Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Destined ...

an alive
within a
embedded deeply
and it is of me,
birthing the holomorph
of not-yet
though what is
my God-given path.
Can I let go,
into what
I am
destined ...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Skeletons in the closet ...

Today is your big day by Fer Gregory
Today is your big day, a photo by Fer Gregory on Flickr.
Yesterday, I visited a dear friend who has been admitted to an eating disorder treatment program and will remain there for 6 weeks. While she does not look the part, the skeleton in her closet is actively at work, starving and excessively exercising in hopes to be the real deal someday.

As I walked up to her building from the parking lot, there were a cluster of young girls on the path. They were literal stick figures. Hollowed faces and clothing barely hanging on their bones. I see why my friend is still comparing herself to those around her and shaking her head over and over: "I can't be that bad?"

It's a matter of perspective. As I see it, addiction is an inside-job. And so is recovery. When we let the outside inform our interior, we get confused, trying to make sense of what we see and then that influences how we feel.

My friend is at the wee beginnings of what I suspect will be an enormous shattering. She is without her 3x daily rigorous workout regimen. She is watched at every meal and if she refuses, then she is made to drink Ensure. She has no contact via cell phones or internet. It is just her and the 4 walls of her tiny room and tiny roommate and all the other tiny women trying to figure out if they can be full again.

I will admit that I couldn't wait to leave. Not to get away from my friend, no not that at all. It was the empty, vacant stares of the inhabitants of this place piercing through my heart. I became aware of the solidity of myself, much in the same way I feel the personal in impersonal space. I wanted to make space full. I had discomfort in the nothingness of what was here. Funny, this IS my work. But this is NOT the place.
I have another variety of skeletons in the closet I must face ...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Mystery of the Dead End

No more efforting ... by playzwifstonz
No more efforting ..., a photo by playzwifstonz on Flickr.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”
― Gilda Radner

In a rather spontaneous, in the moment conversation with my healer over a lovely dinner, she shared with me a "seeing" that she had about my biological lineage. One that was riddled with tragedy, from addiction of all kinds to depression to early deaths and even suicide. This information confirmed the inherent wisdom in my being about "not going there" with regard to a desire to meet my biological family. I've been curious about my ethnic heritage, yet have always had a halting in my system about seeking the actual members out. It is quite likely they are not among the living.

The Reality I dropped into today during a healing session with a classmate about this subject was that moving in the direction of my biological lineage would find me at a dead end. AND ...
there is a mystery within this. I don't know what will arise for me. There are threads that have not yet been revealed or turned.

I became aware today that this is the Reality that lived in the background of me but was not something I actually wanted to see or know in this way.   I would watch stories on TV of adopted children being reunited with their birth families and cry my eyes out.   I believe those tears were a deep sadness for a longing that I knew would never come to fruition.  

My healer shared that exploration of this would bring me to great grief -- that I would feel lonelier than I ever have AND that I would be Not-Lonely in a way that I never have.

I feel the tremendous split here, yet now I am not holding myself as the perpetrator who is doing the splitting but rather I am the container for the splitting -- holding the world of my biological lineage and the world of my adopted lineage simultaneously.

I don't know anything else about what this means and I am committed to being present to the mystery of this dead end, to see what else may arise from the ash.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I am aware of all the ways I can be ungrateful. It comes from self-centeredness.
My new sponsor, tough-as-nails on the outside/teddy bear on the inside, really gets this and has no problem telling me about it.

A grateful heart never drinks.

I might add: asking God how I may serve does not make room for selfish thinking.

For most of this week, I have been profoundly sad. Sadder than I have ever been. My sponsor thinks this is fantastic. Not because I am sad, but because I am deeply feeling and letting in Reality -- the Truth and what is here and what I have created. And then I have a tool which is to humbly ask God to take this and do with it what He will, trusting his plan for me.

So on the heels of this great Sadness, I awoke today giving thanks. It began on my knees when I met the day and continued in every waking moment since. For my connection to God. For my life and my breath. For having a home. For my dog - my constant, loving companion. For my loved ones, near and far. For being able to cook nutritious yummy food to bring to my sister's. For being sober and getting to a Gratitude meeting. For my AA family and my sponsor. For my own family - every single one. For the abundance and prosperity I have been blessed with. For the loving texts I received. For the friends who kept me company on the phone for my drive. For the Fall air and sunshine. For the people who worked at the WaWa on a Holiday so that I could get gas to travel. For my favorite women's AA meeting and the 4 others who showed up tonight. For a body that works and moves and feels deeply. For my humanness and my falling tears. For seeing another day on this earth.

My heart is open and full and aching all at the same time. I give thanks for its every beat and the Life I have been blessed with, if just for today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Sad Clown

Sad Clown by ::big daddy k::
Sad Clown, a photo by ::big daddy k:: on Flickr.
"People say I'm the life of the party
cause I tell a joke or two
well I might be laughin
loud and hearty
but deep inside, I'm blue
so take a good look at my face
you see my smile looks out of place
if you come closer it's easy to trace
the tracks of my tears ..."
~ Smokey Robinson

I have had a significant amount of grief arise recently. It is for the one in me who has carried long-standing patterns that can be linked back to what I learned and how my ground was poisoned from my mother and my father as a little girl.    How I, in turn,  have poisoned where I stand.

I didn't have the kinds of victories that kids need to boost their self-esteem, to feel valued, to feel loved. I do not make these statements from a "Poor Me" place; they are statements of fact -- this is just the way it was. I didn't know my place in the world. So I made it up along the way. My mother did not allow me to have the fullness of accomplishments in public forums such as church; she, instead, would brag about something I did and talk about me as if I wasn't standing there so that she could receive the accolades. Every once in awhile I'd get an approving nod or smile from one of the other church ladies, kind of like when you're telling people about the great tricks your dog does and then someone coos and pats it on the head. It was like that.

One of the more painful realizations this past week was to fully see that I was a very sad child. You wouldn't know it, as the song lyrics imply above, unless you got close enough to take a good look at my face and see the tracks of my tears. I was, in fact, a sad clown. I was the kid who tried to do pranks and make funny gestures and faces to get you to laugh. I understand that this was a very clever strategy I devised to deflect from my pain -- so you couldn't see it and I didn't have to feel it.

I grieve this week for the little girl who lulled herself to sleep sobbing into the deep crevices of her pillow so that her sister who slept in the same room wouldn't hear. So that her father didn't have to bear the sight of a "big baby" as he would say aloud about any indicator in me that was going to lead to tearfulness. I grieve for the little boy who became my father because I am aware that his mother was depressed and sickly and it is likely that anything that was reminiscent of her poisoning ground activated his own toward me.

I began writing in diaries starting around age 10. I wrote melancholy poems by the age of 12. Not a soul saw these, nor did I reveal them. I had a closet full of journals up until the age of 18 that held my sadness. When I came home at the age of 21 to collect my stuff and move out, I discovered that all of this writing was tossed out -- by my mother. I was furious. I had wondered if she read any of them, but more so, that she discarded the outpourings of my soul. It is only now that I understand how much I drank AT her and loathed her during my twenties yet was never really in touch with those feelings.

And, I grieve for her too. The enabler of an alcoholic husband and the pressure of holding a family together so that it would not disintegrate. She too could not bear my sadness -- for to feel it would mean she might have to feel her own. She kept everything at bay so she would not break into a million shattered pieces. This is how she survived.

My sister refused to experience sadness and, instead, fought and rebelled. An early pregnancy found her kicked out and in the arms of an abusive father of her children.

My brother, on the other hand, took in the most toxic sips of the poison in our family -- the end result being isolation, withdrawal, and eventually a psychotic break. I believe he was deeply depressed -- he came by this rightly having inherited the crippling DNA from my father's side of the family.

