The Ultimate Soul Workout

wonderwoman

Life begins the day you realize it’s meant to be hard.

At least for ME, that’s how it went down.

Being an etherial new-age baby, I struggled a bunch, clutching a dazzling-law-of-attraction-belief that Life was supposed to be easy… and then meeting so many unwieldy mOMents, and intense feelings, and not knowing what to do or be to make my Life submit and behave in the way of ease.  God, it is such an uphill climb.

The crucial point lurking in this hypothesis though, is that at a soul level, this sloppy, unwieldy struggle one of the Heavenly Lord’s all-time greatest boons.  To incarnate in this arduous dimension is heavyweight strength training!  Who wants to be a gorgeous, sparkling, winged mirage, fluttering insouciantly about in a revealed rendition of Heaven… when you could be attending the BEST costume party in the galaxy… suiting up in a nice dense meat sack and pushing figurative boulders up custom-fashioned metaphorical mountains, developing sweet, spiritual six-packs and bulging biceps of the soul?  We really have our priorities dialed in, down here on earth.

Plus, we get to drink tea and coffee!!!  I bet that is the tipping point for many incarnate angels.

Lately, I’ve been having a hot and heavy wonder what it would be like to inhabit my Life with a relaxed internal poise… a *genuine* and full bodied acceptance of the reality in which I marinate.  Because mostly, there’s this whole consuming layer of experience that occurs like agitation.  Like the cursed grain of sand inside the holy oyster shell of my existence.  A destructive, gnawing idea that I’m partially living the WRONG life.  Just partially.  There are SOME elements that are oh-so-right… Really key ones~ like that I’m Athena Grace… and that I have the *most* awesome baby girl.  Now that I’m endeavoring to articulate it, I realize that I LOOOOVE who I AM… I’m just struggling with the process of ACTUALIZING the raw blueprint of my soul.  And searching for that deep sense of Belonging, of hOMe.  God, I hope there’s a phat pink pearl in the works…

And hence, we come full circle to the opening statement of this gloriously enlightened stream of words~ this is the resistance training that I enthusiastically came to partake in.  How to be this AWESOME, luminous heavenly body IN A MEAT SUIT, and masterfully sculpt Infinite Light into a soul-satisfying, consciousness-liberating, Love-revealing, integrity-infused, breath-giving work of sacred art.  I mean think about it… doesn’t that sound like the BEST vacation for God to take???  Yeah.  Totally.

But in the mean time, here I am… wishing I had the utterly fabulous Partner by my side.  A loving, devoted father for Serena.  I am haunted by visions of being a powerful, spiritual leader and a beloved and widely read writer of grace-stained words that liberate ALL HEARTS.  Feeling stuck in this cloistered spiritual community in the woods, that though wrought with kindness, safety and even friendship… isn’t the path that ignites passion in my heart, or pure resonance in my soul.  I feel guilty typing that… because God… people here have embraced me beyond what I could have hoped for.  Typing that made my eyes sting.  Lemme take a deepie (breath)… and really let this Grace sink in.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself how I’d define Grace… Because it’s my last name, for God’s sake!  And it’s like the air we breathe… invisible, and something we don’t even have to think about… because it’s always nearer to us than our own selves… But… it’s still handy to have a distinguished notion of this essential and beneficent ISness.

Grace…

It’s the Invisible Oceanic Goodness in which we ARE.  We don’t have to earn it… and we couldn’t escape it if we tried.  The tricky part, is that Grace is responsible not only for that which we deem “good” in our lives, but the “bad” stuff too. Under the inescapable, psychedelic umbrella of Grace, EVERYTHING we live is Divinity in action, and is conspiring for the outrageous and triumphant unfurling revelation of the sublime heavenly light within us.

I guess that’s why Hafiz wrote this poem:

Running

Through the streets

Screaming,

Throwing rocks through windows,

Using my own head to ring

Great bells,

Pulling out my hair,

Tearing off my clothes,

Tying everything I own

To a stick,

And setting it on

Fire.

What else can Hafiz do tonight

To celebrate the madness,

The joy,

Of seeing God

Everywhere!

Sigh… Grace is God.  And God is ALL… And yet, knowing all this, I am still perched cozily on my couch in the pale light of dawn, wondering how in the heck to make my life what I want it… digging so deep to crack the code of the mystifying dynamism between effort and surrender.  Is my Destiny inevitable???  Or is it true what Tori Amos told my ex-fiance, the night we met her, shining like a riveting Goddess Mirage?  He asked her, “Do you believe in Destiny?”

Her reply~ “She needs your help.”

