Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bad Words

I re-watched The Last Samurai last night and this quote really caught my attention. Tom Cruise's character is making an observation about the Japanese people:

They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline.

This quote is full of words which we have decided are "bad," words we think we need to avoid: devotion, perfection, discipline.

I wonder what we are missing when we decide those things are not only unattainable but not even worth trying for...

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Real Wars are Not Being Fought

There are battles worth fighting, and they are of the interior variety. These are the battles humans are avoiding when we decide to take our battles outside ourselves. These are the battles we project into weaponry, competition, wars.

If we fought the real battles with vigor and intent, then we would have peace in the world. Softening our spiritual lives, watering them down, avoiding them altogether... only adds to the bloody wars of guns and invasion, because we become weak of heart and spirit. We must exercise the soul and then we will have the strength to stop hurting one another.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What If...

This statue is in the center of a ring of tombstones in our city cemetery. That particular ring and central statue has affected my life deeply and in many ways, and this past week, it attracted me again...

And I see her atop the world, looking beyond her known surroundings, beyond her known self.

And I think to myself, what if?

What if I completely believed in all of this love in my life?

What if I trusted totally in the support with which I am held?

What if I owned the story of Me that resides in my heart?

What if I let go of the old stories that only create cobwebs of confusion and mistrust?

What if I believed in all that I say I believe in? Resurrection and redemption and retelling...

What if I leapt?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Be Free of All Anxiety

(I am a bit obsessed with this tulip, the Greenlander, and this year, I feel like I finally captured her on film.)

If you or someone you love is living their lives through their chronic anxiety and worry (and I am choosing my wording there intentionally), go here and read about the consequences of seeing and reacting to life through that particular lens.

Then, regardless of your issues, go here and read about a path to freedom.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Biggest Fear of All

This is a Marianne Williamson quote you see around a LOT, but yesterday at a special event in town, while the guest speaker (of the "national" level) droned on, I realized some things about my path in life, some things I am called to do, and it scared the crap out of me.

This is most definitely my Biggest Fear of All, and so I thought I would share it, though you've probably read it a million times.  Another time won't hurt, obviously, since it only just really made me go DUH!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fears Rule My World

Rules, even the silly, seemingly simple variety that I wrote about yesterday, are about control. We think if we have enough rules...or rules to cover everything...we can avoid surprises. We can avoid pain. We can control our lives with rules! YAY, RULES!


Rules, of course, just make for more pain because they hold us back from expressing our true nature.

Our true nature, no matter who we are, is about strength, beauty, freedom, love, and happiness.

Rules just squash all of those things.

Rules are Formalized Fear.

As I also mentioned yesterday, I am on High Alert for Rules. I am Paying Attention and Kicking Rules to the Curb.

So I thought what might help is to name and list rules for myself and perhaps you could join in and name your own. The idea is that saying them out loud diminishes their power. The main thing that rules really HATE is Being Made Fun Of.

Also, I recommend spending some time asking yourself where you got the rule? Is it even yours? Most of my rules come from my childhood and a set of very fearful parents who saw danger around every corner.

Some of mine are silly but others are quite serious and it's taking a bit of courage to reveal them.  I am working hard on the more toxic rules even as I write this.

NOTE: I DO NOT FOLLOW most of these rules, but they rule my MIND, and I judge myself by their standards. Our house, for example, is rarely in company-ready mode and thus I am a pig.
  • If there is a single grey cloud in the sky, there is the possibility of Death by Lightening. So STAY INSIDE.
  • Weather is personal and usually dangerous.
  • Food made by other people is likely disgusting. Or dirty.
  • If your partner has friends, they are probably cheating.
  • Only people who work in the medical field are a) smart and b) doing work that matters.
  • You should never tell anyone your darkest secrets. Keep everything hidden at all costs.
  • If a couple does not fight, they have no "passion."
  • You should always be saving for the next bigger/better car/house/etc.
  • Your house should always be "Company Ready" or you are a pig.
  • If you take naps, you are lazy.
  • If someone states a "fact," they better know their source.
  • If someone says something wrong, they should always be corrected.
  • Do not cry in public.
  • Do not show too much affection in public. It makes everyone uncomfortable.
  • Do not show too much enthusiasm in public. Stay calm.
  • Do not show too little enthusiasm when receiving a gift. Put on a show of your gratitude.
  • Do not ask for help; it shows weakness, and besides, most people are not helpful anyway in that they are not bright enough or strong enough or whatever enough.
  • At all times, know where your loved ones are and what they are doing.
  • Fear for your safety when in a car, in a plane, walking, sitting, lying down, standing, eating, drinking, running, playing, relaxing...
  • If you have ants (or any bugs) in your house, you are dirty.
  • If you recline at all, you are lazy.
  • Water is to be feared, especially oceans and rivers.
  • Always check the back seat of the car before getting in; mass murderers love to hang out there.
  • The woods are filled with scary people carrying chainsaws.
  • Beds must have hospital corners and be made before you get in to sleep.
  • There can be no plastic containers on the dinner table.
  • A lawn must be edged.
  • A car should always be clean, inside and out.
  • If you can't be the biggest and best in your field, why bother?
As you can imagine, I could keep going but then this post would take a week to write and a month to read, and besides...now it's your turn...

