Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pic and a Poem; Visibility





   we float in uncertain space
   thinking what we see is real

   visibility is low

   impeded by elements
   clouds, wind, rain
   internal fog
   thick shape-shifter

   senses and stories
   built beliefs

   what deficient instruments
   to navigate complex worlds

   sitting on a boat long enough
   we may believe we are on solid land
   long ago having forgotten the water
   that buoys us up
   instead of swallowing us whole
  


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pic and a Poem, Desire






sometimes i dream
i am trapped
in a small space
with no doors or windows

an opening is revealed

across a threshold

wade through water
out to the forest

deep in the night
i visit creatures
with fangs and claws

piercing eyes
that are galaxies

sometimes
i am a creature
clawing my way
towards my own skin

once i dreamt
i devoured
something magical

dark and holy

mostly i
open doors
and leap into the mouth
of hunger

oh what a blessing
this life
of desire

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pic and a Poem, In Plain Sight






   we are housed in a life
   a body
   a mind
   some say a spirit
   we are many
   but singular
   together but alone

   conditioned to be

   from the perch
   of our particular circumstance
   we look out at the world
   through a dirty window
   thinking we see clearly
   that we understand the nature
   of things

   beliefs are chiseled and carved
   what we think the world is
   solid as stone
   locking us into
   limitation
   and loneliness

   the misperception of
   separation is the darkest force
   from it rise
   fear
   anger
   despair
   greed
   violence
   war

   but if we would step out
   soften
   and look back from the true vast universe
   we would have eyes so wide
   vision so expansive
   to witness at last our soul nature

   that all our brothers
   and all our sisters
   are nothing less than infinite, limitless
   perfection
   and the great force of conscious
   universal love is not outside our world

   for finally

   looking back upon ourselves
   we will find the divine right there
   hidden in plain sight
   among us
   within us

   bringing us together again
  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Brokenness and a Waterfall


Donald Trump has been elected President.

Chaos has erupted. Anger, hate, and fear have risen, from both sides, and every direction. People are divided; a country, communities, families, friendships...none safe from the chopping block. Millions of fingers pointing, blaming, shaming. Millions of hearts breaking.

My heart is broken. If you could shake it you would hear the pieces rattling in there, but you can't see what exactly has come apart inside. You can't fix it. People are angry. Some of them are angry with me. I wonder if I have lost them. The pain is deep, throbbing...sadness, grief, despair, rage, guilt, shame. Loss.

I am fractured.

My son broke his femur when he was two years old. He tried to kick a ball, but instead fell over the top and twisted his tiny leg. I wasn't looking. He screamed, a wailing siren scream, the kind that sends a mother running at super human speed. His father and I scooped him up, and rushed away to get help. We couldn't see what was broken, but we heard his cry of agony. We knew what to do. We knew where to go.

It seems that none of us know where to go or what to do now. We can hear the screams. But they are coming from everywhere. Some of them are coming from me. I feel the rattling of my heart. I reach out,wanting to save others, but I also cry out to be saved myself. I want to move, to run at that superhuman speed, but I feel stuck. I feel bound. I feel powerless.

The supermoon arrived just days after the election. A full moon that would be so close, so large, so bright. Powerful. Full moon has a spiritual significance of manifestation, creation, and completion, and is associated with the divine feminine and water. So, on the day of the supermoon I wanted to be out in nature and near that healing water. I hoped to find some clarity alone in the wilds, to pray for healing, for myself, and all my hurting brothers and sisters. I hiked a treacherous and slippery path down through the thick forest to a waterfall. I almost fell several times. I considered broken bones; femur, tibia, radius, ribs. I would be out there alone, no one would hear my screams.

At the hospital, they had to cut off his pants. His leg was so swollen.

They said the x ray had revealed a spiral fracture of the femur. They had to transfer him to the children's hospital. He would require special care that they couldn't provide there. At the children's hospital a nurse explained he would need to be in traction for a number of days, and then a cast. She said an orthopedic doctor would be in soon to explain the cast to us. I thought, a broken leg, sure, a cast from thigh to ankle, little crutches, nothing too extraordinary. No problem.

The doctor came in with a doll. The doll was encased in plaster from chest to ankle, both legs casted, spread wide, with a bar in between. A body cast. A two year old. I pleaded that there must be something else, something...he said no. This was the only option for healing. Complete immobilization from the chest down.

