Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Laugh anyway

I used to live in 
A cramped house with confusion 
And pain.

But then I met the Friend
And I started getting drunk 
And singing all
Night.

Confusion and pain
Started acting nasty,
Making threats,
With talk like this,

"If you don't stop 'that'---
All that fun---

We're
  Leaving."
-Hafiz

Find a Better Job

Now
That
All your Worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.

-Hafiz

Sunday, August 2, 2015

eyes to see

When I was very young, I heard a story and it goes something like this:
There are two birds that fly over the deserts of California, the condor and the hummingbird.  If you ask the condor what the desert is like, it will describe death and carnage, blood, rot and decay.  If you ask the hummingbird what the desert is like, it will describe flowers dripping with sweet nectar and an unspeakable beauty hidden everywhere.
Life is like that.  We find exactly what we are looking for.  We think it's the other way around.  We think it's random and "happening to us".  But the lens of our particular perception changes everything we see and all we experience.
We literally find what we are looking for.  But we can't trick the looker.  All our positive thinking-new age-psycho babble doesn't focus the lens, our beliefs do. Life isn't "out there" happening to us.  It is in here, happening in us.
If that's the case, perhaps we can stop our victim-perpetrator-coulda-woulda-shoulda stories and ask what it is we expect to see.  There's no judgment.  If I want carnage, it's not hard to find.  If I want beauty, I need only LOOK for it with eyes prepared to see.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

natures invitation

Nature is sanctuary... home... life. When I am surrounded by the natural world it is easier to discard my sense of pompous separation and acknowledge my interconnection with life's many disguises.
When in nature it's ridiculous to assume a Pollyanna approach to its brilliance, waxing on about its kindness.  I know that I don't understand it. I know that I must remain open and alert to the possibilities arising in each moment.
Nature demands respect and careful observation.
Nature demands that we come to our senses.
Literally.
And practice once more our neglected sense of:

  • smell as the scent of pine, wildflower, rain, moose, earth and wind speaks its olfactory dialog with our nose.  
  • taste as our tongue receives the fresh tangy air of a pine forest.  
  • hearing as we silence our cellphones and internal chatter long enough to listen and hear the rustle of wind in trees and the various sound each plant and tree and flower makes as it moves in conversation with the breeze.   
  • touch as we feel the caress of life meeting life in and as tree, flower, bird, moose, you, me. 
With senses open, nature becomes a lover inviting our bodies toward the vulnerability and pleasure of this particular NOW.
It is a miraculous invitation held out to us in every single now since the dawn of creation.  And when we accept it, even for a moment, what wonders we behold.

Monday, July 20, 2015

summer

Three of my best best reasons for smiling throughout the long days and warm nights are as follows: Bodhi, nature and our beloved little dog too... and then there is just the big joy of SUMMER.  Ahhh.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

love-listen

Listening is loving.

If we listened with our whole bodies, what might we hear?  With our senses, with our hearts and with our presence?  You can not actually deeply listen and think at the same time.
Stillness and yet openess.  Spacious benevolence.

Love.

letting go

Nothing good can be lost." - Steinbeck
If that were the case, how might we live differently?
I'll tell you one thing for certain,
I'd sure as hell let go, lean in and rest back
a whole lot more.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

love

"What is love but the acceptance of the other, whatever he is."
-- Anaïs Nin to Henry Miller
I have been contemplating love, real love and not just the "feeling" of love, for a long time now. Most of us are infatuated with an ideal of love or "mate" and not with human beings.  We set up arbitrary parameters saying, "I will love you if... or as long as...".  These parameters provide an artifice of safety from which we expect our beloved other to protect us from all the many unpleasant feelings arising within the scope of intimate interaction. When our ideal of other does not coincide with the fact of other, we unabashedly turn toward our beloved with a vengeance, prepared to crucify him or her for imperfections and abandon our beloved, thirsty and trodden underfoot, along the dusty path of disappointment.  Joseph Campbell wrote, "Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love – and I mean love, not lust – is the imperfection of the human being." When love transcends the "feeling of love" it begins to resemble love itself.  Love isn't greedy or enamored with its own glossy, photoshopped, botoxed and puffed up self concept.  Love offers itself to be known and to know.  In so doing it opens our innermost, vulnerable, raw and imperfect self to be seen...by other and perhaps more importantly by ourselves.  There is no other way to bloom.  Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary, “Where the myth fails, human love begins, then we love a human being, not our dream, but a human being with flaws." 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

