Thursday, December 9, 2010

John Lennon is Still With Us (at least he's with me)

I posted on Facebook recently that I think I may operate with the same brand of crazy as did John Lennon.  A little spot in my heart mourns our loss due to his assassination.  But he was a man who really and truly believed in peace.  A great quote- "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream we dream together is reality."  He was talking, as ever, about peace.  And, quite obviously, John understood about consensus reality. (Yes, here she goes again.)  Because it's true.  If we all just decided there should be peace, we would just work towards it, the government would be irrelevant.  We simply wouldn't pick up their guns and we would work for everyone, not ourselves.  But, thing is, we're so far from that now.  I'm not sure how to live the life Lennon recommended.  He said to do everything for peace.  That every action or word we share should be in the name of peace.  I think that's true but I don't live it.  I believe in it, with all my heart.  But I'm just one little human out here living and I get downright frustrated sometimes.  The point, I think, is that I keep coming back to peace.  I know it's right because it feels right.  But what does my life look like?    

I had a strange experience last weekend that, at that time, seemed such a great metaphor for my life.  I'd found a can of vegetarian baked beans in the pantry and decided that would make a fine lunch.  I went to my cupboard and got out my electric can opener, only then remembering that the last time I'd used it, it wasn't working properly.  But I tried.  I'm not sure what was wrong, but it would either cut or turn the can.  Not both at the same time.  So I fussed with it for a while and made some progress- some cuts along the inner rim, but the can was not open.  Then I decided the electrical opener wasn't opening so I got out my handy-dandy manual version- forgetting that it was also jammed.  Since my hands aren't strong enough to turn the key, (jammed good), I opened and closed the contraption on the edge of the can, piercing away, till it was cut free from its lid.  Of course, I then had to use a fork to work and pry the lid out of the can to get to the beans. 

In the time it took to open this can, I probably could have opened, heated, and eaten the beans if things had gone smoothly.  I couldn't help but think to myself: "Ya know, in other peoples' lives, this is not such a hassle.  People open cans all the time.  They take the can to the opener, push that little button and TADA! they have beans.  But not me.  Nope.  I spend 10 minutes just working to get to those yummy legumes." What does this say about my life?  I often feel like I have to work so hard to get so little- like I can't understand how some things seem to come so easily to some people.  I often feel as though there is entirely too much struggle in my life, like something should just come easily.  On the other hand, I already admitted that I knew the can opener wasn't working properly.  Why did I put it back in the cupboard at all?  Why haven't I replaced it?  I've surely had ten dollars to spare at some time in the past few months.  Maybe just barely, but still.  So maybe I actually make my life harder than it has to be in some ways.  Maybe there are simple things I could do for myself that would make my days move a bit more smoothly.

Then another thing happened and I thought, let this be a metaphor for my life.  I like this better.  Before I moved last February, I packed a necklace that is very important to me.  For Winter Solstice and Christmas, one of my best friends commissioned her husband, (another dear friend of mine), to carve baskets out of peach pits and make necklaces for myself and our two other friends.  This is an unique and beautiful gift.  It's something I would have liked if I'd seen it in a store but you won't, my friend made this for me.  Obviously this is an important item.  So, I vividly remember taking the necklace down from where it hung in my bathroom and putting it in something where I was sure it would be safe and get to the new house safely. 

I moved and I unpacked bathroom and bedroom stuff.  I found my jewelry but not that necklace.  I started to wonder- hadn't I opened every box?  But I KNEW.  For SURE.  Beyond a SHADOW of a DOUBT that it was somewhere.  After all, I packed it special, right?  Some time last January.

At the beginning of the week I was cleaning my bedside table where I have a big basket of journals and writing.  Inside that is a small Japanese vase, (about the size of a soup can.  or a bean can), that holds pens.  I use pens from this vase almost every day.  I took it out of the basket and looked inside, yep.  There was my necklace!  And the Goddess book mark I'd made myself years ago that always dis- and re-appears.  I couldn't believe it! 

But I could.  Because this is my life.  And maybe this metaphor makes sense too.  What's important to me is closer than I think.  I protect what's dear to me, even if I'm not sure how.  The little pieces of what really matters are close to me, in my days and in my dreams.  So maybe that nugget of peace I want to live is fuller than I give it credit for.  Maybe I already decided to devote my life to peace, and put it inside in a really safe place.  Maybe I can even admit that I should trust myself and do that.  Maybe, in the screaming crazy tumult that is life here on Earth, I'm closer than I think.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Plans

It's December first and I can't remember the last time I wrote a blog post that wasn't poetry.  So, I characteristically ask myself: "What's up?".  I think it mostly comes down to being busy.  This is always such a stressful time of year, and there have been so many things whizzing around in my brain that none of them have been able to sit still long enough to become a complete and blogable thought.  Since I love my blog and can really see how it's improved my writing, (and I miss all my fellow bloggers!), I decided to drag something out of there.

First of all, my plans for the winter.  I've been feeling spread thin for a while now- like I'm trying to do too many things, I'm not doing all the things I should be doing, and, hence, things start becoming messy.  Like: my house, my conversations, my intentions, my brain...  What was I saying?  Oh! Yes, messy...  I feel as if I'm not giving my all to anything.  I feel unfocused and impatient, nervous and lonely, confused and worn-out.  Tasks take on a looming, monumental heft and my defense is to ignore them till they grow even more.  Plans I had got lost, some buried forever and some waiting to be found.  Intentions have become foggy, unsure.  Creativity has been spotty at best.  ( I always maintain that as long as I'm writing, things aren't really all that bad. I've been writing.)  I've been fussy and picky, moody and tired.  I've felt exposed and raw, been misunderstood and offended, and probably offensive.  I've remembered what panic feels like- not good.  I've remembered what complacency is- not good.  But through this all, the optimist is shining.

Have you ever noticed how a truth you need to tell yourself is often found in what you desperately want to say to another person?  I recently found myself overwhelmed by the beauty of another person and felt compelled to point it out.  Wondering about it later, I got it- like a migraine:  I need to realize and remember that I am beautiful.  I need to take better care of myself.  I am amazing and talented and kind and I deserve love and a happy life.  Whew... that's good to know.

So I find myself needing to re-group.  I've made a decision to scale back my social schedule this winter in order to really focus on my self and my life.  I've gotten quite good at self-therapy, calling myself on my own shit and being open to the possibility that I'm often very wrong and my motivations are questionable.  This has offered up a massive amount of questions (and even a few answers).

One of the things I need to focus on is my house.  The Little House is, currently, the Little Warehouse- as I've emptied my storage into my home.  Now, I live in a three room house with my daughter. (three rooms not counting the bathroom which is much more closely related to a closet)  I have amassed, over the years, way more books that any one person needs, (that is until said person has a home with a library), and much other lovable but not necessarily useful stuff.  One of my revelations in self therapy was the realization that my compulsive collecting started around the time my last relationship became abusive.  Wow!  That's a big deal!  That means that at that time, I felt that all this stuff was, in some way, protecting me.  I don't need protection anymore!  I can't tell you how much easier it has become to let go of things now that I know why I have them in the first place.  I need to excavate my house and make it a home- especially working on my daughter's room because it has dealt with the brunt of the storage.  Two things that are contributing to my ability to make space: many friends coming this weekend to adopt books, then some helping me to donate the leftovers, AND my landlord gave me more storage space!!  This project that felt so impossible and shameful, (yes, we pack-rats do, sometimes, actually feel guilty about what we have), now seems doable and simple.  Well, not physically simple but certainly easier than it was before.  My house is like my temple.  It's where I rest and live, it's where I create, it's where I practice spirituality, it's the heart of my experience here on earth.  Not to put to fine a point on it, but if I love my house so much in the bizarre state it's in, imagine how much I will love it this spring when it's straightened around and my daughter's room is decorated!

Aside from that, I just want to slow down.  I want to work on crafts and work through some of the meditation books I've been reading.  I want to cuddle my cats and watch movies with my daughter.  I want to go sledding and drink hot-chocolate.  I'm going to learn to cook some amazing vegetarian soups!!  I want to work out and I want to rest.  I want to, as much as possible, make my own schedule.  I want to be gentle with me, see what other amazing things I can learn about myself.  I want to attend to the most important relationship- mine with myself.

So- I will most certainly make time for my best friends (because I would surely cease to breath if I had to go longer than a couple weeks without them).  I will go to poetry readings and witches' nights out and that's it.  I'm grounded!  It feels good!!

