I believe in miracles…

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These Days Miracle

Oh where to start, where to start. I’ve got a story for you. It’s a story about anger, and grace and truth and shame and miracles, yes, miracles. Let’s go microcosm to macrocosm. Are you ready?

Last night our oldest Max was in a funk. You can almost count on it by about 7:30PM. Last night was no exception. He really needs one-on-one time with his mom and dad. Poor guy. He just doesn’t get enough of it. So last night we made a special deal with him that we would put his younger brother and sister to bed and he could stay up with us a bit to watch The Voice. While we were upstairs getting the littles ready, Max came upstairs sobbing. He broke his glasses. He dropped them on the floor and stepped on them. He was hysterical. Inconsolable. Brandon went down to try to find the pieces and put them back together. No luck. It was a mess. We found all the pieces except for one– a lens. It had vanished into thin air.

We found his old frames, but the prescription wasn’t strong enough. He said he couldn’t see. I found a pair of my old glasses. They were too strong. He couldn’t see. I found a pair of Brandon’s old glasses. They worked pretty good, but the frames were waaaay too big. They wouldn’t stay on his face. Sad boy. Tired boy. Frustrated boy. I finally got him to sleep. First thing this morning he comes into my room sobbing. Still upset about his glasses. About not being able to see at school. About not being able to find the mysterious missing lens. I felt helpless as a parent, because I couldn’t fix the problem right then and there. I wanted to end his suffering. I understood how important it was for him to be able to SEE! I didn’t know what to do, so I held him and I prayed. “Dear God, please bring Max peace. Even though we can’t fix this problem right now, even though we can’t get a new pair of glasses before school starts, please bless Max’s eyes so that he can see. Please help us find a solution God. Please bring us peace and wisdom.” And then I told him, “Don’t worry Max, God can do amazing, impossible things. Just wait.” I sent him to get dressed.

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Side note: money money money money money money money. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. MONEY. $$$. MONEY. $$$$$. MONEY. Don’t have enough, never will, bills always mounting, get ahead a little fall back behind, fear of never enough, fear of failure, fear of financial disaster, fear of poverty, fear of not having enough, not being enough. wanting. wanting more. wanting nicer. bigger. better. Want to be debt free. Want to travel. Want to make great family memories. Want to wear beautiful clothes. Eat amazing food. Want to have a beautiful home, a great yard. Want to drive a nice reliable car. Want what I want when I want it.

I called my husband and tried to talk through options: We could go to a one hour glasses place and buy him a brand new pair of glasses and get them right away ($300? $400?). We could see if the one-hour glasses place would put new lenses in his old frames ($100? $200?). We can call the optical store where we bought his glasses and order a new pair. We have the protection program on them. It will only cost $25, but it will take a week or two for the glasses to come in. Brandon doesn’t know what to do either. He says “If we could only find that lens.” I say “I”m sure it’s under the refrigerator, are you sure you looked EVERYWHERE?” He says “Yes, but you could look again.” And I say “Brandon, I am a pretty tiny woman, there is no way I can move that refrigerator by myself.” So we decide on an alternate plan. We hang up. I tell the plan to Max. He’s ok for a minute, and then he starts crying again. He doesn’t want to go to school. I tell him not to worry, we will figure something out today. I send him upstairs for socks. I take a look at the refrigerator, and I say to myself. “I might not be a big person, but I am strong.” And I wrestle that dang refrigerator out of it’s little nook. I climb up on the counter and hang my head behind the refrigerator, and what do I see there glinting in the light, surrounding by a disgusting and slightly concerning amount of dirt and dust? THE LENS. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

