Dance With Death (part II)


Then came Serena.  I took a few thwarted stabs at going to dance with her.  But then I was being mommy trying to dance, not Athena The Star.  I have lived six very sobering years, culminating with the past two and a half being the “Grand Finale”.  The Grand Finale of my old life.  My old self.  The irony, people, is that I ALREADY HAVE DIED.  A thousand times over.  I just haven’t left my body.  I am not ready to do so.  OH!  That reminds me of my Epiphany about life and death.  I’ll tell you in a sec!

(One element of this blog is my spontaneous comments on The Art of Writing.  Authentic writing requires TRUSTING THE MIND.  My Original Mind burst in and grabbed the wheel, hot to tell you about something other than what I was talking about… and if I was to be a “good girl”, I would have silently made a note or just pushed it aside and kept going.  But as the AUTHOR, I am incharge.  Let all the other Suckas follow the boring assed rules!  Author=AUTHORity)

Can you feel Edith Piaf’s impassioned voice boiling over behind these words?  It is… and it is touching my insides as they must be touched!  She transmits a depth of longing, experience, strength… that touches a world in me- wide awake and aching for S P A C E  and light.  She is singing me alive and I am writing you alive and YOU are______ .  It’s a fractiling domino chain of pressing wine out of our human struggles.  Does it get any better?!  Yeah.  If I was at the beach.  Or making transcendent love.  Or riding a horse.  

So in these recent grueling years, I would not have imagined that I was becoming what I most wanted to be (a clarified version of ME).  It felt like the farthest thing from what I was becoming.  My soul was withdrawing from this world because my experience sucked too much ass.  It was like walking through a looooong, daaaaaaark tunnnnnnnel.  I entered it through the portal of ecstatic dance six years ago, and last sunday, POP!  I finally made it to the other side.  Out into the light of intimacy and WHOLENESS.  And I am NOT going back.  I am SO fucking prooud of myself for the deep work I have done that I didn’t even realize `I was doing.  And this could be YOU too.  You might be sitting over there with your face melting off in the sweltering heat of your alchemical container and everything looks black and sludgy and you are thinking to yourself WHAT THE FUCK… Take heart my blossoming warriors, ambassadors and bearers of The Light.  You can TRUST in this alchemy.

My bounty of Ananda friends love to tout that “the joy is within you”.  And I confess that in my moments of “dark night” (most of my life), I have really hated to hear that, because then it’s like what the fuck is wrong with me for not having access to my own damn self????  But now that I am reclaiming my life and my Self, I am living this joy daily.  I feel it now.  It’s like a soft, breezy melody of my own soul, swelling inside me,  flushing me with prismatic glow.  Maybe I AM made of joy after all.  Haha.

But move over, Spiritual Polly-Anna!  Life sure ain’t all lovenlight.  `How many moments have I been cruising along in my sporty little joy bubble and an unwieldy wave of fear rushes in and knocks me on my bony ass.  Waaaaait, I asserted in my last blog that I was RIDING the waves.  Doh… well… I don’t know exactly how to metaphor-ize my experience… all I know is that I am going along fine and then in a lightning flash, I am on my knees, grappling for the highest course of navigation.  It’s usually body sensations that set off the alarm bells. (or Serena not listening and asking why twelve thousand times) Actually it’s more like the bell that sounds at the start of a boxing match.  And then I step in the ring, my bare chest glistening, a trail of blue gatorade still lingering on my chin.  Bobbing.  Weaving.  Jabbing.

Ok I went too far.  But it’s a wild experience to move so swiftly between joy and fear or anger.  Maybe it will make me so dizzy that I will lose my grip on duality once and for all.  I will only feign faith in the transient world of form.  THIS will be my emergence as “Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace”.  The woman I was born to be.

Or maybe I am just hopped up on some questionable sauce… But this is my prayer.  If I don’t make it that far in this life, guess I’ll just keep chipping away on my next galactic adventure(s).

Fuck that I didn’t come straight home from dance and WRITE IT ALL DOWN.  (In fact, while we’re on the subject, FUCK that I didn’t come straight home from EVERYWHERE and WRITE IT ALL DOWN.  My stories… they are a hopelessly swift waterfall spilling into an abyss.  On sunday, the dance was still throbbing in my veins, my cells, my nutrinos!  And now it’s… toilet water in the bay (time for a refreshed metaphor.)  

But here is THE climax moment of my whole dance:  It was toward the end.  As I was moving, I flashed on what my spirit guides told me- to call this cancer journey my “Dance with Death”.  I let the idea filter down through layers of my consciousness as I spun and shimmied and slithered serpentine.  The light was ON.  And I got that “dancing with death” is actually the equivalent to dancing with LIFE.  The yin-yang is not just a cool symbol.  It is a universal truth.  I realized that I am one of the privileged few… (maybe) who was graced with direct experience.  I am no longer regurgitating cheap universal wisdom.  I am paying my own way to WISDOM and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I was a child and a young adult, I suffered for not having the EXPERIENCE to match the wisdom of my soul.  And when I reached inside to find the book that I am meant to write… all I got was a blasted DIAL TONE.  Deep down I knew this was because I had essential experiences yet ahead of me, which would ripen my wisdom such that it would just fall on your head with a splat.  Fuck the strained, fabricated shit.  

Life wants FULL SURRENDER from me.  Full fucking surrender.  She told me this directly.  When I asked Giordano months ago to take Forest overnight, he refused.  Then, when I had (actually) let go, BAM!  He whisked Forest out of my bereft arms.  I feel a similar process happening with my writing.  I was desperate to “succeed” at my Art.  A desperation born of feeling “not enough”.  Like if I don’t realize my Gift in this life, I FAIL.  But the sheer beauty of having my life threatened is the realization that just BEING here is enough.  “Let the soft animal of my body love what it loves”.

Ah but the secret paradox is that from my current perch at the edge of the abyss, I am rediscovering my worth.  My edges have become softer (not to mention my gooey tootsie roll Center.)  I am genuinely content to flow through my days on winds of ineffable grace.

AND.

That said, I keep writing, because I MUST.  Because it feels so damn GOOD that it MUST be what I am here for.  And now for the moment that Athena Grace toots her own horn!  I have been getting some BITCHIN feedback lately.  I am some peoples’ Favorite Writer.  I move people.  And my writing has its own Life and Plan.  I just need to keep showing up and being receptive.

Can I approach Life and Death with the same depth of faith and surrender?

This is my aim.  By now it is no secret that I WANT TO HEAL and LIVE… but… do I have the ovaries to genuinely and wholeheartedly put mySELF and my LIFE in God’s hands?  I know that’s a dumb question on some level, because there is no other place that my SELF and LIFE could ever be.  It’s a matter of internal orientation.   Like that I can just go on tending my garden of joy, beauty, peace, sensuality, creativity, friendship, etc…. While doing all that is shown me to do to restore my body’s health… and let whatever comes come.  God I want to feel that free.  Not to suffer about what will happen to my kids if I die, or why didn’t I become a hella famous writer.  (Not just famous among my facebook friends and token random strangers.)  

