Love’s in Need of Love Today

And I say to myself, what a Wonderful World
And I say to myself, what a Wonderful World

Years ago, I read a story about Thich Nhat Hanh riding in a small boat. He was a passenger along with a man who had raped a young girl.  Thay was on this boat with the rapist and, by some cruel twist of fate, the young girl as well.  He shared that he was actively practicing compassion for everyone in the boat.  He couldn’t feel love for only the girl – one is not more deserving of love than another.  In the story, he wrote, that he could see himself in the rapist.  That he was both the rapist and the girl.   At the time, it was a struggle for me to understand what he was saying.  How could Thay identify with the rapist?  What did that mean exactly?  I was confused, but the story has stayed with me all these years.

If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”  -Yogi Bhajan

I have been at a complete loss for words after hearing about a black man (any man, any human) getting choked to death by a white police officer.  I can’t watch the video.  It makes me sick.  I want to distance myself from the man who killed Eric Garner.  My heart breaks that I live in a world where humans kill each other.  There is a part of me that is ready to leave this planet.  Beam me up.  My bags are packed.  What the hell are we doing?  I want to point the finger.  Blame others.  I feel powerless and angry.  I am tired.  I don’t want to offer a hand, or a compassionate heart.

I want to open my throat and, with a lioness roar, make a sound so loud that all guns shatter into a million pieces.  I want my tears to replenish the oceans and rivers so there is no more drought.  I want to wrap my arms around the earth in a healing embrace. I want to personally apologize to each animal and plant that we are driving to extinction.  I want to lay my head down and go to sleep so I don’t have to hear about fracking and GMOs and human violence.

But instead, I look within and I know something about myself.  I am the police officer, so angry, in need of control, that I kill.  I am the human enjoying my white privilege in the United States.  I am the wounded soul that hurts others out of fear.  I need to recognize that in myself, so that I can heal it and seek to empathize with others, and be a better ally.  My silence comes from shame or confusion or sorrow, or all three.  Our silence doesn’t help the situation, it enables it to perpetuate.

I don’t know what (if anything) is going to turn us around as a human race.  But my heart tells me this:  Love is the answer.  At Stevie Wonder’s concert last week he asked all of us to keep trying to love one another.  A black man who is blind, Stevie keeps spreading his message of love and unity.  He says this of love:  “If it’s magic, why can’t we make it everlasting? There’s enough for everyone.”

When one suffers we all suffer.  We are ALL connected.  We can only evolve as much as the very last person in the evolutionary line.

This world was made for all men. All people, all babies, all children, all colors, all races, this world, my world, your world, our world, this world was made for all men”  -Stevie Wonder

Lonely Hearts Club Band

candles

Last year I wrote a post about how I always go within at this time of year – actually I wrote that 2 weeks ago too – hah.  Well, I guess it’s a theme for me.  But something is starting to shift and lest you think that I only write about tough things, I wanted to share a bright, beautiful light that is shining on me right now.  It’s called Embracing Loneliness.

Eleven years ago, I admitted to myself that I might be sensitive.  Don’t laugh!  Sensitive people had always made me feel uncomfortable and I had spent a lot of energy distancing myself from people that seemed “overly” sensitive.  It’s been a process of accepting that indeed, I am a very sensitive person, and finding the gifts in that – it’s my creative spark, my drive to connect from the heart with others, what makes me approachable to people.  I have a gentle nature and I try to honor that and try not to get too stressed out, because under stress, my fierce protector comes in and mows everybody down.  Balance is a good thing.  Praying for that.  And working on it.  Always.

Well, now I’m on to a new one – uncomfortable emotion, that is.  Being in a long distance marriage, having one kid live in another state, and traveling a lot myself, I have a lot of time by myself.  All my life I’ve felt lonely and it’s never been comfortable for me.  Never!  I’ve done so much on my own.  I’m an only child, had a lot of freedom as a kid, saw my dad once or twice a year, moved a lot, felt like a ‘weirdo’ because I was ‘different’ (probably being overly sensitive – hah), I’m fiercely independent, a little bit of a loner – ok, a lot of a loner, march to my own drummer, not a joiner, etc.  You can probably get the picture.  All this time, I’ve thought there was something wrong with me for feeling lonely.  I gave ‘loneliness’ a value judegment of wrong…or worse, unevolved – not spiritual enough.  If I was truly connected to God, I would “never be alone” right?  We’re all connected.  So anytime I felt lonely, I felt bad about myself and tried very hard to NOT feel lonely!  Push it down.  Call a friend.  Judge myself.  Blame somebody else (ok, Andy) for making me feel lonely!

