Category: faith


(originally written April 2015, but got stuck in Drafts because I never “finished” it…)

My springtime inspiration is to stop being nice.  STOP BEING NICE!  And, very much like that epic reality show from my teen years, to START BEING REAL.

The other, non-trademarked words I’ve used for this is to speak my truth with love.  It’s different than being nice.  It involves being honest, being open to hearing the other side, and being open to people not liking me or what I think/feel.

Ugh.

I have a gripping fear of conflict.  And this new intention pushes me right up against it.  I’ve worked very diligently in these 35 years to construct a personality and a life that no one could fight with.  I’m quick to say “I’m sorry”.  If I can’t say anything nice, I don’t say anything at all.  I hate conflict.

So with my new intention to stop being nice and start speaking my truth, I’m getting in more conflict — mostly at home.  Conflict still sucks, but I’m sticking with it, trying not to shut down, and to grab on to any opportunity to say what’s true for me without being a bitch.  It’s a challenge… How do I be angry and loving at the same time?  How do I be fearful and loving at the same time?

Sitting with these questions this morning, here’s what I came to:

My aversion to conflict is rooted in the experience of disconnectedness with another person.  Yet the reality is that we’re always connected.  We just are — it’s the nature of existence.  By “connected”, I mean “made of the same substance, with no distinction between where I stop and where you begin”.  For anyone who hasn’t had that epiphany yet (or read Ken Wilber), this might be a wild leap that makes the rest of this post meaningless to you.  But for me, this understanding is a building block of my understanding of my experience on this planet.  If we are all inherently connected, any experience of conflict is an illusion, a misunderstanding.

And so, if the experience of conflict doesn’t actually mean the actualization of that dreadful fear of disconnection, I don’t have to run from it and hide.  I can stay in that cloudy vague land where things don’t make sense, and trust that we’ll find our way out somehow.  The only flashlight I have is my self-understanding, my experience.  And what I can understand of the other person.  With that in mind, we can explore.  We can keep going until we find solid footing, something that makes sense.  We can be curious, and real, and loving… all at the same time.

One of the benefits of working at a church is having open access to sacred space.  We have a meditation room here that’s open 24 hours a day, and it rarely gets used.  I’ve made it my routine to start my day here, to walk into this beautiful, open room with large windows on two walls, and have some time to myself before I start work.

I only started doing this when I began attending seminary, and a daily spiritual practice was a commitment we made, part of our “homework”.  It took me weeks of setting the alarm for 5:30am, and then pressing snooze until 7, to realize that getting up in the morning before everyone else wasn’t going to work for me.  I finally decided that I could take half an hour after dropping off my daughter at school, before stepping into my office in the morning.  Sometimes I meditate, sometimes do yoga, dancing, or writing, or some combination of those.  I almost always begin or end with pulling a card.  This practice feeds me in amazing ways, helping me start my day with focus, intention, and a reminder of the real work I’m here to do.

Yesterday, I knew I had a meeting in the afternoon that would be emotionally tricky.  A co-worker wanted to take over an exciting project we had developed together, and we had already had one very intense and emotional conversation about it.  I hadn’t been thinking about the meeting much throughout my morning in the meditation room, until I sat down to pull a card.  “What do I want insight on today?” is a question I often ask myself when I get out the cards, and the answer came up in me clear and strong, remembering the meeting.  I took a deep breath and shuffled the cards gently, looking for the one that would jump out.  After a few patient minutes of sifting the cards, two poked up like they were raising their hands to be called on in class.  I pulled them out, set the other cards aside, and looked at the images.

I had the 9 of Wands and the Queen of Pentacles.  The 9 of Wands indicates defensiveness, having one’s finger on the trigger and ready to fight, to stubbornly protect what one has.  The Queen of Pentacles relaxes peacefully on her garden throne, generously sharing her abundance because she knows the secrets of a deeper source.  Because of her knowledge of the “magic” of the natural world, she is confident in her ability to get what she needs, and what she wants.

