Dreaming of Orcas in Winter

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Pushing off the shore… moving into the vast expanse of my mind, heart, Life.  I tingle.  I want to be extraordinary.  And in an instant, this desire turns to pressure and collapses in on itself.  Instead I’ll just be me.  Honest.  Curious.  Optimistic.  Ever enchanted by the weird, wild ordinariness of being a human being in a world of endlessly creative, disguised divinity.

That’s the macro.  The climate of my inner life on this deep, dark, quiet morning.  I just stopped to pick a booger.  It was sticky and I rolled it into a little ball and flicked it across my living room.  It took a few tries to launch it.  I’m embarrassed to admit that.  But the naked truth is that I am a booger picker, and you might as well know.  That’s the micro.

My Ma has cancer.  That’s the burning bush I beat around in my last blog.  Still waiting for the said bush to speak Gospel to me.  But pretty sure it will.  In the mean time, I’ve had two and a half weeks to digest this information.  And trust me, I’ve been all over the map.  I think my favorite emotion has been self-pity.  Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that too… since SHE is the one suffering.  But that’s the bizarre thing about “otherness”… someone right beside you can be undone in pain, and you really have no idea… allured instead by the glow of my own mediocre struggle.  Frown.

My Ma says she’s not “in pain”, per se… just exquisitely uncomfortable.  Mostly exhausted, and worst of all ITCHY.  Desperate to climb out of her skin.  I witness her experience from the outside, and it’s like watching her through a thick pane of glass.  My dad used to work at the MGM casino in Reno.  They kept a doped-up male lion on the family entertainment floor, and you could pay to get your photo taken with this poor, sleepy beast.  At five years old, I found this thrilling and we did.  The “secret” was a thick pane of glass between us and the Mighty One, which wasn’t perceptible in the photograph.  We had to wait a few excruciating DAYS for the photo to be processed… which pressed me into the grill of searing anticipation.  I died a few times waiting.  And then, gotta love ole Bart Horwitz (my dad)… He was supposed to go downstairs on a break and collect the picture… but he never did.  Over time, my desire for the fruit of this frivolous, exploitive adventure shriveled and returned to sacred nothing.  I learned early not to “hold my breath” when it came to my dad’s flimsy word.

Hence the frivolous origin of my metaphor of thick glass between “one” and untouchable dimensions of “otherness”.  I find it tragic.  Because I’ve been on both sides of the glass:  the one being ripped apart by loneliness, despair, some unbearable shade of pain…. Hoping to find relief in being witnessed… to no avail… And the one blinking, helpless as She Who Gave Me Life, tears miserably at her own flesh.  Oh the kaleidoscopic Mysteries of Existence….

You might not give a hoot about astrology… but I do.  And since this IS Athena Graceland, after all, I’ll report that Saturn’s round, dimpled ass is sitting on my gently beaming moon right now, which creates a mood of solitary struggle.  The sort of suffocating, internal atmosphere that grinds one down to beautiful, shimmering dust.  In the name of Ultimate Revelation.  It’s *not* glamorous.  But totally necessary.  And if you don’t want to speak in cosmically persuaded tongue, that’s cool.  Let’s just say that as far as seasons of Life go, it’s a cold, dark winter over here.

But the beauty of living out such a grueling season, is that there are contrast-carving days such as yesterday, which bloom as bright, delicious hints of spring.  By some unsayable Grace, the leaden weight in my heart lifts… I unhinge from the need for my Life to be anything other than it IS.  This is fresh pressed ecstasy.  I was at peace with my Ma’s fate, whatever it may be.  Peel back the layer of clutching at permanence, and being so close to the possibility of death is exciting.  It clarifies and vivifies Life.  It seduces forth more textures of whispering Divinity, laced in Everything.  I can feel the holy, smiling warmth of “The Other Side”, as my Ma likes to refer to that easier dimension of Heaven, where Light is not tethered to such laughable density.

Gosh, I sure can get lost in the endless dimensions of my mind!  I was telling you about the ease of yesterday.  I did an hour of paid cleaning at my Ma’s group house while Serena napped in the car.  I felt free.  Life was reduced to the simplicity of scrubbing a filmy shower with the green, abrasive side of a sponge and homemade vinegar-water with tea tree and lavender oils.  My large hands squeezed into small, orange rubber gloves.  When I finished, I laid on my back on the gravely driveway as Serena continued to snooze, texting with Ed… deciding on which day he would visit.  We agreed on Moonday.  The day after Christmas.  I felt excitement swell inside.  Danger.  Like looking into the eyes of a tiger, this fragile feeling could so easily snap in the jaws of devastating disappointment.  But like the archetypal Fool, I softened, letting it all be, as I danced after the rose at the cliff’s edge.  I love Ed and I want to spend time with him.  I relinquished the urge to be in control of our relationship and “the future”.  (Which I spend a lot of time and energy attempting to manipulate in hopes of “getting comfortable” and feeling “okay”.)

