Friday, April 29, 2011

Sometimes Just Because...

Within the chaotic din of poverty and anger and tragedy and hate that can wash over us daily, we need reasons to celebrate beauty, love, and hope.

I would rather pay for a wedding than a war.

Every Spring, It's the Same Old Thing...

Our smallest narcissus in the yard

Things I love about Springtime are obvious, right?

The warm returning, the feel of grass under my feet, going to visit the lake and not freezing, the chartreuse greens, the flowers, the flowers, and did I mention the flowers?

The profusion, the lustiness of it all.

And yet...

Springtime is my least favorite season for how it makes me feel -- physically, emotionally, mentally, all of it.

Every spring, as we open the windows and the outside world comes pouring in, I get tired, confused, over/underwhelmed, spaced out, unmotivated, as well as restless, filled with anxiety, wanderlust-y, energized but not knowing where to put or how to use that energy.

And lately, of course, in many parts of this country, Springtime has been at her most bi-polar. The weather has been violent, and we do get some of that, though not like elsewhere. (Insert prayers for those living in the South...)

Do you have a hard time with this season? Do you have ways you help yourself to adjust?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Messy Leadership

This is an exciting week for a friend, as she launches her very first e-workbook and learning circle.

There are a lot of e-products out there, as you know, but what I love about Heather's work is that it is specific to a real need: It aims to help leaders get more creative, allow for mess, open up the tight box from which they work and make others work.

What did you say? You're not a "leader?"  You're probably wrong about that.  Whether you are the literal leader at your place of employment or you are someone who needs to better learn to lead themselves and be an example for others or you are one of the lucky ones working for yourself...this workbook is packed with wisdom and exercises to push you to new levels of exploration and discovery within your field, whatever that field may be.

Well written, well paced, and well packaged, the workbook alone is worth much more than Heather is charging, and there are options to work in a learning circle or work directly with Heather, a woman who is a library of information and inspiration.

Go here for all the information and note that you can download the first eight pages for FREE to get a taste.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do You Red Shoe?

First, I just want to say thank you for all the responses to my video interview. Doing that video and getting over the fear of putting it out there has opened up whole worlds for me.  So, again, thank you.  (And in case you have no idea what I am talking about, here is a direct link to it.)

I see it a lot online.

Women artists who go in and out of Manic States of Creation.  They seem literally High on Something, and then, inevitably, they crash. Announce yet another "blogging break" because they have no sense of balance. No idea of deep self care.

And then on my retreat, one of my Big Moments of DUH was that I was Red Shoe-ing myself in my dance practice.

I had been starved of my Love, my Passion for so long that I was gorging.

I realized that I was frantically trying to "catch up." With what? Myself?

I found some wisdom in the Red Shoe chapter of Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run with the Wolves:

"...when the treasure of a woman's most soulful life has been burned to ashes, instead of being driven by anticipation, a woman is possessed by voraciousness. So, for instance, if a woman wasn't permitted to sculpt, she may suddenly begin to sculpt day and night, lose sleep, deprive her innocent body of nutrition, impair her health, and who knows what else...for who knows how long she will be free."

Therein lies the fear that drives the Red Shoes, the Manic Frenzies...

Who knows how long we will be free?

We fear the cage will descend again.  We fear the shoes, the paint brushes, the writing paper will be taken and burned again.

But the thing is, WE are now in control.  We are the ones who decide our lives.  We are in charge of us!

Perhaps, then, it's time to relax into it.  Time to trust that there is time.  Trust that inspiration will remain, that the shoes can wait while we take care of our bodies, hearts, and souls.

Furthermore, only by taking care of those things will we not dance ourselves into wraiths.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Way We Keep Ourselves Stuck

A tree near my B&B at Chautauqua

I have been in one of those places lately (pre-retreat and post-retreat) where I walk around constantly saying, "I am frustrated; I am confused...what am I doing..."

You can imagine what FUN! I am when I am in this mood. (Poor Marcy...)

The other day, I realized I hadn't been journaling as much as I was while on retreat. And by "as much as I was," I mean, "barely at all."

So I opened my journal, got out my pen, and VOILA!  SOLVED MY PROBLEM!

Ahhh...the magic of doing what needs to be done.

I wrote this sentence and it felt like it came from above. It was so obvious, and yet, I was not thinking of it when I was walking around talking and complaining. (Imagine...)

The sentence then....(drum roll)...

