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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

even MORE sunlight-just-for-you words


"Show me where it hurts, God said, and every cell in my body burst into tears before His tender eyes. He has repaid me though for all my suffering in a way I never wanted: The sun is now in homage to my face, because it knows I have seen God. But that was not His payment. The soul cannot describe His gift. I just spoke about the sun like that because I like beautiful words, and because it is true: Creation is in homage to us." (Daniel Ladinsky/Rabia)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

gifts going around

Our union is like this: You feel cold so I reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet. - Daniel Ladinsky/Hafiz 

1. My house is getting those winter drafts. I was standing on my cold kitchen floor yesterday in socks thinking "Man, I need some slippers."

2. At around 8pm an old homeless man showed up on my front porch. I've seen him walking around the neighborhood - I think actually once he said to me "Your smile is pure sunshine." But he's definitely mentally ill. He rambled about the base of his leg almost freezing last night before he could get into a gas station reopening at 5am; I mentioned the Nashville homeless shelter where he could find warmth. He said he needed $9 to get his stuff out of storage; Nate and I noticed he had beers in a bag at his feet. He said he had no pride left and he would take "Anything. Anything you got." I said "I can give you food."

I went inside and Nate said "You cannot come here after dark, any time, that I am not here. She is a single mom. We will help you, but you need to respect boundaries." Which is true.

I grabbed some quarters from my change teacup and some food we won't eat. Nate gave them to him.

3. I went to class. I got home at 9:30. At the base of my steps I found a red pair of worn J. Crew slippers with bows on the top. They were my style; I turned them over, and they were my size (8). I think I might even remember having circled them in the Christmas catalog last year or the year before.

I took them inside and said "He left these as a gift. He put them off to the side of the light in the yard because he was showing that he was respecting the boundary." Nate asked if they smelled like urine. I said no. He said they were probably stolen off of someone else's porch; I said that person would forgive him. He said the man probably used the change to go buy more beer; I said I'd rather err on the side of trusting his story and giving him some quarters than to give nothing at all.

I washed the slippers today and they're drying in sunlight. I almost threw them away, but you know what? A pair of new slippers would have looked just as worn after a few months of wear, too. I think they were a gift from God. (I thought about a Daniel Ladinsky poem, that quote up there - not me covering the homeless man, the homeless man covering me.)



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I love this

Somehow I came across this review of a book about corruption in the papacy (surprise!), and I loved it so much I want to repost what the fellow wrote. I completely relate, with all the churches I've ever been a part of.
 
"I honor the Catholic Church today - from a distance. I keep the mystical force of its music close to me. I keep the force of its mystics close to me. Jesus said it best, 'Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.' But sometimes that forgiveness - perhaps always - must come in the form of justice. I truly believe I never would have come to this realization as a practicing Catholic. I would have been too blind, too 'dumbed-down,' too full of gossip and a desire to present one life to the world while living another one.

The narrow and close-minded will continue to attack Matthew Fox just as the church elders and leaders attacked Christ and eventually crucified him. What else is new? They are frightened. They have no inner connectivity to the very wisdom and compassion, curiosity and creativity that must be in place to actually travel a path to God or whatever an individual's personal understanding of God is. The Catholic Church is addicted to power and thus, is in bed far more with the powerful than the poor. Is anybody surprised by this? Reading the negative reviews of his work on this site is a healthy way to study the disease of the human mind and heart. But take them seriously too. They are important.

Thank you Matthew Fox for being a catalyst for my own spiritual growth and for standing beside me as I continue to make my own mistakes, learn from them, aspire to an inner state of calm, peace and joy. I had to leave the institutions of the Catholic Church as well as the paradigm and holy spirit of the Christianity itself as it is institutionalized in this world - I had to leave - in order to get closer to its core teachings, its core meaning...so that I might internalize it - via meditation, contemplation and the recognition that if not for the works of Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhardt...as well as current pith path I am on as a Vajrayana Buddhist. I fall far short of internalizing or living the kind of just life I aspire to. I am still in the process of seeing just how unjust and blinded by fascist obedience I can be in my own path. I am still learning and I will never give up. I stand in horror of those who claim to 'be there' and who spew their venom and confusion on the world. These are the dark ages.

Look to your own heart and mind and then look out upon the world and ask yourself where you desire to tread. As the Buddha said - don't take my word for it - test these various visions, views, paths, rules, regulations, rationales of the many religious paths for yourself. Follow the one that resonates, that uplifts you, that literally gives you the sensation of expanding out and into the world in a circular, flowing like water, all encompassing way...and yet, one that brings you into direct, valid, conscious contact with the God of your understanding - NOT the one you are told to believe in OR ELSE."

Monday, November 12, 2012

the twain meets

Two quotes from the Eben Alexander book:

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. - Soren Kierkegaard

I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classified as a superstition... we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world. - Sir John C. Eccles

Here's the problem: there are so many assholes on both sides. Religion and science both puff people up with Their Own Understanding and self-assurance. I've heard both sides try to convert each other using the same tactics.

