Nothing is Wasted; Everything is in Order; It’s All Sacred

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Reverb10 Day 29
Prompt: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

::

I had a couple of very strong  realizations just a few weeks ago that have shifted how I see myself and my work in the world.

The End of a Chapter

I am done with a period in my life that’s been very internal.

Since 2002, I’ve been engaged with learning my new line of work: that as coach, teacher and writer. I spent many years as a systems analyst for a financial institution. Then I went back to school. I studied many things, and focused on designing experiences, mostly of the interactive digital kind.

When I left school, I knew that what I had just been educated to do, was not my calling. In other words, the tools I gained are directly useful in my new work, but being an interaction designer was not how I was to share my gift.

I spent some time after school grieving a lot of things I hadn’t yet grieved. Like dirty dishes, grief doesn’t go away on its own. It wants to be invited in to sit a spell until it has been fully integrated.

Then, I began to train in my new chosen field: that of teacher of creativity and personal coaching. I wanted to really know the coaching profession, to become well qualified to do this work. When people entrusted me to walk with them as they turned to look within, to unearth their deepest longings and to move through the painful ways they keep themselves stuck, I wanted to be able to be of service to the unfolding of their true self and the gift they are here to give. Fully. I’ve followed this desire as it took me through years of training and education and my own deep work.

Suddenly, after a great deal of training this year, I could feel that I am done. I know my work.

And, I am done with a more internal focus. It had not yet felt right to be moving into the world in a more visible way. And now it does.

The moment when I came to see this was so clear.

::

There is No Separation

I am a very lucky woman to have two daughters and three grandchildren, with one more on the way. As I was working to deepen my coaching and teaching abilities, I kept feeling pulled between my personal and professional worlds.

I am blessed to have both my daughters and their families close by. Completely blessed. And, I am the one grandparent here, which means much of the grandparent duties fall on me. I’ve loved this and I’ve felt torn between these two parts of my life.

In another moment of clear seeing, I finally could see, in a very real and palpable way, that these are not two separate things, but rather than one infuses the other. My work with women is enriched by my deep love for my children and grandchildren, and the time I spend with them informs my work. My work with women enriches my time with my children and grandchildren.

And, finally, my writing has been infused with much wisdom I have gained from my experiences with my family.

Of course they are all intertwined. How could I not have seen this? Sometimes these insights are so simple, yet so very profound.

Now, I feel integrated and ready for what life has in store for me, for where life will call me to go, for who life wants me to be with.

::

There is a truth at the heart of the way life moves. As Kahlil Gibran wrote:

“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only before the truth.” ~ Khalil Gibran

This is my life in all its intricate complexity; yet at the heart of it, it’s all quite simple.

I used to think there was a way life should look and that I would see that way out there, reflected back to me through how the culture shows it.

These two realizations in these past weeks have deepened my faith in my own aibility to trust when to shift, when to move and where to flow to next. Somehwere inside, I knew it wasn’t yet time; and now it is time and life is showing me the way.

Life asks us to flow with it, to follow its lead, to trust in life’s nature.

Everything that has happened in my life has been rich fodder for this gift I’m to give. Nothing was for naught. Everything has informed.

Nothing is wasted, everything is in order, and it’s all sacred.

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This Sweet Fragrance

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Reverb10 Day 23

Prompt: New name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could
introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would
it be and why?

::

When I was young, I didn’t like my name. I wanted something more glamorous, like Sasha, Victoria, or Michelle.

Paul McCartney sang about Michelle, my Belle, whereas the only song about Julie was ‘Julie, Julie, Julie Do you Love Me?’ by Bobby Sherman. Paul made me swoon; Bobby Sherman not so much.

Paul cooed to this mysterious Michelle:

“I love you, I love you, I love you.
That’s all I want to say.
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that
You’ll understand.

Michelle, my belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble,
Très bien ensemble.

I need to, I need to, I need to.
I need to make you see,
Oh, what you mean to me.
Until I do I’m hoping you will
Know what I mean.

I love you…

I want you, I want you, I want you.
I think you know by now…”

Paul wanted Michelle, loved Michelle, was obviously hot for Michelle.