I am frustrated because I am focusing on Wrong Things and then judging myself based on expectations that arise from said Focus on Wrong Things.

Again with the DUH!

I focus on things over which I have no control, like student enrollment or numbers of readers.  You know, the sorts of things with which we bludgeon ourselves because we are certain that they will inflict just the right amount of damage.

And what is the "right amount of damage?" You know, the amount that keeps us from working on the things over which we do have control, the stuff that would use our True Power.  The stuff that would let us shine.  That would make us...feel good about ourselves.

Here's how I will be dealing with this for now: At the beginning of the day, in my journal, I will write down what Right Things I will focus on for that day.

Wrong Things be damned!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Did a Giant Scary Thing & You Get to See!


You know that I have lots of issues about being seen.  I have old, crappy issues with never feeling pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough or anything enough.  But I am working on all of that diligently, to say the least.

But it is also still blocking me from taking my work up a level or TEN.

Like, I know I need to make videos.  I know I need to put myself out there on a whole other level of honesty.  But I haven't been able to make myself.

Then my dear friend, Heather, comes along and asks me to do a soul-bearing interview...via Skype.  VIDEO!!!  AHHHHH!!!!!

Alas, it was posted today.  And it turns out, it was an awesome, eye-opening thing to do!

Go! Watch it...right here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Perfect Love Drives Out ALL Fear

The few things I took for my bedside table

Today is Good Friday, and I will spend it primarily thinking about the absolute, unconditional, perfect love of Mary, and how I might learn from her how to love better, fuller, deeper.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Devotion is My Rest

The chair by the lamp & gas fireplace where I read & journaled

I had one of my biggest realizations of my retreat while still enjoying my first day away from all the noise, clutter, and running of my recent days.

My faith, my devotion...these are my Rest!

I often ask people how they rejuvenate, how they get rest, how they come back to themselves and feel renewed, and I want more than a "salt bath" sort of answer. I knew, instinctively, that there had to be more, something deeper than salt baths, massages, tea...the usual answers to my questions.

I have a prayer life; I go to Mass very regularly; I light candles; I read.

But I do all of this like I have been doing the other things in my life -- quickly and with more obligation than is respectful of anything important.

I had started to even relegate my devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe to a few minutes, a few times a week.  If at all.

But on my retreat, I ended up reading nothing but devotional books. Upon leaving for retreat, I thought I would read more a combination of that and dance related materials.

But once I started reading books like this one, my brain was so relaxed, so happy to have this food again.  And my heart was even happier.

This is a major way my days have changed. I get up, go for a walk, come home, make espresso, and get out Thomas Merton (or whatever is on my list at the moment), read, and then journal.

I start my day not by diving into all the noise that is social media but by diving into my heart and spirit.  I start my day at peace, rested and ready.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Walking: What a (NOT) Terrible Way to Travel & Other Elementary Duh Moments

My favorite shrink wrapped hotel
(Note: I know a lot of people have never gone on a retreat or they are nervous about it or just don't understand the point of I thought writing about my experience in some detail would be just the push some of you might need to give yourself this gift.)

The story behind the title of this post:

When Marcy and I were still car free, we were riding the bus one day to run some errands that were impossible on our bikes.  Here in this small city, the bus population is not...diverse like it is in bigger cities.  Here in this small city, the bus population tends to be of the lower economic strata and people with mental illness and, at the time, Marcy and me.  We were car free out of choice, and though I might be quirky, to say the least, I was the Queen of Mental Health compared to most of those with whom we shared our bus rides.

We were on our way home in a busy part of town.  Outside the bus, someone was walking.

A woman at the front of the bus, very loudly and gruffly proclaimed upon seeing the walking human, "WALKIN'!  What a terrible way to travel!"

Since then, often, when we see walkers, we tend to yell that and giggle.

As I have mentioned, the first thing I did after settling into my retreat space was to take a walk down to the water, whereupon I immediately had my First Cluster of Duh.

Duh Number One:

My body loves to walk. Contrary to what that woman thought of it, walkin' is, indeed, not a terrible way to travel at all.

As I walked, I realized that I very rarely, since returning to dance, do anything physical that A) does not have a "purpose" (i.e., exercise, creating movement, teaching); or B) does not exhaust me.

I enjoyed this thing called Walking Just to Walk.

And my body LOVED it.  I could move and stretch and oil these joints in a way that was relaxed and loving and kind to my body.  Imagine!

Which leads to...