And then…something happened…something so small and every day, but for some reason, it got in and I had an “Aha!” moment.  I was having a therapy session with someone that I respect.  He leads workshops all over the world and lives with his wife and son and they all seem to have a very loving, connected relationship with each other.  He was talking about how loneliness can overcome him during his morning meditation time and he will weep with it – even when his beloved family is in the very next room!  He shared that loneliness is universal and just a feeling – a feeling to be felt and expressed and allowed to pass through.  I really did feel like a bull, drunkenly tilting my head to one side and thinking “huh….?  Wha??”  He also went on to say, that loneliness, when felt, can be an indicator of deep love and yearning – something that I can convey and share with others and further my connectedness.

I thought about how so many people in the hospice groups for the newly bereaved are overcome with grief and afraid of how overwhelming it can feel.  What we teach is that the only way ‘out’ is really ‘through’ – feeling the grief is the only thing that lessens the grief.  I am comfortable with grief, I feel it every day.  I allow it in and really ‘go there’, knowing it will pass and my tears will dry in minutes.  What if I applied this to loneliness?

The past several days, I’ve had a lot of time alone in the house, the weather has been bitterly cold, all the animals are using me as a heating pad.

coldRuby

I’ve felt alone and have been missing my family, and have even felt some melancholy and existential angst about the passage of time as well as knowing that I am preparing to be away in India for several weeks – which always makes me feel as if I’m in outer space – as far away from familiar as I can get.

tipi

But what’s different these last few days is that I’m sitting in stillness (usually with at least one animal on top of me) and lighting candles, painting, creating beauty and warmth, and saying out loud “I’m lonely” and really feeling it.  Letting myself go there.  I’m sharing it with others without (and this is big, and new) hoping somebody (ok, Andy) will make it better.  And guess what?  Big surprise.  It’s passing!  Not only is it passing, it’s kind of welcome.  In a  poignant way.  Like shedding a tear for a beloved grandparent – so sweet to remember their face, and sad to miss their embrace, but heart-opening to connect to that loving memory.  This moment of loneliness connects me to my heart.  I long for my husband and connect to the love I have for him.  I notice the beauty of the falling snow.  I’m present and aware that this moment is fleeting.  I am grateful to be in my own good company.  I heat soup.  I feed the cats.  I walk the dog.  I feel content.  So simple.  So big.

Early Morning Sunrise
Early Morning Sunrise

There is a loneliness more precious than life. There is a freedom more precious than the world. Infinitely more precious than life and the world is that moment when one is alone with God.  – Rumi

Chakra Series – 5th Chakra

Throat Chakra - taken by my son
Throat Chakra – taken by my son

Vishuddha – Throat Chakra – Sound, Creative identity, (self-expression)

This is the chakra located at the throat and is related to communication and creativity.  When open, you are free to speak your mind, express yourself fluently, and feel as if you have a right to your voice.  I’ve been hesitant to write about the 5th chakra because I’ve been in a funky place of self-doubt, insecurity, and writer’s block.  The antithesis of a flowing 5th chakra.  But then I realized, I was waiting until I had something “good” to write, instead of just sharing what is living in my heart and speaking my mind.  That I can do.

This is the time of year I always, always begin my descent down into the underworld, to shed my layers and hang on Inanna’s meat hook.  I feel like my insides are exposed and I get protective, isolated.  Something about the holidays and my birthday approaching.  And an internal wisdom to hibernate and go within that bumps up against our society’s demand that we Celebrate!  with a capital ‘C’.

Yesterday was the Day of the Dead.  The veils are thin at this time of year.  I feel it.  The clocks have turned back this morning, and while I write this, the sky is putting on a show for me;  rose pink, lavender gray and pale orange behind inky trees.

November Sky
November Sky

Where does the time go?  I spent Halloween night quietly, not a lot of trick-or-treaters on our street.  I spoke to Andy, alone on Halloween just like me, in another state.  We texted each other using emoji’s = Modern Love.  We were walking down memory lane about past Halloweens with our kids.  I was looking at old pictures of parties we used to have.  I was feeling melancholy looking at the small fresh faces in all the photographs, dressed in their costumes.  Pirate cheerleader, angel, ghost.  “I know, those days are gone forever” texts my husband.  “Thanks for cheering me up!” I text and include a gun emoji pointed at my head.  (my sense of humor)

I had one tiny little girl who stared at me with wide eyes and, when prompted by her parents, whispered a hushed “twick or tweat”.  My heart ached with the purity of that age – her family’s future spreading out before them in an amalgam of hopes and dreams.  I’ve aged.  I’ve become cynical.  My heart is broken.  This is the first Halloween ever that I haven’t spoken to my daughter.  I can’t.  She’s not here.  She’s in a therapeutic boarding school.  This is our life right now.

