To Be Real, got to be real!

This week has been a wild week emotionally. I described it earlier as a roller coaster but that’s much more pleasurable than this ride. There has been the urge to throw my head back & scream though.

I’ve been back in the monkey mind about getting a real job. For a class assignment in yet another prosperity class, I wrote in a paper on Tuesday:

… I was called to really finally step into my power. Writing, creating artwork, giving eulogies, being a Prayer Practitioner, sitting with the dying, public speaking, teaching, counseling and a myriad of other activities that are about contributing more to the world; these were the ways that I felt both inspired and inspiring. It was about stepping into my life’s work. Playing it safe hasn’t worked well for the past year, the answer isn’t taking a “real” job with a regular paycheck & benefits, the answer is to actually say YES to the things that I love.  I need to know deep within that what I am called to do is the REAL JOB, I am a valuable asset to the world around me doing what I do & Being who I am and that if I Trust my calling it would lead to a different experience. Security comes from Faith, Faith that God is my source.

That night, I had a lovely dream of hanging out with Patti Digh, and there was a moment when she looked me in the eyes & matter-of-factly asks, “so, what’s your stuck story?”. While I recall most of the dream details like the teal & white of the gift wrap around the cobalt bottles, I don’t remember what I said — I’m sure it was whiny –but when I awoke the reasons seemed  profound . Still not as profound as her response, “Oh! So you think all of that is reality!”

After I journalled the dream I opened her book Creative is a Verb randomly to page 20 where it read:

Underneath all these deflections is a belief that our lives are divided into two parts:
 
The Real Part, and
 
The Creative Part
 
Maybe those shouldn’t be separated in the way we’ve been taught.
 
Maybe the Real Part is the Creative Part. And maybe, just maybe that Creative Part is the Real Part.
 

Seriously, I’m still amazed by the serendipity and synchronicity of that specific page at that exact moment. Had I read it before, hence triggering the dream or causing the page to open to that spot? I don’t remember it. Three days later, it still makes me cry reading that though. It brings up such a sadness how much I discount what I bring to the world and a longing to really show up fully and out loud and a hope that maybe, just maybe, its True. (Side note: The irony is not lost on me that I still think I’m not being real with this beet red short spiky hair. Can’t quite keep a lid on the Twinkling Pixie Fairy no matter how much I try.)

Yesterday started in a funk. Even after 100 repetitions of “I surrender to the power and presence of God within me” for the class assignment, I was still not feeling in the least bit surrendered nor the presence of God within me. Yet, when a text came through asking “Feel like being a strong shoulder 4 a minute?” I agreed in spite of myself. I listened to a friend mirror my own questions of self worth & doubt about making a difference in the world. When my own words didn’t come, I borrowed some from Marianne Williamson. Of course, I opened directly to a page talking about surrendering. Then came a prayer from the heart. After sharing words of wisdom we both needed, I found myself singing in the car on my way to a clients. Surrender had snuck up on me, I felt peaceful. Getting to hear my own wisdom by channeling it for a friend was a huge gift from her. Guess it is true:

A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, A song’s not a song ’til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!
Oscar Hammerstein II
 

The funk was back early evening. Gotta pay the rent somehow. So there I am,  looking on Craigslist & saw a posting for a  jewelery artist (can we just politely ignore that I was still looking in the jobs section after all of that great insight?) and sent off an excited email exclaiming what a perfect team member I would be “once you realize what a quirky yet qualified quality I would bring to your studio”. I waxed eloquent about how creative I was. Going to sleep with that fresh on my mind, I awoke at 4:30 wanting to be ready for show & tell should she call. I gathered together lots of examples of my jewelry making skills, my creativity and range of craftsmanship. There’s a plate to show my lettering skills, a sewn mandala to illustrate fine motor ability and even collage to show my high level of accuracy. I hadn’t even gotten a fraction of what I have created in the past 20 years & looking at the spread & realized I can’t whine anymore about not being creative.  A mentor once told me that non-creative people don’t cry about not being creative, they just don’t worry about creativity the same as artists do. I have a crush on my creativity; why is it that when we have a crush on someone that we run away rather than risk rejection? Shhh, we won’t mention that I would almost pay to have that jewelry position. Yet, here I am, not yet setting up my own craft business & still willing to play in someone else’s. Holy smoke!  I guess I still think all of that is reality.

