New homeowner scare #1
I can’t get this GD thing out of the box. It’s an effing monstrosity and though the box specifically says DO NOT turn it on its side it’s the only freaking way I can get it out by myself. I contemplate asking for help but if I can’t even get the dehumidifier set up by myself, this homeowner shit might be for the birds.
I get it out. Hopefully I have not flummoxed the motor or whatever. After I get it out I see a small note on the box that says it’s a 2-person job. Thanks a-holes. These things should be made clearer at the outset.
Next, where the hell is the outlet? Wait, there’s only one, next to the dryer? I plug it in and the lights go out?
Fer real? It’s 10 pm? Who needs this shiz?
I feel the tears coming. Dumb idea to do this alone. And then an inner cheerleader: you got this girl.
So I go to the fuse box. Flick all the breakers on and off. Realize maybe the dryer and dehumidifier are too big to be plugged in at once. Unplug the dryer, plug in the dehumidier, et voila! Shit’s working.
How interesting, to roll with the waves of fear, sadness and WTF that all came through this one little experience.
Life itself is the guru. It shows where those places are that need to be loved. What thoughts or beliefs (I can’t do this, I don’t know how) are floating around unexamined or unacknowledged and ready to be held up to the light?
Every obstacle presents that opportunity, to love some suppressed part of ourselves (for me, Damsel in Distress hidden behind the highly independent woman), and also to claim our wholeness more fully. Also to see the options we don’t usually take, which in my case is to ask for help.
The littlest things can bring such learning when we are paying attention.
Latest Entries »
New homeowner scare #1
Today, I am 37.
I feel amazing. And I think that’s because over this last year, I learned how to hold my own hand.
I always liked hand holding. To me it means, I’m with you. And it means that love flows between the two beings holding hands. Think of it…you hold the hand of the one you love, you hold the hand of a friend, you hold the hand of a child. If a stranger fell down in front of you, you’d hold their hand to help them back up. So holding hands covers every kind of connection, from friendship, to the general love we have for other humans by virtue of being human, to the amazing love of your beloved.
But are we taught to hold our own hand?
Maybe some of us learn to, but I think a lot of us don’t. Life happens and things don’t work the way you want them to and it is easy to look outside of yourself and say, that, over there, is the cause of this pain.
What I have found over this last year is that the biggest abandonment is that of my self.
I saw all the ways that I stopped holding my own hand. Feel rejected? Let go of my own hand. Feel scared? Let go of my own hand. Feel loved? Let go of my own hand and focus on the other person.
Once I became conscious of it, I saw how often I let myself go.
So I went on a mission to learn how to hold my own hand.
Luckily, that One in me who has never left my side had guided me to study and teach methods for doing just that! It crystallized…these are tools that help you not to abandon yourself.
The Sanskrit word for health is “swastha.”
It means to rest in one’s own self. I feel I’m resting in myself when I have the sense, deep inside my heart, that I’m holding my own hand. When I’m connected to that part of me that remains unchanged even as external circumstances and mental states do change.
Yoga helps me to do this because meditating daily gives me the imprint of being with my Self. It’s the pattern from which the rest of the day is cut. Being steeped in that sense of connection every morning helps me to feel when it starts to slip during the day. And then I can bring myself back.
Ayurveda helps because the morning ritual, dinacharya, is a beautiful series of self-care actions, each helping to cleanse the things that keep us from feeling connected within.
And Conscious Living skills help because they are about connected to breath, movement, and self-love, all of which lead me back to myself when I notice I have let go of my own hand.
What a gift to have had teachers like Rod Stryker and Kathryn Templeton and Kathlyn Hendricks, all masters of paths that lead to resting in yourself.
What a gift that I get to teach people these three ways to come home to themselves!
And it is a constant practice. Just like meditating, how you realize you’re attached to your thoughts and then you release them and return to your mantra…so it is with holding your own hand. When, for whatever reason, you’ve let yourself go, you notice, (not judging, just becoming aware) that you’ve let go, and then pick up your own hand again.