Gazing upon my trick-or-treater’s face, I felt like Scrooge looking down on Tiny Tim and felt my heart crack with her innocence.  I ran upstairs and got my daughter’s fancy tea set all packed away in a wicker basket (I remember when I bought it at a fancy toy store in town that has since closed) and handed it to the girl’s mom.  “Enjoy it, use it” I said.  One more childhood token removed from the house.

It feels cliche for me to write about the “cycle of life” but it always comes up for me at this time of year:  birth, death, dreams, heart-ache, babies, teenagers, the truly egregious wounds that family can and does inflict, Spring, Fall, candycorn, rotting pumpkins, plump cheek, wrinkles, baby, crone, dropouts, honor roll, fresh air, meds, the redemptive power of LOVE in family = it all swirls inside my brain and my heart and collects in an aching lump, in my throat.  Glad I got it down in words today.

Chakra Series – 4th Chakra

4th Chakra activated
4th Chakra activated

Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत, Anāhata) the heart center – this chakra allows us to love deeply, feel compassion, and access a sense of peace and connectedness.

There is much yearning for me to live in the heart center.  If you notice, it’s right in the center of the 7 chakras.  I draw upon the energy from the lower chakras and pull down the energy from the upper chakras and they all meet in the 4th to generate a warm loving pulse, a strong drum beat that I walk to.  Not all the time, but as much as I can manage.  It is my life practice to keep the heart chakra open.

“Love is what we are; we don’t get it from somebody, we can’t give it to anybody, we can’t fall in it or fall out of it. Love is our true Being.”  Krishna Das

This post has taken me longer to write than the others in the series because I want to do it justice.  Like describing a lover’s face to somebody else, I don’t want to leave anything out, get it just right.  And in the realization of that, I can let go and do my best, it’s just ego setting out its trip wire.

Once, when I was a pre-school teacher, one of my favorite 4 year old girls threw her arms around me and said “I love you so much, I wish I could kiss you on the lips!” and I received the pure uncensored abandon of her love.  What my 4 year old girl wants to say about the 4th chakra is: “I am in love with this chakra, with this life, with YOU, with ME and I wish I could write a thousand love poems for the heart!”  I wish I could throw my arms around the world and dissolve into one million points of light and ecstatically merge with All.  (Maybe that’s what death is like…I hope so.)

This full moon time, I’ve been praying to take the “next step” in my work life, the next step on the path of meaning and service.  I pray to be of service in the world, in the areas of death & dying, grief healing, suicide loss, threshold passages, sacred sexuality, body awareness/appreciation – you know, just the usual stuff.  And ALL of it under the umbrella of sharing from the heart, with each and every encounter, seeing others through eyes of love.

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”  -Rumi.

So how to do that?  Stay in love with the world on a daily basis…not always easy.  Especially driving around Boulder at 5pm.  My god I am challenged!  I am humbled by how quickly I can get knocked off center.  My blueprint for living these days is my beloved book:  The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer.  In it, he speaks about how the heart center is an energy center and this energy (Chi, Shakti, Spirit) is unlimited and it’s our birthright.  It’s our birthright!  We store pain in the heart center and in order to be truly FREE, we need to commit to a practice of feeling our pain and releasing it, witnessing it as energy, nothing more/less, and allowing it to pass.  This enables us to stay in our heart and not close it off anytime we think we might feel something painful.  Living in fear of feeling something  that hasn’t happened yet isn’t freedom.  Singer says:  “The only thing you have to know is that opening (the heart) allows energy in, and closing blocks it out.”  The good news is that I am presented with mulitiple opportunties a day to stop, breathe and relax my heart and open it again.  Which is why it is my most active, ongoing practice and it has immediate, amazing results.  My life is changing before my eyes.

 

Lotus Mudra (for an open heart)
Lotus Mudra (for an open heart)

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.

There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.

You feel it, don’t you?”