No matter when it’s my time to leave this wacky spaceship, I want to go out blazing with PASSION.  I will be writing and dancing and making love and peeling back the endless folds of my enchanting (and deranged) emptiness.  Self, I promise NEVER to abandon you again.  If you say “GET THE FUCK OUT”, I will listen.  

God help me.

Dancing with Death (part I)

Well I survived my first night without Forest (since the hospital six months ago).  I had this raw dough gnawing feeling the whole time, but I made it!  Amidst my silent suffering, Shanti-ma reminded me to feel into FOREST and what HE wants.  He was very happy to be with his Nonnie and Papa.  I can see that it’s my own trip… I notice that I’ve come to rely on my sun’s solid, grounding presence.

Serena was elated to have me all to herself.  She practically became another person.  Cooperative.  Kind.  Sweet.  I mean those qualities are authentic to her nature, but lately amidst all the thrills and spills, the less savory aspects of her personality have been louder than I would prefer.  `I can feel her begging for my unwavering, unconditional acceptance, presence and holding… I try to give it to her… but I’ve been too starved for too long and I often feel desperate to… what is it?… To feel FREE.  Free to be me on my terms.  Haha.  Not really the “life context” of a (single) mother of a two and five year old.  When shit gets bad, I feel this wave of violence overtake me and I literally have to raise my hands to the heavens, as if begging for the Gods to intervene.  It works.  Mostly.  

Anyway, even though I wanted to finish my writing in the morning, Serena was content to be near me, watching cartoons.  Her satisfaction and delight were palpable.  Then as soon as Forest returned home, she flew south for the winter.  Meaning she lost her shit at every turn.  Well that’s clear communication.  Having a little brother has been a wound for her to contend with.  And a gift.  Their love spans the chasm where light and shadow merge.

Later in the morning we went to ecstatic dance.  Rachel, my neighbor, friend and life-line to California, organized it (at my urging).  ‘Member when I told you that I was exploring possibilities of who Serena could live with if I died?  Well Mirabai has first (and only) place at the moment.  But honestly, I am so focused on healing, I have not been paying much attention to that.  I just brought it up because Mirabai is a professional tango dancer.  And as soon as she entered my field, I realized DANCING will save my life.  I’m not kidding. TANGO, people!  The most passionate dance there is.  The message sunk straight into my soul:  Dance or Die, Bitch.

But what I didn’t know is how light and freeee I would feel on the dance floor!  Fuck those words “light” and “freeee” because you have heard them so many times that your mind slid right over them without barely registering the MIRACULOUS nature of lightness and freeness.  It was the REAL easter.  Resurrection at it’s finest.  

Ok, this is where I break a sweat.  Coaxing the english language to do justice to a physical, emotional and spiritual experience….

It was a small group of women (maybe seven?), which made it an entirely safe container for full expression.  There was plenty of space and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Every song on Rachel’s playlist rubbed me the right way (not such a common experience at ecstatic dance).  `I am noticing and affirming ease these days, and there was a delicious feeling of ease about being on the dance floor.  hOMe.  

I was WITH myself.  At a level I have never experienced in this body, in this life.  An unprecedented fullness, peace, kindness.  Eyes closed, a voice inside me whispered “I feel like a STAR”.  I told that voice, “YOU ARE A STAR”.  And in the lucid floodlight of my own self-granted permission, I came alive at a whole nother level.  I resurrected the young one who received the message that it’s not ok to shine.  (Little Dawniecakes spent her “childhood career” being invisible because she didn’t feel safe)  My desire is that my full self expression will liberate others ready to emerge from their self-imposed cage and FLY. 

I haven’t seriously danced since before Serena was born… I’m pretty sure… although committing that to “paper”, it looks absurd.  Pure sin.  “Looks to be”… but in actuality, it was a potent barometer of my growth.  The version of me who existed six years ago, though she gave as much of herself to her dance as she was able, there were many “inner rooms” which were still locked.  This translated as a lot of my energy “going out”- like long, curious fingers groping about the “otherness” in the room.  All this externalized awareness was exhausting.  Don’t get me wrong… I still LOVED dancing… but I could only access a limited amount of my SELF.

A Night Without Forest

This one goes out to alla y’all who are experiencing intense waves of fear recently.  I’m with you.  Riding some hella gnarly waves.  But riding them is certainly preferable to being knocked down, sucked under, washing machined, obliterated….

This morning I woke up and was feeling strange sensations in my liver and WOOOOSH!  In no time, my heart was pounding.  Just like that.  Standing before the gas range in my kitchen at five am, illuminated by the stove light, I pressed my hands against my heart with gentle yet firm pressure.  It felt like I was free falling through emptiness and all there was to hold onto was this vulnerable vehicle of flesh.  

I know my work is to STAND STILL.

Stand still and let the fear speak it’s piece while I listen with presence and compassion.

I got this inner nudge to call on Saint Germain and his all consuming violet flame, so I found an exquisite photo of him on the internet and saved it on the lock screen of my phone.  As soon as I flashed to the lock screen to view the fruits of my creativity, the time flashed 5:55 in a blaze of white light from his forehead.  I felt like he rushed through the phone, into the heart of my consciousness.  I knew that 555 was an explicit message from him, so I googled it.  555 is the number of change. Transformation.  Shedding of the old.  Emerging as the Woman of my Dreams.  As I read the extensive message, my pulse slowed again and the fear dispersed like fog in sunlight. 

Gaia took the kids up to the mountain so I could have some space.  I want to tell you about Gaia because she is a divine messenger sent from heaven to shepherd our family through this stormy summit.  Yeah, I really could write a whole blog about Gaia in our life.  How present, attentive and loving she is with Serena (and Forest, although he is not in need as Serena is…  He is like a peacock.  He can swallow poison and transmute it in his blue shiva throat.  I am in awe of that tiny boy.), how she triggers me, her profound devotion to God, the spiritual synergy between us…  

Plus we still have beloved Rosa.   THANK YOU LIFE, FOR SENDING THE “BIG GUNS” to our family at this sensitive time.  Your grace has not slid under the radar.  When I reflect on all of the bitchin souls around me, I nearly fall to my knees in reverence for the magnitude of goodness in our lives.  But then what about the grace of the less savory characters in my story?  (Not mentioning any names 😉  Byron Katie says that our ENEMIES are our REAL friends because they help us grow and evolve, whereas a lot of times, our “friends” just blow smoke up our asses and make us feel good about ourselves.  Listen we are free to

Ha!  I just ended a paragraph in mid sentence.  Soooo wrong!  But I HAD to break the rules just for the sheer BANG of it.  I know that’s immature.  But oh well.  I got off. 😉

I stopped in mid sentence because I only have a smattering of minutes to write and I confess that I was guilty of Beating Around The Bush.  I always have a ton to say… but… in this moment there is really only ONE thing to say:

I just received an audio from Giordano saying that his mom wants Forest to spend the night at their house tonight.  A few months ago, I was pushing for this.  Hard.  Giordano dug his heels into the ground and refused on the grounds that he and Forest were still traumatized from when I was in the hospital in October.  I retorted with “but if I go back to the hospital or die, he will need to have a place where he feels totally safe and comfortable.”  Even though that makes total sense intellectually, G was not ready emotionally and he held his ground.  I was pissed for a while, but honestly I do not enjoy feeling pissed, so daily, I tried my hand at surrender.  Little by little I got to a place where I felt more peaceful than not in regards to our circumstances.  

