I thought I’d introduce myself to readers new and old. Lots has changed since I started this blog!
We’re all in this space of rebirth, even the planet herself as she rages with fires of purification and waters of renewal. Personally, I’m being called to bring more of my self outward after a long (very long) inward journey. It’s a little scary stepping out!! But I know can’t keep the wisdom or the lessons to the myself because they aren’t mine to begin with. They’re meant to be shared with you dear reader!
When I started this blog my world felt topsy turvy and rightly so because many MANY things in my little world came crashing down. All of them for good reason, though I didn’t know it at the time! I came to understand that the old ways just wouldn’t work anymore. Something was calling me home to myself and the whole situation was at times ridiculously confusing to me. Everything I had attachments to–wanting to have another child,wanting to start a proper career in the law–crumbled like dust. I look back at that confused, exhausted and tapped out woman and I hardly recognizer her as me. That was seven years ago but might has well have been many lifetimes ago!
Recently after working with some clients who are really struggling, I was thinking about how so many in the world are at their root needing hope. I thought, wow if only people knew that it will be ok, they will be ok! And then with the subtly of a cartoon piano falling from the sky, I heard source cackling at me going, GEE IF ONLY SOMEONE COULD SHARE THEIR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF LIVING THROUGH DESPAIR AND COMING OUT BETTER THAN EVER AT THE END. Ohhhhh. So that’s what you want me to do! (Face palm. Lol)
Our world en masse is facing so much and reckoning with so much. But there is nothing to fear. There is a grander plan that is pushing you to a place that will bring you home to yourself, urging you or in some cases bonking you over the head with the message! So many are living through nothing short of terror, with fires raging outside their door, pandemics lurking outside the masks, protests roaring in the streets. Breathe deep. This is the definition of an initiation and is painful and hard. Frankly it sucks. It is meant to wake you from your slumber. I’s awakening medicine in yourself you didn’t know you had, gifts that were dormant. Lives longing to be lived.
We aren’t of this world of pain and suffering and joy is our birthright. Hard to see when the world is burning but keep in mind the old must fall before the new rises. Whatever you are going through, know I send you love and blessings that you path through it all with as much ease and grace possible.
I’m currently drinking contraband iced coffee in the teen section of my local library. No teens are here because it is way before noon (as I type this!) Which means that despite the many NO food in the library signs it’s the perfect place to be a rule breaker with my iced coffee tucked away in my purse.
I’m working hard lately breaking norms, societal and self-imposed. Let’s just say the iced-coffee-in-the-library is but a tiny start.
It’s been a long yet short summer of weirdness but wonderfulness. I haven’t written on this blog since April, and not writing and sharing here is a habit I plan to break. I literally woke up yesterday and thought, I need to start writing again. Actually, back that up…I think the realization first came after I did an exercise recently (as a spiritual student of Magdala Ramirez, check her out she is amazing) that got me thinking about ways that widsom has been shared when I needed it most, and how I might share it with the ones who come after me. This blog being a tiny corner of the world to do just that!
Yes much has been received and it’s time to give, too! In this long/short weird/wonderful summer I have been integrating a LOT. I went to sacred ceremony (priestess ceremony) for five days in June and it basically took me all summer to unpack what I experienced. I’m realizing that unpacking it isn’t quite enough. I don’t want to hold tight to knowledge. I need to bring it forth!
Earlier this summer I heard this really great episode of the Pele Report (a weekly video/podcast by Kaypacha) where he talked about how we make something sacred once we share it back with the world. (Trying to find the episode…once I find it I’ll post the link!) For example, let’s say you create art. The creation of the art might be a spiritual act, but if you keep it to yourself you have only done half of the work. In sharing it with the outside world you make it sacred. That final step can feel scary and vulnerable but it’s also so freaking POWERFUL. It becomes a full circle moment. Not just receiving but giving it back to source in a new way.
Which brings me back here, typing in the library as I sneak some coffee. In so many areas of my life I’m being called to bring it forward. No more hiding, no more clinging, just free low of love! It’s boundless and endless, so why cling tight or hold it or hide it?! Let’s make it sacred! Even if we are a little scared! (Wow flip those letters and scared becomes sacred. Just blew my own mind a little! 😂)
This is my long and meandering way of saying I plan to write here a lot more often. I’m excited to hear what you are up to as well. Are you hearing the call to bring it forth? I’d love to hear about it!