Image                                  Image

I saw these cards as representing 2 of my options for the meeting.  The last time we met about the project, I had quickly gotten defensive and fearful of loosing a project that was important to me.  I clenched my fist around it and got angry.  In the following weeks, I worked through my experience and untangled my thoughts and emotions, and came to some clarity about what I wanted.  I found the pathways out of my defensiveness (again and again).

The cards reminded me of the choice I would get to make that afternoon, and in that moment in the meditation room, I chose.  I turned over the 9 of Wands and focused my attention on the Queen of Pentacles.  I breathed in, and let myself feel her energy spread throughout my body.  I let myself become her, knowing that the Tarot represents archetypes that we all carry within us all the time.  It wasn’t anything the card itself imparted into me, just a reminder that I could let that aspect come forward and take prominence.

I kept the card propped up at my desk all day.  I held the image in my mind as I walked down the hallway for the meeting.  During the meeting when I noticed myself getting defensive, the image of the 9 of Wands flashed in my mind, and I mentally turned the card over and brought up the image of the Queen of Pentacles.  As I spoke, I held her image lightly in my mind, reminding me (again and again) of the power of self-trust and generosity that come from confidence in the deepest source.

I listened with compassion, and I spoke with intention.  We explored options together, and agreed to move forward by trying something new.  This is the work of collaboration, of creative problem solving,  and it takes effort, strength, and trust.  It’s not easy.  The tarot was my tool yesterday, helping me move more into being who I want to be — who I know I can be, when I don’t get tangled up in fear and ego.  The evocative images help us connect with potent archetypes of human possibility, and remind us of the larger journey we’re on.

Read more on my work with tarot here.

Monkey Mind on the Ego Vine

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Fighting with my husband last night, I noticed the moment when I thought “I don’t want to be fighting like this”.  And then, rather than pursuing self-righteous resentment towards him for the fact that we were fighting, instead I let go into a deep knowing that I could stop the fight.  How?  What words did I need to say?  I didn’t know.  I sat with that thought for a little while, alone and naked in the dark living room after having stormed out of our bedroom screaming “You’re delusional!”.  I sat in the purgatory of releasing my claim on rightness, without knowing how to move forward.

That limbo of the unknown was uncomfortable, but not scary, like it used to be.  I’d been there enough times before that I had faith that we’d get through it, that a way would open and we’d get to the other side on a different path than one of us winning and the other losing.  That faith is different than “knowing”.  I still couldn’t see the answer, the right thing to do or say that would clearly solve the problem.  But I felt a release from the fear that we wouldn’t solve it, or that we’d only solve it if I gave up and gave in.  And with that release from fear, I felt peaceful, and strong, and capable of moving forward.

I got up and walked back to our dark bedroom, and climbed in under the covers next to him.  I didn’t have a plan for what to say, and I wasn’t worried about that.  I put my head on his shoulder and my hand on his chest, and we lay there silently.   In the dark, in the silence, in the beingness of just being together, an understanding rose up in me of what I hadn’t seen before of what was true for him in all of this, what my ego defensiveness and need to be right had blocked me from seeing.

I opened my mouth and spoke before the thought was even fully formed, letting it unfold from my heart instead of my from my mind.  He responded gently, and we started saying what we had been trying to say all along that had gotten lost in the act of fighting.  We worked through it easily and compassionately, and went to sleep in the bliss of love.

We’re 9 years in to our relationship.  We’ve been working this out a long time.  And we still go to that place of complete separation and ultimate frustration and not knowing how to move forward.  I still scream and run out of the bedroom.  The magic, though, is that we know there’s a net to catch us if we let go of that ego vine we’ve been swinging on like screaming monkeys.  Instead of ME ME ME ME I’M RIGHT YOU’RE WRONG, we drop into noticing each other and ourselves on equal footing, as part of a complicated and connected web of experience.  We let go of that vine, and realize we’re supported by an unseen power.  We’re Indiana Jones on the invisible bridge.

invisible bridge

Our egos keep us separate, when what we really want is to be connected, but we hold on because we think they keep us safe, powerful, and strong.  I’m learning that faith is letting go of the ego without fear of loosing the fight.  Faith is knowing that I win when we win together, when we enter into the experience of love that we can only access when we let go of our individual power, and surrender to the power of (insert your word for the connectedness of all things here).

