Paradox and Wanting

I feel like picking a fight with someone today.  Anyone.  But mostly, it’s God whose bone I most want to strip bare.  Mostly I have been so blasted patient about this whole Self realization business.  But today, I have hit my limit.  I get frustrated, meditating every day and waiting for some kind of reply to plummet from heaven and splat me ecstatic… and meanwhile, toiling away in this world of strife.  Is it really a world of strife, or am I just being dramatic?  It is both.  But God?  Please come closer to me today.

I can’t think of anything to write about.  Honestly, I woke up this morning, thinking I must be living a lie.  I dedicate so much time and care to this blog… at least two hours a day.  And then an average of twenty people read it every day… I wonder why I keep doing it… Why do I keep doing it?  Because these words make me feel real.  Because to me, this life thing is so odd and confounding… and even the most mundane happenings of my sheltered day to day experience seem so far fetched, mostly… and if I don’t write it all down, it will inconspicuously sail down life’s toilet in a great, anticlimactic whirlpool, only to be sucked back into the great, black-assed Beyond, from whence it must have sprung.  Is it just my unconscious fear of death then, that compels me to write?  Because I want to live beyond my fleeting, insignificant little life?  Why am I so existential?  Why couldn’t I have been born normal, like all you accountants and paralegals and milk maids?

I know, I know, you milk maids are anything but normal.  My friend has a magnet on her fridge that says, “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well”.  Touche.

I need a savior today.  This needing a savior business is a slippery slope, because usually I try to make Mykael my savior… but truth be told, he makes a crumby savior.  Which I guess is a good thing… since a woman oughtn’t cling to her man like an f-ing messiah in the first place.  Why, you ask?  Because it is a suffocating way to live.  It strangles the relationship.

This is a first:  I actually left café five oh four in mid blog.  Suddenly I couldn’t stand being in the shadows on such a sunny day.  I couldn’t stand the erratic jazz music polluting my ears.  And mostly, I couldn’t stand the cacophony inside me.  I am about to bleed, btw.  I’ve heard other women say that they turn to mush right before they bleed.  You know, lose that gracious mechanism of linear thinking and rational relations with the rules and regulations of the outside world.  Caterpillars turn to mush before their bodies re-form as butterflies.  Maybe women move between fat, squishy worm, chrysalis and butterfly every single month.  That would be nice!  If I was about to sprout big, striking wings that looked like light explosions in the MOMA!

Speaking of light explosions, yesterday evening, Mykael and I were walking down Grand Avenue (wandering purposefully toward Boot and Shoe Service for a second helping of the good time we had the night before, which I’m embarrassed to admit, but I will anyway, because life is too short for me to pretend I’m other than I am.)  Anyway, Mykael pointed to the big, dramatic stormish clouds and said, “Do you see the rainbows?!”  I looked, and was only blinded by the obnoxious sunlight pouring through them.  “Nope,” I answered.  He handed me his sunglasses (I never wear sunglasses, because I like the light too much).  “Here, look through these.”  I did, and the edges of the clouds suddenly looked like oil stained puddles, hosting ostentatious rainbows!  THIS IS NOT AN EXAGERATION.  Sometimes as a writer, I take poetic license, naturally.  Duh, you would too.  But NOT THIS TIME.  I am not just another girl who cried rainbow.  This is for real.

The edges of the clouds looked like they were being ecstatically eaten away by acid rainbows.  Magenta, warm gold, teal, turquoise, lavender… These were no primary colors.  This was psychedelia.  I was ready to stand up on high and loudly announce “MIRACLE in the sky!”… but Mykael was quick to tell me that that’s simply what the world looks like through sunglasses.  I wonder…

Anyway, I really fell out of rhythm today.  It’s two thirty pm and I am blogging on my front porch in partial sun and partial shade as Mykael feverishly sands his spiral laden stone, perpetually filling the air with fine, white dust.  But earlier, after I busted loose (as my mom always says) from the prison also known as Café 504, I did not know what to do with myself, besides wallow in the premenstrual fog, which was making me fold in on myself in an almost lethal fashion, so Mykael dragged me and my typewriter to HIS café.  You see, I finally got myself a typewriter, because I have had a long standing (six or seven years long standing) dream to go out in public with my type writer and be a real live muse.  Sell poems to the masses.  But now that I have my typewriter, I am looking my dream in the face and it is staring me down-doobie-down.  I realize how risky it is to put myself out there like that.  Gimme a V!  Gimme a U!  Gimme an L!  Gimme an N! E! R!  A!  B!  L!  E!

Yes, I feel vulnerable.  But since I am some what of a warrioress, even on my most premenstrual days, I marched my crabby self down the hill and set up shop.  I thought I’d rehearse… A dress rehersal before the farmer’s market tomorrow.  What would I DO if someone asked for a poem about “Paradox and Wanting”???  Would I freeze, or rise to meet the challenge?  I used paradox and wanting as an example, because that’s what the owner of the café asked for.  And the barista girl asked for a poem about blisters on her heel.  Mykael asked for a poem about the paintings of the wolves on the wall.  Jen asked for a poem about beauty and gratitude.

So I wrote my first five poems and I am still alive to tell the tale.  Nice!  Although I must say, that I am NOT the most literal person… So if you ask for a poem about cigarette butts, don’t be surprised when you get a poem about peaches and oven burnt nuts.

