Tenderizing Questions

I could talk about how today is my last day in my house here in beautiful, staticy Oakland, California. Or I could talk about how I sorta feel like projectile vomiting due to the stress of my impending move and resulting insomnia… I could talk about David Bowie currently shouting about rebels right in my ear (They have the music at an ungodly deciple here at Pizzaiolo. I’m having a mint tea and one last hurrah!) But nah… that’s kinda boring. I’d rather talk about profound stuff, because even though the surface of my awareness is full of agitated ripples and shimmers, the depths are all dark smiles and unspeakable richness. I have a lot on my mind. I hope I don’t make a pukey mess as I attempt to spit it out for you. But if I do… such is Life. I think one of the ancient secrets to happiness is to embrace the inevitability of pukey messes… and then roll up your sleeves and keep on loving right through them. Speaking of rolling up my sleeves, I just need to lament something for a moment. I’m gonna miss my muscles. (God, that made me crack up… mostly because it is entirely true. And very freeing to admit. Rock climbing. I’m not so sure they do that kind of thing in Kauai. I googled it and didn’t find much. Plus, Mykael has been my teacher and belay partner (thank you Mykael!!!)… Sigh. I have LOVED LOVED LOVED my year and a half long love affair with climbing. I love how I have transformed my relationship with anger, power and self-imposed limitations through climbing. I love the strength I have cultivated. I LOVE my climbing MUSCLES. Honestly, I was strong enough before… but it’s like the difference between the inconspicuous hottie, Clark Kent and his incognito superhero status, SUPERMAN. Oh well, non attachment. Someday, perhaps, I’ll be all withered and wrinkled, anyway. And then I’ll be generic, homogenous cosmic dust (My BODY, I mean… not my omnipotent, omnipresent me-ness). And who knows… maybe surfer girl/distance ocean swimmer muscles will be just as exquisite and impressive… But I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank my muscles for being so strong and beautiful. I bow to you, beloved muscles.) Woops, I had no idea that was gonna come out. I wanted to tell you all these other things… Like this quote that I heard from my beloved minister, Reverend Elouise last Sunday. She said, “Learn to ride the horse in the direction that it’s going.” Mostly, I find this quote to be wholly brilliant… except that Athena Grace LMNOP don’t ride no stinkin’ horses. This bitch rides unicorns or bust. And clearly my pristine, mythic steed is bound for tropical paradise. I am so proud of myself for not trying to hold on to the pasty banks of the river until my fingers bled and popped off. It could be tempting. (“My mama said to get things done, you’d better not mess with major tom”… Thanks David…) I have talked about this before… about my long standing affair with the inquiry of effort versus grace, remember? Like how much force do I exert as I lean in and engage with my life, and how much do I just lay back in passive bliss and let the holy waters otherwise known as Life, sweep me along? You’ve gotta understand~ this has been a pesky, continuous thorn lodged in my mind for ages. But has it been a thorn, or merely a rigorous course of study? I vote for the latter. I’d say it’s been one of my most recent theses in the School of Mostly Soft Knocks. And this most recent confluence of events has been a culmination, a graduation of sorts. I am more engaged than ever in my life. Every day I wake up and live an authentic and satisfying life of my choosing. And as the framework of this life has crumbled and fallen, I truly feel that I have hopped bareback upon my horned beast and let it gallop into the vibrant, dawning wash of my destiny. It is effort… but it is also Grace. See for yourself what a prolific writer I have been and continue to be. Writing. It’s as much effort as it is grace. Same with spiritual practice, healing and self inquiry. And cooking, exercise, nurturing friendships… I feel so blessed to be here, living this life. As I declare that, though, the question surfaces, “I could be doing MORE to serve Humanity, couldn’t I?” I guess this is a newer incarnation of the question. How do I live my life so that I am serving and elevating You and You and You and You and You and you get it… That’s a slippery question with so many expressive, diverse faces. On one extreme, it could be argued that I’ve gotta be the third coming of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., or Joan of Arc… but on the other side of the spectrum, You could say that it doesn’t matter what I DO out in the world so much as it matters the degree of peace in my heart. I believe they are BOTH true. I believe in the whole and completeness of myself as I am IN THIS MOMENT. And still… I know that this is a course that I am currently enrolled in, in the School of Mostly Soft Knocks, and because of this, the answer will roll and tumble, smooth and solidify as I continue to live and breathe and widen myself in the Yearning for Ultimacy. My dear Maha Devi (Great Goddess), friend and confidant, RosyMoon came over to partake in the Last Supper with me yesterday at noon. She shared about a question asked of her by her Teacher (with a capital T) some time ago. Since then, she has been grappling with it inside herself and as a result, stirring up much illumination and dormant wisdom. The question was something along the lines of, “Why do you commit to your yoga practice? What has you step in, day after day?” She said her first response was, “because it makes me feel good…” Which she realized was kinda weak, come to think of it, and hence she took her figurative pick-axe to her interior and began to hack away at the dense walls of her unconscious, in search of the latent oceans of gems hidden within. I believe that a life well lived requires asking the right questions. And then not just merely scurrying for the quickest, microwavable, drive-thru answer, as our pill popping, speed freaky, popular culture has conditioned us to do… but actually being willing and available to be tenderized by the question. Sit in it and mar-i-nate. Stew. Like Rumi’s precious little chickpea. What questions are YOU living in these days? What questions would you like to inhabit for an arduous, devotional joy ride? Please! Leave a comment and share with the class! Amen.

