Guest Blog!!! By the BeLoved SARK!!!

 

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SARK has been a guiding light on my Epic Heroine’s Journey across Infinity in form.  I have always been profoundly inspired by her fiercely steadfast commitment to living from inside-out, in full bloom, offering her heArt as a Gift to ALL.  She and her BeLoved, Dr. John Waddell recently co-wrote and published a rich and amazing book called Succulent Wild Love (you can buy your own here:  http://bit.ly/1WdRY6c).  I was blessed with the opportunity to receive a free copy to imbibe, and offer a delectable morsel of it to YOU, here in Athena Graceland.  At our core, we share the same Liberated Love Mission!  EnJOY!!!

 

Soulfully Single and Open for Love

An excerpt from Succulent Wild Love

 

I had a marvelous mentor named Patricia who reminded me frequently, “Don’t make the mistake of attaching your love to another person.” She went on to say, “Realize that their love is reflected through you, it does not originate from them. They are not your source of love — you and your Inner Wise Self are.”

 

I embraced this message wholeheartedly and wrote this in my journal: “Release yourself from the voices of inner critics who will tell you outdated messages from long ago about how you ‘should’ love, or how other people love, or how if you don’t love another you’ll die all alone in a nursing home in winter in a shared room.”

 

I began to explore and practice new ways to be what I described as “Soulfully Single,” while also describing myself as open to love with another person. To me, “Soulfully Single” sounded and felt so much richer and deeper than just “single.”

 

My friend Val had said to me after I had ended a love relationship, “Whatever you do, don’t close your heart to love.” She intuited that I’d already begun trying to close my heart and seal it off so I wouldn’t feel that kind of pain again. So I resolved to keep my heart open and available for love. And I secretly thought that it wouldn’t happen anyway, so what did I have to lose?

 

I practiced opening myself to new ways of doing and being, and learning even more about how to state my preferences clearly and directly in relationships with others. I used to either overstate my preferences or hide them — even from myself.

 

In my friendships, I started being more willing to practice telling and receiving MicroTruths, those seemingly tiny, often unspoken little things that sometimes get swept under the carpet — until it feels like the carpet is so lumpy that you can’t walk on it anymore. I wanted my friendships to be positive, current, and free from unnamed hurts and irritations. For the most part, this worked beautifully, and I kept my heart open to love in ways I hadn’t previously imagined.

 

As I developed and lived my Soulfully Single life, I noticed that lots of other women were experimenting with something similar. They had full, rewarding, satisfying lives and work, and yet were open to love with another person arising or arriving unexpectedly. They also said they felt fine if it didn’t happen.

 

When people asked my relationship status, I would reply, “I’m Soulfully Single,” and most would swoon over that description and ask me to describe it further. Some would share that they still wanted romantic love but were no longer willing or able to sacrifice or compromise to get it. Everyone said they wouldn’t “settle.” I knew that for me, settling meant having just part of what I wanted, and I knew I wanted WAY more than that.

 

It reminded me of my career: at age 26 I’d resolved to be and live as an artist and writer — no matter what. I made the decision to live that way, all the way, even if it meant I wouldn’t have much food or money. Prior to that, I’d had over 250 different jobs, trying to find something that could support me while I explored my creative gifts. I didn’t know then that I could have created Joyfull Solutions for myself, which would have been easier than what I did do. But as they say, hindsight is always 20-20, and I just made it up as I went along — as we all do.

 

I knew that if I was going to add another person into my Soulfully Single life, I wanted to feel Succulent Wild intimate REAL love. I wanted to SWIRL with love, I wanted 110 percent. I wanted the WHOLE MAGILLA (What is a Magilla, anyway?). I wanted him or her to be my willing, wholehearted emergency contact. I wanted the person who could show up, stand up, be there with me and with life. I wanted TRUE BLUE. I also wanted a self-entertaining unit — someone who was also Soulfully Single and could be alone and self-nourishing. I wanted a person who felt good about themselves and about life. I wanted another LIFE LOVER.

 

I wanted a mate — one for my soul AND one for play.

 

I wanted someone who would respect and admire my Soulfully Single self. I knew that being Soulfully Single wasn’t substandard, but sometimes inner critics would rise up when I would see or hear other people describe it differently. I attended a friend’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, and after all the toasts and even a short film about their wonderful union, they asked for people to stand and share how the couple’s love and marriage had informed their lives.

 

A number of women stood and described themselves as “strays” who had been taken in by this loving couple. I knew they were just sharing their experience, but I felt enraged that perhaps that’s how others had seen me — as a stray. And of course my inner critics were busy confirming that I was one. I ranted and raved to my friend who was with me, about what I call the “tyranny of couples,” and how unfair it sometimes feels to single people. (She loves pointing out that I met John two weeks later.)

 

Being Soulfully Single AND open for love felt right for me. Others may just wish to be Soulfully Single — or just single. I’m glad we’re all redefining love for ourselves and what feels best for each of us.

