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Author: laviniachristine

Risk and the Between

Risk and the Between

 

 

“Risk, the willingness to accept an unknown future with open hands and happy heart, is the key to adventures of the soul. Risk stretches us to discover the rest of ourselves – our creativity, our self-sufficiency, our courage. Without risk we live in a small world of small dreams and lost possibilities.”

― Joan D. Chittister

 

 

Here I find myself, once again on the precipice of great change. Unable to rectify the impending changes with my incessant need for security and the familiar. My frustration with this discomfort is only over shadowed by the many logistical steps required to pick up and move a home base. I am swimming in logistics at the moment and this alone can be unsettling to a person who adores calm and a welcoming home to soothe the ragged edges of my soul.

 

Why then do I put myself through all of this upheaval? I can only guess my desire for growth and new possibilities outweighs the rest. Standing still in life is simply not living. Being acutely aware of time as a finite commodity, now or never rings true. I find myself in the between of what is comfortable and what is necessary. What a terrible business this living can be at times.

 

One of my soul sisters, Joan Chittister, writes as if just for me with, ““Risk, the willingness to accept an unknown future with open hands and happy heart, is the key to adventures of the soul.” Sometimes I want nothing more than to watch others taking risks and enjoy the show. Life seems so much safer as a spectator.

 

I always liked watching sports from the very top seats, far away from the front row. In the front one can hear the grunts, see the sweat and almost feel a part of the dirt and grime of the playing field. I preferred the movie experience as I sat perched on high, looking down at the spectacle but never a part of it. Who would know that Divine intervention would force my hand and beckon me to participate in a grander way.

 

This time, Dylan and I are moving back into our mostly beloved RV and taking a position as Camp Hosts at a beach campground. We are willingly forgoing the comfort of our tiny apartment, the friends we have made and unlimited speedy internet for an opportunity to live closer to nature’s playing field once more.

 

This past year has been vital for both of us. We needed to catch our breath in a safe space, ease our anxious minds and just be. Now, we move on into the next adventure, fully understanding that things will go wrong. The move will be rocky and we will both feel the pain of distance from both new friends and close family as the drive to the beach will be a hindrance to many in Los Angeles traffic.

 

The field is calling and we must go. Whether we win or lose is not of importance. It is in the playing where character is forged and spirit is tested. In fact, I do not believe there is any winning or losing, only living with the least amount of walls erected for self-preservation.  Embracing the ugliness of it all as well as the beauty. It is only in this “between”, in which anything really makes sense. Joan Chittister says,

 

“Bloom where you are planted,’ the poster reads. But the poster does not tell the whole story. ‘ plant yourself where you know you can bloom’ may well be the poster we all need to see. Or better yet, “Work the arid soil however long it takes until something that fulfills the rest of you finally makes the desert in you bloom.”

― Joan D. Chittister

 

 

Dylan and I are planting ourselves in the dirt of self-growth, the soil of togetherness. We know for certain where we would like to land and this brings us one step closer. We are playing on the field with no promise our desired outcome will be achieved. We chose this risk and chose it willingly…together.

 

Universal Nudge

Universal Nudge

 

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

― Anton Chekhov

 

Have you ever heard a quiet yet persistent voice in the back of your mind, whispering truths while sending shivers of acknowledgment down your spine? That voice has become a loud roar for me this past year, making it difficult to ignore. Believe me when I say, I am a master at procrastination and letting things simmer. Impossible now, given all the warning signs coming my way, a virtual “hurry up and figure it out” storm

I am a firm believer in universal nudges, gently reminding us of our calling or purpose. As spiritual beings, we persist in a perpetual state of denial until receiving an obvious and uncomfortable wakeup call. These attention grabbing moments often come in the form of job changes, melancholy, unexpected conflict and a host of other emotions that can bring one to their knees.