Hope you all have a wonderful winter.  Since I'll be home, another hope is that I'll be blogging more!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Have a Friend

I have a friend who loves a woman
which may seem strange to some because
my friend is also a woman
but to me it only seems beautiful
it seems right
Because the woman she loves  loves her too
My friend has never said to me,
"I love this woman."
and they've never said,
"I love you."
in front of me          but I know
It's plain to see when they're together
that something bigger than the both of them
exists between these two
I can't help but feel warm, hopeful when I see that
It makes me want to dance.

because I see so many women who
don't really love the men they love
I'm not sure they even like them, actually
I do see men and women in love - happy couples are out there
They're just few and endangered    and I'm not sure what by
It's not deforestation or pollution that makes them scarce
It think, perhaps, it's the pace at which we push our lives
marriage is something that just happens
   -after college
   -after high-school
   -hopefully before kids
   -usually when people are too young to know themselves well enough to know their partner
                                        too young to ask the questions that will plague them in 10 years
Like:
-is he right for me?
-might there have been someone more suited to me?
-am I happy?
Questions that become meaningless   or destructive
between breakfast dishes and bag-lunches
between pig-tails and little league
where moms sit in the stands in a daze
wondering exactly how all their days
added up to this

I have a friend who likes men
which may seem strange to some
because my friend is a man
but to me it seems good, it seems right
because I saw the Hell he had to wade through
to admit (even to himself) what love looked like
inside him
He broke through barriers I couldn't have cracked,
toppled them to get to himself
and now he shines like a star
healthier, happier, more whole than I'd known he could be
His deepest desire (like all of our deepest desires)
is to find the right one
that partner, the companion that's right for him
I know this will happen, he'll find his one
because my friend is filled -all the way- with love
and on that day, I'll dance. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I haven't vanished...

Hi everyone!  I got a message from PettyWitter wondering where the heck I've been so I thought I'd better stop by my blog.  I must say, too,  that it made me feel good that I was missed.  Thank you so much PettyWitter!  I've been coming and reading, just haven't posted.

This is always such a difficult time of year, this year is no exception.  I'm always in trouble with money- that's not changed.  But I find I have even more issues due, mostly, to my own procrastination.

I have thought of several post ideas that probably would have been wonderful if I'd brought them to the computer with me.  I might even get back to them in the near future.  Just right now, I think I feel a bit of a mess.  I've had a hard time focusing.  I know I'm not alone in this, it's a messy time of year.  I'm going to have a day-dream now and set it all straight:

-I have more than enough money- enough for bills, gas, and food, enough to treat my daughter to a great Christmas, and enough to save a bit and donate a bit.

-I work in a job I love.  Not only in a place I love, but doing work that feels worth-while, like I am making a difference in people's lives.

(ok, so far this daydream has a theme)

-I take time to take care of my body.  My great job offers me health insurance so I go to a doctor regularly for checkups. I go to dentists and eye doctors, too.  More importantly and more exciting, I exercise regularly, I do Yoga at least 3 times a week, I take long walks and I have fun doing weights and cardio.

-I write every day  (ok, i almost always do)  but now I have more time for it somehow.  I have started one book and have ideas for others.

-I cook. (i'm learning)

-I spend time every day with my daughter, doing something fun.  We never rush.

-My house is almost always clean.  The clutter is manageable and we keep up with all the day-to-day.

-I spend more time practicing and working with my spiritual path.  Meditation has become a part of my daily life.  I am working through those books I keep reading.

-I meet my partner.  This may not be just yet-even in my daydream.  I want to be so sure all these other things are in place, being so picky about myself but also being honest with myself and the fact that if I don't have these things in place, it will be too easy to forget my life and pay attention only to him.

-Witches' powers become real and I can bring true and lasting peace to the world.

(ok, i may have gone a bit overboard on that last one but a witch can dream, right?)

So, this is my daydream for today.  What's yours?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 2, 2010

Entry for One Shot Wednesday



I voted today
in the linoleum yellow underbelly of
Emmanuel Lutheran
the place that plays Kumbaya to me
on great big bells while I sit by the river

was it only strange to me
to be voting in a church?
maybe more so to people
who still like our church and state separate

I stood in line for my ballot
taking in the colorful Alleluia banners
the children had made
I wondered what they celebrated,
what they praised and gave thanks for as they made them

driving to the polls I was behind a semi on the freeway
on the back a sign with an American flag told me about
our country not giving aid or comfort to "the enemy"
Shock settled in        anger stirred
as if all the people - the citizens - of Afghanistan and Iraq
are our enemies          personally
they're as helpless to their governments
as we are to ours
in the dust next to the sign
someone had written the name Jesus
He would be hurt, I think, to see this
maybe even ashamed       or that's just how I felt
I don't think Jesus believed in enemies
I don't either

but waiting for that line we've all felt so divided
I've never felt us so polarized before
it scares me
I feel obligated to vote only D
because the things the R's say -
they really scare me
but I wish I could vote G or I
without feeling it a loss

letters
behind collapsible plastic privacy
a black felt marker with
No. 2 oval holes
I break out my cheat-sheet
(yep, I wrote it down. just to be sure)
fill in all the right spaces and
a machine - secretly - sucks it away from me
I got a sticker (my favorite part)
I don't know if I've changed anything
or how much of a difference one can make this way
I'm not sure I trust the whole thing
much more than McDonald's Monopoly
but, I suppose, Alleluia
that I have a right to try.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Blog

This blog is one year old today and I felt the need to write that down. I'm so happy I started writing here! It's opened me up as a writer, which is what I was hoping for, but through it I've found so many other wonderful writers and formed a few really special bonds. Great big Thank You to all you bloggers for doing this, for sharing with me and for reading and responding. The blogosphere is a rich and vibrant community and I'm very grateful to be a part of it.

In Numb

For One-shot Wednesday:



I feel so disconnected lately
I try to have a focused thought
and all I get is dial tone
when most of the time it's like hearing
six conversations bleeding through
but none of them make much sense
all overlapping and unfinished
and above it all a nasal monotone intones:

"You are now operating in survival mode."

So I move through the day
the same as the one before
doing all the 'have to's
so it seems just like living
only without really touching anything
and the voice continues:

"You are now operating in survival mode."

Then I'm angry at that voice
I want to defy her
so I shake myself with music,
laughter, conversation, books
I sing really loudly
when a feeling does come through
because I find they've become too big for me to hold
I shake myself to try to snap me out of it
but I'm still out of it
so I do what I can to comfort me
but in the background:

"You are operating in survival mode."

So I move again to the music,
the laughing, the talking, the words
I see how these things bring
each a tiny reprieve
and as the voice goes on and on
I live between breaths

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Pollyanna, Nice to Meet You

I talk a lot about my "inner Pollyanna" here on this blog, in the hopes that you've all seen that movie. If not, you probably know what I'm referring to. I have an unstoppable optimist inside. She's not always active, as we can say about most of our "parts", but she's always there. It's the part of me that believes we can do everything we dream. She absolutely refuses to believe that "this is the way it is, this is the way it's always been, and this is the way it must continue to be...". Nope. Polly thinks that's lazy and a cop-out.

What Polly really believes in is the power of intention. She believes in each and every one of us doing our best. I love to harp on consensus reality so I'm going to touch on that again. In principle, it says that reality is what it is because we all agree- by consensus. It's the biggest sense of "life is what you make of it". Think about that statement. If life is what we make of it, why not make something different, better? Why not let our imaginations run to wild and wonderfully healthy places?

So many people feel like I do, I'm learning slowly. We don't believe in war. We don't think life should be lived for money. We believe in love as a verb, as a way to live. We believe in the ability of each of us to make the planet a better place to be.

I believe in a future that's so different from what we've been led to believe as possible. I believe in not fearing one another. I believe in a world where a woman can walk down any street alone at any time of the day or night and have nothing to fear. I believe in a world where we realize that we are all brothers and sisters, that we're all connected. I believe in a world-wide culture that includes everyone, where we love each person without needing to know anything about them. I believe in giving help to others because they need it, not because we think we might need help in the future. I believe we could come to a point of not-needing, of everyone having enough. I believe that even thought the state of the world is so far from this now, it wouldn't be that hard to bring us here. I believe that deep down, every person wants this. We all want to feel seen and to be heard. We all want to feel loved and feel "good". We are constantly creating strife for ourselves as we struggle against and through the systems we've created to "keep things in-line." If we work on trust, we could drop our defenses and give every person the means to do their best, to grow without fear into a world that welcomes and loves every one for who they are.

If you think this is naive, you are holding us up!

