Good News. Bad News. Life. Death. And Always LOVE.

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I’ll start with the good news– I am madly in love with Serena lately.  She’s so damn cute and smart and… good.  Within the last week, she’s started walking!  She does gratuitous laps around the house, just for practice, wobbling like a drunken sailor.  I’m amazed by her tireless, perpetual motion.  I can tell she’s so proud of herself.  What a feat!  And God, she’s just such a happy person.  Happy and innocent and willing.  My heart feels marvelously crushed.  We made a pilgrimage to Auburn (an hour drive each way) yesterday to apply for passports.  (God willing, we are going to Bali this summer with Cosmic Dad!!!)  The whole drive, she was content and peaceful.  She held her new little stuffed bunny, and she kept saying “Soft.  Soft.  Soft.”  And “Eye.  Eye.  Eye.” (pointing to his eye)   And “Lap.  Lap.  Lap.” (She had him on her lap…)  Such a stimulating conversationalist!

It wasn’t too long ago that I was pulling my hair out and shaking my fist at the sky and wondering why in Grace’s good name I chose to be a mama.  I think because we were both stretching together, and let’s face it– sometimes stretching is uncomfortable.  Sometimes it can even make you tear and bleed and require copious amounts of stitches and a two night and three day “vacation” at the hospital.  (Yes, I’m talking about Serena’s birth.)  But now we have stretched into a space of heavenly resonance and relative ease.  Of course it is fleeting.  But all the more reason to enJOY it.

And speaking of stretching, now for the “bad news”.  While we were waiting for our turn to apply for passports, we “bipped” over to Target because I had a gift card and wanted to try on denim shorts.  Holy Lord in Heaven.  I looked AWFUL  in the dressing room mirrors.  And this is *not* something that I would normally say… because I have worked so hard to heal my self image and love my body.  But fuck.  My skin looked loose and lumpy and squished in gross places.  How in fuck’s name do they expect anyone to BUY anything when the glaring lights and soul-sucking ambiance make you look and feel so UGLY?    

Whoa.  This calls for a massive deep breath.  Because what a terrible thing to commit to a blank page.  Especially as a goddess and leader of the Love Revolution.  But sometimes a goddess just gotsta be honest!  It was traumatizing.  And confusing, too… because I’m almost back to the weight that I was before I got pregnant.  I was one twenty five… and now I’m one twenty eight or nine, depending on the time of day, size of my last meal and amount of exercise I’ve had.  Maybe that mirror was a government conspiracy in action.  Yeah, that’s probably it.  And listen, don’t misinterpret my share.  I’m not suffering about any of it.  It’s more of a fascination with the kaleidoscopic, psychedelic nature of perception.

And then there’s my dear, sweet mama… Her body is now a modest pile of ashes stowed away in the ornately carved, wooden chest I inherited from her when she ditched this crazy planet last month.  Ok, you’re right, the PLANET is not crazy.  She’s actually very sane.  It’s us damn HUMANS that are the nuts!  When I was doing mountains of paperwork at Chapel of the Angels, the mortuary where my Ma’s body was cremated, one form stated that they perform a separate process beyond burning, to pulverize the big chunks of bone that are left… Ha!  And I had to inscribe my initials alongside said statement to indicate that this was permissible by me!  Like, “Yes, I am aware that you will be pulverizing my mom’s bones after you burn her, and it’s totally groovy.”  SILLY!!!

In retrospect, I wish that I had’ve said NO!  I would’ve loved for her ashes to be laced with bone chunks… I could make jewelry out of them.  And arrange them with the crystals and river stones on my panoply of altars.  Am I being serious, or kidding?  Yeah… I’m not quite sure either.

But one thing I KNOW is that my Ma is laughing with me about her hopelessly pulverized bones.

And since we’re on the subject… how am I doing with the whole losing my Ma thang?  Not too bad.  When she was still alive, I used to imagine what it would be like when she was gone, and whimper to her about how much I’d miss her, and how it would suck ass not to be able to talk with her and laugh with her (and even get irritated with her!), daily.  Her immediate response was always, “I’ll still be with you.”  I hated this!  Like, easy for YOU to say, Woman, YOU’RE not the one who will be left behind!  The last thing you need to hear when facing the crushing reality of impermanence, is some woo-woo, conceptual, spiritual band-aid.