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Making Love to My Edges

Why is it when the coffee kicks in, I suddenly have so much more to say?  The coffee.  Small double latte from Gaylord’s.  I was civilizedly sipping it and I realized the espresso drinks they serve here are neither fabulous nor shitty. (Strictly flavor wise… they redeem themselves with beautiful, creamy artwork in the foam!)  They are absolutely average.  What a sorry lot in life.  I think I’d prefer to be shitty over average.  Then at least I’m memorable and I generate some kind of experience in ye who imbibes me.  Obviously though, I’d prefer to be fabulous.  Speaking of fabulous, I am going to try listening to Pet Shop Boys radio on Pandora.  Because otherwise, today is just a day.  “Some times you’re better off dead.  There’s a gun in your hand and it’s pointed at your head.”  That’s from the song, West End Girls, I’m not being morbid… I am being clumsy though.  I feel myself stumbling, digging inside to find today’s weighty message.  Writing is like mining for diamonds.  It’s treacherous and dark and lonely, but the promise of finding something magical, transparent and maybe even dangerous, keeps me coming back, day after day after day.  What diamonds will I unearth today?

Today is Mykael and my two year anniversary.  Anniversary of meeting.  But we also consider it our anniversary of being partners.  Now that I write that, I suppose it’s mildly odd.  How many people consider themselves a couple from the moment they meet?  Honestly, tell me.  I’m curious.  Have YOU ever done something so… impulsive?  Intuitive?  Liberated?  Risky?  I don’t even know which adjectives to use.  All I know is that two years ago today, I was at an all night dance party, fawning over a man whom I never missed an opportunity to fawn over, getting lost in his ample, squishy body, his molten heart, his rich, nocturnal chocolate eyes… and suddenly another man appeared to my left.  He sat so still, just observing my outpouring of adoration for this aforementioned man.  I thought it strange… his deep, unwavering presence.  Unlike most people, he didn’t have a need to participate in order to get attention or take anything for himself from the passionately charged moments as they poured forth into the marvelous tangibility of time and space.  (As I write this, the Erasure song, “A Little Respect” came on.  Synchronistically, I put this song on the CD I made for Mykael for his birthday, three weeks after we met.  I love feeling heard by the Universe!  It’s such a comforting feeling.  Maybe APL really is my Friend!)

