Happiness Flew In… And then…

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I left the door wide open, and my beloved visitor finally flew away.  I knew it was inevitable.  Even if I bolted the door, this quiet, pervasive happiness would have slipped as liquid gold, through the bars of my pretty little cage at Her leisure and whim.  You can’t capture an electrically fresh, bud-bursting spring day in a jar.  But I was amazed and delighted at how long She chose to stay and warm me from deep within.  I should have recorded the days with little tick marks on the wall adjacent to the end of the couch that has a gaping (mostly figurative) indentation from where the heavyweight tag team of my butt and gravity work it over, day upon day.  (I should really consider changing it up and sitting on the other side of the couch, or at the table or on the floor so that I am less of a buzzed zombie… maybe when spring comes.) (Zoiks!, I’m not even through the first paragraph, and I have uttered the forbidden word “should” TWICE!… Honestly, I like to say “should” even more, since it has gone so far out of fashion.  It’s the rebel in me.  Otherwise, what is the alternative?  You just spend way too much time and energy groping about inside, like some new-age dork, to find shiner, more socially acceptable words to say the same damn thing– like– “It would be potentially life-affirming and transformationally potent to whisk my little ass on a romantic getaway to the other end of the couch.”  I mean, sure it’s fun to talk that way.  But sometimes I just wanna get the raw, plain idea out and move on with life.)

And now back to happiness.  And lack thereof.  Actually, I’m not lacking happiness this morning.  But maaaan– the flavor of those days upon days (I think it must have been about a week straight) was soooo delicious.  It was seemingly unconditional… I imagine, the unimpeded flavor of my soul.  It was bright and ecstatically tremulous… a wide open canvas upon which God painted the colorful masterpiece of my days.  And then I got a sore throat and the rain came back and Serena refused her afternoon nap, instead opting to play with the burner nobs on the stove while repeating “no, no, no” and making solid eye contact with me as I chopped delicata squash and collard greens for our soup.  I’m not unhappy now…. But I don’t feel invincible and larger than Life, like I did for that scrumptious honey-moon-lit week.

A highly alluring byproduct of said happiness, is that I had literally NO expectations of Ed (the perpetually unshakable Married-Baby-Daddy-Love-of-my-Life, for those of you new to Athena Graceland), but instead was an unconditional outpouring of generosity, support, appreciation and romance.  Haha, that must have been a nice little heart-spa vacation for him!  I felt so damn whole in this happiness…. that I really didn’t give a hoot about the terms and conditions of my existence.  I just wanted to give love.  I’m pretty sure this inner climate is the natural state of the soul.  I’m pretty sure that I peered through a sacred window into an impending inevitability.  I’m pretty sure this is what we are all stalking, beneath the glitzy veneer of every ambition and hope and choice.  This glorious wholeness.  A profound, profuse generosity sourced by an unending, overflowing sense of fullness.  An unconditional inner brightness that shines on Everything.

Lucky me.  I saw it.  I tasted it.  It is real.  Or at least it WAS.  And now I am on the brink of sick and I wish I could stay in bed and sad Hemingway all day.  Speaking of bed, I just had a flash of a dream from last night.  It involved me trying to get into the swimming pool (to swim succulent laps), but being obstructed by circumstances.  I’ve had a few of these lately.  Which is not surprising.  Because that’s my life.  The swimming pool is a place where I am free, whole, happy, nourished.  I want to swim sooooo bad.  So good?  But…. I am incessantly tethered to my most beloved fourteen month old daughter.  Which is pure grace.  But fuck.  I want to swim.

And speaking of water… now the rain is smashing down from a saturated, pre-dawn sky and singing me a dramatic serenade.  Suddenly all those notions of happiness and other-than-happiness and moments besides right now seem like a foreign language in which I have lost fluency.  Not to mention the heavenly bite of paleo banana bread slathered in chunky peanut butter and salty, grass fed butter that is currently dissolving in my profusely salivating mouth.  This sudden uprising of undeniable nowness doesn’t leave room for much else.  But I must press ON with this gay parade of mind and meaning.  Because writing is my passion.  I simply must squeeze the juice from the simplicity of ISness, and drizzle it into the stiff shot of complexity that is a human life and mind and heart…. stir… and serve you up a cocktail sure to jolt you into a heightened state of God-drunk presence.

Gosh, Serena has been sleeping for twelve hours now… which means that she is due to wake up any second.  I really wanna get these words out into the naked, sprawling corridors of the internet, where a handful of shimmering others might read, enjoy and benefit from them.

But allow me to splash first in the deep, vast waters of microcosmic awareness first.  Ribboned into this swirl of recent happiness, there has been a felt sense of deep peace.  I still feel it, like a full moon reflecting on a softly rippling, nocturnal lake.  I believe these gifts of happiness and peace are a contribution to The World.  I am not an “activist” in the classical sense of the word… nor do I aspire to be one.  But I am pretty sure that the energies that move through me uplift the collective.  Through untrained eyes, my passive stance of raising a tender, bright goddess in the woods, while doing humble, labor intensive jobs and investing in a sprawling bouquet of heart-full relationships might seem like a steaming heap of whoopdie-do.  But it’s NOT.  It’s a lavish slather of uplifting love up in the one heart we all share beneath the wondrous adventure of otherness in which we dance.  Listen– I’m all for Otherness.  A celebratory recognition of Oneness does not impede or negate the glorious play of duality that we are all exploring now.

I’m simply reminding myself and YOU that our lives and especially our LOVE, no matter how seemingly inconsequential and humble, MAKES A DIFFERENCE.  So won’t you please join me, and gaily fling open that cage door at the edge of your identity…. take delight in all of the intricate and fascinating winged visitors who fly in and out at their whim and leisure in the name of Destiny, in the name of Grace…

In the name of Heaven dawning withIN.