But she was right. (Did you hear that Ma???!!!)  She is still right here.  And her oh-so-elegant swan dive into the seductive pool of Infinity has transformed my perception of life and death and God and my Self.  I remember this particularly cray-zay angel I once knew, Hal… He used to say “the cat is alive AND dead”… or some sort of hippy, acid-head koan like that.  I never had any idea what the fuck he was talking about.  Until my mom left.  And now I feel that she is here.  And I am “there”.  And Time is a strange dream that *seems* to divide our limitless Self into a finite notion for a fleeting mOMent.  I know some part of you knows what the hell I’m saying.  Because we are all so immense.  But we must feign smallness as we wander this oddball dreamscape.  Or must we?…

I appreciate the spiritual expansion that my Ma gifted me in her passing.  It’s a relief.  To feel so intimate with Infinity… (while still completely riveted in and by this human dream)…

The day before she died, she reminisced about being at my dad’s dad (my grandpa)’s deathbed… His parting words were, “It’s all a mystery to me…”  She said he appeared truly befuddled.  I LOVE this!!!  I mean, his words sure do sum it up!!!… I have finally arrived at a vista of my existence, where I feel crystalline relief at the Mystery of it all.  I’ve exhausted myself enough times, trying to muscle through and do it (Life) MY way… Only to be disappointed, devastated, destroyed.  I finally get it.  Life/God is waaay more qualified to captain this ship.  Athena Grace just gets to be First Mate, whose primary task is TO LOVE.

…And to write it all down!  With eloquence, honesty, poetic persuasion and humor.  It’s actually a pretty cool arrangement.

Skull Splitting Revelation!

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Athena was born from Zeus’s head.  Everyone knows that.  But what everyone DOESN’T know, is what is born from Athena’s head!  Would you like to know?  Well then keep reading.  This is IT.  When I close my eyes, I’m seeing richly colored, dripping, psychedelic roses spiraling in fractals… but I’m not sure how these energy patterns will translate into a sophisticated patè of language.  All I know is that I haven’t written in ages, because my laptop keyboard stopped typing Rs.  Then it began to refuse giving up Ts, Ys, Us, Is and Os.  If I wasn’t already so broken down by having a baby with a married man with whom I am hopelessly in love and raising her totally by myself, and meanwhile having my own dear mother get cancer, I probably would have been destroyed by the loss of my keyboard.  No, not because of the inability to update my Facebook status!  Because I am a writer, and somehow it hasn’t been the same to cry out into the desolate throes of my (100% post-consumer recycled) notebook.

But my beloved and merciful friend Chandra gifted me a spare keyboard that was just sitting around her house mackin on Kentucky Fried Chicken and hacking advanced sudokus, while secretly lusting to be USED by genius fingers.  And now, here we are.  A match made in Graceland, which in fact IS Heaven’s most beloved annex.  And since we’re on the subject of Chandra, I’ll sing out that she is an answer to a prayer.  And NOT because she gave me her damn keyboard.  Although that was an answered prayer too.  She’s the nutrient dense, stick to your ribs kind of friend, which I’ve been sorely in the market for since God Almighty stationed me out here in the woods with all the detached (and wildly kind) renunciates.  I needed an outrageous friend who has equal parts reverence and irreverence.

I think someday I’ll start a writing school.  And shred the notion of stringent adherence to Topic Sentences and Main Ideas and all the dumb shit they ground into my tightly sealed skull, before by God’s Amazing Grace, it split open and spilled in linguistic rivers onto the endless pages of Athena Graceland.  Sure, it’s grand to have organized thoughts.  To be able to reach out and semi-softly meet the mind of the reader (yes, YOU), and shepherd you to exalted Somewhere.  But… most often that’s NOT how minds work.  Obsessive organization doesn’t reconcile the pulsing myriad dimensions that beckon and burn to be churned by willing eyes and minds.  Maybe I’ll tighten my reigns when I take the plunge into “Profesional-ISM”, and write articles for “respectable publications”.  I’ll make my mind so trim and tidy and presentable.  And people will think I’m so very civilized and they’ll fork over civilized amounts of money so that I can join a country club and take up tennis and Jacuzzi.