It doesn’t mean you don’t still get sad or overwhelmed or angry…it just means you stay with yourself as these states of mind and emotions pass through. And you experience those states differently.
My birthday wish for myself is to continue to hold my own hand, and to expand in teaching others how to hold theirs. And to learn how to keep holding my own hand while also holding someone else’s (whoever that is and whenever he chooses to appear). Also, to have fun while doing so.
My birthday wish for the world is that we all learn what it feels like to hold our own hand, and to do more every day to strengthen that connection.
The more we rest in ourselves, the more we see the beauty of the world and in each other, so we choose love. And the more we choose love, we have peace.
Last night I went to a kirtan led by Krishna Das. I arrived already feeling like my heart was blown open so I thought, this should be interesting. And it was…the experience was different than the dozen other times I’ve seen him. From the first song I could feel my energy responding, but this time it was less about outwardly expressing the stirring devotion in my heart and how that was manifesting energetically, and more about feeling steady in the midst of feeling ecstasy, and riding and containing the rising energy, without feeling the need to discharge.
And I had the sense that I was singing to a place deep inside my heart, which was so cool because in the past I’d felt I was singing to a force that was outside of myself. Through the singing of the names I could feel the force outside, the force inside, and then the merging of inside and outside until there was no difference.
At one point KD told a story about a time where he was learning kirtan and was singing with the cymbal player, and he talked about the quality of listening that he had to use in order to hit the notes.
It made me realize that when I do kirtan, especially when I know the songs, it’s almost like I listen just enough to get the tune, but what I am really doing is waiting to sing.
So when he began the next song I listened. With no agenda, but with full presence. And something magnificent happened where this whole enterprise, which had previously been, he sings, we sing, everyone gets transported to bliss, became something quite different. When he sang I received the mantra in all its fullness. And when I sang back, I felt we were giving him the mantra too. And after a while it wasn’t him and it wasn’t the audience, it was like the gods and goddesses were singing to each other and somewhere along the way the “I” who sings was swallowed up.
It was exquisite.
There are so many ways, so many paths to remember that we are more than a body or a mind or a personality or what we have or don’t have or what we like and don’t like.
Gratitude to Krishna Das, and gratitude to all the teachers of these practices that help me to remember. And I hope when I write and teach and just move through the world that I do my part to help people to remember too.
I start my day drinking a warm beverage and reading something spiritual. Ayurveda taught me the importance of priming my digestion to work optimally and priming my mind to remember I am spirit housed in flesh. Something magical usually happens during these quiet moments, some small bit of synchronicity that reaffirms, yes, make time for yourself in this way. It’s important.
This morning a light show danced across the hallway wall outside of my bedroom. Light appeared to be moving and streaming across the wall, streaming and weaving patterns of movement that evoked the kaleidoscopes I loved as a child.
I watched the light, mesmerized, seeing it as proof positive that we are indeed moving through a soup of energy, a pool of light and love so subtle that we can’t see it with the naked eye.
The sage Adi Shankara, in describing the nature of reality, taught “The world is an endless ocean of ambrosia. My body is but an island.”
That ambrosia of consciousness and energy is many times not apparent to us as we move through life. It’s easy to forget that we are consciousness expressing itself in human form.
Creating time for quiet contemplation is one way to access that deeper reality. There is value in creating pauses throughout the day to rest in the home of your Self.
This soup of energy that we move through is a supportive force that energizes everything we do. This Shakti, this power, is love and light. It is the animating force, the pulsation that thrums at the very basis of life.
Sometimes we are reminded of that divine force through a trick of light against the wall. Other times it is the gaze of your beloved, the smell of fresh cut grass, the peace after a yoga practice, a burst of light in meditation.
That Shakti is always there, supporting you, whether you slow down enough to see it or you don’t. But life feels so much more exquisite when you touch that energy every day, when you make time to feel its presence.
As we transition into fall, consider creating your own ritual for contemplation. Setting aside just 10 minutes in the morning for spiritual reading, silence, or diaphragmatic breathing is a beautiful way to get started.