Bobby just kept asking if Julie will be there for him:

Bein’ alone at night makes me sad, girl
Yeah, it brings me down all right
Tossin’ and turnin’ and freezin’ and burnin’
And cryin’ all through the night

Whoa-oh

Julie, Julie, Julie, do ya love me?
Julie, Julie, Julie, do ya care?
Julie, Julie, are ya thinkin’ of me?
Julie, Julie, will ya still be there?

It’s pretty clear which is swooning material, yes? A young girl makes up so much…

::

As I grew older, I came to appreciate my name until I grew to like it.

Now, as I consciously, and whole-heartedly, long to know this presence that looks out from these eyes, I see how my name, and what is associated with it, can keep me, and others, from knowing and experiencing what I really am.

Yes, the name is necessary to be in the world. And, there is much associated with a name.

There are so many things I made up about Julie. Who Julie is. What she’s like and what she is supposed to be like…two very different things. What she’s loved for and what doesn’t get her that love. What makes her happy and what doesn’t.

In considering this prompt, it seems much more tasty to consider how I would introduce myself to this presence that looks out from behind these eyes. When I consider this, so much falls away.

No matter what I call myself, the truth of this being stays the same. This presence is the one thing that is unchanging, the one thing that has been here all my life, the one thing that has witnessed every moment where identity became meshed with ‘Julie’ and all that the name conjures up.

After all, as Juliet spoke to Romeo:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
Would smell as sweet if it had any other name.

Julie is a sweet story that points to this sweet fragrance.

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Bodily Fruit

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Apple
Apple

What you think you’re seeking, is seeking you. You think it’s your Idea, your dream? It’s Life’s… seeking to express and emerge by means of You. For this you have been called. For this you have come to bear witness, full witness to the Glory of The One that is YOU. ~ M Morrissey

And I would add, you have come to bear fruit, ripe fruit borne from The One that is YOU.

::

Reverb10 Day 16
Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

::

Wounds of the Feminine

This year has brought numerous realizations of this bearing witness; bearing witness to Life seeking to express and emerge by way of this Being in a female body. Much of this realization has been through women friends.

One of the most occluded areas of consciousness for me was in this place of love for other women, for love of woman.

There is no need to go through the ‘whys’ of this. Suffice it to say, past wounds of the feminine had grown great crusty scabs around my heart.

In my friendships with women, I’ve felt both joy and a kind of trembling fear at the possibility of dropping my defenses. I’ve been keenly aware of a place in my heart that was both longing for intimacy and fearing the exposure.

This year brought opportunities to trust that this was a place of great learning for me. And, in letting go into the places that held both fear and deep longing, I’ve found such a sweet, yet powerful, love. It’s a kind of love that is only available between women, because it is intrinsic to women. In this connection from woman to woman, I have come to know a part of womanhood that had been disowned.

Bodily fruit.

This love is tender, yet powerful.

This love is a mirror of purity, for women are pure in a way that is very practical: we are created with the body wisdom to bring the sacred into matter, the soul into human life.

This love makes my knees buckle for it tells me of the power that is at the heart of the receptive, nourishing, ripe and earthy female body.

In a passage that makes me swoon every time I read it, Rilke writes:

Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully, and more confidently, must surely have become riper and more human in their depths than light, easygoing man, who is not pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of any bodily fruit…

We bear bodily fruit, whether or not we bear children. This fruit requires nourishment from the body and soul. Life lingers in us, because life has created our bodies as vessels of creation. Life dwells here in these hips and thighs and breasts. When I open to this deep relationship with another woman, I feel this ripeness in her and in me.

This ripeness tells of a disowned knowing of what it is to be woman, tales long-forgotten in a masculine culture.

In these times, we are begin asked to remember this body wisdom. We are being asked to heal this place of wounding between woman and woman.

My friends are teaching me beautiful things about womanhood, precious powerful things about what we can awaken, enliven, and bring forth in ourselves to heal the crusty scab-bearing wounds of our times.

It is the blossom that brings forth the fruit. The blossom comes right out of the gray, hard bark of the tree. Somewhere within the tree itself lies the kiss that brings forth the apple. We women are no different. Somewhere within us lies the kiss that will awaken our ripeness, our bounty, our gift.

Can we open to, and receive, Life’s kiss?

::

And, You?

What wounds are you willing to heal?

Where do you feel Life’s Kiss upon you?

How have your friendships with women opened you to this bounty within your own Being?

