And This Heart Keeps Breaking…

Thanks to FaceBook’s new feature, “Memories”, I have recently been revisiting my blogs from twenty eleven.  Five years ago.  I am struck by the audaciousness with which I expose myself.  Every time I read an entry, I fall to my heart’s knees in empathic reverence for the rugged terrain of both Heart and Life (these two dimensions tend to hopelessly bleed together into a vast, sloshy, ecstatic mess) that I not only was willing to traverse, but also to share with such generous abandon.  I feel a sense of awe for what I have survived, where I have arrived… and the whispers that rise up in me and hint of the horizons and summits I will yet Realize.  Over the past few years, I have become a bit more conservative in my sharing.   Because I’m afraid of saying things that will upset others.   Especially Ed, I s’pose.  Self-imposed censorship is one of the most unwieldy demons to contend with as a writer.  Because if a writer is not ripping the “Jesus bandaid” off, and being outrageously naked… well… she’s just another homogenized, factory farmed, word squanderer.

Watch me, as I shove my lovably cowering self back out under the lonesome, prismatic floodlight of center stage… Reluctant, heroic, naked… A beacon in an otherwise blackened domain… cradling my own majestic, pulpy heart in my cupped hands.

Yes, my heart.  Somehow it found its way under the wheels of a big rig this past week.  Thank GOD I invested the model with the lifetime warranty, way back when.

Serena will be three months alive, two days from now.  And so far, since her arrival, most of my writings have been high notes.  Can you blame me?  What could be a higher note than the blessing of finally having an excruciatingly essential prayer answered in technicolor surround sound?  I knew from the the tootsie roll center of my very own address in Infinity that it was my calling to bring a daughter into the world and give my all to assure that she hit the ground DANCING, as she lives out her star-child soul mission… But I did NOT know the holy implications of this sublime calling.  Serena is the joy of my life.  So naturally, I have been exploring these new dimensions of ecstasy on the page.

I thought I was done suffering about her dad, Ed.  The married policeman (hilarious, huh?) who somehow stole into the farthest, deepest and tenderest neighborhoods of my heart.  (As if there are any neighborhoods in Here that are not all that…)  But there’s something about him… That I really… like?  Love?  Need?  Prefer?  Yes, all of that…

We’ve known each other for nearly four years now.  And have been fervently clutching the feeble, rapid-thrashed life-raft of our devoted dream of being together for a solid three.   But Ed’s always been explicitly committed to keeping his family together until his youngest sun graduates from high school.  Ha!  Talk about a scenic tour through the land of breathing cliches!  It’s the new Disneyland river ride!… Not purported to be scary… The colorful boats are structurally sound, and meander along a questionably grimy little manmade stream.  You pass through dim caverns, entering a series of romantic scenes:  a big, solid man and a swooning firecracker of a goddess sharing perfectly delicious moments of electric love-infused adventures… soaking in naked embrace at Harbin Hot Springs, sitting as close as two people can be, at the perfectly dim bar of Pizzaiolo, sipping red wine and sharing succulent smooches, grilling steak on the springtime rooftop of Athena’s beloved Lake Merritt apartment, laying entwined on a blanket on a sunny, wave-slapped beach…. And yet, somehow, all of this candied delight evokes bleeding and screams, as the gentle river carries One merrily along.

God I amuse myself.  I could get perpetually lost in the luxurious, rolling landscapes of memory as simultaneously revealed and concealed by worlds of words… But I came here to expose myself.  I came here to tell you that I thought I was finally free from the sprawling sentence of strenuous heartache that is being in unrelenting love with this married man.  He gave me a daughter because that is what I wanted more than anything.  And maybe he wanted to be the One, because it would mean fusing an undeniable bond for this life and perhaps beyond.  I wanted that with HIM.  Don’t ask me why… Hearts do not speak the language of reason.  And I hesitate to use the “K word” (karma), because it is too easy.  The spiritually persuaded, imaginatively lazy tend to castrate Life’s greatest Mysteries, by rampantly slapping that label on every nuanced curve of Existence, and sleepwalking on with glassy, passive eyes.  It might be accurate… but alas, I wishn’t to suffocate the fluttering, fragile immensity of the Unknown through which we swim.

