The Liberation of Loss

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It’s wild to remember a time not too long ago, when I used to write every day, because I had nothing else going on, and it was a structure that I clung to for sanity and salvation.  That was twenty twelve.  Now it’s twenty seventeen, and I have to breathe fire and wield exotic weapons to claim this modest sliver of sacred space for words to flow from my heart into your mind and Beyond.  There are so many consuming demands constantly leaping at my throat.  And when I finally touch down on the page, I doubt my mind and the content of my life…. the world as it lives inside me feels like primordial soup, so far from coherency and definition.  Maybe it always will… I keep waiting for a day to dawn where my Self is a bold, articulated form, emerging from said ocean of soup.  The Self of my wildest dreams– activated, aligned Priestess.  Fearless leader and lover of a new world.

But meanwhile I cocoon in my little house in the woods, making literal soup.  Not an ocean of soup…. but an impressively substantial, woman-made lake of soup.  Yesterday’s soup turned out mediocre (the flavors wouldn’t blend into a smooth, alchemical romance, and no matter how long I cooked the chickpeas, they refused to become perfectly tender…) and as a result, I went to bed wondering if I was depressed.  Actually, I woke up wondering if I’m depressed too…

But nah… I vote no.  I think it’s just impatience… mingling with the small creative failure of offering sub-par soup.  Nothing a deep breath can’t alleviate.

And now for one more semi-frivolous “aside”, before I dive into the meat and potatoes of my soul and life:  At the urging of a few of my “fans”, I submitted my last blog entry (“The Death of my Ma”) to Elephant Journal.  I was pretty certain there was no way they’d be able to resist this offering of poetically woven depth and raw, naked sharing.  But they did.  Because it was “too autobiographical”.  They said that they are a publication “by the community, for the community” and only accept pieces spoken in the language of “us” and “we”.

To that semantical nonsense, I can only reply “Get fucking real, Elephant Journal”.  Isn’t it obvious that my story, my unrelenting commitment to nakedness is FOR YOU?  Even a halfwitted moron has the intelligence to read my heart-stained words and touch something intimate and essential within their own life and depths.  Sigh… I guess that wasn’t my venue.  Because I will not compromise my voice.

And now for the main course.  Today it is three weeks since my Ma’s exit from this fabulously rigorous earth drama.  I’m not sure if that’s a looooong time…. or short.  I bet you would say it is short.  But consider that we talked EVERY DAY.  So three weeks without her actually feels like wandering an infinite loop of barren existence.  Actually, I was being dramatic.  The past three weeks have been anything but barren.  But God, I miss her… and in that gaping dimension of her physical absence, I am wandering said infinite loop.  But thankfully, I am a multidimensional bitch.  And I’m actually delighted to announce that losing my Ma is nothing like I imagined it wold be.

I feel simultaneous shame and elation to admit that there is a part of me that is relieved that she has moved on.  Because… I am an outrageous creature… And as much as I endeavored to full throttle BE myself… I held back on her account.  Or maybe on MY account…. Because I didn’t want to make too many waves in our relationship.  A few waves, yes.  But I tried to be in control of the quantity and size of the waves.  And honestly, that was a subtly draining endeavor.  As she lay on her deathbed, I exclaimed to her, “Now I can write whatever I want in my blog!”  She smiled and acknowledged this to be true.  There was always a sober and moralistic Jiminy Cricket perched on my shoulder, hissing in my ear that I oughtn’t say this or that… because it would offend my Mama.  Who knows, maybe he’s still there.  But if he dares to pipe in now, he’d better be prepared to have his adorable cricket guts squashed out!!!

Do you want to know the truth of me?  I am a wild and timeless tantric Priestess.  A sexual healer.  My path to and through and with and for God is through the my heavenly body and deeeep into this dense and wondrous world of form.  I always felt the need to hide my sexuality from my mom.  Sexuality was something she never addressed with me.  She never talked to me about the blood that flowed from my womb… the sacred power of desire…. the beauty and holiness of my pussy.  I suppose this is because HER mother never addressed it with HER.  And I suppose this is a result of our line of ancestral wounding.  And the collective suppression of the Divine Feminine.  But it aches me to carry this wound.  I am here to bring the wound of my lineage to the Light for ultimate transmutation and healing.  I am here to reunite sex and God.  For the healing of this planet.