― Rumi

Chakra Series – 1st Chakra

This is my first post since May – I don’t even know how that could have happened, but in part, it’s due to writer’s block, which happened the day I signed up for a writer’s workshop in Esalen next July.  Another reason I haven’t written is that I have been on a summer vacation at the beach.  This summer I needed to relax and restore myself.  I wrote myself a perscription, this is what it said:  Have Fun.  And that’s what I did.  I went to yoga, rode my bike, ate good food, swam, paddled, played, parented, visited with friends and family, made new friends.  I went for a lot of walks with Andy and Ruby (my dog) and slowly, slowly, my nerves thickened, and my muscles toned and my heart started to reconnect itself.

My daughter hasn’t lived at home since April 23 (who’s counting?) I miss her terribly.  Even to write this I can feel the sting of tears behind my eye lids.  She’s away, receiving support, getting better.  We are here, receiving help, getting better.  I guess I haven’t felt much like writing since she’s been gone.  Grief is a parasitic creature, living off of my creative resources.  I’ve been in an intimate relationship with Grief this year, and I’ve danced all the steps – from disbelief, anger, resentment, refusal to despair, collapse, surrender.  Grief brought her gifts ridiculously early, on the very first day of Lili leaving, I was able to see them.  I continue to be touched by the kindness of others, the compassion of mothers, the love of my children.  But it still hurts – in an open-mouthed “O” of shock at times.  Some days I can’t even handle the grocery store because it’s too painful to see somebody who doesn’t know about my life, or does know and asks me about it.

For me, the first chakra, the root, is about being grounded.  It’s my sense of place in the world and what makes me feel the safest and most secure.  It’s my energetic “home base” and my connection to the earth.  When my first chakra is open I feel a sense of well-being and peace.  It reminds me of a song my Grandmother used to sing to me:

The year’s at the Spring, the day’s at the morn, morning’s at 7, the hillside’s dew pearled.  The lark on the wing, the snail on the thorn, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home

This is a photo from 2 summers ago, we were all together in Santa Cruz.  This is my first chakra picture.  In the picture, I’m happy being a mama, I’m smiling at my husband, the kids are clamoring around me, and my world is complete.

These days, I feel like an amputee – learning to live without a limb, something’s missing, someone’s missing.  And I trust the universe.  I trust my girl’s path.  I trust mine.  (most of the time)  I’m standing on this earth, feet planted, my lioness heart pounding in my chest.

 

 

 

Square Peg Round Hole

All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.  -Michael Franti

Growing up I was  considered a “weirdo”.  It was the 70’s and most parents were involved in their adult worlds – use your imagination.  I went to bed when I wanted, watched a lot of TV, forgot to shower and had really bad style.  I was unpopular and lived in my own world of books and a few friends.  I was a lonely kid.  I never felt like I fit in.  I hated school.  It wasn’t until I was an adult and moved to the open-minded West Coast that I finally felt Free.  Free in the most anonymous sense of the word.  Nobody raised an eyebrow about what I looked like or acted like.  In the Bay Area I found my soul home and cultivated friends who loved me for the quirky gal I grew up to be.

I’m taking a tele-class called “Relationship as a Path” taught by Jayson Gaddis – that meets weekly by phone.  Seems kind of ironic that my relationship group is virtual – perfect for an oddball extroverted introvert like me.  Last week Jayson brought up a concept that stopped me in my tracks.  I’ve heard it before, but this time, I really sat with it.  He suggested that our children are the disowned parts of ourselves.  Think about that one for a minute.  Even if you would like to debunk that, don’t.  Just for a few minutes.  It’s a trip.

Times have been tender lately at our house.  My sweet, smart, sensitive 6th grader has been struggling socially.  He isn’t seeming to “fit in” at school.  I’ve always prided myself in allowing both of my children to express themselves as individuals.  But I’m realizing that I have my limits.  “Be yourself, but don’t be too weird, ok honey?” is the message I think I’ve really been putting out there.  I see that my EGO has been so proud of both of my children’s accomplishments and their bright beauty.  I’ve marveled at their seeming ease in life to be kind to others, to have people like them, to do well in school.  All things that were murky and elusive to me.  Now, with my son’s struggles, I’ve been in panic mode.  “He needs to be home-schooled!” I delcare to his dad.  “Stop posting those pictures on Instagram” I hiss at my son – “you know the ones…that make you look like a girl.”  Who is this person speaking?  What has happened to my open mind?  Where has my appreciation and celebration of difference gone?  I’ll tell you. It went out the window the day my son came home and said some kid called him “gay” after school and that he was worried about getting beaten up because he has purple streaks in his hair.  I panicked.  I wussed out.  I don’t want him to feel lonely or ostracized (like I did.)  The fact is, if I could prevent either one of my kids from ever feeling pain, I would.  And I can’t.  And that’s probably a good thing because pain can be a catalyst for growth.  I would not be the woman I am today if I hadn’t had the life experiences I had as a child.  That’s right…as I type this, I mean every word.  I am who I am today – somebody I am proud of – because of every experience I had in my life leading up to this moment.  So thank you MOM and DAD and STEP-DAD and LIFE for every teaching that came my way.  Alle-fucking-lujah!

