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I went for a walk with my cousin Lauren not too long ago. It was one of those beautiful spring-teaser days that Colorado is so infamous for – the kind where it is in the 70s and sunny but hear that it is supposed to snow the next day.
My cousin seems to see some of the most interesting things when she goes for a walk. She actually has a very impressive collection of photographs of lonely gloves that have been most unfortunately separated from their other half and discarded along sidewalks, on fence posts, etc. So going for walks with her always seem to be an unexpected scavenger hunt, where the list of things that are to be found is added to as we find interesting things.
I wanted to share some of the things I came across that day… as a reminder that if you really enjoy the view wherever you are in that exact moment, there’s so much more to see than just the destination to which you are headed.
What, with the winter solstice, a full moon AND a lunar eclipse, I had to get my girls together for a celebration Monday night. That kind of thing does not happen on a regular basis – hadn’t, as a matter of fact, since 1638. Won’t again until something like 2094. My mom told me that the corresponding powers of the divine feminine during those three powerful acts would be so intense that any prayer or intention set forth would have one thousand times more effectiveness than any other full moon, solstice or lunar eclipse in and of itself.
It was obviously a necessity to invoke the ceremonies my best friend in college and I used to have. The kind where you are not following any guidelines, just your heart and even a half a glass of wine in a plastic water bottle and a handful of almonds become sacred when placed in the center of the gazebo next to a pond in Greeley. Light a few candles and suddenly you are a priestess, waving your hand over the almonds and saying things like, “Goddess bless your nuts” and watching the moon with a profound appreciation for the magic you pretended you felt so hard that suddenly, you really do feel it.
So yes, you might say I have a little experience with sacred ceremonies. And I am a reverend, after all.
We ate an all-raw foods dinner, slurping our avocado soup out of margarita glasses and sipping Pellegrino out of wine glasses. After a quick smudging ceremony outside in which we each had a bundle of sage that we waves around each other and then the drawing of a few Goddess Cards, it was time to get down to business.
I tore a few sheets out of my journal and each of us took two strips of paper. On one, we wrote what we were ready to let go of on this dark night. That which no longer serves – the old stories we have told ourselves, the bitter scars we have carried, the worries, fears and burdens we have beared. The second page was for what we plan on growing in intensity with the increasing light of the sun. And just to make it that much more powerful, we matrika shati-fied that motha’. In other words, we used present tense languaging, as though the things we most desired had already happened, already embodying those words, dreams, desires, goals.
The four of us scribbled away with our brightly colored Sharpie markers.
Outside, we lit a small peach candle and took turns igniting our prayers, beginning with the ones of release. Folded papers dipped down into the flames and we solemnly but happily watched as each page was consumed. All that remained were the soft ashes of each page and a deep breath or two as we felt all that weight lift off our shoulders.
Swaha. Offer it up to the sacred fire for radical transformation. And from the ashes, rise anew.
“I want to open this one up,” my sister said as she bravely unfolded her second sheet. Baring her truest heart and most sacred wishes to the sky, she tipped the paper into the flame. Hell yeah, I thought. Why hide this?!
I held my manifesto over the candle, light burning bright through the middle of my paper. The teal ink looked brown, almost black, backlit as it was and the light made the words in the middle glow. The word “Love” seemed to leap out as the paper caught fire.
My cousin Lo’s burning page settled into soft ashes, leaving one corner completely untouched, as if purposely trying to make a point. “I am in love with myself,” it read.
We all felt lighter as we gawked up at the full moon, still bright white and waiting for the pending eclipse. I was not done yet, I thought. We weren’t done yet.
I snapped my gaze up from my trance on the little peach candle, conduit of our dreams. “Ima get glitter so we can dance around the fire.” No one seemed to be surprised by my declaration.
I distributed little shakers of glitter to each of the girls, tossing some up into the sky and beginning to dance in a spiral around them. Giggling and with glitter in tow, they each began following suit, drenching each other in glitter. Dancing, we blew glitter like kisses out of our palms, sprinkled it like fairy dust on each other’s heads and threw it in great arcs up to the sky above us like holy water. Everything sparkled in the mix of candle and moonlight, a genuine pagan discotheque.
Lo halted her giggling and general frolicking with a gasp. “Look!” she shouted, arms outreached and looking down at her sparkly self. “We’re dancing in the reflection of the divine!”
We were covered in the joy of our intentions. It was almost surreal to look at each other, watching everything glimmer and sparkle like a real-life dream. Honest-to-goodness magic. And it was not all just the glitter.
I looked at the women I stood with. With people like this in my life, how could I ever feel lonely? How could I ever feel any lack when my love for them runs so deep?
Even today after a shower and a solid effort at vacuuming my sister’s house, glitter is everywhere. It serves as a solid reminder of how magic I am. We are. You are. Even on the longest night, the darkest night, the night where even the full moon bears no light – I still shine. Those I love deeply reflect that love back to me and I see them. I truly see them. I see they are letting go. I see they are prepared to receive. I see how ready and willing they are for a change in their lives and how truly worthy they are for every bit of it. And how I could not have asked for better company and support as I practice the same thing.
