Postcard from the way Up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds wonderful.

But.

How do I walk through the fears?

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

I’m starving for sexual love.

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

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

But I must be willing to die. 

A BEE!!!

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

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

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

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

Not easy.  But totally doable.

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

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

It’s so wonderful to be alive.  

Keep the faith, People.  

The elevator is on it’s way Up.

An Unedited Flood and Landslide

I can feel my fingertips throwing off mad sparks.  Colors that don’t even exist in this humdrum dimension. Ohhhh it feels sooooo good to type.  It’s the best sex.  I was gonna say better than sex, but that would be unnecessarily divisive.  

 

Giordano took the kids to visit his mama up the hill and I’m ALONE.  My five favorite letters, in that specific combination, I want to climb inside them and writhe around inappropriately.  I know, I know, it’s not the letters, it’s their meaning.  But I love letters and words and strings of words so much.  I love the potential power they possess.  Maybe they are empty unto themselves?  Or maybe not.  Maybe it is the electric charge that shoots through me and plumps them up with holy value.

 

Fuck, I don’t want to waste my sizable crumbs of ALONE ness pontificating on the alphabet!  Although a crumb of a crumb was fun.  Onwards and upwards.

 

There’s too much to say.  I’m afraid I’m going to tear as it exits me.  Relax and breathe, Athena.  

 

Lately I have been having recurring flashes of the vision quest I did when I was like 28.  It was four days on the hill, inside a little rectangle marked by mugwort.  No food, no water.  

 

Have you ever thristed?  

 

I mean like REALLY thirsted….

 

It’s the most excruciating sensation.  Probably some kind of dying.  Which apparently I suck at, because I came down off the hill after two days and just chilled at basecamp.  Like a little native american style vacay.  

 

I guess I keep flashing on that memory because I AM THIRSTING again.  Except this time it’s not for literal water, and there is no hill to climb down, and no water at the base.

 

I can not get my head around why in fuck’s hella holy name I would choose such a crushing path.  In my stronger moments, I believe in a higher purpose for all this suffering.  When I’m in it, I wrastle the damn thing like a gator and lose every time.  I am imagining that you don’t understand, because in a few ways my life looks quite privileged.  Like having healthy, rad children and a devoted husband and exquisite land.  AND A DREAM WRITING JOB, which I am aiming to tell you about, but who knows where this wild current will take me.

 

But maaaaaan.  I’m starving for so many nutrients.  Let it be written that it is ANYTHING BUT NATURAL to raise children via the exhausted old nuclear way.  It’s the devil incarnate.  So barren.  Where are my witches?  Where are my bitches???  

 

Yes, it’s NOT just a cliche, it DOES take a village to raise a child.  And NO, relationships with men are NOT satisfying to the soul.  Well… at least not with my man.  But I hear so many women complain that their men are… ummm… idiots?  Hahaha.  Well… let’s just say, “not able to meet them at full capacity”.  Men have their place.  But it’s a the bar. Haha.  I crack myself up.  And if you don’t get it, too bad, cuz I only have a few hallowed minutes, not enough time to explain my subtle and complex wit.

 

But yeah, I think suicidal thoughts a butt ton these days.  And then I quickly realize that I’m waaaay too spiritual to take my precious life and I would never abandon my adorable kids even though I often hate them these days.  Yeah.  That’s not the kind of shit you say out loud.  Unless you’re Athena Grace.  Unless you are condemned to a brutal prison sentence which involves NEVER HAVING ANY PERSONAL SPACE except right now.  Then you would hate your kids too.  All their whining and demands and unrelenting neediness.  

 

But I will love them when they come home, because I am immersing in a heavenly realm, banging, yes BANGING these words out upon this screen, incense drifting in sweet swirls as I lay on my belly on my bed, engulfed in a sea of pale pink ALONE ness.  The window is wide open and it’s cold for June thirteenth.  Storm clouds are gathering, preparing to dump violent showers upon us.  Acacia leaves whisper elite secrets and the birds testify affirmative. 

 

So basically, what I need you to know is that I DID NOT KNOW WHAT I WAS GETTING MYSELF INTO WHEN I MADE A BABY WITH A MARRIED MAN.  I’m sure I’ve told you this part before, but when I told my Ma I was pregnant, she didn’t speak to me for like three days and now I know why.  