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Spirituality According to Athena

I have so many random, straggling voices inside me that are competing for the spotlight right now.  I’m not quite sure where to start.  Okay, the Nigerian man who I wrote about not too long ago… the one who was on the road (paved with dangerously sharp beliefs) to being a priest~ he was at Gaylord’s this morning with his elevenish year old son.  He introduced me to this big little person who looked both bored to bits, yet teeming with rich inner life.  The boy has lighter brown skin than his dad.  It is the color that is just the way I perfer my coffee, the immaculate ratio of milk to espresso.  Warm, rich, brown.  Milky enough to be decadent, but strong enough to have flay-vah!  Anyway, soon after the friendly introduction, they packed up their stuff (mostly dad’s gaggle of books) and said goodbye.  It MELTED my heart when the boy said to me, “You said your name’s Athena?”  An eleven year old is NOT obligated to remember this stuff or care!  So when he said that, my heart burst into an applauding peanut gallery of flaming tickle.  I asked him what his name was, since I hadn’t caught it the first time (I had my headphones on).  He said “I.K.”  I asked him if it was short for something.  He said yes.  I asked if I could know what that is.  Again, yes.  Then he spoke such a weighty, strong, African(?) name.  Please forgive me, but I have already forgotten… since it was a name I had never heard before.  I repeated it twice and looked in his eyes.  What a beautiful being he is.

I have a minor bone to pick on this topic of names.  WHY do most people act so helpless and ignorant when it comes to calling somebody by their real name, just because they have not heard it before???  So many people with regal, profound names end up going by “JJ” or “D”, just so that they don’t have to deal with the ignorance and laziness of the masses.  Names are important to me.  They are sacred vibrations that evoke Being.  Different is good!  It is unique.  But then I suppose there’s the layer of being a “minority”… which seems to be a source of shame for those among us with darker skin and names that take a few practice repetitions to pronounce.  What do I know?  I’m just your garden variety, lower middle class white girl.  What do I know about living in a white man’s world?  Some, but not as much as others…

Anyway, I bring this up, because I hope maybe you’ll become more aware of your laziness (I’m not talking to YOU of course… I’m sure you are wide awake and considerate…Mostly I am speaking to those other people…) and consider making the effort to pronounce someone’s real name, witness them in more of the fullness of who they are, and watch them become more vivid and fully alive!

Which brings me to the topic of being KNOWN.  That is one of the most profound gifts that another can offer me!   Yesterday Mykael and I threw our frugality out the window for the evening and went to eat at Boot and Shoe Service, the hella artisan pizza place on Grand Avenue.  This was only our third or fourth time there together.  We nestled next to each other on the bench seat at the front of the restaurant, facing in to the bustling ambiance that I consider top notch.  The mood unfolding from inside me was relaxed, satisfied, appreciative.  When life inside me is so easy, I consider this Grace, because so much of the time I seem to be engaged in hot, heavy battle with invisible forces within myself.  Praise it all!  I sat, blissfully smooshed between the wall and the man I choose to walk along through life with, nibbling big, buttery green olives, sipping a Sangiovese that I would not order again and generally enjoying the privilege of being out in the world on a waning Wednesday.  As we hungrily awaited our pizza, I thought, about how I’d have to be sure to ask for some olive oil when they brought us our steaming, doughy beast.  But I didn’t have a chance, because when the waiter delivered our eight slices of heaven, he also set a little white dish on the table and said, “I heard that you guys like olive oil with your pizza.”

I guess I’m pretty easy, but my heart burst with sticky sweet glee.  HOW ON EARTH DID THEY REMEMBER THAT?!?

At Taste of the Himilayas, they have our order memorized.  Yeah, the palak paneer is so good… and the garlic naan, so perfectly tender and savory… the chai so simple and decadent, why would we bother branching out?   And they know too that we love tamarind sauce, so sometimes, but just *sometimes*, when it’s an especially auspicious day, they bring us an extra large receptacle of the tart, sugary sauce!  Back at our old stomping ground, Fonda, too, they memorized our order and we got to sample the textures and stories of life as it unfolded through our waiters and waitresses.  To me, this is highly profound; creating relationships with the random spray of characters that God places along our otherwise mundane-assed paths.  Look another human in the eyes, give a sincere shit about what they have to say, where they have been and where they aspire to go, and life shifts gears from your basic olde 3D version to some profound, richer and more unabashedly loving dimension!  (infinityD?)

Generating kindness among what could otherwise be construed as a garden variety stranger is a sublime facet of being alive.  In fact, I’d even go so far as to call it, “spiritual”.  Since I have started blogging, I have also begun to explore the oceanic community of fellow bloggers.   I do searches on subjects that I, myself like to write about… just to see what other people are thinking, feeling, saying… “Spiritual” is one of my favorite searches.  I find that many voices are grappling with the question of what “spiritual” really means.  I appreciate this.  And as I read through the twist of musings, they all seem so bloody complicated.  Does it need to be so complicated?  I mean, don’t we all agree that life as we know it in this universe boils down to energy?  Pulsing, vibrating waves of energy?  This continuous invocation of OM singing us all into being?  How can this phenomenon be anything other than SPIRITUAL?  In my opinion, we needn’t divide the things of this world up into categories of “spiritual” and “not even close to spiritual”… Matter is dense, relatively slow vibration.  Condensed spirit.  Ask any scientist.  And while you’re at it, ask them if most of this world of matter in which we so staunchly believe isn’t mostly empty space.  Go on, ask ‘em… I bet they’ll give you a self satisfied, enigmatic smirk and say, “Yup, you bet your rigid britches!”

