Thursday, September 30, 2010

Right Now, Brand New

During the Erich Schiffmann workshop, he said something that has stuck with me all these weeks.

He said it is not a lifetime of discipline or even a week or a month or a type or a system, but that it is Right NOW.

Meaning: We do not have to do any specific thing for any set amount of time.  We just have to realize our true nature right now.  It's not something to seek and find.  It already is.

I know this is pretty basic stuff but the way he talked about it really got to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I was learning about listening to my intuition and spontaneously attended Mass.  When I do this, I often hear things as if for the first time and it happened that miscellaneous Monday.

I heard, "...but only say the word and I shall be healed."

Regardless of the theology underlying this or your own beliefs, I was struck by how much it was the same thing that Erich was saying -- right now, with One Word, I can just be Whole, Realized, Fully Me.

Then the other day, Christine over at Abbey of the Arts posted a familiar Rumi poem and it was the beginning that felt like the final installment in this particular lesson:

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like somebody suddenly born into color.
Do it now.


Right...I am brand new.  Time to accept it and move on.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Rainy Day to Be Left Home Alone

(The three "Fresh Ones" as we call Toby, Daisy, and Lilly, who are all 2 years old and under.)

Right now, that orange cat is playing like a nut bag with a new toy mouse.  Daisy is lounging and watching her best friend/brother.  Lilly is sitting in a nearby window; I can't see her but I can hear her beeps, as she talks to an outdoor rabbit sitting in the rain soaked garden out back.

Elsewhere in this house, there sleeps the crazy elder cat, Emily, and two indoor rabbits are quietly (as they do everything) munching some morning hay.

I am listening to a playlist we call "Happy Chant."  It is rather dark in the house and looks to rain all day.

Appropriate.  I sit here wondering what the next approximately three weeks will bring while Marcy is in Italy.  She left fifteen minutes ago, headed to Cleveland and her flight to NYC. She will leave for Milan at dinner time today.  I will not sleep until I know her feet have touched Italian soil.

I am an introvert, for sure, and need a lot of downtime, yes, but that downtime is usually with Marcy, the person who keeps me tethered.

I have lists of things to do and people who will be checking on me and books to read and certainly enough teaching/work to keep me busy, but it is the evenings that will be hardest.

Okay...I am now done whining about this.  Back to regular programming here at the Blisschick...

And back to my imported Italian espresso.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hawk Medicine

This morning as I sat and sipped some espresso, checking my email and wondering what the heck I was going to write here, I heard a lot of bird anger coming from our back yard.  Finally, the yelling penetrated the part of my brain that was awake and reminded me to get outside...there is probably a hawk nearby.

There was.  I stood out back, looking toward the tree from which most of the raucous was emanating, and sure enough, a big, beautiful Red Tail swooped down and out of that tree and headed South.  He was too fast, and by the time I ran to the front yard, he was gone.

I've written about Red Tails here before.  They are one of my life Totems.

The picture above is not from this morning but from earlier this summer, during a walk in the city cemetery.  The blurry nature of it seemed fitting to my mood.

Red Tails are often hanging about to remind us that we need to see farther.  Wider.  Bigger.  They are also associated with balance and kundalini energy.

The balance part of their message has never stood out to me before, but it's exactly what I am in need of.

Right now, in many places on these interwebs, there is a lot of discussion about balance as a bad thing.  I understand this but I think people are mistaken in some of the ways they define balance.  These writers often assert that balance means a life without passion because it means always being calm -- like that British poster "Keep Calm & Carry On."


Balance, though, just means knowing what is right for you and keeping your priorities straight at all times.

I am a highly emotional sort of person, lots of Big Passion in this animal.  But in order not to self-immolate with all of this internal fire, I need soothing waters in my life.  I need down time.  I need time to process.

Right now, I teach something somewhere seven days a week.  Too much fire.

I do not dance enough because I am tired from teaching.  Too little water.