growth

We are always growing.  I have decided that I prefer to grow without bystanders shouting their suggestions in my ear or throwing shit balls at me promising compost.  But we are always growing.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

heart hiding

The heart hides in folds of thought, belief, protections and projections.  It hides its spendor in the dark of it own making and mistakes the darkness for reality and "necessary".
Then we open, sometimes just the smallest fissure in the veneer of self, and our undeniable splendor breaks free.  

eight and a half

Bodhi celebrated his half birthday on June 26th (a fun bonus of having your birthday on December 26th).  To celebrate we hiked in our mutual wonderland of nature and enjoyed cake and Bodhi's favorite noodles for supper upon our return.
As he ate his Ramen noodles and extolled the many virtues of said noodles, Bodhi looked askance at me, "I LOVE salad too!  I wonder what Ramen tastes like with lettuce in it?"  He tossed in a few chopped leaves of romaine, stirred and tasted.  "Nope.  No good mom.  I guess some things taste better on their own and not so good when they are mixed together."
Bodhi was quiet for a minute, thinking.  Then he said, "Mom, people are like that too.  Some people are beautiful and fun but when you put them together...bleh.  Owen and I are kind of like that.  We don't mix well but we are both good on our own."  He quietly contemplated a moment longer, before turning to me, "Mom, you just haven't found a man that mixes well with you.  They might for a little while but we need someone who mixes it up like a good soup.  Yea.  People are like that."
I love my son.  He has so much depth and dimension...so many faces of Bodhi and so much fun mixing it up.

Friday, June 26, 2015

perspective

Sometimes we need to look after the flower of our lives by adopting a different perspective.  Tonight as I talked with two dear friends they shared a fresh vantage, full of love and respect.  It's easy to take for granted the impact we have on one another.  Don't.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

freedom

Yes.
As is.
As you are.
As I am.
As this arising moment is.
Yes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Beautiful Ruins

I'm just finishing Jess Walter's wonderful beachy read, Beautiful Ruins and I ran across this timely quote: "All we have is the story we tell.  Everything we do, every decision we make, our strength, weakness, motivation, history, and character-- what we believe-- none of it is real; it's all part of the story we tell. But here's the thing: it's our goddamned story!...No one gets to tell you what your life means".  No one gets to tell your story.  We/I devote so much to energy to who you/they/he/she think I am.  We/I try to improve upon or manage that perception.  In truth that's letting everyone else write our personal story.  The picture above is the outside me, the one carefully crafted with hopes to please, the me you see.
The picture below is a rudimentary sampling of what I actually see.  I don't see me from the outsiders perspective. I see life in all its wonderful and terrible disguises, all the time.  What inane purpose does abandoning our original vantage and adopting the story of others serve?  None that I can tell.

Monday, June 22, 2015

home

I was rather dreading a departure from Hawaii and my beloved God parents and my return to normalcy.  I came home and daily life descended, as I knew it would, with its occasional loneliness and regular responsibilities.  For a few days, while Bodhi was with his Dad and Owen gone for the summer, I moped.  And then I looked around.  WOW!  All the spring rains have turned my home into a lush paradise, complete with variations of green and floral bounty to rival any of my haunts on Kauai.
 Beauty is literally all around.
 And now that Bodhi's laughter once more fills our home, moping has been all but forgotten.
And small adventures fill our days... like bike rides to the gym, trips to the market, neighborhood walks, stumbling upon one stranger after another who generously open their lives and hearts to us with the warm friendliness of summer. 

