We stopped often in Lisbon, Maine on trips back and forth from Lewiston, Maine where two of our children went to school and the lovely old house a friend lent us in Damariscotta, Maine, our headquarters when we visited our kids in Maine.
An old friend had inherited “Old Yellow,” a wonderfully quirky sea captain’s house right on the Damariscotta River. Jim and our son (GHF webmaster) Ben spent part of one summer re-roofing “Old Yellow.” Their hard work earned us many happy stays in this house, savoring our children’s time in Maine.
On any visit, there was always a lot of back and forth between Lewiston and Damariscotta, but we liked the route. It helped us feel more connected to the geography of our kids’ world. Lisbon was usually our first stop leaving Lewiston.
Lisbon is the birthplace of Moxie, that Maine soft drink with the wonderful name and zippy, unique flavor. This meant we would stop in Lisbon not just for gas but to get some Moxie for the ride back to Damariscotta. I generally don’t drink soft drinks, so the Moxie was a treat. As I sipped my Moxie I would consider that marvelous quality, Moxie, and all its characteristics.
The dictionary describes Moxie as “courageous spirit and determination; perseverance.” Sometimes the definition for a word feels pitch perfect but not this time. To describe Moxie that way is like describing the great wall of China as a big stone wall.
Someone with Moxie acts courageously with sparkle, pizazz even swagger. They walk into a lion’s den whistling a cheery tune. They don’t ignore what is, but they don’t let it define them either. A silly example of Moxie came from my grandfather. He and his best friend were on a fishing expedition in which they were portaging a heavy canoe over many miles. They got hot so they took off their clothes and tucked them in the bow of the canoe. On encountering other hikers, they sailed on past the startled hikers as if naked was how everyone carried a big canoe. I liked that story. It’s a good image for Moxie.
One of the new Flower Essences this fall, Japanese Anemone encourages a causeless cheerfulness, and this is part of Moxie too. It’s not exactly gallows humor but maybe gallows adjacent. Moxie doesn’t have to involve a grand gesture. Small gestures bring miracles too, especially sassy Moxie filled ones that defy the norms.
I know a retired teacher who drank Moxie almost every day of his life. He spent 45 years teaching seventh and eighth graders, and when he retired he still had his sense of humor and love for his students. Was it all the Moxie he drank or was it his inner Moxie? Who knows, but to me he showed Moxie. When asking Jim ( another retired teacher with 38 years under his belt) who he thought had Moxie, he said Tom Brady. Fair enough. Sports does seem to be an arena where people show Moxie.
Now Lewiston is linked with a terrible tragedy and Lisbon linked to the final moments of a deeply troubled man. I wish for Maine and all of us dealing with tragedies and the challenges of these times a big dose of Moxie.
Why Moxie? As I think about Lewiston and Lisbon, the suffering of this community feels very real to me. The years our family visited Maine included many of the years when we were living with death threats from my mentally unstable brother. During those years, each moment of safety and normalcy felt precious to us. We lived with this black cloud that just wouldn’t go away, and it changed us.
My extended family didn’t weather the storm very well. The long years of threats and our differing approaches to these threats led to the complete break up of my family of origin. Even after my brother’s death from a drug overdose, the larger family remained divided. As a community, we collectively hadn’t been able to stay present to each other in our suffering. In the end I was disinherited and my immediate family of Jim, me and out children were permanently cut out of the fabric of our larger family.
Why was this? I don’t know. During the death threat years I learned that American culture generally doesn’t like a story of suffering that keeps on going. Did our situation get tiresome to relatives? I don’t know. Our culture also has a sneaky way of suggesting that those who suffer are responsible for their pain. We felt that attitude towards us. The culture also encourages people to believe we can push right past a tragedy and get back to good times as swiftly as the next news cycle. None of these ideas feel true to me or helpful. Sometimes suffering goes on and on regardless of our efforts to shift the situation. And when people play the blame game, it is deeply destructive. After my brother’s death, our fear ended but our suffering continued as we remained divided from those we loved. The recovery was complex. It’s been over twenty years, and I am in recovery still.
In thinking of what helped and who helped, I realized it was people with Moxie. Realizing this, I wish for the gift of Moxie for the Lewiston community. May it help them to contain each other in their suffering and grief. I remember the people willing to enter into our dark time and contain our family in our years of fear. I’m grateful they had the Moxie to come by our house and listen to us. They didn’t try to fix us or insist that it was no big deal to fear your brother would kill you and your kids. They sat in silence listening and then they said things like, “This must be incredibly sad and painful. I am so sorry you’re living with this.” This was tremendously meaningful to us.
