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Author: laviniachristine

Lost in the Middle of Everything

Lost in the Middle of Everything

 

I stand in the fray, noticing the dancing light on the coming horizon.

Alone in this abyss, I gently sway to the vibrations of others as they pass.

My feet are firm with restlessness, my heart is resolute with hesitation.

Everything moves at breakneck speed as the flickering light teases my senses.

Confusion is the emotion of the day, lost in the middle of everything.

 

Air tightens its grip, as if a noose of suggestion.

Moving nothing, the light playfully dances on my skin.

This echo chamber is deafening, my silence, the others noise.

The traffic is unbearable. It is oppressive. Hiding the why, the how – everything.

Peering into the cosmos of questions, lost in the middle of everything.

 

People move with such speed, blurring the lines of truth.

Everyone in a hurry to get nowhere, stalled in the rush to nothing.

Refusing to be stuck in reverse, I lean into the dancing light.

From my vantage point I see everything that was and every possibility.

Yet still here remains, a soul lost in the middle of everything.

-Lavinia Busch

For My Children: Move to Your Own Music

For My Children: Move to Your Own Music

 

FOR ANY DAUGHTER/ FOR ANY SON

Do not let yourself be blindfolded early on.

Do not accept harsh or kindly lashing, slashing …

even when it is called “traditional,” “required.”

Do not be lulled by sensations…

soft velvet wrapped around your head

will blind thee nonetheless.

Do not hide behind, “It can’t be bad,”

“It’s not that bad,”

“No real harm’s been done. . .”

Do not try to convince yourself by bargaining,

“See, they’re such exquisite velvet blinders. . .

a cut above the usual.”

Be wary of “doing what we do here,”

“doing as we have always done.”

Withstand grinning Death in his many disguises;

he will promise fleeting excitement ,

a once a year glory in exchange for forfeiting

your one precious and wild life forever.

Do not pour salt

into the earth of your mind

and expect lilies to grow there.

For us, resistance is ceremony.

We are the proof that the soul’s truths

transcend the oldest time-honored lies.

 

“For Any Daughter, For Any Son” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

Nothing feels stronger than the tug of tradition, an incredibly magnetic pull toward the past. Traditions are an important part of any family story. What would we be without those that have come before? That being said, it is important to understand that we have no obligation to take ownership of what may not be meant for us, including our family traditions. We flex our courage muscle each time we resist doing things as they have always been done as opposed to listening to our hearts and moving in that direction.

 

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Do not pour salt into the earth of your mind and expect lilies to grow there.” Breathing in these words, I experience an instant release of the unwanted. Salt is an abrasive yet essential mineral for life. The metaphor of a mind filled with this life mineral, yet unable to blossom, is powerful.  Why not sprinkle salt and leave some room for the lilies to germinate? After all, beauty is discovered only by giving breathe to an otherwise constricted way of being.

 

Resisting the status quo can be difficult. By its very nature, resistance can be insidious.  If I wish my daughter and son to be strong minded yet gentle hearted, I must let them forge their way into this role even if their path differs from mine. Who is to say one way is the only way? Walking through life with a different cadence does not dishonor.  It takes many cadences to create the beautiful music of a symphonic variation. One cannot possibly bloom if trying to walk, act or behave as everyone else.

 

The harsh words of the critic will sound, seeing all that is different and speaking to these differences without permission.  Forget what you hear and see. As Dr. Estes writes, “For us, resistance is ceremony. We are the proof that the soul’s truths transcend the oldest time-honored lies.”

 

The following thoughts are for my beautiful children. My wish for them is that they continue to honor the voice within and dance to their own music, no matter how different it may be. Dance my loves and live fully.

 

Know your truth and honor it with every action and thought. Be freely and unabashedly yourself and revel in knowing that no matter the outcome you have lived life on your own terms.

 

Be brave and circle your on wagons as need be. Bravery is hard fought each time you face a fear that is not yours to hold. Toss out the ceremonial makings of the expected and dance a new war dance of your own. Listen for direction on the winds of change and let the breeze elevate your soul.