We are hungry. We are hungry for something that the transitory world cannot satiate. We are hungry for something that initially feels fulfilled by the attainment of transitory desire. That sense of merging that comes from having felt, I want that, and then attaining whatever “that” is–it’s what we chase. But when “that” is something that is ever changing, which is anything in the material world, it only creates more hunger. Think of the last person you felt desire for, how it seemed that being with them would make you feel full, and it did, for a while, until it didn’t. Think of the last job, salary, relationship, meal, sexual encounter, experience, gadget, vacation, or goal that you attained. That delicious feeling of fulfillment, of fullness, which initially felt all encompassing but then with each day slipped through your fingers like sand through your hand.
We will always be hungry. To me that is part of the joy of living. To feel that thrum of desire is to know you are fully alive. The suffering comes from trying to satiate hunger with disappearing food rather than true sustenance.
Within all of us is a fountain of sustenance, and endless supply of the only thing that can ever truly satiate our hunger. Within all of us is the flame of the eternal, which we become aware of only as a result of practicing quieting our minds, turning our awareness inward and being present.
When we turn in and rest in that place in us that is eternal fullness, we feed ourselves from that pool of infinite love and sustenance that is our source. And then when we move through the world, already in touch with our innate fullness, everything looks different. We still want the things we want but we aren’t identified with having them. We are kinder. We are more loving. Our palms are open rather than grasping. We know we are more than our personalities, so if someone steps on our toes perhaps it’s a bit easier to let things go.
We aren’t so susceptible to scarcity consciousness, victim consciousness, and all the things that make us fight one another because we have experienced that there is enough. Always. Having touched our own wholeness it becomes easier not to lash out at people around us who are not in touch their own.
For me, meditation is the pathway to that infinite sense of fullness. Taking pauses throughout the day to just breathe is a gateway to a state of being rather than doing.
Yoga and meditation teach us how to access that place within where we can experience our source. There are many paths. I feel so lucky to be able to teach the practices of the Himalayan tradition that lead us back ourselves.
On the last day of the trip, we squeezed a final bit of awesome into the day. There was a hermitage built into the side of a mountain. Complete with with a cave church. Ermitage Saint Antoine de Galamus is striking visually, energetically, and spiritually.
The entire day had been beautiful, and by the time we got to the hermitage I was filled to the brim with emotion. I could feel the tears brewing and knew that if I saw one more beautiful thing I was going to pop.
It was the end of the day, end of the week, end of a cycle. I had come on this trip to enjoy myself. I wanted to climb down out of my head, stop trying figure anything out, and just allow myself to be. Thanks to the amazing group of people I was with, and the alchemy of our shared practice each morning, all of that and more had occurred. As I walked through the hermitage, I wondered how to take this joy of being home with me. How would I assimilate all of these experiences and weave this deeper level of self acceptance into the life that was waiting for me at home? How would I bring this energy into teaching…helping people to experience the value spending more time just being?
The answer came when I stepped into the grotto church. The air was cool and moist, but energetically it felt like a womb…a place of gestation where the love and nurturing of the mother divine was palpable. I dropped into the nearest pew, as the tears came rushing to my eyes. Just sitting in the room, it was as if we were all being held, with the light at the top of the church resting on each person like a mother’s gaze.
My heart had split open and I liked it that way! This week I had experienced the world differently, as a place that could be trusted. I believed that shift had come about externally because of what had changed internally. But how to stay open, how to leave the armor off?
The cave church had an answer. Through my tears I looked to the left and there were plaques placed by people who had been praying to St. Anthony. The one immediately to my left was “Merci.” Thank you was hanging from the wall of the cave, in a dozen different languages. Only one other word was inscribed: remember.
That was how I would maintain the energy from the week’s experiences: gratitude and remembrance. When the armor started to reattach or when the self doubt crept up again, a sense of gratitude and remembering all that has opened up inside would be the pathway back to the love that was now overflowing in my heart.
The last message in the cave church was sangha. Lynda came over and started talking to me, and when she saw I was crying she stopped. And just held my hand. It was a reminder that I didn’t have to go it alone.
