Softer and More Real

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“The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.

I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love. “

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrow

 

Twenty-one years ago, today:

How can I walk away from his body, knowing I will never see him again? I stroke his hair, golden with light. He looks so old, and yet he looks young again, too, young like when I met him. He’s always been so alive, so full of everything. He didn’t do anything half way. He was intensely loving and intensely alive. A million memories flash before my eyes. When we married, and I said, “’til death do us part”, I wondered when that might be, even if only for a split second. And now I know. Death has parted us and I now know it is time to go.

It is hard to take this last look and give this last kiss. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I touch his face, trying to capture the memory of him into the layers of my skin. His golden hair is the last piece of his body I touch before I turn to walk away.

 

April 17th, today:

Looking back, it’s been a long, long time since I said goodbye, yet through these years of journeying to find myself, to wake up, to come to some realization of who and what I am, I’m discovering that I’m also coming to know in a deeper way who my late husband Gary was, to have ‘a more perfect understanding’ of who we both were and are.

Yes, his death was painful. It was a tearing apart of two souls. And, it was also a tearing apart of places where we held each other up in this life, where he was my ground and I his.

It was also beautiful in that it opened me to a larger view of what it means to be a human being. No longer protected from pain, I found myself, as Joanna Macy describes in her interview with Krista Tippett, “dipped in beauty”. I remember lying on my bed, racked with grief, and realizing that I was experiencing a profound beauty. It was puzzling at first because those two things didn’t seem to fit together – painful grief and beauty. But there it was – the distinct experience of the beautiful.

Sometimes we have to know the deepest pain and grief of death in order to feel the most glorious joy and aliveness of life.

Now, twenty-one years later, as I sit more fully in my humanity, I see what a powerful teacher death can be. To live many years with this significant loss is an opportunity to not deny death but to carry it with me as I live. When I turned 47, the age Gary was when he died, I felt grateful to be alive. When my daughters married, again I felt so fortunate to be there to witness those important rites. And, when each of my grandchildren came into this world, I relished the moments much more than I might have if Gary had been there with us, too. Because death is a part of life.

There’s a bittersweetness to life when you carry death with you. By ‘carry’ I don’t mean to hang onto because I’m not willing to see reality. Rather, I mean living with the knowing that I am alive and he is not, and that his death helps me to remember that totality of this existence.

Gary’s death woke me up to that deep longing inside to want to know who and what I am. His death brought me more into life. I don’t know how my life might have unfolded if he had lived, but I do know that I would not have seen the deep, deep beauty that is inherent in the heart breaking open. His death also brought me to come to appreciate him more. The deeper I come into myself, the more I realize how deep he was and how much of him I never got to know. And, through his death and the profound grief I encountered, I’ve been able to be with the parts of my life, and in the world today, that have been, and are, truly heartbreaking since that day I said good-bye.

I share this with you as a celebration of the whole of life, as a remembrance to hold the whole of life with great love. I feel death can make us softer and more real.

 

 

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May you hold your womb with just as much love, respect, and kindness as you hold your logical, rational mind.

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Life is a mystery –  a big, bold, beautiful, pregnant, gracious, infinite, and sacred mystery.

 

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Life isn’t a logical process. It’s not a machine that we can make run smooth and efficiently. It’s not controllable. It doesn’t bend to our wants. It doesn’t take commands.

Who decided it was a good idea to put the analytical, logical, reasonable thinking mind in charge of trying to navigate life?

Poor logical mind. No wonder it gets so stressed out, so burned out, so controlling and fearful. It’s trying to do a job it just cannot do. How can you possibly use logic and reason to live the mystery and stay sane? It’s learned ways to cope with this job (we all have our ingrained coping mechanisms that really aren’t so great at doing what they are intended to do!), but coping and hanging on just isn’t living, is it?!

No wonder we keep thinking up the same old ideas, creating the same old stuff, digging ourselves as a species deeper into our own worn-out, status-quo ruts. The thinking mind is very good at perpetuating its ruts and stories, dragging out its outdated ideas and beliefs. It’s not good an honoring the mystery because it just doesn’t ‘get it’. It’s not designed to ‘get it’. It’s designed to handle the places where rationality and logic are needed…and there are many places…but it’s not designed to birth what is completely and utterly new. The thinking, logical mind can help midwife the new, but it can’t get pregnant. Pregnancy is for womb’s, the source of the mystery, the source of Life itself.

