To Tell You the Truth…

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Do you wanna know something honest?  I think I let my frustration speak too often with Serena.  Moments of tension and restricted breath, gratuitously spoken with smoke and sparks.  The F-word flies free as a flag at a baseball stadium perched at the edge of the world.  And every time I hear myself express from this agitated state, there is a voice in my head that says, “Athena, you’re gonna be mighty ashamed when SHE starts speaking like this in public domains.”  Yeah.  I’m not proud.  But you know what I AM proud of?  Writing something that makes me squirm.  Risk=Energy=Compelling.  Because let’s be honest– we are ALL a bit crusty and tattered around the edges (but mostly mooshy in the middle).  And it’s thrilling and terrifying to get naked… in a world brimming with people too oft invested in “presenting ourselves”.

But I didn’t bring this up so that I could spin out in philosophical generalities…  I was simply inspired to tell the unflattering truth.  Another dimension of this confession, is that a dominant part of me doesn’t even aspire to be wholesome and clean.  This aspiration seems more like social conditioning than a true read on my internal compass.  Not that I want to be frivolously filthy, either.  I want to be relaxed in my range of expression (while continuing to cultivate patience and a genuinely pure heart).   I don’t want Serena to hear a swear word and fall to her tiny, perfect knees, imagining that the apocalypse is upon us.  Aversion has it’s own malignant sphere of influence.  Still, I could be better.  But it’s a lot to have ZERO breaks from the incessant rigors of parenting.  Listen to me– NOBODY takes my baby off my hands for a goddamn hour (let alone a minute) so that I can go for a sweaty, cardio “prance” (my lax version of jogging), or sink in to a satisfying yoga practice, free from being climbed on, whined at, beseeched for boobie…  It SEEMS like most mothers get SOME relief, SOMEtimes…. Even once a week seems monumental from over here in Athena Graceland.

Sigh.  But I love being with her.  Sometimes my fuse just gets remarkably short and I become a reckless sailor.  Now I’m going to tell you something fabulous about me.  I wonder if it’s actually more risky to speak highly of oneself, than to shine the floodlight on one’s faults.  Self-love might actually be the greatest taboo of all, in a society built on insecurity and perpetual consumption.

For as short as my said fuse can be, I bounce back in a lightening flash.  I am quick to apologize, and quicker to say “I love you.”  My girl will have not a shed of doubt as to how loved, right and good she is.  And if she is anything like her mother, Serena will have no qualms about admitting her mistakes and shortcomings, and compassionately making another choice.  Boo hoo.  She’s awake.  Talk to you tomorrow.

I guess it was kinda good that she woke up… cuz I had the whole day yesterday to observe myself and notice the ratio of impatience to bottomless generosity and nourishing presence.   Though not all days are created equal.  The moment I’m most ashamed of yesterday was when she was having her pre-night-night-time sink bath.  I think she was over tired, since she missed he afternoozie (nap, not tea!).  She kept throwing her “toys” (red plastic tablespoon, cup, rubber ducky) onto the floor, causing gratuitous wetness, and I asked her repeatedly to stop, explaining that I didn’t want water all over the floor.  So THEN, she proceeds to intentionally fling her arm and splash water on the floor!  BRAT!  I ask her to stop.  Nope.  Instead, she does it again.  Making solid, rebellious eye contact all the while.  Wow.  My thermostat soars and bursts.  This is not acceptable.  I grab her squishy little arm and squeeze it.  Hard.  Holding her fierce, brown-eyed gaze, I tell her to STOP.  She pauses.  Before splashing MORE water on the floor.  This repeats a few times before I realize she is just tired and is really telling me she’s done.  Time for some naked pillow diving, honey scented oil on her too-perfect skin, diaper, snowman jammies, and boobie-to-sleep.

It felt horrible to squeeze her little arm.