Because I am awake and willing and sober -- I can feel ALL of this. It can exist in the same house with my genuine playfulness and joy. This needs to be felt in its fullness so that I can make room for what else may be dormant and not yet known to be birthed from me.

Farewell sad clown ... your make up is running and it's time to put away the costume. Live into the one who can be fully here, no disguise required.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Inviting Everything In ...

O  n  e   H  u  n  d  r  e  d. by Tomasito.!
O n e H u n d r e d., a photo by Tomasito.! on Flickr.
There is a meditation from my Healing teacher that I have been working with, entitled: "Inviting Everything In".

The intention is to welcome all parts of ourselves: the small frightened parts; the courageous parts; the selfish parts; the devoted parts; the parts that are "standing guard".

This meditation has been working me more than I am practicing it.

As the day unfolded, I found myself getting increasingly indecisive, which then resulted in me getting very irritated and cranky. I couldn't even decide when I was going to take a shower or what to have for lunch ! I kept leafing through the AA meeting list book and unable to pick a meeting or a time. Finally, I moved into the shower and I was on the verge of tears as I lathered my hair, feeling like something in me was cracking. I made a simple salad for lunch because I couldn't figure out anything else even though there were a variety of potentially interesting options.

I got on my usual Sunday call with two heaing classmates and I shared exactly where I was at. This led to a discussion about the meditation and inviting everything in. One of my classmates noted how she's aware of how I had been trying to "let go" of some of the rigid ways I've adopted and always needing to have my days filled up. The other classmate saw my indecisiveness as a friend, a teacher --offering me an invaluable lesson about being unstructured. Just then the insight slammed into me: I had been viewing the part of me who was indecisive as a difficulty, a nuisance, something that I wanted to get rid of. Right there in front of me was the real trouble-maker: my own resistance. I didn't see this part for the gift that it was. I was holding onto a story about worthiness tied to being productive, busy, having my day planned out. The inability to make decisions was a comfortable chair being pulled out for me to rest and relax into -- to not have to rush to somewhere or to do something.

As the discussion went on, another insight bubbled up. It was about being a kid and not being able to go out to play with the other kids until I completed my chores. When I was tall enough to reach the sink, I was directed to do dishes. And then vacuum. Eventually, mow the grass and use the hedge clippers. I, like my mother then, had to accomplish a number of tasks to have some assemblance of order, control and even worth. I had a memory during this discussion about really wanting to go out with friends on their bikes on a sunny summer day and my mother having me vacuum first. I tried to rush and she followed me and pointed the tip of her sneaker at the pieces of dirt I missed. I was fuming inside and ran the vacuum right into her foot on purpose ! She was furious and immediately forbid me to leave the house and I was banished to my room for the day. I stewed and cried and wished her dead.

The part I invited in today was the one in me that stands guard and is quite fearful -- an inner tyrant. I had her make friends with the indecisive one who showed up earlier who was requesting that she "Back the fuck off !". My classmates and I had a belly laugh at the tyrant's expense !

I got off the call without a plan for the rest of the day. I walked the dog, then surfed the Net looking at car reviews and interesting boots. I read. I really wanted to go to an AA meeting and flipped open the book randomly and chose one that was in another county - about a half hr away. On my way there, I got lost. I stayed the course and trusted my sense of direction. It literally just "popped up" ! It made me smile inside.

It was a Step meeting and tonight was Step 4. I almost burst out in a fit of giddiness at the absolute rightness of being there and getting exactly what I needed. "A fearless and searching moral inventory" translates to: "Inviting Everything In". I still can't stop smiling ...

Inside-Outside Confusion

Time by larsvandegoor.com
Time, a photo by larsvandegoor.com on Flickr.
My body is in its preparation for dropping temps and putting on sweaters and acclimating to autumn. My body became quite confused yesterday, as the outside plummeted toward the freezing mark and snow and sleet pelleted my windshield. It was only October 29th !

I look out my window today and I see the familiar colors of changing leaves AND snow on the rooftop ! Once again, my inside that says it's October 30th and it's Fall cannot seem to make sense of the white coating that does not match.

I had a well-spent hour on the phone yesterday with someone about the very nature of inside-outside confusion. How in our alcoholic thinking, especially those of us who grew up in homes where behavior by family on the outside didn't make sense to our insides (i.e. what we expected those family members to be doing). In my family, the greatest place of confusion was to look outwardly at faces that didn't match mine when I still believed that the tall people around me were my real parents. I would later learn that I was adopted and this was no longer as confusing, but the aspect of believing it for the better part of my 1st decade of Life would turn out to be more disturbing to my system than I'd ever imagined. For the person I was speaking with, brothers are expected to behave in a variety of ways toward their sisters except they are most definitely NOT supposed to have sex with their sisters. Especially when the brother is 15 and the sister is 11. The inside becomes terrified and deeply confused about what is happening on the outside.

These kinds of lasting body-memory experiences are hard to shake loose as adults. For many of us, it fucks us up. We translate this confusion to every scenario in our lives that doesn't make sense in our interior. The woman I spoke with yesterday is not able to trust most men, even as someone in her early 40's, because of the inside-outside confusion created by the experience with her brother. Every action that seems "misleading" on the outside by a man is instantly translated on the inside for her as a potential threat of harm. She is recognizing this and doesn't know how to break the cycle. We spoke about just having the confusion in our awareness is the first step.

The greater aspects of my inside-outside confusion had to do with watching my father arrive home in one way and then once he started putting the amber liquid from those brown bottles down his throat, he was a completely different way ! And this could change from hour to hour, night to night. I thought Daddies were supposed to pick up their little girls and put them on their laps and talk to them or brush their hair like I saw on TV. My inside longed for this kind of daddy but the one I saw on the outside had no interest in being near me. He cuddled those bottles close to him and that was the only thing getting that kind of contact. He never even got within 4 feet of my mother, his wife. The ones on TV would hug and kiss and say "I love you". I never saw this. I believe this is why I clung so tightly to teachers I had because I was desperately trying to find a match on the outside for what I craved on the inside.

My relationship with men, however, didn't result in mistrust later in life. In fact, quite the opposite happened: I trusted them so much that I allowed myself to be used in every way by them -- mostly sexual. Perhaps the confusion got translated like this: my inside longs for closeness to a "Dad" and even though I am not sexually attracted to men (and clearly a lesbian), I'm going to be promiscious with men to try to meet that inside need. My inside longing to be loved did not match my outside actions of surrendering my body to the gender I had no desire for. And didn't even like sex with !

It is good to have clarity today.  As a kid,  I was powerless to the actions of the outside.  As an adult,  I'm still powerless to the actions of the outside,  yet the difference is that I know what I want on the inside and I seek that for myself in my outside actions. And when these actions aren't aligned, I get the signal: "Houston, we have a problem." It's a pretty cool thing. My healing and recovery work, my connection to God has offered me this gift.

The roof still has snow on top as I look out on this October morning and for now, I tell my inside that sometimes the elements in Nature line up like this. Maybe just to shake things up a bit ! But not to confuse our insides with the outside. We humans do that all on our own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

No More Cross to Bear ...

Crossing the Vineyards by Vainsang
Crossing the Vineyards, a photo by Vainsang on Flickr.

A thread of an awareness about a particular Truth got illuminated today in a healing session with a dear friend/classmate.

"I don't have to save all the retarded people."

In fact, I don't have to like all of them or work with them.

I have had a gnawing at my interior around inauthenticity. It began, actually, last week when I was illustrating the use of a Genogram and using my own family tree as the example. On my dad's side of the family, there is extensive alcoholism and depression. Except in 1 person: my aunt Judy. Her primary "flaw" was being born with mental retardation. My students asked me: "Do you think there's a relationship to the alcoholism and depression and the fact that a child was born into this family that perhaps brought stigma or shame?" Fantastic question. I had never connected up these pieces before.
I responded: "I don't think it's necessarily linear - meaning one caused the other - but I suspect that there is a relationship in the co-arising of this stressor (my aunt's disability) and the other patterns."

