Greetings from my apartment. Tomorrow will begin week 5 of sheltering in place. By myself. I would never, ever have thought I could be alone for 4 weeks without going insane. What I “counted on” in life has either completely ended or radically changed. Between the news of the world, concerns for my family and community, and getting laid off, I’m processing A LOT! Falling back on my grief counseling experience, I am able to remind myself that it’s normal to feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
Here in no particular order are a list of things that seem to be “working” for me – as in they bring me comfort, help keep me sane, elicit gratitude and even joy. Some of them are contradictory, and some things that work today may not work tomorrow. I’m sharing these with you with the hope that they may help, or you might laugh and see yourself in these. And also, I’ve been home, alone for 4 weeks, and I’m tired of talking to myself.
Getting outside every day, taking a walk
Not hating myself if I don’t get outside every day and take a walk
Smelling spring flowers (jasmine, hyacinth, daffodils = aroma therapy)
Finally hanging up the hummingbird feeder gift I got for Christmas
Watching the hummingbirds drink from the feeder, live TV
Looking for things to be grateful for right as I wake up, reciting them
Going for long bike rides
Praying for all the people suffering in the world
Ton Glen breathing/meditation technique
Getting into bed early (like 8pm)
Limiting my Zoom calls
FaceTime with my mom, staying in “close contact” with her
Texting with my kids
Checking in daily with a few friends
Not beating myself up about my messy desk or laundry pile
Laughing at COVID19 memes
Hula hooping to dance music
Yoga at home and with my Santa Cruz gang on Zoom
Thank God for Zoom!
Facebook!Seriously, so beautiful to be able to connect to humans virtually
Instagram (see above)
Reaching out to old friends (great college roommate zoom hangout the other day!)
Dancing in the living room, shaking it
Lighting Shabbat candles every Friday night
Virtual Seder (so sweet – next year Jerusalem!)
Bollywood films on Amazon Prime and Netflix
Amazon Prime and Netflix in general
Watching short, light, shows due to zero attention span
Not judging my TV choices
Getting up in the morning and making my bed, so I don’t get back in it at 9am
Establishing “order” by keeping the house clean, doing the dishes
Cooking delicious and thoughtful meals for myself
Freezing the leftovers
Being kind when I am not able to maintain the “order” of the house
Eating my greens!
Taking Bach flower remedy “Star of Bethlehem” for grief and shock
Reading stories on Zoom to preschoolers, seeing their faces every day, laughing
Checking in on my neighbors (2 lovely women on either side of me, both in their 80’s)
Finding out that PG&E reduced my energy bill to $8 this month
Wild Kingdom outside my window
My walking path
Makes me laugh
Cooking for 1
What’s Not Working:
No attention span for all the offerings (free or paid) on FB and Zoom
Really hard for me to meditate right now
Can only read a few pages at a time of books (see short attention span)
Long Zoom calls (short attention span again, overload)
Pep talks on how this is a perfect time to become awesome
Missing physical contact with people and animals (missing having a dog!)
Missing human contact in general
Wishing I could swim (all pools are closed)
Grieving all the fun things I had planned that have been canceled.(I had A LOT of things I was looking forward to)
Keeping fruits and veggies fresh (eating them before they go bad)
Wondering where/when I will ever be able to buy T.P. again, WTH America?
Not sleeping very well at night (lots of thoughts between 2 – 4am)
Looking at the FB Group “View From My Window” and comparing my view to everyone else’s
“I love your Welcome Packet, but what is the actual ‘Vibe’ of this trip?” the latest registrant of Enlightened India asked.
What a great opportunity for me to stop and think about how to answer this question. How to best describe this journey to India I’m co-leading this November? It isn’t just a yoga trip. It isn’t a typical “group” tour, rolling up to sacred sites in a giant bus. It’s not a self-help retreat… those are all the things this trip is NOT.
