The Ultimate Alchemy

RadiantHeart

Do you reckon that lead was loafing around one day and suddenly got a bug up his butt to make something more of himself?  Do you think he daydreamed obsessively about a noble and unknowable Destiny that lived in the secret blueprints of his elemental DNA?  And all at once, he had a divine lightning impulse to leap into an inferno, seal off all the exits, and die an excruciating and slow death?

I doubt it.

I am lead.  Except I DO have a bug up  my butt to Become a golden embodiment of the pristine glory of Heaven.  And even though I thirst for this compelling Destiny from the depths of my soul, I’m not feeling entirely gracious and patient in this stuffy, hot, sealed container.  I keep trying to bust the lid off… I keep trying to control the thermostat.  But when did lead ever become gold, behaving like that???  There’s a lot I don’t know.  But I DO know the answer to that question:  NEVER.

Oh, and actually, I know one more thing… I *will* become Go(l)d.  We all will.  And we all already are, but we mostly try to pretend otherwise.  What a frivolous game.  But I wouldn’t be able to sit here on my couch, sipping delicious tea and typing these confounded, exploratory and poetically persuaded words if the Game wasn’t ON.  Sure, Life is hard work… but it’s worth it.  It’s a pretty “neat” set-up.  (As an aficionado of words, with a reverence for their nuanced potent capacity for sculpting reality, I got off on saying “neat”… because it’s so ordinary.  But sometimes the best option is the worn-in, comfy jeans… “intentionally casual”…)

There I go again, spiraling out into those far-out rings of vast conceptuality.  Don’t just SIT there!… Reel me IN!!!  Make yourself useful over there!!!  ;-p

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

I often joke about being “Hemingway simple”… but I’ve never even read him.  That’s his first line from The Old Man and the Sea…  Okay, now it’s my turn.

Lately it is clear to me that Life is in charge, and yet, again and again, I watch my small self step into the ring and try to wrastle It to the dusty ground.  I never win.  I just end up angry and sad and hopelessly tangled in elective torture.

Athena!  That was NOT Hemingway simple.  Yeah, well, guess what?  I’m NOT Earnest Hemingway.  I’m Athena Grace LMNOP.  And I’m trying so hard to be my best.  Hey!  In the reflection of my computer screen, I can see the dawning day out my kitchen window… hummingbirds zoom and buzz around the feeder, and then whizz off into the bright sky.  See?  This is the frivolous stuff that makes Life so heart-wrenchingly worth it.  Hummingbirds and glitter glue and breastfeeding.  Hemingway probably didn’t care much about such sacred frivolities.  And then he shot himself…

Anyway, my Relationship with Ed seems to be a masterfully threaded garland of perpetual disappointments lately.  I mean it’s sort of always been that way.  But it’s like God turned up the thermostat in the last few months.  I stand up, I get smacked down.  I stand up, I get smacked down.  It’s a broken record.  Except I can’t help but suspect that it is a very intelligently, intentionally broken record.  Akin to our beloved friend Lead… all this fierce and decimating heat… is making something so fabulous out of me.  But I HATE IT!!!!!!  Hahahaha, it feels so frickin good to tell it like it is.  THIS, my Friends, is precisely why the Buddha said that Life is suffering.  Trust me, you can get as new-age spiritual bypassy and far-out as you wanna… but at some point, you’re gonna land with a humbling thud, right back in the center of your unwieldy and intelligently merciless body, heart and Life.  And it will hurt.  And you will love anyway.  (At least that’s MY hypothesis…)

I watch my darling little ego struggle to maintain a *false* sense of control as she is pummeled and scorched and hopelessly deranged.  I try to “break through” with Ed… as I have done a hundred and eight times before.  As if that will permit me to “win” the Game.  I’m not saying that we should stay together…. I honestly have no clue what “should” happen.  What I do know, is that we care for each other deeply… we are eternally in Service to one anothers’ hearts… and most Hemingway simple, we have a child together, which will keep us practically bound for the rest of our lives.

I’m NOT politically inclined.  AT ALL.  But I’m no dummy.  Even with my head snuggled over here in this glittering, silky sand, I realize the World As We Know It is coming undone.  It fascinates me to witness collective consciousness, and how these universal energies and themes express and unravel so uniquely and creatively through each of our personal stories… We are ALL lead.  Go(l)d is beckoning us from Inside.  The heat is ON.  We need not fear, or try to be in control.  Love.  Love will show us the Way.  Love IS the Way.

I’ve always had this crippling tendency to want to BE THERE, without taking the (arduous) steps to get there.  No matter what the IT happens to be.  Lately it has been manifesting as impatience and a compelling itch to judge myself for not acting like the Master that I know I am Destined to become.  I want to be like Matt Kahn.  So fully given in Service of the Love that abides in all hearts… which is actually ONE HEART.  But instead I am riveted my little life, my futile battle in Relationship… And the endlessly gnawing question of how to become “Successful”… which to me looks like manifesting a career where I positively impact droves of hearts and make buttloads of money doing so.

Dear God… all these things I imagine to matter… that really don’t matter much at all.  Help me to be free, God.  Oh wait… YOU ARE.  THAT’S what this obliterating alchemy is all about.  And I have this idea like, if only I behaved like XYZ, it wouldn’t hurt so much.  But maybe there is no way to avoid pain.  Maybe pain is essential and holy.  Maybe I am doing it all PERFECT.

Maybe we ALL are.

And then she relaxed her body of sublimely sculpted stardust.  And then Infinity breathed her breath so slow and deep.  And Success gently danced down upon her like the first sparkling snowflakes of winter, cooly kissing an enchanted forest.

I might be clumsy more often then I want to… but my essential truth is that all of my efforts and my fierce will to LOVE is for US.  I’m certain that the Light will emerge victorious.  Success is Love.  Love is Life.  Life is breaking us down… And this is the BEST news EVER.

