Thursday, June 30, 2011
One of the things the sufi acupuncturist said once, that we experience "angelic interventions" more often than we can imagine, resonates deeply. Yeah. Though I can't explain the whys or wherefores of these interventions, I experience them regularly. For instance, I remember coming down the stairs in the house on Tennessee Avenue with a big basket of laundry. The landing was dark, the basket blocked my view of Shadow lying at the bottom of the stairs. Dark landing, black dog, blocked view ... you see what's coming, yes? Yep, I tripped over the dog. As I flew through the air, in slow motion (that's the way the brain perceives big events), the thought in my mind was, This is bad. Broken bones, head injury maybe, also maybe the dog would be hurt. She was panting as I flew. Yeah ... I could see it all, a disaster unfolding.
But when I landed, It Wasn't Bad. Miraculous! Laundry was all over the room but Shadow was unhurt and the amazing thing was, I was fine too. Clearly someone stepped in to make sure I was OK because it should have been really bad.
I could name a hundred times the angels have intervened.
I could also name a hundred times when I would have been appreciative of angelic intervention but somehow they did not come to the rescue. Like I said, don't ask me the whys and wherefores of angelic behavior. This is not something I'm capable of understanding.
But they helped me out considerably yesterday. Hearing that my client died hit me hard, like a punch in the stomach. It took the air out of my sails; I couldn't think of any way to write or talk about it, or how to comfort my client's family. I think I was in shock.
The weather gods must have felt I needed a boost because yesterday was gorgeous in DC: warm but not hot, not too humid, with bushels and barrels and gallons and liters of sunshine and blue sky. The perfect summer weather gave me the opportunity to get outside and walk comfortably, always a good thing.
Later in the day I visited a friend who lives in Woodley Park on a shady, tree-lined, beautiful street. We sat on his deck and drank toasts to my client, we listened to music, we went out for sushi. Being over there took me completely out of my usual Capitol Hill groove which was exactly what I needed. I am so grateful.
By the way I know that yesterday was not designed for me specifically; the multiverse is way more complicated than that. However the timing is something that can not be planned: a perfect day, a super-long walk across town, a wonderful tete-a-tete with a dear friend - and sushi, too. Wow.
It's another beautiful day in Washington. I'll most likely walk home after my acupuncture appointment this morning. I'm having people over for dinner tonight which will bring more cheer to my sad heart. Today I'll remember again to give thanks for the precious, beautiful, marvelous, maddening, difficult, crazy experience of living life in a human body.
Life is good and I am grateful. L'chaim, y'all. Shalom.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
It's never easy to say goodbye
To the faces
So rarely do we see another one
So close and so long
I asked the room if I'd said enough
No one really answered
They just said, "Don't go, don't go"
Well all this leaving is neverending
I kept hoping for one more question
Or for someone to say,
"Who do you think you are?"
So I could tell them
With intensity, the drop evaporates by law
In conclusion, leaving is easy
When you've got some place you need to be
I'm giving up this gig for another seaon
With the TV on mute
I'm listening back to the tapes
On the hotel bed
My my my apocalypse
I realized I had said very little about ways or wheels
Or riding for the feeling
Riding for the feeling
Is the fastest way to reach the shore
On water or land
Riding for the feeling
What if I had stood there at the end
And said again and again and again and again and again
An answer to every question
Riding for the feeling
Would that have been a suitable goodbye?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Some people work as hard as I did yesterday, every day. How the heck do they do it? I'm in awe just thinking about it. Certainly the oncology nurses I spoke with yesterday morning while I sat with a client about to undergo a hideous peritoneal chemo lavage work that hard.
All my clients who work for Congress work like dogs, too. Most of America feels hostile towards these people, but when you live here, when you see how most of these people could make twice their salaries working in the private sector, but choose public service anyway, some compassion for their impossible jobs inevitably arises.
I have a client who is a social worker with Child and Family Services. She swears she doesn't work too much anymore, but she definitely puts in her fifty to sixty hours. Her job is absolutely impossible, too, can you imagine? And folks I know through the blog world, like Ellen of the blog Stuff from Ellen's Head (just one example) work pretty much around the clock, seven days a week. Whew!
When I work, I work hard, but sometimes I feel like such a slacker for "only" working four days a week. Most of the time I realize it is a humane schedule, allowing me time/space to walk around, think, cook, garden and enjoy my life. Time is my luxury, I like to say.
Some days, like yesterday, there's no choice except to buckle my seatbelt and focus on the tasks at hand. It was a good day of work, it was. But to work that hard everyday? I can't imagine. Yikes.
I big ole salute to everyone who works harder than I do, which would include pretty much everyone in Washington DC. Bravo!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I'm happy to report that the wealth corner is nearly finished and it is beautiful. When it's complete I will post a picture. The chateau has been in disarray as I've worked on this project, but I cleaned up yesterday. I have my living room back. Yay.
What is the difference between stillness and stagnation? Well it's a matter of degree but also of timing, yes? I say yes. My spirit guides reminded me yesterday that intensity is one of my personal birthrights. It's interesting to look at this as a birthright instead of a flaw or problem. Hmmm.
