love · money · power

Head of Household.

10.18.18.pngIn the continued quest to unwrap the new question of love and power that I stumbled upon the other day — whether a person could have both — I’m remembering a moment when J and I were walking up in the suburban hills near my apartment a while back.

We’d been bandying around the idea that he take some time off, that maybe I become the breadwinner for a while, as he got a new business venture running that would only earn a stipend-like amount.  We were crossing this foot bridge overlooking a fancy suburban schoolyard, watching children play soccer on the neat, always-manicured plastic turf.  We were leaning on the concrete ledge of the bridge, and I experienced a gut-freezing moment.  A sudden pang of anxiety, as I considered what that would really mean to have to earn enough to support us both, and a family.

Some major financial things would have to change.  I would probably have to choose a different career.  I would need to work more.  I would need to count the pennies.  I would need to say no to things.  Maybe there wouldn’t be vacations for a while, or museum memberships, or dinners out.  Suddenly my brain became filled with spreadsheets and numbers and a sodden anxiety of trying to keep the whole ship afloat. …

My breath became shallow.  I saw the disparity between what I could currently afford and what I would need to afford to make a family life work for us.  It was dizzying.

I turned to him in this mild hysteria and asked: “Is this what men feel like when they feel they have to be the breadwinner??”

He wryly smiled and replied, “Yes.”

Love, and Power.

It is not merely women then, or, speaking for myself, merely me, who feels confused, torn, afraid that we cannot have both love and family and a life that feels fulfilling to our passions and goals.

I felt sudden, markedly new waves of empathy for every breadwinner.  (Including my father.)

(I also note here that single parents, gender non-conforming, non-hetero, adoptive, foster, POC, immigrant, differently-abled, parents of differently-abled have all these same financial anxieties and challenges — plus a whole additional mess of anxieties and challenges of which I cannot conceive, and I am drastically humbled and awed.)

I realized on that bridge the sweeping assumptions I’d made and held: that it was in any way “not that hard.”  That it was “easy” for the man to provide because they earned a dollar to my sixty cents (white men at least).  That they should just “suck it up” because this was their intended role, modeled since infancy. …

I suddenly saw with new eyes why J was so focused on financial success, why he struggled so hard, why he chose this business-suit life instead of the entrepreneur-t-shirt one he dreamed of.  I saw his challenge differently.

What I’d considered his deprivation addict, cookoo achievement bent, or Scrooge-like flaw I began to see as his battle toward providing.  (Whether this is the whole case, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter to the point.)

I began to consider the weight carried by anyone who desires to be an adult in a household.  I began to consider the decisions that person would have to make over a lifetime.  The micro and minor decisions of how to spend one’s money and time.  The decision of what area to study in school.  The decision to follow a career that wasn’t altogether fulfilling but “paid the bills.”

I had new empathy.  My perspective, and my judgment, had shifted.

Suddenly all the Google buses didn’t seem crammed with idiots driven by dollar signs.  Wall Street wasn’t just a grunting pit, but a battle for a family’s stability.

I’ve had judgment (clearly!) about the choices people make when living as a means to an end, rather than “living in the journey of every moment,” etc, etc.

As I continue to probe the “Can I have Love and Power simultaneously?” question, I notice that I’m wondering if breadwinners have been asking themselves that same question for eons.

 

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hearth · safety · vacation

What does vacation mean?

10.16.18.jpgIn today’s meditation, we were asked to listen to our “heart-felt” answers to the question: What do I want?

My answers came easily at first: Stability/Hearth; Adventure; Expression; Community/Friends.

We were then asked to probe more deeply into our answers, even if they were material!  (Deepak said those answers are “perfectly wonderful dreams(!). Dreams that may also contain further insight about your inner truth.”)

So, I asked again: What do I want?

I want vacation.  Adventure means novelty, discovery, marrow-eating, gratitude for abundance — Taking advantage of/making use of the abundance of this, my lifetime, it is my gift back to G-d!

Vacation is an expression of awe, gratitude, humility, wonder, deep appreciation, and sparking intelligence/thought and creativity.

Damn!  And I thought it was just a tan and no email! 😉

love that this is what I think vacation means.  I love the values of mine that it underscores.  I love that I want to pursue these things, suck marrow, dig the f* into the banquet of life.