Keep the Faith, my Friends.   Go(l)d is ours Destiny… and an exquisite, bright dawn is whispering her ecstatic light in every heart.  I promise.

Someday VS. Now- A Bloody “Dual”

4-up on 3-26-16 at 10.13 AM

Committing words to this glowing slab of emptiness feels torturous as when I was nine and my mom would make me to clean my [atrociously messy] room.  But it’s been so long… and if I don’t give myself the opportunity to open up pour out the golden-chained codes of my Existence, they will tarnish and atrophy in the dungeons of my self-negating Silence.  So I push myself out from behind the curtain, shy and blinking in the bright spotlight.  I reach In.

Maybe the resistance is because my life feels so Saturnian these days.  Tethered.  Stable. Predictable, even.  As it should with a seven and a half month alive baby.  But the hallowed “secret” of being a writer with a poet’s heart (different than being a straight-up “poet”… because I don’t love to write “poetry” these days.  I like to LIVE poetry, and then write long-winded prose about it!!!  Haha, that’s hilarious….) is that when you take the time and care to give ANYTHING your full attention, its Divinity gently blooms.  And actually, this phenomena makes writing as essential as breathing… because it is no longer tolerable for the  Divinity of the World to remain clenched and trembling, as we all desperately limp toward our own illusory finish line.

My personal illusory finish line and I have been in quite a bloody tussle of late.  God, it’s so hard to relax into the implicit enoughness of this chapter of my Holy Existence.  Dissatisfaction is a smelly disease.  But the world who shimmers and taunts my drooling inner vision is masterfully seductive.  And I bet in actuality, it is just a benign and even “friendly” preview of coming attractions.  If only I would just relax and be the poster child of patience and satiation….

In this parallel dimension of my life, I am a Teacher and a Leader and a Writer, whose audience is broad.  I am THRIVING financially for the Gifts she offers.  I am boldly assured as Babe Ruth…. I step up to the plate; a gloriously empty conduit of the Universe, point to the exact address of Oblivion, where I intend to SMACK that small, hard ball.  I am a seamless ballerina, dancing to, with, AS the orchestra of Infinity.

SEE???  This is why I write!  Because just when I thought my existence was all tumbleweeds and endless, sandy cracks…. I take flight on invisible wings, and fill the sky with humming, neon shades of grace-full, booty-shakin grooves that would give Michael Jackson a run for his money.  (Yeah right, Athena…. MJ is Untouchable!…)(Well… so am I in my own right… Which is what I was saying, before I wandered off into the enchanted land of flashy, vivid metaphors.  I was saying that I keep getting seduced by a dazzling mirage of my Becoming, and it makes this slice of life pie that I’m currently breathing and bleeding and sweating and loving in seem insufficient.  And I know that’s bogus.

The frustrating thing is I can’t quite see how to get from “here” to “there”… other than to LOVE HERE.  To fully inhabit here.  To give my Holy ALL to here.  And while that’s actually more than enough…. it’s still cryptic to a slobbering, desperate ego.  I want to trust God with every fiber of my being.  Once and for all.  Wouldn’t that be so cool?  To be entirely relaxed and peaceful… Forever…?!  Now THAT’S a glamorous aspiration.

Someday I will be Great.  I am already Great.  Now on with the softly whispering song of my Real Life….

I finally hung my two hummingbird feeders yesterday.  Ed made me a gallon of magical, red elixir to feed them, and he put hooks in the overhang outside my kitchen window… months ago.  So it was a monumental occasion to finally get them up.  When the first hummingbird arrived, my life became more complete, and Heaven on Earth burst from her incognito confines, like an unopened can of bubbly beverage, shaken and released in sudden wet explosion.

A tiny frog has taken up residence in the corner of my toilet room…. which has a door that leads to my teensy, caterpillar-ransacked garden/tragically concrete “patio”.  I oft leave this door cracked in the name of sunlight and fresh air… and darling Mrs. Froggie seems to love this safe, cool, bug-laden corner of my hOMe.  I just peed, and noticed that she climbed the wall, and is now snuggled in the angular crevice, two feet above the floor!!!  I love her.  I really love her.

According to the Medicine Cards, frog represents the water element, and cleansing.  Replenishing.  Frog is the bringer of rain.  Yes, it’s true that my life feels dried out… doing the same things every day.  Frog is a reminder to take time for one’s self…. to replenish.  But how on earth do I do that, when I am single-handedly caring for a Tiny Goddess?  I can count the hours I’ve had help with Serena so that I could give to myself on one hand… (and still have two fingers left over!!)  I guess these quiet morning hours count for something.  I guess diving into my heart and filtering it through my mystical mind is worth at least a million Graceland-Bucks…. AND I am open to more.  More help.  More support.  AND I am so happy to spend my life caring for such a Radiant Goddess.  Serena becomes brighter by the second.  Everything captures her attention and seduces her fierce curiosity.

In other news, I went to the dentist a week and a half ago and they told me that I had TWELVE cavities, and a tooth that needs extraction.  As you can imagine, this news wrecked me.  So I gave up sugar and grains, and am consuming nutrient dense foods to heal my teeth.  We are suckas to believe in the legend that teeth can not heal.  They are just like bones.  We just need to support our bodies’ capacity to heal via diet.  I *never* thought I could give up sugar.  But faced with the reality of losing my teeth, the choice was suddenly a no-brainer.  Pretty awesome.  As an added bonus, I am beginning to feel like pure Light.  Sugar tastes good… But being an embodied superheroine tastes even better.  As does grass-fed butter, which is one of the primary recommended foods to consume for healing teeth!!!!!

I’m proud of myself.

