Humility Dawns in Athena Graceland

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

This is Grace.

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

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

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The Silver Whisper of Mortality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.