the e-dict

…from the imagination of Erika Randall Beahm

magic camp

Yesterday, my five year-old went to Harry Potter art and yoga camp where he made a wand, a magical keychain, and some spellbound candy–including a jawbreaker he named “stardust”–“when you eat it, stars light up, even in the day.” They did yoga and meditated with their own Sorcerer’s Stone. I am desperate for a grown-up version of this camp–a time and place where I could learn to create my own sweetness that reveals the stars, a moment to sit quietly with the belief that magic is everywhere, and a required “free time”  where I would be reminded that when I do open my mouth, the words I utter have the power to transform my world, with or without a bedazzled wand.

lighthouses and love

In the worlds of lighthouses and love, where some lights flash (longer periods of darkness interrupted by brief periods of light), and some occult (brief periods of darkness interrupted by longer periods of light), you, dear friend, are a fixed beacon–one that never goes dark.

word of the day: prevenient

Hi Friends,

Today I am honored to be giving the eulogy for Charlotte York Irey, the brilliant and feisty pioneer who founded my Dance Department and impacted the lives of thousands through her tenacity and belief in DANCE. Whenever I have to write something, I look to those who wield words far better than I to give me a shoulder to stand on. One of my favorite authors, of course, is Marilynne Robinson, and yesterday I found this gem about having the “willingness to see” and “prevenient courage.”

“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance – for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light …. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? …. Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave – that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.”

word of the day: prevenient

Prevenient grace, in Christian theology, is the notion of divine grace that precedes human decision. As it is mentioned in the bible, it relates to humankind’s kinks and bends towards sin, giving a folks a “get out of jail free card” through their God-given free-will to chose (or not to choose) salvation. Prevenient alone, means “coming before or anticipatory,” and Robinson’s notion of prevenient courage illuminates that bravery depends upon first having the desire to take action. What a thing always in our lives, to be willing to move forward, to turn your eyes towards that ember of what could be, even though there is fear in your heart. Before there was fear–based in the knowledge of pain experienced in real time–there is a prevenient (pre-you) calm of courage that leads us on.

A dancer trains to listen and access this prevenient drive, surviving that dark moment in the wings before the entrance, thanks to the practice and practice and practice of taking action:  the preparation before the leap, the deep coiling in towards trust to allow the improvisational impulse. In life, just as in dance, we sometimes need that little nudge into the light–that rolling snare, that anticipatory “5,6, 7, 8,” moving us towards bravery.

Charlotte had a lot of this prevenient moxie–it was the engine of her pioneering heart, her get-it-done-ness, and was the antidote to the loss she suffered in her life that could have immobilized her. “To Dance is Live!” she was fond of saying–to take action, to trust, to move forward–what a bountiful willingness to see! And in that fearless seeing she modeled for me, who knows her more through a patchwork quilt of other’s memories, that ability to turn that small grey ember back into radiance. prevenient.

Love to all,

not-so-silent e

word of the day: touch

Hi Friends,

ez has a friend at school who is blind. ez loves this friend and is eager to learn braille because of him. He even looked for braille valentines at the store (there weren’t any), but chose some with glitter so that his friend could have something to feel and could, perhaps, read his friendship in the upraised sparkle. What a thing–to look for the language of our dear ones to try to better communicate with them– to find the ways that are specific to them so that they can feel our love.That my five year old has this capacity and curiosity about loving sends me aloft.

