Transcendence on the loose!

Honestly, I started to get sick of the linguistic moans of my own tortured soul.  A year of blogs strewn with grief and “second world problems”. (Is there such a thing as second world?  I don’t feel like I’m part of the first world, over here in the medieval farmlands of Italia, with hot water heated by the wood stove during winter and a twenty-year-old, patchwork Fiat… But our toilets DO flush… so it can’t be the third world…)

 

I feared I was a broken record, bemoaning all my woes in electric pink typeface, as tears streamed down my thirty-nine year old cheeks.  But soft beams of light are now bleeding from the not-too-distant end of my dark-assed tunnel, and they whisper promise of being gloriously blinding one day.  

 

When I first landed in Italy, my friend Miriam (who has lived in this intense region herself) said I had found “my people”.  Inside I thought, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???” These intense loudmouths, who prefer shouting over each other to good old fashioned sharing and listening… But a year and a baby in, I wonder if she might be right.  Maybe I am a loudmouth lunatic at heart. Haha.

 

My Italian still has a long way to go, but I can understand enough to get the jist of 69% of conversations…  And I’m starting to feel damn fond of the passionate, giving hearts of these people. I can’t even get through a trip to the grocery store without being barraged by heart-full glances, words and acts of service (Yesterday and old couple gave me front-cuts and then paid for my water and cashews before I even knew what was happening!).  I can show up at anybody’s house at any time and be received with fervent hospitality and enthusiasm: snacks, tea, toys for Serena, casual conversation and smooches on both cheeks. 

 

In California, I usually radiated an aura of friendliness that reflected back on me in most settings… but still… there is a very unique and delicious collective signature over here.  America still reeks of that deep-seated, Declaration of Independence, “each man for himself” vibe. Get ahead, muther fuckers. But Italy is full of die-hard, family oriented children of the earth.  Often, I’m the only one under seventy at the spring where I collect water. Cars parked on the side of the road, “their people” foraging blackberries, wild asparagus and soon, my favorite– CHESTNUTS!!

 

Yesterday evening, me and my cute little family went to a celtic harp concert at the Saraswati House- a renowned school of Indian music, nestled deep in the green, furry hills above our home.  Giordano’s dad has studied and taught there since the stone age or something. He is a master of bansuri flute. Celtic harp isn’t exactly “Indian”… but somehow this exquisitely talented earth angel made her way onto the roster.  

 

I have a serious “thing” for harp music.  Always have. Maybe it evokes visceral memories of Where I Come From.  

 

I stopped chasing transcendence at least a decade ago… because I only exhausted myself in the fruitless pursuit of the elusive I AM that I AM.  No matter what I did and didn’t do, I never could touch or taste this elusive “IT”. Since then, I’ve had a few unsuspecting brushes with this hallowed magic carpet of timeless contentment, whence I am swept into the palatial Presence of The Infinite.  

 

Last night was one such stroke of auspiciousness: Nestled on a mattress against the wall of a hippy-ish room- the floor covered in oriental rugs and cushions facing a low stage. Profoundly imperfect and devoted husband to my left, wriggling but silent almost-four-year-old soulmate daughter to my right, fresh, eternity-drenched baby boy in my lap.  Transfixed by quick agile fingers plucking evocative, golden melodies out of thin air. I was hypnotized by the unbroken motion of a marvelous tree who offered up her lusciously green leaves to the wildness of the wind through a rectangle of window within my view. Tears stung my shy eyes as the complex strings of my very own heart were masterfully struck.  The fantasy-stained revelation of every moment already lived, yet to be met… washed out in the understated perfection of this eternal, fleeting NOW.  

 

As I recount this precious, revelatory scene, I wonder what of THIS “eternal, fleeting NOW”?  Is it less transcendent and special? Am I less content and realized? Nah… This is a damn delicious slice of hallowed Existence too.  Dangerously groovy beats streaming into my ears, Forest a-slumber in his carseat at my feet, clinking plates and muted conversations casting a backdrop of ambiance as I dive deep into Athena Graceland and offer relics of my consciousness in the name of Creation, Revelation,  self-pleasure, cosmic posterity… The poetry of Existence as sung by this awe-struck, God-drunk One.

 

But what about the “yucky” moments that arise?  I’m getting better at savoring them. Last night after the concert, Giordano and I found ourselves in one of our blessedly frequent squabbles.  They are mostly so stupid that I quickly forget their content… they are usually to the tune of me feeling unheard, unseen, criticized, insulted, telling him as much and being met with a revolving door of attack and defense.  We are two people from distant galaxies living under one roof. We collide and clash and throw off dangerous sparks as easy as we breathe. I was doing the dishes and spitting fire. A light came on inside as it occurred to me that I could savor this flavor of relating-  the ridiculous, riveting play of me-and-him-ness. As the sleeping victim inside me awoke and undressed, I became slippery with sass, inebriated by the epiphanic rush that none of it REALLY mattered. Two bruised up children, gleefully hurling mud pies at one another, while their ever-wakeful souls spill with mirth.  And maaaaaaybe, just maybe…. I even LOVE him…

 

This past year I scratched lines into the walls of my cell, meticulously counting the days of my stay in hell, dreamt of my impending escape, struggled not to drown in the goopy swamp of self-hatred, wondered how in fuck’s ugly name this could possibly be my “Highest Destiny Manifest”, God’s Omniscient Wisdom and Love in Action…. 

 

But from my autumnal perch in “Dolce Peccato” cafe, in this happening fondly known as “Today”, it seems like what’s on the other side of all the suffering is True Freedom.  (Probably what is on the other side of all suffering…) Like a slow-flashing strobe light, I keep having glimpses of this delicious state of consciousness. I breathe deep and flood with the gentle ecstasy of self love.  