These days post election I have felt a great heaviness in my chest, it radiates out from there. It feels tight and drawing in on me. It's hard to breathe. I am usually a person of action, but in this I feel bound. I feel immobilized. There is no easy fix, not for me, our families, our communities, or our country. A little cast, a bandage, a bit of plaster won't do. The way to healing is going to be long and hard, and it's going to hurt, for quite awhile.

When I made it to the waterfall, I cried and heaved, I looked to the sky above and to the earth under my feet. As the water poured over the cliff, hot tears rolled down my cheeks. I reached down and scooped up cool water and mingled it with those tears. I prayed with all I had, in the ways I know how. I did moon salutation, from yoga, that honors the moon and the feminine. Praying with my body. I prayed with song, chanting. I uttered words of request, asking for help. Praying with my voice. I sat on a rock in stillness and opened to feeling, receiving, listening. Praying with my heart.
I listened to the natural world around me. Praying with my soul.

My son endured traction, painful, boring. He was medicated for the pain, only to have other pains from the medication. Weights pulled on his already broken leg. All I could do was sit at his side and do my best to comfort him, to bring him some measure of relief by holding his hand, kissing his face, reading him a book, watching his favorite shows with him.

He went in the cast for a week, an x ray check up then revealed improper healing...out of the cast, back in traction for two more weeks, back in the cast for two months. My poor guy, I call him bud, suffered in so many ways. When he came out of the cast, he couldn't walk.  His muscles had weakened too much, he would have to crawl first.

I asked the waterfall what to do. I looked to the water for some inspired answer. Her response was to simply continue pouring down, letting the water flow. The pool below receiving it, the stream it feeds flowing along. The wind blowing gently, the birds singing, insects flying. Out here nothing was wrong. Out in the wild there is just being. There is no resistance, all things simply doing what they do with no judgment, doubt, or hesitation.  The waterfall doesn't hold anything back, not a drop. She is wide open and letting go.

My son did crawl, and then he stood, he walked again. Healing did happen. It required patience, care, courage, support, willingness to go through the hard parts, and love.

I left the peaceful oasis of the waterfall after a long sit. I found a new challenge on the ascent. The muddy and steep mountain trail offered only jagged rock steps as footholds. There were stretches that I had to put my hands down on the rocks in front of me, dig into the dirty surface with my fingers, and crawl up. It took some effort, strength, will. I got there. And at the top I stepped onto the flat path and walked. I felt my heart more steady, less rattled, beating stronger.

I will think of the waterfall when the tightening comes, when I want to run away, or hold things in. I will try to make myself more like her, not holding back, wide open, letting go.

I know healing happens. It will happen now too, but the way ahead is clearly long and painful. The first thing is to fully acknowledge the injury, really look at it, inside and out and from every angle. We must look at all the ugliness, the blood and guts of it, with eyes wide open. We each must do our best to show up now, attend to ourselves, lend a hand to others, protect the people around us, especially those who are vulnerable and deeply afraid. The wounded world needs us. It needs us to be people brave of heart and bold of truth. It needs deeply grounded warriors, medicine people.

Healing will happen. It may take a very long time, we will have to crawl before we walk. It will be trying, it will challenge us on every level, but we must not lose hope, or harden into hate and resentment. In our fight against dark forces, we must not forget the light. This healing will require courage, fire, will, relentless and vigilant action, but also patience, steadfastness, support, compassion, and love. This great challenge is before us, and we will meet it, but may we keep our intentions centered in our hearts. Open, in flow, powerful, goodness will prevail.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Out of the Ash

Perhaps to arrive in the purity of truth we must risk standing in the middle of the fire, looking destruction and death in the eyes. As long as we fear that we can be destroyed, we remain blind to our essential nature. The vital truth is as simple as observing the partnership of a single breath; inhale, exhale. The antidote for fear and chaos is there, in our center, inviolable, whole.

On a recent trip to China I was reminded of the importance of magical, celestial animals in Chinese culture. They figure prominently in their art, architecture, literature, feng shui and ultimately the way life is seen and lived. They are the bearers of good fortune, hope, health, and wealth.

Two of these animals are particularly sacred. The dragon and the phoenix. Dragon is yang or masculine and phoenix is yin or feminine. Together they create balance and harmony, the perfect marriage.

Dragon has the force of life, chi, in his breath, he is the bringer of strength, good fortune and hope. Phoenix is the goddess of all the winged creatures. She is ultimately male and female. She can transform bad luck into good. She is rebirth and continuation. She can not be killed by any flame. She rises from the ash of destruction.

Dragon and Phoenix, yang and yin, masculine and feminine forces, both are needed to have balance and flow on this earth.

I am not an expert on the system of feng shui, nor am I deeply schooled in the history and culture of China, but these symbols are familiar. When I sense into them I feel a bone truth. There is an intimate knowing that these energies are more than myth, more than story or superstition, they are alive and integral in our world. They are the forces of nature, day and night, sun and moon, life and death...earth and sky, water and fire.

The breath of the universe. Inhale. Exhale.

We are part of this cosmic rhythm, though we have entered a dream, one where we imagine ourselves outside of these forces, and so we have become estranged from our own truth and put out of balance. This imbalance is reflected in our culture, our politics, our relationships, the way we show up in the world.

The dragons of Western mythology are destroyers, monsters. Perhaps we have mistaken them for such, when all they are is heartbroken in their separation. Maybe they are in grief over the absence of the beloved phoenix. Without her the marriage is empty, love is lost.

We have a conspicuous absence of the powerful feminine in our consciousness at this time. Patriarchy dominates and so we have fire upon fire, burning things to the ground. We hear about scorched earth, we see it, smell it. There is fear, panic, roiling us in the wake of this destructive fire. We long for the phoenix to rise, but we have forgotten that she is what we are searching for. And so we stumble around in the dark, reaching out madly for something, but essentially all we need to do is open our eyes and see.

Much of Eastern spirituality centers around seeing through illusion. We are lost in a deceit, wrong seeing, both of ourselves and the world, which brings suffering. We believe a separation has occurred, between ourselves and divinity, when in reality it has not, and so we fight an endless battle against an enemy that lives in that dream, an enemy born in our minds and egos.

Right now it seems that all is burning, and complete destruction may be imminent. Fear and hate are making a stand. We are at each other's throats, it is epidemic, we see it all around the world.
All of it may end in ruins. But the phoenix is ready to rise.

The question is not an if, but a when.

The moment our inner eyes open, we see clearly, we reclaim our true nature. The dragon and phoenix that live in each of us are there waiting to be awakened, and we need them both. We must not forsake one for the other, either. We need the powerful masculine, and the powerful feminine, only together, united, can they bring the peace of love back to us. They are the inhale and exhale of the inner and outer spiritual world. Without an inhale, or without an exhale, we can't function. We are stuck, paralyzed, stagnant. Asleep.

We begin to undo the sleep state by embracing ourselves, by owning our power, and learning how to step into the world as peaceful warriors. Peaceful warriors have their dragon and phoenix at the ready, balanced in the yang and yin, fierce and wise, guided by great courage, armed with compassion. A peaceful warrior is engaged and active, ready to fight the good fight, but equally adept at forgiveness. When we step out of the dream, we step out of fear, because the dragon brings us the life breath, and the phoenix reminds us that we can not be destroyed. When we are out of the shadow of fear, we will create a culture of partnership and dynamic growth.

It may take a long time for us to awaken, to bring dragon and phoenix back into harmony. It may take many lifetimes. But each time a person is pierced by the light, whenever there is a flash or a glimpse of clear seeing, the shift gains momentum. I myself know this is what I am trying to live into. I think I have glimpses, and then I stumble back into fear - the illusion. The best I can do is try to return, practice, breathe, practice, open my heart, attempt to be as present as possible in any given moment.

The truth is. Truth may be obscured, buried, burnt to the ground, but it still is. My truth is...
I am fierce. I am loving. I am here, full of life force. I will go through deaths in life and beyond it. I will rise from the ash. So will you. This is who we really are.








Friday, October 28, 2016

After the Gauntlet, Ice Cream


tables arranged
into a grid
neat aisles
for passages
of hopes and fears
parents running a gauntlet
of blood, sweat, and tears
the heart of our hearts
broken down
into feedback

assessments and averages
percentages and pop quizzes
letters and numbers
tattoos on a future
permanent records
marks never erased

i listen attentively
to the good and bad news
dutiful
responsible

tears rise from within
a truer voice

of joy
of sadness
steeped in love

those kind of tears

i reach for a tissue

when i close my eyes
to wipe
potent droplets
an image of us
awakens

we sit under
a tree near the ocean
salt and sand
sun on our freckled faces
our toes dipped in
dancing water

we are eating ice cream
and laughing

simple, free
not a mark in the world
matters
in the natural state of things

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Midlife, Destruction, Creation and Game On


I just turned 45.