 

Face hardships with a humble heart and know that this life was not meant to be easy. Everyone, no matter how they appear, has experienced darkness bringing them to their knees. It is only face down in the dirt that one can finally let go of all expectations, inhibitions and unwanted observation by committing to the blooming of a beautiful soul.

 

Let go and flower into the sun, dance in the wind and smile broadly. This life is such a beautiful and precious gift. Remember that each new day is filled with possibility no matter what obstacles you may experience.

 

Smile at your troubles, laugh during your hardships and release the fear of the unknown. Silence the voices and refuse to change the music of your own drum. It is only when being completely self that life unfolds as it should.

 

Love unconditionally. Love those that make you uncomfortable, love family that you do not understand, love strangers that appear odd and love those that argue for the obscene and confrontational. Approach all with love in every instance. Think before you speak and hold your tongue if you do not trust what might be said in haste.

 

Do not acquiesce to others but simply send them love as you move in your own way. Try not to hold hate in your heart. Hate is a darkness that will take root and strangle the bloom before it has seen the sun.

 

Finally, dance. Dance to the music in your heart and the soothing sounds of the universe. Feel the rhythm of your day as if turning pages on a score. Balance moments of excitement with moments of repose just as an allegro meets an adagio. Feel joy in your body and do not be ashamed by this. Jump into the freedom that comes from moving your body in your own unique way. Embrace the oneness you experience in this movement and cherish the togetherness of body and soul.

 

Dance your way through the hardship and heartbreak and continue to listen to the music of your heart…turning it up loud. Be simple in your complexity, an open book that sits on a shelf waiting for those that wish to read you. Stand in honor of this authenticity and refuse to back down. Never forget, you are a beautiful soul and deeply loved.

 

Pieces to Our Puzzle

Pieces to Our Puzzle

 

“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright.  It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life.  In weeding the garden and burning the toast. In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another.  In reading poetry instead of watching the news. In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had.  In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”

-Mirabai Starr

 

As spiritual beings, we are made up of a unique collection of pieces to our very own life puzzle.  These pieces represent the work in moving from immaturity to spiritual wholeness. It is often with this soul work of reassembly that one can get stuck, wondering how to bring wholeness to a chaotic and sometimes unforgiving worldview. This begs the question, maybe we are not meant to reflect some spectacular version of perfection after all.  Could it be within our imperfections that we exist in our truest form?

Growing up, I loved doing puzzles. What began as an unorganized slurry of parts, transformed into the most beautiful of pictures. This final image instantly made sense of the mess, as if it had been there all along waiting to be discovered. Working on this discovery was meditative in practice. Methodically lifting each piece, trying them in numerous places and looking for the smallest of details was a deeply introspective activity. I remember the tangible exuberance when arriving at the very last pieces. It was as if all of a sudden every angle sharpened and each piece seemed to effortlessly slide into the whole exactly where it was meant to be. The simplicity of it was startling. What seemed impossible from the beginning became instantly possible.

Life is not much different than the work of completing a complex puzzle. We enter this world with such possibility and many different pieces of self that will be tested in a plethora of ways. Each role that we try on is evaluated and considered. Is what we are doing or who we are leading us closer to this wholeness or further away? Each day brings new opportunities to evaluate our pieces under new circumstances, lending to endless amounts of feedback.

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Just as with a puzzle, when finding ourselves at a dead end, we can remove layers that do not serve and rebuild our puzzle into wholeness. It is in this constant evaluation, continued work, and correction that one experiences the true practice of spiritual discovery. It is never too late to redefine our life. We are each given a blank canvas along with a bag full of pieces that represent our genetics, personality, birth status, family orientation, etc. While some of these pieces may be ill fitted from the start, we have the ability to build upon them in order to create a more beautiful self.

My marriage was a good example of this correction. In marriage, I tried out a piece of myself and worked tirelessly to make it “fit” the reality in which I found myself. It was only after years of hardship, I finally discovered my path was harmful and not in any way healthy for my heart and soul. I slowly became to undo these pieces, all that tethered me to another in an unhealthy way, and began the arduous work of rebuilding my puzzle one piece at a time.

