Here we go again on a dizzying upswing. Possibilities are stars and I am hurtling through them at lightspeed. Somebody told Chewie to punch it, and it seems the hyperdrive is working just fine. Opportunities are endless. I can zoom onward, my heart in my throat as I watch all these amazing chances streak by my windows.
But, wait, help! It’s all flying by too fast and I can’t connect the dots of stars if they just look like trails of laser fire. And I might be moving at stunning speed, but do I even know where I am going? Euphoria is sweet, but I’m risking my sanity, achieving all this altitude without sufficient oxygen.
Reaching such velocity and then slowing to the inevitable crawl between these frenzied trips beyond the atmosphere of my every day experience is nothing new, but traveling through life as a new mother is making the ride more brilliant, terrifying, and death-defying than ever before.
This is passion, this is euphoria, this is limitlessness. And it can be as difficult to harness and capitalize upon as a passing comet.
Christine Kane has a guest blogger who writes about passion today. She names it, desrcibes it, and invites readers to uncover it in themselves. What she does not address is how to harness it so you don’t just feel like a helium balloon, rising so fast you forget the feel of the earth. It’s only the combination of a pair of boots firmly planted in the mud of daily life worn with a set of passion feathered wings that stuff really gets done, that the necessary changes happen.
For me, passion is hope, ever springing eternal. My task is to capture all of this fabulous momentum and distill it into a potion I can drink each day, a little draft I can add to my morning tea to keep the sweetest adrenalin pumping even when real life is trying to tell me it is impossible to fly.
I am out of practice here in the blog world, unable to distill my thoughts into the 500 word limit I try to impose upon myself. As you can tell, I am so immersed in mommyhood that all of my messages are filtered through the all encompassing experience of being with my baby 24-7. This is supposed to be a post on sacrifice, about how complicated a relationship we have with giving up what we want to believe is comforting and nourishing, even when we have definitive evidence that it is causing us or someone we love a great deal of harm. I intended to draw parallels between my diet’s effect on Moira and a conversation that I had with my husband about how lousy we are at really cutting back on anything even when we know our lifestyle is often enjoyed at the expense of our alleged dedication to preserving the planet for our daughter. Instead, it’s a little rant about the power of food. I think there are some good ideas in there somewhere…
The healing work that I do incorporates aspects of kinesiology, or muscle testing, a technique by which you can ask the body about the effect of anything from pollutants to emotions to foods. It is amazing all of the secrets one can uncover by checking on whether someone’s muscle is strong when confronted by a substance or an idea. It makes one into a detective, unearthing emotional issues and troublesome allergens, but sometimes you get more information than you may have ever wanted.
When my own energy healer worked on both the baby and me we discovered that the main culprits to be blamed for Moira’s digestive distress were corn and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants). These are in addition to the foods that I already have to avoid for my own health and sanity. Now, when I need hundreds of extra calories per day to keep producing good milk for my baby, I find that my diet must be even more limited. Goodbye moussaka and tortilla chips, hello rice cakes and almond butter… Thing is, I see a hugely positive change in her already so I have a source of constant encouragement helping me to change my habits. If only we could see the results of every sacrifice so quickly.
If I were not so immersed in healing work and dedicated to being a detective intent on following whatever clues the body and soul have to offer, would I have just sighed at the terrible luck of having a colicky baby? How is it that we are programmed to be resigned to something like a screaming , hurting child, calling it a phase that she will grow out of?
We are so disconnected from our bodies and so oblivious to our intimate, vital relationship with everything we eat that we so often ignore food’s obvious connection with our well-being at every level. I will certainly admit that I’m no expert on anything other than how to be Moira’s mummy (and I only have nine inner months and two outer months experience at that!), but, in my brief experience, when it comes to infants, food is mood. And this is just as true in adult tummies too.
For years now I have been aware that certain foods wreak havoc on my system. I’ve behaved, I’ve cheated, I’ve gone on benders and consumed sugar and gluten and wine with wild abandon. Much of the time, I have acted like a recalcitrant child sneaking food or whining (at least internally) about all that I cannot eat. Of course, it was a foolish, misguided rebellion since the only one who suffered when I raided the Halloween candy stash was me. Until motherhood, that is – it can take as few as two hours for the food a mother eats to show up in breast milk and then affect a baby’s digestion and, by extension, her entire being.
I know I am not alone in this battle between what my mind know and what my belly craves. When nearly all of the major illnesses in affecting people in Western culture are linked to poor diet and excessive consumption it seems obvious that food wields infinite amounts of power.