I’ve been thinking about the women on the family tree, their circles blackened and crossed out. Elizabeth – Breast, 31. Elizabeth’s cousin (name unknown): Breast, 30s. Elizabeth’s cousin (also name unknown): Breast, 30s. Diane, Breast, 44. Brain mets. 46.
Circles signify women, and blackened circles signify cancer. Lines through them signify death.
I’ve been thinking about how we explain and classify these early deaths of four women in my family.
THE H1686R VARIANT HAS BEEN RECLASSIFIED TO ‘SUSPECTED DELETERIOUS’, MEANING IT IS SUSPECTED TO BE A SIGNIFICANT MUTATION AND IS LIKELY THE CAUSE OF THE BREAST CANCER IN DIANE’S FAMILY.
Letter to my father from Barbara Ann Karmanos Center Institute, Dated May 7, 2015, informing of newfound information on my late mother’s BRCA1 gene mutation known as H1686R.
I’ve been thinking about how names on a chart and genetic abnormalities deny a simple truth: cancer over and over again struck the symbol of feminine nurturing and sustenance–the breasts of young mothers–in my maternal lineage.
I’ve been thinking about the assault on women’s bodies–and male bodies too. To paraphrase Eve Ensler, how patriarchy kills men in their hearts…and women in their breasts. Hearts and breasts.
Photo of my grandmother Elizabeth
Certainly I’ve been thinking about my late mom (Diane), and the grandmother I never met (Elizabeth), and her cousins (names unknown) on the genetic chart, called a pedigree. I’ve been thinking about other women too. Debby and Angela, two women I knew and admired, both not much older than myself, who died recently of breast cancer. Circles blackened and crossed out.
I’ve been thinking about the assault on our bodies and our land. Blackened and crossed.
I’ve been thinking about how our vitality as women and mothers is wrapped in the vitality of the earth. That waiting any longer to confront this truth is a pathology.
We can no longer deny the destiny that is ours by becoming women who wait–waiting to love, waiting to speak, waiting to act. This is not patience, but pathology. We are sensual, sexual beings, intrinsically bound to both Heaven and Earth, our bodies a hologram. In our withholding of power, we abrogate power, and that creates war.
I was going to write about the wasteland, but first I need to tell you about vitality and joy. That they are your birthright. You were born to be a wellspring of creation as part of nature, not separate. You were born to bear fruit and yes, also turn fallow when the seasons turn. But all part of a rhythm and cycle of life. Not distorted or shuttered, not churning out products like a machine or lying withered–no, simply part ongoing cycle of birth, death, regeneration and rest.
Yes, vitality is your birthright. Let that sink in. It took me until my fortieth orbit around the sun to re-remember this truth.
To accept vitality as your birthright means to accept that these states of being matter in the first place. That joy matters. That how you are is as important as what you do.
Like most people I didn’t arrive to these lessons through sitting in the light. No, I was awoken by despair. By the creeping realization that my infertility was a symptom of a larger imbalance, including decades of small choices that placed priorities of doing over being. Choices that sucked away my vitality and juiciness, for lack of a better word. Painful lessons that being tapped out, dried up and exhausted wasn’t a state of being I had to simply grin and bear.
I no longer accept that my reality has to include certain compromises. It took sitting in a chair with a crappy ovulation report (“you have low fertility for someone your age – who let’s be honest, tends to have low fertility to begin with!” (I paraphrase)) to finally accept something I knew deep down, which was of course my body was sucked dry. Of course I could not longer dictate my body perform magic (creating a human for crying out loud!) with a snap of fingers. The well had run dry and the pied piper was coming to collect its dues. This wasn’t personal. It simply was what happens when nature is in imbalance. Too many years of drought? Well, you won’t see a good crop for some time. My body was no different.