So if it’s all a big, saucy, spirit soup, then maybe the term “spiritual” is a word that can be used to convey aspects of ourselves and of life that testify to the soupy truth of who we are and what we are made of.  I like that.  And to me, connecting with other people, forging simple relationships founded on warmth and kindness, making the world a more connected and joyous place is a highly spiritual facet of existence.  In this existence soup, all life is interconnected and interdependent, so acting in ways that acknowledges and celebrates this truth is like WAY spiritual.

May you be blessed with the simplicity of sharing kindness among “strangers” today!

Amen.

Effort, Grace and a Quarter in the Artichoke

The marriage of effort and grace. Hands folded in prayer at the heart center. Right hand, effort, left hand, grace. When they meet in the space of the heart and ignite, these two forces joined make anything possible. I believe this. But the inquiry that I have personally grappled with, stumbled clumsily inside of for at least ten years is WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE RATIO OF EFFORT TO GRACE? Of course I don’t think there’s a neat, squeaking answer… no way, Jose. But LISTEN~ these days there is so much hype about the law of attraction and how we create our reality with our thoughts. I can’t deny this… We are also a culture founded on good, honest protestant work ethic. Everybody knows that if you want to be “successful”, it takes a pinch of brains and a scoop of guts and a whole ocean of elbow grease. I mean maybe if you are a crunchy, new age, bay area native you’ll beg to differ with this… but for the most part we have been brainwashed into thinking that success belongs to those with the greasiest elbows. That is the EFFORT half of the equation.

And then there is Grace. What is grace? Let’s ask the omniscient One, dictionary dot com… Oh fuck. The omniscient One suggests that there are twenty separate definitions. Screw that! Lemme sort through them and find one or two that best support the essence I am driving to reveal. What?!?!?$*^#@*% This is ridiculous! None of them come very close to expressing what I was hoping they would. The closest definition is “favor or good will”. But I have come to understand grace as the special flavor of favor or good will of our special Friend, All Pervading Light. I like to imagine that just as sea creatures are immersed in salty water, we are immersed in an inherently generous substance that could be construed as Love. Another name for this all pervading substance of consciousness is Grace. The cool thing about Grace, is that it is an unconditional force. It asks nothing of us, yet gives us our very lives and all of the sub-blessings therein. (whether we recognize these blessings is another story, isn’t it?) Why does It do this? Simply because that’s what it does.

Mykael is sitting across the table from me today. I decided to come to HIS café for once. I used to come to “his” café more often, but then I started to feel sick of him and so we each went to our own separate cafes, which is so healthy… but this morning, he took a huge FIVE HOUR exam and I am so proud of him for stepping in and simply giving his best without attachment (just like Krishna advises Arjuna to do), so I came to HIS café, where they DO NOT know how to make espresso drinks! Ewww, even thinking about the soy latte I just drank makes me want to barf. And even worse, but in a different way are the mochas. That’s what Mykael gets. They are thick and sludgy, like chocolate swamps. You can’t even drink the end of it, because it is mealy, chocolate puke. And now, on the other side of the table he is carving away at this fat chunk of stone and the whole table is violently shaking and I am trying to sound so deep and smart and the table lurches, making it impossible for me to gather these tightly coiled, esoteric thoughts. Sheesh and a half.

Effort and grace. Well, I suppose if you’re someone simple, who has clear, worldly ambitions, it is very obvious. You set a goal, take steps toward it and simultaneously allow grace to weave like sweet breeze, threading its way inbetween your actions. You know, those “coincidences”… being in the right place at the right time, meeting someone who can hook a sistah (or a brothah) up, stumbling upon a book or some thing that magically furthers your efforts. Simple. Effort plus grace equals a life well lived. Right? But what if you are someone like me, who thinks way too much, picks her bones dry because nothing can satisfy this insatiable mind besides the Ultimate Truth? Every day I wonder what in this world is truly WORTH fighting for, sweating for, standing for… It’s kinda nice to be sharing a table with a mirror named Mykael. Here I am steeping in yearning. Yearning to get to the bottom of it all, yearning to be the Holiest me, yearning to See… and I gaze off into the wastelands between nowhere and somewhere, heavy with hope of finding something deeply true. Mykael finds my inwardly scrupulous eyes and mouths, “are you okay?”… And that’s when I realize that this wondering makes me feel sorta sad.

I’m sad because I wish I let life be so simple. I wish I could set my mind to something and then do your basic steamy tango with effort and grace until allofa sudden, SHA-ZAAM! There I am, intention fulfilled! But alas, I don’t trust my lopsided ego desires as far as they could throw me (and boy, can they throw me!). Those are the desires I could spend lifetimes ensnared in, toiling to bushwack my way to imagined happiness… only to feel weary and just as alone and afraid as I ever was. No, folks, the ONLY desire that means anything to me is the desire to find the light inside me and to hear the “still, small voice” (of APL) and be Its sacred bitch. I want to die to myself and be born solely as a messenger of the Highest. Hmmm, I guess that is as good a goal as any. I make effort. I receive grace.

