Going Places

Man

The page – or in this case, the blinking cursor – is calling me back. I’m not sure what exactly it’s asking for yet, but I’m open and making myself available.

Mostly it seems to be inquiring about travel.

In the middle of reading another inspiring non-fiction book on self-mastery, the question was posed … really the author demanded, that I finish reading the current sentence then go sit with myself somewhere and write down my dreams. All the crazy, seemingly unattainable ones, the ones that make me shudder with excitement, fear or anxiety, the simple ones – like having a place for everything in my house, I mean super simple – and any rogue thought that happens to pop into my head that might be a thread that leads somewhere magical.

On it. Aside from discussing consciousness with Christians, yogis and atheists alike, dreaming is my favorite!

Travel writing.

That’s what the Universe handed me on a slightly smudgy, obviously dented, silver platter. Gifts from the Universe often have to make a few trips around the sun before I’m ready to receive them. This one may frisbee back out yet before it sits beside me each day.

And I had to really study those two words because I don’t think they mean what they seem to say. I believe, in my case, they are meant as two separate commands that intersect.

Here’s how I see it:

Travel is my blood type, a plane ticket, a new passport stamp? Those are transfusions. When I don’t get to go places (by which I mean, when I believe there is something more important than wandering like laundry or running my businesses) I get sick. It’s not a normal sick, I’m rarely that. I get bitchy and itchy. I grumble a lot like an old man who wishes those idiot boxes were never invented and what the hell is a sofrita anyway, what’s wrong with meat and potatoes? That guy. The only antidote is travel. I’ve tried other medicines; wine, chocolate, yoga, they only take me so far.

Writing too has been my constant companion my entire life. Mountains of journals sit heaving in my closet, eyes rolling when they find out they’re not so special. Each one has the same list of how I want to structure my day and all that I would like to accomplish. Day after day. They get bored, my journals. I hear them yawn, audibly breathe the sigh of disappointment when I start rolling out a new plan. But when I start to describe the view from my hotel room that includes a black-faced monkey and the Ganges they start to perk up. They’re totally fine with packing lists for European treks and they especially like when I confess how a place has revealed something about me to me.

And there are blogs, once organized, now somewhat willy nilly, and mostly lately covered in cobwebs and neglect. It helps me, the writing. The publishing is scary, but it’s part of the process too.

Travel. Writing. Travel writing. These will likely never be the kind of stories picked up by Afar or Conde Nast Traveler. I’m not likely to tell you where to eat or what not to miss or what time to be at the Vatican, and which gate so you can bypass the line. But I will tell you how standing on the banks of the Ganges made me cry tears of connection to everything and while sipping red wine at a vineyard overlooking the Mediterranean in Lucca, Italy on the most perfect day ever, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for this life I couldn’t speak.

I will share the humility I have gained by talking to a man who had no home and no shoes but smiled nonetheless and even gave the dog sharing his tarp the piece of bread I offered him. How he had enough. He was happy. He gave up everything and now whatever he needs comes to him. I will tell you that that is true abundance and I may even give you a hint of yoga philosophy lesson on the tenet of Aparigraha or non-attachment. Mostly because it’s a reminder and lesson to me.

The more I tell you, the more I learn about me.

Travel. Writing. They are symbiotic in my world. They need each other. One does not describe the other. When I look at them I can see them each on the bulbous sides of an infinity symbol.  Traveling opens me up and reveals the dark corners that need to be energetically vacuumed out, as well as the covered bits of light yearning to shine and share.

Traveling is manna to me. Writing is how I process and share my experiences.

So this is my big, anxious, hairy, exciting dream. I mean, a well-organized house is also still on the list, but it just doesn’t curl my toes like going places.

What’s your dream?

Mattering

img_4293

I’ve been absent for about 10 days. I have a really good reason: someone close to me passed away. It was unexpected and sad, but ultimately beautiful and freeing. For her.

I, on the other hand, have been gifted the bulk of her possessions. And it’s a lot. She had a two bedroom apartment stuffed with books, creative project pieces and parts, clothes and the normal belongs of a life richly lived.

The Universe can be douchily ironic. Just as I am in the process of purging and letting go I am presented with a whole house of stuff to manage.

I am not being intentionally insensitive, it is just that I am on the business end of handling this parting. Grief comes in waves mixed with laughter and sweet memories. For now, though, the sorting of that life is the task at hand.

It’s always a process.

In sorting through the markers of her life I am both compelled to keep special tokens and simultaneously light a match and walk away.

There will be no fires.

At first glance the items surrounding me point to a life of abundance. But on closer inspection I find evidence of something more akin to lack and fear. Where one stick of deodorant would suffice I find 4. All the same. Five tall bookcases line the walls of the craft studio. They are packed with scraps of fabric, beads, books on creative endeavors, sewing materials, patterns, paper, glue. There are two computers, a sewing machine and a closet stuffed with mystery. A million tiny notes are scattered about. Half as many projects begun then abandoned.