And then, as I drove home from seeing clients at a new agency this week, I feel this place of falling out of integrity, not living in my Truth arise. This is how I begin my healing session today. I got into this field, working with people who have developmental disabilities, out of an affinity for my aunt Judy AND from a place of wanting to rescue. I watched kids make fun and bully her in the neighborhood. I witnessed the maltreatment of her by my grandfather and grandmother, my Uncle and at times, even my own father. I never understood fully, until today, about this burden I had been carrying -- a duty, a sense of moral obligation to advocate and protect people with developmental disabilities. Perhaps because I couldn't save my family from the dirty secret of my Aunt Judy. Or the even dirtier secret of all the hidden alcoholism.

There is a guise of goodness, upstanding citizenship because of doing work with these "special needs people". Hell, it was what I hid my own alcoholism behind ! And, I am increasingly more aware that this is no longer the cross I need to bear. I don't want to abandon people with disabilities completely AND I do want to be clear about which folks I no longer desire to work with and cannot help. I don't want to be with people who wreak of urine. Or who pick at their legs til they become grossly infected. Or who bang their heads on pavement. Or who drool profusely. I am no good for them ! I want to engage with the folks who can -- there is something very alive in this for me and THIS is what feels true. I can no longer pretend to be the "friendly visitor", feigning a compassionate face while cringing and nauseous on the inside.

There is tremendous freedom in the allowance of the Truth that is staring me in the face.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The Golden Voyage by adrians_art
The Golden Voyage, a photo by adrians_art on Flickr.
The unfolding of my snake dream is quite astounding.

Over the course of a couple of days after the reptile offered its guidance, I realized that what was here for me was much larger than me ... it was turbulence and chaos of my surroundings that I began to become sensitive to. This ranged from controversial correspondence among colleagues at work to video equipment malfunctioning to traffic gridlocks. My irritation level was rising and my ego thought it was now in charge.

In a highly frustrating traffic detour on my way home from work on Thursday, I receive an unexpected call from my ex. For a few seconds, in between rings, I quickly churn: "What the hell does she want? Fuck! I don't wanna talk to her !" And, in a split second after that mini hissy fit, the snake is right here, insisting that I pick up. I listen to good orderly direction and I do.

After brief small talk, my ex tells me that she has called to make amends. Some things she hadn't said to me previously. I am dumbstruck. She apologizes for abandoning me in our relationship, for being emotionally unavailable, for being secretive. I sit silently, my heart opening in awe, and she asks: "Are you still there?" I reply: "I am quite here; I am simply receiving you." She is relieved. We chat more and she shares news about a former mutual friend's recent diagnosis of stage 4 liver cancer and asks about our dog (the one I have custody of!). Before we're about to hang up, that pesky serpent is slithering by my ear and I listen again. There is an opportunity here for me to also make an amends that I had not previously. The growing irritation and story-making of the week has brought me to this moment. I say: "I did not get to say to you that I was very rigid and critical of you in our relationship. I didn't allow you to be exactly who you are. And for that, I am sorry." I hear her crying softly. She tells me how healing this is. I concur.

The allowance of everything to have a place, to have a right to exist, to be felt and named offers tremendous freedom from control and from fear. I can be more of who I am because I am letting others be more of who they are.   In order to do this,  I have to listen deeply,  with all of me.  And follow each thread of guidance,  trusting where it will take me.

THIS is the illumination.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Serpent Smarts

I had a dream last night that I was face-to-face with a colorful snake; I originally thought it was a coral, but after some research online, I found this photo of a Kingsnake which most accurately depicts the one in my dream.

I had a contraption that was much like the hand-held garbage pickers that people use who clean up street trash for a living and I used this to choke the snake right at the base of its head, aware that I didn't want its poison.
I am not actually sure that I killed the snake, but I do know that I experienced a fearlessness that I have not typically had with THE nemesis of all of my phobias !

Some time after this dream, I was woken by the force of my own inner God-voice, my wise sage-- "Tiferet" is the name used in Kabbalah. The voice was more like an annoyed tenant with a Brooklyn accent: "C'mon ! Get your ass up and listen to me ! I'm takin to you !" I sat straight up. What got illuminated for me was a series of conversations and events in which I dismissed the red flags, the wise inner knowings. How often I deny or quickly bypass the Reality of situations as a defense strategy. The snake dream was a direct link to this experience. In animal medicine, not only is the snake about shedding the old and bringing in the new, but its presence is also about wisdom.

I was guided this morning to talk with my sponsor and then a trusted healing classmate. More was revealed for me. How I still don't fully trust I can hold the Truth of what is here and how my "story maker" steps in (a guise of the ego I suspect) and taints the opportunity to uncover the real meaning, what is larger than just the parts of what is in front of me.

Something big is looming here for me and perhaps for those close to me. I am excitedly anxious. In this moment, I have been challenged by my classmate to let all the pieces come alive and to breathe into all that I am feeling and sensing from the painful and fearful to the wildly passionate.

I am shedding my skin. Gotta listen within. And get me some serpent smarts.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Live Every Day Like You Got a Brain Tumor

Jump! by TGKW
Jump!, a photo by TGKW on Flickr.
I have a new friend -- a friend and work colleague of healing classmates -- who has an inoperable brain tumor. I get posting notices almost every day from her online journal. She lives every single day to its fullest potential, celebrating nearly every moment, regardless of its seeming insignificance to the outside world.

i just read her recent post and she was rejoicing and shouting on the proverbial mountain top about the fact that she had her wig trimmed, got to see her kids off to school, and had extra time to spend with her husband.

I am taking notes and a getting a lesson here.

Do I wish for a brain tumor ... Oh Hell No ! Do I want to embrace every nugget of my Life and not let even the smallest things pass by --- YES! I want that.

Last night, I sat having a wonderful cup of coffee with a sponsee who is striving to let go of anger and irritation. She re-visits Steps 3-7 on a regular basis because her defects rear their cranky selves often. And, the great thing is she is catching herself earlier and making different choices in what she acts on. We laughed aloud at her foibles and her successes. And I want to be there, receiving her. We go on to an AA meeting and I am pleasantly surprised that yet another sponsee is there and she's the one sharing her story. Full of grace and free of shame. She embodied her sobriety and I was overcome with joy in having watched her struggle and fiercely resist this program and admitting she is an alcoholic. I sat next to a guy I adore and a woman I used to see at a meeting I no longer attend. I thought about how former Friday nights were spent alone and isolating and how I have a family and a home to go to anytime I need and want. As I arrived home, I got to spend a few minutes on the phone in connection with my sweetie and hear about her meeting and experience a shared gratitude for our individual recovery paths. And then I watched my Phillies in game 5 of the playoffs and unfortunately they couldn't pull out any runs to surpass the 1-0 lead held over them. The better team won. And I could embrace that too.

I can't assume I get another day on earth, so I better get good and awake loving this one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fire in the Belly

yo yo
check it out
gonna scream
gonna shout
got fire in the belly
got fire in the belly

chantin til I drop
expressin til I pop
no restin for the ambitious
feed my soul
give it all that's nutritious

wanna write like a
yeah that's right
like a motherfucker

don't wanna drink
just a sip of those thoughts
that I think
spit out what's no good
my mind's a dangerous 'hood

lettin go of resentments
don't want them pilin up
like pup tents in
my head or my heart
everyday's a fresh start

get down on my knees
thankin God
for my breath, for the day
that I got

right before me
is all I have wanted
nothin to search
nothin hunted

I got a fire in my belly
a flamin blaze in my belly

goin out to live this life
this IS my only life ...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Holding Light Around Another ...

hold me pls...