At a personality level, this statement probably would have made my Mama squirm.  But at a soul level, she is ALL FOR IT.  My powerful ownership of my sexuality as whole and HOLY is a healing for her and her mother and all mothers and grandmothers and daughters backward and forward in time.   

I don’t know exactly HOW to execute this essential alchemy.  It is far beyond “me”.  But I do know that the entry point is honesty.  Honesty about who I am and what I know deep down in my soul.  My path of healing is to integrate and embody the divine wisdom that lives in my soul.  My body still carries the wounding of my ancestors… to some degree… though I have already healed a lot.  But there is more.  I still feel a gap between what I know inside, and what I embody.  It is my destiny to live as the unimpeded, ecstatic radiance of LOVE.   And if you think that sounds outrageous…. IT IS!!!

…But WE (eat your heart out, Elephant Journal!!!) are the Second Coming.

And our time has come.

Blessed BE.

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Embracing the Endless Desert

Any guesses as to how many luscious, indulgent words my fingers will be privileged to pump out before my Luminous Shrimp cries out from the bedroom and sucks me into the roaring machine of single motherhood?  My guess is not enough to scratch the itch or feel outrageously coherent.  I have seemingly abandoned my post here in Athena Graceland, because Serena has been on an early-waking-bender.  For weeks now.  And the lone shred of something for “myself” has blinked out like a kamikaze star.  Sigh.  The heat is ON.  And the longer I go without writing, the less I know what to even say.  I mean… what does one say when they are being broken down???

Well in THIS moment, it seems almost obvious… One describes the process of being broken down.  Such that it becomes poetry and salvation and wholeness.  Such that when one looks backward at the wilderness of her Unfolding, she might have a deeper understanding of Divinity and Perfection, Healing and Grace and Destiny.

But God… There is so much.  And it feels like chinese water torture to imagine going play by play, ounce for ounce.  So where does that leave me?  In the epicenter of my heart, I s’pose.

I have not had any communication with Ed (Serena’s dada, and the married man I have fought for for four years now) for days.  Today I am pretty damn sure I have given up the fight.  For real.  I know that I am a classic case of the girl who cried wolf, when it comes to the topic of “breaking through” with Ed… And I don’t expect you to believe me.  But I will testify that we have never gone more than a few hours without communicating at least a little bit.  Except for once a few years ago…. and that time, it was painful and dramatic.  But this time, I feel relieved and more whole… Like finally, my life doesn’t feel like it’s got a flat tire or a sinkhole.  I’m not syphoning my life-force into this fantasy world that detracts from the immediate and glorious world I marinate in.  I never imagined this day would come.  Detaching from Ed seemed beyond impossible.  And actually, I guess it IS, since we have a child together.  I guess it’s not ED I’ve detached from… but from the fantasy of someday playing house with him.

Letting go of that rotten fantasy, I land with a sobering thud in the reality that I am an over-stretched and stressed single mama.  Yes, I have been that the whole time…. But I refused to fully admit it.  Part of me was fiercely clutching this other frustratingly intangible life.  No longer.  Now I am here.  Shmoozing with all of my nearest and dearest– Loneliness, Exhaustion, Longing, Confusion, Regret and my all time favorite– DISAPPOINTMENT.  Yeah me and disappointment can’t seem to get enough of each other.

The surface “me” wishes things were different.  And I mean almost EVERYthing.  But the deeper me is actually relieved, because I can’t even get a grip on my identity, and I know it’s because I am dissolving.  And how can one EVER hope to know their Infinite-God-Self, if they are all twisted up around the shards and husks of something less.  Social conditioning and past experiences and self-imposed limitations.  “On paper” (or on the screen, to be more accurate), it looks pretty glamorous– the Opportunity to know my Self…. But in real time, it has been barren and excruciating.  Lonely and hopeless.  Like Jesus wandering the desert for forty days and forty nights.  Except from Athena Graceland, forty days and forty nights seems like a recreational cake-walk.  Over here, it’s more like a paltry stone’s throw from Forever.  I long for some PG-13 man-love.  Just a strong and beautiful and clear soul to hold me and rub my shoulders and smell my hair and cook me dinner and delight in my (dwindling) radiance.  But then I wonder if inviting that in would actually be like tying my own shoelaces together and making me trip all over myself, when what I really need to do is MOVE FORWARD.  I’m afraid that even the most simple and pure intentioned connection could quickly turn complex and haunted.  Because I’m someone who can’t NOT go deep.  And relationships are complex and twisty and jagged… because they arouse our deepest vulnerabilities.