And then, of course, they shifted.

I have become deeply attached to Forest.  His soul has a solidity about it that is breath-giving… for a 20 month old.  I get a sense that all of the relational drama and ego bullshit around him just rolls like water off a duck’s back.  I love watching sleep claim him each night… his eyelids becoming increasingly heavy until he can no longer keep them open…. His hands touching my face, a contented smile spread across his cherubic face.  The way he plays with his belly button for comfort.  On tuesday morning, he fell and hit his head on a cement corner.  He cried for all of one minute.  There was a lot of blood.  We cleaned the wound and applied a bandaid… but when I checked it later in the afternoon, it was too open, so we went to the hospital and he got two “punti” (stitches in Italian).  I know I’m veering off the road again, but I had to tell you about that moment, restraining him on the padded table in the emergency room….

God it hurts my heart to remember.  The crescent shaped needle penetrating the flesh above his right eyebrow.  His red, tear streaked face.  All I could do is repeat “I love you” like a mantra.  When he repeated through his heart-wrenching cries, “I love you”, I shattered in a thousand pieces.

Oh god, now I’m crying.  But I’ll keep writing through my tears.  Words can’t describe how I love him.  And now, tonight, he is sleeping with his “Nonnie” (he made that word up himself, instead of calling her “Nonna”) and my heart is broken.  I don’t feel ready to hand him over to The World.  

Now it’s 8:13am and I am back to complete this installment of the ecstatic trials of Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace.  I did not imagine it would feel like this to release Forest to the other half of his family.  It’s been this incessant tugging ache in my chest the whole time.  An uneasy feeling that something essential is missing.  

But then Serena is ELATED.  She is basking in the exclusivity of my attention.  A little piece of me is resisting surrender to this, because I had a fantasy that I might actually get an extended and exclusive spree with my own beloved Self.  But pouring my attention on Serena is like watering a thirst-stricken plant.  She becomes plump and bright and precious.  And this is a priority.  I hear the crisp crush of juicy apple against her little baby teeth as she perches on the couch behind me and watches Peppa Pig.  Even though we are not “doing something” together, there is a palpable intimacy in our nearness.

Loving Serena is an exotic yet efficient scenic route to loving myself.  But one of the more difficult of endeavors.  I’m not quite sure why… maybe because I still believe that there are more important things in Life than healing.  (Healing= restoring connection to Source/Love within)  At 10:30am we will DANCE!  A little “ecstatic dance” for the wilder strains of humans laced in the surrounding agriculturally persuaded, forest-dappled, sprawling hills.  I’m looking forward to a literal “dance with death”.  Meaning a space where I can EMBODY all of the kaleidoscopic feelings that rise and fall within me as I partake in this courageous dance with death.  Where they can move and breathe and exist in the hallowed Light of Perfection.

I have been hesitant to write much about Giordano, because it is such a sensitive subject.  But I need to.  For my healing.  Stay tuned… but for now, I will say that our ships are drifting to opposite horizons of their own accord… and this makes sharing Forest all the harder.  Because there is no safe-porting or generosity or togetherness throughout the process.  Which makes it grate on my insides like metal on metal.  For example I texted him to check in last night and I didn’t get a reply for hours and then this is what it said, “Everything ok”.  Wow Giordano, che profundo.

But Saint Germain told me, “No matter what challenges you are facing, you are sure to be on the verge of health, abundance and love on a level you’ve never experienced before. You shouldn’t let yourself be held back by some skittish emotions. Embrace the new and cast away the old. Affirmations are a great way to do this.”

“Skittish emotions”… is THAT all St. G?  Ok, then I will loosen my grip and let them slide through my soul’s fingers like cool spring water, as I embrace the rapid fire changes streaming through my life right now.  I will stretch the skin of my awareness and let it span the cosmos.  So my heart aches….? Perhaps heart ache is but another flavor of ecstatic Existence.  Perhaps it has its own intelligence and purpose.  Perhaps when I hold it up to The Light, it will cast rainbows about the walls of Infinity Within.

How Thick Can One Plot Get???

Sometimes Life gives you a whopper of a story- special sauce squirting all over you, wilted pickles pleasantly sour, mystery meat grease lingering on your tongue for weeks.  

Eleven days ago, I took a risk and chose to spend sunday with “The Family”, rather than indulging in the rare and exquisite delicacy of Aloneness.  If you have been following me for a while, maybe you cringed at the uncouth, kaleidoscopic possibilities that such an activity unearths.  I didn’t.  I was brave.  But still it hurt.  Many times over.  Early on, G and I got into a potentially benign tiff, which of course escalated, and then he threatened to leave with Forest and never come back and even though I know that’s a crock of colossal bullshit because he won’t even take our Sun for a damn overnight, it still affected my nervous system in a caustic way.  These little moments where the sky crashes down on me like corroded metal.  And I am declaring it Officially Unacceptable.  

Gently unacceptable.  You know, Gandhi style- stone cold chillin’ on the capitol steps, beaming starlight and broadcasting wellbeing for forty days and forty nights with no food and no water.  Only smiles, sincerely kind words and blessings or sacred-stained silence.

By the end of the day, my heart was RAW.  Do you know how to say “raw” in Italian?  Crudo!  Yeah, my heart was hella crudo.  And then my phone rings and it’s Dhuti, who’s house I am subletting.  (Love you Dhuti!) My nervous system has like one thread of synaptic sanity left… so I decline the call.  But the ringing flairs up again.  She is fierce to get me.  “Hi,” I say with flat, slightly agitated voice.

Long preamble…

But I know where it’s going.  The landlords asked me to leave.  

Yep, a single mama with two kids, healing cancer, left her husband after he was physically violent (let it be known that I kicked him under the covers in bed once!!!  Many times.  Until he wouldn’t talk to me anymore.  I was mad because he interruped me and showed zero interest in what I was sharing, which happened to matter deeply to me.), in a fucking foreign country.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not making myself a Victim Sundae with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry.  I’m just marveling at the plummeting drops and sprawling, panoramic expanses of this story as I ride it like an epic, gnarly wave to the shore on the other side of Life.

I am currently undergoing a process of undoing my default habits of mind and emotion.  So while I was tempted to crumble under the destabilized weight of the circumstances, instead I said to God, “Ok Lord, your hand is mighty obvious in this… so what would you have me do NOW?” 