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I call for Max. I tell him to hold my legs so that I don’t fall on my face. I’m laying on my belly on the counter, reaching down and back behind this refrigerator. And I grab the lens. I sit up. I show him. He starts bawling. BAWLING. SHAKING. CRYING. “Thank you thank you thank mom thank you mom thank you mom thank you.” I clean the lens and go to work trying to figure out how to get it back in his glasses. I find the superglue. I get to work. And as he sits there, I tell him. “You see Max, you see? God answers prayers. God may not always answer in the way that you think, or in the exact moment that you want, but God answers prayers.” He looks at me and smiles and starts crying again, and tells me last night in bed he cried and prayed that God would help us find the lens. You can see it on his face. The shock and amazement that his prayer was answered. We revel in the miracle. We revel in the blessing. And then I say to him “You know Max, for all the times that you have thrown those glasses when you are angry, consider the blessing of this moment. Think about that the next time you feel angry and want to throw them.” And he starts crying again and he says “Mom, I lied. I did throw my glasses last night. I didn’t just step on them. I lied. I’m so sorry.” And I hug him close and my heart breaks for him, for the burden of the lie, and for the relief his heart must feel in telling the truth, for the grace in this beautiful moment, for the clarifying feeling of redemption.

I hold his sweet little face in mine, and I look him in the eyes, and I tell him “Max, I want you to remember this moment. I want you to remember how awful it feels to hold a lie in your heart, and how good it feels to tell the truth. I want you to remember this moment as you get older. The lies you might be tempted to tell me are going to get bigger. I want you to remember how good it feels to tell the truth, and I promise you that no matter what, I will always do my best to be understanding and compassionate when you come to me with the truth.” And we hug. And we realize there’s still time to make it to school on time. And we throw on boots and hats and rush out the door and pull up to the school, and as he runs to the door I roll down my window and say “Max, this is going to be the best day of your life, I just know it!” And he waves and runs into the school.

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And as I drive away from the school, and the beautiful light of morning is shining through the frost on my windows, and the sky is so blue, and I feel the wonder of grace, of answered prayers, I am hit with a realization. “What if I prayed? What if I prayed, like I did with Max, about my worries? About the $15,000 in medical bills I have no idea how we are going to ever pay off? About the beautiful new bed we just bought (after our dog ruined our old one)? And all the expensive things that need to be fixed?” After I get home I call Brandon. He wants to hear the whole story. I tell it to him, and I tell him to remember, no matter what is happening in your day, when your heart feels heavy like Max’s, when you are in the middle of a problem that you don’t know how to solve, when you feel trapped, stuck, frustrated, PRAY. pray. It works. This morning is proof. Miracles happen. They do. And we hang up. And I’m making myself tea. And I’m looking out the window in my kitchen and it hits me. I have a beautiful, healthy daughter. (We didn’t have maternity coverage when I got pregnant, so we’ve got a pretty big loan from the hospital on her for a few years until she’s paid for!) I wouldn’t trade my beautiful, healthy daughter for ANYTHING. IN. THE. WORLD. She has completed my life, and filled my heart in a way that only she can. She has brought healing to my life that only she could. I don’t care how long it takes, how many yoga classes I might have to teach, to pay for the blessing of her birth. And her arm. Her beautiful healed arm. She broke it last summer. And we had amazing medical care from kind, caring people. Her arm healed perfectly. I wouldn’t trade her beautifully perfectly healed arm for anything in the world. (sigh) Those medical bills don’t worry me so much all of the sudden. And I feel the grace, and the answer to my prayer. Dear God, how do we do this? How do we stay above water? How do we keep it all together? Look at your burdens, and see the blessings. That is a miracle in and of itself.

My son saw the power of prayer this morning. He witnessed it. I saw it in his eyes. I saw his heart open and radiant. And that moment changed and healed me. Miracles happen, and one miracle tends to create a chain reaction. I hope that this story creates a miracle in your day, in your life. No matter who or what or how you believe. That’s your journey. But I want you to know that I believe in the mystery, in the unexplainable, in the power of something greater. My mantra lately has been “All is coming. All is coming. All is coming. Let it come. Let it come. Let it come.” It’s a tiring life thinking we have to make it all, do it all, by the mere force of our human will. There are easier ways. Letting go, having faith, is hard at first. Trusting. Opening our hands so that we are not gripping, so that our palms are outstretched, waiting for the miracle. May your find a miracle today.

And don’t forget to pray. Check out this song by the amazing Sara Groves if you want a little inspiration. It was playing in the background as I wrote this post:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFp6kfEIFS4

Om. Amen. Hallelujah.

