Ode to Joy

For each person in our lives, there seems to be an emotional “meter”. A certain amount of emotion that we can expend for one another. When we feel tapped out or drained, usually it’s due to over giving, while not holding enough in the container to feed and support ourselves.

I have this vision that each emotion is a tiny little seedling. With the exchange of support between two people, the sprout grows; tended and cultivated it can result into a blessing of a harvest, the basket always full, always multiplying . A solo dance with the life giving force headed in only one direction creates depletion and the meter runs low. At some point, that blessed tank hits empty. Good luck attempting to manufacture anymore. The seedling dries up, curling into itself and gently blowing away like the last puffs of smoke from a busted muffler. Unless balance is restored, the relationship is doomed to end up in the trash bin of misery and discontent. The capacity for love, understanding, acknowledgment, compassion and kindness are seeds of fortune just as stark in contrast to the seeds of discontent, judgment, violence, hatred and greed.

An Native American elder explained to his grandson that we all have a dark wolf and a light wolf living within us. When the grandson asked which will one will win the battle, the Grandfather replied, “the one you feed.” So it is with our emotional and spiritual lives. We will always be challenged by others as well as our dark side; to be less than we are, to fall into judgment, to take more than we give. To be conscious of our ways marks the delineation point between our reactionary dark side and the light of awareness. Whether are thoughts and actions are from being fully awake or sleepwalking, we are making a choice with every touch, every turn, every word, every deed.

Allowing others to find freedom, even if it means we lose them; allowing yourself to find joy in your everyday life is no small feat. Yes, it’s scary…….but the lighter your touch, the more gentle your grip on the steering wheel, the more freedom we give ourselves to just breathe, the more room there will be for Joy ❤️

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The Blessed Dirt of Santuario de Chimayo

There are places on the face of this sweet, troubled planet, that I never thought I would visit. Being raised by a fairly pissed off, excommunicated, Italian Catholic Mother, the church and all of its offerings never really appealed to me. I learned as a young teenager the cause for my Mothers hostility and bitterness and, I must admit, I agreed with her.

When my Mother was at her most vulnerable, laid out on the floor by the discovery of her husbands adulterous affair with her best friend and subsequent divorce, the church turned its back on her. She was sent packing – the compassion and inclusivity of that which the church preached was sorely lacking when my Mother reached out to it for comfort. It has taken me many, many years to forgive the church for that. In some ways, I am a more compassionate person due to watching her struggle with the isolation and rejection she endured. Compassion resulting from emotional cruelty – strange bedfellows indeed.

When I was presented with the opportunity to visit Santuario de Chimayo, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go. Would my self righteous indignation for the way my Mother was treated flare up? Could I see my way through the enormous contrasts and contradictions within my own heart? I will tell you now that I couldn’t visit the entire site. However, I did visit the vestibule of the church which housed the blessed dirt room where people with all sorts of maladies, whether physical, emotional or spiritual embark on a pilgrimage to touch the sandy earth; holding, rubbing, praying, crying, hoping and finding peace within the walls of that sacred space.

While I was waiting on a bench just outside for my turn to touch the place that had brought so many healings, I witnessed a man and a woman – she was standing barefoot in the dirt and he had bent down on all fours, laying his hands on the earth so that she could lean on him. They stayed that way for quite some time. The intimate nature of the scene was incredibly poignant and I closed my eyes to give them privacy while turning my thoughts inward. I reflected on the support I have received from so many beautiful souls, just as she was receiving that sweetness from her husband.

Walking out, they sat back on the benches and closed their eyes to rest and reflect. A calling to touch this woman was undeniable. I resisted, thinking that I would be intruding into the sacredness of her experience; I resisted, not wanting to feel foolish; I resisted not knowing if it was my place. Through all of those doubts, I walked across the narrow room and kneeled before her. As she opened her eyes and saw me there, I gently placed both of her feet in my hands and began to gently massage them. To be of service, to stand in the light, that was all that was needed.

When I finished, she reached out to me and we embraced – both crying, both holding each other tightly for quite some time. In this moment, this very tender moment, I was able to let go of any lasting bitterness or resentment that I once carried for this way of loving God.

We all have a path to walk. Every single one of them is inordinately opulent, dark, troubled, joyful and as individual as we are. Only we can know which path will bring us into the light. The road to Mecca begins with a single step.

Temporary Times

The land takes over what our hands have laid aside.

As without…….so within.