If we want to birth the new, we must listen to Life and what is trying to be born. If we want to be loving midwifes to what can be, we must feel for new life stirring, feel for the first heartbeats, and be willing to support this new life into being.

Like deep rich soil, like a teeming ocean, the place of gestation shimmers with a wordless, graceful essence we will never fully know; yet, we can know what is emerging from this wordless, graceful ocean as it emerges…as it is born. To do so, we must learn to listen and open, to be ready to bring forth, to be used as vessels for this Love that is Life.

Our bodies know the way. Our hearts will guide. Our minds can rest and when they are needed they can be ready to serve. Every part has a sacred part to play in this mysterious dance, and when they play their natural parts, the really do play.

Find what feels like play – to your body, your heart, and your mind. Find what brings that quiet joy, that aliveness that causes a whole-body smile. Put your ear to the big womb and listen for the heartbeat of life and find the place in yourself where you long to midwife it into being.

This is where the new world, a new way, will emerge…from the dark that we all can once again learn to trust. It isn’t the enemy…it is Life teeming with Life.

And, this is where the old world, the old way, will die back into – the dark that we all can once again learn to trust. It isn’t the enemy…it is Life receiving into itself what has lived its course.

We really do love the New – it’s why we get so excited for these New things like New Years Day. The real beauty is that it is only an illusion that this New Year will lose its newness. Life never loses its newness, just as it never stops letting go into death. They are bedfellows – the New and the Dying. If you feel into this, you’ll feel the whole arc of Life, this shimmering graceful essence.

May this New Year – a construct of the logical mind that need dates, times, goals – be a turning point for us all to become lovers and midwives of the New, the fresh, the playful innocence of Life wanting to know itself anew – and lovers and midwives of the dying.

May you hold your womb with just as much love, respect, and kindness as you hold your logical, rational mind.

May we love all. May we love well.

***

Womb Update!

I’ll be co-leading a day-long retreat with my friend, Simone de Winter, this January 25th in West Marin County. It’s all about ‘A Woman’s Belly!’. It will be the perfect way to bring more health, strength, and creativity to your life by way of your Womb!

Take a look here. If you aren’t in the Bay Area, but know a woman who is, please pass this along.

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Gratitude. It’s in the Details.

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mumwithdew

 

The morning light that makes its way into my living room is, more often than not, pink.

Each day, the ravens circle outside my living room window, speaking in a language I know in my belly.

My belly skin has a scar that runs across its center from the Hysterectomy I had when I was 29.

For the slightest second, my lips caress the skin of his cheek, and our eyes meet unveiled. We are ‘us’ for just a moment in time.

Time ticks by on my bedroom nightstand.

I pull back the sheets and climb into an empty bed.

I meditate in bed in the early morning hours, sometimes falling back into the deepest sleep when I am done.

I take pictures of flowers for meditation.

There is a beautiful flower shop just down the street.

I walk the steep streets of San Francisco, with homes like walled fortresses.

The wall I am facing holds images and words of things I never want to forget.

My late-husband is always in my heart, even though there are days when he doesn’t cross my mind.

My grandchildren will never know him.

I once remembered everything.

My body heaves with a big sigh.

I see what is here.

I am grateful for this whole life.

 

 

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A Living Goodbye; A Living Hello

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Life is: Life relating to itself, Knowing itself through relating.

 

Eighteen years ago, today, my husband died suddenly before my eyes. It was quick and shocking.

The grief journey it took me on was anything but quick.

A friend on Facebook just now asked, “How does one say goodbye and go on?”

How do we live a goodbye and grief? How do we live hello and joy? They go together, goodbye and go on. They go together, hello and go on.

For me, I’ve found it’s a living goodbye, and a living hello. It’s all tangled together, in a beautiful, and sometimes not so easy, dance.

Gary’s death was a doorway into awakening to the depth and beauty, the light and dark, the sacred and mundane. It was a doorway into a true relationship with life, because we can’t be in relationship with life if we are not in relationship with death.