Mykael asked me again if I am okay. I wonder what my face looks like!? My eyes do sting with tears now. WHY? Because waiting for the Ultimate Grace, the Grace that is Awakening, Self Realization takes SO MUCH PATIENCE!!!! So much patience. And there is evermore for me to Forgive. And in the meantime, this other life, this external, demanding survival game keeps happening. And I feel compelled to respond to it, or be fucked. And I know I could make MORE efforts to Realize. Meditate more. Drink more blasted wheat grass. Do more selfless service. Open my heart in more of those moments when my infantile, poopy diaper clad emotional self screams, demonically demands that I remain shut tighter than the tightest of sphincters. Open, then? If I did THAT, I’d pass go, collect hecka money and go straight to the Boardwalk just beyond Heaven’s gates!

Just as I wrote that came another violent table shaking spell. What is that sposta mean? I dunno. What’s it sposta mean that Mykael and split a huge artichoke for lunch yesterday and he took his bowl of gnawed on leaves to the green bin and dumped them and fixed to the bottom of his bowl was an artichoke stained quarter! God, I want it to mean SOMETHING! Something auspicious.

Auspicious~ 1) Promising success; propitious; opportune; favorable

2) favored by fortune; prosperous; fortunate

I would say that a quarter in an artichoke could easily be construed as auspicious, in that case… I bet we’ll find a Ben Franklin in our next artichoke.

Effort and grace? I return to the page every day. For the love of it. I sit here in the gloomy café, my elbows bleeding with grease and my mind dripping with artichokes, stained quarters, lofty concepts, impassioned words. Effort. You read my words and feel something rise, from deep inside your being. Illumination. Your place, nestled in your now moment becomes spontaneously vivified. Maybe you remember that life is equal parts amazing and weird. Maybe you remember that you are not alone… and your brokenness only exists so the light can seep in, and burst out. Seep in and burst out, seep in and burst out. This is grace. My writing ignites entire clusters of hungry, ticklish minds in a wild fire fashion. Publishers and agents beg to represent me as an author. Money pours to me as I continue to pour out these inspired, musing words. That is grace. I wish I could see my own face…

A Sweet Spring Misting of Fear

There is something about today.  Something of a twist, a shift.  As usual, I woke up before seven am.  I brewed tea, climbed back in bed and looked out the window at the gray sky, gestating with unspilled drops.  Usually the rain begins to fall in the anonymous folds of darkness.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that at least 88% of the rainstorms this year have started that way; splashing down in wet, vivid, nocturnal music, seducing me even through sleep.  But not today.  Today mother nature groaned in prolonged labor as I sat on the other side of the glass, placidly waiting for the water to break.  In the scientific language of minutes, it really didn’t take that long.  But in the language of feelings, subtlety, transcendent some-things, it seemed to be an arduous labor.  And when the gray-bellied sky broke open, it was not what I expected.  The drops were delicate as trembling spring petals, so fine, yet dense.  Sifting sugar.  Relief spilled inside me as I felt the release.

Inside me now, a light misting of fear showers down.   It is not a deluge, thank goodness.  No, just the same sugar-esque storm as the one outside.  Some days, for no tangible reason, I wake up to feelings of fear and dread.  I just do.  I don’t know if this is “normal” or not… but as I grow into myself, I am coming to understand that this is a natural facet of being a highly sensitive being in a world full of strife.  Sometimes the fear in the air is especially thick.  Like an emotional smog that builds up after too many hot days in a densely populated city.  I used to panic on these dark days.  I feel so helpless sometimes when it comes to things I don’t understand.  You know what I mean?  If I could just slap a quick label on it and scribble it onto my to do list… or swallow any number of modern day miracle pills… well wouldn’t that just be so much easier than learning to be a gracious hostess to this seemingly threatening facet of my human experience?

But I am learning to surrender and simply allow it to be, without taking it too personally.  I’m not saying I’m there… I’ve got a ways to go, before I am skillful enough to just blast it with unconditional love and acceptance.  But at least I know where I’m headed, right?  Which brings me to the topic of my Saint training.  I feel like sometimes I throw out all these lofty friggin concepts… about the light inside and forgiveness… you know, all the popular enlightenment ideas… but what do they really have to do with my moment to moment choices, actions, words?   Today I am painfully aware of the gap between my spiritual aspirations and the truth of my life in this moment.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because God is in the gaps as much as anywhere else, and I mostly believe I am doing my best.  But in terms of saint training, let’s just say, I have a rigorous curriculum.

Yesterday I wrote a fluffy brady bunch testimonial about the goodness of friendship.  But DARE I write a twilight zone ownership of the challenges of family (and those whom I project my family issues on)?  I think many writers struggle with this place of constraint.  The fear of releasing their whole voice to the world, for fear of the condemnation of their families, or some comparable party that arises as a seeming outward force of resistance; either a hurdle to overcome, or just an excuse to remain silent and deprive the world of the totality of their unique voice.  I feel that edge inside.  Especially when I write about my sexuality.  As soon as I do, this rip tide of imagined condemnation swirls up and tries to carry me away in a sea of fear and silence.  But mostly I forge ahead anyway, because I yearn to stand unabashedly naked in my words.  Why?  Because the truth shall set us free.  Because I don’t want to live in a world where the truth of anyone’s experience is a source of ridicule or persecution.  I want to live in a world where each one of us is vibrantly alive in the divine wholeness of our experience.  I want you to hear me and remember that you are in fantastic company and there is no need to hide or pretend.

