Tick Tock

In planning to move away in three months, I force myself to get rid of what I don’t need. 

Evidence of my gluttony surrounds me – all the crap I’ve accumulated because it seemed necessary for this little project or that. So impractical. All my perpetual dabbling instigates consumerism. (If you object to toxic capitalism, boycott.) It also prevents me from focusing on the creative endeavors I truly enjoy now. Here comes the weight of objects – telling me how I’ve disappointed myself, then the spiraling downward…

I am love, but broken love. No, wounded. I lost faith in myself for whatever reason, and it holds me back. When I doubt myself or feel in-the-wrong, instead of looking at my faults head-on and accepting them, I’ve been running out of steam. I injured my back, which slows me more.

Example: I used to create whimsical cookie and cake gifts for friends. Looking to bring brightness into their lives or showing off? When I ask myself that and see the negative second option of the question, I’m scolding – faulting – myself. Oh dear. I wasn’t perfect. I hold onto the past too long. Down I go.

Question: Do I feel proud when praised? Yes. Is that why I baked? Maybe a little, but my primary purpose wasn’t ego boosting. Okay? Okay???!

Checking further: Back to my many shelves of baking supplies (some of which are past their expiration date)…how often has Maggie mythologized the shock of seeing those cupboards for the first time? (I’m never sure if she’s mocking me or amazed at my dedication to meaningless details.) Oh oh. Going dark again.  

Remedy: Learn to stay cheerful when in shadow. Shake it off. Notice when I’m stuck, and stop sinking. Take a break. Breathe. 

Forced downsizing: Make room for open thoughts and open heart.

Reinforce: The intention is liberation. While this clearing work might feel odious, having it done will lighten my load. The promise of greater space/new adventures motivates me.

So I am clearing places inside me that prevent me from going forward. I’m giving away and tossing out oceans of items. At this point it doesn’t matter how I managed to stuff myself/my home so densely; what matters is no longer letting that reality anchor me in a woeful trap of grimy, putrid thoughts. I clear a spot. I wipe it down. Voila!

Challenging Practice

An ongoing challenge for me is to sit quietly with words from/actions by people I think are (often) unwittingly destroying life on Earth. Sounds dramatic, but IMHO some people’s disregard for decency, for kindness, baffles me straight into this sidewise griping.

But sit quietly I must. I try to imagine what they’re thinking, but see – what I imagine isn’t necessarily true. Each person alive has had his/her or some non-binary experiences in life similar to, but not the same as the experiences of anyone else. So I can ride a high horse, a la Putin, or I can work on purifying myself with a magnifying glass of honesty. 

Or, my thinking something doesn’t make it true, and just because someone pisses me off doesn’t mean I have to wrestle with them. Or, ruminating about another’s “wrong” behavior or speech won’t teach them to be more thoughtful or kind, and it sure won’t change the world. 

Yes, I am claiming a moral high ground. Either someone affirms life, or they react with horror to any/all perceived differences – running away from the reality that the world is chock full of differences. To be the former, the life-affirmer, I practice:

  1. Getting acquainted with outdoors, fresh air, nature. 
  2. Gratitude.
  3. Staying grounded as much as possible, by meditating daily.  
  4. Paying attention to what I say and do; recognizing non-alignment with my mission to  stay neutral and compassionate.
  5. Modeling my understanding of grace, often.

My friends would say, give yourself a break. I do. I do understand baby steps. 

Set an intention to model kindness.

Try to remember to self-monitor.

Develop a framework of disciplines.

Surrender to the flow.

Manifest connection to the universe.

In this way, I will serve the paradigm shift. Sometimes, I can’t/won’t be able to refrain from speaking up/asking questions when bumping into those with zombie-like behaviors. Since I don’t believe they deeply enjoy the death trap they’ve chosen, I will do my best to respond instead of reacting. Yes, this is hard work.

Vision Board

Discouragement slips with stealth into the mind. How do we prevent apprehensions and other nightmares from entering? Practice presence. Have that sensation of Presence memorized, to act as a shield when needed. 

Do not let the little sneak attack you. You feel it? Look your saboteur straight in the eye and then release, without rancor. 

Continue creating your haven, the peace you’re trying to cultivate in the form of home. Simple, warm, spacious.