Ironically, I am teaching a college composition class around the theme of digital media and our relationship to it.  And I feel like my relationship to this whole online world has a lot to do with my imbalance, but I am a bit afraid of what it means to admit that.

So enter Hawk.

What is his message exactly?  Am I ready and willing to hear?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

With Autumn Comes Italy

(Does the Extreme Cute of Toby and Daisy just make you want to vomit!?)

Happy Autumn Equinox to those of you who live with me in the Northern Hemisphere!  This is truly my favorite time of the year.  I have started to transition the house -- sitting out and using more candles, changing up the mantle place, listening to different sorts of music, piling blankets up everywhere for all of us -- but this Autumn comes with something a bit strange.

Marcy will leave this coming Tuesday for three weeks in Italy with her mother, her aunt, and a friend of her aunt's.  They lost their fourth wheel months ago and invited Marcy.  This is a truly amazing opportunity, as it is being gifted to her.

But in all our 16 years together, we have never been apart for more than just a week.  And that was difficult!

While she is gone, we will, actually, celebrate that 16th anniversary apart.  ((sad face))

While she is gone, I am hoping to stay sane by focusing on a multitude of projects, including some cleaning through spaces and getting rid of oh, so many objects.

It seems fitting for Autumn, doesn't it?  To shed the unnecessary and get our nests ready for the hibernation coming our way.

I am not sure how helpful the rabbits and cats will be, but they are cute and that is something.  And they are good listeners and they supply hugs...which I will be in desperate need of.

OH! And on a side note: I am happy happy happy to announce that with this season I seem to have regained my ability to get lost in and tear through NOVELS!  YAY!  And I have read some good ones in a short amount of time, including Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad.  What great books have you read lately?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Music to Embody Your Bliss

No matter what is going on if I obey the first rule of embodying my bliss, there is no remaining in these awful places.

First rule?  Turn on music and stand and breathe.  Something will happen.  There's no way around it.  Soon, I am moving, and soon after that, the yuck is flowing out of me, replaced by light, clarity, and calm.  Movement is my Meditation.

Here's some of the most recent music that is really working for me.

Turn it up.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Whispered Yes

(NOTE: Please. I am not, as I have said before, writing this material so you can say, "Poor thing..."  I am writing in as transparent a way as possible so that others who are suffering can see they are not alone.  That even this person who writes blisschick, who loves her life, who has dance and yoga and music and cats and rabbits and a wonderful partner and friends...even this person is still struggling and some days, some weeks are way harder than others.  This does not, though, exclude the possibility of Daily Joy.)

This was a temporary tattoo that Marcy put on the inside of my left wrist a few weeks ago, and it's the tattoo that I really should get first, if I am going to ever take that permanent step.

I need this reminder daily, if not sometimes hourly...if not sometimes every second.

On Sunday, when I taught the Kundalini class that I talked about in the previous post, one of two messages I "received" toward the end of class, during some meditative time, was that I must dance and do yoga every minute that I physically can afford.

I was shown a flash of red shoes and told, for me, they were not a path to insanity but to sanity and joy.

It was in that shortcut-y way that your subconscious can send you messages.  At least, that is how my subconscious can work.

When I got this message, I knew with my whole being that it was Truth.  For now.  Like, maybe, I need to treat my physical work like this for a few months or maybe a year or maybe for the rest of my life.  The larger point is that I know of and possess the Key to my own Healthy & Happiness (of every single sort).

Then on Wednesday I went to Mass for a Marian Feast Day -- Our Lady of Sorrows to be precise.  The young priest was marvelous and spoke of my favorite thing about Mary -- that resounding YES that she answers even in light of the sorrows to come.

And yet, my NO has been so strong lately and with that comes some shame...which is not helpful in the least.

Have I heeded that vision from Kundalini class?  No.

Do I use that Key?  No.