Skull Splitting Revelation!

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Athena was born from Zeus’s head.  Everyone knows that.  But what everyone DOESN’T know, is what is born from Athena’s head!  Would you like to know?  Well then keep reading.  This is IT.  When I close my eyes, I’m seeing richly colored, dripping, psychedelic roses spiraling in fractals… but I’m not sure how these energy patterns will translate into a sophisticated patè of language.  All I know is that I haven’t written in ages, because my laptop keyboard stopped typing Rs.  Then it began to refuse giving up Ts, Ys, Us, Is and Os.  If I wasn’t already so broken down by having a baby with a married man with whom I am hopelessly in love and raising her totally by myself, and meanwhile having my own dear mother get cancer, I probably would have been destroyed by the loss of my keyboard.  No, not because of the inability to update my Facebook status!  Because I am a writer, and somehow it hasn’t been the same to cry out into the desolate throes of my (100% post-consumer recycled) notebook.

But my beloved and merciful friend Chandra gifted me a spare keyboard that was just sitting around her house mackin on Kentucky Fried Chicken and hacking advanced sudokus, while secretly lusting to be USED by genius fingers.  And now, here we are.  A match made in Graceland, which in fact IS Heaven’s most beloved annex.  And since we’re on the subject of Chandra, I’ll sing out that she is an answer to a prayer.  And NOT because she gave me her damn keyboard.  Although that was an answered prayer too.  She’s the nutrient dense, stick to your ribs kind of friend, which I’ve been sorely in the market for since God Almighty stationed me out here in the woods with all the detached (and wildly kind) renunciates.  I needed an outrageous friend who has equal parts reverence and irreverence.

I think someday I’ll start a writing school.  And shred the notion of stringent adherence to Topic Sentences and Main Ideas and all the dumb shit they ground into my tightly sealed skull, before by God’s Amazing Grace, it split open and spilled in linguistic rivers onto the endless pages of Athena Graceland.  Sure, it’s grand to have organized thoughts.  To be able to reach out and semi-softly meet the mind of the reader (yes, YOU), and shepherd you to exalted Somewhere.  But… most often that’s NOT how minds work.  Obsessive organization doesn’t reconcile the pulsing myriad dimensions that beckon and burn to be churned by willing eyes and minds.  Maybe I’ll tighten my reigns when I take the plunge into “Profesional-ISM”, and write articles for “respectable publications”.  I’ll make my mind so trim and tidy and presentable.  And people will think I’m so very civilized and they’ll fork over civilized amounts of money so that I can join a country club and take up tennis and Jacuzzi.

But in the mean time, this, folks is the raw, feisty wilderness.  And if you enroll at the Athena Graceland Academy of Writing, you too can claim the flaming authority of your own essential voice and say it with an unapologetically loose and liberated tongue.

I might as well mention that I’m finally reading a book by Hemingway.  I thought since I take occasional delight in poking fun at the notion of “Hemingway Simple” here in Athena Graceland, I ought to know what the hell “Hemingway Simple” actually was.  I’m reading The Sun Also Rises.  And honestly, I find “Hemingway Simple” quite complicated.  And compelling.  I’ve made it to page ninety one, and while I am struck by his masterful ability to move a story forward at a rapid, rhythmic clip, hooking my mind with every glistening string of words and punctuation marks, I will say that I am having to scrape the crusty edges of my seriously limited interest in inhabiting a literary microcosm of tragically casual drunks who talk circles and squiggles around their heartfelt and honest experience.  I’ve spent my whole adult life cultivating the capacity to articulate and embody my emotional intelligence, and often kept company with those who also value and aspire to such integrated presence.  It’s gently frustrating to be held voluntarily captive inside the ancient, sturdy pages of a book full of privileged, careless (though certainly not “care free”) drunks.  I guess that’s the essence of the 1920s.  I s’pose it’s good to keep company with different types… plus I am exploring my passion-drenched craft.  My Ma beseeched me not to strive to become like Hemingway, but to stay true to my integral voice.  Her bright acknowledgment warmed me.  But I’d still like to learn from his flavor of Mastery and become better.  I ALWAYS want to become better.

And praise the Luminous Lord for this unexpected opening into further territory of my recent thought scapes.  Yesterday morning, my mind was ravenous for a spiritually satisfying snack, so I dug deep into the bowels of the brimming notebook in which I immortalized Matt Kahn’s profound, sanctified genius, back in November.  He said that passion is NOT contingent upon doing your dream job or any other explicit external conditions.  Like, I can be as impassioned as I do my cooking and cleaning jobs (grimace) as I would be if I were a famous writer.  Now THAT is some psychedelic shit.  He said passion is the ability to meet each day as a brand new lifetime.

If you’ve ever lived with a one year old, you know that as soon as you clean up the toys they gratuitously splashed all about the living room floor, they swoop in like a Tasmanian Devil to reestablish a state of despicable chaos.  The ULTIMATE zen koan of my current existence is HOW in the Lord’s hella Good name do I pick up Serena’s collection of miniature Bearenstein Bears books for the zillionth time in a day… WITH PASSION???

This is the Mystery of my Existence.  And the Key to the elusive yet obvious door of my Enlightenment.  Can “enlightenment” be possessed?  “My Enlightenment”?  Probably the stiff, robed traditionalists among us would poo-poo that notion.  But at the risk of sounding ignorant and ego-bound, I’m going to vote for measure FY.  Fuck yes.  I can blissfully posess a humble little slice of real-estate in this rightfully glorified state.  And I will wave it with gay ostentacity (Yes, I made up that word!  At the Athena Graceland Academy of Writing, we encourage such brash authority.  As long as it clearly portrays the world tumbling forth from your mind.  Think about it– this is how all language came to be.  SOMEONE took the self-appointed liberty of authority… and all the drunk and slumber-glazed sheep followed along, mindlessly munching cud.) in your blinking, slack-jawed face on the inevitable, reality-splicing day when I embody passion as I put those damn books back in their outrageously shiny, pink pouch.