Boundaries: A New Way of Seeing

I had to light a fire under my butt to initiate a fresh look at the mess on my dining room table. I achieved this level of motivation by deciding to sell Oaklandia, my home. Moving to an apartment or loft will force me to simplify for real. It will make space for my life work. Whatever (as yet coalesced vision) I put my Self into and give from the heart will be helpful once I understand it better, so first I need space to examine what’s truly here. If I didn’t have a specific reason to “get rid of the junk,” as principal Almagno used to say, I would happily live in squalor.  I have a high tolerance for it, as exemplified by the state of my home now.

Cleaning, clearing my home, my soul…hating the feeling of waste that’s piled up, which recalls the greedy, nervous me…spiraling down I go. Why did I take what I didn’t need? Every bit of the saved bits must be useful somewhere, somehow, I think. I thought. Today though, that fancy gold top separated from its lower half (the tin that’s gone off now to contain a set of markers) has gone to the recycle bin. With a boundary established now, telling me what might be handy and what shouldn’t be obtained or retained, I can invite in essentials (only) and let the dusty crap go. 

Remember strength and flexibility. Release negativity.

Above all, set stronger intentions, I tell myself. I remind myself that setting boundaries banishes carelessness. I notice what serves and insist that the rest neither charm their way into nor remain inside my home.

As my friend Beth noted, making space by sitting in meditation leaves room for potentially beneficial…whatever…that needs to come in. I think it’s working. As I create inner space, I want that reflected in my environment, and vice versa.

While there’s so much more to do, I can only eat this elephant a few bites at a time. Every day, I spend some time on this endeavor, and then I release the effort until tomorrow.

I am motivated and determined to lovingly simplify my life, and that’s what’s new.

The Tasks Ahead

These two parts of me are going to work together.

Plenty of chores could use attention inside my home, inside my soul – the truth of which arrested me for the winter – while other pining projects occupy my yard, in the outside world. Have been resisting laboring to take care of this outer estate (even though the weather has been easy), fearing how it would tax my old body.

Today I saw that the yard undeniably requires stewardship. I could pay someone to maintain it, or I can let the needs of my surroundings nudge me into action. This old body needs to move more than it does anyway. 

Shattering Spring

In a class I’m taking now, The Yoga of Intuition and Creativity, Philip Goldberg invites us to take the time to meditate daily…and observe the results. I have experienced this and still I run from the potential for more space, fewer defenses. As if being in a good place is an undeserved treat, or some kind of threat. I can’t with all the running anymore.

Here’s what I keep forgetting: In that relaxed state – induced by a serious meditation practice – the idea, I’ve gathered, is to honestly look within and pick out the debris. Clear.  Painlessly release any resistance to coming back to life. From a place of purity, of communion, make a wish. Blow out the candle. Break through and illuminate. This clarity – a vision of unity – fosters patience, which makes life a bit easier all around. Less struggling when maintaining a regular practice. Clear eyed, realistic, and loving. 

Am still battling myself to STOP every morning (heavens knows what I’m doing that’s so important) and instead sit for longer than my usual spotty, eclectic sessions. My resistance makes no sense, because in general the sitting brings me better energy, or more positivity. I believe in the vision of unity that has been gifted to me. And there’s the time stretching thing too, reflecting a universal rhythm. Everything flows with optimal success. Not with efficiency always, but the failures carry good lessons. So. 

Agreed. Living in the moment is a beautiful place to be.  As my teacher Indu says, “Why would you want to be anywhere else?”

In that place, intuition and creativity thrive. So sit. Breathe. Time to tune in. 

Deeper Cleaning

After creating altars everywhere, I let them collect dust. This has to end.

Soot piling high tells me I’ve neglected to care for myself as a beloved being. Human. Floundering or sinking, I submit to distractions as a way to avoid labor. I know I can do better.

After identifying the problem, my task is to continue clearing, forgiving myself for real, devoting my attention to movement of body and movement of stale stuff.

Full moon boosts my resolve.

Started in my sanctuary, vacuum hosing into tight spots and under furniture. Wishing for freshness when I step in, and praying I reflect springtime, exude infectious joy. To this, I surrender.  

Next I clobbered the previously-avoided spots in my bedroom (which I had recently boasted was a cleared area of my home), and as I squatted down to dig into corners, there I saw three items perched together: an abandoned smoke detector, a lovely wooden box full of old, delicately patterned gauze-thin napkins from Japan, and a cardboard box containing Husky plastic trash bags. Can you guess why they were in my bedroom? Me neither. 