::

Image courtesy of midnightcomm, under CC2.0

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Author(ity)

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Reverb10 Day 17

Prompt: Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

Authority.

I realized how much I am not conscious of my own authority. I realize how well trained I have been to give it away. I realize how rarely it seems possible to challenge authority, to speak out, and act out, against something that goes so against everything I stand for, everything that feels true in my being.

It’s one of those lessons that keeps coming back in ever widening circles, like a spiral dive into ever opening consciousness. Sometimes, make that pretty often, I have to keep being reminded, over and over, of my unconscious beliefs.

The etymology of the word ‘authority’

It’s funny how the meaning of words changes over time, reflecting how beliefs and societies change.

authority Look up authority at Dictionary.com
early 13c., autorite “book or quotation that settles an argument,” from O.Fr. auctorité (12c.; Mod.Fr. autorité), from L. auctoritatem (nom. auctoritas) “invention, advice, opinion, influence, command,” from auctor “master, leader, author” (see author). Usually spelled with a -c- in English till 16c., when it was dropped, in imitation of the French. Meaning “power to enforce obedience” is from late 14c.; meaning “people in authority” is from 1610s. Authorities “those in charge, those with police powers” is recorded from mid-19c.

Notice how, in the early part of the 13th century, the word pointed to a book or quotation that served as something to solve a dispute.

And, notice how the words changes over the centuries, to “power to enforce obedience” in the late 14th century, to “people in authority” in the 1610s to “those in charge, those with police powers, a recorded definition from the mid 19th century.

What a big leap from author to those with the power to enforce obedience.

The word authority has always had such a strong correlation with power, domination and aggression in my consciousness. No wonder.

From another source, the origin is shown as:

[Middle English auctorite, from Old French autorite, from Latin auctrits, auctritt-, from auctor, creator; see author.]

Creator. Author. (sounds vaguely familiar with #11 of my 11 things for 2011).

author Look up author at Dictionary.com
c.1300, autorfather,” from O.Fr. auctor, from L. auctorem (nom. auctor) “enlarger, founder, master, leader,” lit. “one who causes to grow,” agent noun from auctus, pp. of augere “to increase” (see augment). Meaning “one who sets forth written statements” is from late 14c.

Father.

How this beautiful masculine energy of father has been perverted to mean domination and power over.

One of the biggest things that has kept me from owning my own authority, in my life, my work and my writing, is the ingrained belief that someone else out there has more authority than me, authority over me; someone else, out there, is the expert; someone else, out there, will take care of things.

It’s such a place of powerlessness and victimhood. It’s a place of lethargy and resignation. It’s a place of adolescent comfort.

Authority as Author

How different things look when I see authority from the place of author.

Author of my own life. Author of works that share with the world the beauty and wisdom that move through me. Author of creative expression that includes the powerful parts of me I’ve been well trained to hide and keep down in a society where it is ‘taught’ that women don’t have power or authority.

The masculine energies in me have scared me. I’ve seen what power looks like out there. I’ve seen authority dominate others who are seen as, and believe they are, less powerful. This authority keeps in place an infrastructure that holds this perverted sense of authority in place.

And, I don’t know what will happen if I stand up to that authority out there that seems to have so much power.

The Fierce Face of the Feminine.

In an incredibly powerful TEDx talk, Chameli Ardagh eloquently speaks of the ‘Fierce Face of the Feminine’.

She shares numerous stories about her own childhood and training to suppress emotion, but also an instructive story of Kali and Shiva. It is in this story that I discovered a simple, yet powerful, understanding of how to express this fierceness with presence.

Shiva is the masculine counterpart to Kali. Shiva is presence. As I discovered the father/masculine aspect of author and authority, I could see the masculine presence necessary to hold the expression of fierce anger and rage.

A disowned masculine makes it very difficult to stand in one’s authority. Knowing a positive masculine, a loving presence, is within me is a more healthy internal infrastructure from which to express the author within, the author that writes about both love and rage, an author that doesn’t leave out important parts of the ‘story’.

This video is long for our short attention spans, but every moment of it is well worth your time.