I answered the question again, going further into what my dream of “hearth” meant, and came up with a soggy conclusion this morning:

Hearth, means nourishment, nurturing, dependability, rootedness, trust, foundation, place-ness, seen-ness/recognized (Oh yeah, That’s Molly).  I exist

This is my home, these are my neighbors, this is my tree. 

Also, control over this tiny world. 

No monsters. 

And then I drew a sad face with a few prison tears.  Because then, I was crying real ones.

“No monsters.”

That this “want” is in service of leading me to a life, a home, with no monsters is heart-breaking.

That one of my ultimate life desires is to craft a small world where no one is going to harm, betray, frighten, or ignore me.

Darn, that one hurts.

To acknowledge that what I am building or hope to build is based on a fear of being hurt?…  Well, what then?

I suppose it goes back to my little “I am Safe”/”You are Safe” cloud, and wouldn’t you know that as Deepak gently intoned his guided meditation this morning, he in fact said to imagine yourself enveloped by a soft white cloud!

So I did.  “You are safe.”  I drew my little kindergarten cloud in my journal, raining coins with only hearts on them this time.

I don’t want to live my life in reaction to or in service of a fear.

So, as with everything on this journey, I’ll be continuously called to notice and release, notice and release.  But first, I think I have some reckoning to do with some monsters.

 

connection · courage · loneliness

Meeting Ewoks

10.15.18.jpgThere’s always that portion in the hero’s journey when they’re out in the wilderness — alone.  In these moments, we notice the fierce determination of our hero begins to wilt.  They become prey to creeping doubts: “Is this the right path? Should I turn back? Did I make the wrong choice?

“This is so lonely.”

It’s generally accepted plotting that at this moment a friend or guide, boon or spirit materializes to boost our hero’s flagging spirits and help her to double-down on her belief in her path toward fulfillment.

One of the fears I carry most closely is that by taking steps into the new unknown, I will be alone.  A strikingly converse idea I also hold as truth is that by not being alone (by attaching myself to other people), I will never be able to attain fulfillment.

What I give myself here is a classic Catch-22:  if I move into the wilderness of “actualization” — or whatever hippie term you want to call “growing up”! — I will be alone on the journey.  Conversely, if I align myself with a partner, I will be driven off my own course by their needs, and thereby never live the fulfillment I desire.

So now what, then??

Well: Ewoks, in a word.

What I’m looking for in this world is companions who are also dragon-riders (to mix  fictional worlds).  Judgment expert that I am, I’m desperately afraid that if I align myself with a person who I deem or fear is not a dragon rider, I can’t soar myself.  That I can only have one or the other, connection or attainment.  I cannot have both.

The great part about uncovering this is that I can see that it is just a THOUGHT.  My fears and judgments love to parade around as full-fledged reality, a grotesquerie of fright and illusion.

But what a silly thought to have, no?  That I cannot be fulfilled, for any reason whatever!, is total and utter bunk.  Conjuring up a reason that strikes at the heart of my most innate fear—being alone—I am and have been tricked into thinking that it is true, because the resonance and deep-seat of that fear is so primal.

But.  Just because I believe something does not mean it is true.

Further, just because I fear something doesn’t mean it has any substance at all.

There is such vile lusciousness in the voice of the demon that says I can have only one, love or power.  (“Choose wisely.”)  Born of my greatest fears, it knows where to strike, to needle, to whisper in the dark hours.

Luckily, I have come far enough on my hero’s journey to know that thoughts can be overcome and released.  I don’t yet know how to untangle this nest, but maybe soon, I’ll run into some Ewoks who’ll ease my troubled mind, offer comfort, and fortify my courage by their companionship.

They’ll remind me that my journey — of releasing that which does not serve me, embracing the love of those whom I do, and owning the power that I am developing — is wholly, critically, and delightfully worthy.

 

 

abundance · meditation · receiving

“I choo choo choose you!”

10.12.18Today’s Deepak/Oprah meditation is entitled, Abundant Me, and our centering thought for the day is, “I choose abundance.”

The following is copied from my transcription of today’s guided work into my journal (I always write it down as I listen, since I “get” it best that way).  Frankly, I can’t put it better than they do and I’d rather re-write (and re-read) what it is they’ve said.  And until they flag me for copyright infringement, I’d love to share it with you!

