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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.

Geography of a Life

Geography of a Life

 

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Have you ever looked at an old map and wondered how the cartographer viewed the world so differently than what is known to be true today? It was not very long ago when scientists believed the earth to be flat. As a lifelong student of geography, I have always been fascinated by this historical lens into human nature.  Reading and even touching old maps allows for a certain connection to past ideas along with a knowing that all things are relative with time.

 

Expanding on this, I find the field of astrophysics to be absolutely mind blowing. Framing all that ever was and all that will ever be within a set of scientific laws is an impossible task. Those who work in this field seem to have a particular ability to blur and bend the lines of this reality in the most creative of ways. Science and mysticism are kindred spirits, both resting on the unknown rather than the known. Highly speculative and ever evolving, the universe is akin to a good book daring one to read, yet never allowing the reader to reach the final chapter. A constant thirst for knowledge, that given the current information, can never be quenched.

 

“For millions of years, an ancient conversation has continued between the chorus of the ocean and the silence of the stone.”

―John O’Donohue , Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Because of this similarity it is possible to state with certainty that mysticism inhabits universal curiosity in a way that parallels science. Asking “what if?” and “why not?” echoes the constant state of questioning that is required of a seeker. Just as one ideology has been discovered and explored, another presents that speaks to the soul in a way that begs for attention. To some this may seem indecisive, but this could not be further from the truth. Mysticism allows for a constant push and pull of ideas without prejudice. Therefore beauty lies within the questions, not the answers.

 

With all of this being so, the map of ones life will vary widely from all others. There is no true way to a specific destination, but rather a multitude of possible roads that will lead to the same end. My geography may look much different from a friend or loved one. It is never for me to compare, but to focus on my unique map by following the directions therein. If I spend my days comparing and allowing the voice of the critic to rear its ugly head, I would be ignoring all that has been provided by spirit. The truth being that the geography of my physical body will change with age and eventually transform to the next. With patience and even some grace, my spiritual geography will also transform into exactly what is meant for me.

 

“Your body is your clay home; your body is the only home that you have in this universe. It is in and through your body that your soul becomes visible and real for you. Your body is the home of your soul on earth.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Just as a maps paper fades becoming yellow and frayed, so too does our past. The sharpness of past experiences should never remain brightly in the forefront but rather muted and distant, referenced only as a tool and not a crutch. Holding to the past will only delay the inevitable change in direction that is expected during moments of great transformation. Holding will delay the drawing of a new map and all the wonderful experiences that encompass the letting go of what no longer serves.

 

Embrace your unique geography, both inside and out. You are a beautiful child of the universe and exactly as you should be at this point. Learn to sit in this place knowing that more is yet to be discovered on the grand tapestry of life. Take heart in the roughness and discomfort and face each new day with interest and curiosity. One day, you will acknowledge all the detours and obstacles that you traversed and stand in awe of the beautiful work of art you have become.

 

Welcoming The Wild Woman Within

Welcoming The Wild Woman Within

“There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision – possibly the most important psychic decision of her future life – and that is, whether to be bitter or not. Women often come to this in their late thirties or early forties. They are at the point where they are full up to their ears with everything and they’ve “had it” and “the last straw has broken the camel’s back” and they’re “pissed off and pooped out.” Their dreams of their twenties may be lying in a crumple. There may be broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

As one might expect, I have been especially reflective given the New Year. During my morning walk I began a life review of sorts, testing for what might require some editing. Looking toward the mountain sunrise for inspiration, I heard the same words repeated over and over…”just keep writing.” Feeling the heartfelt importance of this statement, I sensed once again the wild woman within calling to me. The wild that I have spent much of my life concealing, the wild I was born with and can no longer contain and the wild that is no longer a whimper but a deafening roar.

 

Always a bit out of step with all those around me, I do see a change looming on the horizon. Our world has become increasingly uncomfortable with a deep, meaningful and soulful connection to the Divine, making it exceedingly difficult to ignore this roar any longer. The only possible choice is to honor this emerging voice by silencing the critiques and releasing this beautiful part of myself. The obstacles are many: rigid religious practice, family, stress from a overtaxing work environment, social expectations, political unrest, etc. I am completely drained from the constant push and pull of head versus heart. The need to express this part of myself is so intense it burns with a hot and untamed energy. One cannot neglect the wild within without suffering serious consequences of the soul.