And what of our great mother earth? As I frittered away in my own world, despairing about the state of my body, my family fled our home because of mother nature’s massive hurricane, category five, whose eye touched kissed the ground near our home, causing “once every-two-hundred-years” flooding. Mother nature is out of balance too. Too much has been demanded of her for too long.
Where does this leave me? Demanding vitality as my own birthright–and mother earth’s, too.
I’ve resisted writing about this because of an inner critic that tells me the story is cliche, predictable and trite. (Which basically means there’s a part of me that still believes it is all of those things.) But forget that. Too many women have been too silent for too long and that’s what got us into this mess. I write to silence my own inner critic but also to show my daughter how to cherish her vitality and joy. To fight for it tooth and nail the moment she sees it slipping away or being stolen from her in the name of progress.
After the real hurricane–Irma–I was surrounded by so many blessings. I saw them everywhere I looked. My house was still standing! The flood waters stopped short of entering my front door! (Barely.) The palm tree went down, sure, but it missed hitting our roof! And electricity, blessed electricity I so-take-for-granted–it eventually came back on!
That’s the thing about living through a hurricane. If you survive it mostly intact, it has a way of distilling what matters. For instance, living in a home with more than one room becomes a wonderful gift. (My daughter still to this day wants to play “hotel” because nothing was as amazing as having her mom and dad with her 24 HOURS A DAY, EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY, IN THE SHARED SPACE OF ONE HOTEL ROOM. She’s most definitely not an introvert like her mother, who to this day does not know how she survived the experience without totally losing her ish.)
If 2017 was cleaning up after a hurricane, the year 2016 was the hurricane. I could say it was a year of deep surrender, unveiling of truths, healing wounds and rediscovering joy. But really it was the year I owned my bullshit. (See Elizabeth Gilbert quote.) After that epic year of owning my shit, in 2017 it became very clear to me that experiencing joy was not compatible with duties that sucked the joy from my life. Shonda Rhimes may have had her year of yes, but 2017 was my year of no.
Yes, this past year was all about Does it bring me joy? No? GOODBYE FELICIA. Does it take time away from my ability to experience joy? SO LONG, WON’T CATCH YA LATER. Are my choices leading to burnout and fatigue, therefore limiting my energy to create art and experience joy? DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.
This of course was more complicated than I’m making it sound. In one stretch of weeks this past fall I remember collapsing while sick (likely due to lack of sleep) and crying in a puddle of tears. I CAN’T DO IT ALL, WOE IS MEEEEEEE! Well of course you can’t do it all, foolish woman! I had the startling realization that there was still a LOT more no to be said. I faced some major Catholic guilt…”but i promised these people I would volunteer with this project! I can’t possibly quit!” Yes you did, and now you must pay the piper and admit you over-committed. Suck it up buttercup! Time to say no!
I said no. . .and I survived. It felt good actually. I nurtured my yin — the feminine energy fueled by rest, introspection, creativity, and deep glorious sleep. I asked for a sleep mask for Christmas and I wear it with glee. I go to bed early, really early. I even (GASP) went off coffee for a long while so I could rid myself of the addiction to caffeine. It wasn’t needed now that I wasn’t trying to do more in a day than was humanly possible! Such joy and freedom in saying NO. For calling bullshit on the inner dialog that said “this is how it is, I work fulltime and have a child and blah blah blah here are alllll my excuses for why I should be permanently frazzled and fatigued.” Facing the truth–that my time is precious indeed, so how can I use it to fuel joy?–was LIBERATING and EMPOWERING.
Where does this leave me as I say goodbye to 2017? The trash has been taken out. The roles and responsibilities have been winnowed down to essentials only. Now I need to step into my truth. No more excuses. No more distractions. 2018 is where it becomes manifest. Ultimately it will mean living my truth. Time to take the plunge, baby.
Are you ready? I am. Well, mostly. I’m sipping a coffee as I write this (some habits are hard to break) BUT I did sleep soundly for eight hours with my beloved sleep mask. No more excuses, no more hiding. Let’s do this.