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Pillows = New Kind of Life

The giant, big, exciting, thrilling news here at the Lilypad this past weekend was that we purchased new bed pillows.

I tease, but it is really more exciting and significant than it sounds.

This past week at the Lilypad, the main thing I have been learning is that I am way more controlled by the programming of my youth than I could ever have imagined.

This realization came about in a rather difficult way (as many realizations do), and now I am sifting through the minutia.

I am attempting to open myself to the possibility that almost all of my reactions to life (if not 100% of them) come from this past programming and that to be truly happy, I have to first, notice the source, and second, move past it.

You know: Act rather than re-act.*

(*This may all seem rather...basic...and it is, but I am constantly learning the same things over and over and on deeper levels. Isn't that the whole point?)

So I was making the bed and fluffing the pillows and I got to Marcy's main pillow and realized it sucked. Like, it is pathetic. All deflated from so many years of use. It struck me that she has been, on and off, asking for a new pillow for a couple of years, and my response is always the same.

"No. You don't buy a pillow unless you can afford a super good, high end pillow. None of this (insert inexpensive department store name) cheap stuff!"

I reviewed this all in my mind as I finished making the bed, and I walked downstairs and wrote "pillows" on a small shopping list I had started.

I am flabbergasted by this seemingly silly and small story. I am shocked, actually, at how much I stop us from having fun, from being happy, from just doing our thing because I have 5 trillion rules in my head. I have rules for every single thing in this life and none of these rules are mine!

No more! I am a determined animal, and once I get like this, WATCH. OUT.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Falling in Love with Your Life: A Practical Guide

Cats were sick of the flower photos...
Fall in Love

Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009

As I make the transition for myself from dreamtime to real time, as I begin to totally embody this life, as I take responsibility for being the dream I dream, I thought this prayer could not have come at a more appropriate time.

If I read this at the beginning of each day, to remind myself, to (re)member myself...

If I didn't just read it but prayed it...

If I danced it...

What could happen?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Comfort is NOT the Point or Why I Insist on Busting through Fears

I am not here to be comfortable.

I know; it sounds crazy. I love comfort. I love good food and good wine and calm schedules and pretty clothes and soft beds.

And I have a whole lot of that in my privileged life.

That is not the kind of comfort I am talking about.

I am not here to be comfortable in my spiritual life.

I am here to be challenged.

One of the new ways I practice challenge in my life is to be on the lookout for Fear Busting Opportunities. As I have written about, fear is now my guide.

When I sense a fear, I contemplate the growth the could come with facing it head on. Walking with it, instead of around it.

I fear leaving the house and going to a workshop, so I do it and that changes me on some elemental level.

Recently, I was looking at someone's photos of some very exotic travel. (The place is not important.)

Though I loved the photos, every fear bell in my body was going off. Red flags were popping up and in and around and through me. My heart started to race a bit. Anxiety flooded my system.

And then I got even more anxious because I realized what all of this meant: I am called by fear to travel. Somewhere out of my comfort zone. By myself. (With a group maybe for security reasons but not with Marcy, not with anyone who knows "me." The idea is to leave behind preconceived notions of self and see what happens.)