I had a great conversation with my business partner and co-lead Julia, talking about what this trip IS. Together, we came up with several words that we think speak to our trip’s vibe. Here are a few:
Spacious – To truly be present, so far away from everything familiar. To experience internal spaciousness. 10 days of self-exploration, with free time built into each day for deeper diving.
Loving – Julia and I are holding a loving container for our group. From the moment your feet touch Indian soil, you will be warmly welcomed and lovingly held. From the gentle morning meditation to the good night golden milk & cookies, each day has been thoughtfully planned with your sweetest Unfolding at heart.
Fun – So many special and wonderful things are being planned. Including Diwali in India – which is, in itself, a festive occasion filled with fireworks, treats and gifts. Many magical moments await you! Julia and I can hardly contain ourselves but we want to save some surprises!
Unique & Exclusive – Throughout our years of travel in India, we have been able to hand pick our favorite vendors, guides and experiences. This trip incorporates the very best of who and what we love the most in India, and mixes in our own special offerings for a very special experience you won’t get with anyone else!
Stretch – Not only will you be stretching your body and having that opportunity twice a day with gentle yoga and Hatha flow, but you the individual will be stretched personally and spiritually. Julia and I both remember what it was like to travel to India for the first time and we will be there holding that loving container to support you and make sure it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
Flow – The Ganges River (Mata Ganga) reminds us to stay in the flow, stay present, and stay reverent to what IS. You will have plenty of reminders not to become overly attached to outcomes, but to stay in the flow and enjoy your journey. India is the perfect teacher for this. We will have many beautiful ceremonies on (and in!) this most sacred river.
Connection – A group of men and women come together for 10 days in India, and through a series of shared exercises and experiences, we form a Tribe. Together we co-create a supportive community that shares laughter and tears, personal triumphs and incredible adventures. Each one of you brings your own flavor to this group masala and we value your unique contribution to our community.
Self-Love Affair – India has a beautiful way of stripping away who we think we are and reminding ourselves what is actually at our core. Julia and I hold the intention that you will re-member aspects of yourself. There will be a special ceremony held for reflection and appreciation for each group member. We want you to return from this trip completely in love with yourself.
Something very special awaits you, I would love to have you join us!
Register HERE. “Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of your old life and into the new!” – Kenneth Grahame
I know many people are feeling overwhelmed with everything they are reading and hearing about in the news. Whether I am discussing the natural disasters, or the latest events in the United States, every conversation I have with friends revolves around what we can do, how we can help. I had tea with a friend of mine, a retired attorney and fellow yogi, who said “I didn’t used to believe in evil.” and paused for a moment, calmly picking up croissant crumbs with his fingers, “Now I do.” Things are feeling pretty dire – more than usual. Is this just me? I wonder… I am deeply saddened by recent happenings in the world (both natural and human) and I also believe that we are greater than this and that LOVE conquers all.
I have written before about Yogi Bhajan‘s prophecy that the world’s hectic pace will only continue to increase and many people will be overwhelmed – on all levels – and not know how to keep up with the chaotic energies. He went on to say that a third of the world’s population would die, a third would go nuts and the last third would be left to hold it all together. There are times when this prophecy feels like it has come true and it’s my choice to decide which third of the population I want to be a part of.
The day this picture (above) was taken, I had just driven 500+ miles in very challenging driving conditions: high winds, forest fires and driving rain for several hours. I was driving a 22 feet van that I was not wholly comfortable with and even hydroplaned a few times. When I finally pulled into the RV park, my legs were shaking. I then proceeded to get into a huge argument with my daughter who left to stay with a friend for the evening. I called a friend and sobbed. After the cry, I felt…so much better. Lighter. Less alone. Normally, I like to cry in private and talk to friends after I’ve had my breakdown. I made a conscious decision to let myself be seen in my tenderness and it was a personal stretch. I am grateful I made the decision to be vulnerable and reach out vs. keep it all to myself. Thank god for loving friends that are lifelines!