I asked sonny boy if he would like to transfer to a different school – the one for creative types – the one that is more accepting of diversity.  In the meantime, I actually suggested he “tone it down” on being different.  His reply…”I like being different.”  I confess that I wasn’t happy with this answer.  Now he’s testing the waters of his own individuality in a small white town in a traditional middle school.  “What child do you know that likes middle school?” my wise husband asked me.  “Yeah!” my high-schooler chimes in.  “I hated middle school – especially 6th grade.”  She did?  Oh yeah…

So back to Jayson and my virtual class.  The part of me that I have rejected – the painful loner part of my Self that I have disowned – is now surfacing in my kid and making me verrry uncomfortable.  Thank you life.  Thank you for this opportunity to breathe, to love myself and all the sharp edges, to re-integrate the shadow aspects I would rather not be reminded of.  Thank you for letting me love and appreciate the unique and quirky being that is my son.  On Christmas day we went to the movies and he wore his mullet wig and his “sipping specs” (glasses that  are a large crazy straw where one end goes in the drink and the liquid goes around the glasses and into the mouth) and I didn’t even flinch.  Once.  Neither did his sister (who actually gave him props for staying “in character” the whole time) or his step-dad.  I love my family.  The kid has an inner strength, a platform to push off of and I want my butterfly to be FREE.  Teach me my beautiful children.  Break up the calcification of my judgement and release my shackles of fear.  I bow to you.

butterflygirl.jpg

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness.  They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.

But she had wings.

-Dean Jackson

 

 

hOMe is where the heart is

hOMe sweet hOMe
hOMe sweet hOMe

I once heard a woman say that as soon as she sat on her yoga mat, she was home.  I will go one step further and say, when I sit and connect to my heart, I am home.  There’s a lot going on right now for me around the concept of  ‘home.’  For years I have prayed to be a “Citizen of the World” living the life of a gypsy, meeting people from different countries and learning about their cultures.  I imagined I would have a home base somewhere (Colorado?  California?) but most of the time I would be off having adventures – sometimes by myself, sometimes with Andy and sometimes with the kids.  As I write this, I think it sounds like the musings of a young girl and perhaps sounds immature.  Yet, these “adventures” I’m referring to stem from a deep desire to be of service, to connect from the heart with humanity, to experience the “oneness” in all things and to show this world to my kids.  To expand my boundaries into the unfamiliar, because in doing so, I get out of my ‘self’ with a small ‘s’ and see that I am a drop of water in a vast beautiful ocean.

vast

I once went to a homeopathist for a consultation.  After several hours of questions, she gave me my personal remedy – not for an ailment, but for who I am:  Falco peregrinus.

Know what that is?  Falcon.  Peregrin Falcon.  I looked it up.  Falco Peregrinus is Latin for Falcon Wanderer.  Yup.  Sounds about right.  I’ve lived in 2 countries and 11 states, and moved over 23 times.  In some Native American culture, Falcon is referred to as “The Stranger.”  I can relate.

Andy and I drove out to California this summer on our 3rd annual road trip.  Just us.  No cell phone service, no computers.  Just the two of us, a great playlist and a lot of sky.

Big Sky (somewhere in Utah)
Big Sky (somewhere in Utah)

Want to know what’s living for your partner?  Sit in a car with them for 2 days.  And listen, really listen, to what they have to say.  Turns out, sweetie has been phoning it in on our daily life.  (I knew it!)  I’ve been extra busy with kids, India, death work while he’s been busy with work but with a growing dissatisfaction with his time off.  This is a guy who is feeling his mortality, a man who loves the ocean and has never lived near one.  A man nearing retirement who has never had the luxury of time to himself.  I’m all about freedom (falcon, remember?) I never want to feel trapped and sure as hell don’t want my partner to feel trapped.

For the next hour, somewhere in Utah, under the vast expanse of sky, I listened to my husband talk about how unhappy he was in his daily life.  How he longs to live near the ocean before he gets too old to appreciate it.  How he’s lived in Boulder for the past 28 years and how he’s ready to leave.  A life lived for others…wives, companies, children – and now maybe it’s his turn…

The blessing of this talk was that I heard – really heard – him.  I took it seriously.  I love him and want him to be happy.  I want us to both feel free, never trapped.  Andy’s conclusion was that he could never live in CA because I wasn’t ready to make a permanent move – yet.  And so, he was trapped.  Stuck.  Grounded.