But mostly I’d nominate myself for Mother of the Millennia.  I give her tons of room to explore the world.  I continuously aspire to see through her eyes of perpetually fresh wonder.  I speak to her as a highly capable and intelligent being.  I listen to her deeply.  I tell her how exquisitely beautiful she is.   Oh, and this one feels especially crucial– I don’t make her behave a certain way in social situations.  I hate it when parents force their kids to respond with the right script… just so they “look good” and avoid awkward moments and uncomfortable feelings.  Yuck.  I pick her up and dance around like a God-drunk earth angel.  I take her outside and let her sit on the earth as much as possible.  (That’s her favorite!)  I encourage her to explore.  I read to her a ton.  I feed her high quality, nutritious food.  And on and on blah, blah, blah.

It really DOES go on and on.  I’m great.  And I’m human.  And sometimes my fuse gets teensy.  Just like my mom’s did.  Back then I thought she was so mean!  Her jaw would clench and she’d say, “God dammit Dawn!” as I cowered.  But here’s what I didn’t know back then– she was way more than just my mother.  She had a whole world of emotions and hopes and dreams and needs and a mountainous heap of responsibilities… in addition to the simple though incessant invitation to be present and loving with her precious little Dawnie-cakes.

People say that you come to understand and forgive your own mother at ever-deepening levels as you walk the path of motherhood yourself.  Yep.  It’s true.  It’s like doubling back and delving into the veins of your very own being and  Life again from an even richer vantage point.  Surfing and mining your own blood and stories from a wiser, more compassionate, loving and clear vantage point.  It is ancestral healing backward and forward.  Building a bridge of Love to a better world for ALL.  I know this is why I am here.

I could be better.  And I WILL be.  As I continue to love my own innocent heart through all that Life is and isn’t.  As I learn and grow and relax into this miraculous, blessed path that unfolds through, as and beyond me.  And I might say a few too many fucks along the way.

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.

Humility Dawns in Athena Graceland

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

This is Grace.

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

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

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

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.

An Interview with ME!

Hi!  I just took myself through a powerful process… I soul searched some deep questions that I wanted to explore and clarify within myself.  And then I threw down in an interview!!!  Initially, I just intended it to be for me… not to share.  But when I watched it, I was moved by the power and sweetness of my authenticity and soulful sharing.  I felt moved to share it… just incase you find value in witnessing my soulful expression.  Perhaps it touches something deep within you… I offer it from my heart.

Grrrrrr…. Youtube sucks.  This is the second time I’ve copied and pasted my vid link, and it’s put up the WRONG video!!!!  And I keep trying to do it over and over again… with the same results.  (You can’t solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it!!!!  Thanks Einstein.)  Well… it’s on my Youtube channel.  It’s called “An interview with myself”.  I hope you watch it.

Let There Be LIGHT!!!!

Hello!!! I am delighted to be sending tendrils of my sacred existence into your holy consciousness!!! It’s been too long. Way too long. And praise the Lord, I have been working my ass off. Yes, literally too… but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to tell you about all of the inner work I have been doing… Yeah, I mean like straight up rearranging furniture inside, and tossing entire closetfuls overboard, because it’s way too heavy and I want to live a life of streaming, opulent blessedness. And if you want to live a life of streaming, opulent blessedness, you can’t be lugging around cumbersome and unwieldy limiting beliefs, unexamined fears and past hurts.

Some of the deep questions I’ve been arduously wrastling for so long are now transmuted into rarefied illumination. Questions regarding what my life is for, and who I AM, and how much I can be, do and have…

Gosh, I felt like I was drearily slogging up the craggy face of an endless mountain… trying to maintain SOME semblance of a positive attitude as I climbed… But I really wondered if I’d ever make it to the dewy, flower-dripping land of worthiness and honest to goodness God-drunk grace… I honestly doubted it. But not entirely, I s’pose… because I kept going. And I still keep going. I will always keep going! But I feel a deep shift.