 I will most certainly encounter many more moments of setback in which I move away from that beautiful image awaiting me.  Life is an endless cycle of expansion and contraction. All that matters is my intention. If I set an intention of spiritual growth, I can use this intention as a reevaluation tool along the way. If a piece does not seem to be fitting my intention, it may be time to make a change. In doing so, I continue to learn, grow and test this bag of pieces in as many ways as my precious life will afford. These pieces will begin to fill in the shadows of my soul leaving a beautifully clear image, representative of all that I am and all that I will ever be.

 

Life is Not A Rough Draft. Write Your Story

Life is Not A Rough Draft. Write Your Story

The Mystic Cookie mobile writing sanctuary. Photo by Dylan Mattina

 

All the “not readies,” all the “I need time,” are understandable, but only for a short while. The truth is that there is never a “completely ready,” there is never a really “right time.” As with any descent to the unconscious, there comes a time when one simply hopes for the best, pinches one’s nose, and jumps into the abyss. If this were not so, we would not have needed to create the words heroine, hero, or courage.                            

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 

Here I stand, on the precipice of great change, with a familiar shudder barreling up my spine. A feeling of extraordinary unease settles in, as if crawling out of my skin. I know change is coming and contemplate what it might feel like. This story of mine will shift and become new, unfamiliar and written in wet ink. My current place will be forgotten just as in the past, a turned page to a well-worn book of my life.

 

As with any book, I may or may not pick it up and reread sections, sharing stories of the past and lingering in that space. If I linger too long, I risk never writing the final pages. I could quite possibly overstay this chapter and ultimately miss what is meant for me. What a tragedy to never fully live into potential by becoming frozen in the now.

 

Writing is a metaphor for life in so many ways. A writer begins with an idea, broad in vision, small in detail. As each page is completed, the characters come alive. Characters may surprise by leading the story in an unintended direction. Life, just as in writing, begins with the stories we tell ourselves. We “write” an idea of who we are, what we do and how our life should evolve. It is often quite a surprise when our story veers off into uncharted territory.

 

As one that rewrites this internal narrative many times over, I am still caught off guard when being assaulted by the winds of change. It is clear that people, including myself, struggle with discrepancies in our stories. I compare this struggle to a new pair of shoes that just don’t seem to fit, but after being broken in become the most comfortable shoes owned. This “breaking in” of fabric is time consuming, uncomfortable and may result in blisters. A new direction will feel alien at the onset. It takes some time to declare ownership over any new perception of place. Soon, it will be as if the now has always been, fascinating how this new reality becomes singular so quickly.

 

Even with this feeling of trepidation, It is important to make every attempt to sit with this discomfort. As the author of my life, I am afforded creative license to rewrite anything I choose. Why wish for a riveting story, when I can write and live into it! Remember, it is not only in moments of joy, exhilaration and passion that good stories emerge. It is also in moments of trepidation, sadness, anxiety or fear when a story becomes intensely meaningful, profoundly moving and beautifully intimate.

 

Write your own story and enjoy the process. Don’t be afraid to edit at will, making adjustments as needed. Find the joy in the process, not the conclusion. Just as with a good book, curl up in a window and find joy in observing the unfolding. If lucky, our stories will have more twists and turns than a great mystery novel. Given the journey I am about to embark on, I am certain mine will.

 

Womanhood and Finding Beauty in the Divine Feminine

Womanhood and Finding Beauty in the Divine Feminine

Feeling the sacred energy at Trona Pinnacles. Photo: Dylan Mattina

Imagine A Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.

A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.

Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.

A woman who listens to her needs and desires.

Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.

A woman who has walked through her past.

Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.

A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.

Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.

A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.

Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.

A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.

Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.

A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.

Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.

A woman who sits in circles of women.

Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

© Patricia Lynn Reilly, 1995

 

Women, sisters, daughters and mothers; the beauty of the feminine takes many forms.  Being a woman comes with a veritable list of expectations, inhibitions and even privileges. Women are expected to be caretakers, lovers, nurturers and collaborators. At the same time, we are encouraged to aspire to lofty goals albeit, politely, gently and fairly. All character traits forced without consent, by a society that values female submissiveness.