I'm reading this book thinking, "This is such a big deal, but millions of religious people won't be able to see just how groundbreaking it is, because they think they know it all already, and don't care about science, even though it is saving their loved ones from things like breast cancer." Or they'll dismiss it because it isn't lining up precisely with What They Have Already Concluded. Same with scientists. This book is a BFD for science, but science has as much ego as religion, and so-called scientists won't allow themselves to be shaken up by facts outside of their present understanding, hence the Galileos of history.

Humility, humility, humility. The ability to say "I was wrong." The ability to follow truth wherever it seems to be going, to the best of your limited ability. I've followed what seemed to be the truth out of certain religious perspectives. This book is pulling me back, or rather, rounding me out. I think skepticism is a healthy and necessary human mechanism that protects us from being duped by cult leaders and psychological magicians. But science is starting to back up claims that have previously only been sheltered by the spiritual folks, and despite the rampant power abuse and lack of critical engagement in many groups of these spiritual folks - we all need to be on board.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

feeling divine

We've been talking a lot about death and heaven around here, ever since I started reading Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven and distilled his story for the kids. Today Eden put on my knee-high black books and my most stylish coat, and reiterated something I told them yesterday: "I'm a Piece of God!" I'm telling you, feeling pretty and feeling divine go hand in hand.

Ella's quote that summed it up: "You might die, but you'll never be dead."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

working too fucking hard

I've had a breakthrough this week in that I've skipped classes three days in a row and might just not turn in two of the papers due, because I wanted the energy for this:

Less and less am I able to force myself to do anything these days other than what my heart knows I should be doing.

We work too hard on things that don't matter. Americans' expectations for themselves and others are insane. It is crucial to work hard on the things that do matter, like loving your kids and spouse and friends, and whatever your calling is (which may not be what you get paid to do), and to be a decent human being in your workplace. But beyond that, there's a shitton of insanity in our culture. A friend of mine who used to work in a mental health institute just told me about moms who would occasionally be checked in for nervous breakdowns, who would sleep 2 days straight when they weren't eating meals. NORMAL WOMEN NEEDING TO GO TO THE LOONEY BIN BECAUSE OF OVERWORK.

This is just crazy. We are not machines. We are not made for this pace of life. We are not made for constant interruption from a screen in our pocket. This is why we're overweight (not from iPhones, but from the cultural expectations that an increase in technological advances has created, which make us stress eat). This is why we have heart disease. This is why Mother Theresa said we have an epidemic of loneliness in our country. We just don't have time for connection - with our own souls, our kids, our extended family. We come home from work and eat crappy food and stare at faces on a panel in leiu of our friends' for three hours. We get judged for being lazy when we prioritize stillness over money.

Just because you are capable of something, does not mean you are required to do it. 

Crazy times, my friends. We live in very crazy times.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

here is my book



My first review: "I have long been turned off by essential oils because the claims made about them seem to have little science behind them. I'm slowly becoming more interested and I found this book to be a great resource. I like that the author provides her sources and I ordered some of the other books that she recommends. I highly recommend it for beginners."

The hard copy is here: https://www.createspace.com/4028564 and you can get it on Kindle for half-price. An alternate title could have been How and Why Essential Oils Work and Which Ones You Want. In a nutshell, they work because plants produce more than 4,000 chemical varieties to protect themselves from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and to help themselves pollinate. Luckily for us, our bodies love those chemicals and can use them for the same purposes (pharmaceutical companies use them to create the medicine we rely on). My mom kicked 20-year-strong annual ragweed allergies this year with green myrtle & niaouli essential oils. My kids and I are sleeping better thanks to roman chamomile and lemon. My emotions are deepening from helichrysum, and I've now got a plan if any of my loved ones have to deal with MRSA or staph infection during a hospital stay. Basil has been hugely helpful for my anxiety.

You have to buy oils from reputable sources, though, and I go into that in the book. (Most of them will not give you potent results, including Young Living and Aura Cacia - so if you've got any kicking around your house, use them for air freshening.) The best company is Veriditas Botanicals, which has a number of great blends for common ailments: http://www.veriditasbotanicals.com/wellness.html

Tea tree and lavender remain your best all-encompassing top hitters, if you want two to start with. Putting two drops of each on your wrists or feet every morning will get you through the cold & flu season with much, much higher immune resistance and much, much shorter illness periods (if you get sick, which I guarantee will happen with less frequency if you use eos daily, up the dosing to 3-4x a day until the symptoms are gone - it usually takes me 48 hours to kick something that family members suffer 2-3 weeks from). Lavender also takes your parasympathetic nervous system out of fight-or-flight, so it's great for making your day a lot calmer.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the "upward" path

Yesterday I had a great two-hour coffee with a friend whose life story parallels mine in many ways. Divorce, neglect, feeling crazy in the head still sometimes, a few years out of all of it. We both read loads of books about healing and self-awareness, and just want to be better, in both senses of the phrase.

We were sharing how hard we are on ourselves, how scared we can feel about making mistakes, how we want to fix our broken minds, how we want to grow. I said "I keep wanting to force my heart open more because I know that's what needs to happen for my kids and Nate to be loved better, and for me to be connected to everyone. But I know you can't pry your own heart open."

