A Vivid Life. A Creative Life.

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moonandclouds

 

A Vivid Life. A Creative Life.


“Don’t scorn your life just because it’s not dramatic, or it’s impoverished, or it looks dull, or it’s workaday. Don’t scorn it. It is where poetry is taking place if you’ve got the sensitivity to see it, if your eyes are open.” ~ Philip Levine (1928-2015)

 

Yesterday, just before sitting down to prepare my monthly newsletter, I made a great chicken, kale, and bok choy curry for lunch. As I was thinking about what to share in my newsletter, the colors of the curry stood out at me as truly beautiful. I was so aware of the colors and how the vibrant greens reflected the intense nutrition of the food. I was aware of the mix of flavors, of savoring my food, truly savoring it as I ate. And, then my mind went to how beautiful life is when we are sensitive to the richness of vivid experiences felt in the heart.

In the courses I teach on Creativity, I often do an exercise during the third week when I teach about how to observe life keenly. In the exercise, we use all of our senses, slowing each one down, to truly taste – usually chocolate. Each time I lead the class, this very simple exercise brings forth a sensitivity to see, feel, and taste life. In our world, with everything going so fast, and so much time spent with technology, to stop and take time to feel your life is often a gift we rush past, a gift we do not give ourselves (and often) nor our children.

As Philip Levine wrote so beautifully, our lives are where poetry is taking place IF we have the eyes to see it, the ears to hear it, and the sensitivity to really touch what is happening. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided the everyday qualities of earthly existence were non-important and that instead we should focus on the spiritual. But, there is no separation between matter and the sacred.

Everything here is alive, and it is that very aliveness that is the sacred.

For me, as long as I’ve looked for something to be better, to find something better, to hope for days when things would be a certain way, I’ve continued to miss the beauty right in front of my face. It is only here, right here, where we can know what it is to be truly alive, to know the poetry that is taking place before our eyes.

As if to punctuate this vividness for me, as I took a break from working on my newsletter, I stood up and looked outside and the most amazing sunset was breaking over San Francisco. I grabbed my phone, went down to the porch of the building I live in and walked into this magnificent sight – the moon appearing, surrounded by billowing pink clouds. It took my breath away.

It was poetry in the sky.

In April, I’m going to be a grandmother for the FIFTH time. I can always count on my grandchildren to bring me present to this vivid life. Every. Single. Time. They are so real. They remind me to stop, listen, and pay attention.

Take a look around you. Really look, listen, touch, feel. Everything you can encounter is alive with radiance. Pay beautiful attention to this world as if you were a child again. Imagine you’ve just landed on earth for the very first time. Sit down to a meal and use all of your senses as you eat each bite. Notice that you are taking in nourishment. Note that the food came out of the earth so that your body can continue to function. Notice if in doing so, you come more deeply into relationship with life.

This relationship with life is the same relationship you have to your creativity. Our capacity to take in life, to receive what life is offering, is the same capacity we have to bring forth our creativity. And it requires us to pay attention to what is here, to what is being offered and shown to us.

Life is reflecting your countenance back to you. What you see is the radiance you are. 

 

 

WritingRawPinSpring01The Spring Writing Raw circle begins on March 4th, and March 5th. Each week, for six weeks, we hold two calls, one on Wednesdays at 9:00 am PT and the second on Thursdays at 5:00 pm PT.

Here, in the circle, we listen for the poetry of life to express itself through us. We each go into our own inner temple and listen for the voice that has always been here, always waiting to be known.

We listen, we write, and we read.

A beautiful circle of women is gathering. If you feel the pull to join, please do. Writing Raw is a deeply transformational process. Writing Raw can wake you up to your own soul and what your soul is asking of you. Writing Raw offers the opportunity to know yourself, as you are, with acceptance and love.

Read more and register here.

 

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Magic

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orchid

 

 

I see her.

Her left hand out reaching toward me, beckoning me to come with her. Her body is leaning the other way, to her left, showing me the way we will go. I haven’t seen her face for ages.

Eleven. Fifty-eight. Ages.

 

She is alive. Her eyes dance.

She wants to take me back into her innocent world; back into the world I learned to pretend doesn’t exist. But it does. She knows the way. Her body is leaning that way as if to say, “Come, come, let’s go. It’s just you and me. Nobody else is here, now, telling us to be something other than who we are. Nobody is here demanding that we turn our back on magic and step into that cold, dead world where everyone says things they don’t believe and everyone denies they long for something else.”