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A good clean look…

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I am currently doing an Abundance Sadhana (practice) with a gifted colleague of mine, Meghan Neeley — The Manifestress. She offered this FREE (gasp!) practice as a gift to her yoga teacher friends because she has been experiencing so many blessings in her life. When I saw the Facebook invitation, I couldn’t believe it — what? Free? YES!

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It’s funny, because in one of the live calls that I participated in, Meghan talked about the *winks* that the universe gives you when you are making good choices, and she asked us to share any *winks* that we had experienced. The first *wink* I experienced was the day I signed up for the Sadhana. My husband and I were in our car driving. He tends to spend a lot of time making business phone calls while he’s driving, regardless of whether I am in the car with him or not. It annoys me. I guess I’m a little self-centered. I don’t get as much of his attention as I want, so when we’re in a car together I like to catch up! Well, I’m trying to practice generosity, so as he was fretting over a phone call he hadn’t yet made, I asked how long it would take, he said “30 minutes,” and I said “go for it, I’m sure I can find something interesting to read on Facebook for 30 minutes.” I went to Facebook on my phone and boom, first thing I saw was the invitation to join this Abundance Sadhana with Meghan the Manifestress. So, I’ll count that as my first *wink.* You give a little, you get a little… at least sometimes. Right?

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So, I’ve been in this Abundance Sadhana now for almost 3 weeks. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been on a “spending cleanse.” That’s right, no spending money on anything except essentials. For. Two. Weeks. I never realized how much time I waste virtually window shopping until I went on this cleanse. And I’m not even talking about spending money, I’m talking about wasting my time looking at stuff I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna buy. You know, J.Crew is having another 40% off clearance sale — I should know what they are selling just in case there is something so great I should buy it even if I don’t know what it is yet. So I cut out virtual shopping too. Cause my day isn’t going to get 25% better by buying stuff… 

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Then I started to notice how much I “shop” on Facebook, for IDEAS, for STORIES THAT MAKE ME FEEL GOOD, for SOMETHING TO INSPIRE, for SOMETHING TO MAKE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD. Wow. Here I thought I was so crunched for time in my life — no time for me– no time to practice yoga, or read a book, or do something creative. Except, when I started keeping track of what I WAS doing for “ME” (including practicing yoga, meditating, reading a book, doing something creative AND things like Facebook and virtual window shopping), I discovered I’ve got at least 30 minutes a day — sometimes more like 2 hours that I could be doing things to nurture myself — my body, my mind, my heart, my soul. Try this. For one week. Keep a log in your phone — the “notes” app comes in handy — of everything that you do that is “for you.” And, I’m sorry, but it’s true, zoning out on Facebook IS how you’re spending your “you time.” Then, once you get a better picture of where you have time, use it for what nourishes your soul MOST. You can’t blame that on anyone else. How you spend your time is UP TO YOU! And even though every day you can find something on Facebook that makes you feel “a little bit better,” when are you gonna get off your phone or your computer and start LIVING!?!?!

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WARNING: What happens when you do any sort of self-observation or cleansing practice? The YUCK comes up. It does, and it will. What is the YUCK? It’s a big ol’ flashlight shining on the places inside yourself that you like the least. I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t like this part. I don’t like the part where I have to face WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT MYSELF. It is UNCOMFORTABLE. How did this yuck come up for me? Well, I felt like a loser. I didn’t like realizing how much I look outside myself to find things that make me feel good. What is that about? And, WHAT REALLY MAKES ME FEEL GOOD? And how can I get more of THAT?

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See, when you start to notice the habits of how you fill time and space, and then you take a break from those habits, there’s a whole lot of space. And right away, the space is weird and scary, like when you take a cast off a bone break and your limb is all skinny and weak and pale. And then other things get clearer too — other unsavory habits and regressive tendencies. I have discovered through this process, that though I consider myself an incredibly loving person, I have unconscious beliefs around generosity and compassion that undermine my desire to be deeply connected to other human beings.

For example:

If I give too much compassion or forgiveness, I’ll be taken advantage of.

If I am too generous with my time, affection, energy, or resources, I will run out.

The realizations of these beliefs have become clear to me in a few poignant ways in my life:

1. I am not nearly as forgiving as I think I am. I am holding on to traumas and wounds as far back as my childhood. I carry them around like badges of honor awarded after a war. The struggle with truly forgiving leads to distrust. When I hold on to all the ways that I have been hurt, I can’t believe that the ones I love won’t hurt me (again). So I operate from the assumption that they will, and this puts me in a defensive mode that makes trusting and receiving love and enjoying life and being in a flow really difficult.

2. I am a jealous person. Wow, am  I ever. I crave attention and affirmation. I not only want to be loved, but I want to be loved BEST. I want to be the one who everyone loves the MOST. So I am subconsciously competing with all kinds of things and people all the time that the people I love also love. Because the unconscious belief is that there isn’t enough love to go around, and if I don’t get to the top of the pile,  I won’t get enough of it.

3. I won’t get enough of it… I don’t HAVE enough of it. I don’t have the right things. I don’t have the BEST things. If I had enough of the RIGHT things, and the BEST things,  life would be easier, and I would be HAPPIER. If I had more pairs of cooler yoga pants people would think I was an even better yoga teacher. Especially if I also had jewelry and things to match. And why are there so many beautiful shoes out there for so many different kinds of special moments in life? I WANT THEM ALL. And if I had them, I’d be happier. Along with every single essential oil that could help heal every one of my mental, physical and emotional ailments. And books. Lots of books. Inspiring self-help books to get me “there” faster. I’ll never have enough. I don’t have enough now, and I never will. Hmmmm. That belief sure makes feeling gratitude difficult, if not IMPOSSIBLE!

4. I’m not ENOUGH. Cause if I WAS, I wouldn’t need all this stuff. I wouldn’t be a jealous person. I would know how loved I am. I would be trusting, and generous and forgiving. But no, not me, I am just one BIG HOT MESS OF A HUMAN. Broken. Bruised. Not together. Not even close to “good.” Not anywhere near “enough.” It’s funny (not ha-ha funny, but ironic funny) how we use our own self-defeating beliefs to prove other self-defeating beliefs, isn’t it?

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These are only a few of the deeper challenges I began to face during this cleansing period. And to face them made me feel disgusting and grossed out with myself. And I just felt negative feelings, negative energy, negative thoughts.

So I googled “mantra for negative energy.” I know, maybe this isn’t always the best way to find spiritual  guidance, but I must have a guardian angel in my google browser, because I found the most incredible mantra:

OM AH RAH PA TSA NA DHI DHI DHI

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It’s called the Majushri Mantra. You can read more about it here and here. But basically, it is used to “cut through obfuscations (obscurations — something opaque, difficult to perceive/understand) and false mental constructs. Um yep, sign me up! That’s what I need! So funny enough, I then went on Spotify (my favorite source for all the music in the land), and typed in Om Ah Rah Pa Tsa Na and guess what? This mantra was on an album that I ALREADY OWNED! *wink* said the universe!

So this mantra has been helping me deal with the yuck of the purification process, and it’s working. I”m starting to feel lighter, cleaner, clearer, AND more accepting and compassionate of my “shadows.” When I shared my struggle with my self-disgust (for lack of a better word), Meghan had asked me “How would you treat your shadows if they were your children? How would you give them your acceptance and gentleness?” So, that’s what I’m trying to do. And the mantra helps. If you’re looking for a version of it you can chant along to, check out Deva Premal’s version with the Gyoto Monks of Tibet. The album is called “Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent Times.”

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So here’s what I’m curious about…. What changes in your life do YOU long for? What do YOU really WANT? What is stopping you? What beliefs or patterns or habits are preventing you from living the life you dream of, and which of those patterns are ready for change? I can tell you, that though sometimes change takes time, and is difficult, and requires suffering and perseverance, there are also times that change can happen in ONE MOMENT. What are the “truths” that you are unconsciously living that don’t serve your highest purpose? Take a GOOD CLEAN LOOK at them, and experiment with ways to face them, or de-bunk them. And if you need help, open up to the universe and ask. There is so much wisdom out there — books, and meditations, and music and art and REALLY AMAZING PEOPLE (i.e. Meghan) who can help you! But you have to be willing to be honest and compassionate. You have to be willing to change. And you have to be willing to sacrifice the little devious pleasures (Facebook, virtual shopping. etc.) to make room for true fulfillment. And if there’s anything I can do to help you or support you, please let me know!