I have never researched the braille alphabet until this morning. It is beautiful– complicated and elegant at the same time. Based off of Barbier’s “night writing,” Louis Braille’s new cellular notation was the first binary form of communication in the modern era. A man who lost his vision in a childhood accident riffed off the French military exercise of night writing, creating our first key-hole view into the language of computers. Until this morning, night writing meant a full moon, a half-emptied glass, and a tear-sodden piece of parchment. Or deft hands moving over the glowing skin of a lover. Or a last minute flurry on the keyboard for that paper on Descartes’ Passion of the Soul.

word of the day: touch

Braille and night writing both use the fingers to communicate– they use touch to be in touch. Nicole Krauss writes about “The Age of Silence” in her most brilliant book, The History of Love, and how “at night, when it’s too dark to see, we find it necessary to gesture on each other’s bodies to make ourselves understood.” In today’s age of noise, we spend much of our time using our fingers to hammer out things for the eyes to see, not the body to feel. Our poor hands, so much work with so little sensation in return. I am just now noticing the metal slick of my keyboard, the smooth wet slate feeling of my mousepad. I spend more of my day with this object but rarely do I feel it.

Perhaps it is due to this sense of alienation that I have taken to carrying a rock lately, a reminder that my hands need a tactile treat. They give and give and give but how often do they receive? That small, rough, pink pocket stone has a braille all its own; it holds the night writing of a million years, and a history of love and loss longer than anyone could ever record. And while Safeway may never carry braille Valentines, ez and I will keep searching for new ways for our love to be raised up and truly felt. touch.

Love to all,

not-so-silent e


Today I touched the sea,

tasted her salt.

inhaled her brine.


I am nothing like myself without her.


I see this now when I am

nearer the cliff’s edge,

nearer the quiet roar,

nearer my own heartbeat.


How do I exist on dry land?


Sometimes, I am even bold enough to think

that it is I, with all my tears of longing,

who has filled her to the shore.


The frozen ocean is just ten miles away, but I can’t seem to get there. Here, in my busy swirl of a schedule there is no time and no car to take me to the place I most want to be–by the sea. I don’t mind the cold and the wet–I have stood for hours by the sound, waiting for orcas to make their pilgrimage, rewarded for my rain-soaked skin by a parade the likes of none, 12 or 21 (I no longer remember which way the number turned) “killer whales” spouting by. But I was 20-something then and time stopped for adventure. When did I lose that watch, the one that stopped? The one with the hour hand on wander and the minute hand on lust?

I love the names of the three key devices in a mechanical watch: spring, balance wheel, and escapement. My mind leaps right over the engineering “truths” and into the poetic–in order for time to work we need to spring, to balance, to escape. What if today I turned my crown and set into motion a small jump from the must’s and sprung into the want’s? What if I balanced this to-the-minute life of mine with a moment measured by the vastness of the sea? And what if, only for an instant, I escaped all that I believed about myself and my limitations and went to the shore where, right in the middle of whale-watching off-season, some beautiful, wild thing showed her silvery self in the distance? And what if that shining, wild flash of a thing, were me?

natural beauty

This morning I am slightly embittered by the beauty of the world–as Annie Lamott says, “God showing off.” I feel small and cold, cracked fingered and red-nosed, racing for the tardy bell with my 5-year old in tow, hat down over his face, trusting my tug at his left hand up the hill as Mother Nature elegantly wraps herself in a pashmina of sparkling white and icy diamonds, kicks back, and shows her good side to the sun.  Really, you just wake up like that, I marvel at her. “It’s so much easier, ” she brags (she, who is never late for anything and always flawlessly accessorized), “When you stop trying to control and just let things be.”

word of the day: soul-utions

Dear Friends,

I want so much for next year–to publish my book, to survive well as Chair, to be a more patient mama, and find clarity, sweet, sweet clarity. oh, and peace. with a side of self forgiveness. I want all of this in reverse order. I need some solutions not resolutions.

word of the day: soul-utions.

I want heart emulsions and spirit tinctures– Seattle mist-like sprays scented of lavender, musk, rosemary, blackberry brambles, peppermint, sage. I want to be in-fused.

I want more time for love poems–written by me to me–and I want to read them near more water. Until the pages are wet and the ink bleeds and the paper disintegrates in my hands and washes out to sea.

I want stay soft in the middle, even as I work on my abs.

I want more time with you and more time alone.