So, what is Real? Words of wisdom from a favorite children’s book:

Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

So I continue to strive to let go of the illusion of limitation and to recognize that in all my pink hair quirkiness, airy fairy pixie dust, Sufi song singing and car dancing, that I am REAL.

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The enigma of enough

It is a word, it is a sentence

It is Enough

Sometimes this sentence is an ending

An exclamation of tolerance

“I’ve had enough” is the cry of the battered woman leaving

“Enough” is the shout of the beleaguered parent,

It is the plea to end the battles, the pursuit to end the war

An expression of the exhausted soul

When I’ve had enough of the bullshit it time to go;

It is an action

Enough is the point between

When the time is right and the fruit is ripe

Puckery persimmon and brown banana

The perfection between raw and burnt

where the baked brownie is slides out of the pan so easily.

It is being satiated

Neither starving nor stuffed

Between anorexia and obesity

It is the glass that quenches your thirst without having to clean up the overflow

Enough is balance

Between scarcity and surplus

The exquisite equilibrium of the tightrope walker

Between drought and flood

The temperature between heater and AC; goose bumps and sweat

It is the moment of giving up the struggle

Flowing with the river rather than paddling upstream or speeding by in a powerboat

Enough is the ending of an era, the beginning of life.

It is when one stops waiting for outside approval and recognizes their own inherent worth.

Both the time to start and stop.

Enough is the place of grace

A prayer

A hope

A plea

There is the moment to embrace that delicate awareness of

I know enough

That

I am enough

I have enough

There is enough

That

I know how to pray enough, I’ve read enough books, taken enough classes

That

I am loving, smart, pretty, witty, doing enough

That

I have enough joy, money, room, energy

That

There is enough love

There is enough energy

There is enough money

There is enough time

No matter what

Both a private epiphany and a social awareness.

Enough is recognizing

We are one

On this planet together

It is sharing resources, everyone gets something

Redistribution between the rock bottom poor and the over opulent rich.

Deciding there is enough by

Feeding the hungry

Adopting the orphans

Giving shelter to the homeless

Nurturing our feeble

Healing the wounded

Acknowledging the faceless

Enough already,

I know about enough.

Yet with all of this awareness

There lingers a fear

Whisper of doubt

That enough isn’t really enough

and more is needed

So I sit in prayer and mediation

Until

                                                        I have enough faith.

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Making a Mountain out of a vole kill

Maybe you caught the FB post:

“yes, I know, as an undertaker I have held the dead. So WHY am I freaking out about the dead vole under the kitchen table courtesy of the cat?!? Seriously having a girl moment. sh!t now she’s tossing it in the air. ::AAUUUUGGGHH::!!”

No, I’m not laughing–yet. I do however notice that I am still emotionally in the story, a full hour later. Wow. I gave up my peace of mind to something small enough to it in my hand; really what could have been a completely inconsequential moment of the day. I peer around the computer screen to confirm there are still rat gut leftovers on the floor. Yup.

It is inevitable that I will finish the clean up, yet instead of doing that & being done, I sit here writing about it. Sounding witty and urbane, it doesn’t fully convey how squeamish I felt and underplays me screaming at the cat. I have posted it on FB, called Griffyn to let her know she “should be” taking care of this, and obviously wanting to share this moment with everyone about the vole.