So I am finally filling out my passport paperwork.  And I am researching possibility though it scares the crap out of me every time I watch a video and click on a new link to a new place.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere?  I am officially open to suggestions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thinking/Seeing with the Whole of the Body

I am, in particular, fascinated by the part of this film that displays the life of the performer's back (at minute 3:44). Most of us ignore our back body. Even dancers tend to focus on the front body. Butoh is exceptional in its exploration of the edges of the whole body, and though, as one friend put it, it is a little "creepy," it has much to teach us about perspective, about missing parts of ourselves, about challenge.

When we begin to desire change, when we begin to understand that we must make different choices in order to move from dreamtime to real time, an important exercise can be to look at your life right now and the life you want from a different perspective.  Turn it around.

But also, "look" at it with different parts of yourself. If you tend to use your mind, look with your heart, and vice versa.

Above all, though, look with the entirety of your body.

How do you do this, you may be asking.

Put on some music that you've never moved to before. I recommend something along the lines of Philip Glass or Zoe Keating (a couple of current favorites).

Outline in your mind what it is you want some clarity about. Then just stop thinking about it and start moving. At some point, something will come to you. I promise. You may have to try a few times; you may have to go through the process of learning to trust the process...but eventually, it works. For everyone.

Our bodies are wise. They are the gateway to our souls. They are the vehicle and the passenger all in one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are You Willing to Move from Dreamtime to Real Time?

That is St. Francis up there, hiding within that outstretched arm of crab apple blossom (oh, the smell...).  He is positioned under that tree that sits at the bottom of our slightly sloping backyard.

If you know anything about St. Francis, the first things that come to mind probably involve his rapport with animals, his love of nature, his...sandals.

All of this sounds pretty gentle, and really? St. Francis was the opposite of gentle, if you think about the extremities to which he went to fulfill his calling to follow Christ.  He gave up everything as the son of wealthy man and lived in total poverty. He did not care if he was seen as an outcast in his own community. He was on fire with his beliefs and he stoked that fire with his daily actions.

At the end of his life, he experienced the stigmata. Pain and suffering, again, to the extreme but from his idea of love and his sense of devotion to his vocation.

Regardless of what you think about all of that, the photo seemed appropriate to me today as I am doing a lot of thinking about what it means to be true to ourselves, to our gifts, to our perceived callings.

How far am I willing to go?

I am not talking about actions that could be perceived as self-torture, which we sometimes see in the stories of saints and mystics.

But still...how far am I willing to go?  How dedicated am I willing to be?

How much am I willing to make the fairly simple but daily and constant choice for my passion?

As the Dalai Lama says, anything worth doing is worth "constant effort."

Not effort during the hours of the day or week when you feel like it.

CONSTANT. EFFORT.  Every minute.

A million mantras to change your brain. A million tiny steps over a life time to build the life you are capable of, the life of which you dream.

Most of us, I fear, are lost in dreamtime, seeing in our mind's eye all that we desire, but never taking ourselves seriously enough, never putting in time or energy enough, to move that dream into real time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Girl on Fire

(Post title comes from this song.)

I am reading this book about Coco Chanel.

I watched Mao's Last Dancer, as I said in a recent post.

I feel like I am surrounding myself with people who were completely committed to the creation and living of their dreams.

There was nothing...soft about these lives.  Nothing calm.  They were/are people of Big Passion.

Yes. I hear you. We must rest. We must take care of ourselves. Of course.

But what of our inherent fire?  That one in the belly?  It lights us up...it gives us the juice we need to realize our potential.

What happens if we pour water over that fire and call our actions "spiritual?" What are we possibly missing in that act?

What happens when we overdomesticate ourselves? When we value calm for calm's sake and not as a contrast to the excitement that courses through us when we know, we know, we are doing something worth doing?

What happens to the Wild Woman when she is placed in a cage? When her passions are bound? Does she notices the ties that bind if they are made of velvet? Does she notice the cage if it is soft and plush and full of good food?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Update: Oh, Blogger...


Many of you probably know (and were affected by) the fact that Blogger has been down for a couple of days.  And that in the process of trying to FIX whatever was wrong, posts were removed.

So I feel like this poor little post got lost in the shuffle.

We also returned for a day or two to the winter banner, but we are back to SPRING!  Phew!

And now we are back on track in general...or so we hope.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No More Snow!

To say that it is hard to take pictures of me is a major understatement. I hate it. I am difficult. I grouch in front of the camera.

So for weeks on end now, I have been saying to Marcy, "I need some new photos for my seasonal blog header..."