Sparkle on with your rad-ass self.
Glimmer with the remembrance of your divinity.
Go light something on fire and dance around it with all your heart.
Posted January 10th, 2011. 1 comment
"You are not alone in this."
Me, she-who-analyzes-everything, I hadn’t even considered the symbolism of a kidney stone yet.
I of course immediately updated my friends and family via Facebook about my current kidney stone situation. And it sucked. A friend commented, quoting a book, defining kidney stones as things like lumps of undissolved anger. The affirmation being, “I dissolve all past problems with ease.”
I limped over to my own bookshelf to pull out Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro. Doubled over, her thoughts echoed my friend’s.
“Unshed tears that have become solidified. They should be released and let go of, but instead they are held on to, enabling them to grow. Are you repressing or holding on to negative feelings, such as fear, anger, resentment or bitterness?”
Oh. Gosh. Welp, lookie here, I thought to myself, leafing back in my journal to an entry from two days before I began hurting.
6/27/2010 – I’m still so angry. I try to not be, but I am just still so angry. So hurt. So infuriated that I believed for so long. That I was fooled…. I’ve completely shut down and am totally disinterested in talking about it, yet still harbouring so much anger.
And even more than that, a half a dozen other mentionings of being hurt, still being angry, and feeling disempowered even in the midst of being simultaneously empowered in many other facets of my life. I began to realize through re-reading my ramblings that my reactions to the particular situation had become automatic. I immediately would acknowledge “I am angry” as my affirmation, yet I began to realize – am I really though? Or do I just refuse to pry that anger out of my obstinate fists for fear of admitting defeat?
Toxicity. Poison. Hazardous.
And so, I got PISSED that I had a kidney stone because I was mad about something else. I cursed in the face of what had hurt me most and hissed, “How dare you still upset me like this. Who do you think you are, still berating me? Let me let go of this, you a-hole!”
On the fifth morning of hurting, I awoke at 4am to the most horrific pain I had experienced yet. I hobbled to my sister’s room and begged her to go buy me a heating pad, it being the only thing I could think of that would perhaps alleviate the stabbing throb in my right kidney. As I curled back up into bed with the gentle heat, I began to pray.
At this point, there was no reason to feed into the anger. I began making a list of questions in my head and steadily asked each one breathlessly aloud.
Am I angry about where I am in life?
Am I angry that I am without that in my life right now?
Am I angry it was ever a part of my life?
Am I really hurt right now (other than my goddamn kidney)?
Am I unhappy with my life right now?
I kept answering, “No.”
Bitterness and resentment are emotions of clinging to the past. It thereby empowers long passed anger in the present.
Anger happens. Sometimes without warning. Heartbreak happens and can linger.
I am not actually angry anymore, I realized. I have no reason to be upset anymore. I really don’t. I realize how much I wanted to stay bitter and resentful, but it will really only hurt me. After all, I was the one with the kidney stones, no one else. (Although believe me, if I knew how to give someone else kidney stones, I might be tempted to do so in a few special outstanding cases)
Dignity means portraying behavior worthy of respect and high esteem. Why hold a grudge and carry that shadow everywhere I go? It will only darken my skies and damper someone else’s. I’ll be the one with the kidney stones and the exhausted heart.
I do not want to be the bitter old woman. I do not want to be a cynical twenty-six year old. I have seen those people before and I solemnly swear to consciously choose not to be that.
I am worthy of living my life without resentment and I choose to not live in the echo of my anger.
After that morning when I prayed, affirming that I was indeed no longer angry, the pain began to slowly retreat. I spent my time healing with the most incredible people in my life – my cousin, who had flown in from Boston and my best friend, who flew in from Milwaukee for a Fourth of July camping trip that never happened (thanks kidney stone) and of course my sister – and I realized that I really, truly had nothing to be mad about anymore.
My heart, in the form of my best friends.
Each time I went to the bathroom to pee, I’d wash my hands and return to my spot on the couch amidst my favorites. Even though I was still hurting a little bit, there was no reason to hold on to any of that hurt anymore. I let it pass, and it passed without drama.
Posted October 15th, 2010. Add a comment
I remember the day I realized I was empowered to make my own decisions about the friends I keep. Well, I remember roughly the age and the general place I was in my life, anyway. I had just completed my teens, was set for my twenties and was sick of chasing friends around. I had sufficiently exhausted myself in making excuses for the way they were, the hurtful things they said and their lack of presence when I needed them.
My soft-spot is the undying belief in someone I love – no matter how infuriating, hurtful or abandoning that friend might be on the outside, if I have seen the brilliant light of their heart and sparkle in their eye at one point or another, I will absolutely refuse to ignore it. I will fight and coax and pray and beg for it to come back when it fizzles – and it is utterly exhausting. It’s like when you’re camping and the fire begins to die so you curl up around the smoking embers to protect it with the wall of your body and feed it dried grass and twigs and rub sticks together and blow and blow and blow until you collapse in fatigue, light-headed and sick from the smoke, feeling like a fool for having tried so hard on a lost cause.