There is however another voice in my head. I’ve been cultivating the observer mind a la’ Eckhart Tolle and noticing my (over)reaction. “Hmmmm. Well, she still has the drama queen tendencies now and again”. “Wow, Kat has really able to practice some cognitive re-patterning as she analyzes that she has successfully coped with a dead body before and can apply that ability to the situation” and then there is “Able to rationally deal with the situation, yet persistent in making a mountain over a vole kill.” and “Sarcasm, haven’t seen that coping technique recently (OK, that pun was funny though)”.

The lesson in this moment is about recognizing the inner drama queen that still has healing opportunities. It is a human trait that we have something random happen that we alone experience and then there is the need to tell our story again and again.  Have you felt the need to share about a paper cut, the person that cut you off (I was this close to hitting him) or some other mundane moment? What is it that wants to be witnessed in our struggle of overcoming adversity? Is it true that pain shared is pain divided?

More than anything, I am struck by the awareness that spending 40 minutes in meditation this morning was completely superseded by a 15 minute encounter that could have been resolved in literally under 2 minutes from when she walked in the door with it in her mouth to when it was tucked in the garbage and everything cleaned up. Instead I wallowed in the adrenaline before putting on the proverbial big girl panties and just dealt with it, physically and emotionally.

What is it that you are letting get in the way of your peace of mind? What story are you still telling long after the moment is over? Are you able to engage the observer’s mind and notice how you are showing up emotionally and mentally? As we continue to grow and heal, these answers will change, leading to greater awareness.

In this moment, my awareness is that it is time to be done with this chapter.

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Radical Acceptance

Be here now. It is such a short statement yet can have profound implications. Be present physically, emotionally, mentally & spiritually. Be in this moment rather than brooding over the past or worrying about the future.

In this moment, I am embracing radical acceptance yet again. It is about no matter what is showing up, being OK with what is & not beating myself up or wanting to change it. There is another level of understanding too, that this is my way. No apologies. No “my Teacher said this is wrong so I should do it their way”. It is stilling the inner critic, that persistent voice that says I’m doing it wrong, not enough, just give up, I’m not really doing it at all, etc.

For many years, I needed to get a daily practice. Every minister, personal coach, guru, spiritual leader, self-help teacher told me so via TV, email, books, lectures, seminars and classes. It is Tony Robbin’s “Hour of Power” where you set the tone for the day, writing in one’s gratitude journal, sitting zazen on the zafu meditation pillow and so on. Of course there is the right way to meditate, spine straight, sitting absolutely still and depending upon who was teaching it the correct way to still one’s mind whether through chanting, visualization, following the breath or going through the chakras.

My first meditation class was somewhere between 11 and 13 years old. The thing was the more I tried to sit still, the more my legs twitched uncontrollably. My brother in the seat next to me glared. The teacher said it was my Spirit Guide moving through me (the only teacher that normalized the experience) and I was sure I was doing it wrong. Decades later I finally realized it was Restless Leg Syndrome, that meditation relaxed me  as if I were going to sleep & it was time for my nightly bedtime jumping jacks. That really didn’t change how I tried to do it right, since obviously I was broken. Over time I practiced different positions, sat in different chairs and desperately tried to SIT STILL. Of course the more I fought to be still the less meditative the experience was. I spent many hours learning how to do it the right way from some great teachers. Trouble was, my favorite meditation position is lying down and my chakras are out of alignment.

I discounted my personal journaling, long meandering walks being present in nature, hours spent watching the daily sunrise. Moments when I sat with a cup of tea listening to flute music feeling my heartbeat I considered useless. Half an hour scratching a cat’s ears was self serving. I still wasn’t meditating right. I still needed to get a real daily practice. It didn’t matter that I felt connected to God, was in touch with my intuitive side and was able to go into the silence and be a clear channel giving psychic readings, I beat myself up over my lack of ability to sit upright and meditate correctly. I felt ashamed and defensive and sure I was getting it wrong; I must be a spiritual failure.