This being Christmas Eve Eve, I realize this is the anti-holiday post in so many ways. But at least when you gather with your families for the holidays you can see the positive power of food as the table fills with the feast that represents all of the sentiments of the season: gratitude, love, celebration. Food is tradition and care and seems a more benign force than the other altars that pull us together – the piles gifts or hours of football.
Make the choices that best serve you, body and soul. No regrets, no looking back and souring a sweet meal with what you shouldn’t have placed on your plate. Love yourself as you nourish yourself this Christmas.
I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. Amazing how the body will survive even if it cannot thrive when stress levels reach dizzying heights. Even more remarkable is the way the body realizes that when the pressure eases she finally can take her chance to tune out and shut down. Though I know I am blessed to have had the strength to ride through the competing stresses that have marked 2009 for me so far, it is still hard to get used to the full stop that a sore throat and aching head seem to demand.
Anyway! My last post may have been a bit angsty, and in general the fall out from the past week have not made for the sweetest of epiphanies. One antidote for all this processing? Go see Brandi at was once called (and perhaps still is) Dandelion Seeds Studio.
From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter’s realm;
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.
I have been on a journey. Not far, just a journey that took me from the once-upon-a-time a church organ that is my beloved writing desk to the more public realm of the kitchen table.
The work I was doing was pulling me from my shell (often against the will I insisted on trampling upon) and was asking me to consider pulling open some other people’s shells as well.
With the belief (or was it an excuse?) that getting involved with a multilevel marketing company that offers a great product endorsed by Deepak Chopra was going to propel me along the path to being a healer, I gave the last month to this new project. The economic pinch we’re feeling made it seem like an even more acceptable idea. Unsure what was healthy skepticism and what was irrelevant fear,
I plunged in.
But now, as I look at empty slots on the blog calendar and barely remember the names of beloved characters from my neglected novel and realize I really owe Grandpa an email, I wonder if it was worth it and I wonder how to proceed.
It is only just past Imbolc (Brigid’s Day I barely gave myself time to recognize) and I find I have slipped out of 2009’s intended alignment already. Or rather, I was forcing myself into a new alignment that was so far off my present course that it seemed like so much chaos. I was aligning with my need to help save up for impending school taxes. I was aligning with the dreams that my teachers in my healing school had decided would light their own paths. I was aligning with my hope that skepticism was unnecessary baggage and that some corporate promises were fueled by something more than deception and greed.
I didn’t use this space to describe my brief journey with Zrii, and I have little desire to use it to describe what is probably going to involve walking away or at least drastically altering my relationship with the whole affair. It’s been a tremendous learning opportunity, and I have been plunged into some lessons I didn’t think I was ready to absorb. It all came on the heels of other personal shifts that I thought would take a long time to sort through. I assumed the universe would give me the luxury to focus on one bend in the road at a time, but here I am, once again trying to understand: I am not in control.
So, I believe that I return from this little sojourn with new wisdom, something risked and something gained. I opened arms wide enough to risk humiliation, and so I learn some humility. And so I return to my own path, one that has no logo and no endorsement, one that is shrouded in no illusions but the ones I cannot yet leave behind.
Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have
helped to help you in their turn.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
Last week, during a snow day’s inspired bout of housecleaning, I found myself thinking back to an unusual and unforgettable book I read a couple of years ago, The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. It’s a novel about consciousness and thought experiments and features a white mouse and lots of soggy french fries. You are never quite allowed to forget that the protagonist is a vegan, and her lingering fears of malnutrition preoccupy her thoughts as she endures poverty and a life on the run.
The author is an outspoken vegan herself, so it seems natural that her heroine would share her dietary ethics. I am sure that many writers paint their own essences into the characters they need to spend the most time with or whom they wish to love most. I know that I have trouble imagining I could really get inside the mind of a fictional person who was not a redhead (ok, I am trying to get beyond that!).
Knowing that writers populate their stories with individuals whose every action and thought is colored by their own creative drive, I realize how much I inflect the way I tell the story of my own life. By “telling the story of my life” I do not just mean the way that I filter things to write about them in this space, but the way that I let my internal narrator describe the events of the day as they happen and as they get stored in memory.
We all sit behind our eyes and interpret the events before us. I think that is inescapable and a potentially delicious part of being human. Still, in the same way there are Booker Prize winning novelists and lousy copy writers, there are also ways to be a brilliant commentator on your life and ways to be a hack journalist.
I have been finding myself spinning through some “he said/she said” conversational recaps of late, both parties realizing that neither is exactly sure what was said. Perspective is like the unicorn you dream might lurk in the corner of the room. A mythical entity that you really, really want to believe in, even if you secretly fear might just be a figment of the imagination.