–Let me just give you the abridged version of the “back story”, which is that a couple days before, the landlords (an old couple whose ancestors have probably tread this medieval  wonderland since Jesus and the dinosaurs roamed the earth) where here trimming trees in my yard and I asked them (in broken italian) if I could grow a garden here (there is a wonderful open space, begging to become a garden…).  The darling oldish lady told me that the house belonged to her, and back in “The Day”, her Zia (Auntie) used to have a garden there.  Hearing this warmed my heart, as I felt that I would be carrying on a legacy, an alliance between Earth and Woman.  

Fast forward ONE DAY… and… I am asked to leave.  ASAP.  

People, I’m forty one by now.  (and yes, the Yoniverse did NOT pass over my golden chance at a midlife crisis, as I imagined it would) (I thought this because my whole life has been sorta crisis-y… so I thought it would be like black on black.  But nope.  I have plenty to unravel!)  Having whipped around the sun a few times, I have had many-a-door fling open or slam in my face and I know this is by Intelligent Design.  I have felt Heaven dripping sweat upon my haloed crown as She works tripple time to direct The Flow from Above.  So instead of panicking, I calmly said to God, “Ok Dude, so what’ve you got in mind?”

And I was sure He said, “Thou shalt go back to Giordano’s house”, and so I did.  Well… I brought a huge duffle of clothes and some plants and vitamins and stuff….

But no sooner had I set foot on our familial soil… than my wise and benevolent gut said “Girlfriend, get the fuck out of here, ASAP.”  And I did.  And I did not look back.  But I laughed nervously with Rosa as I realized that if I had a thousand dollars for every time I had packed my massive, black duffle bag with a pounding heart, I would…. Have enough to put down on a ramshackle little house in the Italian Countryside to call my own.  (Which is something I am exploring….)

FEAR.  It was as if I was waking up from a thick sleep.  I know that you’ve heard that one a bazillion times…. But… that’s because it cuts to the heart of a very common human experience, which is along the lines of wash, rinse, repeat.  That of sleepwalking through Life, buried beneath a heavy pile of programs, which most of us are doing… and then suddenly being aware that we have not been aware.  In that moment, it simply was not ok to be spoken to with such cruelty.  Period.

So with as much certainty and quintessential rightness as I could  scoop up in my prayer-stained palms, as if riding a revolving door, I stuffed said bag full of my modest existence and drove back to my american refugee camp in the beautiful and “intimate” (a friendly mode of expressing the way everyone is up in each other’s business…) Morano Madonnuccia (the perfect name for the village called home by a woman who was once a girl who blushed and swooned and daydreamed of Madonna.)  Turns out it’s not legal to kick people out of their homes during covid.  Even if they are not on the lease.  

I will find another place as soon as I can… but in the meantime, I feel very blessed to call this hOMe.  And I completely trust.  Life has never dropped me.  (maybe I’m not hot enough???)  Especially not when I am living in fearless alignment with my values.  This act never goes unacknowledged by Life.  She eats that shit UP.  

Isn’t that a juicy plot twist?!?! At first I imagined that the “lesson” was to humble myself and choose family.  But I quickly realized that the lesson was to TRUST MYSELF and have no qualms about getting the fuck out of a toxic environment.  Choosing myself, choosing Life, choosing health and peace and wellbeing.

I’m still not perfect, because I can’t always remain cucumber cool and unresponsive when he says antagonizing shit… but I’m getting better.  Also getting better at not yelling at my kids.  Thanks Mama Cannabis.  (I will anchor this new habit into my system, so that I am not dependent on “help” to achieve a sprawling state of radical kindness.) 

I feel scared to admit that I’m done trying with G.  Truthfully, I have been feeling this for a while.  But I felt way too vulnerable to say it out loud.  In fact I still haven’t said it to G.  Does that  make me a shmuck to say it here first?  Yes.  Or maybe not.  But.  G has shown me that he’s not always capable of being “decent”, even when I am soft and unguarded.  No mi piace.  Right now I need decency.  I’m not enlightened to the point of being untouchable yet.  (I have a feeling that’s not tooooo far down the road at the rate I am traveling…)  I feel vulnerable. Being in a country that is not my own.   Caring for two kids.  I guess the good thing is that since I am not dependent on G for much at this point (except the car), I don’t have much to lose.  Actually that’s not true.  I have a child that I have become soooo attatched to… and some semblance of peace to maintain in my heart and home.  

Postcard from the way Up.

Eight thirty am.  Bird voices fall in scattered drips about the sunny morning ambiance.  Sunlight purrs in shocks of light about lone strands of spider silk.  I hope all this magic can suckle the profundity out of me… because it is becoming too heavy.  My heart is beaming because I spoke with my soul sister Sushanti this morning, for the first time in three years.  I was telling her stuff and she said, “are you writing this down??”  And I lamented that I have not been able to keep up.  In that moment, I knew that I was committing cardinal sin.

I love the power of paragraphs and punctuation.  Writing really is the same as music.  At least for me.  Finding that stream of inner feeling, a deep surrender to the wild intelligence of the mind.  And then the waves of vibration just ripple through and as you read it, you are moved as if by music.  Touched in places you forgot existed.  

My mom’s mom, Claramae, was a musical genius.  She played the oboe, at symphony level.  But because it was the nineteen forties, she either went semi-willingly, or by force… but there she was with a well-meaning, hard-working man who had recently been released from ten years of prison for robbing a train station during hard times.   You see, he had another family before prison… but for some reason, he did not go back to them… 

Claramae was diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life, when her three girls were in their teens.  (Auntie Linda, feel free to add your voice and expertise here…. Since you are closer to the heart of the action….)  There are plenty of theories around mental illness… but I will testify that since I came to Italy, married Giordano and had Forest… I have felt her pain.  And from inside that pain, I can imagine that mental illness is not just hereditary or chemical.  I would hypothesize that a significant facet of it is circumstantial.  Saying NO to your soul’s longings, appetites and dreams causes illness.  And even death.

I sense that my soul wanted to experience a heavy-handed homeopathic dose of Claramae’s struggle, so that I could feel it and heal it.  God it was miserable.  To be an artist trapped in a domestic prison with a mismatched husband and not enough friendship, support or sweetness.  And by the Power vested in me, I declare this cycle eternally dissolved.  

My spirit guides told me that I will not die.  My soul merely wants to partake in an intimate exploration of death.  (this information, via Carolyn, the energy healer.)  It resonates.  Deeply.  In fact, when she told me, I had a vivid memory of being about three and BEGGING my Ma to take me to the mortuary to see a dead body… My guides said that I will befriend and penetrate the fear of death and find peace in my eternal nature.  They said in a few years, a couple of my family members will be leaving and I will be prepared to assist the process. 

Sounds wonderful.

But.

How do I walk through the fears?

