A Sign, A Magic Trick, A Song

by Maria Theresa Maggi on April 8, 2019


"The Magical Felt Laundry Ball," pastel life sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

“The Magical Felt Laundry Ball,” pastel life sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

Back when I started all the moving a few years ago, I got into the habit of tying up my yoga mat with a beautiful cotton plaid scarf a friend of mine brought me years ago from Cambodia. It may have been that it was hanging over the post of the mirror on my dresser and I just needed something to tie the mat with so it didn’t come unrolled in the moving truck, with the added benefit that I would know where the scarf was without having to go through boxes. Or maybe I started using it on trips to Portland to visit my son and daughter-in-law when I wanted to bring my mat with me and be sure not to forget it. However it started, my mat now sits in a large basket in my bedroom, and when I’m not using it, it’s rolled up and tied with this lovely scarf, that reminds me of the kindness of my friend and the help they gave the people they visited on their trip.

Now that I live at my house near the ocean, I have returned to doing my yoga and morning meditation at the foot of the bed. It’s one of the first things I do in the morning before breakfast. I untie the scarf from the rolled up mat and put it at the bottom of the bed. Romeo is sleeping farther up and Cotton has already gone into the living area to sleep on his cot until I come out of the bedroom to let him outside.

As I’ve written about before, the yoga mat is what I call my magic carpet, where insights come to me and where I watch the waves of my emotional roller coaster uncurl as I meditate. This particular morning I was feeling despondent, and disappointed to be feeling so. Yet I find when such feelings arrive, it’s best to identify them and accept them, even through reluctance to admit to them, because that’s the best chance I have of moving through them to release and transformation.

As I opened up to honesty, the word “forsaken” came to me as what I was feeling. Wasn’t it just weeks ago that the Tibetan Buddhist monks had been in Newport, that I had experienced such a wonderful glow of their healing energy and playfulness, complete with one younger monk, giving Cotton, who accompanied me, his own red thread blessed by the Dalai Lama, and who at the very end of the ceremony putting the remains of the sand mandala into the harbor, had walked by us in procession and showered Cotton with flower petals? Wasn’t it adorable how one petal stayed on the top of Cotton’s head, and sensing it was important, he carefully balanced it there nearly all the way back to my neighbor’s car?

Wasn’t it just days ago that I met a couple outside the grocery store who stopped us to say they had 5 Silken Windhounds, and when I mentioned Romeo, the woman clasped her hand to her mouth and teared up, because they had owned his son, Moto, who has passed away? Didn’t we strangers hug like the family we are? Didn’t I just see a poem of mine in print after a long time?

There are many things like this, magical things, that happen in my life. And yet this particular morning, they all felt dim and far away, as if they had happened to some other me, and it further disappointed me in myself that I couldn’t access that magic in any immediate way.

Sometimes when I’m in a difficult emotional place, I don’t stand on ceremony with my angels or guides or the universe or any powers that may be. Instead I just yell “help!” Sometimes I ask for a sign. And I try, despite that natural resistance to do so, to stay present with whatever the difficult emotion is, and wait for a transformation of it to emerge.

As I rolled up the mat after practice and knelt on the floor, reaching for the scarf thrown across the bed to tie it with, I said again that word “forsaken” to myself, trying to accept that’s how I felt. When I went to pull myself up with the hand on the bed, it hit something hard–and round–under the blanket.

“Whaat?” I asked myself, and felt around some more. Then I reached under the quilt and pulled out a felt ball, the same size as a tennis ball, the kind I use instead of fabric softener sheets to help with static cling in the dryer.

It was as if it suddenly appeared out from under the covers to keep me company so I wouldn’t feel quite so forsaken. A mute felt ball to keep me company in my dejection? The absurdity of the timing was so perfect I collapsed into genuine laughter.

The day before, even though I  hadn’t felt like doing it, I had washed this quilt and several other layers of bedding, but had missed fishing all the balls out of the folds, and only mildly wondered to myself where they went. The moment this one appeared, its pointedly absurd comment on my mood was like the sun breaking through a storm, or a bright scarf pulled out of a black top hat. I just couldn’t stop laughing. I tucked it into the pocket of my sweat shirt, and went to let Cotton out. I patted it in my pocket as I began to get ready to make my oatmeal and I chuckled some more.  The comedic timing could not have been more perfect.

I asked myself if I had ever written about signs before, feeling sheepish about whether to do so or not. Almost immediately I remembered I had, when telling the story of how I came to buy my house here at the coast. I’ve got to go find that post, I thought to myself, to seehow I did it before.  When I went to look for it, I also discovered a synchronicity: not only had I written about signs in that post, but I had also addressed my feeling of  initial sheepishness about whether or not to say I put my faith in them. But most synchronous was the fact that the post I went looking for also happens to be the very next post I will come to in my rereading of all my blog posts over the years from start to finish. That kind of synchronicity definitely felt like yet another a sign that magic was still afoot.