 

This path is crushing.  And what was I thinking when I married the volatile italian man and concurrently made a baby with him???  I must be a quintessential idiot.  I have kicked myself too many times for this string of questionable choices that has put me in an inescapable death grip life.  

 

Just for the record, Giordano is doing great.  Except when he flies off the handle.  But I decided to love him in spite of his “spells”… rather than waiting for them to stop.  Because they might not.  Shrug.  He’s really refining beautifully.  To his credit.  And.  He works all the time, and eats his food like a starving hound, and doesn’t have the best capacity for presence.

 

But his face looks lighter.  And I love the way it lights up when he smiles, and the little dances he does and then looks slightly embarrassed.  I love his sharp, musky smell and falling asleep in his arms.  (I joke that sleeping is the best part of our relationship.  And sadly, it often feels that way.)  I love his love of nature and his deathly charming broken english.  I can’t get enough of that.

 

So anyway, lemme tell you about my new writing gig.  I had a session with an energy healer a couple months ago, and I asked about work.  Writing.  She said a bunch of stuff, but most of it’s none of your business.  Wink.  No, just kidding, I only want to tell you that which will forward my riveting story.  Which is that she said it looked like writing about PARENTING would be in alignment for me. I practically puked.  I’m already so sick of that topic.  I can’t imagine flushing my creative time down the toilet in such a manner.  

 

Maybe I’m being dramatic.  But I did feel an aversion and I told her so.  Inside, I thought, I want to write about SEX.  

 

Too bad I’m not having any.  Haha.  How can I write about something that’s not even alive for me?  Actually, in the name of accuracy, we have sex about once every two weeks.  It’s usually hard to get started, due to how many withholds and complex shadow emotions I feel in relation to Giordano.  How frustrated and disappointed I often am.  How much MORE I want from him.  Especially in the way of raw, full throttled, unadulterated, penetrating PRESENCE.  

 

I digress.  Once I get into it, it feels AMAZING and I feel so glad that I married someone I love having sex with, even if it’s so hard to get there due to everything.  I also need you to know that I bought a day planner for 2020 and my friend Dara was like why do you need a day planner, you aren’t up to anything.  But I had lofty aspirations pre new year.  And now, the only thing I pencil in is a detailed account of my rare (and precious) sexual occasions!  I had to tell you because it’s one of those needless details that gives life it’s poetically evocative depth of field.  

 

Anyway, I always keep my finger on Nicole Daedone’s pulse.  She was the founder of OneTaste, mother of OM (Orgasmic meditation, which I swear by, and practice as often as humanly possible.  Which unfortunately isn’t the 4x a day that I wish it was.)  People project a whole array of shit onto Nicole.  From Angel to Demon.  But in my Seeing, she is on a potent and admirable Path of Mastery, and I always keep her close, because I am too.  In my own way.  And I like to stay attuned to those who remind me what I’m made of.

 

She was showing up in my dreams a bunch.  Intuitive dreams, from which I awake deeply impressed.  One thing led to another, but I don’t have time or desire for a play by play.  One day, she reached out to me and basically offered me a job editing a series of her old blogs.  Flattening the 3D elements and making them into magical, timeless prayers.  

 

I get to climb inside her mind and transcendent erotic encounters… while Forest sleeps and suckles my breast.  And unfortunately Serena watches too many cartoons in the living room.  I hate that.  But she likes it.

 

Anyway how do you like THAT???  I wanted to write about sex even though I am in a period of forced abstinence and I could NEVER source material as potent as Nicole’s anyway.  She is of another realm.  But by the Grace of a hella awesome God, I do have the sublimedivine gift to do her words some serious justice.  Ahhhh the moments that I spend “working”… are the truest moments in my soul.  It is Union in the classical sense.  I am so absorbed, I disappear.  Fully engaged.  Used.  Challenged.  Turned on.  This is what I’m made for.  

 

Noteworthy that I am so wholly satisfied doing writing work that is not “mine”.  I don’t crave the recognition that I thought I did.  I love writing my own life… and yet, these days, it is so dry and brittle and rugged.  I would sicken myself to write it all down.  I love disappearing into Nicole’s bold, illuminated genius. It’s the quintessential journey that IS the destination.  I never want it to end.  

 

It probably will.