Something shifts dramatically when I:

  • remember that the word authority (and all words) carries much more than simply a definition. It carries experiences, images, beliefs, a young girl’s impressions of the world and what happens when one pushes against authority.
  • hear a powerful story about the nature of the masculine and feminine and how they can be together to help balance expression, both internally and externally, and individually and collectively.
  • realize (in an ever-deepening way) the power of unconscious thoughts and beliefs and how they keep a lid on my expression as a female human being.
  • understand the power of words and the power of the story we tell ourselves about what is acceptable and what is not, about what is loving and what is not, about what is possible and what is not.
  • reclaim the power of a fully integrated and balanced awareness, that includes the full range of human feelings and expression.
  • accept that there are many powers, all about us, conspiring to be of service to the present awakening to love, to power that loves rather than dominates.

We all have authority, the ability to author our own lives. And, the infrastructure currently at work, both externally, and internally in our own minds, was not created to support this. It is shifting. We are shifting. We are waking up to the power within.

I now can so clearly see that nothing is stopping me from writing what I need to write, as a woman here to write her life, as creatrix standing in her own stead.

And, you?

How do you see your own authority? Where do you give it expression? Where do you not? How might your life be different if you became the author of your own life?

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Dancing on the Edge of Disillusion

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Connemara
Connemara

In order to fully awaken to the fact that you are nothing but Awakeness itself, you must want to know the truth more than you want to feel secure. ~Adyashanti

Reverb10 Day 14
Prompt: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in
the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

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The persistence of truth.

I’ve come to see that no matter how hard I might try to avoid, bury, ignore, or deny it…truth remains steadfast.

Sometimes, the truth fits with my liking. It’s what I want it to be and I have no trouble at all doing what it asks me to do.

Other times, the truth is the last thing I want to acknowledge. I want it to go away. I want to barter with it. I ask it to compromise, but of course it does not. Of course. It doesn’t have an agenda. It just is. It’s just the ego that has the agenda, and it’s agenda is to stay safe and secure.

::

The truth just is.

The truth is like a decision that has already been made.

The truth isn’t good or bad. It just is.

The truth doesn’t barter, argue or defend.

The truth doesn’t compromise.

The truth is asking for surrender.

I’m not yet completely there. Close, but not yet there.

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What is the truth?

It certainly isn’t what the mind says it is.

There is no ‘my’ truth or ‘your’ truth. There is just truth.

It is what is.

And, in writing this, I can see the power of its unwavering steadfastness.

How do I express gratitude for it? Good question.

Much of the time I don’t express gratitude for it. I’m not grateful at all. I want my safe secure nest, and yet, as Pema Chodron writes, “To be fully alive fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” Continually thrown out, not just thrown out when I feel I’m ready for it.

The bracing against the truth is exhausting, because of truth’s steadfastness. This hanging on, this not wanting to let go into the abyss, it is exhausting, yet it is, the bracing itself, the hanging on, is what gives the ego its sense of existence.

Adyashanti writes:

“What if you let go of every bit of control and every urge that you have, right down to the most infinitesimal urge to control anything, anywhere, including anything that may be happening with you at this moment?  Imagine that you were able to completely and absolutely give up control on every level.  If you were able to give up control absolutely, totally, and completely, then you would be a spiritually free being.

This battle of will, this desire of ego to maintain control in the face of the inevitable pull of truth – I appreciate the power of this relationship. It is profound.

There is no good or bad. There is no right or wrong way to be. There is only the ultimate pull of life to wake up to itself.

I can see this dance so clearly. The appearance of me is dancing on the edge of disillusion. This appearance of me fears what might happen to it. This appearance of me can’t be seen or touched or experienced in the same way as life right here. Yet, it’s power is strong. I appreciate the power of its futile dance.

::

I know that simply writing this post is an act of gratitude. I’ve come to see that everything serves this pull. Everything. Somehow, in acknowledging the frightened parts of the mind, a beautiful relationship is nurtured between the truth and what fears it. The mind is beginning to see it is held in love, in that which has no agenda other than to know itself as itself.

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2010 in Five Mintues

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One Moment in Ireland
One Moment in Ireland

Reverb10 Day 15
Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (by Patti Digh)

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Okay. Timer set. Ready. Set. Go!

Rockin’ trip to Ireland where I fell in love with the land and the people, and felt something new wake up inside me.

Hearing live Irish music.

Going deep into the womb of NewGrange in Ireland.