And the last thing I’ll share, is that I finally washed Serena’s cloth diapers for the first time in a week and a half.  I WAS washing them every two-three days… but she’s mostly potty trained now!  At seven and a half months.  OmMyGod, you should see her sitting on her little pink potty.  She looks so tiny and precious… it would destroy you.  It destroys me every time.  She loves to look at books as she perches there.  Little cardboard books with pictures of animals in them.  Seeing puppies and polar “boozles”, she squeaks with refined delight and smiles the smile that I’m sure God smiled to create the World.  Pure, electric effulgence.

Not long before Serena landed in my womb, I declared on Facebook that I aspired to be a “HouseWife”.  Many of the Housewives out there chortled at my dream, informing me that it was grueling, unglamorous work, for which you rarely get acknowledged.  I didn’t care.  It called me forth.  Now, here I am, inhabiting this profoundly mundane, though somehow alluring vocation from the Inside.  And it’s true.  It’s really not glamorous.  But it is rudimentarily satisfying… simmering bone broth on the stove for twenty-four hours, sweeping and vacuuming the incessantly dirty floors, scrubbing the toilet with baking soda, vinegar and essential oils, devotionally making baby food from scratch, and being married to washing dishes.

I guess it’s inevitable that that which calls me forth will dawn in it’s perfectly divine time.  This is the nature Life.  This is the Play of God.

And this is the Queen of Graceland pouring love on your exquisite heart….

Talk to you soon Beloved.

Subtle, Soft-Spoken, Unfurling Enlightenment

It’s five thirteen am.  My body feels stiff as the tin-woods-woman.  My lips burn like they aspire to be chapped.  I want to say something profound, and this desire is corralling my my mind and crippling my fingertips.  So instead I’ll just breathe and keep letting go into the river of words and worlds ripe to pour upon the page.

I just thought of Dan, and how deeply he believed in my writing and my heart.  I will dedicate this blog to him.  I will reveal myself without judgement, as I imagine his devastatingly gentle face flooding the sky and beaming upon me.  I’d sure give my right nut to know what his soul is up to these days.  If I had a right nut… but I’m not ready to give away my ovaries… because I still have hope for one more child.

I’m house and pet sitting for my land-people for two weeks, which basically means that I am suddenly SO abundant that I have TWO HOUSES, two dogs, two cats, three angel fish, a massive trampoline and an even heftier pile of chores.  Yes, and of course a luminous baby…

While I was out walking the dogs yesterday afternoon, I was thinkin’ on spiritual attainment, and how it’s not what I ever imagined it to be.  It is so ordinary.  I mean, I honestly feel pretty secure and relaxed in the all-pervading presence of God… but it’s not wildly “exciting” in the way of flashing lights, rushes of luscious ecstasy, or mystic visions.  I often refer to the whole “chop wood and carry water” saying, because it is so true.  Or Jack Kornfield’s book, “After Ecstasy, The Laundry”.  This IS “It”, folks.  This is Heaven.  This is Nirvana.  There is no “finish line” to anticipate… where bells sound and balloons and confetti rain up your wide-splayed crown chakra.   Or perhaps there will be… but who really cares? Self Realization is an ever-expanding spiral of blessed, breathing presence.

I marvel at witnessing Serena blossom day by day, like an exquisite lotus.  It’s strange.  Flowers are so remarkable… because they come and go in such a brief burst of the Miraculous… every stage of their holy becoming is whole and complete in its beauty and delight (yes, even the poetic, wilting decline).  We are like that too.  Life seems long… and in a way it IS.  But from some other cosmic vantage point… like maybe smiling Dan in the sky, it is just as heart-shatteringly fleeting as an ecstatic bloom.  The rose was always a rose… And WE are always Divine.  Even when we act like dummies because we are in pain.

The feeling while I was walking was this subtle whisper of perceiving the World new… like even though it seems to appear as it has always been… I saw a hint of freshness sparkling in everything.  And I knew that my consciousness is secretly unfurling in the way of Realization.  But it is so quiet and gentle… and just enough.  Not too much, like a kamikaze kundalini krisis (had to go all Ks!…)  It’s a garland of increasing mOMents of blessed knowing of the perfection of Life.  And trust me, these lucid mOMents are so precious… in contrast to the mOMents where I am climbing my own walls, wishing things were different.  Wishing that Ed and I were together, living as one happy family.  I believe that the lucid, free moments will continue to increase until they are one wide open vista of relaxed presence. And even then, my divinity will continue to reveal and express in ever-new and glorious ways!

But THIS moment is rad.  Lola the cat just snuggled into my lap.  My tea cup is half… full?  Empty?  You decide!  But it still has tea in it!!!  The morning is so quiet and it still belongs to ME.  MINE.  And then I breathe so deep, and all this incognito miraculous ness expands into itself, like the serpent eating it’s tail.

If this isn’t enlightenment… My name isn’t Rumplestiltskin!!!!

It’s been amazing with Ed.  Our Relationship is such a powerful gauge of the integration of this said Realization.  Over time, I have seen that the more I open my heart, and let Love lead the Way, the more HE manifests in my reality as his highest Self.  This is such an exciting game!… witnessing some guy you once perceived as so… ordinary… become a buddha, become a God. (In all his glorious ordinariness!!) To witness his wings shyly spread and consume the sky.  I came so close to giving up on him a thousand times over.  But for some reason, I was not able to… and now he’s unfolded his divinity in astonishing dimensions, and this is just the beginning.  After all, God’s domain is Infinity.

I want to testify in favor of choosing a Man who is not “transformed” or “spiritual”.  In the Bay Area, there is such a buzz around these labels.  It’s quite a phenomenal culture for a spiritual ego… with all these holier than Thou ways to assess others’ “qualifications”… But the danger of such sport, is that 88% of the time, you’re not getting The Real Thing.  You’re just getting an ego structure that has tethered itself to a set of self-righteous ideas and protocols.  They have the script down, and can easily feed you (and themselves) a heaping dose of masterful, sparkling, hollow spiritual bullshit.