 

Forest is a miracle worker.  He has bathed our family in healing light.  Day by mundane day, I am rising (as opposed to “falling”) in love with my imperfect little life.  Shedding layers of incongruent “supposed to”s. Last winter, a woman I hold in The Highest suggested that “loving what I have” might be The Path.  This seemed like crossing an impossible ravine. No conceptualizing my way across…`

 

But my poetically persuaded homeboy Hafiz called it, way back in the fourteenth century when he said, 

“This sky where we live

Is no place to lose your wings

So love, love, love.” 

 

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A bridge between hearts

On the outside, summer has melted into the cool breath of autumn.  The gods have ostentatiously announced this turn by hurling copious lightning bolts and savage booms of thunder upon the green heart of Italy, as Umbria is fondly known.  Deluges of rain drench the earth with abandon.  This transforms the suffocatingly humid air to cool, sweet delicacy.  The trees are still green.  (I am dreading their impending shedding and nakedness…)  The days are no longer unbearably hot.  Just warm and friendly.  But winter winks and whispers from not too far off.

 

On the inside though, my hellish walkabout through emotional, spiritual winter is showing signs of thawing.

 

Forest’s arrival was NOT a graceful transition.  Preparing for birth gets so much hype… but often, the postpartum period gets left to the wolves.  This is mostly how it was for me.  I made a few feeble cries for help… and received a bit of blessed support around the ragged, jagged edges… Mostly in the form of a meal here, and a meal there… But my primary experience as a sudden mother of two with a thrashed and bleeding vagina, and a ripped open heart, was a desolate one.  I do NOT recommend this experience.  If you are pregnant, or intending to become pregnant…. ASK FOR HELP.  Demand help.  Feel wildly worthy of help.  Saturate yourself in support, postpartum.

 

I could get lost in the gory details of my searing postpartum experience, but that’s not what my heart longs to share.  I survived.  My body is resilient and strong.  Now Forest is one and a half months earthside.  And spring is breathing light and warmth upon the barren scapes of my heart and soul.

 

Don’t get me wrong… Life is demanding, and my body tense from holding and nursing a baby all day, while perpetually juggling the needs, demands and whims of an almost four year old and maintaining the impossible tidiness of a not-so-small house…

 

During my pregnancy, Giordano often expressed a hope that Forest would bring us all closer and balance the dynamics of our family.  Though deep down I shared this wish with him, I still mostly cringed when he spoke it… because it seemed like way too much responsibility to load onto a nine pound human with a soft, open skull.  (He’s twelve pounds by now…)  From my vantage point in this moment, it appears that Forest’s mighty soul IS actually capable of this superhuman feat.

 

It always comes back to the timeless chicken and egg quandary… Does the inside give rise to the outer?… Or…???  But as I grope about in these invisible realms, my intuition says that what we perceive as “inner” and “outer” are but one sentient, infinite ISness.

 

I always have a figurative finger on the pulse of The Collective.  Recently, I felt an intangible shift that was beyond me and my own paltry circumstances. AND at the same time, my said paltry circumstances began to shift…

 

Witnessing the depth of love and care that Giordano has for his son made it increasingly difficult to abide in my cherished, long-standing fantasy of fleeing with my children to the familiar and now legendary land of California The Beautiful.  I still mostly did not like my husband… but this distaste began to pale in the bright luminosity of his paternal love.

 

I challenged myself to practice approving of him… even in the face of my glaring distaste for his ways.  I really CAN be a critical bitch.  Honestly, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of my curdled criticism.  Simultaneously, Giordano became less aggressive.  He began to apologize faster and touch (and actually FEEL) me more.  You could argue that this was a function of my behavioral shift… but my sense is that there was a larger energetic gale at play.

 

Theories and hypotheses aside… more lightness is dawning upon our home and family.  I still don’t luxuriate in the company of my husband… but nor do I drown in distaste and pain, as I oft did before.  Forest is a bridge between our hearts and minds, where before it was mostly impossible to pass.  With this exotic flavor of newfound affinity, anything is possible for us…

 

Concurrent with my nuptial blossoming, I experienced a delicious, pivotal moment in my relationship with Italy.  I was at the grocery store with my kids…

 

Italian people are wild about pregnant women, and even wilder about babies.  Everywhere I turn, I am serenaded by a chorus of impassioned exclamation, “AMORE!”.  Women, and even a few men, lust for a peek at the angelic face of my slumbering baby snuggled against my bosom in his wrap.

 

So there we were, civilizedly foraging for food at the aesthetically mediocre Coop, which is nestled in the archaic heart of Gualdo Tadino, being fawned over by the masses.  An almost young, blue-eyed man offered me front cuts in the intimidatingly long checkout line.  But there was another couple between me and him.  Flustered, I looked to them for a read on the situation.  I was shocked when they both smiled and waved me in front of them, as though it was sheerly autonomic.  A red carpet sprawled open beneath my astonished feet.

 

I attempted and mostly failed to share a friendly conversation with the kind man who instigated the front cuts, but despite the lack of intellectual understanding, my heart and the entire mOMent overflowed with warmth.

 

Pushing the shopping cart into the warm, sunny morning, I had the warm, fuzzy thought, “I like it here in Italy.”  Followed by the stunned realization that I had never had that thought before.  I fondled and reflected upon this new awareness for a bit… and concluded that it was probably a fleeting fluke.  After all, my emotional waves tend to be drastic and dramatic and watery.

 

To my surprise, the feeling has lasted.  I realize that I have adjusted to life over here.  For the first year, I was painfully aware of what was missing.  Foods, friends, family, comfy swings that cradle your butt at the playground, the ability to have a damn conversation….