Then a sliver honda crunched the gravel driveway and spit my Ma out, fresh from another doctor appointment, and less nine vials of blood.  She was high on pumpkin spice latte, which made her behave like her former self!  Full of energy and good humor.  (These days, she mostly exists in a dull state of exhaustion, molded to the shape of her beige recliner, dispensing frequent apologies for her wilted state.)  I lapped up every precious second we were blessed to share.

Lots of other stuff happened too.  (Didn’t the literary precision of that last sentence bring you to your beautiful knees?!?!)  All profoundly ordinary, yet glistening with a sassy hint of revealed divinity.  This is what happens after death.  Suddenly there is new space for Truth to beam through the veil.  No doubt this is what Leonard Cohen meant when he sang, “There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the Light gets in.”   Death upon sweet death cracks apart the ego’s defenses to the blazing Reality of Light.  Slowly, over time, in my case…and perhaps sometimes all at once.  (Yikes!)

I don’t want to deluge you in the mundane details of my awesome existence, but I can’t skip the part where Serena and I drove to the cow dairy to procure a half gallon of raw milk for my Ma… we left the car running, intending to be quick.  Three calves rested in a bed of hay, adjacent to the milk room.  The smallest one, a baby bull, stood up, spindly hind legs first, and came to the fence to say hi.  He let me scratch his neck!  Then a bigger girl came over and licked my hand with her thick, coarse tongue.  My heart turned melty as they gazed at us with their radiant, wide, brown moon eyes.  I thought I’d never wash my barnyard stained hands.

I don’t know if I’ll feel as right and free today.  Serena woke too many times last night.  Then I awoke at almost four am from a dream of orcas.  It was nighttime.  I rode a ferry and they danced elegantly in the dark water alongside the boat.  I called out to them, “I LOVE YOU!!!!”  When our boat docked, they approached and let me pet them.  I was cautious at first, in their mighty presence.  Then I relaxed into trust.  This dream exploded my crown open and flooded me with infinity and stars and a feeling of pulsing awe.

I am ready for whatever shades of Grace today bestows.

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

The Legend of the Black Lightening Bolts

If I try to be extraordinary this morning, chances are, I will not get anything written.  So in the name of sharing my life and my mind with you, I am going to put my extraordinariness under cover, and three-two-one DO THIS!!!  But first, I am going to put on my ridiculous, dazzling lightening bolt earrings… because they have magical powers, and I want to see how they effect my writing.  I know that seems a bit contradictory… to be undercover, with gigantic, black, sparkly lightening bolts sprouting from my ears… I can’t argue with that.   I guess I’m not committed to being ordinary… I just wanna git-er-done… and my time is very limited.  Serena is nearing the four month alive mark, and gone are the days when she’d wake up, and act like a breastfeeding blob of dough in my lap.  Now she wants to commune with me, and fervently prepare for the not so distant day when she shall own the World!!! (And thank GOD for that… because it is past due time for this world to be owned by a Tiny Beaming Buddha with an incessant God-drunk grin.)

I think the earrings are working.  My Ma (and of course Serena) and I went into Town a couple of weeks ago, (yes, living way out in the woods, as we do, “going into Town” is a “Thing”… which still tickles me, being a Bay Area native.  Most of my adult life, I’ve been able to step out my door and be instantly transported to the BEST cafes, yoga studios, restaurants, dance classes and general rambunctious swirls of grandiose human doing-ness.) Where was I?  Ah yes, we went into Town, and I wanted to get something(s) new to wear, because the few clothes I have, probably predate the dinosaurs, and even with my innate, bohemian je-ne-sais-quoi, which by some stroke of magic, allows me to appear a bit flashy and enchanting, I was (and still am) seriously sinking in the domain of fashion.

I had high hopes for “Solstice”, the vintage, costume and chic used clothing shoppe in Town… but mostly my daintily cloud-brushing hopes sunk like a crippled submarine.  It’s just not the same, shopping with a needy three month old strapped to you, and a body to testify that it really has not been that long since she burst triumphantly into this world.  I got two tank tops.  I couldn’t try them on, because by the time I found them, Serena had fallen asleep in her ergo pouch, and there was no way I was gonna disturb her, so my beneficent ma took a wild woman gamble and bought them for me just in case they were awesome.  They were.  Praise the Lord.  And that is not even what I set out to tell you.  But you might as well know that I am well initiated as a mom, and my life is no longer my own.  And this somehow tickles me.