Long story short…we signed a year lease on a beach cottage in Santa Cruz.  Over the next year, Andy will live there two thirds time.  I’ll be there at least a third of the year.  This means we will be spending some time apart.  This means that sometimes I will be living in Boulder without Andy.   As much as I consider myself a free spirit, I have been surprisingly challenged by this new arrangement.  My beliefs around home, marriage and parenting are crumbling and there is no manual for this!  Where is my manual!!!  (shaking fist!)  Once again, I am pioneering a different vision of what is “normal” (I don’t think there is a normal per se) and I can’t find the “how to” manual.

Home Sweet Home in Santa Cruz
Home Sweet Home in Santa Cruz

When I am in Santa Cruz, I feel suspended in amber – like I have stepped out of my “real” life into a fantasy life I have dreamed up for myself.   I have a beautiufl yoga practice in Santa Cruz with an amazing community that has welcomed me.  I ride my bike everywhere.  I have a beach house where every thing in it has been carefully chosen by Andy and me.   I sit at the harbor and watch dolphins (yes, dolphins) play in the surf.  I surf!  I paddleboard.  I am going to learn the ukelele and paddle the outrigger canoe with other women on Thursday mornings.

When I’m in Santa Cruz, on a long weekend with Andy, I miss my kids.  half of my heart longs to be with them.  When Andy and I are apart, I am loving that he is filling up at the beach, giving himself the gift of being near the ocean and I am missing him and looking forward to the time we will be back together.  When I am in India, skyping from outer space, nothing could be more poignant that calling my children and getting the answering machine.  It’s rare that we are ALL together and when it happens, I cherish it.  Heart overflowing.

“There is nothing from outside. Try to understand that. All is in you. You are the storehouse of your totality.”

-Yogi Bhajan

Holy Water

The rains last month were nothing short of epic. It might not have been 40 days, but 4 straight days of rain in Boulder felt biblical. I’ve never seen the ground so saturated. More than 2 weeks after the flooding happened here, there’s still standing water on my street:

just one home's damage
typical site on Sumac

Although we were more fortunate than many, we still flooded, our basement is gutted, furniture got ruined and our lives were majorly shaken up by the sirens, reverse 911 calls saying “Get to higher ground”, seeing our backyard turn into a brown raging river and hearing about a possible 30 foot wall of water headed our way, containing boulders, cars and sure disaster. And did I mention, everything happened after dark?  It’s been hard to wrap my head around the events that happened.  Andy and I look back and realize we were in shock the first few days. “Why didn’t we move those drawers off the carpet?” I ask myself out loud. It was because I never dreamed the rain would continue and we would get flooded a second time on the second night, this time with raw sewage and higher water lines on the dry wall. “Why didn’t we start cutting the dry wall away immediately?” I wonder. It’s because I couldn’t deal with the basement anymore, so I shut the door to the downstairs, compartmentallizing what I could deal with. Until the smell of mildew started to creep in. It’s been humbling to see how vulnerable we are compared to Mother Nature and to see how easily I can be cracked by disturbances in my “normal.” I want to be like grass, bending under the water weight, graceful and strong.

If you want to read a fantastic write-up on the collective trauma this region went through, read this woman’s account. Here’s one quote from her piece: “Humans have a biological need to “orient” in the face of threat. To assess for danger, and when the danger no longer looms, to create safety. We need to find our ground again. Especially when there are cracks and rivers where the roads used to be.” Amen.

We do need to find our ground again…here at home. Or at least, that’s my impulse. To take comfort in the familiar.  I’m attached to ritual and routine.  I feel untethered right now, I’m tired and my immune system feels compromised.  Everything here is topsy turvy. Our furniture is out on the street, or in the garage.  Andy’s office has now moved into my space.  I feel squeezed.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually, and it makes me cranky and brittle.  “Let me be like grass…” is my mantra these days.