kauai

Back from Kauai...ahh.  What a way to start summer.  Sand, sea, love, family and a long deep exhale.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

lotus

The lotus generally grows in mud or mirky waters but it always flowers fresh each day.  Perhaps all the pyscho-babbling-spiritual-mumbo-seeking-reaching-efforts to transform aren't necessary.  Perhaps, we can just surrender, knowing that there is mud and there's always going to be mud. Life is as it is.  And still we bloom.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

shame

I was recently asked why I blogged or engaged in a continual reflection on my thoughts or feelings.  Wasn't I at least a little ashamed to indulge my continual, narcissistic, self reflection in a world full of genuine need, suffering and pain.  This came at a time when I really had nothing left to battle with.
I went belly up with shame.  
My old answer didn't suffice.  I no longer blog for the same reason that I once did.  There wasn't an adequate answer.  Shame asked, "who do you think you are to put your thoughts, ideas and writing out into the world?"
Brown defines shame as the "intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging". 
Shame kicked my ass.  
I thought of deleting the blog.  
I felt ashamed of who I am, how I think, how I feel, how I live.  I came face to face with my own darkest self. Who am I to occupy space?  Who am I to hope for love?  Unworthiness and self loathing took up residence at my table and in my bed.  I tried to be different, to feel less and reflect less, to BE more and to learn to shut up.  I tried because I, like all of you, want, nay need, love and belonging.  
My heart broke and not in the dramatic or romantic way.  I found myself stripped raw, standing or laying on the ground of my being.  I realized in that dark night that the very thing I spent a lifetime resisting, a lifetime of trying to be good enough, pleasing enough and attractive enough or smart enough or good enough to overcome, was ME.  In that darkness, when all my coping strategies, and resistance fell away, there was a spaciousness that didn't demand "me" to be other than I am or life to be other than it is. 
And for perhaps the first time, I sensed my own worth, as I am, in this moment. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

love

"The moment you see how important it is to love yourself you will stop making others suffer."
-Buddha

Perhaps we can stop treating ourselves like the enemy.  Perhaps we can stop focusing on the problems we see, because, let's face it, everyone has them and they tend to sprout new heads the moment we slay them.   Perhaps we can simply examine how we approach ourselves and learn to do it with some space, some kindness and YES love.

Friday, May 22, 2015

trail closed

On the trail when I see a sign like this, I don't stand in dismay, staring at it, wondering what I might have done to warrant its closure.  Did I walk too vigorously?  Did I stray from the trail?  Was I too frequent or unusual with my foot traffic?  Ridiculous.  No.  I just find an alternate route and keep walking.  I trust the closure for it's own sake.  I look for emerging wildflowers.  I befriend the trail, as is.  It's time to apply the same logic to my life.  When a relationship ends.  When a shift happens.  When a trail closes.  I don't need to examine myself to the nth degree.  I can just see it for what it is.  Trail closed.  And walk on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

alone

When I was nineteen I forced myself to sleep alone in the woods, far from civilization, once a month for a few years (weather permitting).  Then, one early morning, as I lay there wrestling with my fear it dawned on me... "I'm afraid of being alone."  It was that simple.  I got up, packed my bag and never slept alone in the woods again.  Twenty two years later, after several relationships and heart break, as I lay in bed wrestling with the dark I realized, "I'm afraid of being alone".  I can't just pack up my sleeping bag this time.  But the same compassion finally overtook me and I turned with loving kindness to the woman and said simply, "I know".  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

echoes and illusions

Therefore, steal, or still, the echo, so that you don’t allow an event, however unpleasant or momentous, to claim any more time than it took for it to occur...
What your foes do derives its significance or consequence from the way you react. 
Therefore, rush through or past them as though they were yellow and not red lights. 
Don’t linger on them mentally or verbally; don’t pride yourself on forgiving or forgetting them — worse come to worse, do the forgetting first. 
This way you’ll spare your brain cells a lot of useless agitation; this way, perhaps, you may even save those pigheads from themselves, since the prospect of being forgotten is shorter than that of being forgiven. 
So flip the channel: you can’t put this network out of circulation, but at least you can reduce its ratings. Now, this solution is not likely to please angels, but, then again, it’s bound to hurt demons, and for the moment that’s all that really matters.
-Joseph Brodsky

