The Ultimate Alchemy

RadiantHeart

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

I doubt it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe we ALL are.

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

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

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

And the Winner is… Athena!!!!!

unnamed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love to your precious heart….

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

Illusions Crumble Like Crusted Mud

I guess I’m a natural born yogi… I’m so content in my gloriously sparse, exceedingly simple, gigantic little room in the ex-seventh day adventist boarding school turned spiritual community. Especially at five twenty-four am. Especially with the window open and the music of wind chime-strewn rain whispering in. I almost wish it would stay five twenty-four am all day… or at least for a few more hours… so I could sit here in the brisk, musical anonymity of pre-dawn, sipping chai tea, and hot water with lime, and writing about my life and my spiritual journey, and my fierce longing to perfect the art of LOVING.

But I know that if I knew I was condemned to a world where the clock was stuck on five twenty-four am for an entire day, I’d feel emprisoned, rather than graced. Sigh. It’s all such a mind fuck. Yes. I said fuck. Being in a spiritual environment, I have really curbed my potty mouth. But like crispy, fatty, salty bacon, every once in a while, ya just gotta get on it.

Anyway, I want to tell you that I am finding something real and deeply meaningful as I glide like a serviceful swan, across the placid lake of my days here at Ananda Laurelwood. “Glide like a serviceful swan”… Really Athena? Ummm… well… at least from an ariel view. Up close it might not occur so smooth. And from the inside, it’s more like a grimy, Harlem alley on garbage day. Well. Last week it was. But this week… Well… I can feel “old stuff” falling off naturally like the dry-caked mud that forms on my shoes after one of our weekly intern hikes, on which it inevitably is raining. No, it doesn’t rain every day… But always on thursdays. Yeah, like sad-eyed pound puppies, Miriam and Lewis take us off campus and let us frolic about in the mud, and drink in fresh air and nature once a week… Yes, I realize that last sentence didn’t have the most ergonomic flow to it. Miriam and Lewis are not the pathetic pound puppies! We, the interns are! They are the benevolent masters. Benevolent indeed… to enable us to romp in the wet, mossy forests of northern Oregon.

But before I got diverted by the need to offer you a few crumbs of the delicious, isness of my current rhythms, I was saying that the mud on my figurative shoes fell off. Even since two days ago when I last took you on a guided tour of Athena Graceland. I remember, I was whimpering about how my Relationship with Ed was bludgeoning my heart to death…. and about how people on the spiritual path rubbed my raw nerves. But, like alchemical magic, as soon as I wrote it all down, it dissolved. There is a process occurring here, that is intelligent and intricate beyond my comprehension. It is informed by the longing of my soul to live truth, and be free.

I mean, on the surface, it SEEMS like I am just here washing dishes, vacuuming and leading sadhanas; eating ingeniously crafted, love drenched vegetarian meals (I even have the love handles to prove it!) and dabbling in insomnia in the wee hours of the morning. Not so! Just beneath the surface, there is a heat that is turning me from lead into gold. I found the willingness to let go of Ed. And Alexandria (our unborn baby girl). And in that willingness, came a wash of unprecedented freedom. It wasn’t like I was pushing him away… It was more like I released that consuming, neurotic grasp on an unrealized and out of reach, imaginary future. But after the psychedelic flames and deep purple smoke of surrender cleared, surprise, surprise, he is still standing by my side. And our invincible love is more obvious than ever. Some things you just can’t fight. But after the mud crumbled off, I feel more deeply committed to and focused on my Relationship with God, and my slowly unfurling path of sacred service.

And now for the real miracle!… Yes, I mean besides the mere fact (or lucid fiction) of existence… The miracle is that after writing out my babyish complaints about the relational ineptitude of some “spiritually inclined people”, something released… I actually felt sad to have committed my clenched-hearted-judgements to the page. Sad for looking through critical eyes. Unforgiving eyes. All people are children of God. CHILDREN. We really are young and stupid as we play out these amnesiac, idiosyncratic rolls of intricate, ridiculous and educational earth drama. But so what? Does that make us any less lovable? NO! It makes us all the more endearing.