Well there’s a lot I want.  And then there’s my rigorous moment to moment existence.  And the two don’t seem to have too much overlap, so who cares?

I care.

But even still, all I can do is breathe and do my best to hold my own heart as the Infinite Treasure and “do what it takes to feed the children”.

Thank GOD for my friends.  Even though I am navigating such profoundly uncomfortable terrain these days (as many of us are, I must acknowledge… and I pray that sharing MY journey will offer healing to yours.  That my Ultimate Faith may illuminate your own.  That my honesty and willingness will inspire you to face yourself with kindness, curiosity and humor.), I cherish my morning walks with Teri and her little Phoenix.  The healing, honest and spiritually nutritious exchange of voice memos with QuynhyMama.  The ever-irreverent, easy and no-holds-barred, spiritual gangsta sisterhood with Anitra.  The “Cheers-esque communion with the warm-hearted staff at Mother Truckers– the tiny and amazing grocery store a hop and a skip down the road from Ananda.  The hallowed daily check-ins and gift of Listening bestowed my my dear Mother.  God bless her!  Even as she navigates the brambly forest of Cancer and ChimoTherapy, she is still my rock.

Serena is awake.

But I’m satisfied with this cut of sharing.  And I aspire to a more steady linguistic outpouring of this Wild and Enchanted Journey through God’s very creative and ruthless Imagination.

Bless you, for we are all in this together.  And I’m certain you are rockin it over there!

Happiness Flew In… And then…

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I left the door wide open, and my beloved visitor finally flew away.  I knew it was inevitable.  Even if I bolted the door, this quiet, pervasive happiness would have slipped as liquid gold, through the bars of my pretty little cage at Her leisure and whim.  You can’t capture an electrically fresh, bud-bursting spring day in a jar.  But I was amazed and delighted at how long She chose to stay and warm me from deep within.  I should have recorded the days with little tick marks on the wall adjacent to the end of the couch that has a gaping (mostly figurative) indentation from where the heavyweight tag team of my butt and gravity work it over, day upon day.  (I should really consider changing it up and sitting on the other side of the couch, or at the table or on the floor so that I am less of a buzzed zombie… maybe when spring comes.) (Zoiks!, I’m not even through the first paragraph, and I have uttered the forbidden word “should” TWICE!… Honestly, I like to say “should” even more, since it has gone so far out of fashion.  It’s the rebel in me.  Otherwise, what is the alternative?  You just spend way too much time and energy groping about inside, like some new-age dork, to find shiner, more socially acceptable words to say the same damn thing– like– “It would be potentially life-affirming and transformationally potent to whisk my little ass on a romantic getaway to the other end of the couch.”  I mean, sure it’s fun to talk that way.  But sometimes I just wanna get the raw, plain idea out and move on with life.)

And now back to happiness.  And lack thereof.  Actually, I’m not lacking happiness this morning.  But maaaan– the flavor of those days upon days (I think it must have been about a week straight) was soooo delicious.  It was seemingly unconditional… I imagine, the unimpeded flavor of my soul.  It was bright and ecstatically tremulous… a wide open canvas upon which God painted the colorful masterpiece of my days.  And then I got a sore throat and the rain came back and Serena refused her afternoon nap, instead opting to play with the burner nobs on the stove while repeating “no, no, no” and making solid eye contact with me as I chopped delicata squash and collard greens for our soup.  I’m not unhappy now…. But I don’t feel invincible and larger than Life, like I did for that scrumptious honey-moon-lit week.