I don't have to always tilt into the drama of it all, as was once my practice, but it is my tendency. There's a sweet balance integral to looking at it in these terms. A dip into stagnation (the unhealthy, extreme opposite of drama) is also my tendency, a birthright, or so I'm told. My guides say this is the way in which I experience the full spectrum of emotional/physical/spiritual states. It is my birthright to live on the edges as well as in the center of things. OK dudes (speaking to spirit guides), thanks. It's OK to be true to my nature while neither blaming myself for being who I am nor giving up on the idea that I can - and am - changing at a fundamental level. All "truths" contain paradox, yes? I say yes.
Did that make any sense? Apologies if it doesn't. Disenchantment followed by enchantment, followed by awakening from that dream: this is my current practice. It is so interesting! Tricky. And obviously very hard to write about.
In fact I would delete this post before publishing except I love these pictures so much. Mediocre blog posts are also a birthright - apparently! So be it. Happy Sunday, y'all.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I have not been exactly seizing the days lately. I've been contemplative, patient, uncharacteristically graceful and accepting. I've been like a walking, talking version of the serenity prayer. Bloody hell. Who am I and what have they done with Reya?
The truth is, I'm stagnating a little bit in all this luxurious gracefulness. I guess it isn't grace anymore when I spend hours staring into the half-finished wealth corner without lifting a finger to move things along. Or maybe the right way to say it is: first I was graceful, but then I got downright lazy - or stuck - or distracted. Probably a combination of all those things, eh?
As if to dance in shamanic alignment with an inner stillness gone a bit sour, my clients have gone awol. Well, just a couple of clients, but these people ALWAYS show up for their sessions. It's very uncharacteristic of them to forget to show up.
Two no-show clients in two days kicked my ass back into gear. I'm about to put the final touches on the wealth corner, then go for a nice long bike ride. It's a beautiful summer day in DC. I need to get out there!
Well. Who knew that even graceful heart opening can become an enchantment, even the most beautiful stillness can become stagnant? Not me, apparently. Forehead slap. Oh yeah.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Fierce looking sky beings floating above DC this week.
Who doesn't love falling into a spell of enchantment? I do anyway - it's fun! It's blissful, ecstatic, oh yeah. Enchantment casts a diffuse glow around everything, softening hard edges, masking all flaws and problems. Ahhhhhhhhhhh ....
Within the rubric of enchantment I would include infatuation with people, things and places. For instance, you go on holiday somewhere. Everything is PERFECT. You love the landscape, the people, the weather. It's heaven! You imagine living there - you can't see anything that might not work out. But of course, you're on vacation, so indeed everything can easily feel perfect. An actual move, including everything it takes to get settled into a new place, is never quite as enchanting as the initial infatuation.
Falling in love involves some kind of uber-enchantment. People "fall" in love, become utterly entangled. It's only later that they begin to discover each others flaws and annoying habits, etc. True love (this is my opinion) takes time. True love is beautiful, but perhaps not enchanting except every now and then. In the case of true love, people stick it out with each other even when they are not enchanted.
We humans are prone to enchantment on so many levels. It's pretty clear that within Nazi Germany, no one was able to think straight. Everyone was enchanted, to one degree or another, unable to see what was actually going down.
The people who believed the world was going to end on May 21 of this year, who sold all their stuff or gave everything away: enchanted. The hard working employee, dreaming of advancement: enchanted. Every ad, every form of marketing: enchantment. The culture of celebrity: enchantment. Yep. "What if" thinking is a very insidious form of enchantment, i.e. if only I made more money, lost 20 pounds, had a baby, bought a new car, got a new job, (etc.) everything would be GREAT.
Everyone who sits down to gamble in Vegas is under some sort of enchantment, even the ones who decide how much to lose and are able to quit when they reach the bottom line. Right? Because gambling is how the state of Nevada stays afloat financially - obviously, gambling is not about winning.
Ever play the lottery? Yeah. Uh-huh!
Enchantment is a form of dreaming. I'm not against it! Sometimes it opens the mind/heart, bringing hope and visions of good things that might lie slightly out of reach. Sometimes it obfuscates the very thing that would be good to look at directly. It's part of being human, indeed.
I could go on, but I believe I've made my point. Right now with my heart continuing to open, an interesting side effect is that my tendency towards enchantment has decreased. I've been looking at situations, people, all my fancy ideas, with a much clearer eye than before. I trust that seeing clearly can reveal a world of disenchanted, complicated, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional beauty. At least this is what I've perceived so far. The transformation I am experiencing is just beginning.
All I can say is, in a happily disenchanted sort of way: WOW.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Dome of the Jefferson Building (Library of Congress) reflected from the side of a tour bus.
Sometimes things turn on a dime. Do you know what I'm talking about? I'll be headed in one direction, full speed ahead. The next thing I know I'm turned 180 degrees away from what I thought I was doing, on my way towards something very different. This is one of the reasons I love walking the labyrinth; those hairpin turns are resonant. When I first started the practice of walking the labyrinth, I always slowed down to a crawl when I made the turns. It was a ritual in which my intention was to become more conscious of the inevitable twists and turns that are a part of everyone's lifetime journey.
I'm thinking about it this morning for a number of reasons. One rather banal reversal has to do with realizing that, all of a sudden, out of the nowhere, the Matchbox Bar is no longer my "power spot." Kind of silly, eh? For a year I have luxuriated often at that bar, engaged in witty repartee with the bartenders and fellow barflies. Last night I realized I am completely over the Matchbox Bar. That phase is done, just like that. Snap.