The birds outside are singing that urgent, impassioned, pre-dawn song. Hark! The light doth cometh…

But yeah. I’m learning something new about love… like I might not choose these people to hang out with, of my own volition. But that choosing stems from a personality level. And the personality is a shallow cut of who I am. I am INFINITE. And as I spread like sweet butter on a piping hot corn cob, into ever more conscious realization of my true nature, I realize that loving my fellow humans can really have very little, if anything to do with the level of personality. There is just something implicitly lovable about human beings. Our blindness and our longing, our unique creative genius and our crafty strategies to gain acceptance and a long abandoned sense worth and wholeness. It’s precious. And endlessly entertaining.

Studying A Course in Miracles, I am of the school that EVERYTHING is forgivable. Every thing. And that forgiveness is kinda like the friendly bacteria that lives in your gut. It breaks down ALL the material of life in duality, and makes it assimilable… so that our deepest being can take in all in as the love that it always was and always will be, beyond appearances.

Boo-YA! What more can I say after that?! That is EVERTHING; the only thing. I am so blessed to be on this silly and masterfully crafted path of awakening to the Reality of Love that cuts, like a subterranean river through the heart of all that is and beyond.

Om. Peace. Amen.

Shhhh…. Just Love.

I don’t want to talk about my Relationship again this morning… because it is currently a source of befuddlement and pain (in addition to the foundational qualities of deep connection and profound love)… I’m in this awkward place with it, where I move toward him, and it starts to hurt again, so I wonder if it’s *really* time to let go…. and move toward letting go, and guess what? It hurts too. So I move closer… and it hurts. I move away, and it hurts. And yes, this is a caricature sketch of my experience, rather than a scalpel precise cut. (And Ed, please don’t *react* to my testimony by needing to DO anything about it. The river is carrying us to the Land of Milk and Honey, no matter how we behave along the way. I’m just reporting on the scenery as we ecstatically thrash along the rapids…)

But I was serious (insert serious face here), when I said that I wasn’t gonna talk about it. (Except for a paragraph’s worth.) Instead, I shall talk about OTHER PEOPLE’S RELATIONSHIPS! At least for a semi-cheap paragraph… Hmm, this could end up being one of my more random blogs… kinda like the way my Ma cooks, when she’s freestylin… a few black beans, a half a potato, a tomato, a moderately sautéed onion, a few macaroni elbows, some herbs de provence, some cumin… Ummm… yeah, but you’ve gotta taste for the love beneath the anarchy! Gosh. I’m sure stepping on some toes in this blog. That’s the achilles heel of being a raw and interesting writer. If you are really committed to speaking your mind, you gotta deal with the inevitable, occasional wrong-way-rubbing. It’s not a job ya do for the “glamor”… strictly a compulsion of the soul.

So what’s here to express this morning, are some half-baked feelings about life in a spiritual community. It’s confusing for me, because I’ve got a wondering eye on “the future”… like is this microcosm of focused devotees, joined and working toward common goals something that I can see myself subscribing to for the long haul? In some moments it seems so obvious, like DUH, of course, Athena!… Where ELSE would you be, but with the meditating, serviceful GOD LOVERS??? But then in other moments, it all seems like such a sham! And people rub all up on my tender nerves…

I can’t help comparing the people here, to my Bay Area peeps. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area since I was less than two years old, I didn’t fully realize what a special place it is. Well, I sorta did… cuz I traveled enough to put my finger on the pulse of many other pockets of collective consciousness… But still, it’s easy to take the things that come easy for granted. I never had the experience of being the midwestern black sheep, who fled to the Bay Area like a tattered, starving refugee at age twenty-something, to find my kin. What I’m driving at, is that people in the Bay Are are so magnificently self aware and committed to the “work”, for the most part. They know how to relationally “get down” and share themselves and receive at a deep level. At least the people I surrounded myself with. People who did tons of personal growth, transformational work, and spelunking in wondrous caves consciousness. I find it not only refreshing, but deeply nourishing to connect with others at this level.

But surprisingly, here, there is much more of a spectrum of depth that people are available for. It seems like the spiritual path does not necessarily equate to depth of relating. I think many people substitute the spiritual path for “the work”… You know, the more rudimentary levels of growth, development and healing… the “stuff” fondly known as “our shit”… Areas of exploration that one might associate with the…dun, dun, dun….EGO!!!! Our friend the ego gets such a bad rap amongst “spiritual circles”. Like it’s some unsightly beast that requires continuous and covert beating into submissive mush. Sure, ultimately this notorious ISness will not be of any use to us as we merge back into the All Pervading Ocean of Love-Light. But in the mean time, it’s our benevolent vehicle through a vast jungle of “otherness”. We’d be utterly lost without this precious, confining sense of individuated identity.