This is Alanis Morissette with Pollyanna's theme song, "Utopia":




We'd gather around
All in a room
Fasten our belts
Engage in dialogue
We'd all slow down
Rest without guilt
Not lie without fear
Disagree sans judgement

We would stay and respond and expand and include and allow and forgive and
enjoy and evolve and discern and inquire and accept and admit and divulge and open and reach out and speak up

This is utopia
This is my utopia
This is my ideal
My end in sight
Utopia
This is my utopia
This is my nirvana
My ultimate

We'd open our arms
We'd all jump in
We'd all coast down
Into safety nets

We would share and listen and support and welcome
Be propelled by passion, not invest in outcomes
We would breathe and be charmed and amused by difference
Be gentle and make room for every emotion

This is utopia
This is my utopia
This is my ideal
My end in sight
Utopia
This is my utopia
This is my nirvana
My ultimate

We'd provide forums
We'd all speak out
We'd all be heard
We'd all feel seen

We'd rise post-obstacle, more defined, more grateful
We would heal, be humbled, and be unstoppable
We'd hold close and let go and know when to do which
We'd release and disarm and stand up and feel safe

This is utopia
This is my utopia
This is my ideal
My end in sight
Utopia
This is my utopia
This is my nirvana
My ultimate

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hi, I'll Be Your Fool for the Evening

I've been really struggling lately. I'm doing my best to stand outside myself and look in and I'm not totally thrilled with how I've felt lately. I think it has a lot to do with the weather. I don't deal well with winter and while the weather right now is perfect, fall is the precursor of winter.

So I've been picking myself apart- again. I'm frustrated over my inability to find positive ways to speak out about things I'm upset about. I truly don't know how to express my anger in a way that's, well, less angry. Most people would wonder why I would want to do that. If you're angry, just be angry, right? But the problem is that I know better. Well, no I don't. I know that if I allow the actions of others to insight anger in me, I've become a part of the problem. The second I start acting or speaking from a place that is not loving, I'm working against what I want the world to become.

I was talking with my mom yesterday and telling her how I've been feeling depressed and somewhat disconnected and she said she thinks most people are feeling that lately. It's the economy or the state of the world, we're all depressed. That's when I realized why it's so important to me to keep my Pollyanna attitude intact.

I realize that sometimes I come off as ditsy or silly, some people equate happiness with being vapid. That's ok with me. I'm not very attached to what other people think of me because I know who I am and if someone thinks I'm stupid, they simply haven't gotten to know me. What is really important to me is the way people feel when they're around me. Have you ever noticed how someone who is incredibly happy can just light up a room? When you're happy, you don't really keep it to yourself, it gets shared by those around you. Just like love- when you give it away, you have so much more than you started with.

One of my dearest friends is a Tarot reader and we were talking about the Fool card a while back. The picture of the fool shows him about to walk off a cliff but he's totally unaware and gleeful. People have different perspectives of what this means but what it's really about is trust. Having trust that everything will work out in the end, that all will be set right- that's what the fool is about.

So I'll be the fool for the whole world if I can. If my silliness, my joy, my love for everyone, my ability to be strange and awkward and still happy can help lighten the weight we all carry, sign me up! I don't want to slip into cynicism, I don't like it there. It's dark and dusty and, quite frankly, it scares me a little. We all need to be reasonable in our expectations lest we get crushed over and over. But that doesn't mean we stop believing in the impossible!

So, Polly has dusted herself off, she's taking a little nap to refuel, and any second now she's going to start beaming again for everyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dying to Be Themselves

I'm not sure where to start with this as I'm full of so many emotions. I'm sure you've all seen the news and are aware that there have been a number of suicides lately due to bullying based on homosexuality. This is so hard for me to deal with, so hard to think about. I remember being bullied as a kid- for no particular reason- and how scary it was. I can't imagine how difficult it would be, when you're a young person just trying to come to terms with who you are, to have people act in such hateful ways based on something that can be difficult in the best of circumstances. It absolutely blows my mind that we are losing kids- really losing them, gone, not here with us any more- due to the hateful acts of ignorant people.

I'm so angry! And I'm sad and scared as well. What's going on in the world when people will push someone that hard- right to the end of their lives? Self-acceptance is difficult for us all. As I've mentioned before, our society isn't set up for self-love. It's set up to make us feel insecure so that we will buy things that might make us more acceptable to others. But these kids had an even more difficult road to self acceptance simply because of who and how they love. I think that's what bothers me the most when it comes to gay issues. I don't think we should have to say "gay rights". It's totally stupid. These are simply human rights! But maybe I'm expecting too much of humanity. When I've talked to my 10 year old daughter about gay marriage, she says, "Mom, I don't understand. If they love each other, why does anyone care?". I'm so proud! And that's what really pisses me off. Who has the right to ever tell anyone who they can or can't love? How can love, in any form, ever be "inappropriate" or "unacceptable"?

I don't accept religious beliefs as a reason to be hateful towards the gay population. If you think it's wrong, don't do it. I hear a lot of self-righteous Christians rallying against gay people. I don't find their religion acceptable. I think it's been a bloody, hateful, judgmental, hypocritical mess since Jesus left the planet but I don't protest against it because it's not my business. I simply don't go to church. And in my opinion, Jesus would cringe if he saw people acting so ignorant and destructive in his name. There was a group protesting at a military funeral because they protest the military's "acceptance" of homosexuality. How sick is that? What compassionate faith would drive someone to go to a funeral, where family and friends are mourning the loss of a LIFE, of someone they love, and set up camp to complain to that person's boss? How is it they were not arrested? I don't want to hear about someone's freedom of speech. It's not free when you're hurting others! It's utterly unacceptable and, to me, shows signs of mental illness.

In local (to me) news, the assistant Attorney General of Michigan has been stalking a student of the University of Michigan. More than stalking, the man set up a blog devoted to slating this poor person. He went to his home, to parties he attended, called him a Nazi and racist- all baseless. When I first heard this I thought, "Wow, that guy should really be fired." Then I thought, "He should really be jailed, too, because that's so scary. He made the young man's life unsafe!" Now I'm thinking he should be institutionalized. Indefinitely. I mean really, who does these things? So that man was being paid with my tax dollars and spent his time terrorizing someone he doesn't know based on his sexuality. That, to me, is seriously an indicator of mental illness and I'm creeped-out to be sharing a state with the man. Wherever he is, it's not far enough unless he's behind bars or surrounded by padded walls.

That's what I really can't understand. What drives people to do these things to others? Why would anyone want to be hateful to another person? I have never seen a gay rally for anti-anything. I see gay pride. That's awesome and obviously much needed. In a world where we're plagued with war, starvation, greed, homelessness... Where so many are lacking the basics of survival, how can people waste their time hating others for loving each other? I don't think we should be able to vote on gay marriage, it should be a non-issue. It should be anyone's human right to marry the one they love. It's something the Religious Right uses to get people riled up and draw attention from the real issues. Anyone who would vote against it would not be affected by the law anyway. I don't want to hear about money or benefits either. That's a really sick and sad reason to stop people from making their bond legal. But then, that's what our society really values- money over love.

I have gay friends and I have to say, I know so few couples who have that real, true, visible love but I see it in many gay couples. It's couples like these that give me hope for finding true love in my life. Who would ever want to destroy that? When there is such a lack of love on this planet, who would ever want to come between two people who share it?

It might sound harsh but I believe the people who were bullying these kids should be jailed as accessories to their deaths. Make a new ruling- accessory to suicide. That might be the only thing to stop this kind of behavior. How is it fair that they're walking free, probably feeling good about themselves, and the people they tormented are not with us anymore? It's a crime, plain and simple.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For the Love of Self

I talk a lot about love here and while I won't attempt to define the indefinable, I would like to try to bring it into clearer focus. It's a word used so often that there are innumerable definitions: romantic love, familial love, love between friends, love of the earth and nature, love of art... It seems a lot of emphasis is put on romantic love, probably as it tends to be the most compelling, most tumultuous interaction we share here in life. It certainly shows us the range of our highs and lows.

When I talk about love, I'm most often talking about something I have no words for. I have love for my daughter and my family, love for my friends and my cats. I love my house and my city. I love good food and music. I love books and learning. I love life itself and I'm learning to really love myself but none of these add up to what I mean when I talk about love. If I could add them all together, and multiply them by the number of cells in my body or the number of bodies on the Earth, it might start to come close.

Someone said to me recently, "What I really want is love.". It was said with a mixture of more sorrow than hope. My immediate response, (believing that the person meant romantic love), was that we have to love ourselves before we can really love another. Not only that, we have to love ourselves before we can accept that another could love us and really feel that love. I had to think about this, though, because I have a bit of sorrow when I think of the desire for (romantic) love in my life. I have huge love for the world, so much I can't stand to see all the strife. I know that this is an impersonal love, not fueled by what others do so much as by what we all are. I also feel that I've started to cultivate a strong self-love that, while new and somewhat small, sustains me through most things. If I have these big forms of love, why do I feel sorrow around the desire for an other? I suppose it's just loneliness- that feeling I've successfully denied for so long.

Self love must be the beginning of all love in a person's life. I think- no- I know that when you don't love yourself, it can be so hard to imagine really doing so. We see so many things "wrong" with ourselves and the world tends to reinforce these beliefs. It's everything from how we look to what we do. We could spend our lives picking ourselves apart, and in some ways most of us do. Many of us find it hard to feel good about our accomplishments. Some of us may even feel we haven't accomplished anything of merit at all, (I have those days). Still others have amazing accomplishments and realize that but the success itself can set up some insecurities. They start to wonder if people really like them for who they are, or for what they've done.

