Dreaming of Orcas in Winter

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Pushing off the shore… moving into the vast expanse of my mind, heart, Life.  I tingle.  I want to be extraordinary.  And in an instant, this desire turns to pressure and collapses in on itself.  Instead I’ll just be me.  Honest.  Curious.  Optimistic.  Ever enchanted by the weird, wild ordinariness of being a human being in a world of endlessly creative, disguised divinity.

That’s the macro.  The climate of my inner life on this deep, dark, quiet morning.  I just stopped to pick a booger.  It was sticky and I rolled it into a little ball and flicked it across my living room.  It took a few tries to launch it.  I’m embarrassed to admit that.  But the naked truth is that I am a booger picker, and you might as well know.  That’s the micro.

My Ma has cancer.  That’s the burning bush I beat around in my last blog.  Still waiting for the said bush to speak Gospel to me.  But pretty sure it will.  In the mean time, I’ve had two and a half weeks to digest this information.  And trust me, I’ve been all over the map.  I think my favorite emotion has been self-pity.  Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that too… since SHE is the one suffering.  But that’s the bizarre thing about “otherness”… someone right beside you can be undone in pain, and you really have no idea… allured instead by the glow of my own mediocre struggle.  Frown.

My Ma says she’s not “in pain”, per se… just exquisitely uncomfortable.  Mostly exhausted, and worst of all ITCHY.  Desperate to climb out of her skin.  I witness her experience from the outside, and it’s like watching her through a thick pane of glass.  My dad used to work at the MGM casino in Reno.  They kept a doped-up male lion on the family entertainment floor, and you could pay to get your photo taken with this poor, sleepy beast.  At five years old, I found this thrilling and we did.  The “secret” was a thick pane of glass between us and the Mighty One, which wasn’t perceptible in the photograph.  We had to wait a few excruciating DAYS for the photo to be processed… which pressed me into the grill of searing anticipation.  I died a few times waiting.  And then, gotta love ole Bart Horwitz (my dad)… He was supposed to go downstairs on a break and collect the picture… but he never did.  Over time, my desire for the fruit of this frivolous, exploitive adventure shriveled and returned to sacred nothing.  I learned early not to “hold my breath” when it came to my dad’s flimsy word.

Hence the frivolous origin of my metaphor of thick glass between “one” and untouchable dimensions of “otherness”.  I find it tragic.  Because I’ve been on both sides of the glass:  the one being ripped apart by loneliness, despair, some unbearable shade of pain…. Hoping to find relief in being witnessed… to no avail… And the one blinking, helpless as She Who Gave Me Life, tears miserably at her own flesh.  Oh the kaleidoscopic Mysteries of Existence….

You might not give a hoot about astrology… but I do.  And since this IS Athena Graceland, after all, I’ll report that Saturn’s round, dimpled ass is sitting on my gently beaming moon right now, which creates a mood of solitary struggle.  The sort of suffocating, internal atmosphere that grinds one down to beautiful, shimmering dust.  In the name of Ultimate Revelation.  It’s *not* glamorous.  But totally necessary.  And if you don’t want to speak in cosmically persuaded tongue, that’s cool.  Let’s just say that as far as seasons of Life go, it’s a cold, dark winter over here.

But the beauty of living out such a grueling season, is that there are contrast-carving days such as yesterday, which bloom as bright, delicious hints of spring.  By some unsayable Grace, the leaden weight in my heart lifts… I unhinge from the need for my Life to be anything other than it IS.  This is fresh pressed ecstasy.  I was at peace with my Ma’s fate, whatever it may be.  Peel back the layer of clutching at permanence, and being so close to the possibility of death is exciting.  It clarifies and vivifies Life.  It seduces forth more textures of whispering Divinity, laced in Everything.  I can feel the holy, smiling warmth of “The Other Side”, as my Ma likes to refer to that easier dimension of Heaven, where Light is not tethered to such laughable density.

Gosh, I sure can get lost in the endless dimensions of my mind!  I was telling you about the ease of yesterday.  I did an hour of paid cleaning at my Ma’s group house while Serena napped in the car.  I felt free.  Life was reduced to the simplicity of scrubbing a filmy shower with the green, abrasive side of a sponge and homemade vinegar-water with tea tree and lavender oils.  My large hands squeezed into small, orange rubber gloves.  When I finished, I laid on my back on the gravely driveway as Serena continued to snooze, texting with Ed… deciding on which day he would visit.  We agreed on Moonday.  The day after Christmas.  I felt excitement swell inside.  Danger.  Like looking into the eyes of a tiger, this fragile feeling could so easily snap in the jaws of devastating disappointment.  But like the archetypal Fool, I softened, letting it all be, as I danced after the rose at the cliff’s edge.  I love Ed and I want to spend time with him.  I relinquished the urge to be in control of our relationship and “the future”.  (Which I spend a lot of time and energy attempting to manipulate in hopes of “getting comfortable” and feeling “okay”.)

Then a sliver honda crunched the gravel driveway and spit my Ma out, fresh from another doctor appointment, and less nine vials of blood.  She was high on pumpkin spice latte, which made her behave like her former self!  Full of energy and good humor.  (These days, she mostly exists in a dull state of exhaustion, molded to the shape of her beige recliner, dispensing frequent apologies for her wilted state.)  I lapped up every precious second we were blessed to share.