In July of twenty thirteen, I gave up my stale-assed job and a rad apartment in The Land of Oaks, put my meager belongings in storage, and pilgrimaged to Ananada Village (aka “The Momshram”) to do my fourth yoga teacher training. Thus commenced a year long purification intensive. Yep, a year of groundlessness. My roots, not being able to sink down into the earth, have been forced to grow in and up, into the celestial soils of heaven within.

Don’t ask me how many times in this past year, people have asked me, “where do you live?”, and I’ve inwardly flailed and cringed…. because I WANT to live somewhere… besides the elusive territory of celestial soils… besides “in my heart”, or “in the moment”, as spiritually hip as those addresses seem in theory. I have pined for a hOMe. A place where I can concoct healing bone broths, grow a garden and have sex as loud and as often as I please.

I have suffered about the seeming gap between where I have been, and where I am. And the uncertainty and lack of faith as to how to bridge the said ravine.

But from where I sit today, (which happens to be an exquisitely lush and well-attended garden) I am no longer concerned by the illusion of distance. I realize that I have been polishing the temple of my Self with a capital S. I have been obliterating darkness, revealing the glorious, infinite light of my Innermost Ness. LIGHT!!!! Yes!!!! Once upon a time, I was repulsed by the potential of being labeled “new agey”. Because the people who I perceived to be new agey were etheric, glazed FLAKES!! Straight up. They seemed to hover a few feet off the ground, shrouded in a cloud of nebulous ambiguity. Ugh. Yeah, I guess it was too close to hOMe. It has taken EVERYTHING I’ve had… to BE HERE. On the ground. On the ground, where intense feelings happen…pretty often… and gravity makes me bleed and sweat and cry on occasion. On the ground, where I’ve felt alone and confused and afraid at times…

But all those earthly forces have called forth the strength of my spirit. And an inner force of gravity called faith. Called determination. Called digging down into the taproot of Truth. Hey, look! A butterfly!!!! And the late-morning sunlight filtering through green maple leaves has become the stained glass of an unsayably magnificent, wall-less temple. As I perch in this extraordinary moment, this miraculous, rolling slice of my life, I am happy to sing out from the mountaintop:

I AM A HELLA NEW AGE CHICK!!!!!!

And proud of it!!! I worship, celebrate, invite, magnify the Infinite Light within me, and ALL LIFE. I looooove crystals! I talk to the angels, and my spirit guides. I deeply honor and give thanks for the plethora of beneficent, unseen forces who guide us through this condensed vibration of infinite spirit. I live for love. I pledge allegiance to the oneness, the unity of all creation, and Beyond.

And I’m done pretending otherwise.

I have been giving birth to my Self, over this past year. And trust me, I know that birth is INTENSE to say the least. Painful? Sometimes!!!! Entirely worth it? Absolutely. Oooh!!!! A teensy blue dragonfly!!!! Ahem.

So how did I finally ground into this place of ecstatic strength? Self discipline. By using my mind as a tool to shape and direct my consciousness. I finally beat my head against the wall, trampled upon my sweet tender heart one too many times. I realized I am the boss here, and I want to do it (all of it) with and through the strength of LOVE. I choose to place my faith in the infinite, creative supply of the universe. I choose gratitude. I choose worthiness. I choose a life of passionate, creative, inspired, joyful service!!! I choose to THRIVE. I choose to love life. I choose to BE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. I choose to TRUST MY HEART, and boldly sing out what I know inside to be true. I choose to believe I am WHOLE, now and always, as I continue to gleefully unfurl my divine potential. I choose to believe in miracles. I choose to love ALL as my divine sisters and brothers. I choose to forgive and forgive and forgive some more!!! I choose to be an overflowing cup of beauty and grace.

Dang… I’m feeling so pumped, and I’m not even caffeinated. It sure feels good to feel good. Care to join me?!

