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?

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?

Accomplished. Check.

Moon through branches IMG_2534As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have identified that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, as something I need or want. Today I got it.

I had my list and was able to check most things off.

I also found a great quote that helped reframe “accomplishment” for me. “There is no greater joy than a job well done. This trait is therefore not a seeking of approval, but rather an enjoyment of  sharing because of the spontaneous explosion of joy that comes from the deepest part of one’s being.” From Medicine Cards.

The darker side of this list checking off-ness is the other list. That one that I had promised myself? Write, photograph, do yoga, etc.? It has slipped off the pedestal to land among the ‘try to fit it ins.’ No bueno.

Even the writing. Even photography. The passions take a back seat.

As I was completing a complicated order today I noticed the sun was beginning to make its descent. My camera was at home and I likely wouldn’t be able to take pictures today, oh well. OH? WELL? No.

This is what happens to goals – at least for me. Once I’ve reached the end I check it off to move onto the next thing. The goal that has been accomplished is now free to be recycled for yet another do over. Try as I might to make that 21 day challenge about life long  healthy habits and NOT goals, it became just 5 more somethings I had to do daily.

What to do…

Do I re-up the challenge or really focus on continuing to add those things back in? Do I let go of some of the things I thought were beneficial? Do I create more order? Maybe they just get added to my to-do list.

I am going to give myself the rest of this week to mull that over. Because of my need for structure, perhaps setting very specific times of each day that I do those things I’ve identified as helpful, will work. Or is that just me trying to plan or procrastinate.

I am boring myself right now. Anyone else?

Maybe it’s more about balance than structure. A little forgiveness and amends. Spend the day with birds of prey, spend the next day working a little longer. BUT, also do those things I’ve promised myself for my own growth and enchantment.

And always listen to the Universe.

The bottom line is, what makes me magical? What keeps my creative spark aflame? The answers to those questions will point me in the right direction.

Mulling it over.

[Photo: fit it in.]

21 Day Challenge – Day 5 – Return of the Dragonflies

pink grass IMG_1600I am being stalked by dragonflies today. I’m not worried. It’s not the first time. At the post office there was one above my car. He looked me in the eye then sped away. I went to the vet to pick up flea medication, when I came out – yep. Maybe it was the same one. At the gas station they beckoned to me from the nearby landscaping. I followed; they flitted and played but would not pose for me. That’s not what this is about.

At the grocery store – all clear. Until I came back out. Another one above my car. As I pulled into my garage I wondered if one would follow me in. Nope. He just hovered over the driveway where he incorrectly suspected I’d be parking.

I would say it was the same one, but I recognize their difference readily now, soon I’ll be naming them.

Once inside my house I opened everything up and let the dogs out. I knew there would be no dragonfly on the dragonfly branch in the back yard. It’s too early in the day, too hot in the sun for stillness. But, as I was walking back inside the shadow of a huge butterfly glanced the slats of the fence leading my eye to…please tell me you know what I’m going to say here.

They are clearly my current animal totem. I used to think I could pick the animal that best fit me. I thought that about men too. Turns out I was wrong about both. For a few years snake medicine served me well, it kept me in line. If I strayed off the path a snake would show up to guide me or scare me back on. In my dreams, in my yard, in the clouds and once in my kitchen.

Dragonflies are illusion and I’ve been thinking an awful lot about magic lately. The word magic holds a charge for some people – they immediately go to the dark arts. I am talking about everyday magic created by nature, God, the Universe – whatever higher power you would like to credit.

It’s the way perfectly normal looking grass sprouts pinkish red feathers in the fall. It’s the scent of jasmine coming from the neighbor’s yard on a soft breeze after dark. It’s the hand of a loved one reaching for yours for no reason other than to be close. That’s magic.

It’s being followed by dragonflies. I get so immersed in my relationship with them that I actually speak out loud, asking them questions. “What are you trying to tell me?” “Where? Over there? Is that where you want me to go?” “Show me where you want your picture taken.” “Hold still.” “Thank you.” I’m sure I’ve been caught. With any luck at all I’ll develop an eccentric reputation and a cool name like the crazy dragonfly lady.