My head is full of anger and sadness and stories.  Story after story.  I am aware of them; that is a big step, yes.  BUT...But...they are still there and they are persistent like the waves at our Lake's beaches, washing away the shoreline that we replenish Spring after Spring only to have it eroded again and again.

They are awful stories.

There are a lot of them right now about my body.  I look at my healthy, beautiful body and canNOT see her for herself.  I see imperfections, flaws, fat.

I tell myself, "This is part of your illness...this is not real..."

Yet they continue.

There are stories about my lack of success; there are stories about the usual suspects -- lazy, stupid, etc.; there are stories about getting older.  On and on and on...

I am sure some of these are also yours and I am sure you have many of your own.

It is Autumn here.  I love Autumn.  I love the temperatures and the towering clouds and the way the Lake turns to a deeper and darker blue after so many months of being washed out by the summer sun.  I love the smells and I love the cuddling and I love the candles and I even have come to love the dark.  I love Halloween and the Day of the Dead and there is my birthday in late November...

I love the leaves and their crunch under my feet.

But with that crunch and with the rest of it, something dark and deep is unlocked within my brain every year at this time. Some of the worst things that have ever happened to me happened at the time of leaf crunching.

I am transported to a time of great fear by a sound which I absolutely love.

It gets confusing in this heart of mine at this time of year.

All of this...the red shoes, the key, the stories, the leaves, the good, the is all a part of me right at this moment.  At all moments, yes, but right now, my defenses are a bit worn.

Tonight, I will teach Kundalini again...and I will remain, as always, optimistic and open hearted to the possibility of the Greater Knowing that can come with doing what we are meant to do.

Though I can feel beaten down, the optimism has always remained.

And I, ultimately, have always, every time, chosen that YES.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radical Honesty

(Lovely, kitschy Mary photo courtesy of Marcy since I am having computer issues.)

A while ago, I took a wee bloggy break for the first time in over two years of blogging almost daily, and when I came back, I announced a new Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule.  I am still aiming for that in my head, but then...

My head can get in the way.

Whatever you want to label me (or yourself) -- whether it be depression or anxiety or Complex-PTSD -- whatever you want to label me (or yourself), this work I am doing is damn hard and I am not always very good at it.

I have days when I feel like it is all behind me.  I have days when I feel a bit like Super Woman and anything and everything is surmountable.  Every jump is jumpable.  I am on top of the World.  I have scaled the mountain.

This is not Mania I am talking about.  No, not at all.  This is just that precious space we sometimes occupy (some of us more than most) that might be most appropriately labeled Normal Human Joy in Living.  You know -- where you feel like you are where you are meant to be and the breathing is easy.  When you feel like you are Aware and Awake.

When you feel like, sure, there is Hard Work every day but so what?  I can, We can do this.

Then there are these Other Days...

They are fewer and farther between, that is certain.  They are less bad when they do come.

But my Good is so much Better than it ever has been that "less bad" still feels utterly rotten when compared.

It's all relative.

This past weekend, I had some of these Other Days.  I had been triggered severely earlier in the week.  Marcy and I talked it through, and I thought, "Look. At. Us. Using our new skills and not collapsing under the weight of what used to feel like could kill me..."

But Complex-PTSD is tricky, and there was residue, for lack of a better word, still floating around in my psyche.

This happens.  Suddenly -- or so it seems -- I feel like I am filled with the Poison of Fear that is No Longer Real.  This Poison is a metaphor, yes, but it also has a very real and physical feeling to it -- a feeling that I become utterly desperate to be cleansed of.  The anger builds and the Poison spreads and soon I am not of my Mind in this Beautiful Moment.

Soon I am of the Mind of the Fearful and Powerless Child.

The sadness and grief are so overwhelming that there are these moments when I am so submerged that I am convinced that this time I will drown.

I do not.

This past weekend, what saved me?

Teaching what I needed.

That has never meant more to me ever before in my life.  How true it is -- the Saving Grace of Teaching what we Need.