Lots of other stuff happened too.  (Didn’t the literary precision of that last sentence bring you to your beautiful knees?!?!)  All profoundly ordinary, yet glistening with a sassy hint of revealed divinity.  This is what happens after death.  Suddenly there is new space for Truth to beam through the veil.  No doubt this is what Leonard Cohen meant when he sang, “There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the Light gets in.”   Death upon sweet death cracks apart the ego’s defenses to the blazing Reality of Light.  Slowly, over time, in my case…and perhaps sometimes all at once.  (Yikes!)

I don’t want to deluge you in the mundane details of my awesome existence, but I can’t skip the part where Serena and I drove to the cow dairy to procure a half gallon of raw milk for my Ma… we left the car running, intending to be quick.  Three calves rested in a bed of hay, adjacent to the milk room.  The smallest one, a baby bull, stood up, spindly hind legs first, and came to the fence to say hi.  He let me scratch his neck!  Then a bigger girl came over and licked my hand with her thick, coarse tongue.  My heart turned melty as they gazed at us with their radiant, wide, brown moon eyes.  I thought I’d never wash my barnyard stained hands.

I don’t know if I’ll feel as right and free today.  Serena woke too many times last night.  Then I awoke at almost four am from a dream of orcas.  It was nighttime.  I rode a ferry and they danced elegantly in the dark water alongside the boat.  I called out to them, “I LOVE YOU!!!!”  When our boat docked, they approached and let me pet them.  I was cautious at first, in their mighty presence.  Then I relaxed into trust.  This dream exploded my crown open and flooded me with infinity and stars and a feeling of pulsing awe.

I am ready for whatever shades of Grace today bestows.

I’m Back. With a Heart Freshly Shattered.

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But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

T’is the east, and Athena Grace LMNOP is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she. . . .

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars

As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven

Would through the airy region stream so bright

That birds would sing and think it were not night.

Yes my Beloveds, I, Athena Grace LMNOP am back… Mainlining Heavenly brightness to your heart and mind with renewed, impassioned, whitewater currents!!!  I didn’t mean to be away this long… but for the month of November, I spearheaded a small online group committed to writing a poem a day for the entire month (which also entailed the grace of reading each others poems). This endeavor, to which I was fiercely committed, gobbled up every single spare second of my incessantly demanding existence.  And then some.  But the good news, is that I rocked it.  And I mean smoking’ gun style.  I wasn’t sure if I could still write poetry… it had been so damn long.  But I guess a poet is just what I am… cuz when I touched pen to naked page, it just poured out like pee and poop.  An essential byproduct of living with an open, ever-curious and hungry heart.  (I dare you to demand that I share some of my latest poems here in Athena Graceland!!!)

Then came December.  Then came Athena Grace drawing in a hella deep breath.  And releasing said breath.  As it turns out, the day that will live in infamy is actually DECEMBER SECOND, not the seventh.   That was the day my blood turned to cold, white lightening.  The day that contained the precise, lucid moment when I faced the possibility of losing my Ma way sooner than I ever imagined.  

Actually, for the past few years, I have imagined losing her on a semi-regular basis, so that I never take her warm, luminous presence in my life for granted.  Despite my “impermanence exercise”, parents still occurred as immortal… probably because they are the ones who have been a constant since before the beginning…  Anyway, I give myself an A+ for savoring time with my Ma.  But that didn’t  make the semi-sudden threat of losing her any more gentle and delicious.  

Last week, she asked me not to blog about it.  I think she might have changed her mind by now… but just in case, I shall remain vague and elusive.  This *could* be considered poor form… to evade the jugular, ignore the bling-clad, neon pink elephant on the page.  But, as the self-proclaimed Picasso of the literary domain, it is my prerogative to break rules.  Especially if it is the only way that I am able to show up for my self-ascribed literary duty at this time.  So let’s explore how I can olympic figure skate around this enticing elephant in mother’s clothing, and still win the GOLD.  And when she’s ready, I have unpublished blogs waiting in the wings… so you can taste the recent rainbow of my heart as destroyed by Kali Ma herself.  

Ok, so which burning bush shall I beat around?  Do you want to hear about “Toot”?… A book I recently checked out of the library “for Serena”.  It’s about farts, and I was SO excited to read it to her the second we got home.  I could barely get the words out, I was laughing so damn hard.  She had no clue what was going on.  Or I could tell you that Serena’s new favorite food is spirulina!  Yes, it has taken the lead, over sauerkraut, beef and dill pickles!  Or that I was planning to cut down my own christmas tree.  The first tree of my adult life.  Yes, I’m thirty six and I haven’t had a christmas tree since I was a disgruntled seventeen year old, living “at home”.  Whoa.  I felt conflicted about taking the life of an innocent tree… I was gonna try to ASK the tree permission.  But I doubted my ability to talk to trees… and my heart clenched when I thought about executing this indulgent murder.  Then on sunday evening, Serena and I were out walking and stumbled upon a PERFECT tree that had already been slaughtered, and was just laying in the mud, dying a slow, tragic death.  A tenacious, modern-day pioneer woman, I hoisted her up on top of Serena’s stroller and she wafted piney perfume all the way home.  How’s THAT for amazing grace?!  For my next modest miracle, I shall pull innovative decorations out of my ass!… I could tell you that I’ve always had a mental block against Shakespeare… but reading the snippet of Romeo and Juliet at the opening of this blog has tickled my poetic sensibilities.  I can see myself diving into the oceanic depths of his literary genius and being born again.