I left her behind. Not meaning to, really. But, I left her behind. So far behind I’d forgotten who she was. I couldn’t even really remember how it was to be with her, how she laughed or how she would get silly. I couldn’t remember how strong and lithe she was, how in her body she was.

She’s smiling at me with such innocence, such joy. I can tell she hasn’t changed a bit. It’s the smile.

I now remember the exact moment when I turned my back on her. I had to. I had no choice. It’s the only way I could make sense of the senselessness I was being shown. Everywhere I looked there were messages telling me that she had to be forgotten, pushed aside, abandoned. No one wants an eleven year-old pubescent girl to maintain her wholeness. It’s too much. Her wholeness and innocence and provocative ways signal magic.

 

I take her hand and follow.

She wants to show me butterflies. We used to go out to find them, hoping to have one land on our hand. They were free. They were soft and tender, their wings made of the same magic as her heart.

When I first saw her again, really saw her, and heard her calling to me, the tears poured like buckets. Grief. Big buckets of grief. I’ve experienced big grief in my life; grief I never thought I would ever know. But there’s something about realizing you abandoned yourself so long ago, ages ago that cuts to the bone at the center of the heart. That bone. That magic bone.

All I remember is that I was told that my needs were no longer relevant. Those were never the words used, of course. Instead, every indication was that I was here for something other than my own desires. I was here for others’ desires…especially men’s.

Instead of freedom, I began to feel emptiness. Instead of softness, I began to feel a kind of resignation. Instead of feeling me, I began to be really good at feeling everyone else – looking for what they needed, what would make them happy, how to put myself at the back. It sounds like martyr. It looks that way. But it was not. It was believing that my desires didn’t matter. It was believing that I didn’t matter. That suddenly, now, that I was growing up, that the magic in me had to go and the beauty and power of my young girl’s magical soul was not welcome in this world of men and men’s power, and this world of women who had forgotten their own magic.

Or maybe my magic was wanted too much. If I hid it, would they not look at me like they were beginning to look at me? I hid the magic just like I hid my blossoming breasts. The lacy yellow training bra earned the name ‘old yeller’ because I was too embarrassed to wash it and hang it out in the house to dry. In our house of one woman and three girls, a girl’s magic wasn’t spoken of. Menses, breasts, and blossoming desire were only talked about in cursory, logical ways.

 

No magic was mentioned.

There was no map pointing the way from young magical girl to full magical woman. There was no talking about it. There was nothing said between young magical girl and magical woman. And there were no full, magical women to guide me.

How does a girl hang onto the magic of womanhood when so many around her pretend it does not exist?

How does she hold her own hand tightly enough to not lose herself or her magic?

How does she hold her own body close to her heart as she awakens to the shame that others believe is at the heart of womanhood?

How does she not make that shame her own?

How could it be that something so holy, sacred, and brimming with the magic of life becomes something to hide, to ridicule, to dominate, to violate?

I find I have no answers, but I am paying attention to her because she knows things I have forgotten.

 

Her hand is soft and young, still in the shape it was when I turned away.

She’s timeless. Hand in hand, I begin to feel the sweetness of her breath filling my lungs and sense the wonder of her magic beating my heart. I tell her I learned a long time ago to dismiss myself, to defer to others, to hide my light, to make myself small and insignificant. As I say these words, I hear how powerless they sound, how weak I sound. I cringe, yet they are true. She just listens as she holds my hand.

I tell her I don’t know what I want, what I desire. I tell her I’ve forgotten how to desire, how to know, how to choose. I tell her I’ve forgotten how to choose for us, to know what it is I want and to focus on it. She already knows this. She’s been in the background watching me circle and circle, unable to land on the solid turf of completion. She looks at me with such lightness and love. And then she tells me that is why she’s come back – to show me the way home, the way back to magic.

It seems as though she doesn’t hear those other voices that run so often in my head, voices of skepticism, judgment, and shame. She seems to just delight in life itself, in the very real experience of being alive. She is soft and open. The thing I notice most, though, is that she trusts. She trusts herself. And she trusts life. She doesn’t seem to even be aware of this. She doesn’t need to be. Trust was never broken for her. Her connection to life is intact, full, and faithful, as is her connection to herself. She doesn’t seem to be so aware of herself, but instead very aware of everything around her, as if she is immediately affected and enraptured by the smallest butterfly flutter and the gentlest birdsong.