All that just to say that self-love is not rooted in our accomplishments or lack thereof. It doesn't matter what we've done or what we may do. Self-love is about who we are right now, in this moment. We don't have to do or change anything in order to be lovable. The first step is compassion. It's to forgive ourselves for all we do that we think is wrong. It's to realize our true nature as good and kind and innocent. We're not here to attain perfection. We're not here to know it all or to get it all right. When people think, "I'll love myself when I lose a few pounds or when I finish this book or when I find someone else who really loves me.", they're putting off the true joy of those things. If you don't really love yourself, you can't trust that another would truly love you. It becomes a weight we put on another person, to make us feel loved and therefore lovable.

Compassion for yourself is the most important first step (I think) in loving yourself. If you can slow down and, rather than pity yourself, (which leads- as I well know- to depression), simply acknowledge all that's been difficult and hurtful in your life but see how you've made it through that, you're on your way. If we start to be compassionate with ourselves, we start to want to take better care of ourselves. Then we see what a gift this life is.

Not only that, we need to realize that everyone has had some struggle. Everyone gets kicked. The world simply isn't (don't tell Pollyanna I said this) a gentle, loving place. I really do believe that when we act in gentle, loving ways the world around us tends to respond by being more gentle with us, but no matter our efforts or beliefs, hardships come to us all. Also, we all make mistakes. We all have bad habits. We have all treated ourselves in unloving ways. No person here is doing everything "right" or perfectly. There are no perfect people on this planet and yet most of the time, we're trying to put our best face forward, trying to make ourselves look as "good" as possible. We all try to make it seem like we're doing a fine job handling everything, even and especially when we're struggling.

But when we love ourselves, it brings a bit of humility that allows us to reach out and ask for help. We stop trying to "look good" and start trying to feel good. Sometimes that means, "I can't do this all on my own and I'm going to ask for the help I need." When we're willing to do that, we also may become more willing to help others, seeing it not as a burden but as an important part of living a full, happy life. How much do you hate to ask for help? How much do you love to be of help to your friends? Isn't that strange?

So to address (but not answer) the issue of self-love in terms of romantic relationships, I have to assume that it will strengthen any bond two people create. If they already know that they're lovable, they have learned to take care of themselves, and they know it's safe to ask for help, so much more communication becomes possible. They're not dependent on one another to make them feel worthy. They also know that everything is not up to one person. It's balanced and they both feel supported by the other without being completely dependent. They can go about their own lives without fear of losing interest by not being with someone every minute. They will make an effort to remain entrenched in their own lives rather than starting to live the life of the one they love. They will see how they can each remain who they are, and yet something more than the sum grows between them.

From this place, it would become so much easier to really love someone. You would realize that you're not losing anything by giving. It would be so much easier to establish trust and intimacy because you're able to let down your guard, to be your true and authentic self with someone. And I think that's what we all want, ultimately. We want to be loved but we want to be loved as ourselves, not as that 'best face' we put on for the world. We want someone to really see us, to see all of us and say, "I love you", and really mean that, to the bones.

So since I'm not in a place to really talk about romantic relationships and, honestly, still not sure I'm ready to embark upon that journey, I will keep working with this big love I'm learning. It's a bit safer but no less profound. It's what allows me to say, with truth and integrity, that I love you to the bones. Yep, you, reading this right now. I may never have met you and I may never meet you but I love you because you're beautiful and worthy of love. I love you because you're here on this Earth, struggling and delighting, laughing and crying, loving and hurting just the same as me. I love you because I know I'm not alone. I love you, not because it's what we're supposed to do, but because it's what feels good. I love you because I think it's love that we're made of, that binds us one to another. I love you because you deserve to be loved.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Want / Am / But

I want to figure it all out. I want the world to make sense to me and to understand why there is war and suffering. I want to understand politics and history. I want to be able to look at it all and say it makes some kind of sense.

I am never going to make peace with the fact of war. There is no way to make it alright, it's all wrong. I will never understand why we allow suffering to take place at all on this planet. I am never going to understand borders and when I try to understand politics, what I really understand is that it's convoluted for a reason. If someone studies for years, they start to "understand" but I think they're really just brainwashed into believing it all makes sense.

But, I really do believe that we can be the change we want to see in the world. I'm not sure how many of us need to live in peaceful ways to bring peace to the whole world, but it's time to really start trying. I feel safer not knowing what politics are about because I think they're so corrupt that understanding would not do anything to help me learn how to change things. Things don't change through politics, politic makes it hard and almost impossible to change things. Things change when people think outside the box, when they let go their grip on consensus reality and start to imagine what we could do if we believed it to be possible.

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I want to make big changes. I would love to initiate a movement of strong, self-love around the world because I believe that any love has to start with the self. I want life on Earth to be about healing and growth, about what we each have to give all the rest. I want every person to start to see their own worth and realize that we are all equal, we are all necessary, and we are all part of the same system of life.

I am not in a place to speak out to thousands or millions or even hundreds of people. I don't know how to get my thoughts out there to the world. I am trying my best to believe that the love I feel is enough, that when I pray and meditate, or when I show compassion for one person it sends that loving ripple out over the whole world.

But I know that this is only where I am right now. There is so much unknown in my future. There may come a time when I can speak to many people, when I can appeal to their higher voices, to their higher selves. It also may always be in the seemingly small ways that I make this want known. I may talk to one person who wakes up to something because of that conversation and goes out into the world with a new message of their own love.

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I want to feel healthy. I want to take better care of my body, mind, and spirit. I want to lose weight, (the unending quest of all western women?). I want to accept myself as beautiful every day. I want to know that I'm doing all the things I can to take care of me. I want to devote myself to Yoga, regular exercise, and a more structured meditation practice.

I am a busy single mother. I am doing the best I can. I am trying to recover from some work-related overuse injuries that have made it almost impossible for me to practice Yoga lately. I am turned-off by any pre-occupation with the way we look, especially my own. I am in a constant and probably all-too-common struggle between accepting myself as I am and striving to be better, (the gist of this post).

But I know that how I look is not who I am. I know that we all go through times when we take better care of ourselves and times when we don't. I have a lot of knowledge about what I should be doing and I have my whole life to start putting these things into practice. If I'm patient with myself, I'm more likely to start making changes soon.

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I want to be a perfect mother. I want my daughter to have a fun childhood and also to learn about responsibility. I want to give her all the opportunities I can. I want to do all I can to ensure her strength as she grows through the tumult of adolescence and into her adult life.

I am not a perfect anything. I love my daughter with all I have but I am only one person. I lose patience sometimes and others I'm too lazy to teach her to help when I know I could do the thing I'm teaching her in a fraction of the time. Parents always struggle with providing. I can't pay for her to go to an amazing school, or even for most extra-curricular activities.

But I do the best I can. Loving her and expressing that creates a stable foundation in our relationship so that even though I can't protect her from the slings and arrows of life, she knows that she can come to me with anything. I encourage her imagination and growth. I let her know that I'm not always right. I remind her that it doesn't matter that I don't like the music she listens to, that's her choice. I do my best to give her space to grow and also to instill the idea of responsibility. I'm open and honest with her and very affectionate. Honesty and affection were a bit lacking in my upbringing so I feel like I really am doing my best.

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I want to take better care of the Earth. I want to recycle EVERYTHING and compost and be more mindful of the packaging I pay for. I want to learn to can food and plant a garden every spring. I want to learn more about sustainability and green living.

I am, again, doing the best I can. I recycle all paper. I couldn't afford to plant a garden this spring. I do my best to avoid toxic chemicals to clean with. Green living is not cheap living and there are days I can only do what I can afford. I'm getting better at this stuff little by little. There is a LOT of information and I am not able to devote my life to the pursuit of being green at this time.

But, I have good intentions. I'm becoming more aware and stepping more lightly. I think that with time my knowledge will translate to greener living. I have to be reasonable with what I'm able to do. Every change counts!

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I want to find peace within myself. I want to let go of wanting, let go of should. I want to spend at least some time every day being ok with everything.

I am human. Life is about growth and if I was always content with who and where I am, there would be nothing to grow against. In that way, I'm grateful for the discontent.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Living Out Loud

When I was young I was painfully shy. I actually remember having my mom write my name down once because I didn't want to say it to the “older” kids on my block. As I got older not much changed. I started to say my name but found it difficult to join conversations. I felt I didn't have anything relevant to share or if I thought of something, it was about what people had talked about ten minutes ago.

I was in high school when I made the first step toward coming out of that shell. It was finding my ability to laugh at myself. If I could laugh at whatever stupid, embarrassing thing I did, somehow it wasn't so embarrassing. Instead of feeling that awful, heart-pounding dread and the desire to sink into the ground, I felt kinda silly, made light of it, and moved on.