I know that practice and dedication can make me a better writer and I know that awareness and compassion can make me a better witness to the events of my life as they pass before my always calculating eyes. Sure, there are spiritual schools out there that teach the bliss of detachment, and maybe someday I will be seeking that sort of release from the dictates of my own roving consciousness. For now, I am going to relax into the knowledge that I am in this world, and, in many ways, of this world. I just have to learn to look upon it with the wisest and kind gaze I can.
How can the day glow more brightly if I realize I am the one has the power to clean her glasses and increase the quality of the behind the scenes commentary?
There are some things that you do not blog about, at least not until the lessons have been distilled and the gory details been sublimated into lessons and broader examples. It is important to me that I offer wisdom here, not a transcript of my life. The sanctity of my inner world and those of my loved ones depends on my understanding that difference.
I have been working with some challenges that were bound to demand my attention eventually, and so I have stayed away from daily posting. If I had tried harder, I could have scraped together the time to spin out some rhetoric and offer some platitidtudes, but I think my readers are too smart to read what would have simply been empty pleasantries.
Today, I am still dancing warily with this sort of communication, afraid the necessary veils may slip and I may reveal too much and also worried that I am not in a place to yet believe my own optimism.
What I can offer is my husband’s comment on his way out the door as he put on his coat to brave the 6:30 a.m. chill: “I think the sun is actually trying to come up.”
The winter solstice was one month ago today. Despite our darkest December convictions, the sun is proving that it will in fact return and that we will once again be taught the joys of daylight.
How perfect it is to notice that the light is finally getting the upper hand on the first morning that the sun has risen over a new family in the White House.
Hope and dawn. Those two ideas are always linked in metaphor. I feel blessed to watch that metaphor take on a new sense of reality as I watch the horizon brighten a little earlier each morning.
Thinking about politics and the skies, this morning I looked up to a waning moon again the rosy east. I would never have gotten married or planned any other life changing event while the moon was in its phase of decrease, but there is something fitting about January 20 falling during the fading Wolf Moon. As much as we are celebrating all that is fresh and new in an Obama administration, we also recognize the diminishing influence of fear and aggression that have marked the last eight years. And that incredible inaugural address yesterday was as much about letting the greed and irresponsibility fall away as it was about adding new challenges and strength to the American character.
And for all of the meaning that the astrologers may assign to the phases of Earth’s closest neighbor and dearest friend, we must remember that there is always beauty in our moon, no matter what face she shows us.
We need to be able to find that sort of beauty in ourselves and one another. May our new president inspire us. May we find the courage to act upon that inspiration.
After a long time spent nurturing seedlings of thought and possibility, I am watching some of my work begin to blossom into the world. I have had the luxury of sticking close to the shelter of the earth, playing with concepts and ideas without risking their exposure to the elements of risk. But now, I realize I am not sticking so close to the underbrush. It is time to move outward.
For one thing, this blog has called to more readers, and while we are still a small, intimate community, I feel the pull of those who enjoy my presence here each day (thanks to all of you for the encouragement and receptivity!).
My healing work is beginning to take a new, vital shape. I find that I want and need to take loving ownership of what I am learning. I want to find the courage and the confidence to share my growing skills with the world. I am getting involved with a related business, a product I really believe in, and am both excited and a little nervous to see where all this will take me.
The productive serenity of the last week at home, when desire was my only guide, really represents the quietness that has surrounded me for the last few years. Plenty has been shifting and quaking under the surface, but externally, things mostly moved along at manageable pace.
Now I find myself back at work, immersed in my public life even as these “extracurricular” elements are reaching new and demanding heights. Some places are not so private anymore as I become willing to take the leap and put myself out there in support of my passions and my vision.
And so I decided that inertia would be my friend. I would become the woman in motion most likely to stay in motion since I could not risk a pause, lest the series of new spinning stars should slip from their orbits. In the past, all of the inner work I did just begot more inner work. Now it seems to becoming time that the outer work should lead me further toward the sun.
“Inertia” was lingering near the front of my brain because Anodea Judith uses it when she talks about the third chakra, the yellow chakra of fire, in her book Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System. She talks about the way that a fire that begins to burn will most likely continue to grow. All I could think about as I began to feel so full of all these new projects was that I needed that fire to roar and sustain me through all of my various ventures. I wanted energy to flow through my fingertips and enliven every moment. I’d fit in exercise in the thirty minutes before bed if I needed to, and if I needed to sleep less, I would do that too.