 

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SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) and Dr. John Waddell are the authors of Succulent Wild Love. SARK is a best-selling author and artist, with sixteen titles in print and well over two million books sold.  Dr. John has been helping individuals and couples lead happier lives for over 30 years through his clinical psychology practice and metaphysical teachings. Visit them online at PlanetSARK.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Succulent Wild Love ©2015 by SARK and Dr. John Waddell.  Printed with permission of New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

 

Growing a Goddess

One of the most literally miraculous (is there a such thing as “figuratively miraculous”?) aspects of bringing a child into this world, is the way they reunite people.  Even without inhabiting a body, the gravitational force of a yet to be born soul’s love is profound.  Serena’s presence in my life has been an immense catalyst for reuniting and healing.  I bow to her Holy influence.

But that’s not even what this piece of writing is about!  Too bad, huh?… cuz what a wonder-full topic to expound upon!  I get such a charge out of “breaking the rules” of writing.  Because REALLY, who made them up in the first place?… and why are THEY the one who like a smirking jailer, holds the iron key-laden ring to a fractaling multitude of cells, crowded with way too many suckas who think they are “better writers” for anally affixing a “main idea” to their “opening sentence”?  Yes, I DO believe that it is a useful strategy for drawing the reader IN… and giving you an idea of the linguistic river ride that you are invited to glide and bounce along upon.  But not every poem must rhyme the last word in each line.  Sometimes the rhythms and rhymes are slanted and erratic and squiggly.  And sometimes any rhyming would be binding and trite.

Alas, we find the mouth of this rushing mind river, set upon the the bank of a dribbling creek.  Six months pregnant, I am seated upon a white, plastic patio chair, on a pebbly, parched creek bed, reconnecting after a steep twenty-someodd years, with my childhood bestie from first grade, Mary.  We (especially shamelessly ravenous, pregnant me,) feast upon queen-sized bags of Tostito’s lime flavored corn chips, and impossibly addictive, GMO kettle corn, which is entirely climactic unto itself, but inconsequential to this visionary essay.  It is a bright, sweltering afternoon in late july, and I am probably slippery with sweat.

Mary, now having three children of her own, confesses that when she found out her third child was a girl (her first), she cried!  Struck by this confession, I ask why… for I would have cried if I found out I was NOT having a girl, which fortunately was not the case.  (Note to self– write the dismal, cloud-cover story of your ultrasound one of these days…)  She says, because she immediately fretted for all of the painful passages her girl would make, and Mary would hence relive:  struggles with friends, boys, body image, self-esteem…

Golly, those dimensions of the journey had never occurred to me.  At least in the way she portrayed them.  Hearing her perspective magically illuminated my own.  I realized that I had an equal amount of energy as she, but mine equated to enthusiasm, purpose, and vision.  Whereas she felt plagued by all that she had endured as a girl in this world, I felt equipped, and eager to use my [excruciating] trials as a source of empowerment and transcendence for my burgeoning girl, and all girls.  And THAT statement, ladies, gentlemen and the no-so-civilized among us, could be construed as the “main idea” of this writing spree!

I *really* struggled to grow into the goddess that I have become.  You’re probably familiar with the saying, “Not all who wander are lost.”  Well, I was a lost and tortured wanderer.  I was a classic case of “ugly duckling”.  But now look at the elegant and wild swan I have become.  No.  It was not easy.  Yes.  It hurt a lot.  Will Serena have to go through that?  I hope not… But no matter what she must live, I will empower her to encounter it ALL as essential steps on a heroine’s journey through Holy Lands, expanding into ever greater and more masterful embodiment of the Divine I AM that she already, always IS.  So help me God.  Yes, I want to protect her from low self-esteem, severe acne, heartbreak, mean girls, feeling lost… I suppose every parent with a heart must want to protect their child from the pain of Becoming…

Take our homeboy Siddheartha as the prime-est of examples.  His parents wanted to keep him imprisoned behind opulent palace walls for his entire life, so that he would NEVER need to encounter sickness, death or suffering of any flavor.  But ultimately this cush, sheltered life left him hopelessly bathed in malaise.  Out of immense love for their Prince of Perfection, they had to release him to the arduous journey of Becoming, that we are each here to surmount.  Sigh… I guess I will release Serena from the suffocating confines of the palace walls of my narrow and skewed, but wholly well-intended ideas of loving.

All hale checks and balances!!!  Because I equally contain a mature strain of brave, awakened love.  And a knowing of all-pervading, unescapable divine perfection.  My daughter will never live ANYTHING that is not in service of her eternally expanding journey of sacred illumination.  Nor will any of us.  This idea requires a bottomless well of faith… which is a tall order, in a world where so many suffer.  Sometimes I go to my well, send the bucket down, and only come up with a few modest drops of liquid faith.  Just enough to wet my lips… so that I may keep whistling Amazing Grace, as I trudge up steep hills, in pursuit of unknown, though purely compelling, elevated states of Realization and Service.