What lights me up more fervently than anything else in my life?  Listen to whatever immediately comes to me — these are signs leading me to me true passion, my most heart-felt desire and, ultimately, to my destiny.

When I heed the call of my deepest desires, I fulfill my TRUE DESTINY!!  Live from a place of wonder, play, and delight. 

We’re often taught that we must abandon our natural passions as we cross the divide between childhood and adulthood.  And YET, passion is what drives me to be the very best individual I can be. !!

Today in meditation, I reconnect to my internal spark & begin to gently release my long-held stories about who I should be & become more intimately re-acquainted with who I really am.  Today, I’ll practice shining brightly as the person I was born to be, as I freely share my gifts with everyone I meet. 

Truth: what I focus on expands. 

When I do what I love, energy & prosperity flow in every way.  I may believe that living my passion & desires is out of my reach, that I’m not worthy or talented enough or brave enough to realize my dreams.  But, Oprah is here to tell me that it is my birthright (my inheritance) to receive INFINITE GIFTS from the Universe.  My desires forge the path that leads me DIRECTLY toward the fulfillment of that purpose.  Joy and abundance come effortlessly when I am paying attention to my life. 

When I pursue the moment that is lighting me up, I build one moment at a time a life filled with passion, intention, and fulfillment.  When I do what I love and give freely of myself, what I offer comes back to me in ways just FAR beyond my imagination. 

There are no limits to what I can share, or receive.  So let us open the door together to clear the way for an endless bounty of blessings.

Passion is the free-flow of energy that leads me toward the fulfillment of my dreams, desires, and purpose in life.  When I do anything with passion, I express every aspect of who I am. (wow)  Time seems to stand still as I engage in whatever activity fills me with inspiration, love, and joy. 

Without passion, life can feel flat or stale.  (mm hmm)  In the moments when I do what I love, I open the door to abundance and prosperity in all areas of my life.  It is that simple. 

As I grew up, I began to learn that what I wanted was unacceptable.  Or that it was wrong.  Or impractical.  Or selfish to go after my dreams.😦

I may feel powerless and think why bother having desires when they will never be fulfilled anyway.

As I listen to these words, what feelings come up? (sadness, low)  Do I feel connected to my passion? (No!)

When I wake up in the morning, am I usually excited about my projects and plans for the day, or do I feel lost, bored, or stuck?  If I’m not doing what I love, what thoughts or beliefs are holding me back?

Most have to do with money and worth.  Many people tell themselves I can’t make a living doing what I love😦 or That dream is simply out of reach, it is not really meant to be. 

When I hold some part of myself in reserve, I severely limit what life can bring to me, and what I can bring to life. (!)  Abundance flows when I am centered in the awareness that my true self is pure spirit, unbounded in time and place.  

Spirit does NOT PLACE LIMITS on my joy, prosperity, OR fulfillment.  It is the ego that creates limiting stories about why we cannot make enough money doing what we love.  Or that we are not worthy of prosperity.  

As I recognize that these stories are SIMPLY THOUGHTS, not the truth, I can gently let them go, and return to my natural state of

CREATIVITY

JOY and

ABUNDANCE.:)!

No matter how deeply I’ve buried my desires, they are a force of evolution and growth that can never be completely denied (addiction tries to).  I am here to fulfill a purpose in the world and my desires are clues that lead me directly to the expression of my destiny. 

As I live my Love and Purpose, I will be held in the arms of abundance (aw)

I was born to deeply receive the bounties that Spirit provides. (Oy)  All that is required of me is to say, Yes.  

Take a deep breath and receive.  Receive.  Receive. 

Approach today with certainty as I contemplate the centering thought:  I choose abundance. (mmm…)

I choose abundance. 

I choose abundance. 

 

 

abundance · scarcity · vision

Idyll

10-11-18.jpegAs I continue with my spiritual, self-progress work, I’ve been returning to the idea of “ideals.”  In some groups doing this work, we’re encouraged to write a sexual ideal (where the rub becomes, “Okay, now go become that yourself, little one.”), and in other groups, we’re encouraged to write job ideal.

Unbidden, lately I seem to be creating these lists in my head like a master paint mixer, taking a little from ex-boyfriend A, a dash of B, a dollop of C.  And then stirring in a few qualities none of them may have expressed but placed them in the “ex” category to begin with.