How on earth am I going to deliver myself back to the original track of this well-intentioned telling???  As I stated back in paragraph four, Serena is on the precipice of three months alive now.  Ed has still not been here to see us.  He was there for her birth… A solid pillar of masculine strength and love.  And in the hospital, he vowed to come visit within the next few weeks.  But it was the holy-days, and there were already others at his job who had put in for time off… Hence, his supervisor would not bless him to take leave.  And there I was, a new mother, hormone cocktail sloshing, tears splashing, as the rug is pulled out from beneath my feet.  Multiple times, the promise of his presence rebuked at the last minute.  All too familiar, it reeks of daddy’s dutiful defacing of my innocent, hope-full heart.

But meanwhile, every day, Serena awakes with a smile that radiates unsayable purity.  And her brightness calls me home to the holy mOMent at hand.  And all day long, she needs me, and she feeds me with her vulnerable presence and unobstructed soul music… Like I said, I thought I was free from needing Ed.  But a few weeks ago, he put in for time off (again), and his supervisor gave him a radiant, green light.  It shone all the way from Berkeley to Nevada City, lighting up my Temple of Hope with turquoise glowing shadow play of days shared as a momentarily cohesive, loving family.  But shadows, when grasped, just slip like whispers through closed, empty fists.

His boss rebuked his word.  Twice more.  Meanwhile it was Ed’s birthday.  And he was far away in almost every sense of the word.  Then came his thirty three year anniversary with his wife… God, looking backward on the last couple of weeks, I can’t pinpoint the address of the monster who hijacked and vandalized my heart… But I can testify of disturbingly familiar feelings of disappointment, betrayal and aloneness.  Meanwhile, Serena continued to blind me with her lucid, angelic BEing.  And for this glaring paradox, my heart washed with inadvertent sprays of guilt.  I shouldn’t ache like this, while holding her to my nectar-gushing breast.

Gosh, the trouble with my passion for colorful, poetic expression, is that it is nearly impossible to venture from point A to point B.  Is that a problem?  The world is already “Pointy” enough as it is… but… sometimes I want to record my life for posterity’s sake… and I get so dazzled by the scenery along the Way… Feels like navigating a sprawling sea of scintillating sirens.

What must I fuse onto this page for eternal safe keeping?  I want to tell you that the way my heart breaks in love with Ed feels like dying a thousand times over.  Each time is new.  Each time is familiar.  Each time I am more masterful at the Art of Death.  I have come to wonder of the hidden Gifts of these flash-crucifixions… Is the pain essential?  Or is it a result of my stubborn grasp on that which could never be mine?  But I will not let go of him.  Nor he of me… although in many broken mOMents, he has offered to “set me free”.  But I suppose the Freedom I truly seek, can only be realized from behind these bars I have erected in my own heart.  Do you understand?  It reminds me of a book that my old friend and “tantric lover”, Jay had on his nightstand, once upon a time… “The Only Way Out Is IN”.

I will not find the freedom I seek through manipulating circumstances.  Only through breaking until there is nothing left to break… Until all that is left is the pure and unconditional love rushing endlessly from my own whole and Holy heart.  Flowing unobstructed from Everywhere to Nowhere and Beyond.  I will break as many times as this takes.  And I will do it holding Ed’s invisible hand… Because my heart demands this.  And I will sing the preposterous stories of my life upon the page… because they dazzle, enchant and endlessly perplex me.  And I these stories will deliver me…

…to the hOMe I have never really strayed from in the first place.