Around that same time, I started to really think about cliques. I couldn't understand why people only seemed to hang out with people who dressed like them. To investigate this phenomena, I started dressing differently every day. I would come in one day dressed like the perfect “prep”- neat hair, those V-neck sweaters with a striped button-up underneath, pretty little necklace, nice brown loafers... The next day would find me looking like a total “goth”- all black clothes, usually in layers, ratted up crazy hair, white makeup with dramatic orange eyeshadow, massive black liner, and red, red lipstick, masses of heavy silver jewelry- basically a female Robert Smith (lead singer of the Cure). The next day I would be a “burn-out”- ripped jeans and concert-T's, leather jacket, hair ratted up but less chaotic, sometimes flannel (which I “accidentally” wore before grunge had arrived at my suburban school and was called a farmer, till a few months later...). Then I would come in dressed like a hippie. There weren't any hippies at my school. I was not in a “clique” in school, I was one of those loose, unclassified kids with a few friends. I don't know if it was my own rigid perceptions of those groups that changed or that people were curious about what I thought I was doing, but I ended up with friends from every clique eventually.

After high school and out into the real world, I started to have different issues when it came to social interaction. I had a hard time knowing what to share with people. Sometimes I went through social-anxiety wondering why I had shared something with someone. Or just back to that feeling of stupidity over something I had said. I think it usually came down to my fear of being judged by someone. What would so-and-so think of me now that I had shared that? Would they tell other people? Obviously fears like this helped me to establish some boundaries. Having been through some friendships that caused me to loose trust, I started to gravitate towards different types of people. I learned about establishing trust and mutual respect. I learned how to find safe places to share the things that I need to share.

I keep moving through new ways of seeing my interactions in the world. I've hung on to that ability to laugh at myself, which is crucial to me. I've started to realize that it's not important that other people understand me. Knowing that is a deep and necessary piece of my growth and my path. I have to be able to speak my truth. I have to feel free to believe what I believe regardless of what the world tells us. Trying to fit the world into what we think we know about it will never work for me. I know there is more to this than what we see.

So now I've gone from a six-year-old girl who couldn't bring herself to say her name to a 34-year-old girl who tells it like it is. I still have moments when I can't make my words work. I get the biggest kick out of that after the fact, the writer with no words. It's at those times that I remember that I'm also very emotional and sensitive. I may show the most prevalent emotion like a beacon on my face but there's too much going on inside to work through the words.

What I'm learning about now is the delicate balance of transparency. There are so many things we waste our time hiding that are simply human experience. We have built up so much shame around things as simple as bodily functions. I'm not sure how to shed that but it seems so silly when you think about it. We're ashamed of our desires and habits, sometimes of our strengths. We find it so difficult to say what we feel, what we think. It's fear of rejection or fear of exposure, fear of vulnerability, fear of hurting others, fear of having an unpopular opinion. Do you see the recurring theme?

What I want to keep working toward is a loosening of all that fear. My life is about being loving, that's the change I want to be in the world. I truly believe that the opposing forces, in the grand scheme of things, are fear and love. Fear feeds greed and our perceptions of “different”, two unhealthy human habits that contribute to suffering. If I am willing to let go of that fear and live, out loud and up-close, maybe some other people will see that and open up too. I don't want to hide who I am. I need to be able to communicate how I'm feeling and what I think. We all need some things in our lives to be private. That's healthy and gives us a sense of self and security. But how much do we hide that isn't serving us in the hiding? How many times do we bite our tongues when we should just let them fly? Who do we really hurt when we hide how we feel? What can we do to allow and encourage those around us to feel more free and open and safe? It sounds like a big idea again but to me it all seems so simple.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whew...

I had a difficult day yesterday and I want to share about it.  Sometimes I feel like I come and blog only as my most Pollyanna self.  Ok, maybe sometimes Polly has a viscous justice card in her back pocket, but still with that bright world-view, expecting everyone else to be loving, too.  But I am not a constant happy-go-lucky person.  I go through the hills and valleys that we all do and although it's my best, most optimistic face I like to share, I feel it's important to show my humanness as well, and that was bare and raw yesterday.

I think it comes down to how I process things.  A very dear friend had to have surgery on Wednesday.  I knew about this.  I was aware of the need for the surgery.  Then I knew the date.  Not much to do, really.  In my head it amounted to: "So, they take him in, they do their thing, he's fixed up and home in a week.".  I guess that's a positive thing.  Nothing felt like an emergency and it was not.  All there was to do was to be there and ask how I could help.

The night before the surgery we gathered, friends and family, at their home.  We laughed and talked, had coffee and pie and enjoyed the company of family that goes deeper than blood.  It was a fun and up-beat gathering, planning delivery of company and real-food, laughing at stories and silliness.  I always have such deep gratitude for nights like these.  I am so grateful to be with people who are present and kind, to feel a part of a group who is so supportive and who share love so generously.

The next day involved watching Facebook, waiting for updates.  And waiting...  And waiting...  And praying for energy and for those who were waiting in the hospital.  When I went to be that night, they were still waiting.

The next morning I got up and checked- yay!!  Surgery was over, the patient was resting and all the others had finally gone home to rest.  This was the best news I had ever heard!  "They" did their thing and the thing was done and my friend was resting and safe.  Whew!

So that's when it all hit me.  That's when the tears came.  I still can't quite figure it out.  I was able to process what was going to happen mentally- ok, there is a surgery with a date and then recovery.  There is something wrong that will be fixed.  This is how it is, this is how they will fix it.  That was all easy to compute.  What was not- at the time- was the risk involved.  There wasn't a part of my mind that could even consider the idea that anything could go wrong.  It was all very simple- well, kinda simple.  In my mind it was a done deal and all was well.

So then, when it was really done, I finally fell apart.  I finally was able to look back and think of all the fear I could have had.  I finally paused and reflected on just how serious this was.  I prayed (more) for angels to come to help my friend heal and realized how weak even my prayers had been before the event.  Even in prayer, I was unable to ponder the weight of this thing.  I prayed for the patient, for the family, and for the staff.  But then, when all was over, my prayers became fierce.  When we were out of the woods enough for me to look back and see how frightening they had been, I found my will doubled-up.  I had guilt for having not felt that way before.  Why didn't I cry sooner?  What kept all these feelings at bay?  Why weren't my prayers louder, more heart-felt?

But I think I know.  I think it was a measure of self-protection and maybe even my Pollyanna holding me up. Of course everything was going to be ok and considering anything else would have been torture.   This suspension of emotion allowed me to be supportive and positive for my friend and his wife (who is one of my very best friends).  It allowed me to have that strong inner-knowing that everything would work out.  I think that, in a way, is a prayer.  In my mind and heart, I was showing the Universe that I believed, that I knew that this person would be fine and life would return to strange (being the preferred kind of normal) in no time.

So I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  I guess I don't have to assign good or bad to it.  I learned a bit about myself and I did my best to be supportive for friends who have been supportive for me.  I let my feelings out, finally, and then felt awful.  I took myself to my favorite restaurant for lunch and felt better.  Today I am just grateful.  I'm grateful for the suspension of emotion as much as for the arrival of it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Value of a Person

I've been thinking a lot lately about what we value in other people.  I think there are some scary cultural norms but the real answer varies greatly from person to person.  I recently moved to a college town and I've overheard and witnessed all kinds of snobbery based on education, which I find so ironic.  I have friends who have prestigious degrees and friends who are professors and they don't seem to judge based on a person's education or lack there-of, but I have some exceptional friends and much gratitude for them.

There are so many different ways we categorize people- education, type of employment, perceived success or achievements.  I just wonder what these things really say about a person.  I have met so many "educated" people who have routinely proven themselves to be ignorant or closed-minded and really out of touch with reality. I experience the unfavorable looks when I tell people I clean a library, as if that tells them something about who I am.  I've seen how I shrink to some people when they learn what I do.  You know what? They shrink to me because of that reaction.

I have been at this job for (almost exactly) eight years and in that time I've really struggled with not defining myself by what I do.  I work with people who have told me I'm probably the smartest person in the building.  I don't know if I agree with that but I'm no slouch.  I have a voracious appetite for knowledge and am, therefore, very self-taught.  This means that there are a lot of things I know very little about and a lot of things I have picked apart as best I can to figure them out.  I think that's true of most people.  We learn about what we're interested in.  But I am sure that there is not a degree on this planet that makes anyone an expert in anything, and if there were, what's that anyway?  Someone who knows a ton about one thing.