I went to an AA meeting last night where I spoke a couple of Sat's ago.  It is a meeting whose membership is often very blue collar,  rough-around-the-edges,  yet very REAL.   As some say in the rooms,  it's a place where "they keep it green".    People are not hesitant to share what is really going on,  like the details of how seduced they became by a thought of a drink or how they have made themselves crazy with their alcoholic thinking.

One woman,  who I've never seen before,  shared how she's been in AA now for a little over a year and how the pink cloud is long gone.  She feels as dissatisfied in the meetings as she did in the bar,  so a drink is looking pretty good right now.  She questioned the suffering of the world,  if God actually exists and what the hell is there to be grateful for and please don't anyone tell her to be thankful for her breath or she's gonna punch you out.   I believe she was quite serious about that threat too !

Normally after a meeting like this,  I would exit quickly and head to my car.   I stayed and I waited to talk to that woman who shared.   I thanked her for being so honest and for naming exactly where she is.  Her response to me was:  "So what do I do now?  Is this all there is?   How can there be a God when so many people are in pain, including me?"  I had no answer,  just a nod,  a slight smile,  and an enormous light emanating from my being to hers.   I finally did say to her this:  "These questions you have are so alive!  Stay here and then see what happens!"   She gave a little smile back and then asked me to walk outside with her so she could light up a cigarette.   I knew deep inside that if she's asking questions of God and God's actions,  then she is absolutely in relationship with God.  She just doesn't see that right now.   Should I say this to her?   I wait awhile as she smokes.  A couple more people stand with us and they smoke too.   I usually have no tolerance for this,  yet this time I just adjust myself and back up a few feet so I don't get consumed by the fumes.   Others tell her that they relate to her and how the 1st year or so is hard and that it gets easier.   She's having trouble taking it in and then gives herself an exit.  Many of us tell her to keep coming back and try new meetings,  meet new people.  She yells back:  "I think I will!"  

As we all begin to head to our cars,  a woman I see at a couple other meetings walks with me.  She normally has a scowl on her face and appears very unapproachable.   We stop near our cars and she says to me:  "I like listening to you.  You seem really connected to God."   I am taken aback.   She goes on:  "It was hard for me to hear tonight how the speaker was suicidal and then 2 others spoke about that too.   You know my husband was the one in our fellowship who shot himself last year."  My heart sinks.  I feel sick inside ... not because she's sharing this,  but because I never knew that she was his wife.   It happened close to this time last year and many of us were shocked at the news.   We were told that he left behind a wife and a son who were both in AA.    I never knew it was her.  Everything came together in a flash and I understood now what must have been going on inside and how I judged her from the outside.   She continued to talk and it started to rain lightly and she asked if it was too much and I said  "No, not at all"  and she poured out her guts.  She told me of how they met and how he began to dabble in prescription meds after a back injury.   And then came the psych hospitalizations.  And then thoughts of suicide.  She never thought he would carry it out.   She was the one to find him and she recalls calling her sponsor and how she was brought to a meeting that very night.  As she spoke,  I saw her strength and all that she'd been carrying.   It was she who initiated an intervention for her son and now he's a thriving member of AA.    And she continues to have faith.   Amid all of this tragedy,  she said that while she could relate to the other woman who shared,  she's never questioned God's presence and plan for her.   She said she'd pray for that woman.   I was awestruck by the end of our conversation.   We hugged and then parted as the rain got harder.

This is what we do in AA and as compassionate human beings:  we hold the light around another until they can shimmer on their own like the stars that they are. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pushing Against the Flow ...

Pushing against the flow

I had a healing yesterday with a dear classmate.   I was examining an aspect of my life that involved a branch on the Tree of Life that is labeled:  Gevurah.   It refers to boundary, structure, discernment,  judgment.   In conversation with this classmate,  what we both discovered is that when Gevurah is in its unhealed state,  it is passive in nature.   I felt so good at the start of my healing work about setting boundaries with others.   The truth was that,  while it looked like boundary-setting by all appearances,  it was a passive arresting of being in relationship.   The "flow"  (or what is known as Chesed -- Gevurah's partner branch on the Tree) is in essence being halted.  It is actually controlling another through what appears to be setting a limit.

Gevurah in its healed state,  on the other hand,  is active.  And,  when it's in relationship to Chesed,  it is a pushing against the flow.   There is conflict, even confrontation.  And there is juicy and meaty relationship !  Boundary setting involves taking a stance and sometimes even fighting for that position.   Not from a place of defensiveness but rather from a place of honoring the boundary that has been set with intention and that is also to be respected.

To draw a line in the sand and say to another:  "you can't cross this"  is passive.  It doesn't allow for the war that is part of negotiating a relationship.   For both of us to keep drawing lines,  moving them, questioning them, stepping our feet over them and stating our intentions for doing so is to be in the active dynamic of Life.  It is an alive engagement !

I have held out the literal and figurative hand to stop others in their tracks.  My will be done.  You will be controlled.   You will not have access to me.   You cannot threaten or hurt me.   This is setting boundaries from quivering terror.  And there is an aspect of this,  which has a palpable sensation,  of cutting another off right in their tracks,  ceasing the flow of human exchange.  It actually feels cruel and harsh.   I did this to many people over the years.

I was in a meeting tonight in which we read Step 1.  I am reminded that I am powerless over EVERY THING.   There is not a blessed thing that I have control over,  even when I act as if I do and,  even more self-centered,  when I act is if I have the RIGHT to.   

Pushing against the flow of Life is to be pulsating with it, dripping in its sweat,  in the thick of its hairy chest and heartbeat.  This is where I have the best chance of seeing God face-to-face in the eyes of another.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fragile Sparrow

Sweet Jesus
put your hands acoss this fragile sparrow,
dancing against the wind
she is waiting for the storm
to end ...
Only you
these torn wings can mend
For where I've flown
it will take eternity
with you to spend
pain will end.
~ Christine

This poem was one of many found in journals of a woman in my AA community after she died last week. This one was featured on the program for her memorial service held today.

I was with 11 other members of our regular Tuesday night meeting to support her boyfriend, also a member of our group. He looked both stunned and shattered today, drop-kicked into Reality amid all of the photos of his Love, ranging from being a little girl until recently, including a special display with pictures of she and him. Those were the pictures that went straight to my heart and ripped it wide open. Especially one photo which captured them, lips touching, in a tender kiss.

There is no mistake that my healing Teleclass today would have included a discussion about our relationship to Life and Death. My heart is the chamber where profound joy and deep sorrow are nested opposites. I felt both emotions today as I took in the photos and experienced the elation I have about my own significant relationship and, simultaneously, the anguish of feeling the insurmountable sadness that would accompany experiencing her death. Many of us could not imagine being in our friend's shoes and we also related to the surrealness and realness that he was trying to juggle today.

Christine's cousin and her minister offered celebratory comments in honor of her life. The way she touched people. And how she loved Jesus and God. They also spoke frankly yet kindly about her struggles with mental illness and addiction and the courage she had to face each head on and seek help. The most moving part of the service was when her cousin relayed to us the conversation she had with Christine the night before she died. Christine spoke about the physical and mental pain she was in and how weary it had made her. She told her cousin that whenever it's her time to go, she wants her hand extended so that Jesus can take her -- peacefully. This is EXACTLY how she died and how she was found that next morning ... her arm extended across the bed.

The reality of death brings us, if we are open, to meet our own mortality and the preciousness of our life. It has a bittersweet taste and it makes my heart swell. I want to stroke those torn wings and let those tears gently fall as I hold the fragile sparrow that I am.

Herded Back to God

Arratsaldea /// Atardecer by Jabi Artaraz
Arratsaldea /// Atardecer, a photo by Jabi Artaraz on Flickr.
Every waking moment is an opportunity to be shown the way to God. Sometimes, we stray. And, if we're open and willing to our resistance, our avoidance, our doubt ... we can be lovingly herded back.

The shepherd takes all kinds of forms, sometimes not even human form. It may be as subtle as a fleeting thought or a whisper.