Are you still there?  Yes, YOU, whose eyes wander in wonder, word by word, through the world revealed through vision-driven finger tips… Please… Give me your hand!… Like a negligent child’s stray balloon, I have floated up, up, up into the gay stratospheres of beatific idealism.  Pull me dowwwwn.  To the ground, where I have a noble and life-long job to accomplish.  Raising my daughter with intention, attention and devotion, such that the Goddess is free to reign on earth once again, and Love explodes in harmonious, healing rays from EVERY HEART.  And I mean Every Heart.

I’ve witnessed enough young children to know that it really isn’t what we SAY, as parents and trusted guides, but what we DO.  With riveted attention, our littles watch our every move, drink in every word (except when we are preaching exhausted, disembodied gospels to their time-dulled, wisened ears).  This is a call to slow down, drop IN and rise to new heights of integrity.  No pressure. Grin.  Yes, it’s a tall order; an invitation to fail many times over.  But I am willing to flail, fall and simply get up again, aspiring to be bright beacon of intentional love and sacred responsibility for my Tiny Goddess to emulate.

I don’t have it all figured out (like duh…). But after clambering around in the dark for the first thirty years of this life, grasping for something REAL, substantial, fundamental… I found it.  Seriously, I BEGGED God to tell me the meaning of Life.  And God said it is Love.  This pure, potent and totally knowable Force, around which to order, organize, inspire and inform all choices, actions, words, relationships.  I may make mistakes… but Serena will bear witness to a woman who loves her own heart with fierce, unrelenting and tender persistence.  Yes, come what may, I will always be one to pause, put my hand over my warm, pulsing, deep feeling heart, breathe deep and say to the tremulous and pure One in there, “I love you.”  ALL OF IT is worthy of my unconditional love:  fear, anger, disappointment, hope, desire, peace, passion, insecurity…  I may not be able to shelter my daughter from the essential storms of life, but I WILL give her the tools to weather them with Love’s immensity.  After all, she IS a little Mrs. Grace.

My dear friends, David and Rosy have a daughter who turned thirteen last year.  Reviving the entirely necessary, and recently misplaced Rite of Passage, they created a women’s circle to celebrate and initiate their budding goddess into the delicious (though totally overwhelming at times) Ocean of Womanhood.  I was blessed to be invited to co-create this powerful cauldron of holding, wisdom, love and sharing.  God, I wish for every girl to have such an intentional and blessed emergence…

Witnessing this no-longer-girl-child, yet not-quite-woman, I was flooded with aching and bitter memories of the confusion and pain of my own listless, unanchored, sprawling drift into womanhood.  As was each of the women who sat in circle, sharing pertinent morsels of their own grueling tale of Becoming, in service of empowering young Eva’s unfurling story, and implicitly, all of HerStory.  What struck me, is that we were all left to grope, alone, in a dark and stark world, until somehow, through the grace of the goddess, we managed to find something of true value and substance Inside.  It was the exception to the rule that someone wise, loving and steadfast took our hand and powerfully guided us into the vast, undulating world of womanhood… let alone a circle, a village, or an entire choir, sung from the radiant feminine hearts of a sane, healthy and connected world.

We were all taught to loathe our bodies and our blood, and hence, never touch the latent miraculous power therein.  Over the course of my own single-serving-struggle, I have come to love the blood that flows from my womb with every moon.  And too, I realized that my body IS the temple through which I worship the GodLove in Everything.  Granted, we each may need to struggle, ache and break, as we make the brave pilgrimage through the earthly lands of our Destiny… but WE DO NOT NEED TO FEAR OUR BODIES, OUR BLOOD, OR OUR SISTERS.

I will teach Serena to revere and devotionally care for her heavenly body, and to trust its innate wisdom.  I will teach her that her sexuality is a sacred portal to endless dimensions of divine communion, not to be squandered, diminuated or bartered for a cheap, hollow imitation of love and acceptance from an external, and hence perpetually unsatisfying source.  May she know, that SHE IS THE SOURCE.  And Sorceress…  I will invite her to honor and learn from the power and mystery of her goddess blood.  I will allow her to retreat Within during that sacred moon time– to meditate, journal, rest, pray, dream… And to invest her Self in the coin of indestructible Sister Love.  Competition among women must be a contemporary capitalist plot.  Our power awakens in our Joining.  Alone, we are false, and therefore weakened.  As women, we are the keepers of Mother Love on this planet.  Mother Love, by nature joins, for it IS the luminous, intelligent, compassionate and beautiful web of Creation.  Though to our divine delight, we seem individuated on the surface, if you close your earthly eyes, and look through the Eye Within, you will surely see that beneath the ever-creative, intricate lila of dancing surface waves, there is One united force of pulsing, creative love, giving rise to all our lives.

It is one thing to “know” of these ideals… And quite another matter to LIVE them.  But this is what I strive to do and BE… for myself, for my daughter, for all women and men, for our selflessly, endlessly generous Mother Earth and all Her miraculous, essential inhabitants.  God, please bless my every step on this life-long, essential mission.  In the name of Love.