Here's an example of a more productive recent turnaround. I've been staring at the "wealth" corner of the chateau (according to classical Feng Shui) since I moved in, thinking, "I should do something over there," and yet have done nothing. But yesterday all that changed. I pulled everything out of the space, sanded and painted. Today I'll finish the painting, put it back together again. What was it that motivated me to actually DO something? Hey, don't ask me! I turned a corner into a slightly different world where it's possible to do this project. I guess!
When Jake died almost two years ago, I experienced a very sad switchback into a different world. I went from being a dog owner to not being a dog owner within a matter of minutes. The emotional whiplash from that shift lingered for a long time. In fact, I am still recovering.
As we come to the conclusion of this very eventful eclipse cycle, a lot of sudden shifts and reversals away from what I knew to be true, are revealing themselves to me.
In the past this would have been cause for concern. One benefit of the heart opening I've been engaged with is that I'm finding access to a lot of trust. I'm bewildered by it all, to be sure, but instead of tilting into the confusion, I'm taking a step back, listening, watching, paying attention. Maybe I'll learn some things I DON'T already know. Ya think? Also: que sera sera. I have no control over these things. So be it. Back to the wealth corner. Oh yeah.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I'm distracted today, pulled in several directions all at once.
On the one hand I can't wait to put on my newly painted chacos, walk around. This is my mother's legacy; a periodic urge to paint. When that feeling comes over me, I will paint whatever is at hand with whatever paint I have handy, just as my mother did. Yesterday I came across a metallic paint, "warm silver" it's called, in a box in the closet. Oh what a gorgeous color. I painted some picture frames with great results. After that I painted a small statue of a Chinese terracotta warrior, then a severed padlock. (It used to lock a big ole gas grill to a pipe in the grotto outside my front door. I love looking at the broken lock - a perfect visual symbol of liberation. It's even better now that it's painted. Really it is!)
Eventually I turned to my shoes. I used to paint all my shoes, even the "nice" shoes, whenever I fell into this frame of mind. I remember when my ex housemate Manuel asked me to hand over my fabric paints so as to keep me from ruining yet another pair of shoes. It was a loving intervention.
It's a compulsion, I guess - though - it could be much worse. I'm not shoplifting or doing drugs, after all. Also want to say, in my defense, that the chacos I painted are not "nice" shoes. I bought them for $1 at a yard sale: no harm done. Actually I am quite pleased with the way they look, including the warm silver cheetah spots around the edges of the soles.
Perhaps I was overcome by the urge to paint because I'm thinking about a couple of clients, dear ones, people I have been working with for many years, both of whom are facing very serious medical crises. One of them has a definitive diagnosis - not a happy diagnosis but at least she knows what she's facing. The other client has no idea what's happening, but it is not good, believe me.
One thing I forgot about during my recent experience of heart opening is that, with an open heart, situations like the predicaments of my beloved clients really get to me. I've always cared deeply for my clients and wished the best for them, but at all times I have remained relatively unmoved emotionally, even when clients died. That kind of emotional distance has its advantages.
It's not as if I'm not being clear, strong and boundaried - indeed my behavior is identical to what it would have been before all the recent heart opening. But I'm worried. I'm feeling how much I love these two women, really feeling it. Yikes! So this is why people close off their hearts!
Not that I'm about to try to reverse the miracles of recent weeks. No chance of that. I know I'm headed in the right direction, or maybe I should say "hearted" in the right direction.
Still - this is hard!
I think I'll post this now, drink some more coffee, then maybe paint some more, yes? I say yes.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Did anyone else do a whole lot of dreaming last night? I did, certainly. It's traditional to have magical dreams at midsummer, of course. In mine, I was set to go on a long cruise with an old lover, a violinist I was involved with when I lived in San Francisco. That was another life! It was so good to see him. He said, "Well, we're going to have plenty of time to get reaquainted." Oh yeah. Woke up smiling.
It's cloudy, moody and muggy in DC today, not a great day to walk around taking pics. My plan is to engage in domestic pursuits, though of course I'll get out there at some point to experience the day.
Sometimes the solstices feel very extreme to me - as perhaps they should, since the days don't get any longer than this, the nights can't get any shorter. This summer solstice feels calm and peaceful.
Or maybe it's my heart I'm talking about. Ya think?
Monday, June 20, 2011
Brother Sun has risen as high as possible here in the northern hemisphere. He has reached his peak, and now he must fall. I've written here before about how much I loved Reclaiming's summer solstice ritual at the beach in San Francisco, especially the moment when the sun slipped into the Pacific Ocean (or so it seemed). At just that moment, an archer shot an arrow with a lit sparkler attached, in a high arc over the sea. It looked like it was following the sun - really cool visual. It was very poetic, so beautiful, and fitting, too. I'm glad I was part of that when I was. Sweet.
Fast forward to summer solstice 2011 in Washington DC. It has been cloudy and moody here for the last few days, though the sky partially cleared last night just before sunset. I ran out into the middle of East Capitol street, faced west, and bid a hasty hail and farewell to spring.
Winter solstice is all about hope, about knowing the light will return. Summer solstice, in spite of how festive the landscape is, in spite of the magical short night of fireflies and soft air, is a melancholy day, at least for me. Maybe "bittersweet" is a better word. I would not want the days to continue getting longer and longer. But like most of my species, I love the light, so turning towards the dark, even though it's mostly an intellectual exercise at this point in the year, always makes me slightly wistful. Hence the image below.