I’m applying for admission to an Interfaith Seminary, to get ordained as a generic spiritual leader and spiritual counselor.  Part of the application asks for a 2-3 page essay on my spiritual journey.  I was daunted at first, wondering how to put it into words and make it that SHORT.   A friend suggested to just write, and then edit it down later.  I got up early for the several days, before anyone else in the house, and this is what came… (and it comes in at exactly 3 pages!):

My early childhood was mostly non-religious.  We went to a Methodist church as a family until my parents divorced when I was six, then both parents stopped attending and religion was no longer a part of our lives.

Early in High School I got involved in the Christian youth group, Young Life, because a close friend invited me to go with her.  I felt compelled by the social acceptance and sense of community I felt there, and then started believing what was said about Jesus, the Bible, and God.  I found power and meaning especially in the Bible verses that glorified the power of God, emphasizing the works and laws of the spirit as greater than the works and laws of people.

I dove in, and attended all the weekly Bible studies, social evenings, and regional gatherings with other high schools.  I started dating a boy who identified strongly as a Christian, as did his whole family.  I attended church with them regularly, and we spent a summer teaching Vacation Bible School together.

Around this time, my mom started attending a Unity Church of “New Thought” Christianity.  At first, going with her to Unity felt like an extension of my new Christian identity, and I enthusiastically got involved in the high school group there.   The teachings of Unity about “Christ within” gave me an enriched understanding of Christianity that felt powerful and personal to me.  It brought all the history of the Bible into a new and relevant context.  Through new practices of meditation and guided self-reflection, I began to experience a connection with the sacred energy within me.

When my Christian boyfriend came to church with me, he was appalled by the blasphemy of the idea that all people have the same potential as Christ.  He said if I believed that, I wasn’t a real Christian.  After long hours of tearful debate, I conceded that I believed in “Christ within” more than the concepts of sin and salvation that we taught in Vacation Bible School.  He said he couldn’t date a non-Christian, and we ended our relationship.  His family, who had taken me in as a “third daughter”, told me they were very sad I was going to hell.

My new identity as a “non-Christian” was powerful to me, because it was a choice to go against what was socially acceptable for the sake of following my truth.  Looking for truth within me became my spiritual path.

For the rest of high school, I continued attending Unity and developing my understanding of the sacred flowing through all things, including through me.  I experienced deep self-acceptance, unconditional love with my peers, and respect from adults in the congregation.  The summer I graduated, I attended an international conference at Unity Village, where I participated in a long meditation to connect with my purpose in life.  When asked in the meditation “what are you here to do?”, the answer rose clear and strong from deep within me: “to help people learn to love”.   That was the first time I remember hearing the voice of spirit so clearly, and the message has been an important mantra of purpose throughout my life.

That same summer after graduating, we took a family vacation to Moab, Utah.  We camped out in the desert, and slept under a sky of stars that left me speechless.  Driving with my mom and her sister in an open Jeep through the wild canyons, laughing and singing, a new sense of inner freedom rooted in me.   We were “wild women”, full of power and potential, loving ourselves and each other and the amazing Earth that embraced us.

On the drive back to Denver, we stopped at a tiny truck stop on the side of the highway.  I took a walk through the woods to stretch my legs, and walked around a bend to witness a magnificent vista of a grand mountain rising above and reflected in a clear lake.  I stood in awe and gratitude, feeling my connection with the Earth and the spirit flowing through all things.  I got back into the car a changed person, devoted to the Earth on a spiritual level.

That moment marked the beginning of my exploration of Pagan spirituality.  I was fascinated by the practice of honoring the cycles of the seasons and using the elements of air, fire, water, and earth and the four directions for their different qualities.  In college I took weekly walks in the forest for “church”, learning to intentionally tap into that sense of connection.