I laughed, “Who says the universe isn’t filled with signs for us?” The absurdity!

Happy to report that the three items have been removed from my bedroom, reassigned.

Progress

(my continued adventures in homemaking)

For a moment, wiping off the kitchen ceiling fan, I was alone, present in the experience of cleaning, fully absorbed in the double task of clearing my space and clearing my mind. Yoga. Union. 

I might’ve ridden the momentum and continued on to another needy spot – for example the dining room ceiling fan – but instead I sat down to look at a screen. I was in the flow, feeling fine, until ancient history came to haunt me. When I live in my body, I move at a pace that works, but when I notice I’m happy I either freeze up or collapse. Ubiquitous analysis ensued. Was I stalling, trying to find a way to stash the experience away for later use instead of diving back into the flow? Was I worn out? Was I running away from work? Why? Would that added little bit of labor be so hard? 

Silly fears. Disappointment. Mental acrobatics. 

I watched myself in a depressed state, barely willing to move my body…and then understood why it’s so creaky. I was in my head, ruminating about my faltering instead of living and enjoying every moment I’m alive. Because honestly, wiping dust off the fan wasn’t terribly taxing, and I’d actually enjoyed both the activity and the results. 

Timidity, hiding inside of shame? There. There it is. 

Here’s an alternative: Sit for a few moments and breathe. Catch and release. Then move along. The only one judging is me. Breathe. Release some more. Grab the ladder and dust cloth.

I’m listening, not dead. Not clutching, open. 

On earth again, ready to dance.

Right Tool for the Right Job

Found a half-inch hair growing out of my chin. Heh heh. I mean, I figured I was a witch, but now I sense the truth of it.

Today, birds chaperone a spring-feeling afternoon in sun warmer than it’s been for a while. 

Swept the back stairs, finally. I say “finally” because I must’ve looked on their cringe-provoking state in disgust at least five times before remedying the situation. Some messes honestly don’t cross my radar, but when one does, and I keep ignoring it…

Okay. Going to poke the wound. What goes through my head when I see dust piled high in the corners and choose to walk away from it? I think that’s worth investigating.

For now though, am reporting that using a broom  – instead of using a vacuum or mop – felt like casting off unwelcome spirits. And then came the pleasure of walking on clear steps. 

Prayer

With prayer, is there any order? Any preferable way? What if I pray for someone and my “help her/him to find comfort and ease” isn’t what s/he wants or needs at the time? When does concern turn into control? 

I try to keep prayer intentions generic, but need to add “for [object of prayer’s] best and highest good” to avoid messing with a person’s trajectory. Here’s where I can get stuck. What trajectory? The path of the person’s next footfalls. When would I have permission to intercede? When should I express anything kind and potentially helpful? Never.

Sigh. This equanimity practice will be tougher than anticipated, but it’s what I need to focus on now: I am not the keeper of all knowledge. Functioning day to day, fueled by years of practice, I can refrain from choosing sides, except for social justice causes. (There is a greater good. Choose that good or don’t choose it, but keep in mind there are consequences for giving up on love.)

Even when we want to help someone we care about, we have to realize that person has to move through stages to wholeness in their own way. With this in mind, I’m stepping away from the belief that I know what’s best for people and am instead simply sending love, with no words, for support. Energy prayer. Because really, who knows the unknowable? I can make educated guesses, but I’m still only pretending to know the Truth. Experience can yield some understanding but not omniscience. 

I need to step away, and observe the world around me – observing for the sake of seeing more, seeing better.

I asked Isa about praying once, and she advised thinking about it as leaving a bottle of milk at someone’s door, without attachment to outcome. Will s/he bring it inside the home? Not my business from this point on. Following instincts, I prepared and delivered pure milk as a gesture of my love for the universe, keeping in mind that I am here to serve, not to judge.

Full Moon in Virgo with Raindrops

How easy to forget what magic surrounds us. Light shines, sometimes hiding behind darkness, sometimes sparkling beneath blurred vision, sometimes dazzling outright.

The twins, darkness and light, have work to do. Let them do it. Sit with uncertainty and legacies of pain; cherish warmth and brightness, inside and out. 

Remember who you are. You are that. Summon patience. Sink into earth, soaking up rain.