 

“A starved soul can become so filled with pain, a woman can no longer bear it. Because women have a soul-need to express themselves in their own soulful ways, they must develop and blossom in ways that are sensible to them and without molestation from others.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

It no longer matters who reads my words, or what others think. I have known for many years that I have an important voice and setting it free is the only option. Whatever shape this transformation takes, I am ready to move. No matter the discomfort of this evolution, I will persist. Something greater than myself beckons and I haven’t the strength to deny this other regardless of repercussions.

 

“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

As I tiptoe into the woods of transformation, I listen for guidance and call upon those who have walked this path before me. The fear inside is not match for the veracity of the call and I am at its mercy… finally. An easy breeze crosses my face as I feel the morning heat, my natural sanctuary. I gladly hear the whisper of spirit, intuition and grace.  With a knowing smile, I can finally aim to embrace this uncertainty with a full heart. The time to roar is upon me.

 

The Passing Of A Beautiful Spirit With An Untamed Heart

The Passing Of A Beautiful Spirit With An Untamed Heart

 

Events of late have me pondering the paradoxical elements running deeply within my family. Everyone has some wildness, weirdness and hyper intuition but may not elevate these qualities to the degree my family has. This hyper intuition present in all instances and I wonder how women managed to foster unconditional love within this uniqueness without losing themselves entirely in the process.

 

After much thought, I find I have come full circle: puzzled, awestruck, bemused and a bit afraid. There is much to live up to when placing myself aside those that have lived flawed lives while shining their soul so brightly. On most days, I just want to hide in a self made cave, sipping tea and reading a good book. The world can be far to intimidating and my home feels safe.

 

How does a women balance a gentle spirit with the constant calling of an untamed heart, a persistent wanderlust for people, place and thing? On a good day, I feel torn by my somewhat ferocious desire to make a difference in the world and the gentle spirited voice that wants to love with abandon, residing in a safe zone of warmth and kindness.

 

It takes great courage to break with one’s past history and stand alone.”

-Marion Woodman

 

Hearing the stories of my Grandmother Charlotte’s colorful life only fuel my desire to find a way forward. No matter how one interprets her life in review, there is no doubt that she did it her way. I always admired that she never tried to be anything but herself. In doing so, she had a unique ability to accept others as they were showing up, foibles and all. Even though one could absolutely say she was feisty with an inner fire that burned with a palpable heat, I never experienced a moment with her in which I did not feel seen. She captured my attention, locking in like a missile by speaking to whatever was in my heart. She never shied away from difficult things, at least not with me. Her blunt honesty delivered with a larger than life smile was appreciated more than I believe I ever let her know.

 

I often wonder if my life trajectory would have been different if I had known her earlier. She and her sister Frieda spoke to me, my gypsy spirit, in a way that others did not. Meeting her was jarring in that I saw someone living in a way that inspired yet frightened me. She had a loving partner who honored her uniqueness and the two of them seemed to exist in a self made bubble of recognition.  Wherever Charlotte was, so too was Wilton.  Two of the same, yet different sides of a coin. She was outgoing and vivacious, he quiet and introspection. I just can’t fathom one without the other.

 

One thing that remains is the endless wells of generosity I witnessed in Charlotte. She healed wounds in our family that only a child of adoption could know. My mother found a mirror in Charlotte and together they walked through the remainder of Charlotte’s life loving, learning and leaning on one other. No other example of unconditional love stands as profound as this. We gained another grandmother and she gained a daughter with a very loving extended family. In losing her, it brought into focus just how special relationships are and how fortunate it is to connect with another on any level.

 

“Death is our friend, precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I feel the space that she left and hope that in some small way, by living my life on my own terms, I honor that space. I hope to be able to add something positive to my environment, connecting with others in my own careful yet spiritual way. People talk to me and I believe this is a gift that grandma Charlotte passed along. I may not always welcome it, but maybe that is not the point. Maybe the point is how others honor me by sharing their stories. Each time someone opens up in a personal way, I try to honor this sharing while providing some comfort for whatever may be troubling them. I try to exchange energy in the most gentle and loving of ways and in doing so I am the recipient of their bravery, resilience and love. In this way my untamed heart is set free from the fear of living such a non-traditional way. In this way I am the lucky one.

