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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Liberation of Loss

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It’s wild to remember a time not too long ago, when I used to write every day, because I had nothing else going on, and it was a structure that I clung to for sanity and salvation.  That was twenty twelve.  Now it’s twenty seventeen, and I have to breathe fire and wield exotic weapons to claim this modest sliver of sacred space for words to flow from my heart into your mind and Beyond.  There are so many consuming demands constantly leaping at my throat.  And when I finally touch down on the page, I doubt my mind and the content of my life…. the world as it lives inside me feels like primordial soup, so far from coherency and definition.  Maybe it always will… I keep waiting for a day to dawn where my Self is a bold, articulated form, emerging from said ocean of soup.  The Self of my wildest dreams– activated, aligned Priestess.  Fearless leader and lover of a new world.

But meanwhile I cocoon in my little house in the woods, making literal soup.  Not an ocean of soup…. but an impressively substantial, woman-made lake of soup.  Yesterday’s soup turned out mediocre (the flavors wouldn’t blend into a smooth, alchemical romance, and no matter how long I cooked the chickpeas, they refused to become perfectly tender…) and as a result, I went to bed wondering if I was depressed.  Actually, I woke up wondering if I’m depressed too…

But nah… I vote no.  I think it’s just impatience… mingling with the small creative failure of offering sub-par soup.  Nothing a deep breath can’t alleviate.

And now for one more semi-frivolous “aside”, before I dive into the meat and potatoes of my soul and life:  At the urging of a few of my “fans”, I submitted my last blog entry (“The Death of my Ma”) to Elephant Journal.  I was pretty certain there was no way they’d be able to resist this offering of poetically woven depth and raw, naked sharing.  But they did.  Because it was “too autobiographical”.  They said that they are a publication “by the community, for the community” and only accept pieces spoken in the language of “us” and “we”.

To that semantical nonsense, I can only reply “Get fucking real, Elephant Journal”.  Isn’t it obvious that my story, my unrelenting commitment to nakedness is FOR YOU?  Even a halfwitted moron has the intelligence to read my heart-stained words and touch something intimate and essential within their own life and depths.  Sigh… I guess that wasn’t my venue.  Because I will not compromise my voice.

And now for the main course.  Today it is three weeks since my Ma’s exit from this fabulously rigorous earth drama.  I’m not sure if that’s a looooong time…. or short.  I bet you would say it is short.  But consider that we talked EVERY DAY.  So three weeks without her actually feels like wandering an infinite loop of barren existence.  Actually, I was being dramatic.  The past three weeks have been anything but barren.  But God, I miss her… and in that gaping dimension of her physical absence, I am wandering said infinite loop.  But thankfully, I am a multidimensional bitch.  And I’m actually delighted to announce that losing my Ma is nothing like I imagined it wold be.

I feel simultaneous shame and elation to admit that there is a part of me that is relieved that she has moved on.  Because… I am an outrageous creature… And as much as I endeavored to full throttle BE myself… I held back on her account.  Or maybe on MY account…. Because I didn’t want to make too many waves in our relationship.  A few waves, yes.  But I tried to be in control of the quantity and size of the waves.  And honestly, that was a subtly draining endeavor.  As she lay on her deathbed, I exclaimed to her, “Now I can write whatever I want in my blog!”  She smiled and acknowledged this to be true.  There was always a sober and moralistic Jiminy Cricket perched on my shoulder, hissing in my ear that I oughtn’t say this or that… because it would offend my Mama.  Who knows, maybe he’s still there.  But if he dares to pipe in now, he’d better be prepared to have his adorable cricket guts squashed out!!!

Do you want to know the truth of me?  I am a wild and timeless tantric Priestess.  A sexual healer.  My path to and through and with and for God is through the my heavenly body and deeeep into this dense and wondrous world of form.  I always felt the need to hide my sexuality from my mom.  Sexuality was something she never addressed with me.  She never talked to me about the blood that flowed from my womb… the sacred power of desire…. the beauty and holiness of my pussy.  I suppose this is because HER mother never addressed it with HER.  And I suppose this is a result of our line of ancestral wounding.  And the collective suppression of the Divine Feminine.  But it aches me to carry this wound.  I am here to bring the wound of my lineage to the Light for ultimate transmutation and healing.  I am here to reunite sex and God.  For the healing of this planet.