Time for Loving Kindness

I’ve heard that as we choose love over fear, the possibility of peace increases exponentially. I believe that as we work together our universe provides enough for everyone, and I sense that shifting humans into easeful co-operators begins with individuals. We are not so far gone that we cannot crack the code, but this cracking takes time, diligence, and patience. 

My personal progress creeps along. Just this morning I noticed: when a woman has a quality I dream about possessing, knee-jerk competitive mode creeps in through my ego.

I feel myself toss a sliver of spite toward a good communicator, an artist, a bold sharer, the one who regularly accomplishes goals and receives compliments…And I can see why that in the presence of a strong woman, I sometimes imagine I will either have to show off quick to stay in the game, or I must abstain from all efforts, recognizing that I could never achieve her skill level. My petty jealousy ruptures into instability, or panic maybe. 

Wow. Fight or flight!

One time at a meeting I growled to a colleague that a certain man was “mine.” The truth of that situation? No way was I prepared to flirt with his rough masculinity (yeow!), but I hissed her off, knowing she could easily have pounced on him, with her wild, enviable heat. 

What was that about?

Here’s what I know now. We are no longer cave people, scrabbling to dominate and survive. We’re here together, learning and growing at various paces. Each of us co-creates reality, along with the trees, the moisture in air, worms in the earth, newborn babies, glaciers, music…I remind myself again and again, there is enough for all of us. 

So when I stumble, universal truth props me up and walks me home. 

My prayer: May I practice appreciation. May I delight in the successes of others. May I love unconditionally, beginning with myself and radiating beyond. 

So Long, Pandemic Funk

If I cook a dish and it doesn’t wow me, down I go into the “I’m incompetent” suck hole, squishing myself low and believing I’ll never do better even though I certainly have concocted crazy good grub. There’s evidence. So why doubt?

When I cook with my mind in the future tense (imagining perfection) instead of in the present, the food will ultimately turn out unsatisfying. How do I keep forgetting this? Good question.

I’ve never been terribly disciplined, but in early 2021 getting grounded through a practice of some kind is paramount to sanity. These days test us. The masks are hard. Not touching is hard. Now, eyes have become uniquely important. This is how we can be close. We’re learning to change our perceptions. So while living in a pandemic is challenging, it’s also teaching us to pay a new kind of attention to ourselves and to each other, which isn’t so bad. 

Here’s where intention comes in, because each time I fall off my practice I forget who I am and what I already know. Presumably each of us has ways to come back to authenticity, to presence, but it’s the mat and cushion for me. Pretty simple, really.

Then I’m going to eat whatever I made and be grateful to have food on my table, glad I got up off of my nest to prepare it.

Swami Stop Swimming

Feeling the need to hug my peeps. That Covid!!!

Took dog Beanie to Rhode Island Historical Cemetery, Cranston, 61. A crow called overhead. Tiny, uniform headstones had only numbers carved into them, so naturally I explored. 

A Potters’ Field? Prisoners? I wondered. Then some flat markers appeared in the faded grass, indicating remains of ones who’d died a hundred or more years ago in the state infirmary, asylum, or almshouse, alone and unloved until recently (or so the newness of the stones indicated). 

A river flows alongside the plots. 

We walked on a path flanking the water, some parts sunshiny and others murky, as if unsavory acts haunt the woods. We turned around.

Driving home I felt alive, free. 

Whatever dark places my mind goes, I am not, at the moment anyway, dying unloved in a state institution. I care about my tribe, in my own messy way, and they connect with me like I matter to them. I try to be compassionate with everyone else. Somehow I find myself living with relative ease, and am grateful for the absurd minutia of this time around. It’s been rough and tumble for all of us, but many of us are learning patience and flexibility, adaptation.

When currents rush against my flailing self, I want to change my perspective. How? Let go into the bliss of life, and be led to safety. 

Emotional Hygiene

another altar

I swear this is the last time – or I hope it’ll be the last time – I fixate on housework. But
I’m investigating self-discipline, looking for a more sharpened focus in the hopes of clearing my mess(es) for good(ish).

Looking around my living room, I spy an explosion of god-only-knows-what littering most surfaces: coffee table, day bed and day stand. I’m in the middle of this and that and this and that because so many worlds exist simultaneously, and most of them seem worthy of a few moments, at least, of my attention. A couple of flash drives. Mailer for a newish Asian food spot (in Garden City). Crochet patterns. A well-used cloth napkin. Lip gloss. Empty, used mailing tubes (but they’re so pretty!). A commemorative jigsaw puzzle from Shri Yoga. 