With the light of this realization glowing in my belly, I quit apologizing for things I didn’t do wrong. I stopped trying to make plans with friends who always flaked out on me and I stopped calling the friends who were such Negative Nancies. ”It’s time to take care of mySELF first,” I sang. ”I won’t let anyone else ever bring me down.”
Boundaries are healthy. In fact, I highly suggest investing in some boundaries in life. It helps identify the things in your life that you cannot live without, the things about your general well-being that you refuse to compromise and allows you to recognize what you will and will not do for the sake of a friendship.
With the inspiration of the few incredibly hard-headed, strong-willed and some might even call “bitchy” women friends I had, I decided to start standing up for my Self and my Heart. And then I let those friendships fade.
It’s been going really well, if you ask me. These boundaries that I built have allowed me to let go of some incredibly unhealthy relationships, both romantic and not. I have learned to take care of myself first (which is imperative before I begin to take care of anyone else). It has rebuilt my self-esteem as now I don’t sit around and wonder why I’m not worthy enough of this friend calling me back or what I did to deserve that friend being nasty to me. And in time, a few of those “bitchy” friends came back into my life and continue to this day to be my best friends.
But now… now comes the yoga.
With the creation of all these boundaries, I became a little overzealous. I wrapped up around the little flame of my heart so tightly because I was afraid that anyone who came too close would smother my fire – and now all I want to do is let the bright light of love burst out, pour forth and envelop everyone around me.
But it is hard. I didn’t realize those walls had grown so thick.
What happens when an old friend comes back to apologize? Or when someone new comes into my life and wants to share in my heart? How do I learn to not approach every friendship with impending fear of being hurt or abused… but still keep the boundary of my own heart secure? How can I live in a way that I can have a conversation with a stranger and not immediately become defensive of my heart?
Just yet another step towards learning to love Love. And love is love sufficient unto love – and you can figure out the rest.
Hi, how are you?
…boy, this is awkward…
Look, I really want to apologize for not recognizing you. That must have made you really feel like shit. But I want you to know how much it means to me to know you just played along that whole time. You didn’t try to prove me wrong and you didn’t screw with my head like you could have and I appreciate you not taking advantage of me.
All along, I was afraid you’d leave me, and I didn’t realize you ARE me; my breath, my passion and my spark.
I feared your voice was tainted and your opinions were set to misguide me, and I’m sorry I told you to put a sock in it. I didn’t realize it really was YOU being genuine – I thought you were the whispers of someone else trying to trick me.
I haven’t been able to look you in the face for ages. In fact, it’s been so long that I fear I wouldn’t even be able to pick out your face in a crowd. And I’m embarrassed to admit I wasn’t even actually looking in your direction because I was star-crosseyed trying to keep focused on another lover.
Look – I realize now how legit you are. You’re not just shouting arbitrary hogwash to me because you want to see how high I’ll jump. You’ve been asking me to jump because you know I can fly. Before I realized who you were, you couldn’t have paid me to have faith in what I was jumping into. And now? Now I’m purposely waiting on the cliff for the most perfect burst of air to rush up and meet me from all the breathtaking beauty below and toss me into a freefall extravaganza of faith.
I’ve been dense and stubborn, convinced I was running the show and acting like I knew what I was doing. You’ve been patiently raising your hand, waiting for me to take notice and ask you to stand up and share your thoughts with the rest of the group. What I’ve only just realized is how in love I’ve fallen with you.
I’ve fallen in love with you by falling into myself.
You are my inspiration, my passion, my intuition, my heart – you are ME.
Like, literally – I’ve been falling in love with myself this whole time. No more middle man. No one else gets the credit for this one – this was all me.
I can’t wait to keep falling in love with myself over and over again.
Muse, keep it real. Remember I love you. I’ll see you soon.
Thank you for loving me.
I gave my little sister a Ganesh sticker from Third Eye Threads that I found when cleaning out a bag from Yoga Journal (yes, that was months ago and I’m JUST now unpacking). She smiled, anxious to have her very own Ganesh to put up in her room.
“He’s the one who removes obstacles in your life, right?” she asked, assessing her room for optimal placement. I nodded.
She froze, mid-movement. Eyeing the sticker, she said, “He also PUTS the obstacles there sometimes, too, right?” I smiled and nodded again.
I left her to her room for a little while, listening to her mumble about how she wasn’t going to put him on her laptop for fear that she had enough obstacles granted to her in school this semester.
An hour later, I wandered back to her domain to see if she had made a decision. Just to the right of her bedroom door she has hanging a hand carved Samoan mask that a friend of hers gave her from Samoa – a scary looking creature with big teeth and gaping holes for eyes. The frightening mask has its mouth open, and whether it’s about to bite off your head or just yawning is indeterminable. Samoan mythology suggests that hanging one of these masks in the home will protect you from demons and other such bad spirits.
And my sister had put Ganesh on the wall behind the opening of the terrifying mask’s mouth.
I pointed and looked inquisitively over my shoulder to my sister, sitting at her desk doing homework. She stretched her arms up high over her head.
“I figured if I put him there, then Ganesh can’t be too much of an obnoxious little shit with the obstacles he’s throwing at me.”