I’ve been coming across some of these old lists as I’ve been clearing out my shelves of files and writings and I’ve set them to the side, information for later.  Soon enough though, later will be now and I’ll have to/want to read them and see what is the same and what needs adjusting.  What qualities were important to me then that I’ve now learned are necessities?  What qualities can I release as they don’t align with my values of today?

Similarly, I’ve been inking over again and again in my head the ideal of a better commute.  Because my previous job had a 13-15 minute drive time and is now an unpredictable 45-90 minutes…each way…I am feeling a bit grim.  So, I’m looking at the numbers: what does it cost to move, do I want to move, is my home location or my workplace more important?

And then I take a breath and realize that I’m trying to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.  The ultimate truth (for me!) is that I am running myself ragged for little benefit.  My return on investment here is not gleaning me very much, so whether I live in A or B or work at A or B really makes no difference.  I’m attempting to get some feeling from a circumstance it is impossible to get it from.

What I really need to do is to write a new set of ideals, with no holds barred, no scarcity Sirens singing me onto their rocks, telling me that’s not possible, eat your crumbs you ungrateful wretch, things are better than they were can’t you just stop here suck it up and eke it out til death?  Why look to the horizon beyond, that’s not for you, you were birthed in a harbor of hardship and must exist in a harbor of hardship like every other miserable wretch on this planet? What makes you any better or different or deserving?  Head down, row your oar, eat your soggy peas.

(I do wonder if this voice is familiar to you, Reader, too?)

What I really need to do is to unfetter my eyes and unbury my heart so that I may feel into what it is I’m being called to do next.

This may be a several year process (in fact, I imagine it will be… but then again, I must remind myself humbly of the unlimited power of Grace and that I always think things will be harder than they end up being!), but it doesn’t matter initially what the “timeline” is or what the destination is.  What matters now is that I simply(!) allow myself to look up from these teensy movements of pennies here to pennies there, and open to the wider vista that is calling to me.  To notice the kind friend ushering me laughingly to join her on this warm, nuanced, burgeoning adventure.

 

growth · recovery · surrender

Friend Breakups

When I limped into recovery over 12 years ago in San Francisco and raised my hand as new to the group, I cried.

I cried with mourning and grief; I also cried with relief.

The mourning was multilayered: I was grieving for having realized how much time I’d spent battling a demon in single-handed combat—a battle I could (and would) never win but continued to launch attack after attack to get under control, to get my life, my heart, my sanity under control.  And I could not.

My efforts were meaningless, but I railed against that monster for a decade.  The opposite of “chasing the dragon,” I quickly learned the consequences of waking the beast and fought tooth and nail to put it back to sleep.  Like an overtired toddler, the beast of addiction could not be soothed with my mortal tools.

So, I cried in that meeting because of all the wounds I’d suffered in that hopeless fight.

I cried, also, because that dragon and the fight I’d waged with it had become the most constant companion I’d ever had (or at least realized I had — it would be a little longer before I came to realize the benevolent forces abundant in my life during all that hellacious time, too).

I cried in grief over the pal I knew I was coming here to say goodbye to with a finality.  Oh Palsy, the times we had!  Together, we travelled from small-town suburbia, to college-town alleyways, to South Korean karaoke bars, and all over the South Pacific.

All the way, like a boulder tumulting down a cliff face, onto a couch in San Francisco.

And here we were, you and I, palsy, having the same ol’ fight again.  The scenery changed, but nothing else had.  And I knew, ultimately, that I had to leave you to find other folks to talk with, to give me new and different ideas and new tools for walking through this marvelous miasma of existence.

And so, I cried for the loss of this dragon-friend with whom I’d traversed continents and decades.

I also cried with relief.

The clatter of swords, I call it.  That moment when you see the brave knight tete-a-tete with the gilded beast, the hero all sweaty and injured and launching her assault again and again.  And you can see, anyone watching can see, that she cannot win.  That what is happening here is a travesty of power — this is twisted and sick to make her continue to fight that monster.  What kind of sick bastard are you continuing to encourage this harm to our hero??

And the hero finally understands.  She realizes the hopelessness of winning and she lets her longsword fall.

It’s slow motion, an end-over-end descent of metal, til it clatters to the floor of the dark cave and echoes against the stone, bouncing and oscillating just a little in its death throes before it comes to a deep stop on the ground.

There is silence.