My interior has developed its own signaling mechanism to alert the unit known as me that I have gone off course and moved away from God. It can show up as dialogue in my head that has a flavor of victimization. It can appear in the form of mean thoughts about another, compelled to blame or criticize them. It can be the sudden onslaught of cursing out other drivers who are not behaving as I want them to on the road. And, it can be found in my questions such as "Why this?" or "Are you kidding me?" or "What the fuck?"

I am working with a study group from my healing community on my teacher's book about Receiving God. One of the exercises is about holding a difficulty gently and feeling it, without demanding that God show its ultimate meaning, but rather that I take it on faith.

It is being this vulnerable -- in trusting that the difficulty here for me is precious -- that opens up the path back to God. This is Step 3 in all of its powerful Divinity: the surrendering of my will over to the care of God.

Today, I am holding close to my heart the death of a member of my AA community and her Beloved who is here, grieving and lost.

On a lighter note: I am also trying to hold close by, begrudgingly, all of the pesky ants that have invaded my bathroom over the past week. Mostly, I want them all to die. I am incredibly uncomfortable and irritated by their presence, especially when one gets on my skin while I am on the toilet or brushing my teeth. I must trust that something in this too has God-given  preciousness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


21st Birthday Cake by Quirky Confectioner
21st Birthday Cake, a photo by Quirky Confectioner on Flickr.
In AA, there is a tradition of celebrating one's anniversary of sobriety as a "birthday". On September 4th, I turned 21. A legal adult.

I am understanding on a deeper level that this is indeed a birth day ... when we get sober and put down the bottle, we are actually beginning to live, to be in the world. The beginnings of sobriety are truly infancy years, just learning how to figure out how the world works and how to be another living being interacting and interfacing with others. There is a LONG learning curve -- in the program of AA. And, I learned the painful life lesson that you don't "graduate" from AA and forget about working on your recovery. It will come back to bite you in the ass and remind you that you are not the one in charge.

My sponsor was at the meeting last night where I celebrated my AA birthday -- complete with cake. Her only words to me were: "You are officially a sober adult and it's evident that you are living like one." I really took that in. Chronologically, I am more than double my sobriety age and, the Truth is, I really am just beginning to live like an adult.

It is said that the age we begin drinking is the age we stop growing emotionally. Alcohol halts this development and we stay "stuck". That would mean for me that I have been a perpetual 16 year old ! Still at that place of not really knowing who I was, who I wanted to be. Constantly looking to the outside to define myself and my feelings. Both awkward and clingy in relationships. Wanting to individuate yet victorious only in rebellious ways. Full of anger and fear. Not wanting to "belong" anywhere so that I did not have to experience being abandoned -- kill off rather than be killed.

On my actual 21st birthday, I got so wasted that I missed most of it. I was still in college and stayed that summer so I could drink in a bar legally (even though I'd been sneaking into them and getting served illegally since I was 19). I blacked out and passed out by mid-day, lying on a lawn chair while others polished off the keg I bought. 

When I was 21,  I was physically dependent on alcohol,  the consumption of which included desperately trying to fend off regular panic attacks.

When I was 21,  I was raped during a drunken episode.

When I was 21,  I became pregnant from that rape incident and had an abortion.

When I was 21,  I graduated from college,  having attended 5 years versus 4 so that I could extend my period of drinking and not be responsible for having to get a "real" job.

What a contrast to experience my 21st AA birthday -- wide awake, present, fully engaged with people and life, in reality. Those former ways of being in the world seem foreign and so distant. It is a life that was lived with the "who was" that existed then. As it is said in The Promises: "We won't regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." I have to remember this time, as it is a sobering reminder of both the impact of alcohol and of not working a recovery program. I don't ever have to live that way again.

It is a relief and a joy to have a second chance in Life and to turn 21 in a brand new way.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Laid to Rest ...

070710-F-7939S-103 by AnthonyItalia
070710-F-7939S-103, a photo by AnthonyItalia on Flickr.
The telltale neatly packaged American Flag indicates that a military person of honor is the one being laid to rest.

This very scene depicted in the photo is familiar. 18 years ago today, my father was found dead in his sleep and what would follow was a military funeral to honor his service as a Marine in the Korean War.

There is a way, particularly through my healing work, that I have literally "laid him to rest". I have been freed of crippling resentments and bittnerness about our relationship and the time period he was alive. I have developed a deep compassion and understanding of his limitations based on in his state of post-traumatic stress and subsequent alcoholism.

As he was about to be put into the ground, the flag taking its prominent place atop his casket, I can remember, quite vividly, my brother falling apart as he could barely take in the reality of what was before his eyes. He kept saying "No!" and the tears poured down his face. He was barely consolable. To this day, I don't believe he has ever laid my father to rest. I believe, instead, that his memories -- some good and many bad -- haunt him. My brother was the only one of us siblings still in the house when my father died. Newly diagnosed and medicated for paranoid delusional disorder, my brother seemed to suffer the most from his exposure to the end stages of my father's alcoholism. My brother's mental illness impaired him from seeing reality and the reality that was right in front of him was just as horrifying as the delusions that lived only in his mind.

My sister had a strained and painful relationship with my father. She never made peace with him when he was alive. She kept his grandkids at a distance to get him back for all the ways he kept her at a distance. She never forgave him for kicking her out of the house at 18 when she got pregnant. And, my sister has never laid him to rest. Every year on this day, she dutifully places flowers at his gravesite. I believe this is the pentance she's given herself in an attempt to seek forgiveness for the way she shut my father out. She is riddled with guilt and remorse.

My mother, for the most part, moved on with her life after dad died. If anything, she experienced the kind of freedom that she had always wanted. Traveling, dinners with friends, decorating a space just the way she wanted, eating anytime she wanted, and going to bed with quiet and peace. I believe my mother put my father to rest long before his heart ever stopped beating permanently. She had to grieve the man she fell in love with before he was exposed to the horrors of war. That man never returned. I experience such deep sadness in my heart as I type this and think of how she remained for almost 40 more years as a living widow residing with the ghost of the man she once loved.

The one who I believe is resting most peacefully is you, dad.  It was far more torturous to be here for you.  And we are all making our way in the world without you. I think all of us, including you, are better off this way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

When the sand runs out ...

Sands of Time by jrtce1
Sands of Time, a photo by jrtce1 on Flickr.
On Saturday, I was honored and privileged to be part of a healing circle for a vibrant woman -mother of two, runner, therapist - who has been recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

I was most struck that,  by all accounts, she looks perfectly healthy. Right now, this problem is invisible. It is hard for her to fully drop into the grave reality of this for longer than a moment or so, as she too remarks that there is not yet any real evidence that she is experiencing.

This made me ponder what is the unknown destiny of my mortality ? What is MY brain tumor ? I cannot sit with this woman and be so arrogant as to think that I am lucky that I get to have a long life ... nothing is guaranteed or promised.   Dropping into this more,   I was transported to being a little girl and lying awake,  during sleep hours,  with only the glow of my nightlight,  and being terrified of the idea of death.   I think it was a way that I skimmed the surface of my relationship to the unknown and the terror that came with it.   As an adult,  thoughts of death revolved around self-centered fears of others dying and me being left -- still operating from that place of fear of abandonment.   Today,  being awake to this experience found me moved to tears of exquisiteness and preciousness for my life and what it would be like to know that I am the one leaving.   One of the first pictures that entered my mind was saying goodbye to the love of my life on the ferry last night as she stood on the deck,  the wind blowing through her gorgeous locks and feeling so in love with the beauty of all that she is.   If that was my last contact with her before dying,  I would leave here having experienced such a depth of love that perhaps some never get a taste of.   That is a gift and an appreciation of being in Life.