Here we go with the circles again.  What I'm trying to work out is what is really important, what is really of value in a person?  When I think of my friends, the people who I spend time with, the first thing that comes to my mind is an open mind.  I have unpopular opinions and a lopsided world-view so I need to hang out with people who will hear that and accept me without the need to agree or disagree.  Kindness is the most important thing any of us can carry.  It's become almost novel, to be kind in general to those around you.  I like people who laugh easily and freely, and who have strange senses of humor.  I think authenticity is also hugely important.  If you're not being yourself, I don't care who you are.  I want to know real people.  I don't understand people who put on airs to try to make themselves appear to be perfect.  I see this a lot in people who have a lot of money.  That sounds judgmental and I think it is so I'll just fess up to that right now.  But I have a friend who lives in one of those fancy neighborhoods where all the houses look the same and everyone has to make sure their kids have the same new cool toy as the neighbors.  It just goes on and on.  There's such an immature attitude that seems prevalent in the whole little community.  My friend, an exceptionally sensitive, authentic, and generous person, is miserable and at a loss for how to deal with these people.  I know that not all people who have money are like that, but I think somehow in the quest for "bigger, better, newer, more", people forget about what is truly important.

I wonder about that greedy need. What if you had nothing?  What if there was no money, no car, no house?  Or what if you suddenly found yourself in a crappy "job" (like, I don't know, cleaning) and you had an old car and a rented home?  Would you suddenly be a different person?  The answer is yes if you defined yourself by those "things" in the first place.  I would like to say that I don't judge myself in these ways, that I don't have wants that distract me from needs, but I did grow up in America and I'm not immune to consumerism or to the sad way we evaluate things.  I think my awareness of it stops me from really buying into it all, though. 

I know that who I am is something (indeed, the only thing) that can never be taken from me.  I am a loving, kind person and I do my best to evidence that every day.  I am learning to be less judgmental and more patient.  I am learning about what really matters to me and how different that is from what the rest of society seems to deem important.  I stopped watching T.V. because it's so full of negative messages and feeds low-self-image.  I have realized that if I want to be a truly loving person, the most important thing is for me to love myself.  I can't afford myself the luxury of sitting back and saying "I'm only a custodian." or "I have no degree and therefore no worth>." because I don't really buy into any of that. 

I know that my worth is in what I do and how I interact with the world.  It's in how I show up every day. It's in the fact that I'm so content, so happy and feel so blessed to live my life that might, to others, seem like a struggle.  I'm aware of the things I struggle with but they're mostly worldly things and are not as important to me as they seem to be to others.  I have great friendships.  I have a beautiful, amazing daughter.  I live in a wonderful house with a gorgeous backyard where I can sit and meditate all afternoon.  I live in a cool city where there are tons of fun things to do.  I have a sense of awe and wonder at the world that fills me with love and peace every day.  I have difficult days when it's hard to find that peace, and then I wake up again and it's there.  I am truly blessed and will never be better or worse than anyone.  We are all here.  We are all one.  We are all worthy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Will You Burn with Hate or Love?

I feel like I have the same rant building again.  This is a different incident but based on the same old ignorance and hate.  "Christians" in Florida are planning to burn copies of the Quaran on September 11th?

Because my faith is one that is little-understood by main-stream society, often feared, and almost always misrepresented, I hesitate to criticize any other faith.  I have to admit that there is a strain in the general relationship between Pagans and Christians.  If you are into religious history, you might guess why.  Also many Pagans come from Christian roots so there are sometimes personal feelings involved.  That said, if I'm going to criticize, I'm going to be deliberate about where I direct that criticism.  There are many Christians in this world who are loving and feel as angry as I do about this.  None of this is directed at them in any way.

The people who have organized this "burning" and all those support it are a disgrace to Christianity and  to humanity.  I grew up Catholic and although they did, I learned we are not supposed to judge.  I feel like there is a constant stream of judgment coming from the Christian perspective.  In a country where we are supposed to have separation of church and state, why is it we hear the term "Religious Right"?  They criticize everyone, if you're not Christian or you're gay or you're a woman who wants rights over her body or even just a liberal (haha), I think they think you're evil and must be stopped.  They really and truly believe that their values are right for everyone and we should all just adhere to their way of doing things.  There is no appreciation of differences, no ability to see beauty in diversity, no ability to even see humanity beneath faith.  It's such a closed-minded and intolerant perspective.  I don't really like the term tolerance because it implies putting up with something you don't like and I'd like to think we can do better than that but I'd be happy with a little bit of tolerance right now.     

It seems to me that some Christians think that this country was founded on "their" religion, and that "theirs" is the only right way.  Even in the skewed history we get, we learned that this country was founded because of the need for religious freedom, and as one of my favorite bumper stickers says, Freedom of religion means ALL religions!  That means that we're free here to pray five times a day, or to go to church on Sunday, or to sit out with the trees, or to believe in only science and what's seen.  We can express our belief in Spirit in any way we want and we're not obligated to hold any belief at all.  That's a beautiful thing!  I do not, however, believe that right translates to the freedom to commit blatantly hateful acts.

There is no other explanation for this, it's simply hateful.  Again, it implies that these self-righteous Christians believe that "Muslims were responsible for that terrorist act".  So every person who practices a particular religion will act in the same way?  Considering the behavior of some priests over the past few years, I really don't think we should go there. If someone were to organize a bible-burning, what would the general reaction be?  People are acting as if there are sides to be taken on this, just like the masque. Have any of the torch-carrying bigots even read any of it?  Of course not!  They just know it's evil because it's different.  There's supposed to be some symbolism in burning them on that date, as if that holy book is a symbol of the hate that perpetrated those actions.  Their anger is the symbol of that hate. 

The thing is, that's a sacred text.  Just because it's not sacred to everyone, it doesn't lose that quality.  To set fire to it in this hateful way (I keep using that word) is a powerfully negative thing to do.  The Witch comes out in me again when I think of the consequences that might bring about.  I've learned in my faith that what you put out you get back in return.  Judging others does nothing but harm.  When you are loving towards the world, you get loving energy back.  I wonder what energy those people will get back?

The best thing I can do is to turn a blind eye to it.  I came, I wrote, I got it out of my system. (well, mostly)  I'm still reeling over the wrongness of this.  I'm sickened, yet again, by the media and the fact that this should never have been a story as it only instigated more hate and division. (Just doing their jobs.)  I'm disheartened by the rampant ignorance and fear that causes division in this country.  I'm grateful for my path and my ability to see all the beauty in every path to Divinity or calm. I'm grateful for my ability to step back, forgive, and love it all.  I'm praying for peace again and still.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Oasis

I am not really a city person.  I remember when I was little, my grandpa talking about "city slickers" and "country bumpkins".  I was definitely the latter.  One of the things I was really adamant about when considering moving to my city was that I at least have some green space.  I got that in spades and have so much gratitude!


I
my backyard!

 
The view from my back porch, 
where I sit to let the stuff of the day fall out of my head.











Back up the path...


to The Little House!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Ignorance Un-Mosqued

I have a rant today and I have to warn that I have a lot of emotions about this and I do not intend to hold back.  That said, if you are angry about the mosque being built in New York, please stop reading this blog and go straight to Hell.

I really thought that as a country we had gotten over the misconception that the tragedy of 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslims.  I thought people had gotten over the conclusions they had jumped to and realized how little sense they made.

I have to admit that I have heard of this story through friends and I don't watch the news.  This isn't a complicated issue so I feel comfortable writing about it.  What I'm hearing:  A mosque is being built near the site where the twin towers fell.  People are outrageously angry about this.  Who are these people?  A co-worker told me yesterday that she almost had to walk out of church because during the sermon the preacher was going off about this and basically saying that this was an evil action and surely implying that all Muslim people are evil as well.  What a kind and compassionate Christian perspective.  I'm sure if Jesus had been there, he would have agreed completely.  (You can't hear the sarcasm but it's thick!)

I have a few Muslim friends and they are among the kindest, most compassionate, gentle people I have ever met.  I have studied (admittedly not thoroughly) the Islamic faith and it is a very gentle path.  The only thing that has ever bothered me about it is that it is a very patriarchal faith.  This is NOT unique to Islam.  Have you ever met a female priest?  How long has it been that women could sit with men in Temple?  At it's core, Islam teaches the same loving message as any other positive faith.  Blaming all Muslim people for a tragic act committed by people who were clearly not following the tenants of that faith is ridiculous!  

Muslim people died in those buildings.  Can you imagine that?  So there were family members, friends who lost loved ones in this crazy act and then felt not only that loss, but a loss of freedom as everywhere they went, people began to look at them as if they were terrorists.  Then in the guise of protection, our government used this tragedy to systematically siphon off our rights.  We lost so much more to this tragedy that what was lost on that day.  We willingly gave up so much of our freedom and privacy.  We lost the cohesion some of us had worked towards.  We looked at anyone with dark skin and hair with suspicion.  We lost touch with what this country is supposed to be about.