The hero stands there now, empty-handed, the dragon overhead watching this change.  This isn’t some battle tactic, this isn’t some sly made-ya-look.  Our hero has dropped all of her fight and knows that, if absolutely nothing else, her fight is over.

Relief tumults upon her in waves.  Cleansing, heaving, sobbing waves that I cried in that new room of people who understood.

I am intimately reminded of that moment today as I continue to do my work around Judgment and Control, these friends who have been with me since before the above dragon was awoken.

These two friends have been so close to me, I have thought of them as myself.  I have not seen the molecule of air there is between me and them; I have thought we were the same.

But something has begun to shift, G-d’s Infinite Crowbar prying these stranger, more insidious demons apart from me, and showing me that they are, in fact, not really me.

I have worn them as closely as my skin, and it is a painful process to pull them off, or have them pried from me.

You remember being in ballet when you were little, and you had those thick opaque tights for recitals?  And dancing in your ballet shoes, all the friction created from that movement rubbed your ankles raw?  You sucked in your breath as you danced because a smile was required, and you let those shoes and tights meld into your skin, wearing away parts of yourself, and replacing them with the fabric of this alien material.

You remember after each performance, sitting in the changing room with tightly top-bunned heads, unwrapping those gorgeous silk ribbons from around the white opaqueness, and impatiently yanking or tenderly pulling off those shoes and beginning to unfurl your tights back off down your legs?

You remember that moment when the tights are down to your feet and they have caught?  They are attached to the skin of your heel with blood and a little ooze?  It’s a moist but hard affixing, and the fabric of the tights pulls thin as you tug on it to see how deeply attached it is to your body.

You tug, you make bargains with god, you tell yourself “1,2,3” but start back at 1 when you’ve chickened out.

Sometimes in that moment, you take a deep breath, steel yourself, and rip it off.  You watch the raw patch of skin saturate with new blood and maybe begin to pool into real droplets.  Sometimes in that moment, you know you’re too scared to handle it on your own, and you ask a friend to come and just do it and, like how you do with a phlebotomist, you look the other way while they do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

I am right now both the puller and the asker for help in the pulling.

Judgment and Control are so enmeshed in my person that this individuation is painful, raw, grief-laden, and … a relief.

 

consistency · self-acceptance · self-knowledge

Fidelity

For a few years now, I’ve had “clear New Jersey boxes” on my list of “to do”s.  I’ve generally said, Oh this is too much, I’ll wait until it’s summer break… winter break… spring break… and so it’s been 6 years since those boxes came with me from my childhood home in NJ when my dad was selling it.

For whatever reason, it has happened that I’ve been drawn to clear out these boxes lately.  A few weeks ago, I began moving from box to box, shelf to shelf, drawer to brimful drawer of notebooks and folders and binders.  I have kept a lot of crap.

But in and amongst that crap are important pieces of my life and—as I’ve realized in the culling of it all—my self.

I can categorize every paper and folder and notebook into the following:

  • Performance (theater & music)
  • Spiritual progress (in subcategories of finance & underbeing, relationship & sexuality)
  • Math & Science
  • Creative Writing & Visual Art
  • Education & Teaching

That’s it.  My life on a librarian’s studiously categorized bookshelf!  5 categories that sum up the whole of me, my interests, my passions, and my goals.

What feels humbling and calming about this revelation is that I can more easily attend to the axiom, “To thine own self be true.”

While categories may be added or quizzically sussed out (does piloting count as science? is sailing education or spiritual progress?), the need for perfect sorting isn’t what strikes me today.  What I notice is that all my choices for over 10 years can be shuffled generally into these areas, and I am so glad of it!

It means that I am consistent, that my choices are consistent — even and especially when I feel lost about some aspect of what’s happening in my life, I now know that I have a template of myself.  5 colors.

Does this choice adhere to my color scheme?  If not, is it a choice I’m making for myself, or for somebody else?  If this choice does adhere to these categories, am I really giving it its due?  Am I paying attention to what it’s telling me, or am I scuttling it under a rug muttering, “It’s not that important”?

I have many a lumpy rug.

As I continue to sift through the accumulation of my years, I am finding a piece of pride in knowing these are the anchors of my being.  I can stand firmly and state with conviction that I love math, that I seek spiritual progress, that I foster my own and others’ education.

To know facts about myself, in this waylaying storm of daily emotions and tasks, is a relief and a boon.