This precious woman we did the healing with also spoke about trying very hard to live - one day at a time. I suspect it will be one minute at a time on some days. This is what I am taught in my recovery program -- not just to keep me sober, but rather to have me fully engaged in the present moment.

On my drive home through several states last night,  in a torrential downpour,   I put on a song from Rascal Flatts -- "When the Sand Runs Out" -- and I sobbed hearing a portion of the lyrics and thinking about this woman, the preciousness of her life, of my life, of being alive and connected here, as One, with humanity.

Here are a few of those moving lines:
I'm gonna stop looking back
and start moving on
Learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here
Go out on a ledge, without any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah, I wanna be running
When the sand runs out

May each of us be in touch with the Reality that we have a not yet known brain tumor otherwise known as our inevitable death, and be in conversation and in relationship to it, so that we may live fully - right here, right now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting my feet wet ...

¿Frío? by Keep the Funk alive
¿Frío?, a photo by Keep the Funk alive on Flickr.

I am doing a "Life in review" of sorts ... not to tell my life story or recount every sordid detail but rather to feel everything that is here about this exploration of my life.

In getting my feet wet over these last few days, I have also felt like I touched the ocean floor and then back to a toe in a puddle. I am channeling more information than I thought humanly possible to receive. I have found myself on a couple afternoons lying flat on my back on the floor, waving the white flag, no longer able to embody any more material.

I know where I've been and yet I don't really know all about who I was. In a passage in my healing teacher's book this morning, he says: " ... the deepest knowledge is US and we discover ourselves anew when we find it."
I am already finding this to be quite true. I have a knack for offering logical surface explanations which gloss over deep-seated Truths. A beloved friend observed yesterday that I perhaps get fearful to sink into what I already know is underneath and opt for the safer route that is above-ground. My go-to strategy for a long time was denial --- seems to be in operation still on some level. The difference now is that I snap myself out of that trance much quicker because I recognize I am adopting a fantasy story over the real deal biography !

So ... I've got my big toe wet in the waters of my Life. I believe I have the sense enough not to drown, but rather to wade for awhile, then ever so slowly dip in, deeper and deeper...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Know Love ...

As my "who is" continues to evolve and change, my understanding of Love shifts in the movement.

Last evening, I was taken by surprise by a woman I am in an intimate relationship with: I felt love that was not tainted in any doubt. I experienced her volition and desire to celebrate an event in my life that was free from the strands of each of our histories. I invited her to this gathering and when she did not affirm that she could come, I let go of my expectations.

My old story usually had this plot: have an expectation; take an action to meet the expectation; experience rejection whenever the response is not what I want; sulk in disappointment; build a resentment.

This did not happen whatsoever.

Her story goes something like this: feel the pull of another's need/want; merge this with the feeling of being smothered by her mother; suffocate and cave in from the pressure of the burden of the other; move away or kill off the other because the whole thing's too much to take OR show up out of guilt but not really be there emotionally; eventually go away because of resentment.

This didn't happen either.

Nothing short of a miracle I would say on both ends.

I looked at her, really looked at her, for the very first time with eyes that were not wanting anything from her but to just drink in her beauty. I experienced her wanting to be there, to be with me, of her own accord.

Each of us has a separate Self that wants to connect with the other. No efforting is needed. No strings attached.

This is a taste of what is yet to come.

I have felt the drops on my tongue of what it is like to know Love ...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Freedom from Shame ...

Falling Up by Boy_Wonder
Falling Up, a photo by Boy_Wonder on Flickr.
5 years ago on this date I was freed from a relationship in which I overstayed my welcome.
I did not leave willingly but rather by force. I made an admission that I had not loved her for many years. In reaction to this shattering news, she exploded into a rage and sent me out of our home with 1 packed bag, while hurling small items from the coffeetable at me as I fled out the front door up the street into the dark of night.

I can relay that story today, free of shame. I know what my part was in the demise of our relationship. I was dishonest -- about nearly everything and the kicker is --- I wasn't fully aware of it. Denial is powerful and quite false form of protection from seeing, hearing, speaking, feeling and knowing reality. And, I was chained to fear of every kind.

My healer shared with me that I am tearing through the illusions of my life so that I can clearly see Reality and be exactly who I am. As I see it, I have no other choice. I cannot return to the contracted and terrified version of a Self that I once was.

In a recent conversation with a trusted companion, I spoke about claiming my rightful place in communities which carry labels that have been stigmatized by society:

I am an alcoholic. It reminds me that I cannot drink safely - ever. It offers me entrance to an AA meeting anywhere in the world because I am a bottle-free member !

I am a lesbian. I want to be visible and take pride in the fact that I am a woman who loves a woman. It is no longer a psychiatric diagnosis nor a derogatory slur as I stand tall in this community of others who are also loving who they desire.

I have working class roots. I was raised by a steel worker and a housewife. We had enough money to get by. I am quite familiar with having a K-mart wardrobe and canned vegetables and church basement socials.

Shame about all of the above came from fear of how I would be judged and seen. Freedom from shame finds me embracing ALL of who I am and not caring so much about how others view me.

What a joy to no longer need to pretend or defend. To not experience a bondage of Self.

Lady GaGa croons: "Baby you were born this way ..." When I hear this song, I rejoice in knowing: "God created me just as I am."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Space Solid ...

In one of our non-dual healing practices, Impersonal Movement, there is a part of the practice that is called: "Making Space Solid". It is the place where we are experiencing the Impersonal Space of densities or threads in our Personal body.

When we're not present to this activity that is always here, it remains "unknown" until we do a practice such as this and make an intention to be awake and then it becomes more known, felt, even seen.

My current relationship exists primarily as a concept that is in "space" -- a phenomenon not so unlike the threads that come more into awareness when we become awake to them. When my eyes have opened more to this idea, I became aware that our relationship does not actually involve functioning as a couple in real time in a meaningful way. We have not made space solid. Our relationship is a conglomeration of threads that had been entwined, knotted, then floating quite separately and, occasionally, touch and intersect in lovingly connected ways. It's a rather galactic relationship with great vastness,  shimmering spots amid the dark and not much visitation time spent on Earth.

My experience of this at the present time is that I have my feet on the ground with an invitation for her to do the same. She has been orbiting and hovering -- in and out of view. Sometimes, she is stuck, part of a stalled weather system that is behind a lot of clouds. We've occupied very different spaces.

I get glimpses of her travel patterns and have experienced her willingness to touch ground. She is still very much connected to her Mothership ... it is a huge vessel with a lot of wires and cables. It is familiar and daunting and it is the only home she's known. To leave it for very long is frightening and fills her with grief. I empathize with the pain and ache that comes with this.

So herein lies our relational dilemma: I am interested in making space soild. She, on the other hand, does not know if she can free herself of the Mothership and where she wants to land and with whom. I sense that she may be more comfortable as an astronaut while I am clearly the gardener.

So, I keep sowing seeds, pulling out weeds, and attending to what I've planted. My intention is to continue gardening and growing and blooming. I'd love the company in this patch of Life and I am aware that it may only be the view of her hanging out in mid-air ...

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Before creation, there is an enfolded state. It is not ready to be birthed. It is still a mystery.

And then, the unravelling happens and something that was not yet known in its enfolded state appears and it is miraculous and beautiful and sometimes unexpected.

17 years ago today, on this date, on a Sunday, I was making a commitment via a small ceremony to a woman that I knew was not the right one for me. I ignored the inner voices and I made a decision from my poisoned ground -- my fears of being alone and abandoned and not connected to someone. And I remember feigning great joy and convincing myself that this was wonderful and the absolute right thing to do, afterall I was 32.

We went to Denny's that morning and got breakfast and she was smoking cigarettes one after the other in the car and I even ignored how repulsed I was by the smoke.    That evening at the reception,  I watched her chugging down non-alcoholic beers and dismissed the very early signs of what was to become a full blown relapse years later.