Duh Number Two:

I realized that I have been Red Shoe-ing myself.  Frantic, frenzied, frenetic...those have been me.  There are a lot of reasons for this and I'm sure I'll be writing about this Red Shoe concept more, but suffice it to say, that I am learning my lesson.

Duh Number Three:

The sound of water heals me.  Instantly.  We live on a Great Lake, so how can I forget this?

But I have been moving so fast lately that I don't take the time to be at the Lake. It has turned into a treat when it should be a regular meal.

Duh Number Four:

I like quiet.  I did not know real quiet.  I thought I had quiet.

Again, we live in a small city, so relative to other, bigger places, it is quiet.  But the quiet of Chautauqua off season is a whole other beast.  A kind and gentle beast. I could hear my own thoughts because of this quiet.  My ears got the rest that I didn't even know they needed.

Some of you probably know exactly what I am talking about because you are great lovers of being out in nature, but I am a city girl who feels freaked out in the woods (like many country girls feel freaked out in the city), and I just had no idea...

That is why places like Chautauqua are perfect for me. It feels like a little town, so I am not isolated but I get the peace.

Duh Number Five:

I like not having access to a computer.  Yep.  You heard me right.  I liked having NO COMPUTER.  It was amazing.  There were a couple of times when I wanted to Facebook some amazing quote, but other than that, I didn't even think about the computer or miss it for one, freaking second.

And all of that from one short walk!

These realizations, you will be happy to know, have already changed the very structure and substance of my daily life, and I know they will continue to change how I approach my work.

QUIET! I Can Hear Myself Think!

The left side of my lovely retreat room

(Note: I know a lot of people have never gone on a retreat or they are nervous about it or just don't understand the point of I thought writing about my experience in some detail would be just the push some of you might need to give yourself this gift.)

When I arrived at my bed and breakfast, there was no one there. The hostess had left me a note at the front door, telling me which room was mine, and it happened to be the best room...right off the sitting room and with a lovely little Victorian couch opposite my bed.

This quiet gave me just the time I needed to transition into my surroundings. No need to chat or socialize. A true blessing for this exhausted introverted-extrovert. (Or as Marcy says about me -- an introvert stuck inside an exhibitionist's body.)

Once I had things unpacked, I decided to take a walk.

Let me start by saying that upon deciding to go on this retreat, I thought I might go a bit nuts. (And I did but not in the way I expected.) I thought I would rebel against the quiet. Hate it, really. I thought it would be too much quiet and that I would end up watching TV or something equally as mind-numbingly stupid.


I took that first walk and it was like I was hearing my own mind and heart for the first time in a long time.  And my voice was strong and clear.

As soon as I got back to the B & B, I started journaling, and I journaled most of my time there.  I would walk, have some insights, write.  Repeat.  Or I would read, come upon insights, walk, write. Repeat.

I did not even listen to music!

I re-learned how much I love to read.  How much I need the voices of other writers to hear my own writing.

I stumbled upon a bunch of Clusters of Duh in a very short time...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back from Retreat

This is where I stayed on my Wee Retreat last week.  It was a lovely, small, quiet bed and breakfast, situated on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institute, only one block up from the edge of the small lake. (A lake that this Great Lake's girl is inclined to call a pond...)

Behind our car Seven, there, you can see that many of the houses/hotels/etc. are still in their bizarre "winter wrappings."  As I walked around the grounds, these large houses shrink wrapped all around me, there were times when I did not see another human being.  Which was awesome.  The geese and ducks and a Great Blue Heron or two were plenty of company.

And the sound of that small lake was enough "noise."  On the first day I was there, there was enough wind to make that lake sound like ocean.  Ahhh...

Though I was only there for two nights, I learned about one million things. I went through some serious demon fights and came out the other side changed and sparkling.

The difference a slice of quiet will make...

I'll try to write about it in bits over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Makes for Fulfillment?

I get ideas in my head about things/people/books and then I am stubborn about changing those ideas.  For instance, I thought that Tony Robbins was simply some dude in the 1980's who was in some slightly sleazy "make tons of money this way" infomercials.

Then the other day, someone I respect as a blogger posted a video and it was of him and I thought, "What!? Okay, I respect this blogger so I will watch it..."

Now I am absolutely hooked because, as it turns out, Robbins is obsessed with the same question with which I am obsessed:  What is the difference between people who have fulfilled lives and those who don't? In particular, what is the difference between someone who has a rough early life and comes out spiritually mature, etc. and someone who has the same but who does not quite make it?