Hmmm, I don’t want to talk about that anymore.  I know that I could simply erase it and start over… but I don’t believe in erasing… At least not as a way of life.  I step onto the page, and I bring with me the vulnerability of my imperfection.  I do this because life is imperfect and I want to CELEBRATE this, rather than try to present a false sense of pristine organization and flawlessness.  I am learning to love and cherish the imperfections as miraculous expressions of a creative and twisted God.  (Twisted in the best way, of course…) I am going away for a few days, starting tomorrow (to Harbin Hot Springs) and I was teasing Mykael about how none of the vegetables would be missing from their bins in our fridge.  All of the dozen eggs would be gone and the whole loaf of bread… oh, and the cheese.  I have been having such a difficult time loving this part of Mykael.  The part that doesn’t eat vegetables.  To me that is just WRONG and GROSS.  For almost two years, I have fed him obsessively, because I want him to eat balanced meals with lots of veggies and whole grains.  But then suddenly, I got sick of this.  I felt resentment and repulsion and now when I am gone at meal time and he has to fend for himself, I just don’t ask.  I can’t bear to know what he puts in his body, left to his own devices.  But I sear in my own curiosity, too… It takes a great deal of self discipline not to ask what he ate for dinner.  This topic has been the cause of many arguments, resentments and hurt feelings.  We were snuggling in bed this morning (decadent!) and he suggested that I simply love this part of him.  And in being wholly accepted, it will then have the space and blessing to evolve.  A light bulb flashed on over my head.  Can I really just love that part of him?  Like not even just plain old, garden variety acceptance, but full throttle LOVE!??!!!  God, that would be so weird.  I like the challenge of it though.  I love a good challenge.

I’ve been wanting to have a baby again recently.  (Don’t worry, I won’t… I’m not ready…) But I’ve been inquiring into what is underneath this outrageous desire. What am I really wanting when I feel this urge to hostess a helpless human being?  I think what it is, is that I want to grow.  I want to take on an impossible task and through its incessant rigor, I want to know my own strength, touch something dormant and miraculous inside me.  Glad I bothered to check in, because I can attain this experience sans invoking the presence of another life on over populated, lopsided planet earth.

Examples?  Rock climbing for one… I have been climbing for just over a year now… when I first got started, I was on the precipice of accepting rock climbing as my lord and savoir.  To me it was what yoga was supposed to be.  When I was on the wall, I was ON THE WALL.  Nowhere else.  This is the UNION that is the goal and essence of any yoga practice.  But when I practice yoga asana, I am the starry eyed dreamer in the outfield, marveling at butterflies and crushing on imaginary boys.  On the wall, I am holding on for my life.  I am determined, focused and confronting my edges.  To me this is heaven.  But then I shifted out of that phase.  I improved just enough to get lazy.

Climbing has also served as such a potent mirror for my mind.  My self imposed limitations.  When it’s just me and the wall, I can hear the voices in my head, loud and clear.  Especially the one whose mantra is, “I CAN’T.”  Lame.  But eye opening.  While climbing, I discovered this familiar edge where I would fail and become so angry at myself for failing and all the while, the mantra lullaby singing inside my head would be, “I can’t, I suck, I can’t I suck I can’t I suck.”  Oh and don’t forget the volcanic, reactive, “FUCK THIS” verse of the lullaby.  I call myself the John Macenroe of climbing.  Sometimes I feel so much rage on the wall.  I can’t hold it in.  I have had some pretty pathetic tantrums in the gym.  So I stopped doing challenging climbs for like six months.  I did not want to navigate those feelings.  Until recently.  It was during the time of my recent urges to break up with Mykael.  My current evolution is softly demanding that I encounter these demons inside me.  It is time for me to use my anger as power, rather than use it to flog and punish myself, keeping my in a crippled paralysis.  Even if I don’t make it all the way up the wall, I am learning to feel successful anyway.  Honestly… one can only effortlessly clamber up walls, reaching the top without batting an eye for so long before it is just straight up BORING. Zzzzzzz… Watching myself transform, loving myself as I do my best and fail and struggle with my edges.  Fuck it’s beautiful!  So beautiful.