At a personality level, this statement probably would have made my Mama squirm.  But at a soul level, she is ALL FOR IT.  My powerful ownership of my sexuality as whole and HOLY is a healing for her and her mother and all mothers and grandmothers and daughters backward and forward in time.   

I don’t know exactly HOW to execute this essential alchemy.  It is far beyond “me”.  But I do know that the entry point is honesty.  Honesty about who I am and what I know deep down in my soul.  My path of healing is to integrate and embody the divine wisdom that lives in my soul.  My body still carries the wounding of my ancestors… to some degree… though I have already healed a lot.  But there is more.  I still feel a gap between what I know inside, and what I embody.  It is my destiny to live as the unimpeded, ecstatic radiance of LOVE.   And if you think that sounds outrageous…. IT IS!!!

…But WE (eat your heart out, Elephant Journal!!!) are the Second Coming.

And our time has come.

Blessed BE.

The Death of my Ma

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Something I love about this human adventure, is that no matter how many times I have zipped myself into a glorified meat suit, it always occurs as a novelty.  Riveting and shocking and mysterious.  I mean… you’d think I’d be pretty hum-drum about birth and death by now… given that this old soul has been around the damn block enough times to turn to melty butter like the tigers of our beloved, banned children’s book of yesteryore, Little Black Sambo.  I know it’s taboo to talk about Little Black Sambo, circa 2017.  I guess it was a racist book.  But the five year old me had no idea.  She was simply captivated by Little Black Sambo’s hero’s journey– being stalked by tigers and finally rising victorious by tying their tails together, so that they ran circles around the tree he took refuge in, until they smeared into perfectly churned butter.  Which he and his parents (Black Mumbo and Black Jumbo) slathered on their epic, towering stacks of pancakes.

Alas, the death of my mother still comes as a shock.  Even as I type these words, I feel quiet tremors of incredulity that she will not discover this post in her inbox and drink it with her soft, radiant, soul-filled eyeballs.  Her inbox will slowly overflow with unrequited communications, collecting virtual dust until the End of Time.  Dear Sumitra has left the building.  This is as damn near as “at a loss for words” as I’ve ever been.  But as a writer, this tragic wordlessness doesn’t really fly…  So I’m going to raise my sword to the holy heavens and charge onward.  Just sayin’… there’s a lot of pauses and humble deep-dives into silence and stillness over here as I excavate my raw thoughts and feelings on the subject of my mother’s recent exit.

It came as a sudden, crafty plot-twist.  Sure, she had cancer… but Dr. Campbell assured her that it was “the most curable form of cancer”, and that with a piddly six months of chemo therapy, she’d be cancer free for the rest of her life, ready and able to resume all of her previously appointed duties, namely caring for her small and radiant granddaughter.  She almost made it to the halfway point of her treatments.  Then suddenly, she could barely breathe.  She went to the emergency room and they admitted her to ICU, ran a thousand tests and diagnosed her with pneumonia.  After more than a week of heavy antibiotics, she showed no signs of improvement.  More chest x-rays revealed that her lungs were destroyed beyond repair.  Dr. Campbell confessed that it was due to an ingredient in the chemotherapy.  I got a highly disturbing call from the hospital on wednesday, March 15 (my Ma always enjoyed telling me to “beware of the Ides of March), just before 7am, in which a male nurse with some sort of heavy asian accent relayed a cryptic message culminating with the news that my Ma wished to be “made comfortable”.

Made comfortable.  Who knew that those two words could be so laden with razor blades and arsenic.  Jesus.  My heart dropped into my toes, my breath stopped, my stomach twisted up.

But I’m not here to regale all of the concrete facts and stiff, linear logistics.  It’s the enchanting, dim twilight of in-between spaces that matter to me. Gentle impressions and coy whispers from the Beyond within my own hidden reaches.

Once it was determined that God was calling her hOMe, she was all in!  God dammit, she was so young… Sixty-nine.  And a half.  But she was done.  I guess years are only one unit of measurement  of a human life.  The one which is most universally accepted… but in terms of love given and received, extraordinary children born, raised and released into the wilds of a civilized, first world, capitalist culture… in terms of pouring herself forth into myriad eclectic jobs and housing situations…. Friendships devotionally tended… leaves passionately raked… spiritual progress made… lattes savored, chocolate croissants ravaged…. There are endless units of measurement that would indicate a life mission fulfilled.  Except being there to watch her precious granddaughter blossom.  Insert shattered heart icon here.