 

And I guess this blog should too, because it’s time to make sweet potato fries and hamburger patties and garden fresh salad.

 

I hope that I have provided you everything from illumination to liberation to amusement.

 

I love you.

My Precious Paragraph ;)

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

 

I’m tired of being mean.  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

She said, “From you.”

 

I was impressed. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I really hate him.  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Athena’s Mildly Ecstatic Resurrection

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

 

Short of being dead.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I HAVE FOUND MY WATER.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Destiny’s Harsh Hand…

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Will It Still Be There When I Get Back?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And I…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Surrender.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

God I hope….

 

IT will still be there.

 

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

 

This must be the ultimate Cosmic Joke. 

 

A bridge between hearts

On the outside, summer has melted into the cool breath of autumn.  The gods have ostentatiously announced this turn by hurling copious lightning bolts and savage booms of thunder upon the green heart of Italy, as Umbria is fondly known.  Deluges of rain drench the earth with abandon.  This transforms the suffocatingly humid air to cool, sweet delicacy.  The trees are still green.  (I am dreading their impending shedding and nakedness…)  The days are no longer unbearably hot.  Just warm and friendly.  But winter winks and whispers from not too far off.

 

On the inside though, my hellish walkabout through emotional, spiritual winter is showing signs of thawing.

 

Forest’s arrival was NOT a graceful transition.  Preparing for birth gets so much hype… but often, the postpartum period gets left to the wolves.  This is mostly how it was for me.  I made a few feeble cries for help… and received a bit of blessed support around the ragged, jagged edges… Mostly in the form of a meal here, and a meal there… But my primary experience as a sudden mother of two with a thrashed and bleeding vagina, and a ripped open heart, was a desolate one.  I do NOT recommend this experience.  If you are pregnant, or intending to become pregnant…. ASK FOR HELP.  Demand help.  Feel wildly worthy of help.  Saturate yourself in support, postpartum.

 

I could get lost in the gory details of my searing postpartum experience, but that’s not what my heart longs to share.  I survived.  My body is resilient and strong.  Now Forest is one and a half months earthside.  And spring is breathing light and warmth upon the barren scapes of my heart and soul.

 

Don’t get me wrong… Life is demanding, and my body tense from holding and nursing a baby all day, while perpetually juggling the needs, demands and whims of an almost four year old and maintaining the impossible tidiness of a not-so-small house…

 

During my pregnancy, Giordano often expressed a hope that Forest would bring us all closer and balance the dynamics of our family.  Though deep down I shared this wish with him, I still mostly cringed when he spoke it… because it seemed like way too much responsibility to load onto a nine pound human with a soft, open skull.  (He’s twelve pounds by now…)  From my vantage point in this moment, it appears that Forest’s mighty soul IS actually capable of this superhuman feat.

 

It always comes back to the timeless chicken and egg quandary… Does the inside give rise to the outer?… Or…???  But as I grope about in these invisible realms, my intuition says that what we perceive as “inner” and “outer” are but one sentient, infinite ISness.

 

I always have a figurative finger on the pulse of The Collective.  Recently, I felt an intangible shift that was beyond me and my own paltry circumstances. AND at the same time, my said paltry circumstances began to shift…

 

Witnessing the depth of love and care that Giordano has for his son made it increasingly difficult to abide in my cherished, long-standing fantasy of fleeing with my children to the familiar and now legendary land of California The Beautiful.  I still mostly did not like my husband… but this distaste began to pale in the bright luminosity of his paternal love.

 

I challenged myself to practice approving of him… even in the face of my glaring distaste for his ways.  I really CAN be a critical bitch.  Honestly, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of my curdled criticism.  Simultaneously, Giordano became less aggressive.  He began to apologize faster and touch (and actually FEEL) me more.  You could argue that this was a function of my behavioral shift… but my sense is that there was a larger energetic gale at play.

 

Theories and hypotheses aside… more lightness is dawning upon our home and family.  I still don’t luxuriate in the company of my husband… but nor do I drown in distaste and pain, as I oft did before.  Forest is a bridge between our hearts and minds, where before it was mostly impossible to pass.  With this exotic flavor of newfound affinity, anything is possible for us…

 

Concurrent with my nuptial blossoming, I experienced a delicious, pivotal moment in my relationship with Italy.  I was at the grocery store with my kids…

 

Italian people are wild about pregnant women, and even wilder about babies.  Everywhere I turn, I am serenaded by a chorus of impassioned exclamation, “AMORE!”.  Women, and even a few men, lust for a peek at the angelic face of my slumbering baby snuggled against my bosom in his wrap.