Gratitude. Remembrance. And friends.
What a beautiful way to experience life as a gift.
You know it’s going to be an epic day when it begins in a field is sunflowers. On our last day, Friday, we stopped in the sunflower fields to enjoy them and to take some photos. Many of the sunflowers were taller than me, and the fields were filled with bees doing their work. It was glorious to spend a few minutes surrounded by those light beings.
We had great fun on the ride to our destination, Gorges de Galamus. Our plan was to hike down the river until we found a space deep enough to swim in. The little hike was exhilarating, and quite unsexy as I slipped all over the place and kept my socks on. Here I am rockin’ the business socks.
The water was clear and refreshing. The rocks had just enough of a flat plane for us all to find a place to sit. There were trout swimming next to us, fascinated by these giant interlopers in their waters. Lynda taught me a naughty French song about a bird and a fish who fell in love. When we were quiet, silence filled the space like a comfortable blanket as everyone drifted into their inner world. At some point I broke the silence, arms lifted, yelling, we have found the mothership! I can’t quite remember why…perhaps it seemed like a places aliens would like to check out.
I felt grateful for the contentment I felt deep in my heart. Grateful for my new friends, co-creating this experience with me. Grateful for the entire week, which had removed blocks to a deeper level of inner peace that hadn’t I felt in a long time.
Rather than hike back through the water, we decide to go right up the rocks. I was the last one up, and in the middle of the giant boulder, I panicked. I couldn’t see where to put my hand or foot next. Rob came down and showed me how to locate and choose the next place to step. When I got to the top I was shaking and had tears in my eyes. It was the third time on the trip where I wasn’t sure what to do next and then help came quickly, and I accepted it. In almost every area of life right now, I’m in uncharted waters. My experiences on the trip had served to break down my resistance to accepting help or guidance. Also, at some fundamental level, I was trusting the process…trusting the universe. I saw that when I get to a place where I don’t know what to do next, I don’t have to revert to my old method of coming out swinging. I could pause and wait for inner guidance, or accept the help that comes.
We were ravenous and so we had lunch at Au Vieux Moulins. Aside from the delicious Blanquette, omelette and frites, there was the equally delectable Phillipe. Bossy, hilarious, and hot. The trifecta. Wow.
It was hard to say goodbye to him but even more beautiful adventures were waiting.
Thursday we visited Chateau de Queribus. This castle sits on the top of a hill, and when I saw it a small Frenchman in my head murmured, c’est formidable! Apparently it was the last stronghold of the region. Tiny windows where only a fraction of light comes through were used to shoot weapons at intruders. Listening to the audio tour, I heard that every room in the castle was built with battle in mind.
It was a glorious day. I felt like the battle that had been raging inside of me for months was completed at the top of the mountain the previous day. All sides laid down their arms and the resulting internal peace was quite beautiful.
There was nothing to do, except for what we were doing.
That was a relief. Even when I’m traveling, part of my motivation is to see as much a possible. There’s usually a hidden measuring stick by which I’m evaluating my experience.
It was nice, at the last stronghold, to let that go and to feel that all that mattered was what we were engaged with in that moment. I felt permeated by a sense of calm vibrancy.
We continued on to a delicious wine tasting in the Maury region. We stopped at one vineyard and were told they weren’t doing any more tours, but the owner flagged us down and led us through a tasting. His red tasted like a delicious port, and his white was a soft desert wine that tasted of honey.
On the ride home we stopped at the bread shop (fournil) in La Serpent. The town is so small that in off hours you walk in, leave your cash, and go home with amazing loaves, all on the honor system.
I wondered about living life with that level of trust, in the universe, in the source of all things, in myself. What would it be like stop living under self imposed lock and key, to be like the fournil, which seemed to be based on principles of abundance? There was enough bread to go around, and if there wasn’t, more would be made the next day. There was enough trust that people would pay for what they took, and there was no need to worry about people taking more than they gave. The Source of the bread was so sustaining that values like more or less became meaningless.
We hopped back into the car, feeling the sweet abundance of the region nestling in our hearts.