There is no need to hide or pretend?  Why does it so often feel like there IS a need to hide and pretend?  Once upon a time, I had regular coaching sessions from an exceptional woman… She was fearless in her ability to see under the stones in another and recognize the most intimate, raw truths that lie beneath.  Once she said something  to me:  “People like you…Because you’re nice; Because you don’t stand for anything.  When you take a stand for something, it is bound to turn some people off.  You have to be willing to face that.”  And I knew she was right.  It terrifies me to hallucinate a loss of love and acceptance at the hand of me taking a stand.  But it also turns me on, because at my core, I know that I am a warrior.  I know that my life is a demand for me to take a stand.  A stand for a God, a Love who is big enough, kind enough, accepting enough to include all of us.  A stand for the unabashed truth of my humanness, and your humanness.

I say all this and I feel strong… but when I think about facing this part of myself that shows up on the faces of certain women in my life… I feel like a hopeless scardy cat.  But I know this much~ As tempting as it is for me to believe that it is about the “other”, at a deep level, I know it is about myself.  How do I know this?  Because I encounter the same “enemy” in a few characters in my life.  They are all women I am intimate with.  They are all women who live deep in my heart.  But somehow, my perception takes a crooked swerve along the path of the relationship(s) and  I imagine them to be teeming with judgment and criticism of who I quintessentially am.  I am afraid of facing them because I am afraid of the feelings that I might possibly feel in the face of their disapproval.  So instead of turning toward them, I hide.  But then they haunt my mind, my heart, wafting like perpetual dancing smoke through my day to day experience… until I can take it no longer and I must face them.

I used to have a deep fascination with lucid dreaming.  I read a few books on it, and practiced it every night… Experts on the subject claim that in dreams, you can turn and face the threatening characters in order to (hey, a man here at the café just blasted a ton of NOSE DROPS into his nose!!!  He is wearing a baseball cap.) make peace with them.  The same horrible monster that might have been chasing you for years could turn out to be chasing you because you dropped something deeply important, maybe a key to the door of your heart, say…

This is a slippery slope, though, because I just noticed that I am subtly living inside the belief that once I turn and face this “monster”, then I will be happy and peaceful.  Yup, another elusive, shimmering carrot!  Carrots can be so damn sneaky!  I feel an invitation from the inside to cultivate compassion for this fearful facet of me, and to bow to the path its self.  I wish to fully surrender to the work that I must do in this life.  I wish to revere and love the jagged path, trusting that it is explicitly designed to lead me back to LOVE.  It is so tempting for me to be ruled by my deep feelings.  But there has to be another way.  What can I forgive this day?  I call on a God who stands by my side with unwavering loyalty of the quintessence of all Friends.  I call on the collective strength of every single Saint, every master of the Self that ever was, is or will be.  Amen.

PS~ I recognize that my words might seem elusive… but from over here in “the eye of the storm”, it’s hard for me to see clearly.  So if any questions arise for you, PLEASE leave a comment and ASK me to clarify!  Thanks.

Hale To My Friends!

If I was stuck on a desert island and could only bring ONE thing that was vital to my sustanence, guess what it would be?!  My BIBLE!!!

Just kidding.  It would be my friends.  Really, it’s a wonder that God invented such sheer exquisiteness.  Mykael and I went to the Sunset Party (an outdoor dance party at Stafford Lake in Novato) yesterday afternoon.  I was not so enthused about going for some reason… Maybe because to me, dance parties are so seven minutes ago.  Maybe because my feelings were still hurt that the Mister didn’t go to church with me, nor to the grocery store or the farmer’s market.  Yep, I think that’s it.  I was certainly all brooding on the ride there.  Brooding is such a colossal waste of time.  Honestly.  Especially on a rich, warm Sunday in the springtime.  I’ll never have that Sunday back.

It’s weird observing myself in this relationship… (Hey!  More mating sparrows!  Cool!  Right on the power line across the street!  The male is making his feathers so PUFFY.  He looks like a sparrow shaped marshmallow.)  Anyway, I used to be entirely committed to transparency in my relationship.  The moment that I thought or felt something, I would offer it up to Mykael with the intention of deepening.  But somewhere along the lines, my commitment has eroded and I notice myself holding on to a lot more, sharing less.  Mostly to avoid the typical big, exhausting arguments born of my sharing.  I used to feel so important as we bush wacked our way free from these frivolously frequent ego tangles… but I must have reached my ceiling point, because now I feel like they are way too much trouble.  The sorry alternative is me feeling hella separate and brooding alone.

I sat in the passenger seat, stewing in my own negative juices as we sliced down the 101.  I struggled to drink deeply of the beauty streaming by outside the dirty windows of the hefty jeep cheroke.  Smooth, rolling hills, swaddled in a soft, green carpet of grass, dappled with broccoli… or were they oak trees?  I can’t say for sure.  Blah, blah, blah, cut to the chase, Athena.  You are only allowed so many words, use them skillfully.

Yes, Mistress.  Long story shortER, it wasn’t until we were traversing Novato’s own city streets that I could no longer tolerate being Mrs. Detached Brooding America.  So I pierced the space with a sharp vocalization of his name, “Mykael”… and then, fixing my gaze forward on the unfamiliar thoroughfare, I searched for what was next to speak in order to share my heart and make space for the present moment to flood into me, flow through me as it ever yearns to do.  But, just as I feared (did my fear create it?) the conversation rapidly turned to sharp words, attack and defense and general linguistic-emotional bloodshed.  By the time we parked near the lake, we were not sure if we’d be together tomorrow, we were hardly speaking and my heart felt full to bursting with every negative emotion of the rainbow and I couldn’t seem to find the valve to release any of it.  Fabulous.  The lake, nestled among more ripe, green, voluptuous hills was large, cool and shimmering, benevolently hosting images of the blue, dancing sky upon its nearly smooth face.  So what?  I felt incapable of taking more than a meager slurp from beauty’s overflowing cup.