It’s those seemingly insignificant moments… when the fear rushes in.  (It does NOT creep in this neck of the woods… it RUSHES.)  To call upon Stillness in those tremulous moments.  To call upon breath.  R E L A X .  Relax into the experience of fear as into a hot bath.  

I’m starving for sexual love.

(I’m not going to expound upon that now… but it plunged to the surface of my awareness, gasping for light and breath and I felt to give it a flash dance in the spotlight.  And while I’m on the subject, I’ll say that there is a part of me who is enjoying the burn of want.  The void.  The electric Possibility of finding Him.  The him who is plugged into the Him and has put in time and effort in the art of giving and receiving love.  But I will not ask him to pay my bills.  I will not be his mommy.  I won’t wash his dishes, cook for him or do his laundry.  If he doesn’t want to do it himself, he can hire a maid.  I will be busy writing books and sharing quality presence with my delicious kids and friends and saying YES to Life as a whole and sovereign being who is unabashedly joy-full as she cruises up the ascension elevator with Humanity.  (And speaking of “mommy”, I love being a mom now that I have support.  It’s a completely different game.  Thanks cancer!  

Even though I navigate waves of fear, the joy in my heart is profoundly palpable.  I wish I could give some to you right now… What’s it like?…. Almost a tingle… but more subtle and continuous…. Right in my heart.  My heart is healing.  And this is the underlying cause of my physical healing.  I am a disciple to my own wellbeing now, and for this, I will live.

But I must be willing to die. 

A BEE!!!

God is sending so many bee messengers these days.  I just googled it, and besides work ethic and productivity, they are also bearers of the remembrance of miracles.  Perfect.

But enough about miracles, back to the pressing matter at hand.  How to TRULY metabolize this primal fear.  BTW, the spider web threads are still shimmering, (speaking of miracles).  I want to get THE MOST out of this exploration of death.  My guides told me to VISUALIZE a friend or loved one dying… imagine getting in the coffin next to them.  Creepy shit, right?  But… only because of our conditioning.  The truth of the moment of a soul’s passing is a profound pause between inhale and exhale, in which all of Creation rests in ecstatic perfection.  I will be one of the few on this planet who has successfully sailed to the tootsie roll Center of It All and returned with souvenirs for all who care to be free from Fear forever.

Cancer is my soul’s own flavor of bungee jumping, or parachuting.  I leap into the abyss… with the thrill of knowing that I could lose my life… and yet my navigation is set for the lush land mass beyond the dark, churning waters.  It’s a bracing scenario!!!  Haha, am I being too light?  Too irreverent?  Noooo, come ON people, I’ve gotta make light of It All.  Otherwise it would take me down!  

`But that’s the tricky thing about the alchemy of fear… you can’t just shove it to the side of your plate and then hope to toss it down the sinkerator.  Well… I don’t know if YOU can or can’t… but I DO know that this initiation of mine is firmly asking me to release myself into the epicenter of the fear.  In my body.  And GO THROUGH it.  Dissolve it with the Light I AM.  

Not easy.  But totally doable.

At least it helps to know what game you are playing. 

Oh and just for the record, I don’t know if “sinkerator” is a word… but I DO know that you know what `I meant.  And is that not the fundamental purpose of language??? To transmit some loose semblance of meaning?  Oh I’m so deep I could CRY.  

It’s so wonderful to be alive.  

Keep the faith, People.  

The elevator is on it’s way Up.

My Precious Paragraph ;)

I want to do some yoga before Forest wakes up and “crushes the ball” because my body feels like she’s seventy years old (which is way better than feeling a hundred!), but then Chandra asked me if I wrote my paragraph yesterday (I told her I was endeavoring to write a paragraph every day, just to keep my writer self on life support) and I said no.  I’ve got all these wild paragraphs lashing my insides as I go about my crushingly mundane days and it makes me very mean.

 

I’m tired of being mean.  

 

The other day, Serena had a call with one of her teachers from the ananda school.  Just to stay connected during our global pandemic holiday. Ultimately I believe it’s all orchestrated by God’s hella intelligent hand… but for some deranged cosmic motivation, Serena got assigned to speak with the teacher she likes the least- because she purports that he never paid attention to her at school.  Marco. Both of our recent video chats consisted of her standing in front of the phone like a stone. No, actually on the first call she started to open up and share her world, but he derailed her with his “agenda” (singing a song). That was the end of that. She turned to stone.  

 

The second call, I was already irritated, because the morning was sunny and by eleven am I was exhausted by obsessive tidying up and desperate to get outside.  But I wanted to be in integrity so we waited for the damn call. I felt so frustrated with mute Serena. “Do you want to share your favorite book with me?” Nothing.  This game went on for like ten minutes, culminating with a song- “all the world is my friend”. When we hung up, I was livid. I laid into her for being so unwilling to participate.  (I wish I didn’t…)  

 

Apparently part of my tirade included the phrase “colossal bullshit”, because she tossed it back to me later.  I was like “where on earth did you come up with THAT???”  

 

She said, “From you.”

 

I was impressed. 

 

“Colossal bullshit” has become one of our inside jokes.  It never ceases to lighten my mood.  

 

Yesterday was Easter.  Giordano worked. He said he was only going to work a “half day” and then “stay with the family”. But it didn’t turn out that way. He pruned olive trees, mowed grass, burned branches, cut wood. Basically what I’m driving at is that I hate him.

 

Serena and I attempted to color eggs the day before.  It was my first stab at it, and measured against my expectations (frown) I failed.  Since I’m not allowed “fare speza” (grocery shop) with children (due to corona virus restrictions), and Giordano was way too busy to make a run to the store, I asked Benedetta to buy us white eggs and dye.  She brought us six white eggs and some vegetable based red and blue dye. She said I could use turmeric for yellow. (I was expecting some old skool food coloring in plastic dropper bottles.) I googled how to dye easter eggs and it said boiling water, white vinegar and dye.  The red sorta worked. And the yellow. Not the blue. I kept adding more powdered dye and vinegar, thinking it would make the colors leach into the eggs more, but it didn’t. It only ate away at the egg shells. Frown. In a relatively bearable tsunami of frustration, I dumped the impotent cup of blue dye down the sink, spitting some lamentations about flushing money down the toilet.  (I wince imagining what despicable impressions I am making on Serena.)

 

Forest is now in my lap, btw.  It’s a little after six am. Giordano is already out working in the olive trees.  So I’d better cut to what I really want to say.  

 

I hid the chicken eggs, along with some little organic milk chocolate eggs with hazelnut filling, wrapped in lusciously evocative neon green foil in our yard before Serena woke up.  Upon reflection, this is a BIG WIN for me. Too often, I am a fanciful dreamer who lacks execution. But I birthed this mo-fo. Mostly alone. Wow. I’m my own hella proud mother.

