred gift.

I usually begin with a handmade cedar ring from trees in the yard.  The cedar is the sacred wood of the Pacific Northwest, used for housing, clothing, canoes, nets and many other life sustaining purposes by the original Indigenous people.  Cedar is special; well, every tree is special.  Cedar smudge is used to represent and send messages to the North, the elders and teachers, Buddha, Jesus, White Buffalo Calf Woman, your ancestors and more.

Leather lacing is also about the people in your lineage.  Think of each strand as a grandmother and grandfather, a great grandmother and grandfather, on back to the beginning of man. The lacing is cut by hand, and is not a simple task.  The time and concentration put into it are love incarnate.  Most of the leather for sacred dream catchers in the Pacific Northwest are gifted from deer or elk.  The animals evoke connection and stories from people individually, but I see them universally as symbols of abundance, peace, and our intertwined existence with nature.

Right now, we are visiting Ocean Shores for a week.  Deer literally roam the streets.  Shante counted more than thirty on a trip from town to the condo.  So for us, the deer leather could be a reminder of joy with our family, or time at the ocean, or the tranquility that comes from a visit to the area.  You have your own stories and can look for the individual meaning in a dream catcher.

Numbers have meaning.  Groups of three convey the trinity, or three stages of being, Father/son/spirit (divine Mother/daughter/spirit).  Four is the four directions, North, South, East, and West, the balance in the medicine wheel, the cycles in all existence.  Seven is also about the medicine wheel, adding Earth, Sky and Creator to the four.  Eleven is both.  Count the beads. Count the strands of leather.  There is meaning.  You may notice a number on one strand in particular.  You can use the internet to check for hints from the spirit. 

The feathers are gifts from the birds.  The particular bird might have meaning to the family, could be a spirit animal coming with messages, and most certainly adds a characteristic beauty.  Sometimes, feather quantities can convey meaning too.

Colors also share representation.  White is purity, innocence, and spiritual elevation.  Purple can be the highest self, fulfillment, alignment with the whole universe.  Blue is another representation of high level self, fluid like the water, evoking clear and truthful communication. Brown is nurturing, earth connection, peace and stability. Green can be seen as growth, hope, harmony, and life. There are so many possible connections.

The center is created of threads or artificial sinew.  It is woven to catch the negative “dreams”, or the negatives in the life journey.  The beads in the weaving are where the negatives are caught and transmuted, sent back out into existence as beauty and light.  

The hole in the center of the web is important.  When I see a dream catcher without a gap in the middle, I am truly confused.  The center is a sacred space where the good dreams, the positives, travel through the dream catcher, down a leather or sinew strand, and pass to the dreamer through the feather at the end.

I am honored to have learned the spiritual messaging, and so grateful to Starfeather, White Horse Woman, and the ancestors of the art.  A dream catcher delivers beauty and hope to our lives.

140. Zen and the Art of Tie Dye

We have dyed with Scouts, with 4H, with friends and with people we did not know. Tiny socks, enormous bed sheets, and everything in between. It is the reason that the adult Girl Scouts have been gifted tie dye baby blankets and T’s. The memory. The camaraderie. The legacy

A magnificent form of dying, tie dyeing, entered our lives with Christine.  I can’t remember the year or the reason.  She brought her equipment, and we learned the process.  Hundreds of items, perhaps more than a thousand, have emerged with elaborate color over the past two decades.  

We have dyed with Scouts, with 4H, with friends and with people we did not know.  Tiny socks, enormous bed sheets, and everything in between.  It is the reason that the adult Girl Scouts have been gifted tie dye baby blankets and T’s.  The memory.  The camaraderie.  The legacy.

The five storage tubs are not hauled out of the shed or garage often, mostly because of the chaos of clean up.  When it does come out, it’s a lengthy process that usually spans a couple of months.  

The full experience can be accomplished in 24 hours.  It doesn’t take long to dye a shirt.  We just have different people who want to pop in for the dye.  And I always have lofty goals that I NEVER reach, just accepted as par for the course.  The materials wait, spread over whatever surfaces function.

Today, Shante and Mark came over with a handful of shirts and some pillow cases.  New for 2020, Dharma Trading Company has dye-able cloth masks, of course.  So they did a couple of those too.  Grownup tie dye requires some sewing, some planning, a lot of patterns and methods beyond the rubber band circle!   Mark’s quote, “I don’t remember this being so technical.” 

This year is technical.  It is requiring every ounce of our patience, an elaborate skill set, and colorful approaches we have never used before.  We are living the lines and colors of the most complex mandala.  And each of us has a role that is required in the intricacy of the whole.  Like opening the tie dye work in the rinse out process, we are waiting to see the beauty in the end result.

222 Intense

Planet Earth, 2020. A world on fire.

It was intense.

Nyasha’s Morning spoken by Nyasha Stowell, montage by Michele

Nyasha’s Morning

Cream of Wheat. 

There were flames.  It was intense.

The end.

Ericka’s Childhood

Ice cream too hard.  Pot on the stove.

There were flames.  It was intense.

The end.

Shante’s World

Outdoor food?  Not a problem.

Create the flames.  Make them intense.

