Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ecstasy Returns (Whew)

I had my first ecstatic experience in a couple of months in the forest near my home today. I've not had one of these experiences since I gave the fullness of my heart to someone who didn't see it and decided they didn't want it once they did see it. They wanted my body for sex and my mind for the capacity to fantasize as they liked, but wanted nothing to do with my heart. My heart closed up after being objectified and rejected so profoundly. It hurt big and deep. It caused me to question whether I can continue my mission in vulnerability and open-heartedness. I've spent some time going deep inside to lick my wounds, healing through time, writing and loving relationships.

I live near Jacoby Creek and yet in the year that I've lived here I've never taken the time to visit the creek. As ridiculous as that seems, it's true. Today I was inspired on the way home to pull over and explore a path that I've seen hundreds of times on my drive into town. I have a friend coming to visit and I want to be a good hostess not just in my home, but in this amazing forest that surrounds me. I swear sometimes I feel the trees holding me, their roots underneath me, their trunks and branches around me and above me. As I wove my way through the mossy trees and walked through the water and watched little banana slugs on the path, skittering water bugs in the creek and spiders in a patch of wild flowers, I felt a big opening in my heart. I felt connected. I felt the magic of Oneness and the immense miracle of life that I am blessed to participate in. I felt the God in Everything.

Last night I felt my heart opening in a different sort of way. I spent some time with writing and art by people who are witnessing the tragedies of the world and bringing the stories to the American public in hopes of inspiring people to change the unnecessary harm we are causing/allowing to the earth and other human beings. I am recognizing how my capacity to feel so deeply through my empathy and to evoke feeling in others in all kinds of ways by very my nature is a gift to be used in a similar way. I used to dream of art projects in which I told the stories of people whose lives could be changed if enough people woke up to their true capacity for compassion and empathy and did something about the atrocities taking place every minute of every day. It's stories that cause people experience empathy, to feel for the suffering of others.

I watched an Eve Ensler video earlier today in which she talks about how she experiences Oneness through her body (please go watch it, it's profound and only 12 minutes long). She's recognized that her body is a reflection of the larger world, that the cancer that invaded her body is a reflection of the cancer of war, greed, and violence in our world. It's all the same. It's all connected. It's powerful and so very true.

God, I do feel so very deeply. When I approached my car from the creek this afternoon and looked up into the giant redwood trees, I started crying. Tears are how I express emotions that are too big for words. I could feel my crazy deep love for the Divine Spark in everything pouring out of me, streaming amongst rivulets of grief for the wounding of myself and the world. I've cried so many times in the last few days, nearly every time I'm in conversation with a friend. I am allowing myself to feel the fullness of everything I have experienced and am experiencing in my life recently - the grief and the happiness, the disappointment and the hope, the confusion, the doubt, and the moments of pure clarity. And of course the inexplicable depth of complicated love I have for a few people in my life.

I've missed the heartlight that imbued my life so deeply a few months ago - the light in me that responded to the light in the world with giddy joy and a connectedness that seemed to set my cells on fire. Ecstatic states were happening all the time. I recognize that like the myths of Persephone and Inanna, it is necessary to walk through the darkness in order to clear the shadows from the light I shine. I know that I needed to explore the depths of my sense of worthlessness and invisibility the way that I did so that I could discover just how valuable and visible and worthy of love that I am. While I've been deeply hurt, I am incredibly grateful for the experience and for the participation of the other person in my evolution. I am very frustrated by their shadow right now and working on forgiveness, but I still know their light and I still have love in my heart for them, whether they want it or not.

As I've said before, ecstasy and despair, it's all God.

I'm just so very so grateful to have the heartlight again, to bask in its warmth however long it lasts before a descent into the dark is required for the next stage of evolution.

Thank you for listening.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Grief is Weird

I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out, "It tastes sweet, does it not?" - Rumi

The waves of grief come farther and farther apart as time passes, but they still crash over me now and then.