Like so many others, I too avoid the most obvious of signs. The spirit world definitely has my back and tries valiantly to warn me when I have veered off track. Sadly, when the crisis involves me, I often rationalize the experience and keep right on going in the opposite direction. Funny how I end up in the same situation over and over again without ever considering that the cause is my complete avoidance what I know to be true.

 

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

 

At present, it is clear that I am being pointed toward my poetry and a closer connection to nature. The feeling I have in a professional capacity is one of being constricted. Everything seems ill suited to my temperament and I long for more moments of quiet contemplation in my beloved natural world. This is a tough pill to swallow. I genuinely enjoy mentoring students and have for many years. Whether it be as a dance instructor or a librarian, teaching is in inherent to who I am. In fact, I have been teaching since I was 15 years old and made quite a good living lifting up the next generation of artists.

As a matter of habit, I don’t enjoy looking back. My performing arts career is always a part of me, but not something I need to revisit. No, this longing is for the new, the next step in my ever growing spiritual awareness. Writing poetry is just a translation of this longing onto paper.

Working on my second book, the practice of writing has become ingrained and one that is for the most part delightful. I see the dichotomy of my two world quite clearly, but am still searching for the way forward that allows for both areas of my professional life to find meaning.

 

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

 

 

So much of learning occurs within the questions and I have to be okay with not knowing all the answers. It is so very uncomfortable in this between and I suspect it is supposed to be. Without any true discomfort, would anyone make changes and step outside of their comfort zones?

To the universal energy that has been eternally patient with me, I thank you. Please continue to send me signs even if I reject them. One day, and hopefully not too far off in the distance, I will welcome your nudge with an open heart and move in the direction of purpose and love without hesitation. In the meantime, I will continue to sit in discomfort trusting in the mystery of it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Reading

Poetry Reading

 

 

Here we are once again, rounding the corner from hot summer nights into cool crisp fall days. No matter how much time I have in the summer to write, play and bake, September always catches me by surprise. The rhythm of my day changes and my focus intensifies as I prepare for the beginning of another academic year. 

 

Along with this increased awareness, I often experience a specific melancholy. Much of it can be attributed to the rigors of work life. No longer able to flex my schedule, I begin to feel the walls closing in on me. If you have read any of my poems, you know that I absolutely despise being boxed in. My happy place is an open space, preferably a meadow with big sky and distant mountains.

 

To keep my mind off these changes, I am beginning to layout my second book of poems titled Stardust. It has been a labor of love and one that I am very proud of. As a newly published author, I have experienced every version of imposter syndrome and began to wonder if my first book was a fluke.

My first book available on Amazon HERE

 

Thankfully, inspiration came tumbling out of the sky like a freight train. Feast or famine is the way I write and for a few months it was a poetry feast! Now, I am left with a slew of poems wondering how in the world I can present them in a unique way.

 

Around this same time, I received an email from a colleague inviting me to read some of my poems at an event in Pasadena. The Residency Project is an opportunity for artists to collectively share and inspire one another in a beautiful environment. The universe really knows exactly what I need, an opportunity to share my deepest thoughts with a group of fellow artists. What a wonderful way to welcome in the fall.

 

The event details can be found HERE and is called Connections and Callings: A Celebration of Nature, Spirituality and the Arts. I am beyond excited for this experience and am looking forward to interacting, listening and learning from other like-minded artists. 

 

In the meantime, I will continue to do my very best at pulling together another selection of poetry that speaks to other nature writers, mystics, and spiritually curious folks. Send me your good thoughts and positive energy. 

 

 

Lie in the Grass

Lie in the Grass

 

I am feeling the beginning of the dog days of summer with heat bearing down on sun drenched skin. It is in August that one feels the inevitable return of darkness on the doorstep, a change of seasons in the air. It is also with this knowing that I wrote this poem.

My intention was to try and capture the very best of summer as a temporary experience. Seasons are a great reminder of our mortality. Even the very best weather will fade.  Flowers bloom and lose their petals, blades of grass turn brown under the heat welcoming the layers of leaves and snow pack to come. No matter the occasion, all things will change…even us.