When the darkness befalls me (whether because of what’s happening out in the world, or because of whatever is going inside of my own psyche) it’s time for me to reach into my Self Care tool box and use whatever is appropriate for the situation at hand. I don’t intend to be Pollyanna or to sound naive, but don’t underestimate the power of Self Care! When the world feels overwhelming, I turn inwards and listen closely. “What do I need right now?” I ask myself. Usually an answer pops right in. Othertimes, I have to just use trial and error to see what helps. Getting out in nature is always a great place to start for me.
Spending the last month on the road, in a van, living with a 15 year old boy, has challenged my self care routines. There is very little alone time (something that I normally rely on heavily for self-sourcing), there is limited wifi (connecting with friends/lifelines is almost nil), the weather was initially very challenging (exercise was not happening for days.) I wasn’t meditating, I wasn’t practicing yoga, I was feeling isolated from adults and totally catering to another human 24/7. Thankfully, I am remembering my own teachings on Self Care and Self Love from LOVELUTION! and putting my oxygen mask on first again. Phew!
What does that look like? Have you heard that expression “If Mama Aint Happy, Aint Nobody Happy”? I’ve started making sure that I am doing something for myself each day that fills up my tank. Whether that’s a solo run, a tea date with a friend, making time to write at a wifi cafe or bringing back my meditation practice (why oh why do I ever let this go?) The expression “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” is my simple prayer and intention. I want to shine as brightly as I can so I can add my light to all the other brilliant lights in the world and we can shine light in all corners, dispelling the darkness and love it up so that it doesn’t need to spread.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the LIGHT that is you. -L.R. Knost
or… What I Learned Last Week Through Trial and Error
I spent a chunk of last week caring for my dear friend Barbara after she had surgery. I have never had surgery and really had no idea what to expect. I just knew that this is one of my best friends and I wanted to be there for her and so I volunteered to be her main person for the first few days. What I know in hindsight is that this is no small task nor should it be taken lightly. And…it’s not for everyone. So I’ve compiled a list of what I learned in the hope that it will help others – both caregivers and people about to have surgery – so that they can make the best decisions about who is in their space at this tender time.
1-Play to Your Strengths
For example if you don’t have the best bedside manner but you make a really mean chicken soup, volunteer to make meals, but don’t sign up to be the hand holder for your friend or family member when she’s getting prepped for surgery. If you decide to take on the “job” of caregiver, go for it wholeheartedly and no holds barred. Be on board. If rubbing somebody’s feet makes you squeamish, find someone who is great at giving massage to come sit with the patient while you have a little break.
2 – Take Your Job Seriously
Remember that you are the gatekeeper and that your job, to the best of your ability, is to filter all the personalities, energies and information that the patient is being bombarded with. You are an advocate for the patient. You’re another set of eyes and ears, don’t be afraid to take notes or even record the doctor when they are speaking. In my experience, nobody minded when I asked for clarification on certain things or had questions about the aftercare instructions. In general, I felt that the hospital preferred that I was there as a go-between for Barbara.
3 – Be Gentle with the Patient!
Even if you’ve never had surgery before, it’s important to note that the days leading up to surgery, immediately after the operation, and the days shortly after the procedure can be a very tender and vulnerable time for the patient and her family. My friend Barbara kept saying that the veils were thin. I think she was referring to the fact that all of her defenses were stripped away and this can be a time where fear and powerlessness are magnified. Be especially gentle and kind with your loved one. This is definitely where a nurturing and gentle caregiver will be preferred over somebody with very little bedside manner. Let that person run errands for you or help in other ways.
4 – Have Food in the House
Do have lots of yummy and nourishing snacks available in the house for the patient after surgery. Don’t assume that the patient only wants to eat soup or bland foods. In fact, I knew Barbara was feeling better on day two when she started fantasizing about lasagna!