Uh-oh, I feel myself getting sucked into the mires of nebulosity. Let me get Hemingway straight for a moment: I believe in the goodness of a healthy ego. And one of the dangers of walking a “spiritual path” (I put it in quotes, because I believe that the spiritual path takes as many forms as there are stars in the sky, or beings in the universe. If God is ALL, then ALL is God. And the only thing that supersedes that, is an individuals *temporary* commitment to ignorance, which is an unavoidable part of the dance of maya.) One of the dangers of walking a spiritual path, is SLEEP WALKING it. And using the teachings as a tool for avoidance of the inevitable (and endearing) pain of being human.

I guess I’m saying I miss my Bay Area friends. And the general cultural climate there. But then… That urban paradigm sure has its shortcomings… What a hoax, is the whole game of each wo/man for her/himself… living in little segregated boxes and ceaselessly striving, sweating and grasping to figure out the hidden formula for personal success and wealth. It just doesn’t make sense at this time. It’s exhausting. Sanity says that it’s time to come together and join for the common good. To give ourselves away in service of a world of harmony, kindness, balance and peace. I know, I’m being a hyper-critical perfectionist. And actually, God DESIGNED people to be hopelessly flawed and annoying, so that we would have ample opportunities to practice and perfect unconditional love and total forgiveness. Praise the lord! I’m just saying that I feel annoyed by people I perceive to be using the spiritual path to avoid sitting right in the messy center of their “stuff”. (fondly referred to as “the spiritual by-pass”) And I’m questioning whether I want a lifetime subscription to this slice of existence. It is very compelling… it is very repelling…

And another thing that weirds me out, is the way people around here behave in Relationship. Mostly, couples are so aloof and distant from one another, that it took me weeks to realize they were even together! I mean, to me, that’s just weird. Once Ed came to visit me at the Momshram. We had lunch at the Expanding Light with my Ma. After lunch I asked Ed if I could sit on his lap, and my Ma piped in, “No you can’t! There’s ‘decorum’ here.” I had to look up the word later…. but in the moment I knew that she meant that people don’t outwardly show affection around campus. It’s true. I’ve never seen anyone kiss or hug, or butt-grab, or deliciously squish on one another… It gets to be a bit of a buzz-kill after a few minutes. Shrug. I guess it’s not considered “yogic” to be affectionate… since one of our high-minded buddy, Patanjali’s yamas (“don’ts) was NON-SENSUALITY. Sigh. I don’t think he meant thou shalt not LOVE ON YOUR SWEETIE… I think he meant don’t identify AS, or be a little bitch to your senses. But come ON! Physical affection is ESSENTIAL to life. Babies who don’t get their snuggle on, DIE. And even though adults who do without touch don’t DIE, per se, essential parts of our healthy self-hood DO wither, and we DO act out in weird ways as a result of such starvation.

I’m just sayin’…. I’m not sure I could, in good conscience, sign up for a life-time subscription of this shade of nonsense.

But I do love being surrounded by meditators. And teachings of ultimate truth. And people who are committed to serving others, and being clear channels for God’s Love. Yogananda said “environment is stronger than will”. Which is why I have no desire to drink alcohol when I’m at Ananda… but then I go back to the Bay Area, and it’s not like I’m a booze hound… but I do like a glass of wine or a beer as often as it’s available to me! Just one. But… It’s not my highest. I want to be surrounded by those who are clearly aiming for the highest mark, of Self-Realization! The alternative is running around like a beheaded chicken. Which gets so stale, after a bazillion lifetimes… but… the details of the path are certainly imperfect. No matter which path one chooses to scale the towering “Mount Infinity”. This is just my mind scrambling for a strain of perfection that this world was not designed to offer. People, places, paths…. They’re all wrought with flaws, Mrs. Grace… Your job is to LOVE in the face of this unavoidable ISness, and keep your heart’s eyes on the “Big Prize”. Just love. And laugh. And when tears come, let them flow. Just keep letting go and letting God. And stop believing that you’ll ever “figure it out”… (notice that I didn’t say “stop trying”… because I like trying to figure it out… For SPORT…) but TRUE realization is borne of stillness and silence.

Shhhhh…. Just LOVE.