I want to help Her…

I want to bench press the World in the name of Love.  In the name of giving EVERYTHING to liberate the flame of passion that burns inside me, such that it ignites the World in holy celebration.

This is the “meaning of Life”.  And it is supposed to be hard!

But it is the most gratifying workout in Existence.

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Scorpion Medicine and the Life of my Dreams

scorpion8

Late friday night, I was shocked awake by a hot, electric sting on my inner right forearm.  It took my brain a minute to land back in the reality of my bed… but when I did, I realized something must have bit me.  I flicked on red-bulbed bedside lamp and was horrified to discover a small black scorpion on my pink pillowcase!  For real.  Gingerly, I picked up my pillow and carried it to the bathroom sink, flicked the fierce little creature into the sink and ran the water until I was sure he was well on his way back to the Underworld.  Crawling into bed again was terrifying, because I was sure that it must be teeming with feisty scorpions, whose sole aim was to take greedy bites out of me.  But I was exhausted, so I braved the warm, cozy scorpion pit.  I texted Ed, because I was rattled and needed immediate support.  I also googled scorpion stings, and discovered, to my relief that there are more than fifteen hundred varieties of scorpions, and only twenty five of them are lethal.  Somehow I knew that this little guy was more machismo than anything else.  It took a while, but I fell back asleep and live happily ever after.

In the morning, it occurred to me that he might have been a humble Divine Messenger, so I googled “scorpion medicine”.  Yes, he came with the message of death and rebirth; letting go of what is no longer serving.  Just before I had fallen asleep, my heart was flooded with pain, and I had texted Ed, “You know you have caused a lot of pain”… referring to myself and his wife.  He made no reply, and I drifted into slumber with those words reverberating in the underworld of my consciousness.  Then I had been shocked awake by a sharp pain in my arm.

Realizing his sacred, selfless intent, I flooded with guilt that I had drowned him.  He was only trying to get my attention, and confirm that indeed it was time to release all hope of happily ever after with Ed.

Well… that’s not quite accurate.  I believe that Ed and I CAN live happily ever after… but not as husband and wife, Lady and Lord of Graceland.  I PRAY that we can sustain our love and friendship…FOR SERENA.  We will always be her parents.  Deep down, I wanted an “Always Connection” with Ed, because the love we share is powerful and I never wanted to let it go.  I pray from the depths of my soul that we may redefine happily ever after, in a way that suits the needs of the highest evolution of each of our souls.

But I’m sick of being smashed to pieces by disappointment.  It’s been nearly four years of such obliterating sport.  Now, a new calling is dawning in the deep, dark, Unmanifest within me.  I am called to my Dharma.  My sacred work in the World.  And I must liberate the energy that has been tied up in the exhausting cycle of hope, longing and devastation.  It’s weird.  We have tried to “break through” more times than I have fingers and toes… but there has been this invisible forcefield that has kept us together.  I guess God flipped the switch on this electric fence, because suddenly it is… almost easy.  I say “almost”, just because I am still navigating that outrageously delicious grief cycle:  anger and bargaining and blah blah blah.  I sure know how to have a blast down here on Earth.

It’s ridiculous being a spiritually inclined person (to state it mildly), spilling with a wealth of wise and practical teachings… and yet…in some scorching moments, NONE OF THEM can lift me above the very remedial human slop of clutching my delusions.  There is something gorgeous and refreshing about this.  There is no escape hatch.  I must brave the thorny, emotional underbrush and be humbled by the Journey that is mine to make.

This is so profound, that I will start a new paragraph, just to reiterate.  This paragraph stands as a monument erected for the profundity of the sacred necessity to submit to one’s Life.  It’s like when you’re out for a fabulous swim in the ocean… just frolicking like a carefree and even slightly cocky mermaid, and suddenly a huge wave pummels your azz, and all you can do is submit to the undertow, relax, and wait for it to deliver you to the surface again, according to its own, unified, mystic rhythm.

And therein lies the haunting and mystic face of death.

The ocean could easily take one’s Life (She DID swallow our Beloved Brian Baker…)  Now I must forfeit the Life that the little me has been clutching.  Trust me, I have held on as long as I possibly could (and I have the battle scars to prove it).  This is the essence of spiritual awakening.  But it is one thing to “know it”… and another thing to live it.  Knowing is not enough.  I want to be ground to holy fairy dust, that I may rise victorious rarefied, realized Light, and truly be of Service to this World.  Of course there are other agendas that want to have a say… so I must not be glittery dust yet.  Sigh.  But I AM getting there!  People, hear me when I testify that I am working so damn hard to figure out how to navigate this Life with Divine Intelligence.  Toiling to discover when it’s right to surrender, and when to bleed and sweat and fight.