Did I get carried away?  Totally.  But it was fun.  And I want to live with unhinged, unreasonable and perfectly shameless passion.  Matt Kahn also said “what if THIS (the life you are in, as opposed to the life you oft wish you were in) is what I want and I just don’t know it?”  The more I contemplate this, the more I am certain that this is the Life I want.  Dings, bruises, cleaning jobs and sprawling string of disappointments and heartbreaks included.  It’s pretty great.  I could write a whole blog, if not an odyssey on this topic… I will.  And it will crack you open to the ultimate realization of the sublime perfection of your raw Existence.   But for now, I’ll leave it at this:

Yes, the Life I have IS the Life I want.

How’s THAT for skull splitting revelation?!

To Tell You the Truth…

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Do you wanna know something honest?  I think I let my frustration speak too often with Serena.  Moments of tension and restricted breath, gratuitously spoken with smoke and sparks.  The F-word flies free as a flag at a baseball stadium perched at the edge of the world.  And every time I hear myself express from this agitated state, there is a voice in my head that says, “Athena, you’re gonna be mighty ashamed when SHE starts speaking like this in public domains.”  Yeah.  I’m not proud.  But you know what I AM proud of?  Writing something that makes me squirm.  Risk=Energy=Compelling.  Because let’s be honest– we are ALL a bit crusty and tattered around the edges (but mostly mooshy in the middle).  And it’s thrilling and terrifying to get naked… in a world brimming with people too oft invested in “presenting ourselves”.

But I didn’t bring this up so that I could spin out in philosophical generalities…  I was simply inspired to tell the unflattering truth.  Another dimension of this confession, is that a dominant part of me doesn’t even aspire to be wholesome and clean.  This aspiration seems more like social conditioning than a true read on my internal compass.  Not that I want to be frivolously filthy, either.  I want to be relaxed in my range of expression (while continuing to cultivate patience and a genuinely pure heart).   I don’t want Serena to hear a swear word and fall to her tiny, perfect knees, imagining that the apocalypse is upon us.  Aversion has it’s own malignant sphere of influence.  Still, I could be better.  But it’s a lot to have ZERO breaks from the incessant rigors of parenting.  Listen to me– NOBODY takes my baby off my hands for a goddamn hour (let alone a minute) so that I can go for a sweaty, cardio “prance” (my lax version of jogging), or sink in to a satisfying yoga practice, free from being climbed on, whined at, beseeched for boobie…  It SEEMS like most mothers get SOME relief, SOMEtimes…. Even once a week seems monumental from over here in Athena Graceland.

Sigh.  But I love being with her.  Sometimes my fuse just gets remarkably short and I become a reckless sailor.  Now I’m going to tell you something fabulous about me.  I wonder if it’s actually more risky to speak highly of oneself, than to shine the floodlight on one’s faults.  Self-love might actually be the greatest taboo of all, in a society built on insecurity and perpetual consumption.

For as short as my said fuse can be, I bounce back in a lightening flash.  I am quick to apologize, and quicker to say “I love you.”  My girl will have not a shed of doubt as to how loved, right and good she is.  And if she is anything like her mother, Serena will have no qualms about admitting her mistakes and shortcomings, and compassionately making another choice.  Boo hoo.  She’s awake.  Talk to you tomorrow.

I guess it was kinda good that she woke up… cuz I had the whole day yesterday to observe myself and notice the ratio of impatience to bottomless generosity and nourishing presence.   Though not all days are created equal.  The moment I’m most ashamed of yesterday was when she was having her pre-night-night-time sink bath.  I think she was over tired, since she missed he afternoozie (nap, not tea!).  She kept throwing her “toys” (red plastic tablespoon, cup, rubber ducky) onto the floor, causing gratuitous wetness, and I asked her repeatedly to stop, explaining that I didn’t want water all over the floor.  So THEN, she proceeds to intentionally fling her arm and splash water on the floor!  BRAT!  I ask her to stop.  Nope.  Instead, she does it again.  Making solid, rebellious eye contact all the while.  Wow.  My thermostat soars and bursts.  This is not acceptable.  I grab her squishy little arm and squeeze it.  Hard.  Holding her fierce, brown-eyed gaze, I tell her to STOP.  She pauses.  Before splashing MORE water on the floor.  This repeats a few times before I realize she is just tired and is really telling me she’s done.  Time for some naked pillow diving, honey scented oil on her too-perfect skin, diaper, snowman jammies, and boobie-to-sleep.

It felt horrible to squeeze her little arm.

But mostly I’d nominate myself for Mother of the Millennia.  I give her tons of room to explore the world.  I continuously aspire to see through her eyes of perpetually fresh wonder.  I speak to her as a highly capable and intelligent being.  I listen to her deeply.  I tell her how exquisitely beautiful she is.   Oh, and this one feels especially crucial– I don’t make her behave a certain way in social situations.  I hate it when parents force their kids to respond with the right script… just so they “look good” and avoid awkward moments and uncomfortable feelings.  Yuck.  I pick her up and dance around like a God-drunk earth angel.  I take her outside and let her sit on the earth as much as possible.  (That’s her favorite!)  I encourage her to explore.  I read to her a ton.  I feed her high quality, nutritious food.  And on and on blah, blah, blah.

