Yesterday, heart brimming with a slurry of emotions from the collective grief of our times, I walked on the beach and attempted to calm my weary heart. In this moment we must all stop the rhetoric and admit we all know far less than we think we do. The answers we seek are not readily apparent and the need is great.
One image I received while walking was of layers of armor shedding as if a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. We all have armor whether we admit to it or not. These layers have been added to the suit of protection we wear, sewn over many years, hiding our vulnerabilities.
This armor is complex. Sewn into its coils are race, culture, appearance, orientation, religion, profession, wealth and many other labels. We walk around every day with a tribal mentality thinking it protects us from ourselves. Our wounds and insecurities are often the driving force behind these hardline opinions and core values.
As a student of the human condition, it fascinates me how we cling to this armor, no matter the contradictions, in a colossal effort to avoid facing our wounds. We have talking points and biases that permeate everything we do and say. Over time, it becomes more difficult to hear the quiet voice of spirit over a chorus of societal expectations and unbridled tribalism. If one ventures too far from their base, a disapproving slap on the wrist is given rather than shared dialogue in respectful tones.
Yesterday while walking, I found myself completely rejecting this norm. No longer wishing to wear false armor, I rejected the notion we all need protection from our most sensitive self. I am no longer willing to hide behind the “group” whether it be family, community or nation. I am no longer willing to blindly accept the terms of this social contract.
Great courage is required when standing up against the group and saying “NO”. Many of you may have already felt this same call and experienced difficult conversations with your tribe. Let me lend you strength in saying it is OKAY to choose a different way. By choosing to approach life outside of the group, you are not being rebellious. You are living on your own terms, without the constant need for validation from the whole.
Shedding false armor can be liberating, as if a heavy weight has been lifted from our shoulders, allowing us to soar as is meant to be. Failure is quite possible, never fear failure. Failure teaches us more about living than success. It is in the moments of despair, after falling short time and time again that resilience is forged. Like iron to the fire, we use the unrelenting heat of discomfort to forge beauty from a blank slate. It takes many years of practice to be skilled at reinvention of self. It also takes courage in facing the heat of the flames, burning our skin as we return once again to build something out of nothing.
On the eve of what is to be a powerful summer solstice, with a new moon solar eclipse occurring on the Global Axis point of the universe, commit to bravely facing this fire each day. This is an awakening and we are all feeling the call and need for change. The new is waiting, patiently. A new way of being, a new way of viewing the world.
Reinvention does not have to be scary; it can be fun! Imagine a blank page in which you are free to write your story in your own words, not the words of others. Simply begin with the first sentence and the rest of your story will unfold as it should. The universe is demanding us all to begin. Pick up a pen and change your story. Write about a world that is more equitable, loving and compassionate. A world where we care for the least of us without worrying about the bottom line. A world in which poverty and discrimination do not exist.
If you find yourself saying this sounds utopian and therefore impossible, sit in silence for a moment with this thought. Is this statement your armor speaking? Your fear? Breathe in and out and allow the feeling of discomfort and heat to wash over you. Become friends with this feeling and welcome it into your life. The time is now. Let us all welcome our most sensitive self to the table, lovingly wrapping our arms around our agitation and uncertainty. Feeling our heartbeat along with every other living thing. Breathe in, breathe out. Smile.
“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.
“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.
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.
Only in this quiet can a heart beat freely, unbound by
the constant blur of thought running errant within
In silence, the tsunami of emotions
rubbed raw by the roughness of the day
subsides, leaving a softness, colored by
the gentle brushstrokes of a rolling hillside
-Lavinia Busch 2019
With the intensity of the lunar eclipse this past weekend and the air as vessel for all that remains, I find myself wishing everything to slow down, lending more time to consider things as they are. So often, when the stakes are high, I get caught up in the swell of emotion as if a leaf in a tsunami. Returning to the work environment has sent a cascade of ever turbulent waves my way and it is taking all that I have to swim rather than sink.
Honoring my need for quiet, I spent some time at Vasquez Rocks this weekend. The air was crisp and the hillside called. Acting as if young again, I found myself scrambling up the rocks wishing nothing more than to get to the highest vantage point. Feeling the cool wetness of the rocks against my hands, I climbed and climbed. As I reached the highest point my legs would allow, I took notice of the pools of emotion laid bare on the hillside. The surrounding area looked like a beautiful painting created with gentle brushstrokes rather than the jumble of people I had left on the ground below. Perspective really is everything.
Storms will come and go. It is and has always been my personal work to weather the storms with gentleness and love. At times I fall short and suffer the consequences of reacting in an abrupt or harsh manner. In these moments, it is up to me to forgive myself and reset intentions. If history serves, there will be much more opportunity for forgiveness as I stumble along the turbulent shores of life. My salvation continues to be writing and nature.
To that end, a random flock of birds caught my attention while walking on a busy street in my neighborhood. The birds looked to be rehearsing a ballet with sharp changes of direction and shape. The whole spectacular took my breath away and for a brief time, the waves of turmoil quieted. Stopping to feel the calming heartbeat in all things has become my hope and aspiration. No matter the circumstance, beauty can be found in a morning sunrise, the whip of the wind or the quiet of a winter night. These gentle brushstrokes allow for a respite from the hardships of this flawed life and a reminder of the universal breath in the most honest of ways.
Today, I headed out on my usual Sunday morning hike with the smoke from the fires appearing over the mountain. Hopeful that I could be back home before the winds picked up, I decided to take the short path. The path rests against the river wash and brings me right back to natural where my mind is able to roam free from the tangle of city life.
This place has become my sanctuary after returning from two months on the road. The reentry into city living has been jarring at best and everything feels ill fitted and wrong as if I am wearing someone else’s clothes. As soon as my feet hit the dirt path, I immediately sense “me” once again. I would be lying if I didn’t say tears have been shed on this path as well as discoveries made. Today, I clearly heard the words “I am ready to receive” repeated over and over. A trail message from my guides, if I choose to listen.
In addition to this reentry, I have been consumed with compiling my poems for publishing. This whole experience has been revealing. Sharing deeply held thoughts and ideas makes one so uncomfortably vulnerable. I wonder if anyone will read my book. The worst of it is, I do not even like my writing at times. It represents so many scrambled emotions that require a certain head space to feel and explore. So many doubts.
After having traveled in the RV, it is clear that a cabin in the mountains is where I need to be for mind, body and spirit. As fate would have it, the city apartment we moved into is very small and far from ideal. Interestingly, the new apartment number is 111 and as soon as I walked in, I knew it was just where we both need to be right now. To make things even weirder, our parking spot is number 11 and the fire engine for this area is 111…. angels and spirit guides are with me, this I know. I just wish I understood the message.
Being 11/11 today, I happened to glance at my phone right at 11:11am and smiled knowing I am well protected as I have been my entire life. Beautiful things are on the horizon if only I am ready to receive. Today is a very forward thinking moment for me and for all of us. Yes, we all have wounds and deeply held fears and apprehensions. Now more than ever, we must set aside these fears by looking with an open mind and heart to the future, our destiny. There is no way to reach this destiny by looking back, the answers we seek are in front of us.
I am a writer.. Whether anyone reads my poems, stories or blog is not of importance. I am finally at peace with transposing my voice to paper. The very same voice that has been with me all along. The fire beneath layer after layer of expectations, good girl persona and societal roles. On this 11th day of the 11th month of 2018 (11), I am ready to receive all that is meant for me. I hope to understand what my guides are leading me toward and know the path will not be easy, great things never are. I see, feel and hear the change in the wind. It is a peaceful lullaby of angels that sweeps me up in loving arms and shows me the beauty in even the smallest of seeds. Today, this lullaby is calling all of us to receive, allow and bloom.
Everybody has a little bit of the Sun and Moon in them.
Everybody has a little bit of man, woman, and animal in them.
Darks and Lights in them.
Everyone is part of a Connected Cosmic System.
Part Earth and Sea, Wind and Fire, with some
Salt and Dust Swimming in them.
We have a Universe Within ourselves that mimics the Universe outside. None of us are just black or white, or never wrong and always right.
No one. No one exists without polarities. Everybody has good and bad forces working with them, against them, and within them.~
Fire, water, air and earth; all necessary for life as we know it. As a water sign, I tend to flow with circumstance. Neither one to be overtly confrontational or flighty, I observe, listen and only speak when I am absolutely sure my thoughts are in order. Watery landscapes are familiar territory for me and I quite like living in the flow of this element.
My last post quoted a Hopi elder asking “Where is your water?”. Water can shape a landscape by simply flowing around and sometimes through rock that obstructs. This flow may take millions of years with the end result being a breathtaking canyon. Water can be incredibly strong in the gentlest of ways. Never underestimate the power of water.
What in your existence gives you life? Is it a spiritual practice, family, friends or even a creative pursuit? You must know the answer in order to be fulfilled mind, body and spirit. Without this precious element, flow will be disturbed, and life will be bumpy, dramatic or flighty. When the same challenge is constantly rearing its ugly head and you wonder why life must be so hard, ask yourself this question.
Consider approaching the challenge from a different perspective. If you have tried to be forceful and are not getting the result you desire, flow with the situation. Observe, listen, learn and gather your new perspectives. If you are like me and do a little too much flowing, consider activating your fire element and testing out the fiery side of your personality…in measured doses of course. It will take some time to find the correct balance specific to you.
Do not shy away from darkness in this venture, it is vital to the understanding of self. In order to appreciate joy, one must walk the shores of despair and swim in the tides of grief. Then and only then can joy be given breathe as seen by the sun in the sky above. Even when drowning in self-doubt one can see this distant light, a beacon of possibility. It may seem terribly far, and you might be tired from the journey. Allow the water to carry you through your grief and sadness and towards this light. There is no shortcut, one must walk the shoreline for as long as it takes.
My water has always been writing and my faith. They nourish me in every way by providing strength when the current gets too rough. As I continue walking down the shoreline, I wonder how many more twists and turns the path will take. I see the stream and know that under the surface strong currents and undertow await. I often picture myself floating above the depths, the cool wetness lapping at my sides and the warm sun in my eyes. Water caresses every cell in my body and light lifts me higher. As I float, all the many difficulties that linger below seem so far away. I am weightless, and the journey is effortless in this moment. Find your water and flow.
“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered . . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”
“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.
“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
“The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
-attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder, Hopi Nation
Driving into Monticello, Utah after having been at Hovenweep for two days was like an assault on my senses. Hovenweep was a mystical place, devoid of obnoxious noise and city lights. The Milky Way and shooting stars painted the night sky, displaying the vastness of the universe. The only audible noise was the gentle breath of the wind against the canyon walls and the swoosh of wings from birds above. It was the closest I have come to peacefulness this entire trip.
The clouds rose every afternoon as if fluffy cotton balls shooting forth from the mesa. Monsoon rains could be seen approaching miles away and in one instance were escorted by a rainbow giving spectacular color to the tumultuous weather. An unexpected electrical storm the first night lite up the entire mesa revealing secrets in the blackness of night. With the ruins close by, any separateness I had felt from others disappeared and was replaced with an embodied lightness felt deeply within.
As my time in Hovenweep began to near completion, the outside world began to knock at my door. It began as a gentle knock with a few emails and phone calls and progressed to a young child’s temper tantrum with escalating business issues disturbing my peace. The only safe space remaining was outside. I could walk the campground next to the ruins, look at the dynamic sky and regain peacefulness if only for a few moments.
“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” – Dakota
Upon arriving in Monticello to attend to some much-needed RV housekeeping, I felt the jolt of the unwanted all too quickly. Not only was I back in Utah, the home of some unfortunate memories, but the RV park was right next to the only road through town with constant traffic. The icing on the cake was a dog barking all night. Yes, Monticello felt like the Van Nuys of Utah.
Staring at the map and considering possibilities, I was struck with a feeling of anxious awareness. I have been wandering for the past two months and feel more lost than ever. I certainly have experienced a good number of enlightened moments, but these in no way have given breathe and depth to a greater awareness. What is left is a lingering feeling of being completely lost.
I am not naive enough to believe one trip will produce revelations powerful enough to change my life in drastice ways, but I guess I was expecting something more tangible. I can’t help but think of what my life will be like when I return to Southern California. I had planned to stay in an RV park for six months or so while figuring out the where and what of my next chapter. Now the thought of living shoulder to shoulder with other travelers is not appealing. I need space to breathe, space to ponder and space to just be. National Parks have been ideal for this type of contemplation but are not a long-term solution when considering my current work life.
The question becomes, how does one extend the glow of open space and fresh air and insert this feeling into a constrictive office space with four walls. I am lost as to how I will proceed. Juxtapose this against other personal challenges, and all I see is confusion, gray where I had hoped there would be vivid colors.
Maybe it is within my wandering ideals that I have missed the mark. No matter what natural beauty is approached, I still must find the beauty and calm within myself. No amount of external prodding will assist me in this task. As the Hopi elder states, I must let go of the shore and keep my head above the water. I thought I had already let go simply by releasing my material hold on the world but have now realized letting go involves so many layers of self. I am in the middle of the river with eyes open, yet still struggling to swim.
My work now is to face this transition with an open mind and heart without giving in to a persistent inclination to withdraw further into solitude. As the Hopi elder says so well, “we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.” While I still require a fair amount of quiet, I cannot remain isolated forever. My walk in the woods has always been a temporary proposition. This too shall end. It is so important that I see this end as a beginning and find joy in all that a beginning allows.
I offer the possibility that we are all wandering home in our own way. It is a slow and tedious stroll that requires patience, resilience and compassion. I miss home so very much, this place I cannot define but know exists. This world is so harsh on the senses and so ugly at times, a difficult place for a sensitive spirit such as myself.
I suppose accepting the wandering and confusion is just a part of the package when living out a life contract. When my journey reaches an end as it will, I hope to finally understand. Then and only then will I be able to say with confidence, I was always right where I needed to be.
Mesa Verde. What words can one speak to paint a picture worthy of the actual? It seems trite to write about a place that speaks and sings as if teaming with life still today. The storms roll in and can be seen miles away in all directions. The ravens playfully squawk, taunting all those who venture this sacred ground. The sun playfully kisses the tops of the mesa and the moon shines with a silver beauty reserved for ancient souls and brilliant spectacles of light.
I could stay in a place like Mesa Verde and be content for the remainder of my life. The dynamic energy is humbling and begs to be explored, not superficially as a passing tourist might. This place is a living, breathing organism and would take a lifetime to understand if only in some small way. I am certain that given the opportunity, I would listen intently to the sky and hope to hear what it has to say.
Returning to Los Angeles fills me with a deep sense of melancholy with the knowing that Mesa Verde lives on. Maybe this is the way the ancients felt, leaving the majesty of these cliffs and the intimacy of these rocks. I understand that thumbprints remain on some walls after having been smoothed by ancient builders. What I would give to rest my finger upon this ancient graffiti and feel the spirits of long ago.
I suspect if given the opportunity, I might find a kindred soul among the ancients. Being one who has never felt of this time, the intimate relationship between people, land and spirit speaks to me as no other place has. How can one return to the bustle of city life, rush hour traffic and the disease of busyness? For the moment, I plan to soak in all this place has to offer in the whispers of the wind and the painting of the sky. I will imprint the memory of this place until I can return once again to walk with the ancients.