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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.


Fragile-Handle with Care

Fragile-Handle with Care

A Song of Living

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.

I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.

My cheeks like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end,

I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.

I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.

I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.

I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.

I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.

As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God,

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Amelia Burr


We are such fragile creatures. The gentleness of the human disposition is often shrouded in a rigid shield used to navigate a somewhat unforgiving world. Underneath all of this protective gear we are naturally soft, exuding light and love. I feel this light from others even when I do not want to, inspiring instant connection regardless of outside packaging. I do not care what religion, political affiliation or race you are. I only care what softness you hide inside and how I might see it better. I question how many layers have been sewn in order to function and how long it will take for me to unlock these layers witnessing the brilliance of a soul. I have little time for those that hide indefinitely under false pretense. I want to know the real person and deeply so.

As one that walks this edge every day, I tend to wear my softness on my sleeve. I cry, laugh and become sullen at the most inopportune times. Labeled sensitive as a child, I was told to grow a stiff upper lip, toughen up and not be so sensitive. This struggle persisted and is one that I grapple with even today.  I have found the only way I can manage interacting with others is by putting up a few walls. If I hold hearts too closely, I am ineffective as a leader in becoming sensitized to the lion’s share of their pain. Once again, I find myself walking the edge. I find ways to be receptive while at the same time creating some necessary distance. The whole charade can be exhausting and one in which I never relish the process.


My soul is full of whispered song;

My blindness is my sight;

The shadows that I feared so long

Are all alive with light.

Alice Cary



In addition to the energetic qualities each of us exhibit, we inhabit a delicate disposition and our physical bodies often fail us. Recently, after having some unpleasant side effects from a medication, I found myself feeling my fragility more than I liked. Having no illusions as to the longevity of this body, I am well aware that I am on the backside of midlife and am heading into the next chapter of my life. You will not find me wishing to be twenty; I welcome the wisdom that only travels with age and experience. I aspire to remain functional for as long as I am afforded and do all within my power to facilitate this. It is only when I have done all that I can to improve my environment, but still find myself falling short, that I get frustrated.

In moments such as these I call upon my faith and remember that I too am fragile. I try to honor this vulnerability and treat myself with as much empathy as I would another. On days in which I am far less than perfect, which is every day, I try to be gentle with myself. I cradle my budding and precious soul as I would a beautiful piece of stained glass forged by multiple life experiences in the heat of living a full life. After all, we are all just shards of glass reflecting our light out into a world made of rocks and stones.


“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

― Hazrat Inayat Khan


It is with this revelation that I find we should all have a “Fragile, Handle with Care” sign worn daily. This fragility warrants gentle handling in all instances, one crack and we become weak and prone to breakage. I would venture to say that we all have moments in our life in which we are in danger of being shattered. Amanda Burr’s poem, A Song of Living speaks to this with, “I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run. I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.” We are all unfinished in some way, jagged pieces and all.

Simply by showing up,  we forge these broken pieces into a beautiful and loving piece of art. We will never be perfect and should never ascribe to this paradigm. We can only be the best version of ourselves each new day, learning and growing as we go.  I have known some older and much wiser people whose souls shine as brightly as the sun. They have lived into the truest version of self and their brightness is more beautiful than the greatest works of art.

Know that all glass breaks, it is only just a matter of time. When your fragile pieces become damaged, take heart in the fact that you can forge them back together with love and light. It takes much time and reflection to pick up all of the pieces and lovingly create a new version of self. Enjoy the process, look to each day as a creative expression of self, built upon newfound wisdom and the oldest of scars. Use every experience to reinvent yourself shining more brightly with each attempt. Slowly, over time, you too will shine like a thousand stars in the night sky.

The Invitation

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved


As poems go, this one strikes a chord. As one drawn by the heart and soul of another, I find societies emphasis on all else tiring. I am not deceived by this costume or covering worn in an attempt to appear familiar to many and foreign to few.  I can be in the same space with another and see they are putting on errs, hiding pain, sadness, frustration. Oriah speaks to this with “if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without, moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” It makes people so uncomfortable to be face to face with another’s pain let alone their own.  We are taught that we must tough it out, be strong, never let anyone see us in a state of weakness. My initial inclination is always fixing the problem. I try to fight this urge by using deep listening as my response instead.