It really DOES go on and on.  I’m great.  And I’m human.  And sometimes my fuse gets teensy.  Just like my mom’s did.  Back then I thought she was so mean!  Her jaw would clench and she’d say, “God dammit Dawn!” as I cowered.  But here’s what I didn’t know back then– she was way more than just my mother.  She had a whole world of emotions and hopes and dreams and needs and a mountainous heap of responsibilities… in addition to the simple though incessant invitation to be present and loving with her precious little Dawnie-cakes.

People say that you come to understand and forgive your own mother at ever-deepening levels as you walk the path of motherhood yourself.  Yep.  It’s true.  It’s like doubling back and delving into the veins of your very own being and  Life again from an even richer vantage point.  Surfing and mining your own blood and stories from a wiser, more compassionate, loving and clear vantage point.  It is ancestral healing backward and forward.  Building a bridge of Love to a better world for ALL.  I know this is why I am here.

I could be better.  And I WILL be.  As I continue to love my own innocent heart through all that Life is and isn’t.  As I learn and grow and relax into this miraculous, blessed path that unfolds through, as and beyond me.  And I might say a few too many fucks along the way.

Dreaming of Orcas in Winter

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Pushing off the shore… moving into the vast expanse of my mind, heart, Life.  I tingle.  I want to be extraordinary.  And in an instant, this desire turns to pressure and collapses in on itself.  Instead I’ll just be me.  Honest.  Curious.  Optimistic.  Ever enchanted by the weird, wild ordinariness of being a human being in a world of endlessly creative, disguised divinity.

That’s the macro.  The climate of my inner life on this deep, dark, quiet morning.  I just stopped to pick a booger.  It was sticky and I rolled it into a little ball and flicked it across my living room.  It took a few tries to launch it.  I’m embarrassed to admit that.  But the naked truth is that I am a booger picker, and you might as well know.  That’s the micro.

My Ma has cancer.  That’s the burning bush I beat around in my last blog.  Still waiting for the said bush to speak Gospel to me.  But pretty sure it will.  In the mean time, I’ve had two and a half weeks to digest this information.  And trust me, I’ve been all over the map.  I think my favorite emotion has been self-pity.  Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that too… since SHE is the one suffering.  But that’s the bizarre thing about “otherness”… someone right beside you can be undone in pain, and you really have no idea… allured instead by the glow of my own mediocre struggle.  Frown.

My Ma says she’s not “in pain”, per se… just exquisitely uncomfortable.  Mostly exhausted, and worst of all ITCHY.  Desperate to climb out of her skin.  I witness her experience from the outside, and it’s like watching her through a thick pane of glass.  My dad used to work at the MGM casino in Reno.  They kept a doped-up male lion on the family entertainment floor, and you could pay to get your photo taken with this poor, sleepy beast.  At five years old, I found this thrilling and we did.  The “secret” was a thick pane of glass between us and the Mighty One, which wasn’t perceptible in the photograph.  We had to wait a few excruciating DAYS for the photo to be processed… which pressed me into the grill of searing anticipation.  I died a few times waiting.  And then, gotta love ole Bart Horwitz (my dad)… He was supposed to go downstairs on a break and collect the picture… but he never did.  Over time, my desire for the fruit of this frivolous, exploitive adventure shriveled and returned to sacred nothing.  I learned early not to “hold my breath” when it came to my dad’s flimsy word.

Hence the frivolous origin of my metaphor of thick glass between “one” and untouchable dimensions of “otherness”.  I find it tragic.  Because I’ve been on both sides of the glass:  the one being ripped apart by loneliness, despair, some unbearable shade of pain…. Hoping to find relief in being witnessed… to no avail… And the one blinking, helpless as She Who Gave Me Life, tears miserably at her own flesh.  Oh the kaleidoscopic Mysteries of Existence….

You might not give a hoot about astrology… but I do.  And since this IS Athena Graceland, after all, I’ll report that Saturn’s round, dimpled ass is sitting on my gently beaming moon right now, which creates a mood of solitary struggle.  The sort of suffocating, internal atmosphere that grinds one down to beautiful, shimmering dust.  In the name of Ultimate Revelation.  It’s *not* glamorous.  But totally necessary.  And if you don’t want to speak in cosmically persuaded tongue, that’s cool.  Let’s just say that as far as seasons of Life go, it’s a cold, dark winter over here.

But the beauty of living out such a grueling season, is that there are contrast-carving days such as yesterday, which bloom as bright, delicious hints of spring.  By some unsayable Grace, the leaden weight in my heart lifts… I unhinge from the need for my Life to be anything other than it IS.  This is fresh pressed ecstasy.  I was at peace with my Ma’s fate, whatever it may be.  Peel back the layer of clutching at permanence, and being so close to the possibility of death is exciting.  It clarifies and vivifies Life.  It seduces forth more textures of whispering Divinity, laced in Everything.  I can feel the holy, smiling warmth of “The Other Side”, as my Ma likes to refer to that easier dimension of Heaven, where Light is not tethered to such laughable density.

Gosh, I sure can get lost in the endless dimensions of my mind!  I was telling you about the ease of yesterday.  I did an hour of paid cleaning at my Ma’s group house while Serena napped in the car.  I felt free.  Life was reduced to the simplicity of scrubbing a filmy shower with the green, abrasive side of a sponge and homemade vinegar-water with tea tree and lavender oils.  My large hands squeezed into small, orange rubber gloves.  When I finished, I laid on my back on the gravely driveway as Serena continued to snooze, texting with Ed… deciding on which day he would visit.  We agreed on Moonday.  The day after Christmas.  I felt excitement swell inside.  Danger.  Like looking into the eyes of a tiger, this fragile feeling could so easily snap in the jaws of devastating disappointment.  But like the archetypal Fool, I softened, letting it all be, as I danced after the rose at the cliff’s edge.  I love Ed and I want to spend time with him.  I relinquished the urge to be in control of our relationship and “the future”.  (Which I spend a lot of time and energy attempting to manipulate in hopes of “getting comfortable” and feeling “okay”.)