 

So there we were, civilizedly foraging for food at the aesthetically mediocre Coop, which is nestled in the archaic heart of Gualdo Tadino, being fawned over by the masses.  An almost young, blue-eyed man offered me front cuts in the intimidatingly long checkout line.  But there was another couple between me and him.  Flustered, I looked to them for a read on the situation.  I was shocked when they both smiled and waved me in front of them, as though it was sheerly autonomic.  A red carpet sprawled open beneath my astonished feet.

 

I attempted and mostly failed to share a friendly conversation with the kind man who instigated the front cuts, but despite the lack of intellectual understanding, my heart and the entire mOMent overflowed with warmth.

 

Pushing the shopping cart into the warm, sunny morning, I had the warm, fuzzy thought, “I like it here in Italy.”  Followed by the stunned realization that I had never had that thought before.  I fondled and reflected upon this new awareness for a bit… and concluded that it was probably a fleeting fluke.  After all, my emotional waves tend to be drastic and dramatic and watery.

 

To my surprise, the feeling has lasted.  I realize that I have adjusted to life over here.  For the first year, I was painfully aware of what was missing.  Foods, friends, family, comfy swings that cradle your butt at the playground, the ability to have a damn conversation….

 

But I’m starting to develop a taste for pizza… I make my own peanut butter.  I found pickles that don’t totally blow.  I brew my own water kefir.  The list goes on… but the moral of the story is that I am synching up with my new environment and life.  I am not devastated by the often silence between Giordano and I when we drive places together.  Sure, in my ideal world it would be swell to love to talk with my husband… but silence is kinda okay too… He DOES put his hand on my leg mostly always…

 

I love our land, abounding with fruits and foragables… I love how safe I feel here.  Serena can wander about freely.  (Not that she does, mostly.  She tends to cling.)  I am able to understand quite a bit of Italian, even if my speaking is butt-ass remedial…

 

Reflecting on my suffering, my dear friend Dara invited me to reflect on my original Desire/intention for coming to Italy.  I had to dig a bit to get back there… but it was FAMILY.  I ached for family.  And now I have it.  Gloriously imperfect, as Life mostly is… but nutritious and beautiful too… if I’m open to it.

 

Given the incessant imperfection of life in/as duality, may I embrace the grace that is always here.  What a shame it would be to awaken to this ever-flawed goodness as I am blinking out of this existence.

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (part 2)

The facet of freebirthing that was most compelling to me was not being “checked” to see how dilated I was, or being told when to push, or any other externalized reference points along the Journey of Laboring.  Instead, the birthing woman is totally undisturbed and able to experience from the INside-out.  (I’m imagining that some readers will find this perspective audacious.  Like “WHAT??? YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW HOW TO GIVE BIRTH WITHOUT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND WHEN.”)

Well guess what?  You CAN.

Except here’s where I lost connection with my inner authority:

Expectations…. I imagined that the second baby would be easier.  It was taking waaaay too long.  I was in waaaaaaay too much pain.  When would I feel the fucking urge to PUSH???

Night had swallowed day, candles danced wiggly, golden light about the dim ambiance of my pink bedroom.  I finally felt a mild urge to push.  I guess I texted my doula friend Karen in California… and asked her…. something.  She video called me on fb messenger.  As Grace would have it, she was about to give a chiropractic adjustment to three mamas (two of which I had known for over a decade).  Suddenly I was being supported by FOUR women from across the world.

Mostly this was soothing and helpful.  But in retrospect, the call lingered beyond its expiration date.  I lost touch with the inner authority that had been the coveted treasure of my freebirthing quest.  I was lost in the wilderness of pain… Vulnerable and reaching outside for salvation.

The call sprawled on for over an hour.  Contractions.  Pushing.  Lioness roars.

I asked Karen if breaking my own bag of waters (which was still intact) would accelarate the process (I had heard this in other birth stories…) She said go for it. When I reached inside, I could feel the bulging bag… At first I was tentative about breaking it with my nails. But after three or four tries, it burst. Gusssssssh….