We ambled along with agitated hearts in a steady flow of human traffic, toward the lake.  (It must have been a mile from where we parked.)  We scanned the perimeter of the festivities for a weeping willow tree, where our friends purportedly were camped.  The closer we got to the chaos of the party, the artificial heartbeat of thumping bass, the sea of young, generally beautiful and too hip for school humans, most all of whom clutched a requisite frosty beer in one hand, and  carelessly trampled the once verdant field of green grass, the more I felt like an alien, crash landed on a strange planet.  Then we landed on Friendship Island, under the said weeping willow tree.

The thing about my friends is that they aren’t the types who let you get away with hiding.  They are a sensitive and compassionate posse of yawning, stretching bodhi satvas… I felt terrified to be felt in my current state of pain.  Why?  Shame, I suppose.  I felt like I was rotting away in a self imposed prison of fear, confusion, judgment.  Not very attractive, right?  But the five year old monkey goddess daughter of Maha and Moon shouted my name with glee and unabashedly leapt into my arms.  I couldn’t help but soften as I held this agile, radiant, hollow boned (she is so light, her bones must be hollow… you know, for maximum flying potential…) packet of wonder.  Next a sweet, soulful hello from Love Herself, the almost eight year old sister of the hollow boned leaping one. Then I wandered, guarded, to greet the grown-up contingency.  Maha wrapped his arms around me and in an instant, I sloshed apart.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard of rainy parades… but how about emotional monsoon picnics.  No, they’re not quite the same as Monsoon Weddings.  Those are way more romantic.  I fell apart in his arms as Miss Magic stood by, oozing compassion.  I felt ashamed (and relieved).  This was a party, after all, and parties were invented for FUN, which I was not capable of having or being at that point.  I know, I know, I totally deserve to be held in fragile moments… But please do forgive me for forgetting this from time to time.  Honestly, it makes my moments of need more vivid when I have to surrender that voice that doubts my worthiness just to be spontaneously, unconditionally held.  What a relief to cry, to release.  Magic invited me to lie down on the earth and feel held while she spoke gentle, meditative words to me.  Maha sat near too and poured the thick honey of his presence on tangled, sobbing me.

Don’t bother looking for Grace beyond the sky if you have not recognized it in the generosity of others.  Grace is simple, unconditional and spontaneous.  After I offered a generous slew of tears to Stafford Lake, relief slowly spread through me from within and life winked with the promise of peace again.  No, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it winked with the promise of fun or joy… but at least peace and inner space.  I expressed my inquiry about how much struggle is healthy and appropriate in relationship.  In church that morning, Reverend Elouise had preached that relationships should be agitating, in the name of growth… but HOW agitating?  Where does one draw the line?  I suppose that ratio of ease versus agitation is different for each one of us.  I want to grow.  This is a fact.  But… I also want to thrive.  What is the recipe for thrival?  I know forgiveness has got to be at the top of the ingredient list.  And FRIENDSHIP.  Surely a hefty dose of intention.  And without a doubt a steady stream of peace.  What is obvious and non-negotiable is that I must keep moving into the silence within, and all will be healed.  All will be forgiven.  All will be as all will be and that is all.

I invite you to remember and celebrate the blessing of friendship today.

Today I Cried a Sea of Tears in Church

Warm.  Salty.  Any guesses to what I am referring to?  If you guessed tears, you WIN!!! If you guessed anything else, you win, too, because it is SUNDAY, and EVERYBODY wins on Sunday!!!  Especially on a Sunday where the high is gonna be seventy three degrees!  But I digress.  Tears streamed down my face all through this morning’s service.  I decided to give the East Bay Church of Religious Science a try… I have been hearing about it through this person or that person, literally for years… But mostly I chose it today because they had an 8am service.  Actually meditation was from 7:45 to 8:15, and then service went till 9:45.  Wow, you mean I was in there for two hours?!?!?  It sure didn’t feel like it.  That’s the sign of a good church, eh?  Yeah, here are the top three ways to know you have found a stellar church~

#1~ you lose track of time

#2~ you can’t stop crying the whole time

#3~ you are invited to take full responsibility for your experience of life, while simultaneously                    letting go and letting God.

Yesterday I was once again caught in the cesspool of dissatisfaction with Mykael.  Jesus… I know, it seems endless, doesn’t it?  My heart was in despair and I was exhausted and missing E* some more.  Missing a partner who was my playmate.  Focusing on the lack, the seeming desert that sprawls inside me where freedom and play once stood, long, long ago.  Mykael told me that he was gonna shop at whole foods yesterday evening.  I told him I had been planning to do the same.  He asked if WE could go together!!!  I said yes.  Then later, after we’d been doing our separate stuff all day long, he told me that he was not really so into going to the store… But he would because he had to.  I am having such a hard time letting go of the joy and communion I used to feel about shopping when E* and I did it together.  He’d push me in the shopping cart, notice and celebrate the people around us and contribute to the rigorous decision making process of what to buy. (Praise the Lord!)