But the particularly loose moral of this story, is that up by the register, there were these over-the-top ridiculous black lightening bolt earrings on display.  And they honestly got all up in my business.  They wouldn’t leave me alone!  I’m pretty sure they were whispering promises of rockstardom and world domination, oh-so-softly in my ear.  My eyes turned into swirling spirals, and I heard strange, secret music flooding my ears.  I looked at the price tag, and they were twenty bucks.  Actually nineteen ninety-nine to be artistically precise.  No WAY was I gonna shell out such an obscene amount of money… even in the name of rockstar world domination… I have been a heavyweight champion miser since Serena arrived.  My life has revolved around paying my rent and utilities, not looking fabulous and having frivolous fun of yester yore.

All that unsatisfying shopping (and breastfeeding) worked up an appetite though, so we moseyed over to a cute little cafe down the street, which to my delight had outdoor seating!  I got a turkey sammy (came with a pickle and thick, ridged potato chips) and a spicy chai.  My Ma got a Mad Hatter looking slice of cake and a bowl of soup.  Being a short-order joint, they sent us away with the cake and chai, and gave us a number for our “savories”.  My Ma made mention of having to wait to eat her cake till after soup.  With glitter black lightening speed, I informed her that this was not the case!  She could indeed eat her cake FIRST.  Apparently, this was delightful news to her, because like the Queen of England on anonymous holiday, she dove right in!  And like the Queen of England’s privileged, croquet prodigy progeny, I ate most of the perfectly bitter, buttery chocolate frosting layer.  I love that about my Ma… she is so endlessly giving to her babies… No matter how giant and self reliant we become.

But alas, none of that mattered so much in the grand scheme.  I mean of ALL the unwritten stories that sleep like mythical beasts inside the fortress of my mind, body and soul, why was I compelled to tell THAT one???   I think mostly because I liked the part about giving my mama permission to eat her cake first.  I really do find myself endearing for having such frivolous, whimsical priorities.

And now for the steak and potatoes of this momentous literary masterpiece.  My best dear friend Anitra, fresh off the plane from India, had joined us at the cafe, and after lunch (which was cut short by a rare and extreme, latte curdling wailing session by Serena– I think she was overwhelmed by the excessive stimulus of Town…) we set off together for a little “friendsie time”, and my Ma was left to entertain herself, which is very natural and delicious for her, since not only is she independent by nature, but she also had a purse brimming with cash on this almost warm and sometimes sunny, waxing spring-ish day.

At two thirty, when we converged back at Faith (my valiant, silver station wagon), she delightedly displayed an assortment of “things” she had acquired while we were apart.  I feel like a shmoo for not memorizing all of them… I DO remember a bright orange hat she had gifted herself, “for gardening”.  And of course I remember the little brown bag she handed me, which I immediately ravaged and discovered the illustrious, coveted lighting bolts!!  I immediately put them on, and assessed our communion in the visor mirror… I was amazed to discover, that immense and exaggerated as they were, they somehow achieved an acute sense of rightness on me.  And in that moment, my life changed.

I’m serious.  I transformed from a blah-zay, frugal, single mother dressed in ancient rags, to a SUPER HERO(INE) with undetermined, yet unmistakable magical powers.  I’m still trying to attune to what they ARE… But when I wear my “bolts”, I feel giant and invincible and wealthy!!!  I am a force to be reckoned with.

Yesterday, I wore them as I made quiches for the first time in my life, to be sold at Master’s Market… and when the savory egg pies emerged from the oven, one of them still had some goop.  I panicked, because I was afraid that if I cooked it longer, the egg matter would turn tough.  Eggs are really such delicate, touchy creatures, who demand attentive kid gloves and ample tenderness.  I decided to bake it a bit longer… I hope it worked out.  I am still shaking in my weather-beaten, fur-lined pink ugg boots, to be honest.  But I will testify, that the only way I survived that risky wrassle with mortality and imperative customer satisfaction, was wearing these said heavily enchanted earrings.

…And come to think of it, they are probably the reason that little Serenie-doodle is asleep in my lap right now, and I am able to finish this essential tale of my existence.  Speaking of my existence… I’m not sure that I’m exactly “afraid of death”… but lately, I’ve been acutely aware that I might be pretty bummed when the “Athena Grace movie” is over.  I mean, yeah, yeah, eternal souls and all that erudite, spiritually enlightened jazz… but still… whoever this is, who is currently donning the ingenious costume, fondly known as “Athena Grace LMNOP”, is gonna slip out of it one of these days… and even though this indwelling, fabulous shimmer of Eternity will continue on (and on and on and on and on and…), the “Athena Grace movie” will be over.  And I’m sad for this… Because I love being Athena Grace.  She’s such a bold, quirky and lovable heroine.  How could my soul POSSIBLY top this one???

I guess it’s possible.

EVERYTHING is possible in God’s dream.

