My first guest blog post, as featured on A Holistic Journey.
Last week my father told me that his local Safeway had closed down, soon to be replaced with a Whole Foods. Normally this news would’ve tickled me – I’m a Whole Foods addict – but I was inexplicably sad. He now scans the weekly store flyers and shops the best deals.
Why did this conversation leave me feeling so tender, so emotional? I realized it was the first time I thought, I want to be like that. Like my father. Careful, methodical. Good with money.
The money story has always been big for me. As a small child I constantly compared myself to others – me often holding the short end of the stick. Everyone else got the best toys, the best food (hot dogs and sugary cereals), the best clothes. I got a dad who seemed to say ‘no’ to everything.
It made me angry. It made me…
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Last weekend I listened to a fabulous interview with Liz Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love (or EPL, as my bloggette pals like to call it) and The Signature of All Things. The discussion was full of gems, but what stood out was Liz’s take on passion.
‘Passion’ can be such pressure! Find your passion. Go after your passion. Live your passion. In Liz’s words, passion is a very ‘rock star’ state of being. But for many of us, including me, our passion is not obvious. We can’t pinpoint it to something specific.
When our passion is not clear, we may feel bad about ourselves. We perhaps feel inept that we can’t find it, or assume we don’t have one. We become blocked and discouraged. We believe passion should be *big*, so we don’t train ourselves to watch for more subtle cues from the universe. Maybe we don’t think those cues exist.
Liz suggests going with curiosity instead. Now this I can get on board with! The word ‘curious’ is showing up for me a lot lately. A few weeks ago, I watched a YouTube interview featuring the wonderful Danielle LaPorte, who wrote The Fire Starter Sessions – a hugely motivating manual on how to get-off-your-ass-and-start-really-living. (This book has inspired me on so many levels, and is partly responsible for me quitting my job!)
Danielle spoke about discovering the top five feelings we want to cultivate in our lives, and living from those states, rather than focusing solely on achieving goals or acquiring ‘stuff’.
Curiosity made my list.
There are so many things I’m curious about; I couldn’t stop wanting to know ‘why’ if I tried! Curiosity keeps me interested in, and ever-learning about, life. This is very important to me, as I don’t ever want to assume I know it all. I especially want to stay curious about people. And our role in the mystery of the cosmos. (Ok, that’s another post.)
Curiosity is very powerful. It will never burn out. It stokes itself!
I’m certainly not discounting passion; it can be a very good thing (hehe). But passion can be viewed as a sweet, deepening revealing, rather than something I have to find, now. I’m relieved to take that pressure off myself. And curious to see what unfolds as a result. 😉
Today is the final day of a 3-day sacred women’s circle I’m part of. I didn’t even know about the event until just a few days ago. It popped up on my Facebook wall (on the Full Moon, hmmm) and, despite my recent resolve to not spend money on retreats and workshops for the next little while, I knew immediately that I had to go. Not only would I be connecting with women in my own city, we would be learning the steps to facilitate our own women’s circles – gatherings where women come together to connect with each other deeply and authentically.
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of leading women’s circles, so I trusted the divine timing at play and signed myself up before the doubting inner voice could talk me out of it.
After two days, what I know is this:
–Few things are more powerful than women coming together in sacred circle to heal (individually and collectively).
–Women can really go there when held in a trusting environment. Our emotional depth and our capacity to self-express makes my head spin (in a good way)!
–It feels amazing to sit with a group of conscious women and feel truly seen and heard. Feeling that total acceptance is like coming Home. When judgment does come up, it is usually acknowledged (internally or externally), and dealt with.
-When women create sacred space with intention, magic happens. I mean real, palpable magic. The energy is electric. The power we can tap into when we are united is astounding.
–I live two different lives: the one I present to the outside world, and the one in circle. In sacred space with my soul sisters (yes, even those I’ve only met two days ago!), I can relax and be truly Me, with no pretense. I can say things I would never ‘normally’ say out loud. Women can allow this for each other. It is possible. And when it happens, it is fucking amazing.
-Our society is set up such that women are often in judgment and competition with each other. It’s ingrained in most of us, and it takes constant conscious awareness to override this programming. Not an easy task when our triggers get activated and the pain runs so deep – not only in our present life experience, but in our ancestors/genes (DNA).
It is what it is for now, and it’s much more manageable when we have support and can see the bigger picture.
–Women are waking up. And a lot of us really want men to be along for the ride, by our side, the Divine Masculine to our Divine Feminine. Both men and women can rise to a level of greatness that Planet Earth has not yet seen. The road to get there is not for the faint of heart…but it’s OH-SO-WORTH waiting for!)
I didn’t know the importance of authentic connection with women, or how much I needed it, till I experienced it for the first time a few years ago. A whole new world opened up.
This is where the Divine Feminine happens – when women gather together with the intention to awaken her. She is found in the real, raw, uncomfortable, deep, soulful, exhilarating, hilarious gatherings of women in our communities, in our backyards. The effects of those gatherings ripple out and transform all.
I’m driven to do this work…it’s exhausting and out of my comfort zone, it’s messy, and it brings up a lot of unpleasant stuff. I certainly can’t say it’s fun. But I feel alive when I’m doing it. I feel I’m tapping into something so Real in the midst of a grand illusion. This stuff matters. And I want more of it in my life.
And so it is.
The ocean soothes and contains me. I grew up surrounded by water and can’t imagine my life without it. It is not an ‘it’, but an alive being whose consciousness I feel more and more. She feels feminine to me. Receptive, open, pulled by the moon…
Water is my conduit to the Divine, and her expansiveness holds all my hopes, dreams, prayers, fears, tears, and desires. Today I say ‘thank you’ to the healing sea, for always holding me in her loving depth.