 

Charlotte is pure light now and privy to all of the beauty and majestic wonder of this spectacular universe. She is everywhere yet nowhere, ever expansive and limitless, she is pure unadulterated love. Peace, blessings and light to her on this next chapter of her journey. I hope to carry with me a small spark of her fire that she so lovingly tended and shared with others.

 

Creative Energy and the Feminine

Creative Energy and the Feminine

 

“I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you. In the process of healing, this is one of the huge things that I have discovered. People recognized the energy coming to meet them. When they opened to another energy, a love, a divine love, came through to meet them. That is what is known as grace. We all sing about amazing grace. It is a gift. I think that it comes through the work that we do. For some people, it can come out of the blue, but I know that in my own situation, the grace came through incredible vigilance.”

Marion Woodman

 

Surrender, easier in concept than practice. Surrender implies weakness, a giving in that comes from a lack of resolve. This implication could not be further from the truth. Surrender is an action of incredible strength. One that takes much courage and a facing down of fears that otherwise go unchallenged. As a woman, I have spent much of my adult life learning about this strength firsthand. I have experienced a complete missing of the mark in this regard and the intervention of spirit at these junctures. While terrifying, this collision of fear and spirit can be spectacular in every sense of the word.

 

The feminine spirit personifies receiving and all of the nuances required to bend but not break. Women are expected from a very early age to be soft spoken and service orientated. As women age, the Divine spirit continues to burn and will do so until set free by choice or circumstance. For some women this fire is set free much earlier than others, but timing is of no real consequence. What does matter is that this feminine energy ultimately finds it way into the light and serves as a beacon for other women not quite ready to shine.

 

As one that has always relished the role of mother, I have towed this line with practiced accuracy. I am one that enjoys every aspect of nurturing another life. It feeds my maternal instinct. Conversely, I have a creative fire that burns hot beneath the surface. I abhor being told how to express this creativity, especially when outside influences unwittingly attempt to cool this heat. My journey with the written word began in elementary school, but it took four decades before I greeted my feminine spirit with love and published this blog. I had already raised my children, suffered a difficult relationship and lived the better part of a very raw and real life. Life had gotten in the way and my creative spirit had suffered until words set me free.

 

“Rage and bitterness do not foster femininity. They harden the heart and make the body sick.”

Marion Woodman

 

Unexpressed creative energy can manifest as rage, anger and depression. If I had never picked up a pen again, my life would certainly be a wandering from point to point with no compass, perennially lost with a heart sealed so tightly nothing could permeate. I have only grace to thank for my current situation. With copious amounts of grace, I have managed to find myself in a new space, feeling spirit in ways that amuse, mystify and make whole my entire being. I am so very thankful for this discovery.

 

“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”

― Thomas Merton

 

By embracing this Divine feminine completely, I am now able to explore other areas of my life without fear of retribution or even failure. Do I wish to stay in my current profession? What qualities do I value in another? How do I envision my life moving forward? I can dream boldly without the voice of fear drowning out my thoughts. I give myself permission to fall short while learning to shine as brightly as possible. This evolution is all a part of the process of discovery. It requires the shedding of an uncomfortable skin layer upon layer until the very core of self is revealed. No more hiding, no more false representations, just me.

 

I am most in companion with my Divine feminine when I quiet the noise around me, becoming apart of the natural world once again. I purposefully let go, surrender to this change of pace without persecution. It is only in this quiet space that my creative energy begins to flow. It is in trying to attain this flow that I most often fall short. Surrender is just that, a letting go of the outcome. I must accept that I may have nothing of extrinsic value to say. It must be enough that I have put it down on paper thereby releasing it from the jagged corners of my soul. This writing in some ways is selfishly for me as I continue to allow grace to have its way with me, as it will. Only in this way can I find my way home.

 

Becoming Alike in Our Differences

Becoming Alike in Our Differences

Sometimes hidden from me

in daily custom and in trust,

so that I live by you unaware

as by the beating of my heart,

Suddenly you flare in my sight,

a wild rose looming at the edge

of thicket, grace and light

where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing

again what I chose before.