And This Heart Keeps Breaking…

Thanks to FaceBook’s new feature, “Memories”, I have recently been revisiting my blogs from twenty eleven.  Five years ago.  I am struck by the audaciousness with which I expose myself.  Every time I read an entry, I fall to my heart’s knees in empathic reverence for the rugged terrain of both Heart and Life (these two dimensions tend to hopelessly bleed together into a vast, sloshy, ecstatic mess) that I not only was willing to traverse, but also to share with such generous abandon.  I feel a sense of awe for what I have survived, where I have arrived… and the whispers that rise up in me and hint of the horizons and summits I will yet Realize.  Over the past few years, I have become a bit more conservative in my sharing.   Because I’m afraid of saying things that will upset others.   Especially Ed, I s’pose.  Self-imposed censorship is one of the most unwieldy demons to contend with as a writer.  Because if a writer is not ripping the “Jesus bandaid” off, and being outrageously naked… well… she’s just another homogenized, factory farmed, word squanderer.

Watch me, as I shove my lovably cowering self back out under the lonesome, prismatic floodlight of center stage… Reluctant, heroic, naked… A beacon in an otherwise blackened domain… cradling my own majestic, pulpy heart in my cupped hands.

Yes, my heart.  Somehow it found its way under the wheels of a big rig this past week.  Thank GOD I invested the model with the lifetime warranty, way back when.

Serena will be three months alive, two days from now.  And so far, since her arrival, most of my writings have been high notes.  Can you blame me?  What could be a higher note than the blessing of finally having an excruciatingly essential prayer answered in technicolor surround sound?  I knew from the the tootsie roll center of my very own address in Infinity that it was my calling to bring a daughter into the world and give my all to assure that she hit the ground DANCING, as she lives out her star-child soul mission… But I did NOT know the holy implications of this sublime calling.  Serena is the joy of my life.  So naturally, I have been exploring these new dimensions of ecstasy on the page.

I thought I was done suffering about her dad, Ed.  The married policeman (hilarious, huh?) who somehow stole into the farthest, deepest and tenderest neighborhoods of my heart.  (As if there are any neighborhoods in Here that are not all that…)  But there’s something about him… That I really… like?  Love?  Need?  Prefer?  Yes, all of that…

We’ve known each other for nearly four years now.  And have been fervently clutching the feeble, rapid-thrashed life-raft of our devoted dream of being together for a solid three.   But Ed’s always been explicitly committed to keeping his family together until his youngest sun graduates from high school.  Ha!  Talk about a scenic tour through the land of breathing cliches!  It’s the new Disneyland river ride!… Not purported to be scary… The colorful boats are structurally sound, and meander along a questionably grimy little manmade stream.  You pass through dim caverns, entering a series of romantic scenes:  a big, solid man and a swooning firecracker of a goddess sharing perfectly delicious moments of electric love-infused adventures… soaking in naked embrace at Harbin Hot Springs, sitting as close as two people can be, at the perfectly dim bar of Pizzaiolo, sipping red wine and sharing succulent smooches, grilling steak on the springtime rooftop of Athena’s beloved Lake Merritt apartment, laying entwined on a blanket on a sunny, wave-slapped beach…. And yet, somehow, all of this candied delight evokes bleeding and screams, as the gentle river carries One merrily along.

God I amuse myself.  I could get perpetually lost in the luxurious, rolling landscapes of memory as simultaneously revealed and concealed by worlds of words… But I came here to expose myself.  I came here to tell you that I thought I was finally free from the sprawling sentence of strenuous heartache that is being in unrelenting love with this married man.  He gave me a daughter because that is what I wanted more than anything.  And maybe he wanted to be the One, because it would mean fusing an undeniable bond for this life and perhaps beyond.  I wanted that with HIM.  Don’t ask me why… Hearts do not speak the language of reason.  And I hesitate to use the “K word” (karma), because it is too easy.  The spiritually persuaded, imaginatively lazy tend to castrate Life’s greatest Mysteries, by rampantly slapping that label on every nuanced curve of Existence, and sleepwalking on with glassy, passive eyes.  It might be accurate… but alas, I wishn’t to suffocate the fluttering, fragile immensity of the Unknown through which we swim.

How on earth am I going to deliver myself back to the original track of this well-intentioned telling???  As I stated back in paragraph four, Serena is on the precipice of three months alive now.  Ed has still not been here to see us.  He was there for her birth… A solid pillar of masculine strength and love.  And in the hospital, he vowed to come visit within the next few weeks.  But it was the holy-days, and there were already others at his job who had put in for time off… Hence, his supervisor would not bless him to take leave.  And there I was, a new mother, hormone cocktail sloshing, tears splashing, as the rug is pulled out from beneath my feet.  Multiple times, the promise of his presence rebuked at the last minute.  All too familiar, it reeks of daddy’s dutiful defacing of my innocent, hope-full heart.