But in the mean time, this, folks is the raw, feisty wilderness.  And if you enroll at the Athena Graceland Academy of Writing, you too can claim the flaming authority of your own essential voice and say it with an unapologetically loose and liberated tongue.

I might as well mention that I’m finally reading a book by Hemingway.  I thought since I take occasional delight in poking fun at the notion of “Hemingway Simple” here in Athena Graceland, I ought to know what the hell “Hemingway Simple” actually was.  I’m reading The Sun Also Rises.  And honestly, I find “Hemingway Simple” quite complicated.  And compelling.  I’ve made it to page ninety one, and while I am struck by his masterful ability to move a story forward at a rapid, rhythmic clip, hooking my mind with every glistening string of words and punctuation marks, I will say that I am having to scrape the crusty edges of my seriously limited interest in inhabiting a literary microcosm of tragically casual drunks who talk circles and squiggles around their heartfelt and honest experience.  I’ve spent my whole adult life cultivating the capacity to articulate and embody my emotional intelligence, and often kept company with those who also value and aspire to such integrated presence.  It’s gently frustrating to be held voluntarily captive inside the ancient, sturdy pages of a book full of privileged, careless (though certainly not “care free”) drunks.  I guess that’s the essence of the 1920s.  I s’pose it’s good to keep company with different types… plus I am exploring my passion-drenched craft.  My Ma beseeched me not to strive to become like Hemingway, but to stay true to my integral voice.  Her bright acknowledgment warmed me.  But I’d still like to learn from his flavor of Mastery and become better.  I ALWAYS want to become better.

And praise the Luminous Lord for this unexpected opening into further territory of my recent thought scapes.  Yesterday morning, my mind was ravenous for a spiritually satisfying snack, so I dug deep into the bowels of the brimming notebook in which I immortalized Matt Kahn’s profound, sanctified genius, back in November.  He said that passion is NOT contingent upon doing your dream job or any other explicit external conditions.  Like, I can be as impassioned as I do my cooking and cleaning jobs (grimace) as I would be if I were a famous writer.  Now THAT is some psychedelic shit.  He said passion is the ability to meet each day as a brand new lifetime.

If you’ve ever lived with a one year old, you know that as soon as you clean up the toys they gratuitously splashed all about the living room floor, they swoop in like a Tasmanian Devil to reestablish a state of despicable chaos.  The ULTIMATE zen koan of my current existence is HOW in the Lord’s hella Good name do I pick up Serena’s collection of miniature Bearenstein Bears books for the zillionth time in a day… WITH PASSION???

This is the Mystery of my Existence.  And the Key to the elusive yet obvious door of my Enlightenment.  Can “enlightenment” be possessed?  “My Enlightenment”?  Probably the stiff, robed traditionalists among us would poo-poo that notion.  But at the risk of sounding ignorant and ego-bound, I’m going to vote for measure FY.  Fuck yes.  I can blissfully posess a humble little slice of real-estate in this rightfully glorified state.  And I will wave it with gay ostentacity (Yes, I made up that word!  At the Athena Graceland Academy of Writing, we encourage such brash authority.  As long as it clearly portrays the world tumbling forth from your mind.  Think about it– this is how all language came to be.  SOMEONE took the self-appointed liberty of authority… and all the drunk and slumber-glazed sheep followed along, mindlessly munching cud.) in your blinking, slack-jawed face on the inevitable, reality-splicing day when I embody passion as I put those damn books back in their outrageously shiny, pink pouch.