Another example is writing.  I want to take being a writer as far as possible. I want to awaken and inspire EVERYONE! I want to earn a living doing what I am passionate squared, no passionate CUBED about!  Or at least die trying.  I will give it everything I’ve got and no matter WHAT happens, at least I will feel used up in the holiest way.  Sacredly, dharmically spent and bottomlessly happy.

Shoot, I had a few things to say about Jesus… And a report on the second round of relationship silence… but the word count is already over thirteen hundred… and the beat goes on… God, please grace me with tomorrow.  Another blessed day to spill my mystical mind’s guts and my eager heart out upon the page.  And God?  Please bless all whose eyes dance across this page.  May they find something of themselves here.  Something healing, soothing and true.  Amen.

No One Told Me It Would Be Like This

What is it about a freshly blossoming female?  She is neither girl nor woman, but a sumptuous entity all her own.  I think it is okay for me to broach this subject…as a woman… if a man were to describe his fascination with the pubescent girl he sees regularly at the climbing gym, he would surely be condemned as a pervert.  But me?  I’m a woman.  A good, honest, God thumping citizen, who has even paid taxes once or twice!  So I for some reason have a little more permission to say that this girl makes herself into quite an enticing little morsel.  (If I were her parent, I imagine I’d feel into some jagged edges around setting my little baby free to express herself versus not wanting to set her free on the streets looking like a freshly hatched sexual invitation…)

She is tiny.  No trace of woman curves.  Except she has these darling new born boobies that rock!  Seriously.  She wears bras that push them up into little understated mounds of ivory cleavage.  Over that, she wears a very minimal, low cut tank top. (usually a red one)  On the bottom, she wears skin tight jeans with a hole in the knee.  Her hair is long and blond and a little tangly.  Around her wide, child’s eyes, she wears a tasteful rim of black.  I bet she’s thirteen.  Whenever she is in my vicinity, I find myself studying her.  Honestly, I can see why men would be involuntarily, biologically excited by a little girl like this.  Sheesh, even I am.  She is a strange cocktail of freshness and danger, innocence and wildness.  She’s so small, but with such promise of impending fullness.  Beholding her is looking at a masterfully crafted poem.

Thanks to this modestly spicy little creature, I can almost understand why my step dad freaked out when I painted my fingernails a bold, mauvy-pink color for the first time.  I was either thirteen or fourteen.  I sat down at the dinner table and he exclaimed that it was a color that a prostitute would wear.  I had been so thrilled to take a preliminary dive into the pool of sensual, feminine play, and in an instant I was thrown on the defense and wondering somewhere inside, if I had done something quintessentially wrong.  Did I really look like a prostitute with my shiny, pink nails?  I had only meant to be beautiful and express myself.  But I suppose it is an odd thing for a man to suddenly perceive his daughter as attractive.

This brings me to another topic… Becoming a woman.  In my experience, it was a journey as arduous and lonely as inventing the wheel.  Nobody told me it would take thirty years.  And neither did anyone tell me that once I was a woman, I would still feel like the same child inside.  Seriously, I look out my eyes, I feel through my heart, and it is the same ageless, being of perpetual innocence, wonder and heavy wisdom that has always taken up residency here.  The only thing that has changed is that I have more responsibility.  I can’t just hang out at my best friend’s desk drawing cartoons of older boy next door, who simultaneously grossed me out and turned me on.  I suppose I could do that after the bills have been paid and the children fed… Grin.