My mother recently told me that she thought I had given up on spirituality while I was in college.  She didn’t know about those walks in the woods, and she also didn’t know the spiritual side of my academic work.  I majored in Religion, because those were the classes to which I felt most drawn. I studied “Myth and Symbol”, “Use of Dance in Aboriginal Rituals”, and “Images of the Divine in German Literature”. I eagerly explored the Bible as historical document, comparative analysis of Judaism and Christianity, the philosophy of religion, Confucianism, and Zen and Taoism.  These classes enlivened me.  Schoolwork wasn’t tedious – it was spiritual exploration.  In all my classes, I tried to weave the essence of the different teachings and doctrines into my spiritual understanding, and through that practice I developed a multifaceted sense of the sacred that transcended any one religion.  Since then, I’ve found it difficult to identify with any one religious category.

In parallel to my classes in Religion, I found myself passionate about the study of society and culture, and chose to also major in Sociology.  I loved wrapping my mind around all the ways that reality is filtered and obscured by the social meanings that we learn through our culture.  Learning to identify and disarm the social assumptions in my perception and understanding of the world around me became yet another spiritual practice.

My studies in Sociology led me to a determined belief that there must be a different way for people to live together, a culture that intentionally combats destructive social assumptions like racism, sexism, and classism, honors the Earth, and celebrates our connectedness instead of dividing people through economic competition.  A year after graduating from college, I learned about Twin Oaks, an “intentional community” (aka commune) in Virginia that had started in the 1960s and was still thriving.  I visited, loved it, and made it my home for 4 years.

At Twin Oaks I found a group of 100 people who were creating the life I had envisioned.  Working together, sharing, and cooperating were at the center of all social systems there.  I found myself connecting more deeply with people on a daily basis – in celebration and in conflict, but it was the depth of relationship that compelled me.  Our inherent connection with each other was undeniable.  So too was our connection with the Earth, as we lived rurally and ate from the garden, heated with wood from the forest, and worked and played outside most of the time.

At Twin Oaks I practiced the art of having integrity in relationships with others, and with myself – life on a commune doesn’t work, otherwise.  Through observation, mentorship, and trial and error, I learned how to be lovingly honest, compassionate, and accepting of hard truths.  This became a deeply spiritual practice of stepping beyond the layer of emotions and ego, learning to open my heart in the face of fear, developing a faith that what lay underneath my ego was far more powerful, and would lead me where I needed to go.  I attended, and eventually taught, workshops and retreats focused on various practices for creating healthy relationships based on these principles.  This became the bedrock of my current spiritual beliefs and practice.

I left Twin Oaks when I fell in love with a man who didn’t want to live there.  I knew deeply that he was my partner in life, and left the life I loved to marry him and create a life together.  I felt like I stepped off a cliff.  I stumbled through 4 years of early marriage and creating a life in mainstream culture.  My husband and I got tangled up in our differences and shut down to each other.  I sank quickly into the darkness of fear, self-judgment, and blame.  I didn’t recognize myself anymore, and I was so caught in the darkness that the idea of doing anything about it felt overwhelming.  I felt alone, ashamed, and hopeless, lost in the realm of ego.

After our daughter was born, I felt a spark inside me to get my life back on track, a refusal to raise my child in the life I was living.  I slowly recommitted to my practices of self-reflection and opening (writing, tarot, meditation), knowing I had to go through the painful process of looking at my life and facing what I had created, so I could change it.  I knew that the alternative of staying shut down and hopeless would ultimately be even more painful, for me and for the child who was looking to me for love and truth.

I began with the determined belief that a better life was possible, and stubbornly searched until new possibilities emerged.  My husband and I came back to conversations we had ignored because they created too much conflict.  We started to find the magic we had forgotten, the beauty of our differences working in tandem, and the joy of surrendering as individuals to the spirit of partnership between us.

Early in the process of recreating my life, I felt compelled to find a church.   After visiting the Quaker Meeting and the Unitarian Church several times and not finding what I wanted, I gave Unity a try again.  I immediately felt at home.  I cried through the service, and prayed with a chaplain afterwards to remember my strength and connection with spirit.