Nothing changed, save the manky bedspread, which was now cold and wet.

I felt inside to see if Forest’s head was at the door yet. I felt SOMEthing…. But it was not very “head-ish”… It felt like two squishy peaks, with a valley in between. WHAAAAAT??? Not a foot. Not a head. Too small for a butt…. Was there REALLY a normal baby-shaped person inside me??? Or just some random, alien scraps, all smashed together….

When my waters broke, Karen said “He’ll be out in two pushes.”

My inner authority flew out the window and I placed the weight of my salvation in this statement. Time bled on…. My concern mounted as my endurance dwindled.

Now, please allow me to pause and comment.

My writing style is especially feminine. Rooted in and informed by feeeeeling. Decorated with poetic metaphors. Striking, abstract imagery. Frivolous, philosophical meanderings. Bursts of unapologetic raw-ness…

And then there is Athena Grace writing about BIRTH.  Exponentially feminine. I notice a voice inside who is critical of my “failure” to walk a straight line of “chronology”. Well, I am going to grab my ovaries and overtly affirm– FUCK THAT SHIT. I am a WOMAN.  I have a woman’s (heartful) mind, and I am sharing my Woman’s Voice. I never really identified as a “feminist”… because I’m not into raging against the machine. But it turns out that at heart, I AM. The world held hostage by our severely crippled systems NEEDS women’s’ voices to resound boldly through the Collective, heal the heart of ALL, and purify the waters.

This story is a wild, bucking spiral montage of images, mOMents, feelings… and of course a juicy climax (or three). By the Power Vested in Me, I declare that this is RIGHT and BEAUTIFUL and perfectly natural. Not to negate straight lines. I reserve the right to ride those tamed beasts as I please.

At the start of this account I forgot to mention that as during my labor with Serena, it was increasingly impossible to pee. I was hoping this condition would not recur with Forest. Frown.  I had to squat or sit on the toilet for a million years of discomfort before a pathetic trickle would dribble out. Not being able to release deterred me from drinking too much. I was hot and sweaty. I needed fluid. I drank sips and tangoed with the terror of bursting my bladder.

I also forgot to mention an essential, terrible (and retrospectively comical) thing about Giordano’s role during my labor. If I had a nickel for every time the man asked me “WHY”…. I’d be one rich bitch.  MEN— Listen. When a laboring woman makes a request, DO NOT ask her WHY.  Fucking never. Each time he did, I told him this. But obviously, it didn’t go IN. Because his WHYs fired off like a machine gun, driving holes in my peace and sanity.  WOMEN— if your man asks you WHY while you are laboring, send him to me and I will personally rip his over-active head off. And for anyone who finds themself asking “WHY not ask WHY?…”

I’ll tell you.

BECAUSE. It engages a part of the brain that should NOT be active while a woman is in such an intense, intuitive, altered state.

And NOW, back to our riveting story.

I didn’t feel that I was progressing. (I WAS… but not in an outwardly measurable way, like I WANTED to be…)  Karen said if Forest wasn’t out in another half an hour, I “should” go to the hospital.  Eeeeeeeeeek. This would be a major MESS. It was after eleven pm. Would they cut me open? Give me a hodge-podge of horrific interventions? Give my baby antibiotics and injections? Burn me at the stake for birthing outside The System? There was nothing bright about this proposed path.

Except the survival of my child and myself.

Giordano became anxious. Ugh. Just what I needed. He did NOT want to go to the hospital…. Which was actually a surprise to me. I thought he would be the first to subscribe to conventional protocols.  But at this point, he was scared of all the same shit as me. Only more so… because dude tends to expect the worst. But actually, I was impressed by his ability to stay grounded and “calm-ish”… given where the current was carrying us.  In the end, he didn’t lose it.

Through brutal contractions and involuntary baring down, I made a phone call to Manuela, who was holding energetic space for us… and told her that I thought we should go to the hospital. She said “Be wise.”

I forgot this part, but apparently I had also texted Benedetta– “HELP”, at some point.  (She reminded me of this a few days ago, and I had a good laugh about it.) She said she awoke to my text and freaked out. She had become a contact point for a slew of people who were eager to be updated about our progress and wellbeing. She said she called me. I vaguely recall trying to speak to her through excruciating contractions and pushing. Haha. It sure is funny now!