Everything has a lifespan, everything. Onwards into the season of sultry heat and slowly declining days. Summer is here. OK. C'mon.
Screen capture from the first moments of the film "Brother from Another Planet." Sweet sweet film. When I saw this iconic image, tears came into my eyes.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
My father was a complicated man - I guess we're all complicated, yes?
Who was he? I've been thinking about him a lot lately. My Papa was one of the most creative thinkers I have ever known, almost to his detriment at times. He was absolutely passionate about the arts - all of them - though music was the form that was by far most dear to him.
I remember vividly my father standing in front of the loud speaker (this was before stereo sound) "conducting" a Beethoven symphony with the baton my mother gave him for his birthday. Sometimes he would put on a record, then say, "Girls, do you hear this intrument?" He would sing along with one melodic/harmonic line. Then he would say, "That was a french horn," (or oboe, or cello or whatever). Next he would show us pictures of the instrument. Fabulous! He would ask, "How does this piece of music make you feel?" He was a GREAT teacher of music appreciation. After we were tucked into bed, sometimes he would yell (from the living room), "Any requests?" Then he would play something we wanted to hear as we fell asleep. These are sweet memories.
I wish I had known him as a young man. During the 1940s he danced in competitions at the height of the era of swing. I believe he was quite good. He loved Glenn Miller and all those guys who had dance orchestras at that time. As a young man he was athletic; he played tennis and rode horses, for instance. Sadly he messed up his legs somehow before I was born, so by the time I came to know him the only physical thing he did was go bowling. He was a bowling coach, in fact. Such a strange pursuit, but he loved it.
My Papa loved all manner of games and was fiercely competitive. He taught all of us to play chess. I think my sister Deborah is the only one of us who ever beat him at that game. He used to say, "In the end, I'll take your king. So just relax and enjoy the game." Hmmmm. What a message, eh?
He did a lot of drawing and cartooning, very mid-century style as I remember, and occasionally indulged in performance art. I remember he settled one dispute among my sibs and I by way of a neatly typed judgment. I found a copy of it recently. Reading it, I laughed until I cried, it was so hilarious. To this day I have never attended a Seder that could hold a candle to the ones he lead. He was a raconteur, just what you want at the head of the table at Passover, oh yeah. I still smile remembering the way he read the book "Nize Baby," (by Milt Gross) out loud to us. Oohoo, nize baby, itt opp all the cheeken zoop so mama'll gonna tell you a Ferry-Tail from Keeng Mitas. Ha.
When I figured out how cruel he could be, how he punished us through insults and humiliation, I turned a cold shoulder to him. I dismissed my love for him at that time; that was it. How old was I? Maybe 10? I'm just guessing; I wasn't very old when it became clear that his dark side was really really DARK. I remember thinking, "I don't need this."
But when I began doing ancestor work as part of my shamanic/wiccan training, I was surprised to see him appear in my trance journeys. We've been pretty close ever since then, strangely or beautifully, depending on how you want to look at it.
All the heart opening I've been engaged in recently is truly global in its impact. This morning I am thinking with so much love about my Papa. That is crazy! And so healing, wow! Something that shattered long ago in my heart is mending itself, like one of those films of a glass breaking, played backwards. I am in awe.
Happy Father's Day to those who celebrate. And to you Papa? Cheers! Fly high, rest in peace. I'll see you on the flip side. Shalom.
Friday, June 17, 2011
There's a time and place for everything. Truth is, I'm slightly overworked in terms of perceiving what's what in my heart of hearts. It's good work, and for some reason I've been graceful about it, but I've been at it hard all week, opening, blessing and releasing.
Today is the Monday of my work week. I so look forward to directing my attention towards others, dancing along with my clients as they follow their own circuitous paths towards wholeness and healing. Yeah. Enough self reflection is enough, yes? I say yes. I'm going to think about something else for awhile. Ahhhhhhhhhh.
Happy Friday to all. Shalom.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
"The courageous among us will purposely spoil the sleekest form of our story." ~Barry, of Astrobarry, Astrology for People Who Think
Did you feel the power of yesterday's eclipse? I did. I really did. I "listened" carefully, tuned in to one of the darkest lunar eclipses in history. Holy cow.
The insights I received from the deep listening were wrenching, but resonant. Whoa! Deep truths came to me; the experience was profound. But what was in many ways more interesting than the insights themselves was my reaction. It would have been characteristic to draw my sword, engage in battle with the information - you know - push it away, deny it or perhaps get angry, try to figure out who to blame. Maybe I would have tried fighting with God (I love a good argument with the Divine, I really do - though of course I always lose those arguments).
It would also be characteristic to respond by collapsing, deflating. I might very well have just crawled under the covers for the duration. I've retreated in the face of big truths in the past, certainly.
Miraculously, I was able to take a breath when the lightbulb over my head switched on. I'm proud to report that I neither pushed the information away nor was I taken aback or hurt. I'll be processing this experience for awhile, that's for sure, but I don't feel wounded or pissed off. Maybe I'm in shock. Or maybe I'm making room for this new perspective, letting it settle down. My fists are unclenched and my heart is rather open. Honestly, this is a miracle.