Om. Peace. Amen.

I’m Still Alive!!! And Then Some….

Hello from Athena Graceland! Ahhh… just writing those words… was like brushing fine silk across my tender cheek! I love it here!!! There truly is no place like home! Well, I have some fantastic news:

I finally mustered the courage to hurl the unicorns overboard!!!

Whaaaat is she talking about? Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might recall that I have written a couple of blogs over the distant months, (or maybe even YEARS) where I’ve whined about feeling stuck, stagnant, frozen. Which somehow inevitably jogged my wild mind to the Doors song, where Jim Morrison recites that poem about “when the still seas conspire in armor… true sailing is dead… and the first animal is jettisoned… legs furiously pumping…” and I learned that he was making reference to a time when sailors would be at sea, and the water would get dangerously still. No waves. And they’d essentially be motionless in the vast, gaping mouth of salty blue purgatory… so they’d throw their horses overboard, in hopes that their collective thrashing would stimulate enough motion to get them sailing again. God this human myth can be so gruesome and cruel.

But it was the perfect metaphor for the experience that I have struggled with from time to time along my path, creative, spiritual and otherwise (Wait… what else IS there besides creative and spiritual? I think any other categories of existence could easily be boiled down to one of those to words… and even those could be simmered down to ONE.) Ahem. And now to drive home the point!… I am in Oregon now. Remember, I was invited to the Ananda community, “Laurelwood”, here in the pacific northwest? I’ve been here for two and a half weeks… And already, entire casual sprays of spiral galaxies have burst and surged and smeared across the inner scapes of my being. Hallelujah! The unicorns have pumped me free!! How fitting that it came to pass at the threshold of the YEAR of the unicorn (“Horse”, for all of you squares out there!)…

The clock just struck five am. And I must exclaim that I am THRILLED to be here, opening up, tipping over, and pouring out like an ecstatic little tea pot! Surprise! I thought maybe I wasn’t a writer anymore. But no… my inner sea was just on holiday in the land of the dead. The neon OPEN sign has just buzzed and burst back on. I have undergone a transfusion of life and inspiration and freshness.

Why have I waited two and a half weeks to drop you a line from the perpetual happily-ever-afters (wink) of Athena Graceland? OMG, because I have been so freakin busy!! They make you WORK here!!! Well… not so much at first, thank Jahova! I’ve had time to ease into the flow here. But now I’m at a full throttle thirty-five hours a week of washing dishes, chopping vegetables, scrubbing ancient toilets, vacuuming endless flights of stairs, leading sadhanas, MAKING ART (My creative ignition deserves its OWN blog. Stay tuned!)… and then some!

When I first got here, I felt like a spoiled princess who was horrified by the idea of breaking a nail, or missing her afternoon nap. Okay, honestly, I am still not that jazzed about forgoing nap time… But I am easing into a refreshing surrender to life here. Sometimes that includes the *luxury* of an afternoon nap, and sometimes NOT. Sometimes it means my “full eight hours”, and sometimes it means five and a half. But always, it means an opportunity to LET GO and let “good”. I am submerged in goodness here.

Miriam invited me into this potent, transformative, divine slice of God’s dream. She was Swami Kriyananda’s nurse… until he split the scene of this earthen crack-house (wink!) last april. And then she came here to be a powerful conduit of Divine Mother’s Love in a place that sorely needed it. One of the great mysteries of life: Miriam and I have a deep, pure and potent bond that far transcends the meager crumbs of time we have imbibed together in this life. We share a grace-full familiarity that is generous, loving and expansive, like sliding into a perfectly hot, rose petal laden bath. Being near her sublime light, burns through any piddly cloud-cover that may cross my inner landscape. It’s actually quite miraculous. If I were to count my blessings, I’d put this Goddess at the top, like a cherry on a hot fudgy sunday! (I know, Ma!… “Sundae is spelled with an E!!!… But don’t you love imagining the holiest day of the week, all inundated with rich, creamy, “tahitian” vanilla ice cream, bleeding slowly about everything, as it’s frozen sanctity is provoked by a sea of scandalously thick, hot, decadent fudge?! Right in the middle of Sunday Service! As you inevitably snooze through Jyotish’s inspired talk! Grin.)