 

Lie in the Grass

 

Let’s lie in the grass until the sun leaves today

Staying as long as the world let’s us play

Asleep to the pressures rumbling below

Awake to the brightness of flowers aglow

 

Stretched out among the blades of grass

Letting our worries melt and bypass

This glorious field filled with love and light

Devouring every bit of precious daylight

Let Stillness Speak

Let Stillness Speak

 

Quiet the mind, let angry voices of unrest 

settle, by sitting in silence until 

all that can be heard is the 

steady beat of a broken heart

 

Steep in this stillness, allowing a sacred

balm of reflection to permeate every

cell, giving breath to all that

remains unanswered, all that festers

 

Listen to this stillness speak 

of ancient heart songs singing

 stories of adventures not yet

taken and mysteries left to be discovered

 

What is Intelligence?

What is Intelligence?

 

Of late, I have been completely consumed with the idea of intelligence leading me down the murky path of curious discovery. Always an above average student, one would believe I had a handle on this concept. On the contrary, bouts of low self-esteem and social anxiety left me afraid to take risks, challenge others in debate or share personal philosophies. It has only been through writing that I have discovered hidden strength and allowed parts of myself to be seen. To this point one of my favorite authors, Parker Palmer, states,

 

As teenagers and young adults, we learned that self-knowledge counts for little on the road to workplace success. What counts is the “objective” knowledge that empowers us to manipulate the world. Ethics, taught in this context, becomes one more arm’s-length study of great thinkers and their thoughts, one more exercise in data collection that fails to inform our hearts.

 

What speaks to me is Palmers use of the word manipulate. We often choose to show up each day as society expects us to and with the information required for each interaction. In my field we call this data driven decision making. In doing so we hide our authentic self and shield our hearts while navigating a professional life. We gladly put on errs and dish out facts and figures to support positions, forgetting the points we argue remain eternally elusive. Intelligence of the heart gently reminds, it is better to be kind than to be right. Parker speaks further with,

 

Not knowing who or what we are dealing with and feeling unsafe, we hunker down in a psychological foxhole and withhold the investment of our energy, commitment, and gifts… The perceived incongruity of inner and outer-the inauthenticity that we sense in others, or they in us-constantly undermines our morale, our relationships, and our capacity for good work.

 

I have felt this inauthenticity in both myself and those in my workplace. If I am not showing up as myself, trying my hardest to be as others wish me to be, am I not doing a disservice to everyone? If I had to define true knowledge, I would have to say universal intelligence fits the bill. It is a knowing that no matter how much we think we know, it is never as vast as the great unknown. The divine light in each of us, no matter how we name it, holds this universal knowledge and tries desperately to show us the smallest of sparks during our lifetime.

 

What we name it matters little to me, since the origins, nature, and destiny of call-it-what-you-will are forever hidden from us, and no one can credibly claim to know its true name. But that we name it matters a great deal. For “it” is the objective, ontological reality of selfhood that keeps us from reducing ourselves, or each other, to biological mechanisms, psychological projections, sociological constructs, or raw material to be manufactured into whatever society needs — diminishments of our humanity that constantly threaten the quality of our lives.

 

My writing is a playground for self-examination, self-reflection and philosophical interplay. I debate with myself as I write and the outcome is never predestined. I flirt with new ideas and old tales of wisdom, never really settling into one frame but rather enjoying the entire picture, even the odd brushstrokes and frayed edges. The universe is such a creative space and the joy I feel when floating in this galactic sea of creativity is unmatched by any measure of intelligence we know of.

 

I have no name for this other but know it is with me and is relentless in providing learning opportunities for my soul. Sometimes I fail miserably while other times I shine brightly, soaking in the love of a perceived success. It is only with this duality that we learn, grow and come home to ourselves. The journey can be frustrating, but maybe this is the only way to truly earn our intelligence wings.