 

But I’m starting to develop a taste for pizza… I make my own peanut butter.  I found pickles that don’t totally blow.  I brew my own water kefir.  The list goes on… but the moral of the story is that I am synching up with my new environment and life.  I am not devastated by the often silence between Giordano and I when we drive places together.  Sure, in my ideal world it would be swell to love to talk with my husband… but silence is kinda okay too… He DOES put his hand on my leg mostly always…

 

I love our land, abounding with fruits and foragables… I love how safe I feel here.  Serena can wander about freely.  (Not that she does, mostly.  She tends to cling.)  I am able to understand quite a bit of Italian, even if my speaking is butt-ass remedial…

 

Reflecting on my suffering, my dear friend Dara invited me to reflect on my original Desire/intention for coming to Italy.  I had to dig a bit to get back there… but it was FAMILY.  I ached for family.  And now I have it.  Gloriously imperfect, as Life mostly is… but nutritious and beautiful too… if I’m open to it.

 

Given the incessant imperfection of life in/as duality, may I embrace the grace that is always here.  What a shame it would be to awaken to this ever-flawed goodness as I am blinking out of this existence.

 

Sunlight and Sweet Relief

Mmmm somebody at the table next to me is wearing aftershave.  As a kid, I used to relish watching my dad shave before work (swing shift in the casino!).  He’d squirt a shamelessly generous poof of Barasol beard buster shaving cream into his hand, spread it about his five o’clock shadow and go to town with his blue bic razor.  Fast and focused.  I’m sure he could have performed this ritual in the dark.  Then he’d rinse, dry and pat his tender, virgin cheeks with enchanting, blue splash of Aqua Velva.  To my seven year old self, this was the scent of a man.

 

Smell.  So powerful.  A memory orbiting a distant moon, suddenly fallen like a smoldering comet in my nostalgic lap.

 

I’m happy today.  And profusely hoping that I can ride this wave all the way to shore.  Wishing said shore was days away.  One of my earth angels, Dianne, said that with sunlight and a heart that says yes, I am a force to be reckoned with.  I feel that today.

 

I feel that filled with this happiness, I can do ANYTHING.  I feel wealthy and bold and creative.

 

Even though I barely slept.  Sleep is not my forte lately.  Most nights, I fall asleep with Serena in her bed… wake an hour later, pee (at this point, I spend half my life peeing) and then snuggle like a soft, squishy animal into bed with Giordano.  At which point, I rest into the weight of my struggle and the suppressed force of my Desires.  He is exhausted and quickly becomes a virtuoso performance of gentle snores.  I lay in his arms, envious of his ability to relax and release, calling out to an unresponsive God to fucking help me.

 

How’s THAT for glamorous?

 

Quite frankly, in this moment it DOES seem a bit glamorous.  Angels in heaven don’t have such privilege and pleasure.  WE get to swill grit and darkness by the cup-full.  WE get to embody a spectral depth of poetry that cannot be fabricated or feigned.  Of course I can only say this because my Merciful Lord hath lifted me to “the surface” for a generous hit of sunlight and existential relief.  From here, the depth of my Journey looks stunning.

 

I AM so thankful for my people.  If I died in this moment, my heart would explode like a huge cream-filled balloon and your BEingness would shatter and refract as rainbow sunlight in every direction throughout all space.  I’m feeling you all.  Seeing your faces, hearing your unique music curl like incense smoke throughout my Infinity Within.  In the eyes of my ego, I am so imperfect… but in my love for you, I am limitless, pure and perfect.

 

I was suffering because Giordano has been WORKING.  He leaves early in the morning, and returns home at bedtime.  During the day, he sends me loving little audio messages.  Nothing fancy.  He’s not a poet.  Nor excessively feminine.  But his heart is sincere.  This makes me miss him and want more….

 

We planned a sunday trip to the “seaside” (adorably, that’s what he calls “the beach”)  and sweetly anticipated it all week.  I can’t recall a single time since I’ve been in Italy, where we’ve done something together and had a harmonious, nourishing, pleasurable experience… mostly it’s hard to connect, I feel lonely, we fight…

 

But still, I brought my Beginner’s Mind on Sunday.  When the rubber met the road, he was “nervous” (and mean as a biproduct).  And I was like, “Really???  We’ve been anticipating this beautiful day all week, and now THIS is the best you’ve got???”

 

But apparently it was….

 

As is often the case, he didn’t respond when I talked.  He interrupted me.  He complained and ruminated on things not of the Present.  He drank a small bottle of white wine with lunch, like he does on most of his few days off… as if this were a legitimate escape from the burden of his overactive mind.

 

Little by little over the course of the day, my heart closed.  Despite this, I strove to enjoy Serena’s refreshing, innocent company, let the sunlight and warmth recharge me, release my burdens to the salty, undulating sea.  I sort of succeeded… in a decapitated fashion.

 

But LISTEN.  I am NOT telling you all this to defame my husband.  I understand him pretty well… These days, he is living beneath an intensity of pressure that would break most mortals.  Considering this, he’s actually been pretty damn nice.  He’s breaking through some deeep-assed patterns of anger and cruelty.  Doesn’t mean I’m loving it… but my respect for him grows.  This is a big part of what makes me stay.  That, and his love for our unborn sun.  He loves our baby (and Serena) too much for me to leave without giving him a chance.  Though the notion of leaving is an unrelenting devil on my shoulder, who taunts and seduces me until I am stumble drunk on his hollow promises of happiness in distant lands.