A highly alluring byproduct of said happiness, is that I had literally NO expectations of Ed (the perpetually unshakable Married-Baby-Daddy-Love-of-my-Life, for those of you new to Athena Graceland), but instead was an unconditional outpouring of generosity, support, appreciation and romance.  Haha, that must have been a nice little heart-spa vacation for him!  I felt so damn whole in this happiness…. that I really didn’t give a hoot about the terms and conditions of my existence.  I just wanted to give love.  I’m pretty sure this inner climate is the natural state of the soul.  I’m pretty sure that I peered through a sacred window into an impending inevitability.  I’m pretty sure this is what we are all stalking, beneath the glitzy veneer of every ambition and hope and choice.  This glorious wholeness.  A profound, profuse generosity sourced by an unending, overflowing sense of fullness.  An unconditional inner brightness that shines on Everything.

Lucky me.  I saw it.  I tasted it.  It is real.  Or at least it WAS.  And now I am on the brink of sick and I wish I could stay in bed and sad Hemingway all day.  Speaking of bed, I just had a flash of a dream from last night.  It involved me trying to get into the swimming pool (to swim succulent laps), but being obstructed by circumstances.  I’ve had a few of these lately.  Which is not surprising.  Because that’s my life.  The swimming pool is a place where I am free, whole, happy, nourished.  I want to swim sooooo bad.  So good?  But…. I am incessantly tethered to my most beloved fourteen month old daughter.  Which is pure grace.  But fuck.  I want to swim.

And speaking of water… now the rain is smashing down from a saturated, pre-dawn sky and singing me a dramatic serenade.  Suddenly all those notions of happiness and other-than-happiness and moments besides right now seem like a foreign language in which I have lost fluency.  Not to mention the heavenly bite of paleo banana bread slathered in chunky peanut butter and salty, grass fed butter that is currently dissolving in my profusely salivating mouth.  This sudden uprising of undeniable nowness doesn’t leave room for much else.  But I must press ON with this gay parade of mind and meaning.  Because writing is my passion.  I simply must squeeze the juice from the simplicity of ISness, and drizzle it into the stiff shot of complexity that is a human life and mind and heart…. stir… and serve you up a cocktail sure to jolt you into a heightened state of God-drunk presence.

Gosh, Serena has been sleeping for twelve hours now… which means that she is due to wake up any second.  I really wanna get these words out into the naked, sprawling corridors of the internet, where a handful of shimmering others might read, enjoy and benefit from them.

But allow me to splash first in the deep, vast waters of microcosmic awareness first.  Ribboned into this swirl of recent happiness, there has been a felt sense of deep peace.  I still feel it, like a full moon reflecting on a softly rippling, nocturnal lake.  I believe these gifts of happiness and peace are a contribution to The World.  I am not an “activist” in the classical sense of the word… nor do I aspire to be one.  But I am pretty sure that the energies that move through me uplift the collective.  Through untrained eyes, my passive stance of raising a tender, bright goddess in the woods, while doing humble, labor intensive jobs and investing in a sprawling bouquet of heart-full relationships might seem like a steaming heap of whoopdie-do.  But it’s NOT.  It’s a lavish slather of uplifting love up in the one heart we all share beneath the wondrous adventure of otherness in which we dance.  Listen– I’m all for Otherness.  A celebratory recognition of Oneness does not impede or negate the glorious play of duality that we are all exploring now.

I’m simply reminding myself and YOU that our lives and especially our LOVE, no matter how seemingly inconsequential and humble, MAKES A DIFFERENCE.  So won’t you please join me, and gaily fling open that cage door at the edge of your identity…. take delight in all of the intricate and fascinating winged visitors who fly in and out at their whim and leisure in the name of Destiny, in the name of Grace…

In the name of Heaven dawning withIN.

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.

Life, Death and Loving Loneliness

I’m sitting here staring into space, groping to mentally corral the current textures of my life… Spontaneously, I drew in a deep breath, and I was saved.  Overall, it’s beautiful and abundant and wildly blessed.  And also lonely and exhausting.  One inner dimension of me feels threadbare.  Another, soft and bright like the dawn.  God is vast.