Deep breath.

I was afraid that her sudden absence would be like my beloved Dan’s– an abrupt departure, with no trace.  For the past five years, I’ve grappled unsuccessfully to communicate with Dan… resolving again and again that this dense capricorn is simply not adept at communicating with etherial realms.  But thank GOD, it’s different with my own mother.  My body is made from hers.  Our hearts are like The Blob.  Spliced units of the same goopy mass of divinity.  I mean, I guess all of our hearts are that… since our deepest truth beyond form is Unity…. But this raw unity is way more exaggerated between mother and daughter.

Loss is the obvious dimension of the death of one’s mother.  Like duh.  But who talks about the profound and holy gains of Her departure?  I’m sure SOMEbody must… but it certainly isn’t a mainstream conversation, as I believe it should be.  If I had a nickel for every time someone numbly regurgitated the socially appropriate words, “I’m sorry for your loss”… No offense if you are one of them.  I know that death is awkward, and not something most of us face head on.  But you could just as easily say to me, “I’m so happy for your gain!”  Or, “Congratulations on your sudden, warp-speed soul evolution!”

My ma left me with a shattered heart.  Well… maybe not quite shattered.  But certainly more than garden-variety “broken”.  At least some Grand Canyon cracks in numerous, significant places.  Enough such that the busted dam of Oceanic Love is screaming through the invisible center of me.  I have officially taken my seat amongst the cream of the ecstatic, God-drunk poets.

She died at just after ten am on Saint Patrick’s Day.  My brother Daniel, Serena and I had all spent the night in the hospital with her.  She was deluged with high doses of morphine, breathing desperately all night.  Morning came, and it was hard to determine when she’d let go.  I had plain old life to attend to, I went to her side, put my hand on her still-warm, beating heart.  I could feel the tremendous effort of her lungs, desperately sucking in air.  I spoke from my heart, “Be free” and “You did amazing” and “I love you.  Always”.  I let go of attachment to being there when she actually left her body for good.  I scooped up my tiny goddess and headed for the parking lot.  Just as I was about to drive away into the crisp, bright, spring morning, Daniel called in tears and said, “Come back up here.”  She had left minutes after we departed.  I’ve since heard that this is a common phenomena.

Her mouth was wide open, her eyes closed.  Her body void of light and life.  What an incredible sight to see my Mama’s empty husk.

I asked her before she left… even before I knew the time was so fucking soon… if she’d please share with me some of her Divine Revelations as she re-emerged into Light-Unbounded.  I can’t remember her response…. but even so, she honored my request.  I felt my crown chakra splayed wide, as though I had splattered across the sky, the entire day of her departure.  And even into the next day.  It was as if I died too.

I did die.   I am still dying.  Raw and skinless.  Churning moosh in a fragile cocoon.

Soon it will be Easter, and I will RISE.

There is more… More revelation, more grief, more transmutation of pain, alchemy of soul, IN-sight.

But this is enough for today.  Serena will soon stir… and my Dear Brother and I have much work ahead of us, sorting through our Mama’s worldly belongings.  Yes, it’s really true– you CAN’T take it with you.  Wink.

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.

I’m Back. With a Heart Freshly Shattered.

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But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

T’is the east, and Athena Grace LMNOP is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she. . . .

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars

As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven

Would through the airy region stream so bright

That birds would sing and think it were not night.

Yes my Beloveds, I, Athena Grace LMNOP am back… Mainlining Heavenly brightness to your heart and mind with renewed, impassioned, whitewater currents!!!  I didn’t mean to be away this long… but for the month of November, I spearheaded a small online group committed to writing a poem a day for the entire month (which also entailed the grace of reading each others poems). This endeavor, to which I was fiercely committed, gobbled up every single spare second of my incessantly demanding existence.  And then some.  But the good news, is that I rocked it.  And I mean smoking’ gun style.  I wasn’t sure if I could still write poetry… it had been so damn long.  But I guess a poet is just what I am… cuz when I touched pen to naked page, it just poured out like pee and poop.  An essential byproduct of living with an open, ever-curious and hungry heart.  (I dare you to demand that I share some of my latest poems here in Athena Graceland!!!)