Nah.  I’m gonna stick with the enticing meat and potatoes on my heart’s plate. I still dunno if my Ma will stay or go.  I guess we never know, even when we imagine we do.  And this, my friends is a gorgeous crucible of human existence.  But touching the possibility of life without her, I have turned back toward Ed (my married baby daddy), and am clinging with renewed fervor.  I had made such strides in letting go… I have mixed feelings about this “regression”.  There is such a stubborn fighter in me.  I have loved my fight for Ed.  I have fought hard for “The Dream of US” (That’s the perfect tittle for my book about falling hopelessly in love and making a baby with a married man as a ruthless, spiritual crucifixion!… (and Resurrection, I hope…) for four years.  And some essential and deep part of me is… fulfilled?… by engaging in this impossible battle.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been on my knees, blood and tear soaked, asking myself if I might want to consider choosing a more intelligent fight….

But… It means something to me that we have a child together.  And I *wanted* to create that “forever” bond with Ed, because our love is boundless and eternally compelling.  We are able to merge and taste a rare, pure unity.  This has kept us going in the face of our excruciating circumstances and inexcusable humanness.  Relationships oughtn’t be so disposable as they have become in our contemporary, strip mall, ravenously consuming society.  Oh Virtuous Athena… where does that leave his marriage then?  Fuck, I don’t know.  I got myself in a hopeless tangle.  If I had a shiny, gold Sacajawea dollar for every time I felt suffocated by the claustrophobic trap of my choices in Love… scrambled desperately to find the glowing Exit sign… only to discover there AIN’T one… 

The only thing even resembling an Exit sign is stopping dead in my desperate tracks, putting my hand on my heart and speaking “I LOVE YOU.”  Over and over and over and OVER again.  In the face of Life’s panoply of tragedies, colossal disappointments and triumphs alike.  This morning, as I was leafing through my precious (100% recycled!) notebook, I revisited a few potent nibbles of the notes I took when I heard Matt Kahn (my spiritual teacher) speak in Berkeley last month.  This one leapt off the page: 

“When the ego unravels, you will always feel alone.”

I became wildly jazzed…. Something fabulous might actually be occurring beneath the surface of this opulent buffet of tragedy and ache.  Like maybe I actually have a chance to realize a deeper cut of the God (Love) within me, and within ALL.  Like maybe the greatest blessing of my Existence, is that I can’t find the infernally blazing Exit sign… and that the pain can be excruciating.  That there is no one to catch me when I fall…. and instead I land with a clumsy, shattering thud, right in the stark and holy center of my Self.  Maybe it is fantastic that I can’t reassemble the broken shards of my heart and life.  

I must be saying something true, because suddenly I could cry.

It’s six fifty am.  I hear Serena stirring in the bedroom.  

Well, I’m glad to be hOMe.  I’ve missed you.   

Breathing into Life and Death… and Beyond

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I wonder if the caterpillar mush inside a cocoon cries out, and kicks the cursed walls of its vessel of scared Becoming… because it’s all frustrated, molten passion, bound and tragically wingless.  I bet.

I report this often, but it truly is an ever-new experience:  I just drew in a slow, deep breath… and in doing so, remembered my Self.  It was revelatory.  And I was not expecting it… I was all twisted up in the mental concept of being trapped within the confining walls of my current alchemical “prison”, until an inhale overtook me and I was reborn.  Thank God.  I believe in the queendom and the power and the GLORY of the breath.  I believe that it is a one way ticket to intimacy with Everything.  I believe that we can offer our love to ALL with every exhale, and transform the Fabric of Reality.  Sometimes I forget that I believe this…. which is why I am sooo glad that we are having this little, intimate chat.  I don’t know what I’d do without you!!

I also want to believe that I die with every exhale… but that lofty concept still remains a bit out of my reach… like it’s in a shiny wrapper atop God’s fridge, and I am a toddling infant, merely tantalized by its seductive, untouchable existence.

I was intending to segue into the elusive yet compelling topic of death right about now… but I must admit that this is an intimidating endeavor!  I will take a stab! (Oh haha that’s a pun!)(I’m almost certain that was the first pun I’ve ever served up here in Athena Graceland!  Eight years in…. Wish I had a bell to ring…)  Because it just so happens that another of my latest (kamikaze) missions is to befriend failure!  So this is like a two for one sale– take a stab at death, befriend failure along the way, PLUS, act now and you get a free bonus PUN.

Death.  (I just breathed again.)  I’ve never read The Tibetan Book of the Dead… but I’ve heard whispered rumors that its premise is Life as a practice ground for dying.  Even though I don’t totally understand this, it illuminates a knowing in my soul.  (Gosh, there went another serious breath!  Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m touching on something juicy.)

My abiding, essential spiritual inspiration (I cringe at the title “Spiritual Teacher”, because it has become a fad.  A totally trendy, new age thing to “have”.  And Matt Kahn doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal.  His mission is to awaken the Master in ALL, through the power of Love.  This sounds sensible to me.), Matt Kahn often shares that he spent ten years dying… In orderer to become the clear channel of Infinite Love that he is now.  Between healing sessions he offered, he lay on his couch, wrapped in a blanket, shivering, shaking and… dying.   Glamorous, eh?

I often use that snippet of his story as a reference point… as I come undone.  My whole journey with the father of my daughter has been woven with threads of colossal heartbreak and disappointment… as well as shimmering, sensuous threads of ecstasy and oneness.  Ha!…Sometimes when Serena meets a moment of profound frustration, wisdom smiles through me, singing out, “Oh, the agony and the ecstasy…”  She is such a lucid expression of the human condition.  No filters.  And now, I am mother to my own Innocence, singing the same sentence of unsolvable ISness.  God help me.