May we all be blessed on our journey.

Om. Amen. Hallelujah!

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The Heart Opens

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Hello beautiful world! Happy 2015!

One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing, and thus, more time blogging… I’ve discovered what a balm writing is for anxiety and over-thinking and just processing life! And I love the opportunity to create a community, and a context for processing life — together!

As part of my 500 hour yoga certification process (through Samudra Global School of Living Yoga), I had to do an embodiment project. It is exactly the same process that I did for my 200 hours; you take “before” pictures, at the beginning of your training, and “end” pictures and the completion, and look with a compassionate and energetic eye at the shifts and evolution. So the pictures above show my “end” photo for my 200 hour certification in 2008, as my “beginning” for my 300 hour training (to bring me to 500), and the second picture was just taken on Friday as my “end” photo.

And all I really want to share today, is what I realized when I saw these photos side-by-side: the heart opens. It grows. It evolves. It gets softer. And more free. It doesn’t happen by trying to crank it open day after day.  It doesn’t necessarily happen by “deciding” to open it. But it does open. It doesn’t get more open only when life is easy — trust me, the past 2 years of my life have been crazy!! (had a THIRD baby, got a promotion managing an awesome yoga team, my husband quit his job and started a new business, fought a lawsuit…) So it wasn’t vacation-city around here. But it happened none-the-less, and perhaps BECAUSE of the challenges. Because I sought relief, because my shadows can fears came right up to greet me, because I felt lost and at times alone, and needed something greater than me to guide me, my heart opened. Because the heart is the wisdom master. The heart is our true center, our true “mind.”

What processes did I use to discover this? I read inspiring books — check out Pema Chodron — ALL her books, and “talks” are great. I practiced yoga — check out Shiva Rea‘s DVDs — they’re a great way to get embodied. I invested in some help from wisdom/love gurus. I started talking about my struggles and my process, and discovered that I was truly not alone, that many of my friends and acquaintances were facing similar challenges. I went through the regimen. I practiced meditation — check out Jill Satterfield’s 2 guided meditation albums. I committed to Ayurvedic self-care practices, I did a 365 day gratitude practice. I continued to explore my spiritual life and my faith. I got stronger, more grounded, more FORGIVING — of myself and others, more compassionate.

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The fact is, there is nothing that I did that anyone on this planet couldn’t also do, and I hope in the next year to share more of what I’ve learned, and what I’ve continued to learn, to help those who wish to open their hearts too, so if that’s you, welcome. I am making a commitment to you. Is your heart ready?

So here’s your inspiration for the day. It comes from a Marianne Williamson book I just started reading called “A year in Miracles.

“It is not the love given to me by others, but only the love that I myself provide, that will save me today from suffering.  I call to mind any person from whom I have been withholding love or forgiveness, or situation from which I have been withholding faith in miracles, and surrender said thoughts for healing.”

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Bless you on your path, and bless your beautiful heart.

Om!  Amen!  Hallelujah!

When the going gets tough…

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Hey Pals. I know it has been what, like almost a year since I’ve blogged? To say I’ve been busy, is the understatement of the century! It was around this exact time last year, that life as I knew it, was changing in more ways than I had planned for or expected. Yes, I was pregnant, with a baby girl a few months away… I KNEW that! Brandon and I were making plans for our future, as well as our present, when, well, things changed that changed our idea of what the future looked like…

 

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This quote really does say it best. The past year has been a whole lot of chaos. A huge promotion that promised freedom from financial stress. An unexpected demotion that put us in a pickle. A big sour hairy pickle. Not the kind you want on a stick at the fair, or cut up on top of your burger. A scramble to survive. The birth of a beautiful baby girl. A letter of resignation. A lawsuit. Fear. Lawyers. Stress. Conflict. The saga continues…

 

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“Fight! they must fall, and thou must live, victor upon this plain!”