Eeeeek!  I just realized that I’m treading water out in the middle of the dangerously vast “Lake Conceptual”.  Would I dare to wrap the Baby Jesus in that semi-soft, blanket statement??  Probably not.  But I will say this~  I often appreciate that Ed does not have any scripts of a “Transformed Spiritual Man”.  Often, when our conversations go off-roading through treacherous terrain, he goes Silent.  Because he doesn’t have a script to cling to and hide behind.  And because (to my recurring dismay, he isn’t as quick as… ahem… “some”, at articulating his innermost feelings.  Instead he draws deeply into himself, seeming to disappear for a time.  But when he pops back out into shared reality, he has something genuine and meaningful to say.  Sometimes I find his shares disappointingly simple… but I’ve come to recognize that there is mastery in his simplicity.

As our love matures and refines, I see his essence clarifying like a rare jewel.  Again and again, I must surrender to the imperfection of our circumstances, choosing to invest ALL OF MY FAITH in God’s perfectly unfurling Plan.  This morning, this breath… I return to profound, all-pervading Rightness.  In this mOMent, I fully trust that I am exactly where I need to be, by the Grace of God.  I trust that all of my deepest dreams are blossoming through me in their sublimely perfect Time.  I am willing to relax my body and let Life unravel me and shower me with Grace.

Amen.

Life, Death and Loving Loneliness

I’m sitting here staring into space, groping to mentally corral the current textures of my life… Spontaneously, I drew in a deep breath, and I was saved.  Overall, it’s beautiful and abundant and wildly blessed.  And also lonely and exhausting.  One inner dimension of me feels threadbare.  Another, soft and bright like the dawn.  God is vast.

One of the things that struck me about giving birth, was that no matter how many loving supportive people were by my side, (which in my case was Ed, Catherine Stone, Deirdre, Dara, Ken, Cindy the nurse, and Brooke the Midwife… HA!  SEVEN!!!  Jesus… way too many😉 ultimately, it was a journey that I had to make alone.  You could argue that I made it with Serena and with God… In a way that was utterly true… but at a very basic, stripped down level, I was alone.  No one could take away the immense and constant pain.  I had to dive straight into it.  I shared this perspective with Catherine Stone (my doula) after the fact, and she said dying is the same.  No matter who is by your side, you must let go of the body and walk into the Light alone.

Birth.  Death.  And Life… In Life, (like I mentioned in my last blog, I see Life as a synonym for God, so it’s only natural to capitalize it.) I am surrounded by so many bright and loving souls.  SO MANY.  And yet, often I still feel so alone.  Some people seem to delight in their aloneness…. But for me… it feels wrought with polarity.  I spend a lot of time alone… and I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert.  And yet, sometimes I ache in my aloneness.  I long to be as close with another as two “ones” can possibly be.  I guess that’s why Ed and I spent so much time just holding each other, back in the days when our daily lives were a tighter weave.  Our warm, pulsing bodies entwined, sharing breath, my heart pouring open, feeling the ultimate, intimate sense of Belonging.  But the shadow side of this merged perfection is codependence.  Which has been its own unraveling labyrinth in my life.  So here I am, inside the construct of a Life scenario where I don’t have the option to collapse into default codependence.  Woo-hoo.

Ultimately, I WANT to feel so entirely at peace and whole in myself… (sometimes I DO… but those moments tend to slip by in an incognito state of Unity…)   But… there’s a way in which meeting my ache and longing over and over and over and over again feels like slogging through the desert.  Is this why I want a family so bad???  So that I don’t have to feel these arduous feelings of slow burning longing…?  Wow… I thought I wanted a family (“a family”= a husband and two children… and hopefully some furry animals… and I DON’T mean furry spiders, which are abundant around my hOMe and sorta freak me out, even though I mostly love spiders…) because  it was my heart and soul’s Truth.  But what if it was just to avoid these intense feelings??  It’s still inconclusive… but just in case that IS the case, I’m gonna practice saying YES to this experience in it’s subtly excruciating entirety.  I’m sure that the “meaning of my life” is to dare to love everything that arises.  After all, if we are “made in the image and likeness of God”, then this MUST be our highest calling as human beings.  Because God certainly loves the pants off ALL of it.  (Sorta like when I took my jade heart necklace away from Serena the other night at bed time, and her dark, heart-shaped lips spilled into a perfect little frown as a prelude to gloriously impassioned tears… and witnessing this made my heart explode open and I couldn’t help but laaaaugh at the poetic artistry of her self expression.)

I love how easy it is for me to spiral into esoteric, philosophical realms!  I totally meant to talk about super basic dimensions of my life.  Like how Serena is suddenly exploding into so much exponential growth, and she’s becoming more and more of an ecstatic handful, who reaches for and grabs everything.  She (to my surprise) loooooves the water!!  I took her to Cate and Jenny’s pool party on saturday, and I was amazed by her impassioned splashing and kicking.  She became vivacious in the water.  She’s not like that in the bath… When I first put her in the tub, expecting her to be a natural born mermaid like her mama, she looked more like a petrified mouse, about to be seized in the merciless talons of death.  She got all stiff and made prey faces.  But she might have mermaid blood yet!  I also took her for a River quickie yesterday, and was surprised that even though it was COLD, she became ecstatic.  We sat on a rock in the gentle rapids, and she kicked and splashed and explored the nature and essence of the quick, crystalline water.  I remember last September, being nice and pregnant, and going to that same spot, submerging and praying for a smooth, “easy” (ha!) birth… sitting on the smooth, flat rock, as the singing liquid grace poured around me, opening my body to this force of powerful flow.  Time is profound.  Riding the spiral merry-go-round of Life… visiting and revisiting the same locations, emotionally and physically, again and again… yet perceiving them from a constantly evolving consciousness… an aging body, a ripening heart, an unfurling ego.  Reminds me of the book, “The Giving Tree”… Even when she was just a lonesome stump, she was so full of grace.  Ha!  I hope that’s what “they” write on my tombstone…

It’s a new day… and I don’t feel as intimate with the texture of loneliness as I did yesterday… which is a bit of a relief.  But speaking of grace, I really DO aim to be so gracious when that all-too-familiar feeling arises.  Matt Kahn, my “Team Captain”, as Erika refers to him (!!!), says that I can love every feeling that arises like it has NEVER been loved before.  And I know I can!  I have so much love in my heart.  Enough love to saturate this entire world, and watch it be triumphantly restored to the Heaven it has always been.  I’m sure of this.