I recently encountered a very clear and unflattering reflection of my inner workings.  I initially tried to break the damn mirror.  Next, I made every effort to discount the reflection and question the value of any friend so brazen and "unkind" as to offer up my underbelly for inspection.  But a reflection, once seen, can never be unseen.
I have carried around a hulking history for more minutes, months and years than I care to count.  I have developed calluses and coping strategies to accommodate its weight. It's an antecedent.  It does not exist now.  It's only labored forward by my perpetual Sisyphusian effort to carry it with me.  That rock insists that I am, who I am, based solely on an accumulation of who I have been, complete with trauma, pain and a lot of human bullshit.  So.  How do you stop the cycle?  There are no Gods insisting that I keep pushing this damn rock up the hill.  As terrifying as it may be the only other option is to face life on it's own terms.  And all that is left to do is live. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Loving the unloveable

How do we love ourselves when we are at our most unloveable? How do we open our hearts with compassion to our own ardent stupidity and love ourselves anyway? And not turn toward some unsuspecting OTHER in the hope that they will alleviate the pain associated with coming face to face with our own shadow?  Or hide from it with our distraction of choice, meditation, exercise, do gooding or the host of others employed by humans across time?  In that fierce darkness, when all of our external brilliance has forsaken us and we stand naked, bald and exposed before the condemning mirror of other, can we in that bleak moment offer up a spacious presence for life as it is, right now.  Shaking and uncertain, I stand on that precipice expanding my heart large enough to hold me, unloved or unloveable, exactly as I am right now.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

enrealment

I am not interested in enlightenment,
if it means detachment from the emotional body,
the earth plane, the challenges of being human. 
I am interested in enrealment,
because it means that my most spiritual moments are inclusive,
arising right in the heart of all that is human:
joy and sorrow, shopping list and unity consciousness,
fresh mangoes and stale bread.

Enrealment is about living in all aspects of reality simultaneously
rather than only those realms that feel the most comfortable. 

We are not just the light, or the mind,
or the emptiness, or perpetual positivity.
We are the everything. It's ALL God,
even the dust that falls off my awakening heart. 

- Jeff Brown

Sunday, April 19, 2015

For Davey

"Sure.  I'll make small talk.
Chit chat.
Discuss the ins and outs of a "typical" day.
Pass the time lightly.
Say tiny things.
I'm happy to tread surfaces with a smile,
and will.
Sometimes.
Yet- when I look at you,
I know there are layers.
Dimensions.
Collections of ancient wisdom.
Roads.
Stories on stories on stories.
Core needs.
Humanness.
This is where I light up.
This is where I thrive.
You can't be caged in a pool for long.
Not when you're someone
who wants oceans."     -V. Erickson

I visited with my beautiful, big brother today.  A video chat.  Twenty minutes of freedom from his solitary confines.  In my eyes he was beauty. No less than a rare flower blooming in a parched and barren field.  He shared a recent glimpse of hard earned wisdom... "Sis, we are all infants. No matter our age.  We all share the same basic human needs. An infant will die without human touch.  We all need to be loved."
Of course we all need food, shelter and water.   But like infants we all also require, REQUIRE!! love, human touch and a sense of belonging.  We need it.  We can do without it and the body will survive, but what of the soul, the heart, the wide ocean of being?  To deny another living human of touch and care is a cruelty no less horrific than starvation.  When I consider how we punish others and push away the very people most in need of our warmth and tenderness and care, I wonder how we can begin to call ourselves a "civilized" people.
We can not begin to claim our inheritance as the humans we are capable of being, until we recognize another's suffering as our own and turn the light of our own love on the shadows of pain and loneliness all around.
I love you David Lon Lloyd Jr., heart and soul, stem to stern.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

unknown

Commuting to work this morning, surrounded by other cars and drivers intent on destinations to I know not where, I began to contemplate the unknown and unknowable nature of life.  Our big human brains spend a great deal of time and energy buffering against the present and imagining some measure of control.  We indulge elaborate contortions of self aggrandizement in an attempt to prop up our sense of the known.  We worry about the future, plan for it and rush headlong toward it.  We carry a satchel of memories and stories and nonsense, heavy laden, on bent backs weary from use.