 

Last night, we nestled into bed pregnant with The Unspoken.  Instead of passing out, he stayed with me.  Slowly we unraveled some profoundly unwieldy knots.  He impressed me with his capacity to receive my harsh honesty, and stay open.  I wish he was more consistent in this domain.  But perhaps, with practice he will be.  Because he didn’t used to be this good.

 

We talked until we were empty and united.  Then he asked if he could lick my…. Uh-huh.  I have been feeling so sexually shut down these days.  Depression and lack of trust is not exactly an aphrodisiac, as it turns out.  But what did I have to lose???

 

He rocked it.  In general, he has good technique… yet mostly, I feel like HE’S not loving it.  He’s just being courteous.  I’m all for courtesy… but there IS something to be said for The Zone.   The alchemical expanse where giver and receiver melt and meld into one sprawling puddle of pleasure.

 

I’m not gonna give you all the details of my sex life.

 

That’s not my point.  My point is that I don’t believe I should hide the full spectrum honesty of my existence out of shame and cultural conditioning.  Sex should be normalized and healthy and spoken of at LEAST as freely as struggles and fighting.  And another point is that talking shit out is rad.  I mean like super rad… but it can only get a couple so far.  The rest must be said with wordless lips, with touch and lust and passionate, embodied love.  I dare you to argue.

 

I awoke early this morning, and the freshly hatched day was a-flood with sunlight and the exotic, diverse songs of birds.  It also happens to be Giordano’s birthday.  My body was still brimming with pleasure.  I got up and made us coffee, brought it back to bed, and we tandemly geeked on our phones.  (As much as I despise it, my phone is a portal to so many loving connections.  Sigh.)  Oh, modern day romance… not too romantic.  But the Moral of the Story, is that I felt happy.  And leisurely.  Serena slept until 8am.  And I found myself laughing at the “problems” that usually plague me and sink my blessed ship.

 

Then I wrote it all down, and feel Brilliant.

 

May this wash of sweet relief sustain me for…

Days…

Or perhaps lifetimes.

 

Thank you for your LOVE.

Thank you for your Courage.

Thank you for Believing in me.

Thank you for BEing.

 

Love,

Athena

 

Success in the Rubble of the Patriarchy

Recently, I googled “why are Italians so intense”, but I was disappointed by the lack of illumination provided to me by the omniscience of the world wide web.

 

This morning my BFF Anitra sent me an audio message which spoke to this burning curiosity in me.  She said she saw a time-tested latin quote posted somewhere that basically said “go fuck yourself” and mused on how this spoke to the ongoing culture of brutality that is Roman Civilization.  A sprawling history of dominance, beheading, crucifixion, thirst for “power” (as opposed to the real shit, which of coure is L-O-V-E).  Yup.  This feels true inside me.

 

I wonder what sorts of wars and festivals, rites and relations have happened on this very slab of earth, beneath the concrete mass that is now a tragically generic grocery store (at which we frequently shop), massive, double-decker parking lot and cafe (abounding with pretty, seductive morsels fashioned from white flower and white sugar) at which I sit splashing my musings upon the face of a benevolently glowing screen…  I guess the answer to this question could reveal a compelling story no matter which piece of earth one occupies.  Dense paper mache layers of history.  Past, present and FUTURE.  Maybe someday, this little piece of earth will be covered in flowers, gurgling streams and cute, furry animals.   Hopefully it won’t become a nuclear wasteland….

 

That triple paragraph musing didn’t really lead anywhere, as it would have in my “ideal world”… but I DO want it to be recorded in the annals of Herstory that in 2019, Athena Grace struggled (daily) to make amends with an environment which has endured a heavy-handed dose of Patriarchal influence.  A land where she never ceases to be amused and depending on her mood, also repulsed by the dirt-common practice of communication that lives like people shouting at each other.

 

My poor husband… perpetually perplexed by his utterly ordinary way of speaking often making his wife bristle, cower, cry.

 

I reckon no one is exempt from navigating the pitted inner and outer wastelands of Patriarchal damage at this point.  We are so steeped in it, we often don’t even recognize how warped we are.

 

Lately I’ve become too pregnant to “make anything of myself”, careerwise.  I was really giving it a valiant crack.  I intended to get my online women’s circles reignited and pumpin with shakti-sauce.  I feel sad writing that, because I SO want to.  But the reality is, I’m anywhere from tired to exhausted most of the time.  I have a three year old who needs so much of me.  My mom is dead.  My friends and family are an ocean and landmass away.  My husband works all the time.

 

I could suffer about all this… or just lay down my sword and shield and embrace the current weather system of ISness.  Or as Rosymoon perfectly summed it up once upon a time, “Yesness to the ISness is my Business.”  Damn straight Sisterhood.

 

Once again, I watch my deepest dreams and soul-full longings elude me; turn to sacred vapor in my pulsing palm.  To be a famous writer.  To be an inspiring leader of Women, trailblazer of global sanity, unapologetic, fluorescent luminary of Unity Consciousness.

 

But many of the sane and brilliant women whom I surround myself with have been echoing a similar message to me recently… they speak of their own inquiry into the notions of “success” and “fulfillment”.  Is our incessant striving for BIGGER-BETTER-MORE merely the deep scarring of a perverted, collective thought system?

 

It feels so true inside me that I want to BE SOMEBODY.  DO SOMETHING.  Create and generate from the raw passion that I AM.  But… is it not monumental to grow a human with my own body?  And not just ANY old human…. But an awake soul who embodies the potential to guide the world back into sacred balance?  My children will pick up where I left off.  And I have made a lot of progress in the Way of Love and Truth.  In the Way of purging Collective bullshit.  And I will do my BEST not to jam them in constricting boxes.  (God HELP ME forgive myself for all the little ways I fuck up every day… and affirm and reaffirm and celebrate the modest though cumulative successes we accrue.)