5 – Rest
Encourage the patient to have many breaks and to rest quietly. It can get a little overwhelming with friends and family calling, texting, and stopping by. No matter how wonderful it is to be reminded how loved she is, my little Energizer Bunny needed quiet time so that she could recharge. One of my best memories was playing my Dragon Drum for Barbara while she napped. Also in this category, do encourage the patient to take her 3 AM pain pill and go right back to sleep. You do not want her to get chatty, nip that right in the bud. You need your sleep too!
6 – Show Some Emotion
Let yourself have feelings. Your friend will appreciate someone else expressing themselves; it’s not just the patient who is feeling an overwhelming amount of emotion. Once all the forms were signed and Barbara came out of the bathroom in her cloth gown and paper cap, s*** got real and I couldn’t help myself, the tears just flowed. Barbara held my hand and it was a very loving moment. Also, don’t be afraid to share a laugh – always good medicine (where appropriate, see below.)
A lot of these will seem like a giant “Duh!” to most of you but I assure you these were either learned the hard way or witnessed.
1 – Don’t Forget to Eat
Don’t eat the patient’s yummy nourishing snacks! And don’t underestimate how hungry you as the caregiver might get. It’s important to think ahead if you can and if you have that luxury, stock the refrigerator for you as well. When well-meaning friends text and ask what they can bring you can also say that the patient is very hungry and wants chocolate and almonds (even if they’re really for you!)
2 – Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive to Surgery
Do not, repeat do not, let the patient drive herself to the hospital on surgery day with you in the passenger seat. The patient has a lot on her mind and will be distracted. When she tries to back up into a very tiny space it will not go well. Avoid this scenario by insisting upon driving.
3. Laughter is Good Medicine Except When Patient is Nervous/Crabby
Don’t make too many jokes right before surgery. Usually the patient will not appreciate you making references to your giant pimple on your face and asking the surgeon if they have any medical recommendations for you. Once again, the patient will not think this is funny. Neither will the doctor.
4. Let It Roll
Don’t take anything the patient says prior, during, or after surgery personally. A lot of emotions can come up. It’s best to encourage the patient not to make any long-lasting, life-changing decisions in this general window of time. The patient’s mood could be perceived as erratic – something seemingly harmless like a little elderly man pushing a motorcycle up a hill could drive the patient into a murderous rant. Best to just soothingly reassure the patient that you hate that motorcyclist too…there, there. The patient will have almost zero recollection of what they said or asked for. For example when your friend/patient asks you to mince garlic in her lemon water she might actually mean ginger and will look at you like you have sprouted a second head when you ask her if she really wants you to put garlic in her tea. (Actually, as I write this, it occurs to me that this section could be written for perimenopause too…aaack.)
5. Don’t Be A Jerk
In her tender time post-surgery, do not give the patient any books regarding her medical condition or tell her stories about people who have died from the same medical condition. Right? Also in this category, do not judge any type of procedure or follow-up care the patient decides upon afterwards. This may take an attitude of trust on your part, but I assure you most people think long and hard and confer with their doctors and their loved ones before they decide on any follow-up treatments and it is OUR job as a supportive community to love our friends and family members through all of their decisions without judgment or opinion unless asked. And even then, people, use your heads. Remember…this is a tender time. Tread lightly! No bombarding the patient with statistics and medical data.
6. Don’t Forget What a Sacred Window of Time you are Sharing Together
Take as much opportunity as you possibly can in the surprisingly busy days post surgery to reassure your loved one what an absolute gift it is, and continues to be, to spend time with them. To hold their hand, to do their laundry, to steam there garlic tea, to warm up their soup, to stroke their hair, to give them a kiss, to cry with them, to laugh with them, to drive them around, and to just be in their presence. It is a rare gift to share so intimately with another and I am grateful to have had this bonding time with my sweet friend of 26 years.