The one moment we seem intent on ignoring is this one.  Why?  Could it be that this moment is inviting us, exactly as it is, to a robust kind of vulnerability?  A not knowing?  I have begun to believe that the greatest growth opportunity is found in a thorough examination of our relationship with the unknown.

I have five dear friends presently wrestling with cancer.  I witness their courage and endurance as they face the uncertainty of life, an uncertainty in which we are all steeped, but feel entitled to ignore.  What kind of blinders must we wear to avoid the simple, stark and glaringly obvious truth that this moment, exactly as it is, is the only moment there will ever be.  Imagine the weightlessness of this depth encounter, when all of our resistances are laid down and we come, with empty hands, naked and unabashed, to this one, perfect-as-it-is NOW.  This life. This moment. This breath. Anything less is a human parody masquerading as truth with all the pomp and puffed up circumstance that our busy minds can muster.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My mentor once told me, "You can never make an authentic YES before you can make an authentic NO."  That is true in all manner of things, across experience and emotional continents.  It has been the hardest word I have ever learned to say.  As it crosses my lips, my heart caves with a longing to please and love.  It tries to find a way toward "yes", bending and bending and nearly breaking before a whisper of "no" rises to the surface.  With each failed YES, I have been hardest on my self, demanding that I love more, judge less, evolve faster, become more mindful, more conscious, more forgiving, stronger, healthier, less needful...you name it.
The times have changed.
I can no longer contort myself into strange pretzels of consent in order to avoid a simple and strong NO.
"No" pisses people off.
So what?
The reality is that  people aren't all that dissimilar from toddlers and "No" also makes all of us feel a sense of safety and security.  The edges are clearly defined.  If we wait to issue our needs until we are perilously close to falling off the cliff of our own boundaries, we seldom offer them with mindful clarity.  If instead we pony up and say NO at the onset, we can define our parameters with strength and a no nonsense kindness.
"No.  You can't have my phone number."
"No.  It's not okay for my son to come home at midnight when we agree to a 9:30 arrival."
"No.  I won't clean up your emotional shit because you are unwilling to acknowledge it."
"No."
My practice has been YES, but NO can actually deepen YES when it is fully integrated and deeply lived.
"YES to life, because I trust myself to say NO when necessary".
"YES to love because I trust myself to show up with integrity."
Every solid yes is supported by an authentic capacity for NO.
It turns out that YES and NO aren't mutually exclusive, they and mutually required.
Yet another of life's little paradoxes that defies our human tendency toward either/or. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

kindness

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.
~Amelia Earhart

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bloom


Do you think the flower delights in my attention as I bend, love struck toward her beauty?  Does she feel the splendor of my love and turn toward it like sunshine?  I doubt it.  Flowers bloom because it is their nature to bloom.  Their beauty, seen or unseen, acknowledged or unacknowledged, is the natural expression of flower.  And yet, as human beings, we are blind to our sublimity, desperately seeking the light of other… bending toward the hope of their appreciation, love, attention, affirmation or whatever hot-sought object or ideal occupies the nexus of our desire.  Could it be that our beauty is as inseparable from what we are as the flower is to the bud?  Is it possible that in our seeking to be loved we have relinquished the simple knowing that it doesn't matter.  That what we already are has the power to stop someone in their tracks and cause them to bend, in wild wonder toward our own brilliance? Perhaps the act of seeking is a constant forgetting, blinding us to the simple expansion of our own blooming nature.
Why wait to see if anyone is looking or if anyone notices… just fuckin' BLOOM!