Then I hear “Well we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun…Everyone…Better recognize your brother’s everyone you meet.” – Instant Karma

Behold, a stuck place in the clutter struggle: I have so much love to give, that emanating from me is a blurry aura of placidity. I say yes but mean no, or is it the other way around? No matter. All that energy glowing from said crap scattered through my public rooms has a negative effect on productivity. A mailing envelope. A sparkle headband. A 1-subject spiral notebook.

What is worth keeping, and where can I make space? Releasing fear would be a start.

Listening next to Abandonitis by The Panhandle Mystery Band: “The doctor can’t cut it away.  You can’t operate on your own fate.” Or can you?

I like dabbling, but it promotes a chaotic home, slipping downward, aimed straight into neglect. When I forget to squint at my lack of cleanliness, it looks like a bumbling alcoholic dwells in my home. Sweet, but sad. At times Miss Havisham sad, but profoundly funnier. 

Therefore, I need a plan. Some parameters. What to keep? What to release?

Discern. 

Choose health. 

Love self.

Fear less. 

Enjoy the ride.

…While clearing the coffee table I discover two drawers in a side piece, that I never seriously cleaned out after inheriting from Grandma Anna. In the drawers I find loose, faded, photos of my grandparents’ trip to the Holy Land in the ‘60s and two little photo albums: one from my 35th birthday party (maybe) and the other from Marilyn’s wedding (I was the maiden of honor in blue),  a yarmulke, matches, a wooden elephant ornament, coasters, a spent pen, unused price tags, ivory inlay opera glasses…

After quickly tossing, recycling, and filing items as appropriate, I create a little shrine to honor my grandmother and our weird relationship. 

Coffee table, day bed, plus the two bonus drawers cleared, and I’m ready for bed. May I dig onto the dining room with a similar degree of gusto over the upcoming weekend. I dreamt about organizing in there. It’s a whirlwind created epitome of chaos, but in my dream there was hope of breaking through, so I’m going in…slowly…tomorrow.

Split Pea Soup and Hard-Boiled Eggs

Today, I go to pick up the vacuum cleaner, and some wise part of me says, “Change the filter.” Oy. Long past time to replace that bag. 

I go find a clean one, and there are four in the utility closet, white, bundled up like Pampers. 

After clearing webby remnants of a Dickensian London from the bag-holding place, cough cough, I figure out how to put the new bag in. Although I’d taken a snapshot of the old one as it came out, I still struggle a bit with the mechanics of it. Clean bag in place, I first vacuum leftovers from the overfilled bag, seated on the floor, wallowing in all that dust like a child playing in the dirt. 

Am getting comfortable with my young self, and joyfully cleaning, from time to time, for health reasons, naturally. Then I stand up and vacuum the whole apartment, including corners and underneath objects large and small. It’s time.

Dirt outside, no problem, Dust inside, congestion. 

“Let more light in,” says another teacher. “Take a walk outside.” 

Solitary Work

Overwhelmed, facing all the stuff I’ve accumulated and cast aside. How does it all fit? Where does it all fit?

I keep thinking back to what Shamini Jain said about only starting to work with the goddess Lakshmi after clearing space – after recognizing all my clutching, all my steering of the “what if I need it one day” wheel. Right into a wall! As I said to a friend earlier today, never mind the future. It blurs your vision and you misstep in the here and now. That’s how accidents happen. Last night a friend told about plowing into a snowbank during her first driving lesson. As with that friend’s teenage self, trying to jump ahead to a future filled with feats of perfection just hasn’t been working. My apartment’s bulging at the seams.

Why am I so hyped up about knowing this goddess? My intention: resonate in her frequency, with fearless love, faith, devotion, integrity, and generosity. And so…

Clearing.

Space. 

How much of my shit do I need to tidy up before I feel worthy of connecting with Lakshmi? You are already rich, she tells me. Value that. And then…

Keep intentions clear, and allow. 

Practice. 

So much of life is out of our control, but not this. 

Sheltering in Place

Learning to adjust quickly to new situations and scenarios has featured big in these strange, trying days. And that amplified self-reflection, us peering at our moving images in the Zoom – what’s up with that? Add to that the ten times daily paranoia about Covid symptoms: Am I sick? Am I sick? (I feel my forehead and quickly find something recognizable to sniff after every twinge.) Now, if you’ve been pushed by COVID 19, as well as told by (typically duplicitous) government officials, to stop running around, and you don’t take kindly to orders, you might feel feisty and suspicious, right?  So I can almost see how someone could call the virus and its relentless entourage of surprises “a conspiracy.” It’s hard not to.