It was now my favorite time of day: Blanquette-o’clock.
Wednesday we hiked one of the mountains that makes up the Pyrenees. I knew the journey was going to be magical when I saw the group of wild horses at the base of the mountain. Horse medicine is about freedom, and if freedom was being acknowledged at the foot of the mountain, what would present itself at the top?
We began our ascent. I hadn’t hiked with a group before, and I enjoyed the pulsation of coming together and then walking solo for a while, and then coming together again. The rhythm was quite natural and there was no obligation to stay with anyone or to go it alone.
When I was a child I collected rocks. I thought they were so beautiful and magical and I had a closet with buckets filled with rocks that I’d taken home. I remember feeling like they were alive, and I remember thinking that they were friends I was watching over. Back in Philadelphia I’d been hiking a lot and starting to feel that deep connection to rocks again. Here in the Pyrenees, that love of rocks was bursting out of my heart. The crunch of the rocks underfoot, the way they glistened when the light hit them, each one seeming to say, pick me, pick me! By the end of the hike, I’d found 3 beauties as remembrances.
We kept walking. My heart overflowed, trying to take in all of the beauty of the mountain flowers, being on the same level of the clouds, the crisp, clean smell of the air, and the stark realization of, oh, I’m hiking on a mountain in the South of France.
I stopped and looked out at view. I was hiking the Pyrenees. There was nothing for me to do, nothing to figure out or make sense of. I had been reading so many books before I left Philadelphia driving myself crazy trying to understand my mind and why the last year had been so intense, trying to find words in a book that would help me forgive myself for getting a divorce, forgive myself for not being able to fix it. Maybe I could find the words that would show me how to avoid ever feeling that sad again or causing that sadness for another.
As those thoughts streamed through my mind, I keep walking. The elevation was high and my breath had gotten choppy. My legs were tired and half of our group was way in front of me and half were behind. One person had already gone back to the car. I was near the first peak, maybe 10 minutes away. By now I was above the clouds. I had never seen anything like this landscape with my own eyes. The thought crossed my mind, you’re higher than you’ve ever been. You’re tired. This could be enough. Then my dad popped into my head, the way when we’re walking sometimes he will jokingly call out left, right, left, right, like a military guy. I drank some water and then I kept walking, saying softly to myself, left, right, left, right, with each step.
I felt a burst of energy and then I heard one of our group, Rob, say, it gets easier over here! And sure enough the ground leveled out for a while and it was indeed easier to hike and easier to breathe. I was giddy. We were almost at the top. My eyes were glued to the path, which had again gotten pretty rocky. I climbed over rocks and was going around the side of the mountain where the drop off looked kind of steep. I could hear Rob, but I could no longer see him. And somehow the path seemed to come to an end. I couldn’t see a way up from where I was. I was pissed off. I followed the trail and then it just disappeared? What the fuck? Others had gone this way! Why the hell couldn’t I figure it out? I tried a step here, a step there but I seemed to have run out of options that wouldn’t result in my falling splat against the mountain. So I turned around, walking back the way I came, and I saw Gillain. She said, I thought you were up there already, and I told her I’d lost the path. She said, it’s right here, and when I looked down, it was plain as day, and the path I’d taken had branched off of the clear path. I’d been so intent on it that I hadn’t noticed that it forked.
It was the second time during the trip where I’d lost my way and then I’d followed the voice or sight of someone from our group and that led me back on track. My “I don’t need anyone” persona was definitely getting a different perspective.
I picked a flower as an offering to the Goddess at the pseudo peak. I called it that because it looked like the top, but there was a bit of a higher peak just next to it. When I got to the top of the first peak, I had a good cry. My legs hurt, I’d lost my way for a second, I was exhausted, but I’d done it. There was a beautiful structure made out of rocks. To me it looked like an altar, so I laid my flower on the altar and bowed my head to the earth. I was on the top of a mountain Alone, bowing to the earth. I could’ve stayed there forever. The other peak was another few minutes, and part of me just wanted to stop walking.
Only I heard heavy breathing, and it wasn’t me. I slowly peeled my head off of the ground, and stood up. Oh hai hot guy with a hiking pack!