To which she sanely replies, "Will you be good?"

And then nothing comes of it. Because I hate it. And I am not good.


Then today, someone commented that perhaps I had gotten a head cold because I am still sitting on an ice dune.


Point taken.  Point won.

So, if you are in a reader, head over to Blisschick, which now has her official Spring look.  Finally. Now that it is closer to SUMMER...

Oh, dear...must ask Marcy about summer photos...

What Devotion to Passion Looks Like, Redux

If you've not watched Mao's Last Dancer, do. It's worth your time. The dancing is excellent and no body doubles. The lead is played by a ballet dancer whose parents were two of the real "Mao's last dancer's" original teachers in China.

I am thinking a lot about him, Li.

His devotion to his passion reminds me, again, of something I learned the last time I was at Kripalu.

Something I learned...

Really?  Because I may have thought about what she said, I may be thinking about Li's actions in that film, but did I, will I really learn this?

It reminds me, too, of a post I just read that nails it.

We find it. The thing. Then we have to BE it.

We are responsible to it.

Scary, beautiful, amazing, frightening stuff...

Are you holding yourself accountable to your dreams? To your calling? To your passion?


Spring has finally fully sprung, and in celebration, I decided to get a head cold. YAY!

I am recovering enough to be sarcastic.

I am also recovering enough to go outside and spend some of this day soaking in some amazing weather and reading and perhaps planting some seeds for greens for our indoor rabbits.

I will not be spending the day writing brilliant and insightful blog posts, obviously, since the head cold has left me rather brain-less.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

When Mother's Day is Difficult

There are a million reasons why Mother's day is difficult for many of us, and those reasons aren't what we are here to talk about.

We're hear to talk about the difficulty of this day. A day (preceded by many days, really) when Twitter and Facebook are filled with mama-love and most people don't give a second thought to the pain that this causes many of us.

Which is fine. I am happy for you if you were blessed with good and positive and healthy and lasting human mother love.

But again, many of us weren't or aren't.

Here are a few things I have done to help with this:

I have learned to nurture the small girl in me. She loves color and sparkly things and fluff and silliness. I try to give her as much of this as I can.

I have nurtured relationships with some beautiful, loving women a generation or more older than me. I am blessed by their presence in my life.

And a really, really big part of this mother puzzle for me: I have developed a life rich with Marian devotion.

Maybe Mary isn't your schtick but the point is to find some feminine divinity with which to create a relationship of compassion and unconditional love.

This may seem silly to you; you may not see the point, but it has changed my life. It has healed my heart.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Anger is Not Real

In the book that I just read about unconditional love and how to create it in your own life (after probably being raised with and surrounded by forms of conditional love), one of the basic premises is that anger comes from a place of emptiness and is always a cover for another emotion or for some need that is not being met.

Marcy, in her Love Wisdom, has been trying to teach me that since we met, and I am really getting it now. It is challenging to not blame anything outside yourself for negative feelings, but it is always true that they are coming from a place of pain inside of you.  (Projection much?)

For example, we say we are angry about pollution, but we are really fearful. We are afraid of this beautiful planet being destroyed. We are afraid of sickness that is being caused in loved ones. We are afraid that we have no power to change any of this.

Admitting the underlying fear will actually increase our power, because through honesty, loving action is born. Anger burns away too quickly and is the seed of violence, as well as a form of violence itself. Violence begets violence. Period.

There is no need to just take my word on this...and most of you will probably resist the ideas here anyway.

Instead try these two things:

The next time you are feeling angry about anything at all, ask yourself "what am I afraid of?"

And the next time you feel anger coming at you from a loved one, take a deep breath and with no anger in your voice, ask them, "What do you need right now?"

See what happens. It's been pretty magical in my own life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Being the Dance

In the Winter, all seems silent, but underneath the quiet, is a constant stirring.  In the Summer, things seem loud and explosive, but underneath the noise, there is a dying away.

The surface and what is happening underneath do not match.

When I am dancing and it looks like a frenzy, my mind is still, calm, at peace with itself.

Do not assume that your meditation, my meditation, their meditation should look the same.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bits of Bliss

I haven't done this in a while.  It has been too long, really, since I have pointed you to other stuff out there on the interwebs (and in real life) that I am loving.  So here we go:

One of my favorite bloggers and someone I have met in person and just immediately adored has a new website. Go check our Lori-Lyn's new Dream Life.