Miraculous love to you, my Friends…

Keys to the Queendom of Heaven

Eeeee… Here we go! Off-roading in Athena Graceland. I feel extra pre-game jitters today, because I’m not quite sure where we’re going, and how we’re gonna get there. And if the route will be “scenic enough” for you… But actually, I have been known to consider that EVERY route is a scenic route, if you are looking through wakeful, artistic eyes… The path you’ve traversed ten thousand times is bursting at the “seems” with hidden wonders, aching to be revealed in your receptive, inquisitive gaze. Neighborhoods fashioned from industrial warehouses, cyclone fence-encased, abandoned parking lots with cracked pavement contain the whispering triumph of mother nature reaching up tenaciously from beneath, with her svelte, weedy fingers, and the graffiti on the walls are the cryptic longings of weary wandering souls. Open your eyes!!! Don’t miss this strangely shaded zoo of misinterpreted bliss.

It’s tempting. To race to the illusory, self-inflicted finish lines. Like me, counting the days: three weeks and two days… until I depart this enchanted forest valley… and fly back into Ed’s arms for a few all too fleeting moments… feeling into the shape of my freshly transformed self against the rajasic backdrop of the Bay Area… I’m looking forward to that. The way a warrior might inexplicably, subliminally salivate moments before stepping onto a battlefield laden with dancing, airborne arrows and casually strewn puddles of warm, steaming blood. That was dramatic, but fun to write. What I mean, for those of you who only speak “plain english”, is that I feel so sensitive these days. Like I’ve told you before, my urban calluses have worn down and I am a tender babe. But I’m eager to explore my new shape against a backdrop of jagged contrast, so that I can more deeply recognize who I am becoming. And then after that brave and brief brush with becoming, I shall kiss Ed goodbye once again, and run for the benevolent, woodsy refuge that is “The Momshram”. Another homecoming. Another backdrop against which to ascertain the flowers, fruits and foliage of this current alchemical transformation.

And then and then and then and then and…. So what? I watch myself erect all these future events to “look forward to”… And I believe in their implicit rewards, as a child believes in Santa Clause. “Some day”… It’s like that song… YOU GOTTA WATCH THIS!!!:

Seriously! That says it ALL. I just watched it, and realized NO FLIPPING WONDER that I turned out this way!!!! Hahahaha!!! If you only KNEW how REAL that exiled, tender-hearted princes archetype lives inside me!!!! Children are such preciously malleable little sponges… soaking up criminal thresholds of toxic bullshit in this plastic, corporate empire, otherwise known as the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Someday Ed and I will be together. Someday I will be PREGNANT… and give birth to beautiful, luminous Alexandria. Someday I will publish my book(s). Someday I will be a spiritual leader… And THEN… Wink. Sigh… All I am racing toward, when I am in refusal to realize the grace and glory of this under-cover scenic route of a human life, is DEATH. And rebirth. And death and rebirth and death. And if you don’t believe in reincarnation… then fine, just stop the train at death, and that’s pathetic enough… (But when we brush elbows in the next life, you’ll scratch your head and wonder why there’s something disconcertingly familiar about this wild place called Athena Graceland!)

Hey, It’s a miracle! Because when I dropped anchor and set sail onto the dark, mysterious swells of philosophically charged language and thought this morning, I had just a faint notion that what I wanted to talk about was happiness… In fact and fallacy. But I quickly relinquished it, allowing myself to be swept away by a powerful wave of inspiration, into the journey… and suddenly we are here, and all there is to address is the meaning of life!… and I didn’t even break a sweat or grind a gear in order to land here! Something BIG and hella ALMIGHTY is clearly at play. Something still, and small and secret…

In my raja yoga class, Daiva passionately “throws down” the potent, rudimentary principals of life as we know it. He reminds us week after week that it is always happiness that we seek. No matter how we skin the dinosaur. And embarrassingly, even that assertion was a surprise to me at first. Like, REALLY? All I want is happiness? I have dressed it in SO many ostentatious and clever costumes…. But upon further reflection, I have come to recognize that this is true. Are you with me so far?