Then I pulled on my beloved, well-worn Berkeley Police sweatpants and a WHITE TANK TOP (what was I thinking???) and attempted to walk. I had to stop every couple steps and breathe and puuuuush.

I HAD TO.

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

The Poetry of Darkness

My inner perfectionist is ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS as I sit here contemplating what to write about.  I want to write something genius and get drenched in positive attention and validation, because these days, I mostly feel like a mediocre nobody.  If only I could show up here in Athena Graceland like a blazing comet that takes your breath away….  THEN I’d be worth the love and belonging I crave.

 

Ahhhhh feels so good to name that.  It was like taking a giant poop.  It’s the shit that lurks, unacknowledged in the shadows that can really “crush the ball”.  (My favorite Italian phrase.  Referring to testicles, naturally.)  It’s amazing how much stirring of the shadow is occurring in here lately.   I oft wonder “was this stuff always running me from the bowels of my psyche, and I just couldn’t make contact with it?”  This is my hypothesis…

 

Which makes it damn exciting that I am starting to be able to have some real, snuggly intimacy with it.  I guess.  If I give myself permission to digest, release, transcend.  Permission.  It sounds so easy.  But walking through it is like swimming through honey.  Except not nearly as sweet.  Maybe shit flavored honey…

 

I guess I could start by saying really fucking nice things to myself on a regular basis.  The kinds of things that would be glaringly obvious to say to ANYBODY I love and care for, when they are struggling.  The kinds of things I want YOU to say to me upon reading these words.  The kinds of things you HAVE been saying to me.  And for a few sacred mOMents, everything feels ok.

 

Like “Athena, you DON’T always have to be producing something in order to be valuable.  YOU are enough.  If only you could see the exquisite artistry of your BEing as you move through your days.  Even when you feel depressed and hopeless, your magic is contagious and inspiring.”

 

Yep, made myself cry.

 

Been feeling like a mediocre mom a lot lately.  Up until recently, at least I felt like I was succeeding at that.  Serena tells me how much she loooooooves me…. too many times a day too count.  Inside I’m like, “Really???  Even though lose my patience and shout at you too much???”  So much for “conscious parenting”….

 

I think I’m doing better than I give myself credit for.  It just hurts my heart so bad when I yell at this beautiful, perfect being who is my daughter.  (Tears silently spill down my face as I expose this intimate dimension of myself.  Maybe not “brilliant” writing… but honest.  Which is courageous.  Maybe lots of moms secretly feel like shmucks, but don’t want to admit it…)

 

Exhaaaale.  I just don’t know how to navigate the frequent moments when Serena yells and screams and rebels “for no reason”.  I’m sure in HER world, there IS a reason.  Even if she cannot name it.  She’s probably mirroring my emotional intensity.  Maybe this is glaringly obvious from your kush seat in the overstuffed armchair…. She’s also a scorpio.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant when she was growing inside me.  But it’s no joke, people.  Scorpion energy is emotional masturbation.  So indulgent and intense.

 

But I digress.  Sometimes (often lately), I feel like I just can’t handle my girl’s said intensity and unwavering push-back.  I wonder if it would be different if I was adequately reSourced.  I don’t have fuckin’ ANYBODY who shows up to take Serena out for the afternoon and give me a break.  Not even my husband.  (He’s too busy bacon hunting.)  I chose such a fucking hard Path.  Dianne says to keep going and never give up.

 

I’ve always been a spiritual PollyAnna at heart.  My Ma used to passionately wish that this was her last incarnation on earth.  She was OVER IT.   And I’d feel so damn good about myself, replying that I would come back here as many times as I was needed.  But I guess the ingredients I needed to thrust me into “Camp Over IT” were motherhood and a painfully difficult marriage.  Oh, and a seeming lack of ability to plug into higher Purpose.  That’s really the one that slaughters me.

 

Mom, I get it.

 

Did I ever tell you that when I told my mom I was pregnant with Serena, she stopped talking to me for like three days?  Seriously.  And we were living together in her sweet little one-room loft apartment.  It was INTENSE.  I didn’t get it.  But now I imagine that she foresaw the terrain ahead, and was grieving for me.