That’s the mantra that came to me recently during a walking meditation. (Walking meditation=me walking, trying not to have incessant mind-chatter and instead trying to breathe deep and stay present. Occasionally it works!) Well, the mantra keeps ringing in my ears lately, probably because I haven’t been following the mantra. I’m not sure if it is the holidays and their capacity to bring out grief, or the fact that we are nearing the end of one HECK of a sober year (though I still contend that 2016 was worse), but it seems every new day brings reckoning of truths I’d rather not deal with.
I’m old enough to know that what resists, persists, so reckon with them I shall. That doesn’t mean I always do so immediately and quickly.
Take for example the story of the misplaced lost driver’s license. I recently misplaced my driver’s license. I resisted the idea that I lost it. So certain that I would find it, I didn’t deal with it for mumble-mumble-seven-days-mumble.
I literally had to bribe myself with a fancy starbucks coffee to get myself to go to the DMV and replace the license yesterday. And. . .while they took a downright horrible photo of me with what can only be described as CRAZY EYES--overall the whole thing was pretty painless. It turns out my identification is “verified” in the system (whatever that means) and I didn’t even have to schlep fifteen forms of ID with me to get it taken care of. So much mental energy thinking about it and really, what for? I got a coffee out of the deal. I got a crazy-eyed photo out of the deal. I’m good with the law. What was the problem here.
The moral of this story is that the reckoning is sometimes easier than the thinking about the reckoning. The heartaches, the fears, the unknowns, the unspeakables, the not-pretties, the lost objects, all the junk you just don’t want to think about or deal with. . .just like my lost license, I have a hunch they won’t magically resolve on their own.
Of course, I’m holding onto the fact that mantra has another part to it: keep the faith. I mean, there is only so much compost to be made from all this sh*t, and I am told it helps to grow beautiful gardens. This too shall pass. 2018 is around the corner and I have a hunch maybe, just maybe, good things are in store. We survived 2016, and 2017, so hey things have got to chill out eventually right? (If not, we can always look at my cross-eyed DMV photo and have a good laugh.)
What do you have to reckon with that you are resisting? You can do it, really you can.
(*I started reading Be Here Now, the classic Harvard-prof-drops-acid-expands-mind-seeks-enlightenment-goes-to-India-discovers-guru-but-guess-what-the-guru-is-in-us-all book. It’s awesome. I can’t put it down.)
Let me back up and first say that I used to believe be here now was a way of escaping reality. What do you mean, be here now? I need to think about next week’s fall festival at my daughter’s pre-school which means making a “princess-witch” costume (which is not a thing but my daughter has envisioned it so we will make it a thing). And I need to think about the mortgage payment next week, and blah blah blah blah blah.
I’m starting to really get that being in the here and now is not escaping all of that, no, but in many ways is RECKONING with all of it. Let me give you an example.
In the here and now I realized that my life was out of balance. In the here and now I realized I was experiencing stress–because all those worries about all the stuff I had to do came bubbling up in the here and now–and by sitting and staring at it in the face I reckoned with it. And in the next here and now (which is not this here and now) I made some hard choices about volunteer gigs I had promised and realized I’d overextended myself (something I do) and in the here and now I said, I cannot do this, something’s gotta give. And in the here and now I cancelled commitments I very much feared cancelling for fear of letting others down, and I faced some shame, gave some love to the shame, and reckoned with it all. Stuff that if I’d pushed away and pushed away would have likely bubbled up in more dramatic ways down the road.
In the here and now I reckon with the fact that I drank too many margaritas with my husband on date night (ok and ate too many chips and salsa too) and saw my weight loss successes diminish. (OUCH.) In the here and now I see that it was easier to blame my husband for the morning’s snafu trying to get our daughter out the door rather than facing the hard reality that she simply struggles with separation anxiety and it is what it whether I like it or not! In the here and now I look at all the laundry, so much laundry, a lot of clean (YAY) but not put away, some if it dirty (sigh) and I think, yikes why can’t I get it together. In the here and now I respond to that critical voice with, hey Sarah I love you doing the best you can juggling the mess of life.
There is no escape in the here and now. There is no hiding in the here and now. Here and now is HARD. It is hard with marriage and a kid. It is hard with the stuff we don’t want to see. But when we see it and face and and release it…wow it transforms.
How can you sit in the here and now? What might you reckon with if you do so? I’m cheering you on. You got this.