I am not romanticizing it. It’s not been easy, nor was it easy for my daughters and family members who grieved Gary’s death. It hasn’t easy for the hundreds of 9/11 family members I worked with, or the hundreds of clients and students I’ve taught and coached. And, I am certain, it’s not easy for you. We all know grief.

If we are looking for easy, we won’t find it in grief, and we won’t find it in life.

Yet, we can find ease. We can find softness and grace. Life is filled with grace if we open our arms to be held in love. Not romantic love, but the love that carries us through it all, even the very painful things we are now witnessing in our world. I write this two days after the Boston bombings. I write this as other  bombings are taking, and will take, place in our world.

Today, I celebrate Gary, our daughters, our four grandchildren, our life together, and the years since that have, I hope, made me a more real and loving woman.

Today, I celebrate you, your grief, your journey, and the way you grace this world.

Today, I celebrate our humanity. In light of all the tragedies we face, the love that we are is greater, by far, than any hateful and violent acts we do to each other.

This I know.

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All of Life is this Wild Eros, Including You

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Today is International Women’s Day.

I’ve been not quite sure what to write. I have mixed feelings about this day.

On one hand, so many women need to know, in a real and grounded everyday way, that being a woman is a beautiful thing, and that they gifts we women offer to the world are worthy and sorely needed – gifts that we offer when we are being wholly who we are as women.

On the other hand, around the world, women still are far from sharing equal rights with men. Here in the United States, we’re seeing how much fear and distrust of women still lurks in the shadows, and sometimes stands in broad daylight. Having a day where we celebrate women can feel so shallow in the light of the atrocities happening each and every day around the world. Sometimes, it feels like we’ve been thrown a bone when in reality those who hold the strings of power have no intention of really offering women equal rights.

Speaking of strings of power,

have you ever noticed that women will most likely never have equal rights in this cultural paradigm? I mean, let’s look at the present day situation. In a cultural construct based on heirerarchy and patriarchy, with a system set up to keep this heirarchy in place, maybe it’s only possible if the actual structures crumble…

Everything eventually dies, including structures and cultural constructs. I see the structure of patriarchy most certainly is dying.

The structures that we currently see in the world as we know it, at least most of the world, are structures that were created with a mindset that the feminine is something to be feared and distrusted…the feminine in women, the feminine in men, and the feminine in the world – basically all of nature. So much of what we see in our human constructs were built on this.

And, if you’ve ever given birth, been witness to earthquakes and tornadoes, the feminine is most certainly powerful. I have birthed two babies, and watched each of my daughters give birth, and the power of the feminine is something to behold, something that brings forth complete awe in me.

The feminine is powerful and awe-inducing.

These structures based on fear of the feminine don’t just exist out there, they also exist within each of us. We’ve internalized them. And, we’ve probably internalized some kind of fear and distrust of the masculine as well, the masculine in us all. And, these internal structures are dying, too. Can you feel this inside you?

Can you feel a new feminine consciousness within yourself?

Why is this important today, on International Women’s Day?

A few months back, I met Marianne Williamson at an intimate gathering. She asked what I do, and I told her the varied things that fill my workday. She seemed to take interest in the course I teach on Creativity and Leadership in Business, and asked me what I would say to women about what they need to know around business.

My response? Two things:

“We are not men.” & “There is a different way to do business than what we see operating in our world today.”

We are not men.

We are not men. Even though most everything in the culture looks at the world through men’s eyes, we are not men. Thank goodness there are men, and thank goodness there are women. We all are here to be what we really are.

I am interested in you knowing this, not because I’ve written it, nor because it seems to be an obvious physiological conclusion. I’m interested in it because the new world coming depends on you knowing it.

Let me say that again…

The new world coming into being depends on you knowing who you are and expressing it through the female body you live in.

What I am interested in today is you knowing you, knowing who you are, knowing what delights your heart, knowing what it is to be fully alive in this world in your female body. Alive and erotic just like the cherry tree, just like the ocean, just like Mother Earth.

All of life is this wild eros, including you.

And, we could most certainly all use a shot of wild eros, don’t you think?

In our personal lives, our relationships, and even in our businesses.

Passionate Business

Business budding with blossoms, business giving birth, business erupting and shaking and crashing its waves upon the shores. Business that neither fears the feminine nor the masculine, but works in tandem with all of life…including the earth.