Good. Then take my hand, and let’s proceed to the next lilly pad of illumined revelation… We have put the cart before the horse, people!!! We are conditioned to believe that we must figure out WHAT will make us happy… and we all grope around in pitch dark, like selfish little baby monkeys, trying to get our greedy fingers and opposable thumbs around our heavily frosted, perfectly moist slice of unbirthday cake….

I just took a shower break a few minutes ago, and I laughed out loud in the dim stall, under the stream of deliciously warm water, as I continued to mull on this topic, and I thought of how long I have cried and lost sleep over the fact that I can’t seem to figure out WHAT COLOR MY CURSED PARACHUTE IS!!!!! Hahaha!!!! Listen~ it doesn’t MATTER what color it is!!!! That’s just another gimmick lodged in-between me, and the ever-present CHOICE to BE happy. Right now.

I know it can SEEM way more complicated that that. Because we are carrying the heavy burden of THE PAST along with us… which makes it hard to recognize WHAT WE ARE. You see, we don’t need to SEEK joy… because we ARE joy. That’s what it is to be made in God’s image. We are the joy, the love, the peace that we seek.

It is such fertile ground for learning here at Ananada Laurelwood. Because I can truly see that no matter whether I am scrubbing moldy shower stalls, or dressing massive cakes in painfully sweet frosting, or sponging tomato-stained grease off of a heaping mountain of lunch plates… It’s really all the same. It’s only my attitude, and willingness to surrender myself into the voluptuous grace of the moment, that governs how I experience IT. Every once in a while, at the end of a kitchen clean-up shift, I hear myself triumphantly utter something equivalent to, “We’re almost outa here!”… Then my words echo, as if through a massive canyon, flailing like bouncy balls, about the expanse of my awareness… and I ask myself where I imagine that I’m going, that’s going to be any better than where I am… and I realize that I am like TOTALLY deluded. It’s only the tension I’m holding in my body… that resistance to fully inhabiting the space of now, that makes me wish I was elsewhere. So I am practicing softening my belly and my shoulders and my thoughts; breathing all the way into and through each perfect and whole, lucidly gooey slice of Now Pie.

Do you hear what I am saying? I spent so many years suffering, because I couldn’t figure out what to DO with my life. Finally, I am coming to realize that that is NOT the issue. The issue is what barriers am I placing in the way of my moment to moment acceptance of what I AM? Like a shy bud emerging from the world’s longest winter, into the bright kindness of spring, I peek my head out into the rainbow-strewn, crystalline halls of eternal Truth. Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow. Ya know… that in the face of this flawed and fleeting world, it is permissible to allow my heart to sing out in perpetual, prismatic shades of divine joy…. Do you GET IT?? Life is not about FINDING your passion. It is about BEING your passion.

Meditation is very helpful in this process of undoing from the chains of misunderstanding. Think about it. If happiness lies within, where must we GO to find it? Yep. Exactly.

There. Now you have the keys to queendom of heaven. What ever shall you do with them?

Om. Peace. Amen.

Illusions Crumble Like Crusted Mud

I guess I’m a natural born yogi… I’m so content in my gloriously sparse, exceedingly simple, gigantic little room in the ex-seventh day adventist boarding school turned spiritual community. Especially at five twenty-four am. Especially with the window open and the music of wind chime-strewn rain whispering in. I almost wish it would stay five twenty-four am all day… or at least for a few more hours… so I could sit here in the brisk, musical anonymity of pre-dawn, sipping chai tea, and hot water with lime, and writing about my life and my spiritual journey, and my fierce longing to perfect the art of LOVING.

But I know that if I knew I was condemned to a world where the clock was stuck on five twenty-four am for an entire day, I’d feel emprisoned, rather than graced. Sigh. It’s all such a mind fuck. Yes. I said fuck. Being in a spiritual environment, I have really curbed my potty mouth. But like crispy, fatty, salty bacon, every once in a while, ya just gotta get on it.