 

Is it not legendarily stupendous that my heart has opened to my husband?… Haha, after ten months and a nearly ripe baby…

 

I DO!  I finally love him!  Pop the chorus of champagne corks…  Ohhh… I miss that obsolete version of me…. Who wore flashy tights and short mini skirts and boots, and launched champagne corks to the moon before swigging the bubbly with (sweetly controlled) abandon.  Not that I ever want to be any manner of drunk again…. Well, yes, I DO.  I want to be GOD-DRUNK.  “Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace”, to be precise (this is the title I have my amazon orders addressed to actually…).  I want to feel less serious.  I want to cut loose and dance around and play about everything, with the gaily gurgling spirit of an Eternal Child.  But Lord Have Mercy, it sure is hard to “get it up”, when you’re trudging pregnant through a parched, scorching desert.  Cue up the fucking violins….

 

But while the violins moan and croon, I will sing to you of how I found love for Giordano….

 

Last week, the density of my Life crushed me again.  And I came damn fucking close to leaving this harsh land of Roman fall-out.  This time, it was not in reaction to cruel, barbaric behavior on the part of my “ball and chain”.  It was simply… EVERYTHING.  Some days I just hate my life.  I miss having friends.  I miss not being able to talk to “strangers”.  It feels so desolate and barren.  And often I feel just as lonely when I’m with Giordano… to no fault of his.  We just don’t jive.  He lives mostly in his intricate, self-proclaimed-genius (perhaps he really is one…) mind.  But in terms of emotional/relational intelligence, he often sucks ass.  But then sometimes he doesn’t.

 

On the heels of weeks melting into months of drowning depression, I told him I was considering going back to California.  He got scared.   And hence mean.  Like a cobra snake puffing up in defense of his precious little serpentine body.  But at some level I was glad, because his meanness justified my intended exit.  My dad told me he’d give me the money to fly home, if I truly felt this was the right choice.

 

But third time IS a charm.  Instead of taking impulsive action, I told Daddy Dearest that I have fucked up ENOUGH times making emotionally impulsive decisions… I needed some time to sit with the offer.  That night I didn’t sleep.  At 3:30am I came back to bed and Giordano awoke.  He asked me what was going on and I started to cry from the immense pressure and ache inside.  He embraced me with his raw, unguarded heart.  I realized this unconditional, saturated holding was my deepest desire.

 

He said he understood me.  He spoke of his played-the-fuck-out pattern to leave before he is abandoned.   He confessed the part of him that has been tempted to walk away before I do.  But he knows that territory better than his own… dick (Which I refer to as his “Best Friend”) and he’s ready to do something new.  Fucking Courageous.

 

I found respect for him that night.  And the entry point into the possibility of Trust.  We acknowledged that we have struggled to trust one another.  And that we both deeply desire to trust.

 

Since then, everything has felt different.  Something crumbled and fell away.  My heart feels soft and open.  Even when I don’t like him….

 

This MUST be “success”.

 

But life still often feels lonely and frustrating (believe me, I AM making concerted effort to count my blessings and savor the little mOMents of grace…).  This must be what if feels like for an ego to unravel.  Uncomfortable and confusing.  But maybe something good is happening….

 

Wounded Masculine: Making love to my Beautiful Crucible

I was elated that I finally had time and space to write… and now I am here, staring at the blank page like a newborn gazelle.  I’ve written like twelve blogs in my head since I last gushed my heart and life onto the page. Ooooh, but even the sheer experience of typing a single-file stream of letters is singing me back into realized wholeness.  A wounded soldier, sipping broth from a spoon. Am I a wounded soldier? Haha, maybe! I’m not willing to commit to that persona, but I will happily share my pot of mint tea with It, and let it take a load off in the friendly atmosphere of my psyche!

 

I know what I wanted to say!  I listened to Paul Simon’s album, “Graceland” this morning.  And like always, it was a profound experience. That album lives in my bones and my soul.  My dad had the cassette tape when I was a child… like maybe seven years old. And we played the crap out of it.  (Also the U2 album, “The Joshua Tree”.)

 

I’m awestruck by how deeply music can touch The Soul.

 

Anyway, I’ve been grappling with my “Father Wound” at an especially deep level lately.  Which implies to me that I am ready for the next level of healing and Self-integration.

 

My Daddy.  I’ve always had a searing longing to MATTER to him.  Like not just “matter”…. But MATTER. You know? Like in the most indispensable and essential sense of the word.  But that was not the imprint I was *blessed* to receive. I’ve had little crumb-esque moments of feeling that. And I guess that’s why I create relationships with men that are based in the “currency of crumbs”.

 

When I crashed “Penis Ray-Ray”, I asked my Pops for $alvation.  And maaaan, did he deliver. He was so fucking generous. (Between him and the golden net of friends in my life, we were able to resurrect our beloved Fiat, BTW!)  And I should predicate that I AM NOT a trust fund baby. And my Daddy In Shining Armor is not always there to ease the burden of Existing in this capitalist shit show otherwise known as “Modern Life”.  My soul chose the rugged, off-road adventure of being born to financially strapped parents! If I ever find the Emerald City that is Prosperity, I will be an entirely Self-Made Rich Bitch. Which will make it taste all the sweeter.

 

So he gave me money when I neeeeded it.  And that was his best stab at loving me. But concurrently, I was leaving him sincere, soul-bearing. love-filled audio messages… to which he never replied.  I guess this is a new-ish iteration of our relationship. One that has emerged with the advent of smart phones and WhatsApp. I have left him too many audio messages, to which he mostly doesn’t reply.  (To his credit, sometimes I beg him, and then he does.)