The agony and the ecstasy indeed.  But in these excruciating moments, when I am shattered and no one can save me (I hate that!!!), I think of Matt Kahn dying in his blanket, and our favorite Lord and Savior, Jesus dying on the cross… and I remind myself that if I *entirely* relax to the experience, allow it obliterate what is not real, what I no longer need for the Journey ahead… that I might actually be getting “somewhere”.  Somewhere of genuine value.

I’m afraid of dying in the most obvious sense… leaving my body, and no longer having the sacred, galactic privilege of being “Athena Grace”.  I can’t imagine that my soul has ever been such a resplendent character… Even though it has been a long, difficult, lonely and perplexing road, I am such an ingenious divine poem in the flesh… I feel outrageously fortunate to be so wildly expressive, deeply feeling, impassioned, articulate… and especially to love so huge.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Plus, at a more rudimentary level, I’m afraid of pain.  It seems like it might really hurt to leave this body…

But it couldn’t hurt any more that F-ing CHILDBIRTH for God’s sake!!!!!  That was the most excruciating twelve hours of my entire life (not to mention the time-slurring aftermath of having my recklessly torn labia sewn back up… but at least I got to hold my sleeping bundle of heaven through this portion of the torturous joy-ride).  And now that I think about it, I DID die.  So what’s the big deal, Athena??

Maybe I’m afraid to LIVE.  Afraid to FAIL.  Afraid to GIVE EVERYTHING of myself… to offer my voice and my love so vulnerably and risk being rejected or misunderstood.  It’s a trendy stance to take that “it’s not failure we’re truly afraid of, but SUCCESS”… this might be true… but if it is, I can’t access my “fear of success”.  I yearn from my depths to be a famous writer.  To me, this is the ultimate manifestation of soul-full success– to uncork and decant my heart as worlds of words that heal, bless and transform others, for the wellbeing of ALL.   And to be financially supported this way.  God I want to graduate from the janky domain of “just scraping by”… take vacations, cut generous checks to world-elevating charities… and heck, just to not break a sweat about needing a goddamn haircut or winter boots… or new pants that make me feel outrageously awesome and gorgeous.  And what about that raw opal ring I lust for??  Not to mention all of the stuff I want Serena to have access to… like gymnastics, dance, piano lessons, horseback riding, art classes, international travel….

Inhale.

Exhaaaale.

Death.  A couple of mornings ago, I dreamt of my deceased beloved, Dan.  In the dream, he was my longterm substitute teacher.  He wore a cashmere sweater, which perfectly portrays the texture of his soul– soooo soft and gentle and wonderful to touch.  I awoke and cried a surprising sea of tears into the solitary darkness.  I realized that I was grieving the passion that poured forth from me, into our Joining.

In this current, parched, solitary chapter of my walk-about through Infinity, I feel so much passion inside.  My body is aflame, and this potent energy has nowhere to flow.  Naturally, I am exaggerating, because, duh, it’s flowing from my fingertips into your eyeballs, right this second… It’s just that my life is such sacred drudgery these days.  Yes, my passion flows into Serena’s Miraculous Unfurling, too.  And this is beyond wonderful.   I guess it’s just my Poet’s Heart, exploded wide open and groping at the weird fabric of Creation, with the holy mission of “knowing itSelf”.  And when you try to fathom Infinity copping a feel of it’s own boundlessness… you can see that this could be fertile ground for insatiable yearning.  Sigh.  Maybe this relentless holy inferno is just my nature.  Breathe into THAT ONE, Athena…

I want some friggin relief.  I want to make exquisite delicious, soul-merging love… dance into untamed nirvana … swim unbounded in warm, turquoise oceans… roller-skate through Golden Gate Park with Serena on an excruciatingly pristine sunny day… AND ESPECIALLY— pour my passion-stained words into the minds of the masses and explode hearts into zillions of dancing, winged stars.

Death… Maybe it is the courage to inhabit one’s Life with Totality, openness and ignited passion… After all, what of “ourself” can withstand this Ultimacy of Presence?  When one is fully given to each newborn breath, to the shimmering pulsation of NOW… one cannot exist as a collection of limiting habits, beliefs and limitations.  One is….

One IS.

(I guess I still have more to discover about life and death… But I celebrate myself for taking a courageous stab at this wicked, daunting topic!!)

May we all be willing to die to ourselves and emerge as exquisite, winged Masters of Love.

Chronicles of a Rad Single Mama

God bless these words.  All of them.  I’m serious God.  Imbue them with Light that awakens ALL HEARTS.  Because You are THAT Badass.

Five fifty five am.  My legs ACHE.  I worked three jobs yesterday.  In addition to my Always Job of caring for Serena.  Actually, I needed to toil in the trenches yesterday… because once again, the full moon worked its watery, nocturnal magic, and destroyed me.  Full moons illuminate previously unseen inner dimensions for the purpose of sacred release.  I’ve sure had a wealth of material to release lately… Every time the She becomes round and enchanting, I die another gruesome death.  On sunday, my heart weighted tons.  I felt depressed.  It has been ages since I’ve danced with that particular shade of Divinity.  That’s right.  I’m declaring depression Divine.  Because ‘member?  I am no longer interested in imagining that there is anything that is *not* Omnipresent, All Pervading God… It’s actually impossible.  I can’t even conceive of how Omnipresence could be absent from anything or anywhere.  That’s just stupid, if you ask me.  Which you didn’t.  But this is my blog, and I am so free to belt out the Gospel from this modest mount.  And I’m certain that my assertions are of value.