Another favorite blogger whom I have not met but really hope to some day also has a new site, and this one is brand new...Tess has created a space about sacred aging, a space where new ideas about the how of aging for women can be explored.

One of the first bloggers I read on a regular basis (and even went through her archives, eating up all the wisdom), Kimberly Wilson is still inspiring me but in a new way. I admire her ability to focus on her schtuff. Kimberly never wavers from her message, from her primary material. She never participates in discussions that are argumentative, whether they be about the world of yoga or the world at large. She stays out of the mess and I admire her for her class in this arena.

Roots of She is a site that I am starting to spend more time at, and I really love this photo and the Rumi poem.

Rachel, another Brit I very much want to meet, traveled with Himself to Australia and I love her photos from the trip.

One of the women who has been taking my classes since I started teaching has now become a very good friend.  A friend of immense talents: She is an amazing singer and writer. I love this piece she wrote for our local paper about the wildness of Spring.

My favorite band when I was a teenager is back in vogue and getting critical acclaim this time around. I love these photos, and in particular, I am loving Simon's saddle shoes.

I am reading a bunch of books, as usual, but three are real standouts.

For fiction, this book has everything I love.

I am also reading two works of non fiction that could not be more different! Love Wins by Rob Bell could totally change your mind about the state of Christianity and its role in contemporary culture; The Secret of Chanel Number 5 is a fascinating look at the development and importance of this scent.

What are you into right now?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Peace Be with (All of) You

I am at a loss so I will let those who are far more eloquent and far more intelligent speak for me today:

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
~ Thomas a Kempis ~

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

~ Thomas Merton ~

Monday, May 2, 2011

Helping Your Loved Ones Recover from Your Depression

I write on here quite a bit about overcoming depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Dance has been a huge link in the chain of one hundred million things that have made that possible.  But the central link, the strongest link has been Marcy's love for me, her belief in me, her patience, and her willingness to wait when waiting has been called for.

And there are still days when all of this is asked of her yet again, because "overcoming" these things is not a one-time deal. It happens over and over, at ever deeper levels of understanding. I am barely recognizable from the person I was when Marcy first met me, and my Sick Mind is no longer in charge of my/our every day, but still...there is work to be done and then there is more work to be done.

We are reaping the benefits, for sure: My eyes are no longer deadened as they were 17 years ago -- they are alive with hope and, as Marcy would say, earned wisdom; I get out of bed in the morning, ready to meet the day's challenges, rather than barely wanting to move; I am able to challenge myself and take risks and meet fears head on.

Great, right?

But what I want to write about is Marcy. I want to write about all the loved ones who sit with us when we have nothing left to say and are overcome with grief; the loved ones who hold us and soothe us when crying seems to never stop; the loved ones who feed us when we cannot remember to feed ourselves.

What of them when we start to finally get better?

I am learning that Marcy has pain and sadness and hurt from all those years. She is not angry with me, but she is angry at the time we lost to depression. She is sad from experiencing the depths of my sad.  She has anxiety from all the times when she feared for me.

There are repercussions beyond ourselves and this can feel confusing. We are getting better so we wonder why our loved one might not be on the same page.

They are not on the same page because they have had to, for so long, stay so many pages ahead just to help us get from day to day, month to month, year to year.

And now, they are tired. We are better and they can finally feel all that they set aside in order to care for us.

Our loved ones are not perfect. They are not saints. They are human and came into the relationship with their own problems like anyone else, and as we finally get stronger, they can finally get weaker.

It is our turn to care for them.

I know, now, that I am called to patience and love, just as Marcy has demonstrated for so many years. I am called to sit and hold her, soothe her, wait with her, as she did for me.

I can easily feel daunted by this task. I have spent so many years of my life "suffering," "doing depression" (that phrase will piss some of you off; I don't care; I am ready to take full responsibility for what I have been through; I might not have caused the harm that was done to me, but I succumbed to unproductive behaviors in response to that harm and consequently caused others harm).

Depression, illness in general, creates a sort of self-centered vacuum around us. It sucks the energy out of everything.

Upon waking from depression, we cannot be surprised by the pain we have caused, and now we are called to new levels of bravery. We must courageously pick up the mantle of responsibility and we must care for those who so lovingly cared for us.