I am also deeply touched by the lines, “I want to know if you can, disappoint another, to be true to yourself. If you can bear, the accusation of betrayal, and not betray your own Soul.” Coming from a very traditional home in which being highly goal oriented was valued, I found myself lost between expectations I thought my parents held and my own desires and creative urges. I was academic and could have been a doctor, lawyer or CEO. Instead I was draw to the arts, the ethereal and aesthetic qualities of movement and writing. It has taken me much reflection to be at ease with this contradiction. I know my family loves me, but my passions are not viewed as a contribution in quite the same way as more traditional work.


Finally, I see myself in the last stanza. “I want to know, if you can be alone, with yourself, and if you truly like, the company you keep, in the empty moments.” My best friend is myself. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy my own company. I like to be lost in thought, listening to music with no distraction. I am definitely not a recluse, but I do pull energy from moments of solitude. When I find that same quality in another, knowing we can be alone together sitting in the same room while deeply immersed in something that speaks to me, I am overjoyed. It is this type of person that I am drawn to; a person that knows when to provide space for quiet and when to meet me at the gates of my solitude, drawing me out into the world to play and explore once again.


The Smiling Forehead and Inner Light

The Smiling Forehead and Inner Light


As I sat reading last night, I came across a phrase that jumped off the page as they sometimes do. It was in a book titled Thinking Like the Universe by Pir Vilayat Inayat Kahn and a reference to light and a Sufi smiling forehead that caught my attention. Light being the bridge between what is known and unknown and a smiling forehead being this same “light” emanating outward. A complete manifestation of  energy reflecting out into the world with a calm and loving aura. Glorious to envision and a rarity to see and experience.


Light has always been a close friend of mine.  When I close my eyes I often see flashes of light that appear like a laser light show behind my eyelids. As a young adult I practiced shielding myself with light when I was fearful and often sent light to others in need of support. I am also one that can slip in and out of that space between my inner light and the outer world with a certain level of ease.  This never requires meditation or a quieting of the mind and strangely I can create this shift at will. This movement between two energetic spaces has confused me in the past. With no reference to what was happening I felt odd and out of step, a very disorientating feeling.


“It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die… Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation…”

-Oscar Wilde


As I have become more familiar with this shift, I have come to enjoy the moments of solitude when I slip effortlessly into this realm that has the vibration of pure and unconditional love. After reading about the Sufi smiling forehead it became clear that my practice moving forward should include emanating this light and energy outward rather than containing it internally. This will certainly be difficult to master and I suspect representative of a lifetime of work in culmination. As an introspective and private person, I am aware that I may appear closed off to the outside world at times. This is a physical manifestation of deep thinking rather than aloofness. I often struggle with this dichotomy, the way I wish to project self out to the world and the way I actually do.  


“Below what we think we are, we are something else,

we are almost anything”.



One of my greatest wishes is to be an open and loving vessel to all that I encounter, requiring me to put down my protective walls and let my “smiling forehead” be seen. With people that I am completely comfortable with I am more willing to share this inner light without reservation. It is only in times of fear, confusion or anxiety that I hold my light close as a mother would a child. During moments when I interact and dance with this light, it is pure ecstasy. My external self becomes nonexistent and for just that moment I am free, weightless and shining brightly. The heat is warming but does not burn and the air is reminiscent of a deep and fulfilling sigh.


As I have journeyed down this path of mysticism, I find myself slipping into this space more often and not wanting to leave. Outside distractions are just that, distractions. I find the trivialities of life a nuisance and want nothing more than to find a way to allow myself to dance on the boundaries of these two spaces freely and without hesitation. For this reason it has become more important to find a way to share this experience with those around me rather than risk becoming too egocentric  or lost in the practice. I am hopeful that with practice, my “smiling forehead” will enter a room before me, filling the space with light and creating an environment of pure love and joyful acceptance.


Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life


Ignorant before the heavens of my life,

I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness

of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.

As if I didn’t exist. Do I have any

share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with

their pure effect? Does my blood’s ebb and flow

change with their changes? Let me put aside

every desire, every relationship

except this one, so that my heart grows used to

its farthest spaces. Better that it live

fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than

as if protected, soothed by what is near.

by Rainer Maria Rilke


Have you ever missed a place so much that your heart aches? I have missed a place such as this my entire life. How is this possible?  I do not know. I wish I understood, but I don’t. I long for this place yet cannot even describe it, a different dimension filled with love and light. I have no idea what this other is, but I wish to be there. As Rilke writes, “Ignorant before the heavens of my life, I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness of the stars.” I see and feel this vastness everyday. It blinds me with its purity and beckons with unconditional love.