Hurt and anger.  They always seem to land in me at the same time… Word on the street is that hurt usually precedes anger… but inside me, it all happens so fast.  Suddenly they are both THERE, like inseparable lovers… So speaking from the voice of hurt and anger, I told him to forget it, I’d go to the store ALONE, because I’d rather be by myself than with a guy who doesn’t want to be there.  Which is true.  But I was furious and devastated that he did not gleefully embrace shopping with me.  With E*, shopping was always so ALIVE, engaging, playful, adventurous, co-creative.  So I walked and cried myself to Whole Foods alone as twilight struck, doing everything I could to transcend all the pain inside me and see the beauty in the plethora of lush gardens, the deepening into night sky, the waxing gibbous moon, who became more ostentatiously luminous with each exhale into twilight…  Or maybe more accurate, I was doing everything I could to hold on to the pain and resist the seduction of moonbeams and flowers and cool, spring air, replenishing my life with every single breath.

“The only mess I keep in my life is the mess I’m not willing to let go of.”  This is one of the many blazing arrows that Reverend Elouise shot at me this morning.  I cried even harder when I heard this.  Blame.  Victim.  Horrible traps to get stuck in.  And all it would take is to simply let go… but… My ego fights endlessly to convince me that it’s harder than this… in order to keep me at its glutinous mercy.  I invited Mykael to come to church and the farmer’s market with me this morning.  It was an early morning for him, so I expected him to decline… which then gave this grievance of mine more righteous evidence that he is not the right partner.  I left the house feeling so alone and so justified in my disappointment and sadness.  And I sat all the way through meditation, brooding, festering, refusing God’s peace and then realizing this and almost imperceptibly flogging myself for this.  God.  I just want to know God.  It breaks my heart, the arduous journey… when the only one in my way is ME.

I was disappointed to see that the church was in such a run down building, right on Telegraph Avenue.  I dig a place of worship that is aesthetically pleasing.  Remember, I break for ambiance.  Gimme a little stained glass.  Gimme fresh, stunning bouquets of flowers and artfully carved, though false, idols.  This sanctuary was the poster child of unpretentious.  But I soon realized that the potency of the spirit easily made up for the lack of aesthetic beauty.  The choir sang a song about how Something woke me up this morning… And I could feel many of the choir and congregation truly believing and celebrating this.  Resonance.  I felt such a sweet, comforting resonance as I sat, soaking up everything that I had begged God to show me as I bitterly drove to church.  Lemme tell you~ GOD DELIVERED.  This East Bay Church of Religious Science is not a fluffy service.  It is meat and bones and gristle of the Soul!

The fiery reverend kicked it off with the cracking dynamite declaration that if we only deal with what feels good, our consciousness don’t expand!!!  I thought, well phew, I am in the PERFECT place then, because I am sure not feeling good.  From there, Reverend Elouise kept firing the messages of personal responsibility as though she were shooting a Holy machine gun!  And I stood and opened myself to be obliterated by the holy onslaught of bullets.  I needed it, I asked for it, I received it and I cried a warm, salty sea.  After the music, they asked if there were any new people, and would we please stand up so we could be seen and welcomed.  Face wet with tears, I stood, feeling the stinging tickle of self consciousness.  All eyes burned through me.  I looked around to see if I was the ONLY one standing.  There were two others in the back.(and to my surprise the sanctuary was quite full for such an early service!)  I let my eyes touch the eyes of those who beheld me.  Listen up, because THIS IS THE SACREDEST PART~ A good few pairs of eyes were hurling welcoming, generous light right at me.  Man, I swear!  I felt so blessed and touched to receive their loving gazes!  I saw God.

If you come away with anything after reading this, I hope you come away remembering the profound potency of a simple loving, accepting, welcoming gaze.  You don’t need to be Religious or Spiritual to offer or receive this utterly human, sheerly Divine Gift.  Ya dig?

Some other off the hook reminders from the service that I take to heart are:

~What you put your attention on increases

~Attention is what nurtures seeds of intention

~I’m always at choice~ I can open my heart, or keep it shut. (eeeek… talk about responsibility)

~Relationships are for my BENEFIT, and the good ones should annoy the hell out of me… Meaning that when someone pushes my buttons it is so I can GROW, forgive and heal.

~NOTHING HAPPENS IN MY LIFE THAT IS NOT GOOD FOR ME

I walked out humbled and nourished.

That last sentence deserves to be its own paragraph… Let go.  That is the invitation.  They reminded me that the past is over and done with and holding on to it is only good for suffering and remaining closed to the blessings of THIS HOLY MOMEMT.  How do I let go of all my memories of E*, and all that I grieve no longer having in my daily experience of being alive?  Bless it all.  Bless my feelings of loss.  Bless the grace that it was to share all of that.  Bless my fixations and resistance to holding on… Bless E*.  Bless Mykael.  Bless me.  Bless you.  Bless this day!  I’m dumping all these bricks out of my hot air balloon and look out,  because I’m taking holy flight!!!

Whose Dharma is it, Anyway?

I am one self united with my creator.  Salvation comes with from my one self.