One of the things that struck me about giving birth, was that no matter how many loving supportive people were by my side, (which in my case was Ed, Catherine Stone, Deirdre, Dara, Ken, Cindy the nurse, and Brooke the Midwife… HA!  SEVEN!!!  Jesus… way too many 😉 ultimately, it was a journey that I had to make alone.  You could argue that I made it with Serena and with God… In a way that was utterly true… but at a very basic, stripped down level, I was alone.  No one could take away the immense and constant pain.  I had to dive straight into it.  I shared this perspective with Catherine Stone (my doula) after the fact, and she said dying is the same.  No matter who is by your side, you must let go of the body and walk into the Light alone.

Birth.  Death.  And Life… In Life, (like I mentioned in my last blog, I see Life as a synonym for God, so it’s only natural to capitalize it.) I am surrounded by so many bright and loving souls.  SO MANY.  And yet, often I still feel so alone.  Some people seem to delight in their aloneness…. But for me… it feels wrought with polarity.  I spend a lot of time alone… and I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert.  And yet, sometimes I ache in my aloneness.  I long to be as close with another as two “ones” can possibly be.  I guess that’s why Ed and I spent so much time just holding each other, back in the days when our daily lives were a tighter weave.  Our warm, pulsing bodies entwined, sharing breath, my heart pouring open, feeling the ultimate, intimate sense of Belonging.  But the shadow side of this merged perfection is codependence.  Which has been its own unraveling labyrinth in my life.  So here I am, inside the construct of a Life scenario where I don’t have the option to collapse into default codependence.  Woo-hoo.

Ultimately, I WANT to feel so entirely at peace and whole in myself… (sometimes I DO… but those moments tend to slip by in an incognito state of Unity…)   But… there’s a way in which meeting my ache and longing over and over and over and over again feels like slogging through the desert.  Is this why I want a family so bad???  So that I don’t have to feel these arduous feelings of slow burning longing…?  Wow… I thought I wanted a family (“a family”= a husband and two children… and hopefully some furry animals… and I DON’T mean furry spiders, which are abundant around my hOMe and sorta freak me out, even though I mostly love spiders…) because  it was my heart and soul’s Truth.  But what if it was just to avoid these intense feelings??  It’s still inconclusive… but just in case that IS the case, I’m gonna practice saying YES to this experience in it’s subtly excruciating entirety.  I’m sure that the “meaning of my life” is to dare to love everything that arises.  After all, if we are “made in the image and likeness of God”, then this MUST be our highest calling as human beings.  Because God certainly loves the pants off ALL of it.  (Sorta like when I took my jade heart necklace away from Serena the other night at bed time, and her dark, heart-shaped lips spilled into a perfect little frown as a prelude to gloriously impassioned tears… and witnessing this made my heart explode open and I couldn’t help but laaaaugh at the poetic artistry of her self expression.)

I love how easy it is for me to spiral into esoteric, philosophical realms!  I totally meant to talk about super basic dimensions of my life.  Like how Serena is suddenly exploding into so much exponential growth, and she’s becoming more and more of an ecstatic handful, who reaches for and grabs everything.  She (to my surprise) loooooves the water!!  I took her to Cate and Jenny’s pool party on saturday, and I was amazed by her impassioned splashing and kicking.  She became vivacious in the water.  She’s not like that in the bath… When I first put her in the tub, expecting her to be a natural born mermaid like her mama, she looked more like a petrified mouse, about to be seized in the merciless talons of death.  She got all stiff and made prey faces.  But she might have mermaid blood yet!  I also took her for a River quickie yesterday, and was surprised that even though it was COLD, she became ecstatic.  We sat on a rock in the gentle rapids, and she kicked and splashed and explored the nature and essence of the quick, crystalline water.  I remember last September, being nice and pregnant, and going to that same spot, submerging and praying for a smooth, “easy” (ha!) birth… sitting on the smooth, flat rock, as the singing liquid grace poured around me, opening my body to this force of powerful flow.  Time is profound.  Riding the spiral merry-go-round of Life… visiting and revisiting the same locations, emotionally and physically, again and again… yet perceiving them from a constantly evolving consciousness… an aging body, a ripening heart, an unfurling ego.  Reminds me of the book, “The Giving Tree”… Even when she was just a lonesome stump, she was so full of grace.  Ha!  I hope that’s what “they” write on my tombstone…

It’s a new day… and I don’t feel as intimate with the texture of loneliness as I did yesterday… which is a bit of a relief.  But speaking of grace, I really DO aim to be so gracious when that all-too-familiar feeling arises.  Matt Kahn, my “Team Captain”, as Erika refers to him (!!!), says that I can love every feeling that arises like it has NEVER been loved before.  And I know I can!  I have so much love in my heart.  Enough love to saturate this entire world, and watch it be triumphantly restored to the Heaven it has always been.  I’m sure of this.

