Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chchchchchanges

Okay, friends. Time for a new chapter online. I'm switching over to a Weebly site so that anything I have to pass along is smartphone-screen friendly. I'm not sure how much I'll be posting; I'm in another cocoon season of healing (though it might be good to post about that)... At any rate, go to bethanypatchin.weebly.com for new goods. Im also on Instagram at @jumpingmermaid if you want a peek into happy family times after journeying with me through so much shittypoop.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

well hello again

This is the longest I've gone without blogging in a long time, maybe ever. Oh well.

I'm up late. I'm feeling burnt out on The Way The World Is. Yes - there are moments of great beauty and connection. Yes, there are victorious breakthroughs for humanity. Yes, love keeps it all together, keeps it going somehow.

But I also get frustrated with how much everyone I know has to struggle. Even my friends with great financial support. Even my friends in healthy, loving relationships. This is what Buddhism means by "life is suffering." The fucking, never-ending grappling with tensions, resistance, entropy. Because of a few choices I made when I was little more than a teenager, I have a bigger dose of it than most of my Nashville peers, now largely due to financial constraints that exist because of time and energy constraints. This makes me feel weird much of the time, still. My whole fucking life I have never fit in, and I never will, and for an ENFP and just a human being in general, that is hard. Maybe there is some gift that comes from the pain of it; maybe it gives me a deeper experience of compassion for everyone's suffering, like all the saint literature talks about, but honestly, right now I just want to say, I don't fucking care.

I get tired of being loving (HORRIBLE THING TO ADMIT). I get tired of monitoring my thoughts and actions like all the sages I look up to talk about having to do until we die. It takes a lot of vigilance, figuring out how to let go, knowing how to ignore certain things, trying to stay alert to the ways your natural self-orientation blocks love for others.

I'm tired of people being shitty to other people when they could choose otherwise. I'm tired of living in a world where my daughters will grow up struggling to feel pretty like my friends and I struggle despite our good men who love us as we are. I'm tired of bosses being dicks to my loved ones. Honestly, I really look forward to whatever comes after this life. I don't mean that in a suicidal way, I'm just admitting that there is a lot of purgatory to this world, and it wears on you.

In some ways, I'm not as burnt out as I used to be (despite this venting). Things are better than a year ago. I'm on schedule to graduate next August. Yet even that feels largely useless, because nothing in my life will change, and my personality type literally is summed up in one book by the phrase, "What am I going to be when I grow up?" This is a great personality to have if you are good at computers and like starting businesses; in me, it manifests as trickles of income via things like a very small Etsy store and the impulse to write a fringe book about essential oils, trickles which allow me to splurge on things like shittily-made dresses at Ross Dress for Less that I make a big deal to myself about getting a bargain on in order to ignore the fact that they both look like, and make me feel like my body is worth, $10.

I know "God" is supposed to be the answer to struggle, is supposed to be where you find your worth, and your acceptance, and your purpose. But I don't know what the hell that means, or looks like, other than more mind tricks.  I have been asking for God's help most days lately because (unlike what I see in a lot of Christian groups) I see actual transformation in AA members, and I can pray to a God "of my own understanding," because that God isn't a masochistic jerk like most of the Christian versions I've been shown.

The thing is, love feels to me like a beautiful well-made dress, or getting to be around my kids all the time instead of every other week, or having never had to get divorced in the first place. Why we are supposed to attribute good things to a loving creator/universe but not the bad is just nonsensical, unless that creator is limited to functioning primarily within ourselves and others. Which is a hell of a lot of responsibility for us all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

desperate times

Nate got me a book for Christmas that I really wanted. It's a college textbook about managing stress. Ha! I'm excited because it's talking about chakras (and how they coincide with Maslow's hierarchy of needs!! fascinating!!) and spirituality as if they are givens for human beings - the book even says "15 years ago, you wouldn't have found this stuff being discussed in a college textbook, but it's all changing."

It's also stressful to read the first few chapters, because they discuss how so much of our stress comes from technological and physical isolation. The mystic in me is in mourning for the first world. Mother Theresa said Americans are the loneliest people, and I can attest to that. Nate and I watched a documentary called Happy on Netflix, and the people you feel most jealous of aren't the rich people - it's the super-connected families and the divorced woman in Denmark living in a communal home.

My parents moved to an "intentional community" when I was in fourth grade. They built a house in the country next to other families with kids. "A little suburb on purpose," you could call it. They learned a lot about human nature, and themselves; one of the families moved because they needed to, another went through a painful divorce, another wreaked havoc on the group thanks to what I'm pretty sure was an untreated personality disorder in the father. I was mostly off having fun with all the kids during this period, but as I got older I watched and thought "I'm going to be smarter about trusting the right people." Then I proceeded to fail at that, many times over.