My grandchildren’s birthday parties: Jamison – 1; Aveline, 2; Lucas, 9 (and many other simple moments with them)

Finding out my daughter is expecting again.

Powerful and beautiful calls with coaching clients..

New look for Unabashedly Female (shout-out to Amanda Farough!).

The amazing experience of being photographed by Siddiqi Ray.

Many, many rocking Sweats on Sunday Mornings.

Moving my father into his new home where he seems to be happy and settled. Peace.

Moments of tenderness and playfullness with Jeff.

Danielle LaPorte Lighting a megafire under my fanny.

Mark Silver teaching me that my business is an expression of my love for the One.

Mastermind moments with Emma and Mandy.

Blogging for the GirlEffect with Tara Sophia Mohr.

Voice Dialogue training.

Awakening Coaching training.

Giants winning the World Series. How did this not come up sooner?

Watching Buster Posey make his debut at the park.

Moving into our new house, and getting organized and cozy in my new office.

Rewarding time teaching Stanford CS, Creativity and Leadership.

Filibernie.

So many little moments of complete and utter peace and joy.

So many little moments of angst, fear, feeling unsettled.

Deciding to be the President of SF Coaches for 2011.

::

yes, yes, I did skip days 12-14. I may do them, I may not. We’ll see.

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Wiser and Softer

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IMG_2080
Glendalough

Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. ~ Rumi

::

Reverb10 Day 10 Prompt:
Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

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My wisest decision this year was to travel to Ireland. My decision to go was based solely on intuition and trust. I trusted something felt, something unseen. Something deep inside called me there.

Jeff wanted to go to Maui. We’d had a very foggy summer and he was ready for warm sun and water. I went there last year and loved it. And, even though the moist land of Hana called to me, Ireland called to me in way I couldn’t analyze or understand. I just knew I had to go, and Jeff willingly agreed.

We saw much of the Republic of Ireland during the two weeks we were there. The land was enchanting. The people were some of the friendliest I have ever encountered in my travels. We saw many sites of the Sacred Feminine and soaked up the Land of the Goddess.

There, in this lush, wild land, the earth welcomed me home.

It is wise land. It felt as if it held a wisdom ripened over thousands of years. It affected me in countless ways – some seen and obvious, and some unseen and mystical.

The land of the Goddess seeped into my cells. That’s the only way I can describe it. Even now, months later, sitting in my home in California, I can feel her in me: the peat of Connemara, the rockiness of the Burren, and the wild heather of Glendalough.

Ireland was a great teacher. She polished my heart and taught me to trust in that which can’t be seen. She taught me to trust in that which is felt and known, yet can’t be explained in any logical way. She taught me to know that her wildness is my wildness, her beauty is my beauty, her sensuality is my sensuality.

I became wiser and softer in her care.

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Come Alive

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Summer is Dancing
Summer is Dancing

Reverb10 Day 09 Prompt:
Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010?
Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

::

This Invitation:

Each week, I accept this invitation to a raucous revival, a moving meditation, a chance to Sweat My Prayers. It’s a party. It’s a scene. It’s my church.

along with 149 other dancers, I

drop into the music

put my body in motion

leave the confines of my mind

breathe through my feet

dance my barefoot way to that wild and feral place I long for during the week when I’m out in ‘the real world’.

The music is eclectic. Motown. World. Jazz. Classical. Indian. Country. New Age. Old Age. Aquarian Age.

No food. Only water. No small talk. No talk at all.

This party is silent.

Our bodies talk.

‘We speak from the heart, not from the tongue.’ {M Franti}

This is sacred space.

Sweat drips.

Bodies slide and flow past each other as if choreographed finely. Something is directing things, but it’s no mind at all.

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This wild place within:

I’ve tried to put into words how it feels to go to this wild place within.

It’s so foreign to this made up world we move in day in and day out.

In this place, my body is the earth’s body, and her body is mine.

Dancing, I can feel her power move through the cells and sinewy places within.

She comes up through the feet and out the exhale.

Her anguish makes itself known in my own heart, and I breath it in knowing her anguish is mine. How could it not be?

