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 – 3rd Chakra

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 9.41.41 PM
Warrior One – Kirsten Boyer Photography

 

There is a force within that gives you life – Seek that.

In your body there lies a priceless jewel – Seek that.

Oh, Wandering Sufi, if you are in search of the greatest treasure, don’t look outside, Look within, and seek That.    -Rumi

There is a warrior quality to the third chakra.   In this yoga posture – Warrior One – I am  Grounded, rooted (first chakra),  my second chakra supplies chi to my third.  Straight back, open heart, arms stretching in each direction, fingers pointing the way, eyes looking right over the hands, merging Will with Vision = I See.  Throat open, Third Eye looking in the same direction as the right hand,  head erect, connected to source.  POWER!

This chakra is known as the power chakra, and is located in the solar plexus.  It rules our personal power, will and autonomy, as well as our metabolism.  When open, this chakra brings us energy, effectiveness, spontaneity, and non-dominating power.  A healthy sense of self-esteem and identity are associated with a freely flowing solar plexus chakra.

I have a strong life-force; I think it and then I do it.  In the past, I haven’t always been so graceful.  My will.  My way.  The third chakra is governed by fire.  I have a lot of fire in my chart and I have burned people in the past with my words and my actions.  A truth seeker by nature, I took pride in my “swords of truth” not really noticing the bleeding bodies left in my wake.

Over the past several years, I have softened and matured.  Life has tempered me – sometimes mercilessly.  Nothing like going from the white hot flames to the ice cold bucket of water repeatedly.  I surrender!  I’ve become much gentler in my delivery.  I’ve learned the value (the life path really) of vulnerability and connecting my heart to my actions.  And like the sword, I’ve sharpened to a beautiful blade – I’ve learned when to apply force with a gentle pressure, and I also know when to cut through the bullshit.   I embody warrior strength with intention and temper it with a gentle heart.  I strive to marry my will with Divine will, so that I may be of service in all ways.

I honor myself.  I offer my light and service to the world.  I give light to all chakra centers above and below.  I am the bright Sun.  I am the light force made manifest.  -Isha Lerner from the Triple Goddess Tarot

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

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!

PITY PARTY!!!

wahhhhh
wahhhhh

I’m home, kids are home, dog threw her back out, I have some weird virus that has settled in my inner ear, causing some hearing loss which “may or may not be permanent” says my doc.  I feel like I am going deaf, have water in my ear, or 5 cotton balls wedged in my ear canal.  Ruby’s on pain meds, I’m on steroids (which have a “30-50% chance” of clearing up my ear and restoring my hearing) and baby girl got her wisdom teeth out yesterday.  Her percocet and viocodin are sitting on the kitchen counter singing their siren song.   Got some hilarious video of #3 (Lili’s nickname since we have 5 kids combined) just after her surgery – where her mouth is gaping open, stuffed with gauze and she’s saying “I fink there’s sumfin in my mouf” – good times.  But as soon as we got home, I realized she was going to be a big fat handful, needing meds round the clock, ice, gauze, no falling asleep until the gauze comes out, she’s falling asleep!  tv blaring…needs assistance walking because she’s woozy.  #5 needs dinner, and there’s three (three!) piles of cat barf on the carpet (of course) in my bedroom.  And my husband is still at the beach in CA.  Fuck-it-all.

Meanwhile…I am making homemade custard (the kind you make from scratch and pour into buttered ramekins and bake in a hot water bath), doing laundry, getting scrips filled, carrying the dog up and down the stairs to go potty several times a day, hosting playdates, making late night runs to Whole Foods for mashed potatoes, etc.  All this time, as I’m trying to take care of all the characters in this play, I am feeling bad about myself.  I am feeling guilty approaching a level of self-flagellation that I skipped my meditation practice.  I’m feeling ineffectual and like a Loser (with a capital ‘L’) that I am just walking around in a daze with no motivation to write a blog post or go for a run – not to mention I’m eating all the homemade custard that my kids decided didn’t taste as good as Kosy Shack’s rice pudding.  Go figure.

Anne Lamott talks about practicing Radical Self Care and jokingly refers to “keeping the patient comfortable” about herself when she’s struggling emotionally.  For her, it means curling up in bed with a book and her dogs and a bag of M&M’s.  “Whaaaat?” I say.  “Self Care?”  (Imagine me cocking my head and saying this in a Yoda voice.)  “What is this ‘Self Care’?”  Hmmmm.  Where can I get some of this I wonder?  The kicker is…I have to do it! After a good cry (after the dumb cat jumped up on my lap and missed, leaving 5 puncture holes in my leg) I was sufficiently beaten down enough to surrender (key) and let all expectation of having a “productive” day go.  Making lemonade people!

I decided to take all “shoulds” off my list today.  I’m choppig wood/carrying water re. the kids and animals – i.e. everyone is entitled to have food – as much as I wish everyone could just make their own cheese and crackers and we’d be done with the whole thing.  All pets will be let in and out and carried down steps.  Medicine will be dispensed.  Maybe I will do some yoga, maybe not.  Maybe I will watch the entire season of a reality show, maybe I will try and take a nap.  I’m giving my inner critic the day off.  I’m upping my caffeine level for today.  I’m going to try and show up for myself even just half as much as I am willing to do for my kids.   Let’s see how this goes…

 

True Confessions – Part 2

Vunerability and Truth…two of the most potent spaces to be in – combined anything is possible.  It was in this spirit that my relationship with Nancy West McGuire was started.  On this day, at this cafe, it was the right time for us to connect.  Do you have any friends like that?  Where you know each other peripherally, or see each other around, but for some reason you finally connect and you wonder “Why did this take so long?”  Ahhh the mystery of life.  I love it.

One of my absolute joys in life, and a reason I believe I’m here in human form, is to deeply connect with other human beings – on a heart level.  Sitting down with a “stranger” and finding common ground with each other energizes me and makes me glad to be alive.  It fills me up on a soul level.  And guess what?  Nancy loves that too!  The more we shared, the more excited we got to recognize a kindred spirit in each other.  We both had been event planners in past lives, we had gone to high school within 7 miles of each other, for decades each of one us has been drawn to different trainings and teachings to improve ourselves.  We each have a reverence and curiosity for death and dying.  It was a such a treat to meet and spend hours (!) talking and enjoying myself.  The items to be discussed kept growing and tumbling out, it felt as natural and comfortable as seeing a friend after many years – a sister…a best friend from childhood…where had she been all my life?

The cherry on top of the sundae was that Nancy was passionate about India.  Not only had she traveled there solo and lived there, but she was familiar with the one city that has been calling to me – Varanasi.  The one city on the “Journey to India” itinerary that I haven’t been to, yet feel called to see.  Nancy told me story after story about her days in Varanasi, about impromptu dance parties with women in the slums, about chartering a boat to take families down the Ganges to a park for an afternoon of play, of paying for children to go to the dentist for the first time and have their teeth cleaned and filled.  To hear Nancy speak of Varanasi, is to see her come alive.  She’s a strong woman with a large heart and she exudes confidence, competence and gregariousness.  But the nectar is to watch Nancy soften when she speaks of Varanasi and the people there.  She looks like a young girl, delighted with life, and sweet with vulnerability and truth.  See for yourself: