(circa 1998) purple people don't try to fly they just do except, of course, when they are lost in the parking lot of Pennsylvania and especially when they are tracking the elusive folk singer shhhh!! be vewy vewy quiet when the storm comes reach out your hand to me and lift me into your boat together we are aimlessly floating through a sea of thoughts and fears until the sun comes up once again too early in the morning i must tell you that i love you with every double bonded oxygen atom in my body ...and then some sporadic bursts of words appear infiltrating my sleepy brain until nothing makes sense and i'm not quite sure why everything seems so clear
dancing the flames
of my own undoing
dancing the flames
of my own resurrection
what awaits me?
that which is behind me
i no longer need
you thought i was further along…
i thought i was catching up
i was catching fire
by my own virtue
from my own passion
from ashes i rise
I lay this heartache
on the bare-bones altar
of all my dreams
WHO AM I!?
I scream in vain
A question echoing through
the empty walls of my heart
No one will answer…..
No one can.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hope lately. Hoping things turn out ok, hoping someone special to me is ok, hoping that maybe, just maybe “this” can work for me too. Hoping for a better world, hoping for healing, so fucking much to hope for….
I don’t want to hope something for someone that they don’t hope for themselves. Talk about an imposition of will based on some judgments that what I want for you is surely better than what you want for yourself.
Synonyms for hope include the words expectation and anticipate. All of these are looking toward the future. If it’s not ok to future trip with worry, why is it ok to future trip with hope? Let’s ditch worry, hope, regret, shame – all of it! – and live in this moment, with radical acceptance and surrender.
Brené Brown talks about faith and worry not being opposites. She suggests that the opposite of faith is certainty, faith and worry being two sides of the same coin. Let’s look at hope and worry with similar eyes, as being two sides of the same future coin. That being the case, the opposite is presence.
Hoping for some future, better condition is a sort of slap in the face to the perfection of now. Maybe rather than hope for something different I can be grateful for what is. Maybe rather than hope for something better, I can do the powerfully magical work of shifting my consciousness and seeing the world through different eyes – a perspective shift that allows me to see the perfection of the moment.
“Maybe, just maybe, this can work for me too…..” What ever happened to doing the right thing for the right reason? Does this mean I am choosing a course of action based on my desire for a specific outcome – like “it working”? What if things turn out differently than my image of “working” – does that mean I did something wrong, that I didn’t try hard enough, that I am hopeless. What if I miss some really beautiful outcome because I am so stuck to this vision of what I think life should look like? What would happen if I do what is on my heart to do, solely because it is on my heart to do?
Having loved enough and lost enough,
I’m no longer searching
no longer trying to make sense of pain
but trying to be a soft and sturdy home
in which real things can land.
~ Mark Nepo
I hope the seed I am
grows like a weed:
Without any reverence for where I’m supposed to grow
or where it would be more convenient.
Finding the cracks and tiny spaces in everything;
spreading my particular kind of beauty
in the most unlikely places.
Image credit: claudialala.tumblr.com
I come from…
Well, of course I come from my mother –
and a long line of mothers before her. And that is what is obvious… My mother and my mother’s mother, and her mother before, all quite skilled in the art of survival. They survived cruelties, witnessed disgusting acts of hate and power – and, somehow still had dinner on the table promptly at 5.
They sacrificed their children on the altar of someone’s hunger, on the altar of making nice and looking pretty, and…were up at dawn preparing breakfast, headed to the fields.
I come from a long line of lies, broken hearts, and pretense – always, always pretense. And, when it all became too much to bear, too much to hold together, I come from a long line of violence.
I come from my mother, who not being able to bear the pain and constant struggle of holding the façade in place, firmly powerfully in place, escaped through a tiny hole in her arm.
In her escaping she shifted the legacy, only perhaps even darker now than before.
I come from…
I come from a place inside myself that will not be denied.
Shrouded in cultural atrocity, presented as normal, passed off as appropriate… I come from a place inside myself that will not be denied.
A place of stars, a place of grace, of raging fires and ravaging storms… I come from a place inside myself that will not be denied.
A place of ubiquitous love, of grand creation, a place of interwoven mystery and cosmic unfolding….
I come from a place inside myself, that, though carefully walled in and dressed in the fabric of a culture that could care less, will not be denied.
Originally written January 11, 2015.
Image credit: http://s357.photobucket.com/user/MangekyoChidori2089/media/monk22.jpg.html
Our world is possibly more polarized and divided than ever. Being a person that values diversity and inclusion, who strives to try on as many perspectives as possible, and who wants to build bridges, make connections, and expand beyond the limits of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, I find myself torn between groups of friends, afraid to speak my truth, afraid to be different. I find myself more temperate on some issues than friends from either side. I find my growing edges around racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, cultural appropriation, genocide, constitutional rights and freedoms, different opinions and experiences, and so many more, being engaged and challenged – willingly. And sometimes awkwardly and painfully. Almost always, I find myself passionately back in the middle – not on the fence, rather between the worlds.
Rarely have I ever considered a different perspective or point of view because the person sharing it started off by telling me how wrong mine was. My natural inclination to that sort of approach is resistance and defense. I remember once at Diana’s Grove, Cynthea Jones talking about getting a group of people to the energetic level you want them to be. “Start where they are,” she said. If they are loud and you want them to be quiet, start loud and progress to quiet. If they are quiet and you want them to be loud, start with a whisper and move to a shout. I don’t think that means start with hate and move to love – I think that means start with connecting, then with moving.
If someone tries to rip away the foundation of my belief system, pull the rug out from under me, or otherwise upend everything I stand on – I am going to cling to those beliefs and defend them. Because of that instinct I am less likely to entertain a different perspective. For that reason, I think between the worlds is a great place for healing to happen.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Extremism probably isn’t the antidote to extremism, even when it seems like the only natural response, or the only thing the ‘other side’ can, or will, understand.
I’m not suggesting we not dive deep, be passionate, thorough, or fully engaged. Extremism, to me, isn’t about how far we go; it’s about how narrow the road gets as we travel. For me, the ideal path gets wider and wider; more inclusive, more diverse. The path builds bridges, makes connections, and weaves a beautiful tapestry of understanding, compassion, and connection – even when it’s hard, even when I don’t want to. When common ground isn’t obvious and I want to attack or defend – ideally, though not always, I pause and keep looking. I can find a way to connect and through that connection, that crack – well, it’s where the light has a chance of creeping in.
(The following TED Talk, included as part of the blog post)
Photo credits: http://uumediaworks.tumblr.com & The High Priestess Tarot Card by Brigid Ashwood
I spent last weekend with the Expanding Inward team (expandinginward.com) exploring the depths of the underworld, having intricate conversations around healing and the possibility that anything can be healed. Anything? Really? What about incurable diseases, lost limbs, changes that forever shift the structure of a being…? What about wounds embedded so deeply in our psyche that we have constructed entire identities around them?
Laurie Dietrich talked about pets – about three-legged dogs and dogs with the lions share of their jaw missing. She talked about how they don’t worry about what the rest of the world is thinking – they just adapt to the new normal and go on, happily, with life. Adapt to the new normal. Hmmmmmm. Not restored to some previous, preferred condition, but experiencing and adapting to the new normal.
Everything I am about to say was either said during the weekend, or sparked a thought that sparked another thought, or is a connection I made from my experience to what we talked about this weekend. I don’t know how much of it is mine, ours, theirs…..
Before we can begin the conversation about healing, I need for us to make some agreements about the words we will be using.
Healing – The word heal has connections to Old English, Dutch, and Germanic words that connect it also to the word whole. Healing is a mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical process that can happen regardless of the availability of a cure.
Cure – This word has roots that mean “take care of”. It is often used to mean the reversal of an illness. As it was explained this weekend – it is often some pill, remedy, or treatment that is applied from an outside source that takes one back to the same condition they were before. I liken cure to the Devil card in Tarot. The shortcut, the bargain, the way I avoid doing my part and the agreements I make to get what I want without doing so.
Wound – a change in structural integrity.
Integrity – the state of being whole, entire, undiminished. I can’t think about integrity without thinking about steel, without thinking about purity. Not purity like being without sin, but purity like being exactly that which you are.
The 5 Truths of Healing
1. I can’t see integrity or woundedness.
I can’t look at steel and judge its integrity. Nor can I look at my outsides and judge my own (or anyone else’s!!) integrity or wounds. To determine the integrity of steel there must be testing – sometimes destructive testing.
2. When I focus on or am attached to what healing looks like, I am actually still focused on the wound itself or the situation that created the wound – and, in essence, looking for a cure.
It was said during the weekend “if this thing you want healed so badly isn’t healed yet, it’s because you want something else, more” There would be something I would need to give up if I really wanted healing. Through the work of the weekend I realized that a whole lot of what I came to believe needed to be relinquished was based on my idea of what healing would look like. I will do this very hard work and on the other side I will be able to realize the image I have for myself. I knew exactly what healing would look like. I was still looking for that deal with the devil – I will give up this, and in return I will get that.
3. Healing doesn’t look like anything.
Healing is an inside job. It is the work of the underworld. Things that can be seen are external – things of the world of daylight. The side-effects of healing may become visible, but they are only symptoms. They are symbols. Healing itself doesn’t look like anything.
4. Healing may or may not feel good, or even different, especially at first. In fact, it may be awkward and look clumsy.
Think about the three-legged dog learning to walk again, or the dog with most of his bottom jaw missing learning to eat again. It’s ok if I’m awkward, clumsy, or don’t feel good – that’s not how healing is verified.
5. Like everything, woundedness and healing are an illusion, a story.
This one makes me think of the Moon card in Tarot, and what Cynthea Jones taught me about distinguishing what’s real from what’s not: “It’s all an illusion,” she said. “Pick the one you like best and live it real.” When I cling to the story of my wound, or the event that I believe created the wound – I live being wounded in to reality. When I focus on the story of healing, I live being whole in to reality. There’s no judgement. Just like there’s no judgement if you prefer comedy or horror films – just pick the one you like and enjoy the show.
There was a great shift in power this weekend when I changed my story from “I have a wounded core sense of self and core worth” to “I have this idea that I have a wounded core sense of self and core worth”. I’m not wounded. I’m not broken.
I am still working on really integrating this with an incurable medical condition. That condition is not going away – and somehow I can be whole anyway. I believe that is true, and I will live it in to reality.
Brene Brown says, “The less we talk about it [shame], the more we have it.” I have heard conversation after conversation around domestic violence, rape, gender, sexuality and other areas of human struggle and shame. I am not for one second suggesting that means we have healed the shame around these realities. I can’t even confidently say there’s been much healing at all. People are still so isolated from the help and connection that could begin the healing process – still bearing the burden of shame alone.
What I am saying is, we’re talking about them. That surely suggests some kind of movement, however imperceptible, away from shame. How long ago was it that we didn’t even talk about domestic violence? 50 years? It has not been very long since these topics were not discussed – not even in the safe arms of our friends and family. In every venue silence fueled shame and isolation. Only since the late 90’s have we had Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s been even less time that we’ve been publicly talking about gender awareness and sexuality openly. Fraught with fear, we remain silent.
What I desperately need to know is, when will the grassroots movement effectively abolish shame altogether? It starts with me. It starts with talking about it. A friend just shared with me her courage around publicly talking about the shame of childhood sexual abuse, and how through doing so she discovered that the shame wasn’t even hers. I venture to say it never is. Where the hell does shame come from, anyway??
I can tell you where my shame comes from. It comes from 1,000 – or 1,000,000 –overheard negative comments about some situation, condition, or belief that I find myself unable to escape. It comes from covert, and not so covert, messages from the media about the definition of pretty, successful, woman, desirable, acceptable. It comes from the judgments falling unconsciously from the lips of people around me – judgments about things they don’t understand, or they fear. It comes from those same judgments falling from my own lips about things I don’t understand and fear.
I don’t think people intentionally breathe fire on the hotbed of our cultural shame. I didn’t. I didn’t comprehend the weighty impact of my small-minded opinions, shared openly and so resolutely – about EVERYTHING. Even comments said in jest penetrate the cultural subconscious and are the breeding ground of shame, disconnection, fear, and self-loathing. They come back to haunt me as I find myself, through some life circumstance, falling in to the categories I previously judged or mocked.
We have diligently cultivated a culture of shame with every judgment. I have diligently cultivated a culture of shame with every judgment. Every judgment. I believe the only way we – I – heal this, and cultivate a culture of connection, of enough, of love, is to stop openly expressing our value judgments; to hold them in suspense and question until they dissolve back in to that space of alchemical possibility and re-emerge as grace, connection, compassion. The dissolution of shame will happen when we start making space for every experience, every circumstance, every nuance to be held with compassion. We. Me. It starts with me.
I wish I could speak the source of my shame – right now, to you. I wish I were a courageous pioneer who would at this moment name my shame publicly and create space for others – you – to do the same. I’m not there. I’m still tethered to my shame by fear: fear of judgment, fear of rejection. The source of my shame is something I rarely hear talked about. There is no public platform for awareness, and, even among friends it is highly unlikely to be a topic of discussion. I want nothing more than to bare my soul, untether from my shame, and connect wholeheartedly.
Can we talk about this some more?
And in the meantime, can we be so care-full with our words that we create enough space for every struggle to wriggle free from the prison of shame we wall each other in?
Photo credit: http://www.indiatimes.com/india/indias-shame-world-reacts-to-fb-post-arrest-47788.html
Dear Secret Parts of Me,
The scared. The wanting. The waiting. I know you have been waiting a lifetime for someone. A mother, to do and be the things that mommies do. A father. Someone to affirm your worth. A lover, to see the depth and breadth of your beauty. A friend, loyal and present and completely sold on your absolute divinity. A mentor, to cultivate and sculpt all that you are from all that you’re not. A boss, to recognize your invaluable contribution.
Someone – anyone – to see. And, to do more than see. To shout from the rooftops and preach to the choir about your innate, unshakeable value; your unwavering beauty…
even the ugly parts.
And oh, those parts. You’ve been waiting for them to be understood, held with grace, honored for their dutiful allegiance, held as if they were the same beauty as the rest of you – because they are.
You’ve been waiting for someone more than dependable – to do more than they say, to outshine themselves in your – and their – honor.
I have witnessed your waiting. I have felt your desperate longing, your utter loneliness and total helplessness. I have shared your secret fear that they will not come – that you will be waiting forever.
I have seen how that waiting has translated itself in to an inability to wait – fierce and unyielding independence which allows only the god-like closer than arm’s length. Learning skill after skill/trade after trade so that the need for help from another would be driven further and further away.
Dear Precious, Secret Self – I have witnessed your pain, your waiting. I have added my longing to yours; waiting a lifetime for someone – someone I was convinced was everyone else – to show up.
Really, you were waiting for me.
[Form inspired by a recent letter from Gerri Ravyn Stanfield in her “Extraordinary Healing and Leadership Arts” newsletter (you can learn more here)]
Photo credit: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/heart-drawn-window.html