It's hard to believe. I don't feel 45 or at least not the way people led me to believe I would feel.
I don't feel tired, I don't feel settled, I don't have things figured out. I also don't feel like I actually know who I am. I don't think we ever become a set person, a solid identity, we evolve. We are constantly changing and growing. Shift happens within us, as it happens all around us. Change and transformation is the nature of things.

I think of butterflies, babies and how dawn comes after night. The forces of creation, constantly birthing. I also think of floods and fire, volcanoes and glaciers. The powers of destruction that paint new landscapes and clear spaces for what creation will bring next. Darkness and light. Yin and yang.

Joan Didion said, "I have already lost touch with a couple people I used to be." I get that quote. As I think back on these 45 years of life, I am astounded by how events have come and gone and how some of them were like brush fires, unforgiving, brutal and cataclysmic, but clearing a path. Others the moment of arising, flowers blooming, sun shining, the butterfly emerges.

There are times that have split me into before and after.

When I was twenty I was arrested on felony drug charges. I was confused, traumatized, angry, but underneath it all a sad and very scared girl. I pretended to be all punk, all I don't give a fuck, so tough. When they walked me into the cell block, the women laughed. I looked about twelve, red eyed, wearing a university sweat shirt. One actually said to me, "What are you in here for?".

The DEA said my best friend and I were drug dealers. They knew one when they saw one. The women in the jail saw a little girl with no business on the block. The women were right, but they sure couldn't save me. They were in the same fucked and powerless position as me. Loser scum of the earth, criminal wastes. I only spent a day and a half in the county lock up, but I saw where it could take me. I was released to await a preliminary hearing. My public defender said the evidence was strong, I would probably do hard time.

A couple months and a plea bargain later, my lead counselor in court ordered rehab would throw a box of tissues and a teddy bear at my head, and tell me that it takes the same muscles to smile as it does to cry. I was talking about how much I hated myself and my life, all with a big smile on my face. Emotionally disconnected, torn from my own heart, in so much pain.

In rehab for criminal offenders, no bullshit got by. They had my number and I was not getting off the hook just because I was a college kid. Tough love epitomized. It worked. I have often wondered what the outcome would have been had I gone to state prison. I doubt it would have been positive, I got lucky.

Getting arrested had seemed sure to destroy me, in the end it saved me.

My future husband and I got back together at that same time. We had dated and split up before. He was there for me and supported me. He picked me up when I was at the lowest of lows. The emptiness started to take on new form. Destruction shifting toward creation.

We got married two years later. embarking on a new life. College graduates, so much hope and excitement. We got jobs and an apartment, we went out after work, we had fun and friends. We had ups and downs, young and still immature, breaking the cocoon, wet winged, clumsy. But headed in a good direction, together. It felt good to have a together to lean into and rely upon.

Married with children. A show we liked to watch, but an idea that terrified me. I felt that I should never have children. I feared I would be unable to love them enough, what with my heart, patched up and sewn together, but far from whole or completely healed. I had visions of how they would crumble in my arms, how I would turn cold and cruel when they came to me. I couldn't bear the idea, but when our son arrived, I arrived with him. He gave me the gift of my true heart, full of love.

Four children that I hold in my arms and my heart are the very best of me. They are the jewels of my life. My family is the greatest blessing I could ever have asked for. When I go to the dark places that still live in me, it is my family, just the thought of them saves me. I love them so fully and faithfully, that I am restored to knowing the light that I am, and that I have always carried in my heart.

45 years and it has been many things, but never boring. I have lived on three continents and have been to four. I have studied photography, become a yoga teacher, a dancer, a writer. I have run marathons and done triathlons. I say yes when opportunity arises, and I take risks, I put myself out there, beyond my comfort zone. I strive to stay in growth, to maintain forward momentum.

I still make mistakes too, and I struggle with my shadow side, depression, anxiety, trauma recovery. One day at a time.

I may be at midlife, but I am a force to be reckoned with and the first 45 was only a warm up. I am just getting started.

Life always has challenges. I say bring it. Game on.