-Wendell Berry    

 

Speaking with student employees, I found myself in a philosophical conversation that was familiar ground. Always slightly out of step with my peers, it was refreshing to tread the fertile ground of the “why” question with younger minds. I should preface this by saying the school I work for is an experimental art school and both faculty and students tend to walk the edge of what is considered fringe in thought and practice.

The conversation turned to the idea that people in close proximity become inadvertently like-minded.  Is it human nature to form tribes and alliances with other like-minded people?  My question for the students was, “In your differences, are you not becoming more alike?” This caused some head scratching and much debate back and forth. Is it in societies push to diversify that we have stepped beyond embracing uniqueness into siloed tribes of like? Uncomfortable question to be sure.

People like to feel a sense of belonging. Even in fringe communities, the casts of characters often dress the same, eat the same and think the same. I am baffled when I see this happening even at an institution of creative and exploratory practice. Look closely and you may notice the similarities of people in these groups. Yes, they exist outside the social norms of the day, but in their own tribe, they are alike.

As one the wanders from one group to the next, I find it more challenging to be separate. By choosing this lifestyle, I am often alienated from the most unique groups of people. Maybe it is because I am a free spirit yet do not buy into every crystal and aura reading ideology, maybe it is because I am a hippie yet will not run around in a tie dyed shirt barefoot in the woods. These sensibilities do not speak to me in totality. Parts of the lifestyle do, but never everything. This may also be why I find organized religion difficult. I enjoy pieces of most practices, but tire of the all or nothing mentality that is required to call myself Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. I prefer the beautiful flow of mysticism that encompasses many different views but asks the same questions. In the realm of politics, I am an independent. Politics has a pack mentality that sickens me. I am allowed to have my own ideas separate and apart from a party. God forbid I am a conservative that believes in abortion rights or a liberal that believes in lower taxes.

 

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu

Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East

or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not

composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or in the next,

did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace

of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two

worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that

breath breathing human being.

-Jelaluddin Rumi

 

Reading Wendell Berry, his “wild rose” speaks most specifically to me as one that hides under the radar but blooms nonetheless. Each group of people that I interact with has something to teach and that is what is so fascinating to me. Whether I borrow some of the ideas or not is completely up to me. Being different requires strength in standing alone. Solidarity with self can be difficult in practice. It is saying no when everyone around you is saying yes; it is being comfortable being the only voice for your point of view. Maybe the answer is not to continually seek out people more like us; maybe it is to flourish among others that are different. In this way we can celebrate our differences with no expectation to conform to a specific type of rebellion.

We are all members of the human race. In this way we are all the same. Given the freedom to explore our personalities we flourish into a gorgeous field of wildflowers, each different but as beautiful as the one before. A daisy does not try to be a rose or any other flower for that matter, the daisy just blooms. Each flower, standing alone and blooming creates the togetherness of the field, breathtaking in totality only because of these differences. The next time you are in a group of people, find those most different from yourself and spend some time with them. You may discover a few things that interest or speak to you, even if just to observe, listen and learn.

Looking to the Full Moon

Looking to the Full Moon

Faithful Lover

The moon came to me last night

With a sweet question.

She said,

“The sun has been my faithful lover

For millions of years.

Whenever I offer my body to him

Brilliant light pours from his heart.

Thousands then notice my happiness

And delight in pointing

Toward my beauty.

Hafiz,

Is it true that our destiny

Is to turn into Light

Itself?”

And I replied,

Dear moon,

Now that your love is maturing,

We need to sit together

Close like this more often

So I might instruct you

How to become

Who you

Are!

Hafiz

 

 

I am a woman of the moon. I am a summer baby born in the sign of Cancer and a few days before the first man landed on the moon in 1969. So many of my life’s pivotal events have centered around the moon that I have begun to feel the connection is much more intentional than suspected. With the full moon occurring tonight, I cannot help but take notice of all the major life changes chasing me down.

 

To begin with, my daughter and her boyfriend have decided the timing is right to step into adult life fully and move out.  My daughter has lived with me for a few years and I can think of nothing but blessings for having had this opportunity.  I doubted we could tolerate living together at the onset given the great disparity in our personalities. I had visions of complete chaos in my home, loud music, loud voices, late night soirees and junk food everywhere. In actuality, I have had a front row seat to her growth.  It has been nothing less than an amazing evolution to observe.