What a silly game for God to play as US…

But pretty cool, too…IMG_5304

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Motherhood: The Dawn of Soulful Joy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Party Starts Here…

Well… I FINALLY made it!!!  You know… to the land of milk and honey!!!  That sweet, creamy epicenter of creation, where there is no resistance… to life…  Grin.  Will I be able to stay in this inner paradise?  Or will my unabashed telling it on a mountain knock me back on my sparse little fairy ass?  Shrug.  My hypothesis is that life will keep grinding me into exquisite diamond dust… and sometimes I’ll enjoy it more than others…  but for the most part, I have retired from beating myself up, and measuring myself against that despicable pile of beyond the sky spiritual standards.

This is mostly thanks to Matt Kahn.  (check him out on youtube or truedivinenature.com.  seriously.) People, I’m telling you… this dude is the sanest of the sane among us!!! He has reminded me that I can take an EPIC shortcut to everything that I have ever wanted, just by loving my own heart.  Yes.  Like physically putting my sentient, slender, E.T. hands over that warm, pulsing center of the universe, and saying aloud, “I LOVE YOU,” as I feel it reverberate like music through the land beneath my sternum.  As many times as I can stand it… and then a baker’s dozen more… at least.   Because like… the time has come to stop being a beggar, pleading for others to give me that which I refuse to give myself.  Insanity at its finest!…

In response to EVERYTHING that arises… I LOVE YOU.  I love you… I love you.  Try it!  I DARE YOU.

So I’ve found the gleaming, antique key to the Pearly Gates of the Queendom of Heaven.  Now what?  Like Jack Kornfield said, “after ecstasy, the laundry”.  Yep.  I’m still here at the Momshram, aka Ananda Village.  Early last week, I was shopping in “Master’s Market” and the woman who rang me up asked me if I was “looking for a job”.  It hadn’t occurred to me that I was… but when I gave it some thought… I realized that I just might be, after all!!!!  She said they  needed a new produce manager.  Twenty hours a week.  Someone to love on the veggies and fruities.  I felt kinda excited.  It was one of those cases of MC Omniscience on the mic, singing out divine order loud and clear.  So I leaned into the invitation and the next thing I knew, I was unloading a truck of organic veggies and blinking with astonishment at the light speed progression of my unfolding!

Actually, I panicked.  Like what in the heck had I just committed to???  What were the implications of saying YES to this opportunity?  Suddenly I was married to a life inside of this conservative, rigorous spiritual utopia in the middle of the woods, to which I do not officially belong… nor aspire to belong, to be honest.

Yeah, lemme interject a word about that- This place is medicine.  Many people come here to heal.  Whatever it is they have to heal…  Myself included.  Over the past year and some months, I have become unrecognizable to myself.  I have given up alcohol and pot and the excessive stimulation of urban existence.  I have been emerging as a teacher and a leader; one who courageously lives what she knows in her heart, without holding back.  But not in an ostentatious way… just inhabiting a quiet faith in the all-pervading power of love.  Gosh, I suppose that’s nothing new for me… But just updating my systems, and purging some seriously heavy, useless junk.

That said, I’m certainly as flawed as the rest of you suckas!!!  I still act like a jerk sometimes.  Especially to the people who matter most to me.  And I still shook in my hip and versatile, water-resistant boots after I committed to being the Produce Goddess at Master’s Market.  I told the manager (multiple times) that I wasn’t sure that the job was for me… that he should keep looking for someone “permanent” (whatever THAT is!), but I would GIVE MY BEST while I was there.  He looked into and straight through me and with an omniscient smirk, said, “That’s perfect.  That’s all I ask.”