The people who did this came from a very different place.  It is my firm belief that these types of actions only take place because of the unbalanced distribution of resources.  So people outside of the U.S. hate us?  I don't think they hate us personally.  I think they live in a place where day to day life is so difficult that it's easy to create hate towards a nation that seems to have everything dangled before them on a silver spoon.  I don't even think these people were intrinsically hateful.  I think they were taken advantage of and used.  They were fed anti-American propaganda and with the way we behave sometimes, we certainly give fuel for that.   I'm not saying that I am anti-American or that I condone terrorism by any stretch of the imagination.  What I will say is that we don't take responsibility for anything, as citizens.  I never hear people talk about what it must be like to live in the Middle East.  Why would we ponder that?  We have a tennis match to go to and then the kid's baseball game and a cook-out this weekend and the car payment and mortgage to attend to.  We'll think of other people another day.  Maybe next week, I think I have some spare time on Tuesday afternoon.  This is what makes me sick about the culture I've been fortunate enough to have been born into.

I don't wish I was somewhere else.  (Well, maybe Canada but they're not perfect either.)  I am so grateful to have been born here and I see the gift in it.  I know that it was luck, chance, that I could have come into being anywhere on this great round planet.  But knowing that, I think I have a responsibility to dwell in gratitude, to carry some compassion for those who were born into less favorable circumstances.

As a good Witch and a loving person I simply cannot abide the ignorance and hate I hear seething around me.  Anyone who holds these opinions should be ashamed of themselves.  To me, building a mosque in that area is a great way to bring healing.  This is a place of worship and of peace.  These people want to come here to pray and express gratitude.  Would anyone have complained if someone had opened a gun store nearby?

What really bothers me about this is the anger it causes in me.  This is not helpful.  I have shame over the way my country-mates are acting.  I am so pissed off that these hateful, ignorant opinions are being sent around the world in the name of the country I live in!  I don't want to feel this anger.  I want to be able to forgive people for being such assholes.  Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Clarification?

I've been thinking of the post I wrote yesterday and something about it is bothering me so I'm here to explore that.  I think the main thing is that it's so vague.  Not a surprise since I don't really have the language yet to express this longing.  I see the different voices I write with in this blog and that came from a place that's not very organized.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  I don't want to feel as if I have to be organized or proper or correct at all times.  I want to be human, unafraid of showing all the colors of this experience.

So what does it mean to me to have a spiritual life-path?  It's not a great big, pious sacrifice.  I'm not going to live in a cave or join a monastery or a coven.  I don't feel I have to change myself to honor this path.  My belief is that we all are good, inherently.  As such, I don't think I have to "live up to" my aspirations.  As a Christian, I always wondered how people could be comfortable "giving their lives up to God" or being "used by God".  The reason this sounded so scary to me then was that the Cristian idea of God was so stifling and judgmental.  It felt like a life of no fun, no cutting loose, no hilarity or debauchery, only being very "good" all the time.  Who wants to do that?

As my beliefs have grown and changed, I see that my joy is a potent way to worship.  If I'm dancing and twirling or laughing with friends, that's a great feeling and it feels good for a reason.  I don't believe that God wants us to abstain from everything that feels good.  I think we're here to delight in every moment that we can. If we can't enjoy ourselves, we aren't learning.  We're stuck.  Being joyful and showing that helps the world.  When you smile at other people, they smile back.  It's not something people think of a lot but it's a very powerful thing.  A little thing like a smile or a kind word can really change the landscape of someone's day.

So that's what this path is about to me.  I may never be in a job that evidences this path, (although I'd like to).  It may only be the small things that we all do.  I'm already doing those things- when I vacuum at  work I try not to suck-up spiders as I remove their webs.  Even though I don't have much money, I give to causes I believe in when I can.  If I'm in a bad mood, I am aware of it and do my best to not take it out on others.  When I'm in a good mood (thankfully most of the time) I try to share that.  I do my best to be present with people I spend time with.  I try to be sensitive to the needs of others and see things from other perspectives.  I always remember that there is more to life than this, that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.  I guess I'm already walking the path, I just didn't recognize it as such.

Maybe in the future my path will show up in planting a community garden or volunteering in my city.  Maybe I'll teach classes, write books, give aid and counsel.  Maybe it will just be about praying and meditating in my living room.  Who knows?  Not me, but what I do know is that the most important element is trust.  Trust is what stops me from feeling urgency.  It's not imperative that I do anything, only that I trust that I will be in the right places, doing the right things, helping in the best way I can.  This affords me some freedom and strengthens my sense of purpose.  Just like I've always trusted that God was there, I trust that my path will unfold for me in the way that it should.  I will be able to make the right decisions.  I will be able to do the work. Whatever the world puts before me, I will be able to handle it and act with Love and Trust.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's About Faith

I pray a lot.  I always have, since I was little.  It's become so much a part of my life now that it's almost like hunger, I feel the need.  The amazing thing about prayer now is that I get answers.  Not always and not complete solutions, but I get nudges in the right direction. 

I've recently had a very profound prayer experience and while I would love to share it with the world I don't yet have the words for it.  Let's just say I felt/saw/intuited/became aware of something I've never experienced before.  I have always believed that as humans, we have so many abilities we don't use.  I think we wall-off psychic ability out of fear of exposure and vulnerability.  I think we forget our intrinsic connection to everything in the tumult of daily life.  I think we lose faith to the machine of complacency.  I am so grateful that I've not lost this.

I'm not sure why I have always had such a strong and abiding faith in God.  From Catholic upbringing, through Baptist churches, through general Christianity, through Wicca straight into the Witch I am today, my belief in and connection to God have not waned a bit.  To me this is the seed of faith.  That even as a child, when I was aware that the things the church said were not true to my life, I still believed in God.  I must have had some borrowed wisdom then to have known that God did not belong to the church, that God is in our hearts and everywhere. 

Over the course of my life, while my connection stayed strong, my understanding of Deity grew and changed.  Obviously I no longer think of God as a male.  I believe Source is indefinable and genderless, but to make prayer easier on my little human brain, I choose to focus on the God and Goddess as balanced polarities and a complete whole.  I have never believed in being "judged" by God, only that our lives lead us down the course we choose to take.  When awful things happen, some people get angry at God, as if this could have been avoided and they can't understand why God (who they heard was great and good) would allow them to be in such pain.  What people don't take into consideration is that we are all here to learn.  If a bad thing happens to you, it is not necessarily a result of something you did wrong in the past.  That happens, we sew the consequences of our actions into the fabric of our futures.  But often things happen simply because they must.  They become our challenges and it's up to us to decide how to grow through them.  These are the worst, and maybe most common, times to turn our backs on Deity. 

So back to my amazing prayer experience.  I had to ask myself why I was shown this, why I received this gift.  What had I done to deserve this?  I have not been an avid studier of meditation, I have not committed myself to diligent prayer.  It took a friend to shine some light on it for me.  She told me that I've earned this path through trust.  It took a minute but that started to ring true.

Over the past few years, I've prayed a lot about finding my path.  I'm so shocked and saddened by the state of the world and it hurts me so deeply.  I've been begging for a way to help everyone.  I've continually given my life up to Goddess (God, Source...) and offered to do any work that will help.  I've said I don't care what I do, as long as I can make a difference, make something right.  I can't say that I can see what that work will be, but I do feel as if I've been heard.  I feel that my path is opening for me and I can start this work now.  I have to keep reminding myself- how many times do I have to quote this?- to BE the change.  If I am praying in rapture, if I am confident and believe in the power of Love, if I am positive and believe we can fix this, then those beliefs may just migrate into other open minds.

I don't think I have a point in this post.  Maybe it's this: prayer works.  Another thing I've learned recently: we can keep anything out of our lives by not being open to it.  If we JUST ALLOW, amazing things will happen. You would be surprised.  That message- just allow- came to me in prayer a few months ago while I was fretting over something I had to let go of.  I surrendered my armor and told Goddess it was up to her what happened, that I would not get in my own way.  She delivers quickly! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rough Draft

I wrote this poem at the laundry mat yesterday and it may not be done but I want to share it.

At the Washtenaw Coin Laundry

I love this town and all its colors
so many shades of black and brown and tan
on skins and eyes and hair and hands
accents that come from     I know not where
languages lilting lyrical lullabies
myriad mantras
so many gods    all one
All One
cultures not clashing
not shocking me
only calling to my eyes and ears
with whispers of lands I'll never see
secrets of souls
swishes of fabric and whiffs of oil
spices speak sustenance
words awaken wonder
music exciting in mixed-up modes
drifts from windows where
kitchens sit with laden bread
always a table to be filled with old places
a landscape of different
aromas  abundant      call back in time
ancestral  answers     gifting with grace
a smile touching eyes
gives me welcome without words
human-ness beyond language
beyond any perception
of not-like-me

Hindsight

I've been contentedly single for quite a while.  I needed time to get to know myself and to heal, to think about what went wrong in past relationships.  It's always so clear what the other person did "wrong" but it takes a while to see ourselves.  Time lends a certain objectivity that, while not always imparting the whole picture, can still be eye-opening and humbling.

Over the past few months my resolve has softened a bit.  I think it may be because I have a clearer picture of what I want a relationship to be about.  I'm weary of being out here on my own and long for the comfort of an other.  That longing doesn't assuage the fear, though.  Hesitance, maybe, would be more precise.  I know I can see where I've made mistakes but will that stop me from making them again?  I need to take a look at what I've done "wrong", or what has not served me in the past.