If you have preconceptions about him, do as I did and watch anyway. You'll be glad you did:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perfect Love, Unconditional Love

Sunset from our backyard

I have been told many times in my life (in my younger life, especially) that my idea of unconditional love is a fairy tale.

I didn't realize until quite recently how much I had allowed that toxicity to deform me. (Though when you hear that from the time you are small, one wonders how I could have ever believed that it had not affected me.)

It has been through my devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe (or "our most perfect Mother" as I like to say in my Catholic voice) that I have come to realize the deformity in me and the possibility for reshaping that innocent heart with which I was born.

And by "innocent," I do not mean "naive" but rather, unmarred and pure -- the heart with which we are all born.

I am spending time on my retreat praying and reading about what Perfect Love actually looks like.

Right before my retreat, I got to see a most hideous example of what it does not look like -- a mother being verbally and emotionally abusive in public to a very small girl.  That mother herself was obviously not loved well as a child and now she is giving that same ugly gift to her daughter who will then, most likely, pass it on to the people in her life.

Here's my question: how, first, could you love yourself better?  And how, then, could that change how you express love to everyone around you?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Help from My...Friends?...

Lake Erie coming back to life

Last week when I wrote about miracles being neither pretty nor easy, I mentioned the story of Lazarus, and then just this past weekend, he came up again (no pun intended).

Whenever I've heard this particular miracle story discussed, it's always about the dying and rising aspects, but this weekend, a priest discussed the community aspect of the story and it kinda blew me away.

We are meant to help one another; it is the whole reason we are here, he started out.  He went on to focus on the very end of the Lazarus bit, where Christ tells all the people standing around to undo the now alive Lazarus' bindings and take off the bandages around his head and to "let him go."

The priest asked (and I am paraphrasing), "In what way are you bound? What is the dark tomb inside of you? How do you need the help of others?"


If my hands and feet are bound, I cannot undo those bindings by myself. I have to ask for help. I have to be offered help.

But help is something that few of us are accustomed to asking for or accepting. We have been raised in a culture that prizes self-reliance above all else.  A culture that tells us to never "hang out our dirty laundry."

I am a proud person who thinks those two qualities -- self-reliance and privacy -- are part of integrity, dignity, adulthood.

But perhaps, perhaps, it is all just stubbornness.  A refusal to open up to others, to be vulnerable, to trust.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Retreating to Move Forward

(Art of Yoga studio in Erie, where I teach Yoga Dance once a week.)

WhinyChick reporting for duty.

It has been 18 days since I had a day completely off from teaching.

I love what I do.

I have chosen this work.  Or rather, it has chosen me and I am glad for it.

Teaching feeds me.  It gives me energy. It inspires me. It fills me with ideas.

But we all need little breaks -- even from the most excellent parts of our lives.

We all need a bit of downtime to regroup. Check in. Check out.

I am on my way to a bed and breakfast on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institute for two nights all by myself with no computer.

I have never done this before in my life. I go away to Kripalu, sure, but it's for workshops. My time is full and stimulating.  It feels "productive" to go to workshops. "Valuable."

Open space. Open time. No computer. All sorts of fears swirl in my body about this but I am going anyway. Because that's what I do -- feel some fear and head right at it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Foggy with a Chance of Sunshine

The Bay enshrouded with fog

The fog we had on the bay recently reminded me of how my brain has been feeling.

Since I got rid of gluten from my diet, the physical brain fog that used to ruin my days is gone, but I still have emotional brain fogs when I feel utterly confused about what I am doing, where I am going, and on and on.

Since I got rid of gluten, though, I know that this state of mind is one I have the energy to delve into and that it will, with enough attention on my part, go away. (The physical brain fog from gluten could go on for weeks and months with barely a break. Or more accurately, it was a fairly permanent state with an occasional period of clarity.)

Tomorrow afternoon, I leave for a mini-retreat, and I will be taking a small list of questions that Marcy has created for me about which I am meant to journal.

Spring seems the right time for this -- right before all the sun and heat and energy of summer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What We Do for Others

(That is Marcy and our lovely, recent company Lisa, being mesmerized by the rocks on the still partially frozen lake's edge.)

Healers* are notorious, at least in my neck of the woods, for not taking care of themselves.

(In this category of healers, I include all energy workers, all teachers of movement modalities, anyone know...all of you!)