::

Today, I found my way to this powerful post by Holly Friesen:

Singing Rocks and Howling Wolves

Five years ago while painting in the woods, I had an encounter with a wolf. That creature’s golden eyes pierced through my heart and opened up a much neglected wild place within. My life tore open in ways I could never have imagined prior to meeting with his feral gaze. I started to paint ferociously. My “safe” lovely watercolor landscapes could no longer contain the wild energy that I felt building within. I began to paint larger, then I changed mediums, first oil and now acrylics. I left behind any people, places or habits that could not support this new passionate energy surging up through my body and spilling out onto the canvas in a frighteningly violent manner. Several months into this explosion I was diagnosed with breast cancer and in between daily radiation treatments I would paint, paint, paint. I walked through the woods and started to experience the earth’s body as my own. I recognized a deep connection that I had always understood intellectually but now I was feeling it inside my own body. This is now the place I paint from, that deep wilderness within. A wilderness that sings, and screams and howls with terror and beauty. Yesterday was one of those days in the studio where the earth’s voice just came flooding through my body and bursting onto the canvas in all her textures, shapes and forms. I am in love with paint and all it teaches me about this bond with the earth, and that wolf keeps howling deep within.

::

Within seconds of reading Holly’s words, I was transported to this wild place within where I “experience the earth’s body as my own”, this place of the dance where I

Come Alive:

.

Today I dance and come alive.

My hands connect, molasses-like energy stretching

from mama earth to the tips of my fingers.

As I perch on my paws, I feel her spirit

suck me into her tendrils of love.

She tells me to make my presence known.

She asks me to step so strongly on her

that there’s no question I am here with her.

.

She asks me to track myself,

to be so aware of where I am and where I am going,

so much so that my path wraps its way around and

around until I am simply the dance.

.

Today I dance and come alive.

I feel his pulse, absorbing it into my body.

I feel her love, letting it run down my arm and fill my heart.

I feel their joy, knowing it is also mine.

How could it not be?

.

Today I dance and come alive.

::

Singing Rocks and Howling Wolves shared here with the permission of Holly Friesen
The image, Summer is Dancing, is by Alice Popkorn shared under CC2.0.

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Behind The Eyes

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Beauty appears when something is completely and absolutely and openly itself. ~Deena Metzger

Reverb10 Day 08 – Beautifully Different.
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

::

I tend to not like to compare myself to others. I used to do it often. I found it never brought me much peace of mind – in fact, it brought me the opposite.

So, today’s prompt stirred something up inside me about being different and how that ties into being beautiful. I prefer to look at being beautiful from the quote I shared by Deena Metzger – that beauty appears when we are being completely and absolutely self.

We are all different from each other, yet I can’t tell you how I’m different from you. I can be different in the things I do, the places I’ve gone, the life I’ve lived. These are measurable things we can see from the outside. They tell me nothing about who and how and what you really are, nor do they tell you about me.

I only know how I am. Any comparison would simply be either comparing myself to what I think the ‘norm’ is, or what I think makes you You. And, again, I don’t think conjecture helps me to know what makes me beautiful.

Yesterday, I had a beautiful twitter love fest with some of my favorite tweeps. What they shared with me shed some light on how they see me and what it is I do that lights them up. So, I do know others see me in a certain way.

I also know it doesn’t serve anyone to hide our light, our brilliance, our heart. When we don’t try to hide ourselves, when we are simply what we are, our beauty appears.

::

What I love.

When I am really being me, I can range from being totally silly to totally serious. I do like to wax on about serious things.

I love the esoteric. I love math. I love touch.

I love devotion, and being devotional to the Source of Life. When I am, I’m filled with a love so radiant, I feel totally and completely full. Nothing is needed or wanted.

I love to dance. Hard and long. I dance the 5Rhythms. Two hours with 150 people dancing at our max…in silence. Heaven.

I love beauty, and creating beauty.

I love working out really hard, where my body gets completely heated up. I can feel the toxins releasing, the muscles relaxing, the sweat cleaning me out from within.

I love to love people, you know, the kind of love where you find you appreciate everything about them because it is who and what they are.

::

Somewhat of a rebel.

My life has been pretty unusual, far from the ‘norm’ of this culture.

I attended Stanford as a non-traditional transfer student. I was 42 when I entered as a Junior. I stayed three years, so I could go to Florence to study. While I was in school, my first grandchild was born. I was the first grandmother to graduate with an undergraduate degree from my department.