The people with the Moxie to reach out and listen are deeply precious. Pain and suffering often brings some degree of withdrawal from the world. Suffering people need their energy for handling the pain and can’t always reach out the same way they did. As we found ourselves submerged in this fearful mess, I was grateful for the souls with Moxie that walked into the lion’s den of our family’s pain and invited us back into human community.
Our neighbors, Malcolm and Teddy, stayed with us in our pain. I recall a night when I flipped my lid over the need for police protection and constant vigilance. As I wailed on about my four year needing to know how to dial 911, Malcolm sat quietly at my side and contained me, unafraid of my emotions. Then there were Green Hope Farm friends who held me via email and staff goddess Lynn Tidman who listened to my struggles each and every week, willing to go over the same terrain again and again with me. I’m also deeply grateful to a family in town named Hardy. They had the Moxie to invite us to their family holiday dinners. They knew my family had cut us off, so they stepped in, making us feel as welcome as their Great Aunt Sis and her famous Lemon Cake. Theirs was an enormous crowd but another table was added to a string of tables to welcome us to their festive Thanksgiving feast. This was Moxie, and I am grateful for it.
Now, I hope for the greater Lewiston community, a whole heck of a lot of people with Moxie.
I asked the Angels and Elementals what Flower Essences they would suggest for bringing forward our Moxie. I believe we all have inner Moxie, and Flower Essences can help us let it flow. Below is their list of Flower Essence suggestions for encouraging Moxie. As I went to write down their suggestions, the Flowers got VERY CHATTY (I would even go so far as to say they showed their MOXIE). I left their sassy remarks as the description of each Flower Essence. Links to longer definitions are there too.
Don’t Worry- Bee Happy– “My name says it all. Stop listening to people who tell you it is not okay to be happy. Your happiness is an immense gift and lifts the heavy hearted.”
Radish– “I am sassy in a big way. I ignite that in you. Unapologetically.”
Yellow Mullein– “Yeah, you CAN do it. It’s not even a question. For goodness sake, get on your dancing shoes and get dancing.”
Borage– “No throwing in the towel with me at your side. I’ll keep you keeping on with confidence and and humor. I’ll spark bold gestures of love for yourself and everyone else. I’ll comfort you in dark times. I’ll help you find your sparkle again when things are tough.”
Blueberry– “I help you live true to yourself even if it means taking the road less travelled ( and yeah, it usually does mean that).”
Alex Mackenzie Rose– “Speaking of all things Scottish (and why are we doing that? Well, just look at my name), I help you embody your bravest self. Spritz with me, add a kilt and you are good to go.”
Rosa Mundi– “Yes, I know you are feeling bone tired of tragedies. I am with you in your pain. I’ll help you get back on the horse and keep going anyways. Believe it our not, this story turns out well.”
Pink Grootendorst Rose– “I am a life raft of love, the only real thing. Hop aboard.”
Trabadelo– “I am going to help you let go of personality patterns even when you don’t know what your lives will look like without them. I’ve got you! Let’s do it! It’s going to be okay.”
Harebell from Dog’s Bay– “The wind may blow 24/7, but I am going to ring my blue bell of determined joy anyways and help you do that too.”
Zinnia– “Okay, maybe like me you sometimes think, “The weather is horrid, I’ve been planted in a half inch of concrete and where’s the sunlight I was promised?” Like me, I know you can be your joy anyways and I remind you how.”
Pink Yarrow from the Cliffs of Moher– “What is more courageous and sassy than growing on a sheer 700 foot cliff buffeted by gale force winds in a spot that may crumble and fall into the sea at any moment? Yeah, I know your situation can feel like that too, so join me in persisting with MOXIE in spite of it all.”
Allamanda from Taiwan– “Give your personality’s Bummer man, he delivers monologues a rest and dive deep into your inner spirit. It sings another song.”
Golden Wings Rose– “I help airlift you out of the illusion of duality. This is the biggie that binds you to stuff that’s not real. Find freedom. Give up the idea that duality can be real in a matrix of oneness.”
Morning Glory– “This isn’t about managing things by not taking stuff seriously. You can honor grief and also welcome joy at the same time.”
Love It and Leave It– “I bring the happiness that comes when you let go of outcomes and rest in the unshakeable knowledge that all things of this world are momentary and passing. And why is this comforting? Because you are not of this world. You are spirit having a physical experience not a physical being having a spiritual experience.”
Segesta “I help you find your genuine self amidst cultural pressures (of which there are many) encouraging you to have no faith.”
Japanese Anemone– “Isn’t causeless cheerfulness the ultimate in Moxie?”
PS I am thinking of making this into a combination Flower Essence ( which of course I would call MOXIE). What you think of this idea? Let us know! Sending you all much love!