I started attending regularly.  Though the language didn’t match with what I had come to use for my spiritual experience, the message behind the words rang true.  I felt embraced by the congregation, supported lovingly in my process of coming back to myself.

I committed myself to my spiritual practice again, and the voice of spirit within me came clearer and stronger.  Listening and accepting became easier, and exciting. The teachings of Unity reminded me of the beauty and magic that unfold when I act in alignment with Spirit. My spiritual practice began to expand beyond self-reflection and contemplation, into the realm of action and creation, moving out of my mind and into my body.  I committed to the practice of following my inspirations, even when I didn’t understand them.

This has brought me to a new way of living in the world.  I tap into the web of energy that connects all things, and look to find my place in it, to feel inspiration.   I feel it as a tug within me, calling me forward.   When I struggle to feel the pull, I open again through writing, dancing, tarot, and meditation, listening for the distinct voice of spirit, the now familiar sense of knowing.

My current sense of this Divine Spirit is that it is the energy that composes all that is, the substance of the Universe.  It has a resonance and a movement that is growth, opening, and union.  Any sense of separateness is an illusion that distorts our perception, and this illusion is the source of fear, pain, and struggle.  When I release that illusion, surrender the ego to the flow of Spirit, my life aligns and resonates with all existence.  From that place, I know what is mine to do.

Moment by moment, again and again; this is the work of Living.

Walking the Web

dramatic

fragile or strong?

Jeffrey is skiing with the kids today, which means that he took the car up to the mountain after he dropped me off at church (Point A).  I had plans to be picked up by a friend, driven to a three-woman hangout (Point B) with another friend, who would later drive me to my evening rehearsal downtown (Point C), after which I’d ask my director to drive me home (Point D).  Or call Jeffrey to pick me up.

Friend #1, my ride from point A to point B, fell through, leaving me stranded at church trying to figure out the rest of my plans for the day.  I scanned my options as folks walked out of the foyer… I know most of them well enough to expect that they’d be happy to give me a ride downtown, but I was hesitant to ask.  What was it?  Partially embarrassment… I want to be seen as a responsible adult who has my shit together enough to know how I’m getting from Point A to Point B.  Only irresponsible teenagers ask for rides at the last minute (my snarky mind says)…

At the same time, I have a deep commitment to INTERdependence, and I feel great joy when I walk the web of friends…tribe… community.  I think part of my reluctance comes from not wanting to make others uncomfortable, those people who I don’t yet know if they want to be part of my web.  But really, aren’t we all automatically part of the same web, whether we want it or not?  In some ways, asking for help is a form of activism, making the web apparent by stepping out onto it, demonstrating its ability to hold me.

It’s different than a tightrope, because when the strand of Friend #1 fell through, there was another strand nearby to step onto.  I asked Lea, a woman I know better than many others, if she’d drive me downtown, where I could drink tea for the 4 hours until my rehearsal.  As we drove away from church, I noticed my disappointment at spending the entire afternoon alone downtown.  She offered to drive me home, if I could find a ride to rehearsal later on.  An afternoon alone at home!  A gift, to a mom and stepmom of 3 kids!  So, I called a few people from the cast, and quickly found someone who was willing to get me (but again, the same anxiety about asking for help).

Lea had to stop at her house first to pack her car with stuff to take to her daughter at a nearby college, because dropping me off at home would be on her way out of town.  We worked together, and finished quickly.  She was just as appreciative for my help as I was for getting a ride home!  Walking the web together…

And now, I’m home, enjoying the peace and beauty of this cabin in the woods, ready for my ride to come get me in a bit.

Reflecting…  I felt SO FRUSTRATED this afternoon, to the point of tears welling up in my eyes!  Frustrated with my friend for bailing on me, with Jeffrey for taking the car away all day, with the layout of this town and the lack of extensive public transportation (especially on Sundays), and with myself for all my anxieties and hangups and insecurity.  It’s times like this when I really miss the commune, where everything is in walking distance, where I had 100 people supporting my life, where I could always find a close friend who I could ask to help me.  This crazy town life, living in a community of thousands, mostly people I don’t know…  Can I trust this web?  That’s the anxiety… wanting to believe in interdependence, and feeling afraid of walking out on the web only to have it fall away beneath my feet.  When I put it that way, I know it’s one of my jobs out here to walk the web, to show its strength, to live the example of an interdependent life.