It’s such a ridiculous journey… knowing deep down that God’s Plan for my Life is fashioned from a pattern of infinitely intelligent LOVE… and that MY plan is only crafted from scrappy impressions of my past… God’s imagination is Unlimited and Wild and Ultimately Benevolent (yes, even and *especially* when, to the ego, it “hurts”).  Mine is endearingly crippled.

I type these words with an aching heart, tears burning my eyes and gingerly streaming down my cheeks.  My guiding light, Matt Kahn said that someone once asked him, “It seems like you feel good all the time”, to which he replied, “I feel LIFE all the time.”  He said he has come to a sincere place Inside where no emotion is better or worse than another.  It is all God.  As a result of this sincere, awakened surrender, he no longer experiences highs and lows.  He is a pure stream of healing Divine Love.  So… Let me practice this wholehearted willingness to live as profound openness.  God, if you want to caress your own Body of Infinity through me as this deep pool of sorrow, I offer myself completely.  I boldly declare that there is ONLY LOVE, masquerading as every feeling and form and nuance of Life.  And so I offer myself completely to be played by your Holy Music… whether I like it or not.  I trust you God.  And I offer myself to the Life you are Destined to Live through me.  I am sure it will just keep getting more amazing and miraculous.

I used to want an “easy Life”.  Not anymore.  I want transformative Life that serves and inspires ALL HEARTS, and lifts the consciousness of the World.

The Ultimate Alchemy

RadiantHeart

Do you reckon that lead was loafing around one day and suddenly got a bug up his butt to make something more of himself?  Do you think he daydreamed obsessively about a noble and unknowable Destiny that lived in the secret blueprints of his elemental DNA?  And all at once, he had a divine lightning impulse to leap into an inferno, seal off all the exits, and die an excruciating and slow death?

I doubt it.

I am lead.  Except I DO have a bug up  my butt to Become a golden embodiment of the pristine glory of Heaven.  And even though I thirst for this compelling Destiny from the depths of my soul, I’m not feeling entirely gracious and patient in this stuffy, hot, sealed container.  I keep trying to bust the lid off… I keep trying to control the thermostat.  But when did lead ever become gold, behaving like that???  There’s a lot I don’t know.  But I DO know the answer to that question:  NEVER.

Oh, and actually, I know one more thing… I *will* become Go(l)d.  We all will.  And we all already are, but we mostly try to pretend otherwise.  What a frivolous game.  But I wouldn’t be able to sit here on my couch, sipping delicious tea and typing these confounded, exploratory and poetically persuaded words if the Game wasn’t ON.  Sure, Life is hard work… but it’s worth it.  It’s a pretty “neat” set-up.  (As an aficionado of words, with a reverence for their nuanced potent capacity for sculpting reality, I got off on saying “neat”… because it’s so ordinary.  But sometimes the best option is the worn-in, comfy jeans… “intentionally casual”…)

There I go again, spiraling out into those far-out rings of vast conceptuality.  Don’t just SIT there!… Reel me IN!!!  Make yourself useful over there!!!  ;-p

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

I often joke about being “Hemingway simple”… but I’ve never even read him.  That’s his first line from The Old Man and the Sea…  Okay, now it’s my turn.

Lately it is clear to me that Life is in charge, and yet, again and again, I watch my small self step into the ring and try to wrastle It to the dusty ground.  I never win.  I just end up angry and sad and hopelessly tangled in elective torture.

Athena!  That was NOT Hemingway simple.  Yeah, well, guess what?  I’m NOT Earnest Hemingway.  I’m Athena Grace LMNOP.  And I’m trying so hard to be my best.  Hey!  In the reflection of my computer screen, I can see the dawning day out my kitchen window… hummingbirds zoom and buzz around the feeder, and then whizz off into the bright sky.  See?  This is the frivolous stuff that makes Life so heart-wrenchingly worth it.  Hummingbirds and glitter glue and breastfeeding.  Hemingway probably didn’t care much about such sacred frivolities.  And then he shot himself…