So many times I see women thinking they have to make a mark on the world that is big and audacious. Nothing wrong with that, and that may be how your mark shows up…and, in reality, we affect the world in many small beautiful ways each day. And, sometimes what happens is those many small ways eventually move into big changes along the way.

In a day-to-day, personal way, my friend, Renae Cobb, sees International Women’s Day from her personal vantage point as a mother to two daughters. She writes of not really knowing what this day is about, yet going on to share just how important an impact she has.

On an international level, the Christian Science Monitor writes of Twelve Innovations that are Lifting Women Out of Poverty.

Women are changing the world, everyday. There are many ways to do womanhood. And many ways to do manhood.

What if we found the courage to put down the project of who we believe we are supposed to be, so we can be who we really are, fully alive, powerfully real, wildly erotic in the fullest sense of the word…unabashedly female.

Part of this being truly you is discovering the rich love women have for each other. I’ve just written about it here.

::

I’d love to know what ways you are living womanhood. Consider sharing in the comments. We feast on each other’s wisdom.

 

I’ve recently released my new collection of posts, poetry and audio into a sensual immersive experience, The Best of Unabashedly Female. I’d love for you to take a look to see if it might be of interest to you.

 

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Cycles. Seasons. Rhythms. Life.

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Pink Flowering Plums

“I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.” ~ Rumi

I went for a walk yesterday. As I turned a corner on my usual route, I was stopped by the beauty blazing before me: a flowering plum in full bloom. I didn’t expect to see a tree in full bloom. Winter is still here.

I looked closely at this tree: soft, tender flower flesh budding directly out of hard, seemingly rigid gray branches; clusters of blossoms blooming together, some barely nubs, others completely open and ready to fall; each moving to its own rhythm, even though they are all danced by the force that is the tree’s true nature.

I realized, once again, how much is happening, under the surface, away from our eyes and senses. This tree is always transforming, growing, shedding, dying, and being reborn.

Cycles. Seasons. Rhythms. Life.

And, I realized how, when I am focused on things, I can miss what is happening right in front of me.

Just like the flowering plum, so much is happening within me, away from eyes and senses. We are always moving in cycles, seasons and rhythms, shedding layers, buds opening, leaves falling.

I’m leaving today for a ten-day silent retreat. I’ve craved the silence. And, while in my head the retreat begins today and I’ve been busy getting things done so I can be away, under the surface part of me is already there, already moving within. Even as I’ve busied myself getting ready, part of me is already slowing down. This isn’t visible to anyone else, and surprisingly, just barely to me. In hindsight, I see how things are getting stirred up inside, telling me that on some level my psyche knows what’s coming.

Sitting in silence for many days brings much of your stuff up to the surface where it can be seen, and if you’re willing to sit with patience and compassion, liberated.

So much of what we believe is real and true is simply illusion. I’ve found that sitting in meditation, or dancing, which is my moving meditation, allows me to see through the imagined stories that have me believing the conditioning we swim in.

As Eckhart Tolle says, “‎~ If you can recognize illusion as illusion…it dissolves.

In seeing the flowering plum, I woke up out of the illusion that spring is far off, that life is static, that death is simply death. I remembered that life is erotic.

Life is a stream of change happening in both visible and invisible ways. We are each moving to our own rhythm, while we are danced by the force that is our true nature.

And, you?

What is happening within you that is just barely beginning to show itself, just beginning to bud?

What is dying during this winter within?

How is the erotic nature of life moving within you?

How is this nature whispering to you to move?

What is life asking of you?

::

While I am silent, this blog will be silent.

I’ll see you in ten days.

Pink Flowering Plums by Karl S JohnsonSome rights reserved

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The Rhythm of Life

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Simple

I’ve discovered complexity just doesn’t feel good. Running in circles, worrying about having too much to do, jumping from one task to another, is hard on the body and soul.

I’ve sat with this feeling that comes when I spend too much time on the computer. I feel tight and wound-up. When I feel this way, I long for simplicity, and for doing activities that bring me back to the body, to breath, to life.

Simple moments.

Simple choices.

Simple ways.

Simple.

All I can do is do one thing at a time. Yes, in reality, all any of us can do is one thing at a time, even though we like to believe we are getting more done when we multitask, we aren’t.