Visiting a special area of Ghost Ranch with the photography class yesterday, I was struck by the eroding beauty of the man made structures left behind. Nature needed no assistance taking back what humans were finished tending. I took this wandering into myself and realized that without “self tending” we are all set up for an erosion of our spirit; a washing away of our essence barely perceptible until we find ourselves in the darkness of chaos.

I had a teacher once say, “If you have 10 phone lines ringing and you answer one, you only have 9 left to go.” It’s not the size of the chaos that takes us down as much as the inertia of apathy and overwhelm. If we are to be individuals with the gift of self reliance we also have the greater obligation of answering those phone lines. Some calls aren’t meant for us; some of them will have our name written all over them. That is where discernment must step in and guide us to the truth. Take a moment…….listen to the message…….decide if you are the true recipient.

It is a magnificent state of being to be of service but we all might do well to remember that self reliance requires that we also give to ourselves.

I give myself over to clay time and time again and receive multiple blessings in return. What are you giving yourself over to? Is it worthy of your precious, precious time? Or, is it an excuse to avoid your own self reliance?

As within…….so without ❤️

The Beauty of “Ish”

Perfection is a harsh task master. It is a never ending gravel road of sharp wits, unforgiving, withering self criticism and a ink filled hole full of isolation from oneself. It is a the combination of self doubt fueled by exorbitantly crushing expectations placed squarely on our shoulders by the operator themselves.

Perfection is where dreams go to die. It is where we take all that we are and decide, day in and day out, that we are not enough. It feels as heavy in the body as a 7 day donut binge. It’s a drug; a fuel for consuming our desires; a lover who will never return our affection. And then at some point, since we can never attain perfection……..we ask ourselves, Why go on? Why pursue our dreams when it just ends up in disappointment?

The beauty of this Life is not in the attainment of perfection. The Japanese call it Wabi Sabi – that things are more beautiful because of their imperfections. The beauty of this Life is doing what we love to do, since the time is going to pass no matter how we spend it and let the liberation of our best efforts combined with our connection to the creative be enough. I’ll be there around 7ish; it’s finished for the most part; it’s a work in progress; I’m a work in progress; we are ALL a work in progress – and tomorrow, I’m gonna be alright. “Ish” is not an excuse – it is a softening of the cold hard edges of self sabotage. A willingness to give ourselves a pass to the next day, the next creation, the next adventure.

The beauty of knowing we are doing, being and having our best selves within all that we know while honoring our authenticity AND honoring the best within our loved ones – for me, that is of greater service to the higher good of all then following a infinite dark hallway toward the whipping post of fractured intentions and excuses.

Create…………and let that be enough ❤️

Keeping My Word

As a long practicing Massage Therapist, whenever a client wouldn’t schedule after their appointment I would always say, “I am here whenever you need me.” And I meant it.  Fast forward 22 years, and I am now standing on the precipice of my own move and evolution as a person, a therapist, an artist.  I am the person who isn’t rescheduling………..

In a very vulnerable way, I have gone through the emotional tumult of feeling as though I’m not keeping my word.  I have always been a loyal kind of girl; once I call someone my friend they are my friend. Period.  As a lot of us do, I never thought things would change.  I thought that I would always be here for my clients and I could be, at times, the one stable place that they could come to to get out of the chaos of daily life.  And then…………things change, life happens and we either recognize it, readjust our sails and lean into it or we resist it and allow the friction to envelop us.

Clay has taught me that, as in life, there are more things in motion than I am aware of.  I may have a “fixed” idea of how I want a piece to turn out and honestly, that just sets me up for either disappointment or revelation, and it’s all about how I view it.  With our impending move to the mountains of Western North Carolina all of the seats of the emotional roller coaster are available to me.  It’s my choice which one I sit in.  Should I sit in the front seat leaning into the wind, the change and the excitement?  Or do I sit in the back with a look of abject terror strewn across my face, hoping and praying the bird that just flew by doesn’t crap in my face? The position I choose changes on a daily basis, sometimes hourly.  But, in a beautiful, messy, sort of way, that’s what the freedom to choose is all about.  Our emotional “being-ness” isn’t supposed to be a final destination, it’s a journey.

As I say Goodbye to all the clients and friends that I have made over the past few decades, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will STILL be there whenever they need me.  In this chapter, it may be a phone call, a thought, a wish of light moving toward them, but I will hold them in my heart wherever change takes us all. And I know, just as the sun rises tomorrow, they will be there for me.