 

In addition to my housing transition, I have been dating someone. He is a wonderful man that has shown me in the most authentic way what it means to truly love another. Being in this relationship has required that I move about in a much less guarded manner.  While this can be exhilarating, it is at the same time terrifying. Having closed my heart off for a number of years, I can happily say that I have embraced the fear and vulnerability by choosing to be present in this relationship each and every day. Relinquishing some of my hard fought independence has not been easy but absolutely necessary for my growth.  

 

My son is also experiencing transition. After graduating from college and breaking up with a long-term girlfriend, he was a bit lost. Unsure of his next step and alone for the first time, he took a year to explore. Watching a child struggle is never easy. I had to exercise all of my mothering skills by quietly supporting him without being obtrusive, always a delicate balance. Thankfully, he is nearing the light at the end of this tunnel. He is fully employed in a job that is a stepping-stone for his future career goals. He seems satisfied with his life trajectory after a period of disillusionment and I could not be more proud of him.

 

Bring your wings tonight

I want to fly with you

Through the galaxies and sparkling stars

Elena Notara

 

At the same time, I find myself quickly approaching the half century mark. My older sister will meet this milestone in September and I will do the same in two years leaving me perplexed as to how quickly my life has accelerated.  I choose to greet this milestone as a mid life opportunity rather than a crisis. What is it that I feel the most passionate about and how can I move toward that passion while still supporting myself in this fiscally motivated world?

 

Finally, I am also on the precipice of menopause and have the good fortune of experiencing all of the physical wonders that this life change can bring. A woman’s body is an amazing and I am in awe of how many changes we weather with gusto. I tire of the stigma that menopause is a sickness and an uncomfortable physical transformation. My body has carried me through many experiences; birthing my children, years of rigorous classical ballet training, pleasure, pain and now sickness.  I aspire to respect the current process and approach it with a divine wisdom that centuries of women have exhibited before me.

 

This is all a very long-winded way to say that I am feeling the intensity and pull of this full moon in specific relief. I feel it so deeply that at times it hurts. It is as if I am a butterfly at last being birthed from my cocoon. I feel all of the constrictions that have held me thus far and the freedom of the open sky beckoning. I have a deep desire to shed everything that is not authentic. This shedding leaves me feeling bare and unprotected from a barrage of elements.

 

Because of this uncomfortable vulnerability, I feel the constant duality of wanting to escape this transformation by hiding away until this energy passes while at the same time wanting to run directly into the eye of the storm. The night sky calls to me, mapping out my place in the greater universe. I belong out there, with the stars and the moon. I feel it deeply in my bones as if a homesickness. I know that all of these transitions, while unsettling, are my pathway to this flight. I look to the sky on this full moon for comfort and bathe in the light feeling at once as if I am home and all is well.

 

Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken.

Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken.

“You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep. You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin. You deserve a lover who wants to dance with you, who goes to paradise every time he looks into your eyes and never gets tired of studying your expressions. You deserve a lover who listens when you sing, who supports you when you feel shame and respects your freedom; who flies with you and isn’t afraid to fall.You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.”

*Frida Kahlo*

 

Loving self is one of the hardest things we all must learn. The internal nitpicking and focus on faults rather than strengths can become incessant. While I have worked on self-acceptance for many years, it still eludes me to some degree. I suspect I fake it better than most, putting on an air of self-confidence. The truth behind this grand deception is that I, like so many others, am still faced with many moments of defeat, self-loathing and dissatisfaction.

 

As a teenager,  the idea of loving self could not have been more foreign. It was ingrained in me not to think too highly of myself by embracing humility fully and completely.  If I felt my confidence rise, I worried that my ego was out of control. The only way I knew to rectify this imaginary ego feast was by putting myself down. I began to constantly think I was not as smart, beautiful or capable as I believed myself to be. Being a dancer did not do much to challenge this negative internal dialogue. Dancers thrive on self criticism. We are never good enough and perfection is something that is always an unattainable goal. What horrible voices to have on repeat in one’s head during formative years.