My mother died three years ago. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day I found out. We are unsure whether she died 1-3 days before she was found. For those who don't know, my mother died of an accidental narcotic overdose after a lifetime battle with depression and addiction.

Grief is weird. Sometimes it's big and obvious and all consuming, especially at the beginning. But sometimes it sneaks up on you. You feel a tug at your heart, a sadness out on the edges of your consciousness, and everything in your life looks a little bit darker, but you don't realize you're riding a wave of grief until it overcomes you and you feel like you're drowning.

I have been stressed at work the last week or so, unusually so, and while there are understandable reasons I feel stressed, it's felt out of whack for the way I usually deal with work challenges. I've not been conscious of the impending anniversary of my mom's passing, so it never occurred to me that I have funky feelings percolating under the surface.

I have also been anti-social this week. I usually have at least a couple nights with loves/friends, either individually or in gatherings. But this week I've been home every moment I can be. I've been introspective and experiencing a sense of processing, but no clarity on the specifics. I've been fuzzy headed and heavy hearted.


The last three years have been a constant ride of transformation as I open into ever deeper experiences of love and consciousness. As I look at the self-therapy process I've cultivated over 15+ years, it's in the last three that the most visible growth has taken place. I've made significant progress in managing my emotional world, both working with hormone therapy to address the physical causes of my moods and working to understand and manage my emotional triggers when they go off. I've made leaps in consciousness and helped raise consciousness in my relationships and community. I have become brighter as I learn to shine my Light with intent and confidence.

I am a work in progress, but I've progressed exponentially since my mother's death. She catalyzed me. She always catalyzed me. When I became a single mother to two children at 22 years of age, I realized that I needed to pull myself together so that my kids had a better chance of being healthy and happy. I promised myself I would not do what my mother did and send broken children into the world after dragging their childhood through addiction and narcissistic drama. After my mother died a friend told me it was an opportunity to be free of chains of my past and live my life beyond my mother's shadow. I took the invitation to heart.


I recognize I'm having a new experience of grief this year. It's lighter than previous experiences. I can feel where I have healed. I can feel where I have forgiven. I can feel where I feel great love and compassion for her rather than blame and resentment.

I allow myself to have the fullness of my grief experiences because I know it's vital to moving through. I talk about grief and recognize it in people more than anyone I know. Our culture doesn't make much space for grief. It's meant to be kept behind closed doors at home. It doesn't belong in the workplace, or in the store, or at a party.

At the end of my workday yesterday I had a conversation with a staff member in which she revealed her father is dying. She started crying and she apologized for doing so. She apologized several times in the course of our conversation for perfectly normal grief responses. I tried to tell her that she didn't need to be sorry for her feelings or how she spoke or crying or anything else that comes from grief.

We shouldn't feel that we need to apologize for our grief, however it manifests (as long as we're not causing harm to anyone). I desire to work with people in the heart of the grief process. I've been very conscious of my grief processes in recent years, not just around my mother but in all grief experiences. I'd like to do some study in grief counseling, but I think I've got a pretty good understanding of its complexity and have the capacity to hold other people as they ride their grief waves. I think it's important that people be validated for their grief experiences, no matter how weird they might seem.


I am changing so rapidly because I am embraced and encouraged in my process. I am held by several dear loves and a larger tribe of friends who know that I'm striving to be a healthier and more loving person. They reflect my light to me when I shine, they help me up when I fall down, and they forgive me when I totally fuck up. I know that if I reached out to them tonight I would have a friend by my side in less than an hour. I don't need that tonight but it's an amazing feeling to know I have it, to know I am not alone. For a girl who used to sit in a dark closet truly believing no one cared that she existed it's an incredibly big deal to feel held like this.

Every day I trust my visibility more. What I've noticed the past several weeks is that I no longer have the desperate hunger for a partner, I'm very comfortable being alone, and I'm seeking validation less and less. I seek authentic relating. I desire connected time with loves and friends. But I don't act out of a unhealthy need to be validated, to convince myself that someone is seeing me, even in circumstances that don't bring me joy. I realize after recent relationship experiences that I have a pattern of compromising myself just to feel seen. I desire to act from a sense of true connection and love rather than fearful hunger.