I stayed for another 12 years, trying to quiet the increasingly louder voices until I could not turn a deaf ear any longer. I could not live this way for another minute.

I sit on my porch today --- having lived on my own for 4 years, not fearful, and in deep connection with many wonderful souls. The "who is" sitting here had been enfolded for decades, just waiting to be lived into her truest Self out into the world.

I am but a sliver of who that woman was 17 years ago. We still share the same historical wounds, yet the one who resides here now is awake and able to be with the material that gets activated and knows what to do.

This became quite evident in a powerful, mature and deeply grounded discussion with a woman I love yesterday. Two people who were able to connect from fully individuated places to talk about big Life stuff and what we each want and what may need to happen in order to move forward.

This could not be possible had I not been unravelled into the Who I am today. The same goes for her.

There isn't even a whisper that goes unnoticed now. I give great attention to what I am sensing and how I'm being guided.  The decisions I make about whether to be or not to be with someone will come from this awakened place,  lovingly detached from my history.   I will never have to push away the Reality of Life again because I can bear what I hear and what is here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting to the Lake ...

Morning Blues by tropicaLiving
Morning Blues, a photo by tropicaLiving on Flickr.
In my previous post, I detailed a healing trek through a forest alone in order to get to the lake. I never lost sight of this mission: I wanted to be in the healing waters.

A classmate/friend sat with me yesterday to do a healing. He helped me to recognize that this "getting to the lake" included a process of trusting my inner wisdom; being lost and confused; asking for God's help; continue moving forward.

Where I am today re: my current intimate relationship has a great deal to do with "getting to the lake". I have experienced all of the above and more. We are at a crossroads of sorts. For me, it is a pivotal one. It involves whether I continue moving forward with her or without her. And, I have no illusions about this "great lake that will save us" either. It is about taking the next steps and moving into the solidness of the lake's structure and building a boat so that we can float and sail in its healing waters. And yes, there are mud and rocks on its bottom. There are flies, mosquitoes and other pesky creatures that live there. The lake is enclosed by majestic trees all around it and nothing but sky above. There is spaciousness and freedom here too. All is included and needed.

In these past 3 plus years, I have always held the big picture of getting to the lake. I did not know if it would be with her or not, yet it's always been my greatest wish.

What I do know is that I am committed to the journey and putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Forest Knows Where I Am ...

The Eye of the Forest by CheGuevara-Paul
The Eye of the Forest, a photo by CheGuevara-Paul on Flickr.
"No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, you are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you." ~ David Whyte

On a recent retreat of my spiritual community, I experienced a profound healing that involved being in the thick of deep woods, alone, to find my way to a lake on the other side. This journey found me face-to-face with the morph of my poisoned ground: "The unknown is dangerous and confusing and means that I need to run away and avoid anything that wreaks of it."

I followed ribbon markers until there were no more visible. I panicked multiple times. I was encouraged through a friend's text to turn around and I refused. This old historic narrative would no longer be the one I operated from -- I can't expend energy any longer for fear of moving in the wrong direction and in anticipation that something dreadful will happen. The juice of life is actually recognizing the danger for what it is and knowing that moving toward it and even jumping in it can be trusted.

In the middle of the forest, I called out to God for help. I asked to be guided and shown the next step. I stood still and paused, feeling my heart beat rapidly. I looked at the compass on my phone and took small steps North and East as I was instructed by the manager of where I was staying. In the distance, a blue plastic bag hung on a branch, dangling in the slight breeze. I trusted this sign. I moved toward it and then in its direction. Surely a former traveler did this out of kindness when there were no more markers. "Thank you God."

I eventually came out to a civilized path and made my descent toward the lake. A friend was awaitng me there and I ran to him, tears of joy and relief streaming down my face in deep appreciation for what transpired. I followed my inner compass, the wise sage within, listening to God's guidance to direct me to safety.

My healer said so poignantly in a lecture during this retreat: "Reality is whole, on-going, fully in relationship. We are made to hear this."

There is no place that God isn't. The forest knows where I am.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Booze Isn't Choosey

Diversity on the Patio by Life University
Diversity on the Patio, a photo by Life University on Flickr.
On the Sunday Big Book call last night with people in my healing community, we finished the Foreward to the 2nd Edition. One of the lines that really stuck out for me was this one:

"Alcohol being no respecter of persons ..."

Every age, ethnicity, gender expression, IQ, socioeconomic and religious background is susceptible to the cunning, baffling, powerfulness of alcohol.

Most people's professions or backgrounds, unless included in their sharing, are not known and, not important. Alcoholism is the great equilizer ... how smart you are or how poor you are or how professional or not you are has no weight. If you got this thing, you earned your seat in the rooms of AA.

I remember how I judged my blue-collar working father for the way he sat in that recliner chair and drank himself into oblivion every night.   I was cocky enough to think:  "I will NEVER be like him."  And as soon as I began to put booze down my throat,   I became just like him and perhaps even sloppier and more deplorable.   Alcohol is no respecter of persons ...  

As I type, I understand now why some of the rough-around-the-edges guys I've come to love and respect in AA often don't make a fuss over how much sobriety time someone has. They often shout after a person says their anniversary date: "Get another day!" They keep things one day at a time because I believe that they are reminding folks to not let time accumlated be a "status" that can cause people to become arrogant, feel superior, and, more importantly, become complacent with their program. As a friend of mine says: "My disease is always there waiting for me -- patient and doing push-ups."

Sitting in the rooms of AA has brought about a humility for me that has helped me soften judgments, biases, and stereotypes. It has right-sized me. What I do in the world means diddly squat when I am seated in a chair in an AA room. I am just another bozo on the bus. And sometimes, converse to my role as a teacher, I need to sit down, shut up and listen to

Cause booze isn't choosey. And I don't want to be the one it's pointing to.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flying Blind

sky lover by kahyinG ♥
sky lover, a photo by kahyinG ♥ on Flickr.
A Sunday night call involving members of my healing community reading and reflecting on the Big Book of AA is evolving into a significant source of light, strength and comfort for me.

As we read the 2nd edition to the Foreward last evening, the phrase "Flying Blind" was used to describe the earliest efforts of Bill W. and Dr. Bob in the actual formation of what we now know as Alcoholics Anonymous. We all remarked on the risk, the courage, the faith and the trust in God that was at the heart of their actions. They never strayed from their mission and kept moving in forward momentum.

On a call this morning with one of the members of this group, who is a beloved companion to me, we marveled again in the miracle of these pioneering efforts and how grateful we are to have recovery resources at every turn -- something I never want to take for granted.

And, even more so, the act of flying blind.

This is the ultimate in trusting God.

Birds fly under all circumstances. This is what they are made to do. They flap their wings in pitch black dark and do not question whether or not it's safe or okay or worth it. They fly ... because this is their God-given nature. 

Flying blind is moving ourselves to do what God has intended us to do. What a beautiful way to begin each day if I can remember this.

"God, I trust in your presence where I move myself today. The most important thing is that I do."

Friday, July 8, 2011

This is what I'm made to do ...

I titled this photo a couple of months ago during my wabi sabi exploration. I realize today that I was pre-figuring a mantra for myself that would have great significance in the interview process for a full time tenured teaching position at my local Community College.

During my interview yesterday with the Associate President and Vice President of Academic Affairs, I was asked this question to begin:
"Why us, why now?"
I smiled and my heart was beating wildly. I paused to compose my excitement and replied:
"Because this is what I'm made to do. I am called in every waking moment to teach."

In that moment, I could feel the intimacy of this trinity of women form and it would continue to develop as the interview went on.

Just before pulling into the parking garage at the College prior to the interview, I was talking and praying aloud to God -- asking for guidance, to feel God's presence with me and working through me. A statement came very clearly to me: "I am the work God has created me to do." This is exactly what I carried with me into the interview.