Then came December.  Then came Athena Grace drawing in a hella deep breath.  And releasing said breath.  As it turns out, the day that will live in infamy is actually DECEMBER SECOND, not the seventh.   That was the day my blood turned to cold, white lightening.  The day that contained the precise, lucid moment when I faced the possibility of losing my Ma way sooner than I ever imagined.  

Actually, for the past few years, I have imagined losing her on a semi-regular basis, so that I never take her warm, luminous presence in my life for granted.  Despite my “impermanence exercise”, parents still occurred as immortal… probably because they are the ones who have been a constant since before the beginning…  Anyway, I give myself an A+ for savoring time with my Ma.  But that didn’t  make the semi-sudden threat of losing her any more gentle and delicious.  

Last week, she asked me not to blog about it.  I think she might have changed her mind by now… but just in case, I shall remain vague and elusive.  This *could* be considered poor form… to evade the jugular, ignore the bling-clad, neon pink elephant on the page.  But, as the self-proclaimed Picasso of the literary domain, it is my prerogative to break rules.  Especially if it is the only way that I am able to show up for my self-ascribed literary duty at this time.  So let’s explore how I can olympic figure skate around this enticing elephant in mother’s clothing, and still win the GOLD.  And when she’s ready, I have unpublished blogs waiting in the wings… so you can taste the recent rainbow of my heart as destroyed by Kali Ma herself.  

Ok, so which burning bush shall I beat around?  Do you want to hear about “Toot”?… A book I recently checked out of the library “for Serena”.  It’s about farts, and I was SO excited to read it to her the second we got home.  I could barely get the words out, I was laughing so damn hard.  She had no clue what was going on.  Or I could tell you that Serena’s new favorite food is spirulina!  Yes, it has taken the lead, over sauerkraut, beef and dill pickles!  Or that I was planning to cut down my own christmas tree.  The first tree of my adult life.  Yes, I’m thirty six and I haven’t had a christmas tree since I was a disgruntled seventeen year old, living “at home”.  Whoa.  I felt conflicted about taking the life of an innocent tree… I was gonna try to ASK the tree permission.  But I doubted my ability to talk to trees… and my heart clenched when I thought about executing this indulgent murder.  Then on sunday evening, Serena and I were out walking and stumbled upon a PERFECT tree that had already been slaughtered, and was just laying in the mud, dying a slow, tragic death.  A tenacious, modern-day pioneer woman, I hoisted her up on top of Serena’s stroller and she wafted piney perfume all the way home.  How’s THAT for amazing grace?!  For my next modest miracle, I shall pull innovative decorations out of my ass!… I could tell you that I’ve always had a mental block against Shakespeare… but reading the snippet of Romeo and Juliet at the opening of this blog has tickled my poetic sensibilities.  I can see myself diving into the oceanic depths of his literary genius and being born again.

Nah.  I’m gonna stick with the enticing meat and potatoes on my heart’s plate. I still dunno if my Ma will stay or go.  I guess we never know, even when we imagine we do.  And this, my friends is a gorgeous crucible of human existence.  But touching the possibility of life without her, I have turned back toward Ed (my married baby daddy), and am clinging with renewed fervor.  I had made such strides in letting go… I have mixed feelings about this “regression”.  There is such a stubborn fighter in me.  I have loved my fight for Ed.  I have fought hard for “The Dream of US” (That’s the perfect tittle for my book about falling hopelessly in love and making a baby with a married man as a ruthless, spiritual crucifixion!… (and Resurrection, I hope…) for four years.  And some essential and deep part of me is… fulfilled?… by engaging in this impossible battle.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been on my knees, blood and tear soaked, asking myself if I might want to consider choosing a more intelligent fight….

But… It means something to me that we have a child together.  And I *wanted* to create that “forever” bond with Ed, because our love is boundless and eternally compelling.  We are able to merge and taste a rare, pure unity.  This has kept us going in the face of our excruciating circumstances and inexcusable humanness.  Relationships oughtn’t be so disposable as they have become in our contemporary, strip mall, ravenously consuming society.  Oh Virtuous Athena… where does that leave his marriage then?  Fuck, I don’t know.  I got myself in a hopeless tangle.  If I had a shiny, gold Sacajawea dollar for every time I felt suffocated by the claustrophobic trap of my choices in Love… scrambled desperately to find the glowing Exit sign… only to discover there AIN’T one… 

The only thing even resembling an Exit sign is stopping dead in my desperate tracks, putting my hand on my heart and speaking “I LOVE YOU.”  Over and over and over and OVER again.  In the face of Life’s panoply of tragedies, colossal disappointments and triumphs alike.  This morning, as I was leafing through my precious (100% recycled!) notebook, I revisited a few potent nibbles of the notes I took when I heard Matt Kahn (my spiritual teacher) speak in Berkeley last month.  This one leapt off the page: 

“When the ego unravels, you will always feel alone.”