Did I get carried away?  Totally.  But it was fun.  And I want to live with unhinged, unreasonable and perfectly shameless passion.  Matt Kahn also said “what if THIS (the life you are in, as opposed to the life you oft wish you were in) is what I want and I just don’t know it?”  The more I contemplate this, the more I am certain that this is the Life I want.  Dings, bruises, cleaning jobs and sprawling string of disappointments and heartbreaks included.  It’s pretty great.  I could write a whole blog, if not an odyssey on this topic… I will.  And it will crack you open to the ultimate realization of the sublime perfection of your raw Existence.   But for now, I’ll leave it at this:

Yes, the Life I have IS the Life I want.

How’s THAT for skull splitting revelation?!

To Tell You the Truth…

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

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

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

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

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

It felt horrible to squeeze her little arm.

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

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

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

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

Things that go “Fuck” in the Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe someday I’ll change.

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

I remember that this is as God as it gets.

And yet…

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

The best is yet to come.

Love is the Way.

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

And be birthed into Love Itself, a gazillion more…

Inhale.  Exhaaaale.

Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With sincere blessings from my heart,

Athena Grace LMNOP

Taking Sweet Refuge in Athena Graceland

I’ve been blessed with a stellar opportunity to write six *paid!* articles on motherhood, for a chiropractor friend’s website.  I’ve written four so far, and I have been very satisfied with them.  But then Serena turned four months alive, and suddenly my brain has gone missing!  The fifth one was gonna be about the immense potential of raising a girl, given all that I have gone through on my journey, and can now offer to her as profound empowerment.  And how this empowerment can ultimately heal and transform the world in the way of LOVE.  I am so ignited by this “sermon”… but somehow, despite the well of passion pressing on my heart from inside, I am failing hard!  I have written it FOUR times.  Each flush contains exquisite gems… but…  I feel like I am trying to decant the Ocean in a flimsy crystal champagne flute, which is a massive endeavor… and then my little Buddha-fairy calls to me from the bedroom and my concentration on this task is decimated.  My mind is a freshly shattered mirror, and when you try to behold your own face within it, you have a thousand eyes and a hundred and eight gaping, perplexed mouths.  Which might be interesting for a second, but ultimately, you need a soft, linguistic sanctuary for your mind to rest after bushwhacking through the underbrush of popular culture and wifi signals, concrete and an overpopulation of stiff right angles!  On one hand, it’s wildly frustrating… but it’s also pretty fascinating.  It’s a new experience for me to feel so clumsy with words and ideas.

So Athena Graceland is once again my hallelujah-refugee camp.  A place where I don’t have to make sense, or sound erudite and literarily competent.  (Although I often do…just by accident! 😉  The only requirement here in this psychedelic wilderness, is to BE ME, which thankfully, I can still muster, even as the mother of a four and a half month alive baby saint.  You think I’m kidding… I’m not.  I’m pretty sure all baby saints behaved as Serena does… with so much grace and patience, effulgent joy and serenity.  Yep, Saint Serena is super rad and I’m marinating in thanksgiving.  But this doesn’t make the job of caring for her any less labor intensive.  God, my body feels suddenly OLD!  Creaky and sore and weatherbeaten.  Is this why women are supposed to have babies at twenty, rather than thirty six??  Or is it just because I am doing it 98% alone, while earning a meager living doing physically demanding jobs, such as cooking and cleaning, which a) takes it’s toll, and b) doesn’t leave me excess cash flow to fund such replenishing activities as massage, yoga classes, luxurious laps at the local pool…. I still have hope for these things and more.  They would do me oodles of good.

I wish I was bringing in plentiful dollars via the use of my incredible mind and courageous, infinitely loving heart, versus my poor tin-woods-woman body, which has hopelessly misplaced the oil can right about now.  I have so many gifts and talents of the heart and mind… but I just haven’t quite figured out how to “monetize them”… and honestly, writing that made me puke in my mouth, because I still feel grossed out that I should have to monetize my love.  I just want it to happen for me like it happened for my all-time-hero, Matt Kahn.  He totally “seeked ye first the kingdom of Heaven”…. and all else was added unto him.  He didn’t sit around strategizing who his target audience of wounded SUCKAS was, and how to seduce their imagined weakness.  He tended the garden of his heart with steadfast, meticulous passion and suddenly… POOF!!!  Life demanded that he share all that he found with those who were hungry to Remember.  That’s the only way life makes sense to me.  I will just keep stepping deeper into LOVE… and my life will become what it must, as I die to myself and am ever re-born into the heart of Infinity.  I just can’t stomach all that marketing bullshit.  It’s basically feeding off of peoples’ culturally conditioned myths of brokenness, and capitalizing on it!!!!  That’s not okay with me.  I’d rather make them soup in my Shakti Pot, and just get by….