Then a sliver honda crunched the gravel driveway and spit my Ma out, fresh from another doctor appointment, and less nine vials of blood.  She was high on pumpkin spice latte, which made her behave like her former self!  Full of energy and good humor.  (These days, she mostly exists in a dull state of exhaustion, molded to the shape of her beige recliner, dispensing frequent apologies for her wilted state.)  I lapped up every precious second we were blessed to share.

Lots of other stuff happened too.  (Didn’t the literary precision of that last sentence bring you to your beautiful knees?!?!)  All profoundly ordinary, yet glistening with a sassy hint of revealed divinity.  This is what happens after death.  Suddenly there is new space for Truth to beam through the veil.  No doubt this is what Leonard Cohen meant when he sang, “There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the Light gets in.”   Death upon sweet death cracks apart the ego’s defenses to the blazing Reality of Light.  Slowly, over time, in my case…and perhaps sometimes all at once.  (Yikes!)

I don’t want to deluge you in the mundane details of my awesome existence, but I can’t skip the part where Serena and I drove to the cow dairy to procure a half gallon of raw milk for my Ma… we left the car running, intending to be quick.  Three calves rested in a bed of hay, adjacent to the milk room.  The smallest one, a baby bull, stood up, spindly hind legs first, and came to the fence to say hi.  He let me scratch his neck!  Then a bigger girl came over and licked my hand with her thick, coarse tongue.  My heart turned melty as they gazed at us with their radiant, wide, brown moon eyes.  I thought I’d never wash my barnyard stained hands.

I don’t know if I’ll feel as right and free today.  Serena woke too many times last night.  Then I awoke at almost four am from a dream of orcas.  It was nighttime.  I rode a ferry and they danced elegantly in the dark water alongside the boat.  I called out to them, “I LOVE YOU!!!!”  When our boat docked, they approached and let me pet them.  I was cautious at first, in their mighty presence.  Then I relaxed into trust.  This dream exploded my crown open and flooded me with infinity and stars and a feeling of pulsing awe.

I am ready for whatever shades of Grace today bestows.

I’m Back. With a Heart Freshly Shattered.

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But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

T’is the east, and Athena Grace LMNOP is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she. . . .

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars

As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven

Would through the airy region stream so bright

That birds would sing and think it were not night.

Yes my Beloveds, I, Athena Grace LMNOP am back… Mainlining Heavenly brightness to your heart and mind with renewed, impassioned, whitewater currents!!!  I didn’t mean to be away this long… but for the month of November, I spearheaded a small online group committed to writing a poem a day for the entire month (which also entailed the grace of reading each others poems). This endeavor, to which I was fiercely committed, gobbled up every single spare second of my incessantly demanding existence.  And then some.  But the good news, is that I rocked it.  And I mean smoking’ gun style.  I wasn’t sure if I could still write poetry… it had been so damn long.  But I guess a poet is just what I am… cuz when I touched pen to naked page, it just poured out like pee and poop.  An essential byproduct of living with an open, ever-curious and hungry heart.  (I dare you to demand that I share some of my latest poems here in Athena Graceland!!!)

Then came December.  Then came Athena Grace drawing in a hella deep breath.  And releasing said breath.  As it turns out, the day that will live in infamy is actually DECEMBER SECOND, not the seventh.   That was the day my blood turned to cold, white lightening.  The day that contained the precise, lucid moment when I faced the possibility of losing my Ma way sooner than I ever imagined.  

Actually, for the past few years, I have imagined losing her on a semi-regular basis, so that I never take her warm, luminous presence in my life for granted.  Despite my “impermanence exercise”, parents still occurred as immortal… probably because they are the ones who have been a constant since before the beginning…  Anyway, I give myself an A+ for savoring time with my Ma.  But that didn’t  make the semi-sudden threat of losing her any more gentle and delicious.  

Last week, she asked me not to blog about it.  I think she might have changed her mind by now… but just in case, I shall remain vague and elusive.  This *could* be considered poor form… to evade the jugular, ignore the bling-clad, neon pink elephant on the page.  But, as the self-proclaimed Picasso of the literary domain, it is my prerogative to break rules.  Especially if it is the only way that I am able to show up for my self-ascribed literary duty at this time.  So let’s explore how I can olympic figure skate around this enticing elephant in mother’s clothing, and still win the GOLD.  And when she’s ready, I have unpublished blogs waiting in the wings… so you can taste the recent rainbow of my heart as destroyed by Kali Ma herself.  

Ok, so which burning bush shall I beat around?  Do you want to hear about “Toot”?… A book I recently checked out of the library “for Serena”.  It’s about farts, and I was SO excited to read it to her the second we got home.  I could barely get the words out, I was laughing so damn hard.  She had no clue what was going on.  Or I could tell you that Serena’s new favorite food is spirulina!  Yes, it has taken the lead, over sauerkraut, beef and dill pickles!  Or that I was planning to cut down my own christmas tree.  The first tree of my adult life.  Yes, I’m thirty six and I haven’t had a christmas tree since I was a disgruntled seventeen year old, living “at home”.  Whoa.  I felt conflicted about taking the life of an innocent tree… I was gonna try to ASK the tree permission.  But I doubted my ability to talk to trees… and my heart clenched when I thought about executing this indulgent murder.  Then on sunday evening, Serena and I were out walking and stumbled upon a PERFECT tree that had already been slaughtered, and was just laying in the mud, dying a slow, tragic death.  A tenacious, modern-day pioneer woman, I hoisted her up on top of Serena’s stroller and she wafted piney perfume all the way home.  How’s THAT for amazing grace?!  For my next modest miracle, I shall pull innovative decorations out of my ass!… I could tell you that I’ve always had a mental block against Shakespeare… but reading the snippet of Romeo and Juliet at the opening of this blog has tickled my poetic sensibilities.  I can see myself diving into the oceanic depths of his literary genius and being born again.