* I've looked at potential rather than present.

* I've thought I could change people. (What girl hasn't?)

* I've not taken my time.

* I've shut down when things bothered me rather than sharing how I felt.  This always causes a rift and the bond just breaks down.

* I've stayed when I should have left.

* I've ignored red-flags.

* I've charged ahead when my deep, true voice told me to stop.

* I've waited around for not-love.

* I've seen what I wanted to see, ignoring what was right in front of me.

* I've taken more shit than I should have.

* I've expected things to change but not done anything to change them.

* I've given less than I should have.

* I've given more than I should have.

* I've lost myself.

So my question to anyone who knows is this:  When you are willing to admit all of these things, does it help you to avoid making the same mistakes?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank you!


Thank you so much Yoga Savvy for the award!  Her blog is filled with interesting self-questioning and profound thoughtfulness.  I always feel a little lighter after having read one of her posts.
I will pass this on too.

Daily Spirit who I only recently started following.  Her writing is full of honesty, wisdom, and humility.  She has brilliance that shines brighter than I can say.

Pen and Paper finds the most interesting information to share.  Her posts let her sweet personality shine through and she always makes me think or laugh.

Pumpkins and Toadstools is one of my favorite witchy blogs.  She does so many different types of amazing art and craft projects and shares them, it's truly inspiring. 

The Domestic Witch is another favorite witchy blog.  If you want to learn more about the Craft, check her blog out!  She has so much information and explains everything so clearly.

Unwinding Self has a wonderful yoga blog that's much more than yoga.  I find the most beautiful poetry there and lots of honesty and openness.

Thank you all so much for writing and sharing!  You're truly beautiful!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bittersweet

I was just pondering whether everything sweet in life has a bitter element as we get older.  Even a new romantic interest is a different experience in your thirties than in your teens.  You come to that person feeling, maybe, broken, or at least a bit worn-down.  They come to you the same.  We get hurt and after years and relationships and disappointments, we don't see the possibility of something new in the same rosy light.  In fact, a part of us is scared to death of it.  'Why get that close to someone again? Don't you remember how much it hurt last time?'
    
Maybe I'm slipping away from my usual idealism into much-avoided cynicism, but it's just how I'm looking at it in this moment.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's really a reflection of the experience of life.  To me, this wakes up my feelings of longing for presence.  My own presence in a moment, and the presence of the people I spend time with.  I think I am starting to understand why so many spiritual traditions stress being "in the now".  The only real way to experience great joy in this life is to really be doing what you're doing.  At any given time we could be fraught with worrisome thoughts of bills, health-issues, work stress, friend's problems, the list goes on and on.  There is always something that is out-of-alignment or difficult in life.  True joy must only reside in the act of being totally, yet effortlessly focused on whatever the task is at hand in that moment.

I am not, however, a Buddhist monk or an experienced Yogini.  It seems strange to me that it takes so much training and effort just to stop our minds for a few seconds.  This is telling me that I need to start practicing meditation again, and soon!  That's the only way I've found to consciously quiet my mind.  I think as I learn more and more about how the world is set up, I need more and more to have a safe space inside.  I need to put it all in a different perspective.  I need to "take a few steps back, put on a wider lens". _Ani DiFranco, Everest  I have to see the big picture and, thereby, simplify everything.  Really, I need to re-write the story of all-that-is till I can digest it properly and put it in terms I can deal with.

My problem is always wanting to change everything.  I've ranted about this before.  I see the whole world and I forget that it's my life, my world I need to worry about changing. Little as it is, I really do believe that change for me affects the rest.  I can't get out into the world and make great change if my own life is out of sorts.  I need to put my pieces together in order to find the stability and peace I need to generate the ability to help others.  I feel like I'm writing in circles again.  That's ok, I like circles.  They always bring me back to what the heck I'm getting at.

So I'll take the bitter with the sweet.  I'll be willing to be brave, again and again, if it means I can move forward.  I'll take on each moment and be present with however many I am able.  I'll see that the sweet always outweighs the bitter.  I'll let my cynicism slink back into pragmatism, retaining my idealism.  How many isms does a person need? No matter, I just have to keep writing.  Keep breathing.  Keep loving this world.  Keep knowing how beautiful it could be.  Keep seeing how beautiful it is.  Keep praying and feeling Love as the answer to everything.  Keep letting the fear go, no matter how often it returns.  Keep knowing that I'm on track, even if I can't see my way.  I'll keep putting my weird thoughts out there to see if I'm the only one.   

    "One breath at a time is an acceptable plan, she tells herself..." -Ani DiFranco  Tamboritza Lingua

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's About Sex

Why I'm a Witch

I've always wondered a bit about the things we consider "bad" in this society.  Like curse words.  They're just series of sounds, letters lined up in a way that is offensive to some people.  They seem to have some power because they're considered insolent. When we're young, we learn that masturbation is "dirty" and "gross", even though babies do it in the womb.  It is natural, healthy exploration of our own bodies.   I came from Catholic stock and most people know the Catholic view of sex.  It is for procreation only and NOT EVER for fun or connection, or even to express love.  So then the fact that it feels good to our bodies and our hearts is just some temptation we're supposed to try to combat?  We're supposed to deny the inherent beauty in this? No thank you.

I've always felt, instinctively, that if two people love one another, (regardless of gender or marital status), and are consenting adults in a loving relationship, who come together to share and delight in their bodies, that's a beautiful thing.  It's akin to divine communication.  And, indeed, ancient Pagans considered sexual acts to be sacred.  At Beltane, (May Day), couples would pair up and disappear into the woods to perform sympathetic magic, believing that their love-making would "show" the land and animals the fertility they relied on.  In ancient Egypt, in the temples of Isis, priestesses were trained in the arts of pleasure.  Men would come from villages nearby to receive blessing by laying with these women.  People understood that sharing in this way, in love, was not shameful but was a way to remember how deeply God and Goddess love us.  The ecstasy available to us through true love and trust is a glimpse of the energy of the Divine.  This is a gift to be held in reverence, not something that should be connected to shame or guilty feelings.  

The danger in placing sex in such a negative light is that it loses its importance.  It's not something we talk about, except between very close friends and, hopefully, those who we share it with.  It feels awkward to explain to our kids how intense and loving this thing can be when all they know of sex is media over-stimulation and that, according to most adults, they shouldn't do it.  Is is just me or is this a recipe to ensure most kids will experiment at a young age?

Imagine growing up in a world where sex- the physical act of kissing, touching, and making love, and loving relationships were considered sacred and greatly revered by all the adults you knew.  There is so little we hold collectively sacred that I'm having a hard time grasping for a metaphor.  I'm thinking of rites of passage.  Or maybe in terms of how decisions affect our lives.  We tell kids all the "bad" stuff that can happen if they are irresponsible but does anyone ever tell them about the wonderful things that can happen in their lives if they wait till they're older to have a sexual relationship?  Higher self-esteem, richer relationships, less stress, more self-reliance, the freedom of being a kid, a more responsible attitude when they are ready, and of course missing out on all those "bad" things that happen when people aren't safe. 

But how do we treat sex, as the "grown-ups"?  So many people are very casual about the way they share their bodies.  People have affairs, sleep with people they go home with after the bar, sometimes with people they would never consider having a relationship with.  This is a symptom of an emptiness.  It's present in us all to some degree and we try to fill it with the most spectacular things sometimes.  Food, alcohol, work, drugs, T.V., ...  The only way to stop the cycle is to start to really connect, and that's not something we need to do as much as it is something we need to allow.  If we truly saw ourselves as one, intrinsically connected, would we not have deep respect for every other one?  If we didn't feel shame for things we think are "wrong" with us, but saw ourselves a human and beautiful and equal with all the rest, would it not be easier to open up and trust others?

When I came to study the Craft, I found the reverence for love and sex not only felt refreshing, but true.  It made sense with what I had always believed.  Having this positive view allows me to love myself more fully.  I don't have to carry any guilt about my human-ness.  This allows me to talk to my daughter in a very sensitive but matter-of-fact way about her body.  I'm not uncomfortable with the questions so as I answer I can sense how much information she needs and not over-load her. 

As a woman, especially, I have so much gratitude for having found a path that does not admonish my sexuality but celebrates it.  This is as much a part of us and our lives as the air we breathe and the food we eat.  It's as natural as those, too.  (Well, more natural than the food most of us eat lately but you get the point.)  Whether we are in a relationship or not, it's important that we honor the fact that we are sexual beings and see that as pointing to our capacity to love.  This would be a good place to start to collectively let-go of negative feelings and allow ourselves to remember that sexuality is simply and beautifully a natural part of human life.  It's something to reflect on and celebrate. 

This has been yet another installment on things I would like to change about the world we live in.  Still love it, though, and hope you do too.