According to the Medicine Cards dragonfly is asking me to look at the habits I want to change. A bit ironic considering the 21 day challenge I just issued myself. It could be that I haven’t challenged myself enough, but I don’t think that’s it. I think I know exactly why they’re staring me down like a petulant child waiting for the correct answer – which is always permission to do the thing that makes them grow and you let go.

So this thing, this habit I have to change, might be more a belief and that takes some emotional surgery. A belief is an attachment. It is something so strongly identified with that any other way is hard to imagine. It has already been assimilated; it’s snuggled nicely into the DNA. Illusion.

The smoke and mirrors in my life surround money.

My entire adult life I have been in debt. Sometimes magnificently, other times just annoyingly and repetitively, just out of reach of solvency. I have lots of great reasons why. They have not helped me eradicate this “issue.” It is a weight. I play it off, “I’ll take care of it, but I’m not going to stop living just because I owe money on my credit cards.” There is so much truth in that last statement for me that I really can’t see my way around it.

Sitting still, denying myself experiences and working a job I hate feel like death to my spirit. I have done that. It feels completely unhealthy. Maybe being in debt isn’t a bad thing or a big deal. But if I am giving it this much energy and attention, it is a detrimental thing for me.

The option then, if I am truly genetically pre-disposed to indebtedness – and if my actual physical DNA is any indication, then yes, I am – is to make more money. The concept is so simple. I am of an age now where I can see how the income to debt ratio works. Got more money? Spend it. Stay stuck. No, just make more than you spend. Simple. In theory.

Why then am I still in debt? How is staying at this level of “almost there” serving me? Do I feel I owe the world something? Do I feel I don’t deserve to go where I want when I want? Or is it deeper than that? Am I afraid that I will no longer be tethered to this life? Owing money creates a line of energy between me and that entity. If I’m solvent, I’m cut free. If being in debt has been part of my identity for as long as it has, who am I without it?

Here’s the more interesting question. If I were to pay everything off tomorrow – everything, all of it, credit cards, student loan, car – would anyone else see a difference in who they know me to be? I suspect on the face of it the answer is no. But if this act of financial freedom opens me up, then the answer is decidedly a yes. Or is it? Perhaps I project to the world the free Allison. Perhaps you are holding that space for me to move into it and you don’t even know it.

It comes down to fear. Letting go of the illusion of who I am. You and I do not see me the same way. You and I do not see you the same way. We are more than likely much more forgiving of each other. We accept the other as they are; appreciate the differences and intersections in the relationship. So I can’t use you. You can’t fix it. You can’t hurt it. You have nothing to do with it. Never did.

My fear, and I suspect yours as well, is stepping into my own power. It scares the shit out of me. In my mind it’s this huge, big, scary thing. But I think it’s not as big of deal as I make it out to be. It’s the monster under the bed that’s just forgotten clothes. It’s illusion.

Does this resonate? Wherever you see the word “debt” insert your obstacle. The “thing” could just as easily be weight or relationships or a disability or pick an issue. Pick an excuse. This could just as easily be you. Illusion is about seeing beyond the smoke and mirrors. It is identifying that very specific roadblock on the road to the bigger self and healing it. It’s trusting the process and knowing that maybe what has been a solid truth is actually the block. The illusion.

It is stepping into your personal power, my personal power and wearing it like the cape and tiara I deserve. It is owning the essence of me that I believe is hidden. But that’s an illusion too. You can already see it. I can see yours too.

So let’s make an agreement. Let’s continue to recognize that we only see each other because our bigger selves, our powerful selves, recognize each other. It can be no other way. We are all mirrors for each other. My bigger self salutes yours. You are wise and powerful and so I must be too if I see it in you.

So dear dragonflies, thank you for the messages and persistence. Thank you for the reminder that beliefs can be illusions too. I promise to continue the work if you promise to keep following me.

[Photo: You were expecting a dragonfly maybe? Not today, they won’t sit still, so instead I present to you magic grass, also known as Muhly grass. It is native to Florida and grows quite easily and heartily sprouting these magical pink feathers in the fall.]