We love our work and we love our students/clients and we are a bit obsessed.  We want to make every class, workshop, or experience the best it can be.  We worry over the smallest details; we wake in the middle of the night full of ideas; we tweak and we tweak and we re-tweak.

In the meantime, again in my neck of the woods, we get exhausted, worn out, and overwhelmed.

It seems as if there is never any end to the work we are doing or the work we could be doing or the work we feel like we "should" be doing (very bad word there...really, "should" should be classified as an obscenity).

So I will ocassionally get so SQUISHED under the weight of my own expectations (because it's not anybody but our inner militants who have these expectations for us) that I will send out an emergency, urgent tweet or facebook status question:  How do you care for yourself? I will ask the interwebbies and the fairies who keep it all strung together.

Inevitably, I get answers back that are mostly akin to the "take a salt bath" variety.

As if.

I do that every night, for goodness sake.  It relaxes my muscles, but what of my SPIRIT?

How do I refill this well?

Next week, I will be spending two nights at the Chautauqua Institute all by my lonesome with no computer.  It is off season there so it will be gloriously vacant and quiet and still.

But even that is just a band aide for a chronic dis-ease.

And I think I am onto something when I say we have to start (and finish) by changing HOW we work -- not by taking ocassional breaks or going to spas, though all of that is nice.

We must change the day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute HOW of it all.

We create ritualilzed experiences and spaces for other people and it's time we do this for our own daily work times.

If you could ritualize every aspect of your work life, what would this look like to you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Others See Us

One of Erie's lighthouses

My students are generous with their compliments of my work; they often tell me that I create a class environment in which they are set free, that they always feel like anything and everything is not just okay but wonderful and fully witnessed, that they can completely express themselves without any fear of any kind of judgment.

I often reply that it's because I myself am willing to look like a complete wacko.  This is my way, of course, of pushing the compliment aside since I am so uncomfortable being told such wonderful things.  Or I tell them that it is the work and I am just a channel for that work.  You know, anything to brush them off.  Anything not to see ourselves as the beautiful beings that others see us as.

What? I am lovable? I am...good? Worthy?  Wow.  Now go away while I pull up a chair for the next critic who is available in my head. I surely have to go make that asshole a cup of tea rather than stand here and take all this...niceness.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Up & Down, Up & Down, Up & Down, Up...

Yesterday my FiloFax informed me that I was meant to spend the day building my new website.  It has taken me weeks to make a final decision regarding its name and how to organize its content, and I was finally ready to get moving!

But alas...sometimes your brain decides things for you, and when I woke up Tuesday morning, it was from yet another night of awful dreams and I felt like I had been hit (mentally) by a Train of Ick.

Tuesday was to be one of "those days." Marcy reminds me often that I can have all the plans in the world, but that I must have, above all, self-compassion because some days...some days, it is all I can do to get myself together, to care for myself, to put the pieces back together in some sort of order so I don't completely fall down.

Normally, this just pisses me off.  (Anger is my default response to disappointment.)

I did teeter around that particular cliff for a wee bit in the morning.

But as I have written about, we may feel badly but we have a choice about our response to those feelings; we have a choice about our actions, including whether or not we choose to do depression or despair or anxiety.

And since I hit my darkest, deepest, most final bottom a few weeks ago (something I have not yet written about and may never), I have pledged to myself that I will choose better. I was changed at my core in that moment that I touched down and I refuse to get even a bit close to that destructive ugliness ever again.  Period.  It is a choice.

(Though I must note here that hitting bottom seems to be a necessity for real change. They always say this about addicts, and I've never so totally understood it until it happened to me.  It is that Ultimate Fall into Shadow, and from there, redemption really is possible, but we must reach for it, and that is what "programs" like A.A. are for. What does this have to do with mental health problems, you ask? It is becoming clearer and clearer that the depressed or anxious brain is very like the addicted brain, and that it can be helped in much the same ways.)

A choice. I talk this talk so much in my classes and in my writing, and I must also walk the walk.  A choice.  I kept teetering, but as I looked over the edge, I knew I would walk away, and I did, even though I did not feel like it...

Even though I did not feel like it (to the point of physical pain), I forced myself to light candles to Mary and to pray a litany...

Even though I did not feel like it, I then proceeded to practice the So Darshan Chakra Kriya that Ana Brett has suggested to me as a bad dream remedy...

Even though I did not feel like it, I ate my morning egg (fat for the brain!) and drank my morning juice...