 

Motherhood: The Dawn of Soulful Joy

As I mentioned recently, I am happier than I’ve ever been in my life.  This is truly triumphant, because I am one who has invested a hefty chunk of my life in the coin of getting down, dirty and destroyed by darkness, depression, despair.  Too many a day of my thirtieth year, I shook my fist at God, beseeching this Force of Almighty Love, “I have always turned toward You… WHY have you left me to marinate in this dense puddle of ache and confusion???”  And as was the way, when I cried out to God, I was met with that cursed, spacious aloneness, which was never any consolation to my desperate, bleeding heart.  I may never stop wondering WHY we must live all that we must live.  And trust me, WE MUST LIVE IT.  Or else we wouldn’t live it.

As I look backward, through the unflattering, though honest lens of my nearly eternal Dark Night of the Soul, what I realize, is that through this rigorous course of study, I was able to evolve from a state of numbness in the face of divine duress, to a gorgeous, tantric willingness to feel it all, to embrace the sensational aliveness, the creatively textured lila of my holy existence.  This skill of unconditional embodiment did *not* come easy.  It came hard earned, after thirty some odd years of reticent practice, including, but not limited to an eating disorder in my late teens and early twenties.  Compulsive eating.  Compulsion– A strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will.  So you see, compulsion, by nature, implies that I really had no idea why the fuck I was doing what I was doing, while I was doing it.  But in retrospect, it became obvious that it was to shut down my feelings.  What feelings was I shutting down?  Honestly, I have retired from the arduous vocation of inspecting my past under a high power microscope…but I do know that I hovered somewhere between a few feet and a few miles off the ground, until I was about thirty years old.  And even then, I was not fully committed to inhabiting the treacheries of this unforgiving earth plane.  Geesh, that last sentence portrayed this planet to be some sort of inhospitable hell… Is the earth plane truly “unforgiving”?  I’d say that WE are the bringers of forgiveness, in the face of all that it is to be here… And the choice to show up at this cacophonous pot-luck with such a savory, nutrient-dense dish as forgiveness, is a true sign of spiritual maturity.

I love how I began this piece by asserting that I am happier than I’ve ever been, and my surrendered fingers led us into the throes of a shadowy and dismal past… I guess it’s sorta like proudly displaying my battle scars to you, as I stand, exposed and beaming with pride and Heavenly Light.  I want you to know that no matter where you are on the Ride of Your Life, it is the explicitly perfect place to BE.   This is a massive motivation in writing to you!  What good is my journey, if not to share it with you, in service of building a bridge of perfection from here to illusory “there”… The “there” of fulfillment, peace and unconditional joy… We Love Warriors are armed with bottomless willingness and perfect faith, as we navigate the labyrinths of all that we must live.

And now back to the dawn of this grounded, steady, gentle song of happiness, gaily playing through my heart and life.  It was born with Serena.  Though I was not aware of its modest, unobtrusive presence at first, because I was otherwise occupied, contending with acute hormonal fluctuations, reorganizing organs, and the shock of suddenly inhabiting a totally new life, in a totally new place, with a totally new, totally dependent, and totally teensy person.  But praise the Lord, that didn’t last long.  In the Grand Scheme, that is.  Really, what’s a few weeks?  It’s but a skillfully skipped stone across the placid surface of an alpine lake.  And now that smooth, flat stone has sunk and settled in wet oblivion, and I am here, smoldering with hard-earned and sustainable delight.

During my pregnancy, and earliest days of motherhood, I fought a long and exhausting battle with the demons of fear and self-doubt.  Living every day, with this vicious, whispering question, smeared all about the walls of my mind– How on earth would I raise my daughter AND earn enough money to sustain us both???  Actually, I’m still not a hundred and eight percent sure of The Answer… but what has shifted is my belief in my Self.  During the heat of battle, I remember thinking, “I have come to trust God and Grace and Galactic Beneficence… They always reveal the perfect door to walk through, opportunity to seize.  But my will felt weak.  Would I walk through the door, if it meant sweating, or feeling a burn?

But Hail Mary Full of Grace, childbirth restructured my relationship with sweating and burning!  They have become mere child’s play.  Doors are pouring forth like scarves from a magician’s palm.  And I have seen myself courageously step through them, tasted the quenching satisfaction of saying yes, and doing the necessary work, with my daughter strapped to me, or suckling my breast all the while.  Like a treasure-laden pirate ship, washed up on my beachfront property, my will and strength have mystically emerged, and I am mostly confident, and wholly victorious.

I began this piece with the effusive desire to tell you how amazing my daughter is, and how being a mother somehow completes me… which I feel cautious admitting, since over the course of my life, I’ve heard people tout the notion that one oughtn’t lose herself in motherhood, because it’s not healthy or balanced.  But I wonder what is the difference between GIVING myself wholeheartedly to motherhood, and “losing myself” in motherhood?  Honestly, I don’t care, because my current experience is authentic and sourced by a massive love.  And Serena deserves ALL OF ME, my passion, delight and devotion.