Now that I think of it, the last time I felt debilitatingly depressed was when I was about six months pregnant… around August of last year… when Ed went M.I.A. and I thought he was going to totally desert The Graces.  All I could do was lay in my bed and cry.  Oh, and somehow I dragged my zillion pound heart to prenatal yoga in the mornings… and mostly cried through class.  My Cosmic Dad saved my life by taking me to the movies a bunch.  I remember sitting through Jurassic World, feeling a sacred, near ecstatic wash of relief as I watched the shiny leading lady tear through the jungle in high heels and tight, muddy, disheveled clothing… and one by cursed one, the secondary characters were gobbled by massive, stupid dinosaurs with wicked sharp teeth.  Oh, and bottomless buttery, salty popcorn.  For those two hours, I was happy and free.  As we emerged from the theater, Cosmic Dad and his buddy began critiquing the movie.  I was still high off of the cheap hollywood climax and release… I found it ludicrous that they were waxing sophisticated about this blissfully mindless little slice of “cinema”!

Anyway, I was amazed on sunday to feel for the first time in a long time, that I didn’t give a you-know-what about anything.  Except Serena.  But even that essential thread to this world felt tattered and precarious.

Yesterday (Moonday), I had three jobs to do.  In the morning, I cleaned the guesthouse at the Crystal Hermitage.  (Gosh, that sounds so glamourous in writing!!!  Like I’m a maid to the Stars.  Ha!… I have arrived 😉  By God’s Rad Grace, my Ma stayed at my house while Serena napped… and played with her when she woke, (They LOVE each other!!!) so I was able to “wham-bam” the job, while Matt Kahn transformed my consciousness via youtube.   When I got home, I heated up some red beans and rice for all of us, and had a little down time.   Then I took Serena to the yurt that my Ma usually cleans, because she isn’t well, and I offered to do it for her.  Serena napped in the car for most of it.  When she awoke, I put her on my back, papoose style, like mothers have been doing since the beginning of time, and we swept the thick, wet coating of oak leaves from the wrap-around deck.  Almost immediately after that, it was time to go cook dinner for “Chandi” (a group house at Ananda).  Serena and I made veggie tacos.  Serena sat on the counter and nibbled on raw squash and red bell peppers, and helped me pick out spices to season the food with.  She’s an amazing partner.

When we got home, it was bath time.  I didn’t even have time to feed her dinner, before plunking her into the kitchen sink.  I fed her buttery steamed broccoli as she bathed.  I ate some too… plus a couple slices of jack cheese dipped in pesto.  And some cucumber.  Ahhh, the glamorous life of a single mama.

Once Serena was down, my body screamed with ache.  I didn’t wanna move.  I fell into bed, scrolled down my stupid facebook feed for a few too many minutes before rolling over and letting sleep have me and my aching limbs.

I dreamed of being held by a *platonic* man friend.  I woke up feeling strangely nourished.  The night before, I dreamt I had sex with another long time friend and lover.  I love dream sex, because it can just go on and on and on…. Thank GOD for my dreams.  They give me what waking life is not.  I need this right now.  It’s actually almost comical how desolate my existence has become.  Recently, my Ma’s housemate, David was jubilant to share with me that he had been researching baby development, and discovered that when they are not touched, they DIE.  Yup.  That’s right David.  And what of little Athena Grace?   She’s mostly alive… but her body aches, as she wanders this sprawling figurative desert alone.

It will not be this way forever.  It is indulgent (though completely natural) to believe so.

Lately I’ve been AMAZED at the stark contrast of light and darkness within me.  The light is so bright, in ordinary moments, it consumes me in incognito ecstasy.  Serena brings unsayable joy to my days.  (Except Sunday.)  And the dark is thick as a starless, winter night.  It chills me to the core.  This acute polarity is the state of the World right now.  Amazing how it plays out with unique creativity in each of our personal stories… And simultaneously in our collective story.  I breathe it all into my heart.  And exhale it as blessing.  I know I am here to transform the consciousness of the planet and bring Heaven to Earth.  You might be too.  We all might be.  Are you ready to claim your essential place in Love’s twisted, frivolous play??

Oh, I forgot to mention the cherry on top of this melty hot fudge concoction that is My Life… My Ma called and left a message on my phone while I was bathing Serena last night.  She acknowledged and celebrated me for all that I did yesterday.  She said she realizes that probably nobody knows of all that I triumphantly accomplished… except for her… and she is so proud of me.

Listen– don’t be “too spiritual” for acknowledgment and praise.  That’s stupid.  Sure, it’s probably not healthy to be dependent on the stuff…. It’s not healthy to be dependent on ANYTHING.  But being acknowledged for who you ARE and what you DO is an essential ingredient of a healthy life.  It is an active expression of Belonging.  I acknowledge myself often.  I’m awesome.  But honestly, sometimes that just doesn’t hit The Spot.  Sometimes I need the glory of this epic, heroic pilgrimage through Divine Weirdness to be recognized by another.  And so do YOU.

I guess that’s enough for now…. I was gonna share my reflections on dying…. but I’ll save that for another gay romp through Athena Graceland!!!

PS~ Look Ma— I didn’t use any swear words in this blog!!!!  And it was not cuz I was editing my expression… it’s just that sometimes “four letter words” are the appropriate building blocks for raw, authentic expression, and sometimes they’re not.  ❤

Things that go “Fuck” in the Night

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Things that go FUCK in the night.  An essay by Athena Grace LMNOP.  Yes, lately I have been going “fuck” in the night… and I feel slightly ashamed to admit it.  Serena goes through cycles where she sleeps amazing– I put her to bed around 7:30, in her pack n play.  She sleeps soundly until 2 or 3am.  Then she calls to me, and I scoop her up and nestle her into my bed, where she nurses and we both drift back into cozy slumber… for about two hours… Then I nurse her some more, imbibe one more delicious wave of sleep, and then get up, make tea and have the most (potentially) delicious, lucid “Me Time” for an hour or two if I’m lucky (half an hour or less, if I’m fleetingly damned).