Elsewhere in the home 3 large bookcases are full of books, sometimes two rows deep, a few photos and other mementos dot the shelves. Stacks of books rest next to the spots most frequented, magazines teeter on tables, the freezer is stuffed with food, the refrigerator the same. The walls are covered in artwork and photos with still more framed pieces leaning against walls waiting for a vacancy. And appliances requested sit in boxes unused.

It is a very accurate representation of its occupant: homey, messy in that creative way and lived in. It’s welcoming and feels safe.

But it’s a lesson. In stuff, in love, in fear, in recognizing what is necessary. In recognizing what is true.

I will continue to sort through belongings, donating many to the faceless masses, gifting some to friends of the deceased and keeping a touchstone or two.

There are boxes full of love – letters, cards, photos of trips and good times – that were perhaps felt and then forgotten. Mementos of troubleless times. (I will study these.) But they were not powerful enough to convince the beholder of her worth. Perhaps for a moment, but long term this sense of ‘not-good-enoughness’ would take a seat beside her.

Receiving things, temporarily created peace. Until they didn’t and more things would be desired, procured. She wasn’t a hoarder, but may have been heading in that direction.

The biggest gift I am getting from this experience will not take up any space in my home. It is the recognition of my own self-worth, my place in the universe. That I matter.

She mattered too, so much more than she could accept and believe. She heard the words over and over again from so many people how she had made a life-changing difference to them, how she had given them peace when they thought none existed, how she awakened in them a creative spirit they didn’t know they had. But she didn’t receive those words, she didn’t integrate them. She wore them for a short time, shared them with those close to her as external evidence of her worth, then shed them like dead skin.

In sorting and purging her things I am infected with a sense of melancholy. In purging my own things and letting go I am left bare, all raw nerves and sensitive teeth. It’s necessary. At times I am elated and giddy. It’s a cleansing with far deeper implications than a tidy home. It’s a liberation. And it’s a process.

 

 

21 Day Body Love Challenge

Ganges IMG_1248

I love my body. Everything about it. When was the last time you said, thought or heard another WOMAN say that about themselves? To be fair, self-loathing isn’t exclusively a female sport, but we certainly hold all the ribbons.

In recent months I have seen many responses to the model thin body. There are documentaries coming out and seeking funding that celebrate the female form, whatever shape that form has taken. There are rebuttals to perfection in blogs, rants on Twitter and even infomercials on the beauty of “regular” women.

The director/producer of the documentary on women’s bodies, seeking funding, went out on the streets and queried over 100 women in all shapes and sizes and when asked how they would describe their bodies the most common response was, “disgusting.”

This makes me very sad.

My body is flawed, much of it my own doing or not doing. I have scars, stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles and sagging in new places every day. I have hated various parts of my body but that didn’t make things any easier. I have loved parts of my body to firmness and thinness, but that was fleeting when my love of Christmas cookies trumped my affection for thin thighs.

In part I think my argument with my body is not the shape so much as the knowledge that I am not doing all I could to improve my shape. I eat chocolate, drink wine and don’t move nearly as much as I plan. But still I have to reconcile myself with this physical form that houses the me that thinks, talks and sees things uniquely. So much emphasis is placed on being different, why has none of that been applied to the female form?

Now I find myself in a place of the compassionate observer, mostly.  There is still much I’d like to change about this meat suit gifted to me, but maybe I’m not supposed to. Perhaps this body, just like this, is here to teach me and others something. What if this body is the vehicle that will take me to the super-consciousness highway and where along the way I can pick up a few hitchhikers?

If I am truly God in disguise, then perhaps it is my mission to love the wrapping, love the cover of the book so that it can be opened and what’s inside can be read.

You are God in disguise or Divine consciousness in disguise or the Universe made manifest, or a dog in human clothing. I don’t care how you choose to look at it, what words you use, what belief system you have, you must just know that you are perfect and a reflection of divinity.

For the next 21 days I am going to explore this gift that has allowed me to travel, make a baby, snuggle my kitties and puppies, do yoga, dance my ass off, swim competitively and stumble and get back up. I am going to call out the Divine cells, one at a time until we are all on the same page. I will work with one piece of the puzzle at a time starting with my foundation – my feet, and ending with my salvation – my heart.

Care to join me?

Use it or lose it; your life that is.

Lotus Lake IMG_6573

The other day as a friend and I were chatting, she began to tell me about her sister. They had grown up in the mid-west and her sister chose to stay there. She had picked the wrong man, stayed with him too long and had two kids in the process. She had taken a job in a factory and worked there for many years to support her children after she divorced this wrong man. She was remarried now to a nice enough guy and she was, you know, just making her way through life.

Those last six words hit me like an arrow to the heart. “Just making her way through life.” I don’t think this is why we’re here. Any of us. We all have days or even weeks we’re just trying to get through, but there are people who LIVE there.

How can that be?