It was the last year of my cat Bueller’s life that I started considering our morning time with him lying on my chest, purring into my heart chakra as my “Happy Heart Meditation”. Fully present with this furry being, I felt so much love, so connected to God, so… at peace. The loud voice got quieter when it said I still needed to get a real daily practice…

These days, it isn’t like my morning starts much differently than it has since about 2004. I still wake up without an alarm clock somewhere between 5 and 6:30 am. Maybe some writing, inspirational reading. Occasionally I pull a tarot card for guidance or light a candle. No house lights on until I get ready, no music or TV, little conversation for the first hour or two, just a quiet morning. I sit in the dark with a different cat, Mz Thang, sprawled across my heart chakra watching the sky change colors, noticing the hummingbird and 6 other bird species sing outside the window. There’s a point where she goings from purring and kneading, takes a big sigh and grows still. And so do I, going to that inner space of stillness and silence.

It is delicious. It is my way.

My point is that my morning activities haven’t really changed; my thoughts, feelings and definitions of what I am doing have. In accepting that this is my process and how I start my day; I quit apologizing for not doing it right and giving myself the message that I wasn’t doing enough or my way of Being was faulty.

The lesson from this is not to use my way of meditation or my definition of daily practice, it is to listen to the broken record in your head that is beating you up and change the record to one of radical acceptance. Stop letting society define who you are.

What is it in your life that you need to change your mind about? Is there a quality, a process or character trait that its time to stop berating yourself over and breathe in radical acceptance? What would life look like if you quit reading books, sitting in classes, making solemn oaths that you would transform the defect or demon* that is taunting you and instead recognizing it is a part of who you are? How would that free up psychic, emotional, and physical energy?

I invite you to see for yourself.

*The defect or demon is the thing that you have decided is bad about yourself; I’m not suggesting you are anything less than perfect.

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So Begins the Journey

“So begins the journey, the journey into this heart of mine”*

This is my official first blog post. While I have sent out newsletters on yahoo groups, posted notes in Facebook & even set up a website (now defunct), this is my first foray into the blogosphere. Tweeting just seems to succinct for me; I prefer to write like I walk. While I am capable of getting on the treadmill & cranking out a few miles; when I say I am going for a walk it means that I meander around the lake, taking note of the birds, saying hi to dogs on leashes, smelling flowers and stopping to listen to the dragonfly hovering nearby.

I write because it is as compelling as eating, breathing, and sleeping, as if it is another bodily function. I write because to keep this inside me sometimes feels as uncomfortable painful if I am holding in my bladder. I once went 18 months without sex, yet my writing woke me up at 4 am for a year and wouldn’t go back to sleep till it poured out into a notebook. I jot down my dreams, cry over artist pages, journal, keep lists, post to fb, scribble on scraps of paper, memo it on my phone or compose papers daily, if nothing else to write about my love for the thick thirsty paper & having the juicy black pen. To deny the muse is to deny my soul.

I write because I have to.

I share my writings sometimes, not from ego or to earn my bread but to understand and to be understood, to share the struggles and triumphs over life, and to whisper to the others around me “we are not alone.”

These days I am journaling a lot on the concept of spiritual authority. Over the centuries folks have looked to priests & elders to define one’s connection with God, direct conversation was discouraged, it was taught that an intermediary was required for spiritual intersession.

It really has been over the past forty years or so that individuals have taken God into their own hands, choosing titles beyond the word God – Goddess, Higher Power, Spirit Divine, Infinite One and The Universe are some terms I have heard. There has been a saying floating around for a decade or two “Spiritual not Religious”. It is about creating our own connection with the Divine. There has been an evolution from the 90’s when many of us sat in 12 step meetings with the 11th step: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him”. I’m quoting now, I don’t necessarily use the male pronoun for God, but that is another post.

Much of what I will be exploring will be everyday acts of grace  and how we marry the mundane with the profane. How simple acts such as weeding can take me to the a deeper realization of what needs to be weeded out of my consciousness.

I invite those reading to grab a cup of tea & sit with me to dialogue about life & what going on.

*Mary Dolan Lyrics

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