But for the last couple of weeks, she’s been having her first wake up somewhere between ten and eleven pm.  And then waking every two hours (ish) after that.  I thought she might be teething… or at least having a juicy brain growth spurt… So I coached myself to have a generous attitude.  But no new teeth yet… and my arms are going uncomfortably numb again from the excessive side-lying nursing.  I’m tired.  And yes, flooded with helplessness and frustration, I find myself going “fuck” in the night.

But that is the end of that essay.  Short and sweet.  A flame-trailing line drive down the third base line.  I’m taking the turn…. sliding into second… SAFE!!!!

Tragically, I was never a great softball player… I’m too much of a pansy.  But God, I can feel the latent satisfaction in being a skillful and aggressive player.  *Smacking* the ball solid with my bat (I have recurring dreams about this), owning the bases, fearlessly fielding smokin’ grounders, hurling the ball with fierce warrioresse accuracy… I guess I’ll have to express these edifying energies in other (diamond shaped) domains of my life.

I haven’t been writing much about motherhood here in Athena Graceland… I felt like I should be… Until I (just now) did.  Then I realized why I don’t…. I am mom every second of every day… except for two hours on tuesdays when I am “yoga teacher”.  “Awesome yoga teacher”, at that!  And for an hour in the morning, I am “writer”.  And I don’t really feel to blather on and on about my (AMAZING) baby, because she will soon enough awaken and require EVERYTHING.  Which I mostly relish giving.

I’d rather blather about my stupid relationship!!!  Is that dumb or WHAT???  I vote YES on measure D for Dumb.  But that doesn’t stop me from expressing what there is to express.  I write from FEELING.  It heals me.  And helps me make the treacherous climb from my sniveling small self, into my soaring, winged, triumphant Being of Light Self.

I’m not officially in a Relationship anymore… we have mutually opted out.  But it’s such an excruciating process to starve the ravenous, slobbery beast inside me, who subsists on energetic ties to Ed.  She is so fierce, and really causes a stir when she is not fed.  Time and again, I reach out for him… hoping to surge with decadent feelings of affinity and fullness…. and… they just aren’t available anymore.  It’s more like me sprinting into the electric fence, getting knocked backward onto my scrawny ass, and then copping a massive, childish attitude because I’m not getting what I want.

I FEEL SO “ENDARKENED”!!!  So immature.  I love this experience of “breaking through” (the flashy, new-age verbiage for “breaking up”)… because it is revealing remarkably unflattering angles of me!  In the past, I would have beat myself up over not being “perfect”.  No longer.  I am DONE believing that there is anything but God, disguised in all characters, scenarios, feelings… EVERYWHERE.  Let’s get Real.  Is HeSheIt Omnipresent, or NOT???

Yeah, that’s right.  Omnipresent doesn’t leave room for much else.  Even if it must encompass darkness, childish behavior and global atrocities.  Shrug.  It’s a zany lila.  But declaring the all-pervading presence of the Good Lord WILL DELIVER US.  And I am playing my essential part in this impending Ascension.  But Jesus… My role entails so many uncomfortable feelings.  Thirty six and three quarter years into this Athena Grace thang, I’m getting good at recognizing the “Still Small Voice” (the voice of Infinite Wisdom) within me.  It tells me that Ed and I were so powerfully attracted, because we were Destined to give Serena life.  Mission accomplished.  And now my infinite stream of happily ever after is flowing elsewhere, and there’s no need to suffer about this.

But I am suffering about this.  Because I had lucid fever dreams of US playing house and being together forever.  A stubborn-as-fuck piece of me insists on clutching to a few lousy, stale crumbs of fulfillment.  Moldy crumbs that make me sick.  Yet I cherish them.  And even though I know I deserve WAY BETTER, I still love the one in me who fights to the death for these toxic, jagged crumbs!!!  And I honor the Divine in her.

Day by arduous day, freedom quietly unravels in my clenched, frightened heart.  I have little (ecstatic) tastes of full surrender.  I feel washes of soul-fulfillment as I inhabit the Life that lives through me.  So many moments of crushingly beautiful music and dancing, evocative light and resplendent friendship… Moments upon blessed moments of delight as Serena’s Lila Graces me. (That was a play on words.  Her full name is “Serena Lila Grace”.  I’m clever.)

I have this perpetual gnawing conflict as I write…. I thirst to become a “famous writer”.  But I imagine that I will have to edit, refine, distill, direct my expression in order to do so.  And I don’t want to!!  I want to be FREE.  I want to show up here in Athena Graceland with no holds barred.  I want to say it all.  Without concern for if it is good enough, or refined enough or ENOUGH enough… I want to be as goddamn superlative and excessively expressive as I feel to.  Even if it means that I have to get paid minimum wage to bake goddamn (delicious) quiches, make (epic) soup and clean houses for the rest of eternity.  God, I’m stubborn.

Maybe someday I’ll change.

But today, I am me.  Today I am free.  I type what I must… and I breathe.

I remember that this is as God as it gets.

And yet…

There truly is no end to how brightly we can shine.

The best is yet to come.

Love is the Way.

I am willing to die (a gazillion times) to all other notions.

And be birthed into Love Itself, a gazillion more…

Inhale.  Exhaaaale.

Amen.