Today I am living in the fifth place I’ve stayed at in the last six months. Tomorrow will begin my last week of work before my Leave. Next week I depart for my six-week trip to Europe, 4-5 of which will be in Italy.
I’ve barely had time to catch my breath and last week the ‘good’ stress manifested into physical and emotional haywire. Thankfully this weekend has been hugely restorative, as I’m housesitting a friend’s spa-like pad, and caring for her two very sweet and rambunctious kittens. (These creatures have been very effective at taking me out of my own thoughts as, for example, I watch them fight over a crumpled piece of paper for half an hour.)
In Vedic Astrology there’s a phenomenon called ‘Saturn Transit’ (Sade Sati) in which the planet Saturn enters one’s moon sign (and the sign before and after) for a period of approximately 7½ years and, depending on who you ask, either makes your life miserable or inspires great growth and change. I’m exaggerating…but it’s essentially known to be an intense period of shift, and the best thing to do is just go with the changes with an open mind and willingness to learn what Saturn teaches.
Saturn is known to remove all that no longer serves us, whether we want it gone or not. Saturn makes those changes we’ve been dragging our heels on making ourselves. Saturn is a disciplinarian; he can seem cold and harsh, but ultimately the changes are for the better. (This by no means fully explains Sade Sati; you’d have to ask a Vedic Astrologer for the expert analysis.)
I was advised that my Saturn Transit was coming, months before it actually started a couple of years ago. Whether I believe in Sade Sati or whether it’s the power of suggestion, I cannot deny that since that time there has been enormous change in my life, not only on an external level, but even more so internally. Remembering the lessons of Saturn has brought me some grounding.
Saturn demands that we pare down, de-clutter, simplify, and organize. He forces us to examine: what is truly important to us?
For most of my life I’ve been on a spiritual search, and I’m sure this will continue throughout…eternity. But this search has often been a bit heavy, wrapped up in analysis and trying to understand things intellectually, or wanting to ‘heal’ things in my life (past, present, and future). In other words, the spiritual path has often been so serious. And while this has served me perfectly in the ways it’s needed to, I’m ready for more fun. For more lightheartedness. For more joy. For more beauty.
And what better place to experience and integrate the pleasures of life, than Italia? The food, the scenery, the language, the wine, the art, the people, the…all of it.
This trip represents my intention to enjoy life without figuring out all the why’s. To let beauty absorb my senses. To, as the kitties do, fully experience and embody what’s right in front of me without figuring out (worrying) where I’m going next. To accept this beautiful gift from the universe without questioning my worthiness for receiving it.
Saturn is known for his heaviness, for putting pressure on us; but maybe he’s teaching me that I am the one – in fact, the only one – who can diminish the pressure and heaviness in my life, by cleaning up all my own self-imposed ‘stuff’. I like this, and I gleefully accept Italy’s role in the metamorphosis.
I’m finding that there’s nothing quite like blogging to make me more aware of, and accountable for, my thoughts and behaviors. Writing something on the Internet, particularly when it concerns my so-called ‘flaws’, functions as my own personal self-magnifying glass.
After a recent post touching on judgment, I found myself more closely examining my inner judge. I began to really pay attention to the various people I encountered on my daily walks. And I noticed that, if left unchecked, my mind could fabricate a story about each and every one of them.
My mood + my memories + my projections + my fears + their appearance instantaneously combined to formulate a complex (and often unconscious) narrative about who ‘they’ were, and how I would or would not relate to them.
Judgment and story often go hand-in-hand, and stem from the ego – from fear and separation. The ego constantly seeks to maintain control over a fragile and tenuous ‘reality’ it has created for itself through memories, beliefs, wounds, opinions, and external messages (to name a few).
Our personal narratives form our identity, and define our sense of ‘place’ – or not – in this world. The ego is terrified of letting these stories go. Without them, what is left? Who are we? What do we hold on to? The ego is constantly on the lookout for whatever does not conform to its worldview, and seeks to protect itself from any perceived threat. (Enter the story.)
The heart, conversely, comes from a position of implicit trust (love). Not blind trust in everyone and everything we encounter – discernment is essential – but a quiet knowing that we are safe on a much deeper level than any fictional imaginings can provide. Where my ego views a possible enemy, my heart sees a potential friend or ally.
I know that underneath all my stories, there is a deep longing for human connection. A genuine desire to release all the opinions, thoughts, and judgments I carry around. I know this because my heart immediately perks up, expands, warms, opens, and brightens when I receive an unexpected smile from a stranger. In that instant, story doesn’t matter.
It’s amazing, really, how simple yet profound a smile can be. It neutralizes. Erases poisonous thoughts and judgments just like that [snap]. It’s magic.
On my morning walks I often look around and think, Each one of us woke up today, ready to do it all over again. None of us is done yet. We’re all still supposed to be here.
I want to nurture this vision of you as a kindred journeyer in the experience of life, navigating the mystery in their own unique and appropriate way. A divine being, masquerading as a human for a little while.
When I let go of my fixed notions of what ‘reality’ is, and how things ‘should’ be within it, I can approach you with an unclouded heart. I can drop my armor, meeting you with receptivity and openness. In my friend Sadee’s words, with boundaries instead of barricades.
When I release my own stories, perhaps I won’t need to project any onto you. We can each choose to be whomever we want. And we both walk a little freer.