Anyway, I want to tell you that I am finding something real and deeply meaningful as I glide like a serviceful swan, across the placid lake of my days here at Ananda Laurelwood. “Glide like a serviceful swan”… Really Athena? Ummm… well… at least from an ariel view. Up close it might not occur so smooth. And from the inside, it’s more like a grimy, Harlem alley on garbage day. Well. Last week it was. But this week… Well… I can feel “old stuff” falling off naturally like the dry-caked mud that forms on my shoes after one of our weekly intern hikes, on which it inevitably is raining. No, it doesn’t rain every day… But always on thursdays. Yeah, like sad-eyed pound puppies, Miriam and Lewis take us off campus and let us frolic about in the mud, and drink in fresh air and nature once a week… Yes, I realize that last sentence didn’t have the most ergonomic flow to it. Miriam and Lewis are not the pathetic pound puppies! We, the interns are! They are the benevolent masters. Benevolent indeed… to enable us to romp in the wet, mossy forests of northern Oregon.

But before I got diverted by the need to offer you a few crumbs of the delicious, isness of my current rhythms, I was saying that the mud on my figurative shoes fell off. Even since two days ago when I last took you on a guided tour of Athena Graceland. I remember, I was whimpering about how my Relationship with Ed was bludgeoning my heart to death…. and about how people on the spiritual path rubbed my raw nerves. But, like alchemical magic, as soon as I wrote it all down, it dissolved. There is a process occurring here, that is intelligent and intricate beyond my comprehension. It is informed by the longing of my soul to live truth, and be free.

I mean, on the surface, it SEEMS like I am just here washing dishes, vacuuming and leading sadhanas; eating ingeniously crafted, love drenched vegetarian meals (I even have the love handles to prove it!) and dabbling in insomnia in the wee hours of the morning. Not so! Just beneath the surface, there is a heat that is turning me from lead into gold. I found the willingness to let go of Ed. And Alexandria (our unborn baby girl). And in that willingness, came a wash of unprecedented freedom. It wasn’t like I was pushing him away… It was more like I released that consuming, neurotic grasp on an unrealized and out of reach, imaginary future. But after the psychedelic flames and deep purple smoke of surrender cleared, surprise, surprise, he is still standing by my side. And our invincible love is more obvious than ever. Some things you just can’t fight. But after the mud crumbled off, I feel more deeply committed to and focused on my Relationship with God, and my slowly unfurling path of sacred service.

And now for the real miracle!… Yes, I mean besides the mere fact (or lucid fiction) of existence… The miracle is that after writing out my babyish complaints about the relational ineptitude of some “spiritually inclined people”, something released… I actually felt sad to have committed my clenched-hearted-judgements to the page. Sad for looking through critical eyes. Unforgiving eyes. All people are children of God. CHILDREN. We really are young and stupid as we play out these amnesiac, idiosyncratic rolls of intricate, ridiculous and educational earth drama. But so what? Does that make us any less lovable? NO! It makes us all the more endearing.

The birds outside are singing that urgent, impassioned, pre-dawn song. Hark! The light doth cometh…

But yeah. I’m learning something new about love… like I might not choose these people to hang out with, of my own volition. But that choosing stems from a personality level. And the personality is a shallow cut of who I am. I am INFINITE. And as I spread like sweet butter on a piping hot corn cob, into ever more conscious realization of my true nature, I realize that loving my fellow humans can really have very little, if anything to do with the level of personality. There is just something implicitly lovable about human beings. Our blindness and our longing, our unique creative genius and our crafty strategies to gain acceptance and a long abandoned sense worth and wholeness. It’s precious. And endlessly entertaining.

Studying A Course in Miracles, I am of the school that EVERYTHING is forgivable. Every thing. And that forgiveness is kinda like the friendly bacteria that lives in your gut. It breaks down ALL the material of life in duality, and makes it assimilable… so that our deepest being can take in all in as the love that it always was and always will be, beyond appearances.

Boo-YA! What more can I say after that?! That is EVERTHING; the only thing. I am so blessed to be on this silly and masterfully crafted path of awakening to the Reality of Love that cuts, like a subterranean river through the heart of all that is and beyond.