Into the Valley of Hope: A Five Day Trek Through Athena Graceland

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Yesterday I felt free.  I inhabited my Self and my Life as an Artist– ecstatically engaged in the continuous dance of creation (and creative destruction).  I wonder if this orientation IS freedom….  My hypothesis is YES.  I bet Henry Miller would agree. I also wonder if “Self” and “Life” are actually synonyms… You might not thinks so at first glance… but peel back the tender skin of appearance, and see that they are indivisible subject and object of God “Godding”.  A playful, infinitely looping inversion.  Consider that your Life is a vast, kaleidoscopic, externalized projection of your Self.  Alan Watts would cast his vote in favor of this holiest hypothesis.

And now I shall slip into some clunky moon boots and shimmy on down to the ground, where Life happens.  Where Love masquerades in ridiculous, imaginative costumes for the sheer BANG of it.  Wait– can “Love” be lumped into the club with “Life” and “Self”?  Probably… but Love seems harder to corral and contain, than Life and Self…  Hey!  I think these moon boots are defective!!…I’m still orbiting in obscenely conceptual realms!  Lemme tighten the velcro straps and see what happens…

Okay, that’s better.  Here I am.  Breathing on my couch.  Six fifty-nine am, and I hear soft baby sounds wafting occasionally from behind the closed bedroom door… which makes me feel frantic to get a few more nutrient dense sentences committed to the page before my day gets devoured by the slobbering (and Grace-full) beast of ceaseless, self-less service.  Never mind.  I must retrieve my daughter… Greet her with enthusiasm and delight, gobble her cheeks, breathe in her sweetness, take off her nighttime diaper, and put her on the potty.  How’s THAT for moon boots?

Now it’s a new day.  And my heavy-assed heart is pressing me into the couch like moon boots that have been splashing in shadows.  I hear intermittent sounds from the bedroom, like Serena’s sleep is lightening, but she is not yet awake… so I imagine this will be a brief fling with my writer Self.  But even a paragraph will be the best sex.  My heart hurt so bad yesterday.  I spent a big hunk of the day groping to figure out how to care for my poor, sick mama.  (She has a handful of infected teeth.)  The last couple times I’d seen her, she looked like walking dead.  I conceived of the possibility that she might not live to be eighty eight and four months, like the fortune teller of her childhood predicted.  She might not live past sixty nine.  But then, Serena and I visited her in the late afternoon, and she had a quarter tank of life in her… and I washed with relief and hope.

Hope.  I’ve been meaning to write about Hope for a very long time.  I used to despise it.  I perceived it as wispy and weak.  I “hoped” that it would work out for Ed and I to be together.  But I felt no personal power or responsibility as I peered wistfully through the dirty picture window of my hope-full-ness.  It seemed thin and wispy, like an overgrown weed, reaching determinedly for a Heaven it would never meet.

It’s a new day again.  I probably only have a few minutes before my little Shrimp wakes up.  But I’ll squeeze every last drop of insight and wisdom and gratuitous self-expression out of them!  I used to be the campaign manager for the war on hope.  Because it seemed to imply powerlessness.  And I wanted to feel power-FULL.  I preferred to side with personal responsibility and action, wielded against a backdrop of Faith.  Not that I *took* personal responsibility and action…. but… that’s where I recognized the most potential satisfaction.

But instead of merely casting poor hope, like a piece of scrap meat into a pit of starved wolves, I held it in my curious hands, turning it over and sensing its raw, essential ISness.  Some part of me was determined to make space for it in the over-populated rainbow of virtues that shine from my Insides.  A turning point occurred one day when I shared my misgivings of hope with Gopal.  He was a quick and warm ninja in hope’s defense.  He testified that HOPE was the determining factor between life and death amongst prisoners of war.   This touched the prisoner of war who lives in my own heart…. fighting for that which matters most to me.  I often wonder if I am barking up the wrong tree, so to speak… mis-investing my hope… But… even still… there is something true and beautiful in my hoping.  Innocence.  Yes… hope is a life-line to my precious Innocence.

And now it is yet another day, and again I strive to corral my thoughts and yolk them to the subject of Hope and Innocence.  Yes, I think innocence is the nucleus of this holy riddle.  Because the child in my heart is not “pragmatic”.  She gazes at the upside-down carpet of stars, and bleeds into innate communion with their riveting, unknowable mysteries.  Hope is the sound of her sheer, glittered, neon wings beating the open sky.  She doesn’t give a hoot about civilized notions as “personal responsibility” and “action”.  She is a flowing river of dreams and intuition.  A frivolous, gurgling fountain of experiential revelation and whispering hope.

Hope is a lullaby wafting from my soul, even in the darkest hours of my uphill climb through this concealed and arduous dimension of heaven we call “life on earth”.  Hope is a sprawling ribbon of my own soul’s luminous, fractaling body.  Everything does not have to be so blunt and obvious and linear.  Hope blurs the edges of my being into softer scapes of Heaven.  Hope smears my solid-seeming soul into the pulsing Ocean of Love’s warm potentiality.

With YOU as my witness, I am standing tall and proud on my faded, vintage soapbox, and staking a fierce claim in the holy land of Hope.  I am proud to announce that I HOPE I will be a famous writer some day.  I hope that I will find my Soul Mate– a Partner with whom I harmoniously share the rest of my life with… and who embraces Serena as though she is his own.  I hope I have another child with him.  I hope to feel what it feels like for the father of my child to be utterly delighted as I grow a miraculous merging of our love and blood and strengths.  I want to be held and kissed and celebrated as The Goddess as I offer my body, life and heart as a sacred bridge to the New World, where Love boldly leaps in flaming song from every heart, igniting the world AS BEAUTY and limitless, soulful goodness.