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
– Lao-Tzu

the power of water
the power of water in Rishikesh, India

I am leaving for India in 3 days.  India, the queen of unfamiliar and untethered. The place that knocks me off my feet and pins me down until I surrender: powerless and open.  The best advice I can give anyone who is about to travel in India is to let go of all expectations and need for control. When I’m there, I am devoted to the present moment with a fierceness that knows this is my salvation in a completely foreign world.  In India, I “Let go and let God” and I love it.   The rains last month have given me a head start for India by exposing my rigidity and reminding me that control is always an illusion.   I pray to keep supple, so that I may bend, not break.  I pray I may keep opening my heart and my hands so that I may release my death grip on what I think I need or must have.  I pray for all those affected by this flood and all floods everywhere.  I pray for the group of women that are about to embark on the India trip – for safe travels, the warmth of community, and heart-openings.  I give thanks for the gifts I have received from the heavy rains – the literal washing away of things that no longer serve.  The cleansing and purifying of my home and land.  The heart-healing from mending severed ties through offering helping hands.  For the trees that look more refreshed than they have in a decade.  For my home in Boulder and my home in India and my home in Santa Cruz.  Home is truly where the heart is.

hOMe
hOMe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catch and Release

Back when I was younger, I kept my heart under 24/7 lock down.  Nobody was going to hurt me!  Not surprisingly, by shutting everything down, I stayed closed off to giving and receiving love.  I also had a lot of heart palpitations and irregular heart beats throughout my life.  About 5 years ago I was put on beta blockers because my heart symptoms were so frequent and disturbing.  Then, one magical day, on a hike to a sacred place of mine, I prayed to Spirit to “remove the shield from my heart.”  At the time, it was a ‘throw away’ prayer, something I casually tossed out.  I just said the words at the last minute, before I hiked back down the mountain.  However, I came down from the hike and haven’t been on heart meds since.  True story.  There have been heart palpitations, but now when I experience them, I get quiet and ask my heart what it’s trying to say.  What do I need to pay attention to?  Every time, it’s been related to something emotional that’s happening in my life that needs attending to.  The heart is an amazing barometer of the emotional body.  Pay attention to it!

Hanuman in Rishikesh, India
Hanuman in Rishikesh, India

These days, I can’t open my heart fast enough.  I feel like the picture of Hanuman, and I’m ripping open my own chest, saying “Here God, let me help you!”

I found a book – or rather it found me – The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer.  I have no idea why I reached for it at the bookstore, I think I liked the color blue and the horse…and something about the word “untethered.”

buy this book
buy this book

The book is small – digestible for me, and easy to read.  It talks about living with an open heart, it gives directions on how to do this, it’s a PLAN (I love a plan!) on how to keep your heart open and what to do when you feel your heart closing.  As soon as one becomes willing – conscious – to witness the energy shifts of their heart, they can be aware of a tendency to close the heart.  The book breaks down the theory of energy centers – especially the heart center – using scientific terms within a yogic context.  And did I mention it’s easy to read?!  Really.

All of this resonates for me and makes sense.  It’s like reading things I already “know” on some level, but having it in this simple format has really clicked for me.  I have been spending my past few days in my open heart, watching the tendency to shut down and close up when I experience an emotional trigger.  So far, it’s been pretty easy and even fun.  Until today.  Today I got “blind sided” by an interaction with someone.  It triggered all my stuff – my “good enough” stuff, my “scarcity” stuff, my “alone” story, etc.  I could literally feel my energy body wanting to spin out and keep all my stories alive.  It was all I could do NOT to fan the flames in my head.  Instead I went and danced for an hour.  But like a tongue poking a sore tooth, even with the book, and my meditation practice, and the physical exercise and conscious breathing in the heart, I still had to check several times on my stuff to see if was still there (it was.)

Tonight, after a long day, I am feeling more at peace.  I am feeling more ‘free’ – truly.  I have successfully stayed in an uncomfortable place and kept my heart open.  I’ve felt some pain and fear and have passed through some fire.  Having the feelings of fear or insecurity don’t make me pure or impure.  The trick is not getting drawn into that energy, and to simply relax and release as the energy appears.  “And no matter how many times you’re pulled, that’s how many times you relax and release.  Your opportunites to grow are endless.”

You will get to a point in your growth where you understand that if you protect yourself, you will never be free.

Michael A. Singer.

In this beautiful song by Nirinjan Kaur, Aud Guray, she is singing the words “Protect Me, Open my Heart, and I’ll be Free.”  I like to think she is giving her will over to Source, God, Spirit, and saying please protect me (so I don’t have to!) and open my heart and in doing this, I will be free.  A’Ho!