I want to love my thighs as much as I loved my mermaid tail. And be more certain that I did the right thing with that trade. Perhaps I just need to swim more.

And I want laughter.

Real, honest to goddess laughter.

The kind that peels the shellac of my soul. The kind that has me sink down the wall, afraid to move for I might pee. A good 9.5 on the Richter scale that turns over the furniture, devastates all the china, cracks the foundation.

I need to write a script for that good medicine. Maybe laughter is the antidote to 2016. Laughter and action. and maybe next year will be better than the last. soul-ution.

Love and laughter to all,

not-so-silent e



word of the day: sadiron

Hi Friends,

Here I am, up before the s(o)n, so that I can iron out my mind and heart before starting my LAST day of the semester. I’m a terrible ironer. Really. I mean, when is the last time any of you saw me iron anything? I do have a travel steamer for emergencies but ironing. ..? When it comes to that household task, I find I put more wrinkles on the back side of whatever it is I’m trying to clean up out front. Self, I feel a metaphor coming on…

As I tackle a deep crease in my thinking from one side, I’m noticing heavy-handed, starched-in folds on the back of that same thought. I am not smoothing out my troubles these days, but facing them, head-on, only then to hold the residue of my hot and heavy-handed confrontation by feeling guilty or distraught or lost in time about what and when all this work means. I am working so hard to press out the trouble at the shirt-face of my concerns, only to then turn over my work and find a rumbled mess at the back that needs more and more careful pressing. My therapist says I am doing good work. But nobody else would want to wear these shirts, let me tell you.

word of the day: sadiron

“The sad iron in “sadiron or sad iron” is an old word for solid and the name suggests something bigger and heavier than a flat iron.” ~The History of Ironing

I need a sadiron. To get happy, I need something more sad, more solid. And a hotter fire. And a slower hand. The other hot tips I gathered from The History of Ironing is: You need at least two irons on the go together for an effective system: one in use, and one re-heating. At home, ironing traditional fabrics without the benefit of electricity was a hot, arduous job. Irons had to be kept immaculately clean, sand-papered and polished. They must be kept away from burning fuel, and be regularly but lightly greased to avoid rusting. Beeswax prevented irons sticking to starched cloth. Constant care was needed over temperature. Experience would help decide when the iron was hot enough, but not so hot that it would scorch the cloth. A well-known test was spitting on the hot metal, but Charles Dickens describes someone with a more genteel technique in The Old Curiosity Shop. She held “the iron at an alarmingly short distance from her cheek, to test its temperature…”

In the housework of the heart, everything is done by fire. In this diligence,  you need emotional back-up for an effective system, you need to “keep clean,” and you need to stay polished. You can’t just think of the thing that you’re working on, you have to also take care of your tools–“constant care.” I have definitely been neglecting my metal, sticking to the fabric, leaving my mark.  I’m not just rumpling the underside of my focus but scorching the cloth. Not minding my own beeswax. There’s no way to ultimately do this heavy laundering without first taking care of my sorrow–my sad iron.  And then, after holding my sadness at an alarmingly short distance from my cheek, I can test its temperature to make sure I am working with the right heat, the right heaviness–not too much so as to burn or wrankle, but just enough to get the job done and come out smooth, one day, once more. sadiron.

Love to all,

not-so-silent e




I am delighting in the cold of this morning

the way my nose lights up

a sudden rush of blood

the way my 5 year-old’s wild eyes

match the clear, blue sky

or the sea

just over those mountains there


As winter starts his slow creep across the land

I wonder if a thaw is coming to me

a deliquescense of heart

I can hear the loud groans of ice

breaking from their glacial home

“Let go! Let go!” they cry

as they slip down in violent shards

and are swallowed up whole


we come from the oceans

the oceans come from ice

everything is made of melt

let go. let go.


Ice falling, Moreno Glacier, NP los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, South America

Ice falling, Moreno Glacier, NP los Glaciares,
Patagonia, Argentina, South America