Posted - 01/17/2012 06:27pm
24 Comments | Add Comment


January, 2012


Last night I dreamed -- blessed illusion --

that I had a beehive here

in my heart

and that

the golden bees were making

white combs and sweet honey

from my old failures.


Antonio Machado, Poet

(translated by Robert Bly)



The place where destiny intersects faded dreams, at the corner of faith, hope and love is where I cease the locomotion juxtaposed with my shallow breathing to become "a hole in a flute that the Christ's breath moves through," as intoned by 14th-century Persian poet, Hafiz.  If I still smoked I'd surely reach for a cigarette right then and there to hush my senses.  After the yearslong amble from fallen expectations to rising dreams, I finally made it to the finish line where all paths converge at the crossroads of origin, desirous of starting over again.  Blessed illusion.



Thank God for life's endless supply of chances -- *consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin -- offered up like Antonio Machado's golden bees primed to create a beehive for "making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures."  I'm in my Sunday best now talking to Him praying for the next train to somewhere else, all the while asking His help in burying old failures.  I want that second chance.  I can see clearly now....



Let go, let God.  Isn't that what we say when we lose our way, or the way isn't the way we thought it would turn out when we started the journey?  Years ago I heard someone say "there are no atheists in foxholes."  Amen, brother.



Who likes to talk about failures?  Exposing one's ghosts doesn't make for elevating conversation, dear.  And yet, the storyline imagined umpteen Harvest moons ago fashioned to anticipate a stellar outcome, is, an artifact worthy of exploration.  Revisiting the storyline to harvest from it rich learning is like discovering the jewel in the crown in a life's journey.  You can't make sweet honey from faded dreams, otherwise. 



The alternative is to keep carrying images of missed fortunes and relationship misadventures, like heavy satchels packed with gold that we can't let go.  When we don't revisit old failures and faded dreams that we keep hidden and stashed away in the closet of our intimate space, the crossroads of origin appear like a mirage in the desert, instead of a destination within reach.



Again I turn to my muse and the words of Celtic poet, John O'Donahue who knew, quite brilliantly, how to pierce through the heart of darkness:




We are uncomfortable in looking back on our old failures.

Yet failure is often the place where suffering has left the most precious gifts....


Failure is the place where destiny swings against our intentions.

What you wanted and worked for never came. 

Your energy and effort were not enough.

Failure also happens in the inner world, the times when your

own smallness and limitation ruined things;

you reached deep into yourself for something kind or creative and

caught only smallness....


Failure is then often the place where you suffered unintentionally.

Reflection on our failures brings home to us the hidden secrets of our nature.

Failure is the place where longing is unexpectedly thwarted. 

This often brings interesting discovery and reintegration.




Listen, do you want to know a secret?  It is this:  when you make sweet honey from faded dreams you get to lighten your load.  How else to reconcile the "one that got away," or fame that never rose to the occasion, let alone the Camelot one didn't live in, replete with a moat to have saved one from the long day's journey into the night?  As for me I was busy building castles in the air, don't you know?




....Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You'll find your fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So when you hear it thunder
Don't run under a tree.
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me.


music:  Arthur Johnston

lyrics:  Johnny Burke

Oh, if I had only known, would I have chosen to venture out quite the distance I did?  Venturing out leads to the puzzlement that is the labyrinthian maze, only to find one ending up in the what went wrong department of the shopping mall we inhabit, as we dart in and out of a bewildering array of choices of all that glitters, that isn't really gold. 



Have you noticed how often in real life instead of reel life, we end up deciding it was the other one who was to blame?  We come out on the side of chalking it up to bad luck, or calling it irreconcilable differences, when we don't offer up a penetrating gaze in the mirror to view ourselves as who we really are.  The buck stops here, right here, right now, with me.  With you.  Collect yourself, man. 



Do we ever stop to reconstruct the home we live in, the one that houses our spirit and soul, to clear the rubble for becoming "a hole in the flute that the Christ's breath moves through?"  We deconstruct and reconstruct our physical spaces to feel new again, yet when it comes to our individual life journeys we get to deconstruction, only to leave the rubble behind.  Let someone else pick it up and make something of it.  It wasn't my fault.  I am not to blame.  Your fault.  Your catch.



What if I assembled all the fault lines along my long day's journey into the night and lined them up like dominoes to deconstruct the pattern of my locomotion through life?  I bet I'd learn a thing or two about the "hidden secrets" of my nature, if I reflected on my failures.  I think I'd know the foundation I'd need to reconstruct the new way once I cleared the old away.  Now that, is surely making sweet honey from faded dreams.



Now here's a little something about Dominoes that I bet you didn't know from the history of Dominoes:


"Dominoes...are simple building blocks that can be assembled in innumerable ways to create a large variety of games, ranging from the simple to the complex, from games in which the gameplay is almost mechanical, to games that require great skill and strategy." 


Haven't I been playing Dominoes all my life?  Haven't you?  We know this game, you and I.



