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.