 

Intellectually, I know it’s not personal.  Maybe, being a dinosaur, he’s just not a fan of communicating through “modern technology”.  Maybe he’s too busy breaking a sweat in his unrelenting hamster wheel… supporting his wife and twenty year old twins who still live at home.  Et cetera, et cetera.

 

Emotionally… that’s another story.  If I let myself feel the raw truth of it, it’s crushing.  It totally blows. My inner child is cowering in a puddle of her own tears.

 

And then I look at the most relevant men in my life… The two fathers of my children.  

 

Oh wait, time out.  I just experienced a powerful in-the-mOMent wave of grief.  I looked up from this word stew and saw a neighbor woman wheeling a full shopping cart out of the adjacent grocery store.  Her mother is sitting at the table (in the cafe) next to me with the three year old granddaughter. I witnessed this simple play of Life, and was broadsided by sadness that my mom is gone, and will NEVER hang out with Serena, noshing on croissants (my Ma’s favorite), while I perform basic, requisite life tasks.  These emotions seem an indulgent river to swim in. She’s gone and that’s just the way it is. But I’m happy to announce this spontaneous burst of sadness. And to amplify the tragedy, Giordano’s parents, though close in physical proximity, have not proved to be much support in the way of “grandparents”… Maybe when “their own” grandson emerges from the water world of my womb, they will be more… “inspired”.  Or maybe they smoke too much weed to care.

 

And now back to our previously scheduled program.  Men. Serena’s dad. Remains a legend in my heart. Despite how half-assed his participation in our lives has been.  Fuck. What can I say? People are disappointing. AND. Love is love. Especially Soul Love. That’s the shit that’s invincible to circumstances.  Even from across the world, he makes and breaks my heart on a semi-regular basis. And yet…. All I can do is keep giving of my Self. The other day, I told him how much it sucked ass… to give him my heart, again and again, and get met with silence (deja vous).  He said something to the effect of, “Yeah, but it’s your Path to give love… and maybe someday I’ll show up in the fullness you crave.”

 

My gut response was FUCK YOU.

 

But.

 

He is right.  Giving love, without the guarantee of return IS my Path, and my Nature.  Unconditional. And meanwhile, to remember and embody the Truth, that I am one with Source.  I do not need to rely on external sources for love. This Path of Mastery might suck in moments from the view of my flailing ego… but for my deep, badass Soul, it is hella satisfying.  What I find inside is MINE forever. Divine forever. So BRING ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL FIRE, Bitches.

 

Then there’s my husband*.  Who is laughably flawed. Searingly unsatisfying in his narrow capacity to meet me with any depth of presence, or emotional intelligence.  He is sooo perpetually enraptured by the incessant, swirling eddies of his own “hella compelling” thoughts, that it appears virtually IMPOSSIBLE for him to truly listen to me most of the time.  But… He’s a total wild card. Damn unpredictable. So one out of ten times, I am pleasantly surprised by the felt experience of being heard.

 

*And even if in so many moments, he occurs as emotionally retarded, HE IS SO FUCKING SINCERE IN HIS DESIRE TO GROW, TO IMPROVE, TO LEARN.  And to Love…

 

All that to say that I’m really making love to my own crucible these days.  My surface mind cannot grasp the full implication of the healing that is taking place, as I live through this emotionally stained material with an open, courageous heart.  The deeper me keeps saying “Athena, have FAITH. Faith in the profound Intelligence of Life. Faith that what is rising to the surface, is setting you free. Faith in the strength and power of the LOVE that flows through you from The Beyond.”

 

I believe that it is also mega noteworthy that I am on the precipice of becoming mother to a boy.  It seems that this profound soul is catalyzing deeeep healing of my wounds around The Masculine. I have no fucking idea what “Inner Marriage” actually feels like inside… or how to embrace and integrate my own “inner masculine”.  Or who the fuck “Heavenly Father” actually IS for me. Though I want to know all of this. But I DO know that love is always the Answer and the Way. And I know that I gotta “feel it to heal it.”

 

So I breathe humility into inner discomfort and confusion.  And affirm the Divine Perfection and Grace of all that is arising Inside.

 

While my Journey is deeeply personal… I acknowledge the collective nature of what I am experiencing.  The Patriarchy (God bless it) has really fucked us up, collectively speaking. I have not witnessed too many fabulously healthy fathers along my earthly walk-about.  Not to say they don’t exist. THEY DO!!!! They MUST!!! But most men are hurled into adulthood, uninitiated, blind and battered. Taught that it is shameful to feel.  Taught to be tough and do it alone. Taught to work HARD for their piece of the pie, and deny their own needs (except in acts of guilt-ridden secrecy.

 

And now, let’s bareback ride this spiraling story back to Graceland.  That album opens a world inside me where my Dad is Immortal and Perfect.  I realized that this morning as I danced ecstatically around the house. This was a huge victory.  To know that no matter how broken my heart may feel, in relation to my Dad, there lives a place inside of me where he abides in Innocence and Perfect Love.  And I have found the address and the map. Naturally, it is Graceland.

 

That’s enough for now.  Just know I’m over here “doin’ the Work.  Clearing Inner Space for true sovereignty and wholeness to live through me and heal and bless the World.  Invoking a thriving, balanced World, founded on a “happy marriage”. Hella holy matrimony of healthy, integrated Masculine and Feminine.  It’s not an easy job, but it satisfies my Soul.

 

I trust that YOU, too, are toiling gloriously in your own rite.  Bringing your uniquely flavored soul music to the current climate of transformation, death and rebirth rocking planet Earth.  THANK YOU. I appreciate your blood and sweat and salty, devoted love.