But meanwhile, every day, Serena awakes with a smile that radiates unsayable purity.  And her brightness calls me home to the holy mOMent at hand.  And all day long, she needs me, and she feeds me with her vulnerable presence and unobstructed soul music… Like I said, I thought I was free from needing Ed.  But a few weeks ago, he put in for time off (again), and his supervisor gave him a radiant, green light.  It shone all the way from Berkeley to Nevada City, lighting up my Temple of Hope with turquoise glowing shadow play of days shared as a momentarily cohesive, loving family.  But shadows, when grasped, just slip like whispers through closed, empty fists.

His boss rebuked his word.  Twice more.  Meanwhile it was Ed’s birthday.  And he was far away in almost every sense of the word.  Then came his thirty three year anniversary with his wife… God, looking backward on the last couple of weeks, I can’t pinpoint the address of the monster who hijacked and vandalized my heart… But I can testify of disturbingly familiar feelings of disappointment, betrayal and aloneness.  Meanwhile, Serena continued to blind me with her lucid, angelic BEing.  And for this glaring paradox, my heart washed with inadvertent sprays of guilt.  I shouldn’t ache like this, while holding her to my nectar-gushing breast.

Gosh, the trouble with my passion for colorful, poetic expression, is that it is nearly impossible to venture from point A to point B.  Is that a problem?  The world is already “Pointy” enough as it is… but… sometimes I want to record my life for posterity’s sake… and I get so dazzled by the scenery along the Way… Feels like navigating a sprawling sea of scintillating sirens.

What must I fuse onto this page for eternal safe keeping?  I want to tell you that the way my heart breaks in love with Ed feels like dying a thousand times over.  Each time is new.  Each time is familiar.  Each time I am more masterful at the Art of Death.  I have come to wonder of the hidden Gifts of these flash-crucifixions… Is the pain essential?  Or is it a result of my stubborn grasp on that which could never be mine?  But I will not let go of him.  Nor he of me… although in many broken mOMents, he has offered to “set me free”.  But I suppose the Freedom I truly seek, can only be realized from behind these bars I have erected in my own heart.  Do you understand?  It reminds me of a book that my old friend and “tantric lover”, Jay had on his nightstand, once upon a time… “The Only Way Out Is IN”.

I will not find the freedom I seek through manipulating circumstances.  Only through breaking until there is nothing left to break… Until all that is left is the pure and unconditional love rushing endlessly from my own whole and Holy heart.  Flowing unobstructed from Everywhere to Nowhere and Beyond.  I will break as many times as this takes.  And I will do it holding Ed’s invisible hand… Because my heart demands this.  And I will sing the preposterous stories of my life upon the page… because they dazzle, enchant and endlessly perplex me.  And I these stories will deliver me…

…to the hOMe I have never really strayed from in the first place.

What a silly game for God to play as US…

But pretty cool, too…IMG_5304

Stalked by Destiny

Seven thirty seven pm over here on my little sacred would-be NeverNeverLand isle of Kauai.  Just for the record, I’m having that ecstatic feeling, like there’s nothing in the entire multiverse that I’d rather be doing right now than spilling myself out on the page for you!  I even put my hair in pretty little jeweled butterfly clips and splashed my soft, tropical skin with perfume oil.  After some weighty consideration, I chose vanilla coconut scent.  It wafts off of my body heat in sweet waves of tastiness.  I am my own dessert tonight!

 

It’s one of those blogging days when I have a thousand paths extending out from my center and I can’t decide which one to step out onto.  But there comes a time when kiss comes to suck and I must simply choose or get off the pot altogether, which I’ll NEVER do.  Nope.  Me and the pot are in for the long haul!

 

So I’ll just start by telling you that today my soul plot just got immensely, rapturously thicker!!!  Mom, don’t be jealous… but I have a soul mom too!  I had an inverse visit from the stork this morning!  And who should spill from this auspicious, heaven sent bundle but our very own beloved Souldipper, my devoted blogging buddy!  You MUST know of her by now… she leaves substantial, thoughtful, insightful comments up the wazoo, and every now and again I mention her in my blog.  I mention her because my heart feels like it’s in the BEST church ever invented when she and I communicate.  My heart feels like an Olympic opera singer when we virtually commune.  It’s been a bit mystifying for me to witness the delicious, transcendent flavor of Love that she evokes in me… but I’m not one to “look a friggin gift horse in the oral cavity”, for God’s sake… so I just bask in the grace and warmth of the love that is stirred in me.  But apparently there is MORE to the story.  Read it here~ http://souldipper.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/solo-soulful-a-blessed-blog-buddy/

 