At six months, Serena is finally growing hair.  It’s in this wildly adorable phase right now, where it is a fine coat of soft fur.  I loooove to pet it.  I love her fat, squishy arms!  (and legs…)  I love the way she gets so still and quiet when I put her facing me in the Ergo carrier… and her serious, inquisitive, wise, (plump, drooping cheeked) and open face just takes in the world.  I have to constantly remind myself that it will not always be like this.  Someday, she’ll be too big to ride in a baby carrier… and maybe someday she’ll even be embarrassed by me.  And yet, we’ll still be on that spiral merry-go-round, circling the same locations, physically, emotionally,  mentally… watching everything change, and yet somehow stay the same.

I don’t feel like I hit the bullseye with this blog.  Like you could read it, and still not fully know me… Though I did offer some rich and true and beautiful morsels… I guess that’s why people write BOOKS instead of just long, sprawling shorties.  I wish I could so graciously empty my innermost self onto this page for you to intimately encounter…  Why?  Because if “Life” is “God”, then “Intimacy” is the experiencing of Life/God.  And all I can offer is ME.  And perhaps this naked me can open you deeper to the raw joy and pain and beauty of your Holy Existence.

Maybe I didn’t hit the bullseye… but I showed up and shared something of myself.  And I will continue to do so, always aspiring to use my Life to illuminate and liberate your courageous, profound and essential heart.  Because I can.

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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.

The Silver Whisper of Mortality

On my thirty third birthday, to my delight, I discovered my first white hair.  It was shorter than the rest, and reached skyward like a little fairy antennae.  Every time I looked at it, I felt a sense of soulful relief that I was finally growing into my Self.  The Self who had toiled and ached in the gaping chasm between the wisdom of my soul and the limitations of my sparse experience as a twenty-something years alive humanoid on planet Earth.  (I still marvel at those who feel that their twenties are the best years of their life!!!  Unfathomable…)  My white hair was a prized trophy.  Actually, Ed told me to call it “silver”.  That does sound more glamorous… so let’s go with that… makes it sound like I could take it to the bank or use it for alchemical wizardry…

After not TOO much time, I got tired of the way it refused to blend with the flock, and I impulsively plucked it, convinced that soon enough, more would come.  They didn’t.  Until a couple weeks ago.  And THIS time, three years later, my response to this burgeoning silvered, wiser version of myself is not nearly as insouciant.  Actually, the contrast is remarkable.  This time I am the mother of a five month alive goddess… And I feel suddenly OLD.  I have felt worn ragged since she came.  I hope it passes.  I have been living in an incessant state of mild to spicy exhaustion.  My yoga practice has spilled between the cracks in my whittled down, practical existence, as I prioritize money making endeavors, basic hygiene and hOMe maintenance.  And when I DO exercise, it’s walking with a seventeen pound sack of Boozle strapped to me.  God, I feel like I leave a trail of foot-shaped craters in my wake!  My knees creak and groan precariously as I crouch up and down while cleaning houses, wearing my daughter.  And best of all is the steady numbness in my thumb, pointer and middle finger, from the sudden flair up of postpartum carpal tunnel!

It actually feels ridiculous to be writing this.  I never imagined that I’d tell it on a mountain about falling apart and “feeling old”.  I’m hoping that it’s a fleeting, short-lived experience resulting from the Xtreme sport of being a new mom.  A SINGLE new mom at that.  And a *relatively* poor one a that.  Actually, I do not consider myself poor.  I feel pretty wealthy.  But not wealthy enough to thrust heaps of cash at a babysitter while I go off and get a nice, deep, luxurious massage, or weekly acupuncture… or even… mmmm… a swim a the local pool.  Now I’m drooling.