At six months, Serena is finally growing hair.  It’s in this wildly adorable phase right now, where it is a fine coat of soft fur.  I loooove to pet it.  I love her fat, squishy arms!  (and legs…)  I love the way she gets so still and quiet when I put her facing me in the Ergo carrier… and her serious, inquisitive, wise, (plump, drooping cheeked) and open face just takes in the world.  I have to constantly remind myself that it will not always be like this.  Someday, she’ll be too big to ride in a baby carrier… and maybe someday she’ll even be embarrassed by me.  And yet, we’ll still be on that spiral merry-go-round, circling the same locations, physically, emotionally,  mentally… watching everything change, and yet somehow stay the same.

I don’t feel like I hit the bullseye with this blog.  Like you could read it, and still not fully know me… Though I did offer some rich and true and beautiful morsels… I guess that’s why people write BOOKS instead of just long, sprawling shorties.  I wish I could so graciously empty my innermost self onto this page for you to intimately encounter…  Why?  Because if “Life” is “God”, then “Intimacy” is the experiencing of Life/God.  And all I can offer is ME.  And perhaps this naked me can open you deeper to the raw joy and pain and beauty of your Holy Existence.

Maybe I didn’t hit the bullseye… but I showed up and shared something of myself.  And I will continue to do so, always aspiring to use my Life to illuminate and liberate your courageous, profound and essential heart.  Because I can.

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Humility Dawns in Athena Graceland

I don’t feel very inspired to write… but what if I never feel inspired again, and my whole life zooms by and anonymously folds back into the earth and smears across the star-strewn sky, and my utterly profound and meaningful existence is devoured by the perpetually ravenous wolves of forgetfulness?….

This lonely little blog is like a log cabin nestled deep in the woods.  Mostly it just lives it’s own secret, self sufficient life… but every once in a while, a straggling adventurer notices the smoking chimney, the succulent scent of boozle chip cookies baking in the oven, (I call Serena “Boozle”… but it’s become akin to how the Smurfs use the word “smurf” as a verb, a noun, an adjective…. I truly amuse myself!  But even funnier, is how my Ma used to be like, “What do you mean, ‘you’re about to take a boozle??”… She just didn’t get it.  And then one day, she nonchalantly used the word in a perfectly slanted and appropriately inappropriate context… and I felt tickled and proud.  This is how all language evolves, right?… Somebody makes random sounds as though they know what the F they’re talking about… and the flock just goes along with it as though it were the Word of Boozle Almighty😉

Where was I?  We were wandering through the “woulds”, seduced by the deep caramel scent of boozle chip cookies… Okay, I declare myself officially inspired!!  Now… what is essential for you to know about this modest little Divine Existence over here??

I have been hard at work, digesting expectations and hopes and disappointments of what I thought my life was supposed to be… and gradually and authentically landing in the soft, sacred center of what my life actually IS.  NO!  I refuse to say “It is what it is”!!!  That’s one of the official, most worn out Ananda cliché phrases.  I find it amusing and curious how little cultures and deep grooves of collective habit form amongst groups of people… Maybe my life “is what it is”…  and maybe IT’S NOT!!!  But honestly, it probably isn’t what it isn’t… so where does that leave me???

It leaves me here on my disturbingly ugly, but mostly comfortable, BROWN (bleck), well-worn Ikea couch, in the shy light of early morning, bathed in passive stillness, reflecting on my life… and realizing that I mostly loooove the pants off it.  In fact, yesterday I was suddenly bursting with gratitude, in a similar fashion to the ache that over-takes my boobs sometimes, when they get too full of milk and need to be relieved by a tiny, moist, hungry boozle mouth… Yes, I get almost painfully bursting with invisible goodness, except it doesn’t hurt.  It feels… like my heart is the sun, and it is intimately contacting every pore and cell of Creation with it’s warm, bright Life.

“On paper”, my life is so plain and simple… and dare I say, imperfect!  I would never have dreamed that I would be experiencing this caliber of joy, delight and fulfillment as a result of being a single mama, nestled mostly anonymously in the woods, bobbing in a sea of endless chores and duties… But what it really is, is that I’ve worked SO FREAKING HARD in the pursuit of Truth… I’ve cried, sweated, bled and broken a bazillion times over.  And now… suddenly my spiritual practice is an unbroken and grace-full continuum of love-inspired BEing.  Do I meditate?  Yes… in everything I do.  Do I say mantra?  Yes… in every loving word that I am blessed to speak.  Haha, that makes me sound too perfect.  I’m a totally fallible human, just like you!  But Love is dawning in my heart, and shedding her gentle, fresh, innocent light on everything.  Even the hard moments, and the jagged feelings.  Because I know that my only job here is to give my ALL in the name of LOVE.

That’s it.

Serena has been a huge catalyst.  Because she is pure joy.  She wakes up in the morning, sees me, and her face LIGHTS UP.  And all day long she just Buddhas it up.  Pure, awakened, engaged, peaceful, seamless, authentic being.  She’s such a happy, trusting, deep, curious, passionate person (kinda like her mom…).  Being with her ignites my heart in rainbow flames.