 

She WAS seeing through the filter of her own struggles, of course.  And probably I will triumph at some point.  Probably some day I will heal my precious inner child, get my writing off the ground and enjoy a more autonomous, focused and gratifying existence.

 

I guess I can lay the groundwork now.  By being sublimely kind to myself no matter what.  And appreciating the Grace of everything that Life is laying at my feet.

 

I’m grateful that it’s summer.  I might be conflagrating in soul-angst… but I’m no dummy!  I am still able to luxuriate in frequent near-nakedness.  I am still deeply moved by the ambiance of overflowing birdsong that pours upon the warm, bright world each day.  The disarming, supple softness of Serena’s three year old skin.  And the way everything is play for her.  Gorgeous trees dripping with glistening, red cherries, of which we are free to eat as many as we please.  A husband who often falls short… but is a die-hard who stands the fuck up after he falls, and sincerely does his best to learn and grow and evolve.

 

A husband who loves his unborn son more than I do at this point.  Giordano’s love for Forest is palpable.  Sometimes I’m scared that Forest will be too much like Giordano…  Sometimes I feel like Forest is the steel-jawed trap that keeps me bound to a life I hate.

 

OMG.  A monk and a nun exiting the grocery store, pushing a full shopping cart!!!!  One of those monks that looks like Friar Tuck.  And a nun who resembles…. Whoopie Goldberg.  Haha, just kidding.

 

Anyway, I’m looking forward to holding my son in my arms.  It’s still hard for me to believe that a baby is going to come out of me.  Even though I’m giant and exhausted and insanely emotional.  It was like this with Serena too.  But I imagined that the second one would be different, given that I’ve done it before.  Nope.  Still unfathomable to me that in about four weeks, I will have a SON.  A tiny human will emerge through my vagina and depend on me for EVERYTHING.  Whoa.  And he will be oozing with the fresh scent of Heaven.

 

Okay, I guess this is the part where I just breathe.  Dunno what else to do now.  Oh, except to keep being earth-shatteringly sweet to myself.

 

From my heart,

Athena Grace

 

Sunlight and Sweet Relief

Mmmm somebody at the table next to me is wearing aftershave.  As a kid, I used to relish watching my dad shave before work (swing shift in the casino!).  He’d squirt a shamelessly generous poof of Barasol beard buster shaving cream into his hand, spread it about his five o’clock shadow and go to town with his blue bic razor.  Fast and focused.  I’m sure he could have performed this ritual in the dark.  Then he’d rinse, dry and pat his tender, virgin cheeks with enchanting, blue splash of Aqua Velva.  To my seven year old self, this was the scent of a man.

 

Smell.  So powerful.  A memory orbiting a distant moon, suddenly fallen like a smoldering comet in my nostalgic lap.

 

I’m happy today.  And profusely hoping that I can ride this wave all the way to shore.  Wishing said shore was days away.  One of my earth angels, Dianne, said that with sunlight and a heart that says yes, I am a force to be reckoned with.  I feel that today.

 

I feel that filled with this happiness, I can do ANYTHING.  I feel wealthy and bold and creative.

 

Even though I barely slept.  Sleep is not my forte lately.  Most nights, I fall asleep with Serena in her bed… wake an hour later, pee (at this point, I spend half my life peeing) and then snuggle like a soft, squishy animal into bed with Giordano.  At which point, I rest into the weight of my struggle and the suppressed force of my Desires.  He is exhausted and quickly becomes a virtuoso performance of gentle snores.  I lay in his arms, envious of his ability to relax and release, calling out to an unresponsive God to fucking help me.

 

How’s THAT for glamorous?

 

Quite frankly, in this moment it DOES seem a bit glamorous.  Angels in heaven don’t have such privilege and pleasure.  WE get to swill grit and darkness by the cup-full.  WE get to embody a spectral depth of poetry that cannot be fabricated or feigned.  Of course I can only say this because my Merciful Lord hath lifted me to “the surface” for a generous hit of sunlight and existential relief.  From here, the depth of my Journey looks stunning.

 

I AM so thankful for my people.  If I died in this moment, my heart would explode like a huge cream-filled balloon and your BEingness would shatter and refract as rainbow sunlight in every direction throughout all space.  I’m feeling you all.  Seeing your faces, hearing your unique music curl like incense smoke throughout my Infinity Within.  In the eyes of my ego, I am so imperfect… but in my love for you, I am limitless, pure and perfect.