I am not well suited for this world; it feels foreign and heavy to me. The day-to-day grind of life along with meaningless small talk and the incessant desire for more. I cannot seem to prescribe to this paradigm, even though I have tried on numerous occasions. My love for my family sustains me, but does not quench a constant thirst for this other. It is a buzzing that never ceases. I can be in a room full of people and still feel alone. It could be that everyone feels this way to some degree and my ultra sensitivity amplifies it. I only know my experience and how it feels to walk in my shoes. Nothing more and nothing less.


This has nothing to do with psychology mumbo jumbo or my personality type. This is much greater than that. It is metaphysical, indefinable and boundless. It feels like the earth’s core; hot, full of energy and dangerously intense. I feel this intensity inside all the while projecting a calm and serene demeanor. It is an untruth, yet a protective one, allowing me to move through my day without becoming completely disillusioned. I am very much unseen but often end up spending most of my time “seeing” other people. The naked truth of this sight can be sobering. I have this other voice in my mind constantly taunting me, calling out to me when all I want to do is live my life. It teases me, telling me, “No, this is not you. This is not living.”


In moments such as these I read Rilke’s last line, “Better that it live fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than as if protected, soothed by what is near.” I am fully aware and live in a state of unrest knowing that this other is too vast and beautiful to comprehend. I have chosen to sit in this space rather than be soothed by what is near. Comfort will never be enough and I have learned to accept this even when it is lonely. I find solace in writing, people that understand the jagged pieces of my soul and the light. I feel it nearby at all times and for this I am grateful. In due time I will come home to this other and all will be right, but first I must live this life fully. I must learn the lessons meant for me and love as much as my tentative heart will allow. It is only in the living that I will be released back to where I am from…home.


Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is Where the Heart Is



The real voyage of discovery consists not in

seeking new landscapes but in having new


—Marcel Proust


Restlessness is like an itch that can’t be scratched.  I have felt the intensity of this irritation many times in my life.  Usually it is expressed as a deep desire to run, change scenery, job and relationships. I naturally have a gypsy spirit and thrive on the challenge of metamorphosis, strange given my intense dislike of change. Ask anyone and they will tell you I am a true homebody. I like nothing more than a long relaxing day nesting in my own space and this apparent contradiction describes me in a nutshell. I waffle between two separate ends of a spectrum and quite literally live in the gray.


Over time, I have come to understand that it is not the geographic location in which I live, or the roof over my head that creates a stabilizing force.  It is the people, my family and loved ones that fill whatever space I inhabit with loving intention. As such, I have become especially adept at creating a loving “home” wherever I may be. I have owned homes, rented, lived with family, just about every living situation possible.  In each space I have inhabited, I do not ever recall a desire for anything beyond a warm blanket, food, and my loved ones to put my arms around. My ability to create a welcoming environment in a multitude of spaces has served me well. In addition, having been married for many years to an individual that was constantly on the run, craving new places in order to resolve old conflicts, I have found peace in remaining still for the moment.


Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.


I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.


I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

—John Masefield


Being well into midlife, my heart’s longing for adventure has settled a bit as I have discovered new ways to explore life without seeking drastic change.  I have learned that I can act as a home base for others as they continue to explore the world, intrepid travelers they may be. The world may be swirling around them with so many unknowns, but the awareness that I am there as a constant can act as a reassuring and stabilizing force.


So how does one quench a constant thirst for adventure?  A restless spirit never goes away, it is just quieted by life’s demands.  My way of addressing this has been to focus this energy on topics that I am passionate about. I find satisfaction in guiding the next generation in my vocation. I feel resounding joy welcoming in my children’s extended circle of friends and I read voraciously, digesting new ideas and world views. All of these vehicles for exploration are representative of my restless spirit living and thriving out in the world.  


“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Everything I am searching for is within me and going on the journey of 1000 miles will do nothing for my growth when the ultimate adventure resides within. Maybe the challenge in life is to learn to see the opportunities for growth right under our nose, often the most difficult to recognize as they are far too familiar to draw attention.  In this instance, moving becomes a distraction, a temporary change of scenery that does not address any core issues. If I am lonely, sad or have lost my passion in life, it is a good possibility that I will still feel all these same emotions upon relocation.  You see, it is not place that creates stability, it is self. For all the same reasons I was able to create a home wherever my heart was, I would not find the answers I am seeking simply by a change in scenery.