My favorite definition of the ever-elusive word, tantra, is “to weave”.  By tantra, I mean the spiritual path of embracing all that it is to BE HERE; perpetually diving IN and THROUGH.  Transcendence through intimacy with, rather than avoidance of… And in this immaculately woven tapestry of existence, giving myself wholeheartedly to motherhood also means giving myself wholeheartedly to my Life.  Emerging in this vital role has incited an arousal of deep knowing and trust in my artistic gift as a writer, and a newly ignited passion to claim my essential place in this world, and share what bursts at my seams, in the name of Service and Salvation.  Just like pulling a stray thread in a sweater, it all comes unraveled… if you tugged with any conviction at the thread of my impassioned motherhood, you would suddenly find yourself holding a long strand of unified power, purpose, passion, pleasure, play… And if you continued to unravel this intricate and sacred weave, you would be standing alone at the edge of emptiness, holding the infinite thread of Creation in your trembling hand.

Every morning, I wake at five am, into this saturated sense of purposeful eagerness.  I feel Serena’s warmth beside me.  I listen for a few fleeting, hallowed moments to her softly dancing breath, before delicately exiting the bed we share, and making my way to the kitchen to fill my red, whistling kettle with enough water to make a cup of coffee.  Drip by drip, I pour the perfect cup, and sip by sip, I pour my unbridled heart and mind and life across the page so that YOU may remember your Self.  So that your courage may emerge to say YES to the incessant whispers of your soul.  So that you may love all that you have lived, and live all that you love.

Around six thirty, a soft festival of coos and grunts emerge from the still dark bedroom.  Serena is so graciously alerting me of her readiness to share another blessed day together upon this earth.  I finish up the sentence that is lingering in my tingly, singing fingers, and then make my way to the bedroom to scoop up my well-rested, perpetually joyful, Tiny Goddess.  Every day, I am again astonished by her exquisite, soulful beauty, and fresh, tender perfection.  I’m serious.  There is poetic license, and then there is straight up honesty.  I cradle her portable little body in my arms, and study her face, bearing riveted witness, as she lands back in this lucid, waking dream, after a long, luxurious night of rendezvousing with the Luminous Lords and Ladies of that Lighter dimension of heaven… you know, the one most of us wistfully pine for as we trudge across the rigorous scapes of grace we must face to know this *temporary*, denser heavenly hOMe.

Haha, listen to THIS– I just took a little break from writing, to change Serena’s diaper, bring some more firewood inside before it got too soaked by the rain, make some tea… And all this talk of heaven roused Eric Clapton’s song to rise to the surface of my mind.  You know, the one he wrote after his sun died… I started singing it to Serena.  “Would you know my name, if I saw you in Heaven…”  Such a lovely melody… I was compelled to find it on Youtube and play it for us.  I did, and began to give my all to singing along with the tender-hearted angel, Mister Clapton.  But I didn’t even make it through the first verse, before I burst into tears, my choked up voice turning to quaver and strain.  I feel weird crying like that in front of my girl… “On paper”, I strive to model healthy emotional expression, still some part of me wants to hold on… fearing that it might frighten her, or stress her out… But even so, I let go; let my heart break open at the notion of losing my child, and serenading her as she flies back to the Other Side.  I explained to my perfectly alert, gurgling daughter through tears, what the song was about.  She gazed at me with unfiltered light spilling from her eyes.  All these little, frivolous moments… strung in garlands like cranberries and popcorn… adorning the spiraling mind of God.  This is the gift we each live.  And it’s easy to miss, if we are caught in that wretched trap of striving…

But back to the urgent matter of my testimony of grounded joy.  Serena is a slow motion shooting starburst of smiles and indecipherable, enlightened baby music.  How could I NOT be a purring stream of ecstasy?  Well, I’ll TELL you how– and actually, this confession will smoothly unify the round-about route I took to get to this very sentence I am typing– all of that afore mentioned darkness that I faced, befriended and transmuted… I am certain that living through all of that with patience and presence and faith, has carved this wide-open, sacred space, in which I can fully taste and savor the slow-paced, earthy delight of motherhood.  I’m so glad I waited till I was on the brink of thirty six trips around the sun to become Mother.  My nervous system has unraveled substantially.  And being with a baby is a mellow, crawling roll.  It would be hard to inhabit the center of it if I was wound tight and yanking at my own leash.

It was a gratifying surprise that bringing Serena into the world would deliver me so deeply into the crystalized center of my impassioned gifts.  This miraculous synthesis is the sober source of my happiness.  A particularly wild, passionate and visionary soul brother, Damien, used to say, “Your dreams are waiting for you to come true.”  Indeed they were… but their days of waiting are done.  Athena Grace has Risen.  And will rise a thousand times more. And then, rise again… Because, my friends, there really IS no end to this exquisite trip of Love exploratorily caressing its own infinite body.

The Untold Stories of My Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy (Part I)

I didn’t write a single thing for public consumption, while I was pregnant.  I don’t know if it’s like this for everyone, but for me, pregnancy was a radical dissolution, analogous to the caterpillar that spins a cocoon, and then proceeds to turn to pure mush, before emerging as the mythical phoenix of the insect kingdom, we fondly call the butterfly.  Maybe it was because all my energy was siphoning straight to my womb, to create a Tiny Goddess, from scratch… But by the grace of God, I didn’t have a single drop of extra energy to generate pretense.  All I could do was show up to each moment, naked, open, and awake.  This was revolutionary for the Artist formerly known as “Me”, because in my other life, I was so animated and colorful and full of expression.  Now that I think back, I recall that I misplaced my joy for about the first seven months of making Serena.  But I don’t think I was distraught about it… I found it fascinating.  And the blazing certainty of the rightness and sheer blessing of this pregnancy eclipsed any petty misgivings about my barren emotional life.