Nah.  I’m gonna stick with the enticing meat and potatoes on my heart’s plate. I still dunno if my Ma will stay or go.  I guess we never know, even when we imagine we do.  And this, my friends is a gorgeous crucible of human existence.  But touching the possibility of life without her, I have turned back toward Ed (my married baby daddy), and am clinging with renewed fervor.  I had made such strides in letting go… I have mixed feelings about this “regression”.  There is such a stubborn fighter in me.  I have loved my fight for Ed.  I have fought hard for “The Dream of US” (That’s the perfect tittle for my book about falling hopelessly in love and making a baby with a married man as a ruthless, spiritual crucifixion!… (and Resurrection, I hope…) for four years.  And some essential and deep part of me is… fulfilled?… by engaging in this impossible battle.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been on my knees, blood and tear soaked, asking myself if I might want to consider choosing a more intelligent fight….

But… It means something to me that we have a child together.  And I *wanted* to create that “forever” bond with Ed, because our love is boundless and eternally compelling.  We are able to merge and taste a rare, pure unity.  This has kept us going in the face of our excruciating circumstances and inexcusable humanness.  Relationships oughtn’t be so disposable as they have become in our contemporary, strip mall, ravenously consuming society.  Oh Virtuous Athena… where does that leave his marriage then?  Fuck, I don’t know.  I got myself in a hopeless tangle.  If I had a shiny, gold Sacajawea dollar for every time I felt suffocated by the claustrophobic trap of my choices in Love… scrambled desperately to find the glowing Exit sign… only to discover there AIN’T one… 

The only thing even resembling an Exit sign is stopping dead in my desperate tracks, putting my hand on my heart and speaking “I LOVE YOU.”  Over and over and over and OVER again.  In the face of Life’s panoply of tragedies, colossal disappointments and triumphs alike.  This morning, as I was leafing through my precious (100% recycled!) notebook, I revisited a few potent nibbles of the notes I took when I heard Matt Kahn (my spiritual teacher) speak in Berkeley last month.  This one leapt off the page: 

“When the ego unravels, you will always feel alone.”

I became wildly jazzed…. Something fabulous might actually be occurring beneath the surface of this opulent buffet of tragedy and ache.  Like maybe I actually have a chance to realize a deeper cut of the God (Love) within me, and within ALL.  Like maybe the greatest blessing of my Existence, is that I can’t find the infernally blazing Exit sign… and that the pain can be excruciating.  That there is no one to catch me when I fall…. and instead I land with a clumsy, shattering thud, right in the stark and holy center of my Self.  Maybe it is fantastic that I can’t reassemble the broken shards of my heart and life.  

I must be saying something true, because suddenly I could cry.

It’s six fifty am.  I hear Serena stirring in the bedroom.  

Well, I’m glad to be hOMe.  I’ve missed you.   

Breathing into Life and Death… and Beyond

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I wonder if the caterpillar mush inside a cocoon cries out, and kicks the cursed walls of its vessel of scared Becoming… because it’s all frustrated, molten passion, bound and tragically wingless.  I bet.

I report this often, but it truly is an ever-new experience:  I just drew in a slow, deep breath… and in doing so, remembered my Self.  It was revelatory.  And I was not expecting it… I was all twisted up in the mental concept of being trapped within the confining walls of my current alchemical “prison”, until an inhale overtook me and I was reborn.  Thank God.  I believe in the queendom and the power and the GLORY of the breath.  I believe that it is a one way ticket to intimacy with Everything.  I believe that we can offer our love to ALL with every exhale, and transform the Fabric of Reality.  Sometimes I forget that I believe this…. which is why I am sooo glad that we are having this little, intimate chat.  I don’t know what I’d do without you!!

I also want to believe that I die with every exhale… but that lofty concept still remains a bit out of my reach… like it’s in a shiny wrapper atop God’s fridge, and I am a toddling infant, merely tantalized by its seductive, untouchable existence.

I was intending to segue into the elusive yet compelling topic of death right about now… but I must admit that this is an intimidating endeavor!  I will take a stab! (Oh haha that’s a pun!)(I’m almost certain that was the first pun I’ve ever served up here in Athena Graceland!  Eight years in…. Wish I had a bell to ring…)  Because it just so happens that another of my latest (kamikaze) missions is to befriend failure!  So this is like a two for one sale– take a stab at death, befriend failure along the way, PLUS, act now and you get a free bonus PUN.

Death.  (I just breathed again.)  I’ve never read The Tibetan Book of the Dead… but I’ve heard whispered rumors that its premise is Life as a practice ground for dying.  Even though I don’t totally understand this, it illuminates a knowing in my soul.  (Gosh, there went another serious breath!  Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m touching on something juicy.)

My abiding, essential spiritual inspiration (I cringe at the title “Spiritual Teacher”, because it has become a fad.  A totally trendy, new age thing to “have”.  And Matt Kahn doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal.  His mission is to awaken the Master in ALL, through the power of Love.  This sounds sensible to me.), Matt Kahn often shares that he spent ten years dying… In orderer to become the clear channel of Infinite Love that he is now.  Between healing sessions he offered, he lay on his couch, wrapped in a blanket, shivering, shaking and… dying.   Glamorous, eh?