I had to show up to a Kundalini Yoga & Movement class.  If anything, I am someone compelled very strongly by obligation.  But I did not have a clue as to how I would make it through this class.

I started by simply going through the motions, because that was all I had access to.  And then...I followed an intuition to do something slightly different.  I did it, and before I knew it, the stuff coming out of my mouth about our Heart Centers was exactly the medicine that I needed.

I could feel the Poison washing out of my, pouring out of me, as my Heart expanded and my teachings just flowed.  Toward the end, as I continued to just follow those intuitions, to be guided, I led some pranayama with imagery and I was open enough to receive some Wisdom that I desperately needed.

Wisdom that, without Kundalini yoga, I would never have been open enough to hear.  Wisdom that was so crystal clear that I knew it came from something much larger than me, this little me that still gets confused, that is still suffering, that is Existentially Injured (to borrow a wonderful phrase) but has had enough glimpses of her True Self -- thanks to Dance and Yoga -- that I keep going, working toward that Emerald Green Light that is never gone, only clouded over.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Some Fruit from My Time with Erich Schiffmann

These are my feet as prepared by Marcy for my workshop with Erich Schiffmann this past weekend.  I am thinking that the temporary tattoo of heart with wings will some day soon have to become a permanent thing, but I am a bit of a 'fraidy cat, never having gotten a tattoo...much less some place so tender.  (And yes, that is a small heart on my right big toe...not a scary mole.)

The workshop itself was packed with stuff that I am still...unpacking.

But there are some Big Things that happened for me surrounding the workshop.  Sorta like Meta-Workshop lessons.

In no particular order:
  • I hate to travel but I stayed really calm and centered, dare I say, relaxed?  Marcy had gotten me some Agatha Christie on CD and this sustained me even when it was raining so hard that it was like Winter time whiteout conditions.
  • I do not like going places I have never been, but this time, I just did it.  And I was sorta responsible for another person.  A friend from Erie followed me in her car (as I was headed to my sister's house after the workshop and not going directly home), and I pretty much mapped out (literally and metaphorically) our whole weekend.
  • BIGGEST DEAL OF ALL?  I was completely off the computer for FOUR DAYS.  Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but remember, I am a Geek and the Internet is my Israel (to quote Sarah Vowell).  Not only did I stay off the computer when I had a chance to be on it, but I did not even think about getting on...Or I thought about it for a brief second and then thought, NAH...ICK!
Now that I am back, I am having a hard time with all the frantic energy of the internet.

I am still also processing some thoughts that came out of what Erich was talking about:
  • Oh, right, I thought part way through the second day, you can totally dedicate yourself to, immerse yourself in the Thing You Love More than Anything Else and then just do your work and allow whatever is going to happen to happen.  This may seem elementary but it is rather Huge.  I get thinking that the things I love are just not "enough" and so I end up saying Yes when I should say No and vice versa.
  • If yoga is about realizing we are already yoked because the Infinite and the current "eruption" (Erich's word) that is Us in the Finite are one and the same, then what is all the freaking fuss about Types of Yoga and the Rights and the Wrongs?  Do your own and zip it!  If this is the true nature of yoga, then unless you are talking specifically about asana when you say "yoga," the external can be different for every single person.  My "main yoga" is dance.  It unites me/yokes me with who I really am.
Furthermore, much of "yoga" is moving toward dance.  Erich has his "freedom yoga," and when he talks about it, all I hear is Gabrielle Roth.  Shiva Rea is doing Trance Dance within Yoga, and it makes me think of Dunya.

It's all about Intent, people.
  • Erich also spoke of meditation not being "mental flat lining."  Which a lot of people think it is, and I wonder about the point of that...  Schiffmann believes the ultimate point of meditation should be listening, opening up to the larger consciousness.  I agree, but I would take it a step further and say that it doesn't have to look the same for everyone.  I meditate within movement.
Moving meditation puts me in the eye of my storm and allows for a clarity way beyond that which happens when I am sitting and my feet are falling asleep.

I'm still thinking about all of this and know that I am not articulating what is in my mind and heart the way that it needs to be articulated.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Like a French Fry in Yellow Springs

I don't know how many times I'll have to re-learn this, but after a workshop, I am FRIED.  Like, deep fried.  All crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside.

I know that my time in Yellow Springs with Erich Schiffmann was short, but it was definitely deep.

Here I am talking to him and looking way too freaking serious. But Marcy says that is what sort of animal I am -- serious.

See?  Way too serious...

But here I am, later that evening, with Lisa from Nerdy Renegade.  We met up for dinner and laughter and deep talk of the non-fried variety!

See?  Smiles are good!  And so is a new pink scarf with orange balls!

That is as deeply as I can write for a couple of days.  I'll be back with more of what actually happened.

For now, I leave you with Erich's mantra:

Big Mind is My Mind.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Workshop Excitement!

Many years ago, when I first started investigating yoga, I was lucky enough to come across this video.  (A video -- now in DVD -- that I still highly recommend for many reasons.)

Then I found this book.

And now, today, as you read this, I am driving to a workshop with this man.

I am like some Fan Girl and more than a bit GEEKED about learning, in person, from Erich Schiffmann.

Oh, my.

I am headed to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to listen to his wise teachings spoken in his mellow voice in person!

I am not fond of travel; I am not fond of leaving home in general.

But this is worth it and it is another step in my year of embodiment, of fully stepping into this person I have always been but have finally become.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WHERE Did I Put My Head!?

After months of agonizing and then some time spent just patiently waiting, I finally got the name for my "business" and then the logo came to me during a prayer/meditation session with Mary.  I think this image speaks volumes to people immediately.  I am pleased.

After it came to me, I went right to work on brochures and posters and all of that, feeling pretty darn energized by the "rightness" of it all.


Then I seemed to misplace my Head.

This always happens.  I start to feel some momentum and then it stops.  It just Stops.

There are various ways it stops.

Usually, I do something to put a roadblock in my way.

This time, I took on some college composition teaching at the very last minute.  I only had about three days to get ready to teach a subject I had not taught in many years.  Three days to come up with a theme and create a calendar and get started on assignments.  Three days also to get all the security for the school I am teaching at, which is a bit like Fort Knox.  (I am teaching at the local campus of my Alma Mater.)

And now we are in the second week of the semester already and I am exhausted.  Ex. Hausted.

The stress was huge.

The story that I started to tell myself, though, is more dangerous (and more exhausting) than the stress.

I started to tell myself that I had somehow gotten way off track, that I was lost, that I was confused, that I was not living the life I wanted to be living.

On my first day of class, on the drive over to the campus, which is outside our small city, I was almost to the school, when out of nowhere a huge Red Tail Hawk swept down in front of the car.

The Red Tail is one of my life totems and he was there to remind me of something I was forgetting.

He was saying, "Um, HELLO!?"  (He's a smart ass.)  "Um, yeah, remember the BIG PICTURE!?!  Hello!?  You took on THIS teaching to specifically support your dancing and teaching dreams!!  This is money for trainings or for advertising or for SPACE!!  Get a freaking grip!"

Oh, right, thanks, Giant (smart ass) Bird.

It also turns out that I am still very good at this teaching college comp thing.  And that my students are rather...wonderful (unexpectedly!).

((Picking up my head and putting it back on))

Story can get in the way.

Or not.  Here's the new (and TRUE) story: I am teaching college comp because I am good at it and it comes naturally to me and so I don't have to totally angst over it and it can provide me with these other opportunities to expand my "real" work -- dancing and yoga and teaching dance and yoga and creating new methods to help other sufferers of Complex PTSD to reunite with their bodies and their most fulfilled lives.

THAT is worth the doing, I would say.