There have been many times over this last year that I have referred to the Bhagavad Gita. It is an inspiring story of war — not war as we know it in simple human terms — but the war of the soul, the war of the spirit, the war for justice, the war of destiny. The basic premise of the book is that the warrior Arjuna, is conflicted, moments before he is to wage a war against members of his own family. He is on the side of justice; his friends, and even some of his family members have been greedy, and ignorant. But he does not want to fight. He doesn’t want to be responsible for the bloodshed, for the outcome. Krishna, who is his spiritual teacher (and a great warrior), can’t help Arjuna win the battle, but agrees to drive his chariot, and as he drives the chariot, he gives Arjuna advice and inspiration that leads him through this epic battle. And basically it comes down to this. It is Arjuna’s destiny to fight this battle. If he does not fight the battle, the very fabric of the future will be affected. The destinies of all future generations rest in his hands, in his willingness to accept his duty, to perform his dharma, or purpose, and to let go of attachment to the outcome, and instead focus on how his action is a service to the Divine.

“When doubts haunt me and disappointments stare me in the face and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

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One of the most difficult things about difficult moments in life, is that we do not get to decide, and we do not know, how long they will last. Because of that, we often feel like giving up before the battle is done, before the wisdom of the suffering has been revealed. What we need, at moments like these, is endurance, and the ability to perform our duty and our actions tirelessly, without letting our emotions and thoughts distract us, exhaust us, or deter us. NO ONE is immune from the inevitable battles of life. As my beloved continues to face his battle, to fight it, I have to remind him, that he is here in this moment, because of his destiny, and also his choice. And I stand with him, facing my own fears and challenges, because of my destiny, and my choice. I can’t say enough about how the practice of yoga continues to hold me and guide me and inspire me and nourish me on this journey called life.

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You see my friends, giving up isn’t a choice, for any of us really. I know you. I know you to be noble, and well-intentioned, with a good heart, with a fierce heart. I know some of the battles you are fighting. But we have to remember that we are NOT the victims of our circumstances. We are in this moment because our destiny has brought us here to teach us something, AND because of our choices. We have a choice in every moment. When you struggle in your marriage, or even in divorce, remember that at some point you chose that partner. When your life feels overrun with the chaos of being a parent, remember that you chose that child, or those children. When you struggle in your job, in staying or in leaving it, remember that is your choice. When the moment rises where you initiate change, the change is your choice. The wisdom of the heart that guides you is your destiny. But stay strong. Stay focused. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t indulge in the lies of fear, or entitlement, revenge or apathy. Set your sets on the highest high, have trust that no matter the struggle, you are not alone, you are held in the arms of something so much greater than your little smart mind, your little fearful mind, could possibly fathom.

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I believe in you. I believe in the struggle. I believe it is for a reason. Even in this last year, in the chaos of it, I have reaped bountiful blessings. I have never felt closer to my husband. I am learning to let go of the fear of financial uncertainty and trust that all that I need will be provided. I am learning to find thankfulness for the mess of motherhood, to let go of perfection for the beauty of reality. I am seeing abundance in an entirely new way. I am feeling less entitled, less attracted to soothing my fears with things. I am learning to ASK for help, to ACCEPT help, to admit I don’t have it all together and yes please I’d love your help and thank you so much and no I know I am not now foreverly indebted to you for your act of kindness. I owe no one anything, except my presence. The more I relax and trust and have faith, and be a servant of my life, the more presence I have to give. So thank you, life, for giving me this battle, for giving my husband this battle to fight, for all it is teaching us, for the ways it is transforming us, and strengthening us, and inspiring us. And for all of you, bless you in your struggles. May you find what you need to keep going, to fight the good fight, to keep your head up, to keep your heart open. And if you need some inspiration, read the Bhagavad Gita. Ekanth Easwaran’s translation is om-azing. Om. Amen. Hallelujah!