This week marks six years that I've been living in a city. I'm the same age my parents were when they chose to prioritize very close community, and my kids are the ages I was. And I get why they did it, even with all the shit they had to go through. I know so many great people, but we're all lucky to see each other a few times a month. Everyone has different work schedules, and the culture of connection revolves around restaurants and alcohol that I can't afford, despite busting my ass to try. I lost my friends who are moms when I got divorced, and even with Nate very present for me, I feel isolated much of the time. Kids make it much harder for me to be able to do group things. My theology has shifted and I don't fit at the church that was meeting my baseline communal needs when I first came to Nashville. I've tasted city life, and it was a necessary stage in my growth - you've got to spread your wings to figure out who you are and to experientially determine if the shiny things make you happier.

Endless new coffee shops to sit in with my new bangs isn't doing it for me anymore. Love and connection are the treasure in the field that I would sell everything to have more of. Maybe we'll up and move next to one of my brothers and sisters one of these years.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book of Changes

That's what the I Ching means. Jung's introduction is great - he basically says "God is in chance. The scientist in me wants empirical proof about statistical probabilities but I can't prove this yet. But because I'm in my 80s, I don't give a crap if I seem crazy for recommending this book and its methods, and using it has helped me a lot. It might be 100% projection, or partly projection, but it helps make sense of things."

I was flipping through the appendices trying to figure out how the heck you use "the oracles" of it. (This is not satanic; it's all about grace, perseverance, justice, kindness, honor, integrity, and Confucius was a major proponent of it.) There are two methods for casting lots - a practice which my professor friend pointed out shows up in the Old and New Testaments - one involving 49 stalks of thick grass, one involving three coins. I was reading and re-reading the grasses part of the numbering system, it almost felt too hard to even try. Then I read a sentence about Chinese coins with holes in the middle, and smiled because I had just this week been wearing some earrings I got in 7th grade made from Chinese coins with holes in the middle. That gave me the boost to try to grasp the coin method.

Long story short, there are 56 characters that are referenced based on throwing 3 coins six times in a row. The first character sometimes has variations of sub-wisdom added by a certain sage thousands of years ago which reflect a bit of a longer story to you as you go. (When I reference this below, I'll include brackets; these are statistically less likely to happen based on how the number system works, so they are more interesting to me.) A big part of its help seems to be in how the words can be used to reflect things you already know, but there is an element of "Whoa!" to it most of the time.

For instance, "Are Nate and I going to have a boy or girl baby someday?" The response was the character WOOING: The lower trigram is the youngest son, the upper is the youngest daughter. Thus the universal mutual attraction between the sexes is represented. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being.

I laughed out loud. It was a lovely, positive, kind response, and it would not answer the question other than to imply our love is balanced. I just thought it was crazy that out of 56 characters, the one involving symbols of "youngest son" and "youngest daughter" came up.

"Is Jesus real?" I got these two characters:

PREPONDERANCE OF THE GREAT
     [Through friendly relations with people of lower rank, a responsible man succeeds in becoming master of the situation. He works for the rescue of the whole.]
THE WELL. Inexhaustible dispensing of nourishment. The life of man with its needs remains eternally the same. We must go down to the very foundations of life. Every human being can draw in the course of his education from the inexhaustible wellspring of the divine in man's nature.

About 5 questions later "Is Carl Jung helping me?"

OBSTRUCTION
     [It is not through any fault of yours that you are in this difficult situation.]
     [The situation cannot be managed alone. Gather trustworthy companions who can be counted on for help.]
THE WELL
PREPONDERANCE OF THE GREAT

* * *
I've worked out at least 20 questions starting last night, and I promise, the only two times the characters for "The Well" and "Preponderance of the Great" came up were in regards to Jesus and Jung. This is a lot of fun, and - as is usually the case with my blog thoughts - this is the only place where I get to talk about and share the kooky things I'm doing and thinking. Unless, of course, you are a friend of mine reading this, and you have a question that you wanna play the coin game with. I'm totes down for that.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

here we go

I apologize in advance if I get weirder and weirder on here.