I often use that snippet of his story as a reference point… as I come undone.  My whole journey with the father of my daughter has been woven with threads of colossal heartbreak and disappointment… as well as shimmering, sensuous threads of ecstasy and oneness.  Ha!…Sometimes when Serena meets a moment of profound frustration, wisdom smiles through me, singing out, “Oh, the agony and the ecstasy…”  She is such a lucid expression of the human condition.  No filters.  And now, I am mother to my own Innocence, singing the same sentence of unsolvable ISness.  God help me.

The agony and the ecstasy indeed.  But in these excruciating moments, when I am shattered and no one can save me (I hate that!!!), I think of Matt Kahn dying in his blanket, and our favorite Lord and Savior, Jesus dying on the cross… and I remind myself that if I *entirely* relax to the experience, allow it obliterate what is not real, what I no longer need for the Journey ahead… that I might actually be getting “somewhere”.  Somewhere of genuine value.

I’m afraid of dying in the most obvious sense… leaving my body, and no longer having the sacred, galactic privilege of being “Athena Grace”.  I can’t imagine that my soul has ever been such a resplendent character… Even though it has been a long, difficult, lonely and perplexing road, I am such an ingenious divine poem in the flesh… I feel outrageously fortunate to be so wildly expressive, deeply feeling, impassioned, articulate… and especially to love so huge.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Plus, at a more rudimentary level, I’m afraid of pain.  It seems like it might really hurt to leave this body…

But it couldn’t hurt any more that F-ing CHILDBIRTH for God’s sake!!!!!  That was the most excruciating twelve hours of my entire life (not to mention the time-slurring aftermath of having my recklessly torn labia sewn back up… but at least I got to hold my sleeping bundle of heaven through this portion of the torturous joy-ride).  And now that I think about it, I DID die.  So what’s the big deal, Athena??

Maybe I’m afraid to LIVE.  Afraid to FAIL.  Afraid to GIVE EVERYTHING of myself… to offer my voice and my love so vulnerably and risk being rejected or misunderstood.  It’s a trendy stance to take that “it’s not failure we’re truly afraid of, but SUCCESS”… this might be true… but if it is, I can’t access my “fear of success”.  I yearn from my depths to be a famous writer.  To me, this is the ultimate manifestation of soul-full success– to uncork and decant my heart as worlds of words that heal, bless and transform others, for the wellbeing of ALL.   And to be financially supported this way.  God I want to graduate from the janky domain of “just scraping by”… take vacations, cut generous checks to world-elevating charities… and heck, just to not break a sweat about needing a goddamn haircut or winter boots… or new pants that make me feel outrageously awesome and gorgeous.  And what about that raw opal ring I lust for??  Not to mention all of the stuff I want Serena to have access to… like gymnastics, dance, piano lessons, horseback riding, art classes, international travel….

Inhale.

Exhaaaale.

Death.  A couple of mornings ago, I dreamt of my deceased beloved, Dan.  In the dream, he was my longterm substitute teacher.  He wore a cashmere sweater, which perfectly portrays the texture of his soul– soooo soft and gentle and wonderful to touch.  I awoke and cried a surprising sea of tears into the solitary darkness.  I realized that I was grieving the passion that poured forth from me, into our Joining.

In this current, parched, solitary chapter of my walk-about through Infinity, I feel so much passion inside.  My body is aflame, and this potent energy has nowhere to flow.  Naturally, I am exaggerating, because, duh, it’s flowing from my fingertips into your eyeballs, right this second… It’s just that my life is such sacred drudgery these days.  Yes, my passion flows into Serena’s Miraculous Unfurling, too.  And this is beyond wonderful.   I guess it’s just my Poet’s Heart, exploded wide open and groping at the weird fabric of Creation, with the holy mission of “knowing itSelf”.  And when you try to fathom Infinity copping a feel of it’s own boundlessness… you can see that this could be fertile ground for insatiable yearning.  Sigh.  Maybe this relentless holy inferno is just my nature.  Breathe into THAT ONE, Athena…

I want some friggin relief.  I want to make exquisite delicious, soul-merging love… dance into untamed nirvana … swim unbounded in warm, turquoise oceans… roller-skate through Golden Gate Park with Serena on an excruciatingly pristine sunny day… AND ESPECIALLY— pour my passion-stained words into the minds of the masses and explode hearts into zillions of dancing, winged stars.

Death… Maybe it is the courage to inhabit one’s Life with Totality, openness and ignited passion… After all, what of “ourself” can withstand this Ultimacy of Presence?  When one is fully given to each newborn breath, to the shimmering pulsation of NOW… one cannot exist as a collection of limiting habits, beliefs and limitations.  One is….

One IS.

(I guess I still have more to discover about life and death… But I celebrate myself for taking a courageous stab at this wicked, daunting topic!!)

May we all be willing to die to ourselves and emerge as exquisite, winged Masters of Love.

Chronicles of a Rad Single Mama

God bless these words.  All of them.  I’m serious God.  Imbue them with Light that awakens ALL HEARTS.  Because You are THAT Badass.

Five fifty five am.  My legs ACHE.  I worked three jobs yesterday.  In addition to my Always Job of caring for Serena.  Actually, I needed to toil in the trenches yesterday… because once again, the full moon worked its watery, nocturnal magic, and destroyed me.  Full moons illuminate previously unseen inner dimensions for the purpose of sacred release.  I’ve sure had a wealth of material to release lately… Every time the She becomes round and enchanting, I die another gruesome death.  On sunday, my heart weighted tons.  I felt depressed.  It has been ages since I’ve danced with that particular shade of Divinity.  That’s right.  I’m declaring depression Divine.  Because ‘member?  I am no longer interested in imagining that there is anything that is *not* Omnipresent, All Pervading God… It’s actually impossible.  I can’t even conceive of how Omnipresence could be absent from anything or anywhere.  That’s just stupid, if you ask me.  Which you didn’t.  But this is my blog, and I am so free to belt out the Gospel from this modest mount.  And I’m certain that my assertions are of value.