 

Shortly after discovering the concept of self-love, I began the process of unraveling years of conditioning.  I practiced self-affirmations and still do to this day. Frida Kahlo’s poem is one such affirmation speaking to what she and all women deserve in regards to love. I find these words have a specific purity thereby quieting the negative voices if only for a moment. In no other way are we more vulnerable than when loving another.  Sharing our heart completely without hiding the jagged pieces of our soul, is scary and requires some degree of self-confidence.  One needs to feel deserving of the type of love that is both healthy and good. If one does not feel deserving, it is quite possible to fall into an unhealthy relationship.  One that is dictated by faults and fears rather than loving acceptance.

Reading the following line by Kahlo settled in my bones like an old and familiar wisdom longing to be brought to light.

 

“You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin.”

 

We all deserve the intensity of this type of connection. Why settle when the possibility exists for an otherworldly love? I say, never settle into a relationship that does not honor who you authentically are: mind, body and spirit. Settling, while providing some comfort, will have long term consequences. It is never enough to be with someone that does not “see” you and value you for all that you are and all that you are not. Know your worth and be unabashedly who you are. Celebrate all of the unique and beautiful qualities that make you…you. Be open and receive, you deserve it.

 

Finding Focus

Finding Focus

About twenty years ago, while living in Salt Lake City, I came across a stone that is still with me to this day. It is a smoothly shaped stone that can be held in the palm of my hand with a beautiful butterfly etched on one side. I have spent many a day rubbing this stone between my fingers, thinking through situations and seeking resolutions.  It is my personal “thinking” stone that helps me calm all of the noise in my brain during times of uncertainty.  

 

The stone currently lives in my car and I pick it up often while driving.  The quiet of the road and requisite stillness is fertile ground for contemplation.  I actually enjoy this time; the repetitiveness of rubbing the stone along with the sound of the road is oddly relaxing. After taking a few minutes to “zen-out” I always feel a bit more focused and sure of myself.

 

 

While dancing, I replicated this focus by taking daily class. When dancing, the mind cannot wander and full attention to the movement is required.  An example of this not going as planned was when I broke my foot simply by thinking of my to do list while in the middle of petit allegro. A mistake such as this caused me months of training and much discomfort, a very good but painful lesson on the importance of focus.

 

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”

― Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

 

I believe that a relaxed state of focus can only be achieved by slowing down the pace of each day whenever possible. Zen Buddhist and advocate of slowness, Haemin Sunim, was recently interviewed on NPR about this very topic. He spoke to the point that the best mechanism for happiness and clarity is to slow down the brain. Easier said than done in our busyness culture of today. He has also written a book titled “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” about this very topic that I highly recommend.

 

I continue to have an ongoing fascination with the culture of busy versus the idea of slowing down, never really understanding the need it now mentality. Mental clarity cannot be achieved by multitasking nor is this a worthy goal.  Mental clarity can only be achieved with focus. As a woman that has worked my whole adult life while raising children, I am well aware of the pitfalls of multitasking, never really giving any one thing complete attention. In this way I was becoming a jack of all trades but a master of none.

 

“mind that is fast is sick, a mind that is slow is sound, and a mind that is still is divine. This is what the Bible means when it says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

― Eknath Easwaran, The Mantram Handbook

 

Another leader in the slow living community is Eknath Easwaran.  I simply adore his writing. I wrote a post about one of his books Love Never Faileth that I cherish and still reach for at times when I am feeling a little out of sorts. Words can have the same affect as my thinking stone, calming the mind and slowing down the freeway of thoughts that plague me when taking on too much.

 

The question that lingers for me is the “why”. Why do we insist on moving about the world at breakneck speed? What are we afraid of missing? Did it ever occur to anyone that simply by moving at this pace, we are missing the point of a meaningful life? These questions haunt me. I sometimes get the urge to just throw my hands up and say “NO”, I will not move at this pace to meet an end that has no merit in the grander scheme of things.

 

When was the last time you stopped to talk with someone in line at the store, or start a conversation with a neighborhood or gym companion?  We are all walking this planet together and are interconnected in ways that may not be visible in our rush to achieve, acquire and succeed. I challenge you to take some time and explore slowness. Sit quietly with a loved one, read a book, walk in nature with no agenda or time limitation. Allow your mind to unravel the knots of expectations and just be. In doing so, you may actually see things in a new light and the answers you seek may come to you effortlessly. Live slow and let go.