Even though I did not feel like it and even though my Sick Mind would have rather that I tried to accomplish my goals and fail so that I might have some stick with which to beat myself...even though I would rather have given into bad, old habits because those are what feel easiest...even though I would rather have wallowed or yelled or done anything other than do what would make me feel better...

I spent the rest of my day resting, reading inspirational works, writing in my journal, petting animals, and finally, in the evening, teaching my Kundalini yoga class, after which, sigh, all was well.

Just like my favorite prayer says: All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

Even when we don't really feel like it...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great Things Come in Small Packages

From the first moment that I met Graciel in person, I knew we would be friends. This was one of those meetings that only happened because of blogging, and it was a meeting for which I am deeply grateful.

Graciel is a woman who has suffered deeply and we share much in common through suffering, but we also share strong wills and resilience and an innate understanding that there is still joy to be found, that life is beautiful regardless, that fear can be overcome and is worth overcoming.

She is a fellow Warrior.  I know I will always get truth from her. I know she will never stop forging ahead and being an inspiration, no matter how hard things get.

Her beautiful and strong spirit shows through in her writing and even more obviously, I think, in her photographs, and Graciel has just done something stupendous.  Something that made me GASP!

She has taken her writing and her photographs to print. To real, touch-it, hold-it paper!

She is now a magazine publisher, and you can order her work and on a magical day in the near future, the snail (what we call our mail delivery person) will place a glittering package in your mailbox.

She writes about this beautiful project here, and you can order it here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Miracle of Difficulty

Ice at the end of lighthouse pier

Angels were never, in their original lore, pretty, soft, fluffy, friendly creatures. They were scary. They wielded swords of flame and to look at one in an impure state could lead to death.

We've kinda denuded them of their power in recent years, turned them into...pets.

And we've done the same with a lot of stuff that we find too difficult. Difficult is no longer P.C. Everything is supposed to be easy or it must not be "meant to be."

Hard work is passe.  If you are working hard, much new age thinking says, you must not be "focusing your intentions."

Think about anything that is naturally difficult and you'll see we've done the same: Mother Nature herself is a good example. We are surprised, where I live, when Spring is a season of rapid ups and downs, though this is what spring is here.  We are surprised when violent weather hits, and we look for reasons, rather than understanding, innately, that weather can be violent, and really? Nature and weather don't give a shit about us; furthermore, they are not about us.

But back to angels and their landscape: we have mostly done this whitewashing with religion and God. We no longer expect to be challenged to be better or we say "that is too judgmental."  If a priest dares to insert a call to justice into his homily, people are angry that he didn't just make them feel good.

And we take powerful things like Miracles and expect them to also be pretty and easy.

They are not.

Miracles are rarely attractive and they are never easy.

They are a Call.

They ask us to wake up, to believe differently, to change radically.

They tend to be...frightening even.

I am thinking about all of this, because it's Lent and because last night in my yoga class a student was expressing the difficult time she is in.  I shared that I, too, had recently hit bottom, and that that is what a real miracle looks like.

What a gift to hit bottom, because there is only one direction after that and it is up.

I am thankful for hitting my bottom, finally.  To feel that I am capable of destroying my own life means that I am capable of rebuilding it and that I have a choice in the matter.  Free will is also not easy.

Miracles.  Think of Lazarus.  Being raised from the dead? This was neither easy nor pretty, and imagine being a witness to this!  How utterly earth shattering must this have been to the people around him?  To him!?

Even as a metaphor for the process of awakening, this warns us that waking up from illusion is beyond difficult and yet we are in danger of rotting if we don't.

This life thing, this being awake to our lives?  It is not easy and when others try to tell us that it is, that it is soft, they do us a disservice.  How many of us feel guilty, feel shamed, feel like we are doing something wrong because things don't come easily enough to us?

Life is difficult and it is beautiful and it takes courage. And that is as simple as it gets.

(Clarification: saying that life is difficult is different from saying life is suffering, as they do in the Buddhist tradition, a tradition that I have studied but do not practice. Suffering is a chosen internal response to external circumstances, whereas difficulty can just be the stuff that happens.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fear is My Guide

I have recently discovered something revolutionary:

Fear is my Guide.

Where there is fear, I am to follow. Not run the other way. Not make excuses. Not cower and fold over and under and into my power.

No.  Where there is fear, I am to stand tall, take a deep breath, and walk toward it and through it, claiming a (re)membered part of myself on the other side.