Next order of stuffy business~ Please don’t take me literally.  This is anything but stuffy.  I just have an aversion to garden variety business… Anyway, I have been slackin’ at my poetry muse duties lately… mostly due to having a full plate (between my two writing projects, my daily devotion to the ocean, yoga, refueling, some requisite social stimulation… it’s a full time job staying in balance leading the life of my dreams…) So lugging around my heavy, archaic, linguistic magic machine is not such a savory option.  Plus, I haven’t found such a terrific place to perch with it here on Kauai… (though my soul sister, Magic Penny who is an EXPERT at making home-hitting, creatively brilliant suggestions as to how her near and dears could live our lives more artfully, soulfully and in radical alignment with our essential selves… told me today on the phone that I “should” rent myself out for weddings, parties, special events as the Poetry Muse.  You know, like charge a flat rate and then let God pour through me for anyone and everyone at the party.  Smart cookie, she IS!  I just might do that…)

 

I have felt a nagging tug at my heart in the absence of this sacred practice structured into my week to week existence.  And the story continues its wily meander~ last week, I wandered barefoot down the road I live on, brushing my teeth with my pink, recycled plastic toothbrush which when retired from the trenches of my warm, smarmy mouth will join forces with its friends and become a beautiful, plastic, marbled rainbow park bench… and I encounter an older gentleman, helmet clad and paused in mid-bike ride.  We strike up a conversation.  He shares that he is a retired chemist from Virginia, here visiting his son who lives just down the road from me.  I tell him I am a writer.  He asks of what.  A blog and sacred poems by donation, I say.  He says that he’d like a poem because his book club will be sharing poetry next time and he’d like to bring his custom poem from one illustrious, living, breathing Muse of Poetry!  Hark!

 

Does that tickle you?  I mean for goddess sake, I’m out wandering aimless and barefoot, scrubbing my teeth and I get called to duty!  I just can’t hide from Destiny for too long, can I?!  So this afternoon, I made my way to their house so that sweet Bill could splash me with his authentic heart and I could then get neatly out of the way and let God go to work on our holy findings.

 

I was coming from a full rock star morning in Hanalei (jogging, swimming, bonding with Jack the Love Wizard and writing) and I was quite hungry.  As Grace would have it, Bill and his wife of fifty-nine years, Mary Jane, offered to share their lunch of tortilla soup with me.  I can be pretty neurotic and finicky about what I ingest into my sacred temple of a body… but in the spirit of communion and adventure, I chose to throw caution to the [currently raging]S mother ocean and accept their hallowed generosity.  I told myself that I would receive whatever they laid down before me in the spirit of Prasad (divine offering), allowing it to enter me as an expression of the highest love.  Good thing.  Because it was mostly from cans. AND THEY HEATED IT IN THE MICROWAVE!  (I hate to say this, because Bill subscribed to my blog and there’s a good chance he’ll read it… But Bill, please understand that I am only divulging my own neurosis.  It is NOT, I repeat NOT personal.  I just have a commitment to transparency here in Athena Graceland… and at the end of the day, this comes before making an effort to rub everyone the right way.  And trust me, the soup certainly tasted like pure love…)  Oh, and let me not leave out the Tostitos brand corn chips, adorably shaped like little tostada bowls, which we crushed up on top.

 

At first, Mary Jane seemed reticent of me.  Guarded.  But soon enough, sitting across the round dining table in their cush little guest house, her eyes melted and within them was plainly revealed a very pure, immediate and enduring shade of love.  They invited ME to say grace!  Whoop-whoop!!!  Naturally I accepted.

 

Over our sacred soup, we spoke of peace, god, family, adventure and death.  I yearned to see only the faces of the Beloved as I beheld them.  But I found myself forgivably tangled in fears of being misunderstood by these two others who had so many years on me.  (He was 83, she was 80!)  You know… just because they’re from a way more… uhhh… conservative generation.  I cringed, imagining Bill reading all my blogs about my sexuality and unconventional freedom and wild self expression.  So I allowed myself squirm in the resulting discomfort, breathing through it, and reminding myself of the truth, that they are but Love manifest… and on a more practical level, Bill HAD read my blogs and yet still invited me into his world, prepared to open himself to me in the name of becoming humbly poeticized.  Inhale.  Exxxxxhale…

 

It was a first for me to write one poem for TWO people.  Bill and Mary Jane both opened themselves to me, and after spending fifty-nine years, thirteen children, twenty seven grand children and one great grandchild on the way (!!!!) they were beautifully and hopelessly entwined in resplendent double helix of communion.