I became wildly jazzed…. Something fabulous might actually be occurring beneath the surface of this opulent buffet of tragedy and ache.  Like maybe I actually have a chance to realize a deeper cut of the God (Love) within me, and within ALL.  Like maybe the greatest blessing of my Existence, is that I can’t find the infernally blazing Exit sign… and that the pain can be excruciating.  That there is no one to catch me when I fall…. and instead I land with a clumsy, shattering thud, right in the stark and holy center of my Self.  Maybe it is fantastic that I can’t reassemble the broken shards of my heart and life.  

I must be saying something true, because suddenly I could cry.

It’s six fifty am.  I hear Serena stirring in the bedroom.  

Well, I’m glad to be hOMe.  I’ve missed you.   

Breathing into Life and Death… and Beyond

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I wonder if the caterpillar mush inside a cocoon cries out, and kicks the cursed walls of its vessel of scared Becoming… because it’s all frustrated, molten passion, bound and tragically wingless.  I bet.

I report this often, but it truly is an ever-new experience:  I just drew in a slow, deep breath… and in doing so, remembered my Self.  It was revelatory.  And I was not expecting it… I was all twisted up in the mental concept of being trapped within the confining walls of my current alchemical “prison”, until an inhale overtook me and I was reborn.  Thank God.  I believe in the queendom and the power and the GLORY of the breath.  I believe that it is a one way ticket to intimacy with Everything.  I believe that we can offer our love to ALL with every exhale, and transform the Fabric of Reality.  Sometimes I forget that I believe this…. which is why I am sooo glad that we are having this little, intimate chat.  I don’t know what I’d do without you!!

I also want to believe that I die with every exhale… but that lofty concept still remains a bit out of my reach… like it’s in a shiny wrapper atop God’s fridge, and I am a toddling infant, merely tantalized by its seductive, untouchable existence.

I was intending to segue into the elusive yet compelling topic of death right about now… but I must admit that this is an intimidating endeavor!  I will take a stab! (Oh haha that’s a pun!)(I’m almost certain that was the first pun I’ve ever served up here in Athena Graceland!  Eight years in…. Wish I had a bell to ring…)  Because it just so happens that another of my latest (kamikaze) missions is to befriend failure!  So this is like a two for one sale– take a stab at death, befriend failure along the way, PLUS, act now and you get a free bonus PUN.

Death.  (I just breathed again.)  I’ve never read The Tibetan Book of the Dead… but I’ve heard whispered rumors that its premise is Life as a practice ground for dying.  Even though I don’t totally understand this, it illuminates a knowing in my soul.  (Gosh, there went another serious breath!  Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m touching on something juicy.)

My abiding, essential spiritual inspiration (I cringe at the title “Spiritual Teacher”, because it has become a fad.  A totally trendy, new age thing to “have”.  And Matt Kahn doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal.  His mission is to awaken the Master in ALL, through the power of Love.  This sounds sensible to me.), Matt Kahn often shares that he spent ten years dying… In orderer to become the clear channel of Infinite Love that he is now.  Between healing sessions he offered, he lay on his couch, wrapped in a blanket, shivering, shaking and… dying.   Glamorous, eh?

I often use that snippet of his story as a reference point… as I come undone.  My whole journey with the father of my daughter has been woven with threads of colossal heartbreak and disappointment… as well as shimmering, sensuous threads of ecstasy and oneness.  Ha!…Sometimes when Serena meets a moment of profound frustration, wisdom smiles through me, singing out, “Oh, the agony and the ecstasy…”  She is such a lucid expression of the human condition.  No filters.  And now, I am mother to my own Innocence, singing the same sentence of unsolvable ISness.  God help me.