And with that, my ride is here…

What 30 looks (and sounds) like!

I failed to plan the 30th birthday party I had been hoping to throw for myself… lots of ideas, and not enough uumph to put them into action (it often happens like that with a baby around, it seems).  HOWEVER, the Universe stepped in and provided me with a kick-ass rite-of-passage into my Thirties.  I couldn't have planned a better one myself! 

Our second performance of Godspell was the evening of my birthday, and the show was going pretty well.  No one I knew was in the audience, and sometimes it's easier to relax and have fun when that's the case, because I'm not thinking about how/if they're enjoying the show.

The way that we performed the show, pretty much everyone had some solo singing.  I had one of the early songs in the first act, and I was always glad to get it over with because singing by myself historically terrifies me.  Throughout rehearsals for Godspell I had been proud of myself for singing fully, not hiding behind a soft, weak voice like I've been known to do.  I think I was more comfortable in this context because so many of us were/are amateurs… I didn't feel like I was out of my league or not up to par with other people in the cast.

On Saturday night, my song began as usual, but early in the song the CD we used as accompaniment started skipping.  And kept skipping as I tried to keep singing.

I had a moment of wondering if I should stop and let the sound guy re-start the CD, but instead I decided to just keep going.  The rest of the cast followed along as they joined in on harmony, and we sang the whole song a capella.

When we finished without a trainwreck, it felt wonderfully thrilling, the high that comes from doing what you're afraid to do.  As I drove home that night, I thought to myself, "Hell yeah — I'm 30, and I can keep singing when the music fails!" 

It's a ripe metaphor that I think is viscerally etched in the cells of my body, to hold as a reminder through this next stage of my life.

And if I ever forget, it's been preserved on video! 

More photos from the show can be seen here, as well.

I’ve been feeling the rewards of persistence lately — it’s a trait I think I embody well.  When I’m not coming from a clear place it manifests as stubbornness and control-freak tendencies, but lately I’ve been doing well at just sticking with what I believe in, holding on in rough waters, and just breathing when I don’t know what else to do.

And now I’m experiencing the beauty on the other side… the relief of experiencing what I believed was possible: the depth of connection with my husband, the utter joy of being a mama, the nourishment of social connections in town.

Tonight, I got to feel the reward of persistence in the context of my current theatrical pursuit: a community theater production of Godspell.  The process has been frustratingly slow and lonely.  Our rehearsals have been spaced so far apart that we forget what we’ve already blocked, and the cast is a group of people who all know everyone else but me… the outsider in all number of ways, it seems (socially, politically, spiritually, financially…)

We’ve been rehearsing twice a week since June, with multiple cast members absent each time for various vacations and other conflicts.  it’s felt scattered and incoherent — Godspell is such a nonsensical show anyways!  I think we’ve all been confused about the purpose of what we’re doing up till now… I’ve left rehearsals feeling lonely and unsure of how we’re going to pull it all together.  But with a show like this, there’s no choice but to keep going.  I made a commitment to the cast and the director when I joined the show, and I wouldn’t break it except in dire circumstances (I’ve only regretted not quitting a show once… a horrible production with a director who had no vision and tried to cover up that lack with sex humor).