 

Serena hunted for them while I made lunch. Giordano’s mama (whom Serena ADORES) helped her.  I was not sure if she’d be able to find them because despite her slicing, ageless intelligence, sometimes I am struck by her rudamentary four-year-old-ness.  I watched from the kitchen windows, impressed by her capacity to find. I could feel her delight from afar and it flooded me with that thing we all chase and rarely stop to receive.  

 

Thanks to quarantine, we got to have a family lunch with G’s mom and dad.  Until about six months ago mama and papa were completely out of communication. It thrills me to witness the family tapestry mending.  I feel partially responsible for this small miracle. Also Forest is a massive catalyst. Babies are made to heal and unite families.

 

Anyway, lunch was sweet.  Except that Giordano didn’t pay a speck of attention to me.  I told him later (while spitting fire) that if we made a video of the lunch, innocent viewers would not even realize we were married, much less acquaintances.  Except that we shared a baby…

 

Half way into our picnic, I made an embittered comment… like “Hey, I’m here,” to which he retorted that I must be jealous of Forest, whom he was holding and fawning over.  (I had shoved Forest into his hands because he was invading my lunch experience, as he mostly does– trying to grab my fork and play the drum on my plate… Giordano had already inhaled his first plate of food and was now running his mouth off in italian, his eyes wild and distant.)  

 

I really hate him.  

 

If I was in the mood to be wholesome and objective, I’d say our relationship is better than ever before.  But I’d rather express straight from my guts. He has not taken a single day off during quarantine. Oh wait, he was home a few days during the snow week.  He did indoor work. That was sort of nice.  

 

I’m pretty sure I also love him… because even though it feels impossible to get fed by our relationship, when I express my perpetual ache, I see him impacted and determined to improve.  This touches me. And yet we mostly abide in this holding pattern~ him living in fearful anticipation of The Future and consumed in relentless doing. Me vacillating between vulnerable need and callous indifference.  

 

My body has lost all trace of turn-on.  My guess is that this is due to a combination of living in perpetual exhaustion,  being emotionally untouched by my husband and having sub zero time to be with myself- exercise, muse and express my profound, psychedelically persuaded inner dimensions.

 

Often these days, I feel cripplingly bitter about becoming a mother.  I had no idea it would be like this. So desolate. If you are considering having kids, don’t do it in the nuclear model.  It’s the most unnatural thing a human can do. Well, except maybe capitalism. But it’s all a big, unsightly modern tangle I guess.  Anyway, having Serena was my calling, hands down. But I feel enraged for the excruciating path that I am walking.  

 

I wish you could see Forest.  He’s currently gazing at my nipple with adoration and fascination.  Touching it surprisingly gently with his index finger. Oh wait, now he’s whining and writhing in my lap.  But I’m not done.

 

I want to tell you that the cherry trees are in full, explosive blossom.  It’s April thirteenth. I’ve been eagerly awaiting springtime since the trees started releasing their leaves in late September and the breath of evening began to chill my summer-lovin’ bones.  Spring is in full effect and despite the layers of rage, desperation, loneliness and excruciating frustration, I am madly in love with this season. In love with the ecstatic choirs of birds and the feeling of the sun’s rays beaming from within my own skin.

 

I keep coming back to the affirmation that all of this is an essential step on my path of awakening.   I didn’t take any wrong turns, really. It sure seems like this in too many moments. But I am where I belong and it is a sublime (though gritty) privilege to be embodied, to be ground into holy dust and to radiate light for all.

 

Athena’s Mildly Ecstatic Resurrection

Whoa.  It’s been almost two months since I cavorted about the holy page of Athena Graceland.  WTF??? Nobody told me that having TWO children is exponentially consuming… But that’s no excuse.  There really IS no excuse for neglecting one’s soul-fire. 

 

Short of being dead.

 

Honestly, I was growing tired of my own shrill voice of suffering.  Like riding a trike that desperately needs some grease. Too much existential grief… is like living on a steady diet of flaming desserts.  They stop tasting great and even the leaping ethereal blue flames become last year’s fashion.  

 

So I spent my “Holy Days” deep-diving in my soul and my guts.  Purging and getting my feng-shui on. You know… doing “inner work”; facing my shadow.  The energy felt very conducive to such uncomfortable yet soul-full endeavours. THAT was my flavour of holiday cheer.  Haha. Not so cheerful, but I keep myself “God Company”…

 

It’s hard to measure inner work… but I have a feeling I made some progress.  I feel lighter, brighter and more available to the slobbering jaws of raw joy and transcendent contentment.  

 

So that’s how my Jesus Season rolled.  Then came the New Year. 2020… talk about HYPE.  I always get super seduced by the glittery promise of a fresh start… but THIS ONE… was unprecedented.  You know… all the “twenty-twenty vision” talk. Plus, if you roll with the New-Age crowd (as I do) (Once upon a time, I felt ashamed of the myriad new age bones in this body.  I felt too “off the ground”… so I started going by my sword-plunging middle name, “Athena”, rather than light and airy “Dawn”. I piled rocks in my undies to help me stay on the ground, and over the years, like magic, integration hath occurred-eth.  Now that I actually leave footprints when I walk, I feel freeee to be as fuckin’ New Agey as I please, without a speck of shame.)

 

Where was I?  The New Age Crowd.  You know, the Queens and Kings of Ascension.  THEY talk of “collapsing timelines” and taking radical leaps of consciousness.  This talk (and the ensuing direct experience) really gets my juices flowin’. I DO taste overt notes of proof in my golden chalice of puddin.  Massive shifts.

 

But here on the dense old Earth Plane, even such phenomena as “massive shifts” have a way of occurring as understated.  I’m still just plain old me, living plain old life… Haha. I make myself laugh… cuz there’s not much plain about this questionable acid trip rocket ship journey we are on… 

 

…and yet it also IS the most ordinary thing ever…

 

What???  You say you want “tangibles”???  Ok, I’ll give you tangibles!!!

 

I became increasingly desperate to get Serena into the Ananda School.  Having her home with me every day was eating me alive. Every time we went on a walk, she would DEMAND that I told her the story of one of her favorite movies.  This included NEMO, MOANA or ANNIE (not much in the way of variety, eh?…). If I had a hundred thousand dollars for every time I told said stories… I’d be a gazillionaire by now.  I started to loathe the sound of my own voice. My overworked spirit ached to simply sip the music of trees and wind dancing. But Serena is a pitbull when she wants something. So this was our bargain:  I got to be outside and move my body… but at the cost of being a source of incessant blabbering.

 

At some point, I decided that I would use a battering ram if I had to… to bust through the door and get her into that school.  And with enough prayer and pestering and allies both physical and non, the door opened. I met with the director. She informed me that no scholarships were available (financial s-t-r-e-t-c-h), and that Serena would not be able to carpool with teachers who live near us, as had been previously suggested.  I left the meeting crying.  