 

I left with a belly full of soup, a heart full of gratitude and a mind full of all sorts of potential material for the poem.  I promised to deliver it later in the evening while they were out for their finale dinner.  Like I often do, I doubted myself and my capacity to spin anything intelligent (emotionally, spiritually, creatively) out of what I had absorbed.  And like always, I was humbled and wonder struck by what came through.  God?  Thank you for speaking through me even in the face of my doubt.  Thank you for the Grace that it is to be able to serve You in this playful, creative and sincere way!

 

Just before I started blogging tonight, I wandered through the darkness toward their son’s house, lit only by generous moonbeams, sacred poem in hand, seduced by my own sleek, sexy shadow as she slunk through the night, feeling so clear and strong and holy.  The scent of rotting fruit dripped from the warm night air.  Every single tree and plant spoke to me silently as I wandered lucidly past, toward Bill and Mary Jane’s door where I lovingly nestled the poem, feeling like a well meaning tropical elf.  I gazed one final time upon this sweet, heartfelt relic born from the heart and mind of one divine Athena Grace, and felt truly blessed to BE, then turned away, filled and fulfilled, into the dark sea of moonbeams, and nocturnality.

 

Amen.

Behind the Scenes of my Creative Process

Mykael, I heard your voice today… coaxing me to just take my typewriter along… I walked to the local bakery to write my blog… and I heard you encouraging me.

I parked at the table that I have claimed as “mine”.  (Every time I land here at the bakery, I scope out all the possible perches available to me… feel into sitting at each one of them.  And infalliably, this same table beckons me.  The same chair whispers a covert come hither to my modest and soft bottom.)  Golly gee whiz, did I feel shy to pull out the old faithful, vintage blessing machine just now.  There were so many people around, nibbling and sipping and engaging in the sensual slow lane of existence.  One of the reasons that I love writing so much is that it provides the perfect space for both my exuberant exhibitionist and my shy, sensitive hermit to harmoniously coexist.  (Most of the time)  But busting out the Smith Corona is like flashing a neon sign that says LOOK AT ME!

Eeeeeek.  But also not.  Immediately this radiant woman at the table next to me took interest in my archaic treasure.  I told her that I was offering poems by donation.  Without hesitation she said she wanted one for her sister who was turning sixty next month!  Yahoo!  I LOVE sixty year olds!  I’m serious.  I DO.  Both my mama and my papa turned sixty recent-ish-ly… and since that pivotal rite of passage, my relationship with each of them has flowered, fruited and flourished!  I find them both to be abounding with wisdom and a ripened rendition of surrender to who they are and their respective places in this earthy sphere of the cosmos…

All that to say that I eagerly chomped at my bit to be set free to honor this Goddess Sister of my freshly harvested radiant customer… whose name was Satya (Which means truth in ummm… Sanskrit, is it?).  Satya was clearly adept at sharing from her heart.  She dove right in and spoke of her sister’s unique beauty and divine specialness.  And she told me that above all else, she wished peace of mind and peace of heart for her beloved kin.  I didn’t have to work or dig at all to get to the meaty, essential heart of the matter.  (Though, truth be told, I am just as happy to dig… I’ll meet people where they are… Still it’s refreshing when another soul is adept at the art of spilling open.)

I have to laugh at my creative process.  I really try to get out of the way.  To be a humble servant.  To refrain from judgment and simply take good notes as the All Pervading Poet spews loving words and decadent metaphors into my mind.  But I must admit that my cumbersome, frightened and sometimes rusty hinged mind oft does not surrender without a good fight.  During the conception of some poems, nearly every line I flush with the poison of self criticism and doubt.  But so what!?  I will not be stopped by the pathetic, yapping Chihuahua that is my small self.  I have All Pervading Fish to fry.  Then, when a poem is done… I have a moment of simultaneous relief and panic… When I read it aloud to the recipient, will the glory of God pour prismatically from between the letters and lines? …Or will the rotten tomatoes fly?

Mostly I read them and relax into the satisfaction of a job well done.  It’s kind of like baking the queen’s wedding cake… I may be an excellent baker… but there’s always that chance that the oven temperature could be off… or goblins could sneak into the kitchen while it’s cooling and stomp their terrible feet frivolously about in the pink, spongy expression of childhood heaven… Ya dig?  What I’m getting at is that even in the face of the highest Grace, life is still but an unpredictable and wondrous ocean, and sometimes that means mess and death and rotten poems.  But the important thing, of course, is NOT THE FRUIT… is it Shri Krishna?  Nope, says our favorite flute playing, chariot driving, cow herding blue man… It’s all in the spirit of the offering.  I only intend to amplify the LOVE that sings me into Holy Existence.

And that’s the truth.  Pbthhhht.

Amen.

