Carolyn Chilton Casas is an Usui/Holy Fire® Reiki Master practitioner and teacher with a
background in metaphysics and a great interest in fostering spiritual connection through mindfulness. In her meditation practice, as she explores how to live with impermanence, poetry is a natural extension.
After raising two children while running a produce business with her husband, she only started writing in her fifties, prompted by a community college life stories class. Carolyn’s spark to write and her spark to help others live more comfortably through energy healing serendipitously struck at the same time. She enthusiastically devotes herself to these two practices, believing one inspires the other.
The themes of daily life are what most interest her—family, connection with nature, evolving beliefs, impermanence, and ways to heal. In her first collection of poetry, Carolyn writes about the alchemy of being alive. She believes we all encounter both joyful and difficult times, but by looking for the silver lining in a hardship, we can reshape the story we tell about these experiences.
Carolyn’s younger years were spent in a rural setting on a dairy farm in a Minnesota. She speaks to that idyllic childhood in her poetry. Other poems point to experiences of being a mother or are narratives on places traveled with her family. For her, nature, and her relationship with it, is sacred—the plants, trees, deer, rabbits, squirrels, whales, elephant seals, the much-loved ocean, and hills where she lives in California.
In the last section of the book, Carolyn reflects on the first months of the 2020 pandemic and what the possible gifts of this time might be. Never having used social media platforms, she began posting short photo poems with what she hoped would be positive messages when we were asked to start sheltering at home.
Her stories and poems have appeared in Braided Way, Energy, A Network for Grateful Living, Journey of the Heart, Odyssey, Reiki News Magazine, ROC Metaphysical, The Art of Healing, Touch, and in other publications. Videos made from poetry:
The squirrels have not yet found
the figs. They stole every single apricot
on the newly planted tree in days,
even though the roots are fortressed
to keep gophers out, the branches
fenced to protect deer from foraging.
Then the hellions pilfered half the plums;
I’d see them scurrying up the trunk,
running down with purple,
ripe ones in their overstretched mouths.
When they had eaten all the orchard’s
harvest (the figs were not yet ripe)
the squirrels made do with
their last resort – the orange tree near the house.
I laughed to see one push a globe
up the hill toward her underground den,
maneuvering it with nose and neck,
only to have the sphere roll back down,
her darting after it, to start all over again –
a modern-day furry Sisyphus.
Mostly I have given up and buy my fruit
at the farm stand around the corner.
But figs are my favorite;
I’ve rescued five ripe ones so far.
Maybe the squirrels missed them,
don’t like the taste, or they feel remorse.
Returning up the road from a walk, I spy
a squirrel scout peeking down the driveway;
our eyes meet, then he takes off,
sprinting full speed to warn his brethren,
Here she comes, down the holes!
Life gives me a morning
after having slumbered
like an angel
in a cocoon of cotton blankets
and flannel sheets,
seated cross-legged, lotus pose
on the bedroom floor,
with a hot cup of coffee,
whipped cashew milk
and cinnamon stirred in,
looking out the open door
to wide-spread vulture wings
circling the heavens,
riding their enraptured
roller coaster in the sky.
Glancing down, I see
a glittering snail track, dotted
like the path on a treasure map,
fallen leaves on the patio.
And I feel happy
for the coming day,
Life is like that. Sometimes
it gives you exactly what
you want and need.
My daughter wants me to use
the word gumption in a poem.
Do you know what it means?
she asks. Courage is my first
assumption. The dictionary
adds resourcefulness, guts,
spirited initiative, spunk.
A much-needed trait
these days. With
gumption we can
get through this crazy
time. Having gumption
is key to living our happiest
lives in spite of all that is happening
in our world. It’s a great word, possibly
one I’ve never thought to use before. But
now, gumption might become my new mantra.
Gump-tion. . . . .gump-tion. . . . .gump-tiooonnn.
WHAT WE WANT
We want to be seen,
to be known,
to be valued,
to be loved—
for our visible beauty,
our hidden inner selves,
and even what some may call flaws.
We want to be accepted,
to be cherished.
We want connection
with each other,
with Mother Earth,
with whoever we call God.
We want to live in peace,
in radiant health,
the sun’s loving rays wrapped
around us like a hand-knit shawl
against the cold.
We want to create something
from the depths of our soul.
We want to be valued,
to be loved,
to be seen,
to be known.