For three years I have been actively working to understand The Invisible Girl and to give her the love she needs to grow up and become the Visible Woman Who Shines Bright. Tonight I can feel how much progress I've made and how I'm moving away from doing the work of healing within to doing the work of my heart in the world. While I still have healing and brightening to do, I believe I've cleared away enough of the darkness to serve with my gifts confidently and create the career that will allow me to earn my living from serving others in periods of grief and transformation.

Whatever happened to my mother's consciousness when she died, I hope she can still witness the life I'm living. I want her to be proud of me and my children. I want her to see how our crazy life led me to a revolutionary experience of love and community. I want her to know that all I ever wanted for her - and for everyone - is to consciously overcome the fear that comes from past wounding and embrace the love that is possible. My whole life is dedicated to helping every life I touch experience more love and less fear because of her.


Image Source: Alice Elahi Seascapes

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Meant to be Messy

"We are complete, whole, fine and totally capable from the onset. We may cover up, forget or be afraid of this fine specimen that we are, and as such life becomes a continuous dance with our soul and an ongoing unveiling of who we are in relationship to ourselves and our world. We are on a journey of discovery. We fall and get back up. We have questions with no answers and are full of marvelous paradoxes that secretly make us worry about schizophrenia. Truths change as do our desires, loves, fears and longings as we go along. If only we dare wake up and be with our full, complex, wild ever-evolving selves.

The point is this: it's meant to be messy. Life is a rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs, and thrills and terrors, and the more we lean into the curves, the more we get out of it. Life’s meant to be just that. Messy. A rich, epic experience on all dimensions. You are meant to savor and be savored by life.

But we are afraid of this messy life. Entire careers and industries depend upon and have enhanced this fear for their own profit. Look at the bookshelves, search the internet, spend a day on Facebook, and you’ll know, how apparently fucked humankind appears to be. We no longer know how to live. We plan ourselves out of life. We guru and train and abstain and stretch and educate and work ourselves out of life."
Lone Morch

I read the blog post this passage comes from a few weeks ago and my heart said, YES. This is true. Myself and the people I love are wonderfully messy, imperfectly perfect human beings. I have stopped reading self-development books because I know I can get more out of experiencing life fully than reading other people's guides to life. I know no one can tell me how to navigate my own unique path. I have no gurus or formal teachers - I just pay attention to who I resonate with in the world around me and how they navigate their stories for little pieces of insight or tools that may assist me on my journey.

But my reality is that I spend time thinking every day about how I could be improved, how I could be better and more evolved in some way. Lately I harass myself for not making more progress towards my goals to change my career. Today I thought about how I need to continue working on my emotional self so that I attract healthier relationships into my life. I often wonder if I'm neglecting or failing my daughter in some way. I think about how I could have a better attitude and be more centered during the stressful times at work. I think about how I could be a better community leader and how I could interact better with those I love and work with.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I could be better, improved, and doing more good work in serving the world, as if I am not good enough just as I am. I criticize myself for spending time watching television shows on dvd or futzing around on the internet (even though most of my reading is about spirituality, consciousness and how to be a better human). I tell myself I should be writing (my last blog post was three weeks ago). I should be building a professional website and taking active steps towards changing my career (I've had three conversations with experienced coaches giving me the next steps to take). I should be putting more time into the Imps.

"I suffer mornings most of all.
I feel so powerless and small.
By ten o'clock I'm back in bed
Fighting the jury in my head."

Amanda Palmer

Every single day I tell myself I could be doing better than I am. I hold myself to impossible standards (and as a result others too, which is part of why I struggle with embracing the shadow). I tell myself I should be doing more and being better.

For years I've been telling myself (and others) the story that I was broken and need to be fixed. Growing up in a severely dysfunctional family and my resulting psycho-emotional wounds = brokenness. Mental illness = brokenness. Teen motherhood, poverty and rape = brokenness. I tell myself even now that I if I have strong negative emotional reactions to others, even when it's perfectly understandable, that I'm still broken and need to be fixed.