As I was leaving the coffee shop, I saw this on the board outside and stopped.

I texted her the photo and said "We don't need to worry about fixing our brains, or forcing our hearts open - we just need to fill them up." She texted back that we had just done that with each other.

Today in class, I doodled the heart-with-lines three times in the margins of my notes, thinking Man, that symbol is so helpful for me I could almost get a tattoo of it. I don't have to worry about anything other than filling myself up with the receiving and giving of love!!! This is The Answer - to "How can I heal?," and "What does God want from me?," and "Why are we alive?"

This is the center of all of the theology out there. This is what all of the world's religions are trying to say. This is my response to all of that "spiritual discipline" and striving. Don't worry about praying, don't worry about reading your holy scriptures, don't worry about meditating, don't worry about doing, outside of filling up. (Maybe prayer or reading or meditating does fill you up, but that's the only good impulse for doing any of it. If you're doing it out of obedience, just quit.)

My professor spent the class talking about personalities and spiritual development. At the very end, he spoke about the maturization process. "It's like three lines: underdeveloped, normal, and developed." He drew this as he spoke.


I smiled and went up after class to draw a heart over it.

Filling it up is how we mature, spiritually, in our personalities, in every way. I fill my heart up with the love of my beloved, kisses from my kids, beauty wherever I can see it, nature however I can feel her, the gentle energy of friends who continue to wait for my trust to heal even more. What fills your heart up? That's where God is.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

dense and apparent

So it is not hard to understand
where God's body is, it is
everywhere and everything; shore and the vast
fields of water, the accidental and the intended
over here, over there. And I bow down
participate and attentive

it is so dense and apparent. And all the same I am still
unsatisfied.

I would be good - oh, I would be upright and good.
To what purpose? 
Hope of heaven? Not that. But to enter
the other kingdom: grace, and imagination,

and the multiple sympathies: to be as a leaf, a rose,
a dolphin, a wave rising... I want

to be worthy of - what? Glory? Yes, unimaginable glory.

O Lord of melons, of mercy, though I am
not ready, nor worthy, I am climbing toward you.

- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

:-)

And who do you
think you are sauntering along
five feet up in the air, the ocean a blue fire
around your ankles, the sun
on your face on your shoulders its golden mouth whispering
(so it seems) you! you! you!

- Mary Oliver


Sunday, October 7, 2012

bits of akathist




for calling me into being
showing me the beauty of the universe
spreading out before me heaven and earth
like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
for eternity in this fleeting world
for mercies, seen and unseen
through every sigh of my sorrow
for every step of my life's journey
for every moment, glory to You.

blessed are you, nurturing earth, in your fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last for ever, in the land where beauty grows not old

(by Gregory Petrov, who wrote this in a prison camp in 1940 shortly before dying)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

more strategic sunshine

I was having a rough self-image day last week - it's a constant battle, as I'm guessing any woman in our culture could tell you. I sat down underneath the thickest old tree I've found in Nashville - and that is saying something, because there are trees all over here that pre-date the Civil War - on Belmont’s front lawn, to read a few more pages of My Name is Asher Lev before class. It was a description of a nude drawing scene, something I did five years ago when I was pregnant to be brave, seen in my loneliness, and to help out the students with a unique form to practice with. 

     I read the words The girl sat very still, bathed in sunlight, and as I did, the sun came out from behind the clouds and poured onto me through the tree’s branches and leaves. That was all I needed - I felt beautiful and loved.
      It might be a little narcissistic that I'm constantly noticing reflections of my worth in the world around me. To a certain degree, because of having been hurt, I'm only open to channels that don't require vulnerability, though I'm slowly coming back around to humans. I think, though, that everyone needs this kind of selfish sight. Every patch of sun that falls on you is special, whether it's perfectly timed or not. 
     "How lovely it is to be your guest," my friend Jenny quoted from the Eastern Orthodox Akathist of Thanksgiving when we were talking about this today. How lovely it is, also, to be your pretty girl.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I have great friends

  
That girl in the red pants married that boy in the white shirt (front left) yesterday. This is how they chose to spend the afternoon today. 

This, my dears, is a picture of marriage.

Monday, September 24, 2012

two hands

Snuck off to mass again. I got excited when I saw "Be not afraid" in the hymn list for the morning. That was my favorite song when I was nine years old at Catholic elementary school. It's got a beautiful melody, and the words are great for anxious kids like myself.

"Be not afraid, I go before you always, come follow me, and I will give you rest... You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst. Know that I am with you through it all."

I started crying, because what a thought, God with you in the dark. Yes, the logical dilemma still exists that plenty of people die of thirst in barren deserts, feeling no sense of God's accompaniment. I felt very little during mine. But I like the thought, retroactively, of not having been alone.

"Resurrections are real, in this life, and in the life to come," the priest reiterated at least twice in his sermon. I feel that now. I agree again. I see that in my life, and my friends' lives, after waiting long-ass amounts of time for a number of things. I've been browsing engagement rings on Etsy, delighted and joyous to be doing so. My friend Ann is marrying one of the best men I've ever met, after waiting 30 years for him. My friend Megan is marrying another one, and my friend Sarah is in love with yet another one.