First, reading Eben Alexander's book solidly convinced me that I don't have to doubt my more "woo woo" experiences or thoughts as much as I think I do. I am so grateful for that. I had a profoundly healing dream in which he was nurturing and mentoring me with great love, and also leaned against me for a long time for comfort. I can't express how helpful that book is. Y'all need to read the whole thing. It's a spiritual tour de force for humanity's future. I'm so delighted that modern mystics exist in addition to the classics. (Jenny and Megan, I'm talking about you, too.) Actually, I think mysticism is the destiny of every person, and there will be more and more practical ones as the world connects through technological advances - regardless of what label you give yourself, including agnostic or atheist.

So, Woo Woo stories. I've got them. I've had "energy work" done by a manipulative masseuse before, and I've had it done by a good and safe one. One has to be careful with this stuff; there are bad healers out there who take advantage of our need for spiritual nurturing. But anyway. Chakras are a name for the ancient Hindu system of energy fields in the body. Many people think they are baloney. I was agnostic about it, despite my experience of feeling movement and heat in my body during different chakra-healing sessions with my safe friend Linda. Then I watched "The Quantum Activist" on Netflix, about renowned physicist Amit Goswami, who had a little section where he started talking about chakras and "subtle energies" in the body. Then I read a near death experience account from the 50s or 60s in which a person described their soul re-entering their body through an area above their head. They had never heard of chakras, but a decade later when they read about them (and specifically the crown chakra, which is supposedly just above the top of your head, like where halos appear in icons) they went Aha!

The last time I was having chakra work (reiki) done, I saw an image of a rainbow parachute floating up in the sky, and heard the words "I am Bethany Patchin on Seven Wings." Woo woo apology: this was not THE BOOMING VOICE OF GOD. There weren't even any spine-tingles involved like there are when I hear amazing music or someone tells me a certain kind of story. I just felt peaceful, and was like, Huh. 

I knew what the rainbow parachute meant to me. I had just watched a video of a paratrooper veteranjumping with a white parachute to the ground, connected to a story of his profound injuries after hundreds of jumps that led to chronic weight gain and made running and even walking without crutches impossible. Through months of painful, slow, diligent yoga work, the man lost a hundred pounds and can now run and do handstands like a child.

My first marriage felt like a battle that resulted in so many soul injuries, my heart has a hard time running or even walking sometimes. It can feel like my soul is carrying 400 extra pounds of fear. When I thought about the rainbow parachute after that reiki session, the message it meant to me was The thing that broke me will be the thing that heals me. I don't need to be afraid of marriage to this good man in my life or my second round of motherhood; it's the path to my wholeness.

A few days later, I saw a little charm in the Lucky Brand catalog of a rainbow parachute, and smiled. This was about six months ago now. Two days ago, I took an accidental wrong turn on the way to my house and felt like There's something for me to see on this road. To my left on a porch was a whirling rainbow hot-air-balloon/parachute windcatcher. Because the fear is still strong within me more days than not, it felt like a little reminder, and a hug. 

Today, I got the I Ching in the mail. It is a big book, like a Bible, and fairly esoteric. I read through the somewhat boring introduction, then got to this sentence: "The problem of arrangement pertains particularly to the text of certain of the Ten Wings." Ten Wings. I remembered I'm Bethany Patchin on Seven Wings.  

The "seventh wing" of the book is apparently found in Book Three, parts 1 and 2, titled "The Creative" and "The Receptive." You can bet your butt I am really, really intrigued about what those 20 pages are going to tell me about spiritual growth, where I'm at, and what I need to learn.

But first, I need to go make some gingerbread cookies for my babies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

what's next

Well, I'm going even more culturally strange. I want to dye the ends of my hair purple and blue, because I had a dream a few months ago that I looked in the mirror and that's the way it was, and it was awesome. I woke up and thought "I can't do that until I'm done being a bridesmaid in the two weddings this fall." A few weeks later I discovered that is the hair of the My Little Pony character Princess Celestia, who is the wise nurturing sage in my daughters' favorite show. Why the hell not? Who says a 31-year-old mom can't have purple and blue streaks in her hair? Lots of people, but I need to do it anyway.

I finished reading Carl Jung's autobiography and now I'm reading a book on experiential Native American wisdom. It already rocks, two chapters in - says to spend a year on a Healing Quest where you take 3 days off once a month, preferably during your period, to be alone in silence; you can listen to music with no words, but no other technology, only things you create yourself, journaling or dancing or sewing or painting or whatever you need to do - how many women could get off antidepressants if they would carve out time for this!! Some of it I can't track, and seems a little "out there," but apparently I am going more and more "out there" myself, and I know good soul food when I read it, and it is in this book. The author says women should never fast on retreat, they need nurturing (including through food and lots of water) because they are already suffering enough by having periods and wombs and by nurturing everyone they love. Fascinating!

