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.

Learning to Trust

Consuming too many glugs of delicious gefilte fish gel brought to mind the time my gay boyfriend so hungrily gorged himself at my parents’ dinner that we had to stop on the way home by a cemetery so he could stand outside the gate and puke it all up. Now, I hope that fishy gel stays down.

Examining my desire for the delicious after watching a “gender bender” version of Twelfth Night, I have to bring myself to look in a really dark place inside me.

I haven’t been able to fully share myself intimately with another I because although I could love nearly anyone, I didn’t love myself and love life. Too flawed and ashamed of it. Made so many mistakes by forgetting who I am. What have I been looking for in the eyes of others? Approval? Appreciation? And there’s a rub. I couldn’t love myself because I felt unworthy or beyond wanting love, or I perceived myself as more or less than equal to everyone else, somehow. Either too mind bogglingly superior or too fearful. Am I bully or victim?

Both! So simple.

A coming to peace. Both yes and no, master and slave speaking to one another as equals.

Being alive is hard. We have to live in these bodies that we generally don’t appreciate when we’re carefree, until they’re no longer functioning well, like they did back when. Starts with a little creak. A gray hair. We almost remember what it was like to not smell our own corporeal frailty.

Some of us develop hard shells in which to stay safe, so we don’t notice our bodies much and don’t feel enough joy in having a body built for pleasure. Others of us depend on our senses to stay sharp and alert but aren’t strengthened by the ability to feel so much. Staying on point can become a game with the goal of avoiding focus. A diversion to prevent feeling too much because our experiences told us that pleasure leads to pain.

What would it take for me recognize myself as a worthy person? Do I need to turn lesbian with myself to recognize my potential for appeal? I’ve seen her. Funny. Original. Little-self-centered. Prone to feats of magic when in the groove. Sloppy as  fuck, but oh well.

Speaking of fucks, on one of the witchy Facebook groups I enjoy reading, a woman posted something about the Well-Fucked Woman – and I don’t think she meant “fucked over” either. I liked it. It was raw and life affirming – about how well-appreciated feminine qualities can really turn living into heaven. But if the woman is not worshipped as an equal or even superior partner who co-creates balance in life – in the universe – let them fuck themselves. Sorry. Just haven’t been lucky with Match.com. and am turning bitter.

I said that to Kate the other day, that someone recognizing and appreciating me is the best aphrodisiac.

So I need to learn to appreciate myself. And then others. Gratitude. Humility. Once I crack the shell completely I will be safe to interact honestly – without envy or mistrust – because if I say I believe in the abundance of the universe I have to mean it. Trust, with every step and every interaction, that unity. Shell. Broken. This is how to flow with love 24/7: remembering that both personal duality and social duality oozing out of that fragmenting carnival attraction in DC. are only frames of mind. That’s all. Frame, shell, whatever you call it. The thing that divides us. So much more liberating to shake it off. Hear the music. Stay in the groove.

Boom! Puff. Ssss… I want to keep reminding myself. Again and again: one love. And mean it. Be it.

Observing the shadows, I check myself.

Leadership = taking care of yourself so you can care well for others. It’s not, “What’s in it for me?” It’s not about preserving an image, or the fantasy of being powerful. For anyone fear-spurred and lashing out, complaining, defending, I pray that they find other ways of responding to uncertainty. I also pray for those who have been granted authority but are unable to understand their obligations.

So many people want to be saved. They’ve given up caring what trash they leave all over the place, and they want an easy way to feel good about themselves. They want safety from all responsibility. I get that, because it’s pretty much been my attitude about housekeeping for most of my life. Leaving a mess? Worry about it later! Guilty here. But electing someone else to redeem me of that mess? Absurd.

And what about our endless consumption, more for the sake of possessing than using? Save me from that, because all that junk crouches, ashamed, in a corner of the closet, which over time weighs on me and weighs on me and prevents authentic interaction with the universe. It does. When I forget what matters I get lost in whirls of reinventions and plans and head head head but no action. It’s a trap. Again though, no savior can carry me to the place of letting go, of releasing the unneeded nonsense. This is my work.

A healing aspect of the quarantine is that there’s no one to impress or to push away in my mind, so I have the gift of looking inside for answers instead of wishing to be saved by goods or by praise or by the presumed power of others. When I see a mess, without guilt or remorse I clean it up. In this way, any place I look upon that doesn’t please me will receive attention…eventually. I’m also resting a lot. Integrating. Questioning. What’s the rush? I’m trying to find the quintessential balance between repose and productivity. With so many moments of respite, I can mindfully attend to business.