Also it didn't hurt that yesterday my iphone arrived. What a miraculous piece of media. Ahhhh ... a well timed spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down! Oh yeah.
Time is my ally at the moment, providing what I need when I need it. Knowing full well that I might be griping and complaining again before you know it, I am nevertheless VERY grateful right now, in this moment, to feel rather graceful. This is SO not me! Ha.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~Lao Tzu
Be afraid, very afraid.
It's scary to even contemplate letting go of our precious identities, isn't it? We work so hard to figure out exactly who we are. Once we have in mind some picture of ourselves, we cling desperately to that picture, most of us anyway. Do you have a certain style? Are you a people person? A foodie? A voracious reader? Are you disdainful? Ironic? Cynical? Caring? Warm? Compassionate? Smart or not so much? Well?? ARE YOU? Does your car reflect your identity? How about your haircut, the way you dress, the music you prefer, the neighborhood in which you live? Do you think of yourself as an artist, or the opposite, do you imagine you are not artistic? Do you think you can't carry a tune? Have you ever said, Oh. That is SO NOT me. ??
That is so not me. What an interesting sentence. Even the phrase "be afraid," is interesting, such a different idea than feeling fear. When we catch a cold, we say, "I'm sick," as if it's part of our identity. I'm happy. I'm sad. Even I'm fat is such an interesting thing to say. Please!
Today's total lunar eclipse offers us a chance to let go of obsolete ideas about identity, helps us make room for some new ideas about who we are or aren't. The key to successfully navigating today's energies, say my spirit guides, is to stop at some point, and "listen." Drop down into your heart of hearts, take a deep breath, get curious and open to whatever comes. If the weather is clear wherever you are tonight, look for awhile into the face of the moon. Be empty and willing to learn something you didn't already know. Be ready to let go. ("Be empty." "Be ready." ... )
I've been practicing this very thing of late, hence I feel I have a chance to get through this rather excruciating moment with at least a little bit of finesse - though - who knows? I will be "listening" - definitely - and I will do some full moon gazing tonight, oh yeah.
My tarot cards this morning indicate that at long last I will pierce through to the very deepest level of personal sorrow. OK. I feel ready to encounter this sadness, bless it, release it. But who knows what will actually happen?
C'mon Luna. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Breathing and listening, oh yeah. Shalom.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Tomorrow my iphone will be delivered by the nice UPS guy here at the chateau. I am so excited! I've been thinking about getting an iphone for a long time, maybe a couple of years, but I kept telling myself to wait wait wait wait wait wait. I had a million excuses why. All of a sudden, I realized that the iphone is a media I am no longer willing to live without. It's not really a phone, you know. Now all I have to do is wait until tomorrow.
Timing is everything, timing is mysterious. Why now for the iphone? Why and how did all those excuses suddenly vamoose? It's such a good question for which I have no answer. I don't even have a story about why, though someone mentioned that Saturn turned direct on Sunday, making it possible to DO things rather than just THINK about things. OK. Maybe.
The friends with whom I've been sharing bits and pieces of my current transformation have asked why now? They've been asking me what happened, what lead me to this moment? Untangling all the convoluted threads of remorse, grief, and undigested emotion left over from my marriage and subsequent relationship (which also ended very badly) is something I thought I had already resolved. I spent years thinking about the whys and wherefores surrounding these rather tragic relationships. I've prayed about it, received mind-bodywork with healing in mind, talked in therapy, blah blah blah. I'm not saying all the work was for nothing; it did clear the field in some way or another for the transformation I am now undergoing, but apparently it didn't fix anything.
Often, when I recognize the need for healing, my strategy is to overpower what ails me. That's when I seek a lot of treatment: therapy, bodywork, osteopathy, Chinese medicine. It's an odd kind of warfare, but that's how I roll. Kill the problem with kindness. Hmmm.
As memories and revelations continue to rise into consciousness, to be blessed and released, I fall, every day, further into a state of awe. The deepest level of healing and forgiveness is not the result of overpowering the wounds or disease, not that it's a bad idea to try. This deep opening I'm in the midst of is something else, something indescribable, beyond my grasp in every way.
Don't ask me why now, because I don't have a clue about that. What I know for certain is I am grateful, beyond belief, really. Thanks Father Time, thank you so so much!
This is for you, Cyndy. What do you see?
Monday, June 13, 2011
I watched SHAFT last night, the original version from 1971 with Richard Roundtree. Wow. What a movie. Times Square was seedy then, and Harlem was genuinely sketchy. The film portrays a whole bunch of emerging subcultures. Besides all the different versions of black pride trying to find its feet, there's an openly gay bartender, a sweet hippie, a blind street vendor, that sort of thing. Shaft has befriended all these folks, and has even forged a tense but workable relationship with the Italian police detective who trusts him even though he's black. Yeah I know - right?
The women's movement had not quite caught up with all the rest of the subcultures in the movie. All the women just want to love Shaft. The drop dead gorgeous, light colored black woman who lives in a fancy apartment does nothing but wait for him to show up. She doesn't seem to care much that he can't or won't love her back. The space cadet white woman he picks up in a bar is some kind of crazy stereotype, wow. You could write a masters thesis on what she represents. These women have not yet been liberated; they are flat, one-dimensional. I don't even think they have names. Still, I love the sex scenes. Ha. They are really cute.