Om. Peace. Amen.

Shhhh…. Just Love.

I don’t want to talk about my Relationship again this morning… because it is currently a source of befuddlement and pain (in addition to the foundational qualities of deep connection and profound love)… I’m in this awkward place with it, where I move toward him, and it starts to hurt again, so I wonder if it’s *really* time to let go…. and move toward letting go, and guess what? It hurts too. So I move closer… and it hurts. I move away, and it hurts. And yes, this is a caricature sketch of my experience, rather than a scalpel precise cut. (And Ed, please don’t *react* to my testimony by needing to DO anything about it. The river is carrying us to the Land of Milk and Honey, no matter how we behave along the way. I’m just reporting on the scenery as we ecstatically thrash along the rapids…)

But I was serious (insert serious face here), when I said that I wasn’t gonna talk about it. (Except for a paragraph’s worth.) Instead, I shall talk about OTHER PEOPLE’S RELATIONSHIPS! At least for a semi-cheap paragraph… Hmm, this could end up being one of my more random blogs… kinda like the way my Ma cooks, when she’s freestylin… a few black beans, a half a potato, a tomato, a moderately sautéed onion, a few macaroni elbows, some herbs de provence, some cumin… Ummm… yeah, but you’ve gotta taste for the love beneath the anarchy! Gosh. I’m sure stepping on some toes in this blog. That’s the achilles heel of being a raw and interesting writer. If you are really committed to speaking your mind, you gotta deal with the inevitable, occasional wrong-way-rubbing. It’s not a job ya do for the “glamor”… strictly a compulsion of the soul.

So what’s here to express this morning, are some half-baked feelings about life in a spiritual community. It’s confusing for me, because I’ve got a wondering eye on “the future”… like is this microcosm of focused devotees, joined and working toward common goals something that I can see myself subscribing to for the long haul? In some moments it seems so obvious, like DUH, of course, Athena!… Where ELSE would you be, but with the meditating, serviceful GOD LOVERS??? But then in other moments, it all seems like such a sham! And people rub all up on my tender nerves…

I can’t help comparing the people here, to my Bay Area peeps. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area since I was less than two years old, I didn’t fully realize what a special place it is. Well, I sorta did… cuz I traveled enough to put my finger on the pulse of many other pockets of collective consciousness… But still, it’s easy to take the things that come easy for granted. I never had the experience of being the midwestern black sheep, who fled to the Bay Area like a tattered, starving refugee at age twenty-something, to find my kin. What I’m driving at, is that people in the Bay Are are so magnificently self aware and committed to the “work”, for the most part. They know how to relationally “get down” and share themselves and receive at a deep level. At least the people I surrounded myself with. People who did tons of personal growth, transformational work, and spelunking in wondrous caves consciousness. I find it not only refreshing, but deeply nourishing to connect with others at this level.

But surprisingly, here, there is much more of a spectrum of depth that people are available for. It seems like the spiritual path does not necessarily equate to depth of relating. I think many people substitute the spiritual path for “the work”… You know, the more rudimentary levels of growth, development and healing… the “stuff” fondly known as “our shit”… Areas of exploration that one might associate with the…dun, dun, dun….EGO!!!! Our friend the ego gets such a bad rap amongst “spiritual circles”. Like it’s some unsightly beast that requires continuous and covert beating into submissive mush. Sure, ultimately this notorious ISness will not be of any use to us as we merge back into the All Pervading Ocean of Love-Light. But in the mean time, it’s our benevolent vehicle through a vast jungle of “otherness”. We’d be utterly lost without this precious, confining sense of individuated identity.