 

Being one that is sensitive and soft spoken, it stands to reason my personal conflict between expectation and reality is minimized. This has not always been the case as I have struggled stepping into my true self, finding my voice and shedding layers of expectations. This paradox is confusing. I cherish being a part of the divine feminine, the wellspring of all life and the universal heartbeat that connects us all. At the same time, I have a deep desire to live strongly, independently, authentically and free. The idea that I need to be taken care of is foreign to me. No one can own another person. We all must ultimately stand alone when our end is near and answer for the choices we have made.

 

With all of this being so, why is it so difficult for women to be heard without shouting, be taken seriously without being brash or express emotion without being labeled neurotic? Why is it a woman’s outside appearance becomes an open invitation for criticism, a way to discredit simply by the clothes worn or the style of hair?

 

“A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is. Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.”

-Patricia Lynn Reilly

 

As a former dancer, I was judged on my physical aesthetic, never my intelligence or depth of insight. Dancers are silent tools of a choreographer’s vision, very much like clay to be molded. This extreme drive for a perfect aesthetic was difficult to let go even after I retired. I suffered from some degree of body dysmorphia and an acute discomfort with my sensuality apart from the characters I played on stage. If not pretending to be someone else, who was I?

 

Despite this long and hard fought battle with body image, I now feel absolutely no shame in embracing my femininity. Every single thing that makes me courageous and adventurous is seeded in this strength. I am stubborn yet soft, determined yet pliable, wise yet young at heart and sensual while intelligent. All states are a part of the whole and it has taken many years to welcome them all back to my table with an open heart. I no longer feel a sense of the forbidden when feeling my sensuality bubble below the surface. I no longer feel stern when stating a difference of opinion and I no longer feel meek when choosing not to be boisterous or openly bold. I honor my gentle hearted manner and pay little mind to what others opinions.  

 

“Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman. A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories. Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life”, I too have shed layers of shame for choices made out of fear, carried forward from generations that came before.  These ancestral cords are shared biological remnants of abandonment, low self-esteem and self-hate. I no longer have to remain tethered to these emotions; they were never for me to begin with. I freely cut these ties and feel stronger for doing so.

 

Perhaps someday there will appear a poet courageous

enough to give expression to the voices of the “mothers.”

~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 386-387

 

Similarly, women in my family are incredibly sensitive to energy and well aware of the emotional temperature of a room. It stands to reason that we hide some of these gifts in an attempt to avoid labels of “hormonal, overly sensitive or believers in wacky pseudo-science.” Imagine having the intuition that something is amiss and not being able to find words to describe why? Very few are able to move forward when a woman answers “I just know” to the question of “Why?” There is no tangible data to cull, no statistics to list and no definitive proof. It is a matter of faith, in being a woman and embracing self.

 

If I could share one thing with women today, I would implore them to wear energetic shades deflecting expectations, norms and criticism. Embrace all that is beautifully feminine about you and pay no mind to the naysayers. In an effort to be seen, do not change your manner by becoming aggressive or loud. Those that need to see, will. They will notice you just as you are and embrace all that makes you so beautifully strong, nurturing and feminine. Be yourself and relish in this wholeness with each breathe, hearing the whisper of the Divine feminine all around you.

 

One of Those Days: Chronic Illness Sucks

One of Those Days: Chronic Illness Sucks

 

A Prayer

Refuse to fall down

If you cannot refuse to fall down,

refuse to stay down.

If you cannot refuse to stay down,

lift your heart toward heaven,

and like a hungry beggar,

ask that it be filled.

You may be pushed down.

You may be kept from rising.

But no one can keep you from lifting your heart

toward heaven

only you.

It is in the middle of misery

that so much becomes clear.

The one who says nothing good

came of this,

is not yet listening.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

I began writing this post over two months ago and could not find the motivation to spend another minute on the challenges of chronic illness. It seemed to be a bit too “woe is me” and I hate to sound as if whining about things, it is not in my nature.  What prompted a return to this draft was a series of events that cast me back into a much darker place of “why me” regarding autoimmune diseases and the way in which illness permeates every corner of my life, even if I like to pretend otherwise.