 

With Epic Love from Athena Graceland,

Athena Grace

Savoring my existential knots.

Fever-stricken girl

And dreaming cat beside me

As I ache and type

 

The blog I wrote on this day last year popped up as a facebook memory this morning.  Curious to recall my reality exactly one year ago, I read it. Ingeniously, it began with a “portrait of the moment” haiku.  It was fun to read, so I thought I’d give it another go.

 

Yeah, a shadow has swept across my inner scapes today.  Not unusual. I’ve been in a particularly bipolar experience these days.  One day, deep, dark despair, the next, a respite of inexplicable ecstasy, back to darkness, and then a few consecutive days of muted, lackluster peace.  I’m not bipolar, for the record. Just deeply sensitive. And in some sort of baffling growth period.

 

Serena is sleeping on the couch beside me.  She has a juicy fever. Her first in a long time.  The bug is rampant right now. My immune system is putting up a noble fight.  But I feel wiped out.

 

I didn’t come to the page with a burning agenda…. Other than to get naked and express myself.  Because it has been too long. It is a daily challenge to jam all my priorities and passions into a grain of rice and then thread it through the eye of a needle.  Lately, most mornings I give to toaist energy cultivation practices I am learning in an online course. Given the difficulty of my inner landscapes these days, I need to be reSourced.  Great medicine for me. I have also been meditating more.

 

I gave up meditation after a steady practice for about ten years… because I felt like I was approaching the practice from my spiritual ego, and not getting much out of it anymore.  I just felt hella cool to be a “meditator”. It was a relief to let go of that. Soon after, I got pregnant with Serena, and then I lost the luxury of lavish, lengthy sadhanas in the morning.  Meditation lurked in the shadows of exile. But lately, I can’t deny my need for frequent doses of stillness. Mini vacations from the riveting identification with the endless stream of personalities and circumstances and struggles otherwise known as Life.  Ahhhhh. Nutrient dense shit.

 

Speaking of personalities and circumstances and struggles (OH MY!), here is the current existential knot I am attempting to tease apart:  I have been living in an increasingly constricted state of closure, married to Giordano. I don’t feel emotionally safe to be open. He occurs for me as very inconsistent.  Emotionally unstable. He is living under an insurmountable pile of responsibilities and burdens, and struggles to manage his stress. (God bless him. Seriously.) I rarely feel heard or received by him when I share.  Being heard is a massive need for me and it feels terrible when, all too often, my thoughts and words, desires and feelings are sucked into a black hole. In order to not feel said terrible feeling over and over and over again, I just close up.  Blah.

 

Living in this state of closure sucks rotten ass.  It feels so foreign to me. I value openness and expansive, fluid self expression.  It’s so easy to justify my closure. It seems natural in the face of having a husband who struggles with Presence, listening and inner stability.  One who does not know how to interact such that another feels “gotten”, “received”, “heard”. (Poor guy… he was never given the grace of feeling gotten, received, heard as a child.  His parents were too busy fighting with one another. So it’s just not in his wiring. He’s trying. I admire that.)

 

I’m typing all this, and it sounds utterly ridiculous.  Like how in Fuck’s Holy Name did I wind up MARRIED to this dude???  Folks, now we are peering into the belly of the beast. The sheer and utter Mystery of Existence.  Giordano and I are strong magnets that have no choice but to smush together. I’ve never felt anything quite like it; so simultaneously essential and despicable. I can only imagine that this is the freshly sharpened knife of karma.  And I’m learning to stop trying to make “sense” of it… and just be humble and gracious as I live it out.

 

But I want to live OPEN.  I want to be unconditionally free in my heart.  And filled to overflowing with Heaven’s sumptuous love-light, so that I am a benevolent outpouring of it under any and all circumstances.  

 

I’m guessing that my wise and fearless soul set out to cultivate my own inner stability to such a degree, that NOTHING and no ONE on the outside could EVER threaten it.  So I found “Mister Right”- someone who cannot save me (though to his credit, he really WANTS to!), cannot hold me the way I yearn to be held. Someone perfectly flawed. And profusely devoted.  Someone who holds on so fucking tight, that it is impossible for me to pull my all-too-familiar knee-jerk bolt at the first sign of discomfort.

 

Anyway, part of this knot, it seems, is a fear in me of being so fully committed to.  Am I afraid of being deeply loved by a man? Because it’s foreign to my wiring?… Do I obsess over the small stuff as a protection mechanism?  A strategy to hold on to my small self?

 

Probably yes.

 

But it’s a knot, because the “small stuff” gets all smeared in with the “big stuff”, and the relationship becomes this imperceptible soupy blob.  I don’t know what is real, or when to give it the fuck up, and when to hold on as an act of self preservation. Probably better to err on the side of giving it the fuck up.  Like one of my life-long idols, the Landmark Wisdom Course leader, Joan Bordow once said, (when giving advice to a woman friend on the eve of her wedding) “The person who lets go of being right first, wins.”  Sounds so simple.

 

But it doesn’t feel like it from the inside.  Well… in certain, select moments it does… but overall… I feel to be in an unruly tangle.  I guess this is why people have therapists. We are all knotted up in our survival strategies, expectations, fears, projections, blah, blah, blah.  

 

I’m glad to be living inside this question.  And not in a rush to figure it out. Just looking deep within, making myself available to growth and revelation, and acknowledging my deep desire to live as Openness.

 

Ahhh, it feels so good to get this shit out on the page.  Blessed BE the sacred alchemy of the written word.

 

May you savor your tangles and twists like the finest wine….

 

Love,

Athena

Field Tripping Through Darkness

Whoa.  Is it just me?…. Or is some Collective shit going down?  Maaaaan, I’ve been field tripping in some of the darkest reaches of my Being.  It’s been horrid. Thankfully, groping along the darkened walls inside me, I finally happened upon a Light switch.  Phew.