Last night I dreamed that I awoke refreshed at the crossroads of origin and that instead of a mirage in the desert, I had finally turned the corner to find a never before considered outlook to make an amazing discovery.  Everything old seemed new again.  The landscape was the same but I was seeing it with new eyes.  At this outlook I didn't forget the yearslong amble from fallen expectations.  I remembered each failure, each attempt to catch a falling star to make it mine, each hope pinned to my heart's desires and knew I stood taller for having fallen, yet risen again. 





What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from....


....We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time


T.S. Eliot




Deposit 25 cents in the Jukebox adjust the volume
and hear:

Billie Holiday -- Pennies From Heaven (1936)

Click below: 



*Luke 12, King James Bible


Add a Comment
Comment posted by Dr John Emery on 01/23/2012

Loved the piece and recognize that my failures have always led me to a more learned place with gratefulness to God for Divine direction and outcome.

Love, John

John Emery M.D., Emery Estate

Comment posted by deborah emery on 01/23/2012

Reading these thoughts takes you on a journey of thoughts about what was truly a failure or did you really want it anyway...beginnings, endings and dreams, and learning as you go.  What is failure anyway?  Maybe an opportunity to see clearly what wasn't wanted or meant to be...another lesson along the diverse road we all travel in the unknown ahead.

Look forward to the retreat on February 04!

Deborah Emery

Comment posted by Nedra Peterson on 01/24/2012

Love the theme and the writings....I will continue to monitor your website for inspiration.  It's a new dawn and a new day with the makings of a better year.

All the best to you,

Nedra Peterson

Comment posted by Marsha Nunley on 01/24/2012

As I look back over my life, patterns of defeat seem to emerge that occur again and again.  Maybe it is time to turn these old patterns into "sweet honey."   Looking forward to the retreat.

Marsha Nunley, M.D.


Comment posted by Kim Pauley on 01/25/2012

Healing words helping me analyze and reconcile!  We are born imperfect beings....we learn as we go. Beautifully written....

Kim Pauley

Comment posted by Linda Viviani on 01/31/2012

Returning from paradise, I find myself in a tug of heart, desire to return to the land of the water and magnificent mountains to the land of sweet wine.  It is time to take back my own life. 

Linda Viviani

Comment posted by Jennifer Sanders on 01/31/2012

I loved the piece and the wisdom; although many instances/ outcomes may appear as failures or ends, it is all in your perspective.  As others commented, maybe the outcome was what was meant to be -- sending you in a new direction and towards a new opportunity.  I also think "failures" (not getting what we wanted) help us appreciate what we do have/accomplish and build character -- so there is "honey" in them.

Jen Sanders


Comment posted by Barbara Walkowski on 01/31/2012

Beautiful words and music... Yes, I really do think it's true that challenging times do more to develop us as humans, not just because of the work we do to deal with them, but more importantly because of the relationships we develop while doing that.

Funny how this has been in my subconscious... I wrote the sentence above in an e-mail to a family friend a few weeks ago.  He's been dealing with some difficult decisions over the past year and we've both been struck by how his confiding in me about those challenges has been truly transformative.  It's when we share our difficulties and failures with others that our relationships become deeper.

Anya, this is the beauty of the community you create at your retreats. I look forward to entering that special space with all of you this weekend.


Barbara Walkowski

Comment posted by Michael Crain on 02/01/2012

Anya reminds us that we should not see valuable experience that didn't happen to go as planned, as failing.  These "failings" are important experiences from which we learn a great deal.  We only "fail" when we don't carefully examine the lesson each time something happens.  It is far easier to indulge in self-criticism than to challenge ourselves to search for and find the profound lessons (sweet honey?).

Michael Crain

Comment posted by susan j rauch on 02/01/2012

If you view something as a failure however you learn and grow from the experience, is it really a failure?  I don't think so, because it makes you the person you are today.  Looking so forward to the event and meeting everyone.

Susan J. Rauch

Comment posted by Amy grossman on 02/01/2012


Your theme for the retreat is very thoughtful and challenging, yet uplifting as well.  I look forward to sharing the experience with you and the other wonderful women.  I like the song you chose.  I never really paid attention to the meaning of the words before....

Regrets, I've had a few But then again, too few to mention I did what I had to do And saw it through without exception... Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew When I bit off more than I could chew But through it all when there was doubt I ate it up and spit it out I faced it all and I stood tall And did it my way....

Music and lyrics by Paul Anka


Amy Grossman

Comment posted by jean arnold sessions on 02/02/2012

"Failure" is such a tough word to utter especially when it is true.  I have found my ego has much difficulty in allowing me to voice my deeper fears.  Yes the failures are there and to reflect while reading this beautiful writing is comforting.  Sweet honey from my old failures . . .brings me to my knees with gratitude in learning from these life experiences.

Thank you Anya for the beautiful words and in opening this space both now and in our retreat together. I look so forward to Saturday.