It is an incredible feeling to know what I am made to do. There is no other efforting that needs to be done when I am the work. All that is required is that I suit up, show up and let God flow.

I received an email late last night to inform me that I have been recommended to move up and there is one last person to meet with at the College (THE President of Academic Affairs). I am not attached to the outcome of obtaining the position, yet would very much like to receive it ! The most important part of this journey is the unfolding itself. The awareness of the work that I am, fulflling God's purpose for me here on Earth.

So whether I am hired or not, I wake up and I teach in whatever capacity and opportunity that is presented to me.   It is a choiceless choice.  This is what I'm made to do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tending to the Weeds in My Garden

In my favorite Tue night AA mtg, we read Step 7. Perfect timing to compliment a session I had with my healer that very afternoon.

A wise man in our group and someone I am honored to call my friend, spoke about the character defects of Step 7 as the weeds in his garden. They'll always come up and it's the ones that we don't tend to that overtake the garden if not given the right care. Step 7 is humbly asking God to remove them ... or at least to have them be manageable !

I looked at this helpful analogy in a variety of ways in relationship to my healing session about poisoning ground --- how fitting if we're talkin' weeds here !

The garden that is me has both flowers and weeds -- every plot of soil that grows us humans contains it all. That very soil that I have been trying to cultivate and grow myself over the years has suffered some damage from what was mixed in with my dirt ... that would be the tainted soil of my family and all of its dysfunction. I was raised in muddy ground, steeped in secrecy, criticalness, unavailability, chaos and with things hidden all over. I knew as a kid that my garden had all sorts of weeds that didn't feel like they belonged and whenever I wanted to name what was wrong, I was halted in my tracks. It was dangerous to say the Truth, to speak about the Reality that was right in front of my eyes --- a gaping, choking weed on one end with deeply entangled roots on the other.

My character defects arise from this very soil I speak of and, over the years, are complicated by and are the grundge underneath my alcoholism. Once we begin to work the program of AA, just putting down the bottle is not enough and does not magically eliminate these defective weeds ! If anything, they just become more magnified because they're no longer blurred by the booze. And, they are the very thing that will ruin the garden we're trying to re-build and grow soberly if they're not properly attended to.

So this is where the big G comes in: God the Gardener with the Master Plan. If I have worked my Steps 1-3 and now can have some faith in a power greater than myself, then start cleaning up my house in Steps 4-5, I can become ready to have these weeds removed. I have to do this humbly. I have to be willing. Most importantly, I have to trust God. If I try to do my own gardening without guidance, I am a weed whacker with blinders on, just trying to plow through everything. And the weeds will just come back and sometimes with full force, overtaking not just my garden but impacting others' gardens.

This is where the power of my healing session comes in. The infestation of my overgrown defective weeds into the gardens of others is my own poisoning ground in action. If I am not awake and conscious of this, I blame them and their gardens for messing up mine ! There's the self-centered fear of Step 7 rearing its ugly head !

So my work, as I see it today, is to be aware of the weeds in my garden. To tend to each with the same care as I give to the flowers. To ask God to help remove them and to ask for God's guidance to keep my ground fertilized, watered, nurtured, and nourished. To be awake to not only my garden but the gardens of others. To want the same beauty and growth and aliveness for my fellow human. To not taint the ground of another with whom I am in relationship. To keep my petals toward the shining light of the Universe that only wants me to flourish.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom Through Acceptance

Freedom by ♀Μøỳαл_Bгεлл♂
Freedom, a photo by ♀Μøỳαл_Bгεлл♂ on Flickr.
A very fitting reading this morning on Independence Day was from the book "As Bill Sees It' and the title of the passage is the same title as this post. I have read this before and always feel its powerful punch. My favorite lines are as follows:
"We neither ran nor fought. But accept we did. And then we began to be free."

This, for me, describes both the moment I could no longer take another drink and every moment after in which I have felt the utter defeat of my powerlessness over any thing.

My recent financial issues brought me to this place. No running and no fighting ... when you are out of self will run riot choices, then you have the choiceless choice to make ... surrender and accept. I just wrote about this yesterday ... being ill over this Holiday is not something I could run from or fight off. My body is on strike, period. So, lay down and kick off your sandals and accept that this is here for you in this moment. I did just that.

And then we began to be free. I appreciate the word "began" ... this is a practice that I must do every day. To begin to be free is to taste what that feels like so that I want to do it again. But, inevitably, I have my days of taking my will back. And then, it's back to the beginning. So why wouldn't I always want to be free ? My answer: I do. Just sometimes I think that getting there is about doing it my way ! There's the illusion. I'm not trusting God's plan when I am acting out in control mode. And, it's not True freedom when I've taken my will back ... it ends up leaving an uncomfortable ripple in my system that feels dishonest and inauthentic. That is my kavanah at work, which I am grateful for. A sort of internal alarm system to signal bad intentions !

The kind of freedom I have experienced when I can accept is something that is hard to quantify. It is a feeling like my entire system (mind, body, spirit) is relaxing into a calm serenity. There isn't room for an anxious thought or a resentment or a need to blame or to pity myself.

It is when I get to be just as I am and so do you and so does everything.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Love the one you're with ...

Tennis Anyone? by scottnj
Tennis Anyone?, a photo by scottnj on Flickr.
I had plans this Holiday weekend to spend time with friends in NYC, complete with a show, beach, fireworks. Instead, I am home with a chest cold. Ugh.

When life hands you lemons ... watch tennis. Turns out it's Wimbledon weekend. Finals. I used to be a fanatic viewer and literally forgot how much I love this !

This morning, as I was returning from walking the dog, my neighbor was out throwing ball with her poodle and asked how I was doing. As I replied, she could hear my stuffiness and said: "Oh, you don't sound so good." I shared with her what was happening and my canceled plans and that I was now finding solace in watching tennis on TV. She had the best response:
"Well, love the one you're with."

I used to only think of this CSNY song as a reference to promiscuity ! I never heard those words as a rather Zen, in the moment, mantra. This was a reminder to me about surrender and acceptance. Step 3 in action. What is in God's plan for me, in this moment ... I can love what it is here -- the "one" I'm with. Today, it is the men's final match at Wimbledon. It is quite exciting ! I have been stretched out on the chaise lounge, getting a course prepped and syllabus sent out for Summer 2 at the Community College while savoring the heated grunts of each player as they volley hard on the grass court. It's delightful actually.

I have also enjoyed receiving texts and photos from my sweetie as she spends the Holiday weekend with her daughter visiting family down South. I feel like I am included and have only joy in my heart for her to have this experience.

Loving the one I'm with lets me experience gratitude for what God has here for me while opening my heart to appreciate what is in the plans for others. There is no feeling sorry for my circumstances. I would have drowned myself in a river of self-pity in the past and then proceeded to blame and be resentful of others who were doing something better or more fun that I was missing out on.

I feel serenity today amid the snot and coughing. I'm gonna keep lovin' the one I'm with.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything is Waiting for You ...

The Path to Infinity by Ben Heine
The Path to Infinity, a photo by Ben Heine on Flickr.
A dear friend and healer gave me a set of David Whyte conversations on CD for a birthday present. I listen intently to one at a time, needing to have a week's space or more in between, so that I can properly digest his offerings and let his words work me.

In the most recent one I listened to, he reads one of his poems, "Everything is Waiting for You" and it halted me, my breath being sucked out of my body. I felt like he was writing about the smallest, most fearful place in me and that there was now a small spotlight on the blemishes of my core wounding to be seen in all its puss and oozing. The poem is equally healing in its gentle reminder to me that the contracted place where the story and belief of abandonment has been created is just a construct and not a Truth. He is writing, in my opinion, about how when we feel and know the presence of a Power greater than ourselves - our ONENESS with all -- there is no solitary me struggling in the world to survive but instead, as the title says,  everything is waiting for me.

The compelling words of David Whyte:

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.