 

I’m not exaggerating when I confess that I was on the brink of intentionally miscarrying.  And perhaps fleeing to California. Which, come to think of it, I can’t even do right now, since my visa is expired and I haven’t been to the Police yet to request an extension for “family reasons” (being married).  But the more burning agenda item was to not be pregnant. Isn’t that atrocious? That’s the shit nobody admits. Except Athena Grace.

 

What had me lurch to such X-treme measures?  A combination of always being cold, having one-the-fuck-too-many crushingly unpleasant exchanges with my stressed-out, unevolved husband, and an intolerable lack of community.  Oh, and let’s not forget, a full moon and early pregnancy hormones, which are oft reminiscent of Bad Acid.

 

All these factors were eating away at my insides, as though the Devil had gratuitously sloshed a fresh batch of battery acid all up in me.  Meanwhile, beloved California is burning down, my best friend got a double mastectomy, another dear friend is fending off child protective services, thanks to an A-hole ex-husband…. What the fuck is going ON on this glorious planet?  

 

Have you ever sat in the messy middle of your Life, blinking and shaking and wondering how on earth it managed to turn out like THIS???  It’s wild. To feel repulsion at that which I called into being. Flirting with an aggressive urge to hate. But then I turn towards my Self… and despite my perplexion at the hand that me and God Almighty have co-dealt… Miracle of miracles, I still love myself.  Nothing makes sense. To be so angry and confused by my choices… yet… to still feel my own tender pulse of fallible lovability.

 

I’ve been haunted by the skipping record thought of wishing I left Italy back in August, when I had two fat, juicy tickets.  But I didn’t. I chose this Family. Nuclear family. Honestly, I want to hurl the nuclear model against a wall and watch it smash and hopelessly shatter.  It’s a broken system. MY broken system, for now….

 

But the grace wrapped in the rotten cheese of my circumstances, is that this desperation has compelled me to be fierce about seeking community.  On saturday, Serena and I went to Benedetta’s for dinner. After that, I felt a pinhole of light wash into my cell. On sunday, I took my girl to Sunday Service at Ananda.  Something I’d been resisting since I got here. Honestly, it was a little dull…. But my thirst was so dire that I didn’t care.

 

Actually, the holiest of holy moments, “The Revelation” was when Ishani, after hearing my troubled heart, holding my gaze with deep, compassionate, sparkling brown eyes offered, “and by the way, EVERYONE’S husband is annoying.”  HAAAAAAA!!!!!! I totally forgot this quintessential, ageless wisdom.

 

After service, we hung around with Benedetta and her boy, Eliseo, who is Serena’s age.  They climbed all over the place and goofed about. Benedetta fed my girl bites of yummy food from her plate.  My heart smiled bright beams. This is how it is “supposed to be”. The Village, I mean.

 

When Giordano showed up, I actually felt I could love him.  And receive his love. Which, by the way, (though flawed as fuck) has been damn steady.  Even though he rarely behaves the way I wish he would, he continues to stand in unwavering love and devotion to me (and Serena).  Sometimes I actually wonder if he’s retarded for this! I mean I can be a total cunt when I’m upset.

 

And by the way, if you’re wondering how this blog will sit with my darling hubby…. I AM TOO!  Haha. Seriously, this is all such risky shit to say. But I’ve told him from day ONE– writing is my first LOVE.  I have a NEED to be transparent on the page, and I need his support. He totally gets it. And supports me. It is never my intention to portray him as a Villain, or douse him in ugly light.  My aim is to unpack my innermost self, for the purpose of finding relief from the pressure of my inner chaos, to discover insights and perspectives previously concealed, and hopefully, to illuminate your Journey and the deepest, perhaps hidden reaches of your BEing.  Because after all, we may be living out a vast panoply of scenarios, yet we are still One. We are breathed by the same Breath.

 

All this hellish suffering and grievance really put a damper on my sexual openness.  After Sunday Service, I put Serena down for a nap, and Giordano wanted to give me pleasure.  I felt my body closed to a degree I have never experienced with Giordano. But who can say no to Orgasmic Meditation?  Not this bitch. Fifteen minutes of attentive strokes to my clit and I was reborn. After that we shared more… ahem… “Love”… and I was touched by his serviceful attitude.  My body melted open to the flow of love, and the day was Saved.

 

Sex.  It’s one of the strongest aspects of our connection.   For better and for worse. When it’s missing, shit is warped.  But in order for nourishing sex to occur, the emotional piece has to be relatively solid.  It’s such a damn delicate equation.

 

I have reflected a butt-ton since all this excruciating discomfort began.  You know, like on the quintessential meaning of my life, my relationship with God, my priorities…. That’s the beauty of suffering.  It can be such a clarifying Force.

 

I’ve remembered that Ultimately, the meaning of my life is summed up in Rumi’s quote:  “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

 

I have been crushingly intimate with the barriers inside me.  And so happy that I have a husband who helps me grind against myself in such terrible (and exquisitely helpful) dimensions.  Even though I often hate it, I think it might somehow be good…

 

Oh.  And then there is Serena.  Through all of this, my love for her has kept me functional and sane.  It calls me forth. She is an endless stream of blazing innocence, imagination, curiosity, love, creativity, presence.  I can only step forward in Service of her Magnificence.

 

And my Friends.  Most of you are oceans and land masses away in the 3D…. But you are Golden Angels in the flesh.  You hold me and shine a light when it gets frighteningly dark in here. You are my wealth. You are my Salvation.   I love you, I love you, I love you…

 

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!

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