 

Spring has a history of being difficult on me. It is this time of year that I was diagnosed after experiencing a severe relapse that left persistent issues. It is also this time of year when I struggle most with fatigue and MS symptoms that flare up constantly with little rest for the weary. Maybe it is the temperature change or the long academic year wearing on me. All I know is that spring gives me a run for my money every year.

 

Thursday, I woke up feeling exceptionally tired. When I say tired, I mean like having just run a marathon and ready to dive under the covers for a ten hour sleep…that tired. I have a mantra I live by of  “energy creates energy” especially in moments such as that morning. With this in mind, I made my way to the gym and limped through a workout, giving myself kudos for having pushed through the sea of brain fog and muscle fatigue. Rushing to work, I was foggy but somehow made it to school on time. Walking in the break area I grabbed a used napkin out of my bag to throw in the garbage, made a quick move on my right leg and momentarily felt the all familiar disequilibrium that plagues me. Before I could gather myself my leg gave way. I raised my upper body abruptly to catch my balance and instantly cracked my head on the hanging cabinet above.

 

What followed was intense ringing in my ears, pain shooting down to my feet, a leg that felt like jello and a flood of tears. Coupled with the complete embarrassment at this having been witnessed by a coworker, my day was not going well. An “MS day” as I like to call them, had outed me in the most public of ways. I had hurt myself for the first time because of the unpredictability of this illness. The tears keep coming for over an hour, something else that has changed in the past year. My emotions are like floodgates and for some strange reason I have no off button once the gates are opened. It is not depression, it is the inability to control the physical process of crying.

 

The day progressed with a few mandatory meetings in which I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, multiple visit from the school nurse, a risk management intervention and a local trip to the workers compensation doctor. The doctor was impressed with my vocabulary around neurological illness as well as the many tools I have empowered myself with. This did nothing to change the fact that I was sitting in a doctors office because of a balance and weakness issue caused by my constant companion, MS. Nothing could change that.

 

Safely arriving home after this whirlwind of events, I collapsed in a heap on the sofa completely spent from the physical and emotional drain of it all. It is unbearably humbling to realized illness can rear its ugly head at any time, disrupting every area of my life in an instant. Relaying this story to my sister, she sweetly reminded me that not everything is because of MS. People lose their balance and hit things all the time. While I especially appreciated her attempt at making me feel better, I knew my MS was to blame. I wish I could rationalize it all away somehow, but I could not. I knew how my leg and dizziness symptoms present and they did ever so grandly that morning. 

 

“There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive?”

― Dalai Lama XIV

 

A constant challenge of this disease is the need for greater emotional intelligence and sensitivity in all instances. This need has been one of my most profound teachers. I have learned I can not expect, nor should I, a suitable reaction from others in their gracious attempts to comfort me.  I have learned I will always doubt myself when it comes to discerning what is disease related and what is just age or illness.  I have learned because my illness is somewhat invisible others will want to commiserate by sharing the story of a home remedy “that works!” I have learned to be kinder to myself in all of my failings and shortcomings, when I am unabashedly sad or a bit introspective and quiet. Finally, I have learned that I am fragile in my humanity and must be loving and patient with the process.

 

Our lives are short, minuscule in geologic terms. We are all terminal and it makes no difference what we might be afflicted with. Pain and suffering do not discriminate and come in many flavors. One does not need to have a disease to experience all of these emotions, it is important for those with MS to remember that others have challenges as well. In some small way this understanding helps me feel much less isolated and alone. Growing older gracefully with the added challenge of illness is humbling at best. I know that I am not alone in this journey and look to others for guidance and support when I am at my wits end.  

 

Take a moment and really see those around you. If someone you know is suffering in some way, let them know you are there. No personal stories, remedies or suggestions are necessary. Just let them know you are sorry for their suffering and sit with them in whatever way feels right. That is it. Empathy is not providing solutions, empathy is feeling another’s pain and remaining with them in that place as support. As in all things, simple in its complexity and exceedingly difficult in action.  Illness is a constant reminder to connect emotionally with those around us and to continue to be available in this way as long as is necessary. On Thursday, I was reminded that even the worst of “MS Days” is better than no day at all. 