I wanted to see the film again because during the first few weeks after I separated from my ex-husband, I was compelled for some reason to watch the movie repeatedly. Interesting that I didn't remember a lot about the film in spite of how many times I watched it. Seeing it again brought back more memories to be blessed and released. What a time this is!
And what a time THAT was. Holy cow. I often reflect on what it was like to come of age in the late 1960s when so many social paradigms were cracking, shattering and opening to something new. Even though we boomers are so into our generation, believe me, at the time it was quite bewildering.
Last night I was wondering what the hell it must have been like for black people. Can you imagine as a kid having to sit at the back of the bus, use separate bathrooms, even separate water fountains, then to suddenly have to figure out how to embody black power and pride after the Civil Rights act was signed? No wonder every black character in that film - including Shaft - is so awkward and exaggerated. Can you imagine how confusing it must have been? Whoa.
It was a great film to watch in the midst of the my current era of transformation. Two woolly socks up, as Tess at Willow Manor would say. Oh yeah.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
All weekend my attention has been split between life here in Washington DC, and what's transpiring in Kansas City, Missouri, where my high school reunion is ongoing. Though my friends promised they would keep me updated, of course they haven't. It's a good sign that they're having way too much fun to text or post on Facebook. No news is good news. Sweet.
Part of this practice I've been calling "softening" but have decided to call "opening" involves a lot of memories rising to the surface. Often, at least for me, memories can be painful, such as when I remember the day Jake died. Ouch. Sometimes memories fill me with longing - you know - for "the good old days," whatever that means. I'm not the only one who romanticizes the past, eh? At other moments, I remember with a sense of remorse, a "Why oh why didn't I ... fill in the blank."
When I'm meditating I notice that the pattern of my thoughts usually shapes itself around planning. I tend to get caught up in stories about what I'm going to do as soon as I stop meditating, or what I'll make for dinner, who is coming for bodywork, when I'll water the garden, etc. Planning is the snare my mind gets caught in most often. I prefer to look forward rather than backwards, maybe because most of my memories involve some degree of discomfort or unhappiness.
The quality and texture of memory right now is drastically different than what I usually experience when I reminisce. It's as if these recollections are being presented to me to be blessed and released. It's really interesting. As memories arise from every era of my life, I am smiling, touching them lightly with my consciousness, then letting go, moving on. It's all water under the bridge now.
It's a graceful moment for me. I assume at some point I'll start flopping around again, but man oh man I am enjoying this time of opening. I'm floating in it, I'm breathing it in. It is so beautiful. Happy Sunday!
Saturday, June 11, 2011
The heart makes no sense, nope, it does not. This is the reason I've never exactly trusted my own heart, nor have I been inclined to trust the hearts of others. Not that I trust my mind either - holy God, my mind is a crazed storyteller weaving the most bizarre tales at times.
My mantra used to be, the body never lies. OK I still believe that, but ... what the body conveys has to be translated in some way or another, otherwise it's just sensation. Itches, goosebumps, sneezes, pleasure, hunger ... these are truths, they are, but - a goosebump might be about cold, or fear, or excitement, thrills. It might point to the presence of ghosts (often does) - or not. It might signal an impending thunderstorm or revelation, or be a symptom of arousal at the sight of great beauty or when encountering a beloved. A goosebump can mean so many things! The ground-level truths of the body, in order to be useful, require interpretation. This is what medical diagnosis is all about. How sad that within that realm, every sensation becomes pathology! I could write a whole post about that tragedy.
But today I'm thinking about my heart, softening as it is, around love. One of the great revelations about this transformation is that by softening, I am learning to trust my heart, really for the first time in my life. A heart committed to remaining tough can't be trusted unless I want to be a terrible cynic - believe you me, I do NOT. Also a heart that can't tolerate love (hence the body buckles under its influence) certainly is too overwhelmed to be trusted.
Opening to my heart's authentic expression means that when I get a goosebump (for instance) I can drop down into my heartspace to see how I'm feeling. Usually I go straight to my very very very busy headspace. I honor my brain; it works very well, though of course I get sidetracked easily or head off in the wrong direction, but continue to amass "evidence" to support my intricate theories du jour. Creating interpretations based only on body and mind leaves out entirely my emotional state of the moment. No wonder I've talked myself into so many unfortunate situations. I'm thinking right at this moment about my marriage. It looked great on paper, but ... well ... 'nuff said about that!
Now I'm discovering the three-fold harmony of mind/heart/body. This is a genuinely awesome process, a miracle, really. I was thinking about it last night as I walked home from work. When the thought came to me that this moment is truly miraculous, I looked up in the sky et voila - there was "God." (See pic above.) I am so on the right track at the moment. I'll never forget this summer, never.
With gratitude and awe, Shabbat Shalom, y'all!
Friday, June 10, 2011
I've been listening to a lot of jazz lately, not on purpose, even though I believe listening to jazz makes me smarter. Bringing my neural network up to speed seems like a very good thing always, but maybe especially right now, in the midst of this mighty transformation I am now moving through.
Just this morning I remembered reading somewhere, in a book about the history of jazz, that the quality of "coolness" was very highly regarded within certain African cultures, the very places from where humans beings were stolen, taken across the Atlantic, and put out in the fields of early America. I googled for awhile this morning, but could not find the source, though I did find this, which made me giggle.