This song popped into my head as I wrote this today… Maybe it will make you smile!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBCWLhlJV0Y

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A tribe of women

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There was a time hundreds of years ago when, and likely still is, in remote villages in Africa and Asia, where the women of a tribe or community know exactly how to take care of each other. I would like to imagine that in this place, it is one of their most important daily activities; taking care of each other and the children, and the elderly, and of course, the men.

There have been moments in my life, and many since this pregnancy, when I have longed for this kind of tribal bond with a group of wise women– women who know what herbs to make tea from for morning sickness, what flowers and oils to mix to rub into an exhausted sore body, what songs to sing to soothe a troubled mind, or to help transport a sister to the spiritual space beyond the mind.

I have described the experience of the previous births of my children to a few friends in terms of this kind of reality; I literally heard the beat of drums, the whispers of encouragement from my female ancestors, felt the flames of the fire against my skin, knew how to follow the ashes and sparks into the dark sky as the intensity of laboring deepened.

I am now in the final days or possibly (but hopefully not) weeks before my third child, my first daughter,  is going to be born. I am feeling the urge to retreat inward– if there was a tent, or cave, that I could enter, that is where I would be. I imagine a small group of women there with me, who don’t need to speak, or do anything out of habit or boredom or restlessness, and yet, know exactly what to pull from the silence at any given moment. They know what foods to give me, what fabrics and colors and threads to weave as we sit together. We are not waiting, though we are preparing, but not with any sense of spinning, or panic. No one knows exactly what will happen when, but each woman’s wisdom sees certain elements of what I have left to learn, what will happen next and how.

In this space, we would not worry about whether or not it was enough to be a mother, or whether we were not good mothers for also enjoying our work outside of the home. We would not feel insecure of the strengths we lack, but recognize in each other, nor would we prey upon each other’s weaknesses because of our own jealousies. There would be space for all of us to love each other without fear that some of us might be loved more than others. Because we would know, especially as women, that there is no container large enough to hold the love we all are given; we only learn as best as we can, to follow the trickle of a stream to the vastness of the ocean.

We all carry our secrets: shame, fear, anger and more. And yet, in this space, there is no reason to blame ourselves for what we didn’t know then; we’ve always done our best to survive; we’ve risen from many fires, and will inevitably be consumed again and again by the flames of life’s struggles; by those karmic lessons waiting to be learned. We can look in each other’s eyes and see the pain of truth, the lies of fear, and the beauty of hope and faith. We can laugh together, and hold each other, and relish in the covenant of trust that is the foundation of sisterhood.

I recently had the opportunity to gather with a small group of female friends to celebrate the impending arrival of my daughter. They knew what foods and drinks to bring, the space to create, the gifts to give. We sat around the table, painting and sewing, dreaming and laughing, fussing and oohing over our small creations. We spoke of our lives, we laughed and agreed as we compared our men, we shook our heads, we smiled and breathed.

After everyone had left, I realized, I had found my dream, my cave, my space. These friends came here to my home and blessed it with their wisdom and love and grace. As I sit now in my home, and continue to prepare for the arrival of my little goddess, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, that this group of women came together, and knew exactly what to do– they gave me exactly what I needed– and my heart is so full.

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There is one who is so beautiful, and yet thinks it is not enough to inspire the world with her simple beauty, and so lets her mind become more than it needs to be; there is another who has known so much suffering and has risen to become endlessly loving, generous, and gentle; one whose heart is so vast and tender, who has tried to prove herself as stronger and better than she never needed to be; another who faces the world as flint, creator of spark, who perhaps forgets to receive the fire of love within her very being; the wise quiet one, who mostly listens, and when speaks, brings laughter and nods of the deepest truths; and the one who spins creativity tirelessly, effortlessly, loyally, beautifully.

Which one are you, if not all of these, my friend? And how could I not be so humbled to know you?

Thank you, for being exactly who you are. Soul sister. Inspirer. Nurturer. Anchor. Friend.

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A tongue dipped in ink: the muse alights!

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Yeah it’s been a while, I know. But I’m not going to give you a single excuse or apology. I’ve been busy, out there in the trenches, living the good life as best as I can.