Uh-oh, I feel myself getting sucked into the mires of nebulosity. Let me get Hemingway straight for a moment: I believe in the goodness of a healthy ego. And one of the dangers of walking a “spiritual path” (I put it in quotes, because I believe that the spiritual path takes as many forms as there are stars in the sky, or beings in the universe. If God is ALL, then ALL is God. And the only thing that supersedes that, is an individuals *temporary* commitment to ignorance, which is an unavoidable part of the dance of maya.) One of the dangers of walking a spiritual path, is SLEEP WALKING it. And using the teachings as a tool for avoidance of the inevitable (and endearing) pain of being human.

I guess I’m saying I miss my Bay Area friends. And the general cultural climate there. But then… That urban paradigm sure has its shortcomings… What a hoax, is the whole game of each wo/man for her/himself… living in little segregated boxes and ceaselessly striving, sweating and grasping to figure out the hidden formula for personal success and wealth. It just doesn’t make sense at this time. It’s exhausting. Sanity says that it’s time to come together and join for the common good. To give ourselves away in service of a world of harmony, kindness, balance and peace. I know, I’m being a hyper-critical perfectionist. And actually, God DESIGNED people to be hopelessly flawed and annoying, so that we would have ample opportunities to practice and perfect unconditional love and total forgiveness. Praise the lord! I’m just saying that I feel annoyed by people I perceive to be using the spiritual path to avoid sitting right in the messy center of their “stuff”. (fondly referred to as “the spiritual by-pass”) And I’m questioning whether I want a lifetime subscription to this slice of existence. It is very compelling… it is very repelling…

And another thing that weirds me out, is the way people around here behave in Relationship. Mostly, couples are so aloof and distant from one another, that it took me weeks to realize they were even together! I mean, to me, that’s just weird. Once Ed came to visit me at the Momshram. We had lunch at the Expanding Light with my Ma. After lunch I asked Ed if I could sit on his lap, and my Ma piped in, “No you can’t! There’s ‘decorum’ here.” I had to look up the word later…. but in the moment I knew that she meant that people don’t outwardly show affection around campus. It’s true. I’ve never seen anyone kiss or hug, or butt-grab, or deliciously squish on one another… It gets to be a bit of a buzz-kill after a few minutes. Shrug. I guess it’s not considered “yogic” to be affectionate… since one of our high-minded buddy, Patanjali’s yamas (“don’ts) was NON-SENSUALITY. Sigh. I don’t think he meant thou shalt not LOVE ON YOUR SWEETIE… I think he meant don’t identify AS, or be a little bitch to your senses. But come ON! Physical affection is ESSENTIAL to life. Babies who don’t get their snuggle on, DIE. And even though adults who do without touch don’t DIE, per se, essential parts of our healthy self-hood DO wither, and we DO act out in weird ways as a result of such starvation.

I’m just sayin’…. I’m not sure I could, in good conscience, sign up for a life-time subscription of this shade of nonsense.

But I do love being surrounded by meditators. And teachings of ultimate truth. And people who are committed to serving others, and being clear channels for God’s Love. Yogananda said “environment is stronger than will”. Which is why I have no desire to drink alcohol when I’m at Ananda… but then I go back to the Bay Area, and it’s not like I’m a booze hound… but I do like a glass of wine or a beer as often as it’s available to me! Just one. But… It’s not my highest. I want to be surrounded by those who are clearly aiming for the highest mark, of Self-Realization! The alternative is running around like a beheaded chicken. Which gets so stale, after a bazillion lifetimes… but… the details of the path are certainly imperfect. No matter which path one chooses to scale the towering “Mount Infinity”. This is just my mind scrambling for a strain of perfection that this world was not designed to offer. People, places, paths…. They’re all wrought with flaws, Mrs. Grace… Your job is to LOVE in the face of this unavoidable ISness, and keep your heart’s eyes on the “Big Prize”. Just love. And laugh. And when tears come, let them flow. Just keep letting go and letting God. And stop believing that you’ll ever “figure it out”… (notice that I didn’t say “stop trying”… because I like trying to figure it out… For SPORT…) but TRUE realization is borne of stillness and silence.

Shhhhh…. Just LOVE.

Om. Peace. Amen.

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