On Wednesdays I make soup in my “Shakti Pot” and deliver it to people in the community.  This week was my biggest order ever~ thirty three servings!!!  I had three pots going on the stove.  I worked from about 8am until every jar was delivered, at around 5:40pm (17:40, as Ed would say).  Of course I took as many Boozle breaks as necessary to make sure the Tiny Goddess was fed, rested and happy.  But still… I was jammin’.  I made an african peanut veggie lentil stew with coconut milk.  That seems to be the unanimous favie.  People dig their sweet, decadent creamy.  It’s primal.  Like breast milk.  Everyone loooooved it.  And at the end of the day, I felt so freakin satisfied.  I put my tired, tragically patient Boozle to bedsie, and devotionally cleaned up my kitchen area, which by the way, looks out on trees and sky and setting sun.  I guess the feeling in my body was Alignment… like I am pouring myself into something that is… “right”… somehow.  It just feels right.

The rightness surprises me, because I always thought I’d be “someone”… someday.  A well-known writer, a leader, a teacher… And here I am, a “Soup Maker”.  Ha!!!  It’s so funny.  It could only be God’s favorite joke!  But what I am truly, experientially realizing, is that it’s not WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it.  I give EVERYTHING to my “Shakti Pot”.  And I give everything to my Life. (And I believe that “Life” is actually a synonym for “God”, but that’s an entire blog unto itself…)  I do my best to love whatever arises… to bring great energy into my heart, so that it infuses my soup, my life and the world.  And people feel it.  And I know that my love makes a difference.  (As does yours, I hope you know!…)

From this place of dawning humility, I realize that if it is my Destiny to be a well known writer, a leader, a teacher…. it won’t be because I need to “prove myself”.  Because this chapter is teaching me that my love is truly, deeply enough.  Come what may…

It’s just like Rumi says, “Let the beauty you love be what you do”… That just means, let your inner beauty ooze out like honeyed perfume and infuse everything you encounter.  It means let your life be a continuum of profound and simple intimacy with ALL.  Be willing to love and to lose and to LIVE.

This is Grace.

And this is Athena Grace, signing off and wishing you the blessing of a gently blooming heart…

PS– Here is the *perfect* example of how utterly fallible I can be– I wrote the first half of this blog yesterday.  Then Serena woke up, and I was sucked into the powerful machine of motherlife.  Last night, Ed called me and we spoke briefly.  Then he had to go, because he just had a few minutes in the car, before he got home and had to go be that other guy in that other life… I felt dismissed, secondary… My heart broke.  Which then caused his to break.  We both went to sleep bleeding.  I woke up sore… but I still chose to keep on with the continuum of this piece of writing, despite the thorn lodged in my heart.  Writing it has once again pointed me due north.  My job is to LOVE the one who feels dismissed and secondary.  To love the pain until it is obliterated in the light that I AM.  You see, I fall!!!  But I pick my heart up like a baby bird, fallen from her nest, and cradle it with so much care and kindness, and it all always works out.

The Silver Whisper of Mortality

On my thirty third birthday, to my delight, I discovered my first white hair.  It was shorter than the rest, and reached skyward like a little fairy antennae.  Every time I looked at it, I felt a sense of soulful relief that I was finally growing into my Self.  The Self who had toiled and ached in the gaping chasm between the wisdom of my soul and the limitations of my sparse experience as a twenty-something years alive humanoid on planet Earth.  (I still marvel at those who feel that their twenties are the best years of their life!!!  Unfathomable…)  My white hair was a prized trophy.  Actually, Ed told me to call it “silver”.  That does sound more glamorous… so let’s go with that… makes it sound like I could take it to the bank or use it for alchemical wizardry…

After not TOO much time, I got tired of the way it refused to blend with the flock, and I impulsively plucked it, convinced that soon enough, more would come.  They didn’t.  Until a couple weeks ago.  And THIS time, three years later, my response to this burgeoning silvered, wiser version of myself is not nearly as insouciant.  Actually, the contrast is remarkable.  This time I am the mother of a five month alive goddess… And I feel suddenly OLD.  I have felt worn ragged since she came.  I hope it passes.  I have been living in an incessant state of mild to spicy exhaustion.  My yoga practice has spilled between the cracks in my whittled down, practical existence, as I prioritize money making endeavors, basic hygiene and hOMe maintenance.  And when I DO exercise, it’s walking with a seventeen pound sack of Boozle strapped to me.  God, I feel like I leave a trail of foot-shaped craters in my wake!  My knees creak and groan precariously as I crouch up and down while cleaning houses, wearing my daughter.  And best of all is the steady numbness in my thumb, pointer and middle finger, from the sudden flair up of postpartum carpal tunnel!

It actually feels ridiculous to be writing this.  I never imagined that I’d tell it on a mountain about falling apart and “feeling old”.  I’m hoping that it’s a fleeting, short-lived experience resulting from the Xtreme sport of being a new mom.  A SINGLE new mom at that.  And a *relatively* poor one a that.  Actually, I do not consider myself poor.  I feel pretty wealthy.  But not wealthy enough to thrust heaps of cash at a babysitter while I go off and get a nice, deep, luxurious massage, or weekly acupuncture… or even… mmmm… a swim a the local pool.  Now I’m drooling.

Serena is becoming more and more awake and engaged… and I am humbled.  Gone are the days when she’d just sleep like a little dense loaf of heaven, and I could get on with my romanticized existence as a new mother.  Nope.  Welcome to the version of reality where I am mostly busting my butt to earn money while constantly attending to Serena, and keeping myself and my home in a moderate state of loveliness.  Oh… and at least dabbling in staying connected to others.