In 2020 we have all been called by Nature herself to change our pace and examine ourselves, but it’s not easy, or it’s not easy for everyone. Some fall apart when life…must…slow…down. At the same time, the present moment can be an adventure, with interesting wonderments and tidbits of light to spur us on. Putting our former lives on hold isn’t out of the question when we have such an unprecedented opportunity to evolve.

I tell myself this: If you’re not enjoying aspects of being hemmed in by Corona, maybe you haven’t been gazing at the sky enough. Maybe you haven’t brought your gaze inward, at all. 

Many of us have been trained to ignore our dark interior. That place is a jumbled up mystery! But really, the less we consider, the more easily we can be manipulated. Now there’s a conspiracy! People who ponder threaten the status quo. Obviously not every thought needs to revolve around me, but seriously – my advice to me: How about making time every day to keep tabs on yourself, to learn something new, and to count your blessings? Then go outside and sit quietly. The chaos soon evaporates, restoring harmony.

Trail of Breadcrumbs

This morning two clocks played tricks on me. One jumped to an hour earlier, but I swear on everything holy that I did not touch that clock. Another fell back two hours. How the? What the? Going haywire here on the eve of an Empire Strikes Back kind of national election, bracing ourselves for civil war, holding our collective breath.

I choose to redirect and breathe, inhaling faith and exhaling love. 

My home is in as much chaos as our country is, no doubt reflective of my/our inner concern, impatience, excitement…and scattered attention. Tidying up, I find little crocks of dusty ephemera and ask, “Does this still give me joy?” But some items request a second and third question: “Does this pique my curiosity? and “What is the lesson?” 

One could ask, why not dwell in joy all day and all of the night? Why live in squalor? First, I am no Lotus Eater, no slave to pleasure. I would feel like I was in a hotel if my home were too pristine. Plus, clearing is good for my soul. Anyway, attaining the highest of joys, with full body and auras a-tingle, doesn’t come from denying shadows a place to rest. Not in this lifetime. Here I love the darkness as well as the pure light. Clearing, I discover that a message once tossed carelessly up in the air, today transmutes into a lesson.

One lesson from today’s junk purge: I/we have accumulated so much useless crap. I/We reached for it to comfort our wounded places, but the sales pitch that compelled purchase has no merit, and all that plastic will never improve our lives. Now it’s going to the landfill. 

I wish to learn from my mistakes, so am trying now to prioritize what matters most and avoid grasping consumer promises. I wish this for others, this intention to get rid of excess junk. May we continue clearing. Blessed be the shadows; blessed be the light.

We will learn and evolve and grow stronger together. Then, my/our house can shine brighter, bit by bit. Each time I notice my brain veering off from a task in front of me, I stop – inhale faith exhale one love, trusting that all is well, so that whatever happens tomorrow I/we will respond with courage, love and ingenuity. 

Clearing

I found the envelope I thought I’d misplaced. While searching, I wondered about the importance of the contents of that envelope and about why I should be the keeper of those contents: family birth and death certificates, armed forces records, and my SAT scores. In triplicate.

Am re-filing all kinds of items I believe I have to archive, even if no one ever looks at them again. Maybe I should burn the lot of it, to remind me of the perpetual potential for rebirth. Let go of what does not serve.

Then at the same time, I can’t. Am trying to learn that just because I once lived something, that experience doesn’t need to be carried for a lifetime. Not just the barbed lessons and the most enchanting sprees, stuck in amber, but endless catalogs of sparks in various forms. Do I need to carry the clutter of so much history? Isn’t remembering it enough, without the need for verification?

The memorabilia? Paper weights. Illusions. Life does not depend on preserving the past. Life cares about balance. Life chooses to nourish itself. I let go. Breathe. Make space for the release.

Rain stopped. Feels almost balmy outside. Soft.

Hopping back into the flow, with no attachment to outcome. 

Standing up to Autumn

The chill. It approaches, and I have no more strength to fight it. 

Until I remember. 

Surrender.

Stop fighting everyone and everything 

not lining up with interpretations and expectations. 

This is a free for all, and I think I understand.

Again. 

Surrender.