Rhythms

I notice when my head starts to swirl with everything I’ve got to do, or everything I must remember, I begin to feel a sense of overwhelm, and a corresponding reaction in my body where my chest tightens and my breath becomes shallow. When I spend too much time using the computer, the same thing happens: the body tightens and I get too little oxygen in my cells.

I know, now, there is no such thing as time. The sun rises and sets. The moon moves from a sliver of translucent white to a fully white orb, and back again. Days come and go. Seasons pass. I grow older. Yet, time is just a construct that we use to get along together in the world.

We’ve made time King, when in reality rhythm is what restores my sanity – the rhythm of my breath, my heartbeat; of sleep and awakeness; of hunger and thirst; of life and death.

The rhythm of the creative process – fallow when fallow, fruitful when fruitful.

Life is about rhythm, not time.

Life itself, is a complex system, and we humans have added a complexity to life, especially here in the west, that is driving us crazy.

The only way I’ve found to be in this complexity and stay somewhat sane is to remember – remember what I love, remember who in my life really matters to me, remember that taking care of this body is a beautiful act, and remember to be aware of what I have to offer to others that might lighten their load. At it’s most basic, this remembrance is of a very basic, yet very real knowing that life itself is sacred.

I am by no means implying I have it all together, but rather, that I’m learning to slow down, to live more simply, to ask for help and to honor the very simple fact that I am alive and this life is precious.

I am learning to live the rhythm of life.

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Horror as the Foreground to Wonder

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Living, Dying, Grieving

This post isn’t full of the beautiful…at least not the surface beautiful. But stick with me…

This is my edge…

We’re all living, we’re all dying, we’re all grieving, we’re all transforming. It’s life’s nature, death’s nature.

Life as Mirror

Life is always dying and being reborn. To grasp this truth, to live in this truth is to be fully alive. To never take this life for granted. It’s beauty, it’s power, the fact that none of us know. Can we embrace this? Live it? Touch death as we live life? Touch life as we die? Be with each other in whatever stage we are in? Really be with each other…

I don’t know have any answers. None. No flowery words. No insights.

But what I want to do is share what some beautiful women are writing about grief, dying, illness, death and life… and how reading their words is impacting my heart.

Unconscious to the edge…

The fact is we are alive and we are dying. Some of us are closer to death. Some of us are dead while we live, unconscious to the edge we exist on. Who’s to say what it is to be fully alive?

Joseph Campbell wrote,

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.”

In one of his segments with Bill Moyers, Campbell shared,

Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.

There’s a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.

…not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.”

I write this post as a somewhat ‘healthy’ person, so I am seeing and writing through the eyes of someone who unconsciously, and perhaps somewhat consciously, tells herself she still has a fairly ‘long’ time to live. In reality, this is BS. I do not know how long I have to live. Even writing these words and saying them aloud to myself doesn’t even begin to cut through the normal denial that is here about death.

I do experience the absence of time, the eternity of which Campbell writes.

Where I have difficulty is in being with the ‘horrible’ nature of life, what my mind wants to fix, eliminate and avoid.

Campbell’s words “that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder” catch me.

Horror as a foreground of wonder.

My mind goes a little crazy wondering how you square this, square the horrors of this world with the mind’s concept of wonder. I notice that I write ‘wondering’ in the same sentence. To wonder…

In writing this, my mind fears it will sound as if I am romanticizing horror in some way, even wonders whether it is wise to include the word rapture and horror in the same post…

I recoil from the horrors of the world. I want to fix them. I want to save others. In reality, I don’t want to be with the horror itself. I don’t want to open to it.

As Campbell reminds me, the horror is the foreground to the real wonder of life, the awe-inducing wonder…

And yet, in those moments of life when the horrible knocked on my door, I did open the door. I opened to the horror, as much as I could. And in opening to it, I caught a glimpse of this wonder… the beauty in the darkness, the love in the horrible, the peace and silence that is always present all around this foreground of horror.