I don't know what resurrection looks like after this, it feels like too great of a mystery for us to try putting almost any words to. But if these resurrections happening here are real, why wouldn't there be more. (A quote comes to mind, "Love and the good life are needful for right belief." I hate the words "right" and "belief" next to each other, but I like it in the sense of, no one should be expected to believe anything during a time of suffering, and deeply true perspectives only flow from love and goodness.)

I was thinking all this while driving, right before the NPR announcer began telling the story of a famous pianist who lost movement in one hand because of nerve damage. "This is from the album he released after he underwent surgery, called Two Hands." The song was Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, which I walked up the aisle to at my first wedding.

Friday, September 21, 2012

suffering and joy

Radical acceptance of suffering is a key to living life well. I've read that in a ton of places, and I know that's a central tenet of both Buddhism and Christianity, but I thought "life is suffering" meant "numb yourself" or "don't fight for joy."

Life is not all suffering - there is a lot of good, and there are even moments of beauty, connection, and light in the midst of the darkest struggles. But feeling the yuck emotions like disappointment, sadness, anger, grief - that's the part everybody naturally runs from, and this is actually what gets in the way of us loving others and ourselves well in the long run. (Not that we aren't going to struggle with this until we die; we all feel "let this cup pass from me" and I don't know if that ever becomes easy.)

To be a good parent, you have to be willing to feel your child's pain, have to let them make mistakes, have to set them free. That's radical acceptance of suffering. You have to cry when they are bullied as young kids. You feel all the emotions of being dumped alongside them when they are hurt by their first girlfriend or boyfriend. You have to watch and manage your protectiveness as, later in life, they marry a flawed human who is bound to hurt them many times over the course of sixty years together.

To be a good spouse, you have to suffer with your partner, mirror their emotions even when they affect you in ways that don't feel "up." "Mourn with those who mourn" is getting at this. The symbol of the cross is getting at this.

Heck, to be a good grown-up child is to let your parents suffer for and with you! I find I hide my struggles and emotions so as to not cause the ones I love more pain, but I have to be willing to suffer from their suffering about my suffering... :-) We are so connected; we are all one, and the pain always bounces.

"Be it unto me." I'd get a tattoo of that, if I were to get one of anything.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

bits of poetry, & writing

One of my professors complimented my writing last week. He said I'm "on another level." It made me feel good, because "My self-confidence is still down here," I replied, and my hand was 3 inches off the floor.

Today my other favorite professor read us a poem to kick off class, as he always does. These two lines by David Whyte stood out as to why I don't feel like A Writer anymore:

what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.


and then why, at other times, I do:

everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.


I wrote in my notebook, "I'm gifted with words, but I'm not A Writer." I don't understand thesis sentences and correct structure, and nothing in me wants to. I'm not enamoured by the process, or by wearing writerly clothes, or reading books on writing, the way people who are truly following their bliss feel and do. I don't have that feeling, "This book is burning inside me, just waiting to be written!" 

My friend Jenny said she writes by ear, and that's what I do as well, but mostly I just feel too tired, and a little lazy. I don't want to do the hard parts, show up every day, blah blah blah like Real Writers do. I did have a dream a couple of months ago that I was talking to an editor and said "I'm going to write soon, but I need to spend more time resting on the third floor of this artsy brick building."

Perhaps I'm lacking a good mentor, and a good role model (I do get excited when I read Elizabeth Gilbert). I like documenting the experiences in my life that stand out and move me, and communicating it in ways that are worth other people spending their precious time on to read. I did want to be the next L.M. Montgomery when I was little, and childhood dreams count for something. It's just still not time. And I'd rather write one great book at age 60 than ten mediocre ones over the course of my life; that alone feels like a good place to be.



Friday, August 31, 2012

questions

What am I doing here? Where do I belong? What is the point of the continued waiting and struggling in my life? I'm 31 years old and have no clear archetype outside of Mother. I live paycheck to paycheck. I've learned how to listen, but I feel no clear pulls in any direction other than to keep on with where I'm at and the ordinary of my life. That's okay on some days, and then on others I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.

In class yesterday we were reading about shamans and their initiations. Shamans generally have shittier lives and struggle more than the average person. If I could sense the fruits of my struggle, if there was an actual position of Shaman for me to become, that might help, but as it is I feel rootless, unseen, behind, and overwhelmed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

a great quote for political season

A continuation of what Nate was pondering, and it applies to any side you may be on. 

"If there is any hope for your mind to grant you grace to recast yourself as a free person, you need to make every effort to control your hatred toward others. You may not consider yourself a hateful person, but consider whether you burn with rage when people slurp their soup, pick their nose, abort their unborn, marry a gay person, and so on. You may believe with very good reason that they deserve the mental poison darts you throw at them, but a vicious mind is always rooted in a vicious heart. How hateful you are towards others will determine how hateful your mind will be to you in equal dosage."  - Chin-ning Chu

Also, how hateful your mind is towards yourself is how hateful you are tempted to be to others. It's an inheritance we all share in, that negative voice inside, what Anne Lamott calls Radio KFKD.