Gideon made me an origami butterfly for an early Xmas present
I just ordered the I Ching. Carl Jung was recommending it and it's one of the oldest books humanity has (3,000 - 5,000 years old) - still selling with 5 stars on Amazon. It's supposed to be a manual of mystical wisdom from ancient China; the best translation is by a friend of Jung's named Richard Wilhem, who initially went to China as a Christian missionary and then fell in love with the spiritual wisdom there, and studied this book under an old sage who died right after they finished the translation together. Quentin Tarantino lovers, rejoice - this shit is fo real!!! Jung said Wilhelm's life calling was to make this book accessible to the west (because of his Christian inheritance, he knew how to write it in a way that our Western psyches would be most receptive to).

People, I am becoming a fruitcake, but this is what my heart is leading me to. Old wisdom books. Stuff that we cannot lose. I want to soak up as much good as I can, from all the trustworthy sages of all the people of the earth. God does not belong to one group of people, and how presumptuous for us to claim he does! I want to meet and love God everywhere I can. This is one of the great gifts of living at the point in history where we currently are: we can all be synthesizers and unifiers of experiences that even my grandma had no chance of having when she was 31. Our spirituality is going to have to expand, to transcend our tribes, because we are in such close proximity to each other now. This is super exciting, and radical empathy is required to make our way through the shapeshifting.

Incidentally, the name for God from the Native American woman's tribe is "the Great Mystery." That is perhaps the most exciting name for God I've ever heard. Nate was explaining to some friends of ours recently why he is agnostic and not an athiest: because the Universe is so big, his only response is "Who The Fuck Knows." A colloquial version of "the Great Mystery."

p.s. I also can't get enough of bright clothes with feathers or butterflies on them. F R U I T C A K E my mind says. Screw you, judgment brain. I have to be me.

p.p.s. Also, I am becoming obsessed with young people pop music. Go to YouTube and check out "Pop Danthology 2012." It is the best mash-up ever, and when Rihanna looks over her shoulder like an indigenous goddess at minute 5:40, that pretty much sums up my goal for my psyche in 2013.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

expecto patronum

How much does what we profess matter? Do "belief" or "my label" have any important effects in daily life? I know "atheists" whose lovingkindness towards others puts "Christians" to shame. That invalidates much of Christian assumption about conversion being required to change your actions for the better. Everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. A fascinating nugget of scripture, that one, which invalidates a hell of a lot of the religious requirements out there. Love is the portal to divinity. Period. Some people find it in Christianity, some people find it just by feeling their way through life. Many, many people experience so much of the opposite in Christianity that they have to leave.

Labeling is something we just do, but it's only a function of a certain level of awareness. When you live from your heart, from the very center of you, you don't see labels so much, you see the best in you reflected in that other person. Everyone is capable of this, no matter what tribe they currently find themselves in. Granted, it can be challenging to make that connection with certain others, particularly ones carrying a label of the opposite of your tribal tendencies. But it's always possible.

Belief doesn't not matter, though. Our mind is part of us - not as all-powerful or important as Westerners think, but it still has an effect. Belief can get you trapped in a cult, belief can get you lost in low self-esteem, belief affects what actions you may or may not take in daily life. Thank God, though, your heart and body are functioning sometimes independently of your mind (I guess I'm meaning "ego" by mind). In spite of our "off" thoughts, good things are always happening.

I've been thinking about "prayer," coming back around to a place of consciously trying to help life events through focused caring. Spirituality groups use the word "intention" - you send up an intention for another at the end of your yoga practice, for instance. "May my sick relative be well." It's not about God the Soda Machine in the Sky dispensing an answer to your request when you put a Prayer-Coin into Him, it's about you being a part of God and your love making a difference. Your desire for someone's healing somehow makes it through the subatomic particles connecting everything and influences life events. When Eben Alexander was coming back into his body from the after-places, he saw six faces whose names he couldn't yet remember, and they were the faces of five loved ones gathered around his bed praying for his return, and one of an intuitive healer friend (not religious) who was meditating on a connection to him at home. I read that and thought, "Okay. I have more power than I realize, and I am free to do it in my own way."

Again, this is not about peons supplicating the whims of an all-powerful parent. My religious experience of prayer was usually boring, disconnected from my center, and felt like it was supposed to be "all God and no me." What an erroneous belief. Prayer is as close to magic as we get. It's like being given a wand at Hogwarts. We influence things, our love absolutely matters, even over long distances, even in the face of Voldemort-level horrors.