Haha, so much for battering rams!  You see, the school is a thirty-five minute drive from our house… along tunnel infused motorways, driving on which scared the ragged pants off me.  Not to mention TWO HOURS in the car with Forest each day. It felt like tooo much. But my shining white knight of Gualdo Tadino, Sir Giordano, insisted that we take the leap despite the unsettling cost and exorbitant drive.  He embodied the solid, directive masculine that I long for, but rarely have received (I intentionally put that in the past, because I am open to this shifting). It felt soooooo gooooood.  

 

In fact, I fell in love with him.  Serena is not even his daughter… and yet he stood for the BEST for her (unlike her own impotent father, but I won’t get into that).  Seriously people, this school is amazing and so is my husband for supporting it. It’s founded on the principles of Education For Life (EFL), which support children to develop as whole, integrated beings, instilling in them a life-long love of learning and cultivating tools to be happy, purposeful, connected and awake humans.  

 

Or something like that…. Ask me again in a year.  Parents are required to participate in an online class on the principles of “EFL”, so that we are on the same page at home as they are at school.  

 

Serena is in her third week now.  Our lives are outrageously improved.  Psychologically, I dwelt in mild terror at the thought of the drive… but in practice, it is mostly delicious.  Meditative. Peaceful. Outside of time. Serena looooves to listen to the Annie Movie Soundtrack. When she is not in the car, I enjoy the soulful stimulation of elevating podcasts.  As long as Forest is not crying (which sometimes happens), the drive is a soothing respite in my day.  

 

The school itself is nestled at the edge of a wide, jade colored river, along which is a dirt path that stretches for miles (or kilometers as it is told over here…).  I can’t even tell you how fucking fantastic this is. Italy is a wet country… the rain spills in violent, juicy outbursts of elemental drama. There are springs up the wazoo… but as far as rivers and lakes go… one must drive for quite a ways to pay homage to such luscious liquid lands.  My soul has felt parched and starved since I’ve been here in these sprawling, hilly farmlands bordered by stalwart lines of jagged, modest mountain ranges.  

 

I HAVE FOUND MY WATER.

 

Forest and I walk along the river most days before we pick Serena up.  The birds sing harmonies with the wet, rushing music of the river. The trees and greenery are plentiful.  Life abounds.

 

When this opportunity arose, Giordano penetrated my teary self pity with the notion that when a door opens, one must walk through it, even if the “Hows” are not all clear yet.  He said (something to the effect of) the universe rewards us for moving with faith and courage.

 

Indeed.  I quickly manifested work writing newsletters for a luminary woman friend, who offers nutrition consulting and fertility coaching for women.   I love writing for her and she pays me well. I am able to do it with Forest crushing me the ball, which is my whole sweet life these days. (He doesn’t even nap alone!)  I feel powerful and abundant.  

 

Oh, and then, a week ago, I TURNED FORTY.  That really could be a whole nother blog… or at least a loaded paragraph.  But this is enough for now. Just wanted to drop you the longest winded postcard ever written!

 

With leaping, expansive love and X-treme humanness from Graceland…. ❤  Athena 

Destiny’s Harsh Hand…

It’s been a month since I’ve decanted myself here in Athena Graceland.  It’s five fourteen am. I feel afraid to write because an impressive posse of shadows are running amuck inside me, and I feel like barfing all over this pristine white space.  I feel extra vulnerable lately, like I’ve lost my skin. I’m not in the mood to be judged, or offered your shiny three cents… I almost hid out in my journal instead…

 

But then I realized that this chapter in my unfolding consciousness is essential, and if I don’t publish it here, the story of my Life will contain an insurmountable, irreconcilable gap.  I can’t live with that.

 

Writing and Orgasm.  I can see how they are two faces of the same wild goddess.  Both are eating away at my insides these days as I wander the dark labyrinth of early motherhood in a foreign country with a husband who I only see in the thick witching hours.  With both of these essential expressions of my innermost self imprisoned within me, I am jagged and dangerous. Tiny, winged demons proliferate within the folds of my calloused heart and tense body.  They wait on my tongue to leap out and attack when I speak.  

 

I shouldn’t write that!  So BAD to use my sacred gift of language to declare such warped nonsense.  Sigh. Maybe I should allow my crackling fingers to invoke purity and elevated consciousness.  But then my honesty will be suffocated by the blanket of contrived positivity… and for what? I trust myself to find my way out of this dark maze, through the power of literary alchemy.  One honest though artistically persuaded word at a time. Follow the electric rainbow brick road…

 

Actually, allow me to take a moment and announce a fantastic and certain revelation:

 

It WILL still be there when I get back!!!  Ohhhhh yesss….. 

 

Upon deeper contemplation, I have mined the inevitablity of this.  I AM that I AM. I might be walking a strange and haunted road… a road that I do not understand, and am having difficulty metabolizing… A road that requires layer upon layer of compassion and forgiveness and surrender.  But the psychedelic flame in me will never extinguish. This flame… is the “IT” that I cherish.  

 

Whoa, I just had a flash of a dream from before I awoke.  My home was not really mine… somebody moved in, and brought all their stuff, including a little dog.  I felt angry and resentful. I went into my living room and it was FULL of christmas trees and other holy-day decor.  Someone had slipped in when I was not home, and adorned it. It was lovely… and yet I felt violated. Somehow all this makes complete sense inside me…

 

Yesterday was the first sunny day in… some semblance of forever.  The greyness has been stroking my soul in washes of dull hopelessness.  Serena awoke with fever. But there was no way I could stay inside with this seductive lucidity beaming just beyond my dirty, aged windows… 

 

So I resurrected the stroller that has been folded up and aslumber in front of our house since late spring, when my belly was big and it became too difficult to breathe as I climbed the sort of busy country road beyond my driveway.  When I opened the stroller, it was a teeming jungle of bugs, spiders and even a colony of maggoty looking creatures. But I was unstoppable. I shooed them all away, fastened Serena in, Forest in the ergo, and pushed my impressive load up the broken, mildly trafficy road.  

 

I said “buon giorno” to all the yappy dogs on the route with a high-pitched, chipper, sweet voice.  This quieted them quickly. I realized that dogs, like people, have strange ways of asking for love sometimes.

 

Serena was unusually quiet, which was nice, because mostly when we take walks, she demands that I tell her the same stories over and over again… For the longest time it was the Three Little Pigs.  But these days it is a melange of Finding Nemo, Annie and most recently Moana. (I just bought her the dvd of Moana, because as far as Disney movies go, it is the only one I can tolerate watching too many times to count.)

 

Once I got off the main road, my thoughts softened and ran lightly about the distant, colour-stained rolling hills, leapt about in crisp piles of earthed autumn leaves.  I drank the cool, clean air, became impregnated with bright empty space.

 

It’s always a challenge for me to make friends with Autumn… even though she is a knock-out.  She rouses my unconscious fear of death… Yet her evocative, poetic majesty is undeniable. Breath-giving.  Massive oak trees brushing their brown and yellow leafy crowns against a pristine wash of blue infinity. The Voice Inside whispered to attune to the formless space between…  I breathed it deep, asking for guidance.