 

The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour

 

 

Looking to the east there you arrive,

Washing the darkness with light by your side

Smiling, I glance hiding shyness amongst stars

You follow my shadow lending brilliance afar

 

Upon this highway between you and I,

we dance another dance until it is goodbye.

A highway made only for intimate embrace

Of candles, windows, treetops and grace.

 

Silent only a few moments as we sway

Music sounding that beckons to play

If only today, tomorrow nothing is sure

Dance with me, dance with me, as the starlight endures.

 

-Lavinia Busch 2018

Climbing the Summit and Awakening

Climbing the Summit and Awakening

 

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.”

― John O’Donohue,

 

There is only forward, it has become impossible to look back. As if the person I was no longer exists. With each day, minute and second I am transformed into the next. Nothing is lost on me any longer, every happening is a new landscape filled with possibilities.  As John O’Donohue states, “the eternal makes you urgent”.  Urgency is forever present and the tug of my curious heart grows stronger and more persistent with each delay.

 

The march of routine echoes loudly in my ear. I try to embrace the simple, knowing there is grace in completing the smallest of tasks with pride. This does nothing to silence the awakening. It hums ever so quietly until it eventually becomes a deafening freeway filled with thousands of thoughts and possibilities. The assault of this unknown is paralyzing. Fear lingers, beckoning me to restrain myself by filling my mind with a litany of “what if’s”

 

A summit is very much a metaphor for this awakening. Every day is filled with rejection of the norm, a conquering of the ascent. It is a push to something unknown yet beautiful in its otherness. The awakening of a soul is a blooming of the eternal breath. We carry this breath our entire life, suppressing it under the burdens of this world. When this breath begins to move throughout the body, no amount of restraint will diminish it. It is powerful yet gentle, curious yet familiar and erratic while focused.

 

“May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love.”

― John O’Donohue

 

 

The breath of an awakening spirit lifts one up slightly above the comfort of the familiar, with a line of sight to the summit. It is in this line of sight that possibility exists. People will tell you to get your head out of the clouds by coming back to reality. Pay no attention. These same people are fearful of what you see. Their discomfort is with themselves, never with you.

 

In this very moment all I hunger for is to live. I wish to live as completely as my ageing body will allow. Time is the constant. The weight of the world is ticking loudly, with the reminder that nothing is guaranteed. If I wish to allow my awakened soul to blossom, I have to provide space for this breath to flow. Constriction is never conducive to growth. I often smile when I throw of my work clothes soon after getting home, wash my face, tie up my hair and feel the release of the work day. For me, it is in this moment that I feel most like myself. Naked, open and filled with an expansive breathe of something other than what is considered productive, yet vital for my very being.

 

 “The human journey is a continuous act of transfiguration.”

― John O’Donohue

 

My inner dialogue with spirit is only flowing when I am in this most natural of states. It can be trance like when writing, a connection with a different frequency or plane. It is in these moments that I hear O’Donohue remind that we must all be “inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment.” I am inflamed and am not looking back. My awakening may be jarring to others and even myself. All things worthwhile are difficult and require a commitment to the idea until one can live into the space of the real. However long it takes, I am committed to reach for the summit. Whether I make it to the metaphorical top is unimportant. It is in the striving that I blossom and am filled with the breath of all that is and all that ever was.

 

Be Yourself and Bloom

Be Yourself and Bloom

 

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s life–water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

I often consider the possibility we are born into this world knowing who we are, where we come from and all of the many wonders of the universe. It is in the birthing process that we forget. The assault of oxygen, loud noises and gravity quiets this knowing. It then takes an entire lifetime to know oneself again. We expend so much energy learning, failing, growing, achieving all under the guise of self-growth. Life is just a convoluted journey on the way home.

Certain calmness prevails as we reach the end of this process, an unshakable acknowledgment of all that is and all that will ever be. Imagine two old souls nodding at one another as they pass, one leaving this place while another returns to learn once again.

 

I am the voice of the awakening in the eternal night

-Gnostic Hymn

 

Given this perspective on life, what are we doing if not continually learning? Being stagnant is not living, it is persisting. Change and challenge take courage with the promise of much discomfort. Yet if this change is the only way to allow our souls to shine, why do we shy away from the challenge only to protect social norms and misplaced expectations?