Seeking what's cool, aka jazz (for instance) is a great idea at the moment. DC is hellishly hot this week, so perhaps at a subconscious level I'm not only trying to get smarter, but am also seeking the cooling qualities of jazz.
I like every kind of music; I need every kind of music - well - except for insipid space-out music, the kind of thing you might hear in an elevator (do they still do that?) or on the treatment table at a spa. I really detest stupid music so much.
Leading up to summer solstice 2011, in the midst of this eclipse cycle, I can't stop listening to Alice Coltrane, Bird, Miles, Sonny Rollins, and Bill Evans (among many many others). The music is taking me from point A to point B on this journey of healing. How cool is that? VERY cool. Oh yeah.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
When I first launched into psychotherapy, I believed I was going to address what was "wrong" with me, fix those things, and move on. I honestly thought I could pick and choose what would come up to the surface to be healed. Oh my, I was so naive.
Within Reclaiming, what we sought was "empowerment," (whatever that means). I believed, at least for awhile, that I could pick and choose which parts of myself to empower; hence I could juice up the "good" parts of myself without also feeding my darker side. Ha ha. Oh man, that assumption was completely faulty. What a disaster.
Today it occurs to me that this current transformation, in which I am softening the bits of myself that long ago congealed around my response to the presence of love, means I will also be softening around other hardened aspects of my being. As in all things, this sort of transformation is genuinely holistic.
I don't have to tilt against love anymore. That is great! What a relief! It will take practice and discipline, but I've turned a corner in that process. I am on my way.
Today's revelation: I don't have to tilt against the weather either. I don't HAVE to.
Instead of waiting until it became absolutely unbearable outside, rather than getting on the bike at midday and punishing myself in the heat, I decided instead to walk home from the Sufi acupuncturist's office. It was still fairly early in the day (between 10 and 11:30). I walked in shade whenever I could, sipped cool water, stopped and rested whenever I felt like it. Usually I push myself hard in the heat, I stay in the sun, I act as if the weather is some kind of adversary and that I must prove to myself that I'm good enough, strong enough by fighting the heat. What was that all about? I wondered this morning before I put 2 and 2 together.
Recent experiments with softening around the love I feel for people, music and art has also softened the love I have for myself, hence I don't have to kill myself on the hottest days. I can get out there - oh my yes! But I don't have to be so stupidly macho.
My heart is opening and I am healing. What a transformation! All I can say is: wow.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I had dinner last night with someone I love very much. It was a perfect opportunity to experiment with softening under the influence of love and beauty. I did not fall down, swoon, or tilt against the feeling. I did not harden or push the feeling away. Wow. This friend is well aware of how much I love him, so it was a "safe" environment in which to experiment. What unfolded was a really nice, relaxed evening with no strings attached - exactly perfect, in fact.
Today I'm attending the funeral of a dear friend's father. I'm going to again experiment with softening (which could be fairly easy, considering the fact that we'll be standing in Arlington Cemetery during the hottest part of this very hot day). Funerals have historically been awful experiences for me, but maybe if I can let the emotions of sadness and love for my friend move through me, it won't be as traumatic. Ya think? We shall see.
Love is super-potent. Whoa. Historically it has brought out the best and worst in me, sometimes all at once. Yeah I am still feeling very cautious and jumpy about opening to the third road of love (neither tilting against nor being knocked down by it). But I'm not going to stop trying to love more authentically. Baby steps, small moves - that's my strategy. Onwards to the summer of love. Oh yeah.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
So surreal looking, isn't it? It's a banner hanging at the perimeter of the fountain in the National Gallery sculpture garden.
When Dan Gurney assures me that loving IS cool, I suspect he's imagining a different scenario than mine. Maybe he thinks of the Dalai Lama allowing multiversal, divine love to pour through him, increasing his gracefulness and poise, even in the worst of circumstances. Yeah. That is definitely cool.
What I was imagining is the kind of love that reduces me to a blubbering, quivering, freaky mess. Once upon a time, coming face to face with something incredibly beautiful, like Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, for instance, or standing before a painting like one of Picasso's early (pre-cubism) portraits, brought into my heart a feeling of love so pure, it made me weak in the knees. Yeah, I admit it, I used to literally fall down when I encountered beauty like that. Love is so powerful. Whoa. I fell down at weddings, while hiking, at concerts and art exhibits, and of course often in the presence of a beloved. Yeah. Now c'mon, that is NOT cool! Ha!
During my priestesship within Reclaiming I trained myself not to buckle under the impact of profound beauty, profound and heartfelt love. I practiced letting that sort of experience make me stand taller. I learned, little by little, to take a deep breath (rather than gasping), put my shoulders back, lift my chin, suck in my gut and stand tall when the power of love knocked the breath out of me. Thinking now about how I talked myself out of being so damn vulnerable to powerful love is interesting. My learned behavior is no cooler than my previous reaction, except it's less embarrassing to stand tall than to crumple under the influence of great love.
In a sense, that learned behavior is one way in which I hold big love at an arm's length. By tilting against the tenderizing aspect of love, I became in a certain sense more functional (i.e. I can now attend the births of babies without rolling around on the floor, thank god!) but it took me one big step backwards in terms of letting love flow through me, unhampered.