 

Why does it mostly seem so difficult to see… this Path that is never not right before my eyes and in my very bones…?  Doors that won’t open, no matter how hard I hurl my desperate body against them… and meanwhile I’m slowish-quick slip-sliding up a twisty hill that could be construed as a goddamn mountain.

 

But I want different.  I am aching for a break from this Italy life.  This married life. Married to a sincere, caring man, from whom I am unable to receive the sustaining nutrients of intimacy.  After sixteen months, the relational deficiencies are starting to weaken me. I need to tap out long enough to replenish. Wrap this tremulous, sweating body of chiseled spiritual muscles in sensuous silk and sip electric pink gatorade held to my lips by a proud, encouraging coach.  Let the heaving in my chest subside as electrolytes whizz and sing through my stillness.  


California…. Give me your elusive, mythic hand.  Pull me close to your ocean, desert, forested, urban, mountainous body.  Let me luxuriate in your free libraries, abounding with BOOKS IN ENGLISH, let me drink from your endless stream of effervescent kombucha, feed me sumptuous nibbles of your raw chocolate laced with maca and reishi mushrooms… Drench me in friendship, deep, soulful conversations, quality time and support.  

 

If me and Serena had visas, and Forest a passport, I would be on a plane yesterday.  But life has filled my pants with boulders and it is hard to move, which I know is part of the Divine Plan… but still I want to spit on it.  I am weary and worn.

 

Giordano is growing.  I don’t need to leave him.  And yet, I am starving. I need to feed myself.  Loving him is like living on spaghetti and pizza.  After a while, this body needs some damn vegetables.  

 

There is so much more to say… the dawning sky is grey… but the wild rainbow flame within blazes now that I have poured myself forth upon the page.  May it light my way through this dark, craggy wilderness which Destiny’s harsh hand is leading me.  

Will It Still Be There When I Get Back?

Back in my experimental drug days (which incidentally spanned across an entire decade), I took ecstasy alone once.  I was quasi living with a weird and sweet old hippy dude, in a room that used to be a “grow room”. The walls were covered with shiny, silver mylar sheets, upon which I was free to paint and write and express myself freely.  I remember a moment in the midst of my heavenly corporeal rushing, where the sky figuratively opened and luminous revelation rained upon me. I grabbed a black sharpie and furiously scrawled it into existence on the wall:

 

“Will it still be there when I get back?”

 

Post trip, I revisited the colorful lotus flowers and butterflies and strands of words that had flown through me… and for the life of me, I could not recall what the hell “it” was, or where I imagined I would be circling back to.

 

And yet… there was something about this relatively cheap and fleeting revelation that has caused it to stay with me for the nearly two decades since its dawning.

 

Now we ride the wild spiral of time to the mOMent fondly known as “today”.  Athena Grace, mostly alone in the foreign, wondrous land of Italy, with two small and miraculous Graces of her own.  Serena’s school recently closed in the mornings, because it was too “outside the box” for the conservative folks of Gualdo Tadino, who are apparently content inside their safe, comfy boxes of public education.  Hence the colorful and fiercely devoted sisters of “Wonderland” did not have enough children for it to be worth their while to say open in the mornings.

 

We asked Giordano’s mama to be with Serena two mornings a week (not much, but definitely better than nuttin), while we figured out another solution.  Raphaella is “a magician”, as Giordano once coined his mama’s Gift with children… They build magical 2D and 3D worlds out of paper and colored markers and leggos of various sizes, in which Serena’s dollies and plastic animals, dinosaurs and insects lavishly inhabit… three hours of pure absorbtion in lavish fantasy scapes.  (Plus 100% Italian immersion.) Serena is in heaven.

 

Just as we were settling into a nutritive rhythm, came the voracious, slobbering beast called “The Olive Harvest”, who has once again consumed every last drop of my already hella absent husband’s time and energy.  And his mama too.  

 

Yes, I know that I “should” loooove olive season, because she yields such unparalleled exquisitry.  Spicy, bright green liquid love to drizzle freely upon everything edible. But she chews my already consumed husband up and spits him out into my bed smelling of alcohol and weed in the wee hours of the night, and then beckons him again as the first light smears the sky.

 

And I…

 

Wake each day, replete with a jungle of wild emotions roaring and tearing at me from the inside.  Immense, unbearable longing. My wild, creative Self, desperate to live and express. My body, heart and mind, begging for stimulation, intimacy and holding.  And yet, my days are all weighted with the incessant necessity of domesticity and precious dependants.  

 

I live inside the question of “what if”… what if I just let go into this all-consuming river of rigor that is full-time mothering.  And housekeeping. (The grocery store is my second home) But I want to be so much MORE than just a mother. The wild woman, the (BEST SELLING) writer, the sex priestess, the yogi, the friend, the hermit, the unabashed trail-blazing leader, the ecstatic dancer…. OUR LADY OF GOD-DRUNK GRACE.

 

And so each day is a silent fight.  All those hidden “Me-s”, unwilling to to be steam-rolled by the daily G-R-I-N-D.  And God, is it a grind. I am turning to shimmering, galactic dust. But I won’t let go and be decimated in the jaws of this mundane machine of motherhood.  Because…. If I DO….

 

WILL IT STILL BE THERE WHEN I GET BACK?????????

 

Will I forget how to write and fuck and gallop and dream?  Writing it out, it seems impossible and even ridiculous… To take the Athena Grace out of Athena Grace…. 

 

Surrender.

 

I realize surrender has its own life, intelligence and will.  It’s not like I can just say, “And now for my next wondrous trick, I shall offer my entire self to the psychedelic, dancing flames of my all-consuming Now Moment.  Ladies and Gentlemen, watch in wonder as I dissolve in the oceanic ecstasy of pure, self-less BEing.”  

 

My days ebb and flow with holding on and letting go.  They are exquisite in their own way. I will look back on this chapter with a pervading flood of fondness and gratitude.  The privilege, the holy gift of quality time with my innocent, fully present, creatively ablaze kids. So many moms miss this… because the River of Life sucks them into other compelling currents.  

 

I can already see the woman that Serena is, outside of time.  And I know that time will catch up to the soul-full maturity she exudes.  Her childhood is a marvel. A miracle that leaves me blinking with wonder to behold.  How can such an ancient soul manifest with such lucid innocence? My own childhood is vivified; alive once more inside me.  

 

And Forest.  Even though the rigors of a baby ache and break my body… there is nothing as precious and tender as being charged with a pure, new babe.  Not yet lost and tangled in worlds of words. He speaks with his wide awake eyes, his wide mouthed smiles and his cries. I am drunk, kissing his squishy, bulldog cheeks, drinking his milky breath deep into my lungs.  

 

God I hope….

 

IT will still be there.

 

But the “I” who gets back will surely not be the one who embarked on this Journey.  

 

This must be the ultimate Cosmic Joke. 

 

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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