Huge thank you to my family and friends for supporting me in making this trip happen, kids got shuffled, pet/house sitter bent backwards, drum carrier got fedexed so I could bring it with me on the plane, friends held space for me and said healing prayers for Barbara. I know it’s cliche but it truly takes a village.
Three years ago, over the course of three months, I lost 3 friends. They didn’t die, they dumped me. All of these relationships ended abruptly and each one of them came as a surprise to me. I’d love to have a nice new age explanation for why these friendships ended – like, it was time for anything and anyone that doesn’t serve to end – but all I really know, is that they did. End that is.
I didn’t want anyone to know that someone I had considered one of my closest friends no longer wanted to be in relationship with me. You know that phrase “You’re only as sick as your secrets?” well I kept this a secret for a long time. Only my husband and one or two close friends knew. Recently, as I was confessing all of this to another friend, she shared that she had recently had some friendships end too. “There’s no term for friend divorce.” she said. As we spoke, I realized that I’ve been carrying a sense of shame about these endings and feeling very secretive about it. I can feel guilt and hurt, but carrying shame is toxic. Why is it that the very thing I am embarrassed about in myself, I can accept and understand in somebody else? I wonder if other women are walking around feeling shame about friendships that have ended.
A few weeks ago, I was in a group that was studying with Ann Drucker, and we were discussing the shaman practice of “dismemberment.” In a shamanic journey, it can be common to experience dismemberment by one’s spirit guide. This is a unique experience for each person, but it’s common to be literally torn apart, limb from limb, or eaten/ingested so that there is nothing left of you. The spirit guide does this with great intention and service to the individual, in order to tear down and clear away the old, what no longer serves, ego.
Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true. – Adyashanti
I started thinking about my past relationships and wondered if on some energetic, karmic plane, these particular friendships were dismemberment gifts to me. I have no idea, but I can say that looking at these endings with this lens is comforting. I felt totally naked, exposed, raw when these friendships ended – one in particular. She wrote me an email and said terrible things to me about my character – things I would never have thought a friend would say – I did feel like my heart was ripped open – the same way a Jaguar spirit animal might eat my flesh. But what if that was the gift? I hardly ever know why things happen the way they do…that’s actually one thing I’m looking forward to when I die – I hope I get let in on the mysteries of life! But I do trust the universe. And I do trust that these friendships ended for a reason.
Fast forward to last week, sitting in my car, on the phone with a friend, both of us confessing about our ended relationships and both of us realizing that we carry shame and secrecy around this. As we talked, she gave me a gift. She said “People are complex. We have our faults. We’re not perfect. But I know this, if any one of those people reached out to you today and asked if you would meet with them, you would say “yes”, wouldn’t you?” I said “Of course!” and just like that, I re-membered myself. I RE-MEMBERED myself! All the shame, all the embarrassement, all the secrecy I’d been carrying for years started to lift. Yes, I am imperfect. I am horribly hormonal sometimes. Ugh. I am flawed. But I am also unflinching in crisis. I am always, always willing to try again. I have a gentle and kind heart. And my friend reminded me, to re-member who I am. I AM. And that is another gift of the shamanic spirit guide, after they dismember you, they re-member you so that you are complete. Whole. It took me awhile to remember myself, years to be exact, but I am more whole today because of those friendships.
These days, I am filled with gratitude for the women in my life. I am blessed to experience the level of intimacy in my relationships that I do. I feel humbled with the abundance of love that is beamed at me, regularly! I’m still me, I didn’t suddenly become the greatest person in the world. I do keep working on myself and try to own my shit, when I’m aware of it. The one common thread that all my relationships have currently is the quality of “leaning in.” I can truly lean in to my friends and they can lean in to me. Each of them have seen me in my rawness, my vulnerability and my imperfection and loved me anyway. Inspite of. Because of. Deep gratitude to the women in my life – all of them. Past. Present. Future.
and PS – thank you to my husband who midwifed me through all my grief during that time, even as he struggled to understand what the big deal was. I love you.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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!