Anyway, my Relationship with Ed seems to be a masterfully threaded garland of perpetual disappointments lately.  I mean it’s sort of always been that way.  But it’s like God turned up the thermostat in the last few months.  I stand up, I get smacked down.  I stand up, I get smacked down.  It’s a broken record.  Except I can’t help but suspect that it is a very intelligently, intentionally broken record.  Akin to our beloved friend Lead… all this fierce and decimating heat… is making something so fabulous out of me.  But I HATE IT!!!!!!  Hahahaha, it feels so frickin good to tell it like it is.  THIS, my Friends, is precisely why the Buddha said that Life is suffering.  Trust me, you can get as new-age spiritual bypassy and far-out as you wanna… but at some point, you’re gonna land with a humbling thud, right back in the center of your unwieldy and intelligently merciless body, heart and Life.  And it will hurt.  And you will love anyway.  (At least that’s MY hypothesis…)

I watch my darling little ego struggle to maintain a *false* sense of control as she is pummeled and scorched and hopelessly deranged.  I try to “break through” with Ed… as I have done a hundred and eight times before.  As if that will permit me to “win” the Game.  I’m not saying that we should stay together…. I honestly have no clue what “should” happen.  What I do know, is that we care for each other deeply… we are eternally in Service to one anothers’ hearts… and most Hemingway simple, we have a child together, which will keep us practically bound for the rest of our lives.

I’m NOT politically inclined.  AT ALL.  But I’m no dummy.  Even with my head snuggled over here in this glittering, silky sand, I realize the World As We Know It is coming undone.  It fascinates me to witness collective consciousness, and how these universal energies and themes express and unravel so uniquely and creatively through each of our personal stories… We are ALL lead.  Go(l)d is beckoning us from Inside.  The heat is ON.  We need not fear, or try to be in control.  Love.  Love will show us the Way.  Love IS the Way.

I’ve always had this crippling tendency to want to BE THERE, without taking the (arduous) steps to get there.  No matter what the IT happens to be.  Lately it has been manifesting as impatience and a compelling itch to judge myself for not acting like the Master that I know I am Destined to become.  I want to be like Matt Kahn.  So fully given in Service of the Love that abides in all hearts… which is actually ONE HEART.  But instead I am riveted my little life, my futile battle in Relationship… And the endlessly gnawing question of how to become “Successful”… which to me looks like manifesting a career where I positively impact droves of hearts and make buttloads of money doing so.

Dear God… all these things I imagine to matter… that really don’t matter much at all.  Help me to be free, God.  Oh wait… YOU ARE.  THAT’S what this obliterating alchemy is all about.  And I have this idea like, if only I behaved like XYZ, it wouldn’t hurt so much.  But maybe there is no way to avoid pain.  Maybe pain is essential and holy.  Maybe I am doing it all PERFECT.

Maybe we ALL are.

And then she relaxed her body of sublimely sculpted stardust.  And then Infinity breathed her breath so slow and deep.  And Success gently danced down upon her like the first sparkling snowflakes of winter, cooly kissing an enchanted forest.

I might be clumsy more often then I want to… but my essential truth is that all of my efforts and my fierce will to LOVE is for US.  I’m certain that the Light will emerge victorious.  Success is Love.  Love is Life.  Life is breaking us down… And this is the BEST news EVER.

Keep the Faith, my Friends.   Go(l)d is ours Destiny… and an exquisite, bright dawn is whispering her ecstatic light in every heart.  I promise.

Subtle, Soft-Spoken, Unfurling Enlightenment

It’s five thirteen am.  My body feels stiff as the tin-woods-woman.  My lips burn like they aspire to be chapped.  I want to say something profound, and this desire is corralling my my mind and crippling my fingertips.  So instead I’ll just breathe and keep letting go into the river of words and worlds ripe to pour upon the page.

I just thought of my deceased beloved, Dan, and how deeply he believed in my writing and my heart.  I will dedicate this blog to him.  I will reveal myself without judgement, as I imagine his devastatingly gentle face flooding the sky and beaming upon me.  I’d sure give my right nut to know what his soul is up to these days.  If I had a right nut… but I’m not ready to give away my ovaries… because I still have hope for one more child.

I’m house and pet sitting for my land-people for two weeks, which basically means that I am suddenly SO abundant that I have TWO HOUSES, two dogs, two cats, three angel fish, a massive trampoline and an even heftier pile of chores.  Yes, and of course a luminous baby…

While I was out walking the dogs yesterday afternoon, I was thinkin’ on spiritual attainment, and how it’s not what I ever imagined it to be.  It is so ordinary.  I mean, I honestly feel pretty secure and relaxed in the all-pervading presence of God… but it’s not wildly “exciting” in the way of flashing lights, rushes of luscious ecstasy, or mystic visions.  I often refer to the whole “chop wood and carry water” saying, because it is so true.  Or Jack Kornfield’s book, “After Ecstasy, The Laundry”.  This IS “It”, folks.  This is Heaven.  This is Nirvana.  There is no “finish line” to anticipate… where bells sound and balloons and confetti rain upon your wide-splayed crown chakra.   Or perhaps there will be… but who really cares? Self Realization is an ever-expanding spiral of blessed, breathing presence.