I'm not really looking to crumple under the influence again. That was too much of too much - very intense (true to my nature) but not sustainable. But I would like to be able to become softer when I encounter powerful love again, rather than bigger and badder-assed - tougher - as I have for at least twenty years.
In love as in all other things, I seek the Tao of Goldilocks. It's interesting to contemplate - how to be who I am, passionate and intense, without letting those qualities get out of hand or shut me down completely. It's a great challenge - but - I'm up for it. I am. Oh yeah.
The cone flowers look so earnest, don't they?
Monday, June 6, 2011
Revelations of late have been profound and banal ... isn't it always the way new versions of old stories unveil themselves? Some things that have come to me are just kind of silly. For instance, I've realized fashion is a way of mirroring. It's the way we identify ourselves as high ranking members of the pack. Fashion is instinctual behavior. Fashion is no different than the way in which dogs pick up on each other's traits - usually the most annoying traits, should say. When I moved into the house on Tennessee Avenue, Jake had never howled - never. But as soon as he heard the other dogs in the house howling, he picked up the habit, no doubt thinking (in his canine way) that the fashion in the house demanded a lot of mournful howling when sirens could be heard. He howled to his dying day.
Maybe I'm the last person to figure it out. But - does it matter? Well ... it helps keep me from being as judgmental as I might be when I see all the middle school girls wearing their hair in french braids, all the 20-something hotties in short shorts and ankle boots, for instance. Even I bought one of those silly little fedoras - though truth be told, those hats are no longer in style among the truly cool people. I run rather late in the world of fashion since I was born without that gene.
Most of what's actually interesting about recent revelations has to do with love. I've been healing fears, opinions and judgments about love at a very deep level; it's kind of miraculous. After thinking about the comments on yesterday's post (thank you!) I've come to the conclusion that losing oneself in love has more to do with poor self-esteem than passion. I honestly didn't know that before now. Rather than withdrawing or keeping people at an arm's length, perhaps I could bolster my self-esteem, keep my center of gravity, and love boldly. Yes? I say yes. (Thanks, too, to Jo who has been pointing me in this direction for awhile now.)
I've been buggered by love gone bad so many times. Not just romantic love - in friendship too I've been betrayed, dumped, shat upon. Oh man, my heart has been broken so many times. I am a resilient person, though - fortunately or not fortunately - so I tend to always come back for more.
One of my clients who regularly attends AL-ANON meetings has shared with me some of the tools they use. One of their aphorisms is about how expectations set one up for resentment. That's interesting when thinking of love. When I love, I want to be loved back at equal strength. It seems important. It seems fair. When that doesn't happen, I am resentful, hurt ... awwww I'm so pathetic at times like that. Just recently, really only during the past few days, it has come to me to just let love flow, go where it wants, catch myself in the act of expectation and let go again and again. This is definitely a strenuous practice, but I feel, at last, up to the task. I've let go of other stupid, destructive habits, why not release this bad habit of love? Well? Why not?
There's more, but this is enough for today. Another tool the AL-ANON people use is an acronym: WAIT, which stands for "Why Am I Talking?" What a good question! I've said plenty; stopping now.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Next weekend is my high school reunion in Kansas City. I will not be attending, but I'm excited especially for the friends with whom I've reconnected on Facebook. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun.
The energy of gathering is very powerful. Just this week I've "coincidentally" heard from people I haven't seen in a long time, people I was once close with in many different circles, folks from many different chapters of my life. This past week, I've also met (in "real" life) with a blog friend/sister as well as a Facebook friend, both of whom were visiting DC for reasons of their own. It's so interesting, the timing of these surprise reconnections. I love synchronicities, and, too, hearing from all these previously long-lost friends cheers my heart and mind. My capacity for love is far greater than I normally give myself credit for! That is a GOOD thing!
Last night I dreamed I was attending a different kind of reunion, a banquet my mother was hosting for all who have died in the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars, "including the civilians!" she kept saying over and over again. She wanted everyone to know this was not only for American troops. That is so characteristic of my mother's point of view, it felt quite real. My father was there, talking about the trials and tribulations of being a middle child with me. In the dream he had forgotten that I was his middle child. (He was the middle child in his family, too.) It was a very loving reunion.
Jake was there in the dream, too, healthy, powerful, and doing the best he could to get along with all the people. He ran loops around the gathering crowds, joyful and enthusiastic. He only snarled a couple of times, once at someone mowing the lawn, once at another dog (very true to his nature). Eventually I convinced him it was time to go inside for dinner.
At the end of the dream I realized I was on a cargo plane, coming in for a landing in Washington DC. The landing was one of those perfect experiences when you can barely feel the wheels touching down. The crowd burst into applause after which I woke up. Within seconds I burst into tears - I was sad but also felt an upwelling of deep seated joy. My parents were such characters! And ... damn I STILL miss my dog so much.
Maybe I don't give myself credit for being as deeply loving as I actually am because it's so hard when loved ones die or slip away. I also harbor a sneaking suspicion that I believe it isn't cool to love so passionately - and my ego is VERY invested in being cool. For heaven's sake. This morning I'm at ease with my capacity for deep, enduring heart connections. That capacity is quite expansive! It's kind of miraculous, really.
With gratitude to every being I love and have loved. Y'all know who you are! Happy Sunday.
Cool shadow pattern on the floor of the East Wing of the National Gallery.