"You don't have to become the victim of your own self-criticisms. You are bigger than all of your unfortunate circumstances. Be good to yourself; be sweet to yourself. Don't build a case against yourself. Perfection is living and thriving within you, as you." (more Chin-ning)

"Building a case against yourself" is what a belief in total depravity or utter sinfulness leads to. That is the part of religion I will never adopt again. Yes, definitely, there is "sin nature" or "animal nature," but the center of us is a part of God. "Whatever perfection God has, you have. The more you recognize this truth and hold yourself to be perfect, the more you will manifest your perfection."

(Another way of saying that is, you are loved completely and can receive it completely, and then loving others isn't so hard. I used to love others partly because I was supposed to, to make up for the messages I had picked up about my shittiness. Part of me genuinely hated myself and thought that that's what God wanted. The diamond that came from the suffering in my 20s is not functioning this way anymore.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

yes!

Head over to my man's blog. He has some exceptionally great things to say today. I'm still mulling it over.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

adventures in delicate synchronicity

I feel like that should be the re-titling of my blog. My tracking nature (patterning) combined with desire, and connection to environment, results in noticing things that are slight but profound for my days. I feel like there is a golden thread going through the hours, and paying attention is the way of holding on to it and making my way through the maze of life. ("Miracles rest on... our perceptions being made finer so that our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is about us always," is that Willa Cather quote, which keeps coming to mind.)

This morning I went to Catholic mass. On the way, the Good Year sign at a tire center stood out to me. "Yeah, I want this to be a good year," I thought. It is already - the school year has begun and it's going surprisingly well.

I slipped in to mass and was delighted to find a saint at the helm. He is an elderly priest who was "on the fast track" to be a bishop as a young man, but chose to fight the system, and is about to retire as only a parish priest. He had all the bumbling humanity of people I've come to trust most deeply - he was full of God, and fully man. His sermon was practical, wise, simple, funny (he instructed us to exercise and take care of our bodies so we could better love those who need us, he reminded us to savor our connections to family and friends, he told the married people to be sure to take time for each other in the midst of giving). His singing was heartfelt, loud, and cracking. When he said "May this be a good year, a very good year," I knew I was in the right place.

They sang a song during communion, We Are One Body. I thought I want to be a ligament - holding different parts together. Holding my Christian and Buddhist and Atheist loved ones together, holding the branches of the western christian tree together in my specific body by communing at many liturgies. Our lines are not the deepest truth, they are leftover from when we had to be pack-minded and defensive to survive. We're not the same, but we're one.

present in her wholeness

Opened up Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams, and Reflections this morning to another woman & centering reference.

I had the feeling that the confidence and self-assurance of her manner were founded to a great extent upon her identity with her own wholeness - her private world made up of children, house, small livestock, and - last but not least - her not-unattractive physique. My hostess was plainly and unproblematically the embodiment of stability... The question did not seem to be whether or not her husband was there, but rather whether she was present in her wholeness, providing a geomagnetic center.

There is a lot to unpack here, or, this sums it up and gets to the core of being a woman. It's okay for - maybe there's no way to escape that - our identity comes from our relationships, our home, our work, and yes, our state of beauty (which has everything to do with grooming, health, and artistry, not necessarily our natural build and facial structure).

Jung was visiting Africa when he wrote this, and contrasting what he saw in this local woman with what he experienced in European women. It's interesting that he experienced her as not centered around her man (despite that she was one of two wives and had no "job outside the home") -- something most of us westernized women would agree is both healthy, and sometimes challenging to master. Or something we are at least pressured to do, from leftover traditional perspectives, fringe Christian influences, and romantic movies.

This is a good image for being yourself in partnership - the double-wedding-ring quilt. Man and woman as intersecting circles.

Monday, August 6, 2012

you are, too


from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: 

Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensible center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as "the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body, so that it might be still, as the exis of a revolving wheel is still."

This beautiful image is to my mind the one that women could hold before their eyes. This is an end toward which we could strive - to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities. Solitude alone is not the answer to this... The problem is how to feed the soul.

I leaned forward to brush my teeth last night after reading this and noticed my dress's circle pattern on my chest, a flower at the center. I remembered wearing it for the first time and laying down for a moment on the center of a circle made of bricks in a castle's tower in Spain. I remembered night swimming a month ago in a round pool with my sons, planting myself in the very middle, holding Gideon like a baby as Rilian swam around us saying, "The Royal Mom! The Royal Mom!" I thought about the roundness of breasts, nipples at their centers.

Ten minutes later I tried to take a wine glass away from Gideon to clean, and he said "Hold on, I'm trying to see if I can see all the way down the middle, through the center" and he pointed it at me. He laughed. "I can!"

The church has always been a great centering force for women... Here, finally and more deeply, woman was whole, not split into a thousand functions. She was able to give herself completely in that hour and be completely accepted. And in that giving and acceptance she was renewed; the springs were refilled.