Stand in the center.

Listen, without taking sides. 

Jump in when instincts and reason work together.

It’s a dance. Connections inspire movement.

Movement generates warmth.

Yes.

Of course.

Honoring Ruth

Countless challenges have shown up in this year of horrors. Difficult as it’s been, I say the horrors have pushed us to our limit, compelling us all to stand in our power. The downright meanness has to be stopped. Because I want to stay balanced and tuned in to my allies, the distractions that have kept us from moving forward cannot daunt me. They were put in place to frighten me or to throw me out of alignment, but instead I am consciously standing up for justice. 

To be fearless, I need to be both centered and in touch with a community of life affirmers. Each of us has areas of expertise, and our collective skills can work together to abolish tyranny. We need each other’s strengths. This is what I can do. I can get in touch with the elements, like those benders in the kids’ show Avatar, because warriors must stay awake and balanced. I can also call on our ancestors; I can clarify my objectives with them as well as with with various divinities and other guides.

This is me, working to discover how the four elements can support my intentions.

EARTH: The physical work I do reminds me that I live in a body, on a much larger body, our planet. Matter is undeniable. As a kind of practice, maintaining my physical space by cleaning it requires me to move my body, which keeps it healthy. I try to stay absorbed in my work too, and as loving as I can be with everything I touch, with all my actions, and with the words I speak.While I like to feel the joy of a job well done, serving the Mother also quiets my inner princess. A bonus!

AIR: Work that requires sharp focus and organizational skills stimulates my brain into a pretty balanced place – at least when I’m truly applying myself to the tasks in front of me. The psychic Miss Daisy told me I’m meant to do “ordering” jobs in this lifetime. I think of them as a way to tether my mind, since clearly I lack the strength to meditate regularly. My brat self might think no control is necessary, but honestly – my practice is all over the place. I like lots of approaches to personal evolution, but all this flitting? Different kinds of challenging concentration snap my brain into balance. (Thank goodness for my Virgo moon and ascendant.)

FIRE: Am trying to cultivate a relationship with fire, but I only seem to get so far. I can look at flames and pay attention to them more intimately than ever before, but energy and creative fire have often alluded me. I try to remind myself to stay with it, because some extraneous BS can only be burned away. Ignition required. So friction, spark, space, fuel, a touch of air, and fwoom. Voila. No big deal. “Hey!” I say to that trauma that’s cock-blocking my courage: “Yes, fire can destroy, but the other elements can too. Enough with the worrying. Lighten up. Have some fun.” And then I call on Kali Ma for help.

WATER: Flowing water soothes, and I aspire to embody some movement of this material that is not quite matter, which makes me slippery and hard to grasp as well as capable of healing. Here, I want to nurture the breadth of my love everywhere I go and with everyone I meet, and I think that’s from water. Am getting there. Like fire, water needs a touch of air to get it moving. It also needs gravity to help it flow. Water is my native element, so really just a pinch of support helps. Showers are nice, and so is swimming. They bring me back.

Think about your own skill sets and pitch in. Even if you’re unsure how to contribute, we can all build our physical resilience and each others’ confidence. We can communicate with our neighbors. We can speak up and speak out. We can join phone banks. We can pay attention.We can make art. We can watch out for each other.

I don’t think it’s enough to just vote. We need to act now and displace those who have no respect for humankind or for the planet. They’ve had their time, and now it’s ours.

Moving On

The cooling, September ocean played rough, pulling all swimmers northward. She invigorated me though. 

Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, RI, has an interesting topography: the waves break unusually near to shore, and at about where they break, the sand drops down close to a foot. One minute you’re up to your thighs and the next you’re going to capsize, meaning you need to leap in or retreat. I jump off the sandy ledge and shriek, exhilarated, every time. Returning to land isn’t so easy though. You need to time your exit so that the incoming waves impel you forward fast enough that the undertow doesn’t drag you back or down, into a salty, sandy wipeout.

Relationships feel like this to me. 

Yesterday I swam two times. First, I stood in the shallows, allowing the water’s rhythms to fuse with mine. Once situated, I drifted far from where I entered. Heading back, as a friend noted, felt like swimming in one of those fancy lap pools. I only made it halfway to my starting point before giving up, but then I got out with smooth grace. I asked Grandmother Ocean to help me, and she did! My presence, initiated by my early merge with the water, helped.