Once upon a time I traversed the streets of Paris.  I really did.  And a girl’s gotta wonder…  How do all those boulangeries stay in business?  I swear there are more boulangeries in Paris than there are stars in the sky, or atoms in your body.  But I am remembering one in particular.  It was nothing special… it just happened to be en route between my studio apartment to the nearest metro stop.  Don’t misinterpret… “nothing special” does not mean that I did not stop at nearly every crystal clean window to gaze upon the prim and proper little buttery masterpieces… I did.  I stopped to soul salivate at at least forty four percent of boulangerie windows.  I was tickled and spellbound by the vast diversity of combinations of refined flour, sugar and butter that were possible, and their supernatural seductive powers never ceased to cause me to involuntarily brake.  But this particular shop shone beyond the rest because of the maiden who held court behind the counter.  Was she ordinary?  I don’t know.  But she was perfect.  Perfect like a Parisian Barbie doll, except made of real flesh instead of the usual plastic.  The first time I saw her, I was captivated.  I stood outside, peering through the pristine window, watching her ambivalently serve from behind the veneer of an evocative, poised self.

Tall, slender and curvaceous, her thick black hair was piled neatly sexy in a perfect French twist.  I was perplexed by her choice of outfits.  She looked like she was a high profile secretary, way too fancy to be slinging greasy treats on the streets of Paris.  She wore a low cut, snug fitting cotton shirt, a solid colored, curve hugging skirt and stalkings.  Her cleavage full, reminiscent of perfectly ripe fruit, youth, a wellspring of feminity and sex.  A string of large, languidly luminous pearls hugged her warm olive, swanish neck.  Her make-up was relatively heavy… Especially her eyes which on their own were large, dark and heavy with hidden meaning.  She accentuated them in the way of feline stealth, with a thick black line running along the upper lid and lashes so weighted with mascara that it was a wonder she could keep her eyes open.  Perhaps they rested at half mast…  I stood absorbing her wondrous existence for a double scoop of infinite minutes.  I wanted to touch the pulse of her humanness.  I wanted to know the unique music of her soul, but she kept it so hidden beneath her façade of deliberate, explicit beauty.  I perceived barely a trace of her inner world.  She worked with an air of seriousness and regal sophistication.  Most days, she was there, and most days, my feet involuntarily stopped their feverish traversal of the novelty of Parisian streets to pay homage to this delicious, stoic anomaly of a woman.

This was about five years ago.  But she lives inside me, timelessly.  Strange, the things that leave impressions.  I wish I could BE her.  Not literally, of course.  I could never be as cool, expressionless, tidy.  I wish I dressed to kill for my plain-assed life.  I wish I took my normalcy to the outer limits.  Ordinary people.  We are all such ordinary people on some level… you know what I mean?  Even though we are extraordinary… there is something so ordinary about the human experience.  We all wake up in the morning and must live the day, thrust ever forward by the space time continuum.  We all thirst for love and acceptance.  I could go on and on, listing the ways that we are the same, but why?  Just feel it.  Feel the core of your own humanity, right now, and it will save me a few frivolous strings of words.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, “Better to do your dharma poorly than someone else’s well.”  So obviously I can’t be her.  I woke up with especially heavy questions about my path this morning, and this enigmatic boulangerista rose to the surface of my relentlessly musing mind.  Why?  Because I want to take as much meticulous care as she did as I claim my seat in the world.  No matter WHO I am, WHAT my dharma is, I want to set my table beautifully, intentionally, every day.  Sometimes I fantasize about catching the midnight flight to Paris, buying a fancy string of fat pearls and landing a job in a boulangerie… but… I’m not her.  I wonder though… Whose dharma was she performing so extraordinarily, hers?  Or someone elses?  And if I did run away to Paris with my aforementioned string of pearls, would that be HER dharma, or mine?

Krishna?  Why did you so generously shower Arjuna with Divine council, and leave me here all alone in the windowed corner of Gaylord’s café to restlessly stew in lonesome musings?  Today I woke up drowning in the color blue… but somehow I got myself to the meditation cushion… hopeful that Grace would somehow conk me over the head with blissful silence… But alas, twenty something minutes of my ego-bound life spilled through time’s treacherous cracks in a flurry of roaring chaotic chatter, emotional strife and a generous pinch of despair.  Krishna?  Can you please speak up???  Jesus?  Could you please help a sistah out? (Out of dillusion, that is…)  Paramahansa Yogananda?  Would you toss a starving heart a blessed bone?  I’d really appreciate it.  When will I learn to be quiet enough to hear?  In A Course in Miracles recently, they said that spiritual realization is not something to casually attain…only to throw aside for the next achievement or acquisition… If we are relating to it as just another fresh assed, groovy thing to have, like a new Ipad (she said with a scornfully crinkled nose…) than forget about it.  If that’s the case, better just stick with the Ipad.  Awakening is not a frivolous endevor.  It is not just another casual possession to acquire and leave on the shelf to collect dust.  That is what harmoniums and typewriters and sewing machines are for!!!  I had a good laugh when that last thought lit down in my mind.   I wanted a harmonium SO BAD.  Now I have had one for almost a year and have played it all of three times.  I have had a dream of taking an old fashioned typewriter out into the world and being a poetic muse for the masses for YEARS, literally… Recently, one finally landed in my possession, and now I am terrified to take action and embrace that dream… Mykael just bought a sewing machine at a garage sale for fifteen bucks.  Of course I would love to learn to sew, but I can’t even pretend that I will, until I muster the courage to exercise my other two dream machines.   Once I DO, maybe THEN Krishna and Jesus, Yogananda and God will bother to speak up, flood my mind with revelatory light…

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