I had a great conversation with our realtor on Friday (her name is Betsy Bass Miller and if you live in Nashville and need a realtor, she is GREAT) - she is a Methodist, the daughter and granddaughter of Methodist ministers, and "will always be Methodist," but she attends Catholic mass with her Catholic husband and takes communion. "It's Jesus' table," she said to me. "Not the church's. Not the bishop's. Jesus's."

"I want to go to church tomorrow," I thought last night, remembering our conversation, reading the words above in Gift from the Sea. "I want some communion. It's time." I went to look up the schedules of the Catholic church a few blocks from my house (whose bell has rung for me at two key moments when I needed it), and the Episcopal cathedral downtown where my mentor attends, and for kicks, the Greek Orthodox church five minutes south of here. I'm to the point now where I know that I belong anywhere, and that there is shit everywhere, and I can take or leave what I need to. The Catholics and Episcopalians won't mind me falling on grace, and I am still technically Eastern Orthodox on the books, so all those tribal-minded "insider/outsider" members have no grounds for booting me out.

Aha! The feast of the Transfiguration was going to be celebrated at 9:30 at Holy Trinity, perfect timing after I dropped Gideon off at school.

I took a seat this morning in the corner of a pew near the back. I didn't feel super emotional. I wasn't processing old feelings of hurt from spiritual or spousal abuse, though I was guardedly aware that the priest up front could very well be one of those Jedis with a red light saber. I held at bay mind-whisperings of fear, unworthiness, super-obedience, outsiderness.

I found myself scooting over to the other side of the pew to be closer to the center aisle, closer to the other people attending. The priest processed out with the incense shaker; I must have moved because I remembered that part of the service was coming. He censed all of us, symbolizing that we are all real icons of God.

Random thoughts about house plans filled my head, then some boredom, then I decided to sit down because I'm not a pharisee anymore and I don't care about proving to God or man that I can stand the whole freakin' time.

The priest came out once more to read the epistle and gospel selections. I began to squint because the sun was starting to pour through a window in the ceiling overhead. I looked around; I had moved myself right into the only square foot in the church to catch all that sunshine.

Words about light filled my ears from the gospel reading, the story of Jesus up on a mountain shining in supra-earthly glory. The sun grew even brighter. My body and face warmed up, and I heard them speak the words up front, "You are the Father's radiance." I could not stop what I can only describe as a shit-eating grin from taking over my face.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

sooner or later

I'm emotional. This happens during transitions. When I was little, going back to school or getting ready for a trip would bring out my melancholy - I'd start thinking about my parents getting older (when they were the age I am now), and I would feel sad.

My kids went back to school today; the oldest is in middle school and the youngest is in kindergarten. Most parents experiencing this age range are in their early 40s. Once again I feel outside, alone. I'm not, that is just a feeling, but if there's one thing the people I love have learned, it's to not try to force me to not let what I'm feeling just be for a little while.

I had bad dreams all night. Gideon was run over by a car, then I saw a photo of him as a baby, as if the car had run over him at both ages. Sometimes I think our hard decade combined with the family inheritance from his dad's side will affect him for life - he's so quiet, so sensitive. He keeps a lot inside, like me. I want him to be happy and whole, to thrive. I try to give anything I can, but it's a lot harder than it was when he was a baby and he could just sleep in my arms or nurse. I think my parents might feel this way about my grown siblings and I - how do you love a creature that is always growing up and away from you?

And then there is divorce, the divide that keeps on giving. It's strange splitting up your four kids so that the first day of school is easier, two at dad's and two at mom's. It's hard to fight the constant thought, "All of these problems wouldn't exist if we had gotten to be one of the lucky intact families."

Things will be better when our new family has formed. We're on our way towards that, but it's still the not-yet, and so I wait, and feel what needs to be felt.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

change is in the wind


Ceremony and ritual march us carefully right through the center of our deepest fears about change. - Elizabeth Gilbert

Ritual closure is much needed for most of us at the end of all major transitions in life. Because we have lost any sense of the need for such rites of passage, most of our people have no clear crossovers… Western people are a ritually starved people, and in this are different than most of human history. -
Richard Rohr


Nate and I have been talking about Big Future Things over the last few weeks. It’s hard to talk about marriage without also talking about babies, home ownership, and finances – or in our case, home ownership without talking about finances, marriage, and babies. These are all exciting and, bottom line, joyful occurrences – and they are some of the biggest stressors of adult life. Why stress clusters like this, I don’t know.

He deals with the stress of all of this by minimizing movement and being in the present. I adore this about him and need it like water. I deal with the stress by pushing myself for rapid forward movement. I’ve always jumped into things, then let the hard parts of the processing catch up with me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Midwesterner. We don’t always know what to do with emotions, so during times of many of them being churned up, we Just Keep Doing Something (and my feelings stay in my subconscious, where they have manifested as tornado dreams since I was 9 years old). Oh, feeling scared? Doubting? Grieving? Next step of the plan! Just push forward! It’s the only way our ancestors made it through winter for hundreds of years!

(We also hide our deepest gladness. Sure, I will bounce with happiness for others, but when it comes to things I'm feeling, and feeling deeply - I can be intensely private and bashful, which is why sometimes writing feels like my only outlet. I will show you my fear, but I will not make my delicate Scandinavian hope vulnerable to the inevitable buffeting of life.)