I wonder if it is like that for all women… I suppose if my mom was more open and communicative about all topics woman, it could have been different.  But she didn’t say much to me on the subject.  Slowly, over much time, I just found myself inhabiting a woman’s body.  No, scratch that, I was far from inhabiting my “woman’s body”.  I think that’s really what becoming a woman has meant for me, is learning to actually INHABIT my body.  I didn’t begin to feel glimmers of hope in that arena until I was twenty seven or twenty eight years old.  Before that?  My body did NOT feel like a comfortable, safe or inspiring place to hang out.  Remember, I had an eating disorder (over eating) in my late teens and early twenties, which meant that my body was a place of S-H-A-M-E, hiding, repulsion… and my mind was perpetually fixated on what I would eat next… until I ate and felt repulsed and then I would scheme my plot for impending starvation.  Man, talk about prison.  Talk about hell.  And it was all in staunch secrecy.  When I say that shame is an emotion meant to guard the fortress of imagined separation, I am not kidding.  What an ingenious mechanism to perpetuate the campaign for separation!  It was impossible for me to just be with others, with myself, with the moment.  Then, add to that chronic constipation, scoliosis, shoulder pain, difficulty drawing a full breath.  Yeah, there was no way I was gonna drop down and feel all the unwieldy sensations and emotions that were festering in my tortured human form.

What shifted?  Years of yoga practice, healing (and self discipline) around my relationship to food, a commitment to exploring and unfolding my sexuality, and a willingness to feel my belly.  A willingness to feel my belly.  Seriously, I think that might be the key to the Queendom.

When Mykael and I were at dinner the other night, (remember, the “date night” from hell?) we were seated at the community table, which I wanted to report actually saved our lives, because we ended up making friends with the women next to us, and that diffused some of the immense pressure we had built up between us… (the moral of that story is that we need to get out and socialize more.)  Before we officially invited our brooding selves into the sunshine party next door, I overheard the woman next to me talking about dieting.  So many women incessantly diet, don’t we?  I forget that sometimes, because many of my friends are not dieters… that I know of.  So mostly the topic is off my radar.  (My neurosis around food these days are more in the vein of “is eating this going to make me constipated or exhausted?”)

But you know what?  Fuck dieting.  Dieting is an obsession.  Once the diet is over, then what?  Then you whiplash to the other end of the spectrum as a natural function of depriving yourself for so long.  I used to be terrified that I’d inevitably be fat one day.  But somewhere along the line, that fear vanished.  Now I just focus on eating nourishing, balanced meals, and actually feeling my body as I do so.  I exercise regularly, not because I “SHOULD”, but because my mind and body function with more lucidity and vitality when I do.  Many times a day, I remember to release my awareness down into my belly and I realize that I have been holding it in.  Sometimes letting go feels like work… Something in me is so habituated to holding on.  I remember when I wore my first bikini. I think it was around the same time that I painted my nails like a prostitute.  I was a little bit squishy around the middle, and when I wore it in front of my step dad’s family, one of his sisters poked at my squish and told me to suck it in.  That was a pivotal moment in losing my innocence, a moment I became painfully aware of how I looked.  Not that I didn’t have any body issues before that moment… I did.  But that was the beginning of a committed practice of shamefully sucking my belly in.

As women, we are trained to do this.  It makes perfect sense.  When I just let myself FEEL my belly, there is so much energy in there.  I feel alive, turned on, creative, powerful, intuitive.  It’s been a popular topic to discuss the return of the Divine Feminine these days.  Collectively, we are aware of the nearing of the end of this destructive, imbalanced cycle of patriarchy…you know what I’m talking about… all the recent Goddess buzz… The domination of the patriarchy never would have gotten away with it if women were at home in our bodies.  Our bodies are sanctuaries of wisdom, temples of boundless pleasure and intuitive magic.  And if we all knew this, the world would be quite a different place.  Not to say that we DON’T know… Slowly, we are waking up.  But I wonder how quickly dieting would become obsolete if we all just let go of our bellies and made ourselves at Home, from the INSIDE out.