Now that I think of it, the last time I felt debilitatingly depressed was when I was about six months pregnant… around August of last year… when Ed went M.I.A. and I thought he was going to totally desert The Graces.  All I could do was lay in my bed and cry.  Oh, and somehow I dragged my zillion pound heart to prenatal yoga in the mornings… and mostly cried through class.  My Cosmic Dad saved my life by taking me to the movies a bunch.  I remember sitting through Jurassic World, feeling a sacred, near ecstatic wash of relief as I watched the shiny leading lady tear through the jungle in high heels and tight, muddy, disheveled clothing… and one by cursed one, the secondary characters were gobbled by massive, stupid dinosaurs with wicked sharp teeth.  Oh, and bottomless buttery, salty popcorn.  For those two hours, I was happy and free.  As we emerged from the theater, Cosmic Dad and his buddy began critiquing the movie.  I was still high off of the cheap hollywood climax and release… I found it ludicrous that they were waxing sophisticated about this blissfully mindless little slice of “cinema”!

Anyway, I was amazed on sunday to feel for the first time in a long time, that I didn’t give a you-know-what about anything.  Except Serena.  But even that essential thread to this world felt tattered and precarious.

Yesterday (Moonday), I had three jobs to do.  In the morning, I cleaned the guesthouse at the Crystal Hermitage.  (Gosh, that sounds so glamourous in writing!!!  Like I’m a maid to the Stars.  Ha!… I have arrived 😉  By God’s Rad Grace, my Ma stayed at my house while Serena napped… and played with her when she woke, (They LOVE each other!!!) so I was able to “wham-bam” the job, while Matt Kahn transformed my consciousness via youtube.   When I got home, I heated up some red beans and rice for all of us, and had a little down time.   Then I took Serena to the yurt that my Ma usually cleans, because she isn’t well, and I offered to do it for her.  Serena napped in the car for most of it.  When she awoke, I put her on my back, papoose style, like mothers have been doing since the beginning of time, and we swept the thick, wet coating of oak leaves from the wrap-around deck.  Almost immediately after that, it was time to go cook dinner for “Chandi” (a group house at Ananda).  Serena and I made veggie tacos.  Serena sat on the counter and nibbled on raw squash and red bell peppers, and helped me pick out spices to season the food with.  She’s an amazing partner.

When we got home, it was bath time.  I didn’t even have time to feed her dinner, before plunking her into the kitchen sink.  I fed her buttery steamed broccoli as she bathed.  I ate some too… plus a couple slices of jack cheese dipped in pesto.  And some cucumber.  Ahhh, the glamorous life of a single mama.

Once Serena was down, my body screamed with ache.  I didn’t wanna move.  I fell into bed, scrolled down my stupid facebook feed for a few too many minutes before rolling over and letting sleep have me and my aching limbs.

I dreamed of being held by a *platonic* man friend.  I woke up feeling strangely nourished.  The night before, I dreamt I had sex with another long time friend and lover.  I love dream sex, because it can just go on and on and on…. Thank GOD for my dreams.  They give me what waking life is not.  I need this right now.  It’s actually almost comical how desolate my existence has become.  Recently, my Ma’s housemate, David was jubilant to share with me that he had been researching baby development, and discovered that when they are not touched, they DIE.  Yup.  That’s right David.  And what of little Athena Grace?   She’s mostly alive… but her body aches, as she wanders this sprawling figurative desert alone.

It will not be this way forever.  It is indulgent (though completely natural) to believe so.

Lately I’ve been AMAZED at the stark contrast of light and darkness within me.  The light is so bright, in ordinary moments, it consumes me in incognito ecstasy.  Serena brings unsayable joy to my days.  (Except Sunday.)  And the dark is thick as a starless, winter night.  It chills me to the core.  This acute polarity is the state of the World right now.  Amazing how it plays out with unique creativity in each of our personal stories… And simultaneously in our collective story.  I breathe it all into my heart.  And exhale it as blessing.  I know I am here to transform the consciousness of the planet and bring Heaven to Earth.  You might be too.  We all might be.  Are you ready to claim your essential place in Love’s twisted, frivolous play??

Oh, I forgot to mention the cherry on top of this melty hot fudge concoction that is My Life… My Ma called and left a message on my phone while I was bathing Serena last night.  She acknowledged and celebrated me for all that I did yesterday.  She said she realizes that probably nobody knows of all that I triumphantly accomplished… except for her… and she is so proud of me.

Listen– don’t be “too spiritual” for acknowledgment and praise.  That’s stupid.  Sure, it’s probably not healthy to be dependent on the stuff…. It’s not healthy to be dependent on ANYTHING.  But being acknowledged for who you ARE and what you DO is an essential ingredient of a healthy life.  It is an active expression of Belonging.  I acknowledge myself often.  I’m awesome.  But honestly, sometimes that just doesn’t hit The Spot.  Sometimes I need the glory of this epic, heroic pilgrimage through Divine Weirdness to be recognized by another.  And so do YOU.

I guess that’s enough for now…. I was gonna share my reflections on dying…. but I’ll save that for another gay romp through Athena Graceland!!!

PS~ Look Ma— I didn’t use any swear words in this blog!!!!  And it was not cuz I was editing my expression… it’s just that sometimes “four letter words” are the appropriate building blocks for raw, authentic expression, and sometimes they’re not.  ❤

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