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Peggy’s Process

January 18, 2010 by Claudette
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clo's-phototClaudette Burton shares the process of patience in writing her first book, which begins with a dream.  Read how the signs emerge pointing her in the direction of Peggy, her main character and the children’s story that would inspire both young and old- “The Porcupine Who Would.” (Read an excerpt from her book at the end of this article.)

It all started with a dream…

Porcupine-who-wouldIt was 20 years ago and in the dream I have discovered a book wrapped in layers of silky, dragon embossed brocade cloth inside a box.  It felt very sacred. When I unwrapped it all the light in the room came from the book that shone.  I was enraptured with it and a voice said this was my book, I needed to write it, own it.

That night before going to sleep, I visualized my dream and dialogued with my inner voice thanking her for this profound dream. Yet I found the idea of writing a book overwhelming especially when I didn’t know what the topic was supposed to be.  At the time I was an occasional freelance research writer with 2 small children, reviving a heritage orchard, and establishing a woodworking business with my partner.  So I started watching my dreams more closely, asking for help to understand what I was to write about.

Sometime later I visited Yasodhara Ashram for the first time, drawn by a Dream Conference which included a Quantum physicist, a First Nations healer/shaman, and many other remarkable presenters all discussing how dreams worked from their cultural perspective. After several years of exhaustive advocating for the preservation of our wilderness corridors I returned to Yasodhara to take the Yoga Development Course (YDC), needing to  reconnect with my own inner Light of love and understanding.  It was here that I learned how to use my mind for my own creative and spiritual development rather than concentrating on ‘the other’ and social change.  Swami Radha spoke about how changing ourselves was more important than trying to change the world, turning my habituated Christian “do-gooder” upside down.

When I came home after the YDC, I scraped most of my environmental obligations off my personal plate, threw out all the old music records from the house to maintain my new mantra understandings, and set up a yoga practice space downstairs with the help of my family.  My commitment to my dreams, reflections and various other practices deepened and they gave me strength to set new personal boundaries, including dedicating more time to writing.  I made a commitment to collect my childhood family stories by taking a memoir course on-line and completing my degree through the BC Open University.

About four years later I was asked to go on a tour and do a promo piece for the Southern Columbia Mountains on the caribou’s migratory patterns across the 49th parallel. One of the featured lecturers talked with me privately afterwards and said, …”we need to write new story lines for our children that teach them ways to honor the land and its creatures.  You should write a story like that!”

A couple of years later my girlfriend asked me to go hiking with her up the Westfall River to investigate the caribou habitat.  She asked several times when I was going to get off my yoga mat/sabbatical and get involved in environmental campaigns again.  I said not until I could figure out how to do it with joy and then it dawned on me that writing a children’s book would do it!  She said, “what’s stopping you?”

porcupinesOver the years I had been asked to do this project by 3 different people, in 3 different ways.  It was time to take action. During this same trip we  had a porcupine cross our path on two separate occasions.  Now this might not seem like much but the month before I was approached by a biologist wanting to do his masters on porcupines but he couldn’t find any.  So I told him about the Westfall ones.  Then there was an email alert sent out by another group saying that porcupines were disappearing, asking what was happening?  I suddenly became aware that I needed to use a porcupine as my main character. But then what?  Sit, stay, write, trace the content of my mind. Sit, stay, write, listen to the whisperings of my intuition. Sit, stay and do more Light Invocations! Writing is 15% inspiration, 85% polishing. The story became me, I became the porcupine; my life experiences arose and formed the plot as I began to understand my own storyline better. I became more of a porcupine, socially isolated, prickly, denning up in the winter dream time writing about a dreaming porcupine.  Breathe, sit, stay with the Light, sing, dance, do what brings me joy. Wild animals appeared in my backyard- cougars, bears, coyotes, would cross my path getting more and more threatening until I figured out how they wanted to be in the story, and then they would disappear once I got it.  My sleeping dreams guided character development of the Spirit Beings that wanted to be in the book.

Then, after 3 years of polishing the story and myself, came the process of double checking content and sending the manuscript out to publishing houses.  This was hard as each submission required a lengthy waiting period, with hopes high, to see what they thought, and then my focus and energy would stall.  After 3 rejections (you can see I’ve got  this thing about 3x)  and a dashed self esteem lying around my feet, I decided enough of this process.  I needed to empower myself to do what I was supposed to do in service of my inner Divine, spend the money on myself irrespective of contrary conditioning.  Zip, and I was onto self publishing which flew into place very smoothly with the Divine even giving me a tax rebate that covered all my expenses. Sweet, thank you Laksmi!

Now I’m out of the denning/dreaming porcupine phase of the project and have moved into promoting this book, setting up readings and classes trying to get the word out about dreaming and the power they have to initiate creative projects! Thank Goddess for Swami Radha and the Buddhist teachers who have kept the Way open.

Reflections to inspire your creative muses: What are your sleeping dreams suggesting you do? What signs are lining up in your waking dream?

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Claudette published her first book,”The Porcupine Who Would”,  in 2009 which was featured in our Ashram bookstore.   It has become a popular seller and story with many of us here.  Congratulations Clo on a dream come true!

Om Tara


Excerpt from “The Porcupine Who Would”, written by Claudette Burton:

In the late afternoon dusk as the Chickadees and Kinglets were returning to roost for the night in their favorite evergreen trees, Peggy Porcupine awoke from a wonderful dream.  Often as she slept in her den deep in the branches of a Hemlock, the darkness of winter passed in a haze of jumbled visions, but this dream burned clear and bright.

Peggy had seen her mother in the dream. They had been snuggled close, deep in a stand of old-growth Hemlock where delicate ferns and moss carpeted the forest floor as they shared family stories and food.  As they exchanged news, long-lost friends and relatives kept arriving. They popped out of the very ground.  Other big animals were also there, all gathered together sharing their thoughts.  There were fuzzy images too of a rocky mountain pass, meadows full of flowers and a mysterious, glowing creature with two different heads and flowing long white hair.  But it was the brilliant white light shining everywhere and the excitement of being with her dear mom that woke Peggy up.  Once awake a sadness, and a longing to see her mother again took hold.

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As you know, his species the Mountain Caribou, are facing the Land of Memory.  When Corwin heard of Peggy’s quest, it was imperative for him to help her.  They worked together to bring you here.”  Rhiannon gestured to her companion.  “We are here to support your ideas on how to find interconnected corridors to travel across this vast country without being hit by trucks and trains or shot at by humans or starved by wastelands stripped naked of life.” A heartfelt murmur of agreement swelled up from the animals.
“Our part”, Rhiannon continued, “is to collect your ideas and carry them back to the humans through their dreams.  My friend will bundle them up in his magic sack”, here Raheem reached into a hidden pocket in his flowing rainbow garment and brought out the plain, brown bag with a flourish and bow,  “ and spread them like seeds where ever he goes.  He will do this for you.  He will carry the seeds of your ideas from this gathering away from here and sow them into the dreams of people.  They will sprout into stories and art forms.  Some will flourish and will remind people how we are connected to mother earth and how we must take care of each other for lasting happiness and”….and Rhiannon paused ..“and survival.   If this does not happen, then we will meet in the dream realm once again, and have to start over.”

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks Clo. I was as inspired to read this ‘story behind the story’ as I was to read your delightful and meaningful book. You are a great advocate for the wisdom of Swami Radha’s teachings and dreamwork.
    Much Light, Terri

    Comment by Terri — January 21, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

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