“Hello, welcome to the top of the mountain!” I said.
We both started cracking up. His name was Milo (which was weird because that’s what I’d named the dog from the previous day). He was from Paris, and he and his peeps had camped the previous night and were finishing up their hike today. We took a mountain peak selfie and then I continued on to the real peak.
It was astounding. See for yourself,
Michelle and Rob were doing cool yoga poses, Gillian and Neil were taking pictures and enjoying the scenery, and I was just sitting there, taking it all in, feeling grateful, happy, and strong.
We took a different path down. I kept slipping, and my knees were aching, but it was an easy descent. It took us half the amount of time and the landscape was totally different than other other path, so there was much to see and admire.
When we got to the bottom, I felt around in my pocket for the rocks. The friction of rubbing against my jacket pocket had created a hole and one of the rocks had fallen out. A small offering to the goddess of the Pyrenees. I wondered what else I had left up there.
We got back to the car just as the mist got heavy and you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you. The wild horses were sleeping. The babies lay on their sides, and the adults slept standing up.
That night we dined al fresco, by candlelight, on fresh truffles with pasta and mountains of Indian food. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so thoroughly comfortable in my own skin.
Tuesday started off with a bang. Michelle, our yoga teacher, led us through some amazing chanting, and all of our voices soared together to call in and appreciate the energy of love and devotion. We then transformed the energy of sound into the fuel needed to shine fully during a kick ass Jivamukti yoga practice. Afterward I wrote a little bit, took some time alone to read and integrate all the amazing experiences this far.
Our destination for the day was Rennes les Bains. The town was formed around some healing natural hot springs. There are people who believe the baths are connected to Christian mythology.
We enjoyed a fabulous picnic on the banks of the river. A beautiful dog hung around us and for some weird reason I named him Milo. The food, the good company, the sights, the cool air…I could feel myself expanding to contain all of that awesomeness.
So it was funny, when it came time to put on my bikini, how quickly my mind defaulted to judgment about my body, how automatic the self deprecating comments were about how I looked having eaten so much cheese and bread. That human moment of saying something diminishing out loud, as If to beat anyone to it who might be thinking it.
Lynda said, you’re beautiful, and we played paparazzi while she took a bunch of photos. She invited me to really get into it and to have fun. When she handed me my camera, I was astonished at how the photos came out.
I saw myself through her eyes. I saw the beauty of not diminishing myself, the beauty of having pure fun, the joy of dropping the habit of shrinking in order to feel safe. I saw what I look like when I give myself permission to just be, the way that light shines through when I take the dark blankets off of her windows.
I felt so grateful to Lynda for lending me her eyes so I could see myself differently. Then I walked down to the pool and fell completely on my ass in front of everyone as I slipped on a rock. ULP!
After a while at the baths, we gathered ourselves and went to Rennes-le-Chateau. If you saw/read DaVinci Code, you’ll have heard of this place.
The castle was cool, but the church was not my cup of tea. Over the entrance are the words (in Latin) This place is terrible. And inside the church, to the left, is a giant statue of a demon. The stages of the cross are there, but apparently they’ve been altered in some way that has created hundreds of weird conspiracy theories. I am highly sensitive to energy and what I felt in that church was a darkness that repulsed me. So I left in search of the light. Oddly enough, I found it on a bench near a giant rock thought to have been used for sacrifices. The bench overlooked a beautiful vista, and it was so peaceful to just sit in silence and appreciation.
It was interesting, the beauty of the baths, the heaviness of the church, the light in the darkness and the darkness in the light. I noticed my energy contract, as I made the church “wrong,” and I noticed a release when I stopped viewing it as wrong, but just not a place I chose to be in. Funny how the removal of judgment creates so much space.
We capped the night off in Limoux, dining al freco with a gorgeous view of the night market in the center of the square. Not only was the Blanquette exquisite, since it hails from Limoux, but I also availed myself to the soupe au chocolate. Imagine a creamy chocolate soup, ladled over bits of meringue and a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.