Now it’s day five of my linguistic trek through Graceland.  Autumnal cold has engulfed the Sierra Foothills.  My toes are icy.  Baby toys are strewn about the floor that BEGS to be vacuumed and mopped.  I feel melancholy stretching in violin strings across my incredibly tender heart.  I could cry, but instead I am going to publish this blog, take a shower, pick up messes and secretly fan the delicate, pastel rainbow flame of hope that burns in my chest, with every devotional breath I take.  And with each exhale, cascading this shy, under-valued yet essential virtue into the invisible infinite, as sweet sustenance for ALL.

With sincere blessings from my heart,

Athena Grace LMNOP

The Ultimate Soul Workout

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Life begins the day you realize it’s meant to be hard.

At least for ME, that’s how it went down.

Being an etherial new-age baby, I struggled a bunch, clutching a dazzling-law-of-attraction-belief that Life was supposed to be easy… and then meeting so many unwieldy mOMents, and intense feelings, and not knowing what to do or be to make my Life submit and behave in the way of ease.  God, it is such an uphill climb.

The crucial point lurking in this hypothesis though, is that at a soul level, this sloppy, unwieldy struggle one of the Heavenly Lord’s all-time greatest boons.  To incarnate in this arduous dimension is heavyweight strength training!  Who wants to be a gorgeous, sparkling, winged mirage, fluttering insouciantly about in a revealed rendition of Heaven… when you could be attending the BEST costume party in the galaxy… suiting up in a nice dense meat sack and pushing figurative boulders up custom-fashioned metaphorical mountains, developing sweet, spiritual six-packs and bulging biceps of the soul?  We really have our priorities dialed in, down here on earth.

Plus, we get to drink tea and coffee!!!  I bet that is the tipping point for many incarnate angels.

Lately, I’ve been having a hot and heavy wonder what it would be like to inhabit my Life with a relaxed internal poise… a *genuine* and full bodied acceptance of the reality in which I marinate.  Because mostly, there’s this whole consuming layer of experience that occurs like agitation.  Like the cursed grain of sand inside the holy oyster shell of my existence.  A destructive, gnawing idea that I’m partially living the WRONG life.  Just partially.  There are SOME elements that are oh-so-right… Really key ones~ like that I’m Athena Grace… and that I have the *most* awesome baby girl.  Now that I’m endeavoring to articulate it, I realize that I LOOOOVE who I AM… I’m just struggling with the process of ACTUALIZING the raw blueprint of my soul.  And searching for that deep sense of Belonging, of hOMe.  God, I hope there’s a phat pink pearl in the works…

And hence, we come full circle to the opening statement of this gloriously enlightened stream of words~ this is the resistance training that I enthusiastically came to partake in.  How to be this AWESOME, luminous heavenly body IN A MEAT SUIT, and masterfully sculpt Infinite Light into a soul-satisfying, consciousness-liberating, Love-revealing, integrity-infused, breath-giving work of sacred art.  I mean think about it… doesn’t that sound like the BEST vacation for God to take???  Yeah.  Totally.

But in the mean time, here I am… wishing I had the utterly fabulous Partner by my side.  A loving, devoted father for Serena.  I am haunted by visions of being a powerful, spiritual leader and a beloved and widely read writer of grace-stained words that liberate ALL HEARTS.  Feeling stuck in this cloistered spiritual community in the woods, that though wrought with kindness, safety and even friendship… isn’t the path that ignites passion in my heart, or pure resonance in my soul.  I feel guilty typing that… because God… people here have embraced me beyond what I could have hoped for.  Typing that made my eyes sting.  Lemme take a deepie (breath)… and really let this Grace sink in.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself how I’d define Grace… Because it’s my last name, for God’s sake!  And it’s like the air we breathe… invisible, and something we don’t even have to think about… because it’s always nearer to us than our own selves… But… it’s still handy to have a distinguished notion of this essential and beneficent ISness.

Grace…

It’s the Invisible Oceanic Goodness in which we ARE.  We don’t have to earn it… and we couldn’t escape it if we tried.  The tricky part, is that Grace is responsible not only for that which we deem “good” in our lives, but the “bad” stuff too. Under the inescapable, psychedelic umbrella of Grace, EVERYTHING we live is Divinity in action, and is conspiring for the outrageous and triumphant unfurling revelation of the sublime heavenly light within us.

I guess that’s why Hafiz wrote this poem:

Running

Through the streets

Screaming,

Throwing rocks through windows,

Using my own head to ring

Great bells,

Pulling out my hair,

Tearing off my clothes,

Tying everything I own

To a stick,

And setting it on

Fire.

What else can Hafiz do tonight

To celebrate the madness,

The joy,

Of seeing God

Everywhere!

Sigh… Grace is God.  And God is ALL… And yet, knowing all this, I am still perched cozily on my couch in the pale light of dawn, wondering how in the heck to make my life what I want it… digging so deep to crack the code of the mystifying dynamism between effort and surrender.  Is my Destiny inevitable???  Or is it true what Tori Amos told my ex-fiance, the night we met her, shining like a riveting Goddess Mirage?  He asked her, “Do you believe in Destiny?”

Her reply~ “She needs your help.”

I want to help Her…

I want to bench press the World in the name of Love.  In the name of giving EVERYTHING to liberate the flame of passion that burns inside me, such that it ignites the World in holy celebration.

This is the “meaning of Life”.  And it is supposed to be hard!

But it is the most gratifying workout in Existence.

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