In that post, A Hummingbird and a Seagull Made Me Do It, I talked about how hummingbirds had acted as harbingers, leading the way to what was to become my new house, beginning with an afternoon when one flew into my little trailer by the sea while I was also in the process of reading a novel where they are a central metaphor. It’s easy to see a creature as lovely as a hummingbird as a sign. But a felt ball that takes the static cling out of my laundry? Was I forcing things?

Perhaps the felt ball appearing out of my quilt like a magic trick I didn’t know I could perform is less of a sign and more of a comment from a wiser part of myself than the one who felt “forsaken.” But a comment can be a sign, too. So can an experience, or even the memory of one, which reminds me of the following, which I  was prompted to write down after reading a blog post by my friend Gena at The Full Helping a few weeks ago:

“I was feeling rather cranky and sore and out of sorts and a bit entrenched in it all. But last night as I closed the shutters on a big window downstairs that faces west, I remembered that earlier i had walked by and saw a very delicate pattern of sun on the floor. It was so lovely that I thought at first it had substance, and then I saw it was light that had seeped through a partly closed and angled shutter, and dripped onto the floor in this startling pattern. As I closed the shutters for the night in my sore and crabby state, I remembered that moment when I touched the shutter itself, and I was reminded that moment was as real as all the sore and cranky, and suddenly it was all in balance again. It’s very important to give those good moments the equal weight they deserve, no matter how fleeting. To do so makes them less fleeting, more substantial.”

This morning as we started out on our walk, a song I hadn’t thought of in a long time came into my head: One More Time To Live.  I absolutely loved it when I was in high school. I would put the album on and lay on my back on the floor and sing along at the top of my lungs. It’s still as beautiful and relevant as ever, and seems to have some to me in the spirit of this post.

And finally, the magic trick of the felted laundry ball  also reminds of how I ended my post “Wrapping The World In Light,” which I just finished rereading:

“One last thing: I hope to be silly as often as it visits me. It used to mean to be ‘blessed,’ and in my opinion it still does.”

Yes, yes, indeed.

Maria (moonwatcher)


Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bee April 10, 2019 at 6:57 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but have never commented. It occurred to me this morning though that I really, really should. Because, over the years, your writing has helped me slow down. It’s helped remind me to pay attention. It nudges me, even though I resist, to keep track of moments. I’m deeply grateful to you. Thank you so much.


2 Maria Theresa Maggi April 10, 2019 at 8:56 am

Thank you so much for commenting, Bee! What you say here truly does mean the world to me. I will hold it close in my heart. xo


3 Donna April 10, 2019 at 1:43 pm

What a timely bit. Thank you for this encouragement to see the silly side of things and to cherish the wonder moments.


4 Maria Theresa Maggi April 11, 2019 at 8:41 am

It’s my pleasure, Donna! Thank you for appreciating the reminder!


5 Veronica April 15, 2019 at 9:30 am

I’ve been trying to sit with “negative” feelings lately, and it is hard! I’ve put aside rituals like meditation and yoga, even though I know they would help. But yesterday Mark and I went for a walk in the park at sunset, something we haven’t done in a long time (as the weather has been so rainy, and it’s been dark so early). We call it our “bunset” walk, as we usually see at least one bunny on the trail (and we go around sunset, when there are very few other people around, if any). When we started out, we saw a gaggle of turkeys, the boys all fluffed tails and not caring we were there… Then a small quiet deer by the little lake. Lots of little birds. Then Mark had a feeling to look behind us- and he saw a huge great horned owl swoop across the sky. I only caught a little bit of it. But we walked backwards a bit and he was on a tree- and then, just for good measure, took off and swept directly over our heads, not 15 feet above. It was magic.
On our return walk, we saw a couple bats, and then, when we thought we’d go without, the one bunny hopping back into the bushes.
This helped me feel like me again, and remember there is some good out there. Got me out of my grumpiness, even if for just a bit.


6 Maria Theresa Maggi April 15, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Thank you, Veronica, for narrating the magic of your sunset walk. It’s so important to make time for such experiences, to make room for them to help us through, even if we don’t feel like it at the start. I’m so glad it helped you feel like you again! much love


7 Gena April 23, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Dear friend,

What a beautiful exploration of those moments when joy and lightness feel far away. As someone who feels this way often—aware of all of the sweet and miraculous stuff around me, but cut off from it—I personally took deep comfort in your having the courage to talk about how important you feel it is to simply acknowledge the feelings and have faith in their release or transformation into something else. I remember “Wrapping the World in Light.” Your comment about silliness meant a lot to me then, and it does now; your blog has taught me so much about approaching life with humor and lightness. And light.

In other news, so glad a post of mine was in your mind as you were writing your way through things. So much love to you. One day, one surprise, at a time.



8 Maria Theresa Maggi April 24, 2019 at 7:53 am

Dear Gena, it means a lot to me that you took great comfort in this post. In some subtle yet significant way, it’s part of a larger conversation we continue to have through our blog posts, and how they resonate off each other at times. And then of course there’s our other conversations. Much love and light and silliness back to you, as we await the surprises of one day at a time. 🙂 xoxo


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