Understand that restlessness is an energy that can be directed in many ways. Try to resist the urge to run and look for more creative opportunities in your own backyard. A restless heart is a explorative and expansive heart. Engage your restless heart in the here and now rather than on future possibilities that may or may not come to past. Feed your spirit with circumstances that engage you completely: mind, body and soul. Finally, continue to allow your heart to speak no matter the location in which you reside.





I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 – 1926

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.


Having lived a life with many chapters, I find that I still constrict parts of myself that are true in an effort to maintain the status quo, to function in this world as it is. This “folding’ of self is a self imposed confinement of all that make me a wonderful and unique person.  Just as a caterpillar endures restriction in order to experience a true metamorphosis into a butterfly, I too have found patience in this process with the knowing that I will indeed completely unfold as Rilke states in the poem above.


This unfolding will be unsteady and foreign for anyone that has lived a small existent, presenting as less than to the world.  Fully accepting our true self and infinite wholeness can be so expansive and vast it becomes frightening. Why this fear? I do not know.  We live with the desire to be seen and heard, to live large, make a difference and achieve goals.  Yet when talking about our true self, we shy away from the discourse and choose instead to talk about more concrete desires. It is just too revealing and anything that is that intimate can be intimidating and difficult to approach.


Admittedly, I have grazed this topic for many years. Even as a child I remember quite vividly knowing that I had a different perspective on what was important and how I viewed the world.  I have always danced around my inner self, my soul. She and I are old friends and over the years have become more connected, functioning in unison more often than not. We are one in the same, mirror images of each other.


This self study from an early age is best described by Rilke with “..I want to describe myself like a picture I observed for a long time, one close up”.  My picture is well worn on the corners from many years of introspection and detailed examination. It is a visual representation of my life thus far. This self-portrait shows all areas of my life in which I have clung to my faith during times of complete and utter sadness and despair. It is also representative of the many joys that have graced my life, far too many to express here. No picture is complete without the shading of both darkness and light.

This does not mean that I have a complete understanding of self, I am not sure that is even possible. I can only hope that I have had more instances of unfolding instead of constriction and that this will continue to be the case moving forward. My wish is to be expansive and open, to escape the bonds of self-doubt and to move freely through the remainder of my life with my heart and soul wide open.

Head Versus Heart

Head Versus Heart

As one that is both an emotional being and a deeply intellectual thinker, I am in a constant search for the proper balance between the two approaches to life. My natural inclination is to lean into what my hearts says and follow my intuition, but even so this leaning is always peppered with a fair amount of intellectual analysis and strategizing of end results. This push and pull can be limiting and a place I try not to inhabit for very long.  Life having the sense of humor that it does, this analysis usually happens in the middle of the night when my mind is more prone to wander. As such, I am a frequent guest of sleepless nights and find solace in the wakefulness and introspection.   


Upon reading a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke I was immediately drawn to the first sentence, specifically “O Anxious one”. Anxiety is ever present when I allow my mind to take the lead and neglect the very important role of the heart.  The problem being the mind is extremely clever and can come up with a million eventualities before an event has even taken place.  If I resist this catastrophizing and allow my heart to lead, I am at peace with the unfolding and feel a sense of calm that the mind does not make space for.  This poem is a simple and beautiful way to facilitate a gentle drawing back to a state of equilibrium, especially in moments when the mind stubbornly races along.


   I am, O Anxious One. Don’t you hear my voice

surging forth with all my earthly feelings?

They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wings

and whitely fly in circles round your face.

My soul, dressed in silence, rises up

and stands alone before you: can’t you see?

don’t you know that my prayer is growing ripe

upon your vision as upon a tree?

If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream.

But when you want to wake, I am your wish,

and I grow strong with all magnificence

and turn myself into a star’s vast silence

above the strange and distant city, Time.


Rainer Maria Rilke


In addition, the sentence that reads “My soul, dressed in silence, rises up and stands alone before you: can’t you see?” is like home to me. My soul is in a constant interplay with the exterior world, harboring a desire for others to “see” me by searching the silence of what remains unspoken within.  This is no easy task.  It is as if I am shouting from the top of a mountain to be seen, yet all the while hiding behind a cloud daring to be discovered. I suspect that when another chooses to look beyond my external self, they will begin to see shades of this declaration and be confused by my apparent waiving. The truth is that no amount of intellectual analysis alone will reveal the truths that I harbor.  Engagement of the heart requires a vulnerability that is not approached when using only the brain. This heart work requires strength of character, the ability to live in the discomfort of this space and even some grace. It is in the exposing of hidden truths that one really learns about themselves and about others, a lifelong task and one that is meaningful for all willing to dive in and take the risk.