I understand this is a luxury, but it’s a freedom I’ve worked hard to earn.

Sending gratitude to all my teachers everywhere.

Exploring

Living in a body can be so complex, if you let it. So much to ruminate upon, if you’re not wary enough to catch yourself falling down the rabbit hole. For one thing, cultural norms can be so distracting, with cyber bullshit and national news casting an elaborate fantasy meant to tease us into submission. We’re surrounded by a wide variety of circuses that flash sparkly stuff into our eyes 24/7. The thrill of murder and mayhem can even drug us in that realm. Or a sense of inner lack can disconnect us from the present moment.

Yesterday, subbing for a class of high school seniors, I listened in on a loudish conversation blooming across the room. Two girls were fawning all over this brute of a boy who kept describing his bitch (girlfriend?) of three years as so innocent (ergo, in need of his guidance). He annoyed the crap out of me, but most fascinating were the girls, getting high on the drama in his soliloquy. As the class started, the girls sashayed in late, and one showed him a video on her phone in which she and another girl were fist fighting. He gave some tips about the other girl’s weakness as a combatant. Bam! The delicious thrill that something really earth-shattering is going on and that you’re a starring player reminded me so much of snorting cocaine. A train wreck wouldn’t derail those kids’ determination to be thought of as sophisticated, or something else important (but more today than that). There was a wingman for mister Big Stuff, but he didn’t have any lines. Everyone had role in the story though. I eavesdropped.

Like any addiction that works to prevent our being present and accounted for, glory hypnotizes us. Being respected or admired lures us. Those kids? I wish them true happiness. But the ignorance of them? Somebody’s been working hard to make sure they have no tolerance for originality and that they crave entertainment. Because…

EVERYONE

MUST

FIT

IN

Everyone feels pressed to keep up, but we – us Baby Boomers, I guess you could say – aren’t as agile and peppy as we used to be, and keeping up wears us out. We find ourselves nostalgic for a physical ease most of us once took for granted, and then we’re stunned at the noises we make when standing up or sitting down.

When you’re young and you ignore reality your body doesn’t rebel, except when you’re so far out there your wise body insists you stop or slow down by cracking up your car with you in it, or by smashing your face into concrete in another way. Other times you might just get sick. These things happen. But mostly young people are impervious. I’m kinda jealous.

On the other hand, the slowing down has some advantages. Whenever I catch myself out of alignment now, I want to look to discover what I was trying to hide. What propelled me into the world of make believe? Often, my reactions to anything/anyone I find imperfect reflect the secrets I’m keeping about myself from myself: the places of my woundings. The potential for healing follows. It’s a process.

Due to my reactions towards others this past week I’ve learned the foolishness of boasting. (It’s not just buffoonery, it’s baloney: balloonery!) I also saw that when someone called themselves out on a silly faux pas it was a kind of liberation, where witnessing that felt like a hug. And I remembered how much misery we find when we measure ourselves based on extrinsic standards.

Then I picture Beanie, my Olympian-material doggie pal, tossing a tennis ball off the couch so he can go catch it. Love that guy.

Ah yes, living inside a body! They say that being restricted in this way provides a training ground to encourage our soul’s evolution. It makes sense now. All good.

Why are we all so afraid of each other?

Seeing lots of cars in the bank’s parking lot puts me on edge. Don’t want to stand around waiting. Don’t want to be around strangers. What a sad state our nation is in. Why so icy? I ask myself. (Feeling cruddy?)

While only one teller seems to be moving people along at the desk, the bank isn’t crowded, with just a couple of people and an older man filling something out at the courtesy table. I wait behind the one person in line and sign a check, fish out wallet/fish out i.d., and wait about two minutes before the older man finishes at the courtesy desk, gives me a look (seeming put out) and stands behind me. I’m feeling cocky about having the wherewithal to sign-in-line, remembering times I’ve had to use the courtesy desk myself and panicked about losing valuable line time. (These days I’m slick and loving it.  Slipping around town in a new sporty car brings me back to my younger days, maneuvering through smoky bars.)

But courtesy desk guy isn’t so thrilled. He starts squawking about there only being one teller on a Saturday. They always have more, he says. I say I saw the other teller bring a customer through a glass door for one of those…”Safety Deposit Boxes?” the man wonders. Yeah! And still he’s grumbling behind me. Wanted to ask him if his bladder was full, since I get cranky when mine is. Or maybe he had Saturday before-the-game errands to complete.