And then I was free.  Not locked into living out a begraggled eternity at Ananda Village, doing a part-time, minimum-wage job… but just free… to fully inhabit THE MOMENT.  Giving my heart and my sweat to the task at hand, and the people who grace my presence.  It’s been like a week and a half.  And I am surprised by how much I love it.  It feels like family there.  A family of bright lights, under-cover agents of LOVE.  It’s kind and peaceful and SHRI.  My life feels balanced and blessed.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the most significant piece!!!  Ahem.  So I am practicing trusting my HEART to guide my life, right?  I am.  And it tells me what to do.  Sometimes.  And then sometimes there are spans of great quiet.  Where I guess I am just meant to BE in life for a while… But She told me to take this job.  And AHHHHHHHH my ego went BERZERK!!!!  It was like freaking out because it didn’t understand what I had just done!!!  It didn’t seem to jive with all the plans that it had made… For me to have a baby… and lead the LOVE REVOLUTION… and be a leader of women and a wealthy spiritual teacher with my own hOMe… and… on and on. (which is mostly all happening through me anyway, but that’s beside the point.)

All I knew is that I was told to say YES.

PEOPLE… I’m telling you… this kind of engaged, surrendered willingness is a serious exercise in TRUST.  A divinely ordained test I passed by a baby angel’s hair!!!! (there’s no such thing as failure, buy the way!) All I know is that life is NOT what we think… It’s this miraculous trust walk through perpetually blossoming gardens of endless magnificence that we can only recognize when we stop thinking we know how it should go and projecting into the illusory future… just simply relax as the current of divine grace carries us along this riveting river of predestined “surprises”, which are ALL conspiring to unfold us as ever-perfect expressions of LOVE in motion.

Are you ready to REMEMBER?

“The party starts here,” she said with a coy smile, pointing with gentle confidence to her blazing heart.

Athena Graceland is morphing into new dimensions of HALLELUJAH!!!
Yeah, I’m in love with video now.  My intention is to raise YOU up!!!!!

Are you ready to explore new frontiers of ecstasy, delight, gratitude and wonder?

If so, you have come to the right place!!!

Let the SHRI resound through your sweet slice of infinity within!!

 

I’m Still Alive!!! And Then Some….

Hello from Athena Graceland! Ahhh… just writing those words… was like brushing fine silk across my tender cheek! I love it here!!! There truly is no place like home! Well, I have some fantastic news:

I finally mustered the courage to hurl the unicorns overboard!!!

Whaaaat is she talking about? Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might recall that I have written a couple of blogs over the distant months, (or maybe even YEARS) where I’ve whined about feeling stuck, stagnant, frozen. Which somehow inevitably jogged my wild mind to the Doors song, where Jim Morrison recites that poem about “when the still seas conspire in armor… true sailing is dead… and the first animal is jettisoned… legs furiously pumping…” and I learned that he was making reference to a time when sailors would be at sea, and the water would get dangerously still. No waves. And they’d essentially be motionless in the vast, gaping mouth of salty blue purgatory… so they’d throw their horses overboard, in hopes that their collective thrashing would stimulate enough motion to get them sailing again. God this human myth can be so gruesome and cruel.

But it was the perfect metaphor for the experience that I have struggled with from time to time along my path, creative, spiritual and otherwise (Wait… what else IS there besides creative and spiritual? I think any other categories of existence could easily be boiled down to one of those to words… and even those could be simmered down to ONE.) Ahem. And now to drive home the point!… I am in Oregon now. Remember, I was invited to the Ananda community, “Laurelwood”, here in the pacific northwest? I’ve been here for two and a half weeks… And already, entire casual sprays of spiral galaxies have burst and surged and smeared across the inner scapes of my being. Hallelujah! The unicorns have pumped me free!! How fitting that it came to pass at the threshold of the YEAR of the unicorn (“Horse”, for all of you squares out there!)…

The clock just struck five am. And I must exclaim that I am THRILLED to be here, opening up, tipping over, and pouring out like an ecstatic little tea pot! Surprise! I thought maybe I wasn’t a writer anymore. But no… my inner sea was just on holiday in the land of the dead. The neon OPEN sign has just buzzed and burst back on. I have undergone a transfusion of life and inspiration and freshness.