Tonight at rehearsal, something clicked into place.  It was our first time ever having two rehearsals in a row, and our first week seeing each other more than twice.   We’re starting to know the songs and the dances well enough that we can really perform them, rather than be thinking about what comes next.  It lets us be in our bodies, fully in the physical experience of the moment — and being in the moment together is what deepens connections.  It was tangible, in our eye contact, in our joking with each other, in our comfort with physical contact (encouraging pats on the back, engaging more fully in partnered choreography…).  Maybe the change is just in me, and everyone else has been feeling this with other people all along, but I don’t think so.  It really feels like we’ve reached another level of group cohesiveness — what Edie Turner (a favorite professor in UVA’s Anthro Dept) would call communitas.  It’s that expansion of awareness beyond the self, to include awareness of the group as a whole.  It’s one of the key things I love about theater, this experience of collective intent and collective action, giving myself over to that.  I was worried we’d never get there with this show, and tonight I feel grateful for the familiar feeling filling my body and my heart.  This is what I live for…  and I’m reminded yet again that maybe the period of isolation and chaos and not knowing what comes next, maybe that is actually a necessary step in opening to a more fulfilling experience.  It seems a paraodx… and embracing paradox seems to be a major piece of being human.

Embracing Change

We’re moving to town — today was really the tipping point, where the new house feels like it’s starting to be "home", while the old house releases that credential.  I guess it was the move of the big furniture, and taking a first pass at arranging it, that made the difference.  I’m still sleeping out at the old house, but Jeffrey and Ayden (his teenage son) are staying at the new house tonight, sleeping on couches.  I’m not ready to relinquish myself to the chaos of the new… I much prefer the chaos of what I know, even as it gets more chaotic in the dismantling process.  I know where to find the dishes here, and the dustpan.  I know the flow of this house, the angle at which to peek my head around the corner to check on Aurora when she walks out onto the back porch, how to balance the laundry basket on my hip to squeeze through the doorway, how to turn the shower knobs in the perfect combination of cold and hot…

I’m clinging to this place.  I’m noticing the things I love and grasping onto them, squeezing enjoyment out of them almost violently, and feeling reluctant to let go.

I have so many doubts about this move… it’s hard to wrap my mind around all the benefits when I’m mourning the loss of the garden, and the stars, and the trees, and the well water.  The persistent thought tonight has been about wanting to live in a way that’s deeply connected to natural cycles, aware of and dependent on the Earth.  I want this to be more a part of my life than it is now… will this move give me that at all?

Here’s what it gives me: A great stream running through our backyard — we don’t have any water immediately accessible at the old place.  Two fantastic parks within walking and biking distance.  Community gardening opportunities in abundance — gardening with other people, just like I’ve been yearning for as I worked alone for the past 2 years.  Walking places, and taking public transportation — getting away from driving!

Will there be places to swim in natural, unchlorinated bodies of water?

So many changes… and they’re because this life out here in the isolation of the countryside didn’t work for me.  We’re making this move largely at my request/demand, and maybe that’s why i’m feeling consumed with doubt right now.  Is it the "right" choice?

It’s change, and change is opportunity.

So little has been fulfilling for me over the past few years, I think I’m just finding it hard to let go of the things that have given me pleasure.  The fear is that nothing will take their place, and I’ll be left without anything to enjoy.  Jeez… what a dismal, fatalistic thought. I actually have a lot of excitement about moving… tonight I’m just mourning what I’m leaving behind, feeling afraid of change.

It all comes back to FAITH again… believing that we’ll survive and even flourish as we meet the unknown, instead of fearing that it’ll be our demise.  Stepping forward trusting that we’re in collaboration with the deeper flow of the Universe, instead of at its mercy.  I know the feeling, and as I feel myself on the edge of falling into fear, I can instead breathe into the center of faith, and feel the strength that stirs in me.  Just keep doing that… breathing… and step forward into the chance to create a better (healthy, meaningful, beautiful, playful, creative) life.

hi you,

This morning I remembered being with you at Ethan and Veeka’s wedding, the combination of feeling strong and independent AND completely connected with you.  I remember how it felt in my body and my heart… the electric magic of the spiritual balance.  I remember coming together periodically to check in, needing nothing from each other except to hear wants and desires, and then figure out how they fit together.  We walked by the river that night, exploring the unknown city and each other in tandem — excited about being in the world together.