 

Why I Write

Why I Write

 

The written word and I have always had a close relationship. As a young child I wrote short stories and enjoyed the escape other characters and worlds allowed. Poetry spoke to me as well, specifically the darker tone of Edgar Allan Poe. Reading the Raven in middle school was life changing. Until that point, I didn’t known that others felt so intensely, flirting with complex emotions. Writing provided a safe space to explore these feelings beyond my dreams and internal dialogue.

 

As an adult, I struggled with all of the things that one experiences in the real world. Relationships, finances, parenting, career, the list goes on. The words on the page became my counselor, my salvation. Only in this medium did it feel completely safe to express how I was feeling. Just putting thoughts on paper brought instant relief from whatever was troubling me. Putting words to my jumbled mess of feelings somehow made for a softer landing.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

 

In early adulthood, I went through what can only be described as a constriction of self. I put down the pen, embarrassed by what I saw on paper. Overcome with emotions and with no creative outlet, I became closed off thinking I could stop the onslaught of feeling and effectively mute the voices that had been my guide and comfort for so many years.

 

I wish I would have known that living in a manner that is counter to self never ends well. Self will come torpedoing back in the most uncomfortable of ways. Faced with my own darkness and unable to deny my imperfections, I was brought to my knees. From this low point, the only way I could see the light was by the pen. I took to writing in a bedside journal and creative energy came rushing back. The words danced on the page as if taunting me to follow along.

 

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

― Anais Nin

 

 

Today, after many years of this practice, I still hear the same words when faced with uncertainty. I hear a very clear voice saying “Lavinia, just write.”  I know in some small way what I write matters. It gives voice to all the many things I cannot, exhibiting much more bravery than my actual voice alone. Yes, I dream of the day when I can write as often as spirit allows, but life has a way of walking down the path in its own time. Patience is a necessity.

 

In the meantime, I will continue to commit all that lingers to paper. Just as a stone must continue down the hill to conclusion, so too must I until this crazy life journey ends. Writing is not a conscience choice but a part of who I am. Self-doubt and criticism no longer matter.  I write because I must.

 

 

 

Time

Time

 

Time is too slow for those that wait,

Too swift for those that fear,

Too long for those that grieve,

Too short for those who rejoice,

But for those who love, time is Eternity.

Henry Van Dyke

1852-1933

We are all only here for a fixed amount of time, life is a terminal condition and the question is not if this journey will end but when. To a person such as myself, this is a comfort rather than a fear. I have always known that I am not from this place. Never one to feel any sense of unease with the unknown of the thereafter, I chose to embrace this other with hope and joy.

 

Each day I look at my body with curiosity as it begins to make this aged transition. My hands, wrinkled and worn from years of work. My face a canvas the shows brush strokes of both sadness and joy. My legs, more tentative and careful with a slower pace. Everything is in reverse now. I catch myself forgetting the title of a book, the name of a street or the ingredients for a favorite recipe. I witness it all and know that this part of my journey has just begun. I call on the Divine for grace, guidance and strength when feeling overwhelmed.  With each new reckoning I continue to shine a light toward home.

 

“The world’s thy ship and not thy home.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

 

The poem by Henry Van Dyke speaks to a curious fascination with time, specifically death. We are energetic beings and as such will persist even after biological death. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, one cannot deny that the moment of passing is one of unimaginable transformation. No amount of worldly success can be called upon to make this transition. We venture into eternity alone, taking with us only the love and connections we have shared with others.

 

Believing that the soul is eternal can be reassuring for anyone struggling with the peculiarities and challenges of life. Energy never ceases, it simply changes form. I choose to hold in my heart a knowing of a time when all the hustle and bustle of the day will stop. The constant worldly distractions, to do lists and commitments will be replaced with a restful and glorious peace. Silence will prevail and all will become clear. This knowing is enough, it must be.

 

Allowing

Allowing

 

“The one close to me now,

even my own body-

these too

will soon become clouds,

floating in different directions.”