While I was there, I was involved with other transfer students. We put on orientations for others in the same situation. One day I was speaking to a young woman, another student. She was all of 23. She was asking me all about my life, and I was sharing. I mentioned something about my life being really different. I think she could sense my reticence about that, and she said something to me that I’ve never forgotten.

She said, “There’s more than one way to do life.”

What a brilliant statement. Somehow, the words she shared allowed me to settle into the differences between my life and those of the majority of the undergrads there. Her words invited me to drop the feeling of being so different simply because my life had taken a different trajectory than most.

Her statement also points to doing vs. being. We can see things about people from what they do and how they live their lives. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to really know someone, especially if they’re reluctant to be real, to be truly themselves. Most of us try to be something other than what we are, because we learned at a young age what we were wasn’t enough.

When one is willing to allow their radiance to shine, to be wholly themselves, we begin to catch a glimpse of the brilliance, the luminosity that lies behind their eyes.

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It’s Serious Love.

I have a story to share with you about coming to know my beautiful self.

A few weeks ago, I had a photo shoot with one hot photographer, Siddiqi Ray. I mean, look at her art. Really.

Siddiqi loves your pictures right out of you. It’s serious love.

According to her site, I’m one of her perfect clients because I hate(d) having my picture taken. I can now add the ‘d’ because with Siddiqi, I loved having my picture taken. For anyone who really knows me, they know what a transformation that is.

Siddiqi came up to San Francisco for an afternoon for client shoots. She brought the most amazing make-up and hair artist with her. This woman made me up and did my hair in a way that I felt adorned and adored, rather than being made up to hide my flaws. Big difference.

Then, after I had been adorned and adored, Siddiqi began to take pictures. After a few shots, she sat down across from me and proceeded to do a soul reading. This was not your average reading, because where she took me, as she spoke softly and clearly about what she saw, was straight to that which is clearly and deeply me.

by Siddiqi Ray
by Siddiqi Ray

Straight to my soul.

Bammo.

I dropped right down into this place of complete knowingness and serenity.

She spoke of what I am her to do, and it was directly in line with what I know.

THEN, she took my picture. And she captured me, from deep within my eyes.

Bam.

Boom.

Dropped down in.

The eyes don’t lie. To me, this is beauty. Not in how we’ve been taught to see it, but rather because it captures me, so completely, so totally. I don’t have to tell you things about me, you can see into me, into a place where we know each other completely and utterly.

For being someone who hate(d) having her picture taken, I didn’t even have to really stretch to take this in, because they did it with such integrity and truth.

One thing I know about me is that I have a vision. When she took this picture, Siddiqi was sharing how she saw me and I was clearly standing in the vision I’ve been shown.

We can try to tell each other about who we are, but words can never really capture the depth of what can be seen behind the eyes.

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In Tune With The Whole Of Life

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Hello, I Love You, by Zenera
Hello, I Love You, by Zenera

Anytime you think of sexuality, you’ve got to think of your whole life.” Cornel West

Reverb10 Day 06
Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

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Love.

This year has been about making love. And, I’ve used my heart, my body, my mind and my soul

Now I know most of us have been taught that making love means having sex with someone we love. But, I want to break open the tiny sliver of a way in which we see sexuality, sensuality, the erotic.

The way we currently see sexuality is limiting, yet it is so much more. Collapsed and hidden within our culture’s definition of sexuality are sensuality, longing and desire, passion and beauty, and touching to deeply connect.

Let’s take women’s sexuality today – so many women see pole dancing as a way to find their sexy selves. Connecting with our fire in this way isn’t a bad thing at all. It has helped so many women tap into a part of their nature and give it breath. And, yes, it is just one way. And, it can be limiting. It is also a way that can fit into this culture’s view of women – as sexual creatures, even objects, that are here to serve men’s erotic fantasies. The pornography industry is big business. It has a particular view of women, and it isn’t a pretty one. This industry has become ubiquitous in our culture. Its perspective has infiltrated mass media.

When we see ourselves through this perspective, is it serving our wholeness, is it serving how we see and value ourselves? This doesn’t mean trying to eliminate this view, but rather opening up to our whole lives, a sense of wholeness as souls here to love life, to serve with our whole being

I want to open up our view of our sexual energy so we see what’s been hidden. There is a fire in the erotic, a fire that can serve our work in the world.