Retrospect is a wondrous angle to observe this life thing from.  As I stand here, seven weeks into dear Serenie’s existence outside her watery world of conception, I am filled with a steady stream of mellow joy beyond any I have ever known.  Actually, having done enough drugs in my generously sprawling heyday (but please don’t tell my mom!) to make an informed comparison, I honestly favor the delicate, understated, hard-earned highs of this magical mystery tour we mostly refer to as “everyday life”.  Hey!… that would make a great campaign: “Everyday life– a high for the discerning palate”.  I’d like to see commercials like THAT on TV, in place of all the pharmaceutical propaganda that has come to rule the airwaves in our contemporary slice of (sur)reality.  Not that I watch TV.

Haha, I’m laughing at my untamed jungle mind.  It takes me decades to say what I originally meant to say, sometimes, because my mind seems to move in spirals and squiggles, rather than tidy lines.  Maybe I need a ruler to help keep me straight.  Just kidding.  We’ll leave that to Hemingway, and his legions of hyper-disciplined would-bes.

Now where was I going with all of this?  Oh yeah… Shall I just deliver the punchline without dancing anymore jigs around it?  (not that I’ve ever danced a jig in my life!)  Really the maha thought that compelled my fingertips to sing to you this morning, was that lately I find myself drenched in deep waters of nostalgia for those barren, joyless, and sometimes plain devastating days of pregnancy.

I hardly smiled… And yet, from over here, it seems so glamorous and worth salivating over.  (My goodness, I am having so much fun writing this… fondling the inner contours of retrospective memory… it feels indulgent like organic chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream… If it is even a meager crumb as delicious for you to read, I’d call it a Big Win!)  For many days during my second trimester, I was crucified and shattered by lethal grief.  I was sure that Ed had abandoned us, which was truly shocking, because beneath all of the hardship, drama and circumstantial hurdles, I believed in our love.  And here I was, at my most vulnerable, goddessy and delectable, and he was GONE.  (The peanut gallery of experts who live in my computer are informing me that “goddessy” is not a word.  They must be time-warping in the days of dinosaurs and Flintstones…)  But my aim on the page this morning is NOT to make a case against the dearly beloved father of my miraculous daughter.  To his defense, I will say that he was probably feeling ripped down the middle, being enmeshed in his deeply established family constellation, and waking to the refined rings of implication of now having a child with a woman outside that secure system.  Yes, you could argue that he should have considered all that before he planted this karmically weighty seed… Yes, he SHOULD HAVE.  But what if, at the end of the day, we are but Destiny’s Bitches???  And anyway, like Jesus said, “Let he who is free from sin cast the first rotten tomato.”  Umm yeah.  That’s what I thought.

Spiraling back to the center again, I will make a Hemingway-simple assertion:  I know what it is to die while still alive.  And honestly, I’m glad for that.  Because throughout the entire gruesome melee, I never once misplaced my indestructible faith.  Some days I laid in bed, broken in a bazillion pieces, crying from my guts… and I still felt God holding my hand.  And I knew that those excruciating moments were somehow essential.

And Jehova BLESS this wacky, psychedelic dimension of light and shadow that we fondly call hOMe… Because the sucking, satin-black crevices of my world cut breath-giving, artistic contrasts in the masterful, dancing light sculpture of my existence.  At around three months pregnant, I invested in a blinding neon two-piece athletic swim suit, which I sported at “the local pool” (actually, a couple, over the course of my pregnancy) mostly three times a week as I glided graceful, leisurely laps through buoyant and merciful, aquatic heaven.  Swimming is ecstasy for me.  And from this vantage point, parked on the couch with Tiny Goddess now snoozing on my lap, I find it fiercely poetic to see in my mind’s eye, the slow motion, flip book of my belly’s weekly expansion, as I donned that satisfyingly bright, immodest costume.  When I first put it on, I looked like I’d just been drinking too much beer… And then, little by little, Serena’s blessed presence within me became obvious.  By the end, I was nearly naked, and hauling a watermelon through the water.  I remember hot summer afternoons at the Drake pool in San Anselmo, I’d jump into the water with such a heavy heart, it is a wonder I didn’t drown.

Gosh, I can see why people write memoirs… Turning inward, and wandering the evocative and haunted halls of intangible life lived and dissolved, trying to once again dress and caress the empty space of “was”… It is a form of lonely and luxurious intimacy.  An act of love making with our very pure and infinite nebulous something-ness.  I feel like I could quit my day job, and devote my life to wandering fondly backwards (*great book title!)… Grin.  But then, I guess, I’d run out of things to reflect upon!  So I’ll just do a heavy-handed dabble, and then get on with the rugged business of living.  Maybe three thousand tomorrows from now, I will look back on this little shard of the mythic journey I am on, with the hushed rumble of the wood stove purring deeply beneath the overt tinkle-plunk of alphabet on parade.  Typing my life into waxing-immortal existence with balled, seven week old Serena breathing in a peaceful rhythm upon my lap.  The forest gently dawning beyond the walls and windows of my modern life in covert captivity.