I marvel at witnessing Serena blossom day by day, like an exquisite lotus.  It’s strange.  Flowers are so remarkable… because they come and go in such a brief burst of the Miraculous… every stage of their holy becoming is sovereign in its majesty (yes, even the poetic, wilting decline).  We are like that too.  Life seems long… and in a way it IS.  But from some other cosmic vantage point… like maybe smiling Dan in the sky, it is just as heart-shatteringly fleeting as an ecstatic bloom.  The rose was always a rose… And WE are always Divine.  Even when we act like dummies because we are in pain.

The feeling while I was walking was this subtle whisper of perceiving the World new… like even though it seems to appear as it has always been… I saw a hint of freshness sparkling in everything.  And I knew that my consciousness is secretly unfurling in the way of Realization.  But it is so quiet and gentle… and just enough.  Not too much, like a kamikaze kundalini krisis (had to go all Ks!…)  It’s a garland of increasing mOMents of blessed knowing of the perfection of Life.  And trust me, these lucid mOMents are so precious… in contrast to the mOMents where I am climbing my own walls, wishing things were different.  Wishing that Ed and I were together, living as one happy family.  I believe that the lucid, free moments will continue to increase until they are one wide open vista of relaxed presence. And even then, my divinity will continue to reveal and express in ever-new and glorious ways!

But THIS moment is rad.  Lola the cat just snuggled into my lap.  My tea cup is half… full?  Empty?  You decide!  But it still has tea in it!!!  The morning is so quiet and it still belongs to ME.  MINE.  And then I breathe so deep, and all this incognito miraculous ness expands into itself, like the serpent eating it’s tail.

If this isn’t enlightenment… My name isn’t Rumplestiltskin!!!!

It’s been amazing with Ed.  Our Relationship is such a powerful gauge of the integration of this said Realization.  Over time, I have seen that the more I open my heart, and let Love lead the Way, the more HE manifests in my reality as his highest Self.  This is such an exciting game!… witnessing some guy you once perceived as so… ordinary… become a buddha, become a God. (In all his glorious ordinariness!!)  I witness his wings shyly spread and consume the sky.  I have brushed chapped elbows with giving up on him a thousand times over.  But for some Mysteriously persuaded reason, I have not been able to.  Now he’s unfolded his divinity in astonishing dimensions, and this is just the beginning.  After all, God’s domain is Infinity.

I want to testify in favor of choosing a Man who is not “transformed” or “spiritual”.  In the Bay Area, there is such a buzz around these labels.  It’s quite a phenomenal culture for a spiritual ego… with all these holier than Thou ways to assess others’ “qualifications”… But the danger of such sport, is that 88% of the time, you’re not getting The Real Thing.  You’re just getting an ego structure that has tethered itself to a set of self-righteous ideas and protocols.  They have the script down, and can easily feed you (and themselves) a heaping dose of masterful, sparkling, hollow spiritual bullshit.

Eeeeek!  I just realized that I’m treading water out in the middle of the dangerously vast and deep “Lake Conceptual”.  Would I dare to wrap the Baby Jesus in that semi-soft, blanket statement??  Probably not.  But I will say this~  I often appreciate that Ed does not have any scripts of a “Transformed Spiritual Man”.  Often, when our conversations go off-roading through treacherous terrain, he goes Silent.  Because he doesn’t have a script to cling to and hide behind.  And because (to my recurring dismay, he isn’t as quick as… ahem… “some”, at articulating his innermost feelings.  Instead he draws deeply into himself, seeming to disappear for a time.  But when he pops back out into shared reality, he has something genuine and meaningful to say.  Sometimes I find his shares disappointingly simple… but I’ve come to recognize that there is mastery in his simplicity.

As our love matures and refines, I see his essence clarifying like a rare jewel.  Again and again, I must surrender to the imperfection of our circumstances, choosing to invest ALL OF MY FAITH in God’s perfectly unfurling Plan.  This morning, this breath… I return to profound, all-pervading Rightness.  In this mOMent, I fully trust that I am exactly where I need to be, by the Grace of God.  I trust that all of my deepest dreams are blossoming through me in their sublimely perfect Time.  I am willing to relax my body and let Life unravel me and shower me with Grace.

Amen.

Life, Death and Loving Loneliness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Silver Whisper of Mortality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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.

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