Then I sat down to write this tonight and I remember how much I love and crave the quiet, meandering process of collecting my thoughts in this space each day. Sitting at my beloved desk with a cat on my lap has little to do with a constantly increasing conflagration in my already busy mind. Something didn’t add up, so I went back to Judith’s book and read a little more closely.
The third chakra, in her view, is all about inertia, but it is also about the will. Inertia, even the kind that keeps you moving and productive, is not necessarily a good thing. Inertia is a kind of oblivious momentum that has little to do with consciousness and everything to do with feeling powerless. How many people suffer from being chronically driven overachievers not because they are enjoying being so good at everything, but because they are terrified to slow down and see what really may lurk within their usually frantic minds? It takes strength of the will to overcome these unconscious forces and summon energy when it is needed and call upon silence when it is time for stillness.
These are lessons I have learned and thought were deeply rooted in my core. This slowing down over the last couple of years was a hard won process that enabled me to listen and be after years of running around like a woman desperately afraid to fail. Suddenly, I wanted to throw all that work away for the sake of increased efficiency the moment a few projects seemed to be taking on new life.
In the face of all my excitement that was fueled by such confidence in my freshly forged sense of wholeness, I nearly lost sight of my integrity and my truth before I even began.
I said that I wanted to align my priorities in 2009. I decided “align” was preferable to “balance” because balance seems to be all about a crazy dance between opposites. And yet, I think I must realize that though I treasure alignment as an ideal, we have so little control over things in life, even the growth of our own dreams, and we must allow things to flow as they will.
Sometimes balancing the competing beasts of possibility is the best we can do. As I look upon all that I wish to accomplish, I think I can embrace balance as a fine strategy for the moment. It certainly beats losing myself to the fires of inertia and being burnt to a crisp!
Tonight was my writing group’s holiday dinner. A mightily different crowd of people from my healing class, but a sweet and generous atmosphere all the same. I am the youngest in the group by a good twenty years, with the majority of the women already enjoying a well deserved retirement. There is talk of grandchildren and good therapists and the best female Episcopalian ministers, and, of course, books that change lives.
When asked about how my novel was going, I hesitated because, truth be told, fiction has taken a back seat to my healing work and my spiritual explorations and the words that I scatter here. For all my talk of integrating the self and walking around with a whole perspective, I suddenly found it difficult to marry my worlds.
There wasn’t the luxury of time or space to explain this whole other aspect of myself to a group of laughing ladies sipping champagne. They know me as the girl who writes stories about a painter of churches who struggles with his marriage and his faith. Smiling and nodding, they moved on to talk of waters more easily navigated, more updates on people they had known since their now grown children were small.
It certainly was not disinterest or rudeness that kept them from asking what sort of healing I do. I realized quickly, that for all their worldliness and their fascination with the human experience, energy healing was unfamiliar territory and required an introduction in a different setting. In the same spirit, to a group generally still wary of computers, mentioning that I kept a blog might not mean an awful lot.
Tonight was a valuable lesson for me in the art of carrying around a complete sense of self, but being alright with the fact that some people are tuned into smaller slices of who I am. To walk around constantly needing to flaunt my wholeness and announce myself as a writer and a healer and a spiritual seeker and a person with a library operations manager is just too much stuff – both for a business card and for polite conversation. All of those things are just details anyway – important details that describe how I spend my time, but details all the same that can never describe the true essence of who I am.
Still, I came home with a full belly and a slightly confused head. How will I sew the various remnants of my life together? It is one thing to know that it is not necessary for colleagues to understand the changes in my life – if they notice anything it might be that my rougher edges have been smoothed. But in a social situation, it is a little different to realize that it will be challenging to explain my shifts in priorities and talk about the things that truly matter to me.
I know that it will just take patience, and that I should not expect all of my revelations (understanding myself as a healer, as someone who communicates to people in a space like this) to take root in a week.
Isn’t one of the first lessons of writing “show, don’t tell“? When I walk through life wearing a cloak stitched with the wisdom I have gathered on my new path, I think I’ll find these worries will have flown with the moths that chewed up my old disguises.
The internet is, quite simply, the new town square. Nothing more and nothing less, and in that square, there are utter idiots yelling at the tops of their lungs about crap, but there are small tables surrounded by people having true, powerful discourse. There are people handing out pamphlets. People on soap boxes. And then there are people strolling through, feeling a bit more alive, a bit more connected just by observing.
BlissChick has unwittingly become my muse of late. The above is her comment on yesterday’s post about self promotion, the strange necessity that we creative types have to come to grips with if we want to be heard about the chattering crowd.