Jean Arnold Sessions

Comment posted by Terry Corbin on 02/03/2012

Hi Anya,

Your thoughtful words always set us off on a walkabout with spirit.  I look forward to connecting with all of you tomorrow and exploring what treasures, discoveries and opportunities our road blocks, belly flops and other "failures" have brought into our lives.

See you tomorrow.

Terry Corbin

Comment posted by Marga on 02/03/2012

I've read your comment many times in the last weeks.  I wish I could be at your retreat this weekend, it sounds marvelous.

Thanks you for your courage to look again and again and see for the first time.

Marga Friberg

Comment posted by Barbara Walkowski on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


Yes, the day was truly magic, wasn't it?

I was there at the Oscar party three years ago when Anya conceived of the writing studio that she so eloquently named "The Sultans of Soul," and I was a giddy accomplice willing to provide a space for Anya to work her magic.  And I sit here today truly in awe, having witnessed the creation of something so intimate, so organic, so authentic, that also reflects such beautiful flow and forward motion and, yes, power.  The experience is larger than all of us, as we all impact so many others with the changed perspective we bring to our daily lives.

I am struggling to find an analogy for something that comes together with such grace and beauty and inspires both individual depth and sense of community, then turns us all back into the world until we meet again in the next season, at the next retreat - or not, if life doesn't take us back there - but either way we share a special connection.

Anyway, in the meantime, I'll call it magic!  Thank you all for being your beautiful selves, whether this is your first experience or your 10th.  I feel truly blessed to be able to be a part of this and to share it with my dear friends.  Holding all of you close in my heart.

xoxo Barbara

Comment posted by Michael Crain on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retread Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley at the Emery Estate.)


Greetings to all,

My heart was and remains sincerely touched by the sharing and kindness of each one of you.  I am deeply honored to have been a part of such a special group.  To John and Deborah, our thoughtful host and hostess, I say thank you from my heart.  To my sweetheart Anya, your magic reigns supreme.  I don’t know how you do what you do, but we are all blessed for your gifts, which you so graciously share with us all.  I am looking forward to our group spending more time, all of us together, in future gatherings.

Warmest wishes,


Comment posted by Amy Grossman on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retread Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley at the Emery Estate.)


Thank you all for sharing your experiences and for the empathy, compassion and wisdom you showed us. It was truly a transformational day and I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.  I hope to see you again soon.

Warm regards,


Comment posted by Terry Corbin on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


It was so lovely to spend time with all of you.  I am always awestruck by the depths of the human spirit – and grateful for the courageous, gracious way everyone shared of themselves.  I hope everyone is walking lighter since our coming together.  I carry each of you in my heart.


Comment posted by Linda Viviani on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


Thank you all for the awakening....I hope we can always connect in this life because we shared some very sacred thoughts together....

Thank you all for your stillness while we walked through our dark hours of life.  Now it is time to shine.

Thank you for such a lovely memory, which we will all cherish, of this magical connection, which will be forever for all.

You are so beautiful...Thank you, Anya.


Comment posted by Susan J. Rauch on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


There are no words to describe the value of what we shared this weekend.  We are so fortunate to have the insight to want to make our lives enriched.  As well as the gift of Anya to guide us, the generosity of Deborah and John to share their piece if paradise and the love and support of everyone that attended.  I look forward to sharing time in the future.


Comment posted by Dr. John Emery on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


Another special Anya day, many thanks and much love to all there both physically and in spirit.... 

Anya, beautifully (as always) written and a deep inspiration for all of your devoted followers.  A special LOVE thought and prayer goes out from me to Jean who could not be with us during our day together.

Love to all,


Comment posted by Dr. Marsha Nunley on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


Thanks to all for a lovely soulful day.   I am honored and humbled by your stories and will carry a special love and sacredness in my heart. 

Anya, thanks for a lovely, insightful day.  Thanks so much for everything.

Marsha Nunley MD

Comment posted by Deborah Emery on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


Lots of loved shared yesterday and our home still holds the joy.  I so enjoyed meeting all of the new people who came to inspire their journeys and give openly...and as Anya says it,  takes courage, I know this, and to the others who I know, to see where you are now is so inspiring....

Thank you again Anya for being our guide and teacher as only you could do so well....

xo Deborah

Comment posted by Jen Sanders on 02/07/2012

(Participant comments post-Retreat Day and Writing Workshop "Sweet Honey From Faded Dreams" held February 04, 2012 in Sonoma Valley, California at the Emery Estate.)


I echo all of the comments above.  Lots shared and it took a lot of strength and courage, and everyone's responses, openness and support were also amazing.  I learned and was reminded of a lot of tools, perspectives, habits and energies to either be aware of in myself and others and/or use going forward.

Living openly, authentically and with integrity, and trusting the world and others will support these, big ones. Thank you Anya for leading us, Deborah and John for hosting, and everyone for creating this very valuable experience.

Life is good, and we need to remember that (even when hitting some potholes along the way)....

Hope to see you all again,