If my life was a piece of music…. God, there are so many different instruments playing, and weaving together a very eclectic strand of melodies and diverse tones.  Loneliness moans from deep down in my heart like a wailing saxophone.  I thought I was ok with loneliness by now.  I used to be afraid to admit Her presence, for fear of frightening others even further away from me.  But over time, I realized that loneliness is an inevitable guest who visits everyone from time to time… no big deal.  Lately though, I have not been such a gracious hostess… because while She has mostly been a respectful guest who doesn’t overstay her welcome, recently she seems to have set up camp.  I guess She needs a lot of my loving attention.  Sigh.  I often feel frustrated that I am a single mom.  Even though I chose it, I find myself longing to do it with Ed… Imagining a highly glamorous rendition of intimacy, witnessing the child we created out of our potent, devoted love, unfurl and blossom every day… Being kissed and held… Leaving Serena with him while I went to my weekly yoga class… Writing about this is causing the gravitational field in my heart to become crushing.

But back to the symphony singing in me.  There is a brass section, that is crashing triumph!  This experience has catalyzed the lazy, inert dimensions of me to WAKE UP and get groovin!  A deep part of me was yearning to get unstuck… crying out for the grace of something that mattered enough to compel me to bleed and sweat and make shit happen.  Silver hairs or not, if I was babyless, I’d still be draped on the figurative chaise lounge, eating organic bonbons and watching new-age soap operas.  Ha!  Actually, my LIFE is a bit of a new-age soap opera…. I remember one time, about three years ago, I was getting ready to leave my Ma’s house, and return back to my lovely art deco apartment in the Land of Oaks… and my Ma said to her cat, “Jupi, say bye to Athena… She’s going back to her soap opera now.”  This comment simultaneously agitated me and cracked me UP!!!  There was too much truth to it to be casually dismissed.  But thankfully, over time, my Ma graduated my existence to the status of a full on OPERA.  A classier production with bold, heart-wrenching music and exquisite costumes…  I wonder what she’d deem this current incarnation.  Now there’s not enough frivolous time to flop around and squeeze drama from the cracks in my life.  My days are a steady stream of rigorous output.  But somehow still colorful, because come on, it’s Graceland!  Anyway, a deep part of me feels profoundly satisfied to be working so hard, and experiencing myself as boundless and powerful.

And yet… simultaneously, there is a part of me who is really getting off on feeling like a victim!  I don’t know what instruments would sound for this section of my inner musical landscape….?  Oh duh!  VIOLINS.  Tons of them!!  Pooooor Athena.  She has to do it all by herself.  There is nobody to hold her baby.  Her body aches and she’s exhausted and it never stops.  It’s weird, but I can actually feel myself ENJOYING feeling sorry for myself in some moments!  Even as I am concurrently feeling empowered and strong.  I tell you this, because I feel a passionate call to bust through the collectively constructed myth that a person must be all streamline and tidy on the inside.  NO WAY.  We each have so many dimensions singing up from within us, all at once.  And they don’t have to agree or make any semblance of sense.  And yet, even inside this miraculous cacophony, we can still be graceful and at peace.

If you don’t know this about me yet, I love my stories to have “morals”.  Not the kind of morals that measure your worthiness or acceptability… but the kind that invite you to look inside and touch your own humanity and divinity in an intimate and meaningful way.  Modern day parables!  I’m a messy, modern day Jesus!  Haha!!!  But seriously, Jesus taught the masses to love everyone.  And I am suggesting that the precursor to that illuminated stance, is to love everyone who lives inside of YOU.  I believe in the dawning of a world of peace and harmony… because it is rising soft and radiant in my own heart and life.  And it is highly contagious.

Amen.

Taking Sweet Refuge in Athena Graceland

I’ve been blessed with a stellar opportunity to write six *paid!* articles on motherhood, for a chiropractor friend’s website.  I’ve written four so far, and I have been very satisfied with them.  But then Serena turned four months alive, and suddenly my brain has gone missing!  The fifth one was gonna be about the immense potential of raising a girl, given all that I have gone through on my journey, and can now offer to her as profound empowerment.  And how this empowerment can ultimately heal and transform the world in the way of LOVE.  I am so ignited by this “sermon”… but somehow, despite the well of passion pressing on my heart from inside, I am failing hard!  I have written it FOUR times.  Each flush contains exquisite gems… but…  I feel like I am trying to decant the Ocean in a flimsy crystal champagne flute, which is a massive endeavor… and then my little Buddha-fairy calls to me from the bedroom and my concentration on this task is decimated.  My mind is a freshly shattered mirror, and when you try to behold your own face within it, you have a thousand eyes and a hundred and eight gaping, perplexed mouths.  Which might be interesting for a second, but ultimately, you need a soft, linguistic sanctuary for your mind to rest after bushwhacking through the underbrush of popular culture and wifi signals, concrete and an overpopulation of stiff right angles!  On one hand, it’s wildly frustrating… but it’s also pretty fascinating.  It’s a new experience for me to feel so clumsy with words and ideas.

So Athena Graceland is once again my hallelujah-refugee camp.  A place where I don’t have to make sense, or sound erudite and literarily competent.  (Although I often do…just by accident! ;)  The only requirement here in this psychedelic wilderness, is to BE ME, which thankfully, I can still muster, even as the mother of a four and a half month alive baby saint.  You think I’m kidding… I’m not.  I’m pretty sure all baby saints behaved as Serena does… with so much grace and patience, effulgent joy and serenity.  Yep, Saint Serena is super rad and I’m marinating in thanksgiving.  But this doesn’t make the job of caring for her any less labor intensive.  God, my body feels suddenly OLD!  Creaky and sore and weatherbeaten.  Is this why women are supposed to have babies at twenty, rather than thirty six??  Or is it just because I am doing it 98% alone, while earning a meager living doing physically demanding jobs, such as cooking and cleaning, which a) takes it’s toll, and b) doesn’t leave me excess cash flow to fund such replenishing activities as massage, yoga classes, luxurious laps at the local pool…. I still have hope for these things and more.  They would do me oodles of good.