 

As I watch her,

I begin to feel a tiny bit of what it felt like when I knew this world. She is guiding me back home just by her presence and love. I feel great sorrow and grief for what I did, but she doesn’t. She is just happy to have me home again, with her in the magic.

She leads me to a place where lightness abounds, joy flourishes, and softness is evident everywhere. Everything is vibrantly alive. As I look around, I can see the light that infuses breath. Everything is breathing. Everything. Trees. Sky. Earth. Sun. Everything is breathing.

She looks at me with impish delight and asks,

“Do you remember? We used to live here, in this world, together. And, here we are again, together.”

 

 

::

Writing Raw is now open for the third circle, beginning on March 4th. Early-bird is in effect through February 18th.

 

 “i feel so strongly that what you have created in writing raw has this potent link of turning us – leading us – inviting each of us into our own selves. not calling it anything but ourselves, words hinting here and there of naming, but to be ourselves and have faith in that is a great great great gift that is given in that circle.” ~ Barbara Heile, woman painter writer mother
www.heileart.com

 

Read more and register here.

 

 

 

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Caressed by Invisible Grace. God(dess) is Decidedly Sensuous.

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caressedbyinvisiblegrace

caressed by invisible grace

this caress
unseen hands
tender fingertips
that spread across the sky
spread across my face
touch me
like nothing else has
ever
in existence
my face open to the light
my soles on forest floor
this miracle
shines brightly
freedom
connection
so deep in my clay
down where fossils
cease to decay.

::

For as long as I can remember,

I have loved soft warm wind blowing against my face. I never ‘knew’ why, although I used to try to understand. Funny things we do.

The most profound experience I’ve had of this was in Hana, on Maui. There, the air is moist, always moist, and filled with scents. And, it is warm there. It doesn’t get cold in Hana, really.

There, I feel the wild more acutely in my cells, the wild of the land a mirror to the wild of the terrain of my body. 

The soul’s secrets rise to be known on land that isn’t covered over by thought divorced from flesh (concrete one of the literal expressions of this broken marriage). Raw earth offers itself to my raw soul, inviting soul forth into flesh to be touched, felt, and seen. And the conscious mind, for at least a moment, meets soul in this intimacy.

The body is soul’s physical expression. This human body is how soul makes itself known on earth, in flesh. The soul’s longing to experience and be experienced comes through as our longing to see, touch, and feel, and be seen, touched, and felt.

This is the creative impulse to live and to express our sacred uniqueness into flesh and blood and bone – of body and of other physical creation. This is an impulse for life, an appetite to know through experience, through feeling and senses.

Oh, and to think how we deny our appetite for life. Consider how much effort it must take to deny this deep impulse of life, to grow into our fullest expression, to offer it into the world so it can be known.

There is nothing wrong with our appetite, nothing wrong with our desire, nothing wrong with our flesh. There is everything right with creation.

 

“The body is a sacrament. … A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace.” 

“All our inner life and intimacy of soul longs to find an outer mirror. It longs for a form in which it can be seen, felt, and touched. The body is the mirror where the secret world of the soul comes to expression.” ~ John O’Donohue

 

Your body, my body, every body, is the physical manifestation of soul, a physical manifestation of grace.

Invisible grace – like wind. This is what I feel as I am caressed by wind – caressed by invisible grace.

The soul is deeply affected by body and what our body experiences. Earth touched, wind felt, fragrance inhaled, all leave an imprint on soul. I now understand why the different lands I have traveled to, and walked upon, affected me so deeply. My soul took it all in, and my willingness to go, even when I did not understand why, was how this body, this body/mind, walked what she needed to walk for soul to live the experiences soul was hungering for – that outer mirror.

I now have a sense of why I love warm wind against my face. It is not really for me to ‘understand’. It is more that I have the capacity to choose to have those experiences that feed my soul, that feed her appetite for life.

This is life’s grand radiance: this invisible grace making itself known in physical form, and then our physical forms, our bodies, offering back the gifts of this human, everyday, life, to soul.

When every cell of the body is awake with invisible grace, awash with love, alert with awareness, consider how much more fleshy real estate is available for this sacred interchange between flesh and soul, this experience of being alive. Instead of just understanding what it might be like as an idea,

we become fully aflame with life’s grand radiance…a living, breathing, loving vessel of liquid soul.

::

This poem, above, was written during a Writing Raw circle call. They are powerful, potent circles where soul-knowing can pour forth. Join me for the Spring, 2015, Writing Raw circle…now open for registration. We begin the first week of March.

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