Why have I waited two and a half weeks to drop you a line from the perpetual happily-ever-afters (wink) of Athena Graceland? OMG, because I have been so freakin busy!! They make you WORK here!!! Well… not so much at first, thank Jahova! I’ve had time to ease into the flow here. But now I’m at a full throttle thirty-five hours a week of washing dishes, chopping vegetables, scrubbing ancient toilets, vacuuming endless flights of stairs, leading sadhanas, MAKING ART (My creative ignition deserves its OWN blog. Stay tuned!)… and then some!

When I first got here, I felt like a spoiled princess who was horrified by the idea of breaking a nail, or missing her afternoon nap. Okay, honestly, I am still not that jazzed about forgoing nap time… But I am easing into a refreshing surrender to life here. Sometimes that includes the *luxury* of an afternoon nap, and sometimes NOT. Sometimes it means my “full eight hours”, and sometimes it means five and a half. But always, it means an opportunity to LET GO and let “good”. I am submerged in goodness here.

Miriam invited me into this potent, transformative, divine slice of God’s dream. She was Swami Kriyananda’s nurse… until he split the scene of this earthen crack-house (wink!) last april. And then she came here to be a powerful conduit of Divine Mother’s Love in a place that sorely needed it. One of the great mysteries of life: Miriam and I have a deep, pure and potent bond that far transcends the meager crumbs of time we have imbibed together in this life. We share a grace-full familiarity that is generous, loving and expansive, like sliding into a perfectly hot, rose petal laden bath. Being near her sublime light, burns through any piddly cloud-cover that may cross my inner landscape. It’s actually quite miraculous. If I were to count my blessings, I’d put this Goddess at the top, like a cherry on a hot fudgy sunday! (I know, Ma!… “Sundae is spelled with an E!!!… But don’t you love imagining the holiest day of the week, all inundated with rich, creamy, “tahitian” vanilla ice cream, bleeding slowly about everything, as it’s frozen sanctity is provoked by a sea of scandalously thick, hot, decadent fudge?! Right in the middle of Sunday Service! As you inevitably snooze through Jyotish’s inspired talk! Grin.)

ATHENA! Come back! Don’t be so frivolous with your words, when you have SO many worlds inside to reveal, and your readers can only endure about a thousand words, before their minds glaze over like fresh, hot donuts and they click back to the Facebook stream! Ha! But I’ll NEVER stop being frivolous… it brings me JOY. And at raja yoga class on tuesday night, Daiva reminded us that JOY is really at the heart of it all. EVERYTHING we do (yes that means YOU), is in pursuit of this essential nectar that eternally abides at the very center of our eternal ISness. But if it “eternally abides” within… WHY on earth do we chase after it in every fluttering shadow and seductive, distant mirage?? Indeed, a question worth pondering for at least a moment. But not for TOO long. Just long enough to inspire you to let go of the chase and OPEN to joy NOW. And now and now.

Yesterday was an intense day for me. Lots of powerful movement in my Relationship with “Eddie-word”, which I won’t even get into… Plus, running on five hours of sleep, PLUS a marathon day of serving in the kitchen, plumbing the depths of exhaustion, the slow, shy dawning of pms… blah, blah, blah… And it gave me a stellar opportunity to mine my present experience for concealed shards of joy. Because Daiva asserted that since joy is the essence of God, and we are MADE OF GOD, joy is imbued in *everything* and every moment. Lo and behold, I found it! Legs aching, mind grimacing as I begrudgingly sprayed oily, cheese crusted plates with an industrial kitchen hose… even then, I found a few nectarous drops of joy dribbling from the dark center of my self-imposed suffering!

It reminded me of the bushmen in africa, who must dig deeeeep into the parched earth for a root that contains three drops of water, which they skillfully squeeze into their calmly eager mouths and then proceed to be quenched for the rest of the day. A little joy goes a long way.

Good Lord! We’re already beyond the eleven-hundred word mark! God? What else do you bid me share with these luminous friends?