I wish I was bringing in plentiful dollars via the use of my incredible mind and courageous, infinitely loving heart, versus my poor tin-woods-woman body, which has hopelessly misplaced the oil can right about now.  I have so many gifts and talents of the heart and mind… but I just haven’t quite figured out how to “monetize them”… and honestly, writing that made me puke in my mouth, because I still feel grossed out that I should have to monetize my love.  I just want it to happen for me like it happened for my all-time-hero, Matt Kahn.  He totally “seeked ye first the kingdom of Heaven”…. and all else was added unto him.  He didn’t sit around strategizing who his target audience of wounded SUCKAS was, and how to seduce their imagined weakness.  He tended the garden of his heart with steadfast, meticulous passion and suddenly… POOF!!!  Life demanded that he share all that he found with those who were hungry to Remember.  That’s the only way life makes sense to me.  I will just keep stepping deeper into LOVE… and my life will become what it must, as I die to myself and am ever re-born into the heart of Infinity.  I just can’t stomach all that marketing bullshit.  It’s basically feeding off of peoples’ culturally conditioned myths of brokenness, and capitalizing on it!!!!  That’s not okay with me.  I’d rather make them soup in my Shakti Pot, and just get by….

But I know there’s another way.  I know there’s a way for us all to thrive by communing in our Infinite Light… Celebrating our unique, masterful divinity….

In the mean time, I am chopping the shit out of wood and carrying the F out of water.

And I am mostly hella happy.  My body is just a bit stressed.  And I am feeling stretched.  And as aforementioned, my mind is curiously shattered… at least when I put pressure on myself to make sense… cuz this makes sense, right?  It makes perfect sense to ME…

Saint Serena the Benevolent is really allowing me to get into it this morning!!!… which is another ridiculous irony.  When I’m trying to write my articles, she wakes up before I can pull my mind together into a unified field of genius… But when I’m writing for my own cosmic shits and giggles, she snoozes away like Sleeping Beauty!  But I’m just watching the whole insane play unfold… and laughing about it all.  Even when I cry.  Like yesterday evening…

I had just led sadhana… (The two hours a week that I exist as Athena Grace… Not “Serena’s Mama”.)  I was walking along the red dirt path back to my car, who I named “Faith”, but my Ma insists on calling “Hakim”, because the license plate says HKM!!!!!  That woman amazes me in the best way…  Because her gratuitous rebellion simultaneously PISSES ME OFF and CRACKS ME UP.  Like, Mom, can’t you just call the damn car Faith, already???  And also, don’t stop calling her Hakim, because it strikes up a symphony of funny bones in me, that ONLY my Ma is able to….

But, so, (yes, I know it’s not traditionally “literarily masterful” to start a sentence with “But, so,”… but it felt like the appropriate beginning, so I went with it.) the evening is IN-TOX-I-CATING.  It’s not quite twilight…. But the world is beginning to blush in cool, ultra lucid tones.  Flocks of regal pine trees sweep the deepening sky, and the air feels like womb-esque perfection– neither warm nor cold, just deliciously alive.  This unsayable beauty suddenly reminds me of a poem written by my deceased friend and lover Dan… Something about realizing the meaninglessness of all that he once feverishly chased… uniting with the Truth of Existence– to bear ecstatic witness to the Light that fills the world each new day.

I start to feel the Dan shaped hole in my heart, tears sting my eyes, and I release myself into the heart of the emotion, like a white dove, tossed into the air, suddenly liberated in the invisible currents of space.  I reflect on the amazing conversations we shared over amazing food and wine, long, meandering walks on blessed beaches, through holy woods and vibrant green scapes of scintillating springtime.  And also the ways that he annoyed me– sometimes talking for days, as though he’d never been listened to in his whole life, which flooded me with a helpless feeling of energetically drowning in seemingly endless and desperate garlands of (beauty-full) words, worlds, stories.  This twisty, frivolous wander backward caused  me to muse… what WAS it about Dan???…. that compelled me with such immensity…?  His HEART, the immediate knowing flooded in.  His heart was the softest, most gentle, wise, generous compassionate space in all Creation.  Resting in its sanctuary was like being swaddled in chinchilla fur.  I could cry now, just thinking of his heart.  And his voice reflected it perfectly.  So soft, soothing, gentle.  Ok, now I am officially crying.  And his hands…. perfect extensions of his wide, infinite heart.  They spilled with healing love.  They touched to the core, without even trying.

Then I thought about all the hearts that I get to commune with every day of my life…. Legendary hearts.  And I’m not exaggerating.   My Ma.  Ed.  Serena.  Ken.  Dara.  Deirdre.  Karuna.  Gosh, it’s stupid to list them, because the list would never end.  I am lucid dreaming in an explosive eternal spring garden of glorious hearts.  My life is a stream of holy communion (sometimes playfully concealed by silly “problems”, misgivings and futile hopes…)

I am laughing at the one who used to believe that spiritual awakening would be like getting high… Like if I “meditated hard enough”, my third eye would explode into a psychedelic fractal of kaleidoscopic lights, and my body would rush and dissolve in tingling ecstasy.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, that would be pretty damn cool…  But I’m not renouncing my miraculously mundane existence in this Garden of Hearts, in order to stalk that fleeting, unsustainable “peak experience”.  I remember when I heard the spiritual AllStar, Wayne Dyer say, “Man must chop wood and carry water”… I was like hella bummed.  I secretly hoped he might be wrong.  Chopping wood and carrying water seemed a prison sentence to me.

But here I am, chopping the shit out of wood and carrying the F out of water….

And feeling more sustained, mellow ecstasy, contentment and peace than I ever imagined I could.

And maybe SOMEday, somehow, I will find myself delightfully inhabiting a version of my perfectly blessed life, where I am abundantly sustained by the gifts of my heart and mind, as I blissfully serve the bursting hearts of Humanity.  That would be so awesome.

Amen.

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