I do know Holy Is All There Is, yet my life, at least right now, is filled with days full of so much love and light. I can be content to sit in this ease, content to not open my heart to the horror…and it is here that I skim the shallow waters of life. Can I open to the rest of the wonder of life willingly, not just when it knocks, but now, of my own accord…

Krishnamurti said:

There must be no escape from it of any kind, no intellectual or explanatory justification – see the difficulty of this, for the mind is so cunning, so sharp to escape, because it does not know what to do with its violence. It is not capable of dealing with it – or it thinks it is not capable – therefore it escapes. Every form of escape, distraction, of movement away, sustains violence. If one realizes this, then the mind is confronted with the fact of `what is’ and nothing else.

The mind does not know what to do with its own violence…

This is my edge. This is the edge I recoil from…

I share words…

So I share others’ words, words that open me to this edge, words that help to open my eyes and heart…

In Pema‘s series, “Memory to Light“, she shares her experiences with grief, death, violence and life, leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Benita‘s new blog, The Useless Uterus or Chemo Brain Musings (she’s not yet sure what to call it) recounts her life as she moves through her days of chemo and healing.

Rhonda, a woman of 42 years who is dying from MS, is sharing her writing as she dies. Her writing is brilliant. Her words cut to the chase. And in responding, or attempting to respond by way of commenting, I found myself ‘trying’ to write to her, not quite sure how to share how her words have touched me. Perhaps it’s a mixture of things: partly that she is in the active stages of dying as I read her words, and perhaps because I don’t really know her. There’s an element of feeling like a watcher, reading her experience from this place of one who is ‘alive’ and not dying. My dear friend, Jeanne, is hosting these writings, offering a place for us to bear witness to Rhonda experiences and our own opening to how to be with…

And as we near this 10th anniversary of 9/11, Meg Worden shares her experience of 9/11, a day that was book-ended by her getting sober the day before, and conceiving her child two days after.

I do know…

What is true, what makes tears come, what causes my heart to open is the raw desire to serve life, to know the sacredness of life, to honor it…and I must admit, I don’t know how to do this… and I know there is no how.

I am this life, both the horror and the wonder. When I cut myself off from one, I can’t know the other. When I cut myself off from one, I can’t know the totality of what I am…I can’t feel this totality…

And, you?

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The Seed in Upheaval

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Amidst the death, upheaval and chaos of destruction in Egypt, Tunisia and other places around the world, something new, something not yet seen or known, is coming into being.

Like a seedling pushing up through the ground, this new way is strong and resilient, not because of its size, for a seedling is tiny, but because of its strength, tenacity and resilience. These come from the very source of life that is midwifing a new way. The ever present energy of life is pushing forth and through.

Life encompasses the totality that we see held in the opposites, and everything in between along the continuum they create: the masculine and the feminine, death and birth, light and dark, hardness and softness, destruction and creation.

This morning, I came across this post by Filiz Telek, a woman who is passionate about “awakening the presence of sacred and possibility in human heart and spirit”. I love what she writes about and how she writes it. In her post, she shares this video, and the words she shares with it are quite beautiful. She holds this video with such tenderness and honor, in the same way she holds life and the sacred feminine. In Filizat’s words:

Listen to her, she’s saying “I am the meaning in the middle of chaos
As the old system falls apart and chaos unfolds – and it is very likely that it will touch us and our loved ones too – we will need these heart songs, we will need to ground ourselves in her calling for wisdom and courage. I remember Neda, the young Iranian woman who was shot dead in front of our eyes as she was demanding freedom during Green Revolution in Iran. She was silenced, but now Amel is singing for her too and for all of us:
I am free and my word is free.
May our heart songs bring the freedom and unity consciousness that for so long, we have been waiting and longing for.

I, too, feel compelled to share the video here, because it is such an indication of what I wrote about yesterday, that being human is a vulnerable proposition. And,

This video spoke to me so poignantly of what is happening all over the world, and what is happening in my own being: something strong, and fierce and beautiful is pushing up through, trying to be born. It has to push up through so much of what has been in place for decades, so much of what has been created to keep things the same. Yet, the force is powerful and I know it is relentless, and that it will not be denied.

Upheaval is here, both within and without. I also share it too, because the woman singing, Amel Mathlouthi, is a symbol of the courageous soft power of the Feminine, standing in the middle of chaos, singing of new life.

Watch and listen and feel what is stirring within you, what new life is pushing through you to come to the surface and grow. It is so evident, that we are one. Like our brothers and sisters in these places, we, too, feel something stirring, something coming, something new. May it come with peace, may we begin to trust Life, that Life itself is change.