But every once in a while, the writing muse descends upon me in a way too serendipitous and obvious to ignore. Last night the window opened and in she came, and in the place of my usually neurotic thoughts that circle before going to bed, there was a poem. And when I woke up this morning, there was another. And when these things happen, they should, in my opinion, be shared rather than hoarded or squandered. So here is a little gift from the universe to me to you…

 

THE EAGLE

I always imagined the eagle as a sharp pointed thing

of beak and talon, a ruthless hunter with eyes that show

not softness or remorse, only the golden thrill of attack.

 

In zoo’s cages where we get the closest peek,

the impotence of capture steals his flame; a broken

wing, a dulling beak, and no sign of freedom’s wing.

 

In the wild, not meant to be seen, except by chance’s

lucky strike, the eagle soars and dips and dives

to his own whims, devours the fish, does as he likes.

 

In spacious nest he guards his most beloved, watches

sky and earth for danger nearing, his fuzzy children

thrive under his gaze, their futures bright as golden eye.

 

And yet this day I see him in the sky, neither hunting

or with purpose or direction. He dives up high then spreads

his wings and spirals low as if amusement were his guide.

 

I watch in awe as I wonder, why this majestic beast

would choose to glide instead of pump against the tide

of wind, away from concrete highway, back towards sky.

 

And then he opens wings and holds his place, beak

firmly pointed towards the wind; going nowhere, held

in space, and then in pause I take a deep breath in.

 

The message he conveys is no mistake, the world

widens as I take it in, for freedom comes not only

from the fight, but also from surrender, giving in.

 

IN WHAT WAYS, MY FRIENDS, DO YOUR IDEAS ABOUT FREEDOM AND FIERCENESS, ACTION AND SURRENDER, MOVE YOU TOWARDS YOUR WILDEST, HAPPIEST, FREE-EST, MOST FULFILLING LIFE, AND IN WHAT WAYS DO THESE HABITS OF THOUGHT, CONDITIONINGS, CULTURAL IDEAS HOLD YOU BACK?

HERE’S TO FREEDOM!

OM. AMEN. HALLELUJAH!

 

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Make you feel my love

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I’m on day 6 of Bhakti sadhana, and part of the process can involve choosing a sacred text of some kind to read. I am reading “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. Boy do I love it! Here’s a few of the great quotes so far:

“Bricks and mortar sing us no audible tune; the heart opens only to the human chant of being.” 

A poem in the book, by Mirabai: 

“If by bathing daily God could be realized,

Sooner would I be a whale in the deep;

If by eating roots and fruits He could be known

Gladly would I choose the form of a goat;

If the counting of rosaries uncovered him

I would say my prayers on mammoth beads;

If bowing before stone images unveiled Him

A flinty mountain I would humbly worship;

If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed

Many calves and children would know Him;

If abandoning one’s wife could summon God

Would not thousands be eunuchs?

Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One

The only indispensable is Love.

…And I’m thinking about love. No, I’m feeling love. Thinking and feeling are two completely different things, and frankly I’m tired of living in my head. The only indispensable is LOVE. Thinking about om, and how in the mantra om, not only do we reach out to the divine, but the divine answers back, in the same moment. See there is no separation, there is no this and that, no give and take. Love is flowing in all directions in all moments. Listen and you will hear it. Stop thinking and you will feel it. What is the chant of YOUR being? Where, and how are you feeling love RIGHT NOW? Listen. It’s calling for you!

Om. Amen. Hallelujah!

check it in musical serenade, Adele-style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZXjqwOxH4g&feature=related

When the rain
Is blowing in your face
And the whole world
Is on your case
I could offer you
A warm embrace
To make you feel my loveWhen the evening shadows
And the stars appear
And there is no – one there
To dry your tears
I could hold you
For a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you
Haven’t made

Your mind up yet
But I would never
Do you wrong
I’ve known it
From the moment
That we met
No doubt in my mind
Where you belong

I’d go hungry
I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawling
Down the avenue
Know there’s nothing

That I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my loveThe storms are raging
On the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change
Are blowing wild and free
You ain’t seen nothing
Like me yet

I could make you happy
Make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends
Of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love, To make you feel my love

(thanks Bob Dylan…)