What if our sexuality could be informed by our intentions, not our conditioning?

I see the possibility for a profound shift for humans: to open our point of view around love-making from an act in the bedroom to all of our acts in the world. To know ourselves as erotic beings in a way that is whole, loving to self, and in tune with the whole of life.

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A story that captures the essence of what I’m wanting to convey:

This man in India is a man of the Brahman class. As a Brahman, he is not supposed to touch people who are beneath his caste. What he does is feed the poor, the homeless, the destitute, the old people who have no one. He cooks each day, then delivers the food, even feeding some people by hand, the ones that can’t feed themselves. He also explains how he loves these people. He is shown bathing them, giving them haircuts and shaves, even massaging their feet. His actions show great love. His voice speaks great love. He is showing these people great love in each action. His touch seems to indicate that he is loving them with tenderness, true compassion and caring.

His actions so clearly show what I am trying to convey. His love infuses his actions.

You might ask why I call this making love, and not simply doing good works. You might find it confusing to mix up sexuality, sensuality and the erotic, and doing work in the world with great love.

All of this can be confusing, because trying to communicate with each other through words is limiting at best. Words come with baggage. We collapse distinctions around words, causing them to point to a mixed-up jumble of conditioning, experiences, beliefs and desires.

For me, this opening up of our minds to our own soul nature is crucial if we are to rediscover our whole nature as sensual, sexual, erotic loving beings, and find the fire and passion to unleash our greatness.

I’m wanting to explode open our limited conditioned ideas of sexuality and making love, for buried in them is our fire, our passion, our power. We are so much more than objects that can be sexy, if we do all the ‘right things’.

Here in our culture, many times when we see people touching we immediately think in terms of sex and sexual attraction. We make up stories about touch. Yet, touch is one of our most amazing senses, and one of the most amazing gifts we can give another. To touch and feel in the heart at the same time, brings a closeness unique to the sense of touch.

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Somewhere, eros and sex got mixed up.

Somewhere, love was thrown into the mix, making things downright messy.

From Wikipedia:
Éros
(ἔρως érōs[2]) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love;” however, eros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage. Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction.” Plato also said eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros.

eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth…Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros.

Audre Lorde wrote this of the erotic:

This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

She adds this:

When we look away from the importance of the erotic in the development and sustenance of our power, or when we look away from ourselves as we satisfy our erotic needs in concert with others, we use each other as objects of satisfaction rather than share our joy in the satisfying, rather than make connection with our similarities and our differences. …

But this erotic charge is not easily shared by women who continue to operate under an exclusively european-american male tradition. I know it was not available to me when I was trying to adapt my consciousness to this mode of living and sensation.

We can choose to see what perspective we are operating under. The European-American male tradition has choked the life out of women’s eroticism, out of our sense of our erotic, sensual selves. It’s put it all into narrow confines and wrapped the words sexuality and sex around them. Everything points there, and yet in reality, that simply isn’t so.

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A soul that can give of itself to the whole of life.

2010 has been about discovering for myself, what it is to be a sensual, erotic being. In making love to life, I am beginning to re-member the sensual and erotic nature within my being that I cut out because it didn’t fit into the cultural tradition in which I was raised. I began to earnestly make love to life, to let go of the small narrow ways I see myself, so I can open to the erotic nature of the soul and of life itself.

What is it to be a soul in a human, female body, a soul that longs to remember its wholeness, the beauty of the world in which it lives? A soul that can give of itself to the whole of life?

Bringing our whole selves to our work, to helping give birth to this new paradigm means re-discovering our nature, a nature that can bring the joy, the eros, the love back into a world starving for what we have to give. We can unleash a passion that fuels our work, so we give our whole selves to it, not just our small, timid egos.

I am in the midst of this making, a making of how I live in this world, how I see myself and what I can truly do, so that it isn’t quite so overwhelming, but rather a natural extension of my nature.

Let’s allow ourselves to notice the fire that was hidden, the passion and joy for life that have been tucked away in the bedroom, or that have become non-existent in our lives, because we believe they can only come out when we’re having sex, or feeling sexy.

Let’s allow each other to discover this for ourselves, to not judge how we do so, but to know we’re all on this journey together, in service to the emergence of the sacred feminine within us.

::

Image courtesy of Zenera, under CC2.0

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