But I know there’s another way.  I know there’s a way for us all to thrive by communing in our Infinite Light… Celebrating our unique, masterful divinity….

In the mean time, I am chopping the shit out of wood and carrying the F out of water.

And I am mostly hella happy.  My body is just a bit stressed.  And I am feeling stretched.  And as aforementioned, my mind is curiously shattered… at least when I put pressure on myself to make sense… cuz this makes sense, right?  It makes perfect sense to ME…

Saint Serena the Benevolent is really allowing me to get into it this morning!!!… which is another ridiculous irony.  When I’m trying to write my articles, she wakes up before I can pull my mind together into a unified field of genius… But when I’m writing for my own cosmic shits and giggles, she snoozes away like Sleeping Beauty!  But I’m just watching the whole insane play unfold… and laughing about it all.  Even when I cry.  Like yesterday evening…

I had just led sadhana… (The two hours a week that I exist as Athena Grace… Not “Serena’s Mama”.)  I was walking along the red dirt path back to my car, who I named “Faith”, but my Ma insists on calling “Hakim”, because the license plate says HKM!!!!!  That woman amazes me in the best way…  Because her gratuitous rebellion simultaneously PISSES ME OFF and CRACKS ME UP.  Like, Mom, can’t you just call the damn car Faith, already???  And also, don’t stop calling her Hakim, because it strikes up a symphony of funny bones in me, that ONLY my Ma is able to….

But, so, (yes, I know it’s not traditionally “literarily masterful” to start a sentence with “But, so,”… but it felt like the appropriate beginning, so I went with it.) the evening is IN-TOX-I-CATING.  It’s not quite twilight…. But the world is beginning to blush in cool, ultra lucid tones.  Flocks of regal pine trees sweep the deepening sky, and the air feels like womb-esque perfection– neither warm nor cold, just deliciously alive.  This unsayable beauty suddenly reminds me of a poem written by my deceased friend and lover Dan… Something about realizing the meaninglessness of all that he once feverishly chased… uniting with the Truth of Existence– to bear ecstatic witness to the Light that fills the world each new day.

I start to feel the Dan shaped hole in my heart, tears sting my eyes, and I release myself into the heart of the emotion, like a white dove, tossed into the air, suddenly liberated in the invisible currents of space.  I reflect on the amazing conversations we shared over amazing food and wine, long, meandering walks on blessed beaches, through holy woods and vibrant green scapes of scintillating springtime.  And also the ways that he annoyed me– sometimes talking for days, as though he’d never been listened to in his whole life, which flooded me with a helpless feeling of energetically drowning in seemingly endless and desperate garlands of (beauty-full) words, worlds, stories.  This twisty, frivolous wander backward caused  me to muse… what WAS it about Dan???…. that compelled me with such immensity…?  His HEART, the immediate knowing flooded in.  His heart was the softest, most gentle, wise, generous compassionate space in all Creation.  Resting in its sanctuary was like being swaddled in chinchilla fur.  I could cry now, just thinking of his heart.  And his voice reflected it perfectly.  So soft, soothing, gentle.  Ok, now I am officially crying.  And his hands…. perfect extensions of his wide, infinite heart.  They spilled with healing love.  They touched to the core, without even trying.