― Izumi Shikibu

 

 

The all too familiar feeling of being ill suited for this life has returned. I understand this earthen existence is not home as a familiar longing takes hold. So much of the routine of life mean very little to me. Each day I muster up courage and head to work knowing about this disconnect and the loneliness that is my all too familiar companion

 

As has always been the case, I find solace and heart in poetry. Reading Shikibu brings clarity to the confusion of the moment. Clouds float effortlessly in the sky seemingly unencumbered by what is happening on the surface below.  There is a freedom to their flow, the way they change from a raging lion to a delicate flower in an instance. This idea of metamorphosis is appealing in so many ways. We are all complicated beings and it is crucial we feel the freedom to change. If something is not as we would like it to be, we have agency, we have a voice. Likewise, if facets of our character become abrasive, it is never too late to change direction and become a more loving and tenderhearted person.

 

Clouds are also the keepers of possibility, they are the trumpeters of weather and the shelter from the sun. Clouds are the master imitators, faithful companions and a distant reminder of the expansive energy constantly at play. One never really knows what the skies will bring. Spending an afternoon stretched out in the grass, watching the sky dance, I am reminded once again of the impermanence of all things. I question more earnestly, what is of real importance? Is it meeting a deadline at work, or taking an extra moment to stop and let someone know you care about them? Perspective is everything.

 

Becoming a part of this universal heartbeat speaks to me so deeply. We are everything yet nothing. So very small in the moment yet full of life energy. Looking to the clouds I am reminded of the value of allowing rather than resisting. Life has a rhythm and we are able to be most true to ourselves when we allow this flow to lead the way. Surrendering all fear and believing in a grander purpose we live more fully in the moment, less restricted by worry and circumstance.

 

Celebrating the spring equinox this week, I sense an ushering in of the light now more than ever. It is as if constantly looking towards a horizon with sunrise off in the distance. The light is there, but not yet fully expressed. I stand in wonder and absorb every bit of this warmth knowing that it’s full brilliance is yet to come. It is time to embrace this light, let go of resistance and float. Float above, expectation and judgment and allow metamorphosis as you would a welcome guest. Let YOUR cloud become true and light up the sky brilliantly, into the next part of your journey.

 

 

Nothing Speaks

Nothing Speaks

 

Lips pressed so tightly sealed, eyelids close as emotion yields

Everything slowing to a crawl, vision narrowing down the eternal hall

Wanting to run but legs remain, stuck in quicksand from the rain

Face to face with a godly mirror, reflecting ideas falsely clear

 

Suddenly now I feel the growl, a voice stifled and becoming foul

Rising up from the darkest place, around my throat with fingers laced

Willing any sound to be heard, trying to shout like a morning bird

Crumbling apart and thought as weak, no matter the effort nothing speaks

 

-Lavinia Busch

 

How does one find their voice after many years of holding back, willing it to silence because of insecurity or scrutiny? I have made my fair share of mistakes learning how to speak up over the years. It is very difficult finding the right tone when freeing an idea that has been wanting so desperately to emerge. Often, the result is a harsh exclamation…not a good look.

 

When I wrote the poem “Nothing Speaks” my mind was in deep consideration of this contradiction. When a voice has been silent for an extended period of time, it is unbelievably difficult to change course and exercise a willing openness. The give and take of daily conversation can set off all sorts of alarms. “Is it safe to say what I know to be true?” or “Will people think less of me?”  The self-doubt never ceases, and the easiest road is to just keep silent.

 

It takes great courage to finally speak up, especially for one like myself that prefers to keep most thoughts tightly held. In my rush to seize the moment and speak to an issue I am passionate about, sometimes the words tumble out more assertively than I would like.

 

In general, my goal is to find the balance between not speaking, as in the poem, and sharing my thoughts openly. Some days I am better at it than others. I have learned that as in all things, balance in conversation is a muscle that must be exercised.