Let me tell you of my decadent walks down the almost endless shoreline of Stinson Beach… They were mostly stained with desperation and even some renegade tears.  I walked to save my own life.  I walked, and walked, stalking the elusive wholeness of my heart.  My flip-flops stayed in the car, and I let the great Mother Ocean lick my feet, ankles and calves clean.  Ooooh, that first rush of tingle up my spine, as cold, frothy water pounced on my beseeching feet!  Breathing deep, taking step upon step, because that was all there was to do.  “Pray with your feet,” my wise friend and lover, Dan, who no longer inhabits this plane, used to say.  These words still taunt my linear mind, who can’t quite seem to wrangle their meaning… and yet I know, those inversely glorious jaunts on Stinson Beach were absolutely wordless prayers tracked in wet sand, and immediately devoured by a hungry, undulating Mother.

I almost touched something resembling joy, as I watched the dogs sprint, whirl and splash along the water’s edge.  Languid tongues flouncing, carefree, from their wide-smiling mouths.  In fact, upon reflection, I am certain that Dog Heaven is an endless beach.  There are happy dogs, and then there are ECSTATIC dogs.  With rare exception, beach dogs are of the ecstatic classification.  Watching these furry angels of all shapes and sizes, colors and textures, diverse dispositions and proclivities, perfectly merged in the infinity of their delight, I felt enough light seep in through the sprawling crack in my heart, to lift me to a tolerable state.  A sky inside, aspiring to dawn… though the sun is still busy kissing China goodbye…

And After Birth, Comes Life…

What???  I’ve only been a mother for SIX WEEKS???  That’s ridiculous.  Ridiculous because it feels so perfectly natural, like I’m finally dancing to a song that has been playing in my heart the whole time!  And ridiculous also, because if you ever want to fall off the space-time continuum, you should care for a fresh baked baby twenty-four seven.

Serena is my tootsie roll center.  There is no cumbersome, crusty candy shell to contend with.  Just chocolatey, chewy goodness.  Not that I even like tootsie rolls… but from a technical, and strictly artistic standpoint, I feel that it was a sound choice for an opening sentence to a paragraph about my feelings toward my heaven-sent daughter.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s not always quite as “tender and mild” as the Baby Jesus… and as Bala Krishna, I have not seen the entire universe swirling from within her wide, open mouth… But I HAVE seen it from within her bright, omniscient eyes.  For sure.  She might not be Webster’s definition of “perfect”, but she sure is MINE.  I can finally fathom how mothers can get totally lost in the care of their children, forget themselves, and ultimately have a crisis when their child flies the coop, and they are left to go about their business, of which they abandoned decades ago.  Not that I’m going to do that… I’m just saying, I can SEE how it happens.

Like I said in my birth story, I somehow had a premonition that the excruciating rite of giving birth was just the beginning… of a long stream of birthing myself into new dimensions, facing many burning challenges and ultimately opportunities to yoke my own Wonder Woman-ness.  Boy was that an accurate supposition!  Six weeks in, I feel that my hormones are balancing out swimmingly.  But week two, week three, week four… I shed plenty more than a baker’s dozen over-ripe-summer-fruit tears over how in the Lord’s holy name I was going to do this by myself.  Especially the earning money part.  (Though I must clarify, that to Baby Daddy’s credit, he IS contributing… He’s not behaving at all like wormy trailer trash… But I am still left with an impressive, yet surmountable financial responsibility.)  Yes, the fear of not being able to “make ends meet” haunted me like a serial rapist, whispered incessantly inside me like curdled elevator music, as I went about the sacred work of nurturing and nourishing my Tiny Goddess.

But today, I am not afraid.  Mostly.  Well, okay, maybe a LITTLE afraid.  But fear is certainly not the lead singer in the band of my current cocktail of nuanced notions of reality.  She is such a silky back-up vocalist, you hardly even notice her.  Why?  Because I have witnessed opportunities to earn, rise out of thin air, and even more miraculous, witnessed myself say YES, and fulfill on them.  After bearing witness to the deluge of grace that poured on us durning my pregnancy, and I mean DELUGE, I had little doubt that God would provide… What I doubted was that I would rise to meet God half way, and do MY part…  I totally trusted the Universe “at large”… but my own will felt flimsy.

Ultimately, I declare that I am finally going to stalk, corner and KILL my soul-sourced dream to be a writer.  By the Grace of God, I was offered a job ghost writing a blog for a woman photographer, whose impassioned mission is to help women awaken to our deepest, inside-out beauty! (http://shephotography.com/blog/)  But that makes for a less dramatic adventure on the page… (though it totally deserves my energy, attention and outcries of “Hallelujah”!)