Then I thought about all the hearts that I get to commune with every day of my life…. Legendary hearts.  And I’m not exaggerating.   My Ma.  Ed.  Serena.  Ken.  Dara.  Deirdre.  Karuna.  Gosh, it’s stupid to list them, because the list would never end.  I am lucid dreaming in an explosive eternal spring garden of glorious hearts.  My life is a stream of holy communion (sometimes playfully concealed by silly “problems”, misgivings and futile hopes…)

I am laughing at the one who used to believe that spiritual awakening would be like getting high… Like if I “meditated hard enough”, my third eye would explode into a psychedelic fractal of kaleidoscopic lights, and my body would rush and dissolve in tingling ecstasy.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, that would be pretty damn cool…  But I’m not renouncing my miraculously mundane existence in this Garden of Hearts, in order to stalk that fleeting, unsustainable “peak experience”.  I remember when I heard the spiritual AllStar, Wayne Dyer say, “Man must chop wood and carry water”… I was like hella bummed.  I secretly hoped he might be wrong.  Chopping wood and carrying water seemed a prison sentence to me.

But here I am, chopping the shit out of wood and carrying the F out of water….

And feeling more sustained, mellow ecstasy, contentment and peace than I ever imagined I could.

And maybe SOMEday, somehow, I will find myself delightfully inhabiting a version of my perfectly blessed life, where I am abundantly sustained by the gifts of my heart and mind, as I blissfully serve the bursting hearts of Humanity.  That would be so awesome.

Amen.

And the Winner is… Athena!!!!!

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Do you know why it’s been three weeks since I last exploded into linguistic existence here in Athena Graceland?  Because…. Serena turned four months alive.  Now she’s not just this tender and mild little suckling lump who lays in my lap while I hurl inspired words, like lightning (look Mom, I spelled it right just for YOU!!!) bolts across a wide splayed, glowing page.  If she was in my lap right now, she’d be doing these adorable little baby crunches– lurching her head and shoulders forward, like she was trying with all her blessed might to sit up.  Over and over again.

Baby work.  It is actually very inspiring to watch… Because it reminds me that even though we “grown ups” imagine ourselves to be so much more civilized and complex, we really are spiritual babies, executing similarly remedial, repetitive exercises… but we clothe them in grandiosity so that we can feel important.  Oh gosh, now’s the moment when giving an example would really thrust me into the domain of a “better writer”… It would give your mind some concrete cud to munch.  Gosh, I want to be the best writer in the world.  Honestly, I think I am.  I read old blogs of mine and my eyes turn to electric pink, throbbing hearts.  If I wasn’t me, I would obsess over me.  I would dream of meeting and befriending me… I’d imagine going to a book release event of mine, where I would do everything in my power to get my attention… and hope that I would notice me and realize that we were kindred spirits, and even though I didn’t have the miraculous linguistic gift that I did… that my heart and mind shared the same audacious, psychedelic heart vision… and we should be bffs who have pillow fights and whipped cream wars and stay up all night playing Truth or Dare and Dance Dance Revolution.

Actually, I hate staying up all night.  I don’t play video games, and I don’t even know what a whipped cream war IS… but it sounds like moderately inappropriate, over the top fun.  And furthermore, I’m NOT gonna give you that stupid example of how humans are like undercover babies, because it’s not pleasurable enough for me, and I am here to ENJOY myself, even at the expense of coming across as a SPAZzz.    Because this enchanted place ain’t called “Athena Graceland” for nuttin’.  It’s a matriarchal society of One.  And I guess even if I remain my number One-and-Only fan for the rest of eternity, that’s okay.  Actually, writing that made my heart sad.  I want lots of people to recognize my genius as I do.  Well, my mom does too… And Dan did.  And maybe a couple of other people.

Arg.  Five fifty two am, and I hear Serena making the most adorable patient baby sounds from the bedroom.  She was supposed to sleep until at least six thirty.  Welcome to my new life: an incessant land-sliding game of catch-up, at which I am guaranteed to lose, but even though it’s mildly frustrating, I really don’t ultimately care, because I have the most sublime, buddha-full daughter, and deep down I know that loving and caring for her is all that matters.  The rest is just hollow details that I chase because they are part of inhabiting fifth dimensional space-time.