Well… there is sOMuch more… The people (kind, loving, hard-working, committed, quirky, mostly fun…), the place (a hundred year old, ex-seventh day adventist boarding school, snuggled in the middle of sparse, forested, “somewhere” of northern Oregon, the vivid, incessant dreams I’ve been having every night, the deep feeling of wholeness that is rising inside me like a brilliant, dripping, full super-moon, as I continue to surrender my grip on life as I knew it… The shaky, uncertain evolution of my Relationship with Ed, and my new-found willingness to release into the unknown, as I stand in my power and LOVE HIM unconditionally…

It’s all pure grace, really. My heart told me to come here. I listened. I am growing faster than a time-lapsed movie of a sprout. When I try to wrap my head around it all, I become dizzy! So I just keep scrubbing plates, meditating and singing to God, and loving the ones I’m with. It’s actually quite simple. Too simple. Life is not what I was conditioned to believe it to be… that’s for sure. And that’s a good thing. But still a little hard to accept in some moments.

“The Master says, ‘Open your heart to me, and I will enter and take charge of your life’…”

Well I did. And He did. And I’m glad.

Om. Peace. Amen.

Surrendered and Awestruck

All I want to write about is Ed.  Because honestly, I have NEVER met a man who knows how to love, worship, empower, care for, respect, experience and open a woman like he does.  (Except maybe my friend Anitra’s man, Matthew… but I’ve never met him in person.)  I wish Eddie would TEACH men how to love women.  This world would sure be a different place if men knew how to love women.  And yes, it’s a two way street.  Women need to be able to fully receive this profound gift.

I sat and blanked out for a few minutes after I wrote that first paragraph… wondering where in the heck this blog wants to go.  I mean I could plunge head first into the topic of intimate relationships… but that doesn’t inspire me.  And I am here to follow the energy like a golden thread that weaves all the way through the curvaceous fever dreams that coyly conceal the omnipresence of Heaven.

I want to say that this is such a RICH time in the unfolding of my soul.  Om my GOD.  If you have been vacationing in Athena Graceland for a while, you have witnessed me riding some pretty killer waves recently!  Sheesh, I am become painfully intimate with my edges… that ugly “fuck it” place, where I am ready to quit.  Where I lament that I am too spiritually aware to even consider suicide, so instead I just spit and snort about what a stupid choice it was to incarnate as a human being on planet earth.  And a part of me is like, “God, Athena, you can do better than this!”… And I try to find the way home to the peaceful throne at the center of my bodhisattva heart… but darn it if the path isn’t is utterly obscured!

But even in the worst of times, I am still up at five thirty am, seated at my candle lit altar, calling out to God and begging for the grace to be welcomed Home, into the heart of Silence, which wakefully rests, eternal, at the center of my being.  I’m getting closer!

Today, I can testify, that the challenge, the glorious struggle of life these days is making me SO strong and beautiful.  As I ride each excruciating wave, I truly wonder how in the fuck I am going to pull this one off… But I DO!  And then the ocean becomes calm for a wash of welcome breaths, and I look around… and I am pleasantly stunned by my victorious becoming, and by the endless wonders that surround and embrace me!

I know I have used this image before in my blogs… but that’s because it is perfect… Member in the Wizard of Oz, when the wicked witch flew through the open, blue sky on her broom, trailing smoke with which she spelled out “SURRENDER DOROTHY”?  Yep.  Run out of your house now and cast your eyes to the heavens…. Surrender Athena!!!!!  Or if it’s of value in your own life at this moment, please substitute YOUR name for mine!

In my heart of hearts, I pray to love GOD more than any fleeting form, or illusory goal.  And as I am thrashed about by this RAGING SEA, it is impossible to cling to much of ANYTHING.  All I can do is BREATHE deep, and make friends with what IS.  In some moments, this SUCKS.  But I LOOOVE who I am becoming.  One who is unshakably grounded in spirit.  One whose faith is bullet proof and firmly rooted in the soil of miracles.

I’m not afraid to let go.  I am willing.