ATHENA! Come back! Don’t be so frivolous with your words, when you have SO many worlds inside to reveal, and your readers can only endure about a thousand words, before their minds glaze over like fresh, hot donuts and they click back to the Facebook stream! Ha! But I’ll NEVER stop being frivolous… it brings me JOY. And at raja yoga class on tuesday night, Daiva reminded us that JOY is really at the heart of it all. EVERYTHING we do (yes that means YOU), is in pursuit of this essential nectar that eternally abides at the very center of our eternal ISness. But if it “eternally abides” within… WHY on earth do we chase after it in every fluttering shadow and seductive, distant mirage?? Indeed, a question worth pondering for at least a moment. But not for TOO long. Just long enough to inspire you to let go of the chase and OPEN to joy NOW. And now and now.

Yesterday was an intense day for me. Lots of powerful movement in my Relationship with “Eddie-word”, which I won’t even get into… Plus, running on five hours of sleep, PLUS a marathon day of serving in the kitchen, plumbing the depths of exhaustion, the slow, shy dawning of pms… blah, blah, blah… And it gave me a stellar opportunity to mine my present experience for concealed shards of joy. Because Daiva asserted that since joy is the essence of God, and we are MADE OF GOD, joy is imbued in *everything* and every moment. Lo and behold, I found it! Legs aching, mind grimacing as I begrudgingly sprayed oily, cheese crusted plates with an industrial kitchen hose… even then, I found a few nectarous drops of joy dribbling from the dark center of my self-imposed suffering!

It reminded me of the bushmen in africa, who must dig deeeeep into the parched earth for a root that contains three drops of water, which they skillfully squeeze into their calmly eager mouths and then proceed to be quenched for the rest of the day. A little joy goes a long way.

Good Lord! We’re already beyond the eleven-hundred word mark! God? What else do you bid me share with these luminous friends?

Well… there is sOMuch more… The people (kind, loving, hard-working, committed, quirky, mostly fun…), the place (a hundred year old, ex-seventh day adventist boarding school, snuggled in the middle of sparse, forested, “somewhere” of northern Oregon, the vivid, incessant dreams I’ve been having every night, the deep feeling of wholeness that is rising inside me like a brilliant, dripping, full super-moon, as I continue to surrender my grip on life as I knew it… The shaky, uncertain evolution of my Relationship with Ed, and my new-found willingness to release into the unknown, as I stand in my power and LOVE HIM unconditionally…

It’s all pure grace, really. My heart told me to come here. I listened. I am growing faster than a time-lapsed movie of a sprout. When I try to wrap my head around it all, I become dizzy! So I just keep scrubbing plates, meditating and singing to God, and loving the ones I’m with. It’s actually quite simple. Too simple. Life is not what I was conditioned to believe it to be… that’s for sure. And that’s a good thing. But still a little hard to accept in some moments.

“The Master says, ‘Open your heart to me, and I will enter and take charge of your life’…”

Well I did. And He did. And I’m glad.

Om. Peace. Amen.

Clumsy, Messy, Blessed

What you don’t know, is that I attempted to strip down to my (figurative) birthday suit and take a cannonball plunge into Athena Graceland two days ago, but I was slogging through so much thick self-denigration, I couldn’t even muscle through it, like I mostly always have been able to. This time, it demanded to be the Heartless Head Mistress, and all I could do, in the face of such demonic inner forces, was cast down my sword and shield, and j-walk across the street to Walgreens, purchase a composition book, which to my substantial though compartmentalized delight, happened to be on sale for eighty-nine cents, run into Gregory, who I took yoga training with eight years ago and fuck this is a run-on sentence and I am no longer feeling liberated or inspired by it, so I’m gonna go like this: .

Hell, I’ll even start a NEW PARAGRAPH!! By the time I encountered sweet, luminous Gregory, I was about to claw myself to death and then stick a swirly straw through my ear and slurp out my brains. Not good. But as a member of the Under-cover Angels Brigade, his eyes shone with compassion and Truth and he gave me a hug and told me how great it was to be a father. When we knew each other, he was PINING to find a wife and bust a move on the family scene… and now he’s so blissfully in it. And I felt the clashing sting of simultaneous gladness for him and razor-fanged, woman-eating jealousy. I left the store in mild pathetic tears, like a bout of sunny, afternoon rain spilling from a schizophrenic sky.