 

I was suffering because Giordano has been WORKING.  He leaves early in the morning, and returns home at bedtime.  During the day, he sends me loving little audio messages.  Nothing fancy.  He’s not a poet.  Nor excessively feminine.  But his heart is sincere.  This makes me miss him and want more….

 

We planned a sunday trip to the “seaside” (adorably, that’s what he calls “the beach”)  and sweetly anticipated it all week.  I can’t recall a single time since I’ve been in Italy, where we’ve done something together and had a harmonious, nourishing, pleasurable experience… mostly it’s hard to connect, I feel lonely, we fight…

 

But still, I brought my Beginner’s Mind on Sunday.  When the rubber met the road, he was “nervous” (and mean as a biproduct).  And I was like, “Really???  We’ve been anticipating this beautiful day all week, and now THIS is the best you’ve got???”

 

But apparently it was….

 

As is often the case, he didn’t respond when I talked.  He interrupted me.  He complained and ruminated on things not of the Present.  He drank a small bottle of white wine with lunch, like he does on most of his few days off… as if this were a legitimate escape from the burden of his overactive mind.

 

Little by little over the course of the day, my heart closed.  Despite this, I strove to enjoy Serena’s refreshing, innocent company, let the sunlight and warmth recharge me, release my burdens to the salty, undulating sea.  I sort of succeeded… in a decapitated fashion.

 

But LISTEN.  I am NOT telling you all this to defame my husband.  I understand him pretty well… These days, he is living beneath an intensity of pressure that would break most mortals.  Considering this, he’s actually been pretty damn nice.  He’s breaking through some deeep-assed patterns of anger and cruelty.  Doesn’t mean I’m loving it… but my respect for him grows.  This is a big part of what makes me stay.  That, and his love for our unborn sun.  He loves our baby (and Serena) too much for me to leave without giving him a chance.  Though the notion of leaving is an unrelenting devil on my shoulder, who taunts and seduces me until I am stumble drunk on his hollow promises of happiness in distant lands.

 

Last night, we nestled into bed pregnant with The Unspoken.  Instead of passing out, he stayed with me.  Slowly we unraveled some profoundly unwieldy knots.  He impressed me with his capacity to receive my harsh honesty, and stay open.  I wish he was more consistent in this domain.  But perhaps, with practice he will be.  Because he didn’t used to be this good.

 

We talked until we were empty and united.  Then he asked if he could lick my…. Uh-huh.  I have been feeling so sexually shut down these days.  Depression and lack of trust is not exactly an aphrodisiac, as it turns out.  But what did I have to lose???

 

He rocked it.  In general, he has good technique… yet mostly, I feel like HE’S not loving it.  He’s just being courteous.  I’m all for courtesy… but there IS something to be said for The Zone.   The alchemical expanse where giver and receiver melt and meld into one sprawling puddle of pleasure.

 

I’m not gonna give you all the details of my sex life.

 

That’s not my point.  My point is that I don’t believe I should hide the full spectrum honesty of my existence out of shame and cultural conditioning.  Sex should be normalized and healthy and spoken of at LEAST as freely as struggles and fighting.  And another point is that talking shit out is rad.  I mean like super rad… but it can only get a couple so far.  The rest must be said with wordless lips, with touch and lust and passionate, embodied love.  I dare you to argue.

 

I awoke early this morning, and the freshly hatched day was a-flood with sunlight and the exotic, diverse songs of birds.  It also happens to be Giordano’s birthday.  My body was still brimming with pleasure.  I got up and made us coffee, brought it back to bed, and we tandemly geeked on our phones.  (As much as I despise it, my phone is a portal to so many loving connections.  Sigh.)  Oh, modern day romance… not too romantic.  But the Moral of the Story, is that I felt happy.  And leisurely.  Serena slept until 8am.  And I found myself laughing at the “problems” that usually plague me and sink my blessed ship.

 

Then I wrote it all down, and feel Brilliant.

 

May this wash of sweet relief sustain me for…

Days…

Or perhaps lifetimes.

 

Thank you for your LOVE.

Thank you for your Courage.

Thank you for Believing in me.

Thank you for BEing.

 

Love,

Athena

 

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