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A “Dear John” letter to my fears

Dearest Fears;

We have been together for such a long time.  I have found common ground with you.  I have found comfort with you.  I had you when no one else would listen, especially me.  We have had our share of dramas, conflicts, arguments and truces.  I thought we would be together forever……..but…….I have a confession to make;

I’ve met someone else.  I never thought there would be anything else in my life.  What’s their name you ask?  Well, um, it’s kind of awkward and strange, but, um, you see, their name, well there name is Clay.  That’s right – I’m leaving you for the stuff that comes from the earth.  The rich, earthy, slightly grainy and oh so fundamental part of life.  Grounding and comforting in a way that I never felt with you.  Where you would rile me up, twist me around, create worry and trembling, well, you see, clay just loves me.  It whispers to me that I can do it, whatever “it” is.  Apply to that show, submit for that exhibition, call that gallery, grow bigger, brighter and better than I ever thought possible.  Clay has released me from you – my beloved fear of failing.  It has released me from the painful fear of rejection,Natures Mantle from my self imposed chains of taking a chance, of taking a risk, of reaching for freedom.

Sweet fear, I have really enjoyed our time together.  You know my most intimate insecurities and self doubts.  Leaving you will be one of the hardest and yet bravest things I have ever done.  Believe me, I have cried many times over this decision.  I have reached and then withdrawn back into the comfort of your arms. But, if I am to grow into what I have only dreamt of, I have to go.  I have to learn to live without you.  I promise I won’t talk badly of you or put you down.  You and I have had a beautifully tragic relationship and I will, in a very odd way, treasure it.  I can do this because of what you have taught me.  Hard won wisdom has been gained by knowing you and I thank you for all of the lessons.  I don’t think we can be friends…….it just wouldn’t work out.  I would start calling too much and you would start answering.

So, I am setting you free.  I have to go now……..Clay is calling and I mustn’t be late.

I will miss you……..for awhile.

The Beauty of Trust

Many times in my life, I have come to a crossroads.  Whether it was with a person, situation, direction or in a moment of creation, I felt I needed to reach out and trust someone other than myself.  There are a lot of folks that would LOVE to tell me what to do!  And, there are sometimes, I do so desperately desire to give up control and let someone else run my life and make the decisions.  But, having lived through a few of these experiences, I have learned a few things.

1.  When you ask someone for their advice, opinion or viewpoint, be ready for the answer.  It may not be the answer you long for or one that you expected.  But, if you have chosen that individual for their insight, be prepared to receive it.  

2.  Check your own agenda, and their motivations.  Not everyone has your best interests in mind; they have theirs.  Whether it is unconscious or not, they are speaking from what they want and desire.  It’s human nature…….sort of. Which leads to the next point…….

3.  Ask an expert.  If I need help with a financial situation, I will ask a financial expert.  If I need help with creativity, or relationships, or cooking……..I will ask someone who has a much higher level of expertise than I possess.  I want to grow, not have somebody else agree with me.  

4.  Having a few people you trust is priceless.  How many people do you really need to trust?  One, five, twenty?  In my experience, I have a couple of people that I trust with my life.  I also have a few people that I trust with certain areas of my life.  Sometimes trust is only needed per subject area.  I am happy to pay someone for their expertise because it is an even energy exchange.  If you truly want to learn, pay someone for their knowledge.  You will walk away with fresh new insight, and they will walk away being compensated for their brilliance.

5.  Trust your own voice.  If you are in doubt, ask someone for their input.  Listen, acknowledge what they are saying, process it, but if it doesn’t fit for you and your life, it doesn’t fit.  So many times we KNOW the answer, we are just looking for validation. That’s fine, but to constantly rely on other people’s input about your own path will lead you to dependency and, one day, you might look back and realize this isn’t your beautiful life.  It’s everyone’s idea of your beautiful life.

6.  Trust that the Universe, God and your higher self “has got your back”. This has been the most difficult for me.  I’m a “can do” kind of gal.  I never want to feel indebted to anyone.  But here’s the secret…….if your intentions are clear and true, what you are working to bring to life will happen. The higher powers that be – they want you to ask.  Life breeds life…….beauty breeds beauty.  

7.  Get clear……..really clear.  By asking for someone else for their viewpoint, you are sometimes getting clear on what you don’t want in this world and that’s just fine.  Most of time, I have figured out what I do want by figuring out what I don’t.  Finding your own voice is sometimes messy with a few failures thrown in for good measure.  But the question is,  What else is worth doing?  Every day is a new chance to figure it out…….

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