“Grattidude,” he called out to me as a parting reminder from one mildly deluded bodhisattva to another… and that’s when I realized I had just bought myself a GRATITUDE JOURNAL! (The universe has been telling me to start one for months now…) So I parked it in the frigid, autumn sunshine of Pizzaiolo’s backyard garden, opened my book to page one, twisted my gratitude valve, and in my favorite pink pen, I began to pour fourth worlds of inky goodness. You wouldn’t believe how quickly that changed my mood. Then Ed snuck up behind me and planted a kiss on my head.

That was a lot of words just to say that I tried to blog the day before yesterday, was defeated by a carnivorous internal weather-system. And now, I am “taking two”… And I’m standing up on the smooth, wooden table in the crowded cafe and shouting words of praise that it is a NEW DAY, and I have chosen to let go of the past and be freshly born!!!

God… this has been my yoga lately. So much negativity has been rising up inside me like evil steam. I have been perpetually tempted to be so cruel and unusual to myself. But the covert, remarkable beauty of this, is that I have been able to stay awake mostly the whole, entire time. And lovingly slap at my sleepy cheek. “Athena,” I say, “do you really want to let yourself flow into that dirty ditch and drain yourself into the municipal SEWER? The answer, of course, is FUCK NO!!! I want to be HAPPY. I want to be kind and generous and loving and patient with myself. But good-flippin-LORD! This endeavor is requiring every last drop of inner resource lately.

At times like these, I like to believe that this horrific ugliness is a symptom of PURIFICATION. Up and OUT! Because I am committed to recognizing myself (and you) as the Love of God. Nothing more and nothing less. But zoiks, it’s been a challenge lately. Luckily, though, being an athenian light warrior, I AM fond of a good challenge!

Is it just me, or has this week been a potent pivot in consciousness? I swear… it seems to be rushing into and through me, like a powerful current of reckless spring river. The sort river that took Dan’s life last year. But this current shall not TAKE my life, but GIVE it. I am being called forth new. It started in Kimber’s yoga class, with her invitation to consider what questions we are living inside of… She encouraged us to ask the deep, HARD questions. And not only that, but to LOVE them.

Then there is the online writing program I’m doing with SARK, which is helping me identify and redirect my firing squad of malevolent inner-critics, and learn to make “micro-movements” in the direction of my dreams. You know, the dreams I refused to admit I even HAD, in my last blog… But fooled you, I DO have dreams! Actually, I fooled myself… but not for too long. I am remembering. Even simple dreams… like having a home I LOVE. Like not having to share Ed with his nuclear family. Like creating the stability in my life that is necessary to be a mother. Like synthesizing all of my gifts and talents and the beautiful music of my soul into something deeply meaningful and satisfying and of value to others. Many others. Or even the super vanilla dream of going to the dentist and getting my four cavities filled! Sigh…

Wait… what am I driving at? Oh yeah. I woke up this morning and realized that I’ve been WORKING TOO HARD. Spiritually, I mean. But the joke is on lovely little Athena Grace. Because the rotting and crippled protestant work ethic is a dead paradigm. Especially in the realm of the soul. A thriving soul requires a habitat of JOY. Of play. Of wonder and curiosity and delight.

And so, the question that is tugging fervently at my pant leg, is HOW DO I BE HAPPY? What do I need to think, say, do, BE, in order to wake up EVERY SINGLE DAY feeling radiant and madly jazzed to be alive??!!! Because lately, I’ve been in a life-negating pattern of being brutally hard on myself, and subscribing to this putrid idea that there is an immense mountain that I must climb… and it will not be fun. It will be hard. And don’t I even dare smile. (tho sometimes I do anyway!)

Why am I telling you all this? Because I have a feeling that we are ALL purging old programs, archaic belief systems, out-grown, constricting notions of self. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again. And again… The end of the world, last year, was no joke. We are transfiguring into the collective shape of self-realized, infinite LOVE. We must keep believing in the invisible! Shhhhhh… listen. Listen to that soft, gentle whisper, rushing like warm, gorgeous music from within your magnificent heart. I know you know what I am talking about. Because we are the same. And I hear it. Especially when I choose loving thoughts, loving words, loving actions.

I guess the moral of the story is that the New World is calling to us from the Invisible. And it needs YOU… to believe. And to love like there’s no yesterday and no tomorrow. The revolution begins (and ends) within. I’m serious. But only homeopathically serious. Because today is for JOY.

Live,
A

Previous Older Entries