I am trying to slow down. I am succeeding sometimes. I zoom up, then let go. Zoom again, then let go again. I hope to be chiller by the time I’m 40.

Change is exciting, a reason for living. None of us would be here if our parents hadn’t been enthralled by it at some point – but it’s also freaking terrifying. Because it never doesn’t involve loss. (I know, that’s a double negative.) You become a teenager, you leave behind a body of no hormones, no drama. You buy a house, you leave behind the freedom of mobility. You marry a person, you leave behind being the only captain of your destiny. You have a baby, you lose the innocence of not having to know what God feels like.

But every death has a resurrection, too. Every single one. (Because of this pattern in life, I trust the Big Pattern of the hardest loss of all – death – being followed by Inexplicable Good.) You become a teenager: you open to the marvel of sexuality. You buy a house: the tree of your life thrives from having roots. You marry a person: you share the beauty and burdens of life, and double your pleasure. You have a baby: you know what God feels like.

The transcendent part of us thrives on the positives of growth; the earthbound part of us needs to grieve every negative we experience. It is okay to grieve. It is okay to see the shadow, as long as it doesn’t obscure the light.

I finally get why Jewish people smash a glass in their marriage ceremonies. A breaking is taking place. Funny, though, the image I have in my mind is of the community surrounding the breaking with singing, dancing, and cheering. We navigate the scariness of change so much easier when we know that many others have traveled this path before us successfully, and that there are others traveling it with us. Nate's parents want to come visit to look at houses alongside us, and I've been calling my dad for advice, and it helps.

I struggle to connect with community, and I work to find rituals, at the very least small personal ones, that help me process. Tomorrow night I’m having a girls’ night with friends, a couple of whom are engaged. I might bring some empty beer bottles for us to smash.

Friday, June 29, 2012

something glowing

I've been wanting some kind of jewelry with an opal in it for months. Yesterday in a little shop in my hometown I came across a ring with three. It was $10 and unusual looking. I thought to myself "It looks kind-of modern" and went for it.



On closer inspection today it reminds me of a section of spine - the lower part. I laughed in the car - "I've got a spine again! A backbone!" (I do. I will stand up for myself when I need to; I will stand for justice in the world for another if I need to. The old strong bossy part of me is back.) I figured it could represent "confidence celebration" when I glance at it.

Tonight for no reason I had a sudden "fat and ugly" attack. I felt absolutely hopeless about ever losing weight or being healthier or not eating so much sugar for comfort. Exercise routine? HA. I've tried so many times. It never lasts. Maybe, if I only had one kid. Maybe, if I wasn't a single mom. The old impossible despair thoughts.

I called my friend Jenny and told her about it as I walked down my parents' driveway in the midnight darkness. I cried a little. She empathized. I told her "I just need some hope. I know if that can change in me everything else will follow."

Something caught my eye along the edge of the road. Something glowing. I thought it was a firefly but it wasn't moving and the glow was strong. I got closer and found this




A magic caterpillar. I lived in Wisconsin 25 years and have never seen one before. It was glowing in the pattern of my ring.

I sat on my parents' porch and watched it crawl around my hand as we talked; I thought about God and my body and the ring. As I did the little thing crawled up my hand seeking a safe place and before I could stop her went under and up into the ring's setting. I was scared to move it to free her; she was so tight I thought she'd get squashed. She curled back into the top and made herself at home in spite of the squeeze.

I say she because I eventually wriggled the ring off gently and went inside and learned about her. She is a glowworm, the phengodidae species. Only females in the species glow. They glow in particular when they curl around their eggs. They are not firefly larvae; they are glowworms. (Anyone else have one of those dolls when they were little? There was one at my grandma's house and it was my favorite thing.) The only people I found who anecdotally mentioned finding them online were all 3 from Wisconsin (one man had lived here 36 years and also never seen one before).

I hope I can see how glowing my body is at all times - and can bring out its radiance through even better health. I hope I can make myself at home in my tight spot. I hope.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

opening the heart

I've been crying a lot lately, and not the depressed kind. I cried as I watched Last of the Mohicans with my boyking's arms around me, because Daniel Day-Lewis was so markedly comforting of his love, with his gentle hands on her hair, and because Men who hold are real. (I dare you to find a movie with more tenderness in it.) I got choked up for perhaps the 7th time listening to Andrew Petersen's song Love Is a Good Thing while playing it for my brother and sister as we stayed up till 3am talking about marriage. I tried not to cry today listening to my sister describe a scene from We Bought a Zoo that made her cry, a scene about a widower remembering his young family having a picnic on a sunny day. A running theme: I watched that video of the dancing friends & family engagement proposal three times (back when it was still at 100K views), and cried like a baby every time.

I remember my friend Megan crying like this a lot the week before she got engaged, when she knew it was coming. I think about how we are all going to be happy-weeping when she walks down the aisle and her mom Cindy is there, Cindy who is doing better and going to make it just fine.