Listen to this!  I went to church on sunday.  And as soon as I entered the sanctuary, I broke down in a deluge of tears.  I let myself spill.  And this is unlike me… but they didn’t stop.  They just kept pouring right out.  And I felt right and welcome and whole, as I soaked up the spiritual nutrients that bled from every pore of the nowness in which I marinated.  THEN, get this, Reverend E shared that she was sick, and had visited two doctors who could find nothing wrong with her… so she went to a kinesiologist who told her that she was GRIEVING.  And because she never cried, her LUNGS were crying.  She said it’s true, she never cried, because as a child, her parents forbid it… so she learned to hold it all together no matter WHAT.  Meanwhile, there’s Athena Grace, sitting in the second row, sobbing her guts out.  Life is such an intricate mystery.  An image of a prismatic snowflake with infinite facets and dimensions just flashed in my mind’s eye.  It dances in the devotional embrace of the void, refracting ever-new faces of wonder.  This is the ground of our being.

I love Reverend E.  She’s in her eighties.  And her divine beauty stuns me.  I love how she delivers her sermons with her eyes closed!… so fully given to spirit… and the words pour from her sacred mouth and wash over our hungry minds like a river of sweet honey truth.

But I guess the moral of that story, is that sometimes one must let the tears flow and cleanse our hearts like summer rain.  Because afterward, I was indeed made pure.  I left church, still aching.  I ached all day.  Then, came evening, and in desperation, I called out to my Goddess Sister, Deirdre.  That was the turning point for me.  FRIENDSHIP!!!!!  Wait.  That deserves its OWN paragraph…

FRIENDSHIP!!!!!!!!!

Holy God.  There is NOTHING like friendship.  Friendship is food.  Friendship is blood.  Friendship is water.  Friendship is God.

I am amazed at the skill with which Deirdre was able to simultaneously cradle and kiss on the desperate, broken child in me, and then, while the child was pacified on the tit of holy mother love, Deirdre wielded a phat sword and chopped the head off the self-indulgent victim flailing about inside me!!!  How did she pull that off? A blessed combination of skill and grace!!!!  Deirdre’s loving presence has raised the bar for me on how to show up as a friend.

Bottom line?  I have faith in this transformative cauldron of LOVE, we call Life.  I am seeing that the more I LET GO, and LET GOD, and use every single moment to extend LOVE, the happier and more at peace I am.

Join me here.  Love always wins.  I promise.

Live,

A

Today Grace Feels Like This

Wow.  Amazing Grace is certainly the Word, here in Athena Graceland this am.  I swear, I was dangling over the edge of a steep, plunging, psycho-emotional crevasse…

 

And then I went on Facebook real quick, just for one last fling with frivolous distraction before I hunkered down on the page here in Graceland… and the BEST thing happened!  There was some silly post where you can discover your cell phone’s name, by entering some weird code involving the last three digits of your phone number… And I found out that mine is Mark Lurie.  And better yet, Ed’s is Ben Soskin!!!!  It doesn’t take much to crack me and let the light in.  Praise God.

 

But I still feel plenty of anxiety in my body.  Wait… do I really?  When I tune in to my body as it truly is, in present time, it’s actually a pretty subtle experience.  What AM I feeling?  Slightly nauseous… a radiant, dull ache in my womb… a spacious, open, yet somehow uneasy feeling in the front of my heart, which extends out beyond the immediacy of my physical body.  My hips and legs want to stretch and open.

 

The sky is dull and grey.  I am sitting the cafe down the street from my house.  I never come here, because the ceilings are low and cheap like the kind I remember from my torturous years in the public school system… except they are painted brown.  Hardly anybody is in here and it smells like cheap, expired junk food.  There’s a chubby hispanic man outside scraping plasticy film off the window with a squeegee.  I’m sitting on a dingy loveseat, with my feet up on a little coffee table.