The agony and the ecstasy indeed.  But in these excruciating moments, when I am shattered and no one can save me (I hate that!!!), I think of Matt Kahn dying in his blanket, and our favorite Lord and Savior, Jesus dying on the cross… and I remind myself that if I *entirely* relax to the experience, allow it obliterate what is not real, what I no longer need for the Journey ahead… that I might actually be getting “somewhere”.  Somewhere of genuine value.

I’m afraid of dying in the most obvious sense… leaving my body, and no longer having the sacred, galactic privilege of being “Athena Grace”.  I can’t imagine that my soul has ever been such a resplendent character… Even though it has been a long, difficult, lonely and perplexing road, I am such an ingenious divine poem in the flesh… I feel outrageously fortunate to be so wildly expressive, deeply feeling, impassioned, articulate… and especially to love so huge.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Plus, at a more rudimentary level, I’m afraid of pain.  It seems like it might really hurt to leave this body…

But it couldn’t hurt any more that F-ing CHILDBIRTH for God’s sake!!!!!  That was the most excruciating twelve hours of my entire life (not to mention the time-slurring aftermath of having my recklessly torn labia sewn back up… but at least I got to hold my sleeping bundle of heaven through this portion of the torturous joy-ride).  And now that I think about it, I DID die.  So what’s the big deal, Athena??

Maybe I’m afraid to LIVE.  Afraid to FAIL.  Afraid to GIVE EVERYTHING of myself… to offer my voice and my love so vulnerably and risk being rejected or misunderstood.  It’s a trendy stance to take that “it’s not failure we’re truly afraid of, but SUCCESS”… this might be true… but if it is, I can’t access my “fear of success”.  I yearn from my depths to be a famous writer.  To me, this is the ultimate manifestation of soul-full success– to uncork and decant my heart as worlds of words that heal, bless and transform others, for the wellbeing of ALL.   And to be financially supported this way.  God I want to graduate from the janky domain of “just scraping by”… take vacations, cut generous checks to world-elevating charities… and heck, just to not break a sweat about needing a goddamn haircut or winter boots… or new pants that make me feel outrageously awesome and gorgeous.  And what about that raw opal ring I lust for??  Not to mention all of the stuff I want Serena to have access to… like gymnastics, dance, piano lessons, horseback riding, art classes, international travel….

Inhale.

Exhaaaale.

Death.  A couple of mornings ago, I dreamt of my deceased beloved, Dan.  In the dream, he was my longterm substitute teacher.  He wore a cashmere sweater, which perfectly portrays the texture of his soul– soooo soft and gentle and wonderful to touch.  I awoke and cried a surprising sea of tears into the solitary darkness.  I realized that I was grieving the passion that poured forth from me, into our Joining.

In this current, parched, solitary chapter of my walk-about through Infinity, I feel so much passion inside.  My body is aflame, and this potent energy has nowhere to flow.  Naturally, I am exaggerating, because, duh, it’s flowing from my fingertips into your eyeballs, right this second… It’s just that my life is such sacred drudgery these days.  Yes, my passion flows into Serena’s Miraculous Unfurling, too.  And this is beyond wonderful.   I guess it’s just my Poet’s Heart, exploded wide open and groping at the weird fabric of Creation, with the holy mission of “knowing itSelf”.  And when you try to fathom Infinity copping a feel of it’s own boundlessness… you can see that this could be fertile ground for insatiable yearning.  Sigh.  Maybe this relentless holy inferno is just my nature.  Breathe into THAT ONE, Athena…

I want some friggin relief.  I want to make exquisite delicious, soul-merging love… dance into untamed nirvana … swim unbounded in warm, turquoise oceans… roller-skate through Golden Gate Park with Serena on an excruciatingly pristine sunny day… AND ESPECIALLY— pour my passion-stained words into the minds of the masses and explode hearts into zillions of dancing, winged stars.

Death… Maybe it is the courage to inhabit one’s Life with Totality, openness and ignited passion… After all, what of “ourself” can withstand this Ultimacy of Presence?  When one is fully given to each newborn breath, to the shimmering pulsation of NOW… one cannot exist as a collection of limiting habits, beliefs and limitations.  One is….

One IS.

(I guess I still have more to discover about life and death… But I celebrate myself for taking a courageous stab at this wicked, daunting topic!!)

May we all be willing to die to ourselves and emerge as exquisite, winged Masters of Love.

Scorpion Medicine and the Life of my Dreams

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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.

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