"If you tend to respond to love by running or panicking, don't push yourself. You must eventually get over the problem if you want your emotional wounds to heal, but you can't force this to happen.
     Just try to accept as much compassion as possible, in whatever form you can stand it. Persist in this effort and, over time, your resistance to love will relax.
     Then you will enter the 'emotional flooding' stage that happens when a wounded heart begins to heal." -
Martha B.

I have been persisting in my efforts to allow, in particular, Nathan Robertson Crandell to share his love and compassion with me. It's taken over two years just to get to the following point: a few months ago, I unexpectedly began weeping when I came across a photo of the view from a cabin porch available to rent 3 hours from Nashville. It took all the courage I had to ask if he would go there with me for my birthday. It took even more courage to ask for specific gifts of time and attention while there, like eating certain foods I like and watching movies I picked. The bravery was worth it because I felt more peaceful and loved on our drive home than I've felt in ages. He wasn't doing anything different - I had just been practicing the spiritual discipline of being able to stand his love extra much.


p.s. Helichrysum, also called the very beautiful Everlasting, Essential Oil, works on the part of the brain where these things are processed. (It has to be the same part where happy gas and alcohol trigger "lovey drunk" openness.) I've been applying a drop a day. It's aiding the healing, because this heart-weeping deluge has coincided with my beginning to use it - and both have happened for a good month, and PMS cannot last that long...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

a strong sense of freedom

"Marriage frees up emotional energy that can be used to grow and change. When you no longer have to worry about whether you have met the right person, cope with hurt feelings and rejections, deal with the uncertainty about his feelings for you or yours for him, or try to decide whether your relationship warrants a stronger commitment, you have more time and emotional energy.

I remember having a strong sense of freedom from these concerns once the stress and strain of the early years in my marriage were largely straightened out. Hours that had been spent arguing, apologizing, and sorting out different expectations could now be devoted to other things.

If you are in a stable, loving relationship, the best thing that you can do to keep it lively is to continue to develop and change throughout your life." - Dr. Ellen Wachtel, We Love Each Other But... (an exceptionally helpful book.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the good ole days when times were rough

I have the summer cabin fever the way I used to ALL THE TIME. Which makes me note how things have gotten much, much better overall. Running a bed and breakfast out of my home has helped give me extra money to do things like buy $5 beach towels at Walgreens for when we go over to Nate's house to swim in his pool. I love having a little more money. It helps stress levels A LOT. More than meditation, more than friends. Well, maybe only equal to friends. :-)

Today I just found out, though, that my savings and all my extra cash for the rest of the summer and into the fall are going to have to go towards paying off some suddenly-due student loans. This was a blindside. I feel like I'm having a little bit of a mental breakdown from it. I need to manage my obsessive thoughts better, but holy boy, sudden stress sure kicks in both my problem-solving perseveration and my isolationism. I have also been stressing out over future weddings and babies and how to help make money for our family for the rest of my life in a way that doesn't make me bitchy, and none of these things need to be stressed out about exactly right now.

I thought I was good at living in the now, but there are undiscovered layers of freak-out in me, oh yes there are. I have old, old patterns that are a bitch to change. Like thinking that I have to keep my freakouts to myself, or that weddings and babies and how to make money are 100% my burden. Why I take so much on myself, I do not know. How to reach out and get outside of myself, I desperately crave to practice.

Also, to anyone reading, please send all the love and prayers you can to one of my best friends' moms, Cindy. She is ill. Thanks.

I think Cindy would want me to make a happy list right now, actually. So let me tell you some good things:

I turned 31 last week, with great loving people around me. They toasted what they love about me, and it was ROUGH to receive, and I also wanted to cry because it made me feel good. It was a really, really good birthday present. They said I was kind, calming, uplifting, genuine, expansive, welcoming, and giving. If God could work with me with one thing this year, it would be the ability to be more vulnerable and just cry in front of people about something like this. I think that moment was maybe all any of us ever want - a fellowship who knows us.

My man continues to teach me how to love with his open heart and arms. I notice myself talking to my kids or holding them the way he does me. I couldn't fix the broken mirroring in our family alone. He is uniquely gifted for it. He calls me his Bunny, and for my birthday he got me a 90-year-old hand tooled bunny from Tibet. This man is in the divine flow. Over the weekend he snapped a picture of me next to a flower growing out of a pile of granite. He looked at the photo on the camera's screen. "Beautiful!" he declared. I took the camera from him and winced at it; my posture, the angle, my chubby face, my shiny face lotion, my expression - everything about it was about as opposite from aesthetically beautiful as any picture of myself I've ever seen. Being loved unconditionally is pretty much the best and the hardest. He is better at giving it than I am. (I had just been irritated with him for burning some sausage 2 hours earlier.)

I am thinking about eventually pursuing Life Helping, also known as Life Coaching, also known as intuitive positive therapy. It is good to have a vocational possibility in the back of my heart that doesn't sound like the death of my heart to me. It is also an intimidating thought.

My children are healthy and hilarious. Eden is 5 and so much more easy to communicate with than a year ago.

I'm going to go to Wisconsin soon, and see my sisters and their babies, and be nurtured by the quiet green.