She paints such a brilliant picture – I can see myself in this square. I want to be one of those people sitting at one of those tables, engaged in the sorts of conversations that change lives. The talk would be so brilliant that my companions and I can tune out the blowhards and the fear mongers and the endless trails of paparazzi fueled gossip.
At the same time, I remember thinking that this is a great metaphor, but I’ve never been a part of a town square like that, at least not in this country. In Europe I think I have been one of those passersby, enlivened by watching the locals acting out their lives in one of those bustling public spaces. Here in the States, however, those town squares, if they exist at all, may fill up for the Fourth of July parade, but otherwise remain a little forlorn, no longer the heart of the community.
It seems like the Internet came in to fill a serious void that we may all have been experiencing for quite a while. How long has it been since we lived in lively villages where expression and relationship ruled the day? Part of me wonders if those places every really existed, until I recall our friends’ more than idyllic village, Dornburg in eastern Germany. There, it might have become a wee bit claustrophobic, but it was incredible to walk the narrow lanes and know that everyone knew everyone else’s name.
Somehow I think I had myself convinced that blogging and all this virtual communication was somehow suspect, that this new means of communication had somehow stamped out a more vivid personal set of interactions. I worried that it was a pale facsimile of something better and more pure that once existed before. In fact, the ways that people communicate has always been in flux and rather than being the destructive force, the Internet gives us new ways to talk to each other that never would have been possible in the confines of a tiny town square. (I never read this book, but the title comes to mind when I start dipping into the topic of isolation and disconnection in American society.)
I know that none of these are new revelations, but one of the main functions of this this blog is help me really understand what might have seemed so obvious but which needed closer examination so that I could truly know. After months of writing in this space it is probably strange that I am only coming to peace with this practice now, but I suppose everything has to blossom and take root in its own time.
What can we do to make the conversations that we have on these far-flung flickering screens come to life in our offline worlds? How can we breath life into all of the community spaces we inhabit?
The ever brilliant BlissChick sent me a note with some suggestions that might help me bring more readers to my itsy bitsy corner of the virtual world. She made some great points in a gentle and generous fashion that have really set me thinking about everything from my blog platform to my means of expression (long tangly sentences anyone?).
It also got me thinking about self promotion.
A chat with a friend today brought this phrase to my attention. At first it seemed like a real turn off. A bizarre behavior exhibited by salesmen who constantly passed out business cards.
When I realized that maintaining a blog and trying to increase readership is one big game of self promotion I started to feel a little sick. What have I been doing? Selling myself like some tattooed contestant on Rock of Love?
Of course, we engage in self promotion in countless ways – writing a resume, creating a Facebook account, telling others about our trades as healers or carpenters or pastry chefs. There are famous authors out there who wrote in isolation, only being published posthumously, but they are few and far between. Now, the artists and writers we know are also clever business people. If one enjoys recognition for her creativity it often means that the creator is engaging in some very conscious practices aimed at attracting an audience.
When I finally absorbed the shock that this Girl Who Cried Epiphany wants to engage in some self promotion of her own, I could follow my friend through a conversation about the way that this online world is shaping our vision of community.
As a 29 year old who came of age when AOL chat rooms were cool places to be, I don’t have a real perspective on how the Internet has shaped the way we engage in our passions and communicate our interests and talents.
What do we gain and what do we lose by typing daily snippets aimed at eliciting immediate responses from strangers rather than shaping a novel that, even if it published, promises to keep readers at arm’s length?
Was the spiritual quest more powerful when it was about solitary contemplation and some thoughts jotted in a journal rather than these endless field notes written not just as a record of personal experience, but as a product of some kind to be devoured by others?
Before I go spinning off to ask a million different questions sparked by this train of thought, I must return to this discussion of this grassroots movement to get our ideas and visions into the public sphere.
Is it a little frightening that we live in a culture where everyone needs to broadcast his or her stories, be they about last night’s pub crawl or the antics of the pet chihuahuas or a successful meditation session? Yes, I think it is – if we are just obsessed with spewing the unprocessed content of our lives into the electronic world as a substitute for actually being present.
BUT, I think there can be great power found in this ability to craft our lives and passions into narratives that help both writer and reader understand a little more about what it means to be human, if we do it with a liberal helping of consciousness.
My friend made the great point that, in this age of consumerism, as we watch the rise and fall of the big box stores, blogs and this non-commercialized version of self promotion is actually incredibly healthy and necessary. Bring on the Etsy sites and the late night scribblings – it is our best (and cheapest) way to stand against a monochromatic culture that is sold in bulk at a Black Friday sale.