Ageless Wisdom, Decomposing Dahlias and the Color Gray

“Do not pray to the Lord for the removal of sufferings. Pray to Him to grant you power of endurance and patience to bear all calamities. The more troubles and adversities you get, the stronger and firmer will be your faith in God. They will mould you into a divine being. Welcome them.”
-Swami Sivananda
Well thank you Swami!  How very timely of you to offer your divine pearls at the feet of the masses.  The masses of alarmed citizens right inside my very own self for starters.  People!  Tell me this quote is not the most perfect place to rest your weary heart and mind these days… So much change.  So much internal pressure and external imploding wilderness.  A woman friend recently asked me how thirty is treating me thus far.  I took a rapid introspective sweep and my answer came strong and quick.  I told her it’s quintessentially awesome AND it’s requiring all of the inner strength that I have cultivated for the last thirty years (not to mention the seven gazillion other lives I’ve trickled through) to navigate these recent chapters.  It’s true.  Though my existence feels like drunk wrestlers trying to dance ballet, I must confess that I have never felt so much deep strength, courage and rooted self respect.
Honestly, I have spent many years frolicking in the shacklicious bondage of suicidal persuasions.  I’m still here to tell the tale because I have always known better than to think that it could really be that easy.  Death ain’t the end, folks.  Like Amma says, it’s more akin to a period at the end of a sentence than some final plummet off a screeching cliff into indifferent, eternal darkness.  Our souls are holy, trail blazing paragraphs spiraling through the vast, ingenious mind of the All Pervading Scripture.  I’ve always known that if I took my own life, I’d create a less than savory karmic mess to reckon with later.  And that’s not on the menu for this High Priestess of the Cosmos.
Let’s just get straight on this whole issue of karma why don’t we?  The poor word has been beaten to death by ignorant though well meaning new agers… but essentially, karma simply means action.  Action is energy in motion.  And once energy is in motion, it causes ripples and reverberations all throughout creation.  And that motion inevitably has effects.  Each of us IS the universe.  So the effects exist implicit in the action, right within our very Selves.  Can ya dig it?
But back to the whole suicidal thing~ from my vantage point here in present time, I’m actually pretty stoked about all that unsavory time I spent writhing and flailing in utter darkness because it did just what Swami Sivananda said it would do.  I have endured and my faith in God is bottomless.  And topless.  And spilling all over this world trembling on the precipice of something unprecedented and full throttle auspicious.  Mould away, oh All Pervading Light Sculptor!
The sun never came out today.  I take it back.  After dinner I was sitting on my bed and my gaze drifted out the window just in time to see a distant beaming wash of golden light falling on my backyard neighbors’ roof and a cedar tree nearby.  It was an overtly holy moment.  But other than that, the sky stayed gray all day long and my body never thawed.  Neither did my heart or mind.  (Until I started writing, that is… writing is usually a surefire way for me to fall back in some strain of Love, no matter how unflattering the amorous flavor may be… at least its Love’s spoiled step-child, or Love’s ex-husband’s maternal grandmother’s butler’s best friend from college.  What I’m trying to say, is that even when my writing process is arduous and my emotions are thick as jungle mud, I still find my heart here on the page.  Always.  All ways.)
Speaking of gray… This morning in the swimming pool, as I was doing my kicking laps I fixed my gaze skyward at the deep, steely blanket of woolen gray and I thought to myself, “it’s about time that I make friends with gray.”  Normally gray is unbearable to me.  It’s a light and life decimating monster.  It’s in the club with rotten eggs, hate crimes, germ warfare and putrid breath.  But I dare myself… I dare myself to strip and peel gray to its very core and discover a unique rendition of Heaven.  I dare myself to listen acutely to the music of gray and fall in love with its ever-sultry song.  Not to sound too franchise enlightenment, but without gray… Do you know what I’m about to say?  Without gray, colors would not taste nearly as intoxicating, revelatory and evocative.  You know what I mean about franchise enlightenment?  I guess another word for it would be “cliché”.
On a distant but related topic, the dahlia bouquet on my nightstand is chasing death at a rapid clip.  They’re only a week old and already the petals are withered at the tips and being accosted by the color brown.  As I write this, in my mind’s nose, I am smelling the swampy biting stench of their decomposition.  I keep looking at them and fantasizing about retiring them to the compost bin.  But instead, my eyes wander captivated about their contrasting scapes.  They are transformation in action and the implicit sacred beauty therein.  They are a head on collision between life and death.  Hmmm, maybe they are to flowers as crones are to women.  Why is youth so prized in our remedial culture?  The elderly get sequestered to special homes where few people have to deal with them… As if wisdom is akin to the Styrofoam packaging you pulled off after you ripped your new, state of the art microwave out of its box.  At the first sign of wrinkles and varicose veins, we toss ourselves and one another into the smelly compost heap to finish rotting.   What could be more ridiculous?!  Okay, on the count of three, let’s pull our collective head out of its communal ass.  Three.  Two.  One.
Amen.

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