THIS is what I want to cultivate more in us.  It’s a different sort of balance now that our lives our intertwined with interdependence of money, children, home, car… it’s the work of marriage, I think, to keep finding the balance in ever-increasing interdependence.  Most couples get to do it gradually as the children grow up — but we leaped right in.  Sometimes I get stuck in resentment that it’s so hard, that our situation is so complex… and those are the times I get caught in despair and blame.  I want to remember that we’re both exceptionally strong, smart, and creative, and that we have all that we need to work with the complexity of our lives.

I see us exploring the world, exploring what it is to be US… from that strong balanced place of independent connectedness.  I know I’m more able to relax into my independence when I have total faith in the strength of our connection — and I imagine that you’re more able to relax into our connection when you feel strong in your independence.  I get clingy to reassure myself, and you withdraw to reassure yourself.  (That’s oversimplifying it, I know — but there seems to be a general truth to it, yes?)

I want to step more fully into my faith in our connection so that I can meet you from a place of strong independence.  It’s tricky with a baby — independence — because I AM dependent on you now in ways I wasn’t before we had a baby together.  Grrr… fucking nuclear family structure!  That’s a big part of our move to the city, I think… stepping more into "community" life, finding ways to get my needs met by a larger collective, not just you.

(Another piece of it that I just realized is that I have a fear that you are loving me less as you see more of who I am.  I’m not as bright and shining as I was 4 years ago.  I’m darker, sadder, more confused.  I get angry more easily, and I’m not treating you as lovingly as I used to.  My fear that you don’t love me as much increases my clingyness, decreasing my independence.)

So — FAITHFUL LOVE is the phrase I’m using to describe this balance that I’m seeking.  The FAITH is the lack of neediness, the trust that the other is going to meet me with their truth, and faith in the truth of love between all people, at the core — that faith keeps me centered in myself.  The LOVE, of course, is the connectedness, giving ourselves over to the experience of "us".  I want to give myself over to love AND be strong in myself — it’s the paradox of orgasm yet again… seeking without attachment, being active and surrendered… the same lessons again and again!  Ah, life.

Thanks for being with me on the journey.  I know I can be stubborn and heavy-headed sometimes.  Thanks for your compassionate patience and your insistent challenges.

see you in the forest of faithful love,

tickledspirit

Yesterday Jeffrey and I woke up stressed and anxious.  "What are we going to get the kids? We have no presents, and no money, and Solstice is tomorrow!"  We took turns calming each other down by listing the few presents we had acquired already, and the ideas we had for other gifts.  One day loomed before us — to drive an hour and a half away for a good deal on a ping pong table, to come up with better ideas for smaller presents, to see if last-minute online purchases actually got delivered, to get treats for stockings… not to mention attending a school play, making mashed potatoes for the class party, and wrapping all the gifts (whatever they might be).  We spent the early morning tense and frustrated with ourselves for not having it all together ahead of time.

At one point, I asked him, "What do we need to do to be less stressed about this?  Should we just move Solstice?  Celebrate on Sunday?  Or Christmas Eve?  Or really buckle down and do it today, just figure it out and go with it?"  We decided to go for it, to make the best of it and stop being stressed about what we hadn’t done beforehand.  We talked by phone every hour, bouncing ideas off of each other and me searching Craigslist while he drove around town.  And it worked!  This morning was full of suprises for the kids (including a ping pong ball wrapped in a big box… just enough of a clue to send them running to find the table in the back room, where we had forbidden them from entering all yesterday evening).  Best of all, Jeffrey and I worked as a team to make it happen, stepping out of blame and anger ("Why didn’t you think of that earlier?") and into acceptance of the reality we were dealing with… and dealing with it together.

Today I’m resting in the awareness that marriage and family are about persistence and patience, not perfection.  It matters less what our lives look like right now — instead, it’s the direction we’re headed in together.  This is my training ground for keeping faith, for stepping forward even when I feel lazy or scared, for breathing through challenges with the belief that deeper strength and connection lie on the other side.  These life partners (Jeffrey and all the kids) are the perfect motivation to push myself to be more loving, more patient, more understanding, more aware.  And then I’m more of who I want to be.