Everyday I hear someone say, “I hate my job. If I could just win the lottery, I’d be set.” But that’s not true. They have chosen to play small. They probably don’t realize it, they’re held down or back by fears that aren’t even theirs. Someone in their past taught them that the responsible thing to do was to provide for their family, create security and do good work. That’s all true, but they likely framed it in such a way that meant, it doesn’t matter what your calling is, what you’re drawn to, what lights your soul on fire, there’s plenty of time for that after the life-leaching world of punch clocks and pensions.

But that’s not true either.

Every time we engage in something against our authentic selves we lose a little life force. There may be time after work, after retirement, but the spark is gone, the energy depleted. If you feel it now, now is the time.

I think this goes beyond perspective, beyond belief systems. If you feel, ever, that you’re meant for more than whatever you’re doing, and you don’t act on it, you are living out of alignment. You are ignoring your higher self. And she will come back over and over again, eventually with a vengeance until finally she either gives up, withers and dies or you have no choice but to listen.

Catch the whisper, follow the thread, see where it goes. You can do this AND have a job. For now. Maybe you’re calling is something you can do right now in your present situation. Maybe it’s outside that box. Only you can know. That’s between you and her.

I once asked a friend who was working really hard at conceiving a child, why she wanted children. She looked at me dumbfounded. It wasn’t a judgment or challenge and she didn’t take it that way, she had just never thought about why. So let me ask you this: Why, then, do you want to live? We spend millions of dollars keeping ourselves alive for what? Because we’re afraid to die?

A fear of death is simply a fear of a life unlived.

No one sits around aspiring to just exist. Marking time as if time served gets us a gold star on some universal report card.

Consider that this life was given to you, entrusted to you. Your job is to use it. How, is up to you. Maybe it’s to be a great parent, supporting and encouraging your children to become the very best, useful versions of themselves. Maybe you’re to save the lives of others through medicine, psychology or just plain old love. Maybe you are to discover the mysteries of the universe, the secrets of history or the exact location of the g-spot.

Your main purpose, I suspect is to love and uplift others. The good news here is that you can be short, tall, skinny, fat, blind, deaf, physically or mentally challenged. You can begin right now, even with your current job or situation. Your work then is to find that thing that cracks open the shell of fear gripping your heart and lets just enough light in to remind you that your only real job is to be you and you ARE love.

This is not some fancy notion. And you don’t have to walk around with a beatific smile, donning long robes, gliding a few inches above the floor. Although that could be fun. You can be sarcastic. You can swear. You can eat too much chocolate. You can smile at a stranger. You can paint. You can write. You can applaud a friend’s successes and hold the hand of a dying loved one.

Know that the organization of your cells is uniquely yours. Own that. No one else can do things exactly the way you can. And. You. Are. Needed.

You are necessary.

We need you to use your life. Declare yourself an agent for change. Even if it’s just a change in your perspective. Forget talking about people or even events, discuss the big ideas, consciousness, unconditional love, compassion, or as Marianne Williamson has suggested, “loving the world back to health.”

Don’t just exist, that’s easy. You were made special, beyond existing. You were made to love.

[Photo: The butterfly represents transformation. I believe they are so abundant because we need this constant reminder that we can transform our lives or our perspective at any time, with each breath. Look down, are you on the right path?]

21 Day Challenge – Day 17 – Overwhelm

Hole in the sky IMG_2029Sometimes when I overwhelm myself – and let’s be honest only I can overwhelm me and I am really good at it – I just look at the sky. Ironically it grounds me. Maybe it’s the literal act of looking up. I could gaze at it for hours, getting lost in the speed of clouds and changing light.

For a whole year I posted a photo of the sky everyday on Facebook. I gave it different personalities that made glib and snarky comments. When I stopped, way more people noticed than I would have expected. People love the sky.

Every possibility, every wish, every desire is held by the sky.

On a dreary day recently I was riding with a friend who was mired in a case of the blues. The sky outside  mirrored her mood; full of rolling white gray clouds with dark edges racing past one another. Then, for less than a minute there was a gap in the clouds that allowed the smallest, brightest blue patch to emerge. There was so much information revealed in that spot of sky.

This little patch of blue had a big story to tell.

I had been studying yoga – the philosophy every bit as much, or maybe more than, the postures – for several years. In yoga “pure consciousness” is a hot topic. It’s everything. The true self. One of my teachers describes it as capacity, like the sky. The sky allows clouds and airplanes and birds to pass through it without changing it. We, on our soul level, are like the sky.

This is a big concept to fathom. It is difficult to imagine the size of something without edges, without boundaries. The mind wants to put a limit on things. But like the sky, consciousness is limitless.

The clouds do not change the sky behind it. The smoke, smog and rain only temporarily cover the sky, but it is always there and always blue.

The true self, pure consciousness is always there, unchanged, unspoiled, perfect. It merely becomes hidden beneath fear, worry, anxiety, feelings and emotions, by the need to be right or seen, by the ego.

The tiny patch of blue sky tells my friend that the clouds of sadness are temporary. What it tells me is that there’s no need to become overwhelmed.  The true self is always there, resting in awareness. Without edges.

[Photo: Taken this morning. At least six months after that gray day.]