The second time I went in, a dark swirl distracted me. Checking it out, I discovered one of several traveling schools of herring, with occasional flips of silvery brilliance. Distracted, I lost my presence. So this time when I tried to leave for shore, the waves knocked me over. Twice. The only injury, fortunately, was a bathing suit full of sand.

Lesson learned. Relationships work best in the present moment.

Step by Step into Power

Many years ago, the first time I tried to find my teacher in animal form, I balked. I got scared. I heard and then saw an animal – the same one – but told myself I was wrong, that it couldn’t be. The very idea of that beautiful creature taking time to be with me? Utterly unlikely. I spaced out.  My thoughts humbled me, but also highlighted my shame.

I heard: I came here to help, and all I’ve been doing is fucking up.  In truth I haven’t always lived up to my highest potential, to my true nature, but since I’m a human living in a confusing society, I’m as of today giving myself a pass. I need to tap into that nature and trust her judgment, with no letting sticky thorns pull me down. I rip them out and laugh! Yes, I have made mistakes. I dream up untruths. I have many excuses for not delving into my soul shadows. But dwelling in memories associated with shame’s destructive influences tends to suck me into a twirling cyclone of mental chatter which generally results in my needed to sooth/medicate my dizzy head. So I’m giving that up. I’ve decided to step into my power instead, which is a pretty AND fun place to be. 

I discovered that the animal I vaguely heard and saw in my first shamanic journey had in fact been looking for me. He didn’t mind so much that I’d gotten lost last time. We clicked and have been close ever since. Some connections can’t be explained. 

The other night, guidance told me to serve now, rather than wondering what’s in it for me, rather than taking cover in my “shameful” vulnerabilities. I heard:  Be fully alive, without doubts. Do not let yourself be silenced. Step up. Clean all the way into the corners. Clean without emotion, then admire the shine , grateful that such heartbreaking beauty exists. 

This is when I like to snap photos. In the zone. 

This is how I bring myself back from the edge.

IMG_1331For a warrior, falling into despair feels like quitting. The Dalai Lama says, “Never give up.” I firmly believe that staying positive during these dark days has the potential to bring us all back from the edge.

We stay positive with humor, we support the people dear to us, we zone out sometimes because we need rest, we open our minds and keep learning, and we open our hearts as well as we can. Activities like these, working together, can keep us afloat.

Teachings are everywhere when you set your attitude in a positive direction. Tune in to your surroundings. Listen. Watch. Pay attention.

But what about the ugly as well as the appealing?

Here’s where I can get stuck. When I observe everything, some harshness trickles in. Some stuff doesn’t seem amusing, lovable, tolerable. All the littered places: inevitable garbage piling up in gutters of neglect. These places – in nature, in our nation, and in myself – draw my attention and stimulate frustration and disappointment; they morph into seeds of unhappiness.

I leave these in the soil to compost. That’s my project, my methodology: notice everything, but find ways to recognize and then release the negative.

Because focusing on opening my heart fully, instead of getting sucked into fear of the darkness, is me not giving up.

Hanging onto my morals, knowing my limitations, and clarifying my boundaries all keep me safe. A small dog keeps me safe. The support of people who love me keeps me safe. And I trust that the universe has my back. Has all our backs. Remembering this aligns me and maintains my peace.

Be love. No strings. No transactions. No fear. Cultivate a heart that intends no harm. Be sacred love.

Cracking a Shell

Drew the Death card in my daily tarot pull. Death of what, precisely, I wondered. 

Am thinking about absence of personal will and wondering why it feels so uncomfortable to me, like my version of co-dependence doesn’t fit anymore. I want to try on the kind of autonomy I once felt, but am not sure what that entails. I might have to notice every time I’m talking in my head to imaginary people. Might have to cultivate quiet.

I’m coming to see that pure self-determination is a rarity. Some people defer to their loved ones, with various underlying ego-driven motivations perhaps. Some don’t attach their sense of worth to decisions in their lives and so go along with others because hell, smarter than making potentially wrong choices. They might have low self-esteem. Others must be easygoing – might simply enjoy life whatever they’re doing. Or they surrender to guidance, knowing that except for death, destinations are subject to mutation.

I love the people in my life. At the same time I want to purify the experience, to come into relationships with a sense of fully embodying my peculiar nature, with no need for external validation. Striving to listen and to be kind.

Death to hiding in the shadows. Birth to fully honest relationships in my life, starting with me.