The end.

The Pheonix

Planet Earth, 2020.  A world on fire.

There are flames.  It is intense.

Phoenix rising.

125 Four Poems for Michele Stowell: You will remain invisible; Were you on a mission?; Terminal one Terminal Two.

Divinity wraps Herself around me
Like an invisible light
There are no ominous shadows to swallow me.

by Kwami Nyamidie

  1. You Will Remain Visible

New Moon.
You call us to prayer,
Reminding us it’s time to make wishes:
Mother’s bygone days ritual
For the nascent lunar month.

silhouette of man standing near body of water

Wish Making at New Moon

Full moon.
The sacred spell-casting time
A reminder
Of the bond across time and space.

three women sitting on rock infront of ocean

Full moon: A Time to Cast Spells

Invisible loved ones surround us now.
Grandma Chickadee comes twittering.
Double arced rainbows flutter
Across snow-capped mountains.

Grandma Chickadee

Owls hoot the presence
Of medicine men and women
Waiting behind the liminal wall
Of life
Of death.
They blow us their kisses.

From new moon to new moon,
You will melt my heart.
As I gaze up at the full moon’s dreamy disk,
You will stand by
As my co-celebrant of sacred spells
Visible to me
From yonder.
April 2020

2. Were You On A Mission?

From teaching primary school children with Norma
To tutoring teenagers learn to drive,
Mentoring youngsters on money matters
Did you come to show us how to live?

Mother figure to girls scout members
Guardian of children with less present parents;
Biological mother of two daughters.
Did you come down to show us how to love?

You cared more about others’ pain
Than the prospect of your own death
Worrying more about
The oncologist’s torment
As he delivered devastating news
Than the prospect of a terminal illness
Robbing you of life.


About your demise you spoke
As though you were just getting ready
To return to a cherished home.

Stepping out of your human coccoon
Seems to pose no problems for you.

Did you come to us mortals of this world
To teach us how to die?

  1. Terminal One

A run-away pet python let loose
slithers under the kitchen sink.

An assassin with white gloves
lurks behind the shower curtain.

A lion in the car’s backseat
Readies to attack.

They dog me everywhere like
Invisible shadows of doom.

The soles of the feet feel the heat.
A volcano readies to erupt.

A missile on a drone hovering above
locks in steelthily its crosshairs
on the crown of the head.

The mind struggles to forget what it has known
The blood pressure machine
Registers 88 over 140
Betraying the body’s fear of its end.

Terminal.

  1. Terminal Two

Do not be afraid to crush
a raven on the highway–
Its wings can ferry it far away.

Between the disaster about to happen
And the catastrophe,
Much happens.

With medicineman mojo
I wake up in a dream
My magical vision
Sees under the kitchen sink
A purring cat standing in
For the deadly python.

Through the shower curtain’s slit
I receive a soft towel my beloved hands me.
There’s no assassin with white gloves.

Leo barks in the backseat
Recognizing the familiar landscape
And the sweet smell of home.
There’s no lion waiting to attack.

Divinity wraps Herself around me
Like an invisible light
There are no ominous shadows to swallow me.

Mother Earth cuddles me in a warm embrace.
Above me fly the diamond shaped kites
Of the vacationers on a summery beach.

assorted color kites

Kites, not drones, hover my head.

Between the disaster about to happen
And the materialization of tragedy
Stretch nanoseconds
Wide enough for the raven to fly away
To experience the magic escape
In a lucid dream.

There is no death.

June 4, 2020.

124. Into the Dark

There is no comfort in darkness. No safety in the unknown. Only the paralyzing fear and the desperate thumping of the heart.

Nyasha Stowell

Darkness. When it’s dark, when it’s night, death feels closer. Not some fun anthropomorphic vision of death like in Terry Pratchett books. The kind that lurks in the darkness itself, in a way.

When I lay down and shut my eyes, thoughts race. I allow myself a glimpse at the edge of that cliff. Teetering above the void. What would it be, to shut my eyes and step off that edge? What is waiting out there?

From the security of cliff’s edge, I cannot see. I cannot get a taste of it. I cannot even get my mind around it. The idea of giving up this world, stopping breath, and the flow of blood sends adrenaline through me. Tells my heart to beat faster, stronger. Tells my lungs, take on all the air you can. My body seeks to further distance itself from the precarious edge we are all tripping along.

The body is delicate. The body knows this, but seeks to distract itself with day to day dramas. But in the darkness, it’s not so easy to forget. So when darkness comes, the soul can more easily ponder the edge. The tiniest fraction of space and time. The gossamer nothingness that stands between here and now and that deep dark unknown.

The body is unwilling to spend too much time at the edge. The body fears it’s fragility, for it has an end, outlined and proven again and again in shootouts, car collisions, and cancer. The body ends, in decay or flame. But from it something escapes.

I think the body must resent the soul, for the soul is free from this temporary existance. Allowed to explore places the body can only dream about. So when late at night, the mind touches the only thing it can. The very edge of this cliff. And even the edge causes the body fear.

There is no comfort in darkness. No safety in the unknown. Only the paralyzing fear and the desperate thumping of the heart.