Thank you, Filizat, for sharing this with us.

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From Alone to Alive

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Loss can be an opening, a portal to profound transformation.

We all lose in our lives. We all experience loss. When we bring a depth of awareness to the experience of the loss, and the hole the loss leaves, the portal can open wide, embracing us like a mother embraces her child.

Like you, I’ve experienced profound loss in my life. More than once.

Loss, Love and Life

I’ve also worked closely, and intimately, with women who lost their husbands in 9/11. Many of the remarkable moments I experienced with these women came as I facilitated a course on dating and new relationship.

Over the course of 18 months, in numerous groups around the New York City area, we explored the deep desire to love again after profound loss and grief.

Portals opened wide for these women. They had already done some powerful grief work before coming to this particular course that I had developed. Using my own experiences of grief, exploration of self, and beginning to date anew from the death of my late-husband in the design, the course laid out a journey of opening the heart to the deep emotions that had been buried.

After all, if we are to open our hearts to love again, whatever is in our hearts, whatever has been buried in an effort to not feel, will come tumbling out. When we have a safe, nurturing community in which to feel and express these things, transformation can happen – the transformation of our grief into powerful presence, and transformation of who we thought we were into who we come to know ourselves to truly be.

And, when we realize we are still alive, that it’s okay to live again, to really live with joy and passion, we begin to honor the life being offered to us in each moment.

Feeling Grief and Love Together

Loss, love and life are intertwined. In grieving the death of my late-husband, I found transformation happened when I felt both the grief and the love together. Grieving with the love I felt for him, the love I knew he felt for me, and the love I could feel this portal was holding me in, was deep and rich and powerful.

Grief is an entirely intelligent process, if we are willing to open to its embrace. Grief brings us right up against all the things we shield ourselves from feeling.

And, there is deep love in grief. I experienced it as an invitation to come to truly know the limitations of being a human being, living a human life. I came to realize the deep peace in surrendering to life on life’s terms, not on mine. I came to see that life isn’t conspiring against me; rather, life is unfolding to its own rhythm, not ‘mine’.

In the shattering of the illusion of control, what arises is a willingness to dance to this rhythm wherever it takes you. In this rhythm, there is divine love.

Beautiful Strength

In the course with the women who had lost their husbands in 9/11, a beautiful strength began to make itself known from within them. Through our time together, a natural delight in the idea of embracing life again began to emerge. The women organically began to follow their own heart’s desires to love. In some, the desire was to date, in others it wasn’t. What did appear, though, was a desire to truly live again, knowing that it is okay to be the survivor. One can move forward from something as profoundly devastating as 9/11, as the survivor, and learn to truly have gratitude for the experience of being alive.

This gratitude comes from embracing the totality of experience; not just the ‘good’ things life offers, but embracing the gift of life itself.

One thing loss has taught me is that each day I am here is truly a divine gift. Each year the life odometer turns over, and in that turning I can honestly say I am grateful to be getting older. Getting older means I am still here, alive, living in this mystery. and receiving the wisdom that comes from living into these rich years.

Toward the end of the eighteen months that this course was offered, one woman renamed our course, “From alone to alive”.

Back in May, the lovely Nicola Warwick invited me to be a part of a beautiful project. She was putting together an ebook offering titled, “Loss Love Life”. This was to be a compilation of writings about the power of loss, transition and change with contributions from Thursday’s Child, Patti Digh, Margaret Fuller, Danielle LaPorte, Michael Nobbs, Carolyn Rubenstein, Andrea Schroeder, Kate Swoboda, Julie Jordan Scott, Dyana Valentine, Eydie Watts Nicola Warwick, and me.

I was honored to submit my offering to this work. This ebook is now available for download. It is truly a remarkable collection of open-hearted writing about these three powerful things, Loss, Love and Life. If you feel called, visit Nicola’s site and download this work. I think you’ll find reading what is shared here to be transformative in itself.

And, you?

I’d love to know what you’ve experienced with loss and the powerful tumult that follows. If you feel willing, share here, with us, any insights, experiences, or understandings you’ve had.

Image: courtesy of Tapperboy on Flickr; Creative Commons 2.0

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