You’ve got to get out of your head and into your heart. Right now your thoughts are in your head, and God seems to be outside you. Your prayer and all your spiritual exercises also remain exterior. As long as you are in your head, you will never master your thoughts, which continue to whirl around your head like snow in a winter’s storm or like mosquitoes in the summer heat. If you descend into your heart, you will have no more difficulty. Your mind will empty out and your thoughts will dissipate….

St Theophan the Recluse


As part of my journey, I continue to search for that balance.  Sometimes I lean into my heart as intended and other times I allow my brain to completely run the show.  Fascinating how we all choose to cope given any particular circumstance. Constantly striving for this balance, I will be silently drawn to the discovery of hidden truths; the simplicity of this affirmation is humbling. I find comfort in the solitude of this work with the intention to listen to my heart speak in the silence. For me this end is well worth the struggle.

Hadewijch II and the Blessing of the Written Word

Hadewijch II and the Blessing of the Written Word


I recently discovered the writings of Hadewijch II, a 13th century poet and mystic, and proceeded to order every book possible about this fascinating woman. History says little about her save the belief that she was from a wealthy family but chose to join the beguines, a group of evangelical women existing outside the traditional monastic system. These women took vows of poverty, chastity and service but remained in the world rather than hidden away in a monastery.


A strong believer in the synchronicity of the universe, Hadewijch could not have come to my attention at a better time. I have been feeling exceptionally isolated in regards to my ideas and life. I have a persistent thought there is so much more to life than my routine,  job, family and assembled reality. Frustrated by this nagging feeling, I have been more contemplative than usual, which is saying a lot. It is easy for me to get lost in my thoughts; it is much harder to pull myself back into the world. It would be disingenuous if I said I had never considered hiding away, off the grid and away from people.


Hadewijch wrote so expressively about her expansive knowing, the depth and wonder of feeling the infinite beyond what is seen. I read her poem and connected immediately; she understood what I have been feeling.  It spoke to me so directly that I got deeply emotional knowing that others felt as I do. I closed my eyes and experienced this energy wanting to expand beyond my skin, these walls and this world. It is this infinite and divine energy that stirs me up and can make me anxious while at the same time serenely peaceful. I implicitly understand that what I am searching for is within and not in some other place; we are all Divine beings and as much a part of the universe as the stars and the moon. No amount of geographic relocation will solve this persistent longing; it will surely follow me wherever I go. Hadewijch felt this very same thing yet managed to navigate the world without allowing this feeling to suffocate her. For that I admire her strength and courage.


All things

are too small

to hold me,

I am so vast


In the Infinite

I reach

for the Uncreated

I have

touched it,

it undoes me

wider than wide

Everything else

is too narrow

You know this well,

you who are also there

-Hadewijch II


Even so, I am confident that I can manage the restrictive feeling of this world. If you have read my work, you have heard me speak to this before. I have no doubts and have always known that I am not from this place. Some will judge me simply by reading that last statement, I am not concerned nor ever have been with their judgment. I know, and that is all that matters. The frustration comes from not being able to completely own this other while I am here. I can look inward and do all of the “mirror” work that Hadewijch speaks to, but even that will not be enough. It is a longing as if for a loved one with a constant desire to be with them. I hate this world at times; it is not anything like this beautiful other. No, I am not sad, nor am I being reticent. All I know is that I am here now for reasons that must be important for my soul.


You who want


seek the Oneness



There you

will find

the clear mirror

already waiting.

-Hadewijch II


I do not find many others that see this as I do; in fact I rarely speak aloud about these things. It most certainly sounds crazy to those that do not have the same sensibility. So what am I to do? How do I live while feeling this constant pull to what I cannot fully embrace? I suppose that answer is as always held in my heart. I must persist in this word and continue day after day waiting for the moment when I am free of this shell and can shed my false self to be…infinite. It is in works by Hadewijch that I find respite, a brief moment of serenity.  This woman, who graced the planet so many years ago, is still able to share her love and belief through her words. I will continue to read her writing every time I feel lost, isolated and alone. It will be a tremendous comfort to me as I am sure it has been to others.