But today’s adventure on the page is a candid peak at the humbling and arduous climb up the majestic mountain of my destiny.  Doesn’t every writer have harrowing and heroic tales of trials, sacrifice and triumph that preceded their ever-so-sweet success?

I was offered a job cleaning the guesthouse at the Crystal Hermitage.  My first thought was somethin’ like “Nah, I don’t want to be a baby-wearing maid.”  But thoughts two through one hundred and eight convinced me that I ought to give it a try, since I DO have rent to pay… The worst thing that could happen would be that I decided it wasn’t for me, and I could graciously bow out.  In fact, as a result of this opportunity, I made a new policy here in Athena Graceland, that I will try things THREE times, before I say yay or neigh (gulp).  This is a stretch for me, who is notorious for obsessively playing scenarios out in my head, without ever encountering them in real time… and hence, spending a crippling amount of time cowering in the shadows of my life.  So, FOR SERENA, I adopted this expansive practice.  Number one, I want to be a good example for her of being IN THE GAME.  And number two, I can’t afford the luxury of living in the warped world of my imagination, when I have a child to support.

The first two times I cleaned the guesthouse, she slept through the whole experience, fastened to my front in her womb-esque baby carrier.  And like a tightrope walker who inadvertently misplaces her reverence for gravity, I dabbled in cockiness.  But it didn’t last much more than two days… the next time I cleaned, the guests had left the place especially messy, and my notions of “blessed” adopted a vastly different face.  I quickly feasted on a fresh, steaming slice of humble pie.  Imagine me, baby clad, squeezing into the narrow space between bed and wall, to secure a clean fitted sheet– a job that would seem easy-breezy to the unencumbered among us… but now it was calling upon the sum of my agility, knowledge of geometry, good humor and grace.  Even with the deep concentration and piercing intention of a himalayan yogi, I failed!  Her head plummeting sideways one too many times, Serena stirred and fussed and then endeavored to free herself from the suddenly not-so-soothing captivity on my front.  Bounce and shush her as I would, she was determined that it was indeed time for some focused attention and fine dining.  Sigh.

Sometimes (often), having an agenda, while caring for a baby is the root of all suffering.  I inwardly cursed and suffered from the depths of my being for a few decadent minutes… and then I reminded myself that one of the reasons I had been offered this job, was that I could do it at my own pace.  I could stop and nurse my little tootsie roll center as needed, and then get back to the hallowed business of dusting and scrubbing.  There really was no reason to suffer… other than for the sheer delight of it!  What finish line was I impossibly scrambling toward, like a bristling, frothy-mouthed dog strangling herself at the taught end of a sturdy tether?  I really had no pressing engagements to attend to.  Only the leisurely beautification of this sanctuary at the edge of a forest valley, and the eternal, devoted care of the daughter that I begged God for from the purest depths of my soul…

Ok.  Downshift.  Serena suckled passionately on my juicy boob for about half an hour, and then I resumed the grinning business of bed-making.  When Serena has a warm, full belly, she is all charismatic shine and smiles.  I nestled my beaming bundle in the cloud of comforter fluff on the floor, and enjoyed the ecstatic ease of making a bed unencumbered.  Occasionally, I’d drink in the vision of my little Serene Bean, cooing, flailing her tiny arms, kicking her legs, and flashing gummy grins, and I’d brim with bliss that fueled my mundane mission.

It was not too long before she began to fuss again.  I put her back in her sling, and to my great relief, she easily fell asleep again.  She continued to sleep as I dusted, scrubbed the toilet, scoured the bathtub, vacuumed (I kid you not!), scrubbed linoleum floors on my hands and knees… All the while I mused on my years of persistent spiritual practice.  Twisting my body into sacred shapes, while breathing magnificently deep, calling God’s names, as nimble fingers fondled strands of beads, endeavoring to find Silence behind the wallpaper of thoughts that line my mind…

And now, here I was, doing what felt to me like REAL spiritual practice.  The labor of love.  The exponentially challenging act of performing the most simple tasks with a small holy one strapped to my body, in the name of “providing for our family”.  Offering my energy and attentive care to a resplendent retreat, where people come to bask in peace and serenity.  I marveled at how doing everything with a constantly needy little human in tow is ten times harder, yet a bazillion times more meaningful and satisfying. (Even as I type this, she suckles at my breast and intermittently demands my full attention.  Some of it, this sentence for example, was even typed with one hand!!)  I quietly smiled as I began to write this piece in my head, delighting in my thirst to portray my existence in a way that might be of value to your sprawling, valiant soul’s journey.

God, I hope I’m not eeking out a living cleaning houses for a living for the rest of my life!… or even the rest of the year… But for now, I offer myself to the path that is opening before my mostly graceful, slender, surrendered feet.  I believe that one can do ANYTHING with love, presence and devotion, and that alone IS the meaning.  And paradoxically, I also believe that I have a calling to live out loud.  To be big, bold, passionate, poetic, creative and courageous… AS MY SERVICE TO YOU.

God please continue to guide and bless me, that I shall gently become the woman of my dreams, thriving in joy and wealth and creative expression in service of ALL.

Amen.