Since a difficult conversation last night I've been wondering if it's ok for me to be angry and hurt because someone(s) I trusted with incredible vulnerability treated me carelessly. I wonder if it's ok to speak what feels like the truth of my experience right now even if it casts them in a shadowy light. I wonder if it's ok to be frustrated and hurting because people in my life are choosing to withhold intimacy with me because it scares them. I'm having trouble being open-hearted with a couple people I love because they have boundaries preventing our intimacy from being as deep as it could be or manifest in all of the yummy ways it could. I seem to think that if they withdraw then I should, too, because it would hurt too much to let my love flow fully without reciprocity.

Shouldn't I be better, more evolved? Shouldn't I be able to not take things personally, to see the truth of the situation (it isn't about me, their fear is just too big to let the love flow at this moment in their lives)? Shouldn't I focus on compassion for their fear rather than be caught up in my own projections and resulting heartache? Shouldn't I be able to see with clear vision and love unconditionally? After 15 years of actively working on my own psychological, emotional and spiritual evolution, shouldn't I be better than this?

I have pursued open-heartedness and vulnerability with my whole being this year and nearly every road has led to being turned away or shut down or allowed only a fraction of what's possible in the relationship. It hurts. It hurts to feel the possibility in relationship - to feel how the love could flow and heal - but the other erects walls to keep the flow controlled, if allowed to trickle at all.

My instinct is telling me to put a stop to the mission in vulnerability and build walls around my heart to keep me protected. My mind tells me to stop reaching out, to stop trying to connect until I know someone wants to and is capable of connecting with me. But my heart - and messages from the Universe - keep telling me to stay open, to stay vulnerable, to be willing to be heartbroken, and love as big and deep as I possibly can.

My mind keeps asking if I'm being unhealthy in my relentless pursuit of emotional experience, if I am an emotional masochist and creating my own pain. My heart keeps saying that I'm an emotional and spiritual mountain climber and shining my Divine Light means being an adventurer of the heart and sharing my adventure story with others. My map may not lead anyone else to their Divine Light, but my story can provide a sense of connectedness and perhaps an insight into another's story.

I'm struggling right now. I am a paradox, a damn messy one. While I have strong desire to be writing, to be working towards a coaching practice, to be putting energy and consciousness into nurturing community, I am not finding the motivation to act.

Today I read an article that talked about the timing of success and the writer believes that our success comes when we trust ourselves. Now I am asking myself if a lack of trust is what's holding me back. Am I afraid to start taking steps toward coaching because I'm afraid of failing, because I don't trust myself or that people will desire what I have to offer? Do I keep telling myself I need to improve because I don't trust that I'm good enough or lovable enough just as I am right now?

Maybe instead of looking for the next step in improving myself, and maybe even instead of constantly reading articles about how to be better, I need to start trusting myself and my process. I need to trust that I am moving at the pace that is right for me, in my career, in my relationships, in my evolution. I need to trust that taking a break and enjoying the ways I like to take time off - whatever they might be - does not diminish who I am or my value to the people around me. I need to trust that it's ok for me to be an emotional human, to have hurt feelings and fears, and to sometimes act from them and go through the growing pains of relationship. I need to trust in forgiveness, of myself and from others, trust that I can fuck up and that doesn't mean I'm broken or not worth loving.

I need to trust that I am amazing and lovable and valuable in my glorious and messy humanness...and that everyone else is, too. To me, this is what faith is. Trusting that we're all the Divine, sometimes gracefully dancing and sometimes clumsily bumping into each other in our skinsuits, seeking to connect with the Oneness we know somewhere deep inside is our true nature. I don't care about some big God out in the Universe somewhere. I want to be able to consistently perceive the God in all of us, to love myself and each person I relate to as openly as possible, to trust that everything is really ok, and know that the gift of this life is fucking BEAUTIFUL in every way it manifests.

For now, I'm just letting myself be a beautiful mess.