I just went into the bedroom to round up the said bundle of delight.  My surface waves were grumpy, because it was too early, and I needed more time to myself.  But then (and this happens every time I turn toward her blazing Light) I opened the bedroom door and found her gracefully flailing and beaming beneath the soft, thick covers.  When I haven’t beheld her for an entire cluster of moments and then I do, I feel re-amazed and wholly rapt by her exquisite luminosity.  And as if that was not enough, she reached out and touched my face.  This is a new thing.  She really loves to touch my face.  And she extra loves when I kiss her tiny, devastatingly soft, expectant hand.  Or gobble it up.  Sometimes that makes her laugh, and she wants me to do it again and again and again and again and…. Haha, that’s the exhausting beauty of children.  They never seem to tire of that which thrills them.

She’s sucking on my boob now.  My right hand is prickly and half asleep as I type– a new condition I’ve acquired since the commencement of “side-lying nursing” at night.  Frown.  The things “they” don’t tell you about motherhood.  And if they DID, it wouldn’t even matter, because raising a beaming buddha that grew from Miraculous Nothing inside my very own womb, is the best thing in all of Creation.  Hands down.

Oh dear, I think my little goose is going to fall back asleep on my lap.  She just needed a BIG snack.  And to be close to mama.  Ok… well that’ll work out swell until the coffee in my system demands that I get up and pee.  Yes, I drink coffee some mornings.  I’m not the perfect, crunchy, new-age mama.  But Serena doesn’t seem to get whacked out, or spit up or anything that would indicate that it sucks for her…And like Jesus says, “don’t bother hurling no stones unless you are entirely flawless”.

I want to tell you that I’m… I was gonna say “happy”… but I guess that’s not entirely accurate.  Sometimes I feel anxious or lonely or slightly bored.  Maybe “content”, or “at peace”, or… “saturated in gratitude”… would sum it up better.  Mostly I am a blazing YES to my life.  I’m surprised at how satisfied I am, making soup in my “Shakti Pot” for a living.  Yes, one day a week, I make a big pot of delicious, nourishing vegan soup, and deliver it to the homes of delighted “re-soup-iants”.  This is the primary way I am “making ends meet”, as a single mama at this time.  It really feels good to offer a service that people appreciate.  I honestly love being domestic.  And creative.  But then I get scared that my “contentment” will stagnate, like lucid spring pools that become slimy, mosquito lava-laden, summer puddles, and I will remain anonymously snoogled in the woods with my daughter, making soup for a meager living FOREVER!  But then I remember one of Dan’s primary gospels– that living fully in the mOMent will always carry one gracefully along the sacred River of Life.  I won’t get caught in an eddy for too long.  Although I HAVE been caught in an Eddie for four years now!  Haha!  But I even feel free from the Eddie eddy by now.  Being a mother, I don’t have the time or energy to invest in fashioning a world of woven hopes and wispy “someday”s… It’s perfect.  I neither push him away, nor pull him to me.  I just love him.  Really that’s all there ever is to do.

God?  Please make sure that I don’t get stuck or stagnant while I’m busy over here practicing the advanced art of contentment, as well as meeting the demands of day to day existence.  Seriously… I’m putting myself in your hands.  Don’t drop me!

Gosh, I don’t thing this was my most “knock you backwards with my profound genius” blog… but I showed up.  And kept the pipes clear.  Now Serena is doing her aforementioned “baby sit-ups”, and I’ve got to organize my existence around her needs and desires.  Plus today is Shakti Pot, so I’ve gotta get my “African Peanut Soup” on pretty soon.  So I guess this is ciao for now.  I really hope there is a prestigious award for showing up today… Because I’d really love to be a winner this morning, even though I don’t feel like I nailed it like I love to nail it.  I guess I’m a winner for loving my daughter with my whole heart.  And the innocence in me, as well… And paying the rent on time.  And keeping my house tidy and mostly shri.  And maintaining a relatively consistent yoga practice.  I hope I can get it together to plant a little spring garden…

Being a single mama is the perfect life for me right now.  I am evolving so profoundly.  Oops, gotta go, I hear them singing out my name at the award ceremony…!!!

Love to your precious heart….

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