 

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

One thing is true; this is my life and only mine. No one can live it for me by accepting responsibility for failings or accolades for service and contribution. It is and has only been between me and the Divine. This important and intimate relationship will bear fruit eventually. As Clarissa Pinkola Estés says so beautifully, ““I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s lifewater them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

 

My heart bleeds tears of recognition when I read these words. I know I have been a seedling far too long and to bloom I must face the sun wholeheartedly. The sun is ever bright with intensity and weight of a heated energy. It is among this intensity that courage is born, the willingness to be myself irrespective of a gaggle of naysayer. It is within this partnership that I am reborn to live fully once again in my own skin, accepting all that I am and all that I am not. I can gracefully let life have its way with me, feeling the edges and dark corners yet facing all with a clear heart and mind.

 

This world is indeed stormy with an independent emotional weather and a constant underlying hum of uncertainty. The agitation of this push and pull can be seen in the eyes of many. It is in seeing, acknowledging and challenging this agitation that one grows. Just as a flower needs the light to bloom so too does our soul. One cannot hide in the darkness and expect beautiful blossoms to unfold. One must face the brightness of chance, face the possibility of failure and face the willingness to be seen every day. In doing so we are watering our own garden and moving a few steps closer to where we were always meant to bloom. Home.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love

 

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”

― Thomas Merton

 

 

It can take a lifetime to understand how to love unconditionally. Later in life, reflection and a deep sense of regret can occur when a relationship misses the mark. Age heralds clarity, shining a light on the shadows the sit between two people. This is especially true among those who have allowed unrealistic expectations to be voiced as harsh judgments. Harmful criticism forces distance and is never acceptable in a loving relationship. Sadly, this revelation often present after the damage has been done. Such is the irony of life.  

 

 Each generation seems to become more and more consumed by self, completely missing the importance of showing compassion to others. Separateness is the norm with love of self being paramount to love of others. This is no more self-evident than in the intimate relationships forged with close friends and family. The “need it now” and “me before all else” mantra leaves little room for the practice and disciple of deep love. In addition, the voyeuristic culture of social media lends to a feeling of greater importance or unnatural hubris fashioned from the imaginary world of pictures on the internet. It is a viscous cycle.

 

In practice, love requires a letting go of the desire for control in all instances. This letting go while difficult, is necessary for love to flourish.  One must peel away a multitude of protective layers intended to soften the weight of living in a less than forgiving world. This takes great courage and an ability to feel fear but not be paralyzed by it.  Unconditional love finds breathe, when changing the lens in which one views another from the rose colored glasses of the ideal to the clearer lenses of the actual.

 

“Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of a neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.”

― John O’Donohue

 

As is often the case, people are much harder on those they hold dear. Business associates and acquaintances received endless amounts of patience and support while a spouse, child or sibling can be the recipient of a critical barrage of judgments. I am just as guilty of this as the next, especially with my siblings. If not being careful, I only see the things that irritate or rub and completely overlook the beauty in the other. This beauty is always found in differences rather than similarities, the way in which one navigates the world apart from a tribe. What may appear to be foolhardy or even ill advised to one can be a great learning opportunity for another. If I love someone, I love all of them. I love the many ways in which they chose to show up in my life and at times, I love them from a distance as is necessary for my well being.

Holding pain for another is yet another way in which unconditional love thrives. We are all delicate and fragile souls, baring scars from both intentional and unintentional wrongdoing. No amount of letting go will set us completely free from the conditioning of our upbringing and life experiences. It becomes a choice, when seeing scars in another, to gently soften the wound rather than rub salt. It is always easier to find fault in foreign ideas, actions and thoughts rather than looking intently within ourselves. Mirroring or projecting on to others all that we dislike about ourselves will never improve our lot. Reflecting pains and sorrows outward in the hopes of improving self-worth is not love but selfishness.

 

Therein is the beauty of unconditional love. It demands holding another’s heart while setting boundaries needed to honor spirit. There is never a rule book as to how this should play out, each individual is gloriously unique and so too is the act of loving. The goal should always be compassionate listening, gentle guidance and a letting go of the outcome.