Bittersweet Summer Time

I’m going to write this without agonizing over every word.  Writing is something I do because it stirs in me and wants to come out – not because it’s easy or even that enjoyable.  I actually do a lot of hand wringing about it.  I’m in Florida right now, just finishing a trade show with my husband, and flying back to Boulder tomorrow.  These are some thoughts I’ve been having about Summer and Boulder and especially my beloved neighborhood of rural North Boulder, where there are no sidewalks, lots of open space, and deer walk around like they own the place.

backyard
backyard

Summer is actually my favorite time of year and these next few weeks, as it reaches its zenith, are the days I savor the most.  I live for the light and celebrate the longest day of sunshine like the wildest of pagan queens – joy pulsing through my veins, all cells dancing an excited jig.  I wish every day could be the day before Summer Solstice – just like Groundhog’s Day, to be repeated over and over, that’d be fine by me.  I feel melancholy the day after solstice, as I know the days are getting “shorter.”  I’ve always loved the highs more than the lows…duh.

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for almost 10 years.  I’ve seen things change.  I’ve sold a house and moved twice since then – my husband and I living apart for 2 years, while staying married.  It was a new beginning and a gamble, and one that paid off in a stronger marriage, but it still had it’s scary moments.  Walking past our old house the other night, I stopped to look at the now very unkempt yard.  It makes me sad to go past the house because the “new” owners don’t water or take care of the plants we lovingly tended.  I saw our peony bushes popping with buds.  They have a short window in early summer where they bloom and emit the most heavenly scent.  I used to fill vases to overflowing and the whole house would be redolent in their perfume.  I stopped and stared at the buds, plotting a midnight raid to take some cuttings.  A wave of sadness washed over me as I realized these are not ‘my’ plants anymore.  That time is over.  I planted a peony of my own last summer in our new yard…it’s got 2 tiny buds…it’s going to take time to get established.

peonies
peonies from Redwood Ave

Old neighbors, a family I love, have decided to end their marriage and they have sold their house and divided up their belongings.  What’s left of their life is on the street, waiting for the garbage man to haul it away.  I see the kiddie toys and broken tools and paper sacks and I see a life that doesn’t exist anymore.  I honor them all in their new beginnings and I feel the sorrow too…in dreams that have ended.  That house will always be their house in my memory, no matter who moves in.  I keep walking.

Down the bike trail and turning left on to my street, I see the empty lot where Joe and Lisa used to live.  Their house razed along with the old cherry trees.  The clump of lilacs stand alone as if to say “what happened?” – nothing has been built there and now a herd of deer seem to be the only residents.

cherries
Joe and Lisa’s cherries

Down my driveway now and I see my neighbor’s house is for sale.  This happened fast.  While I was out of town.  Nobody asked me about this!   My beloved 94 year old neighbor will be moving away.   She lives with her daughter after her house was swept away in Hurricane Katrina, this woman no stranger to endings and beginnings.  Now she speaks cheerily about how I can visit her wherever she may land.  When asked how she has lived so long and stayed so healthy, Miss Kaye replies “I’ve always had a positive attitude.”  Amen.  So she has.  I need to be more like her.

photo 1-1
Miss Kaye’s blood red poppies

There has been a lot of flower appreciation going back and forth over the fence this past week.  My poppies are in full bloom and, like peonies, they too have a short bloom period and need to be appreciated every minute they are in their full glory.  Last summer my gardener mistakenly pulled out all my poppy plants thinking they were dandelions.  I was devastated to think they were gone.  I viscerally felt the loss.  As I read this, it sounds like I am some spoiled, rich gardening lady but what I’m trying to convey is I felt the pain for the plant…being killed.  And I felt a responsibility for allowing this to happen.  I felt like a murderer.  A landscaper friend consoled my by saying that perhaps the poppies had seeded before they were pulled, and if so, they might come back.  Guess what?  They did!  And how!  Better than ever and maybe even more beautiful.

beautiful poppies on Sumac Ave
beautiful poppies on Sumac Ave

The point of all this is…all things begin and all things end.  The days get longer, the days get shorter.  People marry, people divorce, people separate and try again.  Kids grow (darn it!) and move away (not yet!!) and I keep planting flowers wherever I go.  I feel each passing more deeply than I used to.  I cry more often.  I love more.  I give thanks for flowers and for bees and for children and a home with a garden, for good neighbors.  I embrace the mess and chaos  – the perfect imperfection – of being human and judge less (thank god/spirit/grace) and miss the faces I used to see and embrace the new ones.  I love and appreciate my husband for being on this wild ride with me for the past decade.  I’m grateful for seeds that come back from under the ground, even when everything above ground is telling me they’re goners – it’s all a metaphor, get it?

can you see the bee?
can you see the bee?