Realized only later, at home, that I could’ve asked him if he wanted to go before me. It would’ve been a kind and gracious response. Why was I at war with him?

I’m all about compassion, because I preach it relentlessly. Then an opportunity arises in which someone could benefit from a demonstration of compassion, and there I am, inwardly rolling my eyes at someone else’s impatience. Me!

Maybe armored is my natural state, or maybe we’ve all been manipulated into high alert – into defensiveness that’s based upon a cynical translation of reality. No matter.

Today I choose to be more present, more rooted in the earth. They can’t brainwash everyone, because most of us treasure others, the planet, generosity and respect. I tend to forget my heart when constantly distracted by noise and toys, but I keep working on it. Am trying to embrace my teachings instead of simply mouthing the words, because I don’t believe we can heal the world without letting down our barriers.

1/13/18

Archangel Michael

Someone transported a virtual archangel to me via interstellar whoosh. I think it was Michael. “Help me to simplify my life,” I prayed at my newly created white altar.

Then my hard drive crashed, taking with it beloved photos and all my school lessons.  I had no back up. How’s that for simplification?

I chuckled at the beauty of this divine joke, but then only changed slightly, subtly in response – which is my typical stealthy and slow way of growing anyway, if I’m being honest. I still have a thirst that can’t be quenched for new trinkets or new temporary hobbies to distract me, so stuff piles up in my home before too long. The shopping is fun too. At least now I notice when I consume blindly, like a hypnotized fool. I notice, but letting the habit go is not as easy. There are nuanced layers. I house these objects to fill an emptiness – a void – where closeness with other people should be.

Not everyone notices when the universe sends an important message or warning, and some of us notice but still don’t do the work needed to move forward. It’s too real, too scary.

Just the same, driving on the highway in a blinding rain storm, I told my dog pal Beanie, “No matter what happens next, I’m content.” I meant it too. Feeling blessed helps me continue battling out of those stuck places.

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The Internet Works Better with an Open Heart

Social media, like my apartment, is a hot mess.  At the same time, both are nothing but raw honesty, and are just a heartbeat away from cracking wide open.

Through social media we have an opportunity to share with each other – to learn from and to teach each other ways of navigating and of moving forward. But we can only help each other when we’re naked of our armor.

Last night, beginning to get off on a magical treat, it struck me that my too-frequent attitude toward other people suffers the twin curses of suspicion and self-defense. That’s the “shithole” way, to borrow a term from our Con Man in Chief. Oh, let it not be my way anymore, I thought. Better to speak truth to power, but with kindness and respect. Better yet to pay attention before reacting critically. It also struck me that sometimes only cannabis brings me around to remembering how we’re all connected to one another – especially when I’m so tense and defensive I forget it. Yes, the connection holds even when I’ve slipped off and can’t see it. And while I’d like to stay in the flow without the need for that loving plant support, these are tough times. It’s often hard to keep my heart open without it.

Anyway, I’m trying to learn to give everyone a chance. Mostly when I do, I find a human being looking back at me. This isn’t too hard in person, but social media’s remoteness sometimes grants us an excuse to forget we’re interacting with other people; promoting and defending ideas in the cyber world can make it harder to remember that we’re humans among others of our kind. That’s a lot of lost opportunities.

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Distraction = Evasion

I distract myself by jumping off to something or to somewhere else – hobbies, quests, games… My brother’s ex-partner once called him on this. We were in the car, and she’d just asked him some question – something seemingly simple, maybe about a bottle of Advil – and he grunted or shrugged in response. She asked the question again, and he said, “Huh?” She let him have it, with: “You always pretend you don’t hear me whenever you don’t want to talk about something!” I’d never before heard a woman tell a man what’s what at close range, and it was a revelation to me.  She really held his feet to the fire in their relationship, and it did him good, ultimately. Best of all, I learned something too.

Maybe that anecdote is more about evasiveness than about distraction, but what’s the difference? Because essentially, I’m a lot like my brother. I see invisible challenges or potential roadblocks and immediately distract myself with nothing of any consequence. Used to be sex. Oh yes. Unable to deeply connect with another person in any committed way, I satisfied my hormonal itches by rubbing up against other itchy people. That was fine, until it wasn’t anymore.

Today I notice myself tripping off whenever a task asks for more mental, physical, or emotional energy than I can muster at that moment. But I’m working on remedying my condition. It begins with a realization that the physical world is real and in need of my attention at times, and it ends with remembering that whatever I said “Huh?” to usually does not disappear on its own. It will grow dust waiting for my loving care. At some point, I’ll need to tune in.