 

Just writing about the distasteful environment somehow transforms it from repulsive to amusing.  And then I remember to take deep breaths… and everything sorta feels okay… and even good.  In my ideal world, I would NOT let stuff get to me.  Because when I’m hosting fear, I am not available to love the world, and this feels shitty and inauthentic.  Because I feel that I am here to be a source of warmth and genuine kindness.  But sometimes I forget to trust God and my face gets rigid and serious and my heart, tense.  Anthony Robbins says to always smile before you answer the phone, and joy will be conveyed in your voice.  So I just smiled, to see what would happen.  And my eyes stung with tears.  How many times must Grace carry me, before I realize once and for all, that I am NEVER NOT HELD???

 

That [heavily pertinent] question reminds me of the sweetest moment that I lived last tuesday.  Ed and I were shopping at Trader Joe’s.  I was riding in the shopping cart… and he wanted to go grab me some peonies for me… but he was concerned… “How will you move, when the line progresses?”

 

“BY THE GRACE OF GOD!” I said without hesitation.  So off he went.  And soon the line took a huge leap forward.  The beautiful, athletic, latina woman in front of me turned around, maternally took hold of the front of my cart and slid me forward.  Just like that.  I melted.  I love participating in a world where we all take care of each other.   Without reason.  Just because we remember we are all connected and truly in this together.  I probably don’t need to bother recounting the moral of that story.

 

I’m afraid to die.  My mom’s not.  At least she says she’s not… Because she has complete faith in the life of her Divine Soul.  Maybe it’s that I’m afraid to LIVE, not die… I dunno.  But I am present to a fundamental feeling of fear right now.  And I just want to have a good cry about it.  (I’m about to start bleeding btw… so everything feels amplified and just barely tolerable.)

 

It’s been exactly a week since I last turned myself inside out on the page for you.  I deemed my life to be a porcelain puzzle cast from the top of the statue of liberty.  And now, a week later, I am back in love with Ed, praise the lord, because I prefer being in love with him, to being in fear with him… and yet, I am still a porcelain puzzle, free falling from the spiked crown of that great lady, who rises from the sea…

 

DO YOU FEEL IT?  All this rapid transformation that is sweeping through our endearingly human, earthly midst?  Shit.  Awe… My eyes just wandered upon an elderly man crossing the street with a cane.  He looks wobbly and erratic on his feet.  Yet he keeps stepping forward.  Slow.  Willing.  Humble.  It’s almost too much for my heart to bear right now.  And then came the mystic sprinkle sound of a text coming through on my phone, “Mark Lurie” (Tee hee).  It was from Ed.  He sent me a picture of him when he was a little boy, sitting on a very old and very white Santa Clause’s lap!!!  Same intense and loving brown eyes… but he’s tiny and his face is round and his blue jeans are tucked into black cowboy boots.  I laughed out loud.

 

Life.  What does it all add up to?  Certainly not what we THINK it does.  No matter WHAT equation you choose let gnaw on your soul, the answer is infallibly LOVE.

 

One of my favorite sections in A Course in Miracles talks about the attributes of a teacher of God.  The first one is Trust.  Trust, meaning a complete surrender to God/Love, and a relinquishing of all other goals and agendas rooted in, and inservice to illusion.  I read this section whenever my life feels particularly undone, and I need to remember due north on my heart’s compass.  Like now, for example.  Wait, is the record of my life stuck on the grossly unsettling groove of my saturn return????  Here I am, with the fundamental structures of my life crumbling once again: home, work, relationship…. Really???  Did I fail the tests the first time around???

 

Hey, Athena… No fair slipping into VICTIM!!!!  Citizens arrest!!!!  Remember beloved Goddess, **Nothing real can be threatened.  Nothing UNreal exists.** It’s okay.  Just breathe.  Feel.  Let go.  Yes.  Be willing to relinquish everything, trusting that what is real and pure can never be lost or destroyed.  Really?  Yes.  Okay.  I’m just gonna shed a few tears and keep trusting.

 

LIVE,

A

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