Serena is becoming more and more awake and engaged… and I am humbled.  Gone are the days when she’d just sleep like a little dense loaf of heaven, and I could get on with my romanticized existence as a new mother.  Nope.  Welcome to the version of reality where I am mostly busting my butt to earn money while constantly attending to Serena, and keeping myself and my home in a moderate state of loveliness.  Oh… and at least dabbling in staying connected to others.

If my life was a piece of music…. God, there are so many different instruments playing, and weaving together a very eclectic strand of melodies and diverse tones.  Loneliness moans from deep down in my heart like a wailing saxophone.  I thought I was ok with loneliness by now.  I used to be afraid to admit Her presence, for fear of frightening others even further away from me.  But over time, I realized that loneliness is an inevitable guest who visits everyone from time to time… no big deal.  Lately though, I have not been such a gracious hostess… because while She has mostly been a respectful guest who doesn’t overstay her welcome, recently she seems to have set up camp.  I guess She needs a lot of my loving attention.  Sigh.  I often feel frustrated that I am a single mom.  Even though I chose it, I find myself longing to do it with Ed… Imagining a highly glamorous rendition of intimacy, witnessing the child we created out of our potent, devoted love, unfurl and blossom every day… Being kissed and held… Leaving Serena with him while I went to my weekly yoga class… Writing about this is causing the gravitational field in my heart to become crushing.

But back to the symphony singing in me.  There is a brass section, that is crashing triumph!  This experience has catalyzed the lazy, inert dimensions of me to WAKE UP and get groovin!  A deep part of me was yearning to get unstuck… crying out for the grace of something that mattered enough to compel me to bleed and sweat and make shit happen.  Silver hairs or not, if I was babyless, I’d still be draped on the figurative chaise lounge, eating organic bonbons and watching new-age soap operas.  Ha!  Actually, my LIFE is a bit of a new-age soap opera…. I remember one time, about three years ago, I was getting ready to leave my Ma’s house, and return back to my lovely art deco apartment in the Land of Oaks… and my Ma said to her cat, “Jupi, say bye to Athena… She’s going back to her soap opera now.”  This comment simultaneously agitated me and cracked me UP!!!  There was too much truth to it to be casually dismissed.  But thankfully, over time, my Ma graduated my existence to the status of a full on OPERA.  A classier production with bold, heart-wrenching music and exquisite costumes…  I wonder what she’d deem this current incarnation.  Now there’s not enough frivolous time to flop around and squeeze drama from the cracks in my life.  My days are a steady stream of rigorous output.  But somehow still colorful, because come on, it’s Graceland!  Anyway, a deep part of me feels profoundly satisfied to be working so hard, and experiencing myself as boundless and powerful.

And yet… simultaneously, there is a part of me who is really getting off on feeling like a victim!  I don’t know what instruments would sound for this section of my inner musical landscape….?  Oh duh!  VIOLINS.  Tons of them!!  Pooooor Athena.  She has to do it all by herself.  There is nobody to hold her baby.  Her body aches and she’s exhausted and it never stops.  It’s weird, but I can actually feel myself ENJOYING feeling sorry for myself in some moments!  Even as I am concurrently feeling empowered and strong.  I tell you this, because I feel a passionate call to bust through the collectively constructed myth that a person must be all streamline and tidy on the inside.  NO WAY.  We each have so many dimensions singing up from within us, all at once.  And they don’t have to agree or make any semblance of sense.  And yet, even inside this miraculous cacophony, we can still be graceful and at peace.

If you don’t know this about me yet, I love my stories to have “morals”.  Not the kind of morals that measure your worthiness or acceptability… but the kind that invite you to look inside and touch your own humanity and divinity in an intimate and meaningful way.  Modern day parables!  I’m a messy, modern day Jesus!  Haha!!!  But seriously, Jesus taught the masses to love everyone.  And I am suggesting that the precursor to that illuminated stance, is to love everyone who lives inside of YOU.  I believe in the dawning of a world of peace and harmony… because it is rising soft and radiant in my own heart and life.  And it is highly contagious.

Amen.

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